Video Captures the Moment a Man Happens to See an Avalanche Engulf His Brother — and His Rush to Save HimPosted December 25, 2013 at 10:36 am by Jonathon M. Seidl
Davis and Edwin LaMair, brothers, set out Sunday to take part in an exhilarating back-country ski trip. Little did they know it would almost cost one of them their life — and that it would all be caught on camera.
The pair was skiing in the same area but on separate slopes around the Vail, Colo., area. Davis had his helmet camera recording as he tackled a slope with two other skiers. At one point, he paused as the mountain posed a tough challenge. But as he sat there, he noticed something in the distance: an avalanche. Then within seconds, terror struck: It wasn’t just any avalanche — it was an avalanche that was engulfing his brother.
“Holy sh**!” he says as the realization hits him. “That’s Edward and Edwin.”
That’s when the obstacle that had given him pause became a non-issue and he jumped into action.
“Yo, I’m droppin’, I’m droppin’,” he can be heard saying, indicating that he was going to ski down the large drop-off in front of him to go rescue his brother.
The video then shows him racing down the mountain and over to the neighboring slope. When he gets there, miraculously, his brother’s head is just peaking above the snow. Davis begins frantically digging him out:
“Once I started sliding headfirst down the hill it sunk in that I was in a big avalanche, and this was really happening, and I might die,” Edwin told ABC News. “I was trying to swim as hard as I could to get to the top. I was immensely relieved when I realized that my face was above the surface, and I could breathe.”
According to KMGH-TV, Edwin is lucky to have Davis. Because the avalanche occurred just before dark, the news station quotes an expert as saying, the ski patrol would not have been able to come to their rescue.
Watch the footage below:
U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan Hit by ‘Indirect Fire’Posted December 25, 2013 at 10:15 am by Associated Press
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The U.S. Embassy in Kabul was hit by indirect fire before dawn on Christmas Day but no Americans were hurt, as attacks elsewhere in Afghanistan killed at least six people Wednesday, officials said.
Two rounds struck the sprawling embassy compound but it was not immediately clear which part of the complex, and a U.S. Embassy official said the incident was under investigation.
“At approximately 6:40 local time in Kabul, approximately two rounds of indirect fire impacted the U.S. Embassy compound,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations. “All Americans are accounted for and no injuries were sustained.”
Indirect fire can refer to either mortars or rockets.
The Taliban promptly claimed they fired four rockets at the American Embassy on Wednesday and said they inflicted heavy casualties. But the insurgents often exaggerate their claims.
Elsewhere, an Afghan official said a bicycle bomb was remotely detonated in front of a restaurant at a bazaar in Puli Alam, the capital of Logar province, 60 kilometers (37 miles) east of Kabul, killing six people and wounding 13.
Two of the killed were policemen and four were civilians, said Abdul Wali Tofan, the deputy police chief in Logar province. He said the attack also wounded 13 civilians, including several children.
Earlier in the day, a roadside bombing in eastern Kabul wounded three Afghan policemen. Kabul police chief, Mohammad Zahir, said one suspect was arrested over that attack.
Police later uncovered an unexploded bomb in the same area and successfully neutralized it, Zahri said.
Afghan insurgents have increased attacks in recent months, intensifying a campaign to regain territory as foreign forces draw down ahead of full withdrawal at the end of 2014.
Pop Star Who’s Just 19 Announces He’s ‘Retiring’Posted December 25, 2013 at 9:28 am by Madeleine Morgenstern
Could Justin Bieber be hanging up his clip-on microphone for good?
The 19-year-old Canadian pop megastar tweeted Tuesday night that he’s “officially retiring,” surely sending legions of “Beliebers” into a panic.
But don’t get too worked up just yet — Bieber also tweeted to his fans, “I’m never leaving you” and “being a Belieber is a lifestyle.”
Bieber also shared a Christmas message, along with the vow, “I’M HERE FOREVER.”
Beiber’s Twitter pronouncement comes after he also told a Los Angeles radio station last week that he was leaving the music business.
“Um, I’m actually retiring, man” Bieber said when asked about the future of his career.
E! Online reported last week that a source said, “Of course it’s not true.”
“The Biebs” has had a tumultuous year, including being accused of attacking a neighbor, having marijuana found on his tour bus, and getting caught on video urinating into a mop bucket and yelling “f*** Bill Clinton!”
Bomb Attacks on Christians Kill 37 in Baghdad on ChristmasPosted December 25, 2013 at 8:32 am by Madeleine Morgenstern
Story by the Associated Press/curated by Madeleine Morgenstern
BAGHDAD (AP) — Militants in Iraq targeted Christians in two separate bomb attacks in Baghdad on Wednesday, killing at least 37 people, officials said.
In one attack, a car bomb went off near a church during Christmas Mass in the capital’s southern Dora neighborhood, killing at least 26 people and wounding 38, a police officer said.
A little bit earlier, a bomb ripped through an outdoor market in the nearby Christian section of Athorien, killing 11 people and wounding 21, the officer added.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks, but Iraq’s dwindling Christian community, which is estimated to number about 400,000 to 600,000 people, has often been targeted by al-Qaida and other insurgents who see the Christians as unbelievers.
Along with Christians, other targets include civilians in restaurants, cafes or crowded public areas, as well as Shiites and also members of the Iraqi security forces, who are targeted in an attempt to undermine confidence in the Shiite-led government and stir up Iraq’s already simmering sectarian tensions.
