This Pastor in Niger Has a Stunning (and Beautiful) Response to Having His Home and Church Destroyed
In case you missed it, Muslim protesters, angry about the Charlie Hebdo cartoons, have destroyed more than 70 churches, killing at least ten people since January 16th. The protesters, angry over depictions of the Prophet Mohammed, have attacked not only Christian churches, but also Christian homes and schools — and even an orphanage. Various sources reported that there was little protection offered to Christians by security forces in Niger, which made them an easy target. Christians whose homes were destroyed fled with just the clothes on their backs.
But in the midst of the heartbreak and destruction — and the attempt to annihilate the tiny Christian church in the 98% Muslim country of Niger — one pastor has a message of hope and even expressed his gratitude for what the church has experienced.
“They burned our church, they burned my house, only we emerged safely and we glorify God for that,” he said. “All that I can say is this: may the name of the Lord be glorified right now in Niger.”
Instead of complaining about the suffering, the pastor took to heart the Apostle Paul’s instructions to rejoice in it. “So it is a glory and a joy that they burned our church,” he said. “We are moving forward and this is the time for the harvest. Many souls will come to Christ in Niger. I believe that!”
In other words, the pastor knows that God’s ways are higher than man’s ways. Just as Joseph said to his brothers who sold him into slavery in Egypt, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good,” the pastor in Niger knows that history has demonstrated over and over and over again that the Christian church grows — often exponentially — during times of persecution. So instead of looking at the immediate circumstances and the temporary suffering, he is able to find hope, believing that God will ultimately triumph over evil.
”Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” 1 Peter 4:12-14
Here are some heartbreaking social media posts — and a few very hopeful ones as well!
There are 7 police trucks guarding the outside of our church in Maradi, For 2 days the youth of the church are inside literally holding up the walls of the compound, The grounds of the church are covered with rocks and debris at the many attempts from the mob to enter, Over 30 churches have been burned in the capital Niamey (where we currently are), Pastors and church members are now displaced with nothing more then the clothes on their back, As we stand in a burned down church this morning, We know that He makes all things new, We know that the church will rise through persecution, The events of the past few days are the evidence of Gods Kingdom invading Niger, This is not simply a response to something that happened in France, It is not a political demonstration against the current President of Niger, It is the devil trying to burn down what God has built, But, like Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego – God is with us in the fire, He is with us in every fire of life and is faithful to complete the great work He has started. Be apart by praying and giving at runintl.org
— Brad Thor (@BradThor) January 17, 2015
— Dominic Sputo (@DominicPRC) January 21, 2015
— CitizenGO (@CitizenGO) January 21, 2015
Anti-Charlie Hebdo protesters burned down 45 churches, killing 10 people in Niger http://t.co/UBsSRPLPUI
— Reddit World News (@WNews_Reddit) January 20, 2015
— Franklin Graham (@Franklin_Graham) January 28, 2015
President Obama, speaking to an audience of mostly young people celebrating India’s Republic Day in New Delhi on Tuesday, told the crowd, “I realise that the sight of an American president as your chief guest on Republic Day would have once seemed unimaginable. But my visit reflects the possibilities of a new moment.” He pointed out that he was the first American president to participate in the country’s Republic Day and boasted, “And I’m the first American president to come to your country twice!”
The president went on to refer to himself an astonishing 118 times in the short 33-minute speech, touching on injustices in the United States and in his own personal life.
Obama told the enthusiastic crowd that he and Michelle have been strengthened by their Christian faith. “But there have been times where my faith has been questioned — by people who don’t know me — or they’ve said that I adhere to a different religion, as if that were somehow a bad thing,” Obama said.
He added that “too often religion has been used to tap into those darker impulses as opposed to the light of God.” He cited as an example the attack three years ago on a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. The American president, who is suing Catholic nuns to force them to comply with Obamacare’s birth control mandate, told the crowd of Indian young people that “every person has the right to practice their faith how they choose, or to practice no faith at all, and to do so free of persecution and fear and discrimination.”
Obama also talked about inequality in both India and America, as if the two countries are indistinguishable — as if poverty in the U.S. is in any way comparable to poverty in India.
“Sisters and brothers of India,” Obama said, “we are not perfect countries. And we’ve known tragedy and we’ve known triumph. We’re home to glittering skyscrapers, but also terrible poverty; and new wealth, but also rising inequality. We have many challenges in front of us.”
Bloomberg noted that Obama didn’t actually see much of India’s poverty during his trip:
Obama stayed insulated from the poor in a country where three of five people live on less than $2 per day, zipping by pockets of slums where residents used corrugated metal and tarps as building materials.
India accounts for about 60 percent of the world’s residents without toilets, according to a report released in May by the World Health Organization and Unicef. The country’s 50 percent open-defecation rate compares with 23 percent in Pakistan, 3 percent in Bangladesh and 1 percent in China, the report said.
Nevertheless, Obama went on to lecture the poverty-stricken country about the perils of climate change, warning that the seas were rising and the Himalayan glaciers are melting. “Few countries will be more affected by a warmer planet than India,” Obama warned.
In case any of the young people in the crowd were tempted to curb their global emissions just to please Obama, the president noted, “I’ll be gone when the worst effects happen. It’s your generation and your children that are going to be impacted. That’s why it’s urgent that we begin this work right now.”
And, of course, no Obama speech is complete until the president has tossed out the race card.
The putative leader of the free world complained, “Even as America has blessed us with extraordinary opportunities, there were moments in my life where I’ve been treated differently because of the color of my skin.”
I’m sure the Dalits – traditionally regarded as untouchable and only fit to remove rubbish and human waste in the Indian caste system — can totally relate.
The topic of Bill O’Reilly’s Fox News Talking Points Memo on Friday was “How the Internet is Deceiving You.” Using an attack on the film American Sniper by Vox’s Amanda Taub as an example, O’Reilly said, “The far left is going nuts launching hateful attacks on the film and on Mr. Kyle and most of the libel is found on the net.”
O’Reilly said that Taub may even be a terrorist sympathizer, citing an article she wrote trying to explain the actions of the terrorists who blew up a school in Pakistan.
“Here we have Taub providing the rationale for the slaughtering of innocent school children,” O’Reilly said. “Does it get much worse?”
He complained that her article about American Sniper was posted “on a number of sites including Yahoo.”
“But those providers did not tell you, the reader, who Amanda Taub is, or the quality of the organization for whom she works. They just post her disgusting stuff without any context,” O’Reilly continued.
“The chief danger here is not from a propagandist here like Amanda Taub. It’s the entire internet climate,” he said. “Americans are often presented with information that’s false, libelous, and distorted in the extreme. There are no journalistic standards on the net. Few websites even have editors looking at it. They just post this stuff and walk away.”
It’s a fair-enough criticism. Anyone can create a blog or put up a website that has the look and feel of a legitimate news site. Fact-checking is sometimes an afterthought.
O’Reilly thinks this free flow of information (and misinformation) poses a great danger to our republic:
“Unfortunately, many Americans believe what they read and therefore there is a danger to the republic,” he said. “If you know anything about history you know that dictators, both on the left and on the right, first control the press. The Nazis and the communists put out a steady stream of garbage brainwashing their population. To some extent, that is happening now in free societies with the elevation of the net. And it’s flat-out dangerous.”
Has Bill O’Reilly been to N. Korea lately? Or to China (that allegedly burgeoning bastion of capitalism and freedom)? A friend recently returned from a business trip to China and said both Facebook and Google were blocked there. He had to use Microsoft Outlook to send and receive email. “That pesky free exchange of ideas thing,” he said sarcastically.
Nomiki Konst, a political strategist and former Huffington Post blogger, joined Bill O’Reilly after his Talking Points Memo and reminded him that the Nazis had very limited vehicles with which to release their propaganda. Today, she said, there are “literally millions of ways to communicate different messages to different echo chambers.”
She asked him if he wanted to regulate the internet.
O’Reilly, who clearly doesn’t understand how the interwebs and news aggregator sites work, said he doesn’t want to regulate small sites like Vox but said, “When it gets over into the big ones like Google and Yahoo and all of these things and they just post it with no context, that’s propaganda, it’s wrong, and it’s happening all over the place. ”
O’Reilly said he thinks readers ought to know what a writer’s “worldview” is and that it should be clear where writers are coming from.
“If you write an op-ed in a newspaper, it tells at the bottom who you are and what agency you’re coming from. It doesn’t do it on the net.”
Well, except for that whole charade of the unsigned newspaper editorials that we are led to believe are right-down-the-middle pieces, written by trained journalists who have no biases whatsoever. And if we were to use O’Reilly’s truth-in-journalism standards, a large percentage of op-eds over the last 50 years should have been carrying labels that read: WARNING: LIBERAL BIAS. Also, where were the warnings about the danger to our republic when the “Big 3″ networks had far-left “real journalists” like Dan Rather feeding Americans their news on a nightly basis?
Konti told O’Reilly that the best way to rebut opinions that he didn’t like was by having more opinions. “We’re in a free society where we have freedom of speech and you just rebutted hers. That’s the best way to do it.”
In a later segment of the show, O’Reilly discussed the problem with Geraldo Rivera and they both worried about the proliferation of opinions floating around the internet without the guiding hand of “trained journalists.” It’s clear that O’Reilly is nostalgic for the days when just a handful of powerful individuals controlled the media and the flow of information.
The democratization of information is at once powerful and terrifying and liberating, but the technology can’t be undone — the information revolution is here to stay. More speech (and more excellent speech) is what is needed, not regulation.
A reporter from CNSNews asked Rep. Nancy Pelosi to weigh in on whether she thinks an unborn child at 20 weeks gestation is a human being.
The House minority leader’s silence on the issue was deafening.
It’s not as if Pelosi had nothing to say — she unleashed a two-minute diatribe upon the offending reporter — it’s just that she completely avoided answering the question that was actually asked.
“Is an unborn child 20 weeks into pregnancy a human being?” the CNSNews reporter asked Pelosi during a press briefing on Thursday.
“You know what, what we’re talking about on the floor of the House is something that says politicians should determine what effects the health of a woman, her life, her health, and the rest,” Pelosi said. ”I don’t think it’s up to politicians to do that. And that’s why we are very overwhelmingly opposing what is going on on the floor of the House.”
Pelosi made it clear that she opposes the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would prohibit aborting babies at 20 weeks gestation and beyond.
Undeterred, the CNSNews reporter tried again to get a straight answer from Pelosi. ”My question is pretty simple,” the reporter asked. “On the abortion issue, I understand your position on the legislation, but even the legislation aside, when it comes to the matter of whether or not an unborn child is a human being at 20 weeks gestation, what is your personal take on it. If it is not a human being, then what do you believe it is?”
It’s not a complicated question. In what category does Pelosi put that kicking, wriggling little “thing” inside a mother’s womb — the little “thing” that science tells us at 20 weeks has hair on the head, eyelashes and eyebrows, fingernails, and functioning kidneys? Is that 10 1/2 ounce “thing” that has its own unique DNA and fingerprints a human, a vegetable, an alien, or something else?
Ms. Pelosi refused to answer the question directly, but she made it clear that it’s only the women of reproductive age (is it because they can vote Democrat?) that she cares about.
“You know it is really interesting that you would come to these meetings to talk about it,” Pelosi scolded the reporter. “The fact is is what we have said: The life and the health of the mother is what is preeminent in when a decision is made about a woman’s reproductive health. It isn’t an ideological fight, it is a personal health issue,” she said.
Anyone who has followed the abortion debate for more than five minutes knows that pro-abortion advocates have fought tooth and nail to make sure the phrase “health of the mother” includes emotional health, which can be broadly interpreted to include just about anything, including the emotional stress of pregnancy.
Pelosi went on to say she has “great standing on the issue” because she’s is a mother of five, as if that gives her some sort of moral authority to impose a death sentence on nearly a million babies in the U.S. every year.
“So, in any event, this is up to women, their conscience, their God, their doctor, their health, their fate, their survival. And that is what the decision should be. Decisions about women’s reproductive health should not be made by politicians in Washington, D.C., but should honor the decisions that have been made by the Supreme Court, a decision made by the Supreme Court, recognizing the right of women to have that choice,” Pelosi said.
But a 20-week gestation female with fallopian tubes and a uterus — a tiny individual created in the image of God, who sucks her thumb and can hear her mommy’s voice — doesn’t get a choice. Nancy Pelosi doesn’t care about her “fate” or her “survival” because, whether she’s willing to admit this ugly truth or not, “politicians in Washington, D.C.” — including Pelosi — have decided that this tiny girl is not human and she has no rights.
Or, there’s an even more ghastly possibility. Pelosi and others who support abortion on demand know full well that what’s in a mother’s womb is human and they’ve simply decided to turn a blind eye to the holocaust the Supreme Court unleashed on the United States with their 1973 Roe v. Wade decision in the name of “reproductive rights.”
They ought to just say which it is and dispense with the doublespeak.
On Wednesday Jia Lee, a teacher at The Earth School in New York City, testified at a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee about reforming the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. Lee, a fifth grade special education teacher, told the committee, chaired by Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), that over 50% of the parents at The Earth School refused to allow their children to take the Common Core aligned English/Language Arts and Math tests and said her school was not alone.
“Last year,” Lee told the senators, ”I decided that I am obligated and accountable to my students and families, and that is why, as a conscientious objector, I will not administer tests that reduce my students to a single metric and will continue to take this position until the role of standardized assessments are put in their proper place.”
“We just celebrated the life of Martin Luther King Jr.” Lee continued. ”In his Letter From a Birmingham Jail, King affirms that ‘one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.’ He quotes St. Augustine who said ‘an unjust law is no law at all.’ So long as education policy continues to be shaped by the interests of corporate profiteering and not the interests of our public school children, we will resist these unjust testing laws.”
She said that parents who complain about high-stakes testing have been accused of “coddling.” She challenged that assumption, saying that the focus on testing has taken time and resources away from the arts, social studies, and physical education.
Instead of focusing on testing, Lee said, classrooms should emphasize “the importance of fostering learning environments that value a culture of trust, diversity, and teacher autonomy.”
Lee joins other teachers in New York City who object to “market-based education reform” and are refusing to administer high stakes tests as an “act of conscience.” There is also a growing opt-out movement throughout the country that encourages parents to refuse to allow their children to take Common Core and other high stakes tests. Parents and teachers object to the testing for a wide variety of reasons. Nearly everyone thinks too much classroom time is devoted to testing and test preparation. And while parents are concerned about data collection related to the tests and the testing anxiety their children experience, teachers often object to having the tests tied to their performance evaluations as well as the corporate influence in test development and in the adoption of the Common Core standards.
You can read Lee’s written testimony here.
Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) gave the opening remarks during today’s Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee meeting, calling for bipartisan reform of No Child Left Behind (NCLB).
Alexander said that reform of NCLB, which was signed into law by President Bush in 2002, “is more than seven years overdue.”
“We’ve been working on it for more than 6 years,” Alexander said. “When we started, former Rep. George Miller [an original sponsor of NCLB] said, ‘Pass a lean bill to fix No Child Left Behind,’ and we identified a small number of problems.” Since then, Alexander said, “We’ve had 24 hearings, and in each of the last two Congresses we’ve reported bills out of committee.”
Six years! Congress has been unable — in six years — to reform a bad law that took a mere 350 days (or if you prefer, 8400 hours) to pass. No Child Left Behind was initially proposed by President George W. Bush on January 23, 2001, and coauthored by Representatives John Boehner (R-OH), George Miller (D-CA), and Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Judd Gregg (R-NH). The House passed the bill on May 23, 2001, and by June 14, 2001, it had won Senate approval. President Bush signed it into law on January 8, 2002.
Thirteen years later, Congress is still trying to repair the damage from the law that amounted to the largest federal intrusion into state education decisions in U.S. history. The problem is that lawmakers are trying to “fix” something that shouldn’t exist in the first place.
Alexander said in his opening remarks, “I understand that there can be short-term gains from Washington’s orders– but my experience is that long-term success can’t come that way. In fact, today Washington’s involvement, in effect mandating Common Core and teacher evaluation, is creating a backlash, making it harder for states to set higher standards and evaluate teaching.”
True enough, but Sen. Alexander’s proposed solutions will do little more than tinker around the edges of the massive federal law. The options he is proposing will either “give flexibility to the states to decide what to do on testing” or “maintain current law testing requirements.” Both options would continue to require annual reporting of student achievement to the federal government, continuing the carrot and stick approach to the federal government’s education funding scheme for the states.
Perhaps in another six years someone will suggest returning public education completely to its proper place — back to state and local control.
But perhaps that is wishful thinking, seeing how broken (and tone deaf) Washington is and how incapable and unwilling our lawmakers are of repealing an overbearing federal law once it becomes embedded in the government behemoth.
Megyn Kelly asked Sen. Ted Cruz if he thinks President Obama was setting the stage for the next presidential candidate.
“Oh, I think he was trying to and he hopes that the next candidate engages in the same far-left policies. This is a man of the left,” Cruz said.
“You know, it reminds me of the classic Saturday Night Live skit with Christopher Walken, where there’s a band playing and his solution to every problem is ‘More cowbell! More cowbell!’” Cruz said. “For President Obama ‘More cowbell’ is ‘More taxes! More government!More taxes! More government!’”
Kelly laughed and said, “The audience knows!” She said the focus group in the studio “is familiar with the skit.” The camera cut to the laughing audience.
“It’s the same failed policies that don’t work and we ought to come together. Economic growth is a bipartisan objective and I think Congress needs to lead,” Cruz continued.
Cruz also drew on the populist theme that the 1% are benefitting the most in the current economy. Refuting the president’s claim that all Americans are benefitting from Obama’s so-called “middle class economics,” Cruz said, “We are facing a divided America when it comes to the economy. It is true that the top one percent are doing great under Barack Obama.”
But he said, “The sad reality is with big government under the Obama administration the rich and powerful — those who walk the corridors of power in the Obama administration — have gotten fat and happy.” He noted that we have the lowest labor force participation rate since 1978.
“The reason the unemployment rate is falling is because millions of people keep dropping out of the workforce altogether so they’re not counted in that number,” Cruz said. He added that the wage stagnation over the last decade has made life difficult for working families. “We need to be fighting for the working men and women, not those with power in Washington,” said Cruz.
Congressional correspondent Luke Russert said on MSNBC Tuesday that freshman Sen. Joni Ernst was a pig farmer this time last year and marveled that she is now she is giving the rebuttal to the president’s State of the Union address. “That is an extraordinary rise in politics right there,” Russert told Joy Ann Reid.
Russert said that Ernst is emblematic of what the GOP wants to be. “That is what you’ll see her do tonight, sell her personality as a war veteran and somebody who was a pig farmer around this time last year and now giving the rebuttal to the president.”
In a campaign ad last year Ernst said that she “grew up” castrating pigs on an Iowa farm. In addition to being the freshman senator from Iowa, Ernst serves as a lieutenant colonel in the Army National Guard, commanding the 185th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion at Camp Dodge, and has 21 years of military service under her belt. This time last year she was a member of the Iowa state Senate, where she had served since 2011. Prior to that she was a two-term county auditor.
Russert said that the selection of Ernst has a lot more to do with personality than with policy. “One thing Mitch McConnell said around the Christmas holiday, he doesn’t want Republicans to be made out to be the bad guys in the room. He is working hard to change the face of how they are being interpreted by Americans. The selection of Ernst is his attempt to do that. I expect it to be about personality and Republican themes and not specifics to the president’s speech.”
Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on Thursday that the White House was not told ahead of time about Acting Secret Service Director Joe Clancy’s decision to remove four assistant directors from their positions at the agency on Tuesday. The Washington Post first reported the shake-up at the Secret Service after receiving a statement from Clancy.
Earnest said during Thursday’s White House press conference, “This is a decision that was made by the Acting Director of the Secret Service, Joe Clancy. The White House was not informed in advance.” He said that the White House was aware of the director’s efforts to reform the agency and the changes that were announced are consistent with the findings of a DHS panel’s review of the Secret Service.
“So the White House, the West Wing, and even the president is certainly very supportive of Mr. Clancy’s efforts to reform the agency, consistent with the goal of trying to strengthen the ability of that agency to perform the very important work that they do on a daily basis,” Earnest said, adding that the president would be supportive of Director Clancy taking additional steps to reform the agency.
Clancy informed the four assistant directors, who oversee protection, investigations, technology, and public affairs at the Secret Service, on Tuesday that they must leave their leadership positions.
“Change is necessary to gain a fresh perspective on how we conduct business,” Clancy said in a statement to The Washington Post. “I am certain any of our senior executives will be productive and valued assets either in other positions at the Secret Service or the department.”
A DHS-appointed panel concluded last month that the agency is suffering from low morale among the rank-and-file and is “starved for leadership.”Clancy cited the panel’s report and said he also based his decision this week on his own assessment of the agency.
Shannon Bream, filling in for Megyn Kelly on The Kelly File, asked Florida Senator Marco Rubio about his views on the Common Core standards on Tuesday.
Rubio said he supports curriculum reform. “I think we need to have the best curriculum possible. He added that his state passed standards and improved curriculum when he was speaker of the Florida House.
“My concern — not just with Common Core, it’s in general — is that we all of a sudden create some sort of standard that the federal government uses as a requirement to impose on the states,” Rubio said.
Rubio said that it’s one thing for the federal government to incentivize states and another thing to say “if you don’t do things a certain way we’re going to penalize you by cutting funding.”
“And while that’s not what they’re doing today, that’s where the federal government always winds up,” Rubio said. “So I’m very concerned, as many Americans are, that something like Common Core could be used by the federal Department of Education to one day impose restrictions on schools when in fact, education is primarily, at the K-12 level, a state and local responsibility.”
Rubio is absolutely correct that more control over education is “where the federal government always winds up.” But it’s not just the penalties we need to worry about. The incentives have the same coercive effect because their whole purpose is to direct and control the behavior of those they reward.
At a meeting with congressional leaders on Tuesday, President Obama congratulated The Ohio State University football team for winning Monday’s game against the Oregon Ducks. The underdog Buckeyes beat Oregon 42-20 to take the title of the first College Football Playoff National Championship.
