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  • Sources: Intelligence That Could’ve Been Acted Upon to Hunt Down High-Value Benghazi Suspects Has Been Ignored or Put on Hold
    Posted June 27, 2014 at 10:49 pm by Jason Howerton

    Comments (55)

    Multiple sources, including some with direct knowledge of operations to identify and apprehend suspects in the deadly Benghazi terror attacks, tell Fox News that intelligence that could’ve been used to hunt down high-value targets has been ignored or put on hold by Obama administration.

    The sources also said the recent capture of Ahmed Abu Khattala — touted by the White House as a major win — was “small potatoes” and something that could have been done months and months ago. Khattala is currently on a ship heading to the United States to stand trial.

    “He was low-hanging fruit,” a source told Fox News. “We could have picked him up months and months ago and there was no change, or urgency to do this now.”

    This undated file image obtained from Facebook shows Ahmed Abu Khattala, an alleged leader of the deadly 2012 attacks on Americans in Benghazi, Libya, who was captured by U.S. special forces on Sunday, June 15, 2014, on the outskirts of Benghazi. Abu Khattala was a prominent figure in the eastern city of Benghazi's thriving circles of extremists, popular among young radicals for being among the most hard-core and uncompromising of those calling for Libya to be ruled by Islamic Shariah law. But he was always something of a lone figure. (AP Photo, File)

    This undated file image obtained from Facebook shows Ahmed Abu Khattala, an alleged leader of the deadly 2012 attacks on Americans in Benghazi, Libya, who was captured by U.S. special forces on Sunday, June 15, 2014, on the outskirts of Benghazi. Abu Khattala was a prominent figure in the eastern city of Benghazi’s thriving circles of extremists, popular among young radicals for being among the most hard-core and uncompromising of those calling for Libya to be ruled by Islamic Shariah law. But he was always something of a lone figure. (AP Photo, File)

    Adam Housley reports:

    According to sources, the United States has a “target list” that initially contained about 10 suspects identified within days of the attack and eventually grew to more than 20 as American Special Forces conducted surveillance in and around Benghazi. 

    The four groups on the “target list” include Ansar al-Sharia, with the top target being the “Emir of Ansar al Sharia,” Abu Sufian Ibrahim Ahmed Hamuda bin Qumu. He was a prisoner at Guantánamo Bay for more than five years and at the time was classified by analysts at the prison as “a probable member of Al Qaeda.” Despite this significant threat to American security and allies, bin Qumu was released as part of an amnesty for militants in 2008. Sources told Fox News that intelligence has shown his involvement in the attacks, and actionable intelligence has for some reason been ignored. 

    In this same group, but at the bottom of the list, is Khattala. 

    Multiple sources with direct knowledge of the Benghazi attack also question why more of the investigation hasn’t been centered on the Libyan landlord of the American facilities in Benghazi, Mohammad al-Bishari. Some in the region that night insist that al-Bishari “knows a lot more than he is letting on” and “is a key connection to everyone else that night” — and should be at the very least intensely questioned about what he may know about the attack. Al-Bishari is also said to have bought a new hotel in Benghazi.

    It has been previously reported that U.S. Special Forces were not permitted to go after high-value targets suspected of playing a role in the Benghazi attacks, even though there were several opportunities over the span of 16 months.

    Intelligence suggests that almost all radical Libyan militias are tied to Ansar al-Sharia, the group believed to be behind the attacks.

    Watch the full report via Fox News:


  • What Activists Did Near the NSA’s Massive Data Center in Utah to Demand an ‘End to Mass Spying’
    Posted June 27, 2014 at 10:30 pm by Erica Ritz

    Comments (67)

    Activists flew a blimp over the National Security Agency’s massive data center in Bluffdale, Utah on Friday demand “an end to mass spying” by the U.S. government. The blimp displayed an enormous sign reading: “NSA. Illegally spying below.”

    The San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation says it and Greenpeace flew a 135-foot “airship” over the center between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m.

    “We checked in advance that everything was legal,” Parker Higgen of the Electronic Frontier Foundation told KSL-TV. “At least for now, thumbing your nose at the government is not illegal. … We did not break the law.”

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation says it is trying to raise awareness for the site standagainstspying.org, which has rated each member of Congress on where they stand on the subject of domestic surveillance.

    The website represents a unique coalition of organizations from all sides of the political spectrum. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, Greenpeace, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, FreedomWorks, and the Liberty Coalition are all represented. Each is standing to demand that President Obama and Congress take steps to halt domestic surveillance programs in the United States.

    “Surveillance should be targeted. It should be only what is necessary and proportionate to the alleged crime,” a letter on the website reads. “Surveillance should be authorized by an independent court with access to a full, factual record, facing the potential for scrutiny by a public advocate. Above all, it must not sweep in the records of hundreds of millions of people with little discernment.”

    The NSA maintains that all of its operations are legal.

    More on the story via KSL-TV, below:

    Front page image via Twitter.

  • Sickening Video Shows Group of Youths Savagely Beating Woman in Public — but Wait Until You See How Onlookers React
    Posted June 27, 2014 at 10:05 pm by Jason Howerton

    Comments (353)

    As a group of young people brutally beat a woman who was sitting alone on a park bench in Brooklyn, onlookers watched, video recorded and — in some cases — cheered on the vicious attack.

    Though details are very sketchy as to what prompted the beating, a video posted on Facebook Friday clearly shows the group — possibly teenagers — teaming up and attacking an older woman.

    Screengrab via NBC New York

    Screengrab via NBC New York

    “Oh, yeah!” one man is heard shouting.

    At another point in the video, it sounds like a man refers to the attackers as his “young hitters.” Others are seen watching in silence.

    Not one person is seen on video trying to help the victim or even telling the attackers to stop.

    Police are reportedly using the video to investigate the assault. It’s unclear when exactly the attack took place, though officials believe it occurred recently.

