Baier Family Vacation

We know you have missed Bret his week--but not to worry because he will be back on Monday and ready for Special Report. Bret asked us to share a few of his vacation photos with you all and to let you know he has had a great week, but can't wait to get back in the anchor chair!

Bret teaches Paul and Daniel how to snorkel 

Brothers snorkeling together

Paul and Daniel on the beach

The Baier family headed to dinner

Paul and Daniel feed the rays

2016 Contenders: Senator Jim Webb

Supreme Court Hears Arguments Regarding Confederate Flag License Plates

By Special Report College Associate Ford Fischer

Are the images on your license plate private speech or government speech?

While most would agree that a car owner could use whatever bumper stickers they want, custom plate designs have proven controversial.

Texas, which produces over 400 different plates including “Don’t Tread on Me” and other political messages, has denied the Sons of Confederate Veterans group from placing a confederate flag on their government-issued license plates.

The issue is now before the Supreme Court, where the DMV is arguing "a significant portion of the public associate the Confederate flag with organizations advocating expressions of hate directed toward people or groups that is [sic] demeaning to those people or groups."

Representing the state, Texas Solicitor General Scott A. Keller argues that “The First Amendment does not mean that a motorist can compel any government to place its imprimatur on the Confederate battle flag." The premise of their argument is that the first amendment would be violated by forcing the government to print offensive speech.

Ginsberg pointed out that a burger company has an approved license plate. “Is it government speech to say 'Mighty Fine Burgers' to advertise a product?"

Alito and Kagan seemed to express similar views, noting that government billboards do not give the state discretion to choose what organizations are qualified to use it. The plates’ designs don’t represent government approval or endorsement since they merely exist as a revenue enhancer. 

Justice Stephen Breyer, the only member seemingly sympathizing with the DMV, had a hard time finding legal grounding for them.

"I just think you have to have some kind of legitimate reason," Breyer said. "It doesn't have to be much. It could be just a little."

The court is expected to make a decision in late June.

2016 Contenders: Senator Ted Cruz

Senator Ted Cruz became the first candidate to announce his campaign for president for 2016 and you had a chance to hear some of Cruz's thoughts during our '2016 Contenders Series' on Special Report. Here are a few of the questions and answers we didn't have room for in the show--including his view on those who question is eligibility to run for president, more on immigration, on Hillary Clinton and more.

“Draft Biden” Campaign Garners Early Support

By Special Report College Associate Ford Fischer

“Why Biden? Quite simply, WHY NOT BIDEN?” reads the new Run Biden Run website, featuring an open letter to “Draft Biden.” Despite early polls showing Joe Biden nearly 40% behind the front runner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton, the group hopes to get the current Vice President into the race.

 “While Hillary Clinton is certainly a highly visible, potential candidate, Draft Biden 2016 thinks that voters want an election with real choices, not a coronation,” William Pierce told Fox News. “Vice President Joe Biden is uniquely qualified to tackle the issues America will face over the next decade.”

Pierce is a young Democrat who runs the organization to promote Biden as an alternative to another Bush or Clinton presidency. The group’s open letter asking Biden to run has already collected nearly 4000 signatures.

“At a time in which many feel that Washington is a place riddled with inaction and a political system that is broken, you exhibited a never-wavering optimism and enthusiasm for progression that makes you strive to deliver tangible change” the letter says.

The website claims that he has “more experience than any other candidate, or potential candidate, in the field.” In total, he has accumulated 36 years in congress and will have had eight in the vice presidency. By contrast, Hillary Clinton has had eight years of experience in U.S.. Senate and four as Secretary of State.

Biden has said he will decide whether or not to run by the end of this summer. While he is significantly behind Clinton in the polls, he is the most popular alternative to the former secretary of state, with a slight lead over Senator Elizabeth Warren.

“People know exactly who Joe Biden is.” Pierce said. “They know where he stands on the issues, they know what he thinks. And if you’re not sure, just wait and he’ll tell you exactly how he feels. That kind of candidness, that kind of honesty is missing from our political discourse, and we think that's something that American voters will appreciate.”

