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Scaramucci comes to defense of Trump Jr (video)

Posted: 04 Jan 2018 10:18 AM PST

One-time White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci is back in the news Thursday after defending Donald Trump Jr. to mainstream news outlets in the wake of allegations from former chief strategist Steve Bannon, who was quoted in a new book saying Trump Jr.’s actions were “treasonous.”

“Let’s talk about the treason thing because you have to have criminal intent, obviously we both know that. Donald Trump Jr. is a very patriotic guy — he’s a very honest guy and so I would bet my life savings on the fact that he has done absolutely nothing treasonous,” Scaramucci said on CNN.

“And so if Steve actually said that, and let’s say that he did say that, I think it’s just a ridiculous comment. And if he was a smart enough guy and a good enough strategist, he’d get on the TV or something and say, ‘I’d like to take it back if I said it,'” he added.

There’s no love lost between Scaramucci and Bannon, who barely tolerated each other during their time together in the White House.

“At the end of the day, taking out the expletives, he’s for Steve and we are for the President,” Scaramucci said. “I think the President wanted to reward him [Bannon] for a job well-done during the campaign, but I think he diverted from the president and started focusing on his own brand and I think that’s very damaging and not the right thing to do.”

Scaramucci noted that he does not think Trump is “angry” about the preview released Wednesday from Michael Wolff’s forthcoming book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.”

“My gut tells me he’s probably not all that angry as much as he is distracted by it. He thinks it’s another unnecessary distraction,” Scaramucci said.

The post Scaramucci comes to defense of Trump Jr (video) appeared first on Dennis Michael Lynch.

Grassley posts letter accusing Comey of leaking classified memo

Posted: 04 Jan 2018 10:12 AM PST

Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley is demanding answers regarding the way memos were handled after former FBI Director James Comey spoke with President Donald Trump last year.

On Wednesday Grassley wrote a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein pointing out that James Comey may have leaked at least one classified memo to a friend shortly after he was fired as FBI director.

Grassley and his staff reviewed seven memos that Comey wrote after his meetings with Trump. He said that four of those documents contained information classified as "CONFIDENTIAL" or "SECRET."

Grassley also pointed to past reports that Comey gave four memos of his conversations with Trump to a friend, Columbia law professor Daniel Richman.

"If it's true that Professor Richman had four of the seven memos, then in light of the fact that four of the seven memos the Committee reviewed are classified, it would appear that at least one memo the former FBI director gave Professor Richman contained classified information," Grassley wrote.

Comey testified (see video, below) that he leaked those memos to a friend, Columbia University Law School professor Daniel Richman, after he was fired by Trump on May 9. Richman was instructed by Comey to read portions of the memos to Schmidt. Comey admitted that the reason he leaked the memos was to force the appointment of a special counsel, which is exactly what happened.

Richman told Fox News that he received four memos from Comey, but he claimed that the documents did not bear classification markings.

Grassley asserted in his letter that the DOJ and FBI have failed to provide crucial details about the memos and how they were handled.

He said that during a recent review of the memos, which was held in a secure facility, FBI personnel "refused" to answer questions about the chain of custody of the memos, the dates on which they were deemed classified, and who made those determinations.

In his letter, Grassley asked Rosenstein to clarify whether the DOJ or FBI have determined whether any of the memos that Comey sent to Richman contained classified information and which of the seven Comey memos had been provided to Richman. He also wants to know when Richman received the memos and whether any had classification markings on them at the time they were exchanged.

Details about how Comey transmitted the memos to Richman were also requested, along with questions regarding whether the Justice Department has initiated an investigation into improper disclosure of classified information.

The post Grassley posts letter accusing Comey of leaking classified memo appeared first on Dennis Michael Lynch.

Report: North Korea’s failed missile test crashed into their own city

Posted: 04 Jan 2018 09:55 AM PST

An errant North Korean missile crashed into a city near Pyongyang during a botched missile test in 2017.

According to The Diplomat magazine, a Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile failed during a test flight in North Korea on April 28, 2017, hitting the city of Tokchon.

Launched from the Pukchang airfield, the missile traveled only 24 miles before falling from the sky and striking a complex of industrial or agricultural buildings.

A U.S. government source with knowledge of North Korea’s weapons program asserted that the missile's first-stage engines failed after approximately one minute of flight.

The Diplomat received an exclusive report regarding the missile’s impact location, which the magazine verified using commercially available satellite imagery from April and May 2017.

Satellite images revealed that the explosion caused extensive damage in the densely populated area of Tokchon, but there was no method by which a number of casualties, if any, could be assessed.

The missile was intended to land in the northern part of the Sea of Japan, near the coast of Russia.

