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In Praise of Justice Sotomayor

Friday, January 23rd, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

On the Fourth Amendment, she’s quite good, one of the few seeking to delay the complete onset of the American Police State, in which cops are tasked not with keeping the peace but finding more crimes to prosecute. From Reason:

The Supreme Court heard oral argument [Wednesday] in the Fourth Amendment case Rodriguez v. United States. At issue is whether an officer “unnecessarily prolonged” an otherwise legal traffic stop when he called for backup in order to safely walk a drug-sniffing dog around the stopped vehicle. According to a previous Supreme Court ruling, the use of drug dogs during routine traffic stops poses no constitutional problems so long as the traffic stop is not “prolonged beyond the time reasonably required to complete that mission.”

Okay, let’s stop right there. What the hell does “not prolonged beyond the time reasonably required” actually mean? Does it mean something like this?

A Florida concealed carry permit holder had an unpleasant run-in with a Maryland police officer while traveling through the state. John Filippidis and his family drove from Florida to New Jersey last December for Christmas and a wedding. He knew he’d be traveling through states that aren’t gun-friendly, so he left his gun at home.

Filippidis was followed by a Maryland cop on I-95 after passing through the Fort McHenry tunnel. He said the cop flanked him, pulled ahead of him, and then got behind them. After about ten minutes of that, the officer pulled Filippidis over. The officer was from the Transportation Authority Police. He asked Filippidis for his license and registration. Around ten minutes later, he returned and asked John to exit his vehicle.

Of course, things went south from there. Back to Sotomayor:

According to Justice Department lawyer Ginger Anders, who argued yesterday in defense of the police, law enforcement is entitled to wide leeway when it comes to determining the amount of time that’s “reasonably required” to conduct traffic stops. But that argument met with strong resistance from several members of the Court, particularly Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Indeed, Sotomayor went so far as to suggest that the Court’s recent Fourth Amendment jurisprudence was flying off the rails due to its pro-police deference.

I have a real fundamental question, because this line drawing is only here because we’ve now created a Fourth Amendment entitlement to search for drugs using dogs, whenever anybody’s stopped. Because that’s what you’re proposing. And is that really what the Fourth Amendment should permit?

…we can’t keep bending the Fourth Amendment to the resources of law enforcement. Particularly when this stop is not—is not incidental to the purpose of the stop. It’s purely to help the police get more criminals, yes. But then the Fourth Amendment becomes a useless piece of paper.

Conservatives have got to start walking back their knee-jerk support of the police state, and if a liberal like Justice Sotomayor wants to help them out, they should welcome her.

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Texas Dem: Don’t ‘Try to Ram Through’ Obama’s Plan to Tax Rich

Friday, January 23rd, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

A Blue Dog Democrat said that instead of President Obama’s plan to target the rich with higher taxes, Congress needs to expand the tax base.

“We have to keep in mind is the words from President Lincoln that said you don’t help the poor by tearing down the rich or you don’t help the workers by tearing down businesses and to have a targeted tax increase, I don’t think that’s the right approach. We should find a way to make the taxes more fair and flatter,” Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) told Fox, stressing, “I respectfully don’t agree with the president.”

“For example, corporations, if we can lower their taxes for the corporations so we can compete with other ones across the world. There’s a lot of things we can do to flatten the tax rate and expand the base. And I think if we look at maybe what David Camp looked at, what Paul Ryan might look at and see if the Democrats can sit down and work something out,” he said.

“But to try to ram something through, that’s not the way. It will take some sort of consensus. I hope we can do this. Anybody can talk about tax reform. Can we actually roll up our sleeves and make tough decisions?”

Cuellar said that trying to bring anyone to the middle, though, is “exactly” what’s “wrong with Washington.”

“You have the far right. The far left. And trying to get us together and work this out, it sort of takes moderate Democrats, moderate Republicans to actually get things done,” he said.

“…And a lot of issues, we’re not there. But that’s the approach we ought to have. Otherwise, the far right and the far left will control the debates in Washington, D.C. And the practical aspects of getting stuff done are not going to get done because of the far left and the far right.”

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U.S. Pulls Some Embassy Staff in Yemen, But White House Says No Need to ‘Change Posture’

Friday, January 23rd, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

The State Department has pulled some of its staff from the U.S. Embassy in Sana’a, Yemen, as calls to evacuate the facility continued.

“While the Embassy remains open and is continuing to operate, we may continue to re-align resources based on the situation on the ground,” a senior State Department official told Reuters. “We will continue to operate as normal, albeit with reduced staff.”

Press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement late Thursday that the U.S. “is troubled by reports of President Hadi and his cabinet’s resignation. At this time, it is critical that all sides avoid violence.”

“The safety and security of U.S. personnel is our top priority in Yemen,” Psaki continued. “We are evaluating the security situation on the ground on an ongoing basis. We call on all parties to abide by their public commitments to ensure the security of the diplomatic community, including our personnel.”

She added that Yemenis “deserve a clear path back to a legitimate, federal, and unitary Yemeni government, consistent with the Gulf Cooperation Council Initiative, the outcomes of the National Dialogue Conference, UN Security Council resolutions and Yemeni law, with clearly defined timelines to finish writing a new Yemeni constitution, to hold a referendum on this constitution, and to launch national elections.”

“The future of Yemen should be determined by the Yemeni people in accordance with Yemen’s constitution and the National Dialogue Conference outcomes. All Yemenis have both a right and responsibility to peacefully participate in this process. The United States remains firmly committed to supporting all Yemenis in this endeavor.”

Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) told CNN “prudence dictates perhaps moving these people out at least temporarily.”

“AQAP, the al-Qaeda affiliate, is in the neighborhood. They’re in Sana’a as well. We know what they would like to do if they had a chance. The other complication is although the Houthi leadership apparently is making some reassuring noises to our people about not targeting the embassy, we’re not so sure about the chain of command,” King said.

“You have got an 18-year-old with a heavy-duty machine gun, and it could easily get out of control. I think the prudent thing is to move out. I know I have had a bunch of briefings in the last 24 hours. I know that the administration is monitoring this. I said, is it hour to hour? They said, no, it’s minute to minute.”

The senator, a member of the Intelligence Committee, added that “one of the big considerations is, what are the people on the ground at the embassy compound telling them about whether or not they’re able to do their job?”

“…That’s not an easy decision, because if we move out, the compound could be taken over and we couldn’t get back in. But it’s a tough call. But my inclination is err on the side of safety of those Americans.”

White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Thursday that “it’s been determined that there is not a need to change the posture at the U.S. embassy in Sana’a, but we’ll continue to monitor developments on the ground and if changes in that posture are necessary, we have all of the capabilities that are necessary to make those changes.”

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Marco Rubio: Yet Another Man Who Will Never Be President?

Friday, January 23rd, 2015 - by Michael Walsh
No chance

No chance

Put his name down, right alongside Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee — coincidentally, the other three 2016 no-hope candidates who have already more or less announced they’re running for the White House:

Sen. Marco Rubio has begun taking concrete steps toward launching a presidential bid, asking his top advisors to prepare for a campaign, signing on a leading Republican fundraiser, and planning extensive travel to early-voting states in the coming weeks, ABC News has learned. ”He has told us to proceed as if he is running for president,” a senior Rubio advisor tells ABC News.

Leading the effort to raise the $50 million or more he’ll need to run in the Republican primaries will be Anna Rogers, currently the finance director for American Crossroads, the conservative group started by Karl Rove that raised more than $200 million to help elect Republicans over the past two elections.

Rogers will begin working at Rubio’s political action committee on February 1 and would become the finance director of Rubio’s presidential campaign.

That bit about Anna Rogers, one of the Rove operatives, is mildly interesting. And not in a good way; Rubio is largely a creation of the Jeb Bush machine in Florida.

Rubio will never be president for a bunch of reasons: he blotted his copybook with his ill-advised Gang of Eight immigration fiasco, thus proving himself to be a “Hispanic” senator first and a conservative second; he’s unimpressive on the stump and will find it difficult to rally the red-meat base in a way that, say, Ted Cruz or Scott Walker or even a retread Rick Perry could; Cubans, by and large, do not appeal to other Hispanics, especially Mexicans; and he has his share of skeletons in his closet which could pop out to haunt him should he make a play for the national stage.

Rubio, 43, will gather on Friday and Saturday at the Delano Hotel in Miami with 300 supporters and major donors to his Reclaim America PAC to discuss his political future. Aides expect Rubio will make a final decision in the comings weeks, but his schedule for the next month already looks more like the schedule of a presidential candidate than a senator.

ABC News has learned Rubio plans to skip all votes in the Senate next week and instead take a campaign fundraising swing through California with events in Beverly Hills, Newport Beach, Rancho Sante Fe and Costa Mesa. He also plans fundraising stops in Texas and Chicago.

Let’s see: a freshman senator who plans to skip all votes in the Senate next week in order to fund-raise and campaign for a higher office. Where have we seen that before?

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Kasich 2016? Ohio Governor Thinking About White House Run

Friday, January 23rd, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

Ohio Gov. John Kasich says he doesn’t “have any options closed” for a 2016 run at the White House.

“What I’m saying is I’m running the great state, seventh largest in the country. We’re growing. We’re doing fantastic, and I have a lot more thing I want to do. I don’t need to go run for president to feel as though I’m accomplishing things,” Kasich told Fox.

“But, look, if there is something that I think can give me a path to being more effective in a bigger way, I’m not closed to that. I’m open to it. I’m not just interested in doing it to go through motions. A lot of people who are going to run for president do it to sell more books, they can get a television show. That’s not my interest.”

Kasich, recently sworn in to his second term as governor, said the “one thing people in my political party don’t always understand” is that “economic growth is not an end unto itself.”

“Economic growth provides the means whereby we can reach out and help those who live in the shadows,” he said.

“I think the problem in America today is that the folks out there don’t think the politicians understand them. And it is my job as governor to solve problems.”

Kasich won 86 out of 88 counties in Ohio on election night. He called the GOP’s messaging “incomplete.”

“How do you allow people to rise? How do you get everyone, like our minority community, how do we get them to share in the prosperity? We are a divided country, rich, poor, black, white, rural, urban. This is not how we’ll succeed as a country,” he said.

“There are about 20 states in America that don’t have a balanced budget. Not only do we have a balanced budget, structurally balanced, from an $8 billion, but we’re running an over $1.5 billion surplus. And I was one of the key guys to balance the federal budget. So when people start talking about my fiscal stuff they don’t know what they’re talking about,” Kasich replied to conservative criticism of some of his policies. “Secondly, the faith community is a big chunk of the conservative movement of the Republican Party. Just read Matthew 25. Did you feed the hungry? Did you clothe the naked? If we’re doing things like that, to me that is conservatism. And you know what, I have a right to define conservatism as much as somebody sitting in the stands down in Washington trying to tell us what we ought to do. And as a governor it is my job to answer the bell.”

