Virgin Galactic spaceship lost in accident; pilots’ fate unknown

Last Updated Oct 31, 2014 3:09 PM EDT

MOJAVE, Calif. – Virgin Galactic has reported an accident during a test flight of its SpaceShipTwo space tourism rocket. Wreckage of the spacecraft was spotted in the desert.

The spacecraft can carry a crew of two. The California Highway Patrol reports there was 1 fatality and 1 major injury.

“During the test, the vehicle suffered a serious anomaly which resulted in the loss of SpaceShipTwo,” the company said on Twitter. It could not confirm the fate of the crew, saying “Our first concern is the status of the pilots, which is unknown at this time.”

Kern County Fire Department reports it is heading to a location in the Mojave Desert. California Highway Patrol Officer Darlena Dotson says the agency is responding to a report of a crash in the Cantil area.

About two hours earlier, the company had tweeted that SpaceShipTwo was flying under rocket power.

SpaceShipTwo has been under development at Mojave Air and Spaceport in the desert northeast of Los Angeles.

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File photo of the Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo vessel, at Spaceport America, northeast of Truth Or Consequences, New Mexico, on October 17, 2011.

SpaceShipTwo is carried aloft by a specially designed jet and then released before igniting its rocket for suborbital thrill ride into space and then a return to Earth as a glider.

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AD WARS: Campaigns go for shock, silly in final TV blitz before Election Day

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Images from three 2014 political campaign ads. (NARAL/Neel Kashkari’s “Betrayal” spot/National Republican Congressional Committee)

Condom shortages. A drowning child. Drug-addled monkeys. 

These are just a few of the topics tackled in the final batch of campaign ads being aired ahead of next week’s elections, as political campaigns and allied groups push the envelope in pursuit of undecided voters and perhaps those who hadn’t been paying attention until now. 

The new ads run the gamut from the creative and charmingly offbeat to the disturbing to the simply bizarre. In the final blitz before Election Day, many are going for raw shock value. 

Take Neel Kashkari’s “Betrayal” spot. 

 

The largely self-financed GOP candidate who is challenging California Gov. Jerry Brown released a 30-second ad earlier this month showing a young boy drowning in a pool. As the boy flails, a message on the screen reads, “When kids in failing schools begged Jerry Brown for rescue, HE BETRAYED THEM.” The ad then shows Kashkari saving the boy and saying, “When I’m governor, I’ll fight for kids, not against them.”

The piece was panned by some political analysts. “For a political ad, it’s running on the outer edge of acceptable,” Barbara O’Connor, director emeritus of the nonpartisan Institute for the Study of Politics and Media at California State University, told a Sacramento television station. 

But Kashkari says he “wanted the most dramatic image” he could find, adding, “I don’t think the ad goes far enough.” The Republican continues to trail far behind Brown. An Oct. 22 Public Policy Institute of California poll shows Kashkari trailing Brown by 16 percentage points, 52-36 percent.

One new ad raising eyebrows is from NARAL, a left-leaning pro-choice organization that is weighing in on Colorado’s tight Senate race between Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Udall and Republican challenger, Rep. Cory Gardner. 

The ad suggests a vote for Gardner would lead to a birth control ban and a national run on condoms. It starts with a female narrator saying, “Guys, guys, guys, guys.” The video shows a man’s hand groping for a condom wrapper on a nightstand. “If Cory Gardner gets his way, you better stock up on condoms,” the narrator says. The commercial cuts to a couple in bed with the male frustrated he’s apparently run out of contraceptives. 

The group is referring to a bill Gardner backed that reportedly could ban some types of birth control, but a recent fact check notes Gardner does not actually want to ban birth control.  

The ad, promoted as “edgy” by NARAL, hasn’t been a home run with all voters.   

“Ummmmmm, okay. Wait – what?” Lisa Carter, a voter in Colorado, told FoxNews.com after she watched the spot, adding that it did little to sway her vote. “It’s just weird and creepy, you know?” 

Then there’s an ad by the National Republican Congressional Committee against Georgia Rep. John Barrow. It features a woman sitting on a stool with a monkey on her shoulder, in an attempt to make a point about outrageous government spending. 

 

“$820,000 of our tax dollars were spent studying how monkeys respond to unfairness and how they act while on cocaine. Think about that,” the narrator says.

This election cycle, guns were used in several ads and showcased candidates from both parties bragging about their shooting skills in open fields.

In Kentucky’s competitive Senate race between incumbent Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell and Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes, both sides relied heavily on their love of guns to get their message across.

In a Grimes ad from last month, she’s shown skeet shooting, saying she’s “not Barack Obama.” She also offers to show McConnell how to hold a gun.

McConnell, though, went up this week with a whimsical ad showing him getting advice on how to make … commercials. One scene shows his ad gurus telling him, “We see you between two trucks” — before showing McConnell’s face glued onto the famous Jean-Claude Van Damme ad where the actor is seen doing a split between two big rigs. 

But perhaps one of the strangest political ads airing this election year involves the tag-team duo of Nevada congressional GOP candidate Kamau Bakari and outspoken rancher Cliven Bundy. 

 

Dressed as cowboys and standing next to a horse, Bakari and Bundy awkwardly attempt to poke fun at political correctness and racism in the web video. They also challenge Attorney General Eric Holder to debate the issue of race with them. 

Bakari is running in the 1st Congressional District race against Democratic incumbent Rep. Dina Titus and GOP candidate Annette Teijeiro.

Bundy speaks in the ad, saying he ought to be able to say whatever he wants without being labeled a racist. The Nevada rancher had been criticized earlier this year for suggesting black people were better off as slaves. As of Thursday, the Bakari-Bundy ad had more than 60,000 hits on YouTube. 

While some last-minute ads are seen as a Hail Mary, others are meant to motivate a constituency in tight races, J.J. Balaban, a partner at The Campaign Group, told FoxNews.com.

Balaban, who has helped create television and radio ads for campaigns in 34 states and 54 congressional districts, says it all comes down to how competitive a race is and where the ads run. For example, some candidates in smaller races don’t have a ton of cash and so they rely on cheap web videos that have an amateurish feel and tend to be more outlandish than those paid for and aired on traditional media outlets. 

“What you’ll see is that web videos get a lot of attention, but it’s a mistake to treat them with the same weight [as paid TV ads],” Balaban said, adding that most web videos are like a flash in the pan. The crazier they are, though, the more likely a reporter is going to spot it.

“These ads succeed when reporters write about them, and you aren’t going to write about them if they aren’t off the wall or wacky,” he said.

Campaigns are still running plenty of paid TV ads. According to the Center for Public Integrity, a review of preliminary data shows that 908,000 television ads for Senate races will have aired through Monday. “With a week’s worth of advertising yet to be tallied, to say nothing of the deluge of messaging that would flood anticipated Senate runoff contests in Georgia and Louisiana, the million-ad mark will be eclipsed soon,” CPI states on its site.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/10/31/batch-bizarre-political-ads-released-to-sway-last-minute-voters/

‘AN ALARMING INCREASE’ Iran blasted on human rights before UN hearing

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Public executions in Iran are often witnessed by children and are meted out for offenses such as homosexuality and drug possession. (Courtesy: Iran Human Rights)

On the eve of Iran’s defense of its human rights record Friday before a key United Nations panel, a lawyer for the woman executed in the Islamic Republic over the weekend for allegedly killing her attempted rapist accused the regime of widespread torture and murder.

A UN-appointed human rights advocate had already prepared a voluminous account of Tehran’s egregious transgressions, including persecution and imprisonment of religious minorities, alarming numbers of executions and systematic disregard of due process by Saturday, when Reyhaneh Jabbari, a 27-year-old woman who had spent the last seven years in prison, was hanged. Jabbari became an international symbol of the regime’s brutality, with the UN and rights groups such as Amnesty International decrying her death sentence. Jabbari’s execution served to punctuate this week’s hearings, including the independent forum in Geneva on Thursday and a procedure today before a UN Human Rights Council panel.

“I ask you to not allow for Iran to get away with lies.”

- Marina Nemat, former prisoner in Iran

“Because Reyhaneh Jabbari’s case created a lot of attention inside and outside of Iran, a lot of people tried to save Reyhaneh Jabbari, but because of the power of Iran, on Saturday, they hanged her,” Iranian Human Rights Attorney Mohammed Mostafaei, who represented Jabbari as well as some 200 death penalty defendants, told the independent watchdog group UN Watch on Thursday. “I’m sure we can — if the Iranian government stopped the death penalty — we can improve human rights in Iran.”

Mostafaei, who represented Jabbari before fleeing Iran under threat, said Iranian jurisprudence disregards the concept of intent in determining guilt and meting out punishment, relying on sharia law. Once defendants are arrested, coerced confessions are common, say critics.

On Friday, the UN Human Rights Council conducted its periodic review of Iran’s record in Geneva. Iran has long denied access to the UN’s independent experts and so-called special rapporteurs, including Ahmed Shaheed, the world body’s special rapporteur on human rights in Iran. The meeting in Switzerland provided a rare occasion for UN member states to engage with the Iranian authorities, who have submitted a rebuttal which claims the regime does not engage in torture.

Iran’s justice minister, Mostafa Pour Mohammadi, blamed Jabbari’s death on the west, and several allies of Tehran, including Venezuela and Belarus, actually praised the Islamic Republic for defending human rights.

According to a 28-page report submitted by Shaheed, some 852 people were reportedly executed between July 2013 and June 2014 in “an alarming increase” over already high rates from previous years. In 2014 alone, at least eight people executed were believed to have been under the 18 at the time when they allegedly committed their crimes.

While capital punishment is permitted under international law for cases involving intentional homicide, Shaheed noted, Iran applies it to economic and drug crimes and even homosexuality, a crime under Sharia law. In addition, children often view the public executions, typically carried out by hanging convicts from cranes in public.

“Eighty-percent of the 800 documented [executions] were for drug offenses,” Shaheed said.

And the real problem, according to Shaheed, whose report notes prosecution of journalists, labor and education activists and forced marriages of girls as young as 9, is that Iranians cannot feel secure under the rule of law.

“When your rights aren’t guaranteed [and] they depend upon the human fancy of those in power, then you live in either self-denial or self-limitation,” he said. “There are reprisals against those who cooperate with international human rights mechanisms. I think it is fair to say that there is a climate of fear in terms of people not being able to exercise their rights fully.”

The election more than a year ago of President Hassan Rouhani, who ran as a moderate and stoked hopes of a more tolerant regime, has not brought about the hoped-for reforms. Although some say the religious clerics who carry more power in the Islamic Republic, are responsible for the continuing human rights violations, critics say Rouhani could do more.

At least three American citizens are believed to be held in Iraq, including Pastor Saeed Abedini, a Boise, Idaho, married father of two who went back to his homeland to help establish a secular orphanage and was imprisoned for proselytizing; Amir Hekmati, a U.S. Marine who went to visit an ailing grandparent and was arrested and accused of being a spy and Robert Levinson, a former FBI and DEA agent who disappeared while investigating a cigarette -smuggling ring in the Kish Islands and is now believed to be the longest-held hostage in American history. Iran denies it is holding Levinson, but the State Department says it is.

Thursday’s hearing by UN Watch served as something of a prelude to the UN’s official inquiry on Friday. In addition to Mostafaei, the panel heard from former prisoners of Iran’s infamous Evin Prison, who recalled the horrors they endured. Marina Nemat, who was sent to Evin in 1981 at age 16 and says she was interrogated and tortured and even raped and forced to marry a prison guard, scoffed at Iran’s defense of its human rights record.

“Iran doesn’t torture? Iran respects women’s rights?” an incredulous Nemat, now a professor at University of Toronto, asked at Thursday’s forum. “They hired a fiction writer. I hope there is someone at the UN who would hold them accountable.

“I ask you to not allow for Iran to get away with lies,” she said in a direct appeal to today’s UN gathering. “There are so many people who are more than willing to testify against it.”

The Associated Press and FoxNews.com’s Perry Chiaramonte contributed reporting to this story.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/10/31/persecution-torture-murder-iran-blasted-on-human-rights-ahead-un-hearing/

FACING JUSTICE Suspected cop killer charged with murder

Prosecutors vowed to seek the death penalty for Eric Frein, the suspected cop killer who made his initial court appearance early Friday after a seven-week manhunt that ended with the self-styled survivalist shackled in the handcuffs of his alleged victim.

Frein, 31, appeared gaunt and fatigued during his arraignment at Pike County Courthouse on first-degree murder and other charges. He was not asked to enter a plea and was not accompanied by an attorney. Earlier Friday, throngs of onlookers and reporters cheered as Frein was led into the building amid high security, including armored vehicles. His next court appearance has been scheduled for Nov. 12.

