THE NEXT RWANDA?Power rips ‘industrial-style slaughter’ in Syria civil war

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July 17, 2013: U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. nominee Samantha Power testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington.AP

America’s ambassador to the United Nations raised the specter of genocide in Syria, after officials this week sounded the alarm about spiraling violence in that country’s civil war. 

Gruesome photos of purported civil war victims were shown earlier this week to the U.N. Security Council, depicting corpses with bones protruding and eyes gouged out. It was a haunting and grisly reminder that, as Ukraine and other trouble spots grab international attention, Syria is crumbling under the weight of a vicious war.

Speaking at a U.N. Security Council briefing on genocide, U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power on Wednesday compared the fighting in Syria to the genocide in Rwanda 20 years ago.

She described the photos of Syrian prisoners as showing “systematic, industrial-style slaughter and forced starvation killings” – photos which, she noted, were from just three of the 50 Syrian-run detention centers.

“And to that we can add the Syrian victims of chemical weapons attacks, the children felled by barrel bombs and those being starved to death in besieged towns and villages, or those executed by terrorist groups,” said Power, who has written extensively on genocide. “Twenty years from now, how will we reflect on this Council’s failure to help those people? How will we explain Council disunity on Syria twenty years after Rwanda?”

The administration does not label the deadly Assad campaign against rebels a genocide – though a Syrian opposition leader reportedly did use that term earlier this month in a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry — and the photos shown to the U.N. were disputed by the Syrian government.

But the images coincided with other warnings about the spiraling state of the Syrian civil war. The U.N. Security Council was also meeting Thursday afternoon on violence in the Syrian city of Homs, where some of the worst fighting is taking place. 

While many warn Bashar Assad and his lieutenants are using ruthless tactics against the opposition and civilians, others warn that the entire battlefield has become a magnet for terrorists exploiting the unrest.

“This is a huge and growing international threat that’s like nothing I have ever seen,” Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., chairman of the House intelligence committee, said on Fox News Radio’s “Kilmeade and Friends,” referring to the Al Qaeda presence in eastern Syria. “We can’t get the president or his administration engaged to understand that you just can’t hide from it — because it is not on the front page of the paper does not mean it is not a threat to the U.S. or our allies.”  

The Obama administration last year backed off threats against the Assad regime after allegations of chemical weapons use, with an agreement for Assad to remove his chemical weapons.

While that process has been slow, reports of a chemical gas attack surfaced again over the weekend. 

What exactly happened Friday in Kfar Zeita, a rebel-held village in Hama province some 125 miles north of Damascus, remains unclear and likely won’t be known for some time. But online videos posted by rebel activists from Kfar Zeita echoed earlier images that sparked a world outcry, showing pale-faced men, women and children gasping for breath at a field hospital. They suggest an affliction by some kind of poison — and yet another clouded incident where both sides blame each other in a conflict that activists say has killed more than 150,000 people with no end in sight.

The White House and State Department said this week that officials are still looking into the claims.

As for what support the U.S. is now offering the opposition, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki would not directly confirm reports that one group received U.S.-made anti-missile tanks.

“The United States is committed to – and has been consistently – to building the capacity of the moderate opposition, including through work with our international partners,” she said. “And that also includes through the provision of assistance to vetted members of the moderate armed opposition.”

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, though, reiterated that the administration’s view is “there’s not a military solution” – he said Assad “will never again rule all of Syria,” but the situation must be resolved “through a negotiated political settlement.”

The images shown earlier this week to the Security Council indicate a settlement may be a long way off.

France, which hosted the presentation at the Security Council and a showing of the images afterward at a news conference, said they are evidence of war crimes by the government of Assad.

The veracity of the photos could not be independently confirmed.

Syria’s Justice Ministry has dismissed the photos and accompanying report as “politicized and lacking objectiveness and professionalism,” a “gathering of images of unidentified people, some of whom have turned out to be foreigners.” The ministry said some of the people were militants killed in battle and others were killed by militant groups.

Among the new photos was an image of at least a dozen bodies laid out on the floor of a warehouse, being wrapping in plastic sheets with men in military garb standing among them.

One of the authors of the report, former Sierra Leone Special Court prosecutor David M. Crane, said it was firm evidence of “industrialized systematic killing.”

“They died in agony over months of starvation and torture, and then almost mercifully were executed,” Crane said. “Doesn’t this bring back some interesting images from Dachau, and Auschwitz, and Bergen-Belsen?” Crane observed, sitting in front of the grisly procession of photos projected behind him in a U.N. news conference.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Reid labels supporters of Nevada cattle rancher ‘domestic terrorists’

 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he believes the supporters who rallied around Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy in his fight against the federal government are “domestic terrorists” and Bundy does not respect his country.

The Las Vegas Journal-Review reported that Reid, D-Nev., made the comments at an event Thursday hosted by the paper called “Hashtags & Headlines.”

Federal land managers backed down in a weekend standoff with Bundy after hundreds of states’ rights protesters, including armed militia members, showed up to protest federal officials seizing his cattle. Some protesters had their guns drawn and pointed toward law enforcement, some of whom were also armed. But ultimately, no shots were fired and the Bureau of Land Management reported that officials left over safety concerns.

Reid had harsh words for these supporters, saying the government cannot stop pursuing the issue.

“They’re nothing more than domestic terrorists,” Reid said, according to the paper. “I repeat: what happened there was domestic terrorism.”

Reid said he has been told a federal task force is being set up to deal with the Bundy situation, adding Bundy does not respect the U.S. or its laws.

“Clive Bundy does not recognize the United States,” Reid said. “The United States, he says, is a foreign government. He doesn’t pay his taxes. He doesn’t pay his fees. And he doesn’t follow the law. He continues to thumb his nose at authority.”

Reid also suggested the supporters were dangerous to the community.

“They had sniper rifles in the freeway. They had weapons, automatic weapons. They had children lined up. They wanted to make sure they got hurt first … What if others tried the same thing?” he said.

Bundy has been at odds for years with the feds, who say he owes more than $1.1 million in unpaid grazing fees. BLM long ago revoked Bundy’s grazing rights on that land after citing concern for a federally protected tortoise. Bundy, though, claimed ancestral rights to the land his family settled in the 19th century and has refused to pay the fees or remove his animals.

BLM officials have said they’ll continue their fight through the courts. 

Click for more from the Las Vegas Journal Review.

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‘PERVASIVE’ VIOLENCERate of Christian girls attacked on rise in Egypt

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August 18, 2013:Christians attend Sunday service in the Basilica of our Lady of Fatima in Cairo . Egypt’s Coptic Christians, who make up 10 percent of its 85 million people, have coexisted with the majority Sunni Muslims for centuries. But incidents of violence have risen since the Arab Spring. A new report finds that young Christian girls in the country are being abducted, raped, and even forced to convert to IslamREUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Young Christian women are facing a greater risk of being kidnapped by extremists, tortured, and even forced to convert to Islam since the Arab Spring ended in 2011.

This year already has seen a spike in the incidents, according to a report by the non-profit advocacy group International Christian Concern. It has been estimated by the ICC and other watchdog groups in the region that there have been 500 reported cases of young women being attacked by Muslim men since 2011, but unreported cases could send the figure much higher.

The girls are often assaulted, raped, kidnapped, forced to change their faith and sometimes killed, the ICC said.Making matter worse, nothing is being done by local authorities to prevent it in provinces across Egypt, according to officials from both the ICC and the Clarion Project, a US-based non-profit think tank and advocacy group.

“Not only are they turning a blind eye, they are often compliant,” Issac Six, a spokesman for the ICC told FoxNews.com, citing one incident in which a father was assaulted by an officer for asking too many questions about efforts to have his abducted daughter returned.

“It’s pervasive; police at the local level are not stopping the abductions. There needs to be more pressure from the top,” he added. “We have seen cases before where we’ve seen victims returned when the police put pressure on the kidnappers. We know it’s possible, unfortunately, the police are often complacent.”

Six added that the problem is largely ignored by the international community and that the U.S. needs to be more vocal about the issue in its dialogue with the Egyptian government.

One reported incident occurred in the city of Luxor as recently as February when 15-year-old Amira Hafez Wahib attended a morning prayer service at a local church, according to the study from ICC. Amira had asked her mother if she could go to a store near the church to buy an item. Her mother let her go but urged her to hurry right back.

But Amira never returned and is still missing.

The next day, Amira’s family went to the local police to report she had vanished.

“We received promises from the police here that they would arrest the accused and return Amira to her family, but there is not any positive step from them till now,” Rafla Zekry Rafla, an attorney handling the case, was quoted as saying.

The girl’s family believes that they know who her kidnapper is– a Muslim man, named Yasser Mahmoud, a soldier who was at one time assigned to protect their church. Mahmoud had tried to abduct Amira a few months earlier at a Christian store near the church where she worked.

The family immediately tracked down where the man lived with his family. Relatives told Amira’s parents that they had not heard or seen from Mahmoud since the same day that their daughter disappeared.

Another recent incident occurred on March 9 when a young girl was abducted in front of her school. The family went to the local police for help in locating her.

A few days later, the father was returning home when he was approached by two masked men on a motorcycle. He was stopped by the pair, who attempted to convince him to give up the search for his daughter.

He was told to “just forget her” and had his life threatened. The two men said they would also abduct his other daughters if he continued his search.

Things got worse for the family, whose identities have not been made public due to safety concerns, when the father went to the Civil Status Authority to get a copy of her birth certificate only to discover that her name had been changed and her religion had been changed to Islam.

The ICC report also suggests that more minor incidents are on the rise as well, such as young Christian women wearing crosses in public having them violently ripped off their necks.

Experts point out that the rise in the abuse against young Christian women is likely due to societal misogyny and Islamist indoctrination as well as the recent loss in government power by the Muslim Brotherhood.

“There’s a huge conflict between the Islamist and Christian populations in Egypt right now,” Ryan Mauro, a National Security Analyst with the Clarion Project, said to FoxNews.com. “The Coptic Christians are supporting General el-Sisi because of the military’s efforts to take the Muslim Brotherhood out of power.”

“The radical Islamists are angry. So they are retaliating,” he added.

The Brotherhood is not helping matters,” Mauro said. “They incite the people to carry out these aggressive acts, but when the people carry them out, they denounce it.”

“They know full well what they are doing.”

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DEADLY AVALANCHE At least 12 dead, 3 missing in Mount Everest accident

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Mount Everest (C), the world highest peak, and other peaks of the Himalayan range are seen from air during a mountain flight from Kathmandu April 24, 2010. (REUTERS/Tim Chong)

An avalanche swept Mount Everest’s slopes on Friday along a route used to climb the world’s highest peak, killing at least 12 Nepalese guides and leaving three missing in the worst disaster to hit climbers on the mountain, officials said.

The Sherpa guides had gone early in the morning to fix ropes for other climbers when the avalanche hit just them below Camp 2 at about 6:30 a.m., Nepal Tourism Ministry official Krishna Lamsal said from the base camp where he is monitoring rescue efforts.

Rescue workers pulled out 12 bodies from under mounds of snow and ice and were searching for the three missing guides, Lamsal said.

Two Sherpas who were injured were taken by helicopter to hospitals in Nepal’s capital, Katmandu.

Hundreds of climbers, their guides and support crews have gathered at the base camp to prepare for attempts to scale the 29,035-foot mountain early next month when weather conditions become favorable. They have been setting up camps at higher altitudes and guides have been fixing routes and ropes on the slopes above.

As soon as the avalanche hit, rescuers and fellow climbers rushed to help.

Ang Tshering of the Nepal Mountaineering Association said the area where the avalanche hit is nicknamed the “popcorn field” and is just below Camp 2 at 21,000 feet.

