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  • Dem. Official to Obamacare Foe: ‘May Your Children All Die from Debilitating, Painful and Incurable Diseases’
    Posted September 20, 2013 at 2:59 pm by Dave Urbanski

    Comments (151)

    On the heels of the house vote to defund Obamacare Friday, the speechwriter and senior communications adviser to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) tweeted her enthusiasm that the GOP could take things all the way:

    Democrat Official Allan Brauer to Obamacare Foe: May Your Children All Die from Debilitating, Painful and Incurable Diseases

    (Credit: Twitter)

    Then Allan Brauer, the elected communications chair for the Democratic Party of Sacramento (Calif.) County, took issue with Carpenter’s sentiments:

    Democrat Official Allan Brauer to Obamacare Foe: May Your Children All Die from Debilitating, Painful and Incurable Diseases

    (Credit: Twitter)

    Twitter users were not pleased by Brauer’s wish:

    Democrat Official Allan Brauer to Obamacare Foe: May Your Children All Die from Debilitating, Painful and Incurable Diseases

    (Credit: Twitter)

    The fact that Brauer insists on his Twitter profile that “Tweets my own, not on behalf of any organization with which I work” doesn’t appear to matter to these folks:

    Democrat Official Allan Brauer to Obamacare Foe: May Your Children All Die from Debilitating, Painful and Incurable Diseases

    (Credit: Twitter)

    Brauer wasn’t having any of it; watch him double down on his point of view (Warning: a bit of rough language ahead):

    Democrat Official Allan Brauer to Obamacare Foe: May Your Children All Die from Debilitating, Painful and Incurable Diseases

    (Credit: Twitter)

    Soon, though, Brauer had a change of heart:

    Democrat Official Allan Brauer to Obamacare Foe: May Your Children All Die from Debilitating, Painful and Incurable Diseases

    (Credit: Twitter)

    And all was reportedly right with the world of the universal health care debate:

    Democrat Official Allan Brauer to Obamacare Foe: May Your Children All Die from Debilitating, Painful and Incurable Diseases

    (Credit: Twitter)

  • ‘Intrusive and Unsettling’: Man Rigs E-Z Pass Toll Tag to Show It Tracks Cars Outside of Tolls
    Posted September 20, 2013 at 2:55 pm by Liz Klimas

    Comments (131)

    A New Jersey man modified his E-Z Pass — a device used to automatically pay highway tolls — to alert him every time his it was being connected to by an outside source. He found it wasn’t just when passing through tolls that his device was being read.

    E Z Pass Shown to Read Cars in New York City Outside of Toll Booths

    Manisha Padhye holds up an E-Z Pass in 2009, in Broadview Heights, Ohio. A New Jersey man recently rigged a device to signal every time his EZ-Pass was read. He found it was being read — tracked — outside of toll booth areas. (Photo: AP)

    The man going by the name Puking Monkey rigged a cow-shaped device to light up and make “moo” sound every time the E-Z Pass’ RFID card was read. The man recorded video of the device being read in non-toll areas and presented his findings at the hacking conference Defcon, which took place in August.

    Here’s a look at how the device works, signaling the E-Z Pass was being read in a toll-less area in the Lincoln tunnel, which connects New York City and New Jersey:

    “Anonymously driving your own vehicle is becoming unattainable with the proliferation of automatic license plate readers (ALPRs) now coming into wide-spread use. Combined with always-on electronic toll tags, smart phone traffic apps and even plain cell phones are adding to this problem. There is little public disclosure of this tracking and little legislation limiting the length of time data is retained, even if it is not involved in any investigation,” Puking Monkey’s abstract for his presentation at Defcon said.

    See how the tag is read again when he is driving from New York City’s Times Square to Madison Square Garden:

    Forbes looked into the issue even further last week (emphasis added):

    A spokesperson for the New York Department of Transportation, Scott Gastel, says the E-Z Pass readers are on highways across the city, and on streets in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island, and have been in use for years. The city uses the data from the readers to provide real-time traffic information, as for this tool. The DoT was not forthcoming about what exactly was read from the passes or how long geolocation information from the passes was kept.

    [...]

    When I talked to the E-ZPass Inter-agency Group — the umbrella association that oversees the use of the pay-toll-paying tags in 15 different states — it said New York is the only state that is employing this inventive re-use of the tags. (That statement will be tested: Puking Monkey lent his hacked pass to a friend going on a road trip to see if it went off unexpectedly in any other states.)

    Kashmir Hill for Forbes also pointed out that the use of an E-Z Pass as a tracking device — outside of its original use for paying tolls — is not included in the terms and conditions.

    Speaking with the company that the city’s DOT is using to make the RFID tags, Hill learned they scramble information so drivers can not be identified when data is being collected.

    “The tag ID is scrambled to make it anonymous.  The scrambled ID is held in dynamic memory for several minutes to compare with other sightings from other readers strategically placed for the purpose of measuring travel times which are then averaged to develop an understanding of traffic conditions,” TransCore spokesperson Barbara Catlin told Forbes in an email. “Travel times are used to estimate average speeds for general traveler information and performance metrics. Tag sightings (reads) age off the system after several minutes or after they are paired and are not stored because they are of no value. Hence the system cannot identify the tag user and does not keep any record of the tag sightings.”

    Still, Forbes reported Puking Monkey calling the practice at Defcon “intrusive and unsettling.”

    This is not the first time E-Z Pass and similar toll payment devices have worried some about tracking. There’s also been suggestions that the devices be used to film activity inside cars as well.

    (H/T: Matawan-Aberdeen Patch via reddit)

  • Christian Hotel Owners Get Death Threats, Will Close After Battle over Denying Room to a Gay Couple
    Posted September 20, 2013 at 2:53 pm by Billy Hallowell

    Comments (207)

    Christian bed and breakfast owners who once famously refused service to a gay couple in the U.K. now claim that they’ve been forced to sell their hotel following a contentious legal battle and ongoing harassment.

    Hazelmary and Peter Bull insist that they have been the victims of vandalism, death threats and website attacks since the 2008 incident. As a result, in addition to the impending loss of the Chymorvah Hotel in Marazion, Cornwall, England, the couple has also grappled with intense anger from their ideological opponents.

    Since denying a room to Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy, a gay couple, they have been forced to pay for legal representation and to compensate Hall and Preddy, all-the-while attracting fewer guests as a result of their stance on homosexuality (the hotel only allows married adults to share a bed).

    “We were optimistic in the spring. Why wouldn’t we be with the summer ahead of us?,” Hazelmary told the Daily Mail. “We have had a better summer than we thought but nowhere near good enough to pay our way. We were not even half-full. We must have been the only place in west Cornwall that had rooms left.”

    Chymorvah Hotel May Shut Down After Hazelmary and Peter Bull Denied Gay Couple a Room

    A screen shot from the hotels’ website

    The lack of business has finally taken its toll — and it’s not all about a lack of finances.

    In an interview with the outlet, the Bulls said that they also had a dead rabbit nailed to their fence and that someone even removed the bolts from the tires on their car. They have also reportedly encountered death threats.

    The Christian Post recaps how the family has found itself in such a difficult emotional and financial position:

    The legal battle traces back to September 2008, when a gay couple, civil partners Steven Preddy and Martyn Hall, booked a double room, but were turned away when the hotel manager, Bernie Quinn, realized the booking had not been made by a heterosexual, married couple.

    The Bulls are conservative Christians and do not permit non-married couples, including heterosexuals, to share a room at their Bed and Breakfast. The B&B website states, “Please note that as Christians we have a deep regard for marriage (being the union of one man to one woman for life to the exclusion of all others). Therefore, although we extend to all a warm welcome to our home, our double bedded accommodation is not available to unmarried couples.”

    While the Bulls will be selling their business, the couple plans to appeal its case. After winning the right to do so by the U.K. Supreme Court, arguments will again be heard on Oct. 9.

    Sticking to one’s values, especially when it comes to business, isn’t always cut and dry, as TheBlaze has shown in the past. Discrimination laws both abroad and in the U.S. don’t always afford the opportunity for Christians to withhold service for same-sex couple and, as homosexuality becomes more accepted, it’s likely these clashes will only intensify.