Pike County District Attorney Ray Tonkin said he intends to seek the death penalty for Frein, who remains jailed without bail and has spoken to investigators since his arrest. Tonkin declined to elaborate, but said authorities “have now started to find the answers” behind Frein’s alleged ambush. He also declined to discuss Frein’s motive, but said police have no reason to believe he received assistance from anyone while evading capture.

“We have now started to find the answers that the community desired in this case,” Tonkin told reporters. “The families in this matter, of Dickson and Douglass, and the Pennsylvania State Police family, have suffered unimaginable loss of unspeakable proportions.”

The dogged hunt for Frein ended Thursday night when U.S. Marshals arrested him in an airport hangar during a routine sweep near Buck Hill. Frein was slapped with the handcuffs of the Pennsylvania state trooper he allegedly shot and killed, a fitting end for law enforcement officers to the 48-day manhunt. Cpl. Bryon Dickson, 38, was killed when Frein allegedly opened fire outside the Blooming Grove state police barracks on Sept. 12. Fellow officer Trooper Alex Douglass, 31, was also seriously wounded.

Hunting for Frein in the same area the team had been scouring for more than two months, officers thought they saw the suspect and immediately told him to surrender. Frein was taken into custody without incident.

“He did not just give up because he was tired,” state police Commissioner Frank Noonan said in a press conference late Thursday night. “He gave up because he was caught.”

The quiet takedown of Frein, who kneeled and put his hands up when marshals approached him, ended weeks of tension and turmoil in the area, as authorities at times closed schools, canceled outdoor events and blockaded roads to pursue him. Residents grew weary of hearing helicopters whirring overhead, while small businesses suffered mounting losses and town supervisors canceled a popular Halloween parade. The dragnet involved hundreds of law enforcement officials fanned out across the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania and cost about $10 million, State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens said.

“It feels good to know there’s a guy like this off the streets,” said Gregory Kubasek, 19, of Marshalls Creek, who drove to the barracks late Thursday to get a glimpse of the alleged cop-killer.

“We’re relieved. We’re very relieved. We want things to get back to normal.”

- Helen Blackmore, of Cresco, Pa.

Noonan said Frein was in good health, despite what he described as a “scratch” on his nose that he said was already there when marshals arrested him.

“He looked fairly healthy, healthier than I would’ve expected,” Noonan said.

Police said they linked Frein to the ambush after a man walking his dog found his partly submerged SUV three days later in a swamp a few miles away from the shooting scene. Investigators found shell casing matching those found at the barracks, as well as Frein’s driver’s license, camouflage face paint, two empty rifle cases and military gear.

Frein belonged to a military re-enactor’s group, playing the part of a Serbian soldier. He had a small role in a 2007 movie about a concentration camp survivor and helped with props and historical references on a documentary about World War I.

The FBI named him to its 10 most wanted list.

Earlier this month, Pennsylvania State Police revealed information from a journal found in the woods in which Frein allegedly described shooting the state troopers. They also detailed campsites where Frein was believed to have hidden, cooking over small fires even as heavily armed police hunted him. Police found pipe bomb booby traps and a gun resting against a tree, but had only had a handful of unconfirmed sightings of Frein. Searchers had also come across items they believe Frein hid or abandoned in the woods in northern Monroe County: an AK-47-style assault rifle and ammunition, two pipe bombs, empty packs of Drina-brand Serbian cigarettes and soiled adult diapers.

“Got a shot around 11 p.m. and took it,” Frein wrote on papers found by police. “He [Dickson] dropped. I was surprised at how quick.”

A woman believed to be Frein’s mother declined to comment when reached early Friday by FoxNews.com.

Halloween festivities in Barrett Township had been canceled due to the intense manhunt, but officials said they’re back on following Frein’s arrest.

“We, as a town, think the kids have gone through enough,” said Ralph Megliola, chairman of the township board of supervisors.

Helen Blackmore, of nearby Cresco, said she was ready for a return to normalcy.

“It was very crazy out here,” she said. “The helicopters were out all the time. Nobody was sleeping. Even today they were out. We’re relieved. We’re very relieved. We want things to get back to normal.”

FoxNews.com’s Joshua Rhett Miller and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/10/31/eric-frein-suspect-in-pennsylvania-trooper-ambush-taken-into-custody/

TODD STARNES Does the military have a problem with Jesus?

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A colonel’s column was removed from an Air National Guard newsletter because the writer violated military policy by including references to Jesus Christ and God, an Ohio National Guard spokesman said.

Col. Florencio Marquinez, the medical group commander of the 180th Fighter Wing, wrote an essay in the September edition of the “Stinger.” It was titled, “A Spiritual Journey as a Commander.”

He wrote about how his mother’s faith in Jesus Christ influenced his life and he referenced a Bible verse from the New Testament, “With God all things are possible.”

Before you could say God bless America, the military ordered the colonel’s remarks stricken from the newsletter. Ohio National Guard spokesman James Sims told me the column was a clear violation of military policy.

“So no matter how stressful your life can be with juggling family issues, relationships, career advancement, work, school, or any burden that life throws your way, cast it upon the Lord and He will sustain you,” the colonel wrote.

It wasn’t too longer after the newsletter was posted online before someone filed a complaint – lamenting that the colonel’s words had caused great angst and offense.

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The Military Religious Freedom Foundation’s Mikey Weinstein reached out to Air Force officials at the Pentagon, the Air National Guard is governed by Air Force rules, as well as the 180th Fighter Wing demanding they remove what he called “that odious and offending proselytizing commentary.”

Before you could say God bless America, the military ordered the colonel’s remarks stricken from the newsletter. Ohio National Guard spokesman James Sims told me the column was a clear violation of military policy.

“It’s very clear what you can and cannot say in an Air Force publication,” Sims said. “Once it was brought to our attention and we compared it with the regulation, we found it was in violation of the regulation.”

So what rules did Col. Marquinez violate by referencing the Almighty? I want to quote from the official statement provided by the Ohio National Guard:

“The article violated AFI 1-1, Sections 2.11 and 2.12.1, and the Revised Interim Guidelines Concerning Free Exercise of Religion in the Air Force guidance, and finally, ‘The Air Force Military Commander and the Law’ book.”

A bit much, don’t you think? All that for mentioning that “With God all things are possible.”  

I’m surprised the Air Force didn’t convene a court martial. For the record, Sims told me that to his knowledge the colonel was not reprimanded for writing about Jesus – just censored.

But the Air Force wasn’t content with just removing the colonel’s column. No sir. They had to publically shame and humiliate this officer and gentleman.

As Sims noted in his statement, after the article was removed from the newsletter, it was “followed up with a base-wide email, with updated link for the Singer, stating: ‘The 180th FW Public Affairs office has removed the article ‘A Spiritual Journey as a Commander’ from The Stinger, Volume 52, Issue 09, September 2014 due to sensitivities.”

Sensitivities?

I’ve included a link to the colonel’s “offensive” column. Please note the “sensitive” nature.

Here’s one of the sections that violated the “godless” standards of the Air Force.

“I would not be the man I am today if it wasn’t for my mother leading our whole family to Jesus Christ,” Col. Marquinez wrote. “Her creed to us five children growing up is God first in your life, then comes family and third work.”

The Air Force regulations that were allegedly violated regard “government neutrality regarding religion.”

“Leaders at all levels must balance constitutional protections for an individual’s free exercise of religion or other personal beliefs and the constitutional prohibition against governmental establishment of religion,” the regulation states. “For example, they must avoid the actual or apparent use of their position to promote their personal religious beliefs to their subordinates or to extend preferential treatment for any religion.”

Think of it as a sort-of religious version of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

As you might imagine, the Air Force’s censorship rubbed religious liberty advocates the wrong way.

“Not only did you publicly humiliate him by your actions, but you have sent a chilling message to other members of the Air Force, that they need to keep their faith to themselves or else rise the judgment of the command,” wrote Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty executive director Ron Crews in a letter to the wing commander. 

“Your actions violated his rights under the First Amendment – both his free exercise of religion and his free speech,” Crews added.

Chaplain Alliance is calling on the Air Force to reverse its censorship and repost the colonel’s column.

“The Ohio National Guard is not free to censor the protected speech of one of its members based on the content that speech,” he said.

As Crews pointed out in his letter, just last year a Moody Air Force Base publication posted a column entitled, “Atheist Ponders Spiritual Fitness.”

So if the Air Force can make an accommodation for atheists, why can’t they make one for Christians?

Todd Starnes is host of Fox News & Commentary, heard on hundreds of radio stations. Sign up for his American Dispatch newsletter, be sure to join his Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter. His latest book is “God Less America.”

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2014/10/31/does-military-have-problem-with-jesus/

GOTCHA GONE WRONG? Moderator apologizes for botched geography lesson

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In this Thursday, Oct., 2014 photo, Democrat, U.S. Sen Jeanne Shaheen, left, shakes hands with her Republican opponent former Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Scott Brown before a live televised debate for U.S. Senate. (AP)

A debate moderator apologized to Republican New Hampshire Senate candidate Scott Brown Thursday night after accusing him on-air of botching his state geography — though Brown technically was correct. 

The meandering conversation about New Hampshire regions started after WMUR reporter James Pindell asked Brown at the debate Thursday about what is going “right” and “wrong” in the economy of Sullivan County, which hugs the western edge of New Hampshire. 

Scott, who used to represent Massachusetts in the Senate, has faced “carpetbagger” accusations throughout his campaign to unseat Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire. In response to Pindell’s question, Brown launched into a general answer about different regions of the state. 

“Geography plays a role along the southern border. We have more jobs, we have more opportunity, infrastructure, and other opportunities up north are difficult,” he said. “One of the biggest opportunities is tourism. One of the biggest opportunities are ski areas and trails for snowmobiles — I support those efforts.” 

Pindell then interrupted to remind Brown they were talking about Sullivan County. “I think you were talking about the North Country,” he said. 

Brown responded: “I’m talking about any place past Concord, actually, and the challenges of our state.” 

This is where the disagreement arose. After Brown listed several “challenges,” Pindell interrupted again, his voice raised. 

“Sullivan County is west of Concord,” he said. “It’s not north of Concord, Senator Brown. So what do you see as going well and what’s not going well there?” 

Brown maintained that “the challenges are the same in every county in our state.” 

Pindell then pitched to Shaheen, with the introduction, “Of course you’ve been that county’s governor and senator for 12 years.” 

(The video, below, was posted by the state Democratic Party, with a headline accusing the Republican nominee of being “clueless” on the topic.)

 

Brown’s campaign reportedly claimed afterward that the GOP candidate was referring to Mount Sunapee, a ski resort in Sullivan County he had visited. 

Though New Hampshire Democrats seized on the exchange to mock Brown, Pindell later acknowledged that, while Sullivan County is west of Concord, much of it also lies north of the capital. 

Pindell also went on air to apologize. 

“I said that Sullivan County was west of Concord, not north of Concord. The truth is, it’s both. So on this point, Scott Brown was right, I was wrong, and I apologize to Scott Brown and to both campaigns,” he said. 

The incident was reminiscent of an exchange during a 2012 presidential debate where CNN’s Candy Crowley corrected Mitt Romney on a point about Benghazi, though the matter was in dispute. 

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‘AN ALARMING INCREASE’ Iran blasted on human rights before UN hearing

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Public executions in Iran are often witnessed by children and are meted out for offenses such as homosexuality and drug possession. (Courtesy: Iran Human Rights)

On the eve of Iran’s defense of its human rights record Friday before a key United Nations panel, a lawyer for the woman executed in the Islamic Republic over the weekend for allegedly killing her attempted rapist accused the regime of widespread torture and murder.

A UN-appointed human rights advocate had already prepared a voluminous account of Tehran’s egregious transgressions, including persecution and imprisonment of religious minorities, alarming numbers of executions and systematic disregard of due process by Saturday, when Reyhaneh Jabbari, a 27-year-old woman who had spent the last seven years in prison, was hanged. Jabbari became an international symbol of the regime’s brutality, with the UN and rights groups such as Amnesty International decrying her death sentence. Jabbari’s execution served to punctuate this week’s hearings, including the independent forum in Geneva on Thursday and a procedure today before a UN Human Rights Council panel.

“I ask you to not allow for Iran to get away with lies.”

- Marina Nemat, former prisoner in Iran

“Because Reyhaneh Jabbari’s case created a lot of attention inside and outside of Iran, a lot of people tried to save Reyhaneh Jabbari, but because of the power of Iran, on Saturday, they hanged her,” Iranian Human Rights Attorney Mohammed Mostafaei, who represented Jabbari as well as some 200 death penalty defendants, told the independent watchdog group UN Watch on Thursday. “I’m sure we can — if the Iranian government stopped the death penalty — we can improve human rights in Iran.”

