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The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground
Updated: 1 hour 17 min ago

Michigan court: Seeing a trans woman is not sexual harassment

Mon, 06/05/2017 - 10:12am

The Michigan appeals court has ruled in favor of a Midland health club in a lawsuit filed by a woman who said her rights were violated when she encountered a transgender person in the locker room.

The court found no evidence of sexual harassment, noting that Yvette Cormier and a transgender woman were both wearing clothes at Planet Fitness.

Cormier’s membership was terminated a week after the 2015 incident after she returned to the gym and warned other women. Planet Fitness told her that it allows people to use the locker room that matches their identity as part of a “no-judgment policy.”

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The single-payer party? Democrats shift left on health care

Mon, 06/05/2017 - 10:10am

[Ed. – Still determined to fundamentally transform the U.S.]

For years, Republicans savaged Democrats for supporting the Affordable Care Act, branding the law — with some rhetorical license — as a government takeover of health care.

Now, cast out of power in Washington and most state capitals, Democrats and activist leaders seeking political redemption have embraced an unlikely-seeming cause: an actual government takeover of health care.

At rallies and in town hall meetings, and in a collection of blue-state legislatures, liberal Democrats have pressed lawmakers, with growing impatience, to support the creation of a single-payer system, in which the state or federal government would supplant private health insurance with a program of public coverage. And in California on Thursday, the Democrat-controlled State Senate approved a preliminary plan for enacting single-payer system, the first serious attempt to do so there since then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, vetoed legislation in 2006 and 2008.

With Republicans in full control of the federal government, there is no prospect that Democrats can put in place a policy of government-guaranteed medicine on the national level in the near future. And fiscal and logistical obstacles may be insurmountable even in solidly liberal states like California and New York.

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Gas station offers reward for Kathy Griffin’s head

Mon, 06/05/2017 - 10:07am

Lewis Country Store is no stranger to controversy, but one of its latest scrolling digital signs outside the gas station at 5106 Old Hickory Boulevard has some passersby wondering whether it’s an issue of free speech or illegality.

Early Friday morning, one such motorist, who wishes to remain anonymous, took photographs of the sign which read “$50,000 reward for Kathy Griffin’s head delivered.”

“I know this seems like a bad joke, but is this legal?” he wrote in an email to The Tennessean. “I’m not sure if this is covered by free speech.”

The sign was likely a response to a recent photograph taken of comedian Kathy Griffin in which she posed with a fake, severed Trump head for photographer Tyler Shields.

In October of 2016, controversial signs including “#Trump that b****” and “Never Forget Benghazi” were posted before Shell Oil cut ties with the gas station.

A sign posted outside Lewis Country Store and then posted on Facebook read, “Due to our refusal to remove our pro-Trump sign, Shell Oil has de-branded us. We will not be threatened or intimidated.”

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Defund Evergreen State College

Sun, 06/04/2017 - 5:47pm

A followup to this story.]

In 1999, the Evergreen State College of Washington featured convicted cop-killer and Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal as its commencement speaker via a recording. Abu-Jamal was on death row and could not attend, yet the college eagerly gave him a platform to speak. Eighteen years later, Evergreen State refuses to protect the physical safety and free-speech rights of its own professors from the threats and aggression of student protesters with a sadly familiar illiberal bent.

In a shakeup of Evergreen’s traditional Day of Absence — a day when black students leave campus to evoke the spirit of the Douglas Turner Ward play — student activists this year requested that all the campus’s white members leave instead. Bret Weinstein, an evolutionary-biology professor and Bernie Sanders–supporting progressive, sent an e-mail to his fellow professors taking issue with the change-up on the grounds that while it made sense for students of color to willfully leave campus to “highlight their vital and underappreciated roles,” forcing every white member of campus to leave would be “an act of oppression in and of itself.”

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The New York Times just outed the CIA’s top Iran spy

Sun, 06/04/2017 - 5:41pm

In an article published Friday, The New York Times outed the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) top spy overseeing the organization’s efforts in Iran. The paper justified its outing of the undercover CIA spy and his role within the agency by saying it was necessary since the agent is “leading an important new administration initiative against Iran.”

