Teen Mom Cast: See Them Before They Were Stars!

Putting together a Teen Mom throwback album feels a bit weird.

So weird, in fact, that featuring their ultrasounds in utero wouldn't be a stretch for the fab four who MTV first introduced us to in 2009.

Since the popular series, which was preceded by 16 & Pregnant, first premiered, a few cast members have had more children.

Maci Bookout and Catelynn Lowell both welcomed new additions in 2015. Jenelle Evans in 2014. Leah Messer has three kids total.

Some have struggled mightily with substance abuse, and at least one infamous "star" enjoys a career in the adult entertainment industry.

Farrah Abraham is in a league of her own, for better or worse.

If you watch Teen Mom online these days, you're watching quasi-celebs in their own right, given the show's surprising staying power.

Yet they were all regular girls at one point, and the authenticity from the olden days still shines through as they progress into adulthood.

With new Teen Mom: OG (original girls, not gangstaz) episodes starting January 4, 2016, let's throw it back to before they were stars …

1. Maci Bookout: ’16 & Pregnant’ Throwback

Maci bookout
“Throwback to “16 and Pregnant!” Bentley’s mom wrote on Instagram. “I had no idea how much my life would change when I became a parent. I’ve learned so much about parenthood and teen pregnancy over the years and I encourage you all to do the same.”

2. Caitlynne Lowell and Tyler Baltierra in 2010

Caitlynne lowell and tyler baltierra in 2010
“Wow a blast from the past!” Lowell wrote on Instagram. “This is from 5 years ago we are sooo little!”

3. Leah Messer, Kailyn Lowry, Jenelle Evans, and Chelsea Houska

Lea messer kailyn lowry jenelle evans and chelsea houska
The cast from ‘Teen Mom 2’ poses for a photo together in December 2011.

4. Catelynn Lowell and Tyler Baltierra’s Adorable Throwback

Catelynn lowell and tyler baltierra
The newlyweds in a serious Instagram throwback. “Wow this is from 5 years ago!! I was four months pregnant. Love my babe!” Lowell wrote.

5. Chelsea Houska: Eyebrow Regrets

Chelsea houska
“Looking at pictures from high school today just really made me grateful for eyebrow fillers,” Teen Mom 2 star Chelsea Houska wrote on Instagram. “No comment on the tongue piercing haa.”

6. Farrah Abraham’s Family Flashback

Farrah abraham and her daughter sofia
Abraham shared a throwback photo of her mom and daughter, Sofia.

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[via thehollywoodgossip]

The Protests of a Cleric’s Death in the Middle East

Shiite Muslims protest the killing of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr in Karachi, Pakistan, on Sunday. Akhtar Soomro / Reuters

Demonstrators in Iran, Pakistan, Bahrain, and elsewhere marched in the streets Sunday, chanting and carrying signs, in protest of Saudi Arabia’s execution of a respected Shiite Muslim cleric.

The riots began Saturday, after the kingdom announced Saturday that it had executed 47 men on what the government called terrorism charges. Among them was Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, who was sentenced to death in October 2014 after he was convicted of sedition and other charges. Al-Nimr regularly criticized the monarchy in Saudi Arabia, whose population is predominantly Sunni Muslim, and had led protests in the eastern part of the country.

In Iran, protesters swarmed and set fire to the Saudi embassy in Tehran late Saturday night and early Sunday morning. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani condemned Saudi Arabia’s mass execution, but also criticized protesters for damaging the property, vowing to identify and prosecute them.

In Pakistan, Shiite Muslims participated in rallies Sunday in the city of Karachi. In Bahrain, dozens of people, some holding photos of al-Nimr, marched in the capital city of Manama. The cleric had been a critic of Sunni-led monarchy in Bahrain.

In London, protesters gathered outside the Saudi embassy. One woman held a sign that read “Justice for Sheikh Nimr,” wire service photos showed.

A prominent Iraqi Shiite cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, called for Iraq to shut down the Saudi embassy, and urged people in Gulf countries to protest al-Nimr’s execution.

Al-Nimr’s death, which al-Nimr’s brother told the Associated Press came as a surprise to even their own family, was seen by some as a warning to individuals, particularly Shiites, against seeking political reforms. Religious leaders and political figures in Iran, Yemen, and Lebanon warned that al-Nimr’s killing would prompt widespread anger and worsen sectarian tensions in the Middle East, according to The Guardian.

