Obama Jets Off To Climate Change Summit in Fossil Fuel Powered Air Force One

In what he called a "powerful rebuke" to ISIS terrorists, President Obama is in Paris today for the COP21 summit on climate change

The meeting goes by several names - the United Nations Climate Summit, the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, or COP21, which stands for the 21st meeting of the Conference of Parties that are part of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change. The first COP meeting took place in Berlin in 1995, and the most famous of these was COP3, which resulted in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

A 2009 conference in Copenhagen failed to produce a meaningful agreement, so world leaders are trying again to jumpstart the negotiations.

About 150 world leaders and than more than 40,000 delegates representing 195 countries will attend the conference in Paris.

Naturally, Obama flew to the summit in Air Force One, which burns approximately five gallons of jet fuel per mile at a cost of more than $200,000 per hour. The trip will leave nearly 100 tons of carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere. 

Obama, who left the United States yesterday, has a series of meetings planned with a number of different leaders from around the world. Despite a number of scientists remaining skeptical about the science behind climate change and a series of scandals involving the cooking of numbers to "prove" global warming over the years, as far as we can tell climate change skeptics were not invited to the summit to offer a different point of view.

I should also note that golfing is President Obama's favorite past time, which of course is not an environmentally friendly activity.

Nutella Refuses to Make Personalized Jar for Girl Named "Isis"

In Australia, one is able to purchase a personalized label for a jar of Nutella, the popular chocolate and hazelnut spread. Unless, apparently, someone is trying to purchase a label for a person named Isis. A woman in Australia found this out the hard way, when she was told that she would not be allowed to purchase a personalized jar for her five-year-old niece, Isis Taylor. Her niece was named after the Egyptian goddess, and was born years before the creation of the Islamic State.

Despite pleas to Ferrero Australia to please reconsider and print the label, the company stood firm and will not budge due to the "sensitive nature" of the name.

Myer told Ms Taylor that Nutella had a protocol for acceptable names and directed her to Nutella's parent company, Ferrero Australia.

Ferrero chief executive Craig Barker personally contacted her the next day to stand by the company's position.

"I'm really quite upset by this," Ms Taylor told him. "You are actually making my daughter's name dirty. You are choosing to refuse my daughter's name in case the public refers to it negatively."

The Nutella campaign, which allows fans of the hazelnut spread to personalise a 750 gram or one kilogram jar, was launched in September. In a statement, Ferrero Australia confirmed the label in question was not approved for printing due to its sensitive nature.

"Like all campaigns, there needs to be consistency in the way terms and conditions are applied," the company said. "Unfortunately, this has meant there have been occasions where a label has not been approved on the basis that it could have been misinterpreted by the broader community or viewed as inappropriate."

This is ridiculous. The name "Isis" dates back to over 2,000 B.C., and the Islamic State was founded in 2013. Isis Taylor was not named after the group, and it's a fairly safe assumption that her mother would have chosen a different name had ISIS (the group) existed in its current form during her pregnancy. This child, and thousands of other people who are named "Isis," shouldn't be punished or encouraged to change their names because a group of terrorists decided to adopt their names as their moniker. "Isis" as a name has been used for thousands of years for peaceful purposes--it should not be controversial.

Disturbing: 57 Paris Airport Workers Are On Terror Watch List

The Nov. 13 terror attacks in Paris has forced France to examine its security policies, including at the Charles de Gaulle Airport, where it was recently discovered that 57 employees who had access to airplanes and runways were on a terror watch list.

Now, the security passes of 86,000 workers at the Paris airport will be reviewed, according to a report by the Sunday Times of London.

Police carried out extensive searches of the airport under state-of-emergency powers after the Nov. 13 Paris attacks in which 130 people were killed and 350 injured by Islamic State militants.

Belgium, where several of the Paris attackers had lived, also has pulled security badges from several airport workers after discovering that some had links to jihadis who had traveled to Syria.

Meanwhile, anxiety has been brewing about radicalism among bus, Metro and railroad workers.

Samy Amimour, who blew himself up in the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, managed to get a job as a bus driver while on a watch list.

The recent finding of Arabic graffiti on four planes at two French airports, including one that had “Allahu Akbar” written on a fuel tank hatch, has only increased security concerns. While the graffiti in and of itself is not harmful, it raises serious questions about who has access to restricted airport locations. 

Planned Parenthood Thanks 'Scandal' For Abortion Episode

ABC's "Scandal" lived up to its name last week when main character Olivia Pope decided to get an abortion during the show's winter finale. Planned Parenthood was one of the first to sing the show's praises:

Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards offered her own statement, thanking producer Shonda Rhimes for doing her organization a service.

"Tonight, the millions of people who tune into Scandal every Thursday night learned that our rights to reproductive health care is under attack...Never one to shy away from critical issues, Shonda Rhimes used her platform to tell the world that if Planned Parenthood lost funding for contraception conseling, STI testing, cancer screenings and safe, legal abortion — millions of people would suffer."

