Leah Barkoukis - Friday Fun: Farmer Sprays Manure at Hollywood Star for Fracking Protest on His Land
Posted: 4/29/2016 8:00:00 AM EST

This video is almost certain to start your day off right. One U.K. farmer got so mad at Oscar winning actress Emma Thompson and her sister for breaking a court injunction protecting a fracking site on his land that he sprayed raw manure at them.

The stars were filming a Great British Bake Off parody for Greenpeace when the owner of the field they trespassed on drove his muck spreader in circles around the demonstrators. 

A group of protesters were hit by the manure but the actresses remained dry in their tent, complete with Bake Off-inspired bunting.

Police were also called and also spoke to the actresses, who climbed over a gate and set up camp on land earmarked for gas exploration in Fylde, Lancashire.

Emma and Sophie, who won Celebrity Masterchef, filmed a pastiche episode of the Great British Bake Off called Frack Free Bake Off to voice their opposition to the fracking plans.

But this afternoon the landowner, who leases the contested patch of land to fracking company Cuadrilla, drove his muck spreader in circles around the demonstrating group.

After a couple of circles around the group, who were shouting for him to stop it, the farmer drove off. 

Protesters are banned from the site, near Preston, after company Cuadrilla applied for an injunction in 2014.

It is not clear if the fracking company will now take civil action - but it appears unlikely.

It’s too bad he wasn’t able to get close enough but it was a valiant effort nonetheless.

Leah Barkoukis - In Dramatic Reversal, Army Retains Green Beret Who Roughed Up Child Rapist in Afghanistan
Posted: 4/29/2016 7:30:00 AM EST

The Army on Thursday announced its decision to retain Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland, who was ordered discharged last year after he roughed up a local Afghan police commander for repeatedly raping a little boy and then beating his mother.

Outrage against the Army’s actions rightfully ensued after the incident, since the Green Beret had served honorably for more than 11 years and most would argue that taking a stand against a child rapist was the right thing to do, morally speaking.

But, his actions came at a time when U.S. soldiers were being told to ignore rampant sexual abuse of young children by our Afghan allies because “it’s their culture.”

Now, however, the Army has issued a stunning reversal.

Fox News has the details:

Sgt 1st Class Charles Martland, confirmed the Army's decision to retain him when reached by Fox News, who has been covering the story in depth for the past eight months and first broke the story of the Army's decision in August to kick out Martland over the incident, which occurred in northern Afghanistan in 2011.  […]

As first reported by Fox News, while deployed to Kunduz Province, Afghanistan, Martland and his team leader confronted a local police commander in 2011 accused of raping an Afghan boy and beating his mother. When the man laughed off the incident, they shoved him to the ground.

Martland and his team leader were later removed from the base, and eventually sent home from Afghanistan. The U.S. Army has not confirmed the specifics of Martland's separation from service citing privacy reasons, but a “memorandum of reprimand” from October 2011 obtained by Fox News makes clear that Martland was criticized by the brass for his intervention after the alleged rape. Asked for comment inSeptember 2015, an Army spokesman reiterated, "the U.S. Army is unable to confirm the specifics of his separation due to the Privacy Act." 

An Army spokesman said Thursday that Martland's status has been changed, allowing him to stay in the Army in a statement to Fox News. 

"I am real thankful for being able to continue to serve," Martland told Fox News. "I appreciate everything Congressman Duncan Hunter and his Chief of Staff, Joe Kasper did for me."

Hunter was very outspoken in support of Martland, writing a letter to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter defending the Green Beret and even introducing legislation that would empower U.S. troops to block sexual abuse on foreign soil.

"The Army did the right thing and we won--the American people, won," Hunter told Fox News. "Martland is who we want out there."

Leah Barkoukis - Poll: Nearly a Quarter of Voters Wouldn’t Participate in a Trump-Clinton Matchup
Posted: 4/29/2016 7:15:00 AM EST

Nearly a quarter of voters say they either wouldn’t vote at all or would cast their ballot for a third party candidate if the general election comes down to Trump v. Clinton, according to new Rasmussen Reports national survey.

But 16% say they would vote for some other candidate if the presidential election comes down to those two, while six percent (6%) would stay home. Only two percent (2%) are undecided given those options. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Still, the picture appears to be improving for both candidates. In early March, 49% of voters told us they would definitely vote against Trump if he is the presidential nominee of the Republican Party, but nearly as many (42%) said they would definitely vote against Clinton if she is the Democratic Party’s nominee.

Trump is more toxic within his own party than Clinton is in hers. If Trump is the Republican nominee, 16% of GOP voters say they would choose a third-party candidate, while five percent (5%) would stay home. Sixty-six percent (66%) would vote for Trump, but 10% would vote for Clinton instead.

