Saturday on C-SPAN’s BookTV, CIA Benghazi annex security team members Kris Paronto and Mark Geist answered questions about a report released Friday by the House Intelligence Committee on the 9/11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi in 2012. The two former CIA contractors pushed back forcefully against parts of the the Committee’s conclusions about the night that Ambassador Chris Stevens, U.S. Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith, and CIA contractors Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were killed in Benghazi.
The report by the U.S. House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), chaired by Republican Rep. Mike Rogers, concluded that “the CIA ensured sufficient security for CIA facilities in Benghazi” and that “appropriate U.S. personnel made reasonable tactical decisions that night.” The Committee “found no evidence that there was either a stand down order or a denial of available air support.” The report, according to the House Committee, is meant to serve as the “definitive House statement on the Intelligence Community’s activities before, during, and after the tragic events that caused the deaths of four brave Americans” so that the American public can separate “facts from the swirl of rumors and unsubstantiated allegations.”
Kris “Tanto” Paronto, co-author of the book, 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi, reacted to the report on Twitter Friday night and Saturday morning, prior to the C-SPAN interview:
So this BS report came out…..i don't think these weak congressman understand our resolve..i promise i will bring them all down!!! #13hours
— Kris Paronto (@KrisParonto) November 22, 2014
— Kris Paronto (@KrisParonto) November 22, 2014
During the BookTV interview, Paronto and Mark “Oz” Geist, who also co-wrote the book (along with Mark Teigen, who attended the interview but did not appear on camera) explained that it took them over an hour to get to the consulate from the time they heard about the attack. Asked why it took so long for them to reach the scene Paronto said, “That’s the million dollar question.”
Paronto stood by the claim made in the book that they were ordered to stand down, a claim that was disputed in this week’s House Intelligence Committee report. “We were told to stand down. We were delayed for approximately 27 minutes on our compound,” he said. “We do not know, as far as outside of our chain of command outside Libya, where that came from. We know that the stand down orders and the waits and the delays came from Libya. Came from chief of station, chief of base. Whether it came from anybody higher, we don’t answer that. We don’t know. And we’d like to know, but we have no idea.”
North Carolina Rep. G.K. Butterfield, who was elected chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) this week, told WUNC on Wednesday that the CBC is “laser-focused on what’s happening in Ferguson.” He added, ”We are very, very concerned about it.”
Butterfield, a former Superior Court judge and civil rights attorney, said in an interview with WUNC, the North Carolina Public Radio affiliate, that he expects a report from the grand jury in the Michael Brown shooting case next week.
“I was a judge, as you probably know, for fifteen years in North Carolina and I presided over many grand juries,” the congressman said. “So I would certainly hope that the grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri, will find that there is sufficient evidence to conclude that a crime probably was committed, to lay out that crime, and to let a jury of twelve in Missouri decide the guilt or innocence of the police officer. ”
Butterfield didn’t say whether he had seen any evidence indicating that a crime “probably was committed.” Nevertheless, he had a stern warning for the grand jury: “If they turn their backs on justice there will be…there will be pushback from those who are concerned about it — and I’m one of those who’s concerned about it. There will be pushback. We will be asking questions.”
The North Carolina congressmen, who has represented his district since 2004, said he hopes that any demonstrations in Ferguson will be peaceful and non-violent. “And I would hope that law enforcement would not inflame citizens who want to express their First Amendment rights.”
In a 2009 paper, “Choice Inconsistencies Among the Elderly: Evidence from Plan Choice in the Medicare Part D Program,” Obamacare advisor Jonathan Gruber argued that there were too many Medicare Part D plans for seniors to choose from, which led them to make bad decisions when enrolling in a plan.
In the paper, written for the National Bureau of Economic Research, Gruber wrote with Jason T. Abaluck that the privatization of the public Medicare program had resulted in dozens of private insurers offering a wide variety of insurance products for seniors to choose from. The result of so many choices, Gruber wrote, is that seniors are not making decisions that are in their best interest. ”First, elders place much more weight on plan premiums than they do on the expected out of pocket costs that they will incur under the plan. Second, they substantially under-value variance reducing aspects of alternative plans. Finally, consumers appear to value plan financial characteristics far beyond any impacts on their own financial expenses or risk.”
The paper noted that while standard economic theory would suggest that expanded choice is a beneficial plan feature, “There are reasons to believe that the standard model is insufficient, particularly for a population of elders. There is growing interest in behavioral economics in models where agents are better off with a more restricted choice set.”
In what seems to be an escalation of his previous public comments, tenured Kent State University professor Julio Pino is using his personal Facebook page not only to post anti-Semitic epithets and threats, but also to declare his solidarity with the terrorist group ISIS.
In August, we saw the incendiary, anti-Semitic Facebook posts by Pino, the Cuban-born associate history professor who converted to Islam in 2000. Dr. Pino’s posts supported Hamas, made vile, racist comments about Jews and Israelis, and even seemed to support ISIS. Pino, who has a long history of anti-Semitic behavior, also vowed that he wouldn’t work with fellow staff members who supported Israel:“Collaborate with no one who collaborates with Israel, and let her or him know why. I have started with the head of our ‘Religious Studies’ program, who sends student-dupes to Israel every year.” Pino remains employed by the taxpayer-supported university and it seems he has been emboldened by the cover Kent State is providing for him.
In a post this week, he declared, “We will wage jihad from al-Quds to Canada!” Pino posted this comment along with a video from Russia Today (the state-funded news outlet) showing allegedly “uncut” footage of the “bloody caliphate” in Iraq.
In another post with a link to a YouTube video warning of a possible Islamic State attack in New York City, Pino calls a Canadian jihadist his brother: “Canadian Brother from ISIS ‘We love being attacked! We seek martyrdom!’”
On Friday, Pino posted a link to a BBC article warning that the Islamic State is setting its sights on Saudi Arabia, where the Muslim holy site of Mecca is located. “No Sleep Till Mecca!” Pino vowed.
Back in October, Pino scoffed at reports that ISIS is a great military threat. “From the bourgeois media: ‘ISIS is the greatest military threat the U.S. has faced since 1945.’ You mean that whole Cold War, nuclear arms race, Korea, Viet Nam thing was for kids?” he asked.
Last week Pino applauded the Ayatollah Khamenei, calling him his “favorite tweeter.”
Here’s the tweet that got Pino so excited:
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) November 8, 2014
About a dozen members of a Turkish left-wing nationalist revolutionary youth organization attacked several American soldiers in the Eminonu district in Istanbul, a popular tourist hub. The Turkiye Genclik Birligi (Turkish Youth Union/TGB) approached the sailors from the USS Ross at what appears to be some sort of ticket booth, speaking to them in English.
“Excuse me. You declare that you are member of U.S. Army. And now, because we find you as murderers — as killers — we want to … we want you to get out of our land. And we are using the right to protest you,” the leader of the group announced.
In the video, posted on what appears to be the TGB’s Facebook page, the men being addressed as Americans at first tried to ignore the protesters. When the mob began to throw dye at them, the soldiers attempted to leave the scene. Members of the TGB grabbed them and shouted, “Go home, Yankee!” and then forced a white bag over one man’s head. The soldiers eventually escaped and the protesters pursued them down the street.
The “hooding” was apparently in retaliation for an incident during the Iraq war when U.S. forces arrested a group of Turkish soldiers, placed hoods over their heads, and then held them for three days, outraging many in Turkey.
The U.S. Embassy in Ankara condemned the attack in a statement released via its Twitter account.
“The video showing an assault on three visiting American sailors is appalling. While we respect the right to peaceful protest and freedom of expression, we condemn today’s attack in Istanbul, and have no doubt the vast majority of Turks would join us in rejecting an action that so disrespects Turkey’s reputation for hospitality,” said the Twitter statement.
The USS Ross is docked off the coast of Eminönü for four days after returning from a NATO exercise in the Black Sea. Leave for the crew has been cancelled for the remainder of the vessel’s stay in Turkey.
An African American lawmaker — a Democrat — is charging the Ohio Democratic Party and chairman Chris Redfern with racism and defamation in a lawsuit filed this week, telling reporters there is a “plantation mentality” in the party that treats black lawmakers as a monolithic voting bloc.
Last week, Chris Redfern, head of the Ohio Democratic Party, resigned in disgrace after presiding over sweeping losses of every statewide office, a record-breaking majority of Republicans elected to the Ohio legislature, and the utter collapse of the Democrats’ candidate for governor. Redfern also lost his own seat in the Ohio House on Tuesday. As it turns out, all of that may have only been the tip of the iceberg of the Ohio Democratic Party’s problems. The Dispatch reported on Monday:
State Rep. John E. Barnes, a Cleveland Democrat, has filed a defamation lawsuit against the Ohio Democratic Party and its chairman, Chris Redfern, alleging white lawmakers get better treatment and he was punished for raising the issue of racism in the party.
