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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

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) on Thursday accused House Speaker John Boehner of dragging his feet on fiscal cliff negotiations until he's won another term as Speaker of the House.  

"John Boehner seems to care more about keeping his speakership than about keeping the nation on firm financial footing," Reid said during a fiery address from the Senate floor. "It's obvious, Mr. President, what's going on around here. He's waiting until Jan. 3 to get re-elected as speaker before he gets serious with negotiations because he has so many people over there that won't follow what he wants. That's obvious from the debacle that took place last week. And it was a debacle."

Reid was referring to Boehner's decision last week to call off a vote on his so-called "Plan B" in what was an embarrassing admission by the House Speaker that his proposal lacked sufficient support. 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) on Thursday blasted House Speaker John Boehner from the Senate floor, accusing the Republican leader of operating the House of Representatives like a "dictatorship." 

Reid said Boehner is actively blocking a vote on a proposal to avert the so-called fiscal cliff, even though Nevada's senior senator claimed the package has more than enough support to pass both houses of Congress.

"Everyone knows, including the speaker of the House of Represenatives today, that if they had brought up the Senate-passed bill that would give relief to everyone making less than $250,000 a year, it would pass overwhelmingly," Reid said. "Every Democrat would vote for it, Republicans would vote for it. But the speaker, he says, 'No, we can't do that.' It has to be a majority of the majority. So they've done nothing."

Reid went on to say that Boehner is denying the will of "the vast majority of the House of Represenatives." 

"The American people, I don't think understand, the House of Representatives is operating without the House of Representatives," Reid said. "It's being operated with a dictatorship of the speaker, not allowing the vast majority of the House of Represenatives to get what they want. If the 250 would be brought up, it would pass overwhelmingly. I repeat."

 

 

Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa Jackson on Thursday announced that she would be stepping down from her post, the Associated Press reports

Jackson's resignation marks the end of a tenure at the EPA that spanned almost four years. She was the first African-American to head the agency.

A frequent target of Republican criticism, Jackson offered no specific explanation for her resignation.

"I will leave the EPA confident the ship is sailing in the right direction, and ready in my own life for new challenges, time with my family and new opportunities to make a difference," Jackson said in a statement. 

Jackson will officially step down after President Obama's State of the Union address next month.

A non-profit organization on Thursday said the number of law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty dipped by 20 percent in 2012 after a two-year rise, the Associated Press reports.

According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, 127 federal, state and local officers have died thus far — a toll that puts 2012 on pace to be the least deadly year for law enforcement since 2009 and the second lowest number of deaths since 1960. Forty-nine of the deaths involved firearms. 

 

Nearly 60 percent of Americans said they support stricter gun laws but majorities expressed opposition to bans on specific types of firearms, according to a poll from Gallup released on Thursday.

Fifty-eight percent said that laws "covering the sale of firearms" should be made more strict, while 34 percent said that no changes should be made and a mere 6 percent said that laws should be made less strict.

But while there's robust support for tighter gun control, the poll found majority opposition to bans on certain weapons. Fifty-one percent said they are opposed to a ban on semi-automatic weapons and 74 percent indicated that they oppose a ban on handguns. The poll showed wide support for a ban on high-capacity magazines: 62 percent said they favor a prohibition on such clips, which have the capability of containing more than 10 rounds. 

Correction: This post has been updated to indicate that 62 percent support a ban on high-capacity magazines.

U.N. peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi on Thursday said that a transitional government could end the protracted civil war in Syria in a "few months," CNN reports.

Brahimi is currently in Damascus meeting with various officials, including President Bashar al-Assad. 

From CNN:

"I discussed with all the parties the need to have a transitional government that will hold broad powers," Brahimi said in a statement aired on Syrian state-run TV.

He pushed for the implementation of the Geneva communique, a plan laid by world leaders in June that calls for a transitional government, an end to violence and lasting democracy.

"The Geneva communique had all that is needed for a road map to end the crisis in Syria within few months," Brahimi said Thursday.

The plan united countries that had been at odds on how to handle the Syrian crisis. Russia and China joined France, the United Kingdom, the United States and Turkey in agreeing on the plan.

A gun buyback in Los Angeles on Wednesday drew thousands of participants who turned in their firearms in exchange for gift cards, the Los Angeles Times reports.

From the Times:

Cars queued up for blocks at the drive-through events, with the city giving cards worth up to $100 for handguns, shotguns and rifles, and up to $200 for assault weapons. There was a bit of haggling involved, but the guns were all taken.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa rescheduled the gun exchange from Mother's Day to Wednesday in response to the Dec. 14 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. According to the Times, nearly 1,700 guns had been collected by Wednesday afternoon.

(Ringo Chiu/ZUMA Press/Newscom)

Over the past month, the average number of Americans to apply for unemployment benefits dropped to its lowest mark since March of 2008, the Associated Press reported on Thursday.

From the A.P.:

The Labor Department says weekly applications dropped 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 350,000 in the week ended Dec. 22. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, fell to a nearly five-year low of 356,750.

Still, the figures were disrupted by the Christmas holiday. A department spokesman said many state unemployment offices were closed Monday and Tuesday and unable to compile complete data. Fourteen states provided estimates and the department estimated the numbers for five additional states.

The government might estimate one or two states in a typical week, but 19 state estimates are unusually high.

An explosion at a medical university on Thursday in the Ukrainian city of Chernivtsy left one person dead and two others wounded, Reuters reports.

From Reuters:

Police were looking into different possible causes of the blast, including the possibility that it may have been a bomb attack, a police spokeswoman said.

The death toll from a massive storm that powered from the Midwest and tore through the East Coast late Wednesday and early Thursday has risen to 12, the Associated Press reports. 

Leaving roughly a foot of snow in its wake in some parts of the Northeast, as well as a record-high snowfall in Arkansas, thousands of holiday travelers saw their itineraries disrupted. 

From the A.P.:

The latest storm-related deaths include a man checking on a disabled vehicle near Allentown, Pa., who was struck and killed Wednesday night, and two people killed in separate crashes in Virginia.

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