    Featured Image Credit: Chymorvah Hotel

    (H/T: Christian Post)

  • See the Vicious Punch That Got a College Football Player Thrown Out of a Game
    Posted September 20, 2013 at 2:13 pm by Jonathon M. Seidl

    Comments (85)

    Isaiah Battle may have gotten confused regarding what sport he was playing Thursday night. That’s because the giant Clemson lineman delivered a massive upper cut to the head of North Carolina State’s Jarvis Byrd that would have made Mike Tyson blush.

    During the final minutes of the game between the the two teams, Battle apparently got upset with something either Byrd did or was saying. That’s when he turned to him, wound up, and delivered the blow that knocked Byrd to the ground.

    Clemons player Isaiah Battle ejected for punch to head of Jarvis Byrd

    (Source: YouTube screen shot)

    Not surprisingly, Battle was ejected.

    Here’s how it unfolded on TV:

    “Very disappointed in Isaiah Battle,” Coach Dabo Swinney said after the game. “That can’t ever happen. Really, really disappointed. That’s not Clemson. That’s a lesson for every one of those guys in there, something we talked a lot about in the locker room.”

    But according to Swinney, Battle did try and make up for it.

    “He took ownership,” he said. “He apologized immediately and he apologized to the team.”

    Still, as Deadspin put it: “You can tell he’s smart because he punched the guy who was wearing a helmet.”

    Clemson won 26-14.

    (H/T: Yahoo)

  • The Flaw in Apple’s New Operating System You Need to Know About Before Downloading
    Posted September 20, 2013 at 1:44 pm by Liz Klimas

    Comments (40)

    Tech experts have had relatively good things to say about Apple’s new operating system, but a soldier found a flaw that could make iOS7 users’ content vulnerable to hackers.

    Sharing his info about the security bug with Forbes, Jose Rodriguez, who is living Spain’s Canary Islands, found that swiping his finger in a certain way from the “home” button on the locked screen could bring him to the “control center.” This is a problem should your phone get into the wrong hands, because, as Forbes’ Andy Green said, it gives access to photos, email, Twitter and other applications.

    Watch how Rodriquez gets into the phone or iPad when its screen is locked:

    Green and Rodriguez found the physical hack worked on the older iPhone 5 and iPad. Green wasn’t sure if it worked on the new 5S and 5C, which Apple fans lined up in mass to receive Friday.

    Green did, however, get a statement from Apple saying they were aware of the problem and were preparing a fix in a future update. In the meantime, Green reported this solution users can take themselves:

     A reader points out that anyone hoping to avoid this vulnerability until Apple issues a fix can prevent control center from appearing on their lockscreen by accessing “settings,” then “control center.” Some users are also reporting the trick isn’t working on their phones and tablets, though it may just take a little finesse to figure out the timing.

    Rodriguez told Forbes he finds locked screen bugs in Apple’s system in his free time — locating them in past operating systems as well. But he expects this to be his last as his job will require more of his focus.

    Overall, the feedback about the operating system from experts has been positive.

    “The new mobile operating system is a big visual change, and is likely to feel somewhat disorienting to users upgrading from iOS 6, but in most important ways, it’s not that dissimilar from what you’re used to, and many of the changes are definitely for the best,” TechCrunch’s Darrell Etherington said.

    ios7

    Apple CEO Tim Cook introduces iOS7 mobile operating device at a keynote address during the 2013 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference at the Moscone Center on June 10, 2013 in San Francisco. Users were able to begin downloading iOS7 just this week. (Getty Images/Kim White)

    “It’s not just about the flat design. The first time I laid hands on the new operating system, I felt like I had a new phone, one that looked prettier and, more importantly, felt more useful,” Adam Clark Estes with Gizmodo said.

    Although Wired’s Matt Honan called it a “substantial change,” especially to the look, he doesn’t think it goes “go far enough functionally.”

    The Associated Press contributed to this report

  • Today’s Hot List With Amy Holmes – Sept. 20, 2013
    Posted September 20, 2013 at 1:34 pm by Amy Holmes

    Comments (5)

    See what’s hot today on TheBlaze:

    Links to stories on The Hot List:

    CLIMATE CHANGE SCIENTISTS STRUGGLE OVER HOW TO ADDRESS RECENT SLOWDOWN IN GLOBAL WARMING

    SYRIAN OPPOSITION GROUP’S DIRE WARNING: AL QAEDA-LINKED REBEL FIGHTERS ARE ‘STRENGTHENING THEIR POSITIONS’

    MOM OUTRAGED AFTER SCHOOL FORCES SON TO REMOVE THIS SUPPOSED ‘THREATENING’ DUCK DYNASTY SHIRT

     

    Tweet Amy here!

  • Professor Who Sent Shocking Anti-NRA Tweets After Navy Yard Shooting Placed on ‘Indefinite’ Leave
    Posted September 20, 2013 at 1:05 pm by Becket Adams

    Comments (126)

    A journalism professor at the University of Kansas has been put on “indefinite” administrative leave after he made controversial remarks about the “sons and daughters” of National Rifle Association members after Monday’s mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard.

    SUSPENDED: University Reacts to Prof. Who Went Off on NRA After Navy Yard Shooting

    Kansas University professor was placed on “indefinite administrative leave” on Friday.

    Bernadette Gray-Little, the university’s chancellor, announced the decision about David Guth Friday morning, KMBZ-TV reported.

    “In order to prevent disruptions to the learning environment for students, the School of Journalism and the university, I have directed Provost Jeffrey Vitter to place Associate Professor Guth on indefinite administrative leave pending a review of the entire situation,” the chancellor said. “Professor Guth’s classes will be taught by other faculty members.

    As of this writing, it is unclear whether Guth will continue to collect a paycheck in the interim.

    In a tweet Monday, Guth implied that he wanted to see the next mass shooting happen to people connected to the NRA.

    “The blood is on the hands of the #NRA,” Guth, an associate professor at the university’s William Allen White School of Journalism, posted. “Next time, let it be YOUR sons and daughters. Shame on you. May God damn you.”

    SUSPENDED: University Reacts to Prof. Who Went Off on NRA After Navy Yard Shooting

    The higher education news site Campus Reform made contact with Guth Wednesday to ask him about the tweet and whether he thought it was a bit over the top.

    “Hell no, hell no, I do not regret that Tweet,” he said. “I don’t take it back one bit.”

    He added: “A pox on our Congress and a pox on the NRA” for not passing stricter gun laws.”

    “It absolutely appalls me that after Newtown, we could not have come to some kind of sane agreement on something as simple as the number of bullets in a magazine or the availability of assault weapons,” he said.

    Guth later took to his blog to explain his anti-NRA tweet: “I don’t wish what happened today on anyone. But if it does happen again — and it likely will — may it happen to those misguided miscreants who suggest that today’s death toll at the Navy Yard would have been lower if the employees there were allowed to pack heat.”

    Timothy C. Caboni, vice chancellor for public affairs, in a statement Thursday characterized Guth’s tweet as “repugnant and in no way represent the views or opinions of the University of Kansas.”

    “Like all Americans, he has the right under the First Amendment to express his personal views and is protected in that regard,” Caboni said. “But it is truly disgraceful that these views were expressed in such a callous and uncaring way. We expect all members of the university community to engage in civil discourse and not make inflammatory and offensive comments.”

    Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter

    Featured image via the Associated Press.

  • Thug with a Gun Gets a Big Surprise When Target Refuses to Be a Victim
    Posted September 20, 2013 at 12:53 pm by Becket Adams

    Comments (214)

    A North Carolina man wasn’t supposed to fight back when another man pulled a gun on him.

    But Charles Edward Parker, 38, didn’t feel like being a victim that day. He said he actually wrestled the gun from his assailant and shot him in the leg.

    The accused aggressor, Ever Enciso Castaneda, 25, was arrested and faces charges of misdemeanor assault by pointing a gun and misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon, the Hickory Record reported.

    Tables Turned: Armed Would Be Assailant Suddenly Becomes Disarmed Would Be Assailant

    Ever Enciso Castaneda (WSOC-TV)

    Oddly enough, Parker said he had just met Castaneda for the first time earlier that day at a local Jack in the Box. The two started talking and then decided to walk to a nearby gas station to some beer, Investigator Dustin Nowatka with the Hickory Police Department said.

    They bought the beer and then headed back to Castaneda’s home. That’s when Parker said he got a bad feeling about the entire situation and decided to bail. Then things turned serious.

