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Thought Of The Day
Thought Of The Day
September 5, 2015

"Every day I wake up, I make a choice not to let the world decide for me. I decide for me. I decide to get going." - Beyoncé

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Good Day Goodies!
Good Day Goodies!
September 4, 2015

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Trump signs pledge not to run as independent in 2016
Trump signs pledge not to run as independent in 2016
September 4, 2015

Donald Trump announced Thursday he has signed a GOP pledge not to run as an independent in 2016, after a personal appeal from the Republican Party chairman.

"I have signed the pledge," Trump said, holding it up.

The decision by the Republican presidential front-runner helps ease concerns among party leadership that an outside Trump bid -- should he not win the nomination -- could threaten the party's chances in the general election by peeling off votes.

The party began circulating the pledge to virtually all the Republican campaigns earlier this week. But Trump was the obvious concern. He had been the only one who did not raise his hand when the 10 top-polling candidates were asked at last month's Fox News debate whether they'd commit not to mount an independent White House bid.

Trump, after meeting Thursday with party boss Reince Priebus, said the chairman has been "extremely fair."

"I just wanted fairness from the Republican Party," Trump said. After holding up the pledge, he said, "I will be totally pledging my allegiance to the Republican Party, and the conservative principles for which it stands."

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Judge overturns Brady 'Deflate-gate' suspension
Judge overturns Brady 'Deflate-gate' suspension
September 4, 2015

A US judge overturned superstar quarterback Tom Brady's four-game suspension for his alleged role in the "Deflate-gate" controversy Thursday, calling it unfair in a ruling the National Football League vowed to appeal for the good of the sport.

The ruling by US District Judge Richard Berman paves the way for Brady to take the field with his New England Patriots when the Super Bowl champions host the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL season-opener next Thursday.

"Brady's four-game suspension is vacated, effective immediately," Berman ruled after failing in his effort to induce the warring sides to reach a settlement.

The decision however is not a definitive end to a saga that has shadowed the NFL since January, when accusations surfaced that the Patriots used balls inflated below the league minimum in the first half of the American Conference championship victory over Indianapolis.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the league would appeal "in order to uphold the collectively bargained responsibility to protect the integrity of the game."

But Berman concluded that Goodell overstepped his bounds in the punishment meted out to Brady, which the judge said was based on "several significant legal deficiencies."

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Kim Davis stands firm on same-sex marriage; the Kentucky clerk stays in jail
Kim Davis stands firm on same-sex marriage; the Kentucky clerk stays in jail
September 4, 2015

Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk Kim Davis was given a second chance: She didn't have to issue same-sex marriage licenses herself; she merely had to agree not to interfere with five deputy clerks who had told the federal judge they'd issue them in her stead.

But Davis' lawyer told U.S. District Judge David Bunning that his client would not allow her deputies to issue the licenses. Davis was not in the courtroom for the second session. She was in a hallway outside.

"We cannot represent to the court that she would allow licenses to be issued," attorney Mat Staver said.

Staver later told CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper" that Davis would issue licenses if her name and title were not on them.

"Because that in her understanding and mind is authorizing something that is contrary to her Christian values and convictions," he said. "That's where the conscience rub is."

Earlier Thursday, Bunning remanded Davis into the custody of U.S. marshals for refusing to heed a U.S. Supreme Court order legalizing same-sex marriage, saying she would remain in jail until she complies with the ruling.

Bunning then asked Davis' six deputy clerks whether they would issue the licenses, and despite some of them holding the same religious beliefs as Davis, five told Bunning they would issue the licenses. The sixth -- Davis' son, Nathan -- didn't answer.

Gov. Steve Beshear said the judge's decision "speaks for itself."

"The future of the Rowan County Clerk continues to be a matter between her and the courts. Deputy clerks have said they will commence issuing marriage licenses beginning (Friday)," he said. "It appears that the citizens of Rowan County will now have access to all the services from the clerk's office to which they are entitled."

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Super Beets!
Super Beets!
September 3, 2015

Nitric oxide (N-O) is the master regulator of the cardiovascular system that signals arteries to relax and dilate, improving circulation and blood flow. Dietary nitrates, like those found in SuperBeets, can help the body:

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White House isn't done counting Iran votes yet
White House isn't done counting Iran votes yet
September 3, 2015

The White House won't stop its aggressive lobbying effort for the Iran nuclear deal, even after securing what appears to be a critical mass of members of Congress who will vote to sustain it.

There are now 34 senators in favor of the deal. That's the magic number, because 67 of the 100 senators could vote to override a presidential veto of a deal blocking U.S. participation in the international agreement. But the White House has always been uncomfortable merely sustaining a veto, and is now working on getting enough votes for a Senate filibuster to prevent him from having to veto the resolution of disapproval.

"We are encouraged about the latest tally, but when the stakes are this high ... every vote is important," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters aboard Air Force One Wednesday. "Everyone from the president on down will continue to be engaged in marshaling the information necessary so that undecided members can reach their own conclusions about the agreement."

Among those undecided members: Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Jewish Democrat from south Florida and the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee. Vice President Joe Biden traveled to Miami Wednesday, raising money for Democrats and addressing a local Jewish community center in Wasserman Schultz's district about the Iran deal.

"There are a number of questions and concerns that I have, along with my constituents and community leaders, about the agreement," Wasserman Schultz said in a statement last week. "Given his extensive experience in the foreign policy arena and his intimate knowledge of the negotiations, I believe Vice President Biden can be an effective representative to respond to those questions."

Wasserman Schultz reportedly blocked a resolution at the DNC's annual meeting in Minneapolis last week that would have endorsed the Iran deal.

