The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not represent our advertisers

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The IRS paid $5.8 billion to identity thieves in 2013

It recovered more than $24 billion dollars. At least, it thinks so. The Government Accountability Offices finds the IRS does a decent job of estimating how much it pays out in refunds to people using stolen identities. But GAO says there's room for improvement, like challenging its own assumptions in a more dynamic analyis. Auditors say the IRS should present a range of possible fraudulent payment levels to reflect the uncertainty in calculating these things. The agency answers, it would love to, if only it had the money and people to do so.

HSBC Whistleblower Spills Lynch Evidence to Senate

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday conducted a two-hour session with HSBC whistleblower John Cruz in its investigation of attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch’s role in the Obama administration’s decision not to prosecute the banking giant for laundering funds for Mexican drug cartels and Middle Eastern terrorists, WND sources have confirmed.

WND was first to report in a series of articles beginning in 2012 charges by Cruz, a former HSBC vice president and relationship manager, based on his more than 1,000 pages of evidence and secret audio recordings.

The staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee focused Wednesday on Cruz’s allegations, first reported by WND Feb. 6, that Lynch, acting then in her capacity as the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, engaged in a Department of Justice cover-up. Obama’s attorney general nominee allowed HSBC to enter into a “deferred prosecution” settlement in which the bank agreed to pay a $1.9 billion fine and admit “willful criminal conduct” in exchange for dropping criminal investigations and prosecutions of HSBC directors or employees.

On Feb. 12, the Senate Judiciary Committee announced Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, had decided to postpone the Senate vote on Lynch’s confirmation until the last week of February, when Congress returns from the Presidents Day recess. The decision is widely attributed to allowing Vitter and the Senate Judiciary Committee staff time to pursue the allegations concerning Lynch’s role in the HSBC scandal.

Read more

Massive Poop Spill Shuts Down Highway Exit In Indiana

An Indiana highway ramp was shut down for hours on Thursday afternoon due to a large and possibly accidental dump in the middle of the road.

Two tons of excrement spilled onto the I-65 exit ramp in White County, according to WLFI.

The raw sewage was 6 to 8 inches deep in places, the Lafayette Journal and Courier reported.

The crappy job of clearing the road got even worse when the fecal matter froze. The newspaper reported that the ramp had to be salted and sanded before the "toxic poopsicles" could be removed.

Police told the newspaper that the driver of the truck has not been found, but said that the poop was likely dumped by accident.


Giuliani Defends Obama Criticism

Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani adamantly defended Thursday his controversial criticism of President Obama, one day after saying he does "not believe that the president loves America."

Giuliani made the remarks Wednesday at a private fundraiser for Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who is widely considered to be a prospective candidate for president in 2016. He added: “(Obama) doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country."

The comments drew widespread criticism from Democrats and liberals.

But Thursday night on "The Kelly File," when host Megyn Kelly asked Giuliani if he wished to apologize, the 2008 presidential candidate doubled down on his criticism.

"Not at all. I want to repeat it," Giuliani said. "The reality is, from all that I can see of this president, all that I’ve heard of him, he apologizes for America, he criticizes America. ... This is an American president I’ve never seen before."

Giuliani said he doesn't think Obama believes in American exceptionalism, citing the president's remarks on police tactics in the wake of the Ferguson shooting, western atrocities in the name of religion and Obama's longtime association with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, a controversial Chicago pastor.

More here

Militant Atheists: Remove the Angel

A West Virginia middle school took down the crosses from a memorial to a beloved teacher, but is standing firm on the angels etched into the stone, despite an atheist group's threat to sue on constitutional grounds.

Joann Christy's 26-year career educating children at Ravenswood Middle School came to a tragic end in 2004, when she died in a car accident. But her loved ones and the community she had served sought to remember her with an engraved, stone memorial near the school's entrance.

"There's so many kids that came through this school that were affected by her death, that were affected by her teachings, and now we're just trying to keep her memory alive here," Tracy Sadecky, a family friend, told the station.

But more than a decade later, the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation wants the memorial gone, claiming its presence on public grounds violates the First Amendment. The foundation criticized the display as a promotion of religion that infringes on students rights. reported that the foundation wrote a letter to the school requesting an investigation into the memorial and the "multiple Latin crosses" near the school's entrance.

Christy's family, apparently in an attempt to resolve the situation, reportedly agreed to the removal of the crosses, but left the angels in memory of Christy, who had a collection of angel figurines. The school has a meeting scheduled Thursday night to discuss the memorial issue and others that reportedly riled up the foundation, including a Nativity scene.


Antarctica post office seeking job applicants who can dodge 'smelly penguins,' live without showering

Are you in good shape? Able to carry a big, heavy box over slippery rocks and slushy snow? Happy not to shower for up to a month, live in close proximity to three people and 2,000 smelly penguins for five months with no power, heat or hot water and limited communications on a small island off the coast of Antarctica?

If so, we have the job for you!

The U.K. Antarctic Heritage Trust is looking for assistants to help run its post office museum and gift shop at Port Lockroy, located on Goudier Island off the Antarctic Peninsula.

Applications are currently being accepted for up to four full-time seasonal positions at the world's southernmost post office, which is visited each summer (November through March) by 18,000 people — who come by boat twice a day — and processes about 70,000 pieces of mail. Applications are due on Feb. 27.

