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  • Remember That Food Stamp ‘Beach Bum’? Sean Hannity Offered to Help Him Find a Job. This Is How He Responded.
    Posted March 14, 2014 at 11:03 am by Becket Adams

    Comments (524)

    A California food stamp recipient who admitted that he spends all his time surfing and hanging out with friends on Thursday refused an offer of help to find a job.

    (Image source: Fox News)

    Jason Greenslate said he’s “thankful” that taxpayers have subsidized his lifestyle, allowing him to pursue his “dream” of being in a band. (Image source: Fox News)

    Jason Greenslate, 29, gained notoriety last August when he was captured on camera using food stamps to buy lobster.

    Greenslate went on Fox News Thursday and said he hasn’t worked in a year because he believes practicing with his band is his real job.

    Fox host Sean Hannity noted that Greenslate’s lifestyle, which also includes a Cadillac Escalade and strip clubs, is all done on someone else’s dime.

    Hannity asked the surfer where he thinks the money comes from to pay for his food stamps and health care.

    “Government; taxes; us; the people,” Greenslate said.

    “Not you, because you’re not paying taxes,” the host responded.

    Hannity noted that Californians are taxed at an enormous rate, nearly 60 cents of every dollar going toward the government, adding that Greenslate doesn’t seem to be very grateful for his subsidized lifestyle.

    “You’re taking their money and you just don’t seem to care,” he said.

    “Who says I don’t care?” Greenslate asked, saying he was “thankful.”

    “I want to thank the United States of America, and the situation — the way things are set up,” Greenslate said, adding that he’ll pay back the taxpayers when his band makes the big time.

    Hannity went for broke: “If I could get you a job that would pay you $80,000 a year driving a truck in North Dakota, would you take it?”

    Greenslate paused for a moment to think about it: “No.”

    Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter

  • Little Jacob Lost His Hand After a Horrific Accident. How He’s Learned to Cope Is Just Awesome.
    Posted March 14, 2014 at 10:54 am by Liz Klimas

    Comments (31)

    Jacob Roberts has deep scars on his face. His bottom lip has all but disappeared, and he no longer has a fully functional left hand. All are the result of a horrific lawn mower accident that happened more than three years ago, but the 8-year-old has relearned to do some of his favorite things despite having only one hand.

    Take, for example, how he’s learned to use a video game controller.

    Jacob Roberts was severely injured in an accident involving a lawn mower several years ago. He has taught himself to overcome obstacles in many ways since. (Image source: WKMG-TV)

    Jacob Roberts was severely injured in an accident involving a lawn mower several years ago. He has taught himself to overcome obstacles in many ways since. (Image source: WKMG-TV)

    Newer controllers are almost impossible to play with using just one hand. So how does litlteJacob brings the joystick up to his face, moving it around with his chin. It’s something he taught himself after several surgeries to recover from the accident, and he can beat his sister at games using this method.

    He uses his chin to control a video game controller's joystick. (Image source: WKMG-TV)

    He uses his chin to control a video game controller’s joystick. (Image source: WKMG-TV)

    Jacob lost his hand below the wrist, so in therapy he demonstrated how they make him move it “up and down, up and down.” The hope is that he will someday get a prosthetic.

    “Is there ever a time when you don’t want to go to the hospital?” WKMG-TV reporter Jamie Seh asked.

    “Every time,” Jacob replied without hesitation.

    But he has a positive outlook and does it anyway because “I know it’s not going to last long and I won’t get hurt.”

    Watch WKMG-TV’s report:

    video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

    His parents choke up thinking back on the tragic accident that happened nearly four years ago.

    His mother started to cry at the memory.

    “I heard the most horrendous sound I have ever heard in my entire life and that was my husband’s scream,” she told the news station.

    To come to where he is now after the May 24, 2010, accident, Jacob spent 35 days in intensive care and had eight surgeries at the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando.

  • If You’re Going to Go Into Four Overtimes, Here’s How the Game Should End
    Posted March 14, 2014 at 10:23 am by Liz Klimas

    Comments (24)

    If you’re going to have such a tense game that it goes into quadruple overtime, there’s only one way to end it: At the last second, with a Hollywood-level, buzzer-beating 60-foot shot.

    Thanks to sophomore forward Amir Coffey, the No. 1-seeded Hopkins High School Royals in Minnesota will go on to the state semifinals, defeating Shakopee High School.

    Image source: YouTube

    Image source: YouTube

    Coffey took the more than half-court shot just in time, the buzzer ringing while the ball was still in the air making its way to the basket for a nothing-but-net swoosh.

    Watch the moment:

    According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the game-ending shot wasn’t the only stunner in the game. In addition to the near-upset, in the first two overtimes no points were made by either team. Then there was the lead-up to Coffey’s shot:

    There was some action in the fourth overtime. Hopkins turned the ball over in the final seconds, giving Shakopee a chance for a final shot, but Hopkins’ John Warren intercepted a pass, giving the Royals the ball and two seconds to make a miracle happen.

    Enter Coffey, miracle worker.

    “I thought it was too far to the right,” Coffey said afterward, according to the Star Tribune. “But it went in. That was a great feeling.”

    Celebrating after the winning shot. (Image source: YouTube)

    Celebrating after the winning shot. (Image source: YouTube)

    According to WCCO-TV, the Royals use a tactic that allowed them to keep possession of the ball for several minutes on end with the Shakopee team not breaking out its zone defense.

    “Even if it’s four minutes, if you have the ball and you’re guaranteed the last shot no matter what, you’re going to hold it for four minutes,” Hopkins coach Ken Novak Jr. told WCCO.

    When they finally got the last shot, Coffey took it.

    “It was in slow motion,” Hopkins point guard Kamail Chambers told the Twin Cities Pioneer Press. “When it was halfway, I remember thinking, it has a chance. When it did go in, I asked myself, ‘Did that really go in?’ It was a great shot at a great time.”

    This story has been updated.

    (H/T: Reddit)

  • What Facebook Founder Did After Learning the Gov’t Was Using His Site to Track People
    Posted March 14, 2014 at 9:57 am by Elizabeth Kreft

    Comments (149)

    When most of us are unhappy about government policies — say, for instance, National Security Agency information-gathering techniques — the most we can (legally) do is educate ourselves, maybe complain a little, and wait for the next election cycle.

    But apparently Mark Zuckerberg can do a little more. He called the president directly.

    during a town hall meeting at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif., Wednesday, April 20, 2011. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

    Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg reached out to President Barack Obama Thursday night to express his concerns over alleged government spying tactics that would impact Facebook’s public image. The two met in person during a town hall meeting at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif., April 20, 2011. (AP/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

    The White House confirmed that Zuckerberg and Obama spoke Thursday night, discussing “recent reports in the press about alleged activities by the U.S. intelligence community,” according to Wired.

    “I’ve called President Obama to express my frustration over the damage the government is creating for all of our future, Zuckerberg wrote in a post on Facebook. “Unfortunately, it seems like it will take a very long time for true full reform.”

    Zuckerberg’s frustrations likely reached a tipping point when it was recently reported that the National Security Agency was masquerading as a Facebook server in order to infect targeted computers.

    “I’ve been so confused and frustrated by the repeated reports of the behavior of the U.S. government. When our engineers work tirelessly to improve security, we imagine we’re protecting you against criminals, not our own government,” Zuckerberg said.


