Obama Speech to Tie Immigration Reform to — Improving the Housing Market?Posted August 6, 2013 at 1:02 pm by Fred Lucas
President Barack Obama will call for reforming Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and tout granting legal status to illegal immigrants as a means to boost the nation’s housing market.
Obama will be speaking Tuesday at Desert Vista High School in Phoenix, Ariz. in the midst of an already improving housing market. The White House issued a “fact sheet” Monday evening featuring what Obama would be talking about in the speech.
The fact sheet states that the administration plan would help families save $3,000 a year by refinancing while mortgage rates are still low, take executive action to cut red tape to make mortgages more available, and a demand that the Senate confirm Obama nominee Mel Watt as the Federal Housing Finance Agency director.
The White House goes on to talk about how comprehensive immigration reform would increase home values.
“In addition to growing GDP, the common sense immigration reform passed by the United States Senate would substantially increase home values,” the White House statement says. “Between 2000 and 2010, immigrants accounted for almost 40% of new homeowners nationwide. Immigrants accounted for over 80 percent of the growth in homeowners in California and over two-thirds of the growth in homeowners in New York over the past decade. Elsewhere, such as Georgia and North Carolina, they accounted for between one-quarter and one-third of the growth in homeowners.”
Proponents of immigration reform support granting legal status, or a “pathway to citizenship” for illegal immigrants currently in the United States. Legislation also includes increased border security.
Mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – both government-sponsored enterprises – were widely seen as responsible for the 2008 housing market crash. The White House statement calls for changing their “failed business model so taxpayers are never again on the hook for bad loans and bailouts.”
“Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should be wound down through a responsible transition, and the government role during normal times should be no bigger than necessary to achieve the principles laid out here,” the White House “fact sheet” states. “One of the failures of the old Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac model is that shareholders and senior managers benefited from implicit guarantees while taxpayers were on the hook.”
The plan states that “private capital must be wiped out before the government pays out on catastrophic guarantees provided through government reinsurance of private-market loans.”
Conservatives have long advocated reforms for the two GSE’s, but the Obama administration proposals for reform are fairly broad at this point and things could change as more details move forward.
The White House statement also said it “proposed $15 billion for Project Rebuild in the American Jobs Act to help more hard hit communities turn the corner to recovery by getting their construction workers back on the job rehabbing and in some cases demolishing blighted vacant homes, creating jobs and improving communities.”
Calif. Returns Husband’s Guns That Were Confiscated After Wife’s Voluntary Mental Health Visit — But They Still Haven’t Returned One Important ThingPosted August 6, 2013 at 12:32 pm by Liz Klimas
In mid-March Lynette Phillips’ home in California was visited by police who were there to confiscate her husband’s firearms and ammunition because she had spent three days in the hospital (checked herself in) for mental health reasons, making her ineligible under the state’s law to possess guns.
Nearly, The Blaze has learned, the firearms were returned to the family a month ago — but not the ammunition.
TheBlaze spoke with Phillips about the process of retrieving her husband’s guns and with her lawyer about why hundreds of dollars of ammo might not have been returned.
“It was basically waiting and paperwork,” Phillips said of the process, which took several months since the firearms were confiscated from her home in March by nine police in bulletproof vests with the Department of Justice.
“It’s a process, unfortunately, we should never have had to go through in the first place,” Phillips said, echoing a sentiment she expressed to TheBlaze after the firearms were initially taken.
At that time, Phillips told TheBlaze her husband was “upset that they took the right from us that should never have been taken.”
Why? Because Phillips explained that she had admitted herself to a hospital in December at the suggestion of her psychiatrist when she had reacted to an adjustment to her medication and could not stop crying. Here’s what TheBlaze previously reported of that situation:
Then, when she reviewed her file, Phillips said the nurse had recorded that she was involuntarily admitted and indicated she might be a suicide risk. Phillips claims the nurse had put words into her mouth.
“I kept telling her I had a grand-baby at home and had to be better for Christmas,” she said. “Does that sound like the words of someone who is a risk to themselves and others?”
Phillips believes — and noted online reviews of the center should substantiate her claims — that the process at the psychiatric hospital was a joke.
But Phillips at this point had been put on a list per the Welfare and Institutions Code section 8100, which states that a person who ”has been committed to a mental institution” can ”not possess or have under…her control any firearm.”
One of the three guns confiscated at the time was registered to Phillips. She had purchased it for her husband as a gift.
Since going through the paperwork to have the firearms reinstated to him, she told us they had to pay $19 to transfer one into his name and then another $20 to have it returned in general. She described where they picked up the firearms as an “unmarked building” in Riverside, California.
They are missing, however, what she estimates to be $400 to $600 in ammunition for the firearms, a critical component considering the nationwide ammunition shortage.
TheBlaze spoke with her attorney Chuck Michel who said he’s not surprised the ammunition was withheld at the time the guns were returned. He said most police departments have a policy in place that doesn’t allow both to be returned at the same time.
“The thing that they’re worried about is that the person loads up the gun in the lobby,” Michel said in a phone interview. “I understand that.”
Michel said Phillips could have pushed to get the ammunition back. Phillips worried, though, that because she still technically doesn’t have her gun rights reinstated that she could be prosecuted, so she left the ammo issue alone.
“Is it worth it to pursue? I decided no,” Phillips said.
TheBlaze contacted California’s DOJ for more details on its policy regarding return of ammunition but did not receive a response at the time of this posting.
Although Michel said he understands why the ammunition might not have been returned alongside the firearms, what he doesn’t understand is the process that got Phillips in this situation in the first place.
“This is the biggest problem with the mental health thing,” he said, “They keep everyone for up to 72 hours because they’re afraid of getting sued.”
There also were other missteps that occurred that now have Phillips in a position where she will have to appear before a judge in a hearing — likely with a statement from a psychiatrist stating that she isn’t considered a threat to herself or others, even though she was never diagnosed to be this by a doctor in the first place — to have her right to own a firearm restored.
California’s law also gets to the problem that many have been wrestling with when it comes to firearms and mental health: How does a doctor decide that someone is mentally ill enough to have this right revoked?
“How do you determine when someone is crazy or mentally unstable enough?” Michel asked. “It’s a hard societal issue to come to grips with.”
Check out photos taken by Bloomberg news from the night the firearms were confiscated by Phillips home.
This story has been updated to correct that Phillips time in the hospital for mental health reasons was less than 48 hours not 72 as originally reported. Phillips said the doctor at the hospital assessed her and members of her family, apologized for the issue of her being recorded as “involuntarily committed” as recorded incorrectly by a nurse, and released her.
Texas State Senator Who Became a Star for Pro-Abortion Stance Says She’s Not All That Familiar with the Kermit Gosnell CasePosted August 6, 2013 at 12:05 pm by Becket Adams
Texas State Senator Wendy Davis made headlines this year after she protested an abortion regulation bill that was written in response to the trial of Kermit Gosnell, a Philadelphia abortionist found guilty in May of murdering three children born alive in an abortion clinic.
And the Texas Democrat is apparently unfamiliar with the details of the case that prompted the bill she passionately opposes.
“I don’t know what happened in the Gosnell case,” the “pro-choice” icon said Monday when asked by The Weekly Standard to explain the difference between an abortion performed at 20 weeks of pregnancy and the crimes committed by Gosnell.
“But I do know that it happened in an ambulatory surgical center. And in Texas changing our clinics to that standard obviously isn’t going to make a difference.”
The new bill, dubbed SB5, imposes stricter sanitary regulations on abortion clinics and bans abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy.
“The state of the law obviously has to assure that doctors are providing safe procedures for women and that proper oversight by the health and human services department is being given,” she added. “It sounds as though there was a huge gap in that oversight, and no one can defend that. But that’s not the landscape of what’s happening in Texas.”
Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Planned Parenthood President Cecil Richards have also avoided explaining the difference between legal abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy and Gosnell’s murders.
“I again think that a lot of people don’t really understand the landscape of what’s happening in that arena today and what an incredibly small percentage of procedures take place there, but, ah –” she said before quickly turning to another reporter.
Lastly, Sen. Davis was asked what – if any – legal limits on abortion she does support.
“The Supreme Court has made that decision, and it’s one of the protected liberties under our Constitution, and I respect the Constitutional protections that are in place today,” she responded.
