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Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels has the backing of his own state's senior Senator at the very least if he chooses to make a White House run.

"Yes, that's my choice," Lugar told Newsmax when asked who he would choose to take on President Obama in 2012.

"I have no idea what Gov. Daniels will ultimately decide," Lugar added. "I believe he would be an outstanding president, and I say this because he has managed with fiscal prudence the state of Indiana in such a way that we have balanced budgets."

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Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) has signed his bill curtailing public employee unions in to law, following a month-long political struggle in the state that saw Democratic legislators fleeing the state, massive protests, and a last-minute parliamentary end-run in order to get the measure passed.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:

He signed the bill in the morning and will hold a ceremony and press conference later in the day to tout the signing.

Walker also is planning a press conference to talk about the tumultuous past few weeks. On Friday morning, Walker directed two state agencies to rescind layoff notices because the Legislature had passed the bill.

As TPM has previously reported, this is likely far from the end of the story in Wisconsin -- with a new series of political battles set to begin. Democrats have pledged to quickly recall the Republican members of the state Senate who are eligible, under the state law requiring at least one year of a term to be completed, and then to go after Walker next year. In addition, the union bill itself could potentially result in strikes or other labor unrest, in a state where unions have played a major role in the political culture.

If Congress prohibits the Obama administration from funding implementation of the new health care law, it will cost the government billions of dollars over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

You might think that declaring certain funds off limits would save the government money -- and indeed the measure in the House spending bill defunding the health care law would save $1.6 billion through the end of the year. But by forbidding the Department of Health and Human Services from developing programs expected to save money, such a prohibition would actually accrue about $6 billion in costs by the end of the decade.

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A senior Treasury department official told reporters Thursday that a brief government shutdown may be unavoidable as the only feasible way to de-escalate the confrontation over government spending dividing Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill. The official said the administration still hopes to avoid such a flashpoint because of the impact it would have on the economy, but added that President Obama will not sign short-term stop-gap government funding measures in perpetuity.

The comments were made in a briefing with reporters conducted on deep background, meaning no direct quotes could be attributed to the official.

The official's remarks represent the most serious indication yet that the administration is willing to endure a short term shutdown despite the unknown political costs, to focus congressional leadership on brokering a long-term deal. But they also come at a time of ongoing negotiations between the White House and congressional Republicans, and are a signal that the administration isn't resigned to getting rolled by the GOP. Whether that's tough talk designed to move negotiations, a bluff, or an indication that the White House is prepared to go the brink on this remains to be seen.

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UPDATE: Rep. Doc Hastings, chairman of the Natural Resources Committee issued a release saying Kim is the first hire for the newly created Office of Oversight and Investigations, which will scrutinize the activities of the Department of Interior and "other agencies under the committee's purview."

One of the suspended attorneys at the center of the standoff between Republicans and Democrats on the House Ethics Committee has found a new gig on the House Natural Resources Committee.

Morgan Kim, who served as deputy chief of staff of the Ethics Committee in the last Congress and lead attorney on the case against Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), was recently hired by Republicans on the Natural Resources panel and is now working full-time there, two House aides confirmed for TPM Thursday.

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Obama Declares Bond With Japan 'Unshakeable' CNN reports: "President Obama sent his condolences to the people of Japan over the devastating 8.9 magnitude earthquake, and declared that the United States stands ready to offer aid because of the 'unshakeable' bond between the two nations. Obama, who was informed of the earthquake at 4 a.m. ET by Chief of Staff Bill Daley, also said he has instructed the Federal Emergency Management Agency 'to be ready to assist Hawaii and the rest of the U.S. states and territories that could be affected' by tsunamis."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will receive the presidential daily briefing at 9:45 a.m. ET, and meet at 10:15 a.m. ET with senior advisers. He will hold a news conference at 11:15 a.m. ET, officially billed as being about rising energy prices among other issues. At 2:50 p.m. ET, the President and First Lady will honor the 2009-10 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks in a ceremony.

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Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) tells TPM that he has no reason to believe his former spokesperson, Kurt Bardella, deliberately tried to impersonate him in a conversation with The Daily Beast's Howard Kurtz last year, despite what Kurtz has said.

Last weekend, on his CNN show "Reliable Sources," Kurtz interviewed Politico editor-in-chief John Harris about the bizarre email scandal that cost Bardella his job as spokesperson for Issa. During the segment, Kurtz made mention of his own Bardella incident.

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President Obama has put the Federal Emergency Management Agency on high-alert to help Hawaii and other coastal areas in the United States and its territories that could be affected after a massive, 8.9 magnitude earthquake hit 80 miles off the coast of Japan Friday morning triggering a devastating Tsunami.

Hawaii and the Pacific Basin except the mainland United States and Canada are bracing themselves for the worst Friday morning, according to the U.S. Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. Hawaii is under an order to evacuate all coastal areas, including all of Honolulu and its famed tourist hub, Waikiki beach.

