The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that the 17-foot cross beam salvaged from the wreckage of Twin Towers will remain in the National 9/11 Museum, despite the very best efforts of American Atheists Inc.
In “American Atheists v. Port Authority of New Jersey and New York” the group asserted that the artifact's positioning in the museum towered "over any other symbols in the vicinity, expressing Christian primacy." It charged that the Latin cross's dominance violated the First Amendment Establishment Clause and the 14th Amendment Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution.
The judges found, however, that the "Ground Zero Cross" is a constitutional and an important symbolic artifact from the terrorist attack. According to the ruling:
"The stated purpose of displaying The Cross at Ground Zero to tell the story of how some people used faith to cope with the tragedy is genuine, and an objective observer would understand the purpose of the display to be secular...there is no evidence that the static display of this genuine historic artifact excessively entangles the government with religion."
This common sense ruling still comes as a major legal victory. Eric Baxter, Counsel for the Beckett Fund, noted that the court made a very key distinction:
“Even though the Ground Zero Cross is unquestionably a religious symbol, and holds deep religious meaning for many people—particularly those who found hope and inspiration in its discovery—the government does not violate the Establishment Clause by recognizing and educating others about the actual role played by religion in our history and culture.”
This historic relic will now continue to show the importance of religion in the United States for years to come.
Former GOP Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin has launched a new online community dubbed the Sarah Palin Channel. The channel will feature videos of Palin and her family as well as "behind the scenes" videos of the Palin household as well as links to Bristol Palin's blog and video chats with Palin herself. Access to the channel is available via a subscription.
We'll go directly to the root of the problems confronting America. We'll talk about the issues mainstream media won't talk about.
The Palin family is quite familiar with reality television. "Sarah Palin's Alaska" lasted for one season on TLC in 2010 and "Amazing America with Sarah Palin has been renewed for a second season on the Sportsman Channel.
The channel can be accessed via computer, tablet or smartphone.
While this is certainly an unusual endeavor for an ex-politician, all power to Palin for marketing her personal brand.
Incidence rates continue to climb as the Ebola virus spreads through West African nations in what epidemiologists are calling the largest-ever recorded outbreak of the disease.
As the Associated Press reports, Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has taken initiative to contain the virus by calling for the quarantine of entire communities and closing all but three land border crossings into the country.
The disease, which is transmitted through direct contact with bodily fluid, puts both public health officials and the general population at risk. Those infected include two Americans, a medical director from Samaritan's Purse and a missionary worker with the Christian humanitarian organization Serving in Mission. Thousands more have fallen ill and nearly 700 have died.
USA Today has the stats:
Since it was detected in March, the number of cases attributed to Ebola in the West African nations of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea stands at 1,201, including 672 deaths:
Symptoms of Ebola include acute weakness, sudden onset fever, headache, muscle pain, and in some cases, internal and external bleeding. The incubation period from the time of contraction can range anywhere from two to 21 days and the virus only becomes contagious once the patient begins to show symptoms.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says there is currently no cure for Ebola and no vaccine to prevent it. Though the fatality rate is a staggering 90 percent, the disease can be treated by maintaining adequate blood pressure, balancing electrolytes, and quickly treating any other developing infections.
The latest scare arose in the Nigerian city of Lagos after a man traveling from Liberia brought the virus with him. As health professionals are working to stop the spread, we must be reminded that the threat of infectious disease is just one flight away.
With David Perdue’s win over Rep. Jack Kingston in the Georgia Republican primary, the game is set. But it isn’t without Democratic Senate candidate Michelle Nunn making more mistakes, like, uh, her campaign releasing campaign memos outlining their game plan.
Over at National Review, Eliana Johnson wrote how these memos were posted, albeit temporarily, in December of last year and seemed to have been regarded as confidential. Well, not anymore (via NRO):
Much of the strategizing in the Georgia contest as is typical in southern politics, revolves around race. But the Nunn memos are incredibly unguarded. One is from Diane Feldman, a Democratic pollster and strategist who counts among her clients Minnesota senator Al Franken, South Carolina representative James Clyburn, and former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Feldman, who did not return calls seeking comment, is frank in her characterization of the demographic groups — Jews, Asians, African Americans, Latinos, and gays — that are essential to a Democratic victory. The Nunn campaign declined to comment about the document on the record.
The campaign’s finance plan draws attention to the “tremendous financial opportunity” in the Jewish community and identifies Jews as key fundraisers. It notes, however, that “Michelle’s position on Israel will largely determine the level of support here.” That’s a position she has yet to articulate, and Israel goes unmentioned on her campaign website.
Asians are also identified as key fundraisers. The community is described as “very tight,” one in which people work to “become citizens quickly.” Nunn’s strategists also say there is a “huge opportunity” to raise money from gays, bisexuals, and transgender individuals, who are described as having “substantial resources.”
As southern whites have moved to the right, Democrats have been forced to cobble together a coalition of minority voters. Feldman recommends as a goal winning just 30 percent of the white vote while working to increase turnout among African Americans and Latinos. So while Jews, Asians, and gays are characterized as potential “fundraisers,” African Americans and Hispanics are the ones the campaign needs to get to the polls in historic numbers, the document makes clear.
Johnson elaborated on how Democrats know that Nunn will struggle with rural voters, which is why they’re focusing on turning out Hispanics and Blacks in historic numbers; something that’s described as “critical” to victory.
Democrats know that they have trouble with white voters in the South, and Johnson made it clear in her piece that no Democrat has come within the thirty percent mark since 2002.
Then again, Democrats may have jeopardized their hopes of picking up this very winnable seat for Democrats by sharing their playbook. Here's a list of Nunn's faults, which includes "service awards to terrorists."
The Research team will produce a "pushback" document for each identified vulnerability in Michelle's record, as well as common attacks frequently leveled against Democratic Senate candidates
These will be prepared as early as possible and will serve as the basis for our response when attacks are leveled against Michelle. Some, such as the document relating to Michelle's conservation easements, are complex and lengthy; while others will be short "fact checks" pushing back against common distortions (e.g. "Obamacare cut $500 billion from Medicare).
Points of Light
Grants to problematic entities
POL audit/IG report
Travel packages investigation
service awards to inmates, terrorists
Nunn is too liberal
Nunn is a rubber stamp for Democrats
Nunn is Obama’s/Harry Reid/Nancy Pelosi Best Friend
Nunn is not a 'real' Georgian
Nunn is a lightweight
Serve America Act Healthcare/Obamacare
Cut Medicare/Social Security
Points Of Light was established by Bush 41 to encourage volunteering. Nunn became the CEO of the foundation in 2007. Under Nunn's tenure, they gave grants to Islamic Relief USA, a group that Johnson says is legally separate from Islamic Relief Worldwide, which has Hamas ties; but shares their "a common vision, mission, and family identity.”
When it comes to raising money, Nunn’s campaign listed all of their targeted “affinity groups,” or groups with “particular connection with Michelle,” and their messages to each of them. The memo obviously includes women and floats around this message marketed for them to help fill the Nunn campaign coffers: “Women ended the government shutdown. Help me get to Washington where I can bring a much needed [sic] spirit of collaboration.”
You can read the rest of the memos here
In more good news coming out of the Middle East today, hundreds of thousands of weapons given to Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) by the United States, including machine guns, are missing.
According to a report issued earlier this month from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) titled Afghan National Security Forces: Actions Needed to Improve Weapons Accountability, nearly half of weapons issued are unaccounted for.
"Controls over the accountability of small arms provided to the ANSF are insufficient both before and after the weapons are transferred. Accountability over these weapons within DOD prior to their transfer to Afghan ownership is affected by incompatible inventory systems that have missing serial numbers, inaccurate shipping and receiving dates, and duplicate records, that may result in missing weapons prior to transfer to the ANSF," the report states. "However, the problems are far more severe after the weapons are transferred to the ANSF. ANSF record-keeping and inventory processes are poor and, in many cases, we were unable to conduct even basic inventory testing at the ANSF facilities we visited. Although CSTC-A has established end use monitoring procedures, the lack of adherence to these procedures, along with the lack of reliable weapons inventories, limits monitoring of weapons under Afghan control and reduces the ability to identify missing and unaccounted for weapons that could be used by insurgents to harm U.S., coalition, and ANSF personnel."
Through corruption and bad accounting practices, these weapons more than likely in the wrong, violent hands of terrorists.
A new CNN poll reveals that if a do-over of the 2012 presidential election were held today, Republican Mitt Romney would handily defeat President Obama. Hindsight is 20/20, of course, and the survey is meaningless on a practical level. The old cliche is spot on: The only poll that counts is on election day. Nevertheless, the findings reinforce a trend of deteriorating public confidence in the man Americans re-elected less than two years ago. Romney, who fell to Obama by three percentage points nearly two years ago, has now opened up a nine-point lead in a hypothetical head-to-head contest. What explains the double-digit swing? Major shifts among women, young voters and independents. According to CNN's respected 2012 exit polls, Obama won female voters by 11 points, carried young voters by 23 points, and lost independents by five points. Today?
