Raymond Ibrahim — author of Crucified Again and The Al Qaeda Reader – is featured in the latest Prager University course, titled: “Radical Islam: The Most Dangerous Ideology.” Ibrahim breaks it all down in just under five minutes.
Watch the video below, and share on social media:
Capitalizing on the momentum of John Boehner’s resignation as speaker of the House, the RNC vice vhair is calling for the Senate majority leader to follow suit.
“McConnell needs to resign!!” Louisiana GOP Chairman Roger Villere wrote in a Facebook posting.
Villere is no lightweight. He is the longest-serving state GOP chairman in the country and he serves on the executive committee alongside RNC Chair Reince Priebus.
“Mitch is a good and honorable guy, but the base is leaving our party,” Mr. Villere said in an interview with the Washington Times. “I’m out in the field all the time and we have all our elections this year for state offices, and it’s hurting us tremendously with our elections.”
The McConnell and Priebus camps had not responded for comment on Villere’s statement as of Sunday.
Villere had no suggestions for a McConnell replacement. “Honestly, I haven really thought of a replacement,” he said. “We are being so beat up by the base. I just was frustrated.”
The RNC vice chair pinpointed the source of Republican frustration.
“Mr. McConnell could have suspended consideration of confirmations for all presidential appointees, except for those who are essential to national security, until the president rescinded his unconstitutional executive action on amnesty,” Mr. Villere said.
“This would have been a constitutionally appropriate response to the overreach of the executive branch,” he said. “It would have transformed the political environment, greatly encouraged Republican donors and grass-roots activists, and positioned us to refuse to confirm replacements for any Supreme Court openings that might occur during the remainder of the Obama administration.”
“Not trying to repeal Obamacare, not defunding Planned Parenthood, not trying to stop illegal immigration,” he said. “That is what Republicans ran on and once they were elected they did not follow up with their promises.”
What moved Villere to call for McConnell to resign? He said he read a story quoting McConnell taking a government shutdown off the table over Planned Parenthood funding.
“If we lose the battle, we will never win the presidency again in my lifetime,” said Mr. Villere, who is 66. “I’ve worked for 12 years as chairman to build this party, and I just don’t want to see it all go down the drain because they aren’t willing to fight for what we believe in. Our base is demanding we do something or they’re going to leave us.”
“The GOP brand is being damaged. We’re having to work from scratch to do all the groundwork we’ve already done with elections of Republicans to Congress and in the state because everybody is so furious at the leadership,” Mr. Villere said.
Doritos, in a partnership with the non-profit It Gets Better, is making a limited-edition run of rainbow-colored tortilla chips. The chips are the “Cool Ranch” flavor.
Doritos Rainbows are a limited-edition version of its Cool Ranch-flavored tortilla chips to show the chipmaker’s support of the LGBT community. The chips come in shades of green, blue, purple, red, and orange inspired by colors of the Pride flag (or, perhaps, Skittles’ “taste the rainbow” tagline).
“There’s nothing bolder than being yourself,” the company declares on the package.
You won’t be able to find these chips on your store shelf — they will only available for special order with a $10 donation to It Gets Better. Doritos will ship out your rainbow chips in 1 to 2 weeks.
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick announced today that Uber will expand into 100 more cities in China over the next year, “doubling a previous goal set just three months ago.” Kalanick’s announcement was made at an event held by Uber investor Baidu.
Currently Uber operates in 12 cities in China.
The speech comes a day after Kalanick said the China unit had raised $1.2 billion during ongoing fundraising, while people familiar with the matter told Reuters that larger local rival Didi Kuaidi had brought in $3 billion.
“When we started this year, we were about one percent market share. Today, nine months later, we’re looking at about 30 to 35 percent market share,”Kalanick said.
Uber is also expecting new regulations later this year in China that are friendly to ride-sharing services.
“Progress is something we see the government be incredibly open to, whether it be about more jobs and less pollution, less congestion on the streets, better utilization of infrastructure, that kind of progress always has to be in harmony with stability and that is one of the big things that we partnered with the government on,” Kalanick said.
Kim Davis was taken into custody after a judge found her in contempt of court for failing to issue marriage licenses in the state of Kentucky.
