(UPDATED) ‘Stunner’: Congressman Claims AP Phone Scandal Involved House of Reps. ‘Cloakroom’Posted May 16, 2013 at 1:21 am by Becket Adams
UPDATE 11:00 a.m. ET — Rep. Nune’s director of communications, Jack Langer, clarified the congressman’s comments Thursday morning:
What Rep. Nunes meant by “tapped” was that the DOJ seized the phone records, as has been widely reported. There was a little confusion between him and the host during the conversation: He did not mean to refer to phone records of the cloakroom itself, but of the Capitol. This refers to the phone records for the AP from the House press gallery, which the DOJ admitted to looking at.
He was explaining that if those phone records were seized, they would reveal a lot of conversations between the press and members of Congress, since reporters often speak to Members from the press gallery phones. The notion of the DOJ looking at phone records from the Capitol of conversations between Members of Congress and reporters is something that concerns Rep. Nunes, bringing up issues related to the separation of powers.
Congressman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said Wednesday during an interview on the Hugh Hewitt Show that the Justice Department’s investigation of the Associated Press involved seizing phone records from the United States Capitol.
Here’s how the conversation went down [h/t Hot Air]:
HH: The idea that this might be a Geithner-Axelrod plan, and by that, the sort of intimation, Henry II style, will no one rid me of this turbulent priest, will no one rid me of these turbulent Tea Parties, that might have just been a hint, a shift of an eyebrow, a change in the tone of voice. That’s going to take a long time to get to. I don’t trust the Department of Justice on this. Do you, Congressman Nunes?
DN: No, I absolutely do not, especially after this wiretapping incident, essentially, of the House of Representative. I don’t think people are focusing on the right thing when they talk about going after the AP reporters. The big problem that I see is that they actually tapped right where I’m sitting right now, the Cloak Room.
HH: Wait a minute, this is news to me.
DN: The Cloak Room in the House of Representatives.
HH: I have no idea what you’re talking about.
DN: So when they went after the AP reporters, right? Went after all of their phone records, they went after the phone records, including right up here in the House Gallery, right up from where I’m sitting right now. So you have a real separation of powers issue that did this really rise to the level that you would have to get phone records that would, that would most likely include members of Congress, because as you know…
DN: …members of Congress talk to the press all the time.
HH: I did not know that, and that is a stunner.
DN: Now that is a separation of powers issue here, Hugh.
DN: And it’s a freedom of press issue. And now you’ve got the IRS going after people. So these things are starting to cascade one upon the other, and you have the White House pretending like they’re in the clouds like it’s not their issue somehow.
For those of you who don’t know what a congressional cloakroom is, it’s where U.S. lawmakers go to relax between sessions. The House and Senate cloakrooms, which have their own phone numbers, are not open to the media or the public.
Now, the press gallery is different. That’s obviously reserved for media. It also has phones. So if AP reporters were making calls to members of Congress via the press gallery, it appears the DOJ looked into those records (they did not wiretap the building):
The congressman’s revelation is particularly interesting considering the fact that even U.S Attorney General Eric Holder claims he provided the DOJ with his phone records.
“Some of my telephone records were examined,” Holder said during a congressional hearing Wednesday.
“I voluntarily turned them over,” he added.
At this point, who hasn’t had their phone records examined by the DOJ?
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Featured image Getty Images. This post has been updated for clarity.
Two ‘Rogue’ Agents Behind IRS Scandal? There May Be Some Serious Problems With That StoryPosted May 16, 2013 at 12:07 am by Becket Adams
Internal Revenue Service officials in an attempt to explain the agency’s decision to target conservative groups with “substantial delays” and often “unnecessary” information requests claimed Wednesday that it was all the work of two “rogue employees.”
“[T]he IRS has identified two ‘rogue’ employees in the agency’s Cincinnati office as being principally responsible for the ‘overly aggressive’ handling of requests by conservative groups for tax-exempt status,” CNN reports, citing a congressional source.
Steven Miller, former Acting Internal Revenue Service Commissioner, said the two “rogues” had already been disciplined, the source adds.
A “second source said Miller emphasized that the problem with IRS handling of tax-exempt status for tea party groups was not limited to these two employees,” the CNN report notes.
Still, boiling this scandal down to just two employees is a little hard to believe.
It’s even more difficult to imagine that this was all the work of two people given the fact that at least four IRS Cincinnati agents who may have been involved in the scandal have supposedly been identified by FOX19.
“Those four employees — whose names we have chosen to withhold until they have been officially confirmed — Have each worked in the IRS Exempt Organizations Department,” the report claims.
“This is the same department that has admitted publicly to sending letters to Tea Party and other conservative organizations,” it adds:
According to the Fox report, the four Cincinnati employees in question made large requests of information from:
- The Richmond, Virginia Tea Party in January of 2012.
- The Ohio Liberty Council in January of 2012.
- Dan Backer, a lawyer based in Washington D.C. who helped six small conservative groups apply for 501c4 status in February of 2012.
- The Liberty Township Tea Party in March of 2012.
The employees, according to the Fox affiliate’s sources, claim “they simply did what their bosses ordered.”
Now it’s entirely possible two “overly aggressive” employees orchestrated this entire scandal, and that low-level employees (like the four in the Fox report) were merely pawns in their game.
However, considering the size and scope of the scandal (the number of groups flagged for extra scrutiny is nearing 500) that seems highly unlikely.
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Featured image screen grab.
Texas May Have Its Own Gosnell: Houston Doc Accused of Gruesome Illegal AbortionsPosted May 15, 2013 at 10:56 pm by Becket Adams
Although Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia abortionist found guilty this week of three counts of first-degree murder, has been successfully removed from civil society, another abortion practitioner like him may be on the loose in Houston, Texas.
“Harris County authorities and the Texas Department of State Health Services are investigating a local doctor accused Wednesday by an anti-abortion group of performing late-term abortions in 2011,” the Houston Chronicle reports.
The abortionist, Douglas Karpen, has been accused by three former staffers, Deborah Edge, Gigi Aguliar, and Krystal Rodriguez, of performing several illegal abortions. Their testimony, and alleged photographic evidence, was brought to light by Operation Rescue, a pro-life watchdog.
There’s a fourth informant working with Operation Rescue, filing an affidavit about her experiences, but she prefers to remain anonymous.