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1||March 10, 2011: On Thursday, the House Homeland Security Committee, led by Rep. Peter King (R-NY), began hearings on the radicalization of Muslims in the United States. In four hours of testimony on the first day of the hearings, much of the debate centered on whether the hearings were a good idea in the first place.

Committee Chairman Peter King presided over the hearing. ||Jeff Malet/

2||Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) teared up and warned to the crowd "as a minority, I would advocate to people, in particular minorities, that they should have their attorney present when being investigated, talk to, spoken to, addressed by the FBI."||Jeff Malet/

3||Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) sadly looked on as the hearings progressed.||Jeff Malet/

4||Rep. Laura Richardson became passionate during the hearings and was one was one of those who objected on principle to the inquiry's focus on Muslims.||Jeff Malet/

5||Sheriff Baca works with the Muslim community in Los Angeles. ||Jeff Malet/

6||Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, has been criticized for his work with anti-Muslim activist Frank Gaffney. ||Jeff Malet/

7||Abdirizak Bihi, Director of Somali Education and Social Advocacy Center, testified that moderate Muslims "don't have a voice." ||Jeff Malet/

8||In his introductory remarks, Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) cautioned that Rep. King should tread carefully as he proceeds with the hearings. ||KEVIN DIETSCH/UPI/Newscom&&

9||A chart displayed during the hearing showed the sites of attempted terrorist attacks in the United States. ||KEVIN DIETSCH/UPI/Newscom&&

10||Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Code Pink. ||Jeff Malet/

11||The hearings have been highly polarizing, with some saying they are a necessary inquiry, and others calling them a modern day witch hunt. ||SIPA USA-GF/SIPA/Newscom&&

12||Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA) said it was wrong to criticize the hearings because no one complained about similar hearings years ago into the KKK. || Jeff Malet/

13||Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) seen here waved a copy of the Constitution as she spoke. ||Jeff Malet/

14||A framed picture of the World Trade Center towers burning on September 11 hung in the back of the room during the hearing.||Jeff Malet/

15||Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), the first Muslim elected to Congress, broke down in tears while delivering introductory remarks about a Muslim 9/11 first responder who died in the terrorist attacks. ||KEVIN DIETSCH/UPI/Newscom&&

16||Among those called to testify were. from left: Melvin Bledsoe, whose son attacked a military base in Arkansas; Abdirizak Bihi, whose nephew left America to join the terrorist organization Al Shabab; Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser; and Los Angeles Sheriff Leroy Baca. ||SIPA USA-GF/SIPA/Newscom&&

17||Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Alabama).|||Jeff Malet/

18||Day one of the hearings left many in the audience in a somber mood.||Jeff Malet/

19||Imam Mohamed Hagmagid Ali President, Islamic Society of North America.||Jeff Malet/

20||Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) questions witnesses during a committee hearing on the extent of radicalization in the American Muslim community and the community's response.||KEVIN DIETSCH/UPI/Newscom&&

Responding to a report that NPR was closer to accepting a $5 million donation from a phony Muslim group than previously acknowledged, NPR released e-mails to TPM backing up their claim that they had refused the money.

In their initial statement after hidden camera footage of their executives lunching with the fake foundation, NPR said that "The fraudulent organization represented in this video repeatedly pressed us to accept a $5 million check, with no strings attached, which we repeatedly refused to accept." The Daily Caller reported Thursday evening on emails in which NPR executives said they were "awaiting a draft agreement" from their legal counsel on the donation, raising the question of how far down the line negotiations had proceeded.

NPR spokeswoman Anna Christopher told TPM via e-mail that the agreement "never got beyond the internal drafting stage - and was never sent. Period." To back up her claim, Christopher provided TPM with four pages pages of emails in which CEO Vivan Schiller, who resigned Wednesday, and her staff discuss a potential donation from MEAC, the fake Muslim group created by James O'Keefe's Project Veritas to infiltrate NPR.

In an e-mail dated March 3, sent by the recently resigned Schiller to Betsy Liley, who appears in the two O'Keefe tapes, and two other staffers, Schiller suggests that MEAC is behaving oddly and that she can't accept a donation without further information -- despite pressure from the group to take the money immediately. She also correctly notes that MEAC's information would have to be provided to the IRS, resolving an issue that Lilely appears to have left unclear in a conversation with a phony Muslim donor depicted in the most recently released video.

"I spoke to Ibrahim," she writes. "He says they ARE a 501c3. And then he added... "I think". I told him we would need to know for sure AND we would need to look at the 990 as we do for any first time donor. He stressed that they want confidentially and I told him what Joyce told me - that it would not need to be reported in the public part of the 990 but it would need to be reported to the IRS, including the name of the donating institution. He had questions on all of the above which I said I simply don't have the expertise to answer but that one of our lawyers could. He repeated again that they want to deliver the check. I said that's very generous but we really need to sort out these issues first. He said is there a problem - and I said I don't know till we can see the 990. He seemed a bit worried that there was some subtext to our hesitation."

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