Interrogated Until He Wet his Pants and Suspended for 10 Days: This Is What Happened to a 5-Year-Old who Brought a Cap Gun to a School

Maryland Boy Suspended, Interrogated for Bringing Cap Gun to School

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A five-year-old Maryland boy was interrogated until he wet himself and suspended for 10 days after school officials caught with playing with a “cowboy-style cap gun,” the Washington Post reports, citing the child’s family and lawyer.

School officials interrogated the boy for two whole hours until he “uncharacteristically” wet his pants, the boy’s mother said.

He’s “all bugs and frogs and cowboys,” she said.

“I have no problem that he had a consequence to his behavior,” said the mother, who has requested anonymity to protect the boy’s identity.

“What I have a problem with is the severity,” she said, adding that the school’s handling of the situation was unacceptable.

The family’s attorney has asked for the school to reverse its suspension decision and to expunge the boy’s record.

“If the punishment stands, it would become part of the boy’s permanent school record and keep him out of classes the rest of the school year,” the WaPo notes, citing the family. “He would miss his end-of-year kindergarten program at Dowell Elementary School in Lusby.”

Yes, this is real life.

A “disciplinary conference” is scheduled to review the situation on Friday.

The Washington Post details how everything went down [emphasis added]:

According to the family, the boy’s friend had brought a water gun on the bus a day earlier. On Wednesday, unbeknown to his parents, the boy stowed his cap gun — from Frontier Town near Ocean City — inside his backpack as he left for school.

He told his mother after the incident that he had “really, really” wanted to show his friend.

The mother was called by the principal at 10:50 a.m. and was told that her son had the cap gun and pretended to shoot someone on the bus. She said that both the kindergartner and his first-grade sister, sitting nearby on the bus, disputed that account.

The mother said the principal told her that if the cap gun had been loaded with caps, it would have been deemed an explosive and police would have been called in.

School officials said the boy was suspended for being in possession of  a “look-alike gun.”

The boy’s mother is a high school teacher in Calvert who “strongly supports the school system and loves the teachers at her son’s school” and she and her husband are active in the community.

But support for the school aside, she says the interrogation process was over the line.

“The school was quite obviously taking it very seriously, and he’s 5 years old,” she said. “Why were we not immediately contacted?”

“Kids play cowboys and Indians,” the family’s attorney added, saying the boy’s age is important in this situation. “They play cops and robbers. You’re talking about a little 5-year-old here.”

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Interrogated Until He Wet his Pants and Suspended for 10 Days: This Is What Happened to a 5-Year-Old who Brought a Cap Gun to a School

The Tiny Trick-Shooting Toddler Returns With an Amazing New Video!

Remember little Titus Ashby? He’s the trick-shot toddler who took the country by storm in February. Well, now he is back with a dazzling new basketball shooting video.

The toddler’s first viral video generated 11 million clicks in three months, an included shots like this:

First video from Titus Ashby

Remember him? This is a screen shot from his first video.

Not long after his first video caught the attention of the country, Titus appeared on the “TODAY” show and Jimmy Kimmel’s late-night TV program.

On Thursday, Titus’s dad, Joseph Ashby sent us a link to his son’s latest video and shared the news that Titus will be making another appearance on an upcoming special to be broadcast on ABC during the NBA Finals.

The new video features some pretty amazing shots — long shots and trick shots that show just how Titus’ skills have developed:

2 1/2-year-old basketball trick-shooting toddler

Titus Ashby shows off more of his basketball shooting skills in this new video. Image: YouTube

Long shot for Titus

Image: YouTube.com

The video also includes a cameo appearance by an NCAA basketball coach who discusses the toddler’s chances at a basketball scholarship.

Enjoy!

You can see more videos from Titus here, including the original:

And for a better understanding of the little guy and his family, be sure to check out Glenn Beck’s interview with the boy’s father earlier this year:

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The Tiny Trick-Shooting Toddler Returns With an Amazing New Video!

GOP Senators Drafting Letter to Urge Asylum for German Homeschooling Family

In an interview with Breitbart News, William Estrada, Director of Federal Relations of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), said that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has taken the lead in the Senate to draft a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, urging him to allow the Romeike family asylum in the United States.

Estrada said that Rubio has joined with Sens. Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Tim Scott (R-SC) to move ahead with a letter that will complement one that has already been sent to Holder from members of the House. Led by Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN), a coalition of 27 congressmen have signed a letter urging the Department of Justice to rescind an order to deport the Romeikes.

“Sens. Rubio, Blunt, and Scott have all been very supportive,” said Estrada. “This is a family seeking freedom in this country–they are true pilgrims. These are the kinds of people we want to welcome in this country, those who value freedom.”

