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  • Teen Describes How Her Dying Mother With a Knife in Her Body Saved Her and Her Brothers From Palestinian Terrorist
    Posted January 20, 2016 at 9:11 am by Sharona Schwartz

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    A 17-year-old Israeli girl described the horrific scene she witnessed over the weekend when her mother, Dafna Meir, fought with a Palestinian terrorist to make sure he didn’t pull the knife out of her body and then stab her children.

    Ranana Meir, a 12th-grade student, told Israel’s Channel 2 News Tuesday night: “I saw him try to pull out the knife. I shouted to my two brothers not to go up to the living room. I understood that he [the assailant] wanted to continue. It took a few seconds until he realized that he couldn’t remove the knife, and he ran.”

    Her murdered mother was lauded as a hero in Israel after wrestling with the attacker to make sure he didn’t go after three of her six children who were at home in the West Bank Jewish community of Otniel when the assailant arrived intent on attacking Jews.

    Natan (C), the husband of Dafna Meir arrives with his children for her funeral ceremony in the Jewish settlement of Otniel near the flashpoint city of Hebron in the southern West Bank on January 18, 2016. Dafna Meir, a hospital nurse and a mother of six, was stabbed to death by a suspected Palestinian attacker in her home on January 17, 2016 after the attacker broke into her house the Israeli army said. Meir’s daughter Ranana, 17, who witnessed the attack, is pictured to her father’s left. (Photo: Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images)

    Natan, center, the husband of Dafna Meir, arrives with his children for her funeral ceremony in the Jewish settlement of Otniel near the flashpoint city of Hebron in the southern West Bank Monday. Dafna Meir, a hospital nurse and a mother of six, was stabbed to death by a suspected Palestinian attacker in her home Sunday after the attacker broke into her house, the Israeli Army said. Meir’s daughter Ranana, 17, who witnessed the attack, is pictured under her father’s left arm. (Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images)

    The suspect in her killing was arrested Monday and later identified by Israeli security forces as a 15-year-old Palestinian.

    “Mom fought with him, she didn’t let him remove the knife. She didn’t let him hurt us. I screamed. He was shocked and fled. I went to Mom, to the knife that was sticking out of her. I came to remove it but then I remembered that in the Magen David Adom course they told us not to remove foreign objects,” Renana recalled, according to a translation of the interview by Arutz Sheva. Magen David Adom is an Israeli medical rescue service.

    Ranana told Channel 2 that she was in the master bedroom talking on the phone when she heard her 38-year-old mother scream.

    “At first I thought to myself that she was probably frightened by a centipede or a cockroach, two things which easily could have caused Mom to shout. … But then the shouts grew louder and didn’t stop,” Ranana recalled.

    “When I went upstairs, Mom was already lying on the ground. She was still fighting with the terrorist,” the teen said.

    When he saw the daughter, the assailant tried to pull the knife out of Dafna to continue his rampage.

    Dafna Meir expressed fears for the safety of her family during these months of nearly daily Palestinian attacks on Jews. She wrote about her worries in a community publication. (Image source: Dafna Meir’s blog)

    Dafna Meir expressed fears for the safety of her family during these months of nearly daily Palestinian attacks on Jews. She wrote about her worries in a community publication. (Image source: Dafna Meir’s blog)

    Ranana then called for an ambulance.

    “Mom was still breathing, I just asked her the whole time to keep breathing, not to stop, but I already knew. It was clear to me that it was over. She tried to keep breathing. I felt that she heard me even though she already wasn’t responding,” Ranana said, adding, “I hope that she didn’t hear my screams.”

    A family member told Channel 2 about Dafna’s commitment to fostering two children — beyond her four biological children — to spread kindness.

    “She wanted to restore kindness to the world,” the unnamed family member said.

    Ranana echoed her parents’ commitment to offering a home to needy children.

    “There are children who need foster homes. Many. We have to give them a home,” she said. “Many people want to but are afraid. There’s nothing to fear. We’re also not a well-to-do family, but we did it.”

    Dafna’s husband Natan said that he and his wife used to talk a lot about what would happen if one of them got killed, given the four-month wave of nearly daily Palestinian stabbing attacks.

    “We talked a lot about what would happen if one of us got killed, and which of us first,” he said, adding, “Who would be left to raise the children.”

  • Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder on Flint Water Crisis: ‘I Let You Down’
    Posted January 20, 2016 at 9:10 am by Associated Press

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    LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said he has failed Flint residents but pledged to take new steps to fix the city’s drinking water crisis, starting with committing millions in state funding and deploying more National Guard members.

    The second-term Republican, who devoted most of his annual State of the State speech Tuesday night to the emergency in Flint, also pledged greater transparency. He said he would release on Wednesday his own emails regarding Flint’s water, which became contaminated with too much lead when the city switched its water source in 2014 as a cost-cutting measure.

    “I’m sorry most of all that I let you down,” Snyder, whose administration is engulfed in criticism, said in the 49-minute address, as hundreds of protesters demonstrated outside the Capitol. “You deserve better. You deserve accountability. You deserve to know that the buck stops here with me. Most of all, you deserve to know the truth, and I have a responsibility to tell the truth.”

    Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder delivers his State of the State address to a joint session of the House and Senate, Tuesday, January 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)

    Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder delivers his State of the State address to a joint session of the House and Senate, Tuesday, January 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)

    The lead contamination — which can lead to behavior problems and learning disabilities in children and kidney ailments in adults — has left Flint residents unable to drink unfiltered tap water. The National Guard, state employees, local authorities and volunteers have been distributing lead tests, filters and bottled water. Snyder aides pledged that by the end of the week officials would visit every household in Flint to ensure they have water filters.

    Democrats said Snyder only recently admitted the magnitude of the fiasco, at least three months too late.

    “This is the kind of disaster, the kind of failure to deliver basic services that hurts people’s trust in government,” House Minority Leader Tim Greimel said.

    In his speech, Snyder committed $28 million more in the short term to pay for more filters, bottled water, school nurses, intervention specialists, testing and monitoring — on top of $10.6 million allocated in the fall. The money also would replace plumbing fixtures in schools with lead problems and could help Flint with unpaid water bills.

    The new round of funding, which requires approval from the GOP-led Legislature, is intended as another short-range step while Snyder works to get a better handle on the long-range costs. He plans to make a bigger request in his February budget proposal.

    Snyder also announced the deployment of roughly 130 more National Guard members to the city and revealed his appeal of President Barack Obama’s denial of a federal disaster declaration for the area.

    “To you, the people of Flint, I say tonight as I have before: I am sorry, and I will fix it,” he said.

    Snyder, a former venture capitalist and computer executive who took office in 2011 billing himself as a practical decision-maker and a “tough nerd,” has rejected calls for his resignation. He has previously apologized for regulatory failures and for an underwhelming initial response and on Tuesday outlined a timeline of the “catastrophe” dating to 2013, and blamed it on failures at the federal, state and local level.

    The crisis began when Flint, about an hour’s drive from Detroit, switched its water supply from Detroit’s system to the Flint River in 2014 to save money while under state financial management. Michigan’s top environmental regulator Dan Wyant resigned over the failure to ensure that the Flint River water was properly treated to keep lead from pipes from leaching into the water.

    Elevated blood-lead levels were found in two city zip codes.

    The Rev. Jesse Jackson, who attended the address, said Snyder’s contrition “does not mitigate the crime that has been committed.” But Republican Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof said Snyder is a “real leader who took responsibility even though he did not cause the situation.”

    The U.S. Justice Department is helping the Environmental Protection Agency to investigate, and GOP state Attorney General Bill Schuette has opened his own probe, which could focus on whether environmental laws were broken or if there was official misconduct. The EPA is under scrutiny for its role, too.

