Israel Foils Plans for Mass Shooting Attack at Jerusalem Wedding HallPosted February 6, 2014 at 9:34 am by Sharona Schwartz
Israeli security forces say they foiled plans for a terrorist attack on a wedding celebration.
Four Jerusalem Palestinians between the ages of 19 and 21 were charged Wednesday after officials said they planned to dress up as Orthodox Jews and spray the venue with Uzi submachine guns.
Before their arrest, the suspects allegedly approached a Palestinian arms dealer about purchasing two Uzis for approximately $14,000 and recruited another individual to fundraise for the mission. According to the indictment filed by the Jerusalem district attorney’s office, they surveilled the Nof Yerushalayim wedding hall in Jerusalem where they checked out entrances for guests and staff.
The Jerusalem Post identified the suspects as Anas Ouisat, Basel Abidat, Ahmed Sarur and Amru Abado.
The indictment said Ouisat and Abidat had decided in December to plan a terrorist attack on civilians with the aid of a terrorist group.
Weddings in Israel among religious Jews can be large affairs, and the Nof hall holds up to 1,500 guests. The court documents said that Ouisat chose the location for its size and because he had once worked there.
The district attorney’s office said that after examining the targeted site, Sarur dropped out of the plans due to an argument with the others, at which point Abado joined in.
The director of the wedding hall Gilad Pinchas told the Jerusalem Post: “Nof is a place of celebration, the indictment is a gift from God.”
Police Shoot Dead a Wild Naked Man With ‘Superhuman Strength’ After He Allegedly Violently Assaulted Countless VictimsPosted February 6, 2014 at 8:46 am by Billy Hallowell
Police shot a man dead Tuesday evening after he reportedly went on a rampage, running naked through a Florida neighborhood, attacking residents, growling at police and refusing to calm down.
Cell phone footage shows suspect Anesson Joseph, 28, clashing with officers who first tried to subdue him with a Taser. When multiple attempts failed, police, who claim that the man seemed to be in a “state of psychosis,” shot him, The Daily Mail reported.
The clash followed multiple attacks that Joseph allegedly waged against people in the neighborhood. He reportedly chased Douglas Kozlik, 66, a retired cop, which resulted in minor injuries for the man.
In separate incidents, Joseph was accused of attacking a 10-year-old boy and of sparking a violent clash with Tony Grein, an 18-year-old who also lives in the Delray Beach neighborhood.
The clash between Joseph and the teenager reportedly began after the suspect attacked Grein’s 16-year-old sister outside the family’s home. The Palm Beach Post reports that Grein tackled the man in an effort to stop the attack; his sister was able to escape into the home while the two tussled.
According to Grein, Joseph attempted to bite Grein’s face, resulting in cuts, bruises and stitches on the teen’s ear. While Grein had tried to defend himself, he claims that Joseph, who he described as “ridiculously strong,” was simply too much to combat. Luckily, he escaped.
“I can say from personal experience if this guy can take a couple of stab wounds and gun shots and still move and hurt people I think they did what they had to do to protect everyone,” Grein told WPTV-TV of Joseph’s shooting death.
Authorities soon cornered Joseph, noting that he seemed to be on some sort of narcotic. And that’s when the violent clash unfolded that ultimately led to the suspect’s death.
“This guy had superhuman strength. He was a big guy to start with,” Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw told WPTV-TV. “He was at least 6 feet 3 inches and 250 pounds. He was not fat. He was like an NFL linebacker. Basically he was terrorizing people up and down the street.”
While authorities reportedly tried to help him after he was shot, Joseph reportedly resisted and died later at a local hospital.
Grein’s father, Mario Grein, who also stepped in to punch the suspect but to no avail, said that Joseph might have attacked additional people if police didn’t step in to stop him.
“He had plenty of strength to take out more people,” he told The Palm Beach Post.
(H/T: Daily Mail)
Featured image via WPTV-TV
Rising Recruitment of Young Westerners Means ‘A New Chapter in the History of Global Jihadism,’ Report FindsPosted February 6, 2014 at 8:44 am by Sara Carter
An increasing number of young Al Qaeda recruits are pouring into war-ravaged areas of the Muslim world from the United States, Canada and Europe, presenting a direct threat to national security as they develop connections to jihadist leaders and acquire battlefield skills and weapons training, U.S. officials and European analysts told TheBlaze.
The increased recruitment, mostly of men in their early 20s and particularly as rebel fighters in Syria’s civil war, attracted the attention of intelligence agencies last year when several of those recruits were killed in battle. They were identified through videos posted on the Internet and by family members who reported their disappearance.
U.S. officials told TheBlaze, however, that limited human assets and resources on the ground have minimized the collection of information to track American and European recruits. They warned that with evidence pointing to increased recruitment of Western youths to Islamist groups in the next decade, it is imperative that intelligence agencies appropriately allocate resources to combat terrorism and increase human intelligence collection in the most afflicted regions.
“We failed to take control of this situation early on [in Syria] — two years ago, we didn’t even know who we were dealing with on the ground in Syria,” a U.S. official with knowledge of the Syrian crisis told TheBlaze. “We twirled our thumbs and expected [Syria] to resolve itself and now it’s much worse. It’s a failed policy and difficult to change the course because this war could continue for years to come. No doubt, we’ve got to worry about a new rise in foreign fighters, particularly in the upcoming year.”
The FBI and CIA began to take notice of recruits from the United States in 2007, when young Somali men returned to their homeland to join Al-Shabab, a Somali Islamic extremist group with ties to Al Qaeda, to fight against Somalia’s then-transitional government. Several young men became suicide bombers and the others never returned.
There is no exact figure on how many Americans are actually fighting in Syria currently but it is believed that the number is somewhere between 50 and 100 recruits, the U.S. official told TheBlaze. But those numbers are just “a best guess because there are some we don’t know of, others who have slipped off the grid and some who may be there now who left little to trace of where they were heading. ”
There are an estimated 30 Canadians now fighting with extremist groups in Syria, according to recent testimony before the Canadian Senate National Security and Defense Committee.
