There is no evidence that the couple suspected of embarking on a shooting rampage that left 14 people dead in San Bernardino, California, this month were involved with a terror cell, according the director of the FBI.
Without being involved with a cell, it’s likely that the married couple, Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, were inspired by the Islamic State — not necessarily organized by the militant group.
According to Reuters, FBI Director James Comey said at a counterterrorism event Wednesday that the Islamic State has “revolutionized” terrorism as it inspires followers to commit attacks on a smaller scale through the use of social media and propaganda worldwide.
“Your parents’ al Qaeda was a very different model than the threat we face today,” Comey said.
Comey said the Islamic militant group has “perfected” the use of social media, particularly Twitter, in a way to gain access, inspire and encourage supporters worldwide.
“Twitter works as a way to sell books, as a way to promote movies, and it works as a way to crowdsource terrorism — to sell murder,” he said.
As Malik reportedly entered the U.S. on a fiancé visa, the House Judiciary Committee has called for an overhaul of the screening process for visas. One lawmaker in particular, Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), is urging the federal government to extensively screen social media posts of people wishing to come into the U.S. before allowing them to do so.
ROCHESTER, Minn. (TheBlaze/AP) — A television reporter was doing a live update on a Minnesota bank robbery when police say the suspect returned to rob it a second time.
Adam Sallet, a reporter for Mason City, Iowa-based KIMT-TV, was standing outside the Sterling State Bank in Rochester Tuesday when a bank employee ran out and pointed at the robbery suspect who was leaving the scene.
“That’s the robber,” Sallet said on the air. “This is live TV folks. That’s the robber [who] just went by, according to the bank employee. I got to go here and call 911.”
The station returned to anchor Tyler Mickelson, who told the viewers, “I can assure you that was not set up.”
Sallet told The Associated Press that with a split-second decision before him, he knew he had to dump out of the live shot.
“Once I saw him, I didn’t know what to do,” Sallet told the AP. “… I decided I’d better be a good citizen and call 911.”
Police were able to determine the suspect had left in a vehicle, heading north on U.S. Highway 52. A Rochester police officer and troopers with the Minnesota State Patrol spotted the vehicle, pulled the suspect over and arrested him.
Investigators told KIMT they’re confident that Ryan Liskow, 36, is responsible for both robberies.
Sallet’s interrupted live shot attracted thousands of views:
A Kentucky police officer and his wife who have adopted seven daughters from China are raising awareness about adoption in their community, according to a report by WLKY-TV.
“Usually, when I’m introducing Vergil Willoughby, it’s because he’s sharing information about ways the Elizabethtown Police Department is protecting and serving our community,” WLKY’s Anna-Lysa Gayle told viewers during a recent broadcast, adding that she wanted to show them “a different side of the officer.”
Virgil and Cindy Willoughby of Elizabethtown are the parents of 10 children, seven of whom are adopted daughters from China: Nini, Mei Mei, Ximi, Erin, Enya, Elli and Evelyn.
“We love them unconditionally,” Virgil told the news outlet. “There is no difference than having a biological child, than having an adopted child, because once they become yours, oh my goodness, you cannot put it into words.”
“They appreciate just having a family, somebody to tuck them in at night,” Cindy told WLKY. “When they put their arms around you and tell you that they love you, there is just nothing, nothing I…I can’t even describe how that is.”
Several of the girls have disabilities. ”They say special needs, they’re just special. Everybody has needs, somebody’s needs may be different than others, some may be more obvious,” Cindy said.
“The greatest love is a mother taking that child and leaving them, because they knew they couldn’t take care of the issues they had,” Virgil added.
“Whenever I hurt, I know mom and dad will always be there for me, and whenever I need something, I know mom and dad will always be there for me too,” Evelyn Willoughby said. “If you mess with me, my dad is going to get you.”
The Willoughbys said they didn’t originally intend to adopt more than one child and that they still think of the thousands of children who need good homes.
“We’ve learned, if the Lord says to go, we’ll go,” Cindy said.
President Barack Obama will visit the families of victims of the San Bernardino, California, terrorist attack Friday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest announced Wednesday.
Obama will stop in California en route to Hawaii where he and his family will spend the remainder of the year.
Earnest said that the meetings with the families will be in private and there will be no public event.
Two weeks ago, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik shote and killed 14 people and injured 22 others at a holiday party at a social service center in San Bernardino. The FBI determined the shooting was a terrorist investigation.
“Safe, legal and rare.”
Such was the early rally cry of the pro-choice movement, but it is a mantra that is no longer emblematic of the progressive crusade, according to a conservative female lawmaker.
Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) has consistently been a staunch opponent of abortion and its leading provider — Planned Parenthood. And when Planned Parenthood published a controversial tweet over the weekend, Black couldn’t sit back and let it go unnoticed.
“Imagine ‘life in a magical land where abortions and birth control are free and plentiful’ This place exists,” Planned Parenthood tweeted Sunday afternoon, including a link to a Fusion editorial that slammed the U.S. for not offering free and more accessible abortion services.
