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  • Dozens Killed in Ongoing Taliban Assault on Afghan Airport
    Posted December 9, 2015 at 8:23 am by Associated Press

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    KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) — A Taliban assault on an airport in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar that has been underway for nearly 24 hours has killed 37 people, the Defense Ministry said Wednesday.

    Civilians wait as Afghan security forces guard at the main gate of Kandahar civilian airport during a clash between Taliban fighters and Afghan forces, in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015. An Afghan official says the Taliban have launched an attack at the airport in the southern city of Kandahar, where clashes are still underway. (AP Photos/Allauddin Khan)

    Civilians wait as Afghan security forces guard at the main gate of Kandahar civilian airport during a clash between Taliban fighters and Afghan forces, in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015. An Afghan official says the Taliban have launched an attack at the airport in the southern city of Kandahar, where clashes are still underway. (AP Photos/Allauddin Khan)

    A ministry statement said another 35 people have been wounded in the assault, which began Tuesday. It said nine attackers have been killed and one wounded. It said one attacker was still battling security forces.

    Taliban spokesman Qari Yousaf Ahmadi said the insurgents were still attacking Afghan forces and had killed many soldiers and destroyed vehicles and helicopters. The claim could not be verified, and the Taliban often exaggerate battlefield victories.

    The Taliban have expanded their footprint across the country in recent months, and in September captured and held the northern city of Kunduz for three days. Afghan forces have struggled to roll back the insurgents since the U.S. and NATO formally concluded their combat mission at the end of last year.

  • Veteran Visibly Stunned on CNN as Author Claims Islamic Terrorists Are Becoming ‘More Like Americans’ — Then He Speaks Up
    Posted December 9, 2015 at 8:04 am by Jason Howerton

    Comments (163)

    Conservative commentator Kurt Schlichter, an Army veteran, was visibly stunned on the air Tuesday when author Arun Kundnani alleged that Islamic terrorists are “becoming more like Americans” and integrating into the “gun culture.”

    “Wow,” Schlichter first responded to Kundnani’s not-so-subtle gun control talking point.



    Donald Trump surrogate Scottie Hughes got the first chance to react to Kundnani’s assertion, arguing that less people would have died in the San Bernardino massacre if “every person in that room in California had a gun on their ankle.”

    Citing his his own military service, Schlichter said he trusts Muslims he has worked and served with, but “the truth is the truth.”

    “I don’t need to be lectured when I spent two deployments protecting Muslims, giving years of my life and risking it to protect Muslims. So don’t start telling me that I’m Islamophobic,” he added. “There is a cancer in the Muslim community, and the first responders have to be other Muslims.”

    Watch the segment via CNN below:

    (H/T: Mediaite)

  • ‘Happy Holidays!’: Atheists Unveil Santa-Themed Christmas Billboard — and Here’s Why Some Say It’s ‘Offensive’
    Posted December 9, 2015 at 7:30 am by Billy Hallowell

    Comments (396)

    It’s that time of year again. Atheist activists have unveiled a Santa-themed billboard that encourages people to “skip church,” hoping to drive home the notion that there’s no relation between church attendance and being a moral person.

    The billboards from American Atheists, a group based in Cranford, New Jersey, include an image of Santa and read, ”Go ahead and skip church! Just be good for goodness’ sake. Happy holidays!”

    “We want people to know that going to church has absolutely nothing to do with being a good person,” American Atheists’ president David Silverman said in a statement. “The things that are most important during the holiday season — spending time with loved ones, charity, and being merry — have nothing to do with religion.”

    American Atheists' 2015 billboard (American Atheists)

    American Atheists’ 2015 billboard (American Atheists)

    The billboard is a continuation of last year’s holiday message from the atheist group, which featured a little girl writing a faux letter to Santa. It read, “Dear Santa, All I want for Christmas is to skip church! I’m too old for fairy tales.”

    “Last year’s billboard showed a child writing a letter to Santa, telling him that all she wanted for Christmas was to skip church,” Silverman explained. “This year, Santa wrote back.”

    This year’s billboards are currently up in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and Colorado Springs, Colorado, and will remain on public display through December.

    Despite American Atheists’ claim that the billboards aren’t an attack on Christmas, some are a bit uneasy about the messaging.

    “I think it’s a little offensive,” Colorado resident Alexis Esselman told WSPA-TV. “When I first saw it I thought ‘what did they mean by that?’”

    Damara Metrick added, I think their intentions are good, but maybe they could have worded it differently.”

    As TheBlaze previously reported, American Atheists has taken its anti-Christmas message to New York City’s Times Square, among other locations, during past Christmas seasons. A 2013 billboard in Times Square asked, “Who needs Christ during Christmas?” then answered: “Nobody.”

    And American Atheists’ 2012 “Keep the Merry! Dump the Myth!” billboard featured an image of Santa with a photo of Jesus suffering on the cross. The “merry” corresponded to the traditional Christmas mascot, with “myth” presented beneath the Christian savior’s picture, clearly in reference to Jesus’ death.

    The 2011 campaign featured Jesus, Satan and Santa and the group’s 2010 message also called the Christmas story “a myth.”

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  • Syrian Rebels Line Up Islamic State Prisoners, Force Them to Knees, Then Make Unexpected Move
    Posted December 9, 2015 at 3:31 am by Oliver Darcy

    Comments (186)

    A Syrian rebel group released a slickly produced Islamic State-style execution video this week — except this one had a dramatic twist at the very end.

    The footage, titled “Muslims Are Not Criminals,” was published online by the Sham Front Monday, Vocative reported.

    The clip began showing the rebel group parade a group of purported Islamic State prisoners dressed in orange jumpsuits in front of the camera. Each member of the Sham Front picked up a firearm before forcing his prisoner to his knees.

    Image source: Screen grab

    Image source: Screen grab

    Members of the Syrian rebel group then pointed their firearms at the head of their prisoners before suddenly holstering them and removing their masks.

    A preacher then appeared on camera and denounced violence in Islam.

    Image source: Screen grab

    Image source: Screen grab

    Image source: Screen grab

    Image source: Screen grab

    “We are not sympathizers of killing, slaughtering and terror,” the preacher said, according to Vocativ. “Our religion is justice and Islam is the crown on top of our heads. Good deeds are our principle.”

    In the final scene, the prisoners were taken back to prison.

    The video mimicked graphic videos produced by the Islamic State that show prisoners forced to their knees before being executed.

    The footage was circulated on social media Monday and Tuesday as Muslims attempted to distance themselves from violent extremists.

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  • Trump Spokeswoman Stuns With Four-Word Rebuttal to S.E. Cupp on Proposal to Ban Muslims
    Posted December 9, 2015 at 1:44 am by Oliver Darcy

    Comments (438)

    “So what? They’re Muslim!”

    That was the four-word rebuttal Donald Trump national spokeswoman Katrina Pierson shot back at conservative pundit S.E. Cupp while defending the real estate mogul’s controversial proposal to ban Muslims from entering the U.S.