But, as noted by the Weekly Standard, this answer is not exactly accurate:
That was a dodge because the Supreme Court has never established a gestational age-limit on abortion. What the Supreme Court said in Planned Parenthood v. Casey is that states may limit abortions after viability, which the Court said in 1992 occurred at “23 to 24 weeks” into pregnancy. Medical advancements have moved the point of viability up to 22 weeks into pregnancy (20 weeks after conception), the point at which the Texas law and bill passed in the U.S. House of Representatives would ban most abortions.
Davis announced recently that she is deciding whether she will run for governor or reelection.
Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter
(H/T: TheBlog). Featured image Getty Images.
10-Year-Old Makes Stunning Archaeological Find in Grandma’s AtticPosted August 6, 2013 at 11:47 am by Liz Klimas
Attics can be a treasure trove of old stuff — from family photos to dusty furniture to boxes of holiday ornaments. But what a German boy found in his grandma’s attic was unlike anything one would expect to find in the storage space.
It is what appears to be a body.
According to Der Spiegel, 10-year-old Alexander Kettler found a sarcophagus with a mummy inside. Neither his grandmother nor grandfather had known it was ever in there.
“There was a huge sarcophagus and inside a mummy,” the grandfather, Lutz Wolfgang Kettler, said. “Then we opened the other cases and found an earthenware Egyptian death mask and a Canopic Jar.”
So how did it end up in the couple’s Lower Saxony attic unknown for decades? Kettler speculated that his own father might have brought it back. Der Spiegel reported Kettler saying his father had traveled to North Africa in the 1950s, although he didn’t speak much about his trip.
“He was of the older generation who experienced a lot in the war and didn’t really talk about anything. I do seem to remember him mentioning having been to the city of Derna in Libya,” Kettler said.
Watch this YouTube video for images of what was found and some commentary about its authenticity:
The Egypt Independent reported Mohamed Abdel Maqsoud with the country’s Ministry of Antiquities saying it is checking to see if the mummy was taken from the country illegally, seeing if it is also registered at any museums. The ministry will also be looking into the history of the family itself to figure out how they might have come to possess the mummy.
If the mummy is found to be an artifact that belongs to Egypt, the country plans on bringing it back.
Kettler said his plan was to bring the mummy to Berlin where an archaeologist contact would verify its authenticity through X-ray.
Shark Attack Victim Credits God Following Deadly Bite — But You Won’t Believe the Other Bizarre Things He’s Allegedly SurvivedPosted August 6, 2013 at 11:29 am by Billy Hallowell
Erik Norrie’s story is a harrowing one, but in the end, he’s a survivor. While vacationing in the Bahamas on July 29, Norrie was attacked by a shark. At the time, he was snorkeling and spear-fishing in five-feet of water with his family when the sea creature took a chunk out of his leg. His survival, Norrie says, can be wholly credited to his faith in God.
Despite his upbeat nature in discussing his most recent plight, the man seems to regularly have the odds stacked against him. According to WTVT-TV, Norrie has had his fair share of bizarre experiences. He’s apparently been struck by lightning (there’s about a one in 700,000 chance of this happening each year), bitten by a rattlesnake (fewer than one in 37,500 are bitten by poisonous snakes each year) and punched by monkeys two times (no stats are readily available on this phenomenon).
Yes, you read all of that correctly. Norrie is highly-experienced in dealing with relatively uncommon — and unpalatable — experiences. And shark attacks are the rarest of these incidents. After all, the chances of being bitten were, in 2000, just one in 11.5 million, according to the International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum of Natural History.
As for his latest experience, Norrie says that he thought he was going to die in the wake of the shark attack and that God sustained him. From his hospital bed (he’s expected to need several major skin graft surgeries), he told WVTV-TV that his faith in God is what brought him through.
“I didn’t keep my head cool. The Lord kept my head cool, because I couldn’t have done it without Him,” he told the outlet.
His wife and daughters, too, prayed out loud as they rushed to seek medical attention following the attack and were overjoyed that their pleas for a miracle were answered.
While the news outlet doesn’t mention his specific faith perspective, based on verses that he regularly shares on his personal Facebook page, Norrie is a Christian.
His LinkedIn page says that he lives in Largo, Florida, and that he is the CEO of New Nautical Coatings, Inc., a company that provides paint and finishing to ships and boats.
It also appears Norrie wrote a book, entitled, “Stepping Into the Light.” On Amazon, it’s description reads:
Stepping into the light is for those who want to learn how to grow in their walk with the Lord. It clearly explains in fresh, dynamic ways how to understand the principles needed to live a fruitful life with ever increasing faith. We all face obstacles. Often times unexpected events knock us off track. But this book is for people who are interested in getting back up and moving ahead. The choices we make, the attitudes we have, the pressure from friends that can sway us from the right decisions, all are part of the daily decisions we can meet head on and even use to make us stronger and better prepared to live a life of victory.
It seems Norrie has quite a story to tell. With a shark attack, lightning strike, monkey punches and a rattlesnake bite behind him, the Christian businessman has quite a convincing tale of faith and perseverance to tell.
Palestinian Activist’s Shock Rant at Toronto Al-Quds Day Rally: Give Israel’s Jews 2 Minute Warning, then Shoot ThemPosted August 6, 2013 at 10:58 am by Sharona Schwartz
If Israeli Jews do not leave Jerusalem, they should be shot, says a Palestinian community leader speaking at Toronto’s annual Al-Quds Day rally. He added, however, that they should be given a two-minute warning before being shot.
“We say get out or you are dead. We give them two minutes and then we start shooting and that’s the only way they will understand,” said the speaker, who the Jewish Telegraphic Agency identified as Former President of Palestine House in Toronto, Elias Hazineh.
In the Saturday event that was captured on video, one hears audience members shouting, “That’s right!”
“We have to give them an ultimatum. You have to leave Jerusalem. You have to leave Palestine, and the people of Palestine who have been waiting in refugee camps in Lebanon, in Syria, in Egypt and in Jordan must have their right to return to their homes,” Hazineh said.
He quoted from the Koran, which according to Israel National News in English is translated as: “And prepare against them whatever you are able of power and steeds of war.”
“That’s the only thing that they’ll understand!” the speaker added.
According to an explanation posted on YouTube, the verse addresses the preparation for jihad against the “infidels.”
Promoting a theme commonly cited among anti-Israel activists suggesting Israel usurped Palestinian land, Hazineh said, “I want to remind you of how police work. When somebody tries to rob a bank the police gets in, they don’t negotiate and we’ve been negotiating with them for 65 years.”
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports that Al-Quds Day is marked every year in Toronto. A global Al-Quds Day was established by the late Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini as a vehicle to push for “liberation” of Jerusalem, or Al-Quds in Arabic.
Demonstrators waved Iranian, Syrian and Hezbollah flags, as well as photos of Ayatollah Khomeini, according to Israel National News, which describes the participants as “a mixture of around 300 Shi’a Islamists, radical leftists, and a small group of Neturei Karta activists, who were apparently unfazed by the event taking place on Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath).” Neturei Karta is an ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect that opposes the existence of Israel as a Jewish state.
This year, the Ontario Legislature denied a permit to the group to hold the rally on its grounds, citing “public safety.” Additionally, Israel National News reports that Sunni Muslims boycotted the event over anger at the continued hostilities involving Syrian President Bashar Assad, a close Iranian ally.
JTA reports, “Last year, the federal government cut funding to Palestine House, which had offered newcomer settlement and language instruction services, because of what Ottawa called the cultural center’s ‘pattern of support for extremism.’”
Watch the video of the speech here:
FEC Official: New Emails Show Agency May Have Colluded With IRS in Political Targeting ScandalPosted August 6, 2013 at 10:47 am by Becket Adams
The vice chairman of the Federal Election Commission said Monday he had seen undisclosed email exchanges between FEC employees and the Internal Revenue Service that show the two agencies may have worked together to target conservative groups.
Don McGahn’s admission would seem to confirm earlier reports that raised questions regarding a possible collusion between the two agencies.
An investigator with the FEC had contacted Lois Lerner, the IRS official at the center of the targeting scandal, to discuss the status of the American Future Fund, a conservative political advocacy group, McGahn told CNN.
Shortly after Lerner was contacted, the IRS sent a questionnaire to the conservative group.
“Who’s the dog and who’s the tail (in this case)? Who knows,” McGahn said. But “dealing with Lois Lerner is probably out of the ordinary.”
Lerner worked for the FEC from 1986 to 1995 and was famous for her “aggressive” investigation of conservative groups.
The emails “could be benign (or) could be more sinister,” McGahn said, noting that the email exchanges are not a smoking gun.
