The House Just Took a Big Step to Rein in NSA’s Snooping on AmericansPosted May 22, 2014 at 11:54 am by Pete Kasperowicz
The House on Thursday held an historic vote to end the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of phone data on millions of Americans, an activity that came to light only after it was leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
That leak sparked a sharp debate over whether Snowden was a traitor or a heroic whistleblower, one that does not appear to be decided since his flight to Russia.
But on Thursday, the House used its new knowledge of the program to severely curtail it, in a bill that large majorities of both parties supported. The USA FREEDOM Act was passed in a 303-121 vote. Among the “no” votes were 51 Republicans and 70 Democrats, many of whom wanted the bill to further restrict the NSA.
“[F]or 225 years, we have refused to accept the idea that in order to have national security, we must sacrifice our personal freedoms,” said Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), the chair of the House Judiciary Committee.
“Some, however, think these goals are in conflict with one another following last year’s unauthorized disclosure of the National Security Agency’s data collection programs operated under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA,” he added. “Today, the House will consider legislation that once again proves that American liberty and security are not mutually exclusive.”
Goodlatte explained that the bill would immediately prevent the NSA from sweeping up all Americans’ phone records as part of its effort to collect information about possible terrorist threats. It would also ban other bulk collection activities, like those done pursuant to National Security Letters issued by the FBI.
Instead, the bill would require the government to get a court’s permission to access data. It would also require the government to use specific terms, like a person’s name, address, or account number, which he said would limit the data available to the government.
Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), who sponsored the bill, said these changes would correct the government’s attempt to abuse data collection authority that was first provided in the PATRIOT Act in 2001, which passed soon after the 9/11 attacks.
“We’re here today because the government misapplied the law, and upset the balance between privacy and security that we had fought to preserve 13 years ago,” Sensenbrenner said. “In a feat of legal gymnastics, the administration convinced the FISA court that because some records in the universe of every phone call Americans make might be relevant to counter terrorism, the entire universe of calls must be relevant.”
Despite broad support for the bill, some argued that last minute changes could still allow the NSA to collect data on Americans without any cause. The original bill said the government must request information on a unique person, entity or account when seeking phone data.
But the final bill passed on Thursday broadens that somewhat by saying the government must choose terms “such as” names, entities or accounts, and adds specific addresses or devices as other possible search terms. Some said use of the words “such as” could give courts wiggle room to approve other specific requests from the government for information, and said they worry this could let the NSA run wild again.
“Regrettably, we have learned that if we leave any ambiguity in the law, the intellgence agencies will run a truck right through that ambiguity,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.).
This change prompted some groups that supported the original bill to withdraw that support. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, for example, agreed with Lofgren that the broader search criteria opens the door to being abused by the NSA.
“Congress has been clear that it wishes to end bulk collection, but given the government’s history of twisted legal interpretations, this language can’t be relied on to protect our freedoms,” the group said.
But supporters dismissed those fears, and said courts will still have to approve search terms and that Congress will quickly become aware if this new language is abused. Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said he doubts the government would request data on all phone records from a zip code, or from the entire eastern seaboard.
Others said the change is the sort of compromise needed to end bulk collection, but also maintain the government’s tools to ensure it can monitor terrorist communications.
Several members agreed that more could be done to rein in the NSA, but said the bill passed Thursday is a good first step. Sensenbrenner said he too was disappointed in some of the compromises that were made, and said groups that withdrew their support have a reason to be skeptical of the government.
“I don’t blame people for losing trust in their government, because the government has violated their trust,” he said.
“But this bill still does deserve support,” he added. “Today’s vote is a first step, and not a final step, in our efforts to reform surveillance.”
House passage sends the bill to the Senate, which could consider it soon given that the White House supports the measure. On Wednesday, the White House issued a statement of support that said it strikes the right compromise.
“The bill ensures our intelligence and law enforcement professionals have the authorities they need to protect the nation, while further ensuring that individuals’ privacy is appropriately protected when those authorities are employed,” it said.
Here’s Someone Who Did Something So Evil It Has Police Questioning Her Mental StatePosted May 22, 2014 at 11:46 am by Dave Urbanski
When Ryeeah Christine Hatcher reached into a neighbor’s backyard, grabbed a puppy, and stuffed it in a backpack, the 27-year-old Georgia woman tried to run, but police said other neighbors saw what she was doing and cornered her.
But Hatcher wasn’t done.
Just before Douglas County deputies arrived on the scene Monday, she “took the backpack, with the puppy in it, and beat it against a tree,” Douglas County Chief Deputy Stan Copeland told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The puppy died, the Journal-Constitution added.
After deputies arrived, there was a struggle but Hatcher was taken into custody and charged with felony cruelty to animals, theft by taking and obstruction of an officer, police said.
Hatcher — a resident of Douglasville, about 22 miles west of Atlanta — was being held in lieu of a $12,000 bond.
“We do have questions about her mental state at the time of the incident,” Copeland added to the Journal-Constitution.
The Tiny Fact From This Year’s Primary Elections That You May Not Have NoticedPosted May 22, 2014 at 11:27 am by Becket Adams
Congress may be more unpopular right now than cockroaches, colonoscopies and used car salesmen, but Americans have so far this year voted to back incumbent candidates against their primary challengers.
“Incumbency is a powerful force that yields both name recognition, resources and the experience of running an actual campaign. These things matter,” Republican consultant Dina Fraioli told TheBlaze. “I mean, these politicians have voted against Obamacare and that’s more powerful than voters hatred of Congress.”
In fact, as of this writing, not a single incumbent candidate has been unseated by voters who claim they are unhappy with Congress, National Journal reported.
“In Tuesday’s congressional primaries, incumbents went 45 for 45, and establishment Republicans won easy victories against their tea-party rivals,” the report said. “Despite how much voters say they hate the current Congress, they still like them better than their primary challengers.”
Now, although incumbent candidates have been safe in 2014′s primary elections, the November midterms could be an entirely different story — especially for Senate Democrats.
“A survey of the national landscape finds that open Democratic seats in South Dakota and, to a lesser extent, West Virginia will be extremely difficult for the party to hold,” said National Journal’s Charlie Cook.
But it’s still odd that incumbent candidates have for the most part breezed through their primary elections despite the fact that Congress is so incredibly unpopular.
What possible explanation could there be?
“Incumbent reelection rates are rarely responsive to public opinion of Congress. Even in years when congressional approval tanks, incumbent turnover holds steady,” National Journal suggested.
Also, it’s important to note that although many Americans have historically held an unfavorable opinion of Congress, they generally approve of their own state lawmakers.
“Last May, when congressional approval was at 13 percent, Gallup found about 46 percent approved of the job their representative was doing,” National Journal reported. “This April, the AP asked a similar question, and found that while just 16 percent approved of Congress, 39 percent said they would like to see their member reelected. Of those who are most politically engaged, that figure was 44 percent.”