Barnes said he faced discrimination and retaliation from his own party when he refused to join the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus in the Ohio House. Barnes said he feared it would harm his reputation to “associate with an organization whose moral compass he found to be troubling.” The lawsuit mentions members of the caucus who have been convicted of felony and misdemeanor offenses in the last three years. According to the complaint, Barnes ”saw little value to himself or to his district” in joining OLBC and “wanted to be treated as an individual rather than as a member of a presumed monolithic block of votes based upon his skin color.”
Barnes alleges in the lawsuit that his his failure to join the OLBC and his cooperation with Gov. Kasich on issues like Medicaid expansion angered Ohio Democratic Party chairman Chris Redfern and key leaders of the Democratic caucus in the House. As a result, he says he was passed over for committee leadership positions in retaliation. He claims the party also punished him by endorsing his opponent, Jill Miller Zimon, in the May primary and made false statements about him during the campaign. The party distributed pro-Zimon campaign fliers claiming Barnes voted with Kasich more than 75% of the time, cut funding for schools, blocked Medicaid for the poor and disenfranchised voters. In a press conference on Monday, Barnes said he has fought his entire career for programs like Medicaid and was offended by the accusation, which he believes harmed his reputation in his community. Barnes beat Zimon in the primary and went on to win re-election last week.
“I’m proud to be a 94% voting Democrat in a historic district,” Barnes said in the press conference, seated next to his lawyer. “As a lifelong Democrat I’m extremely disappointed for the outright lies that Chris Redfern, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, circulated in the 12th House district during the primary election.”
On Monday night, Fox News host Megyn Kelly accidentally introduced fellow Fox personality Mike Huckabee for a segment by saying he was the “host of F**kabee.” Without missing a beat, Kelly corrected herself. “Huckabee,” she continued, as Mike Huckabee, who is considering a presidential run, appeared to be trying to suppress a smile.
Both professionals, Kelly and Huckabee went on with the segment, ignoring the little slip-of-the-tongue.
Kelly joked about the flub during a later segment when she was talking about Valerie Jarrett’s s*** list. ”I’ve already sworn once on the program and it was worse than that one,” she said.
Later in the show Kelly read a tweet from a viewer who called her stoic for soldiering on through the blunder. “I thought I was stoic too. At heart I’m a 12-year-old boy,” she explained.
Though it was probably just an honest mistake on Kelly’s part, it does make one wonder if she’s ever heard Huckabee called that name before. Are there some folks around the Fox News studio who refer to him in that derogatory manner?
On Thursday, the Sixth Circuit upheld the marriage bans in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Michigan, the first major loss post-Windsor for gay marriage supporters after a string of victories in the federal courts. The 2-1 ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit reversed district court rulings that had struck down the gay marriage bans in those states, setting up a probable Supreme Court review now that the circuit courts have split on the issue.
Senior Circuit Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey, the lone dissenter, huffed that the opinion was “an introductory lecture in political philosophy,” complaining that it failed “to grapple with the relevant constitutional issue in this appeal.”
A lesson in judicial political philosophy seemed to be one of the main points of the 64-page majority opinion, which was authored by Judge Jeffrey Sutton and joined by Judge Deborah Cook (both appointed by George W. Bush). Sutton said that a handful of judges had no business making such a decision in the first place.
“Process and structure matter greatly in American government,” Sutton wrote. He said the most “reliable liberty-assuring guarantees” of our system of government require careful attention to the route the United States Constitution outlines for “making such a fundamental change to such a fundamental social institute.”
Of all the ways to resolve this question, one option is not available: a poll of the three judges on this panel, or for that matter all federal judges, about whether gay marriage is a good idea. Our judicial commissions did not come with such a sweeping grant of authority, one that would allow just three of us—just two of us in truth—to make such a vital policy call for the thirty-two million citizens who live within the four States of the Sixth Circuit: Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee.
Sutton posed the rhetorical question, “Who decides? Is this a matter that the National Constitution commits to resolution by the federal courts or leaves to the less expedient, but usually reliable, work of the state democratic processes?”
There were plenty of contenders for Biggest Loser, Election Night Edition, on Tuesday, but no one had a worse night than Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern, who has led the state party since 2005. Redfern presided over not only a sweeping loss of every statewide office, but also the epic failure of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald’s campaign, which made Politico’s list of the Worst Campaigns of 2014. This was the second statewide election in a row that Republicans cleaned Redfern’s clock. To make matters worse for Democrats, Republicans picked up an additional five Ohio House seats, giving them the largest majority held by either party since the number of districts was reduced in 1967.
Late Tuesday night Redfern resigned as chairman of the state Democratic party, saying it had been an honor and a privilege to build “the strongest state party in the country.” He really said that.
But that wasn’t the end of Redfern’s humiliating night. His seat in the Ohio House was one of those seats Republicans picked up, with challenger Steven Kraus winning by just under 1000 votes. Redfern served in the legislature from 1999 until he was term-limited out in 2008. He was elected to a newly-drawn district in 2012, but failed in his re-election bid on Tuesday.
And it doesn’t even end there. Redfern’s wife, Kim Redfern, also was defeated in her election against Republican incumbent Kathleen McGervey for a seat on the State Board of Education.
But the news isn’t all bad. Cedar Point amusement park is practically in the Catawba Island Democrat’s backyard. They’ll be hiring for next season not long after Redfern finishes out his term in the legislature. A clean-cut lad like Redfern should have no trouble scoring a job frightening small children dressed in a costume with a giant head.
Bloomberg reported this week that Republican party operatives are worried about messages that alienate moderates. Citing the Republican post-2012 election “autopsy” report, Bloomberg said the Republican National Committee was urging candidates to win elections by reaching out to a broader cross-section of voters.
GOP operative Henry Barbour, who helped fund the race-baiting ads against Chris McDaniel in the Mississippi primary through a pro-Thad Cochran Super PAC, told Bloomberg he was hopeful about the GOP’s chances in the 2014 election. “We’re in a strong position to win back the Senate, but there are still lessons to be learned,” said Barbour, who co-authored the the GOP 2012 post-election report.
However, Barbour warned, “Some of the messaging that’s been effective in 2014 may not be what delivers the White House, and people need to be smart about that.”
Barbour didn’t say whether he thought the vicious, race-baiting ads (warning black voters that McDaniel wanted to keep them from the polls and take away their benefits) were the kind of “smart” messaging that would be needed to deliver the White House.
In August, Barbour told The Hill that he stood by the ads the portrayed Republican Chris McDaniel and the Tea Party as racist. “We did make a contribution to [the] group for efforts to engage in the African-American community, and they made a decision to run some ads,” he said. “And certainly I didn’t approve the ads, but I don’t have a problem with a word that’s in ‘em, and I think their message reflects what was going on on the ground in Mississippi in the primary and the runoff,” Barbour said.
On Wednesday, the City of Cleveland and ArcelorMittal melted down more than than 270 guns that were surrendered at the 2014 City of Cleveland Gun buyback last September.
“This gun melt will take guns surrendered by their owners, recycle them into steel, and prevent them from ever being used in an act of violence,” said Mayor Frank G. Jackson. “I’d like to thank ArcelorMittal for being a good partner in the City’s efforts to improve safety and reduce gun violence.”
ArcelorMittal Cleveland Vice President and General Manager Eric Hauge said the company was proud to partner with the city, the Cleveland Police Foundation, and others to support the gun buyback program.
“We are pleased to melt down the collected weapons and recycle them into consumer goods that improve the quality of all our lives,” Hauge said. “The guns we melt will be transformed from weapons into washing machines, car parts, refrigerators and other steel products.”
According to the Cleveland City Hall blog, “The guns were placed into the No. 1 Basic Oxygen Furnace iron ladle and will be melted by approximately 200 tons of molten iron, at temperatures of about 2,400 degrees Fahrenheit. The molten iron, along with scrap, is then charged in the basic oxygen furnace to make steel, which will eventually be used to manufacture cars, household appliances, and other goods.”
ArcelorMittal destroys the guns as a “free community service,” the City of Cleveland said.
At the time of the September buyback, Ohioans for Concealed Carry said that such programs are a way to appear to be doing something while disarming people who might otherwise be able to defend themselves. “Criminals don’t turn in their guns. At least, not working firearms, anyway,” the group wrote in a blog post.” The group scoffed at the notion of a “so called gun buy-back … as if they ever owned the guns [and] were in a position to buy them back.”
In exchange for a working handgun or semi-automatic rifle, individuals received either a $100 or $200 Target gift card or a gift card for gas or food, as well as two tickets to a local sporting event. Gun rights advocates stood on a street corner a block away from the buy-back and offered cash for anyone who wanted to consider a better offer for their gun.
The three female Marine officers who made it through the grueling first exercise of Infantry Officer Course at the start of October were asked to leave after falling out of two hikes, Marine Corps officials said this week.
