Category Archives: Breaking

John Kerry Arrives In Somalia For Unannounced Visit

He becomes the first U.S. Secretary of State to travel to the country, which has been hit by decades of conflict.

John Kerry arrived in Somalia Tuesday on an unannounced trip, making him the first U.S. Secretary of State to visit the country, according to the State Department.

John Kerry arrived in Somalia Tuesday on an unannounced trip, making him the first U.S. Secretary of State to visit the country, according to the State Department.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrives at the airport in Mogadishu, Somalia, May 5.

Andrew Harnik / AP

The visit is seen as a show of solidarity with Somalia's government as it attempts to defeat the Al Shabaab militant group and end the country's decades-long war.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the visit was designed “to reinforce the United States' commitment to supporting Somalia's ongoing transition to a peaceful democracy.”

In a video address to the Somali people, Kerry referred to the United States' ill-fated Black Hawk Down intervention in the country, which saw 18 Americans and hundreds of Somalis killed, AFP reported:

“More than 20 years ago, the United States was forced to pull back from your country. Now we are returning in collaboration with the international community and bearing high hopes but also mixed with ongoing concerns.”

Kerry landed in the capital, Mogadishu, at 12:00 p.m. local time (5 a.m. ET) with Linda Greenfield-Thomas, one of the State Department's top Africa officials. The Somali government only found out Monday that Kerry would be joining Greenfield-Thomas on the trip on Monday, the AP reported.

Kerry was greeted by Somalia's President and Prime Minister on the tarmac, before immediately entering into a series of meetings. He will not be venturing past the airport, due to the country's volatile security situation.

Kerry meets with President Hassan Sheikh Mohammed, second from right, and Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, right, at Mogadishu, May 5.

Andrew Harnik / AP

“I'm glad to be here,” Kerry said as he met President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.

As the pair sat down together, Mohamud said: “This is a great moment for us. Thank you for the time to be with us.”

“The next time I come, we have to be able to just walk downtown,” Kerry said, to which Mohamud responded that downtown Mogadishu “is very different now.”


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This Is The Woman Who Organized The Muhammad Cartoon Drawing Contest In Texas

Pamela Geller, a conservative blogger and founder of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, opposed the Ground Zero mosque, paid for anti-Islam ads on public transportation, and has written the book Stop the Islamization of America.

Conservative blogger and activist Pamela Geller organized the Muhammad Art Exhibit And Cartoon Contest In Texas, which was attacked by two gunmen on Sunday.

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Geller's organization, the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), held the contest in the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland where a conference denouncing Islamophobia had previously been held.

According to Geller, the contest and exhibit were in defense of free speech after the Charlie Hebdo attacks. Some critics of the event called it an attack on muslims, and many have criticized Geller and her organization overall as being anti-Islamic.

“These savages need to be held to account, and the West has to stop this pathetic cowardice and submission to barbarity,” she wrote in her blog, Atlas Shrugs. “They're just cartoons. Enough already.”

According to Geller,the online contest received 200 entries. These included a cartoon of Muhammad on a unicycle juggling heads spiked on the word Islam; one in which the Prophet was drawn holding a bloody knife with the caption, “When it comes to religion, I've got the edge;” another depicted him as the Piped Piper leading rats holding bombs and wearing suicide vests. The winning cartoonist received $10,000.

After the attack, in which both gunmen were killed by police officers, Geller wrote, “This is a war. This is war on free speech.”

Geller didn't return a request for comment from BuzzFeed News. One of the alleged shooters, Elton Simpson, was previously investigated by the FBI for terrorism charges. He was convicted of lying about his travel plans to Africa.

Geller, a single mother of four in New York, began blogging after 9/11 and was a vocal opponent of Park51, the Islamic cultural and prayer center with a planned location near Ground Zero.

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Geller, 56, grew up in a predominantly Jewish community in Long Island and left Hofstra University without a degree, according to a 2010 New York Times profile.

She began a career in publishing at the New York Daily News and was later the Associate Publisher at The New York Observer.

She got nearly $4 million in her 2007 divorce from car dealer Michael H. Oshry and another $5 million from a life-insurance policy for her four daughters after his death in 2008, the NYT reported.

Geller started her blog, Atlas Shrugs, in 2004. It attracted thousands of views in 2006 when it was one of the few media sites in the U.S. to reproduce the controversial Danish cartoons of Prophet Muhammad.

She rose to prominence as a conservative activist when she spearheaded the protests against Park51 – the Islamic cultural center and mosque with a planned location near Ground Zero. She called the center's developer, Sharif El-Gamal, a “thug” and “a deadbeat” and decried then-mayor Michael Bloomberg's argument that it was a testament to New York's religious tolerance. “The last chapter (of the Quran) which supersedes all chapters, is very violent chapter to kill all non-Muslims and to conquer,” she said, arguing that the religion of Islam was responsible for the 9/11 attacks.


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Tamir Rice’s Body Remains Unburied As Criminal Investigation Drags On

Tamir Rice

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Five months after a Cleveland police officer killed Tamir Rice, delays in the criminal investigation of the incident have left the boy's family unable to bury his body, according to a court document filed on Monday.

“Because it is unknown whether there may need to be an additional medical examination, the body of Tamir Rice has not been put to rest,” states the document, the Rice family's objection to the City of Cleveland's attempt to halt federal civil litigation while local law enforcement finishes its criminal investigation.

Rice died at the hands of police last November, after a passerby called 9/11 to alert the cops of a child in a park playing with a gun that was “probably fake.” Security video of the incident shows that the responding officer, Timothy Loehmann, shot Rice within seconds of arriving at the park.

Rice's gun was later determined to be a toy. He was 12 years old at the time of his death. After the incident it was revealed that Officer Loehmann had been found emotionally unstable when he worked for another Ohio police department.

A month after the shooting, the Cuyahoga County Sheriff took charge of the criminal investigation. In January, the Rice family filed a separate federal civil rights lawsuit against Officer Loehman, his partner Frank Garmback, and the City of Cleveland. The city then tried to get that lawsuit dismissed, drawing criticism for stating that Rice's death and had been “caused by his own actions.”

Now, the City of Cleveland is asking the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio to suspend the Rice family's federal civil rights lawsuit until the Cuyahoga sheriff completes the criminal investigation. On Monday, the family filed a formal objection to the city's motion of stay.

It Monday's filing, the family argued that “nothing in the Constitution requires a civil action to be stayed in the face of a pending or impending criminal indictment.” The objection also states that the Cuyahoga County Sheriff “has had no communication with the family of Tamir Rice concerning their investigation.”

The document also says that Rice's mother has been “forced to move to a homeless shelter because she could no longer live next door to the killing field of her son”

Speaking outside the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's office, Rice's family and their attorneys said that the delays in the criminal investigation, which is entering its fifth month, are inexcusable and have caused them great pain.

“Less than a second, my son is gone,” said Samaria Rice, Tamir's mother. “I want to know how long I have to wait for justice.”

“This criminal investigation has gone slower than molasses in the wintertime,” Walter Madison, the Rice family attorney, said in a press conference outside the office of the Cuyahoga County Sheriff.

The City of Cleveland did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

LINK: Everything We Know About The Tamir Rice Shooting Investigation

LINK: Cleveland Mayor Apologizes For The City’s Claims That Tamir Rice’s Own Actions Caused His Death

LINK: Cop Who Killed 12-Year-Old Described As Emotionally Unstable, “Dismal” With A Firearm

Two Gunmen Reportedly Identified In Texas Muhammad Drawing Contest Shooting

Elton Simpson, reportedly one of the two gunmen responsible for the shooting in Garland, Texas, was convicted of lying to federal agents in 2010. The second gunman has been identified as his roommate, Nadir Soofi.

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FBI officials identified one of the gunmen in the Texas attack as Phoenix-resident Elton Simpson, according to ABC News and the New York Times.

