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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

Salon political writer and former TPM reporter Brian Beutler powerfully recounted his own personal story about getting shot by a black man wearing a hoodie in an article published Monday that dressed down the practice of racial profiling.

Beutler was shot in the shoulder when two hoodie-wearing, young black men attempted to mug him and a friend five years ago in Washington, D.C. He wrote that recent high-profile events -- like public reaction to the George Zimmerman trial -- prompted him to share the episode. Beutler wrote that he was also partly responding to actor and former Obama administration official Kal Penn, who recently made comments in favor of the New York Police Department's stop-and-frisk practice after being held at gunpoint in Washington.

From Beutler's case against racial profiling:

Penn got in trouble for touting the supposed merits of New York’s stop-and-frisk policy. To the objection that the policy disproportionately targets blacks and Latinos, he responded, “And who, sadly, commits & are victims of the most crimes?”

 

But that’s a non sequitur. A false rationale. Take people’s fear out of the equation and the logical artifice collapses. Canadians are highly overrepresented in the field of professional ice hockey, but it would be ridiculous for anyone to walk around Alberta presumptively asking strangers on the street for autographs. When you treat everyone as a suspect, you get a lot of false positives. That’s why above and beyond the obvious injustice of it, stop and frisk isn’t wise policy. Minorities might commit most of the crime in U.S. cities, and be the likeliest victims of it, and that’s a problem with a lot of causes that should be addressed in a lot of ways. But crime is pretty rare. Not rare like being a professional hockey player is rare. But rare. Most people, white or minority, don’t do it at all.

Read Beutler's full piece here.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) signed legislation Sunday that compels gun owners to report missing firearms to police and run background checks on potential buyers.

The legislation closed a loophole in Illinois law that allowed private parties to sell guns without a background check, even though gun show merchants and licensed firearm dealers had to perform the check, according to the Chicago Tribune. Beginning on Jan. 1, individual gun owners will be required to contact state police to verify the purchaser is allowed to have a gun before selling or transferring ownership of a firearm.

Gun owners were also required under the law to notify police within 72 hours of a weapon being lost or stolen, effective immediately, according to the newspaper.

[Image via Varlanov Anatoly / Shutterstock]

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) backtracked Sunday after initially thanking a supporter who called Abbott's potential 2014 opponent in the governor's race, state Sen. Wendy Davis (D), "retard barbie."

The offensive language was used in a tweet to the attorney general on Saturday, with the supporter also writing that Abbott would "demolish" Davis in a match-up and calling her an "idiot." Abbott replied on the same day, telling the supporter, "Jeff, thanks for your support."

But Abbott backtracked on Sunday with a second tweet. He did not apologize, but he wrote that he did not "endorse anyone's offensive language." An Abbott campaign spokesperson told the Dallas Morning News that the attorney general writes all of his tweets himself.

Davis has fueled speculation about a gubernatorial run after her marathon filibuster of an abortion bill earlier this year. Recently Davis said she will either be running for re-election to her state Senate seat or for the governor's office. 

This post has been updated.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus on Sunday brushed off criticism of the organization's debate ultimatum from a former senior advisor to Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign.  

"This Week" host George Stephanopoulos asked Priebus to respond to Eric Fehrnstrom's tweet, which said it was "bad optics" for the party and a "loser's game" to ban CNN and NBC from partnering with the RNC for 2016 presidential debates over pending film projects about Hillary Clinton.

"Well, I don’t know if his Etch a Sketch is on tilt, George," Priebus said. "I’m not really taking advice from Eric Fehrnstrom right now.”

The remark referenced Fehrnstrom's memorable comment on the 2012 campaign trail that seemed to imply Romney would change his position on key issues as need be to get elected.

“Well, I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign,” Fehrnstrom said. “Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch-A-Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all over again.”

Correction: This post has been updated to correct the title of the show to "This Week."

An Alabama Republican Party member's Facebook post in support of gay marriage catalyzed a proposed amendment to the state party's bylaws that would remove anyone publicly supporting a position contrary to the national GOP platform from its steering committee, Yellowhammer News reported Thursday.

