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  • Member of De Blasio’s Transition Team Receives Award From Communist Group That Aims to ‘Popularize the Ideas of Marxism’
    Posted January 6, 2014 at 11:49 pm by Oliver Darcy

    Comments (121)

    A member of Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s transition team received an award from a communist group in December, according to the organization’s website.

    Zakiyah Ansari, advocacy director for Alliance for Quality Education, was given an award by People’s World on Dec. 8 at the group’s “Better World Awards.”

    Member of De Blasios Transition Team Receives Award From Communist Group That Aims to Popularize the Ideas of Marxism

    Zakiyah Ansari, a member of Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s transition team, received an award from a communist group last month. (Image source: Twitter)

    “From humble beginnings to advocacy director with the New York State Alliance for Quality Education, to member of the new mayor of New York City, Bill De Blasio’s transition team. Zakiyah Ansari, BWA honoree, told an extraordinary story of awareness and accomplishment,” People’s World said in an article published on their website.

    “Zakiyah was one of two New York City Coalition for Educational Justice parent leaders appointed to the City Council Task Force on Middle Schools. The Task Force led to recommendations adopted by the NYC Department of Education and the Campaign for Middle School Success,” the article added. “As a result, more than $30 million has gone to some of the lowest-performing middle grade schools to support school improvement efforts.”

    According to People’s World’s website, the group aims to “popularize the ideas of Marxism and Bill of Rights socialism” and enjoys a “special relationship with the Communist Party USA.”

    Ansari did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday evening from TheBlaze, but reports of her comments come on the heels of a lively debate about “communist” economic ideas that some are advocating millennials to champion.

    The debate was triggered by a Rolling Stone article penned by Jesse Myerson, which contended some things should be guaranteed to everyone, such as a job and basic income.

    The article was both widely skewered and praised.

    “The most promising of Myerson’s ideas is an unconditional basic income, which is a policy of sending checks to Americans simply for existing,” wrote Business Insider’s Josh Barro, who said he didn’t “see what’s supposed to be ‘communist’ about Myerson’s proposals.”

    However, other’s have slammed the suggestions.

    An article in The Federalist told Myerson, “Sorry, comrade, but you didn’t just discover the secret to making communism work.”

    “It’s one thing for the writers at Rolling Stone to think arrogantly, and without any pretense at basic historical accuracy or intellectual honesty,” The Federalist article said. “It’s another to publish articles in that fashion.”

    (H/T: Frontpage Mag)

    Follow Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) on Twitter

  • A Barefoot, Pants-Less Woman Did This to a Car Windshield While Stranded Occupants Helplessly Watched
    Posted January 6, 2014 at 11:39 pm by Liz Klimas

    Comments (167)

    An Oregon woman was arrested Sunday after she jumped barefoot onto a disabled vehicle’s windshield, crushing the glass.

    The incident occurred around 4:30 p.m. PST when two women, 61 and 53 years old, were waiting for gas to be delivered to their disabled car on Interstate 5 near the Corvallis interchange.

    victoria lohmann

    Victoria Lohmann’s mugshots after she was arrested for stamping in the windshield Sunday. (Image source: Oregon State Police via KGW-TV)

    A barefoot woman, later identified by Oregon State Police as 24-year-old Victoria Lohmann, approached the vehicle and dropped her pants, a news release about the incident explained.

    Lohmann left temporarily, prompting the women inside the car to lock their doors and windows. When Lohmann returned she stomped on the windshield of the car before running away.

    windshield caved in

    A barefoot woman caved in this car’s windshield as two women inside the disabled car were waiting for gas after they ran out. (Image source: Oregon State Police)

    Lohmann was found by authorities and treated for minor injuries before she was taken to the Linn County Jail. She was charged with criminal mischief, disorderly conduct and reckless endangerment of another person. Oregon police also found a suspected controlled substance on Lohmann and are testing it.

  • Brave Woman Shows What ’100 Days at the Gym’ Can Do
    Posted January 6, 2014 at 11:06 pm by Liz Klimas

    Comments (68)

    One year ago Lakeisha Shurn weighed 348 pounds. She admitted that she had low self-esteem and was depressed.

    “And I want to change all of that,” Shurn said in a YouTube video. “For the next 100 days, I will be on the journey of losing weight and finding myself.

    “I always thought of myself as someone who was unattractive or who was not fit to be married or have kids. I have a lot of friends that are moving in life and doing a lot of great things and I’m happy for them, but I still feel that I’m kind of stuck. I want you to see how one person really changes everything about their life,” she said.

    100 days at the gym

    Image source: YouTube

    Fast forward: Shurn lost 51 pounds since the start of 2013, 18 pounds of which were lost in a 100-day period. Now, it’s not a staggering number like the Texas man who lost 300 pounds in 18 months, but Shurn presents a realistic — and proud — example of what a bit of commitment can do.

    It wasn’t always easy though.

    “It is pouring cats and dogs … outside, but I’m going to go to the gym,” Shurn said, overcoming an excuse that many would have otherwise used to stay home. “I’m going to go work my butt off.”

    The rewards came when Shurn saw results. She expressed excitement when she was “out of the 300 club” and at the end showed she lost two pant sizes.

    And she showed off with a proud smile “something that I could not a couple of months ago but I can do now.”

    100 days at the gym

    Image source: YouTube

    Ultimately, Shurn wrote, “I found love in myself.”

    Watch Shurn’s inspirational video:

    Shurn’s video is a spinoff of the viral video of a woman teaching herself how to dance in a year. This woman started the “Give It 100″ challenge, which encourages people to practice something for 100 days.

    (H/T: Blaze reader Orion H.)

  • The Dad Who Had a ‘Sexual Appetite’ For His Own Daughter & Planned Her Abuse Before She Was Born Has Been Sentenced
    Posted January 6, 2014 at 10:42 pm by Oliver Darcy

    Comments (158)

    A father that planned to have sex with his own daughter before she was born — and ultimately did — was sentenced to life in prison in federal court in Orlando Monday.

    U.S. District Court judge Roy B. Dalton Jr. sentenced Jonathan Adleta, 25, to two life terms in prison for what he said were “heinous” crimes, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

    “This defendant is guilty of…the destruction and scarring of his own children.”
    Share:

    “This defendant is guilty of … the destruction and scarring of his own children,” Dalton Jr. said as he handed down the sentence.

    The Dad Who Had a Sexual Appetite For His Own Daughter & Planned Her Abuse Before She Was Born Has Been Sentenced

    Jonathan Adleta, 25. (Credit: Orlando Sentinel)

    Adleta, who was convicted of two child sex charges in September, plotted with his wife, Sarah, to make sex with their children “part of their parenting plan.” Sarah was sentenced to 54 years in prison in late October.

