Day: May 4, 2017


US aids ISIS, says Afghanistan's former president

KABUL, Afghanistan — Despite the recent deployment of more U.S. troops to Afghanistan and other heightened efforts to eradicate terrorist groups, especially ISIS, Afghanistan’s former president, Hamid Karzai, believes the U.S. is in league with ISIS.

“The Daesh is a U.S. product,” he told Fox News in an exclusive interview Wednesday in Kabul, using the Arabic word for the extremist Muslim group. “The Daesh — which is clearly foreign — emerged in 2015 during the U.S. presence.”

Karzai, who was president from December 2004 to September 2014, said he routinely receives reports about unmarked helicopters dropping supplies to the terror faction on the Pakistan and Afghanistan border — something that the “U.S. must explain.”

He also expressed great distress at the dropping of the Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) last month, convinced it was a joint U.S.-ISIS operation.

“The Daesh had already emptied most of their (families and fighters) so this was coordinated. This group is just a U.S. tool. This cannot be any other tool,” he went on. “First, the Daesh comes to drive people away and then the U.S. comes and drops that big bomb … come on.”

In Karzai’s view, the U.S. simply wants to use Afghanistan terrain to “test” its toys. 

“They [America] think this is no man’s land for testing and abuse, but they are wrong about that,” he said. “We have a deeply patriotic population here that will not allow this.”

He also quibbled with MOAB’s nickname, “Mother of All Bombs,” saying it should be “DOAB.”

“The mother is a kind figure. She does not fit with a bomb,” Karzai lamented. “This should be the ‘Deadliest of All Bombs.’ The casualty is Afghan sovereignty, our soil and, most hurtfully, our dignity. How can they say they are our allies and then bomb us?”

He said several metric tons of chemicals were injected into the ground on MOAB’s detonation, but when asked if it had been tested said they did not yet have the means to do so. 

Karzai said that after that bomb was detonated he decided to destroy the “very nice” letter he had carefully crafted for President Trump, proposing such solutions as the need for less military engagement and alternatives “to rivalry” in the war-stricken country.

“I was about to sign it and then the MOAB came, so I abandoned it,” Karzai said. “It was so disrespectful, why would I send him a letter?”

In the early years of his administration Karzai, considered to be the first democratically elected leader of the country, had close ties with President George W. Bush, but relations steadily soured and have hit a further low point since he left office almost three years ago.

In the waning years of his presidency, the Karzai team was widely accused of crony capitalism and immense corruption, accusations he staunchly denies as another U.S. fiction.

“When this [accusations] emerged was when I began to speak out in opposition to the U.S. of spraying all our fields with chemicals,” he said. “They used [the accusation of] ‘corruption’ then as another tool.”

Karzai regards as his biggest presidential failure allowing a free market “laissez-faire” economic system, whereby transactions between public and private entities can proceed without government intervention.

“I should have gone with a Scandinavian or Chinese model of economy,” he noted. “But other than that, I am happy. I did what I did.”

Hollie McKay has been a staff reporter since 2007. She has reported extensively from the Middle East on the rise and fall of terrorist groups such as ISIS in Iraq. Follow her on twitter at @holliesmckay

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Ex-Las Vegas stripper who ran drug trafficking ring in four states sentenced

A former Las Vegas stripper who was convicted of running a drug trafficking ring in four states was sentenced Tuesday to more than 17 years in federal prison, prosecutors said. 

Loren M. Toelle, 52, received an additional five years of probation after she pleaded guilty to leading the drug ring from 2009 to 2016. She was also ordered to forfeit assets of more than $2 million in cash and property. 

Toelle entered a guilty plea in January to selling oxycodone, heroin, and methamphetamine in parts of Idaho, Washington, Montana and North Dakota, prosecutors said. Her friends and children from other marriages were also involved in the drug-trafficking ring. 


Toelle took full responsibility for her actions and apologized to everyone she harmed during the hearing, the Spokesman-Review reported. 

“I did what I did and I deserve to be punished,” Toelle said during the hearing.

“To see some of the people I put poison into, would I want that for my own child? I want to apologize to America because that is not the way we were brought up,” she added, apologizing to her father, who was a minister, and her children. 

