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Hunter Walker

Hunter Walker is a national affairs reporter for TPM. He came to the site in 2013 from the New York Observer. He has also written for New York Magazine, Gawker, the Village Voice, Forbes, The Daily, and Deadspin. He can be reached at hunter@talkingpointsmemo.com

Articles by Hunter

A press release sent out Friday by the National Republican Senatorial Committee highlighted an obscure YouTube video in which a woman accused New Jersey Democratic Senate candidate and Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker of blocking residents on Facebook and Twitter who reached out to him with concerns about a crime wave in the city.

Over the last two weeks there was a spate of 10 killings in 10 days in Newark, and the video was purportedly an interview of a woman who said Booker is becoming "national figure while the people in Newark die off slowly."

"Unfortunately, when residents of Newark get on Facebook and Twitter with him and tell these real stories to get it out, he blocks us," the woman says in the clip. 

The video, which the NRSC described as a "viral news video," had been viewed 372 times on YouTube since it was posted Wednesday.

"Where is Cory Booker? Instead of leading his city and helping the desperate residents of Newark, Booker seems more concerned with raising his national profile and millions of dollars for his campaign," NRSC Communications Director Brad Dayspring said in the press release. "Instead of blocking people begging him for help on Twitter and social media, Cory Booker should try helping them instead. The people of New Jersey don't need a Hollywood celebrity in the Senate, they need a leader who will focus on the problems at home and fix them." 

Booker currently has a double-digit lead in the polls over his Republican rival, former Bogota, N.J. Mayor Steve Lonegan. 

Watch the video highlighted by the NRSC here

Vermont Gov. Pete Shumlin, the chair of the Democratic Governors Association, said Friday the latest campaign ad from Virginia's GOP gubernatorial candidate, Ken Cuccinelli "opens up a new frontier of slime in American politics" and demanded it be pulled from air.

"Ken Cuccinelli's campaign has been lobbing desperate and misleading attacks against Terry for months now, but I would argue this new ad has gone over the line and it opens up a new frontier of slime in American politics," Shumlin said in a conference call with reporters. 

The ad in question features workers who were laid off from Global Crossing, a company in which Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe was an investor. It accuses McAuliffe of having "cashed in" when the company went bankrupt and features the workers discussing how they lost their retirement and severance packages.

However, according to a Mother Jones report published Thursday, two of the three workers who appeared in the commercial were told they were participating in a documentary and did not realize it was an ad attacking McAuliffe. One of the three workers told Mother Jones they would not have taken part in the filming if they had been told it was for and ad aimed at McAuliffe. 

"Assuming that everything that Mother Jones reports is true, I just am absolutely shocked at this unbelievably deceptive practice and call upon Ken Cuccinelli to pull the ad immediately," said Shumlin.

Shumlin also urged the Republican Governors Association and its chair, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, to push for the ad's removal. 

"It should be noted that yesterday the Republican Governor's Association contributed another million to his campaign, so I'm not only calling upon Ken Cuccinelli to pull the ads, I'm also calling upon RGA Chair Gov. Jindal to immediately urge him to do the same," Shumlin said.

View the ad below. 

Yesterday, a few hours after a yelling match with a voter at a campaign event, New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner held a news conference blaming his public blowup in a Brooklyn bakery on some "vile and racist things" the man had said about his wife. But did he actually hear the racial jab that supposedly set him off?

After Weiner's late afternoon press conference addressing the controversy, we found out more about the accounts of people who were with Weiner at the time. And something odd surfaced: People who were standing next to Weiner when the confrontation began said they did not hear the man's racist comment, and that it would have been hard for Weiner to have heard it. On top of that, multiple videos of the confrontation show that Weiner never said anything that appeared to be a response to a racially charged attack on his wife or any reference to her ethnicity, nor did he cite it in his initial responses to press questions about the incident.

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Gilberton Borough, Pa. Police Chief Mark Kessler and James Yeager, the CEO of Tennessee-based "firearms and tactical training" center Tactical Response, have become friends since they both achieved notoriety and followings among gun rights activists for their inflammatory online videos.

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A few hours after New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner had a heated confrontation with a voter Wednesday, he addressed the situation after an appearance at a senior center in Manhattan.

Weiner characterized his behavior as an "appropriate" response to a man who had said "vile and racist things about my wife." He also dismissed the notion he has an anger management problem or is becoming unhinged on the campaign trail.

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New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner got into an explosive confrontation with a man who brought up his sexting scandal on Wednesday while in the Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of Boro Park, Brooklyn.

Blogger Jacob Kornbluh shot video of the heated exchange and said it began when the man called Weiner a "scumbag" as he exited a bakery.

"Takes one to know one, jackass," Weiner responded before shouting, "What's that? You wait till I walk out to say anything that's courage."

The man subsequently approached Weiner directly.

"You have the nerve to even walk around in public," the man said. "You're disgusting."

"You're my judge?" Weiner asked the man, who was wearing a yarmulke. "What rabbi taught you that you're my judge?"