    Retired nurse Lynn Hier of the northwestern Detroit suburb of New Baltimore joined the protest outside the statehouse on Tuesday. She called on Snyder to fire the district’s state-appointed emergency manager, Darnell Earley, because he also was an emergency manager in Flint at the time of the water switch.

    “He’s not going to be anyone that anybody trusts,” Hier said.

    Watch Attorney Michael Pitt list plaintiff’s grievances regarding the water crisis:



  • ‘I Was Born Again’: Listen to Pastor Saeed Abedini Speak Out After Being Detained for More Than 3 Years in Iran
    Posted January 20, 2016 at 9:06 am by Billy Hallowell

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    A video uploaded to attorney Jay Sekulow’s Facebook page on Tuesday provides audio from a phone conversation that he had this week with Saeed Abedini, the Christian preacher and American citizen who was held captive in Iran for three and a half years due to his faith.

    Sekulow and his organization, the American Center for Law & Justice, have worked tirelessly since 2012 toward Abedini’s release, recounting the horrific beatings and terrifying plight that the Christian leader faced inside some of Iran’s harshest prisons.

    The brief clip shows Sekulow calling the pastor after he was released on Jan. 16 as part of a prisoner swap between the U.S. and Iran.

    “I’m glad to hear your voice,” Sekulow said after Abedini answered. “I’ve not heard your voice.”

    Naghmeh and Saeed Abedini (ACLJ)

    A photo of Naghmeh and Saeed Abedini taken before his detainment in 2012 (ACLJ)

    The pastor agreed, saying that he has been “waiting for that for so long,” later thanking Sekulow for his support. The American Center for Law & Justice has also helped Abedini’s wife, Naghmeh, throughout her very public battle to fight for her husband’s release.

    “I’m doing great. Today was like my first day or my life, so … I was born again,” Abedini told Sekulow. “Being born again, again.”

    Watch the touching video below:

    The pastor concluded the call by telling Sekulow that he loves his “passion for the word of God.”

    As TheBlaze has reported, Abedini was first arrested in 2012 on charges stemming from meetings he had with other Christians inside private homes — an act that is not illegal in Iran.

    Prior to the prison exchange, Naghmeh Abedini had been very critical of the U.S. government for starting negotiations for the Iran deal while her husband, among others, remained imprisoned in the Middle Eastern country.

    “From day one, we had said that even before we started negotiating with Iran on the deal, we should have — as the United States of America — have said, ‘Release the American hostages, and then we can talk about the nuclear deal,’” she told The Church Boys podcast last summer, months before her husband’s release. “I’ve never wanted Saeed part of the deal … having to think that we ever gave up anything for my husband in terms of such a big issue.”

    Listen to that interview from last summer below:

    Naghmeh Abedini was elated this week over the news that her husband would finally be released from prison, releasing a statement on Jan. 17 through the American Center for Law & Justice.

    “This has been an answer to prayer. This is a critical time for me and my family,” she said. “We look forward to Saeed’s return and want to thank the millions of people who have stood with us in prayer during this most difficult time.”

    Abedini was among five Americans who were released from Iranian prison, with the U.S. agreeing to pardon or drop charges against seven Iranians in exchange.

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  • None of the Iranians Freed by the U.S. This Weekend Have Gone Back to Iran
    Posted January 20, 2016 at 8:44 am by Sharona Schwartz

    Comments (68)

    None of the Iranians freed from U.S. custody as part of this weekend’s so-called prisoner exchange with Iran have chosen to go back to Iran, ABC News reported quoting U.S. officials familiar with the negotiations.

    Six of the seven Iranians pardoned by President Barack Obama hold dual U.S./Iranian citizenship and had been charged with violating U.S. trade sanctions.

    A U.S. plane is pictured on the tarmac of Geneva's airport, on January 17, 2016, as four Iranian-Americans freed by Iran are awaited in Switzerland. (Photo: Richard Juilliart/AFP/Getty Images)

    A U.S. plane is pictured on the tarmac of Geneva’s airport on January 17, 2016, as four Iranian-Americans freed by Iran are awaited in Switzerland. (Photo: Richard Juilliart/AFP/Getty Images)

    Not one of them boarded the plane that took off from the U.S. meant to transport them to Switzerland then bring back the Americans freed from Iran.

    ABC News reported:

    That same day, a plane took off from somewhere on the East Coast of the United States, carrying the seven Iranian-Americans freed from U.S. custody who wanted to return to Iran (or so everyone believed). But not one of them boarded the plane, according to the U.S. officials familiar with the process. The plane left anyway because it was designated to bring the freed Americans on to their second destination in Landstuhl, Germany.

    So where did they go?

    The lawyer for 72-year-old Khosrow Afghahi told ABC that his client was “spending some precious time with his family in the United States.”

    The attorney for 69-year-old Bahram Mechanic told ABC his client was spending time with his wife in Texas.

    Kent Schaffer, the lawyer for Tooraj Faridi told ABC that his client had no plans to leave the U.S.: “He has not been in Iran in years, has no plans to go there, and will remain here at his home. He is an American and will remain in America.”

    No information was provided on the whereabouts of the other four Iranians freed this weekend.

    As part of the agreement timed to the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal, five Americans were released from Iranian custody. One chose not to leave the Islamic Republic, ABC reported.

    The Wall Street Journal quoted a U.S. official who said that all of the released Iranians are free to remain in the U.S. with no travel restrictions.

  • ‘I Can’t Describe My Sadness’: Oldest Christian Monastery in Iraq Is Reduced to Rubble
    Posted January 20, 2016 at 8:41 am by Associated Press

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    IRBIL, Iraq (AP) — The oldest Christian monastery in Iraq has been reduced to a field of rubble, yet another victim of the Islamic State group’s relentless destruction of ancient cultural sites.

    For 1,400 years the compound survived assaults by nature and man, standing as a place of worship recently for U.S. troops. In earlier centuries, generations of monks tucked candles in the niches and prayed in the cool chapel. The Greek letters chi and rho, representing the first two letters of Christ’s name, were carved near the entrance.

    This November 7, 2008, photo shows St. Elijah's Monastery on the outskirts of Mosul, Iraq. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

    This November 7, 2008, photo shows St. Elijah’s Monastery on the outskirts of Mosul, Iraq. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

    Now satellite photos obtained exclusively by The Associated Press confirm the worst fears of church authorities and preservationists — St. Elijah’s Monastery of Mosul has been completely wiped out.

    In his office in exile in Irbil, Iraq, the Rev. Paul Thabit Habib, 39, stared quietly at before- and after-images of the monastery that once perched on a hillside above his hometown of Mosul. Shaken, he flipped back to his own photos for comparison.

    “I can’t describe my sadness,” he said in Arabic. “Our Christian history in Mosul is being barbarically leveled. We see it as an attempt to expel us from Iraq, eliminating and finishing our existence in this land.”

    The Islamic State group, which broke from al-Qaida and now controls large parts of Iraq and Syria, has killed thousands of civilians and forced out hundreds of thousands of Christians, threatening a religion that has endured in the region for 2,000 years. Along the way, its fighters have destroyed buildings and ruins historical and culturally significant structures they consider contrary to their interpretation of Islam.

    Those who knew the monastery wondered about its fate after the extremists swept through in June 2014 and largely cut communications to the area.

    Now, St. Elijah’s has joined a growing list of more than 100 demolished religious and historic sites, including mosques, tombs, shrines and churches in Syria and Iraq. The extremists have defaced or ruined ancient monuments in Nineveh, Palmyra and Hatra. Museums and libraries have been looted, books burned, artwork crushed — or trafficked.