    NBC New York has the disturbing video (Warning: Strong language and violence)

  • White House Review of VA Finds ‘Significant and Chronic System Failures’
    Posted June 27, 2014 at 9:12 pm by Associated Press

    Comments (51)

    WASHINGTON (AP) — In a scathing appraisal, a review ordered by President Barack Obama of the troubled Veterans Affairs health care system concludes that medical care for veterans is beset by “significant and chronic system failures,” substantially verifying problems raised by whistleblowers and internal and congressional investigators.

    A summary of the review by deputy White House chief of staff Rob Nabors says the Veterans Health Administration must be restructured and that a “corrosive culture” has hurt morale and affected the timeliness of health care. The review also found that a 14-day standard for scheduling veterans’ medical appointments is unrealistic and that some employees manipulated the wait times so they would appear to be shorter.

    The review is the latest blistering assessment of the VA in the wake of reports of patients dying while waiting for appointments and of treatment delays in VA facilities nationwide. The White House released a summary of the review following President Barack Obama’s meeting Friday with Nabors and Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson.

    The Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center in Phoenix is seen Wednesday May 28, 2014. About 1,700 veterans in need of care were "at risk of being lost or forgotten" after being kept off the official waiting list at the Phoenix veterans hospital, the Veterans Affairs watchdog said Wednesday. (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Michael Chow)

    The Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center in Phoenix is seen Wednesday May 28, 2014. About 1,700 veterans in need of care were “at risk of being lost or forgotten” after being kept off the official waiting list at the Phoenix veterans hospital, the Veterans Affairs watchdog said Wednesday. (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Michael Chow)

    The review offers a series of recommendations, including a need for more doctors, nurses and trained administrative staff. Those recommendations are likely to face skepticism among some congressional Republicans who have blamed the VA’s problems on mismanagement, not lack of resources.

    The White House released the summary after Obama returned from a two-day trip to Minneapolis and promptly ducked into an Oval Office to get an update on the administration’s response to the VA troubles from Gibson and Nabors.

    “We know that unacceptable, systemic problems and cultural issues within our health system prevent veterans from receiving timely care,” Gibson said in a statement following the meeting. “We can and must solve these problems as we work to earn back the trust of veterans.”

    Rep. Jeff Miller, the Republican chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said the report was a late but welcome response from the White House and vowed to work with the administration to fix the system.

    “It appears the White House has finally come to terms with the serious and systemic VA health care problems we’ve been investigating and documenting for years,” he said in a statement.

    The review contains a searing critique of the Veterans Health Administration, the VA sub-agency responsible for medical care. Earlier this week the VA announced that Dr. Robert L. Jesse, who has been acting undersecretary for health and head of the VHA, was resigning. Jesse has been acting undersecretary for health since May 16, when Robert Petzel resigned under pressure months before he was set to retire.

    Nabors’ report found that the VHA, the country’s biggest health care system, acts with little transparency or accountability and many recommendations to improve care are slowly implemented or ignored. The VHA serves nearly 8.8 million veterans a year in more than 1,700 health care sites. But the report says concerns raised by the public, monitors or even VA leadership, the report said, have been dismissed at the VHA as “exaggerated, unimportant, or `will pass.’”

    This May 19, 2014 photo shows a a sign in front of the Veterans Affairs building in Washington, DC. The VA and Secretary Eric Shinseki are under fire amid reports by former and current VA employees that up to 40 patients may have died because of delayed treatment at an agency hospital in Phoenix, Arizona. AFP PHOTO / Karen BLEIER

    This May 19, 2014 photo shows a a sign in front of the Veterans Affairs building in Washington, DC. The VA and Secretary Eric Shinseki are under fire amid reports by former and current VA employees that up to 40 patients may have died because of delayed treatment at an agency hospital in Phoenix, Arizona. AFP PHOTO / Karen BLEIER

    Among Nabors’ other findings:

    – As of June 23, the independent Office of Special Counsel, a government investigative arm, had more than 50 pending cases that allege threats to patient health or safety.

    - One-fourth of all the whistleblower cases under review across the federal government come from the VA. The department “encourages discontent and backlash against employees.”

    - The VA’s lack of resources reflects troubles in the health care field as a whole and in the federal government. But the VA has been unable to connect its budget needs to specific outcomes.

    -The VA needs to better prepare for changes in the demographic profile of veterans, including more female veterans, a surge in mental health needs and a growing number of older veterans.

    Obama asked Nabors to stay at the VA temporarily to continue to provide assistance.

    The White House said that over the past month, the VA has contacted 135,000 veterans and scheduled about 182,000 additional appointments. It has also used more mobile medical units to attend to veterans awaiting care.

    Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent who heads the Senate’s Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said the VA must restructure decision-making between its headquarters and its regional officials and that regional and local offices can no longer hide problems when they surface.

    “No organization the size of VA can operate effectively without a high level of transparency and accountability,” he said. “Clearly that is not the case now at the VA. ”

    Since reports surfaced of treatment delays and of patients dying while on waiting lists, the VA has been the subject of internal, independent and congressional investigations. The VA has confirmed that dozens of veterans died while awaiting appointments at VA facilities in the Phoenix area, although officials say it’s unclear whether the delays were the cause of the deaths.

    One VA audit found that 10 percent of veterans seeking medical care at VA hospitals and clinics have to wait at least 30 days for an appointment. More than 56,000 veterans have had to wait at least three months for initial appointments, the report said, and an additional 46,000 veterans who asked for appointments over the past decade never got them.

    This week, the independent Office of Special Counsel concluded there was “a troubling pattern of deficient patient care” at the Veterans Affairs that VA officials downplayed. Among the findings were canceled appointments with no follow up, contaminated drinking water and improper handling of surgical equipment.

  • What Type of Successor Is President Obama Looking For? Author Ed Klein Says It’s Probably Not Hillary Clinton
    Posted June 27, 2014 at 9:00 pm by Erica Ritz

    Comments (102)

    Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may not have the full backing of President Barack Obama if she chooses to run for president in 2016, author Ed Klein said Friday on TheBlaze TV’s Dana.

    The author of “Blood Feud: The Clintons vs. the Obamas,” Klein said that Bill Clinton and Barack Obama “struck a deal” during a golf game in 2011 “in which Bill Clinton promised to back Obama, if, in turn, Obama would come out for Hillary in 2016.”

    “Bill made good on the deal,” Klein said. “He gave that speech that we all remember at the Democratic National Convention. … And then after he got elected, Barack Obama — in typical fashion, I must say — reneged on the deal.”

    President Barack Obama speaks at the League of Conservation Voters Capitol Dinner at the Ronald Reagan Building on Wednesday, June 25, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

    President Barack Obama speaks at the League of Conservation Voters Capitol Dinner at the Ronald Reagan Building on Wednesday, June 25, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

    Klein said several sources have told him that Obama told Clinton: “I’m not sure who I’m going to support in 2016.”

    But Clinton is under the impression that Obama is looking for a “Mini-Me” of himself, Klein added.

    “Bill Clinton recently had a party at Whitehaven, which is his mansion in Washington, D.C.,” Klein began. “And during that party, he said that he had been checking with state committee chairmen about who was going to back whom in 2016.”

    At the party, Klein said Clinton picked up the idea that “Obama was looking for, as Clinton put it, a ‘Mini-Me.’ … Somebody like a clone who, like Obama, would come out of nowhere and challenge Hillary and beat her in 2016.”

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  • Morning TV Anchor Is Called Out After Getting a Little Too Excited About His Female Colleague’s Bikini Body: ‘What Is Wrong With You?’
    Posted June 27, 2014 at 8:35 pm by Jason Howerton

    Comments (362)

    A “Good Day New York” anchor was called out by his co-anchor after he got a little too excited about his female colleague’s bikini body during a live report at New Jersey’s Action Park.

    WNYW-TV reporter Anna Gilligan traveled to the park to try out the new Tarzan rope swing for a fun, light-hearted segment when anchor Greg Kelly, the son of former NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly, started making people a little uncomfortable.

    bikini

    WNYW-TV

    After trying out the Tarzan rope swing, Gilligan emerged from the water and retrieved a microphone and earpiece to conclude the segment. Just as she put her earpiece in, Kelly commented, “Nice bathing suit.”

    Kelly’s co-anchor warned him to be appropriate and told viewers she was trying to keep him “in check.” Then when Gilligan said she was going to put her clothes back on, Kelly jokingly objected.

    “Hold on a second! Not so fast, Anna,” he said.

    Kelly also voiced his disapproval when the camera cut away from Gilligan standing in her bikini.

    “Anna, go dry off, we’ll see you in a little bit,” Kelly’s co-anchor, Rosanna Scotto, finally said before scolding her colleague. “What is wrong with you?”

    Watch the video via Mediaite/WNYW-TV:

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  • Election Loser’s Bizarre Claim About Longtime U.S. Rep Who Soundly Beat Him
    Posted June 27, 2014 at 8:32 pm by Dave Urbanski

    Comments (50)

    After receiving only 5.2 percent of the vote in this weeks’ Oklahoma’s Republican primary for U.S. Representative to Congress, Tim Murray hatched a plan to unseat the victor, longtime Rep. Frank Lucas.

    Murray claims that Lucas…isn’t really Lucas. Therefore, Murray should get his votes, reported KFOR-TV in Oklahoma City.

    The real Lucas was “executed by The World Court on or about Jan. 11, 2011 in Southern Ukraine” and “has been displayed by a look alike,” according to Murray’s campaign website.

    Timothy Murray. (Image source:

    Timothy Murray. (Image source: KFOR-TV)

    Murray said he intended to contest Lucas’ victory in District 3 and had until 5 p.m. central time on Friday to file a petition. While the Oklahoma State Election Board confirmed Murray forwarded a document to some election officials on Friday, it didn’t meet “legal requirements for a petition for recount or petition alleging irregularities,” and therefore Murray didn’t meet the deadline. Murray didn’t return any messages for comment from KFOR, the station noted.

    Lucas — if it’s really him — told KFOR that it “does come as kind of a shock to read that you’re not you.”

    U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas...or not? (Image source: KFOR-TV)

    U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas…or not? (Image source: KFOR-TV)

    He added that he’s faced Murray in past elections, noting that he was “the Democratic nominee for Congress two years ago.” In the 2012 general election Lucas got more than 75 percent of the vote while Murray tallied 20 percent.

    “This time,” Lucas noted, “he chose to run as a Republican.”

    Didn’t work, apparently. Lucas received 82.8 percent of the vote in this year’s primary, easily besting Murray.

    “Many things have been said about me, said to me during course of my campaigns,” Lucas quipped. “This is the first time I’ve ever been accused of being a body double or a robot.”

    Murray refers to himself as “Ambassador, Hon. Timothy Ray Murray” on his website, noting that he was a “Youth Diplomat for U.S. Mission for The United Nations, 1978″ and was “awarded honor status by U.S. Presidents Nixon, Ford and others.” As for stated achievements, Murray included the following on his site:

    Requested and obtained removal, from humans, of an illegal de-human chip from persons abroad and in armed forces use. Helped block the 7th day Legislation in the ‘70’s that would put the 666 de-human chip in every person on earth. In prevention of the fore-mentioned, it was sealed with The People, The U.S. President, and The U.S. Supreme Court at that time and since that time.

    And…

    Requested and obtained in 2013, Protection from partial or whole life placement on Starship without the knowledge and or will of any person(s) on Earth or in Space, and the storage of partial human size life on Earth or in this Solar system. This matter is sealed with The People, The U.S. President, and The U.S. Supreme Court.

  • ‘Disgraceful!’: The Reason Cracker Barrel ‘Terminated’ a 73-Year-Old Military Veteran Has Resulted in Something of a PR Nightmare
    Posted June 27, 2014 at 8:00 pm by Jason Howerton

    Comments (570)

    A Vietnam veteran has been “terminated” from his job at Cracker Barrel in Venice, Florida, after he gave a corn muffin to a man who appeared to be homeless.

    Joe Koblenzer, 73, says he was working his shift earlier this month when a men entered the restaurant and asked only for mayonnaise and some tarter sauce. The veteran gladly provided some packets of condiments and also added a corn muffin as a kind gesture.

    “He looked a little needy,” Koblenzer told WWSB-TV. “He said he was going to cook a fish. … I got it for him. As I walked out I put a corn muffin in.”

    A short time later, Koblenzer was fired.

    WWSB-TV

    WWSB-TV

    Cracker Barrel issued a statement after the story started to go viral. The company says Koblenzer has a history of giving away food for free:

    Mr. Koblenzer has worked as a host at Cracker Barrel’s Sarasota [County] store since April 2011. During the time he was employed, he violated the Company’s policies regarding consuming food without paying or giving away free food, on five separate occasions. Mr. Koblenzer received multiple counselings and written warnings reminding him about the company’s polices and the consequences associated with violating them. On the fifth occasion, again per Company policy, Mr. Koblenzer was terminated.

    Regardless, the situation has created a PR disaster for Cracker Barrel. Many of the commenters on their Facebook page are expressing outrage at the firing.

    “Disgraceful! I used to love Cracker Barrel, unfortunately I have a conscience that will not allow me to visit establishments like yours,” one user wrote.

    “Used to eat at Cracker Barrel from time to time but their corporate social responsibility doesn’t line up with my values. I also feed and clothe the homeless, so Joe Koblenzer, I double salute you! No more of my consumer dollars going to CB,” another commented.

    Other Facebook users also vowed to “never” eat at the restaurant again. The majority of voters in WWSB-TV’s poll (49 percent) said they “see both sides, though I wish they could work something out.” Additionally, 36.1 percent of respondents said the employee did the right thing and 14.6 percent said the company was right to fire Koblenzer because he repeatedly violated company policy.

    Koblenzer said he feels bad that his firing “shines a bad light on the company.”

    “I would not want that on any company, but it happened,” he said.

    (H/T: HuffPost)

  • Matt Drudge Talks ‘Divided’ Politics, Media in Very Rare Radio Interview
    Posted June 27, 2014 at 7:24 pm by Jason Howerton

    Comments (31)

    Drudge Report founder Matt Drudge defended his website’s conservative slant in a very rare radio interview on Friday, saying the entire country is divided politically, so why shouldn’t the “airwaves or the website” be divided as well.

    Matt Drudge (file)

    Matt Drudge (file)

    In the WTOP interview, Drudge also said news is more important than ever and described Washington D.C. as the “heartbeat of the nation, for good or bad.”

    When one of the radio host’s said the Drudge Report “approaches things from a partisan point of view,” Drudge argued the site is more “partisan to news.”

    “In talk radio, in the media, when we are very partisan, right? A lot of people will say it helps us devolve socially, and that it lends nothing but vitriol and acrimony to an already heightened atmosphere,” the radio host added.

    “But the country is divided. All of these polls are always divided. Capitol Hill is divided,” Drudge replied. “How can you say the airwaves or the website should not be divided? We are.”

    Drudge also shared his views on the “vibrant” state of the media, which has grown so much more dynamic in recent years.

    Listen to the audio via WTOP below:

    (H/T: Mediaite)

  • Watch Former Heinz CEO’s Thorough Takedown of Obama Over His Comparison of Government and Business
    Posted June 27, 2014 at 6:53 pm by Jason Howerton

    Comments (137)

    Former Heinz CEO Bill Johnson called out President Barack Obama on Fox News Friday, calling his comparison of the federal government and business “feckless.”

    Attempting to justify why some government programs are a waste of money, Obama recently said big companies also do things that “aren’t all that efficient either.”

    Johnson said of the “feckless” comparison, “There’s just absolutely no comparison between business and the government, for a couple of reasons: One, any business that’s not efficient and has a lot of waste can’t compete. The government doesn’t have competition, business does.”

    “Secondly, we have owners and shareholders who demand we be efficient and not have a lot of waste and improve our margins and profitability,” he continued. “And third, if you are completely inefficient and continue to be inefficient, you are also out of a job, which they’re not.”

    “When we were waiting to board, I saw her glance the soldier’s way and then she said something to the person she was traveling with,” Hill told Today.com. “Once we boarded, I saw she was in first-class. I was upgraded to first-class and she was a couple rows behind me. I think she must have said something to the flight attendant, because before we took off she had vacated her seat and the flight attendant brought the soldier to her seat.”

    In this Monday, Feb. 10, 2014 file photo, Amy Adams arrives at the 86th Oscars Nominees Luncheon, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, file)

    Amy Adams arrives at the 86th Oscars nominees luncheon, in Beverly Hills, Calif., Feb. 10, 2014. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, file)

    Hill said that at first, she wasn’t sure if the soldier knew who had given up their seat for him. But Hill later saw the soldier briefly speaking with Adams by the cockpit, before the actress resumed her new seat in coach.

    “Ms. Adams did it so quietly and quickly that it speaks to her character,” Hill told ABC News. “And somebody in coach just got a helluva seatmate!”

    Another passenger posted a “selfie” with Adams, also calling her classy for giving up her seat.

    One of Hill’s Twitter followers noted that Adams’ father was in the military, and that she was born on a U.S. military base in Italy.

    Adams was approached by Inside Edition while getting off the plane, but the actress waved away the microphone.

    “I didn’t do it for attention for myself,” she said. “I did it for attention for the troops.”

    See Inside Edition’s video of Adams’ response, via Mediaite, below:

    This post has been updated.

  • Democrats Tell Obama: Now Is the Time for Executive Action on Immigration
    Posted June 27, 2014 at 2:40 pm by Fred Lucas

    Comments (150)

    The Supreme Court on Thursday delivered a heavy scolding to President Barack Obama for executive overreach on appointments. The House plans to sue the president for executive overreach on a variety of topics. Meanwhile, a flood of illegal immigrant children are pouring across the U.S. border.

    President Barack Obama speaks at the League of Conservation Voters Capitol Dinner at the Ronald Reagan Building on Wednesday, June 25, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

    So timing might seem off for House Democrats to demand Obama take executive action on immigration.

    But on the anniversary of the Senate-passed comprehensive immigration reform bill — which included a path to citizenship with increased border security — some Democrats are arguing it’s the only solution, because the Republican-controlled House won’t take up the bill.

    “As we mark one year since the Senate passed bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform, we must face the fact that this Republican led House has no intention of following suit,” Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said in a statement Friday issued by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. “It’s time for President Obama to step up and do everything within his power to ease the plight of the men, women and children suffering from our broken immigration system.”

    “Executive action will fall short of what could have been achieved by Congress and, as we work towards a permanent solution, we should be clear-eyed about where fault lies,” Grijalva said. “Republicans have failed the American people by refusing to fix a dysfunctional system.”

    Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.), the chairman of the immigration task force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, blamed House Republicans for obstruction.

    “But we need a dance partner to work in a bipartisan manner and so far, Republicans have refused to take any action and are threatening to sue the president if he does,” Gutiérrez said. “We have got to refocus our resources on deporting criminals and keeping out threats, but Republicans are standing in the way.”

    Obama talked about both the lawsuit announced this week by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and the immigration crisis at the border in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

    “The suit is a stunt, but what I’ve told Speaker Boehner directly is, ‘if you’re really concerned about me taking too many executive actions, why don’t you try getting something done through congress?’” Obama told ABC. “The majority of the American people want to see immigration reform done. We had a bipartisan bill through the Senate. If I try to fix some parts of it administratively that are within my authority, why you are not doing anything?”

    The president was referring to the 2012 deferred action policy of not deporting children who were brought to the country illegally by their parents. He didn’t talk about taking further executive action on immigration.

    Some critics have blamed the deferred action policy on causing confusion that prompted the unaccompanied minors to cross the border.

    “Our message is absolutely don’t send your children, unaccompanied, on trains or through a bunch of smugglers,” Obama said on “Good Morning America.” “That’s our direct message to families in Central America. Don’t send your children to the borders. If they do make it, they’ll get sent back. More importantly, they may not make it.”

    But there is more the president can do, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said, according to The Hill.

    “We’re deporting too many people; we’re breaking up families; and he ought to do whatever’s in his executive power to change what is a bad policy,” Nadler said. “It’s the right thing to do.”

    The Obama administration has asserted that it has increased deportations, but what it’s actually done is increased the number of removal orders given to illegal immigrants. Meanwhile, the number of illegals returned to their home countries has really declined under Obama, according to the Yearbook of Immigration Statistics published by the Department of Homeland Security (see table 39).

    Not all Democrats are demanding executive action; House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told The Hill she believes Boehner “is of good faith on this” and would find a way to act.

    Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) also told The Hill: “Maybe Speaker Boehner would come to his senses.”

    But Rep. Ruben Hinojosa (D-Texas), the chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, still insisted this week that executive action from Obama is overdue.

    “I told him that we’d give him time, so we should be going to the White House soon,” Hinojosa said Wednesday.

    Follow Fred Lucas (@FredVLucas3) on Twitter

  • Harrier Pilot Proves Marines Can Stick a Crazy Landing in a Pinch
    Posted June 27, 2014 at 1:51 pm by Elizabeth Kreft

    Comments (89)

    This pilot brings a whole new meaning to “stick the landing.”

    Just after taking off from the carrier in early June, U.S. Marine Corps Capt. William Mahoney, attached to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263, had to get creative with an emergency landing.

    (Image source: YouTube)

    Image source: YouTube

    “It was a normal flight day, we were going out to re-punch currency for landing on the ship in the evening,” Mahoney said in a video posted on YouTube. But as soon as he left the deck, the jet indicated a problem.

    “As I was climbing away from the deck and put the gear up and realized that I had a gear malfunction, so I immediately pulled the power back and slowed the aircraft down so I wouldn’t overspeed the landing gear,” he said.

    Mahoney didn’t know whether his gear was up or down. He had to rely on his shipmates to tell him what was happening, and to figure out the solution. Eventually, they brought out a make-shift stool.

    (Image source: YouTube)

    Mahoney had to trust his crew and the lighting system on the deck in his attempt to land the jet on a make-shift stool. (Image source: YouTube)

    “Eventually, Major Murphy came over the radio and told me that the ship had this amazing invention, basically a stool, that was built specifically for this reason” he said.

    But Mahoney never even saw the stool before he managed to land the roughly $35 million jet right on point.

    “That pilot did a fantastic job flying the jet under an incredible amount of pressure, and frankly other pilots have died in similar situations,” retired Marine Corps. Lt. Col. Art Nalls, who has flown the AV-8 A and B variants for more than 20 years, told TheBlaze.

    Nalls pointed out there is no mention in the video of the emergency system that blasts the landing gear into position with 3,000 pounds per square inch of nitrogen.

    “The landing gear is actuated by a hydraulic cylinder, one cylinder on each gear and you put hydraulic fluid into the actuator and that causes the gear to come down — that process is reversed for raising the gear,” Nalls said. “The emergency system is a standalone system that uses compressed nitrogen, stored in something that looks like a scuba bottle, and its actuated by opening a valve that allows that pressure to go into the same hydraulic lines and same actuator used for a regular landing.”

    Nalls explained why the crew may not have been able to use that backup system.

    “For example, if you had a mechanical failure — if a bolt came loose or if you had combat damage — that would physically prevent the gear from lowering, the emergency system isn’t going to do anything, it would just throw all the excess fluid over the side of the airplane,” he said.

    Another Marine Corps veteran, Lt. Col. Paul Geddes, an F-16 pilot with the Air National Guard 113th Wing, flew AV-8Bs in the deployed environment when he was a captain.

    “Landing that plane safely is a testament to [Mahoney's] demeanor and skill as a pilot,” Geddes said. “Being able to put the plane on centerline — it looked like he had done that dozens of times — but in fact none of us are trained to do that.”

    Col. Geddes said he doubts many pilots even know that kind of special stool exists, but it may have been created after this incident in 2006. Another Harrier experienced a nose gear malfunction, but according to Internet lore, the commanding officer told the pilot to put the aircraft down on…mattresses.

    (Image via Air Warriors)

    Image via Air Warriors

    (Image via Air Warriors)

    Image via Air Warriors

    (Image via Air Warriors)

    Image via Air Warriors

    (Image via Air Warriors)

    The mattresses caused foreign object debris damage to the engine, according to online posts. (Image via Air Warriors)

    “What a major cluster, that was wrong on so many levels,” Col. Nalls said, “I had heard of that incident before, but I can’t tell you what happened there.”

    TheBlaze contacted Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point to confirm it was, in fact, a TAV-8B assigned to VMAT-203 that attempted the ill-fated “soft” nose landing. A spokesman for the base said it was “difficult to track down” the info, but did eventually confirm “the mattress landing did occur here.”

    So the Marine who developed that stool deserves a raise.

    “It’s almost impossible to second guess decision making in these situations, but the bottom line is, the best part about (Mahoney’s landing) is that the pilot walked away and the plane will likely fly again,” Col. Nalls said. “Nothing succeeds like success.”

    (H/T: FoxTrotAlpha)

  • A Power Drill, Bucket and Toilet Bowl Brush: How These Can Help You Peel a Bag of Potatoes in Less Than a Minute
    Posted June 27, 2014 at 1:40 pm by Liz Klimas

    Comments (87)

    First, it was how to cut several grapes in half at the same time, instead of individually. Now, here’s a trick for those who can’t stand peeling a sack of potatoes.

    Leo Morten Lund of Denmark showed how it was done on Facebook Sunday, with the post being shared more than 85,000 times since then. 

    Here’s what you need: one bag of new potatoes, a power drill with a long metal attachment, a new, never used toilet bowl brush with stiff bristles, a hose (or other steady water source) and a bucket.

    With the potatoes in the bucket and the toilet bowl brush attached to the end of the drill (or perhaps you could find an actual drill brush attachment), turn the water onto the potatoes and give it a whirl. About 50 seconds later, you have a pot of nicely peeled — and washed — spuds.

    A whole bag of potatoes peeled in about 50 seconds? No problem. (Image source: YouTube)

    A whole bag of potatoes peeled in about 50 seconds? No problem. (Image source: YouTube)

    Lund admits that the trick is “rather lazy,” but it sure is a time saver.

    Watch how it’s done in Lund’s post:

    One of the commenters on his Facebook post wrote, “only a man.”

    Admittedly, this isn’t as simple as the grape cutting trick, but it could very well come in handy when the holidays roll around and you’re tasked with bringing the mashed potatoes.

    (H/T: Sploid)

  • Mississippi Tea Party Leader Found Dead in Apparent Suicide
    Posted June 27, 2014 at 1:30 pm by Erica Ritz

    Comments (136)

    The vice chairman of the Mississippi Tea Party has died of an apparent suicide after being charged in connection with photos taken of Republican Sen. Thad Cochran’s bedridden wife, the man’s lawyer told Reuters.

    In this photo released Thursday, May 22, 2014, by the Madison Police Department, shows attorney Mark Mayfield. Investigators say a Mississippi tea party official and two other men arrested Thursday conspired with a conservative blogger to use photographs of U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran's ill wife to push allegations that the longtime Republican senator was involved in an inappropriate relationship with another woman. (AP Photo/Madison Police Department)

    This photo released by the Madison Police Department shows attorney Mark Mayfield. Investigators say a Mississippi tea party official and two other men conspired to use photos of U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran’s ill wife to push allegations that he was involved in an inappropriate relationship with another woman. (AP Photo/Madison Police Department)

    Mark Mayfield, 58, was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot Friday at his home, the Clarion-Ledger reported.

    “This is a terrible tragedy that shouldn’t have happened,” Mayfield’s attorney John Reeves said.

    The Clarion-Ledger has more on the photo scandal:

    Mayfield … is one of the three men charged with conspiring with Clayton Kelly to photograph U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran’s bedridden wife in her nursing home and create a political video against Cochran.

    Mark Mayfield of Ridgeland, an attorney and state and local tea party leader, was arrested last month along with Richard Sager, a Laurel elementary school P.E. teacher and high school soccer coach. Police said they also charged John Beachman Mary of Hattiesburg, but he was not taken into custody because of “extensive medical conditions.” All face felony conspiracy charges. Sager also was charged with felony tampering with evidence, and Mary faces two conspiracy counts.

    The scandal occurred in the thick of the Mississippi GOP primary battle between Cochran and Tea Party-backed state Sen. Chris McDaniel. McDaniel has denied any involvement in the matter.

    Cochran defeated McDaniel on Tuesday in a controversial runoff election.

  • His 8-Year-Old Son Didn’t Board the Bus to Church: Why This Father Now Faces Jail Time
    Posted June 27, 2014 at 12:48 pm by Liz Klimas

    Comments (157)

    An Ohio dad was arrested, lost his job and could face jail time all because his son didn’t board the bus to church like he was supposed to— and the father didn’t know until it was too late.

    Jeffrey Williamson told WCPO-TV his children came in from outside their Blanchester, Ohio home to inform him the bus was there to take them to Woodville Baptist Church, something it does on Wednesdays and Sundays.

    “My kids run in the house in the living room here and tell me, ‘Hey, Dad, the church van’s here. We’re leaving. We’re going on to church,’ ” Williamson said of the incident that occurred in May.

    The father of four assumed all of his children got into the van, but one of them, 8-year-old Justin, did not board. He stuck around to play in the neighborhood instead and ended up wandering a half a mile from home to a local Family Dollar store.

    Justin Williamson (left) was grounded for not doing as he was told, but his father, Jeffrey Williamson (right), faces jail time if found guilty of child endangerment because his son was found alone a half a mile away from home.

    Justin Williamson (left) was grounded for not doing as he was told, but his father, Jeffrey Williamson (right), faces jail time if found guilty of child endangerment because his son was found alone a half a mile away from home.

    When he was spotted alone, the police were called. WCPO reported that the boy said he didn’t know his address, but where he lived eventually came out as he spoke with customers.

    “That’s definitely totally, totally untrue,” Williamson told WCPO. “He knows his way around this whole neighborhood right here.”

    “I told the cop he goes out in the neighborhood and plays every day with all the other kids,” Williamson continued. “There’s a million kids around here that play. I know the parents. The parents know me.”

    A Blanchester police officer took the boy home, in the processing finding he had to cross a busy street to get to the store, and was still at Williamson’s house when the church van dropped his other children back off.

    “The next thing you know, he comes up to me and he says, ‘You’re under arrest.’ My kids start crying their eyes out wondering why I’m getting arrested,”  Williamson told the news station.

    The next day, WCPO reported, Williamson lost his job a McDonald’s after the news was featured in the local newspaper. He has since found other employment

    “It’s ridiculous to me that I was arrested for this,” Jeffrey Williamson told the news station.

    Watch WCPO’s report about the case:

    Blanchester Police Chief Scott Reinbolt told the Wilmington News Journal, based in Ohio, at the time that Williamson argued the Family dollar is “only four blocks away” from the family’s home.

    Williamson was charged with child endangerment and will answer to these charges in court in July.

    The Blanchester Police Department did not immediately return TheBlaze’s request for comment.

    Some on Reddit, which featured the case, blasted the reasoning behind this man’s arrest.

    “When I was 8, we had to walk farther than a half-mile just to get to school!” the user of the social news site going by NeonDisease wrote.

    “When I was eight, I spent all my summer days wandering in the woods, doing all kinds of dangerous stuff without supervision.. I was just barely in earshot for the call to dinner,” the user going by freudonatrain added.

    Williamson told WCPO that Justin was grounded for not getting on the bus and wandering away from home.

  • 163 Dems Sign Letter to John Boehner Demanding Gun Control
    Posted June 27, 2014 at 12:34 pm by Fred Lucas

    Comments (236)

    Nearly the entire House Democratic caucus has signed onto a letter demanding that Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) move to pass gun control legislation.

    Supporters of a new gun rights bill hold signs prior to a hearing on gun rights laws at the Statehouse in Boston, Tuesday, June 3, 2014. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

    Gun control legislation has proven virtually impossible to get through Congress, and the issue is rarely an election-year winner. But pushing gun control could mobilize the Democratic voter base in a tough 2014 midterm season, as base voter turnout is generally the key to survival in off presidential election years.

    “Gun violence has affected constituents in every congressional district, and as their representatives, members of Congress deserve the opportunity to vote on bills that would address this epidemic,” the letter said.

    President Barack Obama during a town hall on Thursday called on gun control advocates to become as well-organized and well-financed as the National Rifle Association.

    The House Democrats’ letter, signed by 163 members, said Congress “must honor the victims of the recent shootings in Portland, Las Vegas, Seattle and Santa Barbara.”

    Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), the chairman of the House’s Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, and task force member Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.). circulated the letter. In 2013, the task force released a gun control agenda with several proposals.

    In 2013, an Obama-backed bill to strengthen background checks lacked enough support to get through the Democratic-controlled Senate.

    The Democrats assert that this is a result of various loopholes in background checks that allows straw purchasers.

    “Dozens of legislative proposals that address these factors have been introduced and await consideration,” the letter said. “But despite wake-up call after wake-up call, a shameful tradition of congressional inaction continues.”

    Congressional silence is not a sign of respect, but rather an institutional indictment,” it continued. “We must right this wrong.”

    Follow Fred Lucas (@FredVLucas3) on Twitter

  • 16th-Century Portrait Was So Over-Painted Historians ‘Mistook It for a Fake’ — Then They Uncovered Something Interesting Underneath
    Posted June 27, 2014 at 11:41 am by Liz Klimas

    Comments (27)

    The Victorian-era painting thought to portray Eleanor of Toledo showed a woman with a youthful face and a healthy glow, but art historians recently revealed the 16th-century, unsigned painting was altered and represents a completely different woman.

    The painting before restoration, initially thought to portray Eleanor of Toledo. (Image source: Carnegie Museum of Art)

    The painting before restoration, initially thought to portray Eleanor of Toledo. (Image source: Carnegie Museum of Art)

    The painting was so heavily over-painted, Carnegie Museum of Art curator Louise Lippincott told Carnegie Magazine, “we mistook it for a fake, fabricated to deceive.”

    Careful cleaning and restoration by conservator Ellen Baxter with the museum revealed a lady with paler complexion, a more pronounced nose, tired eyes and a higher forehead. Research revealed the uncovered painting wasn’t Eleanor of Toledo but her daughter, Isabella de Medici.