Michel Coulombe, head of Canada’s intelligence service, told the committee Monday that there are “Canadians who are abroad in support of extremist activities, including approximately 30 in Syria alone” who could return to Canada and pose an “immediate” threat to national security, Canada’s National Post reported.
European security officials began to take notice of the recruitment in 2012 when rumors began to surface that young Muslims were being recruited to fight in Syria. Those rumors appeared to be validated when airport security officials started noticing “young men flying to Turkey and other Syrian border nations with medicine bags, battle gear and other paraphernalia used in war zones,” said a European official familiar with the increase of young Muslim recruits in Europe.
The total number of recruits that have been trained and are fighting in Syria is estimated to range from 5,000 to 10,000, according to a January report by Jane’s Intelligence Review, a British-based journal that provides open-source information on defense and security issues.
“There is a rising level of concern among security officials across Europe … about the threat emanating from Syria,” the report stated. “The plots highlighted to date probably represent only the beginning of a threat that will evolve in various ways in the coming years. Although it is by no means the case that every individual returning from Syria will pose a domestic threat or will launch an attack, the high number of European jihadist fighters in Syria means that a threat of some sort is likely to emerge. Moreover, a protraction of Syria’s civil war would mean more individuals would be drawn to the battlefield, therefore increasing the pool of potential jihadist recruits who could be a threat back at home.”
Jane’s described the increased recruitment as marking “a new chapter in the history of global jihadism.”
The years of policy debate as to whether or not the U.S. should aid Syrian rebel forces fighting President Bashar Assad’s loyalist military were part of the problem, analysts said. With the death toll from the years-long conflict estimated to have topped 136,000, a good portion of the small amount of non-lethal aid eventually sent to Syria by the U.S. State Department ultimately ended up in the hands of militant groups, many of whom train European recruits in the region, as previously reported by TheBlaze.
Moderates in Syria were trapped between the “tyranny of the Syrian government and the militant Islamists with no where to turn,” said Abu Akram, a physician who witnessed first-hand the devastating effects of chemical attacks in his hometown of Ghouta last year, which prompted international threats of military action against the Assad regime. who spoke to TheBlaze in an early interview. ”This war is not just about Syrians it effects everyone. ”
James Carafano, a senior defense analyst with the Heritage Foundation, said the White House’s policy of “leading from behind” and President Barack Obama’s failure to follow through with action after setting a “red line” over the use of chemical weapons have made the situation even more critical. Without intervention, Al Qaeda and its offshoots began filling the void in the rebellion and taking up key strongholds in the northern part of the country.
Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly disclosed to 15 senators behind closed doors this weekend that the White House position on the Syrian crisis was failing, according to the Daily Beast.
“[Kerry] acknowledged that the chemical weapons [plan] is being slow rolled, the Russians continue to supply arms, we are at a point now where we are going to have to change our strategy,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who attended Kerry’s briefing, told the Daily Beast. “He openly talked about supporting arming the rebels. He openly talked about forming a coalition against Al Qaeda because it’s a direct threat.”
Follow Sara Carter (@SaraCarterDC) on Twitter
Jobless Claims Take a Huge PlungePosted February 6, 2014 at 8:37 am by Becket Adams
Applications for jobless benefits fell by 20,000 for the week ending Feb. 1, bringing the total to 331,000, down from last week’s revised figure of 351,000, the Labor Department announced Thursday.
The four-week moving average, a “less volatile” figure, increased by 250, bringing the total to 334,000, down from the previous unrevised average of 333,750.
“The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.3 percent for the week ending January 25, unchanged from the prior week’s unrevised rate,” the Labor Department said.
“The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending January 25 was 2,964,000, an increase of 15,000 from the preceding week’s revised level of 2,949,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,985,500, an increase of 25,750 from the preceding week’s revised average of 2,959,750,” the report added.
The states with the largest increases in initial claims for the week ending January 25 were Indiana (+5,407), Massachusetts (+1,050) and Nebraska (+12).
Meanwhile, New York (-7,083), Texas (-4,152), Michigan (-3,929), Florida (-3,879) and New Jersey (-3,605) posted the biggest decreases in initial claims.
“A total of 3.47 million Americans received benefits as of Jan. 18, down from 3.58 million the week before,” the Associated Press reported. “The January employment report being released Friday by the Labor Department will show whether hiring has improved. A scant 74,000 jobs were added in December, the fewest in three years.”
Markets are poised to open mixed:
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This post has been updated.
The Simple Thing You’ve Come to Expect at Restaurants That’s Being Discouraged in Calif. Shows How Severe State’s Drought IsPosted February 6, 2014 at 8:27 am by Liz Klimas
California is experiencing its most dramatic drought on record. It’s so dry, extreme conservation measures are being enacted, including restaurants not giving patrons a glass of water unless they explicitly ask for one.
This might also apply to frequent water refills to which Americans have grown accustomed.
“People tend to leave a lot of water on the table, especially when diligent bussers fill their glasses without having to be asked,” Angela Pappas, spokeswoman for the California Restaurant Association, told the industry publication Foodservice Equipment Reports. “The National Restaurant Association points out that if the food service industry didn’t automatically serve water to all customers, the industry would potentially save more than 25 million gallons of water annually. If water goes untouched, it is wasted. Serving water to customers only if they ask for it will result in less water wasted and fewer glasses to clean. Also, waiting for a water glass to be empty before refilling it ensures less waste.”
The idea of not serving water unless customers request it in order to conserve is not necessarily a novel idea in response to the drought, but restaurants in the state are being encouraged to take an active role doing this now.
“The entire idea of ‘auto-items’ is a huge generator of waste in North American restaurants, and it is often associated with ‘good service,’ ” Bruce McAdams, an assistant professor at the University of Guelph in Canada, told NPR’s The Salt.
The California Restaurant Association also recommended restaurants plan ahead and thaw frozen food items in the refrigerator rather than running water over them, something that it says could say up to 90,000 gallons of water in the state annually. It also encouraged restaurateurs to check their fixture faucets and toilets for leaks.
