Signed in as:
Caption - The Camp Fire as seen from above. Photo Courtesy NASA
Starting on Nov. 8, parts of the largest state in the nation were turned into an inferno due to the destructive power of nature.
On Camp Creek Road in the Northern California area of Butte County, a fire broke out just after 6:30 a.m. Pacific Time that would become the most devastating in the history of that state. Now known as the Camp Fire, the blaze has burned over 135,000 acres, destroyed at least 7,700 buildings, injured several firefighters, and caused at least 50 fatalities as of 2 p.m. Nov. 14. Several towns were evacuated, and the town of Paradise was completely destroyed.
That same day, in Southern California, another blaze broke out in Ventura County. This fire, dubbed the Woolsey Fire, began just before 2:30 p.m. Pacific Time, and was powered by Santa Ana Winds in excess of 50 mph. Eventually, it forced evacuations in several communities, including Thousand Oaks, which was already reeling from the Borderline Bar and Grill shooting less than 24 hours earlier.
Around 100,000 acres have been engulfed, and two people have died so far. Because of the location in Ventura and even part of Los Angeles county, over 265,000 people were told to evacuate.
Meanwhile, the Hill Fire, also located in Ventura, has burned over 4,500 acres. However, firefighters were able to swiftly contain this blaze, whereas the Camp and Woolsey Fires are still burning as of Nov. 14, 2018.
Among those to lose homes due to the fire were several celebrities, including Miley Cyrus, Robin Thicke, Gerard Butler, Neil Young, and “Doctor Strange” director Scott Derrickson.
“Completely devestated by the fires affecting my community. I am one of the lucky ones. My animals and LOVE OF MY LIFE made it out safely & that’s all that matters right now. My house no longer stands but the memories shared with family & friends stand strong. I am grateful for,” Cyrus posted on Twitter.
In addition to the homes, several key filming locations were scorched, including the Paramount Ranch and spots for reality television programs.
On Nov. 10, President Trump posted to Twitter, “More than 4,000 are fighting the Camp and Woolsey Fires in California…Our hearts are with those fighting the fires…The destruction is catastrophic. God Bless them all.”
This post came hours after this one that angered scores of people: “There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor. Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!”
Critics pointed out the insensitive timing of the tweet, as well as how Trump himself has cut needed funds from such programs to counter fires.
“This is an absolutely heartless response. There aren’t even politics involved. Just good American families losing their homes as you tweet, evacuating into shelters,” singer Katy Perry posted.
“Dear @realDonaldTrump: What is wrong with you? Disaster victims deserve help & sympathy. Oh, and guess who owns much of the forest land in CA? Your federal agencies. CA only owns 2%. Guess who cut funding to forest management in the budget? YOU DID,” Congressman Ted Lieu posted in response.
Thousand Oaks, CA - On the 311th day of 2018, the United States of America saw its 307th defined “mass shooting.”
On the night of Nov. 7, 28-year-old former Marine Ian David Long committed an act no one would suspect of one sworn to protect. At 11:20 Pacific Time, Long arrived just outside the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, armed with smoke bombs, a legally owned Glock 21 .45 caliber semiautomatic pistol and an illegal extended magazine. The shooter, who frequented the establishment regularly, fired upon the guard outside the venue, and then went inside and shot more guards before shooting patrons.
In all, 13 died at the bar, including Long himself from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, right before authorities could confront him. Reports have surfaced that months ago, authorities were called to Long’s home for a possible psychotic episode, but did not request a 5150 involuntary medical hold at the time.
Among the dead were 54-year-old Sheriff Sgt. Ron Helus, who heroically ran inside in an attempt to stop Long; Alaina Housley, an 18-year-old niece of “Sister, Sister” star Tamera Mowry-Housley and her husband Adam Housley; and Telemachus Orfanos, who was killed after surviving the Route 91 Las Vegas music festival mass shooting last year.
As many around the nation gave their prayers and support to the Thousand Oaks community, several famous figures chimed in via their Twitter accounts as well.
“Heartbroken for our community. Thinking about everyone involved as well as friends and family of the victims. Keep them in your thoughts and prayers,” Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff posted.
“...Great bravery shown by police. California Highway Patrol was on scene within 3 minutes, with first officer to enter shot numerous times. That Sheriff’s Sergeant died in the hospital. God bless all of the victims and families of the victims. Thank you to Law Enforcement,” President Donald Trump posted.
Several New Jersey leaders also reacted to the incident.
