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Think Tank Sues Gov’t for Information on DACA Program

Wed, 07/18/2018 - 09:00

How many Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) applicants admitted have been placed in deportation proceedings or received a final order to leave the United States? How many had a Social Security number? Federal officials have all of this information and more — but refuse to make it public.

An immigration think tank announced Tuesday it is suing the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Jessica Vaughan, the director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), argued that the information — which comes from the application form for the DACA program — is important.

“It takes an inordinate amount of time to get basic information from government records,” she said. “We don’t always resort to lawsuits.” But in this case, Vaughan said, a lawsuit is justified. All of the information sought comes from questions the government has asked DACA applicants.

A USCIS representative declined to comment, citing agency policy on pending litigation.

Vaughn’s group, which favors lower levels of immigration, requested the information under FOIA in October. The USCIS acknowledged receipt of the request October 16 but did not respond to it within the 20-day deadline specified in the law.

Former President Barack Obama created DACA in 2012 through executive action. It shields from deportation qualifying illegal immigrants whose parents brought them to the United States as children. Beneficiaries also receive renewable permits allowing them to work legally in the United States.

More than 20,000 new DACA applicants have been accepted since a federal judge earlier this year ordered President Donald Trump to restart the program, which the president had ordered closed. There now are more than 700,000 DACA recipients — the vast majority from Mexico.

Vaughan noted that Congress has debated granting amnesty to the illegal immigrants who enrolled in DACA.

“Yet we know very, very little about this population … It’s really surprising that more lawmakers aren’t interested in it,” she said.

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) last month obtained some data from USCIS, including the fact that two-thirds of DACA applicants with criminal records received work permits.

Said Vaughan: “If there is to be an amnesty, it would be better to have a screening process and eligibility rules that apply to green cards.”

But Vaughan said her interests are broader.

Related: Ryan-Backed Immigration Bill Suffers Massive Defeat

“I’ve been very frustrated that there is so little information about people with DACA because we’re talking about granting a path to citizenship,” she said.

Up to now, Vaughan said, scholarship on DACA recipients has been limited to surveys with small samples and studies that make guesses about the DACA population by using census data to identify immigrants with similar demographic characteristics.

Countries such as Australia fund detailed studies of their immigrant populations to determine how newcomers do over time, how much they pay in taxes, and much they cost in government services, Vaughan said.

More robust information would also be useful for research purposes beyond DACA, Vaughan said. One of the requests she made in the FOIA request is information that breaks down DACA by the city — and not just the country — from which applicants came.

Vaughan said that information would give researchers insight into illegal immigration patterns beyond merely DACA, assuming DACA applicants are representative of illegal immigrants generally in a given year.

Related: 20,000 New DACA Applications Approved Since Trump’s Order

Perhaps, Vaughan said, researchers could see patterns indicating where illegal immigrants come from and what motivates them.

The attorney handling the FOIA lawsuit is Julia Axelrod, who recently left the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) to take the newly created position of litigation counsel at Center for Immigration Studies. Vaughan said the think tank intends to become more aggressive in prying information from the government.

To name just one example, Vaughan said she has been waiting for a year and a half for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency to comply with a request to provide a report that the agency produces weekly. She said she wanted that report from four different dates in order to track changes over time.

“All they had to do is Xerox them and put them in an envelope,” she said.

(photo credit, article image: Defend DACA, CC BY 2.0, by Molly Adams)

The post Think Tank Sues Gov’t for Information on DACA Program appeared first on LifeZette.

Elitists Undermine Economic Opportunities for Millions of Regular Students

Wed, 07/18/2018 - 09:00

It’s time for liberal education activists and legislators to realize their government-focused, one-size-fits-all approach to education is not meeting the demands of the modern workplace.

Currently, there are approximately 6 million skilled labor positions available in the United States, and not enough people to fill these well-paying jobs. This giant, flashing-red neon light is telling us that our current education system is not adapting quickly enough to fit the needs of a changing economy. And, rather than limiting pathways to success, we should be expanding them.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), two-thirds of jobs require an associate’s degree, some education beyond high school, or less. We are doing people a disservice by telling them they cannot succeed without a traditional four-year education when this is just not the case.

The Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce says there are about 30 million jobs in the United States that pay an average of $55,000 per year and don’t require bachelor’s degrees. Health care and personal care will be among the jobs most in demand by 2022, and many of these jobs don’t require a four-year degree.

For-profit and nonprofit colleges and universities can offer a great alternative to traditional four-year schools to acquire the skills needed in today’s economy. They are often more flexible and responsive to the demands of their students and the workforce because they are not subjected to the same bureaucracy as government-run institutions.

These schools also tend to cater to more nontraditional students such as veterans, women and minorities who are looking to start a career, acquire new skills to change careers, or update their skills.

Rather than support these different choices for self-improvement and advancement, liberal senators such as Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.) Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), with the support of activist cheerleaders such as Robert Shireman and David Halperin, are attempting to weaponize the IRS against a select group of private schools that have changed their status from for-profit to nonprofit.

Earlier this year, the senators wrote a letter to the IRS asking it to “closely scrutinize” these schools, not unlike when the IRS was closely scrutinizing the tax-exempt status of hundreds of Tea Party, conservative and evangelical nonprofits during the Obama administration. These senators claim they are “concerned” these schools may take advantage of their new, tax-exempt status.

These concerns are rather rich coming from these folks. Warren taught at Harvard University — a nonprofit, tax-exempt school, and Shiremen received his masters from Harvard, which is home to the largest endowment fund in the world, at more than $37 billion.

Halperin went to Yale University, which comes in second at over $27 billion in endowments. Are Warren, Shireman, and Halperin looking for the government to closely scrutinize Harvard and Yale and the benefits they have gained through their tax-exempt status? No.

This is a classic example of liberals’ trying to use government to pick winners and losers. For them, if you are a government-run university, or among a select few elite private schools, you’re in good standing. But if you offer something outside the “programmed agenda,” the IRS should come after you.

The same is true at the elementary, middle and high school levels when offering parents and students a choice in education. It’s met with fiery opposition. This is wrong.

A one-size-fits-all, government-prescribed, assembly-line approach to education isn’t working. It leaves us vulnerable to economic changes.

Our nation was built on free-market principles that allow for competition and choice. This should especially be true in education. Whether it’s about kindergarten or college, we should be able to pick a path that is best for us as individuals.

A one-size-fits-all, government-prescribed, assembly-line approach to education isn’t working. It leaves us vulnerable to economic changes, just as we are seeing in today’s economy with so many skilled jobs going unfilled.

If we are to meet our nation’s demand for skilled workers, we must look to for-profit and nonprofit schools and universities to train the future workforce and fill the gaps in our economy. It is by expanding choices and opportunities in education, not limiting them, that we will solve this problem and allow our economy to grow even stronger.

Matthew Kandrach is president of Consumer Action for a Strong Economy (CASE), a free market-oriented consumer advocacy organization.