If Clinton is the Democratic nominee, 11% of Democrats would vote third-party, while three percent (3%) would stay home. Seventy-five percent (75%) would support the nominee, but 11% say they would vote for Trump.

The poll also found Trump and Clinton tied at 38 percent among likely voters.

Matt Vespa - BREXIT: Brits Wanting To Leave the EU Spikes After Obama Tried To Convince Them To Stay In It
Posted: 4/28/2016 8:15:00 PM EST

On June 23, British citizens will vote whether they will remain or exit the European Union. It’s a delicate issue that has reaped political havoc with Britain’s Conservative Party. It was partially responsible for the defeat of John Major’s government prior to Labour’s 1997 landslide that ushered in Tony Blair into 10 Downing Street. Fears of European instability are being debated ahead of the scheduled vote. In February, it was made known that President Obama would try and lobby the United Kingdom to remain in the EU. He also penned an op-ed in The Telegraph, stating that it’s in the UK’s best interest to remain in the EU on April 23.

Via CNN:

"Let me be clear, ultimately this is something that the British voters have to decide for themselves," Obama said at a news conference alongside David Cameron, delivering a boost to the British Prime Minister's bid to safeguard U.K. membership in the EU.

"But as part of our special relationship, part of being friends, is to be honest and to let you know what I think," Obama said.

"Speaking honestly, the outcome of that decision is a matter of deep interest to the United States because it affects our prospects as well," Obama said, and also hinted that the U.K. would be a less valuable ally to Washington if it left the bloc.

"The United Kingdom is at its best when it is helping to lead a strong Europe. It leverages UK power to be part of the European Union," Obama said.

Yet, after all of this shoring up of support with Prime Minister David Cameron, who wants to remain in the EU, support for leaving the EU has spiked (via Reuters):

Opponents of Britain's European Union membership have edged into the lead over the past two weeks, according to a YouGov poll which indicated President Barack Obama's intervention failed to swing support behind "In" vote in a June 23 referendum.

The online survey for The Times taken on April 25-26 showed support for the Out campaign had risen 3 percentage points to 42 percent since a similar survey on April 12-14, while support for the "In" campaign had risen 1 percentage point to 41 percent.

President Barack Obama on Friday warned Britain would be "in the back of the queue" for a trade deal with the United States if it dropped out of the EU, an unusually strong intervention into British politics that "In" campaigners welcomed.

"Some have portrayed Obama's intervention as backfiring - I wouldn't go that far but this poll does suggest that Obama hasn't given the remain team a boost at all," Anthony Wells, director of political research at YouGov, said by telephone.

"It hasn't been a game changer, it hasn't shifted opinion - it hasn't really made much difference at all," said Wells. "We have had a neck and neck for months now and nothing seems to be moving that."

Now, this certainly could be because this issue is a highly polarizing one. On the other hand, this is also part of an ongoing record showing that President Obama really has zero charm when it comes to his speeches. As George Will noted in 2011, giving a speech is his default position, and that he has immense faith in the power of his persuasion. Yet, the more Obama talks about the Affordable Care Act, the more unpopular it becomes. At the time, the president campaigned for Martha Coakley, which only ended with Republican Scott Brown winning the late Ted Kennedy’s Massachusetts Senate seat. He campaigned with then-NJ Gov. Jon Corzine, which ended with Republican Chris Christie winning the governorship. He went to campaign against Bob McDonnell in Virginia’s gubernatorial race, which he won. After 2008, Obama’s speeches depreciated faster than luxury cars leaving the parking lot. What makes him think that it could work across the pond? Obviously, it didn’t.

Christine Rousselle - America Now Has a "National Mammal"
Posted: 4/28/2016 6:30:00 PM EST

The United States of America will soon have a new national symbol: the bison.

A bill adopting the bison as the "national mammal" of the United States passed the House of Representatives earlier this week, and is expected to be passed by the Senate as well. The bison would join the bald eagle as America's national animals.

An earlier version of the bill had been unanimously approved by the Senate, but this version was slightly tweaked and thus must be re-approved. The bill was sponsored by a bipartisan group of congressmen.

The National Bison Legacy Act, which must get Senate approval before heading to the President's desk for his signature, aims to honor the historical and contemporary significance of the majestic animal.

"No other indigenous species tells America's story better than this noble creature," Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-Missouri, said in a statement.

Clay and several other members of the House and the Senate across both parties wrote and co-sponsored the bill.

"The American bison is an enduring symbol of strength, native American culture and the boundless Western wildness," Clay said.

"It is an integral part of the still largely untold story of Native Americans and their historic contributions to our national identity."