U.S. District Judge David Bunning ruled against the Rowan County clerk before deputy marshals removed her from the courtroom.
Bunning said Davis could be released if she complies with the order to resume issuing licenses. She has refused to issue marriage licenses to anyone, arguing that such a move was a way around discriminating against same-sex couples.
The ACLU had asked that Davis be fined, but the judge did not believe that was enough to persuade her to issue the licenses, according to ABC News.
Davis was called to testify at today’s hearing and she reiterated that she believes issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples is against her religious beliefs, even though she has been ordered to do so as a result of a Supreme Court decision.
“My conscience will not allow me,” she said several times during her testimony.
CNN reports that:
In court documents filed Wednesday, her attorneys argue that she shouldn’t be held in contempt. Instead, they argued, there are alternatives that would allow couples to get marriage licenses in Rowan County without going against Davis’ religious beliefs.
Among the options they offered were allowing other officials to issue marriage licenses in the county, distributing marriage licenses at the state level or changing marriage license forms to remove Davis’ name.
“Government officials are free to disagree with the law, but not disobey it,” U.S. Attorney Kerry B. Harvey said in a statement. “The County Clerk has presented her position through the federal court system, all of the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. It is time for the Clerk and the County to follow the law.”
Politico is reporting that presidential candidate Donald Trump will sign a loyalty pledge that binds him to endorse the GOP nominee for president and not run for president under a third-party banner.
The publication says it was given this information from a “close associate” of Trump. Politico is also reporting that “Trump made the stunning decision, which he has long resisted, to avoid complications in getting listed on primary ballots, and to take away an attack line in the next debate, the associate said.”
Yesterday, the Washington Post reported that the GOP was asking all candidates to sign a pledge to prevent Trump from running as a third-party candidate.
The Republican National Committee, in a move designed to box in Donald Trump and prevent him from a third-party run, on Wednesday asked the party’s presidential candidates to sign a loyalty statement vowing not to run as an independent or third-party candidate in the general election.
Trump and RNC Chairman Reince Priebus plan to meet Thursday in New York, according to a Trump campaign spokeswoman. Trump has scheduled a 2 p.m. news conference where he could make an announcement about the RNC pledge.
The pledge reads:
“I [name] affirm that if I do not win the 2016 Republican nomination for president of the United States I will endorse the 2016 Republican presidential nominee regardless of who it is,” reads the document. “I further pledge that I will not seek to run as an independent or write-in candidate nor will I seek or accept the nomination for president of any other party.”
New emails released by the State Department between presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and confidant Sidney Blumenthal reveal that Blumenthal was looking to target incoming Speaker of the House John Boehner.
“Boehner is despised by the younger, more conservative members of the House Republican Conference,” Blumenthal wrote to Clinton. “They are repelled by his personal behavior.”
“He is louche, alcoholic, lazy, and without any commitment to any principle,” he described.
“He is not Gingrich, the natural leader of a ‘revolution,’ riding the crest into power,” Blumenthal said of Boehner. “He is careworn and threadbare, banal and hollow, holding nobody’s enduring loyalty.”
“Boehner is neither feared nor loved,” he goes on. “He’s a would-be DeLay without the whip. He’s the one at the end of a lash.”
And the harsh words weren’t reserved just for Boehner. Blumenthal said then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was “relatively in the same position in the Senate.”
Hillary Clinton was thankful for Blumenthal’s “observations,” saying, “Needless to say, I’m so distressed over all of this,” referring to the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives.
The State Department has turned over to Judicial Watch the letters asking for the government records in possession of Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills per a court order issued on July 31 and included the responses of the representatives to the request, according to Judicial Watch.
The letters show that, on July 31, the State Department, for the first time, demanded that Mills and Abedin “return all copies of potential federal records in your possession.” The State Department did not provide correspondence demanding Mrs. Clinton return all copies of potential federal records. Despite the court’s July 31 order for immediate disclosure, the State Department and its Justice Department attorneys took six days to disclose the 13 letters, which total 19 pages.
The court order originated from the Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit that asked for records pertaining to for Deputy Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Huma Abedin’s employment status.
