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  • The Sneaky Way the Obamacare Website Is Underquoting Insurance Rates (and It Was a Mainstream Media Outlet That Caught It)
    Posted October 23, 2013 at 1:56 pm by Erica Ritz

    Comments (131)

    CBS News on Wednesday published a scathing report on a “serious pricing problem” with HealthCare.gov that they say actually roots from the much-touted improvements to the beleaguered website.

    “The administration announced it would provide a new ‘shop and browse’ feature Sunday, but it’s not giving consumers the real picture,” CBS’ Jan Crawford said Wednesday morning. “In some cases, people could end up paying nearly double of what they see on the website…”

    CBS News Blasts Obamacare Improvements That Lead to Incredibly Misleading Price Quotes

    CBS News

    The associated CBS article explains the issue:

    Industry analysts, such as Jonathan Wu, point to how the website lumps people only into two broad categories: “49 or under” and “50 or older.”

    Wu said it’s “incredibly misleading for people that are trying to get a sense of what they’re paying.”

    Prices for everyone in the 49-or-under group are based on what a 27-year-old would pay. In the 50-or-older group, prices are based on what a 50-year-old would pay.

    CBS News ran the numbers for a 48-year-old in Charlotte, N.C., ineligible for subsidies. According to HealthCare.gov, she would pay $231 a month, but the actual plan on Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina’s website costs $360, more than 50 percent higher. The difference: Blue Cross and Blue Shield requests your birthday before providing more accurate estimates.

    The numbers for older Americans are even more striking. A 62-year-old in Charlotte looking for the same basic plan would get a price estimate on the government website of $394. The actual price is $634. [Emphasis added]

    Just to make sure you understood that, the “improvement” asks whether you are younger than 49 or older than 50 – not your actual birthday. If you press the former, it assumes you are 27-years-old and gives you the corresponding prices, and if you press the latter, it gives you the prices for a 50-year-old.  Most people in each category will actually be older, however, and their actual prices will be much higher than what they were quoted.

    “Industry executives CBS News spoke with literally could not believe the government is providing these estimates, which they said were useless and could easily mislead consumers,” Crawford said.

    “They also say that the website repeatedly states the actual prices could be lower – but it makes no mention that they could be higher,” she added.

    Watch the complete report below, via CBS News:

    Crawford presented the findings Wednesday on “CBS This Morning.” NewsBusters notes that this isn’t the first time she has spotlighted the shortcomings of President Barack Obama’s signature legislation.

    She has already called the website a “complete disaster,” and the Obamacare rollout a “complete failure.” On Friday, Crawford focused on the widely-acknowledged privacy risks surrounding the system, but adding that “the glitches have, in fact, made the website unusable for most.”

    You can read the complete CBS report here.

    Other Must-Read Stories:

  • Detroit Is No. 1 in Crime Again — and This Perfectly-Timed Story Illustrates Why
    Posted October 23, 2013 at 1:42 pm by Liz Klimas

    Comments (93)

    If there’s one thing to highlight Detroit’s sky-high level of crime, which was just listed as the worst in the country, it’s a story from the city’s own police chief, who says he was nearly carjacked this month — in his police cruiser.

    James Craig

    James Craig, formerly Cincinnati police chief, took a new post as head of the Detroit Police Department in July. (AP/Al Behrman)

    MLive recalled that Detroit Police Chief James Craig said in July that he was surprised to learn that good drivers in Detroit had been blatantly running red lights.

    He added, “I don’t know if they just have total disregard for traffic laws or they’re afraid of being carjacked.”

    But fast-forward a few months to the moment when Craig experienced such a harrowing moment himself.

    Craig spoke of the incident, which occurred two weeks ago, at an anti-carjacking meeting Monday, according to the Detroit News.

    “There are certain cars each suspect tends to (be attracted) to, and I guess they liked my police car — a police car with lights,” Craig said. “And one suspect jumped out and began running toward the passenger side of my vehicle … as soon as I saw the suspect running to my car, I accelerated out of harm’s way,” Craig said, according to the Detroit News.

    “And then, candidly, I got angry … I said, ‘I can’t believe this just almost happened,’” he continued, sharing his feelings about the incident.

    Craig said when he first took this position in July, coming from Cincinnati, he learned how carjacking was “almost a way of life in Detroit.”

    Technology making cars more difficult to steal might be increasing carjacking incidents, according to Terri Miller, executive director of Help Eliminate Auto Thefts.

    The meeting included other statistics about carjacking in the city. Here are a few:

    • There’s an 85 percent chance that carjackers aiming a gun will shoot.
    • Carjackers assess a potential victim and decide whether or not to strike within seven seconds.
    • Most carjackings occur in December. Friday, Saturday and Sunday are the most popular days for theft.
    • There have been approximately 582 carjackings in Detroit in 2013..

    Forbes listed Detroit as the most dangerous city in the U.S., according to FBI statistics it analyzed. This is the fifth year Detroit topped the list, but, believe it or not, crime actually went down.

    To avoid a carjacking situation and still follow traffic laws, law enforcement at the meeting recommended drivers remain inside their cars if they are uncomfortable after being bumped, a common tactic of carjackers.

    It is also recommended people leave enough of a gap to avoid being boxed in and stuck at a red light or at train tracks.

    Another tip was to have a vehicle identification number engraved onto the car’s windshield. The Detroit News reported that Detective Brian Fountain said it would not only help police identify a stolen vehicle, but could dissuade someone from stealing it as retailers won’t buy cars with such a number.

  • ‘The Enigmatic Mona Lisa of Health Care’: The Mystery Behind the Smiling Obamacare Website Girl
    Posted October 23, 2013 at 1:24 pm by Becket Adams

    Comments (38)

    The Obamacare website has been a glitchy, error-riddled mess since it first launched on Oct. 1.

    And while experiences with the site have varied for many users, there has been one constant: the smiling woman prominently featured on HealthCare.gov’s main page.

    The Enigmatic Mona Lisa of Health Care: The Mystery Behind the Smiling Obamacare Girl

    Image source: Healthcare.gov

    Considering that the site’s main page seems to be the only thing that works, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the woman in the stock photo has become something of a mystery and a celebrity.

    She has also become the object of much ridicule. The satirical website The Onion, for instance, published a story Tuesday titled, “People In Healthcare.gov Stock Photos Now Visibly Panicking”:

    The Enigmatic Mona Lisa of Health Care: The Mystery Behind the Smiling Obamacare Girl

    Image source: The Onion

    Conservative blogger David Burge tweeted: “Congrats, vapidly smiling Healthcare.gov splash page stock photo girl! You’re now the most despised face on planet Earth.”

    Who is she? What’s the story behind the Obamacare woman? CNN looked into these questions – and came up empty-handed.

    “The company responsible for building much of the [HealthCare.gov] website didn’t call…back,” when the network called to ask about the woman featured on the front page, CNN’s Jeanne Moos reported Monday, “nor did Health and Human Services.”

    “A small company that originally worked on the homepage told [CNN] she was originally part of the mockup from the design folks,” Moos said. “We checked stock photo files, but couldn’t find her.”

    And until administration officials figure out a way to fix the site’s many issues, the woman featured on the front page, the “enigmatic Mona Lisa of health care” as CNN puts it, will continue to “get the cold shoulder.”

    Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter

  • ‘Someone Broke Into Their House’: AR-15 Stolen From GOP Congresswoman’s Home
    Posted October 23, 2013 at 1:09 pm by Oliver Darcy

    Comments (121)

    An AR-15 rifle that had been left unsecured was stolen from Rep. Renee Ellmers’ garage in her North Carolina home last week, a spokesman for the congresswoman confirmed to TheBlaze Wednesday.

    Someone Broke Into Their House: AR 15 Stolen From Congresswomans Home

    Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) said an AR-15 was stolen from her home last week. (Image source: Office of Rep. Renee Ellmers)

    “Someone broke into their house and stole their property,” Ellmers communications director Tom Doheny said. “As a wife and a mother, Congresswoman Ellmers is very upset and extremely concerned that the rifle was left unsecured.”

    According to a police report filed last Wednesday, the firearm was last seen the day before it was reported stolen leaning against a gun safe in the garage, Politico reported. It is unclear whether the rifle was loaded.

    Doheny stressed that Ellmers is “very big on gun safety” and “wants to get to the bottom of this herself.”

    “As you can imagine, the Ellmers family is shaken by these events and is working with law enforcement to make sure those responsible are found and brought to justice,” he said. “I also want to emphasize that the Ellmers family has been the victim of a crime.”

    Follow Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) on Twitter

  • 5 of the Most Interesting Parts From the New Book That Reveals Obama’s Personal Christian Devotions
    Posted October 23, 2013 at 12:52 pm by Billy Hallowell

    Comments (146)

    Joshua DuBois, President Barack Obama’s friend, confidant and the former head of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, has consulted with the president for years on matters of faith and religion. This week, he released “The President’s Devotional,” a book of daily scripture, quotes and meditations he has sent to Obama every morning for the past five years.

    Like most devotional books, there’s an entry for readers to consume each day that focuses on a specific theme. From loving one’s enemies to remembering the importance of Jesus Christ, each selection, while brief, provides a pointed lesson for readers (the selections begin Jan. 1 and end Dec. 31, encouraging readers to very literally work their way through the text over the course of a year).

    The Presidents Devotional: Joshua DuBois New Book Reveals Obamas Christian Meditations

    Credit: Harper Collins

    DuBois, a former Pentecostal minister who was once dubbed Obama’s “pastor-in-chief,” also provides short personal stories before each new month of devotionals is presented in the book.

    There’s no hiding the Christian themes present throughout the book. In a Feb. 12 entry, DuBois writes about the “gift” of God’s son “whose sacrifice was a perfect payment for our sins.” These references to Jesus are prevalent throughout the text.

