TPM News

By Emily Gertz

The planet's internal heat is a powerful, constant force that's available anywhere on Earth -- and a potential energy source that we've barely begun to harness.

In 2010, renewables supplied a mere eight percent of total energy consumption in the United States, led by biomass and hydroelectric power. Geothermal power made up only three percent of that mix.

What projects we do have on line are limited to a handful of spots in the Western states, and they've come about mostly as a result of serendipity.

"Most of the geothermal that's operating today is what we call the low-hanging fruit," Steven Chalk, the U.S. Department of Energy's deputy assistant secretary for renewable energy said in an interview with TPM. "It's where you see the steam coming out of the ground, or you've got the geology where it's in the ring of fire, or near volcanoes." These conventional geothermal installations pump heated underground water up to power plants on the surface.

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The right-wing Club For Growth is wasting no time in taking a shot at Republican former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, who is poised to officially enter race for the state's open Democratic-held Senate seat. They've released a new TV ad seeking to tie Thompson to President Obama and health care reform.

Of course, Thompson does not yet have an opponent. But the Club has been dismissive of Thompson for months, and has released poll data suggesting that the relatively moderate Thompson could be vulnerable to a primary challenge from the right.

"Tommy Thompson has been a politician since way back in 1966," the announcer says. "But do you know his record? As governor, Thompson supported massive tax and spending increases."

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David Letterman on Monday made light of a "jihadist" death threat against him, thanking the audience in advance for being his "human shield."

The late-night funny man also had a sneaking suspicion who was behind it. While federal authorities investigate the threat, Letterman said "this seems like Leno's handiwork."

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A University of Utah professor who specializes in the study of affectional bonds and same-sex sexuality is accusing House Speaker John Boehner's legal team of distorting her research.

Professor Lisa A. Diamond, whose work was cited by the legal team arguing on behalf of the U.S. House of Representatives that the Defense of Marriage Act is constitutional, filed a declaration in federal court stating that the legal team "misconstrues and distorts my research findings, which do not support the propositions for which BLAG cites them."

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Former New Jersey Assemblyman Pat Delany abruptly quit his job last month, citing "personal issues with my family that require my full and immediate attention." Only now are we learning that that personal issue was his wife sending a "racially tinged" email to Olympic hero and current New Jersey state Senate candidate Carl Lewis. It could've been something worse, we guess? Maybe not.

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A federal district court judge for the Southern District of New York said Monday that a start-up music locker service isn't liable for the infringing activities of its locker-service users as long as it followed procedures to mitigate infringement as outlined by a turn of the century digital copyright law.

The decision is a big win for tech companies like Apple, Google and, all of which are or will be offering cloud-based music services.

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There have been several chapters in the still-extremely-early 2012 presidential race. There was the time that Newt Gingrich's smarts and policy chops was going to shake up the contest. That ended. There was the time Herman Cain's business acumen and tea party ties were going to be a real factor in the race. That didn't work out. Then, of course, there was Donald Trump. Remember him?

Now, it appears, Michele Bachmann's moment has come and gone.

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Rick Perry's recent political manifesto Fed Up doesn't just hint that Social Security should be privatized. It also advocates for a farther-reaching overhaul of the tax code than most conservatives support.

Perry says that government's access to new sources of revenue should be fundamentally limited -- either self-imposed by Congress, or by the Constitution itself. "One option would be to totally scrap the current tax code in favor of a flat tax, and thereby make taxation much simpler, easier to follow, and harder to manipulate," Perry writes.

"Another option would be to repeal the Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution (providing the power for the income tax) altogether, and then pursue an alternative model of taxation such as a national sales tax or the Fair Tax. The time has come to stop talking about fixing the broken and burdensome tax code and to take bold action to replace it with one that is not a burden for the taxpayer and that provides only the modest revenue needed to perform the basic constitutional functions of the federal government."

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As gay rights advocates have made gains over the last few years, the public seems to be moving in the same direction. Friday saw the release of a new poll sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Citizens for Equal Protection showing citizens deep in the middle of conservative America - in Nebraska - are solidly for non-discrimination protections for members of the gay, lesbian bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, even if the current state laws are not. 73 percent of Nebraskans surveyed support protecting LGBT people from discrimination in employment, protections which currently don't exist there.

The survey comes as Public Policy Polling (D) has been polling a diversity of states on the question of gay marriage and civil unions. Those polls have shown that some version of recognition for same sex couples is popular: even in the most Republican state in the union, Utah, 60 percent supported either gay marriage or civil unions, a trend also reflected in a separate HRC polling of the state.

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The main GOP presidential candidates' responses to events in Libya were strikingly diverse. However, one factor they had in common was the lack of any mention of one person: the President who actually committed US forces to the conflict.

The exception to this was former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. "Ridding the world of the likes of Gadhafi is a good thing," he wrote. "But this indecisive President had little to do with this triumph."

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