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  • Does Obama Need Congressional OK to Continue Air Strikes in Iraq?
    Posted August 15, 2014 at 9:45 pm by Fred Lucas

    Comments (77)

    Though most members of Congress are generally supportive of the air strikes against Islamic State terrorists in Iraq, many say President Barack Obama has a constitutional obligation to get congressional approval if the operation is prolonged. Obama, so far, has not given a timeframe.

    A U.S. F/A-18 fighter jet takes off for Iraq from the flight deck of the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush in the Persian Gulf, Monday, Aug. 11, 2014. U.S. military officials said American fighter aircraft struck and destroyed several vehicles Sunday that were part of an Islamic State group convoy moving to attack Kurdish forces defending the northeastern Iraqi city of Irbil. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)

    Constitutional law experts disagree on whether the president must get congressional authorization at all, under either his constitutional authority or under the War Powers Act.

    “If it’s not a violation now, it will be if it continues without congressional authorization,” Ilya Somin, a law professor at George Mason University, told TheBlaze. “If it happens to rise to the level of war, it will require congressional authorization. There is debate about how large a force has to be before it’s a war, but ongoing air strikes over weeks and months would require congressional authorization.”

    As commander-in-chief, the president does not need to get congressional approval to continue the attacks because the Islamic State poses a viable threat to the United States, said Jon Yoo, a former Justice Department attorney during the Bush administration specializing in national security matters.

    “The practical limitation on the president’s commander-in-chief power is Congress’s power over the purse and its sole right to raise and support the military,” Yoo, now a law professor at University of California at Berkeley, told TheBlaze. “Without Congress’s support, President Obama cannot long afford the costs of extended air operations over Iraq.”

    Yoo does not anticipate such a showdown in this case.

    “Despite the muted complaints of Democratic isolationists and Rand Paul supporters, the majority in Congress I believe want the president to be more aggressive in Iraq, not less, and funding should be readily approved,” Yoo added. “No constitutional conflict will result.”

    The airstrikes commenced late last week in concurrence with a humanitarian effort to help Christians and Yazidis facing persecution and potential genocide in the country.

    The House voted overwhelmingly in late July, 370-40, calling for Obama to get congressional approval for any sustained troop presence. But it was a non-binding resolution.

    Meanwhile, most of the warnings to Obama have come from prominent members of his own party. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said earlier this week Obama should get congressional approval. “This is especially the case since the president has indicated that our renewed military engagement in Iraq could be a long-term project,” Kaine said.

    Also this week, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), said, “All of us agree that boots on the ground are not in the offing, at this point in time, nor should they be … without further consultation and action by the Congress.”

    Beyond the Constitution, there is the War Powers Act, that some conservative contend is not a constitutional law. The 1973 law, enacted over the veto of President Richard Nixon, says that the president can only send combat troops when where there are imminent hostilities for 60 days before he has to get congressional authorization to continue.

    On this point, both Somin and Yoo also disagree.

    Yoo said this is in part because Congress already authorized the use of force in Iraq.

    “The 2002 authorization to use military force against Iraq is still on the books, and provides the president with continuing legal support,” Yoo said. “The AUMF is not just limited to removing Saddam Hussein.”

    The authorization states: “The president is authorized to use the armed forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to (1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and (2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.”

    Somin contends that Article 1 of the Constitution gives Congress authority over land and naval forces and controlling deployment. Therefore, the War Powers Act, he said, is perfectly constitutional and does obligate the president to involve Congress.

    White House press secretary Josh Earnest said last week that Obama will abide by the War Powers Act and has kept Congress engaged.

    “Consistent with those consultations, the administration will comply with any applicable reporting requirements in the War Powers Resolution,” Earnest said. “Sometimes these War Power notifications are classified, sometimes they aren’t—in this case, if one is necessary and if our lawyers determine that it is necessary, I would anticipate that is something we likely would be able to release publicly.”

    As a matter of policy, Somin has no problem with taking the fight to the Islamic State.

    “I don’t myself think it’s a problem to go after ISIS with air strikes from a policy standpoint. I think it’s is better legally and politically if Congress authorizes it,” Somin said. “ISIS is more of a threat to the U.S. than Moammar Gadhafi was in 2011. This is better than the case for striking Syria because in Syria both sides were arguably just as bad. Whatever the flaws in the Iraqi government, they and the Kurds are better morally and better for American interests than ISIS.”


    Follow Fred Lucas (@FredVLucas3) on Twitter

  • Outspoken Conservative Actor Has Some Surprising Plans After Final Season of Hit Show ‘Justified’
    Posted August 15, 2014 at 9:06 pm by Jason Howerton

    Comments (71)

    “Justified” actor Nick Searcy told TheBlaze’s Dana Loesch on Friday that he intends to enter the world of professional wrestling after his hit FX show has concluded. The show is about to start shooting for the sixth and final season.

    “I’ve been acting for a long time, Dana. And I’ve kind of mastered it and I’ve gotten bored with it,” he said, seemingly joking and being serious at the same time. “I’m looking for a new challenge, so really I’m thinking about going into professional wrestling.”

    (TheBlaze TV)

    (TheBlaze TV)

    Loesch then aired a clip of Searcy appearing alongside wrestler Matt Hardy, of the Hardy Boys, at a wrestling match over the summer. Though it appeared as if he might be joking at first, he was seemingly sincere about his aspirations after the clip was played.

    “I’ve been working kind on a project of my own in this arena, in the world of professional wrestling, for a year or so now,” he later explained. “I’ve got a couple things that are kind of moving forward. So, it’s not really a joke. I am kind of looking to do something in that world.”

    Searcy also reflected on the time he once told actor Sean Penn to “stick your Oscar up your ass so you can see it when you wake up in the morning, because that’s where your head is,” as first reported by TheBlaze.

    Watch the clip via TheBlaze TV:

  • Texas Gov. Rick Perry Indicted on Felony Charges for Alleged Abuse of Power
    Posted August 15, 2014 at 7:50 pm by Jason Howerton

    Comments (528)

    AUSTIN, Texas (TheBlaze/AP) — A grand jury indicted Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Friday for allegedly abusing the powers of his office by carrying out a threat to veto funding for state prosecutors investigating public corruption – making the possible 2016 presidential hopeful his state’s first indicted governor in nearly a century.

    A special prosecutor spent months calling witnesses and presenting evidence that Perry broke the law when he promised publicly to nix $7.5 million over two years for the public integrity unit, which is run by Travis County Democratic District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg’s office. It’s the same office that indicted U.S. Rep. Tom Delay as part of a finance probe.

    Several top aides to the Republican governor appeared before grand jurors in Austin, including his deputy chief of staff, legislative director and general counsel. Perry himself did not testify, though.

    Governor Rick Perry balls up his hand in a fist as he addresses a group of nearly 300 in attendance at the 2014 RedState Gathering, Friday, Aug. 8, 2014, in Fort Worth, Texas. Two Texans eyeing possible 2016 presidential runs, Gov. Rick Perry and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, are addressing the kind of top-tier conservative event necessary to build national support, the RedState Gathering. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

    Grand jurors indicted Perry on abuse of official capacity, a first-degree felony with potential punishments of five to 99 years in prison, and coercion of a public servant, a third-degree felony that carries a punishment of two to 10 years.

    Perry’s office on Friday provided the following statement to TheBlaze from Mary Anne Wiley, general counsel for the Texas governor:

    “The veto in question was made in accordance with the veto authority afforded to every governor under the Texas Constitution. We will continue to aggressively defend the governor’s lawful and constitutional action, and believe we will ultimately prevail.”

    No one disputes that Perry is allowed to veto measures approved by the Legislature, including part or all of the state budget. But the left-leaning Texans for Public Justice government watchdog group filed an ethics complaint accusing the governor of coercion because he threatened to use his veto before actually doing so in an attempt to pressure Lehmberg to quit.

    “I took into account the fact that we’re talking about a governor of a state – and a governor of the state of Texas, which we all love,” said Michael McCrum, the San Antonio-based special prosecutor. “Obviously that carries a lot of importance. But when it gets down to it, the law is the law.”

    In office since 2000 and already the longest-serving governor in Texas history, Perry isn’t seeking re-election in November. But the criminal investigation could mar his political prospects as he mulls another run at the White House, after his 2012 presidential bid flamed out.

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks at the Des Moines Register’s Political Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair, Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014, in Des Moines, Iowa. The fair runs through Aug. 17th. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

    McCrum said he’ll meet with Perry’s attorney Monday to discuss when he will come to the courthouse to be arraigned. McCrum said he doesn’t know when Perry will be booked.

    Asked why McCrum never spoke to Perry personally, McCrum said, “That’s prosecutorial discretion that I had.”

    Lehmberg oversees the office’s public integrity unit, which investigates statewide allegations of corruption and political wrongdoing. Perry said he wouldn’t allow Texas to fund the unit while Lehmberg remained in charge.

    Perry said Lehmberg, who is based in Austin, should resign after she was arrested and pleaded guilty to drunken driving in April 2013. A video recording made at the jail showed Lehmberg shouting at staffers to call the sheriff, kicking the door of her cell and sticking her tongue out.

    Watch the video:

    Lehmberg faced pressure from other high-profile Republicans in addition to Perry to give up her post. Her blood-alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit for driving.

    Lehmberg served about half of her 45-day jail sentence but stayed in office, despite Perry’s assertions that her behavior was inappropriate.

    The jail video led to an investigation of Lehmberg by a separate grand jury, which decided she should not be removed for official misconduct.

    The indictment is the first of its kind since 1917, when James “Pa” Ferguson was indicted on charges stemming from his veto of state funding to the University of Texas in an effort to unseat faculty and staff members he objected to. Ferguson was eventually impeached, then resigned before being convicted, allowing his wife, Miriam “Ma” Ferguson, to take over the governorship.

    This story has been updated.

  • ‘Does Anything You Say Actually Matter?’: Dana Perino Goes Off on Liberal Co-Host to the Point She Has to Be Censored on Live TV
    Posted August 15, 2014 at 7:44 pm by Jason Howerton

    Comments (197)

    Dana Perino clashed with her fellow “The Five” host Bob Beckel on Friday, getting so animated at one point that she had to be censored for saying the “b-word.”

    The two were debating how much responsibility President Barack Obama has for helping reelect Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in 2010 and the following rise of ISIS militants in the country.

    Beckel said it’s not all Obama’s fault because the Iraqi military is “gutlessly running with our equipment” instead of fighting ISIS terrorists. He also called al-Maliki a “crook” and “bum.” When Perino asked Beckel if he thought Obama helped al-Maliki get reelected, he said, “No, you guys said it was a fair and open election.”

    (YouTube)

    (YouTube)

    Beckel repeated asked “where” al-Maliki actually came from and when he was introduced in Iraq, leading Perino to snap at him.

    “This is like the weirdest academic exercise that we are having this week,” she said. “Why? Because, does anything you’re saying actually matter?”

    Perino went on to say that she agrees with Beckel that the Iraqi military is “not up to par,” but the fact remains that ISIS terrorists are overrunning the country.

    It was at this point that the show’s audio was completely muted.

    Blogger SooperMexican has the video via Fox News:

    Perino later revealed that she used the “b-word” as a verb.

    (H/T: Mediaite)

  • This Tourist Went for a Swim Without Knowing What Lives Underneath a Nearby Bridge — Viral Video Shows Him Finding Out in Worst Way
    Posted August 15, 2014 at 7:11 pm by Jason Howerton

    Comments (136)

    Video of a tourist’s frantic escape from a gigantic crocodile off the coast of Mexico’s Playa del Carmen was going viral on Friday.

    The tourist apparently went for a swim without knowing that a 3-and-a-half-meter-long male crocodile lives underneath a nearby bridge — a detail that the locals are apparently well aware of.

    (YouTube)

    (YouTube)

    Onlookers can be heard shouting in horror as the tourist swims for his life. The
    crocodile follows behind until someone cleverly threw an object at the creature to scare it, giving the tourist enough time to escape.

    Manuel Carrera, who captured and uploaded the stunning footage, said the reptile is fed by local fisherman. The croc is also apparently “an expert in stealing fish from the amateur fisherman who don’t reel in their catches quickly,” he said.

    Watch the viral video:

    (H/T: NY Daily News)

    Featured image via shutterstock.com

  • Senate Candidate Asserts Link Between Legalizing Illegals and Outlawing Gun Ownership
    Posted August 15, 2014 at 6:30 pm by Fred Lucas

    Comments (111)

    U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller linked amnesty for illegal immigrants with more gun control, and PolitiFact took him to task for it.

    Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller speaks during a debate Sunday, Aug. 10, 2014, in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

    The Alaska Republican said granting legal status to a large number of illegal immigrants would lead to more Democratic voters, who would in turn enact more gun restrictions and promote more anti-gun judges.

    “If 20 million illegals vote, you can kiss the Second Amendment goodbye,” a recent Miller campaign mailer says.

    During a Republican debate, Miller also made the correlation between the two issues, the Alaska Dispatch News reported.

    “There’s a clear correlation, and the clear correlation is this: If you end up granting amnesty to those who don’t value gun rights, who have not been raised in an environment where the Second Amendment is cherished—is considered to be a God-given right—the reality is over a generation or two, the likelihood is very strong that the Second Amendment will not be here,” Miller said.

    The fact-check website labeled the claim on the mailer “false,” making a case that it’s extremely unlikely the Second Amendment will be literally done away with.

    “We found that it would be nearly impossible to remove the Second Amendment from the Constitution, given the country’s ideological make-up, and adding a voting bloc of 20 million would be unlikely to change that—regardless of their political persuasions,” PolitiFact said. “However, it’s possible that adding 20 million new voters who lean Democrat could result in stricter gun control laws. Miller’s mailer muddies the waters, because increasing gun ownership regulations is not the same thing as scrapping the Second Amendment entirely.”

    Conservatives have cited data demonstrating a liberal bias at PolitiFact.

    Tuesday’s Alaska Republican Senate primary is between Miller, Dan Sullivan and Mead Treadwell. The winner will take on highly vulnerable Democratic Sen. Mark Begich, making it one of the most-watched Senate races in the country.

    Miller won the Republican Senate nomination in 2010 for the state’s other seat, beating incumbent Republican Lisa Murkowski in a primary, but Murkowski ran as a write-in candidate and held onto her set in the general election that year.

    Begich and Murkowski voted for the immigration reform bill that passed the Senate in 2013, but has not been voted on in the House.

    Supreme Court rulings in 2008 and 2010 affirmed the Second Amendment protects an individuals right to bear arms.

    Eugene Volokh, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, told PolitiFact that 20 million people leaning in one direction could lead to a watershed election of anti-gun politicians, and a president who would nominate – and senators who would confirm – anti-gun Supreme Court justices could overturn previous decisions.

    American Hispanics support gun control by 70 percent, according to a Pew Research poll in June.

    Trevor Burrus, a research fellow at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank that favors gun rights and less restrictive immigration policy, told PolitiFact that American culture would rub off on immigrants if they were granted legal status.

    Follow Fred Lucas (@FredVLucas3) on Twitter

  • ‘Disgusting’ Video Shows Thug Pummeling Autistic Teen at Party While Revelers Watch
    Posted August 15, 2014 at 6:14 pm by Dave Urbanski

    Comments (101)

    Social media is exploding after video surfaced online of an autistic teen being viciously beaten by an 18-year-old at a party in Florida while revelers are seen standing around and watching it all take place.

    Image source: Live Leak

    Image source: Live Leak

    Andrew Wheeler, 18, was arrested and booked in Okeechobee County Jail on a $20,000 bond, reported WPBF-TV in West Palm Beach, citing the county sheriff’s office. Wheeler faces a charge of third-degree felony child abuse, the station reported.

    The victim, 16, was at last Friday’s house party when he reportedly got drunk and passed out, WPBF said, citing the police report the station noted it obtained. When he woke up, the victim was asked to go outside to fight someone, according to the report. When he refused, Wheeler allegedly was summoned to kick the boy out of the house. Then Wheeler is seen punching the victim, kicking him, and dragging him by his hair.

    Image source: Live Leak

    Image source: Live Leak

    Image source: Live Leak

    Image source: Live Leak

    Here’s the video of the assault via Live Leak. (Warning: This clip contains violent, disturbing images and foul language.)

    The victim told police Wheeler choked him until he became unconscious, WPBF reported, adding that when he woke up Wheeler was standing over him and hitting him in the face — and others stood around and laughed.

    Then Wheeler held a knife to his throat and told him to leave, WPBF noted. The boy collapsed in the street where police found him after receiving a call from a driver, WPDF added, citing the report.

