Western intelligence bosses recently have become open about stating what they’ve known for years, that Snowden is a Kremlin pawn designed to inflict pain on Russia’s adversaries in the SpyWar.
John R. Schindler writes: The National Security Agency can’t catch a break. Over three years ago, Edward Snowden, an IT contractor for the agency, defected to Moscow with more than a million classified documents. Since then, Snowden’s vast trove has been used to embarrass NSA about the extent of its global espionage reach.
“Significant questions loom over this new scandal. In the first place, what really is The Shadow Brokers? They appear to be a transparent front for Russian intelligence. Indeed, they’re not really hiding that fact, given the broken English they used in their online auction notice asking for bitcoin in exchange for NSA information.”
I’ve been warning from Day One that the Snowden Operation was a Russian propaganda ploy aimed at inflicting pain on NSA, America’s most important spy agency, and its global alliance of espionage partnerships that’s been the backbone of the powerful Western intelligence system since it helped defeat the Nazis and Japan in World War II.
“From his Russian exile, even Snowden admitted on Twitter that this was pretty obviously a Kremlin spy game.”
Western intelligence bosses recently have become open about stating what they’ve known for years, that Snowden is a Kremlin pawn designed to inflict pain on Russia’s adversaries in the SpyWar. There’s no doubt that’s the case, especially since the Kremlin now has admitted that Snowden is their agent.
For more than three years NSA has been subjected to an unprecedented stream of leaks about myriad Top Secret intelligence programs. Although Snowden claimed his motivation was to protect the civil liberties of fellow Americans by exposing secrets, it’s impossible to miss that well over 95 percent of the programs he’s compromised are purely involved with foreign intelligence. The impact of all this on agency morale has been devastating and NSA is in a state of crisis thanks to Snowden.
This week things took a marked turn for the worse, however, with the exposure of highly sensitive NSA hacking tools on the Internet by a murky group calling itself “The Shadow Brokers” which announced it planned to sell programs purloined from the agency. Like clockwork, NSA’s public website crashed and stayed down for almost a full day. Although there’s no indication this was linked to The Shadow Brokers, the optics for NSA were terrible.
First, some explanation is needed of what’s been compromised. The crown jewel here is a 300-megabyte file containing “exploits”—that is, specialized sophisticated cyber tools designed to burrow through firewalls to steal data. What The Shadow Brokers has, which it claims it stole from an alleged NSA front organization termed the Equation Group, appears to be legitimate.
Here we are, three years after Snowden, dealing with the consequences of allowing Russian moles to run amok inside NSA.
These exploits—or at least some of them—appear to come from NSA’s elite office of Tailored Access Operations, which is the agency’s hacking group. Arguably the world’s most proficient cyber-warriors, the shadowy TAO excels at gaining access to the computer systems of foreign adversaries. TAO veterans have confirmed that, from what they’ve seen of what The Shadow Brokers has revealed, they’re bona fide NSA exploits.
This represents a security disaster for an agency that really didn’t need another one. How this happened, given the enormous security that’s placed on all NSA Top Secret computer systems, raises troubling questions about what’s going on, since the agency instituted much more strenuous online security after Snowden’s defection, which revealed how slipshod NSA counterintelligence really was.
However, significant questions loom over this new scandal. In the first place, what really is The Shadow Brokers? They appear to be a transparent front for Russian intelligence. Indeed, they’re not really hiding that fact, given the broken English they used in their online auction notice asking for bitcoin in exchange for NSA information. From his Russian exile, even Snowden admitted on Twitter that this was pretty obviously a Kremlin spy game.
Pro-Russian sources have pointed to the Equation Group as an NSA front for more than a year. In early 2015, Kaspersky Labs, one of the world’s leading cybersecurity firms, announced the discovery of the Equation Group and fingers were quickly pointed at NSA as being the culprit behind those hackers. It should be noted that Kaspersky Labs has a very cozy relationship with the Kremlin and is viewed by most espionage experts in the West as an extended arm of Russian intelligence. The firm’s founder, Eugene Kaspersky, was trained in codes and ciphers by the KGB in the waning days of the Soviet Union, even meeting his first wife at a KGB resort. Read the rest of this entry »
The lawsuits allege false arrest, false imprisonment, defamation or false light, and other assertions. They were filed in U.S. District Court in Maryland in 2015 in late April and early May around the time the officers were arrested.
Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby is going from prosecutor to civil defendant in connection with the case of the death of Freddie Gray.
“Marilyn Mosby’s comments in her press conference today confirm that the charges brought against my clients, Sgt. Alicia White and Officer William Porter, as well as the other four officers, were politically motivated and not supported by evidence to establish probable cause.”
On Wednesday, Mosby announced that charges against three officers still facing trial were being dropped. Mosby gave only a statement, but had to leave without taking questions because five of the officers in the case have filed lawsuits against her.