Anti-Obama shifts of 18 points, 16 points, and 15 points, respectively. I suspect this poll comes as cold comfort to Romney, who might be thinking, "I literally told you so, America." On the stump, Romney frequently suggested that a more accurate variation of Obama's "Forward" slogan would be "Forewarned." Voters appear to be belatedly realizing that the Republican nominee was right about Obama, as well as a number of his policies. Before conservatives get cocky over Obama's dramatic fall from grace, though, they should note that the same poll shows Hillary Clinton leading Romney by double-digits in a 2016 match-up. Romney has stated repeatedly and unequivocally that he will not seek the presidency for a third time, though rumors continue to swirl. In the ridiculously early GOP nomination sweepstakes, the survey finds a logjam near the top, with Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Rand Paul, Gov. Mike Huckabee, Gov. Rick Perry and Rep. Paul Ryan tightly packed within the 11 to 13 percent support range. Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Ted Cruz are next with eight percent apiece, followed by Sen. Marco Rubio at six percent, and Gov. Scott Walker at five percent. In far more relevant polling news, a massive nationwide survey conducted by the New York Times, CBS News and YouGov points to a continued GOP advantage -- but not a wave-level advantage -- heading into the November midterm elections.
The Republicans appear to hold a slight advantage in the fight for the Senate and remain in a dominant position in the House. They need to pick up six seats to gain Senate control, and they hold a clear advantage in races in three states: South Dakota, Montana and West Virginia. The data from YouGov, an opinion-research firm that enjoyed success in 2012, finds the G.O.P. with a nominal lead in five additional states. The five states where the Republicans hold a slight lead in the YouGov panel include three Southern ones — Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina — where Democratic incumbents face tough re-election contests and where Mitt Romney won in 2012. Republicans also have a slight edge in Iowa and Michigan, two open seats in states that usually vote for Democrats in presidential elections.
If these results were to hold, Republicans would net eight Senate seats, two more than they need to secure the majority. For a more detailed look at the Senate battle, click through to my lengthy analysis from last week. But such a huge poll that uses a still-emerging online methodology should be taken with a grain of salt. For example, compared to other polling, these projections look a bit sunny for Republicans in North Carolina, and very optimistic in Michigan. On the other hand, they may underestimate the GOP's chances in places like Alaska and Colorado. This "mega poll" appears to be right on target in measuring Republicans' three likeliest Senate gains (Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia), and predicts the party will retain its contested seats in Kentucky and Georgia (the latter race just took an embarrassing and possibly catastrophic turn for the Democrats). It also finds that the GOP is "overwhelmingly likely" to keep its House majority, and could well expand it. I'll leave you with this nugget out of Texas:
Oh yeah, I almost forgot: Wendy Davis is down 17.— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) July 28, 2014
With her husband’s approval rating dipping lower every day, and a smaller electorate expected this November, Michelle Obama has the right to worry about the fast approaching 2014 midterm elections. Hence why the First Lady released a misleading, borderline desperate video this weekend.
“Equal pay for women, immigration reform, raising the minimum wage, and ensuring that women can make their own decisions about their bodies and their health care. My husband is working so hard on all these issues. But he needs leaders in Congress who will work with him – leaders who care about what’s going on in your lives and who will fight for you every single day.”
Apparently those heartless House Republicans could care less about their constituents.
Mrs. Obama then got straight to her point:
“We need you to be as passionate and as hungry as you were in 2008 and 2012.”
One year she notably forgot? 2010, a year when Americans were very passionate. They were passionate about the ugly economy. They were passionate about the high unemployment. Oh yeah, and they were especially passionate about the government getting between them and their doctors. That’s why these incensed voters turned our country red.
A new CNN poll puts the Democrats’ peril in perspective:
In the generic ballot question, the Democrats have a 4-percentage point 48 percent-44 percent edge over the Republicans among registered voters. The generic ballot asks respondents to choose between a Democrat or Republican in their congressional district without identifying the candidates.
A smaller electorate could heavily favor the Republican Party. Single women, younger voters and minorities - who are generally consistent Democratic voters - typically vote in fewer numbers during midterms, according to wcti12.com.
She can keep urging her supporters on, but it’s clear voters aren’t “passionate” about the party who pushed through this disaster.
In a major victory for Second Amendment rights over the weekend, U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Scullin struck down the Washington D.C. total ban on concealed and open carrying of firearms as unconstitutional. The ruling came after a five year long court battle and effective immediately, D.C. police cannot arrest someone for carry a legal firearm.
In 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark decision striking down the city's 32-year-old ban on handguns. Since then, the city has rewritten its laws, lawsuits have been filed and even Congress has waded into the fight.
