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  • Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert Pleads Guilty in Hush-Money Case
    Posted October 28, 2015 at 10:11 am by Associated Press

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    Former U.S. Speaker Dennis Hastert has left a downtown Chicago federal courthouse after pleading guilty to a charge that he evaded banking laws.

    Hastert was surrounded by his attorneys and escorted by about half a dozen U.S. Marshals as he departed the courthouse on Wednesday morning. He was driven away in a black SUV.

    In this June 9, 2015 file photo, former House Speaker Dennis Hastert arrives at the federal courthouse, in Chicago for his arraignment on federal charges that he broke federal banking laws and lied about the money when questioned by the FBI. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

    In this June 9, 2015 file photo, former House Speaker Dennis Hastert arrives at the federal courthouse, in Chicago for his arraignment on federal charges that he broke federal banking laws and lied about the money when questioned by the FBI. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

    Judge Thomas M. Durkin scheduled the sentencing for Feb. 29 after the 73-year-old Republican entered his plea.

    A May indictment says Hastert agreed to pay $3.5 million to someone referred to only as “Individual A” to hide past misconduct. The Associated Press and other media have cited anonymous sources in reporting the payments were to conceal claims of sexual misconduct.

    This story has been updated.

  • Texans Voting on Very Texas Constitutional Amendment — as Well as Six Others
    Posted October 28, 2015 at 10:06 am by Kaitlyn Schallhorn

    Comments (36)

    Until Friday, Texans will have the opportunity to participate in early voting on seven new state constitutional amendments — including an amendment that would protect their right to hunt.

    According to KLTV, Texas has the highest number of paid hunting license holders in 2015. One of the seven proposed amendments in the state includes one that would guarantee Texans the right to fish and hunt in the state — something many didn’t know wasn’t already a right.

    “I don’t like that we have to vote on something like that, that should be a natural right in my opinion to be able to provide for yourself and your family and others around you,” Logan Doherty told KLTV.

    Image source: KLTV

    Image source: KLTV

    Shawn Wilson told KLTV that as a hunter he approves of the proposition especially as property owners oftentimes need to protect their land from wild animals such as hogs.

    “They’ll come in and just destroy fields, habitats where our cows are at and other animals,” Wilson said. “And so we’re doing that to remove that, but at the same time we get to have a good time, and we also can bring home meat.”

    However, opponents to the proposition argue that it could endanger more vulnerable animals. According to KLTV, the amendment would not change any licenses or permits, and hunters who violate the law would still face repercussions, including having the right to hunt stripped away.

    If the proposition passes, Texas would become the 18th state to have such an amendment. Other amendments on the ballot include: repealing a previous amendment that required state elected officials to reside in the state capital; allowing professional sports teams’ charitable foundations to conduct charitable raffles; and authorizing counties with a certain population to commission private road construction and maintenance.

    (H/T: KLTV)

  • Donald Trump’s Surprise Personal Promise to Wounded Veteran in Audience Gets Major Applause: ‘Unbelievable’
    Posted October 28, 2015 at 9:49 am by Jon Street

    Comments (192)

    Donald Trump made a surprise promise to the a wounded veteran and his family at a campaign rally in Iowa on Tuesday followed by thunderous applause by the crowd.

    Trump was taking questions from supporters in Sioux City, Iowa, when he called on a wounded veteran named Todd. The veteran explained his frustrations he’s experienced with the Department of Veterans Affairs following his 21 years of active service in the Army.

    Image source: YouTube

    Image source: YouTube

    “With the current administration, warrior care is lacking to say the least, and especially post-service,” Todd said to Trump. “What will the Trump administration do better than the Obama administration?”

    Todd’s wife went on to explain how they’ve been unable to get an appointment so that Todd can receive the care that he needs. Trump responded by not only promising to fix the problems as president, but also by making a surprise promise that could have an even more immediate impact.

    The billionaire businessman then instructed the family to write down their information and give it to him so he can help.

    “You’re going to write out your card, and I am going to put pressure on the VA like you won’t believe,” Trump said to major applause from the crowd. “As president, I can guarantee it. As Trump I can say, ‘I’ll probably be able to pull it off anyway.’”

    As president, I can guarantee it. As Trump I can say I’ll probably be able to pull it off anyway.
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    The Republican presidential candidate also laid out what he would do as president to fix the VA.

    “The waits are unbelievable,” Trump said. Five, six, seven days sometimes.”

    Trump said that, as president, he would allow veterans to get care from their private doctors at the government’s expense if they can’t get an appointment with the VA. Trump said that would end up costing less money and patients would end up getting better care.

    See the moment when Trump surprises the wounded veteran’s family:

    (H/T: Red State Watcher)

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  • Royals’ Lorenzo Cain Bought America Breakfast With Stolen Base in World Series
    Posted October 28, 2015 at 9:48 am by Mike Opelka

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    Thanks to a stolen base from Kansas City Royals outfielder Lorenzo Cain in Tuesday night’s Game 1 of the World Series, America can enjoy a free breakfast from Taco Bell next week.

    Image source: Taco Bell

    Image source: Taco Bell

    The World Series opener was a 14-inning nail biter with the Kansas City Royals taking Game 1 from the New York Mets, 5-4.

    For the non-fan, the best news of the night was Cain’s successful steal of second base in the bottom of the sixth inning.

    Taco Bell announced the accomplishment via Twitter.

    Cain was also reportedly aware of what he had done.


     

    At an average cost of $2.50 per A.M. Crunchwrap, if every American visited a Taco Bell on the morning of Nov. 5, the cost to the company would be more than $750 million.

    However, it is unlikely Taco Bell will be on the hook for that much money. In fact, there are limits on how many free breakfasts can be distributed. Inside the contest’s rules and restrictions you can see the three magic words, “while supplies last.”
    __

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  • One of Florida’s Largest Newspapers Demands Rubio Either Do His Job or ‘Resign It’ — Here’s Why
    Posted October 28, 2015 at 9:32 am by Fred Lucas

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    The South Florida Sun-Sentinel has called on Florida Sen. Marco Rubio to resign from the U.S. Senate for having missed so many votes while seeking the Republican presidential nomination, asserting, “You are ripping us off, senator.”