    Prosecutors said at the time that the former officer in the U.S. Marine Corps had a “sexual appetite” for his own daughter and repeatedly exploited her, even doing so through electronic video conferencing service Skype after he moved away.

    Adleta also asked one of his girlfriends to let him have sex with her child.

    The woman, Samantha Bryant, 23, not only allowed him to do so, but watched and even took pictures. At the request of Adleta, she also performed sex acts on her own daughter. Bryant eventually pled guilty to sexually assaulting her child.

    On Monday, the judge said Adleta had brought “dishonor to the Marine Corps,” according to the Orlando Sentinel.

    The Adleta’s two children will reportedly be placed for adoption.

    Follow Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) on Twitter

  • Even a Former White House Official Allegedly Said Obama Is Better at Campaigning Than Governing
    Posted January 6, 2014 at 9:56 pm by Becket Adams

    Comments (64)

    The first year of President Barack Obama’s second term has been rough because, let’s face it, he’s better at campaigning than he is at governing — or so says an unnamed former White House official.

    President Obama needs to “find an issue to campaign on, this is what he’s good at. He’s really good at campaigning, maybe not governing,” the source said, according to CNN political reporter Peter Hamby.

    Hamby claims the former White House official’s remarks were made just before Christmas while commenting on the president’s terrible poll numbers.

    Even a Former White House Official Allegedly Said President Accused of Being Better at Campaigning Than Governing

    President Barack Obama’s end-of-year job approval rating, according to Gallup.

    (H/T: Washington Free Beacon)

    Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter

  • Satanic Group Unveils Monument Planned For Oklahoma City Capitol — Here’s the Rendering
    Posted January 6, 2014 at 9:06 pm by Oliver Darcy

    Comments (278)

    Story by the Associated Press; Curated by Oliver Darcy.

    OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A satanic group has unveiled designs for a 7-foot-tall, goat-headed deity it wants at the Oklahoma state Capitol.

    The New York-based Satanic Temple released an artist’s rendering of the monument Monday. A spokesman says the group has formally submitted its application to a panel that oversees the Capitol grounds.

    The statue features a horned demon sitting in a pentagram-adorned throne with children next to it.

    Satanist Group Unveils Monument Planned For Oklahoma City Capitol — Heres the Rendering

    This artist’s rendering provided by the Satanic Temple shows a proposed monument that the New York-based Satanic group wants to place at the Oklahoma state Capitol. (AP Photo/Satanic Temple)

    The Satanic Temple says Oklahoma’s decision to put a Ten Commandments monument at the Capitol opened the door for its statute.

    Temple spokesman Lucien Greaves says it’s moving forward with plans to have its monument approved, despite the Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission’s decision to place a moratorium on new requests.

    The commission says it’s waiting until a lawsuit over the Ten Commandments has been settled.

    Follow Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) on Twitter

  • Jesse Jackson Praises Dennis Rodman’s ‘Diplomacy Efforts in North Korea’
    Posted January 6, 2014 at 8:39 pm by Oliver Darcy

    Comments (119)

    Rev. Jesse Jackson turned to Twitter on Monday to lavish praise on former NBA player Dennis Rodman for his North Korean “diplomacy efforts.”

    “Congrads @dennisrodman on your diplomacy efforts in North Korea,” the civil-rights icon said in a now deleted tweet. “It must be dark but you are a light!”

    Jesse Jackson Praises Dennis Rodmans Diplomacy Efforts in North Korea

    (Image source: Twitter via Twitchy)

    Jackson followed up that message with an additional tweet to Rodman saying that “ping pong diplomacy worked in China, and Basketball seems to work in North Korea. #KeepHopeAlive.”

    @ ping pong diplomacy worked in China, and Basketball seems to work in North Korea. #KeepHopeAlive
    Jesse Jackson Praises Dennis Rodmans Diplomacy Efforts in North Korea
    @RevJJackson
    Rev Jesse Jackson Sr

    Rodman, who has visited North Korea several times, says dictator Kim Jong-Un is his friend and is coaching the communist country’s basketball team.

    On Monday, CNN host Anderson Cooper said the former NBA player is “deeply stupid.”

    (H/T: Townhall)

    Follow Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) on Twitter

  • How Do a Rug, a Blaze Writer, and a Gas Leak All Equal a Lesson for the American People?
    Posted January 6, 2014 at 8:17 pm by Erica Ritz

    Comments (42)

    Returning from vacation Monday, Glenn Beck told his television audience about a gift so important he said he could lose “everything” at his ranch, but he would hate to lose this. The gift was a rug made by a listener in Spokane, Wash. that is affectionately called “the American storyteller rug.”

    Beck said he recently walked into his kitchen at the ranch and “somehow or another” a book about the rug was sitting on their kitchen table and “nobody knows how.” It was written by the rug’s maker, who described how a number of years ago, after hearing Beck reminisce about his grandparents’ rug, she was overwhelmed by the idea that she should make him a new one.

    Glenn Beck on American Story Rug, Mike Opelka Gas Leak, Lesson for the American People

    Glenn Beck speaks on The Glenn Beck Program Jan. 6, 2014. (Photo: TheBlaze TV)

    “What did I know?” she wrote, describing how she subsequently thought it was a silly idea and that she wasn’t even that good at the craft. But she went through with it anyway, collecting different fabrics as she found them. She included the military blanket of a soldier, a childhood dress of a woman now old, a piece of a jacket from a first job interview, and more in the rug.

    Beck said he cherishes the gift so much he moved it by the bookshelf, saying it was “far too important to be by the front door.”

    “Stop saying no. Stop saying it’s a dumb idea,” Beck told his audience. “Stop saying it can’t be done, shouldn’t be done …”

    Beck proceeded to tell a story about how one of his best friends, Blaze editor-at-large Mike Opelka, decided this year that he “was just going to listen to all of the promptings.”

    It may have saved his life this weekend when, in the middle of the night, Opelka felt a prompting to go check the hoses on all of the spigots outside. Most would’ve thought, “I wonder where that came from?” and gone back to bed, but he had made a promise that he would “listen and obey.”

    So Opelka got up and checked them all, stopping before he came to the one that was furthest away. But he said he would say yes, and so he went — and before he got close, he could smell the overpowering smell of a gas leak.

    “He immediately ran inside and called the gas company. Within ten minutes they arrived at the house. Said if he wouldn’t have found that gas … it would’ve blown everything up,” Beck related.

    One of the men who arrived couldn’t help but be a little curious as to what Opelka was doing outside in the middle of a freezing night. Opelka responded that he had a prompting to check the garden hoses.

    “The guy from the gas company just looked at him and said, ‘Boy somebody’s looking out for you,’” Beck continued. “Let me tell you something – somebody is always looking out for you. Somebody’s always trying to tell you … just do it.”

