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Chicagoland: Landlords for Proposed Charter Schools Have Ties to Mayor Emanuel

Via Chicago Sun-Times:

Two people with ties to Mayor Rahm Emanuel could be among those to benefit from new, publicly financed charter schools up for approval next week by Chicago Public Schools officials.

A South Side minister allied with the mayor and a real estate broker who is an Emanuel friend could end up as landlords for new schools, collecting rent paid for by taxpayers.

The Chicago Board of Education is set to vote next week on 22 proposed schools being sought by nine charter operators. Those that are approved would come back before the school board in May for final approval.

One of two schools that Des Plaines-based Concept Schools chain hopes to open next school year — at 8522 S. Lafayette Ave. in Chatham — would be the first tenant in a building owned by an arm of the Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church. . .

Of course they do. It's Chicago. - Greg Pollowitz

Huh? Obama to Recommend Outsourcing NSA Data Control. Maybe to CGI Federal?

Via AP:

President Barack Obama on Friday will call for ending the government’s control of phone data from millions of Americans, a senior administration official said. The move marks a significant change to the National Security Agency’s controversial bulk phone record collection program.

Obama will announce the move in a highly anticipated speech at the Justice Department. However, the official said Obama will not recommend who should control the phone data and will instead call on the attorney general, intelligence community and Congress to make that determination. He’s asked for a recommendation on where to move the data before March 28, when the collection program comes up for reauthorization.

A presidential review panel proposed moving the data to the telephone companies or a third party. But the phone providers have balked at changes that would put them back in control of the records, citing liability concerns if hackers or others were able to gain unauthorized access to the records. . . 

This makes no sense at all. Imagine the new secruity clearances for this? Remember, Snowden was an "outsourced" contractor. What's needed is an oversight board that understand databases and tech. I highly doubt and congressman or senator sitting in oversight of the NSA right now fully understands the programs. - Greg Pollowitz
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New Report Questions the Intel on the Sarin Attack in Syria that Almost Sent the U.S. to War

Via McClatchy:

A series of revelations about the rocket believed to have delivered poison sarin gas to a Damascus suburb last summer are challenging American intelligence assumptions about that attack and suggest that the case U.S. officials initially made for retaliatory military action was flawed.

A team of security and arms experts, meeting this week in Washington to discuss the matter, has concluded that the range of the rocket that delivered sarin in the largest attack that night was too short for the device to have been fired from the Syrian government positions where the Obama administration insists they originated.

Separately, international weapons experts are puzzling over why the rocket in question – an improvised 330mm to 350mm rocket equipped with a large receptacle on its nose to hold chemicals – reportedly did not appear in the Syrian government’s declaration of its arsenal to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and apparently was not uncovered by OPCW inspectors who believe they’ve destroyed Syria’s ability to deliver a chemical attack.

Neither development proves decisively that Syrian government forces did not fire the chemicals that killed hundreds of Syrians in the early morning hours of Aug. 21. U.S. officials continue to insist that the case for Syrian government responsibility for the attack in East Ghouta is stronger than any suggestion of rebel involvement, while experts say it is possible Syria left the rockets out of its chemical weapons declaration simply to make certain it could not be tied to the attack. . . 

Would Secretary Kerry, Senator McCain, or President Obama care to comment? - Greg Pollowitz

There Will Be Blood: Oprah Not Nominated for an Oscar

Via the Washington Post:

First, you kvell.

When the 2014 Academy Awards nominees were announced early Thursday, all ears were attuned to the expected names. Jared Leto, Lupita Nyong’o, Cate Blanchett, Matthew McConaughey and Bruce Dern given nods in their respective categories? Check.

“Gravity,” “American Hustle” and “12 Years a Slave” dominating nominations for acting, writing, directing and best picture? No big surprises there, and all as it should be.

Then, you cry. No nomination for Robert Redford for his astonishing one-man show in the gripping seafaring thriller “All Is Lost”? Outrage! No Tom Hanks, who delivered such a subtle tour de force in “Captain Phillips”? The nerve! No Oprah Winfrey or Forest Whitaker for their superb performances in “Lee Daniels’ The Butler”? Robbed, I tell you, robbed!. . .

Hey, you don' t see me complaining that Katy Perry was overlooked as the voice of Smurfette in "Smurfs 2," do ya? Suck it up, Hollywood. (I honestly liked "Smurfs 2." I took my daughter twice, voluntarily for the second time.) - Greg Pollowitz

America’s Conscience, Harvey Weinstein, Out to Destroy the NRA

Via Washington Times:

Movie producer Harvey Weinstein announced for the first time on Howard Stern’s radio show that he is making a full feature drama to try to destroy the National Rifle Association.

Mr. Stern asked Mr. Weinstein on Wednesday whether he owned a gun. The Hollywood heavyweight replied that he did not and never would. “I don’t think we need guns in this country. And I hate it,” the producer said. “I think the NRA is a disaster area.

Mr. Weinstein then revealed his secret project about the gun rights group. “I shouldn’t say this, but I’ll tell it to you, Howard,” he said. “I’m going to make a movie with Meryl Streep, and we’re going to take this head-on. And they’re going to wish they weren’t alive after I’m done with them.”

The shock jock asked whether the film was going to be a documentary. Mr. Weinstein said no, that it would be a “big movie like a ‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.’”. . .

What a hypocrite. If you don't like guns in American, how about making a movie that doesn't have guns in it? "Pulp Fiction,"the "Kill Bill" series, "Mob Wives," "Piranha 3DD," etc., etc., etc. He was even executive producer on "Rambo". Oh, and Weinstein, at one point, wanted more "Rambo" movies, "bringing the character back to the United States." Maybe "Rambo U.S.A." was gun-free.

This man's wealth is in large part due to America's gun culture, that he now thinks he can destroy with a "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington"-type film on gun violence? Good luck.

And a spoiler alert: Mr. Smith isn't real. He's like Santa Claus. A figment of the imagination. Members of Congress never have, and never will, be "Mr. Smith." So, have fun making your anti-gun film, but I hope it doesn't conflict with your announced reboot of "Knight Rider". Maybe KITT can fight the NRA, too?

- Greg Pollowitz
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Springsteen and Fallon Skewer Chris Christie in ‘Born to Run’ Parody

Via Late Night with Jimmy Fallon:

Now this is pretty funny. - Greg Pollowitz

Image of MLK, Jr. Used to Promote ‘Freedom to Twerk’ Party

Via The Smoking Gun:

The owner of a Michigan party space has canceled a “Freedom 2 Twerk” party after the event’s promoter began circulating promotional flyers featuring a Photoshopped image of Martin Luther King, Jr. wearing a large gold chain and medallion and flashing what appears to be a gang sign. . .

Idiots. - Greg Pollowitz

War on Books: New Film Based on ‘1984’ will be a Romantic Drama

Via Telegraph (U.K.):

Kristen Stewart has signed on to play the lead in Equals, director Drake Doremus’ futuristic love story, and it’s making her a nervous wreck.

“I can’t believe I agreed to do it,” said the Twilight actress about her upcoming role in the sci-fi drama, which also stars Nicholas Hoult of the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past.

Stewart describes Equals as a slightly updated version of the 1956 film 1984, based on George Orwell’s classic 1949 novel about rebellion in a repressed futuristic society. Equals begins filming later this year.

“I’m terrified of it,” said the 23-year-old actress in a recent interview. “Though it’s a movie with a really basic concept, it’s overtly ambitious.”

“In Equals, things go wrong because you can’t deny the humanity in everyone,” said Stewart. “It’s the most devastating story.”. . .

Pixar should re-imagine "Animal Farm" -- in 3D. -

Kanye West Under Investigation for Assaulting an 18-Year-Old

Via LA Times:

Beverly Hills police launched a battery investigation Monday involving rapper Kanye West, police said.

The alleged incident was reported about 12:15 p.m. Monday in the 8800 block of Wilshire Boulevard, a commercial district, according to a statement from the Beverly Hills Police Department. 

“The named suspect was identified as Kanye West by the victim and several witnesses,” police said in a statement. West left the scene before officers arrived, police said. 

Authorities are conducting a follow-up investigation. No further information was available, said Beverly Hills Police Sgt. George DeMarois. . .

The early report is that West attacked the teen after the teen made some racial comments directed at his wife, Kardashian. Maybe Kanye will try a "stand your ground" defense?

- Greg Pollowitz

War on Babies: Infanticide Increasing in Pakistan

Via Al Jazeera America:

Just days after she gave birth, Zaitoun says, her husband killed the child, their first, because she was a girl.

The infant’s fate wasn’t a surprise to Zaitoun, 26, who moved to Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city, from the rural northwest three years ago. Zaitoun (who asked that her last name not be used) has a round face and thick brown hair that she coils into a bun. Her marriage was arranged, she says, and her husband found her a job working as a nanny for a family in one of Karachi’s wealthy neighborhoods, where he works as a doorkeeper.  

When Zaitoun realized she was pregnant, she didn’t speak of it to her husband, knowing money was tight and that having a baby would likely mean she would lose her job. Her in-laws, whom Zaitoun did tell of her pregnancy, advised her to pray that it wouldn’t be a girl. Two days after her daughter was born, Zaitoun says, she woke up to find the baby gone. That afternoon, when her husband returned home for lunch, she asked him what had happened. “I took care of it,” he said.

A few days later, she says she saw an ambulance crew pick up a tiny corpse from a trash dump outside her apartment building. In the six months she had been living in Haryana Colony, a squatters’ settlement where some of Karachi’s poorest families live, Zaitoun saw three other dead babies removed the same way, she says. . .

Our allies. . . - Greg Pollowitz

Best Thing You’ll Read Today: Justin Bieber’s House Raided Over Felony Egg-Throwing Incident

Via TMZ:

. . .Eleven L.A. County Sheriff’s patrol cars descended on Bieber’s house this morning to execute a search warrant in connection with Bieber’s egg-throwing incident last week outside his neighbor’s home … law enforcement sources tell TMZ.

Sources tell us … deputies are looking for any evidence that links Bieber to the egg assault.

We’re told this is a FELONY search warrant — meaning Justin is under a microscope for a crime that could land him in prison.

A Sheriff’s official told us they were NOT looking for eggs in Justin’s house, but another law enforcement source said cops were searching for anything that was relevant to the egg incident, including eggs and possibly video. 

Sheriff’s deputies have looked at TMZ’s video of the incident and believe Justin has surveillance video that might have captured the egging. We’re told deputies dismantled Justin’s security system and took it during the search. . .

Use an egg, go to jail. - Greg Pollowitz

2nd Best Golden Globes Moment: The ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 4 Trailer

Via IMDB.com:

Winter The Polar Vortex is coming. . . - Greg Pollowitz

Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark Bought by the Japanese

Via AP:

Beam, the maker of Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark bourbons along with other liquor brands, has agreed to be acquired by Japan’s Suntory Holdings Ltd. for approximately $13.62 billion.

Shares of the spirits maker jumped in Monday premarket trading.

Suntory has a portfolio of spirits, with whiskies including Yamazaki and Hakushu as well as Midori liqueur and other beverages. It already distributes Beam’s products in Japan. Beam distributes Suntory’s products in Singapore and other Asian markets.

Suntory President and Chairman Nobutada Saji said in a statement that the acquisition will help Suntory further its global growth.

The combined company is expected to have annual sales of spirits products of more than $4.3 billion. . .

Sounds like a rare merger that could work. - Greg Pollowitz

Fed Investigating Christie for Improper Use of Hurricane Sandy $

Via CNN:

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s office said in a statement on Monday that the “Stronger than the Storm” campaign was part of an “action plan” approved by the Obama administration and developed with the goal of showing that the New Jersey shore was open for business during the first summer after Superstorm Sandy.

“Federal agency reviews are routine and standard operating procedure with all federally allocated resources to ensure that funds are distributed fairly. We’re confident that any review will show that the ads were a key part in helping New Jersey get back on its feet after being struck by the worst storm in state history,” according to the statement issued in response to questions from CNN.

Just days after dismissing two top advisers for their roles in the George Washington Bridge scandal, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is facing questions over the use of Superstorm Sandy relief funds.

CNN has learned that federal officials are investigating whether Christie improperly used those relief funds to produce tourism ads that starred him and his family. . .

Good lucks with "But President Obama said it was cool" as your defense. When did he approve this? During a hug? The Feds should investigate Bloomberg and Cuomo, too. Who knows what they're really doing. -

My Favorite Moment from the Golden Globes: The Sewage Spill

Via Philly.com:

Hours before Hollywood’s most famous faces took to the red carpet of the Golden Globes, a sewage leak left organizers scrambling to clean up the entrance to the Beverly Hilton Hotel, according to reports.

Several photos of the disgusting spill were posted to Twitter by the likes of Ryan Seacrest and Cosmopolitan magazine.

“Huge water leak on #goldenglobes red carpet…Bev Hills fire trying to clean up,” Seacrest tweeted at about 5 p.m. . .

 

Note the fire department was called in to clean up the mess. That's a little under their pay-grade, wouldn't you say? But it is Hollywood and should be a cautionary tale to the 99% everywhere. Eventually you'll be cleaning up the sewage of the liberal-elite you champion. - Greg Pollowitz

Team Obama Ends Contract with CGI Federal

Via Washington Post:

The Obama administration has decided to jettison CGI Federal, the main IT contractor that was responsible for building the defect-ridden online health insurance marketplace and has been immersed in the work of repairing it, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Federal health officials are preparing to sign a 12-month contract worth roughly $90 million, probably early next week, with a different company, Accenture, after concluding that CGI has not been effective enough in fixing the intricate computer system underpinning the federal Web site, HealthCare.gov, the individual said. 

Accenture, which is one of the world’s largest consulting firms, has extensive experience with computer systems on the state level, and it built California’s new health insurance exchange. But it has not done substantial work on any federal health-care program. . .

Prediction: This is the first step in the Feds starting from scratch on HealthCare.gov 2.0. - Greg Pollowitz

Meet the Real Paleo Diet: Grass Bulbs, Fruit, and Worms

Via Fox News:

So much for Fred Flintstone’s brontosaurus ribs.

The popular caveman diet claims people will feel more powerful and healthier if they only eat items popular during the Paleolithic, pointing to nuts, berries and red meat. But a new study from Oxford University says meat wasn’t making it for our ancient ancestors: 2.4 million years ago, man survived mainly on “tiger nuts” — edible grass bulbs still eaten in parts of the world today.

“Tiger nuts, still sold in health food shops as well as being widely used for grinding down and baking in many countries, would be relatively easy to find,” explained Gabriele Macho with Oxford University’s Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art.

“They also provided a good source of nourishment for a medium-sized hominin with a large brain. This is why these hominins were able to survive for around one million years because they could successfully forage – even through periods of climatic change.”

But early man couldn’t live on nuts alone, of course, and Fred Flintstone was likely no exception. These early relatives may have also sought additional nourishment from fruits and invertebrates, like worms and grasshoppers, the study concluded.. . .

And now we've found a food that will allow humans to survive climate change, too! Boom! - Greg Pollowitz

Fireman Uses a Magical Liquid Called “Beer” to Put Out Truck Fire

Via UPI:

When a Houston firefighter came across an 18-wheeler with smoke pouring out of it on Texas 71, he didn’t have any water with him because it was his day off.

He got creative.

During a trip back from Austin with his wife, Capt. Craig Moreau was able to assist a truck driver putting out a brake fire on his vehicle by using the truck’s cargo — Coors Banquet beer.

“The brakes had caught and the tire was burning,” said Moreau. “I crawled underneath and thought we’d got it out but it flared back up. So I said to the driver, ‘what have you got in here?’”

Moreau got a great response.

“It’s beer! It’s all beer,” the driver said.

“Thankfully they were tall-boys,” Moreau said. “I couldn’t help but laugh at the irony of it all, he was so shaken up that the humor escaped him.”

All three people at the scene started shaking and spraying and cans of beer on the blaze and it was eventually extinguished. . .

 

And the legend of beer contiunes to grow. -

NorK Envoy Rodman Apologizes; Blames Alcohol

Via CNN:

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman apologized Thursday for his much-criticized outburst about an American citizen imprisoned in North Korea, saying he was stressed out and had been drinking when he made the remarks on CNN.

The eccentric basketball veteran is in North Korea for a controversial visit that has been rife with bizarre moments, includingRodman’s rendition of “Happy Birthday” to the country’s leader Kim Jong Un at a packed sports stadium on Wednesday.

In an exclusive interview Tuesday with Chris Cuomo of CNN’s “New Day,” Rodman provoked outrage by appearing to suggest that Kenneth Bae, who has been held in North Korea since 2012, may have done something to deserve his sentence of 15 years of hard labor.

“I want to first apologize to Kenneth Bae’s family,” Rodman, 52, said Thursday in a statement released by his publicist Jules Feiler. “I want to apologize to my teammates and my management team. I also want to apologize to Chris Cuomo.”. . .

He might be the most honest "diplomat" ever after this admission. - Greg Pollowitz

Cracker Barrel Waitress Gets $100 Tip, Plus $5000 for Tuition and $1000 for Expenses

Via Journal Star:

The Cracker Barrel customer had a checkbook, and what he wrote in it after lunch Thursday would make his happy server even happier, but first he and his friend had a few questions.

They asked the hostess: Can you give us your grumpiest server? We want to make them laugh.

Sorry, the hostess said. Nobody grumpy here. I’ll seat you with our happiest.

At Table 222, they asked Abigail Sailors for the special — turkey and dressing — and for eggs and sausage.

Then they asked the 18-year-old why she was so happy.

And over the course of their meals, she told them.

About her childhood. The youngest of five from Falls City was just 7 months old when her parents crashed their car on the back roads to St. Joseph, Mo. Her mother never fully recovered from her brain injury, and her father wasn’t fit to be a father.

They were scattered to three foster homes, then reunited under the same roof. They endured abuse there for years, said Abigail’s older sister, Sydnie Murphy. That foster father is still in prison.

“All the horror stories you hear about foster care,” Sydnie said, “we lived through it.”

The state split them again — some to other homes, Abigail and Sydnie and a brother eventually to their father’s house. But then he was arrested for abuse, too.

They didn’t find real stability until about nine years ago, when John and Susi Sailors took them in. And kept them. And raised them. And loved them like they love their own five children.

“It’s a great home, great people, amazing,” said Abigail, who took their last name. “I don’t know how I would have turned out if I didn’t have them. They shaped the person I am today.”

Abigail still sees her birth mom. In fact, she and Sydnie were picking her up at her rehabilitation home in Omaha and taking her out for pizza Thursday night. . .

What a great story. - Greg Pollowitz

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