    Image source: Live Leak

    Image source: Live Leak

    The boy sustained multiple bruises, a sprained neck and a concussion, WPBF added, citing the report.

    While at the hospital with the victim, police reportedly found out the video of the attack was posted to Facebook and tagged to a profile with the name Andrew Wheeler, WPTV-TV in West Palm Beach reported.

    More from WPTV:

    Upon viewing the video, the officer noted that a detective recognized Wheeler in the video punching and kneeing the victim. Other people were standing around while the video was being recorded, according to the report.

    Police located Wheeler on Sunday and placed him in custody.

    Wheeler claims he received a call that there was “a drunk guy” at a party and he wouldn’t leave. He says he drove to the residence and went inside to take that person home. After walking outside to answer his phone, Wheeler went back inside and said he was told that the teen was punching and pushing another person.

    Wheeler claims when he attempted to take the teen outside he tried to strike Wheeler.

    Wheeler was not hit and struck the teen with his fist, according to the report.

    Regarding claims that his department tried to cover up aspects of the attack because some partygoers allegedly had connections to the police, Okeechobee City Police Chief Denny Davis told WPTV that he and his officers are upset about the accusations.

    “I think the video is disgusting,” Davis added to the station. “It is just as upsetting to myself and my officers as it is to anyone else that viewed it. Absolutely no way would we ever attempt to cover up anything like that. So it’s very disturbing.”

    Davis also noted that police in Okeechobee, which is about an hour southwest of Vero Beach, arrested the suspected attacker within 24 hours of obtaining the video.

    Police also arrested Evadean Dailey Lydecker, who lives in the house where the attack allegedly occurred, WPTV noted. Lydecker was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a misdemeanor, the station reported.

    A woman seen in the video of the attack was identified as Lydecker, WPBF said, citing the report.

    More from WPBF:

    The boy told police that earlier that evening, Lydecker had driven them to the gas station and bought them alcohol, then later she was drinking at the home with her friends. He added that he had tried to knock on her door for help but there was no answer, the report said.

    Lydecker denied giving alcohol to minors and denied witnessing the fight inside the residence.

    The hashtag #JusticeForAaron has been spiking on Twitter; there’s also a Facebook page with the same moniker.

  • Eyewitness Allegedly Live-Tweeted Michael Brown Shooting: ‘I JUST SAW SOMEONE DIE’ (GRAPHIC)
    Posted August 15, 2014 at 5:40 pm by Jason Howerton

    Comments (126)

    A Twitter user apparently live-tweeted the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Though the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on the tweets immediately following, the apparent first-hand account — which included photos of the gruesome aftermath — was spreading across national news websites on Friday.

    Brown was fatally shot by a cop following what police described as a physical altercation. Brown allegedly robbed a store prior to his death, however, the officer was reportedly unaware that he was a suspect at the time of the shooting.

    We have blurred the graphic photo of Brown’s body as well as some strong language:

    Twitter

    Twitter

    Twitter

    Twitter

    Read the alleged eyewitness’ account from the bottom up to the top:

    Brown

    Twitter

    Mike Brown

    Twitter

    Mike Brown

    Twitter

    Mike Brown

    Twitter

    Mike Brown

    Twitter

    Though the photos posted by the Twitter user support the claim that he is a legitimate eyewitness to the shooting, the tweets are still impossible to verify with 100 percent certainty.

    Read TheBlaze’s latest updates on the Michael Brown shooting here.

  • NYC Mayor Picking Up Where Bloomberg Left Off in Key Area
    Posted August 15, 2014 at 5:39 pm by Fred Lucas

    Comments (27)

    New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was highly critical of predecessor Michael Bloomberg while running his populist campaign last year, but de Blasio is picking up right where Bloomberg left off in one key area: gun control.

    De Blasio this week announced that the city is spending $12.7 million to create the “Gun Violence Crisis Management System.”

    New York City Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio speaks with outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg at City Hall, Nov. 6, 2013 in New York City. (John Moore/Getty Images)

    The program will include “evidence-based community interventions” and “anti-violence messaging,” the mayor’s office said in a statement.

    “While New York remains the safest big city in the nation and crime has continued to drop citywide, gun violence remains a challenge,” de Blasio said. “With this initiative, we are creating a focused effort incorporating mental health services, legal services, after-school programs — using models of proven success and targeting the communities where nearly half of the city’s shootings occur — into our effort to reduce gun violence and create a safer New York.”

    While serving as mayor, Bloomberg started the organization Mayors Against Illegal Guns, now called Everytown for Gun Safety.

    De Blassio has been criticized for abandoning some anti-crime measures the city adopted in the 1990s under then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Since he took office, shootings increased by 12.9 percent from January to August, compared to the same period in 2013, the New York Post reported. At the same time, the number of people charged with gun crimes fell from 3,247 in the first eight months of 2013 to 2,966 this year.

    The new program will establish school-based conflict mediation and a campaign to “reinforce community norms against gun violence, similar to successful campaigns promoting seatbelt use and against smoking,” the mayor’s office said.

    “By focusing on the communities with the highest levels of shootings and working with those at-risk for committing violence, the city’s Crisis Management System will be able to prevent shootings before they happen and help save lives,” City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said. “I thank the de Blasio administration for partnering with the council on this important initiative to make our city even safer and for their continued efforts to permanently eradicate gun violence in our city.”

    Follow Fred Lucas (@FredVLucas3) on Twitter

  • Mom Arrested for Swearing in Front of Kids at the Grocery Store, but What the Woman Who Tattled on Her Did Afterward Is Just as Surprising
    Posted August 15, 2014 at 4:41 pm by Liz Klimas

    Comments (177)

    A mother who had recently moved to South Carolina from Ohio couldn’t believe what she heard while she was shopping at a grocery store on Sunday.

    “You’re under arrest,” Danielle Wolf was told by a North Augusta Public Safety officer, according to WJBF-TV.

    Her offense? She said the F-word in front of her kids. But the fact that the mother of two was arrested for this four-letter word isn’t the only surprising part of the story. Later, the woman who called the cops on Wolf ended up apologizing.

    According to the police report, Wolf was formally issued a citation for disorderly conduct.

    Danielle Wolf was arrested for disorderly contact after she said the F-word in public and a woman reported her. (Image source: WJBF-TV)

    Danielle Wolf was arrested for disorderly contact after she said the F-word in public and a woman reported her. (Image source: WJBF-TV)

    The news station reported that the authorities were called in by someone who overheard Wolf use the curse word.

    “She’s like, ‘you said the F-word’, and I’m like, ‘when did I say this to my kids?” Wolf told WJBF.

    The incident report stated, more specifically, that this female witness heard Wolf yell “stop squishing the f***ing bread,” to her children. Wolf clarified to the news station that this was something she said to her husband, not her children.

    Still, why did this word send Wolf in handcuffs to booking?

    WJBF explained that in North Augusta, disorderly conduct can include incidents where someone “while in a state of anger, in the presence of another, [uses] any bawdy, lewd or obscene words or epithets.”

    Watch WJBF’s report:

    The woman who initially told police she would testify in court against the woman later changed her tune, saying she didn’t want her arrested. Wolf still was taken in though. According to WAGT-TV, the woman later called Wolf to apologize.

    “I am glad that we have the opportunity to speak, because I want you to understand that I was so upset … it’s me having been abused and going through my own abuse …when I heard the language, it sort of triggered that,” the woman told Wolf over the phone. “It just took me back to a very, very hard time, and nobody stood up for me. And I wanted you to know that no matter who it is that I see saying anything inappropriate to your girls, I would stand up for them.”

    Wolf took a call from the woman who tattled on her. Both of the women ended up apologizing to each other. (Image source: WAGT-TV)

    Wolf took a call from the woman who tattled on her. Both of the women ended up apologizing to each other. (Image source: WAGT-TV)

    The woman clarified that she isn’t accusing Wolf of being abusive to her children but said that hearing the swear word triggered her own memories of abuse and drove her to respond.

    “I apologize for getting into your business and being so, I guess, adamant about…,” the woman continued, trailing off. “I definitely hate that they put you in a police car.”

    Wolf, in turn, apologized to the other woman as well, saying that at the time she wasn’t thinking about who she could hurt by what she said.

    “But I can assure you that I will never say that word out in public again. I will never say it to my children. I will never say it to my husband again,” Wolf said.

    Watch WAGT’s report to hear the woman’s apology:

    Ultimately, on the call Wolf told the woman that they just have to “move on with their lives.”

