Thursday, May 7, 2015

Iranian Authorities Release Maersk Tigris

Tensions in the Strait of Hormuz were raised after the cargo ship was seized 

In a statement, the Danish shipping giant said it was “pleased and relieved” to learn that the ship had been freed and that, according to Rickmers Shipmanagement, which managed the vessel, its crew was in good condition.
It said the ship had resumed course to its original destination, the port of Jebel Ali in the United Arab Emirates.
According to Maersk and Rickmers, the Marshall Islands-flagged M/V Maersk Tigris was seized April 28 near the Strait of Hormuz, as it was en route from Jeddah to Jebel Ali. Iranian patrol boats fired warning shots across its bow and directed it to a rendezvous point near the southern Iranian port of Bandar Abbas.
Iranian officials have said the vessel was seized because of a previous court ruling ordering Maersk Line, which charters the ship, to make a payment to settle a dispute with a private Iranian company called Talaieh Pars Oil Products Co.
“The release follows a constructive dialogue with the Iranian authorities, including the Ports and Maritime Organization, and the provision of a letter of undertaking in relation to the underlying cargo case,” Maersk Line said in its statement on Thursday. “We will continue our dialogue with the aim to fully resolve the cargo case.”
The seizure came at a time of heightened tensions in the region. Saudi Arabia, Iran’s main rival for power in the Persian Gulf, is leading an air offensive against Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.
The U.S. and five other world powers are attempting to finalize a deal to limit Iranian nuclear activities, in exchange for an easing of international sanctions against the country.
In response to the Maersk Tigris’s seizure, the U.S. military began providing escorts for American-and British-flagged vessels passing through the 21-mile-wide Strait of Hormuz, the Persian Gulf outlet through which flow about 30% of the world’s seaborne oil shipments. On Wednesday, a Pentagon spokeswoman said those escorts had ended.[source]
—Costas Paris contributed to this article.

Senate Easily Passes Iran Nuclear Bill

Senator David Vitter, Republican of Louisiana, center, on Capitol Hill in April. Doug Mills/The New York Times. 


WASHINGTON — A bill that would give Congress a voice in any nuclear agreement between world powers and Iran passed the Senate overwhelmingly on Thursday afternoon.
The measure, which was approved 98 to 1, withstood months of tense negotiations, White House resistance, the indictment of one of its sponsors and a massive partisan kerfuffle over a speech to Congress by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu just as an accord was coming together. The lone vote against the bill was cast by Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas.
The House is expected to take up the Senate measure as early as next week. “I look forward to House passage of this bill to hold President Obama’s administration accountable,” House Speaker John A. Boehner said in a prepared statement.

Republican infighting prevented a debate of significant amendments to the bill, leaving some members deeply unhappy that they were unable to weigh in further on a matter that many said was the most significant of their careers. But in the end, a bipartisan accord that seemed nearly impossible in the upper chamber just a few months ago came together by a convincing margin.

“Let me be clear,” Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, said on the Senate floor Thursday, as he encouraged senators to approve the bill while noting the procedural fights that hobbled the process. “Our response to this should not be to give the American people no say at all,” adding, “Make no mistake that will this not be the end of the story.”

Republicans and Democrats had gingerly worked out a deal to allow votes on a few amendments to the bill. But that arrangement fell apart when Senator David Vitter, Republican of Louisiana, used procedural moves to stall the bill Wednesday.

Mr. Vitter, long an antagonist to Senator Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, when he was majority leader, became one for Mr. McConnell this week. The majority leader wanted to show both parties that he could pass legislation with ample room to debate amendments, but Mr. Vitter refused to go along with his colleagues, ending the process Thursday.

“I am deeply disappointed by the direction this debate has taken,” said Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida and a candidate for president, who had wanted to debate an amendment that would force Iran to recognize Israel.

Mr. McConnell desperately wanted to get through the Iran matter on the Senate floor to move on to a difficult and contentious trade agreement before critics rip it to shreds.

The interim agreement reached between Iran and six world powers would dismantle much of Iran’s nuclear program, dispose of most of the nuclear material that could be used to make an atomic weapon, strictly limit Iran’s enrichment of uranium and set up an international inspection regime in exchange for a lifting of economic sanctions.

The bill that passed the Senate Thursday would require that the administration send the text of a final accord, along with classified material, to Congress as soon as it was completed. It also halts any lifting of sanctions pending a 30-day congressional review, and culminates in a possible vote to allow or forbid the lifting of congressionally imposed sanctions in exchange for the dismantling of much of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure.

