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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

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) on Monday called a special legislative session for next month aimed at passing a bill to legalize gay marriage in the state.

"The decision to call a special session is based on doing what is right to create equity for all in Hawaii," Abercrombie said in a statement, as quoted by Reuters. He added that the special session would allow the legislature to "focus squarely" on the issue without being distracted by other legislation.

The special session would convene both houses of the state legislature on October 28, according to Reuters. 

Hawaii already allows same-sex civil unions and grants the same benefits and protections to same-sex couples as to couples of the opposite sex. According to Reuters, the new bill would ensure that same-sex couples are afforded the same federal benefits that couples of the opposite sex receive.

Hawaii would be the 14th state, in addition to the District of Columbia, to legalize gay marriage if the bill passes.

George Zimmerman was taken into custody on Monday following an altercation with another person involving a gun, Orlando's WKMG reported.

Police told the news station they were called to respond to a report that Zimmerman was involved in an altercation with another individual at a home on Sprucewood Road in Lake Mary, Fla. A threat was involved, police said.

No other details about the incident were immediately available, according to WKMG.

Update:

George Zimmerman has not been arrested and Lake Mary police are at the home trying to determine what happened, the Associated Press reported. The AP also reported that police said Zimmerman's wife, Shellie, made the call saying Zimmerman threatened her and her father with a gun.

Late Update:

WKMG is now reporting that Zimmerman is "being questioned" about the incident.

Listen to the audio of the 911 call here.

National Security Advisor Susan Rice said Monday that United Nations negotiations on Syria have been "shameful," singling out Russia and China as obstacles to diplomatic progress in the Syrian conflict.

Rice, who served as the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. from 2009 until this past June, assured in a speech at the New America Foundation that President Barack Obama would have preferred to secure the U.N. Security Council's support in responding to chemical weapons in Syria with limited military action.

"But let's be realistic. It is just not going to happen," she said. "Believe me. I know. I was there for all of those debates and negotiations on Syria. I lived it. It was shameful." 

Rice added that three resolutions proposed by the Security Council condemning violence by the Syrian regime, despite including "the most watered-down language imaginable" that rendered them "almost meaningless," were vetoed by Russia and China.

 

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power was pressed on Monday about the legality of potential U.S. military strikes against Syria and maintained that such action is "legitimate, necessary and proportionate."

"You're representing the U.S. at the United Nations, which has not authorized a strike," NPR Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep asked the ambassador. "Would an American strike on Syria be legal?"

"If we take military action in this context, it will be a legitimate, necessary and proportionate response to this large-scale and indiscriminate use of chemical weapons by the [Syrian] regime," Power responded.

Inskeep later asked Power to clarify whether she intended to say that at this stage in the process the Obama administration needed to go outside the "legal framework" to attack Syria.

In response, Power reiterated an argument she's made over the past several days: that it has been "structurally impossible" for the United States to get support for military action through the U.N. Security Council due to Russia's support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

[h/t Huffington Post]

Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that limited missile strikes the United States were planning against Syria would constitute an "unbelievably small" attack.

"We will be able to hold [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad accountable without engaging in troops on the ground or any other prolonged kind of effort in a very limited, very targeted, short-term effort that degrades his capacity to deliver chemical weapons without assuming responsibility for Syria's civil war," Kerry said at a press conference in London, as quoted by the Guardian. "That is exactly what we are talking about doing – unbelievably small, limited kind of effort."

Kerry also suggested that Assad could avoid a U.S. attack altogether if he were to turn any chemical weapons he may possess over to the international community within the next week, but acknowledged that scenario would be highly unlikely.

Three Tea Party-supported Republican lawmakers thanked the Egyptian military for both the July 3 overthrow of former President Mohammed Morsi and crackdowns on protesters in the chaotic weeks that followed in a video released Saturday.

The video, published Saturday, was apparently recorded a few hours after Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Steve King (R-IA) and Louie Gohmert (R-TX) met with Egyptian military leader General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi over the weekend, according to the Washington Post.

