TPM News

The Obama Administration is quietly trumpeting the fact that a federal judge in Mississippi tossed out a lawsuit Thursday challenging the constitutionality of the health care reform law.

By definition, it's good news for the White House. But the judge in question didn't rule on the legal question that is at the heart of the constitutional challenges to the new law.

It was a strange suit, filed by the lieutenant governor of Mississippi, Phil Bryant, acting in his capacity as a civilian, along with several other individuals. And unlike the other challenges to the law, including the one by many state attorneys general, which allege that the law's individual mandate exceeds Congress' Commerce Clause powers, this lawsuit was brought on 10th Amendment grounds.

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U.S. In Talks Over Possible Mubarak Departure Reuters reports: "U.S. officials said on Thursday they were discussing with Egyptians different scenarios for a transition of power, including one in which President Hosni Mubarak leaves office immediately. 'That's one scenario,' said a senior Obama administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity. 'There are a number of scenarios, but (it is) wrong to suggest we have discussed only one with the Egyptians.'"

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will receive the presidential daily briefing at 9:30 a.m. ET, and meet with senior advisers at 10 a.m. ET. He will hold a bilateral meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper at 2:10 p.m. ET. The two will hold an expanded bilateral meeting at 2:30 p.m. ET, and will hold a joint press availability at 3:10 p.m. ET.

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Yet another poll finds Mike Huckabee leading the pack in a Republican presidential primary -- this time in Nebraska. However, two challengers -- Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich -- each polled close enough to Huckabee to leave them all essentially locked in a dead heat.

Twenty-one percent of respondents in the PPP poll said Huckabee was their first choice for the party nod, while 19% went for Palin, and 18% said they supported Gingrich. The poll has a 4.3% margin of error, meaning that Huckabee's slim lead is statistically insignificant.

Mitt Romney wasn't too far behind the pack, garnering 15% of the vote, followed by Rep. Ron Paul (8%), Tim Pawlenty (4%), Sen. John Thune (3%), and Gov. Mitch Daniels (1%.)

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LiveAction, the anti-abortion group that targets Planned Parenthood with undercover videos, released a second video Thursday of what it says is a Planned Parenthood employee aiding in child sex trafficking.

In the video, a man -- identified by LiveAction as an actor -- tells a Planned Parenthood employee in Virginia that he is in "sex work" and "manages girls" as young as 14 and 15. He asks questions about disease testing and abortions for girls under 18, and the employee provides answers.

This, LiveAction says, proves that Planned Parenthood aids federal criminals and fails to report crimes such as the ones the actor was pretending to have committed.

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The number of U.S. Muslims accused in terror plots dropped by more than half in 2010, according to a new report by a professor with the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security.

The report notes that 20 American Muslims were suspects in terror plots last year, whereas 47 were suspects in 2009. The 2009 spike, as the Associated Press reports was due mainly to a large number of Somali-Americans who tried to join Somalia's al-Shabab militant movement.

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The now-former U.S Ambassador to Luxembourg, Cynthia Stroum, had members of the small staff of the embassy spend the majority of their time on the important task of finding her a temporary residence that met her high standards; made refurbishing the bathroom at the ambassador's residence a top personal priority; told them that she could snoop on their e-mails; and left her office so demoralized that some top staffers volunteered to serve in two war zone embassies rather than continue to work under her leadership.

That's all according to a State Department Inspector General report, which concludes that Stroum's "confrontational management style, chronic gaps in senior and other staffing caused by curtailments, and the absence of a sense of direction have brought major elements of Embassy Luxembourg to a state of dysfunction."

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Former Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL), the ex-Congressman who infamously resigned in 2006 as a result of a scandal involving his sexually explicit instant message conversations with male Congressional pages, is making his way back out into the public eye. As the Palm Beach Post reports, he spoke last week -- at a meeting of the Palm Beach County Young Republicans.

In addition, the paper notes, he gave an introduction speech this past Tuesday for freshman GOP Rep. Allen West, who hails form a neighboring district, at the grand opening of West's district office in West Palm Beach.

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If soon-to-be former China Ambassador Jon Huntsman were to jump into the 2012 presidential race (as many expect he will), Mormon Republicans would more than likely find themselves with two candidates from their faith on the ballot: Huntsman, the former governor of Utah, and Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts.

In Mormon-heavy Utah, one early poll shows that Romney has the edge. Though Huntsman held the state's highest elective office from 2005 until 2009, when President Obama tapped him to be Ambassador to China, the new poll shows voters there prefer Romney as their presidential nominee by 20 points.

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Verizon's alleged "legal games" are pretty transparent -- and the D.C. Court of Appeals doesn't seem to be too amused. On Wednesday, the court rejected Verizon's request for the same panel of judges that ruled against the FCC in favor of Comcast to hear their own appeal against the Commission's new net neutrality rules. With Verizon's attempt to hand-pick its judges foiled, lawyers agree that their base strategy of ensuring their case will be heard by the D.C. Court of Appeals is still their best bet.

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