FREE AT LAST: Marine back on US soil after release from Mexican jail

U.S. Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, jailed more than 200 days in Mexico, was freed by a  judge Friday and immediately returned to the U.S., his family said.

Tahmooressi, 26, who served two tours of duty in Afghanistan, had been held since March 31, when he said he mistakenly crossed into Mexico with three legally-purchased and registered guns in his truck.

A court-appointed psychiatrist confirmed that Tahmooressi has Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Family spokesman Jonathan Franks said the judge released him without making a determination on the charge against him. He had been held initially at a prison outside Tijuana, then was moved to a prison outside Tecate.

His family released a statement Friday night saying, “It is with an overwhelming and humbling feeling of relief that we confirm that Andrew was released today after spending 214 days in a Mexican jail. He is back on American soil and will shortly resume treatment for both his pre-existing combat related PTSD and the residual effects of months of incarceration – which has taken a toll on him far worse than his two tours in Afghanistan.”

The Florida man said he got lost on a California freeway ramp that sent him across the border with no way to turn back. His long detention brought calls for his freedom from U.S. politicians, veterans groups and social media campaigns.

In Mexico, possession of weapons restricted for use by the Army is a federal crime, and the country has been tightening up its border checks to stop the flow of US weapons that have been used by drug cartels.

Tahmooressi reportedly had three weapons, all registered in the U.S., including a .45 caliber pistol, a 12-gauge shotgun and an AR-15 rifle.

Tahmooressi’s lawyers have maintained the weapons in the truck were there because he had recently moved from Florida to San Diego, and had all of his possessions, including the legally-purchased weapons, in his vehicle when he was stopped at the border.

Members of Congress were quick to react to the news of the release.

Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, immediately issued a statement saying, “I am elated that Sgt. Tahmooressi has been ordered released from jail in Mexico. This is great, but overdue, news. I am pleased that both Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam and the judge on the case recognize that Sgt. Tahmooressi did not intend to violate Mexican law, and that his combat-related PTSD should be treated by specialists in the United States.”

In Florida, Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who represents the district where Tahmooressi’s’ mother, Jill, lives, said in a statement, “I am thrilled that Sergeant Tahmooressi has been released from prison in Mexico. We have waited long enough. As a mother, my heart is with Jill Tahmooressi tonight and I can only imagine the many emotions she must be experiencing, namely the relief in knowing her son is coming home and that they will soon be reunited without prison bars, without handlers and without unnecessary travel.”

Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., chairman of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, said, “I am truly overjoyed to hear the news that our Marine Sgt. Tahmooressi is finally coming home to America. During my last visit with Andrew in a Mexican prison, I told him the next time I saw him would be during his release to America; I am grateful that I will be able to keep that promise and be with him and (his mother) Mrs. Tahmooressi as he returns to the United States tonight.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/10/31/mexican-judge-orders-jailed-marine-andrew-tahmooressi-freed-family-spokesman/

LOSING CONTROL? Anonymous insults, leaks cause headaches for WH

The White House ship is springing some leaks. 

Trouble-making personnel inside the Obama administration have taken to the press at a steady clip in recent days to badmouth senior officials, as well as a key American ally. And as President Obama enters his seventh year in office, the whispers and potshots are running the risk of undermining the once-cohesive image of the “no drama Obama” team. 

Whether it’s a few leaky apples or the sign of a larger morale problem is unclear. But several stories with sharp-edged quotes attributed to unnamed administration officials have culminated in an embarrassing week for the White House — complete with plenty of backpedaling and clarifications to assert a polished narrative that all is well. 

But the tarnish may be showing. 

Frustrated officials have started to air their grievances on everything from the current relationship between the U.S. and Israel to the military response in Syria. 

The latest batch of stories started on Monday, when The Atlantic magazine quoted an anonymous official describing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a “chickenshit.” The comment follows weeks of heated exchanges between Netanyahu’s government and Washington over disputed settlement-building.

“The thing about Bibi is, he’s a chickenshit,” the official was quoted as saying. 

The article caused a furor, as Republicans demanded accountability for the anonymous insult to America’s ally. White House and State Department officials insisted the remark does not reflect the administration’s views, and White House officials reportedly were calling lawmakers to hammer home that point. 

Not everyone was buying the administration’s contrite tone. Fox News contributor Judith Miller suggested that comment was “authorized,” to “send a message to Israel.” 

But other comments clearly were not green-lighted by the White House. In the latest episode, ticked-off military officials told The Daily Beast they were frustrated by the tight constraints the White House is placing on them in the war against the Islamic State in Syria. 

