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  • Viral Video: Town Cop Throws Down After Complaint of Illegal Act on Neighboring Driveway
    Posted December 21, 2013 at 4:31 pm by Dave Urbanski

    Comments (273)

    The list of things people should never do in full public view is quite long.

    Viral Video Depicts Cop Warning Men About Washing a Car in a Driveway in Full Public View

    Police officer recoded on video telling a couple of guys who were allegedly washing a car in what they claim is a private driveway that they’re itchin’ for a ticket. (Image source: YouTube raw video)

    But if you live in Garden City, N.Y., you can add to it washing a car, even on a private driveway, according to WCBS-TV in New York City.

    A video making its viral mark depicts a colorful exchange reportedly between a Garden City police officer and a couple of guys standing in what they say is a private residential driveway.

    The cop tells the pair that a neighbor has complained that they were washing a car in full public view, which is against village ordinance, the cop said. Garden City is on Long Island.

    At one point the officer is heard saying, “This is a battle you don’t want to start with us, I’m telling you now.” As well as, “You don’t want us being upset with you.”

    No ticket was issued during the videotaped exchange; Garden City police had no comment, WCBS reported.

    Check out all the local-ordinance fireworks in video below:

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    • Three U.S. Military Aircraft Hit in South Sudan, Four Service Members Wounded
      Posted December 21, 2013 at 3:20 pm by Dave Urbanski

      Comments (51)

      Story by the Associated Press; curated by Dave Urbanski

      NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Gunfire hit three U.S. military aircraft trying to evacuate American citizens in a remote region of South Sudan that on Saturday became a battle ground between the country’s military and renegade troops, officials said. Four U.S. service members were wounded in the attack in the same region where gunfire downed a U.N. helicopter the day before.

      The U.S. military aircraft were about to land in Bor, the capital of the state of Jonglei and scene of some of the nation’s worst violence over the last week, when they were hit. The military said the four wounded troops were in stable condition.

      The U.S. military said three CV-22 Ospreys — the kind of aircraft that can fly like a helicopter and plane — were “participating in a mission to evacuate American citizens in Bor.” A South Sudan official said violence against civilians there has resulted in bodies “sprinkled all over town.”

      Three U.S. Military Aircraft Hit in South Sudan, Four Service Members Wounded

      In this photo taken Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013 and released by the U.S. Air Force, soldiers of the East Africa Response Force (EARF), a Djibouti-based joint team assigned to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, depart from a U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules in Juba, South Sudan to support with an ordered departure of personnel from the city. Gunfire hit three U.S. military CV-22 Osprey aircraft Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013 trying to evacuate American citizens in Bor, the capital of the remote region of Jonglei state in South Sudan, that on Saturday became a battleground between South Sudan’s military and renegade troops, officials said, with four U.S. service members wounded in the attack. (Image source: AP/U.S. Air Force, Tech. Sgt. Micah Theurich)

      “After receiving fire from the ground while approaching the site, the aircraft diverted to an airfield outside the country and aborted the mission,” the statement said. “The injured troops are being treated for their wounds.” It was not known how many U.S. civilians are in Bor.

      After the aircraft took incoming fire, they turned around and flew to Entebbe, Uganda. From there the service members were flown to Nairobi, Kenya aboard a U.S. Air Force C-17 for medical treatment, the statement said.

      An official in the region who insisted on anonymity to share information not made public said the Americans did not tell the top commander in Bor — Gen. Peter Gadet, who defected from the South Sudan military this week — that they were coming in, which may have led to the attack. The U.S. statements said the gunfire was from unknown forces.

      South Sudan’s military spokesman, Col. Philip Aguer, said that government troops are not in control of Bor, so the attack on the U.S. aircraft has to be blamed on renegade soldiers.

      “Bor is under the control of the forces of Riek Machar,” Aguer said.

      The U.S. aircraft was hit one day after small arms fire downed a U.N. helicopter in the same state.

      Three U.S. Military Aircraft Hit in South Sudan, Four Service Members Wounded

      This photo taken Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013 and released by the U.S. Air Force shows U.S. Army soldiers of the East Africa Response Force (EARF), a Djibouti-based joint team assigned to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, preparing to load onto a U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, to support with an ordered departure of personnel from Juba, South Sudan. (Image source: AP/U.S. Air Force, Tech. Sgt. Micah Theurich)

      Rob McKee, operations manager for Warrior Security, a South Sudan security company, said the U.N. helicopter made an emergency landing while trying to evacuate personnel from a base in Yuai, Jonglei state. A second official who insisted on anonymity because the information hasn’t been released said the helicopter was abandoned and remains unable to fly. No injuries were reported.

      The U.N. planned to try to evacuate the personnel left behind by ground. A U.N. spokesman didn’t answer a phone call or email seeking comment.

      South Sudan’s information minister, Michael Makuei Lueth, said that South Sudanese ground troops, backed by the country’s air force, are fighting rebels in Bor, an effort to retake the state capital they lost earlier this week.

      “There is fighting going on in Bor town, yes, because since morning they have continued to attack the civilian population,” he said, talking about renegade troops. “They have gone as far as not respecting the U.N. compound.”

      He said fighting started early Saturday after reports came in that rebels there were shooting indiscriminately at civilians.

      “The bodies are sprinkled all over the town,” he said. No death toll could be estimated, he said.

      South Sudan President Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, said this week that an attempted coup triggered the violence now pulsing through South Sudan. He blamed the former vice president, Machar, an ethnic Nuer. But officials have since said a fight between Dinka and Nuer members of the presidential guard triggered the initial violence late Sunday night. Machar’s ouster from the country’s No. 2 political position earlier this year had stoked ethnic tensions.

      The violence has killed hundreds and has world leaders worried that a full-blown civil war could ignite in South Sudan. The south fought a decades-long war with Sudan before a 2005 peace deal resulted in a 2011 referendum that saw South Sudan break away from the north, taking most of the region’s oil wealth with it.

      Lueth described Machar as “the rebel leader,” saying the forces that control Bor believe they are fighting on his behalf. Machar’s whereabouts remain unknown, but he has said in recent interviews that he is in hiding somewhere in South Sudan.

      An International Crisis Group expert on South Sudan told The Associated Press on Friday that rebels have taken control of at least some of South Sudan’s oil fields, an issue that could bring Sudan into the conflict. South Sudan’s oil flows north through Sudan’s pipelines, providing Khartoum with much needed income.

      The U.N. Security Council on Friday said the weeklong violence could affect neighboring countries and the entire region.

      Kenya announced it was sending in Kenyan troops to evacuate 1,600 Kenyans stranded in South Sudan, many of them in Bor.

      U.S. President Barack Obama earlier this week dispatched U.S. troops to help protect the U.S. Embassy in the capital, Juba. The U.S. Embassy organized at least five emergency evacuation flights to help U.S. citizens leave the country. Other countries like Britain, Germany and Italy also helped citizens evacuate.

      Mediators from East Africa continued to try to help negotiate a peace. Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry said Saturday that they have held “productive” talks with Kiir and that consultations were continuing. Kiir has agreed to “unconditional dialogue” to try to stop the violence.

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      • Widow of American Teacher Gunned Down in Benghazi Has Surprising Message For Husband’s Attackers
        Posted December 21, 2013 at 2:32 pm by Oliver Darcy

        Comments (119)

        The widow of the American teacher who was slain in Benghazi says she forgives the attackers that gunned down her husband earlier this month.

        “I just envision the black Jeep driving up to him and I don’t know their faces,” Ronnie Smith told CNN. “I just want them to know that God loves them and can forgive them for this,” Anita Smith tells CNN’s Anderson Cooper in an interview.

        With a quavering voice, she continued to explain how she can forgive her husband’s attackers.

        “I don’t know them. That’s how I honestly feel. It may sound crazy. It’s God’s spirit that’s putting this inside me,” Smith said

        “I just really want them to know that I do love them and I forgive them…”
        Share:

        “I just really want them to know that I do love them and I forgive them, and Ronnie would want this, and I hope and pray that our son, Hosea, would believe this,” she continued. ”Yeah, they took away my husband. I loved my husband. But it’s got to be God’s spirit that’s pushing me to show them that this is what God wants them to see.”

        The 33-year-old wrote an open letter conveying the same sentiment.

        “I love and I forgive you,” she wrote.

        Smith’s husband was shot to death while jogging in Benghazi Dec. 5.

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        • Watch the Creative Marriage Proposal That Will Absolutely Melt Your Heart
          Posted December 21, 2013 at 2:10 pm by Oliver Darcy

          Comments (42)

          Just months into their relationship, 23-year-old Beecher Reuning knew he had met the girl he wanted to spend the rest of his life with.