“When I expanded Medicaid people said I brought Ohio’s dollars back to Ohio to deal with mentally ill and drug addicted, so I get criticized by some. I don’t really care about it. Guess what. Do you know how many Republican governors are trying to figure out how to do exactly what did it? Look, this is Reagan. This is what he believed. You don’t — Reagan expanded Medicaid.”

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White House Official: Netanyahu ‘Spat in Our Face… There Will Be a Price’

Friday, January 23rd, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

From the administration that called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “chickens**t” comes more gems after he accepted House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) invitation to address a joint session of Congress:

“We thought we’ve seen everything,” [Haaretz] quoted an unnamed senior US official as saying. “But Bibi managed to surprise even us.

“There are things you simply don’t do. He spat in our face publicly and that’s no way to behave. Netanyahu ought to remember that President Obama has a year and a half left to his presidency, and that there will be a price,” he said.

Officials in Washington said that the “chickenshit” epithet — with which an anonymous administration official branded Netanyahu several months ago — was mild compared to the language used in the White House when news of Netanyahu’s planned speech came in.

…Haaretz reported that Obama had personally demanded that Netanyahu tone down his pro-sanctions rhetoric in a phone call between the two last week. The president has said a sanctions bill would cripple negotiations with Iranian leaders at a critical stage, and has threatened to veto such a bill should it come through.

The Washington Post reported that Netanyahu’s apparent disrespect for US leadership was particularly offensive to Secretary of State John Kerry, who over the past month had made frenzied efforts on Israel’s behalf on the world stage — making dozens of calls to world leaders to convince them to oppose a UN Security Council resolution which would have set a timeframe for the establishment of a Palestinian state.

“The secretary’s patience is not infinite,” a source close to Kerry told the Post. “The bilateral relationship is unshakable. But playing politics with that relationship could blunt Secretary Kerry’s enthusiasm for being Israel’s primary defender.”

In other words, the principles of support for Israel that the administration has long contended it holds dear are merely conditional on the White House feeling that it has the position of power in this special relationship.

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Anti-Vaccine Nuts? Illegal Aliens? What Could Go Wrong?

Friday, January 23rd, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

How about this to start:

California is battling a surge of measles cases clustered around the famous Disneyland theme park, despite the virus being all but eliminated in the United States, authorities said. Fifty-nine cases have been recorded since the end of December, the California Department of Public Health reported, urging people to get themselves vaccinated — in the face of a movement against the vaccinations over concerns about links to autism in children.

“Of the confirmed cases, 42 have been linked to Disneyland or Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim, California,” the health department said. Five of the cases involved Disney employees. ”Initial exposures occurred in December, but additional confirmed cases visited Disney parks while infectious in January,” the department added on its website.

Measles is highly contagious and can be spread through the air without physical contact. Infection usually begins with a fever followed by a cough, runny nose, conjunctivitis and a rash. The health department said the spate of cases underscored the need for vaccinations against the illness. Twenty-eight cases from 34 for which data was available involved individuals who had not been vaccinated.

Hard to know at this point how many of the cases were introduced by immigrants from Third World countries where vaccination is not as rigorous as it once was in the United States, when we were a First World country, and how many are caused by screaming nutbags who think vaccinations lead to “autism.” But there is no medical reason why this should be happening in America.

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Volunteers Offer to Take 100 Lashes for Imprisoned Saudi Blogger

Friday, January 23rd, 2015 - by The Tatler

Several prominent Muslim American figures have offered to take 100 lashes on behalf of imprisoned blogger Raif Badawi, who was sentenced by Saudi Arabia to 1,000 lashes for insulting Islamic clerics.

SaudiBlogger1

In a letter to the Saudi Ambassador to the U.S., Robert P. George, a Princeton professor and vice chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, and Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, urged the immediate release of Badawi.

Badawai received the first round of his weekly floggings almost two weeks ago. The second round was postponed after doctors reported he had not recovered sufficiently to receive more lashes.

George and Jasser wrote in the letter that if Badawi is not released, they will volunteer to receive 100 lashes each. The letter included five other signatories: Mary Ann Glendon, of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, Daniel Mark, assistant professor of Department of Political Science at Villanova University, Hannah Rosenthal, CEO of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation, Eric Schwartz dean of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota and, Katrina Lantos Swett, president of Lantos Foundation for Human Rights & Justice.

SaudiBlogger2

“Compassion, a virtue honored in Islam as well as in Christianity, Judaism, and other faiths, is defined as ‘suffering with another.’ We are persons of different faiths, yet we are united in a sense of obligation to condemn and resist injustice and to suffer with its victims, if need be,” the letter reads. “We therefore make the following request. If your government will not remit the punishment of Raif Badawi, we respectfully ask that you permit each of us to take 100 of the lashes that would be given to him.”

“We would rather share in his victimization than stand by and watch him being cruelly tortured. If your government does not see fit to stop this from happening, we are prepared to present ourselves to receive our share of Mr. Badawi’s unjust punishment,” the group said.

Badawi was arrested in 2012 after his blog writings insulted Islamic Clerics. He was cleared of apostasy, which would have involved a death sentence. Instead he was given 1,000 lashes and a 10 year prison term.

 

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Why Is Obama Funneling Money to Iran?

Friday, January 23rd, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

Because he is, you know. In the guise of protecting “negotiations” over Iran’s soon-to-be-fully-functional nuclear program.

The Obama administration on Wednesday paid $490 million in cash assets to Iran and will have released a total of $11.9 billion to the Islamic Republic by the time nuclear talks are scheduled to end in June, according to figures provided by the State Department.

Today’s $490 million release, the third such payment of this amount since Dec. 10, was agreed to by the Obama administration under the parameters of another extension in negotiations over Tehran’s contested nuclear program that was inked in November.

Iran will receive a total of $4.9 billion in unfrozen cash assets via 10 separate payments by the United States through June 22, when talks with Iran are scheduled to end with a final agreement aimed at curbing the country’s nuclear work, according to a State Department official…

Iran will have received a total of $11.9 billion in cash assets by the end of June if current releases continue on pace as scheduled.

That would be the same group of fundamentalist savages who in defiance of international, civilized norms seized our embassy under the feckless Carter administration and have never had to feel the lash since.

Barack Hussein Obama: the best friend our Islamic enemies ever had.

Remember when the U.S. government represented America? Seems like eons ago.

 

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[VIDEO] Obama: ‘I’m Mostly Watching SportsCenter’ in My Free Time

Friday, January 23rd, 2015 - by The Tatler
YouTube Preview Image

President Obama answered the questions of various YouTube celebrities yesterday. During an interview with Bethany Moto, he was asked: “If you have any free time, what TV shows or movies do you watch?”

To which Obama answered:

“You know, I’m really big on sports. The truth of the matter is, I’m mostly watching SportsCenter,” the president responded. “Whenever I’m working out at the gym if there’s a basketball or football game going on, I’m usually tuned in there.”

He was also asked what he wanted to be when he grew up. “I wanted to be a bunch of different things,” Obama said. “I wanted to be an architect for a long time.”

“I suppose in the back of my mind at some point I thought playing in the NBA would be great, being a basketball player. That ended I think around the age of 13 when I realized I wasn’t talented enough,” Obama also said.

 

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Obama Lauds King’s ‘Courage of Convictions’; Biden to Lead U.S. Delegation to Saudi Arabia

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

President Obama hailed late Saudi King Abdullah, who died at age 90 after a battle with pneumonia, as leading the kingdom “through its emergence as a critical force within the global economy and a leader among Arab and Islamic nations.”

“He took bold steps in advancing the Arab Peace Initiative, an endeavor that will outlive him as an enduring contribution to the search for peace in the region,” Obama said of the Saudi plan that would recognize Israel in exchange for concessions including pulling back to pre-1967 borders. “At home, King Abdullah’s vision was dedicated to the education of his people and to greater engagement with the world.”

“As our countries worked together to confront many challenges, I always valued King Abdullah’s perspective and appreciated our genuine and warm friendship,” the president continued in a statement. “As a leader, he was always candid and had the courage of his convictions. One of those convictions was his steadfast and passionate belief in the importance of the U.S.-Saudi relationship as a force for stability and security in the Middle East and beyond. The closeness and strength of the partnership between our two countries is part of King Abdullah’s legacy.”

“May God grant him peace,” Obama added.

Abdullah was going to be buried after Friday afternoon prayers, according to the Arab News. Vice President Joe Biden will lead the U.S. delegation to Saudi Arabia, though it was unclear exactly when Biden would be in the country.

Biden said in a statement that the king’s death is a “great loss” as he “played an outsized role in building his country.”

Secretary of State John Kerry lamented that it was a “sad day.”

“The United States has lost a friend, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Middle East, and the world has lost a revered leader,” Kerry said. “King Abdullah was a man of wisdom and vision. I loved my visits with him as a senator and as secretary. Even as he battled age and illness, he held on to his sense of determination. His stories of his father and of his family were remarkable. He was so proud of the Kingdom’s journey, a brave partner in fighting violent extremism who proved just as important as a proponent of peace.”

“The courageous Arab Peace Initiative that he sponsored remains a critical document for the goal we shared of two states, Israel and Palestine, living in peace and security. He also made great strides to invest in the Saudi people, and the Kingdom’s infrastructure and economic development. The scholarship program that bears his name represents an enormous, far-sighted contribution to Saudi Arabia’s future prosperity. I know he was very proud of his role as Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and as leader of his people.”

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel issued condolences “on behalf of all the men and women of the Department of Defense.”

“Like his father, who founded modern Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah was a man of tremendous character and courage – a historic figure dedicated to advancing the lives of his people at home as well as his country’s leadership abroad. He was a committed friend and partner of the United States. And he was a powerful voice for tolerance, moderation, and peace – in the Islamic world and across the globe,” Hagel said.

“I extend my condolences, thoughts, and prayers to King Abdullah’s family, and to all the people of Saudi Arabia. May he rest in peace as we celebrate his rich legacy for many years to come.”

Amnesty International reported that Friday’s scheduled flogging of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi was postponed because a doctor determined he “would not be able to withstand” his next round of lashes yet.

Badawi, a 31-year-old married father of three, was sentenced to 10 years behind bars and 1,000 lashes spread out over a 20-week period for “insulting Islam” through articles posted on his website.

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Breaking: Saudi King Abdullah Dead at 90

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015 - by Rick Moran

King Abdullah ibn Abdilazīz of Saudi Arabia, known in the kingdom as the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, died early Friday morning according to Saudi state TV. No cause of death was immediately given.

Associated Press reports:

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, the powerful U.S. ally who joined Washington’s fight against al-Qaida and sought to modernize the ultraconservative Muslim kingdom with incremental but significant reforms, including nudging open greater opportunities for women, has died, according to Saudi state TV. He was 90.

