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.
A plan to send a delegation of Russian lawmakers to Washington to lobby members of Congress against military intervention in Syria has been cancelled, the speaker of Russia's parliament said Friday.
State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin called U.S. lawmakers' refusal to meet with the delegation deplorable, according to CBS News, stating the lawmakers would no longer make the trip to the U.S.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) rejected the delegation's request to meet on Capitol Hill. A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Adam Jentleson, confirmed Thursday that Reid had also rejected the request, according to CBS News.
Bill O'Reilly voiced his support for military strikes against Syria Thursday night, slamming both the left and the right for their de facto opposition to military intervention.
The Fox News host rattled off an extensive number of current and former politicians and pundits on both sides of the aisle along with their positions on Syria, calling the debate on the issue "healthy" before tearing into what he saw as baseless reasons for opposing military action.
"Back in America, it distresses me that some on the left will not support military action designed to protect and strengthen this country, ever," he said. "Some on the right despise Barack Obama so much that whatever he does, they oppose. We Americans should always put country first."
O'Reilly said opposing military intervention is "valid if done for the right reasons," but called those opposing strikes on the basis of the "fantasy" Syrian President Bashar al-Assad did not use chemical weapons "flat out wrong."
"If you believe it would cause more harm to this country than good in the long run, then opposition is a must. I don't believe that," he said.
Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken said Friday that it's neither President Barack Obama's "desire nor his intention" to strike Syria without Congressional approval.
Speaking on NPR's Morning Edition, Blinken said the president "has the authority to act, but it's neither his desire nor his intention to use that authority absent Congress backing him."
Obama said earlier this week at a press conference in Sweden that he believes he was not required to consult Congress on striking Syria, but predicted that Congress would pass a resolution authorizing the use of military force.
TPM is keeping track of where members of Congress stand on the Syrian intervention vote here.
Secretary of State John Kerry warned Thursday that if the United States does not act in Syria, extremists could hijack "moderate" opposition forces supported by the U.S and its allies.
In an interview with MSNBC's Chris Hayes, Kerry was asked if rebel soldiers shown in a video obtained by the New York Times, in which they allegedly prepare to execute seven captured Syrian soldiers, would be considered U.S. allies.
"No. In fact, I believe that those men in those videos are disadvantaged by an American response to the chemical weapons used because it, in fact, empowers the moderate opposition," Kerry responded.
The secretary said the administration is aware of close to a dozen "really bad" groups fighting against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime. But he said that U.S.-supported rebels go through a "vetting process," warning of "jihadists who have been attracted by the chaos of Syria."
"They are not part of the opposition that is being supported by our friends and ourselves," Kerry said of the rebel soldiers in the video. "That is a moderate opposition. They condemn what has happened today."
"I guarantee you if we turn our backs today, the picture we all saw in the paper today and the media of those people being shot, that will take place more because more extremists will be attracted to this, because they will be funded as the only alternative in order to take on Assad," he added.
President Barack Obama is scheduled hold a press conference Friday at 9:50 a.m. ET from the G20 Leader's Summit in Saint Petersburg, Russia, according to the White House.
According to the White House schedule, Obama was also expected to hold bilateral meetings with President Xi Jinping of China and President Francois Hollande of France, as well as host a roundtable with members of Russian civil society later in the day.
A professor at Michigan State University has been relieved of his teaching duties after making anti-Republican comments in front of a college class, the Detroit News reported Thursday.
Writing professor William Penn said in videotaped remarks posted by CampusReform, an organization geared toward young conservative students, that Republicans "don't want to pay taxes because they have already raped this country and gotten everything out of it they possibly could." In a nod to his students, he added that GOP supporters don't want to pay for college students' tuition.
Penn went on to slam former presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his wife, Ann.
"But Ann Romney a first lady? And remember this if you are just going to be a greedy bastard all your whole life," he said in the video, which was recorded by a student last week. "In order to be rich like Mitt Romney … you have to be, think about it, Mitt Romney."
"Anybody here want to be Mitt Romney? Him? Married to her?" he asked the class.
“The dean of the College of Arts and Letters and a representative from the provost’s office met with Penn, who acknowledged that some of his comments were inappropriate, disrespectful and offensive and may have negatively affected the learning environment,” the university said in a statement, as quoted by the Detroit News.
MSU spokesman Jason Cody told the newspaper that Penn will remain employed with the university, although his classes have been reassigned for at least the remainder of the fall semester.
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power said Thursday that Russia is holding the U.N. Security Council "hostage," forcing the U.S. to act alone in response to a chemical weapons attack carried out by the Syrian regime.
"Russia continues to hold the council hostage and shirk its international responsibilities, including as a party to the Chemical Weapons Convention," Power told reporters at the U.N. in New York, as quoted by Politico.
Power accused the council of protecting Russian interests at the expense of Middle East stability, calling Russia "the patron of a regime that would brazenly stage the world's largest chemical weapons attack in a quarter-century, while chemical weapons inspectors sent by the United Nations were just across town," according to Politico.
She added that the U.S. has attempted to address the Syrian conflict through the U.N.'s diplomatic channels for the past two and a half years, but said the country must resort to using force on its own due to Russia's position.
Attorneys for a Florida man who allegedly killed two people at a Labor Day barbecue filed a motion to have their client's murder charges dismissed under the state's "Stand Your Ground" law, Florida Today reported Wednesday.
Police said William T. Woodward "snuck up" on the barbecue and opened fire on three neighbors, killing two men and injuring one, according to the newspaper. In addition to the state's 'Stand Your Ground' law, Woodward's legal team also argued that the three men posed an imminent threat to Woodward because they had been threatening to "get him" in the hours prior to the shooting.
The motion argued that Woodward could have expected an attack based on those words alone. It cited the "Bush Doctrine" to justify Woodward's response to the perceived threats, referring to George W. Bush's concept of waging pre-emptive war against potential threats before they metastasize into imminent threats.
“I think legally that term has sort of been evolving especially given changes of our government’s definition of ‘imminent,’” Robert Berry, one of the attorneys representing Woodward, told Florida Today. “It’s become more expansive than someone putting a gun right to your head. It’s things that could become, you know, an immediate threat.”
President Barack Obama called a bipartisan group of five senators on Wednesday as part of "continued engagement with members of Congress on Syria," according to Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes.
Obama said Wednesday at a press conference in Stockholm, Sweden that he believes lawmakers will ultimately approve a resolution allowing him to move forward with limited strikes against Syria, although he does not believe he was required to consult Congress on the matter.
TPM is keeping track of where members of Congress stand on the Syrian intervention vote.
The Louisiana National Guard plans to ignore a Pentagon order directing the military to process benefits for same-sex couples because the state Constitution does not recognize gay marriage, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported Wednesday.
"The state of Louisiana does not recognize same-sex marriage, nor does it allow state officials to take part in an act that recognizes same-sex marriage. We would refer those individuals interested in applying for such benefits to seek guidance at a federal military installation," Lt. Col. Michael Kazmierzak, a spokesman for the state's National Guard, told the newspaper.
Gays in the military were able to begin applying for benefits on Tuesday, following the Pentagon's announcement that it would recognize same-sex marriages. Since that announcement, Texas and Mississippi appear to be the only other states with a ban on gay marriage that have also decided to limit benefit requests from same-sex military couples.