    This comes even though an analysis posted Monday found Rubio missed fewer votes than either former Democratic Sens. Hillary Clinton (N.Y.) or Barack Obama (Ill.) missed in the 2008 election cycle.

    “By choosing to stay in the Senate and get the publicity, perks and pay that go with the position — without doing the work — you are taking advantage of us,” the Sun-Sentinel editorial board wrote. “Your job is to represent Floridians in the Senate. Either do your job, Sen. Rubio, or resign it.”

    Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) speaks at Civic Hall about the 'sharing economy' on October 6, 2015 in New York City. Rubio, who has been experiencing a slight uptick in the polls after strong debate performances, has a second book out in paperback this Tuesday called American Dream: Restoring Economic Opportunity for Everyone. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

    Republican presidential candidate Florida Sen. Marco Rubio speaks at Civic Hall on Oct. 6 in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

    The newspaper pointed out that Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, also seeking the Republican presidential nomination, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, seeking the Democratic nomination, missed only 10 votes while campaigning. That’s compared to Rubio who missed 59 votes, including big votes on the Keystone pipeline and the Export-Import Bank.

    “Rubio has missed more votes than any other senator this year. His seat is regularly empty for floor votes, committee meetings and intelligence briefings,” the Sun-Sentinel said. “He says he’s MIA from his J-O-B because he finds it frustrating and wants to be president, instead.”

    Though some of his current GOP rivals could make an issue of this in the Wednesday Republican presidential debate, Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton will have a difficult time raising the matter.

    Rubio missed 44.6 percent of his votes since announcing his presidential campaign and had a 53.8 percent absence rate in the third quarter of 2015, according to a Daily Mail analysis.

    That same analysis found that Hillary Clinton missed 83.5 percent of Senate votes in the final quarter of 2007, when she was campaigning for president, according to the analysis.

    President Obama, as a candidate, missed 56.3 percent of his votes in the third quarter of 2007 and 89.4 percent of his Senate votes in the final quarter. As the Democratic presidential nominee, Obama missed 64.3 percent of his Senate votes, according to the Daily Mail. Nevertheless, the Sun-Sentinel endorsed Obama for president in 2008, then switched its support to Republican Mitt Romney in 2012.

  • Beyond Disturbing: The Jared Fogle Tapes Set to Air on ‘Dr. Phil’
    Posted October 28, 2015 at 9:28 am by Dave Urbanski

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    Ex-Subway spokesman Jared Fogle described his sexual desires for young children on secretly recorded audio tapes as well as the lengths to which he would go to live them out.

    Jared Fogle attends the Better Breakfast Battle at Times Square Studios on May 26, 2011 in New York City. (Ben Gabbe/Getty Images)

    Jared Fogle attends the Better Breakfast Battle at Times Square Studios on May 26, 2011 in New York City. (Ben Gabbe/Getty Images)

    “I would fly us clear across the world if we need to. To Thailand or wherever we want to go. If we’re gonna try to get some young kids with us it would be a lot easier,” Fogle told Rochelle Herman-Walrond, a former journalist who recorded telephone conversations with him.

    Portions of those tapes are set to air on the “Dr. Phil” program Thursday and Friday as Herman-Walrond discusses what led her to befriend Fogle and expose his crimes.

    (Image source: YouTube)

    Rochelle Herman-Walrond (Image source: YouTube)

    Herman-Walrond said alarms went off in her head when Fogle was a guest on her Florida radio program in 2006 and said he found middle school girls attractive. She said she began a friendship with Fogle to see if he would say more — and when he did, Herman-Walrond contacted the FBI.

    In the end, Herman-Walrond spent five years “role playing” and secretly recording conversations with Fogle to use as evidence against him.

    “I’m removing myself from who I am and embracing an imaginary person,” she told Dr. Phil. “I had to be two separate people in order to continue on with this investigation.”

    Fogle even asked Herman-Walrond if victims could be acquired through her children’s friends. “Are there any of your kids’ friends that you think are pretty hot?” he asked her on tape, as well as, “What if we put a camera in your kids’ room, would they be okay with that?”

    Fogle, 38 and a father of two, agreed in August to plead guilty to engaging in sex acts with minors and receiving child pornography. He’s paid $100,000 each to 10 of his 14 victims and could receive up to 12 years in prison. His wife Katie indicated she intends to file for divorce.

    (H/T: New York Post)

    Follow Dave Urbanski (@DaveVUrbanski) on Twitter

  • Stunned Greta Van Susteren ‘Hardly Knows What to Say’ After Hearing MSNBC Host’s ‘Hard Worker’ Rebuke: ‘That’s Really Out There’
    Posted October 28, 2015 at 9:16 am by Billy Hallowell

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    Fox News host Greta Van Susteren lambasted MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry for warning a guest on Saturday to “be super careful” when using the term “hard worker.”

    “Now, what could possibly be wrong with the description ‘hard worker,’ right?” Van Susteren rhetorically asked, before playing a clip of Harris-Perry’s remarks during Tuesday night’s “On the Record.”

    “I just want to pause on one thing, because I don’t disagree with you that I actually think Mr. Ryan is a great choice for this role,” Harris-Perry said to a guest who had called Republican Rep. Paul Ryan a “hard worker.” “But I want us to be super careful when we use the language ‘hard worker.’ Because I actually keep an image of folks working in cotton fields on my office wall … it is a reminder about what hard work looks like.”

    Van Susteren expressed her confusion over her remarks, though, wondering if Harris-Perry was claiming that using the term is racist.

    “I hardly know what to say. If she’s suggesting that the description hard worker might be racist?” Van Susteren said. “If she is, that’s really out there.”

