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  • Texas Tells NFL Their Gun Laws Don’t Apply Here
    Posted February 20, 2014 at 1:32 pm by Becket Adams

    Comments (273)

    The National Football League passed a new rule that bans off-duty police officers from bringing guns inside stadiums – but Texas has chosen to adhere to the policy in its own way.

    The sunsets past AT&T Stadium on October 6, 2013 in Arlington, Texas (Getty Images)

    Texas state law states that so long as off-duty law enforcement officers check in at specific gates and let stadium employees know where they’ll be sitting, they will be allowed to carry a firearm, according to KTXA-TV.

    This flies in the face of an NFL memo that declares that off-duty officers who “attempt to bring firearms into an NFL facility will be denied entry.”

    Ron Pinkston of the Dallas Police Association told KTXA that he think the law is “sensible” and prudent.

    “Our officers are 24/7, on or off duty, and if they run into a critical incident – they are required to take action” he said. “Our officers will be allowed to carry their weapon into AT&T Stadium and other football stadiums in the State of Texas due to Texas law.”

    Off-duty police officers in Texas often carry their firearms everywhere they go because of their oath to “protect and serve the public,” he said.

    Mac Tristan, president of the Texas Police Association, told KTXA the rule that requires off-duty police officers to inform stadium employees as to their whereabouts makes sense.

    “I want a specific plan to know where all of my officers are,” Tristan said.

    Meanwhile, in other stadiums around the country, the NFL policy only allows law enforcement officers “specifically assigned to work security at the games, or private security officers contracted for stadium protection” to carry a firearm.

    The reasoning behind the NFL’s firearm policy in the first place?

    The NFL believes its stadiums already provide adequate security and, therefore, that armed off-duty police officers are unnecessary.

    Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter

    This post has been updated.

  • The Case That Patients’ Rights Advocates Call an ‘Atrocity’
    Posted February 20, 2014 at 1:11 pm by Liz Klimas

    Comments (66)

    There’s a larger issue in the case of the Connecticut teenager held by a Massachusetts hospital and treated for a disputed diagnosis against her parents’ will for the last year, patients’ rights advocates say.

    Diane O’Leary, executive director of the Coalition for Diagnostic Rights, told TheBlaze that even if it were determined that Justina Pelletier doesn’t have mitochondrial disease, and does have somatoform disorder — a disorder that says her symptoms are all in her head — and that her parents were truly over-medicalizing her as they have been accused, her rights and her parents’ rights were still violated.

    “Even if that’s the case, this is an atrocity,” O’Leary said. “Because during those initial days when her parents said ‘this is our doctor, this is who we came to see,’ there is no justification for denying them the right to see that doctor or to take their child for a second opinion.”

    O’Leary said the Pelletier case, which has been playing out in Boston juvenile court for the last year, should open a national conversation about patients’ rights, and — in the case of minor patients — the rights of their parents.

    Justina Pelletier with her parents, Linda and Lou.  Justina has been in the custody of the state of Massachusetts since last year. (Image source: Facebook)

    Justina Pelletier with her parents, Linda and Lou. Justina has been in the custody of the state of Massachusetts since last year. (Image source: Facebook)

    “This is not the government creeping in to take your rights,” O’Leary said. “Doctors have been creeping in to take your rights for generations. This happens every day to millions of people in the U.S. alone. This case is an opportunity to bring these patients out.”

    What O’Leary is talking about are cases in which patients are told by physicians the symptoms they are experiencing are “all in their head.” Not that they are not truly experiencing physical symptoms, but that the cause is psychological. Such disorders include somatoform disorder, conversion disorder, body dysmorphic disorder and more.

    That’s what doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital told Justina’s parents, Lou and Linda Pelletier, that their daughter had when they brought her to see a gastrointestinal doctor in February 2013. Under the care of doctors at Tufts Medical Center, the parents had been treating Justina for mitochondrial disease, a disease with symptoms that result due to a defect in cells’ mitochondria, the energy-producing organelle. But the parents were advised by a Connecticut hospital to bring the teen to Boston Children’s Hospital when she needed extra care after getting the flu.

    At Boston Children’s, Justina was seen not by the doctor advised by her medical team but a neurologist who said she had somatoform disorder, not mitochondrial disease, Lou Pelletier told TheBlaze earlier this week, breaking a court-imposed gag order, which has since seen a filing asking that he be held in contempt of court.

    When Justina’s parents learned a couple of days later that Boston Children’s doctors wanted to take her off prescribed mitochondrial treatments and start a different regimen, they disagreed. When they tried to take her from Boston Children’s to Tufts instead, they were met with a form from the state Department of Children & Families accusing them of over-medicalizing their child, alleging medical abuse and that removed her from their custody. Justina has been in DCF custody for more than a year, not receiving medical treatment for the diagnosed mitochondrial disease, while Lou and Linda Pelletier battle in the court.

    Diane O'Leary argues that regardless of Justina Pelletier's diagnosis, her rights and those of her parents were violated. (Image source: Coalition for Diagnostic Rights)

    Diane O’Leary argues that regardless of Justina Pelletier’s diagnosis, her rights and those of her parents have been violated. (Image source: Coalition for Diagnostic Rights)

    Bridget Mildon started FDN Hope, a group for patients who were diagnosed with functional neurological disorders, after she experienced heart attack-like symptoms for years. When doctors couldn’t figure out what was causing it, they said it was in her head — that it was psychological.

    She was eventually diagnosed with Sneddon’s syndrome, a disease affecting the arteries. After she started receiving treatment for this syndrome, Mildon said she went from the “point where I was dying” to one where she is functioning.

    O’Leary has Sneddon’s syndrome, too. It took 12 years to diagnose, and her sister died from complications from the same disease after initially being told by doctors that she had somatoform disorder.

    “What we do is try to address the reckless ‘it’s all in your head’ diagnoses,” O’Leary said of the patient advocacy coalition. “Whatever label is being used, we’re trying to expose the fact that those diagnoses are made recklessly in a huge number of cases. People are suffering and dying … in this process where doctors override patients’ rights.”

    What’s more, Mildon said, once a diagnosis like this is placed on a patient’s file, it’s difficult for them to have other opinions considered by other doctors.

    “It is often the last diagnosis a patient will ever get because every symptom is then viewed as functional or somatic,” Mildon said.

    O’Leary explained the thought process that might be going on here: when a doctor tells a patient what they’re experiencing is a result of a psychological disorder, doctors might then deduce that a patient — if they don’t believe the root cause is psychological — can therefore no longer make decisions about their symptoms. If the patient can’t make decisions about these symptoms, then the doctor might think he or she should make decisions for the patient.

    “. . . they are guilty of absurd faith in their own indefensible hunches.”
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    This not only results in doctors overriding a patient’s right to choose, in some cases, but also “results in doctors overriding other doctors,” O’Leary said.

    O’Leary said she truly believes that doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital thought what they were doing for Justina was right, at least at first.

    “BCH doctors aren’t trying to cause Justina pain,” she said. “They’re doctors, they’re not trying to harm poeple. Clearly they believe — or they did believe — that it was in her best interest to take away all medications and try to train her to control symptoms. But they are guilty of absurd faith in their own indefensible hunches. They’re guilty of not noticing that these diagnoses don’t have medical support. They’re guilty of violating of her rights. Even if Justina isn’t sick … even if she has somatoform, still they violated her fundamental patient’s rights.”

    O’Leary said that if doctors had adhered to what she says are a patient’s rights in the first place, it “would have forced them to collaborate with the other doctors, to collaborate with the guy at Tufts. They would have to respect her parents’ decision. And it would force the doctor who says it’s all in her head to make a case for it … if [this case was] not convincing, then [the Tufts doctor's] opinion would have prevailed.”

    But what exactly are patient’s rights? Though there are ethical codes and regulations that medical professionals adhere to and many states and institutions have instituted “Patient’s Bill of Rights,” there isn’t necessarily a national one. President Barack Obama introduced a Patient’s Bill of Rights in 2010, which applies to a patient’s right to health coverage.

    The Coalition for Diagnostic Rights presents 24 rights it wants patients, especially those facing a somatoform diagnosis, to know. The coalition sent a letter to the judge presiding in the Pelletiers’ case with 10 rights they say were violated.

    In response to the coalition’s letter, Boston Children’s Hospital emailed WTIC-TV a statement: “The allegations in the letter of the Coalition for Diagnostic Rights pertaining to Boston Children’s Hospital are incorrect and appear to be based on inaccurate and misleading information.  The hospital has no further comment.”