(photo credit, homepage and article images: Richard Durbin, CC BY 2.0Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Bernie Sanders, Collage/Colorized, CC BY-SA 2.0Gage Skidmore; Elizabeth Warren, Collage/Colorized, CC BY-SA 2.0Edward Kimmel)

The post Elitists Undermine Economic Opportunities for Millions of Regular Students appeared first on LifeZette.

ICE Slaps Detainer on Man in Dallas Held for Sexually Assaulting a Child

Wed, 07/18/2018 - 04:01

That’s just it — he wasn’t thinking at all.

A seemingly minor misstep by 24-year-old Jose Nahun Lopez-Cruz, of parking in a handicapped spot in West Dallas, Texas, was only the beginning of a cascade of charges that came crashing down on him when Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) slapped him with a detainer in early July.

“It’s OK, she’s gonna be 16 soon,” the man inexplicably said to police about his live-in girlfriend, whom an officer had spotted in the Toyota Camry in a parking lot near Trinity Groves, as The Dallas Morning News reported.

It’s not “OK” at all — not for him, for her, or for the American people — until justice is served.

Right now, for Lopez-Cruz, positive thinking got him as far as a jail cell.

The man is being held in the Dallas County Jail on a $25,500 bond, as Breitbart reported.

Law enforcement also spotted an open container of alcohol in the man’s car; marijuana was found as well.

ICE lodged a detainer on July 8 against the self-admitted citizen of Honduras, who was apparently illegally present in the United States, according to The Daily Caller. The Texas anti-sanctuary city law known as SB4 requires local law enforcement agencies to comply with such requests, as the outlet also noted.

The Texas anti-sanctuary city law known as SB4 requires local law enforcement agencies to comply with such requests.

So what began as a minor traffic stop ended with charges involving drugs, alcohol, and the sexual assault of a child — and an ICE detainer for being in the country illegally.

The young teen, only 15, told police via a translator that she had been living with Lopez-Cruz for two months, and that she had been having sex with the man regularly during that time.

Michele Blood is a Flemington, New Jersey-based freelance writer and a regular contributor to LifeZette.

(photo credit, article image: U.S.-Mexico border in San Diego, CC BY 2.0, by Bruno Sanchez-Andrade Nuno / YouTube)

The post ICE Slaps Detainer on Man in Dallas Held for Sexually Assaulting a Child appeared first on LifeZette.

Not ‘Much Daylight’ Between Trump and Obama on Russia, Actually

Wed, 07/18/2018 - 03:47

There really isn’t “much daylight between” President Donald Trump’s advocacy for better U.S.-Russia relations and the rhetoric former President Barack Obama often used during his Oval Office tenure, Fox News host Laura Ingraham noted Tuesday night on “The Ingraham Angle.”

“What’s interesting is to hear that old Obama from 2009 about the need to reset, his comments to [2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt] Romney … that sounds like Trump. That’s really what Donald Trump, I think, thinks,” Ingraham said. “The core of what [Obama] said there in 2009? I don’t think there’s much daylight between that core idea and what Trump is trying to do.”

Ingraham pointed to comments Obama made during his first visit to Moscow as president in 2009. Obama insisted then that “America wants a strong, peaceful and prosperous Russia,” noting that “Americans and Russians share common interests that form a basis for cooperation.”

“That is why I have called for a ‘reset’ in relations between the United States and Russia. This must be more than a fresh start between the Kremlin and the White House, though that is important,” Obama added at the time. “It must be a sustained effort among the American and Russian people to identify mutual interests, and to expand dialogue and cooperation that can pave the way to progress.”

Ingraham also highlighted Obama’s mockery of Romney’s warnings against Russia in 2012 during one of the presidential debates. Obama told Romney, “When you were asked, ‘What’s the biggest geopolitical threat facing America?’ you said, ‘Russia.’ Not al-Qaida; you said Russia. And the 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back, because the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.”

Although Trump and Obama “are posited as these polar opposites on a lot of issues,” the two men “actually sound a lot more alike than they do different” when it comes to dealing with Russia, liberal journalist Glenn Greenwald told Ingraham. Greenwald is a co-founder of The Intercept.

“And it is true that Obama repeatedly refused to do things that Trump did, like send lethal arms to Ukraine, like bomb forces [of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad] — because Obama didn’t want to provoke tensions with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin because he thought it would be better for both countries to get along, which is very similar to what Donald Trump is saying,” Greenwald insisted.

Ingraham noted that Trump is “really, really frustrated” that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into allegations of collusion between Trump campaign officials and Russian interests “calls all of his efforts into question.”

“That spilled over, I think, into Helsinki,” Ingraham said.

Trump was slammed by Democrats and Republicans alike after his controversial press conference Monday with Putin in Helsinki, Finland. Trump said he holds “both countries responsible” for Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election because “we’re all to blame.” The president also said that while he has “great confidence in my intelligence people,” he believed Putin “was extremely strong and powerful in his denial.”

Trump clarified his remarks on Tuesday after facing intense bipartisan backlash.

“I have full faith and support for America’s great intelligence agencies — always have,” Trump told reporters Tuesday before a meeting with lawmakers at the White House.

“And I have felt very strongly that while Russia’s actions had no impact at all on the outcome of the election, let me be totally clear in saying that — and I’ve said this many times — I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place,” Trump continued, emphasizing that “there was no collusion — at all.”

Related: Trump Clarifies Controversial Helsinki Remarks on Putin’s Meddling Denial

“I entered the meeting with the firm conviction that diplomacy and engagement is better than hostility and conflict,” Trump insisted.

Before that clarification, Obama spoke in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Tuesday.

“Look around — strongman politics are ascendant, suddenly, whereby elections and some pretense of democracy are maintained, the form of it, where those in power seek to undermine every institution or norm that gives democracy meaning,” Obama warned.

Ingraham insisted that “Obama’s star turn today was designed to seize on the opening that the globalists feel they have after Helsinki.”

“But as usual, they overreach. And they have this really convenient case of amnesia regarding their own role in the rotten state of affairs with Russia,” Ingraham noted. “Obama did not reset our relationship with Russia, even though he bragged about it all the way through 2012. And Obama consistently underestimated the challenge posed by Putin’s regime.”

Greenwald, who received a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on mass government surveillance, emphasized that Obama “resisted” the “bipartisan pressure” to alienate Russia further “for eight years.”

“Trump has a realistic and a pragmatic view of the post-Cold War era.”

“[Obama] was a believer that Russia was not a threat, that we ought to try and cooperate with them. It’s the Democrats in the post-2016 era, looking for an explanation of how [2016 Democratic presidential nominee] Hillary Clinton lost, who were trying to essentially find a foreign villain to escape accountability and blame for themselves,” Greenwald said. “And it’s a very reckless political game that they’re playing.”

Ingraham said that “the bottom line” is that “the two biggest nuclear powers in the world should have an open and frank line of communication.”

“That’s better for America’s security. And guess what? It’s better for global peace,” she said. “It’s what liberals used to be for — more talk, less war. Trump has a realistic and a pragmatic view of the post-Cold War era.”

(photo credit, article image: Donald Trump, CC BY-SA 2.0, by Gage Skidmore)

The post Not ‘Much Daylight’ Between Trump and Obama on Russia, Actually appeared first on LifeZette.

Undocumented People Can’t Live or Work Here, Says the City Council

Wed, 07/18/2018 - 02:20

A Nebraska town is considering blocking undocumented immigrants from obtaining jobs or renting houses ahead of a new Costco plant opening in the area.

The Scribner City Council has already approved an ordinance that would prohibit the hiring and renting of homes to undocumented immigrants.

In order for the measure to pass, it just needs one more approving vote — and Scribner Mayor Ken Thomas said it has the support of the community.

“I have not had one person come up to me and question what’s going on,” Thomas said.

Scribner, located about 60 miles northwest of Omaha, has a population of less than 900 people.

About 96 percent of those people are white, according to data from the U.S. Census.

A new Costco plant is set to open in the area next year. It will employ approximately 1,000 people, meaning new residents will likely come to the area for job opportunities.

Related: Chainsaw-Wielding Illegal Immigrant Was Deported a Stunning 11 Times

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Nebraska is considering legal action because the policy “invites racial profiling and risks increased harassment and discrimination,” Danielle Conrad, the group’s executive director, told the Associated Press.

The Associated Press contributed to this Fox News report, which is used by permission.

Read more at Fox News:
Restaurant Faces Backlash After Shaming Teen Who Paid with Quarters
Robot Butlers at Las Vegas Hotel Aim to Elevate Guests’ Experience
Emmett Till Killing Reopened by Government Over ‘New Information’

The post Undocumented People Can’t Live or Work Here, Says the City Council appeared first on LifeZette.

Injured Army Vet from Texas Stunned by Gift of a Mortgage-Free Home

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 22:40

An Army veteran who served for 13 years and was injured by an improvised explosive device was surprised Monday with the gift of a custom, mortgage-free home.

U.S. Army Maj. Eric King told FOX4 he was under the impression he was a candidate to be considered for a free home — but had no idea the selection process was already complete.

“I wasn’t prepared for this. I thought we were going to meet and just have coffee. This is truly surprising,” he said. “I want to thank my Heavenly Father for blessing me for being here on today. He has allowed me to get through the triumph, surviving combat, being able to get back in the right state of mind.”

King served 13 years in the army and did two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. During his last deployment, he was wounded in an IED explosion.

“I don’t myself feel deserving of it,” he said of the house. “There are greater heroes out there who can’t be here today. They deserve it. They deserve it.”

King and his family were also treated to a motorcycle escort for the surprise, according to FOX4.

“There are greater heroes out there who can’t be here today. They deserve it. They deserve it.”

Ronnie Lyles from Operation Finally Home, the group that partnered with the city of Irving, Texas, and a group of donors to buy the home, told CBS Dallas that surprising King with the house was simply about giving back to someone who had already given so much for his community and country.

Related: WWII Veteran Finds Joy and Healing by Helping Military Kids

“At the end of the day we’re taking the stress of a mortgage off their shoulders, where they can continue to heal their mind, their body and their spirit, and get on with their lives,” Lyles said.

This Fox News piece is used by permission.

Read more at Fox News:
Pro Wrestlers Come and Gone
Stars Then and Now
When Kathy Griffin’s Jokes Crossed the Line

The post Injured Army Vet from Texas Stunned by Gift of a Mortgage-Free Home appeared first on LifeZette.

Trump Clarifies Controversial Helsinki Remarks on Putin’s Meddling Denial

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 22:09

President Donald Trump reiterated his “full faith in our intelligence agencies” and pledged to “repel” any future election interference attempts Tuesday, when he clarified his remarks from Monday’s controversial press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland.

“I have full faith and support for America’s great intelligence agencies — always have,” Trump told reporters Tuesday before a meeting with lawmakers at the White House.

“And I have felt very strongly that while Russia’s actions had no impact at all on the outcome of the [2016 U.S. presidential] election, let me be totally clear in saying that — and I’ve said this many times — I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place,” Trump continued, emphasizing that “there was no collusion — at all.”

Trump fielded intense bipartisan backlash after saying during the Helsinki press conference that he holds “both countries responsible” for Russia’s interference with the 2016 U.S. presidential election because “we’re all to blame.” Trump also said Monday that while he has “great confidence in my intelligence people,” he believes that Putin “was extremely strong and powerful in his denial.”

When asked during the press conference about Putin’s denials of Russian election interference, Trump replied that Putin “just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

After reviewing a clip of his answer, Trump now claims he misspoke because he meant to say “wouldn’t” instead of “would.”

“And I realized that there is a need for some clarification. It should have been obvious. I thought it would be obvious. But I would like to clarify, just in case it wasn’t,” Trump said. “In a key sentence in my remarks, I said the word ‘would’ instead of ‘wouldn’t.’ The sentence should have been, ‘I don’t see any reason why I wouldn’t, or why it wouldn’t be Russia.'”

Trump noted that he has “on numerous occasions” referred to the U.S. intelligence community’s findings “that Russians attempted to interfere in our elections.” Trump then took a swing at former President Barack Obama for not “doing anything about” stopping the Russian meddling.

“Unlike previous administrations, my administration has and will continue to move aggressively to [repel] any efforts,” Trump said. “We will stop it. We will repel it — any efforts to interfere in our elections. We are doing everything in our power to prevent Russian interference in 2018.”

Noting that Obama “was given information just prior to” the 2016 presidential election, Trump rebuked Obama and his officials for deciding “not to do anything about it.”

“The reason they decided that was pretty obvious to all — they thought [2016 Democratic presidential nominee] Hillary Clinton was going to win the election, and they didn’t think it was a big deal,” Trump said. “By contrast, my administration is taking a very firm stance. It’s a very firm stance on a strong action. We’re going to take strong actions to secure our election systems and the process.”

Related: ABC Anchor Pushes Flake to Sink Kavanaugh in Helsinki Backlash

Amid the ongoing backlash to his Helsinki press conference, Trump reminded viewers that he harbors “the strongest respect for our intelligence agencies headed by my people.”

Trump said he chose to meet with Putin “in an attempt to tackle some of the most pressing issues facing humanity” despite knowing it could be poorly received in the U.S.

“My meeting with President Putin was really interesting in so many different ways because we haven’t had relationships with Russia for a long time,” Trump said. “I entered the meeting with the firm conviction that diplomacy and engagement is better than hostility and conflict.”

(photo credit, homepage and article: YouTube)

The post Trump Clarifies Controversial Helsinki Remarks on Putin’s Meddling Denial appeared first on LifeZette.

Dems Fail to Hijack Internet Censorship Hearing to Instead Bash Trump

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 20:51

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) tried unsuccessfully Tuesday to hijack a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Silicon Valley firms’ censoring conservative political speech on the internet and turn it instead into a bash-in on President Donald Trump’s Russian election meddling comments.