The second lieutenant and two captains were dropped from the 13-week course held aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, about two weeks after it began. The Marines got further in the course than any other women since IOC opened to female volunteers on an experimental basis in late 2012. Only one other female officer has gotten past the notoriously difficult combat endurance test that kicks off the course; she was forced to drop out about a week later due to stress fractures in her foot.
Capt. Maureen Krebs, a spokeswoman for Headquarters Marine Corps, said the three officers were dropped from the course after failing to keep up on two long hikes while carrying a load of up to 120 pounds. The load represents a day’s meals, clothing, supplies and assault gear for a 20-mile march into combat, according to Krebs.
Infantry officers are required to maintain a pace of 24.8 miles in eight hours, or approximately three miles per hour, carrying their approach-march loads. Marines who fall more than 100 meters behind the unit and are unable to catch up are taken the remainder of the distance in a vehicle.
“The big thing in this is, they’re expected to lead that tactical movement as an infantry officer,” Krebs said.
During the training, units took two marches, one seven-mile march at Quantico followed by a nine-mile march the following week.
“Three men and three women failed to complete those two tactical movements,” Krebs said. They were all asked to leave the Infantry Officer Course (IOC).
This course was the first since the Marines began to allow female officers to volunteer for the IOC. The change came as a result of the Department of Defense ordering the Marine Corp to collect data on women in combat fields ahead of a 2016 deadline to make a decision on opening these fields to women. The goal is to find ways to integrate women into combat roles without lowering standards.
According to a report out this month from the Center for Military Readiness, “Researchers are finding this difficult (actually, impossible) to do, owing to naturally-occurring physical differences that make men significantly stronger. Androgenic hormones that are not going to change account for greater muscle power and aerobic capacity for endurance.”
Some of the findings of the Center for Military Readiness interim report show significant gender-related differences in physical strength. In 2013, the USMC Training and Education Command (TECOM) studied data from 409 male and 379 female volunteers, finding significant gender-related disparities on the Physical and Combat Fitness Tests (PFT and CFT) in events measuring upper-body strength and endurance, things that are essential for survival and mission success in direct ground combat, according to the report. The study found:
“Aaron Lewis Screws Up National Anthem At World Series Game,” the Huffington Post headline read.
Mediaite said that Lewis “bollocksed up the National Anthem before Sunday evening’s World Series game. Lewis has DON’T TREAD ON ME tattooed on his neck, in case you were in the market for a handy political metaphor.”
Twitter was also abuzz with criticism of the lead singer of the rock group, Staind.
aaron Lewis pleaseeee for your own good take a seat.
— Grace Gronberg (@Gee_Race_Gee) October 26, 2014
Eric Burke, a reporter at Fox 4 in Kansas City tweeted:
— Eric Burke (@Fox4eb) October 26, 2014
MLB Yahoo! sports columnist Jeff Passan also brought up the prominent tattoo on Lewis’ neck.
For someone who has DON'T TREAD ON ME tattooed on his neck, Aaron Lewis might want to learn his national anthem before he tries it again.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) October 27, 2014
Deadspin was a little less tactful: “World Series National Anthem Botched By That A**hole From Staind, said their headline. ”This is Aaron Lewis of the shi**y noise band Staind, and don’t ask us why he’s singing in San Francisco tonight because Staind is from Massachusetts,” Deadspin complained. “Huey Lewis is still available, jerks, and he knows the words.”
— Rachael Starke (@rachaelstarke) October 27, 2014
After she was widely criticized for her gleeful enjoyment of Bristol Palin’s tearful statement to police after a man she did not know came out of nowhere, pushed her down, and dragged her by her feet across the lawn, CNN’s Carol Costello apologized for her joking about the attack.
Earlier in the week Costellos told CNN viewers, “Okay. I’m just going to come right out and say it. This is quite possibly the best minute and a half of audio we’ve ever come across – well, come across in a long time anyway.” She went on to describe a “massive brawl in Anchorage, Alaska reportedly involving Sarah Palin’s kids and her husband.” Costello said, “So sit back and enjoy!”
Costello also teased the clip of Bristol Palin’s post-assault report to police the same way on her Twitter feed:
— Carol Costello (@CarolCNN) October 22, 2014
On the police tape, Bristol described what happened to police. “Some guy gets in my face. Pushes me down on the grass. Drags me across the grass. You (expletive), you (expletive), you (expletive) you (expletive). I get back up. He pushes me down on the grass again and pulls me by my (expletive) feet.”
Costello said after playing the clip, “I think that long beep was my favorite part.”
Only in liberal-feminist-double-standard world is there a “best part” of an account of a woman describing her assault to police.
After the backlash over Costello’s grossly, inappropriate comments and slobbering joy over a young woman’s assault, she issued a token apology to Palin for joking about the attack.
But actually, Costello didn’t apologize “to” Palin and she didn’t actually say she was sorry for joking about the “attack.” Instead, she took the opportunity to throw another punch at Bristol and the Palins with her perfunctory apology via Politico:
Over the past few days I have been roundly criticized for joking about a brawl involving the Palin family. In retrospect, I deserve such criticism and would like to apologize.
To whom is she apologizing? Not Bristol, or the Palins, it seems. Once more, Costello casts aspersions on the family by characterizing the attack as a “brawl involving the Palin family,” not acknowledging that Bristol was assaulted. And the majority of CNN’s viewers don’t read Dylan Byers in POLITICO, so they’ll never even see the so-called apology. They’re left with the cackling image of Costello (and by extension, CNN) salivating over a young woman’s assault because Costello has refused to apologize on the air. True soldiers in the War on Women, all of them.
Bristol Palin, like her mother, is no shrinking violet. She called out the media hypocrisy in an article at Patheos.
The Missouri Torch reports that Democrat state Representative Ed Schieffer, a candidate for the Missouri state Senate, met with the Lincoln County Tea Party this week to ease any fears they might have that he would be taking orders from President Obama:
My biggest enemy in my election is not Jeanie Riddle. My biggest enemy is the President of the United States. My great, educated father knew that. He said, “Eddie, you don’t have to worry too much about the lady running against you. You need to worry about the liberal, overly liberal, President and Congress we have. That’s what you have to worry about.”
Almost sounds like you’re not talking to a Democrat, doesn’t it?
Unfortunately, the president gave away the game when he explained to Al Sharpton’s radio listeners how this whole election season conversion switcheroo works:
The bottom line is, though, these are all folks who vote with me; they have supported my agenda in Congress. So this isn’t about my feelings being hurt. These are folks who are strong allies and supporters of me…I tell them…you do what you need to do to win. I will be responsible for making sure that our voters turn out.
Though Mr. Schieffer won’t get a vote in Congress in the upcoming term, only time will tell if he goes back to sounding — and voting — like an Obama Democrat if he’s elected to the Missouri state senate.
The woman who voted next to President Barack Obama on Monday says she was “embarrassed and just shocked,” after her fiancé jokingly told him “Mr. President, don’t touch my girlfriend.”
Casting his ballot in Chicago on Monday, Obama stood at a voting booth next to Aia Cooper, whose fiancé, Mike Jones, decided to crack wise with the president, which prompted Obama to reply with “I really wasn’t planning on it,” before adding that Jones was “an example of a brother just embarrassing you for no reason.”
In an interview with CNN’s Brooke Baldwin Tuesday afternoon, Cooper said she was “embarrassed and just shocked” after hearing her fiancé comments. “I was just shaking,” she said.
CNN reported that Obama “got back at Jones” when he finished voting, “with a hug and a kiss for his fiancée.”
“On the cheek, just the cheek — please, Michelle, don’t come after me — just the cheek!” Cooper told CNN affiliate WLS-TV after voting.
“Now, he’s really jealous,” Obama told Cooper.
All these years we thought ogling the women was supposed to be Joe Biden’s gig.
If this was just a one-off, we might be tempted to ignore it because ISIS is advancing, midterm elections are right around the corner, and everyone is stockpiling hand sanitizer and hazmat suits in the event of an Ebola outbreak in their area. But this wasn’t a one-off.
Which brings us to the second presidential kissing incident.
Last week when talking about the potential of an Ebola epidemic in the United States, President Obama tried to reassure the folks by saying that he had visited the hospital in Atlanta where Ebola patient Amber Vinson was being treated.
“I shook hands with, hugged, and kissed, not the doctors, but a couple of the nurses at Emory because of the valiant work that they did,” Obama said. “In treating one of the patients, they followed the protocols, they knew what they were doing, and I felt perfectly safe doing so.”
Before we move on to the kissing part, it’s worth mentioning that Obama was not actually at Emory when Amber Vincent was being treated there. In fact, he visited on September 16, a full 26 days after the second American missionary being treated for Ebola had been discharged from the hospital and nearly a week after any medical personnel who had treated her would have been at risk of contracting the deadly disease.
Besides the fact that Obama went out of his way to say that he kissed only the nurses and not the doctors (is that sexist or homophobic or both?), the whole notion of the president bragging about kissing people while talking about a deadly infectious virus seems not only ill-advised, but very strange.
