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  • Ex-Islamic State Hostage Stuns Family, CNN Reporter When Asked How He Feels About the Terrorist Group
    Posted October 4, 2014 at 5:28 pm by Dave Urbanski

    Comments (245)

    A Syrian Kurdish schoolboy kidnapped by Islamic State militants more than four months ago and released in the last few days told CNN he was “terrified” at first by his experience.

    He was taken with other kidnapped boys and entrenched in the Islamic State’s version of the Muslim faith, CNN said.

    Image source: CNN

    Image source: CNN

    They were forced to watch videos of beheadings and amputations and taught to pray at a mosque, he said.

    They also were taken to a school for questioning. The boy told CNN reporter Arwa Damon he was hit with cables but added that some got it worse. Electrocutions. Hangings from a ceiling.

    “When are they going to kill us?” he said he wondered. “Today? Tomorrow?”

    Then the boy said he found out “the truth” that the Islamic State doesn’t slaughter people without evidence — “only if they are infidels.”

    But when the reporter asked the boy what he thought about his terrorist captors, she said his response shocked the room.

    “They are right,” he said.

    Check out the CNN interview below:

  • Enterovirus 68 Caused 4-Year-Old Boy’s Death, Official Says
    Posted October 4, 2014 at 4:35 pm by Dave Urbanski

    Comments (79)

    TRENTON, N.J. (TheBlaze/AP) — A virus that has been causing severe respiratory illness across the country is responsible for the death of a 4-year-old boy, according to New Jersey medical examiner.

    The death of Eli Waller was the result of enterovirus 68, Hamilton Township health officer Jeff Plunkett said, citing the medical examiner

    The virus has sickened more than 500 people in 43 states and Washington, D.C. — almost all of them children. Earlier this week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said four people infected with the virus had died but what role it played in the deaths was unclear.

    Some children are especially vulnerable to infection because of pre-existing conditions, though the medical examiner said that was not the case in the New Jersey death.

    Township officials said the boy’s parents have asked for privacy.

  • Biden’s ‘Ain’t It a B***h?’ Quip Wasn’t His Only Misstep After Harvard Speech. Now He’s Apologizing to Turkey’s President.
    Posted October 4, 2014 at 4:16 pm by Dave Urbanski

    Comments (87)

    ANKARA, Turkey (TheBlaze/AP) — U.S. Vice President Joe Biden apologized Saturday to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was angry over comments in which Biden said Erdogan had admitted that Turkey had made mistakes by allowing foreign fighters to cross into Syria.

    Erdogan denied ever saying that and told reporters in Istanbul before Biden’s apology that he “will be history for me if he has indeed used such expressions.”

    Biden spoke with Erdogan by phone on Saturday, the White House said.

    “The vice president apologized for any implication that Turkey or other allies and partners in the region had intentionally supplied or facilitated the growth of ISIL or other violent extremists in Syria,” the White House said, referring to an acronym for the Islamic State group.

    Vice President Joe Biden answers questions from students at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Mass. Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014. (Image source: AP/Winslow Townson)

    The spat comes as Turkey, a NATO ally, is expected to define the role it will play in the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic state militants who have captured a swath of Iraq and Syria, in some cases right up to the Turkish border.

    Responding to questions following his speech at the Harvard Kennedy School on Thursday, Biden described Erdogan as “an old friend.” Biden added: “He (Erdogan) said: ‘You were right. We let too many people through.’ Now they’re trying to seal their border.”

    Erdogan said: “I have never said to him that we had made a mistake, never. If he did say this at Harvard then he has to apologize to us.”

    “Foreign fighters have never entered Syria from our country. They may come to our country as tourists and cross into Syria, but no one can say that they cross in with their arms,” Erdogan said.

    He said Turkey had prevented 6,000 suspected jihadis from entering the country and deported another 1,000.

    This week Turkey’s parliament approved a motion giving the government powers for military operations across the border in Syria and Iraq and for foreign troops to use Turkey’s territory.

    On Friday, the two men also held a telephone discussion of ways their two countries “can work together to degrade and destroy (the Islamic State group) and restore security and stability to the region,” according to the White House.

    At Harvard, Biden said that “our biggest problem is our allies” in responding to the civil war in Syria.

    “The Turks, who are great friends — I have a great relationship with Erdogan, whom I spend a lot of time with — the Saudis, the Emiratis, etc. What were they doing? They were so determined to take down (Syrian President Bashar) Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war,” Biden said.

    “What did they do? They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad — except that the people who were being supplied were al-Nusra and al-Qaida and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world.”

    Also during the question session after Biden’s speech, a student took the mic and identified himself as the vice president of the student body, to which Biden interjected, “Ain’t it a bitch?”

    “Excuse me, I mean the vice president thing,” Biden continued as the audience reacted loudly and the student questioner stammered. “I mean whoa. How do you feel about it now? I’m joking, I’m joking. Best decision I ever made. That was a joke. That was a joke.”

    The following report preceded Biden’s apology:

  • Lone U.S. Ebola Patient Thomas Duncan in Critical Condition
    Posted October 4, 2014 at 3:31 pm by Dave Urbanski

    Comments (89)

    DALLAS (TheBlaze/AP) — The lone U.S. Ebola patient is in critical condition, according to the Dallas hospital treating him.

    Saturday’s six-word news release about Thomas Duncan read, ”Mr. Duncan is in critical condition.”

    This 2011 photo provided by Wilmot Chayee shows Thomas Eric Duncan at a wedding in Ghana. (Image source: AP/Wilmot Chayee)

    The spokeswoman for Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital provided no further details about his condition. The hospital previously said Duncan was being kept in isolation and that his condition was serious but stable.

    Duncan traveled from disease-ravaged Liberia to Dallas last month before showing symptoms of the disease. He was treated and released from the hospital before returning two days later in an ambulance and being diagnosed with Ebola.

    Health officials said Saturday they are monitoring about 50 people for signs of the deadly disease who may have had contact with Duncan, including nine who are believed to be at a higher risk. Thus far none have shown symptoms. Among those being monitored are people who rode in the ambulance that transported Duncan back to the hospital before his diagnosis, said Dr. Tom Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    On Friday, a hazardous-materials crew decontaminated the Dallas apartment where Duncan was staying when he got sick during his visit. The materials were sealed in industrial barrels that were to be stored in trucks until they can be hauled away for permanent disposal.

    The family who lived there was moved to a private home in a gated community, where they are being carefully monitored. The city had been having trouble finding a place that would take in Louise Troh, originally from Liberia, her 13-year-old son and two nephews.

    Duncan arrived in Dallas on Sept. 20 and fell ill a few days later. After an initial visit to the emergency room at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, he was sent home, even though he told a nurse he had been in disease-ravaged West Africa. He returned to the hospital two days later, last Sunday, and has been kept in isolation ever since.

    The hospital issued a news release late Friday saying that the doctor who initially treated Duncan did have access to his travel history, after all. It had said Thursday that a flaw in the electronic health records systems led to separate physician and nursing workflows, and that the doctor hadn’t had access to Duncan’s travel history.