The Romeikes were granted asylum in 2010 by Immigration Judge Lawrence O. Burman after fleeing their native Germany where they were subjected to criminal prosecution for homeschooling their children, a practice which is largely illegal in Germany. However, Judge Burman’s decision was overturned by the Board of Immigration Appeals in 2012. Represented by HSLDA, the Romeikes appealed the decision, but a three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit issued a unanimous decision against the family on April 23rd.

On May 28th, Michael Farris, founder and chairman of HSLDA, filed an appeal to the entire 15-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit. Farris states that the brief for the appeal “focuses considerable attention on the fact that the [three-judge] panel never mentions the German high court’s admission that Germany’s ban on homeschooling is motivated by the desire to suppress religious and philosophical ‘parallel societies.’”

In addition, Farris asserts, “The panel also never mentions that the German government targets homeschoolers in order to prevent ‘the damage to the children, which is occurring through the continued exclusive teaching of the children of the mother at home.’”

“It’s one thing to enforce truancy laws because a child refuses to go to school,” said Farris. “It’s another thing to force children to go to school because the German government doesn’t want religious or philosophical parallel societies to exist.”

HSLDA also initiated a White House petition that has received nearly 125,000 signatures, urging the Obama administration not to deport the Romeike family.

    




GOP Senators Drafting Letter to Urge Asylum for German Homeschooling Family

Poll: Clinton Approval Tumbles in Wake of Benghazi

On Friday, Quinnipiac University released a new poll showing Hillary Clinton’s approval rating collapsing in the wake of the Benghazi investigation. In today’s poll, just 52% of voters have a favorable impression of Clinton, while 40% have an unfavorable view. This represents a 16-point negative swing since February, when Clinton’s favorable rating was 61-34%. Such a dramatic move for a politician as well known as Clinton are highly unusual and cast a shadow on her future political ambitions. 

“Her score is down substantially from her all-time high score in February,” said Peter Brown, Quinnipiac director of polling, in a statement.

Almost half of voters, 48%, believe she is at least somewhat responsible for the deaths of 4 Americans at the American consulate in Benghazi. Her standing fell most substantially among men, Republicans and Independents. 

The full facts of the Benghazi tragedy are still unknown. A House committee has subpoenaed State Department emails surrounding the tragic events and the aftermath. The RNC on Thursday issued a FOIA request for communication between State and the Obama reelection campaign. 

What we do know, however, casts a dark shadow on Clinton’s potential as Commander-in-Chief. There were numerous warnings about a potential attack of the consulate, yet no efforts were made to strengthen security. After the attacks were launched, few efforts were made to relieve the besieged staff at the consulate. 

Hillary seems to have gotten her hypothetical “3am call” and apparently let it go to voicemail.  

    




Poll: Clinton Approval Tumbles in Wake of Benghazi

Revelation of Cowboys Draft Board Creates More Questions than Answers

It has been more than a month since the Minnesota Vikings stole the show of the NFL Draft’s first round by landing the #3, #7, and #15 ranked prospects on the Breitbart Sports Big Board at picks #23, #29, and #25 respectively. The three selections–defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, wide receiver Cordarelle Patterson, and cornerback Xavier Rhodes–will dramatically improve the Vikings heading into the 2013-14 season.

However, the cornerstone of the draft class, Floyd, should not have been available in the first place.

The Dallas Cowboys were set up perfectly. With a new coordinator (Monte Kiffin) and a major need for 4-3 defensive tackles, most would have assumed that the team would jump at the chance to take the former Florida Gator with the #18 overall selection. Moreover, it was recently revealed that the Cowboys had Floyd #5 overall on their draft board showing that the team ought to have seen incredible value in the pick.

Instead, owner and general manager Jerry Jones elected to trade with the 49ers, giving the team the 31st pick, which they used on offensive lineman Travis Frederick, a player most felt was a likely third rounder. What is even more interesting is that the Cowboys themselves only listed the former Wisconsin Badger with a second round grade.

This inexplicable decision, at odds even with their own draft board, shows “America’s Team” in complete disarray. In fact, this is perhaps greater evidence than the idea that Tony Romo, one of football’s most inconsistent players, should be more involved in the decision making process of the team that the Cowboys are on the wrong track.

Beyond the negative indicators for the Cowboys, the draft board confirms that teams saw quarterbacks wildly differently as they ranked E.J. Manuel, taken 16th overall, as a fourth rounder and had three first  rounders (Jarvis Jones, Alec Ogletree, and Matt Elam) off their board entirely.

    




Revelation of Cowboys Draft Board Creates More Questions than Answers

Poor Audio on White House Website Keeps Blind People from Signing Petition for the Blind

The National Federation of the Blind has launched a White House petition using the “We the People” tool but says that the people it is advocating for — the blind — can’t even sign it.

Politico reported NFB’s spokesperson, Chris Danielsen, saying the organization has been receiving emails from blind people saying they can’t sign the petition, which seeks to gain support for a treaty that would give more blind people around the world access to books specialized for them to read.

The problem is a CAPTCHA code that must be inserted to sign the petition. These slightly obscured letters are a security measure meant to ensure a real human is generating a response — not a computer.

Blind People Cant Sign White House Petition Advocating for Blind Due to Captcha Code

Example of a CAPTCHA code (Image: Wikimedia)

Given that the letters must be viewed in order to type them in, there is an audio feature to help those who have trouble reading it or who can’t see at all. But Danielsen told Politico the audio is not understandable for those relying on it to accurately input the letters.

NFB wants the requirement of reaching 100,000 signatures to merit a White House response to be waived because of this issue. The Huffington Post also reported Danielsen giving an alternative idea.

“The White House should implement a better audio CAPTCHA,” he wrote. “That or a different kind of CAPTCHA, such as one that requires the user to answer a simple mathematical or logic question like ’3+6=’ or ‘If today is Friday, what day was three days ago?’”

The White House, on the other hand, told Politico the website is compliant with the requirements of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, but it is looking into improvements.

The petition states that less than 1 percent of printed works are accessible to the blind “because laws around the world bar printed material from being turned into formats useable by the blind and visually impaired, or for such material to be shared across borders.”

Representatives will be meeting soon to finalize a treaty that could change this.

The petition asks the president to “compel US negotiators to fight for a strong Treaty that gives blind people equal access to books and doesn’t burden those who want to provide them.”

Here is more about the core principles NFB believes the treaty should include:

1. Support a legally-binding access Treaty which will allow more published works to be converted into accessible formats used by the blind and print disabled.

2. Allow those accessible copies to be shared across international borders.

3. Take account of countries’ level of development, in line with existing international provisions.

4. Ensure that the treaty will be fully consistent with international copyright norms.

5. Avoid addressing extraneous copyright issues not directly related to creating greater access to published works for the blind and print disabled.

As of the time of this posting, the petition has more than 7,700 signatures of the 100,000 it needs by June 22 to receive an official response.

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Namath: Jets Leadership ‘Deceptive’

Things just cannot get much worse for the New York Jets. The team does not have a legitimate NFL starting quarterback on its roster and, now, the most iconic player in franchise history has emerged with fresh criticisms about the direction of the organization.

The former quarterback told WFAN’s “Boomer and Carton Show” that he is not on speaking terms with Jets leadership and that he has not been on good terms with owner Woody Johnson for a number of years.

Namath added, “you’ve got to be honest. I want to be honest, and I think they’ve been deceptive. … They’re continually telling us how good they are. Last year, going into the season, the ‘best team Rex [Ryan] has had.’ Oh, please.”

This is not the first time that the legendary quarterback has spoken out about the Jets, however, it could not come at a more tenuous time for the franchise that looks to be among the worst in the NFL this season.

    




Namath: Jets Leadership ‘Deceptive’

NL East Rundown: Braves Gain on Nats; Ellsbury Steals Day

Atlanta 11, Toronto 3

Mike Minor (7-2) pitched seven innings, giving up three runs, as the Braves beat RA Dickey (4-7) and the Jays, 11-3. Dickey pitched six innings but gave up six runs, raising his ERA to 5.18.

Freddie Freeman and Reed Johnson homered for the Braves, as the Braves rested three regulars hitting below .200 in advance of their series against the Nationals this weekend.

Baltimore 2, Washington 0

Freddy Garcia (2-2) had his best outing since 2009, pitching eight shutout innings to outduel Dan Haren (4-6) as the Orioles beat the Nationals 2-0, to take three out of four in the Beltway Series.

Garcia struck out six, while Haren allowed two runs in 7 1/3 innings. Neither starting pitcher allowed a walk in a well-pitched game.

Boston 9, Philadelphia 2

Jacoby Ellsbury set a club record with five stolen bases, David Ortiz and Jonny Gomes homered and the Red Sox beat the Phillies 9-2 on Thursday night.

The Phillies failed again in their bid to reach the .500 mark. Franklin Morales (1-0) two runs in five innings to earn the win; Jonathan Pettibone (3-1) surrendered four runs in the first inning to take his first loss of the year for the Phillies.

NY Mets 3, NY Yankees 1

The Mets swept their Subway Series with the Yankees, behind 7 1/3 innings of one-run baseball from Dillon Gee (3-6). Gee struck out 12 in the win.

Marlon Byrd homered in the win; Robinson Cano homered in the loss for the Yankees, who were knocked out of first place by the sweep.

Tampa Bay 5, Miami 2

Rookie Alex Colome (1-0) allowed an unearned run in 5 2/3 innings, striking out seven as the Rays won their fifth straight, sweeping the Marlins 5-2 Thursday night.

Ricky Nolasco (3-6) gave up three runs in 6 2/3 innings for the Marlins, who have dropped 16 of 18. Tampa Bay has now used a homegrown starting pitcher for 363 of the last 380 games dating back to Oct. 1, 2010.

 

    




NL East Rundown: Braves Gain on Nats; Ellsbury Steals Day

Report: Clippers Considering Byron Scott

Getting fired from the Cleveland Cavaliers could lead to bigger and better things for Byron Scott who spoke to the Los Angeles Clippers this week about their head coaching vacancy. The team recently fired Vinny Del Negro, who hinted that the move was prompted by guard Chris Paul.

Keeping Paul with the franchise will be priority number one for the team that had a disappointing first round exit in the NBA Playoffs. Scott, who took the New Jersey Nets to the Finals in back to back years in 2002 and 2003, coached Paul with the New Orleans Hornets.

Other contenders for the position include Jeff Van Gundy and Brian Shaw. Currently coaching with the Indiana Pacers, Shaw continues to be mentioned in coaching searches and is very well respected yet, for some reason, no team has decided to make the hire.

Scott is also a Los Angeles native. He went to high school in Inglewood, California and was an instrumental part of the Los Angeles’s “Showtime” years. 

    




Report: Clippers Considering Byron Scott

Famed TV Host Uses Harvard Commencement Speech to…Push Gun Background Checks

Television host and businesswoman Oprah Winfrey broke her silence on the gun control debate yesterday, coming out in support of enhanced background checks. She made her opinions on the matter known while delivering the Harvard University commencement address, also noting that, despite her support for background checks, Winfrey believes wholeheartedly in the Second Amendment.

Oprah Winfrey Backs Gun Background Checks During Harvard Commencement Speech

Oprah Winfrey and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino receive Honorary Degrees at 2013 Harvard University 362nd Commencement Exercises at Harvard University on May 30, 2013 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Credit: Getty Images

“We understand that the vast majority of people in this country believe in stronger background checks, because they realize that we can uphold the Second Amendment and reduce the violence that is robbing us of our children,” Winfrey said. “They don’t have to be incompatible.”

Referencing a recent interview she saw with parents of a child who died at Sandy Hook Elementary School last December, the popular television host also said that we cannot, as a society, demonize people with whom we disagree. She also spoke out about the divisiveness that is seen in both government and media today.

Oprah Winfrey Backs Gun Background Checks During Harvard Commencement Speech

Oprah Winfrey delivers the commencement address at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., Thursday, May 30, 2013. She earlier received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. Credit: AP

“In our political system and the media, we often see the reflection of a country that is polarized, that is paralyzed, that is self-interested. And yet I know you know the truth,” Winfrey told graduates, according to Politico.

“We all know that we are better than the cynicism and the pessimism that is regurgitating throughout Washington and the 24 hour cable news cycle,” she added.

Watch her speak about gun control, below:

(H/T: Mediaite)

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Famed TV Host Uses Harvard Commencement Speech to…Push Gun Background Checks

Through the Google Glass, into a wonderland of distraction

In response to Google Glasses Become Even Creepier:

Just wait until the contact-lens version of this technology hits in a few years.  It’s coming.  There’s already an early prototype of a contact lens with LCD computer display capabilities.  

I’m a technology enthusiast from way back.  I used a computer for the first time on a grade-school field trip to the Franklin Institute and immediately thought, “We’re all going to have these in our houses someday.”  I knew immediately they would be my livelihood, and never deviated from studying them throughout school.  Pretty soon I was hanging out at Radio Shack during family trips to the mall, teaching myself how to write BASIC programs on the display TRS-80s.  I don’t think I ever realized how quickly we’d all be carrying around vastly more powerful computers in our pockets.

So I’m not comfortable with my growing urge to slam on the brakes before we pull into this particular express lane of the Information Superhighway.  I’m still enchanted with the possibilities of ready access to a vast data stream.  I remain astonished by the amount of useful knowledge I can have in a matter of moments, anywhere I go.  A while back, I was trying to recall a passage from William Blake while grabbing a quick lunch at a snack bar, and asked my smartphone (literally, with its voice recognition feature) to find it for me.  I had it on my screen in seconds.  That sort of wonder is commonplace these days, but now and then I still find myself dazzled.  Maybe it’s a function of my age.  If so, I’m glad I’m old enough to be amazed.