Have you been to a hospital lately? Nobody should be kissing anybody there. Everywhere you look there are vats of hand sanitizer and warnings about washing hands and disinfection protocols. The places are crawling with germs — staph infections, MRSA, C. diff and, especially this time of year, the flu.
On Saturday the Ohio Department of Health ordered travel restrictions for those who are being monitored for the Ebola virus.
The new Ebola protocols include the following:
- Ohioans required to have a public health official monitor their health condition daily would be prohibited from leaving their health department’s jurisdiction unless the health department jurisdiction to which they are travelling agrees to assume that daily monitoring responsibility. If that agreement is not reached, the individual cannot travel and must keep their daily monitoring appointments in their home health department jurisdiction.
- Ohioans under self-monitoring and reporting requirements cannot leave the United States due to the inability to track them down in the event they fail to meet their daily reporting requirements.
The state issued the new protocols for local health jurisdictions to implement after learning that some residents being monitored had travel plans, said Scott Milburn, a spokesman for Ohio Governor John Kasich. Counties that include Cleveland and Akron have begun notifying affected residents of the restrictions, Milburn said.
“Ohio is in the situation it is in because of travel,” Milburn said. “It would have been beneficial if Texas had taken similar steps to these two weeks ago.” If individuals don’t voluntarily comply with the recommended restrictions, the state could consider quarantining them, Milburn said.
“As we’ve seen, travel is a potential problem. It’s why the people of Ohio are dealing with the situation we have right now. We don’t want to take the slightest chance for this disease to potentially spread, we don’t want people in other places to have to deal with what we’re dealing with and we don’t want potentially sick Ohioans to go beyond the reach of the good care we know we have here at home in the unlikely event that they get sick,” said Dr. Mary DiOrio, state epidemiologist and interim chief of the ODH Bureau of Prevention and Health Promotion. “We’re taking an aggressive approach, no doubt about it, but it’s just common sense. Some might criticize us for being too aggressive, but we’re comfortable taking that criticism.”
Officials at the Centers for Disease Control now say that Amber Vinson, the nurse who contracted the Ebola virus in a Dallas hospital, may have exhibited symptoms earlier than originally reported.
During a press conference in Summit County on Thursday, Dr. Chris Braden with the CDC said, “We can’t rule out that she might have had the start of her illness on Friday.” He said the CDC received new information today that gives them reason to include Vinson’s flight from Dallas to Cleveland on Friday, October 10, in their investigation.
“This new information now is saying that we need to go back now to the flight that she took on Friday the 10th and include them in our investigation,” Braden told reporters on Thursday afternoon. “We’re talking with many people who may have been around her and talking with her when we can,” he said, adding that Vinson is “not very well” at this time so investigators need to be judicious in questioning her.
Braden said it is difficult to identify exactly when her symptoms began because they were not typical for the Ebola virus. “She didn’t have a fever — even when she presented for evaluation and was diagnosed — that reaches the cut-off,” he said. “That makes it a little bit hard to go back and say, ‘Well, if she had some comments that she was feeling funny, does that count?’” He said it is difficult to make such judgements when gathering information about public health decisions. CDC Director Thomas Frieden told Congress on Thursday that his agency gave Vinson permission to fly because her temperature did not reach the cut-off.
“We’re always getting more information and learning, which is why you may see a change in the context that we’ve identified,” Braden said.
He also said that passengers on the flight from Dallas to Cleveland will now be “included in the investigation.”
During press conferences in Cleveland and Akron on Wednesday, officials gave conflicting dates for when Vinson arrived in Cleveland. The Cleveland Department of Public Health said she flew on Wednesday, the 8th. Other officials said she flew into Cleveland on Friday, the 10th. Dr. Margo Erme from the Summit County Public Health Department said they were not sure about the timeline. “We have gotten conflicting dates too, so we are actually looking at getting the manifest from the airline to actually confirm that because we have actually heard both.”
In addition to the quarantine of Vinson’s stepfather’s home, the Ebola “scare” has caused a variety of closings and disruptions in the area. Several Cleveland-area school were closed this week for cleaning after a teacher and a student reported they were on the flight with Vinson from Cleveland to Dallas. Two village halls also closed for the same reason. Several area hospitals put nurses who were on the Frontier Airline flight on paid leave as a precaution and Sherwin-Williams announced that three employees who work at the headquarters in Cleveland will be working from home until it can be determined that they are not infected with the Ebola virus.
UPDATE: Kent State has just released an updated statement saying that Amber Vinson ”is related to three Kent State employees.” The statement does not say whether Vinson had contact with the family members or whether they were on campus after having contact with her (though it is worth noting what they didn’t say). “It’s important to note that the patient was not on the Kent State campus,” said Kent State President Beverly Warren. “She stayed with her family at their home in Summit County and did not step foot on our campus.”
During a press conference in Cleveland to discuss the Ebola-infected nurse who traveled on Frontier Airlines to Cleveland, Toinette Parrilla, director of the Cleveland Department of Public Health, said her office initially received incorrect information about when exactly the nurse was in the area. Parrilla said Amber Joy Vinson “arrived in Cleveland on the 8th. She departed from Cleveland on the 13th.” It was originally reported that Vinson, who has since tested positive for the Ebola virus, arrived on Friday the 10th.
However, Dr. Margo Erme from the Summit County Public Health said in an Akron press conference later in the afternoon that they’re not sure about the timeline. “We have gotten conflicting dates too, so we are actually looking at getting the manifest from the airline to actually confirm that because we have actually heard both.” She said her department is in the process of interviewing family members in Tallmadge, where they believe Vinson spent time. According to Erme, Vinson was “quite ill” when she went to the hospital and may be having trouble remembering details about her movements before she began to exhibit symptoms.
“The health care worker is still in Dallas,” Erme said, “we cannot speak to her.” She added, “We look at family that has gone down to Dallas as well.” She did not elaborate about movements of family members who may have had contact with Vinson except to say that “We have one person that self-quarantined yesterday when the family had gotten information that their family member had developed symptoms.” Erme said the quarantine is voluntary and added, “Right now there is no risk to the public.”
“We’re still working to be sure we understand the whole timeline,” said Mary Diorio from the Ohio Department of Health.
Dr. Erme also noted that Summit County did not learn about the new infection until 10 a.m. — four hours after Cleveland authorities were notified.
Mary Diorio from the Ohio Department of Health said she was notified by the CDC earlier today and then contacted Summit County.
Vinson was visiting her mother and her mother’s fiance in the Akron area in anticipation of her mother’s wedding. Rumors were circulating on social media about whether Vinson, A Kent State graduate, visited the university campus. Dr. Erme said Vinson had not been on campus but could not confirm that other families had not. Asked if Vinson had family members who worked at Kent State, Erme said, “We do not have any information that she visited Kent State, however we are waiting for information from Texas” about family members she had been in contact with. As a result, the university is taking precautions. “Out of an abundance of caution, we’re asking the patient’s family members to remain off campus for the next 21 days and self-monitor per CDC protocol,” said Dr. Angela DeJulius, director of University Health Services at Kent State.
At the Cleveland press conference Toinette Parrilla encouraged the public to remain calm. “If you do not have direct contact [with blood or bodily fluids] you are not at risk. Bodily fluids could include saliva, sweat, and semen, she said. In addition to the plane, the jetway, the hold area, and the restrooms in Concourse A are being cleaned. “We don’t know what she touched,” Parrilla said.
Cleveland Assistant Director of Public Safety, Ed Eckart, said the city is using a “surveillance traffic tool” that will be attached to every 9/11 call. Dispatchers will ask about potential Ebola symptoms and whether callers may have been exposed to the Ebola virus so that first responders can be notified. Eckart said this process would not slow down response times.
Ricky Smith, Director of Port Control said the airport is not introducing new workplace emergency response efforts at this time. “At this point we have no reason to believe those facilities are infected,” he said. ”Our custodial service workers are equipped with gloves and a uniform” to protect themselves from infectious diseases.
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said, “We’re on top of it and moving in a systematic way.”
Newsnet5 is reporting that some employees and passengers at Cleveland Airport are wearing surgical masks today as a precaution and gate agents at Frontier Airlines are wearing protective gloves.
Within hours of a fatal police shooting of an 18-year-old man, who police say fired three shots at an officer Wednesday night, angry and distraught protesters were in the streets of St. Louis demanding justice for Vonderrit Myers.
At least that’s how most of the news reports on Thursday will explain it.
But was it really an organic, take-to-the streets protest, the result of genuine grief and anger? Or was it the result of professional agitators who take advantage of these opportunities to promote their agendas? As it turns out, it was some of both.
There were several livestream feeds that popped up almost immediately after the shooting was reported, and they documented the anatomy of these modern protests. If you happened to tune in during the night, you saw a bizarre mix of south St. Louis residents, trained Occupy protesters (some of whom claimed to be veterans of Occupy Oakland), masked anarchists, and people who seemed like they just saw a line and thought the only sensible thing to do was to get in it.
