Augusta County Schools Didn't Receive A Threat, But Called Off Classes Anyway
Just days after the Los Angeles Unified School District kept more than 600,000 kids home over what turned out to be a fake terror threat, officials of the 10,000-student Augusta County District in Virginia closed every school in the district on Friday (Dec. 18) in response to the harsh backlash over a teacher's homework assignment on Islam. "While there has been no specific threat of harm to students, schools and school offices will be closed Friday," a school official said. The simple drawing assignment at Riverheads High School had students copying religious calligraphy that translated into the basic Islamic statement of faith (known as the shahada), "There is no god but Allah, and Mohammad is the messenger of Allah." The assignment drew angry calls and emails demanding the teacher's firing and claims from parents that it was an attempt to covert their children to Islam. The Virginia Dept. of Education and Superintendent both reviewed the assignment and said it didn't violate the students' rights or run afoul of state standards.
Sanders Campaign Smacked Down Over Data Breach
The Democratic National Committee accused Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' campaign of illegally accessing confidential voter information belonging to Hillary Clinton's camp. As punishment, the DNC cut Sanders access to his master list of Democratic voters. According to the Washington Post, during a software update on Wednesday, a window opened into "proprietary information from other campaigns," a breach the Sanders camp blamed on a DNC-hired software vendor; Sanders' data director was fired over the breach. Sanders' campaign reportedly never downloaded or printed any of the data, but the DNC is currently blocking the campaign from getting access to its voter data until it can prove all evidence of the Clinton information has been destroyed. Clinton's camp has not commented so far. The bad news came with some great news, as Sanders has passed the 2 million donations hurdle and got two huge endorsements from the Communications Workers of America (700,000 members) and Democracy for America.
Two Arrested For Ties To ISIS, Including Heavily Armed Pennsylvania Teen
One of the first Americans to be accused of recruiting for ISIS, 31-year-old Rochester, New York, pizza shop owner Mufid Elfgeeh, admitted in court on Thursday that he helped arrange travel and funding and hosted one recruit who he put in touch with an Islamic-state contact in Iraq. Elfgeeh pleaded guilty in federal court to two counts of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization under a plea agreement that could land him a 22.5 year sentence. Federal agents arrested Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, resident Jalil Ibn Ameer Aziz on Thursday and charged the 19-year-old with attempting to aid the Islamic State by spreading recruitment propaganda on his 57 ISIS-themed Twitter accounts. The criminal complaint also noted that Aziz had a large weapons cache, including: "a tactical-style backpack in his closet, which contained high-capacity weapons magazines, ammunition, a knife, and other survival items...five loaded M4-style high-capacity magazines [and] a modified kitchen knife."
Quick Take: In a three-count criminal complaint against Enrique Marquez, 24, the man accused of helping San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook, the government claims that Marquez and Farook also plotted to "launch pipe bombs into the cafeteria of Riverside City College, shooting people as they fled, and to open fire on drivers on the 91 Freeway during rush hour." Marquez was charged with conspiring with Farook in 2011 and 2012 to commit crimes of terrorism and unlawfully purchasing two assault rifles used in the San Bernardino massacre, as well as defrauding immigration officials by entering into a phony marriage.