Imagine "life in a magical land where abortions and birth control are free and plentiful" This place exists. https://t.co/zdEYnLF0oT
— Planned Parenthood (@PPact) December 13, 2015
In an interview with TheBlaze, Black slammed Planned Parenthood for the “unconscionable statement — a magical land where we just kill babies” and contended that the old pro-abortion mantra is not indicative of the movement anymore.
“‘Rare’ is the point I want to get back to. That’s not really what this is about. This is about abortion on demand,” she said. “Safe, legal and rare. The third word there is obviously not what they stand for.”
“‘Life in a magical land where abortion is rare and birth control is free and plentiful.’ If that’s really their mission, that’s what should have been in there,” Black, a former nurse, continued. “That’s what their message should be; we left a word out of here.
“With a single tweet, Planned Parenthood accidentally told us the truth. They effectively admitted that the abortion lobby’s mantra of ‘safe, legal and rare’ abortion is a lie and that the organization’s real mission is to encourage more elective abortions funded off the backs of taxpayers,” Black said.
The vivacious lawmaker also criticized Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards who has largely argued that abortions are among the least of her organization’s services. Appearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in the wake of the contentious undercover videos released over the summer, Richards said that Planned Parenthood was all about “essential services” for women, such as breast exams, birth control and counseling for those with unplanned pregnancies.
“Is their message really about what they try to convince it is?” Black said. “So what are they? Are they a clinic, agency that really wants to provide preventative women’s services? To which we would all say, ‘Absolutely, we want to be able to fund that.’”
“When you look at Planned Parenthood and what they have said and what they do — I think there is real confusion in their message,” she continued.
And Black isn’t alone in questioning the motives of Planned Parenthood — specifically after the controversial tweet.
Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina told TheBlaze that she plans to end taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood if elected — a sentiment her campaign has oft repeated.
“I will support those pregnancy centers and women’s health clinics around the country that are actually serving their communities,” Fiorina told TheBlaze.
“Planned Parenthood has showed their hand — they aren’t pro-choice but rather pro-abortion, and want to live in a world where life is so devalued that women don’t think twice about having an abortion,” Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, told TheBlaze. “We would rather live in a world where abortion is unthinkable and women facing unplanned pregnancies have resources to help them in their times of need and not resort to walking through the doors of Planned Parenthood, where a dollar sign will be placed on them and their preborn baby.”
Earlier this month, the Senate passed a bill to reallocate taxpayer money from Planned Parenthood with a vote of 52-47. Only two Republicans did not vote for the measure, which also repeals the Affordable Care Act — commonly referred to as Obamacare. President Barack Obama, who championed the controversial health care law, has threatened to veto the measure.
Black asked if those who voted against the reallocating of funds bill would align their vote with Planned Parenthood’s tweet.
“The contrast between the pro-abortion and pro-life point of view has never been more clear. While Planned Parenthood invites its supporters to imagine a future of ‘free and plentiful’ abortion — because apparently the loss of more than 327,000 unborn babies a year just isn’t enough — we in the pro-life movement invite Americans to believe in a country where every life is cherished and where every child is given a chance to see the light of day,” she said.
“We must not stand for this barbarity,” Black said.
Planned Parenthood did not respond to a request for comment from TheBlaze. According to reproductive health nonprofit’s website, abortions make up three percent of Planned Parenthood’s health services.
PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — North Korea’s Supreme Court sentenced a Canadian pastor to life in prison with hard labor on Wednesday for what it called crimes against the state.
Hyeon Soo Lim, who pastors the Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Toronto, was given the sentence after a 90-minute trial. He has been in detention since February.
Lim entered and left the court in handcuffs flanked by two public security officers in uniform. The handcuffs were removed in court during the trial. He kept his head bowed most of the time and answered questions in a subdued tone.
The crimes he was charged with included harming the dignity of the supreme leadership, trying to use religion to destroy the North Korean system, disseminating negative propaganda about the North to the overseas Koreans, and helping U.S. and South Korean authorities lure and abduct North Korean citizens, along with aiding their programs to assist defectors from the North.
State prosecutors sought the death penalty.
Lim’s lawyer asked the court to take into account the fact that Lim is a fellow Korean and that he had frankly confessed to everything the prosecution had brought up. Lim pleaded to be given a chance and said if the court gave him one he would not do anything bad again.
In July, Lim appeared at a news conference organized by North Korean authorities in Pyongyang and admitted to plotting to overthrow the North Korean state. Other foreigners detained in North Korea and then released have said they were coerced into making similar statements and confessing guilt during their detention.
Lim’s relatives and colleagues have said he traveled on Jan. 31 on a regular humanitarian mission to North Korea where he supports a nursing home, a nursery and an orphanage. They said Lim, who is in his early 60s, has made more than 100 trips to North Korea since 1997 and that his trips were about helping people and were not political.
North Korea has very strict rules against any missionary or religious activities that it sees as threatening the supremacy of its ruling regime. Merely leaving a Bible in a public place can lead to arrest and severe punishment.
Both the U.S. and Canadian governments warn against travel to North Korea.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed “tremendous” concern with the sentence and noted Canadian consular officials have not been allowed access to Lim while he’s been in custody.
“We have tremendous concern about it. The issues of North Korea’s governance and judicial system are well known,” Trudeau said. “We are very concerned about someone being sentenced to life in North Korea and we certainly hope to be able to engage with this individual and stand up for his rights.”
Diana Khaddaj, a spokeswoman for Canada’s Global Affairs Department, said earlier Canada is “dismayed at the unduly harsh sentence given to Mr. Lim by a North Korean court, particularly given his age and fragile health.”
“Despite repeated requests, Canadian officials have not been able to meet with him to verify his health and well-being. The trial was our first opportunity to see him. This is a serious violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and the right of states to have consular access to their citizens,” Khaddaj said.
Last year, North Korea released Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American missionary who was convicted of anti-state crimes and had been serving a 15-year sentence.
Bae, whose arrest received worldwide attention, suffered medical issues while in detention. He was freed along with another American detainee after a secret mission to the reclusive communist country by James Clapper, the top U.S. intelligence official. He is reportedly planning a book about his 2-year detention.
An Australian missionary detained for spreading Christianity was deported last year after he apologized for anti-state religious acts and requested forgiveness.
Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai ripped into Republican front-runner Donald Trump late Tuesday, saying that his proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the United States is “full of hatred.”
The 18-year-old Pakistani, who was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012, was speaking at a memorial ceremony for people who died in a Taliban attack last year at a school in Peshawar, Pakistan. Of the more than 150 who were killed, 134 were school children.
“Well, that’s really tragic that you hear these comments, which are full of hatred, full of this ideology of being discriminative towards others,” she said, according to the AFP, when asked about the billionaire businessman’s controversial plan.
Her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, added, “It will be very unfair, very unjust that we associate 1.6 billion with a few terrorist organizations.”
Malala, who is also a women’s rights advocate, said that proper education is a channel that could help bring an end to terrorism.
“If we want to end terrorism, we need to bring quality education so we defeat the mindset of terrorism mentality and of hatred,” she said.
In a separate interview with the U.K’s Channel 4 News, Malala suggested that negative rhetoric directed toward Muslims will only play further into the hands of the Islamic State and other terrorist groups.
“If your intention is to stop terrorism, do not try to blame the whole population of Muslims for it because it cannot stop terrorism,” she told the channel. “It will radicalize more terrorists.”
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said Wednesday he has asked his staff to look into whether Texas Sen. Ted Cruz released classified information during Tuesday night’s GOP presidential debate.
Cruz made a claim during an exchange with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio about the new USA Freedom Act, which Cruz supported and Rubio opposed. Cruz said that “nearly 100 percent” of phone numbers can be checked for terror ties under the new program, compared with “20 percent to 30 percent” under earlier Patriot Act provisions.
Rubio responded that national television is not the place to discuss classified information, before going on to dispute Cruz’s suggestions.
Chairman Richard Burr of North Carolina said that any time specific numbers are discussed a question emerges as to whether it’s classified or open source.
“The question had been raised. Therefore I asked them to look at it and see if there was any validity to it,” Burr told reporters.
Burr added: “It’s not as clear as just reading what he said. We’ve got to search all sorts of media outlets to see if anyone had reported that number independently.”
Burr said he’d be “a lot more worried” if Cruz were actually a member of the Intelligence Committee, which Rubio is. He said as far as he knows the subject matter has not been briefed to lawmakers outside the committee.
Asked to respond to Burr’s comments, a Cruz campaign spokeswoman, Catherine Frazier, passed along news reports from the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal from 2014 that contained the 20 percent to 30 percent figures Cruz used, along with congressional testimony from an NSA official suggesting the USA Freedom Act could expand the universe of calls available to the agency to search. The material, Frazier noted, is “all publicly available.”
Burr noted that he had not actually seen the exchange in question. “The Voice was on. It was the final episode,” he said.
Glenn Beck challenged Republican presidential contender Ohio Gov. John Kasich Wednesday for saying during Tuesday night’s GOP debate that he doesn’t “support a civil war” in Syria, but still claiming he wants to knock Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad out of power.
According to Beck, one cannot be accomplished without the other — if the U.S. removes Assad, civil war will break out. The radio host went on to list Middle East states that were “destabilized” by toppled dictators: Iraq, Libya, Egypt and Tunisia.
“You want to arm the people who are rising up against the government, but you don’t want anything to do with a civil war. John, that doesn’t make any sense at all,” Beck said on The Glenn Beck Radio Program. “Have we not learned our lesson?”
Beck said then-President George W. Bush’s war in Afghanistan after 9/11 was a decision “almost everybody agreed with,” but added that the Iraq war was “split.” He compared that to today’s climate, which he said is not in support of engaging in civil war with any other country.
Beck went on to say the support for acting in Syria is really only for actions against the Islamic State, but he said that the U.S. government is using the terror group as a “pawn.” Beck recently explained his belief that — instead of defeating the Islamic State — the U.S. is using them to take Assad out of power.
These claims are not new for Beck. The radio host made similar statements in 2014 when President Barack Obama pushed to arm the Syrian rebels: “Make no mistake, we are not at war with ISIS. We are a nation at war, or preparing to go to war, with Assad, period.”
The full episode of The Glenn Beck Program, along with many other live-streaming shows and thousands of hours of on-demand content, is available on just about any digital device. Click here to watch every Glenn Beck episode from the past 30 days for just $1!
