CBS is reporting that an unidentified substance is killing hundreds of birds along the eastern shore of the San Francisco Bay. Scientists have ruled out fish and vegetable oil or petroleum as the culprit, but the mystery goo has yet to be identified.
“This is a true mystery. It has the consistency of rubber cement,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife Information Officer Andrew Hughan said.
The goo sticks to birds feathers preventing the birds from staying warm and causing hypothermia. More than 200 birds have been found dead and more than 300 are being treated at the International Bird Rescue.
A spokesman for the International Bird Rescue is also at a loss. “We have helped to manage oil spill events and other emergency events around the world, but this is a very difficult product,” she said.
Usually, the treatment for cleaning up birds after oil spills is Dawn dishwashing detergent, but that method isn’t working on the goo.
“We’re having to soften it, if you will, with first baking soda, into the feathers and then taking that off with some household vinegar,” the spokesman said.
The EPA has joined in the quest to determine what the mystery goo is but to no avail.
The International Bird Rescue is spending about $8,000 a day to nurse the birds back to health.
Police in a Mexican border town are reporting that a methamphetamine-filled drone has crashed into a supermarket parking lot.
A spokesman for the Tijuana police, Jorge Morrua, said they police were alerted when a drone fell on Tuesday night near the San Ysidro border crossing.
Six packets of the drug, weighing more than six pounds, were taped to the six-propeller remote-controlled aircraft. Morrua said authorities are investigating where the flight originated and who was controlling it. He said it was not the first time they had seen drones used for smuggling drugs across the border.
Other innovative methods of transporting drugs across the border include tunnels and catapults.
On Tuesday the Supreme Court ruled that a Muslim prisoner in Arkansas can grow a beard for religious reasons.
The justices said that inmate Gregory Holt could maintain a half-inch beard because Arkansas prison officials could not substantiate claims that the beard posed a security risk.
Holt sued, claiming he has a right to grow a beard under a federal law that protects prisoners’ religious rights. More than 40 other states allow prisoners to grow beards.
Holt is also known as Abdul Maalik Muhammad. He was backed by the Obama administration and religious groups. The Obama administration is very selective in its support of religious freedom, as they went to the Supreme Court to force private business owners to violate their religious beliefs and provide abortifacients to employees.
Justice Samuel Alito said in his opinion for the court that Arkansas can satisfy its security concerns in some other way when “so many other prisons allow inmates to grow beards while ensuring prison safety and security.”
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who wrote the dissent in the Hobby Lobby case, remarked on her view of the differences between the two cases in a brief separate opinion Tuesday.
Holt, aka Muhammad, is serving a life sentence for a “brutal assault” on his girlfriend and is being held in a maximum security prison 80 miles outside Arkansas. “Holt argued in court papers that his obligation to grow a beard comes from hadiths, accounts of the acts or statements of the Prophet Muhammad. In one statement attributed to the prophet, Muslims are commanded to ‘cut the mustaches short and leave the beard.’ ”
The Military Times is reporting that almost 130,000 pages of declassified UFO documents are now available online.
You can thank John Greenewald, a UFO enthusiast who spent decades filing Freedom of Information Act requests. Greenewald posted declassified records from Project Blue Book — the U.S. Air Force’s records on alleged UFO and extraterrestrial sightings — on an online database.
The Air Force project was based out of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio and ran from 1947 to 1969. Through the project, the Air Force amassed a total of 12,618 recorded sightings. Out of that total, 701 incidents remain “unidentified.” A University of Colorado report called the “Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects” found that “there has been no evidence indicating that sightings categorized as ‘unidentified’ are extraterrestrial vehicles,” according to a 1985 Air Force fact sheet. Project Blue Book officially ended on Dec. 17, 1969.
The newly released documents do not shed any light on new UFO sightings, but conspiracy theorists are still fascinated. “People have this fascination when it comes to UFOs,” Greenewald told the New York Daily News. “We can have our speculation that it’s top secret, but we simply don’t know.”
One thing that might disappoint the hardcore UFO enthusiast is the “scant reference” to Roswell, New Mexico. Conspiracy theorists have claimed a UFO landing was covered up by the military in 1947.
“The Roswell location itself does make a few brief appearances in the files. The database includes a few blurry images of lights in the sky that were taken at the New Mexico location in 1949. Additionally, a 1950 document mentions airmen at Roswell reporting a “bluish-white” circular object 10 feet in diameter speed by at 8,000 feet.”
According to reports, the University of Virginia is finding its legal costs are mounting after Rolling Stone published a rape story that was subsequently discredited. So far, lawyer contracts are totaling more than $500,000.
Last November, Rolling Stone ran a horrific story about a gang rape that took place at one of the university’s fraternities. Except it wasn’t entirely true.
As for legal expenses, the Daily-Progress newspaper in Charlottesville on Sunday published a contract totaling $500,000 for the international law firm of O’Melveny & Myers.