Alabama College Republicans Chairwoman Stephanie Petelos posted a positive reaction to the Supreme Court's striking down of the Defense of Marriage Act on Facebook this summer and invited her friends to "like" a page called "Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry," according to the news website.

“I feel like as a member of the Steering Committee and leadership, that you have a higher duty to support the party’s platform in your official capacity,” Don Wallace, the president of the Alabama Republican Assembly and the party member who proposed the amendment, told the Yellowhammer News. “When the College Republican Chairwoman made official statements in conflict with the party platform’s support for traditional marriage, as well as the Governor and Chairman Armistead, I believe that requires action by the Republican Party on both procedural and moral grounds.”

The Alabama GOP's executive committee will vote on the amendment on Aug. 24, according to the news website.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) on Friday expressed concern that the National Security Agency is not giving "straightforward answers" about its surveillance activity after a Washington Post report revealed the agency broke privacy rules thousands of times a year. 

"The American people rely on the intelligence community to provide forthright and complete information so that Congress and the courts can properly conduct oversight. I remain concerned that we are still not getting straightforward answers from the NSA," Leahy said in a written statement.

"I plan to hold another hearing on these matters in the Judiciary Committee and will continue to demand honest and forthright answers from the intelligence community," the statement continued. "Using advanced surveillance technologies in secret demands close oversight and appropriate checks and balances, and the American people deserve no less than that."

The Republican National Committee is scheduled to vote at 11 a.m. EST Friday on a resolution barring CNN and NBC from parterning with the organization for 2016 presidential debates unless those networks scuttle planned film productions about Hillary Clinton. Watch live below. 

NSA leaker Edward Snowden told the Huffington Post on Thursday that news organizations have been "misled" by associates of his father into printing "false claims" about his legal situation.

"I would like to correct the record: I've been fortunate to have legal advice from an international team of some of the finest lawyers in the world, and to work with journalists whose integrity and courage are beyond question," Snowden wrote in an email to the Huffington Post's Michael Calderone. "There is no conflict amongst myself and any of the individuals or organizations with whom I have been involved."

"Neither my father, his lawyer Bruce Fein, nor his wife Mattie Fein represent me in any way," the email continued. "None of them have been or are involved in my current situation, and this will not change in the future. I ask journalists to understand that they do not possess any special knowledge regarding my situation or future plans, and not to exploit the tragic vacuum of my father's emotional compromise for the sake of tabloid news."

Snowden's email "correcting the record" came on the heels of a Wall Street Journal report published Thursday, in which Mrs. Fein said the lawyers of Snowden's father believed journalist Glenn Greenwald and Julian Assange's WikiLeaks organization had been working to promote their own interests over those of Snowden.

An advisor to Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) on Thursday dismissed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's (R) speech at a luncheon for the Republican National Committee, in which the governor argued the GOP needs to govern rather than brainstorm.

"I think that we have some folks who believe that our job is to be college professors … for our ideas to matter we have to win," Christie said at the closed-door luncheon, according to media reports. "Because if we don't win, we don't govern. And if we don't govern, all we do is shout to the wind."

"So if I translate Gov. Christie correctly, we shouldn't be the party of ideas," Paul adviser Doug Stafford wrote CNN in an email. "We shouldn't care what we stand for or even if we stand for anything. We reject that idea. Content-free so-called 'pragmatism' is the problem, not the solution."

Christie's speech hearkened back to a heated feud between he and the Kentucky senator over the direction of the party. Christie had called the strain of libertarianism in the GOP "dangerous," dismissing politicians like Paul as "esoteric" and too caught up in "intellectual debates."

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (D) plans to travel to Iowa later this month to speak at a labor convention, the New York Times reported Thursday.

An aide for Democracy for America, the grassroots progressive PAC Dean founded, told the Times that the former presidential candidate will speak about the group's efforts to elect more Democrats to state legislatures at the Iowa Federation of Labor convention in Altoona on Aug. 21. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) urged Dean to speak at the convention, according to the aide.

Dean recently told CNN that he would consider launching another presidential bid. 

"This isn’t the last you’ll be hearing of Dean and Democracy for America in Iowa leading up to 2016,” the aide told the Times.

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