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  • White House Pushed on Ex-CIA Director’s Benghazi Assertions: ‘Was He Lying Then or Is He Lying Now?’
    Posted May 12, 2015 at 3:30 pm by Fred Lucas

    Comments (17)

    The White House is choosing to focus more on what former CIA Deputy Director Mike Morell has written than what he said in an interview aired Monday on Fox News.

    Morell was asked about the White House assertion that a memo about the notorious Sunday show talking points was not specifically referring to the Benghazi terrorist attack, but on unrest in the region, which included riots outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.

    “I don’t believe that. I believe it was about Benghazi,” Morell said on Fox News Monday. “Because the second tick in those talking points was something to the order of, we need to — we need to bring to justice those people who have harmed Americans. And the only place that happened was Benghazi.”

    White House press secretary Josh Earnest speaks about the resignation of Secret Service Director Julia Pierson amid a recent White House security breach, Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014, during his daily news briefing at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

    AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

    Fox News reporter Kevin Corke asked during Tuesday’s White House press briefing whether the White House actually misled reporters and the public.

    “My reaction is that Mr. Morell makes clear that the talking points surrounding the Benghazi attack were not politicized,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said. “What he wrote is that there is no such conspiracy, as I’ve already explained, and there is no evidence to support such a theory. No committee of Congress that has studied this has come to this conclusion.”

    Morell has a new book out that covers Benghazi, among other things.

    “He went so far as to call Benghazi the ‘poster child of the intrusion of politics into national security,’” Earnest said. “He went on to say ‘I believe Benghazi is an example of what is wrong with American politics, politicians focused on scoring points rather than working together to advance the interest of our country.’ And with that, I would wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Morell.”

    Corke followed, “Yesterday he said that Jay [Carney, the former White House spokesman] misled the public and reporters in suggesting that memo was not politicized. Was he lying then or is he lying now?”

    Earnest stayed focused on the book.

    “The point that Mr. Morell makes in his book is the relevant one, which is it is false to suggest that this tragedy has been politicized by the administration,” he said.

  • Austrian Crosswalk Signals Redesigned to Be Gay-Friendly
    Posted May 12, 2015 at 3:28 pm by Jon Street

    Comments (154)

    VIENNA (AP) — Some Vienna pedestrian traffic lights are suddenly not only red or green. They’re also gay or straight.

    And Austria’s right-wing Freedom Party is livid.

    Over the past few days, the city started setting up lights at pedestrian crossings that show pairs of figures instead of the usual stick men. Some depict a man and a woman. Others, two women. Still others, two men. All couples are complete with hearts.

    The lights are being erected at 47 crossings and will stay up until June. Vienna hosts several events linked to tolerance during that time, including the Life Ball, Europe’s biggest charity event for AIDS and HIV research, and the Eurovision Song Contest, won last year by Austrian cross-dressing pop star Conchita Wurst.

    Pedestrians were neutral to positive when asked Tuesday whether they liked the concept.

    “I think this is a great idea,” said Clemens Bendtner. “The topic of equality and equal treatment is a very important issue, and it is getting some attention through the campaign.”

    But not all Austrians are amused. The Freedom Party has announced it is lodging a criminal complaint against Vienna Councilwoman Maria Vassilakou, who is in charge of traffic issues in the city.

    Party officials say the lights contravene traffic regulations and are a waste of taxpayers’ money at a cost of 63,000 euros ($70,000).

    The city in turn says that the lights conform to laws – and are meant not only to show tolerance. Municipal officials say they also hope the signals will draw more attention from pedestrians and reduce jay-walking.

  • Beck Tears Into ‘Communist Hippies’ Who Are ‘Destroying People’s Lives’ With Minimum Wage Demands
    Posted May 12, 2015 at 3:00 pm by Erica Ritz

    Comments (148)

    Glenn Beck on Tuesday tore into “communist hippies” who he said are “destroying people’s lives” with minimum wage demands.

    “How is that $15 an hour wage working out for you, Seattle?” Beck demanded on his radio program. “You’re getting rid of all those pesky restaurants?”

    “So far the minimum wage has only risen to $11 an hour,” Beck’s co-host Stu Burguiere clarified. “It will keep rising every year until it gets to $15 an hour. Restaurants are now scrambling to figure out how they will pay for it.”

    Beck was appalled that some business owners in Seattle didn’t realize how the minimum wage increase could negatively impact both employees and consumers. Some are even being forced to close their establishments because of the cost, putting their employees out of an income altogether.

    “A ‘livable wage’ is such an insane point because people don’t have any wage when you have to fire them because you’re closing your freaking restaurants!” Burguiere said. “It makes no sense at all.”

    Glenn Beck speaks on his radio program May 12, 2015. (Photo: TheBlaze TV)

    Glenn Beck speaks on his radio program May 12, 2015. (Photo: TheBlaze TV)

    “And who has destroyed [the restaurants]? Not the free market. The government!” Beck added. “That is the opposite of the American dream and the American way.”

    “I grew up in Seattle,” Beck continued heatedly. “My grandparents were right. All the freaks that are too good for California are moving up here and they’ll wreck this state. And they did. They wrecked it!”

    Beck and his co-hosts also discussed those demanding that McDonald’s increase its minimum wage to $15 an hour.

    “Damn hippies,” Beck said. “Shave your armpits and get a clue. … These communist hippies are coming around and they’re trying to preach $15 an hour. They’re destroying people’s lives! I mean, you want to run McDonald’s out of business? McDonald’s is doing a great job by themselves.”

    Beck referenced a new initiative to add kale to the menu, which he said will be a colossal failure.

    “Forget the kale,” Beck said. “Nobody wants kale from McDonald’s. Nobody wants kale! I don’t go to fancy restaurants and get kale.”

    “You can’t forget who took you to the party,” Beck continued. “Big, fat guys like us and little kids that love the clown and love to go and have a good McDonald’s burger. Moms eating, you know, yogurt and berries did not take you to the party. We like your fries. We like your burgers the way they are. Leave it alone.”

    Complimentary Clip from TheBlaze TV

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  • Christianity in Crisis? New Study Shows Big Drop in America
    Posted May 12, 2015 at 2:59 pm by Billy Hallowell

    Comments (444)

    A new study released by the Pew Research Center shows a rise in the proportion of Americans who are not affiliated with a specific religion, with a substantial decline in the overall proportion of self-identified Christians.

    Despite the results, the United States remains a majority Christian country, with 70.6 percent falling under the Bible-based umbrella in 2014. This is a decrease of eight percentage points, though, from 2007 when the study found that 78.4 percent of the nation embraced Christianity.

    Christians Decline as Share of U.S. Population; Other Faiths and the Unaffiliated Are Growing
    Based on margins of error, Christianity lost between 2.8 and 7.8 million followers over the past seven years, with the largest drop observed within mainline Protestantism, a group of denominations known for embracing more theologically progressive ideals.