So, along with the help of redistricting that makes some lawmakers nearly untouchable, it seems pretty clear that incumbent candidates have historically enjoyed a primary election advantage.
“House reelection rates, in most cycles, are higher than 90 percent … For the Senate, those numbers are only slightly lower,” the report noted. “The Senate may very well flip to the Republicans, over a handful of seats, but the majority of the faces in the chamber will be the same.”
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The Unlikely Group That Just Spoke Out Against President ObamaPosted May 22, 2014 at 10:51 am by Fred Lucas
A leading voice of liberalism, the New York Times editorial page, ripped into President Barack Obama’s poor handling of the Department of Veterans Affairs wait list scandal.
“President Obama expressed outrage on Wednesday at recent charges of wrongdoing in the Department of Veterans Affairs’ health care system,” the Times editorial said Thursday.
“But expressing outrage is hardly enough for a president who, as a candidate in 2008, criticized the agency and vowed to improve care and address backlogs,” the Times said. “It is past time for a more visible personal commitment to right these wrongs as well as strong White House support for legislation that would make it possible for top agency officials to fire those responsible for wrongdoing.”
The House passed bipartisan legislation to allow VA employees to be more easily fired or transferred for misconduct. The Obama administration has not taken a position on the legislation.
The Times acknowledged that the large department with 1,700 hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and other facilities has had problems for a long time and has thousands more veterans to treat after the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, as well as policy changes in treating Agent Orange victims.
“Nevertheless, the buck stops with Mr. Obama, who pledged to build a ‘21st-century V.A,’” the newspaper said. “The White House says that while participation in the veterans’ health system has jumped 16 percent since 2008, the huge backlog of cases has, in fact, been reduced. Even so, Mr. Obama’s Republican adversaries now have fresh ammunition to use in questioning his management skills, and even some Democrats, such as Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat of Connecticut, have declared themselves ‘fed up and impatient.’”
Since the VA scandal broke, there are allegations that 40 veterans died while waiting for care they didn’t receive, in part as a result of officials allegedly cooking the books.
The VA’s Office of Inspector General has opened a probe into 26 VA medical facilities across the country. IG Richard Griffin is working with federal prosecutors to determine if criminal acts occurred in the Phoenix VA office. Books were allegedly cooked to make it appear that veterans did not have to wait for care for as long as they did. Reduced wait times were one factor in determining bonuses for executives.
The Times was not quick to call for the head of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, as some veterans service organizations have done.
“Some veterans groups and Republicans who sense another campaign issue are now calling for the resignation of Eric Shinseki, the former general who has led the veterans affairs department for five years,” the Times said. “Mr. Shinseki’s future will depend heavily on whether he can respond to this crisis with decisive action.”
Conservative Commentator Erick Erickson Makes a Big Announcement About His Future and His FaithPosted May 22, 2014 at 10:31 am by Billy Hallowell
Conservative commentator Erick Erickson announced Wednesday that he’s planning to enter seminary, a decision that came after he felt “strongly called” to more deeply study Christian theology.
Erickson wrote in an op-ed for Red State, a conservative opinion site where he serves as editor-in-chief, that he has felt a strong tug to study the faith over the past two years, but that he kept delaying a decision on the matter.
“I have put off the idea of going to seminary each time it has popped into my head. But in the last few months have felt more strongly convicted than ever,” he wrote. “So I applied. Yesterday, the Reformed Theological Seminary’s Atlanta campus accepted me as a student and I will begin work on my Masters in Biblical Studies.”
Erickson asked readers’ for prayers and also explained why he’s been writing more about faith lately — something that he said helps him put things into perspective.
“I spend my day being told in equal parts how awesome I am and how awful I am. I get told I need to do bigger and better things and I should be murdered on a near daily basis,” Erickson said. “I find myself often surrounded by people and things that would pull me more into the World and away from God.”
He admitted that he might not complete the degree, but he said he felt that pursuing it is a necessity, as he wants to better understand Christian themes.
Erickson doesn’t plan to leave his responsibilities at RedState, nor does he plan to cease appearances on radio and television, despite taking on these studies.
“My conscience has convicted me that I need a greater education in these matters of faith I find myself more often discussing,” Erickson concluded.
What the FBI Director Admitted This Week About the 2009 Ft. Hood Shooting Could Prove SignificantPosted May 22, 2014 at 10:29 am by Sara Carter
FBI Director James Comey told the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday that he agreed with the intelligence communities assessment that Ft. Hood shooter Nidal Hasan — whose bloody massacre in 2009 took the lives of 13 people — was inspired by Al Qaeda terrorist tactics. His statement seems to be in contrast with other administration officials who have labeled the deadliest shooting at a military base in U.S. history as “workplace violence.”
Since 2009, the victims and survivors of the Ft. Hood shooting have told TheBlaze that they have not only been battling their own wounds but the Obama Administration’s classification of the attack and failure to recognize Hasan’s actions as that of an enemy combatant. The military survivors, many who have made their case to lawmakers on Capitol Hill, have been fighting to be awarded the Purple Heart and the benefits that go with it.
TheBlaze has published a multi-part series – as well as a For The Record program – telling the stories of the Fort Hood victims, revealing the hardships they have faced in the shooting’s aftermath and the small victories they have found in survival.
Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican who has been an advocate for the survivors and victims families of the attack, asked Comey during the hearing about Hasan’s planned attack at Ft. Hood’s Soldier Readiness Processing Center. Cornyn, along with colleague Texas Sen.Ted Cruz, have been pushing for legislation that would award the survivors and victims family compensation and Purple Hearts.
“Director Comey, thank you for your service to the country. And thank you for your commitment to cooperate with this committee and Congress as part of our responsibilities to conduct oversight,” said Cornyn, at the hearing. ”And that hasn’t always been the case with the administration, but I appreciate the approach that you bring to it. In your opening statement, you mentioned Al Qaida-inspired terrorism. And I know you’re familiar if not specifically, generally, with the facts of the 2009 attack at Fort Hood, Texas, when Major Nidal Hasan shot and killed 13 people, injured a couple dozen plus more…
“Do you agree with the intelligence community’s assessment that Hasan was inspired by Al Qaida to conduct that attack?” Cornyn asked.
Comey responded: “Yes, sir, based on everything I’ve read. Again, I wasn’t in office at the time, but I’ve read about it since, and I — and I do.”
Hasan, a psychiatrist who was transferred to Ft. Hood from Walter Reed Medical Center, injured 32 during his rampage.
Follow Sara A. Carter (@SaraCarterDC) on Twitter.