A medical official confirmed the casualty figures. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to talk to the media.
Wednesday’s bombings came amid a massive military operation in Iraq’s western desert as authorities try to hunt down insurgents who have stepped up attacks across Iraq in the past months, sending violence to levels not seen since 2008.
The Christmas Day attacks brought the total number of people killed so far this month in Iraq to 441. According to U.N. estimates, more than 8,000 people have been killed since the start of the year.
McDonald’s Actually Warns Employees of Fast Food’s Unhealthy Side EffectsPosted December 25, 2013 at 8:14 am by Oliver Darcy
A post on the McDonald’s employee resource website appears to ironically discourage individuals from consuming fast food, citing health reasons.
“Fast foods are quick, reasonably priced, and readily available alternatives to home cooking. While convenient and economical for a busy lifestyle, fast foods are typically high in calories, fat, saturated fat, sugar, and salt and may put people at risk for becoming overweight,” reads one post on the site, according to CNBC.
One post, which labels a cheeseburger and fries as an “unhealthy choice,” says “although not impossible it is more of a challenge to eat healthy when going to a fast food place.”
McDonald’s, however, defended the posts Monday and said it was taken out of context.
“Portions of this website continue to be taken entirelyout of context,” McDonald’s said in a statement, according to CNBC. “This website provides useful information from respected third-parties about many topics, among them health and wellness. It also includes information from experts about healthy eating and making balanced choices. McDonald’s agrees with this advice.”
Follow Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) on Twitter
See the Note President Obama Wrote to a Little Girl When She Asked for His SignaturePosted December 25, 2013 at 8:10 am by Jonathon M. Seidl
Kyrstin Lavelle, 10, got a personalized autograph not many get on Tuesday. While at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe, she snagged the John Hancock of the president.
“I’m going to text my friends back home,” Kyrstin, from Toronto, told the Associated Press.
But the president didn’t just give her a signature when she asked for one, he also gave her an inspirational message.
“To Kyrstin– Dream big dreams!” it said:
Kyrstin also gave the president a flower, which he said he would pass on to first lady Michelle Obama.
Egypt’s Interim Government Blames Muslim Brotherhood for Deadly Car BombingPosted December 25, 2013 at 8:00 am by Erica Ritz
Story by the Associated Press/Curated by Erica Ritz
CAIRO (AP) — A suicide car bomber is suspected to have been behind the deadly explosion that targeted police headquarters in a Nile Delta city, an Egyptian security official said Wednesday as the death toll from the attack the previous day rose to 16.
The explosion in Mansoura, 110 kilometers (70 miles) north of Cairo, was the deadliest bombing yet in a months-long wave of violence blamed on Islamic militants.
The blast was so powerful, it collapsed an entire section and side wall of the five-floor building, incinerating dozens of cars outside and damaging several nearby buildings. More than 100 people were wounded.
Although there was no immediate claim of responsibility, hours after Tuesday’s blast Egypt’s interim government blamed the Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s largest Islamist group — and the organization from which ousted President Mohammed Morsi hails. The attack took place as top security officials were meeting in the Mansoura headquarters to work out arrangements for the Jan. 14-15 constitutional referendum.
The vote is a key step in the country’s political transition after the military’s ouster of Morsi in July, but it has further stoked political tensions, with Morsi’s Brotherhood protesting against the new charter. His group has also staged continued protests since the July coup, demanding Morsi’s release from jail and reinstatement.
According to the security official, the investigation into the Mansoura attack has shown that a bomber drove a pickup truck laden with explosives close to the police headquarters, then detonated it.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the investigation with the media, provided no further details on the suspected suicide bomber.
But he said that Cairo airport authorities arrested a Brotherhood member late Tuesday on suspicions that he was linked to the attack.
The suspect — identified as 22-year-old Adel Younis Rashid who runs a computer shop in Mansoura — was taken into custody as he was trying to fly to Turkey with his mother and a friend.
The suspect is the son of a leading Brotherhood member and former lawmaker from Mansoura, the official said, adding that authorities have also confiscated Rashid’s computers and telephones.
Earlier, senior Egyptian military and security officials said the Mansoura attack carried the fingerprints of Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, or the Champions of Jerusalem, which has emerged as the main Sinai-based militant group that has staged attacks against Egyptian troops.
The group has claimed most of the major attacks in the volatile Sinai Peninsula and the Suez Canal-area cities recent months, as well as a failed attempt to assassinate the interior minister in Cairo in September.
In one of its video messages posted online in October, the group said it was retaliating for the security forces’ ruthless attacks on Islamists, a reference to the crackdown on Brotherhood members and Morsi’s supporters, which has claimed hundreds of lives.
On Monday, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis came out with a message threatening more attacks against Egyptian troops, saying it considers them to be infidels because they answer to the secular-leaning military-backed government.
Also Wednesday, Egyptian state TV reported that of the wounded from the Mansoura bombing had died, bringing the total death toll to 15.
Other Must-Read Stories:
- Video: Egyptian Child Takes to the Streets to Discover What His Compatriots Know About the Holocaust
- ‘They’re Shooting Fireworks at Us!’: American in Egypt Speaks to TheBlaze After Posting Stunning Video of Violence in the Streets
- Glenn Beck Releases Graphic Video Juxtaposing Media, Obama Administration’s Optimism on Egypt with Horrifying Reality
- Reported List of Churches and Christian Institutions Attacked in Egypt Since Wednesday Will Astonish You
- TheBlaze’s Buck Sexton Slams Absolute ‘Counterterrorism Catastrophe’ That You May Not Have Heard About
Get Ready for a Holiday Treat Straight From the Glenn Beck Recipe BoxPosted December 25, 2013 at 7:43 am by Liz Klimas
This story first appeared on TheBlaze Jan. 1, 2012. Slight modifications were made to the original post. Featured image via Shutterstock.