You don't need to have post office experience to apply, but you do need an unusual skillset:


Apple Said to Be Targeting Car Production as Soon as 2020

Apple Inc., which has been working secretly on a car, is pushing its team to begin production of an electric vehicle as early as 2020, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The timeframe -- automakers typically spend five to seven years developing a car -- underscores the project’s aggressive goals and could set the stage for a battle for customers with Tesla Motors Inc. and General Motors Co., both of which are targeting a 2017 release of an electric vehicle that can go more than 200 miles on a single charge and cost less than $40,000.

“That’s the inflection point -- the proving ground -- that brings on the electric age,” Steve LeVine, author of “The Powerhouse,” a book about the automotive battery industry, said on Bloomberg TV Thursday. “Now you have Apple coming in and this is critical mass. Was GM really going to be able to match Tesla? Apple can.”

Apple, which posted record profit of $18 billion during the past quarter, has $178 billion in cash with few avenues to spend it. The Cupertino, California-based company’s research and development costs were $6.04 billion in the past year, and Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook is facing increased pressure to return cash to shareholders. The CEO has been pushing the iPhone maker to enter new categories to further envelop users’ digital lives with Apple’s products and services.

Apple’s possible foray into cars follows a similar path it’s taken to break into other industries. The company wasn’t the first to make a digital-music player or smartphone, and only entered those markets once it had a product that redefined those categories.

Apple representatives declined to comment for this story.


How Spies Stole the Keys to the Encryption Castle

AMERICAN AND BRITISH spies hacked into the internal computer network of the largest manufacturer of SIM cards in the world, stealing encryption keys used to protect the privacy of cellphone communications across the globe, according to top-secret documents provided to The Intercept by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The hack was perpetrated by a joint unit consisting of operatives from the NSA and its British counterpart Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ. The breach, detailed in a secret 2010 GCHQ document, gave the surveillance agencies the potential to secretly monitor a large portion of the world’s cellular communications, including both voice and data.

The company targeted by the intelligence agencies, Gemalto, is a multinational firm incorporated in the Netherlands that makes the chips used in mobile phones and next-generation credit cards. Among its clients are AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint and some 450 wireless network providers around the world. The company operates in 85 countries and has more than 40 manufacturing facilities. One of its three global headquarters is in Austin, Texas and it has a large factory in Pennsylvania.

In all, Gemalto produces some 2 billion SIM cards a year. Its motto is “Security to be Free.”


Obama Expected to Appeal Immigration Ruling Today

The Obama administration’s bid to set aside a Texas judge’s order that derailed its immigration reform plans may pivot on a narrow finding that policy makers failed to follow federal rules for drawing up new guidelines.

At the request of 26 states, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen, whose courthouse sits in the Texas border town of Brownsville, blocked the new program late Monday. It would have let as many as 5 million people who illegally entered the country avoid deportation.

The U.S. Justice Department may decide Friday to ask that the ruling be put on hold as it appeals it, a person familiar with the matter said Thursday.

The states sued the federal government last year after Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson issued a series of memoranda to those agencies responsible for immigration matters. The memos established new deferred-action policies enabling some undocumented immigrants to remain in the U.S. and apply for work permits and some government benefits.

The suing states accused the Obama administration of overstepping its constitutional authority and of sidestepping the normal process for rule-making.

Hanen, in his 123-page decision, said he didn’t need to reach the constitutional issue yet. He addressed the more limited question of whether the policy was invalid because the DHS hadn’t made its new rules public, such as by publishing them in the Federal Register, and hadn’t invited public comment before they took effect.

More here

Siesta Beach Named Best Beach In The United States By TripAdvisor

Sure Hawaii and the Caribbean have beautiful, swoon-worthy beaches, but if you're looking to escape the cold -- your #1 beach destination is within the continental United States. TripAdvisor's annual rankings for the 25 Best Beaches in the US just came out, and Siesta Beach, Florida claimed the top spot.

Siesta Key has always been one of Florida's best beach towns. Known for its quirky shops and perfect, turquoise water, the famous Dr. Beach declared the whole island of Siesta Key the best beach in the country back in 2011.

Considering 3 out of the top 5 beaches are in Florida, we think you need to pack your bags and head to the Sunshine State, ASAP. But first, a little Siesta zen:


Southern Universities Still Wrestling With Racist Pasts

Tillman Hall is the building that goes on the Clemson University posters, at least the ones that don’t feature the football stadium or an orange paw print. The red brick building with a clock tower is the grandest and best- known structure on campus. It’s also named for a vehement racist. The building's namesake, Benjamin Tillman, was a South Carolina governor and U.S. senator in the late 19th century, best known for his fiery rhetoric and for helping to craft the Jim Crow laws. He also helped found Clemson.

Clemson, along with other Southern universities, and even some in the North, is now wrestling with that troubled legacy. The Clemson Faculty Senate last week passed a resolution asking the administration asking to change the name. Jane Lindle, an education professor with an office in the building who is on the Faculty Senate, said that its name presents two sets of problems for her. On a practical level, it’s “an obstacle” to attracting talented faculty. The history behind the name is a deterrent, and its quotidian familiarity creates an ethical problem: “It raises the issue of why aren’t we educating folks better about some of the negative symbolism that they take for granted,” she said.