          But, the Virginia graduate student didn’t want to propose to his 25-year-old girlfriend April Allbritton in a cliche manner. So, for about a month, he thought and pondered various ways to make the ask of his life.

          Watch the Creative Marriage Proposal That Will Absolutely Melt Your Heart

          (Image source: Screen grab via YouTube)

          And one fall day, the idea hit him.

          “I love to make movies and when I started dating April she also expressed that she likes to make videos,” Reuning told TheBlaze Saturday. “We didn’t plan anything, but we just started making corky videos one day.”

          “So, about 7-8 months into our relationship, I realized she was the girl I was going to marry,” he continued. “So I’m thinking of ways to propose and I know she loves to be on camera and I know that our special thing is our videos, so I was like I think I’m going to convince her that we are going to do another video. Except I’m going to give it a little more meaning by us reenacting moments from our relationship.”

          He planned the proposal for Nov. 23 and the two spent the day filming a number of highlights from their relationship. The couple laughed, danced and sung throughout the day, filming different scenes.

          Watch the Creative Marriage Proposal That Will Absolutely Melt Your Heart

          (Image source: Screen grab via YouTube)

          Finally, in the last scene, Reuning took a knee and proposed to an unsuspecting Allbritton.

          “April Allbritton, you are the love of my life,” he said. “Will you Marry me?”

          “Yes,” a stunned Allbritton replied. “You shocked me.”

          Watch the Creative Marriage Proposal That Will Absolutely Melt Your Heart

          (Image source: Screen grab via YouTube)

          Since the video was uploaded to YouTube, Reuning says several friends and family members have told him his unique proposal moved them.

          “Other people are really being touched by it,” he said. “A lot of people are telling me they cried watching it.”

          “A lot of people are telling me they cried watching it.”
          Share:

          The 23-year-old added that he just feels blessed that Allbritton walked into his life and that they plan on getting married next year around Labor Day.

          “This entire relationship from minute one until now — God has just orchestrated events like this viral video, like so many other things, that have just been phenomenal,” he said. “We both just give credit to God.”

          At the time of publication, the video had 6,402 views.

          Watch the proposal video:

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          • ‘An Early Christmas’: Astronauts Safely Complete First of Urgent Space Walks to Repair Station
            Posted December 21, 2013 at 1:14 pm by Associated Press

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            CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Astronauts removed an old space station pump Saturday, sailing through the first of a series of urgent repair spacewalks to revive a crippled cooling line.

            The two Americans on the crew, Rick Mastracchio and Michael Hopkins, successfully pulled out the ammonia pump with a bad valve __ well ahead of schedule. That task had been planned for the next spacewalk on Monday.

            “An early Christmas,” observed Mission Control as Mastracchio tugged the refrigerator-size pump away from its nesting spot.

            “An early Christmas.”
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            If Mastracchio and Hopkins keep up the quick work, two spacewalks may be enough to complete the installation of a spare pump and a third spacewalk will not be needed on Christmas Day as originally anticipated.

            The breakdown 10 days earlier left one of two identical cooling loops too cold and forced the astronauts to turn off all nonessential equipment inside the orbiting lab, bringing scientific research to a near-halt and leaving the station in a vulnerable state.

            An Early Christmas: Astronauts Safely Complete First of Urgent Space Walks to Repair Station

            In this image made from video provided by NASA, astronaut Rick Mastracchio performs a space walk outside the International Space Station on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013. Mastracchio and Michael Hopkins ventured out of the station to try to revive a crippled cooling line. (AP Photo/NASA)

            Mastracchio managed to unhook all four ammonia fluid lines on the pump with relative ease, occasionally releasing a flurry of frozen ammonia flakes that brushed against his suit. Next he undid the electrical connections. A small O-ring floated away, but he managed to retrieve it.

            “I got it, I got it, I got it. Barely,” Mastracchio said as he stretched out his hand.

            “Don’t let that go, that’s a stocking stuffer,” Mission Control replied.

            “Don’t tell my wife,” Mastracchio said, chuckling, as he put it in a small pouch for trash.

            Mastracchio, a seven-time spacewalker, and Hopkins, making his first, wore extra safety gear as they worked outside. NASA wanted to prevent a recurrence of the helmet flooding that nearly drowned an astronaut last summer, so Saturday’s spacewalkers had snorkels in their suits and water-absorbent pads in their helmets.

            Midway through the spacewalk, the spacewalkers were still dry. But Mastracchio’s toes were so cold that he had to crank up the heat in his boots. Mission Control worried aloud whether it was wise to stretch the spacewalk from the planned 6½ hours to seven hours or more to get ahead, given Mastracchio’s discomfort.

            Not quite two hours later, Mastracchio had enough as he clutched the old pump. When Mission Control suggested even more get-ahead chores, he replied, “I’d like to stow this old module and kind of clean up and call it a day.” He said a couple of things were bothering him, not just temperature, and declined to elaborate when asked by Mission Control what was wrong.

            Flight controllers obliged him. Once the old pump was secured to a temporary location, the spacewalkers started gathering up their tools to go in.

            Adding to the excitement 260 miles up, a smoke alarm went off in the space station as the astronauts toiled outside. It was quickly found to be a false alarm.

            The pump replacement is a huge undertaking attempted only once before, back in 2010 on this very unit. The two astronauts who tackled the job three years ago were in Mission Control, offering guidance. Mastracchio promised to bring back a wire tie installed on the pump by the previous spacewalkers. “Oh, awesome, thanks Rick,” replied the astronaut in Mission Control who put it on.

            The 780-pound pump is about the size of a double-door refrigerator and extremely cumbersome to handle, with plumbing full of toxic ammonia. Any traces of ammonia on the spacesuits have to be dissipated by the time the astronauts go back inside, to avoid further contamination.

            NASA’s plan initially called for the pump to be disconnected Saturday, pulled out Monday and a fresh spare put in, and then all the hookups of the new pump completed Wednesday in what would be the first Christmas spacewalk ever. But if the work is finished on the first two spacewalks, the third won’t be needed.

            In the days following the Dec. 11 breakdown, flight controllers attempted in vain to fix the bad valve through remote commanding. Then they tried using a different valve to regulate the temperature of the overly cold loop, with some success. But last Tuesday, NASA decided the situation was severe enough to press ahead with the spacewalks. Although the astronauts were safe and comfortable, NASA did not want to risk another failure and a potential loss of the entire cooling system, needed to radiate the heat generated by on-board equipment.

            NASA delayed a delivery mission from Wallops Island, Va., to accommodate the spacewalks. That flight by Orbital Sciences Corp., which should have occurred this past week, is now targeted for Jan. 7.

            Until Saturday, U.S. spacewalks had been on hold since July, when an Italian astronaut’s helmet was flooded with water from the cooling system of his suit. Luca Parmitano barely got back inside alive.

            Engineers traced the problem to a device in the suit that turned out to be contaminated — how and why, no one yet knows.

            For Saturday’s spacewalk, Hopkins wore Parmitano’s suit, albeit with newly installed and thoroughly tested components.

            Just in case, NASA had Mastracchio and Hopkins build snorkels out of plastic tubing from their suits, before going out. The snorkels will be used in case water starts building up in their helmets. They also put absorbent pads in their helmets; the pads were launched from Earth following the July scare.

            Besides the two Americans, three Russians and one Japanese are living on the space station, all men.

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            • Major Company Has ‘Removed Selected Products’ Over ‘Duck Dynasty’ Star’s Controversial Comments
              Posted December 21, 2013 at 12:40 pm by Oliver Darcy

              Comments (693)

              UPDATE — 12/22: Cracker Barrel announced Sunday they have reversed their decision to remove select “Duck Dynasty” products from their stores.

              Cracker Barrel reacted to the growing controversy around “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson’s comments on homosexuality by removing some products from their stores, the southern themed restaurant chain announced Friday.

              “We removed selected products which we were concerned might offend some of our guests while we evaluate the situation,” Cracker Barrel said in a Facebook post. “We continually evaluate the products we offer and will continue to do so.”

              “We removed selected products which we were concerned might offend some of our guests…”
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              The restaurant chain noted, however, they “continue to offer Duck Commander products” and highlighted their mission is to “operate within the ideals of fairness, mutual respect and equal treatment of all people.”

              Major Company Has Removed Selected Products Over Duck Dynasty Stars Controversial Comments

              File-This Nov. 7, 2013 file photo shows Phil Robertson, the Duck Commander, holding the 1 millionth duck call assembled for 2013 at company’s warehouse in West Monroe, La. (AP Photo, The News-Star/Margaret Croft)

              Nevertheless, one of the shows largest sponsors is sticking with the “Duck Dynasty” crew.

