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Updated: 7 min 26 sec ago

Some justice rendered for 2 little girls killed in DUI crash in North Las Vegas

Fri, 07/12/2024 - 15:30


Two little girls who died in an alcohol-related crash near Las Vegas about 18 months ago have now received a small measure of justice as the adults in the vehicle — their mother and aunt — are both sentenced to time behind bars.

On the night of December 11, 2022, Kayleah Manning was in a van driving around North Las Vegas, Nevada. Her older sister, Raenysa Clydette-Glenn Washington, was in the passenger seat, and Washington's two daughters — Taylor Wilmer, 3, and Rose Wilmer, 2 — were in the backseat restrained by adult seatbelts, as Blaze News previously reported.

'The problem is I’m not sure that all of these mistakes are things that could happen to a responsible parent.'

Suddenly, Manning veered from her lane, struck a curb, and hit a small tree and light pole before crashing into a large palm tree.

As a result of the crash, little Rose was decapitated and pronounced dead at the scene. Her sister, Taylor, was rushed to the hospital but succumbed to her injuries the following day.

Both Manning and Washington were also transported to the hospital, where they remained in critical condition for some time. They were also placed under arrest while they underwent treatment for their injuries.

Witnesses claimed that at least one of the women seemed "nonchalant" about the deadly crash. "When she was getting out of the car, she just stepped on the baby and walked to the grass," one witness said.

Another witness claimed one of the women just "left the baby there." Whether the witnesses were referring to Manning or Washington is unclear.

Evidence that Manning was under the influence of alcohol was apparent from the start. Police described her eyes as bloodshot, her speech as slurred, and her breath as smelling strongly of "an alcoholic beverage." Tests taken about two hours after the crash reportedly revealed that her blood-alcohol level was over .19, more than twice the legal limit.

Manning allegedly admitted to consuming two shots of tequila that night. Washington reportedly told police that her sister may have split an entire bottle of tequila with a friend.

Washington also apparently admitted that she knew putting toddlers into adult seatbelts and not car seats was wrong but felt she "couldn’t argue" since it was not her car. Other reports indicate Washington had sold the car seats a week before the crash.

Though Manning, 25, was initially assessed a bevy of serious charges, in April, she pled guilty to two counts of DUI resulting in death. That same month, Washington, 27, pled guilty to two counts of child abuse or neglect.

On Thursday, the two women stood before Judge Erika Mendoza to learn their sentence. Both wept as they made statements asking for mercy.

"No matter if it was an accident, no matter if I would never hurt my children, no matter if it was a mistake, it was my fault," said Washington. "And today I'm ready to take full accountability of this, and for the remainder of my life, I will."

"I never imagined being the cause of so much hurt to my family, my nieces, or myself," said Manning. "But while I have been incarcerated, I've enrolled in the SOARS program to seek the help that I may need to understand myself and what led me to the position I am in today."

Judge Mendoza reportedly shed tears herself but still sentenced both women to serve time.

Manning was sentenced to three to 10 years in prison with credit for the 108 days already served. Once she is released, she must have a breath monitor in her car for at least a year.

Washington was sentenced to just shy of a year in jail with credit for the 11 days already served. She was given a prison sentence as well, but that sentence was immediately suspended.

So long as Washington remains out of trouble once she is released and on probation, she will never have to serve the suspended sentence. However, one technical violation will land her back in jail, the judge ruled.

Since the crash, Washington has given birth to a baby boy. She is also currently pregnant, due sometime in December.

Washington asked to delay starting her jail sentence until Monday so that she could say goodbye to her son, but Judge Mendoza refused.

"The problem is I’m not sure that all of these mistakes are things that could happen to a responsible parent," Mendoza said.

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Fallout continues from US Supreme Court Jan. 6 ruling

Fri, 07/12/2024 - 15:14


A California U.S. Army veteran serving an 18-month prison sentence for obstructing Congress on Jan. 6, 2021, was ordered released July 12 under the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the most commonly charged Jan. 6 felony and its maximum 20-year prison term.

Jorge Aaron Riley, 46, of Sacramento, will be released “forthwith” from the federal lockup in Lompoc, California, under an order issued July 12 by U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta in Washington, D.C. Mehta granted Riley's request for bail pending resolution of a motion to vacate the sentence.

Riley’s release is the latest fallout from the Supreme Court’s ruling in the landmark case Fischer v. United States. In a 6-3 opinion on June 28, the high court said the U.S. Department of Justice could only use the felony obstructing charge if it could prove defendants impaired the use of documents, objects, or “other things” used during counting of Electoral College votes at the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6.

Riley was arrested in January 2021 and later indicted on five criminal counts, including felony obstruction and misdemeanors related to alleged trespassing on Capitol grounds. In March 2023, he accepted a plea deal on the one obstructing count under 18 U.S. Code §1512(c)(2).

In the FBI’s original statement of facts in the case, Riley was seen on various videos boasting that he made it into the Capitol. “We broke windows, we went into the door, we pushed our way in, and then we just kept going further and further,” Riley said, according to the FBI.

'Tom Caldwell is literally the Richard Jewell of January 6.'

Despite that statement, Riley was not charged with damage to property or assaulting law enforcement. The FBI quoted Riley’s words extensively from more than 150 posts he made on Facebook on Jan. 6 and in the days after.

“We stopped the steal because they were in there and they weren’t going to stop the steal, so we stopped the steal,” he wrote in one post. “We took our country back. F*** you guys.”

Although many Jan. 6 defendants and their attorneys hailed the Supreme Court ruling as a victory, it appears that the DOJ is not giving up on making the felony charge stick. In numerous court filings since June 28, prosecutors expressed the view that the Supreme Court did not ban them from using §1512(c)(2), a law enacted in 2002 to fight corporate fraud after the Enron accounting scandal.

In the case of Guy Wesley Reffitt, “the court did not reject the application of §1512(c)(2) to January 6 prosecutions,” a DOJ filing said. “Rather, the court explained that the government must establish that the defendant impaired the availability or integrity for use in an official proceeding of records, documents, objects, or other things used in the proceeding — such as witness testimony or intangible information — or attempted to do so.”

In some court filings, the DOJ made what appear to be new allegations. Responding to probationer Tara Stottlemyer’s motion to vacate her §1512(c)(2) conviction, prosecutors said she “intended to stop the certification proceeding and affect the voting and balloting underlying the certification.”

Defense attorney William Shipley said this approach is not going to work. He filed a motion to compel the government to produce grand jury testimony proving Stottlemyer impaired documents or records used in the counting of Electoral College votes.

“There can be no dispute that the second superseding indictment did not describe in any fashion records, documents, objects or ‘other things’ being impaired or otherwise manipulated by Ms. Stottlemyer at any time on January 6, 2021,” Shipley wrote July 5.

'There is no evidence he engaged in any such conduct on January 6, 2021.'

Shipley said the motion was filed "on the grounds that the failure to offer testimony about 'evidence impairment' is now exculpatory if the government suddenly has some magic evidence or theory to try and salvage these convictions."

Prosecutors are asking for delays in most obstruction-related cases to more fully assess the impacts of the Fischer decision. The High Court remanded the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals “for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.”

The sentencing hearing for Thomas E. Caldwell — found guilty in the first Oath Keepers trial in November 2022 of obstruction of an official proceeding and tampering with documents or proceedings — is scheduled for Oct. 22. Caldwell was found not guilty of three other counts.

Defense attorney David Fischer said he plans to file a renewed motion for acquittal on Caldwell’s obstruction charge. Before the Supreme Court ruling in the Fischer case, prosecutors said they would ask Judge Mehta to sentence Caldwell to 14 years in prison.

"The Supreme Court dealt a major blow to the DOJ's over-zealous prosecution of Tom Caldwell and other J6ers," Fischer told Blaze News. "We will be requesting that the court reconsider its earlier denial of our motion for acquittal and find Tom not guilty. Tom Caldwell is literally the Richard Jewell of January 6."

Jewell was a security guard falsely accused of taking part in the bombing of the Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996. Despite helping clear the area around a suspicious backpack that detonated a short time later, Jewell fell under FBI suspicion and the resulting hail of negative media coverage. He was later exonerated.

John Strand, serving a 32-month prison sentence for §1512(c)(2) obstruction of Congress and four misdemeanors, has filed a second motion for release pending the appeal of his sentence.

Defense attorney Nicholas Smith said there was nothing introduced at trial showing Strand committed evidence impairment. Even if there was such evidence, Smith wrote, it would have to be charged under §1512(c)(1), which was not among Strand's counts.

In a February 2024 memorandum opinion denying Strand's release, U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper said if the Supreme Court were to toss out §1512(c)(2), "Strand’s conviction under the same statute would likely be reversed as well because there is no evidence he engaged in any such conduct on January 6, 2021."

Biden fails to prove he’s NOT an ‘incompetent boob’ at first solo press conference of 2024

Fri, 07/12/2024 - 14:30


President Joe Biden held his first solo press conference of 2024, and just like the debate and the interview that followed it — it was a disaster.

Stu Burguiere, while concerned for the country, can’t help but laugh.