America Isn’t the Only Place Where Some Intruders Run as Fast as They Can When They See a Homeowner’s GunPosted May 22, 2014 at 10:08 am by Sharona Schwartz
An Israeli couple says they fended off a Palestinian man armed with a knife and hoping to kidnap them when the wife ran upstairs to grab their gun and handed it to her husband who proceeded to shoot at the suspect.
Israel’s Shin Bet security service on Thursday told a Haifa court that the Palestinian suspect from the northern West Bank city of Jenin, Murad Mahmoud Hassan Ali Hassin, 25, admitted to entering the home in the northern Israeli town of Avtalion on April 19.
He said he was planning to take hostages in order to negotiate a deal to free Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli jails, the Times of Israel reported.
The Israeli news site Ynet spoke to the homeowners, who recounted the harrowing events last month.
Israel and Ela Shay credit having a pistol in their home that allowed them to successfully repel their attacker.
The wife, Ela, described the scene to Ynet: “We were just the two of us at home and there were hard knocks on the door. Abnormally, the door was closed and that was lucky. When we opened the door he just burst in. He appeared to be under a lot of stress.”
“He came in aggressively and I told him, ‘Man, this is too much’,” her husband Israel recounted. “He grabbed me forcefully with his hand and then I understood that this is a violent incident, so I pushed him outside. Everything happened in fractions of a second.”
Ela said she then saw that he had a knife stuck in his pants.
“I yelled that he has a knife, so Israel fought with him and I run upstairs to get the gun and call the police,” Ela told Ynet.
Israel described the struggle in the doorway when his wife retrieved the gun from upstairs.
“At the same moment I was leaning my shoulder on the door so that he couldn’t break in. When there was a moment of calm I cocked the gun and went out after him. At that point he tried to get in through the second door to the house, which is made of glass,” Israel Shay, the homeowner said.
That’s when Israel got about three feet from his unwelcome visitor and took a shot.
“I went to the other door, going through the house, and I stood one meter from him and aimed the pistol at him. He was holding a big rock in his hand and it took him a few seconds to realize that I was aiming at him, but when he saw the gun he dropped the rock, turned around, and ran,” Israel said.
The husband, Israel, said he continued to run after the suspect and fired several more shots at him after the intruder ran into a nearby ravine and appeared to double back as if to try again to grab the Israeli couple.
“We acted just as we should,” said Israel. “There was a bit of excitement, but it’s very good to hear that they caught him.”
Despite the couple’s successful repulsion of the attack, the suspect initially escaped, but an unspecified number of days later he was taken into police custody. He was remanded in a Haifa court on Thursday.
It would be very unlikely in Israel for a homeowner to be prosecuted for attempting to fend off what he believed to be a potentially lethal attack.
The Israeli news site NRG reported that Hassin had previously served time in prison for trying to stab an Israeli soldier.
According to the indictment which was reported on in the Israeli media Thursday, Hassin admitted to interrogators that he had tried to kidnap Israeli civilians several times during the month of April.
The Palestinian man who was reported to be a member of the Islamic Jihad terror group also admitted to throwing Molotov cocktails at two Israeli cars and tried unsuccessfully to set fire to a wooded area. The indictment said that despite his terrorist group affiliation he was acting as a lone wolf.
In 2000, Israel began constructing a security barrier along its border with the West Bank which dramatically reduced the number of suicide bombings that plagued the country during the 1990s. Pro-Palestinian activists, particularly on U.S. college campuses, call it an “apartheid” wall, claiming it to be a symbol of Israeli discrimination against Palestinians.
An unnamed Shin Bet security source on Thursday warned of the dangers of holes in the fence which allowed Hassin and other infiltrators to illegally enter Israel.
Senator Wants Gov’t to Subsidize Kids’ Meals in the Summer, When School Is OutPosted May 22, 2014 at 9:43 am by Pete Kasperowicz
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) has proposed legislation that allow low-income children who get free and reduced-price lunches at school to get federal nutrition benefits during the summer, when school is out.
Murray said her Stop Child Hunger Act is needed to ensure that these kids don’t go hungry in the absence of federally subsidized lunches during the school year.
“When school is in session, millions of kids from low-income families can get free or reduced-price meals through our National School Lunch Program,” Murray said on the Senate floor Wednesday. “But during the summer, hunger goes up in this country about 34 percent for families with school-aged kids, according to a study.”
Murray noted that the federal government already operates a Summer Food Service Program, which offers reduced-price food for low-income families in certain areas around the country during the summer. But she said that program only reaches about 14 percent of the students who use the federal school lunch program at school.
“That adds up to tens of millions of kids across our country who do not have access to meal programs in the summer,” she said.
Under her bill, eligible families would receive one electronic benefits transfer card per child, and each EBT card would have $150 of food aid benefits on it. Her bill offsets the cost of these new benefit by ending a tax benefit used by some companies with overseas operations.
Current law allows companies to deduct from their taxes any interest payments on debt used to finance the expansion of overseas operations, even before they report related income on those operations. Murray’s bill would require companies to defer these deductions until that foreign income is subject to U.S. taxes.
“From my perspective, that is a pretty fair trade,” she said. “It will encourage companies to keep jobs and profits here in America. At the same time, it will help kids get the nutrition they need during the summer.”
Former Marine Can’t Find a Doctor for His Obamacare Insurance Plan — So He Says the Company Actually Suggested He Just Do ThisPosted May 22, 2014 at 9:36 am by Liz Klimas
A California man has been seeking treatment for Lyme disease, something he contracted while on active duty as a Marine, but he’s having a hard time finding a doctor in the San Francisco Bay area that accepts his insurance.
The insurance company’s advice? Cancel his plan. KPIX-TV, though, says the fact that he can’t find a doctor within a reasonable distance violates state law and nothing appears to be taking place to fix the issue.
The former Marine identified by KPIX by only his first name, Kyle, is covered by Anthem BlueCross through the state exchange Covered California.
“I was on the phone with Anthem for two hours while they were trying to find me a doctor within 20 miles. Finally a supervisor came on the phone and said ‘Sir, we have to go, we have other people to help,’ and advised me I need to cancel my plan,” Kyle told the news station.
KPIX pointed out that California’s law requires insurers to have enough doctors within 15 miles of a patient’s home for them to acquire an appointment in 15 days or less.
When Kyle looks at the list of doctors that Anthem on its website, he said it shows more than 80 doctors within 20 miles, even though in reality he can’t find one.
The news station reported that the state’s Department of Managed Health Care previously said it will look into the matter of insurers being in compliance with an adequate number of doctors, but it declined to comment when contacted again by KPIX regarding the issue and possible fines.
The news station did find records that show Anthem has been fined more than $100,000 since February but not for violations for lack of doctors. The insurance agency told KPIX that it is working on expanding its network and said Kyle’s experience does not sound like something that would come of its customer service.
