Matt Vespa - Why A Comment About Brownies Led To Police Showing Up At This School
Posted: 6/30/2016 12:40:00 PM EST

You’ve got to be kidding me? I mean, you literally have got to be kidding me with this story coming out of Collingswood, New Jersey. It appears that on June 19, an end-of-the-year school party turned into a social justice nightmare when one student, a third grader, at the William P. Tatem Elementary School made a comment about the brownies being served. Another student thought it was racist, the police were called, and the whole situation devolved into a ludicrous affair (via Philadelphia Inquirer):

The police officer spoke to the student, who is 9, said the boy's mother, Stacy dos Santos, and local authorities.

Dos Santos said that the school overreacted and that her son made a comment about snacks, not skin color.

"He said they were talking about brownies. . . . Who exactly did he offend?" dos Santos said.

The boy's father was contacted by Collingswood police later in the day. Police said the incident had been referred to the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency. The student stayed home for his last day of third grade.

Dos Santos said that her son was "traumatized," and that she hopes to send him to a different Collingswood public school in the fall.

[…]

"I'm not comfortable with the administration [at Tatem]. I don't trust them and neither does my child," she said. "He was intimidated, obviously. There was a police officer with a gun in the holster talking to my son, saying, 'Tell me what you said.' He didn't have anybody on his side."

The incident, which has sparked outrage among some parents, was one of several in the last month when Collingswood police have been called to look into school incidents that parents think hardly merit criminal investigation.

Superintendent Scott Oswald estimated that on some occasions over the last month, officers may have been called to as many as five incidents per day in the district of 1,875 students.

This has created concern among parents in the 14,000-resident borough, who have phoned their elected officials, met with Mayor James Maley, blasted social-media message boards, and even launched a petition calling on the Camden County Prosecutor's Office to "stop mandated criminal investigation of elementary school students."

The increased police involvement follows a May 25 meeting among the Collingswood Police Department, school officials, and representatives from the Camden County Prosecutor's Office, where school officials and police both said they were told to report to police any incidents that could be considered criminal, including what Police Chief Kevin Carey called anything "as minor as a simple name-calling incident that the school would typically handle internally."

This wasn’t threatening texts or social media posts alluding to a school shooting or bombing. No one died. No one was going to get killed. No one was harmed until the police arrived to investigate who said something about the brownies. It doesn’t get more absurd than this, cops responding to 911 calls to schools because some 9-year-old said something about a baked good. Let’s calm down folks. There’s no need to deploy SWAT teams over a matter that could’ve easily been handled by the school. It’s crazy that this even was passed onto the state’s child protective services arm.

Who knew brownies could cause so much havoc.

Christine Rousselle - The Most Awkward Handshake Of All Time
Posted: 6/30/2016 12:00:00 PM EST

On Wednesday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, and President Barack Obama blessed the world with what is quite possibly the most awkward handshake of all time.

And here it is in full, video, glory:

Ooof.

People were pretty quick to make jokes about this incredibly awkward yet hilarious moment:

There's a reason why handshakes generally only involve two people.

Katie Pavlich - Loretta Lynch Just Met With Bill Clinton and Wants You To Believe They Simply Discussed Grandchildren
Posted: 6/30/2016 11:40:00 AM EST

Two weeks ago and just hours after officially endorsing Hillary Clinton's run for the White House, President Obama met with Attorney General Loretta Lynch in the Oval Office. It was closed to the press

Earlier this week in Phoenix and just hours before the final Benghazi Select Committee report was released, former President Bill Clinton attended a private meeting with Lynch at the airport. The FBI, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Justice Department, is currently conducting a criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton for using a private email server to share classified information during her time at the State Department. The Clinton Foundation is also under FBI criminal investigation for alleged public corruption. From ABC15:

Amid an ongoing investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of email and hours before the public release of the Benghazi report, US Attorney General Loretta Lynch met privately with former President Bill Clinton.

The private meeting took place on the west side of Sky Harbor International Airport on board a parked private plane.

