TPM News

Updated: 1:20PM

Former lobbyist and congressional staffer Kevin Ring was sentenced to 20 months in prison, with 30 months probation to follow, by a federal judge on Wednesday for his role in the Jack Abramoff scandal.

Ring's lawyers had been hoping for a sentence of probation. At a hearing in a courtroom in D.C. federal court, federal prosecutors sought to portray Ring as "number two in the team Abramoff scandal" and sought a sentence of 50 months in jail. That sentence would have been longer than the sentence received by Abramoff himself. A federal prosecutor argued that there "are sentencing disparities, but they are not unwarranted."

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Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) has sold a private plane that became a political problem for her last spring, Reuters reports.

McCaskill had charged taxpayers for 89 flights she took on the plane she owns. It was then discovered at least one of the flights was a political trip. Read more coverage here.

In a turn of events that no one could have predicted, the members of the Congressional supercommittee have “deadlocked” over the issue of new tax revenues, CNN reports.

Democrats had offered a plan that included cuts to entitlement prorams, as well as an additional $1.2 to $1.3 trillion in new taxes, but Republicans balked.

CNN released new polls from four of the first primary states on Wednesday (Iowa, South Carolina, Florida and New Hampshire) and former Mass Gov. Matt Romney is ahead in all of them. Businessman Herman Cain, the national frontrunner of the moment, is second in all the surveys by various levels: Romney is up by 12 points in Florida, two in South Carolina, three in Iowa and by a huge 27 point margin in New Hampshire.

Remember when former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney went to a call center of conservative faithful in Ohio, as volunteers were dialing on behalf of the efforts to save SB 5, the state's new union-busting bill? And then when asked by reporters, said he wasn't going to take a position on the issue?

Well, that was yesterday.

Today it appears Romney does have a position: he supports Gov. John Kasich's efforts to curtail public employee unions in the name of tightening Ohio's budget. Romney said as much at an event in Virginia, as reported by NBC's Mark Murray and the Washington Post's Rachel Weiner.

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Updated 6.53 p.m. E.S.T.

"It's not a coincidence that my first speech is being made in PARC," Steven VanRoekel tells a roomful of curious people in Silicon Valley who have come to spend their Tuesday evening to find out what the nation's federal chief information officer actually does.

"America's future now depends on our capacity to innovate, and to harness technology," VanRoekel says during his first public speech in his new role as America's second chief information officer at PARC's auditorium in Palo Alto. The event was organized by the Silicon Valley social and business groups The Churchill Club, TechNet and TechAmerica.

The legendary PARC has played a role in the development of many game-changing aspects of modern computing from the development of personal computers to key details such as the graphical user interface. The company, a subsidiary of Xerox, continues to work with both private companies and governments to come up with new ideas in computing and business processes.

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The LA Times reports:

When the government on Thursday issues its first estimate of third-quarter U.S. gross domestic product, the report is expected to show a sharp acceleration in economic growth from the first half.

Stephen Colbert was really impressed with Herman Cain's new web video, showing his chief of staff smoking a cigarette and talking about taking the country back.

"Cain is a true rebel," Colbert said Tuesday. "I was so inspired by the way Herman Cain's ad sticks it to the East and West Coast elites, that I've made some Herman Cain ads of mine [sic] own."

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