    Watch Van Susteren‘s response below:

    Van Susteren then went on to say that working in TV is easy, praising police officers, a firefighters, teachers, the military and paramedics as real-life examples of hard workers. That said, Van Susteren argued that TV hosts do have an important responsibility.

    “Those of us on TV do have a responsibility not to be completely ridiculous, like getting all fussed up over the use of the description hard worker,” she said. “Where I grew up, it’s not a slur, it’s a compliment.”

    We’ll leave you with the full Harris-Perry clip below:

    (H/T: Mediaite)

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  • Stephen Colbert Grills Hillary Clinton on Her ‘Young Republican’ Past and Vow to Let the Big Banks ‘Fail’
    Posted October 28, 2015 at 9:12 am by Kaitlyn Schallhorn

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    When Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton appeared on “The Late Show” Tuesday evening, host Stephen Colbert didn’t miss an opportunity to bring up something from her past — her stint as president of her college’s Young Republicans chapter.

    Clinton, who served as the president of the Young Republicans at Wellesley College during her first year, appeared on the show the day after her birthday. As she and Colbert discussed her upbringing, she told Colbert that the “gender-gap in politics” for her began in her home while she grew up.

    Hillary Clinton speaks with Stephen Colbert on CBS' "The Late Show" on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2015. (Image source: YouTube)

    Hillary Clinton speaks with Stephen Colbert on CBS’ “The Late Show” on Tuesday, Oct. 27. (Image source: YouTube)

    “My father was a small-business man and a Republican, and he was very staunch in his views, and we would have lots of discussions around the kitchen table. My mother, who had a much different upbringing and was just a wonderful person but had been abandoned by her parents and was working as a housemaid when she was 14, so she came at politics in life with a much more broader perspective,” Clinton, 68, said. “So I would be in the middle of these great discussions. I went to college on my dad’s side, that’s right, as a Young Republican, and then one day, I just kind of looked around and thought, ‘I need to think about this some more and come up with my own views.’”

    Colbert also grilled Clinton, the fifth 2016 presidential candidate to appear on his show, on her financial plans — specifically her plans with big banks. The nighttime talk show host asked her if she would let the banks fail if she were in charge.

    “Yes,” Clinton said repeatedly.

    “They have to know, their shareholders have to know, that yes they will fail,” Clinton continued. “And if they’re too big to fail, then under my plan and others that have been proposed, they may have to be broken up, because if you can’t manage it, than it’s more likely to fail.”

    Clinton told Colbert that she planned, as president, to “reign in the abuses in the financial system, particularly on Wall Street,” which she said has contributed to problems within the U.S. economy.

  • 435 Earthquakes and Counting — California City Experiences Swarm of Tremors
    Posted October 28, 2015 at 8:35 am by Liz Klimas

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    A suburb of the San Francisco Bay area has seen a swarm of earthquakes in recent weeks that has some wondering if it has set a new record.

    According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the city of San Ramon has experienced 435 earthquakes and counting in the last two weeks. They’ve been small and have not caused any damage or injuries, but still, that many shakes add up to the city experiencing more than one earthquake per hour of each day since Oct. 13.

    USGS  geophysicist Brad Aagaard said most the small earthquakes them have ranged from magnitudes-2.0 to -3.0. The largest was a magnitude-3.6 on Oct. 19. To put that into perspective, the earthquake in Afghanistan earlier this week, which resulted in at least 385 deaths, was a 7.5 magnitude on the Richter scale.

    The earthquake swarm is occurring in the San Ramon area. (Image source: KNTV-TV)

    The earthquake swarm is occurring in the San Ramon area. (Image source: KNTV-TV)

    San Ramon and other nearby cities sit on the Calaveras Fault, making them prone to such earthquake swarms. The USGS said they’re not cause for extra concern and unlikely to lead to a large, damaging quake.

    Based on other swarms, the agency predicts that the series of quakes may persist for several more weeks.

    Even though they’re small, residents said they’ve been able to feel them.

    “I’ve not felt so many tremors in decades,” Mark Stone told KNTV-TV.

    The news station reported that based on USGS data, the Calaveras Fault has not produced a significant earthquake since the 1860s and it has a small likelihood of producing a quake larger than 6.7 magnitude.

    Watch KNTV’s report:

    And as for this current swarm being a record, at this point USGS spokeswoman Leslie Gordon noted to the San Francisco Chronicle that it’s difficult to compare the current data to historical records because there is a “difference in the record keeping.”

    USGS geologist David Schwartz went on to explain that scientists are able to detect and record much smaller earthquakes now. So when comparing the number to historical records, they’re only counting earthquakes of 2.0 and higher.

    “We want to compare apples to apples,” he told the Chronicle.

    Still, KTVT reported that this swarm beats the previous one in Alamo, a neighboring city, which had 351 earthquakes in 42 days in 1990.

    Last week, a study by NASA and university researchers reported a 99.9 percent chance of a magnitude-5 or greater earthquake striking within three years in the greater Los Angeles area, where a similar sized temblor caused more than $12 million in damage in 2014.

    Study leader Andrea Donnellan, a geophysicist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said the research is not a prediction. “It’s a statistical probability that we computed,” she said in an interview with the Associated Press.

    USGS took issue with the study, asserting that it was unclear how the study derived its numbers and that the accepted probability is 85 percent.

    Responding to the criticism, Donnellan said the study’s references to other scientific papers would allow other researchers to reconstruct the process.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.  Front page image via Shutterstock.

  • Morgan Freeman Embarks on ‘Personal and Enduring Quest’ to Understand ‘One of the Greatest Mysteries’ of All-Time: God
    Posted October 28, 2015 at 8:35 am by Sharona Schwartz

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    He played God in the films “Bruce Almighty” and “Evan Almighty.”

    Now, Morgan Freeman is visiting religious sites around the world for the National Geographic faith series “The Story of God” which will explore the mysteries of the divine, creation and miracles.

    On a shoot Wednesday at Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre, believed by Christians to be the site of Jesus’ burial and resurrection, Freeman told Reuters that he hadn’t “found any answers yet.”