At times the atmosphere was festive. People were singing, mugging for the camera, dancing. Those folks didn’t seem especially upset about the death of Vonderrit Myers, but looked like they were making the most of the gathering and they were having fun socializing. Others were professional protesters. They talked about the uprising in Hong Kong and complained about Monsanto, Ferguson, the greedy corporations, and a whole list of other grievances they thought people should really, really care about. A few pitched their own upcoming protests for their very important causes. Many of them came prepared with gas masks.
There were green-hatted legal observers on hand with clipboards to make sure the police didn’t make any mistakes, a couple of guys in Spider-Man masks, and a few young men wearing ISIS-style head coverings. There were also some (obviously high) blonde kids with black hoodies who were sexually harassing female police officers and there was a group of hipsters in skinny jeans that didn’t seem to belong, except that they were well-versed in direct action protest protocol.
One man, who said he is with the African American Defense League (associated with the Black Panthers), said the time for peaceful protests is over. “They kill us, we gotta kill them back. F**k the march sh**!” he said. He also wanted everyone to know that if you have any melanin in your skin, there is no cure for ebola (because only black people have melanin or something). “Ebola’s got a cure for only white people,” he said, “You type it into google and you’ll see.”
Occasionally a group of what seemed to be genuine, local protesters would chant slogans about the evil cops and how they’re hunting black kids in the streets. Every time they’d see a cop they’d chant “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” or “Give us our sh** or we gonna shut this sh** down!”
One veteran has been waiting 23 years to have his claim adjudicated by the VA Cleveland Regional Office and the average appeals claim at that office has been pending for more than 400 days according to Congressman Jim Renacci (R-OH), who met with Director Anthony Milons Sr. and several Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) to discuss the appeals process and the backlog of appeals.
“Several veterans living in Ohio’s 16th District have expressed concerns about the appeals backlog that continues to grow in Cleveland,” said Renacci. ”According to the VA Cleveland Regional Office, the average appeals claim has been pending for more than 400 days. This is unacceptable.”
Currently, there are only five decision review officers at the VA Cleveland Regional Office who are tasked with wading through nearly 12,000 backlogged appeal claims. Despite the fact that there are more appeals pending in Cleveland than new claims, the decision was made to transfer 13 decision review officers to initial claims processing, compounding the problem of backlogged appeals.
“It is critical that Director Milons takes the appropriate steps to develop and implement an efficient and effective process to eliminate the backlog. Veterans have given up so much to serve our country, it is our responsibility to ensure that they receive the benefits they have earned once they return home,” said Renacci.
Renacci said that while he was proud to work with Congress on the bipartisan Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act that was designed to bring reform and accountability to the VA, he said there is much more that needs to be done.
St. Ignatius High School, a private Jesuit school for young men in Cleveland, withdrew from the National School Lunch Program this year in order to go “above and beyond” the federal standards.
Chris Rini writes in the St. Ignatius school newspaper:
In a typical school cafeteria, the norm is to meet all governmental requirements and restrictions while still providing some decent food. However, Campus Dining, led by [John] Pietravoia, has decided to go above and beyond that standard. In fact, this year, for the first time, Saint Ignatius has gone off of the federally funded National School Lunch Program, which means that campus dining is able to serve what they wish in our cafeteria without having to purchase frozen and processed products. In other words, campus dining is spending more time and money to give students better-tasting, higher quality, and healthier eats.
The $14,300 per year private school, which serves around 1500 students (some of whom attend through the Cleveland school voucher program), is known for high academic standards — 99% of the school’s students attend a 4-year college after graduation. Students at the school in Cleveland’s historic Ohio City neighborhood complained last year about federally mandated price increases on school lunches. “This mandate, contrary to what one might expect as gas prices are rising, is the only reason for the price hike midway through the year,” the school paper reported last year. Pietravoia said it was the first time in his seventeen years at the school that there has been a mandatory price increase.
Pietravoia said that leaving the federal school lunch program will give students — the customers — more choices. “I believe the customer has a right to make a choice,” he said.
Now students can look forward to a menu that includes a Chipotle-style burrito bar featuring healthy burritos made with all natural, local ingredients. The burrito bar will serve subs once a week and students can enjoy a caffeine-free, vitamin-enriched Monster with their burritos or subs. The cafeteria will also serve pizza on traditional white crust and a “Riche burger,” made from antibiotic- and hormone-free hamburger produced locally. Pesticide-free salad ingredients will also come from local farms and the school’s “famous” clam chowder will be served every Friday.
“We’re keeping our standards very high for local sustainability; pesticide-, hormone-, antibiotic-free products, healthy choices, and good food,” said Pietravoia.
Schools participating in the National School Lunch program are subsidized by the federal government for lunches provided to students at participating schools. They receive $2.93 and $2.53 for free and reduced lunches respectively and $0.28 for each lunch sold at full price. First Lady Michelle Obama unveiled new standards for school meals last year as part of her Let’s Move! campaign. The mandates were signed into law by President Obama and include reducing the calorie counts in school lunches as well as trans fats, saturated fats, and sodium, while increasing whole grains, fruits, and vegetables in the meals. Schools that have menus in compliance with the updated program meal requirements receive an additional six cents of federal cash reimbursement for each meal served.
Obama came on the scoreboard and unanimous "boo" went through the stadium #spartyon
— Jake Wasko (@jake_wasko) October 5, 2014
Most interesting MSU student section cheer today? booed loudly when Obama was shown on video board.
— Kelly Weber (@StateLady) October 5, 2014
According to reports on Twitter and from several individuals who called into the Rush Limbaugh Show on Monday, President Obama was enthusiastically booed when he appeared in a public service announcement shown on the scoreboard video screen at Michigan State University during Saturday’s football game against Nebraska.
The “It’s On Us” PSA, which features a parade of celebrities in addition to the president and Vice President Biden, was designed “to fundamentally shift the way we think about sexual assault, by inspiring everyone to see it as their responsibility to do something, big or small, to prevent it,” according to a White House press release. The campaign was launched in partnership with the Center for American Progress’ Generation Progress and students from nearly 200 colleges and universities across the country. The NCAA has agreed to assist the White House through ”resources on NCAA.org; coverage of the campaign in its award-winning quarterly magazine, Champion; activities during the National Week of Action in November; and a half-day session on sexual assault and violence prevention at the Association’s annual convention in January.” The NCAA also agreed to show the PSAs at NCAA championship events and on social media.
The student section started the booing when President Obama’s face appeared on the screen at the end of the video. They were joined by others in the stadium.
Never been more proud to be a Spartan when the Student Section boo'd Obama.
— Sam Willis (@CarmelChewy) October 5, 2014
Obama just came on the screen and the whole stadium booed.. Lol
— Hope (@HopeAutumn10) October 5, 2014
Everyone booing Obama at spartan stadium was one of the best things that has ever happened
— Shannon Lizotte (@shannon_lizotte) October 5, 2014
See the video Michigan State fans booed on the next page:
“You are one BAD person…shame on you…triple exclamation point,” Rep. Steve King reads from a tweet in a new campaign ad. “That’s love,” the Iowa congressman snickers.
“Your the problem we have to fix,” says another tweet. “Your the problem … Y-O-U-R…Your the problem. Your illiterate. Your rhymes with Common Core, which is where your education must have come from,” quips King, zinging the increasingly unpopular nationalized education standards and warming the hearts of grammar cops everywhere.
King’s wife, Marilyn, joined him in reading several tweets. “You are a sad excuse for a human being.” Mrs. King looked at her husband and said, “I’ve been saying that for years!” The couple, parents of three children, burst into laughter.
The ad shows a warm, fuzzy side of the congressman who is known for his brash style and blunt rhetoric.
King, a six-term incumbent, faces Democrat Jim Mowrer in a race for Iowa’s 4th congressional district seat in November. A September Loras College poll showed King leading his Democratic challenger 47.3 percent to 36 percent with nearly 20 percent of voters undecided.
The good news is that Ohio saw a reduction in medical costs for prison inmates in FY 2014. The bad news is that the cost reduction was a result of cost-shifting smoke and mirrors as inmates in Ohio prisons were moved onto the federal dole after Republican Governor John Kasich signed the state up for ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion program. The worse news is that the most vulnerable in Ohio and other states that have expanded Medicaid — including at least six states that have included prison populations in their expansion — will bear the brunt of burgeoning Medicaid rolls during a time of shrinking state budgets.
The Ohio Legislative Services Commission (LSC) reports that the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC) saw a reduction of $10.3 million in medical service expenditures “as a result of implementing Medicaid coverage for inmate hospitalizations.” According to the LSC, the bulk of the reduction comes in the form of a net savings to the state “since the federal government reimburses the state for the majority of Medicaid expenditures.” Beginning March 17, 2014, Medicaid coverage was extended to nearly all Ohio inmates. Prior to that Medicaid covered only inmates who were either under the age of 21, over 65, or pregnant and who were hospitalized for more than 24 hours.
