April 25th, 2015
In the wake of what many are viewing as a crushingly punitive and unfair judgment, former bakery owners Aaron and Melissa Klein were ordered by administrative judge Alan McCullough to pay $135,000 in fines to a lesbian couple. The Kleins declined to bake a wedding cake for the couple due to their religious beliefs.
Almost immediately, supporters set up a GoFundMe page on behalf of the family. Within seven hours, at approximately 6:30 pm Pacific time, it had received nearly $80,000 in funding.
Then abruptly, at approximately 9:10 pm Pacific time, when the fund had a bit over $109,000 dollars, the account was closed.
In a statement regarding their decision to close the account, GoFundMe wrote: “After careful review by our team, we have found the ‘Support Sweet Cakes By Melissa’ campaign to be in violation of our Terms and Conditions. The money raised thus far will still be made available for withdrawal.While a different campaign was recently permitted for a pizzeria in Indiana, no laws were violated and the campaign remained live. However, the subjects of the ‘Support Sweet Cakes By Melissa’ campaign have been formally charged by local authorities and found to be in violation of Oregon state law concerning discriminatory acts.
Accordingly, the campaign has been disabled.”
April 25th, 2015
According to all information available, at this point the US Government has not yet linked fracking with this major event since the oil extraction technique does not yet even exist in Nepal...~ Refocus Notes
By Manesh Shrestha, Don Melvin and Ben Brumfield
Kathmandu, Nepal (CNN) A 7.8 magnitude earthquake centered less than 50 miles from Kathmandu rocked Nepal with devastating force Saturday, toppling homes, temples and historic buildings and leaving at least 1,457 people dead, authorities said.
Afterward, whole streets and squares in the nation's capital and largest city were covered in rubble. The injured wound up being treated outside hospitals in chaotic scenes. Residents, terrorized by a seemingly endless series of aftershocks, huddled outdoors for safety.
The death toll was reported by Nepal's Ministry of Home Affairs. But given that the rescue effort is still in its early stages and that people in outlying areas may well have been affected, as well, it seems probable the number will rise.
In neighboring Tibet, roads buckled, buildings collapsed and at least 12 people were killed, China's state media reported, citing local authorities.
Separately, at least four Chinese citizens in Nepal -- two workers with a Chinese company, a tourist and a mountaineer -- have been killed, state media reported, citing the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu.
Kathmandu, which sits in a valley surrounded by the Himalayas, has a population of about 1 million.
Thomas Nybo, a photographer who's shooting the quake's aftermath for The New York Times, was sitting in a coffee shop in Kathmandu's Temal district when the massive temblor struck. It appeared to be a minor tremor at first but gradually gained intensity, he told CNN. Thousands poured onto the streets of Temal, a densely populated tourist hub.
"This region is no stranger to earthquakes," he said. "A lot of people had the same feeling: this is a tremor, it passed. When that wasn't the case, they were in uncharted territory... It's basically an unwritten book."
Aid agencies expressed concern for the welfare of survivors in the coming days, as overnight temperatures are expected to drop and people will need to make do without electricity, running water and shelter.
The international community must react quickly to save lives -- particularly those of children -- said Devendra Tak, of the aid agency Save the Children.
"With every minute the situation becomes worse," he said. "Tonight is going to be a very tough night out there for people in Kathmandu and for people in the surrounding villages."
Food, clothing and medicine will be urgently required, he said.
April 25th, 2015
Powerful US Surface task group moves towards Yemen
By AARON KLEIN
TEL AVIV – In a development that could escalate tensions in an already volatile region, the Russian navy has been aiding Iranian ships attempting to bring arms to the Tehran-backed rebels currently leading an insurgency in Yemen, according to informed Middle Eastern defense officials speaking to WND.
The development comes as the Obama administration dispatched the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt off the coast of Yemen reportedly to thwart the Iranian weapons convoys headed to the country to help to Houthi rebels.
The defense officials said the Russian navy ships are attempting to maneuver to create a clear path for the Iranian vessels to bypass the U.S. fleet and arrive in Yemen.
The officials said Saudi Arabia, which backs the embattled Yemeni government, filed a complaint with Moscow about the purported Russian naval movements.
Russian Navy Ship in Mediterranean Sea
It was not immediately clear where the Russian navy was attempting such a maneuver.
According to reports, Russia’s navy last Sunday docked in Yemen and helped to evacuated more than 650 people of different nationalities both by air and by sea. One Russian navy ship reportedly took in more than 308 evacuees last Sunday while about 350 more were moved via two Russian aircraft.
The book that exposed the true intentions of Iran a decade ago has now been proved right, “Atomic Iran: How the Terrorist Regime Bought the Bomb and American Politicians,” and it’s available now, autographed, for just $4.95 at the WND Superstore!
The USS Roosevelt is reportedly tracking a convoy of Iranian ships currently heading to the Gulf of Aden, according to two defense officials speaking to USA Today on condition of anonymity.
Besides the Houthi insurgency, the Pentagon is also concerned about the Bab al-Mandab gateway off Yemen’s coast, which connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden.
