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American Airlines to Launch Nonstop Flights


HARTFORD — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the Connecticut Airport Authority  on Tuesday announced that American Airlines will soon debut new daily, nonstop service between Bradley International Airport  and Los Angeles International Airport.

According to a press release, the Malloy administration said that the new flight will connect Greater Hartford to other parts of the world.

“Our future as a state is linked directly to our transportation system, and as we build up Bradley Airport, we are helping businesses large and small,” Malloy said. “This announcement is indeed another step forward for Connecticut.”

The service will begin  on June 2, 2016, using Boeing 737-800 aircraft with a 150-seat configuration.

The daily departure from Bradley is scheduled at 7:00 a.m. with an arrival in Los Angeles at 10:00 a.m.  The inbound flight is scheduled to depart Los Angeles at 9:00 p.m. and arrive at Bradley at 5:20 a.m.  Tickets will go on sale on Jan. 23.

“The CAA is pleased to welcome the American Airlines Bradley to LAX route and the benefits it will bring to our business and leisure travelers,” CAA Board Chair Mary Ellen Jones said.  “The addition of this service enhances the travel opportunities for passengers traveling from Bradley to our nation’s most desirable cities.”

Executive Director Kevin Dillon said the company is looking to expand the nonstop packages in the area.

“By partnering with airlines to introduce services such as this one we are providing our passengers easier access to our nation’s most popular destinations and beyond.  We are pleased to see an expanded American Airlines footprint at Bradley and we look forward to our ongoing partnership.”

The American Airlines Bradley to LAX announcement follows the CAA’s recent launch of United Airlines service to Denver, Colorado and the anticipated introduction of non-stop Aer Lingus service to Dublin, Ireland in September.

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Hilary Clinton Leads in Polls After South Carolina Democratic Debate


By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer
CHARLESTON, S. C. – After a contentious debate between the two leading Democratic presidential candidates, Hilary Clinton emerged as a leader in the polls, pushing back an insurgent candidate from Vermont.

 
Clinton sparred with the Sen. Bernie Sanders, who brands himself as a Democratic Socialist. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley came in a distant third after the fourth debate in Charleston, South Carolina. The debate was moderated by NBC News’ Lester Holt and Andrea Mitchell.

 
According to polls released on Sunday by NBC News/Wall Street Journal, the former secretary of state received 59 percent support from Democratic primary voters, while 34 percent support the Vermont senator. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley received 2 percent support.

 
Before the debate, another poll two weeks before the first votes in Iowa, 79 percent of Democratic primary voters say they would support Clinton. And of those same pollers, 66 percent say they would support Sanders.

 
Historically, the South Carolina primary election has been more important to the Republican Party’s nomination process, used to eliminate serious contenders facing the party’s frontrunner.

 
Clinton challenged Sanders on his policy shifts on universal health care, one of President Barack Obama’s signature achievements. Sanders said he would also build on Obamacare and tweak it to be Medicaid for all who are eligible, instead getting rid of Obamacare.

 
Positing herself as someone who can do “all aspects of the job,” the second-time presidential candidate also questioned Sanders policy shift on gun control. She also labeled Sanders as a fringe candidate, saying he would be unelectable.

 
Sanders pushed back with poll numbers, which puts him closer to Clinton before the South Carolina debates.

 
“When this campaign began, she was 50 points ahead of me,” he said. “We were all of three percentage points. Guess what? In Iowa and New Hampshire, the race is very, very close.”

 
He also cited his close tie in a general election against Trump.

 
Sanders beats Trump by 54 percent to 39 percent. And Clinton polled with 51 percent to 41 percent.

 
The two candidates took center stage because of Sanders gains in the polls before the Iowa caucuses. They also argued on who would be best to build on Obama’s legacy on healthcare and gun control, two hot-button issues fought vigorously in the Republican-led House and Senate.

 
Clinton proposed to build on Obama’s legacy and Sanders said he would be the right candidate that appeals to the current sentiments of the Democratic Party.

 
Sanders tried to present himself as the bolder choice to build on Mr. Obama’s legacy.

 
Despite the impressive showing by Sanders in these polls, one thing is clear: Clinton is leading Sanders.

 
O’Mally got feisty in the last democratic debate before the Iowa caucus, criticizing the two leading and “tested” candidates and show his support for privacy rights.

 
In response to the YouTube viewer about his stance on privacy versus security.