Media outlets around the world reported on the failed missile test when it occurred, but details regarding the landing site of the missile remained undisclosed until now.

The post Report: North Korea’s failed missile test crashed into their own city appeared first on Dennis Michael Lynch.

USA’s deadly new military weapon: “gremlin” drones

Posted: 04 Jan 2018 09:48 AM PST

The United States military is developing huge flying aircraft carriers capable of launching swarms of “gremlin” drones to be employed for spy missions or destroying radars and missiles.

Two weapons companies have been contracted by the Defense Department to develop the drones, called “gremlins.” Tests on the drone system are expected to be conducted in 2019.

The Daily Star reported that the drones would be ejected from the back of a C130 and be capable of flying 500 miles to target areas prior to being returning to the host aircraft. The gremlins will be equipped with bombs, radar and cameras.

The gremlins could be deployed high above the reach of enemy weapon systems and could be used up to 20 times.

After a mission, a gremlin could be ready for redeployment in 24 hours.

Should a gremlin not make it back to the host aircraft, it will be equipped with the ability to self-destruct.

The journal of the United States Naval Institute reported that each gremlin would cost about $700,000.

“Gremlins” was a term used during World War II to refer to imaginary mischievous creatures blamed for causing mechanical failures and faults on aircraft.

The post USA’s deadly new military weapon: “gremlin” drones appeared first on Dennis Michael Lynch.

List of companies giving bonuses due to tax cuts keeps skyrocketing

Posted: 04 Jan 2018 09:41 AM PST

The number of companies reacting to the new tax reform plan with employee bonuses, pay hikes, and additional in benefits is on pace to hit 100 by the end of the day.

President Donald J. Trump's December tax reform victory has led to thousands of financial benefits for workers, via their employers. Some of those employers have also announced additional contributions to charities, as well.

Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) is keeping a running tally of the companies who are announcing significant bonuses and changes due to the Tax reform, On Wednesday, there were some 40 names on the list. By Thursday morning, that number is 80 and growing.

According to ATR's vice president of communications, John Kartch, “Small businesses from across the country are sending me news of their tax-cut bonuses, wage hikes, and charitable donations. Many of these were only announced internally. There is a broad and deep tsunami building.”

Kartch believes the list will number over 100 by the end of the day Thursday.

Below is his list as of 10 a.m. ET on Thursday:

