Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Friday that he could permanently lose sight in his right eye as a result of his exercising accident on New Year’s Day.
“They’re very hopeful, but you know, this isn’t anything that’s a slam dunk,” Reid said in an interview with NPR radio.
“I had serious injury in my eye, there’s blood accumulation there, and we’re hoping that resolves itself,” he said. “As long as the blood is in the eye, it’s hard to see.”
“They’re hopeful, and I’m just following their orders,” he said.
Reid said that three days a week, he works out by doing sit ups, pushups and hundreds of strength-training exercises using large exercise bands. One of those bands snapped on New Year’s Day, which forced him to fall and break bones around his eye, as well as three ribs.
But Reid brushed off the idea that the incident shows he’s too physically weak to lead the Senate.
“I don’t know how many people out there could sit down and do 250 pushups, or do the strength exercises I did with those bands,” he said. “Hundreds and hundreds of times, hundreds of times, every week, three times a week.”
“So, no one has questioned my physical ability,” he said. “I’ve always been fairly confident in my ability to fight back, and I’m going to continue to fight back.”
Reid also said the accident hasn’t changed his mind about running for re-election in 2016.
Reid also said he supports President Barack Obama’s threat to veto the Republican bill to approve the Keystone pipeline. “Good, I hope he does,” Reid said.
Last October, when Dallas nurse Amber Vinson visited Coming Attractions Bridal and Formal, an Ohio bridal shop, she was not exhibiting any signs of the Ebola virus. Shortly after that trip, the symptoms appeared, she was diagnosed with the virus, immediately put into a quarantine and started treatment for the disease that has killed thousands in Africa.
Coming Attractions Bridal and Formal had to close its doors for an Ebola decontamination and remained closed through the virus’ 21-day incubation period. And now it’s shuttering forever after initially reopening.
Vinson survived her battle with Ebola and moved forward with her plans to get married. However, she made a decision to cancel her order with Coming Attractions. In November, her lawyer sent a note asking for a refund of Vinson’s deposit.
While the now-healthy nurse was able to end her association with the Akron, Ohio, bridal shop, the store could not shake the stigma of Ebola.
Despite getting a clean bill of health and a thorough decontamination, when store owner Anna Youker reopened for business there was something missing — customers. The negative attention was devastating to Youker’s business. She told the Akron Beacon Journal, ”People don’t even want to tell anyone they got their dress here.” Adding, “It’s the ‘Ebola store.’”
Youker estimates that her business lost $100,000 in cancelled orders and missed sales during the three weeks they were forced to close. These losses were also not something her business insurance covered.
The drop in business and the notoriety of being the “Ebola store” was just too much for this small business. Earlier this week, Anna Youker announced that she was closing the store.
The Beacon Journal reported Akron’s mayor, the city’s economic development group and others have reached out to offer advice and encouragement in hopes of keeping the 21-year-old business alive.
As business winds down, the store reportedly is offering massive discounts on all remaining inventory. Youker posted the following on the Coming Attractions Facebook page, “Everything in the store will be 50%-80% off.”
As the news of the bridal shop’s closing spread, a Go Fund Me campaign was started with hopes of raising enough money to keep Coming Attractions in business.
The campaign set a $20,000 target to help keep the shop open. As of Friday morning, just over $3,700 had been pledged.
Youker said she is not certain the campaign will be able to save the store, but also posted on Facebook, “If you would like to help me try, I would be honored to have your support.”
Update: The story about Coming Attractions Bridal and Formal closing its doors even caught the eye of Glenn Beck. On Friday, he called it, “One of the sadder stories of the day.”
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Terry Jones, the Koran-burning pastor known for infuriating Muslims across the globe, has reportedly taken on a new profession: running a french fry joint inside of a Florida mall.
Jones’ company, Fry Guys Gourmet Fries, which he co-founded, uses a sketch of the infamous reverend’s face in its logo. His likeness is also featured in a drawing hanging on the fast-food restaurant’s wall, which is located inside of a mall food court, the Bradenton Herald reported.
“At first I thought the pictures would not be so recognizable,” Jones, head of Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, told the outlet when a reporter called to discuss the new business venture. “They were supposed to be more of a cartoon type of thing.”
His image has since been removed after Robert Tackett, the mall manager, was made aware of Jones’ past controversies, but the reverend said that his sketch will remain part of the Fry Guys logo.
Jones also said that he and his partners have big plans for the business, which they hope to turn into a chain.
Both Jones and Tackett, who told the Herald that he was unaware of the preacher’s fiery past before signing a lease with him, said that the fry chain has only had positive reviews thus far from customers.
But some might wonder — especially in light of Wednesday’s terror attack on Charlie Hebdo — what security concerns Jones’ presence could pose at the mall, if any, especially considering the past anger and violence he has incited across the globe.
Tackett told the Herald that a member of the intelligence unit at the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office contacted him this week and said that there are currently no security concerns.
As for Jones, he said he’s not too worried, despite the fact that he’s reportedly listed in second place as being wanted dead or alive on an Al Qaeda poster that has circulated on social media.
“We’re not fearful, and we’re not going to run and hide,” Jones said. “If they (terrorists) come, we’re going to try to get them before they get us.”
(H/T: Bradenton Herald)
The chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee is very skeptical of President Barack Obama’s proposal to make community college tuition free throughout the country, even though his state has a plan to do the same.
“The right way to expand Tennessee Promise nationally is for other states to do for themselves what Tennessee has done,” Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said in a statement.
The Tennessee plan will go into effect for the high school class of 2015 and will be available for students with at least a 2.0 GPA, but only as a “last dollar scholarship” — meaning once all scholarships and federal aid has been spent.
Alexander said that instead of “creating a new federal program,” the government needs to reduce the amount of paperwork on student aid forms and to pay for the Pell grants of other states that follow the Tennessee model of making two years of community college free.
Under Obama’s proposal, students who keep at least a 2.5 grade point average and make progress toward a college diploma would have their first two years of community college paid for by a combination of the federal and state governments. The president will be speaking at Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville to lay out his plan further.
Alexander said Tennessee can afford tuition-free community college is because many students are already receiving federal aid.
“The reason Tennessee can afford Tennessee Promise is that 56 percent of our state’s community college students already have a federal Pell grant, which averages $3,300, to help pay for the average $3,800-per-year tuition,” Alexander said. “The state pays the difference — $500 on average. Nationally, in 16 states, the average Pell grant pays for the typical student’s entire community college tuition.”
A team of divers off the coast of Sicily has discovered dozens of pieces of ancient metals from a ship that sank 2,600 years ago.
— Archaeology Magazine (@archaeologymag) January 8, 2015
“The wreck dates to the first half of the sixth century. It was found about 1,000 feet from Gela’s coast at a depth of 10 feet,” Sebastiano Tusa, superintendent of Sicily’s sea office, told Discovery News.
Researchers’ next challenge is to identify just what types of metals they discovered. The team of divers say the 39 pieces of metal are orichalcum, an element referred to in Ancient Greek mythology. It was also mentioned by the Greek philosopher Plato in his dialogue Critias.
In his dialogue, Plato described the mythical island of Atlantis. The island was home to the temple of Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea, earthquakes and horses:
“Here was Poseidon’s own temple which was a stadium in length, and half a stadium in width, and of a proportionate height, having a strange barbaric appearance. All the outside of the temple, with the exception of the pinnacles, they covered with silver, and the pinnacles with gold. In the interior of the temple the roof was of ivory, curiously wrought everywhere with gold and silver and orichalcum; and all the other parts, the walls and pillars and floor, they coated with orichalcum.”
However, the actual composition and origin of orichalcum is relatively unknown to this day. Most scholars can agree, though, that orichalcum is a brass-like alloy made by combining zinc ore, charcoal and copper metal, Discovery News reported.
“Nothing similar has ever been found,” Tusa said. adding that scientists and researchers only know the metal from reading ancient texts and ornaments.
Although so much is unclear about the ancient orichalcum metal, Tusa said he is sure of one thing. That is the recovery of the ancient shipwreck will lend useful clues to scientists and historians.
“It will provide us with precious information on Sicily’s most ancient economic history,” the sea office superintendent said.
(H/T: IFL Science)
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Former Miami Dolphins fullback Rob Konrad is likely thankful he was once a professional athlete, after falling off a boat in the south Florida coast and having no choice but to swim for more than nine hours back to shore.
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, Konrad went fishing alone on Wednesday, and fell off his boat. Since it was on autopilot, Konrad was unable to catch back up to the vessel.
Facing no other alternative, the former Dolphins player began swimming home.
The Coast Guard sent a helicopter to look for Konrad after he missed dinner plans with his friends, but he made it to shore unassisted around 4 a.m.
The 38-year-old, who played for the Dophins from 1999-2004, was immediately taken to the hospital to be treated for possible hypothermia.
More on the incredible story of survival via WPLG-TV:
Famed rapper and music producer Timbaland recently revealed that he believes God expects those who have been blessed with wealth to use it to help others.
Speaking about his life and career recently on Power 105.1′s nationally syndicated radio show “The Breakfast Club,” Timbaland, who has produced songs for Justin Timberlake, Nelly Furtado and Jay Z, among many others, said he hopes his own legacy reflects generosity.
He specifically noted that he pays everyone who works for him at least six figures.
“The legacy of Timbaland is helping others. I want to leave this world knowing if I’m a friend to you — all the people around me I’ve gotten six figures or more. The one thing that you can say: when you’re in my crew, I get you paid,” Timbaland said. “Maybe I won’t get paid as much. I don’t like going to a store or going to a place and we can’t talk about the same things or buy the same things.”
Beyond that, he said he believes that God wants those with wealth to use their money to help others.
“God put us on earth. We are going to always have our wealth, but if you are chosen to be that special person, you are chosen with a lot of other obligations in that is, like, helping others,” the rapper continued. “And when you’re helping others your success keeps going.”
Watch his comments at the 36:30 mark:
Do you agree? Let us know below.
(H/T: Christian Post)
The ruse was pretty simple: A woman walked through a store, reached underneath a chair, dropped a $100 bill and quickly picked it back up — pretending she had just found it.
The catch? The chair was occupied — and the seated woman insisted the money was hers.
The conversation went like this:
“Is this yours?” the prankster asked the seated woman.
“Yes m’am,” the woman replied. “I wouldn’t lie. I just put it in my purse. I promise to God, ma’am.”
“Check your purse,” the prankster suggested.
“It’s not,” the woman answered, looking into her purse. “It was right here with my phone. I promise to God, baby.”
“Baby, I was sittin’ right here! It is my hundred dollars!”
“No, it’s not.”
“Oh, my God…baby, that’s my money!”
Then came the hard truth: ”No, it’s my hundred dollars. It was a joke!”
The pranked woman began to smile even as she continued protesting, as if she was just coming to terms with the fact that she was caught on camera being less than honest.
And with that the prankster and pals walked out of the store, cackling up a storm.
Of course, the woman in the chair could be in on it and the prank could be on the audience — but here’s the clip:
This story has been updated.
A new report by Reuters is downright disturbing: Members of a prominent Mexican drug cartel are eating the hearts of their victims.
The reports cites a government official, who said the tactic is meant to weed out those trying to infiltrate the Knights Templar cartel.
According to the Houston Chronicle, people have witnessed the practice:
Apparently witnesses have been privy to seeing new recruits of the Knights Templar feasting on the human hearts of their murder victims, Reuters reports. The practice reportedly was enforced by the cartel’s now-deceased founder Nazario Moreno.
“The ritual ranged from dismembering people they intended to kill to sometimes serving up the heart,” Alfredo Castillo, Michoacan’s federal security commissioner told Reuters.
A public school principal in Missouri pushed back against a middle school student’s claim that a teacher banned him from reading the Bible in school, claiming that the incident did not unfold as was alleged and that students are more than welcome to read their Bibles in school.
Lance Tobin, principal of Bueker Middle School in Marshall, Missouri, told TheBlaze on Friday that claims made by Loyal Grandstaff, a 7th grader at the school, had not been substantiated when a local outlet published them and that the situation has since been resolved.
“We just all agreed and we talked about school and religion,” Tobin said. “And I wanted to make sure that they were comfortable understanding that their child could have the Bible at school and could read the Bible at school.”
Tobin, who declined to go into specific detail when asked why the family alleged that a teacher had banned the 12 year old from reading the book if that story wasn’t accurate, said that going public with the claims was likely “something that [the family] felt like they needed to do at the time.”
When asked how the teacher accused of banning the Bible is faring in light of the attention the situation has been given, the principal added, “There is no teacher involved whatsoever.”
Tobin added that he was frustrated that WDAF-TV, a Kansas City-based Fox affiliate, aired the story before he had a chance to look into it, but affirmed that the situation has concluded. He would not comment when asked if the story was fabricated.
“Everything is wonderful,” he said.
These sentiments were also reflected in an interview he did with the Christian Post this week.
“The incident was never validated,” Tobin told the outlet. “Fox 4 News ran the report before we had the chance to look into the incident ourselves. All is good at BMS!”
Watch the original report below:
As TheBlaze previously reported, Grandstaff’s family accused a teacher of violating the child’s First Amendment rights by allegedly refusing to allow him to read his Bible in school in an interview with week with WDAF-TV.
They claimed that Loyal Grandstaff was told by his teacher that he couldn’t read the book after he brought the Bible in and silently studied it during free time.
“I feel like it violated his freedom of religion but also his freedom of speech,” Justin Grandstaff, the 12 year old’s father, told WDAF-TV.
Loyal said that he wasn’t being loud and that he wasn’t sharing the book with his peers at the time.
A voicemail left for the assistant news director at WDAF-TV has not yet been returned to TheBlaze.
Front page image via Shutterstock.com
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska’s highest court tossed a lawsuit Friday challenging a proposed route for the Keystone XL oil pipeline, saying the landowners who sued didn’t have legal standing to do so.
The closely watched Nebraska Supreme Court decision could remove a major roadblock for the $7 billion cross-continental project that Republicans have vowed to make a key part of their 2015 agenda in Congress.
In a split-decision, the court ruled that the three landowners who sued the state failed to show they had legal standing to bring their case. Four judges on the seven-judge court agreed that they did have legal standing, but because the case raised a constitutional question, a super-majority of five judges was needed.
“The legislation must stand by default,” the court said in the opinion.
The lawsuit challenged a 2012 state law that allowed the governor to empower Calgary-based TransCanada to force eastern Nebraska landowners to sell their property for the project. A lower court had sided with the landowners, who said that power resided with the Nebraska Public Service Commission, which regulates pipelines and other utilities.
The proposed 1,179-mile pipeline would carry more than 800,000 barrels of crude oil a day from Canada to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast, passing through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma along the way.
The newly empowered Republican-led Congress is moving ahead on approving the project, with the House scheduled to vote on Friday. The Senate is expected to finish the bill by the end of the month, setting up a showdown with President Barack Obama, who has threatened a veto.
The pipeline needs presidential approval because it would cross the U.S.-Canada border.
Environmentalists and other opponents argue that any leaks could contaminate water supplies, and that the project would increase air pollution around refineries and harm wildlife. But the GOP, oil industry and other backers say those fears are exaggerated, and that the pipeline would create jobs and ease American dependence on oil from the Middle East. They note a U.S. State Department report raised no major environmental objections.
TransCanada has said that if the Nebraska Supreme Court invalidated its proposed route, it would reapply through the Nebraska Public Service Commission, which currently includes four Republicans and one Democrat. Members are elected by district and generally take about seven months to approve or deny an application.
Members of the commission are elected by district and generally take about seven months to approve or deny an application.
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman opposed TransCanada’s original proposed route that crossed the environmentally sensitive Sandhills region, but he approved the project in 2012 after the company altered the pipeline’s path to avoid the Sandhills. Heineman noted that the proposal was reviewed by the Department of Environmental Quality, which is part of his administration.
When an Oklahoma family realized that two of the most expensive objects in their home were missing, they had a hunch that one of their dogs may have had something to do with it.
“I saw my dogs near the coffee table and remembered I’d left my wedding rings sitting on the table last night,” Stephanie Lamb told KMYT-TV.
Those rings? They were worth about $23,000. The two dogs, Tahoe and Sierra, were in trouble.
“When I got over there two were gone and she was going for the other two,” Lamb said.
When Lamb realized her own dogs had eaten the wedding ring and wedding band, she knew it had to have been Sierra: ”She’s just a little bit of a troublemaker.”
The family took the dog to the vet and sure enough, an X-ray revealed two objects inside the pooch.
But Dr. Rodney Robards of Southern Hills Veterinary Hospital, who performed surgery on Sierra, said the wedding rings weren’t the only objects the dog had been eating.
“There were rocks in there and some sticks or maybe bones,” Robards said.
While the dog went home on an empty stomach – as far as foreign objects are concerned – Lamb’s son, Brody, revealed he wasn’t as worried for the rings or for the dog as much as he was nervous about something else.
“I [thought] my mom and dad weren’t married anymore,” Brody said.
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Fox News host Megyn Kelly clashed with Catholic League president Bill Donohue over his controversial claim that French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo “provoked” Wednesday’s deadly attack with its mocking cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.
Kelly opened the segment by asking Donohue whether he believes the targeted cartoonists were brave.
“Do you really think they were not courageous in the face of death threats to be publishing what they did?” Kelly asked.
Donohue responded by stating that he, in fact, doesn’t find the cartoonists gallant, comparing them, instead, to pornographers.
“First of all they’re pornographers disguised as satirists,” he said. “We’re not talking about Mel Brooks, we’re talking about the functional equivalent of Larry Flynt going to print.”
Kelly pushed back, though, defending the cartoonists’ free speech and citing a 1988 Supreme Court case – Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell — in which Flynt’s First Amendment rights were upheld.
“I will make the point … people have a legal right to insult my religion or somebody else’s,” Donohue responded. “They don’t have a moral right to do so.”
He went on to say that he believes people are improperly looking at the issues surrounding the terror attack through a “unidimensional” lens, claiming that “freedom of speech is not an end — it’s a means toward an end.”
Kelly, though, again counted that she believes “it’s also an end.”
Donohue refused to back down, claiming that liberty can be lost when abuses of power and abuses of liberty unfold, adding his belief that “self-censorship is the friend of freedom.”
“But Bill, people have accused you of blaming the victim — that this is equivalent to blaming a rape victim for being dressed too provocatively, saying she brought it upon themselves,” Kelly fired back. “Just because they did something provocative doesn’t mean they invited what happened.”
In the end, Donohue said that the only people truly responsible are the “Muslim barbarians” who committed this particular crime — individuals whom he called a “threat to liberty,” though he said he’s tired of narcissism when it comes to the arts.
Watch the clash unfold below:
As TheBlaze previously reported, Donohue’s comments, which were issued just hours after Wednesday’s attack, have sparked intense controversy.
In a statement titled, “Muslims Are Right to Be Angry,” Donohue condemned the killings, but also said Charlie Hebdo’s “intolerance” of religious figures is what prompted the attack. Twelve people were killed after masked gunmen stormed the publication’s offices in Paris.
“Killing in response to insult, no matter how gross, must be unequivocally condemned. That is why what happened in Paris cannot be tolerated,” the statement opened. “But neither should we tolerate the kind of intolerance that provoked this violent reaction.”
Read his comments here.
President Barack Obama said Thursday that his administration has reduced the budget deficit significantly over the past few years — a boast that conveniently leaves out several key details about how the deficit rose so quickly under Obama, and how it really fell.
“We’ve done all this while cutting our federal deficit by about two-thirds,” Obama said Thursday in Arizona. “And I’m going to repeat that, because they did a poll the other day and like 70 percent of the people think the deficit is going up.”
“The deficit has gone down by two-thirds since I was President of the United States,” he said. “So we’re doing all this in a fiscally responsible way.”
The White House repeated that boast in a tweet showing that “the deficit has gone down by two-thirds”:
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) January 8, 2015
Here are seven key facts the White House is leaving out when it talks about the deficit:
1) The Annual Budget Deficit is Falling, but It’s Still Big, and It’s Still Adding to the Total National Debt.
The budget deficit is the amount that the government spends over its annual collection of taxes. Yes, it has fallen — it was $1.4 trillion in 2009, and was $483 billion in 2014.
But that $483 billion is huge. For example, it’s just a bit lower than the entire Defense budget for the current fiscal year. And that still adds to the national debt, which now stands at $18 trillion.
2) Obama’s Lowest Budget Deficit is Still Higher Than George W. Bush’s Biggest Deficit.
President Bush was seen by many as a big spender who squandered a rare budget surplus. But according to the Office of Management and Budget, Bush’s highest annual budget deficit was $458 billion.
That’s still $25 billion less than Obama’s lowest deficit: $483 billion in the just-finished 2014 fiscal year, and several years into what Obama himself has called an economic recovery.
So for all of Obama’s boasting this week, Obama still hasn’t managed to preside over a deficit that’s lower than Bush’s highest deficit.
3) Real Credit for the End of $1 Trillion-plus Budget Deficits Belongs to the End of the Great Recession, and Renewed Republican Pressure to Keep Spending Down.
Bush and Obama together created the huge, $1.4 trillion deficit that emerged in 2009, thanks to the bank and auto bailouts under Bush, and the huge stimulus and extended auto bailouts under Obama.
As the crisis receded, it was House Republicans that finally forced some spending reductions through passage of the Budget Control Act. That pressure from the House led to reduced overall spending for two years in a row, in 2012 and 2013.
That, combined with a growing economy and growing tax revenues over those years, nearly cut the budget deficit in half by 2013.
4) Obama Was Opposing Those Spending Reductions Year After Year.
While House Republicans were putting their foot down on spending, Obama was proposing even more spending in his annual budget proposals.
Since 2011, Obama has proposed spending between $3.7 and $3.8 trillion each year, more than $200 billion more per year than what was actually spent in those years. Those proposals fly in the face of Obama’s boast that his own actions are helping to reduce the deficit.
A few of Obama’s budget proposals received votes in the House and were rejected unanimously, by both Republicans and Democrats.
5) Obama Has Rejected GOP Proposals to Eliminate the Deficit and Start Paying Down the Debt.
In 2012, when some Republicans were proposing a plan to balance the budget in 10 years, GOP members argued that none of Obama’s plans would ever balance, and that Obama was rejecting any attempt to finally balance the budget.
That charge is confirmed by Obama’s own budget documents. His budget proposal for 2015 foresees deficits that average $500 billion per year for the next decade, a recipe for adding $5 trillion more to the national debt over that time period.
That assumes very optimistic increases in tax receipts that Obama assumes would increase $200 or $300 billion per year.
6) Other Analysts Say the Deficit is About to Get Worse.
About those optimistic estimates on tax receipts? They’re not shared by the Congressional Budget Office.
CBO says the government will collect $40.2 trillion over the next decade, not the $43.8 trillion Obama anticipates.
And that means annual trade deficits that won’t stay in the $500 billion range, as Obama hopes. Instead, CBO sees the deficit rising again to more than $600 billion by 2019, and nearly $1 trillion by 2024.
7) Total National Debt Will Nearly Double Under Obama.
When Obama took office, the national debt was $10.6 trillion. As of January 2015, it stood at just over $18 trillion.
If the budget deficit stays around $500 billion a year for the next two years, as expected, total debt will exceed $19 trillion by the time Obama leaves office.
Story by the Associated Press; curated by Oliver Darcy.
PARIS (AP) — With explosions and gunfire, French security forces ended a three-day terror rampage around Paris, killing the two al-Qaida-linked brothers who staged a murderous rampage at a satirical newspaper as well as an associate who seized a kosher supermarket to try to help them escape.
It was the worst terror spree France has seen in decades. At least seven people were killed Friday – the three terrorists and at least four hostages – just days after 12 people were massacred in the newspaper attack Wednesday. Sixteen hostages were freed Friday, one from the printing plant where the two brothers were holed up and 15 others from the Paris grocery store.
The fate of a fourth suspect – the wife of the supermarket attacker – remained unclear and Paris shut down a famed Jewish neighborhood amid fears that a wider terror cell might launch further attacks. France’s interior minister warned his shaken nation to remain “extremely vigilant.”
The four attackers had ties to each other and to terrorism that reached back years and extended from Paris to al-Qaida in Yemen. They epitomized Western authorities’ greatest fear: Islamic radicals who trained abroad and came home to stage attacks.
Said and Cherif Kouachi, the brothers who attacked the Charlie Hebdo satirical weekly, came out with their guns blazing Friday evening after an all-day hostage siege at a printing plant northeast of Paris, a French police official said. They were killed and their hostage was freed, authorities said.
An accomplice, Amedi Coulibaly, took hostages Friday afternoon at a kosher grocery in the Porte de Vincennes neighborhood in Paris – then died in a nearly simultaneous raid there, said Gael Fabiano of the UNSA police union. Coulibaly had threatened to kill his five hostages if French authorities launched an assault on the two brothers, a police official said.
A French television news network spoke directly with two of the terrorists Friday before they died. BFM television said it spoke with Cherif Kouachi as he and his brother were cornered near Charles de Gaulle airport and he told the station they were financed and dispatched by al-Qaida in Yemen.
The station also said it spoke with Coulibaly, who said the three men were coordinating and that he was with the militant Islamic State group. The organizations are normally rivals.
France has been on high alert since the Charlie Hebdo massacre left 12 people dead. The next day, a gunman shot a policewoman to death in a gunfight just south of Paris. Police later identified the gunman as Coulibaly, who had been a co-suspect with Cherif Kouachi in a court case involving terrorism that never made it to trial.
The Kouachi brothers led police on a chase around northeast France, robbing a gas station Thursday and stealing a car Friday morning before seizing hostages at a printing plant in Dammartin-en-Goele, a small industrial town near Charles de Gaulle airport.
Friday afternoon, explosions and gunshots rang out and white smoke rose outside as a police SWAT team clambered onto the roof. Audrey Taupenas, spokeswoman for the town near the Charles de Gaulle airport, said the brothers had died in the clash.
“They said they want to die as martyrs,” Yves Albarello, a local lawmaker inside the command post, told French television station i-Tele.
Trying to fend off further attacks, the Paris mayor’s office shut down all shops along Rosiers Street in the city’s famed Marais neighborhood in the heart of the tourist district. Hours before the Jewish Sabbath, the street is usually crowded with shoppers – French Jews and tourists alike. The street is also only a kilometer (half a mile) from Charlie Hebdo’s offices.
At the kosher grocery near the Porte de Vincennes neighborhood in Paris, the gunman burst in shooting just a few hours before the Jewish Sabbath began, declaring “You know who I am,” the official recounted. The attack came before sundown when the store would have been crowded with shoppers.
Paris police released a photo of Coulibaly and his wife, Hayet Boumddiene, who the official said was his accomplice.
Several people wounded when the gunman opened fire in the grocery store were able to flee and get medical care. One hundred students were locked down in nearby schools and the highway ringing Paris was closed.
Cherif Kouachi, 32, was convicted of terrorism charges in 2008 for ties to a network sending jihadis to fight U.S. forces in Iraq.
A Yemeni security official said his 34-year-old brother, Said Kouachi, is suspected of having fought for al-Qaida in Yemen. Another senior security official said Said was in Yemen until 2012.
Both officials spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of an ongoing investigation into Kouachi’s stay in Yemen.
Both brothers were also on the U.S. no-fly list, a senior U.S. counterterrorism official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss foreign intelligence publicly.
The satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo had long drawn threats for its depictions of Islam, although it also satirized other religions and political figures. The weekly paper had caricatured the Prophet Muhammad, and a sketch of Islamic State’s leader was the last tweet sent out by the irreverent newspaper, minutes before the attack.
Eight journalists, two police officers, a maintenance worker and a visitor were killed in the newspaper attack, including the paper’s editor. Charlie Hebdo plans a special edition next week, produced in the offices of another paper.
Authorities around Europe have warned of the threat posed by the return of Western jihadis trained in warfare. France counts at least 1,200 citizens in the war zone in Syria – headed there, returned or dead. Both the Islamic State group and al-Qaida have threatened France, home to Western Europe’s largest Muslim population.
How the story unfolded live:
Fox News host Bill O’Reilly invited a pair of individuals representing Muslim organizations onto his program Thursday night to discuss terrorism in the wake of the Paris attack against a satirical newspaper — and a shoutfest ultimately ensued.
Leading into the segment, O’Reilly delivered a monologue arguing that it’s time to stop making excuses for Muslim nations that don’t seriously fight Islamic jihad.
WATCH: O’Reilly’s ‘Talking Points Memo’: Stop Making Excuses for Muslim Nations That Don’t Fight Jihad:
He then asked CAIR’s Hussam Ayloush and the Muslim Public Affars Council’s Harris Tarin for reaction to his talking points memo.
“It’s not just that there are Muslims in Pakistan doing nothing — there are Muslims on the front lines in Iraq, in Syria, in Afghanistan, in Pakistan who are dying,” Train said.
“No, no, no, Mr. Tarin,” O’Reilly immediately interjected.
“Let me answer, let me answer,” Tarin countered.
WATCH: O’Reilly Invites Guests Onto His Program to Discuss How to Deal With Terrorism:
“That’s bull,” O’Reilly replied. “No, Mr. Tarin. Here’s the deal on the ‘No Spin Zone.’ When you say something that’s ridiculous, I’m going to interrupt you!”
“Here’s the deal on the ‘No Spin Zone.’ When you say something that’s ridiculous, I’m going to interrupt you!”
O’Reilly then expressed outrage that Pakistan harbored Osama Bin Laden for years without facing any punishment.
“I agree with you, allow me to finish,” Tarin responded.
“So we haven’t done anything to Pakistan for doing that!” O’Reilly shouted.
Tarin said that there have been 50,000 Muslim policemen and soldiers who have died fighting terrorism and contended that Muslims are the “primary victims of terrorism” on the front lines.
“That makes it even worse that the governments won’t move against the jihadists,” O’Reilly said, before then asking Ayloush about what the U.S. and Muslim nations are doing to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
“Until we are serous in committing and supporting democracy in that region, we are not going to see change,” the CAIR executive answered.
“What does that mean?” O’Reilly asked. “You want to invade the country?”
“No, not invade the country. You know, for the past many years, people in that region have struggled against the dictatorships. Against the repressive regimes in that area. They’ve paid with their own blood to fight extremism,” Ayloush said.
O’Reilly countered contending that if the people in Iran really wanted democracy, they should rise up and “kill the mullahs.”
“Well, I’ll give you another example, Bill,” Ayloush said. “People in Egypt tried to have a democracy and what did we do? We supported a coup.”
“We supported a coup against the Muslim Brotherhood who were massacring Christians!” O’Reilly interjected.
“We supported a coup against democracy,” Ayloush insisted.
At that point, O’Reilly grew visibly frustrated.
“You had a Muslim Brotherhood massacring, massacring Christians!” he shouted. “Don’t you get the Muslim Brotherhood? Do you get them at all? Do you get them? Do you get the Muslim Brotherhood? Do you get them? They murder people!”
Shortly thereafter, the segment ended without O’Reilly finding agreement with his guests.
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When Katherine Kropas went to bed the night before, she never guessed the next day would unfold like it did. That’s because she didn’t know she was pregnant.
The Massachusetts woman told USA Today that she woke up with sharp pains in her stomach.
“I felt like I was getting stabbed in my lower back,” the 23-year-old said. “I have a high tolerance for pain, but this was like a 9 on a scale of 10.”
Kropas went to South Shore Hospital’s emergency room where she was admitted and underwent a day of tests — all with her boyfriend by her side.
At first, doctors told her blood tests indicated she was about five weeks pregnant. That didn’t stun the 23-year-old.
“I noticed my ankles were swollen and there was a bit of blood. I had no idea I was full-term, though,” she told USA Today.
Later that night, however, nurses made a startling discovery: Kropas was nine centimeters dilated and ready to give birth to a baby.
Less than one hour later, her girl — named Ellen Olivia Keefe — was born through an emergency C-section.
“It’s been an exciting couple of days, but it’s tiring. At this point it might as well be a meet and greet,” she told USA Today. “People come by saying, we knew each other freshman year of high school, and I’m like, OK.”
The 23-year-old said marriage and baby showers are likely to come next.
“No need to rush anything else at this point,” Kropas said.
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Things began in a decidedly mundane manner: A basketball player from Turkey squad Banvit shot a free throw during a game with host Buducnost Podgorica of Montenegro during the EuroCup Wednesday.
But things got interesting when a fan ran onto the court…
…and shoved visiting Banvit player Sammy Mejia from behind, the New York Post reported.
What you might expect happened next: Banvit player E.J. Rowland sprinted toward the action from further back on the hardwood and cocked his right arm:
Rowland then proceeded to smash it into the trespasser’s back, knocking him face-first into an open area behind the backboard:
For whatever reason players from Buducnost immediately got in Rowland’s face — were they actually siding with the home-team fan who ran onto the court?
It became a mini melee from there with coaches, officials and players riding a human wave of pushing and shoving around the back of the court until order was restored.
Rowland — a California native and former point guard at St. Mary’s — explained his motivation on an Instagram post, noting the danger he and his teammates sometimes face when security isn’t up to snuff:
First of all, I’d like to say that I don’t condone violence on or off the basketball court but we are men before we are athletes. We travel to foreign countries in the name of sport while depending on the host organizations to provide proper protection. A lot of these gyms have less security than necessary to handle the amount of fans so we are vulnerable if someone decides to attack us. We are on the road and in unfamiliar territory while dangerously outnumbered. I spend more time with my teammates than I do my natural family in America so we build bonds and become close. I don’t believe any of my teammates would let something happen to another if he had the opportunity to stop it. We all hear stories about teams being attacked by “fans” and having to protect themselves. It should be known that the “fan” blindsided my roommate/team captain Keith Simmons before he got to Sammy Mejia. Keith has degenerative discs in his back. He constantly gets therapy just so he can play in the games. The attacker could’ve ended his career or worse if he hit him the wrong way. How are we (the players) penalized for protecting ourselves? A man runs on the court and assaults two of my teammates and we are supposed to do nothing? The “fan” could’ve had a weapon and seriously injured us or worse. I apologize that the event happened but not for my actions in response to the “fan.” These occurrences can be stopped before they even happen. This should show the necessity of proper security. Events like this ruin the game.
Check it out:
It only took nine words from Bill Cosby Thursday night to draw “loud gasps” from an audience.
Cosby, performing in Canada, made a joke as one woman left the crowd to get a drink.
“You have to be careful about drinking around me,” he said, according to multiple reports.
Woman at Cosby London show leaves – Cosby address her, she says something (not audible). Cosby:"you have to be careful drinking around me"
— Angie Seth (@kateygoalie) January 9, 2015
Member of audience asking cosby if he drinks. #cosby says u need to be careful drinking around me. Woman walks out
— Kerry McKee (@kerrymckee50) January 9, 2015
The apparent joke, which comes on the heels of Cosby being accused by multiple women of sexual assault, resulted in “loud gasps from the audience,” according to Richard Warnica, a reporter for the National Post.
"You have to be careful about drinking around me," Cosby just said to a woman in the crowd. Loud gasps from the audience.
— Richard Warnica (@richardwarnica) January 9, 2015
Warnica later added that the gasps ultimately morphed to cheers.
Following the joke, a heckler apparently accused the comedian of being a “rapist.” That man was escorted out by security.
Security just pulled a man out of the crowd in London. "You are a rapist!" he yelled at Cosby on the way out.
— Richard Warnica (@richardwarnica) January 9, 2015
— Ashton Patis (@AshtonPatis) January 9, 2015
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The Huffington Post, along with several other major websites, displayed advertisements laced with malware in late December through early January, according to an Internet security company.
According to cyber-security firm Cyphort, their labs detected an infection on Huffington Post Canada on Dec. 31 that was confirmed on the main U.S. edition of the news website on Jan. 3.
The ad, from an AOL ad-network, was displayed and ultimately directed users to an “exploit kit” that deployed a trojan virus.
Once installed, the virus disables the user’s ability to use his or her keyboard and mouse, then flashes a pop-up claiming to be from law enforcement saying the person has recently viewed child pornography. To unlock the computer, it demands the user pay a fine.
LA Weekly, FHM, Weather Bug, The Indy Channel and Houston Press were all found to be hosting the malware-laced ads recently, according to Cyphort.
AOL spokesman Gerasimos Manolatos told CNN that they “quickly took the necessary steps to rectify,” adding “AOL is committed to bringing new levels of transparency to the advertising process, ensuring ads uphold quality standards and create positive consumer experiences.”
Manolatos would not, however, reveal to CNN how many computers were exposed to the ads.
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Fox News host Greg Gutfeld ripped into the U.S. media during Thursday’s episode of “The Five” over its coverage following the deadly terror attack in Paris.
Citing safety and sensitivity concerns, many outlets chose not to publish the controversial cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad that were produced by French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.
Gutfeld was incensed.
“What’s stupid is cowering out of fear of DBM — or death by Muslim,” he said during a monologue lasting more than two minutes.
“That’s why saying we are all Charlie is a lie,” Gutfeld continued. “We are not all Charlie, far from it. Instead of printing cartoons or challenging crazed Muslims the self-congratulatory media turns tail.”
The Fox News host skewered the media for showing the carnage following the attack, but not the cartoons which exposed “their sad, pathetic insecurities.”
“We took our cue from terror and now we are playing by their rules,” he said. “One of the dead cartoonists … once said, ‘I prefer to die standing than live on my knees.’ But if he had chosen his knees, he would have had a lot of company.”
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Is fracking causing earthquakes? That’s what Glenn Beck wanted to find out after a series of minor earthquakes rattled his studios in Irving, Texas. When Beck took to the Internet, he quickly found that a new study in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society co-authored by Michael Brudzinski seemed to support the theory that fracking was to blame.
Brudzinski appeared on Beck’s program Thursday, and said the reality is much more nuanced than many of the news articles reporting on his study suggest. Fracking does cause earthquakes, he said, but it appears to be in very limited circumstances.
“Our study shows, I think, a pretty definitive case where we could see that the earthquakes that took place in this part of eastern Ohio were very restricted in time, only during certain stages of the fracking operations,” Brudzinski began. “And it’s only the stages that were very close to what appears to be a pre-existing fault in the deep, old rock in that area.”
Brudzinski said there were “hundreds of other stages of fracking that didn’t produce earthquakes in that operation,” and that is important to consider because “it means the situation where we get earthquakes from fracking is really when you get very close, within about a half mile, of where those faults are.”
Beck said the media seems to be using the study as “ammunition” against fracking, leaving the public with the impression that “fracking causes earthquakes” with very little explanation of how or why. Brudzinski agreed, saying he would like to see more of an emphasis on how rare the earthquakes are.
“We’ve got tens of thousands of fracking operations that have not produced recordable earthquakes,” he said. “[In Ohio], we wanted to spend some close attention to this, try to understand what happened in this case. And it appears to be just that the fracking got very close to a fault that pre-existed there.”
But Beck noted that while his studios are very close to a fault line, there aren’t any fracking operations for miles.
“People are looking at this, they’re putting out better observatories to try and better understand where exactly these earthquakes are coming from in your area,” Brudzinski said. “But it’s not like there’s prevalent fracking operations in your area that we could point to and say, ‘those are suspicious.’”
Beck brought in a second expert, president of the Dallas Geological Society Mark Mathisen, who said there is a “distinct, major fault line that is right underneath Texas stadium” and though it’s been dormant, “faults do get re-activated.”
Mathisen said there need to be more studies on what is causing the earthquakes, and noted that some are already in progress and just need time to be completed.
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!
Story by the Associated Press; curated by Oliver Darcy.
DENVER (AP) — U.S. Olympic leaders surprisingly cast their future with Boston, hoping a compact, college-centric bid will overshadow the city’s organized protest group and convince international voters to bring the Summer Games to America after a 28-year gap.
During a daylong meeting at the Denver airport Thursday, USOC board members chose Boston, with its promise of frugality and lots of temporary and reusable venues, over Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington.
“Today’s selection by the USOC is the beginning of an incredible opportunity for Boston,” said Boston 2024 Chairman John Fish, who will be part of a celebratory news conference Friday in Boston with the USOC leadership.
Boston joins Rome as the only other city that has officially decided to bid. Germany will submit either Hamburg or Berlin, with France and Hungary among those also considering bids. The International Olympic Committee will award the Games in 2017.
America’s last two attempts to land the Games resulted in embarrassments — fourth-place finishes for New York (2012) and Chicago (2016).
The selection of one of the country’s most history-steeped cities comes as something of a surprise to insiders, who viewed Los Angeles as the safest choice and San Francisco as the sexiest. But a compact bid highlighted by a frugal spending plan outweighed doubts that surfaced because of the city’s organized protest group and less-than-perfect history in delivering big projects like the Big Dig.
“We’re excited about our plans to submit a bid for the 2024 Games and feel we have an incredibly strong partner in Boston that will work with us to present a compelling bid,” USOC Chairman Larry Probst said in a statement.
Boston focused on its ability to use the more than 100 universities throughout the area to house events and athletes.
It touted a walkable, technology-based Olympics and said as many as 70 percent of its venues would be temporary, and the schools would pay for many of the venues, then take them over after the Games.
Just as quickly as the celebratory statements were coming out, the protest group, No Boston Olympics, was revving up its own act, stressing that the state’s priorities should include safe communities, quality education and responsible environmental policies. No Boston Olympics was the only protest group picketing outside the USOC meeting where the cities made their presentations last month. At the time, Probst said everyone knew protests were part of the Olympic-bid process.
“An Olympics … threatens to divert resources and attention away from these challenges — all for a chance to host an event that economists say does not leave local economies better off,” a statement from the group said.
Featured image via U.S. Olympic Twitter account.
President Barack Obama will propose a plan to make community college free for students.
“What I’d like to do is see the first two years of community college free for everybody who is willing to work for it,” Obama said in a White House video posted online Thursday. “That’s right, for free for everybody who’s willing to work for it. It’s something we can accomplish and it’s something that’ll train our workforce so that we can compete with anybody in the world.”
Obama will lay out his full vision in a speech in Tennessee Friday.
The White House says the plan could save a full-time community college student about $3,800 a year and benefit about 9 million students annually. Under the proposal, students would have to keep a 2.5 grade point average and make progress toward getting a college diploma. Community colleges would have to offer programs that transfer to four-year colleges and universities.
The White House says federal funding would cover three-fourths of the average cost of community college; participating states would pick up the remaining quarter.
Arizona Sen. John McCain turned to Twitter Thursday night to slam President Barack Obama for failing to visit vets during his trip to Phoenix.
The veterans had lined up on the street in their wheelchairs outside the Veterans Affairs hospital at the center of the VA scandal to watch the president go by.
“Pres Obama’s motorcade rolls by #Phoenix VA today, but he refuses to stop & visit vets – sad,” McCain tweeted.
— William Pitts (@william_pitts) January 8, 2015
The senator, who ran against Obama for president in 2008, also released a statement about the incident.
“This morning, veterans in wheelchairs lined the sidewalk outside Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center in Phoenix and watched President Obama’s motorcade pass by without stopping on its way to Central High School, just around the block – one mile away,” McCain said.
“It is deeply disappointing that the president refused to take time to visit the veterans at the Phoenix VA, where the national scandal of mismanagement in VA health care first surfaced this spring,” he added. “There is much more work to be done to restore veterans’ confidence in the VA system responsible for their care, and a visit by the president would have made clear that it is a key priority.”
“Unfortunately, President Obama missed another opportunity to do right by those who have served and sacrificed on our nation’s behalf,” McCain concluded.
Earlier in the day, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus ripped Obama for skipping an opportunity to visit the Veterans Affairs hospital.
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