 
“I believe whether it’s a backdoor or a front door that the American principle of law should still hold our federal government should have to get a warrant, whether they want to come through the backdoor or your front door,” O’Malley said.

 
South Carolinians are expected to vote on Feb. 27.

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President Obama Delivers Final SOTU Address


By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama delivered his eighth State of the Union address before a packed House chamber on Tuesday, pushing back on “negative attacks” toward his policies and the typical moniker that comes at the end of an incumbent president’s second term: lame duck.

Obama’s 58-minute speech illuminated his top priorities and challenges for the last seven years. He also honed in on his agenda to fix a broken immigration system, to push climate change and to tackle criminal justice reform, especially gun violence. Also, the Obama administration is aiming to expand the number of Syrian refugees admitted to the United States.

Recently, the president signed an education bill that he said will “fix some of the challenges of the No Child Left Behind and promises to invest more in early childhood education.” On December 10, 2015, Obama signed into law  a new education reform bill that shifts power from the federal government to the states. Each state will now set the agenda on issues of school performance and accountability. Under the Every Child Achieves Act, local districts will once again have power to determine how to improve troubled schools. In all, the new bill minimizes federal oversight of schools and doesn’t have an ambitous goal for education reform.

Margaret Spellings, who served as former Pesident George Bush’s education secretary from 2005 to 2009, sounded an alarm, saying Obama’s education secretary, Arne Duncan, shephered a bill that removed the consequences to local school districts for failing to meet a federal educational standard or take the pressure off local officials to effectively fix low-performing schools.

Before Obama’s new bill, there was strict federal control on education. Now, the Senate bill nixed most of NCLB’s major accountability provisions.

RELATED: CNN’s State of the Union 2016: Full text

Obama also touted additional achievement, especially his health care bill. To date, six million people have signed up for Obamacare, which was passed in Congress and came into law in March 2010. And nearly 18 million people have gained access to healthcare, Obama said.

He also touted his accomplishments with the economy, climate change and bringing China, one of the world’s largest emission centers, to the table.  America signed a climate change deal at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change last month. The agreement calls for countries to reduce greenhouses emissions. Additionally, White House officials said unemployment was cut in half.

However, Obama signed a bill that aims to cut food stamps by $8.7 billion in the next 10 years. The cut was a part of the 2014 Farm Bill.

“All these things still matter to hardworking families; they are still the right thing to do; and I will not let up until they get done,”  he said.

He did not, however, set the agenda for the 2016 election as other presidents such as Dwight Eisenhower have done in the past. And he was faced with obstruction on many other issues, including Federal and Circuit Court judge appointments. On Monday, his last appointment, Felipe Restrepo of Pennsylvania, became the only the second Circuit Court judge approved in 2015. Restrepo was Obama’s last nominee to be confirmed.

Earlier this month, the Obama administration also said it would join a new push with the United Nations to allow police agencies help respond to terrorism. The Obama administration said Islamic terrorism is less worrying than “homegrown” terror. But reports are finding that domestic terrorism is just as dangerous as foreign terrorism. The Obama administration has issued reports that claim Tea Party groups and nativist groups are possible domestic terrorists.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy was one of several guests who personify President Obama’s tenure in office.

While Malloy was with First Lady and Congressman John Larson (D-1) was also joined by a special guest: Geoffrey Tillman, who was wrongfully convicted of a crime and served more than 15 years.

Viewers, for the most part, saw an energetic president who pushed proposals for the coming year ending with a deep resolve that “America is emerging stronger and better.”

The speech was well-received.

According to a CNN poll, 53 percent of viewers had favored the President’s speech, matching the highest rating of his presidency reached following his 2013 address. Only 20 percent of viewers said they had a positive reaction to his speech and 25 percent reported a negative view.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley gave the Republican response, in which she criticized Obama’s policies and critiqued Trump for leading the campaign trail with anger and showmanship.

Haley also cast Obama and his administration in an unflattering light, saying  America “would soon have a chance to turn the page.”

“The President’s record has often fallen far short of his soaring words,” Haley said.

 House Speaker Paul Ryan also debut as House Speaker alongside Biden.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson was designated as the Cabinet member who did not attend the State of the Union address.

Photo Courtesy of VOA.

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Obama’s Tears for Ableist Fears


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President Barack Obama has announced executive actions in response to the “outbreak” of gun violence. In particular Obama has said he’ll increase the efficiency of background checks. Obama’s reasoning comes from the belief that gun violence is on the rise.

