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News That Makes You Think… 05.20.14

Brought To You By: DoMuchGood.com

NEWS THAT MAKES YOU THINK… 05.20.14News-That-Make-You-Think

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney wound up with egg on his face Monday as he told reporters that President Barack Obama first learned from a TV news report that his Veterans Administration was denying medical care to vets with secret off-the-books-waiting lists.

But new evidence emerged this morning that his transition team was notified five years ago about how VA medical centers’ official wait-list times bore little resemblance to reality and risked denying military heroes critical health care.

The Washington Times reported Monday that waiting times at veterans’ medical facilities were known to be wildly inaccurate at the end of the George W. Bush administration. By the time Obama’s transition team got a post-election briefing from the VA at the end of 2008, scheduling failures were already reaching a critical point.

The newspaper received a copy of that briefing through a Freedom Of Information Act request.

Obama has come under fire before for saying he was made aware of scandal-worthy shortcomings in his own administration by watching television, including the IRS tea party-targeting scandal that rocked Washington 12 months ago and the Operation Fast and Furious saga that has tainted his Justice Department for years.

More@USNews

Meriam Ibrahim, 26, who is eight months pregnant, was sentenced to death last Thursday after being convicted of apostasy. The court in Khartoum delayed carrying out the ruling until Ibrahim gives birth and nurses her newborn.

In the interim, she has been spending her days bound with shackles on her legs according to her husband, U.S. citizen Daniel Wani, a Christian, who was able to visit his wife for the first time on Monday.

“He originally was not allowed to see her until this week,” Tina Ramirez, executive director of Hardwired, a U.S.-based advocacy group against religious persecution, told FoxNews.com. “Once he was able to, she was shackled and her legs were swollen.”

Ramirez added that Ibrahim’s attorney is working on an appeal as international outrage over her persecution grows.

More@FoxNews

NEW YORK — Burger King is scrapping its 40-year-old “Have It Your Way” slogan in favor of the more personal “Be Your Way.”

The chain says the new tag line will roll out across its marketing in the U.S., including in a TV ad that will begin airing Monday night. The line made its first appearance in an online video last month.

Burger King says in a statement that the new motto is intended to remind people that “they can and should live how they want anytime. It’s ok to not be perfect … Self-expression is most important and it’s our differences that make us individuals instead of robots.”

It may seem odd for a fast-food company to champion individuality, but Burger King isn’t the only one trying to project a hip, non-corporate attitude to gain favor with customers. Since 2012, for instance, Taco Bell has been touting its “Live Mas” slogan, which means “live more” in Spanish.

More@ModBee

Washington (AFP) – The White House has promised the United States will not use vaccination programs as cover for spy operations — after the move was attempted during the hunt for Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.

As Pakistan suffers a resurgence of polio, a top White House official pledged in a letter dated May 16 that intelligence agencies would foreswear the tactic, which is partly blamed for the spread of the crippling disease.

Islamic militant leaders are reluctant to embrace vaccination programs after Pakistani doctor Shakil Afridi attempted to help the CIA track down the Al-Qaeda terror chief through a fake vaccine project.

President Barack Obama’s top White House anti-terrorism advisor Lisa Monaco told deans of 13 US schools of public health that CIA chief John Brennan had directed last year that agents would “make no operational use of vaccination programs.”

“Similarly, the agency will not seek to obtain or exploit DNA or other genetic material acquired through such programs.”

“This CIA policy applies worldwide and to US and non US persons alike.”

More@Yahoo

PORTLAND, Ore. (May 20, 2014) – A federal judge threw out Oregon’s same-sex marriage ban Monday, marking the 13th legal victory for gay marriage advocates since the U.S. Supreme Court last year overturned part of a federal ban.

State officials earlier refused to defend Oregon’s voter-approved ban and said they wouldn’t appeal.

The National Organization for Marriage sought to intervene, but both U.S. District Judge Michael McShane in Eugene and a federal appeals court rejected its attempts to argue in favor of the ban.

Many county clerks in the state began carrying out same-sex marriages almost immediately after Monday’s ruling, as jubilant couples rushed to tie the knot.

