Day: July 17, 2017

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Canada pays ex-Gitmo detainee who killed US soldier millions – VIDEO: Canada’s $8M payout to ex-Gitmo detainee sparks outrage


Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave Omar Khadr a big payout, but the terrorist’s real victims may never see any of that money.

Canada agreed to pay the former Guantanamo prisoner a reported $8 million in a lawsuit alleging civil rights violations. The settlement included an apology.

The Canadian-born Khadr was 15 in 2002 when he tossed a grenade in a firefight that killed U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer, a special forces medic.

Tabitha Speer, the soldier’s widow, and Layne Morris, who was blinded in the firefight, won a $134 million wrongful-death default judgment against Khadr two years ago in Utah.

JUDGE DENIES REQUEST TO FREEZE EX-GITMO PRISONER’S ASSETS

Lawyers for the widow and Morris requested an order freezing Khadr’s assets, but last week a Canadian judge threw out the request, calling it “extraordinary.”

Conservative Member of the Canadian Parliament and official opposition critic for foreign affairs Peter Kent wrote in The Wall Street Journal Monday that the timing of the payout undermines Tabitha Speer’s legal options to collect on the judgment.

He added that Trudeau’s actions “are an affront to the memory of Christopher Speer, to Tabitha Speer and her children, to Layne Morris, to our U.S. allies and to all men and women in uniform.”

He also called the settlement “a cynical subversion” of Canadian principles.

“Mr. Trudeau made Omar Khadr a millionaire, and he didn’t have to,” Kent wrote.

Khadr sued the Canadian government for $16 million in 2015 after he was released on bail. He claimed he was tortured at Gitmo.

Morris told Fox News last week that “it was just crazy that you would give someone like that $8 million because his feelings got hurt. I know he spent time in Guantanamo. That was due to his own actions.”

Tabitha Speer hasn’t commented on the settlement to Khadr.

She last updated her Facebook page in June with a photo of her husband and their two young children, Taryn and Tanner. The children are now teens.

TRUDEAU DEFENDS MULTIMILLION PAYOUT TO EX-GITMO INMATE

In 2010, she confronted Khadr from the witness stand at the Guantanamo war crimes tribunal after Khadr struck a plea deal.

“My husband was a good man,” Speer told Khadr, according to a story at the time in the Albuquerque Journal. “You will forever be a murderer in my eyes.”

“Everyone wants to say he’s the child, he’s the victim. I don’t see that. My children are the victims.”

– Tabitha Speer

The paper reported that the widow urged the jury to reject arguments that Khadr, the son of an Al Qaeda leader, deserved a break.

“Everyone wants to say he’s the child, he’s the victim,” the widow said. “I don’t see that. My children are the victims.”

In a 2005 court affidavit in a lawsuit against Khadr, Speer recalled the day her husband was deployed.

“I reflected on what a great marriage and family we had,” she said. “I thought we would be together forever to watch our children grow. I had no idea that within days, my world would be torn apart.”

She also recalled in the affidavit her feelings when she returned home to North Carolina from Germany.

“I could not fathom how empty our house was,” she said. “I sat in the middle of the living room floor, explaining to Taryn what happened to Daddy. This was the hardest thing I have ever done. I needed to be strong for Taryn and Tanner, but needed to grieve myself. Telling a little girl her daddy would not be coming home was excruciating.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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Dog swims through Long Island Sound to rescue deer


Dogs aren’t just man’s best friend – they’re friends with deer, too.

A dog in Long Island, New York jumped into the Long Island Sound, the body of water between Connecticut and Long Island, to rescue a young deer stuck in the water.

“Storm just plunged into the water and started swimming out to the fawn, grabbed it by the neck, and started swimming to shore,” the dog’s owner, Mark Freeley, told CBS New York.

WASHINGTON STATE BIOLOGISTS RESCUE 33 PYGMY RABBITS

Once the dog swam back to shore, he put the deer on the ground, laid next to it and started to nudge it.

Freeley said after the initial rescue, the deer ran back into the water, presumably frightened by Storm and the ordeal.

Freeley and Frank Floridia, of animal rescue group “Strong Island Rescue,” took the charge this time and both waded into the water after the fawn.