    O’Leary told TheBlaze she thinks if Justina is found to have mitochondrial disease and wasn’t treated for it for more than a year by the hospital, a case could be made that her Eighth Amendment rights — those protecting her against cruel and unusual punishment — were violated.

    “We’re trying to press here that when she’s found to be sick, which seems inevitable at this point, that’s when we need to make a big fuss about the Constitution,” O’Leary said. 

    “Even when parents’ rights get set aside because of suspected child abuse,” something O’Leary said is being “recklessly” used these days in court, “that is not a sound reason for violating the patient’s rights.”

    To O’Leary, it’s changing the protocols of how doctors treat patients that they think have psychosomatic disorders that’s the larger issue at play here.

    “There is no patient who is conscious who is not threatened by this problem. There is nothing that is free from doctor’s instant stereotype hunches.”

  • EU Votes to Impose Sanctions on Ukrainian Officials Responsible for Violence
    Posted February 20, 2014 at 1:01 pm by Associated Press

    Comments (4)

    BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union voted on Thursday to impose sanctions against those held responsible for the violence in Ukraine.

    The sanctions, unanimously approved by EU foreign ministers at an emergency meeting, include a travel ban to the 28-nation bloc and the freezing of assets held in EU countries.

    A protester sets light to a portrait of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich during a protest against the violence in Ukraine at Prague´s Wenceslas Square, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. (AP,CTK/Michal Krumphanzl)

    The sanctions will target “those responsible for human rights violations, violence and use of excessive force” in Ukraine, the EU said in a statement.

    It said the bloc will soon establish a list of those who will be affected by the sanctions.

    When asked if they would target Ukrainian officials and opposition activists held responsible for violence, EU diplomat Catherine Ashton noted that the primary responsibility lies with the government.

    “The responsibility to stop the violence rests squarely with those in power, and we urge them to do so as fast as possible,” she told reporters after the meeting in Brussels.

    The EU is “truly alarmed and shocked by the violence that has taken place,” Ashton said.

    The bloc acted as street battles between anti-government protesters and police left scores of people dead and hundreds wounded in the last few days in the ex-Soviet state.

    The United States, which has threatened to impose sanctions, already has canceled the visas of several Ukrainian officials connected with the police violence.

    In Brussels, the EU ministers also said the bloc’s member countries agreed “to suspend export licenses on equipment which might be used for internal repression” in Ukraine.

    The equipment wasn’t identified, but it could include items such as firearms, ammunition, vehicles equipped with water cannons and anti-riot protection gear for law enforcement officials.

    Ashton said the EU foreign ministers agreed that the scope of the sanctions will be adjusted according to developments in Ukraine. That leaves the EU leeway as it seeks to broker a peaceful solution to the conflict there.

    The Brussels meeting was held as the foreign ministers of Germany, France and Poland held talks with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich and opposition leaders in Kiev on Thursday aimed at ending the violence.

    “There is a widespread horror in the European Union as well as in the United Kingdom at the scale of the loss of innocent life and the events of the last 48 hours,” British Foreign Minister William Hague said in Brussels.

    Meanwhile, top officials in Europe and the United States talked with one another on the telephone about the Ukraine crisis Thursday.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke with British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to emphasize “the need for an immediate end to bloodshed and urgent steps to stabilize the situation and stop extremist and terrorist actions,” the Kremlin said in a statement.

    Merkel said that in separate conversations she had with Putin and President Barack Obama she briefed them about the trip of the three EU foreign ministers to Kiev.

    She said she, Putin and Obama agreed that a political solution must be found as soon as possible to prevent further bloodshed in Ukraine.

    NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon also expressed concern about Ukraine’s violence.

    In an interview with The Associated Press in Athens on Thursday, Fogh Rasmussen said Ukraine’s government has a “special responsibility not to use excessive force,” and he urged the country’s military to remain neutral.

    He said NATO defense ministers would meet in Brussels next week and would likely “review our relationship with Ukraine,” which isn’t a member of the alliance but participates in its operations and exercises.

    Ban called for an immediate end to the violence in Kiev, “and a return to real, genuine, constructive dialogue,” said U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said.

  • McDonald’s Employee Buys Firefighters a Meal. Next Thing She Knows, She’s Out of a Job.
    Posted February 20, 2014 at 12:24 pm by Becket Adams

    Comments (352)

    A 23-year-old New York woman was fired from her job at McDonald’s after she bought breakfast for a group of firefighters in her community.

    Heather Levia, a mother of twins who was working two jobs to put herself through nursing school, said she knew the firefighters had been working in sub-zero temperatures.

    A New York woman said she was fired just one day after treating local firefighters to a free meal (image source: Facebook via The Daily Mail)

    A New York woman said she was fired after treating local firefighters to a free meal (Image source: Facebook via the Daily Mail)

    As the morning manager at a McDonald’s in Olean, N.Y., she pulled out $83 of her own money and decided to buy them their 25 breakfast sandwiches and hash browns, according to WIVB-TV.

    “Just because I appreciate everything they do,” she said.

    Then, another group of firefighters stopped by and ordered about $70 worth of breakfast.

    Image source: WIVB-TV

    Heather Levia was fired after she bought food for firefighters who stopped in at the McDonald’s where she worked. (Image source: WIVB-TV)

    Levia said she texted her manager to see if the store could expense their breakfast. He said no. She then called the corporate office and asked the same question, explaining that she thought it was the company’s policy to treat first responders from time to time to a complimentary meal.

    “It’s very common in our store,” she said.

    After she was told again that she couldn’t expense the firefighters’ food, she and her coworkers ponied up and bought the firefighters breakfast.

    That’s when things took a turn: Some of the firefighters discovered that Levia paid for their meals.

    Levia used to be a morning shift manager at a McDonald's in Olean, N.Y. (image source: WIVB-TV)

    Levia used to be a morning shift manager at a McDonald’s in Olean, N.Y. (Image source: WIVB-TV)

    Believing that the store had forced her to pick up their tab, a few of them called the corporate office, complaining about what they thought was a pretty unfair deal for the mom.

    “You opened a whole bees nest,” Levia said she was later told by her manager.

    When she showed up for her next shift, after eight years on the job, she was fired. The reason? She supposedly “swore” at her manager, a claim she denies.

    “I did say this is ‘freaking’ ridiculous. But it was not implied to anybody,” she said.

    For their part, the firefighters said they didn’t expect her to pay for their meals and that they are extremely grateful.

    The firefighters said they were grateful for the complimentary meals (image source: WIVB-TV)

    The firefighters said they were grateful for the complimentary meals. (Image source: WIVB-TV)

    “It was a shock. We certainly regret the fact she lost her job. We can’t speak on corporate policy because we don’t know the background of it,” Allegany Fire spokesman Gordon Scott told WIVB-TV. “It was a sad affair because a gentleman lost a home. And it’s even worse because we know now that this gal apparently lost her job because of it.”

    Levia added: “It’s just wrong. I wish the communities would change and help each other out. I wish that things didn’t have to be the way they are. And if losing my job is going to speak out to the community, then that’s what it’s going to do.”

    The owner of the Olean McDonald’s provided WIVB-TV with the following statement:

    The Meyers Organization has always valued the employees who serve our customers every day. We likewise continue to be an ardent supporter of our police and fire departments, along with other first responders. They are always welcome in our restaurants, and we will continue to support them in the future.

    We are aware that certain allegations have been made concerning the reasons for Heather Levia’s termination. Out of respect for Ms. Levia and her privacy, it would not be appropriate to comment in detail on the reasons she is no longer employed by our organization. Still, it should be pointed out that the allegations are absolutely not true. We would never penalize an employee for showing appropriate gratitude for the work of our firefighters.

    Levia said she has been approached with multiple job offers since her story has gotten out.

    --

    Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter

  • ‘Obviously Disturbed’: Surveillance Video Captures Moment Man Sets Himself on Fire in Supermarket
    Posted February 20, 2014 at 11:55 am by Dave Urbanski

    Comments (32)

    An “obviously disturbed” man grabbed a bottle of rubbing alcohol from a supermarket shelf, poured the contents on his body, then used a lighter to set himself on fire in an incident captured by the store’s surveillance camera.

    The incident occurred at a Kroger store in Covington, Ga., on Tuesday. The man sustained second-degree burns and was transported to a hospital. Three police officers sustained minor injuries when they came to assist him, the Covington News reported.