“12 people, including a police officer, lost in another horrific shooting in America. I am praying for those affected, but I’m continually angry the Congress hasn’t acted. There is so much we could do to fight gun violence, and the legislation is ready to go. We just need to start,” U.S. Senator Bob Menendez posted.
“We all feel despair following mass shootings - last night in Thousand Oaks, two weeks ago in Pittsburgh, last winter in Parkland. But we are spurred to act. I will not let the next generation of New Jerseyans grow up in fear. I will not stop fighting for commonsense gun safety,” Governor Phil Murphy posted, not long after signing off on legislation banning ghost guns.
As authorities combed over Long’s history to find a motive for the heinous act, this Facebook post was attributed to the five-year military man, said to be suffering from PTSD: “I hope people call me insane...wouldn't that just be a big ball of irony? Yeah. I'm insane, but the only thing you people do after these shootings is 'hopes and prayers' or 'keep you in my thoughts'... every time... and wonder why these keep happening...”
WASHINGTON - After a week of dangerous parcels being sent through the mail, it would appear that the person dubbed the “MAGA Bomber” is in custody.
On October 26, 2018, authorities arrested 56-year-old Cesar Altieri Sayoc, Jr. in connection with several crude pipe bombs mailed to prominent democrats, including former U.S. Presidents, senators, and more. Sayoc, was taken into custody while at an Auto Zone in Plantation, Florida. As of this posting, he has been charged with five federal counts.
The suspect’s van, which was seized by the authorities, was covered in political stickers and pro-Trump materials. His status as a staunch Trump support has led many to dub him #MAGABomber, or “Make America Great Again” Bomber.
Sayoc had a long rap sheet dating back to 1991. So far, none of the devices that were sent exploded, and the white powder associated with the packages was deemed nonhazardous.
“I want to applaud the FBI, Secret Service, Department of Justice, the U.S. Attorneys’ Office for the Southern District of New York, the NYPD, and all Law Enforcement partners across the Country for their incredible work, skill and determination!” President Donald Trump posted on Twitter.
Sayoc is currently facing a lengthy prison sentence, which prosecutors could be trying to add to, given the energetic material the bombs were made of, as well as the powder and shards of glass to maximize the effect. The prosecution is also trying to add domestic terrorism to the charges.
Here now is a timeline of what happened, and those who were recipients of mail bombs:
Oct. 22: George Soros, a billionaire philanthropist who has been critical of President Trump, received an explosive device.
Oct. 23-24: News broke that one home in Washington, DC belonging to former President Barack Obama and another belonging to former POTUS Bill Clinton in Chappaqua, NY had packages sent to them with explosive contents. While this was going on, CNN’s Time Warner Center was evacuated after a pipe bomb and white powder were found inside a package in the mailroom.
During a press conference to address the matter, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that he also received an explosive package, which he said was being handled. Actor and vocal Trump citric Robert De Niro was also sent a package to his place in Tribeca.
Also, on Oct. 24, it was reported that a package deemed suspicious was mailed to a former Washington address of former US Attorney General Eric Holder. That package was returned to an office belonging to former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, as that office was on the return label. Then, it was reported that an office belonging to current U.S. Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA) also got a perilous package. The parcel sent to Waters was intercepted at a congressional facility.
The Secret service released the following statement: “Late on October 23, 2018, the Secret Service recovered a single package addressed to Former First Lady Hillary Clinton in Westchester County, New York. Early this morning, October 24, 2018, a second package addressed to the residence of Former President Barack Obama was intercepted by Secret Service personnel in Washington, DC.
“The packages were immediately identified during routine mail screening procedures as potential explosive devices and were appropriately handled as such. Both packages were intercepted prior to being delivered to their intended location. The protectees did not receive the packages nor were they at risk of receiving them.”
“The Secret Service has initiated a full scope criminal investigation that will leverage all available federal, state, and local resources to determine the source of the packages and identify those responsible.”
Former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton thanked the Secret Service for intercepting the package before it did any harm. Meanwhile, House Speaker Paul Ryan denounced the bomb mailings.
“Those behind such reprehensible acts must be brought to justice,” said Ryan. “We cannot tolerate any attempt to terrorize public figures.”
“We condemn the attempted attacks against fmr Pres Obama, the Clintons, @CNN & others. These cowardly actions are despicable & have no place in this Country. Grateful for swift response of @SecretService, @FBI & local law enforcement. Those responsible will be brought to justice,” Vice President Mike Pence wrote on Twitter.
President Trump then replied to that tweet, posting, “I agree wholeheartedly!”