    “I hate to have to do this to you,” Castaneda reportedly said as he pulled a gun on Parker.

    The would-be victim said he jumped into action, wrestling the gun away from his assailant. Parker said he fired a warning shot at the ground, but that didn’t deter the previously armed stranger.

    So Parker put a round in Castaneda’s leg.

    Police were quickly called to the scene by neighbors who saw the fight and heard the shots. When law enforcement officials arrived, they found Parker holding the .38-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun they said Castaneda had planned to use on him.

    Tables Turned: Armed Would Be Assailant Suddenly Becomes Disarmed Would Be Assailant

    Ever Enciso Castaneda, 25, has “38″ tattooed on his chin. He was shot with a .38-caliber Smith & Wesson (WSOC-TV)

    Castaneda was taken to a hospital where he told investigators that he was shot by a man in his neighborhood. He refused to tell them anything else. The hospital released Castaneda on Monday and police arrested him Wednesday morning. He posted a $500 secured bond.

    Parker’s story was quickly verified by police after they reviewed surveillance footage of the area. The 38-year-old North Carolina man was not charged in the incident.

    An investigation into the shooting is ongoing.

    Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter

    Featured image WSOC-TV.

  • Remember the Gun-Toting, ‘F**k All You Libtards’ Police Chief from PA? The City Council Voted to Fire Him
    Posted September 20, 2013 at 12:42 pm by Mike Opelka

    Comments (90)

    *WARNING: The video in this story contain graphic, profane, and offensive language.*

    Since July 24th, automatic-weapon-toting Gilberton, PA, Police Chief Mark Kessler has been in hot water when his uncensored videos saying things like “F**k all you libtards, went viral. Now we’ve learned the sage continues: the Gilberton Borough Town Council has voted to terminate Kessler.

    Police chief Mark Kessler fired after posting vulgar, anti liberal videos

    (Source: YouTube screen shot)

    The council’s vote to remove the borough’s only full time law officer followed a closed-door disciplinary hearing that reportedly examined some other allegations about Kessler’s conduct that were unrelated to the gun videos. It comes about a month and a half after he was suspended initially and about three weeks after he was suspended indefinitely.

    Kessler’s attorney, Joseph Nahas, said the charges were trumped up to conceal the town’s intent to fire Kessler over the videos, The Associated Press reports. He said after the vote he’ll request a public hearing at which both sides can call witnesses, as is Kessler’s right under due process rules. The council would then have to vote a second time to fire Kessler.

    The AP is also reporting that Kessler told members of the press that he’d broken no laws: “None. I’d be in handcuffs.”

    Still, Kessler said the council’s decision was “no surprise.”

    “We knew it was coming,” he told the AP.

    But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t stand by what he did.

    “My message was to wake up the people who are independents,” he added, “to say, ‘We’ve had enough and something needs to change, because we’re in bad shape all around. Not only here in this little town but across the nation. It’s a mess.’”

    Earlier this summer when the videos first broke, Mayor Mary Lou Hannon, in a phone call with TheBlaze, said she considered it a “free speech” issue. In a ringing endorsement, she said, “If you were in trouble, he’s the kind of guy you would want by your side, protecting you. He’s a no-nonsense police officer.”

    If you are unfamiliar with the videos that attorney Nahas claims are the real reason for the attempted firing of his client, here’s the one that started it all [content warning]:

    Kessler’s YouTube channel has more than 50 videos posted, generating hundreds of thousands of clicks. However, under closer examination, only a handful of the clips earn more than a few hundred views. One of the most controversial videos featured Chief Kessler in his official uniform shooting a clown target that he constantly refers to as “Nancy Pelosi.”

    Pelosi as a clown

    Image: YouTube

    Shortly after initial Blaze story was posted, that video was changed from “public” to “private” status.

    video is private

    Image: YouTube

    TheBlaze has reached out both Kessler’s attorney and Mayor Hannon for additional comment. We will update the story with information about the public hearing and a second vote that will ultimately determine if the police chief keeps his job or is terminated.

    LIKE TheBlaze on Facebook

    Follow Mike Opelka on Twitter – @stuntbrain

  • 27 Pics Showing All Stages of the iPhone Hoopla: Massive Lines, Cheering & Victory
    Posted September 20, 2013 at 12:20 pm by Liz Klimas

    Comments (46)

    It’s that time of year again. At Apple stores around the world, fans have been lined up for hours — if not days — to get their hands on a new iPhone 5C or 5S.

    These pictures from around the world show the iPhone hoopla in all stages — from the lines to the cheering to the in-store excitement to the moment new 5C or 5S owners emerge victorious with their prize.

    And then there’s this photo from TheBlaze’s Deputy Managing Editor Jon Seidl, showing how the scene looked in Dallas, Texas, outside a Sprint store early this morning.

    iphone wait sprint store

    Two lonely chairs sit outside a Dallas Sprint store September 20, the day the new iPhones were made available to the public. (Photo: Jon Seidl/TheBlaze)

    We’re guessing the true fanatics are heading to Apple stores to experience the new iPhone release in all its hours — and for some days — of glory.

  • ‘Get Your Finger Out of My Face!’: Hannity Segment Erupts Into Shouting Match, Insults and the Doling Out of ‘Happy Candy’
    Posted September 20, 2013 at 12:13 pm by Billy Hallowell

    Comments (289)

    If history was any indicator, Thursday night’s on-air exchange between radio show host Bill Cunningham and Fox News analyst Tamara Holder was destined to devolve into utter chaos.

    Facing off once again on Fox News’ “Hannity,” the conversation was supposed to be about the debt ceiling, but ended up erupting in finger-pointing, shouting, a comparison to actress Farrah Fawcett and the doling out of “Hannity happy candy.”

    While the host opened with a question about the nation’s finances, Holder re-routed, having brought some goodies along with her in what Mediaite assumed was a peace offering. But it didn’t take long before some negative quips led the on-air duo toward another bombastic clash.

    “I feel like conservatives are so angry,” Holder said, going on to reference their fight earlier this summer. “I think this is a proper opportunity for you to apologize, not to me, but to the viewers for taking your attack personally.”

    “Really?” Cunningham responded.

    Radio Show Host Bill Cunningham and Fox News Analyst Tamara Holder Battle on Hannity | Debt Ceiling

    (Photo Credit: Fox News)

    Holder offered up her “Hannity happy candies” and said that guests owe it to the viewers to focus on the issues and to not be so angry.

    And that’s when the floodgates really opened.

    When Hannity finally refocused the guests on the debt ceiling, Holder noted that President George W. Bush raised the limit eight times during his presidency.

    In issuing the factoid, she was attempting to highlight the disparity between the compliant reaction among many during those times and the angry responses coming now from some conservatives.

    “This woman has lost her mind. There’s no question about that. Let me help you with math,” Cunningham said, going on to say that the national debt has increased monumentally from almost $10 trillion to nearly $20 trillion under Obama. “Is 20 greater than 10, Tamera? Earth to Tamera. Is 20 greater than 10.”

    That was apparently Holder’s breaking point.

    “Are you talking me like I’m an alien or because I didn’t go to Catholic school,” she said (Cunningham had mentioned that he had a Catholic education earlier in the debate).

    Rather than back away from what was certainly shaping up to be yet another epic clash, Cunningham responded that Holder doesn’t look like a Catholic girl.

    To say that the liberal commentator didn’t appreciate the quip is an understatement.

    “What do I look like?” she asked, with Cunningham wasting no time in responding.

    “Farrah Fawcett wannabe,” he rebutted.

    Holder, seemingly besides herself, turned to Hannity and claimed that her right-leaning opponent is representative of a typical conservative who bashes people on the basis of their views. As for Cunningham, he was still stuck on his previous comments.

    “Farrah Fawcett. What’s wrong with Farrah Fawcett?” he asked.

    When, again, Hannity brought the conversation on track, the two couldn’t help themselves. They just kept going at it. “Get your finger out of my face!” Holder snapped. “You live in some alternative universe,” charged Cunningham.

    The epic and uncomfortable exchange is below:


    (H/T: Mediaite)

  • GOP Rep. Gives Al Sharpton a Constitutional Lesson During On-Air Battle — But Was He Right?
    Posted September 20, 2013 at 11:51 am by Billy Hallowell

    Comments (172)

    Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) and Al Sharpton clashed on MSNBC Thursday night while debating Republican-led efforts to defund Obamacare. While much of the conversation was characterized by the typical partisan bickering on the health care front, one point of contention in the back-and-forth stands out.

    At one point, Sharpton asked how defunding efforts square with democratic ideals. The congressman responded by attempting to correct the “Politics Nation” host — he said the U.S. government is actually a republic.

    “What people don’t understand, congressman, is how we pass laws the Supreme Court upholds and you guys come in and say, ‘We’re not going to fund it and even worse, if money goes there, we’ll shut the whole government down,’” Sharpton said. “We thought we lived in a democracy. … Come on, congressman. That’s not what the country is supposed to be about.”

    This Isnt a Democracy: Sharpton Spars With GOP Rep. Over Whether U.S. is a Democracy or a Republic

    Rev. Al Sharpton, founder and president of the National Action Network, spoke at the Let Freedom Ring ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013, in Washington, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. (AP)

    And that’s when Collins decided to counter Sharpton’s framing of U.S. government affairs.

    “Hey Al, just a reminder, this isn’t a democracy. This is a republic,” he rebutted.

    Sharpton, clearly surprised by the connotative debate he found himself in, responded with indignation, “Oh, this is not a democracy?”

    That’s when Collins told Sharpton to take a look at the Constitution.

    “I really hope the people in the ninth district know in the next election they should not vote thinking this is a democracy. That Doug Collins says this is not a democracy,” Sharpton said. “I’ll even send you the clip so you can play it in your next campaign.”

    Watch below, via MSNBC:

    So, who’s correct?

    Let’s take a brief look at how Encyclopedia Brittanica defines democracy: “literally, rule by the people. The term is derived from the Greek dēmokratiā, which was coined from dēmos (“people”) and kratos (“rule”) in the middle of the 5th century bc to denote the political systems then existing in some Greek city-states, notably Athens.”

    And Dictionary.com defines it as “a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.”

    A republic, in contrast, is defined by Brittanica as follows:

    form of government in which a state is ruled by representatives of the citizen body. Modern republics are founded on the idea that sovereignty rests with the people, though who is included and excluded from the category of the people has varied across history. Because citizens do not govern the state themselves but through representatives, republics may also be distinguished from direct democracy, though modern representative democracies are by and large republics.

    Some might argue that Sharpton and Collins were splitting hairs. After all, isn’t the difference between a republic and a democracy really just rooted in semantics? Not exactly, as the definitions highlight. Take for instance the following governmental description from TruTV:

    America is technically not a democracy — it’s a republic. You may remember: “And to the republic for which it stands” In a true democracy, every single citizen is eligible to vote on every single issue — it would be like having referendums every day. In a constitutional republic (which the U.S. is), citizens elect leaders to make those decisions for them. And on a side note, back in 1776, democracy was a dirty word, the way terrorism is today, and the Founding Fathers wouldn’t have been able to rally support for a new democratic nation.

    Still, some would side with Sharpton — or at least see his point — noting that the U.S. is also a “representative democracy” (but not a direct democracy). Using the word “democracy” in this case wouldn’t necessarily be entirely incorrect then.

    So, there you have it. The denotative battle over governance continues.

    (H/T: Politico)

  • House Votes to Defund Obamacare, Keep Gov’t Running
    Posted September 20, 2013 at 11:35 am by Becket Adams

    Comments (197)

    The U.S. House of Representatives voted 230 -189 Friday morning to strip all funding from Obamacare, the 42nd vote of its kind to come to the floor.

    “This is hurting our constituents. This is hurting the American people,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told reporters afterward, surrounded by fellow House Republicans.

    House Votes to Defund Obamacare, Keep Govt Running

    House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) (AP)

    The short-term funding is designed to prevent a partial government shutdown when the federal budget year ends Sept. 30. The bill will allow for an increase in the nation’s debt limit — but only if President Barack Obama’s signature health care law is defunded.

    The bill will now head to the U.S. Senate where Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will most likely remove the provision that defunds Obamacare. Senate Democrats have referred to the House measure as a huge “waste of time.”

    House Votes to Defund Obamacare, Keep Govt Running

    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks with reporters about the looming deadline to fund the government and the fight among House Republicans on a strategy, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013 (AP)

    And even if the bill manages to make it out of the Senate with the defund portion intact (which seems extremely unlikely), the White House promises it will veto the bill.

    It is now up to Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who really created this whole “defund” movement, and a handful of other Senate Republicans to see how their legislative body approaches the House-approved bill.

    Here’s a basic breakdown of how the House voted Friday morning [via the Washington Post]:

    Final tally: 230 to 189

    How many Republicans voted for the bill?: 228

    How many Democrats voted against the bill?: 188

    How many Republicans voted against the bill?: 1

    How many Democrats voted for the bill?: 2

    How many lawmakers didn’t vote?: 14

    How many seats are vacant?: 2

    Which Republican voted against the budget plan?: Rep. Scott Rigell (Va.)

    Which Democrats voted for the budget plan?: Reps. Jim Matheson (Utah) and Mike McIntyre (N.C.)

    And here’s a complete breakdown of the House vote:

    Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter

    Featured image Getty Images.

  • The Stunning Reason This Former NFL Player Quit and Walked Away From His Fame and Fortune
    Posted September 20, 2013 at 11:23 am by Billy Hallowell

    Comments (78)

    Former Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Christian Ballard, 24, is speaking out about why he left the NFL in the prime of his career.

    No, it wasn’t a scandal and it certainly wasn’t an illness. In an interview with USA Today, Ballard said that he simply “wasn’t living right” and that his career was creating some major barriers in his personal life.

    While most people might relish the fame and fortune that a robust NFL career brings, Ballard didn’t have that same experience.

    “I wasn’t really having a good time playing football. It wasn’t fun for me. It wasn’t a blast for me,” he told USA Today. “Making that much money — that was fun. But money is still a material thing. You can always make money.”

    Wasnt Living Right: The Stunning Reason Minnesota Vikings Defensive Tackle Christian Ballard Walked Away From the NFL

    Former Minnesota Vikings defensive end Christian Ballard (99) walks off the field after the fourth quarter of an NFL football game against the St. Louis Rams Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in St. Louis. The Vikings won 36-22. (AP)

    After quitting the team last month, Ballard married girlfriend Victoria Hallenbeck on Aug. 30 and started going back to church — something he hasn’t done in at least four years. He’s also spending more time with his 3-year-old son from a previous relationship.

    “I’m not saying that I left the NFL (and) now everything is just fine. It’s not. There’s still a lot of lot of things I’ve got to work on – obviously – as being a husband and a father,” Ballard told the outlet.

    Last week, Ballard and his wife were both arrested for domestic battery. The L.A. Times reported: “Police arrested Ballard and Hallenbeck, for domestic battery after an argument at their Lawrence, Kan. apartment. They were released after 29 hours in jail with no charges filed because neither had any physical injury and they were considered mutual aggressors.”

    Despite this setback, the former NFL player seems intent on moving forward in every area of his life.

    Wasnt Living Right: The Stunning Reason Minnesota Vikings Defensive Tackle Christian Ballard Walked Away From the NFL

    Former Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Christian Ballard. (AP)

    Stepping outside of the NFL world, he’s also planning to get a graduate degree after finishing his undergraduate studies in art this year. While USA Today said he’s not ruling out a return to football, Ballard is clear that the sport just wasn’t working out for him, as the player said that the fame and fortune made him selfish and complacent.

    His mother, Denise, told the newspaper his decision to leave didn’t surprise her.

    “Christian is Christian and he walks to his own beat. Always has,” she said of her son. “I know there’s not a ton of football players out there that play the cello. He looks at life from a very different perspective.”

    Ballard echoed these sentiments.

    “Don’t get me wrong — there are tons of people who play in the NFL and are strong believers in the Lord and they have a great lifestyle. But for me, it wasn’t really working out,” he said.

    (H/T: USA Today)

  • Coca-Cola Forced to Apologize After Customer Turns Over Bottle Cap and Finds This Message
    Posted September 20, 2013 at 11:04 am by Becket Adams

    Comments (243)

    Coca-Cola apologized this week to a customer in Alberta, Canada, after she found a rude message written on her bottle cap. But almost as surprising is the explanation for it.

    Blake Loates cracked open her Vitaminwater only to be greeted by the words “YOU RETARD.”

    She said the cap was particularly hurtful because her younger sister, Fiona, has cerebral palsy and autism, according to Metro Calgary.

    Coca Cola Issues Apology After Canadian Customer Find This Rude Message on Bottle Cap

    Image source: ABC News

    Loates’ father, who lives in Tacoma, Wash., responded by writing Coca-Cola an angry letter.

    What would you do if you opened up your bottle of Vitamin Water and on the bottom of the lid it read, “YOU RETARD”?” Doug Loates wrote. “Think about it. I bet you’d be pissed off if you had a Fiona in your life… Can you imagine if SHE had opened this bottle?”

    But Coca-Cola says there’s an explanation for the goof-up. The company says the cap was the result of a random pairing of an English and French word. See, “retard” means “late” or “delayed” in French. So the cap was most likely supposed to say “you’re late.”

    “The word’s English connotation was missed during the review process,” said a spokesperson.

    “We have spoken to the family to offer our sincerest apologies and to explain the production process to them,” Shannon Denny, director of brand communications for Coca-Cola Refreshment Canada, told ABC News.

    “This is certainly not an excuse in any way for what has occurred. We wanted them to know that this was in no way intentional and was a mistake on our part during the review process. We also wanted to share that the promotion has since been cancelled and we are no longer producing bottles with those caps,” Denny said.

    Denny said the company plans to post an apology to social network sites including Facebook and Twitter.

    “It was never our intention to offend anyone with this promotion,” said Denny. “This was a mistake during the review process and we are taking steps to investigate and rectify the situation. We hope that our consumers can accept our profound apologies.”

    Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter

    Featured image Getty Images.

  • Pelosi: Republicans Hate Obama Because He’s ‘Brilliant’ and ‘Completely Eloquent’
    Posted September 20, 2013 at 10:41 am by Madeleine Morgenstern

    Comments (296)

    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Republican animosity toward President Barack Obama is because he’s “brilliant” and “completely eloquent.”

    Pelosi: Republicans Hate Obama Because Hes Brilliant and Completely Eloquent

    AP

    “You know why it is,” Pelosi told Politico when asked about the level of hostility the GOP has for Obama. “You know why it is. He’s brilliant, he has a vision for our country. He’s brilliant, his knowledge of the issues and judgment about what the right path would be. Respectful of other people’s views, he thinks in a strategic way in how to get something done and sustain an initiative by having as much support for it as possible. And he’s completely eloquent. That’s a package that they don’t like.”

    Pelosi also praised Obama as being “practically apolitical” and “certainly nonpartisan.”

    “I think that’s one of the reasons the Republicans want to take him down politically, because they know he is a nonpartisan president, and that’s something very hard for them to cope with,” she told Politico.

  • German Economic Experts Ready to Pull the Plug on Costly Clean Energy Industry
    Posted September 20, 2013 at 10:18 am by Becket Adams

    Comments (50)

    Germany’s top economic advisers and business leaders are saying it’s time to stop pouring money into “clean energy” production.

    Their reason: It’s too expensive and there’s little return on investment.

    “We need a drastic policy shift,” said Christoph Schmidt, chairman of Germany’s Council of Economic Experts. “They haven’t paid any attention to costs. These are now huge.”

    Germany has long vowed to wean itself off of fossil fuels, but the cost of doing so has soared and it is expected to top roughly $1.3 trillion by 2030.

    “It is a worthwhile goal, and the whole world is looking to see whether Germany can do it, so we can’t fail. But there have been so many mistakes,” Schmidt told the Daily Telegraph.

    He stressed the country doesn’t have room to experiment with costly ventures as its own growth “speed limit” has dropped to one percent. And that’s on top of the fact that Germany is the most economically stable and profitable county in the EU.

    The BDI, the country’s influential and powerful industry federation, agrees: “green romanticism,” as the Telegraph puts it, is wreaking havoc on Germany’s power supply.

    German Leaders Ready to Pull Plug on Costly Clean Energy Industry

    “The rising surcharge placed on German household and SME bills to pay for renewable energy projects,” the Telegraph notes.

    “The international competitiveness of German industry is in danger,” the group said in a new report, stressing that clean energy costs have become unacceptable.

    The group also criticized the country’s preference for subsidizing wind and solar energy, calling for an eventual end to the practice altogether. The BDI said Germany needs to invest in a strategic reserve of fossil fuels to ensure that the country can stay up and running.

    “The government’s policy is not joined up,” BDI chief Markus Kerber said.

    The group says the country needs to act immediately to address its “urgent concerns,” according to Handelsblatt.

    Germany’s affair with “green romanticism” has not been pretty. The country’s energy costs are more than any other country in Europe and they are twice U.S. levels.

    German taxpayers are getting fed up with having to help subsidize exempted “clean” business.

    “Spiraling energy costs will soon drive us into the wall. It has become dangerous,” the German Chemical Industry Association said.

    EU’s energy commissioner Günther Oettinger has called for a revolution in Germany’s energy strategy.

    “We need industry; we cannot be the good guys for the whole world, if no one follows suit,” he said.

    Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter

    Featured image Getty Images.

  • Is This Woman Being ‘Selfish’ or Healthy Doing CrossFit While 8 Months Pregnant?
    Posted September 20, 2013 at 9:53 am by Liz Klimas

    Comments (115)

    An avid CrossFit fan who continued her weightlifting workouts just a few weeks from delivering a baby is being lambasted by commenters after she posted photos showing herself pumping iron, bearing her heavily pregnant belly.

    Photos of Lea Ann Ellison Doing CrossFit Pregnant Spark Controversy About Exercise

    “Eight months pregnant with baby number 3 and CrossFit has been my sanity. I have been CrossFitting for 2 1/2 years and … strongly believe that pregnancy is not an illness, but a time to relish in your body’s capabilities to kick a**.” (Photo: Nick Stern, Caption: Lea-Ann Ellison via CrossFit/Facebook redacted by TheBlaze)

    The photo shows Lea-Ann Ellison, pregnant with her third child, squatting with a weighted bar raised above her head. It has 16,900 likes and more than 2,800 shares as of Friday after being posted Sunday, Sept. 15 on CrossFit’s Facebook page.

    But it has been met with some strong criticism. Here’s a look at just a few of the negative comments on the photo:

    • Shawn Tassone: Actually not a good thing to do at 8 months. The added intrabdominal pressure isn’t safe and its not good to promote this. Weights are fine but this is just plain silly
    • Natalie Rose: This is shocking and not in a good way. Lifting heavy things during pregnancy is dangerous to you and your baby. Especially being that far along and over your head.
    • John Gervais: This is EXACTLY what cross-fit SHOULD NOT BE! I have seen women nearly miscarry due to excessive exercise in the last trimester. This isn’t her staying healthy, this is her being selfish and putting her “looking good” over the health of her baby.
    • Rhiannon Gamble: Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
    • Ava Szlamas: This Is not “cool” or “brave” – this is ignorant and selfish! Pregnancy is a time to take care of your body, and be gentle. Not test it to the limits. This woman is a disgrace and sets a poor example of CF and fitness.
    • Stephanie Hamblin: Not safe, accidents happen. It’s best to put your baby’s safety first.
    lea-ann ellison

    Lea-Ann Ellison lifting weights while in her third-trimester. She was photographed for an article in In Touch Weekly. (Photo: Nick Stern via Lea-Ann Ellison/Facebook)

    Others though have jumped to Ellison’s defense. Here are some of those comments:

    • Donna Whitfield: Just left the gym… I love when I see a woman expecting working out. It say’s she cares about herself and her baby.
    • Fräu Laura Shultz: You’re children are healthy and look happy. And this little one will be the same. You know your limitations and I’m sure you would never risk the well being of your unborn child. Keep doing what your doing :0) Many Blessings to you and yours!!
    • Marc Knapp: Thousands of women a day choose have abortions and no one bats an eye… A woman chooses to crossfit while pregnant and everyone loses their minds!
    • Sarah Hamilton Reed: I did crossfit past my due date. Had a baby in under 2 hours, went home 24 hrs later, and cooked dinner. Thank You crossfit for strong pelvis, legs and heart. And I WAS ABLE TO CARE FOR MY BABY BETTER post birth because I was physically in better shape than most post birth women. All se has todo is listen to her body and stop when it says too.

    But what’s the medical perspective on the actions of the woman who lists her religious views as “Love thyself first”?

    “Unless you’re experiencing serious complications, sitting around won’t help,” the MayoClinic stated on its website.

    Aside from helping keep the mother healthy and feeling good, exercise can have positive effects on the baby as well.

    The MayoClinic does use some words of caution for mothers who did not exercise before pregnancy, saying they should work up to it. But for women who were active before, it says “you can probably continue to work out at the same level while you’re pregnant — as long as you’re feeling comfortable and your health care provider says it’s OK.”

    Dr. Brittany Stofko, an obstetrician with Penn Medicine echoed that sentiment about pregnancy exercise to the Huffington Post.

    Ellison responded to criticism by changing her profile picture to this (below):

    lea-ann ellison profile picture

    Ellison’s new profile picture. (Photo via Lea-Ann Ellison/Facebook)

    Ellison explained on her Facebook page, which has more photos of the mother lighting weights, that the images were taken by Nick Stern for a feature in In Touch Weekly about pregnant woman exercising.

    lea-ann ellison crossfit

    The photos of Lea-Ann have received both negative and positive comments, sparking a debate about what is healthy exercise for pregnant women. (Photo via Lea-Ann Ellison/Facebook)

    “I had NO IDEA what a stir this would create…. It makes me feel proud and loved and STRONGER!!!! Thank you also to the haters who continue to prove their weak minded, self hatred toward strong powerful women,” Ellison said in a comment on her viral photo.

    Let us know what you think about this situation by taking our poll:

    (H/T: Daily Mail)

  • Climate Change Scientists Struggle Over How to Address Recent Slowdown in Global Warming
    Posted September 20, 2013 at 9:19 am by Liz Klimas

    Comments (113)
    • The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will release its fifth climate assessment report next week and is expected to address the growing attention to the last 15 years of data, which some use to show that surface warming has slowed. 
    • A draft of the report obtained ahead of its publication by the AP suggests governments are having a hard time agreeing on how to discuss this issue. 
    • “I think to not address it would be a problem because then you basically have the denialists saying, ‘Look, the IPCC is silent on this issue.” – Alden Meyer, Union of Concerned Scientists.
    • Scientists say although the rate of warming has slowed in the last decade, the globe is still heating up. They say heat energy is currently being sequestered in the oceans and will someday be released, leading to further surface warming. 
    thermometer

    In the last 15 years, the rate of surface warming has slowed, but scientists say the heat is being stored in the oceans instead, cautioning against those who say global warming has “paused.” An upcoming report also says it’s “extremely likely” that human activity contributed to more than half of the warming since 1950. (Photo: Shutterstock.com)

    STOCKHOLM (TheBlaze/AP) — Scientists working on a U.N. report on climate change are struggling over how to address a wrinkle in the meteorological data that has been picked up by global-warming skeptics. This being that the heating of Earth’s surface appears to have slowed in the past 15 years even though greenhouse gas emissions keep rising.

    For years, so-called “climate skeptics” have touted what looks like a slowdown in surface warming since 1998 to cast doubt on the scientific consensus that humans are cooking the planet by burning coal, oil and natural gas.

    Scientists and statisticians have dismissed the purported slowdown as a statistical mirage, arguing among other things that it reflects random climate fluctuations and an unusually hot year picked as the starting point for charting temperatures. They also say the data suggests the “missing” heat is simply settling — temporarily — in the ocean.

    But as scientists study the issue, the notion of a slowdown has gained more mainstream attention, putting pressure on the authors of the new U.N. report to deal with it.

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report is expected to assert that global warming is continuing. It is also expected to affirm with greater certainty than ever before the link between global warming and human activity.

    Leaked documents obtained by The Associated Press show there are deep concerns among governments over how to address the purported slowdown ahead of next week’s meeting of the IPCC.

    “I think to not address it would be a problem because then you basically have the denialists saying, ‘Look, the IPCC is silent on this issue,’” said Alden Meyer of the Washington-based advocacy group Union of Concerned Scientists.

    In a leaked June draft of the report’s summary for policymakers, the IPCC said that while the rate of warming between 1998 and 2012 was about half the average rate since 1951, the globe is still heating up. As for the apparent slowdown, it cited natural variability in the climate system, as well as cooling effects from volcanic eruptions and a downward phase in solar activity.

    But in comments to the IPCC obtained by the AP, several governments that reviewed the draft objected to how the issue was tackled.

    Germany called for the reference to the slowdown to be deleted, saying a time span of 10 to 15 years was misleading in the context of climate change, which is measured over decades and centuries.

    The U.S. also urged the authors to include the “leading hypothesis” that the reduction in warming is linked to more heat being transferred to the deep ocean.

    Belgium objected to using 1998 as a starting year for any statistics. That year was exceptionally warm, so any graph showing global temperatures starting with 1998 looks flat. Using 1999 or 2000 as a starting year would yield a more upward-pointing curve. In fact, every year after 2000 has been warmer than the year 2000.

    Hungary worried the report would provide ammunition for skeptics.

    Many skeptics claim that the rise in global average temperatures stopped in the late 1990s, and their argument has gained momentum among some media and politicians, even though the scientific evidence of climate change is piling up: The previous decade was the warmest on record and, so far, this decade is even warmer, albeit slightly. Meanwhile, Arctic sea ice shrank to a record low last year, and the IPCC draft said sea levels have risen by 7.5 inches (19 centimeters) since 1901.

    Many researchers say the slowdown in warming is related to the natural ocean warming and cooling cycles known as El Nino and La Nina. Also, a 2013 study by Kevin Trenberth at the National Center for Atmospheric Research found dramatic recent warming in the deeper oceans, between 2,300 and 6,500 feet.

    “The heat is not missing,” said University of Victoria climate scientist Andrew Weaver, who is also a Green Party member of the British Columbia parliament. “The heat is there. The heat is in the ocean.”

    The idea is that the energy trapped by carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases has to go somewhere on Earth, said Princeton University climate scientist Michael Oppenheimer. But that heat energy will eventually make its way to the ocean surface and the air, putting surface warming back on the increasing track, he said.

    “Energy will hide out in the ocean for a while before it pops out into the atmosphere,” Oppenheimer said.

    For scientists studying the last 10 years, what’s been happening “is a cool question,” said U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientist Gabriel Vecchi. But “anybody who tries to use the past 10 years to argue about the reality of global warming — which is based upon century-scale data — is just being distracting.”

    Jonathan Lynn, a spokesman for the IPCC, declined to comment on the content of the report because it hasn’t been made final, but said it would provide “a comprehensive picture of all the science relevant to climate change.”

    The IPCC draft report says it is “extremely likely” that human influence caused more than half of the warming observed since the 1950s, an upgrade from “very likely” in the last IPCC report in 2007.

    A final version will be presented at the end of the panel’s meeting in Stockholm next week.

    The IPCC’s conclusions are important because they serve as the scientific basis for U.N. negotiations on curbing emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases. A global climate treaty is supposed to be adopted in 2015.

  • Syrian Opposition Group’s Dire Warning: Al Qaeda-Linked Rebel Fighters Are ‘Strengthening Their Positions’
    Posted September 20, 2013 at 9:00 am by Billy Hallowell

    Comments (52)

    BEIRUT (TheBlaze/AP) — Syria’s main Western-backed opposition group has slammed Al Qaeda-linked gunmen and their expanding influence in the country, saying the jihadis seek to establish an Islamic state in Syria.

    A statement on Friday from the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) follows days of vicious infighting in which the extremists seized control of the northern town of Azaz from mainstream opposition fighters.

    The SNC says the actions of the al-Qaida-linked fighters “counter the principals that the Syrian revolution is trying to achieve.”

    Syria Opposition Slams Al Qaeda Linked Rebels, Claims Islamic Fighters Are Strengthening Their Positions

    Smoke rises after a TNT bomb was thrown from a helicopter, hitting a rebel position during heavy fighting between troops loyal to president Bashar Assad and opposition fighters, in a neighbouring village to Kafr Nabuda, in the Idlib province countryside, Syria, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013. Credit: AP

    The group also warns that the Islamic fighters are “strengthening their positions” in opposition-controlled areas.