“If we don’t take action, the American people might not trust the next election,” Nadler said in his opening comments. “Instead of taking action in this committee, instead of refuting the president with information you and I both read, Mr. Chairman, we spend six more hours questioning Lisa Page about Cheryl Mills’ laptop and Hillary Clinton’s email.”

Nadler, the judicial panel’s highest-ranking Democrat, and other Democrats argued that instead of discussing the importance of protecting the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech, the committee should instead talk about Russia’s election meddling and Trump’s alleged dismissal of those concerns during a news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Related: Trump’s Putin Presser Spurs Mainstream Media Meltdown

“This is a national emergency, and our silence is unacceptable. Our nation is under attack,” Nadler said. “I move that the committee goes onto executive session for the purposes of discussing the evidence in our possession that speaks directly to the special counsel indictments and the president’s apparent submission to the Russian government.”

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) allowed the motion to move onto a vote, which failed 10 to 12 on a straight party-line vote. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) interrupted the vote to ask whether Nadler was recognized to bring up a motion. Goodlatte noted his concern but allowed the vote to continue anyway.

“Mr. Chairman, a point of order,” Issa said. “Did you recognize him for a motion or did you recognize him for an opening statement?”

Trump has been highly criticized for dismissing the findings of the intelligence community on Monday after meeting with Putin in Helsinki, Finland. But Trump said Tuesday he did not intend to say he rejects the findings but rather that he supports the U.S. intelligence community.

Related: Left-Wing Journo Calls Out ‘Reckless Lunacy’ Toward Trump

Nadler isn’t alone with many other Democrats in expressing concern that the hearing is a distraction from the more important issues. Democrats echoed those comments during a series of hearings involving FBI agent Peter Strzok and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page in recent weeks. 

Strzok and Page drew the attention of a congressional investigation for exchanging thousands of text messages that showed a deep and bitter disdain for Trump.

The House Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee launched a joint investigation of the FBI’s probes of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server for official business while she was secretary of state and of the basis for Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s decision to appoint Robert Mueller as special counsel to examine allegations that aides to Trump’s 2016 campaign colluded with Russian interests.

The post Dems Fail to Hijack Internet Censorship Hearing to Instead Bash Trump appeared first on LifeZette.

Bitten! Citizen Scientists Help Uncover Exposure to Lyme and Other Tick-Borne Illnesses

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 20:29

Think you’re safe from Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses unless you live in the northeastern U.S., where it is endemic? Think again. New research demonstrates that residents of many states are potentially vulnerable to diseases carried by the blood-sucking arachnids.

Ticks that carry possibly deadly diseases were identified in 83 counties in 24 states where their presence was previously undocumented.

Research leads on an ambitious project involving citizen “scientists” included Nathan Nieto of Northern Arizona University’s Department of Biological Sciences and Daniel Salkeld of Colorado State University’s Biology Department.

“People should be aware of ticks and tick-borne disease, even when they may think there’s not a recorded incidence of a tick in a county,” Nieto told HealthDay in an interview. “These things — they’re not obeying borders. They’re going by biology. If they get moved there by a deer or bird or people or pets, they’re going to establish themselves and start growing.”

Nieto, Salkeld, and other members of the team got more than they bargained for when they enlisted citizens’ help in tracking down the dangerous pests responsible for tick-borne illnesses such as Lyme disease. Tapping crowdsourcing for data gathering, the team put out a call for everyday citizens to send ticks to their research facility for testing.

The research team’s original goal was to collect about 2,000 ticks for the study, a press release from Colorado State University explained. In the end, Nieto, Salkeld, and the rest of the team examined more than 16,000 ticks from every state in the U.S., save Alaska, and from Puerto Rico as well.

People removed most of the ticks they sent in from living hosts — 71.4 percent were from humans, while 17.1 percent were from dogs. A small percentage were removed from other domesticated animals, wildlife, and livestock.

Researchers tested for bacteria that cause Lyme disease, babesiosis, anaplasmosis, monocytic erlichiosis, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

The 24 states with newly documented ixodes scapularis (deer) or ixodes pacificus (Western black-legged) tick populations include: Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin, the Bay Area Lyme Foundation reported.

Bay Area Lyme Foundation (BALF) is a Silicon Valley-based nonprofit group focused on the prevention of Lyme disease and the development of better diagnostics and treatments for the most common vector-borne infectious disease in the world. BALF funded the team’s research.

Related: What You Need to Know About Tick-Borne Illnesses

In addition to identifying many U.S. locations where disease-carrying ticks had not formerly been documented, the researchers also discovered that ticks needn’t pick up the pathogens via blood meal. Instead, they’re born carrying the germs that cause so much suffering for humans, some of whom contract either a single disease or multiple co-infections following a bite.

The data from the study are medically crucial to both patients and physicians. Symptoms of some tick-borne diseases mimic a wide variety of other conditions and are regularly misdiagnosed.

Treating such illnesses promptly is vital to ensuring successful treatment. Health care providers in areas newly identified as having tick populations that carry disease-causing bacteria must be on the alert for tick-borne disease as potential explanations.

Michele Blood is a Flemington, New Jersey-based freelance writer and a regular contributor to LifeZette.

The post Bitten! Citizen Scientists Help Uncover Exposure to Lyme and Other Tick-Borne Illnesses appeared first on LifeZette.

House Panel Worries About Google, Facebook Censoring Conservatives

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 19:43

A panel of officials from leading Silicon Valley digital technology giants testified Tuesday in response to congressional concerns that they are using their immense social media power to censor conservative content with which they disagree politically.

“We thrive to protect expression including views that some of our users might find objectionable,” Nick Pickles, Twitter’s senior strategist for public policy, told the House Judiciary Committee. “Threats of violence, abuse of content, and harassment are an attack on free expression intended to silence the voice of others, and therefore robbing Twitter of valuable perspectives, and threatening the free expression we seek to foster. Accordingly, the Twitter rules prohibit this and other types of behavior.”

Pickles said Twitter does not believe censorship will solve societal problems, nor that removing content will solve disagreements. He admitted that mistakes are sometimes made, but the company’s goal is to not filter out content based on ideology.

Other members of the panel expressed similar views on their policies.

“We are dedicated to access to information and freedom of expression,” said Juniper Downs, YouTube’s global head of public policy. “But it’s not everything goes on YouTube. We developed robust community guidelines, which we publish, to provide clear guidance on the rules of the road. For example, we don’t allow pornography, incitement of violence or harassment.”

The judiciary panel hearing was convened, according to chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) because the Silicon Valley leaders “have dominated their markets, and perhaps rightfully so, given the quality of their products. However, this begs another question: Are these companies using their market power to push the envelope on filtering decisions that favor the contexts they prefer?”

Members of the expert panel claimed their respective companies thrive to uphold free speech. But they noted that there are exceptions for content that violates the law or internal guidelines against such practices as promoting violence or child pornography.