    “I’m primarily interested in why, what is the why of it,” Freeman told Reuters during a break in shooting the series in which he stars and serves as executive producer.

    “I haven’t found any answers yet. We’re still in production,” the Academy Award-winning actor said.

    On Sunday, Freeman visited Jerusalem’s Western Wall.

    And last week, he was shooting at Egypt’s pyramids at Giza.

    Actor Morgan Freeman, left, is welcomed by Egyptian Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou, as he visits the Giza Pyramids, just outside Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Oct. 23, 2015. Freeman is in Egypt to work on a National Geographic documentary titled, "The Story of God." (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

    Actor Morgan Freeman, left, is welcomed by Egyptian Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou, as he visits the Giza Pyramids, just outside Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Oct. 23, 2015. Freeman is in Egypt to work on a National Geographic documentary titled, “The Story of God.” (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

    When the documentary series was announced in June, Freeman was quoted by Variety describing the search for the divine as a personal quest.

    “The story of God is one of the greatest mysteries and most important ideas in the world,” Freeman said. “For me, this is a personal and enduring quest to understand the divine, and I am humbled by the opportunity to take viewers along on this incredible journey.”

    Variety described the series as an “epic exploration” to reflect on God as Freeman travels to key religious sites – including in Israel, Egypt, India, Guatemala and other locations – to experience faith rituals.

    Freeman declined to comment Wednesday on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    “I don’t have a message for anybody. No, we’re just here doing a documentary,” he told Reuters.

    The program, produced for National Geographic Channel by Revelations Entertainment – the production company where Freeman serves as president – is scheduled to air in 2016 in the U.S. and 171 countries in 45 languages, Variety reported.

  • Homeowner Hears ‘Kaboom’ — and Is Flabbergasted When She Discovers the Cause on Her Roof
    Posted October 28, 2015 at 8:26 am by Jon Street

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    WOODHULL TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — When Joyce Kingsley heard “kaboom” while at her Michigan home, she immediately thought about extreme weather.

    The 83-year-old needed to look up: A Ford Mustang was parked on the roof of her home after the driver had a medical problem Monday and lost control on Interstate 69 in Shiawassee County.

    Image source: Michigan State Police

    Image source: Michigan State Police

    Image source: Michigan State Police

    Image source: Michigan State Police

    Kingsley’s home about 20 miles northeast of Lansing is built next to a hill, and the roof is nearly level with the ground, The Argus-Press of Owosso reported.

    “I was just watching TV inside. I had it up pretty loud – but this was much louder,” Kingsley said.

    State police said the Mustang went through several bushes, trees and a fence before stopping on the roof. The driver was treated for low blood sugar but wasn’t hurt.

    “The driver is extremely lucky,” Trooper Ben Rowell said.

    Kingsley plans to put a tarp over the damaged roof until it can be fixed.

    “It could’ve been a lot worse,” she said. “I’m glad everyone is all right.”

  • Wedding Venue Was Forced to Close After Furor Over Refusal to Host Gay Ceremony — but Here’s What Has Left Former Owners Feeling ‘Pretty Tickled’
    Posted October 28, 2015 at 7:45 am by Billy Hallowell

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    A former one-stop wedding venue, gallery, restaurant and flower shop in Grimes, Iowa, that recently stood at the center over an intense gay marriage battle has officially closed its doors, with the building slated to reopen as as Christian church on Sunday.

    Betty and Dick Odgaard closed the doors of their Görtz Haus Gallery this past summer after a national debate over their refusal to allow a gay couple to marry there. On Sunday, the building that hosted their business for 13 years will reopen with an entirely new purpose.

    The Odgaards sold the building to Harvest Bible Church, a house of worship that the husband and wife have been attending for the past nine months, the Des Moines Register reported.

    “If it can’t be a gallery anymore, this is the next best thing,” Betty Odgaard told the outlet. “We’re pretty tickled.”

    Harvest Bible Church pastor Ryan Jorgenson said that the building has been remodeled and that he’s hoping that the church — which is currently comprised of more than 170 members — will double in size in the upcoming months.

    “We’ll kind of outgrow it hopefully in a few years,” he told the Des Moines Register. “It’s hard to tell. I know it’s not our permanent home.”

    As TheBlaze previously reported, the sale of the building followed furor over the Odgaards’ decision to turn away gay couple Lee Stafford and his fiancé Jared Ellars in 2013 — an incident that resulted in a very public battle and a $5,000 settlement payout to the same-sex couple.

    The Odgaards have since launched God’s Original Design Ministry, a 501(c)(3) organization that will post billboards across the U.S. in an effort to defend traditional marriage as an institution that is comprised of only one man and one woman.

    They unveiled their first billboard in Durant, Oklahoma, on July 24 — a 14-foot-by-48-foot placard with a message that reads, “Marriage =” and then an image of a man, a plus sign and a picture of a woman. A quote under those images is attributed to God and says, “Please…I need your help with this.”

    God's Original Design Ministry

    God’s Original Design Ministry

    Another billboard was erected in Eloy, Arizona, as well, with plans for a third in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Odgaards told TheBlaze over the summer that they hope to raise enough money to be able to place nearly 1,000 additional messages across America.

    Betty Odgaard had previously said in June that the couple had hoped their church would be able to rent the space; the building was previously a church before it was purchased to become a gallery and business establishment.

    “If all goes as planned it will be a church again — and as it so happens, the church we attend,” she said at the time. “Ain’t [God] awesome?”

    Before announcing their closure, the Odgaards decided to stop hosting all wedding ceremonies rather than abide by a government mandate that they accommodate same-sex ceremonies; the remaining business activity, though, wasn’t enough to keep the doors open.

    “Our case had everything to do with our closing. Once we could no longer host weddings it was only a matter of time,” Odgaard said over the summer. “The lunch business had already decreased substantially due to boycotts and all the slander and black eye now on Görtz Haus.”