Oct. 25: Former Vice President Joe Biden and former CIA Chief John Brennan have suspicious packages sent to them.
Oct. 26: U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) had a bomb mailed to him at his Camden office. Booker was the 11th recipient of a bomb, while good friend and fellow Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) became the 13th person to receive a bomb. In between them was former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, whose package was intercepted at a mail facility in Hell’s Kitchen in New York. The 14th recipient was Tom Steyer, a billionaire who has called for Trump’s impeachment on several occasions.
Few people in the world are considered the undisputed best at what they do. Aretha Franklin was one of those people.
With no argument, Aretha Louise Franklin was the Queen of Soul. No quote marks are needed, as no one would even ponder disputing it. She was born March 25, 1942 in Memphis, TN, and was so revered that the place of her birth, 406 Lucy Avenue, is considered hallowed ground. Her minister father C. L. Franklin moved the family to Buffalo, NY and eventually Detroit, MI, where she go on to sing in the choir. It did not take long for her vocal talents to be recognized as transcendent.
Columbia Records signed Aretha in 1961, where she performed standards, jazz, blues, and R&B. In 1967, she hit the big time with one of the greatest songs in history, “Respect.” Franklin made the song her own, and made people forget that it was actually a cover of Otis Redding’s version that he wrote. Redding himself said that Franklin’s version was superior.
The next year, hits like “Chain of Fools” and “Think” followed, and the 1970s saw masterpieces like “Rock Steady” “Day Dreaming” and “Something He Can Feel,” which En Vogue covered in the 1990s to solid success.
Franklin would have more hit songs, including “Freeway of Love,” “I Knew You Were Waiting for Me,” which was a duet with the late George Michael, and “A Deeper Love.” She had another hit in 1998 with “A Rose is Still a Rose” which South Orange, NJ native featured Lauryn Hill. That year, she even filled in for an ailing Luciano Pavarotti and performed the operatic “Nessun Dorma” at the Grammy Awards.
The Queen of Soul had many more great moments. These include a memorable appearance in “The Blues Brothers” movie, performing “America the Beautiful” at WrestleMania III, several performances of the National Anthem, and performing at the inauguration of the first African American President Barack Obama in 2009.
“Aretha helped define the American experience. In her voice, we could feel our history, all of it and in every shade - our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard-won respect. May the Queen of Soul rest in eternal peace,” Obama posted on Twitter.
“The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, is dead. She was a great woman, with a wonderful gift from God, her voice. She will be missed!” wrote current President Donald Trump on Twitter.
Franklin won 18 Grammys, has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, was bestowed several honorary degrees, became the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, was a Kennedy Center honoree in 1994, and was awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005. The state of Michigan even declared her voice to be a natural resource.
On August 16, Franklin died in hospice care due to complications from pancreatic cancer. She leaves being four children, family, friends, fans, and an undying legacy.
Ironically, the Queen of Soul has a link to the King of Rock, as Elvis Presley also died on August 16 back in 1977.
By Kristopher Seals
NEW YORK - As the stock market has been praised for setting all-time record highs, it has now set a dubious record in the other direction.
On Feb. 5, the Dow Jones Industrial Average finished with a record setting loss of 1,175 points. Bear in mind, this was the finish for the day, and was not as bad as it could have been. At one point, the Dow was at a loss of 1,500. All of this followed a Feb. 2 loss of 665.75 points. Within days, the DJIA went from enjoying record setting highs in the realm of 26,000, to dipping below 24,500.
Of course, the NASDAQ and S&P indexes have not fared any better. The NASDAQ took a drop of over 200 on Frantic Friday and Manic Monday, while the S&P has fallen over 4 percent this year. All of this year’s gains in the three indexes have been lost due to this rough patch.
With this in mind, now comes the big question, WHY is this happening? My theory…the GOP Tax Cuts.
Now, you may be wondering, how in the world can tax CUTS cause Wall Street to go in the tank? Simple. Newton’s Third Law.
The Law states, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Contrary to public belief, governments impose taxes on the populace not for the sake of annoying them, but to operate the government, provide services, and also, to keep the nation’s economy competitive.
Here’s the breakdown…On one hand, the GOP Tax Cuts will (according to Trump and the GOP’s projections) have a long-term growth effect on the economy. Conversely, in the short term, the government has less money, because the money that would have been there with taxes at their regular level is now gone due to the cuts.
With this in mind, and high engagement in the market (high engagement does not necessarily mean the Dow Jones has to be in perfect shape) the Federal Reserve is more than likely to raise the key interest rate. This scares investors so much, they want to “Get Out” like Jordan Peele.