Related: Five Key Facts You Should Know About Mark Zuckerberg’s 12-Year Facebook Apology Tour

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) then pressed the panel on how, for example, the algorithm Facebook uses to filter out content works. Facebook’s head of global policy management, Monika Bickert, told King it depends on numerous factors, including the kinds of information a user prefers.

“It looks at things like what is the type of content an individual tends to look at, what’s the context of a certain piece of content, what type of engagement is the content generating,” Bickert said. “There is no point in where an individual Facebook employee decides where an individual piece of content will go in someone else’s news feed.”

King also expressed concern over the type of organizations that help companies like Facebook draft their content policies. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) was brought up because critics have repeatedly claimed the group’s assessments are driven by extreme left-wing partisanship. Bickert admitted Facebook uses SPLC but claimed it was only one of many organizations consulted.

“We do talk with over a hundred organizations in the course of creating our content policies,” Bickert said. “That includes organizations from around the world. No organization has decision-making power over our content policies.”

Facebook also has a system of spotting what it may judge to be “fake news.” But content deemed as fake is not removed unless it violates internal rules against something like violence or porn. That content is reviewed by a group of fact-checkers, and if all of them agree it’s fake, it is downgraded so it’s less likely to appear in random news feeds.

The content that is deemed fake news is also paired with links to related articles considered trustworthy.  The Weekly Standard, Associated Press, FactCheck.org, PolitiFact and Snopes.com are the current fact-checkers. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) pushed the issue by asking how that process works.

“We do work with third-party fact-checkers, all of them are approved, their points are approved, and they are signatories to the International Fact-Checking Network’s code of principles,” Bickert. “The way the process works, if something is flagged as potentially false it is sent to all five, or all participating fact-checkers. I believe there are five.”

The post House Panel Worries About Google, Facebook Censoring Conservatives appeared first on LifeZette.

The Remains of 55 U.S. Soldiers May Be Flown Home from North Korea Next Week

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 19:30

The U.S. and North Korea reportedly have come to an agreement: The remains of 55 American soldiers may return home to this country as early as next week.

The development represents an important opportunity for closure for many military families, as LifeZette reported in June. An unnamed American official revealed the latest news to Stars & Stripes. “They’re going to use our cases for the remains and give them back to us,” the official told the military publication.

On Monday, the U.S. and North Korea held working-level meetings in the border village of Panmunjom to coordinate the details of the military remains’ return, according to The Korea Herald.

The agreement would mark an achievement in the ongoing talks between the U.S. and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), 65 years after the two countries signed an armistice.

The United States would be permitted to fly the military remains in containers out of North Korea on June 27, the anniversary of the armistice, according to the agreement. It would be the first repatriation of U.S. military remains from North Korea since 2007, Stars & Stripes claimed.

However, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency also reported the return of the remains of Korean War veteran Army Cpl. Albert E. Quintero in May 2018 for a full military burial with honors in Long Beach, California.

President Donald Trump said after the historic June 12 summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un that military remains were “sent back” to the United States. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said later in June that the U.S. had not yet “physically received” them.

The two parties sat down for the first meeting between generals in nine years on Sunday. North Korea also agreed to continue searching for U.S. military remains, as many outlets reported, including The Guardian.

North Korea also agreed to continue searching for U.S. military remains.

“Working-level meetings between U.S. and North Korean officials will begin on Monday, July 16, to coordinate the next steps, including the transfer of remains already collected in the DPRK,” Pompeo had said in a statement on Sunday.

A formal end to the war between the two nations is proposed for this year, North and South Korean officials said in April.

And on June 12, during the summit with President Trump, Kim agreed to recover the remains, “including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.” But the process has been slow, Stars & Stripes reported.

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ABC Anchor Pushes Flake to Sink Kavanaugh in Helsinki Backlash

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 18:49

ABC News host George Stephanopoulos pressured vocal anti-Trump Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) on Tuesday to retaliate against President Donald Trump’s controversial press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin by sinking Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

“Senator, you have a lot of leverage. One-vote margin for the Supreme Court in the Senate. If you withhold your vote, you can demand accountability from the president, from his team,” Stephanopoulos said during a segment on “Good Morning America.” “Are you willing to do that?”

Flake has wielded the confirmation of Trump’s judicial nominees against him before. The senator threatened to hold up Trump’s judicial nominees during a June interview on ABC News’ “This Week” unless the Senate opposed Trump’s tariffs.

Although Flake didn’t refuse outright to implement Stephanopoulos’ suggestion to block Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, he warned that “it’s more difficult” for him to reject Kavanaugh.

“Well, I’ve used that on other issues, like tariffs, where we can look at a defined objective. For me, it was getting a vote on tariffs last week, and we did,” Flake replied. “It’s more difficult in this regard, however.”

Noting that the Constitution gives the president “a lot of power with regard to foreign policy,” Flake said the Senate would “have to see if there is an objective measurable that we can demand before using leverage like this. That’s what I’m looking at.”

Trump fielded the bipartisan Helsinki backlash after saying during the event that he holds “both countries responsible” for Russia’s interference with the 2016 U.S. presidential election because “we’re all to blame.” Trump also said Monday that while he has “great confidence in my intelligence people,” he believes that Putin “was extremely strong and powerful in his denial.”

The president’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh last week also spurred near-apoplectic fits from liberal activists and pundits who worried that Roe v. Wade would be at risk if the Senate confirmed the conservative Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

The press conference caused mainstream media members, Democrats, and Republicans to erupt into mass hysterics. Former CIA Director John Brennan even tweeted that “Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors.’ It was nothing short of treasonous.”

Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of “high crimes & misdemeanors.” It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???

— John O. Brennan (@JohnBrennan) July 16, 2018

And Stephanopoulos registered his displeasure with Trump’s press conference as well, as he pressed Flake to name the kinds of actions he planned to take in retaliation.

“You say you’re concerned. You say this was shameful. The big question now is what you can do about it,” Stephanopoulos wanted to know. “You’re a Republican senator. You’ve been quite critical, as we said, of the president.”

“Many are demanding that you take some action right now as well. Sen. [Chuck] Schumer [D-N.Y.] said it’s time to ramp up sanctions, said it’s time to bring the president’s team up to Capitol Hill to testify about what happened there, to demand extradition of the Russians,” Stephanopoulos continued, referring to the 12 Russian officials special counsel Robert Mueller indicted last week.

Related: Trump’s Actions with Russia ‘Speak Stronger’ Than His ‘Occasional Gaffes’

“Are you willing to call for that, and are you willing back it up with action?” Stephanopoulos demanded of Flake.

The senator insisted the U.S. ought to increase sanctions against Russia and “target those who were implicated with the indictments.”

“Second, we ought to have the national security team of the White House come up and talk to us on Capitol Hill about what happened there,” Flake added. “Third, I think immediately the Senate ought to pass a resolution stating our support for the intelligence community, and that we do believe them, and we don’t believe the denials coming out of Vladimir Putin’s mouth.”