“I want to assure the people of Egypt that I, as a member of Congress, will stand strong in support of continuing military support, United States support financially, to stand for the military in Egypt,” said Bachmann, who led the remarks. “We know that you have been a partner. You’ve been a partner in the war on terrorism. You’ve acted bravely here on the front lines.”

Bachmann went on to suggest that the Muslim Brotherhood, the party of the former Egyptian president, was responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

"We have seen the threat that the Muslim Brotherhood has posed, here, for the people of Egypt. We’ve seen the threat that the Muslim Brotherhood posed around the world," she continued. "We stand against this great evil. We remember who caused nine-one-one in America. We remember who it was that killed 3,000 brave Americans. We have not forgotten. We know that you have dealt with that enemy as well.”

The Republican lawmakers' effusive praise contrasted the Obama administration's cautious position on Egypt's interim government. While the president and his staff have not described the transition of power in Egypt as a "coup," administration officials have weighed suspending aid to that country in the wake of bloody crackdowns on civilian protests. 

An effort has been launched in Maryland to separate five western counties fed up with liberal leadership from the rest of the state, the Washington Post reported Sunday.

The move has been led by Maryland resident Scott Strzelczyk's Western Maryland Initiative. Strzelczyk, 49, is an information technology consultant who considers himself a constitutionalist. 

“If you think you have a long list of grievances and it’s been going on for decades, and you can’t get it resolved, ultimately this is what you have to do,” Strzelczyk, who resides in Carroll County, told the Post. “Otherwise you are trapped.”

Strzelczyk told the Post he wants to live in a smaller state with more "personal liberty, less government intrusion, less federal entanglements.” Among his other political notions are putting gay marriage to a vote and abolishing the U.S. Department of Education.

The five western counties -- Garrett, Allegany, Washington, Frederick and Carroll -- comprise just 11 percent of the Maryland's population, according to 2010 Census estimates, and vote overwhelmingly Republican.

Stzelczyk has yet to push county commissioners to put the initiative to voters.

Other secession efforts that have cropped up across the nation this summer have moved closer to achieving their goals. Colorado's Weld County voted to put a 51st state initiative on the November ballot last month. Last week, the board of California's Siskiyou County voted to secede from that state.

[Image via Shutterstock / Glynnis Jones]

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) slammed the U.S. Supreme Court on Sunday as being too right-wing in serving the interests of corporate America.

Warren warned union leaders at the AFL-CIO convention in Los Angeles of a "corporate capture of the federal courts," citing an academic study that counted the five conservative-minded Supreme Court justices among the "top 10 most pro-corporate justices in half a century," according to Politico.

“You follow this pro-corporate trend to its logical conclusion, and sooner or later you’ll end up with a Supreme Court that functions as a wholly owned subsidiary of big business,” she said, as quoted by Politico. 

The Massachusetts Democrat also struck a chord with labor by voicing skepticism about upcoming trade deals and criticizing Wall Street for throwing "everything they've got" against banking regulation.

"Ah, if we could only clone her," AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said after Warren concluded her remarks, as quoted by Politico.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to make her first public remarks on U.S. military action in Syria when she visits the White House on Monday, a Clinton aide told Politico.

The unidentified aide told Politico that Clinton's remarks will come after a private meeting with President Barack Obama, when she appears at an unrelated wildlife preservation event at which her daughter Chelsea appears on the program. Clinton is expected to briefly speak about Syria at the beginning of the event, the aide said.

Clinton is also expected to reiterate her remarks in a speech Tuesday at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, the source said.

Last week, an unnamed Clinton aide said the former secretary of state "supports the President’s effort to enlist the Congress in pursuing a strong and targeted response to the Assad regime’s horrific use of chemical weapons."

President Barack Obama joined Vice President Joe Biden Sunday night at the Naval Observatory for a dinner Biden hosted for Republican senators, according to the White House.

Obama spent about an hour and a half meeting with the senators before returning to the White House, according to pool reports. In attendance were Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Susan Collins (R-ME), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Bob Corker (R-TN), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Deb Fischer (R-NE).

The Obama administration has been lobbying members of Congress since the president announced he would seek their approval for military action against Syria in response to a reported chemical weapons attack on Aug. 21 in Damascus.

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