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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 said in an interview that aired Friday that the situation in Syria is "clearly an event of grave concern."

Asked by "New Day" host Chris Cuomo about Syrian anti-government activists' claims that President Bashar al-Assad's regime killed hundreds of citizens in a chemical weapons attack, Obama called the situation "troublesome."

"I can say that unlike some of the evidence that we were trying to get earlier that led to a U.N. investigator going into Syria, what we've seen indicates that this is clearly a big event of grave concern," he said.

Obama defended his administration's abstention from intervening in the Syrian conflict, cautioning that the U.S. must act according to the rule of international law and keep in mind the continuing war in Afghanistan's cost.

"I think it is fair to say that, as difficult as the problem is, this is something that is going to require America's attention and hopefully the entire international community's attention," he added.

Watch the segment below, courtesy of CNN: 

President Barack Obama on Friday is scheduled to hold two events in continuation of his speaking tour that lays out a plan "to make college more affordable, tackle rising costs, and improve value for students and their families," according to the White House.

The president is scheduled to hold a town hall at Binghamton University in Binghamton, N.Y. at 12:45 p.m. ET. Along with Vice President Joe Biden, Obama is then expected to deliver remarks at Lackawanna College in Scranton, Pa. at 4:40 p.m. ET.

The widow of slain Mingo County, W. Va. Sheriff Eugene Crum, who replaced her husband as interim sheriff after he was killed in April, resigned the post Wednesday, the Charleston Gazette reported.

Rosie Crum wrote in her resignation letter that assuming her husband's responsibilities had been "quite an undertaking" and that the sheriff's post needed to be filled by "a qualified person" who could dedicate time and attention to the office, according to the newspaper. She made no reference to her husband's shooting in the letter.

Eugene Crum was shot at point-blank range on April 3, allegedly by Tennis Melvin Maynard, 37, whom Crum had coached when Maynard was a high school boxer. It recently emerged that a 2002 accusation of rape against Crum was slated to be used as evidence in Maynard's trial, although it was unclear how the defense would employ that evidence. No charges were ultimately filed against Crum in the case of alleged rape.

After a hearing in the trial on Tuesday, however, a member of Maynard's family told reporters Crum had sexually assaulted Maynard when the alleged shooter was a teenager, according to the Gazette.

The American Civil Liberties Union said Thursday that for the U.S. Army to deny hormone therapy to Chelsea Manning, the convicted private formerly known as Bradley, "raises serious constitutional concerns" and may be in violation of the Eigth Amendment.

The ACLU posted its response to the Army on its website:

In response to Chelsea Manning's disclosure that she is female, has been diagnosed with gender dysphoria and will be seeking hormone therapy as a part of her transition during her incarceration, public statements by military officials that the Army does not provide hormone therapy to treat gender dysphoria raise serious constitutional concerns. Gender dysphoria is a serious medical condition in which a person's gender identity does not correspond to his or her assigned sex at birth, and hormone therapy is part of the accepted standards of care for this condition. Without the necessary treatment, gender dysphoria can cause severe psychological distress, including anxiety and suicide. When the government holds individuals in its custody, it must provide them with medically necessary care.

 

The official policy of the Federal Bureau of Prisons and most state agencies is to provide medically necessary care for the treatment of gender dysphoria, and courts have consistently found that denying such care to prisoners based on blanket exclusions violates the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution.

 

The ACLU stands with Chelsea Manning, and will support Ms. Manning's pursuit of appropriate healthcare and lawful treatment while at Fort Leavenworth.

Embattled San Diego Mayor Bob Filner (D) will resign as part of a settlement deal reached in the sexual harassment lawsuit filed against him, San Diego's KNSD reported Thursday.

Sources confirmed to KNSD that Filner will vacate the office following the CIty Council's closed-door session to review the settlement proposal on Friday. Filner was seen packing boxes into the back of his SUV after the deal was announced, according to the news station.

 

President Barack Obama on Thursday took a swipe at private college rating systems, singling out the U.S. News & World Report as he announced a new plan for a federal college rating system based on affordability that seeks to eventually tie taxpayer dollars to rankings.

