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Catherine Thompson

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 catherine@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Catherine

President Barack Obama on Monday laid out his plan to use technology to make the federal government "smarter, more innovative and more accountable." 

Obama highlighted the administration's response to Hurricane Sandy, when the federal government gave victims of the storm access to FEMA mobile and web apps, as an example of how technology has worked for government services. The president emphasized that there is still far more work to be done in streamlining such services, however, and called on Congress to play a central part in that effort.

"We sure could use Congress' help" on streamlining government, he said. "They give a lot of lip service to it."

"We all have a stake in government working better because government is us," he added.

At least 51 people were killed Monday in a clash between Islamist supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and military forces in Cairo, Reuters reported.

Islamist protesters said the army opened fire on them during their morning prayers outside the barracks where Morsi is believed to be held, according to Reuters.

An insurance company based in Iowa has refused to renew coverage for Kansas schools that permit teachers and staff to carry concealed firearms on campus, the Des Moines Register reported on Sunday.

EMC Insurance Cos. made the decision after Kansas enacted a new law to allow the concealed guns on campus. The company told the newspaper the decision was based on financial policy, not politics. The company reportedly covers 85 to 90 percent of Kansas school districts.

"We’ve been writing school business for almost 40 years, and one of the underwriting guidelines we follow for schools is that any on-site armed security should be provided by uniformed, qualified law enforcement officers,” Mick Lovell, EMC’s vice president for business development, told the Des Moines Register. “Our guidelines have not recently changed.” 

The Kansas law passed in the wake of the Newtown, Conn. school shooting went into effect July 1, allowing Kansas schools to permit teachers and staff to carry weapons to protect children. No school districts in the state had adopted a concealed-carry policy as of Saturday, according to the Register.

[Image via Micha Klootwijk/Shutterstock]

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) plans to make an announcement regarding his political future at 1 p.m. CT Monday in San Antonio, the Dallas Morning News reported.

The three-term governor and former presidential candidate wouldn't rule out yet another gubernatorial run in an interview with Fox News on Sunday, saying he will comment on that possibility in the announcement.

The National Transportation Safety Board released photos from its investigation of the San Francisco plane crash scene on Monday.

Niagara Falls will light up either pink or blue to celebrate the birth of Prince William and Kate Middleton's first child, the Associated Press reported Saturday.

The Niagara Parks Commission's Facebook page encourages visitors to guess whether the child will be a boy or a girl. The royal couple's baby is expected in mid-July.

President Barack Obama has signed just 15 bills into law thus far while battling congressional deadlock, according to Roll Call.

Before the Fourth of July congressional recess last year, Obama had signed 23 bills in the year with the smallest legislative output since World War II. During his first six months in office in 2009, the president signed 40 measures while working with a Democratic Congress, according to Roll Call.

Former presidents who worked with a Congress controlled partly by the opposing party passed far more legislation in the first six months of their terms, according to Roll Call.

Two Muslim Brotherhood officials were released Friday after being arrested in the wake former President Mohamed Morsi's ouster, Reuters reported.

Saad El-Katatni, the former parliament speaker and head of the brotherhood's political wing, and Rashad al-Bayoumi, a deputy brotherhood leader, were arrested Thursday. Egypt's public prosecutor ordered their release, although they remain under investigation for "inciting violence," according to Reuters.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) vetoed legislation Friday that would have annulled federal gun laws in the state and made it a crime for federal agents to enforce decades-old gun laws or for anyone to publish the names of gun owners, the Springfield News-Leader reported.

Nixon outlined how House Bill 436 would have violated the Constitution and the First Amendment in his veto message and accused the legislature of returning to Civil-War-era nullification. 

"By seeking to declare certain federal acts null and void, (House Bill 436) seeks to turn the hierarchy of our national framework of laws on its head in clear violation of Article VI of the U.S. Constitution,” Nixon wrote, as quoted by the News-Leader.

"There is no shortage of unacceptable scenarios that could result from this provision,” he added. “As one example, newspapers around the state annually publish photos of proud young Missourians who harvest their first turkey or deer. Under this bill, doing so would be a crime.”

Nixon did give his seal of approval Friday to a bill that allows state employees to keep firearms in their vehicles on state property and gives fire chiefs concealed-carry permissions. He called himself a proud gun owner and hunter who believes in the Second Amendment, according to the News-Leader.

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