    Listen to Betty and Dick Odgaard discuss their struggles during an April episode of “The Church Boys” (interview starts at the 36:00 mark):

    Front page image via Shutterstock.com.

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  • ‘A Boom and Sparks’: Drone Crash Downs Electrical Line in California, Hundreds Lost Power
    Posted October 28, 2015 at 7:25 am by Liz Klimas

    Comments (48)

    Over 600 people were temporarily without power in California after a hobbyist drone flew into an electrical line Monday afternoon.

    The incident affected 647 Southern California Edison customers in West Hollywood, according to KABC-TV.  Local authorities received many 911 calls regarding the unmanned aerial vehicle flying into and downing a power line.

    “All the sudden you just see a flash, like a boom and sparks, and you could see the drone dropping to the ground,” KABC producer Chris Gordon, who witnessed the incident, said.

    Power was restored within a few hours, according to KABC.

    Watch the news station’s report:

     Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Lt. Edward Ramirez told the L.A. Times this is the first time he’s heard of a drone flying into a power line, but, overall, other objects doing just that are not unusual.

    “We’re accustomed to a variety of items in the line – from small animals to big animals … mylar balloons. It’s always an area of concern,” Villegas told the newspaper.

    According to the Times, authorities were still searching for the drone’s operator.

    Earlier this month, the Federal Aviation Administration announced that it is in the process of establishing a required drone registration system. FAA chief Michel Huerta said last week that recent reports of drone sightings from airplane pilots have been “troubling.” The FAA believes registration will help them identify operators of UAVs when they break the law.

    “When they don’t fly safely, they’ll know there will be consequences,” Huerta said.

    In other drone news, prison officials at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary are investigating after a drone carrying drugs, hacksaw blades and a cellphone was found crashed on the prison grounds this week.

    Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Robert Patton said staff at the prison discovered the drone Monday morning after it apparently crashed after clipping some razor wire.

    A package connected to the drone with fishing wire contained 5 ounces of marijuana, two hacksaw blades, a cellphone and accessories, cigarettes, cigars, glue, methamphetamines and heroin.

    Patton said the agency has notified officials at other prisons to be on the lookout for similar efforts to smuggle contraband.

    The Oklahoma State Penitentiary at McAlester houses some of the state’s most violent and dangerous offenders, including Oklahoma’s death row.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report. Front page image via Shutterstock.

  • Poll: Americans Slightly More Inclined to Favor Stricter Gun Control
    Posted October 28, 2015 at 6:32 am by Liz Klimas

    Comments (100)

    WASHINGTON (TheBlaze/AP) — After a steady string of mass shootings and a revival of the political fight over gun control, Americans are slightly more likely than they were two years ago to say gun laws should be made stricter, a new Associated Press-GfK poll found.

    Despite the uptick in favor of tighter gun laws, Americans remain deeply divided along party, gender and geographic lines on an issue that has ricocheted into the presidential campaign. Eight in 10 Democrats favor stricter gun laws, while 6 in 10 Republicans want them left as they are or loosened.

    Still, the results show the calls for tighter laws have some bipartisan appeal, with 37 percent of Republicans, including 31 percent of conservative Republicans, favoring stricter gun laws.

    In this Monday, July 7, 2014, file photo, Chicago police display some of the thousands of illegal firearms they have confiscated so far this year in their battle against gun violence in Chicago. The recent mass shooting at an Oregon community college has put the debate over gun violence and gun control into the center of the presidential race. At least some of the Republicans who are running have pointed to Chicago as proof that gun control laws don't work.  (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green))

    In this Monday, July 7, 2014, file photo, Chicago police display some of the thousands of illegal firearms they have confiscated so far this year in their battle against gun violence in Chicago. The recent mass shooting at an Oregon community college has put the debate over gun violence and gun control into the center of the presidential race. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green))

    The new poll was taken two weeks after the shooting rampage at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, thrust the discussion of gun control into the country’s attention and the presidential campaign. Polls regularly find a rise in support for tighter gun laws after such shootings – although that support often levels off as the headlines fade.

    In December 2013, one year after a mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., 52 percent of Americans said gun laws should be made tighter. That number was 58 percent in the new poll, while 27 percent said they think laws should be left as they are and 12 percent favored making gun laws less strict.

    Over a third of Americans said gun laws should be made much stricter, up from 29 percent who said so in the 2013 poll.

    And they were slightly less inclined to see laws limiting gun ownership as an infringement on the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms. Forty-five percent saw such laws as an infringement; 51 percent did not. In the 2013 poll, 50 percent said gun laws infringe on the right to bear arms and 47 percent said they did not.

    Gun control has become one of the top issues in the Democratic presidential primary, as front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton has promised to take executive action to expand background checks and accused Republicans of bowing to the powerful gun lobby. President Barack Obama has said he plans to use his bully pulpit to press lawmakers to pass tougher laws, although there’s little sign of momentum in the Republican-run Congress.

    On Tuesday, Obama, speaking in Chicago to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, said he did not want people to “believe this notion that somehow I’m out to take everyone’s guns away.”

    “Nobody is doing that,” the president added. “We’re talking about commonsense measures to make sure that criminals don’t get them, to make sure we are protecting ourselves.”

    The poll finds Democratic politicians are in line with their party’s loyalists. Democrats are more likely than Republicans – 69 percent to 55 percent – to say gun laws are very or extremely important to them.

    “The idea of being able to have a concealed weapon on a college campus is frightening to me, absolutely frightening to me,” said Mary Robins, a retired career counselor in Menlo Park, California, who said she favored a ban on assault-type weapons and restricting access to large magazines.

    Robins was among the 66 percent of women who said gun laws should be made stricter, compared with 50 percent of men. Women also were more likely to give the issue high priority.

    “I think we need to enforce the ones we have and prosecutors and judges should be getting tougher,” said Harry Masse, a 59-year-old police chief in Metropolis, Illinois.