Cozying up with a steaming mug of hot chocolate is a holiday tradition in the Beck household, as Glenn Beck himself has mentioned in the past. But be forewarned, Beck’s hot chocolate is not for the faint of heart — or the lactose intolerant.
Here’s the recipe:
Glenn’s Coma Hot Chocolate
5 pints of LIGHT CREAM or 1/2 & 1/2.
12 Hershey candy bars.
Slowly heat cream on stove, break candy bars in small pieces and slowly add to warm cream. Stir until melted candy is fully mixed.
Serve ASAP and try not to go into a coma.
WARNING: DO NOT EAT WITH TURKEY OR YOU MAY NEVER WAKE UP
Find more Beck family recipes, including Grandma Janssen’s sugar cookies and Beck’s butternut squash soup, over at GlennBeck.com.
How To Take Unforgettable Pictures This ChristmasPosted December 25, 2013 at 7:04 am by Erica Ritz
George Lange, co-author of The Unforgettable Photograph: 228 Ideas, Tips, and Secrets for Taking the Best Pictures of Your Life, has had success few photographers can hope to achieve. He has worked with countless celebrities and politicians, and his work has appeared in Esquire, GQ, the New York Times, and more.
And the way this famed photographer sees it, the last thing we should be doing this holiday season is trying to take the “perfect” photograph.
“The least interesting picture is the person standing there smiling, staring at the camera – it’s the least revealing,” Lange told CBS This Morning. “You want to show what makes us human, what makes us special. And we’re trying to take pictures of what makes our lives amazing.”
So what can we do instead? Many of us are so accustomed to the “say cheese” photograph that we shy away from anything else.
“We are always trying to set up this perfect picture, and meanwhile all the really interesting pictures are kind of orbiting around that … These are the really special moments,” Lange remarked. “This is what’s never going to happen again.”
Examples of the “orbiting” image could include a child gleefully laughing as a dog licks his face, and Lange says the result is far more moving than the standard “stand and smile” picture.
But what can be done about family photos? Instances where the photographer must capture everyone together, at the same time?
“I move in on the group and I’ll do small pieces of the group, and then maybe step back and do the group,” Lange suggested. “It makes them more comfortable, and those little pictures on the inside are more intimate. And oftentimes, when people are getting ready for a group shot or leaving a group shot, (there are) more interesting interactions going on than when they’re actually posing for the camera…”
And for those who insist on taking photos of their food, Lange said he is “less interested in what it looks like” than what it actually tastes like.
“I took a picture the other night, we had profiteroles downtown in New York, and afterwards there was all this chocolate sauce around on the spoon,” he remarked. “I photographed that rather than this perfect dessert that got delivered. You could tell what the chocolate tasted like.”
The photographer concluded his CBS interview with a word on lighting. Many of us think we need to use a camera’s flash to capture an image in its entirety, but Lange said you should shy away from using the flash unless you have to.
“We have amazing light going on in our houses,” he said. All we have to do is be aware of it.
Watch Lange’s complete interview with CBS This Morning, below:
In case Lange’s name sounds familiar, Glenn Beck is one of the photographer’s many clients, and Beck has often spoken about how much respect he has for the man despite their drastically different political beliefs.
Lange was recently interviewed about the subject, and explained how the he and Beck “don’t see each other in terms of labels—Liberal, Conservative, Republican, Democrat. We find other ways in.”
“We talk about being parents a lot,” Lange told Mark St. Amant at The Good Men Project. “We talk about love, which is the most important thing to me of all. All of my work is about loving my subjects, trying to show what makes them so special, trying to find that place that we all connect.”
“…Our relationship is all about trust,” Lange continued. “It’s about the relationship that developed between two men who could not be more opposite in their political beliefs. Two men who found an incredible bond both creatively and personally as friends despite their differences. It’s a story I’m extremely proud of and infinitely surprised by.”
Front page image courtesy of Shutterstock.
Other Must-Read Stories:
- Glenn Beck Makes a Very Exciting Offer to the Cast of ‘Duck Dynasty’
- Mike Rowe on How Many Are Following the ‘Worst Advice in the History of the World’
- Meet the Photo Whiz Who Takes All Those Wild Pics of Glenn
- Glenn Beck Reveals How He Offered to Change His Big Event at Cowboys Stadium Entirely if This One Person Would Have Agreed to Come Speak
- Dr. Benjamin Carson Reveals Unexpected Childhood Hobby That Helped Lift Him Out of Poverty
See the Ga. Christmas Display That Resulted in a 911 CallPosted December 24, 2013 at 11:59 pm by Associated Press
BERKELEY LAKE, Ga. (AP) — A metro Atlanta homeowner says he hopes he didn’t offend anyone by his Christmas decoration of a mannequin with outstretched arms entangled in a string of Christmas lights and clinging to a ledge that prompted an emergency response to his house.