    We’ve picked out five of the most intriguing meditations. While there were 365 published options to choose from, Religion News Service reported that over the years, DuBois has actually sent Obama more than 1,500 selections.

    Here are five TheBlaze is highlighting:

    1) The entry for Jan. 5 titled, “He Sees in Secret,” tells readers that God knows everything, not only what people speak or act out openly. This particular entry was sent from DuBois to Obama in an effort to encourage the president to allow God to guide his path.

    “‘He sees in secret just as well.’ Into our past, our furthest pasts, the moments that shaped our character and sentiments and belief,” the entry reads. “Into our present, our secret joys and hidden shames, the hopes that we cannot yet articulate, the worrisome pains we seek at all cost to avoid. Into our future: what is possible, what we’re capable of, if only we stretch.”

    2) Politics can be a dirty and contentious sport, which is likely why DuBois regularly sent Obama verses and quotes that teach Christians how they should treat opponents. In a post for Jan. 14 titled, “Fire a Blessing,” Matthew 5:43-45 is included — a set of verses that encourages believers to love their enemies.

    “Grace toward one another is our weapon. Time after time, battle after battle, we respond with is,” DuBois wrote. “The enemy will win some rounds, but when we respond with God’s grace, we have already won the war.”

    3) On Feb. 12, DuBois highlighted the power that resides in each individual human being. Considering the difficult positions that presidents often find themselves in, the message embedded inside the devotion is intriguing, particularly when considering military action, abortion, the death penalty and other life or death scenarios that politicians often comment on.

    “We carry within us great authority to bring life and death into this world,” the selection reads. “Today, rather than falling into the temptations and traps of Adam, let’s model ourselves on our Savior and use our power to bring healing and life.”

    4) In addition to loving one’s neighbors and being thoughtful about issues pertaining to life, DuBois sent Obama a devotion about choosing one’s words wisely, titled, “When to Speak.”

    “We should be careful to be judicious with our words,” it reads. “Our tongues have great power and are best used when they’re truly needed. Until then, let’s cultivate a listening spirit.”

    5) On June 27, an entry called “Famous” deals with personal perception and maintaining a healthy view of the self. The text warns against thinking too highly of oneself and cites Romans 12:3, a verse that instructs readers to, “Think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”

    The invocation at the end also encourages readers to pray, “God, I don’t want to be famous; I want you to be famous.”

    ♦ ♦ ♦

    The Presidents Devotional: Joshua DuBois New Book Reveals Obamas Christian Meditations

    AP

    But one of the most intriguing portions of the book comes not from a particular devotion, but from one of DuBois’ personal stories. In it, he shared his feelings surrounding the Rev. Jeremiah Wright controversy — a firestorm he worried would derail Obama’s presidential hopes in 2008.

    DuBois said that as then-candidate Obama’s “faith guy,” he worried that a potential Obama loss would be on DuBois’ shoulders. He wrote:

    “I had a short but intense history with Reverend Wright. Starting from the beginning of the campaign, I spent time in his private study and his church, getting to know him and his family. I new he was very progressive, fiery even, with a heart for mentoring black pastors around the country. But I had no idea that he had spoken the specific statements from that famous video, and I knew that Senator Obama was not aware of those remarks either.”

    It has of course been long debated whether Obama knew about Wright’s rhetoric prior to the campaign.

    DuBois went on to describe how the scandal was handled, noting the pressure he was under in the wake of Wright-inspired media coverage to draft a statement that would explain the complicated scenario to the American public.

    After two aides joined DuBois in writing up an explanation — one he admitted was initially crafted in an effort to gloss over the situation (he said it “didn’t tell the whole truth, but it didn’t lie”), Obama apparently read it and decided to re-write it himself, telling his aides that he’d rather tell the truth than spin the issue.

    “The bottom line is, my pastor said some things I disagree with. I was a very busy man over the last few years, and I was not in church nearly as much as I should have been. I didn’t hear him say those things, but that doesn’t take away from what he said,” DuBois recalls the president saying.

    This particular portion of the devotional is noteworthy, considering the pervasiveness of the controversy. While it’s only one perspective surrounding the president’s former relationship with Wright, it’s a fascinating lens into a key moment of the 2008 campaign.

  • Boston Mayor’s Embarrassing Sports Gaffe Ahead of World Series Start
    Posted October 23, 2013 at 12:23 pm by Becket Adams

    Comments (33)

    Longtime Boston Mayor Thomas Menino told reporters Tuesday that he hopes the Boston Red Sox win “the World Series cup.”

    Trouble is, there’s no such thing as a “World Series cup.” There is, however, the Commissioner’s Trophy, which will be awarded to the victor of this year’s match-up between the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals.

    Bostons Dem. Mayor Makes Embarrassing Sports Gaffe Ahead of World Series Matchup Between Red Sox and Cardinals

    Boston Mayor Thomas Menino (center) throws out the first pitch during 100 Years of Fenway Park on April 20, 2012 in Boston (Getty Images)

    Menino, currently serving his fifth and final term as mayor, has a history of making sports-related gaffes in a city that takes extreme pride its teams, Sports Illustrated noted.

    Over the winter, he had a hard time remembering the names of some of the more famous members of the New England Patriots.

    “We have Tom Brady here, we have Tom Brady here, we have Tom Brady here. He’s been our point person all season long,” he said. “And Stevan Ridley, he’s been another great guy. And Wilcock.”

    Menino was presumably trying to remember the name of defensive lineman Vince Wilfork. He also mistakenly referred to Wes Welker as “Weckler.” He has also called Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski “Gonk” and “Grabowski.”

    And the mayor’s sporting missteps also include the Boston Celtics.

    “There’s a lot of heart in this team, let me just tell you,” Menino said earlier this year, adding, “KJ is great but Hondo is really the inspiration. Hondo drives that team.”

    KJ? Perhaps he meant “KG” and was referring to Kevin Garnett. Also, the mayor was probably referring to current player Rajon Rondo and not Celtics legend John Havlicek who went by “Hondo.”

    But seeing as how he’s not running for a sixth term, it looks like the “World Series cup” sports gaffe could be Menino’s final as the city’s mayor.

    The Red Sox and Cardinals meet for the first time at Boston’s Fenway Park Wednesday night.

    Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter

  • Rumor Check: Has Saudi Arabia Really Severed Ties with the U.S.?
    Posted October 23, 2013 at 11:56 am by Dave Urbanski

    Comments (106)

    A recent Daily Mail piece notes, “Saudi Arabia severs diplomatic ties with US over response to conflict in Syria.”

    But while relations appear strained, it looks as though diplomatic ties haven’t been severed just yet.

    Rumor Check: Has Saudi Arabia Really Severed Ties with the U.S.?

    Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz (Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

    According to a Reuters article, ”Saudi Arabia warns of shift away from U.S. over Syria, Iran,” which the Daily Mail bases its headline on. Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief says the longtime U.S. ally will initiate a “major shift” in relations with the U.S. in protest of perceived inaction regarding Syria’s civil war and recent U.S. discussions with Iran, according to a source close to Saudi policy.

    More from Reuters:

    The growing breach between the United States and Saudi Arabia was also on display in Washington, where another senior Saudi prince criticized Obama’s Middle East policies, accusing him of “dithering” on Syria and Israeli-Palestinian peace.

    In unusually blunt public remarks, Prince Turki al-Faisal called Obama’s policies in Syria “lamentable” and ridiculed a U.S.-Russian deal to eliminate Assad’s chemical weapons. He suggested it was a ruse to let Obama avoid military action in Syria.

    “The current charade of international control over Bashar’s chemical arsenal would be funny if it were not so blatantly perfidious,” said Prince Turki, a member of the Saudi royal family and former director of Saudi intelligence, Reuters notes. “And designed not only to give Mr. Obama an opportunity to back down [from military strikes], but also to help Assad to butcher his people.”

    In an unprecedented move last week, Saudi Arabia rejected its first offer of a UN Security Council seat and denounced the UN for failing to resolve world conflicts. The move — appeared largely directed at its longtime ally, the United States — came just hours after the kingdom was elected as one of the Council’s 10 nonpermanent members, the Associated Press reports.

    According to the official Saudi press agency, the Saudi Foreign Ministry says the Security Council’s failures enabled Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime to perpetrate the killings of its people, including with chemical weapons, without facing any deterrents or punishment, the AP adds.

    The Ministry also says the Council has not been able to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict over the past decades and has failed to transform the Middle East into a zone free of weapons of mass destruction, the AP says.

    The Obama administration says its cooperation with Saudi Arabia will continue despite the kingdom’s rejection of a coveted seat on the U.N. Security Council, the AP reports, adding that White House spokesman Jay Carney says Saudi Arabia’s decision was its own. He says the two countries disagree on some issues but that the working relationship with Saudi Arabia will continue, including on such issues as Syria, Iran and the Middle East peace process.

    Here’s a clip from the AFP regarding strained U.S.-Saudi relations:

    So the final word? While ties are strained, they are not quite severed.

  • Blaze Sources: Obama Purging Military Commanders
    Posted October 23, 2013 at 11:41 am by Sara Carter

    Comments (601)

    Nine senior commanding generals have been fired by the Obama administration this year, leading to speculation by active and retired members of the military that a purge of its commanders is underway.

    Retired generals and current senior commanders that have spoken with TheBlaze say the administration is not only purging the military of commanders they don’t agree with, but is striking fear in the hearts of those still serving.

    The timing comes as the five branches of the U.S. armed forces are reducing staff due to budget cuts, and as U.S. troops are expected to withdraw from Afghanistan next year.

    “I think they’re using the opportunity of the shrinkage of the military to get rid of people that don’t agree with them or not tow the party line. Remember, as (former White House chief of staff) Rahm Emanuel said, never waste a crisis,” a senior retired general told TheBlaze on the condition of anonymity because he still provide services to the government and fears possible retribution.