Officers Garrett Miller, Edward Nero and William Porter as well as Sgt. Alicia White and Lt. Brian Rice are suing Mosby and Maj. Samuel Cogen of the Baltimore Sheriff’s Office. Cogen was the law enforcement officer who filed charging documents against the officers.
The lawsuits allege false arrest, false imprisonment, defamation or false light, and other assertions. They were filed in U.S. District Court in Maryland in 2015 in late April and early May around the time the officers were arrested.
Gray died in a hospital on April 19, 2015, a week after police stopped him on a Baltimore street. After his arrest, officers placed Gray in the back of a police van, which made several stops.
Rice and Nero had already been acquitted in separate bench trials. So had Officer Caesar Goodson, who apparently has not filed suit. Porter was the first to be tried but his case ended with the jury unable to reach a unanimous decision.
An attorney for two of the officers said Wednesday that there were ulterior motives in charging the officers.
“Marilyn Mosby’s comments in her press conference today confirm that the charges brought against my clients, Sgt. Alicia White and Officer William Porter, as well as the other four officers, were politically motivated and not supported by evidence to establish probable cause,” Michael E. Glass said.
He said his client suffered “extensive pain and suffering.” Porter and White had been suspended without pay until Wednesday. They are now on desk duty after more than a year on leave.
Rice, the highest-ranking officer charged in the case, paints himself as minimally involved, according to court documents. Read the rest of this entry »
DETROIT – Another robbery victim fights back after he’s targeted at a Detroit bus stop. The 23-year-old had officially become a Concealed Pistol License holder a couple of weeks ago and after what happened Sunday night – it was just in time.
Tremain, who doesn’t want to be identified because his family fears retaliation, says his brother had just finished work and was waiting for the bus at Schaefer and West Outer Drive on the west side when three teens confronted him.
One pulled out a gun and demanded his money.
“They threatened him and told him if he moved they were going to blow him which is a term for I’m going to kill or shoot you if you move,” Tremaine said. “And that’s what ended up happening.”
One of the suspects reached into the victim’s pocket and stole $220. The trio became excited about the money they just nabbed and became distracted – at that moment the CPL holder pulled out his gun and fired.
He hit the16-year-old in the chest and the 17-year-old in the leg. The 19-year-old took off running. Read the rest of this entry »
‘Maryland’ Crabs: ‘They’re All Born in Virginia’, Says Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe.
“You know, Maryland talks about their crabs. And if anyone from Maryland is listening, I’m going to be very clear: All the crabs are born here in Virginia and they end up, because of the current, being taken there. So really they should be Virginia crabs.”
— Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe
His statement is not entirely false, though saying the current is the only reason some crabs migrate into the upper bay is questionable.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, male crabs tend to prefer fresher waters in Maryland and the bay’s upper tributaries, while females, especially spawning females, like the saltier waters of Virginia, near the mouth of the bay….(read more)
Rachel Metz writes: I’m sitting in Gordon Wetzstein’s lab at Stanford University with a hacked-together prototype of a head-mounted display strapped to my face, using a wireless Xbox controller to manipulate a series of 3-D models: a lion, a chessboard filled with chess pieces, an espresso machine, and so on.
“…the technology has improved immensely in the last couple years, there are still plenty of crucial issues to be sorted out—among them that feeling of motion sickness that some people like myself have when experiencing virtual reality, which arises from what’s known as vergence-accommodation conflict.”
The images are fairly simple, run-of-the-mill models—the kind that anyone could download from the Internet. What is interesting, though, is what happens as I stare at the models, turning them with the controller so I can inspect them from different angles: I can focus on the different parts of the images at different depths as I would when gazing at something in real life, so when I look at, say, the chess pieces up close, those in the background look fuzzy, and vice versa when I focus on the pieces in the distance. And I don’t feel nauseous or dizzy like I sometimes do when I’m playing around with virtual reality, especially when looking at objects that are close to my face.
“In real life, when you’re looking at something—a flower, for instance—your eyes move and the lens in each eye adjusts to bring whatever’s in front of you into focus. With stereoscopic 3-D, a technology commonly used by companies making virtual reality headsets, things gets trickier.”
Virtual reality is on the verge of commercial availability, with consumer-geared headsets like the Oculus Rift poised for release next year (see “Oculus Shows Its First Consumer Headset, Circular Hand Controls”). Yet while the technology has improved immensely in the last couple years, there are still plenty of crucial issues to be sorted out—among them that feeling of motion sickness that some people like myself have when experiencing virtual reality, which arises from what’s known as vergence-accommodation conflict.
This conflict is what Wetzstein, an assistant professor of electrical engineering, and other researchers at Stanford are trying to solve with the headset I tried on, which they call a light field stereoscope—essentially, a device that uses a stack of two LEDs to show each eye a “light field” that makes virtual images look more natural than they typically do.