    He continued: “We all have a story to tell. We all have a reason to be here. We all have a job to do. And too many of us, unfortunately, are telling ourselves and others or are telling others, ‘No. That’s stupid. That’s foolish. Don’t do it.’”

    “Recognize the miracles that you have waiting inside of you, if you would just tell your story,” he concluded.

    Complimentary Clip from TheBlaze TV

    The full episode of The Glenn Beck Program, along with many other live streaming shows and thousands of hours of on-demand content, is available on just about any digital device. Get it all with a FREE TRIAL.

    Other Must-Read Stories:

  • Top Hollywood Director Storms Off Stage After Teleprompter Malfunction
    Posted January 6, 2014 at 7:53 pm by Oliver Darcy

    Comments (85)

    Director Michael Bay stormed off of the stage at the Consumer Electronics Show on Monday following a teleprompter malfunction.

    “Wow! I just embarrassed myself at CES,” the “Transformers” director wrote in a blog post following the incident.

    “I just embarrassed myself”
    Share:

    Video taken at the convention shows Bay first complain that “the type is all off” before saying he would try to “wing it.” He eventually gives up, abandoning the stage in frustration.

    “I rarely lend my name to any products, but this one is just stellar. I got so excited to talk, that I skipped over the Exec VP’s intro line and then the teleprompter got lost,” Bay said in his blog post.

    “Then the prompter went up and down – then I walked off,” he added. “I guess live shows aren’t my thing.”

    (H/T: TMZ)

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  • Financial Fraud Disproportionately Targets the Elderly
    Posted January 6, 2014 at 7:36 pm by Guest Post

    Comments (30)

    [Editor’s note: The following is a cross post by that originally appeared on CNBC.com]:

    Financial fraudsters have long preyed on the elderly. But with roughly 10,000 Americans turning 65 every day, the elderly population is growing so quickly that instances of financial fraud affecting the elderly are becoming ever more common.

    Kathleen Rehl, a certified financial planner and the author of “Moving Forward on your Own: A Financial Guidebook for Widows,” remembers all too well the time a financial fraud hit someone close to her.

    She was visiting her elderly aunt, Eileen Richey, who she said lived “a very moderate lifestyle.” On this visit, Richey asked Rehl to look at an investment she had made. Rehl smelled trouble, and when she saw what it was, she realized something was seriously amiss.

    “She said, ‘Well, I bought Iraqi dinars,” Rehl recalled. Apparently her friend’s nephew, whom she described as “such a nice young man,” had told Richey and others about this can’t-fail investment opportunity. Richey knew her CDs were yielding very little, so when they matured, she handed over several thousand dollars to buy dinars—”a huge amount for her,” Rehl said.

    Not surprisingly, the dinars never materialized. The last time Richey tried to call the nephew, she got no answer, and there was no answering machine.

    “She said, ‘I feel so dumb. I trusted him,” Rehl recalled. The icing on the cake: Richey told her the nephew apparently scammed his aunt as well.

    Many seniors living on fixed incomes in the current low interest rate environment feel strapped, which makes them more susceptible to deceptive pitches. Add in the many holiday season scams related to charitable giving, and this is a particularly vulnerable time for senior citizens.

    “All of these things combine to make the population vulnerable, and then it’s the end of the year. It’s just perfect timing in that way,” said Nora Dowd Eisenhower, assistant director of the Office of Older Americans at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

    Common scams include emails that appear to come from reputable charities but actually contain malware that steals the victim’s identifying information. Sometimes scammers pick up personal information about their targets from Facebook and use it to make their pitches more credible. Scammers also call seniors and purport to represent legitimate charities, exacting pledges and credit card information.

    Then there is the so-called grandma scam. An elderly person will receive a phone call, often late at night when they are more likely to be confused. The person on the phone identifies themself with something like “Hi Grandma, it’s your favorite grandchild.” They will follow with a tale of woe, perhaps saying they had their wallet stolen while traveling, and wrap up with a request that money be wired. Sometimes the scammer even asks the victim to keep this a little secret between the two of them, reducing the odds that the victim will ask a friend or relative whether the pitch makes sense.

    “The individual becomes isolated just by the very nature of the scam,” Eisenhower said.

    Ramsey Alwin, vice president for economic security at the National Council on Aging, points to another scam that surfaced last year. A victim would receive a message that he or she was eligible for a one-time stimulus check for seniors, and that the caller or email sender would gladly fill out the relevant tax forms for a fee. The pitches, she said, were “very similar to when there were legitimate one-time disbursements in the Bush and Obama administrations.”

    Seniors have several ways to protect themselves from scams like these. For starters, Alwin and others recommend maintaining social connections with friends and family and sharing stories of unusual calls or emails.

    “Often we find the victims are disconnected. That’s how these things can spiral out of control,” Alwin said.

    Reporting more scams could also help. Experts estimate that only around 5 percent of these scams are ever reported to authorities, partly because seniors feel ashamed and partly because they don’t want concerned relatives to take away their financial autonomy.

    A number of organizations also provide information on financial fraud targeting the elderly, including the Better Business Bureau, the National Council on Aging, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

    It’s important to be vigilant and avoid providing personal information online or over the phone. Rehl recalls a friend who got a call from someone pretending to be a relative and asking for money. Her friend started reminiscing about a recent family wedding and the caller agreed that it was terrific. “There was no wedding,” Rehl said, “so she knew it was a bogus call.”

    In New York, the Attorney General’s office has recovered more than $330,000 in penalties and costs from gas stations that gouged customers after Sandy. Consumers in New York can file complaints online.

    RELATED:

    ©2014 CNBC LLC. All Rights Reserved. Kelley Holland.

  • Watch a Water Bottle Freeze Seconds After Being Exposed to the ‘Polar Vortex’ (UPDATE: How To Do It Yourself)
    Posted January 6, 2014 at 7:18 pm by Oliver Darcy

    Comments (129)

    A video uploaded to the Internet Monday appears to show a bottle of water freeze within seconds amid brutally cold temperatures in Chicago.

    According to the YouTube description, the video was shot in minus 13 degree conditions on Monday. At the time of publication, the video’s view counter was stuck at 301.

    The bitter cold temperatures are part of the “Polar Vortex” which is currently sweeping across the Midwest and Northwest.

    Watch the video:

    (H/T: Business Insider)

    UPDATE:

    We think we’ve found an explanation for the rapid freezing: it’s actually a fun science experiment called “supercooling.”