Toelle’s husband, Dr. Stanley Toelle, also pleaded guilty on Tuesday to filing false federal tax documents with the Internal Revenue Service in 2012 and 2013. He told the judge he didn’t know about his wife’s drug dealing at the time. 

Stanley Toelle, a gastroenterologist, will have to pay nearly $50,000 in back taxes as part of the plea agreement. He forfeited $150,000 in assets that allegedly came from his wife’s drug dealing, authorities said. The doctor could still face up to a year in prison. He is expected to be sentenced in August. 


Loren Toelle, who was nicknamed “Mama” in drug dealing circles, met the doctor in Las Vegas in 2005. They married a year later, making it the fourth marriage for Toelle. 

Toelle lived in Las Vegas while her husband lived in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. He sent her a monthly allowance and extra cash to pay bills when she asked for money. 

Toelle insisted that her husband didn’t know about her drug ring and said she lied to him and told him she had businesses that included a daycare, a hair salon and the sales of hair extensions and beauty supplies, according to court documents. 

Ten other people were also charged in connection with the case. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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FCC chair on Colbert's Trump bash: Will apply obscenity law if needed

Stephen Colbert has come under fire and backlash following his Monday night monologue on his show “Late Night with Stephen Colbert,” where he made what some have described as homophobic slurs directed toward President Donald Trump and Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

However, Colbert would do it again, adding “he would change a few words that were cruder than they needed to be,” the late night host said during his monologue Wednesday night.

As for whether Colbert will face some type of repercussion for his comments, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said during an interview with Neil Cavuto on the FOX Business Network, that if the agency receives complaints, it “will take a look at the facts that are alleged and apply the law.”

Pai noted that he has yet to actually view the clip that has since gone viral, and prompted the #firecolbert on Twitter, but reaffirmed the agency’s commitment to take complaints seriously, and “evaluate the facts and make the appropriate decision.”

The oral-sex joke was in response to CBS colleague John Dickerson of ‘Face the Nation,’ who saw his interview with President Trump was cut short after repeatedly pressing the president on his wiretapping claims.

“Now, if you saw my monologue Monday, you know that I was a little upset at Donald Trump for insulting a friend of mine,” said Colbert.

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As far as regulating the airwaves, “the framework that we apply is traditionally a certain indecency rules that apply before 10 P.M., and then again obscene language is what we regulate after 10 P.M.,” Pai said.

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FLYING BY THE SEAT Delta overbook forces family, tot off flight

A California couple is claiming they were kicked off a Delta Air Lines flight last month with two of their children after refusing to give up a seat they bought for another child. 

Brian Schear, his wife, and two of their children, were reportedly boarding a flight from Maui, Hawaii, to Los Angeles on April 23 when airline officials asked the couple to give up a seat Schear says he had purchased for their older son.

However, their 18-year-old son had gone home on an earlier flight, Schear said, and they planned to use their seat for one of their younger children. 


In a video posted to YouTube May 3, a Delta employee can be heard prompting Schear to leave the plane. “Then they can remove me off the plane,” Schear replies.

“Then you commit a federal offense, then you and your wife will be in jail and your kids will be,” a female employee says off camera.

“We’re going to jail and my kids are going to be what?” Schear asks the employee.

The female employee proceeds to tell him that they need the seat because the flight was overbooked and, since the ticket was in his older son’s name, but he wasn’t on the flight, the seat was technically vacant. 

“You’re saying you’re gonna give that away to someone else when I paid for that seat? That’s not right,” Schear tells the Delta employee. 

A different employee approaches the family and tells Schear that his younger son cannot sit in a car seat during the flight due to age restrictions. Instead, she says the toddler would instead have to remain in the couple’s arms during the near six-hour flight. 

“He can’t occupy a seat because he’s two years or younger. That’s FAA regulations,” she says. “This plane will not go anywhere until you guys choose to go. I’m just trying to help you.” 

Technically, that’s not even true. Though most domestic airlines permit children under 2 years of age to fly seated in an adult’s lap, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) advises that the safest place for small children is actually in their own seat– with a government-approved child safety restraint system.