    Image source: Surveillance video via WGCL-TV

    Image source: WGCL-TV

    Image source: Surveillance video via WGCL-TV

    Image source: WGCL-TV

    “He was obviously disturbed. He was pulling things off the shelves and he was throwing them on the ground. He took rubbing alcohol from the shelves and drenched himself with it. He lunged at an officer,” Covington Police Capt. Ken Malcom told the newspaper. “Officers were able to tackle him. He had a lighter on him and he set himself on fire.”

    Image source: Surveillance video via WGCL-TV

    Image source: WGCL-TV

    Malcom said officers extinguished the fire quickly, but two of them received minor burns while a third officer was sprayed in the face with the fire extinguisher.

    Image source: Surveillance video via WGCL-TV

    Image source: Surveillance video via WGCL-TV

    Tim Singleton, 26, was charged with aggravated assault and other offenses.

    Image source: Surveillance video via WGCL-TV

    Image source: Surveillance video via WGCL-TV

    Store manager Horace McCullough, who’s been with Kroger for 30 years, told the Covington News, “this is the first time I’ve ever seen or heard of something like this. People have set fire to stores before, but never themselves. It’s the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.”

    Charlotte Epps was writing a check for her groceries when the store was evacuated and didn’t get a chance to pay, so she waited for store officials to square things away.

    “I accidentally stole this greeting card,” she said.

    (H/T: WGCL-TV)

    This story has been updated.

  • What an Olympic Athlete Filmed in the Hall Would’ve Been Terrifying… If It Wasn’t a Jimmy Kimmel Hoax
    Posted February 20, 2014 at 11:23 am by Liz Klimas

    Comments (102)

    American Olympic luge athlete Kate Hansen cracked open a door in Sochi’s Olympic Village last night and peered into the hallway. She had to film what she saw.

    “Wolf in my hall?” she tweeted of her video evidence, using the popular hashtag #SochiFail.

    Image source: YouTube

    Image source: YouTube

    “I’m pretty sure this is a wolf wandering my hall in Sochi,” Hansen said on YouTube.

    Image source: YouTube

    Image source: YouTube

    Watch the 17-second clip to see what you think:

    With stray dogs a common sight on the streets of Russian cities, could it have been a stray Siberian Husky with some more wolf-like characteristics? Or could Hansen be pranking us with a hoax?

    Regardless, add this to the list of “SochiFails” that have been cited at the 2014 Games hosted by the Russian town, including the opening ceremonies gaffe, the blocking of American yogurt, the questionable water quality and signs showing what you can and can’t do with a toilet.

    Update: Jimmy Kimmel announced later Thursday that he and Olympian Kate Hansen worked together on the idea, which is in fact a hoax. Hansen plans to Skype into Kimmel’s show later tonight to talk about the prank. This is not the first time Kimmel has been behind a viral prank — let’s not forget the “twerking fail” video.

  • The Insulting Move State Lawmakers Made to Mock Common Core Opponents
    Posted February 20, 2014 at 11:15 am by Fred Lucas

    Comments (118)

    Lawmakers in Missouri added $8 to the state’s proposed budget for tin foil hats for opponents of Common Core.

    An anti-Common Core rally at the Mississippi Capitol in Jackson, Miss., Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014.  (AP/Rogelio V. Solis)

    The mocking amendment was proposed by state House education funding committee chairman Rep. Mike Lair, a Republican who is also a retired teacher, the Associated Press reported.

    The provision cleared the funding panel in a bipartisan vote, and the budget will now go to the full House for a vote.

    The amendment specified that the $8 would fund “two rolls of high density aluminum to create headgear designed to deflect drone and/or black helicopter mind reading and control technology.”

    The Common Core K-12 education standards for math and English were developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The Obama administration also supports the standards, which have been adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia.

    As Missouri legislators engage in mockery, Common Core opposition has expanded well beyond regular political boundaries.

    On Capitol Hill, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina introduced a resolution with eight other Senate Republican co-sponsors contending that the carrot-and-stick approach used by the Department of Education for federal grants is making Common Core a de facto national curriculum. A similar House resolution has more than 40 co-sponsors.

    (Source: Shutterstock)

    (Source: Shutterstock)

    On Wednesday, the nation’s largest teachers union, the National Education Association, expressed strong criticism of Common Core.

    “I am sure it won’t come as a surprise to hear that in far too many states, implementation has been completely botched,” president Dennis Van Roekel wrote in a letter to the union’s 3 million members.

    “Seven of ten teachers believe that implementation of the standards is going poorly in their schools,” he wrote. “Worse yet, teachers report that there has been little to no attempt to allow educators to share what’s needed to get [Common Core State Standards] implementation right. In fact, two-thirds of all teachers report that they have not even been asked how to implement these new standards in their classrooms.”

    Note: You can hear Doc Thompson and his interview with Heidi Huber from Ohioans Against Common Core and her overview of why she’s against the program, courtesy of TheBlaze Radio.

    (H/T Kansas City Star)

  • These Are the Mug Shots of the Alleged Crooks Accused of Beating a Vet Who Later Died
    Posted February 20, 2014 at 10:33 am by Billy Hallowell

    Comments (242)

    An 86-year-old Korean War veteran died earlier this month days after he was beaten and stabbed during a violent home robbery.

    Carroll Jordan of Chickasaw, Ala., was attacked on Jan. 27 and died 12 days later as a result of complications from surgery.

    Considering the brutal nature of the crime, two of the suspects charged in Jordan’s death — DeAngelo Terrell Smith, 21, Yasmine Munnerlyn, 19 — sported some curious grins in their mug shots.

    The third suspect, and Carlos Nottingham, 20, had a more somber look in his official police photo.

    Image source:  From left to right, 21-year-old DeAngelo Terrell Smith, 19-year-old Yasmine Munnerlyn and 20-year-old Carlos Nottingham, were arrested by Chickasaw police and charged with attempted murder and first-degree burglary in the Jan. 27, 2014, beating and stabbing of an 86-year-old man. Police believe the trio was trying to burglarize the man's house when they attacked him. (Courtesy of the Mobile County Sheriff's Office)

    From left to right: DeAngelo Terrell Smith, 21, Yasmine Munnerlyn, 19, and Carlos Nottingham, 20. (Image source: Mobile County Sheriff’s Office)

    The three, who have reportedly had past issues with the law, allegedly broke into Jordan’s home to commit robbery, WKRG-TV reported.

    According to Opposing Views, they attempted to steal a flat-screen television and a wedding ring.

    A fourth person, 18-year-old Robert Campbell, was also arrested, but charges were later dropped as there was no evidence he was involved in the home invasion.

    Smith, Munnerlyn and Nottingham were initially arrested and charged with attempted murder and burglary, but after Jordan’s death, they were accused of capital murder.

    This latter charge was dropped following the results of an autopsy.

    “The autopsy has now been completed and as horrible has these defendants’ actions were that day the cause of death has now turned out to be complications from surgery due to an aortic aneurysm that Mr. Jordan had,” Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich said Wednesday. ”These injuries that the state alleges these three individual caused did not cause Mr. Jordan’s ultimate death. So therefore, the capital murder causes against will be dismissed.”

    Since prosecutors cannot prove that the beating is directly related to the death, the three accused could receive 20 years to life rather than capital punishment.

    (H/T: Weasel Zippers)

    Featured image via WKRG-TV

  • TheBlaze Magazine: One Last Mission for Aging Veterans
    Posted February 20, 2014 at 10:07 am by Chris Field

    Comments (16)

    The nation’s capital features memorials and tributes to America’s bravest–but many of those heroes will never get to see them.

    In the March issue of TheBlaze Magazine, we detail how the Honor Flight Network is working to change that. Meredith Jessup met with both Honor Flight personnel and several of the veterans they’ve served to bring an inspiring report on how Americans are coming together to pay their respects to American heroes in a very special and unforgettable way.

    Every issue of TheBlaze Magazine contains exclusive content not found anywhere else — online or in print. The magazine’s stories, research and special reports are reserved for subscribers to the print and/or digital edition.

    Below is an excerpt from the March 2014 feature story, “One Last Mission.” The full story is available ONLY in the newest issue of TheBlaze Magazine.

    If you sign up today, you’ll get the digital version of this issue absolutely free.

    FINAL - TheBlaze Magazine March 2014 issue - Honor Flight open spread

    It’s been more than 70 years since their country called on them to serve.

    It took nearly 60 years for the nation’s capital to erect a monument in their name.

