We recently reported how anti-Jihad websites were the subject of attempts to deprive them of funding and internet access as a result of appearing on “hate” lists from the Southern Poverty Law Center and Anti-Defamation League.

PayPal cut them off after outreach from ProPublica, as discussed in our post, Charlottesville is being exploited to attack freedom of speech and internet freedom.

This is part of a broader threat to free speech and internet freedom. As documented in my post Gathering Storms And Threats to Liberty, even internet gatekeepers, such as domain registrars, are being pressured to remove “hate” groups from the internet.

The problem, of course, it that “hate” group is a subjective standard, and at least as far as the SPLC and ADL lists are concerned, includes non-violent political opponents of the liberal creators of the lists. For my prior reporting on the SPLC lists, see my post Southern Poverty Law Center “extremist” lists used “to silence speech and speakers”.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation sounded the alarm about this trend:

Even for free speech advocates, this situation is deeply fraught with emotional, logistical, and legal twists and turns. All fair-minded people must stand against the hateful violence and aggression that seems to be growing across our country. But we must also recognize that on the Internet, any tactic used now to silence neo-Nazis will soon be used against others, including people whose opinions we agree with. Those on the left face calls to characterize the Black Lives Matter movement as a hate group. In the Civil Rights Era cases that formed the basis of today’s protections of freedom of speech, the NAACP’s voice was the one attacked.

Protecting free speech is not something we do because we agree with all of the speech that gets protected. We do it because we believe that no one—not the government and not private commercial enterprises—should decide who gets to speak and who doesn’t.

I can now report that two anti-Jihad websites that were cut off by PayPal have been restored, Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch and Pamela Geller’s American Freedom Defense Initiative.

Spencer writes, Victory: PayPal removes ban on Jihad Watch:

Congratulations, lovers of freedom: your messages to PayPal and your cancellations of your account worked: PayPal has restored the Jihad Watch account….

The Left, seeing a golden opportunity when a Nazi psychopath plowed his car into a crowd of Leftists in Charlottesville, tried to use the moment as its Reichstag Fire, and crush all dissent from the hard-Left line. And there is no doubt that initiative will continue. But in banning Jihad Watch, PayPal overreached, and encountered a crowd of free citizens.

I have no intention of restoring the PayPal buttons on Jihad Watch. I know where they stand now, and do not intend to place myself at their mercy again. But nonetheless, this is a victory. Free people still exist in the United States, and the fascists who call themselves anti-fascists will not prevail.

  




Union leaders in Washington state who plotted to undermine a U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning mandatory union dues are now seeing the other end of that boot in the form of free speech activism and diminished membership.

“What a favorable Supreme Court ruling really means is that our work is just beginning,” @FreedomFdtn’s Brian Minnich says.

It’s illegal to force individuals who provide health care services in private homes to pay union dues.

But the powerful Service Employees International Union partnered with compliant government officials to prevent the caregivers from understanding their First Amendment rights, according to the Freedom Foundation, a nonprofit think tank headquartered in Olympia, Washington.

More than 20,000 union members opted to leave SEIU affiliates in Washington state and Oregon, however, after an aggressive outreach involving door-to-door canvassing, targeted mailings, phone calls, and television commercials.

The Freedom Foundation’s Brian Minnich told The Daily Signal that payroll data obtained from the state of Oregon indicate 11,399 out of 28,667 home care providers no longer paid dues to the SEIU affiliate there. That’s a drop of almost 40 percent.

Kevin Mooney is an investigative reporter for The Daily Signal

  




Europe’s migration crisis is a lesson in historical and philosophical degeneration, a best-selling British author argues.

“Almost everything in this book is also a warning, in my view, to America,” said Douglas Murray, author of “The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam,” in remarks earlier this summer at The Heritage Foundation.

“All the things I described in my book are processes, which are the same ones that I think [are] happening in this country,” he said.

Murray is the founder of the British think tank Centre for Social Cohesion, now part of another think tank, the Henry Jackson Society. A journalist and commentator who is an associate editor of the conservative British magazine The Spectator, he argued in his speech that Europe has become resigned to a broken immigration system, which ultimately will mean passing down “a total mess.”

To solve the problem, he said, Europeans must ask two questions: “Who is Europe for?” and “What are we doing?”

Who Is Europe For?

Europeans are “profoundly confused and embarrassed” by this first question, Murray said.

In September 2016, Pew Research Center published an article, “European Opinions of the Refugee Crisis in 5 Charts,” spotlighting how majorities in 10 European countries disapprove of the European Union’s management of refugees. The numbers include 94 percent in Greece, 77 percent in Italy, 70 percent in the United Kingdom, and 67 percent in Germany.

Murray referred to this common sentiment as “anti-immigration, but not anti-immigrant.” But, he said, the problem extends beyond the war in Syria.

The author recalled recent travels to immigration entry points, to “see human faces and speak to the humans” in the mass movement toward Europe. He said firsthand experience revealed that Europeans make a “major mistake” by assuming most, if not all, immigrants are Syrian refugees.

Afghans submitted the second-largest number of first-time asylum applications in 2015, according to BBC News.

“‘Why should Syrian migrants get privilege? They’ve had a civil war for five years. We’ve had one for 15,’” Murray said one Afghan man asked him.

What Are We Doing Here?       

The “Tyranny of Guilt,” a concept coined by French philosopher Pascal Bruckner, has undermined Europe’s sense of self, Murray said. Europe has punished itself for standards to which it does not hold the rest of the world, he said:

I’ve particularly never heard, for instance, that the country of Turkey should have a large infusion of Yorkshiremen or people from Wales, Dublin, in order to not only diversify that country but to make some kind of reparation for the Ottoman Empire.

Murray said European culture is changing because migration to European countries does not mean automatic acceptance of that culture.

“We’ve taken a very strange, unhistorical, and uninformed approach in recent years, which is to basically think that when somebody walks into Europe, they become as European as the next person,” Murray said.

This, he argued, is not so.

A majority of those surveyed in eight of 10 European countries said they believe Muslims “do not want to adopt our customs and way of life,” according to a Pew Research Center poll published in July 2016.

“Islam is the most important challenge to the values vacuum in Europe,” Murray said. “The effects of it are obviously most visibly seen now, where terrorist attacks happen every few days.”

To preserve their culture, he said, Europeans must define themselves more precisely.

“If you invite the world to live with you, aside from the fact that if you invite the world’s people, you invite the world’s problems … you’ve got to have the broadest self-description to encompass the whole world.”

Watch Murray’s full remarks here.

Katrina Willis is a member of The Heritage Foundation's Young Leaders Program.




A survey of 20 Democrats running for a House seat in the 2018 midterm election revealed only one vowed support for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) if elected.

“Nancy Pelosi might actually be in trouble,” the Sacramento Bee reported last week.

The Bee reported that 18 of the 20 would not say if Pelosi should keep her job, while one said he would vote for someone else for the leadership position in the House.

Only one candidate — a former Senate staffer from Orange County, California — said he would support Pelosi, according to the Bee.

“Their refusal is a remarkable development for an already embattled minority leader, even if other congressional leaders, like Republicans House Speaker Paul Ryan or Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, are similarly unpopular in polls,” the Bee reported.

Democrats feel they will have traction to win back the House because of what they see as the “deep disapproval” of President Donald Trump. But Pelosi is also unpopular and is blamed by some for the many Democratic losses in recent House races.

“We are overdue for a new generation of leadership,” said Kenneth Harbaugh, a candidate in Ohio’s 7th Congressional District and the only candidate who said he wouldn’t support Pelosi.

“We have a remarkable opportunity in front of us, and it’s going to take new thinking and new leadership to capitalize on it,” Harbaugh said.

The Bee reported that a Pelosi aide dismissed the survey’s findings.

“Candidates across the country are focused on issues that matter to their constituents, such as better jobs and better wages, not the latest Beltway gossip,” Jorge Aguilar, a spokesman for Pelosi’s campaign, said. “Leader Pelosi has the overwhelming backing of the House Democratic Caucus because she continues to unify Democrats in our battle to defeat Trumpcare.”

Republicans hope to make the most of the debate on Pelosi and the future of Democrats in the House.

“Democratic candidates and their ties to Nancy Pelosi will be an issue in every single competitive race next fall,” Matt Gorman, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee,” said. “Whether or not they claim to vote for her as speaker, they’ll be another vote for her and her big-spending policies in congress.”