“Let’s start off with the big news leading up to the nonsense, which was Joe Biden calling Volodymyr Zelenskyy ‘President Putin.’ That was how this day started out,” he says, stifling a chuckle.

While Biden is attempting to prove that he’s not an “incompetent boob,” as Stu puts it, what he did at the NATO conference in Washington, D.C. — was the opposite.

“Your situation here is ‘I need to show my competence, and that that competence won’t blow up a major international situation,’ perhaps literally, and what you do on that day — to be clear — is to do exactly what Vladimir Putin would want you to do,” Stu says.

“Like you actually go on and say he’s the president of Ukraine. What a start,” Stu laughs again.

Biden then took the stage at his press conference, where it got worse.

“At one point, he starts bragging about both the economy and the border. And that is the clearest example that this man has completely lost his mind. There’s no way a person who is coherent could possibly brag about the border of the United States of America,” Stu says.

Though Biden had caught himself after he called Zelenskyy “Putin,” he did not catch himself later when he called Vice President Kamala Harris “Vice President Trump.”

“Not a good sign,” Stu comments, “not a positive development.”

Despite the obvious being that the press conference was bad, Stu believes it actually wasn’t that bad for Biden.

“He did stay on his feet, he started to fade a little bit towards the end, some of the stuff is pretty boring. The whispering started to kick in about halfway through when he did a lot of it,” Stu says, adding, “It’s really off-putting, it’s really weird, nobody’s ever liked it, but he continues to do it.”


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Is the FDA experimenting on postpartum mothers? This doctor says YES

Fri, 07/12/2024 - 13:00


All new mothers are screened usually multiple times for postpartum depression following the birth of a child. It’s a condition that, according to studies, is the most common childbirth complication.

When it’s determined that a woman is suffering from postpartum depression, she is often prescribed selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors, which are commonly used to treat depression.

But how effective are these kinds of drugs? And are they safe?

According to Dr. Roger McFillin, clinical psychologist and co-host of the “Radically Genuine” podcast, who’s outspoken on the dangers of modern psychiatry, not only are they not necessarily effective, but they’re technically “experimental.”

The FDA is Experimenting on Postpartum Women | Guest: Dr. Roger McFillin | Ep 1031 youtu.be

“This is what your audience should know,” he tells Allie Beth Stuckey. “There are no approved SSRI/anti-depression drugs for postpartum depression … The FDA is corrupt and has approved drugs that harm people routinely throughout history, so when they don't have a drug that's approved, understand that [prescribing SSRIs for postpartum mothers] is an experimental medical intervention.”

Further, “SSRIs pass through the breastmilk,” and “they absolutely impact fetal development,” contributing to “neurodevelopmental problems, cognitive disorders, autism,” says Dr. McFillin, adding that “the published research on that is clear.”

Babies of mothers who take SSRIs while pregnant “are born dependent and in withdrawal on SSRIs — it's published literature,” he explains.

“I would never, for a family member, for a friend, for a client, under any circumstances — any circumstances at all” recommend “a psychiatric drug while pregnant because it's going to impact the baby,” he says.

As for postpartum depression, Dr. McFillin says “it’s a cultural problem,” but the “significant hormonal change” following birth can be treated “nutritionally, with sleep, [and] with family being around.”

According to him, what we modernly understand as postpartum depression is actually “created in [the] consciousness” and is driven by our “fear-based culture” that attempts to convince new mothers that if they’re struggling, they’re going to harm their baby. This fear then steers them toward the medical system, where they unknowingly agree to “experimental mind- and mood-altering drugs that haven’t been researched longterm.”

To learn more, watch the episode above.

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'I'm poor': Ghana-born UFC fighter says he'd 'cut off' his leg if it meant he could pursue a better life in the United States

Fri, 07/12/2024 - 12:25


Ghanaian UFC fighter Abdul Razak Alhassan defended fellow African fighters who have been criticized for moving off the continent to become successful. The fighter compared his desire to be successful to be willing to cut off a limb for the opportunity to go to America.

Alhassan was participating in a press conference prior to a UFC event when he was asked by a reporter how he felt about the debate of who the real "African champion" is.

The journalist was referring to current UFC middleweight champion South African fighter Dricus du Plessis. Du Plessis said in 2023 that he was the "real first African champ" because he was the first champion to be "trained, born, [and] bred in Africa."

This would of course dismiss other UFC champions who were born in Africa, including Kamaru Usman (Nigeria), Israel Adesanya (Nigeria), and Francis Ngannou (Cameroon). Du Plessis felt that because those fighters moved to different countries to live and to train, they weren't staying true to their African roots by staying on the continent.

'If he was a true African, he'd have understood that.'

Alhassan said that while he respects du Plessis and how he has promoted Africa, he is very upset about the way he has spoken about the other fighters.

"I respect the things he's done in MMA, but he’s a f***ing bitch," he said at the UFC Denver media day.

"He's a f***ing a**hole for that word that he used. If he's a f***ing real African and he lived in Africa, he would have never used that f***ing word. He’s a f***ing bitch a** to use that word, because if he was raised with the poor people in Africa, [he would know better]."

Alhassan detailed his struggles with poverty to reporters, saying that he has gone days without eating.

"I have to see my friends eating and I be like 'hey bro, can you give me one teaspoon of your food so I can put [it in] my mouth?' That's how I'll survive for a few days until I can get money," he explained.

The middleweight went on to express extreme gratitude toward countries like the United States and said that if he, like others, got the opportunity to work and train in a better country, he would jump at the chance.

"So if we get the opportunity to leave that s***hole — I'm not trying to call my country a s***hole, but I'm poor — If I can go to America or I can go to a different country to make a better life for myself, I'll f***ing cut off my leg to f***ing go. If he was a true African, he'd have understood that. That means that he was living the comfortable life. His family had money to feed him every day, so he didn't have to worry about leaving to go and make it."

Du Plessis has had several public feuds with fellow African and former champion Adesanya, continuing to claim that he and his training partner are the real Africans.

"We breathe African air. We wake up in Africa every day. We train in Africa, we're African-born, we're African-raised. We still reside in Africa, and we train out of Africa. That's an African champion, and that’s who I'll be."

Alhassan fights on the UFC Denver card on July 13, 2024.

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'Nearly all' AT&T customers' data stolen in huge breach

Fri, 07/12/2024 - 12:10


AT&T issued a Friday press release that stated "nearly all" of its customers' call and text records were stolen in a massive data breach.

According to the telecommunication company, the sensitive information was "illegally downloaded from our workspace on a third-party cloud platform." It noted that it has launched an investigation into the incident, partnering with "leading cybersecurity experts to understand the nature and scope of the criminal activity."

'Incredibly sensitive pieces of personal information.'

AT&T said that it believes at least one individual involved in the breach has already been apprehended by law enforcement, but it continues to work with authorities to arrest all of those responsible and "close off the illegal access point."

The company's investigation has so far determined that the hackers swiped the call and text records of "nearly all of AT&T's cellular customers, customers of mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) using AT&T's wireless network, as well as AT&T's landline customers who interacted with those cellular numbers between May 1, 2022 - October 31, 2022."

"The compromised data also includes records from January 2, 2023, for a very small number of customers. The records identify the telephone numbers an AT&T or MVNO cellular number interacted with during these periods. For a subset of records, one or more cell site identification number(s) associated with the interactions are also included," AT&T shared in its press release.

The company noted that the stolen data does not include the content of its customers' calls or texts. Hackers also did not obtain any personally identifiable information, including Social Security numbers or dates of birth. Additionally, the data breach did not include usage details, such as call and text time stamps, it noted.

"While the data does not include customer names, there are often ways, using publicly available online tools, to find the name associated with a specific telephone number," AT&T added. "At this time, we do not believe that the data is publicly available."

According to a May Securities and Exchange Commission filing, the telecommunications company learned about the data breach on April 19, 2024, stating that a "threat actor claimed to have unlawfully accessed and copied AT&T call logs."

The SEC filing stated that the Department of Justice previously advised AT&T to "delay" informing the public about the discovery, pursuant to Item 1.05(c) of Form 8-K.

NBC News reported that the DOJ and the FBI are working with AT&T to investigate the incident. The Federal Communications Commission launched its own investigation.

Thomas Rid, a professor of strategic studies and the director of the Alperovitch Institute for Cybersecurity Studies at Johns Hopkins University, told the news outlet, "If you have somebody's metadata, you know when they go to work, where they go to work, where they sleep every night."

In a statement to NBC News, John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab, said, "These are incredibly sensitive pieces of personal information and, when taken together at the scale of information that appears to be included in this AT&T breach, they presetent a massive NSA-like window into Americans' activity."

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Abraham Lincoln targeted for theatrical character assassination; filmmaker suggests he was a philandering homosexual

Fri, 07/12/2024 - 11:55


Activists' so-called "Pride Month" is over, but their campaign to queer America is clearly a perennial undertaking. While American youth are a popular target, long-dead American greats are apparently also fair game.

Shaun Peterson, a self-described "director/preditor" from California who has previously worked on multiple Disney projects, is set to debut a so-called documentary film in September that accuses Abraham Lincoln of having extramarital affairs with men.

"As told by preeminent Lincoln scholars, historical recreations and never before seen photographs and letters, the film details Lincoln's romantic relationships with men," says the website for the film. "Lover of Men widens its lens into the history of human sexual fluidity and focuses on the profound differences between sexual mores of the nineteenth century and those we hold today."

The filmmakers made sure there was no mistaking the agitprop nature of the film, stating, "Lover of Men is not only an exploration of gender roles and sexual identity, but also serves as an examination of American intolerance."

According to the trailer for the film, sexuality "through the mid-19th century was far more fluid, but for someone who wanted a political career, it was mandatory that you have a wife."

"If you can accept a queer Lincoln, you can accept queer people overall," says the trailer. "He should inspire us to achieve a true democracy for everyone."

Whereas the new Broadway show "Oh, Mary!" similarly accuses Lincoln of being gay, the LGBT publication Queerty indicated its transvestic playwright Cole Escola readily admits that his play is utterly baseless. The trailer for Peterson's film, on the other hand, adopts a pretense of seriousness about its projection of faddish contemporary notions about sex onto a revered 19th-century statesman.

'I've seen those letters, and they have no homoerotic overtones.'

Lincoln married Mary Anne Todd, a Kentucky woman, on Nov. 4, 1842. Together, they had four children, only one of whom — Robert Todd Lincoln — lived past the age of 18.

While there have been various efforts over the years to paint the American father and husband who issued the Emancipation Proclamation as gay or a "bisexual" — especially by the late gay activist Larry Kramer, who made no secret of his political aim to the New York Times — these appear to have consisted largely of projections, inventions, speculations, and misinterpretations.

One reason people have concluded Lincoln was gay was that he shared a bed with a man on more than one occasion. It's clear from the trailer for Peterson's film that it similarly will lean into the suggestion embraced by other revisionists that Lincoln had a romantic relationship with Joshua Speed, a man whose marriage to Fanny Henning lasted 40 years.

Michael Burlingame, the Naomi B. Lynn distinguished chair in Lincoln Studies at the University of Illinois Springfield, told the Hartford Courant in 2021 that the supposedly controversial aspects of Lincoln's relationship with Speed seized upon by the likes of Larry Kramer would "be a footnote" in his multi-volume biography of the Republican president.

"The evidence I've seen seems insignificant to justify its inclusion," said the Lincoln expert. "I've seen those letters, and they have no homoerotic overtones."

Burlingame suggested, instead, that he had found evidence that Lincoln was infatuated with women besides Todd prior to their marriage.

Charles Strozier, a psychoanalyst and history professor who addressed the false narrative in his 2016 book "Your Friends Forever, A. Lincoln: The Enduring Friendship of Abraham Lincoln and Joshua Speed," told the Daily Beast that it was very common for men to share a bed in Lincoln's time.

"Inns at the time were really just homes where they finished the loft. They weren't hotels like we have now. They were just hostels, where you have the men over here and the women over there," said Strozier.

According to the Daily Mail, Lincoln originally shared a bed with Speed because when he moved to Springfield, Illinois, in 1837, he didn't have enough money to acquire his own bed and bedding.

The Mail noted further that Lincoln would also sleep in the same bed as other lawyers — a common practice for the traveling "circuits" of his time, where up to 20 would share one room.

Doris Kearns Goodwin was another award-winning historian who reportedly poked holes in the gay Lincoln narrative in her biography on the Republican, noting, "Their intimacy is more an index to an era when close male friendships, accompanied by open expressions of affection and passion, were familiar and socially acceptable."

"Nor can sharing a bed be considered evidence of an erotic involvement. It was common practice in an era when private quarters were a rare luxury," continued Goodwin. "The attorneys of the Eighth Circuit in Illinois where Lincoln would travel regularly shared beds."

The late Harvard professor David Herbert Donald, long regarded to be the definitive biographer of Lincoln, also disputed the suggestion — by C.A. Tripp, a gay researcher for Alfred C. Kinsey — that the 16th president was gay. The New York Times indicated that no one at the time had ever suggested Lincoln and Speed were sexual partners — not even his enemies in the yellow press. Donald, like Strozier, emphasized that in frontier times, space was tight and men shared beds. It was not out preference but necessity.

In response to a similar effort — again by Kramer — to paint Alexander Hamilton as non-straight, Hamilton biographer Ron Chernow warned against "ransacking history in service of a political agenda."

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Blaze News investigates: The rise of 'soulless' music — how close is AI to replacing musicians?

Fri, 07/12/2024 - 11:30


Musicians are increasingly being emulated by artificial intelligence that is nearly indiscernible to the average ear.

It’s already been more than a year since a ghostwriter created a song that used the voices of top-selling artists Drake and The Weeknd.

This technology is being used far and wide, and if it weren’t for the fact that most who are using the technology are using recognizable songs from the Backstreet Boys or Britney Spears, for example, the emulation of popular artists could be even more prevalent.

A simple YouTube search of AI versions of deceased artists brings up a lengthy catalogue to choose from, each singing popular songs that escape copyright infringement. Meaning, they are not detected by the algorithms of Google, Instagram, or others.

Typically, the algorithm matches existing content on the platform and allows the content owner to apply for a copyright claim against the infringer. But when a user emulates an existing song with a different voice, he is getting the best of both worlds: the popular song and a different popular artist singing it who people haven’t heard before.

“Major labels have teams of people who work on this. They also have lawyers on retainer who have a quota and are ready to sue,” said Steven Lee Rachel, A&R manager from Baste Records.

“Of course, for the average independent artist, this solution is mostly out of reach ... [this] AI thing is new and very messy,” he told Blaze News.

New AI users can circumvent this completely, although without the added push of an existing artist. Enter: Suno.

Suno is a new app making waves for its ability to create full-length songs in a desired style and pace, with as specific subject matter as the user wants. The creator can inject lyrics or leave it up to the system to create its own from simple prompts, while also pulling references from the internet to fill in the blanks.

'AI has the potential to replace artists altogether.'

In fact, it took just seconds for Suno to come up with a song for this article using the following prompt: “A pop, boy-band song with multiple voices about artificial intelligence replacing musicians' jobs and causing the artists to go broke and become journalists.”

Your browser does not support the video tag.

"I think it should be illegal,” rapper Bryson Gray said of AI music. “Replicating someone’s voice and passing it off as them likely already is, but it needs to be rejected in almost all its forms,” Gray added, leaving room for parodies of public figures like the president.

Suno and fellow AI company Udio are being sued by labels like Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and Warner Music Group, according to the Los Angeles Times. The groups allege that the platforms took material from copyright-protected songs.

Suno chief executive Mikey Shulman reportedly said that the company’s mission was simply “to make it possible for everyone to make music,” not to “memorize and regurgitate pre-existing content.”

“That is why we don’t allow user prompts that reference specific artists,” he said.

Udio reportedly said it stands by its technology, adding that “generative AI will become a mainstay of modern society.”

Likeness sells

Would artists sell their likeness for music to be made in their voice? Gray said he couldn’t see a true artist doing that, as he never would. But, in place of a lack of writing skills, some might, he added.

Baste Records’ Rachel said this was already happening and “has been in the works for a long time.”

“Remember the Tupac hologram?” he asked. “When KISS retired they sold off their image and likeness to the labels. This is happening for sure.”

“It will depend on the audience in terms of accepting it. For now, there is a bit of an anti-AI movement. When Paul McCartney used AI to finish the last Beatles song, I think people were a little weirded out. Eventually people will probably be more accepting of different uses of AI for legacy acts,” Rachel predicted.

While there is mainstream acceptance of AI in music to date, it is certainly at the forefront of other forms of modern media.

Legendary broadcaster Al Michaels is perhaps the first big name to publicly sell off his likeness to networks to be used in an AI format. The 79-year-old has sold the rights to his voice to NBC for use during coverage of the Olympics.

Michaels was “very skeptical” of the idea, according to Vanity Fair, before eventually accepting it.

“What would I sound like? ... Would I sound like a guy who just spews clichés? Would my voice be different?” he reportedly asked.

Once he heard it, however, the announcer is said to have changed his mind.

“Frankly, it was astonishing. It was amazing ... and it was a little bit frightening.”

The sports commentator said that the likeness was only about 2% off of being perfect.

Representatives from IBM alluded to this technology when previously speaking to Blaze News.

'The stuff I'm seeing now is creepy and soulless, and you can feel it.'

Referring to the company’s technology known as IBM watsonx, the reps said that the company is using AI similarly for both Wimbledon and the Masters.

Fans can have AI detail up-to-date action from the events and even have it read to them as if it were play-by-play announcing. Right now, voice actors are said to be lending their voices to the technology, something that would obviously change with time and depend on the popularity of the outcomes.

Similarly, AI tech has been publicly used for translating popular videos and podcasts.

YouTube’s top content creator, Mr. Beast, spoke on the topic in mid-2023 saying that he was using YouTube’s new audio dubbing technology to translate his videos into 11 different languages. This has the obvious benefit of massively expanding reach.