    “A big part of tangible history has been destroyed,” said Rev. Manuel Yousif Boji. A Chaldean Catholic pastor in Southfield, Michigan, he remembers attending Mass at St. Elijah’s almost 60 years ago while a seminarian in Mosul.

    “These persecutions have happened to our church more than once, but we believe in the power of truth, the power of God,” said Boji. He is part of the Detroit area’s Chaldean community, which became the largest outside Iraq after the sectarian bloodshed that followed the U.S. invasion in 2003. Iraq’s Christian population has dropped from 1.3 million then to 300,000 now, church authorities say.

    At the Vatican, spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi, noted that since the monastery dates back to the time Christians were united, before the break with Orthodox and Catholics, the place would be a special one for many. He said it was the first news he had had of the destruction.

    “Unfortunately, there is this systemic destruction of precious sites, not only cultural, but also religious and spiritual. It’s very sad and dramatic,” Lombardi told the AP.

    The destruction of the monastery is a blow for U.S. troops and advisers who served in Iraq and had tried to protect and honor the site, a hopeful endeavor in a violent place and time.

    Suzanne Bott, who spent more than two years restoring St. Elijah’s Monastery as a U.S. State Department cultural adviser in Iraq, teared up when the AP showed her the images.

    “Oh no way. It’s just razed completely,” said Bott. “What we lose is a very tangible reminder of the roots of a religion.”

    Army reserve Col. Mary Prophit remembered a sunrise service in St. Elijah where, as a Catholic lay minister, she served communion.

    “I let that moment sink in, the candlelight, the first rays of sunshine. We were worshipping in a place where people had been worshipping God for 1,400 years,” said Prophit, who was deployed there in 2004 and again in 2009.

    “I would imagine that many people are feeling like, ‘What were the last 10 years for if these guys can go in and destroy everything?’” said Prophit, a library manager in Glenoma, Washington.

    This month, at the request of AP, satellite imagery firm DigitalGlobe tasked a high resolution camera passing over the site to grab photos, and then pulled earlier images of the same spot from their archive of pictures taken globally every day. Imagery analyst Stephen Wood, CEO of Allsource Analysis, reviewed the pictures for AP and identified the date of destruction between Aug. 27 and Sept. 28, 2014. Before it was razed, images show a partially restored, 27,000-square-foot religious building. Although the roof was largely missing, it had 26 distinctive rooms including a sanctuary and chapel. One month later, “the stone walls have been literally pulverized,” said Wood.

    “Bulldozers, heavy equipment, sledgehammers, possibly explosives turned those stone walls into this field of gray-white dust. They destroyed it completely,” he said. “There’s nothing to rebuild.”

    The monastery, called Dair Mar Elia, is named for the Assyrian Christian monk — St. Elijah — who built it between 582 and 590 A.C. It was a holy site for Iraqi Christians for centuries, part of the Mideast’s Chaldean Catholic community.

    In 1743, tragedy struck when as many as 150 monks who refused to convert to Islam were massacred under orders of a Persian general, and the monastery was damaged. For the next two centuries it remained a place of pilgrimage, even after it was incorporated into an Iraqi military training base and later a U.S. base.

    Then in 2003 St. Elijah’s shuddered again — this time a wall was smashed by a tank turret blown off in battle. Iraqi troops had already moved in, dumping garbage in the ancient cistern. The U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division took control, with troops painting over ancient murals and scrawling their division’s “Screaming Eagle,” along with “Chad wuz here” and “I love Debbie,” on the walls.

    A U.S. military chaplain, recognizing St. Elijah’s significance, kicked the troops out and the Army’s subsequent preservation initiative became a pet project for a series of chaplains who toured thousands of soldiers through the ruin.

    “It was a sacred place. We literally bent down physically to enter, an acquiescence to the reality that there was something greater going on inside,” remembered military chaplain Jeffrey Whorton. A Catholic priest who now works at Ft. Bragg, he had to collect himself after viewing the damage. “I don’t know why this is affecting me so much,” he said.

    The U.S. military’s efforts drew attention from international media outlets including the AP in 2008. Today those chronicles, from YouTube videos captured on the cell phones of visiting soldiers to AP’s own high resolution, detailed photographs, take on new importance as archives of what was lost.

    One piece published in Smithsonian Magazine was written by American journalist James Foley, six years before he was killed by Islamic State militants.

    St. Elijah’s was being saved, Foley wrote in 2008, “for future generations of Iraqis who will hopefully soon have the security to appreciate it.”

    This story has been updated.

  • Iconic Marine Sgt. R. Lee Ermey of ‘Gunny Time’ Reveals the One Firearm He’d Choose if He Could Have Only One
    Posted January 20, 2016 at 8:16 am by Mike Opelka

    Comments (247)

    Retired Marine Sgt. R. Lee Ermey sat down with TheBlaze at SHOT Show Tuesday to discuss his TV show “Gunny Time,” the Second Amendment — and his favorite firearm of all time.

    A smiling “Sgt. Gunny” declared that the second season of his Outdoor Channel program — which debuts in July — will continue to follow the mission statement of season one: “We shoot the guns, fly the airplanes, we drive the tanks … if you can’t drive it, fly it or shoot it, we blow the damn thing up.”

    When he spoke about the six-barreled M134 Minigun, one of the firearms featured on his show several times in season one, Ermey’s face lit up. We asked if the Minigun will appear in season two of “Gunny Time” and Ermey grinned broadly: “Oh yes.”

    Image source: YouTube

    Image source: YouTube

    With the presidential primaries about to kick off, we asked Ermey which candidate might be the best shot. While he wouldn’t directly name any figures on the campaign trail, Ermey spoke glowingly of Donald Trump’s son, Donald Trump, Jr.

    “Well, I know Donny Trump,” Ermey said, adding, “He’s on my shooting team … this guy’s a ‘dinger.’ He can lay on the 600-yard line and never miss the black.”

    Ermey also speculated the shooting gene could be in the Trump family: “I’m thinking, if Donny Trump shoots that well … then, dad must be a shooter too.”

    While not endorsing Trump, Ermey offered one observation about the candidate: “I do know that if Trump gets to be our president, our commander in chief, I know one thing — our Second Amendment rights are solid as a rock.”

    TheBlaze closed the interview asking Ermey, “If you could only own a single firearm, which one would you choose?”

    Image source: YouTube

    Image source: YouTube

    Without hesitation he responded, “The M1 Garand,” calling the .30 caliber rifle, “the greatest weapon we’ve ever invented.”

    Listen to the full interview with R. Lee Ermey from TheBlaze Radio.

    Watch Gunny lay out the reasons the M1 is his personal favorite.

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  • Poll Finds Stunning Abortion Opinions Among ‘Pro-Choice’ Americans That Could Cause Some to Totally Rethink Labels
    Posted January 20, 2016 at 7:40 am by Billy Hallowell

    Comments (223)

    A new poll commissioned by the Knights of Columbus has found that the majority of Americans — including individuals who embrace the ”pro-choice” label — support major restrictions on abortion, according to a press release announcing the results.

    Respondents in the Marist Poll were presented with a series of potential views on abortion and were asked to select which came closest to their perspective on the issue. Only 20 percent said that they believe in abortion up to six months or at any point in a pregnancy.

    The vast majority — around 80 percent — selected that they would restrict abortion to the first three months, to cases of rape, incest or danger to the life of the mother, only to save a mother’s life or that they would never support abortion.

    Marist/Knights of Columbus

    Marist/Knights of Columbus

    But it’s what pro-choice Americans said about this question that is, perhaps, most notable.