Mostafaei, who represented Jabbari before fleeing Iran under threat, said Iranian jurisprudence disregards the concept of intent in determining guilt and meting out punishment, relying on sharia law. Once defendants are arrested, coerced confessions are common, say critics.

On Friday, the UN Human Rights Council conducted its periodic review of Iran’s record in Geneva. Iran has long denied access to the UN’s independent experts and so-called special rapporteurs, including Ahmed Shaheed, the world body’s special rapporteur on human rights in Iran. The meeting in Switzerland provided a rare occasion for UN member states to engage with the Iranian authorities, who have submitted a rebuttal which claims the regime does not engage in torture.

Iran’s justice minister, Mostafa Pour Mohammadi, blamed Jabbari’s death on the west, and several allies of Tehran, including Venezuela and Belarus, actually praised the Islamic Republic for defending human rights.

According to a 28-page report submitted by Shaheed, some 852 people were reportedly executed between July 2013 and June 2014 in “an alarming increase” over already high rates from previous years. In 2014 alone, at least eight people executed were believed to have been under the 18 at the time when they allegedly committed their crimes.

While capital punishment is permitted under international law for cases involving intentional homicide, Shaheed noted, Iran applies it to economic and drug crimes and even homosexuality, a crime under Sharia law. In addition, children often view the public executions, typically carried out by hanging convicts from cranes in public.

“Eighty-percent of the 800 documented [executions] were for drug offenses,” Shaheed said.

And the real problem, according to Shaheed, whose report notes prosecution of journalists, labor and education activists and forced marriages of girls as young as 9, is that Iranians cannot feel secure under the rule of law.

“When your rights aren’t guaranteed [and] they depend upon the human fancy of those in power, then you live in either self-denial or self-limitation,” he said. “There are reprisals against those who cooperate with international human rights mechanisms. I think it is fair to say that there is a climate of fear in terms of people not being able to exercise their rights fully.”

The election more than a year ago of President Hassan Rouhani, who ran as a moderate and stoked hopes of a more tolerant regime, has not brought about the hoped-for reforms. Although some say the religious clerics who carry more power in the Islamic Republic, are responsible for the continuing human rights violations, critics say Rouhani could do more.

At least three American citizens are believed to be held in Iraq, including Pastor Saeed Abedini, a Boise, Idaho, married father of two who went back to his homeland to help establish a secular orphanage and was imprisoned for proselytizing; Amir Hekmati, a U.S. Marine who went to visit an ailing grandparent and was arrested and accused of being a spy and Robert Levinson, a former FBI and DEA agent who disappeared while investigating a cigarette -smuggling ring in the Kish Islands and is now believed to be the longest-held hostage in American history. Iran denies it is holding Levinson, but the State Department says it is.

Thursday’s hearing by UN Watch served as something of a prelude to the UN’s official inquiry on Friday. In addition to Mostafaei, the panel heard from former prisoners of Iran’s infamous Evin Prison, who recalled the horrors they endured. Marina Nemat, who was sent to Evin in 1981 at age 16 and says she was interrogated and tortured and even raped and forced to marry a prison guard, scoffed at Iran’s defense of its human rights record.

“Iran doesn’t torture? Iran respects women’s rights?” an incredulous Nemat, now a professor at University of Toronto, asked at Thursday’s forum. “They hired a fiction writer. I hope there is someone at the UN who would hold them accountable.

“I ask you to not allow for Iran to get away with lies,” she said in a direct appeal to today’s UN gathering. “There are so many people who are more than willing to testify against it.”

The Associated Press and FoxNews.com’s Perry Chiaramonte contributed reporting to this story.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/10/31/persecution-torture-murder-iran-blasted-on-human-rights-ahead-un-hearing/

HALLOWEEN HORRORS? Terrorist, Ebola costumes reach new low, critics claim

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This Twitter photo, depicting ISIS Halloween costumes, has gone viral on the Internet.

Terrorism, Ebola fears and domestic violence in sports have brought out the worst in Halloween revelers, with costumes taking bad taste to frightening lows and even causing potential national security issues, according to one expert.

One retailer, BrandsOnSale, is selling various controversial costumes this year, including an Ebola hazmat suit — equipped with a breathing mask and face shield — as well as a “baby pot” outfit and severed heads.

“The deadly Ebola virus has landed in the United States and the crisis has reached new levels of domestic escalation. You are sure to be prepared if any outbreak happens at your Halloween party. This will literally be the most ‘viral’ costume of the year,” reads the company’s online advertisement for a $79.99 Ebola suit.

“If you don’t like it, then don’t go out and trick-or-treat.”

- Jonathan Weeks, CEO of BrandsOnSale

While thousands in West Africa continue to die from the disease and critics of the costume call it distasteful, BrandsOnSale Chief Executive Jonathan Weeks was quick to defend it Thursday. 

“People like to dress up as what’s current,” Weeks told FoxNews.com.

“There’s people who get killed in plane crashes and there’s pilot costumes and there’s people who die as nurses and doctors and there’s costumes for that too,” he said. “This is no different than any other EMT worker that is out there helping save lives.”

Weeks’ company also sells cannabis costumes for babies and the ‘super fly’ baby pimp costume.

“The baby pot costume came about because there was a lot of media about children using marijuana to treat seizures,” he said.

“People are going to offend everyone this year. It’s an offensive holiday,” Weeks added. “If you don’t like it, then don’t go out and trick-or-treat.”

The Internet has also gone viral with pictures of homemade Ray Rice costumes that depict the former Baltimore Ravens running back beating his wife. Some photos on Instagram and Facebook show men in a Rice jersey standing next to women with fake black eyes. Rice was arrested in February 2014 for beating his then- fiancée and current wife Janay Palmer in an assault that was captured on surveillance video at an Atlantic City hotel. 

Some costumes, however, cross the line from distasteful to potentially dangerous, according to Mideast expert and Fox News contributor Walid Phares.

Photos have emerged on social media of people dressed up as ISIS militants, toting fake knives and guns, which Phares called “alarming” especially in the wake of the Ottawa shooting in which a lone masked gunman killed a Canadian soldier. One picture, posted Oct. 27 by user T.J ‏@Skinny215 shows a group of ISIS-looking militants with the caption, “Where’s the Halloween parties… Isis will be there.”

“With the increase of young persons planning on wearing ISIS-like uniforms and being masked for Halloween, there are some concerns which we, and law enforcement, need to be attentive to,” he told FoxNews.com.  

“It is all about one day or one night, and hopefully there won’t be any incidents, but here are two scenarios that could be developed by jihadi terrorists for Halloween,” he speculated. “One is that they would wear ISIS type clothing and mingle with the Halloween celebrants, mostly in public places, and perform violence and film it with devices. The videos produced would be extensively used by ISIS or jihadists for propaganda purposes. They would claim having hit the enemy at home, while wearing jihadi uniforms.”

“A second projected scenario, would be to trigger violence and draw law enforcement into reaction, and having law enforcement disoriented by the fact that many youth would be in ISIS clothing, with possible tragic incidents following. There are many scenarios which can be used by jihadi terrorists, particularly by lone wolves,” Phares said.

While Weeks does not sell terrorist costumes, he noted that the “severed heads” some costumers buy each year to decorate their homes with are selling in abundance. 

“We sell severed head props for Halloween decorations,” he said. “They have been more popular this year than ever. We don’t find that funny in the context of ISIS.”

“There is a line you have to draw,” Weeks added. “We never had an Usama Bin Laden costume. People in the past have dressed up as the Boston bombers and the Twin Towers, which I think is extremely distasteful.”

Ricky’s, a New York City-based chain store that sells everything from makeup to costumes, confirmed to FoxNews.com that it does not sell any terror-themed costume.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/10/30/from-ebola-suits-to-terrorist-garb-halloween-costumes-reach-new-low-critics-say/

FACING JUSTICE: Suspected cop killer appears in court hours after capture

Prosecutors vowed to seek the death penalty for Eric Frein, the suspected cop killer who made his initial court appearance early Friday after a seven-week manhunt that ended with the self-styled survivalist shackled in the handcuffs of his alleged victim.

Frein, 31, appeared gaunt and fatigued during his arraignment at Pike County Courthouse on first-degree murder and other charges. He was not asked to enter a plea and was not accompanied by an attorney. Earlier Friday, throngs of onlookers and reporters cheered as Frein was led into the building amid high security, including armored vehicles. His next court appearance has been scheduled for Nov. 12.

Pike County District Attorney Ray Tonkin said he intends to seek the death penalty for Frein, who has spoken to investigators since his arrest. Tonkin declined to elaborate, but said authorities “have now started to find the answers” behind Frein’s alleged ambush. He also declined to discuss Frein’s motive, but said police have no reason to believe he received assistance from anyone while evading capture.

“We have now started to find the answers that the community desired in this case,” Tonkin told reporters. “The families in this matter, of Dickson and Douglass, and the Pennsylvania State Police family, have suffered unimaginable loss of unspeakable proportions.”

The dogged hunt for Frein ended Thursday night when U.S. Marshals arrested him in an airport hangar during a routine sweep near Buck Hill. Frein was slapped with the handcuffs of the Pennsylvania state trooper he allegedly shot and killed, a fitting end for law enforcement officers to the 48-day manhunt. Cpl. Bryon Dickson, 38, was killed when Frein allegedly opened fire outside the Blooming Grove state police barracks on Sept. 12. Fellow officer Trooper Alex Douglass, 31, was also seriously wounded.

Hunting for Frein in the same area the team had been scouring for more than two months, officers thought they saw the suspect and immediately told him to surrender. Frein was taken into custody without incident.

“He did not just give up because he was tired,” state police Commissioner Frank Noonan said in a press conference late Thursday night. “He gave up because he was caught.”

The quiet takedown of Frein, who kneeled and put his hands up when marshals approached him, ended weeks of tension and turmoil in the area, as authorities at times closed schools, canceled outdoor events and blockaded roads to pursue him. Residents grew weary of hearing helicopters whirring overhead, while small businesses suffered mounting losses and town supervisors canceled a popular Halloween parade. The dragnet involved hundreds of law enforcement officials fanned out across the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania and cost about $10 million, State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens said.

“It feels good to know there’s a guy like this off the streets,” said Gregory Kubasek, 19, of Marshalls Creek, who drove to the barracks late Thursday to get a glimpse of the alleged cop-killer.

“We’re relieved. We’re very relieved. We want things to get back to normal.”

- Helen Blackmore, of Cresco, Pa.

Noonan said Frein was in good health, despite what he described as a “scratch” on his nose that he said was already there when marshals arrested him.

“He looked fairly healthy, healthier than I would’ve expected,” Noonan said.

Police said they linked Frein to the ambush after a man walking his dog found his partly submerged SUV three days later in a swamp a few miles away from the shooting scene. Investigators found shell casing matching those found at the barracks, as well as Frein’s driver’s license, camouflage face paint, two empty rifle cases and military gear.

Frein belonged to a military re-enactor’s group, playing the part of a Serbian solder. He had a small role in a 2007 movie about a concentration camp survivor and helped with props and historical references on a documentary about World War I.

The FBI named him to its 10 most wanted list.

Earlier this month, Pennsylvania State Police revealed information from a journal found in the woods in which Frein allegedly described shooting the state troopers. They also detailed campsites where Frein was believed to have hidden, cooking over small fires even as heavily armed police hunted him. Police found pipe bomb booby traps and a gun resting against a tree, but had only had a handful of unconfirmed sightings of Frein. Searchers had also come across items they believe Frein hid or abandoned in the woods in northern Monroe County: an AK-47-style assault rifle and ammunition, two pipe bombs, empty packs of Drina-brand Serbian cigarettes and soiled adult diapers.

“Got a shot around 11 p.m. and took it,” Frein wrote on papers found by police. “He [Dickson] dropped. I was surprised at how quick.”

A woman believed to be Frein’s mother declined to comment when reached early Friday by FoxNews.com.

Halloween festivities in Barrett Township had been canceled due to the intense manhunt, but officials said they’re back on following Frein’s arrest.

“We, as a town, think the kids have gone through enough,” said Ralph Megliola, chairman of the township board of supervisors.

Helen Blackmore, of nearby Cresco, said she was ready for a return to normalcy.

“It was very crazy out here,” she said. “The helicopters were out all the time. Nobody was sleeping. Even today they were out. We’re relieved. We’re very relieved. We want things to get back to normal.”

FoxNews.com’s Joshua Rhett Miller and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/10/31/eric-frein-suspect-in-pennsylvania-trooper-ambush-taken-into-custody/

Frein "definitely taken by surprise" after lengthy hunt

Last Updated Oct 31, 2014 9:53 AM EDT

The target of an exhausting manhunt in northeastern Pennsylvania just spent his first night in jail.

