Issa accuses Secret Service of giving ‘false’ account of White House breach

House oversight committee Chairman Darrell Issa blasted the Secret Service Tuesday over the security breach earlier this month where an intruder broke into the White House — and accused the agency of giving a “false” account of what happened. 

In his opening statement, Issa, R-Calif., confirmed emerging reports that the intruder made it all the way into the East Room. Issa said that was contrary to an “early, false report” that claimed the intruder only made it just inside the door. 

“An intruder walked in the front door of the White House, and that is unacceptable. Commonsense tells us that there were a series of security failures — not an instance of praiseworthy restraint,” Issa said. 

He claimed the intruder breached at least five rings of security. Urging the Secret Service to fix its problems, he warned that the next breach could be a “planned attack by a terrorist organization.” 

“The fact is, the system broke down,” Issa said. 

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson, testifying at the hearing, acknowledged that the security plan “was not properly executed.” 

“This is unacceptable and I take full responsibility and I will make sure that it does not happen again,” she said. Pierson, without going into detail, said the intruder was ultimately arrested on the “State Floor,” which refers generally to the first floor of the White House. She said all decisions from that day are being evaluated. 

The testimony comes after it was revealed that the suspect in the Sept. 19 incident made it far deeper into the White House than previously known. 

Sources confirmed to Fox News on Monday that 42-year-old Omar Gonzalez overpowered a Secret Service officer and got all the way into the East Room before he was stopped.   

A series of what one source called “catastrophic” security failures apparently allowed the intruder to get that far.   

The Secret Service did not follow basic protocols during the incident to protect the White House, the president and the first family and the agency still does not know why, a source intimately familiar with details of the investigation told Fox News. 

For example, the Secret Service didn’t lock down certain areas of the property and did not elevate the threat level at the White House so that other uniformed officers and agents would know what was happening, which is a standard response. 

“This was a catastrophic failure when the President was not there. What if the president was there?” the source, a longtime Secret Service insider, added. “It turns out that basic functions in place to avoid this were never initiated.” 

The Secret Service has been having high-level meetings to address the breach, the latest in a series of embarrassing scandals for the agency since a 2012 prostitution scandal erupted during a presidential visit to Colombia. 

The Washington Post reported over the weekend that the Secret Service did not immediately respond to shots fired at the White House in 2011, amid what the agency describes as uncertainty about where the shots originated. Four days later, it was discovered that at least one of the shots broke the glass of a window on the third level of the mansion, the Secret Service said. 

At the time of the 2011 breach, the president and first lady Michelle Obama were away, but their daughters were in Washington – one home and the other due to return that night.
Oscar R. Ortega-Hernandez of Idaho has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for the 2011 incident. 

Gonzalez was on the Secret Service radar as early as July when state troopers arrested him during a traffic stop in southwest Virginia. State troopers there said Gonzalez had an illegal sawed-off shotgun and a map of Washington tucked inside a Bible with a circle around the White House, other monuments and campgrounds. The troopers seized a stash of other weapons and ammunition found during a search of Gonzalez’s car after his arrest. 

The Secret Service interviewed Gonzalez in July, but had nothing with which to hold him. Gonzalez was released on bail. Then, on Aug. 25, Gonzalez was stopped and questioned again while he was walking along the south fence of the White House. He had a hatchet, but no firearms. His car was searched, but he was not arrested. 

“There’s a misperception out there that we have some broad detention powers,” Ed Donovan, a Secret Service spokesman, said. The Secret Service, like other law enforcement agencies, must have evidence of criminal behavior in order to file charges against someone. “Just because we have a concern about someone doesn’t mean we can interview or arrest them or put them in a mental health facility,” Donovan said. 

Fox News’ Ed Henry and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/09/30/issa-accuses-secret-service-giving-false-account-white-house-breach/

FOCUS ON ISIS NC Senate race puts terror threat front, center

Republican leaders had ticketed Thom Tillis as their best hope to unseat incumbent North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan — but a month before voters go to the polls Tillis still is trailing, and his campaign is cranking up its attacks on Hagan’s Senate record by questioning her national security credentials in light of the growing Islamic State threat. 

Tillis, the state House speaker, is turning up the heat in the final weeks. He’s bringing in party luminaries for campaign cameos, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush last week. And he’s hitting his Democratic opponent hard on foreign policy — specifically, how one of the world’s fastest-growing terror groups went largely ignored by lawmakers in Washington. 

On Monday, Tillis’ camp released a new 30-second ad that hammers Hagan for missing several Senate Armed Service Committee hearings while the Islamic State threat mounted. It accuses Hagan of missing half the committee hearings this year, suggesting both she — and President Obama — were sitting back at a critical time. 

“While ISIS grew, Obama kept waiting and Kay Hagan kept quiet,” the narrator says ominously. “The price for their failure is danger.” 

Hagan’s camp, which had been relatively quiet on the topic, hit back Monday – saying that Tillis’ new ad “attempts to distract from his own record by distorting Kay’s instead.”

But Tillis’ approach effectively seizes on a growing national anxiety about the rise in terror groups, which is becoming a factor in races that used to focus on health care and the economy. 

During a recent stop in Charlotte, Tillis and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., hammered home the message that Hagan and Obama are to blame for the growing emergency linked to extremist groups like ISIS and said a new approach in Washington is needed. 

“Anything short of a strategy that calls for and achieves the complete elimination of ISIS and any emerging threats is unacceptable,” Tillis said in an interview with FoxNews.com. 

He added, “I think this president needs to recognize that he, more than anyone else, needs to get that right and the senator that I’m running against, Kay Hagan, needs to start playing a more active role and demanding that we have a comprehensive strategy to what’s occurring the Middle East.” 

Tillis accused Hagan of siding with Obama and helping give rise to ISIS by their “inaction and appeasement.” 

The GOP nominee, though, was unclear when asked what he would do in Hagan’s position. He said only that his decision would be based on what military officials told him and that as a “private citizen” he could not comment on what he’d do or how he’d vote.

When asked about the prospect of arming Syrian rebels, Tillis said he wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to arm them, saying he would “have to know that these arms would not get in the hands of people who would want to take over the Middle East.”

Sadie Weiner, Hagan’s communication director, ripped Tillis for not saying what he would do. “North Carolinians – especially our servicemembers and their families – deserve better than Speaker Tillis’ spineless fence-sitting on this pressing national security threat,” she said. 

Andrew Taylor, professor of political science at North Carolina State University, also said such responses by Tillis could backfire with voters. 

But he nevertheless said the Tillis tactic of painting Hagan as “an out-of-touch, ineffective” politician could generate the bump the GOP nominee needs on Election Day.

“Tillis has been doing this for awhile and really going after Hagan as someone who isn’t a principle player in Washington and isn’t at the table when important decisions are being made,” Taylor said. 

Recent Fox News and other polls show Hagan slightly ahead. The Fox News poll showed Tillis leading by 5 points; a separate CNN/Opinion Research poll put her ahead by 3 points. Both surveys had a margin of error of 4 percentage points. 

Republicans need to pick up a net six Senate seats to gain control of the chamber next year. With once-sleepy races like Kansas suddenly looking competitive for Republicans, it makes states like North Carolina all the more important for the GOP. In the closing weeks, both parties are pulling out the stops, sending heavy-hitters into the state to stump for their respective nominees. 

Last week, Tillis campaigned with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Bush. Former President Bill Clinton will be a special guest Tuesday during a Hagan luncheon in Chapel Hill. 

The Senate race in North Carolina also has seen a staggering amount of outside money pouring in, with some experts predicting it will be one of the most expensive Senate races in history. 

The candidates’ most recent campaign finance filings showed Hagan ahead with $8.7 million in cash on hand and Tillis with $1.5 million. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, more than $22 million has been spent in outside money in North Carolina for the midterm races, with the majority going to the Senate race.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/09/30/rise-isis-global-terror-threats-gain-prominence-in-close-north-carolina-senate/

MORGAN CRASH Walmart says comic, pals weren’t wearing seatbelts

Tracy Morgan Accident_Cham640093014.jpg

FILE – In this April 9, 2014 file photo, actor Tracy Morgan attends the FX Networks Upfront premiere screening of ‘Fargo’ at the SVA Theater in New York. (Photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP, File)

Actor-comedian Tracy Morgan and other people in a limousine struck from behind by a Walmart truck on a highway in June are at least partly to blame for their injuries because they weren’t wearing seatbelts, the company said in a court filing Monday.

The filing was made in federal court in response to a lawsuit Morgan filed in July over the accident, which killed his friend James McNair, who was accompanying the former “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock” star back from a show in Delaware. Morgan spent several weeks in rehab with rib and leg injuries.

Walmart Stores Inc., based in Bentonville, Arkansas, said in the filing that the passengers’ injuries were caused “in whole or in part” by their “failure to properly wear an appropriate available seatbelt restraint device,” which it said constitutes unreasonable conduct.

An attorney representing Morgan and the other plaintiffs called Walmart’s contentions “surprising and appalling.”

“It’s disingenuous,” attorney Benedict Morelli said. “It’s not what they said they were going to do initially, which was take full responsibility. I’m very upset, not for myself but for the families I represent.”

The lawsuit seeks a jury trial and punitive and compensatory damages. It says the retail giant should have known that its truck driver had been awake for more than 24 hours before the crash and that his commute of 700 miles from his home in Georgia to work in Delaware was “unreasonable.” It also alleges the driver fell asleep at the wheel.

Walmart spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan said in an email that the company “continues to stand willing to work with Mr. Morgan and the other plaintiffs to resolve this matter.”

Passengers Ardley Fuqua and Jeffrey Millea and Millea’s wife, Krista Millea, also are named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Krista Millea was not in the limousine when the crash occurred but is a plaintiff because she has a related loss-of-services lawsuit stemming from the crash.

Truck driver Kevin Roper, of Jonesboro, Georgia, pleaded not guilty to death by auto and assault by auto charges in state court. A criminal complaint also accuses him of not sleeping for more than 24 hours before the crash, a violation of New Jersey law.

A report by federal transportation safety investigators said Roper was driving 65 mph in the minute before he slammed into the limo van. The speed limit on that stretch of the New Jersey Turnpike is 55 mph and was lowered to 45 mph that night because of construction.

Roper had been on the job about 13 1/2 hours at the time of the crash, the report concluded. Federal rules permit truck drivers to work up to 14 hours a day, with a maximum of 11 hours behind the wheel.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2014/09/30/wal-mart-claims-tracy-morgan-fellow-passengers-werent-wearing-seatbelts-in/

‘A RICH BROKER’ Suspect offers motive in Arkansas realtor murder

The Arkansas man who faces capital murder charges in the death of a real estate broker whose body was found early Tuesday in a shallow grave told reporters she was chosen because “she was a woman that worked  alone — a rich broker.”

Arron Lewis, the suspect, denied killing Beverly Carter, and mentioned a co-defendant during the brief comments to reporters Tuesday while being led by police in handcuffs.

Lewis appeared in court Tuesday and pleaded not guilty to one count each of capital murder, kidnapping and robbery, as well as four weapons charges, according to the office of Pulaski County District Judge Wayne Gruber.

Carter had been missing since Thursday afternoon, when authorities say she had planned to show a house in the town of Scott, but never returned from the appointment.

Her body was found in a shallow grave at a concrete company in a rural area about 25 miles northeast of Little Rock. Police say Lewis has admitted to kidnapping Carter.

Lewis was arrested Monday morning, a day after authorities identified him as a suspect in the case. Fox16.com reported that a passerby recognized him outside a Subway restaurant in West Little Rock and chased him into an apartment complex along with a group of other men. Lewis was hiding in a manager’s office when he was apprehended, police said.

It is not clear how investigators initially connected Lewis to the case. According to the sheriff’s office, Lewis was questioned for more than 12 hours Monday. Lewis admitted to kidnapping Carter, but did not divulge her whereabouts. At some point Monday, investigators received a tip leading them to the address where she was found.

Pulaski County Lt. Carl Minden said that Lewis was on parole until 2017 for previous convictions in northwest Arkansas. He did not reveal whether Lewis was the client Carter was planning to meet.

Police said Carter’s purse was found in her vehicle outside the home Friday and the door to the residence she was showing was left open. Detectives believe Carter was taken from the home.

Carl Carter, her husband, told First Coast News that he received a text from Beverly around 1 a.m. Friday, the morning after her disappearance.

But he said the message didn’t sound like her at all.

“All of a sudden I received three texts in a row. One said ‘Yes.’… Then she sent another text that said, ‘My phone’s low. The battery’s down, and I’ll call you whenever I get signal.’ …And, then, straight back-to-back, I received a text that said ‘Oh, I’m out drinking with some friends,'” he told the station. “Beverly’s not a drinker.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Click for more from Fox16.com.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/09/30/body-missing-arkansas-realtor-discovered-in-shallow-grave/

‘GOODBYE, DEAR MUM’ Reports: Iranian set to die for would-be rapist’s killing

jabbari.jpg

Rayhaneh Jabbari faces execution in Iran on Tuesday, seven years after being sentenced to death for allegedly stabbing a man she says tried to rape her.

The mother of an Iranian woman sentenced to death for killing a man who tried to rape her told FoxNews.com the execution was postponed at the last minute.

Rayhaneh Jabbari, 26, was to be executed Tuesday, and even told her mother goodbye in a tearful phone call as she was being taken to the prison facility where she was to be hanged.  But early Tuesday, Shole Paravan said she had learned the execution had been postponed. That word came after Paravan and other supporters of Jabbari went to Rajaiy Shahr Prison to protest the pending execution, and after Jabbari’s farewell.

“I am currently handcuffed and there is a car waiting outside to take me for the execution of the sentence,” Jabbari told her mother, whose recounting in Farsi was translated by FoxNews.com. “Goodbye, dear Mum. All of my pains will finish early tomorrow morning. I’m sorry I cannot lessen your pain. Be patient. We believe in life after death. I’ll see you in the next world and I will never leave you again because being separated from you is the most difficult thing to do in the world.”