  1. AT&T — $1,000 bonuses to 200,000 employees; $1 billion increase in capital expenditures.
  2. AAON — $1,000 bonus checks to 2,000 employees
  3. AccuWeather – year-end bonuses to all employees. (Approx. 450 – 500 employees)
  4. Aflac – increase 401(k) match from 50% to 100% on the first 4% of compensation plus one-time $500 contribution to every employee's 401(k); $250 million increase in overall U.S. investment.
  5. American Airlines — $1,000 bonuses for every employee (excluding officers). The bonuses will total $130 million. AA had 127,600 employees as of Sept. 2017.
  6. American Bank – $1,000 bonuses for 60 employees
  7. American Savings Bank – $1,000 bonuses to 1,150 employees; base wage increase from $12.21 to $15.25
  8. Americacollect – $300 – $500 bonuses for 250 employees
  9. Aquesta Financial Holdings — $1,000 bonuses to 95 employees; base wage hike to $15 per hour
  10. Associated Bank – $500 employee bonuses (exact number receiving bonus unknown at this time); base wage will rise from $10 to $15 per hour
  11. Ball Ventures – details coming
  12. Bank of America — $1,000 bonuses to 145,000 U.S. employees
  13. Bank of Hawaii – $1,000 bonuses to 2,074 employees; base wage increase from $12 to $15
  14. Bank of the Ozarks – Bonuses of up to $1,200 for 2,300 employees
  15. BB&T – $1,200 bonuses for 27,000 employees; base wage will rise from $12 to $15 per hour; $100 million in charitable donations
  16. Boeing — $100 million in charitable donations; $100 million for workforce development; $100 million for infrastructure and facilities
  17. Canary LLC – due to tax reform, the company will hire more employees and increase capital spending.
  18. Central Pacific Bank – all 850 employees will receive $1,000 bonuses; base wage will rise from $12 to $15.25
  19. Citizens Financial Group — $1,000 bonuses for 12,500 employees and $10 million for charitable donations
  20. Colling Pest Solutions – details coming
  21. Comcast — $1,000 bonuses to 100,000 employees; at least $50 billion investment in infrastructure in next five years
  22. Comerica Bank — $1,000 to 4,500 non-officer employees; base wage increase to $15 per hour
  23. Commerce Bank – 3,450 employees will receive bonuses — $1,000 for full time employees and $250 for part time employees; $25 million in charitable donations
  24. Community Trust Bancorp — $1,000 bonuses for full time employees and $500 bonuses for part-time employees
  25. Copperleaf Assisted Living –  $200 – $600 bonuses for 175 employees
  26. Cornerstone Holdings – details coming
  27. Dayton T. Brown Inc. (engineering/testing company) — $400 bonuses for each of the 210 employees
  28. Delaware Supermarkets Inc. — $150 extra bonuses to 1,000 non-management personnel
  29. DePatco, Inc. – details coming
  30. Eagle Ridge Ranch – details coming
  31. East Idaho News – details coming
  32. Elite Roofing Systems – details coming
  33. Elite Clinical Trials – details coming
  34. Express Employment Professionals — $2,000 bonuses to more than 200 non-executive employees
  35. Fifth Third Bancorp – $1,000 bonuses for 13,500 employees; base wage will rise to $15
  36. First Hawaiian Bank – $1,500 bonuses to 2,264 employees; base wage increase to $15
  37. First Horizon National Corp. – $1,000 bonuses to 4,000 employees
  38. Frank L. VanderSloot Foundation – details coming
  39. Fort Ranch – details coming
  40. Gardner Company – details coming
  41. Gate City Bank — $1,000 hand-delivered bonus checks to 538 non-management personnel; $500,000 higher charitable giving; $500,000 worth of free home appraisals.
  42. Get Found First – details coming
  43. INB Bank — $500 bonuses to 200 employees. The bonuses will exclude the Senior Management Team.  The base wage will be raised to $15 per hour
  44. Kansas City Southern — $1,000 bonuses. (Exact number receiving bonus unknown at this time; the company employs 6,485)
  45. Kauai Cattle LLC – details coming
  46. Melaleuca – all 2,000 employees will receive a $100 bonus for each year they have worked at the company
  47. Move It Or Lose It Moving LLC – details coming
  48. National Bank Holdings Corporation – $1,000 bonuses for employees making less than $50,000 (exact number receiving bonus unknown at this time)
  49. Nationwide Insurance — $1,000 bonuses to 29,000 employees; increased 401(k) matching contributions for 33,000 employees
  50. Natural Guardian – details coming
  51. Navient – 98% of Navient's 6,700 employees will receive a $1,000 bonus (approx. 6,566 bonus-eligible employees)
  52. Nelnet — $1,000 bonuses for 4,100 employees
  53. OceanFirst Financial Corp. – base wage increase to $15 per hour
  54. Ohnward Bancshares — $1,000 bonuses for all 260 employee
  55. Pinnacle Bank — $1,000 bonuses for 1,007 employees
  56. PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. — $1,000 bonuses to 47,500 employees; an additional $1,500 in employee pension accounts; base wage hike to $15; $200 million charitable contribution
  57. Regions Financial Corporation – base wage increase to $15 per hour; $40 million in charitable donations; $100 million in capital expenditures
  58. Resident Construction LLC – details coming
  59. Riverbend Communications — details coming
  60. Riverbend Management, Inc. – details coming
  61. Riverbend Ranch – details coming
  62. Riverbend Services – details coming
  63. Rush Enterprises – $1,000 bonuses for all 6,600 employees
  64. Sinclair Broadcast Group — $1,000 bonuses for 9,000 employees
  65. Smith Chevrolet – details coming
  66. Smith Honda – details coming
  67. Smith RV – details coming
  68. Southwest Airlines — $1,000 bonuses for all 55,000 employees; $5 million additional charitable donations
  69. Steel Design LLC – details coming
  70. Stifel Financial Corporation – $1,500 bonuses for 7,000 employees
  71. TCF Financial Corporation — $1,000 bonuses for full time employees; $500 bonuses for part time employees
  72. The Flood Insurance Agency — $1,000 bonuses for 17 full time employees
  73. Territorial Savings Bank — $1,000 bonuses to 247 employees; base wage hike from $11.25 to $15.00 per hour
  74. Tokio Marine HCC – details coming
  75. Total System Services — $1,000 bonuses for 11,500 employees
  76. Turning Point Brands, Inc. — $1,000 bonuses for 107 employees
  77. Unity Bank – all 200 non-executive employees will receive a $750 bonus
  78. U.S. Bancorp – $1,000 bonuses for 60,000 employees; base wage hike to $15 per hour; $150 million charitable contribution
  79. Willow Creek Woodworks – details coming
  80. Wells Fargo – raised base wage from $13.50 to $15.00 per hour; $400 million in charitable donations for 2018; $100 million increased capital investment over next three years


The post List of companies giving bonuses due to tax cuts keeps skyrocketing appeared first on Dennis Michael Lynch.