    “It happened, it’s over, it’s done with. Now we just have to see the end result and try to make things better,” Wolf said.

    Wolf will appear in court in September.

  • Count for Yourself How Many Seconds It Takes SWAT Team to Shatter House’s Window, Glass Door After Knocking and Announcing Search Warrant
    Posted August 15, 2014 at 4:12 pm by Dave Urbanski

    Comments (191)

    A recently released video appears to show a SWAT team breaking a window and glass storm door immediately after one team member pounds on the door and yells that police have a search warrant.

    Image source: Courier & Post

    Image source: Courier & Post

    The video comes from a SWAT team member’s helmet cam and documents actions by the unit from the Evansville, Indiana, police department, which included tossing flash grenades into the residence and arresting two adult females.

    Image source: Courier & Post

    Image source: Courier & Post

    Image source: Courier & Post

    Image source: Courier & Post

    The officers were looking for evidence of anonymous Internet posts threatening the police department and its chief, according to the Courier & Press in Evansville, adding that the two women they cuffed turned out to be innocent.

    As you may have guessed, the city is being sued over the 2012 incident by one of the residents who claimed her constitutional rights were violated; lawyers for Evansville argue in a summary judgment motion that police used reasonable force — in fact city attorneys released the video to bolster their case, the paper noted.

    In the clip one of the residents, then-18-year-old Stephanie Milan, reportedly is heard yelling, “Don’t hurt me!” as officers enter the house with their weapons drawn. She and her adoptive mother, then-68-year-old Louise Milan — who filed the suit last year — are seen being led around the house’s exterior in handcuffs. Police also took their computers and Internet router, the paper reported.

    More from the Courier & Post:

    The FBI later arrested Derrick Murray, a suspected local gang leader who lived nearby in his mother’s house. He admitted in federal court he used his smartphone to connect to the wireless Internet router in Milan’s house and post the threats. Access to the router connection was not protected by a password.

    Turns out Murray actually was watching the raid from a porch down the street, the paper reported, citing the city attorneys’ motion.

    Murray eventually pleaded guilty to charges relating to the threats, the paper noted.

    Later in the video SWAT team members joke with each other about the raid, specifically breaking the glass to gain entry — all while still standing in Milan’s residence.

    Image source: Courier & Post

    Image source: Courier & Post

    “That f***in’ ram hit a lot harder than I thought it was going to hit!” one SWAT member jested as colleagues are heard laughing.

    An officer added, “That 50-pound ram ain’t no match for that 10-pound pane of glass.”

    Image source: Courier & Post

    Image source: Courier & Post

    The Courier & Post reported that the city paid for damage to the house.

    “There are a lot of different things that they could have done,” Milan’s attorney,  Kyle Biesecker, told the paper. “Ms. Milan, all she wants is some acknowledgment that police were wrong.”

    But police took such action because of an “unprecedented threat assessment,” the Courier & Post reported, citing city attorneys. “Further investigation led EPD to associate known criminals to the residence who had violent histories, gang association, weapons related charges or possessed weapons,” according to the city’s motion, which noted Anthony Milan Sr., Anthony Milan Jr. and Marc Milan as having criminal records.

    “With the level of threat that existed and the potential danger to the officers, there was no way the EPD would send an officer to walk up and just knock on the door of the residence,” the city’s motion added, according the Courier & Post.

    Biesecker questioned why police invited a television news crew to cover the raid given the high level of danger.

    “Bringing civilians with you to film it when there is such a threat?” he asked, the Courier & Post added.

    Check out the SWAT helmet cam video. The relevant portion begins around the 3:13 mark:

    This story has been updated.

  • Top Obamacare Official: ‘Please Delete This Email’
    Posted August 15, 2014 at 3:54 pm by Jason Howerton

    Comments (141)

    Congressional investigators are demanding answers from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner after she reportedly instructed a subordinate to “delete” an Obamacare-related email conversation involving key White House officials.

    In a August 15 letter to Tavenner, leaders of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce bring to light an October 5, 2013, email discussion involving White House representatives. The email was then forwarded to the CMS communications director with the following message: “Please delete this email-but please see if we can work on call script.”

    Marilyn Tavenner, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013, before the House Ways and Means Committee hearing on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Stressing that improvements are happening daily, the senior Obama official closest to the administration's malfunctioning health care website apologized Tuesday for problems that have kept Americans from successfully signing up for coverage. (Credit: AP)

    Marilyn Tavenner, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013, before the House Ways and Means Committee hearing on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Stressing that improvements are happening daily, the senior Obama official closest to the administration’s malfunctioning health care website apologized Tuesday for problems that have kept Americans from successfully signing up for coverage. (Credit: AP)

    According to veteran journalist Sharyl Attiksson, this revelation is “significant” for a number of reasons:

    First, the email to be deleted included an exchange between key White House officials and CMS  officials. Second, the email was dated October 5, 2013, five days into the disastrous launch of HealthCare.gov. Third, federal law requires federal officials to retain copies of –not delete– email exchanges. And fourth, the document to be deleted is covered under Congressional subpoena as well as longstanding Freedom of Information requests made by members of the media (including me).

    Members of Congress are now requesting answers from Tavenner, including why she instructed a subordinate, CMS Director of Communications Julie Bataille, to delete the email exchange rather than telling her to retain it as she claimed was the official policy.

    As Attkisson notes, those copied on the email exchange included Jeanne Lambrew, director of the White House Office of Health Reform, White House Chief Technology Officer Todd Park, White House health care advisor Christopher Jennings, as well as other HHS and CMS officials.

    In the 2013 email exchange, Tavenner reportedly explained how CMS staff were dealing with the high volume of Obamacare applications as Healthcare.gov failed. She noted officials were accepting PDF files that “look and act like a paper application” while also trying to accept some information online. Eventually, another official asked for more details on the process.

    The Department of Health and Human Services recently informed Congress that they would not be able to produce some of Tavenner’s emails requested under a subpoena as they were deleted. Lawmakers, who are investigating the “processes and procedures” that led to the disastrous rollout of Healthcare.gov, were told “most but not all” of the emails would likely be provided.

    Jeanne Lambrew (utexas.edu)

    Jeanne Lambrew (utexas.edu)

    Tavenner blamed the email loss on the “extremely high volume of emails” that she receives on a daily basis.

    The Friday letter from lawmakers asks Tavenner if any other emails were purposefully deleted and how CMS intends on attempting to recover them. Lawmakers also requested an explanation regarding several redactions made in some documents already provided to Congress.

    “[N]ow we know that when HealthCare.gov was crashing, those in charge were hitting the delete button behind the scenes,” Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, said in a statement.

    Despite the “delete” request, CMS spokesman Aaron Albright told FoxNews.com that the email exchange was saved anyway.

  • Police: Officer Who Shot Michael Brown Did Not Know He Was a Robbery Suspect
    Posted August 15, 2014 at 3:24 pm by Madeleine Morgenstern

    Comments (258)

    The police officer who fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown did not know that he was a suspect in a convenience store robbery, Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson said Friday.

    Jackson said the officer, previously identified as 28-year-old Darren Wilson, initially stopped Brown and a friend ”because they were walking down the middle of the street blocking traffic.”

    Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson releases the name of the the officer accused of fatally shooting Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager, Friday, Aug. 15, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. Jackson announced that the officer's name is Darren Wilson. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

    Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson releases the name of the the officer accused of fatally shooting Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager, Friday, Aug. 15, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. Jackson announced that the officer’s name is Darren Wilson. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

    Police earlier Friday released security footage they said showed Brown grabbing a box of cigars from a convenience store and then shoving the clerk away to leave.

    Daryl Parks, an attorney for the Brown family, confirmed that the security footage “appears to look like” the teenager, but accused the police chief of “strategically” releasing the video to “assassinate the character of Michael Brown.”

    Brown’s cousin, Eric Davis, called the video “smoke and mirrors” to obscure what had happened to the 18-year-old. Brown’s friend, Dorian Johnson, said he and Brown were ordered down on the sidewalk and that the officer attempted to pull Brown into his car before Brown tried to flee and was shot.

    The police have said Brown was shot amid a struggle with the officer in and around the officer’s squad car.

    After the police chief’s revelation, CNN legal analyst Paul Callan speculated that the decision to release the security footage — while seemingly unrelated to the officer’s decision to stop Brown — was because “Michael Brown knew about the robbery,” even if the officer didn’t.