MICHIGAN FIREFIGHTERS RESCUE DUCKLINGS USING YOUTUBE SOUND CLIPS

“The second rescue was a lot of anxiety,” Floridia said. He told CBS it took about eight minutes to get a rope around the animal.

The deer was carried to the rescue’s van. It was reportedly covered in ticks and sustained an eye injury, but it’s resting at a local animal rescue until it’s recovered.



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USC scandal: Ex-dean lived secret life of drugs, parties, prostitutes, report says


A former USC dean who described himself as a “God” to medical students lived a secret life of drinking, drug use and partying with addicts and prostitutes – sometimes even after-hours on the school’s campus — according to an explosive new investigative report.

Dr. Carmen A. Puliafito, the dean of USC’s Keck School of Medicine, was a top bundler for the institution before his resignation in March 2016, hauling in $200 million in research grants while overseeing hundreds of students and thousands of professors and clinicians, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.

But three weeks before leaving the $1.1-million-a-year post, a 21-year-old woman had overdosed in his company at Pasadena hotel, with the ensuing investigation by the newspaper revealing Puliafito’s secret life.

“He would say, ‘They love me around here. The medical students think I am God,’” said Sarah Warren, the woman who overdosed.

Photos and videos of the 66-year-old reviewed by the Los Angeles Times showed Puliafito and others partying in hotel rooms, cars — and even the dean’s office — with his acquaintances.

“Thought I’d take an ecstasy before the ball,” Puliafito, wearing a tuxedo, says in one video before swallowing an orange pill on his tongue, the newspaper reported. Another video shows the former dean heating up a pipe outfitted for methamphetamine use.

Puliafito had worked at the school for nearly a decade and hung up without offering comment when called by a reporter last week. School officials have declined comment and he continues to represent USC’s medical school, speaking at a Keck-sponsored program at a hotel in Pasadena Saturday – one of the hotels which a member of the group said she frequented with him.

Click for more from the Los Angeles Times.



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Aid groups bypass UN in joint call to prevent mass starvation


As disease outbreaks raise the danger for as many as 20 million people faced with famine and mass starvation in a clutch of strife-torn African and Middle Eastern countries, some of the world’s largest non-government aid organizations are issuing a rare collective call for private relief donations over the next two weeks, alongside a longer-range, multibillion-dollar United Nations appeal that is so far less than half funded.

Without immediate help, the aid organizations warns, “1.4 million severely malnourished children will die.”

In effect, the new campaign is an attempt to put some humanity back into the world’s overwhelming humanitarian relief crisis, where intractable conflicts, tidal waves of refugees and debates about fusing development and humanitarian aid have sometimes blunted the traditional heart-strings appeals that galvanize American private generosity.

“It’s very hard to get people’s attention,” explained Carolyn Miles, CEO of Save the Children and one of the forces behind the joint appeal. “We wanted to see if we can make a lot more noise.”

‘It’s very hard to get people’s attention.’

– Carolyn Miles, CEO of Save the Children

As usual, however, the U.S. has already been the biggest government responder to the heightened famine alarm. Last week, the Trump administration’s USAID office announced an additional $639 million in humanitarian assistance for the four countries, bringing the U.S. total of such aid to more than $1.8 billion since the beginning of fiscal year 2017.  

The coordinated private-sector appeal involves an array of the world’s biggest humanitarian organizations, ranging from Portland-based Mercy Corps to Oxfam to Save the Children and World Vision, calling themselves the Global Emergency Response Coalition (GERC). They have been joined by a number of globe-girdling corporations, including PepsiCo, Google and Twitter, and the asset management giant BlackRock.

Many of the aid organizations operate not only independently, but as “implementers” of major U.N. humanitarian programs in a variety of countries. But their new donations’ call is independent of the U.N. appeal.

Famine has already been formally declared in parts of northern Nigeria, as well as portions of South Sudan, and drought conditions have worsened already disastrous conditions in Somalia.

But the biggest famine driver in all four cases is man-made sectarian conflict, which shows few signs of receding, leading to mass displacements of people in Yemen, South Sudan and Somalia that are major contributors to the worst refugee crisis since World War II.

Adding another ugly dimension to the crisis, major outbreaks of cholera are striking some of the weakened refugee populations in the four targeted countries; in Yemen, where the cholera crisis is described as the worst in the world (more than 300,000 cholera cases identified), food aid money has been diverted to medical relief, according to the U.N.’s emergency relief coordinator, Stephen O’Brien.

