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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

Heritage Action for America announced Wednesday that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) will join the organization at a town hall in Dallas during Congress's August recess to drum up support for defunding Obamacare. 

The nine-city "Defund Obamacare Tour" in August will feature Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint and Cruz's father, Rafael Cruz. 

"We want to hear directly from people in local communities who often suffer from Washington’s out-of-touch policies," DeMint said in a press release. "Fortunately, Washington doesn’t have to win. We have an opportunity to change the direction of our nation by defunding Obamacare and advancing conservative policy solutions that will help place us back on the path toward fiscal responsibility."

Cruz said earlier this week that the real push for defunding the national health care law will come from grassroots efforts, since Republicans in Congress are too "scared" to make the move.

Florida law enforcement has declined to investigate the FBI's fatal shooting of a Chechen man connected to the Boston Marathon bombing during an interrogation in Orlando, the Boston Globe reported Wednesday.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald M. Bailey wrote a letter to the American Civil Liberties Union that said the FBI and Justice Department would be in charge of an investigation, according to the Globe, and it "would be inappropriate" for his department to intervene.

Florida and Massachusetts chapters of the ACLU had asked officials in both states to investigate the shooting because local law enforcement officials were present at the interrogation. The executive director of Florida's ACLU chapter, Howard Simon, told the Globe it was "extremely disappointing" that Florida officials would allow the FBI to continue "investigating itself." Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley had already declined to investigate.

Multiple reports following the shooting of Ibragim Todashev, a friend of alleged bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, said that Todashev was unarmed when an FBI agent fatally shot him in May.

A Pennsylvania police chief who recorded profanity-ridden YouTube videos in which he fired automatic weapons and railed against Democrats on gun issues was handed a 30-day suspension Wednesday night.

The Allentown Morning Call reported that Borough Council members in Gilberton voted to suspend Chief Mark Kessler for a month without pay for using the town's guns in the viral videos.

Kessler emerged from the private meeting with council members telling a mixed crowd of gun rights advocates that the council was "bowing to political pressure" and that there are "no policies in place in Gilberton to govern" his actions in the videos, according to the newspaper. 

Kessler is the only police officer in the borough of fewer than 800 residents, according to the Morning Call, and will be replaced by state police during his suspension. 

The police chief's videos sparked controversy for his flagrant attacks against Democrats, whom he called "libtards," and Democratic politicians like Secretary of State John Kerry and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the latter of whom he visualized as a shooting target in one training video.

"Kessler's video was produced to threaten and intimidate," Michael Morrill, the executive director of advocacy group Keystone Progress and who is calling for Kessler's termination, told the Morning Call. "People who are registered Democrats cannot expect to be treated fairly because Kessler doesn't even want to call them people because that's being too kind. He calls liberals 'libtards' and says the Founding Fathers would be shooting them if they were alive today."

John Oliver was adamant on Wednesday's "The Daily Show" that New Yorkers care about more than mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner -- they care about "other city's elected perverts too."

So Oliver switched the focus to another embattled Democrat, San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, measuring his "nauseating" advances toward women on an "Eww-O-Meter."

One woman described Filner "slobbering" on her chin, prompting Oliver to say that even Weiner's sexts "don't leave a physical residue on your face." A clip of Filner's former communications director Irene McCormack saying Filner asked her to "work without her panties on" caused the "Eww-O-Meter" to break, forcing Oliver to pump Purell into his mouth.

Oliver added that not every reprehensible thing Filner has done is sexual. He was stunned that Filner had asked the City of San Diego to cover his legal fees in the sexual harassment suit McCormack filed against him.

"There's no way the people of San Diego are gonna grant him that request," Oliver said. "In fact, I think he's better off trying to raise the money on Prickstarter."

Watch the segment below: 

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said Wednesday that he's ready to bury the hatchet with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) in their national security and spending feud, but Christie said he wasn't jumping at the chance to patch things up with the senator from Kentucky. 

"If we can sit down, I’m inviting him for a beer," Paul said in an appearance on Fox News. "Anytime he would like to come down and sit down at the pub right around the corner from the Senate. We'll have a beer."

"I think with Gov. Christie it’s gotten a little too personal, so we’re ready to kiss and make up,” he added.

Christie didn't warm to the offer on his monthly radio show.

"I’m running for re-election in New Jersey. I don’t really have time for that at the moment," Christie said, as quoted by the Newark Star-Ledger. "If I find myself in Washington, I’ll certainly look him up, but I don’t suspect I’ll be there anytime soon."

A 7-year-old girl was hit by a stray bullet Tuesday in Tekonsha, Mich. while swimming in her backyard pool, TV station WWMT reported.

Michigan State Police told the news station that the girl's neighbor, who had a concealed weapons permit, was using a 9 mm handgun for target practice in a nearby field. They said a stray bullet traveled at least 200 yards across the field before hitting the 7-year-old in the arm as she stood beside the pool.

State Police were requesting a charge of "reckless discharge of a firearm causing injury," according to WWMT.

Asked about President Barack Obama's silence on recent high-profile scandals in the Democratic Party involving the "objectification" of women, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that the President's focus remained on the economy.

"The President is focused on what we can do for the middle class in this country, what we can do to help the economy grow, what we can do together through a grand bargain for the middle class to reform our business tax code in a way that's beneficial for American businesses," Carney said in a press briefing. 

When he was asked specifically to comment on allegations of sexual harassment against San Diego Mayor Bob Filner or recent revelations that New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner continued his sexting after his resignation from Congress, Carney said the White House would not be commenting on either case.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney reiterated Wednesday that Republican attempts to turn issues like IRS targeting and Benghazi into "phony scandals" have failed. 

Carney said that a few months back, there was "a lot more energy in Congress and the media" focused on issues that weren't in the interest of the American people rather than focused on the economy.

“What some in Congress have failed to do is provide any evidence, because there is none, that that activity was directed by the White House or was even partisan or political," Carney said in reference to the IRS, adding that the White House did need to "address poor performance."

Last week, Carney said the president's recent speeches were an effort to turn the national conversation to the economy instead of such "phony scandals" in an interview with Morning Joe, drawing the ire of host Joe Scarborough.

A Twitter transparency report released Wednesday showed that the U.S. government is making increasing numbers of requests for user data, reflecting what has become a point of contention between Internet companies and authorities.

From January to June, U.S. authorities made 902 requests for user information on 1,319 separate Twitter accounts, according to the report. The company's report for the first six months of 2012 showed that the U.S. government made 679 requests.

The report broke down request numbers by legal process, including subpoenas, search warrants and court orders, but did not specify how many of those requests were related to national security.

"An important conversation has begun about the extent to which companies should be allowed to publish information regarding national security requests," Twitter's Manager for Legal Policy Jeremy Kessel wrote on the company blog. "We have joined forces with industry peers and civil liberty groups to insist that the United States government allow for increased transparency into these secret orders. We believe it’s important to be able to publish numbers of national security requests – including FISA disclosures – separately from non-secret requests. Unfortunately, we are still not able to include such metrics."

Google recently filed a motion with the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court asking the court to relax its gag order on disclosing FISA request numbers.

MSNBC host Thomas Roberts stopped himself on air Wednesday after calling Sydney Leathers, the woman who traded sexts with New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, "batshit."

Roberts played a clip of Leather's interview with Howard Stern's radio show, in which she explained how Weiner "lured her in" to the sexting situation.

"This chick is so batshit you know --" Roberts said before stopping himself. "Excuse me. But Leathers is reportedly considering a porn deal now. So that's why I say that this whole thing is such a big mess."

Watch:

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