    One blogger whose done it explains:

    Supercooling is the process of lowering the temperature of a liquid (or a gas) below its freezing point without it becoming solid. We know that water normally freezes at 0°C (32°F) so supercooled water will not freeze (becoming solid) when the temperature is below 0°C. However, it won’t stay in its liquid state forever because a reaction will occur after a while. Also, there are lots of factor affecting the process such as the quality of liquid used. I can’t really explain the whole phenomenon in details without using complex scientific terms. So, if you want more details about supercooling, you should do a research on your own.

    Basically, the water gets so cold but doesn’t freeze, and all it takes to jump start the freezing is a little shake.

    So does the woman in the above know that? Maybe, maybe not. She could have just stumbled onto the phenomenon without even knowing it.

    You can get instructions on how to do it yourself, but be warned: it appears it takes a lot of practice.

    Follow Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) on Twitter

  • Young Man Allegedly Murdered Two Friends Because He Wasn’t Satisfied With His Sleeping Arrangements
    Posted January 6, 2014 at 6:48 pm by Oliver Darcy

    Comments (144)

    A Florida man was arrested Monday after police say he killed two individuals over the weekend because he wasn’t satisfied with his sleeping arrangements.

    “I just know that he wanted that bed they were sleeping in,” Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Assistant Chief Chris Butler said, according to WOKV.

    Teen Allegedly Murdered Two Because He Wasnt Satisfied With His Sleeping Arrangements

    Keith Collins Jr. allegedly killed two individuals because he wasn’t satisfied with his sleeping arrangements. (Image source: Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office via WOKV)

    On Saturday, police say Keith Collins Jr., 24, shot to death Latricia Johnson and Emanuel Robinson, both 21, and wounded a third person. He was friends with the victims, according to WOKV.

    Collins Jr. was booked on Monday and charged with two counts of murder, one count of attempted murder and possession of a firearm by a felon, according to WTEV.

    Follow Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) on Twitter

  • Jay Carney Seemingly Rewrites White House’s Obamacare Enrollment Goals
    Posted January 6, 2014 at 6:33 pm by Becket Adams

    Comments (98)

    White House Press Secretary Jay Carney seemingly denied Monday that the Obama administration had hoped to have seven million consumers enrolled in Obamacare by March 31, 2014.

    Jay Carney Seemingly Rewrites White Houses Obamacare Enrollment Goals

    White House Press Secretary Jay Carney and his brand new beard (image source via @elliosch)

    Carney’s comments were in response to CBS News’ Major Garret questioning what appears to be a shift in the White House Obamacare enrollment goals.

    “You just said that the aggregate number at the end of March is less important than the demographic mix. Why is the administration backing away from the seven million — seven million-person enrollment figure that Kathleen Sebelius, Marilyn Tavenner and various other incarnations said was a goal and a legitimate goal and a reachable goal?” Garrett asked.

    “What I would say, Major, is that the seven million estimate was a CBO figure from earlier this year on how many people they thought would come in during the first enrollment period,” Carney responded.

    At least seven million enrollments are needed by March 31 to keep the government-run program financially stable, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

    “(W)e’re not backing away from a number that we didn’t put out originally,” Carney added, making it sound as if the White House hadn’t embraced the seven million figure. “I think that others noted that seven  million is a fine target but that that will not determine whether the marketplaces function effectively.”

    “But I mean Kathleen Sebelius said on September 30th — this is a direct quote — I think success looks like at least seven million people having signed up by the end of March 2014,” Garrett pressed. “This sounds like she’s embracing that, not just conceptually, but she said that’s what success looks like.”

    Indeed, Sebelius did say that (via the Washington Examiner’s Charlie Spiering):

    Constant glitches and general confusion surrounding the Obamacare website has undoubtedly slowed the number of enrollments.

    As of Dec. 1, the White House claimed 1.1 million Americans have “signed up” for Obamacare.

    However, as reported previously on TheBlaze, there is no payment option on the healthcare.gov website, meaning no one has actually paid to enroll in Obamacare.

    If there is no payment option on the healthcare.gov website, then there’s a question between who has “enrolled” (i.e. paid) and who has “signed up.”

    Sure, there may be 1.1 million “signups” — but that’s not the same as 1.1 million “enrollments.”

    Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter

  • Senate Confirms Janet Yellen as New Chair of Fed Reserve: Here Are the 11 Republicans Who Voted For Her
    Posted January 6, 2014 at 6:08 pm by Becket Adams

    Comments (147)

    The United States Senate voted 56-26 Monday to confirm Janet Yellen as the new head of the Federal Reserve.

    A Historic First: Senate Confirms Janet Yellen as New Chair of Fed Reserve

    President Barack Obama, Janet Yellen and Ben Bernanke (Getty Images)

    Here are the 11 Republicans who voted to confirm Yellen:

    1. Jeff Flake (Ariz.)
    2. Mark Kirk (Ill.)
    3. Bob Corker (Tenn.)
    4. Tom Coburn (Okla.)
    5. Lisa Collins (Maine)
    6. Dan Coats (In.)
    7. Saxby Chambliss (Ga.)
    8. Richard Burr (N.C.)
    9. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.)
    10. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.)
    11. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska)

    Yellen, 67, will succeed Ben Bernanke whose second term as Fed Chairman officially ends on Jan. 31.

    A former head of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Yellen will transition into her new leadership position after having spent four years as the central bank’s vice chair.

    Her successful confirmation marks the first time in the Fed’s 100-year history that a woman has been chosen to head the central bank.

    Here are the 26 GOP senators who voted against her nomination:

    1. John Barrasso (Wyo.)
    2. Roy Blunt (Mo.)
    3. John Boozman (Ark.)
    4. Thad Cochran (Miss.)
    5. John Cornyn (Texas)
    6. Mike Crapo (Idaho)
    7. Ted Cruz (Texas)
    8. Mike Enzi (Wyo.)
    9. Deb Fischer (Neb.)
    10. Chuck Grassley (Iowa)
    11. Dean Heller (Nev.)
    12. John Hoeven (N.D.)
    13. James Inhofe (Okla.)
    14. Johnny Isakson (Ga.)
    15. Mike Johanns (Neb.)
    16. Ron Johnson (Wis.)
    17. Mike Lee (Utah)
    18. James Risch (Idaho)
    19. Pat Roberts (Kan.)
    20. Marco Rubio (Florida)
    21. Tim Scott (S.C.)
    22. Jeff Sessions (Ala.)
    23. Richard Shelby (Ala.)
    24. Pat Toomey (Pa.)
    25. David Vitter (La.)
    26. Roger Wicker (Miss.)

    It was widely expected that President Barack Obama’s choice for the Fed chair would be confirmed by the Senate, but Yellen’s famous and vocal support for stimulative economic policies made several Republican lawmakers uneasy.

    “We’re five years into the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing program, and the economy is stuck in malaise. Printing money by the trillions is dangerous,” Texas Senator Ted Cruz said in a statement shortly after the Senate vote. “Janet Yellen has said she intends to continue current Fed policy, which may help Wall Street but is leaving Main Street with higher prices for gas and food, near-zero interest rates for savers, and stagnation for small businesses that aren’t growing or hiring.”

    “I’m also troubled that Ms. Yellen continues to oppose full transparency at the Fed — we need to audit the Fed now, so the American people can fully understand the scope and consequences of its recent extraordinary policies,” the senator said in the statement, adding that he could not vote for Yellen’s confirmation.

    Eighteen senators did not vote Monday. Of the 18 who didn’t vote, most of them, including noted Fed critic Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), were reportedly unable to return to the nation’s capital due to inclement weather.

    These are the 18 senators who didn’t vote:

    1. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.)
    2. Mark Begich (D-Alaska)
    3. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)
    4. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)
    5. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa)
    6. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)
    7. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.)
    8. Steve King (I-Maine)
    9. Ed Markey (D-Mass.)
    10. John McCain (R-Ariz.)
    11. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)
    12. Jeryr Moran (R-Kan.)
    13. Rand Paul (R-Ky.)
    14. Rob Portman (R-Ohio)
    15. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)
    16. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.)
    17. John Thune (R-S.D.)
    18. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)

    Yellen, whose final confirmation vote was announced on Dec. 19, will take over just weeks after the Fed announced it would reduce its $85 billion monthly bond purchases by at least $10 billion in 2014.

    President Barack Obama nominated Yellen in October after considering selecting Lawrence Summers, a former Treasury secretary who had been a close Obama adviser early in his presidency. Summers withdrew after opponents complained about his temperament and past support for bank deregulation.

    A Historic First: Senate Confirms Janet Yellen as New Chair of Fed Reserve

    Obama called Yellen a “proven leader” and hailed her frequent focus on the unemployed, saying, “She understands the human cost when people can’t find a job.”

    She will be the first Fed chair appointed by a Democratic president since Paul Volcker, who was appointed by President Jimmy Carter, left the post in 1987.

    Yellen will preside over her first Fed meetings as chair on March 18 and 19.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

    Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter

    This post has been updated.

  • Photos of the Fascinating — and Frigid — Ways Christians Around the World Celebrated the Epiphany
    Posted January 6, 2014 at 5:29 pm by Billy Hallowell

    Comments (60)

    Millions of Christians around the world celebrate Epiphany (also known as Theophany, El Dia de Los Tres Reyes and Three Kings Day) every year on Jan. 6. — a commemorative holiday that holds deep religious significance, as it marks the end of the 12 days of Christmas and is considered a remembrance of Jesus Christ’s importance to the faith.

    Roman Catholic and Protestant Christians generally focus on the story of the Wisemen finding Jesus, while Eastern Christians, including Greek Orthodox Christians, tend to commemorate the baptism of Jesus at the age of 30, according to The Huffington Post.

    Greek Orthodox churches also celebrate Jesus’ first miracle of turning water into wine at the wedding at Cana.

    Regardless of the focus, the holiday’s general meaning is the same. Beliefnet explains: “In both traditions the idea is the same: the revelation of Christ to the world — whether as an infant or as a 30-year-old.”

    Perhaps most noteworthy, though, are the entertaining, intriguing and downright frigid ways the holiday is celebrated.

    In Italy, Pope Francis remembered the day by visiting a living nativity. Lithuanians commemorated the holiday with festivities in the street — but others in Kalofer, Bulgaria and Larnaca, Cyprus (to name just two locations) — plunged into the frigid waters, diving after crosses and partaking in other related activities.

    See just some of these fascinating celebrations below and read more about Epiphany.

  • Roberts Refuses to Grant Obamacare Emergency Stay
    Posted January 6, 2014 at 5:15 pm by Associated Press

    Comments (280)

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has refused a group of doctors’ request to block implementation of the nation’s new health care law.

    Chief Justice John Roberts turned away without comment Monday an emergency stay request from the Association of American Physicians & Surgeons, Inc. and the Alliance for Natural Health USA.

    Roberts Refuses to Grant Obamacare Emergency Stay

    In this Oct. 8, 2010 file photo, Chief Justice John Roberts is seen during the group portrait at the Supreme Court Building in Washington. Congress and the White House need to restore funding to the nation’s federal courts to keep from undermining “the public’s confidence in all three branches of government,” Roberts said Tuesday in his year-end report. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

    They asked the chief justice Friday to temporarily block the law, saying Congress had passed it incorrectly by starting it in the Senate instead of the House. Revenue-raising bills are supposed to originate in the lower chamber. They also wanted blocked doctor registration requirements they say will make it harder for independent non-Medicare physicians to treat Medicare-eligible patients.

    Still pending is a decision on a temporary block on the law’s contraceptive coverage requirements, which was challenged by a group of nuns.

  • Chicago Just Set a New Record Low Today
    Posted January 6, 2014 at 4:51 pm by Oliver Darcy

    Comments (85)

    Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport recorded a new low for this date this morning as temperatures dropped to a brutal minus 16 degrees, breaking a record set over two decades ago.

    The previous record was minus 14 degrees, set in 1988, according to the Chicago Tribune. The coldest temperature on record for Chicago remains minus 27 on Jan. 20, 1985.

    Chicago Just Set a New Record Low Today

    The Chicago Skyline sits as a backdrop as fog drifts across Monroe Harbor with temperatures well below zero and wind chills expected to reach 40 to 50 below, Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

    The bitter cold temperatures are part of the “Polar Vortex” which is currently sweeping across the Midwest and Northwest.

    Medical professionals have warned that those not adequately dressed for the brutally cold weather could “die easily in those conditions.”

    This post has been updated.

    Follow Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) on Twitter

  • Why Is the NSA Buying a Maryland County’s Waste Water?
    Posted January 6, 2014 at 4:21 pm by Liz Klimas

    Comments (68)

    What does the NSA want with treated sewage?

    No, the spy agency, which has been criticized for its data collection programs, isn’t analyzing the water for any personal information. But it will use it to keep some of its data initiatives running.

    Servers that house massive amounts of data generate a lot of heat. Water is used to help cool such a center. The Utah Data Center, owned by the NSA in Bluffdale, has been speculated to use up to 1.7 million gallons of water each day.

    The Baltimore Sun reported that the NSA reached a deal last week with Howard County, Md., in which the county agreed to sell its waste water to the NSA for up to $2 million per year — not to mention the $40 million it’s putting in for a new pump station. It could provide up to 5 million gallons each day.

    NSA

    This June 6, 2013 file photo shows a sign outside the National Security Agency (NSA) campus in Fort Meade, Md. (AP/Patrick Semansky, File)

    The water will be used to cool the NSA’s High Performance Computing Center-2, which is is being built at the agency’s headquarters in Fort Mead, Md.

