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  • Alabama’s Chief Justice Orders State Judges Not to Issue Same-Sex Marriage Licenses
    Posted January 6, 2016 at 4:57 pm by Carly Hoilman

    Comments (247)

    Alabama’s chief justice ordered Wednesday that state judges not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, a move that would defy the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling last year that legalized gay marriage nationwide.

    Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore said that until conflicting rulings are resolved a former ruling to uphold the state’s gay marriage ban would remain operative.

    “Until further decision by the Alabama Supreme Court, the existing orders of the Alabama Supreme Court that Alabama probate judges have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage license contrary to the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment or the Alabama Marriage Protection Act remain in full force and effect,” Moore wrote.

     Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore (Gary Tramontina/Getty Images)

    Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore (Gary Tramontina/Getty Images)

    Moore administered a similar resolution last year. In Wednesday’s decision, he said that even though the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision rendered anti-gay marriage laws invalid, “confusion and uncertainty exist among the probate judges of this State as to the effect” on existing orders in Alabama.

    Moore is the founder of the Foundation for Moral Law, an Alabama-based nonprofit organization whose aim is to restore “the knowledge of God in law and government and to acknowledge and defend the truth that man is endowed with rights, not by our fellow man, but by God.” In the past, the organization has expressed its support for Kentucky legal clerk Kim Davis, who refused to administer licenses to same-sex couples.

    “Many probate judges are issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in accordance with Obergefell; others are issuing marriage licenses only to couples of the opposite gender or have ceased issuing all marriage licenses,” he wrote.

    Moore said a broader issue remains before the Alabama Supreme Court, “which continues to deliberate on the matter.”

  • First-Grader Thought He Had ‘Seven More Wake-Ups’ Before Dad Came Home From Deployment — Until the ‘Best Happy Surprise Ever’
    Posted January 6, 2016 at 4:47 pm by Kate Scanlon

    Comments (16)

    Declan Osborne, a first-grader in Pembroke, New Hampshire, thought he had “seven more wake-ups” until his father, Sgt. Dana Osborne, returned from his National Guard deployment.

    But Osborne returned earlier than his son expected and organized a surprise reunion with the help of his teacher at Pembroke Village School.

    Declan and Dana Osborne are reunited after Sgt. Osborne’s 11-month deployment. Image source: WMUR-TV.

    Declan and Dana Osborne are reunited after Sgt. Osborne’s 11-month deployment. (Image source: WMUR-TV)

    “I think he’s going to probably yell and, hopefully, hug me,” Osborne told WMUR-TV prior to seeing his son. “The school here has been very supportive of my deployment and with Declan and stuff, so we thought it would be a great idea to do it here.”

    Declan’s teacher told the class that the news team was there to read to them.

    But then Osborne walked into the classroom.

    “Hi, Bug. You want to give me a hug?” Osborne said. “Oh, I missed you.”

    “Do you have any words in your heart to describe how you’re feeling?” Declan’s teacher asked him.

    “Good,” he replied.

    “Are you surprised? Is this the best happy surprise ever?” she asked.

    Declan could only nod.

    Declan and Dana Osborne are reunited after Sgt. Osborne’s 11-month deployment. Image source: WMUR-TV.

    Declan and Dana Osborne are reunited after Sgt. Osborne’s 11-month deployment. (Image source: WMUR-TV)

    “He’s much taller, much more grown up,” Osborne said before helping his son skip out of class early. “Still handsome, though.”

    According to WMUR, this was Osborne’s third deployment, and he had been gone for 11 months.

  • Liberty University Alum ‘Disappointed’ Donald Trump Will Speak at School: Trump Only ‘Claims to Be a Christian’
    Posted January 6, 2016 at 4:35 pm by Kaitlyn Schallhorn

    Comments (142)

    GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump should not have been invited to speak at Liberty University, because, according to a three-time alumnus of the Christian university, Trump’s profession of faith is not believable.

    In a public Facebook post, Joel Ready said that while he normally encourages his alma mater to invite those with “diverse points of” conversation to the school’s mandatory convocation — such as Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — he is “deeply disappointed” that Trump is scheduled to speak Jan. 18.

    “The difference with Trump is that he claims to share our values, and even claims to be a Christian,” Ready said, citing 1 Corinthians 5:9-13, a Biblical passage in which the apostle Paul admonished against “associating anyone who claims to be a brother or sister” of faith but does not actually act as one.

    Donald Trump, president and chief executive of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, holds up a Bible while speaking at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Sept. 25, 2015. The annual event, organized by the Family Research Council, gives presidential contenders a chance to address a conservative Christian audience in the crowded Republican primary contest. Photographer: Drew Angerer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

    GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump holds up a Bible while speaking at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., Sept. 25, 2015. (Drew Angerer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

    “Trump is the grotesque personification of everything that is wrong with American political discourse, and his repeated claims that he is a Christian should disqualify him from speaking at Liberty,” Ready said. “I wish I believed that Liberty would make an effort to engage him on his contradictory stances, his recent financial and political support of Planned Parenthood, his unapologetic serial monogamy, how he built much of his fortune by preying on the addictions of the weak in his casinos or perhaps his godless views that he shared so gleefully the last time he was at Liberty to speak.”

    Trump has said he is a Presbyterian.

    According to McClatchy, Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. and his wife have been in “close contact” with the bombastic business mogul since he last spoke at the venerable Christian university in 2012. Falwell said Trump also called him after the university president appeared on Fox News’ “Hannity” when he defended his call for more concealed carry permits in the wake of the San Bernardino attacks.

    During that segment, Falwell said his three favorite presidential candidates were Trump, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

    Read Ready’s post, which has been gaining traction on social media, in full below.

    I'm deeply disappointed to hear that Liberty University has invited Donald Trump to speak at convocation. Don't get me…

    Posted by Joel Ready on Tuesday, January 5, 2016

  • Report: U.S. Officials Seek U.N. Security Council ‘Resolution With Teeth,’ Imposing New Sanctions on N. Korea
    Posted January 6, 2016 at 4:24 pm by Chris Enloe

    Comments (26)

    The United States plans to seek a United Nations Security Council resolution imposing new sanctions on North Korea, following their unconfirmed test of a hydrogen bomb Tuesday.

    According to one official who spoke to CNN, the resolution will be “fairly substantial.”

    “This is very concerning behavior, and we can’t just issue some statement condemning it,” the official added. “It has to be a resolution with teeth.”

    Ban Ki-moon makes comments to the media on the situation in North Korea, Jan. 6, 2016. (Getty Images/Spencer Platt)

    Ban Ki-moon makes comments to the media on the situation in North Korea Jan. 6. (Getty Images/Spencer Platt)

    In addition, the U.S. plans to urge China, North Korea’s biggest ally, to support the actions taken by the U.N.

    Getting China to play along won’t be difficult, according to another U.S. official, since Pyongyang didn’t notify China of its intentions to test a bomb.

    “The fact the North Koreans did this without giving China warning should be very concerning to Beijing,” the official said. “It means we are dealing with a much more unpredictable leader. We are hoping this will energize the Chinese, not just to be helpful in New York but also with unilateral sanctions and pressure.”

    The sanctions would be the fifth round imposed on North Korea since the country’s first nuclear test in 2006. The sanctions are aimed at reining in the regime’s nuclear and missile development, but Pyongyang has ignored them and moved ahead with programs to modernize its ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons.

    The Security Council held an emergency meeting after North Korea announced its first hydrogen bomb test, which would mark a major advance for its still-limited nuclear arsenal. The announcement was met with skepticism, however, with South Korea’s spy agency saying the estimated explosive yield from the explosion was much smaller than what even a failed H-bomb detonation would produce.

    The Security Council said North Korea’s actions were a “clear violation” of the four previous sanctions resolutions “and therefore a clear threat to international peace and security continues to exist.”

    U.N. diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because talks have been private, said a new resolution would aim to add more people to the sanctions list, including those linked to a key procurement company, and limit the travel of senior North Korean officials.

    However, the toughness of the new sanctions will depend on China and their willingness to punish the North Korean regime.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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  • Newsweek ‘Senior Writer’ Deletes Tweet Comparing Ted Cruz to Hitler. If You’re Guessing That He Apologizes, You’re Wrong
    Posted January 6, 2016 at 4:18 pm by Jon Street

    Comments (114)

    Newsweek senior writer Alexander Nazaryan took to Twitter to compare Texas Sen. Ted Cruz to Adolf Hitler — and that went over just about as well as you would expect.

    “Ted Cruz has a strong ground game in Iowa,” Nazaryan tweeted early Wednesday, along with a black-and-white picture showing Nazi soldiers carrying flags with swastikas.

    Image source: Twitter

    Image source: Twitter

    The late-night tweet unleashed a fury of backlash several hours later.

    Acknowledging the avalanche of negativity, Nazaryan later deleted the tweet — but stopped short of an apology.

    “I deleted my tweet calling Ted Cruz a Nazi. Not fair to his totally decent supporters, as much as I dislike the man himself,” Nazaryan said in a separate tweet.

    Newsweek Editor-in-Chief Jim Impoco responded to the tweet in a statement, expressing “disappointment.”

    “I apologize for any doubt that this might have cast on Newsweek’s editorial integrity or credibility. We’ve addressed the situation with Alexander and the rest of the staff and will be reviewing and reiterating our social media policy in coming days,” Impoco said.

    On its website, Newsweek calls itself “a premier news magazine and website, bringing high-quality journalism to readers around the globe for over 80 years.”

    IBT Media, which is the parent company of Newsweek, states on its website that business, financial and economic writers should “avoid any practice which might compromise or appear to compromise his objectivity or fairness.”

    “It is imperative to the integrity and success of IBT Media that editorial and content contributors uphold the highest ethical and professional standards of journalism,” the website states.

    (H/T: Twitchy)

    This post has been updated to include a statement from Newsweek Editor-in-Chief Jim Impoco.

  • Center for Medical Progress Releases Recap Video Ahead of Planned Parenthood Funding Vote
    Posted January 6, 2016 at 4:12 pm by Kate Scanlon

    Comments (40)

    The Center for Medical Progress released a video that recaps their findings ahead of Wednesday’s scheduled House vote on a reconciliation bill that would defund Planned Parenthood.

    The video, titled “‘PROFIT’ — Planned Parenthood’s Illicit Moneymaking From Baby Body Parts,” is a compilation of videos of Planned Parenthood executives appearing to discuss the sale of aborted fetal body parts.

    The bill would also repeal Obamacare.

    President Barack Obama has vowed to veto any bill that reaches his desk that would defund Planned Parenthood.

    The pro-life group has released a series of videos that showed Planned Parenthood officials appearing to discuss the trafficking of aborted fetal body parts.

    Profiting from the sale of human organs, including fetal human organs, is illegal in the United States. Representatives for Planned Parenthood have denied wrongdoing.

    The videos have resulted in several state and congressional investigations into Planned Parenthood’s business practices, as well as calls for the nation’s largest abortion provider to lose its taxpayer funding.

    “The undercover footage released in the past half-year by The Center for Medical Progress shows medical directors and executives from the top leadership of Planned Parenthood admitting the abortion business trades baby body parts for money and indicating the profit motive undergirding these illicit sales,” David Daleiden, the founder of the Center for Medical Progress, said in a statement. “To date, Planned Parenthood has offered no convincing explanation for the money that has poured into its affiliates from fetal tissue procurement companies like StemExpress, which performs the work of fetal tissue collection yet still pays abortion clinics per harvested part.”

    “Planned Parenthood’s recent assurances that it has ceased accepting payment for fetal tissue are an admission of guilt and a last-ditch effort to avoid scrutiny for these indefensible transactions,” Daleiden continued. “As Congress, the Health and Human Services Department, and numerous state and local law enforcement agencies continue to investigate Planned Parenthood’s barbaric abortion and baby body parts business, this footage is a clear reminder of why there is a broad public mandate for the investigations to continue and for public money to be reassigned from Planned Parenthood to ethical, mainstream medical organizations.”

    According to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the bill marks “the first time ever” Congress will “send a bill repealing Obamacare and defunding Planned Parenthood to the president.”

    Ryan told Fox News’ Sean Hannity Tuesday night in an interview that defunding Planned Parenthood “is a very high priority of ours.”

    “We could never get through the Senate filibuster. We used the one rule — the one tool we have a year, we call this reconciliation — so we can get around the Senate filibuster to get a bill on his desk defunding Obamacare and Planned Parenthood,” Ryan said.

    “How many times have we said we want to put bills on his desk that say who we are, what we believe versus what he believes?” Ryan added. “This is the first time we’ve been able to get on his desk a bill going after Obamacare and Planned Parenthood.”

  • Why Did YouTube Shut Down One of the Most Popular Gun Channels?
    Posted January 6, 2016 at 3:48 pm by Kathryn Blackhurst

    Comments (165)

    Hickok45′s fans and subscribers were shocked to discover when they logged onto YouTube Wednesday morning that the popular firearm-toting channel had been shut down for “repeated violations of Google’s policies.”

    The YouTube channel features segments following “Hickok45″ as he shoots from a vast array of firearms on his homemade range, according to Guns.com. At the time of the channel’s abrupt termination, Hickok45 had amassed nearly 2 million subscribers, the Tribunist reported.

    After he discovered the channel’s mysterious shut-down, Hickok45′s Facebook page released this statement:

    Apparently, Google + is more sensitive about firearms related postings and such. I never use Google+ and did not even realize the videos were being posted over there, I guess. I will keep you posted via Facebook here and the Hickok45andson channel. I have communicated with YouTube via email this morning, and hopefully, we’ll be able to get the channel back up soon. I had just posted a new video.

    ALSO: please stay tuned here and at the Hickok45andson channel on YouTube for any information. I cannot answer all the questions, of course, that are flowing in. I’ll just have to keep you updated here as we know anything. Appreciate all the expressions of support. Thanks.

    More than 11,000 supporters have “liked” this status thus far, and over 2,000 commenters expressed their outrage and offered their support for Hickok45.

    “I went to YouTube and chose the option to send feed back, telling them to bring Hickock45 back. It’s not much, but if enough of us do it, it might help,” wrote one supporter.

    Another wrote, “Your channel represents the best of YouTube and Firearms. Always informative, fun, friendly, with an emphasis on safety. Unbelievable that they took down your channel. I bought one of my first handguns after watching your video on the Ruger SR9. Hope it’s back up again soon.”

    One frustrated commenter said, “I’m sick and tired of companies being ‘sensitive’ about gun topics. Facebook (advertising), Microsoft, Google, everyone is ‘Sensitive’ about our 2nd amendment rights while themselves leaning heavily on the 1st amendment.”

    The channel has since been reinstalled after fervent protests.

    We're BACK! It was a long scary morning. I really don't know what I'd do if I were not able to inflict lame humor upon…

    Posted by Hickok45 on Wednesday, January 6, 2016

    Part of YouTube’s reason for taking down the channel may have been due to its prohibited weapon-related content policy, which states:

    Google ads are not permitted to appear on sites that sell, facilitate or advocate the sales of weapons and weapon accessories. This includes but is not limited to the sales of ammunition, gun parts, hardware, pistols, rifles, BB guns, sporting guns, air guns, blow guns, and stun guns. This policy also prohibits the placement of ads on sites which sell explosives, including fireworks.