Obama, who was seated next to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) in the meeting, said, ”To the speaker, I just want to point out I said there are going to be some things that we agree on.”
He then reminded everyone that the national championship was basically his idea. ”Having a college football playoff is clearly something that we can agree on. I called for it when I came into office.”
In a 2008 “60 Minutes” interview with Steve Kroft, then President-elect Obama laid out some of his priorities, including his ideas for a change in the way college football is organized. “If you’ve got a bunch of teams who play throughout the season, and many of them have one loss or two losses, there’s no clear decisive winner. We should be creating a playoff system,” Obama told Kroft.
“I don’t know any serious fan of college football who has disagreed with me on this,” Obama said in the 2008 interview. “So, I’m going to throw my weight around a little bit. I think it’s the right thing to do.”
During his meeting with congressional leaders Tuesday, President Obama also congratulated the Oregon Ducks on their fine season and made a point to note that Oregon’s Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Marcus Mariota is from his home state of Hawaii.
“So I want to congratulate the Ohio State Buckeyes for their outstanding victory and commend Oregon as well for fielding a great team because their quarterback is from my original home state of Hawaii.”
One woman has died and two people are in critical condition after a tunnel on the Yellow Line of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) filled with smoke on Monday afternoon, trapping riders on a pitch black train for 40 minutes until help could arrive. More than eighty passengers were transported to area hospitals for treatment of their injuries related to the incident.
The NTSB said on Monday night that the suspected cause of the smoke was an “electrical arcing event” that occurred approximately 1,100 feet in front of the train, causing it to come to a sudden stop shortly after pulling out of the L’Enfant Plaza station. L’Enfant Plaza was evacuated while authorities investigated the cause of the smoke.
Metro rider Jonathan Rogers posted pictures and video (including the raw footage above) of the terrifying ride on Twitter.
That was easily the worst metro ride of my life pic.twitter.com/a5EnGeRzMQ
— Jonathan Rogers (@JRogers202) January 12, 2015
Rogers told the Washington Post, “You could see smoke coming through the doors. It started to get scary pretty quick.”
In the grainy video from the darkened train riders can be heard coughing as the Metro operator urges them to remain calm, instructing them not to open the doors. “If you open the doors the train will not move,” the operator said.
“People started praying,” [Rogers] said. “Smoke was coming in pretty steadily. Some people were fine and some people were just hurting pretty quickly.”
He said a man standing next to him, started having breathing problems and sank to the floor.
Passengers watched out for each other, sharing inhalers with those who were having trouble breathing, he said. After a few more minutes, another woman standing near him said she couldn’t breathe and then passed out. Rogers and other passengers took turns giving her CPR.
“We just kept doing (CPR), maybe 25 minutes . . . we just kept going. Somebody helped carry her toward the back of the train – that was before the fire fighters arrived.”
Another rider, Adjoa Adofo, told the Washington Post, “People were panicking. We didn’t know what to do and and we weren’t getting a lot of information.”
Alec Dubois, a freshman at Gonzaga University, told WJLA, ”People were freaking out, going everywhere. The conductor was telling us to stay calm. He said he was trying to get our train back to the station.” Dubois added, “We had no cell service. I was trying to call my parents. And then there was black stuff everywhere, it was all over my pants, too. It was under our noses. We have no idea what it was.”
Eventually firefighters arrived and escorted passengers on foot back to the L’Enfant Metro station, about 800 feet away.
WMATA restored service to most lines by 8 p.m. Monday night, but service disruptions continue in some areas as the investigation continues.
More pictures on the next page:
MSNBC’s Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski asked Donald Trump if Mitt Romney is trying to steal Jeb Bush’s thunder by suggesting that he might consider another run for president.
“I would say the last thing we need is another Bush,” Trump said, adding that he knows “for a fact” that the two don’t like each other.
“As far as Romney is concerned, he had a great chance of winning and he blew it,” the real estate mogul said on Monday. “He’s like a dealmaker that couldn’t close the deal, so you just can’t give him another chance. It didn’t work. He got less votes than John McCain got years before and he was just unable to close the deal that should have easily been closed.”
“You know, it’s a little like a golfer — I’m at the Trump National Doral and we have the great championships here — and certain golfers cannot sink the 3-foot putt on the 18th hole,” Trump said.
Co-host Joe Scarborough asked Trump if he thought he would be able to “sink the 3-foot putt” if he ran for president.
Trump, who considered a run for the GOP nomination in 2012 said, “I think so. I think I could do a lot of things well if I got it. I would do a lot of things differently.”
He explained that he decided not to run in 2012 because of contractual obligation with his show, The Apprentice, but said the obligation no longer exists because the show “will be long gone by the time — in other words it will all be over in about five weeks, so after that the timing is good.”
Trump noted that in addition to the show, he has building projects all over the world, including a construction project on Pennsylvania Avenue. The Trump International Hotel is being built at the Old Post Office building in Washington, D.C.
“If you’re president of the United States you can check out your property on Pennsylvania Avenue,” Scarborough quipped.
“I don’t even have to move into the White House,” Trump said.
He said he would make his decision about whether to run for president over the next three months and will consider if other candidates are “all talk and no action. “The world is blowing up around us. Nobody knows what to do. There are problems that can be solved that these guys can’t solve.”
President Obama invites Americans to join him in some classic Orwellian doublethink as he asks them to accept two contradictory policy proposals that are supposed to coexist: students can have two “free” years of college if they “work” for it. Here’s how the president (sounding like a used car salesman) explained it from Air Force One on Friday:
Put simply, what I’d like to do is to see the first two years of community college free for everybody who is willing to work for it. That’s right, free for everybody that’s willing to work for it. It’s something that we can accomplish and it’s something that will train our workforce so that we can compete with anybody in the world.
Here’s the fine print of what they actually intend, via the L.A. Times:
Obama’s proposal would make two years of community college “as free as high school for responsible students,” Munoz told reporters, saving a full-time community college student an average of $3,800 in tuition per year. Obama also plans to propose a new fund to pay for high-quality technical training programs.
The program would cover half-time and full-time students who maintain a 2.5 grade point average — about a C-plus — and who “make steady progress toward completing a program,” the White House said.
In other words, these students won’t have to “work” for their education in the way that Americans have traditionally worked their way through college — by waiting tables or laboring at a summer landscaping job in order to scrape together tuition money. By “work,” the president means the students will merely need to maintain minimum academic standards. No lousy fast food job required.
Fox News anchor Shepard Smith went on an editorial rant against those rushing to judgment and suggesting that the terrorists who massacred twelve people at Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday might be — gasp — Muslims.
“To call the kind of religious extremists who do this sort of thing Muslims seems waaaay out there, anymore than the guy who blew up the federal building in Oklahoma might be considered a Christian,” Smith said on Wednesday.
The two-decade-old Tim McVeigh reference aside (McVeigh was a lapsed Catholic who said “Science is my god”), there is just no way any sentient being could conclude that the terrorists are not Muslims who are motivated by their religious beliefs as they understand them from the Koran.
According to witnesses, the attackers who stormed the Paris offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday shouted, “We have avenged the prophet!”
Were they avenging the Old Testament prophet Zechariah, who was stoned because he had denounced the people of Israel for their unfaithfulness? Or were they seeking revenge for Herod’s beheading of John the Baptist?
Clearly not, since the terrorists also shouted, “Allahu Akbar!” in tribute to the Muslim god of the Koran.
It’s not Catholic, it’s not Jewish, it’s not Mormon, it’s not 7th Day Adventist, it’s not Buddhist. No one in the intelligence community is running around Paris today looking in Baptist churches for these terrorists or checking their connections to the local Jehovah’s Witness community.