“Only one Democratic candidate contacted said he would support Pelosi — Kia Hamadanchy, running in California’s 45th Congressional District,” the Bee reported.

The Bee noted that current House Speaker Ryan is as unpopular as Pelosi, polls show. A May survey from Quinnipiac found 54 percent of voters had an unfavorable view of him, compared to just 27 percent who had a positive opinion.

  




A handful of proposed federal bills would make gun silencers more readily available. And they may overrule Illinois’ ban on the firearms accessory.

Gun suppressors have been heavily regulated since the Great Depression. They reduce the sound of a gunshot to levels that aren’t as damaging to a shooter’s hearing. That’s why U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, has introduced a bill that would deregulate them. There is also a companion bill in the Senate sponsored by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah.

National Association of Gun Rights President Dudley Brown stresses suppressors are made to preserve hearing ability.

“It’s a broad freedom that is largely unpracticed in America except through incredible regulation,” he said. “We want to get rid of that.”

Brown said Hollywood has given the devices an unfair portrayal.

“You’ll still know that someone is shooting, but it won’t be as damaging to your eardrum,” he said.

Modern suppressors take a normal pistol’s 140 to 160 decibel report and reduce it to between 120 and 130 decibels.

In Illinois, they are banned outright. Brown was unsure if the new bill or its companion in the Senate would override that ban. A bill sponsored by state Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, would have lifted the ban in Illinois but it never made it out of committee last year.

Gun control advocates say the deregulation of these bills would have deadly consequences.

“Silencers are military-bred accessories that make it easier for criminals to take innocent lives and threaten law enforcement,” said Violence Policy Center Legislative Director Kristen Rand.

One potential issue with lifting the ban on suppressors is that ShotSpotter, the gunfire-detecting devices that the City of Chicago has spent nearly $1 million on, may not be effective when a silencer is used. In a document on the company’s website, they say, “We have successfully, if not inadvertently, detected confirmed suppressed gunfire within our existing deployments” but also they are pursuing further testing.

  




Rishi Sharma, 19, is traveling the country, determined to interview every single World War II combat veteran.

Sharma has conducted almost 500 interviews so far, and is on a mission to thank and preserve the memory of every single veteran, until the day the last one passes away.

In an exclusive interview on Fox and Friends Monday, he explained why he was so motivated to carry out this mission – because a bunch of 17-,18- and 19-year-olds were willing to sacrifice so much during World War II “so I could have a chance at life” 75 years later.

He said it was books he read during high school about the veterans that inspired him to look them up and start interviewing them.  Before he was old enough to drive, Sharma said he rode his bike to the local nursing homes to interview veterans, then when he was allowed to use the family car, he started driving around.

“I’ve met so many veterans who lost their best friend right in front of them,” Sharma said, with emotion in his voice.

He has a website the details his efforts, and a GoFundMe page where people can donate to help.

  




The Kentucky Court of Appeals ruled Friday that a Christian printer is free to turn down jobs that conflict with his religious beliefs.

In 2012, the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization (GLSO) filed a complaint against Blaine Adamson, the owner of Hands on Originals in Lexington, after he declined the job of printing T-shirts for a local Gay Pride festival. Though Adamson referred the activists to another printing company, and they ended up obtaining the shirts at no cost to them, GLSO’s complaint with the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission landed Adamson a ruling that would have required him to take on jobs at his business that force him to abandon his faith principles.

Attorneys at Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which represented Adamson, appealed the order to the Fayette Circuit Court, which reversed the commission’s ruling and affirmed Adamson’s religious freedom. The commission, however, then appealed that decision to the Court of Appeals, which ultimately upheld the circuit court’s ruling.

In the appeals court opinion, Chief Judge Joy A. Kramer referred to the fact that Hands on Originals brands itself as a “Christian outfitter” with the following “right to refusal” on its website:

Hand On Originals both employs and conducts business with people of all genders, races, religious, sexual orientations, and national origins. However, due to the promotional nature of our products, it is the prerogative of Hands On Originals to refuse any order that would endorse positions that conflict with the convictions of the ownership.