Luck of the draw: Winner announced for Virginia race that ended in tie

Posted: 04 Jan 2018 09:11 AM PST

The race for a seat in Virginia's House of Delegates was decided by drawing lots Thursday, after the 94th District election was called a tie by a three-judge panel.

As DML News reported on Dec. 21, the race was originally called for Democrat Shelly Simonds, who won by a single vote. Republicans challenged the decision, and a single, previously rejected vote for Republican candidate David Yancey was determined to be valid. That meant Yancey, the three-term incumbent delegate had an equal number of votes, 11,608, as Simonds.

To decide the outcome of the race, state law says a method of drawing lots should be used. After two metal canisters were filled with strips of paper containing the candidates’ names, and placed in a bowl, the canister containing Yancey’s name was randomly drawn from the vessel, meaning he will keep his seat in the Virginia House of Delegates.

If the random draw had gone in the Democratic candidate’s favor, the Virginia House of Delegates would have had its first 50-50 power balance in 17 years. With Yancey’s win, he becomes the 51st Republican in the 100-member House of Delegates. Republicans held 66 seats before November's elections, The Hill reports, when they lost 15 Republican-held seats to Democrats.

Simonds said Wednesday she would not request a second recount if she lost the drawing.

See video of the random drawing below.

The post Luck of the draw: Winner announced for Virginia race that ended in tie appeared first on Dennis Michael Lynch.

Food stamp rolls decline by more than 2 million under Trump

Posted: 04 Jan 2018 09:06 AM PST

Data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture revealed that the number of individuals receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps, declined by more than two million in fiscal year 2017.

Participation in SNAP has declined by approximately nine percent over the last four fiscal years. In the last two fiscal years, the number of recipients has dropped from 44,219,363 in 2016, to 42,182,443 in 2017, resulting in 2,036,920 fewer food stamp recipients.

Although the program has ballooned over time — with the program increasing to 14 times its size since the USDA began tracking participation in 1969 — the number of food stamp recipients has declined in recent years after peaking in fiscal year 2013, when there was an average of 47,636,000 individuals enrolled in the program.

According to The Washington Free Beacon, SNAP cost American taxpayers approximately $58 billion in 2017, with individuals receiving an average benefit of $125.05 per month and households receiving an average benefit of $252.55 per month. The number of households receiving food stamps also declined by 891,926 in fiscal year 2017 .

In December 2016, the USDA issued new guidelines which allow private-sector employees to provide information to assist states in certifying households for SNAP benefits.

“The new policy maximizes flexibility within the law related to the SNAP certification process, while holding states accountable for ensuring eligible people have access to food benefits as they move toward self-sufficiency,” the agency stated.

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said the policy change is customer and budget friendly.

“This flexibility is a positive step toward enhancing customer service and being good stewards of taxpayer dollars,” Perdue said. “I encourage all states with an interest in this new flexibility to consider this change in policy, especially states looking for better ways to align their operations across multiple programs.”

Brandon Lipps, acting undersecretary for food, nutrition, and consumer services, said that participation in SNAP will continue to decline as the economy improves.

“The goal of the SNAP program is to support families in need as they strive to attain self-sufficiency,” Lipps said. “SNAP was established as a temporary supplemental nutrition benefit guiding people to self-sufficiency and self-reliance, not a permanent way of life. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that SNAP participation will drop by about 1.3 million people each year over the next 10 years as the economy continues to strengthen.”

Lipps declared that the USDA will work with state “partners” and is “committed to finding innovative, cost-effective ways to help SNAP recipients find and keep gainful employment in order to build a stronger future for their families.” He added, “We must ensure that we serve SNAP participants well.”

The post Food stamp rolls decline by more than 2 million under Trump appeared first on Dennis Michael Lynch.

GOP senator issues threat over Sessions’ decision on pot

Posted: 04 Jan 2018 08:52 AM PST

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) tweeted out on Thursday that he plans to block any of President Trump’s nominations for the Justice Department if Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinds an Obama-era policy that allowed marijuana use to be legal in some states.

“This reported action directly contradicts what Attorney General Sessions told me prior to his confirmation. With no prior notice to Congress, the Justice Department has trampled on the will of the voters in CO and other states,” Gardner said, adding, “I am prepared to take all steps necessary, including holding DOJ nominees, until the Attorney General lives up to the commitment he made to me prior to his confirmation.”

Marijuana sales and possession are now legal in Colorado.

Gardner reminded Trump that he did take the position that the legalization of marijuana ought to be decided by the states.

The Obama administration’s Cole Memo directed federal prosecutors to evaluate marijuana prosecutions on a case-by-case basis in states where personal use of pot was legalized by voters. The result of the measure was that federal authorities backed off from prosecuting people.

He also shared a video of a reporter asking Trump in July 2016 if he supported the idea of using federal authority to shut down the recreational sale of marijuana in the states.