The FAA “strongly urges you to secure your child in a CRS or device for the duration of your flight. It’s the smart and right thing to do so that everyone in your family arrives safely at your destination.”

Schear responds by explaining that the family flew to Hawaii with their son in a car seat– but the woman replied that they wouldn’t be allowed to fly back the same way. He then agrees to put the baby in his lap during the flight.


But apparently it was too late. Ultimately, the female employee told Schear and his family to get off the flight. Schear says the family stayed on the island for another night and purchased new tickets– on United– to leave the next day. 

Schear told CBS Los Angeles that he’s shocked at how quickly the situation escalated. He says he doesn’t want money but is seeking an apology from the airline.

The video comes as airlines have been under increasing scrutiny amid overbooking policies following the April 9 incident in which Dr. David Dao was forcibly removed from a United Airlines flight to make room for crewmembers. 

Delta Air Lines was not immediately available for comment.

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BREAKING NEWS House passes Republicans' latest bid to overhaul ObamaCare, 217 to 213

House Republicans on Thursday narrowly approved their sweeping health care bill aimed at fulfilling a campaign promise to upend ObamaCare, after resuscitating legislation that had flatlined on the floor not six weeks earlier. 

The revised American Health Care Act passed on a 217-213 vote. 

“We’re going to get this finished,” President Trump declared in a celebratory Rose Garden event, surrounded by Republican congressional allies shortly after the vote. He vowed premiums and deductibles will be “coming down” and the Affordable Care Act is “essentially dead.” 

The passage marked Republicans’ biggest step yet toward replacing the Obama administration’s signature domestic policy law. The bill heads next to the Senate, however, where it faces an uncertain fate. 

All Democrats voted against the bill on the House floor Thursday afternoon, warning it would jeopardize coverage; 20 Republicans voted no. Implying the GOP would lose seats in 2018, Democrats sang, “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” toward the end of the voting. 

But GOP leaders cheered the result. 

“Welcome to the beginning of the end of ObamaCare,” Vice President Pence said in the Rose Garden. 

Trump, praising House Speaker Paul Ryan, said he’s confident in Senate passage and predicted an “unbelievable victory.”

The narrow approval Thursday was remarkable considering Ryan had to pull an earlier version from the floor in late March. Amid questions over whether the majority party could advance anything on health care amid deep internal divisions, the White House and congressional leaders barraged rank-and-file holdouts with pressure in recent days to back revised legislation. 

“A lot of us have been waiting seven years to cast this vote,” Ryan said Thursday. 

Capping a fiery debate moments before the vote, Ryan appealed to colleagues to move beyond ObamaCare, which he called a “failed experiment.” Citing the situation in Iowa, where the last statewide insurer is threatening to leave, Ryan said: “This is a crisis. … What protection is ObamaCare if there is no health care plan to purchase in your state?” 

Health Secretary Tom Price told Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom” earlier Thursday that he expects the Senate to ensure the best-possible bill emerges and rejected criticism that the GOP plan to replace the Affordable Care Act would lead to reduced coverage.   

“What we want to do is have a seamless system, not pull the rug out from anybody,” Price said, claiming the proposal would ensure people with pre-existing conditions remain covered.

That issue is a major point of contention.

After the original bill was pulled from the floor in March amid conservative resistance, GOP leaders won over some of those lawmakers by including waivers that states could claim pertaining to ObamaCare’s coverage requirements, including for those with pre-existing conditions. 


Earlier this week, moderates in turn objected that constituents with pre-existing conditions could effectively be denied coverage by insurers charging them exorbitant premiums.

In a final tweak, leaders added billions more to help people with pre-existing conditions afford coverage. Critics say it’s still not enough, but the changes helped attract just enough support from conservative and centrist Republicans to pass – GOP leaders announced overnight they had the votes, setting in motion Thursday’s action.

In a sign of how the bill’s reputation had changed among conservatives since March, the conservative Club for Growth withdrew its opposition just before Thursday’s vote.

Democrats, though, continue to rail against the legislation that would overhaul many key provisions of ObamaCare. Lawmakers took to the floor to call it a “gut punch to America,” and a boon for billionaires and “undertakers.” 

“This disastrous bill has been condemned by almost everyone,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday at a press conference. She said the latest version is “worse” than the original and rejected claims it would protect those with pre-existing conditions.

“This is a scar that they will carry,” Pelosi said of House Republicans who vote for the plan.

Republicans say a new health bill is necessary to curb rising premium costs and stop insurers from fleeing markets across the country. 

“Doing nothing leaves too many Americans out in the cold,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said. “We tried the ObamaCare way. It is failing remarkably.”

But in the Senate, some Republicans consider the House measure too harsh.

The bill would eliminate tax penalties Obama’s law which has clamped down on people who don’t buy coverage and it erases tax increases in the Affordable Care Act on higher-earning people and the health industry. It cuts the Medicaid program for low-income people and lets states impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients. It transforms Obama’s subsidies for millions buying insurance — largely based on people’s incomes and premium costs — into tax credits that rise with consumers’ ages.

The measure would retain Obama’s requirement that family policies cover grown children until age 26.

But states could get federal waivers freeing insurers from other Obama coverage requirements. With waivers, insurers could charge people with pre-existing illnesses far higher rates than healthy customers, boost prices for older consumers to whatever they wish and ignore the mandate that they cover specified services like pregnancy care.

The bill would block federal payments to Planned Parenthood for a year, considered a triumph by many anti-abortion Republicans.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated in March that the GOP bill would end coverage for 24 million people over a decade. That office also said the bill’s subsidies would be less generous for many, especially lower-earning and older people not yet 65 and qualifying for Medicare.

A CBO estimate for the cost of latest version of their bill has not been released. 

The House also easily approved a second bill that Republicans wrote to snuff out a glaring political liability. The measure would delete language in the health care measure entitling members of Congress and their staffs to Obama’s coverage requirements, even if their home states annul them.

Fox News’ Judson Berger and Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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PAYWALL FALL Fears of Trump rules fuel cash flow to Mexico

With fears the Trump administration will tax or block south of the border cash transfers, remittances sent to Mexico from the United States jumped 15 percent in March from the same period last year – marking one of the largest cash transfers from Mexicans living north of the border to friends and family back home.

Mexico’s central bank, Banxico, reported that around $2.5 billion in cash transfers were sent to the country from the U.S. last month, compared to $2.2 billion a year earlier — and making March the third largest in U.S.-Mexico remittance history. In October 2008, individuals sent to Mexico $2.6 billion and in May 2006 $2.5 billion went to the country.

“This is due to uncertainty about the measures that Trump has announced, such as preventing any undocumented people from sending money abroad or applying a remittance tax of up to 5 percent,” Juan José Li Ng, a senior economist at BBVA Bancomer, told Reuters.

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Banxico figures also indicated that the number of operations and the size of each transaction also rose in March. The size of the average transaction increased 24 percent, from $291 to $316, and the total number of operations jumped 6.1 percent, from 7,517 a year earlier to 7,976.

While traditionally remittance totals tend to drop off in January, in the wake of the Christmas holiday spending season, and then pick up in February, this was not the case this year — where the first two months of 2017 both netted more than $2 billion in remittances.

Remittances became a major concern for many individuals in the U.S. with relatives in Mexico after President Trump threatened on the campaign trail last year to either tax or block cash transfers.

“That absolutely captures attention here,” reporter Franc Contreras, who lives in Mexico City, told PRI. “It grabs attention, it makes people frightened a little bit.”

The U.S. currently does not tax remittances as they are transfers of previously owned money rather than payments for goods or services. Mexico also does not tax those who receive remittances as long as the transfers are for less than a predetermined amount.

Remittances are the country’s second-largest source of income after automotive exports. Last year remittances rose to almost $27 billion, the highest on record, far surpassing the $15.6 billion Mexico earns from oil exports and the $17.5 billion in tourism income Mexico received in 2015.

Trump’s victory last November also sent the Mexican currency to record lows in a sell-off fueled by his threats to scrap a U.S.-Mexico trade deal and levy punitive tariffs on Mexican-made goods.

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'NOT BLACK ENOUGH' Texas pageant winner criticized over race

The winner of the Miss Black University of Texas is taking the high road after critics on social media claimed she’s “not black enough.”


Rachael Malonson, 22, who is biracial, was crowned on Sunday. The event was hosted by Kappa Alpha Psi, a predominantly black fraternity.

“It was definitely a huge honor to win. As a biracial woman, I didn’t even think I was able to place,” she told Fox News.

In a Facebook post after her win, Malonson said she was at first reluctant to take part in the pageant because of her mixed race.


“I challenged myself by vulnerably expressing obstacles I face as a biracial woman and was not going to leave the stage without letting others know that my blessings and strength are in Christ alone,” she wrote.

But soon after she was crowned, Twitter trolls said she should not have won the pageant because, quite simply, she didn’t actually identify as African American.

Malonson, whose father is black and whose mother is white, said she was taken off guard by the criticism, particularly since part of her pageant platform was trying to break down stereotypes and educating people about racial identity.

“I didn’t realize that even after I received the title I would still have to explain myself, that there was still ignorant people out there who are asking me to prove myself,” she said. “Just because I have straight hair and olive skin tone doesn’t mean I’m not black…I don’t have to look a certain way to be black.”

Malonson, who is a senior and a broadcasting and journalism student at the University of Texas, seems to have taken the criticism in stride. In a Twitter post and to Fox News, she thanked everyone who came out and supported her, particularly those in the African American community.

“The beautiful thing about this is all the people her [at UT] who have come out and defended me,” she said. “It shows I have a beautiful support system here.”

She said she will take this experience and turn it into an opportunity. She will dedicate the next year to educating people about racial identity and breaking down stereotypes by posting videos from different people talking about their cultural and racial roots.

“And I will continue to support black women empowerment,” she said.

In a story in the Daily Texan, a student newspaper, Malonson said she has long struggled with her mixed heritage because no one could figure out where she was from. So many people thought she was Hispanic, she said, that she started to believe it herself – even though she was not.

“I remember I felt so insecure because people didn’t understand who I was by my look,” Malonson said. “I’m confident in it now and see it as a unique trait where I’m able to teach people that not every black person (and) not every mixed person looks the same way.”

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COLBERT DIGS IN Comic not sorry for anti-Trump gay slur

Stephen Colbert is standing by a vulgar joke he made about President Donald Trump that prompted the social media campaign #FireColbert.

Kind of.

Saying on his show Wednesday night “I would do it again,” Colbert did allow that he “would change a few words that were cruder than they needed to be.”

“I had a few choice insults for the president in return. I don’t regret that,” Colbert said. “He, I believe, can take care of himself. I have jokes; he has the launch codes. So, it’s a fair fight.”

The “Late Show” star had gone off on Trump during his opening monologue Monday night, criticizing Trump for abruptly ending an interview with CBS News’ “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson.

“You have more people marching against you than cancer,” Colbert said. “You talk like a sign language gorilla that got hit in the head. In fact, the only thing your mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin’s c–k holster.”

Fans immediately took issue with Colbert’s final joke, with some calling the comedian homophobic, and demanding CBS fire him.

CBS did not return Fox News’ request for comment.

This isn’t the first time viewers have gone on social media demanding Colbert’s ouster. In 2014, a #CancelColbert hashtag was started after the host (on Comedy Central with “The Colbert Report” at that point) joked “I am willing to show #Asian community I care by introducing the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever,” in a sketch about Washington Redskins’ owner Daniel Snyder’s pro-Native American charity.

The hashtag campaign began when the show’s Twitter account posted the joke without the context.

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FAITH AND FREEDOM Trump marks National Day of Prayer with exec order on religious liberty

President Trump marked the National Day of Prayer by signing an executive order aimed at boosting religious freedom by easing IRS restrictions against political activities by tax-exempt religious organizations, including churches. 

Declaring “no one should be censoring sermons,” Trump announced the order, which fulfilled a campaign pledge, during a Rose Garden ceremony Thursday attended by religious leaders, activists and Vice President Pence. 