    “Even as a retired general, it’s still possible for the administration to make life miserable for us. If we’re working with the government or have contracts, they can just rip that out from under us,” he said.

    Retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely, an outspoken critic of the Obama administration, said the White House fails to take action or investigate its own, but finds it easy to fire military commanders “who have given their lives for their country.”

    “Obama will not purge a civilian or political appointee because they have bought into Obama’s ideology,” Vallely said. “The White House protects their own. That’s why they stalled on the investigation into fast and furious, Benghazi and Obamacare. He’s intentionally weakening and gutting our military, Pentagon and reducing us as a superpower, and anyone in the ranks who disagrees or speaks out is being purged.”

    A Pentagon official who asked to remain nameless because they were not authorized to speak on the matter said even “young officers, down through the ranks have been told not to talk about Obama or the politics of the White House. They are purging everyone and if you want to keep your job — just keep your mouth shut.

    The Nine Military Commanders Fired This Year by the Obama Administration

    Blaze Sources: Obama Purging Military CommandersGen. Carter Ham, Army

    Served as head of the United States African Command during the bloodshed in Benghazi, Libya when four American citizens, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens and two retired Navy Seals, were murdered by militants on Sept. 11, 2012. Senior military officials told TheBlaze Hamm was extremely critical of the Obama administration, including when reinforcements were not sent to help the U.S. citizens under attack in Benghazi. Hamm “resigned and retired” in April 2013.

    Blaze Sources: Obama Purging Military CommandersRear Adm. Charles Gaouette, Navy

    Commander of Carrier Strike Group Three. He recently served as deputy commander of the U.S. Naval Forces, U.S. Central Command. He was in charge of Air Craft Carriers in the Mediterranean Sea the night of the Benghazi assault on Sept. 11, 2012. Under testimony, he told Congress there may not have been time to get the flight crews to Benghazi, but left the door open when he told Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) under cross-examination that he could have launched aircraft to the destination. He was later accused of using profanity in a public setting and making at least two racially insensitive comments. While he was cleared of any criminal violations under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, he still faced administrative penalties that have ended his career.

    Blaze Sources: Obama Purging Military CommandersMaj. Gen. Ralph Baker, Army

    Major General Baker served as commander of the Joint Task Force-Horn at Camp Lamar in Djibouti, Africa. According to several military officials who spoke to TheBlaze, he was also involved in some aspect with the Benghazi incident Sept. 11, 2012. He was relieved of command and fired for allegedly groping a civilian, but no assault charges or sexual misconduct charges were filed with military JAG officials.

    Blaze Sources: Obama Purging Military CommandersBrigadier Gen. Bryan Roberts, Army

    General Roberts took command of Fort Jackson in 2011. He was considered a rising star in his field and served in Iraq during his service as the commanding officer of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team. He was the deputy commanding general of the United States Army Recruiting Command at Fort Knox, Ky. He was relieved of duty and fired for adultery — still on the books in the United States Code of Military Justice but rarely since President Bill Clinton’s indiscretions.

    Blaze Sources: Obama Purging Military CommandersMaj. Gen. Gregg A. Sturdevant, Marine Corps

    Director of Strategic Planning and Policy for the U.S. Pacific Command and commander of the aviation wing at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan. He was a highly-decorated Marine with two Naval and Marine Commendations, two Naval and Marine Good Conduct medals, as well as the Air Medal with a gold star. He was one of two commanding officers suddenly relieved of command and fired from the military for failure to use proper force protection at the camp after 15 Taliban fighters attacked Camp Bastion on Sept. 14, 2012, resulting in the deaths of Lt. Col. Christopher K. Raible, 40, and Sgt. Bradley W. Atwell, 27.

    Blaze Sources: Obama Purging Military CommandersMaj. Gen. Charles M.M. Gurganus, Marine Corps

    Regional commander in the Southwest and I Marine Expeditionary Force in Afghanistan. Highly decorated with a Defense Superior Service Medal, two Legion of Merit with Valor, and three Meritorious Service Commendations. According to several military officials, Gurganus questioned having to use Afghan security patrols alongside American patrols after two officers were executed at their desk and a platoon was lead into an ambush on the front lines.

    Blaze Sources: Obama Purging Military CommandersLt. Gen. David Holmes Huntoon Jr, Army

    Served as the 58th Superintendent of the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. He graduated from the same academy in 1973 and had served in Senior Planning and Education Services through the majority of his career. He was “censored” for “an investigation” into an “improper relationship” according to the Department of Defense. Nothing was released to the nature of the improper relationship. Nothing was even mentioned if an actual investigation even took place.

    Blaze Sources: Obama Purging Military CommandersVice Adm. Tim Giardina, Navy

    Deputy Commander of the United States Strategic Command. He was commander of the Submarine Group Trident, Submarine Group 9 and Submarine Group 10, where every single one of the 18 Nuclear Submarines with Nuclear Trident Missiles of those three groups were in his command. This commander earned six Legions of Merit, Two Meritorious Service Medals, two Joint Service Commendation Medals, and several other medals and ribbons. He is under criminal investigation for the alleged use of counterfeit gambling chips, while playing a poker game at a western Iowa casino.

    Blaze Sources: Obama Purging Military CommandersMajor Gen. Michael Carey, Air Force

    Commander 20th Air Force in charge of 9,600 people and 450 Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles at three operational wings and served in both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Carry was fired October 11, 2013, for “personal misbehavior,” according to ABC News. Pentagon and Air Force senior officials have remained relatively tight-lipped about Carry’s firing.

    UPDATE:

    Author Sara Carter joined Andrew Wilkow  to discuss this story on TheBlaze TV this week. Watch their conversation below:

  • This May Look Like a Simple Middle School Football Photo — But It’s Really About Everything Good in America
    Posted October 23, 2013 at 11:31 am by Oliver Darcy

    Comments (54)

    Zachary Hamilton’s doctors said the teenager’s Autism would prevent him from ever playing a sport — the 13-year-old proved them wrong last Thursday.

    In the Hamilton Wildcats’ final game of the season, the undefeated West Virginia middle school team offered Zachary an opportunity to score his first-ever touchdown. After some determination and some sportsmanship by the other team, the young man took advantage.

    Now the picture, showing him kneeling down in the end zone moments after the play, is going viral on Facebook, after his mother shared the photo on talk show host Ellen DeGenderes’ page.

    “In light of all the bad news circulating around about teachers abusing special needs kids and teens and bullying going around in schools i wanted to share my story of hope and inclusion,” Tonya Moyer wrote in the post.

    Photo Shows Autistic Student Moments After Scoring First Ever Touchdown

    Zachary’s story is going viral on Facebook after his mother shared it on Ellen DeGeneres’ page. (Image Source: Facebook)

    “My 13 year old Autistic son Zachary has played football since he was 8 with almost the same group of boys , he has never been a great player but has always made up for it in excitement ,never give up attitude ,and determination to do everything all the other boys are doing,” she continued.

    “On thursday Oct 17 of last week it was there last game of the season … [in] amazement and shock set in as I saw him handed the ball and then he began running for a touchdown with his teamates closely gaurding him , he scored a touchdown , his first ever , and I could see the huge smile on his face even in the stands,” the proud mother said in her post.

    Moyer told TheBlaze on Tuesday just how the gesture has affected her son.

    “Zachary has not stopped talking about that since it happened,” she said. “He has been the happiest kid in the world. He sleeps with the ball every night and takes it to school every day in his backpack.”

    Rob Davis, who has been coaching for 14 years, said Zachary enthusiastically comes to every practice and he wanted to give him the opportunity to run into the end zone.

    “He always stays on defense but I said, ‘What would be really cool is if he scored a touchdown,’” Davis told TheBlaze Wednesday. “‘If we could get him in a game and get him a touchdown, I’m sure it would make his day.’”

    Davis explained that he prepped Zachary by practicing with him on the sideline, passing him the ball and having him run forward.

    “We tried to get him in the end zone right before half time but it didn’t work,” he said.

    “The coach from the other team came over and said, ‘Are you guys trying to get him to score a touchdown?’ I said, ‘yeah’ and he said ‘let us try to help you out a little bit,’” Davis said. “He said, ‘I’ll have my guys back off a bit.’”

    Photo Shows Autistic Student Moments After Scoring First Ever Touchdown

    Coach Davis presents Zachary the game ball after the 13-year-old Autistic student scored his first-ever touchdown. (Image Source: Tonya Moyer)

    “It took us two to three tries, but finally Zach got going and got the idea down and scored a touchdown,” the coach said. “His parents had no idea. We didn’t really share it with anyone because we wanted it to be as close to normal as we could make it.”

    “He was really happy,” Davis added. “He went around and hugged every kid and I mean he is extremely strong. When he got to school the next day he had the football with him. He has had the football with him every day since.”

    Moyer said words cannot express how thankful she was that the team gave her that moment.

    “The fact that they went through so much trouble to make my son have that moment … it is just so humbling,” she told TheBlaze, on the verge of tears. ”I just couldn’t express my thankfulness enough that they gave that honor to them. Never in a million years did I expect anything like that.”

    Moyer said Zachary continues to defy odds and surprise her.

    “He just never gives up,” she said. “The doctor told me that he could never play a sport. Never catch a ball.”

    “The fact that he has come so far … he’s my hero.”

    Follow Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) on Twitter

  • The 7 Republican Senators ‘Most Vulnerable to a Primary’
    Posted October 23, 2013 at 11:29 am by Oliver Darcy

    Comments (0)

    On Tuesday, prominent D.C. newspaper Roll Call published an online list of seven U.S. senators they say are “most vulnerable to a primary.”

