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Tom Kludt

Tom Kludt is a reporter for Talking Points Memo based in New York City, covering media and national affairs. Originally from South Dakota, Tom joined TPM as an intern in late-2011 and became a staff member during the 2012 election. He can be reached at tom@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Tom

The New York Times reports:

The United Nations suspended all polio-related field activities in Pakistan on Wednesday after more attacks on public health workers attempting to immunize children. Two people were killed and another wounded around the northwestern city of Peshawar.

The shootings followed a day of violence on Tuesday in the port city of Karachi in which four female health workers were killed. The attacks Wednesday brought the death toll from the three-day polio immunization campaign to eight people, most of them women.

A report released Tuesday night by an independent panel lambasted the State Department for its failures to provide adequate security to the United States diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya prior to the September attack that left four Americans dead, the New York Times reports. 

According to the Times, the report was highly critical of the State Department's "lack of seasoned security personnel" and reliance on "untested local militias to safeguard the compound" in Benghazi. 

More from the Times:

The investigation into the attack on the diplomatic mission and the C.I.A. annex in Benghazi that resulted in the deaths of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans also faulted State Department officials in Washington for ignoring requests from the American Embassy in Tripoli for more guards for the mission and for failing to make sufficient safety upgrades.

The panel also said American intelligence officials had relied too much on specific warnings of imminent attacks, which they did not have in the case of Benghazi, rather than basing assessments more broadly on a deteriorating security environment. By this spring, Benghazi, a hotbed of militant activity in eastern Libya, had experienced a string of assassinations, an attack on a British envoy’s motorcade and the explosion of a bomb outside the American Mission.

Finally, the report blamed two major State Department bureaus — Diplomatic Security and Near Eastern Affairs — for failing to coordinate and plan adequate security. The panel also determined that a number of officials had shown poor leadership, but they were not identified in the unclassified version of the report that was released.

“Systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus,” the report said, resulted in security “that was inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place.” 

 

Fifty-seven percent of Americans approve of the job President Obama is doing and his party is viewed far more favorably than the Republican Party, according to a poll from CBS News released Tuesday evening.

Obama's approval rating is the highest it's been in the CBS poll since the killing of Osama bin Laden in May of 2011. Thirty-seven percent disapprove of the job the president is doing. Obama's party, meanwhile, earn far more positive marks than the Republican Party: 51 percent of Americans have a favorable view of the Democratic Party, compared with just 31 percent who have a favorable opinion of the GOP.

Polls have consistently shown Obama's approval rating above 50 percent since he defeated Mitt Romney in the November election. The PollTracker Average reflects the president's post-election bounce.

 

Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker (D) is reportedly vacillating between a run for U.S. Senate in 2014 or a challenge to Gov. Chris Christie (R) next year, but records dug up by Politicker on Tuesday indicate that the popular Democrat with a prominent presence on Twitter has been prepared for either bid for quite some time: 

Records show Mr. Booker’s fundraising advisor and former City Hall staffer Bari Mattes has purchased the web domains for both “BookerForSenate” and BookerForGovernor. 

Ms. Mattes registered BookerForSenate.comBookerForSenate.net and BookerForGovernor.neton May 15, 2010. She registered BookerForGovernor.com on May 24, 2010. All of the domains expire in May 2014.

Authorities in Weld County, Colo. say a man shot and killed three people and then himself early Tuesday morning inside a suburban Denver home, Reuters reports:

Sergeant Tim Schwartz of the Weld County Sheriff's Office said police received a call from the home in a community about 35 miles north of Denver before dawn and heard a female voice say "No, no, no" before multiple gunshots were fired.

A man then came on the line and said he was going to kill himself, and the dispatcher heard another gunshot, Schwartz said.

According to Schwartz, the bodies of two males and two females included three adults, while one of the females may have been a teenager. A motive has not been determined.

 

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel (D), a candidate in the state's 2014 gubernatorial race, admitted that he has been involved in an "inappropriate" relationship with his attorney, the Associated Press reports.

Allegations of McDaniel's extramarital affair with Andrea L. Davis first surfaced in a custody dispute earlier this year between Davis and her ex-husband, who asked her in a court filing to admit that she's had sexual relations with the attorney general.

While McDaniel accepted culpability on Tuesday, he did not elaborate on the exact nature of his relationship with Davis. 

"With respect to Ms. Davis, I met her during the 2010 campaign. I had limited interaction with her in 2011, some of which I regret to say was inappropriate," he said in a statement.

Quebec Provincial Police said Tuesday that they have arrested three people in connection with the mass theft of maple syrup from a warehouse located in a town near Montreal, CNN reports. Five other suspects remain at large.

The theft transpired over the span of one year, from August 2011 until July 2012, and was discovered during a routine inventory check. The warehouse contained up to 10 million pounds of syrup, but it is unclear how much went missing.

 

The approval rating of Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) is in the gutter, according to a poll released Tuesday, the strongest evidence yet of the political perils associated with the right-to-work legislation he signed into law last week. 

According to the latest automated survey from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling, only 38 percent of Michigan voters approve of the job Snyder is doing, compared with 56 percent who disapprove. In PPP's previous survey of Michigan in November, Snyder's approval rating was 10 points above water: 47 percent of voters approved of his performance as governor, while 37 percent disapproved.

The right-to-work bill, signed by Snyder amid mass protests, appears to have changed the political climate in the Great Lake State. Fifty-one percent of Michigan voters oppose the bill, which made Michigan the country's 24th right-to-work state, while 41 percent support the legislation. Moreover, Snyder trails every Democrat in hypothetical matchups of the 2014 gubernatorial election. 

Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker is said to be having "serious discussions" about running for U.S. Senate in 2014 instead of challenging New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) in next year's gubernatorial race, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday. 

The Journal quoted three people close to Booker, two of whom said the popular mayor may announce the formation of an exploratory committee later this week to run for the Senate seat currently held by 88-year-old Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ). Booker may have a smoother path to the Senate chamber than the governor's mansion, given Christie's lofty standing following Superstorm Sandy. Recent polls have not only shown Christie with sky-high approval ratings, but also a comfortable edge over Booker in hypothetical matchups. 

Still, the Journal's report indicates that Booker hasn't ruled out anything yet:

Mr. Booker has been talking about the governor's race with strategists both steeped in New Jersey politics and independent from it, and he could change his mind at the last minute and still run for the state's powerful executive position next year, the people said.

"He's still talking," one person said about Mr. Booker's conversations with advisers.

The Journal also suggested that Booker, one of the most popular Twitter users in public office, might make the announcement through a tweet to his more than one million followers on the social-networking website. 

Out, the prominent gay and lesbian magazine, named New York Times polling guru Nate Silver as its "person of the year" on Tuesday. The magazine noted that Silver's forecasts throughout the 2012 campaign "became the talk of the chattering classes." Silver, who is openly gay, correctly predicted the outcome of the presidential election in all 50 states.

In the accompanying interview, Silver expressed concern that his growing influence could cause him to lose his edge:

“It’s a bit of a cautionary tale: the bright young intellectual who either gets sloppy or people stop scrutinizing them when they should be critical of everyone and everything,” says Silver. “That’s why I need to take some time just to relax—between the election and the book, I spilled out a lot of my creative output. Hopefully it’s a renewable resource, but you need time to generate thoughts and ideas.”

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