In a decision made public Saturday, Scullin concluded that the Second Amendment gives people the right to carry a gun outside the home for self-defense. He cited two U.S. Supreme Court cases as important to his ruling — the 2008 opinion striking down the District of Columbia's ban and a 2010 ruling involving Chicago's handgun ban.
"There is no longer any basis on which this court can conclude that the District of Columbia's total ban on the public carrying of ready-to-use handguns outside the home is constitutional under any level of scrutiny," wrote Scullin, who was appointed by President George H.W. Bush and is a retired Army colonel.
This morning Emily Miller, author of Emily Gets Her Gunand an expert in understanding D.C. gun laws, explained on Fox and Friends what the ruling means for carrying a firearm in the District.
"Anyone who is a none D.C. resident who legally can carry in their home state, whether open or concealed, can carry in D.C.," Miller said. "D.C. residents, if you have a registered gun like I do, I can carry. If you do not have a registered gun you can still be arrested on the unregistered gun law."
UPDATE - Despite the UN's (and President Obama's) insistence on an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, the battle in Gaza rages on. Israel is blaming errant Hamas rockets for horrible explosions at a hospital and a refugee camp, killing at least 10 people earlier today. The IDF published an infographic that it says tracks 100 Hamas rockets that have fallen within Gaza's borders since July 8:
Hamas aims for Israel, but its rockets have hit Gaza over 100 times in 9 days. pic.twitter.com/O1fJ5YYF23— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) July 16, 2014
Four people are pronounced dead from a mortar attack in the Eshkol region, and three others remain in serious condition...Hamas is celebrating the “success” of the mortar shelling at the Eshkol region.
And another Hamas attack:
Five Gaza militants breach Israeli border and open fire at IDF troops, causing several casualties. The troops returned fire, and it is possible some of the militants escaped back into the Strip. Troops are combing the area. Residents of a community in the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council and of another community in the Sdot Negev Regional Council near the Gaza border have been instructed to remain in their homes.
This past weekend's 12-hour humanitarian truce between Israel and Hamas, announced late Friday, represented a short respite in the three-weeks old conflict between the two sides. The first party to break the temporary calm was Hamas, after the terror group rejected Israel's offers to extend the peace window:
The Israeli cabinet approved a 24-hour extension of its cease-fire Saturday but said it would respond to any future rocket fire from Gaza after Hamas rejected an earlier proposed four-hour extension and fired rockets into Israel. The announcement came after Hamas confirmed that it fired five rockets at Israel late Saturday after rejecting an earlier offer from Israel to extend a 12-hour humanitarian cease-fire by four hours, casting new doubt on international efforts to broker an end to 19 days of fighting. The terror group said two of the rockets were aimed at Tel Aviv. Police in Israel's second-largest city dispersed a peace rally attended by several thousand people because of the threat, a spokesman said. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the group rejected Israel's proposal to extend an original 12-hour lull by four hours, until midnight (2100 GMT) Saturday. Meanwhile, the Israeli military warned residents of areas where there had been heavy fighting against returning there.
Lots of information packed into that paragraph. Despite sustaining rocket fire after a rejected extension, the Israeli government nevertheless green-lit a day-long, good faith ceasefire. The Hamas rockets that punctured the quiet were aimed at Tel Aviv, where Israeli peace demonstrators had to be rapidly dispersed for their own safety. These people were demonstrating for an accommodation with the terrorist cartel that was literally trying to kill them. As Israel prepared to re-engage in the fight, it re-issued warnings to Palestinian civilians against returning to dangerous areas. Hamas, which targets Israeli innocents, also admonishes its civilians against heeding the IDF's warnings. They're more valuable to the terror campaign as human shields, frustrating Israel's response. And they're more valuable to the anti-Israel public relations campaign…well, dead. To the surprise of no one, Israel's unilateral 24-hour ceasefire didn't last:
Israel observed a 12-hour humanitarian cease-fire from 8 a.m. on Saturday, during which time Gazan civilians stocked up on essential supplies and buried their dead. Israel offered to extend the cease-fire by four hours, and later by 24 hours, but was rebuffed in the form of rockets fired from Gaza. Israel continued to observe a cease-fire until mid-Sunday morning when volleys of rockets led the security Cabinet to order the Israel Defense Forces to continue its strikes on Gaza.