    “The officer didn’t know about the robbery in the store when he stopped Michael Brown, but Michael Brown knew about the robbery, and Michael Brown … thought that he was being apprehended for robbery, and therefore when the officer tried to put him in the car for not being cooperative or whatever his reasoning was, Brown immediately started to struggle because he thought he was going down on a robbery in the second-degree,” Callan said.

    On Fox News, legal analyst Annemarie McAvoy made the same point: “The victim knew, if it was in fact him, that he’d just committed a robbery, may have assumed that he was going to be arrested and essentially tried to resist before he gets arrested.”

  • See the Security Footage Police Say Shows Michael Brown Robbing a Store Before He Was Shot
    Posted August 15, 2014 at 3:12 pm by Madeleine Morgenstern

    Comments (222)

    Update, 3:34 p.m. ET: The Ferguson police chief said Friday afternoon that the officer who shot Michael Brown did not know he was a robbery suspect at the time. Read more.

    Ferguson, Missouri, police on Friday released the security camera footage they say shows Michael Brown in a physical confrontation with a convenience store clerk minutes before Brown was fatally shot by a police officer.

    In the footage, dated Aug. 9, a man wearing a white T-shirt, shorts and a baseball cap appears to reach behind the counter and grab a box, then shove a shorter man who came from behind the counter and tried to block him from leaving the store. Police said Brown, 18, stole a box of cigars in a “strong-arm” robbery.

    These images provided by the Ferguson Police Department show security camera footage from a convenience store in Ferguson, Mo., on Aug. 9, 2014, the day that Michael Brown was fatally shot by a police officer. A report released Friday, Aug. 15, 2014, by Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson says the footage shows a confrontation between Brown and an employee at the store. The report says that Brown and his friend, Dorian Johnson, stole a box of cigars from the store shortly before Brown’s death. (AP Photo/Ferguson Police Department)

  • ‘We All Feel Horrible This Happened’: The Mistake Made at the CDC Involving a Flu Strain That Has Them Apologizing
    Posted August 15, 2014 at 2:40 pm by Associated Press

    Comments (73)

    NEW YORK (AP) — A government scientist kept silent about a potentially dangerous lab blunder and revealed it only after workers in another lab noticed something fishy, according to an internal investigation.

    Photo credit: Shutterstock

    Photo credit: Shutterstock

    The accident happened in January at the headquarters of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. A lab scientist accidentally mixed a deadly strain of bird flu with a tamer strain, and sent the mix to another CDC lab and to an outside lab in Athens, Georgia.

    No one was sickened by bird flu. But unsuspecting scientists worked with the viral mix for months before it was discovered.

    CDC officials have called the incident the most worrisome in a series of lab safety problems at the government agency, long regarded as one of the most respected public health agencies in the world. Earlier this summer, a lab mishandled anthrax samples and both the bird flu and anthrax labs were shut down.

    “We all feel horrible this happened,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, who oversees the CDC’s Influenza Division – which includes the lab where the bird flu accident took place.

    Because of employee privacy rules, she said she could not name the lab scientist or the leader of the scientist’s team, who were both faulted in the investigation report released Friday. She said disciplinary actions are taking place, but she did not provide any details.

    CDC’s release of the report is one of many signs the agency is trying to make things right, said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University. But he added that the CDC should at least disclose any disciplinary measures, to reassure the public that the agency is taking the matter seriously.

    According to the report, the lab scientist was doing work with both bird flu strains — the deadly form and a tamer version. Lab rules call for them to be handled separately, and the tasks should take at least 90 minutes.

    The CDC investigation found the work was completed in 51 minutes. That’s a clear indication the scientist took short-cuts, Schuchat said.

    The lab scientist told investigators that the work was done in the proper sequence, but noted being rushed to finish the job and attend a meeting. CDC officials say it’s possible the scientist worked on both strains at the same time.

    In February, some of the mixed virus sample was sent to another CDC lab in Atlanta. In March, a shipment of it went to a U.S. Department of Agriculture laboratory in Athens. For a study, the bird flu virus was given to chickens. The chickens died, prompting USDA staff to take a hard look at the sample and detect the deadly strain.

    The USDA lab notified the CDC lab in May, and the CDC lab confirmed the finding.

    But the CDC team leader didn’t report what happened to supervisors or anyone else, reasoning that the viral mix was at all times contained in specialized laboratories and was never a threat to the public, the investigation report said.

    CDC officials were only notified in June after the second CDC lab reported a problem with its sample. Two weeks later, CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden was notified.

    Frieden ordered the flu and anthrax labs closed, an internal review and other steps. The anthrax lab director resigned last month.

  • ‘Sorry’: Creator of Pop-Up Ads Apologizes for His Invention
    Posted August 15, 2014 at 2:24 pm by Liz Klimas

    Comments (96)

    This is one of the people you have to thank for every pop-up ad you ever come across while surfing the Web: Ethan Zuckerman. 

    Zuckerman, currently the director of the Center for Civic Media at MIT, recently shared about his thoughts on the small window that will appear in front of the content you actually sought out on the Internet until you click the  ”X,” hoping that you’re not about to give yourself a virus in the process.

    The man who helped create pop-up advertising details the pitfalls of an ad-based Web after 20 years. (Photo credit: Shutterstock)

    The man who helped create pop-up advertising details the pitfalls of an ad-based Web after 20 years. (Photo credit: Shutterstock)

    The core of his message on pop-ups?

    “I’m sorry. Our intentions were good,” he wrote in a piece for The Atlantic.

    Zuckerman’s post delves into the “fiasco” that has become the Web, specifically its “advertising-supported, ‘free as in beer’ constellation of social networks, services and content that represents so much of the present day Web industry.”

    Zuckerman wrote about working for a company in the mid- to late-1990s that developed the pop-up advertising model. He called it “one of the most hated tools in the advertiser’s toolkit.”

    “It was a way to associate an ad with a user’s page without putting it directly on the page, which advertisers worried would imply an association between their brand and the page’s content. Specifically, we came up with it when a major car company freaked out that they’d bought a banner ad on a page that celebrated anal sex,” he wrote.

    Advertising becoming and remaining the main revenue source on the Web created to the need for more data to develop targeted advertising, Zuckerman wrote, citing a talk given at a Web design conference by Maciej Ceglowski.

    “I have come to believe that advertising is the original sin of the Web. The fallen state of our Internet is a direct, if unintentional, consequence of choosing advertising as the default model to support online content and services,” Zuckerman wrote. “Through successive rounds of innovation and investor storytime, we’ve trained Internet users to expect that everything they say and do online will be aggregated into profiles (which they cannot review, challenge, or change) that shape both what ads and what content they see. Outrage over experimental manipulation of these profiles by social networks and dating companies has led to heated debates amongst the technologically savvy, but hasn’t shrunk the user bases of these services, as users now accept that this sort of manipulation is an integral part of the online experience.”

    Zuckerman later acknowledged, even with its many negatives, that an ad-based Web allows for growth and provides a service for those who don’t want to or can’t pay for it.

    After “20 years in to the ad-supported Web, we can see that our current model is bad, broken and corrosive. It’s time to start paying for privacy, to support services we love, and to abandon those that are free, but sell us — the users and our attention — as the product,” Zuckerman concluded in his lengthy piece. 

    Read Zuckerman’s full post about the state of the Web and advertising on the Atlantic’s website.

    (H/T: Gizmodo)

    Front page image via Shutterstock.

  • Guess Who Al Gore Is Suing
    Posted August 15, 2014 at 2:06 pm by Associated Press

    Comments (126)

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — Former Vice President Al Gore is suing Al Jazeera America, saying the news network is withholding tens of millions of dollars that it owes for buying Current TV from him and other shareholders for $500 million last year.

    David Boies, Gore’s attorney, said in a statement that Al Jazeera America “wants to give itself a discount on the purchase price that was agreed to nearly two years ago.” He said the suit was filed in Delaware Court of Chancery on Friday.

    FILE – In this Jan. 13, 2012 file photo, former Vice President Al Gore, Current TV Chairman and Co-Founder, participates in the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour in Pasadena , Calif. Former Vice President Al Gore is suing Al Jazeera America, saying the news network is withholding tens of millions of dollars that it owes for buying Current TV from him and other shareholders for $500 million last year. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok, File)

    Al Jazeera America didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

    The Qatar-owned news channel took over Current TV’s signal last August and hired a slew of U.S. TV news veterans like Soledad O’Brien and John Seigenthaler. It is available in nearly 60 million U.S. homes.