Why Freddy’s Barbecue Couldn’t Really Exist
Johnny Fugitt writes: Between taking bites out of his political opponents, Frank Underwood, in the first two seasons of Netflix’s “House of Cards,” liked to visit a hole-in-the-wall barbecue joint called Freddy’s. Freddy’s BBQ is fictional and the show used a shack in Baltimore for the set.
DC tourists may be disappointed to learn they cannot sample Frank’s favorite ribs, but the most disappointing fact is not that Freddy’s is fictional. The sad truth is that Freddy’s could simply not exist in DC or in most major cities today.
While researching barbecue restaurants for my recently released book, The 100 Best Barbecue Restaurants in America“ I visited 365 barbecue restaurants across 48 states. Many owners shared with me that their businesses are hampered by local environmental, safety, and health regulations
No Tasty Barbecue For You
In Houston, for example, Pizzitola’s Barbecue hangs its hat on being the only remaining Houston barbecue restaurant to cook with a traditional open pit. Pizzitola’s has been smoking barbecue this way for 50 years and was grandfathered into the local safety law banning their traditional method of smoking meat.
“The White Swan came under federal regulations and were required to use electric cookers rather than continuing to smoke as they had for generations.”
As newer barbecue restaurants popped up just outside city limits, Houston lost tax revenue and residents had to leave the city for great barbecue—everyone lost.
“Today, cities require restaurants to invest tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars in safety hoods and equipment.”
It might seem unfair for Pizzitola’s to have such an exemption and, thus, an advantage over their competition, but it’s actually a blessing and a curse. If Pizzitola’s were to make any major changes to the restaurant—like adding a patio or dining-room space—they would lose their grandfathered-in status.
Pizzitola’s cannot adapt to compete with other restaurants because this risks losing the way they have been preparing barbecue for 50 years. Eventually this handicap will catch up to them.
No More Opportunities For the Little Guys
Although local regulations have done the most damage, federal regulations are also to blame. From the 1940s until 2009, The White Swan smoked traditional North Carolina pork over smoldering oak.
“It was a shame to see a historic, small town, family-run barbecue joint forced to serve cooked pork rather than traditional smoked barbecue simply to comply with federal food regulations.”
When they franchised in 2009 (and created a number of new jobs), The White Swan came under federal regulations and were required to use electric cookers rather than continuing to smoke as they had for generations. It was a shame to see a historic, small town, family-run barbecue joint forced to serve cooked pork rather than traditional smoked barbecue simply to comply with federal food regulations. Read the rest of this entry »
FREDERICK, Md. (AP) — Police say an ice cream truck driver in Maryland was gunned down as he was selling treats to children and a suspect has been arrested.
Frederick police say 22-year-old Brandon Brown was fatally shot Saturday afternoon at Lucas Village, a subsidized housing complex.
Lt. Clark Pennington, a police spokesman, says Brown drove into the community playing music to announce his arrival. Read the rest of this entry »
WASHINGTON — The wife of Baltimore County Police Chief Jim Johnson is facing an assault charge in what authorities describe as a domestic incident.
The Harford County Sheriff’s Office says Johnson’s wife, Rebecca, has been charged with second-degree assault for an incident on June 1.
According to the arrest report released to WNEW, officers responded to their home in the 1300 block of Marquis Court in Fallston just before 2 p.m. Upon arrival, officers met with Lindsay Johnson, the couple’s 25-year-old foster daughter, according to the Baltimore County Police Department.
The Johnsons have reportedly cared for their foster daughter since she was about 3-years-old. The department says they became her foster parents through Baltimore City Social Services.
The county police department released a statement to WNEW Wednesday night confirming Johnson’s wife was involved in a domestic incident. “Chief Johnson is deeply concerned about two people he cares about,” the statement says. Read the rest of this entry »
PARIS (AP) — Allied veterans and families of their fallen comrades gathered Saturday at the U.S. cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach to mark the 71st anniversary of the D-Day invasion that helped defeat the Nazis in World War II.
Visitors and cadets from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland watched as a bagpipe band paraded at the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, amid the thousands of white marble crosses and Stars of David of servicemen and women who lost their lives during the invasion…(read more)
“I go back to the Martin O’Malley administration and every one of his goals has been short-term – nothing was ever long-term. And because he had these short-term goals for instant results… he left it wide open for long-term disaster. And that’s what we are experiencing now.”
It seems hard to believe, but months ago, Baltimore’s politicians were confidently predicting a economic revival for the city. But after six Baltimore police officers where involved in the death of 25-year-old African-American Freddie Gray, the city erupted into the worst rioting it’s seen in 50 years.