The Virginia attorney general’s office has named the firm an independent counsel to investigate how the university handled the 2012 report of sexual violence reported in Rolling Stone, Michael Kelly, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office, said on Sunday.
Another law firm is involved, Pepper Hamilton of Philadelphia, to assist the school with its “response to and handling of sexual and gender-based harassment and violence complaints,” according to the Daily-Progress.
Billy Crystal, comedian and one of the first actors to portray a gay character on TV, has had enough of the gay storylines on television.
Speaking to an audience at the Television Critics Association press tour, Crystal said: “Sometimes I think, ‘Ah that’s too much for me.’”
The comedian played Jodie on Soap from 1977-1981. “It was very difficult at the time,” said Crystal. “Jodie was really the first recurring [gay] character on network television and it was a different time, it was 1977. So, yeah, it was awkward. It was tough.” He spoke about how his character was not always well-received. “I did it in front of a live audience and there were times when I would say to Bob [Seagren], ‘I love you,’ and the audience would laugh nervously. I wanted to stop the taping and go, ‘What is your problem?’”
But now, Crystal thinks things have gone too far. “Sometimes, it’s just pushing it a little too far for my taste and I’m not going to reveal to you which ones they are.”
Crystal’s new show The Comedians premieres April 9 on FX.
Foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini announced the European Union will challenge a controversial court decision that ordered the removal of terrorist group Hamas from the terrorism bloc list. “Foreign ministers from the 28 European Union member states decided to appeal the decision at a meeting in Brussels focused on the Islamist threat after the Paris attacks this month, she said.”
Hamas will remain on the list pending the appeal. Hamas was first blacklisted in 2001.
Mogherini said EU ministers have “now decided to challenge some of the findings of the court regarding the procedural grounds to list terrorist organisations”.
“This ruling was clearly based on procedural grounds and did not imply any assessment by the court of the merits of designating the Hamas as a terrorist organisation.”
Last month, before the Paris terror attacks, the General Court of the European Union claimed that Hamas’ blacklist status was not based on sound legal judgement but on conclusions drawn from the media and the internet.
“The fight against terrorism remains a priority for the European Union,” Mogherini said, adding the the “EU is determined to stem the financing of terrorism”.
Brussels has until February 17 to file an appeal; that process will take around sixteen months.
Bob Schieffer spoke with White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer on CBS’s Face the Nation and asked about the proposals the president plans to put forth in tomorrow’s State of the Union address.
SCHIEFFER: “Let’s just start with what the president and the White House said overnight. The president is going to announce a plan in the State of the Union to raise $320 billion in new taxes on the wealthy. And that is over 10 years. Capital gains taxes are going up. With this new revenue, he is going to do such things as provide free community college and so forth for people, new tax breaks for working families, increase child care credit. I would just ask you this, Mr. Pfeiffer. Do you in any way, shape or form believe that a new Republican Congress is going to do what a Congress that had Democrats and Republicans in control would not do? I mean, is this for real? Do you really think there is a chance that something like this could pass?”
PFEIFFER: “Well, I think this plan the president is going to talk about on Tuesday night goes to what is the core theme of the State of the Union, which is middle-class economics. And it is the simple proposition that, now that the economy is in a stronger place than it has been in a very long time, we need to double down on our efforts to deal with wage stagnation and declining economic mobility. So the simple proposition is that we should ask the wealthy to pay a little more and invest more in the middle class, give the middle class a raise. Now, there are elements of our plan that Republicans have supported in the past. Our higher education tax breaks are something very similar to something the Republican House passed last year. The fee on large financial institutions is something very similar to what was included in the Republican corporate tax reform plan last year by Republican Dave Camp. So are they going to agree on everything? Absolutely not. But I think we should have a debate in this country about — between middle-class economics and trickle-down economics and see if we can come to an agreement on the things we do agree on.”
Jane Fonda appeared at the Weinberg Center for the Arts in Frederick, Maryland, on Friday and was greeted by protestors. At least 50 Vietnam War veterans showed up outside the theater holding signs that read “Forgive? Maybe. Forget? Never.”
“Whenever possible I try to sit down with vets and talk with them, because I understand and it makes me sad,” the 77-year-old actress told her audience in Frederick, the Frederick News-Post reported. “It hurts me and it will to my grave that I made a huge, huge mistake that made a lot of people think I was against the soldiers.”
“But those people out there … I’m a lightning rod,” Ms. Fonda said Friday, the News-Post reported. “This famous person goes and does something that looks like I’m against the troops, which wasn’t true, but it looked that way, and I’m a convenient target. So I understand.”
Veterans disagreed with Fonda.
“She encouraged North Vietnam to pull away from the negotiations table,” one veteran told the News-Post. “She got Americans killed … and she went to Vietnam to advance her husband’s career.”