Still, he continued, the emails call for further investigation.
Also, it’s worth noting that FEC staffers were apparently never cleared to reach out to the IRS — an apparent departure from FEC protocol, McGahn, a Republican, said.
Republican congressional investigators, including Congressman Darell Issa (R-Calif.), have made numerous and repeated requests for copies of the email exchanges.
FEC Democratic Chairwoman Ellen L. Weintraub said she is unfamiliar with any email exchanges between her agency and the IRS.
“If there was any evidence or targeting based on ideology, that would be extremely serious, but I have not seen any evidence of that,” she said.
“I am not aware of requesting or receiving any confidential taxpayer information. I am not aware of any requests for anything that wasn’t publicly available,” she added.
Lois Lerner, who earlier this year invoked her Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, had contacted an FEC attorney with questions involving conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status, National Review Online reported last week.
The FEC attorney wrote in an email to Lerner in February 2009: “Several months ago . . . I spoke with you about the American Future Fund, a 501(c)(4) organization that had submitted an exemption application the IRS [sic].”
The FEC, the NRO report adds, is not exempted under Rule 6103, which prohibits the IRS from sharing sensitive taxpayer data. And based on the email exchanges, it looks like Lerner and an unnamed FEC attorney may have been trading confidential taxpayer information.
Here’s a troubling line from the FEC attorney: “When we spoke last July, you had told us that the American Future Fund had not received an exemption letter from the IRS.”
Again, along with the IRS being prohibited from discussing or disclosing personal tax information, FEC staffers were supposedly never cleared to contact the IRS about these issues.
“Things seemed weird to me” McGahn told CNN. “The FEC has not had a good track record with calling balls and strikes. They’ve been criticized for not playing fair.”
The emails create “the appearance that people are being selectively targeted. And that’s something that should never happen,” he added.
Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter
Featured image Getty Images.
Former President George W. Bush Recovering After Heart SurgeryPosted August 6, 2013 at 10:08 am by Associated Press
DALLAS (AP) — Former President George W. Bush successfully underwent a heart procedure in Dallas on Tuesday after doctors discovered a blockage in an artery during his annual physical, Bush spokesman Freddy Ford said.
“At the recommendation of his doctors, President Bush agreed to have a stent placed to open the blockage,” Ford said. “The procedure was performed successfully this morning, without complication, at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.”
Bush, 67, was expected to be discharged Wednesday and resume his normal schedule the following day.
The blockage was discovered Monday during Bush’s physical at the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, where the nation’s 43rd president lives.
Bush was described as being “in high spirits” and eager to return home.
“He is grateful to the skilled medical professionals who have cared for him,” Ford said. “He thanks his family, friends, and fellow citizens for their prayers and well wishes. And he encourages us all to get our regular check-ups.”
Bush has no previous history of heart trouble.
In May 2004, toward the end of his first term, Bush fell from his mountain bike during a 17-mile ride. He was wearing a helmet and mouthguard but sustained scrapes and scratches to his face, hand and knees. In July 2005, he crashed his bike again while on a slick pavement in Scotland and suffered some bruises and scrapes to a hand and arm.
In 2002, he briefly lost consciousness while watching a football game on TV at the White House and hit his head. The incident was blamed on him not feeling well and an improperly eaten pretzel.
In 1998 and 1999, while governor of Texas, he had two benign colonic polyps removed. In 2002, while president, he had a follow-up colonoscopy and invoked a section of the 25th Amendment temporarily transferring presidential powers to Vice President Dick Cheney. The colonoscopy showed no signs of cancer.
Dramatic New Video Shows the Moment a Semi-Truck Flies Off an Overpass and Barely Misses a Passing CarPosted August 6, 2013 at 9:54 am by Liz Klimas
A semi-truck flew off a highway overpass in Texas over the weekend, killing the driver and narrowly missing a car that had just passed moments before the truck crashed and burst into flames.
A camera caught the whole ordeal on video just now being released. It shows the 18-wheeler being launched from the Interstate 30 ramp into the north-bound State Highway 161 lane. The incident occurred in Grand Prairie, which is between Dallas and Fort Worth, on Saturday afternoon, according to the Dallas News.
Watch raw footage of the dramatic scene posted by KTVT-TV:
The driver, who was later identified as 59-year-old James Long from Tennessee, was killed, the Fort Worth Star Telegram reported.
The accident occurred as the rig somehow went between the guardrail and retaining wall on the ramp. WFAA-TV reported that both what lead to the accident and Long’s official cause of death are still being investigated.
The President George Bush Turnpike was closed in both directions for several hours as a result, Grand Prairie police spokesman Lyle Gensler said.
This isn’t the first flying semi-truck accident within the past week either. Late last week in Indiana, another trucker’s dashcam caught a separate semi flying up into the air over a road and then exploding upon impact when it crashed back down.
Check out the footage:
WXIX reported in this case the driver Ryan Young of Owenton, Kentucky, and his 7-year-old son only suffered minor injuries and scratches.
Rush Limbaugh’s Fascinating Theory on the Media and ApplePosted August 6, 2013 at 9:05 am by Fred Lucas
While you may be used to Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh offering thoughts on current political issues, last week he waded into the tech waters with a new comparison involving Apple, journalists, and the GOP.
Last Thursday, the talk radio personality said tech bloggers are biased against Apple the same way that the mainstream media is biased against Republicans.
“I would venture to say that nine out of 10 bloggers writing high-tech hate Apple,” Limbaugh said on his radio show. “Apple is the equivalent of the Republicans on these blogs, and Google, Android, and Samsung are the equivalent of the Democrats. They’re perfect, they can’t do anything wrong, they’re ideal, and everybody hates Apple.”
Limbaugh, who recently celebrated 25 years in national syndication, is best known for edgy political commentary. But he is also a fan of tech blogs, and occasionally speaks well of Apple products on the program.
Limbaugh said he didn’t think even the minority of pro-Apple tech bloggers were Republicans.
“This entire universe of tech bloggers is probably liberal Democrat, in their politics,” Limbaugh said.
He added, “most of them think they’re young and hip, pop culture hip, that’s high-tech, of course it would be.”
But he spoke well of the tech bloggers professionalism, saying they were journalists. Still, he had had a question for other tech reporters, “would you try to open your eyes and see that in the mainstream media, the Republican Party is Apple, and the Democrat Party is Samsung, Google, and Android?”
(H/T: The Verge)
Man Allegedly Posts CraigsList Ads Offering to Sell Love Interest’s Baby for $100Posted August 6, 2013 at 9:00 am by Billy Hallowell
File this one under “unbelievable.” A Staten Island, New York, man was arrested last week after allegedly posting ads to sell his girlfriend’s (or potential love interest — we’re unsure) baby on CraigsList. Yes, really.
Paul Marquez, 22, purportedly posted a photo of the baby in a section of the site called “baby+kids.” He explained that the child loves to play, but that she is getting on his nerves. He essentially offered her up, according to accounts of what unfolded, to anyone who would want to take her off his hands.
“Heyy I have a 2 month old baby name [redacted] she loves to play nd have her little fun but there is only 1 problem, the doctor said that she has asthma nd if she turns a certain way she can stop breathing, she’s really getting on my nerves nd I don’t want her Please email me,” he allegedly wrote (spelling kept intact).
CraigsList users decided to flag the ad, Gawker reports, and it was subsequently taken down. But that apparently didn’t stop Marquez, who is said to have posted a second ad. This latter offer of the infant led the NYPD to investigate and the posts were inevitably traced to the man’s apartment.
The Stated Island Advance has more about Marquez and the bizarre case:
It turned out Marquez, who works in the stock room at the Staten Island Mall’s Victoria’s Secret store, was chatting with the woman online, and had gone out with her a few times, sources said. He got a photo of the infant girl by exchanging a photo of his own 2-year-old daughter, whom he had fathered with another woman, sources said.
Court papers allege that he posted the ad to “get back at” the woman, identified in court papers as Katie Devalle, and gave out her phone number in the process.
The woman told a detective that she received a call based on the ad by someone offering to buy the young girl, court papers allege. Police are still investigating the identity of the caller, authorities said.
The Advocate claims that sources say Marquez put the CraigsList post up because he “got bored and wanted to get a little laugh and a little kick out of it.”
While it may have been a prank or an effort to get back at his love interest for not paying enough attention to him (two ideas that are floating around), there are some very real ramifications for his actions. He’s been arrested on second-degree aggravated harassment and endangering the welfare of a child charges, among other purported violations. As a result, Marquez could face one year in jail.