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A Bloomington, Minn., mom became the star of a viral video for making a remarkable half-court basket.
According to KSDK-TV, during a school fundraiser at Bethany Academy for Kids Against Hunger, the student who raised the most money was given the opportunity to win half off of their tuition if they could make a half-court basket.
Grace Ramey raised the most money, and she enlisted her mom, Angela, to help her win the prize.
Mom and daughter each missed a shot. On their third attempt, Angela took a deep breath and made a shot that fell short of the basket.
But then the ball bounced — through the hoop.
“I was like, my gosh, made it in! That’s incredible!” Grace told KSDK-TV.
Angela told KSDK that there had been times during her childhood where she was “food insecure,” and she was happy to be a part of the fundraiser to help those in need.
Due to her mom’s incredible shot, Grace will attend Bethany Academy on a half-tuition scholarship next year.
On Wednesday, Salon published an essay that accused “white men” of “killing us” all, alleging that the FBI identifies “right-wing, Christian men” as the United States’ greatest internal threat.
Race, guns and gender – the common denominator at the heart of so many problems – are what we need to talk about https://t.co/XXpEHpnjBB
— Salon.com (@Salon) December 16, 2015
The author, Chauncey Devega, attempted to draw parallels between racism and gun control, saying that guns are “central to the founding of an American society where hierarchies of race and gender were central to the country’s Herrenvolk white racial settler democratic project.”
“Guns helped White America to commit genocide against First Nations peoples and to steal land under the doctrine of Manifest Destiny,” Devega wrote. “The gun maintained Southern society as a white over black racial military dictatorship. The gun was also a tool for white elites to control the working classes and poor.”
Devega went on to accuse “right-wing Christians, mostly men,” as being America’s “greatest internal threat” for domestic terrorism, citing a Mother Jones article that said “white men are approximately 30 percent of the population but account for 60 percent of the mass shootings.”
More from the essay:
The demographics of gun ownership in the United States are also essential to working through this puzzle. Guns are more likely to be owned in the South and “rural” parts of the United States. The American South is the former slave owning white supremacist Confederacy, land of Jim and Jane Crow, and now bastion for Red State America. In American public discourse the word “rural” is code for “white.” Ultimately, patterns of gun ownership help to map out the racial geography and attitudes of the United States.
Devega concluded in the essay that there will be no “effective gun control” until “analysts realize that the gun is a type of totem or fetish object for too many white men.”
“It would appear that in the United States too many white men love guns more than their children, wives, each other, and – as indicated by suicide rates – even themselves,” he added.
Devega has a history of publishing essays like this one. In June, following the Charleston church massacre, he wrote an article on Salon titled “The plague of angry white men: How racism, gun culture & toxic masculinity are poisoning America.”
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It all seems to have started when comedian W. Kamau Bell posted a Facebook message that tore into Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and called out white people to stand against him.
“Donald Trump isn’t a Republican issue or a rich people issue or a human issue. Donald Trump is a white people issue,” Bell wrote a week ago. “… It is time, white people, for you to finally step up and recognize that you … have a responsibility to your race. It is up to you to silence Donald Trump. Don’t just insult him and make fun of him. You have to connect it to your race, recognize that he is embarrassing you as a white person. Simple snark won’t win here. You have to feel it. … Stop acting like Trump isn’t the pinnacle and the result of America’s history and tradition of white supremacy. And again, I don’t care if you had no plans to vote for Trump or anybody, if you are white, he is your problem above all else. Simply put, white people, come get your boy.”
Things then ignited Tuesday after Bell tweeted about a Salon article he helped write on the same topic — and finished it with a suggestion that white people use a hashtag during the GOP debate: #WhitesAgainstTrump.
— W. Kamau Bell (@wkamaubell) December 16, 2015
Soon #whitesagainsttrump was trending and social media users were employing it:
Finally. A group I WANT to be part of. #WhitesAgainstTrump
— martha frankel (@marthafrankel) December 16, 2015
I do not stand with Trump. I do not stand with his hateful speech. I do not stand for his xenophobia. #WhitesAgainstTrump
— Rachel Martin (@rachelmartinart) December 16, 2015
#WhitesAgainstTrump because he's a demagogue who's here thanks to our failings. Time to turn the tide.
— Phil Sanders (@pikHz) December 16, 2015
White. Christian. Military wife, daughter, and mother-in-law. Voter. Educated American woman. I stand with #WhitesAgainstTrump
— Kati Mae (@adorkablekati) December 16, 2015
— Write Like a Unicorn (@minalh) December 16, 2015
Last year, Bell appeared on Bill Maher’s “Real Time” and was duped, along with other guests and the audience, when Maher read an allegedly racist quote that was set-up as coming from Republican Congressman Paul Ryan (Wis.) when it was actually uttered by first lady Michelle Obama.
“When it comes to getting an education, too many of our young people just can’t be bothered. They’re sitting on couches for hours playing video games, watching TV. Instead of dreaming of being a teacher or a lawyer or a business leader, they’re fantasizing about being a baller or a rapper,” Maher said, quoting the first lady.
