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 money raised by the website Gawker to purchase a video that allegedly showed Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine has been split between four drug-related charities based in Canada, the Toronto Star reported Thursday.

In May, Gawker raised $201,254 from 8,388 donors in just eleven days to pay for the video, but less than a month later its owner announced the footage was "gone." The man who showed reporters the alleged video was jailed shortly after, according to the Toronto Star. 

After $16,416 in processing fees, Gawker donated $46,000 to each of the four charities, the Star reported.

The Somali-Canadian Association of Etobicoke will put their check towards a new program to help keep Somali youth out of Toronto gangs, and the other three charities (South Riverdale Community Health Centre, Unison Health and Community Services and the Ontario Regional Addictions Partnership Committee) plan to spend the money on various substance abuse initiatives, according to the Star. 

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California biologists found four new species of legless lizards in remote corners of the state, including at the end of a runway at LAX, as described in a paper published Monday in the journal Breviora.

“These are animals that have existed in the San Joaquin Valley, separate from any other species, for millions of years, completely unknown,” said James Parham of California State University, Fullerton, who discovered the lizards with Theodore Papenfuss, a reptile and amphibian expert with UC Berkeley’s Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, according to a UC Berkley press release.

The new lizards were all found in fringe habitats with sandy soil, including an LAX runway, a vacant lot in downtown Bakersfield, on the margins of the Mojave desert, and among oil derricks in the lower San Joaquin Valley, according to the release. 

Despite looking exceedingly similar, the legless lizard and the snake don't share a common ancestry, according to a fossil found in Germany in 2011. Until then, the more than 200 legless lizard species were thought to be closely related to the snake, but the fossil determined the two took very separate evolutionary paths to arrive at their serpentine form, the Scientific American reported. 

Lizards on five continents lost their limbs millions of years ago to improve burrowing ability, according to the Berkley release, and some still have vestigal legs.

Photo: The Bakersfield legless lizard, (Anniella grinnelli), which today ranges from downtown Bakersfield in the southern San Joaquin Valley to the Carrizo Plain National Monument 30 miles to the west. The species has a purple belly and yellow sides. Photo by Alex Krohn.

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The North Dakota town of Leith, population 24, has established a legal defense fund to resist being taken over by white supremacists, the Bismark Tribune reported Thursday.

Craig Cobb, 61, purchased a dozen plots of land in Leith (pronounced 'Leeth') and plans to turn it into a colony for white supremacists, the Bismark Tribune reported last month. He has already sold or transferred ownership of some plots to people who share his white nationalist beliefs, and advertised the town as a place where “responsible hard core” white nationalists can fly “racialist” banners, the New York Times reported.

Now, the leader of the largest white supremacist group in the country, the National Socialist Movement's Jeff Schoep, plans to visit the town this weekend, according to the Tribune. 

Cobb has threatened lawsuits “in order to bleed us dry," Leith City Council member Lee Cook told the Tribune, and county officials have not come to the town's defense. Money given to the Leith Legal Defense Fund will go toward town attorney fees to fight Cobb's takeover.

“We need people from across the state to come alongside of us and show support that they don’t believe in what this guy is doing,” Cook said. “There are a lot of people who could speak up. It’s not tricky. Silence, to me, means that whatever he’s doing is OK."

The website leithnd.com was set up this week that plans to provide updates about the town's struggle against Cobb.

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ROUND ROCK, Texas (AP) -- Dell shareholders have approved a $24.8 billion offer from its founder to buy the company and take it private, ending the struggling computer maker's quarter-century history as a publicly held company.

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President Barack Obama is expected to address the nation about a possible military response to Syria's reported use of chemical weapons at 9:00 p.m. E.T. Tuesday. Watch it live here, courtesy of NBC News: 

While visiting a refugee center in Rome on Tuesday, Pope Francis singled out a Syrian family and listened to their story, Time reported.

The Pope also talked with a Sudanese man while at the Astalli refugee center, which is run by Francis’ own Jesuit order and which tended to 21 thousand refugee last year, according to Time. 

The visit came after a Vatican peace vigil lead Saturday by Pope Francis against military action in Syria. Pope Francis also sent a letter to world leaders at the G-20 summit in Russia last week, which urged them to abandon the “futile pursuit” of a military solution in Syria.

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