Stembridge News Digest

  • Mind the Chinese navy's impressive muscle-flexing Tue, 23 Apr 2019 18:32:20 GMT
    "Salute to you, comrades."
  • Joe Biden 2020 and the Rudy Giuliani precedent Tue, 23 Apr 2019 17:49:34 GMT
    As former Vice President Joe Biden prepares to formally launch his 2020 presidential campaign, the central question he faces is whether his consistent leads in all national and most early state polls will withstand the scrutiny of a long presidential campaign. If Rudy Giuliani's campaign for the 2008 Republican nomination is any precedent, it could be a long time before that question gets answered.
  • Democrats beware: Trump has his faults, but they're not impeachment-level crimes Tue, 23 Apr 2019 17:48:38 GMT
    Right now, Robert Mueller's report gives Democrats a clear political advantage over President Trump. The report lays out, in ample detail, the chaos, pettiness, self-centeredness, and borderline corruption with which Trump has imbued the Oval Office. Trump’s poll numbers, already low, have taken yet another hit since the report’s release, tying his prior presidential nadir.
  • Biden must do better than a lame video announcement Tue, 23 Apr 2019 17:34:32 GMT
    Former Vice President Joe Biden may be the only person who can beat President Trump in 2020. All six senators running for president have co-sponsored a $93 trillion Green New Deal, and five of them have endorsed the nationalization of one-fifth of the economy and abolition of the private health insurance industry with "Medicare for all." Countless candidates have backed legalizing abortion up until the point of birth, and now supposed front-runner and actual socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and totally-not-a-cop Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., have enthusiastically vowed to let terrorists like the Boston bomber vote from maximum security prison.
  • Trump is right: ‘Morning Joe’ hosts actively boosted his candidacy Tue, 23 Apr 2019 17:11:52 GMT
    The hosts of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” try harder than anyone to broadcast their opposition to the Trump administration.
  • Yes, ask a citizenship question on the census Tue, 23 Apr 2019 16:44:27 GMT
    Our nation is made great by the many immigrants who have come here and made themselves part of the American story. We will need more immigrants if the federal government is to avoid bankruptcy.
  • Why Trump's state visit to Britain is necessary, now Tue, 23 Apr 2019 16:43:26 GMT
    It is welcome news that President Trump has accepted British Prime Minister Theresa May's invitation, via Queen Elizabeth II, to host him for a state visit in early June. The spectacle and symbolism of the visit will reinforce the special relationship between the two nations.
  • In Sri Lanka, the violence didn’t start with social media and social media won’t solve it either Tue, 23 Apr 2019 16:11:12 GMT
    In the aftermath of attacks on Easter Sunday that left almost 300 dead in Sri Lanka, the government temporarily blocked social media, fearing that violence fueled by misinformation would spread. That decision has again prompted debates on social media regulation and the role of tech companies to deal with content on their platforms.
  • Will Kamala Harris own her record on truancy, or will she keep lying about it? Tue, 23 Apr 2019 14:58:06 GMT
    Now that the Democratic presidential primary is well underway, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., might want to commit to one strategy when answering for the anti-truancy policy she implemented as her state’s attorney general. Does she want to own it or lie about it?
  • How does Ukraine’s future leader compare to these other TV presidents? Tue, 23 Apr 2019 14:51:09 GMT
    Imagine if Selina Meyer actually became president.

  • Israeli PM Netanyahu pledges to name Golan town after President Trump in a gesture of gratitude Tue, 23 Apr 2019 18:35:58 +0000

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged Tuesday to name a new town in Golan Heights after President Donald Trump in a gesture of gratitude for the United States' recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the region.

    The announcement came during Netanyahu's visit, alongside his wife and sons, to the nation's northern region, the Jerusalem Post reported.

    "I'm here on the beautiful Golan Heights. All Israelis were deeply moved when President Trump made his historic decision to recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights," the prime minister said. "Therefore, after the Passover holiday, I intend to bring to the government a resolution calling for a new community on the Golan Heights named after President Donald J. Trump."

    Last month, Netanyahu traveled to the White House to meet with Trump about the decree to recognize Golan as Israeli territory.

    Trump broke from other world powers when he signed the presidential proclamation on March 25.

    Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria during the Six-Day War in June 1967. The brief but bloody conflict is also known as the June War or Third Arab-Israeli War. Israel annexed the area in 1981.

    Last week, Jason Greenblatt, the top White House Middle East peace negotiator, introduced an updated international map of Golan on Twitter.

    What else?

    In December 2017, Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, along with plans to move the embassy to Jerusalem.

    Israeli Transportation Minister Israel Katz announced that same month that it would one day name a train station near the Western Wall after Trump.