The terrorists are Muslim, by their own definition. Who is Shep Smith to define what Islam is for these jihadi terrorists, who self-identify as Muslims? Or who is President Obama, who has said the Islamic state is not Islamic, to tell anyone one else what the parameters of their religion must be?
This doesn’t mean that all, most, or even a high percentage of Muslims are terrorists. The vast majority are peaceful and nonviolent. But the fact remains that the vast majority of terrorists in this modern era are self-proclaimed Muslims. Pretending otherwise — and defining Islam through a narrow American lens — denies both history and reality.
Sen. Lindsey Graham told CNN’s Dana Bash on Wednesday that he would be “shocked” if the attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris was not at least inspired by ISIS.
Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, warned Bash, “People in your business need to be concerned. You’re soft targets and they hate the idea of being able to tell the story.”
“Are you saying that based on intelligence you’ve learned?” Bash asked.
Graham said the warning was “just based on common sense.” He said, “They’re moving away from military-style targets. They’re beginning to target soft targets.”
He said he thinks the U.S. terror threat level should be raised immediately because copycat threats are likely. “I am convinced there are people already in our homeland ready to do attacks like this.” He said the attack in Paris was an attack on our common values. “Even though it was an attack in France, it’s an attack on us. What these people were doing in France, we do every day.”
Graham also warned that budget cuts under sequestration are hurting U.S. ability to gather intelligence.
“The only way you find out about terror threats is to find out about these things before they happen. Between budget cuts on the intel defense side and the Obama administration policy of not detaining or interrogating the suspects anymore — reading them their rights — is leading to less intelligence,” he said. ”If Congress doesn’t relieve the budget pressure created by sequestration on the Intelligence Committee, our ability to detect attacks like this on our homeland are greatly reduced.”
SpaceX and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk participated in a reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Monday night ahead of his company’s planned rocket launch from Florida on Tuesday. SpaceX plans to launch its Falcon 9 rocket, which will carry supplies to the International Space Station, at 6:20 a.m. ET. If all goes as planned, the rocket will complete a soft vertical landing on a drone “spaceport ship” in the Atlantic with the goal of creating a “fully and rapidly reusable rocket.”
Drone spaceport ship heads to its hold position in the Atlantic to prepare for a rocket landing pic.twitter.com/kXYHGVKTfE
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 5, 2015
Asked by one reddit fan how he was able to estimate a 50% probability of success for Tuesday’s landing, Musk answered, “I pretty much made that up. I have no idea.” He added a smiley face and explained, “The grid fins are super important for landing with precision. The aerodynamic forces are way too strong for the nitrogen thrusters. In particular, achieving pitch trim is hopeless. Our atmosphere is like molasses at Mach 4!”
A group of fans from the reddit SpaceX community asked about a planned SpaceX mission to Mars. They wanted to know what the Mars Colonial Transporter actually is? Is it a crew module like Dragon (a partially reusable spacecraft developed by SpaceX), a launch vehicle like Falcon, or a mix of both?
“The Mars transport system will be a completely new architecture,” Musk said. “Am hoping to present that towards the end of this year.” He added that it was a good thing they didn’t do it sooner because they have learned a “huge amount” from Falcon and Dragon.
He said the goal is to send 100 metric tons of useful payload to the surface of Mars. “This obviously requires a very big spaceship and booster system,” he said. “At first, I was thinking we would just scale up Falcon Heavy, but it looks like it probably makes more sense just to have a single monster boost stage.”
It’s either super adorable or terribly awkward, depending on whether you love or hate Chris Christie. The New Jersey governor was caught on camera moving in for a celebratory hug when Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones failed to return his high fives after the team’s come-from-behind win on Sunday. Gov. Christie watched from the Cowboys owner’s box as his favorite team defeated the Detroit Lions to advance to the NFC Divisional playoffs.
Whatever you think about Christie cavorting with the Dallas Cowboys, the missed high fives, and his potential presidential run, you have to admit he’s looking rather svelte nearly two years after his Lap-Band weight loss surgery. Christie has reportedly lost 85 lbs. since the February, 2013 surgery.
Relatives told NBC News that 7-year-old Sailor Gutzler, who walked away from a Kentucky plane crash that killed four family members, used survival skills learned from her father to make her way safely to a home nearly a mile away from the crash site.
“Her father, Marty Gutzler, was a flight instructor. A pilot for 30 years who had taught his kids survival skills. Sailor had apparently paid close attention because relatives say she used the plane’s burning wing to light a branch to find her way out of the dark woods,” NBC’s Gabe Gutierrez reported.
The second grader, who had a broken bone in her wrist, freed herself from the plane that came to rest upside-down in a densely wooded area, wearing shorts and a t-shirt and missing her shoes and one sock. Although she was unable to light the torch, she managed to make her way through nearly a mile of dense forest as she tried to find help for her family.
“She’s in a place she doesn’t see any lights. She walked through thorns, briars, a 12-foot ditch, a creek bed, and continues to walk in that environment with no shoes on until she sees a light in a house,” said Lt. Brent White of the Kentucky State Police. “To say it’s a miracle is an understatement.”
Mike Huckabee announced on Saturday night’s Huckabee show that it would be his final show at Fox News as he ponders a presidential run.
“Tonight I’m going to do more than just say goodnight. I’m going to say goodbye. This is the last edition of Huckabee on the Fox News Channel,” the former Arkansas governor told his audience, saying the show “has been the ride of a lifetime” over the past six and a half years.
“There’s been a great deal of speculation as to whether I would run for president and if I were willing to absolutely rule that out I could keep doing this show,” Huckabee said. “But I can’t make such a declaration.”
He said he will not make a decision about running for president until next spring. “But the continued chatter has put Fox News in a position that just isn’t fair to them. Nor is it possible for me to openly determine my political and financial support to justify a race. The honorable thing to do at this point is to end my tenure here at Fox,” Huckabee said.
Huckabee reiterated that he could not rule out a presidential run. “But I agree with Fox that this is the right thing and now is the right time” to end the show he said.
“I’m not going to disappear,” Huckabee promised his audience. “And I’ll probably make guest appearances here on Fox — I hope so — but no longer as a member of the staff.”
He thanked Fox News president Roger Ailes as well as his staff and colleagues at Fox.
“So, that’s it for the Huckabee show. I say goodbye, but as we say in television, stay tuned. There’s more to come.”
Asked by MSNBC’s Kristen Welker why he included a photo of President Obama donning tiara in a his collection of “2014: A Year in Photos,“ White House photographer Pete Souza said, “I thought it showed a very human side of him. He has a lot of fun with babies and young kids and I think he just got caught up in the moment that if they are wearing their tiaras, he is going to wear one too. I asked him to do it and he went along.”
“Was there a lot of urging?” Welker asked. “Can you take us behind the scenes?”
“Not much urging at all,” said Souza. “I think he said something like this picture is just for us.”
According to Tulsa World, an 8-year old Brownie named Miriam was the one who asked the president to put on the tiara during a brief meeting with her scout troop in May.
“I was like, ‘I have a tiara for you. Do you want to put it on?’” Miriam said she asked the president.
“He said, ‘No, thank you. I’ll give it to my girls,’ ” she recalled.
“Once the press left the room, he said, ‘Don’t tell anyone, but I’ll put on the tiara,’ ” Miriam said.
President Obama, who famously said, “I’m not interested in photo-ops,”and once quipped, “You don’t put stuff on your head if you’re president,” allowed his official White House photographer to stick around for the tiara photo-op after the press had been banished from the room.