“I think the American people want the United States Senate and the House of the Representatives on their behalf to ensure that Iran is held accountable,” said Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, the chairman of the foreign relations committee who shepherded the bill.

The bill in question, originally introduced in February by Mr. Corker and Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, enjoyed bipartisan support because its central concern was congressional prerogative. But the politics of the bill were immediately scrambled when Mr. Netanyahu gave a speech to Congress against the wishes of the White House and the majority of Democrats.

Soon after, Mr. Cotton, wrote a confrontational open letter to the Iranian government and got most of his Republican colleagues to sign on. Then, in another twist, Mr. Menendez was indicted and stepped down from the committee, leaving Senator Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland, who is far less hawkish, in charge of the Democrats’ role in the bill.

Subsequent fights over amendments ended Thursday with nothing of significance done to change the final measure. [source]

Chinese Province To Ban Christian Crosses On Rooftops

    In this file photo taken July 16, 2014, a man stands near the razed remains of a Catholic church in a village in Pingyang county of Wenzhou in eastern China's Zhejiang province. The Chinese province where authorities have forcibly removed hundreds of rooftop crosses from Protestant and Catholic churches has proposed a ban on any further placement of the religious symbol atop sanctuaries. (AP Photo/Didi Tang, File) 

    BEIJING (AP) — A Chinese province where authorities have forcibly removed hundreds of rooftop crosses from Protestant and Catholic churches has proposed a ban on any further placement of the religious symbol atop sanctuaries.
    The draft, if approved, would give authorities in the eastern province of Zhejiang solid legal grounds to remove rooftop crosses.
    Since early 2014, Zhejiang officials have toppled crosses from more than 400 churches, sometimes resulting in violent clashes with congregation members. They have said the crosses violate building codes, but critics say the rapid growth of Christian groups have made the ruling Communist Party nervous.
    "The authorities have attached great importance to this religious symbol," said Zheng Leguo, a pastor from the province who now lives in the United States. "This means no more prominent manifestation of Christianity in the public sphere."
    A draft of rules on religious structures released by government agencies this week says the crosses should be wholly affixed to a building facade and be no more than one-tenth of the facade's height. The symbol also must fit with the facade and the surroundings, the proposal says. The draft does not provide the rationale for the proposal.
    Fang Shenglan, an engineer at Zhejiang Provincial Institute of Architectural Design and Research who was involved with the research for the draft rules, confirmed that rooftop crosses would not be allowed under the proposed rules, but declined to explain why over the phone and did not immediately respond to a written request.
    Zhu Libin, president of a semi-official Christian association in Wenzhou, in southeastern Zhejiang, declined to comment. Calls to the provincial Christian association were unanswered Thursday.
    "This new draft law is just another attempt by the government to legitimize its existing illegal violent campaign of destruction and removal of the cross," said Bob Fu of U.S.-based China Aid, which has documented that 448 churches have had crosses removed or buildings destroyed.
    "To continue to forcefully remove and ban the cross on the rooftop of the church buildings demonstrates the Chinese regime's determination to contain the rapid growth of Christianity in China," he said in an email.
    Christianity has been expanding in China since the 1980s, when Beijing loosened its controls on religion.
    Estimates for the number of Christians in China range from the conservative official figure of 23 million to as many as 100 million by independent scholars, raising the possibility that Christians may rival in size the 85 million members of the ruling Communist Party. The religion's tight-knit parishes, proclivity for civil society, and loyalty to God have made the ruling party edgy about its own rule.
    Last August, Beijing authorities called Christian pastors and religious scholars into meetings to deliver an edict that the Christian faith must be free of foreign influence but "adapt to China," a euphemism for obeying the Communist Party.
    The Zhejiang city of Wenzhou is known as China's Jerusalem because it has half of the province's 4,000 churches. Rooftop crosses used to dominate the city's skylines, and local churches — often funded by well-off businesspeople — raced to build the largest church and the tallest cross as an ostensible display of their blessings.
    In April 2014, authorities forcibly demolished the Sanjiang Church, a highly visible structure then under construction on a hill just off a major highway in Wenzhou.
    Most recently, a Wenzhou court sentenced Christian pastor Huang Yizi to one year in prison after he publicly questioned the removal of rooftop crosses.
    Compared to the Communist Party's previous militant-style campaigns aiming at wiping out the religion, the latest crackdown is milder and its primary target is a symbol rather than the belief itself, Zheng said.
    Still, he called it "a restriction on the public space for Christianity."
    The campaign comes amid Beijing's increasing restrictions on civil liberty, Zheng said, as authorities have stepped up persecution of advocates for civil society and rights lawyers, and placed more restrictions on non-governmental groups.
    Although the crackdown on rooftop crosses has been limited to one province, Beijing has acquiesced to it, Zheng said.[source]