Earlier this year, Nepal announced several steps to better manage the heavy flow of climbers and speed up rescue operations. The steps included the dispatch of officials and security personnel to the base camp at 17,380 feet, where they will stay throughout the spring climbing season that ends in May.

More than 4,000 climbers have scaled the summit since 1953, when it was first conquered by New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay. Hundreds have died attempting to reach the peak.

The worst recorded disaster on Everest was on May 11, 1996, when eight climbers were killed in one day because of a snow storm near the summit. Six Nepalese guides were killed in an avalanche in 1970.

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ENDING ‘RE-HOMING’? Wis. restricts parents from giving up adopted kids

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May 7, 2013: Adopted child Quita Puchalla, 21, poses outside her apartment in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.Reuters

Wisconsin has become the first state in the nation to pass legislation cracking down on parents who try to give away their adopted kids. 

On Wednesday, Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill that would bar adoptive parents from finding a new home for their children without court permission. The legislation sought to protect adopted children from the unregulated practice of “re-homing,” where adoptive parents use underground networks to find a new family for children they don’t want. 

“With virtually no oversight, children could literally be traded from home to home. In Wisconsin, that is now against the law,” Republican Rep. Joel Kleefisch, who sponsored the legislation, said. “Hopefully citizens of the country will follow our lead.”

The Wisconsin push comes after hundreds of parents were caught using social media sites to give away their adopted kids to strangers they met on the Internet. In some cases, that meant to predators and pedophiles.

Presently, there are no federal rules that prevent the practice of “re-homing” children — a term typically used by pet owners looking for new homes for their unruly animals.

Many nations don’t disclose if the children they are putting up for adoption are victims of physical abuse or mental trauma. The adoptive parents in these scenarios often are unable to adequately care for the children, and some are left looking for questionable outs, Kathy Ledesma, national project director for Adopt US Kids, told FoxNews.com.

Ledesma, who has worked in the past on international adoptions, says states aren’t funded to handle issues that arise with these types of adoptions. Because these parents are often stuck in a situation, they turn to underground networks to dump the children they don’t want or can’t care for.

The legislation comes following a series of reports from Reuters looking into the underground trade of adopted minors. 

Reuters analyzed 5,029 posts from parents of adopted children over a five-year period on a Yahoo Internet message board. The news agency found that, on average, one child per week was advertised for “re-homing” In total, 261 kids were offered up via Yahoo.

The kids on the site, offered up for “re-homing,” typically ranged in age from 6 to 14, although the youngest was 10 months old. Most had been adopted from other countries, including China, Russia and Ethiopia.

One reported case involved a Wisconsin couple. When couple Todd and Melissa Puchalla adopted Quita, a 14-year-old girl with a history of mental problems, from Liberia, they thought it would be easier. But after two years with the troubled teen, they decided to give her up, posting an ad on the Internet.

Less than 48 hours after posting the ad, Illinois couple Nicole and Calvin Eason contacted the Puchallas, saying they were interested in Quita. On Oct. 4, 2008, the Puchallas drove from their Wisconsin home to Westville, Ill., ready to hand over Quita. They didn’t know anything about the Easons.

They reportedly didn’t bother doing a simple background check on the couple they were handing their child to. Had they, they would have found that child welfare authorities had taken away both of Nicole Eason’s biological children, including a newborn baby boy. The deputy who had taken the infant away said in his report that the “parents have severe psychiatric problems as well with violent tendencies,” Reuters reported.

Police reports also showed that children the couple baby-sat in the past had accused the Easons of sexual abuse. The only official document attesting to the Easons parenting skills was later found to be doctored by the Easons.

During her first night with the Easons, Quita told Reuters, her new guardians told her to join them in their bed. Nicole was naked, Quita said, according to Reuters.

In July 2009, Tom and Misty Mealey also welcomed the Easons to their Roanoke, Va., home. The Mealeys were prepared to give the Easons one of their children – a 5-year-old adopted boy from Guatemala they had adopted earlier.

Tom was a cop.

“It’s horribly embarrassing,” he told Reuters of being misled by the Easons. “The thought that I spent a career dealing with people like this is even more embarrassing. I wish we had done more.” 

Following the Reuters investigation, Yahoo shut down their Adopting-from-Disruption bulletin board. Yahoo also took down five other discussion boards.

The Reuters investigation also found a forum on Facebook, but that one remains active. Emails to Facebook for comment by FoxNews.com were not returned.

Quita, now 21, is enrolled  at the Milwaukee Area Technical College where she is studying social work. She lost her apartment over the summer and is now in temporary housing.

The little boy the Mealeys gave up is now 9-years-old. He is currently a ward of New York state.

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Reid labels supporters of Nevada cattle rancher ‘domestic terrorists’

 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he believes the supporters who rallied around Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy in his fight against the federal government are “domestic terrorists” and Bundy does not respect his country.

The Las Vegas Journal-Review reported that Reid, D-Nev., made the comments at an event Thursday hosted by the paper called “Hashtags & Headlines.”

Federal land managers backed down in a weekend standoff with Bundy after hundreds of states’ rights protesters, including armed militia members, showed up to protest federal officials seizing his cattle. Some protesters had their guns drawn and pointed toward law enforcement, some of whom were also armed. But ultimately, no shots were fired and the Bureau of Land Management reported that officials left over safety concerns.

Reid had harsh words for these supporters, saying the government cannot stop pursuing the issue.

“They’re nothing more than domestic terrorists,” Reid said, according to the paper. “I repeat: what happened there was domestic terrorism.”

Reid said he has been told a federal task force is being set up to deal with the Bundy situation, adding Bundy does not respect the U.S. or its laws.

“Clive Bundy does not recognize the United States,” Reid said. “The United States, he says, is a foreign government. He doesn’t pay his taxes. He doesn’t pay his fees. And he doesn’t follow the law. He continues to thumb his nose at authority.”

Reid also suggested the supporters were dangerous to the community.

“They had sniper rifles in the freeway. They had weapons, automatic weapons. They had children lined up. They wanted to make sure they got hurt first … What if others tried the same thing?” he said.

Bundy has been at odds for years with the feds, who say he owes more than $1.1 million in unpaid grazing fees. BLM long ago revoked Bundy’s grazing rights on that land after citing concern for a federally protected tortoise. Bundy, though, claimed ancestral rights to the land his family settled in the 19th century and has refused to pay the fees or remove his animals.

BLM officials have said they’ll continue their fight through the courts. 

Click for more from the Las Vegas Journal Review.

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THE NEXT RWANDA?Power rips ‘industrial-style slaughter’ in Syria civil war

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July 17, 2013: U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. nominee Samantha Power testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington.AP

America’s ambassador to the United Nations raised the specter of genocide in Syria, after officials this week sounded the alarm about spiraling violence in that country’s civil war. 

Gruesome photos of purported civil war victims were shown earlier this week to the U.N. Security Council, depicting corpses with bones protruding and eyes gouged out. It was a haunting and grisly reminder that, as Ukraine and other trouble spots grab international attention, Syria is crumbling under the weight of a vicious war.

Speaking at a U.N. Security Council briefing on genocide, U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power on Wednesday compared the fighting in Syria to the genocide in Rwanda 20 years ago.

She described the photos of Syrian prisoners as showing “systematic, industrial-style slaughter and forced starvation killings” – photos which, she noted, were from just three of the 50 Syrian-run detention centers.

“And to that we can add the Syrian victims of chemical weapons attacks, the children felled by barrel bombs and those being starved to death in besieged towns and villages, or those executed by terrorist groups,” said Power, who has written extensively on genocide. “Twenty years from now, how will we reflect on this Council’s failure to help those people? How will we explain Council disunity on Syria twenty years after Rwanda?”

The administration does not label the deadly Assad campaign against rebels a genocide – though a Syrian opposition leader reportedly did use that term earlier this month in a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry — and the photos shown to the U.N. were disputed by the Syrian government.

But the images coincided with other warnings about the spiraling state of the Syrian civil war. The U.N. Security Council was also meeting Thursday afternoon on violence in the Syrian city of Homs, where some of the worst fighting is taking place. 

While many warn Bashar Assad and his lieutenants are using ruthless tactics against the opposition and civilians, others warn that the entire battlefield has become a magnet for terrorists exploiting the unrest.

“This is a huge and growing international threat that’s like nothing I have ever seen,” Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., chairman of the House intelligence committee, said on Fox News Radio’s “Kilmeade and Friends,” referring to the Al Qaeda presence in eastern Syria. “We can’t get the president or his administration engaged to understand that you just can’t hide from it — because it is not on the front page of the paper does not mean it is not a threat to the U.S. or our allies.”  

The Obama administration last year backed off threats against the Assad regime after allegations of chemical weapons use, with an agreement for Assad to remove his chemical weapons.

While that process has been slow, reports of a chemical gas attack surfaced again over the weekend. 

What exactly happened Friday in Kfar Zeita, a rebel-held village in Hama province some 125 miles north of Damascus, remains unclear and likely won’t be known for some time. But online videos posted by rebel activists from Kfar Zeita echoed earlier images that sparked a world outcry, showing pale-faced men, women and children gasping for breath at a field hospital. They suggest an affliction by some kind of poison — and yet another clouded incident where both sides blame each other in a conflict that activists say has killed more than 150,000 people with no end in sight.

The White House and State Department said this week that officials are still looking into the claims.

As for what support the U.S. is now offering the opposition, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki would not directly confirm reports that one group received U.S.-made anti-missile tanks.

“The United States is committed to – and has been consistently – to building the capacity of the moderate opposition, including through work with our international partners,” she said. “And that also includes through the provision of assistance to vetted members of the moderate armed opposition.”

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, though, reiterated that the administration’s view is “there’s not a military solution” – he said Assad “will never again rule all of Syria,” but the situation must be resolved “through a negotiated political settlement.”

The images shown earlier this week to the Security Council indicate a settlement may be a long way off.

France, which hosted the presentation at the Security Council and a showing of the images afterward at a news conference, said they are evidence of war crimes by the government of Assad.

The veracity of the photos could not be independently confirmed.

Syria’s Justice Ministry has dismissed the photos and accompanying report as “politicized and lacking objectiveness and professionalism,” a “gathering of images of unidentified people, some of whom have turned out to be foreigners.” The ministry said some of the people were militants killed in battle and others were killed by militant groups.

Among the new photos was an image of at least a dozen bodies laid out on the floor of a warehouse, being wrapping in plastic sheets with men in military garb standing among them.

One of the authors of the report, former Sierra Leone Special Court prosecutor David M. Crane, said it was firm evidence of “industrialized systematic killing.”

“They died in agony over months of starvation and torture, and then almost mercifully were executed,” Crane said. “Doesn’t this bring back some interesting images from Dachau, and Auschwitz, and Bergen-Belsen?” Crane observed, sitting in front of the grisly procession of photos projected behind him in a U.N. news conference.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Reid: Bundy supporters are ‘terrorists’

 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he believes the supporters who rallied around Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy in his fight against the federal government are “domestic terrorists” and Bundy does not respect his country.

The Las Vegas Journal-Review reported that Reid, D-Nev., made the comments at an event Thursday hosted by the paper called “Hashtags & Headlines.”

Federal land managers backed down in a weekend standoff with Bundy after hundreds of states’ rights protesters, including armed militia members, showed up to protest federal officials seizing his cattle. Some protesters had their guns drawn and pointed toward law enforcement, some of whom were also armed. But ultimately, no shots were fired and the Bureau of Land Management reported that officials left over safety concerns.

Reid had harsh words for these supporters, saying the government cannot stop pursuing the issue.