Disgruntled officers and civilian Pentagon leaders reportedly claimed that National Security Adviser Susan Rice, who is calling much of the shots on U.S. operations in Syria, is “obsessed with the tiniest of details” and referred to the process as “manic.” 

The White House reportedly has instructed the military to keep the war contained within policy limits which include restrictions on which rebels can be trained to fight and what their roles will be in the field. The sources said Rice’s micro-managing of basic operational details is tying their hands and holding up progress. 

Earlier, on Wednesday, The New York Times reported that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel also was a critic of the White House strategy in Syria. Hagel recently wrote a memo to Rice warning that the current strategy was too unfocused and didn’t clearly address U.S. intentions and how it relates to Syrian President Bashir al-Assad, the Times reported. 

Hagel did not back off his comments on Thursday, saying, “We owe the president and we owe the National Security Council our best thinking on this. And it has to be honest and it has to be direct.” 

The perception of a harmonious Cabinet was further dented following another claim in the Times article that officials routinely joked Secretary of State John Kerry is like the astronaut Sandra Bullock plays in the movie “Gravity,” and that he’s “somersaulting through space, un-tethered from the White House.” 

The article seemed to suggest that Obama’s once tight-knit circle of confidants has come apart in recent months as more and more staff members resign or retire. Personnel shakeups have led some to question the effectiveness of the president’s crisis-management teams. 

The comments prompted Earnest and White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough to come to Kerry’s defense. Sort of.

“Those of us working every day at [the] White House aren’t distracted by sometimes colorful, sometimes problematic, and in the case of Sandra Bullock, sometimes amusing comments,” Earnest told reporters. 

McDonough also defended Obama’s chief diplomat, telling Bloomberg Television “that picture of Secretary Kerry is not what I witness.” He added that Obama and Kerry meet regularly and described the relationship as “very solid.”

McDonough also refuted rumors of a rift between Kerry and Rice, insisting they have a collaborative relationship. 

Whether the administration is hunting down the officials quoted remains to be seen. Earnest gave no indication there would be a vigorous hunt for the official behind the Netanyahu dig. 

The shots aren’t just coming from inside the administration, either. On a lighter note, another influential figure badmouthed the president this week — Michael Jordan. 

When asked about the president’s golf game during a recent interview Jordan said, “I’ve never played with Obama, but I would.” He added, “I’d take him out. He’s a hack and I’d be all day playing with him … I never said he wasn’t a great politician. I’m just saying he’s a shi–y golfer.”

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/10/31/tough-week-for-obama-as-frustrated-officials-air-their-grievances-to-media/

FOX NEWS POLL Rivals separated by 1 point in key Senate races

“It all comes down to turnout.”

That’s one of the biggest clichés in politics. It’s also true in one-point races. Welcome to Iowa, Kansas and North Carolina.

According to the latest round of Fox News Senate battleground polls, none of the front-runners in those states hits the 50 percent mark. That means these races will be decided by late-deciding voters — and campaigns competing furiously to get their voters to the polls.

One thing that is baked into the cake: President Obama is unpopular in these states. That will motivate Republican voters, yet there’s more to these races — and with four days until Election Day, a lot could happen. 

Let’s start in Kansas, which has the most volatile Senate race. 

Kansas

No one was talking about Kansas when election season started. But everyone is now, as two long-time incumbents could get their walking papers Nov. 4. 

The new poll of Kansas likely voters finds independent Greg Orman has a one-point edge over Republican Sen. Pat Roberts: 44-43 percent. Three weeks ago, Roberts was up by five (44-39 percent). 

Click here for the poll results.

Both candidates remain well below 50 percent, as Libertarian Randall Batson receives 3 percent, and another 9 percent is undecided or will vote for someone else.

The Democratic candidate, Chad Taylor, withdrew from the race Sept. 3. Roberts was expected to win re-election until Taylor dropped out.

Still, many more Kansans identify as Republican than as Democrat. So why isn’t Roberts ahead?

Orman has the edge not only because he captures the support of most Democrats, but also just over half of independents — and more than a handful of Republicans to boot.

Eighty percent of Democrats back Orman. And nearly one in five Republicans go for him too (18 percent). Independents favor him by a margin of 51-26 percent. 

Meanwhile, the incumbent is having trouble consolidating the base: only 76 percent of Republicans support Roberts, who has represented Kansas in the Senate since 1997. 

Interest in the election is up among Democrats:  66 percent were extremely or very interested earlier this month. That’s up to 74 percent now. Interest among Republicans held steady. 

Eighty-nine percent of each candidate’s backers say they are certain to vote for their guy.