    “[Sixty-six percent] of those who describe themselves as pro-choice say abortion should be allowed, at most, in the first trimester, in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother, or never permitted,” the study reads.

    Additionally, 82 percent of women took this same stance in the survey.

    The majority of pro-choice supporters — 71 percent — also agreed that laws can protect both a mother and an unborn child — a notion that was held by 77 percent of Americans surveyed overall.

    And while 60 percent of Americans said that abortion is “morally wrong,” just 37 percent said that it is “morally acceptable.”

    These metrics did differ quite a bit among pro-life and pro-choice respondents, as 90 percent of pro-lifers called abortion “morally wrong” as opposed to just 33 percent of pro-choice respondents.

    Marist/Knights of Columbus

    Marist/Knights of Columbus

    A majority of Americans (61 percent), pro-choicers (62 percent) and women (60 percent) would support laws that ban abortion after the 20-week period so long as there is an exemption to save the life of the mother, according to the survey results.

    The release of these results comes as the 43rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade — the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide — is set to unfold on Friday.

    Read the complete results here.

    Front page image via

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  • Taliban Kill 20 in Attack at Northwest Pakistani University
    Posted January 20, 2016 at 7:39 am by Dave Urbanski

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    CHARSADDA, Pakistan (AP) — Taliban gunmen stormed a university in northwestern Pakistan on Wednesday, killing at least 20 people and triggering an hours-long gun battle with the army and police before the military declared that the assault in a town near the city of Peshawar was over.

    Pakistani volunteers rush an injured person to a local hospital after an attack on a university in Charsadda town, some 21 miles outside the city of Peshawar, Pakistan, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016. Gunmen stormed Bacha Khan University named after the founder of an anti-Taliban political party in the country's northwest Wednesday, killing many people, officials said. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)

    Pakistani volunteers rush an injured person to a local hospital after an attack on a university in Charsadda town, some 21 miles outside the city of Peshawar, Pakistan, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016. Gunmen stormed Bacha Khan University named after the founder of an anti-Taliban political party in the country’s northwest Wednesday, killing many people, officials said. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)

    The attack stirred grim echoes of the horrific 2014 Peshawar school attack that killed more than 150 people, mostly children, and shocked the nation. It also prompted the Pakistani prime minister to pledge the country will wipe out the “menace of terrorism.” Police said four attackers were also killed.

    Wednesday’s attack began shortly after the Bacha Khan University opened for classes in the town of Charsadda, some 21 miles outside Peshawar, said Deputy Commissioner Tahir Zafar.

    As police and soldiers rushed to the campus, the attackers traded gunfire with the troops and several explosions were heard from the area of the university. The attackers were later contained inside two university blocks where the troops killed four attackers, the army said.

    A chemistry professor and a student were among those killed, said Zafar, adding that it was not initially clear how many attackers managed to penetrate the campus. Television footage showed heavy military presence at the university, troops rushing in and people fleeing. Ambulances were at the scene and the wounded were taken to hospital.

    The attackers entered the university compound by climbing over back walls and shooting at a security guard before they made their way to the administration building and the male students’ dorms, police official Saeed Khan Wazir said.

    A witness, botany teacher Mohammad Ishtiaq, said he jumped out from the second floor of the building when he heard gunshots and broke his leg. Two attackers were on first floor and three on the ground floor, he said, adding that they were using automatic assault rifles. The students ran in different directions, he said.

    “I locked myself in a washroom,” he said. “I jumped out when I saw one of the attackers coming toward me and shooting straight ahead of him.”

    Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif vowed to fight to the end and destroy the Taliban and other militants.

    “We are determined and resolved in our commitment to wipe out the menace of terrorism from our homeland,” Sharif said in a statement.

    A Taliban leader, Khalifa Umar Mansoor, claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s attack in a phone call to The Associated Press from an undisclosed location.

    Pakistani family members wait outside a local hospital where injured people were taken after an attack in Charsadda town, some 21 miles outside the city of Peshawar, Pakistan, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)

    Pakistani family members wait outside a local hospital where injured people were taken after an attack in Charsadda town, some 21 miles outside the city of Peshawar, Pakistan, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)

    Mansoor, who was the mastermind mind the Peshawar school attack, said a four-man Taliban team carried out the assault in Chasadda. He said it was in revenge for the scores of militants the Pakistani security forces have killed in recent months. The main spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, Mohammad Khurasani, also reiterated the claim of responsibility.

    Wednesday’s attack was also the second Taliban attack in as many days in the volatile northwest. A suicide bomber riding a motorcycle struck a crowded police checkpoint on the outskirts of Peshawar on Tuesday, killing 11 people in an attack that was also claimed by the Taliban.

    Later on Wednesday afternoon, provincial governor Sardar Mehtab Abbasi declared that the military operation on the campus grounds had been completed and that the attack was over. The troops were combing the nearby areas, searching for more possible attackers, he said.

    Pakistani army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif visited the campus and a town hospital where the wounded were brought to.

    The Bacha Khan University is named after the founder of a liberal, anti-Taliban political party. The Pakistani Taliban have in the past targeted the party for its anti-militant policies.

    Pakistan’s northwest and its lawless tribal regions bordering Afghanistan is a highly volatile region. Pakistani forces have been carrying out a major operation against the Taliban and other militants there since 2014.

    Last month, as the country marked the first anniversary of the Peshawar school attack, the military claimed “phenomenal successes” in the war and said it has killed around 3,500 insurgents since launching the operation.

    Though authorities say overall violence has declined since the wide-ranging military offensive was launched in North Waziristan, the Taliban still manage to carry out major attacks.

    The Peshawar school attack horrified the country and led the government to lift a 2008 moratorium on the death penalty. Pakistan hanged four militants last month who were sentenced to death over the attack.

    Associated Press Writers Asif Shahzad in Islamabad and Ishtiaq Mahsud in Dera Ismail Khan, Pakistan, contributed to this report.

  • GOP Strategist Under Fire After Giving This Vulgar Description of Trump’s ‘Alt-Right’ Fans on MSNBC
    Posted January 20, 2016 at 2:41 am by Oliver Darcy

    Comments (216)

    Republican strategist Rick Wilson was flooded with criticism online after giving a vulgar description of Donald Trump’s “alt-right” supporters during an appearance on MSNBC Tuesday night.

    Wilson particularly zeroed in on Trump’s alternative-right fans. According to one online definition, the alternative right can be defined as a “diverse assortment of people, mostly online, who identify as right-wingers but consider themselves either opposed to, or profoundly alienated from mainstream American conservatism — usually because they view it as being too liberal, or preoccupied with the wrong issues.”

    Wilson, a strong critic of Trump, noted that many of the billionaire’s alternate right fans have “Hitler iconography in their Twitter icons.”

    He added, “Most of them are childless single men who masturbate to anime. They’re not real political players. These are not people who matter in the overall course of humanity.”

    Wilson tried to stress on Twitter he wasn’t referring to all of Trump’s fans, only the alternate right supporters, but was still hammered by individuals who were appalled at his remarks.

    The GOP strategist’s account was flooded with criticism — much of which was too graphic to publish. Individuals sent Wilson images of anime pornography while others chose to make sexual attacks on his daughter.

    Wilson is no stranger to controversy. Last year he was forced to apologize after making a sexually vulgar comment toward conservative pundit Ann Coulter.

