News and Headlines. 10/04/2019

Former Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker departs following a closed-door deposition led by the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on Oct. 3, 2019.

News and Headlines: In The News, Politics, World News, Commentary/Opinion.

In The News:

High school teacher tells class a Confederate flag means “you intend to marry your sister”

Melissa Fuller told CBS affiliate WRDW that her daughter found it offensive and asked her mom what she thought.

Fuller decided to post about the incident on Facebook, where fellow parents and members of the community started discussing it.

Fuller said her daughter once wore a belt to school with a Confederate flag buckle.

The school asked her daughter to take it off, which she did, and she received in-house suspension.

“If she can’t wear that belt buckle, then why is it appropriate to make an assignment out of it?” Fuller said.

Cobb man pleads guilty to killing wife, unborn child

Elvin Durant pleaded guilty Friday to charges of murder and aggravated assault in the August 2018 stabbing death of his pregnant wife, Crystal Battle.
Photo: Cobb County Sheriff’s Office

“This is a sad, cautionary tale about the perils of unchecked domestic violence,” said Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Jesse Evans, who heads the Major Crimes Unit in the DA’s Office.

“This defendant exhibited a pattern of domination, manipulation, and control – with fatal consequences.

But for the heroic acts of Crystal’s son Jakeem and the quick response by law enforcement, who is to say what the fate of the other children in this house might have been.”

The search is on for an ‘armed and dangerous’ man wanted for kidnapping, assault, murder

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd gives an update on the manhunt for Taiwan Blandin, 30, who deputies say went on a murder and sexually battery "spree" earlier this week.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd gives an update on the manhunt for Taiwan Blandin, 30, who deputies say went on a murder and sexually battery “spree” earlier this week. BY POLK COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE | PIERRE TAYLOR

Deputies are still working to determine Blandin’s motive. The 18-year-old victim has been taken to an undisclosed location, according to the sheriff.

A warrant has been issued for the arrest of Blandin, who Judd described as an ex-con who faced 11 prior felony charges and is six feet tall and 190 pounds.

He is wanted for multiple charges including armed kidnapping, sexual battery with a deadly weapon, grand theft firearm and murder.

He is considered to be “armed and dangerous” and should not be approached, according to deputies. It’s believed he is still driving the 2011 dark red Chevy Cruze with FL tag NAG K37 and tinted windows.

Man travels from Norway to Florida to surprise father-in-law, who shoots him by accident

Christopher Bergan, 37, arrived at the home of Richard Dennis, 61, on Tuesday evening and began banging on his front door.

Dennis, unsure who was outside, ran the person off, Santa Rosa County Sheriff Bob Johnson said in a press conference. But, just a few hours later at 11:30 p.m., the banging started again — this time at the back door, Johnson said.

Dennis turned on the back door light and stepped out.

Florida woman arrested after parents find 24 pipe bombs in her bedroom

Mugshot for Michelle Louise Kolts, 27, of Wimauma, Fla., who was arrested authorities said after her parents found two dozen pipe bombs in her bedroom.
Mugshot for Michelle Louise Kolts, 27, of Wimauma, Fla., who was arrested authorities said after her parents found two dozen pipe bombs in her bedroom.
(Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office )

During a search of the house in Wimauma, investigators also seized pistol powder, knives, hatchets, nunchucks, BB pellet rifles and handguns and books and DVDs on murder, mass killing, bomb-making and domestic terrorism, Fox 13 Tampa reported.

Chronister said Kolts admitted to making the pipe bombs and planned to use them to hurt people without being specific, according to the station.

Deputies spoke to Kolts a year ago over an online order of bomb-making manuals and anarchy manifestos, Fox 13 reported.

“She became consumed with the Columbine and Oklahoma killings,” the sheriff said, according to the station.

“At that time, she wasn’t diagnosed with any type of mental health diagnosis. She stated, at that time, her intentions were not to harm anyone. Her parents said she was a little on the autism spectrum.”

Supreme Court to hear major Louisiana abortion case

The law in question is nearly identical to one that the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional in 2016.

