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Updated: 1 hour 51 min ago

Fergie apologizes for her bizarre, widely panned national anthem rendition

3 hours 2 min ago

Singer “Fergie” Duhamel (aka Stacy Ferguson), apologized after receiving much criticism over her bizarre national anthem performance prior to Sunday night’s NBA All-Star Game in Los Angeles.

What was the performance like, anyway?

Ferguson’s rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” was a very bluesy and sultry take on the national anthem.

The singer — of Black Eyed Peas fame — shouted “Let’s play some basketball!” after her Sunday night performance at the sold-out Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Throughout her televised performance, the cameras panned across the crowd to reveal a plethora of different expressions on people’s faces.

You can watch the video of her performance below.

What did she say in her apology?

After bearing the brunt of much criticism across social platforms and in the media, Ferguson told TMZ that her rendition of the national anthem was a risk that just didn’t pay off.

“I’ve always been honored and proud to perform the national anthem and last night I wanted to try something special for the NBA,” Ferguson told the outlet. “I’m a risk-taker artistically, but clearly this rendition didn’t strike the intended tone. I love this country and honestly tried my best.”

Michael Moore attended anti-Trump ‘not my president’ rally allegedly organized by Russian operatives

3 hours 17 min ago

The irony is real.

Hollywood director Michael Moore has bashed President Donald Trump since he took office in January 2017. He regularly accuses Trump of having “colluded” with the Russians to win the White House.

But now it appears Moore has a much stronger connection to Russian activities meant to undermine American democracy.

What happened?

Special counsel Robert Mueller announced last week the indictment of 13 Russian nationals who ran the Internet Research Agency, a shell-company used to sow political discord and undermine American democracy. The agency originally sought to discredit Hillary Clinton, but after Trump won election, the agency worked to undermine him.

The agency did most of their work online, but they also helped organize rallies nationwide. Authorities believe one those rallies, an anti-Trump rally in November 2016, was one Moore was a part of.

According to Fox News, the government said the Russian operatives organized the Nov. 12, 2016, “Trump is NOT my President” rally in New York City. Mueller said the goal of the rally was to “sow discord in the U.S. political system.”

Moore posted about his experience at the rally on social media, including a picture of himself posing with fellow anti-Trump protesters:

He also posted a video of himself from inside Trump Tower and during the protest talking to other protesters. At the beginning of the video, Moore characterized Trump as a “racist sociopath.”

The protest included a march from Union Square to Trump Tower, which is a distance of about 40 blocks in Manhattan. It was one of the many rallies hosted in the days after the election to protest the then-president-elect, according to NBC News. There were similar rallies in most other major cities nationwide.

Republicans could lose as many as four seats in Pennsylvania based on new congressional map

3 hours 42 min ago

Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court has approved a new congressional map for the state that could hand Democrats several additional seats in November’s elections, after the original map was determined to be an unconstitutional gerrymander that disproportionately favored Republicans, according to the Washington Post.

The map was drawn by Nate Persily, adviser to the court, and approved by a 4-3 vote.

Republicans, with the verbal support of President Donald Trump, are expected to challenge the map, but it’s unclear whether there is strong legal ground for a challenge to the court’s redraw.

What is the impact of the new map?

The new map redraws the congressional districts in a way that more closely reflects the way voters were split in the 2016 presidential election. Trump won Pennsylvania with 48.6 percent of the vote.

Republicans currently hold 13 out of 18 seats. The new map is split with 10 districts that Trump won and eight that Hillary Clinton won. According to the Pew Research Center, an overwhelming majority of congressional districts are won by presidential and congressional candidates of the same party.

What were the guidelines for the redraw?

The new map splits fewer than half as many counties as the Republicans’ 2011 map did. The new districts are also much more geographically compact.

According to the court’s majority, the new map is superior to previous proposals based on “traditional redistricting criteria of compactness, contiguity, equality of population, and respect for the integrity of political subdivisions.”

Why did the court draw the map?

Republican lawmakers and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) couldn’t agree to a new map by the Feb. 15 deadline set by the court.

Any challenge by GOP lawmakers to this map would likely be based on the argument that drawing congressional maps is the job of the Legislature. However, the Legislature’s failure to pass a map that had the approval of the governor when given the opportunity may undermine that stance.

Trump urged the Pennsylvania GOP to keep fighting for their original map.

“Hope Republicans in the Great State of Pennsylvania challenge the new ‘pushed’ Congressional Map, all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary,” Trump tweeted Tuesday morning. “Your Original was correct! Don’t let the Dems take elections away from you so that they can raise taxes & waste money!”

