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  • ‘My Position Is the Same as It Has Always Been’: Rand Paul Clarifies Stance on Syria and the Islamic State
    Posted September 17, 2014 at 3:21 pm by Erica Ritz

    Comments (34)

    Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said Wednesday that his foreign policy has been perfectly consistent, despite criticism for seemingly contradictory” views when it comes to the Islamic State — opposing intervening in foreign conflicts while supporting efforts to defeat the extremist group.

    Paul said on Glenn Beck’s radio program that he’s for protecting American interests at home and abroad, but that doesn’t mean America should intervene in the Syrian civil war or arm the Syrian rebels as part of its strategy to combat the Islamic State.

    “My position is the same as it has always been,” Paul said. “I’ve been pretty harsh on Hillary Clinton, saying she didn’t provide adequate security [in Benghazi]. “There was security requested for six months leading up to the tragedy in Benghazi and the killing of our ambassador. … It would be a mistake for me to say, ‘Oh, well, we don’t need to do anything about it [in Iraq]. It’s just a consulate. I think that would go against everything I’ve been saying for the last year.”

    Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) questions witnesses about military equipment given to local law enforcement departments by the federal government during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing about at the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill September 9, 2014 in Washington, DC. In the wake of the Ferguson, MO, police response to peaceful protests, senators on the committee were critical of the federal grant programs that allow local and state law enforcement agencies to buy armored vehicles, assult rifles, body armor and other military equipment. Credit Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

    Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

    Paul said that defending American interests with airstrikes and intelligence support does not mean he supports involving the nation in the Syrian civil war.

    “I’ve never been in favor of arming any of the Islamic rebels in Syria,” he said. “Most of the arms that we’ve sent in there — even when we’ve allegedly sent them to moderate rebels — have wound up in the hands of ISIS. ISIS either takes them, or they’re inadvertently given to ISIS. And I think that everything we’ve done to try to fight Assad weakens his ability to wipe out ISIS, and makes ISIS stronger.”

    Paul said that if President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “had had their way, and some of the hawks in our party had had their way, and we’d have bombed Assad last year — who would be in Damascus ruling all of Syria now? In all likelihood, ISIS.”

    “We need to get away from these people who are indiscriminate and unthinking about foreign policy, who believe that there’s never been a war that they didn’t like, and they want to have troops on the ground in 15 countries,” Paul said. “That is a failed philosophy. We also need to understand that every time we have toppled a secular dictator — whether it be in Iraq or Libya or Egypt or Syria — every time a secular dictator has been toppled, they have been replaced by chaos and radical Islam.”

    Paul reiterated that the Islamic State is a threat to America and must be defeated, but arming Syrian rebels is not the way to do it.

    “I favor airstrikes in coordination, but I think the battle on the ground needs to be fought by those who live there,” he said. “I think the Iraqis need to step up, quit running, and they need to defend their country. I’m sick and tired of the Saudis sitting on their haunches, funding radical Islam and doing nothing. I’d like to see the Saudis at the front of the line in the first round of fighting, as well as the last round of fighting.”

    “Qataris, Kuwaitis, Turks, they all need to fight,” Paul continued. “I don’t want to hear why the Saudis aren’t going to fight. I want to hear exactly what the Saudis are going to do and I want to see them stepping up on the front lines. The same with the Iraqis — I’m sick and tired of them running. I’m sick and tired of giving billions of dollars to see them run away from a fight. So I want to see them on the ground fighting ISIS, hand to hand, and I’m willing to support that with air support, with intelligence, with some weaponry in Iraq. But I’m not willing to support the so-called moderate rebels.”

    The bottom line, Paul said: “As long as the consulate’s there, we have to defend the consulate and the embassy.”

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  • Inventor Rethinks How Car Cup Holders Should Work — This Is the Result
    Posted September 17, 2014 at 2:46 pm by Liz Klimas

    Comments (81)

    For as long as cup holders have been in cars, their design has largely gone unchanged. For the most part, cup holders are a low base with higher sides, typically in a center console, that keeps the vessel containing a drink in one place.

    But it’s the liquid inside that’s often the problem. As the vehicle stops, goes uphill or over a speed bump, the liquid will follow, which even with the most innovative of lids can result in a mess.

    This common issue is probably why the video of new cup holder invention started going viral on Reddit. The video shows cups without lids sitting in a holder between two seats as driver puts them to the test. The holder called the Maksimatic follows each move of the car, making sure the liquid remains in the cup despite its lidless state.

    Image source: YouTube

    Image source: YouTube

    Image source: YouTube

    Image source: YouTube

    Watch the video:

    The 27-year-old inventor of the Maksimatic from the Seattle area told TheBlaze that the viral traction over the holder, which he received patent-pending status for about a year-and-a-half ago, is “overwhelming.”

    “Now, all the sudden I matter while I haven’t mattered for the last few years,” Maksim Ghyvoronsky, an auto enthusiast and self-professed “wantrepreneur,” said.

    Ghyvoronsky’s ultimate goal for the Maksimatic, a nod to his own first name, is for an auto manufacturer or other company to purchase the design and start including it in cars themselves.

    The idea of Maksimatic came to Ghyvoronsky while driving — go figure.

    “I’ve been thinking of this since 2009. I was holding ice tea in cup in my hand without a lid. I would hold it and let it hinge and it would tilt on its own,” he said, which sparked the thought that there should be a cup holder that does that for him.

    Watch Ghyvoronsky demonstrate how the Maksimatic works on over speed bumps, turns and at varying speeds with his open cup of iced tea:

    “The issue with cup holders … is all cup holders make your beverage top heavy. This one makes it bottom heavy,” Ghyvoronsky said. “Every other cup holder is stationary with the vehicle. It’s idiotic, because you could spill on your lap.”

    In truth, there are similar inventions that seek to achieve the same end as Ghyvoronsky’s, but he said there are key differences. These other holders, Ghyvoronsky said, move side to side and front to back but his allows for 360-degree swivel. He also pointed out that his invention comes with height control and is situated in the typical location for drinks (the center console) not attached to air vents like other ideas.

    “It allows beverage containers being carried to be free to move as changing forces would ask, and on a 360 degree-pivoting spherical upper member which is also the joint that allows not only the beverage to be at an angle when needed (up to 25 degrees), but also the top of fluid/liquid to be at angle as well,” Maksimatic’s website explained.
    “This limits the chances of spillage over top of cup walls to almost no chance of it happening especially if the drink isn’t full because the fluid is more evenly distributed against the walls. This also means the driver or passenger no longer needs to keep applying and removing cap from beverages.”

    Image source: YouTube

    Image source: YouTube

    Here are just a few of the 30 reasons listed on the Maskimatic website why such a cup holder would be beneficial:

    • Because having your beverage move exactly as the vehicle moves (which is every standard cup holder’s dilemma) is exactly as silly as putting your opened can of soda in your pocket while you walk! We may not realize it, but the reason we carry our drinks in our hands while walking is to help us avoid spills because the movement of our mode of transport for beverages should differ from the mode of transport itself.
    • Because the larger than typical diameter of the cup holder at the very top (which is funnel-like) acts as a guide for drivers to be able to insert their beverage into holder without looking to the side as much (if even at all). This allows driver to keep their eyes on the road more and is yet another safety feature.
    • Because the half-sphere circling the top of the Maksimatic cup holder acts as a splash guard with good width and substantial height, effectively protecting your interior from spills.
    • Because you can’t insert your 64oz Slurpee into a standard, obsolete cup holder without worrying about it coming out to attack you and kill you. Maksimatic Holders will fit these with ease and have the deepest cylindric openings available.

    While Ghyvoronsky started an IndieGoGo campaign, he said it’s not so much to raise funds to bring the product to the market as it is to raise awareness and interest.

    This story has been updated to correct a misspelling of Maksimatic on first reference. 

  • The Biblical Stance That Has Canada’s First Christian Law School Locked in a Major Debate Over Gay Rights
    Posted September 17, 2014 at 2:41 pm by Billy Hallowell

    Comments (134)

    A plethora of debate continues to rage surrounding a proposed Canadian law school’s mandatory requirement that students and faculty sign a pledge affirming that they will not enter into same-sex relationships.

    While the council of the Law Society of New Brunswick, the province’s independent legal body, decided in June to offer accreditation to the School of Law at Trinity Western University, an opposing resolution was passed by members Saturday, asking that the decision be overturned.

    The nonbinding resolution passed 137 to 30, according to a press release from Trinity Western University, which is planning to open Canada’s first Christian law school in 2016.

    The results of the resolution will be presented and discussed at a September 26 meeting of the law society’s council. If the resolution is adopted, it would have sweeping ramifications, banning graduates of the law school from being eligible to be admitted to the bar in New Brunswick, CBC News reported.