    In this photo taken Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015 in Cary, N.C., gun-control activist Kim Yaman wears a Moms Demand Action button. Yaman and her children survived a mass shooting at a university in 1991, and she became active in gun-control efforts after the Newtown shooting. (AP/Gerry Broome)

    In this photo taken Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015 in Cary, N.C., gun-control activist Kim Yaman wears a Moms Demand Action button. Yaman and her children survived a mass shooting at a university in 1991, and she became active in gun-control efforts after the Newtown shooting. (AP/Gerry Broome)

    City and suburban dwellers are more likely to back tighter laws than rural Americans.

    Americans are equally divided over which party they trust to do a better job handling the issue. Twenty-nine percent say they trust the Republicans more and 27 percent trust the Democrats more, while 13 percent say they trust both equally. An additional 30 percent say they trust neither party on handling the issue.

    Obama received notably tough marks on the issue, even from some in his own party. The president made a push for a tighter gun laws in 2013, but failed to persuade Congress. He then issued several executive actions, but until recently has sidelined the issue. Six in 10 Americans disapprove of his handling of the issue, the new poll finds, including 35 percent of Democrats.

    “I don’t think he’s done enough,” said Ryan Dupont, a college professor in from Smithfield, Utah. He said he understands Obama must work with “less-than-ideal” people in Congress but “I think that issue needs to be moved more aggressively.”

    Unchanged since 2013 is the share of Americans living in a household where at least one person owns a gun – about one-third. About half of Republicans live in households with a gun, compared with less than a third of Democrats or independents.

    The AP-GfK Poll of 1,027 adults was conducted online Oct. 15 to Oct. 19, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

    Respondents were first selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

  • When You See Green Room Assigned to Rand Paul for Debate, You Might Understand Why Campaign Is Upset
    Posted October 28, 2015 at 3:51 am by Oliver Darcy

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    The Rand Paul campaign was up in arms Tuesday night after aides got their first glance at the green room the Kentucky senator was assigned to ahead of the CNBC debate.

    Chris LaCivita, a senior adviser and strategist for Paul, shared photos of the Republican 2016 hopeful’s assigned green room, juxtaposed next to the areas other campaigns were assigned.

    Trump’s assigned space resembled a presidential suite, while Paul’s looked more like a closet with a small bathroom.

    Carly Fiorina had a jacuzzi in her space.

    Florida Sen. Marco Rubio appeared to have a theater in his.

    According to Politico, members of Paul’s campaign were not the only ones infuriated with the green room assignments.

    “This is ridiculous,” Gov. Chris Christie’s campaign manager Ken McKay reportedly said. “We’re in a restroom.”

    The RNC agreed to take action, according to Politico. Later in the night, LaCivita shared a photo which appeared to indicate Paul’s team was moved to a room with “great working conditions.”

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  • Student Was Given Question on God. When She Answered It, Teacher’s Alleged Reaction ‘Shocked’ Her
    Posted October 28, 2015 at 3:11 am by Oliver Darcy

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    A Texas middle school student said Tuesday she was “shocked” by the demand her teacher allegedly made after she provided an answer to a God-related question on a class assignment.

    Image source: KHOU-TV

    Image source: KHOU-TV

    Jordan Wooley told KHOU-TV that her West Memorial Junior High School reading teacher handed students an assignment that asked them to classify several phrases into three categories: a factual claim, a commonplace assertion, or an opinion.

    Wooley said when she arrived at the phrase “There is a God” she responded with two answers.

    “I said it was fact or opinion,” she said.

    According to the seventh grade student, her teacher told her the answers were wrong and demanded she say God isn’t real.

    “It was really confusing to me at first because I didn’t really know what to do, so the first thing I did was tell my mom,” Wooley told KHOU.

    Her mother Chantel echoed the concern.

    “That a kid was literally graded against her faith in God in a classroom so who would want to be known,” Chantel told KHOU.

    The school released a statement Tuesday saying the assignment aimed to spur critical thinking and was not intended on questioning the religious beliefs of students. Administrators did, however, conceive it wasn’t a well-thought out lesson.

    “Still this does not excuse the fact that this ungraded activity was ill-conceived and because of that, its intent had been misconstrued,” Katy Independent School District said, adding that the teacher should not be attacked for the assignment.

    Wooley disputes the districts statement, telling KHOU it was a graded assignment.

    “I love reading so for me personally to have to fail reading because of what my beliefs are just shocked me,” Wooley said.

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  • Kansas City Royals Defeat New York Mets 5-4 to Take Game One of World Series in 14-Inning Thriller
    Posted October 28, 2015 at 1:30 am by Oliver Darcy

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    KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Alex Gordon hit a tying home run with one out in the ninth inning, Eric Hosmer hit a sacrifice fly against Bartolo Colon in the 14th and the Kansas City Royals beat the New York Mets 5-4 Tuesday night in the longest opener in World Series history.

    Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

    Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

    Making his Series debut at age 42, Colon escaped a bases-loaded jam in the 12th, then got out of trouble again after allowing a leadoff hit in the 13th.

    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Alcides Escobar, who hit an inside-the-park home run on Matt Harvey’s first pitch of the night, reached leading off the 14th on an error by third baseman David Wright, who bobbled his grounder and then made a wide throw that pulled Lucas Duda off first base.

    Ben Zobrist singled him to third and Lorenzo Cain was intentionally walked, loading the bases. Hosmer flied to right, and Escobar scored standing up ahead of Curtis Granderson’s throw.

  • Rand Paul Reserves Harsh Words for BuzzFeed Reporter Over Criticism of His New Book: ‘This Idiot…’
    Posted October 28, 2015 at 12:24 am by Oliver Darcy

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    Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) slammed a BuzzFeed political reporter Tuesday over an open letter he published which accused the Republican 2016 hopeful’s new book of being “littered with easy-to-check historical inaccuracies.”

    BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski and Megan Apper wrote an open letter to the Kentucky senator demanding he “stop using fake founding father quotes” and charging he does so in his new book.