Featured Photo Credit: ShutterStock.com
Strong Public School Advocate Matt Damon Found to Send His Kids to Private SchoolPosted August 6, 2013 at 8:45 am by Liz Klimas
Actor Matt Damon was very vocal about his advocacy in favor of the public school system at the keynote speaker at the Washington, D.C., Save Our Schools march slightly more than two years ago. Now, Damon is admitting he had to make the “big, big, big” decision to send his own children to private school.
But the reason as to why is not what you might think.
In an interview with The Guardian published Friday, Damon explained that this decision came as he and his wife are moving their children from New York to Los Angeles. And it turns out that public schools just aren’t quite progressive enough for the Damon brood.
“I mean, I pay for a private education and I’m trying to get the one that most matches the public education that I had, but that kind of progressive education no longer exists in the public system. It’s unfair,” Damon told The Guardian.
He said there was a “giant family discussion” around the topic and he felt “ultimately we don’t have a choice.”
Since this decision was announced, some have pounced calling Damon a hypocrite.
In addition to fretting a bit over the decision to move his children out of the public school system — he is the son of a public school teacher and went through the system himself — Damon expressed to The Guardian that he worries how L.A. will change the normalcy he said his family has experienced in New York City.
He also said he takes into particular consideration the privilege his children experience as a result of his wealth.
“Our kids are growing up with more privilege than we had; that’s true for most of my friends in LA. I don’t know any actor who grew up with any particular privilege, so everyone wrestles with this,” Damon told The Guardian. “And I think a lot of times it’s about being patient with your kids.”
“It’s something we talk about a lot, but I think ultimately it’s about giving them an understanding of the world. So at least they can get some context for where they fit into everything,” he continued.
Watch Damon’s speech in July 2011 at the Save Our Schools rally in D.C. (Note: Damon starts speaking at 1:55):
Check out The Guardian’s full article for more on “where did it all go right for the leftwing activist.”
(H/T: Daily Mail)
‘F**k You!’: Fiery Heckler Clashes With Anthony Weiner as Sparks — and Expletives — FlyPosted August 6, 2013 at 8:32 am by Billy Hallowell
On Monday night, embattled New York City mayoral hopeful Anthony Weiner encountered a heckler who let him know — expletives and all — what she really thinks of him. Jane Borock came armed with her cell phone, telling the former Congressman that he is “disgusting” and “an embarrassment,” among other offensive sentiments.
His attempts to calm Borock, a 35-year-old art director, were epic failures, as the woman continued to unleash on him.
“You are disgusting! You are an embarrassment of a third-generation native,” she said. “Your little overnight sleepover in public housing. F**k you! Go back to your little Hamptons house.”
Weiner, at first hoping to stop the chaos, told Borock that he admired her passion. But that apparently wasn’t enough to stop her, as she apparently didn’t show up to make nice.
“I’m passionate? More passionate than you on Twitter. I’m a social media expert,” she responded. “Get someone to handle your s**t! You are disgusting. Disgusting,“ she continued, according to Politicker.
From there, Weiner lectured Borock, urging her to calm down and noting that children were around. Of course, she told the mayoral candidate that he’s in no position to speak about appropriateness (or the lack thereof). Later, they clashed again, with Weiner telling her, with more fervency and force, to leave him alone.
“One person yelling isn’t going to stop me! The kind of mayor I’m gonna be is going to be to stand up to people yelling!,” he said, later adding, “I love how crazy I make some people.”
Watch part of the clash, below:
Following the spat, a woman on Twitter with the username @Jane_Plantain took credit for the incident; her name is listed on the profile as Jane Borock and a website by the same name is linked as well. Here are some of her tweets:
You can read a transcript of the entire clash here.
New York Times Slammed for Downplaying Dangers of Palestinian Stone-Throwing ‘Hobby’Posted August 6, 2013 at 8:29 am by Sharona Schwartz
The New York Times published a front page story Monday about a West Bank village in which scores of boys spend their time throwing stones at Israelis. That article is eliciting criticism from pro-Israel mainstream media watchdogs who say it romanticizes the violent pastime which can be deadly.
The story, “In a West Bank Culture of Conflict, Boys Wield the Weapon at Hand,” profiles 17-year-old Muhammad Abu Hashem who has been arrested four times in three years for throwing stones at Israeli soldiers and civilians. The Times reports that his five brothers have all faced similar charges of throwing stones and that three of the boys and their father were in prison at the same time last year.
“Children have hobbies, and my hobby is throwing stones,” Muhammad told the Times. “A day with a confrontation is better than a free day.”
In the village of Beit Ommar between Bethlehem and Hebron, Jerusalem Bureau Chief Jodi Rudoren writes, “rock throwing is a rite of passage and an honored act of defiance.”
“They throw because there is little else to do in Beit Ommar — no pool or cinema, no music lessons after school, no part-time jobs other than peddling produce along the road. They do it because their brothers and fathers did,” the Times writes, describing the Palestinian perspective.
Among the sites criticizing the piece:
CAMERA: “The New York Times Romanticizes Palestinian Stone Throwers and Ignores Their Victims”
Honest Reporting: “Note to New York Times: Throwing Stones is an Act of Violence”
The Washington Free Beacon: “NYT Downplays Deadly Results of Palestinian Rock-throwing ‘Hobby’”
The American Thinker: “NYT Absolves Stone-throwing Palestinian Youth”
Honest Reporting calls the Times piece an effort of “some in the media to glorify the violence,” adding, “New York Times reporter Jodi Rudoren is the latest apologist to present Palestinian stone throwers as noble defenders of their land and victims of Israeli oppression rather than as violent criminals.” It writes:
…Rudoren goes to great lengths to build sympathy for the Palestinian youth and his family, noting how his mother made sure to give him a long sleeve shirt for his stay in prison because “they both knew it would be cold in the interrogation room.”
The “settlers” don’t receive nearly the same level of empathy, even when they are the victims of the rocks being thrown. Menuha Shvat, the only Gush Etzion resident quoted in the story, is also the only one who discusses how dangerous rock throwing can be.
The Times mentions that a man and his baby son died in 2011 when their car was attacked by Palestinian stone throwers and flipped over. Honest Reporting takes issue with the Times, because it “does not even bother to name the Israeli victims she mentions. In fact, the man’s name is Asher Palmer, and his one-year old son is Yonatan. And they didn’t simply die. They were killed, and the Palestinians who threw the rocks were convicted of murder.”
“To her credit, Rudoren attempts to present the values of the local Palestinians in their own terms. But the moral ambiguity that comes across in the article carries a price. By allowing the glorification of violence to go unchallenged, the article becomes yet another piece that fails to hold the Palestinians to any form of accountability,” writes Honest Reporting.
The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) writes, “Stones kill, maim, wound and change people’s lives forever. Israeli infants have been slain, toddlers critically wounded and adults have sustained severe head injuries or were hospitalized with lighter injuries, all due to Palestinian stone throwers.”
It adds, “…this was a story that romanticized and heroized the Palestinian perpetrators. It is they – not the Israeli dead and injured – who are presented as the victims, ‘provoked by the situation,’ forced into this type of ‘futile’ hobby, only to be arrested and incarcerated by fierce, powerful Israeli soldiers.”
CAMERA writes, “Her article focuses on the perpetrators’ excuses, justifications for and pride in their actions, as well as the hardships they endure when arrested for their activities,” such as missing school.
The American Thinker writes, “Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren offers a lengthy list of plaudits received by stone-throwing boys, but you’d be hard put to find any explanatory note by Rudoren that these are lethal weapons that maim or kill their targets. Basically, Rudoren views stone-throwing as simply an interesting cultural phenomenon. She clearly shies away from condemning such tactics.”
Jonathan Tobin of Commentary Magazine writes, “…though the story only mentions the victims of the stone throwing in passing in one sentence, flinging a large rock at an individual or a moving vehicle is not a game. It is a form of terrorism. Such actions are felonious assaults by any definition of the law. The purpose of the stone throwing is not making a political statement but to inflict injury and even death on those so unfortunate as to be in range of these missiles.”
TheBlaze has reported on a number of the Palestinian rock-throwing attacks, including the killing of the Palmers. The dramatic photo seen above was captured by AFP last year in the same village, Beit Ommar, profiled by the New York Times.
