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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
The U.S. Department of Education plans to investigate a "Redneck Day" celebration at an Arizona high school that caused a stir among civil rights activists, the Associated Press reported Thursday.
Back in May, a student at Queen Creek High School wore a Confederate flag on "Redneck Day," which was part of the school's "spirit week." The student was asked to change his clothing, according to the school's superintendent.
The DOE's Civil Rights office said that the investigation "will be limited to whether a racially hostile environment was created due to language and actions that were not protected by the First Amendment" in the case of the Confederate flag, according to the AP.
Correction: This post has been updated to show that the Associated Press, not the Arizona Republic, reported on the Department of Education's plans to investigate "Redneck Day." The headline has been changed to reflect that the the report indicated the department planned to investigate. It was unclear when the investigation would begin.
The union for employees of the Internal Revenue Service is opposing a GOP bill that would force them out of the current health care plan for federal employees and into the exchanges created by Obamacare, the Washington Examiner reported Thursday.
The bill by Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) would move federal employees, including the president and vice president and lawmakers and their staffs, from the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program into Obamacare. The majority of nearly 100,000 IRS employees have coverage through the FEHBP, according to the Examiner.
Leaders from the National Taxpayer Employee Union provided members with a letter to send to their congressional representatives reading, "I am very concerned about legislation that has been introduced by Congressman Dave Camp to push federal employees out of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and into the insurance exchanges established under the Affordable Care Act," according to the Examiner.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) slammed the Republican Party's increasingly libertarian foreign policy as "dangerous" in a speech Thursday at the Aspen Institute, including Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) among the group he says engages in "esoteric" debates that don't result in much progress.
"As a former prosecutor who was appointed by President George W. Bush on Sept. 10, 2001, I just want us to be really cautious, because this strain of libertarianism that’s going through both parties right now and making big headlines, I think, is a very dangerous thought,” Christie said.
When asked if that criticism applied to Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Christie said "you can name any number of people who've engaged in it, and he's one of them."
“These esoteric, intellectual debates -- I want them to come to New Jersey and sit across from the widows and the orphans and have that conversation," he continued. "And they won't. Because that's a much tougher conversation to have."
Watch video of the Aspen Institute speech below. Christie's remarks come at the 1:02:00 mark.
Four San Diego women came forward Thursday to accuse San Diego Mayor Bob Filner of uncomfortable sexual advances, bring the total of accusers to seven.
In an interview with San Diego's KPBS News, the president of the city's Port Tenants Association, a former Navy rear-admiral, a prominent area businesswoman, and a San Diego State University dean described their experiences with Filner.
Veronica "Ronne" Froman, the retired rear-admiral, told KPBS that Filner ran his finger up her cheek before asking "Do you have a man in your life?"
"I was really rattled, I got in the car with the two guys I was working with and I told them never to leave me alone in a room with Bob Filner again," she added.
Patti Roscoe, the businesswoman, told KPBS that she broke her silence because she thinks it's "not good enough" to brush off the alleged incidents as Filner being "just Bob."
"Bob Filner is the leader of our city," she said. "He's in a position now where he can't be in a meeting with a female staffer, and there are young women working for him, young women who work in organizations that perhaps he has power over. To think that my silence, our silence, is affecting those young women is devastating."
The Federal Election Commission voted Thursday to treat political donations from married same-sex couples just as it would treat donations from married heterosexual couples, making it one of the first federal entities to comply with the Supreme Court's ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), USA Today reported.
The FEC had issued an advisory ruling in April stating that a same-sex couple belonging to the Massachusetts Republican group Log Cabin Republicans could not donate to Senate candidate Dan Winslow (R-MA) from a joint bank account. In the wake of the Supreme Court's partial striking down of DOMA in June, Winslow and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee asked the FEC to reconsider its opinion, according to USA Today.
The FEC's decision also allows gay candidates for public office to use jointly held assets with their spouses as a source of campaign funding, per the USA Today.
President Barack Obama issued a statement Thursday offering his and First Lady Michelle Obama's sympathies to the families of those killed or injured in Wednesday's train crash in Santiago de Compostela, Spain.
"On behalf of the American people, we offer our deepest sympathies and condolences to the families and loved ones of the more than 80 people who lost their lives. We extend our wishes for a full recovery to those who were hurt," Obama said in the statement. "We also offer our heartfelt gratitude to the Government of Spain and to the rescue personnel who are working to locate the missing and treat the injured – including at least six Americans. Today the American people grieve with our Spanish friends, who are in our thoughts and prayers. We stand ready to provide any assistance we can in the difficult days ahead."
More Americans said they'd support a 20-week ban on abortions rather than current law's 24-week benchmark even as they oppose burdensome restrictions on abortion providers, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll released Thursday.
Of those surveyed, 56 percent said they would rather have abortions "legal without restriction" up to 20 weeks compared to 27 percent who would rather have unrestricted abortions up to 24 weeks, which is the general period allowed under the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision.
The poll found that more Americans oppose state measures that make it difficult for abortion clinics to run, however, by a margin of 54 percent to 45 percent.
The poll accompanies a slew of Republican-supported abortion legislation recently passed in states like Texas, North Carolina and Wisconsin that tackle both 20-week abortion bans and operating standards for abortion providers.
Feminist activist Gloria Steinem gave her opinion Wednesday on Huma Abedin's defense of her husband, former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D), in the face of new allegations that he participated in sexually illicit chats on the internet.
“I have no way of knowing whether Huma, for whom I have great respect, is responding out of new motherhood, the Stockholm syndrome or a mystery,” Steinem wrote the New York Times in an e-mail.
Steinem's criticism was directed at Weiner, however: “I strongly object to holding one spouse responsible for the other’s acts,” she wrote. “He’s the one who should get out of the race.”
Steinem had previously endorsed Weiner's opponent in the New York City mayoral race, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange announced Thursday that he'll be running for a seat in the Australian Senate later this year under the banner of his newly inaugurated WikiLeaks Party, the New York Times reported.
“My plans are to essentially parachute in a crack troop of investigative journalists into the Senate and to do what we have done with WikiLeaks, in holding banks and government and intelligence agencies to account,” Assange told the Times in a phone interview.
Assange said he's confident he'll be able to campaign out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he has taken asylum for the past year in order to avoid extradition to Sweden on sexual assault allegations.
“There is, of course, some possibility that the Australian Senate would permit remote involvement. It’s never been done before, but it is theoretically possible,” Assange said of Australia's law requiring him to take up the Senate seat within a year if elected. “But in any event we have candidates available to hold the seat until such time as I am available to take it.”
The Pentagon on Wednesday halted the delivery of four F-16 fighter jets to Egypt as President Barack Obama seeks to impress on the Egyptian military that the United States is unhappy with its handling of the political turmoil in that country, the New York Times reported.
“Given the current situation in Egypt, we do not believe it is appropriate to move forward at this time with the delivery of F-16s,” said Pentagon Press Secretary George Little, as quoted by the Times.
"We’ve been very clear with the military: we understand this is a difficult situation but we want things to get back on track,” an anonymous White House official told the Times, while an unnamed Pentagon official described the move as an "inside fastball."
Following the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi, U.S. officials had said they did not plan to change the fighter jet shipment.