“It’s the final step to be truly a family,” said Patty Reagan, who waited in line in Portland to get a marriage license with partner Kelly. “Everyone else takes for granted that they have this right.”

McShane joins judges in seven other states who have overturned same-sex marriage bans, though appeals are underway. Lower-court judges have repeatedly cited last year’s Supreme Court ruling when striking down bans.

More@OneNewsNow

FINDLAY, Ohio (WTVN) –  The University of Findlay is being forced to replace nearly all its grass after weedkiller was accidentally used instead of fertilizer.

“A lot of the grass still looks pretty sad. It’s pretty brown,” said university spokesperson Brianna Patterson.

The chemical was applied by a contractor during the last week of April. She says they are working to replace the grass, but it will take several weeks.

“Anyone who has done lawn care on their own lawn will agree with how easy it is to make this mistake,” Patterson said.

The name of the company wasn’t released, but Patterson says they are working with the company’s insurance provider to foot the bill. Patterson did not have an estimate of how much it could cost, but The Courier in Findlay reported the price tag could be around $2 million.

Patterson estimates about 70 to 75 percent of the university’s lawns were impacted.

The University of Findlay has received several awards in the past for the beauty of the plants on their campus.

More@WTVN

Dr. Susan Rice — Scoffs at Benghazi incident/investigation about which she lied to the American people…

NTMYTInfoAlert

National Security Adviser Susan Rice, at a foreign policy lunch on Wednesday, seemed to scoff at a question on whether a select committee investigation on Benghazi would reveal new evidence.

“Danged if I know,” Rice said, to audience laughter. “I mean honestly, the administration has produced, I think, 25,000 pages of documents. … It’s hard to imagine what further will come of yet another committee. What I think about and focus on as the national security adviser is what we must do with Congress to increase our security of our embassies and facilities around the world.”

She was addressing the decision last week by the House to establish a select committee investigation. Rice on Wednesday steered away from the issue of her national TV appearances in 2012 in which she wrongly linked an anti-Islam video to the terrorist attack.

“What is lost in all of this discussion about Sunday shows and talking points is that we lost four brave Americans on that day, ” Rice said.

More@FoxNews

Biggest “Big Bang” News Ever… or… uh… lens smudges…

It was the science story of the year: Astrophysicists held a news conference at Harvard on March 17 announcing that their South Pole telescope had found evidence of gravity waves from the dawn of time.

Cosmology doesn’t get any bigger than this. The discovery was hailed as confirmation of a mind-boggling addendum to the big-bang theory, something called “cosmic inflation” that describes the universe beginning not in a stately expansion but with a brief, exponentially rapid, inflationary spasm.

Science is a demanding and unforgiving business, and great discoveries are greeted not with parades and champagne but rather with questions, doubts and demands for more data. So it is that, in recent days, scientists in the astrophysics community have been vocalizing their concern that the South Pole experiment, known as BICEP2, may have detected only the signature of dust in our own galaxy.

These doubters say, in effect, that rather than seeing the aftershock of the birth of the universe the scientists may have seen only some schmutz in the foreground, as if they needed to clean their eyeglasses.

This is a delicate issue. Careers and prizes are potentially at stake. So too is the credibility of a field that dares to probe the deepest secrets of the universe no matter where that search may lead.

No one is alleging an outright scientific error. It’s more of a debate about how scientists should communicate their uncertainties when presenting blockbuster findings. This is a case of “extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence,” to use the formulation made famous by astronomer Carl Sagan.

The South Pole telescope saw something in the sky — of that there is little doubt, because the team took great care to eliminate systematic errors that could have come from the instruments. But what the telescope saw — polarization of ancient radiation from the early universe — could have been produced by either primordial gravity waves or by foreground dust, or by some combination of both.

More@WashPost

Father Files Restraining Order Against 5 Year Old

KENOSHA (AP) – A Kenosha-area father who claims his daughter is being bullied by a kindergarten classmate has taken out a restraining order against the 5-year-old.

Brian Metzger told WISN-TV that his daughter has been threatened and attacked by her classmate at Prairie Lane Elementary School, in Pleasant Prairie. A police report says the girl was kicked in the face and had sand and rocks thrown at her.

“She came home and said a student threatened her by saying, ‘I want to slit your throat and watch you bleed,’” Metzger said.