Says Scott Paul, senior humanitarian policy adviser for Oxfam:  “We’ve seen complex crises before. But what is unprecedented is that all these complex crises are happening at the same time.”

The GERC appeal is just the latest attempt to galvanize rapid action around the hunger crisis in four countries:  Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia, and northern portions of Nigeria, which in some cases is driven by drought, but also by seemingly intractable civil conflict. So far, the campaign has not been going well.

Last February, U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres and an array of other top U.N. officials declared that they needed $4.4 billion in donations by the end of the following month to stop the growing famine risk; they go nowhere near that amount.

The U.S. also is supplying safe water, and support for hygiene and health programs to fight the disease.

So far, overall humanitarian aid to the four countries, according to U.N. figures, amounts to about $2.8 billion out of $6.2 billion required this year.  And they, in turn, represent only about a quarter of the overall U.N. humanitarian appeal for this year, which totals about $23.5 billion. Only $8.3 billion, or about 36 percent of that total, has so far been pledged.

(By contrast, the overall revenues of the eight organizations in the GERC appeal amount to about $3.9 billion, with roughly $1.4 billion coming from the U.S. government.)

Those numbers point to, among other things, an increasing climate of donor fatigue, brought on by the sheer magnitude of the world’s growing humanitarian crises, and the repetitive din of the efforts to confront them, interspersed with often-windy U.N.-sponsored humanitarian summits.

“It’s hard to break through on any of these things,” observes Save the Children’s Miles. She observes that the various aid organizations’ own research has pointed to a lack of American popular awareness of the international hunger crisis, which has traditionally sparked a generous individual response.

Meantime, the overall need keeps climbing. Overall, the number of people who need humanitarian assistance has virtually doubled since 2010, from about 53 million to 101.2 million, according to the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance.

Significant parts of that staggering tally are due to the ineffectuality of solutions to conflicts that continue to wreak devastation, such as the Syrian civil war, which has added millions of refugees to the global tally. The U.N. has asked for some $9 billion for Syria and surrounding countries in 2017, and so far has gotten only about $3.3 billion.

The numbers underline a broader problem, according to Brett Schaefer, an expert on U.N. financing at the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington:  “If you take a look at the recent history of U.N. funding campaigns, you see a target dollar amount and then delivery of half or less of that number.”

“What this reveals is donor exhaustion,” Schaefer told Fox News.  “Part of the issue is that in the past, these crises were of short duration. Now we have semi-permanent refugee camps. This is the world we are in:  We have allowed so many situations to fester.”

The point of the new coalition response, in some ways, is to bring the focus of the aid crisis back to some of its traditional basics — including the possibility that a short-term appeal can produce tangible short-term results.

“We can definitely say that the kind of focused relief programs that we need to run in this crisis can definitely save millions of lives,” says Deepmala Mahla, South Sudan country director for humanitarian giant Mercy Corps. “We can provide seeds, we can provide money to replace farm animals, we can help provide water. We can help people to save themselves.”

“And we know that if we don’t, millions will die.”

George Russell is editor-at-large of Fox News and can be found on Twitter: @GeorgeRussell or on Facebook.com/GeorgeRussell



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Winnie the Pooh reportedly censored by Chinese officials


Winnie the Pooh may be unbearable for the Chinese president.

The character has reportedly been censored on the Internet in China by Chinese officials, according to The BBC’s China Blog.

The BBC claims Pooh has been censored “because bloggers have been comparing him to China’s president.”

Photos began circulating on social media in 2013 that showed Winnie the Pooh walking with Tigger alongside photos of President Xi walking with President Obama. And then in 2014, a picture of President Xi shaking hands with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzō Abe hit the Internet, paired with an image of Pooh grabbing Eeyore’s hoof.

According to political analysis portal Global Risk Insights, the most censored photo in China in 2015 was of President Xi was standing up through the sunroof of a car alongside an image of a toy Winnie the Pooh.

In the past, SpongeBob SquarePants, Mickey Mouse and Pokemon were also banned from Chinese television, according to The Guardian.



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'Suspicious vehicle' slams into Capitol Police cruiser


A “suspicious vehicle” rammed into a U.S. Capitol Police cruiser Monday afternoon near the Library of Congress, according to officials.

The incident began when a car being driven erratically came close to hitting the cruiser parked at its post along Independence Avenue. Then, a second vehicle crashed into the cruiser, Fox News was told.

Whether the first car was connected to the incident or if the driver of the second vehicle was distracted remains unclear. 

The driver of the second vehicle was injured and taken to the hospital. The officer in the cruiser sustained minor injuries. 

 



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Alien ships near Saturn?


A former NASA engineer at the Ames Research Center claims aliens are in our solar system and they are creating rings around planets like Saturn.

Dr. Norman Bergrun, who previously worked at NASA Ames Research Center has recently made comments that UFOs are hiding in the rings of Saturn. 

According to conspiracy theory channel, SecureTeam10, which obtained Bergrun’s comments, the alien ships have been here for some time. 

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“Alien spacecraft are proliferating in our solar system and around these ringed planets,” Bergrun is quoted as saying on the video.

Bergrun also noted the aircraft are by the other ringed-planets in the solar system, including Jupiter and Uranus.

Below is the video in its entirety:

SecureTeam 10, which has nearly 900,000 YouTube subscribers, often runs conspiracy theory-based videos. The organization describes itself as the “source for reporting the best in new UFO sighting news, info on the space cover-up, and the strange activity happening on and off of our planet.”

Bergrun wrote the 1986 book entitled “Ringmakers of Saturn.” The book highlights that there are massive alien ships around Saturn (which Bergrun dubs “ring makers”), including ones which have actually created some of the rings around the gas giant. 

This is not the first time Bergrun has made comments like this, having done so previously in 2016.



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Why Disney fired Kermit


Disney’s decision to fire muppeteer Steve Whitmire was one that may have been made after years of reported disagreements.

“The role of Kermit the Frog is an iconic one that is beloved by fans and we take our responsibility to protect the integrity of that character very seriously,” a spokesperson for The Muppets Studio told The Hollywood Reporter in a statement. “We raised concerns about Steve’s repeated unacceptable business conduct over a period of many years and he consistently failed to address the feedback. The decision to part ways was a difficult one which was made in consultation with the Henson family and has their full support.”

Whitmire, who voiced Kermit the Frog for 27 years, recently announced in a blog post verified by the publication that he was fired by Disney after previous reports claimed he left his role.

Muppets creator Jim Henson personally asked Whitmire to take over the role of Kermit before his death at age 53 in 1990. Whitmire was among those at the hospital when Henson passed away.

In addition to Kermit, Whitmire had voiced grumpy critic Statler, Rizzo the Rat, the always-startled Beaker, and other characters for the Muppets.

The 57-year-old told The Hollywood Reporter on Monday he was reportedly let go by Disney last October due to unwanted notes during the short-lived Muppets reboot on ABC, as well as a union disagreement.

“The first issue was that they felt I had been ‘disrespectful’ in being outspoken on character issues with the small group of top creative people during the ABC series,” he explained. “I have been outspoken about what’s best for the Muppets since the Muppets came to Disney [2004], but the fact is I have respect for everyone who was involved in the creation of that series for their own particular contributions. At the same time, I also have insight into their limitations with respect to how well they know the Muppets.”

However, a source close to the studio told the publication Whitmire’s communication style was “overly hostile and unproductive” and his way of negotiation resulted in production delays. The source added it was his alleged persistent unprofessional behavior over the years that led to the firing.

Whitmire claimed he is still baffled by the decision.

“I am still trying to make sense of how those two issues were egregious enough to justify ending a 39-year career without at least giving me an ultimatum at the time the issue occurred when I would have had a chance to correct my course,” he added.

A Muppets Studio spokeswoman confirmed to the Associated Press that longtime Muppets performer Matt Vogel will take over the role of Kermit. Vogel has voiced such characters as Big Bird, Robin the Frog, and The Count.

Whitmare said that while he’s ready to move on and pursue new projects, he will always cherish his time as Kermit, as well as his lasting friendship with Henson.

“The look he brings into the eyes of anyone of any age who meets him in person,” he said on his admiration for Kermit. “I can’t take credit for that, but have been truly honored to keep Jim’s spirit intact.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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Scary warning for new parents


A couple is speaking out about the potential dangers of letting others kiss and hold newborn babies after their infant contracted a life-threatening illness and is now likely to face long-term health issues. Mariana Sifrit was just six-days-old when she was admitted to a Des Moines hospital and diagnosed with Meningitis HSV-1, which is caused by herpes, KTLA.com reported.