Former President Clinton was visiting the Phoenix area and arrived to Sky Harbor Monday evening to depart.

They want us to believe they talked about....grandchildren. Just like they want us to believe Hillary didn't want you to see her "personal" emails about yoga, which is why she deleted 30,000 of them. 

Lynch said the private meeting on the tarmac did not involve these topics.

"Our conversation was a great deal about grandchildren, it was primarily social about our travels and he mentioned golf he played in Phoenix," said Lynch Tuesday afternoon while speaking at the Phoenix Police Department.

Democrats, who have been defending Clinton for years about her server, are irritated about Bill Clinton's decision to meet with Lynch in the middle of a criminal investigation. From POLITICO

Democrats made clear that while the meeting was likely as innocent as Lynch described, it did not give the Justice Department the appearance of independence.

“I do agree with you that it doesn’t send the right signal,” Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) said Thursday in response to a question about the meeting from CNN “New Day” host Alisyn Camerota. “She has generally shown excellent judgment and strong leadership of the department, and I’m convinced that she’s an independent attorney general. But I do think that this meeting sends the wrong signal and I don’t think it sends the right signal. I think she should have steered clear, even of a brief, casual social meeting with the former president.”

Lynch, of course, will ultimately make the decision as to whether Clinton will be prosecuted should the FBI issue an indictment surrounding her use of a private email server to store and transfer top secret, classified information. She'll also make the final decision as to whether public corruption charges against the Clinton Foundation, if recommended by the FBI, should be pursued and prosecuted. 

 

Christine Rousselle - Mike Lee Unloads on Trump
Posted: 6/30/2016 11:15:00 AM EST

Utah Sen. Mike Lee (R) refused to support presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump in an interview with NewsMaxTV, and then went on an uncharacteristically intense rant about how he cannot in good conscience support Trump. Lee cited Trump's unpopularity in Utah as well as Trump's past accusation of Ted Cruz's father of conspiring to assassinate JFK as reasons why he cannot support the candidate at this time.

“Hey look, Steve, I get it. You want me to endorse Trump. We can get into that if you want. We can get into the fact that he accused my best friend’s father of conspiring to kill JFK. We can go through the fact that he’s made statements that some have identified correctly as religiously intolerant. We can get into the fact that he’s wildly unpopular in my state, in part because my state consists of people who are members of a religious minority church. A people who were ordered exterminated by the governor of Missouri in 1838. And, statements like that make them nervous."

Given that Sen. Lee isn't generally known for this sort of speaking style (after all, the man literally serves Jell-O in his office each week), this rather passionate outburst came as quite a shock to some.

Justin Holcomb  - Trump Beats Hillary by 4 Points in This Latest Poll, Majority Say Muslims Should be Banned in Another
Posted: 6/30/2016 11:00:00 AM EST

In a wild week of polling showing Donald Trump in a deficit of as much as 12 points, he now leads his Democratic counter-part by four points, 43 to 39 in a new Rasmussen poll.  

One key note from the poll shows that Trump now earns 75 percent support from Republicans and picks up 14 percent of the Democratic vote. Seventy-six percent of Democrats like Clinton, along with 10 percent of GOP voters. 

Eighty-nine percent of voters who Strongly Approve of the job Obama is doing choose Clinton. Trump has 86 percent support among those who Strongly Disapprove of the president’s job performance.

Meanwhile, in a Fox News poll that was released on Wednesday, 53 percent of Americans support a temporary ban on Muslims entering the U.S. and only 40 percent think such an action would make the country safer. 