How Five Republicans Let Congress Keep Its Fraudulent Obamacare Subsidies

by Brendan Bordelon 
May 7, 2015 1:26 PM 
Health-care experts call it D.C. insiderism at its worst. 
The rumors began trickling in about a week before the scheduled vote on April 23: Republican leadership was quietly pushing senators to pull support for subpoenaing Congress’s fraudulent application to the District of Columbia’s health exchange — the document that facilitated Congress’s “exemption” from Obamacare by allowing lawmakers and staffers to keep their employer subsidies. The application said Congress employed just 45 people. Names were faked; one employee was listed as “First Last,” another simply as “Congress.” To Small Business Committee chairman David Vitter, who has fought for years against the Obamacare exemption, it was clear that someone in Congress had falsified the document in order to make lawmakers and their staff eligible for taxpayer subsidies provided under the exchange for small-business employees. But until Vitter got a green light from the Small Business Committee to subpoena the unredacted application from the District of Columbia health exchange, it would be impossible to determine who in Congress gave it a stamp of approval.

When Vitter asked Republicans on his committee to approve the subpoena, however, he was unexpectedly stonewalled. RELATED: Conservative Group Hits Rand Paul on Obamacare With nine Democrats on the committee lined up against the proposal, the chairman needed the support of all ten Republicans to issue the subpoena. But, though it seems an issue tailor-made for the tea-party star and Republican presidential candidate, Senator Rand Paul (R., Ky.) refused to lend his support. And when the Louisiana senator set a public vote for April 23, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his allies got involved. “For whatever reason, leadership decided they wanted that vote to be 5-5, all Republicans, to give Senator Paul cover,” one high-ranking committee staffer tells National Review. “So they worked at a member level to change the votes of otherwise supportive senators.” Four Republicans — senators Mike Enzi, James Risch, Kelly Ayotte, and Deb Fischer — had promised to support Vitter, but that would soon change.

Senate staffers, according to a top committee aide, reported seeing Missouri senator Roy Blunt make calls to at least two Republican committee members, lobbying them, at McConnell’s behest, to vote no on subpoenaing the exchange. By the time the committee was called to quorum, Enzi, Risch, Ayotte, and Fisher voted no. RELATED: A Better Way to Roll Back Obamacare To many observers, it was curious that any Republican would move to put the brakes on an investigation into Obamacare fraud, and particularly curious that they would pull back in an instance where the federal government was actually defrauding itself, one that so clearly illustrates Obamacare’s flaws by exposing the bureaucratic jujitsu and outright dishonesty required of federal employees themselves to navigate the law. Conservative health-care experts can’t understand the reasoning behind the GOP senators’ opposition. They see politics and self-interest at play, and they allege that Republican leaders are as invested as their Democratic counterparts in maintaining their subsidies, fraudulently obtained, while avoiding scrutiny from an overwhelmingly disapproving American public. “We deserve to know who signed that application, because they are robbing taxpayers,” says Michael Cannon, director of health-policy studies at the libertarian Cato Institute. The staffers who signed the fraudulent application, he says, “know who was directing them to do this. And so we have to follow the trail of breadcrumbs. This is the next breadcrumb, and whoever is farther up the trail wants to stop Vitter right here.”