Covered California’s Dana Howard told KPIX that it has seen “some cases” of people having to switch insurance plans due to a lack of doctors, but she added that they “don’t have a count” of how many nor could they provide the number if they had it.
Watch KPIX-TV’s report about the issue:
Number of Americans Looking for Unemployment Help on the Rise AgainPosted May 22, 2014 at 8:58 am by Becket Adams
Applications for jobless benefits jumped by 28,000 for the week ending May 17, bringing the total to 326,000, down from last week’s revised figure of 298,000, the Labor Department announced Thursday.
The increase comes after the number of Americans looking for unemployment aid fell last week to their lowest levels since May 2007.
The four-week moving average, a “less volatile” figure, fell 1,000 to 322,500, down from last week’s revised figure of 323,500.
There were no unexpected factors that affected this week’s unemployment benefits number, the government said.
“The number of people receiving benefits fell to 2.66 million, the fewest since December 1, 2007, when the recession began,” the Associated Press reported.
“The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.0 percent for the week ending May 10, unchanged from the previous week’s unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending May 10 was 2,653,000, a decrease of 13,000 from the previous week’s revised level,” the Labor Department report reads.
“The previous week’s level was revised down by 1,000 from 2,667,000 to 2,666,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,689,000, a decrease of 5,250 from the previous week’s revised average,” the report added. “The previous week’s average was revised down by 250 from 2,694,500 to 2,694,250.”
The states with the largest increases in initial claims for the week ending May 10 were in Mississippi (+1,183), Georgia (+1,147), Tennessee (+730), Minnesota (+587) and North Carolina (+324).
Meanwhile, California (-7,651), Massachusetts (-2,316), Pennsylvania (-1,408), New York (-1,391) and Florida (-1,230) posted the largest decreases in initial claims.
Markets are poised to open higher Thursday:
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Thai Military Declares Coup, After Saying They Weren’t Staging OnePosted May 22, 2014 at 8:49 am by Associated Press
BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand’s army chief seized power Thursday in a bloodless coup, mounting the country’s 12th military takeover since 1932 in what he called a necessary move to restore stability after nearly seven months of political deadlock and deadly violence.
Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha said a military commission that imposed martial law two days earlier would now take control of the country’s administration. All national broadcasting was suspended and replaced with the commission’s announcements and broadcasts of patriotic music.
The first announcement was a nationwide curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
There was no immediate sign of soldiers patrolling central Bangkok, but troops were deployed to two areas of the capital where competing groups of protesters had gathered, raising fears of street clashes.
“It is necessary for the Peace and Order Maintaining Command — which includes army, navy, armed forces and police — to take control of governing the country,” Prayuth said in the televised announcement, flanked by the heads of the armed forces.
The pivotal development came after Prayuth declared martial law on Tuesday in what he called a bid to resolve the crisis and a day later summoned the country’s rival political leaders for face-to-face talks. Two days of talks failed to break the impasse.
Thailand has been gripped by bouts of political instability for more than seven years.
The latest round of unrest started in November, when demonstrators took to the streets to try to force Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to step down. They accused her of being a proxy for her popular billionaire brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 military coup and now lives in self-imposed exile to avoid a jail sentence on a corruption conviction.
‘A Man of Peace’: Christian Seminary Defends Admission of Muslim StudentPosted May 22, 2014 at 8:44 am by Billy Hallowell
A Baptist seminary is defending the admission of a Muslim student to one of its PhD programs, noting that it was a one-time exception that does not signify a change in school policy.
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, accepted Palestinian student Ghassan Nagagreh to its archeology doctoral program in 2012, though news of the decision is just now making headlines.
“The student was a part of a dig site … and had a great relationship with our folks and wanted to study archeology,” explained Southwestern Baptist spokesperson Steve A. Smith, according to the Christian Post. “The best place to do that, of course, are the top archeology schools, which are in Israel, but he doesn’t speak Hebrew.”
Smith said that the school — the third largest evangelical seminary in the U.S. — “took a great chance” in admitting Nagagreh, noting that it is a one-time decision that does not signify a change in policy.
Considering that the school requires “a mature Christian character” and “evidence [of] a desire for Christian ministry,” among other sentiments, it’s clear that the admission of a Sunni Muslim is truly a rarity.
Southwestern Baptist president Paige Patterson said in statement that it isn’t uncommon for non-Christians to participate in archeological digs alongside the school’s students. That in mind, the seminary came into contact with Nagagreh at Tel Gezer, a dig site in Israel; the student has volunteered there since 2008.
Nagagreh subsequently inquired about studying at the school and after agreeing to abide by its rules, including participating in a weekly congregation and abiding by its moral code, he was admitted.
Southwestern Baptist describes itself as “one of the largest seminaries in the world,” claiming that it “equips men and women with a strong theological foundation to fulfill God’s calling on their lives.”
(H/T: Christian Post)
‘I Just About Vomited’: Texas Man Says He’s Sickened After Hearing Chicago Arab & Muslim Community Praise His Brother’s Terrorist KillerPosted May 22, 2014 at 8:26 am by Sharona Schwartz
Arab and Muslim American organizations – along with radical left-wing academics and a Quaker group – are closing ranks behind a convicted Palestinian terrorist who on Wednesday rejected a plea deal that would have allowed her to avoid a 10-year prison sentence for failing to disclose her terrorist past to U.S. immigration authorities.
The groups, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Arab American Action Network (AAAN), and the United States Palestinian Community Network (USPCN), insist Rasmieh Yousef Odeh, a 66-year-old Chicago woman who was convicted for taking part in a 1969 terrorist bombing that killed two students in Jerusalem, is a simple victim of government profiling and prejudice.
“She has committed no crime and the government has no case,” said Hatem Abudayyeh, executive director of the Chicago-based AAAN where Odeh has served as associate director since 2004.
“The charge brought against her is just a pretext for the continuation of federal law enforcement repression against Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims in this country. This policy attempts to scapegoat and intimidate our community into staying silent and not raising its voice against injustice,” read the statement he released on Wednesday.
Among the community’s efforts on behalf of the woman who reportedly has used up to nine aliases (at her workplace she’s known as “Rasmea Yousef”): the sale of “I support Rasmea” T-shirts, the hiring of buses to bring “hundreds” of Chicago-area supporters to her June 10 trial in Detroit, the solicitation of contributions to her legal defense fund and a letter-writing campaign to the U.S. Attorney in Detroit.
CAIR-Chicago posted this photo of the table where “I support Rasmea” T-shirts were sold.
— CAIR-Chicago (@cairchicago) May 19, 2014
The brother of 21-year-old Eddie Joffe – one of the two victims of the bombing she took part in with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) – lives in Houston and only last week learned she had been living in the U.S. for 20 years. Basil Joffe told the National Review that he was sickened to hear about the praise being heaped upon Odeh by her community.