“We have several people looking into the allegations,” said Sara Marie Kinney, a spokeswoman for the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.
DSHS spokeswoman Carrie Williams said in an email that the agency, which monitors Texas abortion facilities, is “aware of the allegations, and we are investigating.”
“This is a very high priority for us,” she said.
DSHS became aware of the allegations after Operation Rescue released a report containing the staffers’ testimony and photos. The cellphone photos the staffers provided the pro-life group with seem to back up their gruesome claims.
“The photos show babies that are huge, with gashes in their necks, indicating that these babies were likely born alive, then killed, just as Kermit Gosnell did at his ‘House of Horrors’ clinic in Philadelphia,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman.
“In fact, there are numerous similarities between Karpen and the Gosnell case, including the disregarding of complaints by the authorities that allowed both men to continue their illegal operations,” he added.
The photos are extremely gruesome, entirely sickening, and graphic. If you have the stomach for it, LifeSiteNews.com has copies of them here. But be warned.
Here’s a reported video of Karpen’s former staffers:
“In a week when serial murderer Kermit Gosnell was found guilty of killing babies, I read with disgust about the allegations of Houston-based abortionist Douglas Karpen performing illegal late-term abortions surrounded by appalling sanitary conditions in his clinic,” Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, mindful of Gosnell’s “house of horrors,” said in a statement.
“The Harris County authorities should perform a full-scale investigation and take action against those who broke state law,” the statement adds.
The possibility that Texas may have its own Gosnell has the Texas Medical Board on alert.
Leigh Hopper, a spokeswoman for the group, said the reports on Karpen’s three clinics “raises concerns, for certain.
However, she adds, Karpen’s license is “free and clear currently.”
“Hopper declined to say whether there have been complaints lodged against Karpen; such information is not available to the public,” the Houston Chronicle notes.
“But in its online post, Operation Rescue links to a February letter that appears to show the medical board dismissing an investigation into Karpen,” the report adds.
Hopper offered a possible explanation: It “doesn’t look fake to me, and it reads like the sort of letter TMB sends out routinely.”
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What Do the IRS, Benghazi and AP Scandal All Have in Common?Posted May 15, 2013 at 9:48 pm by Tiffany Gabbay
With the myriad scandals plaguing the White House — from the Benghazi debacle to IRS probes of conservative organizations, to the Associated Press’ phone records being seized by the Department of Justice — President Obama seems to forever be feigning ignorance.
Obama’s seeming lack of awareness of these three major issues prompted Glenn Beck to ask the question: Is there anything the president does know?
“Arrogance, fundamental transformation and intimidation” are all at play, according to Beck, in terms of the administration’s involvement with Benghazi, the IRS investigations and the recent AP-phone records seizure.
Combined, Beck coined the term “intimogate” to characterize the administration’s penchant for intimidating the media, whistle blowers, and those with dissenting political opinions.
Perhaps it is just “the Chicago way.”
Regarding the White House’s seizure of AP phone records, Beck noted that the administration “has so profoundly changed our government and what we know about our rights… that even the executive director of the AP isn’t even sure if they [Obama administration] broke the law.”
Based on the administration’s actions, Beck asked how AP journalists could ever feel comfortable reporting the truth when they will have to fear retribution from the White House.
“This president has prosecuted more whistle-blowers,” Beck added, “than all other presidents” combined. And those who criticize the president are targeted.
So does the right hand really not know what the left hand is doing?
Given the number of advisers, staffers and top aides at the president’s disposal, it seems unlikely:
Poll: 57% Want IRS Officials Jailed or Fired for Targeting Conservative Groups…Posted May 15, 2013 at 9:45 pm by Tiffany Gabbay
A mere 16 percent of likely U.S. voters believe that the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups was a coincidence, while 57 percent believe the probes were politically motivated, according to the latest Rasmussen poll.
What’s more, 57 percent believe IRS agents involved in the investigation of conservative groups should either be jailed or fired. In terms of specific break-down, 16 percent say the IRS agents should be put in jail and 41 percent believe they should at least be fired.
Only seven percent of voters believe no disciplinary action should be taken against the IRS agents while 29 percent believe that, at the very least, those involved should be formally reprimanded.
In terms of whether the Obama administration had prior knowledge about the investigations, 55 percent of likely voters think it is at least somewhat likely that the president or his top advisers were aware of the IRS probes into Tea Party and other conservative groups. That 55 percent includes 13 percent of Democrats and 34 percent of unaffiliated voters.
Only 34 percent of likely voters believe it is unlikely that the White House was aware of IRS investigations into conservative groups.
In terms of punishment for IRS agents, 44 percent of Democrats believe those involved should be formally reprimanded.
Feds Seize Bitcoin Account for ‘Unlicensed Money Transferring’Posted May 15, 2013 at 9:41 pm by Liz Klimas
The Bitcoin trading platform Mt. Gox in Tuwsday was issued a warrant that stopped its ability to send or accept transfers of the electronic currency through its Dwolla payment service.
Betabeat reported that the Department of Homeland Security issued a “seizure warrant” for the Dwolla account, and a copy of the warrant obtained by Ars Technica revealed it was for “unlicensed money transmitting.”
The warrant, in part, states:
(a) Whoever knowingly conducts, controls, manages, supervises, directs, or owns all or part of an unlicensed money transmitting business, shall be fined in accordance with this title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.
(b) As used in this section—
(1) the term “unlicensed money transmitting business” means a money transmitting business which affects interstate or foreign commerce in any manner or degree…
The warrant identifies Mark Karpeles, the president and CEO of Mt. Gox, as opening a Wells Fargo bank account in May 2011 under Mt. Gox’s subsidiary company Mutum Sigillum. The application for the account, the warrant states, explicitly asked if the company exchanges currency for customers and if it “[accepts] funds from customers or [sends] the funds based on customer instructions (Money Transmitter)?”
To both of these, Karpeles answered no.
If Mt. Gox or Mutum Sigillum were transmitting money, it would need to be registered with FinCen, and neither are, according to the records mentioned in the warrant.
The warrant goes on to show how a “confidential informant” was able to reveal that the company was “engaged in a money transmitting business but is not registered with FinCen.”