Nowhere in Rhimes' script was a monologue explaining how thousands of lifesaving pregnancy centers are available to women throughout the country to meet their maternal needs. The misleading notion that women would have no access to healthcare as a result of defunding Planned Parenthood is just too good a plot for Hollywood to pass up. 

The Federalist points out that Shonda Rhimes has often used her ABC dramas to promote abortion.

On “Grey’s Anatomy,” Cristina Yang decided to abort her husband’s child over his objections. The reasoning was sloppy at best—mostly for convenience and to hurt her husband by declaring he did not deserve a say in the fate of his own child. Rhimes’s spin-off, “Private Practice,” spent numerous storylines allowing OB/GYN Addison Montgomery to pontificate about abortion and even agree to abort a 19-week-old baby despite the objections of the ostensibly “pro-life” partial owner of the practice.

Rhimes knows her primetime hits are perfect opportunities to politicize a controversial issue.

As if the "Scandal" scene wasn't disturbing enough, producers chose to play the song "Silent Night" in the background as Pope went through with the procedure.

Putin Places Sanctions On Turkey Over Jet Downing

Russian President Vladimir Putin called for sanctions against Turkey on Saturday after they downed a Russian jet earlier in the week.

The sanctions include a ban on some goods and labor contract extensions for Turks working in Russia, according to The Associated Press. It does not include specifics on what goods are to be banned.

The decree also calls for an end to chartered flights from Russia to Turkey as well as for Russian tourism firms to halt sales of vacation packages that include a stay in Turkey.

The incident has sharpened Russian-Turkish tensions over the four-year civil war in Syria, where Syrian President Bashar Assad's backers, Russia and Iran, have clashed with the U.S.-led international coalition against ISIS.

The move comes on the heels of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressing remorse about bringing the aircraft down, saying his government is “really saddened” by it. He did not offer a formal apology, however—something Moscow demanded.  

Erdogan said he hoped the incident wouldn’t escalate and lead to “saddening consequences.”

"We are truly saddened by this incident," he continued. "We wish it hadn't happened as such, but unfortunately such a thing has happened. I hope that something like this doesn't occur again."

Putin’s administration said the incident was a “stab in the back” and has refused to meet with Erdogan. 

CIA: We Should Not Bomb Certain ISIS Targets Because it May Harm Environment

Former CIA director Michael Morell said last week that the White House has hampered the intelligence community's ability to attack oil fields and oil trucks controlled by ISIS.  Morell said that, “we didn’t go after oil wells, actually hitting oil wells that ISIS controls, because we didn’t want to do environmental damage, and we didn’t want to destroy that infrastructure."  He went on to say that there was a pretentious feeling in the war room that bombing ISIS oil targets would indeed cause environmental damage.  

On November 18th, Colonel Steve Warren said that striking oil trucks owned by ISIS may cause harm to the drivers who may be innocent.  

So, this is a decision that we had to make. We have not struck these trucks before. We assessed that these trucks, while although they are being used for operations that support ISIL, the truck drivers, themselves, probably not members of ISIL; they're probably just civilians. So we had to figure out a way around that.

An entire script of Colonel Steve Warren's press briefing can be viewed here.  

'Enough Is Enough': Obama Calls For More Gun Control in Wake of Shooting

President Obama has called for more gun control in the wake of the shooting at a Planned Parenthood location in Colorado.

“The last thing Americans should have to do, over the holidays or any day, is comfort the families of people killed by gun violence,” Obama said in a statement on Saturday.

While acknowledging the motive is still unknown, he said the situation was “not normal” and “we can’t let it become normal.”

“If we truly care about this—if we’re going to offer up our thoughts and prayers again, for God knows how many times, with a truly clean conscience—then we have to do something about the easy accessibility of weapons of war on our streets to people who have no business wielding them. Period. Enough is enough.”

Three people, including Officer Garrett Swasey, died in the shooting. 

Saudi Arabia Threatens to Sue Anyone Who Compares Their Justice System to ISIS

Saudi Arabia is threatening to sue anybody on Twitter who says that their justice system is similar to ISIS. This threat came after it was announced that poet Ashraf Fayadh would be executed for apostasy--which is a capital crime in Saudi Arabia.

Apparently, Saudi Arabian authorities are upset that someone could read a story like this and determine that it sounds similar to the actions of the Islamic State.

From The Independent:

"The justice ministry will sue the person who described ... the sentencing of a man to death for apostasy as being `Isis-like'," a justice ministry source told newspaper Al-Riyadh.

The Kingdom is yet to identify the potential Twitter user, or specify a possible penalty.

"Questioning the fairness of the courts is to question the justice of the Kingdom and its judicial system based on Islamic law, which guarantees rights and ensures human dignity", the source seemingly told the pro-government newspaper.

They claimed the Kingdom’s courts would not hesitate to put on trial "any media that slandered the religious judiciary of the Kingdom".

An easy way for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to avoid comparisons to ISIS would be to not execute a poet (who claims to be a faithful Muslim) for supposedly renouncing Islam. Additionally, allowing the accused to have legal representation and a fair trial would also be generally regarded as "ensuring human dignity."