“In 2005 we had 108,000 arrests in a city of 620,000 residents. How much long-term damage did that do to these neighborhoods in Baltimore, to the families in Baltimore, to all these people that now have an arrest record?”
The crisis has put police brutality in the spotlight, left leaders grasping for answers, and sparked an examination of the roots of the violence.
Franklin, a 34-year veteran of Maryland law enforcement and a former drug warrior, sat down with Reason TV‘s Todd Krainin to explain how the drug war policies of the O’Malley administration helped fuel the riots in Baltimore. Read the rest of this entry »
An court affidavit released Friday says the suspect in the slayings of a northwest D.C. family and their housekeeper was not alone in carrying out the murders
The document says Daron Dylon Wint and “others” were involved in the murders of the Savopoulos family and their housekeeper, according to MyFoxDC.
The news comes as Wint awaits a court arraignment on Friday afternoon after leading cops on a massive manhunt.
“Wint is accused of storming a Washington mansion…he allegedly held the family while ordering them to summon a courier with $40,000, then killed all four, dousing them with gasoline before setting the home on fire.”
The multi-state search for the suspect in the horrific murders of a Washington businessman’s family and their housekeeper ended late Thursday when police grabbed suspect Daron Dylon Wint and four associates in the nation’s capital.
The arrest capped a day that began with the revelation Wint had been identified in last week’s murders of Savvas Savopoulos, 46; his wife Amy, 47; the couple’s 10-year-old son Philip, and housekeeper Veralicia Figueroa, 57, by DNA left on pizza crust during what may have been an extended home invasion. Police traced Wint, a 34-year-old ex-con from Maryland, to Brooklyn, N.Y., and then back to Washington in the afternoon.
“Sources told WTTG that Savvos and Amy Savopoulos, as well as Veralicia Figueroa, were found in chairs and doused with gasoline. Philip Savopoulos was found in his bed, covered in lacerations and burned beyond recognition.”
Federal marshals had been tracking Wint Thursday night from College Park as he traveled in a white Chevrolet Cruze occupied by two unidentified women, police said. The car was following a white box truck, reportedly driven by Wint’s brother and with another man inside. Both vehicles were stopped by marshals near 10th Street and Rhode Island Avenue NE, the official said. Police found at least $10,000 in cash in the box truck, and all of the occupants were taken into custody, according to police.
“The arrest capped a day that began with the revelation Wint had been identified in last week’s murders of Savvas Savopoulos, 46; his wife Amy, 47; the couple’s 10-year-old son Philip, and housekeeper Veralicia Figueroa, 57, by DNA left on pizza crust during what may have been an extended home invasion.”
Wint is accused of storming a Washington mansion near Vice President Biden’s residence and owned by Savopoulos, the CEO of an iron works company. There, he allegedly held the family while ordering them to summon a courier with $40,000, then killed all four, dousing them with gasoline before setting the home on fire.
The four were found dead in the Savolpoulos family’s burning home in a wealthy Northwest Washington neighborhood on the afternoon of May 14.
No other suspects have been identified, but police have not ruled out the possibility that other people were involved in the murders.
“While it does not abate our pain, we hope that it begins to restore a sense of calm and security to our neighborhood and to our city. We are blessed to live in a community comprised of close circles of friends who have supported us and grieve with us.”
— Savopoulos family statement
Wint is expected to make his initial appearance in D.C. Superior Court Friday afternoon, according to the Washington Post.
Following Wint’s capture, the Savopoulos family released a statement, saying, “We are thankful to law enforcement who have worked so diligently to bring about an arrest in this case.”
“During the family’s final hours, someone called Domino’s from their house and ordered pizza. The Washington Post reported that the DNA was found on a pizza crust. At a Domino’s about 2 miles away, a worker told the AP that a pizza was delivered from there to the mansion that day.”
“While it does not abate our pain, we hope that it begins to restore a sense of calm and security to our neighborhood and to our city. We are blessed to live in a community comprised of close circles of friends who have supported us and grieve with us,” the statement said. “Our family, and Vera’s family, have suffered unimaginable loss, and we ask for the time and space to grieve privately.”
Authorities said Thursday that Wint, a certified welder, worked for Savopoulos’ company American Iron Works in the past. Savopoulos was the CEO of American Iron Works, a construction-materials supplier based in Hyattsville, Maryland, that has been involved in major projects in downtown Washington. Read the rest of this entry »
Damage from rioting in Baltimore over the death of a black man from injuries in police custody is estimated at $9 million, a U.S. government survey showed on Wednesday.
The survey by the Small Business Administration found that more than 30 businesses and one home sustained major damage between April 25 and May 3 in unrest sparked by the death of Freddie Gray, 25.
“The Baltimore Development Corp, a non-profit group that promotes economic development, said 351 business reported damages and inventory loss.”