The judge found that Adamson did not engage in unlawful discrimination against GLSO, writing:

[I]t is not the aim of public accommodation laws, nor the First Amendment, to treat speech as this type of activity or conduct. This is so for two reasons. First, speech cannot be considered an activity or conduct that is engaged in exclusively or predominantly by a particular class of people. Speech is an activity anyone engages in—regardless of religion, sexual orientation, race, gender, age, or even corporate status. Second, the right of free speech does not guarantee to any person the right to use someone else’s property, even property owned by the government and dedicated to other purposes, as a stage to express ideas.

“Nothing in the fairness ordinance prohibits HOO [Hands on Originals], a private business, from engaging in viewpoint or message censorship,” the judge continued. “Thus, although the menu of services HOO provides to the public is accordingly limited, and censors certain points of view, it is the same limited menu HOO offers to every customer and is not, therefore, prohibited by the fairness ordinance.”

The judge found no evidence that Hands On Originals “refused any individual the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations it offered to everyone else because the individual in question had a specific sexual orientation or gender identity.”

  




A protest at UCLA was interrupted by a disabled veteran who had seen enough of these hooligans disrespecting America.

A group of protesters were shouting out nonsensical liberal talking points through a megaphone while standing on an American flag.

Then a disabled vet, who has to walk with a cane, taught them a lesson they will never forget.

The man shouted, “Why do you have the right? Because people are DYING for your stupid ass! They are dying for you so you can have this right! You are shitting where you are eating!”

He then took matters into his own hands and saved the flag.

None of the students who witnessed the event helped the veteran. But they did give him a round of applause when he knocked two protesters off the flag.

The flag represents this country, a country which is made up of its citizens. When these idiots disrespect the symbol of this country, they are disrespecting themselves and everyone around them.

Those two are a good example of what our public schools and colleges are putting out today. Isn’t it time to clean them out before they destroy our country. Those goofy stupid girls do not know any better. They were not taught the real history of the USA. The USA is a free country, but we do have laws and deliberate disrespect of the country should be against the law.

They’re lucky any other vet didn’t show up and actually do some damage. These young arrogant snot heads need a lesson in realty.

I remember that day very well almost as if it was yesterday.




Five Kenyans were among a group of 72 Somalis deported back to their native home this month after breaking U.S. immigration laws, according to a report by Midnimo Information Center.

According to police and immigration officials, the group was transported via private plane to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport Friday morning.

“They were deported over immigration issues including lacking papers. We had been informed of their planned arrival. The Somalis will proceed to Mogadishu while Kenyans will be processed here accordingly,” said an unnamed official in Kenya.

This is the second time that a group of mostly Somali illegal immigrants have been deported under President Trump’s administration and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The first group deportation involved 90 illegal immigrant Somalis and two illegal immigrants from Kenya.

During the Obama Administration, only 170 Somalis were deported in his last two years in office after having committed crimes or being rejected for asylum.

It’s been reported that Somalia’s Ambassador to the U.S., Ahmed Isse Awad, has stated that the Trump Administration is seeking to deport at least 4,000 Somailan illegals, but most of them are not being detained by ICE officials at this time.

Local news media reported that the deportees arrived back to the airport in handcuffs, and were returned due to various criminal offences, including drug trafficking, DUIs and sexual offences.



Hollywood is losing the battle against online trolls
So-called "downvoting" is haunting movie marketers, but new Armenian genocide film 'The Promise' is trying to "fight fire with fire."

It had taken years — and the passionate support of Kirk Kerkorian, who financed the film's $100 million budget without expecting to ever make a profit — for The Promise, a historical romance set against the backdrop of the Armenian genocide and starring Christian Bale and Oscar Isaac, to reach the screen. Producers always knew it would be controversial: Descendants of the 1.5 million Armenians killed by the Ottoman Empire shortly after the onset of World War I have long pressed for the episode to be recognized as a genocide despite the Turkish government's insistence the deaths were not a premeditated extermination.

The Promise, which opens April 21, finally would bring the untold saga to a mass audience. But at the Toronto Film Festival premiere in September, producer Mike Medavoy watched the late billionaire's carefully laid plans upended by a digital swarm that appeared out of nowhere.

Before the critics in attendance even had the chance to exit Roy Thompson Hall, let alone write their reviews, The Promise's IMDb page was flooded with tens of thousands of one-star ratings. "All I know is that we were in about a 900-seat house with a real ovation at the end, and then you see almost 100,000 people who claim the movie isn't any good," says Medavoy. Panicked calls were placed to IMDb, but there was nothing the site could do. "One thing that they can track is where the votes come from," says Eric Esrailian, who also produced the film, and "the vast majority of people voting were not from Canada. So I know they weren't in Toronto."

The online campaign against The Promise appears to have originated on sites like Incisozluk, a Turkish version of 4chan, where there were calls for users to "downvote" the film's ratings on IMDb and YouTube. A rough translation of one post: "Guys, Hollywood is filming a big movie about the so-called Armenian genocide and the trailer has already been watched 700k times. We need to do something urgently." Soon afterward, the user gleefully noted The Promise's average IMDb rating had reached a dismaying 1.8 stars. "They know that the IMDb rating will stay with the film forever," says Esrailian. "It's a kind of censorship, really."

While the attack against The Promise is an extreme case, colored by decades of fraught discussion over the Armenian genocide, it highlights a growing problem in Hollywood. A search of 4chan reveals multiple campaigns against everything from Star Wars spinoff Rogue One to indie Holocaust-denier drama Denial to Justin Simien’s upcoming Netflix series Dear White People, many with step-by-step instructions on how to negatively impact films on sites like IMDb and YouTube. Once just a curiosity — for years, Korean fans made an annual ritual of vaulting K-Pop idol Rain to the top of the Time 100 Poll — online trolls now are a movie marketer's worst nightmare. 

In 2016, the all-female reboot of Ghostbusters became a magnet for a downvoting campaign from 4chan and Reddit users. They organized to give hundreds of thousands of "thumbs down" to the film's YouTube marketing materials — its first official trailer, the video of its theme song, even a clip of the cast on Jimmy Kimmel Live! Sony began releasing the film's trailers on Facebook, which has no "dislike" button, but by then the trolls had taken hold of the narrative. It's impossible to say whether they made an impact on the box office, but in the end, Ghostbusters lost an estimated $70 million.

  




NEW YORK, N.Y. (March 8, 2017) – The New York City Council will consider an ordinance that would take the first step toward limiting the unchecked use of surveillance technologies that violate basic privacy rights and feed into a broader national surveillance state.

Council member Dan Garodnick introduced the Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology Act (POST Act) today at noon. The ordinance would require the New York Police Department to disclose information about all of its surveillance technology such as stingray devices, automatic license plate readers (ALPRs), cameras and drones. Under the proposed rules, the NYPD would be required to issue an “impact and use policy” for each type of surveillance technology it uses now or acquires in the future, creating an environment of transparency currently lacking in the department. Disclosure would include important information about each surveillance tool, including, but not limited to, its description, capabilities, guidelines for use, security measures designed to protect any data it collects, and whether other entities have access to information it gathers.

“New Yorkers should have the opportunity to weigh in on what surveillance measures are being taken in their name.” Garodnick said. “As the Trump administration moves to expand surveillance, New Yorkers deserve to know what, if any, sensitive data could potentially be shared by the NYPD with the federal government. This legislation is an important step towards reaching this goal.”

Due to city charter limitations, the council cannot exercise direct control over the NYPD. In an effort to address the issue of surveillance in the city, activists have crafted the POST Act to maximize transparency and provide full opportunity for public input.

“If the NYPD seeks to acquire a tech that is unacceptable or to use it in an unacceptable way, this bill will give us everything we need to politically pressure the Mayor to force NYPD to discontinue its use,” ACLU National Advocacy and Policy Counsel Chad Marlow said.

Introduction of the POST Act is part of a nationwide #TakeCTRL initiative to address surveillance at the local level.

Local police have access to a mind-boggling array of surveillance equipment. As it now stands, many law enforcement agencies can obtain this high-tech, extremely intrusive technology without any approval or oversight. The federal government often provides grants and other funding sources for this spy-gear, meaning local governments can keep their purchase “off the books.” Members of the community, and even elected officials, often don’t know their police departments possess technology capable of sweeping up electronic data, phone calls and location information.

  




PHOENIX, Ariz. (Mar. 8, 2017) – Today, an Arizona Senate Committee passed a bill that would eliminate state capital gains taxes on gold and silver specie, and encourage its use as currency. Final approval of the legislation would help undermine the Federal Reserve’s monopoly on money.