Solid move. Bison are pretty great. Here's an adorable picture of a newborn:

Matt Vespa - Fight Club: Cruz Supporter Tears Into Pro-Trump Commentator, ‘Do You Have Any Integrity At All?’
Posted: 4/28/2016 5:56:00 PM EST

Well, this was bound to happen between the Cruz and Trump camps. One side accusing the other of engaging in dirty tricks to win delegates, while the other prides itself in being a campaign that’s representative of the voter’s choice. That tension spilled over Thursday afternoon when radio host Steve Deace, a Cruz supporter, got into a spat with CNN’s Kayleigh McEnany over the Texas senator’s running the table on Trump in the state conventions and caucus held in Colorado and Wyoming.

McEnany equated Cruz’s campaign maneuvers in those states, specifically Colorado, as something akin to what establishment politicians does to “put their own personal aspirations first.”

Deace wasn’t having any of it. “Seriously, do you have any integrity at all?” he asked. CNN’s Brooke Baldwin chimed in to remind Deace to keep it professional.

“I am keeping it professional, responded Deace. “She’s the one that’s lying.

65,000 people voted in Colorado at this thing called a caucus, called an election. There has been no voter-less elections. Every delegate has been elected, including the delegates unbound Donald Trump got in Pennsylvania the other night. This is the biggest lie and the biggest scam from a guy that’s lied repeatedly throughout this entire campaign–whose campaign is built on a lie.”

Ouch.

Christine Rousselle - Another Hate Crime Hoax On Campus
Posted: 4/28/2016 5:15:00 PM EST

In mid-April, Salisbury University students reported finding a picture of a noose drawn on a whiteboard along with the hashtag "whitepower" and a racial slur. Emails sent out by the university's president pledged to find out who was behind the "act of intolerance."

Stop me if you've heard this one before: it turns out the whole thing was a hoax, and the students who drew the offensive drawing were black. No charges are expected to be filed, but the students (who are not being named) may face penalties at the university.

The university confirmed Tuesday, April 26, the students involved in the incident were black, spokesman Richard Culver wrote in an email. The university would not provide names of the students, citing the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

This information was first reported in the university's student newspaper, The Flyer.

Since the incident, Salisbury University Police Department has completed its investigation, Culver said. In consultation with the Wicomico County State’s Attorney’s Office, the department has decided to not file criminal charges at this time.

The investigation is being turned over to the university and will be reviewed for any possible university policy violations, Culver said. If charged, those students who were involved could face disciplinary action.

First things first: let's all be glad that there are no racists writing graffiti on whiteboards at Salisbury University's library. This should be celebrated. Secondly, why on earth would someone fake a hate crime and expect to get away with it? College administrators aren't stupid, and one would think they'd dedicate considerable effort to catch the perpetrator of an act that would bring a substantial amount of bad PR to the school. Staging fake hate crimes doesn't make anyone sympathetic to a cause, and instead it just creates more friction. (Although it's probably a positive if hate crimes are so rare on campus that they have to be invented.)

Like I said in my post about another hate crime hoax, incidents like these make it harder for actual victims to be believed--and that's terrible. Nothing positive comes out of faking a crime.

Justin Holcomb  - Trump Mocks Obama's Plan to Heighten Wall Around the White House
Posted: 4/28/2016 4:15:00 PM EST

The U.S. Secret Service is planning to heighten the fence surrounding the White House after numerous attempts by fence jumpers to breach the property.  Republican frontrunner Donald Trump reminded Obama that building walls helps keep people who do not belong out.

“President Obama understands that you build strong, tall, beautiful walls to keep people out who don't belong,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “People who get permission can enter the White House LEGALLY!”

The U.S. Secret Service plans to raise the height of the White House security fence by 5 feet and add a new concrete foundation.  

“The current fence simply is not adequate for a modern era. We’ve said that before. It is becoming more and more acutely clear that that is in fact the case,” Secret Service official Tom Dougherty said in the briefing to federal officials.

The agency, along with the National Park Service, said it intends to begin building a “taller, stronger” fence in the coming year.

Christine Rousselle - Look How Ted Cruz Signed This Copy of The Communist Manifesto
Posted: 4/28/2016 4:15:00 PM EST

At a campaign stop, someone asked Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) to sign a copy of the Communist Manifesto. Cruz obliged--with a bit of a twist.

"Millions have suffered because of this."

Well, he's not wrong.

This is actually a pretty clever retort to a person who was trying to pull a fast one on the candidate--and it's always a good idea to give a misguided young person a history lesson.