    According to the publication, “Hard-line conservatives are rising out of the ashes of a weekslong government shutdown, emboldened by the possibility of adding to their ranks in the Senate next year — whether by picking up Democrat-held seats or taking out Republican incumbents.”

    “Conservative third-party groups and candidates hope to give more backup to folks like Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah, who led an effort to defund the health care law,” Roll Call added.

    These Are the 7 Republican Senators RollCall Says Are Most Vulnerable to a Primary

    U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), arrives at the Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on October 16, 2013. (JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

    Here is Roll Call’s complete list:

    1. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)
    2. Sen. Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.)
    3. Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.)
    4. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)
    5. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.)
    6. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.)
    7. Sen. John Coryn (R-Texas)

    The newspaper said Minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Sen. Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) are most vulnerable to a competitive challenger in 2016.

    According to Roll Call, “McConnell’s decision to strike a deal with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to reopen the federal government and avoid default invited immediate disparagement from his primary opponent and conservative groups.”

    The publication adds, “Liz Cheney, a former State Department official and daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, is not exactly a tea partyer. But she’s taking on Enzi from the right, and her candidacy represents the most dangerous primary challenge to a Republican incumbent this year.”

    Other Republicans vulnerable to a challenge include Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Sen. John Coryn (R-Texas).

    Follow Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) on Twitter

  • Family Gets Huge Surprise When They Open Their Father’s Casket
    Posted October 23, 2013 at 11:15 am by Liz Klimas

    Comments (78)

    Imagine a family’s surprise and horror when they saw a stranger’s face after opening their loved one’s casket for a final goodbye before burial.

    That’s exactly what happened to a family in Chehalis, Wash., earlier this week.

    jerry moon and his wife

    The deceased Jerry Moon, pictured with his wife, was cremated accidentally when his body was mixed up with another, likely at the funeral home. (Image source: KIRO video screenshot)

    KIRO-TV says family members of the deceased Jerry Moon were shocked at what they saw Monday afternoon.

    Brian Moon, the man’s son, was at first upset that a bag had been wrapped around his dad’s head.

    It was Brian’s brother who noticed it wasn’t their father.

    “I turned around and said to myself three times, ‘That’s not him, that’s not him, that’s not him,” Randy Moon, told the local news outlet.

    It turns out Jerry Moon, a man who feared being cremated, was confused with another body. Moon was cremated and the other man, not publicly identified, was placed in his clothes and casket.

    The hospice home where Moon died said the funeral home likely made the mistake, according to KIRO.

    “This makes me feel like he was treated as a number, not a person,” daughter Cheryl Moon told KIRO.

    Still, the family seems to be trying to keep a level perspective on the mixup.

    “The only other thing I can say is we know where he really is,” Randy Moon said, according to KIRO. “We’re a believing family, and we believe he is in heaven.”

    Watch KIRO’s report about the incident:

    KING-TV reported the Washington Department of Licensing launched an investigation to figure out where the mixup occurred.

    “If whoever’s responsible doesn’t feel the repercussions, then maybe this will happen to someone else again.  I can tell you it permanently put a dent in me,” Brian Moon told KING.

    Featured image via Shutterstock.com.

    (H/T: Daily Mail)

  • Did Obama Draw a ‘Road Map’ for the IRS to Target Tea Party Groups?
    Posted October 23, 2013 at 10:56 am by Fred Lucas

    Comments (79)

    President Barack Obama’s rhetoric toward conservative nonprofits inspired the Internal Revenue Service to target Tea Party groups, a broad lawsuit against the IRS alleges.

    “The president of the United States gave the IRS a road map to investigate the tea party in the United States,” David French, senior counsel to the conservative American Center for Law and Justice told TheBlaze.

    Tea Party Lawsuit Blames Obama Rhetoric for Instigating IRS Abuse

    President Barack Obama works the rope line following a speech at the Ford stamping plant in Liberty, Mo. , Friday, Sept. 20, 2013. (AP)

    The ACLJ is representing 41 Tea Party and patriot groups from 22 states, claiming the IRS committed unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination by blocking or delaying their applications for tax exempt status. The suit does not name Obama as a co-defendant, but includes him in the narrative of what led to the alleged abuses from the agency.

    The plaintiffs filed an amended complaint this week, and provided a timeline arguing that Obama, congressional Democrats and even the mainstream media (none of whom are named as co-defendants) helped pressure the IRS to take action violating the First Amendment rights of Tea Party groups. The timeline shows actual IRS action that followed rhetoric.

    “It’s difficult to imagine the president of the United States didn’t at least know about this prior to the emergence in the media in May 2013,” French said. “The IRS actions closely resemble the president’s public exhortations. He accused these citizens groups of taking foreign money. That’s just demagoguery.”

    The lawsuit gives several examples from 2010, the year the Tea Party caught fire and when the IRS’ extra scrutiny is said to have started.

    On Aug. 21, 2010, during his weekly address, Obama said, “This summer, they’re also seeing a flood of attack ads run by shadowy groups with harmless-sounding names. We don’t know who’s behind these ads and we don’t know who’s paying for them.”

    He continued, “You don’t know if it’s a foreign-controlled corporation. You don’t know if it’s BP. You don’t know if it’s a big insurance company or a Wall Street Bank. A group can hide behind a phony name like ‘Citizens for a Better Future,’ even if a more accurate name would be ‘Corporations for Weaker Oversight.’

    On Sept. 16, 2010 in Stamford, Conn., Obama warned of conservative nonprofits: “None of them will disclose who’s paying for these ads. You don’t know if it’s a Wall Street bank. You don’t know if it’s a big oil company. You don’t know if it’s an insurance company. You don’t even know if it’s a foreign-controlled entity.”

    A Sept. 21, 2010 story in the Huffington Post headlined, “Obama, Dems Try to Make Shadowy Conservative Groups a Problem for Conservatives” reported that senior administration officials “urged a small gathering of reporters to start writing on what he deemed the most insidious power grab that we have seen in a long time.”

    A day after that story was published, Obama spoke at a Democratic fundraising event in New York and warned about the groups again.

    “They pose as non-for-profit, social welfare and trade groups,” Obama told Democratic donors. “Every single one of them, virtually, is guided by seasoned, Republican political operatives.”

    French said the 41 groups will be seeking relief for monetary damages, as well as a punitive judgment from what he said was IRS abuse. The amount of compensation the groups are seeking will be determined later, he said.

    “These groups were unable to raise funds,” French said. “There were sizable grants they missed and multiple expenses mounted over multi-years of targeting. For 41 groups, there is a high degree of difficulty and compensation.”

    Further, he said many of these Tea Party groups were targeted in swing states, where the vote was suppressed for the 2012 election.

    “It’s unknowable what impact it had on the election,” French said. “To say it had no impact, of course it had an impact. We do know it suppressed turnout and was a grave constitutional violation.”

    The plaintiffs’ complaint states: “The White House, congressional Democrats and the liberal media increasingly criticized the IRS for allowing conservative groups to exercise their First Amendment rights as tax exempt organizations and demanding that for those groups, the IRS should adopt more rigorous standards than applied to, for example, the Barack H. Obama Foundation.”

    It continues, “IRS employees, including political employees to the IRS, eager to please their benefactors or kindred spirits forced plaintiffs applications into a Byzantine process, harassed them and systematically deprived them of their right to engage in constitutionally protected speech.”

  • TSA Now Researching You More Before You Even Fly
    Posted October 23, 2013 at 10:23 am by Liz Klimas

    Comments (80)

    The Transportation Security Administration is beginning an enhanced pre-flight screening program that includes using databases to check up on passengers well before they pass through security checkpoints, causing angst among privacy advocates according to The New York Times.

    TSA Adding Pre Screening Information to Its Database Check

    A passenger enters a new expedited security line for PreCheck passengers at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta in 2011. (AP/David Goldman)

    You already submit your name, gender and date of birth when booking a flight. This is cross-checked with terror watch and no-fly lists before you head to the airport for travel.

    The Times reported that the added measures to the TSA’s Secure Flight pre-screening will include passport number, if necessary, and other details, which will be compared with the Department of Homeland Security databases.

    Here’s more from the Times giving a few details about the expanding initiative (emphasis added):

    An agency official discussed some aspects of the initiative on the condition that she not be identified. She emphasized that the main goal of the program was to identify low-risk travelers for lighter screening at airport security checkpoints, adapting methods similar to those used to flag suspicious people entering the United States.

    Anyone who has never traveled outside the United States would not have a passport number on file and would therefore not be subject to the rules that the agency uses to determine risk, she said, although documents indicate that the agency is prescreening all passengers in some fashion.

    The official added that these rules consider things like an individual’s travel itinerary, length of stay abroad and type of travel document, like a passport. If an airline has a traveler’s passport number on file, it is required to share that information with the T.S.A., even for a domestic flight.

    The agency also receives a code indicating a passenger is a member of the airline’s frequent-flier program and has access to details about past travel reservations, known as passenger name records. This official could not confirm if that information was being used to assess a passenger’s risk.

    As a separate initiative, TSA is also trying to exempt TSA PreCheck passengers’ information from being subject to federal privacy laws.

    Earlier this month, the Electronic Privacy Information Center issued comments authored by its Executive Director Marc Rotenberg opposing DHS’ proposal to remove these rights.

    Those enrolled in PreCheck can be subject to lighter security screening at the airport, but are pre-screened by submitting information such as biometric data, birth place, Social Security numbers and other personal information.

    “Incredibly, DHS proposes to exempt this database containing detailed, sensitive personal information from well-established Privacy Act safeguards. It is inconceivable that the drafters of the Privacy Act would have permitted a federal agency to propose a profiling system on U.S. citizens and be granted broad exemptions from Privacy Act obligations,” the Electronic Privacy Information Center said, noting that the TSA wants to release the information to various governmental entities. “Consistent and broad application of Privacy Act obligations are the best means of ensuring accuracy and reliability of the data used in a system that profoundly affects millions of individuals as they travel throughout the United States on a daily basis.”