    The NSA has flatly denied the alleged tactics, and released another statement on Thursday rebuffing claims of Internet impersonation. (Photo credit: Shutterstock)

    “The U.S. government should be the champion for the Internet, not a threat. They need to be much more transparent about what they’re doing, or otherwise people will believe the worst.”

    The NSA released a statement Thursday rebuffing the reports of alleged impersonation tactics, saying claims that the NSA infected million of computers around the world with malware and that the NSA mirrored U.S. social media sites for an information advantage are inaccurate, according to Reuters.

    (H/T: Wired)

    Follow Elizabeth Kreft (@elizabethakreft) on Twitter

  • HHS Official Jumps Ship in Scathing Letter of Resignation: ‘Worst Job I’ve Ever Had’
    Posted March 14, 2014 at 9:33 am by Becket Adams

    Comments (171)

    A Department of Health and Human Services official resigned from his post in a scathing letter that ripped the agency for profound dysfunction.

    David Wright, former director of (Image source: ORI)

    David Wright headed the Office of Research Integrity at the Department of Health and Human Services. (Image source: ORI)

    David Wright headed the Office of Research Integrity for two years and wrote in his letter dated Feb. 25 that his time with the agency left him “offended as an American taxpayer.”

    The job was apparently not only unsatisfying, it was downright offensive, Wright said in the letter, which was first obtained by ScienceInsider.

    It was “the very worst job I have ever had,” he said.

    The Office of Research Integrity is responsible for reviewing possible misconduct in agency research projects.

    The letter details frustrating experiences Wright had to deal with, including the agency’s refusal to give him $35 to convert cassette tapes to CD and the agency’s refusal to let him fill a vacancy in the office (he was informed by his secretary that there was a secret priority list of candidates).

    The letter, which was addressed to Assistant Secretary for Health Howard Koh, goes on to accuse top agency officials of caring more about their personal advancement than about doing their jobs well.

    “Since I’ve been here I’ve been advised by my superiors that I had ‘to make my bosses look good.’ I’ve been admonished: ‘Dave, you are a visionary leader but what we need here are team players,’” the letter reads. “Recently, I was advised that if I wanted to be happy in government service, I had to ‘lower my expectations.’ The one thing no one in OASH [Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health] leadership has said to me in two years is ‘how can we help ORI better serve the research community?’ Not once.”

    Wright went on to note that Koh himself once described the office as operating in an “intensely political environment.”

    Here’s the full text of the letter:

    HHS officials have yet to publicly announce Wright’s exit, ScienceInsider reported.

    His resignation was first reported last week by Retraction Watch. He will remain a federal employee until at least March 27, the letter indicates.

    After his time is up, he said, he plans to publish a more full account of his experiences with the department.

    (H/T: Washington Post)

    Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter

  • The One Thing Essential to Living a Moral Life According to Majorities in 22 Countries
    Posted March 14, 2014 at 8:58 am by Billy Hallowell

    Comments (140)

    What’s the one thing majorities in many countries around the world see as absolutely essential to leading a moral life?

    That’s the question the Pew Research Center set out to answer when it commissioned a study in 40 countries, finding that clear majorities in 22 of those nations think it is necessary to believe in God in order to have good values.

    This belief is nearly universal in Africa and the Middle East, regions in which faith is often ingrained in culture. Interestingly, there is only one country surveyed in the Middle East in which majorities did not embrace this notion — Israel.

    “At least three-quarters in all six countries surveyed in Africa say that faith in God is essential to morality. In the Middle East, roughly seven-in-ten or more agree in Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, the Palestinian territories, Tunisia and Lebanon,” according to Pew’s research. “Across the two regions, only in Israel does a majority think it is not necessary to believe in God to be an upright person.”

    See the data below:

    Image source: Pew Research Center

    Image source: Pew Research Center (data for countries with a * comes from 2011; all other national data was collected in 2013)

    In many nations, though, only small minorities believe that it is necessary to believe in God in order to be a moral person.

    Consider China, where only 14 percent of respondents said that it is necessary to embrace the almighty to be moral; 75 percent believe that the connection is not necessary. In France, the proportions are similar, with 15 percent answering affirmatively and 85 percent embracing the notion that a belief in a higher power isn’t required for one to live a moral life.

    But in America, a majority of Americans (53 percent) do believe that embracing God is essential to being a good person, with 46 percent standing in disagreement. In 2007, these proportions were 57 percent and 41 percent, respectively.

    While there may be an assumption fewer Americans believe that belief in God is essential to personal morality, it should be noted that only 47 percent of the nation believed that a higher power and morality were tied together when the question was asked back in 2002.

    The U.S. stands apart from other wealthy nations as having a majority that still believes that morality is predicated upon belief in a higher power, as wealthier nations tend to not see as deeply a tie between the two paradigms.

    Pew derived this data from surveys conducted among 40,080 individuals in 40 countries between 2011 and 2013. The survey methods can be found here and full results are here.

    (H/T: Huffington Post)

    Featured image via

  • Elderly Couple Leaves Dog They Can No Longer Care for Outside Shelter With Heartbreaking Note, But…
    Posted March 14, 2014 at 8:49 am by Liz Klimas

    Comments (104)

    An elderly couple is being reunited with their dog after anonymously leaving it with a heartbreaking note at an animal shelter asking that he be put down because they could no longer afford to care for him and his illnesses. They thought this was their only option, but then a nonprofit stepped in to help.

    “We are both seniors, sick with no money. We cannot pay for vet bills, or to put him to sleep. He has never been away from us in all those years, he cannot function without us, please put him to sleep,” the note left last week at the Baldwin Park Animal Shelter with the more than 13-year-old dachshund from his owners said.

    This daschund was left at a California animal shelter by its elderly owners who thought they had no other option to care for it anymore. A local nonprofit though discovered the dog's ailments were treatable and sought to reunite him with his owners. (Image source: Leave No Paws Behind Facebook)

    This dachshund was left at a California animal shelter by its elderly owners who thought they had no other option to care for it anymore. A local nonprofit though discovered the dog’s ailments were treatable and sought to reunite him with his owners. (Image source: Leave No Paws Behind/Facebook)

    But the shelter knew this didn’t have to be the end for the dog that would be named “Harley” for the time being. Someone at the shelter called Leave No Paws Behind, a nonprofit based in California that focuses on “seniors and pets with special needs.”

    “That snapped my heart in two when I read the letter,” Toby Wisneski, CEO and founder of Leave No Paws Behind, told KCBS-TV.

    The next few days were a whirlwind, getting Harley the help he needed and eventually leading to an effort to find his owners.

    “His skin is a mess and he tested positive for non contagious demodex mange, he does have some bloody stools HOWEVER Doc believes it is all treatable!” Leave No Paws Behind wrote on its Facebook page after first receiving Harley.

    The dog was named Harley for a short time, but after the owners were identified, we learned his name was Otto. (Image source: Leave No Paws Behind/Facebook)

    The dog was named Harley for a short time, but after the owners were identified, we learned his name was Otto. (Image source: Leave No Paws Behind/Facebook)

    By Friday, Harley was “doing great” after starting to receive treatments and the nonprofit was being flooded with calls to adopt him. But the Leave No Paws Behind wanted to reunite him with his original owners.