“We feel what she did was so egregious … (she) really cost lives,” Vietnam veteran Mike McGowan agreed.
Fonda came under fire in 1972 when she headed over to North Vietnam at he height of the war. A picture of her sitting on a tank earned her the name Hanoi Jane.
Following reports of the ineffectiveness of the flu vaccine, the death toll from influenza has continued to rise since the recent flu season began in the fall of 2014. The Centers for Disease Control recently announced 19 more children have died in recent weeks bringing to the total to 45 children.
This flu season is particularly bad, with the flu vaccine reportedly only effective in 23% of cases. During a normal year, that rate goes up around 50-60%. CBS Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook says that is the second worst track record for the flu in a decade.
Last week, the CDC released data showing that “high levels of flu-like illness were reported in 24 states.”
Adults age 65 and over are at higher risk of serious complications from the flu, and that age group has had by far the highest rate of hospitalizations this flu season. The CDC says 93 percent of those hospitalized with the flu had at least one underlying medical condition, most commonly metabolic disorders, cardiovascular disease and obesity.
Nevertheless, the flu vaccine does offer some level of protection and health officials continue to recommend people get vaccinated.
The CDC also recommends antiviral medications like Tamiflu can help. In some cases, these drugs can reduce the duration of the flu and reduce symptoms of the virus.
An AFP photographer was shot during a rally in Pakistan protesting the the latest issue of Charlie Hebdo magazine. The issue portrays Mohammad, which Muslims consider insulting.
Pakistan condemned the violent slaughter of 17 people last week by radical Muslims, but violence broke out at Karachi during the protest.
In Karachi, clashes erupted when the protesters started heading toward the French Consulate. They began throwing stones at the police, who tried to push them back with water cannons and tear gas.
AFP news director Michele Leridon said photographer Asif Hassan was shot and wounded. He underwent surgery and “his life does not seem in danger,” Leridon said.
It was not clear how or by whom Hassan was shot. AFP is trying to find out if Hassan was targeted or accidentally shot.
Karachi police officer, Naseer Tanoly, said some of the protesters were armed and opened fire on the police, who fired into the air to disperse the crowd. The protesters were mostly students affiliated with the Jamaat-e-Islami political party.
But Umair Saeed, an official with the party’s student wing in Karachi, denied the students had weapons and blamed the police for opening fire.
There were other rallies around Pakistan without violence. There were rallies in Istanbul, Turkey, where protestors shouted “God is great” and carried banners with Osama Bin Laden’s face on one side and the Kouachi brothers on the other.
On last night’s Kelly File, PJ Media Legal Editor J. Christian Adams explained how Eric Holder’s policies have increased the daily dangers to our nation’s police officers:
The second round of flogging for a blogger convicted of insulting Islam has been delayed due to medical reasons. A doctor has concluded that the wounds from the first round of flogging (50 lashes) have not yet healed.
How gracious of them.
Raif Badawi had an appointment set after midday prayers , according to Amnesty International, but after his morning check-up the doctor found that “he would not be able to withstand another round of lashes at this time.” He suggested Badawi be allowed another week to heal from his previous flogging.
Badawi’s first public flogging took place last Friday before dozens of people in the Red Sea city of Jiddah. The father of three was taken to a public square, his feet and hands bound, and whipped 50 times on his back before being taken back to prison.
He was sentenced in May to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for criticizing Saudi Arabia’s powerful clerics and ridiculing the country’s morality police on a liberal blog he founded. The Jiddah Criminal Court also ordered he pay a fine of 1 million Saudi riyals, or about $266,000.
Tge lashes are to be administered in 20 weekly sessions, 50 lashes per week.
The 31-year-old Badawi has been held since mid-2012 and his Free Saudi Liberals website is now closed. He was originally sentenced in 2013 to seven years in prison and 600 lashes in relation to the charges, but after an appeal, the judge stiffened the punishment. Following his arrest, his wife and children left the kingdom for Canada.
“The notion that Raif Badawi must be allowed to heal so that he can suffer this cruel punishment again and again is macabre and outrageous,” said Said Boumedouha, Amnesty International’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa.
A northwest side Chicago strip club has been awarded for its efforts to improve the neighborhood.
“Albany Park Neighbors decided this month to give one of six ‘Block Star Business”‘awards to the Admiral Theatre. The group’s website says the award is meant to spotlight businesses working to keep the neighborhood clean and beautiful, as well as provide top-notch customer service.”
One of the members of the group told the Chicago Sun-Times the Admiral did a great job cleaning up the construction work on the building facade.
The club’s creative director says it employs workers whose tasks include maintaining the block by collecting trash and sweeping sidewalks. He says the club plans to frame the certificate and display it in the main lobby.
This is the not first time the Admiral Theater had tried to help the community.
The club offered a free laptop dance to anyone who donated a unused toy for Christmas. “In 2010, the effort raised five carloads of toys.”