(photo credit, homepage and article: YouTube)

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Pro Football Player Leads Heroic Rescue After a Car’s Plunge

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 18:40

A New Orleans Saints player was being hailed a hero after leading a group of bystanders to help free a man trapped in a car after it plunged from a parking garage in New Orleans on Sunday.

Mitchell Loewen, 25, was with his wife and young son when a car fell from the fourth deck of a downtown New Orleans parking garage, The Times-Picayune reported. Loewen said the crash sounded like “a bomb or an earthquake or something,” and he rushed toward the victim.

“There were a bunch of people standing around, but not approaching the car, and I was like ‘What’s up, let’s help this guy,'” Loewen told The Times-Picayune. “I mean, obviously there was someone in there. I wasn’t going to just stand by and watch. It was a life or death situation.”

The driver’s legs were pinned down by the car and were stuck in the passenger seat, while his upper body was hunched over the back seat, Loewen told the newspaper. The defensive lineman said he called about 10 people over to help him out.

During the rescue, Loewen said the man stopped responding to his questions. A bystander who was helping Loewen said the man was still conscious, and that’s when Loewen ripped one of the doors off its hinges and started to speak to the person, according to the newspaper.

“He didn’t say much, he was just thanking us all. I hugged him and told him he was going to be OK, and then I prayed with him,” Loewen said. “I couldn’t tell how bad his injuries were, but there was a lot of blood and broken glass.”

New Orleans Saints player helps rescue man trapped in car after fall from parking garage https://t.co/8a33I6pqHS #FoxNews…this is what A REAL HERO looks like. normal everyday Christian. thank you Mitchell #Loewen

— Steve Maulberger (@SMaulberger) July 17, 2018

It’s still unclear how the crash happened and how extensive the man’s injuries are, New Orleans Police Department spokesman Aaron Looney told The Times-Picayune. No one else was injured.

“It was crazy,” Loewen said. “It was a life-changing experience.”

Related: Multi-Car Crash Takes the Lives of a Dad and Four Daughters — Mom Survives

The 25-year-old said the whole incident was “like a movie.”

“I just did what I had to do, and I wasn’t thinking about anything else,” he said.

This Fox News piece is used by permission.

Read more from Fox News:
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Left-Wing Journo Calls Out ‘Reckless Lunacy’ Toward Trump

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 18:09

Intensely negative reaction among liberal Democrats and progressives to President Donald Trump’s joint news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin Monday in Helsinki, Finland, has been nearly unanimous.

Not Glenn Greenwald, though.

The left-wing journalist and founder of The Intercept said Tuesday on “The Laura Ingraham Show” that some of the over-the-top critiques have been offensive and dangerous. Former CIA Director John Brennan, for example, went so far as to use the word “treasonous” to describe Trump’s refusal to support his intelligence services’ conclusion that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election.

“To cast a desire to forge better relations with even our most intense adversaries as some kind of treason is not only legally and constitutionally ignorant, since treason is the aiding and abetting of an enemy at war — and we’re not actually at war with Russia — but also an incredibly dangerous thing to do in terms of the climate,” he said.

Greenwald said Trump’s performance during Monday’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin is worthy of criticism. But he said it makes no sense to discourage communication between the two countries.

“It’s complete lunacy,” he said. “The U.S. and Russia have 90 percent of the nuclear weapons on this planet. They have come close on multiple occasions throughout their history to literally annihilating the human species.”

Greenwald said both the United States and Russia routinely engage in espionage against each other. He said it is reasonable for the United States to try to prevent Russian activities, but he added that Trump critics have lost all perspective in comparing Russian election meddling to events like the Japanese sneak attack on the United States at Pearl Harbor during World War II.

“I mean, that is so offensive, and so insane,” he said. “And, again, you’re talking about ratcheting up tensions recklessly between two countries that still have thousands of nuclear-tipped missiles pointed at one another’s cities with archaic Cold War trigger systems — it is really the height of reckless lunacy.”

Greenwald pointed to Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks, who on MSNBC equated Trump’s news conference with Kristallnacht, the infamous “Night of Broken Glass,” in which Nazi thugs vandalized Jewish-owned businesses in 1938.

“What’s more trivializing than equating a press conference between two foreign leaders — even if you think Trump didn’t handle himself well — with the start of the Nazis extinguishing of Jews on a genocidal scale?” he said. “I mean, to use that language is grotesque.”

Greenwald said Trump has taken shots from all sides.

“It’s not just from the Left,” he said. “It’s from the media. It’s from lots of Republicans, not even just neocons — that Trump somehow betrayed the country — is really unhinged rhetoric that I think has the chance to produce some really dangerous results.”

Greenwald noted that the United States has maintained close relations for decades with some of the most repressive regimes in the world.

Related: House Speaker Open to Tougher Russia Sanctions Following Helsinki Flap

“President [Barack] Obama embraced all sorts of strongmen, including the Egyptian dictator and lots of others,” he said. “So this idea that this is some sort of new Trumpian invention is revisionist, you know, fairy tales.”

Greenwald also pointed out that the actual policies of the Trump administration are more confrontational toward Russia than Obama’s. That includes providing lethal arms to Ukraine — a step Obama rejected following Russia’s invasion of the neighboring country. Trump also bombed Russian ally Syria, Greenwald said.

“I actually prefer Obama’s approach, because I think that the U.S. and Russia should try to cooperate,” he said. “But all I’m saying is that the narrative here that Trump is some kind of controlled by Putin, that he has blackmail over him, that Trump is a puppet of the Kremlin, is completely negated by actual reality.”

(photo credit, homepage and article images: Glenn Greenwald, CC BY-SA 4.0, by Robert O’Neill)

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Slideshow: See These 12 Golden Age Movie Stars Who Are Still Alive

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 17:30

Just because they were in front of the Hollywood cameras years ago — decades ago — doesn’t mean they aren’t still alive and well, and, in some cases. actively working.

Sure, many Golden Age stars are no longer with us today (alas, think of Cary Grant, Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart, and so many others).

But some indeed are very much still with us.

Here is a look at 12 of these legends who, despite their mature age, are still going strong.

(photo credit, article image: Mel Brooks, CC BY-SA 3.0, by Angela George / Betty White, CC BY 2.0, by David Shankbone)

 

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Lisa Page May Seek Immunity, Judicial Watch’s Chris Farrell Says

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 17:19

Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page may “look for an immunity deal” as part of her cooperation with congressional investigations into allegations of anti-Trump and pro-Clinton bias with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and FBI, according to Judicial Watch Director of Investigations & Research Chris Farrell.

“Well, I think Page has the opportunity to become the anti-Strzok. She’s going to look for an immunity deal, or at least being treated as a cooperating witness. She’s seen from last week what her boyfriend was doing, and she’s probably a pretty sharp attorney. She sees an opportunity or an opening to kind of recast herself, and I think she’s taking advantage of it,” Farrell said Monday on Fox Business Network’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight.”