[via theatlantic]

ISIS in the World’s Largest Muslim Country

A prayer service on the eve of Ramadan in Jakarta, Indonesia Supri / Reuters

In recent days, rumblings of ISIS have reached the country with the largest Muslim population in the world. Security forces in Indonesia, which is home to some 200 million Muslims, launched a manhunt for the militant leader Santoso, who had publicly pledged loyalty to the Islamic State. Police arrested several suspected ISIS supporters amid chatter about terror plots, while Australia’s attorney-general warned that the Islamic State was intent on establishing a “distant caliphate” in the Southeast Asian island nation. But the flurry of activity doesn’t tell the whole story about ISIS’s inroads in Indonesia. Consider, for example, that while the number of foreign fighters traveling to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS and other violent extremist groups is estimated to have more than doubled between June 2014 and December 2015, relatively few are coming from Indonesia—at least for now. The question is: Why?

Indonesia has certainly experienced its share of terrorism and jihadist movements since declaring independence from the Netherlands in 1945. After proclaiming an “Islamic state” in 1949, the organization Darul Islam denounced the Indonesian state as apostate and staged a series of armed rebellions against it in the 1950s and early 1960s, before moving underground. The militant Islamist movement then split into numerous groups, from Laskar Jihad, which led an anti-Christian campaign across Indonesia, to Jemaah Islamiyah, which executed the 2002 Bali bombings. Indonesian jihadists have not solely focused on local targets; many went to Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion as mujahideen, though most only received training rather than engaging directly in the fighting there.

Moreover, there is clearly a base of support for ISIS in Indonesia. A September 2014 report by the Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC) details the Islamic State’s aggressive recruitment and propaganda efforts in the country, as well as mass professions of allegiance to the group. (As the report and a more recent one from USAID caution, these public declarations—in which roughly 1,000 to 2,000 people have taken part—are not necessarily accurate measures of active support for ISIS.) IPAC notes in another report that “the conflict in Syria has captured the imagination of Indonesian extremists in a way no foreign war has before,” for reasons ranging from the suffering of Sunni Muslims there, to the prospect of restoring an Islamic caliphate, to the fact that “Syria is directly linked to predictions in Islamic eschatology that the final battle at the end of time will take place in Sham, the region sometimes called Greater Syria or the Levant, encompassing Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Israel.”

Whatever the extent of ISIS’s support in Indonesia, that support has not translated into Indonesians heeding the call of jihad and heading to the Middle East in large numbers. A recent Soufan Group report on foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria (not necessarily fighting with ISIS) cited an Indonesian-government estimate that 700 of those fighters hailed from Indonesia as of July 2015—a number that the group says is probably an overestimate. In comparison, the official estimate for France is 1,700; for Russia, 2,400; for the United States, 150; and for Tunisia, 6,000. In France, 18 people per million Muslim citizens are thought to be fighting in Syria and Iraq, according to the USAID study. In Tunisia, that number is 280. In Indonesia, it’s just over one.

The Soufan Group

Why are so few Indonesians traveling to Syria to fight? The statistics in Indonesia do conform to a degree with those of nearby countries. Official estimates indicate that only 100 foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria are arriving from Muslim-majority Malaysia, and that a minuscule 23 are coming from India, whose population includes 177 million Muslims. But explaining the phenomenon as a regional trend glosses over country-specific dynamics. ISIS may have gained less traction in Malaysia than in the Arab world or Western Europe, but Malaysia still has over six times the rate of Muslim citizens leaving for battle in the Middle East as Indonesia has. Polls also suggest that a higher percentage of Malaysians than Indonesians are sympathetic to ISIS and the tactic of suicide bombings, though in both cases that support is confined to a small minority of the population. In India, much of Muslim civil society has repudiated ISIS and other Islamic terrorist organizations, with nearly 70,000 clerics signing an anti-ISIS fatwa.

In November, The New York Times pointed to one factor behind the muted response to ISIS in Indonesia: Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), an Islamic organization that claims to have 50 million members. NU preaches an Islam of compassion, inclusivity, and tolerance of other faiths, as opposed to ISIS’s fundamentalist, Wahhabi-inspired theology. “We are directly challenging the idea of ISIS, which wants Islam to be uniform, meaning that if there is any other idea of Islam that is not following their ideas, those people are infidels who must be killed,” Yahya Cholil Staquf, the general secretary to the NU supreme council, told the Times.

Sidney Jones, the director of the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, agreed that NU has played a role in minimizing ISIS’s appeal to Indonesians. “That movement is indeed a bulwark against more people being attracted by extremist ideologies,” Jones told me. However, “the people that are getting recruited into ranks such as ISIS and other jihadi groups before that are not coming from Nahdlatul Ulama,” so the organization’s impact may be more limited than its size suggests.