The White House tweeted out the picture on New Year’s Eve with the hashtag #WomeninSTEM (because nothing says “science” and “gender equality” like a tiara or something).
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) December 31, 2014
How do you feel about the leader of the free world (and commander in chief of the U.S. armed forces) posing in a tiara as part of an orchestrated photo-op? Do you think it’s important for the world to see the “human side” of the president or do you think he should work on projecting an image of strength?
An article in The Washingtonian about the downfall of David Gregory at Meet the Press details how Comcast has become a major political player in Washington ahead of their proposed merger with Time Warner. The company hired legendary political fixer David L. Cohen, who previously worked as chief of staff to Philadelphia mayor Ed Rendell. Cohen tripled the company’s Washington lobbying team and increased its lobbying spending more than five-fold between 2002 and 2009 when the merger was announced. And then there was this little gem:
Comcast also had an even more personal way of sucking up to Washington. Its government-affairs team carried around “We’ll make it right” cards stamped with “priority assistance” codes for fast-tracking help and handed them out to congressional staffers, journalists, and other influential Washingtonians who complained about their service.
A Comcast spokeswoman says this practice isn’t exclusive to DC; every Comcast employee receives the cards, which they can distribute to any customer with cable or internet trouble. Nevertheless, efforts like this one have surely helped Comcast boost its standing inside the Beltway and improve its chances of winning regulatory approval for its next big conquest: merging with the second-largest cable provider in the country, Time Warner Cable.
Since we have a representative democracy in the United States, let me suggest how this is perhaps supposed to work: Comcast is obviously acknowledging with these cards that their customer service is often really lousy (there’s a reason it’s one of the most hated companies in the country, after all). So when — not if — when you receive crappy customer service from the company, you’re supposed to call your congressman, who can then refer to the special code on his magic VIP “We’ll make it right” card. He can immediately call the “No-Wait Hotline” and lobby Comcast directly on your behalf to implore them to give you something resembling adequate customer service. Maybe even get a premium channel or two thrown in for your trouble. He should at least have enough clout to get you out of their hellish customer service maze.
Or maybe Comcast could work on improving customer service company-wide instead of only for those with the lucky VIP cards.
#LulzXmas: VPNCyberGhost, UbiSoft, VCC, Brazzers, UFC TV, PSN, XBL Gamers, Twitch TV, Amazon, Hulu Plus, Dell, Walmart, (EA) Games, LEAKED..
— Anonymous (@AnonymousGlobo) December 26, 2014
A hacker group said to be associated with “Anonymous” followed through on a threat they made to leak information about “accounts of various companies around the world” by leaking passwords and usernames of 13,000 accounts at Amazon, PlayStation, XBox Live, Hulu Plus, Walmart, and other online retailers and entertainment services.
The group announced the leak, which included credit card numbers, expiration dates, and security codes, in a tweet the day after Christmas:
— Anonymous (@AnonymousGlobo) December 26, 2014
“For the lulz” is a phrase used on social media and in online forums to explain that an individual did something to be humourous or for personal enjoyment.
The data was released as a text file on the file-sharing site Ghostbin. The file has since been taken down, but the personal information of thousands of online customers was exposed to the public for a period of time. DailyDot has a list of all the companies affected by the data breach.
The group also linked to a site where a pirated copy of Sony’s The Interview could be downloaded.
Earlier in the week a self-described hacker group called Lizard Squad attacked the gaming networks of Sony and Microsoft, knocking the online gaming sites for XBox and Playstation Network offline for most of Christmas Day. The group also claimed responsibility for attacking Tor’s anonymous network system.
To clarify, we are no longer attacking PSN or Xbox. We are testing our new Tor 0day.
— Lizard Squad (@LizardMafia) December 26, 2014
“Anonymous,” the loosely affiliated group of hackers that claims to be leaderless and without any organizational structure, fired back at Lizard Squad on Twitter, telling the group to “stand down. “Anonymous” said, ”People need that service because of corrupt governments.”
It appears the attack on Tor was unsuccessful.
Tor Project statement on today's attack. Read: http://t.co/xAsRg06AxH
— torproject (@torproject) December 26, 2014
— Anonymous (@YourAnonNews) December 27, 2014
These groups are working overtime to exert their dominance in the cyber universe and a lot of it is “for the lulz” — just for kicks, regardless of the collateral damage. Whether or not this mini-hacktivist war continues, it’s a good reminder to think about updating your online security because consumers will likely be caught in the crossfire if these groups continue to face off. If you have an account at one of the breached online sites, it would be a good idea to change your password and log in to minimize the risk of identity theft. You should also monitor your bank account and credit card accounts for unauthorized charges and consider how you can make your accounts more secure going forward.
A 24-year old woman was arrested after she walked into a Framingham, Massachusetts police station and threw raw bacon and sausage at a police officer.
Lindsay McNamara appeared in court Friday, charged with disorderly conduct and malicious destruction of property after the incident earlier in the day.
McNamara, who represented herself in court, said, “God told me to go over there and feed the pigs.”
“Somebody’s out to get me,” she added. “I don’t know who it is, but somebody is out to get me.”
“She walked into the lobby and was carrying a Dunkin’ Donuts box, walked up to the window, when the officer greeted her asked if he could help her, she said ‘I’m here to feed the pigs,’” Framingham Police Lt. Harry Wareham said in court.
McNamara allegedly then threw the raw bacon and sausage at the officer and smeared the meat onto the bulletproof glass of the window.
“I mean, I didn’t really destruct property,” she said. “I just smeared some grease.”
The judge postponed the arraignment pending the outcome of a mental evaluation and released her to the custody of her parents.
“It’s clear she may need help,” Lt. Wareham said.
Update: It appears that Lizard Squad has suspended the DDoS attacks after file sharing service Mega’s founder Kim Dotcom offered the group 3000 premium accounts to leave the gaming sites alone. Lizard Squad announced on Twitter that they’ve accepted the offer and have ended the attacks. Reports of service disruptions have dropped significantly since the announcement.
Gamers who tried to log onto their Sony PlayStation Network or Microsoft XBox Live accounts to play their new systems on Christmas Day were greeted by error messages saying the networks were offline. Reportedly, both companies have been hit with distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attacks in which botnets flood networks with tens of thousands of requests for service, creating more traffic than networks can handle. The attacks come on a day that networks are typically already strained and traffic is high.
Sony began reporting problems in the afternoon on Christmas Eve:
We are aware that there have been issues reported with PSN. Thanks for your patience as we investigate.
— Ask PlayStation (@AskPlayStation) December 24, 2014
A group of malicious programmers calling itself Lizard Squad claimed responsibility for the attacks (which technically are not considered hacking) on Twitter. The anonymous group said they are the “next generation Grinch.” They promised to end the attacks in return for new Twitter followers and retweets.
On Tuesday, Polygon reported on a rivalry between two groups involved in a planned Christmas “hacking war”:
The turmoil started in August when Lizard Squad made a bit of a name for itself by claiming responsibility for Blizzard and PlayStation Network outages and a tweeted bomb threat which diverted the flight of Sony Online Entertainment head John Smedley.
The group returned in September, claiming responsibility for attacks on the servers for a slew of games including Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Destiny and Grand Theft Auto Online. Then on Dec. 1, the group said it once more took the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live offline.
The group tweeted that it was preparing for a larger attack at Christmas and that the Dec. 1 attack was just a “small dose of what’s to come.”