Pizza workers refuse to serve cop in uniform — and get served some justice they won’t soon forget

6 hours 22 min ago

A longtime Dora, Alabama, police officer was wearing his uniform when he visited a Little Caesars pizza restaurant in Sumiton last Tuesday to pick up dinner for his family — and had a little trouble getting his food.

That’s because two Little Caesars employees refused to serve the cop, WBMA-TV reported.

The officer and his family reported the incident to Little Caesars, and a corporate spokeswoman told WBMA an investigation revealed that the company’s core principals weren’t followed.

“The two employees were terminated the following morning,” Jill Proctor, Little Caesars Corporate Communications Manager, told the station.

Proctor added to WBMA that Little Caesars visited the Dora Police Department and gave all the officers free pizza. It appears that visit took place last Wednesday — the day after the incident in Sumiton.

The restaurant chain also offered free pizza last Wednesday evening to any current or retired officer — including immediate family members of any officers — in the Birmingham, Alabama, metro area.

Michelle Phillips — wife of the officer in question, Ronnie Phillips — wrote on Facebook that she was “livid” about the incident.

“Those of you that know me, know I have a temper when it comes to my family,” she added. “The Walker County came out!!”

Here’s a Facebook post from the Dora Police Department about Ronnie Phillips’ promotion to sergeant last July:

Shep Smith rebukes Trump in scathing monologue over Russian election meddling

Mon, 02/19/2018 - 20:40

Shepard Smith of Fox News offered another scathing rebuke of President Trump on Monday when he criticized him for attacking many of his political opponents via his Twitter account, but leaving Russia unscathed.

Here’s the video of his scathing monologue:

Here’s what Smith said:

“The president spent the weekend defending himself, misrepresenting the truth, and attacking others from his phone in Florida,” Smith began.

“The president attacked the Justice Department,” he explained, “the FBI, and his national security advisor, H.R. McMaster. He attacked Congressman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Democrats, and the DNC.”

“He attacked Hillary Clinton, President Obama, the previous Congress, and the news media, before going after Oprah Winfrey,” he continued.

“He did not attack Vladimir Putin, or Russia,” he added, pointedly. “Nor did he express concern that the Russians attacked the United States, nor did he pledge in any way to put measures in place to stop future attacks.”

“The president storms Twitter from Mar-A-Lago,” Smith said, “after the special counsel Robert Mueller gave the most concrete evidence yet of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.”

Smith then read some of the president’s tweets and continued his critique of Trump’s actions.

“The reality is the president has questioned the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election over, and over, and over again,” Smith later added.

“The president’s spokespersons have been on television denouncing the meddling, the president has not,” he concluded. “Not once, not on camera, not on Twitter, not anywhere.”

Trump tweets about Romney’s run for Senate – and Mitt responds

Mon, 02/19/2018 - 20:17

President Trump tweeted about the announcement from Mitt Romney, once his greatest critic, that he would be running for the U.S. Senate seat for the state of Utah.

Here’s what he tweeted:

“[Mitt Romney] has announced he is running for the Senate from the wonderful State of Utah.

“He will make a great Senator and worthy successor to [Senator Orrin Hatch],” he added, “and has my full support and endorsement!”

Romney responded and thanked him for his endorsement. “Thank you Mr. President for the support,” he tweeted. “I hope that over the course of the campaign I also earn the support and endorsement of the people of Utah.”

“Choked like a dog!”

Trump was very critical of Romney in the primary election in 2016, as the former presidential candidate assailed him for not reflecting the conservative values Romney believed the Republican party stood for.

Trump hit him back hard, especially from his Twitter account:

Many expect that Romney could become one of Trump’s biggest critics again, this time from a likely seat in the U.S. Senate.

Polling shows Mitt Romney has as much as an overwhelming 50 point advantage over his Democratic opponent, Jenny Wilson.

Florida shooting survivor calls Trump tweet ‘insane’ – here’s why

Mon, 02/19/2018 - 18:34

Anderson Cooper spoke to Alex Wind, a Parkland school shooting survivor, on CNN Monday and had him respond to the tweets sent by the president about the shooting.

Here’s what he said

“I know you definitely feel some anger, understandably, at the FBI,” Cooper said after reading one of President Trump’s tweets about the Florida shooting.

“I wonder what you think of this tweet and others from the president this week?” he asked.