More than his guarded and hidebound predecessors, Abdullah assertively threw his oil-rich nation’s weight behind trying to shape the Middle East. His priority was to counter the influence of rival, mainly Shiite Iran wherever it tried to make advances. He and fellow Sunni Arab monarchs also staunchly opposed the Middle East’s wave of pro-democracy uprisings, seeing them as a threat to stability and their own rule.

He backed Sunni Muslim factions against Tehran’s allies in several countries, but in Lebanon for example, the policy failed to stop Iranian-backed Hezbollah from gaining the upper hand. And Tehran and Riyadh’s colliding ambitions stoked proxy conflicts around the region that enflamed Sunni-Shiite hatreds — most horrifically in Syria’s civil war, where the two countries backed opposing sides. Those conflicts in turn hiked Sunni militancy that returned to threaten Saudi Arabia.

And while the king maintained the historically close alliance with Washington, there were frictions as he sought to put those relations on Saudi Arabia’s terms. He was constantly frustrated by Washington’s failure to broker a settlement to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. He also pushed the Obama administration to take a tougher stand against Iran and to more strongly back the mainly Sunni rebels fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Abdullah’s successor is 78 year old Crown Prince Salman, who is said to be in poor health himself.

King Salman has been part of the ruling clique of princes for decades and is thought likely to continue the main thrusts of Saudi strategic policy, including maintaining the alliance with the United States and working towards energy market stability.

During his five decades as Riyadh governor he was reputedly adept at managing the delicate balance of clerical, tribal and princely interests that determine Saudi policy, while maintaining good relations with the West.

Very little is known of Crown Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. He gradated from Great Britain’s RAF college with a degree in aeronautics and also went to General Staff school in the US. He served as the Kingdom’s intelligence agency director for 7 years, beginning in 2005.

Abdullah was a strong US ally and a decent ruler. His experience will be missed in the Middle East as the challenges facing the Kingdom continue to grow. Some considered him a “reformer,” but this is surely an overstatement. The radical conservative Wahhabi clerics are a powerful influence in the country, and as long as they wield that influence, any “reforms” will be close to meaningless.

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Do You Believe Bill Belichick on Deflategate?

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015 - by Rick Moran

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick strongly denied he had anything to do with deflating game balls used during the AFC Championship contest last Sunday with the Indianapolis Colts.

The Patriots won the game 45-7, and after an investigation by the league following the game, the NFL determined that 11 of 12 game balls used by the Patriots were well under the psi specifications for inflation.

A deflated ball theoretically gives the quarterback and receivers an advantage in the kind of wet, cold weather conditions under which the game was played on Sunday. The ball is easier to both catch and throw.

At a press conference, Belichick said he had no explanation for the deflated balls and said he had never given the rules governing the inflation of balls a thought in 40 years of coaching.

Belichick: I’ll start out by addressing the football issue here. When I came in Monday morning, I was shocked to learn of the news reports about the footballs. I had no knowledge whatsoever of this situation until Monday morning. I would say I’ve learned a lot more about this process in the last three days than I knew or have talked about it in the last 40 years that I have coached in this league. I had no knowledge of the various steps involved in the game balls and the process that happened between when they were prepared and went to the officials and went to the game. So, I’ve learned a lot about that. I obviously understand that each team has the opportunity to prepare the balls the way they want, give them to the officials and the game officials either approve or disapprove the balls. That really was the end of it for me until I learned a little bit more about this the last couple days.

Belichick claims that he goes out of his way to make the balls used in practice as difficult to handle as possible:

Let me just say that my personal coaching philosophy, my mentality has always been to make things as difficult as possible for players in practice. So with regard to footballs, I’m sure that any current or past player of mine would tell you that the balls we practice with are as bad as they can be: wet, sticky, cold, slippery. However bad we can make them, I make them. Any time that players complain about the quality of the footballs, I make them worse and that stops the complaining. We never use the condition of the footballs as an excuse. We play with whatever or kick with whatever we have to use and that’s the way it is. That has never been a priority for me and I want the players to deal with a harder situation in practice than they’ll ever have to deal with in the game. Maybe that’s part of our ball security philosophy.

I’m trying to coach the team and that’s what I want to do. I think we all know that quarterbacks, kickers, specialists have certain preferences on footballs. They know a lot more about it than I do. They’re a lot more sensitive to it than I am. I hear them comment on it from time to time, but I can tell you and they will tell you that there is never any sympathy whatsoever from me on that subject. Zero. Tom’s [Brady] personal preferences on his footballs are something he can take about in much better detail and information than I could possibly provide. I could tell you that in my entire coaching career I have never talked to any player, staff member about football air pressure. That is not a subject that I have ever brought up. To me the footballs are approved by the league and game officials pregame and we play with what’s out there. That’s the only way that I have ever thought about that.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady also denied any involvement in deflating game balls, saying “I didn’t alter the balls in any way.”

NBC News reported that Brady addressed the issue with his teammates Thursday, saying in a closed-door meeting that he likes footballs “a certain way” and that they should stay focused on the Super Bowl.

In his news conference, Brady said there’s a usual process he goes through in getting used to using game day footballs, explaining it’s like any other piece of equipment for him. However, the quarterback repeatedly professed his innocence in doctoring any of the footballs.

“I feel like I have always played within the rules. I would never break the rules.”

Brady also echoed the earlier sentiment of his coach, Bill Belichick, in saying he was stunned by the news of the illegal footballs.

“I was as surprised as anybody when I heard Monday morning what was happening,” Brady said.

Sources told Fox Sports that the Baltimore Ravens, who played the Patriots the previous week, tipped off the Colts about the deflated ball issue. During the game, a ball was actually taken out of play to be examined by officials. It’s possible that examination led to the investigation by the NFL that began after the game was over.

The NFL is being tightlipped about what they’ve discovered, but says the investigation should be concluded by the weekend. The question then becomes, how to punish the Patriots?

In 2007, the Pats were fined and lost a first round draft choice due to their violation of league rules in videotaping the defensive signals of an opponent during the game. But stealing signals is one thing. Actually breaking the rules to gain a competitive advantage is another.

The ever-image-conscious NFL will probably not hit the Patriots with significant penalties. The league had a tough offseason as several high-profile domestic abuse cases and the arrest for murder of former Patriots player Aaron Hernandez caused the NFL to reexamine policies and procedures governing off-field behavior.

But calls for forcing the Pats to forfeit the game and send Indianapolis to the Super Bowl are absurd, as are calls to limit the Patriots’ ability to sign free agents or make trades.

The most likely outcome would be hefty fines and perhaps the loss of a draft choice. Meanwhile, the reputation of Belichick — already in tatters — took another hit. It is a supreme irony that a man who may go down as the greatest coach in NFL history would be remembered for his hand in cheating scandals as much as his Super Bowl wins.

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Bibi Accepts Boehner Invitation, But He Won’t Be Welcomed by White House

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accepted House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) invitation to address a joint session of Congress on terrorism and terror-sponsor Iran.

Boehner originally proposed Feb 11, but the date will be bumped to March 3 to coincide with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in D.C.

AIPAC confirmed that Netanyahu will be speaking at the March 1-3 megaconference.

“I am honored by this invitation, which reflects the special friendship shared by Israel and the United States as well as the strong bipartisan support for Israel across America,” Netanyahu said in a statement today.

“Just last week I discussed with President Obama the common challenges we face from Islamist extremism, including resurgent terrorism and Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons,” he continued.

“I look forward to being able to share with the joint session Israel’s vision for working together to address these threats and to reiterate Israel’s commitment to the bond that unites our two democracies.”

But President Obama will not be meeting with Netanyahu when he visits.

“As a matter of long-standing practice and principle, we do not see heads of state or candidates in close proximity to their elections, so as to avoid the appearance of influencing a democratic election in a foreign country,” White House National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said in a statement today. “Accordingly, the president will not be meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu because of the proximity to the Israeli election, which is just two weeks after his planned address to the U.S. Congress.”

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‘It Sure Hurt’: Reid Explains Workout Accident, Announces Eye Surgery

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will be having reconstructive surgery on his face after the workout accident in his home.

Reid skipped Tuesday’s State of the Union address on the advice of his doctors, but returned to the Hill today for a press conference.

“I know there are a lot of rumors as to what happened, but it’s very simple. My wife and I were in our new home. I was doing exercises that I’ve been doing for many years, with those large rubber bands. And one of them broke and spun me around, and I crashed into a — these cabinets and injured my arm,” Reid said.

“It didn’t knock me out, but it sure hurt. And I was taken to the hospital. And came back here after a couple of days. I have some bones broken around my eye. And on Monday, as I understand it, we’re going to fix that. They’re going to reconstruct the bones here. The bone that’s broken is — the bone that’s broken is this one right here. It’s been pushed in against my eye, and they’re going to move that back out.”

Reid explained that because of the injury, “there’s blood in the front and back part of my eye.”

“And they’re going to have to move it — reconstruction of that bone there. They’re going to drain the blood off this part of the eye, the back part of the eye,” he said. “And they’re confident that I’ll be really quite good after that.”

Reid didn’t answer a question about whether he’d consulted with the upper chamber’s eye doctor, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), but said he didn’t expect his medical problems to interfere with his plans to run for re-election in 2016.

“The doctors have been very supportive of my plans. Nothing has changed during the time that I was — the first couple of weeks of recovery,” he said. “…So everything is on line. In Nevada, you know, we have quite an operation in Nevada that hasn’t lost a step. We’re off and running.”

Is he afraid of losing sight in the eye permanently? “Well, I’m looking forward to Monday, that’s for sure,” Reid said.

“I’m, as some of you know, an avid reader. I read lots and lots of books. I read some good ones during the break. So, what I — because I have not been able to read, they have told me that if you have an eye that’s healing and you try to overwork your good eye, it puts too much pressure… So I haven’t been reading.”

When Reid was first injured, his spokesman said the senator suffered a concussion. Today, Reid said, “To my knowledge, I’m not getting treatment for concussion.”

“I mean, although I do have a better understanding of the football players and baseball players who have concussions. No one’s told me I had one, but perhaps I had. I don’t know.”

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Door Opened on Drone Reporting as Media Companies Start Testing

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

Ten media companies have aligned to test drone newsgathering with Virginia Tech, shortly after CNN announced it would be developing drone reporting with Georgia Tech.

They’re wandering into new territory as regulations currently don’t allow media organizations to use the unmanned aircraft.

Advance Publications Inc., A.H. Belo Corp., The Associated Press, Gannet Co. Inc., Getty Images (U.S.) Inc., NBC Universal, The New York Times Co., The E.W. Scripps Co., Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. and The Washington Post have partnered to test drone newsgathering at the FAA-approved site in Virginia.

