State Senator Tony Avella of Queens, NY is looking to ban machete possession in New York after recent machete attacks and plans to introduce a bill to do so.
“The fact that anyone can easily purchase this potentially lethal tool is just crazy,” he said.
In NY, smaller knives and switchblades are already banned, but machetes are classified along the lines of butcher knives. Butcher knives are probably next.
Carrying a switchblade or a smaller knife can face jail time or fines. “New Yorkers carrying those knives can be ticketed for a blade longer than 4 inches, an administrative code violation. They face up to 15 days in jail and a $300 fine.”
Under Avella’s proposed legislation, possession of a machete would get you up to one year in jail.
Two recent incidents kicked-off the obsession with get machetes off the streets. Last summer, a man hacked up a teenager to death. He purchased the weapon on Craigslist. Another incident in the Bronx involving a man who pulled a machete out of his umbrella.
Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani took a swipe at President Obama while speaking at a private dinner featuring Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
The former New York mayor, speaking in front of the 2016 Republican presidential contender and about 60 right-leaning business executives and conservative media types, directly challenged Obama’s patriotism, discussing what he called weak foreign policy decisions and questionable public remarks when confronting terrorists.
“I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America,” Giuliani said during the dinner at the 21 Club, a former Prohibition-era speakeasy in midtown Manhattan. “He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.”
Giuliani went on to say “with all our flaws we’re the most exceptional country in the world. I’m looking for a presidential candidate who can express that, do that and carry it out.”
“And if it’s you, Scott, I’ll endorse you,” he added. “And if it’s somebody else, I’ll support somebody else.”
Walker’s aides said all of Giuliani’s remarks were off the record.
One of Krispy Kreme’s UK branches is apologizing for a sign promoting Krispy Kreme Klub (KKK) after people complained.
The Hull branch of the doughnut chain had posted an advertisement for the event on its Facebook page.
KKK Wednesdays was to be part of the doughnut shop’s half-term activities – a series of planned events for children during a week-long break from school.
Krispy Kreme removed their Facebook post yesterday after users pointed out that KKK stands for Ku Klux Klan.
“Krispy Kreme apologises unreservedly for the inappropriate name of a customer promotion at one of our stores,” a spokeswoman for Krispy Kreme told the Guardian.
“This promotion was never intended to cause offence. All material has been withdrawn and an internal investigation is currently underway.”
Fortunately, other activities are planed this week, such as Colouring Tuesday and Face Painting Thursday.
Even the losers are winners at the Oscars.
All of the best actor/actress, best supporting actor/actress and best director contenders at the 87th annual Academy Awards will be receiving gift bags valued at more than $125,000.
Variety reports some of the contents of the Oscar Swag Bag are:
- A luxury train ride through the Canadian rockies ($14,500)
- A package of French Mediterranean sea salts ($1,500)
- Three-night stay at a resort in Tuscany ($1,500)
- “Glamping” trip ($12,500)
- One year of Audi A4 car rentals ($20,000)
- Reset Yourself “lifestyle makeover package” ($14,200)
- Afterglow vibrator ($250) [WHAT??]
- Haze vaporizer ($200)
- Wellness 360 gift pack ($1,200)
- Custom candy and dessert buffet gift certificate ($800)
- Custom silver necklace with latitude and longitude coordinates of Dolby Theater engraved ($150)
The single priciest item in bag is a $20,000 gift certificate to Enigma Life, which involves the company’s founder Olessia Kantor flying out to each star to “discuss their 2015 horoscope, analyze dreams and teach them mind control techniques.”
Last year’s bag was only worth $80K. The bags are not affiliated with the Academy Awards but distributed through a company called Distinctive Assets.
The New York Post is reporting that “perverted ISIS militants are trying to score Viagra to fuel their lust for ‘brutal and abnormal’ sex, according to a shocking report from activists in the terror group’s main Syrian stronghold.”
Although ISIS claims to be pious and “ultraconservative,” the report reveals that ISIS is forcing women in Raqqa to marry them and engage in “savage sex acts” that require hospital treatment.
The jihadists also buy kinky lingerie — described in the report as “strange underwear” — for their reluctant brides, according to the “Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently” activist group.
“A large section of ISIS members suffer from sexual anomalies and brutal instinctive desire for sex,” the group wrote on its Web site.
One girl even committed suicide, rather than fall into the hands of an ISIS pervert.
ISIS took over Raqqa in 2013 and has since captured at least 3,000 women from areas in Iraq. A report by the Minority Rights Group International and Ceasefire Centre for Civilian Rights stated some of the women kidnapped were forced to marry the terrorists while some were forced in to sexual slavery.
The report said firsthand accounts from victims who spoke secretly by phone in August revealed that ISIS fighters were raping women on a daily basis, with some victims begging the activists to arrange airstrikes on their locations and end their suffering.
One kidnapped girl who belongs to the minority Yazidi religious group also said she was among 350 girls transported to Syria and offered for sale “as if in a chicken market.”
Police are unable to find any evidence that the murder of three Muslim students was driven by anti-Muslim sentiment.
The Facebook page of Craig Hicks — the man accused of killing three Muslim college students on Feb. 10 — seems to paint a picture of a person who supports an individual’s right to his own beliefs, even as he clearly despises organized religion.
Hicks shot three Muslim students execution-style last week: Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23; his wife, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21; and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19.
The New York Post reports that ”police said they have yet to uncover any evidence” the students were singled out for the their religion.
Hicks was brazen about his disdain for all faiths. But he was just as passionate about personal liberty — championing an individual’s right to worship or not, legal abortion and gay marriage and, perhaps most fervently, the right to own and bear arms. If he has a creed, it’s the Second Amendment.
According to senior administration officials, the summit beginning this week on countering violent extremism will not focus exclusively on violence from the Islamic State. Although the Islamic terrorist group has killed several Americans, other hostages and innocent people, “one of three officials previewing the summit for reporters on Monday said violent extremists ‘come in all shapes and sizes.’”
The three-day conference will highlight domestic and international efforts to prevent extremists and their supporters from radicalizing, recruiting and inspiring others, particularly disaffected young people. The conference is designed to share best practices and emerging strategies to prevent extremists from carrying out violent acts.