Now, they have to choose between protecting their main investments, or taking a chance and hoping the market stabilizes. Here is the problem with that: The Federal Reserve is in flux, as Janet Yellen, the long-time Chairwoman at the Federal Reserve, was recently replaced by Jerome Powell on Feb. 5.
Also, the Fed tends to try and support the Commander-in-Chief and his/her economic policies. In most situations, the Fed’s job is to prevent chaos by regulating what is happening. However, this is the one time that Wall Street is not a fan of a business tycoon.
At a time when a singular, firm economic stance is desired by investors to properly gauge the market, U.S. President and businessman Donald Trump does not have a pristine record when it comes to taking a singular, firm stance on business matters. For example, in some instances he would prefer free range economics and less regulatory red tape, but at the same time, he would like more regulation on companies like Amazon. With this line of thinking, investors are not sure how Trump will affect economic development. By the way, the need to sell is further exacerbated by the possibility of another government shutdown if Congress does not come to an agreement on the budget.
All of this spurs on one of the biggest fears in business: inflation. In the world of economics, inflation happens when there is an increase in the general cost of goods and services in an economy over a long time.
How would inflation happen in this scenario? Well folks, this is the “trickle down” economics the GOP does NOT want you to know about. Here goes: The selloff triggers a slowdown in the money flowing to one group of businesses, which will trickle down to other businesses, who need to sell goods/services to the aforementioned businesses. Because they are getting less from them, in order to meet their bottom line, they have to charge their OTHER customers - YOU - more money.
While this is going on, the other investors who did NOT sell off investments on Wall Street will increase the costs of their goods/services to offset their losses. This will trickle down to other businesses, who need to buy goods/services from the aforementioned businesses. Because they are getting pinched by them, in order to meet their bottom line, they have to charge their customers - YOU - more money.
Again, this is just my own theory. I cannot guarantee what is happening with the market, as I am not in charge of the trades being made. My qualification to make this analysis is a Master’s Degree in Business Administration, so I felt that I could lend a hand in helping people understand why this is happening.
(Oh, and to anyone saying the government should “just print more money” to fix everything, our currency would be devalued on the global scale, making our goods and services less valuable, therefore putting us in a less than favorable trade position, which ultimately results in things worse than what was discussed in this article.)
By Walter Elliott
WEST ORANGE - One could have gone here to the Thomas A. Edison National Historic Park, instead of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, to witness the effect of the Jan. 20-22 federal shutdown.
Those who came to the Edison site's main entrance at 211 Main St Saturday and Sunday would have been greeted by the following sign on the front gate: “Area Closed…Because of a lapse in federal appropriations, this national park facility is closed for the safety of visitors and its resources…Please visit nps.gov and select ‘Find a Park’ for additional information about access to other parks and sites in the area.”
The sign, when "Local Talk" visited 7:30 a.m. Jan. 23, was professionally printed, encased or laminated in plastic and affixed by four plastic ties.
The site was otherwise as it would be after it had closed for business Jan. 19 - while Congress and the President Donald J. Trump Administration grappled in vain to avoid a 12:01 a.m. Saturday shutdown.
Those who may have arrived between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, when the site would be open, would have to do with reading the outdoor interpretive plaques outside of Main Street and Lakeside Avenue. Visitors could also park in the site's lot off Main Street.
But that would be all that any visitors that weekend could do. All indoor parts of sites were closed.
Edison NHP - like the Statue of Liberty/Ellis island and others run by the Department of Interior's National Park Service - put their park rangers on furlough. One may see a park police officer on patrol but there would be no trash pickup or other on-site services.
All but the park police, including any third-party vendors or service providers, were considered non-essential federal personnel. That translated to 21,300 NPS employees among its 24,600-member workforce on unpaid days off.
Other federal police - including those for Amtrak, Department of Homeland Security, INS, et al - were seen making their rounds in Newark Penn Station. Amtrak ran on their normal schedule.
Post offices, including Express Mail deliveries, went on as normal. The United States Postal Service is an independent, supposedly federal self-sustaining agency.
The Dr. Martin Luther King., Jr. Courthouse and Justice Complex, ran an almost normal Monday. The federal courts would have been drawing from their received fees and fines through Feb. 9 - much like a household would run their electricity on a generator until the power grid came back up.
The adjacent Sen. Peter Rodino Federal Office Building presented a more complex picture. While most services continued, some staff were kept home.