Metzger said he decided to get the restraining order because the school failed to protect his daughter.

“I think they should have done something a lot sooner. They’ve kept him in the same classroom with my daughter throughout this until Wednesday morning because Tuesday night I showed up with a restraining order,” Metzger said.

Kenosha Unified School District spokeswoman Tanya Ruder said there are two sides to every story, but she couldn’t talk about specifics.

“There’s not a set threshold of what causes or what would determine when a child is moved out of a classroom,” Ruder said.

A hearing on the restraining order is scheduled for Tuesday. Metzger said the school’s policies aren’t good enough, and he’ll fight to have the student removed from the school.

More@Fox11

OBAMA: I may just use executive action to stop all deportations…

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama’s review of the nation’s deportation policies may result in changes to a contentious program that hands over people booked for local crimes to federal immigration authorities.

But such steps are unlikely to satisfy advocates demanding dramatic action to help millions of people living in the U.S. illegally.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, offering his first public hints at the outcome of the review he’s conducting at Obama’s behest, said Thursday that the so-called Secure Communities program needs a “fresh start.” He suggested it might be revamped to focus on people who actually have been convicted of crimes, not just those arrested or booked.

“In my judgment, Secure Communities should be an efficient way to work with state and local law enforcement to reach the removal priorities that we have, those who are convicted of something,” Johnson said on PBS’ “NewsHour.”

“The program has become very controversial. And I told a group of sheriffs and chiefs that I met with a couple days ago that I thought we needed a fresh start.”

The program allows Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to run fingerprints of anyone booked for a local or state crime through a federal database for immigration violations. If there’s a match, ICE can ask local police and sheriffs to detain the person, and then decide whether to deport them.

The program, which was started in 2008 under the Bush administration but has been expanded under Obama, has led to complaints that people are being deported for immigration violations without being convicted of any crime, or with only minor offenses. Police and sheriff’s officials also complain people are afraid to interact with law enforcement and report crimes because they worry they’ll be deported.

States including California and local governments in Oregon and elsewhere have begun refusing to honor all detention requests, something that’s increased in the wake of recent court rulings raising questions about the program.

More@AssociatedPress

News That Makes You Think… 05.14.14

Brought to you by: DoMuchGood.com

NEWS THAT MAKES YOU THINK… 05.14.14

SOMA, Turkey –  Rescuers struggled to reach more than 100 miners trapped Wednesday after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey in what one official says is likely to be the country’s deadliest mining disaster ever.News-That-Make-You-Think

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at a news conference Wednesday that 238 miners were killed, according to Reuters.

About 120 workers were still thought to be trapped in the mine, Erdogan said.

Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said 787 people were inside the coal mine in Soma at the time of the explosion, and 363 of them had been rescued so far.

More@FoxNews

May 13, 2014, marks one year since Philadelphia abortion Dr. Kermit Gosnell was convicted of first-degree murder “in the deaths of three babies who were delivered alive and then killed with scissors at his grimy, ‘house of horrors’ clinic,” according to the Associated Press. Gosnell instantly became the face of abortion in the prolife community.

But there’s another, more recognizable face pushing abortion in the U.S. – liberal billionaire Warren Buffett. The so-called “Oracle of Omaha” has donated more than $1.2 billion to abortion organizations from 2001 to 2012.

That’s equal to the cost of roughly 2.7 million first-trimester abortions – more than twice the number of abortions that occur in an entire year in the United States. Unlike Gosnell, however, everything Buffett has done has been entirely legal. But Buffett does share something else in common with the abortionist. Both their stories have been largely unreported.

More@FoxNews

WASHINGTON (AP) — In an unprecedented move, the Pentagon is trying to transfer convicted national security leaker Pvt. Chelsea Manning to a civilian prison so she can get treatment for her gender disorder, defense officials said.

Manning, formerly named Bradley, was convicted of sending classified documents to anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks. The soldier has asked for hormone therapy and to be able to live as a woman.

The request was the first ever made by a transgender military inmate and set up a dilemma for the Defense Department: How to treat a soldier for a diagnosed disorder without violating long-standing military policy. Transgender people are not allowed to serve in the U.S. military and the Defense Department does not provide such treatment, but Manning can’t be discharged from the service while serving her 35-year prison sentence.