There’s great news for fans of the Sharknado movies on the SyFy channel.
Ian Ziering and Tara Reid will return to fight yet another Sharknado in July. This will be the third Sharknado. The second Sharknado took place in New York — and now, it’s back…in Washington D.C.
Will D.C. residents even notice a tornado filled with sharks? Probably not since there are sharks walking the streets and in the halls of Capitol Hill every day.
Syfy announced Thursday at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour that the duo will reprise their roles as Fin and April for the third Sharknado TV movie.
In the next installment of the movie series the Sharknado will “cause mass destruction in the nation’s capital,” which sounds like what happens when Congress is in session.
Apparently, the Sharknado series is fairly popular. The New York Sharknado was the most watched original program on the SyFy network ever.
The latest movie will involve a Sharknado that travels from D.C. down to Orlando.
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has an op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal where he calls for congressional hearings into radical Islam. His opinion piece lays out the history and neglect of the Islamic threat starting with the Carter administration. Even Carter admitted at the time, the Iranian hostages were “innocent victims of terror.”
Fast forward to the Bush era when the former President promised “Our war on terror begins with al-Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.”
And after all that time, Gingrich says, “we’ve clearly failed to meet that goal.”
After more than 13 years of war, with thousands of Americans dead, tens of thousands of Americans wounded, and several trillion dollars spent, the U.S. and its allies are losing the war with radical Islamism. The terrorists of Islamic State are ravaging Iraq and Syria, Boko Haram is widening its bloody swath through Nigeria, al Qaeda and its affiliates are killing with impunity in Somalia, Yemen and beyond, and the Taliban are resurgent in Afghanistan. The killings in Paris at Charlie Hebdo and at a kosher supermarket are only the most recent evidence of the widening menace of radical Islamism.
Neither the United States or France has a strategy to fight radical Islam. The to begin to form strategy, argues Newt, is hold hearing that “outline the scale and nature of the threat. Additional hearings should seek advice from a wide range of experts on strategies to defeat radical Islamists.”
Gingrich is critical of the political correctness of “Western Elites” that has “discouraged the study of what inspires those who dream of slaughtering us. Congress should hold hearings on the historic patterns, doctrines and principles that drive the radical Islamists. No doubt these facts will make some of our elites uncomfortable. They should. We must understand the deep roots of Islamist beliefs, like the practice of beheading, if we are going to combat them.”
The former speaker closed with an exhortation: Who wants to get America on offense, with a coherent and intelligible strategy, against those who would destroy us?
Said the secretary of State during a news conference on Thursday, “My visit to France is basically to share a big hug with Paris and express the affection of the American people for France and for our friends there, who have been through a terrible time and I don’t feel any other exigencies other than a continuation of our friendship and our responsibilities as good friends and the longest ally in our history and that is why I am going.”
Secretary of State John Kerry (or any American representative) finally got himself to Paris following the massacre of 17 people at the hands of Islamic extremists. Kerry, President Obama, and even Attorney General Eric Holder (who was actually in Paris at the time) were absent from the Unity March in Paris on Sunday.
Family members of the Kouachi brothers denied that either brother showed any signs of extremism that would lead to their murder rampage. The Kouachi brothers slaughtered 12 people at the office of France’s weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo last week.
Both the in-laws of Cherif Kouachi and the wife of Said Kouachi – through a lawyer – told ABC News that they learned of the massacre through the media and that it came as a complete surprise, that neither brother came across as radicals with ties to al Qaeda, as French officials have alleged.
“Her world basically collapsed,” lawyer Antoine Flasaquier said of Said’s wife – whom he declined to name – in an interview in his office in the town of Reims. “When she heard that it was for sure [the brothers who carried out the attack] she was shocked.”
Said’s wife said he was acting normally when he left the house earlier that morning. “He just gave her a kiss and left,” said Flasaquier. “She thinks something happened on his way or when he met his brother because she doesn’t understand.”
“Of course, she does not pretend he was not there [at Charlie Hebdo] but she doesn’t understand how he could kill people, how he could kill journalists and how he ended up killing himself [in self-prompted Friday’s shootout with] the police,” he added. “She doesn’t understand.”
The other brother, Cherif Kouachi, was married into the Hamyd family 2008, after he was released from prison. The family claims they did not know about Cherif’s imprisonment.
“We usually talked about sports, that was the most important topic,” said 18 year-old son Mourad Hamyd, initially named as a third suspect along with the brothers last Wednesday night. A few hours later he turned himself in and after being held for two days by police was released after they confirmed that the aspiring medical student had been in class at the time of the attack.
“He dressed in sneakers and sweatpants, he played soccer, he played videogames, he never talked of religion or anything else,” said Mourad Hamyd’s father in broken and accented French. “He was nice, he had a nice smile. This is my daughter who chose him.”