    Now, with only a fraction of America’s 16 million World War II veterans still living and an average of 550 passing each day, the race is on to honor them one last time.

    ****Click here to subscribe and get a FREE issue today****

    Every two minutes, another surviving member of this country’s Greatest Generation succumbs to the inalterable progression of time, and their memories of America’s role in World War II are lost to history. Thanks to the Honor Flight Network, however, many of these aged veterans can peaceably rest in the lasting legacy of their sacrifice and with the gratitude of an indebted nation.

    With no time to lose, honoring the 20th-century veterans’ service before they pass is at the forefront of every Honor Flight volunteer’s mind.

    Since its founding in 2004, this nonprofit group has flown nearly 100,000 former service members to Washington, D.C., to view their memorials— massive monuments carved from hardened stone and installed into the capital city’s landscape as a testament to veterans’ courage, valor and victories over the enemies of freedom.

    FINAL - TheBlaze Magazine March 2014 issue - Honor Flight veterans chart

    Honor Flight was born from the vision of one man, retired Air Force Capt. Earl Morse. As a physician’s assistant in Springfield, Ohio, Morse took it upon himself to honor one of his elderly patients, a World War II veteran whose dreams of one day visiting the nation’s capital were hindered by financial and physical limitations.

    This inaugural Honor Flight included just 12 World War II vets and a handful of Morse’s friends who enlisted to help. But Morse’s spirited mission quickly spread and has since blossomed into a nationwide network, operating today on the generosity of strangers and the kindness of dedicated volunteers.

    Courtesy: Honor Flight DFW

    Honor Flight DFW

    “Our veteran heroes aren’t asking for recognition,” the Honor Flight website states. “It is our position that they deserve it. Our program is just a small token of our appreciation for those that gave so much.”

    ****Click here to subscribe and get a FREE issue today****

    For former USO volunteer and gerontological nurse Tudy Giordano, taking on the role as president of the Honor Flight Network’s Dallas-Fort Worth chapter was a natural fit. “Our mission is big and our time is short,” Giordano says, “but when I go on these trips [with the veterans], I always think …

    *****************************************

    FINAL - Paul Cruz - Blaze Magazine Cover - March 2014 - no box - 216x300Get the full story on the Honor Flight Network and much more in TheBlaze Magazine.

    Read about how the government “shutdown” impacted these trips, what a typical trip entails, what veterans really think about the Honor Flights–in their own words–and how you can get involved. All that and much more in the March issue of TheBlaze magazine—which you can get for FREE.

    Click here to get a FREE digital version today!

    Follow Chris Field (@ChrisMField) on Twitter

     

    Featured image courtesy of Honor Flight DFW.

  • What We Found in a Boston Children’s Hospital Policy Manual About Research on ‘Wards of the State’
    Posted February 20, 2014 at 9:59 am by Liz Klimas

    Comments (189)

    “Children who are Wards of the state may be included in research that presents minimal risk…or greater than minimal risk with a prospect of direct benefit.”

    That’s a line from Boston Children’s Hospital’s “Clinical Investigations Policy and Procedure Manual. It’s the same facility that took over the care of 15-year-old Justina Pelletier against her parents’ wishes last year and they continue to wonder why.

    Justina Pelletier has been in the custody of the state since Feb. 14, 2013. (Image source: Facebook)

    Justina Pelletier has been in the custody of the state since Feb. 14, 2013. (Image source: Facebook)

    The parents of the teen from West Hartford, Conn., at the center of a custody, patient’s rights and medical diagnosis battle have questioned the motives as to why Boston Children’s Hospital countered the medical diagnosis and recommended treatment set by a Tufts Medical Center physician years earlier.

    Justina was taken as a ward of the state by the Massachusetts Department of Children & Families on Feb. 14, 2013, and remains in the child services department’s custody still.

    The hospital’s clinical investigations policy continues (emphasis added):

    Children who are Wards of the state may be included in research that presents greater than minimal risk with no prospect of direct benefit (46.406 (50.53) or 46.407 ( 50.54) only if the [institutional review board] determines and documents that such research is

    Related to their status as wards; or

    Conducted in schools, camps, hospital, institutions, or similar settings in which the majority of children involved as participants are not wards.

    In such cases, the patient is represented by at least one advocate, appointed by the institutional review board, who will act on their behalf and in the patient’s best interest.

    Any time research would involve a ward of the state, the document says a proposal must be presented in detail to the institutional review board and be approved by DCF’s Research Proposal Review Committee.

    Boston Children’s Hospital declined to comment about the case and about the policy to TheBlaze.

    Dr. Richard Boles, a pediatrician in the Los Angeles area and the medical director of Courtagen Life Sciences, a biotechnology and DNA sequencing company specializing in metabolic disorders, told TheBlaze it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for Boston Children’s Hospital to conduct medical research.

    “They’re a research facility,” he said.

    Boles told TheBlaze that any research involves ethics committees and is “up front.” He said the system is so procedural now that if he wanted to survey his own patients for something as simple asking where they bought their vitamins, so he could advise his other patients accordingly, he would have to go through a whole protocol and a wealth of paperwork.

    BCH’s clinical investigation policy echoes language in regulations set by the federal Department of Health and Human Services. According to HHS, for children to be involved in research, parental or guardian permission must be given. A “guardian,” is defined as the “individual who is authorized under applicable State or local law to consent on behalf of a child to general medical care,” which, in the case of Justina Pelletier, would be DCF.

    Other institutions, like Johns Hopkins Medicine and Duke University Health System to name a couple, have similar guidelines for research involving children, including those who are under care of the state.

    “Children who are Wards of the state may be included in research that presents minimal risk…”
    Share:

    But an article published in the journal Pediatrics in 2008 argued that the protections for wards of the state in research might not go far enough.

    “Current federal regulations mandate additional safeguards, beyond those that apply to all pediatric research, for some research with wards of the state. Although these additional requirements are attentive to the concerns research with wards of the state raises, we argue that they do not go far enough,” the authors wrote.

    “Society is obligated to ensure the harms wards of the state have already experienced due to parental mistreatment or abandonment are not compounded by further harm from inappropriate clinical research enrollment,” they continued. “This means wards of the state must be appropriately protected from risk and from being unfairly selected to bear burdens in clinical research. To these ends, additional safeguards and modifications to existing guidelines are needed.”

    On its website, BCH describes itself as “home to the world’s largest research enterprise based at a pediatric hospital” with “$225 million in annual funding, including more federal funding than any other pediatric facility.”

    It is unknown if Justina Pelletier is involved in a research program. The teen was diagnosed in 2011 with mitochondrial disease, a disease where the mitochondria (the energy-producing organelle in cells) does not function properly leading to a variety of symptoms including pain, fatigue and gastrointestinal issues. While being treated for this disease, her parents, Linda and Lou, said she was doing well.

    Justina Pelletier with her parents, Linda and Lou.  (Image source: Facebook)

    Justina Pelletier with her parents, Linda and Lou. (Image source: Facebook)

    In February 2013, she came down with the flu, which for mitochondrial patients can be more severe, her older sister Jessica told TheBlaze, and was recommended by a Connecticut hospital to be transferred to Boston Children’s Hospital where she was supposed to see a gastrointestinal specialist. Instead, Lou Pelletier told TheBlaze Monday she was seen by a neurologist as she came through the hospital’s emergency room who said she didn’t have mitochondrial disease but somatoform disorder, a psychological disorder that said the symptoms she experienced originated in her head.

    Boston doctors wanted to take a different approach with Justina’s treatment, something which Lou said they were initially on board with until they found out it meant taking her off her treatments for mitochondrial disease.

    When they arrived at Boston Children’s on Feb. 14, 2013, to discharge Justina and take her to Tufts instead, they were accused of over-medicalizing their child, a form of abuse, and DCF took custody. Since then the Pelletiers have been in and out of court fighting to get Justina back and treated for mitochondrial disease. Without treatment for this disease for more than a year, Lou said his daughter is failing.

    “If she’s not in the proper facility, she will die,” Lou told TheBlaze earlier this week.

    “I am trying to save my daughter’s life,” he said, breaking a court-imposed gag order, something which DCF filed that he be held in contempt of court for doing.

    Featured image via  illustratorsam/Flickr.

  • If You Use Google Maps, Be Ready for a Change Soon
    Posted February 20, 2014 at 9:29 am by Elizabeth Kreft

    Comments (34)

    If you use Google Maps, get ready: It’s going to have a new look very soon.