Vice President Joe Biden will open the summit by meeting with representatives from three cities: Boston, Los Angeles and Minneapolis. Each of the cities has programs in place to counter this non-specific, unidentified extremism. The White House wants to “push them forward” and hold them out as an example for the rest of the country.
President Obama will also address a group at the White House on Wednesday that will discuss how other cities are dealing with this non-specified extremism.
Obama will also deliver remarks Thursday at the State Department, where representatives of some 60 countries are scheduled to meet. The White House did not release the complete list of participating countries, though representatives from the United Kingdom, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait are expected to attend, one of the officials said.
Numerous representatives will attend the summit from the private sector, social media and non governmental organizations.
Government surveyors have revised the height of the Washington Monument and will announce the official height on Monday.
The new measurement puts the obelisk’s height at 554 feet, 7 and 11/32 inches, as measured from the floor of the main entrance to the top. Since the monument’s completion in 1884, however, the official height has been recorded as 555 feet, 5 and 1/8 inches.
The size change comes from measuring from a different base point. Fox News writes “Dru Smith, chief geodesist with the National Geodetic Survey, tells the Associated Press that modern international standards from the Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat call for a different base point than what was likely used in the 1880s.”
“The building didn’t change height because of anything; it is just where you start from,” Smith said.
The only physical change in the building was a small amount at the top that had eroded over time, probably from lightening strikes.
“Well, this time around, we took very careful measurements,” Smith said. “We were able to determine about 3/8 of an inch had been melted off from the very top.”
The new survey results will allow the National Geodetic Survey and National Park Service to have a baseline for tracking any future changes of the monument.
FBI Director Jame Comey made a reference to Broadway and a sweeping generalization yesterday while speaking to a crowd at Georgetown University. Comey shared a “hard truth” with his audience.
“Many people in our white-majority culture have unconscious racial biases and react differently to a white face than a black face,” Comey said in a speech at Georgetown University.
“We all — white and black — carry various biases around with us.
“I am reminded of the song ‘Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist’ from the Broadway hit ‘Avenue Q.’”
Comey recited the lines that “No one’s really colorblind” and “everyone makes judgments based on race.”
Comey went on to elaborate:
“Latent biases” play out when officers are on patrol and have to make decisions, the FBI chief said.
“Two young black men on one side of the street look like so many others the officer has locked up. Two young white men on the other side of the street — even in the same clothes — do not. The officer does not make the same association about the two white guys, whether that officer is white or black . . . The officer turns toward one side of the street and not the other.”
The director switched gears slightly, praising law enforcement.
“Law enforcement is not the root cause of problems in our hardest-hit neighborhoods,” he said.
“Police officers — people of enormous courage and integrity, in the main — are in those neighborhoods, risking their lives, to protect folks from offenders who are the product of problems that will not be solved by body cameras.”
Comey also encouraged better data collection of crime statistics. “It’s ridiculous that I can’t tell you how many people were shot by the police last week, last month, last year,” Comey said.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) February 12, 2015
ISIS’s English-Language Magazine ‘Dabiq’ Celebrates Attacks in France, Features Interview with Leader of Belgian ISIS Cell
Reprinted with permission from MEMRI.
On February 12, 2015, the Islamic State (ISIS) released the seventh issue of its English-language magazine Dabiq. The 83-page issue celebrates the recent attacks in Paris, justifies the burning of the Jordanian pilot, and calls for Muslims in the West to join ISIS, among other topics discussed. It also includes interviews with Hayat Boumeddiene, the wife of Paris kosher supermarket attacker Amedy Coulibaly, and with Belgian ISIS fighter Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the leader of the Verviers cell that planned major attacks in Belgium.
The following is a review of the main items in the issue:
‘Dabiq’: Japan Responsible For Death Of Japanese Hostages
The issue opens with a foreword that addresses the recent killing of the two Japanese hostages. It asserts that the Japanese government and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are responsible for their deaths because they took sides in the war against ISIS instead of staying out of it, and therefore ISIS punished Japan for its intervention.
Burning Of Jordanian Pilot – Retribution
Another article justifies and glorifies the burning of the Jordanian pilot. It states that “the Islamic State resolved to burn him alive as retribution for his crimes against Islam and the Muslims, including his active involvement in crusader airstrikes against Muslim lands.” It adds that, “in burning the crusader pilot alive and burying him under a pile of debris, the Islamic State carried out a just form of retaliation for his involvement in the crusader bombing campaign.” Referring to Jordan’s execution of two jihadis, Sajida Al-Rishawi and Ziad Al-Karbuli, in retaliation for this act, the article explains that ISIS attempted to secure their release but “Allah had decreed that they would return to him as shuhada [martyrs].”
Interview With Leader Of Verviers Cell That Planned Major Attacks In Belgium
The issue also features an interview with Abdelhamid Abaaoud, aka Abu Umar Al-Baljiki, the leader of the ISIS cell which had planned attacks in Belgium and was the target of the Belgian authority’s January 15, 2015 raid in Verviers. In the interview Abaaoud tells how he traveled from Syria to Belgium with the intent of carrying out terrorism there, and how he avoided being caught in the raid and managed to return to Syria despite being wanted by security and intelligence apparatuses, and despite the fact that his name and photo had appeared in the media. He also discusses his co-conspirators, Belgian ISIS members Khalid Ben Larbi (aka Abu Zubair Al-Baljiki) and Sufian Amghar (aka Abu Khalid Al-Baljiki), who traveled with him to Belgium and were killed in the shootout with the security forces.[i]
Praise For Paris Attacks
The issue deals at length with the January 2015 attacks in Paris. As part of this, it features an interview with Hayat Boumeddiene, the wife of kosher supermarket attacker Amedy Coulibaly (aka Abu Basir Al-Ifriqi), who fled to Syria prior to the attack. Boumeddiene, referred to as Umm Basir Al-Muhajirah, discusses her successful escape to the Islamic State and her late husband’s devotion to ISIS’s ideology. Another piece, titled “The Good Example of Abu Basir Al-Ifriqi,” stresses Coulibaly’s piety and devotion to Islam. The piece includes an interview with one of Coulibaly’s associates, who praises his generosity and the good deeds he did during his life, such as preaching Islam and financially assisting the Kouachi brothers, perpetrators of the Charie Hebdo attack.