“I wouldn't do that, no. I think it should be up to the states, absolutely,” Trump said in 2016.

Gardner tweeted Thursday morning, “@realDonaldTrump had it right. This must be left up to the states.”

The Associated Press speculated on Thursday that Sessions is expected to allow federal prosecutors based in jurisdictions where pot is legal to decide how seriously they will enforce those federal laws, which are superior to state laws, according to the Examiner.

The post GOP senator issues threat over Sessions’ decision on pot appeared first on Dennis Michael Lynch.

Deaths from opioid-driven hospitalizations quadruple

Posted: 04 Jan 2018 08:48 AM PST

More than 42,000 Americans died in 2016 from opioid addiction. A new study is using data regarding opioid-driven hospitalization mortality rates to show how serious the problem has become since 1993.

Published in the December issue of Health Affairs, the study is the first nationally representative evaluation of opioid-driven mortality rates. Using data from hospitals nationwide, it concludes that hospitalization mortality for those who had overdosed on opioids rose from 0.43 percent in the period between 1993 and 2000 to 2.02 percent in 2014, an average increase of 0.12 percentage points per year.

In other words, deaths from opioid-driven hospitalizations quadrupled between 2000 and 2014, according to The Washington Free Beacon.

“Initially remaining constant between 1993 and 2000, the opioid-driven mortality rate doubled to about 1 percent between 2000 and 2007. It then doubled again between 2007 and 2014, meaning that the rate of increase in the rate has also grown. Today, about 7,000 people are treated in emergency rooms for opioid misuse each day,” the report detailed.

In comparison, the mortality of hospitalization due to other drugs remained unchanged over the 1993-2014 time period, and the mortality rate for all other other hospitalizations actually went down.

The report further noted that while the number of admissions for opioid-related issues remained basically constant, hospitalizations for abuse declined by about 0.01 per 1,000 people per year, while hospitalizations for overdose and drug poisoning rose at the same rate.

Drug poisoning is now the leading cause of injury death in the United States.

President Donald Trump was the first public official to really bring the opioid crisis into the national spotlight, despite the fact that this epidemic has been devastating American communities for the past twenty years.

“One recent study determined that the rate of opioid abuse—approximately 13 percent of Americans over age 12 admitted to abusing opioids at some point in their lives—was in fact constant between 2003 and at least 2014,” according to the report.

Dr. Zirui Song, the study’s author, suggested some underlying reasons for the rise in mortality, including the rise in the cost of prescription drugs, which makes users turn to heroin; and the ease of access to powerful synthetic opioids like fentanyl. In fact, fentanyl was identified as the leading culprit in overdose death in 2016.

“Until community-based effort to tackle opioid misuse have taken root, treating opioid addiction and better equipping hospitals to care for patients with increasingly severe opioid abuse may help the health care system combat the rising mortality rates of patients hospitalized for opioid use disorders,” Song wrote.

The opioid epidemic remains a serious public health issue. Most recently, the CDC determined the epidemic is largely responsible for the two-year decline in U.S. life expectancy, the first such year-on-year decline since 1962-63.

The post Deaths from opioid-driven hospitalizations quadruple appeared first on Dennis Michael Lynch.

Keith Ellison donor: ‘Israelis have to be bombed,’ only understand ‘resistance’

Posted: 04 Jan 2018 08:41 AM PST

Campaign disclosure documents filed by Deputy Chair of the Democratic National Committee Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota revealed that he received a contribution in 2017 from an official at the anti-Israel group American Muslims for Palestine, who openly encourages violence against the Jewish state.

Following Ellison’s ascension in March 2017 to the deputy chairman position at the DNC, Taher Herzallah, AMP’s associate director of outreach and grassroots organizing, contributed $2,500 to Ellison.

According to The Washington Free Beacon, “Herzallah is best known as one of the ‘Irvine 11,’ a group of students who were sentenced to three years probation for actions taken to disrupt a 2010 speech by then-Israeli ambassador Michael Oren.”

Several weeks prior to making his contribution to Ellison, Herzallah was arrested for causing a disruption during confirmation hearings for U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman.

Herzallah has publicly campaigned for the use of violence to destroy Israel, claiming “the only language that the state of Israel understands is that of resistance” and proposing “an Islamic state” to “use violent means to resist occupation.”

“Israelis have to be bombed, they are a threat to the legitimacy of Palestine, and it is wrong to maintain the State of Israel,” Herzallah said in 2014, according to the Anti-Defamation League. “It is an illegitimate creation born from colonialism and racism.”

Herzallah contends that the Palestinians have no future “as long as Zionism exists.”