    The Sun reported the thoughts of county workers who were brought onto the project:

    Workers at the pump-station site on Route 198 underwent background checks and were made to sign nondisclosure forms before they were allowed to participate.

    Stephen C. Gerwin, chief of the county utilities bureau, called it “a peculiar project.”

    “I went on the base,” he said. “You watch a film and you sign a document that says if you say anything, you go to jail for a million years. They’re real tight about their security, as they should be.”

    From an environmental standpoint, the project has been hailed as more eco-friendly than alternatives, which would include drilling a well for groundwater.

    Harvey Davis, director of installation and logistics at the NSA, told the Sun the plan to use treated waste water from the county is “dramatically beneficial for the taxpayers and also really good for the ecosystem.”

    The project does have its critics:

    A coalition of rights groups has targeted similar deals elsewhere — notably in Utah, where the NSA recently completed a $1.5 billion data center — lobbying state lawmakers to make it illegal for local governments to supply water and other utilities to the agency.

    “Maryland is one of the most crucial states in this national campaign,” said Shahid Buttar, executive director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee in Washington. “Because Congress has been so abysmally dysfunctional and inactive in the oversight arena for the last 10 years, the municipal checks and balances are really all that we the people have had an opportunity to exercise.”

    The NSA isn’t the only one eyeing the county’s waste water either. The Sun reported Dreyer’s Ice Cream, which has to keep its facility cold for obvious reasons, might have a use for the water as well.

    An international debate regarding the NSA’s secretive data collection programs has been raging since former government contractor Edward Snowden leaked top secret information to media outlets beginning in June 2013.

    Recently, Sen. Rand Paul announced he was suing the Obama administration for the NSA’s “snooping on the American people.” Congress members also asked NSA whether it spied on the communications of elected officials, to which the NSA responded “members of Congress have the same privacy protections as all U.S. persons.”

    Featured image via Shutterstock.com.

    This story has been updated to correct the number of gallons speculated to be used by the Utah Data Center from 17 million gallons to 1.7 million gallons.

    (H/T: Gizmodo, Washington Post)

  • Carney Hits McCain and Graham After Iraq Criticism: If They’re Suggesting Americans ‘Should Be Fighting and Dying in Fallujah They Should Say So’
    Posted January 6, 2014 at 3:45 pm by Fred Lucas

    Comments (138)

    White House Press Secretary Jay Carney firmly responded to two Republican senators who criticized the administration’s Middle East policy in the wake of an Al Qaeda-affiliated group’s attack on Iraq.

    Carney Responds to McCain, Graham Criticism on Iraq Terrorist Attack

    White House press secretary Jay Carney speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Monday, Jan. 6, 2014. With Congress back, the Senate is expected to work on a three-month extension of benefits for the long-term unemployed. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) AP Photo/Susan Walsh

    Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina issued a joint statement after the attack on the Iraqi city of Fallujah that said, the “administration cannot escape its share of the blame,” primarily for withdrawing all U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011 before the initial Status of Forces Agreement called for the withdrawal.

    “I’ve heard members of Congress suggest this but if members are suggesting Americans should be fighting and dying in Fallujah, they should say so,” Carney said in response to a question about the McCain-Graham statement. “The president doesn’t believe that.”

    The two senators also insisted, “President Obama finally needs to decide on the missions and troop levels necessary to secure U.S. national security interests and support our Afghan partners beyond 2014.”

    Carney had a similar response.

    “If they believe we should not end our combat mission in Afghanistan, they should say so,” Carney said. “Now the president, when it comes to Afghanistan, has made clear that we should and we can have a continuing mission there focused on, solely on, training Afghan troops. But being able to do that requires the Afghan government.”

    The Saturday attack on Fallujah was carried out by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

    Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly said, “We will stand with the government of Iraq and with others who will push back against their efforts to destabilize.” But Kerry was clear, “We are not contemplating putting boots on the ground.”

    Carney said the U.S. has and will continue to assist the government of Iraq with military weaponry to help combat the terrorist.

    The McCain and Graham statement was released on Saturday shortly after the attack.

    “While many Iraqis are responsible for this strategic disaster, the Administration cannot escape its share of the blame,” the joint statement said. “When President Obama withdrew all U.S. forces from Iraq in 2011, over the objections of our military leaders and commanders on the ground, many of us predicted that the vacuum would be filled by America’s enemies and would emerge as a threat to U.S. national security interests. Sadly, that reality is now clearer than ever. What’s sadder still, the thousands of brave Americans who fought, shed their blood, and lost their friends to bring peace to Fallujah and Iraq are now left to wonder whether these sacrifices were in vain.”

  • Here’s How to Open a Can With Your Bare Hands
    Posted January 6, 2014 at 3:20 pm by Liz Klimas

    Comments (156)

    There are still tin cans out there that don’t have the handy pop-top tab for you to pull, and thus, require a can opener.

    But what if you don’t have access to the specialized, can-opening kitchen tool? What then?

    Enter a Russian outdoorsman to teach you how to open that can using only your bare hands. Now, unless you speak Russian, you’re not likely to understand what he’s saying, but we don’t think the language barrier is too much of a roadblock in his lesson.

    how to open a can with hands

    Image source: YouTube

    Step one: take off label.

    Step two: apply pressure with your thumbs on the center of the can, creating a divot.

    how to open a can with hands

    Image source: YouTube

    Step three: put your palms on either end of the can, interlace your fingers and push together against the can.

    how to open a can with hands

    Image source: YouTube

    Step four: do step two and three on the other, non-divot side of the can.

    Step five: depending on the contents of the can, liquid could be coming out of cracks you have created at this point. If careful, you could suck it out. Or, continue bending the can back and forth to get it to crack completely in two.

    how to open a can with hands

    Image source: YouTube

    The video by the YouTube user going by Grigoryi1 was posted a few months ago, but recently began gaining traction.

    Check it out:

    Now this trick was only intended for larger, tall cans.

    He has another tutorial for shorter cans, like tuna cans (Note: skip to 3:30):

    (H/T: Digg, Liveleak)

  • Hot List: What Should Happen to Edward Snowden?
    Posted January 6, 2014 at 3:06 pm by Amy Holmes

    Comments (54)

    Amy Holmes takes a look at the fate of NSA leaker Edward Snowden:

    Read today’s top story: Here’s how Rand Paul thinks Edward Snowden should be punished

  • Socialist Senator Reportedly Declares Pope Is on the Democrats’ Side
    Posted January 6, 2014 at 2:32 pm by Fred Lucas

    Comments (155)

    Professed socialist, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), said Democrats have an ally in Pope Francis in their plans for making income inequality their focus in the 2014 midterm elections, The New York Times reported.