His brother Eddie and his best friend Leon Kanner were stocking up on groceries for a hiking trip when a can of sweets rigged with dynamite detonated at the Jerusalem supermarket, killing both.
Basil Joffe told National Review that “the body was so badly burned and blackened from the explosion that they could barely recognize it” and that his parents never recovered until the day they died from the devastation of losing their son.
Joffe said “I just about vomited” after hearing the praise being poured on his brother’s killer, particularly the allegation that she’s an innocent victim of discrimination.
“How could they purport to prevent unfair discrimination and stereotyping when one of their [leaders] is a convicted terrorist, murdered people, and is unrepentant? It makes a hypocrisy, a mockery, of what they’re trying to accomplish,” Basil Joffe told National Review.
National Review noted a 2004 documentary film called “Women in Struggle” in which Odeh and one of her co-conspirators in the PFLP attack spoke proudly of their violent activities.
The second woman described the effort put into killing as many Israelis as possible, saying, “We wanted to place two bombs to blow up consecutively. I suggested to have the second bomb go off five or six minutes after the first bomb so that those who get killed in it would be members of the army and secret service, but it did not explode. They defused it 20 seconds before it exploded.”
Given the official glorification of terrorism in the Palestinian Authority, Basil Joffe said he is worried that if she is deported from the U.S. and returns to the region she will receive “a hero’s welcome.”
Odeh was sentenced to life in prison by an Israeli court in 1970 but after ten years was released as part of a PFLP prisoner exchange deal.
Margaret Jackson, the interim regional director of the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker group that supports a boycott of Israel, told National Review of her belief that Odeh’s immigration prosecution is rooted in bigotry. “It just infuriates me that this country continues to discriminate on color and religion and they’re so desperate that they go back into the past to do that,” Jackson said. “As an organization that is almost 100 years old and committed to non-violence, I’m just appalled by this situation.”
The Israeli government will not comment on the case playing out in Detroit, but an Israeli official told TheBlaze on Thursday that U.S. law enforcement officials contacted their Israel counterparts early in the investigation to verify that Odeh was the one involved in the 1969 terrorist attack.
“She was released from jail. That’s a decision we made. We have to live with our decisions, but from that day onwards we’re uninvolved,” said the official who asked to not be named due to the ongoing legal proceedings.
According to an Israeli government summary of terrorist attacks between 1967 and 1993, the PFLP was responsible for numerous terrorist attacks including hijackings, unleashing gunfire at various airports, killing two dozen children at an Israeli school, among their other violent incidents. The PFLP is designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. State Department.
At an event this week in support of Odeh organized by CAIR’s Chicago office, her case was framed as an issue of “criminalizing immigration” and was compared with the 1913 Alien Land Law of California which prevented mostly East Asian immigrants from owning land and the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act which stopped Chinese immigration to the U.S.
One of her lawyers, Jim Fennerty, told the group that she was targeted because she was outspoken, according to CAIR-Chicago’s Twitter updates on the evening.
Another speaker called her case “a continued attack on the Palestinian community in Chicago…to silent dissent.”
She was extolled as a “pillar of the community” in Chicago. One speaker noted that after she was indicted, “she went right back to the ESL class she taught.”
Among the community-based work she has engaged in while in the U.S., Odeh was reported to have been an Obamacare navigator to help citizens register for President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law. National Review which first reported this government work in February pointed out that the Illinois Department of Insurance in November “quietly revoked” Odeh’s certification as an Obamacare aide after it learned about her terrorism conviction.
The Arab-American community outreach network where Odeh currently serves as associate director was tangentially referred to in the widely-read Los Angeles Times’ 2008 report on Obama’s connections in the Arab-American community in Chicago before he was president or even senator. The LA Times reported without mentioning AAAN by name that the organization in 2001 “received a $40,000 grant from a local charity, the Woods Fund of Chicago, when Obama served on the fund’s board of directors.”
In 2010, former UPI White House correspondent and prominent critic of Israel Helen Thomas was keynote speaker at an AAAN fundraiser.
AAAN executive director Hatem Abudayyeh in October called Odeh “a stalwart, an icon,” while in 2013 she received the “Outstanding Community Leader Award” from the Chicago Cultural Alliance.
At a court hearing on Wednesday in Detroit, Odeh rejected a plea deal in her immigration case and fired one of her defense lawyers William Swor who had negotiated a deal with prosecutors that would have limited any jail time to six months and allowed her to remain free in the U.S. for another six months before being deported, the Associated Press reported, noting that this would be “an unusual benefit in an immigration case.”
“I felt this is not in my best interest,” Odeh said in Arabic on Wednesday, adding that she was “looking for a fair trial so I have my full rights.”
Though she resides in the Chicago area, Odeh is being tried in Detroit because that’s where she applied for citizenship.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Tukel told the AP that the plea deal would remain on the table for a short period.
Though most people facing deportation over immigration fraud remain locked up after they serve their sentences until the moment they are deported, Tukel explained that in Odeh’s case the U.S. was willing to allow her to remain free in the U.S. for half a year.
Palestinian and other activists continue to praise her and have organized a fundraising dinner for her this weekend in honor of her birthday.
The Critical Ethnic Studies Association issued a statement last week slamming the U.S. Attorney’s prosecution, likening it to “racial violence against immigrant communities” and the “history of draconian punishment practices that produce anti-Black racism in policing and incarceration.”
The academic group’s statement made no mention of the killings for which she was convicted in Israel, instead stating, “In 1969, Rasmea was arrested by Israeli occupation forces for her community organizing.”
A petition posted in her support on MoveOn.org also failed to note the young men she killed, instead calling the U.S. Attorney’s immigration fraud case “part of an ongoing witch-hunt that targets Arabs and Muslims who criticize U.S. and Israeli policy and labels them ‘terrorists.’”
Painting Odeh as the victim, the petition called her a “political prisoner in Israeli jails” and claimed “she was violently tortured and humiliated.”
“There has already been a massive outpouring of love and support for Rasmea across the U.S. and the world, because people see this prosecution for what it is, a political attack on a 66 year old Palestinian woman who has dedicated her life to progress and social justice for her people and all people. We will stand with her to fight these charges,” said her work colleague Abudayyeh.
Adam Carolla Says He Called Out NPR’s Attempt to ‘Ambush’ Him in Truly Epic Fashion: ‘We’ll See If He Has the Balls to Air It’Posted May 22, 2014 at 8:04 am by Jason Howerton
In preparation for an interview with Adam Carolla, NPR allegedly dug up what the news outlet thought would be controversial audio from the comedian’s podcast. It was apparently a recording of someone doing a highly stereotypical Asian voice.