Simpson and another gunman, his roommate, identified by the Washington Post as Nadir Soofi, allegedly opened fire outside an event inviting people to draw the prophet Muhammad in Garland, Texas on Sunday.

In a press conference Monday morning, Garland Police Department, public information officer Joe Harn said that the two gunmen were at the exhibit, “To shoot people.”

Simpson, who was identified as an American Muslim, was indicted in January 2010 for making false statements to FBI agents. They claimed Simpson said he did not have plans to travel to Somalia despite an FBI informant recording a conversation indicating otherwise. The indictment also charged that the statement involved international and domestic terrorism, “for the purpose of engaging in violent jihad.”

Simpson waived his right to trial by jury and instead elected to have a bench trial. He was sentenced to three years probation.

Read the 2010 indictment against Elton Simpson:


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Incredible Video Shows A Hawaii Volcano Exploding As A Crater Wall Collapses

The wall of a crater on Kilauea Volcano collapsed Sunday, creating an explosion of lava.

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Since last week, the lava lake in Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano has been rising, and occasionally bubbling over into Halemaumau crater, which it resides in.

The lava lake has been seen splattering above the rim of Halemaumau crater, and rocks have been heard rumbling as the walls of the crater expand with heat.

On Sunday, a portion of the crater collapsed, triggering a fiery burst. Watch the amazing footage of the moment the explosion happened:

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Smith College Announces New Admission Policy To Allow Transgender Women

The largest of the all-female Seven Sister colleges is changing its policy to accept transgender women.

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The policy will take effect for students entering in the upcoming fall semester.

On campus last year there were a number of protests to admit transgender woman. The school came under fire after denying an application from a trans student, because she was not legally recognized as female by her home state.

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The college's statement said the new policy follows a year-long study.

“The mission of Smith College is to educate women of promise for lives of distinction. In the years since Smith's founding, concepts of female identity have evolved,” a statement from President Kathleen McCartney and Board of Trustees Chair Elizabeth Mugar Eveillard.

A statement from the nonprofit advocacy group GLAAD said it worked with Smith alumnae to encourage the college to “open its doors to all women.”

“No person should be denied an education simply because of who they are,” said GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis.

Other women's colleges, including Mount Holyoke and Wellesley, have recently changed their policies to admit transgender women.


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Puerto Rico Governor Signs Order To Legalize Medical Marijuana

Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla signed an executive order on Sunday to allow the use of medical marijuana in the U.S. territory.

Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla

Ricardo Arduengo / AP

Health secretary Dr. Ana Rius must now issue a report detailing how the order will be put into effect and what impact it will have on Puerto Rico. Rius has three months to issue the report.

Brennan Linsley / AP

Specific details about what conditions will qualify for medical marijuana and how people will be able to access the drug were not clear.

Jaime Perello, president of Puerto Rico's House of Representatives, said he supported the order, the Associated Press reported.

“It's a step in the right direction,” he said. “One of the benefits that patients say they receive the most is pain relief.”


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Gunmen Dead After Attack At Muhammad Art Exhibit And Cartoon Contest In Texas

A SWAT team had already been on hand to provide security at the event in Garland, Texas. Two gunmen were killed by police after a security officer was injured.

Media and a SWAT team were on hand before any violence took place; the event had drawn controversy as anti-Islam.

Media and a SWAT team were on hand before any violence took place; the event had drawn controversy as anti-Islam.

In spite of opposition, however, no protesters attended on Sunday. The event proceeded as scheduled until just before 7 p.m., the Dallas Morning News reported.

Nomaan Merchant / AP

According to city officials, two men drove up to the center and began shooting.

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They struck Garland Independent School District officer Bruce Joiner in the ankle, officials said. Garland police officers then returned fire, fatally shooting the two men.

The facility is owned by the school district, and its officers were assisting with security.

By Sunday night, Joiner had been released from the hospital.

“Our thoughts are with him and his family,” a school district statement said.

The area around the center and Naaman Forest High School remained under police security.

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