    After nearly a full year of public beta testing, Google announced Wednesday its new maps feature will be made available to the masses.

    new-google-maps

    Image via Gigaom

    According to Engadget, the new Maps gets rid of the old sidebar and instead puts search results directly on the map. It also incorporates real-time traffic data and a street-view carousel to help virtual tourists.

    google-maps-redesign-subway

    Image via Engaget

    The new features won’t hit everyone’s computers at once, Google said in a blog post.

    “Over the coming weeks, the new Google Maps will make its way onto desktops around the world. Many of you have been previewing it since its debut last May, and thanks to your helpful feedback we’re ready to make the new Maps even more widely available.”

    The maps appear a bit larger and easier to read and, according to Gigaom, the new design places an emphasis on being “smart”: users not only can bring up directions to a location, but also find the most efficient method of transport to get there using the real-time traffic reports, as well as nearby places to stop.

    Google has also enhanced the street-view mode, which is helpful to view routes and virtually sight-see ahead of time. Below is a clip from of Google Map execs Jonah Jones and Bernhard Seefeld discussing the new Maps.

    (H/T: Gigaom)

    Follow Elizabeth Kreft (@elizabethakreft) on Twitter

  • Islamist Rebels Reportedly Forcing Women in Parts of Syria to Wear Face Veil
    Posted February 20, 2014 at 9:10 am by Sharona Schwartz

    Comments (72)

    Hardline jihadi rebels continue to try to impose sharia law in the parts of Syria where they operate, the latest report being that they are ordering women to appear in public only if wearing an Islamic veil.

    Reuters reported that the Islamic Law Council of Deir al-Zor issued a statement saying women had until Saturday to cover up their faces when appearing in public. It did not specify what punishment they might otherwise face.

    “Given that sins are the main reason delaying victory, the legal council in the town of Deir al-Zor is obliged to promote virtue and prevent vice,” the statement read.

    A woman wearing a face veil. (File photo: Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images)

    A woman wearing a face veil. (File photo: Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images)

    According to Reuters, the statement was posted on Facebook and reported by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

    Human Rights Watch published a study last month reporting that Islamist groups including the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Al Nusra Front were forcing women and girls to cover up with a veil and loose, full-length robes in northern and northeastern Syria.

    “In some areas, the groups are imposing discriminatory measures prohibiting women and girls, particularly those who do not abide by the dress code, from moving freely in public, working, and attending school,” Human Rights Watch said last month.

    Other Must-Read Stories

      Among the many examples of the efforts by hardline jihadi rebels to impose sharia law even without deposing President Bashar Assad are: the sentencing of a man to beating with a metal pipe and the killing of a 14-year-old Syrian boy last year who had made a joke referring to the prophet Muhammad.

      In some areas, rebels have tried to put an Islamic stamp on day-to-day issues including marriage, divorce and the licensing of vehicles, the Washington Post reported last year.

      In January, Reuters reported that ISIL had issued orders in the northern province of Raqqa prohibiting the playing of music outdoors, the display of photographs of people in shop windows, and the sale of cigarettes. It also ordered all men to attend Friday Muslim prayers.

    • The 19-Year-Old Dairy Queen Manager Who Stood Up for a Blind Customer Is Looking for a Favor
      Posted February 20, 2014 at 8:44 am by Oliver Darcy

      Comments (173)

      The 19-year-old Dairy Queen manager who shot to fame last year after standing up for a blind man says he is currently working on purchasing his own Dairy Queen.

      Joey Prusak, whose courageous defense of a blind customer went viral last September, told TheBlaze he is now focused more than ever on opening up a location of his own.

      “I had a a meeting with the CEO of Dairy Queen and I told him I wanted to open my own store,” said Prusak, who has worked at the Minnesota location since he was 14. “I need help finding a location because they are really picky about locations. So they are looking into a couple spots right now that they could possibly use a store.”

      Joey Prusak, 19. (Image source: Facebook)

      Joey Prusak, 19, stood up for a blind customer last year at the Dairy Queen he manages. (Image source: Facebook)

      The only problem? Prusak says he doesn’t have the necessary capital to open up his own store and hasn’t found an investor.

      He’s still looking.

      “I want someone to basically put the pressure on me and let me prove to them that I can make it,” he said. “I have been working at a Dairy Queen since I was 14 years old now, so six years, almost seven years now. And I’ve been running it completely on my own.”

      “I want to find an investor to really invest in me and let me just prove to them that, ‘Hey, I can make us money.’”
      Share:

      “I literally am by myself at my location. I do everything from the book work, writing out the checks, placing the orders — I mean, I literally run the store,” Prusak continued. “I want to find an investor to really invest in me and let me just prove to them that, ‘Hey, I can make us money.’”

      The 19-year-old says that after he finds an investor, it’s likely he can get a Dairy Queen location opened up in a matter of months. He is attending the necessary owners training in March, which he says will allow him to immediately move forward after he locates an investor.

      Last September, Prusak told TheBlaze how he was “shocked” and “sickened” by what he says he saw happen to a blind man at the hands of an elderly woman customer.

      Prusak said that one of his frequent guests, a man who is blind, walked into the local Dairy Queen. When the blind man took out his wallet to pay, a $20 bill slipped out of his pocket.

      The woman behind him quickly snatched the bill off the floor and put it into her purse.

      Prusak saw the entire thing unfold and refused to serve the woman, demanding she return the money to the blind man. She refused and stormed out.

      That’s when Prusak took matters into his own hands.

      The 19-year-old reached into his own pocket and said, “Sir, on behalf of Dairy Queen, I would like to give you the $20 that you happened to drop on the ground as you walked away from the counter.”

      A customer later posted the story to Reddit, where it went viral. As a result, the young manager made appearances on “The Glenn Beck Program,” and “The Queen Latifah Show,” among others. Beck later flew Prusak to Dallas, where he spent three days shadowing him and had the opportunity to meet former “Dirty Jobs” host Mike Rowe.

      Follow Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) on Twitter

    • ‘I Was Pretty Naive’: Waiter Has Major Regrets After Purported ‘Tips for Jesus’ Gratuity Flub
      Posted February 20, 2014 at 8:44 am by Billy Hallowell

      Comments (35)

      As the ever-mysterious “Tips for Jesus” movement forges on, one waiter is claiming that he was so stunned by a massive tip that was left on a $50 bill last December that he threw the receipt away in disbelief.

      Ron Kinney, 67, a server at the French Quarter Restaurant in West Hollywood, Calif., assumed that the individual who left the gratuity simply had too many drinks and made a mistake.

      Not knowing anything about the “Tips for Jesus” phenomenon, Kinney told the San Francisco Chronicle blog that the tip was either $4,000 or $7,000. Either way, he thought it was inaccurate.

      Image source: Tips for Jesus Instagram

      Image source: Tips for Jesus Instagram

      “I was pretty naive, I guess. I thought it was someone who had a drink too many and didn’t realize what they were doing,” he said. “We see this all the time. People make mistakes.”

      Since throwing out the receipt, Kinney and his co-workers have reportedly been looking for it, but to no avail. And now, the waiter wishes he had kept the money to help with his retirement, so he’s speaking out.

      What is unclear, though, is how Kinney was able to process payment for the $50 if the receipt was tossed out. If a credit card was used and the customer inserted a total, one would assume that the sum would be used to process payment.

      But it’s also possible that Kinney threw the bill out entirely and didn’t charge the customer — or that he charged only the $50.

      Regardless, he now says the large gratuity is gone.

      Image source: Tips for Jesus Instagram

      Image source: Tips for Jesus Instagram

      It’s unclear who’s behind the “Tips for Jesus” movement, thought it is rumored that former PayPal Vice President Jack Selby is the individual who has traveled the nation leaving massive tips along the way (we’ve covered the movement extensively here).

      An Instagram account with the username “TipsForJesus” is continuously documenting these escapades, including images of receipts from each good deed and some of the elated faces of individuals receiving these gifts.

      A mission statement is present on the aforementioned Instagram account: “Doing the Lord’s work, one tip at a time.”

      (H/T: Daily Mail)

      Featured image via Tips for Jesus Instagram account

    • Applications for Unemployment Benefits Tick Down Only Slightly
      Posted February 20, 2014 at 8:36 am by Becket Adams

      Comments (26)

      Applications for jobless benefits decreased by 3,000 for the week ending Feb. 15, bringing the total to 336,000, down from last week’s revised figure of 339,000, the Labor Department announced Thursday.

      The four-week moving average, a “less volatile” figure, saw an increase of 1,750, bringing the total to 338,500, up from the previous unrevised average of 336,750.