The issue’s feature article, titled “The Extinction of the Grayzone,” states that the world is now clearly divided into two camps – the camp of Islam, represented by ISIS, and the camp of unbelief – and Muslims in the West must therefore choose whether to join ISIS or side with its enemies. The article, which is accompanied by photos of Muslim leaders in the West, exhorts the West’s Muslims to renounce “apostate” and “traitor” Muslim leaders and institutions, such as clerics who spoke out against the Paris attacks. It also urges them to attack those who mock Islam’s prophet, and even insinuates that moderate Muslims should be killed. While glorifying various attacks carried out in Europe, such as the Madrid and London bombings, it also stresses that, after the establishment of the Islamic State’s caliphate, Muslims in the West no longer have an excuse to stay in the West. Rather, they must leave their countries and come to the territories controlled by ISIS.
The article also denounces rival groups for not recognizing ISIS’s caliphate and joining it. It especially bashes Al-Qaeda and Syrian rebel groups that refuse to recognize ISIS as the only legitimate authority. The article accuses them of being partisans for their group and of being lax in their faith and ideology, and claims that, by maintaining a neutral position between ISIS and the West, they are actually accomplices of the latter.
An article written by British captive John Cantlie rails against the Western media, and in particular the British and French media, for their campaign against ISIS, and also lashes out at British Prime Minister David Cameron and Western governments for their military attack on the organization, while claiming that the airstrikes actually increases ISIS’s appeal to new recruits.
ISIS Claims To Capture “Mossad Spy”
In an item titled “An Interview with a Mossad Spy” presents the alleged confession of a 19-year-old from Jerusalem who, the magazine claims, was recruited by Israeli intelligence to infiltrate the organization. He speaks of his recruitment and training and tells how he was caught.
Operations In Libya
In this issue ISIS also discusses two recent operations in Libya. First, it claims responsibility for the kidnapping of 21 Egyptian Copts in that country in early January 2015, and explains this was revenge for the kidnapping by Copts of Egyptian women Camilia Shehate and Wafa Constantine in 2010. Second, it celebrates its January 27 attack on the Corinthia hotel in Tripoli, in which nine were killed, including five foreigners, one of them an American.[ii]
Another topic discussed is ISIS’s expansion in the Caucasus, where several jihadi groups have pledged their loyalty to the organization, and in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, which ISIS now refers to as ‘the Khurasan province,’ after some groups there also declared their loyalty to Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.[iii]
[i] For more on this item, see MEMRI JTTM report, “Dabiq VII Features Interview With Runaway Belgian ISIS Fighter Abdelhamid Abaaoud,” February 12, 2015.
[ii] For more on this attack, see MEMRI JTTM report “ISIS ‘Tripoli Province’ Claims Attack On Corinthia Hotel”,
January 28, 2015; for more on ISIS activity in Libya, see MEMRI JTTM report, “Changing Dynamics In The Global Jihad Movement (3): The Growing Presence Of ISIS In Libya”, January 29, 2015.
[iii] For more on this see MEMRI JTTM report Commanders Of Ten Pakistani And Afghan Jihadist Organizations Swear Fealty To ISIS Leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, Hafiz Saeed Khan Chosen As First ISIS Emir For Khorasan Region, January 16, 2015.
Although Jeb Bush has not officially announced his intentions for 2016, should he throw his hat in the ring he’ll start with a serious problem.
The former Florida governor, who hasn’t held elected office in almost a decade, missed the chance to purchase several domain names related to his name and presidential ambitions, giving their owners free reign to make political mischief on websites that potential Bush supporters might visit.
And unfortunately for Jeb, the new owners of his domain name are not fans.
In 2008, a gay couple living in Austin, Texas, CJ Phillips and Charlie Rainwater, bought the rights to the domain name JebBushforPresident.com in response to perceived anti-gay sentiment in Texas at the time. They had hoped their site would encourage Bush supporters to participate in LGBTQA conversations.
“This was our original intent; you know, let’s educate people,” Phillips told ABC News. “Let’s try to encourage people to talk to each other about these sorts of things.”
Another website was bought by Republicans, but Republicans who do not want Jeb for President. “Another site, JebBushforPresident.net, was created by a self-described ‘loyal Republican in the hope of saving the Republican Party from supporting Jeb Bush for president,’ and features a plethora of anti-Bush sentiments.”
And not all “Jeb Bush” website owners did so to make a political point. “Rick Katz, an attorney from Miami, bought Jebbush.us. But, luckily for Bush, Katz is eager to sell to the highest bidder. The former governor has yet to make the purchase and the site is still up for grabs.”
On the other hand, Michael Bloomberg bought up 400 different domain names related to his name, including Bloombergistooshort.nyc.
A new domain, .vote, can help those who have otherwise been “cyber-squatted.”
The new domain promises domain names “are only used by legitimate political candidates, political parties, referendums, ballot initiative campaigns and other political participants.”
Monolith Registry is promoting a new top-level domain, dotVOTE (.VOTE) and its Spanish/Italian/Portugueseequivalent, dotVOTE (.VOTO), with safeguards to prevent political cybersquatting.
Chuck Warren, Monolith Registry’s management member and a political consultant with Utah ties, said candidates and committees that adopt .VOTE domains will find a safe and respectful environment for voter interaction without having to worry about cybersquatting.
Looks like Jeb Bush ought to make a call to the .vote folks.
Republican Rep. Dave Moore introduced a bill on Tuesday that would have “expanded the definition of indecent exposure to include garments that give the appearance of a person’s buttocks, genitals, pelvis or female nipple.” However, the Montana State House Judiciary “voted unanimously to table House Bill 365,” so Moore’s bill is dead.
The Republican from Missoula said he wouldn’t have a problem with people being arrested for wearing such provocative clothing such as tight-fitting beige garments. Moore also said yoga pants should be illegal.