Some officials have said privately that keeping the soldier in a military prison and unable to have treatment could amount to cruel and unusual punishment.

More@Breitbart

Former CIA Director and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has a piece of advice for House Democrats, as does former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell. If they’re thinking about boycotting the select committee on Benghazi, they shouldn’t.

Both Panetta and Morell expressed confidence at a press conference that a full investigation would show that the intelligence community didn’t politicize the Benghazi analysis, but agree with Republicans that a full and unified probe into what happened is legitimate for the House:

Panetta and Morell, noting the attack has been subject to many investigations already, said they welcome the latest one in the House.

“If you look at the polling numbers a not insignificant percentage of the American people still have questions,” Morell said.

Morell, who said he already has testified four times about Benghazi, said he is 100 percent confident the upcoming investigation will show that allegations “the intelligence community politicized its analysis” are false.

More@TheBingeThinker

BOISE, Idaho (May 14, 2014) – In Idaho, U.S. District Magistrate Judge Candy Dale has joined a growing list of judges striking down state bans against homosexual marriage. Last night, she ruled in favor of a group’s petition which demanded the state’s restriction against homosexual marriage be deemed unconstitutional.

Dale said the state must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples starting at 9 a.m. Friday. Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter already has said he intends to appeal the case, meaning an appellate court could still put the weddings on hold.

In her ruling, Dale said neither tradition nor majority opinion trumps the fact that marriage is a fundamental right of all citizens.

“The Plaintiffs are entitled to extraordinary remedies because of their extraordinary injuries,” Dale wrote. “Idaho’s marriage Laws withhold from them a profound and personal choice, one that most can take for granted. By doing so, Idaho’s marriage laws deny same-sex couples the economic, practical, emotional and spiritual benefits of marriage, relegating each couple to a stigmatized, second-class status. Plaintiffs suffer these injuries not because they are unqualified to marry, start a family, or grow old together, but because of who they are and whom they love.”

The governor vowed to appeal the ruling, citing the state’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Earlier this week he notified the federal magistrate judge that if he loses the case, he may try to appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, instead of going first through the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

More@OneNewsNow

TOWSON, Md. – Merizia Saindor Baptiste broke down emotionally when detectives arrived at her home earlier today with news that her son had barricaded himself inside the ABC2 News room after ramming a stolen Ford F-550 truck through the front lobby.

She told ABC2 News that she and her husband came to this country from Haiti in 1999 in search of a better life for her family including her six  children. She didn’t want to believe that her 27-year-old son Vladimir Baptiste was capable of causing such a panic.

Vladimir was apprehended by tactical police hours after crashing a truck into the WMAR-TV newsroom. Vladimir posted tweets of his barricade situation.

More@ABC

OBAMA Administration Members: “WE NEED THE BENGHAZI SELECT COMMITTEE!”

NTMYTInfoAlert

Former CIA Director and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has a piece of advice for House Democrats, as does former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell. If they’re thinking about boycotting the select committee on Benghazi, they shouldn’t.

Both Panetta and Morell expressed confidence at a press conference that a full investigation would show that the intelligence community didn’t politicize the Benghazi analysis, but agree with Republicans that a full and unified probe into what happened is legitimate for the House:

Panetta and Morell, noting the attack has been subject to many investigations already, said they welcome the latest one in the House.

“If you look at the polling numbers a not insignificant percentage of the American people still have questions,” Morell said.

Morell, who said he already has testified four times about Benghazi, said he is 100 percent confident the upcoming investigation will show that allegations “the intelligence community politicized its analysis” are false.

Panetta, a former Central Coast congressman and Democratic Party stalwart, said there needs to be an investigation to lay out the full story to the public. “The problem has been sometimes bits and pieces of information keep coming out” that raise more questions, he said.

“Obviously there is a concern whether it’s going to be a political effort to target an issue for a campaign,” Panetta said. “I hope Democrats participate, and it really is a legitimate effort.”

MORE@HotAir

News That Makes You Think… 05.13.14

Brought To You By: DoMuchGood.com

NEWS THAT MAKES YOU THINK… 05.13.14

News-That-Make-You-ThinkFormer Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner claims in his new book that the White House on more than one occasion tried to put words in his mouth or outright asked him to bend the truth.
In his memoir, “Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises,” Geithner recalls a Sunday talk show prep session in 2011 during which top White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer wanted him to say Social Security “didn’t contribute” to the federal deficit. Geithner wrote that he objected.

“It wasn’t a main driver of our future deficits, but it did contribute,” Geithner wrote, explaining his own reasoning. “Pfeiffer said the line was a ‘dog whistle’ to the left, a phrase I had never heard before. He had to explain that the phrase was code to the Democratic base, signaling that we intended to protect Social Security.”

After the anecdote began to generate attention on Monday, a source close to Geithner clarified to Fox News that the former secretary “does not believe he was encouraged to go out and mislead the public on the Sunday shows.”

More@FoxNews

In California, it may soon be legal for gay men to list themselves as “mother” on birth certificates, and similarly, for lesbians to cite themselves as “father.”

Or, the gay parent could simply opt for the more generic label of “parent,” The Associated Press reported.

That’s because lawmakers on Thursday passed through the state Assembly with a 51-13 vote a measure to “modernize” the definition of the family to reflect same-sex unions.

Currently, birth certificate documents in the state have a space for “mother” and another space for “father.” AB 1951 sponsor Jimmy Gomez, a Democrat who represents Los Angeles, says the form is discriminatory and demands revision.

“The definition of a family needs to be more flexible, and same-sex parents should not be discriminated against when filling out a birth certificate,” he said, in a press release. “Under AB 1951, same-sex parents will be able to accurately identify each parent as mother, father or parent.”

More@WashTimes

A one-of-its-kind property is available for buyers looking for a big stake in the Transylvanian property market: the castle that once housed the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Bran Castle, long one of Romania’s top tourist attractions, has been owned by everybody from Teutonic knights to Communist governments over the years, and the elderly archduke who now owns it is ready to sell, the Telegraph reports. Vlad the Impaler, whose sadistic rule was the source of many vampire legends, operated in the area in the 15th century and is believed to have been imprisoned in the castle at one point, reports the Daily Mail.

More@Newser

Iran has unveiled its own copy of an American stealth drone it captured in late 2011, claiming to have cracked the “secrets” of the bat-wing craft and added weapons capabilities.

Today, Fars News Agency reported that while Iran’s duplicate of the US RQ-170 Sentinel drone was smaller, it also had a “bombing capability to attack the US warships in any possible battle.” The story in Persian was headlined: “America’s nightmare has become reality.”  State television showed footage on Sunday it said was of a US aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf filmed by an Iranian drone.

The drone replica was unveiled at an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) exhibition on Sunday, where Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was briefed on how the drone, its systems, and structure had been reverse-engineered. He called it a “sweet day.”

More@CSIMonitor

Planned Parenthood seems to be OK with AIDS patients spreading the disease while others committing criminal acts would be prosecuted.

A Planned Parenthood brochure directed at young people living with HIV/Aids suggests they have the right to determine if and when they tell partners they are infected.

The brochure aimed at young people called, “Happy, Healthy, and Hot” suggests young people have the right to decide “if, when and how to disclose their HIV status.

Laws that require an HIV positive person to disclose their status to a sex partner are called a “violation of rights” in the brochure, the story notes.

More@OneNewsNow

WASHINGTON — Recent college graduates may be wishing they took more classes to hone their online skills because a list of the best entry-level jobs is jam-packed with occupations for a technological world.

As a new wave of college graduates enters the job market, WalletHub compiled a list of the best and worst entry-level jobs based on information, including starting salaries, industry growth rate, number of job openings and education requirements.

The best entry-level job is a web applications developer, according to WalletHub’s research. Those who work as web application developers design web pages.

Web application developers received high scores for growth potential and job availability.

Information Security Analyst ranked No. 2 on the list of best entry-level jobs. Information security analysts plan and carry out security measures to protect an organization’s computer networks and systems.

The No. 3 ranking was a tie between a web designer and attorney.

More@WTOP

Benghazi: What REAL Dems REALLY Think!

BenghaziKMCHeaderIn bold, high definition, if you slowed the frame down enough, you could see the spray of spittle flying across the broadcast table at his fellow co-hosts on-the-air.

Bob Beckel, a prominent democrat consultant, and co-host of The Five on Fox News was turning beat red. “Who cares?” He offered as his bottom line as to whether the White House covered up Benghazi or not.

White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney, earlier that day got quite smarmy and dismissive when he claimed the incidents of 9.11.12 (to which he labeled current interest in as a “conspiracy theory”) “happened a long time ago.”

Adam Schiff, a democratic Congressman, called the effort to set up a select committee to look into the matter, “a colossal waste of time.”

Nancy Pelosi, the democratic leader in the House, referred to the emails that did establish a White House cover-up as, “Diversion, subterfufge, Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi. Why aren’t we talking about something else?”

What is clear, as demonstrated above, is that from the White House, to congressional leaders, to the pundit chattering class–democrats have circled the wagons. They do so to attempt to force the other political party, the media, and the American people themselves to move on, and put any further inquiry into the matter out of consideration.

They also make a massive implication in doing so.

Any further investigation going forward will be cast by them as a purely politically stunted witch-hunt that can not be trusted. (Almost exclusively for the reason that they imply, that Democrats have moved on hence so should the nation.)

On Friday I found that posture and premise to be rather astounding.

Read the Tally We Did With 100% Democratic callers by clicking here: TownHall.com, OneNewsNow.com

News That Makes You Think… 05.12.14

Brought to you by: Christian Solidarity International: freeing enslaved Christians in the Sudan RIGHT NOW!

NEWS THAT MAKES YOU THINK: 05.12.14News-That-Make-You-Think

The Nigerian government has made “indirect contact” with the terrorist group believed to be behind the kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls in the north of that country last month, according to a published report.

The report from Sky News did not specify how the two sides got in touch, but a special adviser to Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan told Sky News that Nigeria would not pay to secure the girls’ release, “because the sale of human beings is a crime against humanity.”

The Nigerian government has been heavily criticized for the conduct of its search for the 276 missing girls, who were taken from a boarding school in the northern state of Borno in the early morning hours of April 15 after taking final exams. On Friday, the group Amnesty International claimed that Nigerian security forces were aware that a convoy of fighters from Boko Haram were approaching the town of Chibok four hours before the kidnapping and did nothing to stop them.

It is believed that 53 girls were able to escape the kidnappers. One of them, 19-year-old Sarah Lawan, told the Associated Press that her ordeal was “too terrifying for words,” and added that she was afraid to go back to school.

More@FoxNews

A New Jersey town canceled its ceremony celebrating new U.S. citizens after federal immigration officials would not allow the event to begin with a prayer.

According to the Star-Ledger, Carteret Mayor Daniel Reiman had assured U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officials that the prayer leading Saturday’s ceremony would be nondenominational.

“They refused to budge on that,” Reiman said, the paper reported.

The battle came just days after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that local government meetings can include sectarian prayers.

Reiman and immigration officials each cited the high court’s opinion.

Reiman, who was elected to office in 2002, said the court’s decision is proof that he should be able to open any event with a prayer. He issued a statement Friday saying it is borough policy to open all borough events with a prayer and a moment of silence.

The citizenship agency said the ruling does not mean federal agencies are required to include prayers in ceremonies. It cited a portion of the justices’ decision that referred to the “Pledge of Allegiance” as one of the traditions that “lend gravity to public proceedings.”

Katie Tichacek Kaplan, a spokeswoman for the immigration agency, told the Associated Press that it’s a long-standing policy to make sure naturalization ceremonies are “conducted in a meaningful manner which is welcoming and inclusive and excludes political, commercial and religious statements.”

More@FoxNews

Nintendo is apologizing and pledging to be more inclusive after being criticized for not recognizing same-sex relationships in English editions of a life-simulator video game. The publisher said that while it was too late to change the current game, it was committed to building virtual equality into future versions if they’re produced.

Nintendo came under fire from fans and gay rights organizations this past week after refusing to add same-sex relationship options to the game “Tomodachi Life.”