    Gore and co-founder and former Current TV CEO Joel Hyatt each had 20 percent stakes in Current, while Comcast Corp. had less than a 10 percent stake. Another major investor in Current TV was supermarket magnate and entertainment industry investor Ron Burkle.

  • Minister Who Called Out Black Community Following Ferguson Riots Has a Message for Al Sharpton
    Posted August 15, 2014 at 1:53 pm by Jonathon M. Seidl

    Comments (187)

    On Tuesday, Johnathan Gentry became an Internet sensation when he went on rant against the black community following the riots in Ferguson, Missouri, and the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. Friday, he doubled down in a passionate appearance on Fox News, calling out everyone from President Obama to the NAACP and Al Sharpton.

    “I hate to say this, but I’m going to tell you what you need to hear as opposed to what you want to hear!” Gentry, identified by Fox as a minister and who is based in Los Angeles, said earlier in the week. “All we know how to do is blame the police and white folks for our actions. That’s all we know how to do is blame police and white folks.”

    “‘They mistreating us,’” he added in a mocking voice. “‘They beating on us. Oh slavery still exists. Oh oh.’ I’m sick of it!”

    Watch the original six-minute rant:

    On Friday, he picked up right where he left off, turning his attention to Al Sharpton and others after he was asked about them.

    He started by asking Sharpton “Where were you?” in regards to shootings in Chicago and California.

    “You only come around when something happens with the police or Caucasians. You’re not there for the black community so you need to stop fronting — and NAACP as well. I want to call them out as well! They’re good for nothing. All they do is perpetuate hate.”

    He also referenced comments from NBA player Gilbert Arenas, who called out Sharpton, too.

    As for Obama? “Same old song and dance.”

    “It’s just PR in my opinion,” he added. “Someone just handed him a note and said, ‘Speak.’”

    He also went on to place blame on Brown and his friend for what happened:

    If you two brothers would have just moved to the sidewalk like the officer said, we would not be here. If you would have just moved to the sidewalk and obeyed, we would not be here. 1 Samuel 15:23: “Rebellion is at the sin of witchcraft.” This went from stage one, stage two, stage three, here we are, stage five. Total chaos.

    Watch it below:


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  • Atheist Richard Dawkins’ Controversial Claim About How ‘Moderate Religious People’ Might Be Empowering Religious Extremists
    Posted August 15, 2014 at 1:51 pm by Billy Hallowell

    Comments (317)

    Famed evolutionary biologist and atheist leader Richard Dawkins reportedly said this week that “nice Christians” and “nice Muslims” might actually be making the “world safe for extremists.”

    While speaking at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in the U.K. on Wednesday, Dawkins apparently claimed that moderates inadvertently contribute to faith-fueled fundamentalism and extremism.

    “It’s very important that we should not demonize ordinary, law-abiding, very decent Muslims which of course is the vast majority in this country,” Dawkins said, according to the Telegraph.

    Headliner Richard Dawkins, founder of The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, speaks during the National Atheist Organization’s ‘Reason Rally’ March 24, 2012 on the National Mall in Washington, DC. (Allison Shelley/Getty Images)

    He continued, “What I do think about the difference, and let’s leave out Muslims specifically, but the difference between moderate religious people and extremist fundamentalists is that although of course it’s only a tiny minority of any sect which is ever going to get violent or horrible, there is a sense in which the moderate, nice religious people — nice Christians, nice Muslims — make the world safe for extremists.”

    Dawkins went on to say that moderate religious people who are kind create the notion that “there’s something good about religion” and that there are benefits to bringing children up to embrace theological ideals. He such such a notion leads people to believe in something without having evidence or the need to offer justification.

    “They’re entitled simply to say ‘oh that’s my faith, I believe it, you’re not allowed to question it and you’re not allowed to ask me why I hold it,” he continued.

    It is this very ideal that Dawkins took issue with, saying it could lead to fundamentalism and extremism.

    “Once you teach people that that’s a legitimate reason for believing something then you as it were give a license to the extremists who say, ‘My belief is that I’m supposed to be a suicide bomber or I’m supposed to blow up buildings — it’s my faith and you can’t question that,’” he added, according to the Telegraph.

    British ethologist, evolutionary biologist and author Richard Dawkins speaks during Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) in Jaipur on January 24, 2012. (PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images)

    Dawkins, who said he’s sure moderates would be horrified by the notion that they are helping fuel radicalism, posited that “nevertheless it could be true.”

    Dawkins also told the audience during the same appearance that he wasn’t always the outspoken atheist activist he is now. In fact, when he was 13 years old, he prayed regularly and sought God out over a two-year period, the Guardian reported.

    “I was briefly seduced by it and took it all in and would pray very vigorously every night,” Dawkins said.

    The atheist leader recently came under fire for tweets about “date rape,” “stranger rape,” “mild pedophilia” and “violent pedophilia.”

    (H/T: Telegraph)

  • How Many VA Officials Have Been Fired? VA Secretary Says It’s ‘Not Relevant’
    Posted August 15, 2014 at 1:34 pm by Pete Kasperowicz

    Comments (64)

    Newly minted Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald on Thursday brushed aside a question about how many VA officials involved in the health care scandal have been fired, and said that information is “not relevant.”

    “That’s not relevant,” McDonald told reporters Thursday, according to the Associated Press. “I mean, what’s relevant is what’s happened here in Memphis.”

    Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald is downplaying the idea of firing VA workers for their role in the health care scandal. (AP Photo/David Becker)

    McDonald also said he wants to ensure any VA officials who are disciplined are allowed due process. “You’ve got to treat that person with respect,” he said. “They have to be allowed a certain due process that’s allowed them by law or by statute or by policy.”

    He said he would not reveal to reporters any information about the names of VA officials who are being considered for disciplinary action, but added that he would hold people accountable and do that “as quickly as we possibly can.”

    Still, McDonald has given the impression in his first two weeks on the job that he may be less interested in firing VA officials than many had hoped. He has said on a few occasions that the VA is filled with “good people.”

    “Here’s what I’m learning,” he said Wednesday. “We have good people at VA — many of them veterans. They are passionate about serving veterans, and they are working hard to fix our system so they can provide superior service. So, we’re on their team, and they’ve got our support.”

    And in a list of 17 steps he has taken so far, he did not mention anything about firing officials.

    His comments are known to be causing some worry among veterans groups, many of whom pushed for tough legislation in Congress to punish officials involved in the delays that thousands of veterans faced getting access to health care, and the ensuing coverup.

    In the end, Congress approved an expedited disciplinary process that gives VA employees access to an appeals process. But so far, McDonald has not said publicly whether he would use that process at all.

    In late July, the VA said it is considering disciplining six employees, but is only looking at firing two of them. That low number contrasts sharply with evidence dug up by reporters and congressional investigators, which indicates that many more VA officials all around the country worked to delay health care access, covered up those delays, and even harassed people who tried to blow the whistle on the scheme.

  • ‘A Little Piece of History’: We Went Inside the Smithsonian With an Expert to Talk Shark Teeth (Plus, How You Can Find Your Own)
    Posted August 15, 2014 at 1:14 pm by Liz Klimas

    Comments (14)

    This year is David Bohaska’s 50th anniversary. Not for his wedding — he and his wife are just celebrating their 30th — but for when he found his first fossil, a shark tooth.

    “It started on a seventh-grade field trip and I got hooked,” Bohaska, a museum specialist at the Smithsonian Institution, told me of his fossil-hunting passion while we sat in the bowels of the Natural History Museum in Washington, D.C., among rows of ancient bones in protective cases and cabinets holding drawers upon drawers of carefully categorized fossils.

    Bohaska still has that first mako shark tooth found at Calvert Cliffs State Park in Lusby, Maryland, because “back then I kept everything.”

    David Bohaska shows off some of the Smithsonian's collection behind-the-scenes in the Natural History Museum in D.C. (Photo credit: Liz Klimas/TheBlaze)

    David Bohaska shows off some of the Smithsonian Institution’s collection behind the scenes at the Natural History Museum in Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Liz Klimas/TheBlaze)

    Nearly 30 years after Bohaska found his first tooth, third-grader Eric Hillman was visiting Calvert Cliffs as well. He waded into the deeper water, thinking that the farther out he went, the larger the shark teeth buried below could be. He scooped up a handful of sand, brought it back to the dry beach and spread it out, sifting through the pebbles looking for his treasure.