    Cupp appeared on CNN Tuesday and trashed Trump’s plan as “un-American” and “Unconstitutional.”

    “I don’t see a shred of what Donald Trump is suggesting that is conservative by nature,” Cupp said. “So I’m not really sure what his supporters are turned on here. He can’t deliver on half the promises he’s made, because they will either need Congress to go bananas and go crazy or to change the Constitution.”

    Pierson went after Cupp, claiming Trump’s proposal to ban an entire religious group from entering the county was “nothing new” — a remark that earned her a smirk from Cupp. Pierson then claimed those who didn’t support Trump’s plan were in favor of allowing “insurgents” inside the U.S.

    “No one is talking about insurgents!” Cupp quipped. “Who wants insurgents to come over?”

    “Yes, from Arab nations,” Pierson replied. “You know what? So what? They’re Muslim”

    That comment irked Cupp even more.

    “So what? That’s not the America we live in, Pierson!” she said.

    (H/T: Mediaite)

  • Analysts Fact Check PolitiFact’s Allegation That Ted Cruz Was ‘Mostly False’ on This Major Claim
    Posted December 8, 2015 at 11:39 pm by Tré Goins-Phillips

    Comments (251)

    TheBlaze TV’s Dan Andros and Jason Buttrill ripped into PolitiFact’s recent article claiming Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) is “mostly false” for saying the most violent criminals are Democrats.

    Cruz’s initial comments came during an interview with conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt, when he said, “Now listen, here’s the simple and undeniable fact. The overwhelming majority of violent criminals are Democrats. The media doesn’t report that.”

    The PolitiFact piece cites these reasons as to why Cruz’s bold claim is inaccurate: the study didn’t differentiate between violent and non-violent criminals, the sample only polled criminals from three states and the paper only studied “ex-felons” and not “criminals” — all of which Andros and Buttrill contested.

    TheBlaze radio host Stu Burguiere said, “First of all, [PolitiFact] admits that research cited by the Cruz campaign supports their claim, but then they rate it ‘mostly false.’”

    “They say Cruz didn’t separate those two — as if somehow if, when you take the numbers that proved him out to be right, that you take out the violent ones, or put in the violent ones, then — all of the sudden — it’s going to make up the difference,” Andros said of PolitiFact’s claim that Cruz’s campaign didn’t account for violent vs. non-violent criminals.

    Andros went on to reference PolitiFact’s numbers, claiming that by even considering both violent and non-violent criminals, the research still reveals a “similar pattern.” Of the three states sampled — New York, North Carolina and New Mexico — the numbers still favor Democrats.

    According to PolitiFact, In New York, 62 percent registered Democrat, 9 percent Republican and 26 percent Independent; in North Carolina 52 percent registered Democrat, 19 percent Republican and 22 percent Independent; and in New Mexico 55 percent registered Democrat, 10 percent Republican and 18 percent Independent.

    Buttrill followed up by referencing this Washington Post article, in which it says, “We do find that the majority of ex-felons in New Mexico, New York, and North Carolina register with the Democratic Party.”

    Of the claim that the research paper’s sample size was too small, Andros had this to say: “If you have a trend in three states, it’s generally going to continue.”

    Lastly, Burguiere asked Buttrill about what he described as the “dumbest point I’ve ever heard,” which is PolitiFact’s claim that the research is inaccurate because it only studied “ex-felons” and not “criminals.”

    “How ridiculous is that?” Buttrill said. “So, basically, what they’re saying is, … ‘Criminals, when you go to do the stick-up at the bank, make sure you declare your political affiliation while you’re in the act of doing it.’”

    “Of course you’re going to look at ex-felons,” Burguiere added. “You’re either going to get people who haven’t committed crimes yet or people in the middle of committing crimes — those are the other two options.”

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  • We Asked NY Daily News Columnist Shaun King a Simple Question — and Got a Very Bizarre Response Back
    Posted December 8, 2015 at 10:40 pm by Oliver Darcy

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    An individual with access to New York Daily News senior justice columnist Shaun King’s official Gmail account sent out a flurry of bizarre emails in response to a request for comment from TheBlaze Monday night.

    Over the course of the last few days, King — a prominent Black Lives Matter leader — has deleted approximately 70,000 tweets from his Twitter account, leaving only a few hundred still posted to his profile.

    The mass deletion came after King tweeted that gun owners might be compensating for small penises and low sex drive. After his tirade, many pointed to earlier tweets King had published proclaiming to be a gun owner himself.

    Image source: Twitter

    Image source: Twitter

    Milo Yiannopoulos, a reporter at Breitbart, wrote King asking for comment: “Why are you deleting your tweets? Is it because you were embarrassed about your past statements on firearms coming to light?”

    The response Yiannopoulos received absolutely stunned him. He wrote on Twitter it was the “best email” he had ever received.

    “I cannot overestimate how insane the email I’m about to share is,” he tweeted before publishing the email.

    Here’s a transcript of a portion of the message Yiannopoulos received:

    Can you confirm that you are mass-deleting tweets?

    Tens of thousands of people all over the world deleted just 2-3 tweets a piece over the past few days.

    Are you using an automated tool or is your “administrative team” achieving this feat manually?

    It’s all manual. We gave out Shaun’s Twitter password to the volunteers and asked them to all do it by the end of the day today. They were from 150 countries combined.

    Why are you deleting your tweets? Is it because you were embarrassed about your past statements on firearms coming to light?

    When Shaun realized you were strangely obsessed with him, he had no idea you’d comb through his tweets. Once it got really creepy for Shaun and his family that you seemed to love and hate, worship and despise him, Shaun’s admin team decided that you were too dangerous. Legal counsel at several British media companies told us that they thought you had actual psychological challenges/disorders.

    Would you like to expand for the benefit of our readers on your views that guns are “phallic” symbols? Did you find wielding a loaded handgun, as described in your 2008, 2009, 2012 and 2013 tweets, sexually gratifying?

    Phallic symbols are all throughout society. Shaun believes that white supremacy drives NRA gun policies in this country. Furthermore, white supremacy is actually fear masked as superiority. Racial symbolism is present throughout the world, be it in depicting Jesus as an effeminate European, a firearm, the game of pool, etc.

    Yiannopoulos told TheBlaze the email was like nothing he had ever seen before.

    “Mulder was right! Aliens are real. I know this because they have visited my inbox. How else to explain the extraordinary rant I received from Shaun King’s email account when I asked a series of perfectly reasonable questions?” he wrote in an email.

    Yiannopoulos added, ”It’s nice to see King finally responding to requests for comment — even if his emails are offensive, insulting and contain wildly implausible claims. I say ‘nice,’ but who am I kidding… it’s the best thing ever! I had no choice but to share his remarkable, almost childlike imagination with the world.”

    Upon seeing the bizarre message sent to Yiannopoulos, this reporter reached out to King for comment and asked if the email sent to the Breitbart reporter was serious in nature.