    A woman claiming to be Duncan’s stepdaughter has made some alarming assertions. Youngor Jallah claimed she learned Duncan was diagnosed with Ebola virus on the news, telling CNN that no official with the CDC or other agency informed her.

    “No one is giving me no instructions and no one is telling me nothing,” she told CNN, later admitting she’s “scared” of contracting the virus since she had close contact with Duncan and called 911 when he became feverish and sweaty.

    Liberian authorities said Thursday that Duncan will be prosecuted when he returns home for lying on his airport screening questionnaire. The Associated Press reported he answered “no” to questions about whether he had cared for an Ebola patient or touched the body of someone who had died in an area affected by Ebola.

    The first Ebola diagnosis in the U.S. has raised concerns about whether the disease that has killed 3,400 people in West Africa could spread in the U.S. But federal health officials said they are confident they can keep it in check.

    The virus that causes Ebola is not airborne and can only be spread through direct contact with the bodily fluids — blood, sweat, vomit, feces, urine, saliva or semen — of an infected person who is showing symptoms.

    The following report preceded Duncan’s critical-condition announcement:

    This story has been updated.

  • ‘The Most Unsafe of All the Playground Equipment’: Schools in One Town Are Nixing an Iconic Childhood Activity
    Posted October 4, 2014 at 3:05 pm by Zach Noble

    Comments (163)

    Schools in one Washington town are getting rid of an apparent death trap: swings.

    Image via Shutterstock

    Image via Shutterstock

    Schools in Richland, Washington, will soon be swing-free, KEPR-TV reported, as school administrators worry that children walking by could get whacked in the head by the feet of their swinging peers.

    “As schools get modernized or renovated or as we’re doing work on the playground equipment, we’ll take out the swings,” said Richland School District’s Steve Aagard. “It’s just really a safety issue, swings have been determined to be the most unsafe of all the playground equipment on a playground.”

    A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention fact sheet noted that roughly 200,000 children visit the emergency room each year with playground injuries, and the report pegged swings as the No. 1 cause of injury on home playgrounds.

    Still, at least some people said swings are a natural part of childhood, danger or no.

    “They were our great joy and we all played on them,” Richland resident Gail Thorricellas told KEPR. ”I truly can’t remember anyone being hurt.”

    Follow Zach Noble (@thezachnoble) on Twitter

  • The Fight Against the Islamic State Apparently Reaches a Mississippi High School Parking Lot (Or It’s Just a Terrible Excuse)
    Posted October 4, 2014 at 2:10 pm by Zach Noble

    Comments (135)

    When sheriff’s deputies caught a woman burglarizing students’ cars in a Jackson County, Mississippi, high school parking lot, she gave them one of the greatest and least plausible excuses of all time: She said she was looking for members of ISIS (the Islamic State).

    As the Sun Herald reported, 41-year-old Lisa Carol Roche was allegedly breaking into cars parked at East Central High School when deputies caught her.

    Image via Sun Herald / Jackson County Sheriff's Office

    Lisa Carol Roche. (Image via Sun Herald / Jackson County Sheriff’s Office)

    Police said Roche has children who attend East Central.

    Roche was arrested on a charge of commercial burglary of a vehicle, the Sun Herald reported, and while investigators didn’t say why Roche might have claimed to be hunting Islamic State fighters in Mississippi, they affirmed that her claim seemed to be baseless.

    (H/T: Mediaite)

    Follow Zach Noble (@thezachnoble) on Twitter

  • The Man Who Declared Himself Haiti’s ‘President for Life’ Has Died
    Posted October 4, 2014 at 1:18 pm by Associated Press

    Comments (24)

    PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Jean-Claude-Duvalier, the self-proclaimed “president for life” of Haiti whose corrupt and brutal regime sparked a popular uprising that sent him into a 25-year exile, died Saturday of a heart attack, his attorney said.

    Reynold George said the 63-year-old ex-leader died at his home.

    In this April 25, 1975 file photo, Haitian President Jean-Claude Duvalier welcomes Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda at the Port-au-Prince airport in Haiti. Duvalier, the self-proclaimed “president for life” of Haiti whose corrupt and brutal regime sparked a popular uprising that sent him into a 25-year exile, died Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014 of a heart attack, his attorney said. He was 63. (AP Photo/Candell)

    Duvalier, looking somewhat frail, made a surprise return to Haiti in 2011, allowing victims of his regime to pursue legal claims against him and prompting some old allies to rally around him. Neither side gained much support, and the once-feared dictator known as “Baby Doc” spent his late years in relative obscurity in the leafy hills above the Haitian capital.

    Duvalier was the son of Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier, a medical doctor-turned-dictator who promoted “Noirisme,” a movement that sought to highlight Haiti’s African roots over its European ones while uniting the black majority against a mulatto elite in a country divided by class and color.

    The regimes of both leaders tortured and killed political opponents and relied on a dreaded civilian militia known as the Tonton Macoutes.

    In 1971, Francois Duvalier suddenly died of an illness and named his son to succeed him. At 19, Jean-Claude Duvalier became the world’s youngest president.

    The son was regarded as a lackluster student at a prestigious private Catholic school in the capital but his teachers gave him passing grades anyway to avoid fury from the National Palace, according to “Written in Blood” a history of the country by Robert Debs Heinl and Nancy Gordon Heinl.

    Jean-Claude Duvalier ruled for 15 years, his administration seen as less violent and repressive than his father’s. Echoes of press freedom and personal criticism, never tolerated under his father, emerged — sporadically — because of international pressure. Still, human rights groups documented abuses and political persecution. A trio of prisons known as the “Triangle of Death,” which included the much-feared Fort Dimanche for long-term inmates, symbolized the brutality of his regime.

    As president, he married the daughter of a wealthy coffee merchant, Michele Bennett, in 1980. The engagement caused a scandal among old Duvalierists, for she was a mulatto and the arrangement ran counter to the Noirisme movement Duvalier’s father espoused. The wedding was a lavish affair, complete with imported champagne, flowers and fireworks. The ceremony, reported to have cost $5 million, was carried live on television to the impoverished nation. After they exchanged vows, Michele ordered her tubby husband to go on a diet.

    Under Duvalier’s rule, Haiti saw widespread demographic changes. Peasants moved to the capital in search of work as factories popped up to meet the growing demand for cheap labor. Thousands of professionals fled a climate of repression for cities such as New York, Miami and Montreal.

    And aid began to flow from the United States and agencies such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

    The tourists followed, some in search of a form of tropical hedonism that included booze, prostitution and Voodoo ceremonies for which the country became legendary. Tourism collapsed in the early 1980s after Florida doctors noted that an unusual number of AIDS cases were coming from Haitian emigres, even though the disease was believed to have been brought from the U.S.

    But it was corruption and human rights abuses that defined Duvalier rule.

    The National Palace became known for opulent parties as Michele took overseas shopping sprees to decorate and collect fur coats. Duvalier relished taking his presidential yacht out for a spin and racing about in sports cars.

