The IRS has been hacked. An online service provided by the IRS was used by thieves to access information of more than 100,000 taxpayers.
The IRS said the thieves accessed a system called “Get Transcript.” In order to access the information, the thieves cleared a security screen that required knowledge about the taxpayer, including Social Security number, date of birth, tax filing status and street address.
“We’re confident that these are not amateurs,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.
The IRS was alerted to the theft when employees noticed an increase in requests for taxpayer transcripts. The system was exploited from February to mid-May, according to the agency. “The IRS said its main computer system, which handles tax filing submissions, remains secure.” A criminal investigation is underway.
“In all, about 200,000 attempts were made from questionable email domains, with more than 100,000 of those attempts successfully clearing authentication hurdles,” the agency said. “During this filing season, taxpayers successfully and safely downloaded a total of approximately 23 million transcripts.”
The agency is still trying to figure out how many fraudulent claims for refunds were made using the stolen transcripts. Koskinen said a preliminary estimate puts the amount of refunds around $50 million.
The IRS will notify taxpayers whose information was compromised.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Google should not have been forced to remove the scapegoat anti-Islamic video that “caused” the Benghazi attack.
“The 11-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Google, which owns YouTube, saying the previous decision by a three-member panel of the same court gave ‘short shrift’ to the First Amendment and constituted prior restraint — a prohibition on free speech before it takes place.”
We now know that the film had nothing to do with the Benghazi attack but was merely an administration talking point to deflect from the ineptness regarding the attack and murder of four Americans in Libya.
“The mandatory injunction censored and suppressed a politically significant film — based upon a dubious and unprecedented theory of copyright,” Judge M. Margaret McKeown wrote in an opinion joined by nine other judges. “In so doing, the panel deprived the public of the ability to view firsthand, and judge for themselves, a film at the center of an international uproar.”
The injunction against the film was sought by a cast member, Cindy Lee Garcia, who wanted the film removed because she was receiving death threats for appearing in the film. “Her lawyer argued that she believed she was acting in a different production and had a copyright claim to the low-budget film.”
The 9th Circuit Court decided that while sympathetic to Garcia’s situation, it had nothing to do with copyright law. “The copyright office said it does not allow such claims by individual actors involving performances in movies, according to the court.”
“We are sympathetic to her plight,” McKeown wrote. “Nonetheless, the claim against Google is grounded in copyright law, not privacy, emotional distress, or tort law, and Garcia seeks to impose speech restrictions under copyright laws meant to foster rather than repress free expression.”
No word on when the film will return to You Tube.
Arizona is looking at a $1B deficit so the state legislature has cut the state’s welfare program, reducing the lifetime limit for benefits to the lowest in the nation.
Benefits will be cut off after one year for families on the program. “As a result, the Arizona Department of Economic Security will drop at least 1,600 families — including more than 2,700 children — from the state’s federally funded welfare program on July 1, 2016.”
The Associated Press describes “The cuts of at least $4 million reflect a prevailing mood among the lawmakers in control in Arizona that welfare, Medicaid and other public assistance programs are crutches that keep the poor from getting back on their feet and achieving their potential.”
“I tell my kids all the time that the decisions we make have rewards or consequences, and if I don’t ever let them face those consequences, they can’t get back on the path to rewards,” Republican Sen. Kelli Ward, R-Lake Havasu City, said during debate on the budget. “As a society, we are encouraging people at times to make poor decisions and then we reward them.”
Not everyone is happy about the legislature’s decision.
Cutting off these benefits after just one year isn’t fair, said Jessica Lopez, 23, who gave birth to her son while living in a domestic violence shelter and has struggled to hold onto jobs because she has dyslexia and didn’t finish high school.
“We’re all human,” said Lopez, who got $133 per month for about a year until she qualified for a larger federal disability check. “Everybody has problems. Everybody is different. When people ask for help, we should be able to get it without having to be looked at wrong.”
Arizona’s new welfare limits are the most restrictive in the nation. Most states have a five-year limit on benefits, 13 states have two-year limits and Texas has a tiered system.
The state made other cuts to keep in line with the governor’s pledge not to increase taxes. “The Legislature also passed a law seeking to force anyone getting Medicaid to have a job, and cutting off those benefits after five years. And Republican leaders are suing their own state to block a centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s health care law, which expanded Medicaid to give more poor people health insurance.”
The AP, which has a terribly biased write up on this story explains that the money for Arizona’s welfare program comes from the federal government. “Arizona’s welfare is entirely federally funded through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, but that money comes in a block grant, and Republicans want to use it instead for agencies such as the state’s Department of Child Safety.” The cuts in welfare will go to help the children but we don’t read about that until the very end of the story.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey says the cuts are needed to protect the state’s education programs. “The bipartisan, balanced budget passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor protects Arizona’s most vulnerable, while avoiding a tax increase,” said Daniel Scarpinato, governor’s office spokesman.
[WATCH] No Models in this Fashion Show, Clothes Hit the Runway Carried by Drones at Silicon Valley Fashion Week
San Francisco’s “Betabrand” passed on the traditional catwalk models for its Silicon Valley fashion show. The company has a cult-like following among the tech crowd, and what could be more appropriate than having drones run (or fly) down the catwalk with the company’s fashions?
“Many of our ideas are coming from this community and we’re then creating clothing for them,” said founder Chris Lindland.
Writes CNN, “Betabrand’s ‘executive hoodie’ — a bastardized blend of a suit jacket and hoodie — even got a nod from Mark Zuckerberg’s sister Randi. She famously tweeted a suggestion (circa 2012) that the pinstripe hoodie might’ve been ‘Opening bell worthy? ;)’ just before Facebook (FB, Tech30) went public that year.”
“Some of the fashion is futuristic, and some of it is ready for the world now,” said Lindland. “Even everyday start up wear incorporates technology is some way.”
Here’s a picture of one of their fashion items called the “suity,” which is described as “the idea, as many start-up founders are probably familiar with, is to look professional but feel like you’re in pajamas. You pretty much step into it and zip it up to the collar. Voila, you’re ready to go to your investor meeting. Added perks: it’s machine washable and wrinkle-resistant.”
The tabloid rag that is Rolling Stone is being sued for running a debunked “gang rape” story at the University of Virginia campus. The magazine’s parent company and the author of the article are also being sued. The suit asks for $7.85M in damages.
The lawsuit charged that Nicole Eramo, associate dean of students and top administrator in dealing with sexual assaults, was defamed by Rolling Stone, Wenner Media and reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely in the November 2014 article about an alleged 2012 gang rape at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity.