“You know the first half of that tweet is semi-fine,” Wind responded. “The FBI did make a mistake in not investigating Nikolas Cruz further. However, it’s insane that he went into detail about Russia.

“This is not about him,” he continued, “this is about us, this is about the residents of Parkland.”

“Children are dying, and the FBI didn’t do anything about it,” he concluded, “the president should have said there needs to be changes within the FBI, instead he started talking about Russia and collusion and his campaign.”

Here’s the video of the exchange:

“A 19-year-old who can’t purchase an alcoholic beverage should not be allowed to purchase an AR-15, a weapon of war, a weapon of destruction,” Wind said later in the interview. “It’s absolutely absurd.”

President Trump appeared to blame the FBI’s investigation into Russian election interference and alleged collusion with the Trump campaign for their failure in preventing the Florida shooting.

“Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter,” he tweeted. “This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign – there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!”

The White House indicated Monday that Trump was willing to support legislation to encourage better cooperation between federal authorities and local law enforcement in an attempt to prevent further shootings.

LeBron James has a surprising reaction to Laura Ingraham telling him to ‘shut up and dribble’

Mon, 02/19/2018 - 17:41

NBA star LeBron James had a surprising reaction to a scathing critique from Fox News host Laura Ingraham where she told him to “shut up and dribble” instead of offering his comments about President Trump.

Here’s video of LeBron James’ comments:

Here’s what he said:

“I would not shut up and dribble because I mean too much to my two boys here,” James told reporters, “their best friend right here, my daughter that’s at home, and my wife, and my family, and all these other kids who look up to me for inspiration, and try to find a way out.”

“The best thing she did is gonna help me,” he added, “is create more awareness, so, I appreciate her for even giving me even more awareness. For me to sit up here, in the greatest weekend of the NBA All-Star weekend and I get to sit up here and talk about social injustice, equality, and why a woman on a certain network decided to tell me to shut up and dribble.”

“So, thank you, whatever her name is,” he concluded, “I don’t even know her name, but I appreciate it.”

“Tiago says no one knows, and that’s perfect,” he added, laughing.

Ingraham was criticized by many for her derisive comments, while some opined that her critique was at least partly animated by racism against the star basketball player.

“It’s always unwise to seek political advice from someone who gets paid $100 million a year to bounce a ball,” she said in the commentary on her show.

On Friday she released a statement denying the charges of racism, saying there was “no racial intent in my remarks,” and characterized the attacks on her as “an attempt to immunize entertainment and sports elites from scrutiny and criticism.”

Here’s what the White House says Trump is going to do about school shootings

Mon, 02/19/2018 - 16:15

The White House indicated that President Trump is willing to back some changes in order to try to prevent more gun shootings in the wake of the horrible Florida school shooting that took 17 lives.

Here’s what the White House said:

“The President spoke to Senator Cornyn (R-Texas) on Friday about the bi-partisan bill he and Sen. Murphy (D-Conn.) introduced to improve Federal Compliance with Criminal Background check Legislation,” said press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in a statement Monday.

“While discussions are ongoing and revisions are being considered, the President is supportive of efforts to improve the Federal background check system,” the statement concluded.

Missed warnings

Various law enforcement agencies were criticized after it appeared that several warning signs of the Florida shooting were ignored. Police admit that they had contact with the troubled teen multiple times for various offenses, but he was never arrested.

The legislation supported by Trump would “enhance state and federal record-sharing with the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System,” but it’s unclear whether it would have prevented the Florida shooting.

Gun rights in the crosshairs

Others criticized the administration for not seeking remedy for the shootings in gun control. Some students who survived the Florida shooting have begun campaign heavily on cable news outlets for gun control and specifically calling out the president and other Republicans.

Trump tweets

Trump appeared to blame the negligence of the FBI in preventing the Florida shooting on their investigations into Russian interference and alleged collusion in a tweet on Saturday.

“Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter,” he said. “This is not acceptable.”

“They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign,” he added, “there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!”

Earlier the president also referenced the missed warnings from the 19-year-old shooter.

Nikolas Cruz was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder, and may face the death penalty.

Watch: CNN host asks John Podesta an embarrassing question about the Clinton campaign

Mon, 02/19/2018 - 14:43

Former Hillary Clinton campaign manager John Podesta was asked an embarrassing question about the accusations that Russian interference helped tip the 2016 election to elect President Trump over his opponent.

Here’s the video of Podesta’s appearance:

Here’s what he said

CNN host Nancy Cords interviewed Podesta about the recent indictments from special counsel Mueller’s investigation into Russian election intervention and alleged collusion.

