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Zoe Schlanger

Zoë Schlanger is Frontpage Editor at TPM. Zoë was a TPM intern in 2011, and prior to returning here she was editor in chief of NYU Local, the alternative independent student news site at NYU. Zoë has interned at places like the Nation, InsideClimate News, The Rachel Maddow Show and Gothamist. She can be reached at zoe@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Zoe

The OnLine Network announced Friday that CNN anchor Jake Tapper will make a special appearance and his first acting debut on the soap opera "All My Children," UPI reported.

Tapper will play Spencer Phillips, a reporter from "Business News Update" on the episode that airs Aug. 12, according to UPI.

The State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs published the list of 21 U.S. embassies, all located throughout the Middle East, that will be closed Sunday because of an unspecified terror threat.

The State Department also issued a worldwide travel alert for August due to an al-Qaida threat, "particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, and possibly occurring in or emanating from the Arabian Peninsula." 

After already spending $1 billion on it, Duke Energy announced Thursday the company was dropping plans to build a $24.7 billion nuclear reactor complex in Levy County, Fla., according to the New York Times.

Most of the $1 billion had been collected from customers, but it cited a change in Florida rules that the company said raised doubts on whether it would be allowed to collect from customers for the construction.

Image: Shutterstock / iurii

A 3-year-old boy playing with a gun was shot by a 5-year-old boy at a Monroe, La. home Thursday, the News Star reported.

While investigators are treating the shooting as an accident with no deliberate foul play, criminal charges may still be pending, Monroe Police Sgt. Mark Johnson told the News Star.

“We think there may be more going on than we’ve been told,” Johnson said. “This is a serious situation. Some people may have given us untruthful statements.”

The boy remained in serious condition Thursday, Johnson said.

The Lorraine Mondial Air Balloons festival at a former NATO airfield in eastern France broke two records this week: the first by launching 408 piloted hot air balloons within an hour on Wednesday, and the second by launching 391 balloons at once on Thursday, for the biggest simultaneous balloon launch ever, the Associated Press reported.

The festival in Chambley-Bussieres is organized by a descendent of the 18th century aeronautics pioneer Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier, according to AP.

Photos: AP Photo/ Alexandre Marchi/L'est Republicain, Pool

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell addressed her employees Thursday on the “moral imperative” to address climate change, reminding them they are able to "actually do something about it," E&E News reported.

“I hope there are no climate change deniers in the Department of Interior,” she said.

If any climate change deniers did work in the department, Jewell continued, they should visit the federally managed lands where the changing climate is visible. She listed the melting permafrost in Alaska and the shrinking snowpacks in the Sierra Mountains as examples, according to E&E.

Jewell also gave a “shout-out” to Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Michael Connor, who was nominated by Obama for the deputy secretary of Interior post, E&E reported.

“I couldn’t be happier President Obama nominated Mike for this role,” she said. “We will complement each other’s skills.”

The use of armed guards on pot farms in the California wilderness are among the things making environmental regulation in the state more difficult, the Associated Press reported Thursday.

Local officials in Northern California recently asked state regulators to step in and help protect streams and rivers from some of the damage being done by the marijuana growers, often Mexican cartels, which clear the land, divert water and poison wildlife with toxic chemical runoff.

But according to the AP, state regulators have refused because of the dangers of dealing with potentially armed growers.

"We simply cannot, in good conscience, put staff in harm's way," Paula Creedon, the head of the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, a state agency, wrote in a recent letter to local officials quoted by the AP.

People who frequent the wilderness, like wildlife officials and hikers, sometimes report coming across armed men guarding major pot farms. The AP reported that's one of the reasons an agency, the California Department of Fish & Wildlife, gave its wardens more powerful weapons.

Correction: This post has been updated to clarify several aspects of what the Associated Press originally reported. It has also been corrected to show that wildlife wardens were the ones who recently received more powerful weapons.

Image: Shutterstock / sarra22

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner's attorney wrote a letter Tuesday asking the city to pay Filner's legal fees on the basis that the mayor never underwent sexual harassment training, suggesting that the city is liable in Filner's ongoing legal debacle, the L.A. Times reported.

"The city has a legal obligation to provide sexual harassment training to all management level employees," wrote attorney Harvey Berger, regarding payment of the legal bills Filner has accrued in defense of the lawsuit filed by his former communications director. "I have learned that many -- if not most -- people do not know what is and what is not illegal sexual harassment under California law."

The City Council voted 9-0 on Tuesday not to pay Filner's bills. The same evening, an eighth woman came forward to say that Filner once gave her a "wet, saliva-filled kiss" on the cheek in a business meeting.

A man was arrested at a Michigan movie theater Tuesday night after he was found wearing body armor, carrying a gun and flashing a phony CIA badge, the Associated Press reported.

Police said they arrested Cassidy Delavergne after being called to the the Grand Blanc Township cinema when somebody spotted the vest and gun.

When police approached, Delavergne flashed a fake CIA badge, telling the officers he was a federal agent, CBS Detroit affiliate WWJ reported.

Investigators said they found he was carrying a 9mm pistol and 34 rounds of ammunition. Federal investigators later found an additional 111 rounds of ammunition in his car, according to authorities.

The FBI said he claimed to have a concealed weapons permit. Delavergne was charged Wednesday with posessing a phony CIA badge, but he wasn't charged with any crimes related to the guns or ammunition, according to the AP.

Federal authorities have declined to say why Delavergne might have been at the movie theater, WWJ reported. He remained in custody, according to AP.

Image: Shutterstock

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's administration has spent more than two years trying to put down an ongoing uprising calling for his own ouster, with a recent United Nations report putting the number of people killed in the civil war at upwards of 100,000

Last week, Assad started an Instagram account in a move likely intended to bolster his image, the Guardian reported. 

The account currently has 5,009 followers and 73 photographs uploaded, many of which show Assad and his wife, Asma al-Assad, interacting with children, the sick and the elderly:

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