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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

Abortion rights groups filed a lawsuit Friday claiming two provisions of the state's new abortion law are unconstitutional, the Dallas Morning News reported.

The Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood, and the American Civil Liberties Union asked a federal judge to stop the law from taking effect as scheduled on Oct. 29, according to the newspaper. The groups' lawsuit challenged provisions of the law that would require doctors follow FDA protocol in administering abortion pills and mandate doctors gain admitting privileges at local hospitals.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (R), a candidate for governor who supports the abortion law, plans to represent the state in U.S. district court, according to the Morning News. 

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) had a sharp message Thursday for congressional Republicans, including those from his home state, opposed to Obamacare: "get over it."

Writing in an op-ed published in the New York Times, Beshear acknowledged that Kentucky is a red state claiming two prominent Republican members of Congress, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Rand Paul. But Beshear argued even Republican governors like Arizona's Jan Brewer, Ohio's John Kasich and Michigan's Rick Snyder have been able to accept Obamacare as "a tool for historic change" rather than "a referendum on President Obama." 

"So, to those more worried about political power than Kentucky’s families, I say, 'Get over it,'" he wrote. "The Affordable Care Act was approved by Congress and sanctioned by the Supreme Court. It is the law of the land."

"Get over it ... and get out of the way so I can help my people."

Beshear wrote that he was "offended" by the "partisan gamesmanship" of Obamacare's detractors, since he said Kentucky residents rank among the worst in the nation in several major health categories due to their lack of affordable health coverage. McConnell has been vocal about his opposition to Obamacare, but has admitted that shutting down the government wouldn't stop the implementation of the health care law. For his part, Paul assisted Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in his 21-hour floor speech against Obamacare, but has also been noncommittal about forcing a government shutdown.

The health insurance exchanges set up by the Affordable Care Act are slated to open on Oct. 1.

Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) said Friday that fellow Texan Sen. Ted Cruz's (R) presidential prospects were damaged by his 21-hour floor speech against Obamacare.

“I think what became clear this week is that he can’t be president and the reason is nobody will follow him, even people within his own party won’t follow him,” Castro said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “And so I think in terms of his long term prospects it was fairly damaging." 

The Texas Democrat noted that Cruz's speech had a polarizing effect. Some of Cruz's Republican colleagues were vocal about their disapproval: Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) on Thursday accused Cruz from the Senate floor of putting on a "show" instead of working to avoid a government shutdown. 

"I think that he wanted to make a big splash and he certainly has," Castro said. "He's done something that I think is unusual, which is he's made Washington worse, he's made the polarization worse."

He had tweeted a similar sentiment during Cruz's speech.

Castro added that Cruz's stance on the health care law doesn't encompass the views of many Texans.

"It was really hard to hear Ted speak about representing 26 million Texans when he was giving that talk, because there are millions and millions of Texans who are without health care coverage and who very much disagree with his point of view and who also are looking forward to the chance to get health care coverage," he said.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) responded to critics of his 21-hour floor speech against Obamacare on Thursday, calling his Republican colleagues "scared" of taking the fall for a government shutdown.

In Cruz's first television interview since the marathon speech, Fox News host Sean Hannity asked the senator to address Sen. Bob Corker's (R-TN) accusation that he put on a "show" at the expense of sending legislation back to the House in time to avert a government shutdown. 

"I don't want to speculate about Bob Corker's motivations in coming to the floor, supporting Harry Reid and attacking Mike Lee, which is what he did this afternoon," the Texas Republican said. "Let me say this generally. A lot of Republicans, they've been here a long time. They are beaten down. They're scared that if we stand together on this and if a government shutdown results, that Republicans will be blamed and it's too politically risky."

Cruz then accused Republicans of trying to save themselves from blame for a shutdown by voting yes for cloture on a continuing resolution, then spinning that as a vote against the health care law.

"You know, some of those Republicans are telling their constituents they are going to vote for cloture," Cruz said. "They are going to vote for giving Harry Reid the power to fund Obamacare, but they're trying to convince their constituents that that's a vote against Obamacare. It just isn't."

