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London Attacker Had Worked in Saudi Arabia Teaching English


A police officer places flowers as a man gestures beside floral tributes to victims of Wednesday’s attack, on Parliament Square outside the Houses of Parliament in London, Friday March 24, 2017. On Thursday authorities identified a 52-year-old Briton as the man who mowed down pedestrians and stabbed a policeman to death outside Parliament in London, saying he had a long criminal record and once was investigated for extremism — but was not currently on a terrorism watch list.


By

Published on March 25, 2017

LONDON (AP) — The British man who killed four people during a London rampage had made three trips to Saudi Arabia: He taught English there twice on a work visa and returned on a visa usually granted to those going on a religious pilgrimage.

More details about attacker Khalid Masood’s travels, confirmed by the Saudi Arabian embassy in Britain, emerged Saturday amid a massive British police effort to discover how a homegrown ex-con with a violent streak became radicalized and why he launched a deadly attack Wednesday on Westminster Bridge.

The embassy said he taught English in Saudi Arabia from November 2005 to November 2006 and again from April 2008 to April 2009, with legitimate work visas both times. He then returned to Saudi Arabia for six days in March 2015 on a trip booked through an approved travel agent and made on an “Umra” visa, usually granted to those on a religious pilgrimage to the country’s Islamic holy sites.

The embassy said Saudi security services didn’t track Masood and he didn’t have a criminal record there.

Before taking the name Masood, he was called Adrian Elms. He was known for having a violent temper in England and had been convicted at least twice for violent crimes.

Masood drove his rented SUV across London’s crowded Westminster Bridge on Wednesday, striking pedestrians. Then he jumped out and stabbed to death police officer Keith Palmer, who was guarding Parliament, before being shot dead by police.

In all, he killed four people and left more than two dozen hospitalized, including some with catastrophic injuries. The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attack, calling him a “solider” who responded to its demands that followers attack countries in the coalition fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

British officials said security at Parliament will be reviewed after new footage emerged that showed the large gates to the complex were left open after Masood rushed onto the grounds. There are concerns that accomplices could have followed him in and killed even more people. The footage from that day shows pedestrians walking by the open gates and even a courier entering Parliament grounds.

Former Metropolitan Police commissioner Ian Blair told the BBC that changes to the “outer soft ring” of Parliament’s security plan are likely in the aftermath of Masood’s attack.

The new footage follows earlier video that showed slight delays and confusion during the evacuation of Prime Minister Theresa May from Parliament as the attack unfolded.

Masood, who at 52 is considerably older than most extremists who carry out bloodshed in the West, had an arrest record in Britain dating to 1983. In 2000, he slashed a man across the face in a pub parking lot in a racially charged argument after drinking, according to a newspaper account. Masood’s last conviction, in 2003, also involved a knife attack.

One victim, Danny Smith, told The Sun newspaper that Masood had stabbed him in the face with a kitchen knife after an argument just three days after they met.

Hundreds of British police have been working to determine his motives and are scouring Masood’s communications systems, including his possible use of the encrypted WhatsApp device, to help determine if he had any accomplices.

Still, police have released many of those they took in for questioning in the case.

One 58-year-old man remains in custody for questioning after being arrested Thursday in the central English city of Birmingham, where Masood was living. Authorities haven’t charged or identified him.

A 32-year-old woman arrested in Manchester has been released on bail and faces further inquiries.

Police said Saturday that a 27-year-old man arrested Thursday in Birmingham has been released.

Eight others arrested in connection with the investigation had been set free earlier, including a 39-year-old woman who had initially been freed on bail but now faces no further police action, police said Saturday.

Details about how Masood became radicalized aren’t clear, although he may have become exposed to radical views while an inmate in Britain or while working in conservative Saudi Arabia. It’s also not clear when he took the name Masood, suggesting a conversion to Islam.

 

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.






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Article source: https://stream.org/london-attacker-worked-saudi-arabia-teaching-english/

EU Puts Pen to Paper, Signs Unity Pledge on 60th Anniversary

ROME (AP) — With Britain poised to start divorce proceedings, the 27 remaining European Union nations put pen to paper Saturday in Rome to renew their vows for continued unity in the face of crises that are increasingly testing the bonds between members.