“They’re nothing more than domestic terrorists,” Reid said, according to the paper. “I repeat: what happened there was domestic terrorism.”

Reid said he has been told a federal task force is being set up to deal with the Bundy situation, adding Bundy does not respect the U.S. or its laws.

“Clive Bundy does not recognize the United States,” Reid said. “The United States, he says, is a foreign government. He doesn’t pay his taxes. He doesn’t pay his fees. And he doesn’t follow the law. He continues to thumb his nose at authority.”

Reid also suggested the supporters were dangerous to the community.

“They had sniper rifles in the freeway. They had weapons, automatic weapons. They had children lined up. They wanted to make sure they got hurt first … What if others tried the same thing?” he said.

Bundy has been at odds for years with the feds, who say he owes more than $1.1 million in unpaid grazing fees. BLM long ago revoked Bundy’s grazing rights on that land after citing concern for a federally protected tortoise. Bundy, though, claimed ancestral rights to the land his family settled in the 19th century and has refused to pay the fees or remove his animals.

BLM officials have said they’ll continue their fight through the courts. 

Click for more from the Las Vegas Journal Review.

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THE NEXT RWANDA?Power rips ‘industrial-style slaughter’ in Syria civil war

Power_080113.jpg

July 17, 2013: U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. nominee Samantha Power testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington.AP

America’s ambassador to the United Nations raised the specter of genocide in Syria, after officials this week sounded the alarm about spiraling violence in that country’s civil war. 

Gruesome photos of purported civil war victims were shown earlier this week to the U.N. Security Council, depicting corpses with bones protruding and eyes gouged out. It was a haunting and grisly reminder that, as Ukraine and other trouble spots grab international attention, Syria is crumbling under the weight of a vicious war.

Speaking at a U.N. Security Council briefing on genocide, U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power on Wednesday compared the fighting in Syria to the genocide in Rwanda 20 years ago.

She described the photos of Syrian prisoners as showing “systematic, industrial-style slaughter and forced starvation killings” – photos which, she noted, were from just three of the 50 Syrian-run detention centers.

“And to that we can add the Syrian victims of chemical weapons attacks, the children felled by barrel bombs and those being starved to death in besieged towns and villages, or those executed by terrorist groups,” said Power, who has written extensively on genocide. “Twenty years from now, how will we reflect on this Council’s failure to help those people? How will we explain Council disunity on Syria twenty years after Rwanda?”

The administration does not label the deadly Assad campaign against rebels a genocide – though a Syrian opposition leader reportedly did use that term earlier this month in a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry — and the photos shown to the U.N. were disputed by the Syrian government.

But the images coincided with other warnings about the spiraling state of the Syrian civil war. The U.N. Security Council was also meeting Thursday afternoon on violence in the Syrian city of Homs, where some of the worst fighting is taking place. 

While many warn Bashar Assad and his lieutenants are using ruthless tactics against the opposition and civilians, others warn that the entire battlefield has become a magnet for terrorists exploiting the unrest.

“This is a huge and growing international threat that’s like nothing I have ever seen,” Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., chairman of the House intelligence committee, said on Fox News Radio’s “Kilmeade and Friends,” referring to the Al Qaeda presence in eastern Syria. “We can’t get the president or his administration engaged to understand that you just can’t hide from it — because it is not on the front page of the paper does not mean it is not a threat to the U.S. or our allies.”  

The Obama administration last year backed off threats against the Assad regime after allegations of chemical weapons use, with an agreement for Assad to remove his chemical weapons.

While that process has been slow, reports of a chemical gas attack surfaced again over the weekend. 

What exactly happened Friday in Kfar Zeita, a rebel-held village in Hama province some 125 miles north of Damascus, remains unclear and likely won’t be known for some time. But online videos posted by rebel activists from Kfar Zeita echoed earlier images that sparked a world outcry, showing pale-faced men, women and children gasping for breath at a field hospital. They suggest an affliction by some kind of poison — and yet another clouded incident where both sides blame each other in a conflict that activists say has killed more than 150,000 people with no end in sight.

The White House and State Department said this week that officials are still looking into the claims.

As for what support the U.S. is now offering the opposition, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki would not directly confirm reports that one group received U.S.-made anti-missile tanks.

“The United States is committed to – and has been consistently – to building the capacity of the moderate opposition, including through work with our international partners,” she said. “And that also includes through the provision of assistance to vetted members of the moderate armed opposition.”

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, though, reiterated that the administration’s view is “there’s not a military solution” – he said Assad “will never again rule all of Syria,” but the situation must be resolved “through a negotiated political settlement.”

The images shown earlier this week to the Security Council indicate a settlement may be a long way off.

France, which hosted the presentation at the Security Council and a showing of the images afterward at a news conference, said they are evidence of war crimes by the government of Assad.

The veracity of the photos could not be independently confirmed.

Syria’s Justice Ministry has dismissed the photos and accompanying report as “politicized and lacking objectiveness and professionalism,” a “gathering of images of unidentified people, some of whom have turned out to be foreigners.” The ministry said some of the people were militants killed in battle and others were killed by militant groups.

Among the new photos was an image of at least a dozen bodies laid out on the floor of a warehouse, being wrapping in plastic sheets with men in military garb standing among them.

One of the authors of the report, former Sierra Leone Special Court prosecutor David M. Crane, said it was firm evidence of “industrialized systematic killing.”

“They died in agony over months of starvation and torture, and then almost mercifully were executed,” Crane said. “Doesn’t this bring back some interesting images from Dachau, and Auschwitz, and Bergen-Belsen?” Crane observed, sitting in front of the grisly procession of photos projected behind him in a U.N. news conference.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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SUSPECT NABBED Kansas City police arrest man in highway shootings

ksshootings.jpg

April 9, 2014: Kansas City police and agents from the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms with canines investigated a shooting along southbound Interstate 435 in Kansas City, Mo.AP

Police arrested a suspect Thursday in a string of random vehicle shootings on Kansas City-area highways over the past few weeks that have wounded three motorists and frightened many more.

Police Chief Darryl Forte said at a news conference that the suspect is male and lives in Grandview, a suburb south of the city that is home to the Grandview Triangle, where several highways intersect and where at least six of the reported shootings happened.

Forte didn’t release the name or age of the suspect, saying he hoped to be able to discuss the case in further detail at a news conference Friday.

“We’re here now to basically let people know someone has been apprehended,” an upbeat Forte told reporters at an impromptu news conference about 50 yards from a house where the suspect was taken into custody earlier in the day. “I wanted to make sure the residents and those who travel through Kansas City know they’re safe. They’ve been safe the whole time.”

Investigators could be seen searching the single-story four-plex Thursday night, and a tow truck hauled away a green Dodge Neon that was parked behind house, which is about two blocks from U.S. 49 and south of the Grandview Triangle.

Forte said the Jackson County prosecutor’s office would determine if there is enough evidence to warrant pressing formal charges.

Detectives and analysts started noticing a pattern two weeks ago after reports of random shootings started coming in. Earlier this week, investigators were looking into about 20 reports of shootings, but that number has fluctuated as some reports were cleared and others came in.

Late last week, police said they had connected a dozen shootings to the same person. Forte has said little to this point about how the shootings were linked or what kind of vehicle the suspect drove.

Two of the wounded drivers were shot in the leg and the third was shot in the arm. None of their wounds were considered life-threatening.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/04/18/suspect-arrested-in-kansas-city-highway-shootings/

Reid: Bundy supporters are ‘terrorists’

 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he believes the supporters who rallied around Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy in his fight against the federal government are “domestic terrorists” and Bundy does not respect his country.

The Las Vegas Journal-Review reported that Reid, D-Nev., made the comments at an event Thursday hosted by the paper called “Hashtags & Headlines.”

Federal land managers backed down in a weekend standoff with Bundy after hundreds of states’ rights protesters, including armed militia members, showed up to protest federal officials seizing his cattle. Some protesters had their guns drawn and pointed toward law enforcement, some of whom were also armed. But ultimately, no shots were fired and the Bureau of Land Management reported that officials left over safety concerns.

Reid had harsh words for these supporters, saying the government cannot stop pursuing the issue.

“They’re nothing more than domestic terrorists,” Reid said, according to the paper. “I repeat: what happened there was domestic terrorism.”

Reid said he has been told a federal task force is being set up to deal with the Bundy situation, adding Bundy does not respect the U.S. or its laws.

“Clive Bundy does not recognize the United States,” Reid said. “The United States, he says, is a foreign government. He doesn’t pay his taxes. He doesn’t pay his fees. And he doesn’t follow the law. He continues to thumb his nose at authority.”

Reid also suggested the supporters were dangerous to the community.

“They had sniper rifles in the freeway. They had weapons, automatic weapons. They had children lined up. They wanted to make sure they got hurt first … What if others tried the same thing?” he said.

Bundy has been at odds for years with the feds, who say he owes more than $1.1 million in unpaid grazing fees. BLM long ago revoked Bundy’s grazing rights on that land after citing concern for a federally protected tortoise. Bundy, though, claimed ancestral rights to the land his family settled in the 19th century and has refused to pay the fees or remove his animals.

BLM officials have said they’ll continue their fight through the courts. 

Click for more from the Las Vegas Journal Review.

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ENDING ‘RE-HOMING’? Wis. restricts parents from giving up adopted kids

Wisconsin adoption law.jpg

May 7, 2013: Adopted child Quita Puchalla, 21, poses outside her apartment in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.Reuters

Wisconsin has become the first state in the nation to pass legislation cracking down on parents who try to give away their adopted kids. 

On Wednesday, Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill that would bar adoptive parents from finding a new home for their children without court permission. The legislation sought to protect adopted children from the unregulated practice of “re-homing,” where adoptive parents use underground networks to find a new family for children they don’t want. 

“With virtually no oversight, children could literally be traded from home to home. In Wisconsin, that is now against the law,” Republican Rep. Joel Kleefisch, who sponsored the legislation, said. “Hopefully citizens of the country will follow our lead.”

The Wisconsin push comes after hundreds of parents were caught using social media sites to give away their adopted kids to strangers they met on the Internet. In some cases, that meant to predators and pedophiles.

Presently, there are no federal rules that prevent the practice of “re-homing” children — a term typically used by pet owners looking for new homes for their unruly animals.

Many nations don’t disclose if the children they are putting up for adoption are victims of physical abuse or mental trauma. The adoptive parents in these scenarios often are unable to adequately care for the children, and some are left looking for questionable outs, Kathy Ledesma, national project director for Adopt US Kids, told FoxNews.com.

Ledesma, who has worked in the past on international adoptions, says states aren’t funded to handle issues that arise with these types of adoptions. Because these parents are often stuck in a situation, they turn to underground networks to dump the children they don’t want or can’t care for.

The legislation comes following a series of reports from Reuters looking into the underground trade of adopted minors. 

Reuters analyzed 5,029 posts from parents of adopted children over a five-year period on a Yahoo Internet message board. The news agency found that, on average, one child per week was advertised for “re-homing” In total, 261 kids were offered up via Yahoo.

The kids on the site, offered up for “re-homing,” typically ranged in age from 6 to 14, although the youngest was 10 months old. Most had been adopted from other countries, including China, Russia and Ethiopia.

One reported case involved a Wisconsin couple. When couple Todd and Melissa Puchalla adopted Quita, a 14-year-old girl with a history of mental problems, from Liberia, they thought it would be easier. But after two years with the troubled teen, they decided to give her up, posting an ad on the Internet.

Less than 48 hours after posting the ad, Illinois couple Nicole and Calvin Eason contacted the Puchallas, saying they were interested in Quita. On Oct. 4, 2008, the Puchallas drove from their Wisconsin home to Westville, Ill., ready to hand over Quita. They didn’t know anything about the Easons.

They reportedly didn’t bother doing a simple background check on the couple they were handing their child to. Had they, they would have found that child welfare authorities had taken away both of Nicole Eason’s biological children, including a newborn baby boy. The deputy who had taken the infant away said in his report that the “parents have severe psychiatric problems as well with violent tendencies,” Reuters reported.

Police reports also showed that children the couple baby-sat in the past had accused the Easons of sexual abuse. The only official document attesting to the Easons parenting skills was later found to be doctored by the Easons.

During her first night with the Easons, Quita told Reuters, her new guardians told her to join them in their bed. Nicole was naked, Quita said, according to Reuters.

In July 2009, Tom and Misty Mealey also welcomed the Easons to their Roanoke, Va., home. The Mealeys were prepared to give the Easons one of their children – a 5-year-old adopted boy from Guatemala they had adopted earlier.

Tom was a cop.

“It’s horribly embarrassing,” he told Reuters of being misled by the Easons. “The thought that I spent a career dealing with people like this is even more embarrassing. I wish we had done more.” 

Following the Reuters investigation, Yahoo shut down their Adopting-from-Disruption bulletin board. Yahoo also took down five other discussion boards.

The Reuters investigation also found a forum on Facebook, but that one remains active. Emails to Facebook for comment by FoxNews.com were not returned.

Puchalla, now 21, is enrolled  at the Milwaukee Area Technical College where she is studying social work. She lost her apartment over the summer and is now in temporary housing.

The little boy the Mealeys gave up is now 9-years-old. He is currently a ward of New York state.

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Reid: Bundy supporters are ‘terrorists’

 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he believes the supporters who rallied around Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy in his fight against the federal government are “domestic terrorists” and Bundy does not respect his country.

The Las Vegas Journal-Review reported that Reid, D-Nev., made the comments at an event Thursday hosted by the paper called “Hashtags & Headlines.”

Federal land managers backed down in a weekend standoff with Bundy after hundreds of states’ rights protesters, including armed militia members, showed up to protest federal officials seizing his cattle. Some protesters had their guns drawn and pointed toward law enforcement, some of whom were also armed. But ultimately, no shots were fired and the Bureau of Land Management reported that officials left over safety concerns.

Reid had harsh words for these supporters, saying the government cannot stop pursuing the issue.

“They’re nothing more than domestic terrorists,” Reid said, according to the paper. “I repeat: what happened there was domestic terrorism.”

Reid said he has been told a federal task force is being set up to deal with the Bundy situation, adding Bundy does not respect the U.S. or its laws.

“Clive Bundy does not recognize the United States,” Reid said. “The United States, he says, is a foreign government. He doesn’t pay his taxes. He doesn’t pay his fees. And he doesn’t follow the law. He continues to thumb his nose at authority.”

Reid also suggested the supporters were dangerous to the community.

“They had sniper rifles in the freeway. They had weapons, automatic weapons. They had children lined up. They wanted to make sure they got hurt first … What if others tried the same thing?” he said.

Bundy has been at odds for years with the feds, who say he owes more than $1.1 million in unpaid grazing fees. BLM long ago revoked Bundy’s grazing rights on that land after citing concern for a federally protected tortoise. Bundy, though, claimed ancestral rights to the land his family settled in the 19th century and has refused to pay the fees or remove his animals.

BLM officials have said they’ll continue their fight through the courts. 

Click for more from the Las Vegas Journal Review.

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ENDING ‘RE-HOMING’? Wis. restricts parents from giving up adopted kids

Wisconsin adoption law.jpg

May 7, 2013: Adopted child Quita Puchalla, 21, poses outside her apartment in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.Reuters

Wisconsin has become the first state in the nation to pass legislation cracking down on parents who try to give away their adopted kids. 

On Wednesday, Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill that would bar adoptive parents from finding a new home for their children without court permission. The legislation sought to protect adopted children from the unregulated practice of “re-homing,” where adoptive parents use underground networks to find a new family for children they don’t want. 

“With virtually no oversight, children could literally be traded from home to home. In Wisconsin, that is now against the law,” Republican Rep. Joel Kleefisch, who sponsored the legislation, said. “Hopefully citizens of the country will follow our lead.”

The Wisconsin push comes after hundreds of parents were caught using social media sites to give away their adopted kids to strangers they met on the Internet. In some cases, that meant to predators and pedophiles.

Presently, there are no federal rules that prevent the practice of “re-homing” children — a term typically used by pet owners looking for new homes for their unruly animals.

Many nations don’t disclose if the children they are putting up for adoption are victims of physical abuse or mental trauma. The adoptive parents in these scenarios often are unable to adequately care for the children, and some are left looking for questionable outs, Kathy Ledesma, national project director for Adopt US Kids, told FoxNews.com.

Ledesma, who has worked in the past on international adoptions, says states aren’t funded to handle issues that arise with these types of adoptions. Because these parents are often stuck in a situation, they turn to underground networks to dump the children they don’t want or can’t care for.

The legislation comes following a series of reports from Reuters looking into the underground trade of adopted minors. 

Reuters analyzed 5,029 posts from parents of adopted children over a five-year period on a Yahoo Internet message board. The news agency found that, on average, one child per week was advertised for “re-homing” In total, 261 kids were offered up via Yahoo.

The kids on the site, offered up for “re-homing,” typically ranged in age from 6 to 14, although the youngest was 10 months old. Most had been adopted from other countries, including China, Russia and Ethiopia.

One reported case involved a Wisconsin couple. When couple Todd and Melissa Puchalla adopted Quita, a 14-year-old girl with a history of mental problems, from Liberia, they thought it would be easier. But after two years with the troubled teen, they decided to give her up, posting an ad on the Internet.

Less than 48 hours after posting the ad, Illinois couple Nicole and Calvin Eason contacted the Puchallas, saying they were interested in Quita. On Oct. 4, 2008, the Puchallas drove from their Wisconsin home to Westville, Ill., ready to hand over Quita. They didn’t know anything about the Easons.

They reportedly didn’t bother doing a simple background check on the couple they were handing their child to. Had they, they would have found that child welfare authorities had taken away both of Nicole Eason’s biological children, including a newborn baby boy. The deputy who had taken the infant away said in his report that the “parents have severe psychiatric problems as well with violent tendencies,” Reuters reported.

Police reports also showed that children the couple baby-sat in the past had accused the Easons of sexual abuse. The only official document attesting to the Easons parenting skills was later found to be doctored by the Easons.

During her first night with the Easons, Quita told Reuters, her new guardians told her to join them in their bed. Nicole was naked, Quita said, according to Reuters.

In July 2009, Tom and Misty Mealey also welcomed the Easons to their Roanoke, Va., home. The Mealeys were prepared to give the Easons one of their children – a 5-year-old adopted boy from Guatemala they had adopted earlier.

Tom was a cop.

“It’s horribly embarrassing,” he told Reuters of being misled by the Easons. “The thought that I spent a career dealing with people like this is even more embarrassing. I wish we had done more.” 

Following the Reuters investigation, Yahoo shut down their Adopting-from-Disruption bulletin board. Yahoo also took down five other discussion boards.

The Reuters investigation also found a forum on Facebook, but that one remains active. Emails to Facebook for comment by FoxNews.com were not returned.

Puchalla, now 21, is enrolled  at the Milwaukee Area Technical College where she is studying social work. She lost her apartment over the summer and is now in temporary housing.

The little boy the Mealeys gave up is now 9-years-old. He is currently a ward of New York state.

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Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/04/17/wisconsin-becomes-first-state-to-ban-advertising-adopted-kids-online/

WWE-GYPT Document shows ancient wrestling was fixed

ancient-wrestling-contract

Researchers have deciphered a contract, pictured here, that was written in A.D. 267 between the guarantors of two wrestlers named Nicantinous and Demetrius. In it the father of Nicantinous pledges to pay Demetrius 3,800 drachma if he allows NicImage courtesy Egypt Exploration Society

Who says only modern-day pro wrestling is fake?

Researchers have deciphered a Greek document that shows an ancient wrestling match was fixed. The document, which has a date on it that corresponds to the year A.D. 267, is a contract between two teenagers who had reached the final bout of a prestigious series of games in Egypt.

This is the first time that a written contract between two athletes to fix a match has been found from the ancient world.

In the contract, the father of a wrestler named Nicantinous agrees to pay a bribe to the guarantors (likely the trainers) of another wrestler named Demetrius. Both wrestlers were set to compete in the final wrestling match of the 138th Great Antinoeia, an important series of regional games held along with a religious festival in Antinopolis, in Egypt. They were in the boys’ division, which was generally reserved for teenagers. 

[In Photos: Gladiators of the Roman Empire]

The contract stipulates that Demetrius “when competing in the competition for the boy [wrestlers], to fall three times and yield,” and in return would receive “three thousand eight hundred drachmas of silver of old coinage “

There were no pins in this Greek style of wrestling, and the goal of the wrestlers was to throw the other to the ground three times. A wide array of holds and throws were used, a few of which look a bit like a body slam.

The contract includes a clause that Demetrius is still to be paid if the judges realize the match is fixed and refuse to reward Nicantinous the win. If “the crown is reserved as sacred, (we) are not to institute proceedings against him about these things,” the contract reads. It also says that if Demetrius reneges on the deal, and wins the match anyway, then “you are of necessity to pay as penalty to my [same] son on account of wrongdoing three talents of silver of old coinage without any delay or inventive argument.”

The translator of the text, Dominic Rathbone, a professor at King’s College London, noted that 3,800 drachma was a relatively small amount of money about enough to buy a donkey, according to another papyrus. Moreover, the large sum Demetrius would forfeit if he were to back out of the deal suggests his trainers would have been paid additional money Rathbone said.

The match fixing took place at an event honoring Antinous, the deceased male lover of the Emperor Hadrian (reign A.D. 117-138). After Antinous drowned in the Nile River nearby, the town of Antinopolis was founded in his honor, and he became a god, and statues of him were found throughout the Roman Empire.

[Photos: The Secret Passageways of Hadrian's Villa]

The games had been going on for more than a century by the time this contract was created, and brought benefits for the people of Antinopolis. For instance, “You get the visitors; you get the crowd; you get the trade; you get the prestige,” Rathbone told Live Science.

The contract was found at Oxyrhynchus, in Egypt, more than a century ago by an expedition led by archaeologists Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt. It was translated for the first time by Rathbone and published in the most recent volume of The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, an ongoing series that publishes papyri from this site. The transcription of the text was done by John Rea, a now-retired lecturer at the University of Oxford and Rathbone did the translation.

The Egypt Exploration Society owns more than 500,000 papyrus fragments from this site, and they are now kept at the Sackler Library at Oxford.

Why offer a bribe?

In the modern world, scandals involving bribes to athletes, or athletic officials, often revolve around gambling or attempts to reward a medal to athletes from a particular country.

The winners of ancient games would sometimes be paid sizable amounts of money, or receive lifetime pensions from their hometown, Rathbone said. However, he noted, there was no prize at all for coming in second.

“In ancient competitions, coming first is the one and only thing no silver, no bronze,” Rathbone said. Additionally, the cost of training athletes was considerable. Athletes from wealthy families could pay their own way, but athletes from less-well-off backgrounds could find themselves in debt to their trainers.

“The trainer is going to pay for your food, your accommodations and so on for your training, so you end up in debt to him,” Rathbone said.

In this winner-takes-all situation, both sides may have decided to curb their risks by making a deal to fix the match, Rathbone said.

“If you were confident you would win, normally you would go for it,” he said. “If you’re not sure you would win, maybe you’re cutting your risk by saying, ‘At least I get the bribe,’” Rathbone said.

Why write up a contract?

But researchers still wonder, why did the guarantors for the athletes create a written contract recording the agreement? “That’s the really bizarre thing; isn’t it?” Rathbone said, noting that if either side reneged on the deal, it would be hard to take the matter to court.

He has also noted oddities in the way the contract was drawn up. “It doesn’t look as though they’ve actually gone as far as getting a scribe with legal knowledge to do this for them, which makes you wonder if it’s a bit of an empty thing,” Rathbone said. “It’s not really likely that either side is going to [seek recourse] if the other defaults.”

Although this is the only known contract recording a bribe between ancient athletes, there are references in ancient sources indicating that bribery in athletic competitions was not unusual. By the time of the Roman empire, bribery in athletic competitions was getting more prevalent as the events became more lucrative, Rathbone said.

“There are sources [indicating] that things had got a bit worse in the Roman Empire when there were more games and when there were more financial rewards, particularly these municipal pensions,” Rathbone said. These pensions consisted of payments that an athlete’s hometown awarded to winners and could continue for the rest of their life.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/science/2014/04/17/body-slam-this-ancient-wrestling-match-was-fixed/

‘ROCK SOLID’ EVIDENCEAstronomers discover most Earth-like planet yet

earth-like-planet.jpg

April 17, 2014: This artist’s rendering provided by NASA on shows an Earth-sized planet dubbed Kepler-186f orbiting a star 500 light-years from Earth. Astronomers say the planet may hold water on its surface and is the best candidate yet of a habitable planet in the ongoing search for an Earth twin.AP/NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech

Astronomers have discovered what they say is the most Earth-like planet yet detected — a distant, rocky world that’s similar in size to our own and exists in the Goldilocks zone where it’s not too hot and not too cold for life.

The find, announced Thursday, excited planet hunters who have been scouring the Milky Way galaxy for years for potentially habitable places outside our solar system.

“This is the best case for a habitable planet yet found. The results are absolutely rock solid,” University of California, Berkeley astronomer Geoff Marcy, who had no role in the discovery, said in an email.

The planet was detected by NASA’s orbiting Kepler telescope, which examines the heavens for subtle changes in brightness that indicate an orbiting planet is crossing in front of a star. From those changes, scientists can calculate a planet’s size and make certain inferences about its makeup.

The newfound object, dubbed Kepler-186f, circles a red dwarf star 500 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. A light-year is almost 6 trillion miles.

The planet is about 10 percent larger than Earth and may very well have liquid water — a key ingredient for life — on its surface, scientists said. That is because it resides at the outer edge of the habitable temperature zone around its star — the sweet spot where lakes, rivers or oceans can exist without freezing solid or boiling away.

The planet probably basks in an orange-red glow from its star and is most likely cooler than Earth, with an average temperature slightly above freezing, “similar to dawn or dusk on a spring day,” Marcy said.

The discovery was detailed in Friday’s issue of the journal Science.

Lead researcher Elisa Quintana at NASA’s Ames Research Center said she considers the planet to be more of an “Earth cousin” than a twin because it circles a star that is smaller and dimmer than our sun. While Earth revolves around the sun in 365 days, this planet completes an orbit of its star every 130 days.

“You have a birthday every 130 days on this planet,” she said.

Scientists cannot say for certain whether it has an atmosphere, but if it does, it probably contains a lot of carbon dioxide, outside experts said.

“Don’t take off your breathing mask if you ever land there,” said Lisa Kaltenegger, a Harvard and Max Planck Institute astronomer who had no connection to the research.

Despite the differences, “now we can point to a star and know that there really is a planet very similar to the Earth, at least in size and temperature,” Harvard scientist David Charbonneau, who was not part of the team, said in an email.

Since its launch in 2009, Kepler has confirmed 961 planets, but only a few dozen are in the habitable zone. Most are giant gas balls like Jupiter and Saturn, and not ideal places for life. Scientists in recent years have also found planets slightly larger than Earth in the Goldilocks zone called “super Earths,” but it is unclear if they are rocky.

The latest discovery is the closest in size to Earth than any other known world in the habitable region.

Kepler-186f is part of a system of five planets, all of which are roughly Earth’s size. However, the other planets are too close to their star to support life.

Astronomers may never know for certain whether Kepler-186f can sustain life. The planet is too far away even for next-generation space telescopes like NASA’s overbudget James Webb, set for launch in 2018, to study in detail.

Kepler completed its prime mission and was in overtime when one of the wheels that keep its gaze steady failed last year. NASA has not yet decided whether to keep using the telescope to hunt for planets on a scaled-back basis.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/science/2014/04/17/astronomers-discover-most-earth-like-planet-yet/

Reid: Bundy supporters are ‘terrorists’

 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he believes the supporters who rallied around Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy in his fight against the federal government are “domestic terrorists” and Bundy does not respect his country.

The Las Vegas Journal-Review reported that Reid, D-Nev., made the comments at an event Thursday hosted by the paper called “Hashtags & Headlines.”

Federal land managers backed down in a weekend standoff with Bundy after hundreds of states’ rights protesters, including armed militia members, showed up to protest federal officials seizing his cattle. Some protesters had their guns drawn and pointed toward law enforcement, some of whom were also armed. But ultimately, no shots were fired and the Bureau of Land Management reported that officials left over safety concerns.

Reid had harsh words for these supporters, saying the government cannot stop pursuing the issue.

“They’re nothing more than domestic terrorists,” Reid said, according to the paper. “I repeat: what happened there was domestic terrorism.”

Reid said he has been told a federal task force is being set up to deal with the Bundy situation, adding Bundy does not respect the U.S. or its laws.

“Clive Bundy does not recognize the United States,” Reid said. “The United States, he says, is a foreign government. He doesn’t pay his taxes. He doesn’t pay his fees. And he doesn’t follow the law. He continues to thumb his nose at authority.”

Reid also suggested the supporters were dangerous to the community.

“They had sniper rifles in the freeway. They had weapons, automatic weapons. They had children lined up. They wanted to make sure they got hurt first … What if others tried the same thing?” he said.

Bundy has been at odds for years with the feds, who say he owes more than $1.1 million in unpaid grazing fees. BLM long ago revoked Bundy’s grazing rights on that land after citing concern for a federally protected tortoise. Bundy, though, claimed ancestral rights to the land his family settled in the 19th century and has refused to pay the fees or remove his animals.

BLM officials have said they’ll continue their fight through the courts. 

Click for more from the Las Vegas Journal Review.

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Reid: Bundy supporters are ‘terrorists’

 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he believes the supporters who rallied around Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy in his fight against the federal government are “domestic terrorists” and Bundy does not respect his country.

The Las Vegas Journal-Review reported that Reid, D-Nev., made the comments at an event Thursday hosted by the paper called “Hashtags & Headlines.”

Federal land managers backed down in a weekend standoff with Bundy after hundreds of states’ rights protesters, including armed militia members, showed up to protest federal officials seizing his cattle. Some protesters had their guns drawn and pointed toward law enforcement, some of whom were also armed. But ultimately, no shots were fired and the Bureau of Land Management reported that officials left over safety concerns.

Reid had harsh words for these supporters, saying the government cannot stop pursuing the issue.

“They’re nothing more than domestic terrorists,” Reid said, according to the paper. “I repeat: what happened there was domestic terrorism.”

Reid said he has been told a federal task force is being set up to deal with the Bundy situation, adding Bundy does not respect the U.S. or its laws.

“Clive Bundy does not recognize the United States,” Reid said. “The United States, he says, is a foreign government. He doesn’t pay his taxes. He doesn’t pay his fees. And he doesn’t follow the law. He continues to thumb his nose at authority.”

Reid also suggested the supporters were dangerous to the community.

“They had sniper rifles in the freeway. They had weapons, automatic weapons. They had children lined up. They wanted to make sure they got hurt first … What if others tried the same thing?” he said.

Bundy has been at odds for years with the feds, who say he owes more than $1.1 million in unpaid grazing fees. BLM long ago revoked Bundy’s grazing rights on that land after citing concern for a federally protected tortoise. Bundy, though, claimed ancestral rights to the land his family settled in the 19th century and has refused to pay the fees or remove his animals.

BLM officials have said they’ll continue their fight through the courts. 

Click for more from the Las Vegas Journal Review.

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ENDING ‘RE-HOMING’? Wisc. restricts parents from giving up adopted kids

Wisconsin adoption law.jpg

May 7, 2013: Adopted child Quita Puchalla, 21, poses outside her apartment in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.Reuters

Wisconsin has become the first state in the nation to pass legislation cracking down on parents who try to give away their adopted kids. 

On Wednesday, Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill that would bar adoptive parents from finding a new home for their children without court permission. The legislation sought to protect adopted children from the unregulated practice of “re-homing,” where adoptive parents use underground networks to find a new family for children they don’t want. 

“With virtually no oversight, children could literally be traded from home to home. In Wisconsin, that is now against the law,” Republican Rep. Joel Kleefisch, who sponsored the legislation, said. “Hopefully citizens of the country will follow our lead.”

The Wisconsin push comes after hundreds of parents were caught using social media sites to give away their adopted kids to strangers they met on the Internet. In some cases, that meant to predators and pedophiles.

Presently, there are no federal rules that prevent the practice of “re-homing” children — a term typically used by pet owners looking for new homes for their unruly animals.

Many nations don’t disclose if the children they are putting up for adoption are victims of physical abuse or mental trauma. The adoptive parents in these scenarios often are unable to adequately care for the children, and some are left looking for questionable outs, Kathy Ledesma, national project director for Adopt US Kids, told FoxNews.com.

Ledesma, who has worked in the past on international adoptions, says states aren’t funded to handle issues that arise with these types of adoptions. Because these parents are often stuck in a situation, they turn to underground networks to dump the children they don’t want or can’t care for.

The legislation comes following a series of reports from Reuters looking into the underground trade of adopted minors. 

Reuters analyzed 5,029 posts from parents of adopted children over a five-year period on a Yahoo Internet message board. The news agency found that, on average, one child per week was advertised for “re-homing” In total, 261 kids were offered up via Yahoo.

The kids on the site, offered up for “re-homing,” typically ranged in age from 6 to 14, although the youngest was 10 months old. Most had been adopted from other countries, including China, Russia and Ethiopia.

One reported case involved a Wisconsin couple. When couple Todd and Melissa Puchalla adopted Quita, a 14-year-old girl with a history of mental problems, from Liberia, they thought it would be easier. But after two years with the troubled teen, they decided to give her up, posting an ad on the Internet.

Less than 48 hours after posting the ad, Illinois couple Nicole and Calvin Eason contacted the Puchallas, saying they were interested in Quita. On Oct. 4, 2008, the Puchallas drove from their Wisconsin home to Westville, Ill., ready to hand over Quita. They didn’t know anything about the Easons.

They reportedly didn’t bother doing a simple background check on the couple they were handing their child to. Had they, they would have found that child welfare authorities had taken away both of Nicole Eason’s biological children, including a newborn baby boy. The deputy who had taken the infant away said in his report that the “parents have severe psychiatric problems as well with violent tendencies,” Reuters reported.

Police reports also showed that children the couple baby-sat in the past had accused the Easons of sexual abuse. The only official document attesting to the Easons parenting skills was later found to be doctored by the Easons.

During her first night with the Easons, Quita told Reuters, her new guardians told her to join them in their bed. Nicole was naked, Quita said, according to Reuters.