The AP reports that members “giggled” about the bill before there was a voice vote to table it.
Moore and retired professor Walt Hill drafted HB 365 after last year’s Bare as you Dare bicycle event outraged some residents last summer. Fearing that denying organizers an event permit would breach free speech, city officials allowed participants, many of them completely nude, to ride through downtown Missoula on Aug. 17.
Talk about a slippery slope: we move from “completely naked” to “yoga pants.”
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1991 that state prohibitions on public nudity are constitutional given that nudity itself is not an expression. Bare as you Dare organizers call the event a celebration of body image and bicyclists’ right to use public roads.
Should you decide to indecently expose yourself in Montana, you would be looking at up to a $10,000 fine and possible life in prison.
Yesterday, a federal judge ruled in favor of the government in a lawsuit claiming the National Security Agency is conducting an illegal dragnet of internet and telephone records as they search out terrorists.
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White in Oakland said the plaintiffs in the case — AT&T customers — had not shown that all AT&T customers’ Internet communications were currently the subject of a “dragnet seizure and search program, controlled by or at the direction of the Government,” and they therefore did not have standing to file a lawsuit under the Fourth Amendment, which protects against warrantless searches and seizures.
According to the judge, the plaintiffs misunderstood “key parts of the data collection process.” He went to state that even if the plaintiffs had standing to bring suit, a Fourth Amendment claim would have to be dismissed in favor of government secrecy and national security.
“The Court is frustrated by the prospect of deciding the current motions without full public disclosure of the Court’s analysis and reasoning…,” White wrote in his ruling. “The Court is persuaded that its decision is correct both legally and factually and furthermore is required by the interests of national security.”
Nate Cardozo of the Electronic Freedom Foundation who brought the suit was disappointed.
“What we want is a court to rule on the merits of the NSA’s program,” he said. “Is what they are doing legal? Is it constitutional? The court didn’t do that. It didn’t say ‘yes’ or ‘no.’”
The EFF plans to continue fighting the case.
Facebook is getting “aggressive” about tagging people in photos posted on the social networking site. Its facial-recognition software, with the creepy name DeepFace, is going through the massive archive of photos and identifying people.
And the software is good at it.
In fact, DeepFace is now “as accurate as a human being at a few constrained facial recognition tasks,” according to Science.
If you don’t want to be tagged in a photo, say an old photo from your carefree college days, Facebook will tag it for you.
“They’re going back to older photos,” said CNET’s Dan Ackerman, and tagging anyone the software recognizes. And it recognizes a lot of people. That’s because the more photos uploaded of the same people, the better the software gets at recognizing faces that pop up over and over again. And users upload some 400 million new photos a day. That’s a lot of learning.
“It knows other people you know, it knows their faces,” Ackerman added. “It has a lot of examples of those faces. That’s how facial recognition works; it needs a bunch of different samples to be able to guess at what it is.”
There is a way to turn it off, but “Facebook doesn’t tend to make that particularly easy.”
Republished with permission from MEMRI
Egyptian TV Host Ibrahim Issa: Nobody Dares to Admit That ISIS Crimes Are Based on Islamic Sources.
ON TV (Egypt) – February 3, 2015
If you’re concerned about the growing cultural propensity for voyeurism, some help is on the way.
Now that drones are widely available for public purchase and use, noflyzone.org lets you establish a no-snoop area over your property.
According to TechCrunch, “a number of drone hardware and software firms have already promised to honor your request. Among the partners in this effort are EHANG (the company behind the Ghost drone), Horizon Hobby, DroneDeploy, YUNEEC, HEXO+, PixiePath and RCFlyMaps.”
Not all the drone manufacturers are on board yet, but noflyzone.org is reaching out to them.
Using NoFlyZone, home owners can register their address and create a geofence around their property. Oddly enough, though, you don’t have to prove that you own a specific property.
If you’re worried that Amazon’s future drone army will not be able to deliver Amazon purchases to your home, never fear.
And don’t worry if you want to sign up now, but still want Amazon’s delivery drones to be able to drop off orders in the future. The company website explains that airspace over private land will become “customisable” when delivery drones become available.
The no-fly scheme follows “rules laid out by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which restricts drones from flying over the White House.” Airspace and military bases are also off-limits.
Can the bar get any lower for humanity where “selfless” are concerned?
Ray Mangan, a 16 year old, was found with a fatal gunshot wound in his home on February 4. His funeral was held yesterday.
Maxwell Morton, also 16 yearsold, was arrested and charged with criminal homicide.
Police say they identified Morton through a selfie he took. They say the picture shows Morton next to Mangan’s body, which authorities found in the same position and condition.
According to the Associated Press, Morton “sent a cellphone selfie that also showed another teen he had just fatally shot in the face, sitting in a chair, investigators said in court papers charging the teen.”
How did the police find out about the selfie?
Investigators zeroed in on Morton after the mother of a third boy called police a day after the shooting to report that Morton had sent her son the picture with Mangan’s lifeless body in the background.
The photo “depicted the victim sitting in the chair with a gunshot wound to the face,” which, police said, is how Mangan’s mother found her son when she returned home at about 6 p.m. that day. The Snapchat photo had the name Maxwell at the top, and Morton also sent the same boy text messages saying, “Told you I cleaned up the shells” and “Ryan was not the last one,” according to the criminal complaint.
This is what happens when one’s narcissism trumps one’s psychopathy.
Morton was charged with first-degree murder.
A Brazilian woman deflected a bullet thanks to her under wire bra, according to the Daily Mail. Ivete Medeiros was hit by a bullet when she exited a supermarket to check out some kind of commotion outside. (Probably not the greatest idea.)
Surveillance video shows her being assisted as her husband calls for help. She was relieved not to see any blood — but then felt “a little burning sensation” and found the round stuck in her bra.
Medeiros showed reporters where the bullet was stopped by the under wire.
This isn’t the first time a bra has stopped a bullet. “In 2009, the underwire of a Detroit woman’s bra deflected a bullet fired during a break-in at a neighbor’s home, the Associated Press reported.”
No word on what brand of bra Medeiros was wearing.