The article “A Rape on Campus” was the subject of immediate criticism when it was published last year. Eventually, the magazine started to walk back its claims about the subject matter and the student who was the source of the story.
Rolling Stone apologized in December for “discrepancies” in the account and admitted it never sought comment from seven men accused of the alleged rape.
The lawsuit charges
Erdely and Rolling Stone acted with actual malice when they published A Rape on Campus. Erdely and Rolling Stone knew that Jackie was not a reliable source for truthful information about her interactions with Dean Eramo. They had serious doubts about the truth of the disparaging claims they planned to make about Dean Eramo, but intentionally violated commonly accepted journalistic norms and consciously failed to investigate sources and information that they believed would have revealed the falsity of the charges they leveled. Erdely and Rolling Stone were intent on painting a narrative that depicted Dean Eramo as complicit in a cover up of Jackie’s allegations and, having made the decision to so accuse Dean Eramo, celebrated their preconceived narrative by including an intentionally doctored illustration of Dean Eramo that depicts her as callous toward a sexual assault victim sitting and crying in her office.
The Columbia Review of Journalism ripped the magazine for lapses in their editorial and reporting judgement last month.
The lawsuit, filed in state Circuit Court in Charlottesville, Virginia, said Rolling Stone, Wenner Media and Erdely aimed to depict the University of Virginia as indifferent to rape on campus.
“To personify the university’s alleged institutional indifference to rape, Erdely and Rolling Stone cast Dean Eramo, who met with and counseled Jackie (the alleged rape victim), as the chief villain of the story,” it said.
They falsely claimed that Eramo tried to persuade Jackie not to report the rape and that she was indifferent to her allegations, the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit filed by attorney Tom Clare of Alexandria, Virginia, seeks at least $7.5 million in compensatory damages and $350,000 in punitive damages.
This isn’t the only lawsuit on the horizon for Rolling Stone. The fraternity at the center of the fake story has also said it is planning to sue the magazine.
The Senate Armed Services Committee will keep the defense authorization (NDAA) markups secret, despite members of the Capitol Hill press corp asking them to open the process to the public.
John McCain (R-AZ) is chairman of the Armed Services Committee said the committee members have voted to keep the process secret. “We voted and that was the decision of the committee,” Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., said Monday evening. “I asked the committee what their views were and they decided that’s what they wanted.”
The Senate markup has traditionally been kept from the public because some of the material under discussion is classified. The senators would have to switch in and out of a classified session if the process was open, so they say.
The press however, is having none of it. “The process of making decisions should itself be visible to the American people in real time — as it is in most other corners of Congress,” Kathleen Hunter of Bloomberg, the chairwoman of the Standing Committee of Correspondents for the Senate Daily Press Gallery, wrote in a May 6 letter to McCain.
The House of Representatives Armed Services Committee has an open session on their markups.
“The House Armed Services Committee openly marks up the companion to the Senate bill,” wrote Hunter. “In that chamber, the process is smooth on the rare occasions when the committee does decide to close a markup to discuss classified data.”
One senator is happy the media is pushing to open the process to the public. “I think it’s great they sent it,” Sen. Claire McCaskill said of the press gallery’s letter. The Missouri Democrat is a proponent of opening up the markup. “I wish that more of my colleagues would see the value in us opening it,” she said.
The full NDAA bill will dominate this week in the Senate and the House with some final details making it to the public by the end of this week.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Byrd (R-NC) appeared on ABC’s “This Week” and said the federal appeals court’s ruling last week puts the U.S. at pre-9/11 intelligence levels.
“That turns us back to pre-9/11,” he told host Martha Raddatz of Thursday’s decision by a federal appeals court.
“Well, there’s no absolute,” Burr said.
“I can only take the advice of those who were involved at the time and because of the connection we couldn’t make, they suggested that if we had been able to bulk collect telephone numbers, we could have traced and connected the dot and caught al-Mihdar, who was in San Diego,” he added of 9/11 terrorist Khalid al-Mihdar.
Burr is referencing the federal appeals court decision that ruled the NSA’s bulk collection of records “exceeds the scope of what Congress has authorized” under the Patriot Act.
The senator would like to see the program continued.
“Well, I do think it should continue for the simple reason that it’s very effective at keeping America safe,” he said. “And in addition to that, we’ve had absolutely no incident of anybody’s privacy being intruded upon,” Burr said.
Burr referenced the May 3rd “Draw Muhammad” shooting in Garland, TX, to show there is still active hostility from terrorists against the U.S.
And that’s an interesting example to offer because Elton Simpson, the lead shooter, had been on the FBI radar since 2006 for trying to join al-Shabab. He recently popped back “on the radar” when he made jihadi comments on the internet — and even with all the privacy-invading super powers the NSA has, he still managed to arrive at the Texas event armed and ready to kill.
“Well, let me just say that the men and women in the intelligence agency and through law enforcement are 24/7 on this,” he said.
“The intent is there,” Burr said.
“We can’t stay at this alert level 24/7, 365 days a year, but it’s important that we respond to any potential uptick in terrorism,” he added of the Pentagon’s decision on Friday to raise the threat level at all U.S. military installations.
Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss: McConnell Praises Ted Kennedy, Gets Handwritten Note from Obama for Lynch Support
Senate Majority Leader
Harry Reid Mitch McConnell (R-KY) praised Ted Kennedy in Boston at the Kennedy Institute Sunday night, saying his skills as a legislator were needed in the Senate now to help members cooperate.
(Did we give them a majority so they could cooperate?)
The Boston Globe reports, “Majority leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Kennedy was someone who could separate the personal from the political and who stayed true to his word. Those are characteristics that will help the body function better in the future, and there are already signs of progress, McConnell said.”
“A real sense of renewal is taking hold in the Senate,” said McConnell.
Seems like same old, same old.
McConnell also said he received a handwritten note from President Obama, thanking him for his cooperation on the Lynch nomination.
“A lot of folks like to joke about the odd couple that was Ted Kennedy and Orrin Hatch,” McConnell said, referring to the late Massachusetts Democrat and the Republican senator from Utah. “But I think Mitch McConnell and Barack Obama may have them outdone. I had to warn reporters not to faint last week before offering the president some praise on trade. I’m even getting handwritten notes from the president these days. He sent one the other day to thank me for supporting the nomination of Loretta Lynch.”
“We’ve both chosen to put policy before party. That’s how politics should be conducted, in my view,” McConnell said Sunday.