    A response from King’s account was dispatched, though it was unclear who exactly authored it:

    Shaun didn’t write the email but I was very serious, in fact. Every word of that was accurate.

    Shaun thinks Glenn Beck and The Blaze are modern day publications for white supremacy. You are a pseudo/neo Klansman.

    You have knowingly and deliberately spread lies and fabrications on Shaun for months because you are an immoral person. You have zero integrity. Even when Shaun has offered the truth, you went with lies. The officer who helped Shaun when he was assaulted told us that you played him as well and that he told you and others he knew Shaun was bi-racial but that you left that out.

    You add no redemptive value to the earth Oliver. Also, I just googled your name and you are a terrible writer. I couldn’t find one well written piece from you. Smut mainly. Conservative porn.

    That email was followed up by another:

    Also, years ago, Shaun was a HUGE Glenn Beck fan. He couldn’t believe that you all never found the dozens of tweets he wrote praising him. More than any tweets we had volunteers delete, it was the Glenn Beck tweets that truly hurt Shaun to delete.

    I very literally think Shaun cried this afternoon over deleting his beloved Glenn Beck tweets. They were special to Shaun.

    We paid people $1 per tweet they deleted. In total it will cost Shaun somewhere in the ballpark of $125,00 to delete all of his tweets.

    When asked who was replying to the emails, TheBlaze received the following email:

    Shaun has hundreds of volunteers from all over the world who respond to these emails.

    With 5 kids, he’s typically in bed by 10:30-11pm.

    He stopped using this email address personally a few months ago when you tried to assassinate him Oliver. We believe you are flying drones over his house and at his wife’s job.

    In another email, a jab at this reporter’s ethnicity was taken.

    “Are you Indian?” said the email, which contained an attached photo of this reporter. “It looks like you are trying to hide your ethnicity in your latest pics.”

    This reporter is not Indian, but of Persian descent.

    It was never made clear who was sending emails out using King’s official email address, but several subtle references to the Atlanta area were made in the exchanges. King, who has never seemingly claimed his email was ever hacked, lives in Atlanta.

    As the messages were sent out, King announced on Twitter that some of his “friends” had created a website aimed at dispelling conservative “lies” about him.

    Multiple attempts were made Tuesday to contact the New York Daily News for comment, but neither a spokesperson or the newspaper’s editor-in-chief responded.

    King has not addressed the bizarre flurry of emails sent from his account on Twitter.

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  • Glenn Beck: Stopping Immigration is ‘Not Necessarily a Very Bad Idea,’ but Trump’s Plan ‘Anti-American’
    Posted December 8, 2015 at 8:45 pm by Tré Goins-Phillips

    Comments (297)

    Calling into radio Tuesday morning, Glenn Beck responded to Donald Trump’s recent call to ban Muslims from entering the U.S., saying halting immigration is “not necessarily a very bad idea.” However, he was quick to add Trump’s plan is “very anti-American.”

    Glenn Beck traveling through Europe Tuesday, Dec. 8. (Image source: Facebook)

    Glenn Beck traveling through Europe Tuesday, Dec. 8. (Image source: Facebook)

    “As I watch Donald Trump and what he’s saying about rounding up Muslims or stopping all immigration, what he’s saying here on stopping all immigration — putting a pause on immigration is not necessarily a very bad idea,” the radio host said on The Glenn Beck Radio Program. “Singling people out because they’re one religion or another is very anti-American and very, in this case, anti-Swedish as well.”

    Beck said he believes it’s “common sense” to put a pause on immigration for the time being, because “nothing is working.” The radio personality called into his self-titled radio program from Sweden, where he believes “fascism is coming” because the Swedes are being taught that there is no Swedish culture.

    “They’re currently being taught that there is no Swedish culture — that’s what they’re teaching their students — there is no inherent Swedish culture,” Beck said. “And the Muslim culture is a culture that is deep and rich with meaning, but not the Swedish culture.”

    Beck, comparing the U.S. to Sweden, said America is experiencing a similar phenomenon and citizens need to determine if “our culture is worth saving.”

    “We do need to stop and take a pause and say, ‘Okay, wait a minute. Is our culture worth saving? Is there a reason to even exist as a country, or is everything just equal and all the same, and, in fact, in the case of Sweden, the Muslim culture of higher priority than the Swedish culture?” Beck asked.

    Listen to Beck’s comments below:

    Follow Tré Goins-Phillips (@tregp) on Twitter

  • Leaked Memo: BuzzFeed Editor-In-Chief Says It’s ‘Entirely Fair’ to Call Trump a ‘Mendacious Racist’
    Posted December 8, 2015 at 8:10 pm by Oliver Darcy

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    BuzzFeed Editor-In-Chief Ben Smith wrote in an email to his editorial staff Tuesday that calling Republican frontrunner Donald Trump a racist on social media does not violate the company’s ethics guidelines.

    In the memo, obtained by TheBlaze, Smith said he had received questions from staff members on whether calling Trump a “liar and a racist violates our policy asking that you not to be political partisans on social media.”

    NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

    NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

    BuzzFeed’s ethics guide states that “reporters and editors should refrain from commenting in a partisan way about candidates or policy issues.”

    “The goals of this policy (which is stricter with BuzzFeed News staff) are twofold: To preserve our readers’ confidence that we can be fair; and to not needlessly undermine the work of reporters on the beat,” Smith wrote. “And in that context, Trump is operating far outside the political campaigns to which those guidelines usually apply.”

    “It is, for instance, entirely fair to call him a mendacious racist, as the politics team and others here have reported clearly and aggressively: He’s out there saying things that are false, and running an overtly anti-Muslim campaign,” he continued. ”BuzzFeed News’s reporting is rooted in facts, not opinion; these are facts.”

    “It is, for instance, entirely fair to call him a mendacious racist…”

    Smith added, “Our coverage reflects the facts of his campaign, and you aren’t going to get in trouble for stating them on Twitter. I would, though, steer away from suggesting his views are those of all Republicans or conservatives; Dick Cheney condemned him yesterday, for instance.”

    Thos Robinson/Getty Images for The Guardian

    Thos Robinson/Getty Images for The Guardian

    Smith concluded his memo discouraging employees from engaging in “political troll wars,” but reaffirmed that “there’s nothing partisan about accurately describing Donald Trump.”

    In the past, BuzzFeed reporters have struggled to steer away from using their social media platforms to offer partisan or political points of view.

    In October, senior reporter Joel Anderson briefly took his Twitter account offline after posting a controversial message seemingly calling for gun control in the immediate aftermath of the deadly shooting in Roseburg, Oregon.

    BuzzFeed editor Rachel Zarrell also made headlines earlier this year for a series of pro-gun control tweets she posted while news of the deadly Lafayette theater shooting unfolded.

    Smith did not immediately return a request for comment from TheBlaze Tuesday evening.

