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Catherine Thompson

Catherine Thompson is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. Before joining TPM, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She is a graduate of New York University, where 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 multi-state U.S. military training exercise dubbed "Jade Helm 15," which has spawned myriad conspiracy theories and vexed public officials who struggled to allay the concerns of constituents, is finally here.

The "unconventional warfare" exercise is scheduled to begin Wednesday and run until Sept. 15. Training is planned for certain areas of Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida. California, Colorado and Nevada had originally been listed as areas where the training was to take place but have since been left out.

Conspiracy theory websites and InfoWars' Alex Jones suggested that the operation could be a cover for the implementation of martial law. One site even alleged that troops were converting shuttered Wal-Mart stores into covert military bases. But the paranoia surrounding "Jade Helm 15" really became headline news in May, after enough concerned Texans convinced Gov. Greg Abbott (R) to take action to protect their civil liberties. Abbott requested that the State Guard monitor the training exercise, asserting that the move was only meant to facilitate communication between the military and residents of the Lone Star state.

Outlandish theories about "Jade Helm 15" are likely to continue to proliferate in the coming weeks. As The Washington Post reported, the military has decided not to allow media to observe the exercise, which curtails efforts to better explain the training exercise to the public. In that information vacuum, a citizen surveillance group calling itself "Counter Jade Helm" has sprung up with plans to monitor the operation for any potential funny business.

Now that the start of the exercise is upon us, here is what fringe blogs say Americans can expect, from Russian interference in southern states to retaliation against Christian opponents of the Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.

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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Thursday forced members of Congress to vote on a resolution that would have removed all state flags featuring the Confederate battle flag from the U.S. Capitol.

Lawmakers ultimately voted along largely party lines to refer Pelosi's resolution to committee, where no immediate action is expected.

Mississippi's is the only state flag that still contains elements of the Confederate battle flag. Both of Mississippi's U.S. senators have called in recent days for the state to adopt a new flag design.

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