    Under mounting pressure from the administration of U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Duvalier made pretenses of improving the country’s human rights record by releasing political prisoners. Still, journalists and activists were jailed or exiled. Haitians without visas or money left by boarding flimsy boats in a desperate effort to reach Florida shores.

    The New York-based Human Rights Watch estimated that up to 30,000 Haitians were killed, many by execution, under the regime of the two Duvaliers.

    As Haiti’s living conditions deteriorated, Pope John-Paul II made a visit in 1983 and famously declared: “Things must change.”

    Three years later, they did. A popular uprising swept across Haiti, and Duvalier and his wife boarded a U.S.-government C-141 for France.

    The couple divorced in 1993. Duvalier later became involved with Veronique Roy, who accompanied him on his 2011 return to Haiti.

    While in exile in France, Duvalier was never known to hold a job. He occasionally made public statements about his eagerness to return to Haiti. Supporters periodically marched on his behalf in the Haitian capital.

    On Jan. 16, 2011, Duvalier made his surprise return. He said he wanted to help in the reconstruction of Haiti, whose capital and outlying cities were heavily damaged in a magnitude-7.0 earthquake the year before. But many suspected he came back in an effort to reclaim money he had allegedly stashed. Others said he merely wanted to die in his homeland.

    More than 20 victims of his rule stepped forward to file charges that ranged from false imprisonment to torture. Human Rights Watch issued a report saying that Duvalier may not have directly participated in the torture and killings under his regime, but that there was enough evidence to prosecute him.

    In this Feb. 28, 2013 file photo, former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier, known as “Baby Doc,” attends his hearing at court in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Duvalier, the self-proclaimed “president for life” of Haiti whose corrupt and brutal regime sparked a popular uprising that sent him into a 25-year exile, died Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014 of a heart attack, his attorney said. He was 63. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery, File)

    Despite the occasional stay in the hospital, Duvalier seemed to enjoy his new life back home and was free to roam the capital. He was spotted attending government ceremonies, dining with friends in several high-end restaurants and avoided jail time. In 2013 he began renovating an old house that Roy said had been destroyed in the wake of his 1986 ouster.

    The efforts to prosecute him stumbled along. Duvalier stunned human rights observers and alleged victims of his regime in 2013 when he testified about his rule before an investigating judge. A year later, a judge overturned an earlier court decision and ruled that Duvalier could face crimes against humanity charges.

    But in the end the case stalled because officials did little to move it along.

    Duvalier and his wife Michele had two children, son Francois Nicolas “Nico” Duvalier and a daughter, Anya.

  • Obama Executive Order Boosts Protections for Employees of Gun Owners’ Least Favorite Agency
    Posted October 4, 2014 at 1:10 pm by Fred Lucas

    Comments (102)

    President Barack Obama issued an executive order Friday to provide added protections to employees of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, one of the most scandal-plagued agencies in the federal government in recent years.

    President Barack Obama speaks at Millennium Steel Service in Princeton, Ind., Friday, Oct. 3, 2014, to discuss the economy as part of Manufacturing Day. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

    The order allows more ATF agents to be converted to the career-employee classification, which would provide civil service protections that make it more difficult to fire such an employee. For an agency that has been accused of going rogue at times, with Operation Fast and Furious and more recently Fearless Distribution, that could be a problem.

    The ATF has also stepped up efforts requiring gun shops to get the race and ethnicity information of gun buyers.

    “Bottom line is that it’s easier to fire people when they don’t have civil service protections,” Gun Owners of America spokesman Erich Pratt told TheBlaze. “We’d love nothing more than to see a future Ted Cruz or Rand Paul administration fire some of these ATF special agents who are intimidating legal gun dealers.”

    Obama’s executive order allows criminal investigators, some who do not currently have civil service protections, to make a transition to a career civil servant.

    “I find that conditions of good administration … make necessary an exception to the competitive examination rules for appointment to certain positions in the federal civil service,” the executive order says. “Criminal Investigators of the ATF, who have been appointed under Schedule B, and who have completed three years of fully satisfactory service, may be converted non-competitively to career appointments if they meet qualifications and other requirements established by the director of the Office of Personnel Management.”

    National Rifle Association spokesperson Catherine Mortensen told TheBlaze that on the surface the executive order looks like a personnel issue, but said that the NRA is monitoring the matter because, “our level of trust runs thin with this administration.”

    The ATF, a division of the Justice Department, spent the last several years consumed with questions about Operation Fast and Furious, in which about 2,000 guns were allowed to flow to Mexican drug trafficking organizations with the intent of tracking the guns. The operation was halted after a gun was found at the murder scene of a U.S. Border Patrol agent in Arizona. While no one has been fired at the ATF over the missteps, there have been multiple reports over retaliation against whistle blowers inside the agency.

    Last year, ATF agents reportedly engaged in Fearless Distribution, a program in at least four cities in which agents befriended mentally disabled people to bring business to their phony gun store. The agency, under the operation, also opened up undercover gun and drug buying operations in so called safe-zones, such as areas near churches, and allowed juveniles and underage teens to smoke marijuana and drink alcohol.

    Pratt pointed out that controversies surrounding the agency go back decades.

    “Given that this is an agency that has bathed itself in disgrace, the last thing you want to do is make it harder to fire them and put them in the civil service nightmare system,” Pratt said. “We’d like to see the agency defunded. But if the agency is going to be there, we’d like to see it cleaned up, not keep the people who have caused the problems there locked in.”

  • What This Family Taught Their Parrot to Say Puts All Other Parrots to Shame
    Posted October 4, 2014 at 12:51 pm by Zach Noble

    Comments (72)

    We live in a world where the Ebola virus is running rampant, a nuclear power threaten its smaller neighbors and the vice president of the United States uses profanity to refer to his own job.

    In a world so dark, sometimes you just need to listen to a parrot pray “Hail Mary.”

    The original YouTube video of praying Poncho was posted in 2012, but the pious parrot has only just begun to be shared widely online, with the video acquiring tens of thousands of views in the past few days.

    Image via YouTube

    Image via YouTube

    (H/T: Irish Central)

    Follow Zach Noble (@thezachnoble) on Twitter

  • The IRS Is Demanding $325,000 From a Church That Only Has 20 Members — And the Gov’t Could Do Something Drastic to Settle the Debt
    Posted October 4, 2014 at 12:21 pm by Zach Noble

    Comments (148)

    It was all a paperwork mix-up, they say.

    Members of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, told the Topeka Capital-Journal this week that they never meant to break the law back in 2003, when a member of the church started running a daycare center for low-income families out of a church building.

    That daycare center closed in 2007, and the woman who ran it no longer attends the church — but she apparently left a mess on the church’s hands.

    “She did not keep pay records and did not pay all the payroll deductions for employees,” said interim pastor Gary Roten. “Once this was discovered, the IRS came for payment from Emmanuel.”

    She also mistakenly used the church’s Employer Identification Number on employee W-2 forms, the church said.

    Image via Google Maps

    Emmanuel Baptist Church’s property in southeast Topeka, Kansas. (Image via Google Maps)

    The IRS is apparently placing the blame for the unpaid taxes squarely on the church, which has shrunken from roughly 100 members in 2003 to around 20 now, the Capital-Journal reported.

    The tax bill: $210,000 in payroll tax delinquencies and $115,000 in penalties.

    With a meager $7,000 in the bank, it’s unclear how the church could possibly pay the debt.

    The IRS refused to discuss the case with the Capital-Journal, citing “strict privacy laws,” and the church said the IRS has rejected all counter-offers.

    The congregation fears the IRS could seize their property, something that the Capital-Journal noted had only been done once before in U.S. history:

    Emmanuel Baptist Church’s property is valued on Shawnee County tax rolls at $721,910. Church leaders and members scoff at that amount, saying the church would fetch only a fraction of that amount on the market. A third-party appraisal of the church property placed its value at $261,500.


    Perhaps of greatest concern, church leaders said, the IRS “failed to consider that in the entire history of the United States, the government has only seized a church building once in 2001, which was the result of that church’s leadership refusal to pay employment taxes.”

    The next meeting between the church and IRS is set for sometime in October in Kansas City, Mo. That meeting could determine the church’s ultimate fate. Members and leaders hope Emmanuel Baptist doesn’t become the second church in U.S. history to be seized by the IRS.

    Despite the scope of the debacle, at least one church-goer isn’t letting the problems impact her faith.

    “It’s been going on for a long time,” 87-year-old Lois Fensler told the Capital-Journal. “I put it in the back of my mind quite a bit. I give it over to the Lord. I don’t really stress over it.”

    Follow Zach Noble (@thezachnoble) on Twitter

  • This Former British Colony Is Refusing to Bow Down to the Communist Party
    Posted October 4, 2014 at 11:35 am by Associated Press

    Comments (60)

    HONG KONG (AP) — Pro-democracy protesters were defiant in the face of attacks by opponents and warnings by the Hong Kong government to clear the streets, staging a massive rally Saturday evening in the downtown business district they’ve occupied for a week.

    A pro-democracy student protester stands firm as he is insulted by local residents in Mong Kok, Hong Kong, Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014. Friction between pro-democracy protesters and opponents of their weeklong occupation of major Hong Kong streets persisted Saturday as police denied they had any connection to criminal gangs suspected of inciting attacks on largely peaceful demonstrators. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

    “Democracy now! Democracy in Hong Kong!” thousands chanted as speakers from the movement seeking wider political reforms for this former British colony urged them to persist in their campaign. The rally lasted hours, with participants at times clapping and cheering as a stream of speakers and singers addressed them and performed popular songs.

    “We are not seeking revolution. We just want democracy!” said Joshua Wong, a 17-year-old student leader. “We hope there will be no violence,” he said. “It would be unfortunate if this movement ended with bloodshed and violence.”

    Pro-democracy student protesters hold each other back during a clash with local residents in Mong Kok, Hong Kong, Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014. Friction between pro-democracy protesters and opponents of their weeklong occupation of major Hong Kong streets persisted Saturday as police denied they had any connection to criminal gangs suspected of inciting attacks on largely peaceful demonstrators. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

    Standoffs between the protesters and their antagonists grew uglier during the day, as the two sides traded insults and at times taunted police. The city’s leader said streets occupied by the protest must be cleared by Monday.

    Although the mostly student-led protesters stuck to their pledges of non-violence, holding up their arms to show peaceful resistance, some shouted abuse at people who gathered to challenge their occupation of a major street in the gritty, blue-collar Mong Kok district, which is home to many migrants from the Chinese mainland.

    Pro-democracy student protesters become emotional during scuffle with local residents in Mong Kok, Hong Kong, Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014. Friction between pro-democracy protesters and opponents of their weeklong occupation of major Hong Kong streets persisted Saturday as police denied they had any connection to criminal gangs suspected of inciting attacks on largely peaceful demonstrators. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

    “Go back to the mainland,” some shouted, cursing them in Cantonese.

    Minor skirmishes broke out constantly, broken up by police or bystanders. Adding to the disorder, some residents dumped water from their apartments onto the people below.

    Pro-democracy student protesters pin a man to the ground after an assault during a scuffle with local residents in Mong Kok, Hong Kong, Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014. Friction between pro-democracy protesters and opponents of their weeklong occupation of major Hong Kong streets persisted Saturday as police denied they had any connection to criminal gangs suspected of inciting attacks on largely peaceful demonstrators. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

    The students accused police of failing to protect them from attacks Friday by mobs intent on driving them away, shouting “Black Police!” — a reference to their claim that the police had allied with “black societies,” or criminal gangs, to clear out the protesters. The claim was vehemently denied by the government.

    The city’s top leader, Chief Secretary Leung Chun-ying, appeared on television Saturday evening to once again urge everyone to go home, saying things needed to get back to normal by Monday.

    “There are many problems to be resolved in society, but the right way is through rational communication to seek common ground while holding back differences,” he said. “Not fighting on the streets, which makes things worse.”

    On Friday night and early Saturday, police arrested 19 people during a night of running brawls in which at least 12 people and six officers were injured. Eight men were believed to have backgrounds linked to triads, or organized crime, said Senior Superintendent Patrick Kwok Pak-chung. Those arrested were facing charges of unlawful assembly, fighting in public and assault, Kwok said.

    Officials vehemently denied rumors they might have coordinated with the gangs to clear the streets.

    “Such rumors linking us to ‘black societies,’ are utterly unfair,” Hong Kong’s visibly agitated security chief, Lai Tung-kwok, told reporters.

    Cheung Tak-keung, the deputy police superintendent, said the police were trying their best to maintain “buffer zones” between people of opposing views.

    “The situation was not easy to handle. There were thousands of people,” Cheung said, noting that many of those gathered were just onlookers who could get caught up in a “very high risk activity.”

    “We strongly condemn all violent acts,” he said, cautioning people to avoid such areas because “unsettled people’s emotions may cause more confrontations.”

    The confrontations led protest leaders to call off planned talks with the government. Students and other activists object to China’s decision to require a committee of mostly pro-Beijing figures screen candidates for the city’s first-ever election of its top leader in 2017. They are also demanding Leung’s resignation.

    With the talks suspended, the next steps were uncertain. Police have repeatedly urged everyone to clear the streets but have shown tolerance after the use of pepper spray and tear gas to disperse protesters last weekend just drew larger crowds.

    The standoff in Mong Kok, across Victoria Harbor from the activists’ main protest encampment, was tense with opponents at times chanting “Pack Up!” at the mostly youthful protesters. At least some of the opponents are residents fed up with blocked streets and related inconveniences.

    The opponents of the demonstrations are using blue ribbons to signal their support for the mainland Chinese government, while the pro-democracy protesters are wearing yellow ribbons.

    A religious group prays for peace in the pro-democracy protest site near the government compound, Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014 in Hong Kong. Early Saturday, the Hong Kong Federation of Students, one of the groups leading the demonstrations that drew tens of thousands of people earlier this week, said they saw no choice but to cancel the dialogue they had agreed to after Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s proposed talks. They demanded the government hold someone responsible for the scuffles Friday, the worst disturbances since police used tear gas and pepper spray to try to disperse the protesters the weekend before. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

    Some people on the “blue ribbon” side rallied in Kowloon’s waterfront Tsim Sha Tsui. “Love Hong Kong” and “Support Police” they chanted, holding up flags and heart-shaped signs with the slogan, “Alliance in support of our police force.”

    “Now the students are trying to control the government,” complained a man who gave only his first name, Jackie. “If there was a riot on Wall Street in America they wouldn’t tolerate such troublemaking.”

    The Hong Kong Federation of Students, one of the groups leading the protests that drew a peak crowd of tens of thousands of people earlier, said they saw no choice but to rescind their agreement to the talks Leung proposed. They demanded the government hold someone responsible for the scuffles Friday.

    The allegations that organized crime members were involved fueled jitters at the movement’s main camp, outside government headquarters.

    “Many people are gathering here and they are very determined to unite against the triad members,” said Amy Ho, 21, who was studying translation at university.


    Associated Press writers Wendy Tang and Elaine Kurtenbach contributed to this report.

  • Jerry Seinfeld’s Acceptance Speech Is a Little Painful to Watch — Especially for People Who Work in Advertising
    Posted October 4, 2014 at 11:20 am by Zach Noble

    Comments (52)

    “I love advertising because I love lying.”

    So began Jerry Seinfeld’s part-funny, part-brutal acceptance speech.

    The veteran comedian was accepting a Clio award this week for his advertising work for Acura, and he used the opportunity to skewer the industry honoring him, saying:

    I just want to enjoy the commercial. We know the product is going to stink. We know that because we live in the world, and we know that everything stinks. We all believe, ‘Hey, maybe this one won’t stink.’ We are a hopeful species. Stupid but hopeful. But we’re happy in that moment between the commercial and the purchase. And I think spending your life trying to dupe innocent people out of hard-won earnings to buy useless, low-quality, misrepresented items and services is an excellent use of your energy.

    Watch the whole, slightly uncomfortable speech here:

    (H/T: Mediaite)

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  • A French Nurse Just Beat Ebola’s Death Sentence
    Posted October 4, 2014 at 10:38 am by Zach Noble

    Comments (64)

    PARIS (TheBlaze/AP) — Doctors Without Borders says the French nurse who became infected with Ebola while working in Liberia has recovered from the disease, providing a glimmer of hope even as the deadly outbreak spread to American shores this week.

    The medical charity, which has shouldered a large part of the response to the West African outbreak, said Saturday that it received confirmation from the French Health Ministry that the woman had survived the disease. She was evacuated from Liberia and cared for at a hospital near Paris.

    The University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf in Germany also said Saturday that a Senegalese scientist who was infected with Ebola in Sierra Leone has recovered and been discharged.

    Doctors and nurses have become infected in particularly large numbers in this outbreak — the World Health Organization says 382 health workers have been infected, and more than half of them have died — but survival stories are a growing source of hope.

    American aid workers Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol both recovered from Ebola infection, due largely to rapid and expert medical intervention in Emory University Hospital’s Infectious Disease Unit.

    ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 21:  Dr. Kent Brantly, an Ebola patient at Emory Hospital, talks at a press conference about his release from the hospital on August 21, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia.  Dr. Brantly and another patient, Nancy Writebol, were released from Emory Hospital after receiving treatment for Ebola that they both contracted while working as medical missionaries in Liberia.  (Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

    Dr. Kent Brantly, an Ebola patient at Emory Hospital, talks at a press conference about his release from the hospital on August 21, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Brantly and another patient, Nancy Writebol, were released from Emory Hospital after receiving treatment for Ebola that they both contracted while working as medical missionaries in Liberia. (Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

    Questions surround the apparent mishandling of the first patient to be diagnosed with Ebola inside the U.S., who may have exposed many people to the virus before finally being quarantined, but the successful treatment of doctors and nurses sends a heartening message: Modern medicine is not helpless in the face of Ebola.

    Featured image via the Associated Press

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  • He Killed His Classmate With a Single Punch, but There’s a Simple Reason Why He Isn’t Facing Criminal Charges
    Posted October 4, 2014 at 10:07 am by Zach Noble

    Comments (279)

    The other guy started it — and wound up dead.

    After a fistfight at Abraham Lincoln High School in Council Bluffs, Iowa, 17-year-old Dakota Escritt died last Saturday, but the classmate whose punch knocked him fatally to the ground won’t face criminal charges, KETV-TV reported, because surveillance video shows Dakota starting the fight.

    Image via KETV-TV

    Image via KETV-TV

    Dakota pushed sixteen-year-old Greg Teer, video shows, and the teens both swung at one another until Greg’s punch connected, knocking Dakota onto the cafeteria’s tile floor.

    “There’s no question in my mind that Dakota was the initial physical aggressor,” said Pottawattamie County Attorney Matt Wilber on Wednesday.

    Dakota Escritt. (Image via KETV-TV)

    Dakota Escritt. (Image via KETV-TV)

    The pair of teens had apparently exchanged a profanity-laced thread of Facebook messages prior to the fight, KETV reported, and Wilber determined that Greg has used reasonable force to defend himself in the fatal fight.

    Notably, it wasn’t Greg’s punch that killed Dakota; It was the teen hitting his head on the hard tile floor that proved fatal.

    For his part, Greg expressed sorrow for his classmate’s death, and said he’d learned something from the ordeal.

    “Fighting is not the answer,” he told KETV. “Walk away.”

    Image via KETV-TV

    Greg Teer. (Image via KETV-TV)

    KETV reported that Greg’s attorney is trying to get the teen readmitted to Abraham Lincoln High School.

    Dakota’s father, Josh Escritt, described the pain of losing his child.

    “My heart is ripped out,” the father told KETV. “I’ve been through a lot in life and I never thought, I thought I’d been through the worst feeling and the worst pain inside. And no. Nothing compares to losing your own kid.”

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  • Joe Biden Gave Harvard a Vulgar, One-Word Description of His Job
    Posted October 4, 2014 at 9:05 am by Zach Noble

    Comments (128)

    Many fine speeches and elegant words have floated through the halls of Harvard University over the centuries, but Vice President Joe Biden’s Thursday night comment will probably not be considered a fine speech or elegantly worded by future generations.

    It all stemmed from an introduction: A student took the mic to ask a question after Biden’s foreign policy address at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, as WBZ-TV reported, but when the student identified himself as the vice president of the student body, Biden couldn’t help interjecting.

    “Ain’t it a b***h?” Biden asked.

    “Excuse me, I mean the vice president thing,” he continued as the audience reacted loudly and the student questioner stammered. “I mean whoa. How do you feel about it now? I’m joking, I’m joking. Best decision I ever made. That was a joke. That was a joke.”