"You talk to God and work out your problems, but stay out of the public eye," the man answered. "You're a bad example for the people. ....Your behavior's deviant, it's not normal behavior."

Weiner and the man continued arguing for nearly two minutes.

"That's your judgement. ... That's why they have elections," Weiner shouted. "Go visit with your rabbi. Shows you how much you know. .... You obviously think you're superior. ... You're not. ... You have shown no signs that you're superior to me and you're not my God." 

"Stay out of the public, go home, and get a job," the man said.

Before leaving the bakery, Weiner told the man, "Nice talking to you." As he walked into the street, Weiner declared to a group of reporters and onlookers, "I don't back down." 

This is not the first angry moment from the Weiner campaign since revelations of his latest sexting scandal emerged in July. At a debate in August, Weiner argued with Republican mayoral candidate George McDonald, who he called, "grandpa." In late July, Weiner's communications director Barbara Morgan went on a curse-filled rant to TPM in which she called a former intern who wrote unflattering stories about the campaign a "slutbag." 

Watch video of Weiner's blowup in Boro Park below. 

Desi Bouterse, the president of Suriname, said on Tuesday the arrest of his son on U.S. drug trafficking and weapons charges last week was an attempt to embarrass his government.

According to Al Jazeera, Bouterse suggested the "goal" of the arrest was to disrupt a summit of the Union of South American Nations, or UNASUR, which began in Suriname on Friday. 

"Luckily it did not achieve its goal," Bouterse said of his son's arrest. 

Al Jazeera also reported Bouterse said other leaders at the summit offered sympathy and some had even offered to help his son with lawyers.

"You have to put aside the issues that affect you personally, emotionally, and say, 'What is the most important thing?' The most important thing was the UNASUR meeting," Bouterse added.

Bouterse's son, Dino, was previously convicted of drug trafficking in 2005 in Suriname and served some time in prison. Dino Bouterse is being held by U.S. authorities pending a hearing Monday. He is facing a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. 

Both Desi and Dino Bouterse were also convicted of drug trafficking in absentia in a Dutch court in 1999. Desi Bouterse is also facing a trial in Suriname for allegedly killing 15 political dissidents during the military government he led in that country between 1980 and 1987. Desi Bouterse regained power in 2010.

"Dino has 13 children," Desi Bouterse said of his son. "Of course, I'm still a father, but I don't interfere in his private life. He is a big, grown-up man."

 

A Quinnipiac poll released Tuesday showed Public Advocate Bill de Blasio leading his rivals in the crucial Sept. 10 Democratic primary of the New York City mayoral election with 43 percent of the vote. It is the first major poll to show de Blasio above the 40 percent threshhold necessary to avoid a runoff with the second place finisher. 

The poll found former Comptroller Bill Thompson in second place with 20 percent and City Council speaker Christine Quinn in third with 18 percent.

De Blasio was up seven percent from a previous Quinnipiac poll, which was released Wednesday. Thompson stayed the same and Quinn was down down 3 percent. Other polls have shown de Blasio with a more modest lead. Polls in the race have varied wildly over the past few months. Prior to a mid-August surge by de Blasio, Quinn had been the frontrunner.

A spokesman for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) told the Daily Caller the governor won't be able to attend a campaign event with his sometime sparring partner Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) on Sept. 13 in New Jersey because he has plans with his wife.

"The Governor and Mrs. Christie have longstanding plans to celebrate her 50th birthday over that weekend, so he will not be in attendance,” Christie spokesman Kevin Roberts said. 

Paul's staff confirmed the senator will appear at the Sept. 13 ”Victory and Liberty Rally," which was organized by the campaign of New Jersey's Republican Senate candidate Steve Lonegan. Lonegan's campaign said Christie was also invited. 

Last month, Christie and Paul, who are both widely considered possible 2016 presidential hopefuls, feuded over their respective positions on government spending on aid for victims of Hurricane Sandy. Christie subsequently dismissed Paul's peace offering of a beer summit. 

Though Christie avoided Paul this time, the two will have a harder time avoiding each other later this month. Both are slated to appear at a Sept. 23 fundraiser for the Republican National Committee at the New York City home of Jets football team owner and GOP megadonor Woody Johnson. 

The son of Suriname's president is currently in Manhattan awaiting trial on charges he brandished a rocket launcher while working to smuggle cocaine into the United States. Dino Bouterse, whose strongman father, Desi, has been accused of allegedly murdering political rivals and also trafficking drugs, was arrested in Panama on Aug. 29, according to U.S. authorities. He was subsequently turned over to the U.S. and brought to Manhattan, where he appeared in court last Friday and pleaded not guilty.

Facebook profiles examined by TPM since Dino Bouterse's arrest that appear to belong to him and his relatives show the opulent and violent lifestyle of Suriname's ruling family. Photos on these Facebook pages include shots of luxury vacations, fancy homes, cars, and "selfies" showing off jewelry and designer clothing. The pictures also include something more sinister -- multiple images of heavy weaponry and drug dealing paraphernalia.

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