Noontime News is a snapshot of our RSS feeds from the noon (Eastern time) hour.

Democrats Follow Karl Rove’s Lead, Dump Cash Into NY-26

“The three-way race to fill the vacant western New York seat vacated by Rep. Chris Lee (R) will get some more national attention in its closing weeks. On the day the Republican super PAC linked to Karl Rove announced it’s going up with at least $350,000 worth of TV ads on behalf of GOP candidate Jane Corwin, national Democrats pledged to kick in their own hefty sum to bolster their candidate, Kathy Hochul.”

Waxman: Back Off Medicare Means Testing

“Underscoring the fact that there’s significant opposition to means-testing Medicare in the Democratic Party, Rep. Henry Waxman’s office blasted out a statement this afternoon pushing back on House Speaker John Boehner’s strong hint that this should be part of the debt limit negotiations.

“Under existing law, well-off seniors are already going to be paying more for their Medicare premiums,” says Waxman, a California Democrat.”

Read More: As deficit-cutting talks proceed, what about Social Security?

Nine states appeal federal rule limiting health insurers’ profits

“In a move that could absolve health insurers of paying more than $95 million in consumer rebates, nine states are pressing for relief from a federal rule limiting insurers’ profits and administrative costs.

State regulators say they fear insurers would flee their markets and leave some individuals without coverage options if the rule isn’t eased. But consumer groups say there’s little evidence insurers would bail out.”

Feinstein Wants Answers About What Pakistani Officials Knew About OBL

“Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) isn’t relying on U.S. intelligence officials alone to find out whether the Pakistani government was helping harbor Osama bin Laden.

Feinstein, who chairs the Senate intelligence committee, told TPM she has “her own people looking into it” and will hold closed-door classified hearings on the increasingly frayed relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan soon”

Facebook To Feds: Our Campaign Ad Slots Are Too Small For Disclosure

“Facebook has asked the Federal Election Commission to confirm that advertisements on the social networking website shouldn’t have to abide by campaign regulations which require a disclaimer on who paid for the ads.”

Boehner Lays Down Aggressive Marker In Debt Limit Brinksmanship (VIDEO)

“In a Monday speech before top Wall Street executives at the Economic Club of New York, House Speaker John Boehner said Congress should not increase the national debt limit at all unless it simultaneously cuts federal spending by a dollar figure that’s larger than the amount of new borrowing authority it gives the government.

“Without significant spending cuts and reforms to reduce our debt, there will be no debt limit increase,” Boehner said. “And the cuts should be greater than the accompanying increase in debt authority the president is given.””

Former SC Gov. Sanford To Presidential Hopefuls Who Won’t Back Republican Budget: Time To ‘Fish Or Cut Bait’

“As the voter backlash against the Republican plan to end Medicare and extend tax breaks for the wealthy continues to spread, Republican presidential hopefuls are taking a cautious approach. The leading contenders – including former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich – have praised the plan as “courageous,” but pointedly refused to actually endorse the budget, often going to great lengths to avoid taking a position.

Their refusal to take a position on the Republican budget could be increasingly problematic among influential figures in the early primary states. Indeed, newly-elected South Carolina GOP chair Chad Connelly told ThinkProgress in an interview that a candidate couldn’t win the state’s presidential primary unless he or she endorses the Republican budget.

ThinkProgress interviewed former Republican Gov. Mark Sanford in South Carolina this weekend to discuss the presidential contenders’ strategic ambiguity on the Republican plan. Sanford called out those presidential aspirants who wanted to “play it safe,” saying that ducking this issue was “very dangerous.” The former South Carolina Governor insisted that all candidates need to “fish or cut bait on this one”.”

Florida City Paying $2,500 A Day To Radical Union-Busting Firm To Stop Workers From Organizing

“All over the country, right-wing lawmakers are waging a war on Main Street America’s labor rights, purporting to do so out of a desire for fiscal restraint (while also backing budget-busting tax breaks for the wealthiest among us).

Now, the city of Winter Park, Florida, is going to new lengths to stop nearly 150 city workers from joining a union. Apparently more concerned with stopping the union than saving money, Winter Park hired consultants at Kulture LLC, “a firm specializing in labor relations” at the rate of $2,500 a day to persuade workers to vote against organizing this summer.”

FSU Accepts Funds From Charles Koch In Return For Control Over Its Academic Freedom

“Charles Koch, the billionaire libertarian who has funded front-groups and lobbying efforts to expand his anti-tax, anti-regulatory agenda under the guise of “free enterprise,” has now widened his reach into another key public policy area: academics. The Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation entered into an agreement with Florida State University in 2008 in which the foundation would provide millions of dollars in funds for the school’s economics department.

The funds were marked to add multiple faculty positions in the economics department. But the money came with multiple strings attached, including a demand that Koch have the ability to directly approve who ultimately filled the positions. As the St. Petersburg Times reports, the agreement is now raising questions across the board about academic freedom and integrity at public colleges and universities.”

Presbyterians Clear Way For Gay Clergy

“The Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area, based in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn., cast the key 87th vote needed for a majority in support of ratification came during a meeting Tuesday night. So far, 62 presbyteries have voted against the measure.”

VA Ordered To Revamp Mental Health Care System

“In its ruling, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals noted that an average of 18 veterans a day commit suicide. The “unchecked incompetence” in handling the flood of post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health claims is unconstitutional, the court said.”

Obama Asks Congress To Pass Immigration Reform

“President Obama spoke on immigration policy in El Paso, Texas. Obama tried to reboot his effort to overhaul the immigration system. The president called on Congress to try again to pass a bill that would make the border more secure and also provide a path to citizenship for undocumented workers. Melissa Block talks to NPR’s Mara Liasson for more.”

Read More: BlueWaveNews: Video and transcript
Read More: Obama Makes Economic Argument To Americans For Immigration Overhaul
Read More: Obama touts border successes, mocks GOP immigration policy

Egypt prosecutor extends Mubarak detention: source

“CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt’s public prosecutor has extended the detention of former president Hosni Mubarak by 15 days, a judicial source said on Tuesday.”

Good News: The Loneliest Plant In The World

“One day in 1895, while walking through the Ngoya Forest in Zululand, southern Africa, a botanist with the oh so suitable name of John Medley Wood caught sight of a tree. It sat on a steep slope at the edge of the woods and looked different from the other trees, with its thick multiple trunks and what seemed like a splay of palm fronds on top. From a distance it looked almost like a palm tree, and Dr. Wood — who made his living collecting rare plants (he directed a botanical garden in Durban) had some of the stems pulled up, removed, and sent one of them to London.

That little tree stem was then put in a box and left in the Palm House at the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew. It sat there, alone, for the next 98 years.”

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