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  • ‘There’s a Little Suffering’: How to Grow a Beard With ‘Duck Dynasty’ Star Jase Robertson
    Posted January 20, 2016 at 1:23 am by Josiah Ryan

    Comments (41)

    “Duck Dynasty” star Jase Robertson dished advice to TheBlaze editors Billy Hallowell and Josiah Ryan on how to grow a beard suitable for the Louisiana Bayou or the hipster capital of the world in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

    “You have to suffer from day seven to day 14, then its pure bliss,” Robertson told TheBlaze. “[Then] you got great camo, great warmth and nobody will try to mug you.”

    “[W]hen they [muggers] see somebody like this … they are like ‘no, no its not worth it,’” he added.

    Robertson also recounted the time right after he first grew the beard when his then seven-year-old daughter, Mia, didn’t even recognize him.

    “Mia was seven … I came in, she thought I was a stranger,” Robertson said. “She actually got upset. For one week she was uncomfortable around me.”

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  • ‘13 Hours’ Director Asked About Criticism Politics Were Inserted Into Film — Here’s His 6-Word Reply
    Posted January 19, 2016 at 10:44 pm by Oliver Darcy

    Comments (197)

    “We were just saying the facts.”

    Those were the six words “13 Hours” director Michael Bay replied with when asked Tuesday night on the Fox News Channel whether politics were inserted into the film which tells the story of the 2012 Benghazi attacks.

    Host Bill O’Reilly was prompted to ask the question after Bay said on his program that the movie had received praise from those on both sides of the political spectrum.

    “You didn’t even mention Hillary Clinton in the movie, did you?” O’Reilly asked after contending criticism the film is political was “unfair.”

    “No, we did not,” Bay said. “We were just saying the facts.”

    “Here’s the thing,” the director added. “The politics got in the way of this great human story that happened. And this is really to honor these type of men who do this every day, who put themselves in harms way — that’s what this movie is about.”

    O’Reilly played devil’s advocate and pressed him.

    “OK, but it makes the Muslims fanatics look terrible, villainous, awful, savages. And a lot of people object to that, you know?” he said.

    “Well, they attacked. They attacked,” Bay replied. “This is the way I was told. This was the way it was written by the five guys on the ground.”

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  • Search Suspended for 12 Marines Missing After Helicopters Crash Off Hawaii
    Posted January 19, 2016 at 9:52 pm by Oliver Darcy

    Comments (18)

    HONOLULU (AP) — Officials Tuesday suspended the massive search for 12 Marines who were aboard two helicopters that crashed off Hawaii last week.

    The around-the-clock effort failed to locate any sign of the 12 service members despite five days of searching by several agencies.

    Officials said at a late afternoon news conference that the Marine Corps was transitioning to “recovery and salvage efforts” and a memorial was planned for Friday at Marine Corps Base Hawaii.

    The search began late Thursday when a civilian on a beach reported seeing the helicopters flying and then a fireball.

    A search vessel cruises the waters off the beach at Haleiwa, Hawaii, Friday, Jan. 15, 2016. Two Marine helicopters carrying 12 crew members collided off the island of Oahu during a nighttime training mission, and rescuers are searching a debris field in choppy waters, military officials said. (AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy)

    A search vessel cruises the waters off the beach at Haleiwa, Hawaii, Friday, Jan. 15, 2016. Two Marine helicopters carrying 12 crew members collided off the island of Oahu during a nighttime training mission, and rescuers are searching a debris field in choppy waters, military officials said. (AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy)

    The Marines were alerted when the CH-53E helicopters carrying six crew members each failed to return to their base at Kaneohe Bay following a nighttime training mission. Hours later, a Coast Guard helicopter and C-130 airplane spotted debris 2 1/2 miles off of Oahu.

    The crash was near the north shore, but the search area spanned from the western coast of Oahu to the northeast corner of the island.

    The transport helicopters were part of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing at Marine Corps Base Hawaii. Known as Super Stallions, they are the U.S. military’s largest helicopter, capable of carrying a light armored vehicle, 16 tons of cargo or a team of combat-equipped Marines, according to a Marine Corps website.

    The Coast Guard initially reported that the choppers had collided, but the Marines said later it wasn’t yet known if there was a collision. The cause remains under investigation.

    All four life rafts from the helicopters were later found empty. There was no indication anyone had been on any of the rafts, based on their condition and the lack of any personal effects, the Coast Guard said.

    High surf complicated the mission for rescuers during the initial days of the search. A green laser near Haleiwa Beach Park struck a Coast Guard plane Saturday night, forcing crew members to alter search patterns.

    Authorities searched for survivors around the clock. The Coast Guard assumes the best-case scenario when considering how long someone in the right equipment and right conditions could survive, Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Sara Mooers has said.

    “We err on the side of caution because the last thing that anybody wants is to suspend the search when there’s still a possibility of finding somebody,” she said Monday.

    Aircrews wear personal flotation devices with their flight suits and get additional training on top of survival swimming training, the Marines said.

    Some of the life rafts were inflated, but it was unclear how they got that way, Mooers said. There are various ways that could happen, including a cord being pulled by debris, said Irish, the Marine captain.

    People have been found days or even weeks after getting lost at sea, Mooers said.

    They would have to survive the crash and then possible dehydration, exposure and fatigue, said Mario Vittone, a retired Coast Guardsman who is an expert on sea survival. Survival seems unlikely, Vittone said, but he noted that he doesn’t know all the circumstances.

    The missing crew members are:

    — Maj. Shawn M. Campbell, 41, College Station, Texas.

    — Capt. Brian T. Kennedy, 31, Philadelphia.

    — Capt. Kevin T. Roche, 30, St. Louis.

    — Capt. Steven R. Torbert, 29, Florence, Alabama.

    — Sgt. Dillon J. Semolina, 24, Chaska, Minnesota.

    — Sgt. Adam C. Schoeller, 25, Gardners, Pennsylvania.

    — Sgt. Jeffrey A. Sempler, 22, Woodruff, South Carolina.

    — Sgt. William J. Turner, 25, Florala, Alabama.

    — Cpl. Matthew R. Drown, 23, Spring, Texas.

    — Cpl. Thomas J. Jardas, 22, Fort Myers, Florida.

    — Cpl. Christopher J. Orlando, 23, Hingham, Massachusetts.

    — Lance Cpl. Ty L. Hart, 21, Aumsville, Oregon.

  • Clinical Psychologist Says Trump Is Following ‘Playbook’ of Leaders Like Hitler, Mussolini
    Posted January 19, 2016 at 9:39 pm by Tré Goins-Phillips

    Comments (573)

    Clinical psychologist Ben Michaelis told Glenn Beck Tuesday evening that Republican presidential contender Donald Trump, who is leading the polls nationally, is following the “playbook” of leaders like Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler.

    “You would compare Donald Trump to somebody like Mussolini, Hitler — would you put him in those categories?” Beck asked on The Glenn Beck Program.

    “What I can say is that he is following the playbook from those past campaigns,” Michaelis responded. “There are so many parallels, which are quite disturbing.”

    Clinical psychologist Dr. Ben Michaelis discusses Donald Trump with Glenn Beck Tuesday, Jan. 19. (Image source: TheBlaze TV)

    Clinical psychologist Dr. Ben Michaelis discusses Donald Trump with Glenn Beck Tuesday, Jan. 19. (Image source: TheBlaze TV)

    Michaelis told Beck that the reason he believes Hitler garnered support in the 1930s and ’40s and the reason Trump has such a groundswell of support now is because both campaigns are “appealing to the economically downtrodden.” But that is not the only criticism the psychologist had for the billionaire Republican.

    Though he said he has not clinically diagnosed him, Michaelis voiced his belief that there is evidence to show that Trump suffers from “narcissistic personality disorder.”