              Under Armour, denounced Robertson’s comments, but told TMZ they have “no plans to change our current relationship.”

              “We are obviously aware of the situation,” the sports apparel company added. “And his comments are not indicative of Under Armour’s views.”

              Some items on Under Armour’s website are currently sold out. That is not surprising though.

              As TheBlaze reported Friday, retail giant Walmart is selling out of “Duck Dynasty” gear as fans flock to show their support of Robertson.

              On Wednesday, A&E placed him on indefinite hiatus following a number of comments where Robertson gave his brutally honest opinion about homosexuality.

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              • 4 Arrested For NJ Mall Carjacking Where Husband Was Executed in Front of His Wife
                Posted December 21, 2013 at 11:28 am by Associated Press

                Comments (139)

                NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Four men have been arrested on charges of murder, conspiracy and other counts in the carjacking death of a man shot in front of his wife outside an upscale mall in northern New Jersey last weekend, authorities said Saturday.

                The suspects were identified as 29-year-old Hanif Thompson, of Irvington; 31-year-old Karif Ford, of Newark; 32-year-old Basim Henry, of Newark; and 33-year-old Kevin Roberts, of Newark.

                4 Arrested For NJ Mall Carjacking Where Husband Was Executed in Front of His Wife

                A police car drives in an empty parking garage at The Mall at Short Hills in Short Hills, N.J., Monday, Dec. 16, 2013, where a fatal carjacking took place Sunday. Authorities are searching for two suspects wanted in the deadly shooting of 30-year-old Hoboken resident Dustin Friedland who had just finished holiday shopping with his wife at the upscale mall in northern New Jersey. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

                They are accused in the Dec. 15 carjacking and killing of Dustin Friedland outside The Mall at Short Hills. The 30-year-old lawyer from Hoboken was shot in the head in the mall parking garage after being confronted by two carjackers, authorities said. The assailants drove off in his silver Range Rover, which was found the next morning in Newark, about 10 miles from Short Hills.

                4 Arrested For NJ Mall Carjacking Where Husband Was Executed in Front of His Wife

                The casket of Dustin Friedland is carried from the temple after a funeral service Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013,in Lakewood, N.J. Friends and relatives gathered to mourn the 30-year-old lawyer who was shot to death by a carjackers outside a northern New Jersey mall last weekend. (AP Photo/The Asbury Park Press, Doug Hood)

                The four face charges of murder, felony murder, carjacking, conspiracy, possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose. They were arrested between late Friday and early Saturday. Three of them were taken into custody in New Jersey, and Henry was arrested in Easton, Pa.

                The suspects are being held on $2 million bail each but have not yet been formally arraigned. It wasn’t immediately clear if they had attorneys.

                Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray attributes the swift arrest to “good old-fashioned police work” and leads from the public.

                The carjacking occurred just as Friedland and his wife, Jamie Schare Friedland, were ending a shopping trip. Mourners at Friedland’s funeral on Wednesday said he had just opened the door of his SUV for his wife when he was shot.

                Friedland had a law degree from Syracuse University and was project manager at his family’s heating and air conditioning and heating company.

                More than $40,000 was offered for information leading to the arrest of the killers.

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                • Report: Obamacare May Put Status of Volunteer Firefighters at Risk
                  Posted December 21, 2013 at 10:54 am by Oliver Darcy

                  Comments (40)

                  President Barack Obama’s signature health law may jeopardize the status of volunteer firefighters, a Florida media outlet reported Friday.

                  According to WTEV-TV, there is “concern is that under the new health care law, fire departments would be required to provide volunteers with health care benefits or pay a fine,” adding it may result in “leaving many communities without the backup they need in case of an emergency.”

                  The local CBS affiliate spoke with Clay County Fire Chief Lorin Mock who said the volunteer firefighters are a critical part of his force.

                  “For us, they’re an important force augmentation,” he said.

                  “It’s literally a whole scale of colors, if you will, as to whether it really applies or doesn’t apply,” he added. “We just don’t know where we stand right now.”

                  “We just don’t know where we stand right now.”
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                  TheBlaze has previously reported on how the Affordable Care Act may impact fire departments around the country.

                  According to WTEV-TV, legislation has been introduced in Congress that would exempt fire departments from having to provide coverage to volunteers.

                  The earliest a fire department could see a fine is in 2015 and Mock is not reportedly currently cutting hours.

                  Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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                  • Which NFL Coach Just Took His Entire Team to See Marcus Luttrell’s ‘Lone Survivor’ Movie?
                    Posted December 21, 2013 at 10:09 am by Oliver Darcy

                    Comments (80)

                    Patriots coach Bill Belichick scrubbed normal activities from Friday’s schedule and instead took the New England football team to see “Lone Survivor,” according to the Boston Herald.

                    As @ just said on NFL Insiders Belichick changed schedule and took Patriots to a movie #apocalypse
                    Which NFL Coach Just Took His Entire Team to See Marcus Luttrell’s ‘Lone Survivor’ Movie?
                    @mortreport
                    Chris Mortensen

                    Bill Belichick took the Patriots to see "Lone Survivor" today during a full-team movie trip.
                    Which NFL Coach Just Took His Entire Team to See Marcus Luttrell’s ‘Lone Survivor’ Movie?
                    @jeffphowe
                    Jeff Howe

                    According to NFL.com, the movie has also been seen by others, including the Denver Broncos, Dallas Cowboys, Cleveland Browns, Carolina Panthers and the University of Alabama football team.

                    “Lone Survivor,” based on the book by Marcus Luttrell, follows the failed 2005 “Operation Red Wings” mission assigned to SEAL Team 10. It is slated for release on Jan. 10.

                    Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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                    • Touching Photo Captures Dying Man Saying Final Goodbye to His Childhood Dog
                      Posted December 21, 2013 at 9:26 am by Oliver Darcy

                      Comments (140)

                      A picture posted on the Internet Friday shows a 21-year-old dying cancer patient saying his final goodbye to his beloved childhood dog.

                      The photograph, shared on popular website Reddit, captures Mike Petrosino visiting with his dog Rusty one last time. Doctors expect Mike to succumb to his battle with cancer in just days.

                      Touching Photo Captures Dying Man Saying Final Goodbye to His Childhood Dog

                      Mike Petrosino’s childhood dog Rusty visits him one last time. (Image courtesy of John Petrosino)

                      “My friend Mike was diagnosed with cancer in the 8th grade. He was given a 3% chance to survive the first year. Two days ago we found out that after 8 years, the amputation of his leg, and four rounds of cancer that there’s now nothing that they can do,” the Reddit post said. “This picture was taken by his brother yesterday.”

                      “I just got back from Mass General and got to say goodbye with a bunch of old friends,” it added. “He’s the bravest guy I’ve ever met and all he did the entire day was make sure everyone else was okay.”

                      Mike’s brother, John, told TheBlaze it was an incredibly moving moment.

                      “That was by far one of the most touching moments of my life,” he said Friday.

                      “That was by far one of the most touching moments of my life.”
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                      “It was a very touching moment,” Mike’s mother, Paula, added. “Mike and Rusty grew up together and are very close.”

                      John even said that it appeared Mike’s childhood dog understood the dire situation.

                      “Rusty was very emotional when Mike said his finale goodbye,” he said. “Every time I come home these past two days, he sits near Mike’s favorite couch and whines, which is rare from him.”

                      The family has setup an online website where individuals can donate to help with Mike’s medical bills.

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                      • Read the Chilling Letter a Former North Korean Prisoner Wrote to Dennis Rodman
                        Posted December 21, 2013 at 8:48 am by Oliver Darcy

                        Comments (348)

                        A human rights activist and the only known person to be born in a North Korea camp and escape to the West wrote a chilling letter this week to Dennis Rodman, on the heels of news the former NBA player would coach the communist country’s basketball team.

                        “I have never met you, and until you visited North Korea in February I had never heard of you,” Shin Dong-hyuk wrote in an open letter first published by the Washington Post. “Now I know very well that you are a famous, retired American basketball player with many tattoos.”

                        Read the Chilling Letter a Former North Korean Prisoner Wrote to Dennis Rodman

                        Shin Dong-hyuk, the only known person born in a North Korean camp and escape to the West, wrote a chilling letter this week to former NBA player Dennis Rodman. (Image source: Facebook)

                        “I want to tell you about myself. I was born in 1982 in Camp 14, a political prison in the mountains of North Korea,” he continued. “For more than 50 years, Kim Jong Un, his father and his grandfather have used prisons such as Camp 14 to punish, starve and work to death people who the regime decides are a threat.”