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) told CBS News in an interview airing in full this weekend that pushing for a government shutdown is "irresponsible."

"I think there's got to be a solution other than that," Christie said on CBS' "Sunday Morning," adding that he doesn't think "responsible" Republican leaders are advocating for a shutdown. 

The New Jersey governor didn't call out any of the Republicans, most notably Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who are trying to link a continuing resolution to fund the government to defunding Obamacare. Christie, despite calling himself "no fan of Obamacare," enacted legislation expanding Medicaid for his state under the health care law.

"I think it’s always irresponsible if you’re running the government to be advocating for shutting it down,” Christie said. “That, by definition, is a failure. You’ve gotta work it out.”

California's Modoc County voted Tuesday to join neighboring Siskiyou County in exploring secession from the state, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The Modoc County Board of Supervisors voted 4-0, with one supervisor absent, to consider joining Siskiyou County's bid to secede and band with counterparts in Southern Oregon to form a new state to be called "Jefferson," according to the Times.

A spokesperson for the Jefferson Declaration Committee, Mark Baird, told the Redding Record-Searchlight that the group would like to have a dozen counties sign onto the effort before approaching the California legislature with a secession bid.

“California is essentially ungovernable in its present size,” Baird told the Record-Searchlight. “We lack the representation to address the problems that affect the North State.”

Several Colorado counties also explored seceding to form "North Colorado" this summer, and the state's Weld County will vote on a 51st state ballot initiative in November.

Any secession bid would require the approval of both the state legislature and Congress.

This post has been updated.

Police said a man trying to place his gun in his waistband accidentally shot himself in the abdomen Wednesday night at a McDonald's parking lot in Callaway, Fla., the Panama City News-Herald reported.

Witnesses heard a gun shot and saw the man exit his vehicle holding his stomach before falling to the ground, according to a news release from police. One witness, seated in a car next to the man's Saturn, told police the man said "…I accidentally shot myself." The man was conscious and able to confirm he accidentally shot himself when police arrived on scene, according to the release.

Police also learned that the man, along with his girlfriend and her brother, had been smoking marijuana before the incident, according to the newspaper.

President Barack Obama warned Thursday in a speech on his signature health care law that glitches may occur in the rollout of the Affordable Care Act's health insurance exchanges on Oct. 1.

"Folks in different parts of the country will have different experiences. It's going to be smoother in places like Maryland, where governors are working to implement it rather than fight it," the president told a crowd at Prince George's Community College in Largo, Md. "But somewhere around the country, there's going to be a computer glitch and the website's not working quite the way it's supposed to, or something happens where there's some error made somewhere. That will happen."

Obama said that while opponents of the law may seize on any hiccups in the program's launch to argue against it, possible glitches won't prove that the law isn't working the way it should. 

"I guarantee you the opponents of the law will have their cameras ready to document anything that doesn't go completely right and they'll send it to the news folks and they'll say look at this, this thing's not working," he continued. "Every time they have predicted something not working, it's worked."

President Barack Obama trumpeted his signature health care law Thursday in Largo, Md., five days ahead of the date its insurance plan exchanges are set to open for business.

"The Affordable Care Act is here," the president told the crowd in a speech at Prince George's Community College. "I don't have to tell you it was a challenge to get it done."

Obama pointed out that despite staunch Republican opposition -- and over 40 votes in Congress aimed at repealing Obamacare -- the health care law passed both houses of Congress and was upheld by the Supreme Court. The health insurance exchanges are slated to open on Oct. 1.

The State Department renewed a "worldwide caution" alert Wednesday night following an attack last weekend on a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya by an al-Qaida affiliated terrorist group. 

"Current information suggests that al-Qa’ida, its affiliated organizations, and other terrorist groups continue to plan terrorist attacks against U.S. interests in multiple regions, including Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East," the alert read. "These attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics including suicide operations, assassinations, kidnappings, hijackings, and bombings."

The alert replaces a worldwide caution issued in February. In early August, the State Department ordered the temporary closure of embassies and diplomatic posts in the Middle East and northern Africa out of an "abundance of caution" for terror threats emanating from the Arabian peninsula.

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