    Netanyahu shared his announcement in a YouTube video.

    PM Benjamin Netanyahu: "a new community on the Golan Heights named after President Trump"

  • Multiple GOP candidates look to unseat Ocasio-Cortez — and a megadonor is eager to help, report says Tue, 23 Apr 2019 18:03:08 +0000

    Despite being in Congress for just under four months, several Republicans are already lining up to challenge Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who has become arguably one of the country's most controversial lawmakers, for her seat in Congress in November 2020.

    What are the details?

    Although mounting a successful challenge against Ocasio-Cortez would prove politically difficult because New York's 14th Congressional District is deeply progressive, Republicans clearly spot opportunity on the horizon.

    According to the New York Post, at least one Republican has already declared a candidacy while two others are seriously exploring launching their own campaigns. And at least one wealthy political donor has already declared intentions to fuel Ocasio-Cortez's political opponents.

    "There's definitely national energy and money on this race," Bronx Republican chairman Mike Rendino told The Post. Rendino did not disclose the donor's name, but said the donor is worth several hundred million dollars.

    The Republicans looking to challenge Ocasio-Cortez are:

    • Egyptian-American journalist Ruth Papazian
    • Former NYPD Officer John Cummings, who now teaches high school civics
    • Rich Valdes, a radio producer for Mark Levin

    Papazian has already entered the 2020 race, The Post reported. She threw her hat into the ring last month in response to Ocasio-Cortez's public push against Amazon, which had announced New York City as a location for its second location, but later withdrew plans after pushback from local leaders.

    Papazian is running as a pro-jobs candidate.

    "[Ocasio-Cortez] completely ignores the people in this district," Papazian told The Post. "I've lived here my whole life. I know the heart and soul of this community. The people here have scratched and clawed their way into the middle class, and they're not about to be impoverished with the high taxes it will take to make the Green New Deal and Medicare for All."

    While Papazian has yet to formally establish a fundraising arm for her campaign, sources told The Post that Corey Lewandowski, President Donald Trump's former campaign manager, has expressed interest in working with Papazian.

    Meanwhile, Valdes, who launched a formal exploratory committee in February, told The Post that Ocasio-Cortez has so far mimicked her predecessor, former Rep. Joe Crowley (D), by playing politics in Washington despite telling voters she would represent their interests.

    "They're really, really kind of discouraged at the fact that she was elected on this platform of representing the district because she ran against [former Rep. Joe] Crowley, positing him as being no-show, and she'd turned out to be very much the same way a no-show person," Valdes said.

    Cummings, who is also only in the exploratory stages of a campaign, echoed Valdes.

    "She's only interested in a national platform, and we need local representation," he told The Post.

    What did AOC say?

    Corbin Trent, spokesman for Ocasio-Cortez, pushed back against claims that his boss has not been present in her district.

    "I couldn't disagree more with people who are suggesting that the congresswoman isn't present enough in the district," he told The Post. "She's done town halls, community board meetings, been available for office hours, she's sat with activists and organizers and had a very strong presence in the district."

  • CNN's Brian Stelter: 'Role of the press' is to 'stand up for decency and morality, especially if others won't' Tue, 23 Apr 2019 17:47:07 +0000

    CNN's Brian Stelter on Monday plainly stated what many have long since observed much of the media morphing into — particularly in this age of Facebook journalism, reporters rushing to espouse their views on Twitter, and commentary increasingly becoming part of what was once hard news.

    "What's the role of the press in this broken environment?" Stelter asked, looking straight into the camera. "In part, our role is to keep collecting facts, all the facts so citizens can make up their own minds. But I think it's also our role to stand up for decency and morality, especially if others won't."

    What else did Stelter say?

    Stelter's "Reliable Sources" clip began with him telling his audience to pay attention to the "big lies" from President Donald Trump and his administration, particularly "no obstruction, no obstruction at all" in the wake of special prosecutor Robert Mueller's report — which indicated there wasn't enough evidence to say Trump colluded with Russia and that Mueller wouldn't exonerate or accuse Trump of obstructing justice.

    But Stelter didn't see it that way: "The attempts to obstruct are screaming off the page," he said before adding that while there was "no conspiracy found in the Mueller report, but there's no integrity, either."

    With that, Stelter launched into his media-as-moral-agents pronouncement.

    'Journalists, after all, work with a code of ethics'

    He added, "Journalists, after all, work with a code of ethics. We have — and we try to enforce — standards, and when we fall down on those standards, we try to learn from those mistakes."

    Stelter then decried Trump attorney and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani for telling CNN's Chris Cuomo that "if we're gonna start making moral judgments about everybody in public office, we'll have nobody in public office."

    "We can do better than that. And journalists can help lead the way by talking about morality and ethics," Stelter said before letting out a dramatic sigh and then adding "if the people in charge aren't."

    What was the reaction to Stelter's statements?

    Apart from the legion of examples of the mainstream media, particularly CNN, being accused of not covering the news fairly — with the Mueller investigation at the top of the list for the moment — a number of Twitter users took issue with Stelter's declaration that the press should assume the role of "decency and morality" watchdogs:

    • "No. Don't try to be a moral agent. Report facts, then sit down & shut your mouth. Media & politicians have a messiah complex. Neither of you are that important. Just do your work & do it well and then hush your hole."
    • "... the media's job is to 'report' the facts, which you fake news networks do not. You are only a propagandist not a journalist."
    • "Quick question: what is morality and how it is established?"
    • "Unbelievable. You mean it's your job to tell people what to think? The arrogance! This is the problem. That's exactly what the media is NOT supposed to do. They're supposed to be completely impartial."
    • "Why do you keep harping on the fact that no [one] trusts you. Get it together and start telling people facts not conjecture, and maybe we'll start to trust you again."
    • "The problem with your statement is that the media very rarely reports just the facts. You guys always add your opinions and most of the time make stuff up to fit your narrative. What happened to who what where when and why?"

  • British TV star, journalist sparks fury after he criticizes ‘unscrupulous’ Christians in wake of Sri Lanka terror attacks: ‘Don’t send your prayers’ Tue, 23 Apr 2019 17:31:45 +0000

    A former BBC journalist and contestant in the United Kingdom's "Big Brother" is under fire after saying that people shouldn't be sending their prayers in the wake of the Sri Lanka terror attacks.

    More than 300 people were killed in the church and hotel bombings that rocked the area on Easter Sunday, and more than 500 people were injured.

    On Tuesday, ISIS took credit for the bombings. At least 40 people were arrested in connection with the attacks following the Sunday massacre.

    You can read more about the attacks here.

    So what's this 'Big Brother' person saying?

    2016 "Big Brother" contestant and former BBC journalist Andy West tweeted about the Easter attacks.

    In a Sunday tweet, West wrote, "There is no excuse for terror attacks against innocent people but as a journalist I saw Western Christian missionaries unscrupulpusly [sic] converting Buddhist orphans for food and shelter after the Asian tsunami. Don't send your prayers."

    He later added, "Most — though not all — of those 'good Christian soldiers' thought they were doing God's good work. Perhaps we should forgive people their delusions but trying to press one religion onto another by brainwashing desperate children is a Western tradition that only leads to misery."

    His initial tweet was not received well, with just 1,000 "likes," but more than 7,000 comments. A vast majority of the comments from other social media users broadly condemned West's remarks.

    Facing criticism from social media peers, West later doubled down on his remarks and offered an explanation as to why he stood by them.

    He wrote, "So prayers aren't needed. In fact prayers are proven beyond doubt to have no effect. What might help, however, is ending the Western campaign to convert people of other religions in exchange for charity."

    He also went on to point out the actions of what he called "Christian cult leaders" in Sri Lanka.

    "I witnessed young Buddhist children who'd watched their parents drown in the tsunami being asked: 'Are you hungry? Do you have somewhere safe to sleep? Will you love Jesus Christ?' Now you tell me that I, as a journalist, should be blind to Christian cult leaders in Sri Lanka?" he wrote.

    (H/T: The Sun)

  • WATCH: Kamala Harris pushes false narrative on gun control, admits she would use tyrannical measures to restrict guns Tue, 23 Apr 2019 17:18:50 +0000

    Tuesday on " Pat Gray Unleashed," Pat Gray and Keith Malinak highlighted Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and a response she gave during a CNN town hall Monday night.

    In this clip, the 2020 presidential candidate was asked how she would keep guns out of the hands of children as well as those who "should not have them." Harris responded, "We need gun safety laws in this country including universal background checks and a renewal of the assault weapons ban."

    Click here to download the full episode.

    "Upon being elected, I will give the United States Congress 100 days to have the courage to pass reasonable gun safety laws," Harris said. "If they fail to do it, I will take executive action and specifically what I will do is put in place a requirement that gun dealers [having sold more than five guns in one year] must do background checks when they sell those guns."

    Pat asserted that all of the action items proposed by Harris are currently in effect.

    "So you are going to propose things that we already do in virtually every case," Pat said. "They try to push these narratives that just aren't true."

    Pat concluded that Harris' position on gun control is that if members of Congress do not act and meet her demands, then she would become a tyrant by way of executive order.

    Watch the video below for details.

    Want more from Pat Gray?

    To enjoy more of Pat's biting analysis and signature wit as he restores common sense to a senseless world, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

  • Texas school district survey tells 3rd- to 11th-grade students that 'gender is how a person feels' Tue, 23 Apr 2019 17:11:29 +0000

    One of Texas' largest school districts told third- through 11th-grade students in a recent survey, "Sex is what a person is born. Gender is how a person feels."

    The statement was part of Austin Independent School District's 2018-2019 Student Climate Survey administered to students this year, the Federalist reported. Following the statement, students were asked to indicate how they felt about their identities.

    The answer options included: "I am a girl/woman," "I am a boy/man," and "I identify in some other way." Additional space was provided for students to "describe how they identify," but it was optional.

    Austin ISD is the fifth largest school district in the state with more than 83,000 children enrolled. The Federalist estimated that 57,000 children took the survey this year, assuming the number of an even division of students across the grade levels.

    The district claims that the questionnaire helps it "examine factors contributing to student success beyond test scores," a spokeswoman told the Federalist in an email.

    Parents often have no idea what questions are asked on "school climate surveys" until after their children take the evaluation. At the beginning of each school year, parents sign multiple forms allowing the district to administer such surveys.

    Does this happen in other districts or states?

    Surveys such as the one used by AISD are part of the Obama administration's 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act, which updated the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002.

    The updated act included allowing states to evaluate children on non-academic behaviors and feelings known as "socioemotional learning." The surveys are considered to be part of an accountability tool called the "fifth indicator" in the ESSA.

    In 2017, non-academic questions were added to the National Assessment of Educational Progress or more commonly known as the Nation's Report Card.

    Some special interests groups, including the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning organization, have used the ESSA to push districts into expanding this type of questionnaire. CASEL leads multiple initiatives and produces high-quality resources to advance and implement SEL practices and policies, according to its website.

    What do critics say?

    Some critics believe the surveys are a way to impose transgender ideology onto students.

    "Both the content and process of CASEL are statist in nature ... think of it as Groupthink 10.0: We're the government and we're here to help. The net effect is to build a collective mindset," Stella Morabito, a Federalist senior contributor, said last year at a presentation before the Family Research Council, the Christian Post reported.

    Morabito worked in intelligence for about 10 years and is an expert in propaganda.

    "Power elites have always utilized propaganda through psychological manipulation to coerce the masses to bend to an agenda, and over time false premises, like the notion that 'sex is assigned at birth,' slowly make their way into law, she explained," she said.

    Self-reported assessments are also highly unreliable, according to experts.

    Pediatrician and education researcher Karen Effrem told the Federalist that research suggests that simply asking children about specific behaviors can create problems.

    "Whether it's comprehensive sex education or a survey, if you're bringing stuff like that [sexuality] up you are potentially creating upset or conflict or just planting the idea," she said.

    Check out the survey below:

  • Suspect reportedly steals man’s vehicle with man’s child inside. Suspect finds out hard way that he picked the wrong car to jack. Tue, 23 Apr 2019 16:47:43 +0000

    Lamar Thurman, a 29-year-old man suspected of carjacking a man's vehicle with his child still inside, is in critical condition after the vehicle owner caught up to Thurman and shot him several times.

    What are the details?

    The unidentified carjacking victim's vehicle was reportedly parked in front of the victim's home early Saturday morning in West Palm Beach, Florida, when Thurman allegedly entered the running vehicle and took off with it, according to WPLG-TV.

    The victim's 6-year-old son was inside the vehicle at the time, according to reports, while his father was inside the home saying goodbye to those inside.

    Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Teri Barbera said that Thurman drove away from the residence with the child inside. When the child's father realized that the car had been taken, he and friends phoned 911.

    "The victim and friends immediately chased after the vehicle while calling 911," Barbera said, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

    Thurman crashed the victim's vehicle a short while after taking it, and the young boy's father and friends — who pursued Thurman in another vehicle after calling 911 — attempted to save the child from the car. Thurman only made it about four miles before crashing the car.

    Though he'd crashed, Thurman persisted and made a second attempt to drive away with the child in the car. He didn't get very far, as the child's father pulled out a firearm and shot at Thurman several times "in an attempt to stop him from fleeing further," according to Barbera.

    Thurman went about 200 yards more before crashing the car a second time. Police arrived on the scene and took Thurman to the hospital in critical condition.

    The child was unhurt.

    What else?

    "The suspect has no association with the victims," Barbera said.

    According to a Facebook update, the incident is "still open and active pending further investigation."

    State records reveal that Thurman was arrested in 2016 for carjacking and battery.