No one has verified exactly who is responsible for what in these outages.On Dec. 2, a new hacker group surfaced. The Finest Squad said it would prevent the promised attack by Lizard Squad and dismantle the group by outing its members and turning them in to police.
Police in the Village of Doylestown, Ohio, have been pulling drivers over this week, not to issue citations, but to hand out hundred dollar bills and wish drivers a Merry Christmas.
An anonymous donor who lives in Doylestown (the place I am blessed to call home) gave the department $1000 after hearing a report about a “Secret Santa” using police officers to hand out cash to drivers in Kansas City.
“The offer was that they’d give us $1,000 dollars to make 10 traffic stops,” said Doylestown Police Chief Brian Dressler, “which we thought was a great idea.”
The patrolman’s association collected another $400, so the department was able to hand out fourteen hundred dollar bills to unsuspecting drivers passing through the village.
Some of the encounters were caught on police dash cams and body cameras.
Jodi Utter was expecting to get a ticket when police pulled her over.
“I was just so excited and I’m so thankful to live in this town,” Utter said.
One woman was so excited that she jumped out of her vehicle and hugged the officer.
I love to read, I love to write, I love to do math. I don’t like the PARCC. Why? Because it stinks. I’m glad my mom and dad are letting me opt out because I don’t want to deal with this nonsense.
Elizabeth Blaine, who was barely tall enough to see over the podium, had the courage to speak those word at a recent New Jersey school board meeting. The PARCC she referred to is the “Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers,” which is one brand of testing that will be used to assess students under the Common Core standards.
When she appeared on Fox & Friends this week, the tiny girl, wearing a sweet blue dress with white tights and a sparkly headband, calmly explained to host Elisabeth Hasselbeck that when the audience gave her a standing ovation after her speech she felt “very honored that everyone was so happy for me and that they were impressed with me and they respected me.”
Hasselbeck asked why the Common Core issue was so important to the little girl. “Well, I don’t really like the PARCC because it has many problems and we have — it’s all on computers, so we have to be typing when most of us have never even typed before,” Blaine said. “And we’re not required to take a typing test, but — typing class, but then we have to type on the test.”
“You’re saying a majority of the kids don’t even know how to type when they do this test,” Hasselbeck said.
She wanted to show viewers another example of the work 10 year olds were being tested on and put up a slide containing a question that shocked Elizabeth Blaine when it appeared on her PARCC practice test:
Identify a theme in “Just Like Home” and a theme in “Life Doesn’t Frighten Me” and write an essay that explains how the theme of the story is shown for the characters and how the theme of the poem is shown through the speaker. Include specific details from the story and the poem to support your efforts.
“I think most grownups reading that right now would feel dizzy,” Hasselbeck said. ”How do you feel?”
“I didn’t understand it at all, mostly because I didn’t understand the poem,” Elizabeth Blaine said. ”And mostly because we haven’t even done anything with themes. I don’t even know what a theme is.”
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul continued to hammer away at Sen. Marco Rubio, who told Megyn Kelly on Fox News earlier this week that Paul “has no idea what he’s talking about” when he supports ending the Cuban embargo and normalizing diplomatic relations. Paul defended his Facebook post directed at Rubio in which he said, “Senator Rubio is acting like an isolationist who wants to retreat to our borders and perhaps build a moat.” Paul also followed up by trolling Rubio on Twitter on Friday.
Hey @marcorubio if the embargo doesn't hurt Cuba, why do you want to keep it?
— Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) December 19, 2014
Senator @marcorubio is acting like an isolationist who wants to retreat to our borders and perhaps build a moat. I reject this isolationism.
— Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) December 19, 2014
The United States trades and engages with other communist nations, such as China and Vietnam. So @marcorubio why not Cuba?
— Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) December 19, 2014
— Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) December 19, 2014
Shannon Bream, filling in for Megyn Kelly on Friday, asked Paul if he was picking a fight with Rubio.
“Oh, you know, I never start a fight but I’m happy to finish a fight. I think the remarks were a little bit rude and intemperate. … I didn’t start this, Shannon, you know. But what I would say is that the remarks were intemperate and rude, and so we responded to them,” Paul said, sounding perhaps a bit too much like a 9-year-old girl tattling on her little sister.
“It is about an issue and it is about a fellow Republican who used rude and inappropriate language with regard to a fellow Republican and I think that I won’t stand for it, frankly,” he said. “And if someone’s going to cast aspersions on me and not talk about policy, then there will be an altercation and I won’t shy away from a battle and I think I’ve shown that.”
Jon Stewart reacted to Geraldo Rivera’s criticism of Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James, who wore a a t-shirt emblazoned with “I Can’t Breathe” to a recent game. Stewart said on Wednesday, “This should be a perfectly acceptable way to express one’s feelings about political issues.”
“Last time I checked, t-shirts don’t block traffic. They don’t prevent you from shopping at Macy’s,” Stewart said.
Geraldo Rivera said he wondered if LeBron should instead wear a shirt that said, “Be a better father to your son. Raise your children.”
Stewart said that LeBron (the father of three) actually lives that message. But added, “If he wants advice on shirts, I’m sure he’ll ask someone who wears one.”
Pre-Christmas pro-tip: Don’t forget to talk to your kids — and parents — about responsible social media usage.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz answered some of his critics, including Charles Krauthammer and George Will, who say he does not understanding how the game is played in Washington. Fox News anchor Bret Baier asked Cruz on Tuesday to respond to charges that he doesn’t “get it.” Cruz, who said that he likes and respects both Will and Krauthammer, said, “You know, on some level I’ll agree with what they said. I am not trying to play the rules of Washington because I think Washington’s broken. I think it’s profoundly broken. And I think the only answer is to change Washington.”
Cruz described disruptive apps in the tech world that come in and disrupt the means of distributing goods or services. “Let’s take, for example, Uber coming in or Lyft coming into a city. Whenever that happens, the existing providers fight like cats and dogs. The taxi commissions have done everything they can to kill Uber and Lyft,” he said.
“What we’re trying to do in the political world is very much the same thing, which is change the means of decision-making, take it out of the smoke-filled rooms, where decision-making is done in Washington between career politicians and lobbyists — and instead empower the people,” Cruz said. “In my view, the only way we can turn this country around is if the American people rise up and hold every one of us accountable. So I’m not trying to play the Washington rules. I’m trying to change the rules and make elected officials, myself included, accountable to the people who elected them.”
On Monday Cruz told Mark Levin that a lot of his colleagues in Washington “buy into this collective herd mentality that you can’t stand up and do anything meaningful. That you have to give in.” He said, “The way you get bipartisan agreement in this town is you get everyone to sit around a table and you say, ‘I’ll spend for your project, your project, your project … another trillion dollars … we’re done.’ And that’s how we bankrupt our kids and grandkids. That’s how we get $18 trillion in debt because everyone scratches everyone else’s backs and nobody actually stands for the working men and women back home.”
Asked about his critics, Cruz told Levin, “If they want to come after me, fine. Knock yourself out. That is not my concern. My concern is honoring the oath of office.”
The TSA is on Instagram and they’re sharing pictures of some of the items they’ve confiscated from passengers trying to board planes in the U.S. These are banned items that were discovered in November and December and after seeing the pictures, you may be a little less likely to complain about that long wait in the airport security line this holiday season.
First up are the guns, many of them loaded.