    Trump ignited controversy Monday when he proposed a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” until lawmakers “can figure out what is going on.” Previously, the GOP candidate had suggested closing down U.S. mosques with radical ties and appeared to endorse requiring Muslims to sign up in a registry.

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  • Judicial Watch Releases ‘Compelling Benghazi Email’ It Says ‘Worsens the Scandal of Benghazi’
    Posted December 8, 2015 at 7:22 pm by Oliver Darcy

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    A conservative government watchdog group released a new Benghazi email Tuesday that then-Department of Defense Chief of Staff Jeremy Bash sent to the State Department offering military forces that could have moved into the area.

    Bash sent his email — obtained by Judicial Watch through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit — to three senior State Department officials just hours after the deadly 2012 attacks initially unfolded.

    [W]e have identified the forces that could move to Benghazi,” he wrote. “They are spinning up as we speak.”

    Image source: Screen grab / Judicial Watch

    Image source: Screen grab / Judicial Watch

    The email was sent to Jacob Sullivan, who served as deputy chief of staff to Hillary Clinton. Wendy Sherman and Thomas Nides were both senior State Department officials.

    Much of the email was redacted, but it seemingly contradicted testimony from the Obama administration that an immediate response was not feasible. Then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta testified in 2013 that “time, distance, the lack of an adequate warning, events that moved very quickly on the ground prevented a more immediate response.”

    Whitney Curtis/Getty Images

    Whitney Curtis/Getty Images

    Gregory Hicks, Deputy Chief of Mission to the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, had previously testified that even a single fighter jet scrambled after the attack “would have been scared to death” the enemy “that we would have gotten a laser on them and killed them.”

    Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton released a statement Tuesday after the publication of the email.

    “The Obama administration and Clinton officials hid this compelling Benghazi email for years,” Fitton said. “The email makes readily apparent that the military was prepared to launch immediate assistance that could have made a difference, at least at the CIA Annex. The fact that the Obama Administration withheld this email for so long only worsens the scandal of Benghazi.”

    Conservative political super PAC American Crossroads also released a statement, going particularly after Clinton.

    “After years of spin, deception, and distraction from President Obama and Hillary Clinton, this email makes it clear that the Obama Administration and then-Secretary Clinton had a chance to save the four Americans killed in Benghazi – and shamefully did nothing,” said the organization’s director, Ian Prior.

    The Clinton campaign did not respond to a request for comment from TheBlaze Tuesday evening.

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  • New CNN Poll Released — and Two GOP Candidates Have Surged to Second & Third in New Hampshire
    Posted December 8, 2015 at 6:06 pm by Oliver Darcy

    Comments (221)

    Donald Trump leads his Republican 2016 rivals handily in New Hampshire, according to a CNN/WMUR poll published Tuesday.

    Photographer: RJ Sangosti/Pool via Bloomberg

    Photographer: RJ Sangosti/Pool via Bloomberg

    The real estate mogul easily topped the other GOP presidential hopefuls, earning 32 percent of support from likely Republican primary voters. That’s an increase of six points since September.

    Marco Rubio placed second, surging to 14 percent of support. He previously had nine percent support in September.

    Chris Christie, who has placed much focus on New Hampshire, also moved up considerably in the poll. The New Jersey governor jumped from five percent support in September to nine percent in September.

    Jeb Bush came in fourth in the poll, followed by John Kasich and Ted Cruz.

    Ben Carson came in seventh, followed by Carly Fiorina in eighth and Rand Paul in ninth place. Lindsey Graham and Mike Huckabee barely registered, only earning one percent of support among the likely primary voters.

    The numbers were based on 402 interviews with Republican primary voters. The margin of error was 4.9 percent. In September, Trump led the N.H. field, followed by Fiorina, Rubio and Carson.

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  • Congressman Blasts Alma Mater: ‘I’m Embarrassed as a Graduate’ of the University of Tennessee
    Posted December 8, 2015 at 4:58 pm by Kaitlyn Schallhorn

    Comments (101)

    As state lawmakers pile pressure on the University of Tennessee following the publishing of controversial holiday party guidelines, Rep. John Duncan (R-Tenn.) told TheBlaze that he is “embarrassed” by the school.

    Duncan, outspoken about his disapproval of several of UT’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s projects, said the latest controversy is aiding in “making the university a laughing stock across the nation.” The diversity office has come under fire following its publication of holiday party guidelines that urged employees to “ensure your holiday party is not a christmas party in disguise.”

    The office was already facing scrutiny from Republican lawmakers as it published separate guidelines over the summer that urged school employees to refer to students by gender neutral pronouns such as “ze, xe, xem, xyr, zirs and hirs.”

    “I think it’s ridiculous what they’ve been doing,” Duncan told TheBlaze in an interview Tuesday, adding that between the publication of the two guidelines, he is “embarrassed as a graduate” of the university. 

    Rep. John Duncan, R-Tenn., (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

    Tennessee Republican Rep. John Duncan (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

    “If they put out the exact same [guidelines] regarding Muslims and Ramadan or Jewish people and Hanukkah or African American students and Kwanza, the liberal left would have made a huge outcry against it,” he said. “Christians, especially conservative Christians who want to put Christ in Christmas — that’s a bad thing to the Office of Diversity.”

    Duncan said that he grew up during a time when Bible study and prayer were commonplace in the classroom — something he referred to as a “good thing” especially for those dealing with divorce, illness or other familial issues. However, the guidelines published by UT at Knoxville’s diversity office “sends the wrong message” to college students, he said.

    “It’s a double standard. We are supposed to accept and at times bow down to every kind of religion except Christianity,” he said. “Liberals who are the quickest and loudest to proclaim their tolerance are usually the most intolerant.”

    Tennessee state Rep. James Van Huss (R) told TheBlaze that he is pushing legislation that would defund the university system’s diversity offices and reroute the money to the state’s general fund as well as to a project for local and state law enforcement officials — a move that other Republican state lawmakers have endorsed. 

    The UT system spends $5.5 million of its $2.1 billion budget on diversity programs across its multiple campuses.

    UT system President Joe DiPietro told TheBlaze in a statement that he is opposed to such legislation as diversity and inclusion programs are needed throughout the university system in order to further prepare students to enter the workforce.  

    The controversial holiday guide — which urged employees to send non-denominational holiday cards, ensure that food and beverage selections are not specific to one culture or religion and deter from playing “Secret Santa” games — has since been removed form the Office of Diversity’s website. The vice chancellor who published the guidelines is no longer in charge of the office’s website and was “counseled” by the university.

  • Late Night TV Host Supports ‘Thoughts and Prayers’ Following Shootings While Subtly Pitching for Gun Control
    Posted December 8, 2015 at 4:50 pm by Mike Opelka

    Comments (89)

    CBS TV’s late night talk-show host Stephen Colbert returned from vacation Monday night and played a little “catch up” on news events, addressing the recent mass shootings in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and San Bernardino, California.