Yisrael Medad who writes the “My Right Word” blog reports that from January to June of this year, there have been 5,144 stonings, 611 Molotov cocktail attacks, 8 shootings and 3 stabbings perpetrated against Israelis in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem.
In comparison with the Palestinian perspective, CAMERA explains, in the U.S., stone-throwing is viewed as a serious offense. For example, an American teen was handed a life sentence in 1986 for throwing a stone from an overpass that killed a toddler in a car below. And in 2010, two teenagers in South Carolina were “indicted on first degree murder charges after killing a woman sitting in the front seat of a car with a stone hurled from an overpass.”
The same village profiled by the Times was in the news in May when a red flag with a swastika was seen flying near a mosque there.
This Mom’s Open Letter to ‘Mystery Man’ at a Baseball Game May Help Restore Your Faith in HumanityPosted August 6, 2013 at 8:09 am by Jonathon M. Seidl
Editor’s note: Be sure to scroll down for our video interview with the mom behind the post.
“Dear Section 113, Row 17, Seat 22.”
That’s how the open letter from Sarah Kooiman to a man at a baseball game in Milwaukee starts. And while many open letters usually end with a grievance, this one is different: it ends with a heartfelt thank you for what the “mystery man” did at the game.
Kooiman is a mother of three young boys, and on Sunday she and her husband took the kids to a Milwaukee Brewers game at Miller Park using tickets from her husband’s job. She was nervous.
“The weather was absolutely perfect for a day at Miller Park, but my anxiety level was still high because – let’s face it – I was bringing THE CHILDREN,” she wrote on her blog on Monday. “Not just the big kids, not just one of them, but all three boys. Together. At the same time.”
And her fears were somewhat realized.
“Isaiah was jacked up for his trip to the ballpark and his behavior reflected that,” she explained. “Every thirty seconds came pleas for cotton candy, sunflower seeds, popcorn, ice cream, balloon animals, face paint, and other such nonsense. Micah behaved like, well…..Micah and Thomas didn’t have a seat so he was basically crawling all over the place for the entirety of the game.”
Surrounding fans, she worried, would be upset. But that’s when she noticed a man in front of her who appeared to be on a date being anything but annoyed [emphasis added]:
But you were not annoyed by the number of times you were jabbed in the back as Thomas crawled like a monkey from seat to seat. Instead, you turned around and frequently engaged in conversation with my children, proclaiming that Thomas would be stealing his big brothers’ girlfriends in about 15 years so I had better be ready.
You couldn’t have been older than 24 or 25 and you were clearly at the ballpark yesterday to spend some time with the lovely young woman you had your arm around. Still, you made it a point to chat with Isaiah and encourage him to try to catch a foul ball and even took it upon yourself to race him down to the Brewers dugout three times in the middle of innings in the hope of getting a game ball tossed his way. You promised my son, “We will get you a ball, kiddo.” (For the record, Daddy also brought Isaiah down there and struck out as well.)
Later in the ninth inning, she explained how the man brought young Isaiah down to the dugout one more time and promised to get him a ball. But alas, it didn’t work. No ball.
Then came the surprise.
“That’s when you knelt down and gave him a Milwaukee Brewers baseball,” she wrote. “His eyes lit up, he took it from you slowly and you told him, ‘Hey, I promised you a ball.’”
“Thank you for what you did for my son at Miller Park on a beautiful Sunday afternoon,” she said. “As we were preparing to leave the stadium, I reached out my hand to offer my sincere thanks for your act of kindness. To my surprise, you pulled me in for a hug.”
It all shows the importance of small acts of kindness, Kooiman said:
It can be so easy to forget sometimes how small acts of kindness can have such a huge impact on our fellow humans. Holding open a door, offering a seat on a bus or subway, paying for a stranger’s coffee. All teeny little choices that can become a bright spot in an otherwise difficult day.
But you did more than that, sir. You made my boy feel like a rockstar. You didn’t have to. You chose to. And I am sincerely grateful to you for it. When my wiped-out children were tucked into bed last night, I took a few minutes to thank God for you. I asked that He bless you and draw near to you wherever you were. I prayed that the Lord would encourage you and honor your kindness by bringing joy to your heart.
Now when Kooiman originally posted the letter early Monday she had no idea who the man was, and she was hoping to find him. Well, thanks to the new age of viral media, within hours she had a name.
“I went to work at 4:00 this afternoon and put my phone in my purse while I waited tables,” she wrote in an update around 10:30 pm Monday. “When my shift was over, I looked at my phone and was surprised it had not actually blown up from the amount of Facebook messages, Tweets, and emails that had been bombarding my inbox. And among them? The name of the Mystery Man who had given Isaiah the baseball. As soon as I had a chance, I sent him a message on Facebook to personally thank him for the extra mile he went for us.”
In another update less than an hour later, she said they had talked via Facebook messages.
“I have successfully contacted the person who gave Isaiah the ball via Facebook and he is being very gracious about this whole thing,” she wrote.
Kooiman initially didn’t want to give out his name on her blog, but she did identify him to local TV station WTMJ-TV. His name? Chad McLaughlin.
You can read Kooiman’s full letter and some more updates on McLaughlin over at her blog.
Kooiman joined TheBlaze’s Editor-in-Chief Scott Baker and story author Jonathon M. Seidl to discuss her blog post on the BlazeCast Tuesday afternoon. She relived the day, talked about some of the surprisingly negative reaction (35:24), and even brought everyone to tears with a line from her story (31:22).
Watch below (and notice the local TV crew in the background, which was there to film just how viral the story is going):
Priest Arrested After Police Allegedly Find Him Behind a Cemetery With a ProstitutePosted August 6, 2013 at 8:01 am by Billy Hallowell
A priest with the Archdiocese of Boston is under fire after allegedly being found with a prostitute in the most unlikely of locations — behind a cemetery. In the wake of media coverage and legal troubles, Monsignor Arthur Coyle, 62, has decided to take a voluntarily leave of absence, according to the archdiocese. He is currently the episcopal vicar for the Merrimack Region, which makes him a relatively high-level, local faith leader.
The priest’s arrest took place on Sunday when he allegedly offered a prostitute money for sex. Coyle purportedly told authorities that he paid $40 for oral sex from 38-year-old Siriwan Kongkaen (a woman who police claim has been arrested repeatedly), but that the act had not been undertaken.
The faith leader was caught after authorities noticed a known prostitute in the passenger seat of his car, the Boston Globe reports. Now, he faces legal ramifications.
While his voluntary leave may have been on his own accord, Coyle had very clear restrictions placed upon him by the archdiocese, the Boston Globe reports.
“While on administrative leave, Msgr. Coyle is prohibited from performing any public ministry,” read a statement from the Catholic Church. “These restrictions will remain in place pending the outcome of the case. The steps taken today do not represent a determination of Msgr. Coyle’s guilt or innocence as it pertains to these charges.”
This also apparently isn’t the first time police saw Coyle frequenting an area where prostitutes generally roam. In November, authorities claim they pulled him over and asked why he was driving in an area that is known for this practice.
Bail was set at $500 and Coyle is slated to head back to court on Sept. 16. He is charged with paying a fee for sexual conduct, the Globe reports.
The Archdiocese of Boston website claims that the priest was ordained in 1977; he was appointed episcopal vicar in 2008 and has been overseeing local dioceses since. The Catholic Church’s press release announcing Coyle’s voluntary administrative leave also calls for prayer for everyone involved with and impacted by the situation.
Renowned Escape Artist to Jump Out of a Plane Today While Handcuffed, Chained and Locked Inside a CasketPosted August 6, 2013 at 7:16 am by Billy Hallowell
Written by the Associated Press. Posted by TheBlaze’s Billy Hallowell.
OTTAWA, Ill. (TheBlaze/AP) — Imagine the terror of being handcuffed, chained and locked inside a wooden casket that is subsequently dragged out of an airplane at 14,500 feet.
That’s the scenario Anthony Martin, described by Ripley’s Believe it or Not as the “King of Escapists,”faces later Tuesday when he takes to the sky over Serena in northern Illinois.
On his website, Martin describes what, exactly, an escape artist is — and what he or she does:
Webster’s New World Dictionary defines an escape artist as: “An entertainer, as in vaudeville, who is SKILLED at escaping from shackles or other confinement.”
The expressed nature of the definition requires that the “shackles or other confinement” be legitimate and devoid of trickery. The use of “trick” devices negates the need for skill, and therefore fails to meet the Webster’s definition.
Performers who use locking devices that have been secretly altered to facilitate escape would best be defined under the term “Magician” or “Illusionist.” The emphasis of their skill being on the presentation (lighting, theatrics, camera editing) rather than the actual manipulation of lock mechanisms under controlled conditions.
Considering today’s feat, it will be intriguing to see how the dare-devil handles it — and how the public reacts.
“How many of us have never been in a situation that we wished we could get out of?” the 47-year-old escape artist asked recently with a sly grin.
And he’s quick to insist, he’s no fake.
Here’s video of Martin skydiving (from his perspective) while handcuffed:
Martin said his father shattered his early fascination with magic when he explained the trickery behind a floating pen illusion. So at age 6, he resolved to find a more respectable means of impressing an audience and began studying the art of escape.
“I thought that skill and knowledge could surpass trickery and magic,” he said.
Martin took locks apart until he understood how the mechanisms operate and are put together.
“At 10 I had pretty much started to specialize in escapes,” Martin says. “By the time I was 13, the sheriff was locking me in his handcuffs. And I was getting out.”
Jumping from a raft into a lake at age 11 — naturally, with his hands cuffed behind his back — whet Martin’s appetite for high risk escapes. So in February 1990, he performed his most dangerous water stunt, in which he was locked in a cage and lowered through a hole in the ice and into the frigid water at a Wisconsin quarry. It took him one minute and 45 seconds to emerge.
“It was very, very cold,” Martin said. “It doesn’t take long for your fingers, even with gloves, to get numb and lose effectiveness … you have to work very quickly.”
Martin now is planning to revisit arguably his most dangerous escape — an August 1988 stunt in which he escaped from a casket dropped from a plane at 13,500 feet. It was just his 17th skydive.
On Tuesday, Martin will lay inside a plywood box with his hands cuffed to a belt around his waist and his right arm chained to the inside of the box. The casket’s door will then be held tight with a prison door lock for which no key exists; a locksmith scrambled the tumblers.
And here’s some of Martin’s most shocking stunts:
The box will be rolled out of the plane — a Short SC.7 Skyvan — at about 14,500 feet. Two skydivers will stabilize the box by holding handles on the side while a drogue similar to the parachutes used to slow drag-racing cars and fighter jets will further steady it from the top as Martin picks the locks. He expects to be free and tracking away at around 7,000 feet after about 40 seconds of free fall, and plans to land on a farm in Serena, 70 miles southwest of Chicago.
On Monday, Martin exuded calm, saying his only concerns are for the other people involved in the jump.
“You try to get yourself to the point where there’s really not a lot of fear involved. Fear is one of those emotions that kind of distracts from your ability to think clearly and be effective,” he said.
And how did Martin plan to prepare the night before his escape-or-die skydive?
“I’m just going to find something cool to watch on television,” he said. “I’m not going to change a thing. It’s just business.”
For a full list of Martin’s stunts, check out his website.
State Department Urges U.S. Citizens to Leave Yemen ‘Immediately’ Due to Terror ThreatPosted August 6, 2013 at 6:58 am by Sharona Schwartz
The State Department on Tuesday urged U.S citizens to depart Yemen “immediately” and ordered the departure of non-emergency U.S. government personnel from the country due to the continued potential for terrorist attacks, according to a statement posted on the U.S. Embassy website in Sana’a.
CNN’s Barbara Starr reports that the “US military has evacuated two planes of American citizens out of Yemen following order for immediate departure.”
Fox News quoted Pentagon spokesman George Little saying that Air Force jets evacuated non-essential embassy staff out of the capital, Sana’a early Tuesday morning.
“The U.S. Department of Defense continues to have personnel on the ground in Yemen to support the U.S. State Department and monitor the security situation,” Little said.
These developments are due to the Al-Qaeda threat that led to the temporary shutdown of 19 U.S. embassies and consulates in the Middle East and Africa, the Associated Press reports.
An “Emergency Message” posted Tuesday on the U.S. Embassy’s website reads:
The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the high security threat level in Yemen due to terrorist activities and civil unrest. The Department urges U.S. citizens to defer travel to Yemen and those U.S. citizens currently living in Yemen to depart immediately.
On August 6, 2013, the Department of State ordered the departure of non-emergency U.S. government personnel from Yemen due to the continued potential for terrorist attacks.
“U.S. citizens currently in Yemen should depart,” the message reads, adding “The security threat level in Yemen is extremely high.”
The Embassy emphasizes that “Terrorist organizations, including Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), continue to be active throughout Yemen.”
“The U.S. government remains highly concerned about possible attacks on U.S. citizens (whether visiting or residing in Yemen), and U.S. facilities, businesses, and perceived U.S. and Western interests,” it says.
“As staff levels at the Embassy are restricted, our ability to assist U.S. citizens in an emergency and provide routine consular services remains limited and may be further constrained by the fluid security situation,” the warning adds.
Also on Tuesday, a suspected U.S. drone attack is believed to have killed four Al-Qaeda members in Yemen.
The Associated Press quotes officials who said that a drone fired a missile at a car in the district of Marib, sparking a fire that killed all four men inside. The AP reports that one was believed to be a senior Al-Qaeda member.
This would be the fourth strike of its kind in less than two weeks, according to the AP.
The AP quoted officials speaking on condition of anonymity and reports: “A U.S. intelligence official and a Mideast diplomat told The Associated Press that the current shutdown of embassies in the Middle East and Africa was instigated by an intercepted secret message between al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahri and Nasser al-Wahishi, the leader of the Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, about plans for a major terror attack.”
“AQAP has been widely considered al-Qaida’s most dangerous affiliate for several years,” the AP adds.
The British government also issued a warning Tuesday telling UK citizens to leave Yemen. The UK has withdrawn all staff from its embassy and writes to its nationals, “If you don’t leave the country now while commercial carriers are still flying it is extremely unlikely that the British government will be able to evacuate you or provide consular assistance.”
This is a breaking news story and may be updated.
And the Number One Party School in the Nation Is…Posted August 5, 2013 at 11:59 pm by Associated Press
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — College students consider the University of Iowa the nation’s best party school, even though Iowa City has tried to make its famous bar scene less hospitable to underage drinkers.
The Princeton Review bestowed Iowa with the top ranking Monday on a list determined by 126,000 students in a nationwide survey. Rounding out the Top 5 are: University of California, Santa Barbara; the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; West Virginia University and Syracuse University.
The organization also released its “stone-cold sober schools” list – led again this year by Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah; and followed by Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill.
Officials in Iowa City aren’t celebrating the ranking, which comes after they’ve made recent strides in the battle against binge drinking on campus and downtown. University of Iowa spokesman Tom Moore said The Princeton Review “gets some things right,” by describing Iowa as an affordable Big Ten university with students who are both studious and social.
“That indicates they are balancing their academic responsibilities with their social pursuits,” he said.
The rankings are based on surveys in which an average of 333 students per campus are asked 80 questions about a range of subjects in the last three school years. Its methodology uses a five-point scale, allowing for school-to-school comparisons.
Universities routinely dismiss the rankings as unscientific and invalid, while praising the free publicity that comes along with positive ones. For instance, Emerson College is likely to embrace its ranking Monday as the most LGBT-friendly school, and the University of Mississippi will certainly tout its “most beautiful campus” designation.
Packed Iowa City bars blaring dance music, off-campus house parties and tailgating before Hawkeye football games are as much a part of Iowa’s culture as the cornfields that surround the city. Fraternities and sororities also contribute to the party atmosphere.
But the No. 1 spot seems out of step with national data released this year showing fewer Hawkeyes are drinking and engaging in high-risk drinking. The percentage of Iowa students who reported drinking in the last 30 days (75 percent) was the lowest in 20 years of studies, even if it was above the national average.
Policy changes have scaled back Iowa City’s bar scene, and a 2010 ordinance requiring customers to be 21 to enter bars – instead of 19 – is credited with reducing drinking and crime. Once popular watering holes such as Vito’s and One Eyed Jake’s have closed, replaced by an indie movie theater and a nice restaurant.
“We are continuing to work to change the culture on our campus by educating students to only consume alcohol in a legal, safe and responsible manner, and those efforts are achieving results,” Moore said.
The No. 3 party school sprawls across parts of two cities – Urbana and Champaign, Ill. – and in both, students younger than 21 can legally enter bars. In Champaign, where most of the bars are located, the minimum age is 19; in Urbana, it’s 18.