Through the Dwolla account, the feds established that it has probable caused to believe Mt. Gox or Mutum Sigillum were violating 18 U.S.C. section 1960. Due to this, the Wells Fargo account and the Dwolla account, which was held through Veridian Credit Union, were subject to seizure.
This is the latest statement Mt. Gox issued on its Facebook profile, which was nearly 24 hours ago:
Like many who have contacted us, MtGox has read on the Internet that the United States Department of Homeland Security had a court order and/or warrant issued from the United States District Court in Maryland which it served upon the Dwolla mobile payment service with respect to accounts used for trading with MtGox. We take this information seriously. However, as of this time we have not been provided with a copy of the court order and/or warrant, and do not know its scope and/or the reasons for its issuance. MtGox is investigating and will provide further reports when additional information becomes known.
This news comes after bitcoin saw a rapid rise in its value within the last couple months. The currency did go through a bit of a “bitcrash” but was still significantly higher than it had been before.
- Libertarian Party Accepts Bitcoin Donations (And Guess Who Owns Millions of Dollars Worth of the Digital Currency)
- There’s Now a Currency That’s Up 152% — and You Should Know About It
- Confused by Digital Currency? This Three Minute Video Has the Basics of What You Need to Know About ‘Bitcoins’
- Digital Currency Sees ‘Bitcrash’ After All-Time High
‘Audit This’: NFL Player’s Protest of the IRS May Shock YouPosted May 15, 2013 at 9:20 pm by Becket Adams
We didn’t think it could happen, but it looks like the Internal Revenue Service has manged to make itself even more unpopular with Americans that it already was — if that’s even possible.
For instance, Philadelphia Eagles offensive lineman Evan Mathis on Wednesday decided to express his disgust for the fed agency by posting the following photo to his Instagram account:
Now, although we have a strong feeling he’ll be forced to offer a public apology (and may even face a fine), it doesn’t sound like he regrets a thing:
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(H/T: Mashable). Featured image screen grab.
Mass. Police Catch 7 ‘Chemical Engineers’ from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, & Singapore Trespassing Major ReservoirPosted May 15, 2013 at 8:47 pm by Becket Adams
UPDATE 5:17 p.m. ET — State officials have given the all clear: “State Police say there was a thorough investigation of the seven Quabbin trespassers and the only crime they committed was trespassing.”
A group of individuals from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Singapore were caught early Wednesday morning trespassing at the Quabbin Reservoir in Massachusetts, one of the largest man-made public water supplies in the county, CBS Boston reports.
The trespassers, five men and two women, were caught in one of the no-trespassing zones of reservoir, according to Massachusetts state police.
Police also said that the trespassers “cited their education and career interests” for being in the area and claimed they are “chemical engineers” and “recent college graduates,” CBS Boston reports.
The Quabbin, located about 65 miles from Boston, supplies several Massachusetts communities, including the state’s largest city, with clean drinking water.
“State Police say there were no warrants or advisories on any of the individuals and ‘there was no evidence that the seven were committing any crime beyond the trespassing,” the CBS Boston report notes.
“All seven were allowed to leave and will be summonsed to court for trespassing. The FBI is investigating and routine checks of public water supplies have been increased following the incident.”
The seven individuals reside in Amherst, Cambridge, Sunderland, Northampton, and New York City.
“Police have not released their names because a court date has not been set,” the report adds.
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Featured image Wiki Commons.
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Confused by Obama’s Incredibly Brief IRS Statement? Here’s Krauthammer’s TakePosted May 15, 2013 at 7:45 pm by Becket Adams
Comments (242) President Obama took a break from his regularly scheduled events Wednesday to speak for three minutes and 24 seconds on the increasingly-serious Internal Revenue Service scandal.
“I’ve reviewed the Treasury Department watchdog’s report, and the misconduct that it uncovered was inexcusable,” the president said. “It’s inexcusable, and Americans are right to be angry about it, and I’m angry about it.”
He added later that Steven Miller, the IRS acting commissioner, had tendered his resignation.
And that was about everything the president said.
The presser, as noted in this post’s headline, was incredibly brief. Brief to the point where more than a few people have asked: “What was the point of that?”
Conservative author and columnist Charles Krauthammer offers his analysis: “[The announcement] was a holding operation. That was the absolute minimum he could have done. He relieves one person – he obviously had to – he had to relieve at least one person and he chose, of course, the acting commissioner.”
“But I would’ve expected more,” he added. “The other actions he announced are, up to now, meaningless. Obama, this administrating, has said a hundred times they’re going to hold X, Y, or Z accountable for all kinds of behavior.”
In Benghazi, regarding a lot of other scandals, he even speaks about Syrian generals are going to be held accountable. It means nothing.
And then he says there’s going to be an investigation from Treasury. Well, that just means that the left hand of the government investigating the right hand. He did say he’d cooperate with Congress, but then he has the chutzpa to essentially warn republicans not to make this into a political event.
[W]e’re talking about is the IRS applying political criteria — inexcusably, unconstitutionally, probably criminally — and deciding who it’s going to investigate.
“I found this the bare minimum,” he concluded. “It’ll hold them for 12 hours, but no more.”
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Featured image screen grab.
The Unbelievable Video Showing the Moment a Hunter Snatches a Bird Out of the Air With His Bare HandPosted May 15, 2013 at 7:23 pm by Jonathon M. Seidl
What do you get when you combine guns, hunting, NFL quarterback Colt McCoy and a one-in-a-million-type feat? A viral video for sure.
Below is a YouTube post by Austin Stone church, a prominent church in Austin, TX. In it, a man can be seen walking through the brush with his shotgun when his buddies alert him to a quail coming his way. Instead of raising his gun (a good decision considering the bird was between him and the camera man), the hunter instead stretches out his hand and snatches the bird right out of the air to the disbelief of many:
Watch it in real time below:
Since being posted on Monday, the video has over 500,000 views.
The man in the video is Pastor Matt Carter, and the whole thing happened while filming a promo for a new book by Carter and McCoy called “The Real Win.”
Of course with videos like this you always have to be skeptical, but considering the source it does seem to check out so far. And Carter is adamant there are no special effects and no bird training involved.
“It’s actually real. Freak thing … but I caught it,” Carter out in response to someone claiming it was fake.