Yes. That really happened.

In an article entitled “C.I.A. Names New Iran Chief in a Sign of Trump’s Hard Line,” the newspaper of record revealed that Michael D’Andrea, who previously led the hunt for Osama bin Laden, will now be in charge of the agency’s operations in Iran.

As the Times explained in its report, Iran is “one of the hardest targets” for the CIA to keep tabs on.

“The agency has extremely limited access to the country — no American embassy is open to provide diplomatic cover — and Iran’s intelligence services have spent nearly four decades trying to counter American espionage and covert operations,” the article noted.

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Pedophile ‘prophet’ accused of taking brainwashed couple’s six children as wives

Sun, 06/04/2017 - 5:38pm

paedophile brainwashed a former Amish couple into regarding him as a prophet and ‘gifting’ him their six young daughters as child wives, a court heard.

Lee Kaplan, 52, convinced Savilla and Daniel Stoltzfus that his relationships with their six daughters were the will of God, who contacted him in his dreams, the court was told.

The first daughter to be “gifted” to Kaplan, it was claimed, was given as a future wife when she was nine years old.

Her older sister testified that she too was molested by Kaplan, the abuse allegedly starting when she was ten and leading to her becoming pregnant by him aged 14 in 2013.

Ms Stoltzfus, 43, also went to live with the accused, Bucks County Court in Pennsylvania heard, and allegedly ended up complaining to her husband that Kaplan had stopped having sex with her, preferring intercourse with her daughters.

For about five years, the court heard, the girls lived in isolation in the house of Kaplan.  The windows remained covered, it was said.

The girls, it was claimed, did not go to school and had no contact with anyone their own age because Kaplan told them other children attracted evil spirits.

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Bill Maher drops N-word on national TV, joins Kathy Griffin in the dog house

Sun, 06/04/2017 - 5:36pm

Kathy Griffin can breathe a sigh of relief.

Comedian Bill Maher, who frequently finds himself immersed in controversy, stepped in it big time on Friday while interviewing Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse.

The two were discussing Sasse’s new book, “The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance,” when Maher dropped the N-word.

Sasse had just finished telling Maher that adults don’t usually dress in costume for Halloween in Nebraska, prompting Maher to reply that he needs to “get to Nebraska more.”

“You’re welcome. We’d love to have you work in the fields with us,” the senator quipped.

“Work in the fields?” Maher asked incredulously. “Senator, I’m a house n***er.”

Sasse responded with an uncomfortable smile as the audience groaned in disapproval.

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Following NYT’s outing of top CIA operative, Iran websites put out name of town, wife’s name, photos

Sun, 06/04/2017 - 5:23pm

The heinous nature of the New York Timesaction – naming a senior CIA official in a 2 June article about a new CIA cell focused on Iran – isn’t about whether the officer in question has been named publicly before (although more on that in a moment).  It lies in the fact that the CIA official has been assigned to a new task, and has now had a target painted on his back because of his association with that task.

The CIA official led the hunt for Osama bin Laden, and was outed in that regard in 2015 (along with his involvement in the drone-hunting program).  NYT played a role in that outing, as described by Gawker at the time:

Today [26 April 2015], the New York Times named, against the CIA’s wishes, Michael D’Andrea, the former chief of the agency’s counterterrorism center, in a story about support in Washington for the lethal drone program. The Washington Post reported on D’Andrea’s reassignment last month without using his name, which Gawker then published.

“The C.I.A. asked that Mr. D’Andrea’s name and the names of some other top agency officials be withheld from this article,” the Times’ Mark Mazzetti and Matt Apuzzo write, “but The New York Times is publishing them because they have leadership roles in one of the government’s most significant paramilitary programs and their roles are known to foreign governments and many others.”

In the latest instance, NYT has used the previous outing of this operative in relation to his counterterrorism work – in which NYT had a hand – as an excuse for outing him again in the new Iran assignment.  (Emphasis added.)

