Survey: 66 Percent Of The National Security Community Reject Iran Deal

To piggyback off Guy's post showing that Americans overwhelmingly oppose Obama’s Iran deal, a new survey conducted by Government Business Council and Defense One shows that 66 percent of the national security community also opposes the agreement. Additionally, the national security publication also found that almost an equal number–62 percent–feel that the country would be better off rejecting the deal:

The group’s outlook was even dimmer about the deal’s effect on U.S. allies. Most respondents said that it would have a somewhat or mostly negative impact on the security of Israel (71%), Saudi Arabia (67%), the Gulf Arab states (67%), Jordan (59%), Iraq (58%), and Europe (53%).


The survey was conducted by Defense One and Government Business Council, the research division of Government Executive Media Group, between August 20-27. The survey was emailed to a random sample of Defense One, Government Executive and Nextgov subscribers. There were 465 respondents from the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, State, and the military service branches. Of that total, 15 percent were active duty military and 7 percent were military reservists. Fifty-eight percent of respondents are at least GS/GM-13, or military equivalent. The margin of error is +/-3.29 percent.

Cortney wrote about Secretary of State John Kerry's press conference earlier today, where he defended the agreement–saying it's based on "truth, not trust."

Surprise: Three More Hillary Email Lies Exposed in Latest Document Dump

It's time to update the Hillary Lie Scoreboard, which is becoming a Herculean task. We've spelled out half-a-dozen verifiable lies already; the latest batch of emails released by the State Department -- which, I'll remind you, does not include any of the 30,000 "personal" emails Hillary's team unilaterally and permanently attempted to destroy -- contain yet more data points that disprove a series of additional untruths:

(1) Contrary to her prior insistence, Hillary personally sent classified material through her unsecure private server.  The Washington Post  reports:

While she was secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton wrote and sent at least six e-mails using her private server that contained what government officials now say is classified information, according to thousands of e-mails released by the State Department. Although government officials deemed the e-mails classified after Clinton left office, they could complicate her efforts to move beyond the political fallout from the controversy. They suggest that her role in distributing sensitive material via her private e-mail system went beyond receiving notes written by others, and appears to contradict earlier public statements in which she denied sending or receiving e-mails containing classified information. The classified e-mails, contained in thousands of pages of electronic correspondence that the State Department has released, stood out because of the heavy markings blocking out sentences and, in some cases, entire messages. The State Department officials who redacted the material cited national security as the reason for blocking it from public view.

The "marked classified" and "retroactively classified" excuses don't hold water, for reasons elucidated by numerous national security and legal experts. The information in question was "born classified," so to speak, and officials with security clearances are heavily briefed on ensuring that sensitive material be identified and treated appropriately.  The nature of the contents of more than 125 additional emails now deemed to be classified were by definition classified from the very beginning. This revelation also blows up the contention that Mrs. Clinton was merely a "passive recipient" of classified materials. These six emails (so far) were initiated and sent by her to others.  Furthermore, multiple intelligence community sources tell the Washington Times that Hillary's "home brew" server contained highly sensitive information pertaining to North Korea's nuclear weapons, gathered by US spy satellites -- obviously and plainly sensitive information that was required by law to be disseminated only through proper channels.  Also, Team Clinton's contention that inter-agency disputes over classification standards make this whole business impossibly complex and confusing is also bunk.  An executive order from President Obama made clear that classification decisions are to be made by the agency from which the information originates.

(2) Hillary also solicited classified material
, and specifically asked that it be sent to her private, unsecure email server.  Via Mediaite and Rory Cooper:

In a separate exchange, Clinton demanded that a staffer email her information that was marked classified at the time, snapping at him after he expressed concerns about following the rules.  "Just email it," she wrote.

(3) Emails from off-the-books confidante Sid Blumenthal were not "unsolicited," as claimedJonah Goldberg noticed the relevant news buried in a New York Times story:

[Clinton] said the e-mails from Blumenthal were “unsolicited” missives from an “old friend.” This, of course, was a lie. The New York Times’s Peter Baker has a long piece on how Blumenthal was pretty obviously one of her closest foreign-policy advisers, as well as an “informer on domestic politics, keeping her up-to-date on the latest machinations in the White House and the campaign trail, even offering suggestions for midterm election strategy.” … Clinton “welcomed his input outside the normal chain of command,” told him “to keep ‘em coming” and “nudged” him to follow through on at least one promised memo. I’m no lawyer, but that sounds awfully “solicited” to me.

Another one bites the dust. Remember, the dodgy Mr. Blumenthal was on the Clinton Foundation's payroll at the time, having been explicitly banned from working at the State Department by the White House. It was the penetration of his private emails by hackers that provided evidence that Hillary Clinton had not, in fact, turned over every work-related message to the State Department -- a claim she continues to make to this day. Hillary Clinton's favorability rating has taken another blow, this time in the Democrat-friendly Washington Post/ABC News survey series. At 53 percent unfavorable, Hillary has sunk to her weakest position in seven years. I'll leave you with MSNBC's morning show panel ripping her dishonesty, shifting explanations and tortured parsing:

One more, for good measure. Simple question, no answer from the State Department. "I'm just not going to answer that question:"

Hillary, in March: "I fully complied with every rule that I was governed by."  The State Department this week: "No comment."  Experts: "Laughably," comprehensively  untrue.

Liberal Media Don’t Understand Christianity … At All

By now you’ve all likely heard about Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis who is refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because of her religious beliefs. The Supreme Court on Monday tried to tell her she can’t do that, but she continued anyway, denying at least four gay couples a license on Tuesday morning.

"To issue a marriage license which conflicts with God's definition of marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience," Davis, a devout Christian who served as a deputy clerk for 26 years before being elected a clerk last November, said in a statement. "It is not a light issue for me. It is a Heaven or Hell decision. For me it is a decision of obedience. I have no animosity toward anyone and harbor no ill will. To me this has never been a gay or lesbian issue. It is about marriage and God's Word. It is a matter of religious liberty, which is protected under the First Amendment, the Kentucky Constitution, and in the Kentucky Religious Freedom Restoration Act."

You know what’s also relevant to this story, according to the Associated Press and other liberal news outlets like the New York Post? The fact that Davis has sinned in her life. Gasp!

Here’s how the Post introduced the story:

Moralist is apparently in quotes because they would like to point out she’s a hypocrite by committing other biblical sins in the past. But the beginning paragraphs in the actual story are all about how “she repented and pledged the rest of her life to the service of the Lord.”

Here's the AP's "reporting":

Kim Davis sat in a church pew on a Sunday morning about four years ago, listening as the man in the pulpit preached of forgiveness and God’s grace.

Davis was then an unlikely candidate to wage a moral war over the institution of marriage. At 44 years old, she had been divorced three times and had two children out of wedlock.

But that Sunday morning, as the preacher spoke from the Book of Galatians, she repented and pledged the rest of her life to the service of the Lord.