    School of Law

    School of Law at Trinity Western University

    Officials at the college are dismayed over the vote, with spokesperson Dr. Guy Saffold saying that it goes against the notions of diversity and religious freedom.

    “It is disappointing that a resolution would pass that would compromise Canada’s commitment to freedoms of conscience, religion, belief, expression and association,” he said in a statement. “Any move to marginalize the millions of Canadian citizens of diverse faiths who share a common understanding of marriage suggests development of a very dangerous trend.”

    The university’s press release also noted that the law school’s application has already been approved by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada and the B.C. Ministry of Advanced Education.

    But Trinity Western University has faced somewhat of an uphill battle. While the institution was approved for accreditation by bar associations in British Columbia, Alberta, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nunavut, the governing bodies in Ontario and Nova Scotia decided against accreditation, according to CBC News.

    Trinity Western University is suing to fight back against these latter decisions and separate reviews are scheduled in December in the respective provinces.

    Daphne Dumont, the former president of the Canadian Bar Association, expressed her opposition to the Christian law school, speaking out against the pledge students must sign.

    “The Canadian Bar Association is saying that’s not a good model to train lawyers,” she told CBC News. “One of the curriculum elements being the operation of the Charter of Rights in Canada, where we have said that gay marriage is to be accepted.”

    A gay campaigner waves the rainbow flag during a rally outside the Houses of Parliament as the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill gets an unopposed third reading by the Lords in central London on July 15, 2013. Gay marriage was set to be legalised in England and Wales after the controversial Bill introducing it cleared the Lords today. Credit: AFP/Getty Images

    AFP/Getty Images

    Trinity Western University’s community covenant makes it clear that biblical relationships remain confined to one man and one woman.

    “According to the Bible, sexual intimacy is reserved for marriage between one man and one woman, and within that marriage bond it is God’s intention that it be enjoyed as a means for marital intimacy and procreation,” it reads. “Honouring and upholding these principles, members of the TWU community strive for purity of thought and relationship, respectful modesty, personal responsibility for actions taken, and avoidance of contexts where temptation to compromise would be particularly strong.”

    On one side there are those who argue that religious freedom is paramount and that the university and its students should be free to uphold religious convictions in the covenant.

    On the other, though, are critics who claim that the agreement students are required to sign would preclude gays and lesbians from studying at the school and would, thus, violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the nation’s bill of rights.

    Observers say its likely the nation’s Supreme Court will eventually settle the case.

  • The Outrageous Price Tag of Transitioning from Romneycare to Obamacare: Report
    Posted September 17, 2014 at 2:26 pm by Fred Lucas

    Comments (0)

    The health care plan Massachusetts adopted in 2006 served as the model for the Affordable Care Act. But now, transitioning to federal law better known as Obamacare could cost the Bay State about $1 billion.

    President Barack Obama chats with Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick upon arrival at Worcester Regional Airport in Worcester, Massachusetts on June 11, 2014. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

    Massachusetts, which originated the concept of exchanges or marketplaces will likely spend more than $600 million over two years on setting up an exchange that complies with Obamacare, according to an analysis by the Pioneer Institute, a Boston-based conservative think tank.

    The cost of the new exchanges alone will cost more than the state spent on public health, early education and care, housing, economic development or the environment in 2013, according to the analysis.

    The new transition to Medicaid – created last year when the state’s exchange failed – will cost $540 million for calendar year 2014, according to the Pioneer Institute analysis released Wednesday. About 300,000 people are in the new Massachusetts Medicaid program. The Pioneer Institute study said the program had little eligibility verification. The costs for both exchanges and Medicaid comes to $1.14 billion.

    But Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, a Democrat, contested the numbers in a statement issued by his office while the governor is on a European trade mission.

    “One thing I won’t miss is having to answer spurious charges from the Pioneer Institute based on politics rather than facts,” Patrick said. “The truth is that Massachusetts is still successfully expanding health care and doing so within budget. The philosophical objections to the ACA of this reliable critic don’t change that.”

    The exchanges were part of then-Gov. Mitt Romney’s signature legislative achievement during his one term as governor. The state’s health law was frequently referred to as Romneycare.

    The program’s changes lacks transparency and should be investigated, said Pioneer Institute Senior Fellow Josh Archambault, the study’s author.

    “There has been little in the way of transparency regarding the cost of the exchange’s failure,” Archambault said in a statement.

    Archambault believes there should be both state and federal investigations into how the Massachusetts program was operated. This is in part because, he said, Massachusetts was required to verify eligibility of those enrolled in the exchanged and Medicaid within 180 days, but missed the deadline.

    “I hope this report will prompt greater oversight and accountability of how taxpayer money is spent in the future,” Archambault said.

    This is Patrick’s final year in office, as Republican Charles Baker and Democrat Martha Coakley are facing off in the governor’s race this year.

    “The Legislature and the new Governor will be in for a rude awakening when the bill from the feds comes due early next year,” Pioneer Institute Executive Director Jim Stergios said. “The cost will likely mean cuts to education, transportation, public safety, or higher taxes to fill the gap.”

    Follow Fred Lucas (@FredVLucas3) on Twitter

  • New Zealand Jihadist Wants to Leave Syria. There’s Only One Problem.
    Posted September 17, 2014 at 2:17 pm by Sharona Schwartz

    Comments (125)

    A New Zealander who said he traveled to Syria for a jihad “adventure” now wants to leave the war-torn country, but is faced with a challenge: obtaining a new passport after he burned his old one in protest.

    Mark John Taylor, who goes by the name Mohammad Daniel but is also known as Abu Abdul-Rahman, traveled to Syria in June, entering through the Turkish border, the New Zealand Herald reported.

    “I come to Syria as a soldier for Allah,” he told the Herald over the summer. In social media postings, he described himself as an “adventurer living in Syria. I have no links to any groups. I’m independent, living under good care by Muslim brothers.”

    Mark John Taylor posted a photo of himself online holding a machine gun (Image source: Facebook)

    Mark John Taylor posted a photo of himself online holding a machine gun (Image source: Facebook)

    Earlier this year, Taylor posted a photo online of himself holding a machine gun as well as an image of his burned New Zealand passport, saying he was on a “one-way trip.”

    He once told the newspaper the Australian that he had joined Al Qaeda.

    The Australian reported that besides no longer possessing his passport, Taylor could face criminal charges should he ever return to his native country.

    Taylor said in an interview this week with the New Zealand blog Aotearoa Independent Media Centre that he was planning to leave Syria next month.

    He said he hadn’t yet received a reply to his request for a new passport.

    Asked if he had broken any international laws, Taylor was quoted as saying, “No, I only went there for adventure jihad, but along the way I realized Syria is in a very dire need of humanity aid and support.”

    He asserted that the Muslims in Syria and Iraq “want peace” but can’t achieve it while Western nations attack “innocent Muslims.”

    Taylor said he does not plan to return to New Zealand.

    The Australian reported in July that Taylor was already subject to travel restrictions, while New Zealand’s 3News reported that New Zealand had once canceled his passport.

    Taylor posted a video message from Syria on YouTube in July (Image source: YouTube)

    Taylor posted a video message from Syria on YouTube in July (Image source: YouTube)

    Some reports suggested he may also have possessed an Australian passport.

    In a July video posted on YouTube, Taylor declared, “I am a New Zealander known as Mark John Taylor, my current location is in Syria and my commitment is for jihad, for Allah and his messenger.”

    In July, he told the New Zealand Herald on Sunday that he would stay in Syria until he reached “martyrdom.”

    Taylor was arrested in Pakistan in 2009 when he tried to travel to Waziristan, The Australian reported.

    He told a TV3 news show that he was simply trying to look for a wife.

    “I didn’t have a death wish I was just looking for a lady for marriage,” he said in 2011.

    “It was my mistake. People might call me stupid and dumb for making that mistake but that’s my problem,” he said.

    (H/T: Daily Mail)

  • Pictures: Some of the Worst Airline Travelers Captured on Camera
    Posted September 17, 2014 at 1:24 pm by Liz Klimas

    Comments (42)

    While rudeness can be on display during any mode of travel, the recent headliners about fights over reclining seats on airplanes might have given “passenger shaming” a more national interest.

    Passenger Shaming,” Facebook page devoted to collecting photos showing travelers doing their worst to those around them has begun picking up steam.

    “Are these assholes serious? Photos taken by anonymous flight attendants & passengers from all over the world,” the description about the Facebook page says, giving this final advice to travelers: “Don’t end up here.”