Guy Benson - It's Working: Blue Cross/Blue Shield Reports Heavy Obamacare Losses Across the Country
Posted: 6/30/2016 10:35:00 AM EST

Last week, we analyzed the major news that Blue Cross/Blue Shield (BCBS), a health insurance titan, is withdrawing from Minnesota's individual market due to Obamacare-caused financial losses. We wondered if this move might be a sign of things to come, as we saw with United Health's tiered departure from most Obamacare exchanges. Via the ever-watchful John Sexton, it's beginning to look like BCBS will face powerful market incentives to sever ties with Obamacare, particularly if their 2017 steep rate hike increase requests are rebuffed by government regulators. Investors Business Daily reports:

Across the country Blue Cross affiliates are losing staggering amounts of money thanks to the law, and are putting in for premium hikes that would have been unimaginable before ObamaCare. For example, Health Care Services Corp. -- which owns Blue Cross affiliates in Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas -- lost $1.5 billion on its ObamaCare-compliant plans last year. As a result, it's requesting a nearly 60% rate hike in Texas, and almost 50% in Oklahoma. HCSC pulled out of the New Mexico exchange last year after the state turned down its 50%-plus rate increase. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee, meanwhile, lost about $300 million in ObamaCare's first two years and is likely to lose another $100 million this year. It wants a 62% increase in premiums, on top of the 36% it got last year. Highmark Group, which owns Blue Cross affiliates in Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia, lost $266 million in just the first nine months of 2015. Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina lost $280 million on ObamaCare in 2015. Earlier this year, CEO Brad Wilson talked about possibly pulling out of ObamaCare, saying that "we can't offer something for sale in this marketplace that we know every time it's purchased we're losing money." Arizona'S Blue Cross wants a 65% rate hike after reporting $185 million in losses in ObamaCare's first two years. In Alabama, Blue Cross figures it lost $135 million last year, and $64 million in Nebraska.

Blue Cross produced a landmark study demonstrating that new enrollees through Obamacare's exchanges cost 22 percent more to cover than consumers in the employer-based market.  Why?  The new marketplaces' risk pool demographics have been older and sicker than projected.  Not enough young and healthy Americans -- whose premiums were supposed to subsidize others' care -- have purchased coverage through the program, largely because they cannot afford the "Affordable" Care Act's monthly rates and high out-of-pocket costs.  And when lopsided risk pools fuel deep losses, insurers are faced with three choices: (1) Absorb the losses, which would be unsustainable and fiscally irresponsible, (2) raise rates significantly (as many are attempting), which will only drive away more younger and healthier consumers, or (3) flee the marketplaces, leaving Obamacare "beneficiaries" with even fewer options for coverage and care.  The market's "stabilization" process isn't going very well, which helps account for why the failing law remains unpopular with the American people.  Republicans unveiled a detailed alternative to Obamacare last week, an important and positive step.  In case you missed it, here's a discussion about it, featuring Speaker Paul Ryan and several relevant committee chairmen:

Philip Klein notes that despite all the talk about this long-awaited "unified" plan, dissension in the ranks remains, with potential policy battles ahead.  Finalized premium increases for next year will be announced to customers just days before the November election.  Hillary Clinton first proposed the framework for Obamacare, including its widely-detested individual mandate tax.  She says the law is working.

Cortney O'Brien - Active Shooter Alert at Andrews Air Force Base Was a False Alarm
Posted: 6/30/2016 9:43:00 AM EST

Update: The active shooter alert was a false alarm. The "All Clear" has been given at Joint Base Andrews.

Original Post

Andrews Air Force Base, located in Prince George's County, Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C., is on lockdown at the moment after reports of an active shooter. The incident occurred at the Malcolm Grow Medical Facility. A lockdown was enforced just after 9 a.m.

President Obama just landed at Andrews Wednesday night on his return trip from Canada.

The Defense Department is currently investigating the situation. 

A training exercise had been planned for 9 a.m. on Thursday, but Fox News reports it never took place.

This post will be updated with additional information.

Megan Maxey - The Importance of Honor, Accountability: Lessons from a Former Vietnam POW
Posted: 6/30/2016 9:30:00 AM EST

Lee Ellis has a message to give the public: Honor and accountability are absolute necessities for any successful leader.

Lee Ellis is a former Vietnam POW, an award winning author and leadership consultant. Ellis has been awarded two Silver Stars, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star with Valor device, the Purple Heart and the POW Medal for his service in the United States Air Force.