Saudi Arabia is the only country that regularly carries out public executions. A total of 152 people have been executed in the country this year.

Down 12 Points, Trump Has Biggest Poll-to-Poll Decline in Months

Is Trump-mentum finally slowing down? While this is only one poll and the GOP establishment is still in panic mode over Trump’s continued lead, a Reuters/Ipsos survey released Friday shows the GOP frontrunner lost 12 points in less than a week, “his largest single poll-to-poll drop since he took the primary lead in July,” The Hill reports.

The rolling poll, which was conducted from Nov. 23 to Nov. 27, still has the real estate mogul at the top, finding favor among 31 percent of Republicans. However, support for Trump is down from a peak of 43 percent, which was registered on Nov. 22.  

Reuters points to some of his recent controversial remarks, which may be to blame for the drop.

The dip follows criticism of Trump for comments he made in the aftermath of the Nov. 13 Paris attacks that killed 130 people and wounded hundreds more.

Following the attacks, Trump told an NBC News reporter that he would support requiring all Muslims within the United States to be registered to a special database, which his critics have likened to the mandatory registration of Jews in Nazi Germany.

Trump has also been criticized for flailing his arms and distorting his speech as he mocked a New York Times reporter, Serge Kovaleski, who is disabled.

Trump mocked the reporter as he defended his unsubstantiated assertion that during the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, he watched on television as "thousands and thousands" of people in New Jersey cheered while the World Trade Center fell.

But it wasn’t only Trump who slipped in the poll. Ben Carson also dropped with only 15 percent of Republicans saying they’d support him.

At more than 8 percent, Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz tied for third place, followed by Gov. Jeb Bush, who came in at 7 percent.

Suspect in Custody After Shooting at Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood UPDATE: Three People Have Died, Shooter Identified

Following a lengthy standoff with police, the suspect in the shooting Friday at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs, Co. has surrendered to police and is in custody. His name and motive have not yet been released.

Eleven people, including a reported five police officers, were injured in the shooting. The standoff began a little after 11:30 a.m. local time and ended just before 5 p.m.

From NBC News:

The gunman walked out of facility just before 5 p.m. local time, and officers took him into custody, officials told NBC News.

Several more people were injured, with the total now at 11, sources familiar with the incident told NBC News.

Police said they could not immediately say whether anyone died.

"At this point I have as many questions as you do," Colorado Springs Police Chief Peter Carey told reporters before heading to the hospital to visit injured officers.

Police are still clearing the building, now a crime scene, to make sure several unidentified items that the gunman brought with him were not dangerous, police said.

The condition of any of the people transported to the hospital was not immediately known.

UPDATE: One officer shot has passed away.

UPDATE: Two more people have died.

UPDATE: The shooter has been identified, per 9News Denver.

Active Shooter Near Planned Parenthood Location in Colorado UPDATE: Suspect Has Surrendered to Police

UPDATE TEN: Eleven people, including five police officers, have been transported to the hospital, per Lt. Catherine Buckley.

UPDATE NINE: CBS News is confirming that the suspect has surrendered to the police and is in custody. The standoff has ended.

UPDATE EIGHT: Per the police scanner, one suspect has reportedly surrendered and reportedly has been detained. Still waiting for official confirmation, and the building still has to be cleared.

UPDATE SEVEN: Per Lt. Catherine Buckley of the CSPD, there is one suspect, and his identity has not been confirmed. He brought several items with him in duffel bags inside and outside of the Planned Parenthood, and the scene is still considered to be "active." Civilians are being evacuated. The events started at the Planned Parenthood and it is "too soon" to determine a motive for the suspect. The total number of casualties is not known. The shooter is still firing on officers, and a fifth officer is possibly injured.

UPDATE SIX: KRDO is saying that four police officers and five civilians have been injured.

UPDATE FIVE: Civilians inside the Planned Parenthood are being rescued by the SWAT team. Reports suggest that several people so far have emerged from the clinic and are reportedly uninjured.

UPDATE FOUR: The shooter may not be contained.

UPDATE THREE: Witnesses are saying the shots were fired from Chase Bank, with the suspect then "ducking into" the Planned Parenthood as the police arrived.

Colorado Springs police say the shooter has "no connection" to Planned Parenthood.

UPDATE TWO: The Associated Press is reporting that three officers have been injured, but the shooter has been contained.

UPDATE: It appears that the shooting was "near" the Planned Parenthood location, not "inside." The shooter barricaded himself in the clinic after wounding a police officer outside of an eye care center.


Original post:

Details are rather sparse at the moment, but an active shooter has been reported at a Planned Parenthood location in Colorado Springs, Colo.

One police officer has reportedly been shot in the hand while another one has been hit. Per CBS, the shooter has barricaded himself inside the clinic.

This post will be updated as details emerge.

China Bars Miss World Canada From Entering Country for Pageant

China is set to host the annual Miss World pageant on December 19, in the city of Sanya, on Hainan Island. If the host nation gets its way, one contestant won't be there: Miss World Canada Anastasia Lin, who was barred from entering the nation and was denied a visa by the pageant organizers. She was able to travel to Hong Kong, but was not allowed on her flight to mainland China. Lin is a human rights activist and has spoken out about China's rights abuses and lack of religious freedom, and she believes she is being punished for these views.