    Here is just a taste of what has been witnessed:

    Passenger Shaming has some photos on its Instagram account as well:

    The Passenger Shaming accounts were created by Shawn Kathleen, a flight attendant, who started the blog Rants of Sassy Stew a few years ago detailing similar encounters and more from her experience in the air, according to the Today show. She even has a specific section on her blog dedicated to #FlyingFeet, or passengers who feel the need to take off their shoes en route.

    For even more passenger shaming incidents, check out the full Facebook page, the associated Twitter profile or Instagram.

    (H/T: Daily Mail)

    Front page image via Shutterstock.

  • Is the World Running Out of Diamonds?
    Posted September 17, 2014 at 1:20 pm by Zach Noble

    Comments (85)

    A worldwide diamond shortage could be coming soon, according to the company that could stand to make billions of extra dollars from a worldwide diamond shortage.

    But the shortage, like the value of a diamond, could be an illusion.

    De Beers, the diamond cartel that has tightly controlled a huge chunk of the global diamond trade since the late 1800s, announced Wednesday that diamond mines were drying up and, as Agence France-Presse reported, that could drive up the price of the rocks in coming decades.

    “Unless major new discoveries are made in the coming years, supply can be expected to decline gradually from 2020,” De Beers forecast.

    Image via Shutterstock

    Photo credit: Shutterstock

    De Beers said mines in Botswana, South Africa and Namibia are becoming depleted and that miners are being forced to explore Canada, Siberia and central Africa in pursuit of new diamond sources.

    As diamonds get harder to find, demand is rising worldwide, AFP reported, with the burgeoning middle classes in India and China snapping up the stones that adorn the typical American engagement ring.

    De Beers CEO Philippe Mellier predicted that Chinese demand for diamonds would grow by 10 percent annually for ”many more years.”

    But while global demand may be rising, the notion that supply is truly shrinking seems doubtful.

    De Beers, which currently accounts for roughly one-third of the world’s diamond trade, has a long history of stockpiling diamonds to artificially jack up prices, and, as the Washington Post reported in 2010, even as other companies broke De Beers’ effective monopoly on the diamond trade in the 1990s, diamond sellers still kept supply under control, holding on to large caches of diamonds (or selling them to banks, which held on to them) instead of flooding the market and driving down prices.

    It seems likely that there’s a healthy supply of already mined diamonds being stockpiled, and while South African mines may be depleting, there’s another country that still has plenty of the rocks: Russia.

    As ZeroHedge noted in 2012, Siberian diamond reserves are estimated to be massive, holding trillions of carats.

    Issues of supply and demand don’t even touch on another, fundamental issue with diamonds: They’re not worth nearly what we pay for them.

    Edward Jay Epstein chronicled the “diamond invention — the creation of the idea that diamonds are rare and valuable, and are essential signs of esteem,” in a 1982 piece for the Atlantic.

    His conclusion: The average consumer will never, ever be able to resell a diamond for anything close to what he or she paid for it, because the value of diamonds is wrapped up in the clever control of global supply and, just as importantly, in the emotional manipulation of consumers looking to express their undying love for one another through an engagement ring.

    Try bringing those emotions back to a gem dealer, and you’ll get, as Epstein noted, maybe 50 cents on the dollar.

    Further evidence that diamond prices are driven less by genuine supply and demand and more by careful market manipulation: De Beers is looking into the second-hand diamond trade, South Africa’s Business Day reported Wednesday, as gem experts said the company is “worried” that their business could take a serious hit if people sell their own diamonds en masse.

    Follow Zach Noble (@thezachnoble) on Twitter

  • Can You Catch the Difference Between How Trey Gowdy and Elijah Cummings Recite the Benghazi Victims’ Names at Wednesday’s Hearing?
    Posted September 17, 2014 at 12:51 pm by Pete Kasperowicz

    Comments (355)

    The Select Committee on Benghazi held its first public hearing on Wednesday, which gave members of both parties a chance to recall the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and remember the four Americans who died as a result.

    But some members had more trouble than others remembering the names of the victims. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) called on everyone to remember the names of the four Americans who died.

    “Their names must be etched in our memory banks,” Cummings said. “Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, and Glen Doherty.”

    But he had to look down as his prepared remarks before reading out each name (Cummings reads off the names at about the 20-second mark):

    Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), who chairs the select committee, seemed to have a much easier time remembering their names. Gowdy referred to his remarks, but was able to list the names without nearly as much trouble (Gowdy reads the names at about the 30-second mark):

    “Two were killed when a facility emblematic of our country was set on fire, and two of them were killed when they dared to fight back and defend themselves and others,” Gowdy said. “Sean Smith, Chris Stevens, Ty Woods and Glen Doherty represented us. They represented our country and our values.”

    Gowdy’s committee met just a day after several Democrats held a press conference in which they said all relevant questions about the 2012 attack have been answered.

    But Gowdy defended the committee’s work, and said there are still lingering questions and documents that have not been turned over to Congress.

    “Some question the need for this committee,” he said. “I respect your right to disagree, but the mark of a professional, indeed the mark of character, is to do a good job even if you do not think the task should have been assigned in the first place.”

    “Given the gravity of the issues at hand, I am willing to risk answering the same question twice rather than risk not answering it once,” he said.

  • Suspended Baseball Player Reportedly Helps Car Crash Victims
    Posted September 17, 2014 at 12:32 pm by Zach Noble

    Comments (0)

    Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis reportedly got out of his car and helped people involved in an accident Monday, and another man who got out to help, Mike Soukup, recognized the ballplayer-turned-good Samaritan.

    Davis tested positive for amphetamines and was hit with a 25-game suspension last week; He said he’d been taking Adderall, for which he had previously had a therapeutic use exemption.

    FILE – In this May 20, 2014, file photo, Baltimore Orioles’ Chris Davis walks in the dugout before a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh. Davis was suspended 25 games without pay for using amphetamines, the league announced Friday, Sept. 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

    Here’s Soukup’s whole story:

    I was on my way home from the city about 2 p.m. going south on I-295. I saw the brake lights as I was heading around a slight right-hand bend under the train tracks … and a massive cloud of dust. I was about five to six cars back. I did not see what happened, but instantly saw the truck laying on its drivers side and a man laying in the pull-over area on the left hand side who had obviously been ejected from the wreck. He wasn’t really moving. A man was already running over to him.

    I pulled past the wreck and over to the right-hand pull-off and I saw that there were still two men in the truck and that one of them was trapped halfway out the window. He was pinned underneath the overturned truck. He was bleeding pretty badly and gasoline was dripping out of the truck. The first man waved me over, and he, and I, and a woman started trying to lift the truck off of the pinned man. It was too heavy for the three of us – it was an old, large model pick-up and was VERY heavy. However, within a half-a-minute, another five to six folks had jumped out and started helping. We were able to pick the truck back up onto its wheels – unpinning the man.

    When I turned to look at the first man, I instantly noticed a VERY strong resemblance to Chris Davis. He didn’t have any Orioles gear on (so I wasn’t sure .. there was no big “19″ on him anywhere!), except his tennis shoes were black and orange. We glanced at each other with a “good job” look and I said, ‘Chris?’ He said, ‘Yeah?’ ‘Chris Davis?’ ‘Yeah?’ I said, ‘One hell of a way to meet Chris Davis … and by the way, I think they screwed you over big-time and I support you 100 percent.’ He said ‘Thanks, it really means a lot to hear that,” and was very sincere about it. He also said he was RIGHT in back of the truck when it had a tire blow-out and swerved, hit the wall and rolled.

    By that time, lots of people were on the scene and EMTs were starting to arrive. I began cleaning up the tools of the poor guys who were involved in the accident. After I had cleaned up what I could, I considered getting an autograph … but thought it a bit tacky. By this time, the place was swarming and I didn’t want to bother him, so I just went up, shook his hand and said ‘Good job and good luck.’ Then I got in my car and drove home to tell my wife about the wild story of “How I met Chris Davis (her favorite player).” I also told her that he was even better looking in person! My wife swooned a bit …

    Follow Zach Noble (@thezachnoble) on Twitter

  • See the Surprise 16 Israeli Soldiers Got From American Tourists After a Meal
    Posted September 17, 2014 at 12:27 pm by Dave Urbanski

    Comments (99)

    By the time a big group of Israeli soldiers had finished with their meals, they got a huge surprise from American tourists.

    “My brother, a soldier in the navy, went out with 15 of his friends who serve with him in his unit to eat,” Daniel Stern wrote on the Jerusalem Post’s Facebook page. “They weren’t in uniform but they had their guns with them. When they finished eating they discovered that their bill had already been paid by American tourists who also left them this lovely note”

    Image source: Facebook

    Image source: Facebook

    The note read:

    Dear Brothers,

    Thank you. Thank you for your courage, for your service, for your sacrifice. May Hashem bless you and protect you — may all your enemies stumble and miss their mark. Jews all around the world admire you, and are grateful for you.