“We realized that we caught it on camera, and we thought it would be a unique way to get the word out about the book,” he told the New York Daily News.
Local news outlet KXAN-TV is reporting it is real, too.
You know what they say (now): A bird in the hand is apparently worth the walk in the bush.
Holder to House Committee: I Don’t Really Know Anything About AP Scandal (And I’m Not Sure When I Recused Myself)Posted May 15, 2013 at 6:29 pm by Erica Ritz
Attorney General Eric Holder appeared for the sixth time before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday, asked to speak about the IRS’ admission that it has been targeting conservative organizations and the Department of Justice secretly seizing two months of phone records from the Associated Press.
Unfortunately, though, Holder divulged almost nothing.
The attorney general’s opening statement consisted of an overview of the Department of Justice’s “achievements” and “priorities,” before saying they could be “threatened” by budget cuts related to sequestration.
But in response to repeated questions by Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va) about the DOJ seizing phone records from the Associated Press, Holder said: “I was not the person involved in that decision…I am not familiar why the subpoena was constructed in the way it was because I was not involved in the case…” etc.
He also often noted that there is an ongoing investigation that prevents him from commenting.
Lawmakers then attempted to determine who authorized the subpoena if not Holder, and the attorney general said he would “assume” that the deputy attorney general did after he recused himself from the case, and received confirmation during the hearing that Deputy Attorney General James Cole indeed did authorize the subpoenas.
Representative Spencer Bachus (R-AL) was one of the lawmakers to glean some new information from the attorney general.
While we know Holder has recused himself from the case, Bachus’ questions reveal that apparently Holder doesn’t know when exactly he did so.
“On what date did you recuse yourself?” Bachus asked.
“I’m not sure, I think it was towards the beginning of the matter,” Holder responded.
“Isn’t that sort of an unacceptable procedure? The statue says that the attorney general shall approve the subpoena. There was no memorandum, no email — when you recused yourself, was it in writing, was it orally? Did you tell someone, did you alert the White House?” Bachus probed.
“I would’ve told the deputy attorney general,” Holder replied, though he said there would be no record of it in writing.
Holder said the FBI’s criminal investigation of the IRS could feasibly include civil rights violations, false statements, and potential violations of the Hatch Act, though he couldn’t say by or for whom.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) was particularly disturbed by Holder’s actions, saying “the actions of the department have, in fact, impaired the First Amendment.”
To this, as with the rest, Holder provided a limited explanation.
Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) was one of several lawmakers to suggest Holder and other administration officials travel to the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and reflect on the phrase “the buck stops here.”
Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) held up a picture of Tyrone Woods, one of the four Americans killed in Benghazi, then a photo of Brian Terry, a U.S. border patrol agent killed with an illegal gun tied to Operation Fast and Furious, asking whether there was anything the government could have done to prevent the loss of life.
When Holder prevaricated, Forbes grew agitated and said the only way we can prevent equal corruption in our health care system is for our personal health information never to be sent to the IRS in the first place. Because once the government inevitably overreaches, there is a clear precedent that no one will be held accountable.
Obama During Surprise News Conference: We’ve Fired the Acting IRS Commissioner Over Tea Party ScandalPosted May 15, 2013 at 5:55 pm by Becket Adams
President Obama announced Wednesday during an unscheduled presser that he had requested — and received — the resignation of Steven Miller, acting Internal Revenue Service commissioner.
Miller took over as acting commissioner on Nov. 9, 2012, two years into the IRS’ political targeting, after his predecessor, Doug Shulman, vacated the position.
Miller will leave the IRS in June, not immediately, as per the terms of his assignment.
“It is with regret that I will be departing from the IRS as my acting assignment ends in early June,” Miller wrote. “This has been an incredibly difficult time for the IRS given the events of the past few days, and there is a strong and immediate need to restore public trust in the nation’s tax agency.”
News that Miller has stepped down from his position comes six days after it was first revealed that the fed agency had been targeting conservative groups with “substantial delays” and often “unnecessary” information requests.
Obama, who has been criticized for appearing uninterested in the scandal, as the Associated Press puts it, declared, “I am angry about it” and said the American people had a right to be angry as well.
The president in his incredibly brief presser vowed to hold all responsible parties accountable, adding that he has instructed Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to follow up on Inspector General’s audit of the agency:
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Featured image Getty Images. This post has been updated.
White House Releases Benghazi Emails: See Them HerePosted May 15, 2013 at 5:25 pm by Becket Adams
Following weeks of repeated requests from members of Congress and the media, the Obama administration on Wednesday released 100 pages of emails pertaining to the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi Libya.
Among the major takeaways from the White House’s doc dump is the fact that CIA Deputy Director Michael Morrell is apparently responsible for editing the administration’s talking points (i.e. changed attack to “violent demonstration”).
However, as POLITICO notes, the documents “also include a significant discrepancy in the process for drafting the document between the office of United Nation Ambassador Susan Rice and Morrell.”
Lastly, as you can tell from reading through the following .pdf file, the farthest back the released emails go is Sept. 14, 2012, three days after the actual attack on the consulate. So take from that what you will.
The emails have been redacted to protect confidential information:
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Featured image screen grab. This post has been updated.
Why, Exactly, Did the UK Just Vote Down Flying One of Its Own Flags?Posted May 15, 2013 at 4:58 pm by Tiffany Gabbay
The Telegraph reportes that university lecturer Eleanor Jackson said the iconic red and white symbol could cause upset in in the town of Radstock, Somerset, because it was used 1,000 years ago during the Christian Crusades.
The council met to determine the fate of the flag, which flew atop the town’s civic flagpole.
“My big problem is that it is offensive to some Muslims, but even more so that it has been hijacked by the far right,” Jackson said.
“My thoughts are we ought to drop it for 20 years.”
The Telegraph provides background:
Radstock Town Council, which serves a local population of more than 5,600 residents, eventually decided to purchase a Union flag to fly on Armistice Day.
The rainbow flag of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender pride movement will be flown at “appropriate” times of the year while an In Bloom flag will celebrate the town’s achievements in the gardening competition.
The objections raised about the flag of St George were branded “oversensitive” by the local Muslim community while the Muslim Council of Britain said England’s patron saint should not be associated with “any hatred of Muslims”.