The high court in February indicated it would take a thorough look at the case when it agreed to block the law requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

The Supreme Court’s announcement drew a swift reaction from abortion rights groups.

Atheist Group Files Complaint Against Judge Who Hugged Convicted Officer and Gave Her Bible

State District Judge Tammy Kemp gives former Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger a hug before Guyger leaves for jail in Dallas on Oct. 2, 2019.
State District Judge Tammy Kemp gives former Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger a hug before Guyger leaves for jail in Dallas on Oct. 2, 2019. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News via AP, Pool)

Jean’s 18-year-old brother had taken to the witness stand in the Dallas courtroom after the sentencing, saying he forgave Guyger.

He then pleaded to be allowed to hug her, and was granted permission.

According to Fox News, Judge Kemp had later embraced members of the victim’s family.

Then, with court proceedings finished, she then walked to her chamber and returned with a Bible, which she gifted to Guyger, and the two prayed together, asking for salvation.

That action was an abuse of power according to the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), which filed a complaint (pdf) saying the Kemp’s “proselytizing actions overstepped judicial authority, were inappropriate and were unconstitutional.”

The atheist campaign group said that her actions violated the separation between state and church.

Fed’s Powell repeats U.S. economy “in a good place”

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell holds a news conference following a closed two-day Federal Open Market Committee meeting in Washington, U.S., September 18, 2019.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell holds a news conference following a closed two-day Federal Open Market Committee meeting in Washington, U.S., September 18, 2019. REUTERS/Sarah Silbiger

“While not everyone fully shares economic opportunities and the economy faces some risks, overall it is — as I like to say —in a good place.

Our job is to keep it there as long as possible,” Powell said in brief remarks introducing a “Fed Listens” event at the U.S. central bank’s headquarters in Washington.

The Fed cut interest rates for the first time in more than a decade in July and did so again at its subsequent policy meeting in September in what Powell and some others have characterized as “insurance” against risks to the economy.

U.S. job growth increased moderately in September and the unemployment rate dropped to near a 50-year low, the Labor Department reported on Friday, allaying concerns the economy is nearing recession.

Teenage activist Greta Thunberg brings call for climate action to Iowa

 FILE PHOTO: 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg speaks at the 2019 United Nations Climate Action Summit at U.N. headquarters in New York City, New York, U.S., September 23, 2019.
FILE PHOTO: 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg speaks at the 2019 United Nations Climate Action Summit at U.N. headquarters in New York City, New York, U.S., September 23, 2019. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

Thunberg’s campaign demanding that world leaders tackle climate change began as a lonely vigil outside the Swedish parliament, but saw her rise to address the United Nations on the issue last month, and took her to Iowa City on Friday.

The 16-year-old stopped in the Midwestern city, located in the state that will hold the first of next year’s U.S. presidential nominating contests, as part of her tour of North America ahead of a U.N.-sponsored climate conference in Santiago, Chile, in December.

Climate activists in Iowa say they have called for local institutions to employ 100% renewable energy by the year 2030 and to cease operations at the University of Iowa’s coal-burning plant, among other actions.

FBI director warns Facebook could become platform of ‘child pornographers’

Wray, who was one of several top Justice Department officials on Friday to address a crowd of law enforcement and child protection officials in Washington, said that Facebook’s (FB.O) plan would produce “a lawless space created not by the American people or their representatives but by the owners of one big company.”

Facebook intends to add encryption of wide swathes of communications on its platform.

His speech ratchets up the pressure on Facebook as the U.S. and allied governments renew their push to weaken the digital protections around the billions of messages people exchange each day.

The Justice Department’s No. 2 official, who spoke after Wray, took a swipe at Apple Inc (AAPL.O), which already uses end-to-end encryption on its messenger, saying the company reported only 43 tips to law enforcement last year about child exploitation.

Facebook, by contrast, reported globally 16 million child-exploitation tips, a number that he said could drop by as much as 70 percent if Facebook encrypts its messaging program the way Apple has done.