For students who know the history, the name can send a hurtful message. A black Clemson student named Edith Dunlap told the Greenville News that to see the building on her campus is a “slap in the face.”


Modcloth Goes One Step Further And Puts Its Employees In Swimsuit Photo Shoot

Online retailer Modcloth has abided by the sentiment that "real is beautiful" for quite some time. The company has been praised for offering a broad range of sizes to its customers and pledging to stop photoshopping its models. Now, Modcloth has gone even further by deciding to use its own employees to show off its latest swimwear options.

The company plucked six employees and had them pose in a variety of styles. The photos will run as promotional images on the website, appear on its blog and will be featured in upcoming Modcloth style stories.

Ocean City, FOP Reach First Impasse In Union Contract Talks; Arbitration Likely If Issues Unresolved

OCEAN CITY – For the first time since the police department unionized, the Ocean City lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police’s membership has voted to go to arbitration with the Town of Ocean City as the two parties have come to a standoff during negotiations.

“As of right now, we have kind of reached an impasse. We are still working towards coming up with a resolution without arbitration. However, we have notified the city of our intent to go to arbitration,” Ocean City Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Lodge 10 President Shawn Jones said.

In the spirit of wanting to come to a resolution, Jones did not want to go into detail of the dispute but he did indicate it is in regards to pay and benefits.

“Unfortunately, we are so far apart from where our membership feels we need to be. In 2008, we conceded our Cost Of Living Adjustment (COLA) and we haven’t had a Cost Of Living Adjustment since 2008, so we are going on seven years without that type of adjustment,” Jones said. “We negotiated for four and half days and just weren’t able to come close to an agreement.”

The FOP’s legal counsel has contacted City Solicitor Guy Ayres letting him know the FOP membership has voted to go to arbitration if the city is not willing to reconsider.

“We are disappointed in the city’s position on things. As of right now, we are filing for arbitration but if we are able to get back to the table and work out a deal we would be interested in doing so,” Jones said. “As of right now, the ball is in their court.”


Hilarious Kid Photobombs

Former CIA director: Obama 'scared' to call ISIS terrorists 'Islamic

Former CIA director James Woolsey said Thursday that President Obama 'looks scared' to called members of Middle Eastern terrorist groups 'Islamic,' just hours after the conclusion of a White House 'Countering VIolent Extremism' summit that studiously avoided pinning terrorism on Islamists.

Sitting FBI director James Comey was not invited to the event, but his counterpart from Russia – Aleksandr Bortnikov, the director of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) – attended.

The FSB is the post-Soviet successor to the infamous KGB.

Woolsey told a CNN audience that Obama 'looks scared. He looks as if he's afraid of using the adjective "Islamic" to describe the terrorists' from ISIS, al-Qaeda and other international terror groups bent on mass-murder and global destruction.


Vanilla Ice claims 'misunderstanding' after burglary arrest

Robert Van Winkle, better known as rapper Vanilla Ice, was released from custody on Wednesday after being arrested over accusations of breaking into and stealing from an abandoned Florida home.

The 47-year-old said it had been a misunderstanding and "it will all be cleared up".

Lantana police said Mr Van Winkle had been renovating the house next to the property where items had been stolen.

Hatzel Vela from ABC news reports.

Read more
Vanilla Ice arrested on suspicion of Florida burglary

Obama: 'Islam Has Been Woven Into the Fabric of Our Country Since Its Founding'

We hear a lot about the United States' Judeo-Christian heritage, but according to President Obama, "Islam has been woven into the fabric of our country since its founding."

That's what the president told a White House conference on "countering violent extremism" on Wednesday.

Obama has said similar things in the past:

"I also know that Islam has always been a part of America’s story,” Obama said in a June 2009 speech in Cairo, Egypt. "Islam has always been part of America," he said in a 2010 statement marking the start of Ramadan. And in a 2014 statement marking Eid, Obama said the holiday "also reminds us of the many achievements and contributions of Muslim Americans to building the very fabric of our nation and strengthening the core of our democracy."

According to a Heritage Foundation paper, shortly after America's founding, the United States "was dragged into the affairs of the Islamic world by an escalating series of unprovoked attacks on Americans by Muslim pirates, the terrorists of the era," who looted American ships and captured American sailors, holding them for ransom or selling them as slaves.

More here

German nurse 'sorry' for killing patients

A German former nurse, who confessed to killing more than 30 patients by administering lethal drug doses, has apologised to relatives of his victims.

The 38-year-old said he was "honestly sorry" and hoped families would find peace if he was convicted, news agency DPA reported.

Identified only as Niels H under German court reporting rules, the accused told the court he acted on impulse.

"Usually the decision to do it was relatively spontaneous," he said.

Niels H has been on trial in Oldenburg in the north of Germany since September and is accused of murder and attempted murder.

The deaths occurred at the Delmenhorst clinic, where the man worked in the intensive care unit between 2003 and 2005.

He is alleged to have killed three patients and attempted to kill two others during that time, using a heart medication that lowers blood pressure.