But some British Muslims do not agree with the decision to remove the flag of St. George.
Spokeswoman Nasima Begum said, “St. George needs to take his rightful place as a national symbol of inclusivity rather than a symbol of hatred.”
Rizwan Ahmed, spokesman for the Bristol Muslim Cultural Society even noted that she believes the decision is political correctness run amok.
“I think they are going a bit far here … It is political correctness going a bit too far,” she said.
“Use by the far right is one thing, but to say that Muslims are offended I don’t think is correct. We understand the flag is part of this country’s heritage, and in fact many many Muslims will identify as being British themselves.”
While council chair Lesley Mansell insisted that Jackson’s objection to the flag ”was not really taken into consideration,” they have opted to fly the Union flag instead.
Family Probes Death of 8-Year-Old Daughter Believed ‘Murdered’ to Harvest OrgansPosted May 15, 2013 at 4:46 pm by Liz Klimas
A Birmingham, U.K., family believes their 8-year-old daughter was murdered while on a trip abroad to India by physicians wishing to harvest her organs.
The Birmingham Mail reported that Gurkiren Kaur Loyal was brought to a clinic in Punjab to be treated for dehydration. Her mother, Amrit Kaur Loyal, said the girl was given an injection and “within a split-second Gurkiren’s head flipped back, her eyes rolled in her head, and the color completely drained from her.”
“I knew they had killed her on the spot,” Amrit said, according to the Mail. “I knew my innocent child had been murdered.”
The child was transported to a nearby hospital but the Mail reported that she could not be resuscitated.
The family was then told a post-mortem examination in India was required before the body could be brought back to the UK. The grieving mother insisted on a respectful autopsy, but said when she returned to the mortuary, the scene showed her daughter’s blood-stained clothes, ripped near an incinerator.
“It was medieval.”
Things got worse when they received the girl’s body back in the UK with plans to have it examined by a coroner, hoping to learn what really happened to their daughter.
“He said it was impossible to come to a conclusion for the cause of death,” Amrit told the Mail. “They had nothing to work from, she had no organs in her body for them to take samples.”
All that was left of her internal organs were her eyes, according to the report.
A family friend, Coun Kooner, said he believes the girl was killed so her organs could be harvested and sold.
In a separate article, the Birmingham Mail reported that local politicians have launched a campaign to figure out what happened to Gurkiren and prevent it from happening to travelers in the future.
This story has been updated to fix a typo.
Another Headache for the Obamacare ‘Train Wreck’? Small Business Owners Sue IRS Over Employer MandatePosted May 15, 2013 at 4:30 pm by Becket Adams
Small business owners in six states are suing the federal government over an IRS regulation imposed under the Affordable Care Act (i.e. “Obamacare”) which, they say, will force them to pay hefty fines, cut their employees’ hours, or burden their businesses.
“Because of Obamacare I’ve already been forced to cut my ‘hourly’ employees’ hours from 40 down to 28 so I can keep running my business and keep my employees on the payroll,” J. Allen Tharp, CEO of Olde England’s Lion and Rose and a plaintiff in the suit, told TheBlaze.
“This law has already put my employees and me in a difficult position and if the IRS regulation is allowed to stand, I don’t want to think about what the consequences will be for the economy,” the statement adds.
Charles Willey, owner of Innovare Health Advocates in Missouri, added:
I will fight to provide health insurance for my employees but this illegal IRS rule makes it cost more and blocks healthy behavior incentives. I have over 50 employees and if I am forced to comply with this mandate, I am looking at over $100,000 in fines per year for my small business.
Here’s the background on the group’s case [from their press release]:
The Affordable Care Act authorizes health insurance subsidies to qualifying individuals in states that created their own healthcare exchanges. Those subsidies trigger the employer mandate (a $2,000/employee penalty) and expose more people to the individual mandate.
But last spring, without authorization from Congress, the IRS vastly expanded those subsidies to cover states that refused to set up such exchanges.
Under the Act, businesses in these nonparticipating states should be free of the employer mandate, and the scope of the individual mandate should be reduced as well. But because of the IRS rule, both mandates will be greatly enlarged in scope, depriving states of the power to protect their residents.
Michael Carvin, a partner at Jones Day who is representing the plaintiffs, vows to fight the IRS rule.
“The IRS rule we are challenging is at war with the Act’s plain language and completely rewrites the deal that Congress made with the states on running these insurance exchanges,” he said.
Sam Kazman, general counsel of the Competitive Enterprise Institute CEI (the group coordinating the lawsuit), pledges his support.
“Agencies are bound by the laws enacted by Congress,” said. “Obamacare is already an incredibly massive program. For the IRS to expand it even more, without congressional authorization and in a manner aimed at undercutting state choice, is flagrantly illegal.”
And there are many reasons why the plaintiffs decided to file suit:
One business can only afford to employ some full-time workers without providing health insurance, another wants to convert its employee health insurance to a completely consumer-driven health plan, and several individual plaintiffs (most of them self-employed) object to paying for costly insurance packages that they neither need nor want.
A total of 33 states have chosen not to create an exchange in order to avoid imposing the employer mandate on businesses. However, the IRS rule works against this.
“The IRS cannot rewrite the law that Congress passed,” said American Enterprise Institute’s Tom Miller. “Its regulation expressly flouts the statutory text of the ACA, the intent of Congress, and the reasoned choices of 33 states.”
“The Obama administration plans to tax, borrow, and spend more than half a trillion dollars in clear violation of Obamacare, yet still says Obamacare is ‘the law of the land,’” said Michael Cannon, director of health policy at the CATO Institute. “The courts should stop the administration before it starts imposing these illegal taxes on millions of individuals and employers in January.”
This legal complaint argues that the IRS has no legal authority to rewrite an “essential part of the law,” the group explains.
The suit is being filed in federal court in the District of Columbia.
You can read the full complaint here:
Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter
Featured image Getty Images.
Watch: Raving Egyptian Cleric Calls on Allah to ‘Annihilate’ the Jews & ‘Freeze the Blood in Their Veins’Posted May 15, 2013 at 3:40 pm by Erica Ritz
The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) has captured video from the Salafist Egyptian television channel Al-Hafez TV of an Egyptian cleric reportedly calling on Allah to torture and annihilate all the world’s Jews.