    Be safe,

    Your brothers & sisters in America

    “Hashem” is a traditional way for Jews to refer to God.

    The check’s date appears to be from Tuesday. The total — 1,269 shekels in Israeli currency — is just under $349 in U.S. dollars.

    (H/T: Jerusalem Post)

  • Rock Superstar Reveals Path From Drugs, Partying and Despair to Discovering God’s ‘Unearthly Forgiveness’
    Posted September 17, 2014 at 12:14 pm by Billy Hallowell

    Comments (265)

    Korn guitarist Brian Welch found himself at a potentially dangerous crossroads. Drugs, partying and the rock star life were weighing him down, as he desperately sought reprieve from the depths of spiritual despair.

    It was 2005 when Welch, who is featured in the new Christian documentary “Holy Ghost,” was enjoying fame and fortune as a member of Korn, one of the world’s most well-known metal bands. But at the same time he recalls feeling, as he described it, “like a walking gutter.”

    “I was on [drugs] for two years every single day. I felt like a walking gutter.”

    “I mean, 11 years in a rock band just partying every single day, every drug I did except heroin,” he recently told TheBlaze. “I was on [drugs] for two years every single day. I felt like a walking gutter.”

    Welch said he was a “walking shell” — that is, until he went to church one day and found Jesus.

    “When I went to the church, I heard that Jesus was real and I raised my hand in the air,” he said. “I went home and talked to him.”

    The transition didn’t unfold over night, but Welch said that the experience stuck with him, as he spent the next few weeks talking to God, asking the Lord to help him change and, more specifically, to remove drugs from his life.

    One day, Welch said be received the answer he had been seeking.

    “In the middle of feeling like a gutter for two years, feeling like a piece of dog poop … I felt the most intense love coming into my room,” he said. “It was unearthly forgiveness. The stuff I’ve done behind closed doors, I should be put in jail for it. All I felt was forgiveness. [God] loves to shower beauty on the ugliest of circumstances.”

    “I felt the most intense love coming into my room. It was unearthly forgiveness.”

    And it was that moment that changed it all. Welch said that God became real to him for the first time in his life.

    He had been touring nonstop with Korn at the time and, considering that he had a 6-year-old daughter to care for and was struggling with some of what came along with his fame and fortune, the guitarist made the tough decision to leave the band.

    “I just had heaven opened over my life, God became real to me,” he said. “[I thought], ‘I’ve got to take time off and figure out what this means,’” he told TheBlaze, a decision he’s spoken about openly in the past.

    “I just had heaven opened over my life, God became real to me.”

    Welch, who later rejoined the band in 2013, said that he believes God wants every individual to experience the same life change that he went through.

    From left, guitarist James “Munky” Shaffer, guitarist Brian “Head” Welch, vocalist Jonathan Davis, bassist Reginald “Fieldy” Arvizu, and drummer Ray Luzier as Korn is Inducted into Guitar Center’s RockWalk at the Guitar Center Hollywood on Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Paul A. Hebert/Invision/AP)

    “The thing is, it’s all about the heart. God wants your heart,” he said. “He wants to capture 100 percent of your heart and he captured mine.”

    Welch believes that God led him back to the band, despite his previous decision to leave Korn to focus on his faith. While some might critique Korn’s music and lyrics — tunes Welch plays right along with his bandmates — he said that he feels called to minister and be around the rock scene.

    “Since he captured my heart I don’t have a problem being around people who drink or do drugs,” he said, noting that it gives him a chance bring God to those who who desperately need him. “This stuff doesn’t have me anymore.”

    “God wants your heart.”

    Welch and his fellow bandmate Reggie Quincy ”Fieldy” Arvizu — who is also a Christian — have spent much of their time talking with fans about Jesus Christ.

    Both are depicted in the new documentary “Holy Ghost,” a film by director Darren Wilson that had no script, no plan and that Wilson believes was “completely led by the Holy Spirit.”

    Watch the trailer below:

    “Whether its the riches of Monte Carlo, a heavy metal concert, or the oldest city in the world, the result is a film that not only challenges and excites, but also reveals a God who is far more alive and active than you ever imagined,” reads an official description of the movie.

    Welch, who is seen expressing his faith and interacting with fans in the film, is hoping that “Holy Ghost” will help inspire Christians to follow his lead and to take the gospel message to people outside the church, where he says it is most needed.

    “Ask [God] for wisdom and unique ways to get out into the world.”

    “Ask [God] for wisdom and unique ways to get out into the world, because everyone’s stuck in the church — and bring them in,” he said.

    Find out more about “Holy Ghost” here.

  • Los Angeles School Police Are Giving Back Grenade Launchers Handed Down From the Pentagon
    Posted September 17, 2014 at 11:43 am by Elizabeth Kreft

    Comments (73)

    The Los Angeles School Police Department will return three grenade launchers it acquired from the Pentagon’s excess equipment program, police officials told the Los Angeles Times Tuesday.

    But school police plan to keep 61 rifles and an armored vehicle acquired through the Defense Department’s 1033 program, which provides law enforcement agencies with extra military-grade gear at no charge. At least 22 school systems in eight states have received equipment through the program.

    A Marine with Engineer Support Company, 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, fires the M32 grenade launcher at Camp Pendleton, Calif.,The Los Angeles School Police Department, which serves the nation's second-largest school system, plans to return three grenade launchers it received from the Department of Defense, but will keep 61 rifles and an armored vehicle (Image source: DoD).

    A Marine fires an M32 grenade launcher at Camp Pendleton, Calif. The Los Angeles School Police Department, which serves the nation’s second-largest school system, plans to return three grenade launchers it received from the Department of Defense, but will keep 61 rifles and an armored vehicle. (Image source: Department of Defense)

    A police sergeant who declined to be named told Reuters the department had received the equipment from the military and called it necessary “for the safety of staff, students, and personnel.”

    The sergeant said the grenade launchers and the Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle — built to withstand roadside bombs — would only be used in “very specific circumstances,” though didn’t give examples of such a scenario.

    From the Los Angeles Times:

    Deborah Fowler, deputy director of Texas Appleseed, a social justice nonprofit, said in a statement that other more common weapons used by officers and security guards, such as Tasers and pepper spray, have been misused in schools. Much of this excessive force is targeted at students of color and those with disabilities, she said.

    “Military-grade weapons have no place on our public school campuses,” Fowler said. “We’re simply calling for a return to common sense when it comes to the way our schools are kept safe,” she said.

    The Los Angeles School Police Department serves the nation’s second-largest school system. Officials said the M-16 automatic rifles they received in 2001 are modified to semi-automatic, and are “essential life-saving items” that will continue to be available to trained officers. The armored vehicle will be used only under extraordinary circumstances, officials said.

    Following the unrest set off in Ferguson, Missouri, last month over the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was black, by a white police officer, President Barack Obama ordered a review of the 1033 program to evaluate how the war-worthy equipment has been used and distributed.

    TheBlaze has reported on multiple cases of local law enforcement agencies accepting military-grade equipment from the Department of Defense’s program, which has been in existence since 1991.

    The Los Angeles Police School District did not immediate respond to TheBlaze’s request for comment.

    (H/T: MSN)
    Follow Elizabeth Kreft (@elizabethakreft) on Twitter
  • A Motorcycle, Mercedes and Audi All Went Through the Intersection at the Same Time — the Result Was Stunning
    Posted September 17, 2014 at 11:15 am by Liz Klimas

    Comments (63)

    It is unclear who was in the wrong in this video of a dangerous-looking accident, but what is clear is that two cars turning left and a motorcycle going perpendicular to them all felt they were in the right of way at the time.

    According to a dashcam video taken in late August and posted on YouTube this month, the incident between an Audi, Mercedes and motorcycle occurred in Kaliningrad, Russia (via an unofficial translation). It shows the motorcyclist ramming into one of the cars and cartwheeling up in between the two vehicles before he fell forward onto the pavement.

    Image source: YouTube

    Image source: YouTube

    Image source: YouTube

    Image source: YouTube

    Watch the dramatic accident:

    As the car recording the footage approached the intersection before the accident, it showed the light blinking red, then yellow and then turning green, which could suggest both the cars and the motorcycle were beginning to go through the intersection out of turn. The video description said that the two cars went through the yellow light.

    The extent of any injuries in the accident is unknown.

    (H/T: Viral Hog)

  • See the Touching Handwritten Poem a Famed Rock Star Once Delivered to Evangelist Billy Graham
    Posted September 17, 2014 at 10:19 am by Billy Hallowell

    Comments (95)

    It’s no secret that U2 frontman Bono is a Bible-believing Christian — but what some might not know is that the musician is friends with famed evangelist Billy Graham.

    And another fun fact: the rocker once wrote the Christian leader a heartfelt poem that is now on display in the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina.

    Bono delivered the handwritten poem to the faith leader after visiting Graham and his family at their home back in 2002. In it, the singer said he would “never forget” the preacher’s sermons, which he said helped bring meaning to his life.

    See an image of the poem below:

    The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

    The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

    And here’s the full text:

    The journey from Father to friend
    is all paternal loves end
    It was sung in my teenage ears
    In the voice of a preacher
    loudly soft on my tears
    I would never forget this
    Melody line
    Or its lyric voice that gave my life
    A Rhyme
    a meaning that wasn’t there before
    a child born in dung and straw
    wish the Father’s love and desire to explain
    how we might get on with each other again…

    To the Rev Billy Graham (that preacher)
    Ruth and all the Graham family
    From Bono (March 11 2002)
    With much love and respect

    In 2011, Sojourners writer Cathleen Falsani described speaking with Bono in 2005 about his friendship with and respect for Graham, which began in 2002 when the singer visited the family.

    He recalled receiving a message that the evangelist wanted to offer up a blessing to U2 members — something Bono described at the time as “a big deal.”

    “So I rented a plane and flew there right away in case he might forget. I was picked up by his son, Franklin, and driven a couple of hours up to their house,” Bono told Falsani. “I met briefly with himself and his wife, Ruth. I think I’ve mentioned to you before that the blessings of an older man mean a great deal to me. Particularly this man.”

    The singer gave Graham a book of poetry, writing his own poem on a piece of paper and placing it inside of it.

    These proclamations of faith aren’t entirely surprising, as Bono has generally been an open book about his views on God and the Bible. In a 2013 interview with Focus on the Family, for instance, he described his strong stance on Christian scripture.

    FILE – In this Jan. 12, 2014 file photo, The Edge, left, and Bono, of musical group U2, arrive at the 71st annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP, File)

    “Jesus isn’t lettin’ you off the hook. The Scriptures don’t let you off the hook so easily,” Bono said. “When people say, you know, ‘Good teacher,’ ‘prophet,’ ‘really nice guy’ … this is not how Jesus thought of himself.”

    He added, “I believe that Jesus was, you know, the Son of God. And I understand that … we need to be really, really respectful to people who find that ridiculous and … preposterous.”

    (H/T: Huffington Post)

  • The Very Important Thing a New, High-Tech Garbage Truck Lacks
    Posted September 17, 2014 at 10:15 am by Liz Klimas

    Comments (62)

    If you forgot that it’s trash collection day, you’re bound to find out the hard way when you hear the roar of an engine barreling down your road while you’re still lying in bed. This sound might be a good reminder to scramble and get the can out to the road,  but it is still rude awakening.

    At least some of the usual trash truck sounds could be cut down for Chicagoans though as the city is beginning to use a new, all-electric truck.

    “[N]o one wants large, noisy truck engines idling next to their house at 6 am when they could have clean, and quieter [electric refuse vehicles] keeping the morning peace instead,” Jim Castelaz, CEO of Motiv Power Systems, which created the Motiv Electric Refuse Vehicle, said in a statement.

    The City of Chicago is currently running the Motiv ERV on different residential refuse and recycling routes of up to 60 miles, saving 2,688 gallons a year. (PRNewsFoto/Motiv Power Systems)

    The City of Chicago is currently running the Motiv ERV on different residential refuse and recycling routes of up to 60 miles, saving 2,688 gallons a year. (PRNewsFoto/Motiv Power Systems)

    The addition of the truck to the fleet makes Chicago the first city with an all-electric garbage truck, which a news release stated will save more than 2,600 gallons of fuel each year.

    “The City in a Garden is proud to be home to North America’s first all-electric refuse and recycling truck, and we look forward to examining how this truck can boost efficiency, reduce emissions and save tax payer dollars in the future,” David Reynolds, commissioner of the city’s department of fleet and facility management, said in a statement.

    Unlike electric cars, electric trash trucks are a bit more demanding on energy. According to the news release, they need to have a 60-mile range, the ability to tote around nine tons and boast 1,000 pounds per cubic yard of compaction. To accommodate these needs, 10 battery packs give the truck up to 200 kilowatt-hours of energy. At full charge, the truck can run for eight hours.

    “By developing our electric trucks in collaboration with existing diesel truck manufacturers, we build vehicles that are just as tough and capable as the diesel versions these partners build,” John Knudtson, the company’s vice president of business development, said. “We are leveraging the expertise of existing truck manufacturers. They can offer electric options of their existing trucks, to their existing customers, and service them with their existing infrastructure. The Chicago ERV is illustrative of this unique business model and is applicable throughout the US in many different truck segments.”

    The city is slated to receive about 20 electric refuse vehicles in total within the next five years.

    Motiv’s technologies are also used to create electric school buses and other trucks. The company ranked 240 out of 5,000 in’s list of the fastest growing private companies of 2014.

    Chicago is no stranger to turning to green tech to take care of its refuse. Back in 2011, it signed a $2.5 million deal with BigBelly Solar, which makes solar-powered trash compactors. According to the Chicago Sun Times at the time, these trash compactors that run off energy harnessed from the sun can hold five times more trash than typical garbage cans.

    A BigBelly Compactor spotted in New York City. (Photo credit: Albin Sadar/TheBlaze)

    A BigBelly Solar compactor spotted in New York City. (Photo credit: Albin Sadar/TheBlaze)

    Other U.S. cities, including New York City, and other countries have deployed some of these trash compactors as well.

    (H/T: Gizmodo)

  • Meet the U.S. Senate Candidate Running to Restore the Gold Standard in a Deep Blue Northeastern State
    Posted September 17, 2014 at 9:44 am by Benjamin Weingarten

    Comments (15)

    For conservatives, libertarians, independents and disaffected Democrats, the most intriguing dark horse senatorial candidate in 2014 might just be a 70-year old New Jerseyan you’ve never heard of.

    When Jeff Bell last won election – as the Republican nominee for the same U.S. Senate seat he seeks today in New Jersey – Jimmy Carter had not yet delivered his infamous “malaise” speech. Long-term interest rates hovered above 8%. Bell’s current opponent, Senator Cory Booker, was a child.

    Jeff Bell. (Image Source: AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

    Jeff Bell. (Image Source: AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

    A self described “policy wonk” and “political junkie,” Bell unseated incumbent Republican senator, Clifford Case, in a major upset in that 1978 primary, before losing the general election to former NBA star and future presidential candidate Bill Bradley. No Republican has ever been elected to the U.S. Senate from New Jersey since.

    In 1982, the then-39 year old Columbia graduate, who started contributing to National Review in the 1960s, served as an aide to the Nixon campaign in 1968; fought in Vietnam; worked on the 1976 and 1980 Reagan campaigns; and would attempt — unsuccessfully — to secure the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in New Jersey again following the resignation of a Democratic senator convicted for bribery and conspiracy in the Abscam scandal fictionalized in the 2013 film, “American Hustle.”

    While he would notably later serve as national campaign coordinator for Rep. Jack Kemp in his 2000 presidential bid, the majority of Bell’s career was spent focusing on advancing policy over politics. Bell served a short stint as president of the conservative Manhattan Institute think tank, as well as lengthier tenures at an economic and political forecasting firm, Lehrman Bell Mueller Canon, a public affairs firm, Capital City Partners, and in academia as a fellow at Harvard’s Institute of Politics and visiting professor at Rutgers’ Eagleton Institute.

    Bell also wrote columns for publications such as the Wall Street Journal and Weekly Standard, and published two books including the 2012 title, “The Case for Polarized Politics: Why America Needs Social Conservatism,” and the 1992 title “Populism and Elitism: Politics in the Age of Equality.”

    Most recently, the Senate candidate co-founded and spent several years as a director of policy at the conservative American Principles Project, where he headed its “Gold Is Money” initiative. In this capacity, Bell sought to persuade national politicians to reinstate the gold standard – not just audit the Fed, which Bell views as a relatively empty and largely symbolic measure.

    But as the Republican nominee told us in a recent interview in TheBlaze’s New York offices, which you can listen to in full below, Bell could not compel others in Washington to take up the issue in a meaningful way:

    I spent four years in Washington as Policy Director of the American Principles Project trying to get people to deal with the need for monetary reform, specifically a return to the gold-backed dollar that we abandoned 43 years ago. And I couldn’t do it.