    While there were 41 million mainline Protestants in 2007, that number dropped to around 36 million last year. This comes as denominations under that umbrella continue to splinter over the embrace of homosexuality and same-sex nuptials.

    Catholicism, too, experienced a notable decline, with 23.9 percent of the country embracing the faith in 2007 and 20.8 doing so in 2014.

    One of the other indicators that has gained a great deal of attention over the years is the proportion of “nones” — people who are either atheist, agnostic or are simply disconnected from a specific faith. This proportion moved from 16.1 percent in 2007 to 22.8 percent in 2014.

    It’s important to examine the “nones” in their separate subgroups, though, to see whether nonbelief is on the rise or whether there are simply more people saying that they no longer associate with a faith or denomination; these latter individuals are not necessarily nonbelievers.

    Changing U.S. Religious Landscape
    Consider that 1.6 percent of the population called itself “atheist” in 2007, though that proportion now stands at 3.1 percent.

    Likewise, 2.4 percent considered themselves agnostic; that proportion is now at 4.0 percent, meaning that atheists and agnostics account for 7.1 percent of the population, up from 5 percent in 2007.

    There has also been movement among those who claim no affiliation, increasing from 12.1 percent to 15.8 percent. And when it comes to people of faith who are not Christian, there’s an increase from 4.7 percent of the population in 2007 to 5.9 percent last year.

    Some experts have noted, though, that Christianity may not be losing ardent followers. Instead, some who were culturally Christian and who previously aligned with the faith — yet never truly believed — are beginning to stop their affiliation.

    Read the entire Pew study here.

    Front page image via Shutterstock.com.

  • Defiant Dems Block Obama’s Trade Authority
    Posted May 12, 2015 at 2:56 pm by Pete Kasperowicz

    Comments (66)

    Senate Democrats on Tuesday stood up to President Barack Obama and blocked legislation that would give him the power to negotiate trade agreements that cannot be amended by Congress, even as Senate Republicans voted for the measure.

    The Senate held a procedural vote on a bill to give Obama that authority, one that needed 60 votes to keep the bill alive. But the Senate couldn’t reach that threshold, and instead held a mostly party-line 52-45 vote.

    Barack Obama

    President Barack Obama lost a key trade vote in the Senate on Tuesday, as Democrats roundly rejected the idea of giving him trade promotion authority. (AP)

    In the short term, the vote dashes Obama’s immediate hope of bolstering his economy legacy, and will force supporters of so-called trade promotion authority, or TPA, to explore other ways to advance the bill. Just before the vote, White House spokesman Josh Earnest was calling the expected result a “procedural snafu.”

    Earlier in the day, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said a vote for the bill would help open up foreign markets to U.S.-made goods, and said it’s a jobs bill. “It’s a chance to stand with Americans for economic growth, opportunity, and good jobs,” he said.

    But many Democrats have spent more than a decade arguing that traditional trade agreements only serve to promote low-wage labor overseas and less protection for the environment. The issue immediately split Democrats once it became clear that congressional Republicans would try to move legislation giving Obama TPA.

    Democrats like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) said they would not support the bill, which prompted Obama to say last month that Warren “is wrong on this.” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who is running for president as a Democrat, also opposed the bill.

    These Democrats had the last say in Tuesday’s procedural vote. The vote was held after Democrats warned again that they wanted the bill to include other trade proposals they do support, such as language that would help workers who lose their jobs because of trade, and language to boost enforcement of U.S. trade laws.

    Earlier in the day, McConnell promised the Senate could hold amendment votes on these measures, but stopped short of combining all these bills into one right away, as Democrats wanted. It’s possible that Republicans may rethink that idea in light of today’s vote, but McConnell warned that in his party, it may not be so easy to package all the elements together in one bill.

    Shortly after noon, Democrats came out of a meeting in which even pro-trade Democrats said they would oppose the deal. There was some talk of canceling the vote, but Republicans held it even though they knew it would fail.

    Technically, Tuesday’s vote was to end debate on a motion to proceed to legislation that would give Obama TPA. Sixty votes were needed, and with 54 Republicans in the Senate, that meant several Democrats would have been needed.

    After the vote, McConnell said Democrats themselves had agreed that the customs and trade enforcement bill should come up separately, in particular because Democrats want to put language on the bill to help the U.S. fight foreign currency manipulation, which they see as a trade barrier. McConnell said even some Democrats have agreed that putting the currency language on the TPA bill would kill TPA, since the White House wouldn’t support it.

    “It would defeat the bill,” McConnell said.

    TPA lets Obama negotiate trade agreements, subject to certain specifications laid out in the bill, that cannot be amended by Congress. Instead, they must be considered as they are negotiated in an up-or-down vote.

    The prohibition on amendments is aimed at avoiding a situation in which the executive branch negotiates an agreement that could be picked apart in Congress by various amendments. TPA, which used to be called fast-track authority, has been given to almost every modern president, and without it, U.S. trading partners have historically been reluctant to finalize any trade agreements with the United States.

  • Three Years Ago, He Found Her Bloodied and Stabbed 32 Times by Her Ex-Boyfriend. Monday Night, He Changed Her Life for a Second Time.
    Posted May 12, 2015 at 2:49 pm by Madeleine Morgenstern

    Comments (68)

    Three years ago, Melissa Dohme lay on the pavement in front of her Florida home, soaked in blood. She had been stabbed 32 times by her ex-boyfriend.

    One of the first responders who arrived on the scene was Cameron Hill, a firefighter and paramedic. ”It was so bad,” Hill recalled in 2013, “you couldn’t tell she was blond.”

    He helped load Dohme onto a helicopter, and then, he said, he felt a “sixth sense.” He knew it wouldn’t be the last he saw her.

    Monday night, he proposed to her at the pitcher’s mound at a Tampa Bay Rays game.

    When Melissa Dohme was attacked by an ex-boyfriend in 2012, an EMT named Cameron Hill came to her rescue and helped save…

    Posted by Tampa Bay Rays on Monday, May 11, 2015

    Dohme, now an advocate for survivors of domestic abuse, was preparing to throw out the first pitch when out ran a man to hand her the ball. It said in ink: “Will you marry me?” Hill got down on one knee and opened up a small box.

    She said yes, they kissed — and then she threw the pitch to her new fiancé.

    Tampa Rays baseball proposal

    Image source: WFTS-TV

    Dohme was stabbed in the face, back, arms and shoulders. She spent three weeks in the hospital after that horrific night, the Tampa Bay Times reported. She suffered a stroke and a severed nerve that affected her balance and partly paralyzed her face. But she walked out of rehab on her own, traveled the world, and went back to school to become a nurse.

    She and Hill reconnected 10 months after her attack, when she spoke at a Clearwater church. Initial awkwardness gave way to feelings of love. Pretty soon, they were inseparable.

    Dohme’s ex-boyfriend, Robert Burton Jr., pleaded guilty to attempted murder and is serving life in prison.