    Image source: YouTube

    Image source: YouTube

    Holding up a copy of the New York Daily News cover that slammed politicians for saying their “thoughts and prayers” were with the victims, victims’ families and first responders, Colbert (a devout Catholic) defended sending “thoughts and prayers.”

    “The reason you keep people in your thoughts and prayers is admittedly not to fix the problem but to try to find some small way to share the burden of grief,” Colbert explained.

    The comedian’s mostly serious segment also managed to slip in a three-sentence plug for gun control. “There has to be some way to make it harder to build up and arsenal,” Colbert said, adding, “The San Bernardino shooters had 6,000 rounds of ammunition.”

    He received a large round of applause when he wondered, ”Why is so easy to buy bullets when I have to show three forms of ID to buy Sudafed?”

    Watch the segment titled, “So What Do We Do?”



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  • Poll: More Than Two-Thirds of Trump Supporters Would Still Support the Candidate in a Third-Party Run
    Posted December 8, 2015 at 4:39 pm by Chris Enloe

    Comments (206)

    The vast majority of Donald Trump supporters would abandon the GOP if Trump decided to run as a third-party candidate, a new USA Today/Suffolk University poll released Tuesday found.

    According to the poll, 68 percent of the Republican front-runner’s supporters would continue to support Trump in an independent bid for the White House. Only 18 percent said they would reconsider their support. The rest were undecided.

    Donald Trump speaks to the crowd at a Pearl Harbor Day Rally at the U.S.S. Yorktown, December 7, 2015. (Getty Images/Sean Rayford)

    Donald Trump speaks to the crowd at a Pearl Harbor Day Rally at the U.S.S. Yorktown, December 7, 2015. (Getty Images/Sean Rayford)

    The poll represents the “perfect storm” for the Republican National Committee — one where enough Donald Trump supporters abandon the Republican party to all but ensure the White House to whomever wins the Democratic nomination.

    However, the billionaire businessman did sign a “loyalty pledge” to the RNC in September, vowing not to run as a third-party candidate, but the possibility of a Trump independent run resurfaced last month after Trump tweeted that the RNC wasn’t holding up their end of a “deal.”

    In terms of support, the poll also found that the real estate tycoon continues his dominating lead. According to the poll, Trump received 27 percent of support, while second-place Texas Sen. Ted Cruz received 17 percent. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio was third with 16 percent, while retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush rounded out the top-5 with 10 percent and 4 percent, respectively.

    While the USA Today/Suffolk University poll was conducted before Trump’s highly controversial remarks on Muslims, a separate survey from Public Policy Polling released Tuesday found that Trump supporters largely agree with his positions toward Muslims.

    The survey of 1,000 likely voters was conducted between Dec. 2-6. The poll had an overall margin of error of +/- 3 percent. Among the 357 Republican likely voters, the poll had a margin of error of +/- 5 percent.

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  • Hillary Clinton Campaign Heats Up Attacks on Ted Cruz Over Global Warming
    Posted December 8, 2015 at 4:34 pm by Fred Lucas

    Comments (111)

    The chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign attacked Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) for chairing a Senate inquiry into global warming Tuesday.

    “The science on climate change is clear, 2015 is on track to be the hottest year on record, and the United States is already feeling the impacts of climate change — including in Ted Cruz’s home state of Texas, where severe downpours and flash floods killed dozens this year alone,” Hillary for America Chairman John Podesta said in a statement.

    Republican Presidential hopeful and Texas Senator Ted Cruz speaks as he chairs the Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness during a hearing on climate change on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, December 8, 2015.  (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

    Republican presidential hopeful Texas Sen. Ted Cruz speaks as he chairs the Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness during a hearing on climate change on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., Tuesday. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

    The Clinton campaign has recently focused more of its attacks on GOP 2016 hopeful Cruz, as he has risen in several recent presidential polls. One poll even found Cruz taking a five-point lead in Iowa.

    Cruz, chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness, chaired the hearing titled, “Data or Dogma? Promoting Open Inquiry in the Debate Over the Magnitude of Human Impact on Earth’s Climate.”

    During the hearing, Cruz noted the case of a ship sent to the arctic to explore the devastating effects of zero ice, only to get trapped in the ice. He also recalled that, as a senator, Secretary of State John Kerry predicted the arctic would be ice free by 2013.

    “John Kerry was not a little wrong, he was wildly, extraordinarily wrong,” Cruz said. “Facts matter. Science matters. Data matters. That’s what this hearing is about.”

    Cruz said the computer models have also been repeatedly wrong.

    “According to the satellite data, there has been no significant global warming for the past 18 years,” Cruz said.

    Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talks to members of the audience after giving the keynote address at the 2015 Saban Forum at the Willard Hotel in Washington DC on Sunday December 6, 2015. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

    Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talks to members of the audience after giving the keynote address at the 2015 Saban Forum at the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C., Sunday. (Melina Mara/Washington Post via Getty Images)

    The hearing comes as officials from nearly 200 countries are assembled in Paris to try to hammer out a climate change treaty.

    The Clinton campaign press release pointed out that the Koch brothers — often cast as boogeymen by the left — declared Cruz to be a “hero” on climate matters.

    “There is nothing heroic about blocking measures that would keep our kids and communities healthy,” Pedestal said, adding, “Ted Cruz may be the latest candidate to use his office to stoke doubts about climate change, but virtually all the Republicans running for president share his commitment to denial and defeatism about America’s capacity to lead the world in confronting this challenge.”

  • State Lawmakers Consider Pulling University Funding After Discovering How Much Money Is Being Spent on ‘Diversity’
    Posted December 8, 2015 at 4:00 pm by Kaitlyn Schallhorn

    Comments (141)

    The University of Tennessee at Knoxville’s faculty is scrambling as state lawmakers consider pulling taxpayer funding for the school’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion after it published controversial holiday party guidelines.

    Scrutiny of the university’s diversity office was sparked — once again — after it published holiday season guidelines for employees that urged them to “ensure your holiday party is not a Christmas party in disguise.” The list, which was published on the University of Tennessee at Knoxville’s website, has since been replaced with three generic paragraphs that ask for those celebrating the holidays to be mindful of others.

    The school official who published the guidelines has relinquished his control over the website, TheBlaze has learned.

    View of Ayres Hall on University of Tennessee campus. (Getty Images)

    View of Ayres Hall on University of Tennessee campus. (Getty Images)

    In light of the published guidelines, Tennessee State Rep. James Van Huss introduced legislation to defund the Office of  Diversity, saying that his constituents have repeatedly been alarmed over some of the things the office promotes. Van Huss first advised defunding the office over the summer when it published a guide urging employees to use gender-neutral pronouns such as, “ze, xe, xem, xyr, zirs and hirs,” when addressing students.

    “This in no way reflects the values of my constituents,” Van Huss told TheBlaze in an interview Tuesday afternoon.