    “All of the evidence — again, observing him — is of someone who has an inflated, possibly delusional, sense of self esteem, … very little remorse and empathy for others,” Michaelis said. “And a streak that is very common to narcissists when they are questioned or attacked in any way is that they attack with complete, single-minded vitriol, and Mr. Trump exhibits all of these things.”

    The psychologist told Beck that the evidence leads to only one of two conclusions: either he believes what he says and truly is a narcissist, “or he doesn’t believe a lot of the things that he’s saying, which puts him in a very different category of someone that may be, sort of, on the psychotic spectrum.”

    Michaelis is not alone in his belief that Trump is a narcissist. In fact, though some in the mental health community have criticized therapists for “diagnosing” public figures, many have echoed claims very similar to Michaelis’s.

    Later in the program, Michaelis doubled down, adding that he doesn’t believe Trump exhibits any moral compass, either.

    “I don’t think this man really has any true moral compass,” he said. “He believes he is his own moral compass.”

    “You give someone that has those beliefs all of the power and trappings of the presidency, and it becomes a very, very dangerous time. … I think people are very frightened that this man could actually become president of the United States,” Michaelis concluded.

    Complimentary Clip from TheBlaze TV

    The full episode of The Glenn Beck Program, along with many other live-streaming shows and thousands of hours of on-demand content, is available on just about any digital device. Click here to watch every Glenn Beck episode from the past 30 days for just $1!

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  • Read Letter Inspector General Sent Congress After Making Alarming Discovery About Clinton’s Emails
    Posted January 19, 2016 at 9:03 pm by Oliver Darcy

    Comments (261)

    Intelligence more sensitive than “top secret” traversed through Hillary Clinton’s private home server while she served as secretary of state, according to a letter from an inspector general sent to Congress last week.

    The Jan. 14 letter from Inspector General of the Intelligence Agency Charles McCullough III, obtained by Fox News, explained that findings indicated “several dozen emails” contained classified information, including intelligence on “special access programs.”

    Such intelligence is more sensitive than “top secret,” according to Fox News.

    Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 8.57.32 PM

    Image source: Screen grab

    Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 8.57.38 PM

    Image source: Screen grab 

    “To date, I have received two sworn declarations from one [intelligence community] element. These declarations cover several dozen emails containing classified information determined by the IC element to be at the confidential, secret, and top secret/sap levels,” McCullough wrote. “According to the declarant, these documents contain information derived from classified IC element sources.”

    A former senior law enforcement official told Fox News that there was “absolutely no way that one could not recognize SAP material.”

    “It is the most sensitive of the sensitive,” the official explained to the news outlet.

    “It is the most sensitive of the sensitive.”

    Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon reiterated claims that “this is the same interagency dispute that has been playing out for months” and “does not change the fact that these emails were not classified at the time they were sent or received.”

    “It is alarming that the intelligence community IG, working with Republicans in Congress, continues to selectively leak materials in order to resurface the same allegations and try to hurt Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign,” Fallon said.

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  • ‘Hard Not to Cry’: Watch Candy Carson, Woman of Faith Behind Husband’s Campaign, Play Powerful Rendition of ‘Via Dolorosa’
    Posted January 19, 2016 at 8:10 pm by Josiah Ryan

    Comments (100)

    Meet Candy Carson, author, concert violinist, woman of faith behind Ben Carson’s campaign for the GOP nomination.

    Carson, who usually travels with her husband on the campaign trail, stopped by TheBlaze in NYC last week to share a few stories from her new book, “A Doctor in the House: My Life with Ben Carson,” and play a couple hymns on the piano, something she’s been doing since her childhood in inner-city Detroit.

    “When we were growing up my mom was a church organist and she required all of us learn to play keyboard and one other instrument,” Carson told TheBlaze.

    “You develop a love for the discipline,” she said. “Its a different way of expression, of emoting, find a way to help people understand certain things…. its a lovely way to relax.”

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  • ‘They Are So Busted’: Palin Says Trump Undermines Establishment Status Quo in Fiery Endorsement Speech
    Posted January 19, 2016 at 7:51 pm by Leigh Munsil

    Comments (291)

    Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin took aim at the establishment Republican Party Tuesday when endorsing businessman Donald Trump in Iowa, painting the 2016 race as an us-vs.-them bid to upset Washington’s status quo.

    “As long as the politicos, they get to keep their titles and their perks and their media ratings, they don’t really care who wins elections,” Palin bellowed at a crowd in Ames, Iowa. “Believe me on this.”

    She accused the GOP of attacking its own frontrunner in a way that the Democratic Party never would, adding: ”They dont eat their own, they dont self-destruct.”

    For Republicans to be going after Trump and even whispering that they’d support Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton over the business mogul, it shows that they’d rather keep Washington the same than shake it up, Palin said.

    “They are so busted with the way that this works,” she said.

    Establishment Republicans can’t afford to change the status quo, Palin argued, because then they’d have to stop ”slurping off the gravy train that’s been feeding them all of these years.”

    Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, left, endorses  Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump  Tuesday in Ames, Iowa. (AP/Mary Altaffer)

    Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, left, endorses Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump Tuesday in Ames, Iowa. (AP/Mary Altaffer)

    Palin’s speech tapped into populist anger over the way the U.S. is headed and painted Trump as the right person to disrupt the country’s direction.

    “We are mad, we have been had, and they need to get used to it,” she said. “Yes, the status quo has got to go, otherwise we’re going to just get more of the same.”

    Trump spoke for a while at the outset of the event and was interrupted at one point by protesters, which he said was “the only way they show the crowd.” He called Palin a ”special, special person” and added that he was “so honored” to find out that she planned to endorse him.

    When Palin took the stage, she poked at the media in attendance, telling Trump: “You’re right, look back there in the press box, heads are spinning, media heads are spinning. This is going to be so much fun.”

    Trump has been “really ticking people off” with his stances on issues like immigration and what to do with Muslim refugees, but Palin said that those stances have only caused him to rise in the polls.

    “He’s going rogue left and right, that’s why he’s doing so well.”

    She nodded to the fact that she had endorsed others of the GOP candidates in the past — not naming Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, but lumping him among “some friends” who are also seeking the Republican nomination.

    “[But] only one candidate’s record shows he has mastered the art of the deal,” Palin added.

    She also poked fun at President Barack Obama, borrowing from her 2008 speeches while running for vice president on a ticket with Sen. John McCain, calling Obama a ”weak-kneed capitulator-in-chief” who negotiates with the skill of “a community organizer maybe organizing the neighborhood tea.”

    Palin argued that Trump would be tough when it comes to foreign policy, like negotiating over the U.S. sailors who were temporarily captured by Iran last week.

    “No more pussy-footing around. Our troops deserve the best, we deserve the best,” she said. “Are you ready for a commander in chief who will let our warriors do their job and go kick ISIS’s ass? … Are you ready to make America great again?”

    Trump promised to spend a lot of time in Iowa in the days leading up to the Feb. 1 caucuses.

    “You’re going to get so sick of me,” he said. “You’re going to say, ‘Please tell him to get out of here, tell him to leave.’”

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  • ‘Rest in Peace’: Carson Volunteer Involved in Car Crash Dies of Injuries
    Posted January 19, 2016 at 7:49 pm by Oliver Darcy

    Comments (28)

    A volunteer for the Ben Carson campaign died of his injuries after a car crash in Iowa early Tuesday morning.

    Carson announced he would temporarily suspend his campaign and travel from South Carolina to Omaha to visit the family of 25-year-old Braden Joplin.

    Joplin was involved in the crash with three other campaign volunteers when the van lost control and was hit by another vehicle.