    Dohme told the Tampa Bay Times in 2013, ”When I look back on that night, I can’t think of it as all bad anymore because I met Cameron.”

    “He’s the one I’ve been waiting for. My fairy tale.”

    (H/T: Washington Post)

  • U.S. Marine Chopper Delivering Aid to Nepal Reported Missing After Possible Fuel Problem
    Posted May 12, 2015 at 2:45 pm by Jon Street

    Comments (7)

    WASHINGTON (AP) — A U.S. military helicopter carrying six Marines and two Nepalese Army soldiers went missing during a mission in Nepal delivering aid to earthquake victims, U.S. defense officials said Tuesday, but so far there have been no indications that the aircraft crashed.

    U.S. Army Col. Steve Warren said an Indian helicopter in the air nearby at the time heard radio chatter about a possible fuel problem. He said the Huey had dropped off supplies in one location and was en route to a second site when contact was lost. He said officials are hopeful that the aircraft is simply missing because there has been no smoke or other signs of a crash.

    Navy Capt. Chris Sims says the Huey was conducting disaster relief operations near Charikot, Nepal, on Tuesday, around 9 a.m. EDT.

    Warren said other U.S. aircraft had searched the area, but because it’s now dark members of the Nepalese military are conducting the search on foot. He said they are moving toward the second aid location to see if the helicopter landed near there.

    The aircraft is part of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469.

    The incident is under investigation.

  • Man Set Out to Retrace Reese Witherspoon’s Steps in Hiking Movie and Found an Iconic Prop Used in the Film
    Posted May 12, 2015 at 2:08 pm by Jon Street

    Comments (33)

    A man from Washington State who was hiking in Oregon has made a “Wild” find – and it’s straight out of Hollywood.

    Chris Kesting lives in Camas, Washington, but was hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in Oregon with his friend, Tim Pate, on March 8 when they allegedly stumbled upon not a pair of boots, but one stray boot, the Oregonian reported.

    Chris Kesting holds the boot he says actress Reese Witherspoon threw over an Oregon mountain in the movie "Wild." (Image source: Imgur)

    Chris Kesting holds the boot he says actress Reese Witherspoon threw over an Oregon mountain in the movie “Wild.” (Image source: Imgur)

    “The thing that stood out was the red laces,” Kesting told the Oregonian. “The brown of the leather blended into the soil and I didn’t see that at all. I saw the red laces and thought it was weird that there were flowers out already. That’s when it came into focus.”

    Kesting said he and Pate made the trek because it is the site where the 2014 movie “Wild” was filmed. At one point, Kesting thought, ”Hey, I know exactly where that is. One of these days it might be fun to go up there and see if that boot is actually there,” he told the Oregonian.

    In the movie’s beginning, actress Reese Witherspoon, who played Cheryl, sits down on the edge of a cliff and takes off her hiking boots, suffering from pain because they were too small.

    Tending to her injured toes, she rips off one of her loose toenails and throws it over the side of the mountain, accidentally knocking off one of her boots in process. Visibly frustrated, Witherspoon then throws her other boot off the cliff.

    Actress Reese Witherspoon plays Cheryl in the movie "Wild." (Image source: KPTV)

    Actress Reese Witherspoon plays Cheryl in the movie “Wild.” (Image source: KPTV)

    Kesting said the brown boot with red laces he found earlier this month is the same one Witherspoon tossed while filming “Wild.”

    How does he know it’s the same one?

    “Well, first of all you wouldn’t find a single boot in a place where nobody would leave a boot,” Kesting told the Oregonian. “It has red laces and it’s a 6 1/2 woman’s size Danner boot, made in Portland.”

    Kesting said it appears to be the color and design when compared with the boot on the movie poster. He said the boot was also manufactured in 2013, just one year before the movie was released.

    “It’s relatively new, but you could tell it had been sitting out in the sun for quite a bit of time,” Kesting added. “It was bleached out and had been sitting in that spot for awhile.”

    Kesting now keeps his one-of-a-kind Hollywood discovery on a bookshelf at his home in Washington. He pointed out that Hollywood producers aren’t supposed to leave behind props but in this case, it may have just been too difficult for the packing crew to locate.

    “It was pretty hard to find so maybe even if they did [go to look for it] they couldn’t find it,” Kesting told the Oregonian.

    KPTV – FOX 12

    Watch the “Wild” movie trailer below:

    (H/T: Oregonian)

    Follow Jon Street (@JonStreet) on Twitter

  • Second Arrest Made in Savage Beating of Man Near Baltimore; Stomach-Turning Video and Images Emerge
    Posted May 12, 2015 at 2:07 pm by Jason Howerton

    Comments (324)

    Police in Baltimore County recently made a second arrest in the savagely violent beating of a 61-year-old man, who is still recovering from the brutal injuries he sustained at the hands of a group of roughly 50 teenagers.

    So far, 17-year-old Antoine Lawson has been charged with attempted murder and a 15-year-old faces an assault charge in the beating, according to police. More arrests are expected to be made.

    (WJZ-TV)

    Antoine Lawson (WJZ-TV)

    Richard Fletcher, 61, is finally out of the hospital after suffering “broken eye sockets, a broken nose, broken ribs and a brain bleed,” CBS Baltimore reported. Here’s what he looked like before and after the beating:

    (Screengrab via CBS Baltimore)

    (Screengrab via WBAL-TV)

    Screengrab via WJZ-Tv

    Screengrab via WJZ-Tv

    Fletcher was reportedly surrounded and attacked by dozens of teens after he tried to get two girls to stop fighting on top of his vehicle. Cpl. John Wachter, of the Baltimore County Police Department, said he wasn’t trying to get involved in their disagreement, he just wanted them to get away from his car.

    Stomach-turning cellphone video has since emerged showing the teens beating and kicking Fletcher until he seems to be unconscious on the ground. WJZ-TV later aired the disturbing video (Warning: Strong violence)

    The neighborhood now fears for their own safety and would like to see police make more arrests in connection to the attack.

    Meanwhile, more than $37,000 has been raised on a GoFunMe page to help Fletcher pay his medical bills. The fundraising page claims his medical bills will likely end up costing between $200,000 and $400,000.

    Fletcher will reportedly still require several more surgeries and still has a “long road to recovery” ahead of him.

    More from WJZ-TV:

  • ‘Duck Dynasty’ Star Sadie Robertson’s Powerful Message to Young People About Self-Respect
    Posted May 12, 2015 at 1:59 pm by Billy Hallowell

    Comments (28)

    “Duck Dynasty” star Sadie Robertson is an outspoken Christian who works diligently to be a positive role model for her peers, telling The Church Boys podcast this week that she takes that responsibility “very, very seriously.”

    “There aren’t that many positive role models in the world today — for Christians at least,” she said. ”It’s easy to get lost in a crazy world whenever everyone else is doing crazy things … I try to really watch what I do, watch what I say, watch how I act.”

    Robertson, 17, who finished runner-up last year on season 19 of “Dancing With the Stars” — a show that required her to dance in front of millions of Americans each week — said that she almost didn’t join the TV competition.

