Nice Try: Transgender Woman’s Story About Harassment At North Carolina Bathroom Seems To Be A Lie

Oh, here we go again. It’s another story of harassment against the LGBT community that appears to be a tall tale. Transwoman Alexis Adams said she was “humiliated beyond belief” when security guards escorted her out of the Transit Center in Durham, North Carolina. Her offense: using the woman’s bathroom and taking a selfie. Yet, security camera footage showed something very different (via Fox8):

“I couldn’t think. I couldn’t speak. I was speechless,” she said. “It was embarrassing. I was outed in front of everybody.”

The Durham woman said she wanted to make a statement by going into a woman’s restroom and snapping a selfie in the mirror.

She said a custodian confronted her when she came out of the stall and she was escorted out.

The city of Durham owns the Transit Center and recently released surveillance footage of the alleged incident after the original story was aired.

Adams can be seen in the video entering the public bathroom alone. About four minutes later, a custodian enters. Shortly later, Adams can be seen leaving the restroom by herself.

That’s not exactly being escorted out by security, Ms. Adams. When confronted with the footage by Fox8, there was prolonged silence followed by Adams saying, “You had to be there to witness it.” Without a doubt, the LGBT community faces harassment and discrimination, but this story appears to be a hoax. Did Adams not know that there were surveillance video cameras on the premises? Moreover, stories like these make it harder for actual victims of discrimination to come forward.

As Christine wrote, in Austin, Texas, a gay pastor alleged that a Whole Foods baker wrote an anti-gay slur on his cake. As it turns out, the whole episode was a giant lie. First of all, the baker who handled the cake is also part of the LGBT community, so major fail there. Mollie Hemingway of The Federalist broke down this hoax, listing rules for the precious cupcake brigade when it comes to manufacturing a hoax. Rule number one was picking a believable villain.

For Adams, saying “you had to be there” doesn’t cut it. Either security escorted you out, or they didn’t. From the footage, it appears this never happened.

WSJ: Hillary Has Some 'Explaining to Do' in Coal Country

Remember when Hillary Clinton proudly claimed she would put coal miners and coal companies "out of business?" She may have hoped those comments would not be a factor in the West Virginia and Kentucky primaries, but now that the primary schedule has brought her to coal country, it's all too clear that voters have not forgotten her controversial pledge. 

Soon after Clinton made the remarks at a CNN town hall in March, she walked them back, knowing they may come back to bite her in the Appalachia. In a letter to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), she admitted she made a mistake and insisted she had coal miners' backs.

That apparently did little to convince West Virginians. Recently, officials told Manchin the Clintons were "not welcome" in their town and Bill Clinton, who did manage to enter the state, received an icy reception from protesters who interrupted his speech over the weekend. 

As the Wall Street Journal notes, she has some explaining to do

Will Hillary's coal comments jeopardize her chances in West Virginia and Kentucky? Will it matter?

Update: Hillary was also confronted at a campaign stop on Monday by a laid off coal industry worker who asked her how she could dare ask for their friendship. In her response, Clinton insisted her remarks were "taken out of context."

The Republican National Committee released the following statement from spokesman Michael Short, who says that Clinton cannot have it both ways on an issue important to Appalachia voters.

“If Hillary Clinton really stood with coal country she’d be calling on the Obama EPA to stop taking a wrecking ball to their way of life," Short said. "Given her steadfast support for Obama’s War on Coal, her promise to ‘put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business’ may have been one of the few honest moments she’s had this entire campaign.” 

Ben Shapiro: Donald Trump is a Liar and He's Lying to You

Is Donald Trump a liar? Yes. Ben Shapiro has all the details surrounding what he's lying about and who he's lying to. 

Poll: Ohioans Want Kasich To Leave The 2016 Race

A new poll shows that nearly half of Ohio voters think that their governor, John Kasich, should drop out of the 2016 election. Curiously, more Ohio Republicans want Kasich to drop out than Ohio Democrats. Reasons for wanting him to drop out include concerns that he's neglecting his gubernatorial duties and that he's wasting taxpayer money.

PPP's newest Ohio poll finds voters in the state are getting sick of John Kasich's Presidential campaign. Only 38% think he should stay in the race, compared to 49% who think it's time for him to drop out. Those numbers have shifted substantially from early March when 52% of voters wanted him to continue on in the race and just 34% thought he should drop out. And the numbers for Kasich when it comes to dropping out are actually even worse for him with Republicans than they are with Democrats- 58% of GOP voters in Ohio think it's time for him to let it go, compared to only 33% who think he should stay in.

Kasich has only won his home state of Ohio, but came in second in four of the last five primary contests. He has 153 delegates, which is fewer than the 167 won by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who dropped out of the race in March.

Is it time for Kasich to pack it in? Or should he hold out and try to win an improbable victory in Cleveland?

Ouch: Pro-Abortion Emily's List Just Lost a Bunch of Elections

As the country becomes increasingly pro-life, with America's largest generation of Millennials leading the way, the extreme pro-abortion movement is suffering and failing to resonate with voters on election day. 

Last week, the pro-abortion lobbying group EMILY's List got crushed in a series of primaries, prompting supporters to question their strategy moving forward. More from Roll Call

Katie McGinty won Pennsylvania’s Senate Democratic primary last week thanks in part to a major investment from EMILY’s List, which spent nearly $2 million to help her overcome a difficult opponent.

It was the only good news on an otherwise dreadful night for EMILY's List which backs Democratic women who support abortion rights — the group also lost a quartet of races that has Democratic strategists questioning if its political operation requires a strategic reassessment.

Its most high-profile defeat was in the Maryland Senate Democratic primary, where an astounding nearly $3 million spending binge couldn’t prevent Rep. Donna Edwards from falling to fellow Rep. Chris Van Hollen by about 15 points.