The key, which Yahoo reported, is that the translation is in the same voice, with the same inflections and emotions.

A few months later, Spotify would announce similar technology to translate its podcasts. The platform said its technology was developed in-house but with OpenAI’s voice-generation technology.

This technology is essentially made possible by feeding in the likely thousands of hours of speech that podcasters, YouTubers, and artists have into a program. The more data the program has, the easier it is to replicate the voice.

This is why so many at-home audio engineers have found such success in making media that sounds just like the intended artist. The AI programs are getting faster and better, too.

Microsoft’s VALL-E claims it can replicate a voice with just three seconds of audio.

The replacements

Artists that spoke to Blaze News about the potential of AI musicians and AI-generated music intersected at a few similar points; perhaps most prevalent was the idea of the humanity behind the music.

Folk rocker Five Times August, real name Brad Skistimas, called AI a slippery slope that “might be beneficial” in rare cases.

“The stuff I'm seeing now is creepy and soulless, and you can feel it. Obviously, AI technology will get better, but I like to think ultimately people will find their way to real artists with unique talents and voices once they realize there's nothing to humanly connect with,” he added.

“AI has the potential to replace artists altogether,” country artist Chad Prather warned. “The blood, sweat, tears, sacrifice, and grind can be eliminated.”

“You don’t need to sound good or look good to be marketable, and it has the potential to destroy the live music business. The most dangerous aspect is that legacy will be lost.”

To Prather’s point, this has and is being attempted.

AI rapper FN Meka was a disaster for Capitol Records when it allegedly went too far in 2022.

The so-called artist caused outrage when it consistently used the N-word and was called an amalgamation of stereotypes of black artists.

It’s been almost a year since Warner Music signed its own AI artist called Noonoouri. The pretend artist had deals with Dior, Versace, and Kim Kardashian’s brands.

While Noonoouri is still releasing music, the problem still exists that without that humanity behind them, AI artists still truly can’t exist; but advocates might claim that is reason enough to move forward.

FN Meka had a human voice perform the vocals, while Noonoouri was created in 2011 by Germans who used a real woman’s voice — altered by AI — to create the vocals. While it still has a following, it clearly hasn’t become as influential as the label had hoped.

“I think we'll definitely see major labels trying to leverage legacy artists who aren't here anymore, like Elvis or Michael Jackson, in an effort to create ‘new’ music,” Skistimas continued.

Hip-hop artist and attorney Patriot J said that he does see a future where "popular artists will sell their likeness" for AI songs. "All it takes is one major music artist to be the first domino to fall," he noted.

"Me personally, I wouldn't let my voice by used in that way, but just like GMOs are now labeled in stores, I'd hope AI-likeness music would be labeled on streaming platforms."

Baste Records’ Rachel added that “the new technology will bring new precedents" for the music industry.

“The Suno and Udio lawsuit will settle a lot of things. Everyone knew they were the best AI music generation tools, everyone knew they were infringing on copyrighted material, and everyone knew they were going to get sued. So now they are getting sued. Let's see what happens,” Rachel noted.

As is stands, the more likely scenario looking ahead is the continued authorized (and unauthorized) uses of existing artists. That is, until AI-generated programs get good enough at song writing, while simultaneously producing believable voices.

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'False charge': WH press association president denies the group submits questions to Biden in advance

Fri, 07/12/2024 - 11:30


NBC News White House reporter Kelly O'Donnell, who is the president of the White House Correspondents' Association, denied reporters submit questions to the Biden White House before participating in a press conference.

The accusation reached a fever pitch during President Biden's high-stakes solo press conference at the conclusion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization conference in Washington, D.C., due to Biden clearly consulting a list of reporters to call on during his conference.

"For the first time this year, our [White House] press corps was able to question the president in a solo news conference. Our colleagues asked a range of questions on the president’s candidacy, his party and opponent, his ability to lead for another term in a complex and dangerous world. Pres. Biden presented his message and addressed critics. These exchanges serve the American people well with much at stake," O'Donnell posted on X.

'No one in the White House press corps seemed interested in telling the public what the card was.'

She then followed it up with the denial of submitting questions ahead of time, saying it was a "false charge," and reporters did "not know who would be selected in advance."

The accusation arose after a Getty photographer snapped a photo of Biden holding a card detailing the name, picture, and outlet he was supposed to call on during a press conference in April of last year. The card also had what appeared to be a question about Biden's policy regarding semiconductor manufacturing.

The card is titled as "Question #1."

The Los Angeles Times' Courtney Subramanian was called on first by Biden. Her question was very similar to what was written on the card.

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images

Despite the clearly questionable note card and its ramifications, no one in the White House press corps seemed interested in telling the public what the card was or how the process truly works. This comes as White House staff members have leaked to reporters in recent days about how highly controlled Biden's meetings with donors and Cabinet members are, which include submitting questions and topics they will be discussing in advance.

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Karine Jean-Pierre throws TEMPER TANTRUM over questions about Biden's health

Fri, 07/12/2024 - 11:30


The White House press corps is not happy with Karine Jean-Pierre — as she just can’t seem to stop repeating lies from the White House regarding the president’s health.

“I never answered the question incorrectly,” Jean-Pierre responded to a frustrated member of the press. “That is not true. I was asked about a medical exam, I was asked about a physical, that was in the line of questions that I answered.”

“And I said ‘No, he did not have a medical exam,’ and I still stand by that. Matter of fact, the president still stands by that. He had a verbal check-in, that is something that the president has a couple times a week,” Jean-Pierre continued.

When another reporter asked the name of the doctor with whom President Biden has weekly check-ins, Jean-Pierre got angrier.

“I am telling you right now that I am not sharing, confirming names from here. It is a security reason. I am not going to do that Ed, it doesn’t matter how hard you push me, it doesn’t matter how angry you get with me. I’m not going to confirm a name,” she said.

Pat Gray is confused as to why it’s a “security reason.”

“If she mentions the guy's name, if it’s Dr. Cannard, does that mean people are going to try to kill him? Is that what the security issue is? Are you endangering his life by saying, ‘Yeah, he treated the president?’ This is BS. Come on,” Gray says.

Jean-Pierre then went on to claim that it was for the doctor’s “privacy.”

“It is inappropriate, it is not acceptable,” she added.

“He’s the president’s doctor,” Gray laughs. “That just ruins your career.”

In another press briefing, Jean-Pierre appeared to be on the brink of tears.

“We literally do everything that we can, my team does, that we can, to make sure that we get the answers to you,” she said. “And sometimes we disagree, sometimes we are not in agreement. But you know what, that’s democracy.”

“And so to say that I’m holding information, or allude to anything else, is unfair, is really, really unfair,” she continued. “And I will admit, I will be the first one to admit, sometimes I get it wrong. At least I admit that.”

Then it got worse, as Jean-Pierre told reporters sometimes she doesn’t “have the information,” but again, at least she admits it.

When she was asked whether or not Biden would submit to a cognitive test, Jean-Pierre said more of absolutely nothing.

“Everything that he does day in and day out, as it relates to delivering for the American people, is a cognitive test.”


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Rep. Jordan probes UN for helping ‘fast-track’ illegal aliens into US through Biden’s ‘unlawful’ pathways

Fri, 07/12/2024 - 11:15


House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) sent letters to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organization for Migration demanding more information about how the U.N. is helping the Biden administration “fast-track” illegal aliens into the United States through the administration’s “unlawful” pathways, the Daily Caller News Foundation reported.

The letters, obtained by the DCNF, stated that the House Judiciary Committee is continuing to oversee the Biden administration’s enforcement of immigration laws.

'Works to ensure more aliens arrive in the United States.'

“Despite an unprecedented border crisis and the Biden Administration’s release of millions of illegal aliens into the United States, the Administration continues to create additional unlawful avenues to fast-track even more arrivals into the country,” both letters read.

Jordan requested that the U.N. provide additional information about its partnership with the Biden administration, specifically regarding the U.S. State Department’s Safe Mobility Offices initiative. He noted that the UNHCR has claimed the program would “avoid the risks associated with onward movement.”

“In other words, this new program fast-tracks aliens into the United States out of sight of the American people and without public transparency of the chaos at the border. Far from simply expanding the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, Safe Mobility Offices give aliens outside the United States ‘several options’ to resettle in the United States, including through ‘family reunification, labor pathways,’ and expansion of the Biden Administration’s illegal abuses of humanitarian parole,” Jordan wrote.

He noted that the Biden administration’s initiative “reached 170,000 individuals” by the middle of April.

According to the State Department’s website, the Safe Mobility Initiative “is one of the many ways” the Biden administration is providing “access to safe and lawful pathways from partner countries in the region at no cost, so refugees and vulnerable migrants don’t have to undertake dangerous journeys in search of safety and better opportunities.”

“As part of its partnership with the U.S., UNHCR is ‘responsible for outreach in Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Ecuador to adequately reach individuals who might be interested and eligible in registering’ for the program through the initiative’s website,” Jordan wrote. “As UNHCR works to ensure more aliens arrive in the United States, American taxpayers continue to fund the organization’s work.”

The IOM also “regularly promotes” the program and “shares information with aliens on how they can travel to the United States,” Jordan said.