But as Reason‘s Jesse Walker reported in early December, “More people die in mass public shootings now than in previous decades, but if you adjust for population growth that increase basically disappears.” In addition, the Pew Research Center found in October 2015 that, “Between 1993 and 2000, the gun homicide rate dropped by nearly half, from 7.0 homicides to 3.8 homicides per 100,000 people. Since then, the gun homicide rate has remained relatively flat.” And while Pew highlights an increase in suicides, I doubt this is the impetus behind Obama increasing the ability of the national background check to, “…track people who are banned from obtaining firearms for specific mental health reasons” as Policy.Mic reports.

the-hartford-guardian-OpinionInstead, this executive action stems from misguided fears about disabled people and their relation to firearms. As opposed to letting neurodivergent folks decide their own fate, they must instead comply with debilitating bureaucracy.

An email that the blogger Autistic Hoya received from Obama’s White House Office of Public Engagement promisingly notes the stigma that individuals with mental illness face. Yet, at the same time, the email encourages us to make sure that guns don’t fall into “the wrong hands”. Presumably, individuals with mental illness fit this description which, in effect, further stigmatizes them.

Background checks in of themselves are troublesome ways of preventing gun violence because they rely on prior arrests and convictions. This means that communities that are more heavily policed will likely face the brunt of these regulations. In particular communities made up predominately of low-income earners and people of color will be more at risk of being disarmed.

Most intrusively, as Hoya notes, this executive action would create exceptions for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) which often keeps, “…the prying minds of anyone who randomly wants to know what STI’s or STD’s you have, when you’ve ever been prescribed psychiatric meds, etc.”

This violation of privacy could also open the way for employers and service providers to know more than mentally ill people want them to know. Perhaps they’ve taken anti-psychotics for the past few months but they’ve never been a danger to themselves or others. But the service provider in question may conflate these two things and deny them service, leading to a worsening of the individual’s mental health. And although Obama promises more funding for mental health services, details in the email are sparse. Does this mean more hospitals where abuse can happen all too easily? It’s true that prisons have become less in vogue to deal with the mentally ill, but what good is ridding ourselves of one confinement, only to replace it with another?

As Hoya notes, if we’re going to decrease the level of violence we should focus on the police and demilitarizing them. Estimates vary but according to Killed by Police‘s website around 1,200 individuals were killed by the police in 2015. And via The Guardian’s program The Counted 1,000 were murdered by mid-November while The Washington Post counted nearly 1,000 overall in 2015.

Regardless of the numbers, it’s clear that ending gun violence means starting with police violence. But it doesn’t stop there.

Ending gun violence is also about challenging notions of neuro-supremacy in this culture. One of which is the idea that people who aren’t neurotypical are somehow sharply inclined towards violence. This faulty premise leads to harassment of and violence against the mentally ill while justifying much of it under the law out of “necessity” and “safety”.

Let’s treat the mentally ill as the autonomous individuals they are, not scapegoats for the state.

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Letter To My Sikh Son: Be Proud of Your Identity


I agree with you that it’s a little ironic that we Sikhs are being mistaken for Muslims in the U.S. today, when the very idea behind our distinctive appearance was to distinguish us from Muslims and Hindus. I wish more people knew about the role of the Sikhs in the fight against the Mughal tyranny in 17th century India, and the sacrifices the Sikhs made to protect the common man’s right to practice their religion during Aurangzeb’s misguided attempts to convert the entire Mughal empire to Islam.

I wish people knew that when Guru Gobind Singhji prepared us for a life as saint-soldiers, sporting a turban and a beard and carrying arms, he made it clear that our fight was against tyranny and injustice, not against any particular religion or sect. 

I am glad you are aware of our proud history. The other day, when talking about the recent hate crimes against the Sikhs in the U.S., you observed, “This is not the time to say we are not Muslims.” I am proud of you for thinking like that. It’s every Sikh’s duty to help those of any religion or race who are weak and cannot defend themselves again injustice. 

But in order to do that, we have to come from a position of strength. While there are organizations fighting hate crimes and working to educate people, we can help by being strong and taking care of ourselves, and helping anybody else who cannot. One way of doing that today is to stand by the side of our Muslim friends.