    “When I found that first shark tooth, you almost had to take a second look at it,” he said. 

    Like Bohaska, Hillman was also hooked on fossil hunting in that moment. Bohaska would go on to become an expert, specializing in marine mammals and marine life, and working at the Smithsonian for the last 25 years; Hillman would maintain an amateur passion and to this day plans to go cage-diving with sharks to “see how powerful they really are down there.”

    I learned of Eric’s shark tooth collection the first time I “met the parents.” He’s my husband. He would later tell me that he knew I was a “keeper” when I didn’t freak out or laugh upon seeing his “nerdy” collection. As someone who created a pretty extensive insect collection for an entomology class myself, which involved killing many of them in fumes of ethyl alcohol for later positioning and pinning, I was unfazed. Years later, after we were married, his parents decided to divest themselves of Eric’s childhood keepsakes, putting them into our care. Now that the shark teeth reside in my own apartment in the D.C. metro area, I decided to take some of these pieces of history to the Smithsonian for evaluation and get my own inside look at their own collection, not to mention glean some tips for how the average person can find their own shark teeth and other fossils.

    Eric Hillman's full collection of shark teeth, which includes a few that he purchased but the majority he found in Calvert Cliffs State Park in Maryland and Venice Beach, Florida. (Photo credit: Liz Klimas/TheBlaze)

    Eric Hillman’s full collection of shark teeth, which includes a few that he purchased, but the majority of which he found in Calvert Cliffs State Park in Maryland and Venice Beach, Florida. (Photo credit: Liz Klimas/TheBlaze)

    ‘Shark Teeth Are More Complicated Than You Might Think’

    When I opened the wooden display box and unwrapped the shark teeth — carefully packaged in preparation for my ride on the D.C. metro transit system — in the storage and office facility below the main exhibit halls of the Natural History Museum on Wednesday, Bohaska immediately identified most of Eric’s teeth as Carcharodon megalodon, which you might recognize by its common name: megalodon.

    These are the only teeth from Eric's collection that I brought to the Smithsonian for an expert look. (Photo credit: Liz Klimas/TheBlaze)

    These are the only teeth from Eric’s collection that I brought to the Smithsonian for an expert look. (Photo credit: Liz Klimas/TheBlaze)

    The museum’s ocean exhibit hall contains a reproduction of what scientists think a megalodon’s jaw would look like, based on the structure of a modern shark. When we trekked up there to check out the jaw that an adult could comfortably stand inside, Bohaska explained that the first row of teeth on the top and bottom are real fossils while the rest were created from molds. He also noted that experts now think the shark, which scientists estimate lived 2 million years ago, would not be able to open his jaw quite so wide as the example in the museum.

    Megalodon's jaw as seen in the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History. (Photo credit: Liz Klimas/TheBlaze)

    A reproduction of a megalodon’s jaw as seen in the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of Natural History. (Photo credit: Liz Klimas/TheBlaze)

    Eric said he didn’t find any of the extinct megalodon teeth on his childhood hunts, but saved up his lawn-mowing and snow-shoveling money and purchased them.

    The other three teeth in the display case, which Eric did find on one of his trips to the Calvert Cliffs in Maryland or in Venice Beach, Florida, Bohaska said, were from sharks known as Hemipristis serra, or snaggle tooth sharks.

    Large fossils of sharks are rare finds due to their cartilaginous skeletons, which are likely to decompose before they can become fossilized over time. This is why shark teeth fossils are often found loose and not in a jaw. It’s also why, Bohaska said as we sat at a table with a reproduction of a prehistoric alligator jaw off to our right, there have been issues in the past with identifying sharks based on tooth specimens.

    This isn't the actual fossil, but a replica made by the museum. (Photo credit: Liz Klimas/TheBlaze)

    This isn’t the actual fossil, but a replica made by the museum. (Photo credit: Liz Klimas/TheBlaze)

    “Shark teeth are more complicated than you might think,” he said. “Upper and lower teeth can be different, front to back, and depending on the age of the shark, the teeth can change.

    “And in the old days … with fossil sharks, they’d find a new tooth and they’d name it a new species,” Bohaska added, explaining that while the teeth might look different they can, in fact, come from the same species.

    But “that’s the nature of science,” Bohaska shrugged.

    “We’re never 100 percent ‘this is it,’ and I’m sure years from now people are going to think things that I wrote were garbage,” he joked.

    What makes a find important enough to keep in the Smithsonian’s collection these days, Bohaska said, is if it is rare or it is found “in situ,” or the surrounding substrate. This would allow scientists to glean more information about the fossil, based on its location in the sediment and what was around it.

    A fossil part of the museum's collection that is not on display. This one is significant because much of the skeleton is complete, even if bones are not technically in the all right places. (Photo credit: Liz Klimas/TheBlaze)

    A fossil part of the museum’s collection that is not on display. This one is significant because much of the skeleton is complete, even if bones are not technically in the all right places. (Photo credit: Liz Klimas/TheBlaze)

    “To us, the information that comes with a fossil, in most cases, is much more important than the actual fossil itself,” Bohaska said, adding that it’s the stratigraphic level, which can help them identify geological time, and its location that help give the fossil a larger context.

    Later, while we were walking up and down aisles of quarter cabinets, Bohaska pulled out dozens of drawers to show me just some of the thousands of shark teeth and vertebral centra, the disks that make up its equivalent of a spine.

    The round disks are shark vertebral centra. (Photo credit: Liz Klimas/TheBlaze)

    The round disks are shark vertebral centra. (Photo credit: Liz Klimas/TheBlaze)

    Some of the thousands of shark teeth held by the museum. (Photo credit: Liz Klimas/TheBlaze)

    Some of the thousands of shark teeth held by the museum. (Photo credit: Liz Klimas/TheBlaze)

    Why keep so many specimens in their collection if they’re not for display? Several reasons, according to Bohaska.

    First, the museum is obligated to keep a collection if it has been part of scientific research while in their care, just in case someone ever wants to re-evaluate the study or conduct other analysis. Other factors for keeping multiple examples from the same species include possible variation within the species and just in case destructive analysis has to be conducted. The latter is when researchers have to drill, cut or cause other damage to analyze specimens. Having multiple examples allows the museum to facilitate such research when necessary while still having intact fossil examples.

    Hunting for Your Own Shark Teeth

    There are several places around the country where fossilized shark teeth can be found, but Bohaska has some specific tips for amateur hunters.

    He suggested people go out at low tide because areas that are at other times less exposed will be out of the water.

    When he heads out to hunt for fossils — he went twice just this past weekend living near the Calvert Cliffs, prime fossil-hunting grounds off the Chesapeake Bay — he said he looks in gravel, rather than shells, though cool fragments can certainly be found in shell debris as well.

    For the Calvert Cliffs, specifically, Bohaska said “the great secret” is to go after a few days with a northwest wind because it “blows water out of the bay,” meaning fresh fossils could have tumbled town with it.

    Most shark teeth fossils have turned a brown or black color, so be looking for that rather than white. The color is the result of minerals they have been exposed to over time.

    It can take some time to get the hang of finding shark teeth.

    When I went shark tooth hunting once with Eric, I found zero teeth while he found three. Bohaska suggested someone with an already trained eye who finds a tooth should mark the area with a circle and tell others who are still learning to try to find it within that marking.

    When it comes time to measure your shark teeth, the “official Smithsonian way,” Bohaska demonstrated, is to hold the tooth upright with its base at the bottom, with the tip in the air. Measure with a ruler from the base straight up to the tip.

    Enthusiasts, like Eric, find shark teeth so fascinating because ”you always feel like you’re holding a little piece of history, like you’re holding a dinosaur,” he said.

  • 72-Year-Old Woman Kicked Off Delta Flight in Tears Because She Looked ‘Contagious’
    Posted August 15, 2014 at 12:50 pm by Liz Klimas

    Comments (48)

    A 72-year-old woman left a plane in tears after the crew asked her to disembark when someone reported her as looking ill and possibly contagious before takeoff.

    Suzanne Hays was flying from Akron, Ohio, to Orlando with a connection in Detroit on August 5 when a fellow passenger on what was supposed to be the second leg of her trip complained to Delta’s crew about her, WTLV-TV reported.

    “Then she came back and said they’ve moved us because I might be contagious,” Hays told the news station about the situation. “Contagious with what?”