Lin released a statement on her Facebook page, and did not hold back from identifying various abuses committed by the Chinese government.

Hi everyone, all of your support has been amazing! Thank you so much. Here is my statement to the press today: As you...

Posted by Anastasia Lin on Thursday, November 26, 2015

Lin was born in China, but moved to Canada when she was 13 and is now a Canadian citizen. Canadian citizens are permitted to obtain a landing visa when they arrive in Sanya.

This is absurd. A country hosting an international competition, be it the Olympics (which China is hosting in 2022), World Cup, or a beauty pageant, should not be barring competitors from entering the country for the event. Shortly after her victory in Miss World Canada, Lin's father, who still lives in China, was harassed by Chinese officials and cut off all contact with her.

Perhaps even more maddening is the Miss World Organization's lack of support for its contestant. Instead of pressuring the host nation to allow Lin into the country for the competition, they have merely offered her the chance to compete in 2016's Miss World finals. The 2016 finals will occur in Seoul.

Instead of barring a beauty queen from entering the nation for telling the truth about the horrors of how Chinese citizens are stripped of basic human rights, maybe China should...stop stripping citizens from their basic human rights. Just a thought.

Unreal: Anti-Gun DC Police Chief Urges Public to ‘Take Down’ Active Gunman If Possible

What should D.C. residents do if confronted with an active shooter situation? According to police chief Chief Cathy L. Lanier, the “best option for saving lives before police can get there” would be for citizens to try to subdue, or even kill, the gunman.

Lanier was asked during a CBS “60 Minutes” interview how people should respond to being near an active gunman, like what happened in Paris earlier this month.

“Your options are run, hide, or fight,” she said. “If you’re in a position to try and take the gunman down, to take the gunman out, it’s the best option for saving lives before police can get there.”

To anyone paying the slightest attention to the fight over gun laws in the District, Lanier’s statement is curious, given that she’s been an outspoken proponent of gun control in D.C., which already has some of the strictest gun laws in the country.  

The District for decades had outlawed handguns until the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the ban in 2008. Since then, city leaders have enacted restrictive laws that are still being challenged in court by gun owners and pro-gun activists.

City regulations allow only those who can demonstrate a “good reason” to need to carry a handgun to be eligible for a concealed-carry permit. Statistics provided by the Metropolitan Police Department indicate that as of Nov. 14, the department has approved 48 permits out of 298 applications. Another 185 have been denied, and the remainder are pending.

“This is sound advice,” said Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, reports The Washington Times. “But considering the draconian gun laws in the District, it will remain difficult, if not impossible, for most private citizens to do what the chief is suggesting.”

The NRA was equally supportive—but perplexed—by Lanier’s “ironic” comments.

“We only hope that this means she will begin to issue concealed-carry permits to law-abiding citizens so they won’t have to ‘take out’ armed terrorists with their bare hands,” said NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker.

Another TSA Fail: Man Nearly Boards Airplane With Stolen Boarding Pass

Between forcing grandmothers to strip, to missing tons of loaded guns, and confiscating Buzz Lightyear toys, the TSA has not been having a banner year in the headlines. That trend continued on Thursday, when a story broke about how earlier in November, a convicted sex offender in Utah using a stolen boarding pass was able to pass through security and nearly made it on to the airplane.

From AP:

Michael Salata, 61, was arrested on Nov. 5 after boarding the Southwest Airlines flight, according to jail records obtained Thursday.

He had grabbed a boarding pass that a woman accidently left at a check-in kiosk and used it to get through a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint, said Craig Vargo, chief of airport police.

"He tried to make it seem like it was a mistake, that the boarding pass printed incorrectly, or that he grabbed the wrong boarding pass," Vargo told the Deseret News, a Salt Lake City newspaper that first reported the story.

It's unclear why the incident was not disclosed by authorities until 20 days after it happened.


Salata was detained after the woman who had left the pass at the kiosk checked in using a replacement ticket that had been uploaded to her phone, Vargo said.

Despite the fact that there's effectively zero chance the name on the ticket was "Michael Salata" (considering it belonged to a woman), the TSA is saying that they didn't do anything else wrong as the man was properly screened and wasn't carrying anything dangerous. Which still isn't comforting--what is the point of having a "no-fly" list or other security measures if the TSA agent can't be bothered to see if the person holding the ticket has an ID that matches the name on the ticket? Salata shouldn't have even gotten to the part of the security process that involves an x-ray screening: he should have been stopped immediately when his name didn't match the one on the ticket. That is security 101.

It's also considerably weird that the incident wasn't reported for nearly three weeks after it occurred. What could they possibly have been waiting for? This is unacceptable.

As a reminder, the TSA has yet to stop a single terrorist.

Man Arrested After Jumping White House Fence

A man wearing an American flag as a cape was arrested on Thursday after successfully jumping the fence to get on to the White House lawn. While he may have stuck the landing, his success was short-lived as he was immediately arrested.