Eric Frein — accused of murdering a state trooper and wounding another last month — evaded capture for nearly seven weeks. But Pennsylvania State Police say, in the end, the self-taught survivalist gave up without a fight, CBS News correspondent Vladimir Duthiers reports.

“They ordered him to surrender, to get down on his knees and raise his hands, which is what he did,” State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan said at a press conference Thursday night. “Once they approached him, he admitted his identity, and he was taken into custody.”

On early Friday morning a handcuffed Frein was ushered into the Pike County Courthouse in Milford for his preliminary arraignment.

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For 48 tense days, hundreds of law enforcement officials fanned out across the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania in a grueling manhunt for the 31-year-old survivalist armed with high-powered weaponry and explosives.

In the end, Frein surrendered meekly around 6 p.m. Thursday to a team of U.S. marshals who stumbled across him near an abandoned airplane hangar some 30 miles from the rural barracks where he allegedly opened fire Sept. 12, killing a trooper and seriously injuring another.

Noonan said Frein was “definitely taken by surprise” when searchers found the suspect in Tannersville, Pennsylvania, a few miles from his parents’ home. “He was away from the hangar and in an open field when we apprehended him,” he said.

Frein’s arrest included a special salute to the trooper killed in the Sept. 12 ambush: Authorities placed him in the handcuffs of slain Cpl. Bryon Dickson and put him in Dickson’s squad car for the ride back, under heavy police escort, to the Blooming Grove barracks.

Noonan, who characterized Frein as “dedicated to killing law enforcement members,” said the suspect was in good physical condition following 48 days on the run: “He’s not damaged at all and he did not require any medical attention — healthier than I would have expected,” he said.

After the shooting, Frein disappeared deep into the woods. He eluded multiple agencies looking for him, but left behind clues of his whereabouts including weapons, ammunition and soiled diapers.

At Frein’s preliminary arraignment Friday, he will be faced with multiple charges, including murder in the first degree; homicide of a law enforcement officer; attempted murder in the first degree; attempted homicide of a law enforcement officer; assault of a law enforcement officer; possession of weapons of mass destruction; discharging a firearm into an occupied structure; and reckless endangerment.

The weapons of mass destruction charge came after investigators found a cache of items abandoned at a campsite, including two homemade IEDs.

“He has been stripped of his guns, his bombs, and now his freedom,” Sam Rabadi, chief of the Philadelphia office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said at a late-night news conference.

Prosecutors say they want to see Frein convicted and then executed.

The quiet takedown of Frein, who kneeled and put his hands up when marshals approached him, ended weeks of tension and turmoil in the area, as authorities at times closed schools, canceled outdoor events and blockaded roads to pursue him. Residents grew weary of hearing helicopters whirring overhead, while small businesses suffered mounting losses and town supervisors canceled a popular Halloween parade.

“It feels good to know there’s a guy like this off the streets,” said Gregory Kubasek, 19, of Marshalls Creek, who drove to the barracks Thursday night to catch a glimpse of Frein.

The manhunt had disrupted some plans for trick-or-treating, but Halloween festivities in Barrett Township, in the heart of the search zone, were back on.

“We as a town think the kids have gone through enough,” said Ralph Megliola, chairman of the township

Helen Blackmore, who lives in nearby Cresco, was ready for some normalcy.

“It was very crazy here. The helicopters were out all the time. Nobody was sleeping. Even today they were out,” she said. “We’re relieved. We’re very relieved. We want things to get back to normal.”

After being processed, Frein left the barracks in handcuffs around 1:30 a.m. Friday and was taken to the Pike County Correctional Facility. His nose looked swollen and he appeared slightly bloodied above one eye.

State police said they didn’t know whether Frein, who was unarmed when captured, had been using the hangar as a shelter during his seven weeks on the run, and they wouldn’t say what they found there.

“He did not just give up because he was tired,” Noonan said. “He gave up because he was caught.”

Dickson’s family, as well as wounded Trooper Alex Douglass and his family, expressed “relief and gratitude” over Frein’s arrest, Noonan said.

Police said they linked Frein to the ambush after a man walking his dog discovered his partly submerged SUV three days later in a swamp a few miles from the shooting scene. Inside, investigators found shell casings matching those found at the barracks as well as Frein’s driver’s license, camouflage face paint, two empty rifle cases and military gear.

Source Article from http://feeds.cbsnews.com/~r/CBSNewsMain/~3/TPBas433i28/

Manhunt ends with suspect in targeted officer’s handcuffs

Prosecutors vowed to seek the death penalty for Eric Frein, the suspected cop killer making his initial court appearance early Friday after a seven-week manhunt that ended with the self-styled survivalist shackled in the handcuffs of his alleged victim.

Frein, 31, is facing multiple capital offenses: first-degree murder, murder of a law enforcement official and first-degree attempted murder. He is also facing various other charges including two counts of possession of weapons of mass destruction after police found pipe bombs during their search. Frein’s initial court appearance was scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday at Pike County Courthouse, where throngs of reporters cheered as he was led into a building amid high security, including armored vehicles.

The hunt for Frein ended Thursday night when U.S. Marshals arrested him in an airport hangar near Buck Hill. Frein was slapped with the handcuffs of the Pennsylvania state trooper he allegedly shot and killed, a fitting end for law enforcement officers to the 48-day manhunt. Cpl. Bryon Dickson, 38, was killed when Frein allegedly opened fire outside the Blooming Grove state police barracks on Sept. 12. Fellow officer Trooper Alex Douglass, 31, was also seriously wounded.

Looking for Frein in the same area the team had been searching for over two months, officers thought they saw the suspect and immediately told him to surrender. Frein was taken into custody without any incident.

“He did not just give up because he was tired,” state police Commissioner Frank Noonan said in a press conference late Thursday night. “He gave up because he was caught.”

The quiet takedown of Frein, who kneeled and put his hands up when marshals approached him, ended weeks of tension and turmoil in the area, as authorities at times closed schools, canceled outdoor events and blockaded roads to pursue him. Residents grew weary of hearing helicopters whirring overhead, while small businesses suffered mounting losses and town supervisors canceled a popular Halloween parade.

“It feels good to know there’s a guy like this off the streets,” said Gregory Kubasek, 19, of Marshalls Creek, who drove to the barracks late Thursday to get a glimpse of the alleged cop-killer.

“We’re relieved. We’re very relieved. We want things to get back to normal.”

- Helen Blackmore, of Cresco, Pa.

Noonan said Frein was in good health, despite what he described as a “scratch” on his nose that he said was already there when marshals arrested him.

“He looked fairly healthy, healthier than I would’ve expected,” Noonan said.

Police said they linked Frein to the ambush after a man walking his dog found his partly submerged SUV three days later in a swamp a few miles away from the shooting scene. Investigators found shell casing matching those found at the barracks, as well as Frein’s driver’s license, camouflage face paint, two empty rifle cases and military gear.

Frein belonged to a military re-enactor’s group, playing the part of a Serbian solder. He had a small role in a 2007 movie about a concentration camp survivor and helped with props and historical references on a documentary about World War I.

The FBI named him to its 10 most wanted list.

Earlier this month, Pennsylvania State Police revealed information from a journal found in the woods in which Frein allegedly described shooting the state troopers. They also detailed campsites where Frein was believed to have hidden, cooking over small fires even as heavily armed police hunted him. Police found pipe bomb booby traps and a gun resting against a tree, but had only had a handful of unconfirmed sightings of Frein. Searchers had also come across items they believe Frein hid or abandoned in the woods in northern Monroe County: an AK-47-style assault rifle and ammunition, two pipe bombs, empty packs of Drina-brand Serbian cigarettes and soiled adult diapers.

“Got a shot around 11 p.m. and took it,” Frein wrote on papers found by police. “He [Dickson] dropped. I was surprised at how quick.”

A woman believed to be Frein’s mother declined to comment when reached early Friday by FoxNews.com.

Halloween festivities in Barrett Township had been canceled due to the intense manhunt, but officials said they’re back on following Frein’s arrest.

“We, as a town, think the kids have gone through enough,” said Ralph Megliola, chairman of the township board of supervisors.

Helen Blackmore, of nearby Cresco, said she was ready for a return to normalcy.

“It was very crazy out here,” she said. “The helicopters were out all the time. Nobody was sleeping. Even today they were out. We’re relieved. We’re very relieved. We want things to get back to normal.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/10/31/eric-frein-suspect-in-pennsylvania-trooper-ambush-taken-into-custody/

Manhunt ends with suspect in targeted officer’s handcuffs

Prosecutors vowed to seek the death penalty for Eric Frein, the suspected cop killer nabbed Thursday night in rural Pennsylvania after a seven-week manhunt that ended with the self-styled survivalist shackled in the handcuffs of his alleged victim.

The search ended Thursday night when U.S. Marshals arrested Frein in an airport hangar near Buck Hill. Frein was slapped with the handcuffs of the Pennsylvania state trooper he allegedly shot and killed, making it a fitting end to the 48-day manhunt. Cpl. Bryon Dickson was 38-years-old when Frein allegedly opened fire outside the Blooming Grove state police barracks on Sept. 12. Dickson died from the injuries he suffered, while fellow officer Trooper Alex Douglass, 31, was seriously wounded.

Looking for Frein in the same area the team had been searching for over two months, officers thought they saw the suspect and immediately told him to surrender. Frein was taken into custody without any incident.

“He did not just give up because he was tired,” state police Commissioner Frank Noonan said in a press conference late Thursday night. “He gave up because he was caught.”

Prosecutors will now seek the death penalty for Frein, who is facing multiple capital offenses: first-degree murder, murder of a law enforcement official and first-degree attempted murder. Frein is also facing various other charges including two counts of possession of weapons of mass destruction after police found pipe bombs during their search. His initial court appearance is scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday at Pike County Courthouse.

The quiet takedown of Frein, who kneeled and put his hands up when marshals approached him, ended weeks of tension and turmoil in the area, as authorities at times closed schools, canceled outdoor events and blockaded roads to pursue him. Residents grew weary of hearing helicopters whirring overhead, while small businesses suffered mounting losses and town supervisors canceled a popular Halloween parade.

“It feels good to know there’s a guy like this off the streets,” said Gregory Kubasek, 19, of Marshalls Creek, who drove to the barracks late Thursday to get a glimpse of the alleged cop-killer.

“We’re relieved. We’re very relieved. We want things to get back to normal.”

- Helen Blackmore, of Cresco, Pa.

Noonan said Frein was in good health, despite what he described as a “scratch” on his nose that he said was already there when marshals arrested him.

“He looked fairly healthy, healthier than I would’ve expected,” Noonan said.

Police said they linked Frein to the ambush after a man walking his dog found his partly submerged SUV three days later in a swamp a few miles away from the shooting scene. Investigators found shell casing matching those found at the barracks, as well as Frein’s driver’s license, camouflage face paint, two empty rifle cases and military gear.

Frein belonged to a military re-enactor’s group, playing the part of a Serbian solder. He had a small role in a 2007 movie about a concentration camp survivor and helped with props and historical references on a documentary about World War I.

The FBI named him to its 10 most wanted list.

Earlier this month, Pennsylvania State Police revealed information from a journal found in the woods in which Frein allegedly described shooting the state troopers. They also detailed campsites where Frein was believed to have hidden, cooking over small fires even as heavily armed police hunted him. Police found pipe bomb booby traps and a gun resting against a tree, but had only had a handful of unconfirmed sightings of Frein. Searchers had also come across items they believe Frein hid or abandoned in the woods in northern Monroe County: an AK-47-style assault rifle and ammunition, two pipe bombs, empty packs of Drina-brand Serbian cigarettes and soiled adult diapers.

“Got a shot around 11 p.m. and took it,” Frein wrote on papers found by police. “He [Dickson] dropped. I was surprised at how quick.”

A woman believed to be Frein’s mother declined to comment when reached early Friday by FoxNews.com.

Halloween festivities in Barrett Township had been canceled due to the intense manhunt, but officials said they’re back on following Frein’s arrest.

“We, as a town, think the kids have gone through enough,” said Ralph Megliola, chairman of the township board of supervisors.

Helen Blackmore, of nearby Cresco, said she was ready for a return to normalcy.

“It was very crazy out here,” she said. “The helicopters were out all the time. Nobody was sleeping. Even today they were out. We’re relieved. We’re very relieved. We want things to get back to normal.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/10/31/eric-frein-suspect-in-pennsylvania-trooper-ambush-taken-into-custody/

PLAYING RACE CARD? Sen. Landrieu takes heat for dig on Southern voters

Democratic Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu is taking heat after she implied she is struggling in her re-election campaign because she is a woman, and President Obama is unpopular in her state because he is black. 