    “At first I said, ‘No… I’m not doing that. It’s so scary. I’m not going to dance in front of millions of people. I don’t know how to dance,’” Robertson said.

    But after her little sister questioned whether she was letting fear take a hold of her, Robertson relented.

    “I realized that it was my fear saying, ‘No,’” she said, noting that she felt appearing would allow her to be a “testament to a lot of people.” And in the end, that’s exactly what she was able to do, she said.

    Listen to Robertson discuss faith, fame and more below:

    As for her everyday life, Robertson said that she makes an effort to ensure that fame doesn’t overtake her life, spending time doing the things she did before “Duck Dynasty” showered attention and public scrutiny upon her family.

    She also spoke about her fellow teenagers, saying that it’s important for young people to learn to respect themselves.

    “I think that … a lot of girls — they’ll do anything to get a guy … when actually the guys that are worth [it] are the guys that want you to respect yourself,” she said. ”The world has … put this pressure on teenage girls to show everything and to to go out there and do anything, and that’s not how it should be, and that’s not how it’s supposed to be — and that’s not what you need to get a guy worth dating.”

    Robertson also spoke about the role that faith plays in her life, explaining that she places her identity in Jesus Christ and the Bible.

    Sadie Robertson (Instagram/LegitSadieRob)

    Sadie Robertson (Instagram/LegitSadieRob)

    “I really think my faith is what guides me. I’m just trusting God and doing what he says to do,” she said, adding that she regularly spends a lot of time in prayer. “For me, one thing that keeps me grounded and stable in my faith.”

    Like many young girls, Robertson has had her own set of struggles, telling The Church Boys podcast about her past issues with self-confidence — issues that she said she overcame by relying on her Christian faith.

    “I really prayed about it a lot and I looked into it … [I thought] ‘I need to stop being so down on myself,’” she said. “I didn’t need to find confidence in myself. I needed to find the confidence in my trust in God, and that’s what kind of turned it around for me.”

  • Quick-Thinking Fisherman Saw a Woman in ‘Dire Need’ and Used the Only Thing He Had That Could Save Her
    Posted May 12, 2015 at 1:52 pm by Liz Klimas

    Comments (34)

    Paul Hurley was fishing off of Main Street Pier in Daytona Beach, Florida, Monday when he heard someone screaming for help.

    Below in the wavy ocean water, he saw a woman struggling to stay afloat.

    “It was a scary thing,” Hurley told WKMG-TV.

    “She was in dire need, so the first thing I thought, that popped in my head was to throw her something, anything. So I threw my net over,” Hurley, who was visiting from Ohio, continued. “She just put her feet inside the net there and held onto the rope.”

    The woman hung on the fishing net Hurley had thrown to her as she waited for help. (Image source: WKMG-TV)

    The woman hung on the fishing net Hurley had thrown to her as she waited for help. (Image source: WKMG-TV)

    From there, the news station reported, others on the pier waved down lifeguards who eventually reached the woman, helping her from the water on a body board.

    Beach patrol life guards rescued the woman from the ocean, which had a medium safety warning Monday. (Image source: WKMG-TV)

    Beach patrol life guards rescued the woman from the ocean, which had a medium safety warning Monday. (Image source: WKMG-TV)

    She was taken to the hospital, WKMG reported, and was expected to be OK.

    Watch the rescue filmed by someone on their a cellphone in the news station’s report:

    video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

    There were two other near drowning incidents where swimmers had to be rescued from the beach, which had a posted yellow flag, warning of the potential for rip currents, WKMG reported.

  • School Bus Driver’s Actions Caught on Camera Were So Bad Even the Union Didn’t Support Him
    Posted May 12, 2015 at 1:14 pm by Liz Klimas

    Comments (46)

    Getting cut off by someone deciding to merge at the last minute in heavy traffic is never pleasant, but a school bus caught on camera doing it has the driver under fire by even his union.

    “Oh really? Really?” a driver shooting video of the Houston Independent School District bus squeezing into the lane in front of him said in disbelief. “And with kids on the bus.”

    Image source: YouTube

    Image source: YouTube

    Taking advantage of the phone number posted right on the back of bus #9443 to report the driver, the couple in the car with its dashcam rolling to capture the incident filmed even more unsafe driving.

    “He’s pulling into the emergency lane to pass traffic,” a woman in the car said while on the phone with the safety hotline, the showing the bus on the right-hand shoulder, kicking up dust as it passed other cars.

    Image source: YouTube

    Image source: YouTube

    Watch the footage:

    Parents shown the video by KHOU-TV didn’t think it was appropriate driving for anyone, let alone a school bus driver.

    “I wouldn’t want my son to be in a situation like that, to be on the bus with a driver like that,” one parent told the news station. “You can’t take a chance like that and cut around traffic.”

    And Wretha Thomas, president of the union that represents the bus drivers, said the union does “not condone this type of driving from our drivers.”

    A spokeswoman for HISD told the Houston Chronicle this bus shuttled students from two elementary schools. After seeing the footage, the driver was removed.

    “HISD has zero tolerance for drivers who put student lives at risk,” the district said in a statement, according to the newspaper. “Upon learning of the allegations, the transportation department immediately launched an investigation. The bus driver in question has since been removed from his position, and appropriate disciplinary action is being taken. The safety of our students and staff is always our top priority.”

    This isn’t the only school bus driver-related incident this week. In New York, a school bus driver was allegedly driving drunk with students on board and hit a pole.

  • Obama’s Latest Swipe at Fox News
    Posted May 12, 2015 at 1:09 pm by Fred Lucas

    Comments (196)

    President Barack Obama again slammed Fox News on Tuesday, and how the news media covers issues of poverty.

    “The effort to suggest the poor are sponges or leaches, don’t want to work, are lazy, or undeserving, got traction,” Obama said, speaking at the Catholic-Evangelical Leadership Summit on Overcoming Poverty in Washington. “It’s still being propagated. I have to say, if you watch Fox News on a regular basis, it is a constant venue. They will find folks who make me mad. I don’t know where they find them. Right, they’re all like, ‘I don’t want to work, I just want a free Obamaphone.’”

    President Barack Obama addresses the Catholic-Evangelical Leadership Summit on Overcoming Poverty at Georgetown University in Washington, May 12, 2015. (NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

    President Barack Obama addresses the Catholic-Evangelical Leadership Summit on Overcoming Poverty at Georgetown University in Washington, May 12, 2015. (NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

    Obama was part of a summit panel at Georgetown University talking about poverty with Harvard University professor Robert Putnam, American Enterprise Institute President Arthur Brooks, and liberal Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne.

    “That becomes an entire narrative that gets worked up,” Obama said. “You rarely hear an interview with a waitress, which is much more typical, who is raising a couple of kids who is doing everything right and still can’t pay the bills.”

    Obama went on to talk about Republican leaders in the House and Senate, as well as the news media as a whole.