For inmates and others who became eligible for Medicaid through the ACA (including those with incomes up to 133 percent of the poverty level, or nearly $32,000 for a family of four), the federal government will pay 100% of the costs through calendar years 2016. For inmates and others in Ohio who were eligible for Medicaid pre-expansion, the federal government only pays around 64%, leaving the state to pick up the balance.
Policy experts say this creates a perverse incentive for the state to add inmates, able-bodied adults, and those who refuse to work to the Medicaid rolls at the expense of the most vulnerable populations. According to a report from the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA),
Able-bodied, working-age adults; almost all of whom (82 percent) have no children to support, nearly half of whom (45 percent) do not work, many of whom (35 percent) with a record of run-ins with the criminal justice system. ObamaCare has picked this population as the winner of its Medicaid expansion. The losers? Low-income children, poor moms, the elderly, the blind, the disabled. The very people Medicaid was created to protect. And what do these ObamaCare losers have in store for them? States that previously expanded Medicaid had to eliminate coverage for life-saving organ transplants, overload waitlists for services, cap enrollment and raise patient costs, all because promises were broken and costs exceeded projections.
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is urging employers to consider the results of tests given to students during their junior year of high school when making hiring decisions. The Michigan Work Ready Community Initiative encourages employers to use the National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) and ACT “WorkKeys” tests to evalutate potential employees for career suitability.
“The Michigan Work Ready Communities Initiative is another step in improving the quality of the workforce in Michigan,” said Snyder in a presentation with Michigan employers and business leaders.
The program’s supporters say that thousands of high-tech jobs are going unfilled in Michigan. Snyder thinks employers can use the test data to identify which employees are best suited for advancement and said the program can solve the “talent disconnect” that has developed in the state. “This is the No. 1 item we need to work on,” the Republican governor said.
“This program is the right move for our state,” Snyder said. “It provides a universal system of assessing workers’ skills and abilities for employers, as well as promoting workers’ development and improvement.”
ACT, the college admission testing company that developed WorkKeys, describes them this way:
ACT WorkKeys is a job skills assessment system that helps employers select, hire, train, develop, and retain a high-performance workforce. This series of tests measures foundational and soft skills and offers specialized assessments to target institutional needs.
Students who successfully complete the ACT WorkKeys assessments in Applied Mathematics, Locating Information, and Reading for Information can earn ACT’s National Career Readiness Certificate (ACT NCRC), a portable credential that employers can use to assess potential employees.
ACT played a leading role in the development of the Common Core State Standards, which emphasize “college and career readiness.” Now, they will report the data they collect on every Michigan public school junior to potential employers in order to fill a pipeline for “high-tech” workers.
Questions remain about whether schools will modify their curriculum to reflect the business community’s need for “high-tech” jobs. Some parents are concerned that schools will be transformed into state-sponsored job training programs, since very specific skills will still be needed to solve the problem of unfilled high-tech jobs.
Other parents are concerned about students who don’t test well or that a poor score on a single, high-stakes test could disqualify an individual from future employment. There are also complaints about data collection and privacy related to the mandatory tests.
On Monday, Take Part Live host Meghan McCain shared her brilliant plan for tricking Republican voters into jumping on the climate change bandwagon. “Republicans are the demographic…that primarily don’t believe in climate change,” McCain began.
She didn’t define what it means to “believe in climate change” and didn’t acknowledge that most Republicans don’t actually deny that the climate changes, they mostly only disagree with how much of the change humans are responsible for and whether government intervention can influence the weather.
Nevertheless, McCain continued down the road that Republicans are climate deniers. “I do watch Fox News at night on occasion — and a lot of the time you see people throwing around climate change…like… ‘Of course climate change isn’t real! This is just a liberal issue!’”
She then shared her ingenious solution for dragging the Republican Neanderthals over to the right side of science. “I think this is a cultural issue,” McCain said. “It’s … like … two cultures in America clashing against each other and it’s not even about climate change anymore. It’s about … this is a Republican issue and this is a Democrat issue.”
“I just think if we make this more accessible to people and turn this into a cultural issue,” she continued, “Meaning, Republicans, you’re not going to be able to hunt and fish as much — which I love doing — if there is no f***ing fish to get, you know?”
“We need to educate them on facts and why this is important to them and literally, the survivial of our grandchildren. Calling people idiots isn’t productive,” McCain concluded.
Co-host Jacob Soboroff agreed with Meghan’s plan for educating the ignorant Republican masses: “Put this sh*t on a beta tape or on a DVD and send it to all the Republicans without Internet!”
McCain (who had just finished saying that calling people idiots isn’t productive) chuckled at Soboroff’s dig at Republican knuckle-draggers.
Watch the video on the next page.
A New Jersey family was stunned to receive a notice from local school officials ordering them to follow the Common Core standards after they withdrew their son from public school.
After withdrawing their son from Westfield Public Schools, a homeschool family was surprised when the assistant superintendent sent them a copy of the school’s homeschool policy and asked them to call him.
Their surprise turned to shock when they saw that the policy required them to submit a letter of intent and an outline of their curriculum which (per the policy) must follow New Jersey Common Core content standards, and then wait for the superintendent to approve their curriculum and give them permission to homeschool.
HSLDA Senior Counsel Scott Woodruff wrote the assistant superintendent on behalf of the family, pointing out that the policy conflicted with current New Jersey Department of Education home education policy. Local boards of education are not authorized to review or approve the curriculum or education programs of children educated at home in New Jersey or to monitor the educational outcomes. In fact, unless a parent is withdrawing a child from public school, New Jersey parents are not even required to notify state or local officials of their decision to homeschool.
In this case, however, the parents withdrew their child from school, which triggered a response from the school district. The assistant superintendent demanded a letter of intent to homeschool from the parents, an outline of the curriculum they planned to use, and ordered them to comply with the Common Core standards. After being contacted by HSLDA the superintendent backed off on demands that the family follow the district policy. Instead, the superintendent told them their curriculum merely “should be guided by the New Jersey Common Core State Standards.” HSLDA attorney Scott Woodruff wrote back and explained that “homeschool families have no obligation to follow or be guided by common core standards.”
While nothing in New Jersey law requires parents to have their curriculum approved by school officials, compliance with Common Core is a murky area of the law.
New Jersey Law N.J.S.A. 18A:38-25 requires that “every parent, guardian or other person having custody and control of a child between six and 16 to ensure that such child regularly attends the public schools of the district or a day school in which there is given instruction equivalent to that provided in the public schools for children of similar grades and attainments or to receive equivalent instruction elsewhere than at school.” [emphasis added]
The legislature gives no specific definition of “equivalent instruction.” But there is nothing specifically in the law that would exempt homeschooling parents from having to provide an education the state considers to be”equivalent” to the Common Core standards.
New Jersey is not the only state that requires equivalent instruction. Connecticut, Indiana, Nevada, and New York homeschooling laws all have language that requires some form of equivalent instruction or equivalent education that states could use to require parents to align their curriculum with Common Core standards. In some states, homeschools must register as private schools and may also be subject to Common Core mandates.
Other states, like Ohio, provide protections from Common Core and other mandates because authorities are specifically prohibited from interfering with the curriculum decisions of parents. Nevertheless, as tests like the SAT and Advanced Placement exams are aligned to the Common Core, even homeschools may not be able to avoid teaching to the new standards as they become more and more embedded in the nation’s educational system.
Teachers in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, have issued notice they will strike beginning Friday, September 19, after they were unable to agree on terms of a new contract with the Reynoldsburg Board of Education. Teachers objected to provisions in the school board’s offer relating to merit pay, class size, and being forced to trade in their Cadillac health care plans for Obamacare. According to the Reynoldsburg Education Association:
This was a fight that was picked intentionally and with a purpose. The board’s first proposal, which they posted publicly on their website, was an appalling list of concessions and corporate reforms; the end of a traditional salary schedule to be replaced by merit pay without defined criteria for obtaining it, the end of traditional employer health insurance by shifting all employees to the Affordable Care Act, no language on class size, planning time to be spent in meetings rather than teacher self-directed planning time… [emphasis added]
The school board says it wants to give cash payments to teachers to buy their own health insurance on the “new state insurance market.” Ohio did not set up a state exchange which means teachers would need to purchase their insurance through the federal exchange under this plan.
The school board explained on their website, “The administration believes teachers individually will do a better job of acquiring coverage that suits their specific needs than the District does with its one-size-fits-all approach.” Under the current contract, teachers pay $75.00 per month for an individual plan ($155/family) with a $1400 out-of-pocket maximum per year ($2800/family).
The board went on to explain that this new scheme is more fair to single teachers, whose “personal lifestyle decisions” mean their health insurance premiums cost less than married teachers. Because all teachers would receive the same payment, single teachers would no longer have to subsidize families, according to the board’s reasoning.
Reynoldsburg Education Association spokesman Gina Daniels said the district’s proposal to eliminate group health insurance and pay teachers a cash stipend so they could buy their own health insurance through the exchanges is a sticking point in the negotiations.”We are concerned by the loss of group health insurance,” Daniels said. “REA wants Reynoldsburg to be able to attract and retain high-quality teachers and keep morale high. Eliminating group health insurance will not bring in or keep quality teachers in Reynoldsburg.”
Both sides are meeting with a federal mediator today in advance of the midnight strike deadline. Teachers have removed their belongings from classrooms and the school board has begun hiring replacement teachers in anticipation of the impending strike.
A few weeks ago I wrote about Julio Pino, a tenured Kent State professor who openly supports Hamas on his Facebook page and calls for the destruction of Israel. The convert to Islam also wrote, “MESSAGE MY WAY FROM ZION: While we were educating the world your parents and their ancestors were giving BLOW JOBS to apes!! THAT’S A FACT jack!!” and vowed that he would not work with his fellow professors who support Israel saying, “Collaborate with no one who collaborates with Israel, and let her or him know why. I have started with the head of our ‘Religious Studies’ program, who sends student-dupes to Israel every year.”
Kent State did not respond to my request for a comment about the Facebook posts and Adam Hirsh, Assistant Director of Hillel at Kent State declined to comment on the posts, instead referring me to a statement the group made earlier in the month about Dr. Pino’s “repeated hate rhetoric.”
Basically, the incendiary Facebook posts were met with a yawn. Just more bigoted rantings from Kent State’s resident anti-Semitic scholar.
But, oh, the outrage at Kent State this week when Urban Outfitters tried to sell a vintage Kent State sweatshirt that appeared to be blood-spattered! Many students were upset, saying it reminded them of the May 4, 1970 shootings of four students by members of the National Guard. In fact, the Plain Dealer reported that Kent State students were “collectively disgusted” by the shirt.
“I was just appalled,” said Marvin Logan, president of Undergraduate Student Government. “As a member who represents the entire student population, I felt for our community. May 4 is a sensitive topic. It’s a part of our legacy and should not be taken lightly.”
“How could somebody be so insensitive?” asked Jerry Lewis, a professor emeritus of sociology at Kent State who witnessed the Kent State shootings. “Even if you don’t know the parents like I do or you don’t know the wounded students, 13 people were shot protesting, legally protesting. (That) should be enough to make you outraged by the sweatshirt.”
Congressman Tim Ryan, a Democrat who represents Kent, even felt the need to weigh in on the controversial sweatshirts. ”It is deplorable for Urban Outfitters to exploit the pain and suffering of this national tragedy for their gain,” Ryan said in a press release. “May 4th was a seminal and transformational moment in American history and we should never lose sight of its immense impact. Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it,” said Ryan (or was it Santayana?)
Likewise, the university was outraged at the insensitivity of Urban Outfitters. ”We take great offense to a company using our pain for their publicity and profit,” the university said in a statement Monday. “This item is beyond poor taste and trivializes a loss of life that still hurts the Kent State community today.”
Kent State spokesman Eric Mansfield said he has been contacted by media from around the world about the shirts. Urban Outfitters also called to let him know the company was posting an apology on Twitter. “Urban Outfitters sincerely apologizes for any offense our Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt may have caused,” the company posted on Twitter. “It was never our intention to allude to the tragic events that took place at Kent State in 1970 and we are extremely saddened that this item was perceived as such.”
Mindy Farmer, who was leading freshman students through the May 4 Visitor Center as part of their First Year Experience class this week said, ”There was nothing but outrage,” about the sweatshirts. “May 4 was a sad event and we are seeing nothing but support (for the university). They have a sense of history and for that we are grateful.”
Farmer told the Plain Dealer that the Urban Outfitter sweatshirt incident is a teachable moment for students.
“We are the right place to combat ignorance,” she said.
Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder this week demanding that he hand over contact information for a former IRS attorney with ties to Lois Lerner.
Jordan, chairman of the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Job Creation and Regulatory Affairs, said in the letter he is requesting the contact information for former Department of Justice attorney Andrew Strelka. “The department’s efforts to prevent the committee from learning Mr. Strelka’s whereabouts suggest the department has cause for keeping him from speaking with the committee.”
Prior to joining DOJ, Strelka worked for former IRS executive Lois Lerner. He was the recipient of an email that directed him to “[b]e on the look out for a tea party case.” The email went on to say, “If you have received or do receive any case in the future involving an exemption for an organization having to do with tea party, let me know.”
While working at DOJ, Strelka represented the IRS in Z Street v. Koskinen, a civil suit related to the IRS targeting of conservative groups. He was suddenly removed from the case in July after reports surfaced about his time spent working for Lerner. Jordan says it was a “startling conflict of interest” for Strelka to represent the IRS in the case. Strelka maintained a relationship with Lerner following his departure from the IRS and, according to Jordan, “completed a detail in the White House before being mysteriously removed” from the Z Street case.
Strelka’s LinkedIn profile says that he is currently employed at Miller and Chevalier Chartered, a Washington, D.C., law firm. A spokesman for Congressman Jordan told the Columbus Dispatch that the committee tried to contact Strelka through information they found online, but “Mr. Strelka did not respond.”
According to Jordan’s letter, the Justice Department “interjected itself” into the committee’s efforts to contact Strelka and “even chided the Committee for attempting to contact Mr. Strelka directly.”
The Ohio Republican reminded Holder that obstructing a congressional investigation is a crime and “denying or interfering with a federal employee’s rights to furnish information to Congress is against the law.” However, Jordan said he is not surprised, given the Department of Justice’s history of obstruction and obfuscations.
Brian Fallon, a Justice Department spokesman, said in response to Jordan’s request, “As the Chairman’s staff is already aware, the committee’s request to speak with Mr. Strelka is being fielded by the department. The department will be responding to the committee’s request promptly.”
Rep. Jordan is demanding that Holder provide contact information by noon on Friday so the committee can schedule a transcribed interview “directly outside the prejudicial influence of the Justice Department.”
You can’t say it much more clearly than this.
A former Muslim, the son of a Moroccan imam, posted a video this week called “A Message to President Obama From a Former Muslim,” in which he outlines both the dangers and motivations behind radical Islam.
“Brother Rachid,” as he calls himself, says sarcastically that he does not disclose his full name because Islam is “the religion of peace.” He begins, “Dear Mr. President, with all due respect, sir, I must tell you that you are wrong about ISIL.” Rachid explains that his father is an Imam and he spent more than twenty years studying Islam. He said the president was wrong when he said that ISIL speaks for no religion. “I can tell you with confidence that ISIL speaks for Islam,” he said. “Allow me to correct you, Mr. President. ISIL is a Muslim organization.” He noted that even the name suggests ISIL is an Islamic movement.
Brother Rachid, who has said that he converted to Christianity after listening to Trans World Radio broadcasts into Morocco, now preaches Christianity via an Arabic satellite TV program, which is broadcast throughout the Middle East. He explained to President Obama in his video that ISIS’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, holds a PhD in Islamic studies.”I doubt you know Islam better than he does. He was a preacher and an Islamic leader in one of the local mosques in Baghdad. ISIL’s 10,000 members are all Muslims. None of them are from any other religion. They come from different countries and have one common denominator — Islam.”
He said ISIL members are following the prophet Muhammad’s teaching in every detail, imitating him by growing their beards, shaving their moustaches, and in the way they dress. “They implement Sharia in every piece of land they conquer. They pray five times a day. They have called for a Caliphate, which is a central doctrine in Sunni Islam and they are willing to die for their religion,” said Brother Rachid.
In his message to President Obama, Brother Rachid said, “You think ISIL does not speak for Islam because they beheaded an American and they kill those whom they consider infidels.” But he said, “In the same way, Islam’s prophet Muhammad beheaded — in one day — between 600 and 900 adult males in a Jewish tribe called Bani Quraiza. In fact, beheading is commanded in the Koran, in Sura 47, 4th verse it says, ‘When you meet the unbelievers and fight, smite their necks.’” Killing prisoners is also an order from Allah to Muhammad and all Muslims, Brother Rachid said.
“Mr. President,” Brother Rachid continued, “I grew up in Morocco, supposedly a moderate country. Yet I still learned at a young age to hate the enemies of Allah, especially Jews and Christians. These are represented today by Israel and the West, especially the Great Satan, America.” He said, “We have been brainwashed to hate all of you in our sacred texts, in our prayers, in our Friday sermons, in our educational systems. We were ready to join any group that one day would fight you and destroy you and make Islam the religion of the whole world, as the Koran says.”
If Islam is not the problem, Brother Rachid asks, why aren’t Christians in the Middle East — many of whom live in terrible political and economic circumstances — blowing themselves up? Why are Muslims in the West and new converts to Islam joining ISIL, he asks.