    The infighting threatens to further split opposition forces outgunned by President Bashar Assad’s troops and strengthen his hand as he engages with world powers on relinquishing his chemical weapons.

    The coalition’s statement comes after much debate has surrounded just how many rebels embrace extremist ideology. This week, in an interview with Fox News, Assad charged that it was extremists and not his own government that used deadly weapons.

    He contended that opposition forces, which have undoubtedly been joined by extremist jihadists, could have gained access to sarin.

    “Sarin gas is called kitchen gas,” he said. “You know why? Because anybody can make sarin in his house. Any rebel can make sarin. Second, we know that all the rebels are supported by governments. So any government that would have such chemical can hand it over.”

    Assad charged that the balance of opposition forces has shifted during the more than two-year conflict, and he alleged that 80 to 90 percent were members of al-Qaida or its affiliates.

    U.S. Sec. of State John Kerry, though, recently attempted to frame the majority of rebel fighters as moderates.

    “I just don’t agree that a majority are al-Qaeda and the bad guys. That’s not true. There are about 70,000 to 100,000 oppositionists,” he recently proclaimed. “Maybe 15 percent to 25 percent might be in one group or another who are what we would deem to be bad guys.”

    Syria Opposition Slams Al Qaeda Linked Rebels, Claims Islamic Fighters Are Strengthening Their Positions

    Secretary of State John Kerry talks about Syria and chemical weapons ahead of next week’s United Nations General Assembly at the State Department in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013. Kerry says the U.N. General Assembly needs to move swiftly to approve a U.S.-Russia deal to eliminate Syria s chemical weapons, saying that there is no time to argue with those who aren t convinced that Syrian President Bashar Assad s regime carried out the Aug. 21 attack that killed hundreds. Credit: AP

    But Assad paints a more complicated picture.

    “At the very beginning, the jihadists were the minority. At the end of 2012 and during this year, they became the majority with the flow of tens of thousands from additional countries,” he said adding that they were being financed by individuals who shared their extremist ideologies.

    The new statement from SNC will only add to concerns about rebel groups and their potential attachment to extremist ideologies. At the least, there’s clearly a power struggle unfolding among the rebels.

  • Mom Outraged After School Forces Son to Remove This Supposed ‘Threatening’ Duck Dynasty Shirt
    Posted September 20, 2013 at 8:39 am by Billy Hallowell

    Comments (194)

    “Duck Dynasty’s” popularity has reached a fever pitch. And now the show, which has brought in ratings galore for A&E, is inadvertently at the center of a dispute in Dinwiddie, Va.

    A frustrated mother claims her son was recently chastised by officials for wearing to school a t-shirt that features one of the show’s main characters, Si Robertson.

    Mom Outraged After School Forces Son to Remove Threatening Duck Dynasty T Shirt

    Edna-Jo Spain and her son Hunter appear with the shirt that got the teenager in trouble at school (Photo Credit: WWBT-TV)

    What was apparently so offensive about the article clothing that it led administrators at Dinwiddie High School to ask the teen to remove it?

    It shows Uncle Si clenching his fist and includes text that reads, “I will hurt you physically and metaphysically.”

    Edna-Jo Spain claims that her son, Hunter, was given a choice: Wear the t-shirt inside out or go home, reports WWBT-TV. Not wanting to look silly by wearing it such an odd manner, the young man simply decided to put on a different shirt.

    Mom Outraged After School Forces Son to Remove Threatening Duck Dynasty T Shirt

    Photo Credit: TVStoreOnline.com

    While the line, without context, might seem somewhat violent, Spain explained that those who watch “Duck Dynasty” know that Si is goofy and that he’s known “for his little funny slogans.” The school had a very different view, though, reportedly telling Hunter that the shirt was threatening to other students.

    “For this to be considered as a threat to the school, I couldn’t understand it,” she told WWBT-TV.

    Here’s more about the story:

    In an e-mail to WWBT-TV, Dinwiddie County Public Schools Superintendent David Clark explained the district’s take on the matter — and seemingly defended the decision.

    “If you are a Duck Dynasty fan you understand the meaning of the shirt, but if you haven’t watched Duck Dynasty you may question if the shirt implies violence,” he said. “As a school division, we would like to keep our slogans on student shirts as non-violent as possible.”

    Featured Image Credit: TVStoreOnline.com

    (H/T: WWBT-TV)

  • The Endearing Note a 7-Year-Old Left His Mom After She Used a Brilliant Lesson to Teach Him About Hard Work
    Posted September 20, 2013 at 8:30 am by Liz Klimas

    Comments (19)

    John Palmer, a 7-year-old from Michigan, learned very quickly that he’s not quite ready to be an adult yet when he and his mom switched placed.

    Heather McLeod of Saginaw told TheBlaze her family recently moved from a city to a more rural town. Although her son loves helping her feed the chickens after school, he wasn’t too keen on picking up some of his toys on Wednesday.

    “He did one other thing (a chore), and then I asked him to put away some of his Play-Doh toys, which had been out for about three days,” McLeod said. “It was like the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

    Palmer told his mother he thought being a kid was tough.

    “He said ‘I can’t wait to be an adult so I can make all the rules and do what I want,” McLeod recalled.

    At this point, she remembered something her ex-boyfriend had told her he had done with his child — switch roles.

    Palmer jumped on the chance to play the role of mom. But McLeod first told him he had to fold the laundry, because that’s what mommy had been doing when this agreement was struck.

    McLeod on the other hand got to settle in front of a Nintendo DS game.

    Palmer called his mother “John” and McLeod called her son “Mom.”

    “We asked him, ‘how are you going to drive us (to church), Mom,’” McLeod said, of the family joking with the boy.

    Not long afterward, McLeod was presented with a note. It was Palmer waving his white flag, purple in this case though.

    john palmer note to mother

    A 7-year-old boy’s note to his mother after they switched roles for only a half a load of laundry’s worth of time. (Photo: Healther McLeod)

    It was a note that read:

    From John
    You were right mom
    being a adult is hard
    I would like to take my place back as a kid
    XOXO

    “He always says ‘XOXO, Mom,’” so the fact that he put it in the end of the note cracks me up,” she said.

    Given that the role reversal only happened Wednesday, McLeod hasn’t had a chance to see if this lesson helped change her son’s behavior, but she did say he offered something he hadn’t before.

    “He promised to make me breakfast in bed next weekend,” McLeod said. “He said, ‘What kind of cereal would you like mom?’”

    “The lessons that you try to teach sometimes backfire, this one worked perfect,” McLeod said.

    Like this story? Share it on Facebook!

  • Nudge or Shove? Obama Admin Takes Another Shot in ‘War on Coal’ With Announcement of Something Never Done Before
    Posted September 20, 2013 at 7:52 am by Liz Klimas

    Comments (144)

    WASHINGTON (TheBlaze/AP) — In June a White House adviser said “a war on coal is exactly what’s needed” to combat climate change. Now, the Obama administration is taking another step in waging that war, pressing ahead with tough requirements for new coal-fired power plants, moving to impose for the first time strict limits on the pollution blamed for global warming.

    This proposal would reshape where Americans get electricity, away from a coal-dependent past into a future fired by cleaner sources of energy. It’s also a key step in President Barack Obama’s global warming plans, because it would help end what he called “the limitless dumping of carbon pollution” from power plants.

    Coal Dark Future

    Smoke rises from the Colstrip Steam Electric Station in Colstrip, Mont., Monday, July 1, 2013. President Barack Obama’s climate change plan calls for limits on carbon dioxide emissions from coal-burning power plants like the Colstrip Steam Electric Station. The plant, which employs 388 people, emits an estimated 17 million tons of carbon dioxide annually. (Photo: AP/Matthew Brown)

    Restrictions on coal-fired power plants might sound familiar. The Environmental Protection Agency already proposed several renditions of a rule that would limit emissions from existing plants, thus requiring them power plants to make costly upgrades to equipment.

    You might remember also Obama’s interview with the San Francisco Chronicle where he gave his intentions to “bankrupt” coal-fired power plants.

    “So if somebody wants to build a coal power plant they can, it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they are going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted,” Obama said during the interview.

    Although the proposed rule won’t immediately affect plants already operating, it eventually would force the government to limit emissions from the existing power plant fleet, which accounts for a third of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Obama has given the Environmental Protection Agency until next summer to propose those regulations.

    The EPA provided The Associated Press with details of the proposal prior to the official announcement, which was expected Friday morning. The public will have a chance to comment on the rule before it becomes final.

    coal

    In this April 4, 2013 file photo, a mechanized shovel loads coal onto a haul truck at the Cloud Peak Energy’s Spring Creek mine near Decker, Mont. (AP Photo/Matthew Brown,file)

    Despite some tweaks, the rule packs the same punch as one announced last year, which was widely criticized by industry and Republicans as effectively banning any new coal projects in the U.S.

    Again, that’s because to meet the standard, new coal-fired power plants would need to install expensive technology to capture carbon dioxide and bury it underground. No coal-fired power plant has done that yet, in large part because of the cost. And those plants that the EPA points to as potential models, such as a coal plant being built in Kemper County, Miss., by Southern Co., have received hundreds of millions of dollars in federal grants and tax credits.

    Coal, which is already struggling to compete with cheap natural gas, accounts for 40 percent of U.S. electricity, a share that was already shrinking. And natural gas would need no additional pollution controls to comply.

    “For power producers and coal mining companies that reject these standards, they have no reason to complain, and every excuse to innovate,” said Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., the author of a 2009 bill to limit global warming. The legislation, backed by the White House, passed the House, but died in the Senate.

    The regulations have been in the works since 2011 and stem from a 1970 law passed by Congress to control air pollution. In 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that that law, the Clean Air Act, could be applied to heat-trapping pollution. The EPA already has issued rules aimed at curbing global warming pollution from automobiles and the largest industrial sources.

    An EPA official told the AP that the rule doesn’t specify any particular technology. But the official acknowledged that carbon capture was the only current technology available for a company to meet the threshold of 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per megawatt hour of electricity. To put that in perspective, a modern coal plant without carbon controls would release about 1,800 pounds per megawatt hour.

    The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the announcement of the rule had not been made.

    The administration went back to the drawing board after receiving more than 2 million comments on its first proposal, which was legally vulnerable because it required coal and natural gas to meet the same limit. Coal and natural gas now have separate standards, but the latest proposal will almost certainly to be litigated once it becomes final, which the law requires the EPA to do in a year.

    The legal argument likely will be based around whether carbon capture and storage is a demonstrated technology.

    “EPA has set a dangerous and far-reaching precedent for the broader economy by failing to base environmental standards on reliable technology,” said Hall Quinn, president and CEO of the National Mining Association. The EPA regulation “effectively bans coal from America’s power portfolio,” he said.

    This report from WSAZ details how the coal industry in Kentucky is already experiencing tough times:

    The EPA will seek comments on whether to subject three coal plants in various stages of the development to the new standard, or treat them as existing sources. They are the Sunflower Electric Power Corp.’s facility near Holcomb, Kan., Power4Georgian’s planned Washington County, Ga., facility, and Wolverine Power Cooperative’s plans for a new power plant near Rogers City, Mich.

    In case you missed it, take a look at then Sen. Obama’s interview with the San Francisco Chronicle in 2008 regarding his thoughts on power plants and a cap-and-trade system:

  • Guy Walks into a Bank with a Gun…and He’s Not the One That Ends up Arrested
    Posted September 20, 2013 at 7:36 am by Jonathon M. Seidl

    Comments (89)

    You’ve probably heard the start to this type of story a hundred times, but you’ve likely never heard an ending like it: A guy walks into a bank with a gun…

    Man arrested for trying to alert bank of concealed carry holder with a gun

    The TD Bank branch in Glastonbury, Connecticut. (Source: WTNH screen shot)

    Robert Gursky, 50, was inside a TD Bank branch in Glastonbury, CT, when he noticed a man with a gun under his shirt. So he thought he’d do the right thing and let the teller know. But it all backfired.

    See, Robert decided that he’d let the teller know about the other man with the gun by whispering to the teller “gun” and tried writing a note saying the same thing. He finished his transaction and then started walking out. The teller got the message alright, or at least the message the teller thought they were supposed to get: The bank hit the panic alarm thinking Gursky was the one with the gun and trying to stick up the joint.

    But here’s where things get really whacky: Police trakced down Gursky and arrested him for “breach of the peace,” comparing it to yelling “fire” in a crowded theater when there is none. He was released but now has to appear in court next week.

    “It could have been a level of confusion, but certainly it was confusing for everyone involved, even the people from the bank,” agent Kevin Szydlo of the Glastonbury Police Department told WTNH-TV.

    So what about the man with the gun? Well, WTNH says the man carrying it was actually in law enforcement himself.

    Gursky refused to comment to local media.

    You know what they say: No good deed goes unpunished.

    (H/T: HuffPo)

  • Evolution vs. Creationism: Did God Create Humans in Our Current Form?
    Posted September 20, 2013 at 7:20 am by Billy Hallowell

    Comments (680)

    Journalist Virginia Heffernan invited scrutiny, debate and a whole slew of ideological enemies when she proclaimed earlier this summer that she’s a creationist. In an op-ed for Yahoo! (the piece was actually titled, “Why I’m a Creationist“) she made her compelling case. What followed was a major response — a mixture of support and decries over her admission, leading her to subsequently defend and double down on her stance.

    Considering Heffernan’s prominence as a writer who has enjoyed a career at mainstream outlets like The New York Times and Slate, her article was particularly stunning. Following the incident, we turned to readers and asked you to let us know what you thought about Heffernan’s admission and, more generally, the creationism versus evolution debate. We received tens of thousands of responses to our questions, providing an intriguing lens into how readers see the issue.

    To begin, we asked, “Did mankind evolve — but with the help of a higher power?” Of 3,984 individuals who responded to this curiosity, 42 percent said “yes” and 58 percent said “no.” Considering that it’s a relatively loaded question, the results weren’t particularly surprising (after all, some people may reject macro evolution, but embrace the notion of micro changes unfolding over time). The word “evolve” doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing to everyone, leaving the question open to some interpretation.

    Did Mankind Evolve    or What Is Created by God in Its Current Form? Blaze Readers Weigh In

    Photo Credit: ShutterStock.com

    A much more specific and pointed question asked respondents if man evolved “with no involvement from a higher power.” There was a clear consensus among the 4,008 Blaze readers who responded. While six percent answered affirmatively, an overwhelming 94 percent of the readers who took the poll rejected this notion.

    This is particularly interesting due to the fact that the Pew Research Center estimates that about six percent of the nation considers itself secular and unaffiliated with a faith — a prime group that would embrace the idea that mankind evolved without God’s hand guiding the process. Of course, the Blaze poll on this subject was not a scientific one, but the proportional similarities are still worth noting.

    Moving on, TheBlaze asked another potentially loaded question: “Did God create mankind in its current form?” This, too, yielded very strong results. While 90 percent answered that the Lord did, indeed, create mankind in its current form, 10 percent rejected this notion (overall, 3,970 people answered the question). The wording doesn’t get to the heart of some of the deeper questions concerning the micro changes, but it does hint at the wide-spread embrace of a purposeful creation of human beings.

    These results are intriguing when compared to previous scientific research on the matter. A study conducted by YouGov and released earlier this summer found that nearly four-in-10 Americans (37 percent) believe that God created mankind in its present state. But that’s not all, as these individuals also contend that men and women were created within the last ten thousand years — a claim that many scientists would scoff at.

    Did Mankind Evolve    or What Is Created by God in Its Current Form? Blaze Readers Weigh In

    Photo Credit: ShutterStock.com

    Additionally, in this poll, 25 percent of Americans said that human beings evolved from less advanced life forms over millions of years, but that God guided this process. This means that, combined, 62 percent of Americans believe that God played a role in human creation and development.

    Another 21 percent of the population said that humans evolved from less advanced life forms over millions of years — and that a higher power didn’t directly play a role in the process.

    In TheBlaze poll, among 3,988 respondents, an overwhelming 96 percent believe that God created the world, with only 4 percent claiming that they do not embrace such a notion.

    The debate continues and shows no signs of tempering, with evangelist Ray Comfort and atheists clashing most recently over his film, “Evolution vs. God” — a project intended to call Darwinian theory into question. Let us know more about where you stand in the comments section.

    Featured Image Credit: ShutterStock.com