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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

Former Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) responded Friday to news reports that his half-brother, Bruce W. Browne, had been arrested for allegedly impersonating a police officer.

"For those of you who are asking about the news reports on my estranged half brother, I only know as much as you. I read about it in the news this morning," he wrote on his Facebook page, clarifying that Browne, who spells his last name differently, is his half-brother. Wolcott police Chief Edward Stephens had previously told the Associated Press that the two men were brothers. 

"As you many of you know, my mom and my late father were married and divorced 4 times each. Unfortunately, we were not close as a family," Brown continued. "These are serious charges and he will need to answer them. I feel badly for his children and I am thankful that no one was injured."

Secure communications provider Silent Circle Inc. announced to customers Thursday that it had shut down its email service, Reuters reported.

The announcement from co-founder Jon Callas came soon after the secure email provider allegedly used by Edward Snowden, Lavabit, cryptically announced it was shuttering in the face of what seemed to be government requests for user information.

In a blog post, Callas said that the company saw the "writing on the wall" when Lavabit shut down their system.

"We see the writing the wall, and we have decided that it is best for us to shut down Silent Mail now," Callas wrote. "We have not received subpoenas, warrants, security letters, or anything else by any government, and this is why we are acting now."

Email "cannot have the same security guarantees that real-time communications has," according to Callas, but he assured the company would continue to offer secure phone calls and text messaging.

[Image via PRNewsFhoto/Silent Circle]

The brother of former Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) was arrested Thursday in Connecticut for allegedly impersonating a police officer and stopping boaters on Long Island Sound. 

Police found Bruce W. Browne driving a blue Crown Victoria mounted with "hide-away" lights while responding to reports of a man with a gun, according to Boston's WBZ. Police told the news station that Browne was in possession of a bullet-proof vest marked "POLICE," a TSA badge, and three loaded 9mm handguns with 12 fully-loaded magazines. 

Investigators told WBZ that Browne had comandeered a boat while identifying himself as a "Police/Coast Guard" official earlier in the day, allegedly presenting expired Coast Guard identification. Browne had stopped three boats on Long Island Sound and asked their for registration and safety certificates, police told the Associated Press

Wolcott police Chief Edward Stephens told the AP that Browne is indeed the brother of the former senator. It's unclear why the men spell their last names differently.

Late update: Scott Brown responded to news of Browne's arrest on his Facebook page, clarifying that Browne is his estranged half-brother. Brown wrote "these are serious charges and he will need to answer them. I feel badly for his children and I am thankful that no one was injured."

A top official in Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's (R) administration was fired Thursday after posting a rant on Facebook comparing undocumented immigrants to "Satan," the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

Steven Krieser, assistant deputy secretary in the state's Department of Transportation, was responding to a photo of bumper stickers reading "USA Illegal Immigrant Hunting Permit" shared by state Rep. Gordon Hintz (D), who condemned their sale at a local gas station. The exchange was archived by the Journal Sentinel.

Krieser admitted that the sticker may have been "over the top." He then voiced his view that undocumented immigrants "routinely steal the identities of millions of legitimate, actual Americans" and "raid" homes and "trash" land in border states, "breeding the animus that many American citizens feel toward them."  

"You may see Jesus when you look at them. I see Satan," Krieser wrote. "And if they don't like it here, hey, the door they came through to get here swings both ways."

Walker fired Krieser less than two hours after his office learned of the comments, according to the Journal Sentinel.

"These comments are repugnant, completely unacceptable, and have no place in Governor Walker's administration," a Walker spokesman told the Journal Sentinel. "Governor Walker condemns his views, and they do not represent the governor or his administration in any way."

The Journal Sentinel reached Krieser before his firing, and the DOT official apologized for his "poor choice of words" on the post he had already removed.

"If I had it to do over, I would not have put it up. I certainly didn't mean any offense," he told the newspaper.

Outspoken liberal actor Alec Baldwin is on the verge of getting his own weekly program on MSNBC's primetime lineup, Mediaite reported Thursday.