“How is it that these Russian operatives knew to focus on purple states like Michigan and Wisconsin and your campaign didn’t?” she asked.

“Well, Of course we spent a lot of time and energy and effort in all those states,” Podesta responded.

“Hillary Clinton herself did not spend much time in those states,” Cordes objected.

“You know we had Tim Kaine was there, [former President] Barack Obama was in,” he explained, “and she spent enormous time in Pennsylvania initially. And we spent a lot of effort, we had more staff in Wisconsin than even President Obama had in 2012.”

“But I think that begs the question,” he continued. “I think we focused on places we thought were, that were in contest, and at the end of the day we fell short in those states and I think that this active measures effort by the Russians could have tilted the election in Donald Trump’s favor.”

“But I think what the real issue is how he has reacted to it,” he claimed. “And in that context, if this is information warfare then I think he’s the first draft-dodger in the war.”

“He has done nothing but tried to undermine the Mueller investigation,” Podesta charged, “he hasn’t implemented the sanctions that were passed by the Congress and that he signed in reaction to the activities in the 2016 election. We learned this week, he’s ordered no effort to try to get the intelligence community to get together to try to prevent further activities in the 2018 election.”

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said that there were no charges of Russian collusion in the indictments released against 13 persons who were involved in the Russian interference in the U.S. election. Some have pointed out that this doesn’t necessarily mean there won’t be future charges by Mueller on that account.

Kansas Republican Party passes resolution to oppose ‘all efforts to validate transgender identity’

Mon, 02/19/2018 - 14:12

A resolution opposing “all efforts to validate transgender identity” was approved by the Kansas Republican Party at its state convention over the weekend, the Wichita Eagle reported.

What happened?

The resolution, which passed based on a voice vote, affirmed “God’s design for gender as determined by biological sex and not by self-perception.” It also opposes efforts to surgically or hormonally alter a person’s body to align with their “perceived gender identity.”

The party’s state committee also recognized the dignity of those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender.

Delegates from each of the congressional districts, along with elected officials and leaders of groups associated with the Republican Party make up the committee of about 180 members.

Eric Teetsel, a member of the committee and president of the Family Policy Alliance of Kansas, proposed the resolution.

“Ultimately, we are motivated by love. It is concern for the well-being of others that drives us to seek out what is true and not just for society, but for them personally,” Teetsel told the Eagle.

“And ultimately, an ideology that says you can determine your own gender identity is broken and it’s going to lead to a lot of pain, and that’s why it’s important to bring us back to what we know to be true and good,” he added.

The party’s platform, which opposes same-sex marriage said, “Our children’s future is best preserved within the traditional understanding of marriage.”

“You go back to what does the Republican Party stand for? And I think the committee felt that it aligned with our platform and so, they supported it,” Kansas Republican Party Chairman Kelly Arnold said.

What do opponents say?

Equality Kansas told the Eagle it was “incredibly disappointed” that Kansas Republicans had promoted “such an undignified and crass assault.”

Paige Hungate, student body president at Wichita State University, said she feared the resolution would polarize the party.

“To me, it is not a pressing issue for us to state that we believe in only two genders,” Hungate said. “This hurts us more than it helps us; this makes us seem less willing to accept individuals into the party who may not identify with that stance.”

Florida high school student says media is politicizing massacre to push gun control

Mon, 02/19/2018 - 13:40

A high school student from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School — the school where Nikolas Cruz allegedly killed 17 people and injured many more — has openly condemned the media for politicizing the tragedy in the days after the Wednesday shooting.

What are the details?

Speaking with The Daily Wire‘s Ryan Saavedra, high school student Brandon Minoff accused the media of taking the focus off of those killed in the mass shooting and using the massacre for an opportunity to push for gun control.

“I think it’s the media,” Minoff told Saavedra, pointing to the media, who the outlet reports Minoff believes is pushing gun control as a response to the shooting. “They exploit everything to make it political. They’re more concerned about gun control at this moment rather than the fact that there were 17 people that were killed.”

The Daily Wire reported that while Minoff does believe that restrictions and limitations should be imposed on firearms, he is greatly disappointed by the media coverage in the days following the deadly attack.

“It pains me to see that knowing that 17 of my classmates are dead and they just want to talk about gun control,” Minoff added. “Students have opinions, they say stuff that they’re against guns, and that gun control is necessary, but they’re making it bigger than it needs to be at this moment.”