The story of the ill-fated subpoena can be traced back to the debate over the Affordable Care Act, when Senator Chuck Grassley (R., Ia.) insisted that lawmakers and congressional staff join a health-care exchange set up under the bill. For government employees, that meant giving up government-subsidized health-care contributions of between $5,000 and $10,000 per person. The White House scrambled to find a way to allow congressional employees to keep those subsidies. In Washington, D.C., only the small-business exchange allowed them to do so. After secret meetings with House Speaker John Boehner in 2013, President Obama instructed the Office of Personnel Management to allow Congress to file for classification as a small business, despite the fact that the law defines a small business as having no more than 50 employees and the House and Senate together employ tens of thousands. When Vitter’s staffers tracked down the application and discovered obvious signs of fraud, Vitter requested approval to subpoena an unredacted copy of the application. The value of that document, says Cannon, is that it would reveal the name of the person who filed it. “Now you’ve got someone to call to testify,” he says, predicting that testimony would precipitate a congressional vote on whether to end the congressional exemption altogether. “I think it makes sense to find out what happened,” says Yuval Levin, the editor of National Affairs, a noted conservative health-care voice and a National Review contributor. “It would be pretty interesting to see whose name is on the forms,” he says. “It has to go beyond mid-level staffers.” RELATED: How Obamacare Is ‘Working’

But some congressional Republicans, it seems, are also resistant to getting to the bottom of the mystery — or, at the very least, they are content to let sleeping dogs lie. Committee rules for a subpoena require either the consent of the ranking member or a majority of the group’s 19 senators. Because Democrats quickly made their opposition clear, Vitter needed the approval of all ten Republicans. Nine of them quickly consented via e-mail; one senator was strangely unresponsive. Senior committee aides say that Rand Paul’s staff didn’t immediately reply to an e-mail requesting the senator’s consent and, when they did, they refused to provide it. When Vitter attempted to set up a member-to-member meeting, his overtures were ignored or put off. Paul’s policy staff refused to take a meeting. When Vitter tried to confront Paul on the Senate floor, they say, the Kentucky senator skirted the issue. RELATED: Federalism Will Sink, Not Save, Obamacare It wasn’t until after the vote that Paul shared his reasoning. “Senator Paul opposes allowing Congress to exempt themselves from any legislation,” an aide told the Conservative Review. “To that end, yesterday, he reintroduced his proposed constitutional amendment to prohibit Congress from passing any law that exempts themselves. Senator Paul prefers this option over a partisan cross-examination of Congressional staff.” But a constitutional amendment is a longshot that would take years, and it hardly precluded an investigation of congressional corruption here and now.

“That’s absurd,” says Robert Moffit, the director of the Center for Health Policy Studies at the conservative Heritage Foundation. “You don’t need a constitutional amendment to get a subpoena . . . I don’t know where he’s coming from.” “The answers he has given do not make sense,” Cannon says of Paul. “And when someone with his principles does something that is so obviously against his principles, and does not give an adequate explanation, you begin to think that politics is afoot. It would have to be someone very powerful that made him a powerful pitch — or threat — to keep him from doing this.” Paul’s press secretary tells National Review that the senator “examines every opportunity to [oppose Obamacare] individually, and does not base his vote on requests made by other senators, including the majority leader.” Asked whether McConnell pushed Paul or any other senator on the subpoena, a spokesman for McConnell says the majority leader “didn’t make any announcements when that committee voted.”

The flip-flopping Republicans justified their change of heart. Risch said in the April 23 committee meeting that legal wrangling with the D.C. exchange could take time away from the committee’s small-business work. Enzi said he saw little wrong with the application as is. “Each of us has our own budget, each of us has our own staff,” he said. “I don’t know about everybody else, but I’m way under 50 [employees]. So my staff qualifies as a small business.” Enzi was one of the original sponsors of Vitter’s 2013 amendment to end the congressional Obamacare exemption, but his press secretary tells National Review he felt the probe “could inadvertently target staff who simply completed paperwork as part of their job.” He insists that Enzi “made up his own mind.” Risch, Ayotte, and Fischer declined to comment. A spokesman for South Carolina senator Tim Scott, who voted for the subpoena, says that nobody lobbied him one way or the other, while a spokesman for Florida senator Marco Rubio, who also voted in favor of the measure, declined to comment.