Florida woman drives car into tree after telling four kids to remove seat belts: ‘The devil can’t hurt you’

Calicia Williams, 36, was charged with four counts of attempted murder after investigators say she drove her white Pontiac minivan at a “high rate of speed” onto a grass median and directly into tree, without breaking.
Calicia Williams, 36, was charged with four counts of attempted murder after investigators say she drove her white Pontiac minivan at a “high rate of speed” onto a grass median and directly into tree, without breaking. (Ocala Police Department )

Calicia Williams, 36, was charged with four counts of attempted murder after investigators say she drove her white Pontiac minivan at a “high rate of speed” onto a grass median and directly into tree, without braking.

According to a police affidavit, she stated that her “husband put a hex on her and caused her to crash.”

The responding officer said she kept “rambling on about spells and voodoo.”

Diahann Carroll, Pioneering Actress and Singer Who Starred in ‘Julia,’ Dies at 84

Diahann Carroll, the Oscar-nominated actress and singer who won critical acclaim as the first black woman to star in a non-servant role in a TV series as "Julia," has died. She was 84.
Diahann Carroll, the Oscar-nominated actress and singer who won critical acclaim as the first black woman to star in a non-servant role in a TV series as “Julia,” has died. She was 84.

Carroll’s daughter, Susan Kay, told The Associated Press her mother died Friday in Los Angeles of cancer.

Although she was not the first black woman to star in her own TV show (Ethel Waters played a maid in the 1950s series “Beulah”), she was the first to star as someone other than a servant.

NBC executives were wary about putting “Julia” on the network during the racial unrest of the 1960s, but it was an immediate hit.

It had its critics, though, including some who said Carroll’s character, who is the mother of a young son, was not a realistic portrayal of a black American woman in the 1960s.

Politics:

Report: Anti-Trump Whistleblower Concealed Contacts With House Democrats From Inspector General

According to Fox News investigative reporter Catherine Herridge, ICIG Michael Atkinson testified before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) that the anti-Trump complainant, whose identity has not been made public, did not inform the ICIG in his complaint that he or his team had already contacted Democratic staff working for Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the chairman of the House intelligence committee.

The complainant’s failure to disclose his interactions with Schiff or his staff could put him in legal hot water, as the whistleblower form he submitted requires individuals to disclose “other actions you are taking on your disclosure” under penalty of perjury.

An entire page of the whistleblower form is dedicated to collecting information about previous disclosures so the ICIG can take appropriate action in response to the complaint.

Stop the Coup Against Trump, Rosenstein’s SECRET Communications w/ Mueller, & MORE!

Commentary/Opinion: Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton: Stop the Coup Against Trump, Schiff Collusion, Rosenstein’s SECRET Communications w/ Mueller, NEW Clinton Email Smoking Gun, Big Court Victory Anti-Trump Scheme.

Iran tried to hack at least one presidential candidate

“In a 30-day period between August and September, the Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) observed Phosphorous making more than 2,700 attempts to identify consumer email accounts belonging to specific Microsoft customers and then attack 241 of those accounts,” a Microsoft press release said.

“The targeted accounts are associated with a U.S. presidential campaign, current and former U.S. government officials, journalists covering global politics and prominent Iranians living outside Iran.”

Microsoft says four accounts were compromised in the attack, none of which were associated with a presidential campaign or current or former government employees.

The attempted hack comes after Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Sept. 28 that his country would not interfere with the 2020 presidential election.

Tucker: Trump refused to bow to intelligence agencies

Commentary/Opinion: Intelligence agencies didn’t like President Trump challenging them.

Donald Trump had not even taken the oath of office yet, but by the first week of the New Year of 2017 — in case you don’t remember — permanent Washington had already committed to destroying his presidency.

And Trump seemed to know it.

A little after 8:00 p.m. on the night of January 3, 2017, the president-elect wrote a tweet. He took a veiled dig at U.S. intelligence agencies for their handling of the then-newly initiated Russia investigation.

Trump says calls to investigate Biden is about fighting corruption

Trump speaks to reporters amid impeachment inquiry as he departs White House for event with wounded warriors at Walter Reed.

