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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

President Barack Obama outlined several ideas that he's been discussing with his administration to address gun violence in the wake of the Trayvon Martin case on Friday in an impromptu statement at the White House.

Obama noted that authorities at all levels of government could work together to professionalize the way law enforcement officials approach their duties.

"I think it would be productive for the justice department, governors, mayors, to work with law enforcement about training at the state and local levels in order to reduce the kind of mistrust in the system that sometimes currently exists," Obama said, citing legislation he introduced in Illinois that trained police departments on how to think about potential racial bias.

"Along the same lines I think it would be useful for us to examine some state and local laws to see if they are designed in such a way that they may encourage the kinds of altercations and confrontations and tragedies that we saw in the Florida case rather than diffuse potential altercations," he added.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) announced Friday he will chair a Senate judiciary subcommittee hearing on civil rights issues raised by "stand your ground" laws when the Senate reconvenes in September. 

"These laws, one of which played a key role in the trial surrounding the shooting death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, give individuals the right to use lethal force to protect themselves if they feel their life is in danger, without first attempting to retreat from the situation," a statement from Durbin's office read. 

Among the topics the hearing will raise are civil rights issues arising from the intersection of racial profiling and "stand your ground" laws, the extent to which those laws provoke armed confrontations, as well as the gun lobby and the American Legislative Exchange Council's (ALEC) influence in creating and promoting those laws, according to the statement.

The Charlotte Observer took sharp aim at state House Speaker Thom Tillis (R) in an editorial Thursday, arguing that his constant fundraising road trips for his 2014 bid to unseat Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) compromise his service as speaker.

Tillis missed votes on 36 bills in the North Carolina House on Wednesday alone, according to the editorial. 

From the Observer:

When Tillis announced his Senate bid, he said he would “raise money at the appropriate time.” “I don’t intend to campaign heavily and actively until after we get out of session,” he said.

 

It’s fine that Tillis is interested in higher office, and we don’t fault him for recognizing the need to raise millions. But the fiscal year started three weeks ago and the legislature still has not agreed on a budget. Tillis is missing sessions. His actions are raising questions of conflict of interest.

 

He has shown he can’t give his undivided attention to the N.C. House and the U.S. Senate at the same time. He should give up his Speaker’s gavel, resign from his House seat and give his full energy to his Senate bid, unencumbered by such distractions as running the state.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) remained firm in his support of the state's "stand your ground" law Thursday night during a meeting with protesters seeking to repeal it in the wake of George Zimmerman's acquittal in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, the Miami Herald reported.

Scott made an unexpected appearance at the Capitol in Tallahassee, where he told student protest group Dream Defenders that he would not convene a special legislative session to review the law, according to the Herald. The protesters then spent the night in the Capitol, vowing not to leave until Scott puts the law up for review.

“We think ‘stand your ground’ has created a culture that allowed Zimmerman to think that what he did was okay,” Dream Defenders' Gabriel Pendas said at the meeting, according to the Herald.

“I believe ‘stand your ground’ should stay in the books,” Scott responded, as quoted by the Herald. “I agree with you, we should not have racial profiling.”

A Massachusetts State Police photographer who released images of the arrest of alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to Boston Magazine is now the subject of an internal investigation, Boston TV station WBZ reported Thursday.

State police said tactical photographer Sgt. Sean Murphy was "relieved of his duty for one day" and is being investigated, according to WBZ. The editor of Boston Magazine, John Wolfson, told WBZ that Sgt. Murphy's gun, badge and computer were seized.

In a statement provided to WBZ, a State Police spokesperson said "the dissemination to Boston Magazine of photographs of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokar Tsarnaev and police activity related to his capture was not authorized by the Massachusetts State Police."

Correction: WBZ reported on the discipline Thursday.

President Barack Obama spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by phone Thursday to discuss recent events in Egypt, Iran and Syria as part of their regular consultations, according to the White House. 

Obama urged Netanyahu to work with Secretary of State John Kerry, who is visiting the Middle East this week, to return to the negotiating table with the Palestinians as soon as possible, according to the White House readout of the call.

The San Diego County Democratic Party decided Thursday night not to ask embattled Mayor Bob Filner to resign over allegations of sexual harassment, the U-T San Diego reported

The party split into two camps: those who believe that anonymous allegations don't merit a demand for Filner's resignation, and those who would ask him to step down for violating the party's trust, according to party Chair Francine Busby. After the deliberations Busby told reporters that the party feels "betrayed" it has to address the accusations against Filner, according to the U-T. 

"We all condemn it," Busby said, as quoted by the U-T. "It’s abhorrent and we stand with these women. If the mayor has done this and it is proven to be true, we will ask for his immediate resignation.”

Filner was invited to attend the party meeting but was a no-show, according to the U-T.

President Barack Obama may cancel a planned trip to Moscow in September to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin as tensions rise between the two countries over fugitive security contractor Edward Snowden, the New York Times reported Thursday.

The White House has not publicly denied that the president would be keeping the Moscow meeting, which is a stop on his trip to St. Petersburg for the G-20 summit, on his agenda. When a reporter asked Wednesday if Obama would still be traveling to Moscow before the G-20 gathering, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney responded "I can say that the president intends to travel to Russia for the G-20 summit," according to the Times.

From the Times report:

Angela E. Stent, a former national intelligence officer on Russia now at Georgetown University, said Obama administration officials are questioning the Moscow meeting because they “are not clear what will actually be signed” even if Mr. Snowden’s case is resolved by then. “There seem to be significant gaps between Russia and U.S. sides on these important issues such as Syria, missile defense and arms control,” she said.

The White House was also mum Wednesday on a potential Olympic boycott should Russia offer Snowden asylum.

President Barack Obama praised the Senate's confirmation of Tom Perez to lead the Department of Labor and thanked lawmakers for advancing his previously stalled nominees in a statement released by the White House Thursday.

"I welcome today’s confirmation of Tom Perez to serve as Secretary of Labor," the statement read. "Tom has lived the American dream himself, and has dedicated his career to keeping it within reach for hardworking families across the country. At the Department of Labor, Tom will help us continue to grow our economy, help businesses create jobs, make sure workers have the skills those jobs require, and ensure safe workplaces and economic opportunity for all.

"I want to thank the Senate once again for agreeing to move forward on Tom and the other nominees who have waited far too long for the yes-or-no votes they deserve," Obama added.

A Colorado town is considering granting its residents hunting licenses to shoot down drones for bounty money, Reuters reported Wednesday.

Trustees in Deer Trail, a town of just 600, will bring up an ordinance next month that would allow residents to pay $25 for a license to shoot down "unmanned aerial vehicles" flying under 1,000 feet with a 12-gauge shotgun, according to Reuters. Anyone who could produce "either the nose or the tail" of a drone would be paid $100 under the proposal.

The resident who crafted the measure, Army veteran Phillip Steel, told Reuters that his proposal is symbolic, although he finds the government's use of drones for surveillance purposes disturbing. 

"If you don't want your drone to go down, don't fly it in town," Steel said.

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