When Maher let everybody in on the gag, Bell was visibly surprised and needed a moment to come up with a reply — and it was similar to how he began his Facebook post on Trump noted earlier.
“I don’t think this a Republican or Democrat issue, this is a people issue,” Bell said.
“Well, yeah suddenly,” Maher joked, adding that Michelle Obama’s comments sounded like telling black people not to be “lazy.” Bell then defended the first lady, saying, “She was talking to black people — we talk to each other differently than we talk in front of you.”
WASHINGTON (AP) — A uniformed U.S. Secret Service officer who was suspended after being charged in a domestic incident earlier this year was fatally shot in Washington, authorities said.
Officer Arthur Baldwin, 30, died Tuesday after being shot several times, according to the Secret Service and District of Columbia police.
According to police, he was shot shortly before 3 p.m. in a residential neighborhood of southwest Washington, near the Maryland border. Police were looking for three people in connection with the shooting, but have released no information about them or a possible motive.
Police said officers found Baldwin suffering from multiple gunshot wounds after they were flagged down by passers-by. He was taken to a hospital, where he died.
Baldwin, a resident of Upper Marlboro, Maryland, worked in the Secret Service’s Foreign Missions Branch. He was put on leave and had his security clearance suspended in April following his arrest on a felony charge of first-degree attempted burglary and destruction of property. According to a police report, Baldwin was armed with his service weapon when he tried to break into his girlfriend’s house.
Secret Service spokesman Robert Hoback said he could not comment on whether Baldwin was still under suspension at the time of his death.
“We express our condolences to the family of our fallen employee,” the Secret Service said in a statement.
Baldwin was scheduled for trial in February, and his most recent court appearance was Tuesday morning, a few hours before he was shot, according to court records. His attorney did not immediately return a message Wednesday.
A cybersecurity rider likely to be included in the $1.1 trillion spending bill is drawing fire from members of both the right and the left who are concerned it would enhance the government’s surveillance power.
“Once again, members of Congress are using the government funding bill to pursue their extremist agendas,” Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement Wednesday. “Sneaking damaging and discriminatory riders into a must-pass bill usurps the democratic process and is irresponsible.”
The ACLU and, separately, a coalition of conservative organizations, are concerned about privacy issues in that bill that would allow technology companies to share private consumer information with the FBI, the National Security Agency and other government agencies. Further, the information could be used for other criminal prosecutions unrelated to cybersecurity or terrorism, according to critics.
Earlier this year, Congress rolled back the controversial NSA metadata collection program, which was first brought to light by fugitive leaker Edward Snowden. President Barack Obama signed the bill.
Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) is opposing the omnibus bill on a number of fronts.
“It includes unrelated provisions, like increasing the government’s bulk collection of citizens’ personal data, while it does nothing to address the big issues of the day like enhancing American security and entitlement reform.
The provisions in the omnibus spending bill likely to be approved this week “are unlikely to increase the government’s ability to detect, intercept, and thwart cybersecurity attacks, yet would decrease accountability and public trust,” a letter from four conservative groups — FreedomWorks, Niskanen Center, R Street Institute and TechFreedom — to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) claimed.
“Strengthening cybersecurity should not come at the expense of exposing Americans’ personal information to malicious agents,” the letter says. “Nor should it be necessary to extend law enforcement use authorizations to non-cybersecurity purposes.”
The letter said any cybersecurity legislation attached to a “must-pass” government funding bill should include several safeguards, such as, “Clearly establishing [Department of Homeland Security] as the sole (present and future) portal for information sharing. Under no circumstance should a portal be set up at a law enforcement agency, such as the FBI, or any national security agency, including the NSA, the [Office of Director of National Intelligence], or the CIA. Nor should information be automatically shared with the NSA and [Department of Defense].”
Rya spokeswoman Ashlee Strong told TheBlaze that a version of these reforms have already passed the House and Senate.
“These reforms went through both the House and the Senate,” Strong said. “There are significant privacy protections and this is a voluntary program to better share information.”
Both the House and Senate took action this session on a version of cybersecurity legislation, while President Barack Obama has advocated for more government action, after several public and private sector hackings. The Office of Personnel Management as well as private companies such as Home Depot, Target, Anthem and Sony, were victims of high-profile breaches. The Government Accountability Office reported that DHS has no strategy to deal with cyber attacks. In February, Obama announced the establishment of the Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center.
The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, which already passed the Senate and the text expected to be wrapped into the broad omnibus bill, is different from House cyber legislation that allowed consumers to take legal action if the government misuses their data, wrote Ryan Radia, associate director of technology studies at the free market Competitive Enterprise Institute.
“CISA lacks a key safeguard to prevent government abuse: a private right of action that lets people sue the government if they’re injured when an agency misuses personal information it receives from a company for cybersecurity reasons,” Radia wrote. “Unlike CISA, both House bills include a private right of action, and for good reason. Without it, Americans would have to rely on government agencies to effectively and reliably police themselves—in spite of all the evidence that such ‘internal’ safeguards simply do not work.”
Swedish police are investigating notes left in mailboxes in several cities across the country threatening those who do not practice Islam with death, according to a report by the Daily Mail.