The local Social Security offices remained open Monday. The Veterans Administration Hospital in East Orange still admitted and treated patients.
All of the above was because the federal debt ceiling was not raised by Congress Jan. 19. Not raising the ceiling meant that the government had to stop paying bills and providing "non-essential" services.
DUPONT, WA - A tragedy on the tracks in one state echoed one infamous crash and another fairly recent incident in New Jersey.
On Dec. 18, Amtrak Cascades Train 501, operating from Seattle and Portland, derailed south of Tacoma in DuPont, Washington. There were approximately 80 passengers and five crew members on board. The incident occurred at 7:33 am Pacific Time, and almost all of the 12 cars came off the tracks.
At this time, three people have been reported dead, 10 seriously injured, and dozens more injured on a lesser scale. It was the first run of this service connection, which was an $800 million project called the Cascades High-Speed Rail Capital Program. Despite the potential for high speed service, it was heavily protested by residents who lived along the route.
Service from Seattle to points north and east continued to operate. Amtrak Cascades Trains 504 and 509 were cancelled. 502 was cancelled on Tuesday, Dec. 19. No alternate transportation was readily available. Trains operated out of the original Tacoma Station located at 1001 Puyallup Avenue in Tacoma.
Reports say that the train was traveling 80 mph in a 30 mph zone. Many critics immediately pointed out that Positive Train Control (PTC) would have been able to keep the train from accelerating to such a dangerous speed.
“The train accident that just occurred in DuPont, WA shows more than ever why our soon to be submitted infrastructure plan must be approved quickly. Seven trillion dollars spent in the Middle East while our roads, bridges, tunnels, railways (and more) crumble! Not for long!” said President Trump on Twitter.
“My thoughts and prayers are with everyone involved in the train accident in DuPont, Washington. Thank you to all of our wonderful First Responders who are on the scene. We are currently monitoring here at the White House,” Trump added.
The nature of the accident, regarding a train going too fast, somewhat mirrored the Sept. 29, 2016 incident at Hoboken Terminal, where 114 people were injured and one woman, 34-year-old Fabiola Bittar de Kroon, died after a train from Spring Valley crashed into the barrier.
Assembly Judiciary Committee Chair, John McKeon (D-Essex/Morris), who has led a series of joint legislative hearings on NJ Transit’s operations, issued the following statement on Dec. 19: “As we learn that Positive Train Control (PTC) may have been able to stop yesterday’s deadly Amtrak disaster in Washington State, the imperative to finish installation of the system in New Jersey seems to be falling behind.
“From NJ Transit regulatory documents filed recently, the agency itself has admitted again that it remains behind on implementing PTC. Of the 326 miles of track NJ Transit owns, not one mile has the system currently operationally and less than six percent of its trains are equipped with the system.
“While the agency ‘continues to have every expectation’ of meeting the federally mandated deadline of December 2018 to have the full NJ Transit rail system equipped with PTC, I, for one, do not believe them.
“Under the Christie administration, NJ Transit has missed deadline after deadline for PTC. They have bungled everything from the renting of the office space needed to run the program to finding the right contractor to install the system.
“Perhaps if this Governor’s reckless leadership strategy of filling key positions with political patronage hires hadn’t been a top priority, NJ Transit would be on track to meet its PTC deadline. Instead, NJ Transit is in decline and our commuters again are bearing the brunt.”
While the Washington state and Hoboken crashes proved fatal, there is a derailment incident that occurred not long ago, but without fatalities.
At around 2:25 p.m. on Dec. 8, a CSX freight train headed to Selkirk, NY saw 21 of its 141 cars separate from the tracks. The incident occurred on Conrail shared tracks around Lehigh Ave. and Galloping Hill Rd. in Union, not far from Kean University Stadium on Morris Ave. Green Lane was closed by the authorities for an investigation and lengthy cleanup. Some of the derailed train cars carried scrap metal, with the other mostly empty.
The derailment brought service on New Jersey Transit’s Raritan Valley Line to a halt, with travelers between Newark Penn Station and Cranford getting the worst of it. Substitute buses were provided for those making the commute. Meanwhile, New Jersey transit said that Raritan-High Bridge service was also affected.
On Dec. 11, Raritan Valley Line trains resumed regular weekday service. Customers experienced possible 15-minute delays in both directions due to speed restrictions through the area following the derailment.
“NJ TRANSIT is grateful that Conrail was able to complete the necessary repairs over the weekend in time to restore regular weekday service for our customers,” said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Steven H. Santoro. “We wish to extend our thanks to our local, county and state partners for all their assistance and coordination, and most importantly, we want to thank our customers for their patience this weekend while substitute bus service operated between Cranford and Newark.”