Instead, Jones mentioned several other causes: “Indonesia is a country that doesn’t have a repressive government, is not under occupation, it’s politically stable, so there’s no social unrest or conflict, and the Muslims aren’t a persecuted minority. So when you put all of those factors together, it’s not all that surprising that it’s actually only a tiny minority of even the activist population that’s leaving for Syria.”

Indeed, the countries that send the largest numbers of foreign fighters to Syria and Iraq, either in absolute terms or on a per-capita basis, tend to be either politically repressive (Saudi Arabia, 2,500 fighters), politically unstable (Tunisia, 6,000 fighters), discriminatory toward a Muslim minority (Russia, 2,400 fighters), or a combination of the above. As further evidence for her point, Jones cited the tumultuous period immediately following the collapse in 1998 of the authoritarian Suharto government, which had ruled Indonesia for more than three decades. The resulting instability provided “the best recruitment tool radical groups ever had. They’ve never been able to get back to that level of attraction of joining a jihadi movement, because there’s not a local driver” for radicalization in the young democracy, she explained.

The Soufan Group

Jones added that Indonesia’s freedom of expression creates space within which radical communities can advocate for Islamic law and an Islamic state without feeling the need to resort to violent action in pursuit of those goals. While acknowledging that certain groups have taken advantage of that space, Jones said that “it does keep the numbers of violent extremists” to a “manageable” level.

The Democracy Report

Meanwhile, according to IPAC, “ISIS has triggered a bigger backlash than ever seen before in the Indonesian Muslim community, suggesting that support will stay limited to a fringe of the radical fringe.” And that backlash isn’t just coming from NU; other mainstream Muslim organizations, including a coalition known as the Brotherhood Forum of the Indonesian Council of Religious Scholars, have rejected ISIS’s ideology. Nor has ISIS received the warmest of welcomes from Indonesia’s jihadist communities. The Islamic State’s brutality and decision to proclaim a caliphate have drawn criticism from jihadist media outlets and radical clerics in the country; “most of the hardline Muslim community have distanced themselves from ISIS or have taken a wait-and-see stance,” IPAC notes, including Majelis Mujahidin Indonesia, which has declared ISIS a “deviant” movement. When asked about the possible impact of deradicalization programs by the Indonesian government, Jones responded, “I think it’s the good sense of the Muslim majority rather than government programs that are keeping the numbers down.”

But that “good sense,” it seems, is shaped at least in part by a stable, representative political system that respects its Muslim constituents—and a Muslim population that, even in some of its radical corners, loudly rejects ISIS’s practices and narrative. Which raises a question: Can lessons from countries like Indonesia somehow be applied to repressive and volatile countries in the Middle East, or to marginalized Muslim communities in Europe? ISIS’s ability to continue attracting recruits may hinge on the answer.

[via theatlantic]

UDFA GT Beer final… Gittens strike earns Federal Winners Connection three-peat title against Silver Shattas

Topp XX edge Net Rockers 2-0

In front of a frenzied capacity crowd of adoring football fans the Federal Winners Connection veteran striker Rawle ‘Boney’ Gittens once again delivered by scoring the lone goal of the game as his team beat Silver Shattas 1-0 in the final of the third annual Upper Demerara Football Association (UDFA) GT Beer championship, thus capturing a historic win with their third straight GT Beer championship at the Mackenzie Sports Club ground on New Year’s Night.
The back-to-back title win did not come easy for the champions to pocket the $ 800,000 first prize and the winning trophy and replicas, as their opponents Silver Shattas did make the final a memorable one, but for the fact they were unable to convert chances which went their way, while the composed play of Winners Connection allowed them to come away with yet another sterling performance and are still to be beaten in three years of this year end competition.
Upper Demerara Football Association (UDFA) president Sharma Solomon told the crowd on hand that come this year end the UDFA will be working in partnership with the authorities of the MSC to improve the seating conditions, while Banks DIH Communications Manager Troy Peters, in front of GT Beer Manager Jeoffrey Clement assured the fans that the beverage giants are committed to continued sponsorship under the GT Beer brand for this tournament.
The versatile Winners Connection started with a burst as their front line of veteran Gittens and 20 year old striker Marmalaque Davidson did create some anxious moments for the opposing goalkeeper for Silver Shattas but the relative underdogs Shattas were not kept quiet as their duo on the forward line of Rawlston Fraser and Colwyn Drakes made the defence of Winners Connection work overtime as the two sides impressed with their counter attacks.
While Winners Connection looked slightly the better of the two sides early in the first half the Shattas announced their intentions before the half time whistle came, but Winners Connection bounced back to steady their flow even though the first half ended scoreless.
The second half was a continuation of the Winners Connection trying hard to get the go ahead goal, but their defence held together by the warring captain Marlon Maxius, often had their plate full in dealing with this courageous Shattas side. However, when it looked like an extra period of play would be necessary the wily striker Gittens was there to slam home a diagonal cross from the right side inside the 18 yards box which stunned the helpless Shattas goalkeeper in the 88th minute of regulation play which virtually sealed the win for a third successive year of this championship in favour of the champions Winners Connection.
In the supporting game, goals from second half substitute Oswald Benjamin and veteran player Collie Hercules were enough to give Topp XX a 2-0 win over Net Rockers in their third place game earlier.
The presentation of the various prizes and individual awards will be done at a date to be announced during the coming week by the organisers.

[via kaieteurnewsonline]

5th Annual GFA/Banks Cup Knockout tournament…. Riddim Squad brush past Western Tigers to claim GFA/Banks Cup

President of the GFA, Clifton Hicken (right), is just as happy as Riddim Squad’s Captain, Lyliton Ramsay, when he handed over the first place cheque and trophy.

President of the GFA, Clifton Hicken (right), is just as happy as Riddim Squad’s Captain, Lyliton Ramsay, when he handed over the first place cheque and trophy.

By Michael Benjamin

In a game of swaying fortunes, and backed by a vociferous bunch of supporters, Riddim Squad FC (RS) displayed grit and determination to overcome Western Tigers FC (WTFC) 2-1 and waltzed off with the championship trophy and two million dollars when the 5th Annual GFA/Banks Cup Knockout tournament concluded at the National Stadium, Providence last Friday evening. Western Tigers had to be content with the one million dollars incentive for the runner up team.
This was one match after underdogs, New Amsterdam United, turned back the challenge of Santos FC with a heart-wrenching 3-2 defeat to take the remaining podium spot and the accompanying half million dollars and trophy.
Riddim Squad’s Amos Ramsay stitched in a 50th minute success just before Randolph Wagner 73rd minute contribution for Western brought the situation back to equilibrium. Delon John’s 80th minute goal returned the advantage to Riddim Squad which held to the final whistle. Consequently, Riddim Squad carted off the lion’s share of auxiliary prizes and Wagner’s tournament tally of 7 goals was enough to clinch the trophy for this category of special prizes, while his teammate, Ron Liverpool received the trophy for being the best goalkeeper. Sceyon Hope had scored in all of his team’s encounters and he was justly awarded the accolade for the Most Valuable Player.
Western Tigers started the match at a fast clip and Daron Benjamin tested the opposition’s goalkeeper with a powerful shot which the latter individual did well to save. Rowley then featured after he had weaved his way past the opposition’s defence cordon but once again, Liverpool endorsed his ‘best goalkeeper’ accomplishment when he skillfully punched the ball back into play.
Riddim Squad’s initial show of resistance occurred after Amos Ramsay took a free kick ten meters from the box but flouted the opportunity with a wayward strike that the opposition’s custodian, Romell Legall, easily intercepted. Ramsay was to feature again several minutes later when he adroitly steered the ball from the middle of the field into his opponents’ comfort zone and slammed home his team’s first success.
Riddim Squad defence cordon also averted sure disaster after Western Tiger’s striker, Dwayne Ali, tested it with a wicked kick that failed to breach the wall. Indeed the competition was fierce and resulted in RS small 1 nil advantage at the halfway break.
The fierce rivalry resumed in the second half when Amos Ramsay thundered down the left flank and unleashed a powerful kick which the opposition’s custodian did well to save. Rudolph Wagner then responded for Western Tigers after performing a solo that brought him dangerously close to Riddim Squad’s goal; their custodian, Ron Liverpool, sprang into action and his save truly endorsed the selection panel’s eventual decision to bequeath him the best goalkeeper of the tournament.
As the minutes elapsed the ‘Tigers’ upped the ante and Delon Fraser performed a solo only to be forced into a premature kick after the opposition’s defenders attacked with venom.
Devon Forde may also rue his fortunes after he intercepted a pass just outside the box but sent the ball cannoning down the right of the Riddim Squad’s goal.
The minutes were dwindling and Riddim Squad aspired to hold on to their slim 1 nil lead resulting in the ‘keeper’ receiving a yellow card after being cited for delayed tactics.
Western were then fed a lifeline when they were awarded a penalty after one of their players was fouled in the box. Wagner took the shot and deceived the goalie who plunged to the left while the dapper Western striker kicked to the right.
Merely 8 minutes later, Riddim Squad retained the lead when Charles received a pass from the left flank and he swiveled on the balls of his feet and sent in a powerful shot that flew past the Western Tigers’ custodian and came to rest in the nets. Thereafter, a vicious battle ensued with both teams missing out on opportunities to either equalize (in the case of Western Tigers) or extend the lead (in the case of Riddim Squad). The final whistle ten minutes after Charles’ success meant that Riddim Squad had won the championship. They can now enjoy 2 million dollars, a beautiful trophy and a full year of bragging rights.
Earlier, in the third place playoff, New Amsterdam United (NAU) defied their underdog status and had Santos FC on the ropes from as early as the 9th minute when George Hinckson’s powerful shot sent the Berbicians ahead. By the end of the first session, NAU had extended its lead to 2-0 following a Travis Williams 28th minute success. Delroy Fernandes netted a double for the Berbicians in the 52nd and 78th minutes, while Santos staged a late revival after Dwayne McLennan was twice fouled in the box and converted those penalties in the 84th and 87th minutes. The prize giving ceremony was performed just after the end of the feature game.

[via kaieteurnewsonline]

Top Aides Resign From Ben Carson’s Campaign In Major Shakeup

Three staffers, including the campaign manager and communications director, resigned effective immediately on New Year’s Eve.

Mike Blake / Reuters

Three top aides to Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson's campaign resigned on New Year's Eve, in a major, and very public, shakeup just a month before the Iowa caucuses.

Campaign manager Barry Bennett and communications director Doug Watts resigned “effective immediately” Thursday morning. Shortly after, deputy campaign manager Lisa Coen announced she too had resigned.

The news was first reported by the Des Moines Register.

Over the past several months, Carson's once surging bid for the presidency suffered a series of missteps. Carson, popular with evangelicals and grassroots conservatives, appeared at times to not have a handle on foreign policy. Carson's own biography came under close scrutiny, and in both national and state polls, Carson has seen his support diminish.

In a statement released after the resignations were made public, Carson's campaign said they were announcing “enhancements,” naming Major General Bob Dees as campaign chairman and Ed Brookover as campaign manager.

“As we enter a new phase of the campaign cycle, it is necessary to invigorate my campaign with a strategy that more aggressively shares my vision and world-view with the American people. I commend Barry Bennett and Doug Watts for their efforts to help me share my vision for America,” Carson said in the statement.

In an interview the Washington Post after his resignation, former campaign manager Bennett said, “I spent the holidays hearing every day that I had lost my job. My relationship with Carson was always good and friendly but being campaign manager in that kind of situation, where outside advisers are in essence driving the campaign and setting up interviews and raising questions about everything, it's not the right atmosphere.”

[source BuzzFeed]

A Foiled New Year’s Eve Terrorist Plot in Turkey

Dado Ruvic / Reuters

Police in Turkey said Wednesday they had foiled a potential New Year’s Eve attack by suspected Islamic State militants on the country’s capital.

The Ankara prosecutor’s office said police detained two men who were believed to be planning suicide attacks in Ankara during New Year celebrations. The men were apprehended in a raid on a house in the Mamak neighborhood of the capital.

Police seized several weapons from the location: “a suicide vest armed with a bomb, an explosive device that was fortified with ball bearings, and metal sticks  placed inside a back-pack as well as bomb-making equipment,” according to the Associated Press.

The suspected militants, both Turkish nationals, are being questioned by police. The office said the men, identified by their initials M.C. and A.Y., had planned to attack the Ankara’s main square, where people are expected to gather to celebrate the New Year on Thursday, according to Turkey’s state-run news agency, Anadolu Agency. Officials said the pair targeted two locations near Kizilay, a shopping and restaurant district in the center of Ankara.

Reuters quoted a senior government official as saying that the men entered Turkey from Syria.

In October, suicide bombers killed more than 100 people and wounded hundreds of others participating in a peace rally outside of Ankara’s main train station. Turkish authorities said the attacks were likely carried out by the Islamic State.

A day ago, police in Belgium arrested two people in connection with a plot to stage attacks during New Year celebrations in Brussels.

[via theatlantic]