Earnest noted that a majority of DNC members still support the deal, and downplayed any friction between Obama and his hand-picked party chairwoman.

"To her credit, she has participated in literally hours of meetings and conversations with senior administration officials to discuss the finer points of this agreement," he said. "It sounds to me that she's treating this as seriously as she should."

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GOP seeks pledge to avert Trump third-party run
GOP seeks pledge to avert Trump third-party run
September 3, 2015

Seeking to avert a 2016 disaster, the Republican National Committee on Wednesday challenged every GOP presidential candidate to sign a pledge not to undertake a third-party bid under any circumstances.

The challenge, confirmed by multiple campaigns, is aimed squarely at Donald Trump. And the timing of the pledge suggests an agreement has been reached.

While he is leading the packed Republican field in early polls, the billionaire businessman last month repeatedly threatened to launch a third-party bid - leaving open the possibility even at the GOP's first presidential debate last month - should he fail to claim the Republican presidential nomination. Such a decision would make it all but impossible for the Republican Party to win the White House in 2016.

RNC officials have been working privately with Trump's campaign for several weeks to avert such a scenario.

While neither side would publicly confirm late Wednesday that an agreement had been reached, Trump has hinted in recent days the GOP lobbying was beginning to work.

The Trump campaign did not respond to questions about the pledge late Wednesday. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus is set to meet privately with Trump at his campaign headquarters in New York City shortly before Trump is scheduled to address reporters. The meeting was confirmed by two RNC officials who weren't authorized to discuss the plan publicly and requested anonymity.

In recent days, Trump has suggested he would soon decide whether to rule out a third-party bid.

"I think a lot of people are going to be very happy," he said Saturday in Nashville.

Several candidates contacted late Wednesday confirmed that they would sign the pledge, among them Ohio Gov. John Kasich and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, although few doubted the intentions of the vast majority of the GOP's 17 presidential contenders.

The Republican National Committee's pledge asks candidates to promise to "endorse the 2016 Republican presidential nominee regardless of who it is."

Further, it asks them to pledge "that I will not seek to run as an independent or write-in candidate, nor will I seek or accept the nomination for president of any other party."

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Posted by Ken at 1:43 AM - Link to this entry  |  Share this entry  |  Print

Judge refuses to dismiss charges against officers in Freddie Gray case
Judge refuses to dismiss charges against officers in Freddie Gray case
September 3, 2015

A Baltimore judge on Wednesday refused to dismiss charges against six police officers in connection with the death of a black man from injuries he suffered while in custody. The judge also refused to remove the prosecutor in the case.

The death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray - who succumbed to injuries sustained after his arrest on April 12 - sparked rioting and unrest that shook Baltimore for days. Protests Wednesday outside the Baltimore courtroom where a pretrial hearing on the charges took place resulted in just one arrest.

Defense attorneys failed to persuade Circuit Judge Barry Williams that what they claimed was prosecutorial misconduct on the part of State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby was reason enough to drop the charges against the police officers - which range from second-degree assault to second-degree murder.

Williams ruled that while Mosby's public comments regarding initial statements made by the officers to investigators were "troubling," they were not likely to prejudice a jury.

Andrew Graham, an attorney representing Officer Caesar Goodson, unsuccessfully argued that Mosby's comments after filing charges against the officers were "reckless and unprofessional," and violated the rules of conduct. He likened Mosby's comments on the case to a "pep rally calling for payback."

Williams also ruled against another defense motion, one that sought to have Mosby removed from the case due to what the defense contended were conflicts of interest. He called the assertion that Mosby's judgment was impacted by the fact that her husband Nick Mosby is a councilman in a district that experienced a disproportionate amount of violence "troubling and condescending."

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CIA, Special Operations forces reportedly launch drone war against ISIS in Syria
CIA, Special Operations forces reportedly launch drone war against ISIS in Syria
September 2, 2015

The drone strike that killed ISIS' most notorious online recruiter in Syria last week was part of a stepped-up effort by the CIA and U.S. Special Operations forces to target and eliminate senior members of the terror group, according to a published report.

The Washington Post, citing U.S. officials, reported Tuesday that the collaborative effort has been responsible for "several" recent strikes against senior ISIS operatives deemed "high-value targets." The program's most notable success has been the death of Junaid Hussain, a British-born computer hacker who used social media in an effort to inspire homegrown jihadists to commit terror attacks.

The reported program is independent of airstrikes carried out in Syria by a U.S.-led coalition, which has the aim of dislodging ISIS from the swath of territory it captured in Iraq and Syria last year. A recent U.S. intelligence assessment concluded that conventional airstrikes had done little to affect ISIS' manpower or territorial footprint.

The Post reported that the targets of the drone strikes had been identified by the CIA's Counterterrorism Center (CTC), while the actual missions were being carried out by the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). According to the paper, the drone strikes constitute a fraction of the more than 2,450 strikes conducted in Syria over the past 12 months. An additional 4,000 airstrikes have targeted ISIS in Iraq.

The arrangement between the CTC and JSOC is an apparent response to President Obama's effort to shift responsibility for drone missions from the CIA to the Pentagon. The CIA had previously been known to conduct drone strikes in Pakistan as well as in Yemen, where it did so alongside the military. Earlier this year, it was reported that Obama waived the CIA's Pakistan drone strikes from rules requiring that the agency prove the target posed an imminent threat to America.

The Post reports that the strikes are being carried out under the military's post-9/11 authority to pursue Al Qaeda rather than a specific presidential directive to the CIA, which means the drones can only be operated under JSOC authority.

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