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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

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama on Wednesday released a statement to extend "warm thoughts and best wishes to all those celebrating Kwanzaa this holiday season." 

The statement:

Michelle and I extend our warm thoughts and best wishes to all those celebrating Kwanzaa this holiday season. Today marks the first day of the week-long celebration of African-American history and culture through the seven principles of Kwanzaa: unity, self determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.

 To many, Kwanzaa serves as a time of reflection--taking lessons learned from our past and looking forward to a more promising tomorrow. It reminds us that though there is much to be thankful for we must recommit ourselves to building a country where all Americans have the opportunity to achieve their dreams.

 As families across America light the Kinara today in the spirit of unity, our family extends our prayers and well wishes during this season.

 

Outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will leave Foggy Bottom with the approval of an overwhelming majority of the American public, according to a CNN/ORC International poll released Wednesday.

Sixty-six percent of respondents said they approve of the job Clinton is doing at the State Department, while just 30 percent said they disapprove.

The poll was conducted entirely before the release of an independent report that highlighted "systematic failures and leadership and management deficiencies" by the State Department ahead of the deadly September attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.

Attempting to fill the void left by KSL.com, which announced last week that it would temporarily suspend firearms sales in its classified listings, the Utah Gun Exchange celebrated the launch of its website with a free gun giveaway on Christmas, the Associated Press reported on Monday:

On Christmas Day, the Utah Gun Exchange group will be picking "one lucky winner" among 7,000 or so people who have "liked" its Facebook page and are 21 years or older. The winner, who must pass the requisite government background check, will receive a Sig P2022 9 mm handgun with a mounted laser. 

KSL.com, a media group owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, made the decision to suspend gun sales in its classified listings as a response to the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.

Former South African president and anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela has been released from the hospital, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday. 

Mandela had been hospitalized since Dec. 8 after being diagnosed with a lung infection. While in the hospital, he underwent a procedure to remove gallstones. 

A spokesman for the South African presidency said that Mandela will continue to receive medical treatment at his home in Johannesburg. 

Russian arms designer Mikhail Kalashnikov, perhaps best known for designing the AK-47, has been hospitalized and is in intensive care due to "general weakness," Agence France-Presse reported on Wednesday:

The 93-year-old father of the AK-47 has been having heart problems and feeling poorly since March, when he stopped showing up for work, his aide told the RIA Novosti news agency.

“When I visited him at home last week, he told me that nothing seemed to hurt, but that he simply had no strength left,” his assistant, Nikolai Shklyayev, was quoted as saying.

“It seems that this is just his age showing,” Shklyayev said.

Correction: This post has been updated to show that Kalashnikov's hospitalization was reported by Agence France-Presse.

The upper house of the Russian parliament on Wednesday voted unanimously to pass a bill that would ban adoptions of Russians by Americans, the Associated Press reports

From the A.P.:

The bill is widely seen as the Kremlin's retaliation against an American law that calls for sanctions against Russians deemed to be human rights violators. It comes as Putin takes an increasingly confrontational attitude toward the West, brushing aside concerns about a crackdown on dissent and democratic freedoms.

Dozens of Russian children close to being adopted by American families now will almost certainly be blocked from leaving the country. The law also cuts off the main international adoption route for Russian children stuck in often dismal orphanages: More than 60,000 Russian youngsters have been adopted in the United States in the past 20 years. There are about 740,000 children without parental care in Russia, according to UNICEF.

All 143 members of the Federation Council present voted to support the bill, which has sparked criticism from both the United States and Russian officials, activists and artists, who say it victimizes children by depriving them of the chance to escape the squalor of orphanage life. The vote comes days after Parliament's lower house overwhelmingly approved the ban.

 

The House of Representatives will not be in session for legislative business on Thursday, NBC News reports.

Aides to GOP House leaders told NBC that Republican members have not been summoned back to Washington, D.C.

The Senate is scheduled to convene on Thursday, however.

Fifty-five percent of American voters have seen a U.S. economy that has recovered in their own personal experience even as an overwhelming majority believes the country is still experiencing a recession, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll released on Monday.

A whopping 75 percent of voters said the national economy remains in a recession, compared with a mere 22 percent who said the recession is over. And while a majority has felt the economic improvements extend to their personal lives, 76 percent of voters described the recovery as a weak one.

An anti-gun campaign spearheaded by the New York Daily News attracted the support of two high-profile New York City residents on Tuesday.

Political activist and commentator Al Sharpton and New York Police Department commissioner Ray Kelly both signed the newspaper's petition to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. According to the Daily News, more than 75,000 people have signed the petition.

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