A psychiatric expert last month said Niels H had admitted to the crimes and also claimed to have over-medicated another 90 patients, 30 of whom died.


Murder suspect dubbed 'Michelangelo of buttocks injections'

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A Gothic hip-hop artist who did illegal cosmetic surgery on the side boasted at her murder trial Thursday that her body sculpting work was so popular she was dubbed "the Michelangelo of buttocks injections."

Padge Victoria Windslowe, who performed under the name "Black Madam," is accused of killing a 20-year-old dancer from London during a procedure at an airport hotel that involved industrial-grade silicone and Krazy Glue.

The woman's 2011 death — and the months that Windslowe spent on the lam — led Philadelphia police to investigate the strange world of "pumping parties" and underground surgery.

"Everyone was calling me 'the Michelangelo of buttocks injections,'" Windslowe, 45, of Philadelphia told a judge at a final pretrial motion Thursday morning, just before her trial got underway. "God's blessed my hands with everything I touch. I make lots of money, in lots of ways."
The judge said that jurors must ultimately decide "the degree of recklessness" Windslowe assumed when they weigh third-degree murder, manslaughter and other charges.


Obama Wants Tens of Thousands More Muslim 'Refugees'

Amid concerns potential terrorists can take advantage of the U.S. refugee quota for Syrians, it may be instructive to recall the family of Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the brothers who carried out the Boston Marathon bombing, were granted political asylum in the U.S. under a similar program.

WND reported last week a senior FBI official has admitted the U.S. is finding it virtually impossible to screen out terrorists that could be hiding among the tens of thousands of Syrian “refugees” heading soon to American cities through the State Department’s refugee-resettlement program.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his parents came in April 2002 to the U.S. on a 90-day tourist visa and applied for political asylum, citing fears of persecution due to the father’s ties to Chechnya.

Tamerlan arrived in the U.S. about two years later. The brothers’ parents received asylum and then filed petitions for their four children, who each received “derivative asylum status.” The brothers are charged with exploding two pressure cooker bombs during the Boston Marathon April, 15, 2013, killing three people and injuring an estimated 264 others.

More here

John Casey: Brutal Winters Point to Planet Turning Colder

While the direction of climate change cannot be determined based on a single event, the collection of record-breaking winters shows that the planet is getting colder, climate expert John Casey tells Newsmax TV.

"Just about every American can now see that we've had a series of brutal, record-setting winters that are starting earlier, staying longer and breaking records that are 100 and 150 years old," Casey told J.D. Hayworth, who was joined by Republican strategist Ford O'Connell, on "America's Forum" Wednesday.

"Clearly, the planet is getting colder," said Casey, president of the Space and Science Research Corp.

"The warming community has utterly failed in its climate models and predictions about the climate," he said. "We are facing some stark realities right now that say without doubt that we are heading into a new cold era."

Casey, who worked as a consultant for NASA and was a White House space program adviser, is the author of "Dark Winter: How the Sun is Causing a 30-Year Cold Spell," in which he argues that the planet is currently undergoing a cooling trend.

More here

Texas attorney general argues gay couple's marriage is void

AUSTIN, Texas — As a newlywed lesbian couple in Texas celebrate defying a statewide ban on gay marriage, the state's Republican attorney general is preparing to tell a court Friday why it should rule their nuptials are invalid.

The marriage license given to two Austin women — who succeeded by seizing on a ruling this week in an unrelated estate squabble — thrust Texas back into the national spotlight over gay marriage but didn't send same-sex couples rushing to courthouses.

The Texas Supreme Court acted quickly after an appeal from Attorney General Ken Paxton to block other potential gay marriages, making the nuptials somewhat bittersweet for Suzanne Bryant and Sarah Goodfriend.

"We just feel like we were in the right place at the right time, to maybe put a nice crack in that door that's going to open up for all Texans," Bryant said. Texas is one of 13 states where gay marriage remains outlawed.

Friends and Democratic lawmakers toasted Bryant and Goodfriend, who have been together 30 years and have two teenage daughters, at a downtown Austin bar Tuesday night after county officials obeyed a judicial order to wed the couple.


FBI Chief Pointedly Not Invited to WH Summit on Extremism

The White House did not invite the director of the FBI to its Summit on Countering Violent Extremism this week, saying it did not want the focus of the conference to be on federal law enforcement, The New York Times reported.

It was noted, however, that James Comey's Russian counterpart, Aleksandr Bortnikov, was invited to the meeting.

The Times said that the decision not to invite Comey adds more uncertainty to who in the government is leading the country's efforts to counter extremists.


Prince Charles' adviser used sons to fix reputation

An explosive documentary claims Prince Charles’ former fixer sold out royal sons William and Harry to improve their dad’s tarnished reputation in the wake of Princess Diana’s death.

The BBC documentary “Reinventing the Royals” alleges that Charles’ one-time trusted adviser Mark Bolland let nothing stand in his way to repair the Prince of Wales’ sullied image.

Bolland is accused of planting stories in the British tabloids about Harry’s teenage drug use and details of William’s first meeting with Camilla Parker Bowles, whom Diana famously called the third person in her marriage.

The first of the two-part documentary aired Thursday night in Britain after being pulled last year following a challenge by Buckingham Palace lawyers.