    Sen. Bernie Sanders Believes Democrats Have Ally in Pope Francis

    Pope Francis celebrates a New Year’s Eve vespers service in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino) AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino

    Before taking their holiday break, the newspaper reports that the Senate Democratic caucus gathered, and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said that inequality should be the party’s focus.

    That’s when Sanders, who caucuses with Democrats despite being an independent, reportedly chimed in.

    “You know, we have a strong ally on our side in this issue — and that is the pope,” Sanders told the Democratic senators.

    Sanders describes his ideology as a democratic socialist, and is known for being outside the mainstream of even Democrats.

    Sanders, who is Jewish, touting Pope Francis to the Mormon Reid, excited Catholic Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, who said, “Bernie! You quote my pope; this is good.”

    Pope Francis issued a 51,000-word apostolic exhortation in November that called for greater compassion for the poor, and criticized an over-reliance on “trickle down” economic theories, saying “unfettered consumerism” often ignores – and can even hurt — the poorest in society.” Democrats and liberal commentators have seized on the message as advocating for liberal government policies.

    At a time when numerous Catholic-affiliated organizations are suing the Obama administration for requiring the coverage of abortifacients, contraception and sterilization for employees, the story quotes Democratic lawmakers as being happy that focus may be shifting.

    Sen. Patrick Leahy, also of Vermont and a Catholic Democrat, said he felt “liberated” after speaking at a Catholic college and getting no questions about abortion. The Times said Leahy “credited Francis for changing the tone.”

    “I felt such a relief,” Mr. Leahy said.

    The Catholic vote is never certain, making up about 24 percent of American voters. Since 1972, only one presidential candidate – George W. Bush in 2000 – lost the Catholic vote but won the presidency. Despite the constant conflict, Obama won the Catholic vote by a slim margin in 2012, beating Romney 50 percent to 48 percent among Catholic voters.

  • 10 Real Celebrity Names We Bet You Didn’t Know
    Posted January 6, 2014 at 2:08 pm by Becket Adams

    Comments (47)

    Almost everyone knows Bob Dylan’s real name is Robert Zimmerman and Mel Brooks’ real name is Melvin Kaminsky.

    But did you know Chevy Chase and Michael Caine have been using stage names? It’s true! And we’re willing to bet you didn’t know that.

    Here are 10 real names of famous celebrities we bet you didn’t know, as listed by Business Insider (which has a much lengthier list of 30):

    10. Reese Witherspoon (Laura Jeanne)

    Ten Real Celebrity Names We Bet You Didnt Know

    Reese Witherspoon in “Legally blonde” (image source: screen grab)

    Famous for her role in the Johnny Cash biopic “Walk the Line” as well as her performance in the romantic comedy “Sweet Home Alabama,” Witherspoon swapped her first and middle name in for “Reese,” her mother’s maiden name.

    9. Christopher Walker (Ronald Walken)

    Ten Real Celebrity Names We Bet You Didnt Know

    Christopher Walken in “The Deer Hunter” (image source screen grab)

    As it turns out, Walken was originally named for actor Ronald Coleman

    “The change in name came about after singer Monique Van Vooren, whom Walken worked for at the time, renamed him Christopher for no real apparent reason,” Business Insider (BI) notes. “The name stuck, though his friends still call him Ronnie.”

    8. Natalie Portman (Natalie Herschlag)

    Ten Real Celebrity Names We Bet You Didnt Know

    Portman played a key role in ensuring the Star Wars prequels were totally unwatchable (image source: screen grab)

    Known best for her performance in three terrible Star Wars movies, the “Garden State” actress was born Natalie Herschlag in Israel in 1981.

    Her father is named Avner Hershlag. The family of her American mother, Shelley Stevens, changed their named from “Edelstein” when they came to the United States from Austria and Russia.

    The “V for Vendetta” actress currently holds dual American and Israeli citizenship.

    7. Jodie Foster (Alicia Christian Foster)

    Ten Real Celebrity Names We Bet You Didnt Know

    Jodie Foster acts alongside Robert De Niro in Martin Scorsese’s classic “Taxi Driver” (image source: screen grab)

    It’s almost impossible to forget Foster for her role as a supposedly easygoing teenage prostitute in Martin Scorsese’s 1976 classic “Taxi Driver.”

    But it’s pretty easy to forget Jodie isn’t her real name.

    “Foster’s estranged brother Buddy claims her name change to ‘Jodie’ came as the result of a nickname, the code, ‘Jo D’ for their mother’s partner, Josephina Dominguez,” Business Insider notes, citing Buddy Fosters’ book, “Foster Child: A Biography of Jodie Foster.

    6. Jamie Foxx (Eric Marlon Bishop)

    Ten Real Celebrity Names We Bet You Didnt Know

    Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles in the 2004 biopic “Ray” (image source: screen grab)

    He made a name for himself with the popular television show “In Living Color” and had his superstar status confirmed by his performance in the 2004 Ray Charles biopic “Ray” – but none of it happened under his actual name.

    “Rumor has it Foxx picked an androgynous name because he noticed female comedians were often picked over men to perform at comedy clubs,” Business Insider notes.

    5. Ben Kingsley (Krishna Pandit Bhanji)

    Ten Real Celebrity Names We Bet You Didnt Know

    Ben Kingsley as Mahatma Gandhi (image source: screen grab)

    The Oscar-winning actor solidified his place as a Hollywood heavyweight with the 1982 epic “Ghandi.”

    But like Foxx and Walken, it wasn’t under his real name.

    The noted actor admitted in an “Inside the Actors Studio” interview that he believed his foreign name would hinder his professional career.

    4. Michael Caine (Maurice Joseph Micklewhite)

    Ten Real Celebrity Names We Bet You Didnt Know

    Michael Caine as Lt. Gonville Bromhead in the 1964 classic “Zulu” (image source: screen grab)

    From battling Zulus to scamming the wealthy as a dirty, rotten scoundrel to assisting master Bruce Wayne, Michael Caine is easily one of Hollywood’s most famous and beloved actors.

    But he didn’t get there by using his birth name.

    At the urging of his agent and as a tribute to his hero Humphrey Bogart, the British actor decided early on to take the name Caine, according to IMDB.

    “Bogart was my hero, and even though he came from a sort of snobby, aristocratic family—he was a distant relation of Princess Diana—when I was a kid I thought he was a tough guy,” Caine said in New York Magazine interview. “Any person with my working-class background would be a villain or a comic cipher, usually badly played, and with a rotten accent. There weren’t a lot of guys in England for me to look up to.”