    “Accordingly, to the extent that DHS continues to collect biometric information, DHS should limit biometric information to only those agencies and government actors that require the information as a necessity,” it added later. “Further, DHS should strictly limit biometric information to uses for which it was originally collected.”

    The Times pointed out that the TSA’s PreCheck program acknowledged fingerprints could be shared with the FBI, which in turn could cross-check against an unsolved crimes database.

    “The average person doesn’t understand how much intelligence-driven matching is going on and how this could be accessed for other purposes,” Khaliah Barnes, Electronic Privacy Information Center’s legal counsel who coauthored the earlier comments with Rotenberg, told the Times. “There’s no meaningful oversight, transparency or accountability.”

    Edward Hasbrouck, who is working with Identity Project, which is also against this level of pre-screening, told the Times the initiatives are like “a pre-crime assessment every time you fly.”

    “The default will be the highest, most intrusive level of search, and anything less will be conditioned on providing some additional information in some fashion,” he said.

  • ‘Militant Atheist’ Accused of Savagely Beating Pastor Inside His Own Church After Sunday Service
    Posted October 23, 2013 at 10:14 am by Billy Hallowell

    Comments (143)

    An Ohio pastor says he was savagely beaten after Sunday’s church service by a man one local outlet called a “self-described militant atheist,” who left him with a broken nose, cuts, stitches and bruises.

    Rev. Normon Hayes of the Bridge Community Church in North Hampton, Ohio, says he feared for his life during the attack, which unfolded inside the house of worship. The 57-year-old preacher apparently drew the ire of James Maxie, 28, after asking the man’s girlfriend after the service if Maxie was abusing her, Dayton’s WHIO-TV reported.

    Militant Atheist James Maxie Savagely Beats Rev. Normon Hayes Inside His Own Church Following Sunday Service

    James Maxie (Image source: Clark County Jail)

    “I questioned his girlfriend in his presence if she felt safe,” Hayes told the station. “He was very, very upset that I’d even suggest that he would hurt her. Then he turned around and hurt me very badly.”

    Tensions had apparently already been building that morning. The pastor said that before the attack it seemed as though Maxie was looking for a fight.

    The Daily Mail reported Maxie made comments about Adolf Hitler before service began and “heckled” Hayes while he was at the pulpit. Exactly what was said about Hitler is not known.

    It is also unclear where the “militant atheist” label originated, though a Facebook profile that appears to belong to Maxie shows he has “liked” atheist fan pages and regularly posts images promoting a secular worldview.

    Maxie told police that he was merely trying to “regain” his faith in God and that he was simply asking questions about science and faith during the church service. He also accused Hayes of telling his girlfriend she was going to hell for dating Maxie.

    Regardless of who said what, the violent response was stunning.

    “He came from nowhere and hit me … and knocked me down, and then he got on top of me and just kept hitting me over and over,” the pastor told WHIO. ”It was fortunate he did stop. I really believe my life was in danger if he hadn’t stopped hitting me in the face over and over.”

    As a result of the assault — which North Hampton police Chief Jarrod Campbell called both rare and “brutal” — Maxie faces charges of second-degree felony assault and misdemeanor resisting arrest. He is being held on $51,000 bond and Hayes was granted an order of protection against him.

    Watch Hayes speak out about what happened:

    According to WHIO, Maxie has apparently been in legal trouble before. He reportedly served two years in prison for felonious assault and was charged with four counts of cruelty to animals in 2004. The outlet also claims Maxie is a convicted sex offender for having unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.

    (H/T: Daily Mail)

    Featured image via WHIO-TV

  • The Unlikely First Lady to Have a Pistol License and Why She Decided to Carry
    Posted October 23, 2013 at 9:19 am by Liz Klimas

    Comments (97)

    Franklin D. Roosevelt is considered a pioneer of gun control, passing legislation during his presidency that “imposed a tax on the making and transfer of firearms defined by the (National Firearms Act of 1934).” In light of that, it might come as a surprise to some that his own wife possessed a license to carry.

    At 72 years old, Eleanor Roosevelt was granted a pistol license in New York. And now you can see it:

    Eleanor Roosevelt Pistol License

    Eleanor Roosevelt’s pistol license. (Image source: Twitter)

    There was a problem with the blakbirdpie shortcode

    According to the American Gun Culture Report, a pro-firearm ownership website, the former first lady was trained and encouraged to carry a gun as early as her husband’s governorship in New York.

    “…if the necessity arose, I do know how to use a pistol…”
    Share:

    “Someone had evidently forgotten to mention what I actually said, namely, that when I motored and was driving my own car by myself, that the Secret Service had asked me to carry a pistol and that I did it and had learned how to use it!” Mrs. Roosevelt wrote, according to a “My Day” journal entry dated March 13, 1937, archived by the FDR museum.

    eleanor shooting pistol

    Eleanor Roosevelt shooting a pistol at Chazy Lake, New York, in 1934. (Image source: FDR museum)

    “I do not mean by this of course, that I am an expert shot, I only wish I were, and if inheritance has anything to do with it, I ought to be for my father could hold his own even in the west in those early days when my uncle, Theodore Roosevelt, had a ranch in the Dakotas,” she continued. “These things do not however, go by inheritance and my opportunities for shooting have been few and far between, but if the necessity arose, I do know how to use a pistol…”

  • Who’s the Republican Who Apparently Told Obama, ‘I Cannot Even Stand to Look at You’?
    Posted October 23, 2013 at 9:14 am by Madeleine Morgenstern

    Comments (706)

    UPDATE: The White House is denying Durbin’s charge.

    Original story below:

    A top Democratic senator is claiming that a Republican House leader told President Barack Obama in a shutdown negotiation meeting, “I cannot even stand to look at you.”

    Dick Durbin Republican House Leader Told Obama Cannot Even Stand to Look at You

    Members of the media wait for House Speaker John Boehner and other Republicans after their meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House, Oct. 10, 2013. (Getty Images)

    Sen. Dick Durbin, the second-highest Democrat in the Senate, didn’t name names or specify when the meeting took place, but said it’s basically impossible to have a conversation with the GOP because of the level of disrespect.

    “Many Republicans searching for something to say in defense of the disastrous shutdown strategy will say President Obama just doesn’t try hard enough to communicate with Republicans,” the Illinois senator posted on Facebook Sunday. “But in a ‘negotiation’ meeting with the president, one GOP House Leader told the president: ‘I cannot even stand to look at you.’”

    “What are the chances of an honest conversation with someone who has just said something so disrespectful?” Durbin added.

    Durbin served alongside Obama during his time in the Senate.

    Neither House Speaker John Boehner’s office nor the White House immediately returned a request for comment.

    (H/T: The Hill)

  • CNBC Host’s Stunning Slam on Ted Cruz: ‘Can We Get Some…Mexican Music, Maybe?’
    Posted October 23, 2013 at 8:47 am by Becket Adams

    Comments (256)

    [Author’s note: Scroll down to the bottom of this story to see important updates.]

    CNBC’s Steve Liesman made an offhand crack Tuesday about freshman Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and “Mexican music” that has some saying he went too far.

    “We’re going to call this the Senator Ted Cruz jobs report,” Liesman said in reference to Tuesday’s unemployment report. “These are the jobless claims of Senator Ted Cruz.”

    An image of Cruz appeared on the CNBC studio screens, prompting Liesman to say, “Can we get some music to go along with that? Some Mexican music, maybe?”

    Shortly thereafter, some upbeat music started playing (though it’s unclear exactly what it was). Cruz is of Cuban descent.

    Here’s a more complete version:

    Liesman’s decision to refer to the September jobs report as the “Ted Cruz jobs report” is curious. The host is presumably blaming the report’s poor showing on the partial government shutdown inspired by the Texas senator. However, the shutdown lasted from Oct. 1 to Oct. 16. The jobs report released Tuesday covers September.

    A CNBC spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment from TheBlaze.

    UPDATE 10/23/13, 12:00 pm ET – CNBC’s Steve Liesman has issued a formal apology for the “Mexican music” crack:

    Regarding my recent remark on Squawk Box regarding Senator Ted Cruz, I first want to deeply and sincerely apologize if my remarks were insensitive.

    Second, I want to explain that it was not intended to be offensive in any way.

    I thought of him only as an American senator from Texas, and in an attempt, on the fly, to choose music representing that state, I chose Mexican music.

    As a musician for many decades, I’ve played and listened to tons of Texas songs infused with Mexican themes. A better choice would have been Country/Western or Texas Roadhouse Blues — it was a bad reach all the way around.

    And in case you were wondering, Glenn Beck was furious Wednesday when he found out about the Liesman “Mexican music” comment and addressed it on his radio show:

    (H/T: Truth Revolt)

    Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter

    Featured image screen grab

  • Author Reveals 4 Reasons ‘Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore’
    Posted October 23, 2013 at 8:47 am by Billy Hallowell

    Comments (552)

    Numerous studies have shown that church attendance in America is on the decline. Considering this dynamic, people of faith may be asking themselves what’s behind increasingly-emptying pews and how they can get involved to reverse the trend.

    In the new book, “Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore,” authors Thom and Joani Schultz provide some answers — and four possible solutions — to the growing problem. Among them, the husband and wife duo believe that the church needs a renewed sense of hospitality, more openness to the sharing of divergent ideas, true and elevated humility and a focus on God’s providence in the modern-era.

    “I believe that the church can thrive again.”
    Share:

    TheBlaze interviewed Thom Schultz last week to learn more about his theories on the subject.  While some of the purported causes are predicated upon social and cultural trends, he also pointed to problems within the practice of the Christian faith — issues that will require believers to work diligently to reverse the trend.