NEW YORK CITY - The early morning rush at the world’s busiest bus terminal was shaken, but not broken, by an amateur terrorist.
At around 7:20 a.m. on Dec. 11, a man detonated a crude pipe bomb underground at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City. In minutes, the area was frozen, with street closures at and around 42nd Street and 8th Avenue, stretching to 7th and 9th avenues. The A, B, C, 1, 2, 3, and other subway lines were halted, as well as the hundred-plus buses making their way to and from the Terminal.
As of this posting, four people have been confirmed as injured according to the FDNY, but there are no fatalities. The most critically injured was the bomber himself, now identified as 27-year-old Akayed Ullah. The NYPD has revealed that Ullah is an immigrant from Bangladesh, and has been living in the United States for seven years, currently residing in Brooklyn.
Ullah, who was employed as a cab driver, is currently at Bellevue Hospital and in critical condition. The only known words heard from the suspect are, “They’ve been bombing in my country…and I wanted to do it here.”
At a press conference, the authorities confirmed that the explosion was an ISIS-inspired terrorist attack. However, the bomber was not adept at prepping the pipe bomb, as it possibly detonated prematurely, and the explosion was small compared to other pipe bombs.
“Every law enforcement asset in New Jersey is coordinating with our federal and New York partners regarding this incident,” said NJ Gov. Chris Christie (R-Mendham) in a statement. “I have been fully briefed by my Homeland Security Advisor and have ordered additional security at our mass transit hubs. We will keep the public informed as the situation warrants. I urge all New Jerseyans to be alert and that if they see something unusual, to report it to law enforcement immediately.”
“Let's be clear - this was an attempted terrorist attack. Thank God the perpetrator did not achieve his ultimate goals. Our first responders were there quickly and the only injuries we know of right now are minor,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on his Twitter account.
“We are a target because we prove a society of many faiths and many backgrounds can work - we show democracy can work. But we are the most resilient place on earth. We've proved it time and time again.
“The NYPD will secure all transit hubs and major sites in this city. You'll see additional officers out in force. When you see something, say something. Speak up because you could be saving lives.”
So far, law enforcement considers Ullah as a lone wolf attacker, and not a part of any terror cell.
NEW YORK - One of the highest paid morning show hosts in the country, and maybe the world, is out of a job due to a story that has dominated the year: sexual misconduct.
On the Nov. 29 episode of “Today,” a stunned Savannah Guthrie sat with Hoda Kotb and announced to millions of viewers that Matt Lauer, a man who had hosted the program since 1997, had been fired.
On air, she relayed a memo given to staff from NBC News Chairman Andy Lack, which said the following:
“On Monday night (Nov. 27), we received a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace by Matt Lauer. It represented, after serious review, a clear violation of our company's standards. As a result, we've decided to terminate his employment. While it is the first complaint about his behavior in the over twenty years he's been at NBC News, we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident.
“Our highest priority is to create a workplace environment where everyone feels safe and protected, and to ensure that any actions that run counter to our core values are met with consequences, no matter who the offender.
“We are deeply saddened by this turn of events. But we will face it together as a news organization - and do it in as transparent a manner as we can.”
Sources say that Lack made the move ahead of possible exposés from “The New York Times” and other outlets about Lauer’s behavior. One incident at the forefront came during the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Not long after the announcement of Lauer’s dismissal, there was a torrent of reaction on social media.
“Wow, Matt Lauer was just fired from NBC for ‘inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.’ But when will the top executives at NBC & Comcast be fired for putting out so much Fake News. Check out Andy Lack’s past!” said President Trump on Twitter.
“Don't let the door hit you on the way out, Matt Lauer,” said actress/director Rose McGowan on Twitter. McGowan was among the first of dozens of women who levied sexual misconduct allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.
This news follows the dismissal of long-time newsman Charlie Rose from CBS and PBS on similar allegations.
Sutherland Springs, TX - A pregnant woman, her children, and the 14-year-old daughter of a pastor are just some of the victims of yet another mass shooting in the United States.
On Nov. 5, at around 11:20 am Central Standard Time, 26-year-old gunman Devin Patrick Kelley began firing at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, killing 26 people and injuring 20 more. After exiting the church, Kelley was shot by another person, who then got into a vehicle driven by Johnnie Langendorff with the intent of chasing down Kelley, reaching speeds high as 95 mph. The church shooter would go on to lose control of his vehicle, and drove off the road. When authorities arrived on scene, they found him dead of an apparent self-inflict gunshot wound.