Guy Benson - Establishment: Team Trump's Strange New Respect for Boehner, McConnell
Posted: 4/28/2016 3:40:00 PM EST

Over the last 24 hours, Donald Trump and his allies have giddily quoted and cheered on two unlikely figures: Former House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Trump cited McConnell on the stump, attacking Cruz for antagonizing many of his colleagues in the US Senate. And Trumpworld is reveling in on-the-record comments from Boehner, who called Cruz "Lucifer in the flesh," and a "miserable" SOB. The Trump train is ostensibly fueled by anger at Washington's various betrayals, and a rigged system that benefits insiders and elites at the expense of average Americans. But the billionaire's bandwagon is more than happy to embrace card-carrying, central-casting members of The Establishment, so long as they're saying or doing things that are deemed helpful to the 'Trumpstablishment.' Trump supporters angrily rail against Beltway fat cats who "go along to get along" in political fights, then prance from one lavish cocktail party to the next, toasting their own superiority. Then they'll turn around and applaud bona fide establishment fixtures -- from Rudy Giuliani, to New Gingrich, to Boehner and McConnell -- while applying that now-meaningless term to conservatives who oppose Trump on policy and ideological grounds. Suddenly "go along to get along" is a necessary and laudable dealmaking virtue, and policy arguments are for uppity, weak-kneed nerds. Perhaps nothing better encapsulates the anti-intellectual, emotive phenomenon at play than this exchange between Rush Limbaugh and a caller on yesterday's show.  Take it away, Sean in Philly:


Here's a seemingly bright and relatively articulate guy who's listened to Limbaugh since the very beginning breezily explaining that supporting Trump "isn't about conservatism...I know he's not a conservative." Trump is so appealing, he says, because he'll "fight dirty" against the Democrats, unlike the emasculated losers who've populated the GOP for years. As an example of that problem, the caller cites the Obamacare repeal fight:

"We have a landslide victory. We give [Republicans] the House. Do they repeal Obamacare? No! They do nothing. They say, 'well, we can't do anything because we don't have the Senate.' Okay, we give you the Senate. What do you do? 'Oh, we're not going to do anything because we're going to take our only weapon off the table before, you know, we do battle with these people.' We're sick and tired of fighting with people who won't fight."

First of all, if you agree with every word of this indictment, you should be very upset with...John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, freshly-minted allies in the fight to crush Cruz, who gave both men headaches over political tactics. Secondly, despite Sean's palpable frustration, his version of events (shared by many right-leaning voters) is just flat-out false. House Republicans have voted to repeal Obamacare in its entirety and on a piecemeal basis literally dozens of times. They've been mocked for it by the Left, who never point out that some of those votes succeeded and were signed into law. And after Republicans captured in the Senate, what happened? McConnell and company didn't take their "only weapon" off the table. They used it. They employed a process called 'reconciliation' to force through an Obamacare repeal vote that was not subject to a Democratic filibuster, using the very same tactic Harry Reid used to pass the law in order to get a repeal bill onto the president's desk. And then what? Obama vetoed it, and neither House had a two-thirds majority to override the veto. That is how the system works under the constitution, a document that conservatives claim to revere. Republicans did literally everything within their power to eradicate this unpopular, failing law -- including a very controversial government shutdown in 2013. That strategy, which ultimately failed, was spearheaded by Ted Cruz, who Sean from Philly goes on to criticize for, uh, not fighting. This represents near-total detachment from reality, yet he and many others vigorously believe all of it.

Is the GOP partially at fault for this? Yes, they've made promises that couldn't be kept and made it seem like winning midterm elections would be sufficient to stop the Obama agenda in its tracks (partially true) and reverse much of it (much less true). Nevertheless, the notion that Republican majorities have "done nothing" or "surrendered" in every fight is simply not the case.  The kicker?  In addition to conceding that Trump isn't a conservative, Limbaugh's caller admits that he "disagrees with probably 80 percent of what he believes." Yet he's given his vote to Trump because at least he the billionaire will engage in hard-nosed political fisticuffs -- even if he's fighting on the wrong side in four out of every five battles.  There is no reasoning with this mentality, which prizes belligerence and emotional score-settling over all else.  We're told that rejecting this petulant, sophomoric justification both on principle, and with an eye toward the fall, is an "establishment" ploy.  We're living through the official demise of that term.  In fact, since everyone's just tossing it about based on fleeting feelings, one could easily argue that as backers of a big government, tax-hikin', McConnell-quotin', Planned Parenthood defendin', Boehner textin', repeat Hillary donor who brags about buying pols, and golfs with virtually every powerful insider in the country, Trump and gang are the establishment.  We must resist the sellout GOPt. I'll leave you with left-wing California Senator Barbara Boxer effectively going to bat for Trump...at least for now:



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