In July 2009, Tom and Misty Mealey also welcomed the Easons to their Roanoke, Va., home. The Mealeys were prepared to give the Easons one of their children – a 5-year-old adopted boy from Guatemala they had adopted earlier.

Tom was a cop.

“It’s horribly embarrassing,” he told Reuters of being misled by the Easons. “The thought that I spent a career dealing with people like this is even more embarrassing. I wish we had done more.” 

Following the Reuters investigation, Yahoo shut down their Adopting-from-Disruption bulletin board. Yahoo also took down five other discussion boards.

The Reuters investigation also found a forum on Facebook, but that one remains active. Emails to Facebook for comment by FoxNews.com were not returned.

Puchalla, now 21, is enrolled  at the Milwaukee Area Technical College where she is studying social work. She lost her apartment over the summer and is now in temporary housing.

The little boy the Mealeys gave up is now 9-years-old. He is currently a ward of New York state.

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ENDING ‘RE-HOMING’? Wisc. restricts parents from giving up adopted kids

Wisconsin adoption law.jpg

May 7, 2013: Adopted child Quita Puchalla, 21, poses outside her apartment in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.Reuters

Wisconsin has become the first state in the nation to pass legislation cracking down on parents who try to give away their adopted kids. 

On Wednesday, Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill that would bar adoptive parents from finding a new home for their children without court permission. The legislation sought to protect adopted children from the unregulated practice of “re-homing,” where adoptive parents use underground networks to find a new family for children they don’t want. 

“With virtually no oversight, children could literally be traded from home to home. In Wisconsin, that is now against the law,” Republican Rep. Joel Kleefisch, who sponsored the legislation, said. “Hopefully citizens of the country will follow our lead.”

The Wisconsin push comes after hundreds of parents were caught using social media sites to give away their adopted kids to strangers they met on the Internet. In some cases, that meant to predators and pedophiles.

Presently, there are no federal rules that prevent the practice of “re-homing” children — a term typically used by pet owners looking for new homes for their unruly animals.

Many nations don’t disclose if the children they are putting up for adoption are victims of physical abuse or mental trauma. The adoptive parents in these scenarios often are unable to adequately care for the children, and some are left looking for questionable outs, Kathy Ledesma, national project director for Adopt US Kids, told FoxNews.com.

Ledesma, who has worked in the past on international adoptions, says states aren’t funded to handle issues that arise with these types of adoptions. Because these parents are often stuck in a situation, they turn to underground networks to dump the children they don’t want or can’t care for.

The legislation comes following a series of reports from Reuters looking into the underground trade of adopted minors. 

Reuters analyzed 5,029 posts from parents of adopted children over a five-year period on a Yahoo Internet message board. The news agency found that, on average, one child per week was advertised for “re-homing” In total, 261 kids were offered up via Yahoo.

The kids on the site, offered up for “re-homing,” typically ranged in age from 6 to 14, although the youngest was 10 months old. Most had been adopted from other countries, including China, Russia and Ethiopia.

One reported case involved a Wisconsin couple. When couple Todd and Melissa Puchalla adopted Quita, a 14-year-old girl with a history of mental problems, from Liberia, they thought it would be easier. But after two years with the troubled teen, they decided to give her up, posting an ad on the Internet.

Less than 48 hours after posting the ad, Illinois couple Nicole and Calvin Eason contacted the Puchallas, saying they were interested in Quita. On Oct. 4, 2008, the Puchallas drove from their Wisconsin home to Westville, Ill., ready to hand over Quita. They didn’t know anything about the Easons.

They reportedly didn’t bother doing a simple background check on the couple they were handing their child to. Had they, they would have found that child welfare authorities had taken away both of Nicole Eason’s biological children, including a newborn baby boy. The deputy who had taken the infant away said in his report that the “parents have severe psychiatric problems as well with violent tendencies,” Reuters reported.

Police reports also showed that children the couple baby-sat in the past had accused the Easons of sexual abuse. The only official document attesting to the Easons parenting skills was later found to be doctored by the Easons.

During her first night with the Easons, Quita told Reuters, her new guardians told her to join them in their bed. Nicole was naked, Quita said, according to Reuters.

In July 2009, Tom and Misty Mealey also welcomed the Easons to their Roanoke, Va., home. The Mealeys were prepared to give the Easons one of their children – a 5-year-old adopted boy from Guatemala they had adopted earlier.

Tom was a cop.

“It’s horribly embarrassing,” he told Reuters of being misled by the Easons. “The thought that I spent a career dealing with people like this is even more embarrassing. I wish we had done more.” 

Following the Reuters investigation, Yahoo shut down their Adopting-from-Disruption bulletin board. Yahoo also took down five other discussion boards.

The Reuters investigation also found a forum on Facebook, but that one remains active. Emails to Facebook for comment by FoxNews.com were not returned.

Puchalla, now 21, is enrolled  at the Milwaukee Area Technical College where she is studying social work. She lost her apartment over the summer and is now in temporary housing.

The little boy the Mealeys gave up is now 9-years-old. He is currently a ward of New York state.

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‘ROCK SOLID’ EVIDENCEAstronomers discover most Earth-like planet yet

earth-like-planet.jpg

April 17, 2014: This artist’s rendering provided by NASA on shows an Earth-sized planet dubbed Kepler-186f orbiting a star 500 light-years from Earth. Astronomers say the planet may hold water on its surface and is the best candidate yet of a habitable planet in the ongoing search for an Earth twin.AP/NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech

Astronomers have discovered what they say is the most Earth-like planet yet detected — a distant, rocky world that’s similar in size to our own and exists in the Goldilocks zone where it’s not too hot and not too cold for life.

The find, announced Thursday, excited planet hunters who have been scouring the Milky Way galaxy for years for potentially habitable places outside our solar system.

“This is the best case for a habitable planet yet found. The results are absolutely rock solid,” University of California, Berkeley astronomer Geoff Marcy, who had no role in the discovery, said in an email.

The planet was detected by NASA’s orbiting Kepler telescope, which examines the heavens for subtle changes in brightness that indicate an orbiting planet is crossing in front of a star. From those changes, scientists can calculate a planet’s size and make certain inferences about its makeup.

The newfound object, dubbed Kepler-186f, circles a red dwarf star 500 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. A light-year is almost 6 trillion miles.

The planet is about 10 percent larger than Earth and may very well have liquid water — a key ingredient for life — on its surface, scientists said. That is because it resides at the outer edge of the habitable temperature zone around its star — the sweet spot where lakes, rivers or oceans can exist without freezing solid or boiling away.

The planet probably basks in an orange-red glow from its star and is most likely cooler than Earth, with an average temperature slightly above freezing, “similar to dawn or dusk on a spring day,” Marcy said.

The discovery was detailed in Friday’s issue of the journal Science.

Lead researcher Elisa Quintana at NASA’s Ames Research Center said she considers the planet to be more of an “Earth cousin” than a twin because it circles a star that is smaller and dimmer than our sun. While Earth revolves around the sun in 365 days, this planet completes an orbit of its star every 130 days.

“You have a birthday every 130 days on this planet,” she said.

Scientists cannot say for certain whether it has an atmosphere, but if it does, it probably contains a lot of carbon dioxide, outside experts said.

“Don’t take off your breathing mask if you ever land there,” said Lisa Kaltenegger, a Harvard and Max Planck Institute astronomer who had no connection to the research.

Despite the differences, “now we can point to a star and know that there really is a planet very similar to the Earth, at least in size and temperature,” Harvard scientist David Charbonneau, who was not part of the team, said in an email.

Since its launch in 2009, Kepler has confirmed 961 planets, but only a few dozen are in the habitable zone. Most are giant gas balls like Jupiter and Saturn, and not ideal places for life. Scientists in recent years have also found planets slightly larger than Earth in the Goldilocks zone called “super Earths,” but it is unclear if they are rocky.

The latest discovery is the closest in size to Earth than any other known world in the habitable region.

Kepler-186f is part of a system of five planets, all of which are roughly Earth’s size. However, the other planets are too close to their star to support life.

Astronomers may never know for certain whether Kepler-186f can sustain life. The planet is too far away even for next-generation space telescopes like NASA’s overbudget James Webb, set for launch in 2018, to study in detail.

Kepler completed its prime mission and was in overtime when one of the wheels that keep its gaze steady failed last year. NASA has not yet decided whether to keep using the telescope to hunt for planets on a scaled-back basis.

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‘ROCK SOLID’ EVIDENCEAstronomers discover most Earth-like planet yet

earth-like-planet.jpg

April 17, 2014: This artist’s rendering provided by NASA on shows an Earth-sized planet dubbed Kepler-186f orbiting a star 500 light-years from Earth. Astronomers say the planet may hold water on its surface and is the best candidate yet of a habitable planet in the ongoing search for an Earth twin.AP/NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech

Astronomers have discovered what they say is the most Earth-like planet yet detected — a distant, rocky world that’s similar in size to our own and exists in the Goldilocks zone where it’s not too hot and not too cold for life.

The find, announced Thursday, excited planet hunters who have been scouring the Milky Way galaxy for years for potentially habitable places outside our solar system.

“This is the best case for a habitable planet yet found. The results are absolutely rock solid,” University of California, Berkeley astronomer Geoff Marcy, who had no role in the discovery, said in an email.

The planet was detected by NASA’s orbiting Kepler telescope, which examines the heavens for subtle changes in brightness that indicate an orbiting planet is crossing in front of a star. From those changes, scientists can calculate a planet’s size and make certain inferences about its makeup.

The newfound object, dubbed Kepler-186f, circles a red dwarf star 500 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. A light-year is almost 6 trillion miles.

The planet is about 10 percent larger than Earth and may very well have liquid water — a key ingredient for life — on its surface, scientists said. That is because it resides at the outer edge of the habitable temperature zone around its star — the sweet spot where lakes, rivers or oceans can exist without freezing solid or boiling away.

The planet probably basks in an orange-red glow from its star and is most likely cooler than Earth, with an average temperature slightly above freezing, “similar to dawn or dusk on a spring day,” Marcy said.

The discovery was detailed in Friday’s issue of the journal Science.

Lead researcher Elisa Quintana at NASA’s Ames Research Center said she considers the planet to be more of an “Earth cousin” than a twin because it circles a star that is smaller and dimmer than our sun. While Earth revolves around the sun in 365 days, this planet completes an orbit of its star every 130 days.

“You have a birthday every 130 days on this planet,” she said.

Scientists cannot say for certain whether it has an atmosphere, but if it does, it probably contains a lot of carbon dioxide, outside experts said.

“Don’t take off your breathing mask if you ever land there,” said Lisa Kaltenegger, a Harvard and Max Planck Institute astronomer who had no connection to the research.

Despite the differences, “now we can point to a star and know that there really is a planet very similar to the Earth, at least in size and temperature,” Harvard scientist David Charbonneau, who was not part of the team, said in an email.

Since its launch in 2009, Kepler has confirmed 961 planets, but only a few dozen are in the habitable zone. Most are giant gas balls like Jupiter and Saturn, and not ideal places for life. Scientists in recent years have also found planets slightly larger than Earth in the Goldilocks zone called “super Earths,” but it is unclear if they are rocky.

The latest discovery is the closest in size to Earth than any other known world in the habitable region.

Kepler-186f is part of a system of five planets, all of which are roughly Earth’s size. However, the other planets are too close to their star to support life.

Astronomers may never know for certain whether Kepler-186f can sustain life. The planet is too far away even for next-generation space telescopes like NASA’s overbudget James Webb, set for launch in 2018, to study in detail.

Kepler completed its prime mission and was in overtime when one of the wheels that keep its gaze steady failed last year. NASA has not yet decided whether to keep using the telescope to hunt for planets on a scaled-back basis.

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Kepler space telescope discovers most Earth-like planet yet

Scientists analyzing data from the Kepler space telescope have discovered a first: an Earth-size planet orbiting in the habitable zone of its parent star, researchers announced Thursday.

The planet is one of five worlds orbiting a dwarf star known as Kepler-186 some 500 light years away in the constellation Cygnus. The other four worlds were discovered earlier in the Kepler data, orbiting close in to the parent star, well outside the so-called “Goldilocks” zone where water can exist as a liquid on the surface.

The newly discovered fifth planet, Kepler 186f, is roughly the same size as Earth and orbits in the star’s sweet spot, at a distance comparable to Mercury’s orbit in Earth’s solar system, taking about 130 days to complete one orbit, or year.

But because Kepler-186 is a cooler star, about half the size of our sun, Kepler-186f is exposed to much more tolerable levels of solar heating even though it is relatively close to its sun.

Scientists do not know whether Kepler-186f is, in fact, habitable, or how it might be affected by solar radiation, flares and the parent star’s gravity. They don’t know whether the planet has an atmosphere at all, and if it does, how it might trap heat or otherwise affect the environment.

But it is the first exoplanet found so far that’s the right size and right distance from its sun to support life as we know it.

“We know of just one planet where life exists — Earth,” Elisa Quintana, a research scientist at the SETI Institute, said in a statement. “When we search for life outside our solar system we focus on finding planets with characteristics that mimic that of Earth. Finding a habitable zone planet comparable to Earth in size is a major step forward.”

Quintana is the lead author of a paper published Thursday in the journal Science that announced the discovery.

“This is the first validated detection of an Earth-size planet orbiting in the habitable zone of its parent star, a cool red dwarf,” Douglas Hudgins, exoplanet exploration program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington, told reporters. “Second, this discovery establishes that Earth-size planets can and do exist in the habitable zones of other stars.

“Third, red dwarf stars, like the parent (of Kepler-186f) are by far the most abundant stars in our galaxy, making up about 80 percent of the nearest stars to the Earth. Thus, planets such as this one are almost certainly the most common type of habitable planet in our galaxy and may very well represent the closest habitable planets to Earth.”

Kepler, launched in March 2009, is equipped with a 95-megapixel camera that was aimed at a patch of sky the size of an out-stretched hand that contains more than 4.5 million detectable stars. Kepler monitored the light from 160,000 of those suns.

The camera cannot directly “see” exoplanets, but if a planet passes in front of a star as viewed from the space telescope, the star’s light will periodically dim as the planet moves through its orbit. By precisely measuring those tiny fluctuations, Kepler researchers can indirectly confirm a planet’s presence, size and distance from its sun.

Kepler completed its primary three-year mission in November 2012. NASA managers promptly approved a four-year mission extension, but in 2013, the spacecraft was hobbled by the failure of a second gyro stabilizer, preventing the pointing accuracy required for planet detection.

But over the first four years of its mission, Kepler’s observations have allowed researchers to confirm 950 actual exoplanets with another 3,800 “candidate” worlds requiring additional analysis.

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Chelsea Clinton: I’m pregnant

Last Updated Apr 17, 2014 9:45 PM EDT

Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, announced on Thursday that she and husband Marc Mezvinsky are expecting their first child later this year.

Clinton was speaking alongside her mother at a forum for women and girls at the Lower Eastside Girls Club in New York City that was part of the Clinton Foundation’s “No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project” initiative.

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As the event wrapped up, Clinton had nearly finished making her closing remarks when moderator and actress America Ferrera began to speak again. Clinton interrupted her by saying she had one more announcement – that she has a child on the way.

“I certainly feel all the better whether it’s a girl or a boy that she or he will grow up in a world full of so many strong young female leaders, so thank you for inspiring me and inspiring future generations including the one that we’ll be lucky enough to welcome into our family later this year,” Clinton said. “I just hope that I will be as good a mom to my child and hopefully children as my mom was to me.”

Hillary Clinton is “really excited” about the pregnancy and that it makes the work she and her daughter are doing to promote women and girls “all the more important.”

Chelsea Clinton, who is 34, married her husband in an August 2010 in a ceremony in Rhinebeck, N.Y. In an October 2013 profile in Glamour magazine, she joked that her mother “asks us about [having a baby] every single day.”

Hillary Clinton, the former first lady, secretary of state and New York senator, is considering another presidential campaign in 2016. But she said on Twitter: “My most exciting title yet: Grandmother-To-Be!”

The former president also expressed his joy at he news, tweeting: “Excited to add a new line to my Twitter bio…grandfather-to-be! HillaryClinton and I are so happy for Chelsea and Marc!”

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Leader of Minn. "virgin camp" sought for rape of minors

A nationwide manhunt is on to find the self-styled “minister” charged with 59 counts of raping young girls who lived with him in a “Maiden’s Group” set aside for virgins at the Minnesota compound he shared with his followers

Victor Barnard, 52, is accused of repeatedly raping two girls over a period of several years, beginning when one was 12 years old and the other 13. Chief Deputy Steve Blackwell of Minnesota’s Pine County Sheriff’s Office told CBS News’ Crimesider that although the indictment only includes allegations brought by two young women, police suspect Barnard may have committed similar crimes against many more.

According to court documents, in Jan. 2012 a then-24-year-old woman contacted the Pine County Sheriff’s Office to report that she had been sexually abused by Barnard between the ages of 12-24.

The woman, referred to in court documents as “B”, said that her family joined Barnard’s “River Road Fellowship” in 2000 and she was among a group of 10 girls invited to live with Barnard as part of a so-called “Maiden’s Group” at his lodge in a secluded area of the communal property. The arrangement was apparently supposed to be for the summer, but ended up being her permanent home.

“‘B’ said that when she was thirteen years old, Barnard first engaged in penile-vaginal penetration with her,” according to the probable cause statement in the case. “Barnard repeatedly preached to her that he represented Christ in the flesh…and that it was normal for Barnard to have sex with her because it was God’s Word.”

“B” told police that she did not want to have sex with Barnard and that she protested and cried, but that over the next nine years, she estimated he had intercourse with her one to three times per month:

“Barnard would call her to the lodge when he wanted to have sexual intercourse with her….She said the other girls…were also called to the lodge to see Barnard in the same manner that she was but they never discussed what happened there. Barnard had told her many times not to tell anyone about having sex with him…”

In 2001, according to the documents, Barnard told “B’s” parents that he might begin having sex with her. In an interview with police many years later, “B’s” father told police that he “felt pressured to not say anything against Barnard…Looking back…he knew Barnard had sex with his daughter when she was still a child…”

The documents also tell of a second young woman, referred to as “C,” who told investigators a story similar to B’s. “C” alleges that she too was sent to the “Maidens Group” as a child and that Barnard began having sex with her when she was 12. She said that in 2001, she participated in a ceremony Barnard called the “Salt Covenant” where she and other girls pledged “to remain unmarried and virgins and loyal to Barnard for their entire lives.”

Chief Deputy Blackwell says that as the girls got older and “break free, another girl turns 11 or 12″ and was brought into the “Maidens Group.”

According Blackwell, Barnard and some of his followers fled Minnesota for Washington State around the time the first woman came forward with her allegations.In Nov. 2012, an investigator from the Pine County Sheriff’s Office traveled to the Spokane area where Barnard and members of the group had reportedly moved, but were unable to interview him and have now issued a warrant for his arrest. If convicted, Barnard faces multiple 30-year prison terms.

Blackwell says that Barnard has been flagged by Homeland Security.

Anyone who may have information as to the whereabouts of Victor Barnard, please call Washington State Police Detective Ryan Spangler at (509) 227-6644 or the Pine County SO tip line at (320) 629-8342.

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Thousands remember "Princess Lacey" at memorial service

EAST LANSING, Mich. – An 8-year-old Michigan State basketball fan whose battle with cancer inspired the team’s players, coaches and many more beyond the hardwood was honored by thousands of her closest friends at a memorial service in East Lansing.

Lacey Holsworth’s family wanted those attending the event Thursday night at the Breslin Center basketball arena to wear bright colors and smiles in celebration of her life.

And, many did.

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Many also wiped away tears, especially when they heard Heather Holsworth’s recorded message about her daughter while her pictures were shown on video boards.

“I can’t wait to see you again, save a dance for me,” she said at the end of a composed, recorded message.

Lacey died at her home in nearby St. Johns on April 8. The little girl affectionately known as “Princess Lacey” had neuroblastoma, a nerve-cell cancer. She wore a blond wig because chemotherapy took her hair.

Lacey met Michigan State basketball star Adreian Payne during one of her hospital stays, and their friendship quickly blossomed. She became a valued member of the Spartan family.

Payne, perhaps because he thought he would be too emotional to speak, was not scheduled to address the crowd at the celebration.

Travis Trice, a junior guard, represented the team on a raised stage in front of nearly 1,000 chairs – most of them filled – on the covered court and perhaps 2,000 more people seated in the lower section of the arena.

“Her smile would change your day and have an impact on you,” Trice said.

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Captain faces criminal investigation into when he left sinking ferry

Last Updated Apr 17, 2014 8:54 PM EDT

MOKPO, South Korea – The captain of the ferry that sank off South Korea’s southern coast, likely with scores of people trapped inside, is facing a criminal investigation into whether he may have been among the first off the ship.

The captain of the Sawol, identified by broadcaster YTN and the Yonhap news agency as 69-year-old Lee Joon-seok, was questioned by the coast guard and made a brief, videotaped appearance, although his face was hidden by a gray hoodie.

“I am really sorry and deeply ashamed,” Lee said. “I don’t know what to say.”

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Kim Soo-hyun, a senior coast guard official, said officials were investigating whether the captain got on one of the first rescue boats.

The confirmed death toll from Wednesday’s sinking of the Sawol off southern South Korea was 25, the coast guard said. But the number was expected to rise with about 270 people missing, many of them high school students on a class trip. Officials said there were 179 survivors.

One of the only bright spots was when a 6-year-old was plucked from the ferry. Her parents and brother remain missing.

Kim Han-sik, president of Chonghaejin Marine Co., the ship’s owner, also apologized separately, bowing deeply and saying through his tears, “I committed a sin punishable by death. … I am at a loss for words. I am sorry. I am sorry.”

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On Thursday, a crewman described chaos and confusion on the bridge of the ferry, saying the captain first tried to stabilize the vessel after it started to list before ordering its evacuation.

By the time the order came, however, the crewman said it had become impossible to help many of the passengers. In addition to the captain, a dozen crew members survived.

Divers worked in shifts to try to get into the sunken vessel, but strong currents would not allow them to enter, said coast guard spokesman Kim Jae-in. Rescuers hammered on the hull of the capsized ferry hoping for a response, but none came. The divers had planned to pump oxygen into the ship to help any survivors, but first they had to get inside, he said.

The water temperature in the area was about 54 degrees Fahrenheit, cold enough to cause signs of hypothermia after about 90 minutes of exposure.

The coast guard spokesman said three vessels with cranes are being brought in to help with the rescue and to salvage the ferry, which sank not far from the southern city of Mokpo and now sits with just part of its keel visible.

The first instructions from the captain were for the passengers to put on life jackets and stay put, and it was not until about 30 minutes later that he ordered an evacuation, Oh Yong-seok, a 58-year-old crew member, told The Associated Press. But Oh said he wasn’t sure if the captain’s order, given to crew members, was actually relayed to passengers on the public address system.

Some passengers said they were told to stay on board and wait for help. A cellphone video shown to CBS News appears to show a group of passengers inside the ferry wearing life vests and waiting for help. The loss of that precious time may have deprived many passengers of the opportunity to escape.