Bubba Murphy Lake told WSB-TV (http://bit.ly/1boNJYg ) that someone passing the house in Berkeley Lake with their children thought the display looked so realistic that they called 911. He says fire officials told him to take the display down – at least temporarily. The display also had a ladder toppled over in the front yard.
Murphy says homeowners in his Cobb County neighborhood go all out with their Christmas displays every year.
Berkeley Lake is about 22 miles northeast of downtown Atlanta.
Bizarre Paths to Nowhere Found When an Israeli Television Program Invites Viewers to Share Strange Street SightingsPosted December 24, 2013 at 11:00 pm by Sharona Schwartz
The Israeli television program Tzinor Layla (Night Tube) asked viewers to share photos of the most bizarre construction they could find in their towns. Find they did, and the photos they shared will inspire the age-old question, “What were they thinking?”
Here are some examples of the paths to nowhere, such as the staircase that leads to a ceiling at a Haifa school:
Kids would be advised not to travel too fast down the yellow slide in this street-side playground. Notice the Jerusalem light rail passing by in the background:
Bikers were no doubt happy the Holon municipality painted a clearly-marked bike path for their benefit. Then again, they might not be too psyched to be led smack into a tree.
“Right to the tree. It’s suggested to hug it with open arms,” commented former Tel Aviv Chief City Engineer Yisrael Gudovich who was invited to the show to discuss the strange sightings.
Planners in Jerusalem generously constructed a wheelchair ramp, only it’s too narrow for an actual wheelchair to pass through. “I see a ramp for a disabled person who won’t go far,” Guy Lerer, the host of Channel 10’s Tzinor Layla, said.
Here’s another of the unusual photos, which like the others TheBlaze cannot verify. Someone thought it would be funny to plant a no-entry sign inside the Mediterranean Sea near the shoreline of Acre in northern Israel.
Then there was the strangely-placed crosswalk…painted between two fences.
This sign was seen at an entrance to a parking lot in another Tel Aviv suburb, Ramat Gan, which says pedestrians are required to walk on sidewalk. Only problem is you’d have to be pretty skinny to find room on the sidewalk the width of a balance beam. Speaking of balance beam, it might be easier to walk on the red and white railing.
“That’s not a mistake. That’s covering their a**,” said former city engineer Gudovich.
Palestinian President Insists Jesus Was PalestinianPosted December 24, 2013 at 10:00 pm by Sharona Schwartz
Every Christmas in recent years, at least one senior Palestinian official comes out and says Jesus was a Palestinian. This year is no exception, with the claim coming from the top leader himself, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. It is widely believed, according to the scriptures and historians, that Jesus was Jewish.
“In Bethlehem, more than 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ was born, a Palestinian messenger who would become a guiding light for millions around the world,” Abbas said in his Christmas message. “As we Palestinians strive for our freedom two millennia later, we do our best to follow his example.”
The Palestinian leader also took the opportunity to bash Israel, writing “our hearts and prayers will be with the millions who are being denied their right to worship in their homeland. We are thinking of our people in Gaza, trapped under siege, and of those who are prevented from worshiping in Bethlehem.”
“Our prayers,” he added, “are with the churches and mosques of Jerusalem which remind the world of the Arab identity of our occupied capital.”
The Jerusalem Post noted that Abbas did not mention “the Islamization of Gaza, or that the Christian population there fell from some 3,000 in 2007 – soon after Hamas took over – to about 1,500 now.”
Using the holiday to slam Israel was “not exactly in the spirit of Christmas,” Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told The Times of Israel. “Maybe he needs a hug from Santa?”
“He should have read the gospel before uttering such offensive nonsense, but we will forgive him because he doesn’t know what he’s doing,” Palmor said, calling Abbas’s statement is an “outrageous rewriting of Christian history.”
A Christmas video greeting posted this week from the Palestine Liberation Organization repeats the Jesus-was-Palestinian meme.
“Every Christmas Palestine celebrates the birth of one of its own, Jesus Christ,” said the description of the video on YouTube.
In the animated video, Jews and Israelis are portrayed as militant, with rifles and attack dogs, while a cutout figure of what appears to be the pope riding a horse-drawn chariot is blocked by the security barrier that separates parts of the West Bank from Israel.
Refuting the imagery presented in the video, the website Honest Reporting wrote: “And what would happen today if a Jewish boy like Jesus decided to enter Palestinian-controlled areas? Most likely he’d have to lead his donkey through a hail of stones being thrown at him on the road.”
Scandal-Scarred Ex-NY Gov. Spitzer’s Marriage OverPosted December 24, 2013 at 9:19 pm by Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — A former New York governor who quit in a prostitution scandal says his marriage of more than two decades is over.
Eliot Spitzer and wife Silda Wall Spitzer made the announcement Tuesday. They say in a statement they regret that their marital relationship has come to an end.
The Spitzers married in 1987 and have three grown children but have been living apart for months.
She supported his rise from state attorney general to governor. She stood by his side in 2008 when he resigned after admitting he paid for sex with prostitutes.
He attempted a political comeback this year by running for New York City comptroller but lost in the Democratic primary.
Firefighter Pulls Dying Woman From Horrific Christmas Eve Car Crash – Then His Life Was Changed ForeverPosted December 24, 2013 at 8:55 pm by Jason Howerton
Steve Whitcomb, a New Hampshire firefighter, responded to a horrific Christmas eve car crash on Tuesday, pulling a dying woman from the wreckage. His worst nightmare became a reality as he realized the victim was his own daughter.