#TSACatch – This loaded firearm was discovered in a carry-on bag last week at the #Seattle – #Tacoma (#SEA) International Airport. While firearms are prohibited in carry-on bags, they may be transported in checked baggage as long as the proper guidelines are met. Read more about traveling with firearms at: bit.ly/TravelingWithFirearms
#TSACatch – This loaded firearm was discovered in a carry-on bag last week at the #Cincinnati #NorthernKentucky (#CVG) International Airport. It fires a combination of .45 caliber rounds and .410 shotgun shells. While firearms are prohibited in carry-on bags, they can be packed in checked baggage as long as they are declared and packed properly. Read more about properly traveling with firearms at TSA.gov.
These are just nine of the over 200 firearms that were discovered in carry-on bags in October; 174 of the 200 were loaded. Unless you’re a law enforcement officer with special permission, firearms are never permitted in carry-on bags. Read more at TSA.gov on how to properly travel with firearms in your checked baggage.
In his first televised interview since a non-disclosure agreement was loosened, Dr. James Mitchell, an Air Force psychologist who was an integral part of the controversial CIA enhanced interrogation program, lashed out at the Senate Intelligence Committee report on Monday’s Kelly File. Mitchell, who gave very specific details about the interrogations of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah, who was at the time a suspect in the attacks, told Kelly that he’s angry about the report and feels that the disclosure of his identity has put him in danger. Mitchell said, “They had a foregone conclusion.” He believes the CIA put his life and the lives of other CIA officials and their families in danger. “For some sort of moral high ground?” he asked.
He said the CIA report has accused him and fellow interrogators of “some horrible things” but they can’t be prosecuted because what they did was legal at the time. “They didn’t give us the chance to explain anything. They didn’t bother talking to the people at the CIA or the people who were no longer at the CIA who were involved, like the past directors.” He said the report has stirred up “all of the crazies and all the jihadists and so now we’re getting death threats and we’re getting all kinds of things. ”
“I do not mind giving my life for my country, but I do mind giving my life for a food fight for political reasons between two groups of people who should be able to work it out like adults,” Mitchell told Kelly when asked if his life was in danger.
”No one from the Senate committee has ever asked me a single thing. If they think I’ve abused somebody they should ask me about it. They should point at the piece of the paper, let me review the documents, and let me at least try to explain my…ourselves. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has the opportunity to address the charges against him but I don’t,” Mitchell complained.
Mitchell said he is proud of the work the interrogators did. “We saved lives. I don’t care what the Senate said. The presidents, the past three CIA directors — I got an award for the work that we did. They told us we did a good job. They told us we saved lives. And I believe that we did.”
But then the Senate report was released and Mitchell said he had no opportunity to defend himself. “And I feel horrible for the nation. I feel horrible, in part, because this puts everyone at risk, and worse yet, it shows al Qaeda and the al Qaeda 2.0 folks — ISIL — that we’re divided and that we’re easy targets. That we don’t have the will to defeat them. Because that’s what they know.”
“Well I don’t feel that I’ve been abandoned by the CIA,” Mitchell said. ”They didn’t throw me under the bus.” He said the majority of people he talks to support what was done and thank him for it.
“It’s just for me — you can probably tell that I’m a little agitated about this,” Mitchell told Kelly, “I don’t want to die because the Democrats in the Senate don’t have the courtesy to ask the CIA to explain what they view as abuses that occurred when there’s other evidence — 6 million documents — and they cherry-picked what makes their point out of it and it puts us in danger.
Watch more of the interview on the next page:
A New South Wales (NSW) police spokeswoman said officers were called to the Lindt chocolate cafe in Sydney, Australia at 9:44 a.m. on Monday to respond to a hostage situation in progress.
Witnesses say a middle-aged man wearing a black bandana with Arabic writing walked into the cafe with a bag containing a gun and took control of the cafe. Hostages were reportedly told to close their eyes, hold their hands up, and face the window. Lindt employees were seen holding a black flag in the front window with the words “There is no god but Allah; Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.”
7 News in Sydney, which has a studio across the street from the cafe, originally reported that there were 13 hostages and “at least one gunman.” They are now saying there may be as many as 50 people inside the building. They are reporting that a gunman is using a woman as a human shield.
A witness who owns a kiosk near the cafe told the Sydney Morning Herald, “It was about 10 past 10. They [police] came out running like a madman and said close the shop! Get out!”
Buildings in the area have been evacuated and NSW police are directing people in the vicinity of the hostage situation to remain indoors and to stay away from windows.
The Lindt cafe is located at Martin Place, the scene of a foiled terror plot by Omarjan Azari. In September, Azari was arrested after it was discovered that he was plotting to behead a random victim and then cover the body with an Islamic flag.
In addition to the September terror plot, many financial institutions are housed in Martin Place buildings adjacent to the Lindt cafe.
The Sydney Morning Herald pointed out that it is not an Islamic State flag, “but is an Islamic flag that has been co-opted by jihadist groups.”
“The flag appears to be a Shahada flag, which represents a general expression of faith in Islam, but has been co-opted by various jihadist groups,” the newspaper reported. “That means it doesn’t help confirm or rule out that the hostage-takers’ affiliation is with Islamic State or any other group.”
The government has convened a meeting of the National Security Committee. It has been warning about the possibility of a terrorist attack for months.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott warned after a series of September terror raids that all that is needed for an Islamic State terror attack is a “knife, iPhone and a victim.”
The prime minister gave a brief statement early Monday afternoon saying, “We don’t yet know the motivations” of the perpetrator (singular) and “this is an unfolding situation.”
“This is a very disturbing incident,” Abbott said, “our thoughts and prayers must above all go out to the individuals that are caught up in this.”
He said police have made contact with the attacker and said the NSW police will begin providing operational updates shortly.
Abbott assured the public that the ordinary business of the Australian government will go on and encouraged people to go about their normal business.
“The whole point of politically motivated violence is to scare people out of being themselves,” Abbott said.
It’s not the higher premiums. Not the fact that Americans are losing their doctors or that they’re being forced onto plans they don’t like — including Medicaid. It’s not even that the website launch made users think they’d time-traveled back to the land of CompuServe, circa 1991.
No, says former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the real problem with the Affordable Care Act — Obamacare — is the name.
In an interview with POLITICO Wednesday Sebelius said that “Obamacare, no question, has a very bad brand that has been driven intentionally by a lot of misinformation and a lot of paid advertising.”
Insisting that Obamacare is working, Sebelius said, “I think we may need to call it something … in the future … different.”
Just a simple branding problem, right? Like that time Kentucky Fried Chicken removed “fried” from their name at a time when consumers were shifting to more health-conscious food choices.
Jeff Dunetz at Yid With Lid asked the Twitterverse to help the former HHS secretary with new names for their beloved government healthcare. Here are a few gems:
— Gomes (@GomesBolt) December 11, 2014
— A Raised Eyebrow (@ARaised_Eyebrow) December 11, 2014
The Unaffordable Lies Act #hdnr
— Egbert Sousé (@Criblecobble) December 11, 2014
— Maquisard (@Browncoat_Atty) December 11, 2014
— Gary Crant (@Beefsteak101) December 11, 2014
— Les Rankins (@LesRankins) December 11, 2014
— Adam Baldwin (@AdamBaldwin) December 11, 2014
— Habib Jones (@habib2001) December 11, 2014
“This administration does not take any prisoners, they prefer to kill them from afar, using drones,” Rodriguez said. “And somehow, they feel that because they kill from a distance, somehow, it’s more ethical … more ethical than the difficult and messy and unpleasant task and mission of actually interrogating prisoners. I think it’s a distortion of what our values are.”
Hannity said if given a choice between being waterboarded or killed by a drone strike, he would choose waterboarding.
“I think I’ll take the waterboarding, too,” Rodriguez said.