Ranting and raving into a microphone as the crowd bows its head in what appears to be either deference or praise, the cleric Sami Abu Al-’Ala says (translation via MEMRI):
Oh Allah, make the conspiracies of the Jews their own ruin. Oh Allah, crush their soldiers and their weapons, destroy their homes, freeze the blood in their veins, disperse them, make their children orphans and their women widows, and shake the earth under their feet! Oh Allah, annihilate the Jews as you annihilated the peoples of ‘Aad and Thamud. Oh Allah, make the Jews annihilate themselves.
Tensions between Egypt and Israel have escalated sharply since the so-called “Arab Spring” led to the installation of an Islamist government in Egypt.
Watch the complete video, below:
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UC Berkeley Professor Equates Boston Bombings With ‘Islamophobia’Posted May 15, 2013 at 3:32 pm by Tiffany Gabbay
While it is perhaps not shocking that a UC Berkeley professor would harbor leftist views, equating the Boston terrorist attacks with “Islamophobia” may be taking leftism one step beyond the realm of what many consider reasonable.
Take Professor Hatem Bazian, who has called for an “intifada” in the U.S. and participates in divestment campaigns against “Israeli apartheid.”
Now, rather than acknowledge that the Tsarnaev brothers were Muslims acting on behalf of Islam, and rather than call on Muslims around the U.S. to condemn the attacks and prevent further radicalization of Muslim youth, Bazian penned an article entitled, “Boston Bombing, Islamophobia and Sudden Ignorance Syndrome.”
In the piece, Dr. Bazian, Director of the Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project at UC Berkeley Center for Race and Gender, wrote:
Let me be absolutely clear. Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev committed horrific crimes, ones that took the lives of three individuals, shattered dozens, and left the City of Boston in fear. But the Islamophobic machine committed crimes against our collective consciousness by exploiting the suffering and pain of our fellow citizens. Their words became a powerful incendiary to inflame the minds of an already panicked people.
Admitting that a horrific terrorist attack which claimed the lives of three people and permanently disfigured dozens of others on one hand, and then following up that acknowledgement with a qualifying statement about ignorant Westerners’ “crimes” against a “collective consciousness” will not, for many, ring as a genuine display of bereavement on the professor’s part.
Gosnell Jurors Speak Out About Gruesome Abortion, Murder Case: ‘Somewhere, Something Went Wrong’ (Plus: He Gets Another Life Sentence)Posted May 15, 2013 at 2:55 pm by Billy Hallowell
PHILADELPHIA (TheBlaze/AP) – A Philadelphia abortion doctor was sentenced Wednesday to a third life term for killing an aborted baby that he described as so big it could “walk to the bus.” Jurors who convicted Dr. Kermit Gosnell of murder also spoke out for the first time, saying he perhaps started out with good intentions, but got greedy and lost his way.
Three jurors commented Wednesday after Kermit Gosnell was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences in the deaths of babies born alive and then killed at his rogue abortion clinic. Juror Sarah Glinski is a 23-year-old government public affairs specialist. She says “somewhere, something went wrong” with Gosnell.
The jurors expressed empathy for Gosnell’s untrained staff members, eight of whom pleaded guilty in the case.
Gosnell’s lawyer concedes that his client performed illegal third-term abortions for women who begged for help but says he never intended to kill babies born alive. Prosecutor Joanne Pescatore says the victim known as Baby A, which was nearly 30 weeks, will stay with her “forever.”
As TheBlaze reported earlier this week, Dr. Kermit Gosnell was convicted this week of first-degree murder in the deaths of three babies born alive at his rogue clinic, then stabbed with scissors. He was given two life sentences Tuesday in a deal with prosecutors that spared him a potential death sentence, and the third sentence was handed down Wednesday.
The sentences offer no chance at parole, meaning Gosnell, 72, will spend the rest of his life in prison. The case has made Gosnell a flashpoint in the nation’s bitter debate over legalized abortion.
Prosecutors argued that Gosnell savagely killed late-term babies born alive by severing their spines, and taught several staff members the technique. Nine former clinic workers were convicted in the case, and four others pleaded guilty to murder.
Despite the notoriety of the case, Gosnell has seemed oddly serene in court during the two-month trial, and apparently sees himself as a medical pioneer and tireless advocate for inner-city patients.
“I wanted to be an effective, positive force in the minority community,” Gosnell told The Philadelphia Daily News in a 2010 interview, when he predicted he would be “vindicated” of the allegations in a harrowing grand jury report. He chose not to address the judge during Wednesday’s sentencing.
But prosecutors said he grew increasingly reckless as he accumulated millions of dollars from his rogue clinic, which was described as a “pill mill” for addicts by day and an “abortion mill” by night.
The jury spent 10 days deliberating before finding that Gosnell had killed babies or had them killed. And the jury found him complicit in the death of the 41-year-old patient, a Virginia woman who was repeatedly sedated by his untrained medical assistants. He was also sentenced Wednesday to 2 1/2 to five years in her death.
Gosnell was also convicted of hundreds of abortion law violations for performing illegal, third-term abortions or failing to counsel women and teens. Gosnell was acquitted in the deaths of four other infants.
Prosecutors have declined to comment on the verdict, citing a gag order that was expected to be lifted Wednesday when Gosnell’s sentence is finalized.
Prosecutors had planned to seek the death penalty because Gosnell killed more than one person and his victims were especially vulnerable given their age. But Gosnell’s own advanced age had made it unlikely he would ever be executed before his appeals ran out.
Gosnell’s lawyer, Jack McMahon, said his client accepts the verdict and isn’t sorry he went to trial. He said Gosnell gave up a somewhat better deal early on but wanted to air the issues in court and is satisfied that he did so.
“He wanted this case aired out in a courtroom and it got aired out in a courtroom in a fair way. And now he’s accepting what will happen. He’s an intelligent guy,” said McMahon, who said Gosnell would now plead to federal drug charges that are still pending.
The sentencing deal, reached after hours of terse negotiations Tuesday, spares Gosnell’s family the task of pleading for his life in court, McMahon said. Gosnell has six children, the youngest of them a teenager born to his third wife, who has also pleaded guilty in the case.
“He’s a proud man. To bring his young family into court was something he did not want to do,” McMahon said.