Since 2021, American taxpayers have shelled out over $6.3 billion to the UNHCR, the letters stated.

Jordan requested documents and information from the U.N., including the UNHCR’s and the IOM’s communications with the Biden administration regarding the Safe Mobility Offices and the amount of funding the agencies have dedicated to the initiative.

Neither the UNHCR nor the IOM responded to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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Newsom rescinds offer to address Oakland crime surge after radical Soros DA rejects aid despite looming recall

Fri, 07/12/2024 - 10:46


George Soros-backed Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price (D), who is facing an upcoming recall election over her soft-on-crime policies, refused to onboard Democrat California Governor Gavin Newsom's attorneys, according to a letter obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Earlier this year, Newsom's office announced that it would attempt to help Oakland address its rampant crime crisis by deploying additional law enforcement officers and sending more attorneys to prosecute violent offenses, Blaze News previously reported. The governor's office claimed the "new partnership" would "increase the capacity to prosecute suspects involved in violent crimes, serious drug-related crimes, and property crimes — including retail theft and auto burglary — in Oakland and the East Bay," according to a press release.

'We have decided to shift these resources.'

"The partnership will result in the deployment of deputy attorneys general from the California Department of Justice and attorneys from the California National Guard — adding capacity to prosecute suspects arrested for serious and complex crimes in Alameda County," it read.

Newsom called on criminals to be "held accountable" by "using the full and appropriate weight of the law."

At the time of the announcement, Price appeared to welcome Newsom's offer, stating that she assigned "Alameda County career prosecutor Assistant DA Michael Nieto to represent my office in this collaborative effort."

According to the recent letter obtained by DCNF, Newsom's office still plans to support the Oakland area by providing additional law enforcement resources, but it rescinded its offer to send additional attorneys.

Newsom's Cabinet secretary, Ann Patterson, claimed Price failed to onboard the attorneys.

"After several months of communications, however, including fulfilling requests from your office for resumes and interviews, you have not taken the initial steps of finalizing the memorandum of understanding or deputizing Cal Guard attorneys to work in your office," Patterson wrote. "Accordingly, we have decided to shift these resources."

A December crime report revealed that Oakland crime is on the rise, with motor vehicle theft up 44%, robbery up 38%, burglary up 23%, violent crime up 21%, and overall crime up 17%.

Oakland residents are putting their feet down on progressive policies that have led to a crime and homelessness crisis. Both Price and Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao (D) will face a recall vote later this year after residents gathered enough signatures to force an election, Blaze News previously reported. Thao is currently entangled in an ongoing FBI investigation.

Loren Taylor, a Democratic mayoral candidate seeking to replace Thao, recently told the San Francisco Chronicle, "To say that this is the worst compilation of troubling, challenging situations that I've seen is an understatement."

"A fiscal crisis, hundreds of millions of dollars, compounded with a public safety crisis that has folks fearful of moving around the city and businesses leaving town, combined with [a] homelessness crisis that continues to expand despite things getting better in neighboring cities. … This storm of events is the opposite of what Oakland needs right now when we're trying to rebound as a city, post-pandemic," Taylor said.

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'I’m not tipping the robot': MLB announces AI-robot bartenders for All-Star Week, and fans are not happy

Fri, 07/12/2024 - 10:19


The MLB announced that robotic bartenders were going to be serving drinks during All-Star Week as part of a new initiative with multiple robotics companies.

Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, is the host for the 2024 MLB All-Star games, and fans are getting a literal taste of what the league's new technology has to offer ahead of the game.

The first system is called ADAM, an artificial intelligence-driven service robot developed by Nevada company Richtech Robotics Inc. It can reportedly make drinks, clean up after itself, greet customers, and carry on simple conversations.

"Adam was our CEO's [Wayne Huang’s] vision. He wanted something new to the market for food and beverage," said engineer Jakub Campbell. "It's not just a robot. [Richtech Robotics] wanted it to have a personality and they can talk to you, it waves at you, gives you small talk, stuff like that," he added, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

'If you're going to the All-Star Game, a mammal may not make your drink.'

The MLB posted a video of the robot to its X account, showcasing the machine making drinks with a Texas Rangers jersey and hat draped over it. Fan reactions to the AI bartender were less than pleasant:

"I'm not tipping the robot," said an L.A. Dodgers fan.

"Robots taking human jobs? In this economy?" another fan chimed in.

"Can we just get a beer?" the official Budweiser account replied.

Many other replies complained about the arrival of a dystopian future and the prospect that the robot is too slow or could break down, causing further delays.

However, as Dallas reporter Alan Scaia pointed out, this wasn't the only robot drink-maker available to fans in the 100 level of the stadium.

"If you're going to the All-Star Game, a mammal may not make your drink. They've got 2 different robot bartenders, ADAM and Rotender. Rotender's founder says soda & liquor are measured to milliliter. 'Very precise. You always know what you're getting,'" Scaia wrote on X.

Rotender is an automated cocktail machine out of Los Angeles, with the company claiming it can make a drink in 30 seconds. The robot's backstory is alleged to be based off a study that said fans spend an average of 30 minutes waiting for drinks.

"We said, hey, let's make a machine where you can get simple stuff. It's not going to be a mixologist, it's not going to take several minutes to make. All you have is a big screen, big buttons, you tap what you want, you tap your card to pay and you're good to go. You're finally free to enjoy the experience that you came to see," said founder Ben Winston.

Rotender is a lot closer to a vending machine than its counterpart ADAM and is likely to be more accepted by the majority of fans because of that. A picture of the "self-serve satellite bar" showed a machine with two screens and a transparent section in between. Customers can see upside-down liquor bottles on a rotating belt that initializes their selection before pouring the desired drink.

The 2024 MLB All-Star Game is on July 16, 2024.

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Trump CHALLENGES Biden to a $1M golf match and a no-moderator debate

Fri, 07/12/2024 - 10:00


If there’s one thing certain about former President Donald Trump, it’s that he knows how to electrify a crowd — especially a big one.

His latest rally in Miami was no exception, where Trump challenged President Joe Biden to some high-stakes events before a crowd of 45,000.

“So, tonight, I’m officially offering Joe the chance to redeem himself in front of the entire world,” Trump boomed into the microphone. “Let’s do another debate this week so that Sleepy Joe Biden can prove to everyone all over the world that he has what it takes to be president.”

However, Trump’s offer to debate is a little different from the last one hosted by CNN.

“This time it will be man to man, no moderators, no holds barred. Just name the place. Any time, anywhere,” he said.

“And in the debate, sleepy Joe declared that he wanted to test his skills and stamina against mine on the golf course. Can you believe this? Can you believe this? Did you ever see him swing? He’s like this,” Trump continued before taking a moment to act out a golf swing that can only be described as lethargic.

“I’m officially challenging Crooked Joe to an 18-hole golf match right here,” Trump said to thunderous applause. “At Doral’s Blue Monster, considered one of the greatest tournament golf courses anywhere in the world.”

He went on to say it would be “among the most watched sporting events in history,” before adding, “maybe bigger than the Ryder Cup or even the Masters.”

“I will give Joe Biden 10 strokes a side. 10 strokes. That’s a lot. That means 20 strokes in case you don’t play golf. I will give him 10 strokes a side, and if he wins, I will give the charity of his choice, any charity that he wants, one million dollars,” he offered.

Pat Gray, Keith Malinak, and Jeffy of “Pat Gray Unleashed” are thrilled to say the least.

“I would watch every second of that,” Malinak says, before Gray wonders aloud whether anyone will ask Karine Jean-Pierre if Biden intends to take Trump up on his offer.

“If he’s called on any time this week, I guarantee you he’ll ask that question,” Malinak says, referencing Peter Doocy.

“Imagine how big that would be! Every American. It’d be 330 million viewers for that thing,” Gray adds.


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Pennsylvania governor's Cabinet official accused of dodging audit of program funded by taxpayers

Fri, 07/12/2024 - 09:45


A member of Pennsylvania Democrat Gov. Josh Shapiro's cabinet is currently under subpoena after his department allegedly dodged records requests regarding a taxpayer-funded neighborhood initiative.

For more than a decade, the good people of Pennsylvania have been paying to fund the Allentown Neighborhood Improvement Zone, a program designed to revitalize the city after much of its industry began to collapse in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Since 2011, about $500 million have been allocated to the Allentown NIZ, and now state officials want more information about how that money has been spent.

'It’s hard to determine the value of a program when its financial records remain largely hidden and secretive.'

First-term Republican state Sen. Jarrett Coleman began exploring the issue in March 2023, when he made two official requests to the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue for financial records related to the Allentown NIZ. However, Revenue Secretary Pat Browne reportedly denied those requests.

By May 2023, Coleman had sought further assistance in the matter from the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee. He then drew up Senate Resolution 110, asking the LBFC to conduct "a performance audit" of the Allentown NIZ. In December, the LBFC agreed to do so.

According to reports, the LBFC has made at least four official attempts this year — on April 15, May 9, June 5, and June 6 — to gain access to the tax records associated with the Allentown NIZ, but the Revenue Department has seemingly thwarted each of those efforts.