    After noticing cracks in the painting and conducting further analysis, researchers found that the painting had been altered. Restoration revealed it was X instead. (Image source: Carnegie Museum of Art)

    After noticing cracks in the painting and conducting further analysis, researchers found that the painting had been altered. Restoration revealed it was Isabella de Medici instead. (Image source: Carnegie Museum of Art)

    According to the museum, the piece was likely painted over to conform to 19th-century tastes, but in its original form it “[reveals] a portrait of much greater depth and personality.”

    The painting is part of the the museum’s exhibit “Faked, Forgotten, Found: Five Renaissance Paintings Investigated,” which opens Saturday.

    The painting mid-restoration. (Image source: Carnegie Museum of Art)

    The painting mid-restoration. (Image source: Carnegie Museum of Art)

    The restoration also revealed a vial in the image that was covered up, which Carnegie Magazine reports is supposed to represent one like that which Mary Magdalene used to anoint Jesus’ feet. Here’s more on the significance of including this piece in the original artwork (emphasis added):

    An intellectual who spoke many languages and entertained in a salon, Isabella, as the museum sleuths soon learned, was the favorite of her father, Grand Duke Cosimo. She married Paolo Orsini at age 16, a union so unhappy that Isabella remained in Florence while her husband lived in Rome. Isabella brazenly took lovers, including her husband’s cousin, and she got away with it under her father’s protection. But when her father died and her disapproving brother Ferdinando took over, Isabella met a terrible fate. Her husband and brother conspired to strangle her in 1576.

    Lippincott and Baxter believe that Isabella posed for the portrait and asked the artist to add the urn later on in a feeble attempt to rehabilitate her image from fallen woman to a pious one. The urn sits shallowly in her hand and its perspective isn’t quite right, which suggests it wasn’t part of the original composition. “This is literally the bad girl seeing the light,” Lippincott says.

    Lippincott told Carnegie Magazine from a distance the restored painting looks “magnificent.”

    “But up close, an expert will be able to tell modern retouches from the original in keeping with ethical conservation practices.”

    (H/T: Daily Mail)

  • Faith-Based Film’s Distributors Say They Were in For a Surprise When They Tried to Advertise in ‘Book of Mormon’ Broadway Program
    Posted June 27, 2014 at 11:36 am by Billy Hallowell

    Comments (115)

    Distributors of a feature film about the real-life abduction of Mormon missionaries were in for a big surprise when they attempted to advertise in a playbill for the traveling Broadway production of “The Book of Mormon,” a show that takes a satirical look at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    Spencer Harden, film acquisitions and development manager for distributor Cedar Fort, Inc., told TheBlaze that he hit roadblocks in placing ads for “The Saratov Approach” in playbills for “The Book of Mormon,” now touring across the country. The film is based on the real-life story of Mormon missionaries who were kidnapped in Russia in 1998.

    He said he had already arranged several ad buys for the film in late May when he reached out to a theater hosting “The Book of Mormon” in Detroit — and ran into trouble.

    (Cedar Fort, Inc.)

    The ad that was rejected for “The Book of Mormon” playbill in Detroit. (Image courtesy of Cedar Fort, Inc.)

    Harden said that when his team delivered an ad for consideration, the Detroit theater said it had to run the concept art by its producers, who subsequently rejected it.

    “By the time Detroit said, ‘No,’ we had already had approval in other cities … so it was really a surprise, because other theaters didn’t have to run it past producers to get permission,” Harden told TheBlaze. “I just don’t understand why they could have a problem with the content.”

    Harden then received an email from Scott Myers, a sales representative from Broadway in Detroit, who informed him that producers had taken issue with the film’s content and with the tagline, ”If you think they can sing and dance, you should see them in handcuffs.”

    “I have bad news. Our final program has to be approved by the producers of ‘The Book of Mormon’ and unfortunately they have asked us to not accept this ad,” Myers emailed.

    Harden spoke out to local media after his ad was rejected. Then, on June 10, he received a call from the Detroit team saying that the producers had seen a different version of the ad — one that was accepted for the play’s Memphis, Tennessee, run — and were willing to publish it.

    See a trailer for “The Saratov Approach” below:

    Ceder Fort ultimately placed the Memphis version of the ad, but Harden said it’s still unclear why the original design was rejected in the first place.

    Myers declined to comment to TheBlaze and said he was unable to provide contact information or names for the producers who made the decision.

    Stuart Thompson Productions, the New York production company behind “The Book of Mormon,” directed inquires back to Broadway officials in Detroit. Seemingly, no one was willing to publicly address the matter.

    “I’m left to speculate. That’s why I really wish we could get some kind of comment from them,” Harden told TheBlaze. “If it was too irreverent as far as the ad was concerned — I mean we’re talking about going from the ridiculousness with this play to the sublime.”

    Harden said he found it hard to believe that producers would have an issue with the ad’s tagline, considering the “ridiculous musical” and the stereotypes about Mormons in “The Book of Mormon.”

    Movie (Cedar Fort, Inc.)

    The Memphis, Tenn., ad that was accepted (Image courtesy of Cedar Fort, Inc.)

    “It’s hard for me to understand what basis they would use for rejecting the ad in the first place,” he added. “It does feel as though there might be a double standard here.”

    The message at the center of “The Saratov Approach” is in many ways the polar opposite of the sentiment embraced in “The Book of Mormon.”

    While Harden dubbed the Broadway production a religious satire intended to make fun of Mormon youths who go to third-world countries, “The Saratov Approach” shows the willingness of missionaries to risk their lives to help the poor and sick around the globe, he said.

    Placing the film ad in the programs was an attempt to offer access to a more favorable image of  Mormon missionaries who some believe are unfairly portrayed in the Broadway show, he said.

    “What we have is a true story about the real efforts missionaries do … this is true of kids who go out in Catholic and evangelical [circles as well],” Harden told TheBlaze. “We felt like there needed to be another voice in that conversation … . We wanted people to see the other side of the story and enter that conversation.”