Former US Rep. Ron Paul testified today in the Senate Finance Committee in support of House Bill 2014 (HB2014). The legislation, which previously passed the state House by a 35-24 vote, would eliminate state capital gains taxes on income “derived from the exchange of one kind of legal tender for another kind of legal tender.” The bill defines legal tender as “a medium of exchange, including specie, that is authorized by the United States Constitution or Congress for the payment of debts, public charges, taxes and dues.” “Specie” means coins having precious metal content.

In effect, passage of the bill would, as Paul noted, “legalize competition in a Constitutional fashion.”

Under current Arizona law, gold and silver are subject to capital gains tax when exchanged for Federal Reserve notes, or when used in barter transactions. If the purchasing power of the Federal Reserve note has decreased due to inflation, the metals’ nominal dollar value generally rises and that triggers a “gain.” In most cases, of course, the capital gain is purely fictional. But these “gains” are still taxed — thus unfairly punishing people using precious metals as money.

“We ought not to tax money, and that’s a good idea. It makes no sense to tax money,” said Paul. “Paper is not money, it’s a substitute for money and it’s fraud,” Paul continued, noting the importance of honesty money vs federal reserve notes.

Today, the Senate Finance Committee passed the bill by a 4-3 vote along party lines.

AN IMPORTANT STEP FORWARD

Passage of HB2014 would remove the amount of any net capital gain derived from the exchange of one kind of legal tender for another kind of legal tender or specie (gold and silver coins) from their gross income on their state income tax. In other words, individuals buying gold or silver bullion, or utilizing gold and silver in a transaction, would no longer be subject to state taxes on the exchange.

Bill sponsor Rep. Mark Finchem (R-Tucson) discussed this as well. “What the IRS has figured out at the federal level is to target inflation as a gain. They call it capital gains.” He noted that the bill would help Arizona residents “protect their conversion of one kind of currency for another.”

Passage into law would mark an important step towards currency competition. If sound money gains a foothold in the marketplace against Federal Reserve notes, the people would be able to choose the time-tested stability of gold and silver over the central bank’s rapidly-depreciating paper currency. The freedom of choice expanded by HB2014 would allow Arizona residents to secure the purchasing power of their money.

Ron Paul added that he considered the Arizona bill to be “very important” because it would also serve as an educational effort for other states. In fact, similar legislation is also under consideration in Idaho, Texas, Tennessee, Virginia, and Maine.

“The responsibility is on the states to follow the constitution,” said Paul.

  




On Sunday, a senior Hamas field commander who was the head of Hamas’s explosives unit died Sunday when an explosive detonated on Saturday and blew off his arms and legs.

The Times of Israel reports that Hamas’s military wing, the Qassam Brigades, stated on its official website that Muhammad Hemada Walid al-Quqa died Sunday morning. The statement said al-Quqa was “preparing equipment” in the field when the explosives detonated.

Israel’s Channel 2 news reported al-Quqa was the head of Hamas’s explosives unit; the Qassam Brigades admitted his tasks included “manufacturing and assembling explosives.” The Qassam Brigades said al-Quqa was from northern Gaza.

The Palestinian website al-Resalah, affiliated with Hamas, said the explosion happened in the Sudaniye area in northern Gaza.

Israel’s Channel 2 news stated al-Quqa had his extremities blown off , and that Hamas held a huge funeral for al-Quqa in Gaza on Monday, with signs claiming he had been killed while “preparing something for the enemy.”

The Palestinian Ma’an News Agency reported:

A Hamas fighter succumbed on Sunday to wounds he sustained a day earlier in an “accidental explosion” in the northern Gaza Strip, the Ministry of Health said.

Gaza Ministry of Health spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra told the Palestinian Information Center that 37-year-old Muhammad Walid al-Quqa died in the hospital on Sunday morning following an “accidental” explosion in al-Sudaniyya in the northern Gaza Strip on Saturday evening.

The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, said in a statement that al-Quqa was killed during “preparations” without giving details.

However, the statement went on to add that al-Quqa had been involved in “jihadist activities, including manufacturing and assembling explosives.”

