Palestinians are flying ‘fire balloons’ into Israeli territory, report says

Palestinian protestors are sending flaming helium balloons into Israeli territory during the “March of Return” protests in Gaza, following similar stories last month of burning “incendiary kites” being flown and injuring protestors.

The tactic has resulted in thousands of acres of valuable farm land and nature preserves being burned, the Times of Israel reported.

The helium balloons outfitted with flaming material attached to a long string have been used for at least the last month and a half, but the tactic has more recently picked up traction. Approximately 4,300 acres of land have already been burned as a result of more than 250 fires during the last two months from both balloons and kites.

For now, the Israeli military says that it has yet to come up with a way to combat the threat of the flaming objects. Originally, a pilot program utilizing drones to shoot down the objects was in practice, but ultimately deemed a failure, Israel’s Kan TV said. Instead, Israel must resort to preparedness and a rapid response when fires do break out.

The biggest problem, authorities said, is that the fires have destroyed valuable farm land along with more than half of Isreal’s nature reserves. Farmers are tasked with digging out borders surrounding the fires in order to starve the flames out and save some of the land, and around 2,470 acres of parks and natural reserves have also been destroyed just in the last few weeks.

On Saturday, some 74 acres of the Carmia nature reserve burned in one of the largest individual fires since the start of the protests. The damage claimed one-third of the park’s total land area, and Israel’s Hadashot news reported that the blaze was likely started by a fire balloon.

Approximately 620 acres of Jewish National Fund forests have also burned, according to a spokesperson for the organization.

The fires will likely cost Israel millions of dollars in damages, with the Tax Authority estimating that the farmland alone will need more than $1.4 million to recover. The money will be paid out from the government’s fund for damage caused by terrorist activity.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also announced that the government would withhold funds from the Palestinian Authority to cover the costs. The decision was met with some criticism by analysts who pointed out that the PA does not control the Gaza Strip, and punishing the PA for Hamas’ actions would likely encourage Hamas to continue with its fire-enduing tactics rather than stopping them.

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Washington State Woman Sentenced For Straw Buy

Contrary to what many people think, the typical gun rights advocate doesn’t want to put an AR-15 into everyone’s hands. There are people we tend to agree are off-limits. Someone found to have mental illness to where they can’t be trusted with a gun, for example, is someone most of us don’t want to see armed. The others typically are just uncomfortable with the idea that someone can lose a right because of what a doctor says more than actually supporting dangerous people having guns.

Another group we prefer disarmed are felons, as a general rule.

Which is why I, for one, am happy to see this woman taken off the streets.

Longview Woman who Purchased Guns for Violent Felon Sentenced to a Year in Prison

The Felon, an Avowed Violent White Supremacist, Killed Three People in July 2016

          A Longview, Washington woman was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to one year in prison and three years of supervised release for abetting a felon in possession of a firearm and making a false statement during the purchase of firearm, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes.  ANDREA SIBLEY, 29, lied on federal forms and purchased at least nine firearms for her boyfriend, Brent Luyster.  Luyster, is an avowed violent white supremacist who shot and killed three people, and shot a fourth woman in the face in Woodland, Washington in July 2016.  SIBLEY was convicted in state court of rendering criminal assistance in connection with those murders.  At the sentencing hearing today U.S. District Judge Benjamin H. Settle said, “Guns are being used to take lives of innocent people at an alarming rate.  So it is a serious crime when a person is helping someone who shouldn’t have guns get guns…. [You] had to know someone was going to get hurt by these firearms but that did not deter you.”

“This defendant lied repeatedly to provide multiple powerful firearms to a man with a horrible history of violence,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes.  “Each time she walked into a gun store and lied she let herself become part of a terrible crime.  We will hold accountable all those who fail to comply with the laws meant to keep guns out of the hands of prohibited and dangerous persons.”

According to records filed in the case, in May 2016, Luyster and SIBLEY invited Luyster’s ex-girlfriend to visit their Longview home.  Luyster assaulted the ex-girlfriend, pistol whipping her and firing shots at her as she ran from the home.  The ex-girlfriend escaped, and SIBLEY left the home with her son and the ex-girlfriend’s son in her car.  When stopped by police, SIBLEY denied knowing about any gunshots or violence.  When deputies arrived at the home they heard gunshots from the wooded area behind the house and ultimately got Luyster to surrender.  The deputies found three firearms near where Luyster had been – a semi-automatic rifle, a .40 handgun and a shotgun.  Six more firearms were inside the home.  ATF agents determined that SIBLEY had purchased all of the firearms using her parent’s address, making false statements on the purchase forms.