Restaurants aren’t the only ones cutting back during this state of drought emergency. California canceled water deliveries from the state’s water system to farms and thirsty cities and shut down fishing in dozens of streams to protect imperiled salmon and steelhead.
Most of the 29 agencies serving the towns and farms that draw from the State Water Project have other, local sources of water. But the total cut-off of state water deliveries this spring and summer could have a national impact because it will affect farms in one of the nation’s richest agricultural belts.
Friday’s action comes after Gov. Jerry Brown made an official drought declaration, clearing the way for state and federal agencies to coordinate efforts to preserve water and send it to where it is needed most. The governor urged Californians to reduce their water use by 20 percent.
While California sees cycles of drought normally, scientists say the dry weather since Oct. 1 appears to be unique in its severity.
“According to tree ring records, this water year, which began Oct. 1, really stands out as one of the worst single years in the last 500 years,” said Lynn Ingram, author of “The West Without Water” and a University of California earth science professor.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Guess What’s on Sale at Amazon and EbayPosted February 6, 2014 at 8:17 am by Sharona Schwartz
Searches of Amazon and Ebay reveal that terrorism-related novelties are on sale on both sites, despite policies that would seem to ban such items.
At Amazon, a browser could find the black Al Qaeda icon printed on flags and headbands. Also found at the internet retailer, the yellow flag of the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah and the green flag of the Palestinian organization Hamas. All three groups are listed as terrorist organizations by the State Department.
At Ebay, one could find for sale the black “Shahada flag,” an image familiar to those who follow news in Iraq and Syria where Al Qaeda and its local offshoots have staged a resurgence and wave the jihadi flag with gusto. At Ebay, the flag could be found printed on banners, baseball caps and patches on military-style camouflage jackets.
On some items, the flag was embellished with a machine gun printed underneath, on another with a sword, like in these patches:
A search of “Al Qaeda flag Iraq” at Amazon generated this result: a 3×5 foot flag for $89.10, placed by Amazon in the category of “Patio, Lawn and Garden.” Of course, it’s unlikely many American neighbors would be pleased with the displaying of that flag.
Among the Hamas knickknacks for sale on Amazon, “personalized” glossy stickers, key rings, magnets, gift tags, photo prints.
A search for “Hezbollah flag” at Amazon displayed these items: window clings for the car, sheets of 21 “personalized glossy stickers or labels,” packs of 12 gift tags, fridge magnets, round pin buttons, key rings and stickers.
The seller of the Al Qaeda goods on both Amazon and Ebay was the same individual identified as AL-GHURABAH.
The seller of the Hamas and Hezbollah items was “Danetre Gifts UK” which sells other unrelated items such as ice skating key rings and bass ring lapel pins.
Blogger Aussie Dave at the IsraellyCool blog first discovered the Shahada flag offering at Ebay on Wednesday and quipped of the sword banner: “Similar to the flag, but with bonus depiction of sword (great for beheadings!).”
Ebay’s policy appears to prohibit the sale of such items. It states, “We don’t allow items that promote or glorify hatred, violence, racial, sexual, or religious intolerance, or promote organizations with such views.”
Specifically forbidden are “any item that glorifies or promotes violence toward animals or humans” and “items related to terrorist organizations.”
Amazon’s policy on offensive items states, “Listings for items that Amazon deems offensive are prohibited on Amazon.com” including “Products that promote or glorify hatred, violence, racial, sexual or religious intolerance or promote organizations with such views.”
TheBlaze has contacted Ebay and Amazon for their response.
How One HVAC Worker May Have Led to the Entire Target Data BreachPosted February 6, 2014 at 7:49 am by Elizabeth Kreft
It’s the signature move of a smart hacker; use one vulnerable point of entry on an interconnected system, then go after your real target. Now it seems one unfortunate HVAC maintenance man was used as the hacker’s pawn in the Target data breach scam.
Fazio Mechanical Services, a Sharpsburg, Penn.-based provider of refrigeration and HVAC systems, was given access to a Target database so the company could remotely login and perform efficiency updates. After stealing one Fazio worker’s credentials, the hackers used this digital pathway to insert the destructive malware, reported security blogger Brian Krebs.
Target said last week their ongoing investigation into the breach revealed a “third party vendor” was used to gain access, which is a standard move for hackers, David Kennedy, TRUSTEDSEC founder and security consultant, told TheBlaze. When multiple systems are linked, like a heating and air conditioning system and a credit card processing system, as long as a hacker can access a single point in the network, they can likely reach all the interconnected data.
“There is a data hub that handles all of those interconnections, and hackers can ride the trusted connections and pivot to other systems – it’s a very common practice,” Kennedy added.
Avivah Litan, a fraud analyst with Gartner Inc., said although current Payment Card Industry standards do not require organizations to maintain separate networks for payment and non-payment operations, it does require merchants to incorporate two-factor authentication for remote network access originating from outside the network by personnel and all third parties — including vendor access for support or maintenance, reports Krebs.
However, the Target system used by HVAC vendor did not have two-factor authentication.
Sources said that between Nov. 15 and Nov. 28 (Thanksgiving and the day before Black Friday), the attackers succeeded in uploading their card-stealing malicious software to a small number of cash registers within Target stores.
Those same sources said the attackers used this time to test that their point-of-sale malware was working as designed.
By the end of the month — just two days later — the intruders had pushed their malware to a majority of Target’s point-of-sale devices, and were actively collecting card records from live customer transactions, investigators told this reporter. Target has said that the breach exposed approximately 40 million debit and credit card accounts between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15, 2013.
So why give access to any third party vendors if malware can be inserted so easily? Krebs reported that Target, not unlike many organizations that have to heat and cool a large facility, allow vendors to remote into the system to do maintenance (updates, patches, etc.) or to troubleshoot glitches and connectivity issues with the software. And rather than having one technical specialist per store, giving remote access allows one person to monitor several systems in multiple stores.
It’s a cost saving decision that may end up costing Target hundreds of millions of dollars in bank reimbursements, fines, legal fees, and customer service costs.