The survey also found 254 businesses and one home experienced minor damage.
Damages to businesses totaled $8,927,000, and to homes $60,000, a Small Business Administration spokeswoman said.
“The mayor’s office has said 144 vehicles were set ablaze.”
Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski, in a letter on Tuesday also signed by fellow Maryland Democratic Senator Ben Cardin and U.S. Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings, called on the Small Business Administration to help with the creation of disaster centers.
They also urged the agency to come up with a plan to inform business owners who are eligible for benefits about how to apply for disaster loan assistance.
A spokesman for the Baltimore Fire Department said the city recorded 61 structural fires over April 27 and 28, during the height of the arson and looting. The mayor’s office previously said that 15 buildings were burned.
The spokesman had no update for the number of burned vehicles. The mayor’s office has said 144 vehicles were set ablaze. Read the rest of this entry »
“It’s terrifying. It’s frightening. It’s a situation where you are trying to be as safe as possible but when you hear over the radio that an officer is down, it’s the worst thing you can possibly hear.”
— Littleton police Lt. Trent Cooper
An FBI agent was wounded Friday afternoon while trying to serve an arrest warrant at a Littleton motel.
The agent was taken to Swedish Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries.
Littleton police, SWAT officers and other law enforcement personnel were still surrounding the Essex House Motel in the 5300 block of South Santa Fe Drive at 6:15 p.m., about two hours later.
At 6:20 p.m., police were preparing to send a robot into the second-story room, since they had been unable to make contact with the suspect since the shooting at 4:15 p.m.
Officials said they were waiting for a federal warrant to enter the motel, which could take a couple of hours.
Littleton police Lt. Trent Cooper said the suspect fired two shots at law enforcement agents, hitting the agent in the leg. The officers fired no shots, he said. Read the rest of this entry »
Kevin Moore, whose video of the arrest was widely circulated, said he has faced intimidation from police since April 12 when police apprehended Gray.
You can watch a discussion with Moore about his experience since recording the video, below.
Moore said officers had plastered his photo all over the Internet, saying they wanted to interview him.
Officers arrested Moore on Thursday night during a protest against police brutality in Baltimore. They released him later that evening, reportedly without revealing the charges. He didn’t receive a citation, either. Read the rest of this entry »
Today, Governor Larry Hogan made a shocking announcement at the Board of Public Works Meeting in Annapolis: He will seek the nomination for President of the United States.
Dana Hedgpeth, Sari Horwitz and Ellen Nakashima report: One person was killed and at least one other was injured Monday when shots were fired after two people in a vehicle tried to ram a gate at Fort Meade, a military installation in Anne Arundel County that houses the National Security Agency, according to officials with knowledge of the investigation.
“The shooting scene is contained, and we do not believe it is related to terrorism.”
— Amy J. Thoreson, a spokeswoman for the FBI
Authorities did not release any details of exactly what happened, but law enforcement officials said police officers with the National Security Agency shot at the two people in the vehicle. One of them was killed, the officials said. There were no details immediately available on the condition of the second person.
Two U.S. officials said the men in the vehicle were dressed as women, but they both cautioned that the information is preliminary.
Just before 11 a.m., NSA officials said they had no further information.
In a statement, issued around 11:30 a.m., the FBI Baltimore office said it was investigating a shooting at a gate at Fort Meade.
“The shooting scene is contained, and we do not believe it is related to terrorism,” said Amy J. Thoreson, a spokeswoman for the FBI. She said the incident is being investigated by the FBI with NSA Police and other law enforcement agencies.
FBI crews from its evidence response team are processing the scene and agents are interviewing witnesses, she said. Deputy White House press secretary Eric Schultz said President Obama has been briefed on the incident. Read the rest of this entry »
To defeat the extremists for good, Muslims must reject those aspects of their tradition that prompt some believers to resort to oppression and holy war
Ayaan Hirsi Ali writes: “Islam’s borders are bloody,” wrote the late political scientist Samuel Huntington in 1996, “and so are its innards.” Nearly 20 years later, Huntington looks more right than ever before. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, at least 70% of all the fatalities in armed conflicts around the world last year were in wars involving Muslims. In 2013, there were nearly 12,000 terrorist attacks world-wide.
The lion’s share were in Muslim-majority countries, and many of the others were carried out by Muslims. By far the most numerous victims of Muslim violence—including executions and lynchings not captured in these statistics—are Muslims themselves.
“Let me make two things clear. I do not seek to inspire another war on terror or extremism—violence in the name of Islam cannot be ended by military means alone. Nor am I any sort of ‘Islamophobe.’ At various times, I myself have been all three kinds of Muslim: a fundamentalist, a cocooned believer and a dissident. My journey has gone from Mecca to Medina to Manhattan.”
