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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

A panel of North Carolina state officials approved a proposal Wednesday that would force landowners to sell energy companies the rights to natural gas under their properties, the News & Observer of Raleigh reported.

The proposal, conducted by the Compulsory Pooling Study Group, is nonbinding, but it will bypass consideration by the N.C. Mining and Energy Commission, which holds public hearings on issues of environmental and public protection. The proposal is still subject to changes from the state legislature, however, where the News & Observer says it is likely to pass.

Proponents of the recommendation argue it would protect local residents from being uncompensated for gas inadvertantly extracted from their property, and keep nearby property owners from profiting from gas extracted from under their neighbor's land, the News & Observer reported.

The N.C. panel recommended that at least 90 percent of acreage of a drilling area be leased to willing landowners before remaining property owners would be forcibly pooled.

More from the Observer here.

Daniel Hernandez Jr., the heroic former intern who was credited with helping save former Rep. Gabby Gifford's (D-AZ) life when she was shot in 2011, went on MSNBC Live on Friday to discuss an anti-gay smear campaign against him, and the sudden flurry of attention being paid Cory Booker's nonchalant answer to questions about his sexuality.

Hernandez, who is gay, told MSNBC host Thomas Roberts he felt Cory Booker's "So what does it matter if I am?" response when asked if he was gay just means the discussion around LGBT issues is on the right path.

"I think if there is a silver lining in all this the fact the reason this is happening is because we are winning on so many different issues. This is no longer the achilles heel it used to be."

Hernandez was elected last year to the board of Tucson's Sunnyside Unified School District. Supporters of the board's president recently launched a recall campaign against him, and flyers that attacked Hernandez for being gay and for supporting gun control have been distributed in the district.

"Put a REAL Man on the Sunnyside Board," read one flyer featuring Hernandez's picture, first reported by Right Wing Watch. "Daniel Hernandez is LGBT. We need someone who will support Sports and cares about our kids. We don't need someone who hates our values."

"Cory is right when he talks about this," Hernandez said on MSNBC Friday. "Being a real man is not about sending out flyers and not standing up to them. You need to be kind and a dedicated public servant."

 

         
 

     

An immense canyon previously unknown for all of human history has been discovered under a mile of Greenland ice, NASA announced Thursday.

NASA's Operation IceBridge, an airborne research project that studies polar ice, discovered the continuous bedrock canyon with data collected between 2009 and 2012. The canyon extends 460 miles from central to northern Greenland, making it longer than Arizona's Grand Canyon, and reaches depths up to 2,600 feet, similar to portions of the Grand Canyon.

NASA believes the canyon predates the ice sheet that has covered Greenland for several million years.

"One might assume that the landscape of the Earth has been fully explored and mapped," said Jonathan Bamber, professor of physical geography at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, and lead author of the findings published Thursday. "Our research shows there's still a lot left to discover."

Operation IceBridge previously captured these incredible images of polar ice melt, developed this digital simulation video of a massive glacier breaking apart, and filmed a 19-mile crack in an Antarctic iceberg the size of New York City.

This post has been updated.

The latest recipient of a surprise phone call from Pope Francis was Alejandra Pereyra, an Argentinean woman and mother, who emailed the Holy See with her story of being raped by a police officer, Vatican Insider reported Wednesday. 

Francis called Pereyra Sunday afternoon. He reportedly said "It's Pope Francis" when she picked up the phone.

“I started crying. With an angelic voice, he told me to be calm and that he was calling because he had read my letter and my story struck him,” Pereyra told Vatican Insider.

In the email that prompted the call, Pereyra told Francis about her rape and the abuse of her family by local police.

Per Vatican Insider:

“I am mother to six biological children and have brought up six others, three of which have disabilities. One day, one of these children was playing with a ball on the sidewalk in front of our house, when a policeman came by and called out to him. He didn’t get a response so the policeman took an Ithaca rifle and pointed it at the child’s chin. I went to the courts in Rio Segundo and reported the incident. Since then, me and my family have been continually harassed by the police. 