Follow Elizabeth Kreft (@elizabethakreft) on Twitter.
Watch Live: President Obama Speaks at the National Prayer BreakfastPosted February 6, 2014 at 5:46 am by Billy Hallowell
Watch President Barack Obama speak at the National Prayer Breakfast below:
Did Using the Obamacare Website Make This Man Vulnerable to Identity Theft?Posted February 6, 2014 at 12:01 am by Becket Adams
A Virginia man suspects that his decision to sign up for health insurance coverage through the Obamacare website has made him vulnerable to identity theft.
“There’s a possibility someone got my personal information from your website,” Rich Guillory told officials after he received several mysterious phone calls. “They knew my name and they had my number.”
Guillory believes that his Social Security number and his home address have also been compromised, according to WVEC-VA.
The Virginia man explained that the day after he signed up for Obamacare, he received a phone call from someone offering to help him find health insurance.
When the call came in, he said he didn’t give it much thought and he ignored it.
But then he received two more calls, from two separate Virginia Beach numbers, offering him the same service.
Then seven more calls.
He finally decided to call back.
The first number he called was answered by a woman who said she had no idea what he was talking about. He called the other number. Same response — only this time the person on the other end told him he was the fourth person to call with his story.
Then he received yet another call from someone telling him they could help him find health insurance. He told them they were calling from an illegitimate number and the person hung up immediately.
“It’s easier than you think to make it look like you’re calling from a different number than you actually are,” Cyber Security expert Heather Engel told WVEC-TV.
Engel suggested that security bugs and missing features on the healthcare.gov website could be to blame for Guillory’s personal information being compromised:
(H/T: Capitol City Project)
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CNN Panel Explodes Over Whether It’s Offensive to Say a Transgender Woman Was Once a ‘Boy’Posted February 5, 2014 at 11:22 pm by Jason Howerton
CNN’s Piers Morgan, who considers himself an advocate for the transgender community, was attacked relentlessly on social media after he said author and transgender activist Janet Mock was at one point a “boy” during his interview with her on Tuesday.
After a follow-up interview with Mock on Wednesday, Morgan invited a panel of guests, including TheBlaze’s Amy Holmes to debate whether what he said was offensive or factually incorrect.
Holmes said she attempted to gain a better understanding of why Mock was so offended by talking to two people who accompanied the woman to Wednesday’s interview.
“I said, ‘basically, the contention is that Janet never wants to be referred to as ever having been a boy because from her point of view she was always a girl,’” Holmes said. “And the answer was: ‘Correct.’”
“But it seemed like it was really more of a semantic issue here because the one and only reason why she is on this show, has written a book, is getting national attention was because she was born with male genitalia, went through surgery and is now female,” she added. “And that’s, frankly, a pretty sensational thing to go through in life.”
CNN contributor Marc Lamont Hill told Morgan that him saying he’s an “ally” of the transgender community in defense of his comments is like “white people point to the number of black friends they have.”
Morgan was wrong to say Mock was formerly boy, though she should have called him out during the actual interview, not later on Twitter, Hill explained.
But things got really tense when conservative radio host Ben Ferguson chimed in with what he said are the “facts.”
“Let’s deal with facts here. She was a boy and she was a man when she was born,” he began. “Now she can be in the head and say she doesn’t accept that.”
“I disagree,” Hill interrupted.
Without acknowledging him, Ferguson continued: “But based on medicine and based on doctors, you come out and you are a man or you’re a woman.”
“That’s not true Ben! Ben, That’s not a fact! Ben, just because you say it’s a fact doesn’t make it true,” Hill hollered.
“You are confusing sex and gender, you should really read a book on this,” Hill told Ferguson.
The conservative radio host went on to accuse Mock of creating a fake outrage in order to sell more books, an allegation that Holmes pushed back against.
Watch the rest of the fiery exchange below:
Researchers Embark on Quest to Reveal How Religion and Prayer Impact the Human BrainPosted February 5, 2014 at 11:00 pm by Billy Hallowell
Researchers at the University of Utah are on a mission to better understand “how religious experience shapes the brain,” so they’ve launched the Religious Brain Project, an initiative that is part of the university’s Brain Network Lab.
Neuroradiology Professor Jeffrey Anderson is joined by researchers Michael Ferguson and Jared Nielson in launching the endeavor — one they hope will answer long-held questions about how religion impacts the faithful.
Considering how important religious adherence is to millions of Americans, Anderson said it’s actually surprising how little information is out there about “traditional spiritual experiences” and their impact on the brain.
“Religious and spiritual types of feelings are among the most profound influences to behavior, how we interact with other people, and yet the neuroscience of spirituality and religion is almost completely unknown,” Anderson told Deseret News.
Anderson, Ferguson and Nielson, who have studied Down Syndrome and autism, among other issues, are in the process of recruiting study participants. They are looking for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints between the ages of 20 and 30 and who have served missions and are active in the faith.
The researchers will put participants through an MRI scan as they go through a religious program for one hour that includes music, videos, prayer and scripture; Anderson, Ferguson and Nielson will observe them during this process, according to Deseret News.
The goal is to see what happens as these activities unfold.
“We think we have the tools now to do a study of brain activity during the really profound and deep types of emotional and social interactions associated with religion, and we’re really excited to try and understand more,” Anderson explained.
The researcher hypothesized that the brain will likely respond in similar ways, regardless of the faith system espoused by participants.
Find out more about the project here.
Recently, TheBlaze reported on a separate study that found that found evidence that spirituality might help protect the human brain against depression.
“Our beliefs and our moods are reflected in our brain and with new imaging techniques we can begin to see this,” Dr. Myrna Weissman, one of the study’s authors and a psychiatry and epidemiology professor at Columbia University, told Reuters. “The brain is an extraordinary organ. It not only controls, but is controlled by our moods.”