A person outside the White House was able to capture photos of the man's jump and landing:

The Obamas were celebrating Thanksgiving at the White House. The White House was immediately put on lockdown following the jumper's stunt.

No other details about the jumper are currently available. This marks the third time this year that someone has managed to hop the fence to the White House lawn.

DNC Nearing $7 Million in Debt

The Democratic National Committee is in the red when it comes to their operating finances. A new Federal Election Commission report reveals the DNC ended with an $800,000 net loss for October and now has a debt of $6.9 million. 

Here's a breakdown of how the committee got itself into this mess.

Democratic National Committee
Total Receipts $4,456,789.10
Total Contributions $3,574,146.81
Itemized $1,805,991.91
Unitemized $1,768,154.90
Other $0.00
Transfers $850,000.00
Total Expenditures $5,254,928.79
Net -$798,139.69
Beginning Cash On Hand $5,501,325.47
Ending Cash On Hand $4,703,185.78
Beginning Loans/Debts $6,737,445.75
Ending Loans/Debts $6,921,661.33

Meanwhile, the Republican National Committee raised $8.7 million in October, breaking a presidential off-year fundraising record, and has over $20 million cash on hand. 

In a recent statement, RNC Chair Reince Priebus said the party's impressive fundraising is coupled with their ambitious groundwork efforts: 

“We’re hard at work building a data and field infrastructure that will defeat Hillary Clinton, and thousands of enthusiastic voters from across the country have been excited to chip in for that effort.  Our team is hard at work training, recruiting, and registering volunteers and voters in every community and every battleground state.  The RNC is the only organization on either side of the aisle currently running a full-scale General Election field operation, and we’re able to do so thanks to the thousands of supporters who continue to give us a decisive advantage over the Democrat National Committee in preparing to win.”

If the DNC is going to try to keep pace this election season, it better hope it can find someone who knows how to balance a checkbook.

What We're Thankful For: Happy Thanksgiving from the Townhall Team

The editorial team here at Townhall would like to wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving. Here are some of the things we're thankful for in 2015:


Here we are at another Thanksgiving and I am overwhelmed with gratitude for all of my blessings: good health, a loving family, supportive and loyal friends who feel like family, my dog, a warm home, incredible life experiences, fulfilling employment with a great boss, important life experiences, the United States of America and so much more.

I’m especially grateful to my friend Donal Blaney, who graciously hosted me in London this year for the first time. During my trip, I was able to see first hand the important work the Margaret Thatcher Centre is doing to preserve the legacy of the Iron Lady.

As you sit down with your families today, please remember the men and women serving in our armed forces and intelligence communities who won't be at home with theirs, I am certainly grateful for their sacrifice and dedication to keeping us safe. Happy Thanksgiving everybody.

-Katie Pavlich, Editor


I am, as ever, deeply thankful for my loving family, my amazing friends, my good health, my fulfilling career, and my wonderful colleagues at both Townhall and Fox News.  This year has been an eventful one.  I'm grateful for the support and kindness afforded to me by so many in May -- and for those who helped make our fun exhausting book tour over the summer a success. I feel particularly blessed to know my friend Mary Katharine Ham, and her two beautiful children.  

And this list would not be complete without a shout-out to the 9-2 Northwestern Wildcats.  Happy Thanksgiving!

-Guy Benson, Political Editor


When I first sat down to write what I was thankful for this year, without even realizing it I wrote the exact same first sentence as last year. Not because nothing has changed in my life but because throughout that change I have God alone to thank. Today, and each and every day, I am grateful to Him for everything I’ve gained and lost. As you gather with friends and family today and reflect on what you’re thankful for, don’t forget God’s role in all of it and give thanks to Him. Happy Thanksgiving!

-Leah Barkoukis, Online Features Editor


I’m thankful to God for blessing me with a loving, encouraging (and growing) family, lasting friendships and fun colleagues who make it so easy to come to work everyday.

I’m thankful for our men and women in uniform. Veterans Day is but a glimpse into how we should be treating our courageous soldiers. Free pancakes and discounted meals are great, but once a year perks are hardly enough to thank them. We should try to remind our vets everyday that their service is both admired and appreciated.

I’m thankful for an election season that never bores. I can’t help but be grateful to anybody willing to dedicate months of their life on a bus touring the country, meeting with Americans and giving an ear to their needs. Leading the United States is no small task.  Thank you, candidates, for applying for the job.

I’m thankful for the memories Paris gave me in 2011 while studying abroad in Europe. One of the most unforgettable moments of my semaine à Paris was watching the Eiffel Tower sparkle in the twilight. The romantic beauty of Paris can never be extinguished by terrorist thugs (to quote BBC).

Cher France, nous sommes avec vous.

Finally, I’m thankful to our readers for choosing Townhall as their news source. Thank you for not just reading the site, but engaging us with entertaining and often insightful comments, and for catching our silly errors – a seldom occurrence, of course.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

-Cortney O’Brien, Deputy News Editor


This year was a doozy at times, and I'm thankful to have gotten through it in one piece. I'm forever grateful to a loving God for being there for everything and guiding me towards a positive path.