"While the details of this horrific act are still under investigation, Cecilia and I want to send our sincerest thoughts and prayers to all those who have been affected by this evil act. I want to thank law enforcement for their response and ask that all Texans pray for the Sutherland Springs community during this time of mourning and loss," said Governor Greg Abbott in a statement. Abbott then ordered Texas flags across the state to be lowered to half-staff in honor of those lost in the horrific shooting through Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017.
Sutherland Springs is an unincorporated town with a population of under 1,000, and is roughly 35 miles east of San Antonio. The daughter of pastor Frank Pomeroy was among the deceased, with the youngest being just 18 months of age. The FBI is investigating the matter, and no motive has been discovered so far.
The shooter had a disturbing history. Kelley was dishonorably discharged from the U.S. Air Force in 2012 after being court martialed for the assault of his wife and her child. He remarried in 2014, and her current wife, Danielle Shields, was a Sunday school teacher at the church. Kelley’s ex mother-in-law, who he sent threatening texts to recently, was also a parishioner there, but was not in attendance that fateful day.
Despite being denied a gun license, Kelley was still able to acquire the AR-15 rifle used in the shooting. He brazenly posed with the weapon on Facebook days before the shooting.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and families of today’s murderous attack in Sutherland Springs, Texas. This horrible act of evil occurred as the victims and their families were in their place of sacred worship. We cannot put into words the pain and grief we all feel, and we cannot begin to imagine the suffering of those who lost the ones they loved. Our hearts are broken,” said President Trump in a statement while visiting Japan.
“But in dark times such as these, Americans do what we do best: we pull together. We join hands. We lock arms. And through the tears and the sadness, we stand strong.
“My Administration is providing its full support to the state and local authorities investigating this horrible crime. I have spoken with Governor Abbott, and we offer our thanks to the first responders who ultimately stopped the suspect and rendered immediate and lifesaving aid to the victims of this shooting. I will continue to follow developments closely.
“All of America is praying to God to help the wounded and the families - we will never leave their side.”
“I’d like to express my heartfelt condolences and sympathy for your loss and also for those who lost their lives and those who were hurt in the shooting incident in Texas. I understand that you are facing a very difficult time at this moment, and I'd like to express our heartfelt solidarity with the United States,” said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe via an interpreter.
“Heartbroken for the victims in Texas and their families. We are not powerless to reduce gun violence in our nation. Congress must act,” said U.S. Senator Cory Booker on Twitter.
This incident is now the deadliest shooting at an American place of worship, surpassing the 2015 Charleston church executed by Dylann Roof. Also, this has knocked the April 20, 1999 Columbine High School shooting, executed by Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, out of the Top 10.
One of the biggest players in Hollywood has been ousted from the company he co-founded after news of his abuse of women became public.
Harvey Weinstein, who was one of the men in charge of The Weinstein Company with brother Robert, was removed by the company’s board after a scathing report in “The New York Times” documenting his sexual harassment of several women.
Among the victims are prominent actresses Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan. McGowan, who has been the most vocal in demanding justice for victims of sexual abuse, has called for the entire Weinstein Co. board to resign.
While Weinstein said he would sue the publication for the report, he did admit to making mistakes in the past, alleging that it was the culture at the time. In a statement, Weinstein said, “I came of age in the 60s and 70s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. That was the culture then…I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it. Though I’m trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go.”
Lisa Bloom initially represented Weinstein in his case, but soon left due to public pressure.
“This is about a power structure that needs to be brought down. I cannot thank the women who came forward & the boss writers at #NYT enough,” said McGowan on her Twitter account.
McGowan then took back to Twitter to scold fashion designer Donna Karan for defending Weinstein, stating, “Donna Karan you are a DEPLORABLE Aiding and abetting is a moral crime. You are scum in a fancy dress.”
In addition to the “Times” piece, more women have come forward about nefarious actions committed by Weinstein. News anchor Lauren Sivan told the Huffington Post that Weinstein masturbated in front of her in a restaurant hallway and ejaculated into a potted plant.
In a February “New Yorker” report, Ronan Farrow indicated that Weinstein had assaulted or harassed 13 women, with three of them being raped. Two of the rape victims has been identified as actresses Asia Argento and Lucia Evans.
Two of the harassment victims who have come forward since the news broke are Academy Award winners Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie. Paltrow won a Best Actress Award for the movie “Shakespeare in Love,” in which Weinstein was a producer, and won an Academy Award for Best Picture.