    The other passengers were treated and released, but Joplin’s injuries were more severe. He died after 4:30 p.m. local time, a statement from the hospital said.

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  • New CNN/WMUR Poll Out of New Hampshire Spells Very Bad News for Hillary Clinton
    Posted January 19, 2016 at 6:55 pm by Oliver Darcy

    Comments (102)

    Hillary Clinton is trailing 2016 rival Bernie Sanders by double digits in New Hampshire, according to a new CNN/WMUR poll released Tuesday.

    Of those surveyed, 60 percent said their top choice was Sanders while only 33 percent said they supported Clinton.

    Andrew Burton/Getty Images

    Andrew Burton/Getty Images

    The poll indicates Sanders is surging in New Hampshire as the primary grows closer. Last month, 40 percent of those surveyed said they supported Clinton while 50 percent expressed supported the Vermont senator.

    The poll also found that voters found Clinton to be the least trustworthy. When asked, 55 percent of those surveyed identified the former secretary of state as the “least honest” while only two percent picked Sanders.

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  • Republican-Led Senate Confirms Obama Judge Who Once Attacked Property Rights and Reagan
    Posted January 19, 2016 at 6:41 pm by Fred Lucas

    Comments (127)

    The Senate voted 58-36 to confirm an Obama judicial nominee whose writings as a law student attacked both former President Ronald Reagan and former Chief Justice William Rehnquist, as well as as the concept of property rights.

    Asked about the writings during her confirmation hearing, Minnesota state Supreme Court Justice Wilhelmina Marie Wright, nominated by President Barack Obama to be a federal judge for the U.S. District of Minnesota, said her viewpoints were “inartful” and made before “all of the training and experience that I have now.”

    Senate Judicary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) and ranking member Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT). (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

    Senate Judicary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) and ranking member Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT). (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

    The conservative advocacy group Heritage Action urged Senate Republicans to block the nomination, asserting, “Confirming Justice Wright to a lifetime appointment on the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota is also the wrong response to this President’s recent overreach.”

    Wright participated in writhing a 1989 article in the University of California Los Angeles Law Review that said:

    The practice of American racism is based on two principles: the sanctity of property and the belief in the hierarchy of races. The first of these principles is firmly protected by the words and action of the Constitution; the second is proscribed by the words of the instrument, but not by its effect. History shows that when these two principles are juxtaposed (which happens constantly), property rights are given absolute priority.

    “Modem America has publicly rejected the notion that it is okay to advocate racial supremacy, that is, to argue that the life, liberty, and property of whites are worth more than the life, liberty, and property of blacks,” her article went on to say. “The liberal conception we face today is, however, equally damaging and little discussed: that property is worth more than life or liberty. The fact that whites own the vast majority of what Americans define as property does not usually enter this argument, and it therefore appears non-racist.”

    Hans von Spakovsky, former Federal Election Commission member and former Justice Department attorney, recently criticized the Republican-controled Senate for plans to confirm Wright’s nomination, raising some of her writings in a post on the Conservative Review website.

    The office of Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) did not respond to TheBlaze Tuesday.

    In her writing, Wright also accused Rehnquist and Regan of “aiding white people [who] are running and hiding” from desegregated public schools, the Daily Signal reported.

    “Their mad scramble is aided by a Chief Justice who owned racially restrictive property and a Presidential administration that believes bigotry, poverty, and poor educational opportunities for most public school students are the unavoidable fruits of a ‘thriving’ free market economy,” Wright wrote for the UCLA Law Review.

    The Senate Judiciary Committee approved her nomination in December by a voice vote. Obama nominated her to the federal judgeship in April.

    “I am proud to nominate Justice Wilhelmina Marie Wright to serve on the United States District Court bench,” Obama said after making the nomination. “She has a long and distinguished record of service, and I am confident she will serve on the federal bench with distinction.”

  • Skier Allegedly Pushes Snowboarder Off Chairlift in Colorado: ‘I Honestly Thought I Was Dead’
    Posted January 19, 2016 at 6:20 pm by Carly Hoilman

    Comments (52)

    Skiers and snowboarders often berate each other for hogging the chairlift, moving too fast, moving too slow, tearing up the manicured runs and creating ice patches. The list of grievances is unending. But at the end of the day, they’re all just on the slopes to have a good time, right?

    One perturbed skier decided to take the friendly feud a step further. The skier, a man the Aspen Times described as a “white man in his late 20s or 30s,” was enjoying a quiet morning on the slopes Sunday at Aspen Highlands, Colorado, when a snowboarder sitting next to him on the lift made a snide comment.

    The skier then allegedly pushed the man off the Lodge Peak chair lift. Seth Beckton, the snowboarder who was pushed, told the Aspen Times that he fell 20-25 feet, face-first. Fortunately, Beckton sustained zero injuries as he fell into a “large pocket of snow.”

    Photo credit: Shutterstock

    Photo credit: Shutterstock

    “I honestly thought I was dead,” Beckton, 28, told the Times. “Because I didn’t know where we were (within the lift path). It’s not cool to think anyone would do that.”

    But Beckton wasn’t about to let a little trauma harsh his mellow. Though the incident occurred around 9:30 a.m., Beckton, an Aspen native, didn’t report it until hours later.

    Though he told the Times that he was a little shaken by the incident at first, Beckton didn’t realize the seriousness of it all until he recounted the story to a few friends.

    “I should have been more aggressive in reporting it,” Beckton said Monday. “What if he does it to somebody else?”

    Jeff Hanle, spokesman for Aspen Skiing Co., told the Times Monday that if Beckton had reported the incident earlier, ski patrol and other officials could have provided aid in finding the skier. The company still plans to conduct a full investigation and reach out to witnesses who might help them track down the skier, he said.

    “This is not the kind of behavior we want on our mountain,” Hanle said. “We will do our best to find the person.”

    Hanle spoke to Beckton Monday and said he had no doubt the incident actually happened. But what sort of comment would lead to such aggression?

    According to Beckton, he and the skier barely spoke on the way up the mountain, though the man commented on Beckton’s snow sport of choice as soon as they got on the lift, saying, “Oh, you’re a snowboarder, huh?”

    As the two approached the top of the lift at around 9:30 a.m., the men began discussing the 5 to 6 inches of powdery snow on the ground, Beckton said. Beckton then made a comment about it being easier to get shots of powder in the face on skis as opposed to a snowboard.

    According to Beckton, the skier then turned to him and said, “Are you making fun of me?”

    Beckton recalled being “taken aback” by the question, unsure of how to interpret it because the man’s face was obstructed by a helmet and goggles.

    “I thought it was kind of funny,” Beckton said. “I thought he might be joking. I wasn’t trying to offend anyone. I didn’t even think the comment was offensive.”

    But just to keep what he had perceived as friendly banter going, Beckton playfully replied, “Not really — but maybe.”

    “If you think that’s funny,” the skier said, “do you think this is funny?”

    The man then “grabbed me and pushed and pulled me off the chair,” Beckton recalled. A third man was riding with them on the chair, he said, though he wasn’t sure if the man was a friend of the skier or not.

    The scuffle occurred near the lift’s last tower, which Beckton said is about 50 to 100 feet from the top. The lift operator stopped the chair, but not soon enough — the skier was able to get off the lift and disappear.

    Beckton sat in the mound of snow for a moment, still in disbelief.

    “I was like, ‘Was that a joke? Did that really happen?’” he said.

    Beckton said that when he emerged from the spot where he’d fallen, he stood out on the same ski run, waiting to confront the man but never saw him again.

    “Because I wasn’t hurt, I wasn’t super-outraged,” he said. “I didn’t want to let it ruin my day. I decided to continue on my way.”

