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 a written statement released Friday that the American people "are safer and more secure" thanks to Janet Napolitano, who resigned her post at the head of the Department of Homeland Security to become president of the University of California system. 

"Since day one, Janet has led my administration’s effort to secure our borders, deploying a historic number of resources, while also taking steps to make our immigration system fairer and more consistent with our values," Obama said. "And the American people are safer and more secure thanks to Janet’s leadership in protecting our homeland against terrorist attacks." 

Read Obama's full statement below:

I want to thank Secretary Napolitano for her outstanding work on behalf of the American people over the last four years.  At the Department of Homeland Security, Janet’s portfolio has included some of the toughest challenges facing our country.  She’s worked around the clock to respond to natural disasters, from the Joplin tornado to Hurricane Sandy, helping Americans recover and rebuild. Since day one, Janet has led my administration’s effort to secure our borders, deploying a historic number of resources, while also taking steps to make our immigration system fairer and more consistent with our values.  And the American people are safer and more secure thanks to Janet’s leadership in protecting our homeland against terrorist attacks. I’ve come to rely on Janet’s judgment and advice, but I’ve also come to value her friendship.  And as she begins a new chapter in a remarkable career of public service, I wish her the best of luck.

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano has been nominated as the next president of the University of California system, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday. 

UC officials told the Times that her experiences in the Obama administration, including heading anti-terrorism initiatives, would be an advantage in administering UC's federal energy and nuclear weapons labs, among other federally funded research.

A source close to Napolitano told the Times that Napolitano considered the position for a long time after she was first contacted about the post.

"I think she loves working for President Obama and serving the American people, but at the same time, this is a unique opportunity,” the source told the Times. "UC is probably the premier institution in the country. She is motivated by the fact that being a part of UC, she will be a part of educating future leaders of tomorrow and be part of a state that sets so much of the agenda nationally.”

Napolitano's appointment will make her the first woman to head the UC system in the 145 years since it was founded.

The first photo taken of fugitive defense contractor Edward Snowden since he arrived weeks ago in Moscow's international airport surfaced during his meeting with human rights organizations Friday. The New York Times' Moscow correspondent Ellen Barry, who is in contact with Human Rights Watch's Tanya Lokshina, tweeted the image.

Former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R) said Thursday that he intends to announce plans for the state's 2014 governor's race in the fall, according to the Boston Globe.

"As you’re running for political office, you know when it’s time, you know when it’s right," Brown said at an event in Mashpee, Mass., as quoted by the Globe. "And I don’t know when that time is going to be."

Brown told reporters he would make an announcement regarding the Massachusetts governor's race "in the fall, at some point," according to the Globe. He added that he would meet with the 2010 Republican nominee Charles D. Baker who he "absolutely" expected to run again.

Brown was elected to the Senate in a 2010 upset race to replace Ted Kennedy (D). He lost his seat to Elizabeth Warren (D) last year.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), who announced this week that he will not be running for reelection, told the Washington Times Thursday that he'll be making a trip to Israel in October.

"We will be going to Israel to bring together Arabs, Christian and Jews in an educational forum,” Perry said in an interview with The Times.

The publication pointed out that the trip foreshadows a potential 2016 presidential run, although Perry told The Times that he has "plenty of time to make that decision."

A federal appeals court on Thursday blocked Liberty University's suit against Obamacare, which argued that the healthcare law forced large employers to provide coverage to full-time workers and subsidize abortions, Reuters reported.

The U.S. Circuit Court Of Appeals in Richmond, Va. ruled Liberty's argument that the healthcare law violated the Constitution in requiring employers to offer health insurance coverage was invalid, according to Reuters. The court also said that the law allows employers to pick healthcare plan options that cover abortion procedures only in instances of rape, incest or to protect the mother's life that do not violate the free exercise of religion.

Liberty's case was originally dismissed by the appeals court in 2011. The Supreme Court upheld most of the healthcare law last year and told the appeals court to give the school's case another look because of the ruling.

Liberty University was founded by evangelist Jerry Falwell and is located in Lynchburg, Va. 

The Illinois Supreme Court on Thursday cleared the way for the state to enforce a disputed 1995 law requiring doctors to inform parents of girls age 17 and under that their daughter is undergoing an abortion, The Chicago Sun-Times reported.

"We find that, while a minor clearly has an expectation of privacy in her medical information, which includes the fact of her pregnancy, the intrusion on the minor’s privacy occasioned by the Act is not unreasonable,” state supreme court Justice Anne Burke wrote in the majority opinion finding the law constitutional, as quoted by the Sun-Times. "The state has an interest in ensuring that a minor is sufficiently mature and well-informed to make the difficult decision whether to have an abortion."

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) on Thursday shrugged off White House claims that people challenging the legality of the Obamacare employer mandate delay were "willfully ignorant about past precedent," the Des Moines Register reported.

"I may be ignorant, but I'm not willfully so," Harkin laughed on a conference call with reporters, as quoted by the Register.

"I didn't agree with the administration on it, but it's not a dagger to the heart of the Affordable Care Act," Harkin said of the delay, adding that in his view the health insurance exchanges are more important than the employer mandate, according to the Register.

Representatives from 10 rural Colorado counties met this week to draw up plans for a 51st state they call "North Colorado," where they dream gun and oil laws will be more lax, Denver television station KCNC reported

The secessionist movement grew out of its organizers' frustration with state lawmakers passing restrictions on guns and the oil and gas industry, as well as raising renewable energy standards for rural co-ops, according to KCNC.

The counties would need the approval of voters, the Colorado General Assembly and U.S. Congress to secede and form "North Colorado," according to the television station. Should the secession plan fail, county commissioners could propose a ballot initiative that would alter the state Senate so that each of Colorado's 64 counties would have its own senator to represent its interests.

“We need to figure out (a) way to re-enfranchise the people who feel politically disenfranchised now and ignored,” Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway told KCNC.

[Image via spirit of america / Shutterstock]

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli tried to distance himself on Wednesday from Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), who is being investigated by state and federal authorities amid reports that he accepted lavish gifts from a donor, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Cuccinelli, who is running to succeed McDonnell as governor in 2014, said in a written statement that the McDonnell scandal is "painful for Virginia" and "completely inconsistent with Virginia's very reserved traditions," according to the Times-Dispatch.

“Right now there are two investigations running, one of which began with my referral, and we need to let those play out,” the statement continued. “However, all of this emphasizes the need for clearer and faster disclosures that cover the whole family, as well as a cap on the size and types of gifts.”

Cuccinelli himself had initially failed to disclose a portion of gifts from the same donor embroiled in the McDonnell scandal, Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams Sr., as well as stock in Williams' company, according to the Times-Dispatch.