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Catherine Thompson

Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at catherine@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Catherine

An Arizona woman held in a Mexico prison on suspicion of drug smuggling was released Thursday night after court officials dismissed her case.

Yanira Maldonado, who was on her way back to the U.S. with her husband after a funeral, was arrested by Mexican authorities last week after they said they found 12 pounds of marijuana under her seat on a bus.

After a court reviewed security footage showing the Maldonados boarding a bus in Phoenix carrying only bottled water, blankets and a purse, they released the mother of seven and devout Mormon to return immediately to the United States.

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Hillary Clinton holds a commanding lead among voters over Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) in hypothetical matchups of the 2016 presidential race, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll released Friday.  

Clinton leads Paul 49-41 percent and is out ahead of Bush 48-40 percent. Her favorability rating, though, has fallen from an all-time high of 61 percent in February to 52 percent in this survey.

The survey also found Vice President Joe Biden trailing Paul 43-39 percent and falling behind Bush 44-38 percent.

The poll surveyed 1,419 registered voters between May 22-28 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.

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Two more staff members left Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's office on Thursday, the Toronto Star reports.

Brian Johnston, who was Ford's advisor on council relations, was escorted out of city hall on Thursday. He told the Star that he chose to resign and said "the timing was right for me."

The Star also reports that the mayor's executive assistant, Kia Nejatian, quit Thursday morning.

The administrative casualty count at Toronto City Hall in the wake of reports about an alleged video of Ford smoking crack cocaine now stands at five: the mayor's right-hand man, Mark Towhey, was marched out of city hall last week and on Monday, two of Ford's spokespeople also resigned.

When the Star asked Johnston if Ford could weather the crisis, he said Ford has "recovered from a lot of things already. Anything is possible.”

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A participant in a conference call sponsored by the Tea Party Wednesday night said the best way to get Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) to listen to her constituents on the immigration reform issue would be to "shoot her," according to ThinkProgress.

According to ThinkProgress' transcript of the exchange, the statement was met with laughs.

"I’m from Maine and our Tea Party will be meeting up next week. What is the best way that we can get our senator to listen to us?" asked a caller who identified as Bob from Maine.

"Shoot her," another unidentified caller responded to laughter.

"Yes, we will shoot her with…(inaudible) and phone calls," the moderator said.

ThinkProgress also reported that the communications director for Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Stephen Miller, and Robert Rector, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, joined the call. Miller apparently left the conversation before the exchange.

Collins was the only Republican to co-sponsor Sen. Patrick Leahy's (D-VT) amendment allowing bi-national same sex couples to petition for immigrant visas for their partners. The amendment was withdrawn last week.

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Phyllis Schlafly of the "pro-family" group Eagle Forum called the GOP's need to reach out to Hispanic voters a "great myth" during a conservative radio program Wednesday. 

"The Hispanics who have come in like this will vote Democrat and there's not the slightest bit of evidence that they will vote Republican," Schlafly said on "Focus Today." "And the people the Republicans should reach out to are the white votes, the white voters who didn't vote in the last election and there are millions of them."

Schlafly told PolicyMic she believes that Mitt Romney lost the 2012 presidential election because "his drop-off from white voters was tremendous" and the GOP doesn't "know how to relate to grassroots Americans." 

"The propagandists are leading us down the wrong path," Schlafly said on the radio program. "There is not any evidence at all that these Hispanics coming in from Mexico will vote Republican."

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Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said that Syrian rebels "do not understand why the U.S. won't help them" during an appearance Wednesday night on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360."

The senator, a supporter of U.S. intervention in Syria, slipped silently into the country to meet with opposition leaders on Monday. A State Department official confirmed that the department was aware of the trip, and in the interview with Cooper, McCain repeatedly expressed his gratitude to the State Department, as well as to the rebel groups, for providing his security.

When Cooper asked McCain how weapons would be prevented from falling into the hands of extremists, the senator said extremist fighters compose a small fraction of Syria's rebel forces: 7,000 pro-al Qaeda fighters from the al-Nusra front among some 100,000 insurgents.

"Every single day, more and more extremists flow in … but they still do not make up a sizable portion," McCain told Cooper. "We can identify who these people are. We can help the right people."

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An advocacy group called for a civil rights investigation on Wednesday into the death of Ibragim Todashev, the Chechen immigrant killed by an FBI agent in Orlando during questioning about his relationship with one of the Boston Marathon bombers.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations asked the Department of Justice to open a probe into Todashev's death to see if the man's rights were violated or if excessive force was used against him. 

The FBI originally said Todashev was killed after lunging at an agent with a knife, although according to NBC News, FBI agents later said that Todashev was unarmed.

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Toronto police on Friday made a new arrest in their investigation of the murder of a man allegedly linked to the Rob Ford drug video scandal, an anonymous Toronto police source told The Globe and Mail.

The male suspect has not yet been identified, although The Globe's sources told the newspaper that the police department will hold a news conference Thursday to announce the arrest.

Anthony Smith, believed to be shown in a picture with Ford, was fatally shot in Toronto on March 28. Police believed at the time that the killing was a targeted hit.

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California legislators moved forward with a dozen gun control proposals on Wednesday, according to the LA Times.

Lawmakers were motivated by recent mass shootings, including the massacre in Newtown, Conn., to increase gun control measures in the state, which already has some of the toughest gun laws in the country.

"We all can recite the horrific acts that have occurred in our country over the last year," Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D) said, as quoted by the Times. "These bills attempt to respond to those well-publicized tragedies and many more that go unpublicized."

The state legislature advanced bills aimed at further restricting the purchase of ammunition and semiautomatic weapons. Those looking to buy ammunition would be compelled to provide personal information and pay a $50 fee for a background check by the state, where the Department of Justice would then determine if buyers have a criminal record, mental illness, or restraining order that would prevent them from owning a gun in the first place. The sale, purchase, or manufacture of semiautomatic rifles with detachable magazines would be outlawed.

Another measure would require the state's Department of Justice to alert local law enforcement when an individual buys more than 3,000 rounds of ammunition. 

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Jim Graves, Michele Bachmann's would-be Democratic challenger for the House seat in Minnesota's sixth congressional district, said Wednesday in an interview with the Huffington Post that he was surprised by the announcement that she would not seek re-election.

"The timing of the announcement really caught us off-guard," Graves said. "We thought she was going full-speed ahead."

Bachmann's announcement came as a surprise to many, as she bought a new round of television advertising just over a week ago to drum up support for her bill to repeal Obamacare.

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