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Catherine Thompson is a news writer for Talking Points Memo. Before joining TPM, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett and interned at The L Magazine. At New York University she served as the deputy managing editor of NYU's student newspaper, The Washington Square News. She can be reached at email@example.com.
President Barack Obama issued a statement Monday praising resumed negotiations between Israel and Palestine, while cautioning that the road to peace in the region will be fraught with difficult decisions.
Full statement, via the White House, below:
I am pleased that Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas have accepted Secretary Kerry's invitation to formally resume direct final status negotiations and have sent senior negotiating teams to Washington for the first round of meetings. This is a promising step forward, though hard work and hard choices remain ahead.
During my March visit to the region, I experienced first-hand the profound desire for peace among both Israelis and Palestinians, which reinforced my belief that peace is both possible and necessary. I deeply appreciate Secretary Kerry's tireless work with the parties to develop a common basis for resuming direct talks, and commend both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas for their leadership in coming to the table.
The most difficult work of these negotiations is ahead, and I am hopeful that both the Israelis and Palestinians will approach these talks in good faith and with sustained focus and determination. The United States stands ready to support them throughout these negotiations, with the goal of achieving two states, living side by side in peace and security.
I am pleased that Ambassador Martin Indyk will lead the U.S. negotiating team as U.S. Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations. Ambassador Indyk brings unique experience and insight to this role, which will allow him to contribute immediately as the parties begin down the tough, but necessary, path of negotiations.
Former Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter announced Monday that he's dropping out of the Arkansas governor's race in order to unite the Democratic Party and avoid a "divisive primary" with former Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR).
Halter said in an email to his supporters that "since we announced our gubernatorial campaign, another strong candidate has entered the primary election, and in order to avoid a divisive primary and to help unite the Democratic Party, I am ending my campaign for Governor."
Halter previously lost a primary runoff against former Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) in 2010.
The number of people seeking concealed-carry gun permits in Colorado was up by 87 percent during the first half of the year, the Denver Post reported Monday.
According to data from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, 31,518 background checks were run for concealed-carry permits between January and June compared to 16,886 processed in that same period last year.
One University of Colorado at Boulder professor told the Denver Post that the record number of permit-seekers could be a reaction to gun control laws recently passed in the state that mandate background checks and limit firearm magazine capacity.
"A lot of people are concerned with what the government did (by passing gun-control laws), and they are feeling restricted," Hillary Potter, an associate sociology professor at the university, told the newspaper.
Backlash against Colorado's gun control laws has already spawned two recall efforts against state senators, including state Senate President John Morse (D).
Correction: This post has been updated to reflect that the number of concealed-carry permits processed in Colorado in the first half of this year rose by 87 percent over the number processed during the same period last year.
Several GOP senators have voiced support for incumbent Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) over Liz Cheney, who recently announced she'll challenge him in a 2014 primary, according to a report published Sunday by Politico.
The senators said they're backing Enzi despite their respect for and friendship with Cheney's father, former Vice President Dick Cheney.
"I don't know why she's doing this," Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) told Politico. He said Enzi is "honest and decent, hard-working; he’s got very important positions in the Senate. He’s highly respected. And these are all things that would cause anybody to say: ‘Why would anybody run against him?’"
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said he liked Liz Cheney, but that it was important to support the incumbent. "This is about getting the majority in the Senate. And we have to support our friends and people who have done a good job."
Republican senators also said Cheney's father rarely speaks with current members of the chamber and has yet to take action of behalf of his daughter's campaign, according to Politico.
“I respect Dick Cheney, but Dick Cheney’s not running,” Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) told the publication.
A slim majority of Americans would vote in favor of legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states, according to a Gallup poll released Monday.
While 52 percent of Americans would vote in favor of legalizing gay marriage across the country, 43 percent said they would vote against such a federal law, the poll found.
A number of groups posted more than 60 percent support for national legalization of same-sex marriage in the Gallup poll, including self-identifying liberals, those who said they subscribed to "no religion" or "rarely/never attend church," Democrats, 18- to 34-year-olds, moderates, Easterners, and Catholics.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) took another swipe Sunday at New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) in the two Republicans' growing feud over national security, slamming the governor over spending on Hurricane Sandy relief funds.
Paul told reporters outside a Nashville fundraiser that the spending priorities of Christie and Rep. Peter King (R-NY) following Hurricane Sandy diverted vital resources from national security, according to the Associated Press.
"They’re precisely the same people who are unwilling to cut the spending, and their ‘Gimme, gimme, gimme — give me all my Sandy money now,” Paul said, as quoted by the AP. “Those are the people who are bankrupting the government and not letting enough money be left over for national defense.”
King told the AP in a phone interview that Paul's criticism was "indefensible."
Police were investigating an incident at a gun show in Hot Springs, Ark. in which two men were accidentally shot, Missouri television station KY3 News reported Sunday.
A gun show attendee picked up a gun from a table when the weapon discharged, hitting him in the hand before the bullet grazed another attendee, authorities told the news station. Neither man had life-threatening injuries.
San Diego Mayor Bob Filner refused calls for his resignation Friday and instead said during a news conference that he planned to enter counseling amid accusations that he sexually harassed various women.
"I must take responsibility for my conduct by taking action so that such conduct does not ever happen again," Filner said during the brief news conference. "Beginning on August 5th, I will be entering a behavior counseling clinic to undergo two weeks of intensive therapy."
Filner's announcement ended abruptly when the microphone at the news conference went out. He resumed the announcement after the technical issues were solved.
Filner went on to say that he would be at the clinic full-time over those two weeks, but intends to be briefed on city activities twice daily.
"My hope is that becoming a better person, I put myself in a position to some day be forgiven," Filner said. "However, before I even think of asking for forgiveness, I need to demonstrate that my behavior has changed. That will only happen over time and only if such incidents never, ever happen again. So when I return on August 19th, my focus will be on making sure that I am doing right by the city in terms of being the best mayor I can be."
Filner has faced calls to resign from prominent local and national figures in recent days as more women have come forward to accuse the mayor of sexually harassing them.
Here's video of Filner's announcment and his microphone going dead:
San Diego Mayor Bob Filner's office refused to accept a subpoena from the city attorney's office Thursday, the U-T San Diego reported.
"Our investigators tried to serve him directly with a subpoena and they were told to go away by Lee Burdick,” City Attorney Jan Goldsmith told the U-T. Burdick is Filner's newly-minted chief of staff.
The subpoena was to be served for a deposition in the suit filed by attorney Gloria Allred on behalf of Filner's former communications director, Irene McCormack, who accused Filner of sexual harassment.
"Our lawyers have scheduled a deposition with Mr. Filner, coordinating with Gloria Allred, for August 9,” Goldsmith told the U-T. “The purpose of the deposition is to put him under oath and get his side of the story. That is what due process is.”
The FBI said in a letter made public this week that it has used drones on U.S. soil for surveillance in 10 cases since 2006.
The letter, which Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) released Thursday after receiving it from the agency, said the FBI has used unmanned aerial vehicles in eight criminal cases and two national security cases since 2006. The drones were unarmed, the July 19 letter said, and none was used "to conduct 'bulk' surveillance or to conduct general surveillance not related to an investigation or assessment."