Actually, only of one you puts policy before party and that’s the GOP. The Democrats and President Obama always put party before policy. Former Majority Harry Reid obstructed the GOP minority every chance he got in the Senate. Remember when President Obama shut down the WWII Memorial and blocked the veterans from the National Mall because the GOP forced a government shutdown? The Democrats and Obama did that to gain leverage and publicly demonize the Republicans in a game of political chicken.
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
FBI Director James Comey warned today that “there are other Elton Simpsons out there,” referring to one of the jihadists who tried to shoot up an art show featuring cartoons of Mohammad.
“We have a very hard task” in trying to identify and stop anyone inspired to launch an attack inside the U.S. homeland, Comey told ABC News’ Pierre Thomas and a small group of reporters.
Such efforts have become particularly challenging because ISIS has reconfigured and redefined terrorist recruitment, according to Comey. In fact, while the FBI is trying to find that so-called needle in a haystack, “increasingly the needles are invisible to us,” he said.
The FBI used to focus on radical jihadi internet forums, but now ISIS uses social media more; in other words, ISIS will come to you via Facebook or Twitter. According to Comey, ISIS asks interested parties “to travel to the so-called caliphate to fight” but simultaneously says, “If you can’t travel, kill where you are.”
“It’s almost as if there is a devil sitting on the shoulder saying, ‘Kill, kill, kill, kill’ all day long,” he said. “[They are] recruiting and tasking at the same time. … In a way, the old paradigm between ‘inspired’ and ‘directed’ breaks down here.”
The Bureau is also tasked with trying to determine who is a “talker” and who is a “doer.”
Apparently that was what happened with Simpson, who had been on a watch list since 2006.
“Simpson was ultimately indicted on terrorism charges and convicted, but due to questions over the government’s case he never went to prison and was sentenced to probation. The FBI officially closed its case into Simpson last year.”
So he was indicted on terrorism charges and the FBI is wondering if this guy was just a “talker” rather than a “doer”? He wanted to join al-Shabab!
“We didn’t have reason to believe he left Phoenix,” Comey said.
Wait, what? No one was watching him even though “two months ago, based on social media postings suggesting ‘renewed interest in jihad’ with ISIS, the FBI reopened its investigation into Simpson, hoping to determine ‘what he was up to,’ according to Comey.”
On Thursday, a federal appeals court ruled that the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records “exceeds the scope of what Congress has authorized.”
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals did not rule on the constitutional issue, instead sending it back to the lower court.
A three-judge panel held that the text of the Patriot Act “cannot bear the weight the government asks us to assign to it and that it does not authorize the telephone metadata program.”
“If Congress chooses to authorize such a far-reaching and unprecedented program, it has every opportunity to do so, unambiguously,” the court said. “Until such times as it does so, however, we decline to deviate from widely accepted interpretations of well-established legal standards. “
The Patriot Act is set to expire on June 1, so if the Congress wants to widen the scope of the Patriot Act, they certainly can try.
National Security Council spokesman Ned Price told CNN the White House was reviewing the decision.
“The President has been clear that he believes we should end the Section 215 bulk telephony metadata program as it currently exists by creating an alternative mechanism to preserve the program’s essential capabilities without the government holding the bulk data,” Price said. “We continue to work closely with members of Congress from both parties to do just that, and we have been encouraged by good progress on bipartisan, bicameral legislation that would implement these important reforms.”
While testifying at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on open records laws, Joyce Barr, the State Department’s chief freedom of information officer, said that it was “not acceptable” for an agency employee to conduct government business on a private email server.
Senator John Cornyn of Texas described Hillary’s attempt to avoid the open records laws as “premeditated and deliberate.”
“Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina said that anyone who took such an approach should be fired, and asked Barr whether it would be considered acceptable.” Barr said that she was unaware that Clinton was using a homebrewed email server, but now the agency has told employees that it would be unacceptable to use one. Even if she knew Hillary was using her own server, what could she have done about it? Probably nothing.
“I think that the actions that we’ve taken in the course of recovering these emails have made it very clear what people’s responsibilities are with regard to record-keeping,” she said. “We continue to do training, we’ve sent department notices, telegrams, we’ve talked to directors and I think the message is loud and clear that that is not acceptable.”
Among the other issues that were deemed “unacceptable” was the backlog of 18,000 records requests. So much for transparency.
Karen Kaiser, general counsel at The Associated Press, testified that despite promises of greater transparency by the Obama administration, most agencies are not abiding by their legal obligations under open records laws. “We are witnessing a breakdown in the system,” she said in prepared testimony.
The State Department is not the only agency with a problem responding to open records requests.
Although oil prices continue to slump, one person in Saudi Arabia is confident about what direction the oil market might take.
Influential Saudi Oil Minister, Ali Al-Naimi, told CNBC Tuesday that “no one can set the price of oil – it’s up to Allah.” The remark comes amid widespread speculation over how long Saudi Arabia will maintain its decision not to cut production – a move that could support prices.
Al-Naimi said he is “not worried” about what might happen if Iran enters the oil market once sanctions are lifted as a result of an international nuclear agreement.
Quite simply, the oil market has tanked, with prices dropping from a high of $114 a barrel in June of 2014 to six year lows in January.
“The decline in oil prices over the past year has been exacerbated by the Organization of the Petroleum-Exporting Countries (OPEC)—the group of 12 oil-producing countries led by Saudi Arabia—which last year opted to keep production at 30 million barrels a day in order to retain market share and, it is speculated, put rival U.S. producers out of business.”
Hillary Clinton will be making a campaign stop in Nevada, and the pro-amnesty lobby is keeping a close eye on her upcoming remarks about illegal immigration. “We hope that she leans in and really issues a challenge on the issue,” said Clarissa Martínez-De-Castro, deputy vice president of the National Council of La Raza.
The Associated Press writes that Hillary “intends to draw an early distinction with Republicans on illegal immigration, pointing to a pathway to citizenship as an essential part of any overhaul in Congress.”
Clinton is a supporter of President Obama’s immigration reform (amnesty) and supported his decision to stop deporting immigrants who are here illegally.
Previewing her remarks, Clinton’s campaign said she would say that a true fix to the nation’s immigration system would need to include a “full and equal path to citizenship” and the nation shouldn’t settle for proposals that would provide hard-working people with a “second-class” status.
Obama’s executive amnesty is sure to be a hot campaign issue — several GOP presidential candidates have been vocally opposed to the president’s plan.
“Obama’s executive orders, meanwhile, loom large in the immigration debate. GOP presidential candidates have said they would overturn the orders, which included the expansion of a program protecting young immigrants from deportation if they were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Another provision extended deportation protections to parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have been in the country for several years.”