Page, who engaged in an affair with FBI agent Peter Strzok, testified before congressional committees in a closed-door session for nearly five hours Friday and again Monday in another lengthy closed hearing. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), a member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, told reporters Friday that Page’s “willingness to cooperate today speaks well of her.”

Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) told reporters Monday that he found Page “a very forthcoming witness.”

“She gave us a lot of new information that we didn’t have before. That will lead us to ask for some more people to make some more requests for information we do not yet have,” Ratcliffe noted.

Page and Strzok became the focus of intense backlash after an estimated 50,000 of their text messages, many of them rabidly against Trump, came to light. Strzok, who testified before committee members in closed sessions and in a raucous public hearing last week, was a top FBI counterintelligence official and participated in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into allegations of collusion between aides to President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russian interests.

Strzok was also a key figure in the FBI’s probe into 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server to conduct official business as secretary of state. Mueller removed Strzok from his team after the anti-Trump and pro-Clinton text messages with Page came to his attention.

Although GOP lawmakers praised Page’s cooperation, Strzok earned no such praise.

“[Strzok] was not a credible witness, and I think his explanations didn’t hold water,” Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), a member of both the House Committee on the Judiciary and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said Thursday on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle.” “I think the public got to see the bias.”

Related: More Bad News for Strzok as Ratcliffe Says Lisa Page Is ‘Very Forthcoming’

Farrell told host Lou Dobbs that it wasn’t enough that Page was deposed to appear before lawmakers.

“I want [former President Barack] Obama deposed,” Farrell said, pointing to the “substantial evidence” implicating that the DOJ failed to turn over requested text messages. “There’s an earlier text message from Page where she says, ‘POTUS wants to know everything we’re doing.'”

“How much more evidence do we need? At what point does Mr. Obama come out of hiding and offer his version of the facts? That’s my question,” Farrell added. “All the hysteria over [Russian] hacking was all on Obama’s watch. Where’s the accountability? I want him deposed.”

The post Lisa Page May Seek Immunity, Judicial Watch’s Chris Farrell Says appeared first on LifeZette.

House Speaker Open to Tougher Russia Sanctions Following Helsinki Flap

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 16:42

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Tuesday contradicted President Donald Trump’s contention that it is unclear whether Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election campaign.

Speaking at a purposely called Capitol Hill news conference, Ryan avoided the kind of direct criticism of Trump that some other Republicans have leveled, but he added that he is open to taking further steps to confront Russia.

“They did interfere in our elections,” he said. “It’s really clear. There should be no doubt about that. It’s also clear that it didn’t have a material effect on our elections. As a result of that, we passed tough sanctions. We can hold them accountable.”

Trump has been under fire, from friends and foes alike, since his joint news conference Monday in Finland with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump said both Russia and the United States share blame for deteriorating relations. He said he could not determine the accuracy of the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russian agents hacked the computer system of the Democratic National Committee.

Asked if he agrees with former CIA Director John Brennan’s characterization of Trump’s remarks as “treasonous,” Ryan responded with a simple “I do not.” Ryan said it is “perfectly reasonable” to pursue better relations with Russia.

“But Russia is a menacing government that does not share our values, and I think that should be made very, very clear,” he said.

Ryan said he is happy to consider additional sanctions if they are appropriate. And he said America should support other countries that have faced similar interference by Russia.

“Russia is trying to undermine democracy itself to delegitimize democracy so, for some reason, they can look good by comparison … What we intend to do is to make sure that they don’t get away with it again and also to help our allies,” he said.

Related: The Odd Contradiction Between Trump’s Words and Actions

Ryan reiterated his view that independent counsel Robert Mueller should be allowed to complete his probe into Russian election meddling. But he brushed aide suggestions that it is inappropriate for congressional leaders to seek records from the Department of Justice about the origins of the counterintelligence investigation that preceded Mueller’s appointment.

Ryan said Congress has legitimate oversight responsibilities.

“Unfortunately, I had to get involved,” he said. “It shouldn’t have to take a speaker to get involved in that. But they are now coming into compliance.”

(photo credit, article image: Paul Ryan, CC BY-SA 2.0, by Gage Skidmore)

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Robin Williams’ Dedication to Our Troops Revealed in New Film

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 15:35

Robin Williams earned his first Oscar nomination for the role of Sgt. Adrian Cronauer in 1987’s “Good Morning, Vietnam,” but the late star’s relationship with American troops went much deeper than that.

A new documentary about the life and career of the Hollywood star, titled “Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind,” aired Monday night on HBO.

The film features in-depth interviews with those who knew and loved him, including Billy Crystal; David Letterman; Pam Dawber; his first wife, Valerie Velardi; and his son, Zak Williams, among others. It was made in conjunction with Williams’ estate.

The Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Marina Zenovich told Fox News she was surprised to learn about Williams’ dedication to entertaining the military.

“His manager, David Steinberg, said, ‘You have to talk about him and the USO tours,'” she said. “I didn’t know much about it and I wasn’t that excited, to be honest.”

She continued, “[But] Robin didn’t publicize this stuff. He just did it. And I was so moved. Just so moved by him wanting to go on these tours. How much it meant for him to be there for the troops and how much it meant to the troops. I have the chills just talking about it.”

Williams made six USO tours to Iraq, Afghanistan and 11 other countries. He performed for 90,000 troops by the end of his final tour in 2010.

“It was like he almost had a need to make people laugh and make people happy,” said Zenovich. “So I realized how important [it was] and how much his philanthropic side, whether it was his money or giving up his soul and time, was a big part of who he was. It was one of the things that surprised me. I didn’t know how much he gave of himself. So we definitely wanted to include that in the film.”

And Williams didn’t just travel overseas to entertain. He was also determined to personally meet the soldiers fighting for his country.

“There were these guys behind a fence, across a berm [and] a field, and they waved at him,” recalled USO Vice President of Entertainment Rachel Tischler about the 2007 USO Chairman’s Holiday Tour.

“And he jumped across the berm and went running over to them,” she added. “Obviously, our security team completely freaked out. Again — height of war here. But he didn’t care. He just wanted to go over and shake their hands and thank them. And that is what he was like.”

Zenovich also revealed that for many of the troops away from their families, witnessing the comic legend in action was one of the highlights of their lives. And while it wasn’t Williams’ initial idea to participate in USO tours, he jumped at the chance when first given the opportunity in 2002.

Related: Why Gary Sinise Fights So Tirelessly for Veterans

It’s been said Williams may have been inspired by fellow comedian Bob Hope, who performed nearly all of his 400 radio programs at military bases and embarked on annual tours where he delighted American servicemen with his sidesplitting monologues.

“[Robin] wanted everyone to have an autograph and a picture,” she said. “It was so important for him to show how much he cared. When he was a kid, he played with toy soldiers so he had a real connection with the military … It’s a moving part of the film and really speaks to his great need to put a smile on people’s faces. Especially people who are having a hard time. He was incredibly generous with his time.”