    Biden went on to affirm that he loves his job and, “I love the guy I work with.”

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  • The Attack Hit 83 Million U.S. Homes and Businesses. New Evidence Links the Strike to the Russian Government.
    Posted October 4, 2014 at 8:06 am by Zach Noble

    Comments (56)

    JPMorgan Chase revealed this week that it was hit by a massive cyberattack that compromised the financial information of 76 million households and 7 million small businesses — including, possibly, the president of the United States.

    The people responsible likely speak Russian.

    The New York Times reported late Friday on new details on the cyberattack, revealing that nine other financial institutions were apparently hit and that the Russian government could be connected to the attack:

    [Besides JPMorgan,] nine other financial institutions — a number that has not been previously reported — were also infiltrated by the same group of overseas hackers, according to people briefed on the matter. The hackers are thought to be operating from Russia and appear to have at least loose connections with officials of the Russian government, the people briefed on the matter said.


    “It could be in retaliation for the sanctions” placed on Russia, one senior official briefed on the intelligence said. “But it could be mixed motives — to steal if they can, or to sell whatever information they could glean.”

    As the Times noted, the attack is particularly worrisome because it demonstrates the vulnerability of Wall Street to foreign hackers.

    “It was a huge surprise that [the hackers] were able to compromise a huge bank like JPMorgan,” Al Pascual, a security analyst with Javelin Strategy and Research, told the Times. “It scared the pants off many people.”

    Featured image via the Associated Press

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  • He Used to Be the Head of the Federal Reserve, but in This Economy, There’s One Thing Even He Can’t Do
    Posted October 4, 2014 at 7:35 am by Zach Noble

    Comments (47)

    Having trouble refinancing your home loan?

    You’re not alone.

    As Bloomberg reported Friday, Ben Bernanke, the former Federal Reserve chairman, recently revealed that he can’t refinance either.

    Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke responds to a question during a talk at the National Bureau of Economic Research Wednesday, July 10, 2013, in Cambridge, Mass. Bernanke spoke after the markets closed with stocks fluctuating between small gains and losses Wednesday morning, before the Federal Reserve released minutes from its most recent meeting. (AP Photo/Josh Reynolds)

    Ben Bernanke, then-Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, responds to a question during a talk at the National Bureau of Economic Research Wednesday, July 10, 2013, in Cambridge, Mass. (AP Photo/Josh Reynolds)

    “Just between the two of us,” Bernanke told the moderator of a conference in Chicago Thursday, “I recently tried to refinance my mortgage and I was unsuccessful in doing so.”

    The audience at the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing and Care may have laughed, but Bernanke insisted, “I’m not making that up.”

    He went on to say that credit is still too tight, and it’s hurting homeowners and first-time home buyers.

    “The housing area is one area where regulation has not yet got it right,” Bernanke said. “I think the tightness of mortgage credit, lending is still probably excessive.”

    Follow Zach Noble (@thezachnoble) on Twitter

  • Is the Catholic Church About to Make a Big Change to Its Teachings on Sex and Marriage?
    Posted October 4, 2014 at 7:05 am by Zach Noble

    Comments (365)

    Will the Catholic Church start backing down from its staunchly traditional teachings on sex and marriage this weekend?

    Probably not.

    Pope Francis attends the Sunday Mass at the St. Peter’s Basilica on September 14, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. During the Mass Pontiff celebrated the marriage of twenty couples. Giulio Origlia/Getty Images

    Pope Francis’ Synod of Bishops on the family is set to begin Sunday and continue for two weeks, and the meeting has brought competing groups to Rome, with traditionalists urging the church hierarchy to hold fast and reform-minded groups pushing for radical change.

    As other Christian churches have embraced everything from contraception to same-sex marriage over the past century, the Catholic Church’s official teachings have remained essentially unchanged.

    While the Synod of Bishops on the family could offer a platform for reconsideration — after all, Pope Francis has famously given many people private advice that seems to contradict church teaching — both liberal and conservative Catholics have said the synod probably won’t bring fundamental changes.

    Rev. Thomas Reese, columnist for the progressive National Catholic Reporter, characterized the synod’s makeup as “disappointing.”

    Reese noted that only 14 married couples will be attending the synod as auditors (observers), and one of the two American couples is actively involved with promoting natural family planning, the Catholic method of birth control that relies on regulating intercourse around a woman’s menstrual cycle instead of condoms or the pill:

    We will have to wait and see whether the auditors will represent to the bishops the views of lay Catholics, but it is hard to argue that they are representative of Catholics at large. Certainly any who think natural family planning is the church’s great gift to the laity will not. And those who are church employees could fear losing their jobs if they spoke the truth.

    At the 1980 synod on the family, the lay participants were remarkable for how totally out of touch they were with the views of average Catholics. I fear this is a rerun.

    The “average Catholics” Reese references might disagree with many church teachings on sex and marriage, and the Vatican’s preparatory document for the synod notes that “concerns which were unheard of until a few years ago” — from the new widespread legality of same-sex marriage to commonplace premarital cohabitation — intimately impact the lives of many Catholics.

    But big changes in church teaching aren’t necessarily likely.

    Decrying a media “hijack[ing]” of the synod, Cardinal Raymond Burke told the National Catholic Register that the meeting will focus on ways to compassionately and effectively communicate church teaching without altering the basic tenets.

    “The media has created a situation in which people expect that there are going to be these major changes which would, in fact, constitute a change in Church teaching, which is impossible,” Burke said.

    Bride and groom attend the Sunday Mass held by Pope Francis at the St. Peter’s Basilica on September 14, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. During the Mass Pontiff celebrated the marriage of twenty couples. Giulio Origlia/Getty Images

    The Vatican’s preparatory document seemed to echo Burke’s words, calling for a change in human hearts rather than in church teaching:

    The good news of divine love is to be proclaimed to all those personally living this basic human experience of couples and of a communion open to the gift of children, which is the family community. The teachings of the faith on marriage is to be presented in an articulate and efficacious manner, so that it might reach hearts and transform them in accordance with God’s will, made manifest in Jesus Christ.

    This story has been updated.

    Follow Zach Noble (@thezachnoble) on Twitter

  • After Months-Long Hiatus, Experts Resume Bid to Solve One of World’s Most Perplexing Aviation Mysteries
    Posted October 4, 2014 at 2:24 am by Oliver Darcy

    Comments (55)

    Story by the Associated Press; curated by Oliver Darcy.

    SYDNEY (AP) — After a four-month hiatus, the hunt for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is about to resume in a desolate stretch of the Indian Ocean, with searchers lowering new equipment deep beneath the waves in a bid to finally solve one of the world’s most perplexing aviation mysteries.

    The GO Phoenix, the first of three ships that will spend up to a year hunting for the wreckage far off Australia’s west coast, is expected to arrive in the search zone Sunday, though weather could delay its progress. Crews will use sonar, video cameras and jet fuel sensors to scour the water for any trace of the Boeing 777, which disappeared March 8 during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board.