While Minoff said that passing some sort of legislation to reduce tragedies of this type would be “helpful,” he also seems to have doubts about any gun control laws’ efficacy.

“You can’t drink until you’re 21, but that doesn’t stop kids from drinking,” he explained. “I don’t know if there is a way to stop it. There is a way around anything.”

The outlet reported that Minoff does, however, feel that schools should have armed guards, and said that if assistant football coach Aaron Feis — who died a hero for shielding students from gunfire with his body — had a weapon, the fatalities may have been reduced.

“If Coach Feis would have had a gun or any of the other security guards would have had a gun it definitely would have been less fatal,” Minoff reasoned. “[The shooter] and coach Feis were face-to-face and he just shielded kids instead of having the ability to kill the shooter.”

Sheriff offers free concealed carry classes for teachers in wake of deadly school shooting

Mon, 02/19/2018 - 13:25

Since the deadly mass shooting at a Florida high school last week, politicians and pundits have been calling for stronger gun control measures and casting blame for the tragedy on the NRA, Republicans, conservatives and President Donald Trump.

But others are fighting fire with fire.

TheBlaze noted Sunday that the owner of UtahGunExchange.com is offering a free concealed carry class for the state’s educators and students who are at least 18 years old.

And the same thing is happening in Ohio — but the difference is that the offer is coming courtesy of a law enforcement official.

Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones announced Sunday on Twitter that he’ll offer a free concealed carry class to teachers in the county — as well as training on school shootings.

The idea seemed to quickly elicit positive responses, as the sheriff’s office noted on Facebook:

“Over 50 emails in 20 minutes,” the post noted. “Keep them coming, we will find a plan. This community rocks! #kidscomefirst!!”

What did detractors have to say?

Not that everybody was on board. One Facebook commenter called the sheriff’s class to fight back against gun violence in schools “hillbilly logic.”

“If kids come first, why are you trying to expose them to MORE firearms?” the commenter wrote. “Why not just try to change the gun laws and make it harder for people to even obtain them?”

A commenter on Jones’ Twitter post replied, “I truly hope you’re not implying by this tweet that teachers should be bringing weapons onto school property? Training for everyone on an individual basis is fine and dandy, but if there is a teacher bringing a gun onto school grounds, I have BIG problems with that.”

What move did Ohio’s Republican governor just take in relation to guns?

Gov. John Kasich removed a pro-Second Amendment section from his political website Sunday after he called on Congress to enact stricter gun laws.

(H/T: Louder With Crowder)

GOP governor scraps pro-Second Amendment portion of his website, calls on Congress to ‘wake up’

Mon, 02/19/2018 - 12:48

Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio) removed a pro-Second Amendment section from his political website Sunday after he called on Congress to enact stricter gun laws during an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“We should look at bump stocks that make weapons fully automatic. I was talking to a friend of mine this morning,” the governor said. “He’s a big collector. I said, ‘If all of a sudden, you couldn’t buy an AR-15, what would you lose? Would you feel as though your Second Amendment rights would be eroded because you couldn’t buy a God-darn AR-15?'”

The former presidential candidate, who has long touted himself as a Second Amendment supporter, first expressed his change of heart in an op-ed published Nov. 12, following the massacres in Las Vegas in October, and Sutherland Springs, Texas, in November.

What did the pro-Second Amendment section of the site say?

Kasich’s political site featured photos and text touting his stance to defend the rights of gun owners, according to Ohio public radio journalist Karen Kasler.

“[A]s governor, [Kasich] has signed every pro-2nd amendment bill that has crossed his desk to defend this basic, constitutional right. John Kasich is a gun owner himself, and in his 2014 re-election was endorsed by the National Rifle Association for his support of the Second Amendment as an inviolate part of our Constitution,” the section read.

It went on to say he enacted legislation protecting the privacy of concealed handgun owners and allowing for reciprocity licenses with other states where permit holders can carry their guns.

And it talked about Kasich’s opposition to then-President Barack Obama’s gun control executive orders: “The Second Amendment is too important and Obama’s hostility is too well known for him to go around Congress and undermine the Second Amendment.”

What did Kasich say on CNN?

Kasich called Congress “totally dysfunctional” and said it’s time for them to “wake up.”

He said “politicians have not been responding” to the shootings and he “doesn’t have any confidence in them” to do so now.

“Where we have to effect this, I believe, is at the local level and the statehouse, because you can have greater access to politicians who serve in the state legislature, in — a county commissioner, in a city council,” Kasich said.