A 2011 grand jury investigation into Gosnell’s alleged prescription drug trafficking led to the gruesome findings about his abortion clinic. During an FBI raid, authorities found 47 aborted fetuses stored in clinic freezers, jars of tiny severed feet, bloodstained furniture and dirty medical instruments, along with cats roaming the premises.
McMahon has argued that none of the fetuses was born alive and that any movements were posthumous twitching or spasms.
For more information about the victims, read our previous coverage.
Jewish Group: IRS Targeted Us Because ‘They Thought We Might Be Funding Terrorism’Posted May 15, 2013 at 2:40 pm by Erica Ritz
Soon after the Internal Revenue Service admitted it had been targeting conservative organizations applying for 501 (c) (4) status around the 2012 election — though it was later discovered it had been happening since at least 2010 — it was learned that Jewish groups had also faced similar scrutiny.
Now, we are learning that at least one group was told it was because of purported worries they were funding terrorism.
Z Street has been vocal about the treatment it received after battling with the IRS for years. It filed a lawsuit against the government entity in 2010 alleging viewpoint discrimination after applying for 501 (c) (3) status in 2009 (processed through the same office as 501 (c) (4)).
Lori Lowenthal Marcus, president of Z Street, appeared on “On the Record” with Greta Van Susteren Tuesday to explain the situation.
“After we filed our lawsuit, the IRS began having several different positions on why it was taking so long, one of which was because terrorism happens in Israel. Therefore, they had to look into our organization, because they thought we might be funding terrorism. We are a purely educational entity. We didn’t fund anybody; we barely funded ourselves!”
When Greta asked whether anyone in her group has been arrested for terrorism, whether their assets have ever been frozen in connection with terrorism, or whether the group has ever even been accused of promoting terrorist activity, the president incredulously replied, “No!”
If that’s not enough, the group only filed the suit after their lawyer was told by the IRS that groups connected to Israel receive special scrutiny, and that some are sent to a special unit to determine whether the organization’s positions contradict those of the administration’s.”
“At that point we knew that is classic viewpoint discrimination, and we had to [take] action,” she said.
Their group has still not been approved for the 501 (c) (3) status it applied for in 2009.
Watch the entire interview, below:
The POLITICO did some investigating on the matter, writing:
Legal filings show that the problems for Z Street — and apparently for other Israel-related groups — stemmed from an obscure unit in the Cincinnati IRS office: the “Touch and Go Group.” One of the so-called TAG Group’s duties was to weed out applications that might be coming from organizations which might be used to fund terrorism. In response to Z Street’s lawsuit, an IRS manager acknowledged that applications mentioning Israel were getting special attention. “Israel is one of many Middle Eastern countries that have a ‘higher risk of terrorism,’” wrote Jon Waddell, manager of the IRS’s Exempt Organizations Determinations Group. “A referral to TAG is appropriate whenever an application mentions providing resources to organizations in a country with a higher risk of terrorism.”
A spokesman for the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration declined to say Monday whether that office had reviewed the issue of scrutiny of Israel-related groups as part of the review of how the IRS handled political groups, or separately. “I don’t have any information for you one way or the other on that,” said the spokesman, David Barnes. [Emphasis added]
When Z Street went to court though, the government denied its views on Israel or the Obama administration had anything to do with why it was transferred to the TAG Group.
John Boehner on IRS: ‘Who’s Going to Jail Over This Scandal?Posted May 15, 2013 at 2:12 pm by Madeleine Morgenstern
House Speaker John Boehner made no secret about where he stands on the still-evolving scandal of the Internal Revenue Service targeting conservative groups: he wants those responsible behind bars.
“My question isn’t about who’s going to have to resign,” Boehner said during a news conference Wednesday. “My question is, who’s going to jail over this scandal?”
Watch Wednesday’s BlazeCast Rewind: Holder Under FirePosted May 15, 2013 at 1:53 pm by Scott Baker
This broadcast will begin at 2pm ET.
To join the chat — there is a button on the top right of the player window or you can hover your cursor over the player window for options.
To ask a question — click the button at the bottom. We’ll be able to display your question or comment in the player window!
And as always you can leave other comments in the regular comment section below!
Soundtrack For Scandals: Our Top 8 Songs About Lying (Suggest Your Favorite)Posted May 15, 2013 at 1:43 pm by Mike Opelka
Wednesday morning, Glenn Beck asked his radio audience for possible names for the basket of scandals facing the Obama administration (Benghazi, IRS Intimidation, AP Phone Records). Beck requested that Twitter users post their suggestions on the social media site using the hashtag #oscandalnames. The hashtag started trending worldwide almost immediately.
Several good names were posted online, but no official scandal name has been selected by Beck and his crew.
That idea sparked some on TheBlaze edit staff to wonder about a soundtrack for the scandals. A list of pop hits from the past was quickly assembled. We offer you the “top 8″ scandal songs and welcome your suggestions in the comments sections below.
Matter of Trust – Billy Joel
Policy of Truth – Depeche Mode
Little Lies – Fleetwood Mac
Liar – Three Dog Night
You Lie – The Band Perry
Private Eyes (They’re Watching You)- Hall & Oates
Would I Lie To You – Eurythmics
White Liar – Miranda Lambert
This is not complete. Please feel free to suggest songs to be added to our “Soundtrack for Scandals” in the comments section below.
Follow Mike Opelka on Twitter – @stuntbrain
Beck Ties Together Benghazi, IRS, & AP Scandals: ‘Fundamental Transformation’Posted May 15, 2013 at 1:32 pm by Erica Ritz
Glenn Beck began his radio show Wednesday putting the three scandals currently facing the Obama administration — Benghazi, the IRS targeting conservatives, and the Associated Press’ phone records being seized by the Department of Justice — in context.
Beck contends that more than just indicating the administration’s corruption, the three scandals are all part of a bigger goal to “fundamentally transform the United States of America,” in the words of President Obama.
And though the president has claimed there is no scandal surrounding Benghazi and that he was ignorant of the acts taken by the IRS and the DOJ, Beck didn’t buy it.
“It’s absolutely incomprehensible. There’s no way. There’s no way he didn’t know,” Beck said. “But I want to go back to the name of the scandals. We have Benghazi, IRS, and the AP. I tried to figure out what these things were really all about –in the end what do these three scandals have in common?”