Dozens of A-list figures - with many of them having worked on Weinstein projects - have come out to condemn Weinstein’s actions, including New Jersey natives Meryl Streep and Kevin Smith, Jennifer Lawrence, George Clooney, Glenn Close, Emma Watson, Lena Dunham, Kate Winslet, Judi Dench, Julianne Moore, Jessica Chastain, and Mark Ruffalo.
In the wake of the scandal, many Democrats on the political scene have given back contributions to their campaigns made by Weinstein, and several projects associated with the Weinstein Co. have been cancelled or put on hold.
“I was shocked and appalled by the revelations about Harvey Weinstein. The behavior described by women coming forward cannot be tolerated. Their courage and the support of others is critical in helping to stop this kind of behavior,” said Hillary Clinton in a statement. Clinton was among those who received support from Weinstein.
There is no word on what will happen to the title of honorary Commander of the Order of the British Empire Weinstein received in 2004 for his contributions to the British film industry.
Las Vegas, NV - A lone gunman went on a terrorist rampage in Las Vegas, killing at least 59 people and injuring over 520 others in the process.
Stephen Paddock, 64, fired on a crowd attending the Route 91 Harvest Festival. He did so just after 10 pm Pacific Time with a high powered rifle from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Jason Aldean, who was on stage performing at the time, ducked for cover, along with most of the 22,000 others in attendance on Oct. 1, 2017. It was the final night of the country music jubilee.
Paddock, whose residence was in a Mesquite, NV retirement community, had 22 more guns in his room, and was located by authorities after setting off the smoke alarm due to the number of rounds he was firing. When a SWAT team breached the door, they found the shooter dead of a self-inflicted wound.
Police have identified Paddock’s girlfriend, Marilou Danley, as a person of interest. However, at this time, they are saying that she was not involved. Meanwhile, there are reports that ISIS is claiming responsibility, alleging that Paddock converted to their cause, but those reports have not been substantiated.
“My fellow Americans, we are joined together today in sadness, shock, and grief. Last night, a gunman opened fire on a large crowd at a country music concert in Las Vegas, Nevada. He brutally murdered more than 50 people, and wounded hundreds more. It was an act of pure evil,” said President Donald J. Trump in a statement.
“The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are working closely with local authorities to assist with the investigation, and they will provide updates as to the investigation and how it develops.
“I want to thank the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and all of the first responders for their courageous efforts, and for helping to save the lives of so many. The speed with which they acted is miraculous, and prevented further loss of life. To have found the shooter so quickly after the first shots were fired is something for which we will always be thankful and grateful. It shows what true professionalism is all about.
“Hundreds of our fellow citizens are now mourning the sudden loss of a loved one - a parent, a child, a brother or sister. We cannot fathom their pain. We cannot imagine their loss. To the families of the victims: We are praying for you and we are here for you, and we ask God to help see you through this very dark period.
“Scripture teaches us, ‘The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.’ We seek comfort in those words, for we know that God lives in the hearts of those who grieve. To the wounded who are now recovering in hospitals, we are praying for your full and speedy recovery, and pledge to you our support from this day forward.
“In memory of the fallen, I have directed that our great flag be flown at half-staff.
“I will be visiting Las Vegas on Wednesday to meet with law enforcement, first responders, and the families of the victims.
“In moments of tragedy and horror, America comes together as one - and it always has. We call upon the bonds that unite us - our faith, our family, and our shared values. We call upon the bonds of citizenship, the ties of community, and the comfort of our common humanity.
“Our unity cannot be shattered by evil. Our bonds cannot be broken by violence. And though we feel such great anger at the senseless murder of our fellow citizens, it is our love that defines us today - and always will, forever.
“In times such as these, I know we are searching for some kind of meaning in the chaos, some kind of light in the darkness. The answers do not come easy. But we can take solace knowing that even the darkest space can be brightened by a single light, and even the most terrible despair can be illuminated by a single ray of hope.
“Melania and I are praying for every American who has been hurt, wounded, or lost the ones they love so dearly in this terrible, terrible attack. We pray for the entire nation to find unity and peace. And we pray for the day when evil is banished, and the innocent are safe from hatred and from fear.
“May God bless the souls of the lives that are lost. May God give us the grace of healing. And may God provide the grieving families with strength to carry on.
“Thank you. God bless America.”
This incident set a new disturbing record, as it is now the deadliest mass shooting in the history of the United States, surpassing the Pulse nightclub shooting from just last year.