From Al-Aqsa TV (Hamas/Gaza) – January 23, 2015
The music industry’s elite went home from the Grammys with a fancy swag bag filled with $25,000 worth of loot. Nominees, presenters and performers will took home a treasure chest of freebies the other 99% can only dream about.
Distinctive Assets has hosted the Grammy Gift Lounge and packaged the accompanying gift bag for 16 years now.
Some of the more impressive contents:
A $69 pillow for frequent travelers from NapAnywhere
A $109 Activity tracker from Polar Loop
$150-$350 designer sunglasses from Marchon
$210 worth of MyntSmile porcelain veneer toothpaste ($210 toothpaste!?!?!)
$275 of Dorco’s Razors
A $300 car shaped purse from Braccialini
A $300Necklace from SIS by Simone I. Smith
3 fitness sessions with expert trainer Lalo Fuentes worth $300
$500 in Sean Jean Clothes
$500 in aromatherapy and nutritional consultation with acupuncturist Heather Loundsbury
$800 custom candy buffet by Candy Vixen
$1,100 of branded Gibson Guitars
$1,200 of Healing Saint products from Wellness 360
A $14,500 luxury rail trip through the Canadian Rockies
Secretary of State John Kerry appeared on Meet the Press on Sunday and told Chuck Todd he’s not ruling out a run.
Todd: “Is there any scenario that you would run for president in 2016?”
Kerry: ”I have no scenario whatsoever in my mind. I haven’t thought about it. As you can tell, I’m pretty busy.”
Todd : (laughs) ”I know. Is it a never say never?
Kerry: ”Well, nobody says never. But I’m not — never — I have no concept of it.”
These guys might have something to say about that:
Reprinted with permission from MEMRI.
Following ISIS’s execution of Jordanian pilot Mu’adh Al-Kasasbeh by burning him alive, Hamas and its leaders condemned the act, but also took the opportunity to express their principled objection to foreign intervention in the region and to foreign military action against Muslims, and to the cooperation of Arab countries with such intervention. They held Jordan responsible for the death of the pilot due to its participation in the anti-ISIS coalition alongside Western countries. One official even said explicitly that it was forbidden to “help the enemies of Allah against the believers.”
Fatah’s spokesman, in response, compared Hamas to ISIS and the Taliban.
The following are excerpts from some Hamas responses:
A statement issued by Hamas following the pilot’s execution said: “We condemn all forms of murder and violence against members of the Arab and Muslim nation.”
Hamas PLC member Sheikh Salem Salama said that Jordan was responsible for the pilot’s death, “because it sent its army to Syria to assist the Syrian regime against the rebels, [thus intervening in] a war that it shouldn’t have entered. [Jordan] should have taken a stance similar to Turkey’s. ISIS members are Muslims, and it is forbidden to help the enemies of Allah against the believers.” Another Hamas PLC member, Yahya Moussa, responded to the execution on his Facebook page with the words “savageness, backwardness, cruelty and barbarity,” but added that the ones responsible for Al-Kasasbeh’s death were “the political leadership that sent [him], as well as the Obama administration and the corrupt Arab regimes.”
Yahya Moussa’s Facebook post (Facebook.com/yahia.mousa.200?fref=ts, February 3, 2015)
Senior Hamas official Salah Al-Bardawil took a similar position. On the one hand, he condemned the murder, stating that “burning the pilot contravenes Islam; moreover the act and its publication can hurt Islam and the Muslims and blacken their image. The major winners are the ummah’s enemies, chiefly Israel.” He added that the pilot’s captors could have freed him or exchanged him (for prisoners they wanted released). On the other hand, he clarified: “We in Hamas are firmly opposed to any intervention by Western countries in Arab states, and believe that it can set the region ablaze and feed religious and sectarian conflicts, and that the Arab nations will [be the ones] paying the price.”
Fatah spokesman Jamal Nazzal condemned the statements by the Hamas PLCs members who had imposed responsibility on Jordan, saying that the religion of Hamas, ISIS, the Taliban and other organizations involved in the murder of Muslims and Arabs is like a tree that is diseased, root and branch.
 Palinfo.com, February 4, 2015.
 Raya.ps, February 4, 2015.
 Palinfo.com, February 4, 2015.
 Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), February 5, 2015.
If you have the cash, the noose used to hang Saddam Hussein can now be yours.
Ex-Prime Minister Mowaffak Al-Rubaie has put the item up for sale more than eight years after he witnessed Hussein hanged in 2006. An unidentified senior Iraqi political official told the Middle East news site Al-Araby al-Jadeed this week that several individuals from Israel, Iran and Kuwait are vying to purchase the rope — with one making a $7 million bid.
How much exactly is the noose worth? It’s hard to say but Al-Rubaie is hoping for more than the current $7M bid.
He obtained the noose after “after they cut Saddam down,” he told The Independent.
There has been no comment from the Iraqi government about the sale, but local law enforcement say any money made from the noose’s sale must go to the state’s treasury.
Reprinted with permission from MEMRI.
A communiqué issued February 4, 2015, by the Islamic State’s (ISIS) General Security Bureau announces that the organization offers a reward to anyone killing or wounding a Jordanian pilot and thereby preventing him from taking part in airstrikes against the Islamic State. Appended to the communiqué is a list of Jordanian pilots allegedly supplied by the captured pilot Mu’adh Al-Kasasbeh before he was burned alive. Muslims in Jordan and Syria are urged to attack these pilots or alternatively provide information on their whereabouts.
The following are the main points of the communiqué, which was posted on the Twitter account of an ISIS media operative:[i]
The communiqué begins with Koranic verses (Al-Tawbah 14-15): “Fight against them so that Allah will punish them by your hands and disgrace them and give you victory over them and heal the breasts of the believers, and remove the anger of the believers’ hearts. Allah accepts the repentance of whom He wills. Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.”[ii] It then states: “The Islamic State’s Shura Council offers a reward to anyone killing or wounding a Jordanian pilot and preventing him from flying as part of the Crusader coalition that is attacking Muslims in the Islamic State”. The communiqué specifies that the reward is 100 gold dinars in Islamic State currency, or the equivalent in any currency the recipient prefers. It notes that the Islamic State is willing to dispatch the sum to any location selected by the recipient, provided he demonstrates he has met all the conditions for receiving the money.
Appended to the communiqué is a list of 52 Jordanian pilots whose names were allegedly supplied by Al-Kasasbeh. The list specifies the pilots’ addresses, ranks and jobs. Among those named are Zaid ‘Ali Naqrash, commander of the Muwaffak Al-Salti Airbase, as well as Jamal Jabour Al-Mardini, who is mentioned by Al-Kasasbeh in the execution video as the fellow pilot who alerted him to the fact that his plane had been hit by a missile. The communiqué urges all Muslims in Jordan and Syria to attack the pilots on the list or at least provide useful information that would help reach them.
[i] Twitter.com/GAREB105, February 5, 2015.
[ii] The title of ISIS’s video documenting Al-Kasasbeh’s execution, “Healing the Breast of the Believers”, as also taken from this verse. On this video, see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 5952, “Video Shows Islamic State (ISIS) Execute Captured Jordanian Pilot By Burning Him Alive,” February 3, 2015.
Residents of Seattle will now be able to purchase their pot from vending machines.
The machines are not dispersed throughout the city, as traditional vending machines selling soda or candy are. They are located inside the Seattle Caregivers medical marijuana dispensary and “can only be used by people who are at least 21, with valid ID and medical authorization.”
Information on the back of buyer’s driver’s licenses are used to verify age. (Attention marijuana vending machine users: the government now has a record of your marijuana purchases and they are tied to your driver’s license. Something to think about.)
Once you put in your ID, you can choose from any number of products on the touch screen display, from cold pot-infused drinks to edibles and vacuum-sealed containers of marijuana.
“You’re swiping your ID, we’ve got a variety of different ways we can check that ID against who’s standing in front of the machine. And as we like to say, if there’s any doubt, no cannabis comes out,” said Stephen Shearin with American Green.
Additionally, there are cameras that will scan your face to make sure it matches with your identification and a “weight sensing mat” to make sure the the buyer is the same person on the driver’s license.
As of now, only a few machines are in Seattle but manufacturers are optimistic there will soon be “hundreds.”
The days are over when women would bring pictures of celebrities to plastic surgeons and ask for a nose like this one or lips like that one. Now the rage is bringing your Instagrammed or photoshopped images to a doctor and asking for a nip and tuck.
“This is a huge trend,” says Upper East Side surgeon Dr. Elie Levine. “People are bringing in pictures of themselves taken at a favorite angle or filtered, and saying they want to look like that.”
It’s an expensive endeavor. “Central Jersey mom Geri Hubner says she became obsessed with her growing wattle after staring at photos from her daughter’s wedding. She started using photo filters but then came to the ultimate real-world conclusion: ‘I wanted to look like that all the time,’ says Hubner, 56.” For between $10-20K, she went under the knife.
Another woman, Nancy Chacon, 32, “showed her best face on Instagram, using ‘either the Inkwell or Sutro filters, or the sepia tones, to hide blemishes.’ ” She said: “I decided I wanted people to see that person in person.”
The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery says there’s been a 33% bump in procedures driven by self-awareness from social media since 2013.
Dr. David Shafer, a midtown Manhattan plastic surgeon, said clients come in all the time for a “social media makeover.”
“They whip out their cellphones and start flipping through their pictures, saying, ‘I want to look like this all the time,’” he says.
“I only tell my closest, tightest girlfriends that I’m doing this. Everyone else thinks I just look really well-rested,” says Janet Ross, 47, from San Francisco, who relied on the Amaro filter to soften her selfies before Dr. Jonathan Kaplan used Belotero fillers to reduce the lines around her eyes and mouth.
The new trend is positive according to some. “Clients are not trying to look like a whole different person anymore,” says Dr. Andrew Miller, who is based in Edison, N.J. “We always stress taking what you have naturally and making it better. Otherwise, people can look really weird, with lips that are too big, a jawline that’s unreal.”
This MEMRI Report was reprinted with permission.
Following the immolation of the Jordanian pilot, Mu’adh Al-Kasasbeh, the Islamic State’s “Fatwa and Research Authority” issued a ruling which stated that burning non-Muslims alive “is completely permissible”.
The fatwa was distributed in the streets of Raqqa and also posted on February 3, 2015 on the Twitter account of an ISIS activists’ group called “Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently” (@Raqqa_SI). The following are translated excerpts from it:
“Q: What is the ruling on burning an infidel with fire until he dies?”
“A: The Hanafi and Shafi’i schools [of Islam] hold that burning is completely permissible. They interpreted the saying of the Prophet that ‘Only Allah shall torture with fire’ as [a call for] humility. [The scholar] Al-Muhallab said: ‘This ban is not [an actual] prohibition, but rather a means for [advocating] humility.’
“[Shafi'i scholar] Ibn Hajar, may Allah have mercy on him, said: ‘[This saying] indicates that it is permissibile to burn, as the Companions did. The Prophet blinded two men from ‘Arina [whom he judged to be apostates and criminals] with a branding iron. Khalid bin Al-Walid, [one of the Prophet's Companions], also burned apostates with fire.’
“Some scholars hold that burning with fire is essentially prohibited, but is permissible while acting in retribution, as the Prophat did with the two men of ‘Arina. He blinded them with an iron as an act of retribution, as is mentioned in authentic [hadith]. And this is the most prominent among the proofs.”
A proposal in Colorado that would increase warnings about smoking pot while pregnant is coming under fire because of “limited or inconclusive research on the dangers.”
Pot users in Colorado and Washington already receive warnings that the drug shouldn’t be used by pregnant and nursing women. But a Colorado bill facing its first hearing Tuesday proposes going further by requiring pot shops to post signs saying that maternal marijuana use poses risks to unborn children.
“It’s important to have notification that there is risk,” said Republican Rep. Jack Tate, sponsor of the bill.
The proposal is controversial for several reasons. Some pregnant women use marijuana to ease their nausea and an industry group worries the warnings don’t acknowledge the research on the topic is limited.
Tyler Henson, president of the Colorado Cannabis Chamber of Commerce, called the proposal “another attempt to discredit and ignore the popular public opinion of marijuana’s medicinal use.”
A new report this week out of Colorado notes “that marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient, THC, is passed to children through the placenta and breast milk. But the doctors who compiled the survey of existing research also noted that the health consequences of that THC exposure aren’t fully understood.”
The report, released on Monday, “reflected national conclusions on marijuana’s health risks.”
The National Institute on Drug Abuse says animal studies have suggested that smoking marijuana in pregnancy may harm brain development. But the institute also says more research is needed “to disentangle marijuana’s specific effects from other environmental factors, including maternal nutrition, exposure to nurturing/neglect, and use of other substances by mothers.”
Colorado requires marijuana to be labeled with the warning: “There may be additional health risks associated with the consumption of this product for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning on becoming pregnant.”
The blockbuster movie American Sniper has been pulled from a theater in Baghdad, the only one in Iraq that has chosen to show the film.
The Washington Post reports the decision to pull the movie followed some “rowdy” screenings and complaints coming from movie goers and the Iraqi government.
“It glorifies Americans and makes Iraqis out to be nothing but terrorists,” said Ahmed Kamal, 27, a teacher, who downloaded the film for free on a pirate Web site because he didn’t want to pay to see a movie in which the hero refers to Iraqis as “savages.”
“I wasn’t prepared to spend money to see it,” he said. “It portrays Americans as strong and noble, and Iraqis as ignorant and violent.”
The theater’s manager said he scrapped the film after receiving a call from a senior official at the Ministry of Culture, who warned he could be hit with fines — and even a shut-down — if he continued to showcase the movie.
“He told me the film insults Iraqis,” Fares Hilal told the Washington Post. “If we show it, we will be criticized. But if we don’t, we lose money. A lot of people wanted to see this film.”
The movie chronicles the life of NavySEAL sniper Chris Kyle. Bradley Cooper plays Kyle and told CBS NewsL “I never saw it as a war movie, I saw it as a character study. So, I never even contemplated anything other than someone would get to know this man and his family.”
The film was nominated for six awards at the Oscars, including best picture.
This MEMRI Report was reprinted with permission and prepared by R. Green.
On February 1, 2015, the Palestinian daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida published a cartoon by illustrator Mohammad Sabaaneh of a man with a heart-shaped shoulder bag standing in an aura of light atop the Earth and scattering droplets of light. The cartoon is titled “Our Master Muhammad” in Arabic and “Prophet Muhammad” in English.
As is well-known, Islamic law forbids any depiction whatsoever of the Prophet Muhammad or of any other prophet.
Mohammad Sabaaneh’s cartoon (Source: Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, PA, February 1, 2015)
The publication of the cartoon in a newspaper belonging to the Palestinian Authority (PA) sparked an uproar. The daily quickly removed the cartoon from its website and deleted the page from the PDF version. Two days after its publication, on February 3, the daily issued an apology: “Al-Hayat Al-Jadida apologizes to readers for a cartoon published Sunday, February 1, 2015, and completely rejects any suspicion or interpretation that the illustration is a depiction of the Prophets and Messengers. In its respect for the sanctity of the exalted divine religions and its professionalism, the newspaper has established a board of inquiry to investigate the published cartoon, whose interpretation is in doubt. This is in addition to [the newspaper's] announcement that its intent in publishing [the cartoon] was to defend religions and the message of love and peace.”
It should be mentioned that the cartoon appears neither on Sabaaneh’s social media accounts nor on websites that publish cartoons from Arab publications. Since February 1, Saba’aneh’s personal website has been offline.
PDF version of Al-Hayat Al-Jadida‘s February 1, 2015 issue with page 14 removed (Source: Alhayat-j.com, February 3, 2015)
The following are reactions to Al-Hayat Al-Jadida‘s publication of the cartoon:
Abbas: The Publication Of The Cartoon Must Be Investigated Immediately – And Steps Taken To Deter Further Such Incidents
The Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that PA President Mahmoud ‘Abbas had “ordered an immediate investigation of the publication of a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon Him, in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida. ['Abbas] stressed the need to take measures to deter those who caused this grave error, emphasizing the need to defend the sacred religious symbols, chief among them the images of the Prophets and Messengers.” No additional details on the planned investigation were provided.
Sabaaneh: The Cartoon Does Not Depict Muhammad
In response to the outrage, on February 1, Sabaaneh posted a Facebook update stating that his cartoon’s only intention had been to defend Islam: “The aura in the form of a man represents the light and love with which our noble master Muhammad blessed the earth. The intention was not to draw our master Muhammad, peace be upon Him. The figure has no facial features or details, does not even look like our master Muhammad is presumed to have looked, and is not garbed in his robe or other garments. [The drawing] symbolically portrays Islam and its role in spreading light and love to all mankind.
“Since the onset of the attack on our master Muhammad and on Islam, I have believed that our role is more than to merely respond to every attack with another attack, [but rather is one of] defending the message of Islam and its Prophet. The attack on Islam and on our master Muhammad has shifted from the Charlie Hebdo newspaper to other websites and publications. Therefore, it is pointless to respond to every website and newspaper individually…
“The figure [in the cartoon] is a Muslim [man], not our master Muhammad. The Muslim yearns for the message of our master Muhammad, and the light surrounding him is the light of our master Muhammad, and the goodness spread [by the man] is Islam itself.”
Sabaaneh also posted on his Facebook page a number of his previous cartoons presenting Islam in a positive light. He said that he was “republishing them to defend Islam, and not to defend Mohammad Sabaaneh.”
In reaction to the publication of the cartoon, Jerusalem Mufti Muhammad Ahmad Hussein said that according to Islam, it is forbidden to publish “any drawing or visual depiction or portrayal of any Prophet, even with pure intent or in order to defend him.” He added that the cartoon’s caption “Our Master Muhammad” clearly indicates that it is he whom it depicts.
The Hamas ministry of religious endowments in Gaza took a grave view of the incident, calling for those responsible for “this great crime” to be held to account. A ministry statement condemned the newspaper and added that it was very serious matter for an Arab, Islamic, and Palestinian element to publish the cartoon, which enrages 1.5 billion Muslims around the world. It also called on the paper to apologize immediately and to ask God for forgiveness, because “this brazen and illegitimate step” helps “extremists” continue to insult Islam.
Support For Sabaaneh On Social Media: “No To The Policy Of Shutting Mouths”
On social media, Palestinians expressed support for Sabaaneh. Some accepted his explanation that the cartoon did not depict Muhammad himself; many praised Sabaaneh as a symbol of the struggle against Israel and as skillfully expressing in his cartoons the suffering of the Palestinians. Others attacked ‘Abbas’s decision to launch an investigation, saying that this violated free speech. One Twitter user tweeted: “No to the policy of shutting mouths.” Another tweeted: “Is free speech only for France and the French, Mr. President Abu Mazen?”
Islamic State (ISIS) Supporters Threaten Sabaaneh, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida
Following the publication of the cartoon, pro-Islamic State (ISIS) Palestinians called for killing Sabaaneh and Al-Hayat Al-Jadida publisher Nabil ‘Amr.
A February 3, 2015 post on the Jihadi Media Platform message board by ISIS supporter “Abu Mujahid Al-Ghazawi” (“the Gazan”) stated: “Where are you, men of the West Bank, when the Prophet is the subject of mockery?” He added: “The Palestinian murtad [i.e. apostate] Mohammad Sabaaneh mocked the Prophet, and then came out and said he supported the Prophet. By Allah, the only thing he deserves is beheading.”
Another forum member, “Muhammad bin ‘Abd Al-Wahhab,” stated that Al-Hayat Al-Jadida publisher Nabil ‘Amr, an ‘Abbas advisor, is a Christian, although he is actually a Muslim. He wrote: “The newspaper is owned by the Christian Palestinian Nabil ‘Amr, advisor to Baha’i Palestinian Mahmoud ‘Abbas on culture and media in the Palestinian Authority of Corruption.”
* R. Green is a Research Fellow at MEMRI.
 Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), February 3, 2015.
 Wafa.ps, February 2, 2015.
 Facebook.com/Mohammad.Sabaaneh, February 2, 2015.
 Facebook.com/Mohammad.Sabaaneh, February 3, 2015.
 Pal24.net, February 3, 2015.
 Maan (PA), February 3, 2015.
 Twitter.com/NaderaAbuDubeyS, February 3, 2015.
 Twitter.com/hebaassaf2, February 3, 2015.
 Alplatformmedia.com, February 3, 2015.
 Alplatformmedia.com, February 3, 2015.
Lawmakers in Britain will vote on Tuesday whether or not to allow scientists to create a baby using the DNA of three people. The technique is controversial but could prevent children from inheriting deadly genetic diseases. Britain would be the first country in the world that allowed genetically modified embryos.
The techniques — which aim to prevent mothers from passing on inherited diseases — involve altering a human egg or embryo before transferring it into the mother. British law currently forbids any modification of embryos before they are transferred into a woman.
The government has already published rules about how the technique can be used. Dr. Sally Davies, the U.K’s chief medical officer ,wants to see the technique legalized “to give women who carry severe mitochondrial disease the opportunity to have children without passing on devastating genetic disorders.”
Obviously, the procedure has critics. They say that the genetic changes will be passed down from generation to generation and that an entire industry of “designer babies” could crop up.
“(This is) about protecting children from the severe health risks of these unnecessary techniques and protecting everyone from the eugenic designer baby future that will follow from this,” said David King, director of the secular watchdog group Human Genetics Alert.
The techniques, however would only be used in a handful of cases for women who have faulty mitochondria. “To fix that, scientists remove the nucleus DNA from the egg of a prospective mother and insert it into a donor egg, where the nucleus DNA has been removed. This can be done either before or after fertilization.”
The embryo that results would have the nucleus DNA from its parents but its mitochondrial DNA from a donor.
The U.S. is also considering this technique. The Food and Drug Administration met last year to discuss the possibility of its safety.
National Transportation and Safety Board investigators are reporting that taking “selfies” likely contributed to a deadly plane crash with two casualties last year.
The pilot, Amritpal Singh, and his passenger were killed near the Front Range Airport May 31, 2014. The Cessna 150 took off at around 12:30 a.m and was reported missing at 3:45 a.m. by family members. It was discovered around 7 a.m. that morning.
A GoPro camera was retrieved at the crash site and revealed that “Singh and his passenger were taking selfies with their cell phones during the flight.” The report said that the flash from the camera disoriented Singh and caused him to lose control of the plane.
The NTSB report states:
Based on the evidence of cell phone use during low-altitude maneuvering, including the flight immediately before the accident flight, it is likely that cell phone use during the accident flight distracted the pilot and contributed to the development of spatial disorientation and subsequent loss of control.
The report also reveals that the pilot had not met the requirements for flying at night with passengers.
The pilot’s loss of control and subsequent aerodynamic stall due to spatial disorientation in night instrument meteorological conditions. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s distraction due to his cell phone use while maneuvering at low-altitude.
Pop star Beyonce will launch a new vegan delivery service with her trainer Marco Borges.
The company will be called 22 Days Nutrition, a reference to the claim that it takes 21 days to break a bad habit.
All meals will be 100% plant-based and delivered once a week. All ingredients will be non-GMO, gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free and organic.
Prices will range from $9.76 to $16.50 each.
Business Insider reports that the Queen Bey has “dabbled” in veganism before. She and husband Jay-Z “famously” adopted a vegan diet for 22 days in the winter of 2013.
“All you have to do is try. If I can do it, anyone can,” Beyonce said in a press release.
“We all know the importance and value of eating plant-based foods but often times find ourselves trapped in a series of bad habits that sabotage optimum wellness,” says co-founder Borges. ”The Vegan Meal Delivery program makes it easier to reset your habits with healthy and delicious plant-based foods.”
Dishes include “sesame cabbage lentil bowl, ratatouille pasta with pesto, curried fried rice with vegetables, and an almond blueberry breakfast loaf.”