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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 Illinois GOP official who sent an email describing a black female congressional candidate as a "street walker" resigned Thursday after his remarks drew national attention and a rebuke from the Republican National Committee chairman, the St. Louis-Dispatch reported.

Montgomery County Republican Party Chairman Jim Allen, a supporter of Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL), drew the ire of the likes of RNC Chairman Reince Priebus for a disparaging email he sent Republican News Watch about former Miss America Erika Harold, who will challenge Davis in the 2014 primary race. Allen wrote that Harold is a "love child of the D.N.C.” who is being "used like a street walker" to take the congressional seat from Davis.

Allen told the Springfield State Journal-Register on Wednesday, after his e-mail was published on Republican News Watch, that his comments were “very inappropriate and wrong, and I apologize to Miss Harold and her campaign and her supporters.”

A Hew Hampshire state representative resigned Thursday after alleging that the Boston Marathon bombing was a government conspiracy, WMUR reported.

State Rep. Stella Tremblay (R) sent in her letter of resignation to the New Hampshire House of Representatives a day after she sent an e-mail blast to colleagues with links to Boston Marathon bombing conspiracy blogs and videos.

"Have you seen ANY main stream media doing a follow-up on these stories? I have not. I just connect the dots," wrote Tremblay in the e-mail, according to WMUR. "Apparently, it is very dangerous to seek truth, or ask questions."

Tremblay first floated her theory that the marathon bombings were planted by the government to sideline civil liberties in April. Her colleagues in the House responded by voting to fully rebuke her remarks.

Paula Deen dropped a scheduled interview with the "Today Show" on Friday following reports that she's facing a discrimination suit.

"Today Show" host Matt Lauer told viewers that he spoke with Deen Thursday to arrange the exclusive interview. Deen's publicist later told the program that although Deen flew to New York, she was too exhausted from traveling to make the appearance. The publicist told Lauer Deen is "in the hotel."

The Food Network chef gave a videotaped deposition for the lawsuit last month in which she outlined her vision for a "southern style wedding" for her brother, complete with a wait staff of "middle-aged black men" in crisp suits and bow ties. Deen also admitted to using the N word in a non-"mean way."

The Food Network said in a statement that it will "continue to monitor the situation."  

Here's video of Lauer addressing the Deen interview: 

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

This post has been updated.

The blind Chinese activist recently let go by the American university that offered him a fellowship had been presented with electronics loaded with spying software, Reuters reported Friday.

New York University technicians found software designed to spy on Cheng Guangcheng loaded on an iPad and smartphone gifted to the dissident after he arrived in Manhattan, his mentor, NYU Professor Jerome Cohen, told Reuters.

The devices, given to Guangcheng by the wife of fellow Chinese activist-in-exile Bob Fu, were screened by technicians within days of their receipt. An unnamed source told Reuters the technicians found secret GPS software on one of the devices, which gave it tracking device capabilities, as well as software that backed up the device's contents to a remote server. Although Cohen and the unnamed source believe the software was installed deliberately, Reuters could not establish whether there may be a more innocent explanation for its presence. 

Fu told Reuters the allegations were "ridiculous" and "a 007 thing."

The spyware incident surfaced soon after Guangcheng accused NYU of ending his fellowship over pressure from China, where it is opening a campus in Shanghai this fall. NYU has denied that allegation and claims Guangcheng's fellowship was only slated to last a year.

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (D), famous for his Iowa "scream speech" in the 2004 presidential primary race, said Thursday that he'd consider running for the chief executive's office again.

"I am not driven by my own ambition," Dean told CNN in an interview at the left-leaning activist Netroots Nation conference. "What I am driven by is pushing the country in a direction that it desperately needs to be pushed; pushing other politicians who aren't quite as frank as I am who need to be more candid with the American people about what needs to happen. I am not trying to hedge, it's a hard job running. It's really tough. I am doing a lot of things I really enjoy. But you should never say never in this business."

Dean said he was sure that if former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were to run in 2016 she would face challengers like Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) or Maryland Gov. Michael O'Malley (D), but also acknowledged that the Democratic Party may raise an eyebrow if he were to announce his own bid.

"If you had to put a gun to my head and make me decide right now, I wouldn't," Dean said. "But who knows?"

Google visited the office of Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), the longest-serving congressman in history, on Thursday to show the 86-year-old politician how to use Google Glass.

A Google representative showed Dingell how to display directions to a Chinese restaurant on the company's wearable computer. Dingell was impressed when the map showed up on his device: "Oh, this is quite a machine!" the congressman said.

Google has a sales and operations office located in Dingell's district in Ann Arbor, Mich. 

Federal investigators are probing a private company that conducted a security background check on the source of the National Security Agency leaks, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

USIS, a contractor that performs over two-thirds of the security background checks for the Office of Personnel Management, conducted Edward Snowden's security background investigation in 2011. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) said at the start of a special Senate hearing that USIS is being probed for a "systematic failure to conduct investigations," according to the Journal. 

The probe has not been connected to the background check conducted on Edward Snowden.

Both federal officials and USIS declined to comment on the ongoing investigation.

In the latest local controversy to grip the Maine State House, Gov. Paul LePage (R) reportedly made crude sexual remarks about a Democratic state senator captured by Portland's WMTW news crew on Thursday.

LePage reportedly said that Democratic state Sen. Troy Jackson "claims to be for the people, but he's the first one to give it to the people without providing Vaseline," according to WMTW reporter Paul Merrill. The governor added that Jackson "has no brains, and he has a black heart."

LePage announced at a rally Thursday morning that he would veto the state's proposed budget compromise. Jackson delivered his party's response to the veto threat, claiming that LePage had been unwilling to work with Demcratic leadership. 

When the WMTW reporter asked the governor if he was aware that the public would view his remarks as offensive, he replied "It ought to, because I've been taking it for two years," according to Merrill.

Maine Democrats called LePage's controversial comments "a sad and embarrassing chapter in Maine's history."

"Paul LePage is a classless bully who is unfit to hold public office of any kind," Maine Democratic Party Chairman Ben Grant said in a statement. "This is the chief executive officer of our State, the highest elected official, the public face of Maine, and he’s making comments that any 14 year-old would know are out of line." 

LePage does not appear on camera in the video accompanying WMTW's report.

A Knox County, Tenn. couple face charges in the fatal shooting of their 6-month-old child, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported Thursday.

Ken Mason, 40, and Angela Major, 26, have been charged with reckless homicide, according to court records. A friend who was on the phone with Major at the time of the incident heard the couple struggling over a gun, which then went off and hit their daughter Kelsey in the head, according to an arrest warrant.

The court records showed that Major had a prior criminal history in the county, while a Knox County Sheriff's Office spokesperson said the father, Mason, was originally arrested on an outstanding warrant for "failing to obey court orders." Investigators did not tell the News Sentinel what caused the altercation, what type of pistol was recovered at the scene, nor how many shots were fired.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) on Thursday called for the approval of a new immigration reform amendment he called "a dramatic improvement on border security, unlike anything proposed in the past."

Rubio stressed the importance of the new measure hammered out by Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) and Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND), billed as a more palatable alternative to Sen. John Cornyn's (R-TX) border security proposal. He argued that if adequate border security and programs like E-verify don't make it into the language of the bill, then undocumented immigrants may be given permanent residency while the borders remain insecure and those security programs languish.

"If you don't say that all those things have to happen before permanent legal residency happens," he said in an appearance on Fox News, "if you don't say that, then these things may not happen."

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