Carolla says NPR thought it was him. It wasn’t.
The person behind the voice was actually comedian Jo Koy, who just happens to be Asian. Carolla revealed on his podcast Monday that he wasn’t shy about calling out NPR for the poorly planned “gotcha” attempt.
“I said, ‘Well, I appreciate you trying to ambush me, but that wasn’t me. That’s Jo Koy, who happens to be Asian, and the guy, he muttered… ‘Well, that helps.’ We’ll see if he has the balls to air it,” Carolla said.
He also claimed he told NPR to “do your research next time” they want to interview him and insinuate he is racist. The comedian did not identify who at NPR conducted the interview.
It will be interesting to see if that particular segment is included in the NPR interview, which Carolla says has yet to air.
Carolla also addressed his interview with left-leaning Salon.com, which pressed him on the racial makeup of comedians and his feelings about gays. He said it has become common that news outlets attempt to “ambush” him during interviews.
“It’s incredible that you’re doing a finger-pointing thing about you and your stereotypes, but you’re constantly working in the ‘white male’ part,” Carolla said, reflecting on his recent interviews. “I cleaned out f***ing garbage on a construction site. For the love of f***ing christ, I cleaned carpets before that.”
“By the way, I’m you’re worst nightmare. I’m the guy whose mom was on welfare, I’m the guy who got the free lunch meals over at the school, I’m the guy who got the government cheese, and I’m the guy who picked up garbage on the construction sites, and I’m the guy who was told, ‘you can’t be an L.A. fireman because you’re a white male’ … So don’t try to paint me into this white privilege bulls**t … I’m never going to buy into it, I lived it!”
Listen to the segment below (Warning! Some strong language):
Fox News Anchor Arrested at Minnesota AirportPosted May 22, 2014 at 1:12 am by Jason Howerton
ST. PAUL, Minn. (TheBlaze/AP) — An official says Fox News anchor Gregg Jarrett was arrested at a Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport bar for refusing to cooperate with airport police who were called to the scene.
Metropolitan Airports Commission spokesman Patrick Hogan says Jarrett was taken into custody at around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Northern Lights Grill in the main terminal. He says the officers reported that Jarrett seemed intoxicated, acted belligerent and refused to follow orders.
The 59-year-old Jarrett was booked into Hennepin County Jail on a preliminary charge of obstructing the legal process by interfering with a peace officer. His bond was set at $300.
Jarrett recently requested time off from Fox News for “personal reasons,” according to TV Newser.
A court appearance hadn’t been scheduled, and it wasn’t clear late Wednesday whether he had been released.
A Fox News spokesperson confirmed the news in a statement to TheBlaze and said a timetable for Jarrett’s return is not set:
“We were made aware late last night that Gregg Jarrett was arrested in Minneapolis yesterday and charged with a misdemeanor. He is dealing with serious personal issues at this time. A date at which Gregg might return to air has yet to be determined.”
If You Have an eBay Account, You Should Probably Change Your Password NowPosted May 21, 2014 at 11:50 pm by Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — E-commerce site eBay is asking users to change their passwords after a cyberattack compromised a company database containing customers’ names, encrypted passwords, email addresses, physical addresses, phone numbers and dates of birth.
The company said Wednesday that there is no evidence that any financial or credit card information was stolen and no sign that the breach has resulted in unauthorized activity for its 145 million active users.
EBay says its investigation is active and it can’t comment on the specific number of accounts affected, but says the number could be large.
Cyberattackers stole a small number of employee log-in credentials that gave access to eBay’s corporate network, the company said. The San Jose, California-based company is working with law enforcement to investigate the attack.
The database was hacked sometime between late February and early March, but compromised employee log-in credentials were first detected two weeks ago.
EBay owns electronic payment service PayPal, but eBay says there is no evidence PayPal information was hacked, since that data is stored separately.
The attack follows several other high-profile data security incidents, including a massive breach at Target stores and the recent discovery of the “Heartbleed.” computer security flaw. Heartbleed is a point of weakness in a key piece of security technology used by more than 500,000 websites that had been exposing online passwords and other sensitive data to potential theft for more than two years.
And during Target’s data breach last year, hackers stole about 40 million debit and credit card numbers and personal information for 70 million people.
Shares of eBay Inc. fell 8 cents to $51.88 in Wednesday’s trading.
Caught on Camera: Naked Man Jumps Into a Car’s Open Sunroof and Claws at Female DriverPosted May 21, 2014 at 11:00 pm by Liz Klimas
A woman in Dallas is still shell-shocked after she was attacked by a naked man who dove through the sunroof of her moving car Friday.
The attack was actually caught on video by Marcus Payne who lives on the street where the incident took place. At first, WFAA-TV reported, Payne was filming the exposed man below, thinking it was a crazy sight.
It got even crazier when Payne captured the man jumping right through the open sunroof of the unidentified woman’s car and clawed at her violently.
“He jumped in my car and he started attacking me,” the victim told WFAA, asking that she not be named for safety reasons.
“He started choking me, pulling my hair, pulling my eyes, and I couldn’t do anything,” she continued. Her screams were heard on the footage taken of the attack.
Eventually, the car crashed, ultimately causing $3,000 worth of damage.
Dallas police officers were already on the scene when the attack occurred and pounced on the assailant, taking him to the hospital in handcuffs. WFAA reported that authorities think he might have been on drugs.
“I don’t know how much longer that attack would have lasted if they weren’t there,” the victim told the news station, choking up.
KDFW-TV identified the man based on a police report as 23-year-old Nicholas Dyll. The news station reported that prior to attacking the woman in the car, Dyll also went after a woman and her baby on the street, both of whom were not hurt.
Since the attack, the woman said she feels more aware of her surroundings and that it makes her more afraid, “like a prisoner.”
Watch the attack in WFAA’s report:
France Just Dropped Billions on New Trains That Have a Problematic Design FlawPosted May 21, 2014 at 10:30 pm by Becket Adams
France’s national railroad operator, SNCF, spent approximately $20 billion on 2,000 new trains that they just now discovered can’t fit into many of the nation’s existing train stations.
And the French government can’t exactly return the sizable locomotives, Gizmodo reported.
Known as “trains express regionaux,” the new trains are too wide to pass through thousands of stations that they were supposed to be able to service, according to the Guardian.
Why? Because the national rail operator, RFF, relied on station information dating back to only 30 years.
“Unsurprisingly, older stations are a little more… compact. Indeed, it was found that they were so narrow that two of the new trains—which are already being built ready for use in 2016— would be unable to pass alongside each other on adjacent lines,” Gizmodo reported.
Here’s what an RFF spokesperson told The Guardian:
It’s as if you have bought a Ferrari that you want to park in your garage, and you realise that your garage isn’t exactly the right size to fit a Ferrari because you didn’t have a Ferrari before. We discovered the problem a little late … we are making our mea culpa.
And because the French government can’t exactly return the trains, it has agreed to undertake a project valued at nearly $70 million to enlarge nearly 1,300 station platforms throughout the country.
“That’s a fairly hefty proportion of the 8,700 platforms total in France. Add to that the fact that the trains are supposed to enter service in 2016, and it seems that there’s no shortage of engineering work to get underway,” Gizmodo noted.
Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter
House Demands Report From Obama on Efforts to Capture Benghazi AttackersPosted May 21, 2014 at 10:13 pm by Pete Kasperowicz
The U.S. House on Wednesday night quickly approved an amendment to a defense policy bill that would require President Barack Obama to report to Congress on what is known about those who attacked the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi in 2012 — and also what actions have been taken to capture the attackers.
The language also requires Obama to determine whether he has the authority to use force against the attackers, and makes a finding that the attackers still pose a security threat to the United States.
The amendment from Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) was attached to the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a bill that will eventually have to be reconciled in the Senate before it becomes law.
It was passed on the same day that Democrats said they would participate in the House’s Select Committee on Benghazi. It also comes amid ongoing skepticism from Republicans that Obama has done anything to try to find the attackers responsible for the death of four Americans in Benghazi.
Members approved Duncan’s language with no debate, in a broader package of amendments that were okayed after just a few minutes of debate. Another one of those would require the Pentagon to revise its regulations on religious freedom.
Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) said in April that he proposed his amendment because new Air Force regulations limit people’s religious rights.
“This Air Force regulation establishes limits on free speech and religion for those in leadership positions,” Lambor said last month. “The right to free speech and religion is a self-protecting right. It is not grounds for a bystander to silence a leader’s speech simply because the bystander objects to certain opinions.”
Yet another amendment accepted Wednesday came from two Democrats, and would require a report to Congress on crimes against humanity committed by Boko Haram.
The House was expected to debate and move through more than 100 amendments to the NDAA on Wednesday night. Several of these were expected to be approved by voice vote, including language from:
— Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.), prohibiting the Defense Department from spending money to build recreational facilities for detainees in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
— Reps. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) and Ted Yoho (R-Fla.), prohibiting any Defense Department official from using a drone to kill a citizen of the United States, except those who are engaged in combat against the United States.
— Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.), prohibiting the use of funds to implement the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty unless that treaty is ratified by the Senate.
How Some Students Have Allegedly Responded to Bullied Teen’s Suicide Is Downright DespicablePosted May 21, 2014 at 9:45 pm by Dave Urbanski
Even after her apparent suicide last week — which years of bullying allegedly played a role in — 15-year-old Cora Delille could not escape her tormenters.
Some students who reportedly spread rumors about Delille actually showed up at her wake, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
Delille’s friends said they heard a student say she’s happy Delille is dead. A mourning poster placed on Delille’s locker was reportedly ripped apart. And foul messages have been left on Delille’s Instagram page since her death.
A family member found Delille dead after she hanged herself, the Daily Mail said, citing police in Pickerington, Ohio.
Indeed, her suicide note is punctuated by these words: “Thanks for all the pain.”
You might assume that Delille’s handwritten message, which calls out peers who reportedly had been bullying and tormenting the student at Ridgeview Junior High, would help call her tormenters to account — but police say there’s nothing they can do.
“She named like maybe four, maybe five kids. Just first names only,” Pickerington Police Commander Matt Delp told the New York Daily News Tuesday, adding that two were allegedly ex-boyfriends — and the latest reportedly broke up with Delille the night before her death.
Some students said they witnessed the bullying done to Delille — it took the form of verbal swipes in the hallways and during lunch. Friends said they heard girls calling Delille names at a spring dance. But even after police interviewed the peers named on her suicide note, Delp said no charges are anticipated And since the bullying accusations they believe they’ve been able to confirm don’t stretch beyond name-calling, which Delp said isn’t even a misdemeanor, nothing can be done through law enforcement.
Sydney Teal said Delille called her distraught and crying the day before her death.
“She said she couldn’t take much more,” Teal, 14, told the Dispatch. “I didn’t know what to do. I told her I loved her and that I’m here for her.”
And Delille apparently had been battling more than other kids — she also has been upset over her parents’ broken marriage.
“She had a lot of issues going on in her life,” Delp told the Daily News. “Her boyfriend broke up with her, she didn’t know if her mother loved her. There were a lot of other things going on in her life other than bullying.”
Hundreds of students and parents remembered Delille in a candlelight vigil last Friday night — and the idea of taking responsibility for how one treats others was emphasized.
“It’s obviously an issue which we in society need to address,” Delp told the Daily News. “I think it’s human nature to do it, maybe we’re messed up as a species.”
The Sign Is Clear: ‘No Weapons, No Concealed Firearms’ — Why Didn’t These Three Thugs Obey Gun-Free Zone?Posted May 21, 2014 at 9:29 pm by Jason Howerton
Despite a sign posted outside designating the business a so-called “gun-free zone,” three thugs reportedly assaulted restaurant employees during a robbery attempt in Durham, North Carolina, earlier this week.
At around 9 p.m. on Sunday, three men wearing hoodies and armed with handguns invaded a newly-opened barbecue restaurant in Durham through the back door, according to police. The thugs reportedly forced employees to the ground, assaulting two of them. Thankfully, they were not seriously injured.
While the robbery occurred in the kitchen, patrons in the restaurant were able to safely escape through the front door.
Restaurant owner Greg Hatem told WTVD-TV that he’s offering $2,000 for the “arrest and conviction of these guys.”
“We want to make sure our guests and our staff are taken care of,” he said.
Pro-gun advocates have criticized the restaurant’s “gun-free zone” policy and argue allowing citizens to protect themselves in the establishment is a much more effective way to ensure their safety. Second Amendment supporters have repeatedly argued that “gun-free zones” only entice criminals because they know they will likely face minimal opposition.
A recent study out of Purdue University found that all but two mass shootings since the 1950s have occurred in locations where victims were restricted from carrying weapons for self-defense.
Woman Found 10 Years After Kidnapping, Police SayPosted May 21, 2014 at 9:08 pm by Jason Howerton
SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A woman who was 15 when she disappeared from her California home a decade ago has contacted police and told them she was kidnapped by a man who sexually assaulted her, forced her into marriage and fathered a child with her, authorities said Wednesday.
Police have arrested Isidro Garcia, 41, of Bell Gardens, on suspicion of kidnapping for rape, lewd acts with a minor and false imprisonment, according to a statement from the Santa Ana Police Department.
In 2004, when the victim was 15 and had recently arrived in the United States without legal documentation, Garcia was dating her mother and lived with the family, authorities said. The mother suspected that he was sexually abusing her daughter, police said.