He went to add that lawmakers in Ohio are “looking at everything, full background checks, including casual sales,” and the terms surrounding people with mental illness and their ability to purchase firearms. Casual sales are those made by someone who isn’t in the firearm’s selling business.

Kasich claimed he still supports the Second Amendment but added that there may need to be limits placed on it.

“If you’re a strong Second Amendment person, you need to — you need to slow down and take a look at reasonable things that can be done to answer these young people,” Kasich said, referring to Florida high school students who are demanding action on gun control.

Then he called on President Donald Trump to “take some steps now” toward “common sense” reform.

High school student arrested after allegedly saying during class, ‘I could buy an AR-15’

Mon, 02/19/2018 - 12:33

A 17-year-old Connecticut high school student was arrested after allegedly saying during class, “I could buy an AR-15 rifle” — the same type of gun used in the deadly mass shooting last Wednesday at a Florida high school.

Authorities came to Ledyard High School after getting word from school officials around 9 a.m. Thursday that the student made the comment, WTNH-TV reported.

The student — whose identity is being withheld — was charged with threatening in the 2nd degree and breach of peace in the 2nd degree, WTNH said.

Police told the station they worked with school staff to ensure there was never a credible threat to students or staff members.

Principal Amanda Fagan emphasized in a statement that the student is a minor who cannot legally purchase an AR-15 but that the student’s words are “akin to joking about a bomb in the airport. One simply doesn’t do it,” WTIC-TV reported.

“The student in question does not have access to firearms at home,” Fagan added, the station said. “There was never any threat to the safety of your children or the adults who teach and tend to them each day. The student did not, in fact, specifically threaten to do harm but rather referenced the purchase of a weapon.”

Here is the principal’s statement on WTIC:

In the wake of any school violence, nerves are often frayed. Today is no exception. Many of us – parents, students, educators – faced today with feelings of sadness, anger, even fear as we began to process the news of the eighth fatal school shooting in America in seven weeks. This time, it was 17 high school students and staff members who lost their lives yesterday at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

Like every school staff in America today, the staff of Ledyard High School had heightened senses all day, working to be sure our smiles were particularly welcoming, our ears were particularly open, our interactions particularly genuine. I addressed the student body at the start of second block today, and I attach those words to this email if you’d like to read them.

The specific purpose for this School Messenger is to counter some false information that was posted today on a community forum on Facebook. That social media post indicated that a student at the high school had been arrested today for posting on the internet that he was going to shoot up the high school. That information, as presented, is false. Had an overt threat against the students and staff of Ledyard High School been made, you can be certain that you would have heard about it from school or district administration.

While protecting student confidentiality, I’d like to tell you what did happen today. At the beginning of our first period class, a student stated, roughly, “I could buy an AR-15.” In an abundance of caution, despite the fact that this student is a minor who cannot, in fact, legally purchase such a weapon, we made the decision to consult with the Ledyard Police, who made the decision to take the student into custody. The offense is akin to joking about a bomb in the airport. One simply doesn’t do it.

The student in question does not have access to firearms at home. There was never any threat to the safety of your children or the adults who teach and tend to them each day. The student did not, in fact, specifically threaten to do harm but rather referenced the purchase of a weapon. Moving forward into the coming days and weeks, I ask for your help in keeping the spread of unverified information in check. Should you ever have a question, please reach out to me by phone, email, or in person. I’m happy to clarify or verify information as appropriate.

(H/T: The College Fix)

Russian election interference aimed to help Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein — not just Donald Trump

Mon, 02/19/2018 - 12:08

The Russian operatives charged with meddling in the 2016 presidential election weren’t trying to boost only President Donald Trump’s chances, according to USA Today.

An indictment stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election meddling details that operations were intended to attack all candidates — except Trump, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I), and Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

According to the indictment, the Russians “engaged in operations primarily intended to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, to denigrate other candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and to support Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump.”

The operatives also purchased online ads in support of Stein’s campaign shortly before Election Day.

The indictment made clear that the results of the election were not impacted by the Russians’ activities.

However, Sanders tweeted Friday that Mueller’s investigation must continue in order to protect the 2018 election.

“It has been clear to everyone (except Donald Trump) that Russia was deeply involved in the 2016 election and intends to be involved in 2018. It is the American people who should be deciding the future of our country, not Mr. Putin and the Russian oligarchs,” Sanders wrote.

“It is absolutely imperative that the Mueller investigation be allowed to go forward without obstruction from the Trump administration or Congress,” he continued.