(H/T: Deseret News)
–Featured image credit via Shutterstock.com
New Website Vows to Show You the Benghazi Documents the ‘White House Doesn’t Want You to Read’Posted February 5, 2014 at 10:45 pm by Jason Howerton
The Republican Party has launched a new website dedicated to providing the American people an array of documents related to the deadly Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attack on two U.S. compounds in Benghazi.
The website currently includes House and Senate committee reports of their investigations into the Benghazi attacks, transcripts and notes from several congressional committee hearings on the attack. However, the site will also be updated with new documents as they become available.
House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) office said in a press release that the site was created to bring the “facts straight to the American people by way of hundreds of pages of documents and transcripts the White House doesn’t want you to read.”
“The investigation is ongoing, and the search for the truth continues, so new documents will be added as they are made available,” the release adds.
The homepage of GOP.gov/benghazi proclaims that the “fight for answers and justice” in the Benghazi investigation is still ongoing. The site accuses the White House of refusing to tell the “whole truth.”
As reported by the Washington Post, the Senate Intelligence Committee released its much-anticipated report on Benghazi, placing blame on the State Department and intelligence community for not doing enough to stop the “preventable” attack. The report found that the State Department under Hillary Clinton neglected to provide more security at the compound despite warnings.
However, the report failed to find irrefutable evidence proving a political cover-up in the aftermath of the Benghazi attack. Some lawmakers allege this is due to stonewalling efforts by the Obama administration.
Jerusalem Post Editor Slams U.S. Government for ‘Encouraging’ Israeli BoycottsPosted February 5, 2014 at 10:30 pm by Erica Ritz
Caroline Glick is the outspoken deputy managing editor for the Jerusalem Post, and according to Glenn Beck, “one of the best writers in the world.” The Chicago native earned her Master’s in Public Policy from Harvard University, and served in the IDF for over five years.
Beck invited Glick to be a guest on his television program Wednesday, and the two discussed international boycotts against Israel — and where they are truly coming from.
Both Glick and Beck believe there are government actors encouraging, if not orchestrating, many of the boycotts that are seemingly the decisions of various businesses.
“A lot of it is directed by governments themselves, and not by businesses,” Glick remarked, specifically referencing Scandinavian countries and the United Kingdom. However, she added, “the government in Washington” is also “encouraging” the boycotts.
“I think that the problem is that there’s no way that Israel can appease the United States,” Glick said. “…This boycott is not about Israel. It’s about the boycotters and their hate towards the Jewish state.”
Watch her entire explanation, below:
Beck also cited a string of government ties to Oxfam, which recently pressured Hollywood starlet Scarlett Johansson to step down from her position as a global ambassador over her decision to partner with the Israeli company SodaStream.
“[President Obama] has been humiliating [Israeli President] Benjamin Netanyahu,” Beck said. “He has called for the return to the 1967 borders. He’s slammed Israeli settlements. He supported the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt … which made everything much more unstable.”
The multimedia personality said it’s clear “whose side” the administration is on, “and it ain’t Israel”
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.
Watching This Toddler Play in the Rain for the First Time Is Exactly What You Need TodayPosted February 5, 2014 at 10:00 pm by Oliver Darcy
A video uploaded to the Internet last week shows a 15-month-old toddler playing in the rain for the first time.
The footage, initially posted last Wednesday, has been viewed over one-million times on Vimeo and is being met with rave reviews online.
“This was incredibly profound and joyful,” commented one individual. “Loved it.”
“Thank you for sharing this innocence,” wrote another. “It’s lovely.”
Watch the viral video:
(H/T: The Daily Dot)
Follow Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) on Twitter
Judge Orders No Jail for ‘Affluenza’ Teen Who Killed 4 People in Drunken-Driving CrashPosted February 5, 2014 at 9:30 pm by Jason Howerton
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — A judge on Wednesday ordered a Texas teenager who was sentenced to 10 years’ probation in a drunken-driving crash that killed four people to go to a rehabilitation facility paid for by his parents.
Judge Jean Boyd again decided to give no jail time for Ethan Couch, defense attorney Reagan Wynn and prosecutors told reporters after the hearing, which was closed to the public. Prosecutors had asked Boyd to sentence him to 20 years in state custody on charges related to two people who were severely injured.
The sentence stirred fierce debate, as has the testimony of a defense expert who says Couch’s wealthy parents coddled him into a sense of irresponsibility. The expert termed the condition “affluenza.”
Wynn and prosecutor Richard Alpert would not identify the facility where Couch will go or where it is located. The teen’s family previously had offered to pay for Couch to go to a $450,000-a-year rehabilitation center near Newport Beach, Calif.
Couch, who is currently in state custody, is expected to receive alcohol and drug rehab, and could face prison time if he runs away from the facility or violates any other terms of his probation, Alpert said.
There is no minimum amount of time Couch must spend in the facility before his release, prosecutor Riley Shaw said.
Wynn ripped the media and the public’s focus on “affluenza” and said that his client was misunderstood.
He said reporting of the Couch case had “so twisted the facts that were actually presented in court that I don’t think the truth will ever be able to come out now.”
“It was ridiculous to think that we walked into court and said, `Oh, this is a rich white kid,’ and she decided to probate him,” he said.
But Alpert accused Wynn of hypocrisy, pointing out that a defense witness made the comment in the first place.
“His witnesses don’t say things by accident,” Alpert said. “So they thought maybe that would help – that’s my interpretation – and it blew up on them. It was a stupid thing to say.”
Couch’s parents did not speak to reporters as they entered the courtroom. Several relatives of Couch’s victims also attended Wednesday’s hearing.
“The families feel like the same way they felt the last time they were here,” Alpert said.
Asking Boyd to give Couch jail time for intoxication assault was a last-ditch effort by prosecutors, who have said they have almost no way to appeal the judge’s sentence in the case.
Alpert said he hoped the Couch case would lead the Texas Legislature to allow juries to sentence some juvenile defendants. The case has already spurred calls for potential changes. Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who serves as president of the Senate, has asked for a study of sentencing guidelines in intoxication manslaughter cases.
But Wynn lauded Boyd for giving Couch probation and recognizing the possibility that he could be reformed better in a rehab facility that in prison.
