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

Police in Washington, D.C. are investigating NBC's "Meet the Press" after the show's host David Gregory appeared to display a high-capacity ammunition magazine during Sunday's program, a spokeswoman for the police department confirmed to the Washington Post early Wednesday.

Washington, D.C.'s firearms regulations state that "No person in the District shall possess, sell, or transfer any large capacity ammunition feeding device" even if it is not attached to a firearm. During his interview with National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre on Sunday, Gregory held what he said was a magazine capable of holding 30 bullets. 

According to the Washington Post, "Meet the Press" is typically produced in Washington, D.C.

Watch the exchange:


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Reuters reports:

The head of Syria's military police has defected from the army and declared allegiance to the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, according to a video and a Syrian security source.

The high-level defection, while not a strategically significant development in the 21-month-old conflict, will be a blow to morale for Assad's forces, which are hitting back at a string of rebel advances across the country.

"I am General Abdelaziz Jassim al-Shalal, head of the military police. I have defected because of the deviation of the army from its primary duty of protecting the country and its transformation into gangs of killing and destruction," the officer said in a video published on YouTube.

A Syrian security source confirmed the defection but played down its significance.


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Famed Republican pollster Frank Luntz on Wednesday said the National Rifle Association's call for armed police officers in schools demonstrates that the powerful pro-gun lobby is out of step with the American public.

“The public wants guns out of the schools, not in the schools,” Luntz said during an appearance on "CBS This Morning.” “And they are not asking for a security official or someone else. I don’t think the NRA is listening. I don’t think they understand most Americans would protect the Second Amendment rights and yet agree with the idea that not every human being should own a gun, not every gun should be available at any time, anywhere, for anyone. At gun shows, you should not be able to buy something there without any kind of check whatsoever.”

Watch the exchange:


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When the Virginia Tech football team takes the field Friday for the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando, Fla., the players will be sporting helmets with decals that pay tribute to victims of their school's 2007 mass shooting and the massacre earlier this month in Newtown, Conn., ESPN.com reports:

The Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in which 20 children and six faculty members died, was the second-deadliest school shooting in the United States. The deadliest occurred on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg on April 16, 2007, when a gunman killed 32 people and wounded 17 others.

To remember those killed in both tragedies, the Hokies' helmets will feature a large orange-and-green ribbon, the word "Prevail" and the number 58 for the total number of victims.

"It's just one of those things that we've been through what those people up in Sandy Hook are going through," Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said Monday, according to the Orlando Sentinel. "We prevailed in Blacksburg. I think if anything, it brought us closer and more determined, and the same thing is going to happen there. The way the community is coming together. It's a terrible thing to happen."

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Americans are almost evenly split on the likelihood of President Obama and Congressional leaders to strike a deal before Jan. 1 to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff, according to data gathered in Gallup's daily tracking poll released on Wednesday.

Fifty percent of Americans believe it is "very" or "somewhat" likely that leaders will reach a solution that avoids the punitive measures associated with the year-end deadline, which include a raft of tax hikes and spending cuts, while 48 percent believe it is "not too likely" or "not at all likely." 

But according to Gallup, Americans' optimism on fiscal cliff negotiations has declined throughout the month of December. For example, 58 percent of Americans at the beginning of the month said that a deal was likely, compared with 39 percent who said it was unlikely.

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A deadly storm system led to tornadoes in the southern United States and wintry conditions throughout the middle part of the country on Tuesday, leaving three people dead. The storm on Wednesday was making its way from the country's midsection toward the East Coast, bringing the risk of major delays to holiday travelers. 

From NBC News:

Snow was expected across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, with northern Ohio, northern Pennsylvania and southern New York set to bear the brunt, according to Weather Channel meteorologist Guy Walton.

Further south, driving rain and thunderstorms were expected throughout the southeast Atlantic, with the tornado threat highest in the eastern Carolinas, according to the national Storm Prediction Center.

Yet more snow is forecast for Thursday in the Northeast to the west and north of the I-95 corridor Thursday into northern New England, with upwards of one foot possible.

The storm claimed three lives on Tuesday: Wind-toppled trees killed a pickup truck driver near Houston, Texas, and a 53-year-old man in north Louisiana, while NBC affiliate KJRH reported that a 28-year-old woman was killed in a crash on a snowy highway near Fairview, Oklahoma.

An estimated 34 tornadoes battered southern states – a record number for Christmas Day, according to the Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore. Some were captured on dramatic home videos.


(AP Photo/AL.com, Mike Kittrell) 

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The sister of the 62-year-old ex-convict at the center of the murder of two firefighters early Monday in Webster, N.Y. remains unnacounted for, the Associated Press reports

William Spengler, who spent more than 17 years in prison for the 1980 murder of his 92-year-old grandmother, allegedly set fire to a car and a house in the Rochester, N.Y. suburb and then opened fire on the first responders. Two firefighters were killed on the scene and two more were hospitalized for wounds sustained by the gunshots. Spengler was found dead at the scene, the result of an apparent suicide. 

The fire engulfed seven houses, including the one Spengler shared with his 67-year-old sister, Cheryl Spengler. 

From the A.P.'s report:

Seven houses were destroyed in the blaze, Pickering said, and police have not been able to get inside the houses to determine if there are any more victims. They said Spengler's 67-year-old sister Cheryl Spengler was unaccounted for. He lived in the house with his sister and mother, Arline, who died in October.

The West Webster Fire District learned of the fire early Monday after a report of a car and house on fire on Lake Road, on a narrow peninsula where Irondequoit Bay meets Lake Ontario, Monroe County Sheriff Patrick O'Flynn said.

The fire appeared from a distance as a pulsating ball of flame glowing against the early morning sky, flames licking into treetops and reflecting on the water, with huge bursts of smoke billowing away in a brisk wind.


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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) on Monday released a statement after two firefighters in Webster, N.Y. were killed by a gunman in an apparent ambush at the scene of a house fire. Two other firefighters were shot and are being treated for injuries. The suspected gunman, identified by local police as 62-year-old William Spengler, was found dead at the scene.

The statement:

“State Police and our State Office of Emergency Management are working in conjunction with local law enforcement to respond to the scene of the horrific shooting that occurred early this morning in Webster as firefighters and police responded to a car fire.

“All of our thoughts and prayers go to the families and friends of those who were killed in this senseless act of violence.

“New York's first responders are true heroes as they time and again selflessly rush toward danger in order to keep our families and communities safe. Volunteer firefighters and police officers were injured and two were taken from us as they once again answered the call of duty. We as the community of New York mourn their loss as now two more families must spend the holidays without their loved ones.

 “On behalf of my family and all New Yorkers, I offer my deepest condolences to the families and friends of those killed today and pray for the recovery of the injured.”



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The following audio, courtesy of the website PhillyFireNews.com, captures the exchange between an emergency dispatcher and a firefighter who was shot during Monday morning's shooting at the scene of a house fire in Webster, N.Y.

Two firefighters were killed and two others were wounded after the gunman ambushed the responders upon their arrival on the scene. The gunman was later found dead. 



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The Associated Press reports:

A U.S. drone airstrike killed two al-Qaida militants Monday in a southern town, Yemeni security officials said, the latest in a years long U.S. offensive against the branch the U.S. considers the violent extremists' most dangerous.

One of the dead was a midlevel al-Qaida Yemeni operative who escaped a U.S. drone attack 10 years ago, the officials said. The other was said to be a Jordanian.

They said the airstrike on Radda in Bayda province also critically injured three militants.


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