TPM News

Mastercard and Visa have announced they will stop processing payments to Wikileaks, following similar moves by, PayPal and other businesses who are cutting ties to the organization.

Mastercard Worldwide "is taking action to ensure that WikiLeaks can no longer accept MasterCard-branded products," a spokesman told CNET late yesterday.

"MasterCard rules prohibit customers from directly or indirectly engaging in or facilitating any action that is illegal," the spokesman said.

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Tea Party Nation chief Judson Phillips isn't going to get his first choice for Republican National Commitee chair, so he says he'll settle for Saul Anuzis instead. Yesterday, Phillips implored Sarah Palin to make a run for the top job, claiming that Palin was the best chance the tea party has to keep the "establishment" from taking over. Palin said thanks but no thanks, stating that "there are others who would probably be much more comfortable asking people for money than I would be."

In a new statement on the Tea Party Nation website, Phillips said he expected Palin to say no to his idea, but "I was surprised at how quickly that 'no' came." Still, he writes, Palin's rejection doesn't mean the tea party can't have a candidate in the race for RNC chair.

"Fortunately for us, there is a conservative alternative," Phillips writes. "Saul Anuzis."

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This is all ancient history by now, but for those who still reminisce about the '08 campaign, you may recall that it was the now-defunct Obama tax plan (let the Bush tax cuts for wealthy Americans expire) that got such a rise out of one Joe The Plumber.

Obama wanted to "spread" that wealth around, Sam Wurzelbacher, envisioning a brief, semi-lucrative gig selling kitsch to tea partiers, wanted to keep as much as possible. Looks like he'll get his wish -- so presumably they'll bury the hatchet.

Despite the federal indictment against her, Leslie Johnson was sworn into office on Monday in Prince George's County, Md. on a Bible held by her husband and alleged co-conspirator, Jack Johnson.

Leslie Johnson is accused of stuffing nearly $80,000 in cash in her bra and flushing a $100,000 check down the toilet as FBI agents knocked on the door in order to search her home as part of a corruption probe.

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by Marie C. Baca, ProPublica

For more than two years, the natural gas drilling debate has focused primarily on the use of hydraulic fracturing in horizontal wells. But expert testimony submitted for a government hearing next month challenges long-held assumptions about the safety of deep vertical drilling and exploratory wells, which operate in many states with limited regulatory oversight.

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Obama's Tax Cut Extension Part Of Strategy To Show Bipartisanship The Washington Post reports: "Although his liberal supporters are furious about the decision, President Obama's willingness to extend all of the George W. Bush-era tax cuts is part of what White House officials say is a deliberate strategy: to demonstrate his ability to compromise with Republicans and portray the president as the last reasonable man in a sharply partisan Washington. The move is based on a political calculation, drawn from his party's midterm defeat, that places a premium on winning back independent voters."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama and Vice President Biden will receive the presidential daily briefing at 10:05 a.m. ET. Obama will participate in an Ambassador Credentialing Ceremony at 1:30 p.m. ET. Obama will receive the economy daily briefing at 2 p.m. ET. He will meet with senior advisers at 5 p.m. ET.

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Add Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) to the list of Democrats who say the Senate should stay open long enough to give Republicans the time they require to bring the military's ban on openly gay servicemembers to an end. Asked by TPM yesterday if he supported Sen. Joe Lieberman's (I-CT) call for the Senate to keep the lame duck session going past the scheduled break if necessary to get repeal passed, Levin's office confirmed his endorsement of the idea.

Levin's the chair of the Armed Services Committee, and a powerful backer of repeal. But he's just the latest Democrat to say he'll work through Christmas if it means bringing the military's ban on openly gay servicemembers to an end. Yesterday, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) signed on via her Twitter feed.

A Democratic leadership aide tells TPM that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is working behind the scenes to get Don't Ask, Don't Tell repealed this year, but didn't commit to keeping Senators in town longer than planned to get it done. In order to keep the doors open longer than scheduled, Reid would need the vote of the entire Democratic caucus

"Senator Reid is focused right now on working out an amendment strategy that will get the necessary 60 votes to pass a repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the aide said. "This is a law he thinks should be addressed once and for all this Congress, before we adjourn for the holidays."

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A three-judge panel heard oral arguments yesterday in the legal challenge against Proposition 8, the ballot measure that made same-sex marriage illegal in California. The arguments, made before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, hinged on two things: First, whether the same-sex marriage opponents who filed the appeal actually have the standing to do so; and second, whether the ban is constitutional.

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Insufficient resources, lack of training for investigators and a variety of other problems have plagued the Defense Department system intended to investigate allegations of retaliation against military whistleblowers, according to a recently disclosed government report. At the same time, the number of military whistleblower retaliation allegations has "more than doubled" from fewer than 300 in 1997 to nearly 600 in 2007, according to the report.

The Project on Government Oversight (POGO) obtained a copy of the 2009 report, "A Review of the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General's Process for Handling Military Whistleblower Reprisal Allegations," which was written by the Justice Department Inspector General's office at the request of the Department of Defense Inspector General Gordon Heddell.

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Democratic Congressional leaders are steamed at President Obama for locking in a deal with Republicans to extend all the Bush tax cuts temporarily. It's just caving, they say, and it punts the tax cut fight into the next election. But in exchange for agreeing to the extension, Obama got Republicans to agree to a year-long extension of unemployment benefits, and a year-long, two percentage point reduction in the payroll tax, meant to mimic a temporary extension of the tax breaks that were in the stimulus bill. Each of these concessions will inject much-needed demand into the economy. Could this silver lining be bright enough to make the extension of all the cuts worth it?

According to progressive economists, it will help, but won't make a huge dent.

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