The newborn’s parents, Shane and Nicole Sifrit, both tested negative for the virus, which doctors said was likely passed on through a kiss from someone who carries the cold sore virus, the news outlet reported.

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Mariana was transferred to Blank Children’s Hospital where she was placed on life support after her organs started to fail.

“She has a kidney team, a liver team, a blood team, a neurology team,” Shane Sifirt told KTLA.com.

In a July 16 Facebook post, Nicole said doctors informed the couple that if Mariana’s liver cannot repair itself she will not be able to recover. At the very least, doctors expect Mariana to spend another month in the hospital as they assess the damage already caused by the virus.

“Keep your babies isolated, don’t let just anyone come visit them, and make sure they are constantly washing their hands,” the Sifirts warned other parents, through KTLA.com. “Don’t let people kiss your baby, and make sure they ask before they pick up your baby.” 



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Taco Bell fight caught on cam


A former Taco Bell employee in Converse, Texas, got into a heated argument with her former manager when going to pick up her last paycheck — and nearly the entire incident was caught on camera.

The footage, which appears to have been taken by another worker, begins with the former employee — referred to as Margarita — wielding a large tea dispenser, which she appears ready to throw at the man, who claims to be the manager, KSAT reports.

“How old are you, little girl?” Margarita says, taunting the manager. Seconds later, she hurls the contents of the dispenser at the man. The manager quickly reacts by grabbing another tea dispenser himself, and throwing the entire cooler back at Margarita.

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Margarita responds by lifting her dispenser and tossing it over her former manager, returning fire as he stands behind the counter, as seein the video below. WARNING: The following video contains explicit language. Viewer discretion is advised.

Margarita’s son then comes into view, and is seen scrolling through his phone as his mother strolls behind the counter. He tries to make a phone call when another worker approaches and implores him to get his mother out of the store.

“Just go get your mother and take her to the car!” the worker tells Margarita’s son.

While behind the counter together, the manager is yelling at the woman’s son, saying, “Your mom’s about to get knocked out.” The young man then follows his mom behind the counter, tells the manager not to “touch my f—in’ mom, b—h,” and tries to get his mother to leave the restaurant.

Margarita refuses to leave, and stays behind to counter to yell at the former manager. The manager, fed up with margarita and her son, takes his shirt off and continues to yell profanities them.

In a subsequent video, the altercation continutes as another employee stands between the fighting duo to inform them that the police have been called and are on the way. WARNING: The following video also contains explicit language. Viewer discretion is advised.

Margarita is seen wielding a metal spatula, still yelling at her former manager as her son steps to the back of the restaurant.

TACO BELL UNLEASHES ‘BREAKFAST SALSA,’ CONFUSES THE INTERNET

The manager, who has now been identified as Arturo, continues to yell at Margarita. “Yeah b—-, you’re gonna walk out of here sliced up … you’re gonna walk out of here with a big gash on your face. It ain’t worth it.”

Arturo then yells at the woman recording the fight, telling her to stop recording him and to not put it on social media.

Arturo then turns his taunting toward Margarita’s son — who she claims is only 17 — saying, “Look at you, you’re scared over there. Look at you, you’re scared bro. You’re scared.”

Margarita and her son begin to yell at Arturo again, who then asks Margarita to throw the spatula at him and then says, “I’m going to defend myself.”

Margarita’s son then storms over to the counter and knocks over the cash register before appearing to throw something at the manager and exiting the restaurant.

In a third video, the person recording the situation notices the police arrive and walks to the door to meet them. The police enter the Taco Bell and handcuff Margarita as she pleads her case, saying, “I didn’t do anything. It was him.” WARNING: The following video contains further explicit language.

The second officer is instructing Arturo to calm down and put his shirt back on.

Arturo is heard saying explaining to the police that Margarita had been fired, and was only coming in to pick up a paycheck. The camera then pans to the parking lot, where Margarita’s son was being placed in handcuffs by police.

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An employee at that Taco Bell location could not confirm to KSAT when the incident originally took place, or if any of the parties were still employed at the franchise.



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