Jim Garamone, a writer for the Pentagon’s internal news service, once described the comedian’s compassion for American troops.

Williams may have been inspired by fellow comedian Bob Hope, who performed nearly all of his 400 radio programs at military bases and embarked on annual tours that delighted servicemen.

“At the end of every performance — be it a combat outpost or a forward operating base — Robin was always the last entertainer to leave,” he previously wrote. “In Iraq, a group of Marines came in from patrol and missed his show. He made it a point to meet with them and give them 20 minutes of fun, even as the chopper’s blades were turning to go to the next show.

“He was not a prima donna. One time a sandstorm grounded the party at an outpost near Baghdad. Robin, along with everyone else, crammed into a small ‘tin can’ to spend the night. The next day his jokes about snoring and gaseous emissions pretty much convulsed everyone.”

Related: Gary Sinise’s Incredible Commitment to Our Troops

But one person who struggled to share Williams with the world was his son Zak, who described that while the star was a doting, hands-on father, his fame and notoriety kept him away from long periods of time.

“The flip side of what I said, and Zak addresses it, was that Robin belonged to the world,” said Zenovich. “As the child of someone like that, it wasn’t easy. In fact, it was hard … You can feel the hurt. Robin tried to be there for his kids, but he also had to be there for the world. And he had a great need to perform and, as Billy Crystal said, get that little extra hug you can only get from strangers. He had a need for that.”

And it was the world that ached when Williams took his life in 2014 at age 63. While he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, it wouldn’t be until after his death that it was revealed he was battling Lewy body dementia during his final days. His friends and co-stars initially suspected something was wrong.

“People noticed something was off,” said Zenovich. “He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, he was seeing doctors, he was on medication. And I think a lot of time with these diseases, you go on medication and they have side effects. He’s dealing with that and going to therapy.”

She added, “But when he died, they discovered in the autopsy that he had … Lewy body dementia. It was covering his brain. His whole brain had it. I don’t think anyone understood the depth of what he was going through until it was too late … His brain was misfiring … which is really sad.”

The documentary stresses it was his passion for making audiences smile that fueled his creativity and talent throughout his life.

“Someone once asked me if I thought he was ever happy,” explained Zenovich. “Of course he was happy at moments of his life, like the birth of his children, getting married [and things] related to the family. But I think he was at his happiest when he was on stage. It’s like he was born to be on stage. He had this God-given gift that he had to channel and give to the world … He was everyone’s comedian.”

This Fox News piece is used by permission.

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1,000 Families in Chicago Could Soon Get $500 a Month, No Questions Asked

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 14:44

Chicago may soon become the largest municipality in the U.S. to test a universal basic income program.

Chicago alderman Ameya Pawar recently proposed legislation that would provide 1,000 families with a $500 monthly stipend — no questions asked. The bill already has the backing of the majority of city lawmakers, and Pawar hopes to soon work with Mayor Rahm Emanuel to implement the pilot program, The Intercept reported.

Nearly 70 percent of Americans don’t have $1,000 in the bank for an emergency,” Pawar told the outlet. “UBI could be an incredible benefit for people who are working and are having a tough time making ends meet or putting food on the table at the end of the month.”

Pawar campaigned to earn a slot on the ballot for Illinois governor, but withdrew his name from contention after being outspent by his opponents, the outlet reported.

In addition to the $500, the bill would adjust the Earned Income Tax Credit program to allow the families to put their tax credit toward their monthly mortgage payment, according to the outlet.

Pawar cited automation, with companies such as Amazon, Tesla and other car manufacturers’ investing in the technology as having the potential to disrupt millions of jobs, which in turn would lead to more political destabilization, according to the outlet.

Chicago wouldn’t be the only city testing the waters to give residents free money.

Stockton, California, has also proposed a universal basic income program, with the backing of wealthy Silicon Valley moguls, that will pay 100 residents $500 a month without any conditions. The program’s purpose is to eventually ensure that no one in Stockton, with a population of 300,000, lives in poverty.

The Stockton program will launch in 2019 and last 18 months before officials decide whether to roll out the program citywide.

The program, which allows the 100 lucky residents to use the money for anything they want, will launch in 2019 and last 18 months before officials decide whether to roll out the program citywide.

Alaska has issued every resident of the state a check since 1976 as part of the Alaska Permanent Fund, which is tied to oil revenue and varies on amount, but last year it equaled $1,100, according to The Intercept.

Countries overseas have also utilized some sort of cash transfer system, with Finland recently putting an end to a program that gave 2,000 unemployed working-age people 560 Euros per month.

Tech titans have chimed in their support for a universal basic income, with Tesla founder Elon Musk tweeting last month it “will be necessary over time if AI takes over most human jobs.”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said during a Harvard commencement speech last year that “we should explore ideas like universal basic income to make sure that everyone has a cushion to try new ideas.”

Business magnate Richard Branson has also called for universal basic income.

A 2017 Pew Research Center study found that 60 percent of Americans favor the government’s providing a “guaranteed income that would allow them to meet their basic needs,” as workers with a high school diploma were the most likely to support a universal basic income at 65 percent, and workers with a four-year college education or more at 52 percent.

This Fox News piece is used by permission.

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Seth Meyers, Stooping Low, Goes After Trump with Fat Jokes

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 14:32

Leftist Hollywood predictably lost its collective mind over President Donald Trump’s Monday press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki — and the late-night hosts quickly followed suit.

One of the more extreme critics among the so-called comedian bunch was Seth Meyers.

Meyers gave a “closer look” to Trump and Putin’s joint press conference, in which the president seemed to defend Russia and its president against claims of meddling in the United States presidential election in 2016.

The comedian called Trump’s conduct “one of the most surreal performances by a president in modern American history.” If that weren’t enough of an extreme statement, Meyers continued attacking the president’s relationship with Putin.

“It’s only a matter of weeks before he ‘Single White Females’ Putin,” Meyers said.

“Single White Female” is a 1992 thriller about a woman who grows dangerously obsessed with her roommate — and essentially tries to “become” her and take over her life.

Going after Trump for the Putin press conference was not enough, as he also attacked the president for a recent video that showed him walking with Queen Elizabeth II. The video shows Trump taking baby steps and waiting for the 92-year-old queen to catch up to him, but leftists like Meyers saw something else.

“The queen just disappeared behind Trump,” said Meyers. “It’s like a royal eclipse. The only thing missing was Trump staring directly at it.”

Meyers added, straining for laughs, “He’s so wide, he completely covered a monarch!”

If Seth Meyers really wants to jump into political commentary, maybe he should try harder than dishing out some lame fat jokes and references to flicks from the 1990s.

PopZette editor Zachary Leeman can be reached at zachary.leeman@lifezette.com. Follow him on Twitter.

The post Seth Meyers, Stooping Low, Goes After Trump with Fat Jokes appeared first on LifeZette.

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