    FILE - In this April 9, 2014 file photo provided by the Australian Defense Force, a Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion flies past Australian Defense vessel Ocean Shield on a mission to drop sonar buoys to assist in the acoustic search of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean. (AP Photo/ADF, LSIS Bradley Darvill, File)

    FILE – In this April 9, 2014 file photo provided by the Australian Defense Force, a Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion flies past Australian Defense vessel Ocean Shield on a mission to drop sonar buoys to assist in the acoustic search of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean. (AP Photo/ADF, LSIS Bradley Darvill, File)

    The search has been on hold for months so crews could map the seabed in the search zone, about 1,800 kilometers (1,100 miles) west of Australia. The 60,000-square kilometer (23,000-square mile) search area lies along what is known as the “seventh arc” — a stretch of ocean where investigators believe the aircraft ran out of fuel and crashed, based largely on an analysis of transmissions between the plane and a satellite.

    Given that the hunt has already been peppered with false alarms — from underwater signals wrongly thought to be from the plane’s black boxes to possible debris fields that turned out to be trash — officials are keen to temper expectations.

    “We’re cautiously optimistic; cautious because of all the technical and other challenges we’ve got, but optimistic because we’re confident in the analysis,” said Martin Dolan, chief commissioner of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, the agency leading the search. “But it’s just a very big area that we’re looking at.”

    That area was largely unknown to scientists before the mapping process began in May. Two ships have been surveying the seabed using on-board multibeam sonar devices, similar to a fish-finder. The equipment sends out a series of signals that determine the shape and hardness of the terrain below, allowing officials to create three-dimensional maps of the seabed.

    Those maps are considered crucial to the search effort because the seafloor is riddled with deep crevasses, mountains and volcanoes, which could prove disastrous to the pricey, delicate search equipment that will be towed just 100 meters (330 feet) above the seabed. Two of the search ships will be using underwater search vessels worth around $1.5 million each.

    “You can imagine if you’re towing a device close to the seafloor, you want to know if you’re about to run into a mountain,” said Stuart Minchin, chief of the environmental geoscience division at Geoscience Australia, which has been analyzing the mapping data.

    Parents and children release a sky lantern, with a note of prayer written for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 which disappeared on March 8, during a Malaysian school holiday event in Ampang, near Kuala Lumpur on September 13, 2014. (MOHD RASFAN/AFP/Getty Images)

    Parents and children release a sky lantern, with a note of prayer written for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 which disappeared on March 8, during a Malaysian school holiday event in Ampang, near Kuala Lumpur on September 13, 2014. (MOHD RASFAN/AFP/Getty Images)

    The terrain isn’t the only challenge. The area is prone to brutal weather, and is so remote that it takes vessels up to six days to get there from Australia. Water depths are also tricky: They range from 600 meters (2,000 feet) to 6.5 kilometers (4 miles). That’s about the deepest the sonar equipment can go, Dolan said.

    “In all sorts of ways we’re operating towards the limits of the technology that is available,” Dolan said.

    With the mapping nearly complete, the GO Phoenix, provided by Malaysia’s government, will begin hunting in an area considered the likeliest crash site, based on an analysis of satellite data gleaned from the plane’s jet engine transmitter and a series of unanswered phone calls officials on the ground made to the plane.

    The other two vessels, the Equator and Discovery, provided by Dutch contractor Fugro, are expected to join the hunt later this month.

    Jacquita Gonzales, wife of Malaysia Airlines MH370 inflight supervisor Patrick Gomes, offers prayers with her family at their residence in Kuala Lumpur on September 8,2014. Family members of the passengers aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 are still seeking answers and closure six months after the plane’s disappearance. (MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)

    Malaysia and Australia are each contributing around $60 million to fund the search.

    The ships will use towfish, underwater vessels equipped with sonar that create images of the ocean floor. The towfish, which transmit data in real time, are dragged slowly through the water by thick cables up to 10 kilometers (6 miles) long. If something of interest is spotted on the sonar, the towfish will be hauled up and fitted with a video camera, then lowered back down.

    The towfish are also equipped with sensors that can detect the presence of jet fuel, although that would likely be a longshot.

    David Gallo, who helped lead the search for Air France Flight 447 after it crashed in the Atlantic Ocean in 2009, said that even if the fuel tanks had survived the impact, strong currents in the search area probably would have dispersed any leaking fuel by now. Still, he said, it’s worth a try.

    Origami paper cranes hang on a board offering prayers and condolences to the Malaysia Airlines MH370 and MH17 victims and their families at a Chinese bereavement centre in Kuala Lumpur on September 9, 2014. A highly anticipated preliminary report into what brought down Malaysia flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine will be released, hoping to shed light on the air disaster that claimed the lives of 298 passengers. (MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)

    “In some of the steep rugged areas any kind of additional information would be useful to help peer into the dark shadows,” Gallo, an oceanographer with the U.S.-based Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, said in an e-mail.

    There will be between 25 and 35 people on each ship, and crews will likely work around the clock. The ships can stay at the search site for up to 30 days before they must head back to shore to refuel and resupply.

    “The most efficient way is to keep going,” Dolan said. “But you have to be careful with the well-being of your crews, to be sure you’re not pushing them too hard.”

    The work will be painstaking. The ships can move no faster than 11 kph (7 mph) while towing the sonar equipment. If a vessel needs to change direction, the crew must first pull the towfish up enough that it won’t fall to the seafloor during the turn — a process that takes hours.

    “None of this happens very quickly,” Dolan said.

    “None of this happens very quickly.”

    Irene Burrows, whose son Rodney Burrows was on board Flight 370 with his wife, Mary, believes the plane will be found. Not knowing her son’s fate has made moving forward a near impossibility.

    “We’re in limbo,” she said. “It will be good to know where it is — I think that’s what is important to all the family.”

    Search officials are acutely aware of the sentiment.

    “We’re doing this primarily because there are families of 239 people who deserve an answer,” Dolan said. “We will give it every possible effort and we think our efforts will be really good — but there’s no guarantee of success.”

  • Which U.S. President Are You Most Like?
    Posted October 4, 2014 at 1:36 am by Oliver Darcy

    Comments (179)

  • Watch Bill Maher Make Hollywood Star Noticeably Uncomfortable, Angry During Explosive Debate on Radical Islam: They Will ‘F***ing Kill You’
    Posted October 4, 2014 at 12:36 am by Jason Howerton

    Comments (425)

    It was essentially “Real Time” host Bill Maher and author Sam Harris versus actor Ben Affleck and New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof on Friday night as the panel aggressively debated radical Islam and just how big of a problem it is around the world.

    And things got tense in a hurry.

    Affleck was noticeably uncomfortable and frustrated throughout the discussion, calling claims that there are widespread problems within the Islamic religion “racist” and “gross.” Maher said liberals should stick up for liberal principles that many in the Muslim faith do not value, such as freedom of speech and equality for women.