    Overall, Schultz said it’s a “complex issue.”

    Proposed Solutions to the Church Attendance Problem

    The current culture feels judged over their beliefs, clothing and lifestyle, Schultz told TheBlaze. Additionally — and on a connected note — he claims that people do not want to simply be lectured in a one-way communications schema; they want to be a literal part of the discussion.

    But that only scratches the surface, leaving many questions and possible solutions at bay.

    At the center of it all, is one key question: How do churches stem a modestly growing decrease in church attendance?

    In an effort to summarize his views, the author attempted to answer this curiosity by providing four potential problems and solutions based on interviews he and his wife, Joani, conducted with Americans across the country:

    1) Schultz argues that people feel judged, so he proposes “radical hospitality,” which essentially means embracing a church paradigm of full acceptance. “We don’t mean endorse, but we mean accept the person,” he said. “We feel that that’s a Christ-like approach to things.”

    2) As for the lack of two-way dialogue, Schultz encourages “fearless conversation” — which means incorporating numerous viewpoints rather than simply lecturing. ”By that title, it’s really emphasizing both of those words,” he told TheBlaze. “People want to be involved in the conversation.” So, he is encouraging people to speak boldly on principle, but to also share ideas.

    3) Schultz said that many believers and non-believers, alike, claim that “Christians are hypocrites” — and that this mindset is increasing. To stem the critique, the author is calling for “genuine humility.” This is the notion that life is a journey that everyone is on together. Being humble and truly addressing issues without giving the appearance of being above it all is essential under this proposed solution.

    4) With so many critics also arguing that God is distant and dead, Schultz believes that Christian churches need to re-tune their messaging and implement “divine anticipation.” “In many churches we have either forgotten to talk about God or the primary and almost only mention of God is from Bible times,” he said. “The Bible is a wonderful tool for us to use … but if we give the impression that God [only] acted thousands of years ago, we’ve given the impression that God only did good things back then — and that he either died or went away.”

    Schultz told TheBlaze that there’s clearly a problem in the church that many believers simply aren’t recognizing. While some argue that church attendance is cyclical, he says there’s no indication that an upswing is on the horizon — unless something changes profoundly within Christian circles.

    Digging Deeper on Why Fewer People Are Going to Church

    Without a doubt, the proportion of people going to church has decreased, though modestly, over the past few decades. While it may not be shocking or stark on the surface, an overall decline is causing people like Schultz to pause and critically examine what’s truly going on.

    Author Thom Schultz Details 4 Reasons Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore

    Image credit: Group Publishing

    The Pew Research Center recently noted that the proportion of Americans who “seldom” or “never” attend church has risen modestly over the past 10 years. In 2003, 25 percent Americans fell into this category, but in 2013, that proportion has increased to 29 percent. On the flip side, 37 percent say that they attend at least weekly; this has decreased only two percentage points when compared to 2003 data.

    The aforementioned critiques and solutions may play a role in why people are abandoning pews, but the situation may also be — at least to a degree — out of Christians’ control. Still, Schultz argues that believers haven’t done enough to meet cultural changes and demands.

    “A number of things are happening in this country — some fully in control of the church and some things happening culturally,” he told TheBlaze. “And the church hasn’t kept up with those changes.”

    One of the specific problems he pinpointed is that churches, on the social and political front, are purportedly asking “questions that no one is asking.” This, Schultz says, is hurting Christianity’s cause.

    The author mentioned homosexuality as one example, charging that the way some churches handle the complex paradigm leads to a perception of “judgmentalism” and a subsequent loss of Christians’ right to be heard in the public square.

    “We’re getting distracted from the questions that people are looking to the church to ask,” he said. “Those have much more to do with issues that are obvious to everyone — matters of faith and things related to God.”

    While Schultz said he is by no means telling Christians not to share personal stances on various issues, he said that the choice to vehemently share divisive opinions automatically alienates half — or at least a portion — of the population.

    Author Thom Schultz Details 4 Reasons Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore

    Photo Credit: ShutterStock.com

    He called the balance between sticking with one’s values and interacting with congregations and prospective believers is “a delicate issue.”

    “I’m not suggesting that we avoid [social issues] and that they have no place to be talked about…but we need to allow people into the conversation where there’s a two way dialogue,” he said.

    “We’re getting distracted from the questions that people are looking to the church to ask.”
    Share:

    While the decline is certainly alarming, Schultz said that all hope isn’t lost.

    “I believe that the church can thrive again,” he said, noting that it’s about changing the methodology and not the message.

    That’s the lesson he’s hoping readers take away from ”Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore.”

    Featured Image Credit: ShutterStock.com

    Other Must-Read Stories:

     

  • White House Official Fired for Anonymous Twitter Account He Used to Criticize Gov’t Over Issues Like Benghazi
    Posted October 23, 2013 at 8:28 am by Liz Klimas

    Comments (63)

    A member of the White House’s National Security Council was fired last week when it was revealed he operated an anonymous Twitter account on which he criticized the very administration for which he worked.

    Jofi Joseph

    Jofi Joseph (Image source: LinkedIn)

    The Daily Beast was first to report Jofi Joseph – who worked as the director of nonproliferation for the National Security Council, specifically working with Iran’s negotiations — was terminated from his position with White House staff due to the trolling nature of his Twitter account.

    Joseph had also previously worked for the State Department and for Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA).

    According to The Daily Beast Joseph used the handle @natsecwonk to criticize officials that included former National Security Adviser Tom Donilon and Secretary of State John Kerry, among others.

    Here’s more from The Daily Beast detailing some of the tweets saved from the Twitter account, which was shut down last week:

    “I’m a fan of Obama, but his continuing reliance and dependence upon a vacuous cipher like Valerie Jarrett concerns me,” he once tweeted.

    “Was Huma Abedin wearing beer goggles the night she met Anthony Wiener? Almost as bad a pairing as Samantha Powers and Cass Sunstein ….,” he tweeted on another occasion, insulting a top Clinton aide, a then Congressman, and two White House senior officials in one tweet.

    Joseph’s snark was not confined to his Obama administration colleagues. He also took aim at senior Republican figures and lowly GOP Hill staffers.

    “So when will someone do us the favor of getting rid of Sarah Palin and the rest of her white trash family? What utter useless garbage …. ,” he tweeted last October.

    During the 2012 Presidential campaign, he lashed out at conservative journalists and members of the presidential campaign staff of Mitt Romney

    “@MiekeEoyang Come on, I expected better of you. @jrubinblogger is CRAZY unhinged while @noonanjo is an overweight paid Romney shill,” he tweeted, referring to the Washington Post’s conservative blogger Jen Rubin and Romney campaign national security staffer John Noonan.

    The investigation into this account, according to Politico, began after it tweeted doubts about the information coming from the administration regarding the Benghazi attacks on Sept. 11, 2012.

    “Look, Issa is an a**, but he’s on to something here with the @HillaryClinton whitewash of accountability for Benghazi,” @natsecwonk once tweeted, according to Politico (redacted).

    One of the tweets reported by Politico read (redacted): “’Has sh***y staff.’ #ObamaInThreeWords.”

    White House officials confirmed with both publications that Joseph was no longer with the staff.

    Joseph apologized to the administration for his actions.

    “It has been a privilege to serve in this Administration and I deeply regret violating the trust and confidence placed in me,” Joseph wrote to Politico.

    “What started out as an intended parody account of DC culture developed over time into a series of inappropriate and mean-spirited comments,” he continued. “I bear complete responsibility for this affair and I sincerely apologize to everyone I insulted.”

    Politico also noted officials said they investigated Joseph’s potential involvement with handle @dchobbyist. This account is still active, but it recently locked/hid all of its content “due to a bunch of strange tweets aimed at me.”

    @dchobbyist

    This screenshot shows the current status of the Twitter handle @dchobbyist. (Image source: @dchobbyist/Twitter)

    Joseph did not give comment about this other Twitter account.

    Featured image via PiXXart / Shutterstock.com.

    (H/T: Gawker)

  • ‘A Living Nightmare’: Mom Takes Unbelievably Extreme Measures to Combat Rebellious Teen Daughter’s Behavior
    Posted October 23, 2013 at 8:28 am by Billy Hallowell

    Comments (195)

    When Natalia Roberts dropped off her 15-year-old daughter, Sofia Petrova, at the airport, she said the teen would be spending just three weeks in Siberia, where she would meet her birth father. But once the plane landed, Roberts reportedly told Petrova the trip would be much longer than that.

    Two years later, the teenager is still stranded in Siberia and pleading to return to the U.S. Her mother and stepfather, though, are defending their decision to send the girl overseas, claiming that her behavior was becoming “uncontrollable.”

    Mom Natalia Roberts Takes Unbelievably Extreme Measures to Combat Sofia Petrovas Behavior

    Sofia Petrova (Photo Credit: WUSA-TV)

    Roberts and her husband, James, claim that the girl had run away, was using drugs, brought boys into the home without permission, and that she stole $1,000 from them.

    The problems were apparently so severe that they sent her away from the only life she had ever known in Virginia. The two detailed their situation in e-mails to WUSA-TV.

    “The behavior was becoming worse and we saw no solution. Worse, it was affecting the other children in the house, especially the outbursts that would last until 2:00 a.m.,” her stepfather wrote in an email to WUSA-TV.

    Roberts added that it was not an easy choice, but that it was the “right” one.

    Petrova and her friends, though, disagree.

    “I guess it was a form of punishment, but after having two year to think about it, I can’t help feeling that it was pre-planned in some way, because to be on an airplane by yourself internationally, you have to be 15-years-old,” Petrova told WUSA-TV. “And she sent me here a week after my 15th birthday.”

    Her best friend, Michaela Bennett, is defending Petrova, who is now 17 and living on her own in Siberia. Bennett and others are working fervently to help bring the girl back to the U.S. before she turns 18; Petrova claims getting a visa will become much more difficult at that point.