PJ Media’s national security and terrorism correspondent Patrick Poole got a shout-out on the floor of the House of Representatives this afternoon. Congressman Louie Gohmert (TX-01) read Poole’s year-end article “The National Security ‘Not Top 10′ of 2014” into the Congressional Record:
He followed that up with a shout-out on Twitter:
— Louie Gohmert (@replouiegohmert) January 14, 2015
A Virginia lawmaker (Democrat) was re-elected to the House of Delegates yesterday after he previously resigned from office amid a sex scandal. The scandal involved one of his teenage employees.
Joseph Morrissey is currently in prison but that didn’t bother Richmond, VA, area voters who were just fine with his conviction in the sex scandal involving his 17-year-old secretary. Her nude photos were found on Morrissey’s cell phone.
Morrissey denied any “wrongdoing,” claiming his phone was hacked. The 17-year-old secretary is now pregnant.
“This is a victory for the ages,” University of Mary Washington political science professor Stephen Farnsworth told the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
“Rarely has a politician with as many problems emerged victorious. For a man who has more baggage than Amtrak to win speaks volumes for his ability to connect with the district despite all of his liabilities.”
Writes the Daily Mail:
Prosecutors in Morrissey’s criminal case said that in addition to the sexual relationship he carried on with Myrna Pride, now an 18-year-old college freshman, he sent a naked photo of her to a friend.
Part of the evidence against him, which he read to reporters on the courthouse steps in July, was a text allegedly from his young paramour to a third-party, reading: ‘OMG, I just f***ed my boss.’
Morrissey said from his jail cell that voters in his district aren’t concerned about the drama.
‘They’re interested in my body of work in the General Assembly,’ Morrissey told the Associated Press. ‘Nobody works harder for their constituents than I do.’
He also said Sullivan’s ads focusing on his latest scrape with the law backfired: ‘People hate negative campaigns.’
The newly-elected jailbird said he will try and commute from prison to the statehouse.
While reporting from the ravaged offices of French magazine Charlie Hebdo, CNN host Carol Costello informs the audience that the news company, unlike the murdered employees of Charlie Hebdo, has a policy not to show images of Mohammed that may be offensive.
COSTELLO: “CNN will not show you the new cover which depicts the Prophet Mohammed because it is our policy not to show potentially offensive images of the prophet. Jim Sciutto is with me again this morning. He’s at ‘Charlie Hebdo’s’ offices in Paris. They remained closed but as I said the magazine lives on. Three million copies will be up for sale tomorrow. On the magazine’s cover the Prophet Mohammed holding up a sign with a now famous slogan ‘Je Suis Charlie.’ The cover illustration also includes the words, ‘Everything is Forgiven.’ Jim, I imagine people are waiting in line to buy this magazine.”
SCIUTTO: “Well, Carol, you know, we talked a lot about that enormous show of public support on Sunday. The march through Paris and around the country. More than three million people. All those world leaders showing courage and defiance, speaking with one voice, ‘Je Suis Charlie.’ I think today with the publication of this latest edition of the magazine, yet again with more satire on the cover, we’re seeing the second powerful chapter in this story here. Typical print run is 60,000 copies. Today three million copies. Fifty times. So on Sunday, you have more than three million people in the street showing that courage and that defiance. Today and tomorrow you’re going to have three million copies of this magazine with a similar message there. And I think this is something that the French hold very dear, not just freedom of expression, but perhaps the ability to offend at times or to protect the rights of their journalists, their comedians, their art, to offend, to not draw hard lines like that. And I think that in this publication and, again, in what is expected here to be tremendous demand to purchase this publication, you’re seeing that message delivered very clearly, Carol. And it’s not just defiance, though I will say as we stand once again in front of the memorial here by the ‘Charlie Hebdo’ offices, you see every moment people coming by just to spend a couple of minutes of quiet reflection to show their support for the 12 victims — the 12 victims here, of course 17 in total, in those attacks last week. It is still a somber mood in this country — Carol.”
Following the Islamist attack on a kosher market in Paris, a new survey reveals that Jews in Britain are worried about their future in Europe. The survey of 2,230 British Jews was released on Wednesday by the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism (CAA).
Almost half (45%) of Jews fear they have no future in Britain and 58% fear they have no future in Europe. The survey was conducted online from December 23 to January 11, a period of time that preceded and followed the attack on the kosher market in Paris by Islamic terrorists.
“The results of our survey are a shocking wake-up call straight after the atrocities in Paris,” said CAA chairman Gideon Falter.
“Britain is at a tipping point. Unless anti-Semitism is met with zero tolerance, it will grow and British Jews will increasingly question their place in their own country.”
One-quarter of respondents say they have thought about leaving Britain in the last two years.
According to the CAA, Britain had the most anti-Semitic incidents since antisemitism began being recorded 30 years ago. The AFP writes: “Official figures from London’s metropolitan police showed anti-Semitic crimes more than doubled in the capital over the 12 months to November 2014, compared to the same period a year earlier.”