    Van Huss said he was not opposed to having a diversity office on the UT system’s campuses in general but referred to an earlier press release from his office that called for more oversight and less taxpayer money.

    “We had been trying to draft something that would leave the office in place but bring more oversight. However, after this latest action, it is clear that this taxpayer-funded department in no way reflects the values of Tennesseans,” he said in a press release provided to TheBlaze. “First, it was Sex Week, then the Gender Neutral Pronouns, now these recommendations to ensure ‘holiday’ parties have nothing to do with Christmas. What else has the Office of Diversity been doing with our tax dollars?”

    The UT system allocates $5.5 million of its $2.1 billion budget to its diversity programs at all of its campuses — including in Knoxville, Chattanooga, Martin and Memphis.

    State Rep.  Martin Daniel (R) echoed Van Huss’ concerns for how the diversity office uses money to WBIR-TV. ”While we respect freedom of speech, our constituents are telling us that they don’t want their taxpayer and tuition money in this math,” Daniel said.

    The university’s faculty senate scrambled to throw together an emergency session Tuesday in order to prevent the defunding — even in part — of its Office of Diversity. The organization, which announced its support Sunday of UTK Chancellor Jimmy Cheek amid calls for his resignation, is expected to consider two resolutions, according to WBIR. One resolution would allow UT to continue with its diversity efforts; the other would ask the Board of Trustees to resolve issues within the school system without allowing the state legislator to become involved.

    “We should be allowed to do our job and use this process we’ve already got to resolve any disagreement about things like this,” UTK Faculty Senate President Bruce MacLennan told WBIR.

    MacLennan did not respond to requests for comment from TheBlaze.

    “We are disappointed by this and believe that advancing and supporting diversity and inclusion throughout the UT system is important because it is needed, is the right thing to do, supports providing the proper learning environment, and better prepares our students to enter the workforce,” UT President Joe DiPietro said in a statement to TheBlaze. “We hope to have an opportunity to discuss more about the value of diversity and inclusion efforts to the UT system and all of Tennessee higher education when the General Assembly returns in January.”

    As Van Huss’ proposed legislation goes through the legal process,  Cheek announced in a statement Tuesday that, while he appreciated the support he has received from community members, he was “disappointed that the Office of Diversity and Inclusion did not effectively manage the materials posted on its website that have caused such needless distraction.”  The Knoxville News Sentinel reported that Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion Rickey Hall, the author of the guidelines, “has been counseled” and the content published to the website will be now overseen by Vice Chancellor for Communications Margie Nichols.

    State lawmakers intervened with the university’s practices last year as the university was using students’ programming fees to host a “Sex Week.” Now, students must choose to “opt-in” if they wish for a portion of the money they pay each year to go toward programming.

  • Rush Limbaugh Has a Theory on How Donald Trump Is Actually ‘Playing’ the Media
    Posted December 8, 2015 at 3:42 pm by Tré Goins-Phillips

    Comments (208)

    Conservative radio personality Rush Limbaugh divulged Tuesday what he believes to be Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump’s strategy on how the real estate tycoon is “playing” the media.

    “This latest Donald Trump episode is a glittering, glaring example of how he is playing the media like a Stradivarius,” Limbaugh said.

    Rush Limbaugh (AP/Chris Carlson )

    Rush Limbaugh (AP/Chris Carlson)

    “I tell you, folks, for all of you people who have complained and whined and moaned about the media over the years and how unfair they are to Republicans and how unfair that makes the whole process and ‘What are we gonna do?’ — you need to be studying Donald Trump,” the radio host continued.

    Limbaugh’s comments come the day after the GOP front-runner called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims” entering the United States. And according to Limbaugh, comments like that from Trump are less about what he believes and more about driving the media “crazy.”

    “This latest ‘outrage’ from Trump is a perfect example of how he plays the media — how he knows exactly what to do and how to do it to own their attention and airtime,” Limbaugh said. “He says things that he knows will drive them crazy.”

    Limbaugh did, however, claim that Americans agree “to a certain extent” with what he says and that he’s the “only one” reaching that audience.

    “Then he sits back and watches — no doubt with a huge smile — the media cover what he says over and over and over and over again,” the radio host said.

    According to Limbaugh, Trump has received more airtime than any other candidate currently in the 2016 race for the White House — including the Democratic field, which Limbaugh describes as the “chosen field of the media.” Trump has even doubled Democratic rival Hillary Clinton’s airtime, receiving 234 minutes and 113 minutes, respectively.

    Limbaugh questioned, “Why can’t the media touch the guy?”

    “He says things over and over that he knows will drive [the media] insane, and then when they go insane, he doubles down on it and drives them even crazier,” Limbaugh concluded. “He also knows that his audience is in on what he is doing.”

    Follow Tré Goins-Phillips (@tregp) on Twitter

  • ‘Ringleader’ of Paris Attacks Slipped Through Fingers of Athens Police Nearly a Year Ago: Report
    Posted December 8, 2015 at 3:36 pm by Chris Enloe

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    The suspected ringleader of last month’s Paris terror attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, allegedly slipped through the grasp of Greek police, following an operation last January that set out to capture him.

    According to BBC News, the operation, which happened in Athens, came after it was discovered that Abaaoud was running a Belgian terror cell via a mobile phone in the Greek capital.

    Image credit: Associated Press

    Image credit: Associated Press

    The BBC’s Belgian anti-terror source said that the Athens operation was scheduled to take place prior to a separate terror raid in Verviers, Belgium. The Belgium raid, which took place Jan. 15, 2015, left two suspected jihadis dead.

    More from the BBC:

    Anti-terror sources told the BBC that a senior Belgian police officer was in Athens co-ordinating the hunt for Abaaoud with his Greek counterparts before the raid on the Verviers cell.

    It remains unclear why or how Abaaoud slipped through the Greek net. There may have been an attempt to track him down to a city centre square by tracing the signal of his mobile phone. But that did not work.

    Athens police did, however, carry out two raids on Jan. 17. Despite failing to apprehend Abaaoud, police extracted DNA evidence from both raids that was eventually connected to Abaaoud.

    According to a BBC report from November, Abaaoud had been implicated in four of six foiled Islamic State attacks in France this year.

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  • This Country Is Offering Migrants Cash and Plane Tickets to Leave — and They’re Taking Up the Offer
    Posted December 8, 2015 at 3:30 pm by Sharona Schwartz

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    Norway has paid nearly 1,000 migrants to leave the country and return to their homes, and an increasing number of people are taking the government up on its offer.

    The British newspaper the Independent reported Monday that a couple with two children can be paid more than 80,000 kroner, or $9,300, with the government also covering flight tickets.