The campus’ party reputation is enhanced by a single annual event, Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day- or, simply, Unofficial – when thousands of students and others converge for a day of drinking at parties and in bars. Local police ticket hundreds every year, and some city leaders have tried to limit Unofficial by restricting bar operating hours and taking other steps, with little or no success.
At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, No. 8 on this year’s list, university officials and the city have worked to address the drinking problem, including passing an ordinance in 2012 designed to crack down on large house parties and trying to provide more entertainment options for students who aren’t of legal drinking age.
Starting this fall, all incoming students will be expected to complete an online education program about alcohol abuse.
“When I started my freshman year, there was no talk in orientation or any sort of things in the dorm about alcohol, even though we all knew coming in what the reputation was of Madison as a party school,” said Mark Woulf, a 2010 graduate who now serves as the city’s food and alcohol policy coordinator.
Given that changing the booze-heavy culture is difficult, the school is now teaching students to take responsibility for themselves and their friends, Woulf said.
The Princeton Review senior vice president Robert Franek said its lists are based completely on students’ opinions, and that Iowa’s ranking does not diminish the Review’s “great respect” for the school’s academics or progress it’s made regarding alcohol issues on campus.
The privately held education services company has published “The Best 378 Colleges” book annually since 1992. It includes 62 lists, such as the best-run college – Claremont McKenna College in California – and best college library – Columbia University in New York City.
8 Key Facts to Know About Fort Hood Trial as Survivors Prepare to Face ShooterPosted August 5, 2013 at 11:04 pm by Jason Howerton
DALLAS (TheBlaze/AP) — Maj. Nidal Hasan will stand trial in a court-martial that starts Tuesday for the shooting rampage at Fort Hood that left 13 people dead and more than 30 people wounded at the Texas Army post on Nov. 5, 2009.
The Obama administration has labeled the attack “workplace violence despite Hasan’s insistence that the United States is an “enemy” to Islam.
Victims have extremely vocal about their disapproval of the administration’s handling of the deadly attack, which they say was clearly a terrorist attack. Fort Hood survivor Sgt. Alonzo Lunsford recently blasted Attorney General Eric Holder for refusing to classify the shooting as a terrorist attack, in effect denying the victims the appropriate military decorations, such as a Purple Heart, and other combat-related benefits.
“Not only am I disappointed, I’m embarrassed. Mr. Holder needs to understand the repercussions of his actions…that’s a proven fact that he is a terrorist,” Lunsford said. “For Mr. Holder to even make a suggestion from the Department of Justice going to DoD’s business, that’s not his lane.”
If you haven’t been following the case closely, here are some key details to keep in mind as well as some things to expect from the trial:
Via the Associated Press:
8. WHAT CHARGES DOES HASAN FACE?
Hasan faces 13 specifications of premeditated murder and 32 specifications of attempted premeditated murder under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. If convicted, he would face the death penalty.
7. WHY HAS THE CASE TAKEN SO LONG TO PROSECUTE?
Judges in the case have granted a series of delays for preparation or other issues, often at the request of Hasan or his attorneys. A fight over Hasan’s beard, which violates military regulations, led to a stay shortly before the trial was expected to begin last year and the eventual replacement of the judge. Legal experts have said authorities are doing their best to avoid mistakes that could lead to a reversal of any guilty verdict, noting that Hasan would have multiple mandatory appeals if he’s found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. Military appeals courts have overturned most death sentences they’ve seen in the last three decades.
6. WHAT WILL THE VICTIMS SAY AT TRIAL?
Many of those wounded in the attack are expected to testify. Some of them have already described that day in open court, during a hearing three years ago to determine whether Hasan would stand trial. One victim, Spc. Alan Carroll, recalled playing dead so Hasan wouldn’t shoot him again. Another, Staff Sgt. Alonzo Lunsford, said he remembered a woman shouting about the gunman: “He’s one of ours! He’s one of ours!”
5. WHAT WILL HASAN SAY?
Hasan is representing himself at trial. He wanted to argue that he carried out the shooting in “defense of others” – namely, Muslim insurgents fighting American soldiers in Afghanistan – but the judge, Col. Tara Osborn, denied that strategy. Osborn has also told him that he will not be able to make speeches about his beliefs or try to testify himself when he’s questioning witnesses.
However, Fox News on Monday released excerpts from Hasan’s Sanity Board evaluation and it seems to quote him as saying: “We are imperfect Muslims, trying to establish the perfect religion of all-mighty Allah as supreme on the land.”
Read more below via Fox News:
4. WHAT IS HASAN’S PHYSICAL CONDITION?
Hasan was shot in the back by officers responding to the shootings. He is now paralyzed from the waist down, confined to a wheelchair, uses a catheter and wears adult diapers. His doctor testified earlier this year that Hasan cannot sit upright for more than 12 hours a day without his concentration being affected, requiring testimony to conclude each day by 5 p.m. at the latest since inmates at his jail wake up before dawn. Hasan also requires 15- to 20-minute stretching breaks about every four hours, and has to lift himself off his wheelchair for about a minute every half hour to avoid developing sores.
3. IS HASAN STILL CONSIDERED A SOLDIER?
Yes. He has retained his rank of major and his salary even in jail. Recently, he has worn a camouflage uniform in court instead of the dress uniform defendants typically wear in a court-martial. Osborn has said the camouflage uniform is easier for him to wear as a paraplegic.
2. HOW DOES A MILITARY COURT-MARTIAL DIFFER FROM A CIVILIAN CRIMINAL TRIAL?
The judge, the prosecutors and the attorneys standing by to help Hasan are military officers, as are the 13 jurors, who range in rank from colonel to major. The jurors must be unanimous to find Hasan guilty of premeditated murder. If that happens, Hasan’s case would quickly proceed to a capital sentencing hearing, where prosecutors try to prove one or more aggravating factors that merit a death sentence. One aggravating factor would be the killing of more than one person in an incident. Jurors must be unanimous to sentence him to death. However, three-quarters of the jury must vote yes to convict Hasan for attempted murder. The military courts system also does not have hung juries: If one of the 13 jurors votes Hasan not guilty of murder, he would be declared not guilty.
1. WHAT HAPPENS IF HE’S SENTENCED TO DEATH?
The death sentence would need to be affirmed by Fort Hood’s commanding authority, which would prompt automatic appeals at two military courts for the Army and then the armed forces. If those fail, Hasan could ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review his case and file motions in federal court. The U.S. president must eventually approve a military death sentence.
Five condemned soldiers are currently on the military death row at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. If their cases are any guide, it would likely be decades before Hasan were executed. Many death row inmates have had their sentences overturned on appeal, and no active-duty soldier has been executed in the military system since 1961.
Marco Rubio Draws ‘Line in the Sand’ Over Defunding Obamacare: ‘This Is It’Posted August 5, 2013 at 10:30 pm by Jason Howerton
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is taking a hard stance in the fight to defund President Barack Obama’s landmark health care law. In fact, he says he is willing to fight to the bitter end to derail “Obamacare,” regardless of the consequences.
“There has to be some issue at which we say, ‘look, this is the issue where we draw the line’,” Rubio said on Mark Levin’s radio show Monday. “I mean, we understand about all the other things but there’s an issue where you’ve got to draw a line in the sand and say, this is it. I mean, on this issue we’re willing to fight no matter what the consequences, politically or otherwise.”
“If that issue is not Obamacare, I can’t understand what issue it would be,” he added. “And that’s the point I tried to make. Of all the issues out there, if there was one issue that, I think, we should be willing to go to the limit on, this is it.”
Watch a portion of the interview via MofoPolitics.com:
Rubio later clarified that he isn’t necessarily attacking anyone personally, though he seemingly called out lawmakers who say they are against Obamacare, yet are still willing to fund the unpopular program.
“Look, I’m not attacking anyone directly,” the Florida Republican said. “All I’m saying is that you cannot say you are against Obamacare if you are willing to vote for a law that funds it. If you’re willing to fund this thing, you can’t possibly say you’re against it.”
Several Republicans have lashed out at Tea Party lawmakers like Sens. Rubio, Mike Lee (R-Utah), Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) over the effort to strip Obamacare of federal dollars.
As previously reported by TheBlaze, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) called the effort to defund Obamacare the “dumbest idea” he’d ever heard.
Meanwhile, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) warned the GOP that the American people don’t want to see another debt ceiling fight and government shutdown “shenanigans” and Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) likened the effort to a “temper tantrum.”