Luyster was charged with assault, reckless endangerment and unlawful possession of a firearm.  On June 7, 2016, his bail was reduced and he was released based in part on a letter SIBLEY wrote on his behalf.  Just over a month later, on July 15, 2016, Luyster killed three people and injured a fourth at the home in Woodland.  The firearm used in those murders has never been found.

“Andrea Sibley’s criminal conduct during which she purchased the firearms for a convicted felon and white supremacist led directly to three tragic murders,” said ATF Seattle Field Division Special Agent in Charge Darek Pleasants.  “While our heartfelt condolences go out to the families of those lost due to this criminal conduct, ATF is proud to have been able to work alongside our partner agencies to identify and bring Sibley to justice.”

The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Bruce Miyake.

Basically, this woman took the worst of the worst people imaginable and helped him buy a gun. This same maniac then murdered three people while out on bail, apparently. Probably with a weapon she helped him to obtain that wasn’t found by police.

Frankly, a year isn’t nearly enough time in prison for this kind of thing.

While her status as a felon will keep her from purchasing new guns for other felons, it still is a case of her breaking the law to enable a violent individual to be even more violent.

Don’t get me wrong, I have little doubt he’d have found another way to obtain guns, it doesn’t matter. She knowingly broke the law to obtain guns for a violent felon who she knew intended more violence. So far as I’m concerned, she’s culpable. A year is a drop in the bucket.

The upside, though, is that at least she was caught and punished, so there’s that.

The post Washington State Woman Sentenced For Straw Buy appeared first on Bearing Arms.

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Gun Owners Of America Issues Statement On Santa Fe Shooting

What happened Friday was awful. Unfortunately, because a firearm was used, we’ll inevitably continue to debate the tools used rather than the mentality behind such attacks.

It’s also because of this that gun rights organizations need to speak out in the aftermath of such an attack. Friday, Gun Owners of American issued a statement about the attack.

Gun Owners of America Statement on Santa Fe, Texas Shooting

Springfield, VA – Executive Director of Gun Owners of America (GOA) Erich Pratt stated the following after the tragic shooting at the high school in Santa Fe, Texas:

“Everyone at GOA grieves with those who lost loved ones. Our prayers go out for families of those affected. It’s heartbreaking to see innocent lives lost.

“Sadly, the media is focused on this shooting, and they continue to do so because they will use it to advance their gun control agenda. Some outlets are continuing to cite the fake number of mass shootings in 2018, which was refuted by The Washington Post after the tragic Parkland shooting.

“The mainstream media has ignored potential mass shootings that were stopped by armed personal, such as the school resource officers who stopped shooters in Maryland and Illinois.

“GOA remains firmly committed to protecting our Second Amendment rights and urges Congress to pass the ‘Safe Students Act’ to repeal gun-free schools, and for Texas to pass Constitutional Carry.”

Now, part of the reason the media focused on the shooting is because of the old news adage, “If it bleeds, it leads.” A school shooting will always draw media attention, and part of that is because people want to know what happened. That’s not going to change, even if the media suddenly did a 180 on guns.

That said, it was almost as if the media was salivating at another school shooting, only to be visibly disappointed that the weapon wasn’t an AR-15, not to mention that none of the anti-gun proposals being floated around would have done one thing to stop this shooting.

It’s not surprising, though. Let’s be honest, we all know the current proposals on the table are useless. This shooting illustrated just how little they would do to prevent school shootings. And by “little,” I mean “jack squat.”

The problem is something deeper into the psychology of these shootings. Luckily, we have a handful of mass shooters who surrendered. We need a psychological study of these people to begin to delve into their pathology. We know that blaming the guns is stupid. However, blaming nebulous concepts as “mental illness” is useless, too. There are millions of students suffering from things like depression who would never even raise a finger to hurt their fellow students.

No, we need to understand what makes these people tick, what the common factors are, and continue to build a profile while trying to find ways to curtail these horrible crimes. The more we can learn, the more we can stop these attacks from happening.

In the meantime, let’s remember that it was a couple of good guys with guns that wounded the attacker and ultimately convinced him to surrender.

The post Gun Owners Of America Issues Statement On Santa Fe Shooting appeared first on Bearing Arms.