5 outgoing rockets from a populated area in Gaza a short time ago. Photo by reporter Nick Schifrin. pic.twitter.com/0Rm7g8WC5f— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) July 27, 2014
Having rejected several Egypt-proposed ceasefire agreements while breaking and violating the agreements to which they have acceded, Hamas had the gall on Sunday to insist upon a new one. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu highlighted the absurdity and dishonesty of the terrorist organization's demands on Fox News Sunday:
"Well, Hamas has broken five ceasefires that we accepted, and we actually implemented. They rejected all of them, violated all of them -- including two humanitarian ceasefires in the last 24 hours. Now they come with their own ceasefire proposal, and believe it or not, they're violating even their own ceasefire proposal. They're shooting at us as we speak. So Israel is not obliged, and is not going to let a terrorist organization determine when it's convenient for them to fire at our cities, at our people…we'll take the necessary action to protect our people."
Jennifer Rubin is exasperated by US Secretary of State John Kerry's inept meddling in the conflict, upbraiding him for being "in the wrong place, talking to the wrong people about the wrong thing." He's undermined Israel by throwing a lifeline to Hamas. Read her full analysis to get a sense of how badly he's bungled things. Rubin also links to a fascinating Times of Israel piece describing the degree to which "civilian life" in Gaza is intertwined with Hamas' terrorist activities, and the ongoing struggle of the IDF to try to respect innocent life deliberately embedded in a war zone:
Hamas has planted its military assets deep inside the very fabric of Gazan civilian life, [a military source] said. “Hamas operatives and area commanders, as well as their rocket cell members, keeps one part of their home for normal family life. A second part of the home is the command center, or the start of a tunnel. Daily life and military infrastructure are totally interwoven,” the source said. . . . “I have not entered one civilian home that did not have weapons, suicide belts, or booby traps in it. You can see the booby traps from the outside,” the source said. Any home found to be containing women and children leads to an immediate halt of the raid, he added. “We hold our fire, there’s no question. We don’t take chances with children and women. We allow them to leave, and then continue the raid. That’s who we are, and this is the source of our strength,” he added.
Meanwhile, Hamas sympathizers marched in Chicago over the weekend, as Europe continues to brace for more anti-Semitic violence. For many, Israel's defensive war effort is merely a "news hook" excuse to unleash their Medieval hatred of Jews. Awful:
Protesters have attacked synagogues, smashed the windows of Jewish-owned business and torched others, in scenes disturbingly reminiscent of the 1938 Kristallnacht in France. The marchers have chanted “Jews to the gas chambers”, and Jewish people have been attacked on the streets of Berlin. An 18-year-old Jewish man claimed on Friday he had been punched in the face in an unprovoked attack while wearing a skull cap in the centre of Berlin, in what would be the second such incident in less than a week. Police had to step in to protect an Israeli tourist couple from protesters who charged at them shouting “Jew! We’ll get you”...One Facebook page created in the last week, entitled Jeunes Revolutionnaires Francais, or Young French Revolutionaries, posted the names, photographs and addresses of 32 French Jews encouraging members to target them. After the picture of one young man seen wearing a skullcap was put up, he was attacked in his home in the Paris suburbs on Thursday evening by a group of masked men with iron bars. The group, which picked up 2,000 followers and more than 1,500 “likes”, was taken down on Friday night after it was reported to the social network...in Austria this week, a friendly football match between the Israel’s Maccabi Haifa and a French team had to be called off, after protesters stormed the pitch and fought with the players. The Haifa captain, Yossi Benayoun, defended his players for fighting back, saying “We had no choice but to defend ourselves”. The pitch invaders in Austria were mostly immigrants of Palestinian origin, and around Europe the new anti-Semitism is being seen a phenomenon confined to Arab and Muslim communities.
I'll leave you with a short spin around the globe, where American foreign policy is failing or nonexistent: (1) ISIS' march of terror through Iraq continues apace. The terrorists are destroying cultural and religious icons, as they keep Baghdad in their crosshairs. The Obama administration is responding by seeking the full repeal of America's authorization of force resolution vis-a-vis Iraq. (2) American officials have unveiled new evidence that proves how deeply involved Russia is in Eastern Ukraine -- further verification that Russia is directly attacking its neighbor. Moscow-backed rebels continue to shoot down Ukrainian aircraft following their downing of a large passenger jet with Russian equipment. The Obama administration's response is unclear. (3) The State Department evacuated US embassy in Tripoli and rushed its diplomats out of the country in a final admission that Libya is now a failed state, overrun by radical jihadists. The Obama administration supported the military effort to oust Mommar Gaddafi from power in 2011. The situation on the ground has steadily deteriorated ever since, punctuated by the Benghazi attacks of September 11, 2012. (4) As for Syria, where presidential red lines have been breached and re-breached, this Washington Post editorialheadline sums things up: "Syrian death toll and extremist threat increases, but the US does little." Click through and read it. We're not in good hands.