Not all of this violence is explicitly motivated by religion, but a great deal of it is. I believe that it is foolish to insist, as Western leaders habitually do, that the violent acts committed in the name of Islam can somehow be divorced from the religion itself. For more than a decade, my message has been simple: Islam is not a religion of peace.
“For me, there seemed no way to reconcile my faith with the freedoms I came to the West to embrace. I left the faith, despite the threat of the death penalty prescribed by Shariah for apostates. Future generations of Muslims deserve better, safer options. Muslims should be able to welcome modernity, not be forced to wall themselves off, or live in a state of cognitive dissonance, or lash out in violent rejection.”
When I assert this, I do not mean that Islamic belief makes all Muslims violent. This is manifestly not the case: There are many millions of peaceful Muslims in the world. What I do say is that the call to violence and the justification for it are explicitly stated in the sacred texts of Islam. Moreover, this theologically sanctioned violence is there to be activated by any number of offenses, including but not limited to apostasy, adultery, blasphemy and even something as vague as threats to family honor or to the honor of Islam itself.
It is not just al Qaeda and Islamic State that show the violent face of Islamic faith and practice. It is Pakistan, where any statement critical of the Prophet or Islam is labeled as blasphemy and punishable by death. It is Saudi Arabia, where churches and synagogues are outlawed and where beheadings are a legitimate form of punishment. It is Iran, where stoning is an acceptable punishment and homosexuals are hanged for their “crime.”
“But it is not only Muslims who would benefit from a reformation of Islam. We in the West have an enormous stake in how the struggle over Islam plays out.”
As I see it, the fundamental problem is that the majority of otherwise peaceful and law-abiding Muslims are unwilling to acknowledge, much less to repudiate, the theological warrant for intolerance and violence embedded in their own religious texts.
It simply will not do for Muslims to claim that their religion has been “hijacked” by extremists. The killers of Islamic State and Nigeria’s Boko Haram cite the same religious texts that every other Muslim in the world considers sacrosanct.
Instead of letting Islam off the hook with bland clichés about the religion of peace, we in the West need to challenge and debate the very substance of Islamic thought and practice. We need to hold Islam accountable for the acts of its most violent adherents and to demand that it reform or disavow the key beliefs that are used to justify those acts.
As it turns out, the West has some experience with this sort of reformist project. Read the rest of this entry »
Justin George and Justin Fenton Three Morgan State University football players were stabbed on campus Tuesday afternoon, one of whom was seriously injured, according to Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts.
The incident happened in the area of a football field and residence halls, around 2:05 p.m. A police spokesman said a male was stabbed in the chest and taken to a hospital in very serious condition. Two other people were also injured.
Batts, who visited the scene, confirmed the victims were campus football players. He said a fourth person was involved and could be a suspect or person of interest.
St. Louis Police get Standing Ovation at St. Patrick’s Day Parade
FEBRUARY 16–After having her “sexual advances” rejected by her live-in boyfriend, a South Carolina woman allegedly threatened to shoot her beau, cops allege.
Ryan Rucker, 33, was sleeping early yesterday when Michelle Smart,by her own admission, “attempted to make some sexual advances toward” him, according to a police report detailing the 2 AM incident.
Rucker told cops that he pushed the 30-year-old Smart off of him, which prompted an argument during which Smart “told him she would shoot him because she has the gun.” Smart told officers that after Rucker “rejected her and pushed her off of him,” he punched and kicked her multiple times.
Cops noted that Smart “continually was changing her story throughout the investigation,” adding that, “For these reasons, Ms. Smart’s account became less believable.”
Smart, judged the “primary aggressor” by cops, was arrested for domestic violence since Rucker “feared for his safety when Ms. Smart pulled the gun out and threatened to use it.” Cops seized a Ruger handgun and six bullets, which were placed into evidence.
Seen in the above mug shot, Smart spent about eight hours in custody before bonding out of jail Sunday afternoon on the misdemeanor charge….(read more)
— Ξ BLACK REPUBLICAN Ξ (@blackrepublican) November 6, 2014
Derek Hunter reports: Polls show the Maryland Gubernatorial race between Democrat Anthony Brown and Republican Larry Hogan is extremely close, with the most recent poll showing a 2-point race, well within the margin of error. With the race so tight, every vote counts. But there is growing concern that every vote counted might not be how every vote was cast.
“Curiously, there hasn’t been a single report of votes being switched from Democrat to Republican in the heavily blue state, so ‘calibration issues’ seem to only go in one direction.”
Early voting is underway across Maryland, and issues with the voting machines are being reported from throughout the state.
So far 20 complaints have been registered of instances where voters using touchscreen machines say their vote for a Republican was automatically switched to the Democrat. Of the 20 complaints, election officials report, “Twelve of those machines were thoroughly tested and the issue could not be replicated. The remaining eight units were taken out of service.”