The EU nations marked the 60th anniversary of their founding treaty as a turning point in their history, as British Prime Minister Theresa May will officially trigger divorce proceedings from the bloc next week — a fact that European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called “a tragedy.”

Determined to show that unity is the only way ahead in a globalized world, the EU leaders were able to walk away from a summit without acrimony, which was already sort of a victory.

“We didn’t have a major clash or conflict, contrary to what many thought,” Juncker said.

EU Council President Donald Tusk said that sustained unity was the only way for the EU to survive.

“Europe as a political entity will either be united, or will not be at all,” he told EU leaders at a solemn session in the same ornate hall on the ancient Capitoline Hill where the Treaty of Rome, which founded the EU, was signed on March 25, 1957.

To move ahead though, the EU leaders recognized that full unity on all things will be unworkable. Pushed by several Western European nations, they enshrined a pledge to give member nations more freedom to form partial alliances and set policy when unanimity is out of reach.

“We will act together, at different paces and intensity where necessary, while moving in the same direction,” said the Rome Declaration signed by the 27 nations.

The EU has often used a multi-speed approach in the past, with only 19 nations using the shared euro currency and not all members participating in the Schengen borderless travel zone. The approach has already been extended to social legislation and even divorce rules among EU nationals.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel sought to assuage fears that it would lead to a further unraveling of unity.

“The Europe of different speeds does not in any way mean that it is not a common Europe,” Merkel said after the ceremony. “We are saying here very clearly that we want to go in a common direction. And there are things that are not negotiable” — the EU freedom of movement, goods, people and services.

With Britain leaving, the mantle of recalcitrant member seems to have been taken over by Poland. Still, Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo, unmissable in a bright yellow jacket, was more subdued than at the last EU summit two weeks ago, when she refused to adopt conclusions that need unanimity. Poland also balked at signing the new treaty until the eve of the ceremony.

“The Rome declaration is the first stop toward renewing the unity of the EU,” Szydlo told reporters.

In a series of speeches, EU leaders also acknowledged how the bloc had strayed into a complicated structure that had slowly lost touch with its citizens, compounded by the severe financial crisis that struck several EU nations over the past decade.

Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, host of the summit, said over the past dozen years the EU’s development had stalled.

“Unfortunately, we stopped … it triggered a crisis of rejection,” he said.

At the same time, at the summit in sun-splashed Rome, where new civilizations have been built on old ruins time and time again, there also was a message of optimism.

“Yes, we have problems. Yes, there are difficulties. Yes, there will be crisis in the future. But we stand together and we move forward,” Gentiloni said. “We have the strength to start out again.”

At the end of the session, all 27 leaders signed the Rome Declaration saying that “European unity is a bold, farsighted endeavor.”

“We have united for the better. Europe is our common future,” the declaration said.

___

Vanessa Gera in Warsaw and Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed.

Article source: https://stream.org/eu-puts-pen-paper-signs-unity-pledge-60th-anniversary/

Beauty and the Beast’s Other Gay Moment

Now that everyone knows what Beauty and the Beast’s much-bally-hooed “exclusively gay moment” was all about, it might seem anti-climactic to some. (Spoiler alert: LeFou dances with a man in drag.) To a kid not paying attention, it could still fly under the radar as a slightly strange apparent accident: LeFou cuts in and unexpectedly finds himself with a male dance partner. The fact that this is the same man who happened to be rather fond of his “new look” might not click together with LeFou’s sexuality for younger and (hopefully) still innocent viewers.

Likewise, much of the innuendo probably flew over many little heads. But, as unpleasant as it is, we need to talk about the other gay moment in Beauty and the Beast.

The String of Gay Moments

Really, there’s a string of “gay moments” leading all the way up to the promised “Gay Moment.” Actor Josh Gad’s performance was hyped as “tasteful” and “subtle.” It is many things, but tasteful and subtle it certainly is not. Some people who were rigidly searching for something blatant like a gay kiss have come out reporting there’s no there there. I disagree. Between asexuality and “gay kiss” territory, Disney has plenty of room to work with, and they certainly work it.