                        “Prisoners are sent to places like Camp 14 without trial and in secret,” the letter adds. “A prisoner’s ‘crime’ can be his relation by blood to someone the regime believes is a wrongdoer or wrong-thinker. My crime was to be born as the son of a man whose brother fled to South Korea in the 1950s.”

                        Dong-hyuk then detailed some of the horrors he says people face in North Korea’s labor camps.

                        “I grew up watching these executions, including the hanging of my mother.”
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                        “At this very moment, people are starving in these camps. Others are being beaten, and someone soon will be publicly executed as a lesson to other prisoners to work hard and obey the rules,” he wrote. “I grew up watching these executions, including the hanging of my mother.”

                        “On orders of the guards in Camp 14, inmates are forced to marry and create children to be raised by guards to be disposable slaves,” Dong-hyuk added. “Until I escaped in 2005, I was one of those slaves. My body is covered with scars from torture I endured in the camp.”

                        Dong-hyuk, who has since authored a book titled “Escape from Camp 14,” asked Rodman to confront dictator Kim Jong Un about the country’s labor camps.

                        “I am writing to you, Mr. Rodman, because, more than anything else, I want Kim Jong Un to hear the cries of his people,” he wrote. “Maybe you could use your friendship and your time together to help him understand that he has the power to close the camps and rebuild the country’s economy so everyone can afford to eat.”

                        “I end this letter in the hope that you can use your friendship with the dictator to be a friend to the North Korean people,” Dong-hyuk concluded.

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                        • Her Tweet Ignited a Massive Internet Firestorm (UPDATE: Media Company Has ‘Parted Ways’ with Exec)
                          Posted December 21, 2013 at 8:26 am by Oliver Darcy

                          Comments (455)

                          UPDATE 4:34 p.m.: IAC, the media company owned by Barry Diller, says it has “parted ways” with Justine Sacco, the PR executive whose tweet about AIDS in Africa went viral and upset the Internet, CNN reported.

                          Original story is below

                          “I am so sorry,” InterActiveCorp communications director Justine Sacco wrote on Facebook.

                          Justine Sacco Tweet AIDS Africa Ignited the Internet

                          Justine Sacco was at the center of controversy after a tweet she posted about race and AIDS in Africa Friday ignited outrage. (Image source: Facebook)

                          Earlier that day, Sacco ignited a massive firestorm of controversy on the Internet after tweeting, “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!”

                          Justine Sacco Tweet AIDS Africa Ignited the Internet

                          A screen grab of Justine Sacco’s tweet before it was deleted. (Image source: Screen grab via Twitter)

                          The tweet was posted to the popular blog Gawker and then picked up by BuzzFeed where it was widely circulated on the Internet and condemned as racist.

                          @ Right, #JustineSacco. You're a racist, and an idiot. I sense a firing coming on...
                          Justine Sacco Tweet AIDS Africa Ignited the Internet
                          @ I seriously hope you keep that joking demeanor while you're in the unemployment office. You're going to need it!
                          Justine Sacco Tweet AIDS Africa Ignited the Internet
                          @Kid_Purdy
                          A Kid Named Purdy
                          @ I hope there's a malaria mosquito waiting for you at the airport holding a sign with your name on it #YaBish.
                          Justine Sacco Tweet AIDS Africa Ignited the Internet
                          @steenfox
                          Maria von Trappgod

                          IAC, the parent of Internet giants Match.com, The Daily Beast and Dictionary.com, among others, released a statement hinting disciplinary action would be taken against Sacco.

                          “This is an outrageous, offensive comment that does not reflect the views and values of IAC,” the company said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the employee in question is unreachable on an international flight, but this is a very serious matter and we are taking appropriate action.”

                          “This is an outrageous, offensive comment that does not reflect the views and values of IAC.”
                          Share:

                          But that was not enough to quell the Internet’s outrage. On Saturday evening, the hashtag “#HasJustineLandedYet” became the number one trend worldwide.

                          Users continued to lambast the public relations executive, while anxiously waiting for her to land and issue a response to the controversy.

                          I don't think America has watched a landing this closely since Apollo 13 re-entered the earth's atmosphere in 1970. #HasJustineLandedYet
                          Justine Sacco Tweet AIDS Africa Ignited the Internet
                          @kjhealy
                          Kieran Healy
                          #hasjustinelandedyet do we know which airport @ is flying into or are we just staking out every airport in Africa?
                          Justine Sacco Tweet AIDS Africa Ignited the Internet
                          @johnvmoore
                          John V. Moore
                          This is better than watching a bad driver get pulled over by the cops. #HasJustineLandedYet
                          Justine Sacco Tweet AIDS Africa Ignited the Internet
                          @vinabean
                          Nolivia Nope

                          Upon arriving at her destination in Africa, Sacco immediately deleted her tweet and deleted her account.

                          But the incident also opened up a discussion on whether or not Sacco was the victim of cyberbullying.

                          This #HasJustineLandedYet proves one thing: humans never change. We love a good bloodbath.
                          Justine Sacco Tweet AIDS Africa Ignited the Internet
                          @greggutfeld
                          GregGutfeld
                          I'm pretty sure this is cyberbullying
                          Justine Sacco Tweet AIDS Africa Ignited the Internet
                          @jaredbkeller
                          Jared Keller
                          I wonder if people would feel regret if she committed suicide? Or is it all just a game? Just want to really stress this is cyberbullying.
                          Justine Sacco Tweet AIDS Africa Ignited the Internet
                          @MicahGrimes
                          Micah Grimes

                          Some even came to her defense, arguing she shouldn’t lose her job for a tasteless joke.

                          I don't think Justine's "a horrible person that needs to be punished". I think she's joked about something that should never be joked about.
                          Justine Sacco Tweet AIDS Africa Ignited the Internet
                          @Zac_R
                          Zac
                          Let's not get consumed by mob mentality and run her name through the mud. Rather focus on the subject she joked about. Not the tweet.
                          Justine Sacco Tweet AIDS Africa Ignited the Internet
                          @Zac_R
                          Zac

                          At the time of publication, it was not immediately clear if Sacco had faced any disciplinary action from IAC.

                          What do you think?

                          Follow Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) on Twitter

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                          • Obama Arrives in Hawaii for Winter Vacation
                            Posted December 21, 2013 at 7:18 am by Associated Press

                            Comments (192)

                            HONOLULU (AP) — President Barack Obama has arrived in Hawaii to kick off his annual winter vacation.

                            The president, first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia landed in Honolulu shortly before midnight. Their two dogs, Sunny and Bo, joined them aboard Air Force One.

                            Obama Arrives in Hawaii for Winter Vacation

                            President Barack Obama, right, waves while escorting the first lady Michelle Obama, left, to meet various well wishers after disembarking Air Force One at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Friday, Dec. 20, 2013, in Honolulu. (AP/Eugene Tanner)

                            Obama has no public events scheduled while he’s in Hawaii, where he was born. On previous trips, he’s enjoyed regular rounds of golf, local restaurants and family trips to get shave ice, a Hawaiian version of a snow cone.

                            Last year, gridlock in Congress forced Obama to return to Washington the day after Christmas. This year the Obamas are hoping their vacation will go uninterrupted.

                            The president is scheduled to be in Honolulu through Jan. 5.

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                            • What That Indy Teen Who Walked 10 Miles for a Job Interview in the Snow Is Doing Now
                              Posted December 20, 2013 at 11:59 pm by Liz Klimas

                              Comments (96)

                              Jhaquiel Reagan gained his 15 minutes of fame, and then some, earlier this year when his story about walking 10 miles to a job interview went viral. As his story spread nationwide, the country couldn’t seem to get enough of the work ethic the 19 year old exhibited, and he couldn’t hide his joy at being offered a job by the man who saw him walking and gave him a ride.

                              This was in February. Fast forward to present day, where Reagan has a new job, one that he feels is putting him on a path to own a successful business himself someday, and has welcomed a new baby into his family, another son that he’s hoping to raise with the same work ethic that made him famous.

                              jhaquil reagan_wxin

                              Jhaquiel Reagan shortly after the story of him walking 10 miles went viral. (Image source: WXIN-TV)

                              When Art Bouvier saw Reagan walking in Indianapolis on a freezing and snowy day to interview for a job, he not only offered to give him a ride, but offered him a job at Papa Roux, his New Orleans-style restaurant.

                              Watch this video from WXIN-TV that made Reagan a viral sensation:

                              Bouvier saw something in Reagan.

                              After Reagan’s story went viral, a man in Colorado working for Vemma, a nutrition company making the energy drink Verve among other products, saw this same something in Reagan.