“We recognize that 16-year-old kids are different from 25-year-old adults,” he said.
Couch was 16 at the time of the accident. His blood-alcohol level was three times the legal limit for an adult and there were traces of Valium in his system when he lost control of his pickup truck and plowed into a group of people helping a woman whose car had stalled.
Seven passengers were riding in Couch’s truck. One, Sergio Molina, is paralyzed and can communicate only by blinking. The other, Solimon Mohmand, suffered numerous broken bones and internal injuries.
‘Science Guy’ Bill Nye Responds to Claim He Attacked Christians, Says ‘It’s Difficult to Respect What Seems Like Irrational Thinking’Posted February 5, 2014 at 9:00 pm by Billy Hallowell
“Science guy” Bill Nye told TheBlaze Wednesday that he’s feeling good after his face-off last night with creationist Ken Ham. He also responded to accusations that he attacked Christians during the debate, claiming that he was merely focusing on the importance of embracing science rather than strictly Biblical tenets.
“My supporters have been very supportive. I’ve gotten messages from all sorts of people saying, ‘Maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing to go into the lion’s den,’” Nye said.
The former PBS host noted that he was surprised by how “well-funded” Ham’s Creation Museum is, though he expressed concern over the accuracy of at least one of the displays he observed while at the Kentucky venue for last night’s event.
Nye said he voiced worries over the purported inaccuracy of a dinosaur that was on display to museum staffers, but that they essentially ignored him.
“One thing that very much surprised me is that museum is extraordinarily well-funded and I suspect — I’m gong to look at tax records — I suspect that there’s someone or some group of people who are throwing money at the problem,” Nye explained.
On a complimentary note, the “science guy” said he was impressed by Ham’s passion for his worldview and that he even respected the sentiment, though he said “it’s difficult to respect what seems like irrational thinking.”
Nye did accuse his opponent of not answering the key questions he asked of him — mainly elements surrounding Ham’s claim that the earth is only 6,000 years old; Nye believes that the world is actually 4.55 billion years old.
The science aficionado felt that his creationist foe failed to address points he made about Noah’s Ark and Nye pointed out a purported lack of evidence backing up the theory that the earth is so young.
“He also has a very untenable position that there’s a difference between natural laws you can observe right now … and natural laws in the past,” Nye continued.
He added, “It was up to him to defend his extraordinary point of view … I don’t think he did.”
As for the claim that he attacked Christians during the debate, Nye brushed the notion aside, adding that he knows many religious people who are enriched, have a strong sense of community, are spiritually uplifted — yet do not agree with Ham that the earth is only 6,000 years old.
Nye said that he doesn’t personally have a definitive faith in the almighty and that he doesn’t believe the Bible offers up any basis for proving hypotheses.
“To me, I point out to everybody the cosmic scheme of things. You can’t know,” he said. “I’m an agnostic. With that said the earth’s not 6,000 years old.”
When asked if he had any definitive proof that a failure to teach children evolutionary theory would have economic consequences — a point he has frequently made — Nye was quick to correct the question, asking that I refer to it as an “evolutionary explanation” and noting that he believes evolution is “a provable fact.”
He went on to provide anecdotal examples surrounding the failure to embrace scientific innovation, but his examples were not directly tied to the complexities surrounding evolutionary theory.
“The science we were debating last night was, at its highest, middle school science,” he added later in the interview.
The debate aside, Nye said that science is the key to the future and that there is a real opportunity to advance scientific education in America if we invest in it. He believes that the investment will inevitably may off.
For a recap and to watch the nearly three-hour debate, go here.
George Zimmerman Set to Fight Rapper DMX in Celebrity Boxing Match: ‘Beat the Living F**k Out of Him’Posted February 5, 2014 at 8:30 pm by Becket Adams
George Zimmerman is making headlines. Again.
The former neighborhood watchman is reportedly set to take part in a celebrity boxing match.
His opponent? Rapper DMX.
Zimmerman told Radar Online recently that the match was his idea, explaining that boxing was a hobby of his even before the “incident.” The “incident,” of course, is a reference to him standing trial for the 2012 fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
“Prior to the incident, I was actually going to the gym for weight loss and doing boxing-type training for weight loss,” he told Radar. “A mutual friend put me in contact with Damon and provided me with an opportunity and motivation to get back in shape and continue with my weight loss goals and also be able to help a charity out.”
And by “Damon,” he means Damon Feldman. Feldman, who is the owner of Celebrity Boxing. He has created a name for himself by setting up boxing matches between D-list celebrities.
Feldman announced last week that he was taking offers for a contender to go three-rounds with Zimmerman in a pay-per-view fight.
“The news has been out for an hour and my e-mail is overloaded with 8,000 people wanting to fight George,” Feldman told CNN recently.
And out of the 15,000 people who reportedly applied to fight Zimmerman, DMX is the man Feldman chose for the job.
“The match will be one of the Biggest Celebrity Boxing matches of all time,” the self-proclaimed entrepreneur announced Wednesday morning in a prepared statement.
DMX, for his part, has made it clear that he’s looking to inflict some serious pain on Zimmerman, telling celebrity gossip outlet TMZ that he will, “beat the living f**k” out of the former neighborhood watchman.
Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter
Obamacare Creates ‘Disincentive for People to Work’: CBO DirectorPosted February 5, 2014 at 8:00 pm by Becket Adams
CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf said Wednesday that the Affordable Care Act creates a “disincentive for people to work” by providing them with subsidies for health care coverage.
“What the Affordable Care Act does, is to provide subsidies focused on lower- and lower-middle-income people to buy health insurance. And in order to encourage a sufficient number of people to buy an expensive product like health insurance, the subsidies are fairly large in dollar terms. Those subsidies are then withdrawn over time — withdrawn from people as their income rises,” Elmendorf told the House Budget Committee Wednesday during a hearing on Obamacare.
“By providing heavily subsidized health insurance to people with very low income and then lowering those subsidies as their income goes up, the act created a disincentive for people to work relative to what would have been the case in absence of the act,” he said.
