Last evening, the State Department issued a rare worldwide travel warning ahead of one of the busiest travel weekends of the year.
Below is the message:
The State Department alerts U.S. citizens to possible risks of travel due to increased terrorist threats. Current information suggests that ISIL (aka Da’esh), al-Qa’ida, Boko Haram, and other terrorist groups continue to plan terrorist attacks in multiple regions. These attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics, using conventional and non-conventional weapons and targeting both official and private interests. This Travel Alert expires on February 24, 2016.
Authorities believe the likelihood of terror attacks will continue as members of ISIL/Da’esh return from Syria and Iraq. Additionally, there is a continuing threat from unaffiliated persons planning attacks inspired by major terrorist organizations but conducted on an individual basis. Extremists have targeted large sporting events, theatres, open markets, and aviation services. In the past year, there have been multiple attacks in France, Nigeria, Denmark, Turkey, and Mali. ISIL/Da’esh has claimed responsibility for the bombing of a Russian airliner in Egypt.
U.S. citizens should exercise vigilance when in public places or using transportation. Be aware of immediate surroundings and avoid large crowds or crowded places. Exercise particular caution during the holiday season and at holiday festivals or events. U.S. citizens should monitor media and local information sources and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities. Persons with specific safety concerns should contact local law enforcement authorities who are responsible for the safety and security of all visitors to their host country. U.S. citizens should:
- Follow the instructions of local authorities. Monitor media and local information sources and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities.
- Be prepared for additional security screening and unexpected disruptions.
- Stay in touch with your family members and ensure they know how to reach you in the event of an emergency.
- Register in our Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
Foreign governments have taken action to guard against terrorist attacks, and some have made official declarations regarding heightened threat conditions. Authorities continue to conduct raids and disrupt terror plots. We continue to work closely with our allies on the threat from international terrorism. Information is routinely shared between the United States and our key partners in order to disrupt terrorist plotting, identify and take action against potential operatives, and strengthen our defenses against potential threats.
Remember, before your travel outside of the United States, register your travel plans in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), so the US government knows your whereabouts in case in the unlikely event something were to happen.
Survivor-contestant-turned-The View–host-turned-news-anchor Elisabeth Hasselbeck has announced that she will be leaving Fox and Friends to spend more time with her family. The blonde-haired conservative will end her two-year run right before Christmas. Hasselback became the center of Internet fodder for her uninformed and often-extreme conservative opinions that included victim blaming Sandra Bland, demanding a test before voting, and her mumble-jumble understanding of the Middle East.
It wasn’t all bad, though. Hasselbeck famously backed same-sex marriage while she was still on The View. One of the few openly conservative TV personalities to say that believing in gay and lesbian marriage doesn’t run contradictory to her Republican values.
The HRC has filed a formal complaint with the IRS against the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) for violating federal law by refusing to disclose their 2014 Form 990s. Following their November 16 deadline, NOM is required by law to provide a copy of the organization’s Form 990s for the previous fiscal year on the same day any in-person request is made. For the third year in a row, HRC has made such a request at NOM offices and the organization has failed to comply, prompting HRC to file a complaint with the IRS in order to compel the disclosure of the documents.
According to analysis of the organization’s 2013 tax filings done by HRC, NOM raised $5.1 million in 2013, dropping by over 50% since 2012. Just 2 donors accounted for more than half of the organization’s funding – further evidence that everyday Americans have little interest in furthering NOM’s extremist agenda. In addition, the NOM Education Fund also showed a decrease of nearly $3.5 million in funding—a drop of almost 70% since the previous year. NOM ended the year more than $2.5 million in debt.
Last year, the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices voted unanimously to impose record civil penalties against NOM totaling $50,250. The Commission also directed NOM to file disclosure reports after a four-year investigation exposed “a significant violation of law” by the national anti-LGBT organization. The penalties were the largest ever imposed for a campaign finance violation in Maine history.