                              Fred Soto, a man Reagan said is his mentor and business partner, called it grit.

                              After a few months of working at Papa Roux, Reagan decided to take up the opportunity offered by Vemma.

                              “I’m in a business where it’s not easy. Direct sales is not an easy business,” Soto told TheBlaze. “But there are people who succeed and the thing that’s a common denominator is grit. It’s almost like an X-factor.

                              “When you work with so many people, it’s easy to identify grit,” Soto said of Reagan.

                              Reagan flew out to Colorado for a couple months for training.

                              “We put him on a course to change who he is: put him on right path so that he can learn the necessary skill set,” Soto said. “He’s really going to turn some heads as he develops.”

                              At this point, Reagan said his role with Vemma is “about energy drinks and video links.” This business model involves Reagan talking with people he meets and asking if he can show them a promotional video about the company. If they’re interested in joining, Reagan said he takes their information and stays in contact with them.

                              “At the company’s core is our mission to help others by enhancing their well-being, and offering an income stream to people who introduce others to a product line they believe in,” the company video stated.

                              “My goal is to be an ambassador and be making a six figure income, and honestly my main goal is to help other kids my age see what I see and do what I do,” Reagan said. “I show people they can be successful and do better with their life.”

                              Learning his work ethic from his father, Reagan said he hopes to impart the same trait on his two sons.

                              “At age 13 or 14, I’d go to work with [my dad]. I saw how he ran his business. I’d go to meetings,” Reagan said. “I want to set my family up and be financially free for the rest of my life. Now that I have a newborn son, I want to encourage him to do the same.”

                              reagan baby and fiance

                              Reagan with his fiance and their newborn son. (Photo credit: Jhaquiel Reagan)

                              When asked about the perspective held by some that the younger generation is entitled and not accustomed to hard work, Reagan and Soto said they think this sentiment is shifting.

                              “I believe the current model — go to school, get good grades; go to college, get good grades; take out student loans; get a job — I think that model is antiquated,” Soto said. “I believe it’s a broken model. In this age demographic, these kids are realizing it’s a broken model.”

                              “I would say, personally, more and more people my age are trying and trying to work hard to earn a living than thinking they deserve something,” Reagan said. “When all that happened to me, I didn’t think I deserved it. I didn’t deserve the blessing that I got.”

                              Even though the viral attention changed various aspects of Reagan’s life, one thing has remained the same throughout.

                              “I don’t mind working my tail to the bone everyday,” he said.

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                              • This Guy Isn’t Going to Jail After Allegedly Beating a Woman – but What Victim Got Him to Do Instead Is Unforgettable
                                Posted December 20, 2013 at 11:36 pm by Dave Urbanski

                                Comments (86)

                                The young man’s unpleasant options were:

                                1. Get arrested and perhaps thrown in jail after being accused of beating a woman.

                                Or…

                                2. Sit all day in broad daylight at a busy intersection wearing a dunce cap and holding a humiliating sign.

                                Alisha Hessler gave Gabriel Urena the choice after she said he beat her last weekend.

                                Urena took option #2.

                                Alleged Attacker of Female Avoids Arrest After Wearing Dunce Cap and Holding Humiliating Scumbag Sign in Public

                                Image source: WVTV-TV

                                “I think it will teach him a lesson,” she told WTVT-TV in Tampa. “I think he’ll think twice about doing it again.”

                                Hessler, 20, told Tampa police she and two friends brought along Urena — whom Hessler said she didn’t know — for a night of clubbing. By the end of the night, Hessler said Urena was groping her in the back seat of a car, WFTS-TV in Tampa reported; when she refused his advances, she claimed he continued, so she hit him in order to get him to stop.

                                “I did hit him first and then all of a sudden that’s when he started beating me repeatedly, punching me,” Hessler told WTVT.

                                “We responded to her home. She did have visible injuries. The officer initiated a report for battery, and rescue personnel transported her to a local hospital,” Tampa Police spokeswoman Janelle McGregor told WTVJ-TV in Miramar, Fla.

                                Alleged Attacker of Female Avoids Arrest After Wearing Dunce Cap and Holding Humiliating Scumbag Sign in Public

                                Image source: WVTV

                                Then Hessler, who said she received a concussion and a broken nose, came up with a different approach.

                                Finding Urena on Facebook, she gave him an ultimatum. Either have charges pressed against you…or hold a huge sign in public that reads, “I BEAT WOMEN. HONK IF I’M A SCUMBAG.”

                                According to WTVT, Urena admitted off-camera that he was wrong and is sorry.

                                After the incident his Facebook page read: “Last night was a wakeup-call I seriously need change.” Today it says, “I’ve quit drinking and doing anything negative..its time for change.”

                                “I didn’t want him to be locked up for a year,” Hessler told WTVT. “I honestly don’t think that would teach him anything.”

                                Alleged Attacker of Female Avoids Arrest After Wearing Dunce Cap and Holding Humiliating Scumbag Sign in Public

                                Image source: WVTV

                                Mindy Murphy with the The Spring of Tampa Bay, an organization that helps prevent domestic violence and protects victims, told WTVT that Hessler’s ultimatum wasn’t the right approach.

                                Alleged Attacker of Female Avoids Arrest After Wearing Dunce Cap and Holding Humiliating Scumbag Sign in Public

                                Image source: WVTV

                                “There’s so many problems with this,” Murphy told WFTS. “Women die every day at the hands of abusers. Sexual assaults occur every day. The fact that we’ve got a guy sitting in a dunce cap with a sign on the side of the road really is trivializing a serious issue.”

                                Hessler has left detectives a telephone message saying she didn’t want to press charges, McGregor told WTVJ, although police said Hessler still must complete a complaint withdrawal form.

                                Here’s a report from WTVT:

                                FOX 13 News

                                Here’s a report from WFTS:

                                (H/T: The Daily Mail)

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                                • Family of Missing Illinois Woman Gets the Worst Possible News – What These Two Men Allegedly Did to Her Is Sick
                                  Posted December 20, 2013 at 10:08 pm by Dave Urbanski

                                  Comments (117)

                                  Two men have been charged with first degree murder, dismembering a human body, and concealment of a homicidal death after police said they found the body of a missing woman near a river.

                                  Two Men Charged with Murder, Dismemberment of Illinois Woman

                                  Image source: KSDK-TV

                                  Courtney Coats, 30, had been missing since about Thanksgiving from her home in Alton, Ill., a KSDK-TV news report said. Her dismembered body was discovered along the shoreline of the Illinois River in East Hardin, Ill., which is about 45 minutes northwest of Alton and 75 minutes north of St. Louis.

                                  Coats’ throat was slashed, and she was strangled, investigators told KSDK, adding that she was likely murdered inside her home.

                                  Patrick Chase, 28, and Brandon Chittum, 30, were charged in Coats’ murder. Chase was Coats’ live-in boyfriend and Chittum is Chase’s friend. Investigators told KSDK there was a history of domestic violence between Chase and Coats.

                                  Bond for each suspect was set at $1 million. A murder charge conviction carries a prison sentence of 20 to 60 years; the dismemberment charge carries a term of six to 30 years; the concealment charge brings another two to five years. The defendants must serve 100 percent of their sentences, KDSK reported.

                                  A KMOV-TV report noted that prosecutors will seek the maximum penalty for both suspects.

                                  Here’s a report from KSDK:

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                                  • Why Families of 9/11 Victims Are ‘Ecstatic’ They Can Finally Sue Saudi Arabia
                                    Posted December 20, 2013 at 9:30 pm by Jason Howerton

                                    Comments (59)

                                    Story by Associated Press; curated by Jason Howerton

                                    NEW YORK (AP) — A federal appeals court on Thursday reinstated Saudi Arabia as a defendant in lawsuits claiming it provided support to al-Qaeda before the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

                                    A three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said restoring Saudi Arabia was necessary to be consistent with a ruling by a different 2nd Circuit panel that allowed another lawsuit to go forward in which a man sued Afghanistan and other defendants for the death of his wife in the Sept. 11 attacks.

                                    “I’m ecstatic,” William Doyle, the father of Joseph Doyle, 25, a Cantor-Fitzgerald employee who was killed in the North Tower of the World Trade Center, told ABC News. “For 12 years we’ve been fighting to expose the people who financed those bastards.”

                                    Why Families of 9/11 Victims Are Ecstatic They Can Finally Sue Saudi Arabia

                                    In this Sept. 12, 2001 file photo, firefighters pour water on the still smoldering World Trade Center 7, left, in New York. Negligence was not the cause of the collapse of a third World Trade Center tower several hours after the twin towers were destroyed in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, a federal appeals court said Wednesday, absolving a developer and others of responsibility in the destruction of the 47-story building. (AP Photo/Nick Fanelli, File)

                                    The 2nd Circuit and a lower court had previously ruled that Saudi Arabia was protected by sovereign immunity, which generally means that foreign countries can’t be sued in American courts. But in its latest ruling, the 2nd Circuit said a legal exception existed that would allow Saudi Arabia to remain as a defendant, just as Afghanistan remained in the similar case.

                                    “The procedural history of this case produced inconsistent results between two sets of plaintiffs suing for damages based on the same incident,” the appeals court said in a decision written by Circuit Judge Chester J. Straub. “We conclude that the circumstances here are `extraordinary’ and warrant relief.”

                                    An attorney representing Saudi Arabia said the panel’s decision is “contrary to settled law” and will only result in a lower court throwing the case out for other reasons. The attorney cited the dismissal of identical allegations against other Saudi government agencies that the 2nd Circuit itself already upheld.

                                    “It is extremely unfortunate and burdensome that a sovereign nation and ally of the United States will continue to have to litigate this matter more than 10 years after it was filed,” attorney Michael Kellogg said.

                                    The lawsuits were brought in 2002 and afterward against countries, companies and organizations accused of aiding al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. They sought billions of dollars in damages.

                                    In the lawsuits, lawyers argued that the Sept. 11 attacks, which destroyed the World Trade Center and killed thousands of people, had been planned for years by a network of Islamic militants with the assistance of banks, governments and individuals.

                                    Lawyers in the Sept. 11 cases have frequently cited the report by the Sept. 11 Commission. Lawyers for the plaintiffs have said the commission supported their argument that Saudi Arabia had long been considered the primary source of al-Qaeda funding, while lawyers for Saudi Arabia have argued that the commission found no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded al-Qaeda.

                                    Kellogg said the panel’s decision has nothing to do with the merits of the plaintiffs’ claims.

                                    “The government of Saudi Arabia has long asserted, and the United States 9/11 Commission has found, that those allegations are categorically false,” Kellogg said.

                                    A lawyer for the plaintiffs called Thursday’s ruling “an eminently correct decision which brings these defendants back into the case and may finally give the 9/11 victims their day in court.”

                                    “We are confident in our ability to prove our case against them,” attorney Stephen Cozen said in an email.

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                                    • Just How Many Americans Are Standing With Phil Robertson? Inside the ‘Duck Dynasty’ Support Movement
                                      Posted December 20, 2013 at 9:00 pm by Billy Hallowell

                                      Comments (407)

                                      Furor continues over Phil Robertson’s suspension from A&E’s “Duck Dynasty,” with the family breaking its silence on Thursday to say that the show might not go on without the patriarch’s involvement.

                                      With uncertainty abounding, the “I Stand With Phil” movement continues to build, as hundreds of thousands of Christian consumers and free speech advocates urge the network to rethink its decision.

                                      Faith Driven Consumer, a project that rates just how “faith-friendly” popular retailers are, has taken center stage in the debate, launching IStandWithPhil.com, a website devoted to convincing A&E that reinstating Robertson is the right thing to do.

                                      TheBlaze interviewed founder Chris Stone to learn more about his goals in forging the effort.

                                      “A&E is eliminating the viewpoints of their Christian audience, and we stepped in to provide an opportunity for Faith Driven Consumers to be heard by A&E, and to claim their place in the American rainbow of diversity,” Stone told TheBlaze.

                                      Just How Many Americans Are Standing With Phil Robertson? Inside the Duck Dynasty Support Movement

                                      A screen shot from IStandWithPhil.com

                                      Stone said that Faith Driven Consumer expects that fans will continue to stand up against Robertson’s suspension and the limits that the network is placing on Christian fans’ “opportunity to experience the entertainment that they desire as consumers.”

                                      Already the response to the campaign has been monumental. In the past 24 hours, Faith Driven Consumer reports 1,300 phone calls, 32,000 text messages and more than 135,000 signatures on a petition aiming to have Robertson reinstated.

                                      Visitors to IStandWithPhil.com are encouraged to sign onto a letter that will be sent to A&E. It calls the network’s treatment of Robertson “intolerant, discriminatory, and punitive” and calls the reality show star’s comments about homosexuality, which he made in an interview with GQ Magazine, “reflective of a Biblical view of sexuality, marriage, and family.”

                                      In just one day, the group received two million page views on IStandWithPhil.com, with activity on social media surrounding the subject very literally exploding.

                                      “It is our job to ensure that in the marketplace of ideas, Christian consumers have a voice and a seat at the table,” Stone added. “That’s tolerance and diversity. We aren’t asking other folks to suspend their opinion; we are simply defending our right to have ours respected and included.”

                                      Regardless of whether Robertson is reinstated, Stone said that Faith Driven Consumer will continue to encourage religious consumers to support networks and brands that welcome and accommodate a Biblical worldview.

                                      Just How Many Americans Are Standing With Phil Robertson? Inside the Duck Dynasty Support Movement

                                      This publicity image released by A& E shows, from left, Phil Robertson, Si Robertson, and Jase Robertson in “Duck Dynasty,” airing Wednesdays at 10 p.m. EST. (Credit: Art Streiber /AP)

                                      “We would also expect Faith Driven Consumers to support whichever network picks up the show after A&E and support brands who sell products associated with the show,” he said.

                                      Stone’s group, which estimates that there are 46 million faith-based consumers in the U.S., recently released its annual “Faith Driven Consumer Christmas Guide,” a report that offers insight into companies that are seen as aligning with the Christian faith and those that need improvement.

                                      Its effort to support Robertson is the latest undertaking, predicated upon the notion that there are tens of millions of Americans who make consumer decisions based upon their faith. The massive response to Faith Driven Consumer’s “Duck Dynasty” petition shows the power that this segment of the marketplace can have over the national discussion.

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                                      • Judge Orders Calif. Hospital Not to Pull Plug on Teen After State Overruled Family’s Wishes to Keep Her Alive
                                        Posted December 20, 2013 at 8:28 pm by Associated Press

                                        Comments (79)

                                        OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — A judge on Friday ordered a California hospital to keep a girl declared brain dead on life support following what was supposed to be a routine tonsillectomy.

                                        The ruling by Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo came as both sides in the case agreed to get together and chose a neurologist to further examine 13-year-old Jahi McMath and determine her condition. Another hearing was set for Monday.

                                        Judge Orders Calif. Hospital Not to Pull Plug on Teen After State Overruled Familys Wishes to Keep Her Alive

                                        Nailah Winkfield, center, mother of 13-year-old Jahi McMath, places her hands to her face before a courtroom hearing regarding McMath, Friday, Dec. 20, 2013, in Oakland, Calif. McMath remains on life support at Children’s Hospital Oakland nearly a week after doctors declared her brain dead, following a supposedly routine tonsillectomy. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

                                        The girl’s family sought the court order to keep Jahi on a ventilator while the second opinion is sought. They left the courtroom without commenting.

                                        The family says doctors at Children’s Hospital Oakland wanted to disconnect life support after Jahi was declared brain dead on Dec. 12.

                                        After her daughter underwent a supposedly routine tonsillectomy and was moved to a recovery room, Nailah Winkfield began to fear something was going horribly wrong.

                                        Jahi was sitting up in bed, her hospital gown bloody, and holding a pink cup full of blood.

                                        “Is this normal?” Winkfield repeatedly asked nurses.

                                        With her family and hospital staff trying to help and comfort her, Jahi kept bleeding profusely for the next few hours then went into cardiac arrest, her mother said.

                                        Hospital officials said they couldn’t discuss the case because the family hasn’t given them permission to do so.

                                        In a statement late Thursday, Dr. David Durand, the hospital’s pediatrics chief, wrote of Jahi’s case: “We are unable – without the family’s permission – to talk about the medical procedure, background or any of the details that are a part of this tragedy.

                                        “We implore the family to allow the hospital to openly discuss what has occurred and to give us the necessary legal permission – which it has been withholding – that would bring clarity, and we believe, some measure of closure and deeper understanding of this medical case,” the doctor added.

                                        In an interview at Children’s Hospital Oakland on Thursday night, Winkfield described the nightmarish turn of events after her daughter underwent tonsil removal surgery to help with her sleep apnea.

                                        She said that even before the surgery, her daughter had expressed fears that she wouldn’t wake up after the operation. To everyone’s relief, she appeared alert, was talking and even ate a Popsicle afterward.

                                        But about a half-hour later, shortly after the girl was taken to the intensive care unit, she began bleeding from her mouth and nose despite efforts by hospital staff and her family.

                                        While the bleeding continued, Jahi wrote her mother notes. In one, the girl asked to have her nose wiped because she felt it running. Her mother said she didn’t want to scare her daughter by saying it was blood.

                                        Family members said there were containers of Jahi’s blood in the room, and hospital staff members were providing transfusions to counteract the blood loss.

                                        “I don’t know what a tonsillectomy is supposed to look like after you have it, but that blood was un-normal for anything,” Winkfield said.

                                        Judge Orders Calif. Hospital Not to Pull Plug on Teen After State Overruled Familys Wishes to Keep Her Alive

                                        Nailah Winkfield, mother of 13-year-old Jahi McMath, cries before a courtroom hearing regarding McMath, Friday, Dec. 20, 2013, in Oakland, Calif. McMath remains on life support at Children’s Hospital Oakland nearly a week after doctors declared her brain dead, following a supposedly routine tonsillectomy. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

                                        The family said hospital officials told them in a meeting Thursday that they want to take the girl off life support quickly.

                                        “I just looked at the doctor to his face and I told him you better not touch her,” Winkfield recalled.

                                        Hospitals do a barrage of sophisticated tests to determine brain death, said Dr. Cristobal Barrios, an associate professor and a trauma and critical care surgeon at the University of California, Irvine. He is not involved in Jahi’s care and spoke about general hospital protocols.

                                        The tests include touching a patient’s cornea to elicit a blink, moving a breathing tube to stimulate a gag reflex, tickling the back of the throat to bring on a cough, and applying pressure or pain.

                                        If the patient fails to respond to all of those tests, doctors remove the breathing tube for a few minutes. If there is any brain activity, the patient should begin breathing within a few minutes, he said.

                                        In some cases, doctors will also draw a blood sample, add radioactive tags and re-inject it into the body to track where it flows. If the blood doesn’t flow to the brain, Barrios said, there is no brain activity.

                                        Generally, two teams of specialists must run the tests and determine independently that the patient is brain dead, he said. At UC Irvine, those evaluations must take place 12 hours apart if the patient is a child.

                                        Barrios said it’s not unusual for family members to resist a diagnosis of brain death.

                                        While the hospital is not obligated to keep life support going after that diagnosis, Barrios has left brain dead patients hooked up for up to five days while family members move toward acceptance, he said.

                                        “I understand why sometimes for families it’s devastating and confusing,” he said.

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                                        • Want to Read a Top-Secret FBI Manual on Interrogation? Now You Can
                                          Posted December 20, 2013 at 8:00 pm by Dave Urbanski

                                          Comments (28)

                                          Let’s say over the previous four years you were charged with learning all about top-secret FBI interrogation procedures. Somehow, some way you had to get your hands on those impossible-to-get-your-hands-on documents.

                                          The problem, of course, is that such material is verboten to the general public.

                                          But not, in this particular case, when you waltz through the doors of the Library of Congress.

                                          That’s right. Since at least 2010, a 70-page top-secret document has been sitting in a Library of Congress government archive open to the public. A Mother Jones reporter claims to have reviewed the completely unredacted manual available there last week.

                                          Top Secret FBI Interrogation Manual Reportedly Available to the Public at Library of Congress Since 2010

                                          Image source: Shutterstock

                                          So how did this happen?

                                          The manual’s author — an FBI supervisory special agent who once worked as a unit chief in the bureau’s counterterrorism division — registered a copyright for the manual in 2010 and dropped off a copy at the U.S. Copyright Office, where members of the public can request to inspect it, Mother Jones said.

                                          A few more kickers:

                                          1. “A document that has not been released does not even need a copyright,” Steven Aftergood, a government secrecy expert at the Federation of American Scientists, told Mother Jones.

                                          “Who is going to plagiarize from it? Even if you wanted to, you couldn’t violate the copyright because you don’t have the document. It isn’t available.”

                                          “Do they not cover this in orientation? [Sensitive] documents should not be placed in public repositories—and, by the way, aren’t copyrightable,” added Julian Sanchez, a fellow with the Cato Institute who has studied copyright policy. “How do you even get a clearance without knowing this stuff?”

                                          2. The FBI agent who registered for the copyright did so under his own name, Mother Jones said — which translates to claiming the rights for himself, not the FBI.

                                          An FBI spokesman told Mother Jones the bureau is aware of the matter but “cannot provide any further information at this time regarding this subject.”

                                          3. After getting hounded for years by the American Civil Liberties Union, the FBI finally gave in and made available top-secret documents of this sort, including the manual in question.

                                          But the redacted interrogation manual released to the ACLU was dated February 23, 2011…which means an uncensored version was available to anybody at the Library of Congress at least a year earlier.

                                          (The version of the interrogation manual the agent deposited with the copyright office is dated August 18, 2008, Mother Jones reported, but it wasn’t filed until January 2010.)

                                          4. The Mother Jones reporter who inspected the unredacted manual at the Library of Congress reportedly compared it side-by-side to the redacted version, effectively deducing what content had been meant for the black-out pen. (And there was a good bit of that, Mother Jones noted, with entire pages covered over.)

                                          The copyright office doesn’t let readers take photos or notes, but the reporter noted that a few redactions were eye-opening:

                                          The ACLU has previously criticized the interrogation manual for endorsing the isolation of detainees and including favorable references to the KUBARK manual, a 1963 CIA interrogation guidebook that encouraged torture methods, including electric shocks. The group has also expressed concern that the manual adopts aspects of the Reid Technique, a common law enforcement interview method that has been known to produce false confessions. A redacted sentence in the manual says the document is intended for use by the FBI’s “clean” teams—investigators who collect information intended for use in federal prosecutions. That raises the question of whether teams collecting information that’s not for use in federal courts would have to follow the manual’s (already permissive) guidelines at all.

                                          Another section, blacked out in the version provided to the ACLU, encourages FBI agents to stage a “date-stamped full-body picture” of a detainee, complete with a bottle of water, for use in refuting abuse allegations at trial.

                                          “Security screwups are not very uncommon. But this is a first,” Aftergood said. “The whole thing is a comedy of errors. It sounds like gross incompetence and ignorance.”

                                          (H/T: Mother Jones)

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                                          • Here’s How the ‘Duck Dynasty’ Empire Has Been Impacted by Phil Robertson’s Remarks on Homosexuality
                                            Posted December 20, 2013 at 7:29 pm by Jason Howerton

                                            Comments (282)

                                            Walmart is selling out “Duck Dynasty” gear as fans flock to show their support of Phil Robertson and the show following the patriarch’s recent comments about homosexuality, the Daily Mail reports. While Forbes estimates that the Robertson family’s empire is worth about $400 million, Walmart sales make up about half of that.

                                            Even as reports surface that the family is “very serious” about ending the show, fans are apparently doing more than just voicing their support on various social media websites.

                                            “Walmarts sells a huge array of Duck Dynasty merchandise- from T-shirts to camo bedding, posters, watches, toy trucks, camo chairs, clothing, jewellery and even bottle openers,” the Daily Mail reports.

                                            Walmart Sells Out of Duck Dynasty Gear After Phil Robertson Comments on Homosexuality

                                            Walmart.com, screengrab via TheBlaze

                                            Walmart Sells Out of Duck Dynasty Gear After Phil Robertson Comments on Homosexuality

                                            Walmart.com, screengrab via TheBlaze

                                            Walmart Sells Out of Duck Dynasty Gear After Phil Robertson Comments on Homosexuality

                                            Walmart.com, screengrab via TheBlaze

                                            Walmart Sells Out of Duck Dynasty Gear After Phil Robertson Comments on Homosexuality

                                            Walmart.com, screengrab via the Daily Mail

                                            A Walmart spokeswoman declined to comment on the matter.

                                            A source also told the publication that an A&E publicist accompanied Robertson to the GQ interview, but wasn’t around when he questioned why a man would choose another man’s “anus” over a woman’s “vagina.” It’s not clear why that’s relevant as Robertson is not the kind of censor himself.

                                            Walmart Sells Out of Duck Dynasty Gear After Phil Robertson Comments on Homosexuality

                                            This 2012 photo released by A&E shows, from left, Phil Robertson, Jase Robertson, Si Robertson and Willie Robertson from the A&E series, “Duck Dynasty.” The A&E channel says “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson is off the show indefinitely after condemning gays as sinners in a magazine interview. In a statement Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013, A&E said it was extremely disappointed to read Robertson’s comments in GQ magazine. (AP Photo/A&E, Zach Dilgard)

                                            “That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical,” he said in the interview.

                                            Featured image via A&E

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                                            • Chris Matthews Surprises With Unexpected Pick for Biggest ‘Political Loser’ of 2013
                                              Posted December 20, 2013 at 7:03 pm by Jason Howerton

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                                              MSNBC host Chris Matthews, known for his over-the-top fondness for President Barack Obama, named the president the biggest “political loser” of 2013 on “Morning Joe” Friday. That’s quite a different distinction than a “perfect American,” which Matthews once gave Obama.

                                              “Terrible year for the president. I mean, it’s terrible,” he said.

                                              Joe Scarborough agreed that it has been a “terrible year” for Obama after there was “so much hope” following his second inauguration.

                                              “There’s another piece of it which you’re subtly getting at,” Matthews continued. “It’s not just that it’s a bad year in terms of the rollout. There’s an erosion in interest. It feels like a very long presidency now. It feels like the seventh or eighth year of a presidency. It doesn’t feel like the fifth.”

                                              “There wasn’t that rejuvenation that comes with re-election. There wasn’t any, certainly he was never going to get a honeymoon from the other side, but there was no sense of wow. And I think that’s hurt him a lot,” he concluded.

                                              Watch the MSNBC video via MRCTV below:

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                                              • Out-of-Control School Bus Full of 4th Graders — and No One Behind the Wheel — Threatens to Topple Over, and Then…
                                                Posted December 20, 2013 at 6:41 pm by Dave Urbanski

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                                                The sun peeked through the windows of the school bus as it sped down the road, its 26 fourth-grade passengers chattering and energetic. They had just completed a field trip at a wildlife preserve and were on their way back to their elementary school.

                                                Then the gut-wrenching moment.

                                                The bus sped through a stop sign without slowing down, according to The Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C., and after the driver tried making a left-hand turn, he was thrown to the floor. No one was behind the wheel.

                                                Quick Thinking Teachers Avert Possible School Bus Catastophe After Driver Thrown to Floor

                                                Image source: Surveillance video

                                                Not only that, the bus headed into a drainage ditch where it was poised to topple over, The Post and Courier said.

                                                That’s when Lee Morris, a sign-language interpreter who works with a student in the class, jumped to his feet from his first-row seat and grabbed the unmanned wheel. But while Morris got the direction of the bus under control, the driver’s position on the floor prevented him from reaching the brake.

                                                Enter fourth-grade teacher Amy Ryan, who climbed around the driver, got into the seat and brought the bus to a sudden stop. The engine was quickly turned off.

                                                Quick Thinking Teachers Avert Possible School Bus Catastophe After Driver Thrown to Floor

                                                Image source: Surveillance video

                                                Apart from some frazzled nerves and more than a few screams and tears, no one was hurt.

                                                “It sounds cliche, but you don’t think about what you’re doing,” Morris told the paper. “You see a situation and you react. I obviously saw (the driver) was on the floor, and we were not where we were supposed to be. You just jump up and do.”

                                                “It really felt like we were going to tip over,” Ryan said. “I honestly think it’s just instinct. I don’t remember thinking anything other than, ‘I just want the bus stopped.’”

                                                911 was called and students were unloaded from the bus where they waited for another bus to pick them up and resume the trip back to Charles Pinckney Elementary in Mt. Pleasant, about a half hour north of Charleston.

                                                Bus Driver Michael Hacker received traffic citations for driving too fast for conditions and not wearing a seat belt after the incident, which occurred about two weeks ago. There were no seat belts for students on the bus. Durham School Services, which runs district’s bus routes, told The Post and Courier that Hacker no longer works there.

                                                On surveillance video footage after the accident, Hacker can be heard saying he cannot find the keys and “we’re good,” apologizing to students, and saying that the brakes “didn’t want to work.”

                                                Suzanne Kaufman had gone on the field trip and was following the bus, which her son was on. She could see students crying through the bus’ back window.

                                                “They were about six inches from going over,” Kaufman said. “I know they were terrified, but I’m probably the only one who saw how close they were to toppling over.”

                                                Her son, Dustin, was on the side of the bus that would have hit the ground first, she told The Post and Courier.

                                                “I was just in disbelief and felt powerless,” she said. “There was nothing I could do. I kept saying to myself, ‘When is this going to stop?’”

                                                School Principal Leanne Sheppard said what Morris and Ryan did “really was putting their lives in jeopardy. They kept their composure and were so professional, not only in the moment, but afterward when they were soothing children and addressing their well-being.”

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                                                • Same-Sex Couples in Utah Getting Marriage Licenses After Judge Strikes Down Ban on Gay Marriage
                                                  Posted December 20, 2013 at 6:04 pm by Dave Urbanski

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                                                  Story by the Associated Press; curated by Dave Urbanski

                                                  Same Sex Couples in Utah Getting Marriage Licenses

                                                  Derek Kitchen, left, and his partner Moudi Sbeity, right, leave the Frank E. Moss United States Courthouse,Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013, in Salt Lake City. A challenge to Utah’s same-sex marriage ban by three gay couples was back in court Wednesday as a federal court judge heard arguments in a case being closely watched around the country. Kitchen and Sbeity are plaintiff’s in this case. (Image source: AP/Rick Bowmer)

                                                  SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A county clerk’s office in Utah is issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, just hours after a federal judge struck down Utah’s ban on gay marriages.

                                                  Salt Lake County Deputy Clerk Dahnelle Burton-Lee says the district attorney authorized her office to begin issuing the marriage licenses Friday.

                                                  She couldn’t immediately say how many licenses have been issued so far.

                                                  State Sen. Jim Dabakis, chairman of the Utah Democratic Party, was there with his longtime partner, Stephen Justesen, according to the Associated Press.

                                                  “I waited 27 years,” Dabakis said. “We didn’t want to get married until we could get married in Utah.”

                                                  Dabakis told the AP that people were rushing to get marriage licenses, fearing that the state will win a court order blocking them from being issued.

                                                  The ruling in Utah comes the same week New Mexico’s highest court legalized gay marriage after declaring it unconstitutional to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples. A new law passed in Hawaii last month now allows gay couples to marry there.

                                                  U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby ruled that a law passed by Utah voters in 2004 violates gay and lesbian couples’ rights to due process and equal protection under the 14th Amendment.

                                                  Shelby said the state failed to show that allowing same-sex marriages would affect opposite-sex marriages in any way.

                                                  The Utah attorney general’s office says it plans to issue a statement on the ruling later.

                                                  Here’s a KUTV-TV report in Salt Lake City from earlier this month on three couples who challenged Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage:

                                                  This post has been updated.

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                                                  • Air Force General Drank Excessively, Fraternized With Women & Misbehaved During Official Trip to Russia: Report
                                                    Posted December 20, 2013 at 5:37 pm by Oliver Darcy

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                                                    An Air Force general responsible for nuclear weapons consumed an excessive amount of alcohol, fraternized with “hot women” and behaved poorly to hosts during an official visit to Russia, according to an investigative report released Thursday.

                                                    Air Force General Drank Excessively, Fraternized With Women & Misbehaved During Official Trip to Russia: Report

                                                    This undated handout photo provided by the US Air Force shows Maj. Gen. Michael J. Carey. (AP Photo/US Air Force)

                                                    Maj. Gen. Michael Carey, who led the 20th Air Force responsible for three nuclear wings, “acted in a manner that exceeded the limits of accepted standards of good conduct,” an investigation conducted by the Air Force inspector general concluded.

                                                    The report details how Carey was drinking heavily during his official four day stay in Moscow and notes how him and a friend spent time with “two foreign national women,” only returning to their rooms in the early hours of the morning.

                                                    Carey later noted that the women even appeared suspicious.

                                                    “It just seemed kind of peculiar that we saw them one night and then saw them again later while we were there,” Carey told investigators, according to The Washington Post. “For people who are in business to be kind of conveniently in the same place where we’re at, it seemed odd to me.”

                                                    During a tour guide, the general also bragged about how he had “met two hot women the night before” and tried to fist bump the guide, according to the report.

                                                    “At one point, he tried to give her a fist bump,” the report says, based on a witness’s account. “She had no idea what he was trying to do. It was again, very, very embarrassing.”

                                                    “It was again, very, very embarrassing.”
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                                                    The 35-year veteran took command of the ICBM force, at 20th Air Force headquarters at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., in June 2012. He reportedly bragged about how he oversaw a nuclear arsenal, saying he “saves the world from war every day.”

                                                    As punishment, Carey was reassigned to the Air Force’s Space Command and received a “letter of counseling,” according to The Post.

                                                    “This was an unfortunate incident,” Gen. William L. Shelton, the chief of the Air Force’s Space Command, said in a statement, according to The Post. “Major General Carey has otherwise served the nation extremely well.”

                                                    Follow Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) on Twitter

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