Sources: Yemeni bombings likely work of ISIS

By James Rosen

Yemeni diplomats tell Fox News they believe today’s quadruple suicide bombings at two mosques in Yemen were likely the work of ISIS and not Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

The sources cited not only the claim of responsibility formally issued by ISIS-affiliated militants and the denial of responsibility formally issued by AQAP, but the fact that historically, AQAP has sought, in its attacks, to limit civilian casualties – and the extraordinary civilian death toll of today’s attacks, including scores of children, points to a different organization. Yemeni officials expect the death toll to rise dramatically overnight, and to approach 150.

As for even more recent AP bulletins reporting that AQAP has seized control of the Southern city of al-Houta, capital of the Lahj province, sources said the proliferation of tribesmen in that area – with some loyal to deposed President Hadi, others secessionist, still others pro-AQAP – makes it very difficult to discern who is doing what.

The Shi’ite Houthi rebels, long based in the north, have no real presence in the south. They seized control of the capital Sanaa in September and effectively run it today. They have seized large numbers of weapons in the country from various armories and depots. The U.S. for its part, only maintains communications with Hadi. Iran has amped up its political support of the Houthis in recent weeks, pledging a massive aid package including the provision of fuel derivatives, power plants, maintenance help, the rehabilitation of deteriorating ports, etc.

The capital is now largely empty of feign diplomats, save for a handful of Arab nations, the Russians, the Chinese, and the Iranians.

The next critical juncture is a set of mediation talks between Hadi loyalists, the Houthis and other parties, set to be held in April in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Until then, analysts foresee a continued, albeit low-intensity conflict, with regional lines being drawn across the country.

The sources described today’s bombings as the worst mass-casualty attack on civilian life in modern memory.

Pew Poll: Americans concerned about privacy amidst domestic monitoring

By Special Report College Associate Ford Fischer

A new study by the Pew Research Center was released this week, detailing the views of Americans about the state of government domestic spying and how they have changed their habits as a result. This study comes nearly two years after details of these programs leaked through former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

An overwhelming majority (87%) of Americans are at least somewhat aware of the surveillance programs. Of these, a strong majority (61%) feels that they have become less confident that these programs serve the public interest. Further, the majority of both parties (70% of Republicans and 55% of Democrat) say they have lost confidence.

A full 57% described the monitoring of US citizens as unacceptable. At issue seems to be whether the targeting is too broad. While most say that have lost confidence in the programs, 82% still feel that monitoring suspected terrorists is still acceptable.

Many Americans say they have changed their behavior as a result of the revelations. Over one third (34%) of those who are aware of the domestic spying have taken steps to shield themselves. According to the poll: “17% changed their privacy settings on social media; 15% use social media less often; 15% have avoided certain apps and 13% have uninstalled apps; 14% say they speak more in person instead of communicating online or on the phone; and 13% have avoided using certain terms in online communications.”

What are your thoughts?

Tax payer funded charters spell more trouble for Hillary

In the four years leading up to her 2008 presidential campaign Hillary Clinton spent more than $300,00 on private charters at tax payers expense-- a practice that while legal raises questions about whether or not she pushed the boundaries of the law.

The use of charter travel is common on both sides of the aisle and lawmakers frequently ramp up the travel as they approach re-election. Paul Singer at USA Today found 28 of Clinton's office flights traveled outside of New York and in 2006 she spent more on charters than any other senator. A Clinton spokesman says  "she constantly crisscrossed the state to meet with the people she represented" and her travel was part of "her tireless work on behalf of New York."

This latest revelation is not illegal, but couldn't come at a worse time as the Clinton camp works to write a positive narrative ahead of kicking off her campaign. She is stuck with yet another round of negative press that could give many Democrats second thoughts about making Hillary their next nominee.

2016 Contenders: Rand Paul

Senator Rand Paul sat down with us as part of our 2016 Presidential Contenders series for Special Report. Here are a few of the questions and answers you didn't get to see on the show--including when he will make the decision to run, his thoughts on term limits, his views on national defense, and a GOP run against what could likely be a Hillary Clinton nomination.


SR Grapevine: Studying studies



Coming Up

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is announcing he will not seek re-election to another term.

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