    “She never did drugs. She never smoked. Nothing. She may drink a little, but all teenagers do that,” Bennett old WUSA-TV.

    While in Siberia, Petrova has faced monumental challenges. When she arrived, she didn’t know the language. And Bennett claims her father, an abusive alcoholic, often hit her. After a few months in his home, Petrova, who said there was rarely food to eat, fled to a youth center, where she became depressed and tried to take her own life.

    Watch Petrova’s story, below:

    Now, she’s living in a Siberian hotel where she also works.

    “Financially, I support myself. I work 60 hours a week,” she told WUSA-TV. “I pay for my school tuition right now, for online, and I don’t see anything for the future.”

    She added, “I would just be happy to be on American soil.”

    While the teen was originally born in Russia, she came to the U.S. with her mother when she was only two years old.

    Roberts has said that she isn’t entirely opposed to helping her daughter return, but that Petrova needs to prove she’s changed. The teen believes she has already shown that she has.

    (H/T: WUSA-TV)

  • Are Women ‘Less Happy Than They Were 40 Years Ago’? This Author Says ‘Yes’ and Explains Why
    Posted October 23, 2013 at 7:51 am by Carly Hoilman

    Comments (152)

    TheBlaze’s Billy Hallowell contributed to this report.

    When life coach, motivational speaker and author Valorie Burton recently stopped by TheBlaze newsroom to talk about her new book, “Happy Women Live Better,” she issued a surprising proclamation: ”Women are less happy than they were 40 years ago.”

    On the surface, the statement was stunning. Haven’t women reached an unprecedented level of achievement? As a result, shouldn’t happiness simply follow suit?

    Famed Author Valorie Burton Explains Why She Believes Women Are Less Happy Than They Were 40 Years Ago

    Life coach Valorie Burton (Image source: ValorieBurton.com)

    While females are certainly doing more than ever before, the result of that dynamic may not always be as positive as some would assume.

    TheBlaze asked Burton to explain her theory — and here’s what she told us:

    “As I’ve talked to women, and just looking at my own experience, there are far more expectations on women today than there were 40 years ago. And I think a lot of women feel like, I need to climb the corporate ladder, have some great business, have something wonderful going on professionally — oh, and I need to be married and he should be really handsome and very successful. And my kids should be cute, and, you know, they should be well-behaved. And by the way, I should be a size six and look flawless.”

    Burton added that all of these expectations that women establish for themselves are ones that “men don’t have.”

    “Men get older, and they get gray and wrinkled and we say they’re distinguished, right? Women need to cover the gray; they need to figure out how to stop the wrinkles from happening,” she continued. “When men become more successful, there are more women that are after them. And unfortunately, the more money a woman makes, the fewer suitors she tends to have.”

    Women in the 21st Century

    The author mentioned a study in 2011 that said that 43 percent of Generation X women who were college-educated (the youngest being 30 years old at the time) did not have children.

    “I don’t think you could find a generation of women in the history of the world that got to 33 and almost half have no children,” Burton said. “And I think you also have to figure that’s the first generation fully after the women’s movement.”

    “Women are less happy than they were 40 years ago.”
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    While she said there are many wonderful elements that came from the women’s movement, Burton also argued that there are also some consequences that haven’t yet been properly dealt with. The aforementioned dynamics are among them, she says, going on to share a hypothetical scenario that involves two 30-year-olds — one a woman and the other a man.

    “The guy has the ridiculous-looking apartment that’s messy, and he has no food in the refrigerator and never cooks, people say, ‘Oh, well he needs a wife,’” she said. “[But if it's] a 30-year-old woman with a messy apartment and [who] doesn’t cook, there are a lot of other things that people will say.”

    “Defining What Happiness Looks Like”

    So how do women get themselves out of that mindset of feeling overwhelmed or feeling overstressed, and how can they help themselves progress on the right path?

    “I think number one is defining what happiness looks like to you…and not letting culture define it for you. And really being okay with that,” Burton told TheBlaze. “I think that some of the message of the women’s movement has been: everybody needs to do ‘X’ — we all need to climb the corporate ladder because now that door is open.”

    Watch Burton discuss women and happiness, below:

    But of the women’s movement, she said that the prevailing mentality should be that the doors are now open to women — and that, as a result, individuals can choose which option suits them and then go for it — whether that means entering the workforce or being a stay-at-home mom.

    Burton, who also makes frequent trips to speak to college-age women, shared her strategy for speaking into the lives of young ladies.

    “I always [tell] women, ‘Look, I know you’ve got a career plan. I know you know what you want for work, or at least you’re thinking about it,” she said. “But you need a plan for your personal life. It’s very easy to say, ‘Oh I have time, I have time.’ But you’ll get to be 30, 35, 40, and you’ll say, ‘Oh my goodness, I thought this side of my life was going to fall into place.’”

    Burton explained that this type of planning is not just recommended for romantic considerations, but that it also pertains to friendships and other non-relational goals.

    “I think we can over-focus in one area to the detriment of the other. And I see that a lot in my generation as we’re getting older,” she added.

    Burton defines success as a blend of purpose (“How are people’s lives better because you’re here?”), resilience (“Being able to constantly bounce back and navigate those obstacles and challenges”) and joy (“Are you having fun doing what you do?”). To her, joy is a “deeply spiritual concept” that differs from  happiness, which she says is “a choice.”

    “I think of joy as more of this kind of low-level abiding in your spirit.”

    Burton’s Views on Christianity and Positive Living

    The founder of the Coaching and Positive Psychology Institute (CaPP) also shared a bit about her research and her Christian faith.

    After earning her second master’s degree in Applied Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, Burton said, “What I love now is being able to share from the research and how much the research lines up with what’s already in the Bible. I love that because I feel like I have kind of this deeper sense of knowledge about what it is that I’m sharing.”

    “Number one is defining what happiness looks like to you…not letting culture define it for you.”
    Share:

    Burton has had the opportunity to reach out and help more women as an author and a life coach than she feels like she otherwise could have had she pegged herself as a “Christian author.” Instead, she trusts her readers to infer the Christian teachings that permeate her works.

    “I can’t separate faith from life strategies. Otherwise it’s just Valorie talking.”

    In her book, “Happy Women Live Better,” Burton talks about the 13 “happiness triggers” that influence how we approach and interpret life’s circumstances. Learn more about that here.

  • Stunning Gallup Poll Points to Major Evolution of Americans’ Marijuana Views
    Posted October 23, 2013 at 7:48 am by Billy Hallowell

    Comments (169)

    Marijuana legalization advocates are likely rejoicing over the results of a new Gallup poll released on Tuesday. For the first time in its history, the firm found that a majority of Americans support decriminalization.

    Six in 10 respondents (58 percent) answered affirmatively when asked, “Do you think the use of marijuana should be made legal, or not?” Thirty-nine percent said that they do not believe the drug should be permitted.

    These proportions show a stark difference when compared to the results Gallup collected in 1969 when the firm first began asking the question. At that time, only 12 percent favored marijuana legalization, with 84 percent standing against it.

    Gallup: Majority of Americans Support Marijuana Legalization

    Image credit: Gallup

    Earlier this summer, Gallup noted in a separate poll that 38 percent of Americans have admitted to trying the drug, which the organization claims could be behind increased support for legalizing it. While the usage proportion hasn’t changed dramatically sine the 1980s, only four percent of Americans admitted the same in 1969.

    Gallup’s results show that political independents seem to be driving the changing tides, as their support for legalization has increased 12 percentage points since Nov. 2012.

    A partisan analysis shows that Democrats and Republicans have not changed dramatically in how they view the issue. While 65 percent of Democrats support legalizing the drug, only 35 percent of Republicans agree.

    Gallup: Majority of Americans Support Marijuana Legalization

    Image source: Gallup

    The results come after both Washington and Colorado legalized the drug for recreational purposes last year. The majority support for decriminalization will likely give fuel to those seeking to bring the drug into the mainstream (read a history of marijuana in America here).

    Interviews were conducted for this latest poll on Oct. 3-6, 2013 using a random sample of 1,028 adults aged 18 and older. The margin of error is +/- 4 percentage points.

    (H/T: NPR)

  • We Usually Don’t Publish Stories About Underwear — Butt This One Was Too Good to Pass Up (Wives Take Notice)
    Posted October 23, 2013 at 7:41 am by Oliver Darcy

    Comments (121)

    A new line of underwear employs chemical warfare technology to filter out the smell of its user’s farts, it says.

    The line of boxers and briefs, designed by Shreddies, “features a ‘Zorflex’ activated carbon back panel that absorbs all flatulence odours.”

    “Due to its highly porous nature, the odour vapours become trapped and neutralised by the cloth, which is then reactivated by simply washing the garment,” the underwear company promises on its website.

    “Here at Shreddies we firmly believe that everybody should own a pair of these amazing undies,” their website continues. “The average person passes wind 14 times per day so whether you’re a sufferer of a digestive disorder or just have flatulence, Shreddies can help.”

    New Underwear Line Promises to Filter Out a Users Farts

    Shreddies employs technology used in chemical warfare suits in their “flatulence filtering underwear” line. (Image Source: Shreddies)

    The underwear company also notes that their line of boxers and briefs can be particularly helpful to those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome.

    “Anybody that suffers from excessive flatulence will know of the social issues that it can cause and Shreddies not only improves the physical symptoms but also helps reduce the anxiety associated with this condition,” their website says. “In many cases, simply not having to worry about flatulence can help improve a persons condition.”

