Catherine Thompson

Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at

Articles by Catherine

Television programs broadcast on Russia's two largest federal channels and "almost certainly produced under Kremlin orders" have made Edward Snowden into a hero for the Russian people, the New York Times reported Saturday.

The programs, which aired Thursday, compared the source of the National Security Agency leaks to famous dissidents and spies such as Julius and Ethel Rosenburg, according to the Times. One program described Snowden as "a soldier of the information war, who fights, of course, on the side of Russia, or maybe the side of China."

Igor M. Bunin, the director of the Center for Political Technologies in Moscow, told the Times that Russia turning Snowden over to the U.S. government would be "a slap in the face of public opinion because he is already a hero in Russia and part of the West." He added that not turning Snowden in, however, would "destroy" Russia's diplomatic relations with America.

Snowden has remained out of sight in the transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport since he landed there last Sunday.

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President Barack Obama met Saturday with members of former South African President Nelson Mandela's family in Johannesburg, and spoke by phone with Mandela's wife, Graca Machel, who remained at the critically ill leader's bedside in a Pretoria hospital.

"I expressed my hope that Madiba draws peace and comfort from the time that he is spending with loved ones, and also expressed my heartfelt support for the entire family as they work through this difficult time," Obama said in a statement. "I also reaffirmed the profound impact that his legacy has had in building a free South Africa, and in inspiring people around the world - including me."

"Madiba and his family remain in our thoughts and prayers," he added.

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A 5-year-old girl was killed and an adult wounded after an assault rifle went off in a Grant's Pass, Ore. apartment late Thursday, according to local media reports. 

The Josephine County District Attorney's office on Friday accused Jon Andrew Meyer Jr., 30, of "recklessly" causing the death of the 5-year-old and causing "serious physical injury" to a 44-year-old woman, according to the Grant's Pass Daily Courier

Police told the Associated Press that Meyer fired an assault rifle from a downstairs room of the apartment, while the victims were upstairs in the same apartment. A neighbor, Pia D'Ambrosio, told the Daily Courier that Meyer told police the gun "fell down and went off."

Meyer will face a grand jury on charges of manslaughter, assault, and unlawful possession of a machine gun, according to the Daily Courier.

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) said Friday that he is a "conservative Republican" governor that will not be the "same kind of leader" for the state that President Barack Obama is for the country, according to the Newark Star-Ledger.

Christie, who is seeking reelection this fall, took a hard line on his sometime arcade-game pal Obama, whom he once praised for his leadership during Hurricane Sandy.

“I know when you look at Washington right now, you shake your head at a president who can’t figure out how to lead, at a Congress that only 11 percent of the people in the last poll I saw approve of the job they’re doing,” Christie said at a town hall meeting. "That’s what happens when you have someone in the executive office who is more concerned about being right than he is concerned about getting things done."

Christie further strenghtened his GOP bona fides Thursday when he criticized the Supreme Court's ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as a "bad decision."

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A federal judge on Friday struck down a Michigan law that barred same-sex domestic partners of public employees from receiving benefits, reported

Five same-sex couples represented by the ACLU of Michigan filed a complaint against Gov. Rick Snyder (R) and the state in 2011, claiming that their equal protection rights and due process were violated by the law. Public Act 297 prohibits public employers, such as cities and counties, from extending benefits to same-sex domestic partners.  

U.S. District Judge David S. Lawson determined Friday, just days after the Supreme Court ruled the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional, that the law did indeed violate the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Lawson granted an injunction against enforcement of the act until a final ruling is made on the law's constitutionality.

"This law served no purpose to the state of Michigan other than to needlessly discriminate against hard-working families," Kary L. Moss, the executive director of the ACLU of Michigan, said in a press release. "It's hard to encourage talented people and their families to work for public employers in Michigan when they're denied the ability to take care of each other."

Under the injunction, public employers are not required to offer benefits to same-sex domestic partners.

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An inspector general's report released Thursday found that the U.S. Park Police (USPP) lost track of hundreds of firearms in its possession, revealing "a theme of inaction and indifference by USPP leadership and a lackadaisical attitude toward firearms management."

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) performed unannounced inspections on several weapons storage areas, revealing that "hundreds of handguns, rifles, and shotguns were not listed on official USPP inventory records." In April 2013 alone, the report said, an inspection uncovered two automatic rifles that the USPP did not know it had in its possession.

The report said that such an incomplete weapons inventory could "allow for the possibility that weapons that cannot be located and may not be in safe keeping," and among its recommendations the OIG urged the USPP to conduct a complete inventory and reduce the USPP's firearms inventory to the minimum needed to arm its force.

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Federal prosecutors asked for permission Friday to seize the homes of former Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL) and his wife, former Chicago Ald. Sandi Jackson, in addition to an IRA of Jackson's with an almost $80,000 balance, the Chicago Tribune reported.

According to the Tribune, prosecutors asked a judge in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to let them seize the Jacksons' homes in both Chicago and Washington, D.C.'s DuPont Circle. 

Prosecutors also pointed out that Jackson had returned only 12 out of 24 items worth a total of $61,910, including furs and celebrity memorabilia, that he agreed to forfeit because they were purchased with campaign funds.

Jackson Jr. pleaded guilty in February to misuing hundreds of thousands of dollars from his campaign accounts, while his wife pleaded guilty to filing false tax returns. The couple is scheduled to face sentencing next Wednesday.

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House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) said Thursday evening that he plans to discuss reforming the Voting Rights Act (VRA) with civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), according to Yahoo! News.

Lewis called the Supreme Court's gutting of a key provision of the VRA a "dagger in the heart" of the legislation. As a result, Congress must now rework the law that established a formula determining which counties with a history of racial discrimination needed federal pre-clearance for changes to their own voting laws. 

"I look forward to having some discussions," Cantor said in an interview with Yahoo! News. "I intend to talk to John Lewis about his thoughts on this matter. I think that you could probably say for both sides of the political aisle--no matter where you come from regionally--that very sacred right to vote is in the underpinning of this country."

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An openly gay state representative was silenced by his colleagues on the Pennsylvania House floor Thursday when he tried to comment on the Supreme Court's ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

State Rep. Brian Sims' (D) remarks during a part of the House session where representatives are allowed to speak openly were cut off almost immediately by a procedural maneuver. State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R) objected to the remarks on the grounds that Sims was speaking out "against God's law."

"I did not believe that as a member of that body that I should allow someone to make comments such as he was preparing to make that ultimately were just open rebellion against what the word of God has said, what God has said, and just open rebellion against God's law," Metcalfe said, as quoted by WHYY-FM.

Sims told WHYY that Republicans approached him after the session to apologize.

Correction: This post incorrectly referred to Sims as a state senator. He is a state representative. It also incorrectly said he was censured. In fact, he was blocked from speaking by use of procedural maneuver.

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Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will receive the 2013 Liberty Medal this fall from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), who many speculate could be a hypothetical 2016 presidential challenger to the former first lady.

Clinton will be honored "in recognition of her lifelong career in public service and her ongoing advocacy efforts on behalf of women and girls around the globe," according to the National Constitution Center's website.

Bush will present the award to Clinton at the N.C.C. in Philadelphia during a ceremony on Sept. 10.

“Former Secretary Clinton has dedicated her life to serving and engaging people across the world in democracy,” said Bush, who serves as the center's chairman, in a press release. “These efforts as a citizen, an activist, and a leader have earned Secretary Clinton this year’s Liberty Medal.”

Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton, is a past recipient of the award.

This post has been updated.

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