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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

The largest Spanish-language newspaper in Massachusetts, El Planeta, endorsed Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) Thursday rather than throwing its support for the open Senate seat behind Latino GOP candidate Gabriel Gomez, the Boston Globe reported.

From the Globe:

El Planeta, a Somerville-based newspaper with a circulation of 40,000, said it endorsed Markey because the Irish-American Democrat would fight harder “to continue opening doors” for Latinos than Gomez, the son of Colombian immigrants and the Republican nominee.


“You would expect that for a Spanish-language media outlet, during an electoral campaign with a Latino US Senate candidate, the decision to support him would be easy,” the three-person editorial board wrote in an endorsement to be published Friday. But, they added, “on the matters that most affect the Latino community in Massachusetts, we think that Edward Markey has demonstrated a greater commitment to the defense of those issues than the Republican candidate, Gabriel Gómez.”

Still, with nearly 300,000 eligible Latino voters from Boston to Springfield, an increased turnout could make a difference in a race that has narrowed. Both candidates are scrambling to court voters in English and Spanish: Markey has campaigned in ethnic enclaves in Boston and Springfield, home to the largest Latino populations in the state, while Gomez lobbied Latinos last weekend at backyard barbecues and will hold a Latino town hall Saturday in Southbridge.

The full endorsement can be found here.

Sens. Mark Udall (D-CO) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) plan to introduce a bill next week that would curtail the National Security Agency's authority to collect Americans' phone data, Udall told the Denver Post Thursday. 

The proposed bill would put the burden of proving that a link exists between a person and a terror or espionage threat on the executive branch when it approaches the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to collect that person's phone records.

"The NSA's collection of millions of Americans' phone call records is the type of overreach I have warned about for years," Udall told the Post. "This legislation strikes the right balance in protecting our homeland while also respecting our Constitution." 

Udall and Wyden, who had prior knowledge of the NSA programs due to their position on the Senate Intelligence Committee, have been outspoken critics of the surveillance program since they were revealed in news reports last week.

When Yahoo refused to help the government spy on foreign users, it forced the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to compel the company and others like it to either turn over user data or break the law, the New York Times reported Thursday.

A heavily redacted 2008 court ruling shows that an internet company argued FISA requests constituted unreasonable search and seizure of its users' data protected by the Fourth Amendment. Sources confirmed to the Times that Yahoo was the petitioner in that case. 

The court wrote that "notwithstanding the parade of horribles trotted out by the petitioner, it has presented no evidence of any actual harm, any egregious risk of error, or any broad potential for abuse," adding "efforts to protect national security should not be frustrated by the courts."

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said Thursday that all Americans should be protected from discrimination in the workplace--with the exception of the LGBT community.

At the Faith and Freedom Forum luncheon, ThinkProgress asked Rubio if he'll be supporting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that would bar federal contractors from firing employees for their sexual orientation.

"I haven't read the legislation," Rubio told ThinkProgress. "By and large I think all Americans should be protected but I’m not for any special protections based on orientation."

ThinkProgress then asked Rubio to clarify whether he believed workers should be protected on the basis of race and gender, to which the senator replied that's already "established law." Rubio did not respond when asked again if he believed sexual orientation should be protected under the law. 

Toronto police on Thursday raided an apartment complex linked to a video that allegedly shows Toronto Mayor Rob Ford engaging in hard drug use, the Associated Press reported

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair confirmed to the AP that 43 arrests were made in the raid on a gang known as the Dixon City Bloods. Police also confiscated 40 guns, $570,000 in cash and a stash of drugs worth $3 million from an apartment complex where reporters viewed a videotape they said depicted Ford smoking crack cocaine.

Blair did not comment on any connection between the raid and Ford. According to the Toronto Star, Ford was not briefed on the raids.

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said Thursday that the man who leaked information about National Security Agency surveillance programs is lying about his access to that information as well as the programs' scope.

"He was lying," Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) said after a closed briefing with NSA Director Keith Alexander, as quoted by The Hill. "He clearly has over-inflated his position, he has over-inflated his access and he's even over-inflated what the actually technology of the programs would allow one to do. It's impossible for him to do what he was saying he could do."