    (H/T: New York Daily News)

    Follow Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) on Twitter

  • There Have Been Two Nuclear-Related Mishaps This Year by the Air Force
    Posted October 23, 2013 at 5:15 am by Jonathon M. Seidl

    Comments (9)

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Air Force officers entrusted with the launch keys to long-range nuclear missiles have been caught twice this year leaving open a blast door that is intended to help prevent a terrorist or other intruder from entering their underground command post, Air Force officials said.

    The blast doors are never to be left open if one of the crew members inside is asleep — as was the case in both these instances — out of concern for the trouble an intruder could cause, including the compromising of secret launch codes.

    Transgressions such as this are rarely revealed publicly. But officials with direct knowledge of Air Force intercontinental ballistic missile operations told The Associated Press that such violations have occurred, undetected, more times than in the cases of the two launch crew commanders and two deputy commanders who were given administrative punishments this year.

    Air Force officers left blast doors for nuclear missiles open twice

    A US Airforce plane lands at the Incirlik airbase, southern Turkey, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013. U.N. chemical weapons experts have left Syria and crossed into neighboring Lebanon. The team on Friday carried out a fourth and final day of inspection as they sought to determine precisely what happened in the Aug. 21 alleged chemical weapons attack near Damascus. The team took samples from victims for examination in laboratories in Europe. Credit: AP

    The blast door violations are another sign of trouble in the handling of the nation’s nuclear arsenal. The AP has discovered a series of problems within the ICBM force, including a failed safety inspection, the temporary sidelining of launch officers deemed unfit for duty and the abrupt firing last week of the two-star general in charge. The problems, including low morale, underscore the challenges of keeping safe such a deadly force that is constantly on alert but is unlikely ever to be used.

    The crews who operate the missiles are trained to follow rules without fail, including the prohibition against having the blast door open when only one crew member is awake.

    The officers, known as missileers, are custodians of keys that could launch nuclear hell. The warheads on the business ends of their missiles are capable of a nuclear yield many times that of the U.S. atomic bombs dropped on Japan in 1945.

    “The only way that you can have a crew member be in ‘rest status’ is if that blast door is shut and there is no possibility of anyone accessing the launch control center,” said Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, the commander of Air Force Global Strike Command. He is responsible for the entire force of 450 Minuteman 3 missiles, plus the Air Force’s nuclear-capable bombers.

    The written Air Force instructions on ICBM safety, last updated in June 1996, says, “One crewmember at a time may sleep on duty, but both must be awake and capable of detecting an unauthorized act if … the Launch Control Center blast door is open” or if someone other than the crew is present.

    The blast door is not the first line of defense. An intruder intent on taking control of a missile command post would face many layers of security before encountering the blast door, which — when closed — is secured by 12 hydraulically operated steel pins. The door is at the base of an elevator shaft. Entry to that elevator is controlled from an above-ground building. ICBM fields are monitored with security cameras and patrolled regularly by armed Air Force guards.

    Each underground launch center, known as a capsule for its pill-like shape, monitors and operates 10 Minuteman 3 missiles.

    The missiles stand in reinforced concrete silos and are linked to the control center by buried communications cables. The ICBMs are split evenly among “wings” based in North Dakota, Wyoming and Montana. Each wing is divided into three squadrons, each responsible for 50 missiles.

    In neither of the two reported violations was security of the crews’ missiles compromised, the Air Force said in response to questions from the AP, “due to the multiple safeguards and other protections in place.” But these were clear-cut violations of what the Air Force calls “weapon system safety rules” meant to be strictly enforced in keeping with the potentially catastrophic consequences of a breach of nuclear security.

    In the two episodes confirmed by the Air Force, the multiton concrete-and-steel door that seals the entrance to the underground launch control center was deliberately left open while one of two crew members inside napped.

    One officer lied about a violation but later admitted to it.

    Sleep breaks are allowed during a 24-hour shift, known as an “alert.” But a written rule says the door — meant to keep others out and to protect the crew from the blast effects of a direct nuclear strike — must be closed if one is napping.

    In an extensive interview last week at his headquarters at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Kowalski declined to say whether he was aware that ICBM launch crew members had violated the blast door rule with some frequency.

    “I’m not aware of it being any different than it’s ever been before,” he said. “And if it had happened out there in the past and was tolerated, it is not tolerated now. So my sense of this is, if we know they’re doing it they’ll be disciplined for it.”

    It is clear that Air Force commanders do, in fact, know these violations are happening. One of the officers punished for a blast door violation in April at the 91st Missile Wing at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., admitted during questioning by superiors to having done it other times without getting caught.

    Both officers involved in that case were given what the military calls nonjudicial punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, rather than being court-martialed. One was ordered to forfeit $2,246 in pay for two months and received a letter of reprimand, according to Lt. Col. John Sheets, spokesman for Air Force Global Strike Command. The other launch officer, who admitted to having committed the same violation “a few” times previously, was given a letter of admonishment, Sheets said.

    Kowalski said the crews know better.

    “This is not a training problem,” he said. “This is some people out there are having a problem with discipline.”

    The other confirmed blast door violation happened in May at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. In that case, a person who entered the capsule to do maintenance work realized that the deputy crew commander was asleep with the door open and reported the violation to superiors. Upon questioning, the deputy crew commander initially denied the accusation but later confessed and said her crew commander had encouraged her to lie, Sheets said.

    The crew commander was ordered to forfeit $3,045 in pay for two months, Sheets said, and also faces an Air Force discharge board, which could force him out of the service. The deputy crew commander was given a letter of reprimand. A letter of reprimand does not require the officer to leave the service but usually is a significant obstacle to promotion and could mean an early end to his or her career.

    The AP was tipped off to the Malmstrom episode shortly after it took place by an official who felt strongly that it should be made public and that it reflected a more deeply rooted disciplinary problem inside the ICBM force. The AP learned of the Minot violation through an internal Air Force email. The AP confirmed both incidents with several other Air Force officials.

    Sheets said the Minot and Malmstrom violations were the only blast door disciplinary cases in at least two years.

    The willingness of some launch officers to leave the blast door open at times reflects a mindset far removed from the Cold War days when the U.S. lived in fear of a nuclear strike by the Soviet Union. It was that fear that provided the original rationale for placing ICBMs in reinforced underground silos and the launch control officers in buried capsules — so that in the event of an attack the officers might survive to launch a counterattack.

    Today the fear of such an attack has all but disappeared and, with it, the appeal of strictly following the blast door rule.

    Bruce Blair, who served as an ICBM launch control officer in the 1970s and is an advocate for phasing out the ICBM force, said violations should be taken seriously.

    “This transgression might help enable outsiders to gain access to the launch center and to its super-secret codes,” said Blair, who is now a research scholar at Princeton University. That would increase the risk of unauthorized launch or of compromising codes that might consequently have to be invalidated in order to prevent unauthorized launches, he said.

    “Such invalidation might effectively neutralize for an extended period of time the entire U.S. strategic nuclear arsenal and the president’s ability to launch strategic forces while the Pentagon scrambles to reissue new codes,” he added.

  • Docs: Dead Boston Marathon Bombing Suspect Tied to 2011 Triple Murder
    Posted October 22, 2013 at 11:59 pm by Associated Press

    Comments (38)

    BOSTON (AP) — Slain Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev was named as a participant in an earlier triple homicide by a man who was subsequently shot to death while being questioned by authorities, according to a filing made by federal prosecutors in the case against his brother, surviving bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

    According to the filing made Monday, Ibragim Todashev told investigators Tamerlan Tsarnaev participated in a triple slaying in Waltham on Sept. 11, 2011.

    In that case, three men were found in an apartment with their necks slit and their bodies reportedly covered with marijuana. One of the victims was a boxer and friend of Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

    Docs: Dead Boston Marathon Bombing Suspect Tied to 2011 Killings

    Tamerlan Tsamaev at the 2009 Golden Gloves National Tournament of Champions May 4, 2009 in Salt Lake City, Utah. After a car chase and shoot out with police, one suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was shot and killed by police early morning April 19, and a manhunt is underway for his brother and second suspect, 19-year-old Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev. The two men are suspects in the bombings at the Boston Marathon on April 15, that killed three people and wounded at least 170. (Photo: Glenn DePriest/Getty Images)

    Todashev, a 27-year-old mixed martial arts fighter, was fatally shot at his Orlando home during a meeting with an FBI agent and two Massachusetts state troopers in May, authorities said. He had turned violent while being question, according to authorities.

    The filing is prosecutors’ attempt to block Dzhokhar Tsarnaev from getting certain information from authorities, including investigative documents associated with the Waltham slayings.

    “The government has already disclosed to Tsarnaev that, according to Todashev, Tamerlan Tsarnaev participated in the Waltham triple homicide,” prosecutors wrote.

    According to prosecutors, the ongoing investigation into the 2011 slayings is reason not to allow Dzhokhar Tsarnaev access to the documents he’s seeking.

    “Any benefit to Tsarnaev of knowing more about the precise `nature and extent’ of his brother’s involvement does not outweigh the potential harm of exposing details of an ongoing investigation into an extremely serious crime, especially at this stage of the proceeding,” prosecutors wrote.

    Docs: Dead Boston Marathon Bombing Suspect Tied to 2011 Killings

    FILE – This combination of undated file photos shows Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, left, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19. Credit: AP

    Prosecutors also said Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is not entitled to the information because his brother’s criminal history will be relevant, if at all, only at a possible future sentencing hearing.

    A phone message left for a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office was not immediately returned Tuesday night. A message left for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s federal public defender was also not immediately returned.

    Authorities allege that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 20, and 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev, ethnic Chechens from Russia, planned and carried out the twin bombings near the finish of the marathon on April 15. Three people were killed and more than 260 were injured.

    Dzhokhar Tsarnaev faces 30 federal charges, including using a weapon of mass destruction and 16 other charges that carry the possibility of the death penalty.

    Tamerlan Tsarnaev died in a gunbattle with police as authorities closed in on the brothers several days after the bombings.