    No pending charges are available at the time of this writing.

  • NYC Mayor de Blasio vows to ban glass and steel skyscrapers as part of city's Green New Deal Tue, 23 Apr 2019 16:29:07 +0000

    New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday that he would be imposing a ban on "inefficient" glass and steel skyscrapers in the city, arguing that buildings are the biggest contributor to the Big Apple's carbon footprint.

    The progressive Democrat threatened building owners with fines of "$1 million or more" for noncompliance, in a scheme that's been referred to as "pure stupidity."

    What are the details?

    De Blasio made the media rounds on Earth Day, touting his city's "audacious" Green New Deal modeled off the federal flop pushed by freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).

    As part of his initiative, the mayor vowed to crack down on developers and building owners, whom he accused of "putting up monuments to themselves," Spectrum News reported.

    "The biggest source of emissions in New York City is buildings," de Blasio explained, speaking on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "We're putting clear, strong mandates — the first of any major city on the earth — to say to building owners, 'You gotta clean up your act. You gotta retrofit, you gotta save energy. If you don't do it by 2030, there will be serious fines as high as $1 million or more for the biggest buildings, and this mandate is going to guarantee that we reduce emissions.'

    "We're going to ban the classic glass and steel skyscrapers which are incredibly inefficient," the mayor continued. "If someone wants to build one of those things they can take a whole lot of steps to make it energy efficient, but we're not going to allow what we used to see in the past."

    Anything else?

    De Blasio didn't lay out specifics for how the new building codes would look, but promised his plan as a whole would reduce New York City's carbon emissions by 30 percent and create tens of thousands of jobs over the next decade.

    Columnist Steve Cuozzo wrote in the New York Post that "de Blasio's 'green' skyscraper idea is pure stupidity," noting "the five boroughs already suffer from the most expensive construction costs in the world."

  • Teen sues Apple for $1 billion, says tech giant led to his wrongful arrest Tue, 23 Apr 2019 16:14:00 +0000

    An 18-year-old is suing Apple for $1 billion after the company allegedly led to his wrongful arrest.

    What are the details?

    Ousmane Bah from New York said that his interim learner's permit was lost or stolen. In the lawsuit, he claims that a thief used this ID at an Apple store location before he robbed it. The thief then went on to rob a number of Apple stores in at least four different states. The perpetrator's face, which was not Bah's, was caught on surveillance camera, but his name was listed as Bah presumably from the ID, which did not include a picture.

    Apple, however, has told the BBC that it does not have facial recognition technology in those stores.

    Delaware, Massachusetts, and New York have all since dropped their criminal cases against Bah. In the Massachusetts case, he had been able to prove that at the time an Apple store in Boston had $1,200 in merchandise stolen, he was attending his senior prom in New York City. He said he has never visited Boston in his life. He said that the first time he heard about the robbery in Boston was when he got a court summons in the mail.

    In the case of a robbery in Manhattan, the lawsuit claims that Bah was arrested but then later released when police determined that he was not the culprit caught on surveillance video.

    New Jersey still has a criminal case open against Bah for a robbery at an Apple store there.

    What else?

    According to the lawsuit, Bah was "was forced to respond to multiple false allegations which led to severe stress and hardship in his life, and also significant damage to his positive reputation that he had put so much effort into upholding."

    Apple, Bah alleges, "wrongfully and baselessly damaged" his reputation. He also said that being forced to travel to multiple states to face charges for a crime he didn't commit has hurt his attendance at college.

  • ‘The View’s’ Meghan McCain rips Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for uneducated remarks on the state of the VA: Vets have ‘literally died’ Tue, 23 Apr 2019 15:58:43 +0000

    "The View" co-host Meghan McCain hit out at Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) Monday after the Democratic lawmaker said that the Department of Veterans Affairs "provides the highest quality care to our veterans" and added that, if the program "ain't broke, don't fix it."

    Ocasio-Cortez made the remarks during a town hall event in New York City last week.

    "The idea that this thing that isn't broken, this thing that provides the highest quality care to our veterans somehow needs to be fixed, optimized, tinkered with until you don't even recognize it anymore," Ocasio-Cortez said. "Here's the thing, they are trying to fix it, but who are they trying to fix it for is the question we've got to ask.

    "They're trying to fix the VA for pharmaceutical companies, they're trying to fix the VA for insurance corporations, and ultimately they're trying to fix the VA for a for-profit health care industry that does not put people or veterans first," she said.

    "We have a responsibility to protect it, because if it is any community that deserves Cadillac first-class health care in the United States of America it is our military service members," the congresswoman added.

    What did McCain say?

    McCain, daughter of the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), took personal exception to the congresswoman's remarks and bashed the notion on Twitter.

    On Twitter, McCain wrote, "Veterans have literally died waiting to get health care treatment from the VA....died!"


    Yes, died.

    A March 2014 report revealed that former Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned over an ongoing controversy regarding vets' care.

    The Department of Veterans Affairs' inspector general conducted an investigation into the department. The report revealed that veterans were being made to wait on average 115 days for a first-time appointment at a Phoenix care center. VA officials purportedly falsified records to conceal the fact that veterans had to wait so long for appointments. As a result, at least 35 vets seeking care at the Phoenix facility died before they could receive care.

    Phoenix wasn't the only issue.

    A May 2015 report found that even after Shinseki resigned, at least one in 36 vets had to wait 30 days on average for an appointment nationwide. A startling 232,000 veterans were forced to wait more than 60 days to be seen.

    A 2018 report found that there were "critical deficiencies" at the Washington, D.C., Veterans Affairs Medical Center, including a lack of supplies,"chronic staffing shortages," "excessive vacancies in leadership positions," a "lack of consistently clean storage areas for medical supplies and equipment," and more.

    The 2018 report also revealed that the medical center's issues also included "delays or postponements of procedures due to unavailable usable instruments." The report noted that in some cases, veterans had to "wait months for needed items."

  • Brawling man wearing Easter bunny costume explains what got him so hopping mad in viral video (UPDATE) Tue, 23 Apr 2019 15:22:50 +0000

    UPDATE 12:01 p.m.: It turns out that Antoine McDonald — the 20-year-old caught on video dressed as an Easter bunny while brawling with man on an Orlando street Sunday — is wanted in New Jersey in connection with a vehicle burglary last fall and possibly fled to Florida under an assumed name, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

    In addition, police in Dover, Delaware, told the paper McDonald was arrested in early 2017 after he and two others were accused of committing two armed robberies over a 12-hour span on New Year's Day.

    Image source: Dover, Delaware, police

    McDonald was charged with two counts of robbery, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, second-degree conspiracy, and tampering with physical evidence, the Times added. Police said he and his accomplices robbed three people by gunpoint — hitting one with the gun and punching another — then robbed two others at gunpoint before fleeing, the paper said.

    But wait — there's more

    South Brunswick, N.J., police told the Times that in September 2018 McDonald and an accomplice were caught on surveillance cameras breaking into and burglarizing a car. Police charged McDonald and issued a warrant for his arrest but said they believed he fled the state, the paper added. Police said McDonald burglarized two cars claiming the owners owed him money, but cops weren't able to connect him to the owners, the Times noted.

    Image source: South Brunswick, New Jersey, police

    South Brunswick Deputy Police Chief Jim Ryan told the paper McDonald also was arrested in 2018 for harassing a man through social media and spitting at a 7-Eleven employee — and implicated in a basketball court assault that didn't lead to an arrest.

    In January, McDonald was jailed in Pasco County, Florida, after being arrested and charged with fraudulent use of a personal identification, the Times noted, adding that he told police in New Jersey that he lived in Tampa and claims to have recently moved to Orlando.

    Image source: Pasco County Sheriff's Office

    In February, the Orange County Sheriff's Office charged McDonald with reckless driving, the paper said.

    No word as to why he thought it was a good idea to talk to the media after his Easter bunny suit escapade.

    Original story below

    Antoine McDonald emphasized to WKMG-TV that he's not a violent person.

    "I am the type of person to avoid fights by any means necessary," he told the station, "but in that situation I would fight any day."

    McDonald, of course, is the man who was caught on a now-viral video dressed in an Easter bunny costume brawling with another man on an Orlando, Florida, street on the evening of Easter Sunday, WKMG said.

    And he came clean to the station about what, er, bugged him that night. But first, here's a video of the bizarre dust-up:

    Easter Bunny hops in and throws punches during fight

    What's the background?

    McDonald told WKMG he and his friends bought the bunny suit as a joke and then decided to pass it around Sunday as they — fittingly — bar hopped in downtown Orlando.

    And McDonald was the lucky costume wearer when he said he witnessed a man and a woman in a confrontation near SAKS Comedy Club, the station said.

    "The guy was — I don't know if he was bullying her or what — so then I see him spit on her, and she starts hitting him and everything," McDonald recalled to WKMG.

    Image source: YouTube screenshot

    He noted to the station that he didn't know the man or the woman but that he couldn't stand by and watch disrespect toward women — so he intervened and began throwing a barrage of punches at the man.

    You 'just can't spit on African-Americans — especially African-American females'

    "I am going to say that I am happy so that people know that they just can't spit on African-Americans — especially African-American females — and think that it's OK," McDonald also told WKMG.