    When former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele argued there aren’t enough stories on courageous Muslims who stand up against radical Islam, Maher said that’s because “they’re afraid to speak out.”

    “It’s the only religion that acts like the mafia,” he said. “That will f***ing kill you if you say the wrong thing, paint the wrong picture or write the wrong book.”

    Later in the segment, Affleck said the United States has “killed more Muslims” than radical Islamists have killed Americans while asking Maher to lay out his solution.

    “I can show you a Pew Poll of Egyptians, they are not outliers in the Muslim world that say like 90 percent of them believe that death is the appropriate response to leaving the religion,” Maher eventually responded. “If 90 percent of Brazilians thought death was the appropriate response to leaving Catholicism, you would think it was a bigger deal.”



    Kristof alleged that the things Maher and Harris were saying have the “tinge of the way white racists talk about African-Americans.”

    Watch part of the debate via HBO below (Warning: Strong language):

    (H/T: Mediaite)

  • Nurse Gets Stunning Request From Very Ill Patient; Her Response Is Staggering
    Posted October 3, 2014 at 11:01 pm by Oliver Darcy

    Comments (64)

    After being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, Tricia Somers was admitted to a Pennsylvania hospital for a procedure.

    That’s when she met another Tricia: Tricia Seaman.

    “Before she even said anything, I just felt comfort. It was almost like someone just put a warm blanket on me,” Somers told the CBS Evening News. “I’ve never felt anything like that before or any other connection with anybody else.”

    Image source: Screen grab via YouTube

    Tricia Somers. (Image source: Screen grab via YouTube)

    Seaman had worked at Pinnacle Health Hospital in Harrisburg for 14 years, but she had never received a question like the one Somers presented her with.

    During a later trip to the hospital, the single mom of an 8-year-old boy learned her cancer was terminal.

    “I mean what do you say to somebody? She’s 45 years old. So I just gave her a hug,” Seaman said.

    Image source: Screen grab via YouTube

    Tricia Seaman (Image source: Screen grab via YouTube)

    That’s when Somers asked Seaman, a “stranger,” a fateful question.

    “‘Well, I’m really glad you stopped in because I didn’t think that I would get to see you again and I have something that I need to ask you,’” she recalled. ”‘Can you take my son? Will you raise him if I die?’”

    Somers’ ex-huband was not around to raise her son, Wesley, and she had no immediate family to ask for help.

    Image source: Screen grab via YouTube

    Tricia Somers and her son Wesley. (Image source: Screen grab via YouTube)

    After discussing things with her family, Seaman surprised Somers with remarkable news: not only would her family take in Wesley, but they also wanted Somers to avoid living out her last days in a nursing home. Thus, they also invited her to live with them.

    Since May, the Somers family has been living with the Seaman family.

    Image source: Screen grab via YouTube

    Tricia Somers and her son Wesley now live in the Seaman household. (Image source: Screen grab via YouTube)

    “We love her… It’s like another mom. And I think he loves us as much as we love him,” said Seaman’s kids told CBS Evening News.

    Seaman said she felt a higher calling when she made the decision.

    “It is, but that’s what we’re supposed to do – more than we’re asked,” she said, adding “they needed to be together.”

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  • Alarming Claims Made by ‘Stepdaughter’ of Dallas Ebola Patient Likely Won’t Help Restore Confidence in CDC’s Handling of Case
    Posted October 3, 2014 at 10:48 pm by Jason Howerton

    Comments (265)

    A woman who claims to be the “stepdaughter” of Dallas Ebola patient Thomas Duncan told CNN’s John Berman on Friday that she had close contact with her stepfather and ended up calling 911 when he became feverish and sweaty.

    However, she also revealed a number of other “shocking” details about her interactions so far with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials.

    This 2011 photo provided by Wilmot Chayee shows Thomas Eric Duncan at a wedding in Ghana. Duncan, who became the first patient diagnosed in the U.S with Ebola, has been kept in isolation at a hospital since Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014. He was listed in serious but stable condition. (AP Photo/Wilmot Chayee)

    Firstly, Youngor Jallah claimed she found out that Duncan was diagnosed with the deadly Ebola virus on the news. She told Berman that no official with the CDC or other agency called to inform her.

    “I saw it on the news. No one called me and tell me that step-daddy is positive of Ebola,” she added. “No one called me.”

    The woman also said no official provided instructions as to how — or even if — she should clean and disinfect the apartment. Further, Jallah claimed she is still waiting to receive instructions from CDC officials on whether or not she should self-quarantine.

    “No one is giving me no instructions and no one is telling me nothing,” she told CNN, later admitting that she is “scared” of contracting the Ebola virus.

    “There’s no one to help, only Jesus,” Jallah continued. “We only depending on God.”

    Watch Jallah’s interview with CNN below:

  • Actor’s Brutal Joke About Obama and Ebola Leaves Some So ‘Livid’ That He Ended Up Deleting It
    Posted October 3, 2014 at 9:31 pm by Jason Howerton

    Comments (359)

    “Shameless” actor Steve Howey tweeted — and then deleted — a joke Thursday about President Barack Obama, jokingly comparing the commander-in-chief to the Ebola virus.

    “People shouldn’t be so scared about this virus from Africa. He only has two more years of his presidency,” he wrote.

    LOS ANGELES, CA – JUNE 18: Actors/husband & wife Steve Howey (L) and Sarah Shahi attend the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival screening of ‘The Road Within’ at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live on June 18, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. David Livingston/Getty Images

    One Twitter user replied, “I’m actually livid. LIVID,” and urged others to unfollow Howey.

    Howey ended up deleting the tweet containing the joke and basically ignored the people who were apparently so offended by it.

    The actor’s publicist apparently wasn’t talking about the joke either on Friday.

    Though there was some outrage, many other Twitter users thought the joke was funny:

  • Steel Plant Manager Confronts Obama Over Rising Health Care Costs — Here’s How the President Responded
    Posted October 3, 2014 at 8:33 pm by Oliver Darcy

    Comments (565)

    President Barack Obama questioned whether a steel plant manager was shopping for health care “effectively” after the man confronted the president during a town hall about increasing premiums.

    “I’m the general manager at Millennium Steel. We’re very honored to have you. One of the questions I had is about the health care costs. We are seeing almost a double-digit increase in health care costs every year. So do you think that trend is going to go down? And what can we do to control that trend?” the man asked.

    President Barack Obama speaks at Millennium Steel Service in Princeton, Ind., Friday, Oct. 3, 2014, to discuss the economy as part of Manufacturing Day. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

    Obama, said he found that “really interesting” before questioning how the individual was shopping for health care.

    “The question is whether you guys are shopping effectively enough,” the president said, telling the man that “this year” premiums have “gone up at the slowest rate in 50 years.”

    “So the issue now is what can we do to make sure that you at Millennium are shopping and seeing more competition,” Obama added.

    The president then pledged to put the man in contact with some “health care market folks” to see if they could save him some money.

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Restoring Love