Nevada, along with 25 other states, has sued to block Obama’s immigration plan. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals heard the arguments challenging the plan but has yet to issue a ruling. It will be interesting to see how Hillary’s amnesty will be received in the Silver State.
After Nevada, Clinton will head to California for a three-day fundraising trip.
Reprinted with permission from MEMRI.
In a recent TV interview, Brigadier-General Ahmad Reza Pourdestan, commander of the Iranian ground forces, said: “If Saudi cities were targeted by bombings and missiles, it would be difficult for the officials there to withstand this.” He further said that in order to prevent a Sunni-Shiite union from materializing, “the first thing [the Americans] did was to plan and carry out the events of 9/11.” Pourdestan was speaking on the Iranian Al-Alam TV channel on April 19, 2015.
Chicken rental is a growing business in today’s over-regulated food market. Consumers who want fresh eggs from humanely raised hens are turning toward leasing or renting chickens to get the eggs they want.
Writes Associated Press, “The growth is not an aberration. Coop rentals are booming nationwide as residents in cities, suburbs and the countryside flock to the anti-factory, locally sourced food movement. Some families also rent fowl as an educational experience for their children.”
If you don’t want to buy your own chickens, renting is a great option and it will run you about $150 a month. Basic packages offer you 2 hens, a coop, feed and phone “customer service.” The option to adopt your rented hen is available, too.
Rent a Coop, based in the Washington suburb of Potomac, Maryland, started out renting five or six coops per month in 2012, according to co-owner Tyler Phillips. Now they’re renting 25 to 30 monthly and are opening a second location in New Jersey.
“I think it will be sustained,” Phillips said of the business model. “People want to know where their food comes from.”
Customers ought to check with local zoning ordinances to make sure they aren’t running “afowl” of the law.
“Companies suggest would-be renters speak to neighbors first and do some research to ensure they don’t run afoul of local ordinances or homeowners associations. But regulations can be nebulous, especially when the birds are temporary, and are usually enforced only after complaints.”
Fortunately, hens are quiet creatures unlike roosters. Some folks report their neighbors don’t even know they have hens in their backyard.
Last night at a press conference, Governor Larry Hogan announced he had called in the National Guard to return the city of Baltimore to peace.
“I have not made this decision lightly. The National Guard represents a last resort in order to restore order,” Hogan said. “People have the right to protest and express their frustration, but Baltimore City families deserve peace and safety in their communities and these acts of violence and destruction of property cannot and will not be tolerated.”
Some questioned why it took so long for the Guard to be activated, to which Hogan responded that Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake was slow to make the request. He said he executed the request 30 seconds after it was made. Rawlings-Blake had initially said she wanted to give to protestors the “space to destroy” their environment.
The governor of a state cannot just call the National Guard into a situation; a request has to made from the mayor.
“When the mayor called me, which quite frankly we were glad that she finally did, instantly we signed the executive order. We already had our entire team prepared,” he said. “We were trying to get in touch with the mayor for quite some time, she finally made that call and we immediately took action.”
The governor went on to say, “It’s obviously very disappointing to us as Marylanders and people who love the city of Baltimore. What started out as a peaceful protest. … I would say 95 percent of the people involved were conducting themselves in a very peaceful manner, it was well under control. We had a lot of outside agitators come in from around the country, and we had some rogue gangs and young people that were just out looking to cause problems.”
The New York Times is reporting that Chipotle will no longer serve any GMO food at its restaurants starting Monday.
“This is another step toward the visions we have of changing the way people think about and eat fast food,” said Steve Ells, founder and co-chief executive of Chipotle. “Just because food is served fast doesn’t mean it has to be made with cheap raw ingredients, highly processed with preservatives and fillers and stabilizers and artificial colors and flavors.”
Chipotle is following in the footsteps of other businesses that label their food non-GMO or offer an expanded organic inventory to address growing GMO concerns from consumers.
Making the switch will be difficult, almost all corn products are GMO now as well as sugar, soy and canola oil.
Chipotle already has a high standard for its ingredients. A recent issue with the quality of pork lead to a shortage of carnitas around the country, but the company doesn’t expect a similar situation with the non-GMO food. “We’re working with our farmers to plan enough of these crops we need to meet our supply,” he said. “With pork, it’s harder because we only need one part of the animal, the shoulder, and the farmer needs to sell the whole animal to make it work.”
Apparently, there are only 68 ingredients that comprise the food on the Chipotle menu, compared with 81 ingredients for one of their competitors to make a burrito. Yikes.
All of these changes come with a cost…to the customer. Increased costs for non-GMO flour tortillas might lead the company to raise prices. “But Mr. Ells said the cost of going G.M.O.-free was “de minimis.’”
“It’s really mostly about beef,” he said.
Nanny-state darling Senator Chuck Schumer (R-NY) said on Sunday he wants to stop e-cigarette companies from creating and selling flavors he claims appeal to children.
E-cigarette “juice” comes in a wide variety of flavors ranging from a standard tobacco flavor to exotic flavors like chocolate and strawberry lemonade. Juice for e-cigarettes comes in a variety of nicotine strengths and some juice comes with no nicotine in it at all — many people “vape” on e-cigs without getting any nicotine fix at all.
Since e-cigarettes are a relatively new phenomenon, they aren’t regulated enough according to Schumer, and he plans to change that and make sure e-cigs are restricted the same way tobacco is. A recent report showing that e-cig use is up among teens has given Schumer cause to turn his regulatory eye on the vapor.
Of concern is the flavored e-cig juice, which the senator claims is directed toward young kids because manufacturers sell juice flavors like bubble gum, fruit punch or cotton candy.
“E-cigarette companies are stepping over the line and marketing these products to kids to get them hooked on smoking,” Schumer told WCBS 880. “And they’re hoping that the federal government passes the buck and turns a blind eye. But we can’t let that happen.”
The FDA has proposed some regulation on e-cigs already but has yet to implement them.
“Right now, cigarette manufacturers are prohibited from marketing regular cigarettes to our kids,” Schumer said. “Why shouldn’t the same laws apply to e-cigarettes, which can also be harmful to our kids?”
A poll from the National Science Foundation report released this week has some alarming information about the level of scientific knowledge of Americans.
To the question “Does the Earth go around the Sun, or does the Sun go around the Earth,” 26 percent of those surveyed answered incorrectly.
The survey of 2,200 people in the United States was conducted by the NSF in 2012.