    3. Chevy Chase (Cornelius Crane Chase)

    Ten Real Celebrity Names We Bet You Didnt Know

    Chevy Chase in one of his many skits lampooning then-President Gerald Ford (image source: Vanity Fair)

    You’re probably familiar with his National Lampoon comedies and his Saturday Night Live routines. But if you’re like most Americans, you probably had no idea Chevy Chase isn’t his real name.

    “Cornelius Crane Chase was named after his mother’s adoptive father, Cornelius Vanderbilt Crane, heir to the successful New York company, Crane Plumbing,” Business Insider notes.

    “The nickname Chevy was given by his grandmother, from the medieval English ‘The Ballad of Chevy Chase.’ As a descendant of the Scottish Clan Douglas, she felt the name ‘Chevy’ seemed fitting.”

    2. Meg Ryan (Margaret Mary Emily Anne Hyra)

    Ten Real Celebrity Names We Bet You Didnt Know

    Meg Ryan and co-star Tom Hanks in the 1990 comedy “Joe Versus the Volcano” (image source: screen grab)

    Did you know that Hollywood’s former rom-com darling has been working all these years under a fake name?

    We didn’t.

    “Born in Fairfield, Conn., to Roman Catholic parents named Susan Jordan and Harry Hyra, Margaret Mary Emily Anne Hyra changed her name to Meg Ryan after she dropped out of NYU one semester early to pursue her budding acting career,” BI notes.

    1. Joaquin Phoenix (Joaquin Rafael Bottom/Leaf Phoenix)

    Ten Real Celebrity Names We Bet You Didnt Know

    Joaquin Phoenix as the corrupt and murderous Roman emperor Commodus in Ridley Scott’s “Gladiator” (image source: screen grab)

    This actor’s decision to change his name — more than any other name change on this list — makes perfect sense.

    “Joaquin Rafael Bottom is the third of five children, all with equally interesting names, including River (1970–1993), Rain (1973), Liberty (1976), Summer, and a half-sister Jodean,” BI says. “After Joaquin’s parents, John Lee and Arlyn Bottom, married in 1969, the couple joined the religious cult the Children of God and traveled around South America. But they soon became disenchanted with the cult and moved back to the U.S. in 1978, where they changed their last name to ‘Phoenix’ to symbolize ‘new beginning.’”

    But it was Joaquin when he was younger who wanted to be called “Leaf,” perhaps in an attempt to identify with his siblings’ nature-related names.

    “In a past Jay Leno interview, Joaquin said he had originally called himself ‘Antleaf’ as a child,” BI adds. “Leaf would become the name he would use as a child actor until, at age 15, he changed it back to Joaquin.”

    Click here to see more from Business Insider.

    Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter

  • Watch Monday’s BlazeCast Rewind!
    Posted January 6, 2014 at 1:53 pm by Scott Baker

    Comments (3)

    This broadcast with TheBlaze Editor-in-Chief Scott Baker will begin at 2pm ET.

    To join the chat — there is a button on the top right of the player window or you can hover your cursor over the player window for options.

    To ask a question — click the button at the bottom.  We’ll be able to display your question or comment in the player window!

    And as always you can leave other comments in the regular comment section below!

  • Is Today the Most Depressing Day of the Year?
    Posted January 6, 2014 at 1:52 pm by Liz Klimas

    Comments (43)

    As record-cold temperatures sweep across much of America, you might be feeling a little down, sad, glum or grumpy today. But it might not be just the cold temperatures.

    depressed

    Some analysis has labeled Monday, Jan. 6, as the most depressing day of the year, but not everyone buys into this research. (Photo credit: Shutterstock)

    This Jan. 6 is actually being called, by some, the most depressing day of the year. There are a few reasons why.

    The obvious ones:

    1. It’s Monday. Not only is it a work day but it’s likely the first day back to work or school for many who took off the entire holiday season.
    2. Yes, the holidays are over — the next holiday for the majority of Americans (Memorial Day) is 142 days away. Cue the grumbles.

    Then there are the less obvious reasons. The Daily Mail has chronicled various factors — weather, divorce rates, etc. — that might make any day in January, not just the first Monday back to work, more likely to be depressing than other days of the year. Although its statistics are drawn from a British audience, similar sentiments could apply in the U.S. as well.

    The U.K. cites January as seeing its highest number of divorce filings, and the U.S. is no different. In an interview with the Huffington Post earlier this year, divorce lawyer Laura Wasser confirmed this statistic.

    “The first day back after winter break, it’s usually January second, third, fourth, is often very busy. And I don’t know exactly why that is, but I would imagine it’s because a lot of people say ‘I just can’t do this again. I can’t do that Thanksgiving to New Years run one more year with this person,’” she told HuffPost.

    Other points that could contribute to a more depressed state of mind could include debt after the holidays and already failing to keep one’s New Year’s resolutions. Being run down and holiday traveling could have also made people more susceptible to illness, though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention puts February as the top month for flu incidents.

    This year’s “Blue Monday” news seems to be spurred on by a protein drink sold in the U.K. called Upbeat. Upbeat recently released what it considers its analysis of the “mood of the nation” for 2013.

    Upbeat explained that its analysis included evaluating the mood of Twitter conversations over the last year to come up with a “unique score between 0 and 100 to provide a ‘happiness index’ of the nation’s mood.”

    While Christmas Day seemed to be the happiest day of 2013, based on its measurements for January 2013, the day returning back from the holidays appeared to be the most depressed.

    Some would argue there’s “no such thing as ‘the most depressing day of the year.’” The Guardian’s Head Quarters blog blasted Upbeat’s research:

    While at first it comes across as a re-packaging of earlier guff about Blue Monday for the sake of promoting a product, on closer inspection it appears to be more insidious in nature. We’re all bored of nonsense pseudoscientific equations now. But analyzing Twitter activity is new and different. Upbeat has changed the game, and the press release comes across in a way that suggests that somehow, there is a clear way to quantify how “depressing” a given day is. But it is based on an assumption that has never been tested – that tweets are an accurate reflection of the mental wellbeing of the entire population – so it’s impossible to know how meaningful or informative the research actually is.

    And because it sounds more believable than a stupid equation, it further promotes the trivialisation of depression. Moaning on Twitter about having to go back to work after the holidays is not depression. Likewise, there doesn’t appear to be a generalised set of factors that will cause widespread depression across the nation at exactly the same time. Depression doesn’t work like that, and to suggest that it’s something minor that everyone goes through from time to time belittles actual clinical depression and makes those who suffer from it acutely aware of how difficult it is to explain to people what they’re going through.

    Overall, The Guardian’s Head Quarters writer believes “Blue Monday” correlations, in general, are a “load of rubbish” used as a “gimmick” to promote products.

    What do you think? Is there such a thing as a collective “most depressing day of the year?” Is today it?

    Let us know your thoughts by taking our poll:

    Featured image via Shutterstock.