As a result of the department's apparent stonewalling, the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee, chaired by Coleman, voted on Wednesday to subpoena Secretary Browne.

"The sources of the Allentown NIZ’s revenues, the way it uses the money and the effectiveness of the program seem to be shrouded in mystery," Coleman said in a statement. "It’s hard to determine the value of a program when its financial records remain largely hidden and secretive."

This is not the first time Sen. Coleman and Sec. Browne have been at odds. Browne sat in the state Senate seat currently occupied by Coleman for nearly 20 years until Coleman defeated him in the 2022 GOP primary. After the loss, Browne, a longtime Pennsylvania Republican, was appointed to serve in the Cabinet of Democrat Gov. Shapiro.

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Rand Paul's finest moment

Fri, 07/12/2024 - 09:30


Yesterday morning, ranking member Rand Paul (R-Ky.) filed into a small committee room with his staff for a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security committee.

The hearing was not a grand affair. There was no Anthony Fauci to draw the attention of the press, so media attention was sparse. This low-profile and mostly ignored hearing was not the sort of capstone that most politicians who have successfully clawed their way into the halls of the United States Senate dream about.

But as the small assembled group of witnesses and staffers settled into their seats, Paul was in reality enjoying a victory of the rarest kind in Washington, D.C.: a victory that actually matters.

The victory was that the hearing, which was titled "Risky Research: Oversight of U.S. Taxpayer Funded High-Risk Virus Research," was occurring at all. And as Democratic committee Chair Sen. Gary Peters (Mich.) gave his opening remarks — remarks that reflected, in their sincerity, just how far Paul has pushed the national discussion on this issue — Paul waited quietly for his turn to speak.

And then there's Rand Paul. In ordinary life, his haphazard mop of curls would probably not draw a second glance. But in the United States Senate, it's the equivalent of a two-foot-tall pink mohawk.

As Peters wound down his remarks and turned to introduce Paul, the junior senator from Kentucky practically leaped forward to take the floor from Peters, because he had important things to say. And before Peters had even fully finished talking, Paul opened his mouth to speak.

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The first thing that always comes to mind when I think about Rand Paul is his hair.

I know what you are thinking: Where does a guy with no working follicles north of his ears get off talking about anyone's hair?

Let me explain: I am not here to criticize Rand Paul's hair. His hair is fine. Clearly better than mine, for sure.

But it is a strange fact of life that you can tell a lot about a lot of people by looking at their hair. For instance, Josh Hawley's hair is Josh Hawley. When you've seen Hawley's hair, you have a pretty good idea of what you're going to get from him as a person, and for better or worse, you won't be disappointed when he starts talking.

Same thing with Bernie Sanders. If you knew nothing about politics and came across Bernie Sanders on the street, with his crazy shock of likely uncombed white fuzz, you would think to yourself before he even opened his mouth, "I have a pretty good idea where this guy is going." And you would probably be right.

And while we are on Hawley (whose fine hairdo I am also not criticizing), we should note that Hawley has what could be fairly called the Median Male Senatorial Hairdo. With rare exceptions, the Median Male Senatorial Hairdo is the hairdo you are supposed to have in the Senate. Almost all the guys in the Senate are walking around with some version of it, albeit in varying stages of gray and afflicted with various degrees of male pattern baldness.

But here on this seemingly random Thursday was a hearing whose very existence testified to Paul's victory on an important issue — perhaps the most important issue of our times.

And then there's Rand Paul. In ordinary life, his haphazard mop of curls would probably not draw a second glance. But in the United States Senate, it's the equivalent of a two-foot-tall pink mohawk.

In an institution that has a 200-plus-year history of successfully enforcing visual conformity, Paul's hair says things about him as a senator. It says he is not afraid to stick out. To happily be the only crusader on a cause that no one else cares about. In other words, it says things about him that are pretty accurate.

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An honest appraisal of the success of most of Paul's crusades would say that he has not enjoyed a lot of what most people would call success.

Although his annual Festivus lists of grievances against wasteful government spending have become must-read political entertainment every year, federal government spending has continued to balloon out of control. It is definitely true that the GOP's foreign policy vision is now much more aligned to Paul's isolationist tastes than it was 15 years ago, but it's an open question how much Paul is responsible for that as compared to Trump. And while his 2016 presidential campaign raised his national profile, it did not have the kind of on-the-ground success that his supporters hoped for.

Through it all, Fauci has had the good media sense not to respond in kind. Instead, when attacked, he has retreated to a very effective device, an affectation of being an exasperated grandpa. He shrugs his shoulders and releases an exasperated sigh that says, 'Gosh, these crazy Republicans. Can you believe it?'

But here on this seemingly random Thursday was a hearing whose very existence testified to Paul's victory on an important issue — perhaps the most important issue of our times.

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Four years ago, even as the world was being ravaged by the opening stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, a Senate hearing chaired by a Democrat that was designed to curtail gain-of-function research would have been unthinkable. At the time, most members of the Senate — and even more, the American public — had little or no idea what gain-of-function research even was.

Paul was, without question, the earliest and most persistent voice on Capitol Hill demanding a re-examination of this country's funding of gain-of-function research after the pandemic. While other GOP senators were either going along with Fauci or politely ignoring him due to political pressures, Paul was grilling him on questions he clearly did not want to answer, on a subject the American people did not know they were supposed to care about.

Consider, if you will, how far the world has moved on this issue since Paul began beating this drum. When Paul first began to harangue Fauci at public hearings about the issue, he was dismissed or tsk-tsked by the media and ignored by Democrats. But in July 2021, his persistent and disturbingly informed questioning on this issue finally did the unthinkable: It made Anthony Fauci lose his temper.

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Say what you will about Anthony Fauci's policies, but the man is a consummate media professional. Fauci has now been hauled before various congressional hearings dozens of times and has often been subjected to harsh grilling from Republicans in particular. Most of this grilling has been fair and well informed, but some of it has not.

Through it all, Fauci has had the good media sense not to respond in kind. Instead, when attacked, he has retreated to a very effective device, an affectation of being an exasperated grandpa. He shrugs his shoulders and releases an exasperated sigh that says, "Gosh, these crazy Republicans. Can you believe it?"

It works because it's good theater but also because the majority of the media, for partisan reasons, decided early on in the pandemic not to question the pronouncements of Anthony Fauci too closely — even though the pandemic instantly turned him into perhaps the most powerful bureaucrat in history. Their own internal narrative views Fauci as the savior of the country who is standing in the breach against a bunch of anti-science lunatics, so his "What are you gonna do with these guys?" act only played up the media's natural sympathies for him.

What was notable about the interview was that one of the first softballs Colbert lobbed at Fauci was about ... gain-of-function research.

Very rarely did Fauci ever break character. But the most notable time he did, it was thanks to Rand Paul. In a July 2021 hearing, Paul's questioning over the U.S. government's funding of gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology caused Fauci to lose his cool. He angrily wagged his entire head at Paul and righteously declared, "Senator Paul, you do not know what you are talking about, frankly." After further back-and-forth, Fauci yelled, "I totally resent the lie that you are now propagating."

Although we know now, as Fauci's own successor has admitted, that Paul was right and Fauci was wrong, at the time the world press almost universally took Fauci's side in the exchange. The Washington Post, in a representative sample, quoted Fauci's words in the headline and all but stood with Fauci in declaring that Paul did not know what he was talking about.

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Fast-forward three years to 2024, and you could find Fauci sitting down for the most comfortable of interviews: a late-night session with the formerly humorous de facto DNC spokesperson Stephen Colbert. A visibly besotted Colbert opened the festivities by asking Fauci if he had considered running for president.

Clearly, Fauci had found an interviewer who was more interested in protecting his reputation than even he was.

What was notable about the interview was that one of the first softballs Colbert lobbed at Fauci was about ... gain-of-function research. And Fauci, who had spent the last two decades of his public career fighting aggressively against oversight of gain-of-function research, was forced to concede, even in this friendliest of forums, that the time has come to "put better constraints on [these] kinds of experiments."

This remarkable about-face was, to close observers, a reflection of how far the national conversation on gain-of-function research has moved in the four years since Rand Paul and his nonconformist hair decided to become a thorn in Fauci's side on the issue.

Having set the table for the stakes, Paul got right to the point: 'So what has been done since the uncovering that our government was funding dangerous virus research overseas with little or no oversight? The answer is stark and chilling: virtually nothing.'

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Another, perhaps more substantive, indication is that yesterday's hearing occurred at all and that the Democratic committee chair who opened the hearing did so by accepting the premise of Paul's four-year crusade, noting that Congress does, in fact, have a responsibility to make sure that the public is protected from the unintentional consequences of risky scientific experiments, regardless of whether you believe the COVID-19 pandemic started in a lab in Wuhan or as the result of animal spillover.

When he opened his mouth to speak, Paul spoke with the clarity of someone who has understood the truth for longer than most: that risky biological research is the most genuine existential threat we face as a species.