But we also live in a wonderland of distractions, thanks to the same technology.  Yes, everything becomes a porn delivery system.  The percentage of people using information tech for productive or enlightening pursuits is not terribly high.  (Nothing wrong with having fun as well – books can be used for both entertainment and enlightenment, can’t they?)  More commonly, portable computer devices have become a distraction.  In the case of the imbeciles who fumble with their smartphones while driving, it’s a dangerous one.  Just imagine what it will be like when Google Glasses are cheap and ubiquitous, and there’s a good chance the first guy in line for the red light you’re stuck at is wearing them.  Imagine LCD contact lenses giving everyone a constant personal heads-up display.  

The possibilities are limitless – it could do so many wonderful things for us.  It could liberate our imaginations, much as instant desktop access to the accumulated knowledge, wisdom, and art of the human race was liberating.  Now we carry those gateways in our pockets; soon we’ll wear them on our faces; then we’ll have them floating in our eyes, always on standby; and after that, who knows?  

We are in the process of merging with data.  It’s a process that began with the printing press – arguably, with the development of written language – but now it’s blasted into warp drive, and there’s no stopping it.  But are we really ready for it?  Did we have adequate time to digest the last wave of wonders?  My inner child says, “Faster, faster!  Go, go, go!  Bring on the neural interfaces!”  But I’ve grown up enough to watch people fumbling with text messages while driving at better than sixty miles per hour, or look upon a restaurant full of people playing with their phones instead of talking to each other, and have doubts.

    




Through the Google Glass, into a wonderland of distraction

Media Fail: Benghazi Erodes Hillary’s Favorability Ratings

In a new Quinnipiac survey, Hillary Clinton’s favorability ratings have taken a steep nosedive in just a few months. Back in February, the former Secretary of State and likely 2016 presidential contender sat at a comfortable 61% -34% favorable/unfavorable rating. Today that has dropped to 52% – 40%. It is fairly obvious that despite the media’s best efforts to protect her, the scandal surrounding Benghazi is finally taking the toll it should.

The battle against the media to get the truth out continues.

We all remember the midterm campaign season of 2006, for that was the season of the GOP’s “Culture of Corruption,” a season that dominated both the Democrats’ campaign push and media headlines. And there was no media talk then about “Democrat overreach” or how important it was for Democrats to talk about “the priorities of voters.” No, locked arm-in-arm, Democrats and Their Media worked together to hype scandals, swamp the GOP, and hand Nancy Pelosi the Speaker’s gavel.

Now that the script has flipped, though; now that it is the media’s Precious Obama facing the six-year, midterm curse and Republicans who stand to benefit from a trifecta of scandals, the media is singing a totally different tune. The media word of every day is “Overreach!,” as in will Republicans go too far in pursuing these scandals. And the media talking point of every days is, “The GOP is pursuing these scandals at the expense of voter priorities.”

But that is all the same ole, same ole from our corrupt media — a hustle, a scam, a partisan crusade. The same media that created massive scandals out of nothingburgers like Valerie Plame and Mark Foley now want to nothing-to-see-here legitimate scandals like the IRS and  the administration lying about Benghazi.

The media is desperate to salvage Obama’s second-term agenda, even if that means swallowing hard the taste of knowing Obama’s violations of civil liberties make the dreaded George W. Bush look like a pony-tailed hippie ACLU lawyer.

But the media is also desperate to save Hillary Clinton, for they see her as the best chance to keep the GOP out of the White House in 2016. And they know that all they need to is lay the First Black President template over the First Woman President campaign, and Voila! — what we have here is another eight-years of victories for the State by way of identity politics.  

This is why, for almost a year now, despite four dead bodies, we have been told again and again that Hillary is the Best Secretary of State in the History of Secretary of State-dom.

This is also why the media is criminally disinterested in a White House that has been caught repeatedly lying about events surrounding the September 11 terror attack, and even more disinterested in the State Department’s lack of consulate security, the State Department’s massaging of talking points, and Madame Secretary herself standing before four coffins and going all Charles Bronson against a hapless filmmaker who had nothing to do with anything.

But Congress is interested in the truth, and so are the American people. This is why Hillary’s favorability ratings have collapsed despite the conspiracy that ensured that across all platforms the media was screaming, “This is all politics! The GOP and Fox News are only smearing Hillary! Leave Hillary alone! What difference, uhm, does it make!?”