Orman has so far refused to say which party he would caucus with should he win. Most of his backers — 75 percent — want Democrats to retain control of the U.S. Senate, while 12 percent want Republicans to win. 

Among Roberts’ supporters, a huge 93 percent want Republicans to take control. 

Overall, by 49-39 percent, Kansas likely voters want Republicans to win control of the Senate. 

Roberts has a 5-point edge among men (47-42 percent), while Orman has a 7-point lead among women (46-39 percent).

Obama’s job performance rating is underwater by 17 points in Kansas, the worst rating of the three battleground states tested. Some 39 percent approve, while a 56-percent majority disapproves.

Among those undecided about their vote in the Senate race, 36 percent approve of Obama, while 40 percent disapprove and the remaining 24 percent are unsure. 

The small already-voted group goes for Orman by 51-36 percent.

The new poll also finds Gov. Sam Brownback could be in trouble. Democratic challenger Paul Davis comes out on top: 48-42 percent. 

Earlier this month, Brownback had a 6-point edge (46-40), while in September Davis was up by 4 points (45-41).     

Brownback is hurt by a lack of party loyalty, as just 73 percent of Republicans support him and 20 percent back Davis.

An 89-percent majority of Democrats are voting for Davis and independents back him by 53-27 percent. 

Iowa

Republican Joni Ernst is up just 45-44 percent over Democrat Bruce Braley in the race to replace Iowa’s retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin. 

Both Ernst (94 percent) and Braley supporters (95 percent) have a high degree of vote certainty, and both candidates receive strong backing from their party faithful (89 percent and 90 percent respectively). 

Click here for the poll results.

Independents prefer Ernst over Braley by 46-30 percent.

The reverse gender gap continues, as women are more likely to back Braley by 13 points, while more men support Ernst by 15 points.

Ernst is also helped by the fact that a 55-percent majority of Iowa likely voters disapproves of the job Obama is doing. Just 40 percent approve.

It’s a bad sign for Braley that undecided voters disapprove of Obama’s performance by a wide 25-point margin.

In addition, those who have already voted back Ernst by 61-31 percent. 

There’s not much of a contest in the Iowa governor’s race, as incumbent Terry Branstad remains well ahead of his Democratic challenger Jack Hatch: 53 percent vs. 36 percent. 

Branstad’s lead comes from overwhelming support from Republicans (91 percent). Plus, he gets 13 percent of Democrats and 63 percent of independents.

North Carolina

Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan is up by just 43-42 percent over Republican challenger Thom Tillis among North Carolina likely voters.  That’s down from a 5-point edge last month, when she was up 41-36 percent (Sept. 14-16).

The incumbent Democrat’s lead widens to 55-31 percent among the small subgroup of voters who have already cast their ballot.

Click here for the poll results.

By 47-39 percent, women back Hagan. In 2008, when Hagan won the seat, she received 55 percent of the vote among women (Fox News exit poll). By 46-39 percent, men go for Tillis. 

Eighty-six percent of Democrats back Hagan, while 84 percent of Republicans support Tillis. In a tight race, those couple of points matters. 

Independents split 36-36 percent. In September they backed Tillis by 12 points. 

White voters back Tillis by 51-34 percent. Black voters support Hagan by 84-3 percent. 

A special note to election junkies:  North Carolina polls close at 7:30 p.m. ET on election night and will provide early clues about which party will control the U.S. Senate. If Hagan ultimately loses, it will be a bad harbinger for Democrats. 

“If you think about the three Southern states in which Republicans are trying to knock off incumbent Democrats — Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina — Sen. Hagan is almost certainly the toughest ‘out’ for the GOP,” says Republican pollster Daron Shaw, who jointly conducts the Fox News poll with Democratic pollster Chris Anderson.

More voters think Hagan agrees with Obama too often (48 percent) than think Tillis is too conservative on the issues (35 percent).  In fact, they are more than twice as likely to say Tillis is not conservative enough (13 percent) than that Hagan doesn’t agree with Obama often enough (5 percent).

At 42 percent approval, President Obama receives his best job rating in North Carolina of the states polled (54 percent disapprove).

Among Tillis supporters, 92 percent feel certain they will vote for him, while 88 percent of Hagan supporters say the same. 

2016 Presidential Election

So, that’s enough about midterm elections. Let’s talk about the race everyone also wants to really talk about:  2016!

In Iowa, the first hurdle to the White House, Democrats prefer Hillary Clinton. By a lot: 62 percent want her to be the nominee. She’s followed by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 14 and Vice President Joe Biden at 10 percent. 

For the GOP nominee, Republican likely voters are spreading their support around. In the low double digits are former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (13 percent) and author Ben Carson (12 percent).  They are closely followed by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan (9 percent), former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (8 percent) and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (8 percent). Both New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz receive 7 percent, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum comes in at 6 percent, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker receive 5 percent. 

In Ohio, a virtual must-win state in presidential elections, Clinton tops each of the Republican challengers tested. 

The closest hypothetical matchup is between Clinton and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. She bests him by just 3 points among Ohio voters: 47-43 percent. 

Click here for the poll results.

Clinton also tops Christie by 7 points, Paul by 9 points, and both Jeb Bush and Texas Gov. Rick Perry by 10 points. 

Gov. Kasich is poised to win re-election easily, as the poll finds he leads Democratic challenger Edward FitzGerald by 15 points (51-36 percent). 

The Fox News Poll is conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R). The polls were conducted Oct. 28-30, 2014, by telephone (landline and cell phone) with live interviewers among a random sample of likely voters in Iowa (911), Kansas (907), North Carolina (909) and Ohio (803).  Results based on the full sample in each state have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/10/31/fox-news-poll-1-point-margin-in-iowa-kansas-and-north-carolina-senate-races/

FOX NEWS POLL: Senate race tightens, rivals separated by 1 point in key states

“It all comes down to turnout.”

That’s one of the biggest clichés in politics. It’s also true in one-point races. Welcome to Iowa, Kansas and North Carolina.

According to the latest round of Fox News Senate battleground polls, none of the front-runners in those states hits the 50 percent mark. That means these races will be decided by late-deciding voters — and campaigns competing furiously to get their voters to the polls.

One thing that is baked into the cake: President Obama is unpopular in these states. That will motivate Republican voters, yet there’s more to these races — and with four days until Election Day, a lot could happen. 

Let’s start in Kansas, which has the most volatile Senate race. 

Kansas

No one was talking about Kansas when election season started. But everyone is now, as two long-time incumbents could get their walking papers Nov. 4. 

The new poll of Kansas likely voters finds independent Greg Orman has a one-point edge over Republican Sen. Pat Roberts: 44-43 percent. Three weeks ago, Roberts was up by five (44-39 percent). 

Click here for the poll results.

Both candidates remain well below 50 percent, as Libertarian Randall Batson receives 3 percent, and another 9 percent is undecided or will vote for someone else.

The Democratic candidate, Chad Taylor, withdrew from the race Sept. 3. Roberts was expected to win re-election until Taylor dropped out.

Still, many more Kansans identify as Republican than as Democrat. So why isn’t Roberts ahead?

Orman has the edge not only because he captures the support of most Democrats, but also just over half of independents — and more than a handful of Republicans to boot.

Eighty percent of Democrats back Orman. And nearly one in five Republicans go for him too (18 percent). Independents favor him by a margin of 51-26 percent. 

Meanwhile, the incumbent is having trouble consolidating the base: only 76 percent of Republicans support Roberts, who has represented Kansas in the Senate since 1997. 

Interest in the election is up among Democrats:  66 percent were extremely or very interested earlier this month. That’s up to 74 percent now. Interest among Republicans held steady. 

Eighty-nine percent of each candidate’s backers say they are certain to vote for their guy.

Orman has so far refused to say which party he would caucus with should he win. Most of his backers — 75 percent — want Democrats to retain control of the U.S. Senate, while 12 percent want Republicans to win. 

Among Roberts’ supporters, a huge 93 percent want Republicans to take control. 

Overall, by 49-39 percent, Kansas likely voters want Republicans to win control of the Senate. 

Roberts has a 5-point edge among men (47-42 percent), while Orman has a 7-point lead among women (46-39 percent).

Obama’s job performance rating is underwater by 17 points in Kansas, the worst rating of the three battleground states tested. Some 39 percent approve, while a 56-percent majority disapproves.

Among those undecided about their vote in the Senate race, 36 percent approve of Obama, while 40 percent disapprove and the remaining 24 percent are unsure. 

The small already-voted group goes for Orman by 51-36 percent.

The new poll also finds Gov. Sam Brownback could be in trouble. Democratic challenger Paul Davis comes out on top: 48-42 percent. 

Earlier this month, Brownback had a 6-point edge (46-40), while in September Davis was up by 4 points (45-41).     

Brownback is hurt by a lack of party loyalty, as just 73 percent of Republicans support him and 20 percent back Davis.

An 89-percent majority of Democrats are voting for Davis and independents back him by 53-27 percent. 

Iowa

Republican Joni Ernst is up just 45-44 percent over Democrat Bruce Braley in the race to replace Iowa’s retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin. 

Both Ernst (94 percent) and Braley supporters (95 percent) have a high degree of vote certainty, and both candidates receive strong backing from their party faithful (89 percent and 90 percent respectively). 

Click here for the poll results.

Independents prefer Ernst over Braley by 46-30 percent.

The reverse gender gap continues, as women are more likely to back Braley by 13 points, while more men support Ernst by 15 points.

Ernst is also helped by the fact that a 55-percent majority of Iowa likely voters disapproves of the job Obama is doing. Just 40 percent approve.

It’s a bad sign for Braley that undecided voters disapprove of Obama’s performance by a wide 25-point margin.

In addition, those who have already voted back Ernst by 61-31 percent. 

There’s not much of a contest in the Iowa governor’s race, as incumbent Terry Branstad remains well ahead of his Democratic challenger Jack Hatch: 53 percent vs. 36 percent. 

Branstad’s lead comes from overwhelming support from Republicans (91 percent). Plus, he gets 13 percent of Democrats and 63 percent of independents.

North Carolina

Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan is up by just 43-42 percent over Republican challenger Thom Tillis among North Carolina likely voters.  That’s down from a 5-point edge last month, when she was up 41-36 percent (Sept. 14-16).

The incumbent Democrat’s lead widens to 55-31 percent among the small subgroup of voters who have already cast their ballot.

Click here for the poll results.

By 47-39 percent, women back Hagan. In 2008, when Hagan won the seat, she received 55 percent of the vote among women (Fox News exit poll). By 46-39 percent, men go for Tillis. 

Eighty-six percent of Democrats back Hagan, while 84 percent of Republicans support Tillis. In a tight race, those couple of points matters. 

Independents split 36-36 percent. In September they backed Tillis by 12 points. 

White voters back Tillis by 51-34 percent. Black voters support Hagan by 84-3 percent. 

A special note to election junkies:  North Carolina polls close at 7:30 p.m. ET on election night and will provide early clues about which party will control the U.S. Senate. If Hagan ultimately loses, it will be a bad harbinger for Democrats. 

“If you think about the three Southern states in which Republicans are trying to knock off incumbent Democrats — Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina — Sen. Hagan is almost certainly the toughest ‘out’ for the GOP,” says Republican pollster Daron Shaw, who jointly conducts the Fox News poll with Democratic pollster Chris Anderson.

More voters think Hagan agrees with Obama too often (48 percent) than think Tillis is too conservative on the issues (35 percent).  In fact, they are more than twice as likely to say Tillis is not conservative enough (13 percent) than that Hagan doesn’t agree with Obama often enough (5 percent).

At 42 percent approval, President Obama receives his best job rating in North Carolina of the states polled (54 percent disapprove).

Among Tillis supporters, 92 percent feel certain they will vote for him, while 88 percent of Hagan supporters say the same. 

2016 Presidential Election

So, that’s enough about midterm elections. Let’s talk about the race everyone also wants to really talk about:  2016!

In Iowa, the first hurdle to the White House, Democrats prefer Hillary Clinton. By a lot: 62 percent want her to be the nominee. She’s followed by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 14 and Vice President Joe Biden at 10 percent. 

For the GOP nominee, Republican likely voters are spreading their support around. In the low double digits are former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (13 percent) and author Ben Carson (12 percent).  They are closely followed by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan (9 percent), former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (8 percent) and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (8 percent). Both New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz receive 7 percent, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum comes in at 6 percent, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker receive 5 percent. 

In Ohio, a virtual must-win state in presidential elections, Clinton tops each of the Republican challengers tested. 

The closest hypothetical matchup is between Clinton and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. She bests him by just 3 points among Ohio voters: 47-43 percent. 

Click here for the poll results.

Clinton also tops Christie by 7 points, Paul by 9 points, and both Jeb Bush and Texas Gov. Rick Perry by 10 points. 

Gov. Kasich is poised to win re-election easily, as the poll finds he leads Democratic challenger Edward FitzGerald by 15 points (51-36 percent). 

The Fox News Poll is conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R). The polls were conducted Oct. 28-30, 2014, by telephone (landline and cell phone) with live interviewers among a random sample of likely voters in Iowa (911), Kansas (907), North Carolina (909) and Ohio (803).  Results based on the full sample in each state have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/10/31/fox-news-poll-1-point-margin-in-iowa-kansas-and-north-carolina-senate-races/

LOSING CONTROL? Anonymous insults, leaks cause headaches for WH

The White House ship is springing some leaks. 

Trouble-making personnel inside the Obama administration have taken to the press at a steady clip in recent days to badmouth senior officials, as well as a key American ally. And as President Obama enters his seventh year in office, the whispers and potshots are running the risk of undermining the once-cohesive image of the “no drama Obama” team. 

Whether it’s a few leaky apples or the sign of a larger morale problem is unclear. But several stories with sharp-edged quotes attributed to unnamed administration officials have culminated in an embarrassing week for the White House — complete with plenty of backpedaling and clarifications to assert a polished narrative that all is well. 

But the tarnish may be showing. 

Frustrated officials have started to air their grievances on everything from the current relationship between the U.S. and Israel to the military response in Syria. 

The latest batch of stories started on Monday, when The Atlantic magazine quoted an anonymous official describing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a “chickenshit.” The comment follows weeks of heated exchanges between Netanyahu’s government and Washington over disputed settlement-building.

“The thing about Bibi is, he’s a chickenshit,” the official was quoted as saying. 

The article caused a furor, as Republicans demanded accountability for the anonymous insult to America’s ally. White House and State Department officials insisted the remark does not reflect the administration’s views, and White House officials reportedly were calling lawmakers to hammer home that point. 

Not everyone was buying the administration’s contrite tone. Fox News contributor Judith Miller suggested that comment was “authorized,” to “send a message to Israel.” 

But other comments clearly were not green-lighted by the White House. In the latest episode, ticked-off military officials told The Daily Beast they were frustrated by the tight constraints the White House is placing on them in the war against the Islamic State in Syria. 

Disgruntled officers and civilian Pentagon leaders reportedly claimed that National Security Adviser Susan Rice, who is calling much of the shots on U.S. operations in Syria, is “obsessed with the tiniest of details” and referred to the process as “manic.” 

The White House reportedly has instructed the military to keep the war contained within policy limits which include restrictions on which rebels can be trained to fight and what their roles will be in the field. The sources said Rice’s micro-managing of basic operational details is tying their hands and holding up progress. 

Earlier, on Wednesday, The New York Times reported that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel also was a critic of the White House strategy in Syria. Hagel recently wrote a memo to Rice warning that the current strategy was too unfocused and didn’t clearly address U.S. intentions and how it relates to Syrian President Bashir al-Assad, the Times reported. 

Hagel did not back off his comments on Thursday, saying, “We owe the president and we owe the National Security Council our best thinking on this. And it has to be honest and it has to be direct.” 

The perception of a harmonious Cabinet was further dented following another claim in the Times article that officials routinely joked Secretary of State John Kerry is like the astronaut Sandra Bullock plays in the movie “Gravity,” and that he’s “somersaulting through space, un-tethered from the White House.” 

The article seemed to suggest that Obama’s once tight-knit circle of confidants has come apart in recent months as more and more staff members resign or retire. Personnel shakeups have led some to question the effectiveness of the president’s crisis-management teams. 

The comments prompted Earnest and White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough to come to Kerry’s defense. Sort of.

“Those of us working every day at [the] White House aren’t distracted by sometimes colorful, sometimes problematic, and in the case of Sandra Bullock, sometimes amusing comments,” Earnest told reporters. 

McDonough also defended Obama’s chief diplomat, telling Bloomberg Television “that picture of Secretary Kerry is not what I witness.” He added that Obama and Kerry meet regularly and described the relationship as “very solid.”

McDonough also refuted rumors of a rift between Kerry and Rice, insisting they have a collaborative relationship. 

Whether the administration is hunting down the officials quoted remains to be seen. Earnest gave no indication there would be a vigorous hunt for the official behind the Netanyahu dig. 

The shots aren’t just coming from inside the administration, either. On a lighter note, another influential figure badmouthed the president this week — Michael Jordan. 

When asked about the president’s golf game during a recent interview Jordan said, “I’ve never played with Obama, but I would.” He added, “I’d take him out. He’s a hack and I’d be all day playing with him … I never said he wasn’t a great politician. I’m just saying he’s a shi–y golfer.”

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/10/31/tough-week-for-obama-as-frustrated-officials-air-their-grievances-to-media/

VIRGIN GALACTIC CRASH SpaceShipTwo test flight goes down, killing 1

Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo space tourism rocket crashed during a test flight over the Mojave Desert Friday, killing one of the two pilots aboard and seriously injuring the other.

No cause of the crash has yet been determined.

Speaking at a press conference, Stuart Witt, CEO of the Mojave Air and Space Port, where the test took place, confirmed that an “inflight anomaly” occurred about two minutes after SpaceShipTwo was released from WhiteKnightTwo, the ‘mothership’ plane that carries it to a high altitude. 

“I had confirmation of a mishap a few moments later, about 25 miles north of the airport,” he said.

Witt also confirmed one fatality in the crash, adding that the surviving pilot was treated at the scene and taken to a local hospital.

Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said that the survivor had suffered major injuries.

“Our primary thoughts at this time are with the crew and families,” added George Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic. “We’re doing everything that we can for them now.”

Kevin Mickey, president of Virgin Galactic’s partner Scaled Composites, which was conducting the powered test flight, said that investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board are expected to arrive on the scene Saturday morning. “We expect that the investigation will take several days,” he said.

Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson is also on his way to the test site, and is expected to arrive Saturday morning. It was not immediately clear what effect the crash would have on the future of Virgin’s ambitious space tourism project.

Mickey confirmed that the two crash victims were Scaled Composites test pilots, but did not reveal their names.

Earlier on Friday, Virgin Galactic tweeted that SpaceShipTwo was flying under rocket power and then tweeted that it had “experienced an in-flight anomaly.”

Mickey was asked about SpaceShipTwo’s rocket motor during the press conference.

“We were flying a rocket motor today that had been thoroughly tested on the ground – we expected no anomalies with this motor today,” he said. “This motor configuration had flown a few times in the past.”

The Scaled Composites president added that a “new fuel formulation” was used during Friday’s test flight, but said that it had “been tested on the ground, many times.”

Friday’s flight marked the 55th for the spaceship, which was intended to be the first of a line of craft that would open space to paying civilians. At 60 feet long, SpaceShipTwo features two large windows for each of up to six passengers, one on the side and one overhead.

Virgin Galactic – owned by Branson’s Virgin Group and Aabar Investments PJS of Abu Dhabi – sells seats on each prospective journey for $250,000, with full payment due at the time of booking. The company says that “future astronauts,” as it calls customers, have visited Branson’s Caribbean home, Necker Island, and gone through G-force training.

Stephen Hawking, Justin Bieber, Ashton Kutcher and Russell Brand are among the celebrities to sign up for flights. Virgin Galactic reports taking deposits totaling more than $80 million from about 700 people.

A related venture, The Spaceship Co., is responsible for building Virgin Galactic’s space vehicles.

During testing for the development of a rocket motor for SpaceShipTwo in July 2007, an explosion at the Mojave spaceport killed three workers and critically injured three others. A California Division of Occupational Safety and Health report said the blast occurred three seconds after the start of a cold-flow test of nitrous oxide – commonly known as laughing gas – which is used in the propulsion system of SpaceShipTwo. The engine was not firing during that test.

Ken Brown, a photographer who witnessed Friday’s crash, saw the space tourism craft explode after it was released from WhiteKnightTwo. 

“I could see that it was tumbling, and it wasn’t one piece,” Brown told Fox News’s Shepard Smith.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/science/2014/10/31/virgin-galactics-spaceshiptwo-suffers-in-flight-anomaly-553581797/

SPOOKY DISCOVERY Skulls found near Satanic books at waste facility

Skulls Discovered_Mill.jpg

In this photo released by the Stamford, Conn., Police Department Friday, Oct. 31, 2014, two human skull are displayed, which were found at the Stamford Refuge Transfer Station. (AP/Stamford Police Department)

The skulls of an older man and woman were found at a Connecticut waste transfer station near some books and videos on witchcraft and Satan, police said Friday.

The skulls and a jaw bone were found Thursday at a Stamford transfer station in a pile of recyclables brought from the home of a Fairfield man who had recently died, said Stamford police Lt. Diedrich Hohn.

“What we are hearing from sources and stuff is that this guy, who has passed away, was into the occult,” Hohn said. “That’s what we’re investigating now.”

One skull was complete, the other was missing its mandible (jawbone), which was found nearby, Hohn said.

Hohn said officers sifting through the debris from the man’s home also came across several books on witchcraft and books and videos dealing with Satanism.

The skulls and the mandible were sent to the medical examiner’s office in Farmington, Connecticut, where it was determined the larger one came from a man and the smaller skull and mandible came from a woman. Both people died late in life, Hohn said.

There were no signs of trauma on either skull.

The skulls are being sent to an anthropologist to get a more accurate estimate of the ages of the deceased, he said.

“We’re looking at all angles to determine where they came from, to make sure it wasn’t a grave robbery,” Hohn said. “You could buy these skulls online. We also want to make sure there is nothing sinister, that no one was murdered.”

Dan Colleluori, the city’s solid waste supervisor, told Hearst Media Group the skulls were in pile of recyclables, part of load dropped off Thursday morning by a junk dealer who had cleaned out the home in Fairfield.

Part of the larger skull appeared to be colored blue.  Hohn said he was told by the medical examiner that was the result of being bleached.

Hohn declined to give the name or address of the man from whose home the skulls are believed to have been taken. He said police had not yet interviewed the man’s family.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/10/31/skulls-found-near-witchcraft-books-at-connecticut-transfer-station-police-say/

Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo crashes in Mojave, killing 1 pilot

SpaceShipTwo1.jpg

This image from video by KABC TV Los Angeles shows wreckage of what is believed to be SpaceShipTwo in Southern California’s Mojave Desert on Friday, Oct. 31, 2014. (AP Photo/KABC TV)

Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo space tourism rocket crashed during a test flight over the Mojave Desert Friday, killing at least one of the two pilots aboard and seriously injuring the other.

The company tweeted  that SpaceShipTwo was flying under rocket power and then tweeted that it had “experienced an in-flight anomaly.”

“During the test, the vehicle suffered a serious anomaly resulting in the loss of SpaceShipTwo,” Virgin Galactic tweeted, adding the mothership landed safely.

The California Highway Patrol reported one fatality and one major injury.  SpaceShipTwo is typically flown by two pilots.

Authorities said that the aircraft’s co-pilot was killed in the crash, while the pilot, who ejected, was injured, according to Reuters. Citing Kern County Sheriff’s spokesman Ray Pruitt, Reuters reported that the pilot was found at the scene and taken to a local hospital.

Ken Brown, a photographer who witnessed the crash, said the space tourism craft exploded after it was released from WhiteKnightTwo, the ‘mothership’ plane that carries it to a high altitude. 

“I could see that it was tumbling, and it wasn’t one piece,” Brown told Fox News’s Shepard Smith.

Parachutes were reportedly seen in the air, according to SpaceFlightNow.com, which said that the “anomaly” apparently occurred after the plane fired its rocket motor following a high-altitude drop from WhiteKnightTwo.

Virgin Galactic tweeted that its partner Scaled Composites conducted the powered test flight of SpaceShipTwo.

“We will work closely with the relevant authorities to determine the cause of this accident and provide updates ASAP,” the company also tweeted. Virgin Galactic will hold a press conference at 5 p.m. ET.

Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson is on his way to the test site. “Thoughts with all @virgingalactic & Scaled, thanks for all your messages of support. I’m flying to Mojave immediately to be with the team,” he tweeted.

Friday’s flight marked the 55th for the spaceship, which was intended to be the first of a line of craft that would open space to paying civilians. At 60 feet long, SpaceShipTwo features two large windows for each of up to six passengers, one on the side and one overhead.

Virgin Galactic – owned by Branson’s Virgin Group and Aabar Investments PJS of Abu Dhabi – sells seats on each prospective journey for $250,000, with full payment due at the time of booking. The company says that “future astronauts,” as it calls customers, have visited Branson’s Caribbean home, Necker Island, and gone through G-force training.

Stephen Hawking, Justin Bieber, Ashton Kutcher and Russell Brand are among the celebrities to sign up for flights. Virgin Galactic reports taking deposits totaling more than $80 million from about 700 people.

A related venture, The Spaceship Co., is responsible for building Virgin Galactic’s space vehicles.

During testing for the development of a rocket motor for SpaceShipTwo in July 2007, an explosion at the Mojave spaceport killed three workers and critically injured three others. A California Division of Occupational Safety and Health report said the blast occurred three seconds after the start of a cold-flow test of nitrous oxide – commonly known as laughing gas – which is used in the propulsion system of SpaceShipTwo. The engine was not firing during that test.

Virgin Galactic did not immediately respond to a request for comment from FoxNews.com.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/science/2014/10/31/virgin-galactics-spaceshiptwo-suffers-in-flight-anomaly-553581797/

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

political ads_660.jpg

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

iranhanging.jpg

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?

Col-column.jpg

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.

CLICK HERE TO JOIN TODD ON FACEBOOK FOR CONSERVATIVE CONVERSATION!

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

Senate New Hampshire _AP_660.jpg

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. 

CLICK FOR MORE SENATE RACE COVERAGE

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/10/31/debate-moderator-apologizes-for-accusing-scott-brown-botching-nh-geography/

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

iranhanging.jpg

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

ISIScostume.jpg

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/

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

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/

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

  • beyonce i was here 1.jpg

  • beyonce i was here 3.jpg

  • beyonce i was here 2.jpg

“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/

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

  • frein2internal4545.jpg

    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)

  • 660Frein.jpg

    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

  • frein2internal4545.jpg

    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)

  • 660Frein.jpg

    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/

‘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

660Frein.jpg

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/