At the testing site, one of six approved by Congress as a first step to forging domestic drone regulations, the news agencies will “conduct controlled safety testing of a series of real-life scenarios where the news media could use small UAS technology to gather the news,” according to law firm Holland & Knight.

The firm has been working with the media companies since the middle of last year to come to an agreement on testing.

The Federal Aviation Administration recently entered into a research and development agreement with CNN.

“Our aim is to get beyond hobby-grade equipment and to establish what options are available and workable to produce high-quality video journalism using various types of UAVs and camera setups,” said CNN Senior Vice President David Vigilante. “Our hope is that these efforts contribute to the development of a vibrant ecosystem where operators of various types and sizes can safely operate in the U.S. airspace.”

While the FAA has granted exemptions for the use of drones in other industries including agriculture and film, no media organization has yet been granted permission to use drones for newsgathering.

“Unmanned aircraft offer news organizations significant opportunities,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said in a statement. “We hope this agreement with CNN and the work we are doing with other news organizations and associations will help safely integrate unmanned newsgathering technology and operating procedures into the National Airspace System.”

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What Really Causes Addiction? Maybe It’s Your Cage

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

Nature or nurture? A predisposition to addiction, or the drugs themselves? A new book suggests neither of the above:

It is now one hundred years since drugs were first banned – and all through this long century of waging war on drugs, we have been told a story about addiction, by our teachers, and by our governments. This story is so deeply ingrained in our minds that we take it for granted. It seems obvious. It seems manifestly true. Until I set off three and a half years ago on a 30,000-mile journey for my book ‘Chasing The Scream – The First And Last Days of the War on Drugs’ to figure out what is really driving the drug war, I believed it too. But what I learned on the road is that almost everything we have been told about addiction is wrong – and there is a very different story waiting for us, if only we are ready to hear it. If we truly absorb this new story, we will have to change a lot more than the drug war. We will have to change ourselves.

I’m always wary of stories that begin so portentously, but please read on:

Here’s one example of an experiment that is happening all around you, and may well happen to you one day. If you get run over today and you break your hip, you will probably be given diamorphine – the medical name for heroin. In the hospital around you, there will be plenty of people also given heroin for long periods, for pain relief. The heroin you will get from the doctor will have a much high purity and potency than the heroin being used by street-addicts, who have to buy from criminals who adulterate it. So if the old theory of addiction is right – it’s the drugs that cause it; they make your body need them – then it’s obvious what should happen. Loads of people should leave hospital and try to score smack on the streets, to meet their habit.

But here’s the strange thing. It virtually never happens. As the Canadian doctor Gabor Mate was the first to explain to me, medical users just stop, despite months of use. The same drug, used for the same length of time, turns street-users into desperate addicts – and leaves medical patients unaffected.

If you still believe – as I used to – that addiction is caused by chemical hooks, this makes no sense. But if you believe Bruce Alexander’s theory, the picture falls into place.

And now read the whole thing.

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Slate Social Justice Warrior Overcome by the Urge to Retroactively Complain About…Chandler Bing

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015 - by Stephen Kruiser

This is a thing that happened today.

I loved Friends during its 1994–2004 run, but when I started re-watching the sitcom thanks to its Jan. 1 arrival on Netflix, I steeled myself to be disappointed. I knew that from our modern vantage point, the fashion and technology would feel, at times, obsolete. (Ross’s Season 3 “laserdisc marathon”!) I suspected some plotlines would be a little creaky, too: Ross’s relationship with an undergrad, say, and Monica in a fat suit. But as a longtime fan, I worried most about Joey.

Joey’s “thing” was that he was an inveterate womanizer; in the pilot, he compared women to ice cream, and told a mopey Ross to “grab a spoon.” In the year 2015, would this kind of horndogginess play? The trope of the leering lothario just felt so old, so unfunny, so painfully CBS. But as I watched, I was soon reminded of Joey’s other qualities: His warmth, his happy-go-lucky confidence, and his love of jam. Joey is great! Sure, he loves beautiful women, but somehow his openness and goofiness—and Matt LeBlanc’s performance—still make him easy to watch.

You know who isn’t easy to watch? Chandler Bing.

Indeed, of all the aspects of Friends that seem trapped in the past, Chandler Bing is the most agonizingly obsolete. Once he may have seemed coolly sarcastic, the gang’s designated “funny one.” But through the eyes of a 2015 viewer even vaguely cognizant of modern gender politics, he’s also the cringe-worthy one.

Chandler, identified in Season 1 as having a “quality” of gayness about him, is endlessly paranoid about being perceived as insufficiently masculine. He’s freaked out by hugs, and by Joey having a pink pillow on his couch. (“If you let this go, you’re going to be sitting around with your fingers soaking in stuff!”)

In retrospect, the entire show’s treatment of LGBTQ issues is awful, a fault pointedly illustrated by the exhaustive clip-compilation “Homophobic Friends.” But Chandler’s treatment of his gay father, a Vegas drag queen played by Kathleen Turner, is especially appalling, and it’s not clear the show knows it. It’s one thing for Chandler to recall being embarrassed as a kid, but he is actively resentful and mocking of his loving, involved father right up until his own wedding (to which his father is initially not invited!). Even a line like “Hi, Dad” is delivered with vicious sarcasm. Monica eventually cajoles him into a grudging reconciliation, which the show treats as an acceptably warm conclusion. But his continuing discomfort now reads as jarringly out-of-place for a supposedly hip New York thirtysomething—let alone a supposedly good person, period.

One wonders what kinds of childhood traumas were visited upon these leftist scolds to make them decide ahead of time what they won’t like about a sitcom that went off the air over ten years ago. Probably something horrific like mommy not getting the right kind of frosting for the 10th birthday cake.

I am often considered somewhat cranky, yet on my worst days I’m the Happiest Guy On Earth compared to your garden variety Social Justice Warrior (SJW). Imagine living such a miserable life that the phrase “I steeled myself to be disappointed” comes out of your brain in reference to watching a popular situation comedy.

In their zeal to despise all things American, progressives spend their days creating struggles and seeing oppression in places like sitcoms, where most people see an easy laugh.

The writer laments the treatment of “LGBTQ issues” in a show that really didn’t go after a lot of heavy issues. Ross wasn’t a very flattering portrayal of paleontologists either. Monica seemed far too anal to be a really inventive chef. Rachel’s career path was unrealistic.

The list of things to complain about in a show that never really was about any of those things is endless.

Because it was a lighthearted television show, you SJW shrew.

Progressives rail at the lack of depth in things that aren’t supposed to have depth because they are working out personal issues related to the shallowness of their own lives and political philosophy, it’s that simple.

They are that simple.

And sad.

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Pelosi Peeved That Boehner Had ‘Hubris’ to Say ‘I Rule’ and Invite Bibi

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

The White House has complained that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) broke with executive protocol in his invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint sessions of Congress — and now Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is saying Boehner had the “hubris” to break an unwritten congressional protocol as well.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Wednesday that “the typical protocol would suggest that the leader of a country would contact the leader of another country when he’s traveling there.”

“That certainly is how President Obama’s trips are planned when we travel overseas,” Earnest said. “So this particular event seems to be a departure from that protocol.”

The Netanyahu address is scheduled for Feb. 11.

“When I was — also when I was minority leader and became one of the four leaders, it was clear always that if we wanted — if we had a suggestion about a head of state to come, that it was something that had to — you passed around the four top leaders,” Pelosi told reporters at a press conference today.

“For example, one of my, as minority leader before being speaker, one of the people that I was excited to invite or hoped to invite was the president of Liberia, woman president of Liberia, [Ellen] Sirleaf Johnson. And I knew that she would be a spectacular guest for the House, but — or for the Congress, a joint session, but I talked to Senator Frist, I talked to — I talked to the leadership about would that be OK. And they agreed that it would,” she continued.

“A concern that people had, going back then, was will members show up, because members are not always enthusiastic about attending these joint sessions.”

Netanyahu’s 2011 address to a joint session of Congress was packed.

“So that was — that was my introduction to it, you talked to all four, the other three leaders. There’s some consensus among four. And I’m not saying that it’s a big challenge. People usually would cooperate. But they’d raise their concerns about attendance, this or that. I know Sirleaf Johnson we would be bursting at the seams, and we were, with member attendance,” Pelosi said, adding more examples: “So, when I was speaker, we had King Abdullah of Jordan, President Sarkozy of France, the taoiseach of Ireland, Taoiseach Ahern, Prime Minister Brown of England, Chancellor Merkel of Germany, and President Calderon of Mexico, some kind of a combination of initiated by the White House or initiated by Congress, but agreed to by all four leaders.”

“So, it’s out of the ordinary that the speaker would decide that he would be inviting people to a joint session without any bipartisan consultation.”

Pelosi added, “Of course, we always — our friendship with Israel is a very strong one. Prime Minister Netanyahu has spoken to the joint session two times already.”

“And there are concerns about the fact that this, as I understand it from this morning, that this presentation will take place within two weeks of the election in Israel. I don’t think that’s appropriate for any country, that the head of state would come here within two weeks of his own election in his own country,” she said. “The more serious part of your question is about the sanctions. Yes, the president was correct in his presentation and the strength with which he presented his appeal to Congress that we not have sanctions at this time.”

Pelosi chided pro-sanctions lawmakers, including many Dems. “Everybody knows that Congress can pass sanctions anytime. So, what is the point? What is the point? What is the — the problem is that it could seriously undermine the delicate diplomacy that is at work… And so, what is the point of — of sanctions? And if that’s the purpose of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit two weeks before his own election, right in the midst of our negotiations, I just don’t think it’s appropriate and helpful.”

She wasn’t done.

Pelosi said Boehner has “awesome power” in his position as speaker, but “that power is not to be squandered.”

“It’s hubris to say, you know, ‘I rule; I’ll decide.’ And without any sensitivity to the fact that an election is taking two weeks — and within two weeks, the invitation I get is for the 3rd of March and the election is the — what? — the 17th, something like that. And also the fact that what is the purpose of it. Is the purpose to come and talk about sanctions? To talk about a policy in opposition to the policy that our president has just put forth in his State of the Union address and that has been in operation for many months?”

Boehner said in a statement Wednesday that Netanyahu “is a great friend of our country, and this invitation carries with it our unwavering commitment to the security and well-being of his people.”

“In this time of challenge, I am asking the Prime Minister to address Congress on the grave threats radical Islam and Iran pose to our security and way of life,” Boehner continued. “Americans and Israelis have always stood together in shared cause and common ideals, and now we must rise to the moment again.”