I’m thankful for my friends, both those who live near me and for those who live far away, and for the miracle that is the internet for keeping the world ever so small. I'm grateful for the opportunities I've had over the past year to travel around the country to visit new places to see old friends. I'm thankful to have been able to see Pope Francis during his visit to the U.S. earlier this year, and to have been able to witness the joy His Holiness brought to Washington.

And, of course, I couldn't end this list without saying how I'm thankful for the Providence College Men’s Ice Hockey team, who gave me one of the happiest nights of my life this past April with their insane, come-from-behind victory to win their first NCAA National Championship. What a blessing it was to have been able to witness that.

I hope you all have a very happy Thanksgiving! 

-Christine Rousselle, Managing Web Editor


There’s a lot to be thankful for this year. Of course, I’m always thankful to have a supportive and loving family who took me in at four months from South Korea. I’m thankful for our troops who are keeping us safe, our Bill of Rights, especially the Second Amendment, and for all the freedoms we have in this country (and the ones we at times take for granted). I’m especially thankful to be working with a great editorial team who keep me going every day while writing for Townhall. Besides family, one couldn’t ask for a better source of support.  Lastly, I’m grateful for the newest edition to the Vespa clan, little Graeme, who arrived in September.

I hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving. 

-Matt Vespa, Associate Editor


I am thankful to be an American. I live in the greatest country known to man.  I am thankful for my family and proud to be a leader and mentor for my two younger brothers, John Foster and Samuel Thomas. I am thankful for having a mother and father who have taught me hard work and how to be a gentleman.  I am thankful for all those who have been a part of my life. I am thankful for my founding fathers, who risked their lives and fortunes on a cause that has granted me a wonderful life. I am thankful to all those who have died fighting for my way of life. One young man does not deserve all the blessings that I have received and it is my duty to make the most of them every single day. Happy Thanksgiving.

-Justin Holcomb, Web Editor


I’m thankful for God, Country, Family and Corps, in that order. God blessed me with my Country, my family and my brothers and sisters serving along side of me, and for that I am thankful. My Country blessed me with the opportunity to serve, and for that I am Thankful. My family blessed me with unwavering support throughout my life, and for that I am thankful. The Corps blessed me with the perspective to count my blessings and the will to protect them, and for that I am thankful.

-Leigh Wolf, Video Production Manager


This year, I'm surprisingly thankful for change -- not the kind promised by a politician or the kind you find in the street (although, that's always a welcomed surprise), but the kind of change that makes life a little crazy, but exciting, before turning a fresh page. 

2015, for me, has been marked by planned and unplanned change in both my professional and personal life, which in retrospect, has given me more joy than I could have anticipated. The Townhall Media team is enjoying new space and some new faces, and I'm enjoying learning the power of several layers of socks here in the North East. 

Despite this year's non-stop movement, I'm grateful to still be part of an amazing team led by a great boss with colleagues I cherish and respect. Of course, none of that would be possible without the love and support from my family and close friends - who, on top of everything else in their lives, are helping me plan a wedding! And I just have to give a special shout out to my momma and sisters, who from thousands of miles away, never let me forget their love. 

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Thank you for your continued support throughout the years, and we look forward to sharing an exciting 2016 with you.

-Amanda Munoz, External Relations Director, Townhall Media


2015 has been an amazing year and there’s plenty to be thankful for. Most of all I’m thankful for my amazingly supportive family (especially my Mom) and friends. I’m also very thankful to be a part of the amazing Townhall team; coming in to work with them everyday is awesome. I’d be lost without my technology and social media, so I’m obviously very thankful for those. Finally, we should be thankful all the time that we have the freedoms we do, and remember the men and women who have given so much to protect America. This Thanksgiving take the time to give back to a Vet in need, it can really go a long way. Happy Thanksgiving to all! 

-Storm Paglia, Staff Assistant


This year, I am thankful to have the opportunity to begin work as an intern at Townhall. Working alongside these incredibly talented and welcoming people has been a true blessing in my life.

This Thanksgiving, I count myself lucky to be an American, and to have a loving family to return home to. I am thankful for my friends and my education. I applaud the police officers, who risk their safety every day to protect our communities. Oh, and I'm thankful for coffee. (It's finals season.) Happy Thanksgiving!

-Stephen Self, Editorial Intern

Abortions Are at Historic Lows in U.S.

According to newly-released statistics from the CDC, the number of abortions in 2012 were at "historic lows," with approximately 13 abortions per every 1,000 women. This is a continuation of past trends, and the abortion rate has been effectively halved since 1974, the first year after the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade that legalized the procedure throughout the country.

2012 is the most recent year statistics are available.

From U.S. News & World Report:

The number of reported abortions dropped 4 percent in 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. About 699,000 abortions were reported to the federal government that year. That's about 31,000 fewer than the year before.

Experts offer various reasons for the recent drop: Better use of birth control and the lingering effects of the economic recession. Others argue there's been a cultural shift and more women opt to continue their pregnancy.