The Sikh way of life is simple: work hard to earn an honest living, share what you have, and remember God. Our Gurus taught us to be fair, to respect others and their religions. Remember how after 9-11 we rushed to take down the khanda (the Sikh emblem) from our car so people won’t mistake it for an Iranian flag, and felt so bad about it afterwards? I remember doing something similar following the 1984 killings of the Sikhs in India. Maybe it’s time we stop rushing to prove whatever it is we are trying to prove by such acts. It’s time to stop living in fear. Yes, we are not Muslims, but we don’t need to go around announcing it to appease hate mongers looking for a soft target.

So today, even as I join your mother in asking you to be careful when you are out on the road and avoid getting into an argument over religion, I also want you to remember that we are warriors, and must always be ready to fight any bully when all means of a peaceful resolution have failed.

I am happy you are strong in your faith. I’m sure you’ll have questions from time to time. Please don’t hesitate to ask them. 

Love,
Papa

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Consumer Scams in 2015: A Year-End Review


The Federal Trade Commission and its consumer watchdog partners closed 2015 by shutting down alleged fraud in high-complaint categories such as debt collection, home shopping, and services related to employment and immigration.

This is a seven-city digest of initiatives that the FTC, the Better Business Bureau, and state authorities launched or completed in December to halt these kinds of consumer fraud – scams that often victimize immigrants and communities of color.

Seattle, WA: False advertising by “notarius”

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson capped a 2015 campaign against immigration services fraud by filing a lawsuit against a company for allegedly taking advantage of people seeking the legal right to live and work in the country. The lawsuit says the defendant has no law degree and no staff but published at least 73 advertisements as “notarius” offering immigration services in Russian-language publications.

The Russian word notarius literally translates to ‘notary’ in English but it has a different meaning to people from Russian-speaking regions, “where one must be an attorney or complete advanced legal training to become a notary,” the lawsuit says.

“A similar linguistic accident is often taken advantage of by scammers targeting Spanish-speaking communities,” the attorney general said, noting that many Latinos believe notarios or notarios públicos can serve as lawyers. Other communities, “including North and West African, Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese and Ukrainian immigrants, have also been targeted,” he added.

Los Angeles, CA: Mortgage modification scammers

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) obtained a settlement from a federal district court in Los Angeles that bans four “mortgage modification scammers” from offering relief services, resolving charges that they deceived homeowners facing foreclosure.

The settlements stem from an FTC complaint against HOPE Services and HAMP Services, which are based in Lake Forest, in Orange County. Pretending to be a “nonprofit” with government ties, HOPE and HAMP stole the mortgage payments of consumers who were promised mortgage modifications, deceptions that contributed to homeowner foreclosures and bankruptcies, the FTC said.

The settlement order requires the owners of the companies to pay a judgment of more than $2.7 million, the amount consumers paid.

“These rip-off artists took struggling homeowners’ last dollars, but we’ve shut down their destructive and illegal schemes,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Now, in addition to financial judgments, the court has permanently banned them from the industries and practices they exploited.”

New York, NY: Defrauding envelope stuffers

At the request of the FTC, a New York court recently halted a nationwide work-at-home envelope-stuffing scam that took more than $7 million in upfront fees from tens of thousands of consumers. Under these schemes, companies offer lucrative compensation to those willing to pay up-front fees to receive materials that are to be placed in envelopes and mailed.

Many of the victims were promised payment of $20 for each “Get Credit Now” booklet they mailed. Of those who agreed to the terms, only 10 percent of consumers received any payment at all, and their total average earnings were $19.50, far less than the $99 to $399 they had to pay up-front to participate, the FTC said. According to the FTC complaint, the scammers operated under a number of business names – among them is Capital Enterprises Inc.

Cleveland, OH: Bogus job offers

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) in Cleveland is warning area residents that scammers are preying on people who are conducting job searches or posting their resumes on the internet. In recent weeks, consumers have reported a “steady stream” of such fraud, the Cleveland BBB office said.

“BBB continues to investigate bogus job offers that are victimizing hopeful job seekers,” the Cleveland office said in a statement on its website. “While some of the scammers concoct business names … others mimic legitimate companies based here and abroad. Addresses provided by the bogus companies either do not exist or are actual addresses at which the scammer is not really located.”

The Cleveland BBB office said an Ohio State University student, for example, told its investigators that he found an ad on a website job board offering compensation for mailing material to the company’s agents throughout the U.S. Instead of responding to the offer via the internet link, the student found a phone number for the company referenced in the ad. When he called the company, he learned that the business had not posted the ad and that the offer was a scam.