One voting official referred to the machines automatically switching votes as a “calibration issue.” Curiously, there hasn’t been a single report of votes being switched from Democrat to Republican in the heavily blue state, so “calibration issues” seem to only go in one direction. Read the rest of this entry »
(Reuters) – President Barack Obama made a rare appearance on the campaign trail on Sunday with a rally to support the Democratic candidate for governor in Maryland, but early departures of crowd members while he spoke underscored his continuing unpopularity.
With approval levels hovering around record lows, Obama has spent most of his campaign-related efforts this year raising money for struggling Democrats, who risk losing control of the U.S. Senate in the Nov. 4 midterm election. Read the rest of this entry »
“Privacy? If you tell a governor that a certain number of illegal alien children are coming to a certain facility, there is no issue of privacy involved. He’s not naming names. He’s not putting a photograph on the internet.
On Wednesday evening’s Special Report, Charles Krauthammer discussed the effects of an influx of immigrant children on even Eastern states, such as Maryland and Massachusetts….Krauthammer noted that complaints from the mayor of Lynn, Massachusetts about an overwhelmed school system and health department that weren’t prepared for the influx was just one example of unfair stress on even non-border towns.
“This is clearly an attempt of the administration to try to handle a problem by concealing it from the people who most have to know–meaning the governors, the mayors, and the American people.”
Krauthammer continued on to explain that the administration is intentionally hiding the border problem from those who most need to be made aware…(read more) The Corner
If everybody in America had the opportunity to pack up and move to the state of their choice, Illinois, Connecticut, and Maryland would empty out, according to a new Gallup poll. Around half of residents in all three states said they would relocate to another state given the chance, with Illinois having the highest rate of people (50%) who want to get out; Connecticut clocked in at 49%, and Maryland at 47%. People in Montana, Hawaii, and Maine were the most inclined to stay put, with just 23% of residents of each state saying they would take the opportunity to move. Read the rest of this entry »
Green demands to stop drilling for natural gas come at an awkward time for Obama and his party
Kimberley Strassel writes: The environmental left is seeing Democrats the Keystone XL pipeline, and raising them natural-gas exports. The question of who folds on this issue will play big in this midterm election year.
“The White House is technically in favor of natural gas, has reaped its environmental and economic upside, and its candidates are coalescing around drilling and export expansion. The president’s green troops now demand an end to this. To crack down on fracking would be economically and politically dumb.”
A split is growing in the Democratic Party, one that ought to rival the divisions on the right that the headlines trumpet. Greens are increasingly bitter about President Obama —annoyed that he’s dropped climate legislation, scaled back green subsidies, ignored fracking. They’ve channeled their frustration into the fight against Keystone, warning that they’ll turn their significant money and resources against Mr. Obama’s party if the president approves more “dirty oil.” Since this president cares about nothing so much as winning elections, he’s sat on the pipeline for five years. Read the rest of this entry »
OKLAHOMA CITY – Schoolchildren in Oklahoma could not be punished for chewing their breakfast pastries into the shape of a gun under a bill introduced this week by a Republican legislator.
Rep. Sally Kern said Wednesday her measure dubbed the Common Sense Zero Tolerance Act was in response to school districts having policies that are too strict or inflexible.
Kern cited a recent Maryland case that gained national media attention where a boy was suspended after his teacher accused him of chewing his Pop Tart into the shape of a gun.
“Real intent, real threats and real weapons should always be dealt with immediately. We need to stop criminalizing children’s imagination and childhood play,” Kern, Republican from Oklahoma City told News9.com.
“If there’s no real intent, there’s no real threat, no real weapon, no real harm is occurring or going to occur, why in the world are we in a sense abusing our children like this.”
Under Kern’s bill, students couldn’t be punished for possessing small toy weapons or using writing utensils, fingers or their hands to simulate a weapon. Students also couldn’t be punished for drawing pictures of weapons or wearing clothes that “support or advance Second Amendment rights or organizations.”
News9.com reported that Kern’s proposal was met with immediate opposition from the Oklahoma Education Association.
“The proposed legislation removes local control from teachers, counselors, administrators and local school boards. Educators are degreed professionals, trained and experienced in dealing with children,” Linda Hampton, president of the Oklahoma Education Association, told the station.
Retired FBI agent Robert Levinson went missing in Iran in 2007, and in 2010 the AP revealed his ties to the AP. Now a new investigation shows that the CIA employee who sent Levinson to Iran was an analyst who didn’t have that authority. How did it all go so wrong?
Joe Pappalardo reports: In American culture, the words “rogue CIA mission” call to mind squads of agents ready to take out targets, run guns, and rig elections—often for agendas too unsavory to be public. But even if rogue agents were amoral, at least they were thought to be capable. Recent allegations have upset the established idea of a rogue CIA operation, and this new version is somehow more insidious: This time, it’s amateurs playing a global spy game and getting people hurt.