    “So, if we are going to change the way John Boehner and Mitch McConnell think, we are going to have to change how our body politic thinks, which means we are going to have to change how the media reports on these issues and how people’s impressions of what it’s like to struggle in this economy looks like, and how budgets connect to that,” Obama said. “It’s a hard topic and requires a much broader conversation than typically we have on the nightly news.”

  • University of Virginia Dean Sues Rolling Stone Over Debunked Campus Rape Story
    Posted May 12, 2015 at 1:06 pm by Associated Press

    Comments (21)

    RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A University of Virginia associate dean is seeking more than $7.5 million from Rolling Stone magazine in a defamation lawsuit stemming from a debunked account of an alleged gang rape on campus.

    This Nov. 24, 2014 file photo shows the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va. The fraternity at the center of a controversial Rolling Stone article describing a culture of sexual violence at the University of Virginia has been reinstated after city police could not confirm an allegation that rape occurred at that fraternity's house. (Image source: AP/Steve Helber, File)

    A Nov. 24, 2014 file photo shows the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va. The fraternity at the center of a controversial Rolling Stone article describing a culture of sexual violence at UVA has been reinstated after city police could not confirm an allegation that rape occurred at that fraternity’s house. (Image source: AP/Steve Helber)

    The suit was filed Tuesday by Nicole Eramo, who is the top administrator dealing with sexual assaults at the Charlottesville school.

    In a news release, Eramo said she was filing the lawsuit to “set the record straight” and to hold the magazine and writer Sabrina Rubin Erdely accountable.

    A report published by the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism said the magazine failed at virtually every step in the reporting and editing of the story.

    The suit was filed in Charlottesville Circuit Court. It also names Wenner Media for false and defamatory statements.

    Rolling Stone did not immediately respond to a phone call or email seeking comment.

  • Video: Fed-Up Reporter Confronts and Shames Men After They ‘Humiliate’ Her on Live TV
    Posted May 12, 2015 at 12:54 pm by Jason Howerton

    Comments (139)

    Speaking to fans outside a Toronto FC match on Sunday, CityNews reporter Shauna Hunt was interrupted on live TV by an unfortunately familiar and vulgar stunt.

    “F*** her right in the p****y,” a man said after sneaking into the shot.

    But rather than awkwardly powering through the segment, Hunt decided to confront — and thoroughly shame — the men behind the prank.

    (YouTube)

    (YouTube)

    “Were you guys waiting around to see if you could ‘f her in the p’ me on live television?” the reporter asked.

    “Not you, but yes,” one man replied.

    “Seriously, it’s a disgusting thing to say, it’s degrading to women — you would humiliate me on live television?” the reporter pressed.

    Realizing the fed-up reporter had him on the ropes, the seemingly embarrassed man then asked, “Are you actually filming this?”

    “Well, because, you know what, I’m sick of this,” Hunt added. “I get this every single day, 10 times a day by rude guys like you.”

    At least one of the men was completely unrepentant, telling Hunt that the overdone stunt is “f***ing hilarious.” Watch the full exchange via CityNews below:

    As for future pranksters in the area, Kingston Police suggested the act could amount to “causing disturbance” under the law.

    (H/T: BuzzFeed)

  • Scientists Confirm Something You Probably Already Suspected About Weight Loss
    Posted May 12, 2015 at 12:15 pm by Liz Klimas

    Comments (43)

    Some people seem to have a harder time losing weight than others, despite putting in the exact same effort or more.

    Photo credit: Shutterstock

    Photo credit: Shutterstock

    As if that’s something you didn’t already know, for the first time researchers have scientifically shown that individual biology plays a factor in ease of weight loss. What the researchers still don’t know is if this biological factor is something innate or something that develops over time, a news release from the National Institutes of Health about the research stated.

    Researchers at the Phoenix Epidemiology and Clinical Research Branch, which is part of the NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, studied 12 obese men and women in a metabolic unit that uses a device that calculates energy used based on air samples. After a day of fasting, the researchers calculated energy expenditure from the study participants as a baseline. After that, the study participants were observed while on a diet that reduced their caloric intake by 50 percent for six weeks. 

    What they found was that the people who lost fewer pounds during this dieting period were those who had more of a metabolic decrease during the day of fasting.

    “When people who are obese decrease the amount of food they eat, metabolic responses vary greatly, with a ‘thrifty’ metabolism possibly contributing to less weight lost,” Dr.  Susanne Votruba, a clinical investigator at PECRB, said in a statement. “While behavioral factors such as adherence to diet affect weight loss to an extent, our study suggests we should consider a larger picture that includes individual physiology – and that weight loss is one situation where being thrifty doesn’t pay.”

    However, the study author’s cautioned people away from taking these findings and using them as an excuse about why they can or can’t lose weight.

    “The results corroborate the idea that some people who are obese may have to work harder to lose weight due to metabolic differences,” Dr. Martin Reinhardt, the study’s lead author and  PECRB postdoctoral fellow, said. “But biology is not destiny. Balanced diet and regular physical activity over a long period can be very effective for weight loss.”

    These findings were published this week in the journal Diabetes.

    (H/T: Science Daily)

    Front page image via Shutterstock. This story has been updated to correct a typo. 

  • Mysterious ‘Devil’s Bible’ Inspires Eerie Myth About Satan
    Posted May 12, 2015 at 12:05 pm by Billy Hallowell

    Comments (45)

    A mysterious text that has come to be known as the “Devil’s Bible” due to its inclusion of a large, nearly full-page image of Satan continues to leave experts with burning questions about its origins.

    Officially known as the Codex Gigas, the text has been a subject of discussion in academic circles for quite some time, and has also inspired myths and fables about the author’s motivation for creating the fascinating work.

    The Devil’s Bible, which is currently housed in Stockholm’s National Library of Sweden, isn’t just any old book, either. It’s massive in size, coming in at 36 inches in height and nine inches in thickness, weighing a total of 165 pounds.

    It’s also the largest surviving European manuscript, but as the Daily Mail reported, the book’s large size and age aren’t the only things that differentiate it from other texts.

    Codex Gigas digital images by Per B. Adolphson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

    Codex Gigas digital images by Per B. Adolphson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

    Some believe that the book’s pages could be cursed — an idea that is likely perpetuated by the aforementioned image of the devil, which is boldly and prevalently displayed.

    Legend has it that a monk was sentenced to be walled up alive after breaking his vows, but that he tried to avoid his sentence by promising to write a book that contained all of the material that one needs to know about human intellect in the course of a solitary night.

    Clearly unable to humanly do so, he is said to have appealed to Satan for help, offering his soul in exchange for some devilish guidance in creating the massive text, the Daily Mail reported.

    The National Library of Sweden notes that the legend’s origins are unknown, though, regardless of any validity to the conjured up story, ”it shows how the enormous size of the manuscript so impressed those who saw it that [it] was attributed a supernatural origin.”

    Fable aside, further intrigue is driven by the fact that no one really knows how or why the Devil’s Bible was created in the first place.

    The mysterious book, which is believed to have been written around 1292 at a monastery in what is modern-day Czech Republic, includes five long texts and a complete version of the Bible.

    After a copy of the Old Testament comes two reproduced works by Flavius Josephus — “The Jewish War” and “The Antiquities.” Next, comes an encyclopedia, a collection of medical texts and the New Testament.

    Codex Gigas digital images by Per B. Adolphson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

    Codex Gigas digital images by Per B. Adolphson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

    “The most important book of Christianity is the Bible,” the National Library of Sweden writes. ”The other texts in the Codex Gigas were carefully chosen to accompany it because together they provided information about Jewish history (Josephus), universal knowledge (Isidore), medicine, and local history (Cosmas).”

    The description of the book also notes that the picture of the devil comes before a section on exorcising evil spirits, which could explain why Satan’s picture is included in the first place as a preface to this subject matter.

    Codex Gigas, which would have taken quite some time to create, is believed by some experts to have had only one author, though that author’s identity remains a mystery.

    Read more about the Devil’s Bible here.

    (H/T: Daily Mail)

  • ‘Increased Uniform Presence’ in NYC’s Central Park After Weekend of Violent Muggings
    Posted May 12, 2015 at 11:56 am by Jon Street

    Comments (60)

    Visitors to New York City’s famed Central Park can expect to see an “increased uniform presence” following a series of violent incidents that all occurred within 24 hours.

    At least three muggings occurred last weekend in the park that stretches more than 2 miles up and down Manhattan. Police have released surveillance footage of one of the incidents, which appears to show about a dozen individuals mugging one couple around 9:30 p.m. Saturday, WCBS-TV reported.

    Image source: Central Park surveillance via WABC

    Image source: Central Park surveillance via WABC

    The couple were reportedly robbed of their cellphones and threatened with a knife and possibly a Taser. The female victim was also punched in the face. It happened on Manhattan’s West Side near 62nd Street and West Drive.

    The second incident occurred the next morning near the iconic Belvedere Castle. A 45-year-old man said another man carrying a gun choked him and stole his wallet and backpack. And the third incident, which took place Sunday night, involved a woman who had her purse stolen on the East Side.

    The series of attacks have put residents on high alert – and have surprised many residents who consider Central Park to be a safe place to go to escape the hustle and bustle of the streets.

    “Central Park, a place like this? You don’t think it can happen, you know? It’s scary,” resident Rachel Mitskaris told WCBS.

    But others didn’t seem all that surprised when they learned of what happened.

    “The park at night is not a safe place. It’s too big to patrol. It’s very easy to catch yourself alone,” Jordan Beeber said. 

    Despite the recent incidents, New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton insisted that visitors to the country’s most famous park are no less safe.

    “Those events of those incidents, no relationship to each other. Every once in a while you have that aberration. That park remains one of the safest places in America,” Bratton said.

    Still, James O’Neill, the chief of patrol for the park, said there will be a stepped-up police presence.

    “In the coming days, you’ll see an increased uniformed presence. You’ll also see an increase in scooters, and cars with their lights on,” O’Neill told WCBS.

    Police have not made any arrests in connection with any of the muggings, WABC-TV reported.

    (H/T: WCBS-TV)

    Follow Jon Street (@JonStreet) on Twitter

  • Historical Object Washes up on N.J. Beach — and It Isn’t the First Time
    Posted May 12, 2015 at 11:51 am by Jon Street

    Comments (29)

    ALLENHURST, N.J. (AP) — A beach replenishment project has pumped battery-sized components of World War I-era ammunition onto some New Jersey beaches, and officials are warning people who find them to alert authorities.

    More than 90 boosters for howitzer projectiles, the size of a C battery, have been found in Allenhurst and Loch Arbour on the central New Jersey shore, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers told the Asbury Park Press.

    Components of World War I-era ammunition have been found on the beaches in Allenhurst and Loch Arbour where a $38 million sand replenishment project was underway.

    Posted by The Asbury Park Press on Monday, May 11, 2015

    The discovery marks the first time munition parts have ended up on the beach since the corps added a screen process to its sand dredging projects in 2007. That was when more than 1,000 pieces of unexploded ordnance were found in Surf City after a beach replenishment project.

    Corps spokesman Chris Gardner said the boosters are part of the projectiles fired by howitzers, but are not bombs. He warned people not to take them home with them.

    “We don’t want to overplay the risk, but we don’t want to underplay it either,” Gardner said. “They are not a bomb, but they are not a toy. These are not something to be taken home as an interesting find.”

    Sand is screened as it is pulled from the ocean, then undergoes finer screening as it is piped onto the beach, Gardner said. But boosters, which are made of brass and are lighter than other munition parts, passed through a hole designed to release shells.

    The screening baskets have since been modified, he said. But crews now need to sift through about 350,000 cubic yards of sand placed on the beaches since the replenishment project started.

    The Corps hopes to have them removed by Memorial Day weekend.

  • Seattle Man Makes Surprising Discovery in His Gutter After Riots
    Posted May 12, 2015 at 11:14 am by Liz Klimas

    Comments (73)

    Leftover from riots earlier this month, forgotten in a gutter but found by a Seattle man was a potentially dangerous piece of police equipment.

    Called a “blast ball,” the grenade-like device was found by Hugh Ramsey, who said he saw police “just lobbing them” into crowds of protesters at May Day riots, KOMO-TV reported.

    “An officer lost track of his personal explosive device,” Ramsey told the news station, explaining his concern that it could have gotten into the wrong hands and that he questions police use of them as well.

    A "blast ball" with the pin still in it was found by a Seattle man after protests earlier this month. (Image source: KOMO-TV)

    A “blast ball” with the pin still in it was found by a Seattle man after protests earlier this month. (Image source: KOMO-TV)

    He later returned the device to the police department.

    Demonstrations were held in Seattle and around the country at the beginning of this month to decry racism and income inequality. Most were largely peaceful, but some protesters clashed with cops, who attempted to keep them from damaging property and disrupting traffic.

    In Seattle, police said black-clad marchers threw wrenches, sticks and rocks at officers in the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, injuring three officers. Police responded with pepper spray and pepper balls and arrested 15 people. Several dozen vehicles were damaged, police said.

    “This is no longer demonstration management, this has turned into a riot,” Seattle police Capt. Chris Fowler said at the time.

    The devices are used as a "less lethal" form of crowd control.  (Image source: KOMO-TV)

    The devices are used as a “less lethal” form of crowd control. (Image source: KOMO-TV)

    Seattle’s the Stranger detailed how the device came up at a recent city council meeting as controversial, with people showing bruises and cuts they say were the result of blast balls. It noted that the device picked up by Ramsey was a tear-ball made by Combined Systems, Inc. The company describes them as “explosive ‘rubber-ball’ style grenades that upon initiation eject a powder payload of CS, CN, OC or talc into a radius surrounding the device. Tear-Balls are primarily used for crowd control in indoor and outdoor situations.”

    While some people at the city council meeting said the blast injured them to the point where they couldn’t walk, an anonymous man told KOMO he could feel the impact, “but it didn’t hurt.”

    “I didn’t notice anything but pressure,” he said, also pointing out two small cuts apparently from the blast.

    Watch KOMO’s report:

    The Seattle Police Department in a six-minute training video about “less-lethal crowd control” said that it started using these tactics after riots in 1999.

    “From a force options point of view, it’s actually pretty safe,” Seattle police officer Chris Meyers said in the video, explaining that in tests they only saw some minor singe-like potential from the device.

    “This is thunder and lightening in the palm of my hand,” he said later, explaining how just the sound and flash from the blast ball can be enough to help police control crowds.

    Watch the video posted by BluTube, a video sharing site run by Police One:

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

    Front page image via Shutterstock.

  • Texas Police Change Major Detail in Story of How Muhammad Cartoon Contest Gunmen Were Killed
    Posted May 12, 2015 at 10:12 am by Billy Hallowell

    Comments (248)

    The key details surrounding the deaths of the two gunmen who were killed during their assault against a Muhammad cartoon contest in Garland, Texas, earlier this month are changing, with police now saying that it was a SWAT team — and not a sole officer — who killed the suspects.

    GARLAND, TX - MAY 4: Investigators work a crime scene outside of the Curtis Culwell Center after a shooting occurred the day before May 04, 2015 in Garland, Texas. During the 'Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest,' an anti-Islam event, on May 03, Elton Simpson of Phoenix, Arizonia and another man opend fire, wounding a security guard . Police officers shot and killed Simpson at teh scene. (Photo by Ben Torres/Getty Images)

    Investigators work the crime scene outside of the Curtis Culwell Center following the May 3, 2015 shooting at a Muhammad cartoon contest event in Garland, Texas. (Ben Torres/Getty Images)

    Authorities initially said it was an unnamed cop who was able to neutralize Elton Simpson, 30, and Nadir Soofi, 34, with the use of his .45-caliber pistol. On Monday however, Garland Police Chief Mitch Bates revealed new details that provided a different account.

    Bates said the unnamed officer shot and wounded Simpson and Soofi during the May 3 attack, but that his shots did not kill them. It was members of a SWAT team who emerged a few seconds after the altercation began who ultimately terminated the suspects’ lives, the Washington Post reported.

    “The Garland police officer returned fire with his duty pistol and wounded both suspects,” Bates said during a Monday press conference. “Within seconds, four members of the SWAT Tactical Response Team responded and also engaged both of the suspects, who continued their efforts to attack those at the location by retrieving additional weapons and ammunition.”

    He said that the SWAT team used assault rifles and duty pistols to kill both Sipson and Soofi.

    “Dozens of rounds were fired by the suspects and the officers,” Bates said.

    Authorities later discovered that the suspects had three assault rifles, three pistols and hundreds of rounds of ammunition both on the assailants and inside of their vehicle.

    Bates also said reports that the Garland Police Department had information before the shooting that Simpson or Soofi might attack the event were “not accurate.”

    “No one … not the Garland Police Department, the FBI, the Texas DPS, nor any other agency had any information prior to the event that either suspect may target this event,” he said. “No information was ‘missed’ or ‘ignored.’”

    The Muhammad cartoon contest was organized by Pamela Geller’s American Freedom Defense Initiative.

    (H/T: Washington Post)

  • What This Man Found When He Thought He Was Just Coughing up a ‘Large Phlegm Ball’ Is Disgusting
    Posted May 12, 2015 at 9:54 am by Liz Klimas

    Comments (69)

    A British man woke up feeling like he had to cough up a ”large phlegm ball” — only it wasn’t mucus he eventually hacked up.

    Speaking with GetWestLondon about the cringe-worthy incident, 52-year-old Phil Lyndon said upon closer examination, he saw what he coughed up was a 5-mm-long bug.

    “I’ve had a bad cough for a little while and went to the doctors last Thursday. He gave me antibiotics and on Friday morning I coughed up what I thought was a big lump of phlegm into the toilet,” Lyndon told the news website. “I then looked a little closer as I could see something brown in it and it was wriggling.”

    Feel free to release a collective “eww” at this point.

    “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and fished it out,” he continued to GetWestLondon. “It had stopped moving by this point and I took a picture of it on my iPad. When I zoomed into the image I could clearly see that it was a bug.”

    Lyndon said he went back to the doctor to explain the situation and was referred to University College London’s Hospital for Tropical Diseases where he had an X-ray. Fortunately, there no other bugs or issues.

    As for the specimen, it was taken for identification by an entomologist. Lyndon told GetWestLondon he sent a picture of the animal to British Bugs, whose experts said it could be a mayfly nymph.

    (H/T: Daily Record)

    Front page image via Shutterstock.

  • Obama’s Presidential Library Will Be in Chicago
    Posted May 12, 2015 at 9:51 am by Fred Lucas

    Comments (88)

    It’s official: Barack Obama’s future presidential library will be built in Chicago.

    The Obama Foundation announced Tuesday that the president’s library and a museum will be on the South Side of Chicago, in conjunction with the University of Chicago, where Obama once taught law and where first lady Michelle Obama worked as a hospital administrator.

    President Barack Obama and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel stand at the campaign headquarters for 4th Ward Alderman Will Burns in Chicago, Illinois, February 19, 2015. ( JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

    President Barack Obama and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel stand at the campaign headquarters for 4th Ward Alderman Will Burns in Chicago, Feb. 19, 2015. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

    The University of Chicago was up against bids from the University of Illinois at Chicago, Columbia University and the University of Hawaii.

    “With a library and a foundation on the South Side of Chicago, not only will we be able to encourage and affect change locally, but what we can also do is to attract the world to Chicago.” Obama said in a video announcement. “All the strands of my life came together and I really became a man when I moved to Chicago. That’s where I was able to apply that early idealism to try to work in communities in public service. That’s where I met my wife. That’s where my children were born.”

    It was widely reported last month that Chicago had been chosen as the location for the facility, though the White House was tight-lipped about where it would be and about how transparent the donors would be. Barack Obama Foundation spokeswoman Olivia Alair Dalton told TheBlaze that all donations over $200 are disclosed publicly.

  • Verizon Says It Will Acquire AOL for $4.4 Billion
    Posted May 12, 2015 at 9:14 am by Associated Press

    Comments (30)

    NEW YORK (AP) — Verizon is buying AOL for about $4.4 billion, advancing the telecom’s push in both mobile and advertising fields.

    Pedestrians pass a Verizon Wireless store on Canal Street, Thursday, June 6, 2013, in New York. The Obama administration on Thursday, June 6, 2013, defended the government's need to collect telephone records of American citizens, calling such information "a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats." Britain's Guardian newspaper reported that the NSA has been collecting the telephone records of millions of Verizon customers under a top secret court order. (Credit: AP)

    Pedestrians pass a Verizon Wireless store on Canal Street, Thursday, June 6, 2013, in New York. The Obama administration on Thursday, June 6, 2013, defended the government’s need to collect telephone records of American citizens, calling such information “a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats.” Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported that the NSA has been collecting the telephone records of millions of Verizon customers under a top secret court order. (Credit: AP) 

    The acquisition gives Verizon an entryway into increasingly competitive online video. The New York company is the country’s largest wireless carrier as well as an Internet and TV provider, and it is through wireless technology that the fight is escalating to win customers using video content.

    Verizon said last month that it was preparing to launch a video service over the summer targeting mobile devices and it is establishing partners to deliver that content. It also recently began offering various levels of cable service rather than one big cable package, which has been the norm.

    That has put Verizon at odds with major content companies like ESPN as it sees more customers cut the cord in favor of video that is streamed online.

    Verizon will gain access to AOL’s advanced advertising technology, including its “One by AOL” integrated platform. AOL reported a 7 percent boost in revenue during its first quarter, mainly on strong global advertising sales.

    It also gains control over significant AOL content, including cultural and political website The Huffington Post, and also TechCrunch. AOL is the nation’s fourth-largest online property with about 200 million monthly consumers of its premium brands, according to its website.

    Verizon Communications Inc. will pay $50 in cash for each share of AOL Inc., also based in New York, a 15 percent premium to its closing price on Monday.

    “Verizon’s vision is to provide customers with a premium digital experience based on a global multiscreen network platform,” said chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam in a printed statement.

    The deal is expected to close this summer and Tim Armstrong, AOL chairman and CEO, will continue to lead that company.

    Verizon has 108.6 million wireless customers, 5.7 million FiOS video subscribers and 6.7 million Internet subscribers. It operates in 150 countries.

    During its most recent quarter, it saw wireless subscribers grow by 4.8 percent, while FiOS Internet customers grew 36 percent. FiOS cable customers grew 58 percent.

    AOL has evolved since its early days as an Internet company with the familiar phrase “You’ve got mail.” It started out as Quantum Computer Services in 1985 and was renamed America Online in 1991. By 1996, it reached 5 million members.

    As AOL grew larger, it began to make acquisitions. It purchased CompuServe and ICQ in 1998 and Moviefone and Netscape the next year. In 2000, it acquired MapQuest. A year after the MapQuest purchase, AOL merged with Time Warner to form AOL Time Warner. The deal with Time Warner would come to be considered one of the most disastrous business combinations in history after failing to gel.

    The company changed its name from America Online to AOL during that time. In 2009 AOL was spun off from Time Warner, becoming an independent, publicly traded company.

  • Pizza Shop Manager Was Told That an Angry Customer Was on the Phone, but He Had No Idea That He Was About to Have the Surprise of His Life
    Posted May 12, 2015 at 8:57 am by Billy Hallowell

    Comments (45)

    Famed Christian singer Matthew West has made it his mission to turn fans’ compelling stories into inspirational music that positively impacts the masses. In fact, every one of the songs on his past three albums has been inspired by real-life stories of triumph and struggle.

    Consider Josh, a former inmate who worked diligently to turn his life around after serving time in prison. West told TheBlaze during a sit-down interview last week about Josh’s story and how the man came to be the subject of his recently released song, “Day One.”

    “Years ago, [Josh] was a convict in prison, because of mistakes he made with drugs he had gotten involved in,” West said. “And he found jailhouse religion, but as he was getting out of prison he said, ‘I don’t want to be the same person I was. I want to prove to everyone that I’m a changed man.”

    Josh struggled, though, as no one was willing to give him a chance — that is, until he met a couple who owned a pizza shop.

    “At his lowest point, this nice Christian couple who owned a pizza restaurant took a chance on an ex-convict,” West said. “And he wrote to me to say, ‘You know what? I committed to my change and God helped me — he got me that part time job, I worked my way up and today I’m the general manager … I feel like I’m proof that God can change your life.’”

    Listen to West share Josh’s story — and his own journey making Christian music — below:

    It’s that message that resonated with West and led him to turn Josh’s story into a song. But he didn’t tell the man that he was the subject of “Day One,” which released earlier this year, until two weeks ago.

    West called that same pizza restaurant and asked to speak with the manager, claiming that he had a complaint about his pie. But when Josh came to the phone, he was in for a major surprise, as West introduced himself.

    “He’s like, ‘Are you punking me right now?’” West recalled Josh saying. Then, West asked, “Hey, have you heard my new song on the radio?”

    Josh responded that he had heard it and then Matt delivered the big reveal.

    “I said, ‘It’s your song.’ And he started crying,” West told TheBlaze.

    West said that the next thing Josh told him still gives him the chills when he thinks about it: Josh said that every time he heard the song on the radio before West revealed that it was about him, he would tell his wife, “I feel like he’s talking to me.”

    Josh is only one example of a fan who has shared his story with West before seeing it become the subject of a Christian song. The singer’s unique way of crafting lyrics started six years ago after doctors told him that his budding music career would be potentially coming to an end.

    “The doctor said there’s a chance I had sung my last song,” West said.

    In the wake of a very serious vocal cord surgery that required West to remain completely silent for two months, he found himself doing some major soul searching, as he wrote in his journal and pondered what would come next.

    Having experienced musical success already, the startling prospect of not singing again was most certainly on the table. But as West waited to see if his voice would come back, he found himself wondering how he might use his talents in a different way than he had in the past.

    As he continued seeking God, he said that a key question came to mind: “How could I use my voice to give other people a voice?”

    While many singers write and perform songs that are predicated upon their own experiences, West decided that he would begin to use his fans’ personal stories as the inspiration for his music if and when he fully recovered.

    Eventually, West’s voice was restored, his two months of silence ended, and he resumed his singing career — but with an entirely new outlook. He began asking the public to share their stories of hurt, pain and recovery — the very raw and personal details of their lives.

    And they complied.

    MatthewWest.com

    MatthewWest.com

    Over the past six years, West has read through 40,000 stories, using selections from the massive pool of heart-wrenching personal tales to create the contents of his last three albums, including his latest release, “Live Forever.”

    “It’s important for me personally to read the stories because people are trusting me with some of the more raw … stories,” West told TheBlaze.

    West directly responds to some of his fans’ stories and, in select cases, he actually uses them as the basis of his music. From stories about overcoming addiction — to prison conversions — to bullying, he said that there are a wide variety of issues that his fans have faced.

    “Every now and then a story will just pop out at me,” West said. “I feel like the story just picks me.”

    “Every single song I’ve written in past six years is based on someone’s story,” he said. “I was blown away and really humbled by how honest people were willing to be.”

    West admitted that he had his concerns when he first decided to change the way he makes music, inviting the public to not only share their personal stories, but to also become his inspiration for the music. But in the end, it appears that the interactive method has more than paid off.

Restoring Love