    A police officer soon appeared at the scene, and while the fight was over at that point, McDonald offered a few air punches and bobs and weaves to underscore who won the battle.

    Image source: YouTube screenshot

    But while he confessed to the station that he thought getting arrested was a possibility, he knows he was in the right.

    "The thought went through my head when the cop came over, but you know I didn't leave. I didn't run," McDonald told WKMG. "I said, 'You know what? This man deserved it.' You know, if I have to be arrested for this to prove a point that this shouldn't be happening, then so be it."

    Man in bunny fight video says he was defending woman

  • NJ mayor defends Kate Smith’s ‘God Bless America,’ says the song will still be played on the boardwalk: 'Everyone wants to rewrite history' Tue, 23 Apr 2019 15:06:31 +0000

    Wildwood, New Jersey, Mayor Ernie Troiano refused to back down when confronted with news that some tri-state neighbors were canning Kate Smith's version of "God Bless America" because of Smith's purported ties to racism.

    Wait, what?

    Last week, the New York Yankees announced that Smith's version of the song would no longer be played during the seventh-inning stretch.

    The Philadelphia Flyers also removed a statue of Smith from outside of the team's arena for the same reason.

    The 1931 song, "That's Why Darkies Were Born," is one example that many people perceive as racist, boasting lyrics that read, "Someone had to pick the cotton, someone had to pick the corn, someone had to slave and be able to sing, that's why darkies were born."

    People questioned the song's history in the past, with some critics calling it outright racist, and others saying that the song was a satirical take on racism and white supremacy.

    Smith also recorded "Pickaninny Heaven," directed at "colored children" who fantasize about frolicking in a place with "great big watermelons," according to the Daily News.

    Smith died in 1986.

    What is the mayor saying now?

    Troiano told "The Dom Giordano Program" Monday that Smith's version of "God Bless America" will continue to play at Wildwood's boardwalk every morning at 11 a.m. local time during the summer months.

    "It's an Irving Berlin patriotic song that has nothing to do with anything other than America," Troiano said. "I can assure you that my conversation with the mayor of North Wildwood, Patrick Rosenello, is, we have no intentions of removing it."

    "I'm just a small-town mayor and I look at what's happening to the world, and it's amazing how everyone wants to rewrite history," he added. "No one wants to allow history to be an educator to help us improve in the future. We're going to change history and what we don't like, we're just going to erase."

    Troiano pointed the finger at the overly politically correct world.

    "[T]he world's gotten so politically correct and so afraid that they're going to offend somebody," he insisted. "The song is greater than anything. So you know what? It'll continue to play in Wildwood."

    July 4, 2012 11:01 AM Kate Smith ~ God Bless America ! 19th St. N.Wildwood N.J. Boardwalk

    What else?

    Some area residents and visitors to the Jersey Shore beach voiced their support for Troiano's decision.

    Philadelphia resident Ronald Watt told KYW-TV that he didn't feel Smith "was racist at all."

    Carlissa Bell told KYW that he who is without sin should cast the first stone.

    "If we hold her to the stake for her songs from something that was in the 1930s — and even now; she's dead and gone — then we're going to be held accountable when all is said and done," Bell said. "It's like you're casting judgment on her just because you may sin differently."

  • Pentagon takes action after two US soldiers detained, disarmed by Mexican soldiers in US territory Tue, 23 Apr 2019 14:35:07 +0000

    The Pentagon has initiated an investigation after two United States Army soldiers were briefly detained and disarmed by Mexican soldiers earlier this month. The tense situation was complicated by the fact that it occurred in U.S. territory near Clint, Texas.

    What is the background?

    As TheBlaze reported over the weekend, two U.S. soldiers — an Army sergeant and private — were briefly detained by a group of five or six Mexican soldiers on April 13. The U.S. personnel were sitting in an unmarked Customs and Border Protection vehicle conducting a routine surveillance mission at the time of the incident.

    To de-escalate the situation, both U.S. soldiers complied with orders from their Mexican counterparts, who tactically approached them with high-powered FX-05 Xiuhcoatl machine guns, which are capable of firing more than 12 rounds per second.

    The Army sergeant, who was armed with his service Beretta M9 pistol, was disarmed by the Mexican soldiers.

    After a brief search and broken English to Spanish back-and-forth conversation, the Mexican soldiers released the U.S. personnel and departed in an unmarked Mexican military vehicle. CBP agents and U.S. military personnel quickly responded to the scene.

    No one was injured during the incident.

    What's happening now?