 

“With all the pain I carry in my heart dear Holy Father, I ask you for your help because after all the talk of rape, they finally did it. One night in September 2008, around midnight, a police car turned up at our house and a policeman who presented himself as police chief Sergio Braccamonte, got out.” Mr. Braccamonte asked her to follow him to the police station but instead drove her to an isolated place “where he pointed a service pistol at my head and raped me.

 

Alejandra Pereyra wrote that Judge Luis Nazar who was in charge of the case “did nothing when I begged him to do something because I didn’t want to have to mourn a dead child.”

 

The U.S. federal tax system will recognize gay couples' marriages even if they live in a state where gay marriage is not legal, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced in a statement Thursday.

This ruling, which creates a uniform policy for the IRS, "assures legally married same-sex couples that they can move freely throughout the country knowing that their federal filing status will not change,” Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said in a statement.

Prior to the ruling, if a gay couple married in Connecticut, for example, and moved to New Jersey, they would no longer be recognized as married for tax purposes. Now, the state where the wedding took place takes precedence over the state of residence.

“With today’s ruling, committed and loving gay and lesbian married couples will now be treated equally under our nation’s federal tax laws, regardless of what state they call home,” said Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin in a statement. “These families finally have access to crucial tax benefits and protections previously denied to them under the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act.”

Russian artist Konstantin Altunin, 45, is seeking political asylum in France after Russian authorities raided the gallery where his painting of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in women's underwear was displayed, Agence France-Presse reported Thursday.

Police raided the exhibition in Saint Petersburg Tuesday, and confiscated multiple pieces including Altunin's painting of Putin in a nightgown and Medvedev in a bra and underwear. 

Altunin told AFP he fled Russia immediately after he heard that exhibition organizers had been detained by police. He spoke to the news agency from Paris, where he said he was preparing the necessary documents for political asylum request.

"They have already said directly that my exhibition is extremist -- that's a very serious charge," he said.

The New York Times website was attacked Tuesday afternoon by “the Syrian Electronic Army, or someone trying very hard to be them,” Marc Frons, the New York Times Company chief information officer, told the paper's own reporters. The website was down at 3 p.m., and shortly after service was restored it was taken down a second time, preventing it from loading for readers until after 6 p.m.. 

The Syrian Electronic Army is an organization of hackers who support President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. The S.E.A. emerged in May 2011, during the first wave of Syrian uprisings, according to the NYT. It attacked several news organizations and spammed President Obama’s and Oprah Winfrey’s Facebook pages with pro-Assad comments. The group attacked The Washington Post’s website on on Aug. 15, and also tried to take down CNN. Their stated goal "was to offer a pro-government counternarrative to media coverage of Syria," according to the NYT.

The hackers on Tuesday targeted the NYT’s domain name registrar. The NYTimes.com domain name is managed by a registrar known as MelbourneIT, according to CloudFlare, one of several web security companies called in Tuesday to help resolve the problem. The hackers, CloudFlare explained, accessed MelbourneIT's administrative control panel and updated the name servers for NYTimes.com, hijacking the site. The Syrian Electronic Army subsequently posted screen shots of MelbourneIT's control panel to its Twitter feed.

The rodeo clown who received a lifetime ban from the Missouri State Fair for donning a mask of President Barack Obama earlier this month defended the stunt Monday, claiming it was never intended to be about race or politics.

"I didn't think anything more of it than what we've done 15 years ago, 10 years ago, five years ago, when we've done it with Bush, Clinton and Ronald Reagan," Tuffy Gessling told KCTV Monday. "I never did anything because of anybody's race. I don't care what color somebody is. If they're blue, white, green, polka dotted, striped ... it doesn't bother me one bit."

Gessling recieved national attention for a week after news of the stunt went viral. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) urged Obama to invite the rodeo clown to the White House for a beer summit, arguing that the flap was "not about race." Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) condemned the clown, and White House deputy press secretary John Earnest called the stunt "not one of the finer moments" for Missouri. 

"I've had one lady spit in my face, called me a dirty name, spit in my face and walked off," Gessling added, partly a reason why he decided to come forth and speak out about the incident. "I've had somebody threaten to run me over. One of them wanted to burn the house down." 

Asked if identified as a Democrat or Republican, Gessling replied, "I am a rodeo clown."

 

 

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