Herzallah oversees AMP’s campus group, Students for Justice in Palestine, the leading activist group for the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions effort aimed at bringing economic destruction to Israel.

Ellison supported the BDS movement until he began campaigning last year for the chairmanship of the DNC. During his bid for the top position, which he lost, Ellison was repeatedly criticized for his previous statements regarding Israel and his associations with radical groups such as Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood-founded Muslim American Society.

During his campaign, Ellison attempted to soften his position on Israel.

“I have long supported a two-state solution and a democratic and secure state for the Jewish people, with a democratic and viable Palestinian state side-by-side in peace and dignity,” Ellison said at the time. “I don't believe boycotting, divesting, and sanctioning Israel helps us achieve that goal. I supported the Democratic Platform, which embraces this position.”

The post Keith Ellison donor: 'Israelis have to be bombed,' only understand 'resistance' appeared first on Dennis Michael Lynch.

Turkey’s directorate of religious affairs says that under Islamic law, girls as young as nine can marry

Posted: 04 Jan 2018 07:40 AM PST

Turkey's main opposition party has called for a parliamentary inquiry after the country’s directorate of religious affairs said that, under Islamic law, girls as young as nine could marry.

The comments calling for underage marriage have been met with outrage from Turkish women's groups on social media, but the directorate has insisted that it was only defining points of Islamic law.

Despite the fact that Turkey's legal age of marriage is 18, the practice of underage weddings in religious ceremonies is widespread, according to a report in Jihad Watch.

Islamic apologists in the West might deny that the prophet Muhammad married a nine-year-old girl and raped her, but it’s true. And this “legend” has paved the way for a lawless group who believe the sexual abuse of children is within their rights, according to the tenets of Islam.

According to Dr. Abd Al-Hamid Al-'Ubeidi, an Iraqi expert on Islamic law, "There is no minimum marriage age for either men or women in Islamic law. The law in many countries permits girls to marry only from the age of 18. This is arbitrary legislation, not Islamic law."

There is no minimum age for marriage and girls can be married "even if they are in the cradle," according to Dr. Salih bin Fawzan, prominent cleric and member of Saudi Arabia's highest religious council.

Turkish law also allows 17-year-olds to marry with the consent of their parents or guardian, or 16-year-olds in exceptional circumstances with court approval. However, the current call for lowering the legal age of marriage was started by a statement on adolescence posted online by the Diyanet, which is the state body tasked with administering religious institutions and education.

According to Islamic law, the beginning of adolescence for boys is the age of 12 and for girls the age of nine, the Diyanet stated. On the same website, it said that whoever reached the age of adolescence had the right to marry.

Thirty MPs of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) called on the government to launch an investigation into the practice of child marriage.

"The Turkish Civil Code clearly states that adulthood begins at the age of 18. Early marriages violate children's rights, women's right's, human rights. As CHP MPs we ask parliament to investigate child marriages," tweeted Murat Bakan, CHP's MP for Izmir.

In a later statement, the Diyanet changed its course, saying that it was only defining Islamic law and that it did not actually approve of early marriages.

Correspondents say that, despite the directorate's assurances, distrust of the body still remains among secular groups.

The post Turkey's directorate of religious affairs says that under Islamic law, girls as young as nine can marry appeared first on Dennis Michael Lynch.

Mom arrested after baby found dead with umbilical cord attached (video)

Posted: 04 Jan 2018 07:34 AM PST

A 23-year-old woman has been arrested on first-degree murder charges after authorities reportedly found an unresponsive newborn infant behind a home in Highlands Ranch, Colo., the Denver Post reported. The umbilical cord was still attached to the little girl, who was found naked on a neighbor’s back porch.

Camille Wasinger-Konrad, who was renting a room next door to the house where the newborn's body was discovered, was taken into custody and booked at Douglas County Detention Center. She was identified as the baby’s mother and is currently being held without bond. (See video, below.)

Police gave no details on why the baby was left on the neighbor’s back porch in temperatures that dipped to at least ten degrees below freezing.

Douglas County Sheriff's Office responded to a 911 call around 9:48 p.m. Tuesday. They recovered the baby girl’s body, and detectives are now working with the Douglas County Coroner's office to determine the cause of death.

Wasinger-Konrad is scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 9.

The post Mom arrested after baby found dead with umbilical cord attached (video) appeared first on Dennis Michael Lynch.

VIRAL VIDEO of NFL heiress hitting lawyer with ‘glass purse’ during anti-Semitic rant

Posted: 04 Jan 2018 07:31 AM PST

Shocking video has emerged of socialite Jacqueline Kent Cooke, the daughter of former Washington Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke, brawling on a New York City sidewalk on Wednesday night.