The credibility of the notes is under investigation by Swedish authorities. The notes bear an “ISIS” signature and the terrorist group’s flag.
According to a translation by the Daily Mail, the notes read:
In the name of Allah, the merciful, full of grace. You who are not believers will be decapitated in three days in your own house. We will bomb your rotten corpses afterwards.
‘You must choose between these three choices:
1. Convert to Islam.
2. Pay the jizya for protection.
3. Or else, you will be decapitated.
‘The police will not prevent or save you from you being murdered. (Death comes to all of you).’
Jizya is a tax imposed on non-believers.
Per the Daily Mail, Sweden has accepted more than 200,000 Syrian refugees this year and “tensions have been mounting” in the country.
School officials at a Biloxi, Mississippi, school district are apologizing after they made an elementary student change out of a shirt that was meant to empower her and make her feel less self-conscious about her looks.
Sharika Jolly, the young girl’s mother, told WLOX-TV that her daughter had been feeling down about her appearance. In an effort to make her feel better, she bought Makiyah-Jae, her daughter, a shirt emblazoned with “black girls rock” from a nonprofit organization that works to empower and mentor young black women.
“Before she wanted her hair straightened and colored blonde,” Jolly told WLOX. “I’m like, ‘No, baby. That’s not you. This is who you are. You don’t have to be like anyone else but yourself.’ And I feel like she should be comfortable in her own skin.”
But one day, her daughter went to school wearing the shirt and returned wearing a completely different one.
WLOX reported that Makiyah-Jae had worn the shirt to Popps Ferry Elementary school multiple times in the past, but for some reason, school officials flagged the shirt as inappropriate in this one instance.
“When I asked him what was the reason for him taking the shirt off of her, he said, ‘You’re right. It’s not in the policy. Nowhere in the policy does it state that the shirt is out of dress code,’” Jolly told WLOX of her call with the school principal. ”He said they made a judgment call, then I proceeded to ask well who are the judges judging my 8-year-old. And he said ‘Well, I’m the principal, so I made the call.’”
Biloxi Schools Superintendent Arthur McMillan told WLOX that two days after calls with other officials, including administrators at the school district, Jolly’s family received an apology. He said that the principal was trying to be politically correct and avoid any sort of conflict or offend anyone. Yet in doing so, he said, the principal overreacted.
“We probably overreached in this situation, but we make many decisions every day. Sometimes with decisions we make even as parents, we go back and look and think I wish I’d made that decision different. I think that’s the situation here,” McMillan told WLOX. “If he could make that decision again, he’d probably say ‘Hey, you know that’s not a big deal,’ but you’re always guarding against how do we not offend anybody.”
According to BlackGirlsRock, Inc., the nonprofit organization serves to encourage black women to become leaders as well as boost the women’s self-esteem and self-worth. The organization seeks to lift up the women through leadership, education, and positive identity development.
A Virginia school district is reportedly defending an assignment in which public school students were instructed to practice calligraphy by reproducing the shahada — the First Pillar of Islam — which states, “There is no god but Allah. Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”
Angry parents claim that students at Riverheads High School in Augusta County–Greenville, Virginia, weren’t given the translation of the calligraphy assignment, which was in Arabic and was handed out during a world geography class.
But officials with Augusta County Public Schools have said that there was no attempt to indoctrinate children, as some critics have charged.
— Fox News Opinion (@fxnopinion) December 15, 2015
Consider parent Kimberly Herndon, who organized a forum on Monday at Good News Ministries church in Greenville, Virginia, that saw around 100 people show up to discuss the issue. Herndon unleashed a strong rebuke against the school assignment, the News Leader reported.
“That’s why we need to join together. If my truth can not be spoken in schools, I don’t want false doctrine spoken in schools. That’s what keeps it even across the board,” she said, taking specific aim at the teacher. ”She gave up the Lord’s time. She gave it up and gave it to Muhammad.”
Others agreed that similar assignments surrounding the Bible would have not been permitted, and questioned why a Muslim-themed assignment was allowed. The district, though, has attempted to temper these criticisms.
“Neither these lessons, nor any other lesson in the world geography course, are an attempt at indoctrination to Islam or any other religion, or a request for students to renounce their own faith or profess any belief,” the district told conservative commentator Todd Starnes.
Officials continued, “The statement presented as an example of the calligraphy was not translated for students, nor were students asked to translate it, recite it or otherwise adopt or pronounce it as a personal belief.”
Female students were also invited to try on a headscarf during a discussion about the modest garbs that Muslim women often wear — another point of contention that frustrated parents, according to Starnes.
And students were reportedly also shown copies of the Koran as well, though the News Leader reported that the assignment is within acceptable standards for the Virginia Standards of Learning when it comes to exploring monotheistic religions.
The situation first made headlines after some students refused to take part in the assignment and parents subsequently caught wind of it. Some families are reportedly so angry that they will not permit their kids to complete the course with the teacher in question.
(H/T: Todd Starnes)
Editor’s Note: The story has been changed to reflect the fact that, despite having a Staunton mailing address, Riverheads High School is in Augusta County–Greenville, Virginia and is part of the affiliated school district.
Twice Mark Riedesel’s packages disappeared from his front porch — and that was all it took.