Another study survey by YouGov found that one-quarter of all Brits believe Jews chase money more than other people. Other disturbing findings: 17% thought Jews have too much power in the media, 13% say the Jews talk about the Holocaust to get sympathy and, in total, 45% believed at least one anti-Semitic statement.
According to event information, a “Stand with the Prophet” Rally is planned this weekend in Texas as a “movement to defend Prophet Muhammad, his person, and his message.” The rally will take place when Muslim leaders come together for the annual Stand With the Prophet in Honor and Respect conference.
The event seeks to counter
“Islamophobes in America” who have turned the Islamic Prophet Muhammad “into an object of hate,” according to organizers, comes just a week after radicalized Islamists in France killed 17 people.
The conference page blames Islam’s bad reputation on the media and Islamophobes who have “invested at least $160 million dollars to attack our Prophet and Islam.”
Writes Free Beacon:
Keynote speakers at the event will include Georgetown University professor John Esposito, founding director of the school’s Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, which has come under fire for, among other things, hosting 9/11 Truthers and a member of Egypt’s Nazi Party.
Also scheduled to attend the forum is controversial New York-based Imam Siraj Wahhaj, who was an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the 1993 World Trade Center bombings trial. Wahhaj has called the FBI and CIA the “real terrorists” and expressed a desire for all Americans to become Muslim, according to the New York Post.
Organizers of the conference claim that the media and Islamophobes in America are the main reason why Islam and its prophet have such a bad reputation in the Western world.
“This is not an event. It is the beginning of a movement,” organizers write on their website, which blames Americans for giving Islam a bad name. “A movement to defend Prophet Muhammad, his person, and his message.”
“All these accusations were invented by Islamophobes in America,” the group claims. “As we celebrate the Prophet in our now annual, nationwide event: Stand with the Prophet, we recommit ourselves to rectify his image, peace be upon him.”
The president of Showtime, David Nevins, said that Homeland writer-producer Alex Gansa might find a new “antagonist” for CIA agent Carrie Mathison on the show Homeland. The network honcho said no decision had been made yet, but assured that the villains in the story would be chosen for creative reasons and not in response to recent terror events.
“Where they’re going to go next year is a little bit up in the air,” Nevins told critics at the Television Critics Association’s semi-annual press tour Monday. “We’re not necessarily going to stay [with addressing] U.S. relations in the Muslim world. The real franchise of the show is how difficult it is to be America in the world in the 21st century, how difficult the choices are. I think that’s a story that will remain relevant for as long as they can come up with new stories. It could be Africa, it could be Europe, it could be back in another place in the Middle East. I don’t expect that show to fall into a formula. I can see it coming back to the U.S. at some point.”
Nevins also mentioned the scary creative environment — “it’s a bit of a scary time to be a maker of controversial, political truth. It’s been a bad month for free speech around the world.”
Homeland has focused on Islamic terrorists in the Middle East and in the United States since it started in 2011. Nevin said he hoped the recent terror attacks in France don’t play into any ideas for the show. “I hope [the attacks are] not considered at all,” he said. “I really, really don’t want there to be any limitations. I don’t expect there will be. They never shied away from anything difficult. I want them to go right into the teeth of it again.”
This is the cover of the new issue of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo that will be published on Wednesday — featuring a crying Muhammad holding a sign in support of the magazine with the headline “all is forgiven.”
It’s the first issue since last week’s massacre by terrorists Cherif and Said Kouachi that left 12 dead, including some of France’s best-known cartoonists.
More from Agence France-Presse:
The paper’s distributors, MLP, had initially planned to print one million copies of the issue currently being put together by survivors of the shooting.
But MLP said demand from France and abroad has been huge and that three million copies would now be released.
The original paper printed at 60,000 copies a week, selling 30,000.
With their headquarters still a crime scene, remaining staff are working out of the offices of daily newspaper Liberation with equipment loaned by the Le Monde daily and cash handed out by other French and even foreign media.
The lawyer for Charlie Hebdo said the upcoming edition of the magazine will feature caricatures of the prophet Mohammad. The surviving employees of the weekly magazine will have a new issue out on Wednesday. The Wednesday issue will be printed in 16 different languages, said Charlie columnist Patrick Pelloux.
Charlie Hebdo’s lawyer, Richard Malka, told French radio the upcoming publication will “obviously” lampoon the Prophet – among other figures – to show staff will “cede nothing” to extremists seeking to silence them.
The surviving staff members have been working out of the offices of Liberation, a french newspaper, and other media companies have loaned the Charlie employees equipment to work. The Charlie offices are still under seal by police and covered in blood.
The magazine will publish 1 million copies of the issue compared to the standard weekly run of around 66,000 copies. The magazine’s contents will be produced “only by people from Charlie Hebdo,” financial director Eric Portheault told AFP. Contributions from cartoonists in other countries and from France were declined.