Health-care experts dismiss Enzi’s claim that each member’s office is its own small business, and not just because the health exchange application was filed for Congress as a whole. “These congressional offices that think they’re small businesses, are they LLCs?” Cannon asks. “Are they S-Corps? Are they shareholder-owned? Are they privately held? What is the ownership structure of this small business that you’re running, senator? It’s just utterly ridiculous.” “They’re transparently absurd,” says Moffit of Senate Republicans claiming small-business status. “Who made the determination that Congress is a small business and is therefore eligible for subsidies that do not legally exist? How did that happen?” No one quite knows what’s behind leadership’s apparent push to kill the subpoena. The move baffled some committee staffers. “The amount of blood that McConnell and Paul spilled to prevent [the subpoena] from happening makes me wonder [if] maybe that isn’t all that there is to it,” the high-ranking staffer says. “Maybe other people signed it . . . They’re clearly afraid of something bigger than a person’s name getting out there.” Others, however, think the motives behind GOP leadership’s apparent obfuscation are clear. “If there’s one thing that absolutely drives Americans fundamentally crazy, it’s the idea that Congress can set one set of rules for themselves and another for everybody else,” says Moffit. “That’s political poison, and that’s why they have been so desperate to avoid the issue.” “The most powerful interest group in Washington D.C. is not the Chamber or the unions or anyone else,” Cannon says. “It is members of Congress and their staffs. And when it comes to their benefits, they are all members of the same party.”[source]


Pam Geller: No Contact from FBI, Homeland Security Since Terror Attack

Illustration of PaM Geller, Founder, Editor, and Publisher of AtlasShrugs.com, and Executive Director of The American Freedom Defense Initiative.

Pamela Geller, the woman targeted by terrorists in Texas over the weekend, says the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security have yet to contact her after the thwarted attacked. She made the comments last night in an interview with Sean Hannity.
"This is a serious threat," said Hannity. "Basically a Fatwa, a death threat, has now been issued. Your reaction to that? Have you had any contact with the FBI?"
"They have not contacted me, but of course we've now increased my team. I have a team now, private security, and NYPD counterterror has been in touch with me," said Geller.
"Did you reach out to the FBI?"
"I did," Geller confirmed.
Hannity followed up, "Homeland Security hasn't gotten ahold of you, the FBI hasn't gotten ahold of you?"
"No, and this is interesting because this is a terrorist threat. And the FBI, President Obama should provide security. There's no question about it. Because he created an environment that raised the stakes on this," Geller said.[source]

After Days Of Media Treatment of Pam Geller As The Real Problem In The Garland, Tx, Terrorist Shooting, Islamic Fundamentalists Openly Call For Killing Her


Monday, May 4, 2015

The Kiss Of Death: Kerry Comes To Reassure Israel Over Obama-Iranian Deal


 
 
JERUSALEM — Secretary of State John Kerry sought to pacify Israeli worries over an emerging nuclear deal with Iran in an interview aired Sunday, dismissing some concerns as brought on by “hysteria” over the possible agreement.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been one of the harshest critics the U.S.-led framework deal with the Islamic Republic, which offers it sanctions relief in exchange for scaling back its contested nuclear program.

Israel considers a nuclear-armed Iran an existential threat, citing hostile Iranian rhetoric toward the Jewish state, Iran’s missile capabilities and its support for violent militant groups. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

Speaking to Israel’s Channel 10 television, Kerry said the deal wouldn’t affect American options to counter any possible effort by Iran to build atomic weapons.

“I say to every Israeli that today we have the ability to stop them if they decided to move quickly to a bomb and I absolutely guarantee that in the future we will have the ability to know what they are doing so that we can still stop them if they decided to move to a bomb,” Kerry said.

Netanyahu believes the potential deal leaves intact too much of Iran’s contested nuclear program, including research facilities and advanced centrifuges capable of enriching uranium, a key ingredient in building an atomic bomb.

“We will have inspectors in there every single day,” Kerry said. “There is a lot of hysteria about this deal.”

Netanyahu’s criticism has contributed to rising tensions between him and President Barack Obama.

“We think there needs to be a different deal, a better deal, and there are those that tell us this won’t endanger Israel,” Netanyahu said Sunday during a visit by U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio). “I must say as prime minister of Israel, who is responsible for Israel’s security - this does endanger Israel.”[source]

Saudi-led Alliance Mulls Partial Truces In Yemen: Statement

Smoke billows after an air strike hit the international airport of Yemen's capital Sanaa May 4, 2015.  Reuters/Khaled Abdullah.