He added that lower-income people will be “better off,” but admitted “they do have less of an incentive to work.”
Elmendorf’s testmony comes one day after the CBO released a report stating that the Affordable Care Act would lead to approximately 2 million fewer American workers by 2017.
“CBO’s current estimate for 2021 is a reduction in full-time-equivalent employment of about 2.3 million,” the report said. “The estimated reduction stems almost entirely from a net decline in the amount of labor that workers choose to supply, rather than from a net drop in business’ demand for labor.”
The report explained that the Affordable Care Act would lead to more employees working part-time hours and leaving the workforce altogether.
“CBO estimates that the ACA will reduce the total number of hours worked, on net, by about 1.5 to 2 percent during the period from 2017 to 2024, almost entirely because workers will choose to supply less labor — given the new taxes and other incentives they will face and the financial benefits some will receive,” the report added.
The report also stated that the disastrous rollout of the Obamacare website has cost about 1 million signups.
The CBO originally estimated that 7 million Americans would sign up for health care coverage through the state-based exchanges. But the botched website rollout has forced the CBO to revise the number down by 1 million.
Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter
Actor Refutes His Own Explosive Claims About Bill Clinton’s Year-Long Affair With ActressPosted February 5, 2014 at 7:38 pm by Jason Howerton
On Tuesday, Radar Online published an explosive audio recording of actor Tom Sizemore alleging a year-long affair between former President Bill Clinton and actress Elizabeth Hurley.
Later in the day, Sizemore told HuffPost Live that the recording is from four or five years ago and the claims are nothing but the “rantings of a guy…that had a very severe drug problem.”
He confirmed that it was likely his voice on the recording, but it was captured during a time that he was struggling with drug addiction and “wasn’t with very nice people.” The actor went on to fully refute the claims he made.
“It’s not true. I was never at the White House,” Sizemore said. “I’ve never met Bill Clinton. I’m not denying that I said these things. I don’t remember saying them, but it’s an old video tape and they’re the rantings of a guy…that had a very severe drug problem. Although I said it, none of it is true.”
He also apologized to anyone who was hurt by the false allegations and the “B.S.” he caused for Hurley, whom he had a previous romantic relationship with, or the Clintons.
“I was like a drunk saying that I was going to be on the Challenger next week,” he added. “My perceptions were not the greatest.”
Sizemore said he seriously doubts that the “ravings of a drug-addicted actor” will hurt Hillary Clinton’s chances should she decide to run for president in 2016.
Watch part of the interview via HuffPost Live:
You can watch the full interview below:
Featured image via Victoria Will/Invision/AP
Video of One Man’s Desperate, Heartfelt Plea to Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg Goes Viral (UPDATE: Facebook Responds)Posted February 5, 2014 at 7:00 pm by Oliver Darcy
UPDATE — 9:15 p.m. ET: An update posted by John Berlin on Facebook said that the social media website had contacted him Wednesday evening and would be providing him access to his late son’s “look back” video.
“It worked I was just contacted by FB by phone and there going to make a vid just for us,” he wrote in the post. “They also said they’re going to look at how they can better help families who have lost loved ones.”
A father turned to YouTube Wednesday to post a heartfelt plea to Facebook, asking the social media giant to allow him to see the new one-minute highlight reel of his late son — and it’s going viral.
“I’m calling out to Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook. You’ve been putting out these new movies — you know these one minute movies that everybody’s been sharing,” John Berlin says in the video. “And I think they are great.”
“Well, my son passed away Jan. 28, 2012 and we can’t access his Facebook account,” he continued. “I’ve tried emailing, different things, but it ain’t working. All we want to do is see his movie. That’s it.”
On Tuesday, in commemoration of its 10th anniversary, Facebook unveiled a new feature called “A Look Back,” which allowed users to see a video showing highlights of their time on the social network.
Berlin, who could not be reached for comment, said it was likely his video-plea would not work, but filmed it anyway, often at times fighting back tears desperately asking to see video of his late son Jesse. It was not clear from the video how his son had died.
“I know it’s a shot in the dark, but I don’t care,” he said. “I want to see my son’s video. His name is Jesse Berlin.”
At the time of publication, the YouTube counter on Berlin’s video was frozen at 301 views, suggesting it had been sent viral.
Facebook did not immediately provide a spokesperson for comment to TheBlaze Wednesday evening.
Follow Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) on Twitter
Hot List: Jailhouse HoudinisPosted February 5, 2014 at 6:45 pm by Amy Holmes
Amy Holmes takes a look at some of the most infamous prison breaks:
The Deadly Diet Trend Getting AttentionPosted February 5, 2014 at 6:30 pm by Liz Klimas
In a scene from the Christmas classic “Elf,” Buddy the Elf, played by actor Will Ferrel, pops a cotton ball into his mouth and swallows to the angst of his naughty-listed father — and to the amusement of viewing audiences. But eating cotton balls is no laughing matter.
In fact, doctors say that the “cotton ball diet” is actually a disturbing, spreading trend that could prove deadly.
“People can die very quickly from this,” Dr. Scott Bullock with the Lindner Center of Hope told WXIX-TV. “Cotton balls will collect and not break down. They are made of synthetic fibers.”
When they don’t break down in the digestive tract, the cotton could then build up in the intestines.
“By the time somebody realizes what’s going on and what’s happened, it’s too late,” Bullock said.
As seen in YouTube videos, individuals dip the cotton ball into orange juice or another type of juice and then swallow it.
Elizabeth Paff is a 21-year-old woman who almost succumbed to the body image disease when she took extreme measures to look thin. She is now using her story as a cautionary tale.
“I almost didn’t make it,” Paff, who has healthier eating habits, told WXIX.
Watch WXIX-TV’s report about the dangerous trend:
The “diet” isn’t new but started getting even more attention when it was featured in Beyonce’s music video “Pretty Hurts,” showing a model popping a cotton ball into her mouth. In April 2013, Australia’s Vogue editor also said that models ate tissues, something that would be similar in concept to eating a cotton ball.
