TPM News

A U.S. District Court judge's ruling yesterday halting the federal funding of embryonic stem cell research with a preliminary injunction pending a trial has left the scientific community stunned, and Congress wondering if any next steps are possible in an election year. The administration's silence isn't unexpected, but it's more surprising that senators or members of Congress known to be supportive of stem cell research haven't commented.

While U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth explicitly stated the government is barred from taking "any action whatsoever" in his ruling, several experts TPM contacted said it's not clear if scientists will need to stop work already in progress or if they will just be restricted from obtaining any new funding. Even the lawyers for the plaintiffs told the Washington Post they need Lamberth to clarify the existing versus new funding question. But people in both the legal and scientific fields believe the temporary injunction makes research funding even more restrictive than it was under former President George W. Bush's administration. Though not spelled out explicitly in the ruling, the most common interpretation is that research conducted under the Bush-era policy of allowing research into existing stem cells lines would be halted under the ruling.

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Jon Stewart had former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich on his show last night, and questioned him about the decision not to testify in his corruption trial. "There is not a person in the world that I believe could get you to pipe down," Stewart said. "Here's what concerns me. I would like to see you as a Dickens character. I would like to see you as a victim. But you make it so hard."

Stewart added: "You're a guy who's the most adamant about his innocence that I have ever met. So, like I say, you're either the victim of a terrible persecution, or you're a sociopath. I want to believe that you're not a sociopath."

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Republicans billed it as a major economic speech by House Minority Leader John Boehner, and the prepared text of the speech itself promised "a plan to break the ongoing economic uncertainty." But what followed was a familiar litany of criticisms of President Obama's current policies -- including a demand that he fire his Treasury Secretary and his chief economic adviser -- but only a promise that the GOP will offer up its true plan weeks down the line.

Speaking in Ohio this morning, Boehner, who hopes to be Speaker of the House next year, acknowledged that Republicans will offer "a clear and positive governing agenda focused on getting people working again" next month.

For the time being, though, Boehner attacked a recent, $26 billion aide package Obama signed, helping states save the jobs of teachers and other public employees -- in Boehner's words "to protect government jobs."

As terrible as that is, though, the bill is also paid for. "Even worse," Boehner lamented, "the bill is funded by a new tax hike."

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Lawyers for the four current and former New Orleans police officers charged with killing civilians in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina will meet with Justice Department lawyers today to urge the DOJ not to pursue the death penalty.

The four were charged in July with violating the civil rights of unarmed civilians on the Danziger Bridge when they allegedly opened fire, killing two and wounding four, and then, allegedly, covered up what happened on the bridge.

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U.S. Says Number Of Troops In Iraq Below 50,000 Reuters reports: "The U.S. military said on Tuesday it had cut the number of its troops in Iraq to below 50,000 ahead of an August 31 deadline set by President Barack Obama to end its combat missions. The U.S. military commander in Iraq, General Raymond Odierno, said troop numbers were at around 49,700 and would stay at that level for the next year ahead of a full withdrawal by the end of 2011 agreed in a bilateral security pact. 'My planning is it will stay at that level through next summer,' Odierno told reporters in Baghdad, adding that the timeline would give the U.S. Embassy the space it needed to take over tasks still being undertaken by the military."

Iraq Troop Drawdown, Mideast Peace Talks Give Obama Risky Chance For Momentum The Washington Post reports: "The White House faces a delicate messaging task next week as President Obama seeks to bring one foreign engagement to an end while making a new bid for American influence abroad. Obama's return to Washington from 10 days in Martha's Vineyard and a quick stop in New Orleans to commemorate the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina will begin with an address to the nation marking the end of combat operations in Iraq. Days later, he will preside over the start of a new round of Middle East peace talks in Washington."

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Today is a big day in Arizona, with voters headed to the polls for the Republican Senate primary pitting Sen. John McCain, the party's 2008 presidential nominee, against former Rep. J.D. Hayworth. And although Hayworth began the race with some promise, it's now looking like McCain will likely steamroll to victory.

The TPM Poll Average gives McCain a lead of 53.6%-32.1%. As we've previously posted, Hayworth began the race keeping McCain to a close margin. But very much to his credit, McCain clearly recognized the potential threat early on, and was well prepared for it -- he shifted right on issues like illegal immigration, positioned himself strongly against his nemesis President Obama, and brought in his former running mate Sarah Palin to excite the GOP base for him.

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With all the attention we've given to politicians who have attacked the Muslim community center set to be built near Ground Zero in New York, let's take a different look at the story: A list of the Democratic politicians who have stood up in support of it.

Opposition to the project has been brewing for weeks, and the issue came to a head a week and a half ago, when President Obama voiced his support for the right of organizers to build it.

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Hundreds Protest Islamic Center In Downtown Manhattan]

Since, some Dems have come out and said that the project should be moved -- most notably Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who nevertheless affirmed the right of Muslims to build it. So let's look at the other side of the equation: Dems who have spoken out on the project's behalf, both before and after Obama's remarks.

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Tea partiers preparing to pour into DC for Glenn Beck's March on the capitol Saturday needn't worry about where to eat or how to get around -- thanks to a tea party leader in Maine, they have all the info they'll need about how to operate in the nation's capital.

But D.C. is a scary place, tea party activist Bruce Majors writes, full of "immigrants, frequently from east Africa or Arab countries." (They are most often found driving cabs and working in restaurants, Majors says, and "do not like for you to assume they are African Americans and especially do not like for you to guess they are from a neighboring country (e.g. Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia) with whom they may have political or military tensions."

Good to know.

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Earlier this month, several imams joined U.S. officials to visit the Dachau and Auschwitz concentration camps, a trip which resulted in the clerics issuing a statement condemning anti-Semitism and vowing "to make real the commitment of 'never again.'"

The eight Muslim-American clerics were joined by Hannah Rosenthal, the presidential special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism, and a handful of other officials from the Obama, Bush and Reagan administrations.

But according to Politico, "Organizers of the trip say they were dismayed that the Anti-Defamation League's Abe Foxman lobbied U.S. officials against participating."

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An full-page advertisement set to run in several Texas newspapers on Tuesday labels Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) a "coward" for refusing to debate his Democratic opponent and not meeting with editorial boards.

"We think it speaks for itself," said Cliff Walker, the PAC Director for Back To Basics, the group running the ad. "We know it's bold language."

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