But Edwards's defeat wasn’t the only stinging shortfall: Three other House candidates who had been endorsed by EMILY’s List also failed to win nominations in their Democratic primary races. In each case, the endorsed candidate lost badly.

The majority of Americans, including women, believe late-term abortion should be illegal. EMILY's List candidates, including presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, refuse to detail what, if any, restrictions should be placed on abortions.

Back in 2012 NARAL President Nancy Keenan resigned and lamented about a lack of young pro-abortion leaders to fuel the movement. As the country changes, the abortion movement is suffering from a lack of activists and a lack of single issue, abortion voters.

ICYMI: Criminal Justice Reform Nabs Four More Republican Sponsors

While the news cycle has been dominated by 2016 election politics, especially the antics of Donald Trump, there’s a critical battle on the Hill that seeks to create a fairer criminal justice system, which currently bleeds taxpayers $80 billion a year. Recently, the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015 has been subject to discussion among lawmakers, which garnered support from four additional Republican senators­–Thad Cochran (R-MS), Steve Daines (R-MT), Mark Kirk (R-IL), and Dan Sullivan (R-AK)­–last week.

Holly Harris, executive director of the U.S. Justice Action Network, commented on this development, saying:

American taxpayers are spending too much money locking up too many people for far too long – and we aren’t getting the public safety return we deserve. On behalf of our eight partner organizations representing conservative and progressive views, we applaud Chairman Chuck Grassley and Ranking Member Patrick Leahy and the bipartisan group of Senators who have worked so hard on legislation that safely reduces the federal prison population and makes our justice system fairer and more effective. We urge the full Senate to bring this legislation to a vote.”

Even veterans groups are starting to get behind the effort. On April 14, Dan Caldwell, Vice President for Political & Legislative Action with Concerned Veterans for America met with Sen. John Thune (R-SD), Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), and Sen. John Boozman (R-MO). Caldwell also a drafted a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), urging the chamber to move “swiftly” on this bill, especially since the bill includes a provision that would assist veterans released from federal prison.

There has been resistance to this effort from the left and right. During the American Conservative Union’s Conservative Political Action Conference in March, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, a Democrat, viewed this as a “Trojan horse” effort that will do nothing but shift costs from the federal level to the state and local municipalities. He also said that there is no such thing as a nonviolent drug offender, and added that statistics don’t mean much to the parent who’s trying to do everything they can to keep their kid safe and alive, while the drug dealer is on the street corner every day. Taking that element off the street is a big deal to those people. That’s a fair point. Things are viewed differently at the street level, but let’s not disregard facts and statistics. You simply can’t in any serious conversation on policy.

At the conference, Townhall ran into Derek Cohen, Deputy Director for the Texas-based Right On Crime, and Joe Luppino-Esposito, a policy analyst with the organization, where they noted that a lot of the rhetoric against criminal justice reform deals with some folks “unable to see the forest for the trees.” Esposito added that there is an argument that taking the low-level drug dealer off the streets might create an aura of safety, but the replacement for that dealer will be on the streets before he (or she) could be processed by authorities. It’s an expensive whack-a-mole game that doesn’t tackle who is really the source of the problem regarding drug trafficking: the kingpins.

Cohen also mentioned that back in the 1980s, we had a spike in violent crime, drug use, and trafficking, though criminology and policy discussions relating to the subject was in its infancy. There were no abstract concepts. Looking back, everyone agrees that the various tough on crime measures did reduce crime by 20 percent—but the question is what accounts for the remaining 80 percent.

Esposito said that it’s here where Clarke’s “we don’t need to be smart on crime, we want to be serious on crime” starts to look like nothing but a good slogan because it’s hard to take someone seriously when you shut yourself off from the facts, and the facts are there. He added that it would make a lot for sense to look at the 40 states that have initiated criminal justice reforms that Right on Crime has advocated to do something serious about crime, incarceration, and the costs associated with both.

Jason Pye, an ally in the criminal justice reform fight and communications director for FreedomWorks, said at the time:

Speaking for FreedomWorks I appreciate David Clarke’s service; I’m sure he means well, but what we know is that the policies of the last three decades have increased the number of prisoners, what we call mass incarceration. We have 2 million people in prison across the country that stay in federal and local jails…we know it costs $80 billion a year. What we’ve seen at state levels, states like Texas and Georgia, they implemented sentencing reforms and corrections reforms that reduced the cost.

Pye added that Texas saved $3 billion over roughly a ten-year period. Georgia started in 2011, and they saved $265 million. These are real savings that could be invested elsewhere. Recidivism rates have dropped–nine points in Texas alone–due to work training, education, and giving them the ability to be productive citizens.

Concerning Clarke’s remarks about statistics not mattering to parents at the street level, Pye said that people in that camp are just making emotional appeals. The argument is that we want our communities to be safe, but what we have seen in Texas (after their 2007 reforms) are crime rates dropping to their lowest levels since 1968.

He also mentioned cases, like Weldon Angelos, who is serving a 55-year jail sentence without the possibility of parole for dealing $1,000 worth of marijuana in three separate police stings, while also possessing a firearm. Yes, Angelos broke the law and deserved to go to prison, but as a first-time offender, did he deserve what’s pretty much a death sentence? When he is released, he’ll be around 80 years old. Even the judge who sentenced him feels the punishment is outrageous (via ABC News):

As a result, Angelos may not live long enough to experience freedom again. His case has haunted the federal judge that put him there.

"I do think about Angelos,” said Paul Cassell, a now-retired federal judge in the Utah circuit. “I sometimes drive near the prison where he’s held, and I think, ‘Gosh he shouldn’t be there. Certainly not as long as I had to send him there. ... That wasn’t the right thing to do. The system forced me to do it.”

[…]

Paul Cassell, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, now teaches law at the University of Utah. But he says the Angelos case still weighs on him, which is the reason he agreed to speak to “Nightline” about his ruling, something federal judges rarely do.

When Cassell delivered his ruling in the Angelos case, he was quick to point out how severe the sentence seemed compared to other, violent crimes.

“If he had been an aircraft hijacker, he would have gotten 24 years in prison. If he’s been a terrorist, he would have gotten 20 years in prison. If he was a child rapist, he would have gotten 11 years in prison. And now I’m supposed to give him a 55-year sentence? I mean, that’s just not right,”

And circling back to the costs, the taxpayers are set to eat a $1.5 million bill for keeping Angelos a guest of the government.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) signaled at the beginning of this year that he will lead the charge against criminal justice reform on Capitol Hill, with Pye commenting that maybe he should consult with his own governor, Asa Hutchinson, who backs such overhauls in our system. He also said that one only has look at Mississippi, Texas, Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina - all Republican states that have initiated criminal justice reforms, to see that they’ve reaped public safety dividends.

Keep in mind, no one is advocating that people convicted of drug offenses should be set free or get no jail time, but when the length of prison time for a first-time drug offender exceeds that of a terrorist or a child rapist, there’s something inherently unfair and unjust about that sentence. Moreover, it’s a waste of the taxpayers’ money.

Religious Freedom Around The World Further Declines

Just as press freedom around the world has been steadily declining in recent years, religious freedom is also under attack. 

“By any measure, religious freedom abroad has been under serious and sustained assault since the release of our commission’s last Annual Report in 2015.   From the plight of new and longstanding prisoners of conscience, to the dramatic rise in the numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons, to the continued acts of bigotry against Jews and Muslims in Europe, and to the other abuses detailed in this report, there was no shortage of attendant suffering worldwide," a new report issued by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom states.  "[These] are crises in their own right which cry out for continued action on the part of the international community, including the United States.   To be effective, such action must recognize the unmistakable fact that religious freedom is a common thread in each of these challenges, and deserves a seat at the table when nations discuss humanitarian, security, and other pressing issues.  The United States and other countries must fully accord this right the respect it deserves and redouble their efforts to defend this pivotal liberty worldwide."

The report suggests the State Department add Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Syrian and number of other countries to its list of "countries of particular concern."

"ISIL threatens the region, Iraq’s stability, and human rights and religious freedom for all Iraqis. ISIL’s violent religious and political ideology allows for no space for religious diversity or freedom of thought or expression," the report states. "The group has deliberately expelled minority communities from their historic homelands, forced them to convert to ISIL’s version of Islam, raped and enslaved women and children, and tortured and killed community members, including by stoning, electrocution, and beheading. ISIL has targeted all of Iraq’s smallest religious minority communities; its ongoing actions could well mark the end of ancient religious communities in northern Iraq."

In March, Secretary of State John Kerry officially declared ISIS is carrying out genocide against Christians and other minority groups in Libya, Syria and Iraq.

You can read the entire report here.

Watch: Trump Supporter Calls Cruz "Lyin' Ted" To His Face

A small altercation took place on Monday between a Donald Trump supporter and Ted Cruz that may be a small representation of this year's entire primary race.  

Ted Cruz, the valiant conservative, tried and tried to inform the Trump supporter of his efforts in Washington, D.C. to topple the big-government machine.  

Time and time again, the Trump supporter was not having it and called Cruz "lyin' Ted" repeatedly.  

This is but a small dose of the mood in America.  

Watch:

Pakistani Interior Minister Not Happy with Trump's Prisoner Comments

In a recent interview on Fox News, Republican frontrunner Donald Trump said that if elected he would free Shakeel Afridi, a man widely credited for tracking down Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan.  

Trump said he would get Pakistan to free Afridi "in two minutes," saying that Islamabad receives massive amounts of aid from the United States.

“I think I would get him out in two minutes. I would tell them [Pakistan] let him out and I’m sure they would let him out,” he said.

"Contrary to Mr. Trump's misconception, Pakistan is not a colony of the United States of America," Pakistani Interior Minister Cheudhry Nisar said in a statement on Monday.

“Shakeel Afridi is a Pakistani citizen and nobody else holds the right to dictate to us about his future,” he affirmed.

These statements come on the fifth anniversary of the killing of Bin Laden.

Afridi has been accused in Pakistan of running a fake vaccination campaign in which he purportedly collected DNA samples to help the CIA track down Bin Laden. 

Obama Administration Moves Forward With Stripping Gun Rights Through Social Security

Late last week President Obama announced a new push for additional federal "smart" gun technology funding. After grabbing headlines and much attention, the move received praise from gun control groups like Michael Bloomberg's Everytown and criticism from law enforcement, the NRA and the National Shooting Sports Foundation. 

But an issue flying under the radar in Obama's announcement is the Administration's decision to move forward with gun control measures through the Social Security system. Late last year it became clear if an individuals needs financial help managing Social Security benefits, the agency can deem that person mentally unfit to purchase a firearm. This policy is already in place at the Veteran's Administration, where people who have been assigned a "representative payee" have been permanently placed into the NICS background check system as ineligible to purchase a firearm without due process, a hearing or a trial. As background from the LA Times, bolding is mine:

Seeking tighter controls over firearm purchases, the Obama administration is pushing to ban Social Security beneficiaries from owning guns if they lack the mental capacity to manage their own affairs, a move that could affect millions whose monthly disability payments are handled by others.

The push is intended to bring the Social Security Administration in line with laws regulating who gets reported to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, which is used to prevent gun sales to felons, drug addicts, immigrants in the country illegally and others.

A potentially large group within Social Security are people who, in the language of federal gun laws, are unable to manage their own affairs due to "marked subnormal intelligence, or mental illness, incompetency, condition, or disease."

There is no simple way to identify that group, but a strategy used by the Department of Veterans Affairs since the creation of the background check system is reporting anyone who has been declared incompetent to manage pension or disability payments and assigned a fiduciary.

If Social Security, which has never participated in the background check system, uses the same standard as the VA, millions of its beneficiaries would be affected. About 4.2 million adults receive monthly benefits that are managed by "representative payees."

The move is part of a concerted effort by the Obama administration after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., to strengthen gun control, including by plugging holes in the background check system.

Last week, the Obama administration reiterated plans to push for policies in the Social Security Administration to place those who need a representative payee into the NICS no-buy background check system, stripping their Second Amendment rights without due process.

The Obama administration also posted online Friday a proposed regulation from the Social Security Administration that officials believe could help keep guns out of the hands of people who are not allowed to own a firearm because of mental illness.

A summary of the draft proposal said the Social Security Administration would identify people who receive disability payments because of mental impairment or because they are not competent to handle their own affairs, and would provide information on them to the Justice Department four times a year to include in the F.B.I.’s gun-purchase review system. The Social Security Administration would also notify those people — thought to total about 75,000 — that they are banned from buying or possessing a firearm under federal law.

Needing help to manage one's finances is not mental illness, despite the White House classifying it as such.

The use of the Social Security system to strip elderly persons of their Second Amendment rights when they apply for financial management help is alarming and legislation has been introduced to stop it. 

The Social Security Beneficiary 2nd Amendment Rights Protection Act, sponsored by Texas Congressman Sam Johnson, would prevent the agency from placing those who need financial help into the gun background check system. The legislation is waiting for a vote in Congress. 

In the meantime, the Obama administration is using federal agencies to implement unfair, unconstitutional policies that take away the Second Amendment rights of tens-of-thousands of Social Security recipients. 

North Korea Just Temporarily Banned Weddings, Funerals, And Leaving Pyongyang

Kim Jong-Un has banned weddings, funerals, and free travel out of the capital city for the duration of the Worker's Party of Korea's gathering. The last gathering took place in 1980, and the banning of special personal events is to prevent any "mishaps" from happening that could disrupt the event.

The Worker's Party of Korea is North Korea's ruling party.

Weddings and funerals have been banned and Pyongyang is in lockdown as preparations for a once-in-a-generation party congress get underway in North Korea.

The ruling Worker’s Party of Korea, headed by the country's leader, Kim Jong-un, is due to stage the first gathering of its kind for 36 years on Friday.

Free movement in and out of the capital has also been forbidden and there has been an increase in inspections and property searches, according to Daily NK, which claims to have sources in the country.

The temporary measures are said to be an attempt to minimise the risk of “mishaps” at the event, according to Cheong Joon-hee, a spokesman at South Korea’s Unification Ministry.

This is disgusting, and so, so sad for the people of North Korea. A person should have the freedom to get married or remember a loved one on any day they wish--not just a day the government says it's permissible.

Situations like these are partly why I get so upset when politicians try to claim that there's somehow a better situation in North Korea than in the United States. North Koreans have no freedom whatsoever, and it doesn't seem likely that anything is going to change any time soon.

2016 RACE ROUNDUP: Inconsistent Polling and Big Stakes Produce a Fascinating Indiana Contest

Inconsistent polling out of Indiana indicates that Tuesday will be anyone’s primary to win or lose. Some polls show Donald Trump cruising to a comfortable win, while others have Ted Cruz as the clear victor. The stakes are high in the Hoosier State for the first time in 40 years. A little over 24 hours from now, could we have a Republican nominee? A win for Hillary Clinton in Indiana could convince Democrats that Bernie Sanders' momentum has stalled indefinitely, but she has a harder road ahead as she enters coal country thanks to her anti-coal comments in March.

Republican Primary

Donald Trump: “If we win Indiana, it’s over,” Trump said at a campaign stop this week. The businessman is leading by 15 points in the Hoosier State over Cruz, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. Another poll the businessman is likely to reference in his speeches is this Rasmussen Reports survey that shows him beating Hillary Clinton by two points nationally. Trump is urging the Republican Party to unite behind him so he can start focusing on the presumptive Democratic nominee. He has already hinted on how he’ll challenge Clinton’s credentials, accusing her of using the “women’s card” to gain votes. “If she were not a woman, she wouldn't even be in this race," Trump said. 

Ted Cruz: Cruz has plenty of endorsements heading into Indiana on Tuesday, but does he have the votes? The Texas senator received the support of 50 state clergy and faith leaders, who say he stands for family principles, not political expediency. His campaign released a few ads highlighting Gov. Mike Pence’s endorsement, including “Pence for Cruz,” which highlights Gov. Mike Pence saying he’ll vote for Cruz because the Texas senator is pursuing the “Reagan agenda.” Cruz is also reminding voters he has the governor’s support in a radio ad. A Club for Growth Action ad, meanwhile, called “Imagine,” is telling voters that Cruz is the only candidate who can plausibly repeal Obamacare. He hasn’t forgotten about his foe Donald Trump, however. The Cruz campaign just released an ad called “Lying,” accusing the businessman of lying about Cruz’s record. The senator won a majority of delegates at the Virginia GOP convention this weekend.

John Kasich: Kasich’s own state of Ohio wants him to drop out of the 2016 race. Like Cruz, the Ohio governor has no mathematical path to the nomination, but he is banking on the RNC to declare him victor at a contested convention. During a campaign stop this weekend, Kasich again condemned Trump’s policy to deport 4 million illegal immigrants. Republicans, Kasich said, will not win the general election by “scaring every Hispanic in this country to death.”

Democratic Primary

Hillary Clinton: Clinton is hoping that her pledge to put coal companies "out of business" in March is long forgotten as the 2016 primary enters coal country. Unfortunately, those scars haven't healed. Activists interrupted Bill Clinton during his speech this weekend in West Virginia, while officials in another town wrote a letter to Sen. Joe Manchin insisting the Clintons and their anti-coal agenda were "not welcome." The Wall Street Journal also weighed in on Clinton's controversial coal remarks, writing that she has some "explaining to do" before she attempts to win over voters in the region. There is some good news for Hillary on the financial front, however. For the first time in 2016, Clinton has outraised Sanders in donations. Clinton’s April totals amounted to $36 million. Clinton is averaging about 7 points higher than Bernie Sanders in Indiana.

Bernie Sanders: Sanders can force Hillary to a contested convention, pundits argue. Yet, his underdog status may be too much to overcome, at least as far as the delegates are concerned. Can momentum be enough to propel him to the nomination? His donations fell steeply from March. Sanders’ donation totals fell steeply from $44 million in March to $25.8 million in April. Judging by Sanders’ rhetoric, though, he and his team are not letting these numbers stop them. Sanders’ wife, Jane, has been making media rounds defending her husband and even telling the FBI to hurry up already with its investigation into Hillary’s emails. 

Delegate Count

Republicans

Trump - 996

Cruz - 565

Kasich - 153

Democrats

Clinton - Pledged delegates: 1,645; Super delegates: 520

Sanders - Pledged delegates: 1,318; Super delegates: 39

Primary Schedule

Tuesday - D/R Indiana primaries

Puerto Rico to Default on Debt Payments, Begs Congress for Help

Puerto Rico’s economic troubles continue, as the island will default on $422 million in debt payments Monday by close of business.

“Faced with the inability to meet the demands of our creditors and the needs of our people, I had to make a choice,” Gov. Alejandro García Padilla said Sunday in a televised address. “I decided that essential services for the 3.5 million American citizens in Puerto Rico came first.”

Monday’s default could ramp up pressure on policymakers in Washington to move forward with legislation that would let the island restructure its debt, as well as establish an outside fiscal control board to monitor its finances.

At the end of 2015, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) set a March 31 deadline for action to address Puerto Rico’s debt crisis. That deadline slipped, and lawmakers are now on a weeklong recess with no bill as Puerto Rico suffers its largest default yet.

Attention now will turn to July 1 as the next potential deadline for action. On that date, the island is supposed to make roughly $2 billion in debt payments, and experts do not believe those payments will be made.

Padilla went on to blame Congress, saying he’s been warning Washington for close to a year now about the island’s financial situation.

“In our efforts to avoid a humanitarian crisis, we have repeatedly traveled to Washington to convey the urgency of the situation,” he said.

He also called on House lawmakers to get over the “internal partisan and ideological divisions” and move forward with the issue, singling out Speaker Paul Ryan to “exercise his leadership.”

The House Natural Resources Committee is still working on crafting a relief bill after progress on the measure stalled back in April.

García Padilla also reserved some scorn for investors in Puerto Rican debt that have lobbied hard against any legislation that would allow the island to restructure its debts.

Many lawmakers were spooked after the Center for Individual Freedom, a dark money group that does not have to disclose its donors, began running ads blasting the bill as a “bailout,” even though no federal money goes to the island under it.

Many believe Puerto Rican investors opposed to any deal helped finance the ads, and García Padilla said “pure greed” by “vulture funds and their lobbyists” was behind efforts to defeat the bill.

In closing, Padilla hailed its citizens’ commitment to America, noting the sacrifice many Puerto Ricans have made fighting in U.S. military conflicts.

“We have proven with blood our shared values with the United States. Now, Congress must show this commitment is mutual,” he said.

ESPN Edits Curt Schilling Out Of Documentary On Red Sox/Yankees Rivalry

ESPN has edited out footage from Curt Schilling's "bloody sock" game in the 30 for 30 documentary Four Days in October. The documentary now skips from game five to game seven, completely omitting any mention of Schilling's performance. Schilling was recently fired by ESPN.

Apparently Schilling also thinks that ESPN counts among the reasons why Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had his four-game suspension reinstated by a federal court. But what set him off Sunday was hearing that the evening’s telecast of “Four Days in October,” ESPN’s 2010 documentary about Boston’s stunning comeback from a 3-0 deficit against New York to reach, and eventually win, the World Series, was missing his crucial Game 6 performance.

[...]

The recounting of that performance, and Game 6 in general (including Alez Rodriguez knocking a ball out of reliever Bronson Arroyo’s glove), takes up about 17 minutes of the original version of the hour-and-five-minute-long documentary. ESPN apparently wanted to trim “Four Days in October,” which aired on ESPN2 after an Arizona-Oregon softball game and was likely timed to precede a live Red Sox-Yankees telecast on the main channel, down to fit into an hour-long time slot, with commercials.

While ESPN claims that the segment featuring Schilling was edited for time reasons, this seems a little suspect. (Full disclosure: despite her New England upbringing, this author is actually a fan of the New York Yankees.) The bloody sock game was a huge deal and it was a major turning point in the series. It doesn't make any sense to omit that from a documentary about the rivalry and that season.

Schilling, to his credit, had jokes:

So what do you think? Is ESPN "whitewashing history?"

SCOTUS Denies Local Seattle Franchises’ Challenge to Minimum Wage Law

In a blow to Seattle businesses, the Supreme Court has rejected a challenge to the state’s controversial $15/hour minimum wage law. The law, which went into effect in April 2015, demands that a business franchise of 500 employees or more honor the minimum wage hike. It was the first state in the nation to make such a wage jump.

At the time of the law’s passage, IFA President and CEO Steve Caldeira called it discriminatory.

“Hundreds of small, locally-owned businesses and thousands of their employees are unfairly threatened by Seattle’s new law. We are not seeking special treatment for franchisees, we are just seeking equal treatment. The city’s minimum wage statute arbitrarily and illegally discriminates against franchisees and significantly increases their labor costs in ways that will harm their businesses, employees, consumers and Seattle’s economy,” said Steve Caldeira, IFA president & CEO. “We hope the court will block the ordinance to save jobs and prevent Seattle from unfairly singling out one type of business – a franchise – for punitive treatment.”

In International Franchise Association v. City of Seattle, local franchises argued the law would place a heavy burden on local businesses, placing them in the same boat as larger companies like McDonald’s, instead of allowing them to continue operating as independent entities. Union officials pushed back, arguing franchisees enjoy special advantages that aren’t offered to other businesses. Luckily for the "Fight for 15" crowd, the hike doesn't look like it's going anywhere after SCOTUS put the case to a halt. 

Seattle is also reeling from May Day protests, where angry pro-unionists carried Molotov cocktails, bricks and other weapons to “peacefully” demonstrate on behalf of workers’ rights. 

Trump Tops Clinton In New Poll

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of likely U.S. voters finds Donald Trump with 41 percent ahead of Hillary Clinton’s 39 percent. Fifteen percent prefer some other candidate, and five percent are undecided.

Among voters not affiliated with either major party, Trump leads 37 percent to 31 percent.  

The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on April 27-28 with a margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence.  The poll also found that 89 percent of Republicans see Trump as the presumptive nominee.

Expect to see more polls change over the next few weeks as the presidential campaign 'resets' and transitions from primary to general election mode.

 

Mrs. Sanders Wants FBI to Speed Up its Hillary Investigation

The Sanders campaign has left its “damn email” days far behind them. When Bernie Sanders told the media to stop talking about Hillary Clinton’s “damn emails” at an early Democratic presidential debate, everyone thought he had missed a prime opportunity to strike her Achilles heel. Instead, he seemingly gave her a pass on one of her biggest scandals. Now, months later, as he has proven to be a worthy competitor, Sanders and his team may have altered their strategy and decided the FBI investigation is kind of a big deal after all.

During an appearance on Fox Business last week, Jane Sanders told Neil Cavuto she and her husband want the FBI probe to proceed sans politics, yet also noted she wants it to speed up.

“It would be nice if the FBI moved it along,” she said.

Clinton has suggested there’s nothing to see here in regards to her emails and has rolled her eyes at any questions about them. Yet, anyone with knowledge about national security knows that it was jeopardized when the former secretary of state handled classified information on an unsecure private server. It was unprecedented in State Department history, the DNC chairwoman even admitted.

The Sanders have indicated they are not going to sit idly by and watch the Democratic nomination be handed to Hillary, the party’s “anointed” candidate. The Vermont senator has challenged her to release her Wall Street transcripts and has exposed her waffling on the minimum wage. Thanks to his new offensive tactics, Clinton has been booed at just about every Sanders rally as of late.

Sanders’ only problem? Those pesky superdelegates

NBC/WSJ Poll: Trump Running Away with Indiana


On Friday, we expressed skepticism over a new poll showing Ted Cruz leading Donald Trump by 16 points in the Hoosier State, the only public survey showing the Texan ahead. Yesterday, a fresh NBC/WSJ/Marist poll found nearly the exact opposite result, with the controversial billionaire up by double digits. Trump's RCP average lead has swelled to more than four points; he appears to be on the verge of defeating Cruz in what virtually everyone agrees is a must-win state for the conservative Senator's campaign:


On Megyn Kelly's show Friday evening, I concluded that if Cruz loses Indiana tomorrow, that would basically be "all she wrote" for the GOP primary. Even if that new poll is off by ten points, this race will effectively end when the Indiana victor is declared tomorrow evening -- though Cruz would likely fight all the way through June 7.  The Cruz campaign is out with a new television ad in the state, casting Trump and Clinton as 'two sides of the same coin' and a pair of 'big government liberals:'


Trump does support raising taxes, and has recently attacked conservative leaders for refusing to do so.  He has also supported sweeping gun control legislation in the past, part and parcel of his long history of holding lefty views on virtually every issue.  He was -- and remains to this day -- a Statist, who openly  doesn't care about conservatism or the principle of limiting the scope and power of government.  Cruz's ad may be most off-base on the transgender bathroom issue, about which the Senator has been dinged by fact-checkers over his characterizations of that kerfuffle.  Trump has adopted more of a 'who cares, is this really a problem in need of a law?' approach, echoing Charles Krauthammer and others.  Incidentally, the same poll finds the Mitch McConnell and Chamber of Commerce-backed candidate holding a commanding lead over a conservative challenger.  Much of the moderate 'establishment' also backs Trump, who is deeply tied to the current status quo system.  They're winning.

General Mattis: Count Me Out For 2016

Retired General James Mattis will not be launching an independent bid for the White House. Mattis had been urged by a variety of conservative figures to consider running for president as an alternative candidate.

Two allies of Mr. Mattis sent emails to associates on Friday notifying them that the retired general had closed the door on a campaign. William Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard magazine, said Mr. Mattis had decided “after much consideration” not to proceed.

“The thoughtfulness and patriotism — and for that matter, the modesty — Jim showed as he reflected on this decision make me more convinced than ever that he would have made a truly admirable president, and also a good candidate,” Mr. Kristol wrote. “But it’s not to be. So we won’t have a President Mattis.”

Joel Searby, a Republican strategist involved in laying the groundwork for a potential Mattis campaign, wrote in a separate email that Mr. Mattis had “decided definitively not to pursue a run for president.”

While it was incredibly unlikely that a third-party campaign for president could be successful, Mattis' potential candidacy was intriguing. Alas, it's just not meant to be.

WATCH: The Biggest Gaffes, Most Awkward Moments of Obama's Presidency

Before handing President Obama the mic to speak at his last White House Correspondents’ Dinner on Saturday, the press made a tribute of sorts to the 44th president of the United States.

In a video that began with some of Obama’s more serious accomplishments as POTUS, it then took a comedic turn when CBS' Major Garrett, who narrated the video, said "it hasn't all been a smooth ride."

That’s right—the video below highlights Obama’s most awkward moments and biggest gaffes during his presidency.

Enjoy: 

Indiana Primary Preview

On May 3, residents of the Hoosier State will head to the polls in what is a surprisingly important primary. Ohio Gov. John Kasich has ceded the state to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in their pact, but frontrunner Donald Trump is still doing fairly well in the polls.


Who is voting?

Both Republicans and Democrats are voting on Tuesday in open primaries. A person does not have to be a registered member of a party to vote in the primary.

When are the polls open?

Polls will be open from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., local time.

Where do I go to vote?

Click here.

What are the polls looking like?

All over the place, but Trump has a double-digit lead in the latest NBC/WSJ/Maraist poll. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton is ahead of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) by about six points on average.

How many delegates are up for grabs?

There are 57 Republican delegates. Thirty of those delegates go to the winner of the state, and the other 27 are divided up by the state's nine congressional districts. There are 92 Democratic delegates.

CIA Director Warns Against Releasing Secret 9/11 Pages, Says They're Full of Inaccuracies

Despite mounting pressure to release 28 classified pages in a 2002 report on the 9/11 attacks, CIA Director John Brennan advised against it on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday.

“This chapter was kept out because of concerns about sensitive sources of methods, investigative actions, and the investigation of 9/11 was still underway in late 2002,” Brennan told host Chuck Todd. “I’m quite puzzled by Sen. Graham and others because what that joint inquiry did was to tee up issues that were followed up on by the 9/11 commission as well as the 9/11 review commission. So these were thoroughly investigated and reviewed. It was a preliminary review that put information in there that was not corroborated, not vetted, and not deemed to be accurate.”

The issue of releasing these pages was stirred again last month when former Sen. Bob Graham said that he believed the 9/11 hijackers had received ‘substantial’ support from the Saudi government and other high ranking members of society.

"There are a lot of rocks out there that have been purposefully tamped down, that if were they turned over, would give us a more expansive view of the Saudi role," Graham told CBS’ ”60 Minutes” at the time.

The pages were classified under former President George W. Bush, who, as Graham stated, was concerned about revealing intelligence sources and methods. The Obama administration said in mid-April that a decision would be made in 60 days about declassifying the pages.

Brennan suggested, however, that doing so could be detrimental to our relationship with Saudi Arabia.

“The 9/11 commission took that joint inquiry and those 28 pages or so and followed through on the investigation,” he said. “And they came out with a very clear judgment that there was no evidence that indicated the Saudi government as an institution or Saudi officials individually had provided financial support to Al Qaeda."

"I think some people may seize upon that uncorroborated, unvetted information in there that was basically just a collation of this information that came out of FBI files, and to point to Saudi involvement, which I think would be very, very inaccurate," he added. 

ICYMI: Louisiana Voters Feel Their Taxes Are Too High, As Budget Battle Continues

At times, it’s your local officials that can turn your home budgets into a puzzling endeavor more than the policy antics emanating from Washington. Local taxes, fees, etc. can reap havoc on local communities, which is why every chance you can vote in local elections you should do it. I know county commissioners races aren’t as exciting as a presidential race, but they matter all the same. In Louisiana, Democrat John Bel Edwards was elected to succeed Republican Bobby Jindal, and he faces a budget deficit that soars into the hundreds of millions. There was the typical tug of war between the governor and the Republican state legislature. You can read about the drama here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. It’s the typical narrative. Both sides know cuts need to be made—it’s a matter of how much and where to cut. Republicans assign budget cuts, the governor vetoes them, and around and around we go. In these matters, increasing of taxes is discussed, especially when a Democrat is at the helm.

In February, Americans for Prosperity-Louisiana asked Harper Polling to conduct a poll on how residents of the Bayou State feel about the rates of taxation. To no one’s surprise, virtually everyone feels the rates are too high, and they pretty much oppose any tax increases to offset the projected $750 million budget shortfall:

A majority of voters in Louisiana say things in the state are “off on the wrong track” (53%) while just 28% say things are “generally headed in the right direction.” Republicans (25%/63%), Democrats (31%/47%) and Independents (24%/53%) all echo this sentiment.

Taxes: Too High or Too Low?

When asked about the amount of state and local taxes they pay now, 93% of Louisiana voters say that amount is either “too high” (46%) or “about right” (47%). Only 5% say the amount of taxes they currently pay is “too low.” Women are more likely than men to consider their taxes to be too high (women: 50%/42%, men: 40%/53%).

[…]

The three proposals which generated the most negative sentiment were the personal income tax increase, the sales tax increase, and the telephone tax increase. The Personal Income Tax increase generates the strongest opposition from Moderates (84%) and Independents (92%) of all the proposals. Younger voters aged 18-29 strongly oppose the personal income tax (80%) and the telephone tax (79%).

A majority of likely voters also oppose “the enforcement of a sales tax on items purchased online” (60%, 32% favor) and the increase in business taxes (59%, 29% favor). “The imposition of hotel taxes on short term rentals such as Airbnb” also generates a net negative response (37%/47%).

The only proposal that is favored by a majority of Louisiana voters is the increase in “Luxury taxes including increases in the tobacco and alcohol taxes” (58%/36%). The intensity gap on this proposal benefits those who favor it (42% strongly favor, 29% strongly oppose).

Nevertheless, some of those tax increases already went into effect on April 1:

Louisiana's sales tax will go up in two major ways starting next Friday. The new laws means the state will likely have the highest average sales tax in the country.

First, an extra penny will be added to the regular 4-cent state sales tax from April 1 through June 30, 2018. Second, some items that had previously been exempted from sales tax will now be subjected to at least some portion of the sales tax through June 30, 2018.

[…]

Smokers will be paying 22 cents more per cigarette pack starting April 1. The new tax will go from 86 cents per pack to $1.08 per pack. People who sell cigarettes will also not be getting as much back for reporting their sales taxes correctly starting next week.

Even with the new tax hike, Louisiana's cigarette levy will still be lower than those in Arkansas and Texas, but higher than the one in Mississippi. The tax is expected to bring in $11 million between April 1 and June 30 as well as $43 million annually in future budget cycles.

[…]

Starting April 1, taxes will go up by one to two cents per serving on all types of alcohol -- beer, wine, liquor and sparkling wine. The new levies are permanent and don't have an expiration date.

[…]

Starting April 1, state hotel taxes will also apply to online booking services such as Airbnb and others offering short-term rentals.

[…]

It's going to cost more to rent a vehicle in Louisiana starting next Friday, though the new law has been written to avoid having the tax apply to Louisiana residents.

A 3 percent tax will be added to most short-term vehicle rentals, but the tax will not apply to vehicles being rented because of an accident or other needed repair. In other words, the tax is aimed at tourists and other visitors renting cars.

Yikes.

China Successfully Tests New Hypersonic Warhead

China successfully completed a seventh flight test of its new hypersonic warhead system last week in the northern central Shanxi province, according to an article on People’s Daily Online.

The test of the developmental "DF-ZF" was monitored after launch Friday atop a ballistic missile fired from the Wuzhai missile launch center in central China, said officials.

The system can travel at speeds between Mach 5 and Mach 10, which is 5 to 10 times the speed of sound.  U.S. intelligence fears that Beijing may use DF-ZF to “deliver nuclear weapons bypassing even the most complex of missile defense systems.”

Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman first confirmed China’s hypersonic missile test in March 2015, saying that the missile test was not aimed at any country and was done for scientific research.

The U.S. Air Force made an attempt a a supersonic delivery system in 2014. The hypersonic vehicle built by Boeing Co. climbed to 60,000 feet, accelerated to Mach 5.1 and flew for about three and a half minutes before running out of fuel and plunging into the Pacific Ocean.

Mark Schneider, a former Pentagon strategic forces specialist, said the new Chinese hypersonic glider is a serious threat.

“The Chinese probably see this as one of their ‘assassin’s mace’ weapons which are designed to defeat the U.S.”

According to Schneider, a National Academy of Science study concluded that hypersonic speed was the equivalent very high levels of radar-evading stealth features against air and missile defenses.

“Hypersonic speed also gets you to the target very fast which may be decisive in dealing with mobile targets,” he said.

Huh? Carly Fiorina Is A ‘Racist’ For Ripping Mike Tyson’s Support Of Trump

Donald Trump has been talking about the need for toughness on the campaign trail and touted his support from former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson.

“You know, all the tough guys endorse me. I like that, OK,” said Trump about Tyson.

Well, Carly Fiorina didn’t sit still for this yesterday, given that Tyson is a convicted rapist (via Politico):

Fiorina, standing beside Cruz as the two took questions from the media in Indianapolis, said she was “interested to see” the endorsement and blasted the real-estate mogul for calling Tyson "tough," referring to when the boxer was convicted of rape in the 1990s, in Indiana, no less.

“Sorry, I don't consider a convicted rapist a tough guy,” Fiorina told reporters. “And I think it says a lot about Donald Trump's campaign and his character that he is standing up and cheering for an endorsement by Mike Tyson.”

Tyson spent three years in prison after he was convicted of raping a beauty pageant contestant in Indiana in 1992.

“But Mike said: ‘I love Trump. I endorse Trump,'" Trump said Wednesday. “And that's the end. I'm sure he doesn't know about your economic situation in Indiana. But when I get endorsed by the tough ones, I like it, because you know what? We need toughness now. We need toughness.”


Apparently, Roger Stone, a Trump supporter, thought that Fiorina’s remarks are somehow racist.

Over a RedState, Strieff provided previous tweets from Stone that were racially charged, while Larry O’Connor at Hot Air noted, “Hoosier don’t forget,” alluding to the fact that Trump touted Tyson at an Indianapolis rally, where Tyson committed his vicious act. O’Connor also included radio host Greg Garrison’s opening monologue from his Thursday broadcast since he was the man who prosecuted Tyson back in the 1990s. He knows something about this incident.

“This was not Trump’s proudest moment and his affiliation with Tyson is hardly something to brag about. So maybe he should stop bragging about it,” O’ Connor wrote.

Trump had said that Tyson was wrongfully convicted of the charge (via Newsbusters):

It’s my opinion that, to a large extent, Mike Tyson was railroaded in this case… You have a young woman that was in his room, in his hotel late in the evening at her own will. You have a young woman who was seen dancing for the beauty contest, dancing with a big smile on her face. Looked happy as can be.

Roger Stone also thinks that Tyson was wrongfully convicted.

Still, I don’t see how this is racist. What Fiorina said was factual—Tyson is a convicted rapist. You can disagree concerning whether the conviction was just or not, but there’s no legitimate reference to race in that view. That debate about whether convictions are just or unjust speaks more about the conduct of those in our justice system. It’s a bizarre line of attack, as there is not a scintilla of race in Fiorina’s remarks, or the Tyson rape case itself; the victim was black. So, I guess we’ll just have to file this one with the other nonsensical incidents derived from Trump and his crew this election cycle.