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George Washington boys lacrosse falls in state finals

Another trip to the West Virginia Scholastic Lacrosse Association Division I state title game left the George Washington boys team one win short of the crown. Lightning delays lengthened the night for the Patriots and University High, and ultimately …

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20 Great Quotes on Artificial Intelligence

If one ascribes to the theory that humans became the dominant species on Earth largely due to having the highest intellectual abilities, then what happens when artificial intelligence exceeds that of human intelligence ? If technological singularity is achieved, will it be the inflection point that will ultimately lead to improvement of the human condition? Or is there reason to fear that AI will lead to a dystopian future with artificially intelligent robots and machines running amok as fictionalized by films such as The Matrix , Blade Runner , The Terminator , and 2001: A Space Odyssey , and the science-fiction television series Westworld ? Here are twenty of the best quotes on artificial intelligence from notable thinkers.

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Commentary: Amazing what radical leftists and Islamists have in common. And they’re bringing it here

Maybe it’s simply fortuitous convenience or maybe it’s a Tarantino-esque black comedy, but it’s amazing how much radical leftists and radical Islamists have in common with each other. It’s not a suggestion that the two movements secretly communicate with each other via cipher messages from underground command bunkers, but it’s impossible to miss how much their ideology often calls for the same things.

Let’s take a cruise through some of these similarities. Leftists want socialism to reign supreme via an all powerful controlling government. Islamists want the exact same thing. Just replace the words “Democratic Socialist president” with “Caliph.” Exchange “Socialist Republic” with the word “Caliphate.” One uses a distorted and modified Constitution while the other just calls it Sharia Law. Add it all together and you get the same result. A socialist fantasy world under the direction of an oppressive government.

To achieve all this, both Islamists and leftists are willing to weaponize a laundry list of like-minded causes and tactics.

Just look at progressive border policy. Open borders benefit both movements in one profound way — it’s prelude to chaos. Consider Europe right now: Terrorist organizations from all over are using the European Union’s progressive border policies to wreak havoc all over the continent. They want the chaos. They want a heavy-handed response. When the eventual crackdown comes, probably by a right-wing-leaning government, Islamist clerics will call on jihadis from all across the globe to unite.

What do you think progressives intend to get out of their open-border policies — besides votes? What do you expect to get from allowing thousands upon thousands of unchecked and unscreened immigrants to pour across the border? Like in Europe, it’s a security nightmare. But the key ultimately is weaponizing the eventual heavy-handed response.

It’s the same result expected from the so-called “migrant caravans” from South America. People like George Soros know full well what the response will be when hundreds — or even thousands — of migrants reach our southern border. There’s no way the vast majority of them will be granted access, but that’s not the point. The point is to sit back and watch the media firestorm as the U.S. Border Patrol and National Guard stare down, and — God forbid — respond with force.

This was on full display this week in Israel. While the negative headlines flowed in like a tsunami focusing on Israel’s defense of the Gaza border, another protest was kicking off simultaneously — this time with leftists — smack dab in the middle of downtown Jerusalem. Did anyone in the media report on that?

Faithwire’s Dan Andros and I were on assignment in Jerusalem this week and quickly ran out to cover the left-wing protest.

What we found was similar rhetoric used by Hamas in Gaza, but these anti-Israel sentiments weren’t coming from Hamas terrorists, they were coming from the youth wing of a global progressive alliance. Coincidentally, but not really, that’s exactly the name of this global group — the Progressive Alliance. They’re also aligned with the Party of European Socialists. When asked who was organizing and leading the protest, they were quick to admit it.

Most of the protesters in attendance were members of the Israeli Labor Party youth wing or Young Workers Party, also called the “Young Guard.” We also spoke to protesters who had flown in from as far away as Canada, but it was easy to identify dozens of organizers from multiple foreign countries.

There’s a global movement, with very deep pockets, actively pursuing an aggressive progressive agenda. It’s interesting how both the leftists and the Islamists fully endorse an operation rooted in creating chaos. If we don’t learn to identify and combat it in places like Israel, we’re in for a rude awakening once these tactics are deployed on our own borders or in our own streets.

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Seattle’s Idiotic Tax on Amazon

The tyranny of local government was on full display this week. The culprits are some greedy members of the Seattle City Council. Backed by their union friends, they just voted to impose a “head tax” on large employers, such as Amazon and Starbucks. The real victims, of course, will be the companies’ employees.

Thanks to Seattle’s many thriving businesses, its revenue base has been growing much faster than its population. Unfortunately, the City Council is doing what it does best and, rather than look into streamlining and cutting its ineffective spending programs in order to combat Seattle’s homeless problem, is looking for fresh cash. Seeing as large companies have it, the council set out to take it.

The result is the so-called head tax on Seattle businesses that gross at least $20 million annually. According to The Seattle Times, 585 businesses in the city will be subject to the tax. Not surprisingly, the tech giant Amazon is expected to pay the most under the tax. The initial proposal was for a $500 tax per employee, which, in Amazon’s case, would have meant an added $20 million in labor costs. Thanks to a veto threat from the mayor, the council reduced its tax grab to $275 per employee.