In August 2004, Garcia assaulted the mother, drugged the girl and then fled with her to a house in Compton, locking her in a garage, the statement said.
Garcia provided the girl with false identification and used physical and emotional abuse to prevent her from fleeing, police said. Garcia repeatedly told the victim that her family had stopped searching for her and that they would be deported if she tried to leave, the statement said. They also moved frequently to avoid being found, police said.
“Even with the opportunity to escape, after years of physical and mental abuse, the victim saw no way out of her situation and lived a life with Garcia under sustained physical and mental abuse,” police said in a written statement.
In 2007, Garcia got false identification papers for her from Mexico so he could marry her, Santa Ana Police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said. They married at a courthouse, he said.
Those documents were just one instance of what police described as elaborate efforts that Garcia made to hide her age and name.
In 2012, he fathered a child with her.
Garcia secured two jobs for them on a night cleaning crew so he could keep watch over her, authorities said. Bertagna said she tried to escape twice but was severely beaten.
The now-25-year-old woman, whose identity is not being released, first contacted authorities Monday. Police said she came forward to police after finding her sister on Facebook.
She has been reunited with her mother.
It wasn’t clear if Garcia, who has not been formally charged, had an attorney. The case has been presented to the Orange County district attorney’s office for consideration.
His arrest comes just over a year after kidnapping and rape victims Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, three women who had gone missing separately about a decade earlier while in their teens or early 20s, were rescued from a house in Cleveland.
Their captor, Ariel Castro, hanged himself in prison in September 2013 at the beginning of a life sentence plus 1,000 years.
This Southern State Could Get Bilingual Road Signs — The Proposed Second Language Might Surprise YouPosted May 21, 2014 at 8:53 pm by Zach Noble
No, it’s not Spanish.
In a bid to preserve a unique bit of culture, Louisiana legislators have passed a bill that would enable local jurisdictions to post official road signs in two languages: English and “Louisiana French.”
The bill’s author, Democratic representative Stephen Ortego, told the AFP that the bill is meant to protect the legacy of the French settlers who had a profound impact on Louisiana’s history — and whose language was suppressed by an Anglophone majority.
“My grandparents used to speak French in the schoolyard, hidden behind trees, because they didn’t want the teachers to hear,” Ortego said, in French. “But we are at a moment where it’s becoming a right for children to have a bilingual education.”
Ortego said the bill’s inspiration came from a trip he took to New Brunswick, Canada, where roadsigns are in French and English.
New Brunswick lies in the eastern part of Canada that was settled by the French and is sometimes called Acadia; Ortego represents part of a large swathe of Louisiana known as Acadiana, so named for the Acadian settlers who moved from Great White North to the bayou in the 18th century.
Ortego found the connection fitting, saying, ”Our Acadian cousins in New Brunswick were the model for this legislation.”
The bill would not mandate bilingual signage statewide, but rather allows each parish — Louisiana’s equivalent of a county — to opt into a bilingual signage program.
The bill awaits a signature on the desk of Republican governor Bobby Jindal.
Jindal has previously vetoed a similar bill on the grounds that it allowed for more languages than just French and English, the AFP reported; it’s unclear whether the latest bill, limited to English and “Louisiana French,” will pass muster.
The governor’s office did not respond to a request for comment from TheBlaze on Wednesday.
Follow Zach Noble (@thezachnoble) on Twitter
Family Dog Does His Job Protecting Home From an Intruder and Gets a Clue in the ProcessPosted May 21, 2014 at 8:36 pm by Liz Klimas
One of the reasons many people give for getting a large dog is home protection. A Florida family’s mastiff and great dane mix named Jager did his owners proud, when he attacked a person breaking into their home earlier this month.
“I heard a loud crash. My dog started going nuts, and I jumped up ran out and he had somebody by the right arm shaking,” Christopher Ceasario, who had been sleeping in his Deltona, Florida home at the time of the early morning incident, told WKMG-TV.
The intruder was able to break free of the dog and ran away. Investigators using a K-9 unit to track the suspect afterward think he used a getaway car, because they couldn’t track him past the street.
But, Jager’s actions gave authorities at the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office a valuable clue: a bloody hand print. Investigators are conducting DNA analysis on it hoping it could yield more information, but the family mostly thanks the dog for preventing the situation from escalating.
“Who knows what he would have done if my dog didn’t wake up,” Ceasario told the news station.
The Sheriff’s office is offering a $1,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest. According to the police report, the man was skinny and of an unknown race, wearing all black and a face covering. There would be bite marks in his right arm.
“Just watch out. You’re going to get caught one day. You’ll get caught,” Ceasario said.
And perhaps he knows from experience.
Two records — one from 2011 and one for 2012 — appear to show a man with the same name, look and location as Ceasario and note his arrest on these occasions for theft. These records are corroborated by published jail dockets.
‘Why the F*** Did You Guys Shoot Him?’: Video Captures Teen’s Raw Reaction After Witnessing Officers Fatally Shoot ManPosted May 21, 2014 at 8:24 pm by Oliver Darcy
A video shot by a teenager captured footage of California police fatally shoot a man Tuesday — in addition to her raw reaction.
“Why the f*** did you guys shoot him?” Yoanna Prieto, 19, can be heard screaming at officers in the video. “F***ing idiots! You guys are f***ing idiots!”
Watch the footage (content warning: mature content and vulgar language):
Officers had first been called to the scene after a woman reported the unidentified man exposed himself, attempted to force his way into the central California residence and tried to kill her dog.
“Officers found the man walking down the street with gardening shears in his hand,” Salinas police Cmdr. Vince Maiorana, told the Monterey Herald.
“Officers end up talking to this individual, trying to find out what he’s doing and what the situation was based upon the original 911 call,” he continued. “This individual started to wave the gardening shears at the officers. We tried to deploy a Taser; the Taser did not work and as the officers tried to detain this individual, this individual pulled the gardening shears and actually attacked the officers with the gardening shears.
“In response, the officers, fearing for their personal safety, shot this individual and he is now deceased,” Maiorana concluded.
An investigation into the incident is now underway by the department. The district attorney will then complete a separate investigation and will be “the ultimate deciding authority,” Maiorana told the Herald.
Video of the incident quickly went viral after Prieto uploaded video on her personal Facebook page. According to the Herald, she provided the footage to officers before posting the footage online. In her post, she reportedly apologized for her vulgar language.
The video provides a graphic account of the incident, recording the unidentified man’s final moments after being shot multiple times by officers. Maiorana said both cops fired at the man.
“There’s some split-second decisions that have to be made by the officer,” he told the Herald. “When the officer commanded this individual to drop the shears and to get down on the ground, this individual actually attacked the officer with the gardening shears.”
Follow Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) on Twitter
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