"Since 2020, Americans have borne the devastating costs of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lives were unnecessarily lost, civil liberties were unilaterally stripped away by government bureaucrats. Taxpayers will bear the burden of the trillions of dollars borrowed and spent by the government for decades and generations to come," Paul said.

Having set the table for the stakes, Paul got right to the point: "So what has been done since the uncovering that our government was funding dangerous virus research overseas with little or no oversight? The answer is stark and chilling: virtually nothing.

The next lab-created pandemic might involve something far worse, like H5N1, which has killed roughly half of people who have contracted it, as compared with about 1% for COVID-19.

"Some prefer this inaction, preferring the shadows of government bureaucracy and secrecy. They want Congress to remain passive and accept their reassurances without question ... but we cannot stand idly by," Paul intoned.

"How can we trust in a system that so blatantly ignores its own safeguards? How can we believe in leadership that permits such dangerous research without stringent oversight, risking global health for the sake of dubious scientific advancement? This is not merely a failure; it's a betrayal of public trust. We sit here today at a critical juncture, facing what many believe is the nuclear threat of our time: gain-of-function research. Manipulating viruses to make them more lethal poses a danger akin to that of an atomic bomb.

"In this dystopian reality we find ourselves in, it is our duty to challenge the status quo, to shine a light on the darkest corners of government operations, and to protect the lives and freedom of the people we serve. The era of complacency must end, and change must begin with us."

++++++++

Time will tell whether the bill submitted by Dr. Paul will survive the legislative process and ever become law, although the scuttlebutt is that Democrats are not prepared to oppose it in toto. Time will tell whether, if it passes, it will be sufficient to meet the challenges posed by this danger.

But the seriousness of this moment demands that we try. If anything, Paul understated the danger by comparing it to a nuclear bomb. SARS-CoV-2 is definitely not the worst virus that could have escaped from a lab, and it killed 20 million people and counting. No atomic bomb has that kind of power.

The next lab-created pandemic might involve something far worse, like H5N1, which has killed roughly half of people who have contracted it, as compared with about 1% for COVID-19. The impacts of such a pandemic, if a mutant strain of H5N1 escaped from a lab and became capable of aerosol transmission in humans, would be almost literally unimaginable. And scientists have been working on creating exactly such a virus, right here in Wisconsin, America, for years.

If we are all still alive 20 years from now, we might one day have Rand Paul to thank for it, even though we likely will not know. And if we do, this little-noticed moment in an obscure hearing room will deserve to be known as Rand Paul's finest moment and a finer moment than many of us can ever claim.

Seismic shift in Catholic clergy:  'The liberal Catholic priest could ... be extinct' as young conservative priesthood rises

Fri, 07/12/2024 - 08:48


A survey published last year in the journal Politics and Religion indicated that 53% of Catholic priests admitted to being more liberal than most of their parishioners. Where the Catholic Church in the United States is concerned, the days of the liberal priest are numbered.

There have been indications in recent years that progressivism among Catholic clerics is literally dying out — that the new generation of priests are no-nonsense conservatives, unapologetic about the traditions and moral teachings of the church, and altogether resistant to the ideological fads of the day.

The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., released an 18-page report in November indicating that in terms of theological self-identification, 85% of the youngest cohort of priests described themselves as "conservative/orthodox" or "very conservative/orthodox," with only 14% describing themselves as "middle-of-the-road."

The report, based on a census of 131 bishops and thousands of priests, indicated that this represents a seismic shift, given that "theologically 'progressive' and 'very progressive' priests once made up 68% of new ordinands. Today, that number has dwindled almost to zero."

"We are witnessing a major shift in the way priests in the United States view themselves and their priesthood. Younger priests are much more likely than their older peers to describe themselves as politically conservative or moderate," said the report. "Younger priests are also much more likely to see themselves as theologically orthodox or conservative than do older priests. These shifts can be a source of friction and tension, especially between younger and older priests."

The report concluded that "many of these trends have been decades in the making and show little sign of reversal any time soon."

The New York Times confirmed this week that the priesthood's return to orthodoxy continues unabated.

Brad Vermurlen, a sociologist who has long studied political shifts in the American priesthood, emphasized that the priests ordained since 2010 "are clearly the most conservative cohort of priests we've seen in a long time."

Vermurlen and his fellow academics have observed that these priests are, for instance, by the book when it comes to questions of the sinfulness of homosexual acts and female priests or deacons.

'They're trying to restore what us old guys ruined.'

Referencing the Catholic University of America's findings, the Times highlighted that not a single surveyed priest ordained in recent years has characterized himself as "very progressive."

Younger priests are not just theologically conservative but politically conservative. Whereas roughly half of Catholic priests ordained around the time of Vatican II identified as politically liberal, almost all priests ordained since 2020 are conservative or are at the very least "moderate."

This conservative generation is apparently not interested in sugarcoating or watering down church teaching and are instead keen to embrace challenging teachings.

Rev. Zachary Galante told the Times that numerous priests in the 1970s and 1980s "were looking at the world and saying, 'The world is changing; we need to change too.'"

Apparently neither Galante nor his peers are of the mind that the church ought to be unmoored by the zeitgeist.

Rev. David Sweeney, a 31-year-old priest who was ordained with Galante, raised the matter of the sacrament of marriage and secular hollowing-out of the institution.

"That's a core tenet of our faith that our culture has shifted drastically on in the last 12 years," Rev. Sweeney told the Times. "If we're saying that we're holding to eternal truth, something that is changeless, and the world changes, well, now I guess I've changed in my relation to the world."

Rev. Galante added, "Maybe we're more conservative now because the culture moved, not because we moved."

Earlier this year, Rev. John Forliti, a retired Minnesota priest, suggested to the Associated Press that the young conservative priests "say they're trying to restore what us old guys ruined."

The Times indicated that this restoration not only means that "the liberal Catholic priest could essentially be extinct in the United States" but that it "puts the rising generations of priests increasingly at odds with secular culture, which has broadly moved to the left on questions of gender, sexuality, reproductive issues, and roles for women."

Accordingly, there may be fewer priests like Rev. James Martin doubling as LGBT activists on cable news and more priests reinforcing church teaching on various issues of moral and spiritual consequence.

The generational diminution of heterodox leftists in the priesthood is likely the result of multiple factors, but Michael Sean Winters, a columnist for the left-leaning National Catholic Reporter, suggested to the Times that the tendency among increasingly secular liberal families to have fewer children means "there are fewer liberals in the pews with large families."

Alternatively, conservative families who have gone forth and multiplied have contributed more to the pool of potential priests and left a conservative mark on that pool.

There is reportedly also an emphasis on "normalcy" now in Catholic seminaries. Motivated by a desire to flush out potential predators, seminaries screen applicants for psychosexual maturity. It's unclear, however, whether seminaries' emphasis on normalcy and screenings against perversion have also served as checks against progressivism in the priesthood.

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‘The View’ host gets Whitmer to accidentally drop a clue about Biden’s replacement

Fri, 07/12/2024 - 08:30


As Dave Rubin of “The Rubin Report” says, “The ladies of ‘The View’ are still up to their nasty stuff.”

This time, it’s host Sunny Hostin getting Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to drop some clues about Kamala Harris — and possible plans of a replacement for Joe Biden in the 2024 election.

“Politico reported this, they reported that you told the president’s re-election campaign chairperson Jen O'Malley Dylan that Michigan was no longer winnable,” Hostin said to Whitmer. “Did you say that? Because polls show Biden is trailing Trump.”

“I didn’t say that, and it was a conversation between two people, yet the source was someone who works for someone who may or may not run for president in 2028. I mean, that’s the craziest thing to think that there’s any accuracy to that,” Whitmer responded.

“Anyone who knows me, knows that I have delivered Michigan over and over again. I won by almost 11 points in my re-elect when people were writing my political obituary,” she added.

Hostin then presses Whitmer further.

“You say Kamala is the heir apparent, would you run for her? Would you run as her vice president?” Hostin asks.

“You know, I have never looked at opportunities in Washington, D.C., with a lot of excitement, because I love Michigan. I love state government, because I know when we’re feeding 1.4 million Michigan school kids free breakfast and lunch, I can see what it means to people,” Whitmer said.

“That’s why I love state government, but, you know, I’ll never say never,” she added.


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Sean Strickland accepts challenge to complete Navy SEAL 'Hell Week' training against former SEAL David Goggins

Fri, 07/12/2024 - 08:21


UFC contender and fan favorite Sean Strickland accepted a challenge to complete Navy SEAL training against former SEAL and fitness personality David Goggins.

In March 2024, Strickland received praise as well as backlash for saying he didn't think there was one Navy SEAL "who could survive a week [of] training" with him, as opposed to the other way around.

"I'm kind of sick of seeing it 'cause, like, you guys think you're bada**," Strickland said. "Come train with me for a week, I'll show you what's up. I'll f**king break you," he added.

The middleweight followed that by beating up a former SEAL (who is also a fighter) in a brutal sparring session months later.

'The only thing you beat me at in life is f***ing running.'

Enter Goggins: a former SEAL himself who is known for withstanding extreme duress during his fitness regimen, along with being an over-the-top motivational speaker. Goggins also competes in triathlons and ultramarathons (42.195 KM).