Clinton Connection: Foundation Donors Lobbied Hillary's State Dept.

Hillary Clinton's ties to large corporations have come under more scrutiny after it was revealed that dozens of companies that have donated millions to her family's foundation also lobbied the State Department during her tenure as secretary of state.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the 60 companies who lobbied Clinton's State Department between 2009 and 2013 donated over $26 million to the Clinton Foundation in that period. The donors include instantly recognizable names like General Electric, Exxon Mobil, and Boeing.

The Journal also reports that at least 44 of the 60 companies participated in philanthropy projects valued at $3.2 billion set up by the Clinton Global Initiative, which is a wing of the foundation. At least 25 of the companies also contributed to 15 public-private partnerships created by Clinton and coordinated by the State Department.

While there is no evidence that any laws were broken, the connections do raise potentially thorny ethical questions as Clinton prepares for a likely 2016 run for the Democratic presidential nomination.

More here

Plant worker killed colleague a day after chair prank

FRANCONIA, Pa. — A worker at a suburban Philadelphia meat rendering plant has been charged with fatally stabbing a colleague a day after the co-worker yanked a chair out from under him as a prank.

Authorities said Thursday that 32-year-old Peter Atem killed 25-year-old Danny Vazquez on Wednesday at the MOPAC plant in Franconia Township.

Vazquez was killed one day after pulling a chair out from under Atem. Authorities say witnesses saw Atem stab the victim.

Police say they found Atem hiding in a shed with self-inflicted stab wounds, along with a note that said, "See you in hell. Life for life."


N.J. teacher had sex with 6 students ages 14, 15

Nicole DuFault, 35, faces 40 different charges after an Essex County grand jury found all the victims, who reported a series of sex acts with the language arts teacher at Columbia High School in Maplewood. DuFault is on film performing oral sex on one boy, prosecutors say.

A New Jersey teacher took advantage of six different students ages 14 and 15, having sex with them at school and in her car, for more than a year, prosecutors say.

Among the damning evidence is video of 35-year-old Nicole DuFault — the single mother of two young children — performing oral sex on one of the boys while another victim was nearby, according to prosecutors, who levied 40 counts of aggravated sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child against the former Columbia High School teacher.

The Maplewood, N.J., teacher was busted in September and originally charged with having sex with three students. But two more victims were discovered shortly after and a grand jury, which indicted the teacher on Tuesday, found a sixth.


Samsung Ready to Go Head to Head With Apple Pay

Samsung is ready to challenge Apple Pay.

The Korean electronics company announced today it is buying mobile payments start-up LoopPay, setting up another head-to-head match-up with its perennial rival.

In its current form, LoopPay is available as a phone case or a key fob. However, the acquisition sparks the possibility that the technology could be integrated into one of Samsung's future smartphones.

"Our goal has always been to build the smartest, most secure, user-friendly mobile wallet experience, and we are delighted to welcome LoopPay to take us closer to this goal," said JK Shin, president of Samsung, said in a statement.


Things You Should and Should NOT Do If Your Pipes Freeze

It is advice your mother gives you each time temperatures dip below the freezing mark. “Make sure to drip your faucets.” Mom is right. Leaving a faucet open during freezing cold weather can help prevent your pipes from freezing and bursting — which can lead to expensive home damage.

But do you know how many faucets to keep running at one time? And do you know which faucets are most effective when it comes to preventing frozen pipes?

“One sink is good. Usually the farthest sink from where the water comes into the house,” Henrico Fire spokesman Captain Daniel Rosenbaum advised. “If water comes in through the front of the house, look at the sink in the back of the house. That way, the water is flowing through all of the pipes on the underside of the house.”

Read more

Top Iranian Nuke Negotiator Ordered to Stop Screaming at Kerry

Iran's foreign minister and lead negotiator in nuclear talks with the United States has been ordered by the Islamic Republic's Supreme Leader to stop shouting and yelling at Secretary of State John Kerry during negotiating sessions.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif told his country's state controlled media in a recent interview that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has instructed him to stop yelling at Kerry and other top U.S. officials during the talks.

Reports about Zarif's temper first emerged in the Iranian press last November, when the United States and Iran agreed to extend talks through June of this year.

Zarif is said to "frequently shout at Western diplomats" with such force that bodyguards have been forced to enter the negotiation room.

During one incident described by Iranian officials to the press, European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton, a chief western negotiator, admitted that Zarif had been shouting, and she had gotten used to it.


Why Can't the Public See Obama's Proposed Internet Regulations?

Republican senators Mike Lee, Ben Sasse, and Rand Paul have all been high profile opponents of the Obama administrations current plan to regulate the internet -- in particular, Lee has called the regulation a government "takeover" of the internet and says it amounts to a "a massive tax increase on the middle class, being passed in the dead of night without the American public really being made aware of what is going on.”

And when Lee says that the American public isn't aware of what's going on, that is in no way hyperbole.

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai has emerged as a hero for those opposed to the regulation because Pai has been taking to the airwaves decrying the fact that the public is not allowed to see 332 pages of proposed internet regulation before they are potentially passed.

More here

Paralyzed Maryland Girl, 19, Walks in New York Fashion Week

A Maryland girl paralyzed from the waist down had her wish fulfilled Tuesday when she walked on the runway during New York Fashion Week, ABC News reported.