It has been a revealing week for Modern Family actor Reid Ewing, who plays Sarah Hyland’s boyfriend Dylan. The star wrote a piece in The Huffington Post describing a little-known problem called Body Dysmorphic Disorder. In the article he revealed that he went under the knife obsessively to change the way he looked. “My history with eating disorders and the cases of obsessive compulsive disorder in my family never came up. None of the doctors suggested I consult a psychologist for what was clearly a psychological issue…or warn me about the potential for addiction…The secrecy that surrounds cosmetic surgery keeps the unethical work practiced by many of these doctors from ever coming to light,” he wrote. “I think people often choose cosmetic surgery in order to be accepted, but it usually leaves them feeling even more like an outsider. We don’t hear enough stories about cosmetic surgery from this perspective,” he added.
In response to the article, Eugene Bata shared his similar struggles with BDD on ABC. In response Ewing took to social media.
Since 2006, Brussels-based Dinner in the Sky (www.dinnerinthesky.be) has redefined “haute cuisine” by hoisting guests around the globe sky-high by crane for gourmet meals prepared by Michelin-starred chefs. With daytime and nighttime cityscapes providing the dizzying décor for giddy gastronomy, this singular adventure illustrates how reinterpreting the culinary environment can add storylines and a narrative all its own. High-altitude, high-adrenaline dining that requires a harness and a waiver may not be for everyone, but uniquely inventive restaurant and bar design is a language that comes in many forms. From the Old World to the otherworldly, here are some diverse destinations for gourmandizing travelers with a taste for discovering what’s “out there.”
In a tribute to John Williams, the gay-fronted a capella group Pentatonix phenomenally captured the essence of the “Star Wars” theme. To celebrate his prolific composer’s achievements and next month’s release of The Force Awakens, the group used pure vocals and the backing of Williams’s orchestra to capture the renowned music.
“We just came out of rehearsal and it’s going to be epic,” beatboxer Kevin Olusola said when speaking to Rolling Stone. “It was really a collaboration with the orchestra. We were ecstatic when they asked us if we would be willing to work with John Williams’ orchestra. Our background is in choral music, so this felt like a chance to revisit and re-study certain classical techniques.”
Watch the video after the jump…
Thinking about taking Great Grandma Edna’s Thanksgiving Specialty Cranberry Sauce with you on board your flight this Thanksgiving? Think again. The TSA has released their list of holiday items to put in your checked bag, leave at home, or ship ahead. And number one on that list… cranberry sauce.
Other prohibited items include:
• Creamy dips and spreads (cheeses, peanut butter, etc.)
• Gift baskets with food items (salsa, jams, and salad dressings)
• Maple Syrup
• Oils and vinegars
• Salad dressing
• Snow globes
• Wine, liquor and beer
Note: You can bring pies and cakes through the security checkpoint, but please be advised that they are subject to additional screening. By additional screening they mean Uncle John’s Pumpkin Cheesecake is going to be break food for airport employees. [TSA]
Kim Davis has given Kentucky a bad name, and over 200 business are uniting to prove that the state is friendly and open for business for the LGBT community. Coming together to form the Kentucky Competitive Workforce Coalition, businesses are backing “long-stalled legislation aimed at protecting gay, bisexual and transgender Kentuckians from discrimination in the workplace, housing and public places,” according to Kentucky.com.
Besides the ethical advantages of passing such legislation, Kentucky hopes that equal protections will attract more businesses and more competitive workers.
“As we recruit the best and brightest from around the country, we need to show that we have the inclusive and competitive atmosphere where they want to live, where they want to work and they want to raise their families,” Sen. Morgan McGarvey, D-Louisville. said.
Eight cities within Kentucky have passed local ordinances that ban discrimination on sexual orientation.
Arguably the funniest skit from this week’s Saturday Night Live involves something many of us in America will be experiencing this Thursday. We all have at least one person at the Thanksgiving table who just can’t help his or herself from talking about polarizing issues.
Watch after the jump just how one girl saves her family…
From Ann Hampton Callaway, Tony-nominated actress and multi-platinum recording artist, comes The Hope of Christmas, a new collection of Christmas songs and holiday standards to-be.
Singing the lyrics of two-time Emmy Award winner William Schermerhorn, Callaway croons alongside 29 other jazz showstoppers, including Five Play, New York Voices, The Ted Rosenthal Trio, and others.
All proceeds from the sale of The Hope of Christmas go directly toward supporting the MCG Jazz Program in its mission to preserve, present and promote jazz. The album is available for purchase on Amazon, and wherever music is sold.
Listen to the album’s title song, below: