Can You Spot What’s Strange About This Live Weather Shot?Posted January 22, 2014 at 12:34 pm by Mike Opelka
Much of the Northeast is digging out from Tuesday’s big winter storm that dropped as much as 15 inches of snow from Washington, D.C. to Boston.
Weather events like this typically generate a flurry of local news reports where reporters take to the streets to provide graphic images of the snow and the havoc caused by intense storms. One such report gave us a “magic moment” that the on-camera talent never noticed.
She was video-bombed by a guy wearing a horse head mask.
It happened when a man — we assume it was a man — wandered through the snow and then walked completely out of the shot.
Aside from his headgear, the man did nothing to draw attention to himself. Then again, when you’re wearing a horse head mask, do you need to do anything else?
Watch the clip:
GOP Reps. Pushing to End ‘Double-Taxing by the Federal Government’Posted January 22, 2014 at 11:56 am by Elizabeth Kreft
A trio of Republican representatives are leading an effort to end what they call “double-taxing” of Social Security benefits.
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) introduced HR 3894, the Senior Citizens Tax Elimination Act, to do away with income taxes on Social Security benefits. Reps. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) and Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) supported the bill as original co-sponsors.
“Seniors have already paid tax on their Social Security contributions, so taxing Social Security is double-taxing by the federal government,” Massie said.
DeSantis echoed Massie’s sentiments in their joint statement: “[The bill] blows the whistle on the federal government for double-taxing the Social Security benefits of senior citizens. Individuals already pay taxes to support Social Security, so there is no reason why these earned benefits should be taxed on the back end.”
The GOP representatives argue the purpose of Social Security is “to provide people with financial support during retirement, not to be another source of tax revenue for the federal government.”
If the bill passes, Social Security benefits would neither be taxable nor reportable on individual tax returns, thus restoring the integrity of the program.
But Massie told TheBlaze in an email that he thinks the real challenge will be building enough support for the bill to bring it to a vote on the House floor.
“I suspect if I could get a vote on it, it would pass both chambers easily,” he said.
The freshman Kentucky representative said his inspiration for the bill was growing inflation.
“I saw the purchasing power of senior citizens on fixed incomes being eroded by inflationary monetary policy. I looked into the Social Security program and realized that benefits weren’t always taxed in the past, and realized that they shouldn’t be taxed now … [but] the Social Security trust fund is a tempting target for politicians looking for new sources of money to spend,” Massie said.
The Internal Revenue Service defines Social Security benefits as monthly retirement, survivor and disability benefits. They do not include supplemental security income (SSI) payments. IRS document 915, which explains the taxation on Social Security benefits, states:
If the only income you received during 2013 was your social security… your benefits generally are not taxable and you probably do not have to file a return. If you have income in addition to your benefits, you may have to file a return even if none of your benefits are taxable. If part of your benefits are taxable, how much is taxable depends on the total amount of your benefits and other income. Generally, the higher that total amount, the greater the taxable part of your benefits.
Massie, known for his stance supporting industrial hemp farming and for leading the charge in the House against government use of drones against American citizens, hopes the Senior Citizens Tax Elimination Act will be considered on the floor sooner rather than later. Massie’s staff confirmed other recent attempts at deleting the Social Security contribution tax have been referred to the subcommittee level, but no specific timeline has been set to take HR 3894 to the floor.
Follow Elizabeth Kreft (@elizabethakreft) on Twitter
Look Closely — What the Cop Is Doing in This Picture Has a Lot of People Talking about HimPosted January 22, 2014 at 11:45 am by Dave Urbanski
“It seemed like the right thing to do,” Cpl. Jeremy Walsh said. “I had something that somebody else needed that I didn’t need.”
That aptly sums up the intentions of the Odessa, Texas police officer and Army vet whose simple act of kindness was captured in a photo unbeknownst to him…and is now going viral.
Walsh approached a homeless man in town with whom he’s built a rapport, noted KEWS-TV in Midland, Texas. Walsh knew that the man, who goes by A.J., had been on the street for some time without footwear.
“From what he’s told me he was in Colorado for a good while,” Walsh told KEWS. ”He ended up getting frostbite and losing the front part of his feet.”
“He used to have some steel-toed Dockers,” Walsh added. “They ended up falling apart on him. Well, I have some boots that I never wear because they’re a size too small and they’re just collecting dust in my closet so I figured A.J. could use them a lot more than I could.”
Walsh didn’t realize that while he was giving A.J. his boots and a bottle of water, a woman inside a local restaurant noticed their interaction and took a photograph. It eventually ended up on the Facebook page for the City of Odessa and is now an Internet hit. Walsh told the Odessa American that the event happened two weeks ago.
It wasn’t easy getting A.J. — a “rugged” and “private” man — to accept the boots, Walsh told the Odessa American, adding that he sometimes becomes agitated when people try to “force” items on him.
They’ve known each other for a while, though, and Walsh said he eventually convinced A.J. to accept the boots — although on A.J.’s requested condition that he’ll pay Walsh back.
“He likes to do the one-for-one sort of thing,” Walsh told the Odessa American.
“I saw him today, he said, ‘I haven’t forgotten about ya.’ I said ‘It wouldn’t be a gift if we were trading bro,’” Walsh added to KEWS.
For A.J.’s part, he told KEWS that he’s grateful for the officer’s actions but is concerned the attention the photo has been getting is keeping Walsh from his regular duties.
TheBlaze contacted the restaurant from where the photo was taken. Owner Gail Kimbrell, whose daughter Ronda snapped the pic, said “we’re all worried sick over” A.J. The temperatures Wednesday night into Thursday morning are predicted to head below freezing, with wind chills making it feel below 20 degrees. But A.J. has always declined to move.
“I don’t know what we were gonna do,” Kimbrell told TheBlaze. “He refuses to go anywhere.” Kimbrell’s daughter told the Odessa American that a local homeless shelter, the Jesus House, hasn’t been able to convince A.J. to accept any help.
Odessa police confirmed that they cannot force A.J. to move. “Our hands are tied,” a police spokeswoman told TheBlaze. “He’s not breaking law.”
Still, Kimbrell said, since the photo hit the Internet, she’s witnessed car after car coming up to A.J. “nonstop” and leaving items to help him out. “Packages of brand-new blankets,” she said. “My neighbor owns a bakery, and they’re feeding him…but he doesn’t want any attention.”
Kimbrell added that she knows that Walsh, the officer, was “embarrassed,” too, by the unexpected attention.
Still he is happy he can help.
“I’ve had a lot of supportive comments and pats on the back from the guys,” Walsh, who’s been with the department for two years, told KEWS. “Transients or homeless people, they’re still people. If I can help him or anyone else, I can and I will.”
Listen to What’s Being Called the ‘Most Beautiful Sound in the World’Posted January 22, 2014 at 11:05 am by Liz Klimas
A baby giggling. Leaves rustling in a warm summer’s breeze. A classical concerto.
All are delightful sounds, to be sure. But a recent Internet competition gave the designation of “most beautiful sound in the world” not to any of those, but to a recording of…a Malaysian swamp.
The competition was run through the U.K.-based Sound Agency and Beautiful Now, a site founded by Shira White where “people with a passion for beauty could discover, create and share beauty in all aspects of life.”
Sound Agency expert Julian Treasure described the winning sound to CBC Radio as “the most amazing, rich recording of just life, teaming life.” He later called it “a symphony of life just expressing itself.”
The swamp sound, titled “Dusk by the Frog Pond,” was recorded by Marc Anderson with Wild Ambience. Perception of a sound and beauty are subjective, so take a listen and see if you think it’s the most beautiful sound in the world:
In an interview with Treasure, Anderson said he came upon the swamp on a Malaysian island in the late afternoon. Anderson, a professional sound recorder and photographer, said what he likes about sound is that it captures a feeling that an image cannot.
“With sound you…you can’t fake it. It really has that evocative power to transport you somewhere,” said Anderson, who uses omnidirectional microphones to capture his recordings.
Listen to Anderson talk with Treasure about the swamp sounds:
This recording was chosen from hundreds of entries narrowed down to 12 finalists. Final judges included Treasure with the Sound Agency, White with Beautiful Now and and sound recording artist Bernie Krause.
Maryland Lawmakers Finally Consider Repealing So-Called ‘Rain Tax’Posted January 22, 2014 at 10:50 am by Becket Adams
Maryland lawmakers in 2012 passed a bill to levy a fine on anything that prevented rain water from reaching the earth (i.e. roofs, patios, etc.), meaning many state residents had no choice but to literally pay a tax on rain.
However, the measure has apparently proven unpopular enough that a few state lawmakers finally proposed some serious changes this week.
Snow storms all up and down the East Coast forced Maryland’s state government to close Tuesday, but not before several committees held hearings on legislation calling for a repeal or modification of the Storm Water Management Watershed and Restoration Program.
One of the proposed measures, according to WBAL-TV, suggested that the 10 jurisdictions affected by the rain tax law use their own general funds to curb runoff.
“If a local jurisdiction says we can fund that in our general fund budget, we don’t have to have a new tax. Why would we force them to have a new tax? This just gives flexibility to local governments,” said the bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Alan Kittleman (R).
Another bill called for a two-year moratorium on the implementation of the original rain tax.
“Some of the counties have received threatening letters and fines of up to $32,000 a day. So I want to kind of put a stop to that until we get a chance to see what [the Maryland Department of Environment] expects from each county,” bill co-sponsor state Sen. Barry Glassman (R) said.
But attempts to modify or overturn the rain tax may face an uphill battle. Storms on Tuesday kept supporters of the new measures at home — but supporters of the rain tax made sure their presence was felt at the hearings.
“Delaying the fee requirement, delaying enforcement just allows our local water quality to languish,” Chesapeake Bay Foundation affiliate Alison Propts said.
State Senator Mike Miller (D) lashed out at jurisdictions that have so far ignored the rain tax mandate: “You ought to look inside at the mirror and maybe help us all.”
There was no immediate reschedule date for other bills. Meanwhile, state Sen. Miller and Maryland House Speaker Michael Busch, a Democrat, both declared the repeal legislation “dead on arrival,” WBAL-TV reported.
The rain tax is the result of the Environmental Protection Agency ordering Maryland in 2010 to curb storm water runoff into the Chesapeake Bay, explaining that the state needed to reduce its nitrogen levels by roughly 22 percent and its phosphorus levels by 15 percent.
The EPA estimated that the project would cost roughly $14.8 billion. In response to this hefty price tag, Maryland lawmakers designed a tax that could be levied on all “impervious surfaces” (i.e. a rain tax).
Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter
Hannity Clarifes His Vow to Leave New York: ‘As Soon As…’Posted January 22, 2014 at 10:22 am by Jonathon M. Seidl
Sean Hannity has held a concealed carry permit in every state he’s lived. His hair is real. He has an extensive gun collection. He’s open to a running for office. And he’s “definitely” leaving New York. When exactly? Well, that was part of the discussion during his first ever “Ask Sean” segment on his TV show that allowed viewers to ask him anything they wanted.
When one viewer asked if he would ever run for office, Hannity said he’s actually open to it. That’s when he doubled down on his promise this week to leave New York after the governor of that state made some incendiary remarks about conservatives.
“I’m leaving New York, as you know,” he told Fox Business’ Dagen McDowell.
But then he clarified when that might happen.
“As soon as I can,” he assured. “There are logistical issues in terms of, I have a lot of people that work for me, I have kids in school. … So I’m gong to leave on my time frame. I have contractual obligations, obviously. But I will definitely leave New York.”
He also told Greta VanSusteren it will happen “some time probably when my son graduates from high school,” and described some of the other obligations as well as complaints he has:
You can watch the “Ask Sean” segment below for other revelations, but the talk of leaving New York starts around the five-minute mark:
Al Qaeda-Linked Cell Nabbed in Jerusalem, Accused of Plotting Three Attacks Including on U.S. EmbassyPosted January 22, 2014 at 10:03 am by Sharona Schwartz
Israeli intelligence services say they have uncovered an Al Qaeda plot that may have originated with terror leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri to target three sites including the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv.
The Jerusalem Post reported that the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, arrested three Palestinians from east Jerusalem who were recruited online by an Al Qaeda operative in Gaza.
Security officials said the three were preparing multiple large-scale bombings and shootings on the Jerusalem Convention Center, a bus traveling the route between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim (a settlement outside Jerusalem) and the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv. They said the men also planned to attack emergency responders arriving at the scene.
According to the Shin Bet, the three suspects were recruited separately as part of a plan orchestrated by the Gaza Al Qaeda activist, Ariv Al-Sham.
The Post quoted senior Shin Bet sources who said they believed the Gaza activist received his marching orders directly from Al Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahri.
One of the suspects, Iyad Khalil Abu-Sara, 23, was reportedly recruited via Skype and Facebook.
During his interrogation, he reportedly told police he had volunteered to carry out a “sacrifice attack” on an Israeli bus. The plan included firing at the bus’s tires with the intent of causing it to overturn. They then planned to gun down the passengers at close range and fire on emergency responders arriving at the scene, Israeli media reported.
The Shin Bet said that Abu-Sara also volunteered to plan suicide bombings of the Jerusalem Convention Center and the U.S. Embassy, which were to take place simultaneously.
The plan reportedly also involved placing a suicide terrorist in a truck loaded with explosives to be detonated with fire crews and paramedics arrived on the scene outside the Jerusalem Convention Center.
Abu-Sara and his Gaza counterpart were planning to recruit foreign jihadis to enter Israel using fake Russian passports and posing as tourists.
“Abu-Sara was meant to receive the terrorists, and prepare their suicide bomb vests and a truck bomb. Abu-Sara was also supposed to travel to Syria for training in combat and explosives manufacturing, and had purchased a flight ticket to Turkey, a gateway to Syria,” the Post reported.
In another plot, Rubin Abu-Nagma was arrested after confessing to plans to kidnap an Israeli soldier from Jerusalem and to set off a bomb near an apartment building in Jerusalem.
The third suspect, Ala Anam, confessed to engaging in internet communications with Al-Sham, the Gaza Al Qaeda operative and plotting to set up a Salafi-Jihadi cell in the northern West Bank to plan future terror attacks.
“Security sources noted with concern the swift process of recruitment and preparations that occurred online in the space of a few months. They added that Abu-Sara’s father was opposed to his son’s activities and warned him repeatedly after seeing his son surfing radical Islamist websites,” the Post reported.
Bikers on the Abortion Battlefield? Pro-Life Group’s Plan to Use Harleys to Send a Message to America’s Abortion ClinicsPosted January 22, 2014 at 9:38 am by Billy Hallowell
Harleys might soon be roaring their engines outside abortion clinics and at pro-life rallies across America amid concerted efforts to bring motorcyclists into the abortion debate.
As pro-life advocates plan to mark the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade with the annual March for Life rally in Washington, D.C., Wednesday, and as similar events unfold in cities across the nation this week, an activist in Texas has announced a unique initiative he’s launching to more deeply involve bikers in the pro-life movement.
Mark Crutcher, president of Life Dynamics, Inc., a Denton, Texas-based anti-abortion group, recently announced the founding of Bikers for Life, a project he hopes will lead to motorcyclists having a “presence in front of every abortion clinic in America.”
Crutcher, an avid biker since the age of 12, has been riding hogs for 53 years and is now looking to take that passion and fold it into his work at Life Dynamics — all for the sake of saving unborn babies’ lives.
“I have always had this belief that the biker community, from what I can tell, is pretty overwhelmingly pro-life,” he said in a statement announcing the project. “So I had this idea, sometime ago, about Bikers for Life, that we would try and bring these people into the movement.”
Crutcher told TheBlaze that there are two main reasons he launched Bikers for Life: to help change the pro-life movement’s image and to dramatically increase the size of the movement.
He believes that there are large groups of people in America who actually agree with the anti-abortion message but don’t feel they match the stereotypes and perceived view of what it means to be pro-life.
“The abortion lobby and the media have defined the pro-life movement as a collection of old, conservative, white, Republican, religious nut-cases,” Crutcher said. “Unfortunately, we often reinforce that stereotype and, in doing so, we keep our numbers artificially low.”
He said that personal experience has led him to believe that the biker community is actually more pro-life than the general public, making motorcyclists a perfect ally in fighting against abortion in America.
“Several factors drive this. First, by their nature, bikers tend to be politically conservative,” he added. “Second, bikers also tend to be an extremely patriotic group and, today, they are sensing that something is terribly wrong with out country and that, if changes are not made, we will soon be in an irreversible state of moral collapse. They also see the legalization of abortion as a symbol of that moral collapse.”
Crutcher continued, “Third, the typical biker abhors both cowardice and injustice, and the predominate feeling among them is that abortion is a textbook example of each.”
Bikers are already getting involved, with 91 motorcyclists who participated in the Dallas March for Life last weekend. And there are plans for more integration, as hog riders will be invited to take part in additional events across the nation.
One area where these individuals could become instrumental is outside abortion clinics, where Crutcher said they can “become the reinforcement troops for picketers.”
See video from the Dallas March for Life below:
“The clinics are the killing fields, and this is the place where God is calling the biker community into action,” he said.
Crutcher believes that the future of Bikers for Life has unlimited possibilities and that the project is poised for monumental growth. He hired a staff member at Life Dynamics devoted to heading up outreach, as the group is currently compiling a database of biker groups across the U.S. that it plans to reach out.
Featured image via Life Dynamics/Bikers for Life
Daredevil Jump-Biking Off ‘World’s Most Dangerous’ Road Ends…How You Might ExpectPosted January 22, 2014 at 9:06 am by Liz Klimas
A daredevil had quite the support team on hand for his “experiment” off Bolivia’s so-called “Death Road.”
For the stunt — to base jump from a bike off a cliff from what’s been called “the world’s most dangerous road” — the biker, identified only as Annon, had “logistical support, rescue support and medical contingencies.”
As you might expect, Annon ended up needing all three. Still, the daredevil’s injuries were surprisingly minor, compared to what they could have been and considering the road’s nickname.
“…yes, it’s as stupid as it sounds,” the Vimeo video title put it.
If you take a look at the point-of-view footage of his bike-launched jump, you’ll understand why organizers were so pleased about the small extent of his injuries. Here’s the shorter 38-second version:
“Unfortunately the jump didn’t go quite as well as planned as you will see in the video, however I am pleased to report that owing to all the advance rescue and medical support preparations we were able to extract the ‘crasher’ quickly, and he suffered only minor injuries, specifically as he puts it: ‘a broken arse, fractures in his forearm and cut tendons in his knee,’” Allistair Matthew with Gravity Bolivia wrote in the Vimeo description of the video.
In the video, the stunt is quoted as being “a fairly stupid idea…gone mildly wrong.”
This longer version shows more footage of the jump site, preparations and post-stunt rescue:
Matthew wrote that there is in fact a “more sane way to tackle the Bolivian Death Road,” videos of which are provided on Gravity Bolivia’s website.
Death Road, formally named Yungas Road, features a 11,800-foot descent for mountain bikers taking the traditional path (not base jumping off of it). It takes riders from snow-covered mountains down to the jungle.
Airport Cameras Capture Fiery Footage of Fatal Aspen Jet CrashPosted January 22, 2014 at 8:46 am by Elizabeth Kreft
New footage from this month’s Aspen, Colo., airport plane crash has been released, and the videos have already given investigators better insight into what may have caused the fatal incident.
In response to a Colorado Open Records Act request, the Aspen/Pitkin County airport released video of the jet crash that occurred on Sunday, Jan. 5.
The video was captured by five different cameras normally used by airport officials to monitor activity on the ramps, or aprons, outside the general aviation and commercial aviation terminals, Aspen Journalism reported.
Aspen Journalism reported:
In the upper left-hand corner of the video from Camera 1, it appears as if the engines on the Challenger CL-600 jet were revved up just before it was about to touch down.
On the audio recording of the communication between the pilots of N115WF and the airport control tower, a voice can be heard saying as the plane comes in for its final approach, “Go around, go around.”
The distressing videos even captured two men reacting to the crash, seen at the clip’s 1:50 mark. One man reacts to the shocking scene by kicking a nearby object.
The video feeds from five infrared cameras show the jet’s engines firing just before touching down. The plane then bounces hard off the runway and shoots back into the air for several seconds before crashing into the runway nose-first.
The jet bursts into flames after the hard impact, and the flames appear to have shot several hundred feet into the sky. The video also shows a rescue vehicle quickly responding to the crash.
Of the three pilots on board N115WF, one was killed and two were injured. One of the injured pilots was released from the hospital, and one remained in critical condition as of last week, the Aspen Daily News reported.
The initial National Transportation and Safety Board report gives some insight into the moments before the fatal crash:
According to preliminary information from the Federal Aviation Administration, the flight was in radio contact with ASE air traffic control (ATC). At 1210, N115WF utilized the localizer DME-E approach into KASE. ASE ATC reported winds as 290º at 19 knots, with winds gusting to 25 knots to the crew before landing. The crew executed a missed approach, and then requested to be vectored for a second attempt.
The camera feeds used to capture these shots are typically used to help airport operators keep an eye on aircraft ground traffic, including vehicles and people, so the shots are not pointed directly at the runway.
There is no audio in the clip, and the infrared cameras make heat appear as white light.
(H/T: Aspen Journalism)
Follow Elizabeth Kreft (@elizabethakreft) on Twitter.
‘You Never Think It’s Going to Happen to You’: One Woman’s Inspiring Story About Finding Her Passion During Battle With CancerPosted January 22, 2014 at 8:31 am by Liz Klimas
Girl goes to business school and then gets a MBA. Girl does a variety of jobs before deciding she really wants to follow her dream of going to fashion school. Girl draws up portfolio, gets into fashion school, starts the semester and … finds out she has cancer.
While this might sound like a quick draw up of a movie plot, it’s part of Karolina Zabawa’s [Za-bah-vah] life story.
Years ago, before Zabawa was ever even diagnosed with cancer, she learned to knit and began a scarf. She never finished it, but picking it back up again when she was traveling to doctors appointments, it led her to find her first “real passion in life.”
It’s a passion that’s now helping her pay medical bills.
Zabawa’s is a yarn that knits together the harrowing details many who have battled with cancer might find all too familiar: the “hangover” of chemotherapy; the challenge of being unable to work; the thankfulness of being insured but still seeing mounting bills; and the finding of a coping mechanism that is defining her future.
From MBA to FIT
In 2012, Zabawa moved from Philadelphia to New York City where her sister generously agreed to share her small, studio apartment so Zabawe, who’s in her late 20s, could follow her dream of going to fashion school.
Zabawa — who is comfortable talking about her life in only the way someone who has been through cancer can be — calls the period of her life before fashion school and before cancer a “dull but interesting” story.
She had done the whole Drexel-University-business-school-and-got-her-MBA thing. After graduation, she worked for Campbell’s soup for a while, worked in a hotel and for an attorney.
“I didn’t have an interest in what I was doing. I was just going day-to-day, and it was so dull,” Zabawa said. “I was always under impression that I blew it when I didn’t go to fashion school out of high school. I thought I would always be doing these blah jobs.”
Then something clicked — or snapped. She can’t quite put her finger on what it was that made her pick up a box of colored pencils after 10 years and put together a portfolio that, with a few sewing samples, would ultimately get her accepted into New York City’s Fashion Institute of Technology.
“When I was accepted [it] was the happiest days of my life,” Zabawa said.
When what you think never will happen to you…happens
Zabawa admits that when she headed to FIT for the winter semester last year, she wasn’t the most fit herself.
“I would sometimes eat a pint of Ben & Jerry’s for lunch,” she said.
Despite what might be considered poor eating habits, Zabawa was pretty trim, which she chalks up to a good metabolism.
In doing her due diligence and going to the doctor for a check up, he noticed her lymph nodes were swollen and referred her to a specialist. Like many, she assumed it was likely nothing and procrastinated. When she eventually went, she was told it was likely cancer — lymphoma — but they still needed a scan to be sure.
Sitting in some of her first weeks of classes she found she wasn’t thinking about designs and textiles. Instead, she was thinking “holy s***, I have to go in for a PET scan tomorrow to determine if it’s going to be cancer or not.”
Even while she was waiting for the results, Zabawa thought maybe it was just an infection or maybe it would “just go away,” but, then again, “you never think it’s going to happen to you,” she said.
And it did.
There’s a ‘best kind’ of cancer?
“If you’re going to have any kind of cancer, it’s the best kind to have,” Zabawa remembered her sister saying once she was diagnosed, specifically with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. “The survival rate is high.”
The hardest part was telling her parents. Sitting at their home in New Jersey, she could barely get out the words.
She thought one day she would have to tell her parents “Hey, I’m getting married. Hey, I’m having a baby.” There’s no way to say “Hey, I have cancer.”
“I never imagined myself in that situation at my age,” she said.
Once the words were forced from her hyperventilating mouth, there was no procrastinating. Zabawa said her parent’s jumped into “rescue me” mode. Following the suggestion of a doctor, they visited a woman who is like a “cancer coach,” someone who helps patients get through all the various stages of diagnosis and treatment.
The first thing Sharon Lee Parker said to Zabawa was “hello, and you will survive this and you will live through this.” Though Zabawa admits that she knew she would (that’s her personality), “it was nice to hear it from someone else.”
Zabawa had wanted to avoid chemotherapy, but looking into holistic medicine, which doesn’t have as much scientific backing and isn’t covered by insurance, she settled for the treatment that pumps cancer-killing drugs into the body.
While chemotherapy didn’t come with the symptoms Zabawa expected at first, as the regimen of treatments every two weeks from June 2013 through December, the side effects eventually began to take their toll.
For the first week after a treatment, Zabawa said all she wanted to do was sit on the couch. TV wasn’t entertaining and being around people didn’t help.
A girl at the same fashion school, who had gone through treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, told her treatment was like “having a hangover for six months.” Zabawa says that’s pretty accurate.
By the second week after treatment, she was feeling better. Then it would hit her; she had to do it all over again a day or so later.
It started with a scarf that’s still not done
Years before she was ever diagnosed with cancer, Zabawa began knitting a scarf. It was simple, small but incomplete when she picked it up again on train trips to and from New York City to Hackinsack, N.J., a trip she did before eventually moving in with her parents during treatment.
“I found knitting was very relaxing. It takes my mind off everything else going on,” she said.
Though she still hasn’t finished that scarf — it’s something she wonders if it ever will, or should, be finished — it found her a passion and release. She started by making a new scarf for her best friend. Others then began inquiring about her scarves and she began learning new techniques and patterns, filling orders for specific requests and making a bit of money in return.
“I loved it. It’s become an obsession,” she said. “Sometimes I don’t want to go to sleep because I have an idea in my head and I think, ‘I have to do this, I have to try this out.’
“I know what people mean when they have a real passion in life. You don’t want to stop, you don’t want to put it down.”
Zabawa started an Etsy site to show off some of her designs. Prices for scarves range from $65 up to $200, a cost that some, Zabawa acknowledged, consider steep. But most people she knows understands that it’s partially a fundraiser for her. She said revenue from her sales have helped with some medical bill co-pays.
When you consider that it could take up to three days for a unique, hand-made scarf, the price might not seem too much.
“People don’t realize that. They go to some designer store and willing to pay $500 for a designer scarf, but when it comes to someone making something at home, they think $100 is ridiculous,” Zabawa said. “When you make it by hand, it’s takes a lot of time.”
Overall, Zabawa said she feels fortunate to have her own insurance and some coverage through her school. Still, without a job and unable to work because she felt sick for at least two weeks out of the month during treatment, the bills were a stressor.
“I never stressed about health. I was, and still, am stressed about paying the bills,” she said.
But with her last treatment in December and a clean bill of health a week ago, Zabawa is ready to start coming up with a game plan to tackle them.
“I am cancer free,” she said.
In the fall, Zabawa is re-enrolled at the Fashion Institute of Technology. As for the scarves, they’ve led Zabawa to consider focusing her studies on knitwear.
“I live for the moment, and I’m not really concerned about the future,” Zabawa said “I know it’s going to be good. Whatever I do I’m going to be happy. That’s what matters.”
This story has been updated.
British Paper: U.S. Is Secretly Funding Syria Rebels Fighting Al-QaedaPosted January 22, 2014 at 7:54 am by Sharona Schwartz
As diplomats from around the world gathered for the Syria peace conference known as Geneva II, a British newspaper reported that the U.S. is secretly backing rebels fighting against Al-Qaeda linked militants in the embattled country.
The Daily Telegraph – quoting unnamed diplomats and rebels – reported Tuesday night that the U.S. government, in coordination with Persian Gulf countries, is now providing “friendly” rebels with millions of dollars in cash as well as non-lethal aid for their fight against jihadi militants who aim to turn Syria into a sharia state.
The Telegraph reported:
As Western leaders publicly push the Syrian regime and the opposition to the Geneva II peace conference that begins Wednesday Washington has also been quietly supporting moves by Saudi Arabia and Qatar to give weapons and cash to rebel groups to fight al-Qaeda’s Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (ISIS) [also known as ISIL] in Syria.
One source said the US was itself handing out millions of dollars to rebel groups best equipped to take on the extremists while another confirmed America was providing non-lethal aid.
The British paper characterized this development as “a new phase in the conflict” in which international backers are “working directly with rebel commanders to target al-Qaeda cells.”
Both the U.S. government and European states have domestic interests in controlling the raging jihad, as thousands of foreigners, including Muslims from the West, have flocked to the war zone to join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) for frontline terrorist training. Britain and France in particular have warned of returning militants who could target their home countries.
The militants have stated their objective of imposing strict Islamic rule both in Syria and in neighboring countries including Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan.
An unnamed commander of a rebel group affiliated with Syria’s Western-backed Supreme Military Council said, “Everyone is offering us funding to fight them,” that is, the ISIL militants.
Referring to the two-pronged goal of the more moderate Syrian rebels who now have government troops and ISIL cells in their crosshairs, the commander said, “We used to have no weapons with which to fight the regime, but now the stocks are full.”
In late December, the Telegraph reported, U.S. and Saudi officials met with senior Syrian rebel leaders in Turkey.
Two sources verified that the discussion focused on fighting ISIL. “The Americans encouraged the commanders to attack,” one source told the Telegraph.
“The Syrian Revolutionary Front, whose main commander, Jamal Maarouf, is allied to Saudi Arabia, and the Army of Islam, a new coalition of the moderate rebels sponsored by Qatar, have continued to liaise with the CIA and Saudi and Qatari intelligence, others close to meetings said,” the Telegraph wrote.
Another source who spoke on condition of anonymity to the paper described the aid coming from the Gulf: “Qatar sent arms first. Saudi Arabia didn’t want to be out done, so one week before the attack on ISIS, they gave 80 tons of weaponry, including heavy machine guns.”
A resident who lives in Idlib in Syria near bases for Army of Islam and the Syrian Revolutionary Front said he saw 15 trucks filled with weapons.
He claimed that while the U.S. did not provide the arms, it backed Saudi Arabia to help fund the groups and now gives a $2 million monthly cash handout to be split between western friendly rebel groups.
This story has been updated for clarity.
Did the Man Trying to Smuggle a Machine Gun Past an Israeli Checkpoint Really Think This Bag Would Hide It?Posted January 22, 2014 at 7:29 am by Sharona Schwartz
The Israel Defense Forces says that one of its units during a routine checkpoint search Tuesday night discovered a weapon hidden inside a Disney Princess backpack. Imprinted on the pink bag were the images of two of the cartoon princesses as seen in this photo that the IDF posted:
The IDF Spokesman said on its blog Wednesday morning that soldiers from the Kfir Brigade discovered the backpack with its contraband contents inside a vehicle being driven by a Palestinian.
IDF company commander Captain Sefi Mor said, “The driver aroused suspicion after a preliminary search.”
“He seemed anxious, so we decided to perform a comprehensive search of the vehicle,” Mor added.
Palestinians living in the West Bank frequently complain about the impact security checkpoints have on their freedom of movement. But the IDF Spokesman said, “Because of the high potential for terrorism and weapons smuggling, IDF forces stationed at the checkpoint are constantly on alert for threats. Last night [Tuesday], the same battalion detained another suspect who attempted to pass through the checkpoint.”
It further noted that more than a month ago, an explosive device was discovered being transported in a Palestinian vehicle.
Other weapons raids this week included uncovering “a large cache of weapons” in Hebron, which the IDF said included “an M-16 firearm, several weapons parts and about 8,000 bullets.”
A raid in Jenin unveiled “a military-grade explosive device, an Uzi firearm and ammunition.”
“We found the weapons in different hiding places, behind wardrobes and under drawers,” said Lt. Col. Roi Nahari, an IDF battalion commander. “We also discovered hiding places inside the walls of houses.”
States Taking Steps to Crack Down on Fraud From Obamacare ‘Navigators’Posted January 21, 2014 at 11:59 pm by Fred Lucas
After a congressional investigation found troubling information about the people hired to sign consumers up for Obamacare plans, state lawmakers are taking action to prevent fraud and identity theft.
Last week, bills were introduced by state legislatures in Arizona, Colorado and Virginia to subject all Obamacare “navigators” to beefed-up background checks eliminating anyone convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor involving fraud. State legislatures in South Carolina and Louisiana are also considering similar legislation, according to the Goldwater Institute, a conservative think tank that has monitored the matter.
“Having worked as a doctor for over 30 years, I believe that patient privacy is of paramount importance,” Colorado state Rep. Janak Joshi (R) said in a statement. “It’s outrageous that the government officials we trust to keep us safe would move forward with a program that lacks the most basic protections for Americans’ privacy.”
Navigators have access to Social Security numbers, health information and financial information of consumers they sign up for Obamacare insurance policies.
The report released last month by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee found several instances of problems plaguing the navigators. Among those:
• In North Carolina, a navigator grantee organization violated the rules for mailing documents on behalf of consumers.
• Navigators in Dallas were caught on video encouraging applicants to lie on their health insurance applications so the applicants could qualify for tax subsidies.
• Navigators were caught telling an applicant to lie about her smoking habit to get lower cost insurance. Another navigator gave a TV interview and told viewers that applicants’ credit scores would impact their eligibility, which was inaccurate.
More than 120 navigator grants have been issued in 34 states. Many have gone to liberal groups with ties to the organization once known as ACORN, according to the Goldwater Institute, including Southern United Neighborhoods and Structured Employment Economic Development Corporation.
As many as 31 states do not require background checks, according to a survey by the National Academy for State Health Policy.
National Review reported that in Connecticut, one navigator convicted of a class-B felony was permitted to work, while in New Mexico one in seven certified navigators is on the FBI’s criminal database. New Mexico caught and stopped several would-be-navigators charged with serious financial crimes, National Review reported, while 21 navigators applicants in Connecticut were flagged in background checks.
(H/T: National Review)
Follow Fred Lucas (@FredVLucas3) on Twitter
Watch Glenn Beck’s Takedown of NY Gov. Cuomo – Plus, He Tells Megyn Kelly His Biggest Regret From His Time at Fox NewsPosted January 21, 2014 at 10:59 pm by Jason Howerton
Appearing on “The Kelly File” Tuesday, Glenn Beck continued to rip New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo over divisive remarks he made about “extreme” conservatives having no place in the Empire State.
Beck, who recently penned an open letter to the New York governor, argued Cuomo is attempting to assert a certain position in his state, which continues to move to the far-left. He said there is a “hostile takeover” by the radical left in New York, with progressive Bill de Blasio taking the reins in New York City.
“It’s a position that’s going to leave him in the dust bin of history,” he told host Megyn Kelly. “He says he’s talking about politicians, but, OK. If we can’t have politicians who stand up for the Constitution, stand up because they have the point of view that you have the right to life as an unborn child. … Those two, in particular, those are essential for us to argue about and have debate about, especially in politics.”
As Americans, Beck continued, we need to decide if we can live alongside people who have different points of view. “If we can’t,” he added, “we’ve seen that road in the 20th century over and over again, and it doesn’t end well.”
Beck even went as far as to say Cuomo sounds an awful lot like the former governor of Alabama who told people who wanted to march with Martin Luther King Jr. and ride on the “Freedom Bus” to get out of town.
“Where would the disenfranchised of the world in history be if we didn’t have that pushback?” he asked.
Later in the segment, Kelly asked Beck to reflect on his time as a TV host at Fox News. His answer was a variation on one he’s given in the past.
Though he remembers the job being a lot of fun, Beck also revealed that he has some regrets about the way he handled himself on the air.
“I remember it as an awful lot of fun and that I made an awful lot of mistakes, and I wish I could go back and be more uniting in my language,” he said. “I think I played a role, unfortunately, in helping tear the country apart.”
“I didn’t realize how really fragile the people were, I thought we were kind of more in it together,” he added. “Now I look back and I realize if we could have talked about the uniting principles a little more instead of the problems, I think I would look back on it a little more fondly. But that’s only my role.”
Driver Hits a Newspaper Delivery Man on Bike… Then Continues Driving With Him Stuck in the WindshieldPosted January 21, 2014 at 10:30 pm by Oliver Darcy
A Wisconsin newspaper delivery man says a driver hit him while he was biking home from his route Saturday night and kept driving without noticing he was stuck in his car’s windshield.
Steven Gove, 56, told HTR News that he was suddenly struck by a 20-year-old man, despite wearing a neon reflective vest, after completing his newspaper route in Manitowoc.
Gove said the suspect surprisingly appeared to not even notice his presence in the windshield.
“Everything was in the car except for my knees and feet. I turned to him and said, ‘Hello, I’m the guy you hit on the bicycle,’” he said. “I had no idea at all why he wasn’t acknowledging me.”
The man finally noticed him blocks later — after striking another vehicle.
“He looked at me and said ‘Who are you? What are you doing in the car?’” Gove said. “He started freaking out: ‘I’m going to jail, I’m going to jail.’”
The driver then locked the doors and went home, leaving the 56-year-old forced to pull himself out of his car.
Police say the driver has been arrested and charged with suspicion of operating while intoxicated causing injury and hit and run causing injury, among other things, according to HTR News.
Gove now says he is consulting with his lawyer about the accident.
“I’m starting to get nauseous and a little dizzy when I get up. I’ve had a headache ever since I went through the windshield. The nausea and dizziness just started today,” he said.
“I have no malice toward him,” the 56-year-old added. “I hope he can get his life straightened out. He’s a young man. He deserves a second chance.”
Follow Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) on Twitter
Is This the Greatest Mug Shot Ever?Posted January 21, 2014 at 9:46 pm by Jason Howerton
A 27-year-old woman, who was arrested Monday after she lied to police about a car accident she was involved in, is in the running for the best mug shot ever.
Arena Arnold was arrested in Penfield, N.Y., for alleged criminal impersonation after she tried to say she was a passenger in the car when she was actually the driver. She was also reportedly intoxicated, investigators told the Victor Post.
She certainly appeared intoxicated in the mug shot photo she appeared in after she was taken to the Monroe County Jail. She remained in jail on Tuesday in lieu of $2,500 cash bail or $5,000 bond.
“Regardless of the outcome of the case, her bug-eyed, cross-eyed mug is one for the ages,” the Huffington Post notes. And we agree:
Meet the Fearless Woman Who Saved Countless Christians From Chinese Labor CampsPosted January 21, 2014 at 9:30 pm by Erica Ritz
Lisa Peng last saw her father at her seventh birthday party. In 2004, he tried to establish a safe haven for persecuted refugees in Thailand, where many Chinese refugees flee before heading elsewhere. But Peng said he was lured to Burma, where he was arrested by Chinese authorities and subsequently sentenced to life in prison and denied medical care for heart attacks, arthritis, malnutrition and kidney stones.
Peng is one of an enormous number whose friends and family have faced political and religious persecution in China. On Tuesday, Peng appeared on the Glenn Beck Program with husband-and-wife Bob and Heidi Fu, two other prominent Chinese refugees, to speak about the human rights crisis in China.
Bob Fu is well-known for his work as president of ChinaAid, an international non-profit Christian human rights organization. He is also the author of God’s Double Agent: The True Story of a Chinese Christian’s Fight for Freedom.
Heidi Fu described how — when her home in China was raided by the authorities — she palmed her small address book, filled with the names of hundreds of other Christians. If discovered, many of the contacts would likely end up in prison or the labor camps. As the authorities were searching her home, Heidi desperately tried to find a way to conceal the little booklet.
“It was early May in Beijing, it’s pretty chilly, so I ask them, ‘I need get a jacket from [the] closet,’” she recalled shakily. “So when I pick up clothes, I … [slipped] that address book in a pile of clothes…”
Heidi was in prison for two months, but was able to sneak a message to her brother, who was arrested at the same time but released much sooner. He was able to retrieve the book before the authorities could search her house and find it.
Bob Fu said China has jailed more “prisoners of conscience” than most other countries combined. He described Washington’s current attitude towards China as one of “appeasement.”
Many who have been targeted by the Chinese authorities aren’t just fighting for freedom in China, he argued, but for freedom worldwide in the 21st century.
“If China is free it’s not only a blessing to the Chinese people, I think it will be a tremendous blessing, and (more safe) and peaceful place, (for) the whole world,” he said.
The full episode of The Glenn Beck Program, along with many other live streaming shows and thousands of hours of on-demand content, is available on just about any digital device. Get it all with a FREE TRIAL.
This post has been updated.
‘They Put Principles Before Politics’: Some of the Best Reactions to the #IWantTheBlaze CampaignPosted January 21, 2014 at 9:15 pm by Erica Ritz
Glenn Beck’s multimedia network TheBlaze has undergone a sustained “Get TheBlaze” campaign in an effort to raise awareness and get picked up by more cable providers across the country.
Periodically, the network announces “days of action” when consumers are asked to call, email, and take to social media, asking their cable providers to add TheBlaze TV to their respective lineups.
On Tuesday, Americans across the country spoke out in response to the call to action — and the response was vast.
Fox News host Sean Hannity, illusionist/comedian/musician/actor/author Penn Jillete, and the National Rifle Association were among the many to tweet their support for TheBlaze:
According to TheBlaze’s social media manager Sara Johnson, the hashtag “#IWantTheBlaze” hit the number one non-promoted trend in the United States on Twitter during the most recent day of action.
While many have reached out to their cable providers, the response from the providers has been mixed. One Comcast representative reportedly told a customer that Comcast carries TheBlaze in other states, which is not true. A representative of another major cable company said he listens to TheBlaze every morning, and that he is being flooded with so many calls that it’s starting to make a dent in his commission-based salary.
TheBlaze reached out to Time Warner Cable, Comcast, and DIRECTV for an official response to the “day of action,” but Time Warner was the only cable provider to respond immediately. The network’s representative said she had nothing to add since we last inquired.
At the time, Time Warner representative Maureen Huff wrote in an email: “We’ve had discussions regarding carriage of (TheBlaze), but we don’t have an agreement.”
Lynne Costantini, President, Business Development at TheBlaze, concluded: “Our grass roots campaign has been effective, as evidenced by the fact that 50 TV providers have added TheBlaze since we kicked off our GetTheBlaze campaign less than a year ago. We are humbled by the support of our audience and their perseverance in making their voices and preferences known to those TV providers that have not yet launched TheBlaze. We’re not going to ease up until TheBlaze is available to millions more homes in America.”
This post may be updated.
Hearing-Impaired Little Girl’s Letter to Deaf NFL Player Is Full of Spelling Errors and Entirely AwesomePosted January 21, 2014 at 9:00 pm by Jason Howerton
Shortly after the release of an incredibly inspiring commercial featuring Seattle Seahawks fullback Derrick Coleman, who is legally deaf, a young hearing-impaired girl wrote a letter to the pro football player that is melting hearts.
The girl’s father reportedly tweeted out the letter on Tuesday morning. Take a look, it might just make your day:
And if you missed TheBlaze’s report on the outstanding Duracell ad featuring Coleman, we highly recommend you watch the viral video. As of Tuesday night, the video had already been viewed more than 8.6 million times.
(H/T: Bleacher Report)
It Only Took This Fugitive 45 Minutes to Do Two Really Stupid Things to Ensure His ArrestPosted January 21, 2014 at 8:30 pm by Jason Howerton
A fugitive in Pennsylvania gave police a hand in apprehending him on Monday night when he shared the Freeland Police Department’s status about him being a wanted criminal facing an aggravated assault charge and other charges. Officers had Anthony James Lescowitch in handcuffs just 45 minutes later.
After realizing Lescowitch, 35, had shared the police department’s status, an officer then pretended to be an “attractive woman” and messaged the fugitive, the Associated Press reports. Though he refused an offer to get a drink, Lescowitch did agree to smoke a cigarette with the fictitious woman.
The two agreed on a spot to meet and, when he arrived, Lescowitch was greeted by the boys in blue.
After the arrest, police posted this message: “CAPTURED!!!!!! SHARES OUR STATUS ON FACEBOOK ABOUT HIMSELF, CAPTURED 45 MINUTES LATER.”
Lescowitch, of Drifton, remained in the Luzerne County Jail Tuesday. Court records don’t list a defense attorney for him, but show he faces a preliminary hearing Jan. 29 on charges including aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and disorderly conduct stemming from an incident July 14.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Florida Republican in Deep Trouble for Agreeing President Obama Should Be Hanged for TreasonPosted January 21, 2014 at 8:00 pm by Becket Adams
A Republican candidate for the Florida House of Representatives is in hot water after he agreed Monday that President Barack Obama should be hanged for treason.
Joshua Black, an African-American, agreed to the idea of hanging the president after a Twitter user sent him the following public message: “I’m past impeachment. It’s time to arrest and hang him high.”
“Agreed,” Black tweeted in response.
A Republican candidate for the Florida House in a nearby district, Chris Latvala, was quick to denounce Black.
“[Y]ou aren’t seriously calling for the killing of Obama are you?” Latvala asked, adding that Black is an “embarrassment.”
Black remained defiant, explaining that Obama could only be executed after he has stood trial.
Black then took to Facebook to explain himself:
It wasn’t long before the local GOP chairman, Michael Guju, Republican Gov. Rick Scott and others joined Latvala in calling on Black to abandon his bid for congress.
“It is impossible to accept this statement,” Guju said. “This is wholly unacceptable and unduly provocative.”
“Joshua Black’s comments on President Barack Obama are outrageous,” Gov. Scott tweeted Tuesday. “Floridians expect more from our leaders and he should immediately withdraw his candidacy to represent families of Pinellas County.”
Black resigned Tuesday from a liaison position with the Pinellas County Republican Executive Committee, according to WTSP-TV. But he said he would not drop out of the race.
Republican Party of Florida Chairman Lenny Curry condemned Black’s tweet: “That garbage does not represent the values of the people I know whether R, D or I.”
Black said Tuesday that he has been paid a visit by the United States Secret Service.
Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter
These Pictures Show Why a University Frat Was Suspended for MLK Day PartyPosted January 21, 2014 at 7:30 pm by Liz Klimas
An Arizona State University fraternity was suspended, at least temporarily during an investigation, after it hosted an “MLK Black Party” that some deemed offensive.
According to KPHO-TV, those attending Tau Kappa Epsilon’s party wore basketball jerseys, threw up gang symbols with their fingers in photos and drank from mini-watermelons.
“I think this represents the ignorance that still exists today. This is just one example of the kind of things that occur here,” senior ASU student Kaajal Koranteng told the news station.
Fellow senior Frank Hogan told KPHO the party was inappropriate, especially for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
“[…] you really have no business dressing like this on a day that’s sort of revered for African-Americans,” he said.
In addition to the fraternity being suspended for now, the university’s statement said it would also take action “against the individuals involved.”
“ASU has one of the most diverse student bodies of any major university in the country, and it is unfortunate that a few misguided individuals held an offensive party at a time when ASU, the state and the nation are celebrating Dr. King’s achievements and legacy. The university will not tolerate this kind of behavior,” the statement continued, according to KPHO.
Watch the news station’s report:
The fraternity was already on social probation and not allowed to have parties, after only just being reinstated in December from a previous suspension. This party in particular was hosted off campus.
A representative with the fraternity’s national chapter is meeting with school officials this week to discuss what happened and any action that might be necessary as a result.
Mexican Couple Caught Carrying 96 Fraudulent Credit Cards, Arrested in Possible Connection to Massive Target Data BreachPosted January 21, 2014 at 7:22 pm by Becket Adams
McALLEN, Texas (TheBlaze/AP) — Two Mexican citizens who were arrested at the border used account information stolen during the Target security breach to buy tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of merchandise, according to a South Texas police chief.
But a spokesman for the U.S. Secret Service said Tuesday that an investigation is ongoing into the possibility of a link between the Target data breach and the arrests in Texas.
One day earlier, McAllen Police Chief Victor Rodriguez said Mary Carmen Garcia, 27, and Daniel Guardiola Dominguez, 28, both of Monterrey, Mexico, had used cards containing the account information of South Texas residents stolen from Target. Rodriguez said they were used to purchase numerous items at national retailers in the area including Best Buy, Wal-Mart and Toys R Us.
“They’re obviously selling the data sets by region,” Rodriguez said.
In an email, Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary said: “The U.S. Secret Service continues to work closely with affected parties and law enforcement to investigate the Target breach. In regards to the arrests announced yesterday, the Secret Service is working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and McAllen Police Department to determine if there is any connection.”
Garcia and Guardiola were both being held Tuesday on state fraud charges. It was not immediately known whether they had retained lawyers.
Rodriguez said he did not know whether these arrests were the first related to the Target breach.
Asked about the McAllen arrests, Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder said in an email Monday that the investigation was active and ongoing.
“I’d have to refer you to local law enforcement there for any questions about their community,” she said. The Minneapolis-based company said last week that it has stopped more than a dozen operations that sought to scam breach victims by way of email, phone calls and text messages.
McAllen police began working with the Secret Service after a number of area retailers were hit with fraudulent purchases on Jan. 12. The Secret Service confirmed that the fraudulent accounts traced back to the original Target data breach from December, Rodriguez said.
Investigators fanned out to McAllen-area merchants and reviewed “miles of video” looking for the fraudsters, he said. From that, they were able to identify two people and a car with Mexican license plates.
With the help of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, investigators confirmed the identities of their suspects from immigration records of when they had entered Texas in the same vehicle, Rodriguez said. Police prepared arrest warrants last week and waited for them to return.
On Sunday morning, federal officials alerted police the two were at the Anzalduas International Bridge trying to re-enter the U.S. They were carrying 96 fraudulent cards, Rodriguez said.
Investigators believe the two were involved in both the acquisition of the fraudulent account data and the production of the cards.
Rodriguez said investigators suspect Garcia and Guardiola were singling out Sundays for their shopping sprees hoping that the banks would not be as quick to detect the fraud.
He said he expected Garcia and Guardiola to eventually face federal charges.
The Target security breach is believed to have involved 40 million credit and debit card accounts and the personal information of 70 million customers.
Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter
There Really Isn’t a Cooler Way Than This to Arrive at a Football GamePosted January 21, 2014 at 7:00 pm by Oliver Darcy
Helmet footage posted to the Internet Monday shows the Denver Broncos Thunderstorm parachute team sky dive into last Sunday’s AFC Championship game.
The video, which has attained slightly over 20,000 views at the time of publication, shows the moments the team jumps out of the plane and concludes after they have successfully landed inside Sports Authority Field.
Individuals commenting on the video’s YouTube page appeared to find the footage riveting.
“Beautiful,” wrote one person.
“This is insane,” commented another.
Watch the video:
Follow Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) on Twitter
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