The C.I.A. declined to comment on Mr. D’Andrea’s role, saying it does not discuss the identities or work of clandestine officials. The officials spoke only on the condition of anonymity because Mr. D’Andrea remains undercover, as do many senior officials based at the agency’s headquarters in Langley, Va. Mr. Eatinger did not use his name. The New York Times is naming Mr. D’Andrea because his identity was previously published in news reports, and he is leading an important new administration initiative against Iran.

This is deceptive special pleading.  Until NYT announced it, the officer’s connection with the “important new administration initiative against Iran” was unpublicized – and that’s what matters.

Putting that connection in the limelight is the exact opposite of respecting America’s interest in effective national intelligence operations against Iran.  What NYT has done is not in the public interest in any way; rather, it is an action against America’s public interest.

Worse, moreover, is the action of NYT’s government sources in naming the CIA officer to the media.  NYT is not sworn to keep his identity a secret.  The government officials are.

Two days later, at least two websites dedicated to news and commentary for Iranians in the West have published personal information dug up on the operative, including the town he is said to live in, his wife’s name and family information, and separate photos of her and her husband.

I won’t link to those websites here.  I’m providing redacted screen caps of the material from one of them, so you can see that they exist.  There are probably more websites rebroadcasting this information, in the time since I discovered the two I mention several hours ago.

(Screen cap; redactions by author) (Screen cap; redactions by author)

The threat of assassination by Iranian operatives in the West is a real one.  In 2011, two men linked to Iran’s security agencies were charged with plotting to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States (conviction followed in 2013).

Iran has no compunction about assassinating regime opponents who live abroad, and has spoken explicitly of assassinating the “enemies of the Republic” abroad (see here for a more recent discussion on Iranian TV in February 2017).

In 2012, the pre-Jeff Bezos Washington Post reported that U.S. officials were among those known to have been recently targeted by Iranian assassination plots.

And, as Omri Ceren reminds us, in 1984, Iran’s proxies kidnapped and tortured to death the CIA’s chief of station in Lebanon, William Buckley.

Iran proxies kidnapped & tortured to death CIA's Lebanon station chief. Mailed US officials tapes of the torture https://t.co/UPAyiXUf0g https://t.co/m0W47MYamu

— Omri Ceren (@omriceren) June 2, 2017

The Gordon Thomas account of that harrowing incident is only to be read when your mind and gut are at their strongest.  Buckley’s captors sent the U.S. several videotapes of his horrific deterioration during the months-long period of torture.

Ironically, the most likely date of Buckley’s death was 3 June 1985, almost 32 years to the day before NYT’s notification to Iran that a new CIA honcho was on their trail.

The action by government officials and NYT on 2 June 2017 has made the officer’s wife and her family targets of the ruthless Iranian kidnappings-and-assassinations brigade as well.

The outing of this officer and the new Iran intelligence cell came from U.S. officials who leaked the information, without authorization, to the media.  The Wall Street Journal also reported on the new cell on 2 June, clarifying several things about it and including the officer’s name once again.

According to WSJ (emphasis added):

The Central Intelligence Agency has established an organization focused exclusively on gathering and analyzing intelligence about Iran, reflecting the Trump administration’s decision to make that country a higher priority target for American spies, according to U.S. officials.

The Iran Mission Center will bring together analysts, operations personnel and specialists from across the CIA to bring to bear the range of the agency’s capabilities, including covert action. In that respect it is similar to a new Korea Mission Center that the CIA announced last month to address North Korea’s efforts to develop long-range nuclear missiles.

The CIA didn’t publicly announce the new Iran organization. The agency declined to comment.

So in case it wasn’t clear, the Iran cell is something the CIA didn’t intend to publicize at all, at least for the moment – unlike the North Korea cell.

This can’t be anything but deliberate attempted sabotage of the new Iran effort.  There is no other explanation for government officials outing the new effort and the name of its leader.

The motive behind the sabotage has been discussed in a number of quarters since at least February, when a January 2017 intelligence leak to the Washington Post was leveraged to drive Michael Flynn from his post as national security adviser, with a campaign of innuendo.