 (Reuters) - A Saudi-led Arab alliance conducting air strikes against Houthi fighters in Yemen is considering calling truces in specific areas in Yemen to allow humanitarian supplies to reach the country, the Saudi foreign minister said on Monday.
Adel al-Jubeir also said Saudi Arabia might host a center to coordinate delivery of humanitarian supplies.
The United Nations says the humanitarian situation in Yemen has grown desperate after weeks of air strikes.
"The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is holding consultations with members of the alliance in defense of legitimacy in Yemen and all countries that support it, to create specific areas inside Yemen to deliver humanitarian supplies, where all aerial operations will stop at specific times to allow these supplies in, as stipulated by UN Security Council resolution 2216," Jubeir said in a statement.
The resolution imposes an arms embargo on the Houthis and on their allies - army units loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh - and demands they disarm and leave captured cities, including the capital Sanaa that they seized in September.
Jubeir warned the rebels against exploiting the truces, saying air strikes would resume if the Shi'ite Muslim group did not abide by the truce.[source]

Brian Moore, New York Police Officer Shot in the Head, Dies As NYT Rushes To Conclude "No Story Here" Concerning Targeting Police

 
Hundreds of police officers paid their respects to Officer Brian Moore outside Jamaica Hospital Medical Center on Monday as the officer's body was carried away by ambulance. Credit Uli Seit for The New York Times.

Officer Brian Moore followed his father into the New York Police Department, rose to the ranks of an elite plainclothes unit tasked with confronting the city’s most dangerous street crime and died on Monday, two days after a gunman opened fire on him in Queens.
At the time that Officer Moore, 25, was shot on Saturday evening, he was still young enough to be living in the Long Island home of his father, Raymond. Yet he was seasoned enough in the job he had been drawn to since childhood to have earned accolades from superiors and departmental medals for “meritorious” police work. He had made over 150 arrests since joining the department in July 2010.
“In his very brief career, he already proved himself to be an exceptional young officer,” the police commissioner, William J. Bratton, said in announcing Officer Moore’s death, outside Jamaica Hospital Medical Center on Monday afternoon.
“I did not know this officer in person in life,” a visibly shaken Mr. Bratton added. “I’ve only come to know him in death.”
Officer Moore’s death plunged the nation’s largest police force into mourning for the second time in six months. Though his wounds were grave from the moment the gunman’s bullet struck his face, officials had held out hope that he might survive. But on Monday his family made the decision to remove him from life support, prompting an outpouring of grief.
Shortly after Officer Moore’s death, the Queens district attorney, Richard A. Brown, said the charges against the man accused of opening fire, Demetrius Blackwell, 35, would be elevated to include first-degree murder.
“We lost one of the best amongst us, a young man who was called to do good for others,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at an evening news conference at Police Headquarters. “This was his dream because he had seen such extraordinary examples in his own family.” ”
At a time of low crime in the city and a national debate over deadly police actions, officials said Officer Moore’s death served as a reminder of the dangers inherent in everyday situations encountered by officers. The shooting erupted in an instant as the officers tried to question a person they deemed suspicious.
It differed, in that respect, from the targeted killing of Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu in December by a man who linked his actions to protests over police killings of unarmed black men in Missouri and on Staten Island. The police have said that no such political motive existed for Mr. Blackwell, whom they described as a “professional criminal.”
“Policing is never easy,” Mr. Bratton said at the evening news conference. “At this time in America, it’s even more difficult.”
For city officers, the story of the Moores was the story of many police families. Not only Officer Moore’s father but also his uncle and his cousin were New York City officers. Officer Moore grew up on Long Island, in a middle-class neighborhood filled with city workers. He attended a public high school, Plainedge, whose athletic field was named for Edward R. Byrne, another alumnus who followed his father into the city’s Police Department and was fatally shot on duty in Queens as a 22-year-old rookie in 1988.
“Officer Moore was very proud of his father and uncle, and they were very proud of him,” said Lawrence Byrne, the deputy commissioner of legal matters and the brother of Edward Byrne.
Officer Moore worked in a department where his family name preceded him in some of the highest ranks. Officer Byrne knew Raymond Moore as a high school classmate at Plainedge High School, in North Massapequa; James P. O’Neill, the chief of department, worked with him in the warrants squad in the 1990s and on Monday called the Moores a “terrific family.”
On Monday evening, a candlelight vigil was to be held at the high school in honor of Officer Moore, the local schools superintendent said, to “remember the dedicated, courageous and kind young man he was.”
It was about 6:15 p.m. on Saturday when Officer Moore steered his unmarked police sedan toward a man whom he and his partner observed walking on a quiet street in Queens Village and adjusting his waistband in what the police said was a suspicious manner.
They pulled up behind him and as they began talking to him, the police said, the man turned and fired at the car. Officer Moore was struck in the cheek and had trauma to his brain, officials said. Officer Moore’s partner, Officer Erik Jansen, was not hit.
Ninety minutes after the shooting, officers arrested Mr. Blackwell at a house within view of the scene of the gunfire, near the corner of 212th Street and 104th Road. He had discarded the weapon, the police said, and tried to mix into a crowd of curious neighbors as heavily armed officers went house to house.
For more than a day, officers searched the backyards and rooftops for the gun used in the shooting. It was found by detectives on Monday morning under a box near a grill in a backyard that officials said was along the short route they suspected Mr. Blackwell took after the shooting. The gun, a silver .38-caliber, five-shot revolver, had two live rounds and three expended rounds..
The police said three .38-caliber rounds were fired at the officers, two striking their car and one hitting Officer Moore.
The gun was among 23 reported stolen in 2011 from a Georgia gun shop, the chief of detectives, Robert K. Boyce, said. Nine of those weapons, including the revolver, have been recovered in New York City by the police, he said.
On Monday afternoon, hundreds of officers looked on as an ambulance carrying Office Moore’s body left the hospital and headed to the morgue. Distraught relatives placed their hands on the vehicle. Along the route, firefighters at every station stood and saluted. At the morgue, a sea of blue formed.
Still others converged on the gray Cape Cod-style home where Officer Moore lived in North Massapequa. This week, thousands will gather for the familiar rituals of a police goodbye.[source]