Cooke was arrested after allegedly saying "hurry up, Jew" and then hitting a lawyer in the head with an expensive glass purse, the New York Daily News reported.

Lawyer Matthew Haberkorn, 52, told the News that Cooke lost her temper while waiting behind his 77-year-old mother in the coat-check line after a New Year’s Eve event at Caravaggio on E. 74th St. near Madison Ave., a high-end Manhattan restaurant.

"Hurry up, Jew," Cooke said, according to Haberkorn, who was also joined at Caravaggio by his wife and four daughters.

Haberkorn confronted Cooke, and the socialite's boyfriend took that opportunity to make fun of the man’s daughters, saying "Happy bat mitzvah, girls," according to news reports.

Outside the restaurant, Haberkorn told reporters that the exchange of words continued until Cooke violently "smashed" him in the head with her glass purse, causing a gaping, bleeding wound.

One of Haberkorn's daughters whipped out her cell phone and began taping the aftermath of the incident, which was obtained by the media. In the footage, Haberkorn can he heard shouting, "She just f—ing hit me."

Cooke shoots back that the lawyer "called me a f—ing bitch, you called me a c—."

"You called me a f—ing Jew," Haberkorn replied.

Cooke's boyfriend then accuses Haberkorn of "throwing a woman on the floor," which he immediately denied, as seen in the video.

Cooke was charged with assault Wednesday evening.

The Daily Mail reported that during the alleged assault, Cooke hit Haberkorn with a Lulu Guinness Chloe Mirrored Perspex Box Clutch, which retails for about $300.

This was not the first time Cooke made a spectacle of herself in public. In 2008, she reportedly asked Boston cops during a DUI arrest whether they knew who her father was.

She also "pulled up her skirt to moon the officer, and then gave him the middle finger, before eventually getting into the BMW and starting the engine," according to Deadspin.

In 2007, she reportedly filed a lawsuit against the executors of her father’s estate, claiming that she had to drop out of college due to lack of funds and was suffering from depression according to a report on Fox News.

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Ex-NSA contractor to plead guilty to devastating hack of top secret data

Posted: 04 Jan 2018 07:30 AM PST

A former U.S. National Security Agency contractor has agreed to enter a guilty plea on charges of stealing classified information in what has been called a “breathtaking” theft of U.S. government secrets.

Court filings revealed that Harold Martin III is scheduled appear in federal court in Baltimore on Jan. 22 and plead guilty to one count of willful retention of national defense information, Reuters reported.

According to prosecutors, Martin spent two decades amassing stolen classified information from U.S. intelligence agencies, retaining the data at his Glen Burnie, Maryland home. Following his August 2016 arrest, the Justice Department accused him of a “breathtaking” theft of classified data. Martin was indicted last February.

A raid of Martin’s home yielded dozens of laptops and digital devices, as well as enough documents to fill six bankers’ boxes.

Authorities seized the physical and digital evidence from Martin’s home, discovering at least 50 terabytes of data. Such a trove of information led authorities to contend that Martin might have perpetrated the largest theft of classified documents in U.S. history.

Martin currently faces up to 10 years in prison related to the single count against him. Because he has not yet struck a plea deal with prosecutors, he could still be tried on the remaining 19 counts in the indictment which involve the theft of documents from the NSA, U.S. Cyber Command, the CIA and the National Reconnaissance Office.

Since 1993, at least seven companies hired Martin as a private contractor. He also worked for multiple government agencies which granted him security clearances and access to highly-sensitive government information, according to the indictment.

Martin was employed in the hacking unit of the NSA, and stole material that included most, if not all, of the agency’s hacking tools. The New York Times reported that those same tools were later sold on the Internet by a group called Shadow Brokers, an organization long suspected of ties to Russian intelligence.

Although the breach was linked to Martin, a connection between him and Shadow Brokers could not be made by officials. The ways in which Martin might have used the stolen information remain undisclosed.

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Newspaper executive accused of spanking female reporters

Posted: 04 Jan 2018 07:23 AM PST

The chairman of an Alabama newspaper company has been accused of assaulting female employees by spanking them while he was a newsroom executive years ago.

At least three women claim that H. Brandt Ayers, 82, who became a nationally known advocate for Southern liberalism during his tenure as editor and publisher at the Anniston Star, assaulted them in the mid-1970s.

Ayers is now the chairman of Consolidated Publishing Co., which operates six newspapers in Alabama, including the Star.

According to the New York Post, former Star employee Veronica Pike Kennedy told the Montgomery Advertiser her story.

Kennedy said she was working as a part-time clerk in a “nearly deserted” newsroom on a Saturday morning more than 40 years ago when Ayers asked her to read one of his columns. Kennedy jokingly asked Ayers who had written the piece.

