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Sunday, February 01, 2015

Tolkien lore led a Texas boy to suspension after he brought his "one ring" to school. Kermit Elementary School officials called it a threat when the 9-year-old boy, Aiden Steward, in a playful act of make-believe, told a classmate he could make him disappear with a ring forged in fictional Middle Earth's Mount Doom. "It sounded unbelievable," the boy's father, Jason Steward, told the New York Daily News. He insists his son "didn't mean anything by it." He added, "I assure you my son lacks the magical powers necessary to threaten his friend's existence."


Video clips posted on social media appear to show a New Rochelle, N.Y., police officer point his gun and curse at people who had been engaging in a snowball fight. Sources told Talk of the Sound, a local news site, that cops said they had received a report of a person with a gun. No gun was apparent from the video. "They were having a snowball fight," the woman recording the incident says in the video. "This group of guys was having a snowball fight and now a cop has a gun on them." read more


New York Times: As the new Congress gets settled in, the debate over the scope and legal authority of Washington’s new war in the Middle East has resurfaced amid strikingly disparate views. The White House is consulting with lawmakers from both parties on the parameters that would retroactively establish ground rules for the bombing campaign against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria that began in September. That task has become more complicated by irresponsible calls from some lawmakers, and the nation’s top military officer, for an expansive mandate that would leave this president, and his successors, with dangerously broad authority to use military force in perpetuity.


Bill Barnwell breaks down Super Bowl 0x31 at GrantLand length and finishes with his prediction of the winner -- which I'm leaving out to keep half of you from ignoring the piece. "The Patriots and Seahawks aren't built for one another," he writes. "These are two teams built around dominant secondaries that were designed to target other opponents. These are defenses built to stop the Broncos,1 Colts, and Packers, teams with terrifying no. 1 wideouts who challenge mortal teams to stop them from throwing downfield on every single play. Darrelle Revis and Richard Sherman are the two best cornerbacks in football and they will likely spend their Sunday evening covering Doug Baldwin and Brandon LaFell. That just seems wrong." read more


An art enthusiast paid $5,212 in 2013 at a Christie's auction in London for a painting of an 19th-century English landscape. The painting sold Wednesday at a Sotheby's auction in New York for $5.2 million. Christie's analyzed the painting in 2013 and declared that it was the work of a follower of John Constable -- not a creation of the famed English Romantic landscape artist himself. But Sotheby's claimed it was an original Constable made in preparation for another work owned by the Tate gallery in London.


A 3-year-old boy shot his father and pregnant mother inside an America's Best Value Inn motel room in New Mexico Saturday afternoon. Both parents are recovering. The Albuquerque Police Department said that it appears the toddler managed to take a handgun out of his mother's purse and fire one shot. Justin Reynolds said he and his girlfriend, Monique Villescas, were getting ready to order pizza when he heard a gun go off. "The next minute I realized my girlfriend was bleeding," he told TV station KOB. "Then I sat down and realized I was shot too."


Bobbi Kristina Brown, the 21-year-old daughter of the late singer Whitney Houston, was found unresponsive in a bathtub in her Georgia home Saturday before being rushed to the hospital. Brown's husband, Nick Gordon, and a friend found her in the tub before 10:20 a.m. and started CPR, Roswell police spokeswoman Officer Lisa Holland said. She was alive and breathing when brought to North Fulton Hospital. Houston died a little under three years ago in a hotel bathtub while in Hollywood to attend the Grammy Awards. The cause of death was an accidental drowning and heart disease and cocaine use were factors.


Finding refuge from the bitter cold that settled over New York City one recent evening, Uriel Israelov, 21, enjoyed a smoke with friends in Sahara East in the East Village. Smoking in bars here is illegal, but this was a hookah bar, where the group was sharing smoke from a fruit mixture known as shisha burning over charcoal in a water pipe. Sahara East's days may be numbered. It is one of 13 hookah bars that the city has targeted for closure after the city health department said an undercover investigation found the shisha they served contained tobacco.


Roald Dahl --author of such books as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach and Matilda -- lost his eldest daughter, Olivia, to measles in 1962. Twenty-six years later, he penned a cogent and gut-wrenching plea to parents, urging them have their children vaccinated against the disease. Dahl begins, "Olivia, my eldest daughter, caught measles when she was seven years old. As the illness took its usual course I can remember reading to her often in bed and not feeling particularly alarmed about it. Then one morning, when she was well on the road to recovery, I was sitting on her bed showing her how to fashion little animals out of colored pipe-cleaners, and when it came to her turn to make one herself, I noticed that her fingers and her mind were not working together and she couldn't do anything." read more


Saturday, January 31, 2015

John B. Geer stood with his hands on top of the storm door of his Springfield townhouse and calmly said to four Fairfax County police officers with guns pointed right at him: "I don't want anybody to get shot ... And I don't wanna get shot, 'cause I don't want to die today." But as one officer tried to ease Geer through the [August 2013] standoff, another, Officer Adam D. Torres, shot and killed Geer from 17 feet away, telling investigators he saw Geer move his hands to his waist and thought he might be reaching for a weapon, according to newly released documents from the county. The other three officers, and a lieutenant watching from a distance, said they saw no such thing, the documents show. read more


Former NBA star Oscar Robinson is one of the lead backers of an effort to get a measure on the ballot to amend the Ohio state constitution to legalize marijuana for people 21 and over. "It's a terrible feeling when you can't help someone suffering from cancer or another debilitating medical condition -- I know from personal experience," said Robertson, who has suffered from prostate cancer. The group will need 305,591 signatures by July to get the measure on the November ballot.


Zach Beauchamp, Vox: Predominantly, Muslim countries average 2.4 murders per annum per 100,000 people, compared to 7.5 in non-Muslim countries. The percentage of the society that is made up of Muslims is an extraordinarily good predictor of a country's murder rate. According to UC-Berkeley Professor M. Steven Fish, that judging by murder rates, people in Muslim-majority countries actually tend to be significantly less violent. ... There are over a billion believing Muslims globally; if their religion were intrinsically prone to violence, the data would bear that out. In fact, it does nothing of the sort. read more


Colorado's marijuana experiment was designed to raise revenue for the state and its schools, but a state law may put some of the tax money directly into residents' pockets, causing quite a headache for lawmakers. The state constitution limits how much tax money the state can take in before it has to give some back. That means Coloradans may each get their own cut of the $50 million in recreational pot taxes collected in the first year of legal weed. It's a situation so bizarre that it's gotten Republicans and Democrats, for once, to agree on a tax issue.


A story in the Washington Post reveals for the first time how the CIA helped Israel's Mossad kill Imad Mughniyah, Hezbollah's international operations chief, with a car bomb as he walked on a Damascus, Syria, street in 2008: "The United States has never acknowledged participation in the killing of Mughniyah, which Hezbollah blamed on Israel. Until now, there has been little detail about the joint operation by the CIA and Mossad to kill him, how the car bombing was planned or the exact U.S. role. With the exception of the 2011 killing of Osama bin Laden, the mission marked one of the most high-risk covert actions by the United States in recent years." read more


London Mayor Boris Johnson on people who travel to join ISIS: "If you look at all the psychological profiling about bombers, they typically will look at porn. They are literally wankers. Severe onanists. ... They are not making it with girls and so they turn to other forms of spiritual comfort -- which of course is no comfort. They are just young men in desperate need of self-esteem who do not have a particular mission in life, who feel that they are losers and this thing makes them feel strong -- like winners."


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