  




I don’t like tax increases, but I like having additional evidence that higher tax rates change behavior. So when my leftist friends “win” by imposing tax hikes, I try to make lemonade out of lemons by pointing out “supply-side” effects.

I’m hoping that if leftists see how tax hikes are “successful” in discouraging things that they think are bad (such as consumers buying sugary soda or foreigners buying property), then maybe they’ll realize it’s not such a good idea to tax – and therefore discourage – things that everyone presumably agrees are desirable (such as work, saving, investment, and entrepreneurship).

Though I sometimes worry that they actually do understand that taxes impact pro-growth behavior and simply don’t care.

But one thing that clearly is true is that they get very worried if tax increases threaten their political viability.

This is why Becket Adams, in a column for the Washington Examiner, is rather amused that Mayor Kenney of Philadelphia has been caught with his hand in the tax cookie jar.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney fought hard to pass a new tax on soda and other sugary drinks. He won, and the 1.5-cents-per-ounce tax is now in place, affecting both merchants and consumers, because that’s how taxes work. Businesses pay the levies, and they offset the cost by charging higher prices. That is as basic as it gets. The only person who doesn’t seem to understand this is Kenney, who is now accusing business owners of extortion. “They’re gouging their own customers,” the mayor said.

Yes, consumers are being extorted and gouged, but the Mayor isn’t actually upset about that.

He’s irked because people are learning that it’s his fault.

Daniel J. Mitchell is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute who specializes in fiscal policy, particularly tax reform, international tax competition, and the economic burden of government spending. He also serves on the editorial board of the Cayman Financial Review. Prior to joining Cato, Mitchell was a senior fellow with the Heritage Foundation, and an economist for Senator Bob Packwood and the Senate Finance Committee.

  




Seventy-year-old Navy veteran Jerry Wayne Pino died in Long Beach, Mississippi on December 12 after serving our country in Vietnam. Pino, sadly, died alone with no friends or family coming to the funeral home where his body lay.

But Pino would not be buried alone. As reported by Fox News' Todd Starnes, six high school boys stepped forward as voluntary pallbearers to see off a man who helped fight for our freedom.

After weeks passed at Riemann Family Funeral Homes and Pino's body was still unclaimed, Cathy Warden, an employee of the funeral home, discussed the distressing situation to her colleague Eva Boomer, a veteran herself.

“Something had to be done with respect,” said Warden. “We had to give him what he deserved. Nobody should go alone.”

Boomer suggested they ask the local high school if anyone would be willing to serve as a pallbearer for Pino. Though it was Christmas break at the time, the two gave it a shot.

Warden told her son Bryce, a Long Beach High School teen, about the situation. In turn, Bryce found five more young men who were willing to serve at the stranger's funeral "within a matter of minutes."

  




Criminals like to prey on the elderly because they're often weak and frail and considered soft targets. Howard Poche of Jeanerette, Louisiana, for example, was brutally murdered in his home on Christmas Day, most likely for drug money. The frail 75-year-old was an active member of his church and a pillar of his community, which is devastated by his loss.

A 74-year-old grandma in Bowie County, Texas, could have met the same fate when an armed home invader broke into her home, but she had something Mr. Poche lacked -- a firearm of her own.

KSLA News 12, Rebbie Roberson was just about to sit down and watch the evening newscast Sunday night when someone wearing gloves and a mask broke into her home.

"And when I started to get up, he was in here on me with a gun facing me right to my face."

What she did next took the gunman by surprise.

"So I had to walk right out in front of him," Rebbie Roberson said as she recalled the harrowing encounter. "I didn't know if he was going to kill me or what."

But she had her own weapon on a table nearby.

"I reached over there and grabbed this gun. And when I swerved around, I pointed it at him and he ran."

When Roberson fired at the intruder with her .38-caliber pistol, she was shooting to kill, she says.

  




Californians are rushing to purchase the evil AR15 semi-automatic "assault" rifle before a new ban goes into effect on January 1, 2017. Governor Jerry Brown signed the gun-control measure into law back in July and with a 10-day waiting period for all gun sales, time is running out to purchase the gun and take possession before next year. All of these newly purchased guns must be registered with the state before the deadline kicks in on Wednesday, December 21.