"And he said, 'Oh, you are being a bad girl,’" Kennedy said. "'You know what I do to bad girls? I spank them.’"

Kennedy said that Ayers forcibly pulled her from her chair and spanked her with a metal ruler, an incident that led her to seek counseling years later.

"It was hard to trust anybody in authority for a long time after that," she said. "I had anger I didn't realize I had."

Mike Stamler, who was working in the newsroom that day, told the Advertiser he remembered seeing the assault.

"I was stunned," Stamler said.

In a Tuesday interview with the Associated Press, Trisha O'Connor, a journalism professor at Coastal Carolina University who worked at the Star as a reporter and editor at the time, said she did not experience or witness Ayers’ misconduct, but knew of so many accounts of his assaults that she and other women advised new female employees to avoid Ayers.

"We took it to upper management and said, 'We need assistance. This is terrible.' Basically, from what we were able to see, nothing happened," said O'Connor.

Ayers addressed the accusations in a statement which read, "As a very young man with more authority than judgment, I did some things I regret. At my advanced age I wish I could relive those days again, knowing the seriousness of my position and with the accumulated judgment that goes with age."

Criminal charges cannot be filed in association with the assaults since too much time has passed since their occurrence.

Articles written by Ayers have been published in The New York Times and he was once a regular contributor to "Morning Edition" on National Public Radio.

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Newly elected mayor claims National Anthem is an ‘ode to slavery’

Posted: 04 Jan 2018 07:17 AM PST

The third verse of the National Anthem isn’t very popular with Melvin Carter III, the newly elected mayor of St. Paul, Minnesota.

In fact, he believes the lesser known verse imbues the entire song as an ode to slavery. In his inaugural speech, he makes his stance on the matter abundantly clear when he has the anthem played in its entirety.

The Independent Journal Review reports the following:

“The new mayor of St. Paul, Minnesota, had strong words against the national anthem during his inaugural speech to the city. He did allow the song to be played — but on one condition: All of the verses, not just the first, be played.

The Pioneer Press reported Mayor Melvin Carter’s III reasoning for playing the entire song was so the rarely heard third verse would be heard.

The verse goes as follows:

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore

That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,

A home and a country, should leave us no more?

Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.

No refuge could save the hireling and slave

From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:

And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave,

O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Carter said the anthem, with the third verse specifically, is an "ode to slavery."

"We cannot ignore the painful reminder, written into our anthem's third verse, of just how deeply injustice is rooted in the American tradition…Our national freedom song is an ode to slavery,” he said.”

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Facebook Live streams woman being shot (video)

Posted: 04 Jan 2018 07:02 AM PST

The dangers of Facebook Live highlighted another example of unfiltered violence in the latest uploaded video that has gone viral. The video, which has also been uploaded to YouTube, shows a Chicago woman using a gun to shoot another woman.

Heavy reports the following:

“A woman was shot during an argument with another woman in Chicago and the shooting was captured on Facebook Live. It was streamed live on Facebook by the victim, Ke-Ke Hardmon-Myers.

Hardmon-Myers was taken to a local hospital in stable condition, WGN-TV reports. Chicago Police told the news station that they have identified the female suspect and are looking for her. The 27-year-old victim knew the shooter, police said. The suspect's name hasn't been released.

According to Fox 32 Chicago, the shooting happened about 3 p.m. on Tuesday, January 2, in the 6400 block of South Calumet. It occurred in the Parkway Gardens housing project, which is in the Washington Park neighborhood of Chicago.”

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AP: Sessions to end legalizing marijuana policy

Posted: 04 Jan 2018 07:01 AM PST

According to the Associated Press, Attorney General Jeff Sessions will be nixing the policy that has allowed states the opportunity to legalize marijuana.

Sessions’ decision will likely initiate further national debate between the outdated federal policy equating marijuana to drugs such as heroin and meth and the success of the industry in states that have legalized the substance for sale and distribution.

“WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General Jeff Sessions is rescinding the Obama-era policy that had paved the way for legalized marijuana to flourish in states across the country, two people with knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press. Sessions will instead let federal prosecutors where pot is legal decide how aggressively to enforce federal marijuana law, the people said.

The people familiar with the plan spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it before an announcement expected Thursday.

The move by President Donald Trump's attorney general likely will add to confusion about whether it's OK to grow, buy or use marijuana in states where pot is legal, since long-standing federal law prohibits it. It comes days after pot shops opened in California, launching what is expected to become the world's largest market for legal recreational marijuana and as polls show a solid majority of Americans believe the drug should be legal.

While Sessions has been carrying out a Justice Department agenda that follows Trump's top priorities on such issues as immigration and opioids, the changes to pot policy reflect his own concerns. Trump's personal views on marijuana remain largely unknown.”

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