In Washington, President Barack Obama called the sinking a “terrible tragedy” and offered his condolences.

“As one of our closest allies, our commitment to South Korea is unwavering in good times and in bad, and that’s something I’ll underscore during my visit to Seoul next week,” Obama said at a news briefing on Thursday afternoon.

Video obtained by AP that was shot by a survivor, truck driver Kim Dong-soo, shows the vessel listing severely as people in life jackets cling to the side of the ship to keep from sliding. A loudspeaker announcement can be heard telling passengers to stay in their quarters.

A ferry that departed from Incheon, South Korea, sank on its way to the island of Jeju April 16, 2014.

There were 475 people aboard, including 325 students on a school trip to the tourist island of Jeju in the south of the country. The 480-foot ferry had traveled overnight for the14-hour journey from Incheon on the northwestern coast of South Korea, and was three hours short of its destination when the ship began to list.

The cause is not yet known.

South Korean media said it was possible the cargo – about 1,000 tons – was not tied down properly and may have shifted suddenly, causing the ship to tilt dangerously.

Oh, a helmsmen on the ferry with 10 years’ shipping experience, said that when the crew gathered on the bridge and sent a distress call the ship was already listing more than 5 degrees, the critical angle at which the ship can be brought back to even keel.

At about that time, a third mate reported that the ship could not be righted, and the captain ordered another attempt, which also failed, Oh said. A crew member tried to reach a lifeboat but tripped. The captain then ordered the evacuation.

By then, Oh said, “We couldn’t even move one step. The slope was too big.”

Passenger Koo Bon-hee, 36, told the AP that many people were trapped inside by windows that were too hard to break. He wanted to escape earlier but an announcement said passengers should stay put.

“The rescue wasn’t done well. We were wearing life jackets. We had time,” Koo, who was on a business trip to Jeju with a co-worker, said from a hospital bed in Mokpo where he was treated for minor injuries. “If people had jumped into the water … they could have been rescued. But we were told not to go out.”

It is not clear whether the captain’s actions violated any procedures, and he may have believed at the time that it was still possible to control the vessel, which would have made the order to evacuate unnecessary.

Worried and angry parents of the students gathered at Danwon High School in Ansan, which is near Seoul, while other relatives assembled on Jindo, an island near where the ferry slipped beneath the surface, leaving only the blue-tipped, forward edge of the keel visible.

In Mokpo, relatives of the dead students wailed and sobbed as ambulances drove away with the bodies, headed to Ansan. The families, who spent a mostly sleepless night at the Mokpo hospital, followed the ambulances in their cars. At the school, some desperate relatives lashed out in frustration, screaming threats at journalists. On Jindo Island, also near the accident site, one woman passed out and was carried to an ambulance.

The family of one of the dead, 24-year-old teacher Choi Hye-jung, spoke about a young woman who loved to boast of how her students would come to her office and give her hugs.

“She was very active and wanted to be a good leader,” her father, Choi Jae-kyu, 53, said at Mokpo Jung-Ang Hospital while waiting for the arrival of his daughter’s body. Choi’s mother, sitting on a bench at the hospital, sobbed quietly with her head bent down on her knee.

The last major ferry disaster in South Korea was in 1993, when 292 people were killed.

Source Article from http://feeds.cbsnews.com/~r/CBSNewsMain/~3/7g5766H86EQ/

Reid: Bundy supporters are ‘terrorists’

 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he believes the supporters who rallied around Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy in his fight against the federal government are “domestic terrorists” and Bundy does not respect his country.

The Las Vegas Journal-Review reported that Reid, D-Nev., made the comments at an event Thursday hosted by the paper called “Hashtags & Headlines.”

Federal land managers backed down in a weekend standoff with Bundy after hundreds of states’ rights protesters, including armed militia members, showed up to protest federal officials seizing his cattle. Some protesters had their guns drawn and pointed toward law enforcement, some of whom were also armed. But ultimately, no shots were fired and the Bureau of Land Management reported that officials left over safety concerns.

Reid had harsh words for these supporters, saying the government cannot stop pursuing the issue.

“They’re nothing more than domestic terrorists,” Reid said, according to the paper. “I repeat: what happened there was domestic terrorism.”

Reid said he has been told a federal task force is being set up to deal with the Bundy situation, adding Bundy does not respect the U.S. or its laws.

“Clive Bundy does not recognize the United States,” Reid said. “The United States, he says, is a foreign government. He doesn’t pay his taxes. He doesn’t pay his fees. And he doesn’t follow the law. He continues to thumb his nose at authority.”

Reid also suggested the supporters were dangerous to the community.

“They had sniper rifles in the freeway. They had weapons, automatic weapons. They had children lined up. They wanted to make sure they got hurt first … What if others tried the same thing?” he said.

Bundy has been at odds for years with the feds, who say he owes more than $1.1 million in unpaid grazing fees. BLM long ago revoked Bundy’s grazing rights on that land after citing concern for a federally protected tortoise. Bundy, though, claimed ancestral rights to the land his family settled in the 19th century and has refused to pay the fees or remove his animals.

BLM officials have said they’ll continue their fight through the courts. 

Click for more from the Las Vegas Journal Review.

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ADOPTION CRACKDOWN Wisc. restricts parents from giving up adopted kids

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May 7, 2013: Adopted child Quita Puchalla, 21, poses outside her apartment in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.Reuters

Wisconsin has become the first state in the nation to pass legislation cracking down on parents who try to give away their adopted kids. 

On Wednesday, Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill that would bar adoptive parents from finding a new home for their children without court permission. The legislation sought to protect adopted children from the unregulated practice of “re-homing,” where adoptive parents use underground networks to find a new family for children they don’t want. 

“With virtually no oversight, children could literally be traded from home to home. In Wisconsin, that is now against the law,” Republican Rep. Joel Kleefisch, who sponsored the legislation, said. “Hopefully citizens of the country will follow our lead.”

The Wisconsin push comes after hundreds of parents were caught using social media sites to give away their adopted kids to strangers they met on the Internet. In some cases, that meant to predators and pedophiles.

Presently, there are no federal rules that prevent the practice of “re-homing” children — a term typically used by pet owners looking for new homes for their unruly animals.

Many nations don’t disclose if the children they are putting up for adoption are victims of physical abuse or mental trauma. The adoptive parents in these scenarios often are unable to adequately care for the children, and some are left looking for questionable outs, Kathy Ledesma, national project director for Adopt US Kids, told FoxNews.com.

Ledesma, who has worked in the past on international adoptions, says states aren’t funded to handle issues that arise with these types of adoptions. Because these parents are often stuck in a situation, they turn to underground networks to dump the children they don’t want or can’t care for.

The legislation comes following a series of reports from Reuters looking into the underground trade of adopted minors. 

Reuters analyzed 5,029 posts from parents of adopted children over a five-year period on a Yahoo Internet message board. The news agency found that, on average, one child per week was advertised for “re-homing” In total, 261 kids were offered up via Yahoo.

The kids on the site, offered up for “re-homing,” typically ranged in age from 6 to 14, although the youngest was 10 months old. Most had been adopted from other countries, including China, Russia and Ethiopia.

One reported case involved a Wisconsin couple. When couple Todd and Melissa Puchalla adopted Quita, a 14-year-old girl with a history of mental problems, from Liberia, they thought it would be easier. But after two years with the troubled teen, they decided to give her up, posting an ad on the Internet.

Less than 48 hours after posting the ad, Illinois couple Nicole and Calvin Eason contacted the Puchallas, saying they were interested in Quita. On Oct. 4, 2008, the Puchallas drove from their Wisconsin home to Westville, Ill., ready to hand over Quita. They didn’t know anything about the Easons.

They reportedly didn’t bother doing a simple background check on the couple they were handing their child to. Had they, they would have found that child welfare authorities had taken away both of Nicole Eason’s biological children, including a newborn baby boy. The deputy who had taken the infant away said in his report that the “parents have severe psychiatric problems as well with violent tendencies,” Reuters reported.

Police reports also showed that children the couple baby-sat in the past had accused the Easons of sexual abuse. The only official document attesting to the Easons parenting skills was later found to be doctored by the Easons.

During her first night with the Easons, Quita told Reuters, her new guardians told her to join them in their bed. Nicole was naked, Quita said, according to Reuters.

In July 2009, Tom and Misty Mealey also welcomed the Easons to their Roanoke, Va., home. The Mealeys were prepared to give the Easons one of their children – a 5-year-old adopted boy from Guatemala they had adopted earlier.

Tom was a cop.

“It’s horribly embarrassing,” he told Reuters of being misled by the Easons. “The thought that I spent a career dealing with people like this is even more embarrassing. I wish we had done more.” 

Following the Reuters investigation, Yahoo shut down their Adopting-from-Disruption bulletin board. Yahoo also took down five other discussion boards.

The Reuters investigation also found a forum on Facebook, but that one remains active. Emails to Facebook for comment by FoxNews.com were not returned.

Puchalla, now 21, is enrolled  at the Milwaukee Area Technical College where she is studying social work. She lost her apartment over the summer and is now in temporary housing.

The little boy the Mealeys gave up is now 9-years-old. He is currently a ward of New York state.

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FOX NEWS POLL Majority of voters: Obama covering up on Benghazi

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Sept. 11, 2012: The U.S. Consulate in Benghazi is seen in flames during a terrorist attack that claimed the lives of four Americans.Reuters

Most voters think the White House is trying to cover-up what happened in Benghazi and want Congress to continue to investigate the administration’s handling of the attack on the U.S. consulate there that killed four Americans. 

That’s according to a Fox News poll released Thursday.

Sixty percent of voters want lawmakers to keep investigating what happened in Benghazi. That’s down from 65 percent who felt that way in November, and a high of 73 percent in early June 2013. 

CLICK HERE TO READ THE POLL RESULTS.

A third opposes Congress continuing to investigate the attack (34 percent).

The 2012 attack took place in Benghazi, Libya on the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. 

Senators Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and John McCain, R-Ariz., repeated their request March 31 for a Joint Select Committee to be appointed to investigate what happened in Benghazi. The senators also released a list of “unanswered questions on Benghazi attack” at a press conference April 9 — several days after former acting CIA Director Michael Morell testified in front of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence April 2. McCain said Morell’s testimony raised more questions than it answered. 

The number of voters wanting the investigation to continue is down among Democrats, Republicans and independents. For Democrats, 42 percent say the investigation should continue, down from a high of 58 percent who said the same in early June 2013.

Among Republicans, 77 percent want Congress to keep looking into the attack, down from a high of 93 percent (June 9-11, 2013).

For independents, it is 61 percent today, down from a high of 74 percent (June 22-24, 2013). 

By a margin of 61-26 percent, voters believe that the White House is “trying to cover-up” what happened in Benghazi rather than “being open and transparent.” Those views are mostly unchanged since last year.

About a third of Democrats (33 percent), two-thirds of independents (66 percent) and almost all Republicans (87 percent) say the Obama administration is hiding something on Benghazi.

Veterans (64 percent) and non-veterans (61 percent) alike see a cover-up. 

Who is to blame for what happened at the diplomatic facilities in Benghazi? Fifty-five percent blame former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton “a great deal” (26 percent) or “some” (29 percent) for what happened at the diplomatic facilities in Benghazi. That’s down from 60 percent who felt she was at least somewhat responsible earlier this year (January 2014).

The Fox News poll is based on landline and cell phone interviews with 1,012 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from April 13-15, 2014. The full poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points. 

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Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/04/17/fox-news-poll-voters-say-obama-covering-up-on-benghazi-want-congress-to-keep/