Katie Hamilton, a 30-year-old mother of three, died after a crash forced her SUV into oncoming traffic, causing a head-on collision with her vehicle, according to police. A total of three cars were reportedly involved in the deadly accident.
In a tragic twist of fate, it was Whitcomb who was one of the first responders to the accident that killed his own daughter. He reportedly owns a heating and cooling company and works as a volunteer firefighter in his spare time.
The Daily Mail has more details on the accident:
Greg Cullen, 31, of Milford, New Hampshire first rear-ended Hamilton’s Ford Explorer SUV.
Hamilton had been either stopped or was slowing down to turn left, reports the Nashua Telegraph, when Cullen’s Toyota pickup smashed into her.
That’s when James Ciprotti, 37, of Weare, New Hampshire, smashed into Hamilton head-on in his Ford F-250.
Cullen and Ciprotti were not injured in the accident, though they received medical evaluations. Hamilton was declared dead at the scene of the accident.
Police are investigating the accident, however, speeding or alcohol are not believed to be factors in the crash.
The crash reportedly occurred just a few hundred feet from the family home where she grew up. Whitcomb was still trying to come to terms with the loss of his youngest daughter hours after the crash.
“You grieve and then you try to put it all back together,” he told the Nashua Telegraph.
Mailing a Letter Is About to Get More ExpensivePosted December 24, 2013 at 8:45 pm by Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — Mailing a letter is about to get a little more expensive.
Regulators on Tuesday approved a temporary price hike of 3 cents for a first-class stamp, bringing the charge to 49 cents a letter in an effort to help the Postal Service recover from severe mail decreases brought on by the 2008 economic downturn.
Many consumers won’t feel the price increase immediately. Forever stamps, good for first-class postage whatever the future rate, can be purchased at the lower price until the new rate is effective Jan. 26.
The higher rate will last no more than two years, allowing the Postal Service to recoup $2.8 billion in losses. By a 2-1 vote, the independent Postal Regulatory Commission rejected a request to make the price hike permanent, though inflation over the next 24 months may make it so.
The surcharge “will last just long enough to recover the loss,” Commission Chairman Ruth Y. Goldway said.
Bulk mail, periodicals and package service rates will rise 6 percent, a decision that drew immediate consternation from the mail industry. Its groups have opposed any price increase beyond the current 1.7 percent rate of inflation, saying charities using mass mailings and bookstores competing with online retailer Amazon would be among those who suffer. Greeting card companies also have criticized the plans.
“This is a counterproductive decision,” said Mary G. Berner, president of the Association of Magazine Media. “It will drive more customers away from using the Postal Service and will have ripple effects through our economy – hurting consumers, forcing layoffs and impacting businesses.”
Berner said her organization will consider appealing the decision before the U.S. Court of Appeals.
For consumers who have cut back on their use of mail for correspondence, the rate increase may have little impact on their pocketbooks.
“I don’t know a whole lot of people who truly, with the exception of packages, really use snail mail anymore,” said Kristin Johnson, a Green Bay, Wis., resident who was shopping in downtown Anchorage, Alaska, while visiting relatives and friends. “It’s just so rare that I actually mail anything at this point.”
The Postal Service is an independent agency that does not depend on tax money for its operations but is subject to congressional control. Under federal law, it can’t raise prices more than the rate of inflation without approval from the commission.
The service says it lost $5 billion in the last fiscal year and has been trying to get Congress to pass legislation to help with its financial woes, including an end to Saturday mail delivery and reduced payments on retiree health benefits.
The figures through Sept. 30 were actually an improvement for the agency from a $15.9 billion loss in 2012.
The post office has struggled for years with declining mail volume as a result of growing Internet use and a 2006 congressional requirement that it make annual $5.6 billion payments to cover expected health care costs for future retirees. It has defaulted on three of those payments.
The regulators Tuesday stopped short of making the price increases permanent, saying the Postal Service had conflated losses it suffered as a result of Internet competition with business lost because of the Great Recession. They ordered the agency to develop a plan to phase out the higher rates once the lost revenue is recouped.
It’s unclear where that would take rates for first-class postage in 2016. The regular, inflation-adjusted price would have been 47 cents next year. If inflation rates average 2 percent over the next two years, regulators could deem 49 cents an acceptable price going forward.
The Postal Service has only twice lowered the price of a stamp: in the mid-19th century from 3 cents to 2 cents, and again after the end of World War I. In neither case was the higher price the result of a temporary authorization.
The new price of a postcard stamp, raised by a penny to 34 cents in November, also is effective next month.
The last price increase for stamps was in January, when the cost of sending a letter rose by a penny to 46 cents. A post card also increased by one cent to 33 cents.
Man Says His Creative Twist on the Traditional Christmas Tree Will Help People Focus More on JesusPosted December 24, 2013 at 8:00 pm by Billy Hallowell
Christians believe Jesus is the reason for the holiday season, which is the exact sentiment that led Darren Howard to launch his “CROSSmas Tree” initiative.
Rather than using a traditional Christmas spruce, Howard is hoping people instead join him in purchasing and putting up large artificial crosses.
These faux-trees have lights, ornaments — all of the time-honored trimmings — but CROSSmas Trees differ in one key way when compared to the Christmas trees that many Americans have in their homes: they’re shaped like Christian crosses.
According to a Kickstarter campaign Howard launched to garner support for the project, he created the alternative product in an effort to change “the shape of Christmas.”
Watch an explanation of the tree below:
“We need something that will bring people’s attention back to the true meaning of Christmas,” reads an official description. “Something visual that will help center the focus of the season on our Savior’s birth, why He was born, and encouraging us to be more Christ-like! That something is the CROSSmas Tree.”
Howard told TheBlaze that he came up with the idea for CROSSmas Trees two years ago when he realized that he didn’t have anything visual in his home to help him focus on the real meaning of Christmas.
“One day when I was watching TV, I looked over at my tree and wonder if there was a way to change it so that it would better help me to reflect on why I celebrate Christmas,” he said. “The reason (Jesus) was born was to die for our sins. If we don’t keep that in perspective during Christmas all we are celebrating is the birth of a baby not a Savior.”
It wasn’t until one year later that Howard, after a minor health scare that left him with extra time on his hands, finally decided to make the CROSSmas Tree a reality. He put up his first CROSSmas Tree last year and family and friends quickly took notice.
“I started getting a lot of comments … on how nice it looked, and was asked how much I saved by making it myself,” he said. “I thought surely an idea like this has to exist already, so I did some digging on the internet and found that there was nothing out there like this.”
While others had tried before, Howard said their designs weren’t necessarily safe for homes with children — or they were simply incomplete.
“It seemed that God had tasked me with this creation for a reason, and I decided this was something that I wanted to help make available to others,” he added.
Howard heralded his product as being smaller than a Christmas tree, not blocking the television as many spruces do — and fitting snugly against the wall, if one so chooses to display it that way.
The CROSSmas Tree is currently in its infancy, with the inventor hoping to make it a more mainstream product in the near future.
The current goal is to raise $40,000 on Kickstarter, so that the first batch of CROSSmas Trees can be produced for next year. The trees are currently on sale for $130.00.
“It seems we are in need of a fresh change to Christmas — one that will not only help us to remember why we celebrate Christ’s birth, but will remind us of the love and selflessness that we need to be reflecting to those around us, during this season,” he added. “Perhaps The CROSSmas Tree can be that change.”
Find out more about the CROSSmas Tree here.
Featured image via Darren Howard
Sisters Accused ‘Cowardly Senseless Act’ of Violence Against Elderly WomanPosted December 24, 2013 at 7:30 pm by Oliver Darcy
Two Massachusetts sisters appeared in court Monday for allegedly assaulting and robbing an elderly woman.
Lizette Nevarez, 47, and Anna Nevarez, 40, are accused of pushing an 81-year-old woman to the ground last Wednesday, stealing her purse and then using one of the stolen credit cards to go on a shopping spree at Walmart, according to WSBK-TV.
“The victim was given a photo array, but she was so shaken up by the act she didn’t think she’d be able to identify the two suspects,” Hudson Police Chief David Stephens said.
But authorities were eventually able to identify the two sisters as the culprits.
According to police, Lizette and Anna used the stolen credit card from the woman’s purse to purchase nearly $1,000 of merchandise — including a flat screen television — at a nearby Walmart, WSBK-TV reported.
Police were able to recover most of the items, but some things have yet to be found.
“I believe she was planning a trip and I believe her airline tickets were in the purse and those were taken. Again, a cowardly senseless act,” Stephens said.
According to Stephens, the elderly woman was taken to the hospital but later released and is recovering at home.
Follow Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) on Twitter
Pope Francis Delivers Christmas Eve Message, Praises Jesus as the ‘Light Who Brightens the Darkness’Posted December 24, 2013 at 6:57 pm by Associated Press
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis lauded Jesus’ humble beginning as a poor and vulnerable baby as he celebrated his first Christmas Eve Mass as pontiff Tuesday in St. Peter’s Basilica.
“You are immense, and you made yourself small; you are rich, and you made yourself poor; you are all-powerful and you made yourself vulnerable,” Francis said of Jesus as he delivered his homily in the basilica, packed with faithful.
Francis has dedicated much of his nine-month-old papacy to drawing attention to the plight of the poor, of children, and other vulnerable members of society.
He noted that the first to receive news of Jesus’ birth were shepherds, who in society were considered “among the last, the outcast.”
The bells of St. Peter’s rang as Francis, who turned 77 a week ago, walked briskly up the main aisle of the basilica for the ceremony, which began Tuesday 2 1/2 hours before midnight. Keeping with the theme of humility he has set for his new papacy, Francis carried the statue instead of an aide, and kissed a knee of the figure of the newly born Jesus.
The occasional wail of babies in the basilica contrasted at times with the sweet voices of the choir.
The Argentine-born pope has also encouraged his flock to be a joyful church, and he called Jesus “the light who brightens the darkness.”
In the world’s history and our own personal history, Francis said, “there are both bright and dark moments, lights and shadows.” He added “if our heart is closed, if we are dominated by pride, deceit, self-seeking, then darkness falls within us and around us.”
Francis has applied this same vision to the heart of the Vatican’s own working, saying in past remarks there is no place for person ambition in the clerical hierarchy. Rather, he has insisted, the Catholic church must be one of service to those in need.
Earlier, in the Holy Land, thousands of Christian pilgrims from around the world packed the West Bank town of Bethlehem for Christmas Eve celebrations, bringing warm holiday cheer to the biblical birthplace of Jesus on a cool, clear night.
The heavy turnout, its highest in years, helped lift spirits in Bethlehem as leaders expressed hope that the coming year would finally bring the Palestinians an independent state of their own.
“The message of Christmas is a message of peace, love and brotherhood. We have to be brothers with each other,” said Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal, the top Roman Catholic cleric in the Holy Land, as he arrived in town.
At the Vatican during the homily, Francis quoted the Apostle John, saying “`whoever hates his brother is in the darkness’” and `”does not know the way to go, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.’”
The basilica ceremony was the pope’s only public Mass for Christmas. On Wednesday, Christmas Day, Francis will deliver his Christmas message, meant for the world, from the basilica’s central balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square.
As he left the basilica in a procession, Francis was preceded by 10 children carrying flowers, a pair of children each from Italy, the Philippines, Lebanon, his native Argentina and Congo.
One Look at This Military Couple’s Christmas Photo and You’ll Know Why It’s Gone ViralPosted December 24, 2013 at 6:45 pm by Jason Howerton
A military couple may have 7,000 miles separating them this Holiday season, but they aren’t letting the situation ruin their Christmas cheer.
Daniel Perdue is currently serving in Afghanistan, while his wife, Christina, is living in West Chester, N.Y. “So she took a picture holding this sign that says Merry Christmas then mailed the sign to him, so he can take a picture as well,” WJBK-TV reports.
Christina then simply combined the photos, turning them into one, and posted the image on Facebook. It’s clear to see why the heartwarming image has since gone viral.
The photo has resonated with many military families who also have loved ones serving overseas this Christmas.
VIDEO: Hunter Finds VERY Unlikely Animal in OklahomaPosted December 24, 2013 at 6:17 pm by Jason Howerton
Rice reportedly had his cellphone camera recording when the kangaroo went hopping across an Oklahoma pasture. Watch the video below (Warning: Language):
Apparently, a pet kangaroo named “Lucy Sparkles” went missing in Shawnee, Okla., last year, leading some to speculate that it could be the same animal. The Facebook group responsible for looking for the missing animal has reportedly seen the video but thinks it is “unlikely” that the kangaroo in the video is Lucy.
“My phones been blowing up since this hunter posted this video this afternoon. Pretty sure it belongs to a local exotic farm,” the group’s page states.
“I can’t tell if it’s her yet. I just think it’s unlikely. First plan is to get ahold of the exotic farm to confirm whether or not they had one get loose. They are in the same town the video was filmed in. It just seems more likely that it would be theirs,” it adds
Find Out What This Las Vegas Cabbie Did After He Found $300K in CashPosted December 24, 2013 at 5:30 pm by Becket Adams
Over the course of Gerardo Gamboa’s many years as a Las Vegas taxi driver, a lot of customers have left behind a lot of personal belonging in his cab.
But Monday was special for the Checker Cab driver of 13 years. No one had ever left behind a paper bag holding $300,000 in cash.
The driver said he didn’t even notice the bag on Monday until a doorman at the Bellagio told him someone had left something in his backseat. So Gamboa plopped the paper bag that both he and the doorman suspected contained chocolate down next to him in his passenger seat and left to pick up another passenger.
However, the driver’s curiosity eventually got the better of him as he started wondering about the bag’s contents.
“What kind of chocolates are they?” he asked himself, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “Are they good ones that I could buy some for my wife as a present?”
He opened the bag and much to his and his passenger’s surprise, the bag contained stacks of $100 bills.
“My God, this is cash money,” said Gamboa.
After a few minutes, the driver regained his composure and he decided a course of action.
Gamboa dropped off his passenger, collected his fare, called his dispatcher about the missing cash and drove the money to Yellow Checker Star Transportation’s main office.
However, when he got there, he wasn’t able to piece together who could have possibly left that kind of money in his cab.
The cabbie remembered picking up a few passengers separately and shuttling them between popular destinations including the Cosmopolitan to the Palms Place tower. But he also remembered that it wasn’t until around 11:45 a.m. that the doorman notified him of the paper bag in his backseat.
As Gamboa tried to piece together the mystery of the missing $300,000, a man showed up at the Yellow Checker Star office claiming the cash was his. However, the man who tried to claim the money tried to do so without identification and the name he provided didn’t match the name given by the Cosmopolitan, a casino that reported earlier paying out $300,000.
Gamboa and his managers eventually decided to call the Las Vegas police.
After a little digging, Las Vegas law enforcement officials were able to place the money with a prominent local poker player whose name they wouldn’t reveal.
But even after figuring out who owned the money, Gamboa and his managers are still amazed that someone would forget that kind of money.
“This is the largest amount we have found in my 32 years in this business,” said Yellow Checker Star chief operating officer Bill Shranko. “Recently, we found $9,000 but that’s no longer a big deal.”
For his part, Gamboa said the thought of skimming a few $100 bills for himself never crossed his mind.
“Even though I am a poor guy I don’t need money that doesn’t belong to me,” said Gamboa.
As of this writing, it’s unclear whether the Las Vegas resident of 27 years will receive a finder’s reward. But even if he doesn’t receive an additional tip for his honestly, he doesn’t care, the Las Vegas Review-Journal notes.
“Tomorrow, I go back to work,” he said.
Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter
Colorado State Football Coach Suspended, Forced to Take Diversity Training After Use of Gay SlurPosted December 24, 2013 at 5:00 pm by Oliver Darcy
A Colorado State football coach has been suspended for two weeks and must undergo mandatory anger management and diversity training after he used a gay slur during the New Mexico Bowl.