    Scott Olson/Getty Images

    Scott Olson/Getty Images

    As the reporting duo points out, this is not the first time Kaczynski has gone after Paul for this. Kaczynski has on multiple occasions reported that the senator has misquoted the Founding Fathers.

    On Tuesday, Paul had enough. Speaking to the Washington Post, the libertarian firebrand blasted Kaczynski.

    “I mean, this idiot says the same thing about my speeches.”
    Share:

    “That guy,” Paul said of Kaczynski while speaking with the newspaper. “The only criticisms have come from some guy who’s a partisan. We discount partisans. However, there’s a ridiculous cottage industry out there of people who think they’re smarter than everyone else, and because certain quotes are disputed – well, yeah! If you want to say something’s not a Thomas Jefferson quote, you can get a whole book on whether it’s a quote or not.”

    “I mean, this idiot says the same thing about my speeches,” Paul added. “Do I need to say in my speech, ‘as many people attribute to Thomas Jefferson, but some people dispute,’ before I give the quote? It’s idiocy, it’s pedantry – it’s ridiculous stuff from partisan hacks. And I’d say that guy’s one of ‘em.”

    He concluded, noting that Kaczynski is “not on my good list.”

    Kaczynski responded on Twitter, announcing that he now had a new Twitter bio.

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  • Glenn Beck: ‘If We Choose’ to Do This, ‘We Will Turn Into Darkest Nation Ever to Grace the Earth’
    Posted October 27, 2015 at 10:55 pm by Oliver Darcy

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    Glenn Beck told Fox News Tuesday that he fears if the American electorate puts “immoral” individuals in public office, the U.S. will be headed down a terrible path.

    “If we choose to put immoral people — and they are on both sides. If we choose to put immoral people in, my prediction is we will not be destroyed,” Beck said. “We will turn into the darkest nation ever to grace the Earth.”

    “We are going to be a very bad nation because of the things we have at our disposal,” he added.

    Watch Beck’s comments (relevant remarks come toward the end):

    The remarks came during a discussion about the 2012 Benghazi attacks on Fox New Channel’s “The Kelly File.”

    Beck said he believed the actions taken by America’s leaders during and in the aftermath of the attacks was “immoral.”

    “She lied about it,” Beck said of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s role on Benghazi. “She knowingly lied.”

    Clinton has repeatedly insisted she did not mislead the American people following the attacks.

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  • ‘We Have Lost Our Picture’: World Series Broadcast Interrupted by ‘Technical Difficulties’
    Posted October 27, 2015 at 9:54 pm by Oliver Darcy

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    The World Series broadcast on Fox was disrupted during Game One Tuesday evening due to technical problems.

    Viewers were suddenly greeted with a message that explained the network was “experiencing technical difficulties” about half way through the game.

    Image source: Screen grab

    Image source: Screen grab

    After briefly flashing the message on the screen, Fox cut away to three anchors in a studio who explained the technical glitch was the result of a loss of power to a broadcast truck.

    “We have lost our picture,” one of the broadcasters said.

  • Man Walks Into West Virginia Middle School With Absolutely Bizarre Demand Involving Justin Bieber
    Posted October 27, 2015 at 9:05 pm by Oliver Darcy

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    A West Virginia man walked into a middle school Tuesday and demanded that administrators give him access to the intercom system so he could sing students Justin Bieber songs, local media reported.

    According to WTOV-TV, D’laontie Dee Lewis strolled into the main office of Dunbar Middle School in the morning with the demand, putting the school in a temporary lockdown.

    A criminal complaint filed said he “wanted to speak to the children as Justin Bieber and stating that he could see them because he was Jesus,” WCHS-TV reported.

    Image source: Dunbar Police

    Image source: Dunbar Police

    Police arrived soon after and said it appeared the man had not taken his prescribed medication. He was cited with marijuana possession and taken to a hospital, WTOV reported.

    Later, however, Lewis walked out of Thomas Memorial Hospital and attempted again to sing Bieber songs to children — this time at a daycare facility.

    Police said the man went to Kiddie Kollege Daycare and tried to serenade the kids with the pop tunes. When asked to leave, he started screaming profanities, authorities added, according to WTOV.

    He was again taken to the hospital facing additional charges.

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  • See Answer Blue Lives Matter Activist Gives When Asked Why He Thought Al Sharpton Agreed to Speak at Slain NYPD Officer’s Funeral
    Posted October 27, 2015 at 8:39 pm by Oliver Darcy

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    A Blue Lives Matter activist said Tuesday that he believes Al Sharpton agreed to give the eulogy at the funeral of a slain NYPD officer because he knew it would receive media attention.

    Sharpton had previously been slated to speak at the funeral, but announced earlier that he would no longer do so after many voiced objections. The civil rights leader said he had been invited by officer Randolph Holder’s father.

    “Why do you think he’s coming?” Josiah Ryan, a reporter for TheBlaze, asked activist Calvin Hunt outside a viewing for the slain cop.

    “Because there’s a camera there,” Hunt bluntly replied.

    “This man has always been against the police. Never had nothing nice to say about the police,” he added, contending his appearance would have been a “slap in the face” to the NYPD.

    Video package by TheBlaze’s Josiah Ryan.

  • Senate Passes Cybersecurity Bill to Encourage Companies to Share Information About Threats
    Posted October 27, 2015 at 8:08 pm by Associated Press

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    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate passed a bill Tuesday aimed at improving cybersecurity by encouraging companies and the government to share information about threats. It took roughly six years to win approval for such a program.

    The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act passed by a 74-21 vote. It overcame concerns about privacy and transparency from some senators and technology companies, such as Apple and Yelp.

    FILE - In this Sept. 24, 2015 file photo, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., right, and Committee Vice Chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. listen as Director of the National Security Agency (NSA) Adm. Michael Rogers testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

    FILE – In this Sept. 24, 2015 file photo, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., right, and Committee Vice Chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. listen as Director of the National Security Agency (NSA) Adm. Michael Rogers testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

    The Senate rejected amendments, including one addressing concerns that companies could give the government personal information about their customers. Another failed amendment would have eliminated part of the bill that would keep secret information about which companies participate and what they share with the government.