    The Fed is an 800-pound gorilla. Nobody wanted to take them on. The Fed is financing Congress’s increasing debt loads, which makes [federal spending] much less painful than it would otherwise be. They’re financing…a Wall Street boom.

    …I couldn’t find people who wanted to take the issue [of reinstating the gold standard] on. I even tried to recruit other candidates for the Senate…but I failed…So rather suddenly, in late January, I realized this issue wasn’t going to get into the mix unless I returned to New Jersey and ran myself.

    And run Bell did, winning in a four-way Republican primary this past June, some thirty-six years after last winning an election.

    Now the conservative Bell finds himself in the midst of a most unconventional campaign (from the lobby of a New Jersey hotel), on a shoestring budget (his campaign reported $0 in the bank at last disclosure), primarily by championing a single issue (the gold standard).

    On this latter point, Bell told us that given the nature of the campaign and financial limitations, rather than run on a broad array of issues he decided to run on “the thing that I think is most important for the economy, which is the mismanagement of monetary policy by the Federal Reserve, and the fact that they are almost singlehandedly holding back this economic recovery.

    “Their crushing low-interest rate policy makes it impossible or very difficult for even a successful small business to get lines of credit that they need to expand…and of course savers cannot save by…traditional means such as a savings account and CDs,” he added.

    TheBlaze asked Bell if sound money was a compelling issue to New Jersey voters, especially in light of the fact that some Garden State natives work on Wall Street, and thus ostensibly benefit from the Federal Reserve’s policies. While Bell acknowledges that this segment of the electorate is not particularly receptive to his views on monetary policy, he is not overly concerned with New Jersey’s Wall Street denizens, focusing his efforts instead on grassroots voters:

    Although nobody was talking about the gold standard when I came into the state, if you offer it as the explanation and the answer for what is going on with the Fed – and their printing of money and their crushing the economy – then people are very interested…and the fact that they haven’t heard it before is not a negative because voters at the grassroots are much more open to ideas that are outside the box than elites are.

    “[T]he grassroots are much more open to ideas that are outside the box than elites are.”

    A quick glance at Bell’s website, not to mention his aforementioned book, “The Case for Polarized Politics: Why America Needs Social Conservatism,” indicates the nominee’s conservatism goes beyond monetary matters. When we asked him if such views were acceptable in a liberal state like New Jersey, Bell said that while the state is no Texas, he’s “gotten no pushback on…[his] unapologetic support for life and the traditional definition of marriage.”

    Skeptics would question Bell’s viability as a candidate on the basis of his ideology alone. Running in a deep blue state like New Jersey — where Barack Obama beat Mitt Romney 58% to 41% in 2012 — is daunting for any Republican. But Bell notes that a national anti-incumbent theme, as reflected by Dave Brat’s upset of former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on the right, and Marine Corps veteran Seth Moulton’s victory over 9-term incumbent Massachusetts Democrat John Tierney on the left, may help him overcome the state’s liberalism.

    Indeed an anti-incumbency atmosphere, combined with President Obama’s sinking popularity in the state, and what Bell perceives as New Jersey’s yearning for an outsider, is what leads him to believe that he has a legitimate chance to upset Democratic darling Cory Booker [link ours]:

    I’m not at all concerned with the perception that New Jersey is a blue state…New Jersey has had a sea change in its attitude towards President Obama in the last few months. He won the state with 15 percent of the vote…in 2012. And yet a poll that just came out…lists him as having a positive rating in the mid-30s [percent]…after he got 58% two years ago. I think what’s happened across the state is that voters have decided about this presidency, it is not working, and it is not going to work…the world is falling apart and the administration seems to be a spectator. And they’re not going to do anything different on the economy…I think the last thing a lot of voters in New Jersey want to be doing is…casting a vote that would be interpreted as a vote for the “status quo.” That’s hurting Cory Booker.

    In addition to the fact that New Jersey last elected a Republican senator in 1972, Bell’s odds are further weakened due to Cory Booker’s name recognition and comparably massive war chest. But Bell sees optimism in the fact that he is polling closer to Booker, further out from the general election than conservative candidate Steve Lonegan was in the run-up to the 2013 special election for the seat vacated by deceased Senator Frank Lautenberg, which Booker is now defending.

    “[T]he world is falling apart and the administration seems to be a spectator”

    Bell adds that Lonegan, who lost by approximately 11% to Booker, was gaining ground on the former Newark mayor before the U.S. government shutdown, which coincided with the final two weeks of the election, at which point Lonegan’s rise halted.

    As for how New Jersey voters see it, the closest poll conducted thus far, released in early August, had Bell running 10 points behind the incumbent senator, a lead that the New Jersey Star Ledger described as “relatively modest,” and which the assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll called “a bit of a puzzlement.”

    More recent polls have shown a slightly larger anticipated margin of victory by Booker. Perhaps two of the more telling data points beyond their head-to-head numbers are that according to one poll, 46% of independent voters say they are unsure who they will support in the race, and according to another, 37% of all voters do not know who Jeff Bell is.

    Polls indicate a healthy lead for Cory Booker, but the candidate has failed to surpass 50% of the vote, signaling an anti-incumbency bent in the Garden State. (Image Source: Real Clear Politics)

    Polls indicate a healthy lead for Cory Booker, but the candidate has failed to surpass 50% of the vote, signaling an anti-incumbency bent in the Garden State. (Image Source: Real Clear Politics)

    Exposure, then, remains a big issue for Bell. While Politico notes that prominent Republicans such as Steve Forbes, Bill Kristol and Larry Kudlow have worked for Bell, local reports indicate that the candidate has received tepid support from establishment New Jersey Republicans like Gov. Christie, or national groups like the Club for Growth or Senate Conservatives Fund.

    Bell shrugged this notion off at least at the state level, noting that the New Jersey Republican Party has unified, evidenced for example by an upcoming fundraiser headlined by Christie. The New Jersey governor, for his part, has “grown weary” of the implication he is not supporting the state’s Republican party.

    While acknowledging the many difficulties facing his campaign, Bell remains optimistic, noting that pundits were not giving the candidate a shot several months ago, while all across the state Bell is hearing today that this is a winnable election.

    Further, Bell reiterates that

    voters are looking for somebody who is anti-establishment, outside the box…the mood is anti-incumbent and anti-establishment, and Senator Booker would not have run up and down the state in his three stops of his campaign kickoff attacking me at every stop, unless his internal polls were consistent with the public polls that show this is a viable race for me.

    If his analysis is right, Bell’s narrative as an anti-establishment, populist conservative would appear to set up nicely against Booker. The incumbent — who played football at Stanford, earned a Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford and received a law degree from Yale before jumping into Newark politics — has notably spent his abbreviated U.S. Senate term attempting to take selfies with all 99 other senators, while amassing a political fortune by courting Silicon Valley and Wall Street. Booker also personally profited from his relationship with the tech community, drawing ire from progressives for a seeming lack of purity based upon such alliances.

    Should the voters dig into Booker, he also has a far larger public record than Bell, with significant questions about the veracity of the stories he has used to craft his image among voters, and perhaps more importantly the major problems that continue to face the city he led, Newark. One such scandal that occurred during Booker’s tenure as mayor, under his oversight, involved the agency responsible for providing all of Newark’s water allegedly “fleec[ing] millions from the public fisc while his [Booker's] political allies enriched themselves.”

    Booker’s campaign for its part has attacked Bell as a Washington D.C. insider for his years spent in policy advocacy, and cast him as a carpetbagger since Bell moved back to New Jersey in February 2014, having spent the last several decades in the Beltway area.

    Whether or not the confluence of factors outlined herein will make the New Jersey U.S. senatorial race a competitive one in 2014 remains to be seen.

    But while characterizations of Bell by ideological allies as “the most interesting candidate in the world” may be going a bit far, Bell is undoubtedly a subversive candidate to the degree to which a genuinely radical monetary stance combined with traditional conservative values in a plain-spoken and humble package represents a break from the status quo.

    A vote for Bell may be perceived as a protest vote, as he acknowledged in our interview, irrespective of the results on election day. But if Bell can remain competitive with Booker to the end, he has a chance to make the reinstatement of sound money a relevant issue with the megaphone that is the nation’s biggest media market. In that respect, for those who believe in the efficacy of a strong dollar, limited Federal Reserve, less spending and reduced federal debt, Bell is as good as gold.

    Follow Ben Weingarten (@bhweingarten) and TheBlazeBooks on Twitter and Facebook.

    You can find all of our Blaze Books interviews on Soundcloud and Stitcher, and subscribe to our podcast automatically via iTunes.

  • Football Coach Claims He Was Fired for Refusing to Stop Team Members From Praying
    Posted September 17, 2014 at 9:05 am by Billy Hallowell

    Comments (178)

    A public school football coach is claiming he was terminated from his position for allowing players at Catalina Foothills High School in Tucson, Arizona, to pray before and after games.

    Gary Weiss, formerly a volunteer coach with the district, said that he was given an ultimatum by school officials: tell players to stop praying or lose his position. He refused and opted for the latter option, according to KVOA-TV.

    “My concern is the rights of the kids to do what is their right to do,” Weiss told the outlet.

    District administrators said, though, that voluntary prayer is permitted, but that staff members cannot facilitate or promote student invocations.

    The central question is whether Weiss was guilty of organizing or supporting prayers among team members — something the coach denies, claiming that no adults led the invocations. Weiss also said that the prayers were inclusive.

    “The prayers of the freshmen team have been recited by Muslim kids, Jewish kids, and Christian kids,” Weiss told KVOA-TV.

    He is reportedly no longer permitted on school property.

    Reactions to the termination have emerged on social media, with former students and others lambasting the district’s decision.

    (H/T: KVOA-TV)

    Front page image via

  • Joe Biden Uses Famously Anti-Semitic Slur in Speech
    Posted September 17, 2014 at 9:04 am by Sharona Schwartz

    Comments (232)

    UPDATE, 12:45 p.m. ET: Biden called his use of the term “Shylock” a “poor choice of words” and said the leader of the Anti-Defamation League was “right” to criticize him.

    “Abe Foxman has been a friend and advisor of mine for a long time,” Biden said in a statement. “He’s correct, it was a poor choice of words, particularly as he said coming from ‘someone as friendly to the Jewish community and open and tolerant an individual as is Vice President Joe Biden.’ He’s right.”

    Vice President Joe Biden has drawn criticism from a prominent Jewish group after using a well-known anti-Semitic slur during a speech Tuesday.

    Speaking to the Legal Services Corporation – an organization that offers legal services to those who cannot afford them – Biden referred to unscrupulous bankers who target military men and women as “Shylocks.”

    Vice President Joe Biden gestures during a speech to mark the 40th anniversary of the Legal Services Corporation, on Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

    Vice President Joe Biden gestures during a speech to mark the 40th anniversary of the Legal Services Corporation, on Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

    Yahoo News reported that during his remarks, Biden described what his son, Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, experienced while serving in Iraq.

    “People would come to him and talk about what was happening to them at home in terms of foreclosures, in terms of bad loans that were being — I mean, these Shylocks who took advantage of these women and men while overseas,” Biden said.

    Shylock, a Jewish moneylender, was the villain in Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice” who demanded a “pound of flesh” as payment on a loan.

    “Shylock represents the medieval stereotype about Jews and remains an offensive characterization to this day,” Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman said. “The vice president should have been more careful.”

    The statement evoked critical postings on Twitter, as highlighted by Twitchy.

    “When someone as friendly to the Jewish community and open and tolerant an individual as is Vice President Joe Biden, uses the term ‘Shylocked’ to describe unscrupulous moneylenders dealing with service men and women, we see once again how deeply embedded this stereotype about Jews is in society,” Foxman said.

    Ironically, earlier in his speech, Biden seemed to acknowledge his reputation for being gaffe-prone.

    “No one ever doubts that I mean what I say,” he said. “The problem is I sometimes say all that I mean.”

    (H/T: Yahoo News)

  • Coming Soon: When a Cop Points His Radar Gun at You, It Could Detect More Than Just Speeding
    Posted September 17, 2014 at 8:24 am by Liz Klimas

    Comments (351)

    If you’re driving down the road in the future and you see a cop pointing what appears to be a radar gun your way, stepping on the brake to slow down might not help you out, because speeding might not be what he’s looking for.

    A company is working on a detection gun for law enforcement that could tell if someone in a car is texting. (Photo credit: Shutterstock)

    A company is working on a detection gun for law enforcement that could tell if someone in a car is texting. (Photo credit: Shutterstock)

    A Virginia-based company is developing a detection gun that can tell if a person in the vehicle is texting.

    According to the Virginian-Pilot, ComSonics is creating a device that picks up on radio frequencies that come from a cellphone being used inside the car. Malcolm McIntyre, the company’s calibration services manager, told the newspaper that text messages emit a different frequency than other cellphone activities. This would allow such a device to determine if a driver were possibly sending a text behind the wheel.

    ComSonics already has a foot into the law enforcement industry in that it offers calibration and repair services for radar and lidar equipment.

    The Virginian-Pilot reported that this new technology would be similar to its devices that are used by cable technicians to detect leaks. ComSonic’s QAM Sniffer, for example, is able to locate a leak by picking up frequencies from a cable.

    While McIntyre said the text-detecting gun is “close to production,” it would still have to gain legal approval and be brought into law enforcement departments.

    According to AutoEvolution, ComSonic also said at the Virginia Distracted Driving Summit this week that it is still working on a way to find who out in a vehicle might have been texting, if there is more than one person in the car.

    According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, 44 states ban texting while driving. The Federal Communications Commission pointed out that research has found texting while driving increases a crash risk by 23 percent compared to a situation where a driver is not distracted.

    (H/T: Popular Science)

    Front page image via Shutterstock.

    This story has been updated to correct a typo. 

  • Famed Singer Has a Message About the Rejection of God’s Existence: ‘So Incredibly Arrogant and Pompous’
    Posted September 17, 2014 at 8:07 am by Billy Hallowell

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    Singer-songwriter Pharrell Williams believes that it is “incredibly arrogant and pompous” to assume that there’s no God and “nothing else out there.”

    The famed performer affirmed his belief in a higher power during a recent interview with the British magazine Stylist.

    “I believe in God but I also believe in the universe … and I believe in that innate ability to make decisions and to exercise our feelings as human beings,” Williams said. ”How do you see all the stars and think there’s nothing else out there?”

    Pharrell Williams performs on day two of the Budweiser Made in America Festival on Sunday, Aug. 31, 2014 in Philadelphia. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

    But he wasn’t done there. The entertainer also had a more pointed message about those who have concluded that God simply doesn’t exist.

    “It’s so incredibly arrogant and pompous. It’s amazing that there are people who really believe that,” he said. “It’s unbelievable.”

    This isn’t the first time Williams has spoken openly about his belief in a higher power. In fact, the singer said earlier this year that he Lord inspired his writing of the song “Happy,” an upbeat tune that was on the soundtrack for the popular animated film “Despicable Me 2.”

    Describing conceptual struggles that sometimes hit singer-songwriters, Williams said that he had a moment in which ”the master, God, the universe speaks to you” while penning the song.

    Watch him describe that dynamic below:

    For those wondering about the specifics of Williams’ faith views, he said in 2013 that he’s a Christian “on paper,” but labeled himself a Universalist.

    “Do I think that Christianity is the only way? No. I think the only route for everything is their connection to God,” he told GQ Style, according to Metro. “There’s religious dogma that gets involved, something for the greater good and sometimes for not so great reasons … But they give you a way, a vehicle to get to God.”

    (H/T: Christian Today)

  • Saudi Woman Fined for Driving, but When You Hear Where She Was Headed, Her Punishment Will Seem Most Stunning
    Posted September 17, 2014 at 7:51 am by Sharona Schwartz

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    A Saudi woman was pulled over by police, then fined, for driving while she was rushing herself to the hospital to receive treatment for a medical condition, a Saudi newspaper reported.

    Aliyah Al-Farid, a member of Saudi Arabia’s National Society for Human Rights, was pulled over by police as she was driving to the hospital, the Saudi Gazette reported, quoting the Al-Hayat daily.

    Al-Farid said no one else was available to drive her when she began to experience the medical emergency, the nature of which she did not disclose.

    A Saudi woman leaves a mall after ending her shopping in the capital Riyadh, on March 29, 2014. (Photo: Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images)

    A Saudi woman leaves a mall after ending her shopping in the capital Riyadh, on March 29, 2014. (Photo: Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images)

    “I told the traffic officers that I had to drive because it was an emergency case,” Al-Farid later told reporters.

    Police officers pulled her over while she was driving her husband’s car. Upon hearing where she was headed, they allowed her to proceed to the hospital but then waited for her outside while she was being treated, the Gazette reported.

    Four police cars were waiting for her when she emerged from the hospital, and escorted her to the local Traffic Department office.

    Her husband was also called in by police as Al-Farid had twice previously been detained for driving.

    “I didn’t do it on purpose and I’m not after fame or media hype. I was very sick and that was it,” Al-Farid said.

    In her work running a special needs center, Al-Farid admits she at times has to rush patients to the hospital on her own.

    “We can’t leave an epileptic patient convulsing on the ground while waiting for our male driver to come and transport him to hospital,” she said according to the Gazette. “I have to get behind the steering wheel and do it.”

    Following her detention, Al-Farid reportedly refused to sign a statement that she would not drive again.
 Al-Farid learned to drive in Bahrain, but Saudi Arabia prohibits women from operating motor vehicles.

    The Saudi Gazette’s Tuesday report did not note what day the incident occurred.

    A similar incident occurred last year in Saudi Arabia when a Kuwaiti woman was arrested while she was driving her sick father – who was unable to drive due to a medical emergency – to the hospital.

  • Religion or Speech? Students, Teachers Differ on Most Important First Amendment Freedom
    Posted September 17, 2014 at 5:00 am by Fred Lucas

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    High school students and their teachers differ on which of the five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment are the most important, but speech and religion are by far the top finishers, according to a new survey.

    Students, by 65 percent, say speech is the most important freedom guaranteed, while 25 percent of students say religion is the most important right. A plurality of 42 percent of teachers believe freedom of religion is most important, while 40 percent of teachers say speech is the most important right guaranteed under the First Amendment.

    The First Amendment to the Constitution is shown on the page of a history book. (Image source: Shutterstock)

    The First Amendment to the Constitution is shown on the page of a history book. (Image source: Shutterstock)

    The findings, released on Constitution Day, were part of the annual “Students on the Future of the First Amendment” survey conducted by the Knight Foundation.

    The other rights, freedom of the press, freedom to petition the government and freedom to peacefully assemble all had less than 10 percent support as the most important right by the amendment.

    “There is growing support for freedom of speech among students, however, Americans still view freedom of religion as important,” John Sotsky, director of strategy and assessment for the Knight Foundation, told TheBlaze. “Teachers and students have a different generational view that reflects changing attitudes toward religion.”

    The survey also found that for the first time in a decade, more students than adults disagreed with the statement: “The First Amendment goes too far.” This year, 38 percent of teachers and 24 percent of students agreed with the statement. In 2004, 35 percent of students agreed compared with 30 percent of adults.

    Sotsky said the proliferation of digital media could be one of the reasons for increased enthusiasm about free speech among youth.

    “We see a strong relationship, but it’s hard to say if it’s causation,” Sotsky said. “Students are using their phones to consume news and we are seeing stronger support for the First Amendment. Digital media has freed up a lot of information.”

    The survey found 62 percent of students use social networks and 71 percent read news online.

    “Many adults have purely been consumers of media, but digital and social media allows you to be producers of media,” Sotsky added.

    An overwhelming 90 percent of students believed, “People should be allowed to express unpopular opinions,” up from 70 percent in 2004.

    Students generally opposed surveillance from government or business. But that depended on how the question was asked. For example, 83 percent of students opposed government surveillance, but when the question was rephrased to use terrorism as a rationale, opposition dropped to 60 percent.

    Similarly, opposition to business tracking of online activity dropped from 78 percent to 71 percent when the question was rephrased to explain the tracking was to “personalize your search results.”

  • ‘It’s Already Erupting, But Not Explosive’: Lava Flows From Philippine Volcano; Thousands Flee
    Posted September 17, 2014 at 3:38 am by Oliver Darcy

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    Story by the Associated Press; curated by Oliver Darcy.

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippines’ most active volcano has sent more huge lava fragments rolling down its slopes in an ongoing gentle eruption that has prompted authorities to evacuate thousands of villagers, officials said Wednesday.

    The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology has warned that a “hazardous eruption” of Mount Mayon, located in the eastern Philippines, is possible within weeks.

    Lava flows from the crater of Mayon volcano seen from Legazpi City, Albay province, southeast of Manila on September 17, 2014. Lava continued to cascade down the Philippines most active volcano on September 17 as authorities rushed to evacuate thousands ahead of a possible deadly eruption. (Charism Sayat/AFP/Getty Images)

    Increased restiveness was recorded overnight, including 270 incidents of lava fragments and super-hot boulders rolling down from Mayon’s crater — nearly four times the number recorded the previous day. Some reached the upper portion of a gully on the volcano’s southeastern side, indicating that the lava dome has breached that side of the crater. The number of low-frequency volcanic earthquakes also increased.

    Molten lava has accumulated at the top of the 2,460-meter (8,070-foot) volcano’s crater, creating a glow in the night sky that sparked both awe and fear among spectators.

    “It’s already erupting, but not explosive,” said Renato Solidum, who heads the government’s volcano monitoring agency. “Currently, the activity is just lava coming down. If there is an explosion, all sides of the volcano are threatened.”

    “It’s already erupting, but not explosive.”

    Volcanologist Ed Laguerta said he saw huge glowing lava fragments and super-hot boulders rolling down from Mayon’s crater late Tuesday from as far as 12 kilometers (7 miles) away.

    “They are big because they can be seen from afar, and they splinter, so they could be car-sized,” he added.

    Mount Mayon, a popular tourist site known for its near-perfect cone, lies in coconut-producing Albay province, about 340 kilometers (210 miles) southeast of Manila.

    The provincial disaster operations center reported Wednesday that nearly 24,000 people from villages within an 8-kilometer (5-mile) radius from the crater had been evacuated.

    Mayor Herbie Aguas said his farming town of Santo Domingo, among the closest to the volcano, has a frightening legacy from Mayon. The volcano nearly wiped out the municipality’s entire population in an 1897 eruption with pyroclastic flows — superheated gas and volcanic debris that race down the slopes at high speeds, vaporizing everything in their path.

    Mayon volcano spews white smoke as seen from Legaspi City, Albay province, southeast of Manila on September 16, 2014. (Charism Sayat/AFP/Getty Images)

    “We are praying that it would not be the worst-case scenario,” Aguas said, adding that nearly 4,000 of the 40,000 residents in his town who live within a government-declared danger zone had started to evacuate to safer areas.

    “We are praying that it would not be the worst-case scenario.”

    The volcano has erupted 50 times in the last 500 years, sometimes violently, endangering thousands of poor villagers who insist on living or farming in the danger zone.

    Villagers living near the volcano have erected huge white crosses at the entrance of their neighborhoods, hoping they will protect them from harm.

    On May 7, 2013, the volcano suddenly spewed ash, killing five climbers, including three Germans, who had ventured near the summit despite warnings of possible danger.

  • Vikings: Adrian Peterson Must ‘Remain Away From All Team Activities’ Until Legal Issues Are Resolved
    Posted September 17, 2014 at 2:42 am by Oliver Darcy

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    Story by the Associated Press; curated by Oliver Darcy.

    MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Vikings have placed star running back Adrian Peterson on the exempt/commissioner’s permission list, a move that will require him to stay away from the team while he addresses child abuse charges.

    The Vikings made the announcement early Wednesday morning after initially deciding that Peterson could play with the team while the legal process played out. Peterson is charged with a felony for using a wooden switch to spank his 4-year-old son.

    The Vikings came under heavy criticism for their initial stance. And several sponsors responded by either suspending their deals with the Vikings or severing ties with Peterson.

    Owners Zygi and Mark Wilf say they have reconsidered their position after further reflection.

  • Man Was Calmly Riding His Bike Down a Buenos Aires Street — Then Things Took a Sudden, Startling Turn
    Posted September 17, 2014 at 2:02 am by Oliver Darcy

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    Video posted online Tuesday appears to show an attempted robbery take place as a man was riding a bicycle down a Buenos Aires street.

    Alexander Hennessy, who posted the footage to popular YouTube channel Global Degree, said he was riding down an Argentina road in broad daylight when a thief attempted a robbery at gunpoint.

    “I miraculously happened to be recording with a GoPro…”

    “I miraculously happened to be recording with a GoPro on my forehead and captured this amazing piece of footage!!” Hennessy wrote on YouTube.

    The video shows Hennessy riding his bike when he is approached by another man on a motorcycle who points his gun at him and demands his backpack.

    A man captured footage appearing to show him being robbed at gunpoint in Argentina. (Image source: YouTube screen grab)

    A man captured footage appearing to show him being robbed at gunpoint in Argentina. (Image source: YouTube screen grab)

    A man captured footage appearing to show him being robbed at gunpoint in Argentina. (Image source: YouTube screen grab)

    A man captured footage appearing to show him being robbed at gunpoint in Argentina. (Image source: YouTube screen grab)

    Hennessy repeatedly backs away from him before making a run for it. At the conclusion of the video, he reunites with his group and summons the help of an officer.

    According to a post on Global Degree’s Facebook page, the “jaw-dropping” footage was later given to police and the would-be robber was “arrested later that day.”

    Follow Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) on Twitter

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