Lawrence Lease

 

Gov. Palin puts aside usual banter and focuses on Veterans at CPAC

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Screen-Shot-2015-02-26-at-6.00.31-PM-e1424992161604Governor Sarah Palin spoke at the annual CPAC convention on Thursday. She put aside her usual one-liners and focused on veterans. Her speech avoided partisan jabs and focused on advocacy for veterans suffering from PTSD and readjusting to civilian work. Palin bemoaned the roadblocks veterans face when they attempt to access healthcare. Governor Palin continued to share her belief that veterans should be able to seek healthcare without going through Veteran Affairs clinics. She also said that vets with job-related skills should be able to test out of certification programs.

“America hands over her sons and her daughters in service with the promise that they’re going to be taken care of. Our troops are promised…that a grateful nation will spare no expense to patch them up and bring them back to health when wounded,” Palin told the crowded ballroom. “And now they come home wounded. Too many broken in body and spirit. Well we, their mothers and their fathers and their husbands and their wives, we’re here to collect on the promises made.”

Palin highlighted that we don’t hear about the “broken” because they don’t whine. “They’re not wired to complain,” she told the audience. Palin took a slight jab at President Obama’s handling of ISIS. “We can’t kill our way out of war? Oh really? Tell that to the Nazis! Oh wait, you can’t. They’re dead. We killed them,” she said.  Governor Palin’s speech surprised many on the left, for her exclusion of her familiar partisan barbs as well has her routine use of pop culture references.


‘American Sniper’ killer found guilty of capital murder

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A jury in Texas finds Eddie Ray Routh guilty of murdering Chris Kyle, the former U.S. Navy SEAL whose autobiography was turned into the hit movie “American Sniper.”

 

STEPHENVILLE, Texas — A Texas jury ruled on Tuesday evening that Eddie Ray Routh is guilty of murdering “American Sniper” Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield. Despite everyone agreeing Routh killed the men, defense attorneys claimed Routh was insane.

Prosecutors claimed Routh knew the difference between right and wrong. Routh’s trial comes in the wake of the release of the film about Kyle, a former Navy SEAL, often referred to as the most deadliest sniper in U.S. history, with 160 confirmed kills in Iraq.

Jurors returned the verdict Tuesday in less than three hours against Eddie Ray Routh, whose attorneys had mounted an insanity defense and said he suffered from psychosis. Since prosecutors didn’t seek the death penalty in the capital murder case, the 27-year-old receives an automatic life sentence without parole for the Feb. 2, 2013 killings.

Prosecutors said Routh was drinking and smoking marijuana, the morning he killed Kyle and Littlefield. They argued he was paranoid because he was high and was angry about living with his parents, money, and his job. He then finally exploded after Kyle and Littlefield snubbed him.

Kyle took his two friends to the range as a kind of therapy. The range is part of the 11,000 acre Rough Creek Lodge and the group was isolated from the rest of the Lodge. A hunting guide found Kyle, 38, and Littlefield, 35, who also was a veteran, motionless and called 911. The men were dead when officers arrived.

Read more at Examiner.com


Governor Scott Walker addresses union protests and evolution

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Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker appeared on Fox News Channel’s “The Kelly File” on Tuesday addressing the recent union protests that took place outside his parents home earlier in the week calling it a personal attack.

More than 100 education union members were protesting Walker’s budget proposal, which according to the Union members would hurt public schools and universities. They descended on the home, which is owned by Governor Walker and chanted slogans but remained calm throughout the protest.

On Tuesday, he said in the end the protest backfires in the end and that “Taking it to someone’s home, particularly with elderly parents, that takes it too far.”

On Tuesday, he also addressed his critics who attack him for not graduating college. One of his major critics is former DNC chairman Howard Dean, who chided that if Walker ran for office, he would be the first “executive” in generations to not hold a college degree. Walker fought back saying he would rather have a fighter who has proven he can take on big government and win. Walker addressed his recent controversy in London, in which he refused to answer questions regarding evolution. “I think God created the earth,” he told Kelly, but added, “I think science and my faith aren’t incompatible.”

The protest took place in Wauwatosa earlier in the week.


Terrorists attempt to kill controversial Muhammad cartoonist Lars Vilks

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — A gunman opened fire on a crowd in a Copenhagen cafe on Saturday injuring three and killing one during a free speech event.

The cafe was holding a panel discussion featuring controversial Swedish artist Lars Vilks. Vilks is the man who has faced threats for his sketches of the Prophet Muhammad. The suspect was seen escaping the scene in a dark Volkswagen Polo. Denmark security agency PET has ruled this a terrorist attack based on the circumstances surrounding the shooting.

This shooting comes only a month after Islamic militants attacked Charlie Hebdo magazine office in Paris, killing 12 people. Nobody has come forward claiming responsibility for this attack. The cafe was hosting an event called “Art, blasphemy and the freedom of expression” when the gunmen opened fire. Local authorities were originally looking for two suspects but after preliminary interviews, they discovered there was only one gunman.

Police found the getaway vehicle abandoned near a metro station and ordered the transit system between two stations to be shutdown to search for the suspect.