"Right now, private rankings like the U.S. News & World Report puts out each year encourage colleges to game the numbers and rewards them in some cases for costs," Obama told students at the University of Buffalo in New York. "Are they helping students from all kinds of backgrounds succeed?"

President Barack Obama said Thursday in a speech at the University of Buffalo in New York that the country is experiencing "a crisis in terms of college affordability and student debt."

"I've heard from a lot of these young people who are frustrated that they've done everything they're supposed to do, got good grades in high school, applied to college, did well in school," he said. "But now they come out, they've got this crushing debt that's crippling their sense of self-reliance and their dreams. It becomes hard to start a family and buy a home if you're servicing $1,000 of debt every month. It becomes harder to start a business if you are servicing $1,000 worth of debt every month."

"Bottom line is this, we've got a crisis in terms of college affordability and student debt," he added.

 

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) released a blistering statement Thursday, stating the U.S. had lost its credibility in the Middle East and failed to take action in Syria despite unconfirmed reports that the Syrian government employed chemical weapons against its citizens.

Read the full statement:

Credible reports coming out of Syria suggest that Assad and his forces have escalated their use of chemical weapons. This most recent massacre of innocent men, women, and children should shock our collective conscience – that is, whatever conscience remains after more than 100,000 Syrians have been slaughtered while the United States has largely remained on the sidelines.

 

Last week marked the two-year anniversary of President Obama's call for Assad to leave power. It has been a year since the President said that the use of chemical weapons in Syria would constitute the crossing of a red line. But, because these threats have not been backed up by any real consequences, they have rung hollow. As a result, the killing goes on, Assad remains in power, and his use of chemical weapons against Syrian civilians apparently continues. It is long past time for the United States and our friends and allies to respond to Assad's continuing mass atrocities in Syria with decisive actions, including limited military strikes to degrade Assad's air power and ballistic missile capabilities.

 

American credibility in the Middle East has never been lower. Red lines on Syria have been threatened with no action taken. Threats to cut off assistance to Egypt have been made and then reneged. Our friends and enemies alike, both in the Middle East and across the world are questioning whether America has the will and the capacity to do what it says. This dangerous development impacts the national security interests of the United States and our closest allies, and if we continue to sit by passively while Assad continues to use chemical weapons against his own people, we only provide encouragement to other brutal governments in their use of harsh measures against their own people. It is time for the United States to come to the assistance of the Syrian people.

The U.S. Army responded Thursday to the announcement that private Chelsea Manning, previously known as Bradley, had decided to seek hormone therapy and be treated as a woman after being sentenced for leaking classified information.

"Inmates at the United States Disciplinary Barracks and Joint Regional Correctional Facility are treated equally regardless of race, rank, ethnicity or sexual orientation," the written statement read, as quoted by TODAY. "All inmates are considered soldiers and are treated as such with access to mental health professionals, including a psychiatrist, psychologist, social workers and behavioral science noncommissioned officers with experience in addressing the needs of military personnel in pre- and post-trial confinement."

"The Army does not provide hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery for gender identity disorder," the statement continued. "The USDB has implemented risk assessment protocols and safety procedures to address high risk factors identified with the Prison Rape Elimination Act."

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner's legal team reached a tentative settlement agreement Wednesday evening after three days of mediation in response to a sexual harassment suit filed against him, the U-T San Diego reported. 

"The City Council has not heard of this proposal and our process at City Hall as well as the mediation process requires that we maintain the confidentiality of the proposal until they have heard of it,” City Attorney Jan Goldsmith told reporters, as quoted by the U-T. “This is the process we follow. Any rumors you hear about the proposal you may deem to be untrue because the people standing here are the ones who know of it and we have all committed to [Federal Judge J. Lawrence Irving] that we will maintain the confidentiality of the mediation.”

The City Council will consider the proposed agreement in a closed session Friday afternoon, according to the U-T.

CBS News correspondent Bill Whitaker reported that a source close to the talks said Filner's resignation appears to be a part of the settlement deal. Attorney Gloria Allred and her client in the sexual harassment suit, Filner's former Communications Director Irene McCormack Jackson, considered the mayor's resignation a key demand, according to the U-T.

Eighteen different women have come forth to accuse the mayor of various harrassment so far.

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