    “I do not believe that all humans who surrender their loving companions are bad people. What I have come to realize is that some, and there are a few, fall on hard and difficult times, loss of jobs, senior and elderly folks who are sick and need help, loss of homes etc etc. I also believe that they are not aware that there is help out there for their beloved pets and we are hoping to be able to get that message to them,” the organization said on Facebook.

    “If Harley’s humans come forward, we will speak with them, do our standard home check AND if we find that they are indeed loving, kind and genuinely care for sweet Harley, which we do believe, and the only issue is help with medical care and basic needs for him, yes, we will reunite them!” the post continued.

    Over the next several days, news of Harley spread but there was still no word from his owners. The organization got their big break with a lead on Wednesday.

    The owners were found and Harley, it was learned, is actually named Otto — Otto Wolfgang Maximus to be exact.

    “We just are living week to week,” one of Otto’s owners, who asked to remain anonymous, told KTLA-TV, expressing their grief at leaving the dog. “We can’t even go to the hospital to get our treatment.

    “We thought he was dead, but he lives,” the owner continued. “He’s being well taken care of and, boy, we’re just so extremely grateful.”

    Watch the news station’s report:

    Otto and his pet parents will be officially reunited on March 28.

    (H/T: Yahoo)

  • ‘We Are Looking at Sabotage, With Hijack Still on the Cards’: New Reuters Report Raises More Suspicions on Malaysia Mystery
    Posted March 14, 2014 at 8:33 am by Jonathon M. Seidl

    Comments (118)

    A new Reuters report says that “radar data” suggests the missing Malaysia Airlines passenger jet was deliberately flown off course for hundreds of miles.

    That data, the outlet says, shows the plane headed west using routes usually reserved for flights to Europe or the Middle East, and followed known navigational waypoints.

    Lt. Col Bambang Sudewo, commander of the 5th Air Squadron “Black Mermaids” examines a map following a search operation for the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 that was conducted over the Strait of Malacca, at Suwondo air base in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia, Friday, March 14, 2014. The jetliner vanished nearly a week ago with 239 people aboard. (AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara)

    From the report:

    This indicates that it was either being flown by the pilots or someone with knowledge of those waypoints, the sources said.

    The last plot on the military radar’s tracking suggested the plane was flying toward India’s Andaman Islands, a chain of isles between the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal, they said.

    Waypoints are geographic locations, worked out by calculating longitude and latitude, that help pilots navigate along established air corridors.

    A third source familiar with the investigation said inquiries were focusing increasingly on the theory that someone who knew how to fly a plane deliberately diverted the flight.

    “What we can say is we are looking at sabotage, with hijack still on the cards,” a source told Reuters.

    And now the search is expanding.

    India said Friday it was expanding its search for the missing Malaysian jetliner to seas west of the Andaman Islands as the international hunt shifted toward the Indian Ocean amid signs that the jet may have flown on for hours after last contact.

    A U.S. official told The Associated Press that the Malaysia Airlines plane sent signals to a satellite for four hours after the aircraft went missing early last Saturday, raising the possibility the jet carrying 239 people could have flown far from the current search areas.

    Potentially, this vastly expands the area the lost jet might be. It also complicates an international search effort that has turned up no trace of the plane nearly a week after it vanished above the Gulf of Thailand between Malaysia and Vietnam in one of aviation history’s most puzzling mysteries.

    Much of the early search has focused east of Malaysia in the South China Sea, where the aircraft last communicated with air traffic base stations about an hour after departing on a flight to Beijing.

    A similar-sized search is also being conducted in the Strait of Malacca, west of Malaysia, because of military radar sightings that might indicate the plane turned in that direction after its last contact, passing back over the Malay Peninsula and heading westward.

    The White House said the U.S. may be drawn into a new phase of the search in the vast Indian Ocean. The U.S. Navy 7th Fleet said it is moving one of its ships, the USS Kidd, into the Strait of Malacca.

    Six Indian navy and coast guard ships plus reconnaissance planes have searched eastern parts of Andaman seas over the past three days, and were expanding their search to areas west of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands chain Friday, said V.S.R. Murty, an Indian Coast Guard inspector.

    Read the full Reuters report.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

  • This Police Chief Is Using an Unconventional Way to Lower Crime — and Now He’s Taking Heat for It
    Posted March 14, 2014 at 8:30 am by Billy Hallowell

    Comments (148)

    An atheist activist group is accusing an Alabama police chief of violating the U.S. Constitution by embracing and collaborating with a prayer ministry aimed at curbing local crime.

    Image source:

    Image source:

    The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a church-state separatist group, sent a letter to Birmingham Police Chief A.C. Roper this week, complaining over his involvement in a Christian ministry called Prayer Force United — and taking aim at sectarian prayers that the group claims are a part of staff meetings and events.

    “We understand that you are ‘a licensed and ordained minister serving at Faith Chapel Christian Center in Birmingham,’ and that you are violating the Constitution by mixing your official government duties with your religious zeal,” read the letter, written by Freedom From Religion Foundation attorney Andrew Seidel.

    At the heart of the matter is the group’s claim that Roper leads monthly prayer walks throughout Birmingham in an effort to lower crime.

    According to the Prayer Force United website, these events are conducted “in coordination” with Roper. The prayer walks, which take place in different parts of the city each month, include churches and neighbors who appeal to God to crack down on crime.

    Seidel charged in his letter that this collaboration between Roper and the faith community is unconstitutional, stating that it is illegal for the police chief to use his office to “advance, promote or endorse one religion over another, or religion over nonreligion.”

    The letter claims that prayer is not effective in stopping violence and that studies show that societies with less prayer actually have a lower rate of violence.

    “The walks themselves may lower crime simply by having crowds on the streets escorted by police cars with flashing lights, but that is not because of the power of prayer — it is the power of people,” Seidel wrote.

    But Roper told that prayer walks are only one of the many components his department uses to try and cut back on crime and pledged to continuing being inclusive and supporting interfaith events, as he says the department has done in the past.

    “Obviously, it’s no secret that I support the prayer walks and many other faith-based community events as one tool in our overall crime-fighting strategy,” Roper said. “We have built strong partnerships with various groups, and I believe they have done a wonderful job committing their assets and assisting us in addressing various issues that affect crime.”

    The Freedom From Religion Foundation assembled a video with clips of Roper speaking about faith:

    Roper added that he believes each individual’s personal beliefs should be both “respected and protected.”

    The Freedom From Religion Foundation’s letter concluded by asking the police chief to discontinue using his official title to promote Christianity and to cease his official relationship with Prayer Force United.

    Additionally, the group asked that Roper reach out in writing to show that he has decided to uphold is “oath to protect the Constitution, not trample it underfoot.”

    Featured image via

  • Johnny Cash Tune From ‘Lost’ Album Set to Brand New Music Video
    Posted March 13, 2014 at 11:59 pm by Dave Urbanski

    Comments (48)

    Johnny Cash’s “She Used to Love Me a Lot” is the lead track of a “lost” 1980s album of his — “Out Among the Stars” set for a March 25 release — and filmmaker John Hillcoat directed the brand-new music video for the tune, The Guardian reported.

    Image source: Official music video via Viveo

    Image source: Official music video via Vevo

    “I’ve been a lifelong fan,” Hillcoat told the Guardian, adding that he was inspired by the Man in Black’s voice, which “has a truth to it at all times.”

    Among the huge collection of images in the dark-tinged Americana video are the ruins of Cash’s burned-down Nashville lake house as well as Nickajack cave in Tennessee where Cash said he crawled into one day, planning to die in the darkness, only to experience a spiritual epiphany that led him out. (The video begins at the cave’s entrance and ends with an exit into the light.)

    Image source: Official music video via Vevo

    Image source: Official music video via Vevo

    It’s taken so long for “Out Among the Stars” to release because it was shelved by Columbia shortly after it was recorded — “He was loved by America, and then found himself suddenly cast aside,” Hillcoat told the Guardian, reflecting Cash’s professional downturn in the 1980s before the huge revival he experienced in the 1990s until his death.

    She used to love me with a love that wouldn’t die
    Looking at her now I can’t believe I said good-bye
    It would only take a minute to turn back the clock
    She used to love me a lot

    Image source: Official music video via Vevo

    Image source: Official music video via Vevo

    “If I recall correctly Cash was one of the first major public figures to openly talk about drug addiction, his inner demons and his problems with women and relationships,” Hillcoat told the Guardian. “America loved him because he spoke for the common man.”

  • New Details on Suspect Who Plowed Car Into SXSW Crowd, Killing Two and Injuring 23
    Posted March 13, 2014 at 11:33 pm by Associated Press

    Comments (100)

    AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Fleeing police, a driver gunned a gray Honda Civic through a street barricade and into a crowd of South By Southwest festival attendees early Thursday, killing two people, injuring 23 others and casting a pall over one of the nation’s hippest celebrations of music, movies and technology.

    The driver struck multiple pedestrians around 12:30 a.m. on a block filled with concertgoers, then sped down the street, hitting and killing a man from the Netherlands on a bicycle and an Austin woman on a moped, Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said. The driver eventually crashed into a parked van and tried to flee on foot before police used a stun gun to subdue him.

    Rashad Charjuan Owens, 21, will face two counts of capital murder and 23 counts of aggravated assault with a vehicle, Austin police said Thursday afternoon in a statement. Formal charges are still pending. The statement did not provide a city of residence.

    Rashad Owens (Bell County Sheriff's Dept. for a 2012 arrest.)

    Rashad Owens (Bell County Sheriff’s Dept. for a 2012 arrest.)

    Police said the incident started when an officer on a drunken-driving patrol tried to stop a vehicle. Acevedo indicated the suspect was drunk, but drunken driving was not among the charges police said Owens would face. Acevedo said investigators have obtained blood samples and were testing them.

    Public records obtained by The Associated Press show that Owens had a previous conviction in Alaska for drunken driving and one in Texas for criminal trespassing.

    Acevedo said he believed Owens was so intent on evading the police that he willfully drove into the crowd.

    “The bottom line is, when somebody’s acting intentionally, and this is a person that was trying to get away, it’s very difficult to stop,” Acevedo said, adding later: “It’s clear for me from his actions, from what I’ve seen, that this is an individual who showed no regard for the human beings that he plowed through in his attempt to get away.”

    Acevedo said the crash transformed Red River Street – which is on the northeast edge of an Austin entertainment district that’s packed at all hours of the day and night during South By Southwest – into “basically a very long crime scene.”

    Crime scene tape near the scene Thursday March 13, 2014, of the tragic accident when Rashad Charjuan Owens, 22, of Killeen, drove a vehicle past barricades and into a crowd of people at Red River and Ninth Streets in downtown Austin, Texas. The crash killed two people and injured 23 more. (AP Photo/Austin American-Statesman, Laura Skelding)

    The crash was loud enough to shake the living room of Kirk Visser’s condo, two stories up.

    “I knew I had heard metal on a body,” said the 47-year-old, who stepped out on his balcony to see people screaming and running in all directions.

    Hours later, a pool of blood and bits of broken taillight were still in a crosswalk at the scene, with a trail of crimson droplets leading to the sidewalk. Still, concertgoers streamed in for another day of festivities, and by early afternoon, bass boomed through the area as bands played scheduled concerts nearby.

    Now in its 27th year, South By Southwest has grown from a small showcase for up-and-coming bands to an international extravaganza, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors and top music and Hollywood stars. Acevedo said the festival had never experienced a similar deadly incident before.

    Roland Swenson, the festival’s managing director, said events would continue “through this tragic time.”

    “I think it would probably cause more problems for everyone to show up and be turned away from a show than to just move ahead,” Swenson said.

    Three people were in critical condition Thursday afternoon, up from two earlier in the day.

    “We are going to do our best for them, but these are some of the worst injuries that we see and not everybody with these kinds of injuries is going to survive,” said Dr. Christopher Ziebell, the emergency department director at the University Medical Center-Brackenridge, about three blocks from where the crash occurred and where most of the victims were taken.

    Massive Music, a company with offices in Amsterdam, New York and London, said employee Steven Craenmehr, 35, died suddenly in Austin. Additional information wasn’t available.

    The Travis County medical examiner identified the other person who died as 27-year-old Jamie Ranae West of Austin. West was on the moped that was struck. Her husband, Evan West, was among those hospitalized.

    The names of the other injured people were not released.

    Public records obtained by the AP show that, as a 19-year-old, Owens was charged and pleaded guilty to driving under the influence in Fairbanks, Alaska, in October 2011. He also was charged with leaving the scene of an accident, but that charge was dismissed.

    He also was charged in Alaska with criminal mischief related to a May 2012 incident. Court records show a warrant was issued for him in October 2012 after he failed to appear in court and the case remains open.

    Records also show that in September 2010, Owens was arrested in Texas by the Killeen Independent School District police for criminal trespassing. He pleaded guilty and was convicted in October 2010.

    Police said the latest incident started when an officer on a drunken-driving patrol tried to stop the driver at a gas station a few blocks away. The car took off, weaving between parked cars, and racing the wrong way down a one-way street.

    The driver rammed through police barriers – three wooden pieces held up by metal poles – forcing an attending police officer to dive out of the way near The Mohawk nightclub, where the bands X and TEEN had just wrapped up and rapper Tyler the Creator was scheduled to perform at 1 a.m.

    Next door, Ted Evans, 29, watched singer-songwriter Kurt Vile on the outdoor stage at Cheer Up Charlie’s nightclub when the New York City resident said he heard what he thought was a gunshot.

    “There was blood on the ground. I saw some people who had blood on their hands,” said Evans, who said police canceled shows at both clubs shortly after the incident.

    The driver continued down the street, hitting a bicyclist, two people on a moped and a taxi before striking a van.

    One bouquet of flowers sat by a telephone pole in front of The Mohawk on Thursday afternoon. Daytime concerts there and next door were canceled, but Thursday evening’s slate of bands was to go on as scheduled.

  • Bill Gates Says Neither People Nor Governments Are Prepared for the Huge Changes Coming to the Labor Market
    Posted March 13, 2014 at 10:50 pm by Jason Howerton

    Comments (303)

    Within 20 years, “software substitution” will dramatically reduce the demand for many types jobs, Bill Gates said Thursday at the American Enterprise Institute. It’s a gloomy prediction that he says many people, including governments, aren’t prepared for.

    Make no mistake, “software substitution” is a fancy way of saying software automation — as in “bots” and whatnot. Many of the jobs that could be eliminated are lower skill occupations.

    “Software substitution, whether it’s for drivers or waiters or nurses … it’s progressing,” Gates said. “Technology over time will reduce demand for jobs, particularly at the lower end of skill set. … 20 years from now, labor demand for lots of skill sets will be substantially lower. I don’t think people have that in their mental model.”

    Philanthropist Bill Gates, co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, speaks about agriculture at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on March 13, 2014. AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON

    The billionaire also provided some common sense ways to get out ahead of the coming problem.

    Firstly, he said, the tax codes need to be updated to encourage companies to hire employees. He suggested possibly doing away with income and payroll taxes entirely.

    As he has before, Gates also warned against raising the national minimum wage out of fear that it will prevent employers from hiring new workers. Many of the workers that would be impacted by future “software substitution” would be those making minimum wage, he argued.

    “When people say we should raise the minimum wage. I worry about what that does to job creation … potentially damping demand in the part of the labor spectrum that I’m most worried about,” Gates said.

    (H/T: Business Insider)

    Watch our discussion about this story:

  • Women in Car Attacked by Cross-Dressing Man When They Wouldn’t Let Him Hitch a Ride
    Posted March 13, 2014 at 10:30 pm by Liz Klimas

    Comments (75)

    After women in a car in Florida refused to give a man wearing a dress, knee-high boots and a wig a ride, he attacked.

    WKMG-TV reported the cross-dressing man, who remains at large, at first threw a drink when the women wouldn’t let him hitch a ride Tuesday, but the incident became more violent later.

    Corsica Cleveland drove away, but she was stopped at a traffic light where the man caught up with them. This time, he threw rocks that broke the car’s glass.

    Image source: WKMG-TV

    Image source: WKMG-TV

    “Nobody was cut, but we had like glass in our hair and in our clothes,” Cleveland told WESH-TV, which noted that a 5-year-old was in the car as well. “We were scared. We were in fear for our lives. We were scared because he could have had a gun or something because he had a purse.”

    Watch footage that was taken by another driver during the attack:

    video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

    Orlando police are searching for the man, according to WESH.

    Connie Smith, an Orlando resident, who was shown the footage by WKMG, told the news station it’s also something to consider that people watched this attack happen and did nothing about it.

    “We’re standing by and we’re watching these things happen and we’re video taping these things happening and then we’re saying ‘what can we do?’ You know, you could put that camera down,” Smith said.

  • Why Two Utah Prosecutors – One Democrat and One Republican – Want the Feds to Investigate Sens. Harry Reid and Mike Lee
    Posted March 13, 2014 at 10:03 pm by Jason Howerton

    Comments (139)

    Two Utah prosecutors — one a Republican, the other a Democrat — claim they have uncovered evidence that could implicate Sens. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) in their investigation into state politicians and online gambling interests. Both lawmakers’ offices have dismissed the claims.

    Sam Gill and Troy Rawlings are already working with the FBI and are now urging federal prosecutors with the Department of Justice to open an investigation. So far, the DOJ has declined to do so.

    WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 11: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) answers questions following a weekly policy luncheon at the U.S. Capitol on March 11, 2014 in Washington, DC. Reid commented on allegations made by Sen. Dianne Feinstein regarding the CIA and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Win McNamee/Getty Images

    “The Utah officials say the evidence relates to suspect campaign contributions and other financial transactions,” ABC News reports.

    Gill, a Democrat and district attorney in Salt Lake County, said there could be an “innocent explanation” or a “sinister explanation” behind the evidence. The only way to get to the bottom of it is to fully investigate, he said.

    Rawlins, the district attorney in Davis County, argued the “most appropriate entity to review those type of things, if they would, would be the Department of Justice.”

    He said the DOJ has a responsibility to “look at allegations of conduct or misconduct involving federal officials.”

    Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah pauses while speaking at the Conservative Political Action Committee annual conference in National Harbor, Md., Thursday, March 6, 2014. Thursday marks the first day of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, which brings together prospective presidential candidates, conservative opinion leaders and tea party activists from coast to coast.(AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

    More from the ABC News report:

    When they began, their effort was narrowly focused on allegations of corruption facing the newly elected Utah Attorney General, John Swallow. Swallow has denied the allegations against him, but resigned his state post in November, less than a year after being elected.


    The investigation, with the assistance of the FBI team, has continued to focus largely on state players. But the two local prosecutors said they may be forced to consider expanding it to include federal players if the Department of Justice remains on the sideline.

    “If somebody commits crimes and there’s a nexus to the state of Utah and we can prove it beyond a reasonable doubt, it doesn’t matter who they are,” Rawlings said. “Even a U.S. senator. And no, we’re not afraid of that. That’s our job.”

    Information about the investigation is limited because the probe is still ongoing. As the Washington Times notes, the case hinges on a few key questions:

    • whether both or either politician sought or received money or other benefits from donors and/or fund-raisers in connection with doing political favors or taking official actions;

    • whether Mr. Lee provided accurate information when he bought, then sold a Utah home for a big loss to a campaign contributor and federal contractor, leaving his mortgage bank to absorb large losses.

    Further, some of the allegations seem to rely on claims made by one of the key players who worked at a St. George, Utah, bank that handled transitions made by one of the world’s largest online poker companies to process hundreds of millions of dollars in proceeds.

    “Johnson claims he was instructed by online poker figures to hide illegal contributions to the campaigns of Reid and Lee in 2010 by finding ‘straw donors’ who were reimbursed from poker accounts in the bank for money they supposedly contributed,” the report states.

    Johnson is awaiting trial in Utah on 86 Internet fraud charges. He is accused of cheating people out of millions of dollars.

    Adam Jentleson, a spokesperson for Sen. Reid called the claims by the district attorneys a “publicity stunt.” He said Reid “has never been contacted in regards to this investigation” and called Johnson “a desperate individual who’s been indicted on over 80 counts.”

    A spokesman for Sen. Lee also said no one from the prosecutor’s office or the FBI has contacted the Utah senator.

    ABC Entertainment News | ABC Business News

    Read the full ABC News report here.

  • Obama Orders Review of U.S. Deportation Practices
    Posted March 13, 2014 at 9:31 pm by Associated Press

    Comments (120)

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama has ordered a review of U.S. deportation practices to see whether immigration enforcement can be more humane, the White House said Thursday.

    (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

    In a meeting with Latino lawmakers, Obama said he was deeply concerned about the pain that families feel when they are separated because of a broken U.S. immigration system. He told the lawmakers he’s asking Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to perform an inventory of current practices “to see how it can conduct enforcement more humanely within the confines of the law,” the White House said in a statement.

    The announcement comes as immigrant rights activists, frustrated by the lack of progress in Congress, have been pressuring Obama to halt all deportations. Obama had said he doesn’t have the power to take that step unilaterally, although he has previously moved to ease deportations for some children brought into the U.S. illegally.

    The Senate passed a comprehensive immigration bill last June with strong bipartisan support that would create a pathway for citizenship for the 11 million immigrants living in the country illegally, tighten border security and establish new visa and enforcement programs. The measure has languished in the House despite calls from Republican Party leaders, business groups, religious organizations and labor for lawmakers to act.

    Taking part in the meeting Thursday were Rep. Ruben Hinojosa, D-Texas, who chairs the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., a prominent immigration advocate, and House Democratic Caucus Xavier Becerra of California also joined Obama in the Oval Office.

  • The Incredible Reason Mom Added a Sandbox to Her Infant Son’s Grave Will Both Break and Warm Your Heart
    Posted March 13, 2014 at 9:05 pm by Jason Howerton

    Comments (60)

    A mother’s tribute to her son, who passed away just five days after she gave birth to him, is as simple as it is beautiful. Now it’s touching hearts across the world as her photo posted on Facebook is going viral.

    Ashlee Hammac, 24, told that she initially planned to decorate her late son Ryan’s gravesite with glass pebbles. She ended up incorporating her older son, Tucker, into the decision.

    This was the result:


    Ashlee Hammac/Facebook

    Hammac said Tucker would visit Ryan’s grave with her all the time. He “sings lullabies, and talks to him just like he was there,” she explained.

    “So I wanted it to be special for him too. His favorite thing right now is trucks,” the mother added.

    That’s where the idea for the sandbox — seen above — came from. Now Tucker has a place where he can not only mourn the loss of his little brother, but he can play there too. The boy now often asks his mother if he can visit “baby Ryan’s sandbox.”

    “After first posting a photo of Tucker playing in Ryan’s sandbox on March 2, Hammac said she has experienced an overwhelming outpouring of support from other mothers who have lost children. She says the virtual response has been particularly moving given her own difficulty in finding an outlet for her grief when Ryan passed away,” reports.

    The viral photo has now been shared more than 220,000 times on Facebook.

    Baby Ryan was given a 1 in 8 chance of living after Hammac’s placenta burst during birth in October, depriving the baby of oxygen for several hours. The child was treated in the neonatal intensive care unit for several days. Eventually, an MRI showed no brain activity.

    Credit: Ashlee Hammac

    Credit: Ashlee Hammac/Facebook

    Even though he only lived for five days, Ryan still managed to play the role of a hero. His heart was donated to save the life of another baby.

    Hammac said she wants to meet the mom of that child someday.

  • Wait, This Louisiana Store Lets People Buy WHAT With EBT Cards?
    Posted March 13, 2014 at 8:15 pm by Becket Adams

    Comments (126)

    A lingerie store in Louisiana is reportedly accepting Electronic Benefits Transfer cards, meaning low-income residents can use taxpayer cash to purchase “specialty” items.

    Kiss My Lingerie, which is located in Gonzales, La., specializes in “adult” items, KSLA-TV reported.

    Surprisingly enough, the store has been accepting EBT cards for nearly eight months, according to the owner. Local news outlets only recently noticed.

    The owner said he accepts all forms of payment and “does not discriminate against customers,” according to the station.

    “We were told anything could be purchased there, with the food stamp card,” a woman who works near the shop and asked not to be identified said. “No child I know eats edible underwear.”

    She said she only recently realized that the EBT sign was there, adding that she noticed a sizeable uptick in people coming in and out of the store.

    The Louisiana Purchase card is not just for food stamps, a Department of Children and Family Services said, adding that there are also cash benefits available for “other family needs.”

    There are only a few things the card does not cover: Alcohol, tobacco, lottery tickets, casinos and “adult entertainment.”

    Now, it may seem like purchases made at the lingerie store would be a violation of the card’s rules, but state officials say it’s technically legitimate.

    “[B]ecause the cash benefits are part of a federal program, Louisiana does not dictate how families spend the money of those cards, which could be less than $200 a month or up to $400 a month,” KSLA-TV explained.

    But some residents, including the one unidentified woman, are not happy with the situation: “It’s still the taxpayers dollars that are being used in a store like that and that really upsets me.”

    Fewer than 10,000 people get cash benefits, DCFS said, adding that roughly 835,000 people use the card for food benefits only.

    Retail stores are not authorized to accept EBT payments unless first cleared by the federal government.

    Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter

  • Passengers Evacuated After Plane Emergency at Philly Airport
    Posted March 13, 2014 at 7:58 pm by Associated Press

    Comments (47)

    PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Passengers have been evacuated from a Florida-bound plane at Philadelphia International Airport after an apparent mechanical failure.

    Airline officials said USAirways Flight 1702 was heading to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., when the pilot was forced to abort takeoff around 6:30 p.m. Thursday after the front landing gear failed.

    A person walks around a damaged US Airways jet at the end of a runway at the Philadelphia International Airport, Thursday, March 13, 2014, in Philadelphia. Airline officials said the flight was heading to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., when the pilot was forced to abort takeoff around 6:30 p.m., after the front landing gear failed. An airport spokeswoman said no injuries have been reported. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

    A person walks around a damaged US Airways jet at the end of a runway at the Philadelphia International Airport, Thursday, March 13, 2014, in Philadelphia. Airline officials said the flight was heading to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., when the pilot was forced to abort takeoff around 6:30 p.m., after the front landing gear failed. An airport spokeswoman said no injuries have been reported. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

    An airport spokeswoman said no injuries have been reported.

    Video aired by WCAU-TV showed the plane still on the runway as of 7:45 p.m., with its emergency slides inflated.

    Flights have been halted at the airport.

    No further details were immediately available.

  • Pastor Finds the Courage to Confess Past Sin to His Flock – Then Drops Dead
    Posted March 13, 2014 at 7:52 pm by Jason Howerton

    Comments (74)

    A Connecticut pastor asked parishioners to stick around after last Sunday’s service so he could confess his past infidelity and seek forgiveness. Moments after his confession, he reportedly fell over and suffered a suspected fatal heart attack.

    Judy Stovall, a parishioner who was in attendance on Sunday, told the Connecticut Post that Bishop Bobby Davis wanted to finally come clean. Davis is the pastor and founder of the Miracle Faith World Outreach Church in Bridgeport, Conn.

    “We were shouting, ‘We forgive you, we love you,’ but the stress of all of it — he had a heart attack,” Stovall recalled. “I held his head as he lay on the floor … Our congregation is hurting now.”

    The pastor reportedly got a mixed response from the crowd. Stovall admitted the yelling from congregants got pretty loud.

    “A woman, who wouldn’t give her name, said she had been outside the church at the time and heard yelling coming from inside, but didn’t know what was being said,” the report adds.

    Davis was pronounced dead at the Bridgeport Hospital. Police are still investigating the circumstances surrounding incident.

    The Christian Post, citing an unidentified church member, reports Davis first confessed to his wife of 50 years. She then reportedly urged her husband to come clean before his flock.

    (H/T: Fox News)

  • Stylish Scarf Disguises Germ-Filtering Mask So You Don’t Look Like You’re Carrying the Bubonic Plague
    Posted March 13, 2014 at 7:45 pm by Liz Klimas

    Comments (37)

    There’s somthing unsettling about surgical masks outside of a medical setting, whether they’re being worn to prevent a contagion from spreading or to protect a person with a weak immune system. A trendy looking scarf over the mouth and nose, especially in the winter months, though doesn’t draw unnecessary attention.

    Such was the inspiration for the Scough.

    Image source: Scough

    Image source: Scough

    “You don’t want to wear a silly looking surgeon’s mask to keep healthy. So instead of looking like you’ve come down with the bubonic plague when you walk onto the subway, you’ll just be that stylish looking guy or gal sporting a designer Scough with built in protection from the harsh germ and pollution-filled world,” the Brooklyn-based company said on its website.

    The Scough’s embedded mask filters out potentially harmful particles or pollutants using activated carbon and a small micropore-size mesh. It also packs silver ions that kill bacteria by “causing their cells membranes to collapse.”

    Image source: Scough

    Image source: Scough

    The Scough, which is currently handmade, doesn’t claim to guarantee it will keep people from getting sick or spreading illnesses, but “it will definitely increase your chances of staying healthy and warm.”

    Watch this report from News 12 Brooklyn about the Scough:


    (H/T: io9)

  • Missing Plane Creates Legion of Armchair Sleuths
    Posted March 13, 2014 at 7:30 pm by Jason Howerton

    Comments (79)

    Story by the Associated Press; curated by Jason Howerton

    NEW YORK (AP) — There aren’t supposed to be any mysteries in the Digital Age.

    The answers to most questions, it seems, can be found using Google or Twitter. So, maybe that’s why the world is captivated by the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and why it has created a legion of armchair sleuths, spouting theories in some cases so strange they belong in science-fiction films.

    Casual conversations in supermarket aisles, barbershop chairs and office building cafeterias have centered on the mystery and how much we don’t know. With the search for the missing Boeing 777 entering its seventh day, the passengers’ families are left without closure while the intrigue – and hypotheses – continue to grow for the rest of us.

    An Indonesian Air Force officer draws a flight pattern flown earlier in a search operation for the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777, during a post-mission briefing at Suwondo air base in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia, Thursday, March 13, 2014. The hunt for the missing jetliner has been punctuated by false leads since it disappeared with 239 people aboard about an hour after leaving Kuala Lumpur for Beijing early Saturday. (AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara)

    An Indonesian Air Force officer draws a flight pattern flown earlier in a search operation for the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777, during a post-mission briefing at Suwondo air base in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia, Thursday, March 13, 2014. The hunt for the missing jetliner has been punctuated by false leads since it disappeared with 239 people aboard about an hour after leaving Kuala Lumpur for Beijing early Saturday. (AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara)

    “We’re fascinated by it. We don’t know what happened and we hope for a miracle,” says John DiScala, who runs the travel advice site “People want an answer and the suspense is killing them.”

    Normally, travelers turn to DiScala for the latest deals on flights. But this week, he says, a page on his website dedicated to the latest news about the flight has received most of the attention.

    The pros are just as perplexed. On TV and in online forums, aviation experts are more measured and analytical than the amateurs but in the end can’t say with any certainty what happened.

    With no distress call, no sign of wreckage and very few answers, the disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines plane is turning into one of the biggest aviation mysteries since Amelia Earhart vanished over the Pacific Ocean in 1937.

    “Anybody who travels is intrigued with this story. How can a plane disappear? We’ve got satellites beaming down on everybody …” says Andrea Richard, a French-American in Paris who travels widely, including to Asia.

    Theories abound. Some are serious: there was a catastrophic failure in the airframe or engines or there might have been a pilot error. Other ideas are the kinds to be found in science fiction movies: a new Bermuda Triangle, an alien abduction or something out of the Twilight Zone.

    Map via Google Maps/Slate

    Map via Google Maps/Slate

    Terrorism isn’t suspected but hasn’t been ruled out either. But some people have come up with elaborate plots worthy of a James Bond villain where the plane is hijacked and lands on a remote island, undetected by radar.

    Others have sat in their homes or offices scouring new commercial satellite images of the ocean, looking for any debris from the plane.

    False leads and conflicting information have only added to the mystery, the speculation and the frustration. It’s still unclear how far the plane may have flown after losing contact with civilian radar – and in which direction. On Thursday, planes were sent to search an area off the southern tip of Vietnam where Chinese satellite images released by the Chinese government reportedly showed floating objects believed to be part of the plane. Nothing turned up.

    Even if the plane is found soon, the speculation likely won’t fade. It can take months, if not years, after a plane crash to learn definitively what happened.

    That’s an anomaly in an age of instant answers. If something isn’t known, we just Google it. If we are lost, we use the GPS on our smartphones to find our location. And if our flight is delayed, even five minutes, the airline sends us a text message.

    In this situation – to everybody’s frustration – we still don’t have a conclusion.

    Popular TV shows like “Lost,” or movies like “Alive” or “Castaway,” where people survive a plane crash only to have the rest of the world give up on them, just feed the curiosity. (Note: It was a Boeing 777 that disappeared over the Pacific in “Lost.”)

    “This feeds into everyone’s fear of flying. It’s one thing for people to have a fear of dying in a plane crash. It’s another one to die in a plane crash and never be found,” says Phil Derner, founder of the aviation enthusiast website NYC Aviation.

    Those within the aviation industry are enthralled with the mystery too, but from a much more methodical, scientific viewpoint.

    “There’s a lot of head scratching going on,” says Daniel O. Rose, a partner with the aviation accident law firm Kreindler & Kreindler LLP, which is representing the survivors and victims’ families of July’s Asiana Airlines crash in San Francisco. “It becomes like a murder mystery almost, these clues that you’re getting and trying to piece it together in a way that makes technical and logical sense.”

    Airlines and their employees don’t like to talk about crashes. It’s not in their nature. Instead, they defer to the crash investigators. Part of it is that they have nothing to gain by speaking and part of it is superstition.

    A woman reads messages and well wishes put up for all involved with the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner MH370 on the walls of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Thursday, March 13, 2014 in Sepang, Malaysia. Planes sent Thursday to check the spot where Chinese satellite images showed possible debris from the missing Malaysian jetliner found nothing, Malaysia’s civil aviation chief said, deflating the latest lead in the six-day hunt. The hunt for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370 has been punctuated by false leads since it disappeared with 239 people aboard about an hour after leaving Kuala Lumpur for Beijing early Saturday. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

    Jason Rabinowitz, a self-proclaimed aviation geek whose hobby includes snapping photographs of airplanes taking off and landing, said those within the industry are bringing up previous incidents and previous searches “rather than clinging to straws.”

    Normally, aviation experts have their theories and stick to their guns. This time, he said, people are throwing out theories left and right only to have other experts shoot them down.

    “The aviation community is more puzzled than the general population because we know more of what would cause an accident and we still have no clue,” Rabinowitz says. “I keep going to sleep every night and hoping that I wake up with some shred of good news but it isn’t happening.”

    This story has been updated.

  • McDonald’s Hit With Lawsuits Over ‘Stolen’ Wages
    Posted March 13, 2014 at 7:24 pm by Guest Post

    Comments (98)

    McDonald’s and some of its franchisees have been hit with multiple class-action lawsuits filed by workers alleging that the fast-food giant is systemically stealing their wages.


    The suits, which were filed Wednesday and Thursday in California, Michigan and New York, claim McDonald’s has engaged in widespread wage theft by making employees work off the clock, shaving hours off time cards and not paying workers overtime.

    McDonald’s Vice President of Global External Communications Heidi Barker Sa Shekhem wrote in an email, “McDonald’s and our independent owner-operators share a concern and commitment to the well-being and fair treatment of all people who work in McDonald’s restaurants. We are currently reviewing the allegations in the lawsuits. McDonald’s and our independent franchisees are committed to undertaking a comprehensive investigation of the allegations and will take any necessary actions as they apply to our respective organizations.”