Our media have devolved into Place Guarding Liars who see their jobs as blocking the truth from getting out, not digging for it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But that is who they are.

 

Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC

    




Media Fail: Benghazi Erodes Hillary’s Favorability Ratings

The Story Behind This Incredible Plane Crash Picture

HERNDON, Va. (TheBlaze/AP) — Two people were taken to a hospital Friday after a two-seat plane crashed into the living room of a third-story apartment outside Washington, D.C., according to Virginia State Police.

Small Plane Crashes Into Herndon Apartment Building

In this frame grab from video provided by NBC4 Washington, the tail section of a small plane sticks out from the side of an apartment building after crashing into the complex early Friday, May 31, 2013, in Herndon, Va. Capt. Willie Bailey with Fairfax County Fire and Rescue in Virginia says the plane ran out of fuel early Friday and crashed, injuring several people. (Photo:AP/NBC4 Washington)

Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller says the Cessna 177B crashed into the roof of the apartment building in Herndon, Virginia, early Friday after it had electrical problems and its engine cut off.

Geller says the men were taking infrared photographs for an aerial photography company. They were headed to Manassas from Philadelphia, but rerouted to Dulles when they ran low on fuel.

Small Plane Crashes Into Herndon Apartment Building

This handout photo provided by the Virginia State Police shows a small plane crashed into the living room of an apartment in Herndon, Va., Friday, May 31, 2013. Capt. Willie Bailey with Fairfax County Fire and Rescue in Virginia says the plane ran out of fuel early Friday and crashed, injuring two people one in the apartment and one in the Cessna 177B. The plane was headed from the Philadelphia area to Manassas Regional Airport. David Ventura, who lives in the apartment, tells WRC-TV he was awakened by the sound of the crash and shocked to discover a plane in his living room. (Photo: AP/Virginia State Police)

Geller says the pilot was taken to the hospital with serious injuries. A woman who was in the apartment was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. A third person was reported by some outlets to have received some injuries in the event as well.

Small Plane Crashes Into Herndon Apartment Building

In this frame grab from video provided by NBC4 Washington, the tail section of a small plane sticks out from the side of an apartment building after crashing into the complex early Friday, May 31, 2013, in Herndon, Va. Capt. Willie Bailey with Fairfax County Fire and Rescue in Virginia says the plane ran out of fuel early Friday and crashed, injuring several people. (Photo: AP/NBC4 Washington)

The Red Cross is helping nine adults, seven children and pets who had to leave the building.

Check out this footage of the plane in the building:

‘After Earth’ Pushes More Environmental Alarmism, Climate Change Fears

You’d think director M. Night Shyamalan would lay off the environmental fear mongering after audiences laughed his eco-thriller The Happening off the screen.

That film had star Mark Wahlberg on the run from a killer gust of wind. Really.

Shyamalan is at it again, albeit in less ludicrous fashion, via his latest project After Earth. The sci-fi film is set in the future, a time when our planet is no longer safe for humans. The film’s crowded prologue shows some of the reasons why, including war and those pesky smokestacks that pump out pollution into the once-pure sky.

It’s one of the laziest new movie tropes in the post apocalyptic genre. We’ve wrecked the Earth with our eco-ignorance, and now we’re paying the price. It’s a wonder WALL*E doesn’t roll by at some point singing songs from Hello, Dolly!

Later in the film, Shyamalan offers a less obvious nod to the climate change crowd. When the film’s heroes, played by Will Smith and his plucky son Jaden, crash land on this unfriendly Earth they face rapidly changing temperatures. Jaden Smith’s character must seek out “hot spots” on the planet in order to survive the sudden chills that happen at night.

It’s like climate change on a daily basis.

Shyamalan isn’t alone in inserting Al Gore-approved messages into his movies. But his alarming decline as a storyteller makes him less able to distract audiences rolling their eyes at more green preaching.

    




‘After Earth’ Pushes More Environmental Alarmism, Climate Change Fears

Unexpected: Consumer Spending Falls in April

On Friday, the Commerce Department reported that consumer spending fell in April, its first drop in over a year. Consumer spending declined 0.2% for the month, after a 0.1% increase in March. Economists had been expecting a modest increase in spending. 

When the agency initially estimated 1st Quarter growth of 2.5%, I noted that the data had worrying trends. The lift in GDP was mostly due to an increase in consumer spending after the first of the year, but that earnings were flat. The savings rate had dipped sharply, suggesting the consumers were dipping into savings to sustain their spending. That seemed unsustainable. 