A published report reveals that “rank and file” New York City police officers have been warned not to take sick days or vacation until the summonses and “low-level” arrests return to the usual levels. “Everyone here is under orders — no time off” during the summons catch-up blitz, said one cop at the 105th Precinct in Queens.
“Police officers around the city are now threatened with transfers, no vacation time and sick time unless they write summonses,” one union source said.
Officers are being ordered to bring in activity sheets, listing the number of arrests and summonses made during each officer’s shift in order to keep track of how much “work” is getting done.
The reported emphasis comes after New York Police Commissioner William Bratton publicly acknowledged Friday that officers in the city had stopped writing tickets and making low-level arrests, though Bratton declined to call it a “slowdown.”
“They never stopped working,” Bratton said. “911 calls were responded to, arrests continued to be made, crime continued to go down.”
Low level arrests for minor crimes like public drunkenness have dropped by half and summonses for criminal activity were down by 90% since the December shooting deaths of officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu.
Bratton said he didn’t think the decrease was warranted and promised “we’ll work to bring things back to normal.”
Twenty demonstrators showed up at former Vice President Dick Cheney’s McLean home in Virgina on Saturday to protest the 13th anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo Bay prison. Some showed up in orange jumpsuits and two people were arrested.
According to Fairfax County spokesman Roger Hernandez, the protestors from the group Code Pink walked up to Cheney’s house before police arrived and asked them to leave. Two of the protestors refused to move along and will face trespassing charges.
Police identified the two as Tighe Barry, 57, and Eve Tetaz, 83, both of Washington DC. The pair face misdemeanor charges of trespassing and disorderly conduct, police said.
Code Pink also demonstrated outside the home of former CIA director John Brennan as part of their “Guantanamo Anniversary Weekend Torturers Tour.” Brennan lives in the same suburb of McLean as Cheney
Cheney has defended the government’s use of harsh interrogation techniques on terror suspects after the 9/11 attacks.
As Americans are rejoicing over falling gasoline prices, the Senate is preparing to introduce a gas tax hike. The increase would serve to eliminate the deficit in the Federal Highway Trust Fund, which pays for bridges and roads around the country.
Although some GOP senators are opposed to a tax hike, some are leading the charge to move forward. Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) along with Chris Dodd (D-CT) have proposed a 12 cent gas tax hike over two years. In order to make the hike more agreeable to anti-tax senators, they promise to lower other taxes.
Currently, there is an 18.4 cent tax on gasoline — last raised in 1993. Revenue from that tax isn’t cutting it anymore as cars are becoming increasingly fuel efficient. Meanwhile, stopgap funding for the Federal Highway Trust Fund is running out and projects are being held up. The fund will be short more than $160 billion over the next ten years.
Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) , chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said the gas tax could not be ruled out. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, also agreed.
Corker said he is looking for a permanent fix to the fund’s deficit. “We’re open to all kinds of ways in dealing with this,” Corker said. “But one thing I will lay in the railroad tracks over is any kind of short-term, kick-the-can-down-the-road (approach).”
Speaker of the House John Boehner is opposed to a gas tax hike and said Thursday: “There are a lot of people with a lot of ideas. We’ve got to find a way to deal with America’s crumbling infrastructure and we need to do it in a long-term program that is in fact funded.”
Russia has released new road safety regulations that ban people with “sexual disorders from driving.” Among this group are transexuals and transvestites, and the AP writes this is ” ostensibly for medical reasons.”
The regulations have been criticized by human rights activists.
“The new Russian rules banning people from driving because of their gender identity are ridiculous and unlawful,” Nils Muiznieks, human rights commissioner for the Council of Europe, said in a message posted Friday on Facebook. He urged Russia “to immediately amend the rules to remove this ban.”
The government resolution was signed on December 29, 2014, by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and lists certain medical conditions including people with “mental and behavioral disorders” defined by World Health Organizations that the Russian government thinks should disqualify someone from driving.
WHO is not amused: “That is certainly not the intent of WHO’s classifications,” said Shekhar Saxena, director of WHO’s mental health department. He said they were meant to lead to more reliable diagnosis, so “for example, when someone is diagnosed with a disease in Germany, they would get the same diagnosis in France.”
Human Rights First called the new rules an “alarming violation” of the rights of the transgender community. Shawn Gaylord of Human Rights First said in a statement that the new rule “leaves the door open for increased harassment, persecution and discrimination of transgender people by Russian authorities.”
Speaking in Phoeniz, Arizona, yesterday, President Obama told his audience not to go out and buy a gas guzzling car just because gas prices are low right now.
“Gas prices aren’t going to be low forever, so don’t start suddenly saying you don’t have to worry about fuel efficiency,” Obama told a crowd in Phoenix on Thursday.