Now as the Rowan County clerk, Davis — despite her own checkered past — is refusing to surrender in a battle over who can and can’t be wed. She invoked “God’s authority” Tuesday as she defied a series of federal court orders and once again denied marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Attention, liberal media: we are all sinners. Jesus died for our sins, however, so if Davis repented and confessed as the story suggests, this is not a story at all. What, then, was the AP’s point in writing this? She is not a hypocrite, as her past sins have been wiped clean so to speak. Any Christian understands this, and up until now, I would have thought that even secularists would at least be familiar with one of the most fundamental aspects of the faith, to which one-third of the world’s population adheres. Guess I was wrong on that. But then again, I also thought “the man in the pulpit” is called a pastor. 

‘Take That, Bibi’: PBS Journalist Mocks Israeli Prime Minister After Iran Deal Victory

PBS journalist Gwen Ifill isn't even trying to hide her cheerleading for the Obama administration. After the president gained the 34th and final vote needed to secure his nuclear negotiation with Iran Wednesday, Ifill posted a simple message for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on her Twitter account.

The graph she retweeted was originally posted by the official White House account. It appeared to be a mockery of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s address to the United Nations in 2012, when he presented an illustration of a nuclear bomb to demonstrate how Iran would progress in its dangerous pursuit of a nuclear weapon.

In the past, Ifill has been tasked with moderating vice presidential debates, covering seven presidential campaigns and interviewing politicians on significant policy issues. In other words, she is not in a role that is supposed to be open to editorializing.

Her online bio includes the reason she decided to pursue broadcast journalism:

"I always knew I wanted to be a journalist, and my first love was newspapers," Ifill said. "But public broadcasting provides the best of both worlds-combining the depth of newspapering with the immediate impact of broadcast television."

Now, she is feeling the immediate impact of posting a biased tweet, as outraged social media users are promptly responding:

One last note: Despite the media bias and Secretary of State John Kerry's reassurances that the administration's framework will 'get the job done,' Guy reported earlier today that Americans oppose the deal by (a not even close) 30 points.

10 Years After Hurricane Katrina – Are We Prepared?

In light of the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina hitting American shores, our CBC exclusive author interview with Fox News Channel’s Senior Meteorologist and children’s author, Janice Dean, explores whether or not America is ready for another hurricane or not. In her new children’s book, Freddy the Frogcaster and the Huge Hurricane, Ms. Dean attempts to educate children and families about the dangers of Mother Nature.

Congratulations Ms. Dean on your new book, Freddy the Frogcaster and the Huge Hurricane! Can you give us an overview of your book?

Freddy the Frogcaster joins his friends Polly Woggins and Sally Croaker at the Frog News Network to help track a huge hurricane that is on its way towards their lily pad. Freddy has had plenty of practice having helped prepare his neighborhood from a big thunderstorm in the first book (Freddy the Frogcaster) and then the snowstorm in the second book (Freddy the Frogcaster and the Big Blizzard), so when a hurricane is on its way, Freddy is weather-ready to warn his friends and family and make sure they are safe before the storm moves in.

What three key takeaways would you like readers to leave with after reading your book? And do you believe children’s books can educate children on complex subject matters, like Global Warming and the environment?

Freddy’s main message is to be prepared. If parents and kids are prepared for a weather event, it takes the panic or scare out of a potentially dangerous situation. This means having things like an emergency preparedness kit, knowing where to go if and when there is a severe weather event and keeping emergency numbers and a plan together beforehand.

The other takeaways are also hard work and that practice pays off. Freddy makes sure he is doing his very best to get his community aware and prepared for the hurricane – keeping alert of the latest weather watches and warnings, forecasting, and doing his part to broadcast the message to as many frogs as he can. His frog friends and family know that Freddy is dedicated to helping others, and he gets plenty of praise for his diligence and loyalty to his community.

The other part of it is about family and community. It’s important to have a connection to both especially during times of hardships, like a weather emergency when neighbors need to help one another.

As for the other part of the question, complex subject matters…I think if kids have a basis of knowledge on things and they want to find out more on a topic, this can be a springboard to learn more about weather or climate issues. I certainly hope these books will help inspire a next generation of meteorologists.

Your new book is also very timely as it is the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina this year. What, if anything, has improved or changed in the last decade in the way weather is reported, and how governments prepare their citizens for violent storms?

In terms of reporting storms, the technology and computer models have gotten a lot more precise as to narrowing the gap of where a storm could affect a certain region. But, it’s still not a perfect forecast. There is still uncertainty involved and if you are within a watch or area of concern you need to be paying close attention to your local forecasts and your local government officials.

One thing I am concerned about is we haven’t had a category three hurricane or higher hit the US in 10 years, and there are millions of new residents along the Gulf and Atlantic coast that have never experienced a hurricane before. The complacency is what I am concerned about.

As someone who works day in and day out in the weather reporting industry, do you believe that climate change is primarily caused by human action?

I am a meteorologist, so I report on weather events that are happening right now or in a short period of time. You’re best to ask a climatologist that question. However, I will say that predicting anything outside of a five day forecast is still incredibly difficult to find out what the weather or climate will be like in a few months, a few years, or even a few decades is next to impossible.

Tell us a little more about yourself personally!

Favorite Movie: The first movie that comes to mind is Groundhog Day. I also love When Harry Met Sally. Any 80s movie that brings me back to my childhood/teenage years – 16 Candles, The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

Favorite TV Show: I miss Mad Men. I’m looking forward to the new season of Homeland. It’s hard watching any television with two small kids though!

Favorite Food: Hard to pick one thing. I love everything from fancy Italian to sushi, or Chinese food. A good sandwich from Subway is pretty darn tasty too. And I have a big sweet tooth, so I always save room for dessert.

Favorite Drink: I love my coffee in the morning with creamand sugar. Otherwise I drink water and I’m always excited to have a glass of white wine on occasion.

Favorite Music Group: The Eagles.

Where do you get your news from primarily? Fox News Channel, of course.

If you could meet any person, dead or alive, who would it be? I would like to see my dad again one more time. He died a few years back and I wish I had had just a little more time with him.

What do you do for fun? I enjoy going to dinner with my husband or my girlfriends once a week. Taking care of my boys and working fulltime keeps me busy so I appreciate the time when I can re-connect with my husband or good friends over dinner – time well spent. I also enjoy reading a good book and being excited to pick it up and lose myself in a good story.

What books, authors, or conservative-themed books, influenced your political philosophy and outlook on life?

I’ve always been an avid reader from a young age. I loved everything from Dr. Seuss to Alice in Wonderland to Nancy Drew. My husband and I both love to read, and have fabulous conversations about books we’ve read or recommendations we’ve gotten from other people. I just picked up the book All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and look forward to reading that. And one of the books I’ve always wanted to read but for some reason never got around to it – Seabiscuit, by Laura Hillenbrand is also sitting on my nightstand. I especially want to read that since we witnessed the first Triple Crown winner in 27 years, American Pharaoh, at the Belmont Stakes this year!

