TPM News

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Illinois is about to become the state of refuge for another band of legislative Democrats fleeing their home state to shut down a union-busting proposal.

The Indianapolis Star reports that Democratic members of the state House are heading out of state to prevent the Republican majority from moving forward on a bill "that would bar unions and companies from negotiating a contract that requires non-union members to kick-in fees for representation."

In scenes reminiscent of those in Wisconsin, the Indiana Democrats are using the legislature's quorum rules to stop the GOP, despite being outgunned in the legislature and in the governor's mansion, where potential 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitch Daniels currently resides.

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1||February 22, 2011: A 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck one of New Zealand's largest cities, Christchurch, on Tuesday, toppling buildings and killing at least 60 people.

Rescuers searched for survivors amidst the rubble of a building leveled by the quake.|| NZPA/Xinhua/Newscom&&

2||"It is just a scene of utter devastation," Prime Minister John Key told the Associated Press. "We may well be witnessing New Zealand's darkest day." ||a11/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

3||The Christchurch Cathedral as it looked before the earthquake hit.||RAFAEL BEN ARI/CHAMELEONS EYE/Rafael Ben-Ari/Chameleons Eye/Newscom&&

4||The Christchurch Cathedreal after the earthquake. Its steeple was completely destroyed.||a11/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

5||A damaged building in Christchurch, New Zealand.||Wang Hao/Xinhua/Photoshot/Newscom&&

6||The earthquake buckled asphalt in some places.||x99/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

7||It is the second major earthquake to strike New Zealand in the past six months. An earthquake in September, though larger in magnitude, did far less damage. ||a11/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

8||Rescue workers dug through the rubble of a collapsed building. ||a11/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

9||||a11/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

10||||a11/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

11||Workers carried a victim dug out from a collapsed office.||x99/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

12|| ||Brendon Burns/Xinhua/Photoshot/Newscom&&

13||Water poured onto the streets in one area from ruptured water pipes. ||x99/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

14||||x99/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

15|||| x99/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

16||||x99/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

17||Two people walked past buildings damaged in the earthquake.||Wang Hao/Xinhua/Photoshot/Newscom&&

It looks like America's Facebooking-est failed governor has been using a fake account to shower praise on her daughter and "like" herself. And she's friends with some creepy people!

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Several prominent former lawmakers, government officials and military leaders have added their names to the growing list of political heavyweights backing an Iranian opposition group currently considered a terrorist organization by the State Department. The group, the Mujahedin-e Khalq or MEK, has a history of support in Washington. But a recent series of events organized by a group called Executive Action, LLC, has brought in some surprisingly marquee names. At an event in Washington D.C. on Saturday, several of those speakers argued that the MEK is critical to any chance of regime change in Iran.

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White House budget director Jack Lew writes some pretty strong stuff, just as the administration prepares to scuffle with the GOP over Social Security.

"Social Security does not cause our deficits," he writes in a USA Today op-ed. "According to the most recent report of the independent Social Security Trustees, the trust fund is currently in surplus and growing. Even though Social Security began collecting less in taxes than it paid in benefits in 2010, the trust fund will continue to accrue interest and grow until 2025, and will have adequate resources to pay full benefits for the next 26 years."

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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has laid down an ultimatum to the 14 state Senate Democrats who've gone AWOL to stop Walker's union-busting budget from going forward: come home, vote on a budget or I'll start laying off state workers. Like, next week.

From an interview with WISC-TV in Madison on Tuesday morning:

If Walker's bill is passed, the governor said benefit and wage reforms would prevent the layoffs of 1,500 state government employees. If the bill is not passed by the end of the week, and the state is unable to restructure its debt -- something Walker said would save $165 million -- he warned more public employees could be laid off and services cut.

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In a speech in Spartanburg, South Carolina on Saturday, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) offered some solutions to the country's financial woes, saying, "We can't put the so called social issues on the back burner while we are solving our economic challenges because the family is the solution to those challenges."

Bachmann offered that when it comes to entitlement reform, "I think if we give Glenn Beck the numbers, he can solve this."

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On the back of a new union poll suggesting the Wisconsin public is ready to stand with the protesters gathered in and around the Capitol in Madison, a coalition of unions is going on air in the Badger State with an ad calling on the public to do just that.

As Greg Sargent first reported, the AFL-CIO, National Education Association, American Federation of Teachers and others are paying for the spot, which features a Racine, WI firefighter urging Gov. Scott Walker (R) not to ban collective bargaining for teachers, nurses and other unionized state employees.

"They're simply asking that you not take away their rights," the firefighter says.

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Stephen Colbert pined for the exciting days of the Egyptian uprising on his program last night, saying that the turmoil in other Middle Eastern countries just didn't compare.

"I miss the emotional heights of Egypt," Colbert said. "It had everything: huge crowds, pyramids, the chance of a mummy attack."

Yet Colbert said he was not impressed with the protests that have cropped up in other countries throughout the region.

"Bahrain? More Like Bore-ain," he said. "Yemen? More like 'Yawn, man.' And Morocco? I could us a little less rocco."

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