The recently released letters also show that the State Department did not ask any questions of Clinton, Mills and Abedin about Hillary Clinton’s homegrown private email server.
“The Obama State Department stonewalled a federal court order by waiting six days to produce these letters. One can see why the Obama administration would risk contempt of court. This new information shows that Hillary Clinton is getting special treatment from the State Department and that the agency took no action to find out details about Hillary Clinton’s notorious email system,” stated Tom Fitton, Judicial Watch president. “The Obama State Department is allowing Hillary Clinton and her aides to stall and play games with federal records in violation of law.”
Patrick F. Kennedy, Under Secretary for Management at State, sent a letter dated July 31 to Abedin and Mills’ attorney asking “that you and your client now take steps to return all copies of potential federal records in your possession to the Department as soon as possible.”
The letters resulted from a July 31 hearing where U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan ordered that correspondence related to State Department record retrieval be disclosed “forthwith.”
Everything is bigger in Texas, including the amount the state just raised to fund education.
“Texas’ first-ever online sale of oil and gas leases quickly became the biggest state lease sale in the nation to be held on EnergyNet, earning public schools nearly $20 million Tuesday morning. ”
“When private oil and gas companies develop minerals managed by the GLO, it creates high-paying jobs and earns hundreds of millions of dollars a year for public education in Texas,” George P. Bush, Texas’ land commissioner, said. “With today’s online energy lease sale I’ve delivered on my promise to make the bidding process more accessible and more efficient, while earning even more money for Texas schools.”
Previously, Texas used a dated process to bid on land that involved private sealed bidding. But this week when the state allowed companies to bid competitively against one another for the right to develop oil and gas reserves on state land, the state brought in seven times the amount than the last lease sale in January. In addition to raising money, the Permanent School Fund will also earn 20-25% royalties on the sales.
“Even in a soft oil and gas market, we made more money today by opening up the bidding process to more producers and investors,” Bush said after the sale. “The 21st Century economy is online. We sell on eBay, buy from Amazon and catch a ride through Uber. Putting these energy lease sales online just makes sense. Texans demand a more efficient, effective government and we are delivering it at the General Land Office.”
Michelle Obama is getting the blame for the Navy’s decision to ban fried foods from their culinary offerings.
According to Vocativ, “The First Lady doesn’t set nutrition policy for the nation’s fleets. But that hasn’t stopped more than two dozen critics—many of them current and former Navy personnel—from flooding a Navy Times Facebook thread to blame FLOTUS, who has made combating obesity and promoting healthy eating her signature issues.”
Some of the feedback includes, “Is Michelle Obama now playing big sister to the military hotline?” and “First the kids, now the troops.”
“Seriously. Sounds like MICHELLE OBAMA strikes again,” a said another.
The Navy Times reported that there will be no more fried chicken, french fries and shrimp. Instead these foods will be baked in “state of the art ovens.”
“Whole milk will be replaced by skim and soy; fruits and vegetables will be on prominent display,” the report noted. “The fast line will remain, but its offerings will be cut back.
“And this is just the beginning.”
The healthy “Go Green” campaign is set to become the standard for mess halls both on land and sea.
The new menu is set to take effect in 2017.
Karl Rove made an appearance on Fox News Sunday and said the only way to stop gun violence is to repeal the Second Amendment and “remove guns from society.”
The subject was the tragic shooting at Charleston, South Carolina’s Emanuel African Methodist Church.
WALLACE:How do we stop the violence?
ROVE: I wish I had an easy answer for that, but I don’t think there’s an easy answer
We saw an act of evil. Racist, bigoted evil, and to me the amazing thing is that it was met with grief and love. Think about how far we’ve come since 1963. The whole weight of the government throughout the South was to impede finding and holding and bringing to justice the men who perpetrated the [Birmingham] bombing.
And here, we saw an entire state, an entire community, an entire nation come together, grieving as one and united in the belief that this was an evil act, so we’ve come a long way.
Now maybe there’s some magic law that will keep us from having more of these. I mean basically the only way to guarantee that we will dramatically reduce acts of violence involving guns is to basically remove guns from society, and until somebody gets enough “oomph” to repeal the Second Amendment, that’s not going to happen.
Also read: Uber Bans Firearms in Cars
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.