Leaker Edward Snowden claimed that while working for a security contractor, he had virtually unlimited access to the information the NSA's phone and internet data collection programs culled. 

"The NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything," Snowden told The Guardian. "If I wanted to see your emails or your wife's phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your emails, passwords, phone records, credit cards."

The Senate is currently in its own closed briefing with the director.

Eight LGBT rights protesters were arrested after staging a sit-in outside House Speaker John Boehner's (R-OH) office on Capitol Hill Thursday, according to the Huffington Post.

Members of GetEQUAL, the same group that Michelle Obama's heckler at a recent fundraiser identified with, refused to leave the lobby outside Boehner's office after speaking with an aide. The group had asked for a meeting with either the Speaker or his staff to discuss the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would bar federal contractors from discriminating based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

“It’s clear that Speaker Boehner has absolutely zero intention of supporting or moving forward the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) for a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives,” Sean Watkins, a gay Iraq War veteran who resides in Boehner's district, said in a statement published in the Dallas Voice.

The secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court allowed a small challenge to National Security Agency surveillance programs to move forward Wednesday, according to the Atlantic Wire -- but it's a motion that predated the recent leak of information on such programs. 

The Atlantic Wire first reported that the Electronic Frontier Foundation had filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain the FISC's ruling on an electronic surveillance program's violation of the Fourth Amendment. The ruling was revealed in a July 2012 letter between the director of national intelligence and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR).

The Department of Justice had previously blocked the EFF's FOIA request on the grounds that the FISC ruling was confidential, and the EFF subsequently sued for appeal. The FISC broke with the DOJ Wednesday by deciding that the court's own rules did not prohibit disclosure of the ruling.

"The victory today was a modest one," the EFF wrote Wednesday in a statement on its website. "The Court didn't order disclosure of its opinion; it just made clear, as EFF had argued, that the FISC's own rules don't serve as an obstacle to disclosure of the opinion. The FISC also clarified that the executive branch cannot rely on the judiciary to hide its surveillance: the only thing obstructing the opinion from the public's review is the executive branch's own claims that it can hide its unconstitutional action behind a veil of classification."

This post has been updated.

FBI Director Robert Mueller said Thursday that the National Security Agency's phone record collection and PRISM surveillance programs operated in full compliance with the law and are instrumental in combating terror threats -- so instrumental that had they existed in 2001, they may have prevented the September 11 terror attacks.

Appearing before the House Judiciary Committee, Mueller urged that cyber threats "may well eclipse the terror threat in years to come." He acknowledged the public's expectation that the intelligence community protects its privacy interests, saying that the phone record collection program only applies to metadata and that the FBI has "no authority to get content."

"The legality has been assured by the Department of Justice," Mueller said. "The FISA court has ruled on these two programs."

Mueller further argued that had the phone metadata collection program existed in 2001, the agency may have been able to trace hijacker Khalid al-Mihdhar's web of contacts and possibly impede the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. His statement echoed NSA Director Army Gen. Keith Alexander's remarks before a Senate committtee on Wednesday, asserting that metadata could have tracked the hijack teams.

Senate hopeful Gabriel Gomez denies a record of helping create jobs in China during his years in private equity, the Boston Globe reported Thusday.

In its review of Gomez's tenure at the private equity firm Advent International, which the candidate has been vaguely referencing on the campaign trail as evidence of his business acumen, the Globe found that Gomez was involved in steering a company called Synventive Molding Solutions that supplies auto makers with machinery to mold parts. According to the Globe's investigation, Synventive expanded its operations in China during the recession and pursued large tax breaks in that country even as it laid off employees in the U.S.

A former Synventive employee told the Globe: "It was a good company, except things changed a lot over the years." He added “A lot of business went to China.”

"There weren't jobs moved overseas," Gomez challenged in an interview with the Globe, a position an Advent spokesman also echoed. "The biggest producers in the automotive industry back then were over in Asia."

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