In a statement, Danish police said the victim was a 40-year-old man inside the cafe attending the event. He has not yet been identified. The gunman failed to get into the room where the event was held but managed to enter the lobby. To even get into the cafe, attendees had to go through airport type security.

French President Hollande called the attack “deplorable.” Vilks has faced several attempted attacks and death threats after his Muhammad cartoon as a dog was released in 2007. In 2014, a Pennsylvania woman plotted to kill Vilks and is now serving a 10-year prison sentence.


Jury selection complete in ‘American Sniper’ Chris Kyle’s murder trial

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STEPHENVILLE, Texas — Lawyers in the trial of the murder of ‘American Sniper’ Chris Kyle have finally selected its jury on Monday. Lawyers estimated no more than two dozen people were dismissed from service because of publicity about the case.

The jury is made up of 10 women and two men who will decide the fate of Eddie Ray Routh, who is charged with capital murder in the deaths of former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle and Kyle’s friend Chad Littlefield. Prosecutors say Kyle and Littlefield were attempting to help Routh when Routh shot them at a Texas gun range in 2013.

The film by Clint Eastwood, ‘American Sniper’ based on Kyle’s legacy as a heroic sniper who spent four tours in Iraq has earned nearly $300 million at the box office. As a result of the attention garnered by the Kyle case, the court brought in four times as many jurors as they normally do for regular cases. However, it only took one day to select the final jury.

Despite the depiction of Kyle’s funeral in the film, the jury was only asked if they could put aside what they had already heard. Routh’s attorneys plan to pursue an insanity defense. Prosecutors won’t seek the death penalty. He faces life in prison without parole if convicted.

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Fort Hood victims finally being awarded the Purple Heart

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John McHugh, Secretary of the Army announced on Friday that victims of the 2009 Fort Hood terrorist attacks will finally receive the Purple Heart, which is a sudden departure from what the Obama administration labeled the attacks as “workplace violence.” Fox News first reported the announcement.

Victims and their families have been pushing the military for years to award the Purple Hear along with the benefits that come with it. In response to their pressure on Congress, they passed funding legislation forcing the Department of Defense to reexamine whether the victims qualify for the honor.

Defense officials determined the shooting could be called an attack because the shooter was communicating with the foreign terrorist organization before the attack. The Fort Hood shootings, carried out by former Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan, were classified acts of “workplace violence,” even though media outlets and witnesses reported that he shouted “Allahu Akbar” while opening fire.

Evidence has begun emerging since the attack that Hasan was motivated by extreme religious views. Emails were intercepted showing conversations between Hasan and radical American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki who was a leader of Al Qaeda in Yemen. Hasan was convicted in 2013 and sentenced to death by a general court martial. He is currently incarcerated at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, awaiting appeal.

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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott declares February 2 as “Chris Kyle Day”

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Texas Governor Greg Abbott declares February 2 Chris Kyle Day

Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced his plans to declare February 2 as “Chris Kyle Day” in Texas. While Abbott made this announcement, a petition has begun to award Kyle the Medal of Honor. Chris Kyle is known as the deadliest sniper in American military history. He’s also the subject of the Clint Eastwood film “American Sniper.” Abbott spoke to Fox News saying he’s honoring Kyle in this way because he is an American hero.

Kyle served four tours in Iraq saving thousands of lives. Kyle has come under heavy fire from liberal Hollywood elitists calling him a coward and a soldier who went on killing sprees. Governor Abbott made the announcement on Friday during a veteran’s event. “In honor of a Texas son, a Navy SEAL and an American hero – a man who defended his brothers and sisters in arms on and off the battlefield – I am declaring February 2nd Chris Kyle Day in Texas. We will commemorate his passing. But more importantly, remembering his answering of the call of duty.”

His full speech is below:

It’s an honor to be here with all of you who’ve served our country. America is the brightest beacon of freedom the world has ever known for one simple reason – because of you – our veterans, the men and women who put service above self.

My extended family looks a lot like this crowd today – they’ve served in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. My brother Gary served 20 years in the United States Navy and served in the Persian Gulf at the same time as you, Roy. I’ve seen firsthand the sacrifice you and your families have made.

In times of war and in times of peace, heroes among us have stepped forward. You are those heroes. You stood in the face of dangers known and unknown and protected us from threats from around the world. You sacrificed so much, asked for so little in return, other than the freedom you fought do defend. On behalf of all Texans, I want to thank you for your commitment to our country.

Texans have played a powerful role in defending this nation. More than a million have served. Many more have trained and lived on military installations in the Lone Star State. And today, Texas is the proud home to almost two million veterans, active-duty military, Reserve & National Guard and their families.

I am grateful to the Texas VFW for all you do to help those who have served. The support, fellowship and financial assistance you provide for our Texas veterans, for those on active duty and for those who return home broken from battle is critical to ensure our veterans are respected, that their sacrifices are recognized and their return to civilian life is eased.

But there is more we must do. First we must improve your access to healthcare. No veteran who has fought for this country should be denied access to healthcare because of bureaucratic bungling at the Veteran’s Administration. Having served on the frontlines, you should go to the front of the line to get the healthcare you need.