The Associated Press unearthed the troubling story behind the disappearance of a contractor, retired FBI agent Robert Levinson, who was seized by Iranian agents seven years ago and never seen again. According to the AP, a CIA analyst named Anne Jablonski overextended her reach when she sent Levinson to Iran to investigate leads on an assassination. Jablonski and two other analysts were fired, and the CIA paid Levinson’s family $2.5 million to preempt a revealing lawsuit, according to the AP (which has sat on the story since 2010).
The CIA says it has rewritten its rules to restrict how analysts can work with outsiders. But the flagrant violation of rules in this case shows there is something more to what happened to Levinson. It’s the sign of a bureaucracy so vast that it can’t police itself. Here are four ways the intel world is becoming its own worst enemy.
Analysts Acting Like Spymasters
Levinson was, among other things, looking into Iran’s nuclear program, the AP found. In 2007, he was meeting with a known killer, Dawud Salahuddin, who admitted to murdering a former Iranian diplomat in Maryland in 1980. Levinson disappeared after that meeting.
Hannah Levintova‘s breathlessly-alarmist article begins:
“This past spring, strangely similar pieces of mail started arriving at the offices of city attorneys in 28 Maryland communities. The tersely worded letters, many dated March 26, warned each town that some of its firearms laws were illegal and needed to be repealed immediately. Takoma Park‘s letter claimed that ordinances against carrying unlocked guns and possessing or selling guns in public places “grossly” exceeded state law and should be taken off the books, “out of respect for the rule of law.” All of the letters warned that failure to comply would put the towns “at risk for a lawsuit.”
This reflects the wishes of the community, as well as the concerns of gun-rights advocacy groups. What do the actual residents of Newton prefer? In Newtown, Gun Permits Surge After Shooting. Residents Cite Desire for Protection, a Rush to Buy Before Tighter Rules Kicked In. And not just in Newton. Thanks in part to these ‘activist gun groups”, more citizens in the U.S. have taken gun-saftey classes–and primarily, more women–than ever before.
If “strangely similar pieces of mail” warn Newton city attorneys against violating laws, that suggests that the activist opposition to activist gun-grabbers is well organized. Perhaps Mother Jones would prefer that Newton violate those laws, and that Newton residents should be even more restricted from protecting themselves.
“Once in a blue moon we get these kinds of letters from activist organizations,” says Ryan Spiegel, vice president of the Montgomery County chapter of the Maryland Municipal League and a member of the Gaithersburg city council. What felt different this time, he says, was the coordination—and the timing: Just a month earlier, the Maryland Senate had passed some of the country’s toughest gun control measures in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.
Yes, the timing is relevant. The Maryland Senate‘s bowing to pressure from anti-gun groups, and exploiting Newton’s tragedy, does not sit well with many of the residents of Newton, who have to live with decisions made in haste by misguided or cowardly lawmakers.
Note: the “toughest” gun-control measures are firmly in place in the American cities that suffer from highest rates of crime, murder, and violence. While regions with less-restrictive gun laws, and higher numbers of legally-armed citizens, benefit from lower crime, murder, and violence in their communities. Even the U.N. confirms it. This is not only true in the U.S., it’s true worldwide.
Many states do not have the capacity to thoroughly vet all of the applicants seeking jobless benefits, which opens the door to potential fraud, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Typically when laid-off workers apply for unemployment benefits, they must produce proper documentation, including pay stubs, to prove their previous employment and income information. However, the recent surge of applicants has made it difficult for some states to look through all of the paper work.
Instead some states are basing the benefits program off of the honor system. Read the rest of this entry »
Rep. Chris Van Hollen has a proposal he says can assuage both the tea party’s concerns over IRS overreach and progressives’ fretting over the flood of anonymous campaign cash unleashed by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling.
His plan: Sue the IRS.
The Maryland Democrat announced Wednesday that he is suing the agency, as well as the Treasury Department, to demand a change in the way they evaluate nonprofits that proclaim themselves to be “social-welfare” organizations.
The IRS currently allows such organizations—a class of power players known as “tax-exempt 501(c)4s,” whose ranks include Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS and the Obama-aligned Priorities USA—to dabble in political advocacy, so long as they keep such activities secondary to their general charitable work.
Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies? Rivers and seas boiling? Forty years of darkness? Earthquakes, volcanoes…Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria?
A Maryland woman pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges related to setting up at least 15 false businesses in six states that received government contracts despite often being registered to people who did not exist.
The businesses subcontracted all the work to other companies, then took the federal dollars without paying the companies doing the work.
Larayne Whitehead, 34, of Clinton, Md., agreed to forfeit $2.4 million in illegal proceeds and a silver Audi.