Senator Chuck Schumer issued a dire warning about the vulnerability of America’s flight infrastructure and demanded “immediate action.”
“If the Sony hacking was bad, imagine how much worse the hacking of the FAA computer system could be with thousands of planes in the air,” Schumer said Sunday at a press conference.
“Sophisticated terrorists could even steer planes into one another. The threat of a cybercriminal taking over this system makes your stomach sink,” he added.
A report released last week from the Government Accountability Office made 17 recommendations and 168 “specific actions” the agency needed to take to protect itself.
The report found that the main vulnerabilities stem from a need to encrypt sensitive data, beef up firewall security and test the servers.
“Cost is not the issue here, the issue is sophistication,” Schumer said.
Reproduced with permission from MEMRI
The 27th conference of the PLO Central Council was held on March 4-5, 2015 under the heading “Steadfastness and Popular Resistance.” In a statement it issued at the conclusion of this conference, the Council announced the suspension of the security coordination with Israel, in all its forms. It also stated that peace would be achieved only if an independent Palestinian state is established on the June 4, 1967 borders and the right of return is realized; congratulated the Arabs of Jerusalem for the intifada they sparked following the murder of Muhammad Khdeir, and called to rally around the popular resistance and continue the boycott of Israeli products and the activity against Israel in the International Criminal Court.
It should be noted that the Council’s resolutions require the approval of PA President Mahmoud ‘Abbas. Since this approval has not been granted so far, the security coordination has not been suspended.
The following are excerpts from the Central Council’s statement.
Palestinian leaders at the Central Council conference (image: Safa.ps, March 5, 2015)
Peace – Only With Right Of Return
“The PLO Central Council hereby declares its complete commitment and adherence to our national rights, our declaration of independence and the right of the Palestinian state to exercise its sovereignty upon its territory. The Council stresses that security, peace and stability will not be achieved in Palestine and the Middle East unless an independent Palestinian state is established on the June 4, 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital, [and unless] the refugees’ right of return is guaranteed according to UN Resolution 194 and the Arab peace initiative and the Palestinians’ right to self-determination are realized…”
We Must Rally Around Popular Resistance
“In light of the grave social and political transformations that are rocking the region, the Central Committee emphasizes that national steadfastness and rallying around the PLO are the only way to topple the Israeli arrogance that denies our national rights and insists on [continuing] the occupation, the settlements and the Judaizing of Jerusalem. [It also emphasizes that] our ongoing national steadfastness requires all of us to ascend to the level of the national aspirations and avoid partisan calls and rallying around banners that are unconnected to our national goals. In this context, the popular resistance that the Central Council endorsed in its previous conferences must enjoy the highest degree of consensus, unity, partnership and coordination among [all] the prominent national forces, parties, and figures on the ground, in the villages, cities and refugee camps. This, in order to put an end to the aggression of the settlers against our mosques and churches. There is need to deter the hordes of settlers who are raising the ‘Price Tag’ banner and to stop them, so that they world know that the Palestinian people opposes the occupation and the settlements and uses its popular resistance to defend it land, its fields, its mosques and its churches.”
We Congratulate Jerusalem Arabs On Intifada
“As part of our national responsibility towards Jerusalem, the Council hereby calls to support our people [there] and thereby strengthen their steadfast adherence to their land, their opposition to the Judaizing actions aimed at severing Jerusalem from its surroundings, and their opposition to the settlements, the seizing of land, the demolition of homes and the repeated attacks on the Muslim and Christian places of worship.
“The Central Council congratulates our people who take part in the heroic intifada [in Jerusalem] against the barbarism and brutality of the settlers and the occupation forces. This intifada was sparked by the martyrdom of young Muhammad Khdeir who was burned to death by extremist settlers in Israel. During this intifada Jerusalem has paid a heavy price, with several [Arabs] martyred and hundreds injured and arrested. Our steadfast people [in Jerusalem] have proved by their honorable struggle that Jerusalem shall forever remain the capital of independent Palestine.
“To strengthen the steadfastness of Jerusalem and its heroic intifada, the Central Council calls upon all the political and national authorities in the city to allocate the funds necessary to reinforce the steadfastness of our people and defend the holy places and the city’s Arab identity…”
Security Coordination Shall Be Suspended
“In light of the ongoing settlement [activity], which contravenes international law; Israel’s refusal to draw the June 4, 1967 border between the two states; its disregard of UN resolutions and signed agreements; its refusal to release prisoners; its piratical usurpation of the Palestinian people’s funds; and [its] escalation of the aggression, assassinations and raids, and the continued siege on Gaza… the Council hereby takes the following decisions:
“Israel is fully responsible for the Palestinian people in occupied Palestine, since it is an occupying state according to international law. Hence, all forms of security cooperation [with Israel] shall cease, in light of Israel’s non-compliance with agreements signed by the two sides… The notion of the Jewish state and the notion of a temporary Palestinian state must be rejected out of hand, as well as any formula that leaves Israeli troops or settlers on parts of the Palestinian territory. The Executive Committee shall follow the activity of the High National Follow-Up Committee vis-à-vis the International Criminal Court, in order to hold to account those responsible for Israel’s war crimes, especially the crime of the settlements and the war crimes during the aggression against Gaza…
Ongoing Boycott Of Israeli Products
“The Central Council stresses the ongoing boycott of Israeli products as part of popular resistance. It also calls on all lovers of freedom worldwide and on the Palestinian solidarity committees to continue the campaign to boycott Israel, punish it, discourage investments in it and boycott any company that supports the occupation and the settlements.”
 Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), March 6, 2015.
 A name given to acts of violence by Israeli settlers in which they exact a price from Palestinians in retaliation for Palestinian or Israeli action against them and the settlement enterprise.
In Finland, traffic violation fees are on a “sliding-scale” basis, according to the seriousness of the traffic offense and how much the offender makes.
Which is bad news for rich people with bad driving habits because authorities check your tax returns should you surface on their radar.
Meet businessman Reima Kuisla. The BBC reported poor, or rather rich, Mr. Kuisla was driving 14 mph over the speed limit and was stopped by a police officer. After perusing his 2013 tax return, he was issued a ticket for almost $60,000.
His tax returns revealed he brought in $7.2M in 2013.
But, at least they have universal healthcare.
Mr. Kuisla posted on his Facebook page: “Finland is impossible to live in for certain kinds of people who have high incomes and wealth.”
The popular Easter candy Peeps is expanding its marshmallow-y empire for a delicious or repulsive treat: Peeps-flavored milk. Prairie Farms will partner with Peeps in this new culinary frontier.
Peeps “is lending its signature sugary taste to three milk flavors: Marshmallow Milk, Chocolate Marshmallow Milk, and Easter Egg Nog.”
“Creating a line of flavors that joins the two strong brands was an obvious choice,” the company said in a statement.
The drink has been released in the midwest this week. “Today in St. Louis” producer Cassidy Moody went out to find some and gave it a thumbs up.
— Cassidy Moody (@CassFM) March 4, 2015
One thing is for sure, it’s not healthier for you.
The Peeps-flavored milk is packed with more than three times the amount of sugar a serving of regular Prairie Farms whole milk has, clocking in at 37 grams per cup. A serving of whole milk contains 11 grams of sugar. For comparison, a 12-oz. bottle of Coca-Cola contains 39 grams of sugar.
Peeps milk also has more than twice as much sodium – 320 mg per cup compared to 120 mg for a cup of the brand’s whole milk.
Both types of milk contain 8 grams of protein.
What are your thoughts? Have you tried the Peeps-flavored milk? Do you have any interest in finding some to drink?
Edward Snowden’s lawyer said that the fugitive is ready to come home, as long as he can get a fair trial in the United States.
“He is thinking about it. He has a desire to return and we are doing everything we can to make it happen,” said Anatoly Kucherena, Snowden’s lawyer, Agence-France Presse reported Tuesday.
Snowden is currently in Russia, where he has political asylum after leaking classified documents to the public while working at the NSA and government contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.
State Department flunkie Marie Harf had this to say about the lawyer’s comments:
“We’re certainly happy for him to return to the United States to face a court in the very serious charges” he faces.
“So he absolutely can and should return to the United States to face the justice system that will be fair in its judgment of him,” Harf said. “But he is accused of very serious crimes and should return home to face them.”
Snowden lawyer Kucherena said that so far, they have secured a guarantee from Attorney General Eric Holder that Snowden will not face the death penalty. But in addition, Snowden wants a guarantee of a “legal and impartial trial.”
“With a group of lawyers from other countries, we are working on the question of his return to America,” Kucherena said.
Reprinted with permission from MEMRI.
Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution Navy Commander Ali Fadavi presents a new “strategic” weapon and says: we have deterred America.
A woman who is accusing comedian Bill Cosby of rape is claiming he wanted her to smear oatmeal all over her face and style her hair like Queen Noor of Jordan.
“He was obsessed with her,” the new accuser told BuzzFeed News, referring to the beautiful American who wed King Hussein in 1978.
The accuser is identified only as an aspiring actress named “Patricia.” The unusual request was made when Cosby invited her to a taping of The Dinah Shore Show.
Cosby went out of his way to send a particular photo of Queen Noor with her golden hair in a teased bun so Patricia could replicate the style at a salon, Patricia told BuzzFeed.
She also drank something he gave her “as they engaged in some bizarre acting improvisation exercises that involved her pretending to be a queen while she had oatmeal on her face, she reportedly said.”
“He told me to convince him that I could remain regal and queen-like no matter what I looked like,” she said.
She later felt strange from the drink, blacked out, and woke up naked in Cosby’s guest bedroom with the robe-clad comedian claiming he had to remove her dress because she threw up, she told BuzzFeed.
Other Jane Does encouraged “Patricia” to come forward. “You’re not alone,” Patricia reportedly said. “You don’t have to keep this a secret anymore.”
“Patricia” is 58 and currently living in Southern California.
Last month, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield told HuffPo Live they would consider creating a cannabis-based ice cream flavor…once it’s legal.
“Makes sense to me,” Cohen told host Alyona Minkovski matter-of-factly. “Combine your pleasures.”
“Ben and I have had previous experiences with substances, and I think legalizing marijuana is a wonderful thing,” Jerry Greenfield said. “It’s not my decision. If it were my decision, I’d be doing it, but fortunately we have wiser heads at the company that figure those things out.”
— daveweigel (@daveweigel) March 3, 2015
If the reported quote by Sen. Graham about Leader Pelosi is accurate, he owes her an apology.
— James E. Clyburn (@Clyburn) March 3, 2015
Graham: “I made a very poor attempt at humor to talk about (Pelosi’s) reaction, and for that I apologize.”
— Josh Rogin (@joshrogin) March 3, 2015
Al-Arabiya English’s editor-in-chief Faisal J. Abbas wrote an op-ed today titled “President Obama, listen to Netanyahu on Iran”:
The Israeli PM managed to hit the nail right on the head when he said that Middle Eastern countries are collapsing and that “terror organizations, mostly backed by Iran, are filling in the vacuum” during a recent ceremony held in Tel Aviv to thank outgoing IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz for his role during “challenging” times.
In just a few words, Mr. Netanyahu managed to accurately summarize a clear and present danger, not just to Israel (which obviously is his concern), but to other U.S. allies in the region.
What is absurd, however, is that despite this being perhaps the only thing that brings together Arabs and Israelis (as it threatens them all), the only stakeholder that seems not to realize the danger of the situation is President Obama, who is now infamous for being the latest pen-pal of the Supreme Leader of the World’s biggest terrorist regime: Ayottallah Ali Khamenei. (Although, the latter never seems to write back!)
Just to be clear, nobody disagrees that ridding Iran of its nuclear ambitions is paramount. And if this can be achieved peacefully, then it would be even better. However, any reasonable man CAN’T possibly turn a blind eye to the other realities on the ground.
Indeed, it is Mr. Obama’s controversial take on managing global conflicts that raises serious questions. A case in point is his handling of the Syrian crisis, where according to his own philosophical views, Obama probably takes pride that he managed to rid the Assad regime of its chemical weapons arsenal without firing a single bullet.
Of course, in theory, this could be quite an achievement (which only another war philosopher, such as Sun Tzu, would applaud); but in reality, the problem with what happened is that the REAL issue hasn’t been resolved; as such, the Syrian regime continues – until this day – to slaughter their own people (albeit, using conventional weapons, you know… your everyday bullets, missiles and barrel bombs!)
As such, the real Iranian threat is not JUST the regime’s nuclear ambitions, but its expansionist approach and state-sponsored terrorism activities which are still ongoing. …
Nutella has a marketing campaign in France that allows users to personalize jars of the delicious chocolate-hazelnut goodness and share the image on social media.
Well, for the most part.
The marketers behind Nutella’s “Say It With Nutella” campaign– or “Dites-le Avec Nutella” in French– are facing a backlash after it was discovered that several words have been prohibited from use.
“Here you can create your custom messages and share them with those you love!” the website says.
Russia Today reports on the entire list of banned words:
The list of banned words includes many health –related words such as “cancer,” “obesity,” “fatso,” “diabetes,” and “oil.” Also variations of “poop,” “cannabis” and other references to body functions and drugs are prohibited. “Gay” is allowed while “lesbian” and “homo” have both been deemed offensive. “Christian” is permitted but “Jewish” and “Muslim” are not.
Nutella released the following statement concerning the controversy:
“By giving customers the opportunity to personalize their Nutella jar we want to create a way for them to share enthusiasm for the brand. Negative or insulting terms were directly removed from the options field. Similarly, terms of communities that are often subject to attacks by malicious people were removed from the possibilities.”
On Monday, Twitter officials revealed that ISIS has threatened Twitter employees including co-founder Jack Dorsey because the company has been blocking terror-related accounts. Law enforcement is working with Twitter about the threats.
“Our security team is investigating the veracity of these threats with relevant law enforcement officials,” according to a Twitter statement.
The NYPD is also on the case, saying they will keep a closer eye on the New York Twitter offices.
“We are aware of the current threat,” said John Miller, the NYPD’s deputy commissioner of intelligence and counter-terrorism. “We have been in touch with Twitter, their security people. Our critical response vehicles have that as a regular location. They know us we know them and we are working on it.”
ISIS wrote on the website JustPasteIt that Twitter cannot dodge the “lions” coming for them. The message reads:
“We told you from the beginning that this was not your war. How, Jack [Dorsey], will you protect your wretched employees when their necks are an official target for the soldiers of the caliphate and its allies who are scattered among your midst? How will you answer their families and their children since you embroiled them in this failed war?,” according to the post.
“Your virtual war against us on the internet will pull you into a real war on the ground. There is no escape: it is only a matter of time, and perhaps one of the bloodthirsty crusading lions has already begun to move in reality.”
The online terrorist supporter continued: “Picture the scene: while one of Twitter’s employees leaves a nearby bar in the neighborhood, reeling and groping about him because of drink and the dark shadows [that have gathered] upon you, and if a lone lion stationed in the shadows should leap upon him and cut his throat, what would be in the way?”
The message also included a picture of Jack Dorsey in crosshairs.
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) March 2, 2015
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) March 2, 2015
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) March 2, 2015
Flattering Zionists is an obligation for US gov!Is there any bigger shame than presidential candidates compete on this issue? #ShutDownAIPAC
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) March 2, 2015
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) March 2, 2015
Reproduced with permission from MEMRI
In a March 2, 2015 article in the Saudi daily Al-Jazirah, columnist Dr. Ahmad Al-Faraj supported Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s decision to speak at the U.S. Congress against the upcoming deal with Iran. Al-Faraj said that Obama, “one of the worst American presidents,” is working to sign a deal with Iran at the expense of America’s longtime allies in the Gulf, and therefore Netanyahu’s campaign against the deal is justified and serves the interests of the Gulf states.
The following are the main points of the article:
“In a move unprecedented in U.S. political history, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu received an invitation from the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Republican John Boehner, to address both houses of Congress… Netanyahu will devote his speech to expressing his firm objection to the signing of an agreement between the Obama administration and Iran on the nuclear issue. He hopes to convince the Congress members that he is right, which could delay the agreement.
“President Obama and his administration are clearly furious. Not because Netanyahu is intervening in an important matter that Obama hopes will bring him personal glory, but because House Speaker [John Boehner] did not consult with Obama before inviting Netanyahu, and Obama considers this a breach of established protocol.
“This unprecedented tension between the Obama administration and Netanyahu is another in a long series of tense and unfriendly episodes between Obama and Netanyahu. But the tension has never before reached this level, as reflected in statements by National Security Advisor Susan Rice, who said that Netanyahu’s conduct was unacceptable and even destructive…
“The Obama administration does not suffice with condemning Netanyahu’s visit. Obama has announced that he will not meet with Netanyahu on the grounds that he does not meet with state leaders a short while before elections take place in their countries, [though] elections in Israel will take place weeks after the visit!! Likewise, American Vice President Joseph Biden, whose presence at Netanyahu’s speech in Congress is expected by virtue of his constitutional role as Senate president, announced that he would be on a trip abroad [on the day of] Netanyahu’s speech!! U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry also said he would be in Switzerland meeting with the Iranians on the nuclear dossier and therefore would not be able to attend Netanyahu’s speech!! What angers the Obama administration even more is that Netanyahu refused an official request by several Democratic Congressmen to meet with him during [his] visit!!…
“I will conclude by saying the following: Since Obama is the godfather of the prefabricated revolutions in the Arab world, and since he is the ally of political Islam, [which is] the caring mother of [all] the terrorist organizations, and since he is working to sign an agreement with Iran that will come at the expense of the U.S.’s longtime allies in the Gulf, I am very glad of Netanyahu’s firm stance and [his decision] to speak against the nuclear agreement at the American Congress despite the Obama administration’s anger and fury. I believe that Netanyahu’s conduct will serve our interests, the people of the Gulf, much more than the foolish behavior of one of the worst American presidents. Do you agree with me?”
Anthony Blackburn uploaded a video to Facebook showing an altercation involving two civilians and the LAPD that left one man dead. The incident was recorded on a cell phone camera and has been watched more than 4 million times.
Authorities confirmed the shooting and said the fatality resulted in a struggle over an officer’s weapon.
Cmdr. Andrew Smith said officers assigned to the LAPD’s Central Division and Safer Cities Initiative — a task force focused on skid row — responded to the location about noon Sunday after receiving a 911 call reporting a possible robbery.
Smith said the officers approached the man and made contact with him, at which point he “began fighting and physically resisting the officers.” The officers attempted to take him into custody and at one point, attempted to use a Taser that Smith said was “ineffective.”
The man continued to resist police, Smith said, and the man and some of the officers fell to the ground.
“At some point in there, a struggle over one of the officer’s weapons occurred,” Smith said. “At that point an officer-involved shooting happened.”
The video shows the police wrestling the man to the ground and one of the officers (presumably) says something that sounds like “drop the gun, drop the gun.” Five shots were subsequently fired and police report a Taser was also deployed at the scene.
The L.A. Times reports that no other gun was found at the scene. Witnesses gave varying accounts of the altercation to the Times. One of the witnesses reports that an officer said, “Gun, gun, he’s got my gun!” before police fired multiple shots.
Homeowner Andres Buksh heard a loud crash and glass shattering Thursday evening, but the ruckus wasn’t what he thought it was.
“I thought it was the neighbors throwing the big garbage out for Friday pick-up,” Buksh told CBS Miami.
But Friday morning he found a drone had crashed into his home and broken his bedroom window. “I guess somebody lost control of it,” said Buksh.
No one had claimed the drone so Buksh called the police. “They said this was the first call they had like this, so I told them, ‘This is not going to be the last one, anyway,”‘ he said.
With an increase in drones hovering around the sky, these kinds of crashes will be more prevalent. Buksh said there could be serious injury if a drone were to crash into a person rather than a house. “The windows you can replace, but if somebody is walking in the street and it falls on their head or something, it could cause some serious injury,” said Buksh.
The owner of the drone has still not claimed its remains. Buksh said he opened up the drone and found a video card, but the owner could not be identified.
The FAA has new regulations that require anyone flying a hobby drone can fly it no higher than 400ft in the air and it must remain in the line of sight. Not everyone obeys those regulations, apparently.
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) told CBS’ John Dickerson on Sunday’s Face the Nation that she will attend Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress, but she will not “jump up and down” like everyone else at the speech.
DICKERSON: “Let me ask you now about Israel and the prime minister’s visit. You’re going to attend the speech?”
FEINSTEIN: “Yes, I am going to attend.”
DICKERSON: “Is that a provisional view, or are you absolutely going to attend?”
FEINSTEIN: |Well, I’m going to go. I’m going to listen quite respectfully. I’m not going to jump up and down, which is likely to be the posture in that room. I am very concerned by that speech. I went to the speech in 2011. I didn’t believe it was helpful then, and I don’t believe it’s going to be helpful now. I hope that the prime minister will address what he believes will happen if there is not an agreement or if there is an agreement between the other nations, including the big powers, Russia, China, U.K., France, Germany, and it’s just United States that is doing this. What happens then to sanctions, if we were to put on additional sanctions, and the rest of the nations would not abide by them?”
Here’s your feel-good story of the day.
The IRS said yesterday that it has fewer resources available to audit your tax returns.
Budget cuts forced the IRS to reduce the number of audits last year to the lowest level in a decade — and it could go down even more this year, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said Tuesday.
“The math is pretty simple,” Koskinen said in a speech to the New York State Bar Association. “There are fewer audits because we have fewer auditors. Audits fell in virtually every individual category and across income levels.”
The number of audits last year was only 1.2 million tax returns, which is less than 1% of all returns filed. That is the lowest rate of auditing since 2004.
Koskinen said the IRS is down more than 2,200 revenue agents since 2010.
Last year, a little more than 11,600 revenue agents examined returns, and Koskinen is warning that the number of agents will decline again this year.
Congress has cut the agency’s budget by $1.2 billion since 2010.
The IRS budget for the year ending this September was $10.9B.
A senior State Department official was arrested yesterday for allegedly soliciting sex from a minor, Fox News is reporting.
Fairfax County Police officials say Daniel Rosen was arrested by a county detective about noon at his Washington, D.C. home after he allegedly sought to arrange sex with a minor. The detective, a female officer working in the county’s Child Exploitation Unit, had been posing as the minor in online exchanges with Rosen, police said.
Rosen is the director of counterterrorism programs at the State Department.
He was arrested and charged with one count of Use of a Communications Device to Solicit a Juvenile.
The police notified Rosen’s employer, as is usual in these situations.
Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said late Tuesday, “We are aware that a State Department employee has been arrested and charges have been issued.
“For issues related to Department personnel and for privacy reasons, we are not able to confirm the identity of the individual or specific charges.
“His security clearance will be suspended and he will be put on administrative leave while this proceeds to its end through any judicial process. We are following standard procedure in this case.”
A source told Fox News that the police had obtained a warrant to search Rosen’s phones for additional evidence.
Rosen has been working at the State Department since 2008, according to his LinkedIn profile.
California was the first state in the country to ban the use of plastic shopping bags in retail and grocery stores. But the ban has now been put on hold as state election officials confirmed that a group has gathered enough signatures to challenge the ban and place the issue on the 2016 ballot.
The American Progressive Bag Alliance, which represents bag manufacturers, had about 50,000 more valid signatures than the 505,000 needed to qualify the referendum after a random sample of the signatures was tallied, said Bill Mabie, chief deputy for Secretary of State Alex Padilla.
The group had submitted more than 800,000 signatures at the end of last year.
Governor Jerry Brown signed the bag ban legislation into law last fall, after a hostile battle between environmentalists and bag-makers. The ban was supposed to be phased-in, starting in July of this year.
The plastic bag alliance says the ban will costs jobs.
“California voters will now have the chance to vote down a terrible law that, if implemented, would kill 2,000 local manufacturing jobs and funnel obscene profits to big grocers without any money going to a public purpose or environmental initiative,” the group’s executive director, Lee Califf, said in a news release.
Supporters of the ban complained that opponents spent millions of dollars on the referendum campaign.
“This is a cynical ploy by out-of-state interests desperate to delay a ban already adopted in more than 100 communities across California,” Brown’s spokesman Evan Westrup said.
But supporters of the bill are confident that Californians will uphold the ban at the ballot box.
Mark Murray, a spokesman for Californians vs. Big Plastic, said the coalition of environmental, labor and business groups is confident California voters will uphold the ban. “It’s not surprising that after spending more than $3.2 million, 98 percent of which is from out of state, the plastic bag industry has bought its way onto the California ballot to protect its profits,” Murray said.
Already the environmentalists have successfully pushed for bans in cities around the country, as well in California. Seattle, Chicago and Austin already have bans, as well as Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) appeared on CNN and announced that former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s comments about President Obama were “desperate” and merely “dog whistling.”
“I’ll put it like this: I believe he was dog whistling,” Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, said on CNN’s New Day, in reference to Giuliani’s recent criticisms of Obama.
“He was signaling that he’s not one of us, and that had to do with some factors that the former mayor should not be trying to play off of.”
Ellison said that Giuliani was trying revive questions about Obama’s citizenship and religion raised long ago during his presidential campaign. He said: “Is he an American? Is he a Muslim? Is he a socialist? Is he this? Is he that,” before slamming Giuliani himself.
“(This is) an example of what not to do,” Ellison said. “It seemed like a desperate act of a man who’s desperately trying to stay relevant and is just having a hard time doing so.”
The media has been flipping out over Giuliani’s statements made at dinner for WI Governor Scott Walker last week, where Rudy said he didn’t think Obama loved America.
In a televised speech on Sunday, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi said the time has come for Arabs to unite and fight ISIS.
“The need for a unified Arab force is growing and becoming more pressing every day,” said Sisi
Both Jordan and the UAE have offered help to Egypt as they ratchet up the battle with ISIS.
“Strategically and politically for the region, this is a big deal, and it’s absolutely the right first step,” CNN military analyst Maj. Gen. James “Spider” Marks said.
President Obama has been encouraging other countries to step up the fight against ISIS. U.S. Central Command says that 80% of the airstrikes are carried out against ISIS are from the U.S. forces.
“The airstrikes aren’t going to get the job done,” CNN law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes told CNN’s “New Day.” “We need the Arab states to be the ones to eventually put the boots on the ground. Whether they actually end up doing it and being dedicated to this, we’ll have to see.”
CNN was skeptical of Sisi’s remarks saying he didn’t “specify exactly what he meant by a ‘united Arab force’ and whether that means troops on the ground.”
According to a state-run media report, Saudi Arabia’s “morality police” detained a group of young men for dancing at a birthday party and referred them to prosecutors.
The news website Ayn al-Youm reported Saturday that the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice raided a private property in the city of Buraydah, arresting the men inside for “loud music and inappropriate dancing.”
Buraydah is home to Saudi Arabia’s most conservative clerics.
An unnamed official told the website that when members of the morality police raided the private property, they found the young men in “a comprising situation in their dance and shameful movements.” The official said there was also a cake and candles to celebrate one of the men’s birthdays.
In addition, the men had hairstyles and dress that were not traditional according to officials who added that parents need to monitor this behavior “because it can lead to immorality and even homosexuality.”
Wahhabi clerics view Western music as sinful and birthday celebrations as un-Islamic. The morality police are empowered to enforce Islamic law as practiced in Saudi Arabia, including enforcing dress codes.
The story went viral on twitter, with many Saudi’s “ridiculing” the raid. Some pointed out that the men were not caught drinking or partying with women, both of which are serious crimes.
On February 20, 2015, the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Somali group Al-Shabab Al-Mujahideen released a video detailing the September 2013 deadly attack on the Westgate mall in Nairobi, Kenya. The video, titled “The Westgate Siege – Retributive Justice,” recalls the Kenyan invasion of southern Somalia, and notes the crimes committed by the KDF there. It also details Kenyan authorities’ oppression and targeting of Muslims in Kenya, including young men and religious figures. The video details the Westgate mall attack, while mocking Kenyan government and security forces’ failure to predict it or, once it occurred, to contain it. The video does not reveal the identities, numbers, and background of the attackers, but it hints that they were only a small group. The video warns that attacks against Kenya will continue, and also urges Muslims in the West to attack the unbelievers, and to carry out attacks, for example, against American- and Jewish-owned shopping centers across the world.
The video includes messages from current and former Al-Shabab figures, including Al-Shabab’s slain leader Mukhtar Abu Al-Zubair (who is photographed from behind), Al-Shabab official spokesman ‘Ali Rage, and slain Al-Shabab commander Saleh Al-Nabhani (who was killed in September 2009). The video is narrator by a masked Al-Shabab English speaker whose eyes are digitally blurred. The video also includes previously released messages from a number of Al-Qaeda figures including Osama bin Laden, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, and Anwar Al-’Awlaki.
Mukhtar Abu Al-Zubair
The video, which is 1:17:07 in duration, was released on the Al-Fida’ forum, in both English and Arabic versions.
Following are the video’s main points:
The first part, which takes up the lion’s share of the video, is focused on Kenya, namely the crimes it committed throughout history against Somalis and Kenyan Muslims. In that regard, the video details Kenya’s military offensive against southern Somalia, while noting the crimes committed by KDF soldiers there. The video also notes Kenya’s oppressive policies against Kenyan Muslims, who, it says, were being targeted and killed. It notes, for instance, the case of prominent Kenyan cleric Aboud Rogo, who was gunned down outside a police station in September 2012.
The second part of the video details the Westgate attack, including Al-Shabab’s preceding threats to Kenya, threats which Al-Shabab says fell on deaf ears. Thus, “Westgate was perhaps the only natural response to the blatant Kenyan aggression.”
Moving on to the target itself, the narrator notes the location of the Westgate mall, while noting that it was an Israeli-owned structure that was frequented by foreigners and diplomats from nearby embassies.
The narrator says that the attack took “months of meticulous planning and painstaking preparations.”
The siege of the mall itself, according to the video, lasted six days. This stands in contrast to the Kenyan government’s claims that it regained control of the mall after four days. In that regard, the video makes repeated notes of the utter state of chaos and confusion among Kenyan officials and security forces during the attack, while noting, for example, the conflicting reports they issued regarding the true number of the attackers and their identities.
The attack itself is described along with extensive footage obtained from security cameras inside and outside the mall shown throughout. The footage shows the attackers sweeping through the mall, and in one case, executing a person who attempted to hide from them by shooting him at close range. The video also incorporates interviews with survivors and notes the “vetting process” carried out by the mujahideen inside the mall. In this process, non-Muslims were separated from Muslims “in order to safeguard the invaluable blood of the Muslims.” It also notes that women and children were allowed to flee the scene.
The video also includes audio messages by the attackers that were being streamed live to their superiors at the time. In that regard, the video notes the leading role of Al-Shabab Al-Mujahideen’s Twitter account at the time in reporting about the unfolding events. The video also mentions the fake Twitter account that published the names of the alleged attackers, and which Al-Shabab refuted shortly thereafter. The video also refutes another list of names released by Kenyan authorities following the attack.
Extolling Al-Shabab’s Twitter account’s role during the attack
Additionally, the video criticizes the conduct of KDF soldiers, who swept the mall after the siege ended. The soldiers can be seen in security footage carrying large shopping bags, and are accused of looting.
KDF soldiers (right) allegedly engaged in looting
The video concludes with threats of further attacks against Kenya, as well as calls for Muslims living the West to carry out similar attacks. Al-Shabab spokesman ‘Ali Rage addresses Kenya and says that “the war has not really started yet, and [that] between us is a long account yet to be settled. Westgate is just a drop in the ocean compared to what you have inflicted upon our Muslim brothers in Mombasa, Garissa, and Jilib.”
Rage adds: “The attacks and raids will continue and, by the will of Allah, they will not stop until you change your oppressive practices against our brothers and restore their rights in full. And what awaits you is far more grievous and more bitter by the permission of Allah…”
Calls for attacks in the West
Speaking in English, the masked video narrator directs a message to Muslims living the West, calling upon them to target the disbelievers: “We call upon our Muslim brothers, particularly those in the West, to answer the call of Allah and target the disbelievers wherever they are. If just a handful of mujahideen fighters could bring Kenya to a complete standstill for nearly a week, then imagine what a dedicated mujahid in the West could do to the American- or Jewish-owed shopping centers across the world.
“What if such an attack was to occur in the Mall of America in Minnesota, or the West Edmonton Mall in Canada, or in London’s Oxford Street, or any in the hundred or so Jewish-owned Westfield shopping centers… Take the Westfield shopping center in Stratford… for example – what would be the implications of such an attack? One could only imagine. And all it takes is a man with firm determination, of which our Muslim ummah has plenty of.
“So hurry up, hasten towards Heaven, and do not hesitate, for the disbelievers have no right whatsoever to rejoice in the safety of their lands, until safety becomes a reality in Palestine and all the lands of Islam, and until we take vengeance on the Western Crusaders for the deaths of thousands of innocent Muslims and mujahideen leaders killed in American drone strikes…”
The Obama administration announced on Friday that somewhere in the ballpark of 800,ooo healthcare.gov users were sent the wrong tax information for their 2014 tax filings. The government is asking those who got the erroneous information to delay filing their taxes.
It’s not just the feds. “California, which is running its own insurance market, on Thursday announced a similar problem affecting about 100,000 people in that state.”
The mistake will delay the tax refunds of about 1M people and it may also affect the size of the refunds. Some 50,000 people who have already submitted their tax returns will have to resubmit them.
CBS News is reporting, “The errors disclosed Friday are in new forms that HealthCare.gov sent to millions of consumers receiving coverage through the federal insurance market that serves most states. Those forms, called 1095-As, are like a W-2 for health care. They provided a month-by-month accounting of the subsidies consumers received to help pay their premiums. That information is then used to make sure everybody got the right amount, not too much, or too little.”
Apparently the administration is still looking for the “root cause” of the mishap.
Andy Slavitt, a top administration official overseeing federal health insurance programs, said the administration is still investigating the root cause of the problem. Slavitt said it had to do with erroneous calculations of a “benchmark” premium that is used to help determine the amount of subsidies that individuals receive.
Some consumers may have gotten too large of a subsidy and some may have gotten too little.
“We’re not doing any victory laps,” HealthCare.gov CEO Kevin Counihan told reporters.
On Thursday, the top rabbi in France stated that he was personally pained when President Obama described the Islamist terror attack on a kosher market as just “randomly” blowing away Jews.
“It really hurts me to hear the president say that, because a random act would mean that the attackers weren’t going after Jewish people,” Rabbi Haim Korsia said at Manhattan’s Park East Synagogue.
“They could have been going after anyone. But these attacks were focused on Jewish people.’’
The White House clarified the remarks saying that although the attack was “motivated by antisemitism” the victims were not singled out by name.
A total of 179 patients might have been infected with an antibiotic resistant ‘superbug’ at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. So far 7 people were confirmed infected, two of whom died.
They were exposed to Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE, during endoscopic procedures between October and January when it was discovered during tests on a patient, said Dale Tate, a University of California, Los Angeles spokeswoman.
The potentially infected patients are being sent free home-testing kits that UCLA will analyze, the university said.
The bacteria may have been a “contributing factor” in the deaths of two patients, a university statement said.
Officials at the hospital believe the bacteria was transmitted through contaminated medical tools, specifically two endoscopes.
“We notified all patients who had this type of procedure, and we were using seven different scopes. Only two of them were found to be infected. In an abundance of caution, we notified everybody,” Tate said.
The two medical devices were contaminated despite being sterilized as the manufacturer specified.
Similar bacterial infections has surfaced around country. The CDC said there are no records of national figures for outbreaks but that 47 states have seen cases.
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.”