The VA in Washington is falling short of its obligations. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the RGV. Even the President recognizes this. On a trip to the RGV in 2008, Barack Obama said, “We need a VA hospital right here in the Valley.” Veterans shouldn’t have to drive 200 miles for treatment. It’s now 2015 and I’m calling on the President to keep his word. It’s time to build that VA hospital in the Rio Grande Valley. This week – as Governor – I sent a request to the President asking that he fulfill his promise to build that hospital to care for our veterans in the RGV.

The timing couldn’t be better. We’re opening a new medical school and a state-of-the-art hospital at UTRGV. The co-location of a VA hospital at UTRGV would be a force multiplier ensuring that the growing number of veterans in South Texas have access to first rate healthcare.

That first rate care includes mental healthcare. If a veteran or service member asks for help with PTSD, we can’t allow the backlog at the VA to prevent timely care. I am calling on the Texas Legislature to provide mental health screenings to veterans and service members at no cost.

We must also do more to help veterans in the job market. Texas leads the nation in job creation and yet the unemployment rate for our veterans remains high. That is unacceptable.

By lowering financial barriers, we can help Texas veterans create new jobs for yourselves and for others. That’s why I am asking the Texas Legislature to exempt new businesses – formed by veterans – from having to pay registration fees to the state to open their businesses. I’m also recommending that newly formed, veteran-owned businesses be exempt from paying state franchise taxes for the first five years. And I’m asking state licensing agencies to waive licensing exams and fees for veterans with the required education, training and practical experience gained in the military. If the training you received as an electrician, a technician or a lineman meets the standard of the United States Military, it should be good enough for the state of Texas.

As Governor, I will constantly work to find ways like these to help our veterans. It’s our duty to help those who helped make America so exceptional. And it’s our duty to honor those whose sacrifice has preserved our freedom.

Along those lines, I wanted you to be the first to know…In honor of a Texas son, a Navy SEAL and an American hero – a man who defended his brothers and sisters in arms on and off the battlefield – I am declaring February 2nd Chris Kyle Day in Texas. We will commemorate his passing. But more importantly, remembering his answering of the call of duty.

We thank Chris Kyle and all of you for your service and sacrifice. And we rededicate ourselves to a cause greater than ourselves. To freedom for our children, their children and for generations yet to be born. May God bless you and all who wear the uniform of the United States of America.

Thank you.

Chris Kyle was tragically killed in 2013 at a local gun range,  by a fellow veteran.


Etan Patz murder suspect goes on trial

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The first child to appear on the milk carton Etan Patz disappeared 35 years ago from a New York City neighborhood. Etan’s disappearance shook parents across the nation to the reality of a safe America for kids.

Six-year-old Etan Patz disappeared in 1979 on the first day his parents allowed him to walk to school by himself. Etan’s disappearance launched a massive search and eventually became the catalyst for a missing children’s movement symbolized by Etan’s photo on a milk carton. The man who confessed to the kidnapping and murder of Patz went on trial Friday.

The lead suspect Pedro Hernandez was a teenage clerk near Etan’s bus stop; he lured the boy into the store’s basement and then strangled him. Hernandez made a videotaped confession in 2012 and re-enacted the crime for investigators. Hernandez’s arrest, 33 years to the day after Etan disappeared, upended a long-held and widespread belief among many — including law enforcement officials, the boy’s parents and a New York civil court judge — that another man was responsible. The blond, blued-eyed child was among the first missing children to appear on a milk carton. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan designated the day he vanished — May 25 — National Missing Children’s Day.

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Fugitive Florida treasure hunter arrested by US Marshals

In this Aug. 29,1991 photo, Tommy Thompson, left, stands at the helm of the Arctic Explorer as Bob Evans, center, and Barry Schatz look on in Norfolk, Va.  (AP Photo/Columbus Dispatch, Doral Chenoweth III)
Tommy Thompson

In this Aug. 29,1991 photo, Tommy Thompson, left, stands at the helm of the Arctic Explorer as Bob Evans, center, and Barry Schatz look on in Norfolk, Va. (AP Photo/Columbus Dispatch, Doral Chenoweth III)

 

BOCA RATON, Fla. — One the world’s most famous real-life treasure hunters Tommy Thompson was arrested on Tuesday in Boca Raton by the U.S. Marshals Service after failing to show up for a hearing on a lawsuit brought on by his fellow backers. Authorities say he has been in hiding for more than two years.

Thompson made his fame in 1988 when he discovered the sunken SS Central America also known as the “Ship of Gold.” The sidewheel steamer went down in a hurricane about 200 miles off South Carolina in 1857; 425 people drowned and tons of gold from the California Gold Rush was lost, contributing to an economic panic.

Thompson is being accused of cheating his investors out of their share of one of the richest finds in U.S. history. Thompson and his crew sold the bars and coins they recovered from the wreck in 2000 for $50 million dollars. One hundred and sixty one investors paid Thompson nearly $13 million to find the wreck and they never saw any of the proceeds leading to two investors suing him.