In 2012, the abortion rate fell 5 percent to 13 abortions per 1,000 women of child-bearing age. That is about half what it was in 1974, the year after the landmark Supreme Court decision that established a nationwide right to abortion.

Excellent news. Let's hope this trend continues.

Doctors Without Borders Hospital Bombed Because of 'Technical Difficulties'

A 3,000-page investigation into the blast that accidentally struck a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, killing at least 30 people, has determined the mistake was a result of "human error." U.S. General John Campbell made the announcement Wednesday: 

The top U.S. general in Afghanistan says the investigation into the mistaken airstrike of a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz was "a tragic but avoidable accident caused primarily by human error."

As more details appeared, it seems the aircraft that launched the strike was wrought with technical issues, causing the unit in question to missed their intended target:

An Afghan special operations unit had requested an airstrike on a government building being used by the Taliban. Because of technical difficulties aboard the aircraft, the AC-130 crew relied on visual descriptions provided by U.S. special operations troops serving with the Afghan forces.

As a result of the preventable tragedy, Campbell said some of the individuals involved have been suspended from their duties and referred to U.S. Special Operations Command to be disciplined accordingly. While there will be consequences for the deadly miscalculations, it means little for Doctors Without Borders, however, who declared the airstrike was a "war crime."

Last month, President Obama called Doctors Without Borders International President Joanne Liu to apologize for the tragedy. Yet, Liu insisted they were not warned about a potential strike and that it violated the terms of the Geneva Conventions.

"This cannot be tolerated," she said.

Some States Offering Free Park Admission for Black Friday

This year, instead of waking up at the crack of dawn to try to get a cheap TV on Black Friday, some states are encouraging their residents to take a walk outside and enjoy the outdoors. Washington, Oregon, California, Missouri, and Minnesota are offering free admission (or free camping, in Missouri's case) to state parks on Friday.

This is the latest of Black Friday "backlash" against the tradition of stores opening their doors early and having sales to kick off the Christmas season. Oregon's Parks and Recreation Department alluded to outdoor retailer REI's decision to stay closed on Black Friday as part of the reason why they are also encouraging Oregonians to get outside the day after Thanksgiving.

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department is waiving day parking fees on Friday, Nov. 27, at all 26 state parks that charge one. Normally, the day-use parking fee at those parks is $5.

Without naming the retailer, the department cited REI's announcement to close on Black Friday as a key factor in the decision. The company is paying its employees to take the day off while urging shoppers to spend the day outside.

"Rain or shine, windy or not, we're thankful Oregon's outdoors are a constant source of joy," department director Lisa Sumption in a statement. "Take a break, get out, and enjoy some fresh air."

I'm kind of liking this alternative to Black Friday shopping that's being thrown around. As I'm not the biggest fan of crowds, waking up early, or the thought of fighting with someone over an iPad, I've never gone out on Black Friday and much prefer Cyber Monday and shopping online. I applaud businesses for doing what they feel is best for their employees in regards on when to open for business for Christmas shopping. I think states offering free admission to parks is admirable, and is a fun idea to get people outside.

Students Defile Thomas Jefferson's Statue at William & Mary

The famous statue of Thomas Jefferson on the campus of William and Mary (Jefferson’s alma mater) has been covered in sticky notes by student protestors.


“Racism is a choice”


“How dare you glorify him”

These are just a few of the hateful messages that covered the statue from top to bottom.

One William & Mary student wrote about his experience in the Flat Hat News:

Walking down old campus this past week, I saw the statue of Thomas Jefferson covered in sticky notes insulting him and his legacy. Jefferson was a great inventor, a true polymath, one of the better founding fathers, former president of this country and subjectively one of the greatest figures of the 18th century. People today might not even be able to post such messages on Jefferson’s statue as they did without the right to freedom of speech that anti-Federalists like Jefferson pushed for.

Thomas Jefferson wrote our Declaration of Independence which allowed us to create our Constitution which assured us our right to express our opinion. Being a life-long champion of Jefferson, I believe that Jefferson would find no offense in people expressing their opinion. What he would find offensive is that reasonable people did not challenge them in fear of public scrutiny. Jefferson once said that, “if there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.”

Let people express their opinion as they chose to do so. However, we must have people of reason combat it.

Obama After Briefing: Currently No Threats We Know of Against Homeland

After meeting with his national security team, President Obama spoke at the White House Wednesday, hoping to quell American fears about a domestic terror threat as we near the holidays.

“Watching the events in Paris made the threat feel closer to home,” Obama said.

“We are taking every possible step to keep our homeland safe.”

He again outlined the United States’ counterterrorism strategy. “We are going after ISIL where it hides,” he said.

The coalition of 65 countries against terror, the president claimed, has been an effective force in the fight against terror. The combined nations have conducted 8,000 airstrikes, "taking out key terror leaders and territories, choking off finances and supply lines." In addition, the U.S. has supporting the efforts of other countries, such as France’s airstrikes against ISIS.

“We will not let up, adjusting our tactics where necessary,” Obama insisted.