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Publicity Stunt or Epic Troll? UK’s The Sun Continues to Run Page Three Topless Pics

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

Everybody’s two favorite features in the largest-selling Brit newspaper, The Sun, have returned: The Sun has printed a topless model on Page 3, ending days of speculation that the feature was dead. The newspaper has tweeted out a picture of Thursday’s Page 3 which features a blonde-haired model, under the headline ‘clarifications and corrections’, winking and […]

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Psaki Calls Boehner Invitation to Netanyahu an ‘Episode of the Bizarre’

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said this morning that by the time Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks before a joint session of Congress, lawmakers should have their Iran sanctions game plan in place.

Corker went to Israel a few days ago “to sit down with him and also sit down with Mossad, who’s their intelligence agency, in closely monitoring these negotiations,” he told CNN.

“And my guess is by the time that he comes Congress may be in sync as to what it wants to do. So I don’t know that he’ll be necessarily going against the president. There’s a lot that’s occurring,” Corker said.

“But I do know this, he’s incredibly concerned about a bad deal with Iran, very concerned about where these negotiations are going. And what appears to be happening is Iran has sort of been here, we started here, the P-5, and every day that goes by it seems that we move closer and closer to the Iran place. And that’s why Congress, again, wants to be that firm backstop. And I think he supports this, to keep the P-5 from going to a place that’s really bad for our nation.”

The chairman said he was “made aware” of the invitation, though it’s House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) call.

“I think what you’ve seen happening is the president’s been irresponsible in the way that he has dealt with Congress and continued to basically act as if it’s his way or the highway,” Corker said. “I don’t know if that’s what’s driving the leadership in this particular direction.”

Boehner said in a statement Wednesday that Netanyahu “is a great friend of our country, and this invitation carries with it our unwavering commitment to the security and well-being of his people.”

“In this time of challenge, I am asking the Prime Minister to address Congress on the grave threats radical Islam and Iran pose to our security and way of life,” Boehner continued. “Americans and Israelis have always stood together in shared cause and common ideals, and now we must rise to the moment again.”

Netanyahu’s address is scheduled for Feb. 11. He previously addressed Congress in 1996 and 2011.

“With respect to the prime minister and his visit here, look, we welcome the prime minister of Israel to come and speak in America anytime,” Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday. “And obviously, it’s a little unusual to learn of an invitation from the speaker’s office. That said, everybody knows that the subject of Iran is much on people’s minds. We have no difference in our goal with respect to our position.”

“We may have – we do have some difference in tactics of how you achieve that goal,” Kerry added. “But we are determined that Iran will not get a nuclear weapon, and the key to our negotiations is to make certain that whatever is agreed upon will show people with clarity that that is, in fact, the case that the path to a nuclear weapon is not achievable and/or has been given up or both together, and that it can be verified. And that is obviously critical.”

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told CNN that she “will let others be the judge of what’s appropriate or not” in the Netanyahu invitation. “It’s certainly unusual.”

“Obviously, we have a close relationship with Israel. We heard, as you know and have reported on from Speaker Boehner, not from Israel, about plans for the prime minister to come here. He has come before, many times before. Many prime ministers have come before,” Psaki said. “So it was a little — it was a bit of an episode of the bizarre today seeing all of this unfold.”

Psaki was asked if Kerry was “irritated” by Boehner’s move.

“Well, he doesn’t get irritated that easily, as you know. You know him pretty well,” Psaki replied. “I think he’s focused on lots of issues we work with Israel on, whether it’s security or the tensions on the ground. He is keeping his eyes on those balls. He is not particularly worried about the protocol of when someone is told they are coming to speak here. He thought it was a little unusual, too.”

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Specific Terror Threat? ISIS Supporter Threatens ‘Caesium 131′ Attacks in ‘Boston, Dallas, Virginia’

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015 - by David Steinberg

Earlier today, MEMRI.org (subscription required, posted with permission) published an article exposing a further example of ISIS exploiting social media to strengthen its global reach. This incident is an example of ISIS using online media both to post threats and to recruit jihadists worldwide.

The ISIS supporter makes specific threats regarding targets in the West, even mentioning the use of “Caesium 131 poison.”

He also reaches out with support and advice to the misleadingly titled “lone wolf” jihadists living in the West. In reality, these jihadists have proven to generally have documented ties to the global jihad movement and to be already known to Western law enforcement. Note that the ISIS supporter actually uses the term “lone wolves,” a term not dreamed up by any jihadist movement, but by Western governments downplaying the reach of global jihad and the extent of the infiltration within their own countries. In the first two paragraphs of his essay, the ISIS supporter specifically challenges the accuracy of the term. 

Writes MEMRI:

On January 10, 2015,  ISIS supporter “Hamel Al-Bushra” (Bearer of Tidings”) posted on his Twitter page[i] an article titled “Lone Wolves,” in which he threatened a wave of lone wolf terror attacks in Western cities.

Attacking the members of the rival organization, Al-Qaeda, he says that they do nothing except write in the magazine Inspire from time to time – whereas ISIS has continued fighting the “internal enemies” within the Arab world, thus compelling the “far enemy”  – America and its allies – to intervene and become entangled in a difficult war.

This is an interesting point — ISIS grew from the former al-Qaeda in Iraq, yet is now attempting to poach al-Qaeda members with boasts of being the bloodier organization.

He then notes that two major turning points reawakened the lone wolves to action in their countries: the call by ISIS spokesman Al-’Adnani to commit terror attacks in the Western countries, and the declaration of the Islamic Caliphate. Following these milestones, lone wolves in Western countries began feeling that were no different than the fighters in Falluja or Kobane, and set out to attack the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa, Sydney, Belgium, France and many additional places. He notes further that Muslims are subjected to bombings and degradation in their countries, and that lone wolves  balance the equation by retaliating against the West.

The writer warns the people of Europe, Russia and the U.S. that the lone wolves will soon strike them in their cities with bombs, knives, car bombs and even by spreading hazardous radioactive caesium 131 in the streets and train stations. He also advises lone wolves on field security, telling them, for example, not to use the telephone before and after an operation, to cover their faces during an operation, to prepare escape routes, etc.

Below is a screen shot of the Twitter account followed by an English translation of the essay posted by the ISIS supporter. Both are from MEMRI:

image001

 

The following is an English translation of the article that was released by the pro-ISIS media company Al-Khilafa Media Foundation.[ii]

Lone wolves or City lions

The doings of our heroic Mujahedeen in the East and West countries of attacking the Infidels’ heads and those who support them is lone terrorism in the eyes of the west, but in reality those are the wolves of City who repelled against the heads of infidels and their soldiers. In the eyes of Mujahedeen, those are what the holy book of Quran told us: “So fight, [O Muhammad], in the cause of Allah; you are not held responsible except for yourself…” [Surat An-Nisā'- 84]

The lone wolves believe that what they are doing is a great worship that they do to be nearer to Allah; killing the heads of infidels, their soldiers, allies, and those who disbelieve in Allah, whether they are civilians or military workers fro they are the same, they are doing such following the footsteps of their ancestors, and when they remember:

Mohamed bin Maslama and what he did with the enemy of Allah Ka’ab bin Ashraf, they get out to the streets of Madrid, Sydney or Texas, carrying their knives and edged weapons stabbing their stomachs, beheading their heads, and by doing so they are following the footsteps of Mohamed bin Maslama, in which his actions was pleased by the prophet, and the prophet was happy with his action, and actually the prophet himself is the one who sent him to do this operation!

And when they remember Abdullah bin Unais, the city wolf gets out depending on Allah, taking his pistol, and he enters a Police station, or a Government office or a Church and by doing so he avenged for Allah and His prophet peace be upon him. The lone wolf remembers the prophet’s companions and the salaf who followed them like Fairus Aldaylami who cut the head of Al-Aswad Al-`Ansi, he -the city wolf- remembers them and he gets out to New Jersey or New Mexico and takes out the lives of the enemy’s soldiers and commanders on their streets and public squares.

On this way the lone wolves follow their example before: Mohammed Bin Maslama, Abdullah bin Unais & Fairus bin Dulaymi in chopping off the heads, stabbing the stomachs and shattering the skulls of infidels. So to give them the taste of their own medicine, make them feel what life is like, living in Fallujah in Iraq, or Kobane in Syria, what it’s like to experience the day and night bombs dropping from sky, the missiles hitting our mosques, homes, killing our children, killing them in the streets of Norway, Florida, Montreal, Finland, Lisbon, Luxemburg, & Canberra will terrorize them, and it will make them feel our wrath.

Let the equation be balanced, let the words of the Shaheed and the Imam Osama bin Laden be like it be: “I swear to Allah that America will not dream, neither those who live in it to have peace until we have in Palestine, and until crusaders leave and empty the peninsular of our prophet Mohamed peace be upon him”

Quick Review back

The Strategy of the Sheikh was to fight the infidels, and he did it with all he could, 11 September was a good example, before that there was USS COL, followed by the operation of our brother Omar Al-Naijeyri, Sheikh Osama every time explained his actions in every operation with a recorded message.

What Changed After Sheikh Osama

What changed is that, there were no actions, words replaced them, sadly so but this was the reality, accompanied by avoiding fighting against the internal enemy as a “strategy”! So we did not see this or that, except the “Inspire Magazine” which we recommend, Thanks to Sheikh Anwar Al-Awlaki –May Allah Accept him- who took part in creating the magazine.

Islamic State -on the other hand- have one strategy that is: fight the nearest, and it forced the far Americans and their followers to enter in a bankrupting fight. The Islamic State succeeded to hurt the near enemy and forced America to enter and fight, also Islamic State has established Dabiq Magazine, and Al-Hayat Media Center, intended to address the west, and it did not add anything to an audio speech by the official spokesman Abu Mohammad Al-Adnani titled:

“Indeed Your Lord Is Ever Watchful”

Urges the Muslims to fight the criminals, the head of Kuffar, and the warlords who begin to fight the Islamic State.

The announcement of the Khilafah was the key to good, and the outlet for those lone wolves after Osama died, and the Qaida of Al-Zawahiri became the head, not the Qaida of Osama Bin Laden.

The head of the snake(United States) was still the enemy, the rest (the tail of the snake) was left roaming around, till new heads were born! And the tail was the one who singled in killing, imprisoning and fleeing Muslims, and when it was hit by the brothers in Iraq -for example “Irbil” they (Al-Dhawahiri’s Qaida) said: no! It was better to hit the head! And by this way, the head and the tail were all left! Al-Qaidah deceived (with false illusions) its followers, supporters, and soldiers in hitting the head of the snake, but no one answered, this was for a number of years, still no one answers!