For nearly the past two years, 19-year-old Megan Silcott has suffered from a rare neurological disorder called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM), which resulted from an undiagnosed case of mononucleosis or “mono.”

Mono, also called the “kissing disease,” is common among teenagers and often goes away after a few weeks with a sore throat, nausea and fatigue. But that wasn’t the case for Silcott, as the infection ended up manifesting into the more serious illness ADEM. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), ADEM is characterized by inflammation in the brain and spinal cord, which damages myelin, the protective covering of nerve fibers.

ADEM reportedly attacked Silcott one morning when she couldn’t get out of bed after a night out with friends.


Newsmax Pledged $1 Million to Clinton Foundation

Conservative website Newsmax has pledged a very large donation to the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, a new report in the Wall Street Journal states.

"Newsmax, a conservative news organization, last year pledged $1 million to the Clinton Foundation over a five-year period, according to a spokesman for Chris Ruddy, the organization’s CEO. Mr. Ruddy has been friends with the Clintons since 2007," reports the Journal.

"Through a spokesman, he said the donation wasn't tantamount to an endorsement of Mrs. Clinton’s potential campaign, though he thinks she would 'make a great presidential candidate.'"


Rabbi Accused of Kidnapping, Torturing Husbands Into Granting Divorces Goes to Trial

The trial of Mendel Epstein, a New Jersey Rabbi and alleged ringleader of a kidnapping scheme designed to force husbands into granting their wives religious divorces, entered its second day in court in Trenton today.

Epstein, 69, was arrested in October 2013 for allegedly charging undercover FBI agents $60,000 to kidnap a man and coerce him into granting his wife a Judaic divorce decree.

Epstein and his son David, along with two other rabbis named in the federal complaint as Jay Goldstein and Binyamin Stimler, face federal charges of conspiracy to kidnap and kidnapping. If found guilty, the men face a maximum penalty of 20 years to life in prison.

During Wednesday’s opening statement, prosecutors played a video of allegedly Epstein discussing a staged kidnapping with two undercover FBI agents, wherein he can be heard openly discussing the use of stun guns on men's genitalia.

"If it can get a bull that weighs five tons to move," the man on the video identified by the FBI as Epstein is heard telling the undercover agents, "you put it in certain parts of his body and in one minute the guy will know."

"Mendel Epstein talked about forcing compliance through the use of 'tough guys' who utilize electric cattle prods, karate, handcuffs and place plastic bags on the heads of husbands," said FBI Special Agent Bruce Kamerman shortly after Epstein's arrest.


ISIS Leader in Mass Beheadings of Christians May Be American

U.S. intelligence officials are analyzing whether the masked Islamic State militant who appears in the video of the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians could be an American recruit, ABC News reported.

A senior U.S. official said experts are looking at facial features and speech patterns of the masked man who spoke in the video, and an expert in linguistics said he believes the man was educated in the United States, Fox News reported.

"He clearly spent a significant amount of his childhood in the United States," Professor Erik Thomas, a linguistics expert at North Carolina State University, told Gretchen Carlson on "The Real Story" Wednesday afternoon, according to Fox News.

"Whether it was all of his childhood or not, I couldn't say that. I would say probably from the time he began his schooling, he was in the United States, but he was properly exposed to Arabic all along."

More here

Shooting moose with paintball guns: a plan to target winter tick infestation

Winter tick infestations cause the animals to scratch off their fur

The owner of a B.C. wildlife shelter wants to use paintball guns to treat moose infested with ticks.

The idea is to fire insecticide powder-filled pellets at the animals to kill winter ticks that are infesting moose across the country.

The blood sucking insects force the animals to scratch away all their fur, making it hard to survive a winter.

Angelika Langen has been experimenting with ways to de-tick moose at her wildlife shelter in Smithers.

She found some powders designed for farm animals work, but applying them to wild animals wouldn't be easy.

"We found that the powders work quite well. So if can get the powder to the affected area and you powder them up, then within 24 hours — latest 48 hours — the ticks are all dead and they fall off," said Langen.


Governor Hogan Submits 331 “Green Bag” Appointments

Over 10 Percent of Names Submitted Will Fill Roles on Boards Focused on Economic Development

Governor Larry Hogan today submitted 331 appointment nominations, known as “Green Bag” appointments, to the Maryland State Senate.

The governor's appointments secretary, James Fielder, presented Senate President Mike Miller with the names of nominees, which include representatives from all 23 counties and Baltimore City. The 331 names submitted represent one of the highest totals in recent history for these types of appointees and demonstrates the outpouring of bipartisan support the governor and the administration have received from the citizens of Maryland.

“The names submitted today represent our administration’s commitment to the people of Maryland to provide the responsive, competent, and well-qualified state government they deserve and expect,” said Governor Hogan. “I am proud that they are reflective of the diverse nature of our state, and I look forward to seeing the great work that these outstanding men and women will accomplish over the next few years. Over 10 percent of today's nominations will fill roles on boards and commissions focused on economic development across the state.”

Reflecting the administration’s commitment to making Maryland a more business-friendly state, the governor made 10 nominations to the Maryland Economic Development Commission. These include established and respected leaders of the business community such as Anirban Basu, James Brady, and Aristides Melissaratos.

Governor Hogan also made a number of key nominations to the University System of Maryland Board of Regents – nominations that will help to strengthen the state’s already strong and growing public higher education system.

“The governor and I are incredibly proud of the selections we have made to fill key leadership positions throughout the state,” said Appointments Secretary Jim Fielder. “These individuals come from all parts of Maryland and from diverse ethnic and professional backgrounds. We are confident that these men and women will all work hard to change Maryland for the better."

This year's Green Bag includes appointment nominations for over 90 different boards and commissions. A sampling of the nominations include:

• Anirban Basu, Baltimore County – Maryland Economic Development Commission
• Hon. Barry Glassman, Harford County – Maryland Economic Development Corporation (MEDCO) Board of Directors
• Michael L. Higgs, Jr., Montgomery County – Public Service Commission
• Claire M. Fraser, Ph.D. – Howard County, Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO) Board of Directors
• Matthew Lee, Montgomery County – Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO) Board of Directors
• Mary Shank Creek, Washington County – Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO)
Board of Directors of Maryland
• Robert R. Neall, Anne Arundel County – University System of Maryland Board of Regents
• Theo Ngongang, Baltimore City – Critical Area Commission for the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays
• Carolyn Cummins, Worcester County – Critical Area Commission for the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays

Dating back to 17th-century England, the term “Green Bag” refers to the green satchel that is used once every year to bring the gubernatorial nominations to the Senate. It is a longstanding tradition for a member of the governor’s staff to deliver the bag once a year to the Maryland State Senate.

Sunlight continues to damage skin hours after exposure

Sunlight continues to damage people's skin and increase the risk of cancer for hours after they leave the beach and head indoors, a study shows.

Scientists at Yale University, in the US, discovered it was the supposedly protective pigment melanin that was causing the damage.

The team say the findings may lead to better sunscreens that can prevent the extra damage.

British experts said that the findings "reinforce" current advice.

When UV radiation pummels our skin cells, it can cause mutations in the DNA.

Melanin, the pigment behind a tan or natural skin tone, is the body's defence as it absorbs the radiation.

What scientists did not know previously was what happens to all the energy that the melanin has absorbed.


Cruz: Obama in 'Bizarre Doublespeak' on Radical Islam

President Barack Obama’s refusal to identify radical Muslims as the perpetrators of acts of jihad around the world, referring to them only as extremists with no mention of their religion, is some sort of "bizarre, politically correct doublespeak … simply not befitting a commander in chief," Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said Wednesday on Fox News' "The Kelly File."

It’s stupefying, according to Cruz, that the White House could hold a summit on violent extremism without identifying that it’s Islamists we are fighting.

"It is targeted at Christians, it is targeted Jews, it’s targeted Muslims in the region who do not accede to the radical Islamist view, and unfortunately the president and this administration dogmatically refuses to utter the words radical Islamic terrorism," he said.


Bored Boards Are Bad For Business. Smart Companies Are Fixing That

In at least one way, the esteemed executives who lead the world’s most powerful companies are just like you and me: They get bored at meetings. Particularly at corporate board meetings jammed with mind-numbing show-and-tell from management, stale formalities and the same few aggressive bloviators drowning out effective debate.

Yet these meetings, where chief executives update the board of directors (aka their bosses) on a company’s status and plan for the future, are critical to running a successful company. When a board isn’t paying attention, the consequences can be devastating -- for the company and even for the economy.

Some boards are doing it better, in part because they must. For many decades, most boards were sleepy backwaters stuffed with company insiders who did little more than rubber-stamp the CEO’s agenda. Then at the turn of this century, a series of accounting scandals led to devastating bankruptcies at WorldCom and Enron, which led to stricter laws regulating the boardroom.



Canning house tokens of H. B. Kennerly & Son

These tokens were used to pay the workers in the canneries years ago. They began using tokens for payment in the 1860’s and continued up into the 1950’s. These particular tokens were used beginning in 1941, which was after the government banned the use of tokens due to the unsanitary conditions caused by using them. The last year they were legal to use was 1937 or 1938. Many canners said they stopped using them because in the 1940’s, the going rate for skinning a bucket of tomatoes was five cents and they could just use nickels and not have the expense of buying tokens. The value of each token to the worker was either three or four cents prior to this. This pay rate lasted from the 1890’s up to about 1940. However, H. B. Kennerly, Jr. told me that he recalled they paid $.20 for each token. When I told him that seemed like a large amount since a good skinner could skin 100 buckets in a day and that $20.00 was a lot of money in 1941, he said that very few people could hit the 100 bucket mark. He also indicated that their bucket held four times what a regular 16 quart bucket held. This would make it five cents for a regular 16 quart bucket, the going rate at the time. This would also make for a very heavy bucket.

One token was issued for every 16 quart bucket of tomatoes the worker skinned up into the 1940’s. The tomatoes were first subjected to a “lye bath”, which loosened the skin and made removing the core with a “coring knife” easier. Many workers were employed by more than one cannery, working at one in the morning and going to another in the afternoon. They could generally skin about one hundred buckets a day. This was good money for the time, but they earned every penny of it. The tokens were turned in for cash from the canner at the end of the week. Many times the canner had a small general store in the area and would take the tokens as payment. Sometimes other stores in the area would accept a canner’s tokens for payment.