Turns out it was, as consumers clearly cut back last month. Consumer spending propels about 70% of the economy. April’s weakness will result in a general slowdown in the economy. Economists are now expecting 2nd Quarter growth to slide to 1.5-2%. Even that tepid rate of growth, however, may be too optimistic. If we’ve learned anything in the past few years, it’s that economic news tends to surprise on the downside. 

Still, if 1.5-2% growth is our best case scenario, it will be a very long time until our economy is truly on the mend. 

    




Unexpected: Consumer Spending Falls in April

Washington & Wall Street: Fine Tuning & Fed Independence

A decade ago, former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan and his colleagues on the Federal Open Market Committee were presiding over the lowest interest rates since WWII. The terrorist attack on September of 2001 had spurred the central bank to reverse course and ease tighter policy put in place to cool the financial bubble in technology stocks. The reason for this change in interest rate policy was to arrest any negative economic response from the dastardly act on 9/11. 

But the long-term negative impact of that decision by the Fed continues to color our economic life even today.  No matter your good intentions as a central banker, attempting to fine tune the economy is a dangerous act of folly. In my last comment, “Bernanke’s Housing Bubble is Unsustainable,” we talked about why the Fed’s policies have created an unsustainable situation in the housing sector. The impending problems stemming from the latest round of Fed interest rate ease have begun to emerge in the past week, with financial markets showing more volatility than has been seen in years. But the chief problem facing financial markets is the total lack of independence from the White House of the Bernanke Fed.

“If Bernanke had put even a modest tightening in place at his first FIMC meeting at the end of January 2006, he would have had board support and would have established his Independence,” notes a veteran Republican staffer on Capitol Hill who’s followed Fed policy for three decades. “He didn’t and the market’s had its spurs into him ever since.”

The 2006 timeframe is crucial to understanding why current Fed policy is likely to end in tears. By the middle of that year, banks like Countrywide and Washington Mutual were already showing visible signs of distress.  But Ben Bernanke and his Republican-appointed colleagues on the FOMC did nothing, turning aside warnings from credible Wall Street observers that the subprime debt market was about to collapse. But Bernanke’s FOMC kept interest rates low until the start of 2008, a critical mistake.

Since it is assumed that Chairman Bernanke is leaving the Fed at the end of his term next July, the natural expectation is for the outgoing chairman to keep the froth up. Greenspan did the same, to his discredit, and Bernanke will too because the entire FOMC, who are mostly left-of-center Obama appointees, is on board for endless interest rate ease. This fact is what is really driving fears in the financial markets.  

Had Bernanke raised interest rates even a smidgen in 2006, the subprime crisis would have been far less serious. Much of the worst subprime loan production came after 2006, let us recall, but to his credit, Bernanke has accepted responsibility for this error. Yet he is doing the very same thing again as we all watch. The collegial Bernanke is too worried about his public image and transparency that he has forgotten that part of this job is to say “no” occasionally to the White House and Congress. 

The failure of Bernanke’s FOMC to pull back on low interest rate policy is already causing turmoil in the financial markets. Over the past several weeks, yields on Treasury debt have risen more than a half a point and bond prices have fallen proportionately. In the mortgage market, the current coupon for agency securities has risen almost a point in the past month, so that the on-the-run coupon for GNMA securities is almost three percent.  Home loan rates for consumers are rising rapidly as a result.

The public REITs, commercial banks, and exchange traded funds which own debt securities using leverage and fund themselves in the short-term markets are under growing stress. Again, had Bernanke slowed Fed interest rate ease several years ago, we would not today be looking at bubbles in the debt and equity markets alike. Instead we now face a replay of the 2007 market liquidity crisis as smaller, more limited short term debt markets are tested. As and when the Fed does eventually shift policy in a formal sense, there could be a significant market retreat. Indeed, it seemingly is already underway.    

    




Washington & Wall Street: Fine Tuning & Fed Independence

Did You See the National Spelling Bee Champ’s Surprising Reaction to Win?

Arvind Mahankali had never eaten a knaidel, a word for matzo ball, but he knew how to spell it, earning himself the top spot in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

If you’re wondering, the German-derived Yiddish word is pronounced “kneyd-l.”

Given the victory, which comes with not only bragging rights but a huge trophy and $30,000 in cash and prizes, one might expect a celebratory reaction from the 13-year-old, but it is his more nonchalant reaction that is going viral, topping the social news site Reddit Friday morning.

Spelling Bee Winner Arvind Mahankali Has Nonchalant Reaction

Arvind V. Mahankali, representing New York, stands after winning the championship round at the Scripps National Spelling Bee May 30, 2013 in National Harbor, Maryland. Mahankali won by correctly spelling “knaidel”, a German-derived Yiddish word, defeating Pranav Sivakumar, representing Illinois. (Photo: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

While red and yellow confetti floated into his hair, the champ from New York just stood there and cracked his knuckles. And now that reaction — or lack thereof — is going viral.