The Davenport, Iowa, man decided to take action after two packages were taken from his house by “porch pirates,” those who steal packages straight from homeowners’ doorsteps, according to WQAD-TV. Riedesel ordered a toy for his cat, and when that package never showed up, he ordered a second one.
“I never found the first package, so I had them send me a new package. And that disappeared within the five-hour space it was delivered,” he told WQAD.
Determined to alleviate the problem and catch the thief — or thieves — Riedesel set up a small camera on his front door and planted an empty box on his porch as bait. And like that last stolen package, it took only a few hours to attract somebody.
WQAD reported that a woman in a pink hoodie is seen on camera rummaging through the bait box. She went through it twice, in order to ensure that it really was empty, and then left. Riedesel said he did not recognize the woman, especially as the video is dark and grainy.
“I figured, if she’s taking packages from my porch, then more than likely, more packages are being stolen,” Riedesel said.
Riedesel said he isn’t worried about the money he is losing — “it’s just a cat toy, not a lot of money” — but more so, it’s the principle of the matter.
“I think it’s terrible. People just walking around stealing stuff. It’s not right,” he said.
The homeowner has filed a report with Davenport Police Department.
Dana Loesch tore into Democrats Tuesday night in a fiery rant on the “godless left,” taking aim elected officials and the New York Daily News for “mocking prayers” and “attacking” the National Rifle Association.
“If you have a problem with being called the godless left, maybe don’t be the godless left,” Loesch charged on The Dana Show Tuesday. “[Y]ou had the New York Daily News, you had elected officials and you had journalists mocking people who were simply asking for prayers — mocking them.”
But the show host’s harangue continued, taking shots at the federal government’s current refugee vetting process, the State Department policy blocking the government from screening suspects social media accounts, and the left’s “attack” on the NRA.
During her intense commentary, Loesch set her sights specifically on the secret U.S. policy that blocks the federal government from reviewing the social media postings of foreign citizens who apply for U.S. visas — a prohibition that both President Barack Obama and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson supported in 2014.
“Because Jeh Johnson was so obsessed with political correctness and so obsessed with optics — which I’m sure is going to be of great comfort to the 14 families who lost people in San Bernardino that day — I’m sure they’ll find great comfort in the fact that Jeh Johnson did all he could to make sure that DHS was beyond reproach in terms of politically correct optics.”
Loesch blamed the left for wanting to “lower the criteria” for letting “every Tom, Dick and Harry from every hotbed terrorist activity cell around the world” into the U.S. The show host went to to say she is “really tired” of hearing attacks on the NRA and is “sickened” by the administration’s failure to keep the United States safe.
“[The government's] No. 1 job is to keep Americans safe — they didn’t do it,” Loesch said. “And now they want to make sure that you’re not able to protect yourself to pick up their slack.”
“I also have a major problem with all these tragedy dry-humping whores,” Loesch continued emphatically. “[I]‘m not watching my language because it’s about time somebody call you out for what you are. You sicken me.”
Watch Loesch’s furious rant:
Follow Tré Goins-Phillips (@tregp) on Twitter
When MSNBC’s Chris Matthews hit Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump about his past assertions that President Barack Obama may not be a legitimate president — presumably tied to Trump’s doubts that Obama was born in the United States — Trump was mum on the matter.
“Is Donald Trump honest when he says that Barack Obama isn’t a legitimate president?” Matthews asked him Tuesday night.
“I don’t talk about that anymore,” Trump replied, adding that if he does answer the question, then “that’s all people want to talk about.”
“We Catholics believe in confession,” Matthews pressed. “You say you were wrong, and you move on.” Then he dug deeper into Trump, asking if he really believes Obama isn’t a legitimate president.
Trump wasn’t going there: “I don’t want to answer the question.”
“I do think that’s a blemish,” Matthews told Trump as the interview drew to a close. “I think it’s your original sin. I’m an American. I think the president should be respected. And I think there’s a little ethnic aspect to it. I don’t like it. He’s African-American, and we’re saying he’s not a real president. I don’t like that. It’s not a good thing about you. You’re a mixed bag.”
As Matthews poured it on, Trump smiled and repeatedly said, “I understand” and “I know how you feel.”
Trump and Matthews have sparred over this issue before.
Ted Cruz stuck to his strategy of not attacking Donald Trump during Tuesday night’s Republican debate — and the Texas senator’s answer when pressed on whether the current 2016 GOP front-runner can be trusted earned him the top Google search traffic spike of the night, according to Google Trends.
IJReview points out that Cruz garnered the biggest Las Vegas debate search bump at 10:52 p.m., during an answer about whether he thinks the billionaire businessman can be trusted with the United States nuclear arsenal.
“What I said in private is exactly what I’ll say here,” Cruz said. “Which is that the judgment that every voter is making of every one of us up here is who has the experience, who has the vision, who has the judgment to be commander in chief.”
Cruz added that the U.S. needs a commander in chief “who does what Ronald Reagan did with communism,” setting out a global strategy to defeat the ideology.
Listen to his response here:
However, Trump won Google overall throughout the debate and was the most-searched candidate in every state, according to Google:
As the top Republican candidates for president were battling it out on the debate stage in Las Vegas Tuesday night, another candidate, a Democrat, made a very popular announcement.