Garland, Texas, Shooting Suspect Linked Himself To ISIS In Tweets


One of 2 armed Islamic terrorists responsible for attacking a Texas free speech event.
 
(CNN)They wore body armor. They carried assault rifles. And one had declared loyalty to ISIS.
A day after police killed two gunmen who tried to ambush a Garland, Texas, event featuring controversial cartoons of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed, details began to emerge about the shooters.
One suspect, identified as Elton Simpson by a federal law enforcement source, linked himself to ISIS in a tweet posted just before the attack.
He also was no stranger to federal investigators. In 2011, he was convicted of making a false statement involving international and domestic terrorism.
The other suspect, identified as Nadir Soofi by two federal law enforcement officials, was Simpson's roommate in a Phoenix apartment.
He wasn't well-known to federal law enforcement and was not on the FBI's radar, one of the officials said. Investigators were combing through evidence retrieved from the shooters' Arizona home to help piece together a timeline of how their plot came together, the official said.
Authorities are still trying to determine the suspects' motives, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said Monday. At this point, he said, one thing appears clear: A quick-thinking police officer "likely saved a number of innocent lives."
Simpson and Soofi never made it inside the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, where in addition to the cartoon contest, a right-wing Dutch politician who's on an al Qaeda hit list was speaking Sunday evening.
A traffic officer working after-hours as security for the event and armed only with a service pistol killed both men, who were wearing body armor and carrying assault rifles, Garland Police Department spokesman Joe Harn told reporters Monday.
"We think their strategy was to get into the event center, and they were not able to get past our perimeter that we had set up," Harn said.
An unarmed security officer working with the patrol officer was shot in the ankle, police said. None of the approximately 200 people attending the event was hurt.
Harn declined to call the incident a terror attack, saying the motive was still under investigation.
"We don't know their intent, other than that they were willing to pull up and shoot police," Harn said.

Links to ISIS?

Investigators haven't revealed what they found in the suspects' apartment, but Simpson's social media footprint reveals one possible motive; he linked himself to ISIS in a tweet posted just before the attack.
"May Allah accept us as mujahideen," the tweet said, adding that Simpson and his fellow attacker had pledged loyalty to "Amirul Mu'mineen" (the leader of the faithful) -- a description that CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank said likely refers to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi.
After the shooting, an ISIS propagandist that Simpson had earlier asked his readers to follow tweeted, "Allahu Akbar!!!! 2 of our brothers just opened fire" at the Texas event.
"If there is no check on the freedom of your speech, then let your hearts be open to the freedom of our actions," tweeted the propagandist, who was identified by two American groups that monitor jihadi websites as Junaid Hussain, a British ISIS fighter in Syria who goes by the name Abu Hussein al Britani.
In 2011, Simpson was sentenced to three years of probation after his conviction on the terror-related charge, court records show. Prosecutors said he told FBI agents that he had not discussed traveling to Somalia to engage in "violent jihad" when, in fact, he had, according to an indictment reviewed by CNN.
U.S. authorities are investigating whether Sunday's shooting has any link to international terrorism. Simpson's tweet could indicate the attack was inspired by ISIS, but not necessarily orchestrated by the group, sources said.