“We apologize for disappointing many people by failing to include same-sex relationships in Tomodachi Life,” Nintendo said in a statement released Friday. “Unfortunately, it is not possible for us to change this game’s design, and such a significant development change can’t be accomplished with a post-ship patch.”

The game was originally released in Japan last year and features a cast of Mii characters — Nintendo’s personalized avatars of real players — living on a virtual island. Gamers can do things like shop, play games, go on dates, get married and encounter celebrities like Christina Aguilera and Shaquille O’Neal. Already a hit in Japan, “Tomodachi Life” is set for release June 6 in North America and Europe.

Tye Marini, a 23-year-old gay Nintendo fan from Mesa, Arizona, launched a social media campaign last month seeking virtual equality for the game’s characters.

“I want to be able to marry my real-life fiance’s Mii, but I can’t do that,” Marini said in a video posted online that attracted the attention of gaming sites and online forums this past week. “My only options are to marry some female Mii, to change the gender of either my Mii or my fiance’s Mii or to completely avoid marriage altogether and miss out on the exclusive content that comes with it.”

More@FoxNews

Iran and its close ally President Bashar al-Assad have won the war in Syria, and the US-orchestrated campaign in support of the opposition’s attempt to topple the Syrian regime has failed, senior Iranian officials have told the Guardian.

In a series of interviews in Tehran, top figures who shape Iranian foreign policy said the west’s strategy in Syria had merely encouraged radicals, caused chaos and ultimately backfired, with government forces now on the front foot.

“We have won in Syria,” said Alaeddin Borujerdi, chairman of the Iranian parliament’s national security and foreign policy committee and an influential government insider. “The regime will stay. The Americans have lost it.”

Terrorism perpetrated by al-Qaida-linked jihadist groups and individuals armed and funded by Sunni Muslim Arab countries was now the main threat facing the Syrian people, Borujerdi said. Many foreign fighters who had travelled to Syria from Britain and other European countries could soon return. “We are worried about the future security of Europe,” he said.

More@TheGuardian

A Massachusetts court has ruled that a “heckler’s veto” will not be tolerated in public schools when it comes to the Pledge of Allegiance.

Dianna Verm, an attorney with theBecket Fund for Religious Liberty, tells OneNewsNow that the American Humanist Association, an atheist advocacy group, filed suit demanding a change in the Pledge in the state’s schools.

“… [T]hey disagreed with the words of the Pledge – specifically the words ‘under God’ – and the court upheld the Pledge of Allegiance with a resounding victory for religious liberty,” the attorney explains.

In fact, the vote was unanimous. But Verm rushes to add the school policy isn’t a burden on anyone. “The Pledge treats everyone the same way,” she says. “Anyone can say it and anyone can choose not to say it if they don’t want to – and they don’t have to give a reason.”

According to Verm, those who filed the lawsuit are being told they don’t have a heckler’s veto in which a small minority can squelch religious freedom and free speech because they don’t like the message.

She explains: “The court is sending a message to these secularist atheists that ‘God’ is not a dirty word, [and that] we don’t have to purge anything that has a whiff of religion from the public square just because it may offend some people.”

The end result of this particular lawsuit, says Verm, should send a message to others considering similar court action. Nevertheless, she emphasizes that the Becket Fund will be there to defend religious freedom if other suits are filed.

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MIAMI –  Miami Dolphins safety Don Jones was fined an undisclosed amount Sunday and will undergo educational training after sending a negative tweet about Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to be selected in the NFL draft.

Shortly after the St. Louis Rams took Sam in the seventh round Saturday, Jones tweeted “OMG” and “Horrible.” The tweets were taken down a short time later.

Jones apologized for his comments Sunday and described them as inappropriate. The Dolphins said Jones has been excused from all team activities until he completes training related to his comments.

“We were disappointed to read Don’s tweets,” coach Joe Philbin said in a statement. “They were inappropriate and unacceptable, and we regret the negative impact these comments had on such an important weekend for the NFL. We met with Don today about respect, discrimination and judgment. These comments are not consistent with the values and standards of our program.”

The Dolphins reacted swiftly to Jones’ comments in the wake of the team’s bullying scandal last year, which embarrassed the NFL and prompted a nationwide debate about workplace harassment.

Jones said he regretted that his tweets took away from Sam’s “draft moment.”

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