    According to the Washington Examiner, Pentagon officials are investigating how the two U.S. soldiers responded and reviewing military guidance that left the soldiers essentially defenseless.

    Though an official from U.S. Northern Command told the Examiner the incident was the first of its kind, the investigation "will help us modify any instructions that we're giving the troops" about how to handle similar situations in the future if they occur.

    More from the Examiner:

    Troops deployed to the U.S.-Mexico boundary go through joint readiness staging, or training on how to handle dangerous situations in the area. The official said he could not recall anything similar to last Saturday's encounter having taken place during a previous active-duty troop deployment.

    No official protocol exists for how to navigate a run-in with a foreign military, but the senior official said the soldiers were trained to "de-escalate" the situation. By surrendering at least one gun, they followed existing protocol, though it left them unarmed.

    Meanwhile, U.S. officials have contacted the Mexican government requesting an explanation and why their solders were seemingly patrolling the border area while in U.S. territory.

  • 'Truly a miracle': 5-year-old boy thrown from third-floor balcony at Mall of America shows 'zero evidence of brain damage,' pastor says Tue, 23 Apr 2019 14:19:45 +0000

    It was fitting that Pastor Mac Hammond of Living Word Christian Center made the astounding announcement during the Minnesota congregation's Easter service.

    You see, the family of the 5-year-old boy who earlier this month was thrown from the third-floor balcony at the Mall of America attends Living Word, and Hammond has been ministering to them — and particularly Landen, the victim of the heinous act.

    Hammond told the Brooklyn Park congregation Sunday that after a five-hour MRI, an attending physician said what the test found was "truly a miracle," KMSP-TV reported.

    What did the MRI find?

    "There was zero evidence of brain damage ... there wasn't even any swelling in the brain," Hammond told the cheering congregation in a clip that the station said Landen's family authorized. "No spinal cord injury, no nerve damage, no internal injuries that were life-threatening."

    Image source: KMSP-TV video screenshot

    Hammond added that the physician who called the findings miraculous also said it was as if Landen "fell off a bicycle" as opposed to the third floor of a mall, KMSP reported.

    While the boy suffered some minor internal bleeding and several broken bones, the station noted that even the fractures in his face appear to be healing in the right places.

    'He is answering our prayers'

    The GoFundMe page for Landen has raised $960,000 of its $1 million goal as of Tuesday morning.

    "Our faith in God, and our Savior Jesus, is strong, and we are gaining more reason for optimism day by day," the GoFundMe page's Good Friday update noted, adding that "we all feel your overwhelming love, prayers and support. He is answering our prayers, and they ARE working. Please continue to pray for Landen and his family, every single prayer is important. Thank you so much from all of us and have a blessed Easter weekend."

    Anything else?

    The man accused of throwing the boy off the balcony admitted to police he went to the mall in search of someone to kill — and was upset that his plan did not "work out." Emmanuel Aranda, 24, was charged with first-degree attempted premeditated murder.

    Here is another video report on Landen's miraculous recovery:

    Doctors call test results of boy thrown off third floor of MOA 'truly a miracle'

  • Wisconsin mom pleads guilty to ISIS terror-related charges: ‘Threats to Americans’ Tue, 23 Apr 2019 13:59:50 +0000

    Waheba Issa Dais, a Wisconsin mother of seven children, pleaded guilty Monday to supporting the terror group ISIS.

    What are the details?

    According to WITI-TV, Milwaukee-area resident Dais attempted to aid the Islamic State by disseminating information on crafting explosives and biological weapons. Reports also revealed that Dais attempted to recruit people to carry out attacks.

    In March, Dais pleaded not guilty to two counts of providing material support to terrorists. Prosecutors dropped one of the charges in exchange for Dais' guilty plea, WITI reported.

    Reports revealed that Dais purportedly hacked social media accounts to collaborate with purported members of ISIS to plan potential attacks.

    "These cases demonstrate the continuing and evolving terrorism threat posed by foreign terrorism organizations," said Matthew Krueger, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

    Dais faces up to 20 years in prison in connection to the charges. Her sentencing is set for Sept. 12.

    Anything else?

    Authorities charged a second suspect in the Milwaukee area with similar charges.

    Yosvany Padilla-Conde also pleaded guilty, according to the outlet.

    Court documents revealed that Dais and Padilla-Conde did not know one another or work together, WITI said.

    Padilla-Conde, who is a Cuban national, reportedly attempted to travel to the Middle East to join the ranks of ISIS.

    FBI acting special agent in charge Michelle Sutphin said, "People like Padilla-Conde and Dais pose significant threats to Americans, both here in the U.S. and abroad."

    Padilla-Conde could also spend up to 20 years in prison in connection with the crimes.

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