The latest ban concerns "bullet button" rifles, which are themselves a workaround for a previous gun law that placed restrictions on "assault weapons." Jacob Sullum explains:

The 1999 law covered any semiautomatic centrefire rifle with a detachable magazine and any of six "military-style" features: 1) a flash suppressor, 2) a grenade launcher or flare launcher, 3) a thumbhole stock, 4) a folding or telescoping stock, 5) a forward pistol grip, or 6) a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon. But regulations issued by the California Department of Justice defined "detachable magazine" as "any ammunition feeding device that can be removed readily from the firearm with neither disassembly of the firearm action nor use of a tool being required." The regulations specifically said "a bullet or ammunition cartridge is considered a tool," which left the door open to "bullet buttons" that release the magazine when you insert a cartridge into them. Since guns with bullet buttons did not technically have detachable magazines, they could legally include the features that offended the sensibilities of California legislators.

The new law now restricts the use of rifles with a "bullet button."  And yes, people have already figured out a workaround.

Sales of the long guns have doubled, gun store owners report. Since Brown signed the ban on July 1, nearly 260,000 semiautomatic rifles have been purchased in California. That’s far more than all of 2015, when more than 153,000 such guns were bought.

"People have been kind of holding off," Terry Fong, of Rocklin Armory, told FOX40. "The last 30 days have been absolutely crazy. Phone calls, probably 50-60 phone calls a day, just looking for specific brands of AR's. Now, they're looking for any AR's."

Liz Sheld is Editor-at-Large at PJ Media.

  




On Wednesday, conservative corporate watchdog group 2ndVote announced that Macy's department store was no longer funding abortion giant Planned Parenthood. The iconic store informed the pro-life group last week, just in time for conservatives' holiday shopping. 

"Last week, Macy’s confirmed with us that the company no longer gives and no longer matches gifts to Planned Parenthood,” announced 2ndVote Executive Director Lance Wray, via an emailed press release. “We’re constantly updating our research to portray companies in the fairest possible light."

The advocacy group reports on corporate entities' donations and practices so informed conservative consumers can feel free to abstain from such businesses, or, in other words, cast their second vote with their wallets. In 2015, the group initially rolled out their Planned Parenthood Resource Page, which lists all companies directly or indirectly funding Planned Parenthood.

“We developed the list of Planned Parenthood’s corporate supporters so conservatives could engage these companies and, if necessary, use their shopping decisions to send a message,” explained the executive.

Due in part to their work and the response of active conservatives, four major companies, and now Macy's, have distanced themselves from the scandal-ridden abortion corporation:

"2ndVote's Planned Parenthood Resource Page, was originally released in 2015 with 41 companies that were found having a direct financial relationship with the abortion provider," reads the press release. "Four companies (AT&T, Coca-Cola, Ford, and Xerox) on the list publicly distanced themselves from Planned Parenthood. At that time, Macy’s was making donations to Planned Parenthood."

“It’s apparent that conservatives are using 2ndVote’s research to positively influence what companies like Macy’s are funding," Wray concluded. 

 As provided via 2ndVote, below is a list of companies that directly fund Planned Parenthood:

Adobe, American Express, Avon, Bank of America, Bath & Body Works, Ben & Jerry’s, Boeing, Clorox, Converse, Deutsche Bank, Dockers, Energizer, Expedia, ExxonMobil, Fannie Mae, Groupon, Intuit, Johnson & Johnson, La Senza, Levi Strauss, Liberty Mutual, March of Dimes, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, Nike, Oracle, PepsiCo, Pfizer, Progressive Insurance, Starbucks, Susan G. Komen, Tostitos, Unilever, United Way, Verizon, Wells Fargo



On Friday, Ohio legislators approved expanding the state's concealed-weapons law to permit guns in colleges and day care centers as well as private aircraft.

The ban already in place on concealed weapons in government buildings will remain intact.

The Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police and the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association opposed the bill; the Buckeye State Sheriffs' Association supported it. Critics argued that the bill may endanger students.

The National Conference of State Legislatures states that 23 states allow their college and universities to make their own choice as to whether concealed weapons are permitted on campus; Utah is the only state that specifically prohibits its colleges from banning concealed carry.

The bill, sponsored by Republican state Rep. Ron Maag of Lebanon, Ohio, now goes to Governor John Kasich for his signature.

  



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