Rachel Maddow and Chris Cuomo Run Cover For Adam Schiff’s Lies | Unfit to Print Ep. 27

Commentary/Opinion: Former White House Deputy Assistant Fred Fleitz took a victory lap on Chris Cuomo after the CNN anchor was “pretty hard” on his contention that California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff likely knew about the whistleblower complaint before it was filed.

Haley says Trump has record ‘every American should be proud of,’ ahead of re-election campaign fundraiser

Nikki Haley, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations (UN), speaks during the Skybridge Alternatives (SALT) conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., on Thursday, May 9, 2019. (Joe Buglewicz/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Haley will be a “special guest” at the Trump Victory Committee’s Fall Retreat, along with Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., Donald Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle.

Ahead of the retreat, she pointed to Trump’s foreign policy successes in areas such as fighting Islamic terrorism and pushing back against rogue regimes across the globe.

“America is strong again, and it’s because of President Trump’s decisions,” she said.

This was not the first time Haley has given her backing to Trump’s re-election. When she announced her resignation in October last year, she immediately muted speculation that she might run against her old boss, stressing that she would support and campaign for Trump in 2020.

Texts From Diplomats Show Argument Over Whether Trump Wanted ‘Quid Pro Quo’

Former Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker departs following a closed-door deposition led by the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on Oct. 3, 2019.
Former Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker departs following a closed-door deposition led by the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on Oct. 3, 2019. Volker resigned from his position on Sept. 27. (Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

In another set of text messages, Ambassador Bill Taylor and Sondland disagreed over the negotiations with Ukraine.

“The message to the Ukrainians (and Russians) we send with the decision on security assistance is key,” Taylor wrote on Aug. 9.

“With the hold [of military aid], we have already shaken their faith in us. Thus my nightmare scenario.”

Sondland said he never said he was “right” about the situation, adding: “I said we are where we are and I believe we have identified the best pathway forward. Let’s hope it works,” he said.

“As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign,” Taylor replied.

“Bill, I believe you are incorrect about President Trump’s intentions.

The President has been crystal clear no quid pro quo’s of any kind,” Sondland told Taylor.

“The President is trying to evaluate whether Ukraine is truly going to adopt the transparency and reforms that President Zelensky promised during his campaign I suggest we stop the back and forth by text.”

Mischief or Misfud? Barr Calls Reveal Ongoing Investigation, Not Incrimination

Commentary/Opinion: It is not uncommon for an attorney general, or even a president, to ask foreign leaders to assist with ongoing investigations.

Such calls can shortcut bureaucratic red tape, particularly if the evidence is held, as in this case, by national security or justice officials.

A call to request assistance for the Durham investigation would “implicate” Barr in nothing other than an official investigation.

Efforts by Durham to gain cooperation from Australia, England, and Italy likely concern figures such as Misfud.

The professor seemed eager and focused in revealing that there were “thousands of emails” in the hands of the Russians in conspicuously opportunistic meetings with key figures.

We have never established the real facts or loyalties of Mifsud. Some have suggested that he may have been a Western asset working for American, British, or Italian intelligence services.

Fueling that speculation was the fact that the special counsel report indicates Mifsud lied repeatedly to investigators on sensitive national security issues.

While Robert Mueller charged others for minor discrepancies in the stories that they told investigators, Mifsud somehow escaped any such charge.

World News:

Violence escalates in Iraq even after top cleric urges calm

Anti-government protesters take cover while Iraq security forces fire during a demonstration in Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, Oct. 4, 2019.
Anti-government protesters take cover while Iraq security forces fire during a demonstration in Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, Oct. 4, 2019. Security forces opened fire directly at hundreds of anti-government demonstrators in central Baghdad, killing several protesters and injuring dozens, hours after Iraq’s top Shiite cleric warned both sides to end four days of violence “before it’s too late.” (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

The deaths raised to 53 the number of people killed in clashes during the continuing protests and marked a sharp escalation in the use of force against unarmed protesters.

The violence showed both sides to be unwilling to back down from the unrest that marks the most serious challenge for Iraq since the defeat of the Islamic State group two years ago.