“I am currently handcuffed and there is a car waiting outside to take me for the execution of the sentence.”

- Rayhaneh Jabbari

In April, a court postponed Jabbari’s execution in the face of heavy international outcry, including an international petition with nearly 200,000 signatures. But the grim news that the sentence will soon be carried out came as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, trying to put a moderate face on the regime.

Supporters of Rouhani hoped his election last year would usher in a more tolerant era than the one of his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, particularly regarding human rights. But advocacy groups say the number of executions and violations have increased.

“This abhorrent execution must not be allowed to take place, particularly when there are serious doubts about the circumstances of the killing,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa deputy director at Amnesty International. “Instead of continuing to execute people, authorities in Iran should reform their judicial system, which dangerously relies on processes which fail to meet international law and standards for fair trial.”

Jabbari, who worked as a decorator, was convicted of the 2007 fatal stabbing of Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi, a former employee of the Iranian Intelligence Ministry. Jabbari, who was 19 at the time, has long maintained Sarbandi drugged her and tried to rape her after the two met at a café and she agreed to go to his office to discuss a business deal.

Sarbandi took Jabbari to a rundown building in a remote location, according to her supporters. Once there, he offered her a fruit drink which forensic tests conducted by the police determined contained a date-rape drug, according to human rights advocates.

Jabbari allegedly stabbed Sarbandi in the shoulder with a small pocket knife and fled, while Sarbandi bled to death.

Human rights advocates say the case shows the brutality and intolerance of Iran’s penal system.

“She has been tortured in so many ways in prison. They may have pressured her to confess,” said Shabnam Assadollahi, an Iranian activist based in Canada.

“This is a verdict of “Ghessas” ["an eye for an eye"], but the details of the case don’t make sense,” Assadollhai said.

Jabbari’s family and advocates, including Assadollahi, have pointed to the fact that a small pocket knife and two stabs in the shoulder would not result in fatal consequences for a large man, which is how Sarbandi was described. They say her confession was coerced with torture.

They believe someone else killed Sarbandi and that Jabbari was set up. There is also speculation that there may have been interference in the case and that crucial evidence that would potentially save Jabbari’s life was either tampered with or destroyed.

Lisa Daftari is a Fox News contributor specializing in Middle Eastern affairs.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/09/29/iran-set-to-execute-woman-accused-killing-attempted-rapist/

Secret Service head in spotlight after ‘catastrophic’ White House breach

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson will face questions about how an armed intruder jumped the White House fence and made it as far as the East Room when she testifies before a House committee on Tuesday. 

Sources confirmed to Fox News on Monday that 42-year-old Omar Gonzalez overpowered a Secret Service officer in the Sept. 19 incident — this led to a struggle and “wrestling” inside the executive mansion as he darted through. Gonzalez was eventually tackled by a counter-assault agent in the East Room after he reached the doorway to the Green Room, a parlor overlooking the South Lawn. 

The revelation that the intruder made it much farther than originally known came on the eve of a scheduled House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing that will address the breach, as well as lawmakers’ “concerns” about the Secret Service’s security protocols. 

A series of what one source called “catastrophic” security failures apparently allowed the intruder to get deep into the White House. 

The Secret Service did not follow basic protocols during the incident to protect the White House, the president and the first family and the agency still does not know why, a source intimately familiar with details of the investigation told Fox News. 

For example, the Secret Service didn’t lock down certain areas of the property and did not elevate the threat level at the White House so that other uniformed officers and agents would know what was happening, which is a standard response.

“This was a catastrophic failure when the President was not there. What if the president was there?” the source, a longtime Secret Service insider, added. “It turns out that basic functions in place to avoid this were never initiated.” 

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who chairs a House subcommittee on national security oversight, also told CNN that whistleblowers had informed his panel of the breach. 

Additionally, an alarm box near the front entrance of the White House that is designed to alert guards to an intruder had been muted at what officers believed was a request of the usher’s office, an official told The Washington Post.

An officer posted inside the front door also appeared to be delayed in learning that Gonzalez was about to burst through, according to the Post. Officers are trained to immediately lock the front door once an intruder is spotted on the grounds.

A Secret Service Uniformed Division officer then “misreported” how far the intruder got into the White House to management in order to downplay the impact of the initial failure. 

The officer in question told management that the intruder “never got through the vestibule” of the North Portico, which turned out to be false, a source said.

Secret Service spokeswoman Nicole Mainor told Fox News that the agency would not comment on the revelations, citing the ongoing investigation.

The Secret Service has been having high-level meetings to address the breach, the latest in a series of embarrassing scandals for the agency since a 2012 prostitution scandal erupted during a presidential visit to Colombia.

The Post reported over the weekend that the Secret Service did not immediately respond to shots fired at the White House in 2011, amid what the agency describes as uncertainty about where the shots originated. Four days later, it was discovered that at least one of the shots broke the glass of a window on the third level of the mansion, the Secret Service said.

At the time of the 2011 breach, the president and first lady Michelle Obama were away, but their daughters were in Washington — one home and the other due to return that night.

Oscar R. Ortega-Hernandez of Idaho has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for the 2011 incident.

“The president and the first lady, like all parents, are concerned about the safety of their children, but the president and first lady also have confidence in the men and women of the Secret Service to do a very important job, which is to protect the first family, to protect the White House, but also protect the ability of tourists and members of the public to conduct their business or even tour the White House,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Monday.

After the most recent breach, Pierson ordered a review of the incident and possible changes to security measures at and around the White House. She briefed the president on Thursday.

“The president is interested in the review that they are conducting, and I would anticipate that he’ll review whatever it is they — whatever reforms and recommendations they settle upon,” Earnest said of the Secret Service’s internal review.

Secret Service officers who spotted Gonzalez scaling the fence quickly assessed that he didn’t have any weapons in his hands and wasn’t wearing clothing that could conceal substantial quantities of explosives, a primary reason agents did not fire their weapons, according to a U.S. official briefed on the investigation.

Gonzalez was on the Secret Service radar as early as July when state troopers arrested him during a traffic stop in southwest Virginia. State troopers there said Gonzalez had an illegal sawed-off shotgun and a map of Washington tucked inside a Bible with a circle around the White House, other monuments and campgrounds. The troopers seized a stash of other weapons and ammunition found during a search of Gonzalez’s car after his arrest.

The Secret Service interviewed Gonzalez in July, but had nothing with which to hold him. Gonzalez was released on bail. Then, on Aug. 25, Gonzalez was stopped and questioned again while he was walking along the south fence of the White House. He had a hatchet, but no firearms. His car was searched, but he was not arrested.

“There’s a misperception out there that we have some broad detention powers,” Ed Donovan, a Secret Service spokesman, said. The Secret Service, like other law enforcement agencies, must have evidence of criminal behavior in order to file charges against someone. “Just because we have a concern about someone doesn’t mean we can interview or arrest them or put them in a mental health facility,” Donovan said.

Click here for more from the Washington Post.

Fox News’ Ed Henry, Lesa Jansen, Mike Emanuel, Chad Pergram and Wes Barrett and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/09/30/white-house-intruder-made-it-to-east-room-officials-say/

‘GOODBYE, DEAR MUM’ Reports: Iranian set to die for would-be rapist’s killing

jabbari.jpg

Rayhaneh Jabbari faces execution in Iran on Tuesday, seven years after being sentenced to death for allegedly stabbing a man she says tried to rape her.

The mother of an Iranian woman sentenced to death for killing a man who tried to rape her told FoxNews.com the execution was postponed at the last minute.

Rayhaneh Jabbari, 26, was to be executed Tuesday, and even told her mother goodbye in a tearful phone call as she was being taken to the prison facility where she was to be hanged.  But early Tuesday, Shole Paravan said she had learned the execution had been postponed. That word came after Paravan and other supporters of Jabbari went to Rajaiy Shahr Prison to protest the pending execution, and after Jabbari’s farewell.

“I am currently handcuffed and there is a car waiting outside to take me for the execution of the sentence,” Jabbari told her mother, whose recounting in Farsi was translated by FoxNews.com. “Goodbye, dear Mum. All of my pains will finish early tomorrow morning. I’m sorry I cannot lessen your pain. Be patient. We believe in life after death. I’ll see you in the next world and I will never leave you again because being separated from you is the most difficult thing to do in the world.”

“I am currently handcuffed and there is a car waiting outside to take me for the execution of the sentence.”

- Rayhaneh Jabbari

In April, a court postponed Jabbari’s execution in the face of heavy international outcry, including an international petition with nearly 200,000 signatures. But the grim news that the sentence will soon be carried out came as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, trying to put a moderate face on the regime.

Supporters of Rouhani hoped his election last year would usher in a more tolerant era than the one of his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, particularly regarding human rights. But advocacy groups say the number of executions and violations have increased.

“This abhorrent execution must not be allowed to take place, particularly when there are serious doubts about the circumstances of the killing,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa deputy director at Amnesty International. “Instead of continuing to execute people, authorities in Iran should reform their judicial system, which dangerously relies on processes which fail to meet international law and standards for fair trial.”

Jabbari, who worked as a decorator, was convicted of the 2007 fatal stabbing of Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi, a former employee of the Iranian Intelligence Ministry. Jabbari, who was 19 at the time, has long maintained Sarbandi drugged her and tried to rape her after the two met at a café and she agreed to go to his office to discuss a business deal.

Sarbandi took Jabbari to a rundown building in a remote location, according to her supporters. Once there, he offered her a fruit drink which forensic tests conducted by the police determined contained a date-rape drug, according to human rights advocates.

Jabbari allegedly stabbed Sarbandi in the shoulder with a small pocket knife and fled, while Sarbandi bled to death.

Human rights advocates say the case shows the brutality and intolerance of Iran’s penal system.

“She has been tortured in so many ways in prison. They may have pressured her to confess,” said Shabnam Assadollahi, an Iranian activist based in Canada.

“This is a verdict of “Ghessas” ["an eye for an eye"], but the details of the case don’t make sense,” Assadollhai said.

Jabbari’s family and advocates, including Assadollahi, have pointed to the fact that a small pocket knife and two stabs in the shoulder would not result in fatal consequences for a large man, which is how Sarbandi was described. They say her confession was coerced with torture.

They believe someone else killed Sarbandi and that Jabbari was set up. There is also speculation that there may have been interference in the case and that crucial evidence that would potentially save Jabbari’s life was either tampered with or destroyed.

Lisa Daftari is a Fox News contributor specializing in Middle Eastern affairs.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/09/29/iran-set-to-execute-woman-accused-killing-attempted-rapist/

‘A RICH BROKER’ Suspect offers motive in Arkansas realtor murder

The Arkansas man who faces capital murder charges in the death of a real estate broker whose body was found early Tuesday in a shallow grave told reporters she was chosen because “she was a woman that worked  alone — a rich broker.”

Arron Lewis, the suspect, denied killing Beverly Carter, and mentioned a co-defendant during the brief comments to reporters Tuesday while being led by police in handcuffs.

Carter had been missing since Thursday afternoon, when authorities say she had planned to show a house in the town of Scott, but never returned from the appointment.

Her body was found in a shallow grave at a concrete company in a rural area about 25 miles northeast of Little Rock. Police say Lewis has admitted to kidnapping Carter.

Lewis was arrested Monday morning, a day after authorities identified him as a suspect in the case. Fox16.com reported that a passerby recognized him outside a Subway restaurant in West Little Rock and chased him into an apartment complex along with a group of other men. Lewis was hiding in a manager’s office when he was apprehended, police said.

It is not clear how investigators initially connected Lewis to the case. According to the sheriff’s office, Lewis was questioned for more than 12 hours Monday. Lewis admitted to kidnapping Carter, but did not divulge her whereabouts. At some point Monday, investigators received a tip leading them to the address where she was found.

Pulaski County Lt. Carl Minden said that Lewis was on parole until 2017 for previous convictions in northwest Arkansas. He did not reveal whether Lewis was the client Carter was planning to meet.

Police said Carter’s purse was found in her vehicle outside the home Friday and the door to the residence she was showing was left open. Detectives believe Carter was taken from the home.

Carl Carter, her husband, told First Coast News that he received a text from Beverly around 1 a.m. Friday, the morning after her disappearance.

But he said the message didn’t sound like her at all.

“All of a sudden I received three texts in a row. One said ‘Yes.’… Then she sent another text that said, ‘My phone’s low. The battery’s down, and I’ll call you whenever I get signal.’ …And, then, straight back-to-back, I received a text that said ‘Oh, I’m out drinking with some friends,'” he told the station. “Beverly’s not a drinker.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Click for more from Fox16.com.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/09/30/body-missing-arkansas-realtor-discovered-in-shallow-grave/

Secret Service head in spotlight after ‘catastrophic’ White House breach

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson will face questions about how an armed intruder jumped the White House fence and made it as far as the East Room when she testifies before a House committee on Tuesday. 

Sources confirmed to Fox News on Monday that 42-year-old Omar Gonzalez overpowered a Secret Service officer in the Sept. 19 incident — this led to a struggle and “wrestling” inside the executive mansion as he darted through. Gonzalez was eventually tackled by a counter-assault agent in the East Room after he reached the doorway to the Green Room, a parlor overlooking the South Lawn. 

The revelation that the intruder made it much farther than originally known came on the eve of a scheduled House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing that will address the breach, as well as lawmakers’ “concerns” about the Secret Service’s security protocols. 

A series of what one source called “catastrophic” security failures apparently allowed the intruder to get deep into the White House. 

The Secret Service did not follow basic protocols during the incident to protect the White House, the president and the first family and the agency still does not know why, a source intimately familiar with details of the investigation told Fox News. 

For example, the Secret Service didn’t lock down certain areas of the property and did not elevate the threat level at the White House so that other uniformed officers and agents would know what was happening, which is a standard response.

“This was a catastrophic failure when the President was not there. What if the president was there?” the source, a longtime Secret Service insider, added. “It turns out that basic functions in place to avoid this were never initiated.” 

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who chairs a House subcommittee on national security oversight, also told CNN that whistleblowers had informed his panel of the breach. 

Additionally, an alarm box near the front entrance of the White House that is designed to alert guards to an intruder had been muted at what officers believed was a request of the usher’s office, an official told The Washington Post.

An officer posted inside the front door also appeared to be delayed in learning that Gonzalez was about to burst through, according to the Post. Officers are trained to immediately lock the front door once an intruder is spotted on the grounds.

A Secret Service Uniformed Division officer then “misreported” how far the intruder got into the White House to management in order to downplay the impact of the initial failure. 

The officer in question told management that the intruder “never got through the vestibule” of the North Portico, which turned out to be false, a source said.

Secret Service spokeswoman Nicole Mainor told Fox News that the agency would not comment on the revelations, citing the ongoing investigation.

The Secret Service has been having high-level meetings to address the breach, the latest in a series of embarrassing scandals for the agency since a 2012 prostitution scandal erupted during a presidential visit to Colombia.

The Post reported over the weekend that the Secret Service did not immediately respond to shots fired at the White House in 2011, amid what the agency describes as uncertainty about where the shots originated. Four days later, it was discovered that at least one of the shots broke the glass of a window on the third level of the mansion, the Secret Service said.

At the time of the 2011 breach, the president and first lady Michelle Obama were away, but their daughters were in Washington — one home and the other due to return that night.

Oscar R. Ortega-Hernandez of Idaho has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for the 2011 incident.

“The president and the first lady, like all parents, are concerned about the safety of their children, but the president and first lady also have confidence in the men and women of the Secret Service to do a very important job, which is to protect the first family, to protect the White House, but also protect the ability of tourists and members of the public to conduct their business or even tour the White House,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Monday.

After the most recent breach, Pierson ordered a review of the incident and possible changes to security measures at and around the White House. She briefed the president on Thursday.

“The president is interested in the review that they are conducting, and I would anticipate that he’ll review whatever it is they — whatever reforms and recommendations they settle upon,” Earnest said of the Secret Service’s internal review.

Secret Service officers who spotted Gonzalez scaling the fence quickly assessed that he didn’t have any weapons in his hands and wasn’t wearing clothing that could conceal substantial quantities of explosives, a primary reason agents did not fire their weapons, according to a U.S. official briefed on the investigation.

Gonzalez was on the Secret Service radar as early as July when state troopers arrested him during a traffic stop in southwest Virginia. State troopers there said Gonzalez had an illegal sawed-off shotgun and a map of Washington tucked inside a Bible with a circle around the White House, other monuments and campgrounds. The troopers seized a stash of other weapons and ammunition found during a search of Gonzalez’s car after his arrest.

The Secret Service interviewed Gonzalez in July, but had nothing with which to hold him. Gonzalez was released on bail. Then, on Aug. 25, Gonzalez was stopped and questioned again while he was walking along the south fence of the White House. He had a hatchet, but no firearms. His car was searched, but he was not arrested.

“There’s a misperception out there that we have some broad detention powers,” Ed Donovan, a Secret Service spokesman, said. The Secret Service, like other law enforcement agencies, must have evidence of criminal behavior in order to file charges against someone. “Just because we have a concern about someone doesn’t mean we can interview or arrest them or put them in a mental health facility,” Donovan said.

Click here for more from the Washington Post.

Fox News’ Ed Henry, Lesa Jansen, Mike Emanuel, Chad Pergram and Wes Barrett and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/09/30/white-house-intruder-made-it-to-east-room-officials-say/

HONG KONG DIGS IN Democracy protesters give deadline for demands

Hong Kong’s chief executive urged pro-democracy protesters to stop their campaign “immediately” Tuesday after demonstrators gave the Chinese government a Wednesday deadline to meet their demands for political reforms.

Leung Chun-ying said that Beijing would not reverse its earlier decision to hand-pick eligible candidates to lead the former British colony, which became part of China in 1997.

“I don’t believe that the continued use of illegal activities will compel the Chinese government to reverse the… ruling by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee,” said Leung, who also rejected calls from the protesters to step down.

“Any personnel change before the implementation of universal suffrage is achieved would only allow Hong Kong to continue to pick its leader under the Election Committee model,” he added.

The protesters want a reversal of a decision by China’s government in August that a pro-Beijing panel will screen all candidates in the territory’s first direct elections, scheduled for 2017 — a move they view as reneging on a promise that the chief executive will be chosen through “universal suffrage.”

Occupy Central, a wider civil disobedience movement, said in a tweet that the deadline set by the pro-democracy protesters includes a demand for genuine democracy and for Leung’s resignation. It said it would “announce new civil disobedience plans same day,” without elaborating.

“If Leung Chun-ying doesn’t come out to Civic Square before midnight … then I believe inevitably more people will come out onto the streets,” said Alex Chow, secretary general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, the organizer of the university class boycotts that led to the street protests.

Chow said the students were considering various options, including widening the protests, pushing for a labor strike and possibly occupying a government building.

Leung addressed the group directly in his media briefing Tuesday, saying “Occupy Central founders had said repeatedly that if the movement is getting out of control, they would call for it to stop.  I’m now asking them to fulfill the promise they made to society, and stop this campaign immediately.”

China’s government takes a hard line against any threat to its monopoly on power and has condemned the protests as illegal. So far, however, it has not overtly intervened, leaving Hong Kong authorities to handle the situation under the “one country, two systems” arrangement that guaranteed the former British colony separate legal and economic systems and Western-style civil liberties after China took control in 1997.

Hong Kong’s free press and social media give the protesters exposure that may help prevent China from cracking down in the same way it has on restive minorities and dissidents living in the mainland, where public dissent is often harshly punished.

Even larger crowds are expected to flood the streets Wednesday, China’s National Day holiday. The government said it was canceling a fireworks display planned to celebrate the day, which marks the 1949 founding of the People’s Republic of China.

One day after police shocked the city by firing tear gas at crowds, the protesters were peaceful on Monday night, singing as they blocked streets in several parts of Hong Kong. They also staged a brief “mobile light” vigil, waving their glowing cell. Crowds chanted calls for Leung to resign, and sang anthems calling for freedom.

Police arrested a man who drove his Mercedes-Benz through a crowd of protesters occupying a street in the densely populated Kowloon neighborhood of Mong Kok. Local television footage showed people scrambling as the car sped through the crowd while honking just before 2 a.m. No one was injured.

Despite Leung’s urgings that they disperse, thousands of people — many of them university and high school students, some doing homework — gathered on a six-lane highway Tuesday next to the local government headquarters.

“We are not afraid of riot police, we are not afraid of tear gas, we are not afraid of pepper spray. We will not leave until Leung Chun-ying resigns. We will not give up, we will persevere until the end,” Lester Shum, another student leader, shouted to a swelling crowd at Admiralty, near Hong Kong’s waterfront.

Officials announced that schools in some districts of Hong Kong would remain closed Tuesday because of safety concerns, while dozens of bus routes were canceled and some subway stops near protest areas were closed.

The protests have been dubbed the “Umbrella Revolution” by some, because the crowds have used umbrellas to not only block the sun, but also to stop the police from hitting them with pepper spray. Political slogans calling for freedom have also been written on the umbrellas.

Many younger Hong Kong residents raised in an era of plenty and with no experience of past political turmoil in mainland China have higher expectations. Under an agreement set in 1984, before most of them were born, Beijing promised to allow Hong Kong residents civil liberties — unseen in the rest of China — after it took control of the city.

Across the border, Chinese state media have provided scant coverage of the protests beyond noting that an illegal gathering spun out of control and was being curtailed by police.

The protests began a week ago with a class boycott by university and college students demanding reforms of the local legislature and a withdrawal of Beijing’s requirement that election candidates be screened. Leaders of the broader Occupy Central civil disobedience movement joined the protesters early Sunday, saying they wanted to kick-start a long-threatened mass sit-in demanding Hong Kong’s top leader be elected without Beijing’s interference.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/09/30/hong-kong-leader-tells-pro-democracy-protesters-to-stop-campaign-immediately/

Secret Service head in spotlight after ‘catastrophic’ White House breach

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson will face questions about how an armed intruder jumped the White House fence and made it as far as the East Room when she testifies before a House committee on Tuesday. 

Sources confirmed to Fox News on Monday that 42-year-old Omar Gonzalez overpowered a Secret Service officer in the Sept. 19 incident before a struggle and “wrestling” inside the executive mansion ensued. Gonzalez was eventually tackled by a counter-assault agent in the East Room after he reached the doorway to the Green Room, a parlor overlooking the South Lawn. 

The revelation that the intruder made it much farther than originally known came on the eve of a scheduled House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing that will address the breach, as well as lawmakers’ “concerns” about the Secret Service’s security protocols. 

A series of what one source called “catastrophic” security failures apparently allowed the intruder to get deep into the White House. 

The Secret Service did not follow basic protocols during the incident to protect the White House, the president and the first family and the agency still does not know why, a source intimately familiar with details of the investigation told Fox News. 

For example, the Secret Service didn’t lock down certain areas of the property and did not elevate the threat level at the White House so that other uniformed officers and agents would know what was happening, which is a standard response.

“This was a catastrophic failure when the President was not there. What if the president was there?” the source, a longtime Secret Service insider, added. “It turns out that basic functions in place to avoid this were never initiated.” 

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who chairs a House subcommittee on national security oversight, also told CNN that whistleblowers had informed his panel of the breach. 

Additionally, an alarm box near the front entrance of the White House that is designed to alert guards to an intruder had been muted at what officers believed was a request of the usher’s office, an official told The Washington Post.

An officer posted inside the front door also appeared to be delayed in learning that Gonzalez was about to burst through, according to the Post. Officers are trained to immediately lock the front door once an intruder is spotted on the grounds.

A Secret Service Uniformed Division officer then “misreported” how far the intruder got into the White House to management in order to downplay the impact of the initial failure. 

The officer in question told management that the intruder “never got through the vestibule” of the North Portico, which turned out to be false, a source said.

Secret Service spokeswoman Nicole Mainor told Fox News that the agency would not comment on the revelations, citing the ongoing investigation.

The Secret Service has been having high-level meetings to address the breach, the latest in a series of embarrassing scandals for the agency since a 2012 prostitution scandal erupted during a presidential visit to Colombia.

The Post reported over the weekend that the Secret Service did not immediately respond to shots fired at the White House in 2011, amid what the agency describes as uncertainty about where the shots originated. Four days later, it was discovered that at least one of the shots broke the glass of a window on the third level of the mansion, the Secret Service said.

At the time of the 2011 breach, the president and first lady Michelle Obama were away, but their daughters were in Washington — one home and the other due to return that night.

Oscar R. Ortega-Hernandez of Idaho has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for the 2011 incident.

“The president and the first lady, like all parents, are concerned about the safety of their children, but the president and first lady also have confidence in the men and women of the Secret Service to do a very important job, which is to protect the first family, to protect the White House, but also protect the ability of tourists and members of the public to conduct their business or even tour the White House,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Monday.

After the most recent breach, Pierson ordered a review of the incident and possible changes to security measures at and around the White House. She briefed the president on Thursday.

“The president is interested in the review that they are conducting, and I would anticipate that he’ll review whatever it is they — whatever reforms and recommendations they settle upon,” Earnest said of the Secret Service’s internal review.

Secret Service officers who spotted Gonzalez scaling the fence quickly assessed that he didn’t have any weapons in his hands and wasn’t wearing clothing that could conceal substantial quantities of explosives, a primary reason agents did not fire their weapons, according to a U.S. official briefed on the investigation.

Gonzalez was on the Secret Service radar as early as July when state troopers arrested him during a traffic stop in southwest Virginia. State troopers there said Gonzalez had an illegal sawed-off shotgun and a map of Washington tucked inside a Bible with a circle around the White House, other monuments and campgrounds. The troopers seized a stash of other weapons and ammunition found during a search of Gonzalez’s car after his arrest.

The Secret Service interviewed Gonzalez in July, but had nothing with which to hold him. Gonzalez was released on bail. Then, on Aug. 25, Gonzalez was stopped and questioned again while he was walking along the south fence of the White House. He had a hatchet, but no firearms. His car was searched, but he was not arrested.

“There’s a misperception out there that we have some broad detention powers,” Ed Donovan, a Secret Service spokesman, said. The Secret Service, like other law enforcement agencies, must have evidence of criminal behavior in order to file charges against someone. “Just because we have a concern about someone doesn’t mean we can interview or arrest them or put them in a mental health facility,” Donovan said.

Click here for more from the Washington Post.

Fox News’ Ed Henry, Lesa Jansen, Mike Emanuel, Chad Pergram and Wes Barrett and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/09/30/white-house-intruder-made-it-to-east-room-officials-say/

Secret Service head in spotlight after ‘catastrophic’ White House breach

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson will face questions about how an armed intruder jumped the White House fence and made it as far as the East Room when she testifies before a House committee Tuesday. 

Sources told Fox News Monday that 42-year-old Omar Gonzalez, overpowered a Secret Service officer in the Sept. 19 incident before a struggle and “wrestling” inside the executive mansion ensued. Gonzalez was eventually tackled by a counter-assault agent in the East Room after he reached the doorway to the Green Room, a parlor overlooking the South Lawn. 

The revelation came on the eve of a scheduled House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing that will address the breach, as well as lawmakers’ “concerns” about the Secret Service’s security protocols. 

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who chairs a House subcommittee on national security oversight, also confirmed to CNN that whistleblowers had informed his panel of the breach.

A series of what one source called “catastrophic” security failures apparently allowed the intruder to get deep into the White House. 

The Secret Service did not follow basic protocols during the incident to protect the White House, the president and the first family and the agency still does not know why, a source intimately familiar with details of the investigation told Fox News. 

For example, the Secret Service didn’t lock down certain areas of the property and did not elevate the threat level at the White House so that other uniformed officers and agents would know what was happening, which is a standard response.

“This was a catastrophic failure when the President was NOT there. What if the president WAS there?” the source, a longtime Secret Service insider, added. “It turns out that basic functions in place to avoid this were never initiated.”

Additionally, an alarm box near the front entrance of the White House that is designed to alert guards to an intruder had been muted at what officers believed was a request of the usher’s office, an official told The Washington Post.

An officer posted inside the front door also appeared to be delayed in learning that Gonzalez was about to burst through, according to the Post. Officers are trained to immediately lock the front door once an intruder is spotted on the grounds.

A Secret Service Uniformed Division officer then “misreported” how far the intruder got into the White House to management in order to downplay the impact of the initial failure. 

The officer in question told management that the intruder “never got through the vestibule” of the North Portico, which turned out to be false, the source said.

Secret Service spokeswoman Nicole Mainor told Fox News that the agency would not comment on the revelations, citing the ongoing investigation.

The Secret Service has been having high-level meetings to address the breach, the latest in a series of embarrassing scandals for the agency since a 2012 prostitution scandal erupted during a presidential visit to Colombia.

The Post reported over the weekend that the Secret Service did not immediately respond to shots fired at the White House in 2011, amid what the agency describes as uncertainty about where the shots originated. Four days later, it was discovered that at least one of the shots broke the glass of a window on the third level of the mansion, the Secret Service said.

At the time of the 2011 breach, the president and first lady Michelle Obama were away, but their daughters were in Washington — one home and the other due to return that night.

Oscar R. Ortega-Hernandez of Idaho has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for the 2011 incident.

“The president and the first lady, like all parents, are concerned about the safety of their children, but the president and first lady also have confidence in the men and women of the Secret Service to do a very important job, which is to protect the first family, to protect the White House, but also protect the ability of tourists and members of the public to conduct their business or even tour the White House,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Monday.

After the most recent breach, Pierson ordered a review of the incident and possible changes to security measures at and around the White House. She briefed the president on Thursday.

“The president is interested in the review that they are conducting, and I would anticipate that he’ll review whatever it is they — whatever reforms and recommendations they settle upon,” Earnest said of the Secret Service’s internal review.

Secret Service officers who spotted Gonzalez scaling the fence quickly assessed that he didn’t have any weapons in his hands and wasn’t wearing clothing that could conceal substantial quantities of explosives, a primary reason agents did not fire their weapons, according to a U.S. official briefed on the investigation.

Gonzalez was on the Secret Service radar as early as July when state troopers arrested him during a traffic stop in southwest Virginia. State troopers there said Gonzalez had an illegal sawed-off shotgun and a map of Washington tucked inside a Bible with a circle around the White House, other monuments and campgrounds. The troopers seized a stash of other weapons and ammunition found during a search of Gonzalez’s car after his arrest.

The Secret Service interviewed Gonzalez in July, but had nothing with which to hold him. Gonzalez was released on bail. Then, on Aug. 25, Gonzalez was stopped and questioned again while he was walking along the south fence of the White House. He had a hatchet, but no firearms. His car was searched, but he was not arrested.

“There’s a misperception out there that we have some broad detention powers,” Ed Donovan, a Secret Service spokesman, said. The Secret Service, like other law enforcement agencies, must have evidence of criminal behavior in order to file charges against someone. “Just because we have a concern about someone doesn’t mean we can interview or arrest them or put them in a mental health facility,” Donovan said.

Click here for more from the Washington Post.

Fox News’ Ed Henry, Lesa Jansen, Mike Emanuel, Chad Pergram and Wes Barrett and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/09/30/white-house-intruder-made-it-to-east-room-officials-say/

FIGHT FOR DEMOCRACY Hong Kong leader tells protesters to go home

Hong Kong’s chief executive urged pro-democracy protesters to stop their campaign “immediately” Tuesday after demonstrators gave the Chinese government a Wednesday deadline to meet their demands for political reforms. 

Leung Chun-ying said that Beijing would not reverse its earlier decision to hand-pick eligible candidates to lead the former British colony, which only became part of China in 1997. 

“I don’t believe that the continued use of illegal activities will compel the Chinese government to reverse the…ruling by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee,” said Leung, who also rejected calls from the protesters to step down, saying “Any personnel change before the implementation of universal suffrage is achieved would only allow Hong Kong to continue to pick its leader under the Election Committee model.”

Earlier Tuesday, the pro-democracy Occupy Central announced the October 1 deadline for reforms to be implemented, including Leung’s resignation. The group added that it would “announce new civil disobedience plans same day.”

Leung addressed the group directly in his media briefing Tuesday, saying “Occupy Central founders had said repeatedly that if the movement is getting out of control, they would call for it to stop. I’m now asking them to fulfil the promise they made to society, and stop this campaign immediately.”

Wednesday is is a holiday for China’s National Day, and even larger crowds are expected to flood the streets. The government said it was canceling a fireworks display planned to celebrate the National Day, which marks the 1949 founding of the People’s Republic of China. 

China’s decision last month to allow a committee of mostly pro-Beijing tycoons to select the candidates is viewed by many residents as reneging on promises to allow greater democracy in the semi-autonomous territory, since Beijing had promised that the chief executive would eventually be chosen through “universal suffrage.”

One day after police shocked the city by firing tear gas at the crowds, the protesters passed a peaceful night Monday singing as the blocked streets in several parts of Hong Kong. They also staged a brief “mobile light” vigil, waving their glowing cell phones as the protests stretched into their fourth day. Crowds chanted calls for Leung to resign, and sang anthems calling for freedom.

Police arrested a man who drove his Mercedes-Benz through a crowd of protesters occupying a street in the densely populated Kowloon neighborhood of Mong Kok. Local television footage showed people scrambling as the car sped through the crowd while honking just before 2 a.m. No one was injured.

;By Tuesday morning, the crowd, mostly students, continued to occupy a six-lane highway next to the local government headquarters. The encampment was also edging closer to the heart of the city’s financial district.

Police said they used 87 rounds of tear gas Sunday in what they called a necessary but restrained response to protesters pushing through cordons and barricades. They said 41 people were injured, including 12 police officers.

“Police cordon lines were heavily charged by some violent protesters. So police had to use the minimum force in order to separate the distance at that moment between the protesters and also the police,” said Cheung Tak-keung, the assistant police commissioner for operations.

The atmosphere was more festive Monday as constantly shifting crowds blocked major roads. People moved in and out of the sit-ins, some bringing in food and drink while others fetched their own. Some high school students, still in their school uniforms, sat on the pavement doing their homework.

“It’s already the fourth day, so it’s really tiring,” said Ching-ching Tse, a 24-year-old student at the Chinese University of Hong Kong who was on her second day of collecting trash in the protest area with her friends. “So we are forming some groups and hope we can do some shifts and take turns.”

Officials announced that schools in some districts of Hong Kong would remain closed Tuesday because of safety concerns, while dozens of bus routes were canceled and some subway stops near protest areas were closed.

The protests have been dubbed the “Umbrella Revolution” by some, because the crowds have used umbrellas to not only block the sun, but also to stop the police from hitting them with pepper spray. Political slogans calling for freedom have also been written on the umbrellas.

Many younger Hong Kong residents raised in an era of plenty and with no experience of past political turmoil in mainland China have higher expectations. Under an agreement set in 1984, before most of them were born, Beijing promised to allow Hong Kong residents civil liberties — unseen in the rest of China — after it took control of the city.

China’s communist leaders take a hard line against any threat to their monopoly on power, including clamping down on dissidents and Muslim Uighur separatists in the country’s far west, but it cannot crack down too harshly on the semi-autonomous territory where a freewheeling media ensures global visibility.

Across the border, Chinese state media have provided scant coverage of the protests beyond noting that an illegal gathering spun out of control and was being curtailed by police.

The protests began a week ago with a class boycott by university and college students demanding reforms of the local legislature and a withdrawal of Beijing’s requirement that election candidates be screened. Leaders of the broader Occupy Central civil disobedience movement joined the protesters early Sunday, saying they wanted to kick-start a long-threatened mass sit-in demanding Hong Kong’s top leader be elected without Beijing’s interference.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/09/30/hong-kong-leader-tells-pro-democracy-protesters-to-stop-campaign-immediately/

VANISHING MONEY Over 50 tax breaks to end unless Congress acts

Tax_breaks2.jpg

FILE: October 3, 2013. A woman connects the nozzle of a home refueling station to her 2003 natural gas powered Honda Civic, Chandler, Ariz. (REUTERS)

Time is running out for Congress to extend more than 50 tax breaks worth nearly $85 billion, including popular ones for college expenses and energy-efficient appliances. 

Democrats and Republicans have shown a willingness to extend the tax breaks — including some that expired in 2013. But the midterm elections largely have brought to a standstill votes on such major issues as taxes and immigration and even military action against the Islamic State. 

Among the expiring breaks is a benefit enjoyed in the seven states that do not have an income tax. Taxpayers in those states have been allowed by Congress for years to deduct state and local sales tax instead. According to the Dallas Morning News, more than 2 million filers in Texas — one such state with no income tax — used the deduction in 2012, for an average benefit of $1,906. 

But if Congress doesn’t extend it, the deduction goes away. 

This spring, the Senate Finance Committee passed a bill to extend through 2015 nine tax credits, deductions or exemptions that expired in 2013 — and 26 more that will expire at the end of year.

The legislation has widespread bipartisan support, but Republicans kept it from getting a final vote when denied the opportunity to have their amendments considered.

“I support the tax extenders legislation. I want to see it passed,” Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, the top Republican on the finance committee, said afterward. “I don’t want to speak for anyone else, but I suspect that the majority of Senate Republicans feel the same way.” 

It remains to be seen whether lawmakers would be more amenable to extending at least some of the breaks after the election, and before a new Congress is sworn in. A Senate staffer told FoxNews.com on Monday the fate of the bill during the lame-duck session rests on the shoulders of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. 

In the Republican-controlled House, the Ways and Means Committee has voted in favor of extending 14 of the 50-plus tax breaks, making 12 of them permanent.

But nothing appears headed for a full floor vote yet, in large part because the so-called “breaks” result in less revenue for the Treasury Department and an increase to the deficit — like the projected $84.1 billion the Senate bill would add if passed in full. 

A House staffer said Monday a vote that in effect increases the deficit would be especially difficult in that chamber because every member is up for re-election, and especially hard for Republicans running as hardline fiscal conservatives.

The chamber’s Joint Committee on Taxation has identified 79 expired or expiring federal tax provisions from 2013 to 2023.  

Beyond the ones for college tuition and energy efficiency, the list includes the popular deductions for expenses for school teachers, mass transit, mortgage-insurance premiums and for the use of alternative fuels and the vehicles that run on them.

Congress has talked for years about comprehensive tax reform, essentially by implementing a major overhaul to simplify the U.S. tax code. But such a task is complicated and politically perilous. 

In March, House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., produced a sweeping tax-reform plan that would create just two tax brackets and lower the corporate tax rate by 25 percent without increasing the deficit, a plan lawmakers call “revenue neutral.”

However, the plan went nowhere with Republican leaders in part because it covered the lost tax revenue by capping or eliminating tax credits and deductions.

House Speaker John Boehner, when asked about the details of the Camp plan at the time, responded in part by saying “blah, blah, blah.”

Still, supporters of tax reform hope the desire to make changes is being stoked by the recent debate over U.S. corporations establishing overseas headquarters to avoid taxes. The Treasury Department imposed new regulations earlier this month to make it harder for corporations to pull off the so-called “inversions.”

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/09/30/dozens-tax-breaks-set-to-expire-unless-congress-votes-for-extenders-in-lame/

TRACY MORGAN CRASH Wal-Mart claims comic wasn’t wearing his seatbelt

Tracy Morgan Accident_Cham640093014.jpg

FILE – In this April 9, 2014 file photo, actor Tracy Morgan attends the FX Networks Upfront premiere screening of ‘Fargo’ at the SVA Theater in New York. (Photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP, File)

Actor-comedian Tracy Morgan and other people in a limousine struck from behind by a Wal-Mart truck on a highway in June are at least partly to blame for their injuries because they weren’t wearing seatbelts, the company said in a court filing Monday.

The filing was made in federal court in response to a lawsuit Morgan filed in July over the accident, which killed his friend James McNair, who was accompanying the former “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock” star back from a show in Delaware. Morgan spent several weeks in rehab with rib and leg injuries.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., based in Bentonville, Arkansas, said in the filing that the passengers’ injuries were caused “in whole or in part” by their “failure to properly wear an appropriate available seatbelt restraint device,” which it said constitutes unreasonable conduct.

An attorney representing Morgan and the other plaintiffs called Wal-Mart’s contentions “surprising and appalling.”

“It’s disingenuous,” attorney Benedict Morelli said. “It’s not what they said they were going to do initially, which was take full responsibility. I’m very upset, not for myself but for the families I represent.”

The lawsuit seeks a jury trial and punitive and compensatory damages. It says the retail giant should have known that its truck driver had been awake for more than 24 hours before the crash and that his commute of 700 miles from his home in Georgia to work in Delaware was “unreasonable.” It also alleges the driver fell asleep at the wheel.

Wal-Mart spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan said in an email that the company “continues to stand willing to work with Mr. Morgan and the other plaintiffs to resolve this matter.”

Passengers Ardley Fuqua and Jeffrey Millea and Millea’s wife, Krista Millea, also are named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Krista Millea was not in the limousine when the crash occurred but is a plaintiff because she has a related loss-of-services lawsuit stemming from the crash.

Truck driver Kevin Roper, of Jonesboro, Georgia, pleaded not guilty to death by auto and assault by auto charges in state court. A criminal complaint also accuses him of not sleeping for more than 24 hours before the crash, a violation of New Jersey law.

A report by federal transportation safety investigators said Roper was driving 65 mph in the minute before he slammed into the limo van. The speed limit on that stretch of the New Jersey Turnpike is 55 mph and was lowered to 45 mph that night because of construction.

Roper had been on the job about 13 1/2 hours at the time of the crash, the report concluded. Federal rules permit truck drivers to work up to 14 hours a day, with a maximum of 11 hours behind the wheel.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2014/09/30/wal-mart-claims-tracy-morgan-fellow-passengers-werent-wearing-seatbelts-in/

‘GOODBYE, DEAR MUM’ Reports: Iranian set to die for would-be rapist’s killing

jabbari.jpg

Rayhaneh Jabbari faces execution in Iran on Tuesday, seven years after being sentenced to death for allegedly stabbing a man she says tried to rape her.

An Iranian woman sentenced to death for killing a man who tried to rape her told her mother goodbye and prepared to die, even as the Islamic republic’s president was meeting with world leaders at the United Nations.

Rayhaneh Jabbari, 26, is set to be executed Tuesday, according to reports from Iran. On Monday, her mother, Shole Paravan, recounted on her Facebook page an emotional farewell call her daughter made when a sympathetic guard loaned her a cellphone before she was taken to Rajaiy Shahr Prison to be hanged.

“I am currently handcuffed and there is a car waiting outside to take me for the execution of the sentence,” Jabbari told her mother, whose recounting in Farsi was translated by FoxNews.com. “Goodbye, dear Mum. All of my pains will finish early tomorrow morning. I’m sorry I cannot lessen your pain. Be patient. We believe in life after death. I’ll see you in the next world and I will never leave you again because being separated from you is the most difficult thing to do in the world.”

“I am currently handcuffed and there is a car waiting outside to take me for the execution of the sentence.”

- Rayhaneh Jabbari

The distraught mother wrote that she called the prison to ask what she could do and was told to come Tuesday to collect her daughter’s body.

In April, a court postponed Jabbari’s execution in the face of heavy international outcry, including an international petition with nearly 200,000 signatures. But the grim news that the sentence will soon be carried out came as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, trying to put a moderate face on the regime.

Supporters of Rouhani hoped his election last year would usher in a more tolerant era than the one of his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, particularly regarding human rights. But advocacy groups say the number of executions and violations have increased.

“This abhorrent execution must not be allowed to take place, particularly when there are serious doubts about the circumstances of the killing,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa deputy director at Amnesty International. “Instead of continuing to execute people, authorities in Iran should reform their judicial system, which dangerously relies on processes which fail to meet international law and standards for fair trial.”

Jabbari, who worked as a decorator, was convicted of the 2007 fatal stabbing of Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi, a former employee of the Iranian Intelligence Ministry. Jabbari, who was 19 at the time, has long maintained Sarbandi drugged her and tried to rape her after the two met at a café and she agreed to go to his office to discuss a business deal.

Sarbandi took Jabbari to a rundown building in a remote location, according to her supporters. Once there, he offered her a fruit drink which forensic tests conducted by the police determined contained a date-rape drug, according to human rights advocates.

Jabbari allegedly stabbed Sarbandi in the shoulder with a small pocket knife and fled, while Sarbandi bled to death.

Human rights advocates say the case shows the brutality and intolerance of Iran’s penal system.

“She has been tortured in so many ways in prison. They may have pressured her to confess,” said Shabnam Assadollahi, an Iranian activist based in Canada.

“This is a verdict of “Ghessas” ["an eye for an eye"], but the details of the case don’t make sense,” Assadollhai said.

Jabbari’s family and advocates, including Assadollahi, have pointed to the fact that a small pocket knife and two stabs in the shoulder would not result in fatal consequences for a large man, which is how Sarbandi was described. They say her confession was coerced with torture.

They believe someone else killed Sarbandi and that Jabbari was set up. There is also speculation that there may have been interference in the case and that crucial evidence that would potentially save Jabbari’s life was either tampered with or destroyed.

Lisa Daftari is a Fox News contributor specializing in Middle Eastern affairs.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/09/29/iran-set-to-execute-woman-accused-killing-attempted-rapist/

Hong Kong leader digs in, tells protesters to go home ‘immediately’

Hong Kong’s chief executive urged pro-democracy protesters to stop their campaign “immediately” Tuesday after demonstrators gave the Chinese government a Wednesday deadline to meet their demands for political reforms. 

Leung Chun-ying said that Beijing would not reverse its earlier decision to hand-pick eligible candidates to lead the former British colony, which only became part of China in 1997. 

“I don’t believe that the continued use of illegal activities will compel the Chinese government to reverse the…ruling by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee,” said Leung, who also rejected calls from the protesters to step down, saying “Any personnel change before the implementation of universal suffrage is achieved would only allow Hong Kong to continue to pick its leader under the Election Committee model.”

Earlier Tuesday, the pro-democracy Occupy Central announced the October 1 deadline for reforms to be implemented, including Leung’s resignation. The group added that it would “announce new civil disobedience plans same day.”

Leung addressed the group directly in his media briefing Tuesday, saying “Occupy Central founders had said repeatedly that if the movement is getting out of control, they would call for it to stop. I’m now asking them to fulfil the promise they made to society, and stop this campaign immediately.”

Wednesday is is a holiday for China’s National Day, and even larger crowds are expected to flood the streets. The government said it was canceling a fireworks display planned to celebrate the National Day, which marks the 1949 founding of the People’s Republic of China. 

China’s decision last month to allow a committee of mostly pro-Beijing tycoons to select the candidates is viewed by many residents as reneging on promises to allow greater democracy in the semi-autonomous territory, since Beijing had promised that the chief executive would eventually be chosen through “universal suffrage.”

One day after police shocked the city by firing tear gas at the crowds, the protesters passed a peaceful night Monday singing as the blocked streets in several parts of Hong Kong. They also staged a brief “mobile light” vigil, waving their glowing cell phones as the protests stretched into their fourth day. Crowds chanted calls for Leung to resign, and sang anthems calling for freedom.

Police arrested a man who drove his Mercedes-Benz through a crowd of protesters occupying a street in the densely populated Kowloon neighborhood of Mong Kok. Local television footage showed people scrambling as the car sped through the crowd while honking just before 2 a.m. No one was injured.

;By Tuesday morning, the crowd, mostly students, continued to occupy a six-lane highway next to the local government headquarters. The encampment was also edging closer to the heart of the city’s financial district.

Police said they used 87 rounds of tear gas Sunday in what they called a necessary but restrained response to protesters pushing through cordons and barricades. They said 41 people were injured, including 12 police officers.

“Police cordon lines were heavily charged by some violent protesters. So police had to use the minimum force in order to separate the distance at that moment between the protesters and also the police,” said Cheung Tak-keung, the assistant police commissioner for operations.

The atmosphere was more festive Monday as constantly shifting crowds blocked major roads. People moved in and out of the sit-ins, some bringing in food and drink while others fetched their own. Some high school students, still in their school uniforms, sat on the pavement doing their homework.

“It’s already the fourth day, so it’s really tiring,” said Ching-ching Tse, a 24-year-old student at the Chinese University of Hong Kong who was on her second day of collecting trash in the protest area with her friends. “So we are forming some groups and hope we can do some shifts and take turns.”

Officials announced that schools in some districts of Hong Kong would remain closed Tuesday because of safety concerns, while dozens of bus routes were canceled and some subway stops near protest areas were closed.

The protests have been dubbed the “Umbrella Revolution” by some, because the crowds have used umbrellas to not only block the sun, but also to stop the police from hitting them with pepper spray. Political slogans calling for freedom have also been written on the umbrellas.

Many younger Hong Kong residents raised in an era of plenty and with no experience of past political turmoil in mainland China have higher expectations. Under an agreement set in 1984, before most of them were born, Beijing promised to allow Hong Kong residents civil liberties — unseen in the rest of China — after it took control of the city.

China’s communist leaders take a hard line against any threat to their monopoly on power, including clamping down on dissidents and Muslim Uighur separatists in the country’s far west, but it cannot crack down too harshly on the semi-autonomous territory where a freewheeling media ensures global visibility.

Across the border, Chinese state media have provided scant coverage of the protests beyond noting that an illegal gathering spun out of control and was being curtailed by police.

The protests began a week ago with a class boycott by university and college students demanding reforms of the local legislature and a withdrawal of Beijing’s requirement that election candidates be screened. Leaders of the broader Occupy Central civil disobedience movement joined the protesters early Sunday, saying they wanted to kick-start a long-threatened mass sit-in demanding Hong Kong’s top leader be elected without Beijing’s interference.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/09/30/hong-kong-leader-tells-pro-democracy-protesters-to-stop-campaign-immediately/

VANISHING MONEY Dozens of tax breaks to expire unless Congress acts

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FILE: October 3, 2013. A woman connects the nozzle of a home refueling station to her 2003 natural gas powered Honda Civic, Chandler, Ariz. (REUTERS)

Time is running out for Congress to extend more than 50 tax breaks worth nearly $85 billion, including popular ones for college expenses and energy-efficient appliances. 

Democrats and Republicans have shown a willingness to extend the tax breaks — including some that expired in 2013. But the midterm elections largely have brought to a standstill votes on such major issues as taxes and immigration and even military action against the Islamic State. 

Among the expiring breaks is a benefit enjoyed in the seven states that do not have an income tax. Taxpayers in those states have been allowed by Congress for years to deduct state and local sales tax instead. According to the Dallas Morning News, more than 2 million filers in Texas — one such state with no income tax — used the deduction in 2012, for an average benefit of $1,906. 

But if Congress doesn’t extend it, the deduction goes away. 

This spring, the Senate Finance Committee passed a bill to extend through 2015 nine tax credits, deductions or exemptions that expired in 2013 — and 26 more that will expire at the end of year.

The legislation has widespread bipartisan support, but Republicans kept it from getting a final vote when denied the opportunity to have their amendments considered.

“I support the tax extenders legislation. I want to see it passed,” Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, the top Republican on the finance committee, said afterward. “I don’t want to speak for anyone else, but I suspect that the majority of Senate Republicans feel the same way.” 

It remains to be seen whether lawmakers would be more amenable to extending at least some of the breaks after the election, and before a new Congress is sworn in. A Senate staffer told FoxNews.com on Monday the fate of the bill during the lame-duck session rests on the shoulders of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. 

In the Republican-controlled House, the Ways and Means Committee has voted in favor of extending 14 of the 50-plus tax breaks, making 12 of them permanent.

But nothing appears headed for a full floor vote yet, in large part because the so-called “breaks” result in less revenue for the Treasury Department and an increase to the deficit — like the projected $84.1 billion the Senate bill would add if passed in full. 

A House staffer said Monday a vote that in effect increases the deficit would be especially difficult in that chamber because every member is up for re-election, and especially hard for Republicans running as hardline fiscal conservatives.

The chamber’s Joint Committee on Taxation has identified 79 expired or expiring federal tax provisions from 2013 to 2023.  

Beyond the ones for college tuition and energy efficiency, the list includes the popular deductions for expenses for school teachers, mass transit, mortgage-insurance premiums and for the use of alternative fuels and the vehicles that run on them.

Congress has talked for years about comprehensive tax reform, essentially by implementing a major overhaul to simplify the U.S. tax code. But such a task is complicated and politically perilous. 

In March, House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., produced a sweeping tax-reform plan that would create just two tax brackets and lower the corporate tax rate by 25 percent without increasing the deficit, a plan lawmakers call “revenue neutral.”

However, the plan went nowhere with Republican leaders in part because it covered the lost tax revenue by capping or eliminating tax credits and deductions.

House Speaker John Boehner, when asked about the details of the Camp plan at the time, responded in part by saying “blah, blah, blah.”

Still, supporters of tax reform hope the desire to make changes is being stoked by the recent debate over U.S. corporations establishing overseas headquarters to avoid taxes. The Treasury Department imposed new regulations earlier this month to make it harder for corporations to pull off the so-called “inversions.”

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/09/30/dozens-tax-breaks-set-to-expire-unless-congress-votes-for-extenders-in-lame/

‘GOODBYE, DEAR MUM’ Iranian reportedly set to die for killing would-be rapist

jabbari.jpg

Rayhaneh Jabbari faces execution in Iran on Tuesday, seven years after being sentenced to death for allegedly stabbing a man she says tried to rape her.

An Iranian woman sentenced to death for killing a man who tried to rape her told her mother goodbye and prepared to die, even as the Islamic republic’s president was meeting with world leaders at the United Nations.

Rayhaneh Jabbari, 26, is set to be executed Tuesday, according to reports from Iran. On Monday, her mother, Shole Paravan, recounted on her Facebook page an emotional farewell call her daughter made when a sympathetic guard loaned her a cellphone before she was taken to Rajaiy Shahr Prison to be hanged.

“I am currently handcuffed and there is a car waiting outside to take me for the execution of the sentence,” Jabbari told her mother, whose recounting in Farsi was translated by FoxNews.com. “Goodbye, dear Mum. All of my pains will finish early tomorrow morning. I’m sorry I cannot lessen your pain. Be patient. We believe in life after death. I’ll see you in the next world and I will never leave you again because being separated from you is the most difficult thing to do in the world.”

“I am currently handcuffed and there is a car waiting outside to take me for the execution of the sentence.”

- Rayhaneh Jabbari

The distraught mother wrote that she called the prison to ask what she could do and was told to come Tuesday to collect her daughter’s body.

In April, a court postponed Jabbari’s execution in the face of heavy international outcry, including an international petition with nearly 200,000 signatures. But the grim news that the sentence will soon be carried out came as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, trying to put a moderate face on the regime.

Supporters of Rouhani hoped his election last year would usher in a more tolerant era than the one of his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, particularly regarding human rights. But advocacy groups say the number of executions and violations have increased.

“This abhorrent execution must not be allowed to take place, particularly when there are serious doubts about the circumstances of the killing,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa deputy director at Amnesty International. “Instead of continuing to execute people, authorities in Iran should reform their judicial system, which dangerously relies on processes which fail to meet international law and standards for fair trial.”

Jabbari, who worked as a decorator, was convicted of the 2007 fatal stabbing of Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi, a former employee of the Iranian Intelligence Ministry. Jabbari, who was 19 at the time, has long maintained Sarbandi drugged her and tried to rape her after the two met at a café and she agreed to go to his office to discuss a business deal.

Sarbandi took Jabbari to a rundown building in a remote location, according to her supporters. Once there, he offered her a fruit drink which forensic tests conducted by the police determined contained a date-rape drug, according to human rights advocates.

Jabbari allegedly stabbed Sarbandi in the shoulder with a small pocket knife and fled, while Sarbandi bled to death.

Human rights advocates say the case shows the brutality and intolerance of Iran’s penal system.

“She has been tortured in so many ways in prison. They may have pressured her to confess,” said Shabnam Assadollahi, an Iranian activist based in Canada.

“This is a verdict of “Ghessas” ["an eye for an eye"], but the details of the case don’t make sense,” Assadollhai said.

Jabbari’s family and advocates, including Assadollahi, have pointed to the fact that a small pocket knife and two stabs in the shoulder would not result in fatal consequences for a large man, which is how Sarbandi was described. They say her confession was coerced with torture.

They believe someone else killed Sarbandi and that Jabbari was set up. There is also speculation that there may have been interference in the case and that crucial evidence that would potentially save Jabbari’s life was either tampered with or destroyed.

Lisa Daftari is a Fox News contributor specializing in Middle Eastern affairs.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/09/29/iran-set-to-execute-woman-accused-killing-attempted-rapist/

TRACY MORGAN CRASH Wal-Mart claims comic wasn’t wearing his seatbelt

Tracy Morgan Accident_Cham640093014.jpg

FILE – In this April 9, 2014 file photo, actor Tracy Morgan attends the FX Networks Upfront premiere screening of ‘Fargo’ at the SVA Theater in New York. (Photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP, File)

Actor-comedian Tracy Morgan and other people in a limousine struck from behind by a Wal-Mart truck on a highway in June are at least partly to blame for their injuries because they weren’t wearing seatbelts, the company said in a court filing Monday.

The filing was made in federal court in response to a lawsuit Morgan filed in July over the accident, which killed his friend James McNair, who was accompanying the former “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock” star back from a show in Delaware. Morgan spent several weeks in rehab with rib and leg injuries.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., based in Bentonville, Arkansas, said in the filing that the passengers’ injuries were caused “in whole or in part” by their “failure to properly wear an appropriate available seatbelt restraint device,” which it said constitutes unreasonable conduct.

An attorney representing Morgan and the other plaintiffs called Wal-Mart’s contentions “surprising and appalling.”

“It’s disingenuous,” attorney Benedict Morelli said. “It’s not what they said they were going to do initially, which was take full responsibility. I’m very upset, not for myself but for the families I represent.”

The lawsuit seeks a jury trial and punitive and compensatory damages. It says the retail giant should have known that its truck driver had been awake for more than 24 hours before the crash and that his commute of 700 miles from his home in Georgia to work in Delaware was “unreasonable.” It also alleges the driver fell asleep at the wheel.

Wal-Mart spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan said in an email that the company “continues to stand willing to work with Mr. Morgan and the other plaintiffs to resolve this matter.”

Passengers Ardley Fuqua and Jeffrey Millea and Millea’s wife, Krista Millea, also are named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Krista Millea was not in the limousine when the crash occurred but is a plaintiff because she has a related loss-of-services lawsuit stemming from the crash.

Truck driver Kevin Roper, of Jonesboro, Georgia, pleaded not guilty to death by auto and assault by auto charges in state court. A criminal complaint also accuses him of not sleeping for more than 24 hours before the crash, a violation of New Jersey law.

A report by federal transportation safety investigators said Roper was driving 65 mph in the minute before he slammed into the limo van. The speed limit on that stretch of the New Jersey Turnpike is 55 mph and was lowered to 45 mph that night because of construction.

Roper had been on the job about 13 1/2 hours at the time of the crash, the report concluded. Federal rules permit truck drivers to work up to 14 hours a day, with a maximum of 11 hours behind the wheel.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2014/09/30/wal-mart-claims-tracy-morgan-fellow-passengers-werent-wearing-seatbelts-in/

Sources say White House intruder made it into East Room – VIDEO: New details in White House intruder case

The intruder who jumped the White House fence earlier this month and sprinted through the mansion’s front door made it much farther into the building than previously claimed, sources told Fox News on Monday.

The sources confirmed a Washington Post report that the alleged intruder, Omar J. Gonzalez, overpowered a Secret Service officer and made it into the East Room on Sept. 19. A struggle and “wrestling” inside the White House ensued. 

The revelation came on the eve of a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing to address the breach, at which Secret Service Director Julia Pierson was expected to testify. The Tuesday hearing will address lawmakers’ “concerns” about the Secret Service’s security protocols. 

Gonzalez, 42, who allegedly had a knife, was eventually tackled by a counter-assault agent in the East Room after he reached the doorway to the Green Room, a parlor overlooking the South Lawn. 

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who chairs a House subcommittee on national security oversight, also confirmed to CNN that whistleblowers had informed his panel of the breach.

A series of what one source called “catastrophic” security failures apparently allowed the intruder to get deep into the White House. 

The Secret Service did not follow basic protocols during the incident to protect the White House, the president and the first family and the agency still does not know why, a source intimately familiar with details of the investigation told Fox News. 

For example, the Secret Service didn’t lock down certain areas of the property and did not elevate the threat level at the White House so that other uniformed officers and agents would know what was happening, which is a standard response.

“This was a catastrophic failure when the President was NOT there. What if the president WAS there?” the source, a longtime Secret Service insider, added. “It turns out that basic functions in place to avoid this were never initiated.”

Additionally, an alarm box near the front entrance of the White House that is designed to alert guards to an intruder had been muted at what officers believed was a request of the usher’s office, an official told The Washington Post.

An officer posted inside the front door also appeared to be delayed in learning that Gonzalez was about to burst through, according to the Post. Officers are trained to immediately lock the front door once an intruder is spotted on the grounds.

A Secret Service Uniformed Division officer then “misreported” how far the intruder got into the White House to management in order to downplay the impact of the initial failure. 

The officer in question told management that the intruder “never got through the vestibule” of the North Portico, which turned out to be false, the source said.

Secret Service spokeswoman Nicole Mainor told Fox News that the agency would not comment on the revelations, citing the ongoing investigation.

The Secret Service has been having high-level meetings to address the breach, the latest in a series of embarrassing scandals for the agency since a 2012 prostitution scandal erupted during a presidential visit to Colombia.

The Post reported over the weekend that the Secret Service did not immediately respond to shots fired at the White House in 2011, amid what the agency describes as uncertainty about where the shots originated. Four days later, it was discovered that at least one of the shots broke the glass of a window on the third level of the mansion, the Secret Service said.

At the time of the 2011 breach, the president and first lady Michelle Obama were away, but their daughters were in Washington — one home and the other due to return that night.

Oscar R. Ortega-Hernandez of Idaho has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for the 2011 incident.

“The president and the first lady, like all parents, are concerned about the safety of their children, but the president and first lady also have confidence in the men and women of the Secret Service to do a very important job, which is to protect the first family, to protect the White House, but also protect the ability of tourists and members of the public to conduct their business or even tour the White House,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Monday.

After the Sept. 19 breach, Pierson ordered a review of the incident and possible changes to security measures at and around the White House. She briefed the president on Thursday.

“The president is interested in the review that they are conducting, and I would anticipate that he’ll review whatever it is they — whatever reforms and recommendations they settle upon,” Earnest said of the Secret Service’s internal review.

Secret Service officers who spotted Gonzalez scaling the fence quickly assessed that he didn’t have any weapons in his hands and wasn’t wearing clothing that could conceal substantial quantities of explosives, a primary reason agents did not fire their weapons, according to a U.S. official briefed on the investigation.

Gonzalez was on the Secret Service radar as early as July when state troopers arrested him during a traffic stop in southwest Virginia. State troopers there said Gonzalez had an illegal sawed-off shotgun and a map of Washington tucked inside a Bible with a circle around the White House, other monuments and campgrounds. The troopers seized a stash of other weapons and ammunition found during a search of Gonzalez’s car after his arrest.

The Secret Service interviewed Gonzalez in July, but had nothing with which to hold him. Gonzalez was released on bail. Then, on Aug. 25, Gonzalez was stopped and questioned again while he was walking along the south fence of the White House. He had a hatchet, but no firearms. His car was searched, but he was not arrested.

“There’s a misperception out there that we have some broad detention powers,” Ed Donovan, a Secret Service spokesman, said. The Secret Service, like other law enforcement agencies, must have evidence of criminal behavior in order to file charges against someone. “Just because we have a concern about someone doesn’t mean we can interview or arrest them or put them in a mental health facility,” Donovan said.

Click here for more from the Washington Post.

Fox News’ Ed Henry, Lesa Jansen, Mike Emanuel, Chad Pergram and Wes Barrett and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/09/29/white-house-intruder-made-it-to-east-room-officials-say/

TRACY MORGAN CRASH Wal-Mart claims comic wasn’t wearing his seatbelt

Tracy Morgan Accident_Cham640093014.jpg

FILE – In this April 9, 2014 file photo, actor Tracy Morgan attends the FX Networks Upfront premiere screening of ‘Fargo’ at the SVA Theater in New York. (Photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP, File)

Actor-comedian Tracy Morgan and other people in a limousine struck from behind by a Wal-Mart truck on a highway in June are at least partly to blame for their injuries because they weren’t wearing seatbelts, the company said in a court filing Monday.

The filing was made in federal court in response to a lawsuit Morgan filed in July over the accident, which killed his friend James McNair, who was accompanying the former “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock” star back from a show in Delaware. Morgan spent several weeks in rehab with rib and leg injuries.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., based in Bentonville, Arkansas, said in the filing that the passengers’ injuries were caused “in whole or in part” by their “failure to properly wear an appropriate available seatbelt restraint device,” which it said constitutes unreasonable conduct.

An attorney representing Morgan and the other plaintiffs called Wal-Mart’s contentions “surprising and appalling.”

“It’s disingenuous,” attorney Benedict Morelli said. “It’s not what they said they were going to do initially, which was take full responsibility. I’m very upset, not for myself but for the families I represent.”

The lawsuit seeks a jury trial and punitive and compensatory damages. It says the retail giant should have known that its truck driver had been awake for more than 24 hours before the crash and that his commute of 700 miles from his home in Georgia to work in Delaware was “unreasonable.” It also alleges the driver fell asleep at the wheel.

Wal-Mart spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan said in an email that the company “continues to stand willing to work with Mr. Morgan and the other plaintiffs to resolve this matter.”

Passengers Ardley Fuqua and Jeffrey Millea and Millea’s wife, Krista Millea, also are named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Krista Millea was not in the limousine when the crash occurred but is a plaintiff because she has a related loss-of-services lawsuit stemming from the crash.

Truck driver Kevin Roper, of Jonesboro, Georgia, pleaded not guilty to death by auto and assault by auto charges in state court. A criminal complaint also accuses him of not sleeping for more than 24 hours before the crash, a violation of New Jersey law.

A report by federal transportation safety investigators said Roper was driving 65 mph in the minute before he slammed into the limo van. The speed limit on that stretch of the New Jersey Turnpike is 55 mph and was lowered to 45 mph that night because of construction.

Roper had been on the job about 13 1/2 hours at the time of the crash, the report concluded. Federal rules permit truck drivers to work up to 14 hours a day, with a maximum of 11 hours behind the wheel.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2014/09/30/wal-mart-claims-tracy-morgan-fellow-passengers-werent-wearing-seatbelts-in/

‘GOODBYE, DEAR MUM’ Reports: Iranian set to die for would-be rapist’s killing

jabbari.jpg

Rayhaneh Jabbari faces execution in Iran on Tuesday, seven years after being sentenced to death for allegedly stabbing a man she says tried to rape her.

An Iranian woman sentenced to death for killing a man who tried to rape her told her mother goodbye and prepared to die, even as the Islamic republic’s president was meeting with world leaders at the United Nations.

Rayhaneh Jabbari, 26, is set to be executed Tuesday, according to reports from Iran. On Monday, her mother, Shole Paravan, recounted on her Facebook page an emotional farewell call her daughter made when a sympathetic guard loaned her a cellphone before she was taken to Rajaiy Shahr Prison to be hanged.

“I am currently handcuffed and there is a car waiting outside to take me for the execution of the sentence,” Jabbari told her mother, whose recounting in Farsi was translated by FoxNews.com. “Goodbye, dear Mum. All of my pains will finish early tomorrow morning. I’m sorry I cannot lessen your pain. Be patient. We believe in life after death. I’ll see you in the next world and I will never leave you again because being separated from you is the most difficult thing to do in the world.”

“I am currently handcuffed and there is a car waiting outside to take me for the execution of the sentence.”

- Rayhaneh Jabbari

The distraught mother wrote that she called the prison to ask what she could do and was told to come Tuesday to collect her daughter’s body.

In April, a court postponed Jabbari’s execution in the face of heavy international outcry, including an international petition with nearly 200,000 signatures. But the grim news that the sentence will soon be carried out came as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, trying to put a moderate face on the regime.

Supporters of Rouhani hoped his election last year would usher in a more tolerant era than the one of his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, particularly regarding human rights. But advocacy groups say the number of executions and violations have increased.

“This abhorrent execution must not be allowed to take place, particularly when there are serious doubts about the circumstances of the killing,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa deputy director at Amnesty International. “Instead of continuing to execute people, authorities in Iran should reform their judicial system, which dangerously relies on processes which fail to meet international law and standards for fair trial.”

Jabbari, who worked as a decorator, was convicted of the 2007 fatal stabbing of Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi, a former employee of the Iranian Intelligence Ministry. Jabbari, who was 19 at the time, has long maintained Sarbandi drugged her and tried to rape her after the two met at a café and she agreed to go to his office to discuss a business deal.

Sarbandi took Jabbari to a rundown building in a remote location, according to her supporters. Once there, he offered her a fruit drink which forensic tests conducted by the police determined contained a date-rape drug, according to human rights advocates.

Jabbari allegedly stabbed Sarbandi in the shoulder with a small pocket knife and fled, while Sarbandi bled to death.

Human rights advocates say the case shows the brutality and intolerance of Iran’s penal system.

“She has been tortured in so many ways in prison. They may have pressured her to confess,” said Shabnam Assadollahi, an Iranian activist based in Canada.

“This is a verdict of “Ghessas” ["an eye for an eye"], but the details of the case don’t make sense,” Assadollhai said.

Jabbari’s family and advocates, including Assadollahi, have pointed to the fact that a small pocket knife and two stabs in the shoulder would not result in fatal consequences for a large man, which is how Sarbandi was described. They say her confession was coerced with torture.

They believe someone else killed Sarbandi and that Jabbari was set up. There is also speculation that there may have been interference in the case and that crucial evidence that would potentially save Jabbari’s life was either tampered with or destroyed.

Lisa Daftari is a Fox News contributor specializing in Middle Eastern affairs.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/09/29/iran-set-to-execute-woman-accused-killing-attempted-rapist/

TRACY MORGAN CRASH Wal-Mart claims comic wasn’t wearing his seatbelt

Tracy Morgan Accident_Cham640093014.jpg

FILE – In this April 9, 2014 file photo, actor Tracy Morgan attends the FX Networks Upfront premiere screening of ‘Fargo’ at the SVA Theater in New York. (Photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP, File)

Actor-comedian Tracy Morgan and other people in a limousine struck from behind by a Wal-Mart truck on a highway in June are at least partly to blame for their injuries because they weren’t wearing seatbelts, the company said in a court filing Monday.

The filing was made in federal court in response to a lawsuit Morgan filed in July over the accident, which killed his friend James McNair, who was accompanying the former “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock” star back from a show in Delaware. Morgan spent several weeks in rehab with rib and leg injuries.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., based in Bentonville, Arkansas, said in the filing that the passengers’ injuries were caused “in whole or in part” by their “failure to properly wear an appropriate available seatbelt restraint device,” which it said constitutes unreasonable conduct.

An attorney representing Morgan and the other plaintiffs called Wal-Mart’s contentions “surprising and appalling.”

“It’s disingenuous,” attorney Benedict Morelli said. “It’s not what they said they were going to do initially, which was take full responsibility. I’m very upset, not for myself but for the families I represent.”

The lawsuit seeks a jury trial and punitive and compensatory damages. It says the retail giant should have known that its truck driver had been awake for more than 24 hours before the crash and that his commute of 700 miles from his home in Georgia to work in Delaware was “unreasonable.” It also alleges the driver fell asleep at the wheel.

Wal-Mart spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan said in an email that the company “continues to stand willing to work with Mr. Morgan and the other plaintiffs to resolve this matter.”

Passengers Ardley Fuqua and Jeffrey Millea and Millea’s wife, Krista Millea, also are named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Krista Millea was not in the limousine when the crash occurred but is a plaintiff because she has a related loss-of-services lawsuit stemming from the crash.

Truck driver Kevin Roper, of Jonesboro, Georgia, pleaded not guilty to death by auto and assault by auto charges in state court. A criminal complaint also accuses him of not sleeping for more than 24 hours before the crash, a violation of New Jersey law.

A report by federal transportation safety investigators said Roper was driving 65 mph in the minute before he slammed into the limo van. The speed limit on that stretch of the New Jersey Turnpike is 55 mph and was lowered to 45 mph that night because of construction.

Roper had been on the job about 13 1/2 hours at the time of the crash, the report concluded. Federal rules permit truck drivers to work up to 14 hours a day, with a maximum of 11 hours behind the wheel.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2014/09/30/wal-mart-claims-tracy-morgan-fellow-passengers-werent-wearing-seatbelts-in/

‘GOODBYE, DEAR MUM’ Reports: Iranian set to die for would-be rapist’s killing

jabbari.jpg

Rayhaneh Jabbari faces execution in Iran on Tuesday, seven years after being sentenced to death for allegedly stabbing a man she says tried to rape her.

An Iranian woman sentenced to death for killing a man who tried to rape her told her mother goodbye and prepared to die, even as the Islamic republic’s president was meeting with world leaders at the United Nations.

Rayhaneh Jabbari, 26, is set to be executed Tuesday, according to reports from Iran. On Monday, her mother, Shole Paravan, recounted on her Facebook page an emotional farewell call her daughter made when a sympathetic guard loaned her a cellphone before she was taken to Rajaiy Shahr Prison to be hanged.

“I am currently handcuffed and there is a car waiting outside to take me for the execution of the sentence,” Jabbari told her mother, whose recounting in Farsi was translated by FoxNews.com. “Goodbye, dear Mum. All of my pains will finish early tomorrow morning. I’m sorry I cannot lessen your pain. Be patient. We believe in life after death. I’ll see you in the next world and I will never leave you again because being separated from you is the most difficult thing to do in the world.”

“I am currently handcuffed and there is a car waiting outside to take me for the execution of the sentence.”

- Rayhaneh Jabbari

The distraught mother wrote that she called the prison to ask what she could do and was told to come Tuesday to collect her daughter’s body.

In April, a court postponed Jabbari’s execution in the face of heavy international outcry, including an international petition with nearly 200,000 signatures. But the grim news that the sentence will soon be carried out came as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, trying to put a moderate face on the regime.

Supporters of Rouhani hoped his election last year would usher in a more tolerant era than the one of his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, particularly regarding human rights. But advocacy groups say the number of executions and violations have increased.

“This abhorrent execution must not be allowed to take place, particularly when there are serious doubts about the circumstances of the killing,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa deputy director at Amnesty International. “Instead of continuing to execute people, authorities in Iran should reform their judicial system, which dangerously relies on processes which fail to meet international law and standards for fair trial.”

Jabbari, who worked as a decorator, was convicted of the 2007 fatal stabbing of Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi, a former employee of the Iranian Intelligence Ministry. Jabbari, who was 19 at the time, has long maintained Sarbandi drugged her and tried to rape her after the two met at a café and she agreed to go to his office to discuss a business deal.

Sarbandi took Jabbari to a rundown building in a remote location, according to her supporters. Once there, he offered her a fruit drink which forensic tests conducted by the police determined contained a date-rape drug, according to human rights advocates.

Jabbari allegedly stabbed Sarbandi in the shoulder with a small pocket knife and fled, while Sarbandi bled to death.

Human rights advocates say the case shows the brutality and intolerance of Iran’s penal system.

“She has been tortured in so many ways in prison. They may have pressured her to confess,” said Shabnam Assadollahi, an Iranian activist based in Canada.

“This is a verdict of “Ghessas” ["an eye for an eye"], but the details of the case don’t make sense,” Assadollhai said.

Jabbari’s family and advocates, including Assadollahi, have pointed to the fact that a small pocket knife and two stabs in the shoulder would not result in fatal consequences for a large man, which is how Sarbandi was described. They say her confession was coerced with torture.

They believe someone else killed Sarbandi and that Jabbari was set up. There is also speculation that there may have been interference in the case and that crucial evidence that would potentially save Jabbari’s life was either tampered with or destroyed.

Lisa Daftari is a Fox News contributor specializing in Middle Eastern affairs.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/09/29/iran-set-to-execute-woman-accused-killing-attempted-rapist/

Hong Kong leader digs in, tells protesters to go home ‘immediately’

Hong Kong’s chief executive urged pro-democracy protesters to stop their campaign “immediately” Tuesday after demonstrators gave the Chinese government a Wednesday deadline to meet their demands for political reforms. 

Leung Chun-ying said that Beijing would not reverse its earlier decision to hand-pick eligible candidates to lead the former British colony, which only became part of China in 1997. 

“I don’t believe that the continued use of illegal activities will compel the Chinese government to reverse the…ruling by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee,” said Leung, who also rejected calls from the protesters to step down, saying “Any personnel change before the implementation of universal suffrage is achieved would only allow Hong Kong to continue to pick its leader under the Election Committee model.”

Earlier Tuesday, the pro-democracy Occupy Central announced the October 1 deadline for reforms to be implemented, including Leung’s resignation. The group added that it would “announce new civil disobedience plans same day.”

Leung addressed the group directly in his media briefing Tuesday, saying “Occupy Central founders had said repeatedly that if the movement is getting out of control, they would call for it to stop. I’m now asking them to fulfil the promise they made to society, and stop this campaign immediately.”

Wednesday is is a holiday for China’s National Day, and even larger crowds are expected to flood the streets. The government said it was canceling a fireworks display planned to celebrate the National Day, which marks the 1949 founding of the People’s Republic of China. 

China’s decision last month to allow a committee of mostly pro-Beijing tycoons to select the candidates is viewed by many residents as reneging on promises to allow greater democracy in the semi-autonomous territory, since Beijing had promised that the chief executive would eventually be chosen through “universal suffrage.”

One day after police shocked the city by firing tear gas at the crowds, the protesters passed a peaceful night Monday singing as the blocked streets in several parts of Hong Kong. They also staged a brief “mobile light” vigil, waving their glowing cell phones as the protests stretched into their fourth day. Crowds chanted calls for Leung to resign, and sang anthems calling for freedom.

Police arrested a man who drove his Mercedes-Benz through a crowd of protesters occupying a street in the densely populated Kowloon neighborhood of Mong Kok. Local television footage showed people scrambling as the car sped through the crowd while honking just before 2 a.m. No one was injured.

;By Tuesday morning, the crowd, mostly students, continued to occupy a six-lane highway next to the local government headquarters. The encampment was also edging closer to the heart of the city’s financial district.

Police said they used 87 rounds of tear gas Sunday in what they called a necessary but restrained response to protesters pushing through cordons and barricades. They said 41 people were injured, including 12 police officers.

“Police cordon lines were heavily charged by some violent protesters. So police had to use the minimum force in order to separate the distance at that moment between the protesters and also the police,” said Cheung Tak-keung, the assistant police commissioner for operations.

The atmosphere was more festive Monday as constantly shifting crowds blocked major roads. People moved in and out of the sit-ins, some bringing in food and drink while others fetched their own. Some high school students, still in their school uniforms, sat on the pavement doing their homework.

“It’s already the fourth day, so it’s really tiring,” said Ching-ching Tse, a 24-year-old student at the Chinese University of Hong Kong who was on her second day of collecting trash in the protest area with her friends. “So we are forming some groups and hope we can do some shifts and take turns.”

Officials announced that schools in some districts of Hong Kong would remain closed Tuesday because of safety concerns, while dozens of bus routes were canceled and some subway stops near protest areas were closed.

The protests have been dubbed the “Umbrella Revolution” by some, because the crowds have used umbrellas to not only block the sun, but also to stop the police from hitting them with pepper spray. Political slogans calling for freedom have also been written on the umbrellas.

Many younger Hong Kong residents raised in an era of plenty and with no experience of past political turmoil in mainland China have higher expectations. Under an agreement set in 1984, before most of them were born, Beijing promised to allow Hong Kong residents civil liberties — unseen in the rest of China — after it took control of the city.

China’s communist leaders take a hard line against any threat to their monopoly on power, including clamping down on dissidents and Muslim Uighur separatists in the country’s far west, but it cannot crack down too harshly on the semi-autonomous territory where a freewheeling media ensures global visibility.

Across the border, Chinese state media have provided scant coverage of the protests beyond noting that an illegal gathering spun out of control and was being curtailed by police.

The protests began a week ago with a class boycott by university and college students demanding reforms of the local legislature and a withdrawal of Beijing’s requirement that election candidates be screened. Leaders of the broader Occupy Central civil disobedience movement joined the protesters early Sunday, saying they wanted to kick-start a long-threatened mass sit-in demanding Hong Kong’s top leader be elected without Beijing’s interference.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/09/30/hong-kong-leader-tells-pro-democracy-protesters-to-stop-campaign-immediately/

Hong Kong leader digs in, tells protesters to go home ‘immediately’

Hong Kong’s chief executive urged pro-democracy protesters to stop their campaign “immediately” Tuesday after demonstrators gave the Chinese government a Wednesday deadline to meet their demands for political reforms. 

Leung Chun-ying said that Beijing would not reverse its earlier decision to hand-pick eligible candidates to lead the former British colony, which only became part of China in 1997. 

“I don’t believe that the continued use of illegal activities will compel the Chinese government to reverse the…ruling by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee,” said Leung, who also rejected calls from the protesters to step down, saying “Any personnel change before the implementation of universal suffrage is achieved would only allow Hong Kong to continue to pick its leader under the Election Committee model.”

Earlier Tuesday, the pro-democracy Occupy Central announced the October 1 deadline for reforms to be implemented, including Leung’s resignation. The group added that it would “announce new civil disobedience plans same day.”

Leung addressed the group directly in his media briefing Tuesday, saying “Occupy Central founders had said repeatedly that if the movement is getting out of control, they would call for it to stop. I’m now asking them to fulfil the promise they made to society, and stop this campaign immediately.”

Wednesday is is a holiday for China’s National Day, and even larger crowds are expected to flood the streets. The government said it was canceling a fireworks display planned to celebrate the National Day, which marks the 1949 founding of the People’s Republic of China. 

China’s decision last month to allow a committee of mostly pro-Beijing tycoons to select the candidates is viewed by many residents as reneging on promises to allow greater democracy in the semi-autonomous territory, since Beijing had promised that the chief executive would eventually be chosen through “universal suffrage.”

One day after police shocked the city by firing tear gas at the crowds, the protesters passed a peaceful night Monday singing as the blocked streets in several parts of Hong Kong. They also staged a brief “mobile light” vigil, waving their glowing cell phones as the protests stretched into their fourth day. Crowds chanted calls for Leung to resign, and sang anthems calling for freedom.

Police arrested a man who drove his Mercedes-Benz through a crowd of protesters occupying a street in the densely populated Kowloon neighborhood of Mong Kok. Local television footage showed people scrambling as the car sped through the crowd while honking just before 2 a.m. No one was injured.

;By Tuesday morning, the crowd, mostly students, continued to occupy a six-lane highway next to the local government headquarters. The encampment was also edging closer to the heart of the city’s financial district.

Police said they used 87 rounds of tear gas Sunday in what they called a necessary but restrained response to protesters pushing through cordons and barricades. They said 41 people were injured, including 12 police officers.

“Police cordon lines were heavily charged by some violent protesters. So police had to use the minimum force in order to separate the distance at that moment between the protesters and also the police,” said Cheung Tak-keung, the assistant police commissioner for operations.

The atmosphere was more festive Monday as constantly shifting crowds blocked major roads. People moved in and out of the sit-ins, some bringing in food and drink while others fetched their own. Some high school students, still in their school uniforms, sat on the pavement doing their homework.

“It’s already the fourth day, so it’s really tiring,” said Ching-ching Tse, a 24-year-old student at the Chinese University of Hong Kong who was on her second day of collecting trash in the protest area with her friends. “So we are forming some groups and hope we can do some shifts and take turns.”

Officials announced that schools in some districts of Hong Kong would remain closed Tuesday because of safety concerns, while dozens of bus routes were canceled and some subway stops near protest areas were closed.

The protests have been dubbed the “Umbrella Revolution” by some, because the crowds have used umbrellas to not only block the sun, but also to stop the police from hitting them with pepper spray. Political slogans calling for freedom have also been written on the umbrellas.

Many younger Hong Kong residents raised in an era of plenty and with no experience of past political turmoil in mainland China have higher expectations. Under an agreement set in 1984, before most of them were born, Beijing promised to allow Hong Kong residents civil liberties — unseen in the rest of China — after it took control of the city.

China’s communist leaders take a hard line against any threat to their monopoly on power, including clamping down on dissidents and Muslim Uighur separatists in the country’s far west, but it cannot crack down too harshly on the semi-autonomous territory where a freewheeling media ensures global visibility.

Across the border, Chinese state media have provided scant coverage of the protests beyond noting that an illegal gathering spun out of control and was being curtailed by police.

The protests began a week ago with a class boycott by university and college students demanding reforms of the local legislature and a withdrawal of Beijing’s requirement that election candidates be screened. Leaders of the broader Occupy Central civil disobedience movement joined the protesters early Sunday, saying they wanted to kick-start a long-threatened mass sit-in demanding Hong Kong’s top leader be elected without Beijing’s interference.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/09/30/hong-kong-leader-tells-pro-democracy-protesters-to-stop-campaign-immediately/

TRACY MORGAN CRASH Wal-Mart claims comic wasn’t wearing his seatbelt

Tracy Morgan Accident_Cham640093014.jpg

FILE – In this April 9, 2014 file photo, actor Tracy Morgan attends the FX Networks Upfront premiere screening of ‘Fargo’ at the SVA Theater in New York. (Photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP, File)

Actor-comedian Tracy Morgan and other people in a limousine struck from behind by a Wal-Mart truck on a highway in June are at least partly to blame for their injuries because they weren’t wearing seatbelts, the company said in a court filing Monday.

The filing was made in federal court in response to a lawsuit Morgan filed in July over the accident, which killed his friend James McNair, who was accompanying the former “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock” star back from a show in Delaware. Morgan spent several weeks in rehab with rib and leg injuries.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., based in Bentonville, Arkansas, said in the filing that the passengers’ injuries were caused “in whole or in part” by their “failure to properly wear an appropriate available seatbelt restraint device,” which it said constitutes unreasonable conduct.

An attorney representing Morgan and the other plaintiffs called Wal-Mart’s contentions “surprising and appalling.”

“It’s disingenuous,” attorney Benedict Morelli said. “It’s not what they said they were going to do initially, which was take full responsibility. I’m very upset, not for myself but for the families I represent.”

The lawsuit seeks a jury trial and punitive and compensatory damages. It says the retail giant should have known that its truck driver had been awake for more than 24 hours before the crash and that his commute of 700 miles from his home in Georgia to work in Delaware was “unreasonable.” It also alleges the driver fell asleep at the wheel.

Wal-Mart spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan said in an email that the company “continues to stand willing to work with Mr. Morgan and the other plaintiffs to resolve this matter.”

Passengers Ardley Fuqua and Jeffrey Millea and Millea’s wife, Krista Millea, also are named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Krista Millea was not in the limousine when the crash occurred but is a plaintiff because she has a related loss-of-services lawsuit stemming from the crash.

Truck driver Kevin Roper, of Jonesboro, Georgia, pleaded not guilty to death by auto and assault by auto charges in state court. A criminal complaint also accuses him of not sleeping for more than 24 hours before the crash, a violation of New Jersey law.

A report by federal transportation safety investigators said Roper was driving 65 mph in the minute before he slammed into the limo van. The speed limit on that stretch of the New Jersey Turnpike is 55 mph and was lowered to 45 mph that night because of construction.

Roper had been on the job about 13 1/2 hours at the time of the crash, the report concluded. Federal rules permit truck drivers to work up to 14 hours a day, with a maximum of 11 hours behind the wheel.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2014/09/30/wal-mart-claims-tracy-morgan-fellow-passengers-werent-wearing-seatbelts-in/

‘GOODBYE, DEAR MUM’ Reports: Iranian set to die for would-be rapist’s killing

jabbari.jpg

Rayhaneh Jabbari faces execution in Iran on Tuesday, seven years after being sentenced to death for allegedly stabbing a man she says tried to rape her.

An Iranian woman sentenced to death for killing a man who tried to rape her told her mother goodbye and prepared to die, even as the Islamic republic’s president was meeting with world leaders at the United Nations.

Rayhaneh Jabbari, 26, is set to be executed Tuesday, according to reports from Iran. On Monday, her mother, Shole Paravan, recounted on her Facebook page an emotional farewell call her daughter made when a sympathetic guard loaned her a cellphone before she was taken to Rajaiy Shahr Prison to be hanged.

“I am currently handcuffed and there is a car waiting outside to take me for the execution of the sentence,” Jabbari told her mother, whose recounting in Farsi was translated by FoxNews.com. “Goodbye, dear Mum. All of my pains will finish early tomorrow morning. I’m sorry I cannot lessen your pain. Be patient. We believe in life after death. I’ll see you in the next world and I will never leave you again because being separated from you is the most difficult thing to do in the world.”

“I am currently handcuffed and there is a car waiting outside to take me for the execution of the sentence.”

- Rayhaneh Jabbari

The distraught mother wrote that she called the prison to ask what she could do and was told to come Tuesday to collect her daughter’s body.

In April, a court postponed Jabbari’s execution in the face of heavy international outcry, including an international petition with nearly 200,000 signatures. But the grim news that the sentence will soon be carried out came as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, trying to put a moderate face on the regime.

Supporters of Rouhani hoped his election last year would usher in a more tolerant era than the one of his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, particularly regarding human rights. But advocacy groups say the number of executions and violations have increased.

“This abhorrent execution must not be allowed to take place, particularly when there are serious doubts about the circumstances of the killing,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa deputy director at Amnesty International. “Instead of continuing to execute people, authorities in Iran should reform their judicial system, which dangerously relies on processes which fail to meet international law and standards for fair trial.”

Jabbari, who worked as a decorator, was convicted of the 2007 fatal stabbing of Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi, a former employee of the Iranian Intelligence Ministry. Jabbari, who was 19 at the time, has long maintained Sarbandi drugged her and tried to rape her after the two met at a café and she agreed to go to his office to discuss a business deal.

Sarbandi took Jabbari to a rundown building in a remote location, according to her supporters. Once there, he offered her a fruit drink which forensic tests conducted by the police determined contained a date-rape drug, according to human rights advocates.

Jabbari allegedly stabbed Sarbandi in the shoulder with a small pocket knife and fled, while Sarbandi bled to death.

Human rights advocates say the case shows the brutality and intolerance of Iran’s penal system.

“She has been tortured in so many ways in prison. They may have pressured her to confess,” said Shabnam Assadollahi, an Iranian activist based in Canada.

“This is a verdict of “Ghessas” ["an eye for an eye"], but the details of the case don’t make sense,” Assadollhai said.

Jabbari’s family and advocates, including Assadollahi, have pointed to the fact that a small pocket knife and two stabs in the shoulder would not result in fatal consequences for a large man, which is how Sarbandi was described. They say her confession was coerced with torture.

They believe someone else killed Sarbandi and that Jabbari was set up. There is also speculation that there may have been interference in the case and that crucial evidence that would potentially save Jabbari’s life was either tampered with or destroyed.

Lisa Daftari is a Fox News contributor specializing in Middle Eastern affairs.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/09/29/iran-set-to-execute-woman-accused-killing-attempted-rapist/

Hong Kong leader digs in, tells protesters to go home ‘immediately’

Hong Kong’s chief executive urged pro-democracy protesters to stop their campaign “immediately” Tuesday after demonstrators gave the Chinese government a Wednesday deadline to meet their demands for political reforms. 

Leung Chun-ying said that Beijing would not reverse its earlier decision to hand-pick eligible candidates to lead the former British colony, which only became part of China in 1997. 

“I don’t believe that the continued use of illegal activities will compel the Chinese government to reverse the…ruling by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee,” said Leung, who also rejected calls from the protesters to step down, saying “Any personnel change before the implementation of universal suffrage is achieved would only allow Hong Kong to continue to pick its leader under the Election Committee model.”

Earlier Tuesday, the pro-democracy Occupy Central announced the October 1 deadline for reforms to be implemented, including Leung’s resignation. The group added that it would “announce new civil disobedience plans same day.”

Leung addressed the group directly in his media briefing Tuesday, saying “Occupy Central founders had said repeatedly that if the movement is getting out of control, they would call for it to stop. I’m now asking them to fulfil the promise they made to society, and stop this campaign immediately.”

Wednesday is is a holiday for China’s National Day, and even larger crowds are expected to flood the streets. The government said it was canceling a fireworks display planned to celebrate the National Day, which marks the 1949 founding of the People’s Republic of China. 

China’s decision last month to allow a committee of mostly pro-Beijing tycoons to select the candidates is viewed by many residents as reneging on promises to allow greater democracy in the semi-autonomous territory, since Beijing had promised that the chief executive would eventually be chosen through “universal suffrage.”

One day after police shocked the city by firing tear gas at the crowds, the protesters passed a peaceful night Monday singing as the blocked streets in several parts of Hong Kong. They also staged a brief “mobile light” vigil, waving their glowing cell phones as the protests stretched into their fourth day. Crowds chanted calls for Leung to resign, and sang anthems calling for freedom.

Police arrested a man who drove his Mercedes-Benz through a crowd of protesters occupying a street in the densely populated Kowloon neighborhood of Mong Kok. Local television footage showed people scrambling as the car sped through the crowd while honking just before 2 a.m. No one was injured.

;By Tuesday morning, the crowd, mostly students, continued to occupy a six-lane highway next to the local government headquarters. The encampment was also edging closer to the heart of the city’s financial district.

Police said they used 87 rounds of tear gas Sunday in what they called a necessary but restrained response to protesters pushing through cordons and barricades. They said 41 people were injured, including 12 police officers.

“Police cordon lines were heavily charged by some violent protesters. So police had to use the minimum force in order to separate the distance at that moment between the protesters and also the police,” said Cheung Tak-keung, the assistant police commissioner for operations.

The atmosphere was more festive Monday as constantly shifting crowds blocked major roads. People moved in and out of the sit-ins, some bringing in food and drink while others fetched their own. Some high school students, still in their school uniforms, sat on the pavement doing their homework.

“It’s already the fourth day, so it’s really tiring,” said Ching-ching Tse, a 24-year-old student at the Chinese University of Hong Kong who was on her second day of collecting trash in the protest area with her friends. “So we are forming some groups and hope we can do some shifts and take turns.”

Officials announced that schools in some districts of Hong Kong would remain closed Tuesday because of safety concerns, while dozens of bus routes were canceled and some subway stops near protest areas were closed.

The protests have been dubbed the “Umbrella Revolution” by some, because the crowds have used umbrellas to not only block the sun, but also to stop the police from hitting them with pepper spray. Political slogans calling for freedom have also been written on the umbrellas.

Many younger Hong Kong residents raised in an era of plenty and with no experience of past political turmoil in mainland China have higher expectations. Under an agreement set in 1984, before most of them were born, Beijing promised to allow Hong Kong residents civil liberties — unseen in the rest of China — after it took control of the city.

China’s communist leaders take a hard line against any threat to their monopoly on power, including clamping down on dissidents and Muslim Uighur separatists in the country’s far west, but it cannot crack down too harshly on the semi-autonomous territory where a freewheeling media ensures global visibility.

Across the border, Chinese state media have provided scant coverage of the protests beyond noting that an illegal gathering spun out of control and was being curtailed by police.

The protests began a week ago with a class boycott by university and college students demanding reforms of the local legislature and a withdrawal of Beijing’s requirement that election candidates be screened. Leaders of the broader Occupy Central civil disobedience movement joined the protesters early Sunday, saying they wanted to kick-start a long-threatened mass sit-in demanding Hong Kong’s top leader be elected without Beijing’s interference.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/09/30/hong-kong-leader-tells-pro-democracy-protesters-to-stop-campaign-immediately/