In his new book "Engage with Honor: Building a Culture of Courageous Accountability," that releases this September, Ellis outlines his secrets to leadership success. 

“This book addresses specific problems. One: The issue of honor and the issues of dishonor in today’s [society] ...Two: The lack of accountability ... When leaders do a bad job with their own accountability their people lack in accountability," said Ellis.

Throughout the book, Ellis refers back to his experiences in the different camps overseas. Using different examples of leaders he worked with in the military and the pressures of retaining honor while in vulnerable situations.

“[Using POW examples] makes the point in a different way that can apply to today’s workplace," said Ellis.

Ellis found that people enjoyed reading his experience as a POW leading into the lesson and then learning how it applies to their situations.

The book offers many models and step-by-step directions to improving leadership skills - like the importance of the 'three C's': Character, Courage and Commitment.

“The ‘three C’s’ are so important and they go together. Especially character and courage. In the POW camps I saw a person whose character faltered and led to them to making judgments based on self-preservation at the expense of their teammates," said Ellis.

The 'three C's' are just one of the models Ellis provides in his book. He goes into detail on clarity and culture making an impact in the workplace.

"Being a leader, a student of leadership, a trainer, coach and consultant, I know it all starts with clarity," said Ellis. He went on to explain how "culture will keep you in line" and it goes hand-in-hand with clarity.

Ellis not only provides extensive insight on how to be an effective leader, he also warns what hinders leaders' success.

“Character alone is not enough [to be a successful leader.] Everyone will say they have good character. But aspirations without courage won’t be effective. Courage is what pushes us past our fears," said Ellis.

Fear is only one deterrant of success. Another important factor is putting too much focus in results as opposed to relationships.

“A results focused leader needs to also focus on relationships. If employees don’t feel connected or important then they become unmotivated ... Employee engagement is the secret to success," said Ellis.

The nine chapters of "Engage with Honor" offer clear steps toward success using different examples, models and lessons. 

Ellis’ lessons are directed at the leaders of the millennial generation. This book will help move millennials into leadership positions.

“Millennials were raised in a different, very flat environment and need to know the elevated responsibilities of a leader," said Ellis, "There is a discussion that needs to be had between the older generation and the younger generation and this book offers an opportunity for that."

To learn more about Lee Ellis, "Engage with Honor' or any of his past works visit his website.

Justin Holcomb  - Boris Johnson Will Not Be Prime Minister
Posted: 6/30/2016 8:30:00 AM EST

Boris Johnson has announced he will not be running in the Conservative Party leadership contest for Prime Minister of Great Britain, a surprising move as many thought he would be the guaranteed victor.  

The news comes after Justice Secretary and fellow Brexit campaigner Michael Gove's surprise announcement on Thursday morning that he would run for leader.

"While Johnson is seen by many as the favorite (candidate for prime minister), he has his detractors," said NPR's Lauren Frayer. "An angry crowd booed him Friday morning as he left his north London home."

Katie Pavlich - Where Was President Obama The Night of Benghazi? We Still Don't Know
Posted: 6/30/2016 8:15:00 AM EST

After years of investigation, combing through tens-of-thousands of documents and conducting interviews with 75 witnesses and knowledgeable individuals, members of the Benghazi Select Committee officially released their final report on the September 11, 2012 attack this week. There's still one major question that is left unanswered: Where was President Obama during the attack?

"I don't know where he was," Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy said during an interview on America's Newsroom Wednesday.

There is nothing in the lengthy report detailing Obama's whereabouts despite the Committee sending the President a list of questions about his role that night. According to reporting from Fox News Chief Intelligence Correspondent, Obama's attorneys have advised him not to answer any questions regarding his whereabouts during the attack. 

As a reminder, three years ago the White House classified Obama's location and what he did that night as a "largely irrelevant" details. 

During the May 2, 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden's complex the White House booked a photographer so we would know exactly where President Obama was. 

Will we ever know where President Obama was the night of the Benghazi terror attacks, which left four Americans dead? I suppose time will tell.

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