Goggins posted a video on TikTok challenging Strickland to a very public fitness challenge.

"This is your opportunity to show the world that you can f*** me up," Goggins said in the video. "I will have camera crews out there. You make sure you bring your f***ing camera crew out there because you're going to want to get this on camera," he added, per TalkSport.

"A 49-year-old, broke-down knee, f***ed-up body guy is gonna put you through a camp that you think you can f*** me up in," the fitness guru went on.

"This is your opportunity, Strickland."

Particularly, Strickland is to complete "Hell Week," which refers to the fourth week of the United States Navy SEAL selection and training program.

According to NavySeals.com, "Hell Week" consists of running over 200 miles with 20 hours of physical training per day. Candidates also sleep for approximately four total hours over a span of five and a half days.

"Hell Week is the ultimate test of a man’s will and the class's teamwork," the site read.

Strickland posted a video on Instagram accepting the challenge and poking fun at some of Goggins' viral videos.

"Goggins, I heard you want a piece," Strickland said. "Challenge accepted."

"Just so you know, man, the only thing you beat me at in life is f***ing running. But guess what, I don't have to f***ing run," he added.

Strickland can expect some other extreme training for SEAL qualifications, according to Navy.com. Under the qualifications and requirements section, the Navy declares that SEAL candidates must be able to complete the following, in succession:

  • Swim 500 yards
  • Perform at least 50 push-ups in two minutes
  • Perform at least 50 curl-ups in two minutes
  • Perform at least 10 pull-ups in two minutes
  • Run 1.5 miles
Strickland noted on his posted that while he admits Goggins could beat him "in a jog," he was willing to accept the challenge simply to occupy his time while he's waiting for a chance to fight for the UFC middleweight championship.

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Pro-life groups slap back at 'terrorist' designation from Fort Liberty

Fri, 07/12/2024 - 07:50


A U.S. Department of Defense briefing given July 10 at Fort Liberty in North Carolina described two prominent pro-life organizations as “terrorist groups,” a characterization that brought swift rebuke from national and local pro-life leaders.

A slide from the anti-terrorism awareness briefing was posted on social media late on July 10 by DOD whistleblower Samuel Shoemate, who received it from a U.S. Army soldier who was in the training meeting at Fort Liberty, formerly known as Fort Bragg. The slide has garnered 1.5 million views on X.

“The briefing was simply a class on how to be a gate guard and what to look for when on duty,” the Army soldier told Blaze News on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution. “Gate guard duty is something all of us have to do from time to time. It was presented by a DOD civilian, not an anti-terrorism officer.”

The offending slide was titled “Terrorist Groups” and included the logos of National Right to Life and Operation Rescue. It described them as pro-life but also said they “oppose Row [sic] v. Wade” and are tied to “bombings of clinics” and “attempted murders.”

It also showed an image of a “Choose Life” license plate from New York. Choose Life license plates are available in a variety of designs in 33 states and the District of Columbia, according to Choose Life America Inc. The plates have raised more than $29 million for crisis pregnancy centers.

The pro-life slide came directly after a section on ISIS, the Islamic State jihadist terror group responsible for mass shootings and suicide bombings around the globe. ISIS was headed for nearly a decade by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who blew himself up in 2019 as U.S. forces moved in on him in Syria.

A briefing given to soldiers at Fort Liberty in North Carolina described pro-life organizations as "terrorist groups."Photo by Samuel Shoemate, used with permission

“It’s pretty unsettling that they’d try and conflate pro-life groups to the level of ISIS, but this is the kind of thing we now see all the time,” the Fort Liberty soldier told Blaze News.

“We’re regularly given briefings that include stuff like, ‘If your co-workers are expressing support for the Second Amendment, keep an eye on them. They could be a danger,’” he said.

Shoemate said he fears using terrorism designations with pro-life groups and others could increase the chances of military forces one day being used against conservative Americans.

“I am fully tinfoil-hatted on the idea that at some point our military will be turned against the American people, and I don't mind that being used as a quote,” he said. “I truly believe — at some point — we're getting to that. And the idea behind that is that we have to purge constitutionally-minded individuals from the military.”

Shoemate said he is confident the material in the slide was not the work of just one individual.

“Nobody’s trying to do anything underhanded and sneak stuff into slideshows, because they would get crushed by their command,” he said. “So there’s a very high likelihood — and I say this with great confidence — that the O-6 garrison commander, or at least a deputy, knew about this and approved the slideshow.”

'It’s not extreme to try to save children, and yet this is their rhetorical game.'

Army officials at Fort Liberty quickly distanced themselves from the presentation and its characterization of pro-lifers as terrorists.

“After conducting a commander’s inquiry, we determined that the slides presented on social media were not vetted by the appropriate approval authorities,” read a statement posted by Fort Liberty on X, “and do not reflect the views of the XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Liberty, the U.S. Army or the Department of Defense.”

The training presentation was developed by “a local garrison employee,” the statement read, and “these slides will no longer be used and all future training products will be reviewed to ensure they align with the current DoD anti-terrorism guidance.”

Shoemate said this type of ideological information is increasingly being pushed in military service academies and institutions of higher learning.

“It's an ideology. It is this idea to push through through all outlets in the American purview this idea that anything right of center — which they call, of course, extreme right-wing — is very frowned upon in the military now,” Shoemate said. “One of my favorites that we got years ago was from an older brigade commander out of Fort Benning who told a roomful of company commanders that references to the Constitution are a dog whistle for white supremacy.”

The presentation brought immediate condemnation from National Right to Life, which called it “deeply offensive” and contrasted it with the Biden administration’s support for unlimited abortion.

“In a presentation that is deeply offensive to pro-life Americans across the nation, Fort Liberty promoted outright lies about National Right to Life in a demonstration of lazy scholarship,” NRL president Carol Tobias said in a statement. “In our over 50-year history, National Right to Life has always, consistently, and unequivocally condemned violence against anyone.”

'The DOD has pegged us as domestic terrorists for a long time.'

Tobias questioned “how a license plate that raises funds for pregnancy resource centers could be construed as a symbol of terrorism.”

“Only under the Biden administration can peaceful law-abiding citizens and their peaceful activities be considered ‘terrorism,’” Tobias said. “The Biden administration promotes the deaths of preborn babies and advocates for unlimited abortion, but peaceful pro-life Americans are labeled ‘terrorists.’”

Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, said the type of language used in government training materials is meant to chill speech and discourage people from going to abortion clinics and peacefully praying for unborn babies and their mothers.

“It’s not extreme to try to save children,” Pavone said, “and yet this is their rhetorical game.”

The DOD has a history of besmirching pro-life groups, according to Dan Miller, state director of Pro-Life Wisconsin near Milwaukee.

“The DOD has pegged us as domestic terrorists for a long time,” Miller told Blaze News. “Pro-lifers in general have been listed as domestic terrorists by the Obama administration. There was a small blip with [President Donald] Trump in there, but now with [President Joe] Biden, they’re back to the same old game.”

The characterization of these groups as terrorists is the latest in a pattern of attacks on conservative and religious groups that oppose abortion and defend the lives of unborn children.

The U.S. Department of Justice has aggressively indicted and pursued sidewalk counselors and pro-life volunteers for allegedly violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.

On May 31, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly in Washington, D.C., sentenced 75-year-old Paulette Harlow of Kingston, Massachusetts, to two years in prison for allegedly conspiring to blockade a D.C. abortion clinic in October 2020. Harlow was the 10th pro-life defendant sentenced in the case.

Dan Miller (left), director of Pro-Life Wisconsin, stands outside the Affiliated Medical Services abortion clinic in Milwaukee.Photo by Dan Miller, used with permission

Miller said pro-life groups are about saving lives, not taking them, and they don’t condone or use violence.

“It’s tried-and-true civil disobedience,” he said. “Mahatma Gandhi did it. Martin Luther King did it. The pro-life movement did it up to a point, up until [President Bill] Clinton established the FACE Act to basically crush the rescue movement.”

The FACE Act makes it a federal crime to use force, the threat of force, or physical obstruction to block access to abortion centers. Blocking entrances to abortion mills has occurred, although protests are more likely to consist of volunteers praying outside the buildings or trying to counsel women walking into the clinics.

Pennsylvania pro-life advocate Mark Houck was acquitted by a federal jury in January 2023 after he was charged with a FACE Act violation for shoving a “clinic escort” who he said was verbally harassing his son outside a Planned Parenthood clinic on Oct. 13, 2021. He faced up to 11 years in prison if he had been convicted.

Shoemate, a retired Army chief warrant officer, said these materials could have impacts beyond the spread of left-wing talking points.

“What alarmed me the most is not only that they decided to throw down on the National Right to Life — which is absolutely ridiculous — but the real issue is the license plate they threw on [the slide], which is a vanity plate that many pro-life people put on their car,” Shoemate said.

“I can speculate here and say, I got a mom and she's driving on post with this [pro-life] vanity plate on the front of her car and gets pulled over and harassed because some unaware E-3 or E-4 is working the gate says, ‘I was told that this is a terrorist threat.’”

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