    Refugees are welcomed upon arrival at the Norwegian border crossing station at Storskog after crossing the border from Russia on November 12, 2015 near Kirkenes. An increasingly popular route for migrants across Russia and into Norway has Oslo angered and worried as winter approaches, while commentators suspect Moscow is deliberately creating problems for its neighbour. (Photo: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images)

    Refugees are welcomed upon arrival at the Norwegian border crossing station at Storskog after crossing the border from Russia Nov. 12 near Kirkenes. An increasingly popular route for migrants across Russia and into Norway has Oslo angered and worried as winter approaches, while commentators suspect Moscow is deliberately creating problems for its neighbor. (Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images)

    The head of the Norwegian immigration department’s return unit, Katinka Hartmann, said many of the migrants, mostly from the Middle East and Africa expect to quickly find jobs and bring their families to Norway. That expectation is apparently breeding disappointment.

    “Many cannot wait. They have family at home who expect them to be able to help,” she told NRK television.

    According to the Norwegian division of the International Organization for Migration, more and more migrants are taking the government up on its offer to pay them to leave.

    “Earlier this year, the number was an average of 100 per month. In October, there were 150 and in November there were 230 applications,” IOM spokesman Joost van der Aalst told NRK, Norway’s English language website The Local reported.

  • In Less Than Two Minutes, Learn How the Islamic State Makes More Than $1 Billion a Year
    Posted December 8, 2015 at 2:29 pm by Tré Goins-Phillips

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    Every year, the Islamic State brings in more than $1 billion in revenue, making it not only one of the fastest-growing terror threats but also one of the wealthiest in the world.

    From taxation and oil to ransoms and donations, the terror organization rakes in millions of dollars every year. In fact, according to a recent report from the U.K. Treasury, the Islamic State has raised $45 million in ransoms this year alone and al Qaeda has raised $125 million in ransoms since 2008.

    However, due to the large swath of territory the Islamic State controls, taxation is by far the organization’s biggest money maker, with oil coming in second.

    The Islamic State levies import taxes, business rent, fines, utility bills and income taxes on any residents who occupy land the radical group has seized, according to the report. The Islamic State is estimated to make at least $900 million from taxation alone.

    In addition, the Islamic State controls the oil in the territory they’ve usurped in both Iraq and Syria, which boasts a profit of at least $600 million — or $50 million per month. The Financial Times has dubbed the terror network’s oil trade “a sprawling operation almost akin to state a oil company,” despite “international attempts to destroy it.”

    In addition to all of its most prosperous means of income, the Islamic State also benefits from donations from around the world. According to the U.K. Treasury’s report, donations from the Gulf region are a “vital funding stream” for Al Qaeda and its affiliate groups.

    Watch how the Islamic State makes their money:

    (H/T: Business Insider)

    Follow Tré Goins-Phillips (@tregp) on Twitter

  • ‘Fiction Has Become Reality’: Ex-Cosmo Writer Reveals How She Helped ‘Wreck the Culture’ — and What She’s Doing to Fix It Now
    Posted December 8, 2015 at 2:11 pm by Billy Hallowell

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    Sue Ellen Browder was a writer for Cosmopolitan magazine for more than two decades, penning a wide array of articles for the women’s outlet before later converting to Catholicism and regretting her role in helping “wreck the culture,” as she recently told The Church Boys podcast.

    In her new book titled, “Subverted: How I Helped the Sexual Revolution Hijack the Women’s Movement,” Browder argues that the sexual revolution essentially merged with the women’s movement, sullying the goals of the latter and negatively impacting the culture at large.

    “In the beginning, the sexual revolution and the women’s movement were two radically different movements,” she said, explaining that Betty Friedan, the late leader of the women’s movement, once called Cosmo “quite obscene and quite horrible.”

    The focus of these comments, which were uttered decades ago, was on the magazine’s purported obsession with encouraging women to find a man rather than focus on helping them fulfill other facets of their person destinies.

    At the time, Browder said that the magazine’s content was “racy,” but that the level of debauchery was nowhere near where it is today.

    The author also dropped a bombshell claim about her Cosmo freelance writing career: that she would often tell blatant lies in her articles.

    “I told a lot of lies in that magazine,” she said of her time at the magazine in the 1970s through the 1990s. “We were making up fantasies of women that were jumping into bed, but they weren’t doing it as much as they are today. Fiction has become reality.”

    Listen to Browder discuss these issues at the 25:30 mark below:

    Subscribe to The Church Boys on iTunes

    It wasn’t until later that Browder began to change her perspective on the writings that she had published for 24 years with Cosmo — a freelance arrangement that she maintained in an effort to help support her family.

    “After I became a Catholic I began to look at all the things I had done and I thought, ‘This has wrecked the culture. You were participating in this horrible culture of death,’” she recalled.

    Now, she’s sharing all of her thoughts and beliefs about both the sexual revolution and the women’s rights movement, revealing that she was simply helping sell propaganda — the image of a lifestyle that she was never truly living herself.

    “I sold the Cosmo lifestyle even though I was not living it,” she said. “I had a beautiful marriage. I was home baking chocolate chip cookies … and raising children and selling this abhorrent lifestyle to young women.”

    Find out more about “Subverted” here.

    As TheBlaze previously reported, Victoria Hearst, granddaughter of famed newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst, also believes that Cosmopolitan magazine is “obsessed with sex,” and that its “pornographic” contents encourage a potentially dangerous “sex anywhere, anytime” mentality. She, too, has been speaking out against the outlet.

    Listen to her remarks below:

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  • ‘We Pledge Allegiance’: Officials Now Believe Both San Bernardino Attackers Had Vowed Loyalty to Islamic State
    Posted December 8, 2015 at 1:53 pm by Kaitlyn Schallhorn

    Comments (38)

    The Facebook post by one of the San Bernardino shooters that pledged allegiance to the Islamic State is now believed to have been from both shooters, according to senior law enforcement officials.

    According to the Washington Post, the Facebook post said “we pledge allegiance” to the leader of the Islamic State, specifically using the name of the emir, Khalifah Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Al Qurashi. 

    One law enforcement official told the Washington Post that the posting seemed to be garbled.

    SWAT officers enter an area where suspects were believed to be after the shooting at the Inland Regional Center, December 2, 2015. (Getty Images/Sean M. Haffey)

    SWAT officers enter an area where suspects were believed to be after the shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California, Dec. 2. (Getty Images/Sean M. Haffey)

    The shooters, husband Syed Farook and wife Tashfeen Malik, reportedly posted the message on the social media account around the same time police say they walked into a social service center where Farook was employed and fatally shot 14 people, leaving more than a dozen others injured.

    The FBI is investigating just how and when the pair became radicalized as well as who influenced whom.

    “It’s looking like they were on the same path at the same time,” an official said.

    (H/T: Washington Post)

  • Ted Cruz Proposes Three-Year Ban on Refugees From Islamic State- and Al Qaeda-Controlled Countries, Refuses to Attack Trump
    Posted December 8, 2015 at 1:47 pm by Leigh Munsil

    Comments (252)

    Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz outlined Tuesday three pieces of legislation he thinks will keep Americans safe from threats by the Islamic State exploiting an influx of Syrian refugees — and dodged every opportunity to attack Donald Trump over GOP front-runner’s widely derided plan to ban Muslims from entry to the U.S.