(H/T: The Right Scoop)
Featured image via AP
Bus-Sized ‘Fatberg’ Discovered Under the Streets of London – So What Is It?Posted August 5, 2013 at 10:00 pm by Jason Howerton
A bus-sized, 15-ton mass made up of grease and wet wipes was recently discovered in the sewers under London. The astonishing find has been dubbed “fatberg.”
A team of sewage workers with the Thames Water company reportedly found the giant mass with little time to spare. A spokesperson with the company told NBC News that the city “could have had sewage popping out of manholes all over London.”
Local residents apparently complained about being unable to flush their toilets, causing officials to investigate the issue.
“We’ve never seen a single, congealed lump of lard this big clogging our sewers before,” Thames Water supervisor Gordon Hallwood said.
“Before it was removed, it had reduced the sewer’s capacity to just five percent of its regular level, and the damage it caused will take six weeks to repair,” TheVerge.com reports.
Thames Water has recently started converting the giant fatty deposits into electricity, the report adds.
Lab Grown Hamburger Meat Gets Taste Test – What’s the Verdict?Posted August 5, 2013 at 9:31 pm by Liz Klimas
LONDON (TheBlaze/AP) — Although many last year were quite turned off by the “pink slime” reports of hamburger meat, the next generation of ground beef has had its taste test and is not quite up to snuff but it’s not half bad either.
According to testers, the food of the future could do with a pinch of seasoning — and maybe some cheese.
Two volunteers who took the first public bites of hamburger grown in a laboratory gave it good marks for texture but agreed there was something missing.
“I miss the salt and pepper,” said Austrian nutritionist Hanni Ruetzler. U.S. journalist Josh Schonwald confessed to a difficulty in judging a burger “without ketchup or onions or jalapenos or bacon.” Both tasters shunned the bun, lettuce and sliced tomatoes offered to them to concentrate on the flavor of the meat itself.
Mark Post, the Dutch scientist who led the team that grew the meat from cattle stem cells, regretted having served the patty without his favorite topping: aged gouda cheese.
“That would have enhanced the whole experience tremendously,” he told The Associated Press. He said he was pleased with the reviews: “It’s not perfect, but it’s a good start.”
Here’s a look at the facial expressions of a tester:
“It’s close to meat,” one tester said of the “intense” flavor but she noted the consistency was “perfect.”
Watch the taste test in this AP video report:
Post, whose team at Maastricht University in the Netherlands developed the burger over five years, hopes that making meat in labs could eventually help feed the world and fight climate change — although that goal is probably a decade or two away, at best.
“The first (lab-made) meat products are going to be very exclusive,” said Isha Datar, director of New Harvest, an international nonprofit that promotes meat alternatives. “These burgers won’t be in Happy Meals before someone rich and famous is eating them.”
Sergey Brin, a co-founder of Google, announced that he funded the 250,000-euro ($330,000) project, saying he was motivated by a concern for animal welfare.
“We’re trying to create the first cultured beef hamburger,” he said in a videotaped message. “From there, I’m optimistic we can really scale up by leaps and bounds.”
Scientists agreed that improving the flavor probably won’t be hard.
“Taste is the least (important) problem since this could be controlled by letting some of the stem cells develop into fat cells,” said Stig Omholt, director of biotechnology at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences.
Adding fat to the burgers this way would probably be healthier than getting it from naturally chunky cows, said Omholt, who was not involved in the project. He called Monday’s tasting a publicity stunt — but not in a bad way. He said it was a smart way to draw public attention, and possibly investor funds, to efforts to develop lab-grown meat.
Post’s team made the meat from shoulder muscle cells of two organically raised cows. The cells were put into a nutrient solution to help them develop into muscle tissue, and they grew into small strands of meat.
It took nearly 20,000 strands to make a single 140-gram (5-ounce) patty, which for Monday’s event was seasoned with salt, egg powder and breadcrumbs. Red beet juice and saffron were added to help the burger look more meat-like; Post said the lab-made patty had a yellowish tinge.
“I’m a vegetarian, but I would be first in line to try this,” said Jonathan Garlick, a stem cell researcher at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in Boston. He has used similar techniques to make human skin but wasn’t involved in the burger research.
Experts say new ways of producing meat are needed to satisfy growing carnivorous appetites without exhausting resources. By 2050, the Food and Agriculture Organization predicts global meat consumption will double as more people in developing countries can afford it. Raising animals destined for the dinner table takes up about 70 percent of all agricultural land.
The animal rights group PETA has thrown its support behind the lab-meat initiative.
“As long as there’s anybody who’s willing to kill a chicken, a cow or a pig to make their meal, we are all for this,” said Ingrid Newkirk, PETA’s president and co-founder. “Instead of the millions and billions (of animals) being slaughtered now, we could just clone a few cells to make burgers or chops,” she said.
If the product is ever ready for market, national food authorities will likely require data proving the lab meat is safe; there is no precedent. Some experts said officials might regulate the process used to make such meat, similar to how they monitor beer and wine production.
Only one patty was cooked Monday, and the testers each took less than half of it. Post said he would take the leftovers home so his kids can have a taste.
Three Dead After Gunman Opens Fire at Pa. Town Meeting; Shooter Tackled by Heroic OfficialPosted August 5, 2013 at 9:03 pm by Jason Howerton
UPDATE 10:30 p.m. ET: “A gunman blasted shots through the wall of a Pennsylvania municipal building during a meeting on Monday and then barged into the meeting room and continued firing, killing three people, before he was tackled by a local official and shot with his own gun, a witness said,” according to the Associated Press.
Pocono Record reporter Chris Reber said it was West End Open Space Commission Executive Director Bernie Kozen who “bearhugged” the shooter and took him down.
“He shot (the shooter) with his own gun,” Reber recalled.
SAYLORSBURG, Pa. (TheBlaze/AP) — A shooting during a meeting at a northeastern Pennsylvania municipal building has left two people dead.
Monroe County emergency management director Guy Miller says the shooting happened Monday evening during Ross Township’s regular monthly meeting. He says the gunman has been captured and is in state police custody.
“The Pocono Record says one of its reporters was in the township building and a gunman armed with a pistol with a scope shot through a wall into the meeting, which was being held about 85 miles north of Philadelphia,” the Associated Press reports.
The reporter, identified as Chris Reber, says a local official bear-hugged the shooter and shot him with his own gun.
Reber claims he ran out after the shooting began Monday night while everyone else at the meeting dropped to the floor. He says a man was shot after he pushed aside a woman who had run to a door. He says a local official took down the shooter.
State police in Lehighton confirm the gunman has been captured but don’t have details.
Three other people who were reportedly injured in the shooting have been flown to area hospitals and were in unknown condition, Miller said.
It is unclear why the shooter would need a scope on a pistol. It is also hard to understand how a scope would have helped him shoot through a wall at the meeting.
This is a breaking news story and will be updated with additional information as it becomes available.
3D-Printed Rifle Shoots 14 Rounds Before BreakingPosted August 5, 2013 at 9:00 pm by Liz Klimas
Defense Distributed created the first fully 3D-printed handgun called the Liberator a few months ago. Now a Canadian fellow on YouTube has revealed a 3D-printed rifle, which he continues to make improvements upon.
On the YouTube channel “ThreeD Ukulele” a man going by Matthew, who doesn’t show his face, uploaded three videos a few days ago documenting what he said are 14 total shots with the weapon before it cracks.
“I was completely confident to hand fire and will be taking it out again with a friend with a new barrel this week,” Matthew wrote to The Verge in an email.
The “Grizzly 2.0″ is a version with a 50 percent larger barrel with a “rifled bore, a larger receiver and new hammer,” according to the video description.
Here are the three videos showing the tests of The Grizzly 2.0.
In his first rendition of The Grizzly, Matthew explained that he named it after the Canadian-built Sherman Tanks from WWII. He wrote that he used some designs from Defense Distributed’s Liberator gun.
Watch the test of the Grizzly 1.0 posted online a couple weeks ago:
Find TheBlaze on your TV
TheBlaze is available on channel .
Spread the word!
If you can't find TheBlaze, please call to upgrade your package
Unfortunately, TheBlaze is not available on .
But you can help! Call at or press CONTINUE to email your provider and urge them to add TheBlaze to your channel lineup.
But you can help! Press CONTINUE to email your provider and urge them to add TheBlaze to your channel lineup.Continue
Please complete the form
Thank you for supporting TheBlaze
While you're waiting for your TV provider to get TheBlaze, sign up to watch it online now.