Adam Kredo had an article at the time outlining the campaign: to attack and sabotage anyone from the new Trump administration involved in changing U.S. policy on Iran.  The focus on Iran policy has continued in the months since; in February, Kredo described information from his sources that previewed just how tenacious it would be (emphasis added):

The effort, said to include former Obama administration adviser Ben Rhodes—the architect of a separate White House effort to create what he described as a pro-Iran echo chamber—included a small task force of Obama loyalists who deluged media outlets with stories aimed at eroding Flynn’s credibility, multiple sources revealed. …

“It’s undeniable that the campaign to discredit Flynn was well underway before Inauguration Day, with a very troublesome and politicized series of leaks designed to undermine him,” said one veteran national security adviser with close ties to the White House team. “This pattern reminds me of the lead up to the Iran deal, and probably features the same cast of characters.”

The Free Beacon first reported in January that, until its final days in office, the Obama administration hosted several pro-Iran voices who were critical in helping to mislead the American public about the terms of the nuclear agreement. This included a former Iranian government official and the head of the National Iranian American Council, or NIAC, which has been accused of serving as Iran’s mouthpiece in Washington, D.C.

Since then, top members of the Obama administration’s national security team have launched a communications infrastructure after they left the White House, and have told reporters they are using that infrastructure to undermine Trump’s foreign policy.

“It’s actually Ben Rhodes, NIAC, and the Iranian mullahs who are celebrating today,” said one veteran foreign policy insider who is close to Flynn and the White House. “They know that the number one target is Iran … [and] they all knew their little sacred agreement with Iran was going to go off the books. So they got rid of Flynn before any of the [secret] agreements even surfaced.”

The campaign against Flynn was vicious enough.  But by outing a CIA officer in a uniquely sensitive post, government officials and NYT have put him and his family connections in real danger: more demonstrable and immediate than any that Valerie Plame was ever in, and without question, consciously intended.  That’s a new level of wrong.  The deliberate attempts to sabotage Trump’s administration – both people and policies – have been called a slow-motion “coup,” and with each passing day, that term becomes more and more appropriate.

This cannot stand.  It’s more important to clean out the next-to-top level of national security and intelligence personnel than it is to pretend that “ops normal” is what’s going on with them, or that “ops normal” is still serving us.

Manifestly, it is not.  Drain the swamp, whatever it takes.  It can be done lawfully.  It just may not be possible without a short-term operational cost.  But the cost of not draining it is too high to pay.

 

Senior Obama officials target of subpoenas over unmasking

Sun, 06/04/2017 - 1:42pm

The House Intelligence Committee has issued seven subpoenas as part of an ongoing investigation into Russian meddling into the 2016 election. Three of the subpoenas involve seeking information on senior Obama-era officials, including former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, former CIA Director John Brennan, and former UN Ambassador Samantha Power.

James Rosen of Fox News confirmed that the FBI, CIA, and National Security Agency were among the governmental agencies served with subpoenas issued by the committee.

Subpoenas have also been issued to President Donald Trump’s short-lived National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, and lawyer Michael Cohen.

 

The question that arises is whether the mainstream media will cover the subpoenas involving the unmasking controversy as fervently as they covered the Michael Flynn story? I for one would be shocked if they did.

Too bad the biased MSM won't give the same coverage on the Susan Rice subpoena as they did with the Flynn subpoena.

— Red Warrior (@Red_Warrior5) June 1, 2017

 

Rice was outed back in April as the source of the inappropriate “unmasking” of Trump administration officials. She had previously claimed she knew “nothing” about intelligence reports that were cited and used to unmask members of Trump campaign and transition team.

During a House Intelligence Committee hearing, Rep. Trey Gowdy grilled then-FBI Director James Comey about possible sources for leaks, particularly pertaining to Flynn, who was forced to resign.

At the time, three people close to Barack Obama were identified as having the authority to “unmask” individuals caught up in “incidental” surveillance. These were Brennan, Rice, and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

Power is a bit of a wild card. Why would the UN Ambassador be involved in unmasking American citizens?

Cross-posted at the Mental Recession

Enviros sue DHS to stop prototype phase of border wall

Sun, 06/04/2017 - 1:19pm

Liberals have complained that a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico would engender hard feelings among Mexicans seeking to sneak into the country.

If that argument leaves you scratching your head, try this alternative rationale for opposing such a wall. It was cooked up by an Arizona-based environmental group that plans to sue the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to block the Trump administration from moving forward on the testing of prototypes for its proposed border wall.

The Center For Biological Diversity, a nonprofit dedicated to the protection of native species, sent a formal notice of intent Thursday to DHS Secretary John Kelly and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. The group claims the border wall will destroy sensitive natural habitats and that proceeding with construction without an environmental impact review is a violation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Center spokesman Brian Segee says the Trump administration hasn’t even paid “lip service” to protecting the environment, which would suffer “widespread damage” as a result of the wall’s construction.

Segee added in a statement:

The administration’s failure to consider the impacts of these border-wall prototypes shows a striking disregard for our nation’s irreplaceable natural heritage and doesn’t bode well for how the administration will approach construction of the wall itself, which would be a disaster for people and wildlife alike.

The lawsuit would be the second the Center has filed naming the Trump administration over the border wall specifically and its sixteenth federal lawsuit targeting the White House’s environmental agenda in general. In April, the group filed a lawsuit to force DHS to prepare a “programmatic environmental impact statement” on the effects of border enforcement operations.

The Center’s latest lawsuit comes as Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the main border security agency under the DHS umbrella, is preparing to test 20 prototypes selected from hundreds submitted in April. CBP announced in May that it has selected finalists, who will construct mock-ups of their wall designs for testing and evaluation on a stretch of federally-owned land near the Otay Mesa border crossing in San Diego.

Border security officials chose San Diego as the testing location because the prototypes can be evaluated against existing border barriers in the area and because it is one of the most heavily-trafficked stretches of the U.S.-Mexico border. The testing area is also home to several vernal pools, temporary wetlands that provide a habitat endangered species, according to the Center’s notice.

The Center claims that CBP’s plan for prototype construction is a violation of the ESA, which requires federal agencies to first consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service about how construction projects could effect sensitive environments. If an endangered species or critical habitat is present, agencies must prepare a biological assessment to determine whether their proposed action “may affect” or “is not likely to adversely affect” any species listed under the ESA.

A separate federal law may preempt the ESA’s requirements when it comes to border security related projects. The 2005 federal REAL ID Act gives the DHS secretary authority to waive any laws “necessary to ensure expeditious construction” of barriers and roads along the border.

This report, by Will Racke, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.

So far 149 dead and counting in Ramadan attacks

Sun, 06/04/2017 - 12:35pm

Significant terrorist attacks have sprung up across the globe since the beginning of Muslim holy month of Ramadan May 26, with current counts confirming three attacks and 149 dead, and a reported Saturday incident on London Bridge still developing.

Islamist terrorist groups usually use the holiday to mount more significant terrorist attacks, and promise their followers extra benefits for dying in such attacks during the holy month.

The major attacks of Ramadan 2017 include twin suicide bombings in Baghdad and a massive suicide borne vehicle bomb in Afghanistan. An unconfirmed terrorist incident also occurred at a casino hotel in Manila earlier this week. These attacks occurred before a reported deadly incident on London Bridge Saturday.

The Baghdad bombings targeted both an ice cream shop and elderly pension distribution center. The ice cream shop was frequented by families with small children and killed 10. The first bombing killed 12, and nearly 100 were injured between the two blasts.

The second bombing in Afghanistan killed nearly 100 people and injured hundreds more. The massive suicide vehicle struck one of the safest areas of Kabul in Afghanistan and destroyed parts of the German embassy. Several German and U.S. citizens were killed in the attack. Afghan officials believe that Taliban elements headed by the Haqqani network are responsible for the attack.

A gunman also stormed a casino hotel resort in Manila Friday and set fire to a hotel while attempting to steal nearly $2 million in gaming chips. He engaged casino workers in a firefight and then appears to have killed himself. ISIS  claimed responsibility for the attack, which killed nearly 40 people. All casualties in the attack were caused by smoke inhalation by fire.

This report, by Saagar Enjeti, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.

The Dems had one of the lousiest weeks in memory, but you wouldn’t know it from the MSM

Sun, 06/04/2017 - 12:02pm

The mainstream media have their collective heads stuck in Russia and the end of the world supposedly initiated by President Trump’s exit from the feckless Paris climate accord. In reporting on these disasters this past week, they’ve utterly ignored the plight the DNC is facing.

Hillary Clinton threw the DNC under the bus, adding them to the list of organizations and people she’s blaming for her embarrassing defeat. Predictably, former DNC staffers did not react well to that criticism, prompting yet more stories about how divided the Democratic Party is:

“Allies of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in particular were incensed by Clinton’s criticism of the party apparatus, saying she mischaracterized the committee’s work while needlessly stoking internal divisions.”

DNC Chairman Tom Perez has come under fire for ignoring black women. In an open letter to Perez, more than twenty black women blasted Perez for “taking them for granted”:

In the letter, the authors say that black women have consistently supported the party, but have been ignored by Democratic leaders who seemed to be more focused on winning back white voters who rejected Hillary Clinton in November. ‘The data reveals that Black women voters are the very foundation to a winning coalition, yet most Black voters feel like the Democrats take them for granted,’ the letter reads. ‘Since taking office, you have met with and listened to key constituencies. But you have yet to host a Black women leaders convening.’

The DNC is even having to deal with a renewed fight over superdelegates.

And then there’s the biggest issue, which is not necessarily a party problem but  does reflect poorly on the Dems. In two different investigative reports by Circa, we’ve learned that not only did Barack Obama’s NSA ignore the Fourth Amendment and collect information on Americans, but the FBI was sharing that information with outside parties. If you get your news from the mainstream media, you probably haven’t been exposed to these reports, because they are still protecting the former president.

Obama’s NSA court ignored the FISA court and its own regulations that were publicly promised to the American people and violated those Fourth Amendment privacy protections while searching foreign intercepts that involved Americans without warrants. And, oh boy, did they anger the FISA court! Circaused once-secret documents to reveal the Obama administration’s most serious constitutional abuses to date by the U.S. intelligence community.

More than 5 percent, or one out of every 20 searches seeking upstream Internet data on Americans inside the NSA’s so-called Section 702 database violated the safeguards Obama and his intelligence chiefs vowed to follow in 2011, according to one classified internal report reviewed by Circa.

The story gets worse. As a follow-up, Circa used the same document to demonstrate that the FBI shared that raw intelligence about American citizens with unauthorized third parties. You may remember that in his testimony days before he was fired, James Comey told lawmakers that the FBI used espionage data gathered about Americans without a warrant only when it was “lawfully collected, carefully overseen and checked.” That seems to be a lie.

Once-top secret U.S. intelligence community memos reviewed by Circa tell a different story, citing instances of “disregard” for rules, inadequate training and “deficient” oversight and even one case of deliberately sharing spy data with a forbidden party.

The FBI even admitted that their violation “ranged from illegally sharing raw intelligence with unauthorized third parties to accessing intercepted attorney-client privileged communications without proper oversight the bureau promised was in place years ago.”

Cross-posted at The Lid

‘Pastafarian’ successfully gets driver’s license photo wearing colander on his head

Sun, 06/04/2017 - 11:33am

Religious freedom for some, or religious freedom for all?

That’s the question Pastafarians have to ask themselves everyday living in the so- called free United States of America. This subjugated monotheistic religious minority believe a giant, omniscient spaghetti monster that lives in the sky created the universe and has complete control of its fate.

This week, Arizona man Sean Corbett won an important victory for his proud, storied religion. The member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster successfully attained a state driver’s license while wearing a colander on his head. He received his license in the mail Tuesday.

After years of getting turned away at DMV’s Corbett finally got the license that adequately expresses his religious beliefs. Unfortunately state officials say they will void the license, according to The Arizona Republic. 

Corbett says the license is an act of religious freedom.

If Muslims can take their photos in a hijab and Sikhs in a turban, why can’t Pastafarians get theirs in a spaghetti colander?

Continue reading →

Dem running for Va. governor, who read Trump riot act over slavery, descends from slaveholders

Sun, 06/04/2017 - 11:30am

[Ed. – What the man’s ancestors did 200 years ago shouldn’t make a shred of difference to voters, but these are the times we live in.]

The president of the United States questioned why the Civil War was fought. Virginia Lt. Gov. Ralph S. Northam was among many who answered.

“We had a Civil War because people owned other folks as slaves. Read a book,” read a tweet directed at President Donald Trump from Northam, who is in the midst of a tight race with Tom Perriello for the Democratic nomination to be Virginia’s next governor.

At the time of his May 1 tweet, Northam was not aware that some of his ancestors on Virginia’s Eastern Shore owned slaves. He recently called his father, retired Judge Wescott Brownlee Northam, to ask.

“The news that my ancestors owned slaves disturbs and saddens me, but the topic of slavery has always bothered me,” Ralph Northam said in an interview. “My family’s complicated story is similar to Virginia’s complex history. We’re a progressive state, but we once had the largest number of slaves in the union.”

Continue reading →

The news you didn’t hear

Sun, 06/04/2017 - 11:09am

Here is what Americans this week were told counted as “news”: Jared Kushner’s past meetings. Russians. James Comey’s upcoming testimony. Russians. Hillary Clinton’s latest conspiracy theories. Russians. Bob Mueller’s as-yet-nonexistent investigation (into Russians). Kathy Griffin, Mr. Met and, of course, “covfefe.” Total words printed on these subjects? At least a duodecillion.

Here’s what actually happened this week, the “news” that holds real consequences for real Americans:

  • Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke signed an order to begin reopening Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve to oil and gas exploration, reversing the Obama administration’s ideologically driven 2013 shutdown. The order even aims at opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to production—a move that is decades overdue. This could not only buck up the listless Alaskan economy but cement the U.S. as an oil and gas powerhouse.
  • In related news, the Dakota Access Pipeline finally went live…
  • Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross surprisingly said that he was open to completing the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, a far-reaching trade agreement being negotiated with the European Union.

Continue reading →

White House approves social media checks for travel visa applicants

Sun, 06/04/2017 - 11:06am

The Trump administration has unveiled a new questionnaire for U.S. visa applicants that asks for social media handles from the last five years, Reuters reported Thursday.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approved the new measures — which also request applicants’ biographical information for the last 15 years — on May 23, the report said.

Consular officials can now request all prior passport numbers, five years of social media handles, email addresses and phone numbers from applicants, as well as addresses, employment and travel history stretching back 15 years.

Reuters reported that the OMB granted emergency approval for the new questions for six months rather than the usual three years.

The new questions are reportedly voluntary, but the form says that failure to provide the information may delay or prevent the processing of an individual visa application.

Critics argue that the new questions are overly burdensome, could produce long delays in applicant processing and may discourage foreigners from applying for visas.

The Trump administration late Thursday asked the Supreme Court to consider a judge’s block on its travel ban that would temporarily bar citizens from six Muslim-majority nations from entering the U.S.

Continue reading →

Detroit-area Muslim sues Little Caesars for $100M, claims pepperoni hot halal, as advertised

Sun, 06/04/2017 - 11:04am

Attorney for Little Caesars said on Friday that a lawsuit that claimed a Detroit-area Muslim man had been served pepperoni pizza instead of halal pepperoni was being dropped. However, the man’s attorneys are disputing that assertion.

Little Caesars says after they were made aware of Mohamad Bazzi’s lawsuit, they looked into the matter — as the consumption of pork is strictly forbidden under Muslim law.

They say they found the allegations to be false and presented those results to Bazzi’s attorney before heading into court.

“We shared the results of what we learned with Mr. Bazzi’s attorney, which caused him to tell us he would dismiss the lawsuit,” said Mike Huget from local Detroit law firm Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn.

Attorneys for Bazzi released a statement to FOX 2 saying that claims of the lawsuit being dropped were not accurate. Attorneys claim that they said the planned to dismiss the lawsuit in order to add additional plaintiffs. Read the statement below….

Continue reading →

Someone from Wasserman Schultz’s office, disguising voice, calls attorney suing her

Sun, 06/04/2017 - 10:49am

As noted last week, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz  (D-Fla.), who resigned her post as DNC chair last summer in disgrace, is at the center of a class action lawsuit against the group for fraud against supporters of Bernie Sanders. The fraud resulted directly from WikiLeaks’s leaked DNC emails that proved the Democratic primary was clearly manipulated to nominate Hillary Clinton.

Schultz, like her favorite presidential candidate, is not well known for ethical integrity. Neither is she well known as a superior strategist or tactician. In fact, she is known mostly as a bumbling fool who is capable of destroying an anvil with a banana.

A strange phone call was received Thursday at the office of Beck and Lee, the firm bringing the lawsuit against the DNC and Wasserman Schultz. The caller, who refused to identify himself, used an electronic voice modulator to make his real voice unidentifiable. The caller claimed to be seeking information on the case. Revealing only information that is public, the secretary who took the call noted the phone number on caller ID. A Google search of the number of the mysterious caller revealed it was the phone number of Schultz’s Florida congressional office.

From the court filing:

At 4:54 p.m. today, an individual called our law office from “305-936-5724.” See attached photo of the caller I.D.

The caller refused to identify himself/herself, but asked my secretary about the Wilding et al. v. DNC et al. lawsuit. My secretary stated that it sounded like the caller was using a voice changer, because the voice sounded robotic and genderless — along the lines of the voice changers used when television show interviews are kept anonymous. The caller concluded with “Okey dokey,” after my secretary gave the caller public information about the case.

After the call ended, a simple Google search of the phone number “305-936-5724” shows that it is the phone number for Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz’ Aventura office hat it is the phone number for Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz’ Aventura office….

What just occurred is highly irregular and we will be filing the instant e-mail with the court forthwith.

The document includes a closeup image of the phone readout and an another showing the Google search results:

Jared Beck, one of the partners at Beck and Lee, told the Observer:

I’ve never encountered a situation quite like this in my practice, but I have seen situations where one party has made unsolicited contact with lawyers on the other side. In such situation, I believe it is a lawyer’s responsibility, as officer of the court, to make prompt notification to the court of any unsolicited communications received, which is what we did in this case.

The Observer further notes that “it’s unclear what repercussions Wasserman Schultz might face if the call is traced back to her office,” adding that Wasserman Schultz has denied that the call came from her office — this despite unimpeachable evidence that it did.

Once a liar….

Champion of climate alarmism Bill de Blasio won’t give up SUV rides to gym

Sun, 06/04/2017 - 10:15am

Mayor de Blasio says all New Yorkers must change their lifestyle to curb carbon emissions — well, all except one man: Mayor de Blasio.

Hizzoner portrayed himself as an eco champion on Friday, announcing plans to ban plastic bags and beef up enforcement against idling vehicles, and called on all his constituents to alter their habits in light of President Trump’s withdrawal the Paris climate accord.

“Everyone in our own life needs to change our habits to start protecting the Earth,” he said in his weekly appearance on WNYC radio.

But when asked to explain why he needs a motorcade of gas-guzzling SUVs to take him from Gracie Mansion to Park Slope, Brooklyn, just to exercise at a YMCA, he didn’t have an answer — and declined to give up the habit.

“The issue is not cheap symbolism,” he said testily.

The question was raised by a caller into the show.

“How about you stepping up your game and leading by example [by] getting out of your SUV armada?” said the caller, Charles Komanoff, a longtime energy-policy expert from Manhattan and a Carbon Tax Center founder.

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Russia successfully tests hypersonic missile that ‘makes Western defenses obsolete’

Sun, 06/04/2017 - 10:12am

Russia has conducted five successful test flights of a hypersonic missile which is almost impossible to intercept – and which renders Western defences ‘obsolete’.

The Zircon missile can travel at between 3,800mph and 4,600mph – five to six times the speed of sound.

The speed of the Zircon missile makes it extremely difficult to target with anti-missile systems – and it could render Western defences ‘obsolete’, according to defence analyst Tim Ripley.

Ripley said, ‘It will greatly reduce the reaction time that they (Western military units) have to deploy their own defenses and counter-measures.’

Military analyst Vladimir Tuchkov told Russian state media, ‘In Russia, the testing of actual weapons is already underway.

‘It is expected to be added into Russia’s arsenal between 2018 and 2020’.

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