“What they have in common is the arrogance of transforming the world,” Beck contended.
Beck began with Benghazi, focusing partly on reports that we were running guns to Syrian rebels.
“In Benghazi he was transforming the Middle East. He wanted to run guns, support the Muslim Brotherhood and Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia was the one who asked us to support the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria. So support the Muslim Brotherhood in the entire Middle East, run guns to the Muslim Brotherhood through Turkey into Syria and cede revolution, not just in Syria but all throughout the Middle East,” he began.
“This is the transformation of the Middle East. That’s his policy. He has allow a few coworkers to die on the list…Remember that. We have to come back to that. ‘If we just, if we have to allow a few coworkers to die, that’s okay.’ He’s also transforming the military and the State Department, the CIA, and the fundamental way that we have felt at least that we have run on general honesty and decency. We know that not everybody in the military is a good guy…but generally we have felt in the past that generally they’re trying to do the right thing and we’re not going to leave people on the battlefield. If it is worth doing, we do it right.”
Internal Revenue Service:
Beck argued that the IRS targeting conservative groups and pro-Israel organizations is about “transforming political consent” and stifling the First Amendment.
“He knows he can’t come out and say, ‘Hey, we’re going to have to shut down all political dissent. You can’t go out and protest, you can’t speak out against me, you can’t speak out against the government.’ He knows he can’t do that. They tried. Remember how much trouble [we had] trying to get everything locked down with Restoring Honor in Washington [with the Department of Justice]?…They made it almost impossible for us to do it. What were they doing? [That's] your right to freely assemble. Your right to address your grievances directly to government. Your right to come together and protest. That’s First Amendment. Trying to transform it.”
Beck noted that soon after the Benghazi attack President Obama said at the United Nations that people have asked him why we don’t just “ban” offensive videos, which he was at the time blaming for the attack.
“‘Let’s just ban free speech?’ Beck mocked. “Nobody would say that. [Obama's] saying what he’s thinking. And maybe his circle of friends, [but] you need a new circle of friends, Mr. President.”
“So the IRS is about transforming political dissent, first through nudge. ‘Read the Huffington Post. Read Al‑Jazeera.’ …Then he starts to shove you. And the shove is, ‘You speak out, I’m going to smear your reputation… [Then] shoot. This scandal is about shoot,” Beck said, paraphrasing: “I’m actually going to use the union thugs to beat you, and I’m also going to destroy your life and finance through the IRS. I will destroy you. I will bankrupt you.”
Beck contended that the Associated Press having two months of phone records secretly seized by the Department of Justice is “the final piece of transformation for the media.”
“They went to the AP and they said, ‘Tell us your source.’ …I want you to hear this fact clearly. This president has gone after and is prosecuting more whistleblowers than all of the other presidents combined in American history. By the way, he’s had five years,” Beck said. “Understand that’s during the Communist hunts. That’s during Vietnam. That includes all of World War II, all of World War I and Woodrow Wilson. That includes Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War. All other presidents combined. So he’s already done an effective job in shutting people up.”
Beck tied it to the recent story about the Saudi national once considered a “person of interest” in the Boston bombings.
“This is why when we come to you and we have one piece of paper for a 212(3)(B), this is why you can’t get more because these guys know they will go to jail for 20 years. They know their life will be destroyed. Their reputation will be destroyed; they’ll never work again. Their life will be destroyed. Financially they will turn them inside out,” Beck said. “And on top of that, we have other whistleblowers that won’t go on the record who have told us all kinds of things but won’t allow us to go on the record yet, won’t show us the actual pieces because they’re afraid for their life. Where did that come from? This president has prosecuted more whistleblowers than all other presidents combined. The president himself I believe said in 2006 or 7…Anybody who doesn’t agree with transparency, anybody who is involved in silencing people has something to hide. That’s President Barack Obama’s own words.”
“First you threaten the watchdogs. You tell the watchdogs, you shut up or you’re going to jail. And those who break through and show that they’re brave enough, you have to show them how aggressive you’re willing to get,” Beck summarized. “You have to show them, ‘I’m going to go around the Constitution because I have that kind of power. I’m not afraid. The press is more on my side than your side. They’ll shut up and so I will go after and I will find you!’”
“At the same time they’re threatening reporters by showing the reporters, they have 20 phone lines. All of the reporters know ‘The government knows who I have talked to, the government knows when I talk to them,’” he concluded. “I can guarantee you there’s a lot of reporters that were on those phone lines talking to sources that are now going, ‘Oh, crap.’ It’s complete.”
“This is the last part of the fundamental transformation. What do all of these have in common?” Beck asked. “Transformation: Transform the Middle East, transform the First Amendment, and transform the media and the watchdogs. [The] fundamental transformation of the United States of America.”
Watch Beck’s entire explanation, below:
Holder ‘Not Sure’ How Often Media Phone Records Are Obtained But ‘Takes Them Very Seriously’Posted May 15, 2013 at 1:10 pm by Liz Klimas
Attorney General Eric Holder might not have been the one to sign off on the subpoena that allowed two months of Associated Press reporters’ and editors’ phone records to be obtained, but he has authorized similar subpoenas in the past.
Speaking with NRP’s Carrie Johnson on Morning Edition, Holder couldn’t say just how often this happens though.
“I’m not sure how many of those cases … I have actually signed off on,” Holder said. “I take them very seriously. I know that I have refused to sign a few [and] pushed a few back for modifications.”
TheBlaze pointed out that according to the DOJ’s U.S. Attorneys’ Manual, Holder’s signature would generally be required for the “issuance of any subpoena to a member of the news media or for the telephone toll records of a member of the news media.” In the case of the leak for which the Associated Press was being investigated, Holder said he wasn’t involved as he had recused himself of the case in order to avoid a conflict of interest.
At a press conference Tuesday, Holder was asked if the phone records of other news organizations were obtained during the investigation. Holder said he couldn’t answer that as he wasn’t sure since he had been recused.
News organizations through the Reporters Committee for Freedom of Press sent a letter to Holder Tuesday asking that the department “return the telephone toll records obtained and destroy all copies” and “announce whether it has served any other pending news media-related subpoenas that have not yet been disclosed,” among other requests.
(H/T: Huffington Post)
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