TPM News

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani has canceled a visit to the United States to attend the U.N. General Assembly session to direct relief efforts as floods devastate southern Pakistan, his office said on Friday.

WROCLAW, Poland (Reuters) – Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told EU finance ministers on Friday they should end loose talk about a euro zone break-up and work more closely with the European Central Bank to tackle the debt crisis.

A classified cable from the most recent batch of "Wikileaks" suggests U.S. officials were enthusiastic about a quixotic bid by a Venezuelan comedian who challenged President Hugo Chavez.

The cable - which is admittedly quite tongue-in-cheek in tone - dates from 10 July, 2006, and deals with the preparatory stages of an eventually aborted presidential run by Venezuelan funnyman, Benjamin Rausseo.

Rausseo is better known to Venezuelans as "El Conde del Guacharo" (literally, "The Count of Oilbird") - a downmarket satirical character that's basically Venezuela's equivalent of "Larry the Cable Guy." The writer of the classified document describes Rausseo's humor as "crude and vulgar," and urges the reader: "think, 'Beverly Hillbillies' meets 'Cheech and Chong.'"

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Michele Bachmann is not apologizing for her just about universally criticized suggestion that Gardasil, the anti-HPV vaccine Rick Perry tried to mandate while governor of Texas, can cause mental retardation.

Bachmann made the accusation after Monday's presidential debate, echoing something someone in the audience told her.

On Thursday, Bachmann said she never claimed to be making a medical diagnosis. How could she be? She's just a candidate running for president.

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Republican Todd P'Pool (pronounced "Pea-Pool") has a new ad in this November's race for Kentucky Attorney General, attacking incumbent Democrat Jack Conway by tying him to President Obama -- which might feel a bit familiar, from Conway's unsuccessful campaign for Senate last year.

"Barack Obama is destroying America -- and Jack Conway has done nothing to stop him in Kentucky," the announcer says. "Conway supports Obamacare, watches Obama's EPA destroy jobs by hurting the coal industry, and Conway shares Obama's pro-choice values.

"On day one as Attorney General, Todd P'Pool will report for duty and fight Obamacare; save coal jobs by fighting the EPA; and Todd P'Pool is 100% pro-life.

"Todd P'Pool lives Kentucky's values -- not Obama's."

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A number of New Jersey lawmakers are outraged that the state has awarded a $420,000 production tax credit to the hit MTV reality show "Jersey Shore" because, as one GOPer put it, "I can't believe we are paying for fake tanning for 'Snooki' and 'The Situation', and I am not even sure $420,000 covers that."

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Rick Perry has been out on the stump walking back a couple of things lately. Turns out he's just trying to save Social Security, not eliminate it as his book suggests. Oh, and, that whole HPV vaccine thing was just a big mistake, not the defensible move it was before Perry jumped in the race.

But there's one thing Perry is not backing down from: President Obama's White House is a socialist experiment, intent on making all of America its guinea pigs.

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Mitt Romney's campaign is accusing Rick Perry of waffling on Afghanistan, saying the Texas governor is having it both ways on whether the US should withdraw.

In an e-mail blast to reporters entitled "RICK'S REVERSAL ON AFGHANISTAN," the Romney team highlighted quotes from Perry in Monday's debate in which he appeared to lean towards exiting the country.

"I think the entire conversation about, how do we deliver our aid to those countries, and is it best spent with 100,000 military who have the target on their back in Afghanistan, I don't think so at this particular point in time," he said. "I think the best way for us to be able to impact that country is to make a transition to where that country's military is going to be taking care of their people, bring our young men and women home, and continue to help them build the infrastructure that we need, whether it's schools for young women like yourself or otherwise."

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Two separate but related Republican efforts are increasing the odds that the government will shut down at the end of September, despite repeated assurances from both GOP and Democratic leaders that neither party has an appetite for another round of brinksmanship.

In a Thursday letter, over 50 House Republicans, led by Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), pushed Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to make steep cuts to discretionary spending in the next fiscal year, reneging on the agreement the parties struck to resolve the debt limit standoff. That legislation set a cap on discretionary spending at $1.043 trillion and both Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) are committed to funding the government at that level for the coming year.

But many House conservatives want to go lower, and if they defect then House Democrats will have to pitch in to make sure it passes and avert a shut down.

There's just one problem.

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