Watch Mahankali’s reaction in this video:

Dem Senator Launches Reelection Attacking Obama, Bloomberg

Arkansas Democrat Mark Pryor has launched the first ad of his reelection campaign for 2014. His opening message to voters defends his vote against Obama’s gun control legislation, stressing that the proposals would have done nothing to prevent recent tragedies. His main target, though, is New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose gun control organization has run ads recently against Pryor. 

Text of the ad:

The mayor of New York City is running ads against me because I opposed President Obama’s gun control legislation. Nothing in the Obama plan would have prevented tragedies like Newtown, Aurora, Tucson or even Jonesboro. I’m committed to finding real solutions to gun violence while protecting our Second Amendment rights.

I’m Mark Pryor, and I approve this message because no one from New York or Washington tells me what to do. I listen to Arkansas

Pryor is one of the more vulnerable Democrats running for reelection next year. Mitt Romney won the state by more than 20 points. If Republicans cannot defeat Pryor, it is unlikely they can take control of the Senate. 

An attack on New York City’s Mayor is a good tactic in Arkansas. The implicit attack on Obama and his gun control proposals is more interesting. Simply labeling the proposals as “Obama’s gun control legislation” is for Pryor enough justification for how he voted. No doubt, it is enough for Arkansans as well. 

    




Dem Senator Launches Reelection Attacking Obama, Bloomberg

Morning Joe: GOP Loses Elections Because They Don’t Listen To Me

Say what you will about MSNBC morning host Joe Scarborough, he doesn’t suffer from a deflated sense of self. In fact, he’s quite sure that he and only he has the secret to electoral success for the Republican party. This coming from a man who has not held elective office since 2002 and ran unopposed in the very Republican Florida’s first district his last two elections. 

“This is very important for my Republican brethren You don’t have to listen to me. God knows you haven’t — and you’ve lost election after election after election. You want to keep losing, you go ahead and do that if you’re comfortable with it. Apparently you are.”

Scarborough went on to warn the GOP to not make a focus on Barack Obama a major part of their mid-term strategy because the President remains a very popular figure. He drew upon his experience in 1998 during the Clinton years as an example of mid-term failure. 

Watch the segment here: 

    




Morning Joe: GOP Loses Elections Because They Don’t Listen To Me

Islamic Radicalism (and Other Things) Could Soon Be Cured: Neuroscientist’s Bold Claim

Neuroscientist Kathleen Taylors Bold Assertion: Islamic Radicals, Cultists Could Soon Be Cured

Photo Credit: ShutterStock.com

Radical extremism has proven itself to be a difficult — and deadly — anomaly to combat, which is why a leading neuroscientist’s recent claim that it may soon be possible to “cure” Islamic radicals, cultists and others with negative views and behaviors is raising eyebrows.

Kathleen Taylor, a research scientist at the University of Oxford, made the bold proclamation while speaking at the Hay Literary Festival in Wales, The Times reports.

Taylor said that extreme and negative beliefs can be targeted with some new techniques that are being developed and tested. Hitting children was also mentioned as another behavior that could possibly be treated using these elements.

“One man’s positive can be another man’s negative,” she said, according to the Times. “One of the surprises may be to see people with certain beliefs as people who can be treated.”

Here’s how the Daily Mail recaps some of Taylor’s other comments:

‘Somebody who has for example become radicalised to a cult ideology — we might stop seeing that as a personal choice that they have chosen as a result of pure free will and may start treating it as some kind of mental disturbance.’

‘In many ways that could be a very positive thing because there are no doubt beliefs in our society that do a heck of a lot of damage, that really do a lot of harm. [...]

‘I am not just talking about the obvious candidates like radical Islam or some of the more extreme cults.

‘I am talking about things like the belief that it is OK to beat your children.

‘These beliefs are very harmful but are not normally categorised as mental illness.’

It will be intriguing to see if Taylor is right, however developing these technologies and methods also creates many questions about what would be categorized as “extreme” or “radical.” While most would agree that Islamic extremism and cults fit the bill, the overall dynamic could end up being a slippery slope (i.e. who is defining what ideas and behaviors are “very harmful” to society?).

There isn’t much information given about the actual methodology, so only time will tell how these techniques will play out. Read more about Taylor’s view that radical Islam and other extreme ideologies may soon be curable.

Photo Credit: ShutterStock.com

(H/T: Daily Mail)

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Islamic Radicalism (and Other Things) Could Soon Be Cured: Neuroscientist’s Bold Claim