Chicago, IL: Debt collection fraud

Another scam – debt collection fraud – was halted recently when lawyers at the FTC’s Midwest regional office obtained an order from a federal court in Chicago, banning the activities of a Canadian-based company that billed community-based organizations such as churches, medical offices and retirement homes under a Yellow Pages advertisement scam. Under the court order, the company must pay $1.2 million to reimburse victims.

Using a variety of business names, the FTC said the defendants sent medical practices, churches, and retirement homes invoices with the familiar “walking fingers” image seeking $480.95 for a one-year directory listing that the victims did not request.

“When consumers ignored the invoices, the defendants sent collection warnings demanding payment of more than $2,000,” the FTC said. “When consumers still refused to pay, the defendants sent threatening notices, posing as a third-party debt collector.”

Houston, TX: Bogus e-commerce

The Better Business Bureau in Houston is issuing warnings about bogus e-mails from scam artists posing as retail chains or e-commerce companies such as Amazon or eBay.

“The e-mails claim there is a ‘wrong transaction’ and you are prompted to click the refund link,” the Houston BBB office says. “You are then asked to complete a form with personal information that can be sold to cyber criminals.”

Atlanta, GA: Ponzi scheme for gifts

A new gift-related scam is also the focus of an alert from the BBB office in Atlanta, which cites a “gift exchange” that is actually a pyramid scheme. The BBB office said: “You spot a friend’s post on your Facebook or Instagram feed. It’s inviting you to join a gift exchange, and it sounds like a great deal. If you buy one $10 gift for a stranger, you will receive as many as 36 gifts back … The idea is that you send money (or a gift) to the person at the top of the list, cross them off, add your name to the bottom and send the list to more friends. However, the scheme relies on constantly recruiting new participants, making it mathematically impossible to sustain.”

If you believe you have been defrauded, call the FTC at 1-877-382-4357 or report it at the FTC website at www.ftc.gov/complaint.

This column is part of New America Media’s joint project with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). For more information about how to avoid fraud and scams, go to: consumer.ftc.gov.

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President Obama Signs Executive Order to Curb Gun Violence


By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — Newtown resident Mark Barden took the podium in the East Room at the White House on Tuesday to mark a special occasion that was somewhat rooted in the deadly Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting on Dec. 14, 2012.

 
On that cold winter’s day in a tony suburb in Connecticut, Barden’s seven-year son, Daniel, was among 20 first-graders who were shot to death. That’s because Adam Lanza walked into the Newtown elementary school and opened fire on those children and six adults, including his mother. Then Lanza shot himself.

 
Mass shootings has become one of the most polarizing debates since the 1999 Columbine shooting. Since then, more than 30,000 lives have  been lost to gun violence.

 
“As a nation we have to do better,” Barden said before he introduced President Barack Obama. Barden is managing director of the Sandy Hook Promise, one of several groups that have been pressing Congress to pass laws to require background checks.

 
Obama’s executive order comes about three years after his administration sought a resolution to end mass shootings in America. Since the Columbine shooting in 1999, there have been more than 25 mass shootings in suburban towns.

 
Obama said that his latest executive order is one in a series of executive actions to tighten up steps that are already in place to curb gun violence.

 
“The United States of America is not the only country on Earth with violent or dangerous people. We are not inherently more prone to violence,” Obama said. “But we are the only advanced country on Earth that sees this kind of mass violence erupt with this kind of frequency. It doesn’t happen in other advanced countries.”

 
In April 2013 in the Rose Garden Barden was with Obama to announce a bill that was eventually blocked by some members of Congress.

 
This latest effort aims to, among other things, expand background checks to guns sold online and at trade shows, add more than 230 FBI employees to process background checks, call for 400 million increase in funding for mental health care, and call for $500 million increase in funding for mental health care.

 

Congressman John B. Larson (D-CT) applauded Obama’s move on gun violence.

 

“The most patriotic thing we can do is vote. With respect to universal background checks on gun purchases, the U.S. House of Representatives has failed to fulfill its constitutional obligation and vote—even in the aftermath of Sandy Hook and countless other tragedies,” said Rep.Larson (CT-01). “It is no wonder President Obama has acted where Congress has not. I applaud the President for taking a stand, but I will continue to call for the House to do its job and take up legislation that has broad, bipartisan support.

 
This move marks what will be a series of executive actions by Obama. That’s because the Democrats lost the majority of the Senate in the 2014 election. Executive orders are not as potent as legislation.

 
This move, though, will make Obama fulfill his promise to help “curb gun violence in America,” said White House officials.

 
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy applauded this move.