When the tax was initially proposed, the company announced that under those circumstances, it was going to pause construction planning for a new giant office tower on its new downtown campus. If you employed 40,000 people and realized that you might always be the target of revenue-addicted bureaucrats, you might do the same. But those who constantly lust over other people’s money have no shame. A union-backed activist group named Working Washington immediately called for—wait for it—Amazon to be charged with a felony for the crime of “intimidating a public servant.” Simply questioning whether its business expansion in Seattle would be a good idea in the face of an arbitrary and substantial increase of its labor costs was the alleged crime.

Of course, what Amazon did is no different from what many taxpayers do when taxes increase to cover poor money management. I, for instance, am in the process of deciding whether I really want to continue offering my home through Airbnb now that Arlington County, Virginia, requires a business license to rent a room in one’s own home, a 7.25 percent tax and filing a monthly tax return for the unit.

Thank goodness, in Seattle, the state’s attorney general stepped in and informed everyone that no crime had been committed and no legal action would be taken. Basically, it isn’t illegal yet in Seattle to contemplate the best path for your business when the taxman comes after you. But a statement by a Working Washington spokesman should trouble the company, as it’s an indication that this is only the beginning. It reads: “It is extraordinary that Amazon’s subprime mob boss behavior was so brutal it ignited a citywide debate over whether it was actually criminal. All that because the richest man in the world wants to try to avoid stepping up to address our city’s homelessness crisis.”

There’s no point talking about all the ways that statement is shocking and over-the-top scary. But it’s worth noting that Amazon does its share when it comes to filling the Seattle treasury’s coffers through its business and sales taxes, the income taxes paid by its 40,000 employees (up from 5,000 in 2010) and the real estate taxes they all pay. And never mind that Amazon has donated half of a six-story building to a homeless shelter, according to The New York Times, “providing it with 47,000 square feet of space with private rooms that can hold 65 families, or about 220 people and their pets.”

Besides, this head tax won’t be paid by Amazon. Companies don’t pay taxes. People ultimately pay taxes. That means that this tax will come out of the wages of future employees, the bonuses and wage growth of current employees, the dividends of shareholders, and the pockets of customers, who will face higher prices. It could also lead to the longer-term decision by Amazon to shrink its Seattle operation for the benefit of its second headquarters, the location of which is still being decided. Other cities should take note. Don’t repeat Seattle’s mistake.

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“Black identity extremist” jailed for anti-police brutality Facebook posts speaks out

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File

This article originally appeared on Raw Story

rawlogoThe first known “black identity extremist” jailed after making pro-black and anti-police brutality Facebook posts has spoken out following his release from jail.

In an interview with The Guardian, activist Rakem Balogun discussed the ways in which the government’s surveillance of his political activity were a form of “tyranny.”

Balogun, who co-founded the revolutionary black power group Guerilla Mainframe and Huey P. Newtown Gun Club that promotes black gun ownership, was arrested in the middle of the night by the FBI in December 2017 after being surveilled for more than two years for what the government considered anti-police sentiments.

During Balogun’s trial, special agent Aaron Keighley testified that the government first became aware of a March 2015 rally the activist participated in from an Infowars video about it.

“They’re using a conspiracy theorist video as a reason to justify their tyranny?” Balogun said. “That is a big insult.”

In court, the agent cited Facebook posts Balogun made saying murdered police officers “deserve what they got” in justifying the bureau’s middle-of-the-night arrest that left the activist and his 15-year-old son freezing in just pajamas in December, but ultimately admitted they had no evidence he was planning on attacking police.

“They were really desperate,” Balogun said of his arrest where his guns and books about black self-defense were seized. “This is pretty much like Stalin 1950 – ‘You show me the man. I show you the crime.’”

In his one-count indictment, federal prosecutors alleged Balogun — whose legal name is Christopher Daniels — was not allowed to own firearms “due to a 2007 misdemeanor domestic assault case in Tennessee.” A judge ruled in the beginning of May that the law did not apply, effectively killing the government’s case against Balogun that had uprooted his life and led to him losing his home.

“Since his release one week ago, Balogun has also been forced to confront the harsh reality of life post-incarceration,” the report noted. “He lost his vehicle, job and home; his son was forced to move and transfer schools and Balogun missed much of the first year of his newborn daughter’s life.”

“It’s tyranny at its finest,” the 34-year-old told the Guardian. “I have not been doing anything illegal for them to have surveillance on me. I have not hurt anyone or threatened anyone.”

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