Clinton has not publicly addressed the revelations about her campaign being target by Russian media attacks, but her campaign manager addressed the situation on Twitter.

New allegations claim ‘#MeToo’ Dem. lawmaker drank on the job, used sex to get info from officials

Mon, 02/19/2018 - 11:55

California Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, a #MeToo advocate under investigation for sexual harassment, has been hit with more damaging allegations that paint her office as a toxic work environment in which Garcia behaved unprofessionally and inappropriately on a regular basis.

Four former staffers wrote a letter detailing allegations of sexual and professional misconduct since the Democratic lawmaker was elected in 2012 and requesting that the State Assembly investigate.

The accusations

The former staffers alleged:

  • Garcia regularly drank alcohol on the job and pressured staff to do the same both at the office and during after hours events.
  • Garcia would brag in “uncomfortable” detail about her sexual activity, including sexual activity with other lawmakers that took place in Assembly offices
  • Garcia bragged about using sex to get information from other elected officials.
  • Garcia treated her staff harshly, routinely belittling and threatening them with termination, and showing herself to be “very retaliatory in nature.”
  • Garcia required staffers to perform campaign and personal duties on Assembly time.

Three of the four staffers who wrote the letter have remained anonymous out of fear of retaliation, but one of them elaborated on the situation to Politico.

David Kernick comes forward

David Kernick worked for Garcia for five months in 2014 and filed a formal complaint against the assemblywoman that claims he was fired for resisting her behavior.

Kernick told Politico that Garcia once drank heavily at a fundraising event and later tried to get staffers to play “spin the bottle” in her hotel room. He said he was disciplined and fired shortly after protesting the game as sexual harassment.

“It was definitely uncomfortable,” Kernick told Politico. “But I realized it’s different for a man than for a woman. … You know it’s inappropriate, but at the same time you may wonder, ‘How many women do you work for that act like that?’ You think … ‘Maybe she’s just really cool.’”

A pattern of behavior?

Other staffers and a lobbyist told Politico that Garcia would serve alcoholic drinks during work hours as a form of “team-building” and that she offered a group of lobbyists beer during a morning meeting from a tap she had in her office.

Garcia’s response

A spokeswoman for Garcia would not comment on the new allegations.

“The assembly member is on voluntary, unpaid leave until the investigation into the claim has concluded,” said spokeswoman Teala Schiff. “As an employee of [the] Assembly Rules [Committee], I am not able to answer your questions.”

Garcia, under investigation for allegations that she groped former staff members, said:

I will address each of these issues individually after the investigations into these allegations are closed. I am confident that I consistently treated my staff fairly and respectfully. In a fast-paced legislative office, not everyone is the right fit for every position, and I do understand how a normal employment decision could be misinterpreted.

Owners of gun store who sold school shooter weapon close shop indefinitely: ‘Shocked and mortified’

Mon, 02/19/2018 - 11:35

The owners of a gun shop in Coral Springs, Florida, have closed their shop indefinitely after Nikolas Cruz, a former patron, carried out one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history with a weapon he purchased from the store.

What are the details?

The New York Daily News reported Monday that Michael and Lisa Morrison, owners of Sunrise Tactical Supply, closed their shop indefinitely on Friday “out of respect” of those impacted by the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Cruz reportedly bought the weapon he used in the shooting at the Morrisons’ shop in February 2017.

Douglas Rudman, a lawyer for the Morrisons, said that the couple is “shocked and mortified that anything like this would happen,” pointing to the deadly shooting which claimed the lives of at least 17 people and injured many more.

According to Rudman, the Morrisons followed proper procedure in selling the gun to Cruz.

“There was nothing about this transaction that raised any suspicions in the minds of the owners or the employees,” Rudman said, noting that the shop had performed “all appropriate background checks, received all the proper clearances, and held the weapon for the required [five] business day waiting period.”

According to the outlet, Cruz answered “no” on the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) paperwork asking if he suffered from mental illness.

What do the Morrisons think?

Rudman in a statement went on to express the Morrisons’ points of view on the shooting.

“They condemn in the strongest possible fashion anyone who uses any weapon in anger and violence,” Rudman added. “They’re good family people who would never advocate violence toward anyone.”

The Morrisons are apparently even going as far as to throw support behind legislation that would clarify procedures surrounding those with mental illness attempting to purchase guns.