“We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced again and we will never stand for religious discrimination,” Trump said before signing the order, which states it is now administration policy is “to protect and vigorously promote religious liberty.”

The ban on political speech from the pulpit is rooted in an amendment introduced in 1954 by then-Democratic Sen. Lyndon Johnson that gave the IRS authority to punish tax-exempt charitable organizations, including churches, for making political endorsements or getting involved in political campaigns.

The order directs the IRS to exercise maximum enforcement discretion to alleviate the burden of the so-called Johnson Amendment. 

In addition, it instructs the Treasury Department not to target the tax-exempt status of churches and other institutions if they express support for political candidates.

The order also directs the Department of Justice to ensure religious protections are afforded to individuals and groups, such as Little Sisters of the Poor, a group of nuns who take a vow of poverty in serving the elderly.

In his introductory remarks, Pence said the National Day of Prayer is a time to reaffirm “the vital role people of faith play in American society” and praised the president for marking the day in such a public manner.

Trump campaigned against the ban and pledged in his address to the Republican National Convention that he would “work very hard to repeal that language and to protect free speech for all Americans.” 

Trump called up several of the Little Sisters of the Poor members and congratulated them on their landmark victory in the Supreme Court over the issue of the contraceptive mandate included in ObamaCare.

According to Trump, more than 50 religious groups filed lawsuits against the Obama administration for violating their religious liberty.

Before the final order was released, several religious liberty groups expressed support for the administration’s actions.

“The first freedom in the Bill of Rights is religious freedom. America was born on the foundation of religious freedom and it is one of our most cherished liberties. There could be no better day to sign an executive order on religious freedom than the National Day of Prayer,” said Mat Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel. 

Mark Rienzi, counsel for The Becket Fund, said on Twitter he was encouraged by the “promise of the protection” coming from the White House and looked forward to seeing the final language. 

The Becket Fund is the public interest law firm which has represented the Little Sisters of the Poor in their fight to be exempted from ObamaCare’s contraceptive mandate.

The executive order drew critics from the left and the right.

“If the … EO on religious liberty ends up being what media outlets are currently reporting, then it’ll be woefully inadequate,” tweeted Ryan Anderson, a senior research fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation.

The American Civil Liberties Union argued the executive actions constitute “a broadside to our country’s long-standing commitment to the separation of church and state” that will divide the nation and permit discrimination.

“President Trump’s efforts to promote religious freedom are thinly-veiled efforts to unleash his conservative religious base into the political arena while also using religion to discriminate. It’s a dual dose of pandering to a base and denying reproductive care. We will see Trump in court, again,” said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero in a statement.


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Humans have 100 years left

Stephen Hawking is giving humanity a tall order: Colonize Mars in the next century or watch as life on Earth fizzles out. After last year claiming that humans have 1,000 years left on Earth, Hawking says in a new documentary that we instead have about 100 years until we’ll need to jump ship as Earth is overwhelmed by overpopulation, climate change, disease, and artificial intelligence.

It might be a bit premature to start packing, but the BBC’s Expedition New Earth will explore technological and scientific advances that will enable life in space or a colony on another planet, reports the Telegraph.

It will show “Hawking’s ambition isn’t as fantastical as it sounds—that science fact is closer to science fiction than we ever thought,” the BBC says, per Newsweek.

Elon Musk of SpaceX is already planning to send humans to Mars in the next decade. But while a Mars colony is a good idea, bringing new scientific discoveries, columnist Eric Mack says Hawking needs to give his head a shake if he honestly believes Mars, the moon, or anywhere else in our solar system will be more hospitable than Earth even after a host of disasters.

“Just cleaning up our own mess and starting over by rising from the rubble seems more practical” and more affordable than figuring out how to grow food or survive radiation poisoning on Mars, he writes at Forbes.

The solution to all of our problems is here on Earth, he adds. “Yet somehow, the grass is always greener for some people, even when it’s on a dead Red Planet.” (For some much funnier Hawking news, check out this skit.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: Hawking: Actually, We Have 100 Years to Escape Earth

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