Even though the Kennerlys made a name for themselves later in the oyster business, these tokens were never used for that purpose. Many are sold today as “oyster shucking tokens”, but they were never used for that purpose. These are tomato tokens. Generally, oyster tokens command a higher price than tomato tokens because there were fewer oyster houses.

These are a very common token and if anyone wants one, I will gladly give them one. I obtained every one Mr. Kennerly had (about 4,000). There were four distinct strikings of the Kennerly tokens. They are pictured above and described below in the order they are pictured:

(large “1”) (large “1” w/hole) (small “1”) ( small “ & “ )

Hackers Reportedly Still in State Department Network

Computer hackers who breached the State Department's unclassified e-mail network this past November reportedly are still there, despite efforts to root them out.

The Wall Street Journal, citing three people familiar with the investigation, reported that government officials, including the National Security Agency and the FBI, as well as outside contractors have repeatedly scanned the network for intruders and have even taken some systems offline. However, the paper reported that investigators still see signs of hackers in the network.

Among the issues facing investigators trying to purge the State Department network of the intruders, according to the Journal, is its sheer size, as well as the fact that some of the hackers are apparently trying to regain access to the system using altered versions of their original code. It is not clear how much data, if any, has been taken by the intruders, and there is no evidence that they have access any classified networks.


Indian workers win $14M in US labor trafficking case

A New Orleans jury awarded $14M to five Indian men lured to the US after Hurricane Katrina by Signal International

A New Orleans jury on Wednesday awarded $14 million to five Indian men who were lured to the United States and forced to work under inhumane conditions after Hurricane Katrina by a U.S. ship repair firm and its codefendants.

After a four-week trial, the U.S. District Court jury ruled that Alabama-based Signal International was guilty of labor trafficking, fraud, racketeering and discrimination and ordered it to pay $12 million. Its co-defendants, a New Orleans lawyer and an India-based recruiter, were also found guilty and ordered to pay an additional $915,000 each.


'Jobs for jihadis' State Dept deputy Harf will NOT get Jen Psaki's job

Marie Harf, the embattled State Department deputy spokeswoman who insisted this week that helping ISIS jihadis find gainful employment was a better strategy than killing them, is not in line for a promotion when her boss moves to the White House on April 1, a State Department official said Thursday.

Harf said Monday night on MSNBC that 'lack of opportunity for jobs' in the Middle East should be America's focus in the war against the ISIS terror army.

She refused to back down Tuesday night on CNN, insisting that the Obama administration should 'get at the root causes' of terrorism. 'It might be too nuanced an argument for some,' she sniped at her legions of critics.

Those mockworthy moments, a State Department official said Thursday, 'are going to keep her from the top job.'



Are You Fed Up Yet?

If Fredericksen Had His Way...

Meanwhile In Salisbury...

Be Very Careful What You Wish For!

A man was sick and tired
of going to work every day
while his wife stayed home.
He wanted her to see what he went   
through so he prayed:

' Dear Lord:   
I go to work every day and put   
in 8 hours while my wife   
merely stays at home.   
I want her to know what   
I go through.   
So, please allow her body to   
switch with mine for a day.'

God, in his infinite wisdom,   
granted the man's wish.

The next morning, sure enough,   
the man awoke as a woman...   
He arose, cooked breakfast   
for his mate,   
Awakened the kids,  
Set out their school clothes,   
Fed them breakfast,   
Packed their lunches,   
Drove them to school,   
Came home and picked   
up the dry cleaning,   
Took it to the cleaners!
And stopped at the bank
to make a deposit.
Went grocery shopping,   
Then drove home to put
away the groceries.

Paid the bills and balanced
the check book.   
He cleaned the cat's litter box   
and bathed the dog.  

Then, it was already 1 P.M 
And he hurried to make the beds,   
Do the laundry, vacuum,   
Dust, And sweep and mop   
the kitchen floor.  

Ran to the school to pick up 
the kids and got into an argument   
with them on the way home.   
Set out milk and cookies and   
got the kids organized to do   
their homework.  

Then, set up the ironing board 
and watched TV while he   
did the ironing.   
At 4:30 he began peeling   
potatoes and washing   
vegetables for salad,   
breaded the pork chops   
and snapped   
fresh beans for supper.
After supper,   
He cleaned the kitchen,   
Ran the dishwasher,   
Folded laundry,   
Bathed the kids, And put   
them to bed.  

At 9 P.M. he was exhausted 
and, though his daily chores   
weren't finished, he went to   
bed where he was expected to   
make love, which he managed   
to get through without complaint.
The next morning, he awoke   
and immediately knelt by the
bed and said:
Lord, I don't know what   
I was thinking.   
I was so wrong to envy my   
wife's being able to stay   
home all day.   l  
Please!  Oh, Please!
Let us trade back.. Amen!'

The Lord, in his infinite wisdom, replied:
'My son, I feel you have   
learned your lesson and   
I will be happy to change   
things back to the way   
they were.   
You'll just have to wait   
nine months, though.   
You got pregnant last night.'