      “The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.3 percent for the week ending February 8, an increase of 0.1 percentage point from the prior week’s revised rate,” the Labor Department report reads.

      “ The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending February 8 was 2,981,000, an increase of 37,000 from the preceding week’s revised level of 2,944,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,959,750, a decrease of 6,500 from the preceding week’s revised average of 2,966,250,” the report adds.

      The states with the largest increases in initial claims for the week ending February 8 were Georgia (+7,229), North Carolina (+1,347), South Carolina (+1,292), Alabama (+1,191), and California (+1,145).

      Meanwhile, New York (-2,721), Ohio (-2,348), New Jersey (-2,035), Connecticut (-1,149), and New Hampshire (-1,146) posted the biggest decreases in initial claims.

      “A total of 3.52 million Americans received benefits as of Jan. 25 – the latest data available – up from 3.47 million the previous week,” the Associated Press reported.

      “Employers added just 113,000 jobs in January, a second straight weak showing after just 75,000 new jobs in December. Economists have partly blamed December’s figures on extremely cold weather,” it added.

      The Associated Press notes: “A total of 3.53 million Americans received benefits as of Feb. 1 – the latest period for which figures are available – up from 3.52 million the previous week.”

      Markets are poised to open mixed this morning:

      --

      Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter

      This story has been updated.

    • The New Law in Denmark That Has Both Jews and Muslims United Against It
      Posted February 20, 2014 at 8:16 am by Sharona Schwartz

      Comments (65)

      A new law in Denmark that bans slaughtering animals that have not first been stunned has drawn the ire of Jewish and Muslim groups that are characterizing the policy as an assault on freedom of religion.

      The law, which essentially outlaws kosher and halal ritual slaughter, went into effect on Monday after years of lobbying from animal rights groups.

      Photo: Flickr/Sean Dreilinger

      Photo: Flickr/Sean Dreilinger

      Some critics have suggested that the new policy is tantamount to anti-Semitism.

      “European anti-Semitism is showing its true colors across Europe, and is even intensifying in the government institutions,” said Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan, Israel’s deputy minister of religious services.

      The Muslim group Danish Halal called the new policy “a clear interference in religious freedom limiting the rights of Muslims and Jews to practice their religion in Denmark”.

      Danish Agriculture and Food Minister Dan Jørgensen told Denmark’s TV2, “animal rights come before religion.”

      Under Jewish and Muslim dietary laws, an animal must be conscious at the time it is slaughtered.

      Jesper Vahr, the Danish ambassador to Israel, called the anti-Semitism charge “very insulting.”

      He told the Israeli news site Ynet: “I not only reject it but also hold it to be very insulting to a country whose citizens during World War II stood up for their Jewish countrymen and helped Jews in Nazi-occupied Denmark escape to Sweden, the result of which was that 99 percent of Jews in Denmark survived World War II.”

      The Jerusalem Post noted that Denmark’s 6,000 Jews have not practiced ritual kosher slaughter for years and instead import kosher meat from abroad, but the Muslim community had prepared its own meat domestically before Monday’s ruling went into effect.

      European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor said: “This attack on basic Jewish religious practice in Denmark puts into question the continuance of community life in the country and follows strongly on the heels of persistent attacks on Jewish circumcision.”

      Kantor told the Post that he hoped the ban was not an effort to “placate or mollify animal right activists in light of the international criticism” Denmark faced last week after zookeepers at the Copenhagen Zoo slaughtered a healthy 18-month-old giraffe named Marius, dissected it in front of crowds visiting the zoo and then fed its meat to other animals.

      The British newspaper the Independent highlighted two quips posted on Twitter comparing the two stories:

      David Krikler (@davekriks) posted: “In Denmark butchering a healthy giraffe in front of kids is cool but a kosher/halal chicken is illegal.”

      Byakuya Ali-Hassan (@SirOthello) said it was “disgusting” that “the same country that slaughtered a giraffe in public to be fed to lions … is banning halal meat because of the procedures”.

      CBC News reported that the giraffe was culled “because the animal’s genes were already well-represented in an international breeding program that aims to maintain a healthy giraffe population in European zoos.”

      Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt who heads the Conference of European Rabbis said the ritual slaughter ban is a “further erosion of religious liberties and freedoms in Europe.”

      Danish Jewish leader Finn Schwartz told the Jerusalem Post that the ban was not motivated by anti-Semitism, characterizing the community’s relations with the government as “perfect.”

      At the same time, the community leader said that the minister’s decision without first going through the country’s parliament was problematic.

      “When you have religious minorities in a society you should also respect the religious minority even if you really don’t like some of the things [they] are doing. If you want to change fundamental rules that concern the religious minorities then you should have an open discussion,” he told the Post.

      According to the Jerusalem Post, ritual slaughter is already banned in Poland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.

      The Jewish Telegraphic Agency quoted Israel’s Chief Rabbi David Lau who called the new regulations “a serious and severe blow to the Jewish faith and to the Jews of Denmark.”

    • New Iranian Video Shows an Even More Shocking Military Scenario than the Last One
      Posted February 20, 2014 at 7:53 am by Sharona Schwartz

      Comments (129)

      A new video reportedly making the rounds in Iran shows the nuclear bombing of Israel, describing the act as a “Holocaust.” It also simulates graphically the potential Iranian response to a military attack on its territory.

      The latest video follows a simulation aired by Iranian state television earlier this month depicting an Iranian attack on the American aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and Israeli cities.

      Israel’s Channel 2 News reported that this latest animated video began showing up on Iranian websites on Monday.

      The Iranian video depicts the dropping of a nuclear bomb on Israel (Screenshot: YouTube)

      The Iranian video depicts the dropping of a nuclear bomb on Israel (Screenshot: YouTube)

      The short video set to a militaristic soundtrack presents doomsday scenarios, including the massive launching of intercontinental ballistic missiles, blasting American and Israeli fighter jets out of the sky, and most chillingly, the nuclear destruction of the Jewish state.

      At one point, an image of the English word “Holocaust” next to a Jewish Star of David appears in the video.

      This was the one chilling word that appeared in English in the video juxtaposed with a Star of David (Screenshot: YouTube)

      This was the one chilling word that appeared in English in the video juxtaposed with a Star of David (Screenshot: YouTube)

      The Israeli newspaper Haaretz provided more information on the Persian-language video.

      “In the movie, Western nations realize that the Islamic Republic has no intention to cease its nuclear development. To prevent Iran from building a bomb, the United States and its allies decide to take military action to destroy Tehran’s nuclear sites,” Haaretz wrote.

      After the hypothetical joint U.S.-Israeli airstrike is beaten back, Iran’s air force is shown going on the offensive. Its jets are seen flying over Jerusalem and the Al Aqsa mosque.

      “The graphic illustration of a nuclear attack against Israel will hardly allay fears in Jerusalem and elsewhere that Tehran’s nuclear program is far from peaceful,” wrote Israel National News.

      The new video came out just as talks over Iran’s controversial nuclear program resumed in Vienna this week.

      On Thursday, Iranian state media reported that its negotiators had reached an agreement with western nations on a framework for the next rounds of talks.

      Earlier this month, the U.S. delegation walked out after the speaker of the Iranian parliament Ali Larijani during a speech in Tunisia called Israel a “cancer” of the Middle East.

      Here is the new Iranian video via YouTube:

       

    • Man Who Claims He Visited Heaven During Near-Death Experience Tells Megyn Kelly How It Has Changed His Life
      Posted February 20, 2014 at 7:21 am by Billy Hallowell

      Comments (121)

      Brian Miller, the 41-year-old Ohio man who claims he traveled to heaven during a recent near-death experience, told TV host Megyn Kelly Wednesday that the experience has truly changed his perspective.

      “It makes me to [want] be with my family, slow myself down and just take my time and look for my health to keep getting better,” he said.

      Miller, who almost died when his heart went into a deadly arrhythmia, told Kelly that he is hoping his experience sends a message to non-believers.

      “I have always believed in the Lord, and after life and everything,” he said. “The biggest thing is I wanted to share the story and all that to people who are non-believers and stuff.”

      Image source: Shutterstock.com

      Image source: Shutterstock.com

      Miller said that he went to church as a child, but hasn’t been an active parishioner since getting married. He has, however, maintained a belief in God and heaven — and he’s hoping his story will inspire others who struggle with these concepts.

      “Since I’d been a truck driver my mother got me a thing — a guardian angel in my truck,” Miller told Kelly. “It says, ‘Don’t ever drive faster than your angel can fly’ and I kiss it everyday when I’m driving truck.”

      Watch him describe the experience below:

      As TheBlaze previously reported, Miller was recently hospitalized after suffering a major heart attack. While he was doing well at first, his heart eventually went into a deadly arrhythmia called Ventricular fibrillation, described by the Mayo Clinic as “a … rhythm problem that occurs when the heart beats with rapid, erratic electrical impulses.”

      “He had no heart rate, he had no blood pressure, he had no pulse, I mean think about that,” nurse Emily Bishop told WJW-TV.

      It was during this time that Miller said he saw the light at the end of a heavenly tunnel — and was told by his recently-deceased mother-in-law that he needed to return to his body, WJW-TV reported.

      “The only thing I remember, I started seeing a light and started walking towards the light,” he said, describing flowers that were along his path.

      Miller claimed his mother-in-law appeared, with his father-in-law who is also deceased waving to him from afar.

      “She was the most beautiful thing when I seen her. It was like the first day I met her. And looked so happy,” Miller said. “She grabbed a hold of my arm and she told me, ‘It’s not your time, you don’t need to be here … you’ve got things to go down and do.”

      In the end, his heart went back into rhythm and he was saved.

      Featured image via Shutterstock.com

       

       

    • With Absurd $8 Proposal, Mo. Republican Mocks Opponents of Common Core
      Posted February 20, 2014 at 1:58 am by Jason Howerton

      Comments (28)

      The Missouri House Appropriations – Education Committee on Wednesday proposed a measure to allow the state to use $8 in taxpayer money to purchase tin foil hats for opponents of Common Core.

      Rep. Mike Lair (Facebook)

      Rep. Mike Lair (Facebook)

      The appropriation was put forth by committee Chairman Mike Lair, a Republican, to mock those who think Common Core standards are a bad idea.

      “If you can’t deal with folks with logic, you use humor,” Lair said, according to the Columbia Tribune. “This is to stop all the problems from the black helicopters and drones. This is high density foil.”

      Lair argued he has tried “logic” by filing bills to limit how student data is collected and shared as well as blocking the federal agencies from mandating curriculum or textbooks at local schools. Efforts to appeal to reason, he claims, have failed.

      So Lair decided to tie the $8 tin foil hat purchase to an amendment removing language that would prevent the state from accepting federal grants to implement Common Core standards for public schools.

      “After Lair’s amendments were approved, Rep. Bryan Spencer, R-Wentzville, sought to restore the language banning the use of federal grants to implement Common Core. His amendment was defeated,” the Tribune reports.

      In addition to concerns about data mining, critics argue that Common Core promotes a one-size-fits-all approach to education and takes away control from teachers and local school systems. There have also been problems with Common Core “aligned” lessons and textbooks including far-left and progressive political messages.

      Some states have dropped the name “Common Core” and are attempting to rebrand the same program under different titles.

      (H/T: Dana Loesch)

    • Ann Coulter vs. Sean Hannity on the Tea Party: Don’t Trust the ‘Shysters’ Who Say They Want to Defeat ‘Establishment Republicans’
      Posted February 20, 2014 at 12:51 am by Jason Howerton

      Comments (391)

      Ann Coulter and TV host Sean Hannity clashed on Wednesday over the tactics being used by some Tea Party lawmakers in Washington. While Hannity commended lawmakers for taking a stand for their principles, Coulter suggested the movement is being hijacked by “con men” who are “tricking Americans to send them money.”

      (Fox News)

      (Fox News)

      Coulter also criticized Tea Party lawmakers who are focusing on “defeating establishment Republicans” instead of Democrats because the party should be united in taking back the Senate in 2014 — regardless of which Republicans get elected to office. The ultimate goal should be to repeal Obamacare, she said.

      “You have to elect Republicans!” Coulter proclaimed. “How about going after Democrats?”

      When asked if conservatives should just stop fighting and allow Democrats to win every battle, Coulter said they should fight to give the GOP a majority.

      While she said she “loves” the Tea Party, Coulter also warned people against trusting “shysters” within the movement who say they are working to defeat “establishment Republicans.” She did not specifically name any of the “shyster” lawmakers.

      “Some should be defeated,” Hannity interjected.

      “I’ll tell you who should be defeated, and that’s how you can tell these people are shysters: The ones who vote for amnesty. Are they going after Lindsey Graham? No they are not,” Coulter said.

      “Some are,” Hannity disagreed again.

      In conclusion, Coulter said there is still hope for America if people stop donating to the “shysters.”

      Watch the segment below:

    • Heads Roll Following Report on Miami Dolphins Bullying Scandal
      Posted February 19, 2014 at 11:59 pm by Associated Press

      Comments (48)

      MIAMI (AP) — The Miami Dolphins fired offensive line coach Jim Turner and longtime head athletic trainer Kevin O’Neill on Wednesday for their roles in the team’s bullying scandal.

      The moves were the first punitive steps taken by the Dolphins since a report on the NFL’s investigation of the case was released last week.

      Investigators found that guard Richie Incognito and two teammates engaged in persistent harassment directed at tackle Jonathan Martin, another offensive lineman and an assistant trainer. Martin left the team at midseason, and Incognito was suspended for the final eight games.

      FILE - In this July 24, 2013, file photo, Miami Dolphins guard Richie Incognito (68) and tackle Jonathan Martin (71) stand on the field during NFL football practice in Davie, Fla. Pending free agency and a racially charged bullying scandal could add up to a completely overhauled Miami Dolphins offensive line and some players looking for a job. Several Miami linemen are at the center of the NFL-ordered report, including Incognito, Martin, John Jerry and Mike Pouncey. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

      FILE – In this July 24, 2013, file photo, Miami Dolphins guard Richie Incognito (68) and tackle Jonathan Martin (71) stand on the field during NFL football practice in Davie, Fla. Pending free agency and a racially charged bullying scandal could add up to a completely overhauled Miami Dolphins offensive line and some players looking for a job. Several Miami linemen are at the center of the NFL-ordered report, including Incognito, Martin, John Jerry and Mike Pouncey. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

      Turner didn’t attempt to stop the harassment and even took part in some of the taunting of offensive lineman Andrew McDonald, the NFL report said. O’Neill expressed hostility toward the investigation and cut short an interview with those conducting it, according to the report.

      O’Neill was fired shortly after he and other team officials arrived in Indianapolis for the league’s annual scouting combine. Turner didn’t make the trip.

      In a news release announcing the firings, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said the behavior described in the report was “against the core values of our organization.”

      “After receiving the report, I conducted my own internal review of the facts to determine the appropriate steps for our organization,” Ross said. “Jim Turner and Kevin O’Neill are good people who care a great deal about their profession and the players whom they serve, but both exhibited poor judgment at times, which led me to this conclusion.”

      Ross said he has been in contact with Martin and will meet soon with the two-year veteran. Martin has two seasons remaining on his contract with the Dolphins, but last month Ross said he didn’t believe the tackle would play again for Miami. Incognito becomes a free agent this winter and will try to sign with another team.

      Coach Joe Philbin made his first public comments since the report’s release, saying the vulgar language and behavior outlined were disappointing and unacceptable, and adding that fundamental values of respect were violated.

      “That ultimately rests on my shoulders, and I will be accountable moving forward for making sure that we emphasize a team-first culture of respect toward one another,” Philbin said in a statement.

      The report found no evidence that Philbin was aware of abusive conduct within the team.

      Several people interviewed told investigators Turner gave McDonald a male sex doll as a gag gift around Christmas 2012. Turner told investigators he didn’t remember the incident, but investigators said they didn’t believe him.

      Martin told investigators O’Neill and other team employees saw an assistant trainer being humiliated and didn’t intervene. O’Neill allegedly laughed at racial insults directed toward the assistant trainer.

      O’Neill was the Dolphins’ trainer for 18 years and has been in the NFL for 25 years. He and his Miami staff won national awards, including one last year from the National Athletic Trainers’ Association.

      Turner joined the Dolphins shortly after Philbin was hired as head coach two years ago.

    • Charles Krauthammer on Why Democrats Are Running From CBO Report on Minimum Wage Hike
      Posted February 19, 2014 at 11:02 pm by Jason Howerton

      Comments (77)

      Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer said Democrats are running away from recent reports from the nonpartisan CBO that suggest both Obamacare and raising the minimum wage will both result in less jobs in the U.S.

      “This is what the administration does. When the CBO, whom its been touting for two, three, four years as nonpartisan, the arbiter of disputes, whenever it brings something that is obvious but doesn’t help them politically, they say it’s not true,” he said.

      Krauthammer argued even a child could tell you that “if you raise the minimum wage by a third, you are going to get fewer jobs.” He said there’s a “tradeoff” because some people will make higher wages but about 500,000 people are going to lose their income entirely.

      “It totally contradicts what Obama pretends his economic policy is, which is to give people the tools and opportunity to climb into the middle class,” he added. “That’s why the White House had to dismiss the numbers even though they are obvious to everyone who can see them.”

      In order to make a point, Megyn Kelly went on to play a clip of all the times the White House has praised the CBO when it benefits them politically.

      Watch the segment via Fox News:


    • DHS Abruptly Cancels Plan to Collect License Plate Tracking Information
      Posted February 19, 2014 at 10:09 pm by Associated Press

      Comments (74)

      WASHINGTON (AP) — The Homeland Security Department abruptly reversed course Wednesday and dropped plans to ask a private company to give the government access to a nationwide database of license plate tracking information.

      Secretary Jeh Johnson directed that a contract proposal issued last week be canceled.

      The proposal said Immigration and Customs Enforcement was planning to use the license plate data in pursuit of criminal immigrants and others sought by authorities.

      Gillian Christensen, an ICE spokeswoman, said the contract solicitation was posted “without the awareness of ICE leadership.”

      “While we continue to support a range of technologies to help meet our law enforcement mission, this solicitation will be reviewed to ensure the path forward appropriately meets our operational needs,” Christensen said.

      The department said Johnson has ordered a review of the proposal.

      The contract notice came amid growing concerns about government surveillance of U.S. citizens but didn’t address potential privacy consequences.

      Before the notice was canceled, Christensen said the database “could only be accessed in conjunction with ongoing criminal investigations or to locate wanted individuals.”

      Law enforcement has been using license plate readers for several years, but privacy advocates have raised concerns that the unchecked collection of such information could allow for the tracking of an average citizen’s every movement. Lawmakers around the country, meanwhile, have been wrestling with whether or how to control the collection and use of license plate data.

      At least 14 states are considering measures that would curb surveillance efforts, including the use of license plate readers.

      License plate readers – essentially cameras that snap rapid-fire pictures of license plates and vehicles as they pass – are in use in a host of locations, by private companies and law enforcement. But it’s not just the license plate number that gets recorded. The readers – whether they are mounted to police cars, traffic lights or toll booths – record the date, time and location of the vehicle when the picture was taken.

      According to the contract proposal, the government wanted “a close-up of the plate and a zoomed out image of the vehicle.”

      The Homeland Security Department also wanted instant and around-the-clock access to the records and is asking for whoever wins the contract to make the information available through a smartphone app. It is not clear from the contract notice how long individual records would be kept or what other government agencies may have access to the trove of records.

      Jennifer Lynch, a senior staff attorney with the San Francisco-based civil liberties group Electronic Frontier Foundation, said those unknowns represented serious privacy concerns.

      “The base level concern is that license plate data is location data, and location data is very revealing,” Lynch said. “It can tell you a lot about a person’s life: where they go, who they associate with, what kind of religion they practice, what doctors they visit.”

      In 2012, the American Civil Liberties Union criticized the collection of license plate scanner data and warned that millions of records were being collected with little or no safeguards for people’s privacy.

      Catherine Crump, an ACLU lawyer, said Wednesday she was pleased to hear that the department has canceled the contract proposal but still worried about that it might be brought back to life at some point.

      “While we are heartened that it looks as though the plan is off the table for now; it is still unexplained why the proposal was put forward and why it has been withdrawn,” Crump said.

      The government’s contract proposal was published amid revelations of surveillance programs run by the National Security Agency. Privacy advocates have argued that NSA phone data collection programs and other surveillance programs are gobbling up massive amounts of information about U.S. citizens who have no ties to criminals or terrorists, which the government has said the programs are designed to target.

      Classified NSA documents, leaked to news organizations, showed the NSA was collecting telephone records, emails and video chats of millions of Americans who were not suspected of a crime.

    • The Canceled Immigration-Themed Classroom Skit School Officials Say Was ‘Not Appropriate’
      Posted February 19, 2014 at 9:30 pm by Oliver Darcy

      Comments (62)

      A Maryland elementary school has canceled an immigration-themed skit third-graders were preparing to present later this year after a parent alerted school officials to material in it that she found offensive.

      “We let them know the skit was not appropriate,” Gladys Whitehead, the school system’s director of curriculum and instruction, told the Washington Post.

      “We let them know the skit was not appropriate.”
      Share:

      The short skit, titled “The Uninvited Guest,” was set to be delivered at an unidentified Prince George County elementary school.

      According to the Post, it told the story of Uncle Sam throwing a party in his “Country Haven” — but there’s a catch: Uncle Same makes it very clear that those who do not have visas, those who “sneak into” the party, are not welcome.

      “Outsiders who pose a threat to the health or safety of my family aren’t welcome here,” Uncle Sam says, according to a classroom copy of the skit obtained by the Post.

      A classroom skit that featured immigration themes has been canceled by school officials. (Image source: Shutterstock)

      A classroom skit that featured immigration themes has been canceled by school officials. (Image source: Shutterstock)

      In fact, Uncle Sam reportedly goes one step further in the skit, berating an uninvited attendee who snuck in through a window.

      “I don’t want any drug addicts or drug traffickers to come in either,” he reportedly says. “No criminals. We have enough problems; we don’t need to invite more!”

      The skit, downloaded from a website which provides teachers with material to use in class, is now at the center of controversy and may result in new policies governing the use of third-party material in the classroom.

      “We want to make sure that what [teachers] are pulling is appropriate for the classroom.”
      Share:

      “We want to make sure that what [teachers] are pulling is appropriate for the classroom,” Whitehead told the Post. “My team has been talking about what guidelines we can enhance to give schools a little bit more direction.”

      “So many Web site resources are popping up, especially as we transition into Common Core, so we need a safety net,” Whitehead reportedly continued. “We want to make sure there is a second set of eyes to assist the administration and the teacher in making a good decision. We don’t want people to think that we are clamping down on [teachers’] freedoms, but we have to be conscious of what is being put in front of our children.”

      Follow Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) on Twitter

    • Who Points a Gun at a Man Salting His Sidewalk, Then Posts Video of the Crime Online? This Genius
      Posted February 19, 2014 at 8:30 pm by Dave Urbanski

      Comments (127)

      Think things are bad in New Jersey, where TheBlaze reported a desperate road salt shortage that’s actually hampered by a law preventing its delivery?

      Image source: Philadelphia police via KYW-TV

      Image source: Philadelphia police via KYW-TV

      In neighboring Philadelphia, one guy carried out dangerous pranks centered around a bizarre need for rock salt — and he managed to laugh himself all the way into the slammer on a litany of serious charges.

      Police said Daron Stinson, 21, held up at gunpoint a 52-year-old man around 3 p.m. last Thursday, noted Philly.com.

      The valuables Stinson was allegedly after? The poor guy’s rock salt.

      Image source: Instagram

      Image source: Instagram

      Image source: Instagram

      Apparently unnerved, the victim attempts to carry the bag of salt to the waiting truck as its contents spill out. (Image source: Instagram)

      Not only that, Stinson allegedly posted video of the crime to Instagram, Philly.com reported. Here’s the clip (content warning: strong language ahead…):

      Stinson told police he was just kidding around when he pulled the pellet gun on the man, according to KYW-TV in Philadelphia.

      Philadelphia police Lt. John Stanford said Stinson, who turned himself in to police Tuesday. pulled a similar prank six blocks away, firing a pellet gun two times as a victim ran for cover.

      “Hopefully he gets the maximum sentence, whatever that sentence is,” Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey told KYW Wednesday. “It just makes no sense, none at all. He’s got to pay for it. It’s not a prank. It’s not funny.”

      Stinson has been charged with aggravated assault, conspiracy, terroristic threats, possession of an instrument of a crime, simple assault, and recklessly endangering another person, KYW reported, adding that he was arraigned overnight Wednesday with bail set at $250,000. His next court hearing is scheduled for March 6.

      “I can’t understand why anyone in their right mind would think something like this is a joke,” Stanford told KYW. “They could cause someone to have a heart attack. They could cause someone to be harmed in so many different ways. Again, this is just something that’s senseless and stupid, for lack of a better term.”