    This is the latest in a string of actions by fast-food workers, many of whom earn minimum wage, to protest how much they are paid.

    In early December, workers staged mass protests throughout the U.S. to demand the federal minimum hourly wage be raised to $15 from the current level of $7.25.

    In response to these protests, McDonald’s has stressed the opportunities its jobs gives workers.

    Lisa McComb, a McDonald’s spokesperson, told Nation’s Restaurant News, “We offer employees advancement opportunities, competitive pay and benefits. And we invest in training and professional development that helps them learn practical and transferable business skills.”


    A separate movement has grown on Capitol Hill, with President Barack Obama and many Democrats in Congress advocating for a hike in the federal minimum wage to $10.10.

    But a recent Congressional Budget Office report provided ammunition for those opposing such a move.

    The nonpartisian CBO estimated that an increase to $10.10 could result in about 500,000 jobs being lost by late 2016.

    ©2014 CNBC LLC. All Rights Reserved.

  • Chris Christie Snaps at Town Hall Hecklers: ‘Sit Down and Keep Quiet or Get Out!’
    Posted March 13, 2014 at 6:53 pm by Jason Howerton

    Comments (100)

    A number of hecklers gave New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie a hard time during a Thursday town hall at a YMCA in Mount Laurel, N.J. Some of the critics shouted about the “Bridgegate” scandal and questions surrounding Hurricane Sandy relief funding.

    New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks at a town hall meeting, Thursday, March 13, 2014, at the YMCA of Burlington County, in Mount Laurel, N.J. Christie announced that the average property tax increase in New Jersey last year was a relatively modest 1.7 percent. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

    At one point, Christie lost his patience and snapped at a very vocal audience member.

    “Listen… Either sit down and keep quiet or get out, one or the other. We are done with you,” he said.

    Police officers eventually escorted the heckler out of the town hall meeting.

    Two more female protesters were removed later in the meeting, leading Christie to address the issue.

    “I really love youthful enthusiasm, I really do,” Christie told the crowd as the protesters were being removed. “And these folks who come in here today, ginned up for their own partisan purposes, you see they’re get exactly what they want, because they get taken out, they get attention and then press follows them out and interviews them.”

    He claimed the hecklers don’t really want an answer or they would’ve waited to be called on.

    Watch the video via ABC News:

    ABC Entertainment News | ABC Business News

    (H/T: Mediaite)

  • Christian Film Critic Defends Disney’s ‘Frozen’: You ‘Really Need to Push’ to Take It as ‘Gay-Friendly Metaphor’
    Posted March 13, 2014 at 6:41 pm by Billy Hallowell

    Comments (123)

    A Christian film critic disputed a pastor’s claim of covert homosexual and bestiality themes in Disney’s new Oscar-winning animated film “Frozen,” saying the children’s movie has a positive family-friendly message.

    “When you think of a Disney cartoon, you tend to think of true love, love at first sight, love’s first kiss, all that sort of stuff,” Paul Asay of Focus on the Family’s Plugged In told the Christian Post. “‘Frozen’ really plays around with that but in a really delightful way to turn it around and say ‘This romantic love isn’t the only one that is available.’”

    Asay said the film shows important family relationships, including love and the strong bond between sisters — and that the love the characters have for one another perseveres even when negativity strikes.

    As for the film’s emphasis on embracing people’s differences, Asay said it’s important to remember that theme was pervasive in children’s entertainment long before the gay rights movement picked up steam.

    “You would really need to push” to suggest such messages “could be taken as some gay-friendly metaphor,” Asay told the Christian Post.

    He added, ”When I was growing up these were the sort of messages that encouraged me to read when others were playing football. I think that when you look at Elsa’s story, I took it not as any gay metaphor but really talking a lot about what almost all kids feel as they go through adolescence.”

    He said that being Christian itself is “about being different” and not necessarily following along with the direction culture is moving.

    “Christianity has always been very counter-culture, where within the realm of following God, following Jesus, we’re able to find ourselves in a way that never would have been possible by following culture as it was,” he said.

    Asay’s comments came after Christian radio host Pastor Kevin Swanson’s said parents should be wary of “Frozen” and of Disney’s stance on same-sex relationships.

    “I don’t think anybody debates the fact that Disney is pro-homosexual,” Swanson told TheBlaze Tuesday.

    The radio host claimed there was a brief presentation in the film implying a character was part of a same-sex family.

    Swanson also cited a song called “Fixer Upper” in which trolls sing about Kristoff, one of the male characters. The radio host called one of the lines “inappropriate” and a “lightly cloaked reference to bestiality.”

    Image source: Disney/YouTube

    Image source: Disney/YouTube

    The trolls sing: “So he’s a bit of a fixer-upper, So he’s got a few flaws, Like his peculiar brain, dear, His thing with the reindeer, That’s a little outside of nature’s laws!”

    Asay isn’t alone in voicing support for the film from a religious perspective. Collin Garbarino, an assistant history professor at Houston Baptist University, said he sees parallels between Dante’s “Inferno” and the central themes and story line present in “Frozen.”

    In an article about the subject, he wrote, “Disney’s ‘Frozen’ might be the most Christian movie that I have seen this year.”

    (H/T: Christian Post)

    Featured image via Disney/YouTube

  • Senators Strike $9.7B Deal to Extend Unemployment Benefits
    Posted March 13, 2014 at 6:30 pm by Becket Adams

    Comments (47)
    As Deadline On Debt Reduction Impasse Looms, Super Committee Meets Over Weekend

    Getty Images.

    WASHINGTON (TheBlaze/AP) — A group of senators ended a long-running election-season standoff and struck a compromise that would extend jobless benefits for nearly 2 million long-term unemployed Americans, the lawmakers said Thursday.

    At approximately 3.8 million, the total number of long-term unemployed (i.e. people who have been unemployed for 27 weeks or more) increased by roughly 293,000 in February, according to the Labor Department’s latest jobs report.

    Should the Senate approve the election-year measure — as seemed likely — it would throw the issue to the Republican-run House. Its fate there was uncertain.

    The timing of a Senate vote also was unclear.

    Two leaders of the negotiations — Sens. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) — said in a statement that the deal would be retroactive to the end of last year, when the emergency benefits program expired. Since then, the benefits have ended for roughly 2 million people.

    As the stalemate dragged on, Democrats had said opposition by most Republicans to extending the benefits showed GOP indifference toward helping those out of work. Republicans said they wanted an extension that was fully paid for and which improved the system.

    One aide said the measure’s price tag was $9.7 billion.

    Lawmakers said the proposal was fully paid for by extending some customs fees and changing how some companies set aside money for pensions, in effect increasing their taxes. More federal revenue would be raised by changing the way some companies make payments to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., which guarantees workers’ pensions.

    The deal would end jobless payments to people earning more than $1 million a year. The lawmakers cited 2010 IRS data showing that 0.03 percent of taxpayers earned over $1 million and received some form of federal or state unemployment benefits.

    The agreement also has a provision aimed at improving programs that help the long-term unemployed find new jobs.

    The measure will need 60 votes to overcome Republican procedural tactics aimed at killing it.

    But with Democrats having 55 votes — including two usually supportive independents — supporters seemed to have a strong chance of reaching that threshold because five Republicans co-sponsored the announced deal. They were Heller and Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Rob Portman of Ohio, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mark Kirk of Illinois.

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