Similarities to attacks in Denmark, France

The incident bears similarities to attacks this year on events in France and Denmark featuring images of Mohammed, which some Muslims believe is blasphemous.
In January, gunmen attacked the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical magazine that has a controversial history of depicting Mohammed, and killed 12 people. The next month, a gunman attacked a free speech forum in Copenhagen, Denmark, featuring cartoonist Lars Vilks, who infuriated al Qaeda with his depictions of Mohammed.
The Sunday night event in Garland invited cartoonists to send in caricatures of Mohammed. It was organized by the American Freedom Defense Initiative -- considered an anti-Muslim group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups.
The keynote speaker was right-wing Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who's on an al Qaeda hit list.
Organizers said they received more than 350 submissions for the event.
The winning entry won $12,500. The black and white drawing shows a cartoonist's hands sketching a sword-wielding Mohammed, who is shouting, "You can't draw me!"
A speech bubble coming from the hands depicts the cartoonist's response: "That's why I draw you."
"The Islamic jihadis are determined to suppress our freedom of speech violently." Pamela Geller, president of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, told CNN. "They struck in Paris and Copenhagen recently, and now in Texas."
Responding Monday to criticisms of her group as anti-Islamic, she said, "There is a problem in Islam, as illustrated last night, and anyone that addresses it gets attacked in this same way."

Venue hosted anti-Islamaphobia event

The American Freedom Defense Initiative said it specifically picked the venue for Sunday's event, a school district-owned facility, because it had hosted an event denouncing Islamophobia in January.
SoundVision, the organizers of the January "Stand with the Prophet" event, denounced Sunday's attackers and also criticized Geller's organization for "hate mongering."
"Unfortunately, some insane persons, however, decided to give hate-mongers the attention they desired with their violent act. ... Once again, a bad name for the community," SoundVision said on its website. "We, the people of faith, must counter the war-terror-hate cycle with peace-love-respect."
Shortly after the Sunday night shooting, a prominent Muslim leader in Dallas tweeted about it.
"The community stayed away from event," Imam Zia Sheikh wrote. "Seems like a lone wolf type of attack. Just what we didn't want."

'A gentle person'

Members of a mosque the suspects attended, the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix, are in shock about what happened, said its president, Usama Shami.
Simpson was a regular worshiper at the mosque until around 2010 or 2011, about the time the FBI arrested him on the false statement charges.
During that time, he offered no signal that he held radical views, Shami said.
"He was a gentle person," Shami said of Simpson. "He always had a good attitude, a good demeanor."
Soofi came to the mosque less frequently, Shami said. He owned a local pizza shop and would show up at the mosque with his young son.
"They didn't show any signs of radicalization or any signs of even thinking about those things in that manner. So when that happens it just shocks you," Shami said. "How good did you know these people, that's the question that people ask themselves."

Texas crime scene after 2 armed Islamic terrorists tried to attack a free speech event.

'Freedom of speech is under violent assault'

Wilders, the Dutch politician who was the keynote speaker at the Garland event, is controversial for his anti-Islam views. He was placed on the al Qaeda hit list for his film "Fitna."
The film, which Wilders released online in March 2008 to international outcry, features disturbing images of terrorist acts superimposed over verses from the Quran in an apparent attempt to paint Islam as a threat to Western society.
In 2011, Wilders was cleared of charges of inciting discrimination and hatred with the movie.
"The day we give away humor and freedom of speech is the day that we cease to exist as a free and independent people," he told the attendees at the Garland event Sunday night.
The American Freedom Defense Initiative is also known for its anti-Muslim stance, with the Southern Poverty Law Center describing Geller as "the anti-Muslim movement's most visible and flamboyant figurehead," a description that she disputes.
The conservative blogger first gained national attention with her group, "Stop the Islamization of America," and its vocal opposition to an Islamic community center planned near the site of New York's ground zero, where the twin towers of the World Trade Center were destroyed by Islamist hijackers on September 11, 2001.
Geller said Sunday's attack showed how necessary the event was, adding that she plans to hold similar events in the future.
"The freedom of speech is under violent assault here in our nation," she said. "The question now before us: Will we stand and defend it or bow to violence, thuggery and savagery?"