Yet, last week, after Paris faced unimaginable terror, Obama said his administration would not be changing its strategy against ISIS. He was criticized for continuing an effort that has failed to defeat the terror group, let alone “contain” it. The president then claimed the upcoming climate summit would be an effective “rebuke” against ISIS.

After his briefing, the president insisted Americans do not need to talk about the threats of terror around the dinner table.

“Right now, we know of any plot against homeland,” he said.

He reminded Americans that national security has been strengthened since 9/11 and Homeland Security is working around the clock to prevent attacks and terrorist fighters from entering our states and other nations.

In the event of a threat, the public will be informed, he insisted. For now, "Happy Thanksgiving." 

Al Qaeda Operative Who Nearly Bombed UK Shopping Mall, NYC Subway Sentenced to 40 Years in Prison

An Al Qaeda operative  was sentenced to 40 years in prison yesterday after nearly carrying out a series of 2009 terror attacks in the UK and New York City. He was sentenced on a number of offenses. 

According to the FBI, Abid Naseer was within days of executing an attack on a UK shopping mall and had planned attacks on the New York City subway station. In addition, Naseer planned to attack a newspaper office in Denmark for publishing cartoons depicting Mohammed. Naseer was directed and guided by senior Al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan.

“Abid Naseer was part of an Al Qaeda conspiracy that targeted Western countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, for terrorist attack,” Assistant Attorney General Carlin said about the sentencing. “His conviction and sentence reflect our dedication to identifying and holding accountable those who seek to target the United States and its allies. I want to thank the many agents, analysts and prosecutors who are responsible for this successful result."

“Dispatched by Al Qaeda to the U.K. in 2006, Abid Naseer exploited the educational visa system not to improve his own life, but to take away the lives of many others ‘in large numbers.’ Trained in weapons and explosives, he communicated in code to hide his evil intentions. Found guilty in a court of law, he has been spared the fate of death he wished upon others and will spend considerable time incarcerated in a country he and his co-conspirators failed to take down,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Diego Rodriguez said in a statement.

Naseer is 29 years old.

Video: Trump Spokeswoman Clarifies Position on 'Muslim Database'

As is the case with every Trump firestorm, the 'Muslim database' kerfuffle has already been supplanted by several new controversies.  Nevertheless, a core question from last week's flare-up has remained unresolved: Was Trump open to a national registry for all Muslims in America, or just the refugees?  The campaign's ambiguity on this point spilled over into this week's news cycle, when Trump again appeared to endorse the concept of a broader database on ABC's Sunday morning chat show.  The trouble is that whenever Trump has been asked about this issue, he's responded by (a) correctly noting that it was originally raised as a non-sequitur by a reporter, and (b) answering the question as if it only pertained to refugees and border security issues.  Last night on Charles Payne's Fox Business Network program, I had the opportunity to put a very specifically-crafted question to Trump national spokeswoman Katrina Pierson.  At last, it seems, we have some clarity (skip ahead to the 1:10 mark):

GB: Katrina, if I may, just the one thing that I'm still trying to pin down a little bit here is: Setting aside the fact that a reporter sort of brought this issue up out of nowhere, and setting aside the issues of the refugees and the border, has Donald Trump ruled out the registry for other Muslims in America -- including citizens -- or is that still on the table? Can you help me with that?

KP: Sure, I'd love to help you out, Guy. He's never said he supported for all Muslim Americans. He does support a registry of refugees. And the reason why this is so confusing is because NBC [News] actually put out the video that was cropped to fit their narrative. And a lot of conservatives, just like Rush Limbaugh said, fell for it.

GB: So he's against -- to be clear -- he's against a registry for all Muslims?

KP: For all Muslims? Yes. Only for the refugees.

GB: Okay.

I'd argue that the cause of the continued confusion over all of this goes well beyond NBC's allegedly misleading editing, but that's a separate point.  It took roughly six days, but we finally have a definitive answer on this question. And it's the only acceptable answer, by the way, which is why I wouldn't mind hearing it reiterated by the candidate himself.  Incidentally, Pierson's answer makes this new Nazi-imagery-invoking ad from a pro-Kasich superPAC seem even more demagogic:

Trump frequently says odious things, but going Full Godwin on him is wildly over the top. If these Kasich people think they'll hurt the Donald with that video, they're dreaming.  Also, in almost all cases, accusations of "dangerous rhetoric" smack of End of Discussion bullying, even if the target is a bully.

CBC Asks Bill Bennett — How Do We Make America Strong Again?

AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH BILL BENNETT – How can Americans — especially our youth — make this country strong again? The Conservative Book Club has an exclusive podcast author interview with nationally syndicated radio personality Bill Bennett. He talks about his new book, America the Strong: Conservative Ideas to Spark the Next Generation, and how conservatives need to invest in young people and teach them patriotism and conservative values. Using a Q&A format in his book, he explains what conservatism is and how it is different from liberalism.  

Listen to our exclusive podcast below!

Learn more about Bill Bennett, his new book, and read a FREE sample chapter HERE!