U.S. Warns of Possible Terrorist Threat to Flights to RussiaPosted February 5, 2014 at 5:48 pm by Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Homeland Security Department is warning airlines flying to Russia that terrorists may try to smuggle explosives on board hidden in toothpaste tubes.
The threat is to airlines that have direct flights to Russia, including some that originate in the United States, says a law enforcement official speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss details of the warning.
The department said in a statement that the U.S. “isn’t aware of a specific threat to the homeland at this time.”
The statement notes the department – quote – “regularly shares information with domestic and international partners, including those associated with international events such as the Sochi Olympics.”
The warning comes on the eve of the Winter Olympics.
Obama’s ‘Climate Action Plan’ Directs Officials to Act, ‘Not Wait for Congress, Not Wait for Laws to Be Passed’Posted February 5, 2014 at 5:30 pm by Fred Lucas
Continuing the Obama administration’s shunning of Congress, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack heralded the unilateral establishment “climate hubs” across the country.
“These climate action hubs are really part of the president’s climate action plan and its directive of us to actually act, not wait for Congress, not wait for laws to be passed, but to do it on our own,” Vilsack said at the White House Wednesday.
Regional Hubs for Risk Adaptation and Mitigation to Climate Change will be located in seven locations around the country, Vilsack told reporters. He said farmers and ranchers have a direct interest in combating climate change because of the adverse impacts of storms and droughts on land.
The climate hubs are supposed to address and mitigate the risks fires, invasive pests, floods and droughts on a regional basis to assist farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners. The hubs are also designed to link a network of universities, non-governmental organizations and federal agencies such as the Department of Interior and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and state agencies.
Responding to a question about being dismissive of Congress, Vilsack stressed that the administration worked with Congress to push the recent farm bill through which President Barack Obama is set to sign.
“As the president has said repeatedly, if there is an opportunity to work with Congress, we will work with Congress, and we did,” Vilsack said. “We’ve been waiting a while for Congress to work on climate. Fair enough. There are multiple reasons why they haven’t. But in the meantime, we’re going to take action because 51 percent of the land mass of the United States is a lot of land. It’s over 1.2 billion acres of land.”
He added, “I think we’re trying to work with Congress when we can and when they can’t or won’t, we’re going to continue to act. That’s what I think the American public wants us to do.”
The theme of Obama’s State of the Union address last week was his pledge to use his executive authority whenever possible to get things done when Congress won’t act on his policies.
The Midwest hub will Ames, Iowa, a state where Vilsack was formerly governor. A “sub-hub” for the Midwest will be in Houghton, Mich. The Northeast hub will be in Durham, N.H. The Southeast hub will be in Raleigh, N.C., with that region’s “sub-hub” in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico
The Northern Plains hub will be in Fort Collins, Colo. The Southern Plains hub will be in El Reno, Okla. The Pacific Northwest hub will be in Corvallis, Ore. The Southwest hub will be in Les Cruces, N.M., with that region’s “sub-hub” in Davis, Calif.
According to the USDA, the fire season is 60 days longer than it was 30 years ago, posing a greater risk to forest. The USDA is projecting an increased threat of insect outbreaks, fire, drought and storms over the next 50 years. Droughts were estimated to cost the U.S. about $50 billion from 2011 to 2013, according to the USDA.
“What impacts agriculture and forestry matters,” Vilsack said. “We’ve obviously seeing a significant number of severe storms, very early snow storms that devastated live stock in the Dakotas, the recent drought in California, which is now going into its third year but now is very intense, is a reflection of the changing weather patterns that will indeed impact and affect crop production, live stock production, as well as an expansion of pests and diseases that could compromise agriculture and forestry.”
Follow Fred Lucas (@FredVLucas3) on Twitter.
Endearing Kid Starts a YouTube Channel Asking for Just ‘One Like’… Guess How Many He Has NowPosted February 5, 2014 at 5:30 pm by Liz Klimas
The Sir Fedora YouTube channel launched less than a week ago. Then, on Wednesday something magical happened: he went viral…beyond his wildest dreams viral.
Five days ago when Sir Fedora posted his inaugural YouTube video, all he asked for was one like. Now he has more than 23,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel and thousands of Twitter followers — and the numbers are still climbing.
But let’s break down his viral fame. It all started with a plea for “one like.”
“If we could get a like one this video, [I] will know that people are watching me. A new subscriber would make me feel so happy because I know there are a lot of YouTube channels out there that just blow, they like never made it,” Sir Fedora said in his inaugural post.
“It’s guaranteed, if you do subscribe, it’s going to be worth it,” he added.
Watch his first video:
The next day, Sir Fedora graced the Internet with his excitement over getting his one like.
“I’m feeling awesome right now,” he said.
But he also had another request.
“Can we get three to five likes?”:
On this video, he included his Twitter handle @sirfedora.
Then he went to bed and he woke up Wednesday to find he had 45 followers.
“This is ridiculous. So I woke up after a good night’s rest to find I had 45 freaking followers on Twitter,” he said.
“I’m so stoked,” he added later.
Watch his endearing response:
He asks his viewers to comment about what happened that might have caused this spike in followers.
Then Reddit happened.
Logging on a few hours later, he found he had thousands upon thousands of subscribers and was “panicking.”
“I asked for like three to five likes and I have like 40 or 30K likes and the feedback has been amazing,” Sir Fedora said, unable to contain his glee.
Watch his “thanks soooo much” video:
If you decide to subscribe to the endearing kid, here’s what to expect from the YouTube channel:
- Game and iOS app reviews, “because I do have an iPod Touch,” he said.
- A “ton of cool videos.” Videos will include at least one with “tons of pictures of me and my social life,” he said.
Though some on Reddit have voiced their fear that the young man be bullied or crushed if his following drops, others have pointed out that the majority of people have been very supportive of him.
“[…] everyone so far seems to be very nice to him and he seems like he has a heart of gold…I hope this is more beneficial than detrimental,” a Redditor going by Fortini wrote.
In the words of Sir Fedora, “let’s go YouTube! Heck yeah!”
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