    Beckton said he now wishes he’d notified ski patrol early, giving them an opportunity to find the man who pushed him. Hanle said that would have been relatively easy.

    “I think the guy was maybe on drugs,” Beckton said. “Maybe he was partying the night before and maybe he was tweaking out on something and he did that.”

    Deputy Alex Burchetta, director of operations for the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, told the Aspen Times that his agency is looking into the event. Deputies are working with officials at Aspen Highlands and reviewing mountain surveillance video taken Sunday, he said.

    As of Monday, Beckton had yet to file a report with the Sheriff’s Office, Burchetta said, though the deputy personally encouraged him to do so.

    “I’m not sure ‘egregious’ is the word,” Burchetta said, sharing that he has been skiing since the age of 2 and had never seen anyone thrown off a lift. “It’s one of those things that stands out in your mind.”

    (H/T: Aspen Times)

  • SHOT Show Demo: A Survival Tool That Allows You to Start a Fire Under Even the Wettest, Coldest Conditions
    Posted January 19, 2016 at 6:07 pm by Jason Howerton

    Comments (98)

    Many people take pride in being prepared to survive in any unforeseen situation — and one of the most important things to have in a true survival scenario is the ability to create a fire. If you’re only prepared to conjure the flames under dry conditions, you are asking for trouble.

    Roland Villarreal, owner of Survivor Firestarters, conducted a live demo for TheBlaze during SHOT Show at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

    “If you can get a spark flint into anything dry, you’ve got a fire,” he explained. “Now, if it’s wet or raining outside, your matches or lighters won’t work.”

    Villarreal said the Survivor Firestarter is waterproof, but also includes another tool ensuring the ability to start a fire under wet conditions.

    “If you turn it over, that silver side is a solid bar of magnesium,” he said. “This is a metal they use for underwater welding on submarines, ships and oil rigs. It doesn’t matter if it gets wet once it’s started, it’ll burn under water.”



    Magnesium also runs at over “5000 degrees white hot,” he added.

    The Survivor Firestarter also includes a glow-in-the-dark compass, thermometer and a signal mirror to signal aircraft.

    Watch the cool SHOT Show demo below:

  • College Student Who Grew Up With 28 Siblings Shares Her Views on Faith, Family and Motherhood
    Posted January 19, 2016 at 6:05 pm by Carly Hoilman

    Comments (32)

    Tessa Piety, 22, is one of 29 children. That’s no mistake. Her parents had two children of their own and decided to adopt 27 more.

    In a conversation with TheBlaze, Tessa, who was adopted, shared her views on family, motherhood and faith — which began with her parents, both 69, who always knew that they wanted a big family.

    “My mom read a book called ‘The Family That Nobody Wanted’ when she was about 13, and my dad felt called by God at an early age to have a large family,” Tessa explained.

    Her parents adopted their first child, Rosalind, who is biracial, as a baby while it was still illegal in Tennessee for white parents to adopt black children.

    Tessa, who is black, was also adopted as a baby, and she is one of two Piety children who has had the chance to live with each child at some point in time — having lived with up to 22 siblings at once.

    Right now, she lives with 12 siblings when she is home from Berry College. The rest of the children are grown up and living on their own. Rosalind, the first Piety “kid,” is now 40 and married with a daughter Tessa’s age. In fact, Tessa and her niece went to high school together and attended the same college their freshman year.

    Tessa Piety, 22. Photo by Carly Hoilman

    Tessa Piety (Carly Hoilman/TheBlaze)

    Recalling how the older siblings always had a fair amount of responsibility in taking care of the younger kids, she said, “We leaned on each other a lot,” but added that “there was always someone to play with.”

    With such a large family, there were the inevitable hard times that one might imagine. Tessa recounted several occasions when the family didn’t know where the next meal was going to come from, but, she noted, “We never went hungry for a meal.”

    The aptly named Piety family relied on God’s provision during times of struggle. “Life doesn’t shield you from pain,” Tessa said. “But it’s been really cool to see God work through the different siblings that I have.”

    Many of the Piety children have special needs, but that didn’t stand of the way of close-knit family bonds.

    Tessa said that her sister Katie, who is severely disabled, is one of her best friends. “She’s 34, and the doctors said that she would never walk or talk or anything, and she does more than that,” she explained. “So she is definitely an inspiration to me.”

    And Tessa’s sister Carey has cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair. Tessa’s oldest sibling, Charles, 50, is also mentally challenged and will live at home for the rest of his life. He loves sports and cheers for the University of Tennessee Lady Vols basketball team — the team his mother used to play for.

    Carey and Charles have motivated Tessa, a competitive soccer player who has torn her ACL five times, to push through the pain and embrace her physical gifts when she wanted to quit. Tessa recalled a specific instance that affected her particularly deeply: “I was pretty young — like 11 — when Carey’s birthday came around, and she was crying and very upset,” Tessa explained. “And we had a hard time trying to figure out why she was upset because it can be hard to understand someone who has cerebral palsy.”

    Eventually, Tessa’s parents figured out that the reason Carey was upset was because she had prayed that God would enable her to walk.

    “And that hasn’t been God’s plan for her,” Tessa said. “But she has been inspirational in the way that she never gives up and always gives her all, so just seeing that drive has been an inspiration for me to live my life.”

    Tessa (center left) and 10 of her 28 siblings this past Christmas. Image via Facebook

    Tessa, center left, and 10 of her 28 siblings at Christmas. (Image via Facebook)

    In addition to the four siblings who have pronounced mental and physical difficulties, Tessa mentioned that several others were recently found to have Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which has led to medical and learning complications later in life.

    Tessa said she always reminds herself that when things get rough, they “can always get worse.”

    Tessa’s parents had no formal care taking experience prior to adopting their first chid. She shared that when they first started adopting, their five-bedroom house was not even handicap accessible.

    “Over the years, they’ve been able to figure it out,” she said.

    The Tennessee farmhouse that the Piety family currently lives in is handicapped-accessible. Tessa’s parents took on the project with the intention of hosting various camps and retreats on their property for hundreds of special needs children.

    Tessa shared what she called a “fun fact” about her family: They have never accepted any government aid. “I think it’s pretty cool because they’ve been able to see God’s provision,” she said. “They always trusted and believed that God had put those children in our family for a reason.”

    And that faith has had a major impact on her views of family: Though she has met her biological mother and has a relationship with her, Tessa is sure to point out that she is a member of the Piety family.

    “I greatly respect and appreciate that my birth mom had me and chose to go through my birth, but my adoptive parents are my parents,” she said. Tessa’s birth mother has six other children of her own, and Tessa has had the chance to meet them, too.

    The Pietys’ faith and love have also formed Tessa’s views on motherhood as something biological and spiritual.

    “I really want to be a mom,” she said. “And I honestly at this point don’t know how God will bring me the children. I would love to get pregnant and have a child, but there is such a need for children to be adopted that I am obviously not opposed to that.”

    Tessa said that even if she is unable to have her own children, she would still like to adopt several children and “walk in life” with younger women through counseling and mentorship. She currently mentors three girls living in the inner city of Knoxville, Tennessee.

    “It’s been a challenge getting them to trust and see that even though I don’t live in the inner city and didn’t grow up in that atmosphere, I still understand where they’re coming from,” she said. “But I feel like we’ve broken down that barrier in the past year.”

    Tessa said the most rewarding part of the two-year mentorship has been being able to see her words take shape in the lives of those girls.

    “I realize that you can have children yourself, which I want to do,” Tessa explained. “But there is something to be said about spiritually caring for children. I think that’s a really cool thing to have the opportunity to do.”

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