    Suzanne Hays said she left a Delta plane set to depart from Detroit to Orlando earlier this month after she was asked to disembark when someone thought she was contagious. She was rebooked on other flight but says she's never been treated that way. (Image source: -TV)

    Suzanne Hays said she left a Delta plane set to depart from Detroit to Orlando earlier this month after she was asked to disembark when someone thought she was contagious. She was rebooked on other flight but says she’s never been treated that way. (Image source: WTLV-TV)

    Afterward, Hays said that she was asked to disembark and told if she didn’t do so willingly, airport police could get involved.

    “I started crying and crying,” she told WTLV. ”[They were] acting like I had leprosy. It was awful. I have never been treated like that in my life.”

    A Delta representative told TheBlaze in an emailed statement that it is investigating this matter.

    “Our agents and crew take very serious the charge of ensuring customer and employee safety and security. We regret the disruption that incurs from removing any customer, and our goal is to work to re-accommodate them as quickly as possible,” the statement read.

    While Hays doesn’t have any contagious diseases, she does have a neurological disorder, which might account for her pale complexion, according to WTLV.

    Watch the news station’s report:

    Hays ended up getting off the aircraft without further confrontation and was given a $20 food voucher, the news station reported. Within an hour and half, she was put on another flight to Orlando.

    Sherri Toth, Hays daughter, told WTLV she was “speechless” when she heard how another passenger saying “this woman is contagious she needs to be kicked off the plane,” knocked her mother to the next flight.

    (H/T: Daily Mail)

  • NBA Star Jeremy Lin Reveals the ‘Greatest Sin’ He Struggles With: ‘I Need God More Than I Ever Imagined’
    Posted August 15, 2014 at 11:54 am by Billy Hallowell

    Comments (36)

    NBA player Jeremy Lin, who became an overnight sensation during the “Linsanity” craze that took the media by storm back in 2012, recently revealed the biggest sin he struggles with: pride.

    Lin, 25, who made the admission while answering fan questions on his Facebook page last week, said that humility is something he truly needs to keep in check.

    “I’m not humble. Pride is my greatest sin I struggle with,” Lin said. “But I’d say as I get older, go through more experiences in life and face tougher obstacles, I realize that I’m more sinful and need God more than I ever imagined.”

    NBA Los Angeles Lakers player Jeremy Lin waves as he arrives at a media event in Taipei, Taiwan, Friday, July 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)
     

    He made these comments while fielding questions during a social media campaign he called “Fan Appreciation Week,” an effort to interact with his social media supporters. Lin’s admission was a direct response to a Facebook user named Joey Lau who asked, “How do you keep getting more humble the more attention you get?”

    Another individual named Shawn Le asked what Lin has to say to “all the doubters in the world,” with the basketball star responding, “Nothing. I play for the Man upstairs.”

    Lin also answered more comical and light-hearted questions like, “Who is your favorite Ninja Turtle” and “What’s your favorite karaoke song?” His respective responses: Leonardo and “I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys.

    Houston Rockets’ Jeremy Lin (7) and Dwight Howard (12) react to a foul call against the Portland Trail Blazers during the final minutes of game six of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series game in Portland, Ore., Friday May 2, 2014. (AP Photo/Greg Wahl-Stephens)

    Lin, an outspoken Christian, captured headlines when he led the New York Knicks on a 7-game winning streak during his first NBA season.

    His performance sparked a flurry of media coverage and support that affectionately became known as “Linsanity,” according to the Christian Post.

    Lin was later traded to the Houston Rockets in 2012 and be playing next season for the Los Angeles Lakers.

    (H/T: Charisma News)

  • Mother Angry After Some of Her 16-Year-Old Son’s Organs Were Rejected Because…He Was Gay
    Posted August 15, 2014 at 11:15 am by Liz Klimas

    Comments (142)

    An Iowa teen became the fifth person from one high school to commit suicide in the last five years, but before he took his own life in July, his mother says, he became an organ donor.

    The kidneys, liver, heart and lungs of AJ Betts from Des Moines found suitable matches, but his eyes were rejected for a reason that has his mother saddened and upset.

    “My initial feeling was just very angry because I couldn’t understand why my 16-year-old son’s eyes couldn’t be donated just because he was gay,” Sheryl Moore told KCCI-TV.

    AJ Bett committed suicide earlier this year, but expressed his wish to be an organ donor beforehand. While some of his organs were donated, his mother was upset to learn his eyes were rejected because he was gay. (Image source: KCCI-TV)

    AJ Bett committed suicide earlier this year, but expressed his wish to be an organ donor beforehand. While some of his organs were donated, his mother was upset to learn his eyes were rejected because he was gay and whether or not he had had male sex within the last five years was not known. (Image source: KCCI-TV)

    Moore’s son came out as homosexual more than a year ago. The mother told the Des Moines Register last month after his death that she believed it was bullying over his sexual orientation and mixed-race that drove him to suicide.

    Moore told KCCI that because she wasn’t sure about the status of her son’s sexual activity — he had never had a boyfriend but she could not confirm he wasn’t sexually active — it was assumed by the organ donation network that he had male sex within the last five years. As a result, he could not donate tissues or his eyes due to current federal regulations.

    Watch KCCI’s report:

    According to the Food and Drug Administration, donors of “human cells, tissues and cellular and tissue-phased products” may not include men who have had sex with another man within the last five years.  Men who have had sex with any man since 1977 can never donate blood, according to the FDA’s policies that have been in place since the 1980s, due to increased risk for disease transmission, including HIV and hepatitis B.

    If some of the gay teen’s organs were donated though, why were his eyes rejected? Jennifer Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for the FDA, told TheBlaze that due to the long waiting list for organ donations, some “criteria for donation are different for organs compared to other criteria for tissues, since the supply of tissues is more robust.”

    “FDA’s regulation of tissues, such as cornea, bone, ligament, skin, dura mater and heart valves, establishes layers of safeguards that are meant to prevent the spread of communicable diseases, such as HIV and hepatitis, through donated tissue,” Rodriguez continued in an email.

    The FDA’s regulation that restricts men who have had male sex within five years from donating tissues specifies that “vascularized human organs” are not considered “human cells, tissues or cellular or tissue-based products.” Thus, the five-year restriction does not necessarily apply to some organs.

    Still, some like Moore think the rule regardless is “archaic.”

    “[I]t is just silly that people wouldn’t get the life-saving assistance they need because of regulations that are 30 years old,” Moore told KCCI.

    And she’s not alone in holding this perspective. Last month, some lawmakers in California gathered in the Silicon Valley to support the National Gay Blood Drive, KPIX-TV reported.

    “The federal government has, using outdated science, effectively banned gay and bisexual men from donating blood,” Rep. Mike Honda (D-San Jose) said in a statement. “The American Medical Association opposes the permanent ban, in favor of a policy that focuses on individual behavior rather than sexual orientation. The current ban turns away many willing and worthy donors, and helps perpetuate decades-old stereotypes about gay and bisexual men.”

    (H/T: Washington Post)

  • The Director of Glenn Beck’s Favorite Movie Compares The Tea Party To Hamas: It Needs to be ‘Eliminated’
    Posted August 15, 2014 at 11:10 am by Mike Opelka

    Comments (387)

    Glenn Beck has frequently said that Rob Reiner’s “The Princess Bride” is one of his favorite movies.

    Image: http://princessbrideforever.com

    Image: http://princessbrideforever.com

    While Beck may like some of the movies made by the Hollywood heavyweight, it is unlikely that he will find common ground with Reiner on the subject of the Tea Party.

    Reiner recently appeared on Larry King’s Russia Today television program, “Politicking with Larry King.”

    Image: Screen capture ora.tv

    Image: Screen capture ora.tv

    King spoke with Reiner about the death of Robin Williams, Hollywood’s influence over pop culture, and the ongoing conflict between Hamas and Israel.

    During the discussion about Israel, Reiner was quite clear about his belief that Hamas must be eliminated. He then went on to compare Hamas to the Tea Party, stating, “anytime you’re dealing with an extreme group, you cannot negotiate with them, and the way to do it is to eliminate it.”  Reiner went on to clarify that “elimination” of the Tea Party would require a political solution, adding, “you have to wait till 2020 to redistrict, but that is really tough stuff.”

    Watch the segment from ora.com’s  ”Politicking with Larry King“:

    H/T – CNSNews.com

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    Follow Mike Opelka (@Stuntbrain) on Twitter.

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