    This story has been updated.

    Follow Kathryn Blackhurst (@kablackhurst) on Twitter.

  • Glenn Beck: Rick Santorum’s ‘Ridiculous’ Attacks on Ted Cruz Are ‘Not Going to Work’
    Posted January 6, 2016 at 3:26 pm by Tré Goins-Phillips

    Comments (39)

    Glenn Beck took to radio Wednesday morning to chastise Republican presidential contender former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.) for going after GOP rival Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas), calling Santorum’s attacks “ridiculous” and “so far beneath” him.

    “It’s just ridiculous, this hail Mary pass that he is doing. And he’s in bed with Mike Huckabee and Marco Rubio to try to take apart Cruz,” Beck said on The Glenn Beck Radio Program. “And, Rick, it’s not going to work for you. It’s just not going to work.”

    Glenn Beck (Image source: TheBlaze TV)

    Image source: TheBlaze TV

    Beck went after Santorum’s comments after hearing audio from an exclusive interview the former senator gave TheBlaze’s Josiah Ryan. During the interview, Santorum said that Cruz’s famous filibuster against the Affordable Care Act was “a failure,” adding that the move was “for his own personal aggrandizement” and “emblematic of someone who is out promoting himself.”

    Cruz’s well-known 2013 filibuster is the centerpiece of Santorum’s first attack ad, which is currently airing in Iowa just weeks ahead of the state’s first-in-the-nation presidential caucus on Feb. 1.

    “You want someone to read one hell of a bedtime story, Ted Cruz is your guy. If you want to protect America and defeat ISIS, Rick Santorum’s your president, because serious times need serious people,” the ad says.

    It is, however, worth noting that in 2013, at the same time as Cruz’s anti-Obamacare speech on the Senate floor during which he read from the children’s classic “Green Eggs and Ham,” Santorum said, if he were still in the Senate, “I would be with Ted Cruz.”

    According to Beck, Santorum’s line of attack aimed at Cruz, who is currently leading the polls in Iowa, won’t work because “this is not the way Americans see — conservatives see — Ted Cruz.” Beck went on to compare Santorum’s words to “everything we have heard from the left and the establishment on the right.”

    “That is Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell and MSNBC,” the radio host said.

    “Maybe it’s only me that remembers this conversation that we had on the air, exactly this, except it wasn’t Rick Santorum — it was Mitch McConnell who was saying these things,” Beck later added.

    Santorum is currently polling at 1 percent in Nevada and less than 1 percent nationally and in Iowa.

    Complimentary Clip from TheBlaze TV

    The full episode of The Glenn Beck Program, along with many other live-streaming shows and thousands of hours of on-demand content, is available on just about any digital device. Click here to watch every Glenn Beck episode from the past 30 days for just $1!

  • Experts Agree: Trump Is Wrong, Ted Cruz Is Eligible for the White House
    Posted January 6, 2016 at 3:17 pm by Chris Enloe

    Comments (140)

    According to constitutional scholars, Donald Trump is wrong: Ted Cruz’s Canadian birth will not prove to be an impediment for him or the Republican Party in 2016.

    Those who say the Texas senator is not eligible to be president typically make their case by arguing that because he was born in Canada he is not a “natural born citizen,” which is a constitutional requirement for anyone seeking the presidency.

    Ted Cruz visits King's Christian Bookstore, Jan. 4, 2016. (Getty Images/Aaron P. Bernstein)

    Ted Cruz visits King’s Christian Bookstore Jan. 4. (Getty Images/Aaron P. Bernstein)

    However, because Cruz’s mother, Eleanor, was a United States citizen at the time of his birth, experts largely agree that Cruz is, indeed, a natural born citizen. Cruz, prior to the run-up to his presidential bid, even renounced his dual-citizenship with Canada in 2014.

    Further, because Cruz never had to petition the U.S. government for citizenship, he is most certainly considered a natural born U.S. citizen. Any citizen who is not a naturalized citizen — meaning they had to earn their citizenship — then they are a natural born citizen.

    Two former U.S. solicitors general, Neal Katyal and Paul Clement, who are experts in this field, laid out the legal case in the Harvard Law Review last March. They said:

    Despite the happenstance of a birth across the border, there is no question that Senator Cruz has been a citizen from birth and is thus a “natural born Citizen” within the meaning of the Constitution. Indeed, because his father had also been resident in the United States, Senator Cruz would have been a “natural born Citizen” even under the Naturalization Act of 1790.

    Moreover, Sarah Duggan a law professor and director of the Law and Public Policy Program for the Columbus School of Law at the Catholic University of America, reaffirmed the legal standing for Cruz’s eligibility in a 2013 piece for Constitution Daily:

    A scholarly consensus is emerging, however, that anyone who acquires citizenship at birth is natural born for purposes of Article II.

    This consensus rests on firm foundations. First, given Jay’s letter and the language of the 1790 naturalization act, it seems evident that the framers were worried about foreign princes, not children born to American citizens living abroad. Second, the 14-year residency requirement Article II also imposes as a presidential prerequisite ensures that, regardless of their place of birth, would-be presidents must spend a significant time living in the United States before they can run for office.

    Finally, the natural born citizenship clause is both an anomaly and an anachronism. The way in which the clause differentiates among United States citizens is contrary to the overall spirit of the Constitution; the risk that foreign nobility will infiltrate our government is long past; and place of birth is a poor surrogate for loyalty to one’s homeland in our increasingly mobile society and our ever more interconnected world.

    Republican front-runner Donald Trump reintroduced the issue of Cruz’s presidential eligibility Tuesday during an interview with the Washington Post.

    “It’d be a very precarious one for Republicans because he’d be running and the courts may take a long time to make a decision,” Trump said of Cruz, noting that Cruz wouldn’t want that “hanging over his head.”

    Despite the overall consensus being that Cruz meets every requirement to be president, because a modern president has never been born outside of a U.S. territory, Trump may have a point: If Cruz does go on to win the Republican nomination and the general election, he will likely face a lawsuit from a dissenter who claims that he is not eligible.

    However, in this scenario, a decision from a federal court, likely the Supreme Court, would not take a “long time” as Trump suggests, since the high court would likely take jurisdiction over the case.

    It appears that, at least constitutionally, Cruz has no roadblocks on his journey to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.


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  • Glenn Beck: There Is ‘No Difference’ Between Progressives and Socialists
    Posted January 6, 2016 at 3:01 pm by Tré Goins-Phillips

    Comments (58)

    Are political progressivism and socialism the same thing? According to Glenn Beck, the answer to that question is yes. In fact, the radio host said Wednesday that there is “no difference” between the two.

    Glenn Beck (Image source: TheBlaze TV)

    Image source: TheBlaze TV

    “There is no difference between a progressive and a socialist,” Beck said on The Glenn Beck Radio Program. “Anybody who tells you differently is lying to you.”

    Beck’s comments came as he and radio co-hosts Pat Gray and Stu Burguiere discussed Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton’s apparent dodging of a question from MSNBC’s Chris Matthews on the difference between a Democrat and a socialist.

    Rather than answer the question directly, Clinton sidestepped Matthews’ inquiry, saying she is a “progressive Democrat” who “likes to get things done.”

    Beck ultimately took his comments a step further, asserting that progressives like Clinton and President Barack Obama are “communists with patience,” adding that the reason Obama outlined executive action on gun control is because he knows Clinton — should she be elected president — will expand his progressive action.

    “It’s why Barack Obama signed in gun control yesterday in his executive order because he knows, if Hillary Clinton gets in, she’ll leave that in and build on top of it even more gun control — it’s progressive,” Beck said.

    The radio host added that Democrats will take “little, teeny steps to get you where you want to go” in order to enact more progressive policies.

    Complimentary Clip from TheBlaze TV

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  • Former Gov. Gary Johnson Launches Libertarian Bid for President
    Posted January 6, 2016 at 2:49 pm by Kate Scanlon

    Comments (75)

    Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson announced his candidacy for president Wednesday during an interview with Neil Cavuto.

    “I am announcing my candidacy right now for the Libertarian nomination,” Johnson said. “I do believe that crony capitalism is alive and well. It’s Democrats and Republicans that contribute to that. I’d like to be that choice that is not going to succumb to that.”

    Johnson ran for president as a Libertarian in 2012. He served two terms as a Republican governor of New Mexico from 1995 to 2003.

    Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson. (Getty Images)

    Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson. (Getty Images)

    According to the Washington Post, during his 2012 campaign, Johnson received 1,275,923 votes, “the highest overall vote total in the party’s 40-year history.”

    After his 2012 candidacy, he became the CEO of Cannabis Sativa Inc., a company that seeks to “brand and market the highest quality, legal cannabis products available today.”

    Johnson has resigned from that position in favor of a presidential bid.

  • German Mayor Lambasted Over So-Called ‘Code of Conduct’ in Wake of Mass Sex Assault in Cologne
    Posted January 6, 2016 at 2:34 pm by Carly Hoilman

    Comments (86)

    People around the world remain in shock after more than a thousand men “of Arab or North African appearance” stormed Cologne, Germany on New Year’s Eve, robbing and sexually assaulting female revelers.

    Cologne Mayor Henriette Reker held a press conference Wednesday during which a journalist asked her how women could protect themselves in these situations.

    “There’s always the possibility of keeping a certain distance of more than an arm’s length—that is to say to make sure yourself you don’t look to be too close to people who are not known to you, and to whom you don’t have a trusting relationship,” the mayor said, suggesting that there is a certain “code of conduct” women ought to follow.

    Journalists attending the press conference said that Reker had reacted with surprise to the question and that her peculiar answer was indicative of her bewilderment, according to the Guardian.

    Reker also suggested that women “stick together in groups, don’t get split up, even if you’re in a party mood.”

    The mayor’s comments were met with pitiless backlash on social media, with angered reactions trending under #einarmlaenge (an arm’s length):

    The recent assaults have occupied German mainstream media ever since the newspaper Der Spiegel released an initial report Tuesday. As of Wednesday, over 100 criminal complaints of various sexual assaults, robberies and at least one rape had been reported to the police in Cologne.

    An 18-year-old German girl who witnessed the attack described to a local TV station the terror she experienced. After being aggressively groped and robbed by a group of angry and seemingly organized foreign men, she and her friends looked for police, but none could be found.

    Next month, Cologne will celebrate carnival season, an outdoor celebration that typically attracts thousands. The police, who have admitted major errors in the way they managed the “intolerable situation” in Cologne, have vowed to modify the way they monitor future celebrations, including introducing more mobile video cameras.

  • Washington State Has Forced This Pharmacy to Dispense Abortion-Inducing Drugs — Now, They’ve Asked the Supreme Court to Hear Their Case
    Posted January 6, 2016 at 2:16 pm by Kate Scanlon

    Comments (128)

    A family-owned pharmacy in Washington state is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on a regulation that forces the business to provide a drug they say is contrary to their religious beliefs.

    The owners of Stormans, Inc., which operates Ralph’s Thriftway, a grocery store in Olympia, as well as two pharmacists, Margo Thelen and Rhonda Mesler, who work elsewhere, believe dispensing the morning-after pill is a violation of their Christian faith.

    Storman’s Inc., has asked the supreme Court to hear their case regarding regulations in Washington state which force them to dispense abortion-inducing drugs. Image source: Alliance Defending Freedom.

    Storman’s, Inc. has asked the Supreme Court to hear their case regarding regulations in Washington state that force pharmacies to dispense abortion-inducing drugs. (Image source: Alliance Defending Freedom)

    They have chosen to refer customers to other pharmacies rather than dispense emergency contraception drugs, including Plan B and Ella, because they believe that, if conception has occurred, the drugs are abortion-inducing, and they cannot distribute them in good conscience.

    Several years ago, Washington state imposed regulations that force pharmacies to dispense the drugs.

    The Stormans, Thelen and Mesler all fought the regulations in court, and in 2012, a federal court ruled in their favor. However, the ruling was overturned last year.

    Now, the pharmacists are asking the Supreme Court to hear their case.

    Alliance Defending Freedom, a law firm that represents clients facing religious liberty cases, has filed petition for a writ of certiorari, requesting that the Supreme Court reviews the case.

    According to ADF, “the two drugs are widely available in Washington state, including at more than 30 pharmacies within a five-mile radius of Ralph’s Thriftway.”

    “No one should be forced to choose between their religious convictions and their family businesses and livelihoods, particularly when the state allows referrals for just about any other reason,” Kristen Waggoner, ADF senior vice president of legal services, said in a statement.

    A spokesperson for ADF told TheBlaze that Washington state permits drug referrals because:

    • the pharmacy doesn’t keep the drug in stock due to insufficient demand;
    • the pharmacy doesn’t keep the drug in stock due to the drug’s short self life;
    • the drug is not profitable, has low reimbursement rates or presents other administrative challenges;
    • the drug falls outside the pharmacy’s chosen business niche;
    • the pharmacy doesn’t want to obtain the specialized equipment or expertise necessary to dispense the drug;
    • the drug requires extra recordkeeping (such as Sudafed); or
    • they are afraid keeping the drug in stock would attract crime (such as Oxycontin).

    But the state specifically prohibits referrals based on religious beliefs.

    However, Washington state does allow pharmacists to decline to provide the drugs necessary for a physician-assisted suicide based on conscience. And according to ADF, the other 49 states permit pharmacists to refer their clients over matters of conscience or religious beliefs.

    Former Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire (D), who oversaw the implementation of the regulations, has personally boycotted Ralph’s over their refusal to disperse the drug.

    ADF attorneys are lead counsel for the pharmacy and the two pharmacists in the case, Stormans v. Wiesman. Attorneys with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and Ellis, Li & McKinstry PLLC are assisting as co-counsel.

  • O’Malley Camp Says DNC Chair Is Making ‘Huge Mistake’ on Democratic Debates
    Posted January 6, 2016 at 1:53 pm by Kaitlyn Schallhorn

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    Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz has made a “huge mistake” by limiting debate among the 2016 Democratic presidential hopefuls, according to one of the three remaining candidates.

    Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) has consistently vocalized his criticism of how Shultz has handled the 2016 Democratic primary — particularly the lackluster and limited debates. With the NH1 News forum less than a month a way, an event the O’Malley camp is attempting to turn into a debate, the campaign is attempting to rope fellow Democratic candidate Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders into the fight.

    ABC NEWS - 12/19/15 - ABC News coverage of the Democratic Presidential debate from St. Anselm College in Manchester, NH, airing Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015 on the ABC Television Network and all ABC News platforms. (Photo by Ida Mae Astute/ABC via Getty Images)

    Democratic presidential candidate former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley at the ABC News Democratic presidential debate at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire. (Ida Mae Astute/ABC via Getty Images)

    Matthew Sheaff, O’Malley’s deputy state director in New Hampshire, told TheBlaze that while Wasserman Shultz has said she won’t budge on her decision not to add any more debates, including in the Granite State, the campaign wants to hold Sanders accountable. Sanders, too, has called for more debates and asserted that if Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton were the one calling for more debates, the DNC would oblige.

    Sheaff said that O’Malley’s campaign has sent emails to the Sanders camp to ask for help in bringing about more debates — but to no avail.

    “Sen. Sanders won’t commit to changing the forum into a debate. He says there should be more debates, but we’re continuing to push because we think it’s the right thing to do,” Sheaff told TheBlaze.

    While the campaign tries to force Sanders’ hand, it’s the DNC chairwoman who is on the receiving end of most of the criticism, since, according to O’Malley’s campaign, her unwavering stance against more debates isn’t in response to what the party’s voters wants — it’s to protect Clinton.

    “In my opinion, and in O’Malley’s, too, I believe that she thought it was in the best interest of the Democratic Party to try to help Secretary Clinton and limit debate and limit the opportunities for national exposure for the other candidates,” Sheaff said. 

    “The debate process is so important for voters here in New Hampshire, because they want the candidates side-by-side, and they feel that it’s kind of a first-in-the-nation primary tradition,” he continued.

    “You see that the supporters of Secretary Clinton and Sanders and our supporters,” Sheaff added, “they just respect the primary tradition and do what they’ve always done.”

    Viewership for the Democratic debates has been dismal, as only 8.5 million people tuned in to view the Saturday night CBS debate in November and 6.7 million people watched the Saturday ABC debate in December — held the weekend before Christmas.

    In comparison, 18 million people watched the CNN GOP presidential debate held in December on a weeknight.

    “I think it was a huge mistake,” Sheaff said. “President Obama has done amazing things and made a lot of progress, and I think it’s our responsibility as Democrats to promote his progress, defend his record and talk about how we’re going to build off it. When we’re ceding the television airwaves to the Republicans who just constantly slam him, it’s a huge mistake.”

    Progressive group Roots Action seems to agree with Sheaff’s contention that Wasserman Shultz has made a “huge mistake.” According to a petition on its website, more than 26,000 people have signed their names to call for the removal of the DNC chair.

  • WH: North Korea Claims of Successful Hydrogen Bomb Test ‘Inconsistent’ With Analysis
    Posted January 6, 2016 at 1:46 pm by Jon Street

    Comments (67)

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House says the U.S. government’s early analysis of underground activity in North Korea “is not consistent” with that country’s claim of having conducted a successful hydrogen bomb test.

    Spokesman Josh Earnest also says nothing has happened to change the U.S. government’s assessment of North Korea’s technical or military capabilities.

    He says the U.S. government is still doing the work that’s needed to learn more about the nuclear test North Korea claims to have conducted successfully on Wednesday.

    Pyongyang’s announcement of a successful hydrogen bomb test would mark a major and unanticipated advance for its still-limited nuclear arsenal.

  • N.J. Town Residents Demand Donor Remove Superstorm Sandy Monument From Beach After Not Obtaining ‘Appropriate Permits’
    Posted January 6, 2016 at 1:28 pm by Jon Street

    Comments (23)

    HIGHLANDS, N.J. (TheBlaze/AP) — A town in New Jersey demanded that a concrete association trade group remove a hulking monument to the survivors of Superstorm Sandy from a beach.

    A large concrete structure is seen on the beach Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016, in Highlands, N.J. The state Department of Environmental Protection informed the Highlands borough in November that the more than 1,000-square-foot monument was not permitted under the Coastal Area Facilities Review Act, which oversees development on the state's coastline.The borough is demanding that a trade group remove a monument to the survivors of Superstorm Sandy.The monument, dubbed "Shorehenge," has been questioned by residents for its aesthetics. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

    A large concrete structure is seen on the beach Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016, in Highlands, N.J. The state Department of Environmental Protection informed the Highlands borough in November that the more than 1,000-square-foot monument was not permitted under the Coastal Area Facilities Review Act, which oversees development on the state’s coastline.The borough is demanding that a trade group remove a monument to the survivors of Superstorm Sandy.The monument, dubbed “Shorehenge,” has been questioned by residents for its aesthetics. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

    An attorney for Highlands sent a letter to Iowa-based Tilt-Up Concrete Association on Monday, asking the monument’s donor to take down the more than 1,100-square-foot structure, dubbed “Shorehenge,” from a borough beach, the Asbury Park Press reported.

    “It has come to the Borough’s attention that this construction was performed without obtaining the appropriate permits from the State Department of Environmental Protection,” town attorney Bruce Padula said in a letter to the group’s managing director, Mitch Bloomquist.

    “It is unacceptable that an entity such as yours would construct a structure without obtaining the appropriate permits. In that regard, the borough demands that Tilt-Up immediately and unconditionally remove the structure,” the letter continues.

    A message to Bloomquist on Tuesday wasn’t immediately returned.

    The state Department of Environmental Protection informed the borough in November that that the monument was not permitted under the Coastal Area Facilities Review Act, which oversees development on the state’s coastline.

    The monument, a gift from the trade group that promotes the tilt-up construction technique, was put up in September and has been questioned by residents for its aesthetics. Its canopy alone weighs nearly 350,000 pounds and its placement above four walls has been called an unprecedented feat of engineering by contractors.

    A dedication plaque on the structure reads, “In honor of the spirit of our community. Hurricane Sandy, October 29, 2012.”

    A person walks through a large concrete structure on the beach Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016, in Highlands, N.J. The borough is demanding that a trade group remove a monument to the survivors of Superstorm Sandy. A Highlands attorney sent a letter to the Tilt-Up Concrete Association Monday asking the group to remove a more than 1,000-square-foot monument from the beach. The monument, dubbed "Shorehenge," has been questioned by residents for its aesthetics. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

    A person walks through a large concrete structure on the beach Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016, in Highlands, N.J. The borough is demanding that a trade group remove a monument to the survivors of Superstorm Sandy. A Highlands attorney sent a letter to the Tilt-Up Concrete Association Monday asking the group to remove a more than 1,000-square-foot monument from the beach. The monument, dubbed “Shorehenge,” has been questioned by residents for its aesthetics. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

    Most Highlands businesses and homes were destroyed or damaged by Superstorm Sandy.

    The matter is still pending and no fines have been issued, according to the department.

    Borough officials said they will wait to comment further until Tilt-Up responds to their letter.

  • GOP Rep. Drops Terrifying Revelation After Two Pakistani Men Are Apprehended at U.S. Southern Border
    Posted January 6, 2016 at 1:25 pm by Kaitlyn Schallhorn

    Comments (153)

    With evidence that at least two Pakistani nationals listed on various terrorist watch lists were apprehended while entering the U.S. illegally, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) is warning Americans that the southern border is vulnerable to intrusion by terrorists.

    According to records reviewed by TheBlaze, two Pakistani men, Mukhtar Ahmad, 25, and Muhammad Azeem, 20, surrendered to a U.S. Border Patrol agent Sept. 20, 2015, near Otay Mesa, California. A Terrorist Screening Database records check of Ahmad revealed that he is on a terror watch list as he’s an associate of a known or suspected terrorist. A records check of Azeem revealed that he had been flagged as a positive match for derogatory information — it is unclear from the records what that “derogatory information” is.

    Both men have been interviewed by the Joint Terrorism Task Force and are believed to still be in custody, according to information provided to TheBlaze. It is unclear what prompted the men to surrender.

    UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 11: Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., participates in the news conference with the Republican members of the California congressional delegation to discuss California water legislation in the Capitol on Friday, Dec. 11, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

    Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) participates in a news conference with Republican members of the California congressional delegation Dec. 11, 2015. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

    “It is routinely said there is no ‘specific and credible information about an attack on the homeland.’ Despite this assertion, the Southern land border remains vulnerable to intrusion and exists as a point of extreme vulnerability,” Hunter wrote in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson that referred specifically to the case of Ahmad and Azeem. The letter, provided to TheBlaze, was dated Dec. 21.

    “And evidently there are criminal organizations and individuals with the networks and knowhow to facilitate illegal entry into the United States without regard for one’s intentions or status on a terrorist watchlist,” Hunter continued. “The detention of the two Pakistani nationals underscores the fact that any serious effort to secure our homeland must include effective border security and immigration enforcement.”

    Joe Kasper, Hunter’s chief of staff, told TheBlaze in an interview that as of Wednesday his office has still not received a response from Johnson or anyone else at the Department of Homeland Security — and expressed doubt that a response will come.

    “That’s why we’re asking the question: How many people do we apprehend on the border who also have positive profile matches on the terrorist watchlist? Is this something that happens everyday?” Kasper said. “Is there anybody in the United States who did enter successfully and we don’t know they’re here, who might be on the terrorist watchlist?”

    “This is just one small example, one single example, among hundreds of thousands of arrests that are happening annually on the border,” Kasper added.

    A fence runs along the US-Mexico border between the Otay Mesa and San Ysidro ports of entry in and near San Diego, California, across from Tijuana, Mexico (L). (Photo credit: Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)

    A fence runs along the US-Mexico border between the Otay Mesa and San Ysidro ports of entry in and near San Diego, California, across from Tijuana, Mexico (L). (Photo credit: Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)

    Kasper said that Hunter, who was elected in 2008, has worked on tightening border security since assuming office, and Kasper himself has worked on immigration since he worked for Hunter’s father, former California GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter, who held office from 1981 to 2009.

    “It’s something we’ve been doing for a very long time as much as we possibly can — whether that’s calling for more infrastructure, more personnel, and it’s a big part and reason that … Hunter continues to call for border security first because unless you are on the border, a lot of people don’t understand what happens everyday down on that border unless they’re from there,” Kasper said.

    Kasper reiterated his boss’ criticism of the government’s “no credible threat” mantra, saying that, “if that were the case, they would have been picked up in Mexico City” or elsewhere — not in the U.S.

    “There is a network that is committed to facilitating illegal entry to anyone, regardless of their intent or country of origin. They don’t discriminate in the human smuggling networks south of the border,” Kasper said. “If you want to enter the United States illegally, this proves again, the easiest way to do that is cross the southern border.”

    Kasper said it was interesting to note when the Pakistani nationals were apprehended as “perhaps it was coincidence, perhaps not” that the men attempted to enter the country just a few weeks prior to the San Bernardino shooting. On Dec. 2, reportedly inspired by extremist groups, Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik opened fire on a social services building, killing 14. Farook was born in the U.S. and of Pakistani descent; Malik was born in Pakistan.

    “We know that there is some sort of planning that goes into these acts of terrorism. What these individuals were doing, why they were trying to enter the U.S., that’s something you’re going to have to try to figure out,” he said.

    Read Hunter’s letter to Johnson below.

    Rep. Hunter letter to DHS

  • City Councilman Suddenly Flees After Being Pulled Over by Border Patrol — Agents Soon Find Out Why
    Posted January 6, 2016 at 12:58 pm by Jon Street

    Comments (102)

    A Texas city councilman fled after being pulled over Saturday by a U.S. Border Patrol officer — and now it’s clear why.

    Image source: KENS-TV

    Image source: KENS-TV

    Crystal City Council member Marco Rodriguez was allegedly transporting three illegal immigrants from the border to San Antonio when he was stopped by authorities. Rodriguez reportedly talked with the officer for a short time, but then took off again, KENS-TV reported.

    Border Patrol eventually caught up to Rodriquez and reportedly found the three illegal immigrants with him. Rodriquez admitted to being hired to transport them, while adding that he was paid $500 and $1,400 to do the same at least twice before.

    Rodriquez, 36, was arrested Saturday and is due in federal court Thursday on human smuggling charges. He is currently in custody at a federal detention center.

    Rodriguez is the second Crystal City official in as many weeks to have been arrested. Last week, James Jonas, who serves as city manager, city attorney and city lobbyist, was arrested after he allegedly assaulted a woman as she was going into a City Council meeting.

    Jonas said at the time that he had no plans to resign his positions. Crystal City Mayor Ricardo Lopez said that the City Council would vote on whether to let Jonas keep his jobs — and his $220,000 salary.

    While Rodriquez’s future as a City Council member is uncertain, one resident said that he should be fired.

    “They have enough corruption here. They don’t need any more,”  Jason Silva said.

    City council positions are unpaid, according to KENS-TV.

    (H/T: KENS-TV)

    This post has been updated.

  • Donald Trump Predicts He’ll ‘Probably Go Down Five Points in the Polls’ for Saying These Six Words About Obama
    Posted January 6, 2016 at 12:48 pm by Chris Enloe

    Comments (170)

    Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump said Wednesday that he thinks the tears shed by President Barack Obama during his Tuesday press conference were sincere.

    “I actually think he was sincere,” the billionaire businessman said on “Fox and Friends” Wednesday morning. “I’ll probably go down about five points in the polls by saying that, but I think he was sincere.”

    Image via Twitter/FoxandFriends

    Image via Twitter @FoxandFriends

    Obama was visibly emotional during his press conference announcing his planned executive actions on gun control Tuesday, most notably when he was speaking about the first-graders who were murdered in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012.

    Many pundits were critical of Obama following his emotional plea. One Fox News personality even quipped that Obama had a raw onion hidden in his lectern.

    Trump went on to tell the Fox panel that he believes Obama’s concept is wrong, and instead, Obama should be focusing on the mental health aspect that accompanies mass murder.

    “We have a huge mental health problem,” Trump said. “We’re closing all of these institutions now, and the people are going out on the streets … there are a lot of sick people out there.”


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  • Iranian Officials Plan to Forcibly Convert Christian Church Into Mosque
    Posted January 6, 2016 at 12:35 pm by Carly Hoilman

    Comments (34)

    Two years ago, Iranian authorities illegally confiscated a plot of property belonging to an Iranian Assyrian church. Soon the church will be converted into an Islamic mosque, Iran’s state-controlled newspaper reported.

    The Assyrian International News Agency revealed Sunday that the Chaldean Catholic Church in Western Tehran, the venue’s original owner, has issued multiple pleas to recover the stolen property, but the complaints “have fallen on deaf ears.”

    A member of the regime’s Majlis (Parliament), Jonathan Bet-Kelia, was quoted in the Iranian newspaper Sharq saying that he had reached out to Ali Younesi, special assistant to the regime’s President Hassan Rouhani on ethnic minorities affairs, on the matter. Younesi, a former minister of intelligence and security who is allegedly responsible for ordering numerous arrests and assassinations of dissidents, told Bet-Kelia that nothing could be done about it.

    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's regime has openly admitted to usurping the formerly Christian parish grounds of Chaldean Catholic Church for the purpose of converting the property into a center for Islamic prayers.  (ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images)

    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s regime has openly admitted to usurping the formerly Christian parish grounds of Chaldean Catholic Church for the purpose of converting the property into a center for Islamic prayers. (Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images)

    Iran’s Shiite Muslim ruling clerics have an extensive track record of oppressing religious minorities like Christians and even Sunni Muslims and depriving them of basic rights.

    Back in July 2015, the regime demolished a Sunni prayer hall in the capital Tehran, the AINA reported. The “Pounak” prayer hall, as it was called, was raided and destroyed by government officials in Tehran, backed by “state suppressive forces.” According to the AINA, officials also searched the grounds of the mosque’s Sunni imam Abdullah Moussa-Zadeh and seized his mobile phone. Earlier in the year, Tehran officials had shut down the Pounak prayer hall, placing seals on its entrance. Though the municipality later removed the seals, Sunni Muslims were blocked from praying in the center.

    The prayer hall’s destruction drew immediate criticisms from Iranian Sunni leaders. Mowlavi Abdulhamid, the Sunni imam in the city of Zahedan in southeastern Iran, sent letters of protest to the mullahs’ Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and to Hassan Rouhani condemning the raid. In his letter to Rouhani, Abdulhamid wrote, “Intolerance towards even a single ordinary prayer hall and its destruction in a city that does not allow Sunnis to build a mosque … not only hurts the sentiments of Iran’s Sunni community, but also offends all Muslims of the world.”

    The regime has openly admitted to usurping the formerly Christian parish grounds of Chaldean Catholic Church for the purpose of converting them into a center for Islamic prayers.

    “The brazen admission displays first and foremost the discriminatory and sectarian policies of the regime vis-a-vis Iran’s religious minorities,” Ali Safavi of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) said. “At the same time, it speaks to the failure of Western policy to accommodate the regime in the futile hope that it will promote moderation and tolerance on the domestic front.”

    (H/T: Assyrian International News Agency)

  • This Christian Album Just Skyrocketed Up iTunes’ Top Album Chart — and Landed Right Behind Adele and Justin Bieber
    Posted January 6, 2016 at 12:29 pm by Billy Hallowell

    Comments (42)

    Music fans who looked at iTunes’ top-selling album chart on Tuesday evening were likely stunned to find that a Christian album was locked in the third spot, directly behind Adele’s “25″ and Justin Bieber’s “Purpose.”

    Passion: Salvation’s Tide Is Rising,” an album featuring music from the “Passion 2016″ conference, soared to the top of the iTunes chart on Tuesday and Wednesday after its Jan. 1 release, occupying a slot among the most popular music acts in the world.

    Passion 2016 (Phil Sanders)

    Passion 2016 (Phil Sanders)

    “Passion: Salvation’s Tide Is Rising” is also currently the most popular album on the iTunes Christian chart.

    The songs, which were pre-recorded, feature some of the biggest names in Christian music, including Crowder, Matt Redman and Kristian Stanfill, among others, with live versions of each included at the “Passion 2016″ conference.

    A screen shot from the iTunes top album chart

    A screen shot from the iTunes top album chart

    As TheBlaze previously reported, more than 40,000 young people between the ages of 18 and 25 flocked to three arenas in two different cities from Jan. 2-4 to attend “Passion,” an annual event that brings scores of youths together to worship, pray and learn more about their faith.

    The high-energy event, which was founded by Louie Giglio, pastor of Passion City Church in Atlanta, Georgia, encourages college students to help fund notable philanthropic causes. This year, they raised nearly $1 million to help fund a hospital and meet medical needs in Syria.

    As for the “Passion: Salvation’s Tide Is Rising” album’s placement on the iTunes top album chart, Giglio expressed his gratitude in an Instagram post on Tuesday, writing, “HELLO [Justin Bieber]. Nice to see you. Really proud of our latest album. I know the songs are going to encourage and propel you.”

    Passion band singer Brett Younker was equally excited over the album’s success.

    Passion 2016 (Phil Sanders)

    Passion 2016 (Phil Sanders)

    “So cool to see songs about Jesus at number 4 on itunes!!!” he wrote on his Instagram page.

    This year, “Passion 2016″ participants from all 50 states and dozens of countries flocked to the Philips Arena and Infinite Energy Center in Atlanta, Georgia, and the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, for the three-day event, as performers and preachers shared the Christian gospel.

    So cool to see songs about Jesus at number 4 on itunes!!! #Passion2016

    A photo posted by brett younker (@brettyounker) on

    The event live-streamed to all three arenas, uniting attendees who showed up to each venues to learn more about God and the Bible — but that unity also extended into a common goal of helping the less fortunate.

    The youths in attendance at “Passion” collectively raised up a remarkable $785,127.89 for the construction in addition to $210,000 additional money that will be used to meet current needs in Syria, according to a representative for the conference.

    Once completed, the hospital will serve at-risk mothers and children, becoming as the “first neonatal intensive care unit in opposition-controlled Syria,” according to a press release.

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  • Discovery of 3,400-Year-Old Canaanite Structure Sparks Unusual Plan by Israeli Builders
    Posted January 6, 2016 at 12:08 pm by Sharona Schwartz

    Comments (24)

    Archaeologists have uncovered the remains of a 3,400-year-old citadel in northern Israel, including weapons, foodstuffs and figurines that offer insight into life in ancient Canaan.

    What’s unusual about this excavation is that builders in Nahariya on the Mediterranean coast have decided to incorporate part of the ancient citadel, or fortified area, into an apartment building soon to be constructed.

    “There was a plan to build a new apartment building with a large underground parking lot. After we learned what was there, they [the builders] agreed to change the plans,” Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist Nimrod Getzov told TheBlaze by phone Wednesday after the discovery was announced.

    Aerial view of the excavation of the site planned for a large apartment building. (Photo: Israel Antiquities Authority, Guy Fitoussi)

    Aerial view of the excavation of the site planned for a large apartment building. (Israel Antiquities Authority, Guy Fitoussi)

    Researchers say they found evidence of military strife in the area, based on the massive fire damage to smaller fortresses within the larger Bronze Age complex.

    “We found smaller fortresses, and they were always destroyed, burned,” Getzov explained. “There was apparently a war and someone else wanted to rule the area.”

    Within the remnants of the fire damage caused by intense conflagrations on four separate occasions, the archaeologists found seeds, including for legumes, grains and, to a lesser degree, grape seeds believed to have been the remnants of raisins eaten at the time.

    These female figurines dating to the Late Bronze Age were found at the site. (Photo: Israel Antiquities Authority/Eran Gilvarg)

    These female figurines dating to the Late Bronze Age were found at the Nahariya site. (Israel Antiquities Authority/Eran Gilvarg)

    The researchers suggested the foods were eaten not only by those in the citadel but also sailors sailing the eastern Mediterranean — including Egypt, Anatolia and Syria — who docked for provisions in what is today northern Israel.

    “They needed to anchor in a place and to be fed … so they would stop and buy services in different places,” Getzov explained.

    Excavation directors Getzov, Yair Amitzur and Dr. Ron Be’eri of the Israel Antiquities Authority offered more details on the discovery in a joint statement:

    There was probably a dock alongside the citadel. Numerous artifacts were discovered in its rooms, including ceramic figurines in form of humans and animals, bronze weapons and imported pottery vessels that attest to the extensive commercial and cultural relations that existed at that time with Cyprus and the rest of the lands in the Mediterranean basin.

    A stamped jar handle dating to the Middle Bronze Age. (Photo: Israel Antiquities Authority)

    A stamped jar handle dating to the Middle Bronze Age. (Israel Antiquities Authority)

    Even though they found evidence of extensive fire damage, Getzov said his team did not know who the enemies of the Canaanites were who burned down the fortresses.

    The Antiquities Authority said that part of the citadel will be preserved on the basement level of the apartment building, with a large window for visitors to peruse the ancient artifact.

  • Here’s What an Airline Did When Israelis Demanded Removing Two Arab Passengers From Flight Over Terrorism Fears
    Posted January 6, 2016 at 11:59 am by Sharona Schwartz

    Comments (74)

    Greece’s Aegean Airlines offered two Arab passengers a free hotel stay and tickets on an alternate flight from Athens to Tel Aviv after Jewish Israeli passengers demanded they be removed from the aircraft, fearing they might be terrorists, according to Israel Radio.

    The airline said one of the Arab passengers on the Sunday flight had an Israeli passport and the other an Israeli residence permit, both of whom eventually agreed to disembark.

    One of the protesting passengers said Wednesday that it was their behavior, not ethnicity, that elicited other travelers’ fears.

    The airline said that at first a small group of protesting passengers stood up in their seats so as to prevent the flight from taking off.

    “An initially small group of passengers very vocally and persistently asked for two other Israeli passengers to be checked for security issues,” Aegean said in a statement quoted in the Times of Israel.

    Photo: Shutterstock/Ververidis Vasilis

    Aegean Airlines said that it was “unfortunate” that passengers “were possibly racially profiling the customers.” (Photo credit: Shutterstock/Ververidis Vasilis)

    Israel’s Ha’aretz reported that the pilot called airport police who checked the identifying documents of the two passengers and found nothing wrong. However, despite crew assurances, the protest had by then spread, the airline said.

    “It started with 3-4 people and by the end there were 60-70 people standing up, demanding that the pair disembark,” a company spokeswoman said.

    “But by that stage, the two men were in a poor state and wanted to leave themselves,” she added.

    The Arab passengers were given a free hotel stay and seats on a flight the following day, and their luggage was taken out of the hold, the Times reported.

    According to the airline’s account, the pilot announced that any other passenger who did not feel safe flying could disembark but would not be compensated.

    “While it is indeed unfortunate that they were possibly racially profiling the customers, indeed their fellow Israelis … safety must be first,” Aegean said.

    However, a passenger who was identified only as Nissim told Israel Army Radio Wednesday that it wasn’t racial profiling but their behavior that got the passengers worried.

    In particular, one of the two Arab passengers “looked off and his body language was very threatening,” Nissim said, adding, “He had a penetrating and scary look.”

    “We’re entitled to express our concerns,” he said according to the Times’ translation. “No one raised [the Arab passengers’] ethnicity or was racist; we expressed our concerns in an objective way, just like when you see someone suspicious in the street and you’re alert. In the case of a flight there is no second chance. It was not a small group of barbarians and racists as they tried to frame us [in the press]. If God forbid something would have happened they would give us a medal.”

    “There was not a single passenger who got up and gave an opposite opinion,” he asserted. “That means everyone felt the same way.”

    The flight was delayed about two hours.

    “We thank again the two passengers that agreed to disembark for their understanding and collaboration and we apologize for the whole episode,” the airline said.

    Israelis have been on edge following four months of nearly daily stabbing, shooting and car-ramming attacks by Palestinians.

    Israeli police announced that the main suspect in Friday’s deadly shooting attacks in Tel Aviv that killed three is an Arab Muslim citizen of Israel who is still at large. One of those killed was an Israeli-Arab taxi driver.

  • VA Employee Arrested, Charged With Sexually Assaulting a Veteran
    Posted January 6, 2016 at 11:47 am by Kate Scanlon

    Comments (36)

    An employee at the Department of Veterans Affairs in Tomah, Wisconsin, has been arrested and charged with sexually assaulting a patient.

    Tuesday evening, A.J. Lagoe, an investigative reporter with KARE11, reported on Facebook that Charles Davis, who worked as a mental health employee at the VA, has been accused in the assault case:

    Charles Davis, a mental health employee at the Tomah VA Medical Center is charged with sexually assaulting a vulnerable…

    Posted by A.J. Investigates on Tuesday, January 5, 2016

    According to the Washington Examiner, Davis is facing seven charges for what VA officials described as an “unfortunate incident” that they became aware of on Dec. 31.

    The Examiner also cited “unconfirmed reports from within the Tomah office” that, after Davis was charged, several other women have come forward to report “similar events.”

  • There’s a Big Development Surrounding the Hijab-Wearing, Christian College Professor Who Said Muslims and Christians ‘Worship the Same God’
    Posted January 6, 2016 at 11:42 am by Billy Hallowell

    Comments (169)

    An evangelical college at the center of debate over the suspension of a tenured professor is set to begin termination proceedings after the two sides were reportedly unable to come to an agreement over the educator’s controversial theological comments about Islam and Christianity.

    As TheBlaze previously reported, Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, placed Dr. Larycia Hawkins, a political science professor, on administrative leave last month, as officials further investigated comments that she made about the “relationship of Christianity to Islam” following a public announcement that she would be wearing a hijab — a Muslim headscarf — throughout the advent season.

    “I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book,” she wrote in a Dec. 10 Facebook post. “And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God.”

    Dr. Larycia Hawkins/Facebook

    Dr. Larycia Hawkins/Facebook

    With reports this week indicating that Wheaton College would now be considering termination, the school released a statement to TheBlaze explaining where the situation currently stands following an “impasse reached by the parties.”

    “Wheaton College can confirm reports that on January 4, 2016, per College policies and procedures, Provost Stanton Jones delivered to President Philip Ryken and to Dr. Larycia Hawkins a Notice of Recommendation to Initiate Termination-for-Cause Proceedings regarding Dr. Hawkins,” the statement read. “The Notice is not a termination; rather, it begins Wheaton College’s established process for employment actions pertaining to tenured faculty members.”

    The college went on to say that Hawkins — who has taught at Wheaton since 2007 — submitted a Dec. 17 written response to questions about her “theological convictions,” and that Wheaton officials asked to further discuss her views; the school claims that the professor then declined to take part in discussions “about the theological implications of her public statements and her [written] response.”

    The statement concluded by detailing the employment process that will now unfold, noting that it will begin with a hearing before the faculty personnel committee. The committee will hear both sides of the debate before making a recommendation to Wheaton College president Philip Ryken regarding the professor’s tenure.

    Ryken will then make a recommendation to the college’s board of trustees based on this recommendation as well as a recommendation from Provost Stanton Jones, who already recommended that the school initiate termination-for-cause proceedings in the case of Hawkins; it is the board of trustees that will make a final employment decision.

    Hawkins posted a message thanking her supporters on Wednesday — a theme that has been common on her Facebook timeline of late.

    “More than ever, I feel the love and prayers of my family…Hawkins, Blackshear, Morris, Bacy, Harrison. You make me proud, as does the legacy and spirit of our loved ones who have passed on, yet continue to inspire us and envelop us in their love on our journey,” she wrote. “My friends know that I count myself one blessed woman to have other mothers and sisters and brothers and clans who claim me as their own. My new friends whom I’ve never met, you will never know how your support of an unknown woman has moved my soul.”

    Watch her discuss the issue below:

    Hawkins has said that she believes that Christians and Muslims worship the same God “differently,” according to Christianity Today.

    “In no way did I make a moral equivalency between Jesus and Muhammad or Islam and Christianity,” she said during an interview with Chicago Tonight. “That would be offensive to my Muslim friends and to my Christian friends to pretend that the religions are the same, that they’re not different, either in practice or theology.”

    Hawkins’ punishment was not related to the wearing of the hijab, and was rooted, instead, in concerns over theological claims that were made about Islam and Christianity — claims that some at Wheaton believe run counter to its stance on the Christian faith.

    “The College has no stated position on the wearing of headscarves as a gesture of care and concern for those in Muslim or other religious communities that may face discrimination or persecution,” said Wheaton president Philip Ryken. “We support the protection of all Americans including the right to the free exercise of religion, as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States.”

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