Landrieu, who is engaged in a tight race to keep her Senate seat, made the comments in an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd.

“To be very, very honest with you, the South has not always been the friendliest place for African-Americans,” she said. “It’s been a difficult time for the president to present himself in a very positive light as a leader. It’s not always been a good place for women to present ourselves. It’s more of a conservative place, so we’ve had to work a little bit harder on that.”

Landrieu’s comments were immediately slammed by her main opponent, Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy.  Cassidy told Fox News’ Megyn Kelly the people of Louisiana have suffered under Obama’s policies, and instead of insulting them Landrieu needs to focus on policy.

“I gotta tell ya, when people in Louisiana look at ObamaCare and his regulatory regime and him going after their job, that’s the reason they oppose him, that’s the reason they oppose her,” he said. “She supports him 97 percent of the time. We’re not racist, we just all have common sense.”

A request for comment from the Landrieu campaign was not immediately returned.

The chairman of the Louisiana Republican Party called on Landrieu to apologize for the remarks.  

“That Mary Landrieu would ascribe ugly racial motivations to voters’ displeasure with the policies advanced by President Obama and her shows both how out of touch and how desperate she is. Senator Landrieu’s comments are insulting to me and to every other Louisianian,” Roger Villere said in a statement.

Landrieu’s comments came as a new poll showed Cassidy and Landrieu in a virtual tie, indicating the race will likely go to a runoff.  Under Louisiana’s system, if no candidate reaches over 50 percent of the votes the top two vote-getters head to a December runoff.

The Suffolk University/USA Today poll showed Landrieu only a single point ahead of Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy, 36-35 percent. Tea Party-aligned candidate Rob Maness was trailing with 11 percent.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/10/30/dem-sen-landrieu-south-not-always-friendliest-place-for-african-americans/

PLAYING RACE CARD? Sen. Landrieu takes heat for dig on Southern voters

Democratic Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu is taking heat after she implied she is struggling in her re-election campaign because she is a woman, and President Obama is unpopular in her state because he is black. 

Landrieu, who is engaged in a tight race to keep her Senate seat, made the comments in an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd.

“To be very, very honest with you, the South has not always been the friendliest place for African-Americans,” she said. “It’s been a difficult time for the president to present himself in a very positive light as a leader. It’s not always been a good place for women to present ourselves. It’s more of a conservative place, so we’ve had to work a little bit harder on that.”

Landrieu’s comments were immediately slammed by her main opponent, Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy.  Cassidy told Fox News’ Megyn Kelly the people of Louisiana have suffered under Obama’s policies, and instead of insulting them Landrieu needs to focus on policy.

“I gotta tell ya, when people in Louisiana look at ObamaCare and his regulatory regime and him going after their job, that’s the reason they oppose him, that’s the reason they oppose her,” he said. “She supports him 97 percent of the time. We’re not racist, we just all have common sense.”

A request for comment from the Landrieu campaign was not immediately returned.

The chairman of the Louisiana Republican Party called on Landrieu to apologize for the remarks.  

“That Mary Landrieu would ascribe ugly racial motivations to voters’ displeasure with the policies advanced by President Obama and her shows both how out of touch and how desperate she is. Senator Landrieu’s comments are insulting to me and to every other Louisianian,” Roger Villere said in a statement.

Landrieu’s comments came as a new poll showed Cassidy and Landrieu in a virtual tie, indicating the race will likely go to a runoff.  Under Louisiana’s system, if no candidate reaches over 50 percent of the votes the top two vote-getters head to a December runoff.

The Suffolk University/USA Today poll showed Landrieu only a single point ahead of Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy, 36-35 percent. Tea Party-aligned candidate Rob Maness was trailing with 11 percent.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/10/30/dem-sen-landrieu-south-not-always-friendliest-place-for-african-americans/

CONTROVERSIAL LESSON Ex-Marine banned from school over Islam teaching

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A Marine dad said he was banned from his daughter’s Maryland high school after he called the school and asked that she be temporarily removed from a course studying the virtues of the Muslim faith. (MyFoxDC.com)

A former Marine who served in Iraq says he’s been banned from his daughter’s Maryland high school after a heated argument over a lesson on Islam.

Kevin Wood told MyFoxDC.com that he went to La Plata High School in La Plata, a town about 30 miles southeast of Washington, and challenged a history assignment requiring students to list the benefits of Islam. He said the meeting with the vice principal got heated; the school said he made a threat and banned the Iraq veteran from school property.

“[Wood] was threatening to cause a disruption or possible disruption at the school,” a district spokesperson said.

Wood did not deny getting worked up over the issue, but said he was standing up for the Constitution and is against any religion being taught at the public school.

“I have witnesses that have said I did not threaten anybody,” he told the station. “I don’t force my religious views on them, so don’t force your religious views on me.”

The school is allowing his eleventh-grade daughter to spend the class time in the school’s library, but defended its assignment and said it is teaching world history, not religion.

Wood’s wife, Melissa, wondered how teaching about one religion is considered a history lesson while teaching about Christianity would be viewed diffrerently.

“We cannot discuss our Ten Commandments in school but they can discuss Islam’s Five Pillars?”

The three-page assignment asked questions including, “How did Muslim conquerors treat those they conquered?”

A homework assignment obtained by MyFoxDC.com showed the correct answer was, “With tolerance, kindness and respect.”

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/10/31/marine-dad-upset-with-assignment-on-islam-banned-from-daughters-high-school/

CONTROVERSIAL LESSON Ex-Marine banned from school over Islam teaching

plata2.jpg

A Marine dad said he was banned from his daughter’s Maryland high school after he called the school and asked that she be temporarily removed from a course studying the virtues of the Muslim faith. (MyFoxDC.com)

A former Marine who served in Iraq says he’s been banned from his daughter’s Maryland high school after a heated argument over a lesson on Islam.

Kevin Wood told MyFoxDC.com that he went to La Plata High School in La Plata, a town about 30 miles southeast of Washington, and challenged a history assignment requiring students to list the benefits of Islam. He said the meeting with the vice principal got heated; the school said he made a threat and banned the Iraq veteran from school property.

“[Wood] was threatening to cause a disruption or possible disruption at the school,” a district spokesperson said.

Wood did not deny getting worked up over the issue, but said he was standing up for the Constitution and is against any religion being taught at the public school.

“I have witnesses that have said I did not threaten anybody,” he told the station. “I don’t force my religious views on them, so don’t force your religious views on me.”

The school is allowing his eleventh-grade daughter to spend the class time in the school’s library, but defended its assignment and said it is teaching world history, not religion.

Wood’s wife, Melissa, wondered how teaching about one religion is considered a history lesson while teaching about Christianity would be viewed diffrerently.

“We cannot discuss our Ten Commandments in school but they can discuss Islam’s Five Pillars?”

The three-page assignment asked questions including, “How did Muslim conquerors treat those they conquered?”

A homework assignment obtained by MyFoxDC.com showed the correct answer was, “With tolerance, kindness and respect.”

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/10/31/marine-dad-upset-with-assignment-on-islam-banned-from-daughters-high-school/

POWERFUL WORDS Beyonce song inspires Iraqi youth peace

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“I wanna leave my footprints on the sands of time; know there was something there, and something that I left behind,” Beyonce sang before the United Nations General Assembly in New York to promote World Humanitarian Day in 2012, offering a rendition of her song “I Was Here.” “When I leave this world, I’ll leave no regrets; leave something to remember so they won’t forget. I was here.”

But little did pop star know the impact her words would have on the youth of Baghdad two years later.

“Those words were so powerful, so life-changing,” Mohammad Huzaifa Muluki, a 23-year-old student in Baghdad told FOX411. “I know it is difficult to do, but we want to change the world and that song made us realize we can. We can leave in a world with peace, without war, without terror.”

A lot of small steps, he said, can lead to big changes.

The idea was initially sparked by a young student, Muna Abdel Halim, who coordinated with Muluki and just three other friends from university to quickly launch a humanitarian campaign of the same name – “I Was Here.” Today it boasts an ever-growing list of more than 150 young volunteers, all with a mission to provide services that will help those in need.

“Every day we see and hear images and stories of pain and suffering in our own neighborhoods and in countries far away. But we also find acts of kindness, great and small,” he continued. “One day, one message, one goal to inspire people in Iraq to do something good no matter how big or small – for someone else.”

The UN declared August 19 World Humanitarian Day after the 2003 bombing of the UN building in the Iraqi capital, in which 22 people were killed including the organization’s representative, Sergio de Mello. The occasion was created to inspire people to lend a hand to those in need – a notion which the students behind “We Were Here” take very seriously.

The campaign operates three main groups – one is devoted to humanitarian operations, another uses its time to service-type tasks and the third focuses on technical work. The campaign is devoted to rehabilitating archeological sites and spotlighting arts, culture and the history of the ancient land. For one, they cleaned up and reopened the Mustansiriya Madrasah, a famous historical school in Baghdad which was founded in 1233. They also routinely collect food and clothing and give them to those who go without.

For Muluki however, the most rewarding time spent is with children. He and his fellow volunteers cooperated with a local school to provide a wheelchair for a student with special needs who had dropped out due to the challenges associated with his disability, and they spend time assisting sick and injured children in local hospitals.

“We also have our own ‘Make-A-Wish’ program. When I see a child with something like cancer, my heart just breaks,” he said. “We talk to them and just try to grant whatever their last wish might be.”

“I Was Here” does not accept financial contributions and instead urges Iraqi youth to give their time to promote a message of positive message of peace and acceptance. But given the hardships that have plagued the war-torn country for years, Muluki said each venture out comes with risks. One member even lost a leg when he was injured by a car bomb.

And while Muluki and his friends didn’t even know who Beyonce was prior to her 2012 UN performance, the volunteer’s young children now dance around singing “We Were Here.”

“We’re planting the idea of goodness in the hearts of people on the principle that Beyonce sings – ‘do something good somewhere for someone. We’re educating people in Iraq on their human rights,” Muluki added. “Like you, we want friendships. We want to live in peace. But now most of the time it’s so dangerous outside, we have to just stay at home.”

Follow @holliesmckay on Twitter.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2014/10/30/was-here-beyonce-song-inspired-iraqi-youth-peace-movement/

Prosecutor to seek death penalty for Eric Frein in trooper’s killing

Last Updated Oct 30, 2014 11:51 PM EDT

LORDS VALLEY, Pa. — Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty for Eric Frein, the man who evaded capture for more than six weeks after allegedly killing a Pennsylvania state trooper and wounding another.

Frein was arrested Thursday evening by U.S. marshals in an abandoned airplane hangar Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. A law enforcement source told CBS News that Frein was carrying a handgun and a sniper rifle at the time, and gave up without a fight.

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Eric Frein, 31, is seen in the back of a patrol car after his arrest in Pennsylvania for the shooting death of a state trooper and other charges.

Frein, 31, is charged with opening fire outside the Blooming Grove state police barracks on Sept. 12, killing Trooper Bryon Dickson and seriously wounding Trooper Alex Douglass. Frein faces first-degree murder and various other offenses, including two counts of possession of weapons of mass destruction.

The handcuffs used to restrain Frein during his arrest belonged to the trooper he allegedly killed, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett said at a press conference Thursday night. Frein is being held at the barracks where the ambush took place nearly seven weeks ago.

Pike County District Attorney Raymond Tonkin said he will seek the death penalty against Frain, who gave himself up when surrounded by marshals.

“He did not just give up because he was tired,” state police Commissioner Frank Noonan said. “He gave up because he was caught.”

State police said they believe Frein, a self-taught survivalist, has a longstanding hatred of law enforcement and wanted to target police, not the general public. The ambush attack landed Frein on the FBI’s most wanted list, and police were authorized to use deadly force.

Multiple sightings of Frein were reported over the course of the 48-day manhunt in the Poconos. He was always spotted from a distance, with the rugged terrain allowing him to keep officers at bay. Police said he appeared to be treating the manhunt as a game.

Saying Frein was armed and extremely dangerous, officials had closed schools and urged residents to be alert and cautious as officers used dogs, thermal imaging technology and other tools in their search. At times police ordered nearby residents to stay inside or prevented them from returning home.

They pursued countless tips, and closed in on an area around Frein’s parents’ home in Canadensis after he used his cellphone to try contacting them, and the signal was traced to a location about three miles away.

Trackers found items they believe Frein hid or abandoned in the woods — including soiled diapers, empty packs of Serbian cigarettes, an AK-47-style assault rifle and ammunition, and two pipe bombs that were functional and capable of causing significant damage. They also discovered a journal, allegedly kept by Frein and found in a bag of trash at a hastily abandoned campsite, that offered a chilling account of the ambush and his subsequent escape into the woods. The journal’s author described Dickson as falling “still and quiet” after being shot twice.

Frein allegedly held anti-law enforcement views for many years and expressed them both online and to people who knew him. But the source of his alleged vendetta remains unclear. His criminal record appears limited to a decade-old misdemeanor case involving items stolen from a World War II re-enactors event in upstate New York, for which he spent 109 days in jail.

Police found a U.S. Army manual called “Sniper Training and Employment” in Frein’s bedroom at his parents’ house, and his father, a retired Army major, told authorities that his son is an excellent marksman who “doesn’t miss,” according to a police affidavit. Authorities believe he had been planning a confrontation with police for years, citing information they found on a computer used by Frein.

Frein belonged to a military re-enactor’s group, playing the part of a Serbian solder. He had a small role in a 2007 movie about a concentration camp survivor and helped with props and historical references on a documentary about World War I.

At his funeral, Dickson was called a devoted husband and father and “impeccable” ex-Marine who took his work seriously but also enjoyed making wooden toys for his young sons and finding humor in everyday situations. Trooper Alex Douglass was shot in the pelvis and critically injured in the ambush, which took place during a late-night shift change.

Douglass remained hospitalized until Oct. 16, when he was discharged to a rehabilitation facility.

Source Article from http://feeds.cbsnews.com/~r/CBSNewsMain/~3/2N5kEhfw48c/

New Colo. election system prompts concerns about voter fraud

Colorado’s new election system is being panned by critics as a “ridiculous experiment” that could lead to more voter fraud — in a year of very tight races with nothing less than control of the Senate on the line. 

This election year, every eligible Colorado voter is getting their ballot in the mail. It’s a system used by only two other states — Oregon and Washington. 

“We are only the third state in the United States trying this ridiculous experiment,” said Marilyn Marks, an anti-voter fraud advocate with the Rocky Mountain Foundation. What’s more, she warns, “We have added to it a toxic mix by adding same-day registration.”

One of the most worrisome aspects of the new system, for some, is that once ballots are filled in, they are not required to be mailed back. The ballots can be taken to drop-off locations to avoid paying postage. And the law allows for what is known as “ballot harvesting.” One individual can collect the ballots of up to 10 people to drop off.

“I’m as worried about undo influence as I am about straight up fraud,” Marks said. “There are ballot harvesting groups going door-to-door, asking people to hand over their ballots. You can imagine some more vulnerable members of the community, particularly the elderly, who may feel under pressure.”

“Colorado has no effective way of determining whether an individual has collected more than 10 ballots,” cautioned El Paso County Clerk Wayne Williams, who also is a candidate for secretary of state. Williams complained that the state has no requirement that “your vote will count if you give it to a ballot harvester who then never turns that ballot in.” 

Adding to the potential confusion, every registered voter will get a ballot. “The new law requires ballots to be sent to people who may not have voted in decades,” Williams said. “In El Paso County, we’ve had voters report to us that they’ve received ballots from a voter registration drive for a person who has never lived at that address.”

Election officials offer reassurances that all ballot signatures will be verified against voter registration records. Yet Colorado’s new same-day voter registration law does not require a photo ID.

“You have to provide a driver’s license number, specific to Colorado, a state ID number or your last four of your social,” Denver Elections Director Amber McReynolds said.

“If the signature that was provided [for registration] was not accurate to begin with,” Williams points out, “there is still a very real possibility of a fake registration resulting in a vote that counts and negates the vote of someone who was legitimately entitled to vote.”

Those who still want to vote the old-fashioned way can do so, by bringing their unused mail-in ballots to a polling place and handing them in before voting.

While a small amount of voter fraud might not make a difference in the outcome of most races, the Real Clear Politics polling average has the governors’ race in Colorado, between incumbent Democrat John Hickenlooper and GOP challenger Bob Beauprez, tied at 45 percent each. 

In the U.S. Senate race, the RCP average has GOP challenger Cory Gardner up by only 3.6 percentage points over Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, who is fighting to win a second term. 

The new election laws were passed by a Democratically controlled state legislature. So far, though, voter turnout numbers provided by the Colorado secretary of state’s office show that Republicans are turning in ballots in much larger numbers than either Democrats or those registered as unaffiliated.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/10/31/colorado-new-controversial-ballot-system/

DEATH PENALTY EYED Prosecutors seek ultimate price for alleged cop killer

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    This split image shows an undated image of Eric Frein, charged with killing one Pennsylvania State Trooper and seriously wounding another in a late night ambush, left, and his updated mugshot on the FBI website after his capture, right. (AP/FBI)

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    This undated file photo provided by the Pennsylvania State Police shows Eric Frein, who has eluded police, but is charged with killing one Pennsylvania State Trooper and seriously wounding another in a late night ambush. (AP/Pennsylvania State Police)

Eric Frein, the suspect in the deadly ambush of a Pennsylvania state trooper, was taken into custody after a seven-week manhunt, the Pennsylvania State Police announced Thursday night.

Prosecutors will seek the death penalty for Frein, as he is facing multiple capital offenses:  first-degree murder, murder of a law enforcement official and first-degree attempted murder. Frein is also facing various other charges including two counts of possession of weapons of mass destruction after police found pipe bombs during their search.

U.S. Marshals arrested Frein in an airport hangar near Buck Hill, the same general area where they had been searching for him. They called him out and he surrendered without an incident. Frein was taken in good physical condition, officials said in a press conference late Thursday night.

Police saw an individual they thought was Frein and they ordered him to surrender.

“He did not just give up because he was tired,” state police Commissioner Frank Noonan said. “He gave up because he was caught.”

Frein was held in the handcuffs of Trooper Bryon Dickson, the officer he allegedly killed

He was on the run for more than two months, eluding police consistently in wooded areas, which he was very familiar with. He also had plenty of places to hide in the wood as well, Noonan said.

Frein, 31, allegedly opened fire outside the Blooming Grove state police barracks on Sept. 12, killing Dickson, 38, and seriously wounding Trooper Alex Douglass, 31.

Frein belonged to a military re-enactor’s group, playing the part of a Serbian solder. He had a small role in a 2007 movie about a concentration camp survivor and helped with props and historical references on a documentary about World War I.

The FBI named him to its 10 most wanted list.

Earlier this month, Pennsylvania State Police revealed information from a journal found in the woods in which Frein allegedly described shooting the state troopers. They also detailed campsites where Frein was believed to have hidden, cooking over small fires even as heavily armed police hunted him. Police found pipe bomb booby traps and a gun resting against a tree, but had only had a handful of unconfirmed sightings of Frein.

“Got a shot around 11 p.m. and took it,” Frein wrote on papers found by police. “He [Dickson] dropped. I was surprised at how quick.”

Fox News’ Rick Leventhal and The Associated Press contributed to this report

 

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/10/31/eric-frein-suspect-in-pennsylvania-trooper-ambush-taken-into-custody/

Death penalty eyed for trooper ambush suspect in wake of arrest

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    This split image shows an undated image of Eric Frein, charged with killing one Pennsylvania State Trooper and seriously wounding another in a late night ambush, left, and his updated mugshot on the FBI website after his capture, right. (AP/FBI)

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    This undated file photo provided by the Pennsylvania State Police shows Eric Frein, who has eluded police, but is charged with killing one Pennsylvania State Trooper and seriously wounding another in a late night ambush. (AP/Pennsylvania State Police)

Eric Frein, the suspect in the deadly ambush of a Pennsylvania state trooper, was taken into custody after a seven-week manhunt, the Pennsylvania State Police announced Thursday night.

Prosecutors will seek the death penalty for Frein, as he is facing multiple capital offenses:  first-degree murder, murder of a law enforcement official and first-degree attempted murder. Frein is also facing various other charges including two counts of possession of weapons of mass destruction after police found pipe bombs during their search.

U.S. Marshals arrested Frein in an airport hangar near Buck Hill, the same general area where they had been searching for him. They called him out and he surrendered without an incident. Frein was taken in good physical condition, officials said in a press conference late Thursday night.

Police saw an individual they thought was Frein and they ordered him to surrender.

“He did not just give up because he was tired,” state police Commissioner Frank Noonan said. “He gave up because he was caught.”

Frein was held in the handcuffs of Trooper Bryon Dickson, the officer he allegedly killed

He was on the run for more than two months, eluding police consistently in wooded areas, which he was very familiar with. He also had plenty of places to hide in the wood as well, Noonan said.

Frein, 31, allegedly opened fire outside the Blooming Grove state police barracks on Sept. 12, killing Dickson, 38, and seriously wounding Trooper Alex Douglass, 31.

Frein belonged to a military re-enactor’s group, playing the part of a Serbian solder. He had a small role in a 2007 movie about a concentration camp survivor and helped with props and historical references on a documentary about World War I.

The FBI named him to its 10 most wanted list.

Earlier this month, Pennsylvania State Police revealed information from a journal found in the woods in which Frein allegedly described shooting the state troopers. They also detailed campsites where Frein was believed to have hidden, cooking over small fires even as heavily armed police hunted him. Police found pipe bomb booby traps and a gun resting against a tree, but had only had a handful of unconfirmed sightings of Frein.

“Got a shot around 11 p.m. and took it,” Frein wrote on papers found by police. “He [Dickson] dropped. I was surprised at how quick.”

Fox News’ Rick Leventhal and The Associated Press contributed to this report

 

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/10/31/eric-frein-suspect-in-pennsylvania-trooper-ambush-taken-into-custody/

‘A TOXIC MIX’ Colo. election law prompts voter fraud concerns

Colorado’s new election system is being panned by critics as a “ridiculous experiment” that could lead to more voter fraud — in a year of very tight races with nothing less than control of the Senate on the line. 

This election year, every eligible Colorado voter is getting their ballot in the mail. It’s a system used by only two other states — Oregon and Washington. 

“We are only the third state in the United States trying this ridiculous experiment,” said Marilyn Marks, an anti-voter fraud advocate with the Rocky Mountain Foundation. What’s more, she warns, “We have added to it a toxic mix by adding same-day registration.”

One of the most worrisome aspects of the new system, for some, is that once ballots are filled in, they are not required to be mailed back. The ballots can be taken to drop-off locations to avoid paying postage. And the law allows for what is known as “ballot harvesting.” One individual can collect the ballots of up to 10 people to drop off.

“I’m as worried about undo influence as I am about straight up fraud,” Marks said. “There are ballot harvesting groups going door-to-door, asking people to hand over their ballots. You can imagine some more vulnerable members of the community, particularly the elderly, who may feel under pressure.”

“Colorado has no effective way of determining whether an individual has collected more than 10 ballots,” cautioned El Paso County Clerk Wayne Williams, who also is a candidate for secretary of state. Williams complained that the state has no requirement that “your vote will count if you give it to a ballot harvester who then never turns that ballot in.” 

Adding to the potential confusion, every registered voter will get a ballot. “The new law requires ballots to be sent to people who may not have voted in decades,” Williams said. “In El Paso County, we’ve had voters report to us that they’ve received ballots from a voter registration drive for a person who has never lived at that address.”

Election officials offer reassurances that all ballot signatures will be verified against voter registration records. Yet Colorado’s new same-day voter registration law does not require a photo ID.

“You have to provide a driver’s license number, specific to Colorado, a state ID number or your last four of your social,” Denver Elections Director Amber McReynolds said.

“If the signature that was provided [for registration] was not accurate to begin with,” Williams points out, “there is still a very real possibility of a fake registration resulting in a vote that counts and negates the vote of someone who was legitimately entitled to vote.”

Those who still want to vote the old-fashioned way can do so, by bringing their unused mail-in ballots to a polling place and handing them in before voting.

While a small amount of voter fraud might not make a difference in the outcome of most races, the Real Clear Politics polling average has the governors’ race in Colorado, between incumbent Democrat John Hickenlooper and GOP challenger Bob Beauprez, tied at 45 percent each. 

In the U.S. Senate race, the RCP average has GOP challenger Cory Gardner up by only 3.6 percentage points over Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, who is fighting to win a second term. 

The new election laws were passed by a Democratically controlled state legislature. So far, though, voter turnout numbers provided by the Colorado secretary of state’s office show that Republicans are turning in ballots in much larger numbers than either Democrats or those registered as unaffiliated.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/10/30/colorado-new-controversial-ballot-system/

Prosecutor to seek death penalty for Eric Frein in trooper’s killing

Last Updated Oct 30, 2014 11:51 PM EDT

LORDS VALLEY, Pa. — Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty for Eric Frein, the man who evaded capture for more than six weeks after allegedly killing a Pennsylvania state trooper and wounding another.

Frein was arrested Thursday evening by U.S. marshals in an abandoned airplane hangar Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. A law enforcement source told CBS News that Frein was carrying a handgun and a sniper rifle at the time, and gave up without a fight.

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Eric Frein, 31, is seen in the back of a patrol car after his arrest in Pennsylvania for the shooting death of a state trooper and other charges.

Frein, 31, is charged with opening fire outside the Blooming Grove state police barracks on Sept. 12, killing Trooper Bryon Dickson and seriously wounding Trooper Alex Douglass. Frein faces first-degree murder and various other offenses, including two counts of possession of weapons of mass destruction.

The handcuffs used to restrain Frein during his arrest belonged to the trooper he allegedly killed, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett said late Thursday. Frein is being held at the barracks where the ambush took place.

Raymond Tonkin, Pike County District Attorney, said he will seek the death penalty against Frain, who gave himself up when surrounded by marshals.

“He did not just give up because he was tired,” state police Commissioner Frank Noonan said. “He gave up because he was caught.”

State police said they believe Frein, a self-taught survivalist, has a longstanding hatred of law enforcement and wanted to target police, not the general public. The ambush attack landed Frein on the FBI’s most wanted list, and police were authorized to use deadly force.

Multiple sightings of Frein were reported over the course of the 48-day manhunt in the Poconos. He was always spotted from a distance, with the rugged terrain allowing him to keep officers at bay. Police said he appeared to be treating the manhunt as a game.

Saying Frein was armed and extremely dangerous, officials had closed schools and urged residents to be alert and cautious as officers used dogs, thermal imaging technology and other tools in their search. At times police ordered nearby residents to stay inside or prevented them from returning home.

They pursued countless tips, and closed in on an area around Frein’s parents’ home in Canadensis after he used his cellphone to try contacting them, and the signal was traced to a location about three miles away.

Trackers found items they believe Frein hid or abandoned in the woods — including soiled diapers, empty packs of Serbian cigarettes, an AK-47-style assault rifle and ammunition, and two pipe bombs that were functional and capable of causing significant damage. They also discovered a journal, allegedly kept by Frein and found in a bag of trash at a hastily abandoned campsite, that offered a chilling account of the ambush and his subsequent escape into the woods. The journal’s author described Dickson as falling “still and quiet” after being shot twice.

Frein allegedly held anti-law enforcement views for many years and expressed them both online and to people who knew him. But the source of his alleged vendetta remains unclear. His criminal record appears limited to a decade-old misdemeanor case involving items stolen from a World War II re-enactors event in upstate New York, for which he spent 109 days in jail.

Police found a U.S. Army manual called “Sniper Training and Employment” in Frein’s bedroom at his parents’ house, and his father, a retired Army major, told authorities that his son is an excellent marksman who “doesn’t miss,” according to a police affidavit. Authorities believe he had been planning a confrontation with police for years, citing information they found on a computer used by Frein.

Frein belonged to a military re-enactor’s group, playing the part of a Serbian solder. He had a small role in a 2007 movie about a concentration camp survivor and helped with props and historical references on a documentary about World War I.

At his funeral, Dickson was called a devoted husband and father and “impeccable” ex-Marine who took his work seriously but also enjoyed making wooden toys for his young sons and finding humor in everyday situations. Trooper Alex Douglass was shot in the pelvis and critically injured in the ambush, which took place during a late-night shift change.

Douglass remained hospitalized until Oct. 16, when he was discharged to a rehabilitation facility.

Source Article from http://feeds.cbsnews.com/~r/CBSNewsMain/~3/2N5kEhfw48c/

Plane crashes at Kansas airport, killing at least 4

Last Updated Oct 30, 2014 10:29 PM EDT

WICHITA, Kan. – A small plane lost power after takeoff and crashed into a flight-training building while trying to return to a Kansas airport Thursday, killing at least four people, injuring at least five others and igniting a fire that sent up towering plumes of black smoke that could be seen for miles around Wichita, officials and witnesses said.

Only the pilot was on the plane. CBS Wichita affiliate KWCH-TV reports that about 100 people were in the building at the time of the crash at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport but most were safely evacuated. Four people remained unaccounted for hours after the crash, but were later located.

The pilot, one of the four fatalities, has been identified at 53-year-old Mark Goldstein, KWCH reported.

Two sweeps of the building found no more victims, though officials cautioned that a small portion containing a simulator room had not been checked because of structural dangers from the crash. Special equipment was being brought to the site that would allow access to the remaining space.

Wichita Fire Marshal Brad Crisp assured onlookers the search would resume as soon as the building was stable.

“We understand that this is a very difficult time, especially for folks who have family members who are working out here and they don’t know,” Crisp said.

The crash was “not an intentional act,” Wichita Police Deputy Chief John Speer said. “We are comfortable in saying this is an aviation accident.”

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One person was in serious condition at Via Christi Hospital St. Francis, another was in fair condition and three more who were treated and released, hospital spokeswoman Maria Loving told CBS News.

The plane, identified as a twin-engine Beechcraft King Air, crashed into a building that FlightSafety International uses to train pilots to fly Cessna planes, company spokesman Steve Phillips said.

CBS News transportation safety analyst Mark Rosenker told CBS Radio News that the building is next to an FAA flight standards district office.

It appeared to strike the top of the building and ignite what Wichita Fire Chief Ronald D. Blackwell described as a “horrific” fire.

Jeff Papacek, 39, of Wichita, said he saw a “giant fireball” as he was heading to his engineering job at Learjet, which has a testing facility at the airport. He said he didn’t see the crash because there were too many buildings in the way, but he said the plane caught his attention beforehand.

“We are used to planes flying straight with the runway and this plane just didn’t look like it was lined up and was way too low for the direction it was going,” Papacek said, adding that he drove to the crash site to see what was happening and saw the building fire raging.

The crash did not appear to be significantly disrupting passenger traffic at the airport as planes could be seen taking off from other runways.

Located several miles west of downtown Wichita, a longtime aircraft manufacturing hub, Wichita Mid-Continent is used by private aircraft and served by several airlines and their regional affiliates, including American, Southwest, Delta, United and Allegiant. It saw more than 13,000 departures and about 1.4 million passengers last year, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The crash is the latest in a string of incidents at the airport. In December, an avionics technician was arrested after a months-long undercover sting when he allegedly tried to drive a van filled with inert explosives onto the tarmac in a plot prosecutors say was intended to kill as many people as possible. Then in January, an Oklahoma man rammed his pickup truck through a security gate at the airport. In September, the airport conducted a large-scale disaster exercise featuring the mock crash of a 737 aircraft.

FBI spokeswoman Bridget Patton said it is “too early to rule anything out” about the cause of Thursday’s crash and confirmed the FBI is assisting in the investigation, but stressed the agency’s protocol is to respond to “any and all plane crashes at airports.”

Source Article from http://feeds.cbsnews.com/~r/CBSNewsMain/~3/UXB_1DIgU1M/

‘A TOXIC MIX’ Colo. election law prompts voter fraud concerns

Colorado’s new election system is being panned by critics as a “ridiculous experiment” that could lead to more voter fraud — in a year of very tight races with nothing less than control of the Senate on the line. 

This election year, every eligible Colorado voter is getting their ballot in the mail. It’s a system used by only two other states — Oregon and Washington. 

“We are only the third state in the United States trying this ridiculous experiment,” said Marilyn Marks, an anti-voter fraud advocate with the Rocky Mountain Foundation. What’s more, she warns, “We have added to it a toxic mix by adding same-day registration.”

One of the most worrisome aspects of the new system, for some, is that once ballots are filled in, they are not required to be mailed back. The ballots can be taken to drop-off locations to avoid paying postage. And the law allows for what is known as “ballot harvesting.” One individual can collect the ballots of up to 10 people to drop off.

“I’m as worried about undo influence as I am about straight up fraud,” Marks said. “There are ballot harvesting groups going door-to-door, asking people to hand over their ballots. You can imagine some more vulnerable members of the community, particularly the elderly, who may feel under pressure.”

“Colorado has no effective way of determining whether an individual has collected more than 10 ballots,” cautioned El Paso County Clerk Wayne Williams, who also is a candidate for secretary of state. Williams complained that the state has no requirement that “your vote will count if you give it to a ballot harvester who then never turns that ballot in.” 

Adding to the potential confusion, every registered voter will get a ballot. “The new law requires ballots to be sent to people who may not have voted in decades,” Williams said. “In El Paso County, we’ve had voters report to us that they’ve received ballots from a voter registration drive for a person who has never lived at that address.”

Election officials offer reassurances that all ballot signatures will be verified against voter registration records. Yet Colorado’s new same-day voter registration law does not require a photo ID.

“You have to provide a driver’s license number, specific to Colorado, a state ID number or your last four of your social,” Denver Elections Director Amber McReynolds said.

“If the signature that was provided [for registration] was not accurate to begin with,” Williams points out, “there is still a very real possibility of a fake registration resulting in a vote that counts and negates the vote of someone who was legitimately entitled to vote.”

Those who still want to vote the old-fashioned way can do so, by bringing their unused mail-in ballots to a polling place and handing them in before voting.

While a small amount of voter fraud might not make a difference in the outcome of most races, the Real Clear Politics polling average has the governors’ race in Colorado, between incumbent Democrat John Hickenlooper and GOP challenger Bob Beauprez, tied at 45 percent each. 

In the U.S. Senate race, the RCP average has GOP challenger Cory Gardner up by only 3.6 percentage points over Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, who is fighting to win a second term. 

The new election laws were passed by a Democratically controlled state legislature. So far, though, voter turnout numbers provided by the Colorado secretary of state’s office show that Republicans are turning in ballots in much larger numbers than either Democrats or those registered as unaffiliated.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/10/30/colorado-new-controversial-ballot-system/

‘A TOXIC MIX’ Colo. election law prompts voter fraud concerns

Colorado’s new election system is being panned by critics as a “ridiculous experiment” that could lead to more voter fraud — in a year of very tight races with nothing less than control of the Senate on the line. 

This election year, every eligible Colorado voter is getting their ballot in the mail. It’s a system used by only two other states — Oregon and Washington. 

“We are only the third state in the United States trying this ridiculous experiment,” said Marilyn Marks, an anti-voter fraud advocate with the Rocky Mountain Foundation. What’s more, she warns, “We have added to it a toxic mix by adding same-day registration.”

One of the most worrisome aspects of the new system, for some, is that once ballots are filled in, they are not required to be mailed back. The ballots can be taken to drop-off locations to avoid paying postage. And the law allows for what is known as “ballot harvesting.” One individual can collect the ballots of up to 10 people to drop off.

“I’m as worried about undo influence as I am about straight up fraud,” Marks said. “There are ballot harvesting groups going door-to-door, asking people to hand over their ballots. You can imagine some more vulnerable members of the community, particularly the elderly, who may feel under pressure.”

“Colorado has no effective way of determining whether an individual has collected more than 10 ballots,” cautioned El Paso County Clerk Wayne Williams, who also is a candidate for secretary of state. Williams complained that the state has no requirement that “your vote will count if you give it to a ballot harvester who then never turns that ballot in.” 

Adding to the potential confusion, every registered voter will get a ballot. “The new law requires ballots to be sent to people who may not have voted in decades,” Williams said. “In El Paso County, we’ve had voters report to us that they’ve received ballots from a voter registration drive for a person who has never lived at that address.”

Election officials offer reassurances that all ballot signatures will be verified against voter registration records. Yet Colorado’s new same-day voter registration law does not require a photo ID.

“You have to provide a driver’s license number, specific to Colorado, a state ID number or your last four of your social,” Denver Elections Director Amber McReynolds said.

“If the signature that was provided [for registration] was not accurate to begin with,” Williams points out, “there is still a very real possibility of a fake registration resulting in a vote that counts and negates the vote of someone who was legitimately entitled to vote.”

Those who still want to vote the old-fashioned way can do so, by bringing their unused mail-in ballots to a polling place and handing them in before voting.

While a small amount of voter fraud might not make a difference in the outcome of most races, the Real Clear Politics polling average has the governors’ race in Colorado, between incumbent Democrat John Hickenlooper and GOP challenger Bob Beauprez, tied at 45 percent each. 

In the U.S. Senate race, the RCP average has GOP challenger Cory Gardner up by only 3.6 percentage points over Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, who is fighting to win a second term. 

The new election laws were passed by a Democratically controlled state legislature. So far, though, voter turnout numbers provided by the Colorado secretary of state’s office show that Republicans are turning in ballots in much larger numbers than either Democrats or those registered as unaffiliated.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/10/30/colorado-new-controversial-ballot-system/

MANHUNT ENDS: Suspect in deadly Pa. state trooper ambush captured

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This undated file photo provided by the Pennsylvania State Police shows Eric Frein, who has eluded police, but is charged with killing one Pennsylvania State Trooper and seriously wounding another in a late night ambush. (AP/Pennsylvania State Police)

Eric Frein, the suspect in the deadly ambush of a Pennsylvania state trooper, has been taken into custody after a seven-week manhunt, the Pennsylvania State Police announced Thursday night.

A law enforcement source told Fox News U.S. Marshals arrested Frein after obtaining information that he was hiding in an airport hangar near Buck Hill, the same general area where they had been searching for him.

They called him out and he surrendered without incident, the source said. He was armed but no shots were fired.

Frein, 31, allegedly opened fire outside the Blooming Grove state police barracks on Sept. 12, killing Trooper Bryon Dickson, 38, and seriously wounding Trooper Alex Douglass, 31.

Since then he had managed to elude a massive manhunt involving hundreds of state troopers, dozens of vehicles and a helium balloon.

Frein belonged to a military re-enactor’s group, playing the part of a Serbian solder. He had a small role in a 2007 movie about a concentration camp survivor and helped with props and historical references on a documentary about World War I.

The FBI named him to its 10 most wanted list.

Frein has been charged with first-degree murder and various other offenses, including two counts of possession of weapons of mass destruction filed after police discovered the pipe bombs.

Earlier this month, Pennsylvania State Police revealed information from a journal found in the woods in which Frein allegedly described shooting the state troopers. They also detailed campsites where Frein was believed to have hidden, cooking over small fires even as heavily armed police hunted him. Police found pipe bomb booby traps and a gun resting against a tree, but had only had a handful of unconfirmed sightings of Frein.

“Got a shot around 11 p.m. and took it,” Frein wrote on papers found by police. “He [Dickson] dropped. I was surprised at how quick.”

Fox News’ Rick Leventhal and The Associated Press contributed to this report

 

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/10/30/eric-frein-suspect-in-pennsylvania-trooper-ambush-taken-into-custody/

FROM GITMO TO ISIS? Lawmakers want detainee transfers suspended

Republican lawmakers called Thursday for the Obama administration to suspend detainee transfers from Guantanamo Bay following a Fox News report that as many as 20 to 30 former prisoners are suspected by intelligence and Defense officials of having joined forces with the Islamic State and other militant groups inside Syria. 

Some of those former Guantanamo detainees were released within the last three years. 

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., said in a statement the development “underscores the risks we face when Guantanamo detainees are released based on a misguided desire to close Guantanamo — rather than the national security interests of the United States.” 

She urged President Obama to suspend further transfers “at least until a thorough review can be conducted to better understand how many former Guantanamo detainees have joined ISIS and what we can do to prevent such an outcome in the future.” 

Ayotte also wrote to Obama seeking more information about former detainees who have joined with the Islamic State, or ISIS, saying troops “should never have to confront a former Guantanamo detainee on the battlefield.” 

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, earlier agreed that “even one” former detainee on the battlefield “would not make someone wearing the uniform very content.” 

But he stressed that “the recidivism is a relatively small fraction of those detainees, which have been placed into conditions where the risk of recidivism is mitigated.” 

And Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, while acknowledging some detainees “have gone back to the fight,” stood by the administration’s Guantanamo policy. 

“We think that overall the policy of getting to close Guantanamo is clearly in the interest of the United States, as the president has articulated,” Hagel said. 

But Rep. Buck McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, wrote to Hagel on Thursday also urging a suspension of detainee transfers. He cited, among other concerns, “public reports that detainees are specifically rejoining the fight alongside ISIL.” 

“The U.S. Government must not release terrorist detainees at the same time we have committed U.S. service members to fight ISIL,” McKeon wrote. “To continue to do so just as we have had to open a new front in the war on terror is unthinkable. Thus, I request an immediate suspension of all detainee transfers.” 

The intelligence on where detainees have gone offers a mixed picture, and officials say the figures are not exact. But they are certain at least some of the released detainees are fighting with the Islamic State, or ISIS, on the ground inside Syria. Others are believed to be supporting Al Qaeda or the affiliated al-Nusra Front in Syria. 

A number of former detainees also have chosen to help these groups from outside the country, financing operations and supporting their propaganda campaigns. 

Sources who spoke to Fox News were not able to provide the identities of the fighters. 

Senior Defense and intelligence officials say the vast majority of detainees released from Guantanamo don’t return to the fight — and of those who do, relatively few have made it to Syria. 

Of the 620 detainees released from Guantanamo Bay, 180 have returned or are suspected to have returned to the battlefield. 

Of those 180, sources say 20 to 30 have either joined ISIS or other militants groups in Syria, or are participating with these groups from outside countries. Officials say most of those 20 to 30 are operating inside Syria. 

The development underscores just one of many long-running complications for efforts to shutter Guantanamo Bay, a promise Obama made within hours of taking the oath of office in 2009. 

Nearly six years later, that effort has run aground, complicated by problems with relocating prisoners, by concerns about fighters returning to the battlefield and by Congress’ resistance to allowing any to be detained on the U.S. mainland. 

A majority of the jihadists released to their home countries tend to stay and fight locally. Afghans who return to the battlefield, for instance, tend to stay in Afghanistan. 

But these officials said the former detainees who have joined ISIS in Syria have migrated from the European and African countries which agreed to receive them from the United States.
Egypt and Tunisia, as well as six European countries, are among them. 

According to a source, there are 149 detainees still at Guantanamo Bay, almost 90 of them from Yemen. Eighty detainees currently are eligible for transfer. 

In the previous administration, President George W. Bush authorized the release of 530 detainees, but Defense sources say the recent releases have included more hard-core fighters. 

In April of this year, for instance, Ibrahim Bin Shakaran — a Moroccan who spent more than three years at Guantanamo — was reported killed while leading a known Jihadist group in Syria fighting President Bashar Assad’s forces. The Moroccan fighting unit was formed by three former Gitmo detainees. 

Fox News’ Justin Fishel and Jennifer Griffin contributed to this report.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/10/30/gop-lawmakers-urge-administration-to-suspend-gitmo-transfers-over-isis-concerns/

‘A TOXIC MIX’ Colo. election law prompts voter fraud concerns

Colorado’s new election system is being panned by critics as a “ridiculous experiment” that could lead to more voter fraud — in a year of very tight races with nothing less than control of the Senate on the line. 

This election year, every eligible Colorado voter is getting their ballot in the mail. It’s a system used by only two other states — Oregon and Washington. 

“We are only the third state in the United States trying this ridiculous experiment,” said Marilyn Marks, an anti-voter fraud advocate with the Rocky Mountain Foundation. What’s more, she warns, “We have added to it a toxic mix by adding same-day registration.”

One of the most worrisome aspects of the new system, for some, is that once ballots are filled in, they are not required to be mailed back. The ballots can be taken to drop-off locations to avoid paying postage. And the law allows for what is known as “ballot harvesting.” One individual can collect the ballots of up to 10 people to drop off.

“I’m as worried about undo influence as I am about straight up fraud,” Marks said. “There are ballot harvesting groups going door-to-door, asking people to hand over their ballots. You can imagine some more vulnerable members of the community, particularly the elderly, who may feel under pressure.”

“Colorado has no effective way of determining whether an individual has collected more than 10 ballots,” cautioned El Paso County Clerk Wayne Williams, who also is a candidate for secretary of state. Williams complained that the state has no requirement that “your vote will count if you give it to a ballot harvester who then never turns that ballot in.” 

Adding to the potential confusion, every registered voter will get a ballot. “The new law requires ballots to be sent to people who may not have voted in decades,” Williams said. “In El Paso County, we’ve had voters report to us that they’ve received ballots from a voter registration drive for a person who has never lived at that address.”

Election officials offer reassurances that all ballot signatures will be verified against voter registration records. Yet Colorado’s new same-day voter registration law does not require a photo ID.

“You have to provide a driver’s license number, specific to Colorado, a state ID number or your last four of your social,” Denver Elections Director Amber McReynolds said.

“If the signature that was provided [for registration] was not accurate to begin with,” Williams points out, “there is still a very real possibility of a fake registration resulting in a vote that counts and negates the vote of someone who was legitimately entitled to vote.”

Those who still want to vote the old-fashioned way can do so, by bringing their unused mail-in ballots to a polling place and handing them in before voting.

While a small amount of voter fraud might not make a difference in the outcome of most races, the Real Clear Politics polling average has the governors’ race in Colorado, between incumbent Democrat John Hickenlooper and GOP challenger Bob Beauprez, tied at 45 percent each. 

In the U.S. Senate race, the RCP average has GOP challenger Cory Gardner up by only 3.6 percentage points over Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, who is fighting to win a second term. 

The new election laws were passed by a Democratically controlled state legislature. So far, though, voter turnout numbers provided by the Colorado secretary of state’s office show that Republicans are turning in ballots in much larger numbers than either Democrats or those registered as unaffiliated.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/10/30/colorado-new-controversial-ballot-system/

HALLOWEEN HORRORS? Terrorist, Ebola costumes reach new low, critics claim

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This Twitter photo, depicting ISIS Halloween costumes, has gone viral on the Internet.

Terrorism, Ebola fears and domestic violence in sports have brought out the worst in Halloween revelers, with costumes taking bad taste to frightening lows and even causing potential national security issues, according to one expert.

One retailer, BrandsOnSale, is selling various controversial costumes this year, including an Ebola hazmat suit — equipped with a breathing mask and face shield — as well as a “baby pot” outfit and severed heads.

“The deadly Ebola virus has landed in the United States and the crisis has reached new levels of domestic escalation. You are sure to be prepared if any outbreak happens at your Halloween party. This will literally be the most ‘viral’ costume of the year,” reads the company’s online advertisement for a $79.99 Ebola suit.

“If you don’t like it, then don’t go out and trick-or-treat.”

- Jonathan Weeks, CEO of BrandsOnSale

While thousands in West Africa continue to die from the disease and critics of the costume call it distasteful, BrandsOnSale Chief Executive Jonathan Weeks was quick to defend it Thursday. 

“People like to dress up as what’s current,” Weeks told FoxNews.com.

“There’s people who get killed in plane crashes and there’s pilot costumes and there’s people who die as nurses and doctors and there’s costume for that too,” he said. “This is no different than any other EMT worker that is out there helping save lives.”

Weeks’ company also sells cannabis costumes for babies and the ‘super fly’ baby pimp costume.

“The baby pot costume came about because there was a lot of media about children using marijuana to treat seizures,” he said.

“People are going to offend everyone this year. It’s an offensive holiday,” Weeks added. “If you don’t like it, then don’t go out and trick-or-treat.”

The Internet has also gone viral with pictures of homemade Ray Rice costumes that depict the former Baltimore Ravens running back beating his wife. Some photos on Instagram and Facebook show men in a Rice jersey standing next to women with fake black eyes. Rice was arrested in February 2014 for beating his then- fiancée and current wife Janay Palmer in an assault that was captured on surveillance video at an Atlantic City hotel. 

Some costumes, however, cross the line from distasteful to potentially dangerous, according to Mideast expert and Fox News contributor Walid Phares.

Photos have emerged on social media of people dressed up as ISIS militants, toting fake knives and guns, which Phares called “alarming” especially in the wake of the Ottawa shooting in which a lone masked gunman killed a Canadian soldier. One picture, posted Oct. 27 by user T.J ‏@Skinny215 shows a group of ISIS-looking militants with the caption, “Where’s the Halloween parties… Isis will be there.”

“With the increase of young persons planning on wearing ISIS-like uniforms and being masked for Halloween, there are some concerns which we, and law enforcement, need to be attentive to,” he told FoxNews.com.  

“It is all about one day or one night, and hopefully there won’t be any incidents, but here are two scenarios that could be developed by jihadi terrorists for Halloween,” he speculated. “One is that they would wear ISIS type clothing and mingle with the Halloween celebrants, mostly in public places, and perform violence and film it with devices. The videos produced would be extensively used by ISIS or jihadists for propaganda purposes. They would claim having hit the enemy at home, while wearing jihadi uniforms.”

“A second projected scenario, would be to trigger violence and draw law enforcement into reaction, and having law enforcement disoriented by the fact that many youth would be in ISIS clothing, with possible tragic incidents following. There are many scenarios which can be used by jihadi terrorists, particularly by lone wolves,” Phares said.

While Weeks does not sell terrorist costumes, he noted that the “severed heads” some costumers buy each year to decorate their homes with are selling in abundance. 

“We sell severed head props for Halloween decorations,” he said. “They have been more popular this year than ever. We don’t find that funny in the context of ISIS.”

“There is a line you have to draw,” Weeks added. “We never had an Usama Bin Laden costume. People in the past have dressed up as the Boston bombers and the Twin Towers, which I think is extremely distasteful.”

Ricky’s, a New York City-based chain store that sells everything from makeup to costumes, confirmed to FoxNews.com that it does not sell any terror-themed costume.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/10/30/from-ebola-suits-to-terrorist-garb-halloween-costumes-reach-new-low-critics-say/