    When asked about Trump’s statement Monday calling for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” the Texas senator said that he disagreed with that proposal but that he won’t be an “ongoing theater critic” for every comment made by another presidential candidate.

    “A lot of our friends here have encouraged me to criticize and attack Donald Trump, I’m not interested in doing so,” Cruz said. “But I believe we need a plan that is focused on the direct threat, and the threat we’re facing is radical Islamic terrorism.”

    When asked whether he thinks Trump’s call to exclude a people group based on their religion is constitutional, Cruz dodged the question, saying instead that he’s focused on his own policies and solutions.

    “Certainly in the media there’s been no shortage of criticism of Donald Trump,” Cruz said. “I do not believe the world needs my voice added to that chorus of critics.”

    Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks during a town hall meeting at Furman University on Monday, Dec. 7, 2015, in Greenville, S.C. (AP/Rainier Ehrhardt)

    Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) speaks during a town hall meeting at Furman University Monday in Greenville, S.C. (AP/Rainier Ehrhardt)

    When asked if he would support Trump if he wins the Republican primary, Cruz said that he’d support any Republican nominee — but he hopes to be the nominee himself.

    “I recognize that a great many folks in the media would prefer that anyone running for president would engage as an ongoing theater critic, criticizing the proposals of others,” he said. “I do not agree with his proposal. I do not think it is the right solution. And the right solution I believe is the legislation that I’ve introduced.”

    Earlier in the press conference, Cruz introduced a bill to impose a three-year moratorium on refugees from countries where the Islamic State or Al Qaeda controls a “substantial amount” of territory.

    “The reason is simple: We have been told by the FBI they cannot vet these refugees, and our first obligation should be protecting our national security,” Cruz said at a news conference Tuesday morning on Capitol Hill.

    A second new provision Cruz urged leaders in Congress to “pass immediately” is an opt-out option for state governors to decide not to allow refugees into their states, despite President Barack Obama’s executive direction that they do so. Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott joined Cruz at the press conference and said that Cruz’s legislation will make it possible for him to protect his state’s citizens.

    About 30 governors — Democrats and Republicans — have said they don’t want to resettle Syrian refugees in their states, Cruz said. “Those officials are doing their jobs. They’re honoring their commitments to the men and women who elected them. We need a president who will do the same.”

    Cruz also touted his Expatriate Terrorist Act, which he introduced last month but was blocked by Democrats on Capitol Hill. The bill would change current law to say that Americans who join forces with terrorists overseas will forfeit their U.S. citizenship.

    “We should not be allowing ISIS terrorists to come into America with a U.S. passport and wage jihad against innocent citizens,” he said. Cruz called his legislative proposals “reasonable, common-sense steps” to keep Americans safe.

    “We know our top obligation is doing everything possible to prevent another terrorist attack, to prevent another San Bernardino attack,” he said. “Because as long as the federal government is not doing its job, we know there will be another and another and another.”

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  • House Expected to Tighten Controls on Visa-Free Travel to U.S. With White House-Backed Legislation
    Posted December 8, 2015 at 1:44 pm by Associated Press

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    WASHINGTON (AP) — Invoking the Paris terror attacks, House lawmakers pushed toward a vote Tuesday on legislation tightening controls on travel to the U.S. and requiring visas for anyone who’s been in Iraq or Syria in the previous five years.

    U.S. House of Representatives

    U.S. House of Representatives (AP)

    The bill, which is backed by the White House and expected to be overwhelmingly approved, takes aim at the “visa waiver” program, which allows citizens of 38 countries to travel to the U.S. without first obtaining a visa. Belgium and France, home to most of the perpetrators of the Paris attacks, are among the participating countries.

    The legislation would institute a series of changes, including the new visa requirement for citizens of Iraq, Syria and other countries that are home to extremist groups or anyone who’s traveled to those countries in the previous five years. Countries in the visa waiver program would also be required to share information on extremists with the U.S. and face expulsion from the program if they don’t.

    “You have more than 5,000 individuals that have Western passports in this program that have gone to Iraq or Syria in the last five years,” said Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. “Those are gaps that we need to fix.”

    The legislation may end up attached to a sweeping year-end spending bill now being finalized on Capitol Hill.

    Separately some lawmakers are also talking about looking at the fiancé visa program utilized by the shooters in San Bernardino, California. That program is already being reviewed by the Homeland Security Department.

  • Leading Orthodox Rabbis Call Christianity a ‘Gift’: ‘Jesus Brought a Double Goodness to the World’
    Posted December 8, 2015 at 1:37 pm by Sharona Schwartz

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    A group of Orthodox rabbis — including very prominent ones — have issued a statement in which they call Christianity a gift to the world.

    “We acknowledge that Christianity is neither an accident nor an error, but the willed divine outcome and gift to the nations,” read the statement published last week by the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation in Israel and posted Monday on the Times of Israel blog.

    Image source: Shutterstock/cigdem

    Image source: Shutterstock/cigdem

    “To Do the Will of Our Father in Heaven: Toward a Partnership between Jews and Christians” has been signed by more than two dozen Orthodox rabbis so far, including those from the U.S. and the chief rabbis of two European countries.

    Citing renowned historical Torah scholars, the rabbis wrote that Christians will be rewarded for their work “for the sake of heaven”:

    As did Maimonides and Yehudah Halevi, we acknowledge that Christianity is neither an accident nor an error, but the willed divine outcome and gift to the nations. In separating Judaism and Christianity, G-d willed a separation between partners with significant theological differences, not a separation between enemies. Rabbi Jacob Emden wrote that “Jesus brought a double goodness to the world. On the one hand he strengthened the Torah of Moses majestically… and not one of our Sages spoke out more emphatically concerning the immutability of the Torah. On the other hand he removed idols from the nations and obligated them in the seven commandments of Noah so that they would not behave like animals of the field, and instilled them firmly with moral traits…..Christians are congregations that work for the sake of heaven who are destined to endure, whose intent is for the sake of heaven and whose reward will not denied.”

    Orthodox Jews often use a hyphen in the word “God” out of respect and in order to avoid deleting or erasing the divine name.

    As partners in belief in God and the Bible, the rabbis called Christianity “our partner in world redemption, without any fear that this will be exploited for missionary purposes.”

    The signatories noted the “historic opportunity” for Christian-Jewish cooperation following “nearly two millennia of mutual hostility and alienation.”

    While Jews and Christians can work together “in redeeming the world,” the group acknowledged the differences between the faiths.

    “Our partnership in no way minimizes the ongoing differences between the two communities and two religions. We believe that G-d employs many messengers to reveal His truth, while we affirm the fundamental ethical obligations that all people have before G-d that Judaism has always taught through the universal Noahide covenant.,” the statement read.

    “Neither of us can achieve G-d’s mission in this world alone,” the group proclaimed.

    Read the entire statement at the Times of Israel.

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