The hit Netflix show “House of Cards” announced during a commercial break that the long-awaited season four would make its debut March 4, 2016.
— House of Cards (@HouseofCards) December 16, 2015
The announcement was prefaced with a realistic campaign ad that featured sweeping shots of America, citizens hard at work, military fighter jets and families, with a voiceover that said, “It’s a new day in America.”
The ad then cut to “President Francis J. Underwood” in his television Oval Office where he says, “America, I’m only getting started.”
The March 4 debut of season four will take place right in the middle of the busy, real-world primary season, or just three days after “Super Tuesday,” when 12 states will hold their primaries.
Follow the author of this story on Twitter and Facebook:
Two men allegedly posing as Syrian refugees in an Austrian migrants’ shelter were arrested over the weekend on suspicion of being connected to the terrorist attacks in Paris last month, an Austrian state prosecutor announced Wednesday.
State prosecutor’s office spokesman Robert Holzleitner said that the men are suspected of “participation in a terrorist organization,” as investigators tried to determine their connection with the Paris attacks, the Associated Press reported.
While Austrian officials offered few details other than that the suspects arrived in Europe from the Middle East, Reuters quoted the Austrian newspaper Kronen Zeitung, which reported that the men, who are of French, Algerian and Pakistani origins, used fake Syrian passports to enter Europe via Greece.
According to the report, the two entered Greece along with other members of the Paris attack squad.
Meanwhile, another Austrian newspaper, Salzburger Nachrichten, said the two men arrested in Salzburg were in contact with the Paris attackers while in Austria.
During the Nov. 13 attacks at multiple locations in the French capital, 130 people were killed. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack.
The assailants traveled freely through multiple countries in the European Union, sparking a debate over European open borders and the screening of migrants arriving from Middle Eastern countries where the Islamic State group is active.
A conservative legal firm is pushing back against a public school district’s decision to “censor” an elementary school production of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” after a family’s complaint reportedly led officials to remove all religious references from the show.
The Alliance Defending Freedom sent a letter to Johnson County Schools in Paintsville, Kentucky, this week, imploring officials there to ignore the sole complaint that was reportedly received about the gospel message presented in the popular play, which based on Charles Schulz’s revered TV special, “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”
The production, which is set to unfold at W.R. Castle Elementary School, will be amended to remove any religious references — a decision that has left many students, parents and members of the cast “dismayed,” according to a statement from the law firm.
After all, there’s a famous scene in “A Charlie Brown Christmas” in which character Linus Van Pelt directly recites from the Bible, reading Luke 2:8-14 in an effort to communicate the true meaning of Christmas to Charlie Brown. While it’s beloved by many, the scene is likely to cause contention among those who believe that it violates the First Amendment to permit such a scene in a public school play.
Superintendent Tom Salyer’s announcement about the removal of religious content has sparked controversy and protests, with parents picketing outside of the board of education building on Monday, according to WSAZ-TV.
“As superintendent of Johnson County Schools, I recognize the significance of Christmas and the traditions and beliefs associated with this holiday,” he said in a statement. “Over the past few days, there have been several rumors indicating that there would be no Christmas plays this year at our elementary schools.”
While Salyer said that Christmas plays will continue, they will now “follow appropriate regulations.”
“The U.S. Supreme Court and the 6th Circuit are official capacities and during school activities. However, our district is fully committed to promote the spirit of giving and concern for our fellow citizens that help define the Christmas holiday,” he continued. “With core values such as service, integrity, leadership, and commitment, our staff and students will continue to proudly represent our district as recently demonstrated by our many student successes.”
The Alliance Defending Freedom is pushing back, though, saying that there is no need to amend the content of Christmas shows.
“Schools should not have to think twice about whether they can allow students to perform a classic Christmas production simply because it contains biblical references,” attorney Matt Sharp said in a statement. “‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ has become an iconic Christmas story and tradition. Are school officials going to start demanding that other classic productions, such as Shakespearean plays, be censored just because they contain religious references?”
Watch Linus’ speech from Luke 2 in “A Charlie Brown Christmas” below:
The Alliance Defending Freedom letter alleges that there is no First Amendment violation for simply allowing kids to learn about the origins of Christmas, noting that the contents of the play mirror what kids see in the TV special.
The firm also offered legal support to the district, pending any potential lawsuits.
MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough speculated on Wednesday that GOP frontrunners Donald Trump and Ted Cruz may have made an “inside deal” against the Republican establishment. He said the candidates’ behavior during Tuesday night’s debate planted the idea in his head.
“After the debate, I just started thinking, ‘this was an inside deal.’ You’ve got Trump and Cruz that were kind of hitting each other — but they see now that they are locked in first and second place,” he said, “Notice, everybody on the stage was attacking everybody, but the top two guys.”
He continued, “So Trump goes after Jeb, Cruz goes after Rubio — the establishment’s two favorite candidates. And they refuse to touch each other. It smacked of an inside deal.”
Scarborough said such a deal is a “smart political move” for both candidates.
“They either made a direct or an indirect deal,” he added.
Watch the segment via MSNBC: