Day: April 20, 2017


CHAMPS-ÉLYSÉES‬‬ SHOOTING 1 officer killed, two others injured in Paris attack; ISIS takes responsibility

DEVELOPING: A police officer was killed and two others were seriously injured when a gunman opened fire late Thursday on the famed Champs-Élysées in Paris before he was shot dead, officials said. The Islamic State group quickly claimed responsibility for the attack.

Paris police spokeswoman Johanna Primevert told The Associated Press the attacker, who is believed to have acted alone, targeted police guarding the area near the Franklin Roosevelt subway station at the center of the avenue popular with tourists.

French prosecutors have opened a terrorism investigation into the attack on the officers, which took place at 9 p.m. local time. 

French President Francois Hollande said he is convinced the circumstances of the Paris shooting points to a terrorist act.

“We need to realize our security, law enforcement forces targeted have the full support of the nation,” he said in an address to the nation.

Hollande said security forces would be vigilant during the forthcoming presidential election.

“We shall be of the utmost vigilance, especially in relation to the election,” he said, adding that an emergency meeting of security, defense and intelligence top officials would be held on Friday. 

In a statement from its Amaq news agency, ISIS named the attacker as Abu Yusuf al Beljiki, suggesting he was Belgian. The claim of responsibility came unusually swiftly for the group, which has been losing territory in Iraq and Syria.

The French Interior Ministry said the shooting attack “deliberately targeted” police officers guarding the area. Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said the gunman came out of a car and opened fire on the police vehicle with an automatic firearm akin to a “war weapon.”

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“We are faced with a specifically high terrorist threat,” he told reporters.

No tourists or pedestrians were injured in the shooting, according to Brandet. 

The attacker was known by secret service in France as an extremist, officials confirmed to Fox News. Police sources told France 24 searches are currently ongoing at the home of the gunman.

Paris police and soldiers sealed off the area around the Champs-Elysees after the attack, ordering tourists back into their hotels and blocking people from approaching the scene. Emergency vehicles blocked the wide avenue that cuts across central Paris between the Arc de Triomphe and the Tuileries Gardens, an area normally packed with cars and tourists.

Subway stations in the area were also closed off on Thursday night while police secure the scene.

A witness identified only as Ines told French television station BFM that she heard a shooting, saw a man’s body on the ground and the area was quickly evacuated by police.

A Paris resident told the Associated Press the gunfire sent scores of tourists fleeing into side streets.

Badi Ftaiti, a Tunisian-born mason who has spent three decades in Paris, told the AP tourists “were running, running….Some were crying. There were tens, maybe even hundreds of them.”

President Trump said the shooting “looks like another terrorist attack” during a news conference with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, and sent his condolences to France.


The State Department said it was “closely following the disturbing situation,” adding that it was “ready to assist in any way the French authorities would find helpful.”

“Our Embassy in Paris is monitoring the situation closely. We urge U.S. citizens in Paris to contact family members and loved ones to notify them that you are safe, to avoid the area, and monitor local news for updates,” the statement read. 

The incident on Thursday was similar to two recent attacks on soldiers providing security at prominent locations around Paris, one at the Louvre museum in February and one at Orly airport last month.

The attack came three days before the first round of balloting in France’s tense presidential election. 

Security is high preceding the vote after police said they arrested two men Tuesday in what they described as a thwarted terror attack.

French conservative presidential candidate Francois Fillon on Thursday evening said he was canceling a planned election campaign outing on Friday after the shooting.

France has been in a state of emergency following a series of terrorist attacks, including the the November 2015 attacks, which targeted the Bataclan concert hall and Stade de France sports arena in Paris and the deadly truck attack in Nice on Bastille Day in July 2016.

The state of emergency has been extended by several parliamentary votes and remains in effect. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Read more from SkyNews.

Read more from France 24.

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BELLWETHER Oh, shut up: Prosecute criminal campus crazies

Ever tried dealing with a playground bully? What shuts him (or her, for our politically correct readers) up fastest? A bloody nose.

Bullies operate on the assumption that they are safe from retribution. When they find out that’s not true, they curdle like spoiled milk. Until then, their conduct can only spiral further out of control.

That’s what’s happening at colleges across America. Students who think they can dictate  what is said on their campus are shutting down any point of view they oppose. That’s not youthful indiscretion. It’s a crime. And the perpetrators should be prosecuted for it.

This week, the University of California at Berkeley – a communist commune that poses as a cathedral of learning – succeeded in getting conservative commentator Ann Coulter’s scheduled speech canceled. The reason: college administrators feared her presence might pose a security risk.

A risk to whom? Coulter? She can take care of herself. The students who, masked in balaclavas and paisley handkerchiefs, think the best way to express their opinion is to smash in windows and set fire to cars? They want their freedom of speech to be unabridged, including acts of violence. Coulter sets only verbal bonfires with her intentionally overheated rhetoric.

It’s time for college administrators and campus police to grow a pair, and prosecute students who engage in these antics. Shutting down free speech is a crime, as Jay Sekulow, the chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, knows.

”What’s going on with Ann Coulter is classic viewpoint discrimination,” Sekulow told me. “The Supreme Court has been consistent that viewpoint discrimination is a violation of free speech.  And that is illegal.”

So who needs to take action? “It’s the school’s job to prevent the protests from becoming violent,” Sekulow says. “Letting students create a hostile environment that shuts down free speech opens the school to lawsuits.”

So let’s stop worrying about the students’ rights and prosecute the criminals among them. Here’s how, according to Sekulow:

“In a public place, and that includes the campus, you’re allowed to videotape what the students are doing. From a criminal perspective, the campus police would have to bring the lawsuit against people who are rioting. Frankly, until now, what the campus police have been doing is nothing. And the result is that free speech is being shut down. This goes way beyond political correctness. This is criminal conduct.”

College life is a time for young people to be exposed to new ideas, to weigh them and decide what works for them as they form their adult personalities. The message today’s students are getting is: agree with me or keep your mouth shut. That’s not education. It’s tyranny.


John Moody is Executive Vice President, Executive Editor for Fox News. A former Rome bureau chief for Time magazine, he is the author of four books including “Pope John Paul II : Biography.

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Venezuela seizes GM, warning sign to US companies?

U.S. multinationals with plants in Venezuela are likely on edge Thursday, after American automaker General Motors (GM) pulled the plug on its operations in the poverty-stricken country, following a government takeover of its plant amid large-scale violent protests.

“All foreign companies, and especially U.S. firms, should be concerned with the increasingly extreme and aggressive behavior of the Venezuelan regime,” Ian Vasquez, director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity, told FOX Business.

American beverage company Coca-Cola (KO), however, indicated to FOX Business Thursday it didn’t have any plans to pull its operations from the distressed South American country.

“There is no indication that any of our facilities in Venezuela are currently at risk of being altered and we’re working closely with Venezuelan authorities to assure a continuous operation in the country,” the company said.

Some other U.S.-based multinational companies that still have operations in Venezuela, despite the country’s worsening economic and political situation, include PepsiCo (PEP), McDonald’s (MCD) and Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co (GT).

Japan-based international automaker Toyota (TM), which has large-scale operations in the U.S., told FOX Business it was keeping a close eye on how the developing situation in Venezuela was affecting its business.

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“Our operations in Venezuela have not been affected so far. Our team members, dealers and customers remain our top priorities, and we are monitoring the situation closely.”

Italian automaker Fiat Chrysler (FCAU) told FOX Business it would continue production in Venezuela.

“FCA is maintaining its production plans in Venezuela in support of efforts to rebuild the country’s automotive sector.”

While Venezuela sits on one of the largest oil reserves in the world, inflation within the country escalated more than 800 percent in 2016 and is expected to surge 720 percent this year, according to the IMF. In 2016 Venezuelan GDP shrank more than 18 percent.

Despite vast criticism of the country’s socialist policies, the Venezuelan regime will continue to blame the U.S. — and its companies — for the economic hardship that has befallen it, Vasquez said.

“Instead of reforming failed socialist policies, the authorities are increasing repression, so we can expect them to carry out more expropriations and flagrant violations of Venezuela’s own laws,” he said.

On Thursday, GM issued a statement claiming public authorities “unexpectedly” took over its plant, prevented normal operations and illegally removed assets including vehicles.

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“[General Motors Venezolana] strongly rejects the arbitrary measures taken by the authorities and will vigorously take all legal actions, within and outside of Venezuela, to defend its rights,” the automaker said.

Many U.S.-based companies have already ceased operations in “one of the least free economies in the world” and that trend will likely continue, Vasquez said.

“It would be surprising if the few U.S. companies that still have a presence in Venezuela would choose to remain there much longer,” he said.

Venezuela has been mired in political controversy throughout recent weeks after the country’s Supreme Court, loyal to President Nicolás Maduro, temporarily rescinded the legislative powers of the opposition-led National Assembly. That decision, condemned by the U.S. Department of State as a “setback for democracy in Venezuela,” was quickly reversed following a deafening domestic and international outcry.

Earlier this month Maduro’s administration suspended the political career of one of his top rivals, opposition leader Henrique Capriles, for 15 years.

According to Reuters, at least three people were killed during the anti-government protests Wednesday.

Calls to PepsiCo, McDonald’s and Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co for comment were not immediately returned.

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Woman wanted for animal abuse charges found with 42 cats in her car

Police in Warrenton arrested a woman Monday wanted on animal abuse charges in Washington and found 42 cats in her car, one of them dead.

A police officer noticed a vehicle in the Fred Meyer parking lot that matched the description of one law enforcement officers had been looking for earlier this year.

The officer confirmed with dispatchers that the car was the one being sought, and they notified him that the driver of the car had a pair of warrants for their arrest and warned that she may have cats in the vehicle on which he would need to check.

The officer met with the driver, 58-year-old Kathryn St. Clare of Lake Stevens, Washington. He said he noticed many cats in the vehicle and the “overwhelming” odor of cat urine and feces coming from the car.

St. Clare was placed under arrest, and she told the officer that one of the cats in the car had died a couple of days earlier.

Clatsop County Animal Control was called to the scene and secured St. Clare’s car, storing it at the animal shelter. The cats were given fresh water and food.

After obtaining a warrant to search the vehicle, the officer, along with employees at the animal shelter and the Bayshore Animal Hospital, recovered 41 live cats from the car, along with the remains of the dead cat.

St. Clare was taken to the Clatsop County Jail and faces 30 counts of animal neglect in addition to the two charges out of Washington. The investigation is on-going and she may face additional charges.

Click for more from Fox 12.

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Ewan gained weight to be naked

When Ewan McGregor needed to strip down for “Fargo,” the show’s creator Noah Hawley had requested the star put on weight ahead of the nude scene.

The 46-year-old Scottish actor appeared nude in a bathtub for “Fargo,” and he revealed no CG, padding or body doubles were used.

But packing on the pounds wasn’t easy for McGregor, who prides himself on being physically fit for Hollywood.

“You see my naked body,” McGregor said during a telephone conference with press earlier this month, as reported by Vanity Fair. “Although I wear some padding for Ray to make him heavier, this scene had to justify that padding. It wouldn’t make sense for me to wear padding and not be fat when I got out of the bath. So when I got out of the bath, I was properly overweight for me.”

He said he took Hawley’s request very seriously.

“I ordered a massive dessert and started putting weight from that second onward,” said McGregor. “It’s quite nice when you’re ordering — you can order whatever you like. But the truth is I would go to bed every night not feeling very great. I’m a small guy. I’m not really used to carrying weight. It doesn’t make you feel great. I like to feel fit and healthy. But it was effective. It worked.”

McGregor revealed that to play his character in “Fargo,” Ray, it takes two and a half hours’ worth of padding, prosthetics, a wig and cowboy boots.

“Fargo’s” third season premiered Wednesday on FX.

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Disabled Vietnam vet says couple robbed him after carrying his groceries in Arkansas

A disabled Vietnam War veteran claimed a couple, who offered to help him with his groceries, attacked and robbed him in his Arkansas home last week. 

The couple allegedly approached John Thomas, 70, of Fort Smith, while he was outside of his home on Greenwood Avenue on April 11, according to KFSM. 

“I had just come home from grocery shopping. They walked over and asked if they could help carry my groceries. I said, ‘Sure,'” Thomas told KFSM. 


Thomas said the couple — who police identified as Dale Roberts, 29, and Nicole Standige, 30 — went into the home and lingered around even after Thomas insisted he had to go to bed. 

Roberts and Standige allegedly started attacking Thomas when he came out of the bathroom, hitting him on the head with a fireplace poker. 


He shielded himself with his arm, but was then tied up with an electrical cord, Thomas claimed. 

“When I woke up I was tied up with electrical cord and they were dragging trash bags full of stuff out my door,” Thomas said.

The thieves stole a slew of items, including cash, a debit card and cellphone, before driving off in Thomas’ car, according to police. 

The veteran said he waited for Roberts and Standige to leave before crawling out of his front door and curb to get help, KFSM reported. Someone eventually saw him and called police.

Thomas suffered a large cut and several fractures to his forearm, police said.

Police believe the couple is still driving around in Thomas’ vehicle — a 2010 white KIA Soul with Arkansas license plate number 646-OPP. 

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Man facing charges for letting Cobra escape

A potentially dangerous cobra is now roaming the streets of north-central Florida and the worker who was supposed to prevent it from escaping is in trouble.

Ian Nesmith, 28, was charged with a misdemeanor for letting the tan and yellow monocled cobra escape from its enclosure in a home in Ocala.

According to court papers filed earlier in April, Nesmith was hit with a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission code violation after the snake disappeared from the home last month. After Nesmith opened the cover of the cage, the snake jumped at him and then slid away, police said.

The cobra hasn’t been seen since.

The cobra, which is native to South Asia and Southeast Asia, has one of the fastest acting snake venoms in the world, according to Reptiles magazine. Its venom can kill within the hour.

The owner of the snake was licensed to handle venemous reptiles. Nesmith was shadowing the owner with the hopes of eventually obtaining the license himself. But wildlife officials said he shouldn’t have been left alone in the room with the animal.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Alcoholic drink for better sex

Just in case you need a legit excuse to pop open a bottle of bubbly, this is the news you’ve been waiting for.

Champagne is actually good for your health.

But, don’t get too carried away… these health benefits all come with the catch line “within reason”.

Don’t go downing a bottle of bubbly a night – in excessive quantities you’ll undo all the champer’s good work.

When sipping on the tipple responsibly though, the benefits are seemingly endless, a top nutritionist has told The Sun Online.


Throughout history the drink has been used to treat a range of illnesses.

According to The Healing Power of Champagne, it was once used to treat gout, morning sickness and was even a medicine to defy the aging process.

Carolina Brooks, a Nutritionist Resource expert, explained how several more recent studies have also linked champagne to hidden health benefits if it is drunk responsibly.


And if helping your brain or your heart isn’t enough on its own, champagne also has a good amount of antioxidants which can boost your immune system.

Carolina told The Sun Online: “Everything should be drunk in moderation, all of the studies into the benefits say two to three glasses of champagne a week, max.”

So instead of cracking out the champers on special occasions, here are some reasons to sip on a glass a little more frequently.

1. It’s good for your memory.
While your memory may seem a bit fuzzy after one or two glasses, it may actually be improved in the long run, explained Carolina.

That’s because champagne contains a certain chemical that can stop the part of the brain responsible for memory from shrinking.

Phenolic acid has been linked to increased memory functions, studies have shown.

Carolina said: “There has been a couple of studies that say it can reduce the shrinking of the hippocampus.

“[Phenolic acid] helps with spatial awareness, memory, smells, sound.

“The mechanism behind that is that it regulates the signals between nerve cells.


“Like making new nerve cells by playing Sudoku to protect from Alzheimer’s, champagne could also provide a potential benefits.”

A team of scientists at Reading University tested the brain boosting benefits of champagne in 2013.

They gave rats the bubbly beverage everyday for six weeks and then challenged them to complete a maze.

The rats that consumed no champagne had a success rate of 50 percent when put in the maze, but those who had enjoyed a little drink had a success rate of 70 percent.

2. It’s good for your heart.
Much like the warm and relaxed feeling a glass of bubbles can give you, champagne also relaxes your blood vessels.

Carolina explained: “It increases nitric oxide production in the blood that has an impact on artery walls and that helps lower blood pressure.

“It relaxes the blood vessels to allow better blood flow, so that will reduce high blood pressure, and reduce pressure on the arteries.


“And, as another effect from that, it could reduce the risk of clots.”

Blood clots are one of the key causes of deadly heart attacks, blocking the arteries carrying oxygenated blood to the heart.

This is a benefit usually associated with red wine, but a 1999 study found sparkling wine contains high levels of polyphenols which can lower blood pressure.

3. It’s good for your sex life.
As part of its ability to relax blood vessels and increase blood flow, champagne can also help a man get an erection.

An erection can only occur when the tubes in the penis fill with blood, so a good circulation is essential.

It also puts people in the mood because they are more relaxed and therefore they let go of their inhibitions.


Carolina said: “Anything that acts as a stimulant might do [increase your sex drive].

“Alcohol basically does that, it reduces your inhibitions and boosts your sex drive.”

4. It’s lower in calories than other alcohol.
Excellent news for those who enjoy a drink but don’t want to guzzle too many calories.

Champagne contains fewer calories than your average glass of wine, but it’s still important to remember to burn off the calories you consume, warned Carolina.

She said: “It has slightly lower calories than some of the other alcoholic beverages out there, somewhere in the range of 90 to 100 calories [per glass].


“The general advice is that the number of calories you take in needs to match what you take out.

“But people also need to remember that any excess sugar you eat gets stored as fat.”

Excess calories can lead to excess weight, so it is not license to drink as much as you like.

5. It’s bursting with antioxidants.
Antioxidants help our bodies remove waste and keep our immune system healthy.

There are high levels of antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables – and that includes the grapes that make your champagne.

Carolina explained: “Every bodily process creates waste products called free radicals and what you need is lots of different nutrients and compounds to knock out these free radicals and help to eliminate them safely from the body.


“We live in a city where there is a lot of pollution and a lot of stress so the number of free radicals we produce outnumber what we naturally make so it is a good idea to get a better intake of antioxidants from our food.

“We tell people to eat a rainbow of fruit and vegetables because they all have different effects on the body.

“Flavanoids that are found in grapes are protective for your heart and can help with blood pressure.

“[Antioxidants] are generally protective for your immune system and your health, so the more you consume the better chance you have of not getting a nasty illness.”


And if you want the most benefit from the antioxidants in your bubbles, be sure to check how it was produced.

Carolina said: “Try and drink organic because if you have pesticides in the champagne then you are negating the effects of the antioxidants you’re drinking.”

First published on The Sun.

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Simmons FINALLY speaks out

Richard Simmons has released his first statement in more than a year, speaking to fans about his recent hospitalization in a message sent to People magazine.

“Hello to everyone who has shown concern for me and sent their good wishes. You will never know how much it means to me. Aren’t you sick of hearing and reading about me?! LOL Well by now you know that I’m not ‘missing,’ just a little under the weather. I’m sure I will be feeling good and back home in a couple of days,” Simmons stated.

Simmons’ statement referenced the popular podcast, “Missing Richard Simmons,” which was put together by his one-time friend Dan Taberski and explored the fitness superstar’s decision to vanish from public life.

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Simmons has not been seen in public since 2014. He last spoke out in March 2016 in a call to the “Today” show.

He addressed reports that he was recently hospitalize for severe indigestion.

“This has reminded me that when you need help you can’t be afraid to reach out and ask for it. We all think we should always be able to solve our problems all by ourselves and sometimes it’s just bigger than we are,” he stated on Wednesday.

“I reached out and I hope you will too. I’m sure there are people in your life who love and care for you and would do anything to help you with the challenges you face. Just knowing you care has already made me feel better. Hope to see you again soon!”

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Kaley teases ‘Big Bang’

The “Big Bang Theory” may have been held up during lengthy contract negotiations, but Season 10 is moving right along. Kaley Cuoco revealed on Instagram that the cast is already filming the season finale episode.

On Wednesday, Cuoco, who plays Penny on the show, shared a snapshot of her finale script, which had a pink cover that matched her colorful Starbucks unicorn Frappuccino.

Cuoco tweeted another snap from the set earlier in the week.

In March, CBS announced that after months of contract negotiations the stars of the show had agreed to return for two more years.

The Warner Brothers Television show first hit the air in 2007. It is consistently one of the two most popular shows on television when original episodes are aired.

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