After the speech of Al-Adnani, we saw the effective result, the Lone Wolves again were at it, they took the responsibility to hurt the Kuffar where it would hurt mostly, they carried out attacks on the streets of New York, hitting police stations, then in Ottawa where the Parliament guard was targeted, the effect of Al-Adnani Speech was felt in several Western countries in France, Belgium, Australia, United Arab Emirates, The Two Holy Mosques Country, France and we for sure still will see again blessed operations. Sheikh Al-Adnani -may Allah keep him firm- said:

Especially France”

Those who observed the reasons of the Lone Wolves operations will realize that the reasons are the oppression of these countries, in their own countries or in Muslim Countries, These Operations were carried out because they banned the veil, they fought every small right that Muslims have to worship, they fought the Mosques, they forced people to follow the democracy in the Muslim countries, which is a great Shirk (polytheism) unknown by many of our Muslim sons, and made it a god besides Allah, and they intervened and fought against the Muslims who intended to apply Sharia and the law of Allah in their Land, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia & the Levant recently are good examples and now we see the coalition of almost 60 Countries against the Khilafah!

So after all these, how come that you want the lone wolves to stop and not act, how do you want our lions in Europe, Australia, America, Canada, Russia, how do you want them to watch their Muslim brothers get killed, how do you want them to stop, How?

“To the People whom their countries participate in the coalition against the Islamic State”

Can you live in Raqqa , or Kobane, or Falujjah, or Jurf Al Sakhr, or Belad, or Mukeishifah, or Ishaqi, Or Tarmiya, Or Ghouta? Your Answer is: No, for sure. Why you can’t live in those cities? No worries, I will answer, because the coalition’s fighter jets, bomb and destroy everything, they carry out this barbarism act with the help of their proxies, the children of Ibn Al-Alqami, the bastards! (Shi’i government)!

So our Lions, Our brothers in Islam, those who did the operations of Charlie Hebdo, the operation of Ottawa Parliament, the Sidney Café, Our Lone Wolves wanted to give you a taste of your own medicine, they wanted you to try and experience somehow what’s happening in Fallujah or Raqqa, a places where you can’t live, but we live in there with the help and the guidance of Allah “Glorified and Exalted be He”.

And you are getting killed because of your Denial and not Believing in Allah First and then because of your fighting against us and your tyranny towards us.

In the Lord’s eye this is justice, this is balance, and he is with us, and he will help us defeat you, Don’t you see, we are small in number, but we are growing day by day, and we are destroying the defense and the forts of your proxies, those you chose to represent you.

Allah said in His Holy Quran: “Whoever has assaulted you, then assault him in the same way that he has assaulted you” So do you feel the same way we do, O’ the people of Europe, America, Australia, Canada & Russia?

I don’t think so, you descendants of Monkeys & Pigs!

I don’t Think so, you worshipers of the cross!

I don’t think so, you atheists!

I don’t think so, You Majus!

No, No!! So I say to you, wait for more of our Lone wolves, the lions of the city, to make you understand justice, and to make you feel the same way we do, to wake you up from your sleep, and the agonies of your desires!

Yes you will feel the same way as we do, when you hear the bombs going off in the streets of San Francisco & Belgium!

Yes you will feel it, when the silencers will be used to shut you up forever in the streets of Madrid, London & Sydney!

Yes, you will feel it, when you wake up to have your breakfast and you hear the effect of the explosives in the city, and when you go to your work there await you the descendants of Al-Zarqawi to behead you with their knives, when the silencers of Abu Umar Al-Baghdadi await you on the streets and roads. Yes, you will feel it when the Caesium 131 Poison spreads in the streets and the train stations of Russia, Boston, Dallas, Virginia, & Amsterdam.

I promise you all that I said before, it will happen, no matter of what you do to be care full , it will happen, as long as you still occupy our countries and bomb us and kill our children and women! Yes, I promise you, so wake up and watch out, be care full, watch out when you go to work, watch out when you enter your work premise, hire security guards, anyway they won’t matter, because our target is you, not them, we will target you, in Short leave your work and watch out, from now on you are a target to us, wherever you are!

I believe whatever operations that happened and you watched it and heard it, it’s all the beginning, beginning for declaring your countries and cities to be a part of the Islamic State, to be part of the great Islamic Caliphate. And don’t you be surprised by that, I am not exaggerating, Allah Knows. God is with us, and he will support us and help us, and Allah is Owner of the Kingdom. He gives the kingdom (governance) to whom he will.

Allah said in His Holy Koran: “Allah has promised those who have believed among you and done righteous deeds that He will surely grant them succession [to authority] upon the earth just as He granted it to those before them and that He will surely establish for them [therein] their religion which He has preferred for them and that He will surely substitute for them, after their fear, security, [for] they worship Me, not associating anything with Me. But whoever disbelieves after that – then those are the defiantly disobedient”

Thawban (RA) reported that Allah’s Messenger (SAAW) said: “Allah drew the ends of the world near one another for my sake. And I have seen its eastern and western ends. And the dominion of my Ummah would reach those ends which have been drawn near me …” (Sahih Muslim, Kitab Al-Fitan wa Ashrat As-Sa`ah, Hadith 5144)

And this is advice to the City Wolves:

Take what suits you and benefit you and we hopefully would not be denied the rewards of your good deeds: After you do your operation, stay away from your known locations, your familiar area. Don’t Use phone calls before and after your operation, and don’t depend on official paper works. You must cover your face, and you must not leave any thumb prints as your brothers of operation Charlie Hebdo did. You must have a plan for you withdrawal after the operation is done, a clear and effective plan, so they won’t be able to trace you easily. Hurry up and move to another state immediately after your operation. Make sure you have your belt ready, don’t you ever allow them to catch you alive so they will torture you, become Shaheed and kill couple of them at the same time. Avoid large numbers in your operations, it will make hard for you to withdraw afterwards.

We gladly and happily inform the Islamic Ummah of the martydom of brothers:

Said Kuachi

Chérif Kuachi

Amedy coulibaly

May Allah accept them.

 

“And Allah is predominant over His affair, but most of the people do not know” And accept my words O’ Lions of the City, for you are the one who resides in his heart:

Your lover brother: Hamil al-Bushra (Glad Tidings Carrier)

Your brothers in: The Media Front for the Support of the Islamic State Al-Khilafah Media Foundation


[i] Twitter.com/shoon3370, January 10, 2015.

[ii] Twitter.com/khelafa_media1, January 20, 2015.

 

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BREAKING: Top Tammany Democrat Silver Arrested — Is Andrew Cuomo Next? UPDATED

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015 - by Michael Walsh
Busted

Busted

Sheldon Silver is finally getting what’s long been coming to him:

Sheldon Silver, the longtime speaker of the New York state Assembly, was arrested Thursday morning on corruption charges. Silver showed up at 26 Federal Plaza in downtown Manhattan at 8 a.m. where he was arrested by FBI agents. He’s set to make his initial appearance before a federal judge Thursday afternoon. Silver’s spokesman, Michael Whyland, declined comment before the arrest.

US Attorney Preet Bharara scheduled a press conference at 1 p.m. to detial the charges.The powerful Manhattan Democrat Silver has been the target of an on-going federal probe of undocumented payments he received from a law firm, sources said…

Silver, who has served as speaker for more than 20 years, was ensnared in an investigation sparked by Gov. Cuomo’s abrupt shut down of an anti-corruption commission he had created in 2013.

The specific details of the charges were not clear, but sources said that they were related to money Silver received from a small real-estate tax law firm. The firm, Goldberg & Iryami PC, made the payments over about a decade, but Silver failed to list the income on his financial-disclosure forms, sources told The Post.

Silver’s outside income has always been questioned by his critics. Last year, Silver reported income of $750,000 for legal he performed for the trial firm Weitz & Luxenberg.

Here’s how the New York Times is playing it:

The powerful speaker of the New York State Assembly, Sheldon Silver, was arrested on federal corruption charges on Thursday and accused of using the power of his office to solicit millions in bribes and kickbacks, according to court documents. The arrest of Mr. Silver, a Democrat from the Lower East Side of Manhattan who has served as speaker for more than two decades, sent shock waves through the political establishment and upending the new legislative session.

Mr. Silver surrendered to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents early Thursday morning in Lower Manhattan, law enforcement officials said. Mr. Silver, before entering 26 Federal Plaza, said, “I hope I’ll be vindicated.”

In a five-count criminal complaint outlining the charges, Mr. Silver is accused of “using the power and influence of his official position to obtain for himself millions of dollars of bribes and kickbacks masked as legitimate income.” He is charged with mail fraud, wire fraud and extortion.

The Daily News has this to add:

A stunning five-count indictment accused the Manhattan Democrat, a state political fixture for decades, with pocketing more than $6 million in bribes and kickbacks in return for wielding his massive influence. Silver stands accused of pressuring real estate companies doing business with the state to hire two law firms that were regularly paying him bribes, the 35-page indictment charged.

More than half of the $6 million came after Silver steered $500,000 in state funds to a doctor who in turn referred asbestos cases to Weitz & Luxenberg, a personal injury firm affiliated with Silver for decades.

The state money was provided to the doctor for a research project and unspecified “additional benefits” to the doctor’s family, the indictment charges. Silver collected more than $3.2 million in referral fees from the law firm after directing more than 100 clients to Weitz & Luxenberg for asbestos litigation, the indictment charged.

New York state is essentially an organized crime racket, one that for many years was stable in its distribution of the swag. The upstate-controlled Senate was in the hands of the GOP under Joe Bruno, while the assembly lay under the thumb of the weaselly Silver. But somebody broke the peace back in 2008, when Bruno abruptly resigned his leadership positions and announced he wouldn’t be running again; in January 2009 he was indicted on eight corruption counts, and later convicted of two of them. The convictions were overturned on appeal and Bruno was subsequently found not guilty at a retrial last year. He’s been itching for payback ever since. This is it.

As for Cuomo, whose ham-fisted shutdown of the Moreland Commission opened this particular can of worms, it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. After all, it’s not like he wasn’t warned:

In an escalation of the confrontation between the United States attorney in Manhattan, Preet Bharara, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo over the governor’s cancellation of his own anticorruption commission, Mr. Bharara has threatened to investigate the Cuomo administration for possible obstruction of justice or witness tampering.

The warning, in a sharply worded letter from Mr. Bharara’s office, came after several members of the panel issued public statements defending the governor’s handling of the panel, known as the Moreland Commission, which Mr. Cuomo created last year with promises of cleaning up corruption in state politics but shut down abruptly in March. Mr. Bharara’s office has been investigating the shutdown of the commission, and pursuing its unfinished corruption cases, since April.

And it’s not like the Cuomo family doesn’t have something to hide, either.

UPDATE: And the hits just keep on coming in the one-party city/state of Cuomo and Warren Wilhelm, Jr.:

New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and one of her former political consultants are subjects of a city ethics probe, Crain’s has learned. The noncriminal investigation, which is being conducted by the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board, centers around Ms. Mark-Viverito’s acceptance of free assistance during her 2013 race for council speaker, according to two sources with knowledge of the matter.