More than 3 million barrels of oil are shipped daily to Europe, the United States and Asia via the gateway.
The Pentagon announcement of the Roosevelt’s deployment also stated that in recent days the U.S. Navy “has increased its presence in this area as a result of the current instability.”
“The purpose of these operations,” the Pentagon explained, “is to ensure the vital shipping lanes in the region remain open and safe.”
More from Aaron Klein at WND
April 24th, 2015
A Gofundme link is located at the bottom of this post if you would like to help the Financially stressed religious couple pay the court-ordered $ 135,000 fine.
~ Refocus Notes
PORTLAND, Ore. - On Friday, an administrative law judge proposed that the owners of an Oregon bakery pay $135,000 to a lesbian couple refused service more than two years ago.
The judge, Alan McCullough, ruled in January that Sweet Cakes by Melissa discriminated against Laurel and Rachel Bowman-Cryer by refusing to bake them a wedding cake.
The bakers cited their religious beliefs. The case is one that has been referenced in the national debate over religious freedom and discrimination against the LGBT community.
Friday's proposed order dealt with the award for emotional suffering.
The maximum penalty that could have been assessed was $150,000, or $75,000 per person. Judge McCullough awarded $60,000 in damages to Laurel Bowman-Cryer and $75,000 in damages to Rachel Bowman-Cryer.
"The facts of this case clearly demonstrate that the Kleins unlawfully discriminated against the complainants. Under Oregon law, businesses cannot discriminate or refuse service based on sexual orientation, just as they cannot turn customers away because of race, sex, disability, age or religion. Our agency is committed to fair and thorough enforcement of Oregon civil rights laws, including the Equality Act of 2007," the Bureau of Labor and Industries said in a statement Friday.
Both sides will review the proposal and have the chance to file exceptions before Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian issues a final order.
Basic Rights Oregon commended the judge's ruling following Friday's announcement.
"Religious freedom is a fundamental part of America, and is written into our state's constitution already. But those beliefs don't entitle any of us to discriminate against others. Religious liberty should not be used to discriminate against people," the organization said in a statement.
Bakery owners Aaron and Melissa Klein closed their Gresham store in 2013 and operate the business from home. Following Friday's announcement, Melissa Klein posted the following message on her Facebook page, with a link to a GoFundMe account:
We just found out that the judge has made his decision, he is ordering that we pay $135,000 in emotional damages. This money will not come from the business, but instead would have to be paid from money that should be going to pay for food and housing for us and our 5 children. Brad Avakian has not had his final word on it and it may be increased. This amount will financially ruin us. Our government was put in place to protect the people not to punish people because of their faith. We have had many people ask to help, someone kindly set up a go fund me for us. Thank you to all who are willing to fight for religious freedom. God blesshttp://www.gofundme.com/su4cxqe6
April 24th, 2015
The Hill / By Sarah Ferris
The Senate's Small Business Committee on Thursday denied its chairman’s request to subpoena documents from the D.C. insurance marketplace, which he said would prove that some in Congress evaded ObamaCare rules.
Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), the head of the committee, was demanding unredacted copies of health insurance applications used by members of Congress to enroll in the small-business exchange. Vitter has claimed that congressional staff falsified documents in order to allow members of Congress and their staff to receive subsidized insurance.
In a surprising vote, five Republicans joined the committee's nine Democrats to oppose the subpoena. That GOP group includes Sen. Mike Enzi (Wyo.), who had previously co-sponsored a bill with Vitter on the issue. Republican Sens. Jim Risch (Idaho), Deb Fischer (Neb.), Rand Paul (Ky.) and Kelly Ayotte (N.H.) also voted against the subpoena.
Four Republicans voted in favor, including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).
Condemning the vote, Vitter vowed to continue to fight what he calls “Washington’s special ObamaCare exemption.”
“The message is clear: Congress should be able to lie so that members can get a special Obamacare subsidy unavailable to anyone else at that income level,” Vitter said in a sharply worded statement.
Vitter's staff had previously said that all GOP senators, except Paul, would vote "yes."
The Louisiana senator, who is running for governor, wanted the exchange to turn over nine pages of applications. He said the documents would prove findings from a months-long investigation, which he said uncovered “blatantly false misrepresentations” in members’ applications for ObamaCare.
He had previously obtained copies of the applications, but said they were erased of “any information that could identify the source of these fraudulent statements.”
Even with the redactions, Vitter said he found glaring concerns on the documents, such as claims that Congress employs 50 or fewer full-time employees and a list of employee names “that are clearly made up.”
“I have given D.C. Health Link ample time to cooperate with this simple request, and have made a strong effort to be reasonable and to work with them without the need to resort to compulsory means,” Vitter told the committee during its markup Thursday.
Vitter, a fierce critic of the Affordable Care Act, has accused congressional clerks of filing false information with the D.C. marketplace to ensure that lawmakers and staff could obtain subsidized health insurance through the system.
Congress obtains health insurance through the D.C. exchange under an ObamaCare provision intended to make Capitol Hill equal to people buying coverage on the marketplaces.