An anonymous source, which the website described as "a senior source in the cable news industry with knowledge of MSNBC’s programming," told Mediaite that the "30 Rock" star's as-yet-untitled show is a done deal and would air Friday nights in the 10 p.m. ET slot. Since the show would air on Friday's primetime lineup, Baldwin's entrance to the network wouldn't unseat any of its weeknight anchors.

An MSNBC source told Mediaite "We're fans of Alec but we've got nothing to say regarding this unconfirmed report."

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday that President Barack Obama was "absolutely right" to cancel a planned summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin as tensions rose over several issues, including Russia's harboring of former security contractor Edward Snowden.

Rice told Charlie Rose on "CBS This Morning" that the U.S. and Russia have "very few overlapping interests any longer" and characterized their relationship as "terrible."

"The President is absolutely right not to go to Moscow for a bilateral conversation with Putin," Rice said. "There’s nothing to talk to about. The slap in the face to the United States of America of giving asylum to Edward Snowden, the President absolutely cannot go to a bilateral conversation with Putin.”

"We reset and Russia didn't," she continued.

Watch the segment below, courtesy of CBS News: 

The secure email service Lavabit, reportedly used by former security contractor Edward Snowden, announced on its website Thursday that it was shutting down operations as it prepares paperwork for an court battle, according to the Washington Post.

The website's homepage featured a statement from founder and owner Ladar Levison that offered few concrete details on what legal problems the company faces:

I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly ten years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit. After significant soul searching, I have decided to suspend operations. I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot. I feel you deserve to know what’s going on--the first amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this. Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise. As things currently stand, I cannot share my experiences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appropriate requests.

 

What’s going to happen now? We’ve already started preparing the paperwork needed to continue to fight for the Constitution in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. A favorable decision would allow me resurrect Lavabit as an American company.

An invitation to a July meeting of human rights organizations in Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, which Human Rights Watch's Tanya Lokshina had posted to her Facebook page, appeared to be sent from a Lavabit email address belonging to Snowden. 

MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell said Thursday that most of the NBC News staff would consider the network's planned miniseries on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to be "a really bad idea given the timing," hours after her colleague Chuck Todd called the series a "nightmare" for the network.

Mitchell asked former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs to weigh in on Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus' demand that NBC and CNN drop their Clinton-centered film projects or lose the chance to partner with the RNC for 2016 primary debates.

She said Priebus was "understandably miffed" about the films, when Gibbs interjected that the film was a "bad idea." Mitchell agreed. 

"A lot of news people would say, including the MSNBC news people and Chuck Todd and all the rest of us, a really bad idea given the timing," she said.

Todd had said the entire network would inevitably be conflated with the entertainment film in a negative way.

"This is why this miniseries is a total nightmare for NBC News because, you know, we know there's this giant firewall, we know we have nothing to do with it, we know that we'd love probably to be as critical or whatever it is going to be, if it comes out," Todd said." But there’s nothing we can do about it.”

Former San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders sent a letter to his successor Bob Filner Wednesday informing him that he'd no longer be welcome to join the city's Chamber of Commerce trip to Washington, according to KPBS.

"I am sure you will understand that, in light of the current controversy surrounding your office ... I must rescind your invitation to join our delegation trip to Washington, D.C.," Sanders, who is the current President and CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, wrote in the letter obtained by KPBS.

"We simply cannot risk any major distraction that would further impede the region's business," the letter continued.

Two female military veterans who said they had been victims of sexual assault while in the service told CNN Wednesday that Filner had made unwanted advances at a veterans' event, bringing the total of women who have gone public with accusations of sexual harassment against Filner to 13.

Ken Buck, the district attorney of Colorado's Weld County and a former Republican candidate for U.S. senate, took the first steps Wednesday toward launching a 2014 bid against incumbent Sen. Mark Udall (D).

A campaign official told the Denver Post that Buck filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission and will formally launch his campaign in September with an announcement tour. 

Buck ran unsuccessfully as a tea party candidate for Senate in 2010 against Michael Bennett (D), in a race best remembered for his gaffes on the campaign trail. His comments included comparing being gay to alcoholism, calling supporters of the Birther movement "dumbasses" and saying residents should vote for him over his female primary opponent because he doesn't "wear high heels."

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