“If you’re going out shopping for a new car, don’t think it’s always going to be this low, because then you’ll be surprised and you’ll be mad at me later … and I’ll be able to say, ‘I told you don’t get a gas guzzler because gas is going to go back up.’
“But while it’s low, enjoy it. And feel free to spend some of that money on local businesses, who then will hire more people and put more folks back to work.”
A California newspaper office was vandalized late Wednesday night or Thursday morning with the message “The border is illegal, not the people who cross it.”
The front office of Santa Barbara News-Press had that message spray painted with red paint across the wall, according to the paper’s director of operations Donald Katich. “The attack came amid wider objections to a News-Press headline that used the word ‘illegals’ alongside a story on California granting driver’s licenses to people in the country illegally.”
“The vandalism and the damage speak for itself, as well as the motivation behind it,” Santa Barbara Police Officer Mitch Jan said. “At this point in time, I don’t really have any suspect information. Without cameras or an eyewitness, we really don’t know who would be responsible.”
There was also graffiti on the walkway through Storke Plaza and the sidewalk near Santa Barbara City Hall “espousing a no-borders mentality.” Protests were expected later this week.
The newspaper released a statement saying it will not stop using the term illegal immigrants.
“It has been the practice for nearly 10 years at the Santa Barbara News-Press to describe people living in this country illegally as ‘illegals’ regardless of their country of origin,” the statement read.
“It is an appropriate term in describing someone as ‘illegal’ if they are in this country illegally,” the statement added.
Some newspapers have stopped using the term. In 2013, the Associated Press and the Los Angeles Times banned the phrase, saying it “lacked precision.” On the other hand, the Washington Post, New York Times and Wall Street Journal all use the term.
Lebanon’s “homegrown” 21-year-old porn star Mia Khalifa is in the middle of a controversy in her home country. Social media in Lebanon is divided “on moral grounds” over Lebanese-American Khalifa, who now lives in Miami’s South Beach and is the most searched-for “actress” on the website PornHub.
It’s a far cry from the country’s other search engine favorite, Amal Alamuddin (Mrs. George Clooney).
In much of Khalifa’s “work,” she appears performing sex acts wearing a hijab.
Some reactions have not been positive.
hijab is something holy, and beautiful, having sex on camera with it is degrading it’s meaning.
— frunc (@phantasmagorix) January 6, 2015
To which Khalifa responded:
“Doesn’t the Middle East have more important things to worry about besides me?”
Some critics were a little harsher.
@miakhalifa This will be so funny when you die and find out there is a God hahahahahaha
— Muhammad Khalaf (@Muhammaad11) January 3, 2015
Juliana Yazbeck, a writer at NOW Lebanon, was concerned about Khalifa’s effect on other Lebanese women. “It never even crossed my mind to think, ‘she doesn’t have the right.’ What did cross my mind was: ‘Really? Of the very few Lebanese women who are making global headlines, it had to be a porn star?’”
But Khalifa has her supporters: Gino Raidy, a Lebanese blogger, wrote, “I think it’s pretty great that at a time when the Lebanese government and authorities are following in the footsteps of our ultra-conservative Arab counterparts and banning porn sites in Lebanon, one of our own topped the charts of the biggest names in online porn.”
Last night, comedian Louis C.K. appeared at Madison Square Garden showing his support for the murder victims at the French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo.
The comedian wore “a red T-shirt with the magazine’s name written on it in black ink.”
“The words appeared to be handwritten, although it was unclear whether Louis C.K. himself made the shirt.”
Others public figures demonstrated their support for the satire magazine after 12 people were gunned down and murdered by men screaming “Allahu akbar.”
Salman Rushdie also came out publicly against the attacks, as did Jon Stewart, who said “Comedy shouldn’t be an act of courage.”
— Mike Ivers (@TheMikeIvers) January 8, 2015
On Tuesday, Curt Schilling was denied entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame for the third year in a row and he shared some thoughts about the “snub.” The former pitcher claimed that being a “high-profile” Republican caused some HOF voters to leave him off their ballots.
Schilling speculated in an interview with Boston radio station WEEI yesterday and asserted that new Hall of Famer John Smoltz got the votes because of his Democrat leanings.
“[Smoltz] is a Hall-of-Famer. And I think the other big thing is that I think he’s a Democrat, and so… I know that as a Republican, that there’s some people who really don’t like that,” Schilling said.
(Smoltz donated to Mitt Romney’s campaign in 2012.)
The hosts went along with Shilling’s claim, saying: “If you’d just said, ‘vote Kerry,’ you might be in the Hall of Fame right now.” To which Schilling responded, “Absolutely.”
Schilling’s comments raised some ire on Twitter, to which the pitcher responded that he was only joking.
@MoRings42 Listen to the interview, then shut your pie hole. It was said in jest you dink.
— Curt Schilling (@gehrig38) January 7, 2015