By the Way, Americans Now Oppose Obama's Iran Deal By 30-Point Margin

Just a friendly reminder on Obama's big day that the White House and its enablers couldn't care less about what the American people, or a majority of their representatives, think.  And hey, what's not to like? Quite a lot, actually, as we've chronicled week after week. This is a terrible deal, and the American people know it. They were very much open to the prospect a better deal, but they've rejected the reckless mess negotiated by Team Smart Power. Which brings us to the latest Q-poll results:

Screen Shot 2015-09-01 at 8.50.49 PM

This represents a slight erosion from Quinnipiac's previous survey on this question, and reflects data trends from a host of additional national polls. Despite the dramatic turn in public opinion, Democrats are lining up to protect Obama's legacy. As I wrote on Monday, opponents of the deal have been admitting what we now know for certain: They won't have the votes to overturn a presidential veto. At this point, they're hoping to defeat Harry Reid's planned filibuster -- which would deny Congress the ability to debate and vote on a hugely consequential accord struck with a sworn American enemy.  Scandal-plagued presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who is a chief architect of the Obama foreign policy, will formally endorse the deal in a speech next week; she's evidently unconcerned about these numbers:

Dozens of Democrats are refusing to go along with the partisan program, including (disgraced former judge) Alcee Hastings. The Florida Congressman lit into the deal in a speech this week, arguing that US interests would be better served by providing bunker-busting bombs to the Israelis:

If I was at table, what would I have led with. What I would have led with is, ‘ you need to give me good faith gesture now, and that is, release the three hostages,” adding that “when the Iran deal commenced, the world found out that Iran had the capability of building 1 to 10 nuclear weapons in a 2 to 3 month span. What in the hell is going to make us they aren’t going to cheat again?” … The president recently said that the people that supported the Iraq war are the same people that are in alliance with the Ayatollah and his functionaries, he did not say it that way, but you get my drift. I did not vote for the Iraq war Mr. President, and I am going to vote against your Iranian deal!

Hastings, like Sen. Bob Menendez, tears at the core of the White House's "warmonger" smear by noting that he voted against the Iraq war. As for the suggestion that the US help Israel destroy Iran's nuclear infrastructure, that course of action appears to be explicitly barred under Obama's agreement:

The United States and other world powers will help to teach Iran how to thwart and detect threats to its nuclear program, according to the parameters of a deal reached Tuesday to rein in Iran’s contested nuclear program. Under the terms of a deal that provides Iran billions of dollars in sanctions relief, Iran and global powers will cooperate to help teach Iran how to manage its nuclear infrastructure, which will largely remain in tact under the deal…This will include “training courses and workshops to strengthen Iran’s ability to prevent, protect and respond to nuclear security threats to nuclear facilities and systems as well as to enable effective and sustainable nuclear security and physical protection systems,” according to the text.

I'll leave you with the Executive Director of 'Vets Against the Deal' making the case against the agreement, which has attracted opposition from dozens of former US military officers:

The Iranian regime is directly responsible for the murders of hundreds of American soldiers in Iraq. "Death to America" isn't just an empty slogan to Obama's new "peace partners" in Tehran.

Judge: Moral AND Religious Exemptions Can Be Made For Contraception Mandate

A decision in the March for Life v. Burwell  lawsuit has paved way for more litigation and debate over the Obama administration’s contraception mandate, with a federal judge ruling that moral objections are legitimate reasons to exempt an organization from the birth control mandate.

The New York Times  reported that March for Life, an organization that began in 1973 after Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in the country, filed a lawsuit against the Department for Health and Human Services over their contraception mandate for equal protection violations. The Times added that the group feels they’re being treated differently than other “similarly situated employers” by the government:

Judge Richard J. Leon of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia rejected the government’s position. “This not only oversimplifies the issue — it misses the point entirely,” Judge Leon wrote.

“The characteristic that warrants protection — an employment relationship based in part on a shared objection to abortifacients — is altogether separate from theism. Stated differently, what H.H.S. claims to be protecting is religious beliefs, when it actually is protecting a moral philosophy about the sanctity of life.”

“H.H.S. may be correct that this objection is common among religiously affiliated employers,” he added. “Where H.H.S. has erred, however, is in assuming that this trait is unique to such organizations. It is not.”

Giving religious groups special treatment, Judge Leon wrote, amounts to “regulatory favoritism.” Moral philosophy, he said, should be accorded the same treatment as religious belief.

Of course, an appeal is going to be filed by the government. Last summer, Hobby Lobby won a limited victory in their lawsuit against the HHS mandate. The Supreme Court ruled that their objection was valid, but since Hobby Lobby is a closely-held, for-profit business, it only applies to similar entities. March for Life is a secular, non-profit organization. At the same time, the business already covered 16 of the 20 types of contraception outlined in the HHS mandate. The only four they objected to are the ones the business owners considered abortifacients.

For the other side, Ian Millhiser of the left-leaning Think Progress wrote that this is the “wackiest anti-birth control court decision to date.”

Friendly Reminder: At the time of the Hobby Lobby decision, Guy aptly noted that contraception isn’t illegal, it’s widely accessible, and vast majorities of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents are fine with it.

French Train Attack Hero Joins Cast of Dancing With the Stars

We already know Alek Skarlatos is quick on his feet--he did tackle an armed terrorist, after all--but now we're going to find out how good he is on the dance floor. It was announced today that Skarlatos, a specialist in the Army National Guard, will be joining the 21st season of Dancing With the Stars. He will be partnered with professional dancer Lindsay Arnold.

Army National Guard Specialist Alek Skarlatos has joined the Dancing with the Stars Season 21 cast! Alek became a worldwide hero in August when he helped avert a massacre aboard a Belgian train. While on vacation after a deployment in Afghanistan, the 22 year-old sprang into action when an armed attacker began shooting on the train. Alek and two of his friends, Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone and student Anthony Sadler, disarmed and subdued the attacker, who was armed with guns and a box cutter. The California native is an avid painter and military history buff. In between National Guard deployments, Alek studies at a local community college and plans to enter the police force. See Alek hit the dance floor on the Season 21 Premiere of Dancing with the Stars, MONDAY SEPT 14 8|7c on ABC.

Break a leg, Alek!

Alaska Lawmakers To Sue Governor Over Medicaid Expansion

The fight over Medicaid expansion in Alaska has reached a point of no return. The lawfare begins, as the Alaskan Supreme Court refused to block Gov. Bill Walker’s executive action to expand the program and bypass the state legislature who refused to do so. In July, Walker, an independent, said he could not wait any longer to convince state lawmakers that this is the right move which would give health care access to 20,000* additional Alaskans.

Now, the state legislature is set to sue the governor. On August 18, the state legislature secured the $450,000 to hire two law firms to bring a lawsuit against the governor based on constitutional grounds (via Alaska Dispatch News):

The Alaska Legislature on Tuesday said it will sue Gov. Bill Walker to block his move last month to expand the public Medicaid health care program without lawmakers’ approval.

Following a private discussion Tuesday morning, a Republican-controlled House-Senate committee voted 10-1 to spend up to $450,000 on two law firms to represent the Legislature in a suit against the governor.

One, Bancroft PLLC, is based in Washington, D.C., and represented more than two dozen states in their U.S. Supreme Court challenge to the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare." The second, Holmes, Weddle & Barcott, is based in Anchorage.

In a news conference after the committee vote, Republican leaders framed their decision to challenge the governor as a constitutional one. They’re seeking an injunction to stop Medicaid expansion from going into effect Sept. 1.

“This is not a policy issue — we’re not discussing whether we should or shouldn’t expand Medicaid,” said Senate President Kevin Meyer, R-Anchorage. “This is a question of authority and process and our constitution.”

On August 11, State Sen. Mike Dunleavy sent a memo to Gov. Walker outlining the costs of expanding this government-run health care program and the legal consequences if he goes forward with unilaterally expanding the program. He also requested the governor not go forward with his unilateral action until the legislature “fully vets” the program. Obviously, it was ignored.

On Tuesday, the White House praised Gov. Walker’s decision. As of today, the Healthy Alaska Plan is in full effect. Kristina Ribali of the Foundation for Government Accountability has noted how Medicaid expansion is a budget buster for states. The people who are included in the expansion maybe low-income, but they’re mostly childless, able-bodied adults. One-third of those eligible have criminal records, and nearly half don’t work at all. On average, Medicaid expansion would force states to find two-to-three dollars in cuts from other parts of their respective budgets just to save one dollar in Medicaid spending.

Let’s also not forget the fact that in states like Virginia, almost one in four doctors aren't accepting new Medicaid recipients, making the proposed expansion in the Old Dominion problematic, along with the $1.3 billion price tag to help an additional 400,000 able-bodied adults (mostly young people), who have other options for health care.

Also, those without insurance actually fare better than Medicaid recipients, who have not experienced better care under this government program. No wonder Forbes’ Avik Roy called it a “humanitarian catastrophe.”

*Walker's administration says the figure could be as high as 42,000 people.

Obama Gets Final Vote Needed to Protect Iran Deal

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) has given President Obama the final vote necessary to secure victory for his controversial nuclear agreement with Iran. From the AP:

Senate Democrats have rallied the 34 votes they need to keep the Iran nuclear deal alive in Congress, handing President Barack Obama a major foreign policy victory.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland became the crucial 34th vote Wednesday morning, declaring the agreement is the best way to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions.

The Obama administration may have had a touch of nervousness in the past few weeks, as a couple of notable Senate Democrats brutally rejected the deal and others were still on the fence. They have also faced continual pressure from Republicans, who plan to vote on a disapproval resolution. Now, however, with 34 votes safely in his pocket, Obama has everything he needs to veto it. 

Update: Secretary of State John Kerry defended the Obama administration’s Iran Deal in Philadelphia Wednesday morning, stating the White House enlisted the ‘broadest expertise available’ in drafting Iran Deal.

“The framework we have will get the job done.”

The restrictions to Iran’s nuclear program, Kerry insisted, will last for a lifetime. With this agreement, Iran centrifuges will be reduced and their nuclear stockpile will ‘shrink and shrink some, more,’ he further ensured.

Should Iran disobey the agreement, he said, the IAEA will be given access to uncover the truth and Iranian sanctions will ‘snap back into place.’

Failing to pass the nuclear agreement would be ‘self-destructive,’ Kerry said, weakening America and a producing a more dangerous Middle East.

“The multilateral sanctions regime will start to unravel and our negotiation leverage will diminish if not disappear.”

Acknowledging Israel’s alarm over the US negotiating with Iran, Kerry said that America’s support for her will remain ‘rock solid.’

The agreement, Kerry repeated, is based on ‘truth, not trust.’

Analysis: Fiorina Gets Results as CNN Caves on Debate Rules

As Christine reported last evening, CNN has reevaluated the much-maligned participation threshold rules for its upcoming Republican presidential debate. As a result, Carly Fiorina will likely qualify for the 'main stage' forum; absent the change, the surging candidate would likely have been on the outside looking in. The previous standard's flaws were readily apparent, as National Review editor Rich Lowry explains:

CNN tried its best back in May to come up with fair, transparent standards for who will occupy the ten slots in its prime-time debate. It’s just that in the real world they make no sense. Consider the perversity of the CNN criteria. They will almost certainly exclude Fiorina, even though she is seventh in the current RealClearPolitics national polling average, ahead of John Kasich, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul and Chris Christie, among others; even though she tied for seventh in CNN’s own national poll in mid-August; and even though she has been surging in the early states, popping up to third place in the latest Iowa and New Hampshire polls, ahead of both Jeb Bush and Scott Walker...What happened? CNN decided to use polls going all the way back to July 16, weeks before the first Fox debate on Aug. 6 scrambled the field. This reaches back to a period when Fiorina was routinely polling at one or zero. On top of this, CNN is only considering polls from select organizations. Some of these polling outfits or news organizations aren’t doing national tracking polls of the Republican race; one of them — McClatchy-Marist — hasn’t done a poll since it said it doesn’t want its surveys used to determine debate eligibility; and others seem likely to wait until after the CNN debate to do their next survey. All of this means, perversely, that there will probably be more polls from before the first debate included in the CNN formula than after the debate. So, in effect, Fiorina’s performance in the first debate is wiped out.

Was wiped out, that is. This unjust formula has rightly been jettisoned for a more sensible one: Namely, the ten (and possibly more) strongest Republicans according to current, post-Cleveland polls will take the stage in Simi Valley on September 16.  Kudos to CNN for doing the right thing and rectifying a glaring, correctable wrong.  An even bigger tip of the cap is due to the Fiorina campaign, which effectively turned up the heat and forced the change.  When her polling position didn't earn her a spot at Fox News' debate in Ohio, Carly's team didn't whine about the decision. She hadn't earned it, they said, and she'd do her best to distinguish herself at the so-called 'undercard' debate.  Fiorina proceeded to do precisely that, winning universal praise as the exchange's decisive winner.  Having subsequently shot up in national and early state surveys, Fiorina's campaign recognized that CNN's pre-determined regulations relied on front-loaded polling that didn't reflect the shifting landscape.  Adopting new tactics, they went on offense, alleging that CNN and the Republican National Committee were conspiring to protect flawed, outmoded rules.  Their relentless, targeted, savvy strategy pushed all the right anti-establishment buttons, culminating in yesterday's petition signed by 250 prominent supporters demanding a change.  Within hours, CNN announced its revamped system.  Fiorina's deputy campaign manager declared victory on Twitter:

The campaign emailed a statement from Fiorina herself to those Townhall readers who helped push for this change: "We are so grateful for the support of Townhall readers for helping us challenge the political establishment and send out the message of grassroots activists from around the country," the former CEO said.  And thus concludes a political masterstroke: Fiorina avoided petty griping prior to the first debate, performed brilliantly on the smaller stage, gained in stature, framed a resulting struggle as a battle against the entrenched establishment, cultivated and mobilized allies -- and won.  The rest of the GOP field could learn a lot from Carly's example.  Now that she's achieved this goal (which may come at the expense of Rand Paul or Chris Christie), the pressure is now on for her to perform under the bright lights.  Fiorina -- whose unremittingfocused criticism of Hillary Clinton has won plaudits among conservatives -- also unleashed one of the more cutting lines about GOP frontrunner Donald Trump in Cleveland.  He responded in characteristically ad hominem fashion:

Now the two will have an opportunity to tangle face-to-face, and Carly will have a platform from which to introduce herself to a much wider audience.  This month's CNN forum is co-sponsored by Townhall's parent company, Salem Media Group.  Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt will join CNN's team to pose questions to the assembled candidates.

Again: Arrests Being Made, Protesters Blocking Traffic at Freddie Gray Pre-trial Hearing in Baltimore

April 27, 2015 is a night Baltimore police want to forget. Protests erupted throughout the city after a young African-American male, Freddie Gray, died in the hands of police custody. Reports that he was treated harshly angered citizens, who let law enforcement know how they feel by throwing rocks at them, torching cop cars and local businesses - all in the name of "justice." Wednesday, a pre-trial hearing is taking place in downtown Baltimore and police are already bracing for the worst - again.

Outside of the Baltimore court house, activists are chanting slogans and holding "Justice 4 Freddie Gray" signs. Fox5DC spoke to one demonstrator and asked why he was spending his Wednesday morning at the hearing:

"We're not going to sleep on injustice," he said. "We want justice for all the victims of police brutality."

Other activists were not so calm. Social media users at the scene are taking snapshots of protesters who are blocking traffic.

Because of these activists' disruption, arrests are already being made, reports Fox 45.

Earlier this year, Baltimore State Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced Mr. Gray's death was a homicide and that her administration would be filing criminal charges against the six police officers in question. Today's trial will focus on two particular motions: Whether Mosby is guilty of prosecutorial misconduct and the charges against the officers should be dropped, and if she and her office should be recused from the case.

Updates to come.

Update: It looks like the criminal charges against the six police officers are staying put.

Exposing The Black Lives Matter Movement For What It Is: Promotion of Cop Killing

It's time to expose the Black Lives Matter [BLM] movement for what it is: a racist, violent hate group that promotes the execution of police officers. The evidence is in their rhetoric and written on their shirts.

If you take a look at the Black Lives Matter Twitter feed, you'll find photos of activists wearing shirts that say, "Assata Taught Me." 

They're referring to infamous cop killer Assata Shakur, otherwise known as Joanne Chesimard, who shot and killed a New Jersey State Trooper back in 1973. In 1977, Shakur was convicted and sentenced to prison but quickly escaped and has been a fugitive in Cuba ever since. She's also on the FBI's most wanted terrorism list. BLM glorifies Shakur as a hero and uses her writings and materials during training sessions. Lee Stranahan has more

BlackLivesMatter—the activist group that demands a “racial justice agenda” that includes constant criticism and activism against police—invokes the words of convicted cop killer Assata Shakur at “all its events.”
At a recent event for female bloggers, BlackLivesMatter leaders had a crowd of thousands repeating lines from a letter written by Shakur that include an explicit reference to the Communist Manifesto.
The BlackLivesMatter group, which has met with President Obama and largely been given a free pass by the media, has skyrocketed to national prominence after its involvement with unrest and rioting in Ferguson, Baltimore, and a recent takeover of events the Netroots Nation conference for progressive Democrats in Phoenix, Arizona.
Assata Shakur, who has been living in exile in Cuba for over thirty years, is a hero to communist revolutionaries for her involvement in the 1960s and 1970s with a violent, criminal Black Panther Party offshoot called the Black Liberation Army. Shakur and the group robbed several banks as a revolutionary act and eventually killed a New Jersey State Trooper with his own gun after a highway stop in 1973.

Former Black Panther Party member Kathleen Cleaver, who is a supporter of Shakur, is "thrilled" about the BLM movement. 

TR: So what do you think of Black Lives Matter?
KC: I’m thrilled to see such concern for the community. I think Black Lives Matter is exhilarating, exciting, and I’m really glad that it’s here. 

Now, onto those who condone this behavior and the rhetoric being used. 

Not only have the leaders of the Democrat Party refused to condemn the movement, they've desperately tried to embrace it. In the age of Obama, where Democrats thrive on division and embrace a racial justice narrative, this isn't surprising. 

Last week at the DNC summer meeting in Minneapolis, a resolution was passed in solidarity with the movement. BLM later rejected it.

"The DNC joins with Americans across the country in affirming ‘Black lives matter’ and the ‘say her name’ efforts to make visible the pain of our fellow and sister Americans as they condemn extrajudicial killings of unarmed African American men, women and children," the solidarity resolution states.

The day after the resolution was passed, BLM activists in Minneapolis chanted, "pigs in a blanket, fry em' like bacon," as they marched down the street. This rhetoric also came just one day after the execution of Texas Sheriff Deputy Daron Goforth while he was filling up his patrol car at a local gas station. If you aren't familiar, "pigs in a blanket" refers to the bodies of dead police officers in body bags. 

Last night I made an appearance on The Kelly File to discuss BLM (the segment wasn't cut short, we just ran out of time). 

Despite Richard Fowler's claims that he's "watching a different Black Lives Matter movement," we aren't and the calls for police executions are not isolated incidents (he also lied about the Tea Party connection to the Tucson shooting of former Congresswoman Gabriel Giffords, there wasn't a connection as he claims but that's a topic for a other post). In December the man who killed two NYPD officers while they were eating lunch in their patrol car posted on his Instagram page, "Going to put pigs in a blanket" before carrying out his killings. In Ferguson when news of the NYPD slayings hit, BLM protestors chanted and celebrated, "Pigs in a blanket!" We saw the same over the weekend in Minneapolis. This isn't happening in one place, it's happening around the country. BLM activists are using their own words and inspiration from convicted cop killers to promote the assassination of police officers. 

Finally, it's important to point out two-thirds of the African American community flat out reject BLM or strongly disagree with the movement's tactics. From the Washington Post

The baby boomers who drove the success of the civil rights movement want to get behind Black Lives Matter, but the group’s confrontational and divisive tactics make it difficult. In the 1960s, activists confronted white mobs and police with dignity and decorum, sometimes dressing in church clothes and kneeling in prayer during protests to make a clear distinction between who was evil and who was good.

But at protests today, it is difficult to distinguish legitimate activists from the mob actors who burn and loot. The demonstrations are peppered with hate speech, profanity, and guys with sagging pants that show their underwear. Even if the BLM activists aren’t the ones participating in the boorish language and dress, neither are they condemning it.

"It's a racist movement, racist to the core...denounce the Black Lives Movement and replace it with All Lives Matter."

Los Angeles Awarded US Bid for 2024 Olympics

Following the death of Boston's 2024 bid, the United States Olympic Committee has awarded the bid to Los Angeles on Tuesday afternoon.

Los Angeles had been the runner-up during the previous bidding process eight months ago.

Los Angeles' city council voted unanimously to support the bid. Other bids for the 2024 games include Rome and Paris.

The city last hosted the Summer Olympics in 1984. The IOC will announce their decision of the 2024 host in 2017.

Shocker: Obama Admin Sides With Planned Parenthood in Lawsuit

The battle over state funding for Planned Parenthood in Louisiana is heating up, after the Obama administration on Tuesday sided with the abortion giant in their lawsuit against the state.

The AP reports:

The U.S. Justice Department told a federal judge that Gov. Bobby Jindal's decision to oust Planned Parenthood from Louisiana's Medicaid program appears to violate federal law by denying Medicaid patients the right to choose their health care providers.

In a court filing, the agency said the Jindal administration hasn't offered "sufficient reasons" to keep Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast's clinics in New Orleans and Baton Rouge from receiving Medicaid payments.

Removing Planned Parenthood from the Medicaid program "without providing any justification related to (the organization's) qualifications to provide medical services would violate Louisiana's obligations under the Medicaid statute's 'free choice of provider' provision," the Justice Department wrote.

Jindal made the decision to pull funding after numerous undercover videos came out showing the group’s practices selling aborted babies’ body parts.

His administration maintains that the move was perfectly legal. According to what Jindal’s spokesman, Mike Reed, has previously argued, “The Medicaid provider contract between the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals and Planned Parenthood gives either party the right to cancel the contract at will with a 30-day notice. Governor Jindal and DHH chose to exercise that right to cancel.”

But the DOJ disagrees with this claim.

[T]he Justice Department called that claim "wholly without merit," saying Louisiana cannot rely on a state law to justify Planned Parenthood's ousting, but must show that the clinics aren't able to perform Medicaid services or properly bill for them.

Louisiana can't simply argue that the providers agreed in state contracts that they can be removed "at-will" and give up any right to sue when removed because they signed the arrangements, the Justice Department said.

"States do not have unfettered discretion to determine that a provider is not 'qualified' for purposes of federal Medicaid law," the agency wrote.

Regardless, Jindal is standing by his decision over the funding.

“President Obama is so committed to protecting Planned Parenthood’s baby harvesting operation that he sent his lawyers from the Department of Justice all the way to Baton Rouge to sue me and try to stop us from canceling these contracts,” a statement on his campaign website reads. “President Obama won’t watch the videos but he’ll take time to file a lawsuit. Well, I’ve got news for him. We are not backing down.”

Urban Areas Seeing Spikes In Homicides

Things are getting bloody in America’s cities. Homicide rates are spiking in many U.S. cities. There are different factors that are contributing to the violence, one of them being stringent anti-gun laws, which keep law-abiding citizens disarmed and vulnerable while the criminal element’s access remains unmolested. Yet, The New York Times reported that one of the demographics driving the spike in murder rates isn’t out of the ordinary. It’s young men relying on violence to settle disputes:

Cities across the nation are seeing a startling rise in murders after years of declines, and few places have witnessed a shift as precipitous as this city. With the summer not yet over, 104 people have been killed this year — after 86 homicides in all of 2014.

More than 30 other cities have also reported increases in violence from a year ago. In New Orleans, 120 people had been killed by late August, compared with 98 during the same period a year earlier. In Baltimore, homicides had hit 215, up from 138 at the same point in 2014. In Washington, the toll was 105, compared with 73 people a year ago. And in St. Louis, 136 people had been killed this year, a 60 percent rise from the 85 murders the city had by the same time last year.

Law enforcement experts say disparate factors are at play in different cities, though no one is claiming to know for sure why murder rates are climbing. Some officials say intense national scrutiny of the use of force by the police has made officers less aggressive and emboldened criminals, though many experts dispute that theory.

Rivalries among organized street gangs, often over drug turf, and the availability of guns are cited as major factors in some cities, including Chicago. But more commonly, many top police officials say they are seeing a growing willingness among disenchanted young men in poor neighborhoods to use violence to settle ordinary disputes.

The Baltimore Sun had a profile piece on all of the 45 murders that occurred in July, which made that month one of the deadliest in the city’s history. Things have become so bad that federal agents are now working with Baltimore homicide units to curb the violence:

Taylor Street and Delvin Trusty began dating in high school after he sent her a message on social media. They attended prom together, and three years later were expecting their first child.

When she gave birth this month, she was surrounded with support, including Trusty's parents and brother, and her mother, sister and cousin — but not Trusty.

Their daughter, a 9-pound, 11-ounce girl named Avah, was born one month to the day that Trusty was gunned down in Northeast Baltimore. "I text his phone still," Street said. "I send pictures of the baby."

Trusty was among 45 people killed in Baltimore in July, a toll that matched the deadliest month in the city's modern history and came amid a surge in violent crime surge that followed Freddie Gray's death. The last time 45 people were killed in one month was in August 1972, when the city had about 275,000 more residents.

This year Washington D.C. has already surged passed the total number of homicides committed in 2014. So far, the International Business Times  reported that the District has seen a 45 percent increase in homicides, prompting Mayor Muriel Bowser to put “all hands on deck” to combat the rising homicide rates. The article mentioned that officers in administrative roles will be put back on patrol duty, and that the city’s homicide rate is still well below the grim milestone of 479 murders that was reached in 1991.

The Washington Post’s is tracking the number of homicides in the Washington area, which is currently at 172, 105 of which were in the District of Columbia.

Let’s hope law enforcement and community outreach/cooperation can reverse the trend. At the same time, it’s not all doom and gloom. Overall, America is still less violent than it was 20 years ago.

MSNBC Doesn't Really Understand Catholicism

Today, Pope Francis announced that during the Jubilee Year of Mercy, all priests will be permitted to lift excommunications for procuring an abortion to those who seek forgiveness for this sin.

In the letter Pope Francis specifically turns his attention to women who have resorted to abortion and “bear the scar of this agonizing and painful decision” saying the forgiveness of God cannot be denied to one who has repented. “For this reason – he writes - I have decided to concede to all priests for the Jubilee Year the discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it”.

As my colleague Ed Morrissey over at Hot Air explained, while this is certainly a big deal for the global Church, priests in the United States (with the exception of the Diocese of Lincoln, whose bishop retained the faculty) have been able to lift excommunications incurred after procuring an abortion with permission from the bishop since the mid-1980s.

The Catholic Church considers abortion to be a crime and a sin. The punishment for the crime is a latae sententiae (automatic) excommunication as the person is no longer in communion with the Catholic Church. To lift this excommunication, a priest would have to refer the matter to a bishop--in a general sense, to avoid breaking the seal of confession--but in the United States the majority of bishops have already extended permission to their priests to lift the excommunication without needing to refer it to him. Now, Pope Francis extended that same permission to every priest in the world during the next year.

But none of this matters for MSNBC, who apparently has no observant Catholics on its staff.

First they came up with this:

Which is not even close to what Pope Francis actually said.

Their next attempt was certainly more click-baity, but not much better:

Again, for the majority of American Catholics, nothing changed today. While I think it's certainly a positive to both remind people that abortion incurs an excommunication from the Church and to remind women and men who have procured abortions that there is a way to absolve this sin, the media coverage of the Bishop of Rome's announcement likely caused more questions and confusions than necessary. The media's job is to inform the public about events, not confuse or outright lie.

CNN Changes Debate Critera--Fiorina Probably in the "Big Kids" Debate

CNN has amended the debate criteria for its September 16 Republican primary debate. This change means that it's nearly certain that Carly Fiorina will be included in the primetime debate in two weeks.

CNN is amending the criteria for its Republican presidential debate on September 16, possibly opening the door for Carly Fiorina to join the other top-tier candidates on the stage.

The cause: a lack of national public polling following the August 6 debate has so far provided only three new polls to determine the lineup for the Reagan Presidential Debate, according to a CNN statement.

As a result, CNN reevaluated its criteria and decided to add a provision that better reflects the state of the race since the first Republican presidential debate in August, the network announced Tuesday.

Now, any candidate who ranks in the top 10 in polling between August 6 and September 10 will be included.

Fiorina jumped in the polls following her dominant performance in the "happy hour" debate of lower-polling candidates on August 6. Still, despite the jump, it looked unlikely for Fiorina to make the stage for the CNN debate. Today's amendment changed that.

Kate Steinle's Family to Sue ICE After Murder: 'The System Failed My Sister'

Kate Steinle's family is seeking justice in their daughter's premature death at the hands of an illegal immigrant. Francisco Sanchez, an illegal immigrant who'd been arrested and deported multiple times, should never have been allowed to walk on the Embarcadero. Yet, our porous border and weak customs enforcement allowed Sanchez to reenter the United States and go on a shooting spree the same night Steinle happened to be walking along a San Francisco pier with her dad. She died in her dad's arms.

Now, her parents are suing the city's sheriff, Ross Mirkarimi, along with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and The Bureau of Land Management for not doing more to prevent a criminal like Sanchez from coming back across the border. Her mom, Liz Sullivan, said the tragedy demands action:

"Everyone can’t keep saying this is the way it is — it isn’t the way it has to be. We have to stand up and say we’re mad as hell we’re not going to take it anymore,” Sullivan said.

In their lawsuit, the Steinle family is likely to specifically target sanctuary city policies like the one in place in San Francisco. These policies prohibit city employees from partnering with federal authorities to investigate or punish illegal immigrants. In jail, Sanchez admitted San Francisco's sanctuary city status enticed him to locate there. Sheriff Mirkarimi reportedly had Sanchez in custody, and released him without alerting ICE.

Several government agencies' lack of oversight led to Steinle's death, her family insisted at a press conference in front of San Francisco City Hall on Tuesday.

"We're frustrated and we're here to make sure that a change is made so that no one has to endure the pain my mom, dad and I go through on a daily basis because the system failed our sister," said Kate Steinle's brother, Brad, in between sobs. 

Politicians and pundits alike have challenged these dangerous sanctuary city laws. In July, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly first called on Congress to pass Kate's Law, which would give a mandatory five-year prison sentence to any illegal immigrant with a criminal past who reenters the US. Univision reporter Jorge Ramos, for some irrational reason, said that suggestion was 'unfair.'

A judge is expected to push the case forward on Thursday.

WATCH: Sheriff David Clarke Takes on Cop Killer Advocate on CNN

In case you missed it last night, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke made an appearance on CNN with cop killer advocate and CNN commentator Marc Lamont Hill to discuss the recent execution of Harris County Sheriff Deputy Daron Goforth at a Houston area gas station.

Sheriff Clarke is holding the #BlackLivesMatter responsible for fueling a war on cops with their rhetoric. Over the weekend, #BlackLivesMatter activists in Minnesota chanted, "Pigs in a blanket, fry em' like bacon."

"This is part of a pattern now. You would have to stick your head in the sand to think that this thing here wasn't fueled by this vile, vulgar, slimy movement," Clarke said.

Lamont Hill has refused to condemn the #BlackLivesMatter movement, which isn't surprising given his history of co-writing a book with convicted cop killer Mumia abu Jamal and openly defending cop-killer Christopher Dorner by upholding him as "exciting" and a "superhero." 

Watch below: 

Law-Abiding Foster Parents Lose Kids Because They Own A Firearm

Meet Kristi and Rod Beber; they’re foster parents who have cared for over 100 children and live in the Las Vegas, Nevada area. After waking to a domestic dispute on their property on the night of April 3, Kristi called 911 and Rod grabbed his legally owned firearm, according to local NBC-affiliate station KSNS:

“You want to protect your family and your house,” Rod said. “As a (Conceal and Carry a Weapon card) holder, one of the first things you want to do is take control of the situation.”

The incident ended when police arrived. A report was taken, no one arrested and no one was charged – but that wasn't the end. Three months later, the Department of Family Services pulled the Bebers’ foster license.

The agency told the Bebers in documents that "the incident did not describe an adult exercising sound judgment." And it cited a law that forbids any foster parent from having a loaded firearm in their home, regardless of the situation.

KSNS also added that the law changed in Nevada in June, which allows foster parents to own firearms and keep them loaded for self-defense. Introduced in the state legislature on February 17, AB167 says explicitly “Authorizes the storage and carrying of firearms and ammunition on the premises of a family foster home or by certain persons who reside in a family foster home under certain circumstances.” The Bebers intend to fight the decision. 

It passed the State Assembly by a 26-15 vote, and the State Senate by a 16-3 margin. On June 10, Gov. Brian Sandoval signed it into law.

Shots Fired: Jeb Slams Trump, Walker Hits Jeb in New Attack Ads

Round One - Team Jeb makes the (strong) case that Donald Trump doesn't even remotely resemble a reliable, principled, constitutional conservative:

This spot barely scratches the surface of Trump's ideological fluctuations, but it highlights the tycoon's...flexibility on any number of matters. But will this hurt Trump one iota with his conservative fans? Doubtful. They're willing to dismiss Trump's left-wing record on gun control, race-based affirmative action (which he still supports), and even his signature issue of immigration. So what if he's talking about putting his abortion activist sister on the Supreme Court? Policy does not lie at the heart of Trump's appeal. It's his larger-than-life personality and take-no-prisoners attitude that excites people. He plays by his own rules, which exude contempt for the political class -- even as he brags about being rather cozy with members of said political class. Tellingly, the latest Iowa poll shows three non-politicians at the top of the heap on the Republican side: Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina. Of those three, Trump is receiving disproportionately high media coverage; he's flooding the zone and taking advantage. Also, I suspect that sniping from the Bush campaign (even if they're simply returning fire) is unlikely to dissuade Trump supporters -- or too many other conservative voters, for that matter. If it were someone like Ted Cruz shining a spotlight on Trump's long history of supporting liberal candidates and ideas, and not just in the past, that might be another story. But Bush is the flag-carrying candidate of the monied GOP establishment, against which many Republican voters are openly revolting:

The fact that it's Bush who's training his fire on Trump probably empowers Trump all the more, while also indicating that Jeb and company see the billionaire celebrity as a threat. Advantage: Trump.  Round Two -- Scott Walker is out with a new spot assailing the terrible Iran deal and whacking Jeb's opposition to it as weak and nebulous:

It's on. Six months until Iowa.

Illinois Police Officer Shot and Killed, Manhunt Underway

A police officer in Fox Lake, Illinois has reportedly been shot and killed, according to multiple media outlets.

The officer was pursuing three suspects for “suspicious activity.” When he radioed for backup just before 8 a.m., he was in a foot pursuit when communication was then lost. The responding officer can be heard on the scanner saying, “…send everybody you possibly can … officer is down …”

Lake County Sheriff’s Det. Chris Covelli said at a morning news conference that the officer was found with a gunshot wound, and later confirmed he had died.

As a result, a manhunt is underway for the three suspects—two white males and an African-American male—who may have taken the officer’s firearm and pepper spray, according to unconfirmed dispatch reports, CBS Chicago reports. K-9 units and helicopters have been deployed to help with the search.

Several schools in the area are on lockdown and people are being told to remain indoors.

This shooting comes just days after a law enforcement officer was executed at a Houston-area gas station while filling up his patrol car.

Townhall will provide updates as they come in. 


Update: Video from the press conference: 

Update: The slain policeman has been identified as Charles Joseph Gliniewicz. He was the father of four boys and a veteran, reports Fox 32 News.

Gerrymandering Gives Missouri College Student Sole Vote On Policy

In principle, there’s nothing wrong with gerrymandering. The process of creating congressional districts that are more favorable to the party in charge is to be expected. Gerrymandering is often blamed for the increasing partisan politics in Washington, though that’s probably due to the toxic nature of President Obama and his policies. The Washington Post published three articles that undercut the anti-gerrymandering narrative, with The Fix’s Philip Bump writing, “the idea that we've moved away from some golden era of hard-fought contests between cigar-chompin' politicians simply isn't true.”

George Washington University’s John Sides wrote in 2013 that gerrymandering gave no advantage to Republicans during the 2010 midterms. He was comparing the 2010 and 2012 results in this context.

“If we assume that nothing else affects House election outcomes but the partisanship of the districts—in other words, if we allow redistricting to have its maximum possible effect—we find that the 2011 redistricting cost Democrats 7 seats in 2012,” he wrote.

Yet, in Missouri, it’s not wonky data crunching that makes gerrymandering interesting. It’s the fact that a single college student has the sole vote in whether a sales tax will be increased (via Columbia Daily Tribune):

A mistake by representatives of the Business Loop 70 Community Improvement District means a sales tax increase the district needs to thrive will require approval by a single University of Missouri student.

On Feb. 28, Jen Henderson, 23, became the sole registered voter living within the community improvement district, or CID, meaning she is the only person who would vote on a half-cent sales tax increase for the district.

The Columbia City Council established the district on a 5-2 vote in April in response to a petition from a group of property owners in the CID boundaries. The “qualified voters” in a CID are capable of levying various taxes or assessments within the boundaries of the district to fund improvement projects. Under state law, decisions to impose sales taxes in a CID are to be made by registered voters living in the district boundaries. If no such registered voters are present, property owners vote.

Many homes surrounding the university-owned property where Henderson resides were not included in the district when it was drawn because district organizers wanted a district free of residents.

In other words, it’s as if the movie "Swing Vote," starring Kevin Costner, actually came true but on a much, much smaller scale.

Judge: No, Gov. Wolf–You Can’t Just Gut Charter School Funding

Last week supporters of school choice won a victory in Pennsylvania, where a judge ruled that Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf couldn’t just gut funding to charter schools in order to balance the books for a struggling school district in Delaware County. Wolf intended to cut $24 million to the charter schools in the Chester Upland School District, but Judge Chad Kenney found the Wolf administration’s reasoning for cutting funding “wholly inadequate,” as reported by Watchdog’s Evan Grossman:

School choice advocates won a victory in court this week when a Delaware County judge rejected Gov. Tom Wolf’s plan to de-fund charter schools in the cash-strapped Chester Upland School District.

As a means to mend the district’s bleeding budget, Wolf proposed slashing special education funding to Chester Upland charters and other cost-cutting actions. Judge Chad Kenney ruled late Tuesday night Wolf’s proposal to slash $24 million in charter school funding was “wholly inadequate” and found the state’s lawyers offered a flimsy argument for doing so.


Blocking the state from going after charters to achieve cost savings will have a ripple effect across Pennsylvania, especially in larger, fiscally challenged districts like Philadelphia, home to most of the state’s charter schools.

While Kenney ended plans to de-fund charter schools in Chester Upland, he upheld Wolf’s recommendations to put financial experts in place to solve the financial challenges the district faces — including initiating a forensic audit, bringing in a financial turnaround specialist to find immediate savings, and restructuring a loan agreement with the Department of Education.

Wolf has not hidden that fact that he wants a strong Pennsylvanian public school system. His current budget is currently having trouble getting passed in the Republican-controlled state legislature, which prompted the DEFCON-1-like response in Delaware County.

In March, Grossman reported that Wolf made good on his promise to increase education funding by $1 billion, but charter school advocates also noted that it also included cuts to cyber charter schools.

In North Carolina, their cyber charter school program has already met its 1,500-member cap in what will be a four-year program that could expand if proven to be successful (WECT):

Some North Carolina students will make history when they return to school in the coming weeks. They won’t set foot in a classroom - instead, they’ll learn from home as part of the state’s new virtual charter school pilot program.

Charter schools receive state funding and are governed by non-profit organizations, which sometimes contract with private management companies to run daily operations.

Lawmakers instructed the State Board of Education to launch the four-year program in the upcoming school year. The pilot could be altered or expanded after the trial run.

Two schools received the green light. Both plan to eventually serve students through 12th grade. They can have 1,500 students this year and grow to 2,592 by the fourth year.


NC Connections Academy (NCCA) will open with students in kindergarten through 9th grade. Connections Education, part of the Pearson company, will serve as the management contractor.


NCCA has already met its 1,500 student cap and is keeping a waiting list, a spokewoman said. The school has 59 students from New Hanover, Brunswick, Pender, Columbus and Bladen counties.

At the same time, cyber charter schools aren't necessarily a successful alternative. The Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School announced that they were cutting 43 jobs due to a decline in enrollment. The Agora Cyber Charter School produced rather awful results, according to a 2011 report by The New York Times

The National Collegiate Athletic Association announced in April of 2014 that they were no longer accepting coursework from 24 virtual charter schools. In 2013, Colorado Virtual Academy (COVA) was forced to reorganize after poor results, and Tennessee's Virtual Academy was forced to close in 2014 due to similar poor academic performances. 

Nevertheless, who's to say that targeting cyber charter schools' poor academic performance can't be used to attack school choice overall.