Perry Stein

Perry is a News Writer for Talking Points Memo based in Washington D.C. Prior to TPM, she was a reporter-research at The New Republic and worked for her hometown paper, The Miami Herald. Perry can be reached at perry@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Perry

Police were nearly dispatched to the home of the killer in the Hialeah, Fla. mass shooting hours before the tragedy, but his mother told police not to come because her son had left the apartment, the Miami Herald reported based on a 911 recording released Wednesday.

The killer, Pedro Alberto Vargas, called 911 early Friday afternoon, and speaking softly in Spanish told the operator, “I’m being threatened, and I’m a victim,” he said. “Could you run a license plate?”

The operator asked who was following him, to which Vargas replied, "People ... Sorcery and stuff that is being done on me."

The operator then asked for Vargas' mother, who lived in the one-bedroom apartment with him, and the mother told the operator that something was wrong with her son and he was acting "very altered."

In all, the call lasted more than 12-minutes, but Vargas left the apartment at some point with, according to his mother, a container to get gasoline.

The operator told his mother that two officers were on their way, but she said to cancel the call because her son wasn't in the apartment anymore. 

Five hours later, Vargas started his shooting rampage in a Hialeah apartment complex that left six people dead. A SWAT team killed Vargas while he was holding two other people hostage. 

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President Barack Obama gave a "full-throated defense" of his possible Fed chair nominee, Larry Summers, in a closed-door meeting with House Democrats Wednesday, a lawmaker in the room told the Huffington Post.

Another lawmaker who was present in the room said the president defended Summers after Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) walked to the microphone and said "Larry Summers. Bad Choice." The lawmaker, who was paraphrasing Obama, also recalled the president saying, "Hey, don't talk sh*t about him because he's actually a pretty good guy. And then he said, 'If somebody talked sh*t about you like that, I'd defend you too," according to the Huffington Post. The lawmaker said the president did not use the expletive. 

Two other Democrats in the room said the president also criticized the Huffington Post for turning Summers into what Obama called a "progressive whipping boy.”

Senate Democrats signaled Tuesday that Summers' confirmation would face unlikely odds.

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The father of NSA leaker Edward Snowden, Lon Snowden, said in an interview with the Washington Post that his son took a position with Booz Allen, where he had access to classified information, because budget cuts known as sequestration led to the elimination of his previous contracting job.

"Edward has said he took his final government contracting job with Booz Allen Hamilton in Hawaii to gain access to sensitive NSA information. But his father said Edward told him that his previous contracting job had been eliminated because of the federal budget sequestration," reporter Jerry Markon wrote in the article published online Tuesday night.

Booz Allen was cleared of any wrongdoing by the Air Force earlier this month.


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Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) said Wednesday morning that his daughter has returned the $15,000 gift given to her by donor and Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams Sr. that paid for catering at her 2011 wedding, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

This announcement comes a day after the embattled governor said that he plans to return all gifts he received from Williams.

McDonnell also said Tuesday that his other daughter had already returned the $10,000 wedding present Williams gave her.

Correction: Jonnie Williams Sr. is Star Scientific's CEO, not CFO. We regret the error.

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Director of National Intelligence James Clapper authorized Wednesday the declassification and release of telephone metadata that were collected under the authority of the PATRIOT Act in an attempt to increase transparency in the agency.

"DNI Clapper has determined that the release of these documents is in the public interest," Shawn Turner, director of public affairs of DNI, said in a release.

2009 CoverLetter Report Collection 1

2011 CoverLetters Report Collection 2

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The National Rifle Association confirmed Tuesday that it would remain neutral in the confirmation of Todd Jones to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, giving Jones a big boost in winning Senate approval, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. 

It is unclear why the NRA, a long time foe of the ATF, is not opposing Jones, although the powerful gun lobby's director of public affairs confirmed that the organization would neither support nor fight the nomination. 

Jones is the current acting director of ATF--a post he has held since September 2011. He also serves at the United States Attorney for Minnesota. 

A Senate vote is expected Wednesday or Thursday. 

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The public feud between Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), both potential presidential candidates in 2016, continued to percolate Tuesday, with the libertarian stalwart firing back in response to claims that Kentucky was bringing too much public funds home from Washington.

"This is the king of bacon talking about bacon," Paul said about Christie on CNN's 'The Situation Room.'

Earlier in the day, Christie told reporters that Paul should "start cutting the pork barrel spending" he brings back to his state, citing statistics that show Kentucky receiving more than double for every dollar it sends to Washington than the state of New Jersey. 


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WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange weighed in on the  U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning verdict Tuesday, saying the conviction of a whistleblower "is a dangerous precedent and an example of national security extremism."

Manning was acquitted on the charge of aiding the enemy, but was found guilty of espionage, theft and other charges for sending classifed material to WikiLeaks and could face a maximum of 136 years in prison.

"It is a short sighted judgment that can not be tolerated and must be reversed," Assange said in a statement. "It can never be that conveying true information to the public is ’espionage’."

"The only ’victim’ was the US government’s wounded pride, but the abuse of this fine young man was never the way to restore it," he continued. "Rather, the abuse of Bradley Manning has left the world with a sense of disgust at how low the Obama administration has fallen. It is not a sign of strength, but of weakness."

Read the full statement here.

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