Thompson was arrested with his girlfriend at a luxurious hotel in West Boca Raton, Florida. Federal marshals reported that Thompson and his girlfriend paid cash for the room and rented under an alias. When the arrest warrant was issued in 2012, he disappeared from Vero Beach, Florida where he left behind cellphones, bank wraps and a book with a page marked title “Live your life on a cash-only basis.”

The pair made their first court appearance on Wednesday in West Palm Beach. Authorities are working to send Thompson back to Ohio.


Sarah Palin addresses Freedom Summit crowd

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Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin was one of the many potential GOP candidates that spoke before a large crowd at the Iowa Freedom Summit on Saturday. She spoke about the wonderful memories she has of Iowa, including meeting the real American Sniper Chris Kyle there as well as running a half-marathon in Storm Lake. Palin’s speech lasted 35 minutes covering a wide range of topics including national security, GOP strategy for 2016 and the democrats’ routine lies.

Gov. Palin pounced on the White House’s refusal to call the “800-pound elephant in the room” radical Islam. “It is any Muslim who would choose evil, whose loyalty to a death-cult perversion is so darkened and has deceived their soul that they actually think they’re welcome here to transform here. No. What we do is strengthen our military, we respect our troops and let them, our troops as our gatekeepers, we let them tell jihadists, ‘Uh-uh, this is our house, get the hell out.’ ”

Governor Palin fought back against attacks against her including allowing her son to use the Palin dog, Jill Hadassah, as a footstool and the more recent controversy over her holding up a sign reading “Fuc_ You Michael Moore,” with gun sights drawn inside of the o’s in Moore. During the speech, she urged conservatives to take on Hillary Clinton in 2016 and said she’s grateful we have a deep bench. “It is good that we have a deep bench and its primary competition that will surface the candidate who’s up to the task and unify and this person has to because knowing what the media will do throughout all of 2016 to all of us it’s going to take more than a village to beat Hillary.”

On Thursday Palin told ABC News, she is very interested in running for President.


President Obama set to call for tax increases during State of the Union

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President Obama is set to deliver his State of the Union speech on Tuesday in front of a Republican controlled Congress. White House officials reported on Saturday that the President will introduce a tax package calling for billions in tax increases on top earners in an attempt to fund new tax credits and other projects the White House claims will help the middle class. President Obama has been touting how he wants to revamp the tax codes and close loopholes in hopes of keeping the American economy growing, and help grow the middle class.

In preparation for Obama’s second to last address, he has been traveling the country and unveiling White House proposals including free community college to qualified students, paid sick leave and improving online security following the Sony Pictures cyber-attack.

The Obama administration said that closing loopholes for the wealthy would generate revenue of $320 billion over 10 years; the new tax breaks that Obama plans to propose would cost $235 billion over 10 years. The increased taxes would help fund the free community college plan. The highlight of the president’s proposal is his increase on the capital gains and dividends for couples who make more than $500,000 per year to 28 percent. President Obama is hoping to move the revenue earned into several measures which include:

  • A credit of up to $500 for families in which both spouses work. The administration says 24 million couples would benefit from the proposal, which would apply to families with annual income up to $210,000.
  • Expanding the child care tax credit to up to $3,000 per child under age 5. The administration says the proposal would help more than 5 million families with the cost of child care.
  • Overhauling the education tax system by consolidating six provisions into two, a move that could cut taxes for 8.5 million families. Republicans have been open to the idea of consolidating education tax breaks.

During Obama’s radio broadcast, he gave a preview of whom he selected to sit in the “presidential box” during his speech. He has invited a woman who expanded her business through federal loans, an Afghanistan war veteran and student who is repaying his loans and obtained healthcare through federal programs. I’ll call on this new Congress to join me in putting aside the political games and finding areas where we agree so we can deliver for the American people,” Obama said.

Following his speech, he will speak at Boise State University in Idaho on Wednesday and then travel to the University of Kansas. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has warned the president again that he needs to abandon his “go-it-alone” approach and hopes that Tuesday can be a fresh start for working together. President Obama is not expected to make any major foreign policy announcements but will probably call for Congress not to increase sanctions against Iran.


U.S. Supreme Court set to end debate over gay marriage

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After decades of arguing, the United States Supreme Court has agreed to consider four cases. The four cases come from Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. The court has allowed more time for hearing arguments from one hour to two-and-a-half hours.

Supporters of traditional marriage want the decision to play out in politics, rather than have a judge’s order allow same-sex couples to be married. Thirty-six states permit gay people to get married, which covers nearly 70 percent of the American population. The issue comes before the court after a wave of lower court rulings struck down marriage bans in nearly 60 separate cases.

The court faces answering two questions; first, whether the American Constitution forces states to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples. Secondly, whether states are required to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. Court decisions currently on hold have struck down bans in five states. The court will hear arguments in April and make a decision by late June.

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council released a statement calling the court’s decision a “long-overdue ruling to restore the freedom of the people to uphold marriage in their state laws as the union of a man and a woman.”

Attorney General Eric Holder spoke up for the White House administration saying they are urging the court to make marriage equality a reality for all Americans. Americans have changed their opinion on the subject from 27 percent approval in 1996 to 55 percent approval for same-sex marriage in 2014.

Some within the Republican party believe this issue will play a key role in the 2016 presidential race. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush has slowly changed his position towards same-sex marriage and recently said in a statement: “We live in a democracy, and regardless of our disagreements, we have to respect the rule of law,” and called for “respect for the good people on all sides of the gay and lesbian marriage issue.” Former Fox News host Mike Huckabee last year threatened to leave the party if they cave on the issue. However, one political strategist believes that gay marriage will not be a “hallmark” of the 2016 race.


Immigrants set to receive Mexican birth certificates in U.S.

Visitors walk from the Mexican Consulate in Little Rock, Ark., after the grand opening of the building in this Wednesday, April 25, 2007 file photo. The Mexican government on Thursday Jan. 15, 2015 will start issuing birth certificates to its citizens at consulates in the United States, seeking to make it easier for them to apply for U.S. work permits, driver's licenses and protection from deportation. (AP/File)
Visitors walk from the Mexican Consulate in Little Rock, Ark., after the grand opening of the building in this Wednesday, April 25, 2007 file photo. The Mexican government on Thursday Jan. 15, 2015 will start issuing birth certificates to its citizens at consulates in the United States, seeking to make it easier for them to apply for U.S. work permits, driver's licenses and protection from deportation. (AP/File)

Visitors walk from the Mexican Consulate in Little Rock, Ark., after the grand opening of the building in this Wednesday, April 25, 2007 file photo. The Mexican government on Thursday Jan. 15, 2015 will start issuing birth certificates to its citizens at consulates in the United States, seeking to make it easier for them to apply for U.S. work permits, driver’s licenses and protection from deportation. (AP/File)

— On Thursday, the Mexican government began issuing birth certificates to its citizens at consulates in the United States. This move is seen as a way of helping immigrants stay in the country under the extreme immigration policy President Obama put in place.

Birth certificates will make it easier for Mexican immigrants to apply for drivers licenses, work permits and ultimately protection from deportation. Until now, the Mexican government required its citizens to get birth certificates in Mexico. Many had to ask friends and families living in Mexico to retrieve them.

While Republicans in Congress are trying to undo Obama’s plan to shield millions of immigrants living illegally in the U.S. from deportation, Mexico is trying to help them stay here and continue sending money back to relatives across the border. About half the 11 million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally are from Mexico, and immigration experts say roughly 3 million of them could be eligible under the administration’s plan.

The new practice comes two weeks after California — home to more Mexicans than any other state — began issuing driver’s licenses to immigrants who are in the country illegally.

U.S. Representative Duncan Hunter complained that American and Mexican policies have combined to send more people across the border. “The administration’s position and efforts seem to better align with Mexico’s interests than they do with our own — and that’s disappointing,” he said.

Mexican migrant workers living abroad sent home $21.6 billion to their families in 2013, according to the country’s central bank.

This move by the Mexican government comes a day after the House approved a Department of Homeland Security funding package that would defund the administration’s executive amnesty. Mexican consulates are able to access data from regional governments, however, will have a hard time with rural villages as documents from there are not digitally recorded.

Associated Press Writer Kevin Freking contributed to this report from Washington.


Boston Bomber Tsarnaev denied relocation of trial

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A U.S. Federal appeals court denied Boston Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s latest attempt to move the trial out of Boston. First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston released a statement saying Tsarnaev’s attorneys haven’t shown any reason to justify a delay or relocation of the trial. The trial begins Monday. On Friday, O’Toole ruled that postponing jury selection would pose too great an inconvenience to the more than 1,200 people who have been summonsed for that purpose. The appeals court’s decision not to intervene means that the trial will continue as planned once jury selection is completed. Saturday’s decision read, in part, “The judges in the majority are satisfied that full consideration has been given to the issues raised by the petition.”

Tsarnaev’s lawyers have repeatedly asked to postpone and move the trial out of Boston, arguing that they need additional time to sift through the enormous amount of evidence to be presented in the trial. The long-awaited, highly anticipated trial has already been pushed back from a November start. Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty to over 30 counts related to the April 2013 attacks on the Boston Marathon that killed three and injured more than 200. He faces the possibility of execution if convicted.

As Mr. Tsarnaev sits in near solitary confinement at the prison hospital at Fort Devens, an Army base about 40 miles northwest of Boston, many say they dread seeing him in the limelight. However, they want the trial to serve a purpose. Federal death penalty trials are rare. This would be the biggest since that of Zacarias Moussaoui, a Sept. 11 conspirator, in 2006, and the trial of Timothy J. McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, in 1997. That such a trial would take place here is the source of some angst. Massachusetts has no death penalty and sentiment in this city is strongly against it


U.S. joining the hunt for missing AirAsia airliner

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141228080444-cnngo-missing-flight-path-tablet-largeEarly Monday, Indonesian government officials expanded the search for a missing jetliner with 162 passengers onboard. Indonesia has officially requested America’s help in searching for the missing AirAsia flight, which disappeared on the way to Singapore, Sunday. The State department received a request Monday to help locate the plane– carrying 162 people– and passed it onto the Defense Department. The U.S. Defense Department is now reviewing steps in how to join global efforts to determine what happened to the missing flight.

The United States had already expressed willingness to help if asked, with the Navy 7th Fleet standing ready to contribute to search efforts. Indonesia is requesting help from the United Kingdom, France and the United States for sonar devices, which will be needed for a possible underwater search. France has dispatched two investigators to Indonesia. They are due to arrive in Jakarta on Monday. The missing plane is made by Airbus, a French company. China is also assisting the Indonesian government by dispatching aircraft and ships to participate in the search and rescue efforts.

A C-130 plane from Singapore has been participating in the search, and the country’s military said it’s sending two more ships to the search area. Malaysian government officials say they have launched three vessels and aircraft to aid in the search; the Australian Air Force said they were deploying a patrol plane to help.

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Amy Adams dishes on Today show interview cancellation

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Amy Adams spoke with USA Today about her Today show interview, which was abruptly canceled early Monday. The segment was intended to promote her newest film Big Eyes but was nixed after Adams did not want to discuss the Sony hack. Adam’s part in the hacking story broke on December 12th when an exchange between Sony co-chair Amy Pascal and other execs surfaced, appearing to show that she and Jennifer Lawrence were paid two percent less than their male co-stars, Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale and director David O’Russell. Today Show released a statement about the decision to yank the segment.

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“As a news program, the Today show doesn’t allow guests to dictate restrictions on interviews. In this case, after hours of discussion we felt uncomfortable with the demands being made and we determined the best course of action for all parties involved was to cancel the interview.”

Adams, in her USA Today interview, discussed the incident. “I expressed that I was uncomfortable. I said I would rather not add my voice to this conversation.  But it was clear they were drawing a hard line. That this would be part of the conversation.” Adams noted that despite her misgivings, “I was prepared for that [line of questioning]; to whatever degree I was prepared.”

The five-time Oscar nominee hosted “Saturday Night Live” this past weekend and made no mention of the hack, choosing to make her monologue into an extended holiday-themed song and dance number. Instead, the show addressed the scandal with Mike Myers reprising his role as Dr. Evil to discuss the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who is believed to be behind the attacks, and with a bit during Weekend Update in which the dictator was played by Bobby Moynihan. Other stars linked to the scandal have also been ducking and weaving to avoid questions about the cyber-attack. Seth Rogen and James Franco, the stars of “The Interview,” had canceled all their media appearances surround the movie, partly because of concerns about their safety, well before the studio announced that it was halting distribution of the flick.


New York Rep. Michael Grimm pleads guilty

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In a Brooklyn federal court on Tuesday, Representative Michael Grimm pleaded guilty to one count of tax fraud. His guilty plea comes a month after he was re-elected for a third term. Grimm was indicted for under-reporting the payroll of his restaurant Healthalicious. He pleaded not guilty in federal court and was later released on bond. Mr. Grimm apologized for his actions and said what he did was wrong, but said he does not plan to step down.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi demanded that Speaker Boehner must insist that Grimm resign immediately. Mr. Grimm had pledged in April to fight the charges “tooth and nail,” but also asked to be removed from his post on the House Financial Services Committee while he dealt with his legal matters. A felony conviction does not disqualify a person from serving in Congress, other than under the 14th Amendment or for certain treasonous acts. It would take a rare vote by his fellow lawmakers to expel him from the House. Republicans were at least prepared in advance to push back against Democrats’ inevitable attack that the GOP was keeping a convicted felon among its ranks. Grimm’s sentencing was set for June 8, guaranteeing that he will be free and able to serve in Congress at least until then.

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Sony stands behind pulling the plug on “The Interview”

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After a recent threat from North Korean hackers, Sony decided to pull “The Interview” from theaters nationwide ahead of its Christmas Day release. The comedy film, starring James Franco and Seth Rogen, depicts the assassination of North Korean dictator Kim Jung Un. President Obama joined voices saying he thought Sony made a mistake by pulling the plug on the film’s release. Obama’s statement came hours after the FBI announced North Korea is officially responsible for the cyber-attack on Sony Pictures.

Government agencies provided a list of options to respond to the recent attack by North Korea. A variety of options including banking and economic sanctions, but does not include adding North Korea to the list of state sponsors of terrorism. An FBI investigation linked the malware, infrastructure and techniques a group of hackers called “Guardians of Peace” used in the Sony attack to previous North Korean cyber-attacks. The Korean hackers leaked private corporate emails, the latest bond screenplay, and financial reform as well as threatening to attack movie theaters showing “The Interview.” No video on demand distributors or streaming services have offered to carry the film. President Obama during his year-end press conference discussed the mistake that he believe Sony made.

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President Obama changes the course of US-Cuba relations

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After five decades of heated U.S.-Cuba relations, President Obama has announced that the U.S. would restore diplomatic relations it dismantled with Cuba nearly 50 years ago, drawing opposition from both parties. Lawmakers from both sides oppose the plan of reconciling with the communist run country. President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro held 18 months of secret talks guided by the Vatican and Canada. They both agreed Tuesday on a prisoner exchange as well as the opening of embassies in both countries.

Obama delivered a speech on Wednesday announcing the end of an outdated policy of isolating Cuba which has failed to achieve change on the island. According to Obama, the moves were made possible by Cuba’s release of American Alan Gross, who was imprisoned in Cuba for the past five years. Obama also mentioned that Cuba released an intelligence official who spied for the United States and was imprisoned for 20 years. In exchange for Gross and the spy, Obama returned three Cuban intelligence agents that were being held in the United States. While Obama was addressing the U.S., President Raul Castro addressed the people of Cuba. Lawmakers were swiftly to condemn Obama’s major foreign policy announcement.

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Jeb Bush officially exploring a 2016 campaign

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Early Tuesday, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush revealed that he has decided to explore the possibility of a run for president in 2016. Bush made this announcement via Facebook discussing his plans to establish a leadership PAC that will give him more of an opportunity to travel and talk with voters across the nation. His announcement comes on the heel of a number of appearances he made in several early primary states. He also recently announced plans to release documents from his time as governor.

Jeb is the son of former President George H.W. Bush and brother of George W. Bush. He is a favorable candidate among the Republican establishment but faces many challenges from strong conservatives. He also has the potential of raising more money than anyone in the field, but is expected to be attacked over his support of Common Core guidelines, immigration reform and other issues. This move to form a committee will ultimately lead to questions on how he will set himself apart from his dad and brother who both were unpopular as they began to leave office. Bush’s announcement puts pressure on his fellow colleagues both from the establishment wing as well as the conservative wing of the party.

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Ferguson increases number of National Guardsmen patrolling the streets

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ferguson national guardAfter an evening of chaos in Ferguson, Missouri, Governor Jay Nixon on Tuesday tripled the number of the National Guard forces patrolling the area. Tensions were high as darkness fell and troops and police were out in force. Four people including one woman was detained in front of the Police Department where most of the extreme protesting took place. In comparison to Monday’s riots, the area was calm.

Earlier Tuesday, Gov. Jay Nixon pledged to beef up law enforcement here to prevent a second night of violence over the non-indictment of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown Jr. Brown’s family lawyers criticized the grand jury process as well as the handling of the case.

Governor Nixon’s announcement comes after Ferguson Mayor Knowles said that the National Guard wasn’t deployed quick enough calling the misstep “deeply concerning.” Wilson spoke for the first time Tuesday night since the non-indictment in an interview with ABC. The interview will air in three parts, beginning Tuesday on “World News with David Muir.” Wilson released a letter Monday evening thanking his supporters. According to the local Fire Chief reported that twelve commercial buildings in Ferguson were burned down during the protests and firefighters responded to fires at eight others.

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Obama announces his illegal executive action on immigration reform

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Obama’s order will not give legal status for undocumented immigrants but a three-year delay for deportation proceedings. They will also not be eligible for subsidies under Obamacare or Social Security benefits. A key element of Obama’s plan is to instruct immigration authorities to target those undocumented immigrants who are dangerous rather than law-abiding undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and residents and others. Obama said authorities would go after “felons, not families. Criminals, not children. Gang members, not a Mom who’s working hard to provide for her kids.” White House leaders insist that Obama’s moves are deeply grounded in law and constitutional precedent, despite claims by Republicans that they represent an unlawful overreach of his authority as president and his oath of office. President Obama emphasized that undocumented workers broke the law and will be held accountable. Democrats insist that Obama’s moves were in line with immigration actions ordered by presidents, including Reagan and George H.W. Bush, for years. The changes that Obama announced, however, fall far short of the reforms that could be enacted were Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration bill. House Republicans have passed around a letter calling upon House leadership to block funding for the implementation of current or future executive actions that would create additional work permits and green cards.   Read More at Examiner.com


US Navy conducts first F-35C carrier landing

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The Navy’s newest line of F35’s has made its first trial landing on an aircraft carrier. Off the coast of San Diego on Monday, the US Navy gave a glimpse into the future of naval aircraft. This was the first of an arrested landing; meaning the jet was brought to a complete stop using a tail hook grabbing a wire stretched across the carrier’s deck. The wire is attached to a gear system that brings the plane to a stop. The fighterjet landed on the historic USS Nimitz, the oldest active carrier in the Navy’s fleet. Tests of the F-35C is scheduled to continue for the next few weeks with a planned operational date in 2018. The F-35C is one version that has been developed by the military for use by the Marines and Air Force. The pilot of the F-35C Commander Tony Wilson expressed his excitement seeing America’s latest aircraft on the flight deck of her oldest aircraft carrier.

 

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One World Trade Center welcomes its first tenant

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The tallest building in the Western Hemisphere is open for business. One World Trade Center opened is doors Monday morning to its new tenant Publishing giant, Conde Nast. The building opens its doors 13 years after the original World Trade Center was destroyed on September 11th 2001. One World Trade Center is a 104 story and $3.9 billion skyscraper that once again dominates the Manhattan skyline. It is now the center piece of a 16-acre site where more than 2,700 people died and were buried under the mounds of debris from the attacks. From the northeast corner of the site, the tower offers a view of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum as well as a view that stretches from Manhattan all the way to Connecticut and the Atlantic Ocean.

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Jewish boy will be focal point of the Supreme Court

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3c3274a270a529cdb17f12feda76e852Menachem Binyamin Zivotofsky is a 12-year-old boy who has been at the forefront of what could become an international incident. 12 years ago, he was born in Jerusalem and his parents want his birthplace to be officially listed as “Israel” on his passport. U.S. policy since 1948 has been that Jerusalem is a city. Congress passed a law in 2002 stating that of citizens born in Jerusalem “the Secretary shall upon request record the place of birth as Israel.” However at the time President Bush signed it, he included a signing statement opposing that provision, calling it unconstitutional. Zivotofsky’s case has created a tug of war between Obama and Congress. The question becomes who is responsible for recognizing foreign countries. These minor cases can lead to an uproar in the Middle East; this issue has been unresolved for 238 years. As with all cases, someone must lose.  In this instance it most likely will be young Zivotofsky.

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High school shooting victim succumbs to injuries

Second victim dies from Washington shooting

Second victim dies from Washington shooting

A 14 year old victim injured during a high school shooting at Marysville-Pilchuk High School died. She raises the number of victims to two; another girl was killed by gunman Jaylen Fryberg. Three others remain hospitalized from the Friday shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck High School, 30 miles north of Seattle. 14 year old Gia Soriano,who was hospitalized in critical condition with head injuries succumbed to her wounds according to the hospital staff.  Her family released a statement through the hospital staff during a press conference.

We are devastated by this senseless tragedy. Gia is our beautiful daughter and words cannot express how much we will miss her.

 

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Congress holds hearing on American response to Ebola crisis

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Chairman Darrell Issa of a House oversight committee called the latest Ebola case in New York “particularly distressing.” He was one of the many members who spoke at a hearing where military and health officials were testifying. Republicans have questioned the White House response to Ebola. This is the third hearing Congress has held on Ebola since Thomas Eric Duncan became the first person to die from the disease in Dallas, Texas; two of his nurses are recovering.

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Ben Bradlee is a journalist who refused to say no

Bradlee, a former Washington Post executive editor and Woodward, a former Post reporter, pose for a photo during a tour of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda

Former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee died October 21st of natural causes. He was a veteran as well as a dedicated journalist who along with Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward changed the face of investigative journalism with their dedicated unraveling of the Watergate scandal. Bradlee was born on August 26, 1921 in Boston, Mass and joined the Navy ROTC at Harvard and later commissioned an officer after graduating. (Read More..)

 

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Florida’s “loud music” killer sentenced to life in prison

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Florida resident Michael Dunn, convicted of first-degree murder for shooting a teenager over loud music outside a local convenience store, has been sentenced to life in prison. The sentencing comes after a second trial convicted Dunn after the first ended in  a deadlock. Prosecutors claimed Dunn fired 10 times into a sport utility vehicle carrying black teenagers in November 2012, killing 17-year-old Jordan Davis. The presiding Judge made the decision Friday evening.

Dunn made some remarks after his sentence was handed down. “I am mortified I took a life, whether it was justified or not.” Judge Russell Healey sentenced the Florida software developer to life in prison without the possibility of parole.  Dunn testified in both trials that Davis was holding a shotgun or stick-like weapon, and opened fire because he feared for his life.  But officers did not recover a weapon or gun in the victim’s vehicle.

Healey sentenced Dunn to 30 years in prison for each attempted murder count. Dunn has served 692 days in prison.  The victim’s parents, Dunn’s parents as well as one of the teenagers who was involved attended the hearing.  He read a statement to the court which lasted a mere 25 seconds:

I want the Davis family to know I truly regret what happened. I’m sorry for their loss.  If I could roll back time and do things differently, I would.  I was in fear for my life and I did what I thought I had to do. Still, I am mortified I took a life, whether it was justified or not.”

The mother of Jordan Davis, Lucia McBath, gave an emotional statement at the sentencing.  She said,in part,

“I miss his big, wide, toothy smile.  For me, there will be no college graduation. There will be no daughter-in-law. For me, there will be no future generation.  I too must be willing to forgive. And so I choose to forgive you Mr. Dunn for taking my son’s life. I pray that God has mercy on your soul.”

Jordan’s father also gave a statement saying his life was shattered on November 23, 2012 and now calls that day Black Friday for a “completely different reason,” “After the longest hour of my life, the hospital confirmed that Jordan Russell Davis was deceased in the emergency room.” The Judge emphasized that this was a huge misunderstanding of Florida’s “stand your ground” law in this case.  He told Dunn that this tragedy could and should have been prevented.


Ebola travel ban still an option

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Center for Disease Control Thomas Frieden appeared before a House panel hearing late Thursday, discussing the current Ebola outbreak. Discussions of a possible ban on travel to and from West Africa. Representative Tim Murphy asked whether the President decided there would be no travel restriction. Frieden responded by saying, “We will consider any options to better protect Americans.”

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