    The bill’s co-sponsors, Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Richard Burr, R-N.C., said the measure was needed to limit high-profile cyberattacks, such as the one on Sony Pictures last year.

    “From the beginning we committed to make this bill voluntary, meaning that any company in America, if they, their systems are breached, could choose voluntarily to create the partnership with the federal government. Nobody’s mandated to do it,” Burr said.

    Companies would receive legal protections from antitrust and consumer privacy liabilities for participating in the voluntary program.

    The House passed its version of the bill earlier this year with strong bipartisan support. The two versions of the bill will need to be reconciled before being sent to the White House for the president’s signature.

    Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who opposed the bill, offered an amendment addressing privacy concerns, but it failed to pass. It would have required companies to make “reasonable efforts” to remove unrelated personal information about their customers before providing the data to the government.

    “You just can’t hand it over,” Wyden said. “You’ve got to take affirmative steps, reasonable, affirmative steps, before you share personal information.”

    Senators also rejected an amendment Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., had offered that would have removed a provision to keep secret more information about materials that companies provide to the government. Leahy criticized the bill’s new exemption from the U.S. Freedom of Information Act as overly broad because it pre-empts state and local public information requests, and it was added without public debate.

    The Sunshine in Government Initiative, a Washington organization that promotes open government policies, urged the Senate last week to support Leahy’s amendment. The AP is one of at least nine journalism groups that are members of the organization.

    Despite the lengthy road to pass the Senate bill, it’s unclear whether it would improve Internet security. Participation is voluntary and companies have long been reluctant to tell the U.S. government about their security failures.

    “Passing the bill will have no effect on improving cybersecurity.”
    Share:

    “Passing the bill will have no effect on improving cybersecurity,” said Alan Paller, director of research for the SANS Institute. “That’s been demonstrated each time sharing legislation has been passed. The cost to companies of disclosing their failings is so great that they avoid it even if there is a major benefit to them of learning about other peoples’ failings.”

    Senators passed an amendment by Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., that limited the bill to 10 years.

    Cyberattacks have affected an increasing number of Americans who shop at Target, use Anthem medical insurance or saw doctors at medical centers at the University of California, Los Angeles.

    More than 21 million Americans recently had their personal information stolen when the Office of Personnel Management was hacked in what that the U.S. believes was a Chinese espionage operation.

    Sen. John McCain, R-Az., chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, called the bill’s passage an important first step. He noted that in the past year the United States has been attacked in cyberspace by Iran, North Korea, China and Russia and that there had been attacks against the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Pentagon, OPM and an email hacking of the director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

    The U.S. and the technology industry already operate groups intended to improve sharing of information among the government and businesses, including the Homeland Security Department’s U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team.

    “What this bill means is more internet users’ personal information being funneled, will be directed to, the National Security Agency under a cybersecurity umbrella,” said Greg Nojeim, senior counsel for the Center for Democracy and Technology, a Washington-based civil liberties group. “A company can’t both participate in this program and promise its users that it will not volunteer their personal information to the NSA.”

    Presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Rand Paul, R-Ky., had opposed the bill, although Paul and fellow presidential candidates Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas; Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., each did not vote Tuesday. The White House has said it supports the information-sharing bill.

  • Sheriff Says There’s a Third Video Showing Desk Flip Incident — Here’s What He Says It Shows
    Posted October 27, 2015 at 7:40 pm by Oliver Darcy

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    A South Carolina sheriff said Tuesday that there is a third video depicting one of his officers in a now viral confrontation with a high school student — and in it, he says the student can be seen attacking the officer.

    “There’s a video … showed her striking and punching at the officer,” Richard County Sheriff Leon Lott told CNN. ”Again, our hope would have been that he could have de-escalated the situation without getting physical.”

    Lott said the video was not in his possession when asked by host Jake Tapper if it would be released to the public.

    “It’s not one I have, it’s another student in the class, was shooting it from a different angle,” he said. “It shows the officer as he puts his hands on her, her punching him. But again, that doesn’t justify some of the actions.”

    Resource officer Ben Fields was put under investigation by his department Monday after video captured him aggressively confront a student who “refused” to cooperate when told she was under arrest.

    Video captured him inform the student that she would either “come with me or I’m going to make you.” Moments later, the officer can be seen lifting the student up, pushing her desk backward, then seemingly tossing her a few feet away.

    Lott said Tuesday he does not believe race played a role in the incident, but noted he was disturbed by it. After the video sparked national controversy, the Justice Department announced it would open up an investigation into the incident.

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  • Rand Paul Announces He Will Filibuster Debt Ceiling Deal
    Posted October 27, 2015 at 6:30 pm by Oliver Darcy

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    Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that he will filibuster the budget deal Republican leaders struck with the White House which raises the debt ceiling through 2017.

    “I will do everything in my power to stop this steaming pile of legislation,” Paul said. “I will filibuster and I urge my colleagues to join my effort.”

    “The message I’m going to put forward is I’m the only fiscal conservative in the race,” the senator added.

    The Republican 2016 hopeful made the announcement to a group of reporters before a rally in Denver.

    House Republicans are expected to pass the two-year budget deal Wednesday with the help of Democrats. It, however, must be approved by the Senate before being sent to President Barack Obama’s desk.

    The legislation would suspend the current $18.1 trillion debt limit through March 2017. The budget portion would increase the current “caps” on total agency spending by $50 billion in 2016 and $30 billion in 2017, offset by savings elsewhere in the budget. And it would permit about $16 billion to be added on top of that in 2016, classified as war funding, with a comparable boost in 2017.

    This would not be the first time Paul has filibustered something on the Senate floor. In March 2013, the libertarian firebrand held up the nomination of CIA Director John Brenan for nearly 13 hours over questions on his position regarding the use of drones.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.