“They feel strongly about supporting measures that would require the disclosure of allegations of mental illness to agencies that govern the approval of firearm sales,” Rudman’s statement added. “These measures will be a first step toward taking firearms out of the hands of those who would use them for such reprehensible attacks.”

The store hosted FBI and ATF agents on Sunday, according to the outlet.

Anything else?

The couple who welcomed Cruz into their home as a live-in guest expressed their shock at and dismay over the school shooting.

Kimberly and James Snead were featured Monday on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” where they said Cruz was “nothing like they portray on television or in the media.”

Kimberly said that she is “absolutely heartbroken” and “devastated.”

“I still can’t process it because this isn’t the person we knew,” she added. “Not at all.”

The FBI botched another recent investigation. This one let a Muslim girl allegedly attempt ‘jihad.’

Mon, 02/19/2018 - 10:30

In the days following last week’s tragic shooting at a high school in Florida, the FBI has come under scrutiny because it admitted investigators failed to follow protocol in investigating the shooter, who had been reported to the bureau. But it’s not the agency’s only recent botched investigation that led to a 19-year-old person committing serious crimes.

What’s the other?

Tnuza J. Hassan was arrested last month after reportedly setting numerous fires on the campus of St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota. The fires didn’t injure anyone and didn’t cause significant damage, a huge wrench in Hassan’s plan.

According to reports, Hassan told investigators she “wanted the school to burn to the ground and that her intent was to hurt people” and the fires were an attempt at committing “jihad.” She admitted she was angered by U.S. military intervention in the Middle East and wanted to deliver a “pay back” of sorts to Americans.

However, Hassan, just 19, wasn’t an unknown individual to the FBI, according to The Associated Press. In fact, she landed on their radar last year when she was stopped from flying to Afghanistan in September. She told investigators then that she wanted to join Al Qaeda. She told them she thought she would marry a terrorist, but never fight.

Still, the young girl admitted that she would wear a suicide belt if she needed to and said she encouraged her other Muslim friends to “join the jihad in fighting.”

Despite all of that, investigators released the girl. As the AP noted, it’s not clear how closely the FBI was monitoring Hassan between that interview and when she was barred from traveling to Ethiopia in late December. But it couldn’t have been closely because she disappeared for a week before the fires at St. Catherine’s.

Hassan faces serious charges, including multiple counts of arson, lying to the FBI, and attempting to provide “material support” to Al Qaeda.

‘Pig supporters not welcome’: Pro-police stores threatened, vandalized, harassed

Mon, 02/19/2018 - 09:37

St. Louis antique store owner Cherri Elder formed positive relationships with police patrolling in the area, so she decided to display an American flag containing a thin blue line — a symbol for police sacrifice — in front of Elder’s Antiques.

But the gesture didn’t go over well with everybody.

“People came by, they would cuss at you, they would harass you,” Elder told KMOV-TV, “they would harass the customers.”

 KMOV-TV video screenshotImage source: KMOV-TV video screenshot

Elder told the station she took down the thin blue line flag to avoid continued trouble.

“I thought things were getting better,” she told KMOV. “But apparently it’s not.”

What happened?

A month after taking down the thin blue line flag — which is now displayed inside her 32-year-old store — Elder told the station she found a large handwritten sign on the front window of Elder’s Antiques that read: “Pig supporters not welcome. Flag goes down or you go down.”

On the right bottom corner of the sign was a hammer and sickle — presumably standing for communism and the former Soviet Union — along with the letters “MLM,” which KMOV said often stands for Marxism-Leninism-Maoism.

 KMOV-TV video screenshotImage source: KMOV-TV video screenshot

“Oh, it’s most definitely a threat,” Elder told the station, adding that the sign was “big” and “for everybody to see.”

What happened at a nearby store?

A window at Delmay Ltd. Antiques — one of Elder’s neighbors a few doors down — is now boarded up.

 KMOV-TV video screenshotImage source: KMOV-TV video screenshot

Why?

Three individuals were seen on surveillance video kicking in the window and running off, KMOV reported.

 KMOV-TV video screenshotImage source: KMOV-TV video screenshot

Delmay also had a thin blue line flag hanging on her storefront, the station added, but it was stolen.

How is Elder reacting?

“My business, my friends are being targeted,” Elder told KMOV.

While Elder added to the station that she has “every right to fly a flag,” she said she doesn’t think she’ll be putting it back on display.

But whatever Elder decides, she told KMOV that these actions must “stop before somebody gets hurt” and that she desires a return “to some kind of normalcy where people have respect for one another.”

(H/T: Blue Lives Matter)

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