Other findings in the the survey:
Thirty-nine percent say, “The universe began with a huge explosion,” and the NPR piece identifies this as true. A similar statement was asked about human beings: “Human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals,” to which 48% agreed.
Notably the results were different when the previous questions were asked another way:
A survey experiment showed that 48% of respondents said they thought it was true that “human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals,” but 72% gave this response when the same statement was prefaced by “according to the theory of evolution.” Similarly, 39% of respondents said that “the universe began with a huge explosion,” but 60% gave this response when the statement was prefaced by “according to astronomers.”
The difference suggests the strength and influence of Americans’ religious beliefs.
Another finding from the survey shows that Americans are interested in new scientific research, with four out of five Americans saying so.
Where are people getting their information about science and technology? The survey found that the internet surpassed TV as the primary source of information.
Here’s a bit of a twist to the usual stories we hear concerning rape on college campuses.
On Thursday, a student at Columbia University filed suit against the school for failing to protect him from harassment by a fellow student making rape allegations.
According to the New York Daily News, both the school and law enforcement rejected the woman’s claims.
Paul Nungesser, a German citizen who attends Columbia University, is claiming fellow student Emma Sulkowicz has continuously and publicly said that he is a “serial rapist” which has earned the situation both national and international media attention.
“Columbia University’s effective sponsorship of the gender-based harassment and defamation of Paul resulted in an intimidating, hostile, demeaning … learning and living environment,” the lawsuit said.
Columbia did not have any comment on the suit.
In his lawsuit, Nungesser said a Columbia-owned website had presented as fact that he sexually assaulted Sulkowicz, a senior majoring in visual arts. It said that the school allowed Sulkowicz to carry a mattress into classes, the library and campus-provided transportation as part of her senior thesis, that Kessler approved the “Mattress Project” for her course credit and that Sulkowicz’s pledge to carry her mattress to graduation may prevent Nungesser and his parents, who’d like to fly from Germany, from participating in graduation ceremonies.
Here is a picture of Sulkowicz and her mattress:
The suit also states that Nungesser “has been subjected to severe, pervasive … and threatening behavior by other Columbia students, believing that Paul is a `serial rapist,’ whenever Paul has appeared at university activities.”
Sulkowticz claims that her behavior is merely “art”:
“It’s ridiculous that he would read it as a `bullying strategy,’ especially given his continued public attempts to smear my reputation, when really it’s just an artistic expression of the personal trauma I’ve experienced at Columbia. If artists are not allowed to make art that reflect on our experiences, then how are we to heal?”
The story Sulkowicz tells is this, from the Cathy Young at The Daily Beast:
On Aug. 27, 2012, she has said, a sexual encounter that began as consensual suddenly turned terrifyingly violent: Her partner, a man whom she considered a close friend and with whom she had sex on two prior occasions, began choking and hitting her and then penetrated her anally while she struggled and screamed in pain. By Sulkowicz’s account, she finally decided to file a complaint within the university system several months later when she heard stories of other sexual assaults by the same man—only to see him exonerated after a shoddy investigation and a hearing at which she was subjected to clueless and insensitive questions. What’s more, charges brought against the man by two other women also ended up being dismissed.
The other side of the story, Nungesser’s side, tells a different tale. He provided The Daily Beast with numerous Facebook messages between the two of them following the alleged rape, that were friendly and engaging. On her birthday, several months after the alleged rape, Nungesser sent her a happy birthday message. to which she responded, “I love you Paul. Where are you?!?!?!?!”
The details of the story are quite complex; you can read the rest of Cathy Young’s piece if you are interested, it’s quite thorough.
We’ll see how this plays out in court.
Fox News has a new poll on the presidential race that shows Senator Marco Rubio at the top.
The poll was conducted April 19-21 following Rubio’s April 13th presidential announcement.
Other results from the poll found:
Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) comes in second at 12%
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is third at 10%
Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee are tied at 9%
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has 8%
Previously, Rubio was at seventh place in the Fox News poll. The poll taken from March 29 – 31 had Walker leading with 15%.
Mediate writes, “Over those three weeks, Walker and Bush both dropped three points, Huckabee and Cruz both dropped one point and Paul gained one point. But no other candidate could compete with Rubio’s five point jump. The biggest drop belongs to Dr. Ben Carson, who went from third place at 11% to eighth place at 6% over the three weeks.”
A grandmother in Fort Worth, Texas, shut down an attempted robbery when she pulled out her concealed firearm and frightened off her would-be assailant.
Jewell Turner, 74, was approached and asked for directions by the man, when he pulled out a knife and told her he wanted her money.
“He stood there and we talked for a while, [him] just asking for directions and me giving them to him,” Turner recalled. “Never thought that when I turned my head that that young man would stick a knife to my throat.
“He said, ‘I don’t want to hurt you, but I want your money. And I will hurt you if I have to,’” Turner said.
But Turner didn’t have much money on her, only $1.62. When the wanna-be robber demanded “what she had in her purse,” she remembered that she had a gun in there. At first, Turner thought to pull out a knife she keeps with her but instead she took out her pistol. The grandmother had just put the pistol in her purse that morning.
“I seen the gun laying there. And I figured that would work better than the knife,” Turner said. “I just reached down, got the gun and turned around and pointed it to his face. And I told him, I said, ‘You back off, or I’ll blow your head off.’ And his eyes got big and he just backed up and he took off walking down the street like nothing happened.”
Turner told NBC5 she felt taken advantage of after helping out a stranger. “This let me know there is a dark side,” Turner said. “I noticed there was a dark side in me, too. Because when I first pulled that gun on him I actually wanted to shoot him. But I stopped and thought about it.”
A man in Colorado got a little frustrated with his home computer and pumped eight bullets into the machine. He was cited by police.
Lucas Hinch, 37, of Colorado Springs, accepted his citation with good humor, police told the Colorado Springs Gazette. According to the paper, Hinch told officers that he hadn’t realized that he was breaking the law when he brought the computer into an alley and blasted away.
He was cited for discharging a firearm in the city.
— Springs Police (@CSPDPIO) April 21, 2015
Police Lt. Jeff Strossner did not want to say what what kind of computer it was but “he got tired of fighting with [it] for the last several months.”
We hear you, Lucas.
The computer was disabled as a result of the shots. A judge will decide what the penalty will be for Mr. Hinch.
Yesterday on 4/20 at 4:20p.m. a new app launched called Nugg, which will allow patients in Southern California to order medical marijuana and schedule deliveries and pickups.
And the app isn’t just notable for what it does, it’s notable for how the money was raised to build it.
The Web-based app was developed by a trio of USC students who raised $100,000 not from friends and family, the usual way to get a business started, but by referring riders to the ride-hailing service Lyft. Lyft pays a commission of $10 to $20 each for rider referrals; Alex Milligan and two friends created a network of referral hunters, mostly on college campuses, and split the proceeds earned through signing up 30,000 riders.
Here’s the way the app works:
On Nugg’s website, users can search for nearby medical marijuana dispensaries, browse their offerings and request a pickup or delivery.
Users have the option of heading to the dispensary to pick up an order made through Nugg or having it delivered by drivers who work for the dispensary.
When people sign up to use the service, they must take a picture of their driver’s license and other ID and a doctor’s note. Nugg then checks with the doctor to confirm the prescription.
Right now, the company is focusing on educating its potential consumer base, from college students to the elderly. “They understand cannabis in different languages, so it’s a balance between providing too little introduction and too much information that it becomes too complex,” Milligan said.
Reprinted with permission from MEMRI
Watch an ISIS video from Ninawa, showing a da’wa convoy of so-called “caliphate cubs” at a theme park. Three children deliver speeches (two actually, and one recites a poem). The children are seen carrying various weapons, including a machine gun and knives. Two of them call for people to join the jihad, saying that there is no excuse not to since the caliphate has been established. The speech by the first child is particularly intense.
It’s one of the most annoying driving experiences of all, getting trapped behind a slow driver who wants to coast leisurely along in the highway fast lane. But now, such behavior could result in a traffic violation if a Washington state lawmaker has his way.
Senate bill 6105, filed last week by Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane, would create a series of fines for driving any slower than the speed limit in the left lane, with the amount of the fine going up depending on how much slower than the limit a car is going.
The bill describes driving slow in the left lane as “obnoxious, inconsiderate and dangerous behavior.”
The law would be similar to the speed limit laws and “the slow-driving bill would mean any driver in normal traffic who is not precisely driving the speed limit in the left lane could be ticketed.”
But should we institute a law for this? If we have a law stating drivers must obey the speed limit, perhaps we need a law that says drivers must obey the speed minimum?
Reprinted with permission from MEMRI.
On April 19, 2015, the Islamic State (ISIS) released a 29-minute video titled “Until There Should Come to Them Clear Evidence.” The film, produced by the organization’s media company Al-Furqan and posted on jihadi forums such as Shumoukh Al-Islam, is subtitled in five languages: English, French, German, Russian and Arabic. It explains that Christianity is a deviation from true monotheism, and presents the laws which ISIS applies to the Christians under its rule: they must either convert to Islam or pay the jizya tax. Otherwise, the Muslim will fight them. To exemplify this, it discusses the fate of the Christians in Raqqa, Syria, who complied with these rules, versus the fate of the Christians of Mosul, Iraq, who did not.
The last part of the video shows the mass execution of Christians in Libya who, according to the film, likewise refused to comply with the laws of Islam. A masked speaker, apparently North American, declares that ISIS will fight all Christians who behave in a similar manner. This message is then reiterated by an ISIS cleric, who tells Muslims worldwide that ISIS will reach them. When it does, he says, they will have to either convert or pay the jizya tax. Otherwise, their men will be killed and their women and children will be taken captive.
The following are details:
In the first part of the video, a narrator explains that Christianity deteriorated after the time of Christ and deviated from the path of monotheism. Next, a senior ISIS cleric, Abu Malek Anas Al-Nashwan, explains that, according to the laws of Islam, Christians under Muslim rule have two options: they must either convert to Islam, or else pay the Jizya tax and accept Muslim dominance as part of a pact of protection (dhimma). He says that the Muslims of Raqqa in Syria accepted these terms and thereby ensured that they and their property would not be harmed, whereas the Christians in Ninveh province in Iraq refused them, and therefore faced the death penalty. However, the Caliph [ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi] decided to spare them and ordered instead to exile them from their homes and from their land. Their property was seized in accordance with the laws of Islam, says the sheikh.
The film presents testimonies of Christians in Raqqa who claim that, since they paid the jizya tax, their situation has been excellent – so much so that they urged fellow Christians who had fled from the city to return and live there in peace. Christians also testify that ISIS’s Muslim courts handle their cases fairly and without discrimination.
Turning to Mosul in Iraq, the film shows ISIS members smashing crosses and destroying the churches of the Christians, who refused to either convert or pay the jizya tax.
The last part of the film shows the mass execution of African Christians in two locations in Libya: on a beach in Barqa (Cyrenaica) province and in a desert area in Fezzan in the south of the country. The prisoners in Barqa are dressed in the orange uniforms familiar from other ISIS execution videos, whereas those in Fezzan are dressed in dark uniforms. According to the film, the latter prisoners are members of the Ethiopian church. They are executed with a bullet to the back of the head, whereas those in Barqa are beheaded.
The Fezzan execution is presided over by a masked individual who speaks fluent English with a North American accent, dressed in black after the fashion of “Jihadi John.” He delivers a message in which he threatens all Christians, and adds that he and his comrades will continue fighting all those who disbelieve in one god until they either convert or pay the jizya.
The video ends with a message from Abu Malek Anas Al-Nashwan to Christians everywhere: “The Islamic State will spread, with Allah’s help, and will reach you, even if you are in your strongholds. Whoever converts to Islam will be safe, and whoever pays the jizya tax will be safe. But whoever refuses will recieve from us only the punishment specified by Muslim law: the men will be killed, the women and children will be taken captive, and the homes and property will be taken as booty.”
 The title is taken from Koran 98:1: “Those who disbelieve from among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) and among Al-Mushrikun,were not going to leave (their disbelief) until there should come to them clear evidence.”
 Shamikh1.info, April 19, 2015.
Reprinted with permission from MEMRI.
Ahead of Palestinian Prisoners Day, which is marked on April 17, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud ‘Abbas decided to award medals to the first female Fatah member imprisoned by Israel, Fatima Bernawi, the first male Fatah member imprisoned, Mahmoud Bakr Hijazi, and the first Fatah member who was “martyred,” Ahmad Moussa Salama, in honor of their “national struggle.”
On April 16, 2015, the website of Fatah’s Egyptian branch wrote about Bernawi in an article dedicated to Prisoners Day: “Bernawi was arrested in October 1967 after she placed a bomb in the Zion Cinema in Jerusalem. She was sentenced to life in prison, but was released after ten years, in November 1977. [Israel's] Prison Service described [her release] as a ‘gesture of good will’ towards Egypt ahead of the visit by the late Egyptian prime minister Anwar Sadat in Jerusalem on November 19, 1977, [a visit] that paved the way to the signing of the Israel-Egypt peace agreement in 1979.”
The website stated further: “Fatima Bernawi was one of the first Palestinian women to adopt [the means of] armed self-sacrifice operations after the start of the modern Palestinian revolution, which was launched by Fatah on January 1, 1965. She was the first young Palestinian woman to be arrested by the Israeli occupation forces, and is the first woman prisoner listed in the records of the [Palestinian] women prisoners’ movement…”
Fatima Bernawi (Image: Fateheg.org, April 16, 2015)
Fatima Bernawi during her service as head of the PA women’s police force (Image: Fateheg.org, April 16, 2015)
Mahmoud Bakr Hijazi was caught while attempting to carry out a terrorist attack in Israel on January 7, 1965, and was sentenced to 30 years in prison, but was released in 1971. Ahmad Moussa Salama was killed while participating in Fatah’s first terror operation, an attack on Israel’s National Water Carrier on January 1, 1965.
 Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), April 17, 2015.
 Fateheg.org, April 16, 2015.
 Aljazeera.net, April 17, 2013.
 Thawra.ps, February 9, 2011.
A few weeks ago, a DOJ report was released alleging Drug Enforcement Agency officials were participating in sex parties funded by the Colombian drug cartels. The report also alleged that DEA agents were soliciting prostitutes abroad between 2009 and 2012.
Today, at a House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, it was revealed that DEA agents had been participating in “sex parties” funded by drug cartels since 2001.
“This new internal report describes not one or two isolated incidents, but literally dozens of parties with prostitutes,” Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings said at the hearing, where lawmakers grilled DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart.
Fox News is reporting that “Money to pay prostitutes at a farewell party for a high-ranking DEA official was included in an “operational budget” that used government funds for the party, the report said. DEA agents also rented undercover apartments in Colombia and used them for parties with prostitutes, the DEA said in an internal report.”
Cummings said the new report “details a truly breathtaking recklessness by DEA agents” and went on to say that he cannot understand how such “egregious misconduct could have continued for so long” without being addressed.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) asked “What would it take to get fired at the DEA?”
From Fox News: “Leonhart, who has been the DEA’s top official since 2007 and was deputy for three years before that, responded that civil service protections make it difficult to fire DEA agents. As administrator, she is powerless to step in during disciplinary proceedings and in some cases cannot even revoke an agent’s security clearance, Leonhart said.”
To which Gowdy asked, “What the hell do you get to do?”
Also revealed in the hearing was the fact that Attorney General Eric Holder sent a memo to employees reminding them not to use prostitutes.
“Hello? Am I missing something?” Cummings said. “I think we are at an all-time low here.”
Walker said he also was surprised at the memo — calling it “ludicrous” — but said the message from Holder did not specify how officials will be punished if they violate the directive.
From previous actions, it appears the Justice Department’s response to employees who solicit prostitutes is. “Hey, maybe take a few days off,” Walker said.
Your tax dollars at work, ladies and gentlemen.
Reprinted with permission from MEMRI.
An animated video-clip posted on the Internet on April 11, 2015, by “Fadhaeh Al-’Ilmaniyya,” a pro-ISIS group of media activists, shows President Obama begging for mercy before being beheaded by ISIS executioner Jihadi John. At the end of the animated film, Obama is shown awakening from his nightmare and fleeing the room.
HBO’s Last Week Tonight show interviewed Edward Snowden on the latest episode after host John Oliver took a trip to speak to Snowden in person.
In an effort to get the American public to take seriously the problems of government surveillance, Oliver asked Snowden about government surveillance in a context more people might be familiar with: dick pics.
Can the government secretly access American’s naked photos and selfies?
“If you have your email somewhere like Gmail, hosted on a server overseas or transferred overseas or [if it] at anytime crosses outside the borders of the United States, your junk ends up in the database,” said Snowden.
He added, “Even if you send it to somebody within the United States, your wholly domestic communication between you and your wife can go from New York to London and back and get caught up in the database.”
Oliver shared his concern that the public isn’t taking invasions of privacy by the federal government seriously by showing Snowden clips of people in Times Square. The crews came back with tapes of people saying “I have no idea who Edward Snowden is.”
Oliver asked him, “Is it a conversation that we have the capacity to have? Because it’s so complicated, we don’t fundamentally understand it.”
“It’s a real challenge to figure out — how do we communicate things that require sort of years and years of technical understanding, and compress that into seconds of speech, so I’m sympathetic to the problem,” Snowden said.
But once Oliver turned the conversation to naked selfies in Times Square, the tune changed. “If my husband sent me a picture of his penis, and the government could access it, I would want that program to be shut down.”
It’s all in the messaging, folks.
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe signed an executive order:
Virginia joins more than a dozen other states in its decision to “ban the box” on job applications that prospective employees are asked to check if they have been convicted of a crime.
An individual’s rap sheet may be considered only if it “bears specific relation to the job for which they are being considered,” such as child care workers, state troopers, court officers and jail guards, said gubernatorial spokesman Brian Coy.
“In a new Virginia economy, people who make mistakes and pay the price should be welcomed back into society and given the opportunity to succeed,” McAuliffe said in a statement.
“This executive order will remove unnecessary obstacles to economic success for Virginians who deserve a second chance,” the Democratic governor said.
The restriction only includes the state’s hiring practices. Remember the next time you have to do some business with the state of Virginia you may be dealing with some kind of criminal or predator. McAuliffe hopes that private business will follow suit, but let’s hope not. What kind of insurance rate would a business get that didn’t bother to check the criminal past of its employees?
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring applauded the effort because he wants to improve the job prospects for inmates released from jail. Basically, the Virginia state government will be the easiest place for a criminal to gain employment.
What could go wrong?
“This is a responsible approach that keeps initial background checks for sensitive jobs in state government while ensuring that a youthful mistake or wrong decision doesn’t close the doors of opportunity for a lifetime,” Herring said.
Virginia is not alone. California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico and Rhode Island also prohibit asking about criminal history from prospective state employees.
Reprinted with permission from MEMRI.
On April 14, 2015, MEMRI and the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice, in conjunction with International Holocaust Remembrance Day, will hold the sixth annual Lantos Anti-Semitism and Holocaust Denial Archives Commemoration at the U.S. Capitol, sponsored by Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner.
At the event, MEMRI will present, and release, its annual report on anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial in the Arab and Muslim world, covering both the proponents of these hateful messages in the region and the courageous voices speaking out against this phenomenon. A video compilation of MEMRI TV research from this past year will be screened and also released.
The following are a number of the clips on the blood libel added to the archives in the past year that will be shown at this year’s event.
TO VIEW A COMPILATION OF BLOOD LIBEL VIDEOS FROM THIS YEAR, CLICK HERE.
MEMRI TV Clip No. 4384
Top Hamas Official Osama Hamdan: Jews Use Blood For Passover Matzos
In a recent TV interview, Osama Hamdan, top Hamas representative in Lebanon and a member of the Hamas political bureau, said: “We all remember how the Jews used to slaughter Christians, in order to mix their blood in their holy matzos.”
Following is an excerpt from the interview, which aired on the Lebanese Al-Quds TV channel on July 28, 2014.
Osama Hamdan: “The Israelis concentrate on killing children. I believe that this is engraved in the historical Zionist and Jewish mentality, which has become addicted to the killing of women and children.
“We all remember how the Jews used to slaughter Christians, in order to mix their blood in their holy matzos. This is not a figment of imagination or something taken from a film. It is a fact, acknowledged by their own books and by historical evidence. It happened everywhere, here and there.”
MEMRI TV Clip No. 4775
Syrian Commentator Hussam Shoei’b: Zionists Burned Jordanian Pilot, Just Like They Knead Passover Matzos With Blood
Syrian commentator Hussam Shoei’b recently said that the immolation of the Jordanian pilot was “a clear demonstration of the barbarity of the Zionist entity,” adding: “In the past, they used to knead [Passover] matzos with human blood and eat them.” The statement was made on Hizbullah’s Al-Manar TV on February 6, 2015.
Hussam Shoei’b: “What is being done by all these criminal gangs – ISIS, Jabhat Al-Nusra, Ahrar Al-Sham, and all these groups with their Islamic names – cannot even be labeled ‘Israeli.’ It is downright Talmudic. The immolation of the Jordanian pilot is a clear demonstration of the barbarity of the Zionist entity, and of the Talmud throughout history. One of their principles is that God can only be satiated by blood. In the past, they used to knead (Passover) matzos with human blood and eat them. This is exactly what is happening in Syria today for the whole world to see.”
MEMRI TV Clip No. 4498
Former Jordanian MP Abd Al-Mun’im Abu Zant: Jews Permit Cannibalism, Use Human Blood In Passover Matzos
Following are excerpts from an interview with former Jordanian MP Sheikh Abd Al-Mun’im Abu Zant, which aired on Al-Aqsa TV on September 7, 2014:
Abd Al-Muni’m Abu Zant: “We have to understand the true nature of the Jews, because the entire world is deceived and tormented by them. The Holy Koran has revealed their true nature, as expressed by our masters, the prophets.
“One could go on forever about the deceptiveness of the Jews. They are liars. They allow cannibalism, and the eating of human flesh. Check their Talmud and religious sources. On their religious holidays, if they cannot find a Muslim to slaughter, and use drops of his blood to knead the matzos they eat, they slaughter a Christian in order to take drops of his blood, and mix it into the matzos that they eat on that holiday.”
MEMRI TV Clip No. 4454
Friday Sermon By Former Jordanian Minister: Jews Use Children’s Blood For Their Holiday Matzos
In a Friday sermon delivered in Amman, Jordan on August 22, 2014, Sheikh Bassam Ammoush said that the Jews slaughter children to use their blood for matzos. Ammoush, a former Muslim Brotherhood leader who was expelled from the organization in 1997, was appointed minister of administrative development that year, and became Jordan’s ambassador to Iran in 2001. In 2011, King Abdullah appointed him to the Jordanian Senate. The sermon aired on the official Jordanian TV channel.
Following is an excerpt:
Sheikh Bassam Ammoush: “In Gaza we are dealing with the enemies of Allah, who believe that the matzos that they bake on their holidays must be kneaded with blood. When the Jews were in the diaspora, they would murder children in England, in Europe, and in America. They would slaughter them and use their blood to make their matzos.
“So it should come as no surprise, after they occupied our lands, in complicity with the [Western] enemy… Now they have all these women and children in front of them, so it should come as no surprise. This is their faith.
“They believe that they are God’s chosen people. They believe that the killing of any human being is a form of worship and a means to draw near their god.”
Reprinted with permission from MEMRI.
Watch as Yemini children scream “Death to America.”
McDonald’s Corporation has announced that it will be raising the minimum wage it pays employees as of July 1. The increase involves at least a $1-an-hour raise from the local minimum wage for corporate-owned restaurants around the country. The wage increase doesn’t apply to restaurants that are owned by franchisees. Approximately 90% of McDonald’s employees will not be getting any wage increase as they work for franchisee-owned McDonald’s.
Other mega-corporations are also raising their wages. Companies like Wal-Mart will be raising wages to $10 starting next year. The Wall Street Journal reports the raise “reflects wider public pressures over income inequality as well as intensifying competition for low-skilled workers.”
The increase doesn’t apply to employees of franchisees, which operate nearly 90% of the 14,350 U.S. McDonald’s stores—a fact critics seized on. But it applies to some 90,000 workers at all levels of experience and rank at company-owned restaurants and it will lift the average hourly rate to $9.90 on July 1 and more than $10 by the end of 2016, from $9.01 currently.
Steve Easterbrook, the Chief Executive officer, said the raise was in response to employee feedback and an attempt to revive sales. “Motivated teams deliver better customer service,” he said in an interview, “and delivering better customer service in our restaurants is clearly going to be a vital part of our turnaround.”
But McDonald’s has been the target of a vicious campaign by labor groups to pressure them raise wages to $15 an hour.
Writes the New York Times, “McDonald’s has been under fire for some time from labor groups fighting for a base wage of $15 an hour. Employees and their supporters have held one-day rallies outside restaurants. The Service Employees International Union has been spending millions in a campaign to organize McDonald’s employees and others to press for higher wages, and it plans to hold an array of protest rallies across the country on April 15.”
But some experts say McDonald’s had to raise wages to compete with other business that are raising their wages.
Several large companies that have direct contact with consumers have raised wages over the last year, including Walmart, the TJX Companies and Ikea. There was a risk that McDonald’s could lose its better employees to other companies that compete for low-wage workers. Many of its franchisees face similar challenges, which could ultimately lead to broader wage gains at other McDonald’s fast-food outlets.
“McDonald’s said that one of the reasons they’re doing this is because of competitiveness, and there’s no reason why their franchisees wouldn’t be feeling that same competitive pressure,” said Mark Kalinowski, an investment analyst who follows McDonald’s at Janney Montgomery Scott.