According to CBS Sports, the school’s athletic director Jack Graham issued the punishment to defensive line coach Greg Lupfer after his anti-gay comments were captured on video during the live broadcast of the game.
The coach appeared to call Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday a “f****n f****t” after he threw a touchdown pass in CSU’s 48-45 win, according to the Coloradoan.
Lupfer has since apologized.
“I accept these consequences—two weeks without pay and the training programs—and I am thankful for this second chance to continue coaching at Colorado State and be a part of the Ram Family,” he said in a statement, according to CBS Sports. “I am deeply sorry for my behavior, which does not represent who I am or my values.
“I embrace the opportunity to participate in anger management and diversity sensitivity training,” the statement continued. “I was angry and careless with my words, and my words hurt many people. I sincerely apologize to the GLBTQ community for causing pain by using a slur without considering its meaning. I take ownership of my words and fully understand why people are very upset.”
Follow Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) on Twitter
Someone Shot Santa With a Pellet Gun — and a Local News Crew Captured It All on VideoPosted December 24, 2013 at 4:30 pm by Oliver Darcy
A man dressed as Santa Clause was shot with a pellet gun in Washington, D.C. Tuesday morning during a toy giveaway — and the entire incident was captured on video by a local news crew.
Video shot by a WJLA photographer shows the Santa actor waiving his hands shouting “Merry Christmas” in a Southeast D.C. neighborhood. Suddenly, however, he stops, groans in pain and claims someone “just shot me.”
“Something hit me in the back,” he adds.
“You got shot?” a perplexed man can be heard saying in the video.
“Something in my back,” the man dressed as Santa replies as he continues to loudly groan. “My back! Agh, my back!”
According to WJLA, witnesses reported hearing two shots and police believe they came from a second story window.
“Santa” wanted to continue the toy giveaway, but paramedics insisted he be evaluated at an area hospital. He is expected to make a full recovery, according to WJLA.
The local ABC affiliate reported the giveaway continued without him and that “a man playing the Grinch stepped in to help.”
Follow Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) on Twitter
17 Pictures of Stunning Snow Art Created Just With FootprintsPosted December 24, 2013 at 4:17 pm by Liz Klimas
A snow angel can be beautiful, but the creations Simon Beck stamps into the snow using only his feet take winter landscape art to the next level.
Aside from the amazing detail, the designs are even more impressive considering their scale and the planning that’s put into them.
Beck wrote on Facebook that “projecting” a design onto the snow and then tracing it out with his feet would “[remove] the skill.” Beck uses “primitive tools” to set out the design properly.
“The setting out is the boring bit, too much like my job of orienteering map-making,” he wrote.
Here’s how it works:
Stage 1 is measuring. Usually I work outwards from the center. Straight lines are made by using the compass and walking in a straight line towards a point in the distance, curves are made by judgment. Both require a lot of practice to get it good.
When the primary straight lines and curves have been made, points are measured along them using pace counting for distance measurement.
Next, the secondary lines are added by joining the points determined by the above process. Usually I walk the lines three times to get them really good, if there is enough time.
Lastly, the shaded areas are filled in.
Though one might be inclined to call Beck’s work “snow crop circles,” it’s a term he doesn’t support.
“A lot of people seem to call it snow crop circles, which I dislike as a lot of those who do crop drawings don’t ask permission and I don’t want to be associated with that sort of illegal activity,” he wrote.
Be sure to check out Beck’s about page on Facebook for more on this unique individual and his designs that can take up to 10 hours to complete (not including the hike to the site). Check out more of his wintry art in this Facebook gallery.
(H/T: Viral Nova)
Judge Who Said Teen Rape Victim Was ‘Older Than Her Chronological Age’ Hands Down Another Strange SentencePosted December 24, 2013 at 4:00 pm by Associated Press
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Montana judge who said a teen rape victim appeared “older than her chronological age” has sentenced a man convicted of punching his girlfriend to write “Boys do not hit girls” 5,000 times.
District Judge G. Todd Baugh also sentenced Pacer Anthony Ferguson, 27, to six months in jail and to pay $3,800 in restitution for fracturing the woman’s face in three places during an August 2012 argument.
The judge ordered Ferguson on Monday to number the list, sign it and mail it to him by May 23, The Billings Gazette reported ( http://bit.ly/1c3iyoO ).
Baugh set off a public furor when he made the comment about the 14-year-old rape victim and sentenced her teacher-rapist to only a month in prison. The state is appealing the sentence and women’s groups are calling for Baugh’s removal from the bench.
A jury earlier this month convicted Ferguson of misdemeanor assault, but acquitted him of felony aggravated assault and felony witness tampering after he admitted in court to punching the woman.
A surgeon implanted a permanent mesh titanium plate in the victim’s face to repair the damage. The woman testified that she still suffers double vision when she looks up or down and that she has occasional pain and numbness in her face.
Ferguson also appeared Monday in a separate hearing before District Judge Gregory R. Todd for a hearing on a sentence for a felony attempted robbery in 2003.
In that case, Ferguson attempted to rob a man at knife point in a Walmart parking lot, according to court records.
Todd ruled that Ferguson violated the terms of his release for the 2003 robbery multiple times, including with the assault on the woman.
Todd revoked Ferguson’s prior sentence and ordered him to spend eight years in the Montana State Prison to run concurrent to his sentence for the assault.
Chief Deputy Yellowstone County Attorney Juli M. Pierce said after the hearing that she respects the two sentences the judges gave Ferguson.
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