The speaker recently paid $20,000 in campaign cash to a law firm to represent her in the investigation. In November 2014 and again this month, Ms. Mark-Viverito’s campaign fund made $10,000 payments to Ballard Spahr Stillman & Friedman. The Conflicts of Interest Board has been deposing figures in the investigation.

In the midst of the competition to succeed Christine Quinn as speaker, the Daily News reported that Ms. Mark-Viverito’s acceptance of pro bono help from the Advance Group—a prominent Manhattan lobbying and campaign consulting shop—could run afoul of a city ethics regulation. Good-government group Citizens Union called for the Conflicts of Interest Board to investigate.

A “good-government” group in solid-blue New York State? Ha ha ha ha ha!

 

 

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Kerry: ‘We’re Flushing Out’ Sleeper Cells of ‘Very Nihilistic, Unbelievably Oppressive’ People

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

Secretary of State John Kerry said in London today that people shouldn’t be “dismayed” by ISIS cells in their neighborhoods but “they should be encouraged” that governments are “flushing them out.”

Kerry met with UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and counterparts from other coalition nations for an anti-ISIS coalition “steering group” meeting.

“But as we have put this together now in a matter of a few months, we have gone from zero at the end of September to now, in January, in our fourth month, having stopped ISIL’s advance in Iraq, having negated their resources, their capacity to move foreign fighters, to a significant degree, and changed their operations as a result of what we’ve been able to do,” Kerry said. “We still have a lot of work to do, and the purpose of coming here is to bring everybody’s best advice, everybody’s thoughts about where there may be weaknesses, everybody’s thoughts about things we can do better, put that together, improve our own performance and operation, and lay down the strategy for the days ahead.”

However, Hammond noted separately that it could take two years to get the Iraq army up to snuff to be able to push back ISIS. And Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu stressed to British media that they can’t stop the flow of foreign fighters into Syria.

On the home front, Kerry said, “Police forces, law enforcement community, intelligence community of many countries have come together in an incredibly effective way to fight against an insidious, long-time planning process that has been in place.”

“And in a sense, we’re flushing them out. These sleeper cells have been there for years now. Many of these plans have been in place for a long period of time, long preceding what we’ve been doing with respect to ISIS. But the truth is that these groups are planning and have been planning for a long period of time, going back to Osama bin Laden and 9/11 in New York, to attack Western interests and to go after anybody that they disagree with. Their goal is to suppress and to take over and to expand a very nihilistic, unbelievably oppressive sense of how people ought to live.”

Hammond added that “we always said this would take time,” but Iraqi forces “will be capable and ready at some point to push back against ISIL.”

“And in the meantime, we have to continue the work to undermine ISIL’s message in our own countries and to protect our own homelands with security measures both here and across the continent, in collaboration with our partners,” the UK secretary said.

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Must-See Video: Ezra Levant Proves There ARE ‘No-Go’ Zones in Europe

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015 - by Kathy Shaidle

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Mystery Goo Killing California Birds

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015 - by The Tatler

CBS is reporting that an unidentified substance is killing hundreds of birds along the eastern shore of the San Francisco Bay.  Scientists have ruled out fish and vegetable oil or petroleum as the culprit, but the mystery goo has yet to be identified.

Birds Mystery Coating

“This is a true mystery. It has the consistency of rubber cement,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife Information Officer Andrew Hughan said.

The goo sticks to birds feathers preventing the birds from staying warm and causing hypothermia. More than 200 birds have been found dead and more than 300 are being treated at the International Bird Rescue.

Susan Kaveggia, Susan McCarthy

A spokesman for the International Bird Rescue is also at a loss. “We have helped to manage oil spill events and other emergency events around the world, but this is a very difficult product,” she said.

Usually, the treatment for cleaning up birds after oil spills is Dawn dishwashing detergent, but that method isn’t working on the goo.

“We’re having to soften it, if you will, with first baking soda, into the feathers and then taking that off with some household vinegar,” the spokesman said.

The EPA has joined in the quest to determine what the mystery goo is but to no avail.

The International Bird Rescue is spending about $8,000 a day to nurse the birds back to health.

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Like Switzerland? Forget It — You Can’t Afford to Live There

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

The most expensive countries on earth? The ever-useful (and not just for its up-to-the-minute pictures of celebrity bikini bodies) Daily Mail has the list:

A map showing the cost of living around the world shows how the U.S. is now less affordable for residents – but still cheaper than Britain and France. The global report reveals how Britain is the 10th most expensive country to live in with Australia tenth and America 24th.

Switzerland tops the list while Norway and Denmark appear in the top five for the third year in a row according to the results of a survey which took into account the cost of groceries, transportation, restaurants and utilities.

In a damning reflection of Venezuela’s domestic problems, the Latin American country has climbed from 12th place in 2013 to third place in 2015.

Iceland has also jumped significantly, up from 10th place in 2013 to fourth in 2015. The world report, carried out by Numbeo, was fashioned into an infographic by movehub – a resource for people moving abroad.

You can find the complete list here and the fascinating infographics here.

highest

 

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Bryant Gumbel: NRA Are ‘Pigs’, ‘Curse upon the American Landscape’

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015 - by Liz Sheld

Bryant Gumbel, who is now hosting a show on HBO called Real Sportsdished out some serious smack talk against the NRA in an interview with fabulist rag Rolling Stone.

Gumbel told the magazine the NRA are “pigs” who “don’t care about human life” when he was asked about a segment he featured on the “Eat What You Kill” movement.

Bryant Gumbel

“There are a few things I hate more than the NRA,” Gumbel said. “I mean truly. I think they’re pigs. I think they don’t care about human life. I think they are a curse upon the American landscape. So we got that on the record.”

The former Today show host promised that his anti-gun vitriol has no effect on his reporting.

“That said, I’m willing to separate that this story had nothing to do with that. It’s not a gun story,” he said of the “Eat What You Kill” segment. “So I would like to think that I would have done it, but I don’t know. Obviously, that was my first experience around killing and guns and hunting.”

Well, Bryant, it is a gun story. People use guns to hunt. Among other thing, the NRA protects the rights of hunters to pass their family heirloom firearms down to their offspring without whacked-out, ridiculous paperwork and administrative legal barriers.

The NRA has not commented on Gumbel’s remarks.

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Well, that Makes One, Anyway

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015 - by Michael Walsh
YouTube Preview Image

The young woman at the center of the Jeffrey Epstein sex scandal continues to insist she was forced into sexual slavery by the disgraced financier — but she did not have sexual relations with that man, Mr. Clinton:

Alleged underage ‘sex slave’ Virginia Roberts has denied ever having sex with Bill Clinton in explosive new court filings which lay bare a host of debauched details about her alleged relationship with Prince Andrew and his friend Jeffrey Epstein. In papers filed on Wednesday in Florida federal court, Roberts – referred to as Jane Doe No. 3 – gives sordid details about an alleged 11-person orgy with Prince Andrew in 2001 but denies ever having relations with the former president.

Roberts, now 31, claims she worked for Epstein between 1999 and 2002 after she was recruited by his former girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell when she was just 15 years old.

During the period that Roberts worked for Epstein he was good friends with Clinton, but she denies sleeping with him despite rumors to the contrary. ’I have seen reports saying or implying that I had sex with former President Bill Clinton on Little St James Island,’ she writes in the filing. The island, part of the the U.S. Virgin Islands, is owned by Epstein.

‘Clinton was present on the island at a time when I was also present on the island, but I have never had sexual relations with Clinton, nor have I ever claimed to have had such relations. I have never seen him have sexual relations with anyone,’ Roberts wrote.

Roberts, however, is sticking by her story that she very much did have sex with the scion of the “British” royal house of Saxe-Coburg und Gotha, the hapless Prince Andrew. She’s also thrown in a dollop of lesbianism into her allegations as well:

According to Roberts, Epstein and Maxwell ‘trained me to do what they wanted, including sexual activities and the use of sexual toys. The training was in New York and Florida, at Epstein’s mansions. ’It was basically every day and was like going to school. I also had to have sex with Epstein many times. I was trained to be “everything a man wanted”,’ she said.

Maxwell, the daughter of late newspaper magnate Robert Maxwell, was ‘heavily involved’ in recruiting young girls for Epstein – and herself, Roberts claimed. ’Maxwell was all about sex all the time. She had sex with underage girls virtually every day when I was around her, and she was very forceful,’ Roberts said.

‘I first had sexual activities with her when I was approximately 15 at the Palm Beach mansion. I had many sexual activities with her over the next several years in Epstein’s various residences plus other exotic locations,’ she said.

‘I also observed Maxwell have sex with dozens of underage girls,’ Roberts said. ‘Many times she made me sleep with other girls, some of whom were very young, for purposes of taking sexual pictures.’  Prince Andrew – who fiercely denies ‘any form of sexual contact or relationship’ with Miss Roberts – is under growing pressure to testify on oath about his alleged contact with her.

Meanwhile, the Prince has been served, but Das Haus Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha is stonewalling a request by Roberts’ lawyers to testify:

Her lawyers had served an extraordinary letter on the Duke last week requesting he answer questions – but he ‘refused’ to accept it. Last week, Miss Roberts’ lawyers sent by FedEx couriers an unprecedented letter addressed to ‘His Royal Highness The Duke of York’ at Buckingham Palace requesting his ‘voluntary cooperation in answering question about his sexual interactions’ with her.

The letter offered to interview the prince under oath ‘at a time and place of your choosing’. But her lawyers stated: ‘Federal Express has informed us that the letter has been refused by the recipient.’

Pass the popcorn.

 

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Meth-Filled Drone Crashes into Mexican Parking Lot

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015 - by The Tatler

Police in a Mexican border town are reporting that a methamphetamine-filled drone has crashed into a supermarket parking lot.

Mexico MethaDrone

A spokesman for the Tijuana police, Jorge Morrua, said they police were alerted when a drone fell on Tuesday night near the San Ysidro border crossing.

Six packets of the drug, weighing more than six pounds, were taped to the six-propeller remote-controlled aircraft. Morrua said authorities are investigating where the flight originated and who was controlling it. He said it was not the first time they had seen drones used for smuggling drugs across the border.

Other innovative methods of transporting drugs across the border include tunnels and catapults.

 

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You Won’t Believe What This NYC Teacher Told a Group of Senators About Common Core Testing

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

On Wednesday Jia Lee, a teacher at The Earth School in New York City, testified at a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee about reforming the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. Lee, a fifth grade special education teacher, told the committee, chaired by Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), that over 50% of the parents at The Earth School refused to allow their children to take the Common Core aligned English/Language Arts and Math tests and said her school was not alone.

“Last year,” Lee told the senators,  ”I decided that I am obligated and accountable to my students and families, and that is why, as a conscientious objector, I will not administer tests that reduce my students to a single metric and will continue to take this position until the role of standardized assessments are put in their proper place.”

