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  • Hot List: Too Hot For Their Own Good?
    Posted March 20, 2014 at 4:59 pm by Amy Holmes

    Comments (21)

    Amy Holmes takes a look at some people who claimed they were fired because of their appearance:

  • Ted Cruz Invokes Watergate in Blasting DOJ’s Probe of IRS Scandal
    Posted March 20, 2014 at 4:48 pm by Fred Lucas

    Comments (88)

    Sen. Ted Cruz made references to the Nixon administration and Watergate after the Justice Department declined to name a special prosecutor to probe the IRS targeting scandal in place of the Democratic donor who is currently leading the investigation.

    Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) speaks at the Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators’ state Capitol day event, Tuesday, March 18, 2014, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

    “The investigator is a partisan Democrat who has donated over $6,000 to President Obama and Democrat causes,” Cruz said in a statement. “Just as nobody would trust John Mitchell to investigate Richard Nixon, nobody should trust a partisan Obama donor to investigate the IRS’s political targeting of President Obama’s enemies.”

    Mitchell was one of Nixon’s attorneys general and was a key figure in the Watergate scandal that led to Nixon’s demise.

    A letter to Cruz from Peter J. Kadzik, principal deputy assistant to Attorney General Eric Holder, said the DOJ would not appoint a special prosecutor.

    “We have concluded that such an appointment is not warranted,” Kadzik wrote. “The investigation has been and will continue to be conducted by career prosecutors and law enforcement professionals in accordance with all department policies and procedures that are designed to protect the integrity of an ongoing criminal investigation.”

    In January, Cruz formally asked Holder to appoint a special prosecutor to independently investigate the matter. Justice Department attorney Barbara Bosserman is leading the departmental probe of the IRS targeting conservative groups.

    Bosserman donated at least $6,750 to President Barack Obama’s campaigns and to the Democratic National Committee. Bosserman was an Obama donor in the early stages of the president’s 2008 primary campaign Hillary Clinton.

    Cruz said the reputation of the Justice Department deserves better.

    “Eric Holder has chosen to reject the bipartisan tradition of the Department of Justice of putting rule of law above political allegiance,” Cruz said. “Both Nixon administration Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Clinton administration Attorney General Janet Reno appointed special prosecutors whose integrity was beyond reproach; Eric Holder should do likewise.”

    The May 2013 admission by the IRS that it had been giving extra scrutiny to conservative and Tea Party groups came to pre-empt a scathing inspector general report. Then-IRS Acting Commission Stephen Miller and IRS tax-exempt division head Lois Lerner stepped down from their positions.

    Lerner has twice invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in declining to answer questions about the scandal before Congress.

    During a January interview, President Barack Obama attributed the problems to “boneheaded” decisions by IRS employees and said there was “not a smidgen of corruption.”

  • Listen to Entire Explosive Exchange That Ended With Officers Shooting a Potentially Suicidal Man Armed With a BB Pistol
    Posted March 20, 2014 at 4:35 pm by Jason Howerton

    Comments (110)

    When police officers in Grand Rapids, Mich., were dispatched to check on the welfare of a potentially suicidal 19-year-old man on Jan. 14, the explosive altercation ended in gunshots. Police say one of the officers felt threatened when the man pulled what appeared to be a handgun.

    Though it turned out to be an unloaded BB gun, one of the three officers on the scene fired at James Spivey, hitting him in the arm and abdomen. The Grand Rapids Press has obtained audio captured on a dashboard camera that helps explain how the situation spun out of control.

    Immediately following the shooting, which left the 19-year-old hospitalized for a month, officers are heard in the audio responding with concern for Spivey’s well-being. One of the officers also outlines why he felt threatened in the dramatic recording.

    “It looked real. There was no orange tip. I didn’t see anything that would indicate that it was a fake gun. I believed that that that was a real, black semi-automatic gun,” he says.

    The Grand Rapids Press has more details on the incident:

    Before the shooting, the intensity ratcheted up quickly when Spivey became agitated during the officers’ questioning about whether he had harmed himself.

    The three arriving officers – Benjamin Hawkins, Joshua Mollan and Justin Kribs – at first speak with Spivey through a closed window. An officer asks if there’s anything he can help Spivey with and if he has any weapons in the home. Spivey answers that it’s confidential and that he’s safe in his own home.

    The officer tells Spivey they need him to open the door so they can see that he’s OK. The door opens and they ask to check his arms for cuts.

    The man grew increasingly agitated as officers questioned him. At one point, Spivey retreated to the second floor of the apartment, prompting officers to enter the residence.

    “Everything’s going to be alright, man,” one of the cops says.

    “No it’s not!” Spivey screams back. He later tells the officers he’s not going to kill himself, he just wants them to leave him alone.

    Screengrab via MLive.com

    Screengrab via MLive.com

    The situation reached its nearly fatal climax when Spivey reportedly came running down the stairs holding a BB pistol, which officers thought was a real gun.

    “Gun! He’s got a gun!” an officer shouts.

    “The officers retreat toward the front door, and two take cover in a bathroom. Spivey advances toward them and Kribs yells at him to drop the gun before firing three times, according to the legal opinion,” the report adds.

    Police later found out he was carrying an unloaded .177-caliber CO2-powered pistol.

    “You’re going to be all right, buddy,” an officer is heard telling the man.

    Spivey reportedly suffers from bipolar disorder and depression and was not charged in the incident.

  • John McCain Just Responded in a Hilarious Way to Russia’s Sanctions Against the U.S.
    Posted March 20, 2014 at 4:23 pm by Becket Adams

    Comments (119)

    Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Thursday brushed off the news that Russia had imposed sanctions against him and eight other American officials in retaliation for U.S. action against Moscow.

    Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) speaks at the American Israeli Political Action Committee conference in Washington, D.C., March 3, 2014. (AFP/Getty Images/Jim Watson)

    Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) speaks at the American Israeli Political Action Committee conference in Washington, D.C., March 3, 2014. (AFP/Getty Images/Jim Watson)

    “I guess this means my spring break in Siberia is off, my Gazprom stock is lost, and my secret bank account in Moscow is frozen,” McCain said in a statement. “Nonetheless, I will never cease my efforts on behalf of the freedom, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine, including Crimea.”

    Russia’s government said the sanctions aimed at McCain and others were in response to new sanctions from the White House announced Thursday.

    “There should be no doubt: for every hostile attack, we will respond appropriately,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry warned in a prepared statement. The sanctioned Americans are barred from entering territory controlled by the Russian Federation.

    Along with McCain, the sanctioned U.S. officials include House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio); Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.); Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Dan Coats (R-Ind.); White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer; and deputy national security advisers Ben Rhodes and Caroline Atkinson.

    “If standing up for #democracy & sovereignty in #Ukraine means I’m #SanctionedByPutin, I’ll take it,” Menendez said in a tweet.

    “Proud to be included on a list of those willing to stand against Putin’s aggression,” Boehner tweeted.

    The list of Americans who have been sanctioned by Russia’s government. Note Senator Reid’s name has been misspelled (Image source: Zero Hedge)

    U.S. officials who have been sanctioned by Russia’s government. Note that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s name has been misspelled. (Image source: Zero Hedge)

    The new U.S. sanctions go after senior Russian officials much closer to Russian President Vladimir Putin than in the initial round handed down Monday. The sanctions are in retaliation for Russia’s moves to annex Crimea from Ukraine.

    “We’ve seen an illegal referendum in Crimea and illegitimate moves by the Russians to annex Crimea and dangerous risks of escalation with threats to Ukrainian personnel in Crimea and threats to southern and eastern Ukraine as well,” Obama said Thursday. “These are all choices the Russian government has made, choices that have been rejected by the international community as well as the government of Ukraine.”

    Here’s a complete list of sanctioned Russian officials, from the Treasury Department:

    Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter

  • See the Line Drive a Pitcher Took to the Face That Was So Bad He Now Needs a Plate in His Head
    Posted March 20, 2014 at 3:48 pm by Liz Klimas

    Comments (44)

    GOODYEAR, Ariz. (TheBlaze/AP) — You wouldn’t think to call Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman “lucky” if you saw the line drive he took to the face Wednesday. Doctors say his injuries could have been much worse, even though he needed a permanent plate in his head as a result.

    Image source: MLB video

    Image source: MLB video

    Image source: MLB video

    Image source: MLB video

    Chapman underwent surgery to repair one broken bone above his left eye but has no other serious injuries. Team doctor Tim Krenchek called Chapman “a very lucky guy.”

    Krenchek said a metal plate will be inserted in the bone and will remain there permanently. He says Chapman has a very mild concussion but no other brain injury and no injury to his eye.

    “Honestly when I saw it I wanted to cry,” catcher Brayan Pena told ESPN. “That was my first feeling because it was very scary. It was very scary because I saw the line drive going straight for his face, and then I saw him bleeding and kicking and moving around the way he was.”

    Image source: MLB video

    Image source: MLB video

    Watch the harrowing moment when Kansas City’s Salvador Perez lined Chapman’s 99 mph fastball into the pitcher’s face during the spring training game:

    This angle shows the reaction of Pena and Perez directly afterward:

    Chapman collapsed to the ground, moaning in pain and kicking his feet, then was taken off the field by stretcher.

    In this image provided by Mark Sheldon Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman is taken off the field after being hit by a line drive Wednesday night March 19, 2014, another frightening incident involving a pitcher being struck by a batted ball. Chapman broke bones above his left eye and nose. He is undergoing further testing at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center, where he will spend the night for observation, according to a statement from the Reds. (AP/Mark Sheldon)

    In this image provided by Mark Sheldon Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman is taken off the field after being hit by a line drive Wednesday night March 19, 2014, another frightening incident involving a pitcher being struck by a batted ball. Chapman broke bones above his left eye and nose. He is undergoing further testing at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center, where he will spend the night for observation, according to a statement from the Reds. (AP/Mark Sheldon)

    Pena was with Chapman Thursday morning and said the pitcher was in good spirits.

    According to ESPN, Chapman might be back on the field practicing in a few weeks. The sports station also noted that Major League Baseball approved a protective cap for pitchers’ voluntary use but most on the field have not been chosen to test it out. This hat would not have protected Chapman where he was hit.

  • Glenn Beck’s Docs Really Wrecked His Day: ‘Well, Basically, You Are Being Poisoned’
    Posted March 20, 2014 at 3:32 pm by Erica Ritz

    Comments (689)

    Glenn Beck has been plagued by health issues for years, many of which, he revealed on his radio program Thursday, have flummoxed his team of doctors.

    Beck recently decided to go to the Carrick Brain Center in Texas in the hope they could provide some answers. Little did he know the news they would give him would require a major lifestyle change.

    “So they ran all these tests, and they meet with me yesterday,” Beck began. “And they said, ‘Well, basically, you are being poisoned.’”

    Beck’s previous doctors had said the same thing, but his team was unable to determine who or what was poisoning the multimedia personality. Beck jokingly suggested it was billionaire progressive George Soros.

    Glenn Beck speaks on his radio program March 20, 2014. (Photo: TheBlaze TV)

    Glenn Beck speaks on his radio program March 20, 2014. (Photo: TheBlaze TV)

    But the Carrick Brain Center said it is actually the food itself that is “poisoning” Beck.

    “And it’s a long complex thing,” Beck said. “I have to change my diet entirely. It is this bizarre string of events that have brought me to this place to where my body is actually, like, eating itself.”

    Beck said his immune system is treating certain foods — foods that many others can eat with no problems –  as toxins, triggering extreme inflammation and pain. A fan of ice cream and processed food, he grimaced and asked the doctors if he would have to go gluten free as part of the change.

    “And they went, ‘Yeah, gluten-free would be a good place to start…’” Beck said grimly.

    Beck proceeded to read a list of some of the products he can no longer eat:

    “Any kind of sugar, including agave, candy, chocolate, corn syrup, honey, maple syrup, molasses or sucrose … Dried fruits … Grains, including amaranth, barley, buckwheat, bulgur, corn, couscous, comet, millet, oats, rye, rice, spelt, wheat … All nuts and seeds … Cold cuts, condiments, emulsifiers, fillers, chewing gum … All dairy products and eggs, including butter, cheeses, cow’s milk, creams, any frozen dessert, goat milk, margarine, mayonnaise … All beans and legumes … Tomatoes, tomato sauce, all canned foods, coffee, and processed foods.”

    “I’m definitely selling my Kraft stock,” Beck’s co-host Stu Burguiere joked. Pat Gray added: “So what can you eat? Kale?”

    Beck, still reeling from the lengthy list, responded: “I just don’t know how to do it. I just really don’t know how to do it.”

    He proceeded to put out a call for a “really creative” chef who heard the list and knows they can still make “fantastic” meals with the foods that remain.

    “You’ll be traveling the world with me,” Beck said, continuing to advertise the position. “You get to be by my side all the time. Figure the fun you’re gonna have! Because I’m gonna like you a lot. Slop master.”

    Complimentary Clip from TheBlaze TV

    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. Get it all with a FREE TRIAL.

    This post has been updated

  • School District Announces Good News for Boy Bullied Over ‘My Little Pony’ Backpack
    Posted March 20, 2014 at 3:30 pm by Dave Urbanski

    Comments (283)

    A North Carolina school district said Thursday it now supports a bullied 9-year-old in bringing his “My Little Pony” backpack to school after he was previously told to leave it at home.

    Grayson Bruce picked the bag from his favorite show, but was teased by classmates who said “My Little Pony” is for girls. His mother, Noreen Bruce, said a school counselor told Grayson he should keep it out of sight to avoid bullies.

    “We sincerely regret that the issue of being told to leave the bookbag at home was perceived as blaming Grayson,” Jason Rhodes, assistant communications director for Buncombe County Schools in Asheville, N.C., said in a statement Thursday. “While that was not the intent, the perception became reality. We support Grayson bringing the bookbag to school.”

    Rhodes said the district has “discussed a number of options to consider in moving forward for Grayson,” all of which include “a safety transition plan and an allowance for Grayson to bring the bookbag to school.”

    Grayson and his mother Noreen Bruce went on The Glenn Beck Program Wednesday to discuss how he’d been bullied over his “My Little Pony” lunch bag.

    Image source: TheBlaze TV

    Image source: TheBlaze TV

    Beck was so touched by Grayson’s situation Monday that he put “My Little Pony” dolls on his desk as a show of support.

    Beck on his Monday radio show. (Image source: TheBlaze TV)

    Glenn Beck put “My Little Pony” dolls on his desk during his radio show Monday. (Image source: TheBlaze TV)

    “I thought it was important to send a very clear message to Grayson and everybody else that it’s okay to be different,” Beck said Monday. “While they in Common Core are trying to make everybody exactly the same, it is critical that you remain different. It is critical that you say, ‘This is who I am, and if you don’t like it, go pound sand. I don’t really care.’”

    By Wednesday, Bruce and his mother were in Dallas at TheBlaze TV studios and discussing the issue with Beck, who said he wasn’t so much concerned about “My Little Pony” as about highlighting someone who took a stand for who he is.

    Grayson Bruce talking with Beck on set of TheBlaze TV on Wednesday. (Image source: TheBlaze TV)

    Grayson Bruce talking with Beck on set of TheBlaze TV on Wednesday. (Image source: TheBlaze TV)

    Before the school district’s reversal, Noreen Bruce said she pulled Grayson out of school and was handling his education herself.

    “Grayson really didn’t feel safe going back to school,” she told TheBlaze. “He didn’t feel like there was anybody that was on his side. So I applied to do homeschooling … for now.”

    After Thursday’s meeting with the school district, Noreen Bruce said in a statement that “we are considering all options for getting Grayson back in school. We are pleased the school system is working closely with us.”

    In addition, Bruce’s statement noted that she and the district’s director of student services will help organize a parent advisory council on bullying to “make sure that every child feels safe and comfortable at school.”

    The district said it will use this situation in its efforts to address bullying in general and to “continue to work collaboratively with the family toward a resolution that is best for Grayson and his classmates at Candler Elementary School.”

  • Is Russia Dumping Nearly $118 Billion in U.S. Gov’t Bonds?
    Posted March 20, 2014 at 3:15 pm by Becket Adams

    Comments (95)

    The U.S. Federal Reserve’s foreign account holdings recently declined by approximately $118 billion – and it seems likely Russia had something to do with it.

    Russia's President Vladimir Putin attends a congress of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs in Moscow, Russia, on Thursday, March 20, 2014. (AP Photo/ Sergei Chirikov, pool) AP Photo/ Sergei Chirikov, pool

    Russia’s President Vladimir Putin attends a congress of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs in Moscow, Russia, on Thursday, March 20, 2014. (AP)

    First, according to recent data, there was a sharp drop in the amount of U.S. government bonds the Fed holds for foreign accounts, from $3.02 trillion in December to $2.97 trillion by Feb. 26. Next, the amount went from $2.95 trillion on March 5 to about $2.85 trillion on March 12, a decline of roughly $104 billion in just one week.

    Taken together, the Fed’s foreign account holdings fell by 3.5 percent, or $118 billion in the span of just two weeks, putting its total foreign Treasury holdings at a 15-month low, according to the Wall Street Journal.

    The drop would seem to bolster earlier fears that Russia, along with allies like China, could be gearing up for an economic war that could see the U.S. financial system crippled, as noted earlier on TheBlaze TV’s For the Record and by this site as far back as 2011.

    See, rather than a decline, the Fed’s foreign account holdings are expected to increase over time.

    As the U.S. runs deficits, it creates billions of government bonds every year, the Daily Beast noted, and foreign banks have in the past reliably bought up this debt. In fact, in 2013 alone, the aggregate amount of Treasury securities held by foreign banks increased from $2.88 trillion to $3.02 trillion.

    That’s an increase of approximately $130 billion.

    But the past few weeks have seen a sharp and unprecedented decline. It’s important to note that the drop in the Fed’s holdings comes at a time when Western power have sanctioned Russia over its recent action in Ukraine and Crimea.

    And based on recent remarks made by certain Russian officials, as well as warnings from financial experts, it seems likely Russia is the driving force behind recent bond activity.

    “We hold a decent amount of Treasury bonds – more than $200 billion – and if the United States dares to freeze accounts of Russian businesses and citizens, we can no longer view America as a reliable partner,” Russian President Vladimir Putin adviser Serge Glazyev warned this month.

    “We will encourage everybody to dump U.S. Treasury bonds, get rid of dollars as an unreliable currency, and leave the U.S. market,” he added.

    Now, the New York Fed cannot provide detailed information on individual accounts or countries, meaning there are few details available regarding the sudden decrease. So we can’t say with 100 percent certainty that the decline is because of Russia.

    However, as the Daily Beast noted, the Treasury Department’s Treasury International Capital system is a fairly reliable source when it comes to figuring out foreign ownership of U.S. debt by country.

    Russia, for example, held about $165 billion in U.S. government bonds in January, according to Treasury Department’s most recent data. Unfortunately, because the data is updated every six weeks, we won’t know about Russia’s March holdings for quite some time.

    Still, Russia’s January holdings are roughly equal to the amount of U.S. government bonds that have moved recently.

    This could mean two things, the Daily Beast theorized: “Either Russia sold the bonds, and converted the cash back into rubles, Euros, or another currency. Or, it simply moved the bonds away from the Fed to a different custodial account—in Russia, or in the Cayman Islands, or in some offshore banking center where it would be impossible for the U.S. to freeze it.”

    The second option seems more likely, according to a few financial analysts.

    “It all points to a transfer to custodial holdings offshore, rather than a sale,” said Win Thin of Brown Brothers Harriman. “If the Russians had dumped the bonds, you would have seen more of a reaction in the bond market.”

    But there hasn’t been a huge reaction. In fact, the ruble has weakened against the U.S. dollar recently, meaning it’s likely that the government bonds were simply moved offshore.

    Crimean pro-Russian volunteers in military fatigues line up in a square in front of a statue of Vladimir Lenin, next to the Council of Ministers of Crimea’s building, in Simferopol, on March 14, 2014, two days ahead of the referendum over Crimea’s bid to break away from Ukraine and join Russia. (Getty Images)

    Further, it’s worth noting that anything Russia’s central bank does to hurt the U.S. dollar could come back and hurt Russia. Russia relies on U.S. dollars because it relies on oil. See, the rest of the world prefers to buy and sell oil using the dollar, meaning Russia is as dependent on the dollar as it is its oil.

    So like many other countries, Russia’s central bank holds a healthy supply of dollars. It can then take these dollars and buy U.S. government bonds. The bonds are then held at the New York Federal Reserve where the Fed makes sure the investor receives their interest payments.

    All this is to say that the theory involving Russia simply moving the bonds offshore is the most reasonable theory because, again, it could prove detrimental for the country to sell the bonds and possible damage the currency it needs to sell its main export around the world.

    “It’s really hard for Russia to move away from the dollar,” said Win Thin. “It’s just the way their economy is.”

    Still, it’s worth pointing out that if Russia is indeed responsible of for all the bond activity, and it has been shifting bonds offshore, it started doing this as far back as December, a few months before the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis.

    Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter

  • Another Spanking Study Argues Against Physical Discipline of Children — What Do You Think?
    Posted March 20, 2014 at 2:53 pm by Liz Klimas

    Comments (160)

    A new survey of nearly 3,000 families found that 30 percent spank their children as a form of discipline. It’s a punishment the researchers called misguided and noted that a percentage of families who spanked were visited by protective services.

    The joint study out of the University of Michigan and University of Wisconsin surveyed 2,788 families in urban areas over a five-year period, finding that it was relatively common for parents to spank children as young as a year old.

    Image source: William H. Rau/Boston Library/Flickr

    Image source: William H. Rau/Boston Library/Flickr

    Ten percent of all the families surveyed had least one visit by a child protective services agency, but the study published in the journal Child Abuse & Neglect said families who spanked were 33 percent more likely to see a social services visit. University of Michigan social work professor Shawna Lee acknowledged to Reuters that other factors aside from spanking could have resulted in CPS visits as well.

    The researchers said spanking children at a young age could not only be harmful to the child but could lead to poor parental behavior in the future as well. The university cited previous studies that linked spanking with aggression and poor vocabulary skills.

    “Parents should not spank their children — in particular, babies and very young children,” Lee told Reuters.

    Lee recommended parental intervention, such as at early childhood doctor appointments, “to reduce or eliminate spanking has the potential to contribute to the well-being of families and children who are at-risk of becoming involved with the system.”

    The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents use discipline methods other than spanking.

    Let us know what you think of spanking by taking our poll:

    (H/T: MLive)

  • Watch Thursday’s BlazeCast Rewind: Why You Believe What You Believe
    Posted March 20, 2014 at 2:43 pm by Scott Baker

    Comments (1)

    This broadcast with TheBlaze Editor-in-Chief Scott Baker will begin at 3pm ET.

    To join the chat — there is a button on the top right of the player window or you can hover your cursor over the player window for options.

    To ask a question — click the button at the bottom. We’ll be able to display your question or comment in the player window!

    And as always you can leave other comments in the regular comment section below!

  • Poll Worker Who Confessed to Voting Twice for Obama Released From Prison Early
    Posted March 20, 2014 at 2:25 pm by Mike Opelka

    Comments (88)

    The former Ohio poll worker who admitted flat-out to voting twice for President Barack Obama was released from prison early last week after new disclosures about her mental health.

    Melowese Richardson told a news crew very matter-of-factly last year that she filled out two ballots in 2012 in order to make sure her vote for Obama was recorded. She pleaded no contest to voter fraud charges and was sentenced to five years in prison. According to local media reports, the reason for Richardson’s release less than a year into her sentence is her recently disclosed bipolar disorder.

    Image: Facebook

    Melowese Richardson was released from prison early after being convicted of voter fraud. (Image source: WCPO-TV)

    “We believe she plead no contest because she was uncomfortable revealing her mental health issues and this would avoid a trial,” Richardson’s attorney David Singleton told TheBlaze.

    Singleton, the executive director of the Ohio Justice and Policy Center, said his organization decided to file an appeal on Richardson’s behalf.

    Singleton said the five-year prison sentence caught Richardson by surprise, and he speculated that the national attention her case received may have added to the severity of the punishment. As his organization began looking into filing an appeal, he said, Richardson’s bipolar disorder stood out as grounds for a second look.

    “It took some time, but I finally convinced Melowese to allow her mental health records to be released to the court,” Singleton said.

    After reviewing the records, the judge decided to give Richardson five years of probation instead.

    Prior to her conviction, Richardson had been a poll worker since 1998. Under state law, she will be eligible to vote again in the future.

    “In Ohio, felons can vote once their sentence is served, and she’s not barred from working the polls, but I don’t believe she will be a poll worker again,” Singleton said.

    Richardson initially told the media last year that she did not intentionally commit voter fraud, she just wanted to be sure her vote would count. She had also said she intended to fight the charges, “for Mr. Obama and Mr. Obama’s right to sit as president of the United States.”

    (H/T: GOP Daily Dose)

    Follow Mike Opelka (@stuntbrain) on Twitter

  • Are Young Christians ‘Embarrassingly Ignorant’ of Their Faith? Professor Has a Plan to Fix That
    Posted March 20, 2014 at 2:01 pm by Billy Hallowell

    Comments (191)

    A Christian professor is tackling the claim that young believers are “embarrassingly ignorant” of their faith in a new book intended to answer some of theology’s most asked questions.

    Dr. Darrell Bock, professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, joined co-authors Dr. Andreas J. Kostenberger and Dr. Josh Chatraw in tackling atheism, human suffering, perceived Biblical “mistakes” and other related themes in “Truth Matters: Confident Faith in a Confusing World.”

    Credit: ShutterStock.com

    Photo credit: Shutterstock

    Bock recently told TheBlaze that Christianity’s struggle to maintain its voice in U.S. culture might not actually be a bad thing — and highlighted the reasons he believes the faithful have struggled to articulate their religious views.

    The central goal of “Truth Matters” is to help young Christians in particular understand and defend their faith by examining some common critiques of God and the Bible.

    “We believe the church has done a very poor job of helping teens prepare for what they need on the university campus,” Bock said. “And we felt like pastors and youth leaders, not to mention students and parents, needed this basic help and orientation.”

    Bock and his co-authors believe that many young people have been ill-prepared to deal with the scrutiny and tough questions they are sure to face — and that a shallow faith hasn’t enabled them to think deeply about Christianity’s more intricate elements.

    “They are embarrassingly ignorant of our faith,” proclaims the book’s description, referencing experts’ analysis on young Christians.

    Ignorance often leads to doubt, which led Bock to describe why so many young people simply aren’t prepared to handle these ideological and theological battles.

    “There’s just a lot more information out there. There’s a lot more happening in terms of documentaries and specials,” he said. “It’s been happening really since the end of the 1990s … you’ve got a lot more niche channels … most of these shows are done through university settings.”

    The author said that university experts presenting these projects tend to be more secular in nature and less likely to understand Christian theology. But that’s not the only factor at play.

    Bock also said there are many Christians who aren’t attending church today and who are thus not receiving the theological training they need to form solid ideas about the faith.

    “We have a lot of people who don’t go to church regularly,” he said. “What’s needed is making sure the full range of discussion gets out there.”

    Furthermore, Bock believes that the church hasn’t done a very good job of interacting with the broader culture on complex theological issues.

    These dynamics in mind, his goal with “Truth Matters” is to show Christians, both young and old, that they can have true faith in their religious worldview.

    When asked how believers can be sure Christianity is “true,” the author highlighted the faith’s historical narrative.

    “I think if you just look at the roots of how improbable the emergence of Christianity was historically — think about its origins,” Bock said. “It was tucked away in a tiny corner of the Roman Empire … involved people who had no political power whatsoever.”

    Image source: B&H Books

    Image source: B&H Books

    He added, “If you just look at its emergence, that in itself is almost a supernatural story.”

    Bock also discussed some of Christianity’s central figures — people he says were radically changed by the faith. Paul, who had previously persecuted Christians, is perhaps the most prevalent example of the sort of evolution he says belief in Jesus yields.

    According to Bock, other faiths are “more of an ethic than they are a movement,” but that, in Christianity, “God fixes the problem for us,” whereas every other religion urges human beings to “fix the problem for ourselves.”

    “If we were making it up, we’d do the old fashion way and we’d make sure we’d earn what we get,” he said of Christianity.

    Bock also dismissed claims that some of the Bible’s stories were simply concocted.

    “The idea that women would have been created to be witnesses to this event is something that doesn’t work culturally, because women couldn’t be witnesses,” he said of the Bible’s account of Jesus’ death and resurrection. “You wouldn’t have women be the first witnesses at the empty tomb.”

    While Christianity is currently experiencing “a struggle to maintain a voice in the culture” in the U.S. and Europe, Bock said that the faith is actually growing exponentially in other parts of the world.

    “At a global level, Christianity is doing very well … the global perspective is quite positive toward the faith,” Bock said.

    As for those who might lament what they see as increased secularization in the U.S., Bock believes that there are some positives on the horizon, as he said that some “cultural Christians” who have traditionally embraced the faith because it is acceptable to do so have now stopped.

    Rather than contributing to the watering down of the faith, he contends that their exit helps purify it.

    Note: Professor Darrell Bock joined Editor-in-Chief Scott Baker on today’s Blazecast:

    Featured image via Shutterstock

  • Why the NSA Tried to Keep Its Water Use a Secret
    Posted March 20, 2014 at 1:28 pm by Elizabeth Kreft

    Comments (153)

    The National Security Agency wants to keep water usage a secret. Theirs, anyway. Yours, perhaps not.

    However, the federal agency lost its attempt to keep their water records under cover, when the Utah State Records Committee rejected the NSA’s argument and ordered the info released, Wired reported.

    The NSA's massive new data center in Bluffdale, Utah, uses million of gallons of water daily (Associated Press).

    The NSA’s massive new data center in Bluffdale, Utah, uses million of gallons of water daily. (AP)

    Last May, Salt Lake Tribune reporter Nate Carlisle asked for local reports relating to the data center, but when he got his files a few months later, the water usage data had been redacted.

    The NSA attempted to argue that the water usage at its massive Bluffdale, Utah, data center is a matter of national security.

    “By computing the water usage rate, one could ultimately determine the computing power and capabilities of the Utah Data Center,” David Sherman, the NSA’s associate director for policy and records, wrote. In the undated letter, filed with Bluffdale in response to the Tribune’s public records request, Sherman argued the information would make the agency vulnerable.

    “Armed with this information, one could then deduce how much intelligence NSA is collecting and maintaining,” he said.

    From Wired:

    [W]ater usage has become a very contentious issue for the NSA. An anti-government group called the Tenth Amendment Center is calling for Utah to simply cut off the NSA’s water supply, saying that water is the $1.5 billion data center’s “Achilles Heel.” And last month, a state Republican lawmaker named Marc Roberts said he would introduce a bill that would do such a thing.

    But to the local paper, tracking water usage is just part of having an informed debate about the impact of the NSA’s data center, says Carlisle. “We are the second driest state in the nation,” he says. “We’re just in the habit of accounting for water in this state because we have to. There’s just not enough water.

    Early planning documents for the NSA’s data center estimated the facility would use roughly 1.7 million gallons of water per day. Since the center has opened, that number was revised down to 1.2 million gallons, according to the Tribune.

    Do you think the NSA’s water usage should be a matter of national security? Check out the Tenth Amendment Center’s video below, to see what they think:

    (H/T: Wired)

    Follow Elizabeth Kreft (@elizabethakreft) on Twitter.

  • Grieving Mother Continues Fight Against State Forcing Disabled Students to Take Standardized Tests
    Posted March 20, 2014 at 12:56 pm by Liz Klimas

    Comments (55)

    Just a few weeks after her 11-year-old son died, Andrea Rediske had resumed her crusade against Florida’s education requirement that all students — even those who are mentally disabled — take a standardized test.

    Even though Rediske’s son was severely disabled and had brain damage that left him with a limited mental capacity, Ethan still had a special education teacher who his mom says helped enhance his quality of life in a way she couldn’t.

    Last year, Rediske had to fight for Ethan to be granted a waiver to avoid having to take a test that he couldn’t really understand. She was stunned when she had to appeal for an another exemption this year, needing to prove that her son physically couldn’t complete it because he was in a morphine-induced coma and dying. The waiver came the night before Ethan died on Feb. 7.

    Ethan died in Feb. 2014 but his mother is still fighting that severely disabled children and their parents not have to jump through hoops to get exemptions from required standardized tests. (Image source: Andrea Rediske)

    Ethan Rediske died in Feb. 7, 2014, but his mother is still fighting for severely disabled children and their parents to not have to jump through hoops to get exemptions from required standardized tests. (Photo courtesy of Andrea Rediske)

    “I just thought, this is ridiculous. He was dying. We were grieving,” Rediske told TheBlaze. “We were going through such a horrible turmoil and the school was harassing us” for proof that he couldn’t take the Florida Alternative Assessment, the test for children with special needs who would not be appropriately evaluated with the regular Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.

    Rediske is now trying to make sure no parent or child has to go through what her family did again.

    ‘Afterward he would have seizures’

    Some might wonder why a boy in such a mental state, who was cortically blind and had other ailments, had a public school-funded special education teacher. What’s more, even when he was brought home to die last November after suffering a collapsed lung, the teacher started coming again after the holidays as Ethan still hung on.

    Some might say, why bother?

    Rediske said she didn’t have the skills or resources to reach her disabled son the way professional teachers did.

    “They have done things that stimulated his brain,” Rediske said. “When his teacher came into the room he turned his head and smiled. Even on morphine and valium to ease suffering, he would smile at her. She brought joy and beauty and happiness to his last days … you can’t quantify that.”

    Andrea Rediske, her husband and their son Ethan. (Image source: Andrea Rediske)

    Andrea Rediske, her husband and their son Ethan. (Photo courtesy of Andrea Rediske)

    When Ethan had to take the alternative assessment to the FCAT in the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 school year, his mother said the two weeks it took for him to complete the test with a teacher coming for about 45 minutes three times a week were exceedingly stressful for him.

    “Sitting in a wheelchair for long periods of time was bad. It was mentally stressful for him,” Rediske said. “Afterward he would have seizures … It really caused him physical harm sitting in his chair.”

    Aside from the physical effects, Rediske said the test was completely inappropriate for Ethan. There were questions about shoes, alarm clocks and food. Ethan didn’t wear shoes. He wouldn’t have known what an alarm clock was and he didn’t eat food as we would describe it.

    “He’s blind. And they’re showing him pictures of a giraffe, a monkey and an elephant — and asking him which one is the monkey,” Orange County School Board member Rick Roach said, as quoted by Orlando Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell last year. “I’m watching all this and just about to lose my mind.”

    What did Ethan know?

    “His world was our home and our walks,” Rediske told TheBlaze.

    Standardized testing — and alternative testing options for students with special needs — is a federal requirement in all states, not just Florida.

    “Your child’s involvement in the assessment can help inform and enhance classroom instruction by providing information on your child’s areas of strength and/or areas for improvement,” a fact sheet about the alternate test states.

    The Florida Department of Education declined to comment on the testing requirement for severely disabled students, but a spokesman did say that the alternate tests are individualized with input from parents and teachers.

    ‘I won’t stop speaking’

    Image source: Andrea Rediske

    Photo courtesy of Andrea Rediske

    The reason we don’t hear more from parents experiencing issues such as this, Rediske said, is because “they’re exhausted.”

    “To have something like this on top of that is one more dragon that I have to fight,” she said of the test. “I want to be an advocate for parents like me, because they’re exhausted. I will speak to Florida legislators. I will speak to Congress if I have to.”

    Though the mother said she needs time to grieve and recover, she added, “I won’t stop speaking.”

    Most recently, Rediske spoke to the Florida Board of Education about the issue.

    Roach, the school board member, has been helping champion Rediske’s cause. He told TheBlaze that he didn’t think board members knew just how severe things were for Ethan or what the boy looked like until Rediske spoke.

    Roach said he plans to speak with legislators to pass the “Ethan Rediske Act.” He called the test totally meaningless to a child like Rediske’s son.

    “It’s like you and I getting a test in a foreign language we don’t understand. It’s the wrong test, the wrong reason and [gives] zero results,” he said.

    Watch Rediske speak before the board about the act:

    Earlier this month, Pam Stewart, Florida’s education department commissioner, wrote a letter to teachers about the “political efforts to attack assessments by using the tragic situations of children with special needs.”

    While Stewart expressed her “deepest sympathies” to parents of these children, she defended the test requirement.

    “For all students, it is important that we measure progress so that we measure all children regardless of their circumstances,” she wrote.

    Image source: Washington Post

    Image source: Washington Post

    Roach called the letter “outrageous and insensitive.”

    “I think that standardized testing from people like Ethan to honors students in America is the Achilles heel of this whole thing,” Roach said, explaining that he thinks some administrators put too much clout on the tests. “Their entire accountability system is based on that test result.”

    While he’s not entirely against standardized testing, Roach said it needs to be used for what it was designed for.

    “We need to use multiple measures of student progress instead of relying on a single measure,” he added, saying that standardized testing as a “snapshot of you [not] an entire photo album” that is being used in some cases to determine things like labeling of schools and retention.

    This story has been updated.

  • Watch the World’s Fastest Toy Car Set a New Record at 287 MPH
    Posted March 20, 2014 at 12:37 pm by Liz Klimas

    Comments (49)

    Though it’s a small, rudimentary-looking model car, the SST-3B-Falcon made by a high school student in London is nothing to scoff at.

    Samvir Thandi recently set a new record for the car at 287.59 mph. The car actually hit 344 mph on one run, but the new record is the result of an average of two runs, according to Get West London.

    This small rocket-powered car was able to reach an average speed of X. (Image source: YouTube)

    This small rocket-powered car was able to reach an average speed of 287.59 mph. (Image source: YouTube)

    Watch the car’s incredible speed, if you can even spot it:

    This video gives you a closer look at the car:

    The 18-year-old and other budding engineers from the The Heathland School built several model rocket cars, but Thandi’s was the fastest.

    Speed apparently runs in the teen’s blood: His father, Jaswant Thandi, is leading a team to try and break the land-speed record in a larger “supersonic car.”

    “I’m very proud of Samvir. It’s not often a father can watch his son set a world record,” Jaswant Thandi, who is helping 30 schools attempt to break model rocket speed records, told Get West London. ”Before I joined the Bloodhound team he wasn’t interested in engineering but the record attempt has spurred him on and he’s now hoping to study aerospace engineering at Imperial College. Hopefully the project will help inspire many more young engineers.”

    (H/T: Gizmodo)

  • Sixth-Grade Girl Stops Classmate from Cutting Himself — Then Gets a Shocking Punishment
    Posted March 20, 2014 at 12:13 pm by Dave Urbanski

    Comments (241)

    When sixth-grader Adrionna Harris noticed a classmate cutting his arm with a razor blade, she convinced him that his behavior wasn’t a good idea and managed to get the blade from him — and she threw it away.

    Image source: WAVY-TV

    Image source: WAVY-TV

    Apparently no teachers were around during the incident last Thursday, and Harris viewed the circumstances as an emergency.

    Turns out her actions were officially recognized by Bayside Middle School in Virginia Beach, Va. — but Harris won’t be tucking any certificates into a scrapbook.

    She got a notice of a 10-day suspension and threat of expulsion after telling the administration last Friday what happened — and it’s apparently due to the school’s zero-tolerance policy regarding weapons on campus, WAVY-TV in Hampton Roads, Va. reported.

    “I took the razor blade, and then I threw it away immediately…I didn’t carry it around the school…I didn’t use it against anyone…I threw it away,” she told WAVY.

    The razor blade Harris took from her classmate was about this size. (Image source: WAVY-TV)

    The razor blade Harris took from her classmate was about this size. (Image source: WAVY-TV)

    Rachael Harris, Adrionna’s mother, told WAVY she was “shocked and surprised…that a student would get suspended for saving another child.”

    “The school system overreached absolutely.”

    “I felt she did the right thing,” Harris’ mother told WAVY. “Under the circumstances, she thought he would bleed out, as he was cutting himself, and there was no teacher in sight. It was a 911 situation, and there wasn’t time to find a teacher.”

    After it began questioning school officials about Harris’ situation, WAVY reported that the school began responding to the Harris’ family’s requests for clarification and a reasonable response to their daughter’s actions.

    “It is amazing,” Harris’ mother told WAVY on Wednesday. “They are listening to us now…she should be back in school tomorrow and that would be fair.”

    Harris’ suspension hearing was originally planned to occur in 10 days, but WAVY reported that it was moved to Thursday.

    Harris told WAVY she’d do it all over again: “Even if I got in trouble, it didn’t matter because I was helping him…I would do it again even if I got suspended, yes.”

  • Mathematician Thinks There’s a Way to Pick Your Lotto Numbers With a Greater Chance to Win
    Posted March 20, 2014 at 12:02 pm by Liz Klimas

    Comments (87)

    Aside from the Hollywood portrayal of time travelers going to the future to pirate winning lottery numbers, picking the correct combination for a winning ticket is generally accepted to be a matter of luck. But a new study, arguing that not all combinations of numbers have the same probability, suggests there could be an art to predicting the winning numbers.

    Photo credit: Shutterstock

    Photo credit: Shutterstock

    Renato Gianella from Brazil used mathematics and probability theories to create a color template that he said can help people identify combinations of numbers with a greater likelihood to win.

    “You will learn that winning a lottery is not merely a matter of luck: by having the right information you will be able to create game strategies. We will show you how to play in a very simple and easy way, based on the fact that drawings are subordinated to a behavior pattern,” Gianella’s LotoRainbow tool’s website stated.

    According to the article published in Biometric Brazilian Journal, the Power Ball lottery in the United States, for example, has 19 groups of different probabilities, as opposed to a single probability that applies to all possible combinations of numbers.

    First, the LotoRainbow tool divides up numbers by colors.

    Image source: LotoRainbow

    Image source: LotoRainbow

    Even if you pick very different numbers in two games, for example, it might have the same color template.

    Though different numbers were chosen in this example, they have the same color template. (Image source: LotoRainbow)

    Though different numbers were chosen in this example, they have the same color template. (Image source: LotoRainbow)

    From there, the tool describes different types of color template combinations.

    Image source: LotoRainbow

    Image source: LotoRainbow

    Then, based on the game being played, a theoretical probability of a combination is given. The below example shows the probability (in decreasing order) of the PP combination in the Brazilian lottery game called Super Sena. It shows that there is a theoretical probability of 38.27 percent that a PP combination will be the winning numbers, meaning it would happen 38 out of every 100 drawings. This type of strategy could help players narrow down the combination of numbers they could pick that could result in a more likely win.

    Image source: LotoRainbow

    Image source: LotoRainbow

    Describing these findings as the “Geometry of Chance,” the study said that while “all bets are equally likely, behavior patterns obey different probabilities, which can make all the difference in the concept of games, benefitting gamblers that make use of the rational information.”

    With this information, Gianella said that the “lottery should no longer be seeing as a form of a gambling but a true representation of the probabilistic theory and the Law of Large Numbers.”

    (H/T: Daily Mail)

  • Anti-Gay Westboro Baptist Church Founder Fred Phelps Has Died
    Posted March 20, 2014 at 11:57 am by Billy Hallowell

    Comments (215)

    Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps has died, according to the church.

    His son Tim Phelps said that his father died Wednesday night just before midnight, according to WIBW-TV.

    Phelps, 84, was known for his anti-gay sentiment and for his church’s frequent protests at U.S. soldiers’ funerals.

    The death of Fred Phelps, a man who preached faithfully to a dark world, is nothing but a hypocritical hope for you!http://t.co/HpNXIF0xoT
    Reports: Westboro Founder Fred Phelps Has Died
    @WBCSays
    Westboro Baptist

    Westboro also acknowledged the death on its Twitter account Thursday, writing, “The death of Fred Phelps, a man who preached faithfully to a dark world, is nothing but a hypocritical hope for you!”

    The church also put put a statement on its blog, decrying the media response to news surrounding the fiery preacher.

    “The world-wide media has been has been in a frenzy during the last few days, gleefully anticipating the death of Fred Waldron Phelps Sr.,” the release read. “It has been an unprecedented, hypocritical, vitriolic explosion of words.”

    Reports have been circulating over the past week that the fiery preacher has been in hospice care after purportedly being excommunicated from Westboro last August following a dispute with church elders.

    FILE - In this March 19, 2006 file photo, Rev. Fred Phelps Sr. preaches at his Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas. Phelps, who founded a Kansas church that’s widely known for its protests at military funerals and anti-gay sentiments, is being cared for in a Shawnee County facility according to Westboro Baptist Church spokesman Steve Drain on Sunday, March 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File) AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File

    FILE – In this March 19, 2006 file photo, Rev. Fred Phelps Sr. preaches at his Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

    Phelps, who founded Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., in 1955, has long led church activities and rallies, so it was surprising when his estranged son, Nathan Phelps, posted on his Facebook page last weekend that his father was on his death bed and no longer a part of the church.

    Representatives for Westboro refused to definitively answer whether Phelps — once a civil rights lawyer — was no longer a member, though leaders did say earlier this week that he was “a person of advanced age” who was in hospice care.

    Contrary to reports surrounding the death, Jonathan Phelps, another one of his sons, told a local outlet Thursday morning that his father “is doing just fine,” though it is unclear if this was a reference to Phelps’ spiritual and not physical condition, WIBW-TV reported.

    Here’s a brief recap of Phelps’ life story:

    His death was first reported Thursday morning by KSNT-TV and WIBW-TV.

    Megan Phelps-Roper, Phelps’ granddaughter who left Westboro last year, posted a series of tweets about Phelps’ demise:

    "One way or another, he's at peace. There's only Heaven or peaceful nothingness. That's what I think." RIP, Gramps. I love you forever.
    Reports: Westboro Founder Fred Phelps Has Died
    @meganphelps
    Megan Phelps-Roper
    I'm so sorry for the harm he caused. That we all caused. But he could be so kind and wonderful. I wish you all could have seen that, too.
    Reports: Westboro Founder Fred Phelps Has Died
    @meganphelps
    Megan Phelps-Roper
    I understand those who don't mourn his loss, but I'm thankful for those who see that "An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind."
    Reports: Westboro Founder Fred Phelps Has Died
    @meganphelps
    Megan Phelps-Roper

    This is a breaking news story. Stay tuned for updates.

  • Obama Announces New Sanctions on Russia: ‘These Are All Choices the Russian Government Made’
    Posted March 20, 2014 at 11:42 am by Fred Lucas

    Comments (134)

    President Barack Obama on Thursday announced additional sanctions on Russia amid its continuing aggression toward Ukraine.

    AP

    “We’ve seen an illegal referendum in Crimea and illegitimate moves by the Russians to annex Crimea and dangerous risks of escalation with threats to Ukrainian personnel in Crimea and threats to southern and eastern Ukraine as well,” Obama said at the White House. “These are all choices the Russian government has made, choices that have been rejected by the international community as well as the government of Ukraine.”

    Following Sunday’s vote, the U.S. announced financial sanctions against seven Russian officials who were part of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle and had warned that more could be coming.

    “Because of these choices, the United States is moving as we said we would to impose additional costs on Russia,” Obama said. “Based on the executive order I signed in response to Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, we are imposing sanctions on more senior officials on the Russian government.”

    He promised the new sanctions would target more Russian officials as well as financial institutions that would impact the Russian economy.

    “In addition, we are sanctioning a number of other individuals with substantial resources and influence to provide material support as well as a bank that provides material support to these individuals,” Obama said.

    A new executive order will allow the U.S. to expand its sanctions, which the president said could impact the global economy.

    “As part of that process, I signed a new executive order today that gives us the authority to up — to impose sections on not just individuals but key sectors of the Russian economy. This is not our preferred outcome. These sanctions would not only have a significant impact on the economy but could be disruptive to the global economy. However, Russia must know that further escalation will only isolated further from the international community.”

    Following Obama’s announcement, senior administration officials told reporters the White House is extremely “concerned” that Russian troop movements along the eastern border of Ukraine could signal plans by Moscow to move further into Ukraine, though said the administration is not considering supplying anything beyond non-lethal support to Ukraine’s military,

    “Further escalating the conflict through the introduction of U.S. military forces is not something anybody is suggesting,” one senior official said. “What we have done is consult the Ukrainians — number one, about how to help with the immediate needs in terms of the economy and meeting the basic needs of their people. … We’ve been in touch with Ukrainian military officials about how they’re viewing the situation and responding to Russian provocations. We have also considered what types of support we can provide to Ukrainians and the Pentagon has been reviewing that on a regular basis.”

    TheBlaze’s Sara Carter contributed to this report.

  • Update: Local Reporter Walks Back Claim That Jay Carney Gets Questions From Journalists in Advance
    Posted March 20, 2014 at 11:39 am by Fred Lucas

    Comments (111)

    UPDATE: Phoenix news anchor Catherine Anaya on Thursday walked back parts of her claim that some reporters often tell White House Press Secretary Jay Carney what they will be asking ahead of daily briefings.

    In an email to the Daily Mail, Anaya said that she was asked to submit a question ahead of a daily briefing on Wednesday.

    “As a local journalist I had no issue providing my proposed question in advance because I wanted to make sure it was an appropriate q[uestion] for a national briefing and I wanted to make sure it was appropriate for Mr. Carney,” she wrote.

    She apologized for “unintentionally” making it “sound like that experience applied to everyone.”

    “That is my mistake, and I own up to it,” she added.

    A local Arizona anchor, who visited the White House Wednesday to interview President Barack Obama, made headlines when she said that White House press secretary Jay Carney gets questions before the press briefing and often answers in advance of the briefing.

    But Carney asserted the contrary in a tweet Thursday saying on Twitter, “Briefings would be a lot easier if this were true! Rest assured, it is not.”


    Catherine Anaya, the co-anchor for KPHO, the CBS affiliate in Phoenix, talked about her interview with the president and talked about what Carney told a group of local anchors during an off the record meeting in his office that day.

    The Weekly Standard honed in on what she had to say about the daily press briefing.

    Anaya said on the air:

    It was a very busy day. We started here shortly after 8 o’clock with a coffee with press secretary Jay Carney inside his office in the West Wing. says the reporter. And this was the off-the-record so we were able to ask him all about some of the preparation that he does on a regular basis for talking to the press in his daily press briefings. He showed us a very long list of items that he has to be well versed on every single day.

    And then he also mentioned that a lot of times, unless it’s something breaking, the questions that the reporters actually ask — the correspondents — they are provided to him in advance. So then he knows what he’s going to be answering and sometimes those correspondents and reporters also have those answers printed in front of them, because of course it helps when they’re producing their reports for later on. So that was very interesting.”

    That said, it’s not unusual to call or e-mail questions to a press spokesperson rather than wait for a daily press briefing. Moreover, in some cases, a written response might warrant a follow up. TV networks for their part often want to get footage of someone speaking about a topic.

  • Caught on Video: Attempt at World-Record Jump With Mini Cooper Ends in Crash
    Posted March 20, 2014 at 11:20 am by Elizabeth Kreft

    Comments (58)

    A French rally driver and daredevil attempted a world-record jump Tuesday with a miniature car, but the stunt ended in a spectacular crash that was caught on video from several angles.

    few

    Image source: YouTube

    Thankfully, Guerlain Chicherit was not seriously injured when he crashed the Mini Countryman after attempting to jump several hundred feet from one ramp to another, but he did suffer minor injuries that kept him in the hospital overnight for observation.

    w

    The Mini Countryman almost blends into the background of the French town while airborne, but soon begins to tilt forward into a bad position for a safe landing on the second ramp. (Image source: YouTube)

    MrPoypoy38 uploaded this nail-biting clip of Tuesday’s crash:

    The unsuccessful world-record attempt was performed in Tignes, France, but roughly a month earlier, Chicherit did earn a different stand-out record: he launched his specially built Mini into the first-ever unassisted 360-backflip. Here are two different angles of that amazing feat:

    (H/T: Daily Picks and Flicks)

    Follow Elizabeth Kreft (@elizabethakreft) on Twitter

  • Woman’s Incredible Response After an Autistic Man Was Called ‘Retarded’ and Jeered Out of a Movie Theater
    Posted March 20, 2014 at 11:07 am by Billy Hallowell

    Comments (135)

    One woman was so moved by a mother’s heartbreaking story of being shamed into fleeing a movie theater after her autistic son’s behavior irritated patrons that she’s doing something inspirational in honor of the family: She’s renting out an entire theater for children with special needs.

    Renee Walston’s incredible act of kindness follows a blog post published a few months ago by Emily Colson, daughter of the late Christian leader Chuck Colson.

    Colson wrote about a horrific experience during which she, her stepmother and her 23-year-old son Max, who is autistic, were jeered and yelled at by fellow moviegoers until they left a movie theater; one man even called Max “retarded” as the crowd applauded their exit.

    Emily Colson and her 23-year-old son Max (Image source: "Movie With Max" Facebook page)

    Emily Colson and her 23-year-old son Max (Image source: “Movie With Max” Facebook page)

    After hearing the traumatic story, Walston, a mother of three who attends church with Colson at North River Community Church in Pembroke, Mass., decided to take action and create an event called “Movie With Max.”

    Walston is renting a local Regal Cinema on March 27 to show “Muppets Most Wanted” to nearly 300 kids — many of whom have special needs, WCVB-TV reported.

    “As Christians, we’re supposed to love our neighbor as ourselves,” Walston said. “I just thought that if it were my child, I would have to find a way to make this right for him.”

    Image source: Shutterstock.com

    Photo credit: Shutterstock

    At first, she only rented a 94-seat theater, as she wasn’t sure how people would respond to the event. But now “Movie With Max” is sold out of tickets for a 294-seat space, though a Facebook post explains that the event will likely be held again in the future.

    As TheBlaze reported earlier this year, Colson’s blog post titled, “Darkness in a Theater,” recapped the helplessness and pain she felt as the theater audience derided her child.

    Now, she has a chance to enjoy the film with her son — something they were deprived of when the traumatic experience first unfolded.

    (H/T: WCVB-TV)

    Featured image via “Movie With Max”/Facebook

  • Dem Rep. Knows Why Obama Can’t Work With GOP in Congress: Tea Party Members are ‘Racist People’ from ‘Slave-Holding States’
    Posted March 20, 2014 at 10:45 am by Becket Adams

    Comments (258)

    Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) explained this week why President Barack Obama has not been able to work with the Tea Party members of Congress: They’re “mean” and “racist.”

    Rangel’s comments were made Tuesday night during an interview with New York’s TWC-TV.

    “They are mean, racist people. Now, why do I say that? Because in those red states, they’re the same slave-holding states!” Rangel said. “They had the Confederate flag, they became Dixiecrats, they had the Confederate flag, and the Tea Party, they’ve still got the Confederate flag! I don’t think that’s a coincidence.”

    He also referenced Obama’s education background during the interview, joking that perhaps there’s something in the water at Harvard that makes certain alumni so “optimistic” that they think they can work with groups like the Tea Party.

    Rangel, who has in the past referred to members of the Tea Party as “crackers,” made headlines last week when he referred to a deadly blast in his Harlem, N.Y., district as being his community’s 9/11.

    (H/T: Mediaite)

    Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter

  • Study Finds Surprising Danger in Titanium Golf Clubs
    Posted March 20, 2014 at 10:24 am by Liz Klimas

    Comments (88)

    Of all the things to think about on the golf course, starting a fire probably isn’t at the top of players’ minds. But according to a new study, it’s actually possible with titanium golf clubs.

    The research by scientists at the University of California, Irvine found that titanium alloy, a popular coating for lightweight clubs, can create sparks when it hits a rock or other hard surface. This could lead to wildfires if dry materials are nearby.

    Sparks fly off after the titanium alloy-coated club hits a hard surface. (Image source: YouTube)

    Sparks fly off after the titanium alloy-coated club hits a hard surface. (Image source: YouTube)

    The study was prompted by fire investigators who asked researchers to see if clubs could have started blazes on area golf courses in recent years.

    “This unintended hazard could potentially lead to someone’s death,” chemical engineering and materials science professor James Earthman with the university said. “A very real danger exists, particularly in the southwest, as long as certain golf clubs remain in use.”

    Depending on the foliage nearby, scientists worry that the sparks could start wildfires. (Image source: YouTube)

    Depending on the foliage nearby, scientists worry that the sparks could start wildfires. (Image source: YouTube)

    The hazard is less when golfers are teeing off or putting on well-irrigated greens, but more so when they need to chip themselves out of rough patches off the fairway. Watch this slow-motion footage showing the sparks:

    The sparks that scientists simulated in a lab environment with titanium alloy-coated clubs reached up to 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit and lasted long enough to possibly ignite nearby materials.

    “Rocks are often embedded in the ground in these rough areas of dry foliage,” said Earthman, the lead author on the study. “When the club strikes a ball, nearby rocks can tear particles of titanium from the sole of the head. Bits of the particle surfaces will react violently with oxygen or nitrogen in the air, and a tremendous amount of heat is produced. The foliage ignites in flames.”

    The researchers conducted similar experiments with stainless steel clubs, which they found did not produce any sparks.

    With these findings, Fire Authority Capt. Steve Concialdi told the Orange County Register that he gives golfers using titanium alloy clubs permission to “improve their lie,” or move their ball back onto the green instead of hitting it from the rough.

    “We encourage golfers to move their ball away from the rocks and dry vegetation,” Concialdi said, according to the newspaper.

    The study was published in the journal Fire and Materials.

    (H/T: ESPN)

    Featured image via Shutterstock.

  • Daredevil Teen Makes It Past Sleeping Security Guard, Frolics at Top of World Trade Center for Hours
    Posted March 20, 2014 at 9:53 am by Dave Urbanski

    Comments (53)

    Take a cursory look through Justin Casquejo’s Twitter page, and you’ll quickly see the 16-year-old New Jersey native is a lust-for-life adrenaline junkie. Many of his entries trumpet his desire to seize the day and live for excitement.

    How can anyone be comfortable with a boring life?
    New Jersey Teen Gets Past One World Trade Center Security, Frolics for Hours at Spire Snapping Photos

    One stunning post from last November shows what appears to be Casquejo hanging with one hand from a crane accompanied by the caption: “What have you done with your life?”

    Image source: Twitter

    Image source: Twitter

    But Casquejo upped the ante considerably over the weekend when he reportedly sneaked out of his house in Weehawken and made it past several layers of security to the spire of One World Trade Center in New York City, the New York Post reported.

    It went like this:

    • After Casquejo got into Manhattan, he crawled through a hole in a Ground Zero fence at about 4 a.m. Sunday;
    • He allegedly entered the tower by climbing scaffolding, according to WPIX-TV;
    • He moseyed up to the 88th floor (courtesy of a union elevator operator who was apparently unconcerned with Casquejo’s lack of proper identification);
    • He climbed the stairs to the 104th floor — where a guard was sound asleep;
    • Then he headed to the roof where he frolicked for about two hours around the antenna, taking photographs.

    Casquejo finally drew the attention of a construction worker as he made his way back down and was caught by security.

    “He came here and he ran hog wild,” one worker told the Post.

    When the Post contacted Casquejo on Wednesday about his stunt, the teen made light of it.

    “Ha ha, oh yeah, that. Right. I would really love to talk to you guys because I have a lot that I want to say about it,” he told the newspaper. “I was told that I just can’t [talk] without permission.”

    Casquejo has apparently been a long-time World Trade Center buff:

    Image source: Twitter

    Image source: Twitter

    Law enforcement sources told the Post that Casquejo entered the heavily guarded site like a kid sneaking into an abandoned warehouse — through a crack in a barbed-wire fence.

    “He’s a skinny kid who got through a skinny hole,” the source told the Post.

    “I walked around the construction site and figured out how to access the Freedom Tower rooftop,” Casquejo said, according to court papers.

    (Image source: Twitter)

    Justin Casquejo (Image source: Twitter)

    As for consequences, the non-inquisitive elevator operator has been reassigned, but the sleeping guard was fired. Casquejo faces a charge of misdemeanor trespassing.

    Casquejo’s friends began tweeting #FreeJustin when they learned of his arrest.

    According to WPIX, his camera and cellphone were seized after authorities obtained a search warrant.

    The Port Authority Police Department, the NYPD, and a private security company patrol the building perimeter while a different private outfit looks after the interior — none would comment to the Post.

    (H/T: Weasel Zippers)