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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

Russian President Vladimir Putin visited an "oceanarium" that is being built on Russky Island in Vladivostok on Sunday. While there, according to the Presidential Press and Information Office, Putin "watched brief performances by dolphins and walruses" and toured the construction.

Putin also posed for photos with some of the animals and gave a high five to one of the walruses (pictured above). The English-language recap of the trip posted by the Presidential Press and Information Office noted Putin is "monitoring the construction work and has visited the site on a number of occasions already."

View more photos from Putin's visit to the oceanarium below. 

 

A New York Times/Siena College poll released Friday showed Public Advocate Bill de Blasio with a large lead in the Democratic primary of the New York City mayor's race. The poll found de Blasio in first place with 32 percent of likely Democratic voters compared to 18 percent for former Comptroller Bill Thompson and 17 percent for City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. About one in six voters remains undecided ahead of the Sept. 10 primary. 

De Blasio was up 18 points from the last New York Times/Siena College poll, which was released Aug. 9 and showed him in third place. His lead in the poll was slightly more modest than it was in a Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday that showed him with 36 percent of the vote, just shy of the 40 percent threshhold necessary to avoid a runoff with the second place finisher.

Along with an amNewYork-News 12 poll released Thursday, this was the first poll to find Quinn in third behind de Blasio and Thompson. Apart from Anthony Weiner's brief time atop the polls in, Quinn had been leading the pack until de Blasio's numbers began surging earlier this month. The New York Times/Siena College poll also found Quinn with the highest unfavorability ratings of the three top candidates.

This post has been updated.

On Wednesday, a man named Aniruddha Sherbow was arrested in Mexico for allegedly making threats against Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), a freshman congresswoman who House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has described as a "rising star."

According to the FBI and U.S. Capitol Police, Sherbow's arrest was a result of unspecified threats made earlier this month. However, Sherbow has a history with Gabbard that began with their apparent ties to a controversial Hare Krishna sect in Hawaii and most recently peaked with him vowing to cut off her head.

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Robel Phillpos, a 19-year-old friend of alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzokhar Tsarnaev, was indicted Thursday for allegedly making false statements to officials investigating the bombing.

According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, Phillipos was charged with two counts of making false statements. He was originally charged in May along with two other friends of Tsarnaev's, Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov. Affidavits filed in support of the earlier charges claimed the three men went to Tsarnaev's room and removed items after Tsarnaev's photo was released and identified as a bombing suspect. Once Tsarnaev was named, Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov allegedly threw out a backpack they had obtained in his room that contained fireworks emptied of powder. Phillipos was accused of knowingly concealing these facts from investigators.

Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov were indicted Aug. 8. At that time, the Associated Press reported a hearing for Phillipos that was scheduled for Aug.12 had been cancelled, and that Phillipos' attorneys said they were "in talks that could resolve the case."

 

On Thursday, the U.S. Capitol Police and FBI announced the arrest of Aniruddha Sherbow for allegedly making threats against Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI). Sherbow was apprehended in Mexico on Wednesday by the Baja California State Police Fugitive Unit, acting on a warrant issued in Washington, D.C.

Mexican authorities turned Sherbow over to U.S. law enforcement late Wednesday. Sherbow is scheduled to have an initial court appearance Thursday in San Diego, Calif., on a charge of transmission of threats in interstate commerce. He will then be moved to Washington. According to a press release from the FBI and Capitol Police, the alleged threats "occurred on August 1 and August 3, 2013" and "were deemed credible."

Gabbard was elected to represent Hawaii's second congressional district last year. According to the Honolulu Star Advertiser, in 2011, a court issued a three-year injunction against Sherbow after he allegedly sent Gabbard, who was then serving on the Honolulu City Council, a string of "verbally abusive telephone calls and sent similar text messages."

 

Steve Lonegan, the Republican candidate in New Jersey's special Senate election, told TPM in a recent interview there is no question which of his big name supporters he would endorse if they were to run against each other in the 2016 GOP presidential primary.

Lonegan told TPM he would support New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R ) over Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), both of whom have feuded lately but have come together on an endorsement of him in the special election.

"I got to tell you the truth, I'm very very impressed with what Gov. Christie has done in New Jersey and how he stepped to the plate for me,"

Lonegan said. Lonegan previously ran against Christie in the 2009 gubernatorial primary, but he said they made their peace afterward.

"I will tell you that after the primary … he came over my house. I made lunch. The two of us sat around for a couple hours, talked about the race, how we were going to win the general, what I could do to help him," explained Lonegan. "I stepped up to the plate and I campaigned for him hard, went out on the campaign trail, spoke at rallies, and, you know, we've had disagreements over some of the things he has done, but in general, we agree on the principles. And now, when it's my chance, when I'm running, he's done the same for me."

Meanwhile, Paul is scheduled to be appearing at a fundraiser for Lonegan next month in New York City.

"So, how could I--I would be a total asshole if I didn't support Chris Christie. Don't use, you don't have to use that word. You can find a better word," said Lonegan. "How do you not support the governor who has been unabashed in support of me?"

Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker, the Democratic candidate in the Garden State's special Senate election, responded to comments his Republican opponent, Steve Lonegan, made about his sexuality in an interview with HuffPost Live Wednesday. Booker said Lonegan's remarks were "really unacceptable."

"It is just disheartening to hear somebody in this day and age in the United States of America say basically that gay men are not men," Booker said, adding, "Instead he is challenging the masculinity of millions of Americans, and that is really unacceptable and that goes against everything I was taught about this country and what we stand for."

Booker was referring to an interview Lonegan gave to Newsmax in which he mocked Booker for saying he's not concerned with speculation about Booker's own sexuality.

"As a guy, I personally like being a guy. … I don’t know if you saw the stories last year. They’ve been out for quite a bit about how he likes to go out at 3 o’clock in the morning for a manicure and a pedicure,” said Lonegan. “Maybe that helps to get him the gay vote by acting ambiguous. … I don’t like going out in the middle of the night, or any time of the day, for a manicure and pedicure. It was described as his peculiar fetish is how it was described. I have a more peculiar fetish. I like a good Scotch and a cigar. That’s my fetish but we’ll just compare the two."

New Jersey Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno (R) disputed the notion in a recent interview with TPM that Gov. Chris Christie (R) is especially close with the state's Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker.

Guadagno discussed the a perception Christie and Booker enjoy unusually close ties in an interview on Saturday at an event hosted by a Republican organization in Berkeley Township, N.J.

"I mean, as a leader of the state, you have a responsibilities to all the people in the state. Your responsibility is to build up one of the largest cities in the state. That's why they're good friends, because you have to work together to bring businesses in to Newark, that's one of our many responsibilities so in that sense its a cordial relationship," Guadagno said of Christie and Booker. "But when it comes to decisions about what government should be or shouldn't be, they couldn't be any more different."

Guadagno said positions on education are the "only common thread" between Booker and Christie.

"They do agree on education. Mayor Booker knows the the system in Newark is broken. And Mayor Booker knows that you have to fix the system and success shouldn't depend on how much money you throw at it," said Guadagno. "We send a billion dollars worth of federal tax dollars and state tax dollars to Newark. We should be helping children. … On the need to fix the schools, they agree and that's the only common thread I would guess you had."

Christie has endorsed Steve Lonegan over Booker in New Jersey's special Senate election. Guadagno also dismissed the idea that Booker, who has a double-digit lead over Lonegan in the polls, is a lock to win the Senate race. While accidentally referring to Lonegan multiple times as a senator, Guadagno pointed to Booker's fundraising in California as evidence Lonegan has a superior field organization in New Jersey that will help him earn a victory.

"Come on, come on, 16 points is nothing in New Jersey and senator -- soon to be Sen. Lonegan has a ground game you haven't even begun to see," Guadagno said. "The difference between the senator -- that Lonegan team and the Booker team is it's a New Jersey ground game. Sen. Lonegan has a New Jersey ground game. It wasn't bought and paid for by money coming from California. … Unfortunately, Mayor Booker had to go to California to get his ground game."

New Jersey Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno (R) disputed the notion in a recent interview with TPM that Gov. Chris Christie (R) is especially close with the state's Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker.

Guadagno discussed the a perception Christie and Booker enjoy unusually close ties in an interview on Saturday at an event hosted by a Republican organization in Berkeley Township, N.J.

"I mean, as a leader of the state, you have a responsibilities to all the people in the state. Your responsibility is to build up one of the largest cities in the state. That's why they're good friends, because you have to work together to bring businesses in to Newark, that's one of our many responsibilities so in that sense its a cordial relationship," Guadagno said of Christie and Booker. "But when it comes to decisions about what government should be or shouldn't be, they couldn't be any more different."

Guadagno said positions on education are the "only common thread" between Booker and Christie.

"They do agree on education. Mayor Booker knows the the system in Newark is broken. And Mayor Booker knows that you have to fix the system and success shouldn't depend on how much money you throw at it," said Guadagno. "We send a billion dollars worth of federal tax dollars and state tax dollars to Newark. We should be helping children. … On the need to fix the schools, they agree and that's the only common thread I would guess you had."

Christie has endorsed Steve Lonegan over Booker in New Jersey's special Senate election. Guadagno also dismissed the idea that Booker, who has a double-digit lead over Lonegan in the polls, is a lock to win the Senate race. While accidentally referring to Lonegan multiple times as a senator, Guadagno pointed to Booker's fundraising in California as evidence Lonegan has a superior field organization in New Jersey that will help him earn a victory.

"Come on, come on, 16 points is nothing in New Jersey and senator -- soon to be Sen. Lonegan has a ground game you haven't even begun to see," Guadagno said. "The difference between the senator -- that Lonegan team and the Booker team is it's a New Jersey ground game. Sen. Lonegan has a New Jersey ground game. It wasn't bought and paid for by money coming from California. … Unfortunately, Mayor Booker had to go to California to get his ground game."

On a recent Saturday morning, Steve Lonegan walked into the belly of the beast.

A pro-life, anti-gay marriage, staunch fiscal conservative Senate candidate from New Jersey, he was making an appearance on MSNBC's "Up With Steve Kornacki." As he strolled into the studio, Lonegan noted his somewhat antagonistic relationship with the channel's progressive pundits.

"I'd like to get on Maddow," Lonegan said as he was introduced to a producer who previously worked on Rachel Maddow's show. "I actually watch her a lot. She called me crazy."

After being led to a green room where he waited to go on air, Lonegan turned to his press aide and noted they were behind enemy lines.

"I'm not exactly walking into friendly territory here on this panel," Lonegan said matter-of-factly. "There are people from Salon and the Huffington Post."

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