 

“It’s time to step up – and we deeply appreciate the smart, commonsense steps the White House announced today,” Malloy said. “These actions will no doubt make a difference and make our communities safer.”

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Immigrant Rights Groups Denounce Deportation Plans


A coalition of immigrant, civil and human rights organizations and faith leaders is calling on the U.S. government to halt plans to deport hundreds of Central American women and children fleeing violence and upheaval in their home countries. Immigrant rights advocates will announce a national campaign to condemn the plan at a press conference on Tuesday.

“It is obscene, shocking, and outrageous for this Administration to be planning the deportation of innocent families who are fleeing violence and persecution in the countries of origin. This plan is heinous and once deported, women and children could face violence and even death,” said Angelica Salas, executive director of Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA).

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Mass Shootings and the Media: What Is Terrorism?


Burguan did not answer those questions during a press conference Wednesday evening after the alleged assailants were killed in a shoot out with officers. Hours later, law enforcement officials released the supposed shooters’ names — Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik.

A variation of Farouk’s name had been circling in the conservative blogasphere after it was heard on a police scanner. The “Arabic-sounding” name fueled anti-Arab and Muslim sentiments hours before the actual name was officially released. As of Thursday morning, police said the motive of the attack remains unknown.

Anticipation surrounding the identity of the suspects on Wednesday was directly linked to one question: Is it terrorism?

Five days earlier, Robert L. Dear Jr. killed three people at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs. Police said he rambled about “baby parts” during the rampage. Dear, described as “deeply religious,” seemed to have a political agenda against abortions. But few in the mainstream media described him as a terrorist.

In progressive circles, Dear was called a terrorist. But mainstream media dismissed the “terrorism” charge early on.

Dear’s “white privilege” spared him the label, comedian and activist Amer Zahr said.

What is terrorism?

In San Bernardino, the terrorism question surfaced almost immediately after the shooting.

According to a New York Times report, there have been 209 mass shootings that killed or injured four or more people so far this year.

The federal government defines terrorism as violence intended to intimidate a civilian population; or acts aimed at influencing government policies by coercion.

The U.S. Code cites mass destruction, assassination and kidnapping for political motives on American soil as examples of domestic terrorism.

However, in the media and even sometimes in the legal realm, terrorism is perceived exclusively as Islamist jihadism and linked to the assailants’ race and religion.

After the Paris terrorist attacks last month, Fox News’ Shannon Bream wondered about the attackers’ skin color.

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In France, President Obama and Putin Discuss Syria


By Ann-Marie Adams I The Hartford Guardian

FRANCE — While in Paris at the United Nations’ Climate Summit on Monday, President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the crisis in Syria, according to White House officials.

Obama said it was imperative to go after militants in Syria but should not focus only on military attacks against rebel groups that oppose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to reports.

“The two presidents discussed the imperative of making progress on the Vienna process to bring about a ceasefire and political resolution to the civil war in Syria,” the official said, referring to international talks in the Austrian capital on the Syria crisis.

Reportedly, Obama told Putin he believed Assad must leave power as part of that transition. Both leaders also said that their foreign ministers will continue to work on the diplomatic process.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration announced in September that it has agreed to accept up to 10,000 refugees from the Syrian crisis, which stemmed from a wave of ethnic cleansing by Iran. So far, only 1,500 Syrians have been accepted into the United States since 2011. However, 31 governors said  they will not accept any of those refugees into their state.

In his remarks opening the General Assembly, Ban Ki Moon bluntly called on five countries in particular — the USA, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey — to come collaborate on a single plan of action for Syria.

Getty Images

Getty Images

Obama in a recent speech at the United Nations made the case that the world should intervene in  Syria’s War. He said the intervention is justified to punish Assad for using chemical weapons. In the same speech, he also accused Russia and Iran of propping up Assad.

“It’s time for Russia and Iran to realize that insisting on Assad’s rule will lead to the outcome they fear,” he said,

At the Climate Summit, Putin rebuffed an open dialogue about Syria with Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. However, Putin have forwarded a plan to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in part because the UNGA “provides a focal point for diplomacy to proceed.”

Davutoglu said his country and the European Union are paying the price for the “failure” of the UN system to solve the crisis in Syria, which has refugees entering through the Turkey’s border.

The Obama administration has been pushing for a strongly worded resolution that backs an agreement that includes strong penalties for non-compliance.

Russia wants to avoid giving the US an excuse to attack Syria.

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