“We just celebrated the life of Martin Luther King Jr.” Lee continued.  ”In his Letter From a Birmingham Jail, King affirms that ‘one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.’ He quotes St. Augustine who said ‘an unjust law is no law at all.’ So long as education policy continues to be shaped by the interests of corporate profiteering and not the interests of our public school children, we will resist these unjust testing laws.”

She said that parents who complain about high-stakes testing have been accused of “coddling.” She challenged that assumption, saying that the focus on testing has taken time and resources away from the arts, social studies, and physical education.

Instead of focusing on testing, Lee said, classrooms should emphasize “the importance of fostering learning environments that value a culture of trust, diversity, and teacher autonomy.”

Lee joins other teachers in New York City who object to “market-based education reform” and are refusing to administer high stakes tests as an “act of conscience.” There is also a growing opt-out movement throughout the country that encourages parents to refuse to allow their children to take Common Core and other high stakes tests. Parents and teachers object to the testing for a wide variety of reasons. Nearly everyone thinks too much classroom time is devoted to testing and test preparation. And while parents are concerned about data collection related to the tests and the testing anxiety their children experience, teachers often object to having the tests tied to their performance evaluations as well as the corporate influence in test development and in the adoption of the Common Core standards.

You can read Lee’s written testimony here.

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These Are the Top 5 Foreign Policy Issues Obama Never Bothered to Mention in the SOTU

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015 - by Rick Moran

The president of the United States gave a 6,000-word State of the Union address to the American people and, despite the fact the planet is blowing up with crises, conflicts, and misery, he might have devoted 600 words of it to foreign policy.

Of course, that may be because he has failed to deal with these problems adequately. Or even competently. Since SOTU is a speech for the president to toot his own horn, it’s hard to blow when his foreign policies blow.

With a dearth of foreign policy statements, there were several serious issues the president didn’t even bother to mention.

Here are a few, suggested by Josh Rogin writing in Bloomberg:

Yemen

Mideast Yemen

Yemen is the crisis du jour and it’s not surprising the president sorta forgot to mention it. Just a few months ago, Obama held Yemen up as an example of success of his counterterrorism policy. “This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years,” Obama said on September 10.

Today, Houthi tribesmen allied with Iran have taken over the capital city Saana, overrun the presidential residence, and are demanding virtual control of the government. Authority of the government is collapsing and things are so bad, the U.S. Navy has moved a couple of ships offshore to evacuate State Department personnel if it becomes necessary.

Failing to mention a failing state is perfectly understandable.

Boko Haram

France Boko Haram

One of the most horrific terrorist attacks since 9/11 occurred in Baga, Nigeria, on January 3-5 when the terrorist group Boko Haram massacred 2,000 innocents in a bloodletting that was shocking even for them.

Boko Haram also recently attacked Cameroon, where they kidnapped nearly 100 civilians and murdered dozens more. They boast of the caliphate they are forming and vow to attack the west.

“What? Me worry?” (Alfred E. Neuman)

0000

Arab Spring

0000000.0

There was no mention of the “Arab Spring” in the State of the Union message because it doesn’t exist anymore. One might question whether it existed at all except in the minds of addle-headed western liberals who thought a leopard could change its spots, a tiger could change its stripes, and Arab Muslims could change their minds about democracy.

Why should Obama remind us that he backed the wrong horse in Egypt, Libya, Syria, and a host of other Arab countries? Arab Spring — out of sight, out of mind.

Libya

Mideast Libya

“Responsibility to protect” was the ostensible reason we went into Libya to help overthrow Muammar Gaddafi. He was killing civilians — something that shocked, shocked, I say, the preening moralists in the State Department led by Samantha Power. Now a bloody civil war is occurring that’s as confusing as it is tragic. No one’s in charge and the country is collapsing like a house of cards. Do we care who wins? If we could identify who’s fighting, that might be a start. But a myriad of warlords, militias, and jihadists fight among the ruins.

There are 200,000 dead in Syria at the hands of President Bashar Assad, so I guess “responsibility to protect” was thrown under the bus long ago.

Al-Qaeda

0000000.0

Is this the first State of the Union address since…forever there was no mention of the granddaddy of all terrorist groups? But of course, al-Qaeda is smashed, its leadership is vernichten, its networks are destroyed.

Except AQ in the Arabian Peninsula just took credit for the terrorist attacks in Paris, AQ in the Maghreb is giving France and Algeria all they can handle, and ISIS, an offshoot of the old al-Zarqawi AQ group in Iraq, holds territory the size of Belgium and continues to expand despite the president saying last night:

In Iraq and Syria, American leadership — including our military power — is stopping ISIL’s advance. Instead of getting dragged into another ground war in the Middle East, we are leading a broad coalition, including Arab nations, to degrade and ultimately destroy this terrorist group.

“Degrade” and “destroy” may be pushing the point. Hell, it’s busting the envelope. There was every reason for the president to avoid mentioning al-Qaeda when its franchises around the world are thriving.

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This Short Speech from Lamar Alexander Will Show You How Broken Washington Really Is

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) gave the opening remarks during today’s Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee meeting, calling for bipartisan reform of No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

Alexander said that reform of NCLB, which was signed into law by President Bush in 2002, “is more than seven years overdue.”

“We’ve been working on it for more than 6 years,” Alexander said. “When we started, former Rep. George Miller [an original sponsor of NCLB] said, ‘Pass a lean bill to fix No Child Left Behind,’ and we identified a small number of problems.” Since then, Alexander said, “We’ve had 24 hearings, and in each of the last two Congresses we’ve reported bills out of committee.”

Six years! Congress has been unable — in six years — to reform a bad law that took a mere 350 days (or if you prefer, 8400 hours) to pass. No Child Left Behind was initially proposed by President George W. Bush on January 23, 2001, and coauthored by Representatives John Boehner (R-OH), George Miller (D-CA), and Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Judd Gregg (R-NH). The House passed the bill on May 23, 2001, and by June 14, 2001, it had won Senate approval. President Bush signed it into law on January 8, 2002.

Thirteen years later, Congress is still trying to repair the damage from the law that amounted to the largest federal intrusion into state education decisions in U.S. history. The problem is that lawmakers are trying to “fix” something that shouldn’t exist in the first place.

Alexander said in his opening remarks, “I understand that there can be short-term gains from Washington’s orders– but my experience is that long-term success can’t come that way. In fact, today Washington’s involvement, in effect mandating Common Core and teacher evaluation, is creating a backlash, making it harder for states to set higher standards and evaluate teaching.”

True enough, but Sen. Alexander’s proposed solutions will do little more than tinker around the edges of the massive federal law. The options he is proposing will either “give flexibility to the states to decide what to do on testing” or “maintain current law testing requirements.” Both options would continue to require annual reporting of student achievement to the federal government, continuing the carrot and stick approach to the federal government’s education funding scheme for the states.

Perhaps in another six years someone will suggest returning public education completely to its proper place — back to state and local control.

But perhaps that is wishful thinking, seeing how broken (and tone deaf) Washington is and how incapable and unwilling our lawmakers are of repealing an overbearing federal law once it becomes embedded in the government behemoth.

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The Revenge of Sarah Palin

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015 - by Michael Walsh
June 2012: the bad old days

June 2012: the bad old days

Remember her chant, “Drill, baby, drill”? Well, how about that:

Back when gas topped $4 a gallon, Republicans chanted “drill, baby, drill” at rallies across the country — arguing more domestic drilling would increase supplies, reduce dependence on foreign oil and boost the U.S. economy. Democrats, almost universally, mocked the GOP plan. In 2012, President Obama called it “a slogan, a gimmick, and a bumper sticker … not a strategy.”

“They were waving their three-point plans for $2-a-gallon gas,” Obama told a laughing audience during an energy speech in Washington. “You remember that? Drill, baby, drill. We were going through all that. And none of it was really going to do anything to solve the problem.”

Today, Democrats are singing a different tune, as increased domestic drilling has led to a record supply of domestic crude, put some $100 billion into the pockets of U.S. consumers and sent world oil prices tumbling. The price of a gallon of regular gasoline on Monday was $2.13 nationwide, and below $2 in 18 states.

“Of course [Obama] was wrong. We’ve seen oil prices fall internationally now by half since last June,” said American Enterprise Institute economist Ben Zycher. “The U.S. is now the biggest oil and gas producer in the world, or almost that, and the effect has been to drive prices down as we’ve seen.”

Barack Obama: wrong about everything

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Jarrett: Obama ‘Concerned,’ But No Decision on Evacuating Embassy in Yemen

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

Even as senators such as Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Angus King (I-Maine) advocated evacuating the U.S. Embassy in Sana’a, Yemen, White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett said they’re not moving in that direction yet.

With the presidential palace overrun, President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi has agreed to give in to demands of Iran-backed Shiite Houthi rebels, Yemen’s news agency reported.

The Embassy issued a message to American citizens in the country on Tuesday: “The U.S. Embassy warns all U.S. citizens to avoid the areas around 50 and 60 Meter Road near the Presidential Palace, Presidential residence, and Haddah Area in Sana’s due to heavy fighting.  While the fighting appears to be politically motivated and an internal domestic dispute not directed against foreign interests, all U.S. citizens should be vigilant of the continued high risk of kidnapping and terrorist attacks throughout Yemen. U.S. citizens living in Yemen should take extra precautions and consider leaving the country.”

Jarrett told CNN today that they’re watching and waiting.

“Well, first of all, there is nothing more important to the president than the safety of American people. Secondly, the State Department is in very close contact with our embassy and folks on the ground, and the president is receiving regularly — regular updates from his national security team here at the White House. So, no decision has been made to announce yet,” she said. “The president is very concerned, but that’s his decision to make and he’ll make it in consultation with both folks on the ground and his national security team.”

Jarrett said they’re not evacuating yet because “having a presence there is very important.”

“That’s a very important region and the work that they’re doing, that is key to our agenda and so it’s — many of the people who serve, and it’s an important point to make in our embassies all across the world are at risk. We are very grateful to them for that service. These are oftentimes very dangerous jobs,” she continued. “And so, it’s a delicate balance, and the president, as I said, is personally monitoring the situation very closely and the State Department is in absolutely continuous contact with our folks on the ground.”

State Department press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters today that the safety of U.S. personnel ranks “very highly” in their deliberations of whether to stay or evacuate.

Psaki was asked how Iran can be trusted to negotiate or abide by a nuclear agreement when the Houthis have “concerning relations” with Iran.

“It’s never been about trust. As you know, the nuclear negotiations are about the nuclear issue. If we reach an agreement, it doesn’t mean the other issues are resolved,” Psaki replied. “As you know, there are a number of sanctions and restrictions on Iran related to other issues. But we have a fundamental belief that preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon is in the interest of the United States and the global community. That’s why we’re continuing to pursue it.”

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