Gunfire rang out in Baghdad on Friday, as security forces battled and chased groups of protesters.

Security forces fired directly at people trying to reach the central Tahrir Square, which was sealed off, hitting two protesters directly in the head and killing them, according to witnesses as well as to security and hospital officials.

Censoring Climate Now

Canadian media seem obsessed with climate stories and some have signed up for Columbia Review of Journalism’s global program entitled #CoveringClimateNow.

But curiously, the biggest climate news of the year is that 500 scientists and professionals, and the Secretary General of the WMO, say there is no climate emergency.

Shouldn’t that be front page news?

Especially, when it turns out Canadian taxpayers are underwriting most of the media who seem to be able to only tell one side of the climate story.

Truth about Climate Change will shock you

Commentary/Opinion: Anne Marie Waters.
Leader, For Britain

Ukraine Prosecutor Reviewing Case of Biden-linked Company Burisma

Ukraine's Prosecutor General Ruslan Ryaboshapka speaks during a news conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Oct. 4, 2019.
Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Ruslan Ryaboshapka speaks during a news conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Oct. 4, 2019. (Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters)

Ruslan Ryaboshapka, the country’s prosecutor general, said at a news conference on Friday, Oct. 4, that his office will be reviewing cases that have been previously investigated to make sure they were done so in accordance with the law.

The review includes cases against Mykola Zlochevsky, owner of Burisma, and gas magnate Serhiy Kurchenko.

“There are 15 cases where Zlochevsky, Biden, Kurchenko, and other people and companies could be involved or could be targets for investigation,” Ryaboshapka said.

“We are now looking again at all cases that were closed or broken up or were investigated earlier to make a decision to reconsider those instances where illegal procedural decisions were made.”

ISIS militants behind deadly Niger ambush of US troops have $5M bounties on their heads: State Department

The U.S. State Department is offering a $5 million reward for information leading to the capture of Abu Walid, the leader of ISIS in the Greater Sahara.
The U.S. State Department is offering a $5 million reward for information leading to the capture of Abu Walid, the leader of ISIS in the Greater Sahara.
(US State Department)

Abu Walid and other militants belonging to an Islamic State affiliate believed to have gunned down four American soldiers now have $5 million bounties on their heads, the U.S. State Department announced Friday, on the two-year anniversary of the attack.

A pair of $5 million rewards are being offered for information leading to captures: one for Walid, the leader of ISIS in the Greater Sahara, and the other for any of the other killers involved in the ambush.

Hong Kong: Face mask ban prompts thousands to protest

Some demonstrators vandalised businesses, blocked roads and set fires while police fired tear gas.
Some demonstrators vandalised businesses, blocked roads and set fires while police fired tear gas. AFP/GETTY

The ban comes after an escalation of violence during protests on 1 October, when an officer shot a demonstrator.

Reports on Friday said a 14-year-old had been shot in the leg.

He is reportedly being treated at Tuen Mun hospital and is in a serious condition.

Protesters erupted immediately after the ban was announced.

Many left work early to join the spontaneous demonstrations. Some furious protesters blocked roads, torched Chinese flags and vandalised stations and businesses, as police fired rounds of tear gas.

Trump sees ‘very good chance’ of China trade deal, says no link to Biden probe request

Trump, speaking to reporters before departing the White House, said negotiations to end the U.S. trade war with China were separate from any investigation into Biden, whom Trump has accused of foreign corruption.

“One thing has nothing to do with the other,” the Republican president said when asked whether he would be more likely to make a deal with China if it investigated Biden. “I want to do a trade deal with China, but only if it’s good for our country.”

Top-level U.S.-China trade talks are scheduled to resume next Thursday and Friday, when Chinese Vice Premier Liu He meets with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in Washington

The talks will be preceded on Monday and Tuesday by deputy-level discussions, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said earlier.

Commentary/Opinion:

Is Trump’s Twitter Too Offensive? College Students Give Their Take

This month, Senator Kamala Harris sent a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey asking the company to suspend President Trump’s account.

Campus Reform Editor-In-Chief Cabot Phillips went to NC State University to ask students for their take:

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