Brother Rachid said, “I ask you, Mr. President, to stop being politically correct — to call things by their names. ISIL, al Qaeda, Boko Haram, al-Shabaab in Somalia, the Taliban and their sister brand names are all made in Islam.” He said that unless the Muslim world separates religion from state, the cycle will continue. He told Obama, “Until you deal with the root of the problem, you will be just dealing with the symptoms. ISIL is just one symptom. If it disappears, other ISILs will be born under different names.”
In a video talking about his faith earlier this year, Brother Rachid said that he loves Muslims, including his parents, who don’t share his faith. But, “Islam is an ideology. It’s a set of doctrines. So criticizing those doctrines doesn’t mean I hate them. So we are preaching, actually, the love of Christ for human beings, including Muslims because they need Jesus Christ and they are victims of an evil ideology — Islam.”
Brother Rachid told the president that terrorism must be cut off at the root. “How many Saudi sheiks are preaching hatred? How many Islamic channels are indoctrinating people and teaching them violence from the Koran and the Hadith? How many Friday sermons are made against the West and freedom and Democracy? How many Islamic schools are producing generations of teachers and students who believe in jihad and martyrdom and fighting the infidels? And finally, how many websites are funded by governments — your allies — that have sheiks that issue fatwas against basic human rights? If you want to fight terrorism, start from there,” he said.
Watch Brother Rachid tell President Obama the truth about Islam on the next page.
Ronald Reagan kicked off his general election campaign on September 1, 1980, at Liberty State Park in New Jersey with Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty as his backdrop. The crowd was strategically filled with flag-waving Eastern Europeans who were there to raise Reagan’s profile with blue-collar, ethnic Catholic voters. Though Reagan arrived at the venue wearing a sports jacket and tie, Mrs. Reagan convinced him to discard both because of the extreme heat that day. The result was a tanned, handsome Reagan in a white shirt with the sleeves rolled up and top buttons undone, his hair blowing in the breeze.
Reagan told the crowd he was the first Republican to visit the Democrat stronghold of Hudson County since 1968. “I’m here because it is the home of Democrats, because I believe today that in this country there are millions of Democrats who are just as unhappy with the way things are as all the rest of us are.” The newly minted Reagan Democrats cheered wildly.
Referring to the families who had passed through Ellis Island on their way to freedom Reagan said, “They came to make America work. They didn’t ask what this country could do for them but what they could do to make this refuge the greatest home of freedom in history. They brought with them courage, ambition and the values of family, neighborhood, work, peace, and freedom. ” All came from different lands but shared the same values and the same dream, Reagan said. He added, “Today a president of the United States would have us believe that dream is over or at least in need of change. Jimmy Carter’s administration tells us that the descendants of those who sacrificed to start again in this land of freedom may have to abandon the dream that drew their ancestors to a new life in a new land.”
Reminding the crowd of Carter’s terrible economic record, Reagan vowed he would bring a ”renewed dedication to the dream of an America, an administration that will give that dream new life and make America great again!”
Reagan also promised to care about the needs of workers. “Beginning in January of 1981, American workers will once again be heeded,” Reagan said. “Their needs and values will be acted upon in Washington. I will consult with representatives of organized labor on those matters concerning the welfare of working people of this nation.”
He explained his vision for rebuilding the American economy. “When we talk about tax reduction, when we talk about ending inflation by stopping it where it starts, in Washington, we’re talking about a way to bring labor and management together for America. We’re talking about jobs and productivity and wages. We’re talking about doing away with Jimmy Carter’s view of a no-growth policy, and ever-shrinking economic pie which means smaller slices for everyone of us,” Reagan said. “That’s no answer. We can have a bigger pie and that’ll mean bigger slices for every one of us. And I believe that together — together you and I can bake that bigger pie. We can make that dream that brought so many of us or our parents and grandparents to this land, we can make that dream live once more.”
In contrast, President Obama demanded a higher minimum wage and more “rights” for workers in his Labor Day address this year. Evoking Jimmy Carter’s ever-shrinking economic pie model, Obama lauded the president of Kentucky State University for chopping up his piece of the pie (cutting his salary by $90,000) so it could be redistributed it to lower wage workers at the university.
Watch Reagan’s speech on the next page.
In a wide-ranging press conference immediately following his enthusiastically received speech at Americans for Prosperity’s “Defending the American Dream” conference in Dallas on Saturday, Texas Senator Ted Cruz hinted at what his path to victory might look like should he decide to run for president. Cruz, who has thus far evaded questions about his intentions to seek the Republican nomination, has recently made non-committal statements like “time will tell,” but on Saturday he offered his vision of a Republican path to victory.
Cruz was asked by a reporter at the press conference whether he had any plans to travel to Scranton, since “every successful candidate who’s run for president since FDR has gone through Scranton, Pennsylvania.”
Cruz said that he has never been to Scranton, but took the opportunity to explain how he won his Senate race in Texas and what he thinks Republicans need to do to win the presidency in 2016.
Cruz said that he is a big believer in examining data and metrics. “For those of y’all from Texas, you’ll remember the Senate race we had here.” He said, “It was a $50 million primary where we were outspent 3-1. We had $35 million in attack ads run against us. When you’re being outspent 3-1 you have to run a very data-driven, metric-driven campaign because every dollar you spend, you’ve got to get 3x bang for the buck. You can’t afford to waste a penny.” Sean Theriault, a University of Texas at Austin political scientist, called Cruz “the Barack Obama of 2012,” for his extraordinary success using data and social media in his underdog win over David Dewhurst in the Republican primary. “It is a great case study of using these tools in politics,” Theriault said.
Cruz conceded that the demographic difference between Republicans and Democrats is significant and said Republicans need to do much better in the minority community. “I was proud here in Texas to do much, much better in the Hispanic community than Mitt Romney did.” But he said the biggest difference is not the demographic shift. “The biggest difference is the millions of conservatives who showed up and voted in 2004 that stayed home in 2008 and 2012. And they fall largely into two categories,” said Cruz. “Number one, evangelical Christians — millions of believers who showed up in ‘04 who didn’t show up in ‘08 and ‘12. And number two, going back to your question [about Scranton], the so-called Reagan Democrats.”
Cruz said the Reagan Democrats up and down the Rust Belt (many of them ethnic Catholics) “tend to be blue collar, union members, gun owners, strong national defense.” According to Cruz, Pennsylvania is right in the heart of Reagan Democrat territory and they showed up to vote in 2004 but stayed home in the next two elections. “If you look in the last 50 years, there is only one Republican who has a group of Democrats named after him: Reagan Democrats. If the Washington consultants were right — that the way you bring people out is moving to the mushy middle, standing for nothing, blurring your distinction with the Democrats — then you’d see all sorts of Democrats named after some of the losing Republican nominees,” Cruz said in an obvious reference to Mitt Romney and John McCain.
In outlining a Republican strategy for victory in the 2016 presidential race, Cruz draws a sharp contrast to Rand Paul, who is courting minorities and young people as he travels the country, testing the waters for a presidential run. Potential contenders Jeb Bush and Paul Ryan have also focused on growing the party by attracting minorities. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie could potentially attract Reagan Democrats but has a frigid relationship with the most conservative wing of the party. Texas Governor Rick Perry would likely appeal to a voting bloc similar to Cruz’s. Perry has strong connections to the evangelical community and his success as a job creator in Texas could potentially resonate with the Reagan Democrats Cruz says Republicans need to recapture.
Cruz went on to explain Reagan’s appeal to Democrats. “President Reagan drew a line in the sand. He didn’t say, ‘I’m just like Jimmy Carter,’ he said, ‘This race is about a fundamental choice and president Carter and I have fundamentally different visions for this country.’”
Watch the video on the next page.
A former Ohio high school basketball player is suing his high school, the athletic director, the school’s principal, and his former basketball coach, alleging they violated his First Amendment right of free speech and his Fourteenth Amendment right to due process, resulting in a “loss of liberty” when he was cut from the team.
The suit was originally filed in Medina County Common Pleas Court [read the complaint here] by Chase Johanson, who graduated from the school in 2013 and is currently on the track team at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. The case was transferred to the U.S. District Court Aug. 27 at the request of the defendants, who said the lawsuit belongs in federal court because the claims involve constitutional issues.
Johanson, who says in an online profile that he was a 6′ 7″ power forward for Medina High School and “my father played basketball at the University of Tennessee,” claims the problems at the school began in December of 2010 during his sophomore year when there was a conflict between a school-sponsored musical performance (in which Johanson participated) and a basketball game. “Following the code of conduct for the school, when such a conflict arises, there was an agreement that he could participate in the musical performance with no clarification of penalty,” the complaint explains.
But Johanson claims that he was forced to sit on the bench for half of the next basketball game as a result of his choosing to attend the musical performance, which ultimately led to two years of conflicts and meetings between Johanson, his mother, the athletic staff, and school administrators. Coaches claim that Johanson’s lackluster athletic performance and bad attitude didn’t warrant being rewarded with much playing time, while Johanson and his mother say that he was being unfairly targeted and punished by a coach who didn’t like him.