LeFou’s famous set piece is the smarmy “Gaston,” in which he minces about and invents all manner of strange doggerel to describe our villain’s general fabulousness. An early clip of the scene showed Gad unmistakably playing up LeFou’s gay mannerisms and physical attraction to Gaston, via eye-rolls, tush-waggling, and other such (un)subtle fare.

But it didn’t show the worst part, which involves the choice of business around the lyric “In a wrestling match, nobody bites like Gaston.” Originally, LeFou chomps down on an unfortunate bloke’s calf for illustrative purposes. This put the line in the unambiguous category of non-sexual male horseplay — two men grappling, one needs to break a hold and sees a chance to play foul. Not anymore. Apparently, it just wouldn’t be 2017 without a gag about love bites.

I highlight this moment because so many people have missed it, whether through distraction or sheer innocent-mindedness.

That’s right: In this version, LeFou directs attention to … his own chest. He sings the line while baring his stomach, and what should he reveal but a bite mark. Get it? In a wrestling match nobody bites like Gaston! Hohoho! Good one, Disney! Now everyone knows that, like Oklahoma’s Ado Annie, LeFou “sorta has a feelin’ that he won” that particular “wrestlin’ match.”

The fact that many kids will blink and miss (or just forget) is irrelevant. The image will take its place in the furniture of their minds. Every now and then, their idle thoughts might drift back to it. And they might think that it seemed kind of weird for a guy to have a bite mark on his stomach. Because it is weird. It’s more than weird. It’s disgusting.

If you will, try to picture the same gesture, in a movie with the same rating, but in a heterosexual context. Granted, the nature of a musical allows deliberately ambiguous words to overlay a scene. Still, I know and you know that even such a fleeting allusion as this would normally be out of bounds for anything with a G or PG sticker on it. If it were a woman doing the bragging, well into PG-13 territory, at least.

With Bite, Disney Shows Its Real Hunger

I highlight this moment because so many people have missed it, whether through distraction or sheer innocent-mindedness. Stephen Greydanus is the only reviewer to have pointed it out, that I’m aware of. But we cannot miss it, because it is here that Disney’s mask starts to slip. There’s a reason why all the leaked news and interviews and promotional buzz focused on the moment where LeFou and his new friend dance together. They chose this moment, because it’s a “nice” moment. Because awwwww, they’re dancing!

It’s unpleasant but true: If parents want to be able to navigate culture alertly, they can’t afford to remain as innocent as their children.

Sorry, but no cigar. Disney can’t have its cake and eat it too. They can’t conjure up the image of one dude biting another dude on the stomach, only to pretend they’re teaching children that gay people are just as innocent and normal and fun as everybody else.

Dissenters will protest, “But some men and women do it too!” See above. The fact that Disney felt free to include such a gag in such a film reflects the normativity of unpleasant sex practices within the gay community. Aside from the particularly disgusting details of their substitute consummation, two gay men are intrinsically set up to be rougher, more unpleasant, more uninhibitedly kinky in their sexual behavior than a man and a woman. Yes, there are women who will play along, but even a prostitute will have her limits. Without that tempering female influence, the sky is the limit.

Disney can spray around as much rose-scented air freshener as they like to hide that stench, but the truth will out (no pun intended). If LeFou is “token Disney gay, PG version,” I don’t think I want to know what the PG-13 version will look like.

Parents Can’t Afford to Remain Innocent

It’s unpleasant but true: If parents want to be able to navigate culture alertly, they can’t afford to remain as innocent as their children. Yes, they should still strive as much as possible to dwell on what is pure and lovely and of good report, as St. Paul adjures. Yet Jesus said we should also be wise as serpents. That may require us to go to some dark, nasty places. It may require us to scrutinize things young children might well not even notice … yet. But one day, they will. When that day comes, will you be caught by surprise? Or will you be five steps ahead of them?

Article source: https://stream.org/beauty-and-the-beasts-other-gay-momentthe-most-dangerous-addiction-of-them-all-entitlements/

American Democracy: Not So Decadent After All

WASHINGTON — Under the dark gray cloud, amid the general gloom, allow me to offer a ray of sunshine. The last two months have brought a pleasant surprise: Turns out the much feared, much predicted withering of our democratic institutions has been grossly exaggerated. The system lives.

Let me explain. Donald Trump’s triumph last year was based on a frontal attack on the Washington “establishment,” that all-powerful, all-seeing, supremely cynical, bipartisan “cartel” (as Ted Cruz would have it) that allegedly runs everything. Yet the establishment proved to be Potemkin empty. In 2016, it folded pitifully, surrendering with barely a fight to a lightweight outsider.

At which point, fear of the vaunted behemoth turned to contempt for its now-exposed lassitude and decadence. Compounding the confusion were Trump’s intimations of authoritarianism. He declared “I alone can fix it” and “I am your voice,” the classic tropes of the demagogue. He unabashedly expressed admiration for strongmen (most notably, Vladimir Putin).

Trump had just cut through the grandees like a hot knife through butter. Who would now prevent him from trampling, caudillo-like, over a Washington grown weak and decadent? A Washington, moreover, that had declined markedly in public esteem, as confidence in our traditional institutions — from the political parties to Congress — fell to new lows.

The strongman cometh, it was feared. Who and what would stop him?

Two months into the Trumpian era, we have our answer. Our checks and balances have turned out to be quite vibrant. Consider:

The Courts

Trump rolls out not one but two immigration bans, and is stopped dead in his tracks by the courts. However you feel about the merits of the policy itself (in my view, execrable and useless but legal) or the merits of the constitutional reasoning of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (embarrassingly weak, transparently political), the fact remains: The president proposed and the courts disposed.

Trump’s pushback? A plaintive tweet or two complaining about the judges — that his own Supreme Court nominee denounced (if obliquely) as “disheartening” and “demoralizing.”

The States

Federalism lives. The first immigration challenge to Trump was brought by the attorneys general of two states (Washington and Minnesota) picking up on a trend begun during the Barack Obama years when state attorneys general banded together to kill his immigration overreach and the more egregious trespasses of his Environmental Protection Agency.

And beyond working through the courts, state governors — Republicans, no less — have been exerting pressure on members of Congress to oppose a Republican president’s signature health care reform. Institutional exigency still trumps party loyalty.

Congress

The Republican-controlled Congress (House and Senate) is putting up epic resistance to a Republican administration’s health care reform. True, that’s because of ideological and tactical disagreements rather than any particular desire to hem in Trump. But it does demonstrate that Congress is no rubber stamp.

And its independence extends beyond the perennially divisive health care conundrums. Trump’s budget, for example, was instantly declared dead on arrival in Congress, as it almost invariably is regardless of which party is in power.

The Media

Trump is right. It is the opposition party. Indeed, furiously so, often indulging in appalling overkill. It’s sometimes embarrassing to read the front pages of the major newspapers, festooned as they are with anti-Trump editorializing masquerading as news.

Nonetheless, if you take the view from 30,000 feet, better this than a press acquiescing on bended knee, where it spent most of the Obama years in a slavish Pravda-like thrall. Every democracy needs an opposition press. We d*** well have one now.

Taken together — and suspending judgment on which side is right on any particular issue — it is deeply encouraging that the sinews of institutional resistance to a potentially threatening executive remain quite resilient.

Madison’s genius was to understand that the best bulwark against tyranny was not virtue — virtue helps, but should never be relied upon — but ambition counteracting ambition, faction counteracting faction.

You see it even in the confirmation process for Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s supremely qualified and measured Supreme Court nominee. He’s a slam dunk, yet some factions have scraped together a campaign to block him. Their ads are plaintive and pathetic. Yet I find them warmly reassuring. What a country — where even the vacuous have a voice.

The anti-Trump opposition flatters itself as “the resistance.” As if this is Vichy France. It’s not. It’s 21st-century America. And the good news is that the checks and balances are working just fine.

 

Charles Krauthammer’s email address is letters@charleskrauthammer.com.

Copyright 2017, The Washington Post Writers Group

Article source: https://stream.org/american-democracy-not-decadent/

6 Takeaways From Neil Gorsuch’s First Day of Questioning

President Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, addressed multiple hot-button issues Tuesday during his first day of questioning before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The controversial topics included abortion, religious liberty, gun rights, sexism, and Trump’s so-called travel ban.

Here are six takeaways from Gorsuch’s responses to questions from the committee’s Democrats and Republicans:

1. Abortion and Roe v. Wade

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., asked Gorsuch: “Do you view Roe as having superprecedent?”

The Supreme Court’s 7-2 decision in Roe v. Wade legalized abortion across the nation in 1973.

Gorsuch agreed it is, acknowledging that Roe has been “reaffirmed many times” by lower courts, but said he is not able to predetermine how he would rule in related cases.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, chairman of the committee, asked Gorsuch whether the Supreme Court correctly decided Roe.

Gorsuch replied that while judges should respect precedent, that does not give him the freedom to project future decisions.

“I would tell you that Roe v. Wade, decided in 1973, is precedent of the United States Supreme Court,” Gorsuch said. “It has been reaffirmed … So a good judge will consider as precedent of the United States Supreme Court worthy as treatment of precedent like any other.”

He added:

If it looks like I’m giving hints or previews or intimations about how I might rule, I think that is the beginning of the end of the independent judiciary. … Respectfully, Senator, I have not done that in this process, and I’m not about to start.

2. Guns and the Second Amendment

Gorsuch faced questions about the Second Amendment, at one point responding, “Heller is the law of the land.”

In District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court overturned the virtual banning of handgun possession in Chicago and Washington, D.C., upholding the Second Amendment rights of Americans.

Feinstein pressed Gorsuch about whether he “agrees” with the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s opinion in the case, which upheld an individual’s right to bear arms but, she said, suggested some firearms could be outlawed.

Gorsuch responded:

Heller makes clear the standard that we judges are supposed to apply. The question is whether it is a gun in common use for self-defense, and that may be subject to reasonable regulation. That’s the test as I understand it. There is lots of ongoing litigation about which weapons qualify under those standards. And I can’t prejudge that litigation.

3. Sexism and Women’s Rights

Gorsuch addressed accusations from a former law student who claimed he had encouraged sexist hiring practices in the classroom.

The student in question, Jennifer Sisk, took one of the Supreme Court nominee’s classes at the University of Colorado Law School. In a letter sent to lawmakers Sunday night, she wrote that Gorsuch said “many” working women exploit employers when receiving maternity benefits.

The Daily Signal reported Monday that Sisk has close ties to the Democratic Party. She is a former political appointee of the Obama administration and worked for former Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado, a Democrat. In covering Sisk’s allegations, some media outlets did not initially disclose those ties.

Questioned by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Gorsuch — who said he first heard about the accusation the night before his hearings began — responded by saying he wanted to clear up a misunderstanding.

“I teach from a standard textbook … there is one question in the book that is directed at young women — because sadly, this is a reality that they sometimes face,” Gorsuch said.

“The problem is this: Suppose an older woman at the firm that you’re interviewing at asks you if you intend to become pregnant soon, what are your choices as a young woman?” Gorsuch asked rhetorically. “You can say yes, and tell the truth … and not get the job and not be able to pay your debts [from law school]. You can lie, maybe get the job, say no, that’s a choice too, it’s a hard choice. Or you can push back in some way, shape or form.”

4. Religious Freedom and Hobby Lobby

Gorsuch spoke favorably of protecting religious liberty in cases such as the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision in 2014.

“Hobby Lobby came to court and said, ‘We deserve protections too. We’re a small, family-held company …,’” Gorsuch said

of the retail chain. “They exhibit their religious affiliations openly in their business.”

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4, as The Daily Signal reported, that the government can’t compel a “closely held” business such as Hobby Lobby to cover abortion-inducing drugs or devices in employee health plans if doing so would violate the employer’s moral and religious beliefs.

Gorsuch credited liberal Democrats for their role in proposing, passing and enacting the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993.

He said RFRA, whose sponsor in the House was then-Rep. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., helped inform his judgment on matters relating to religious freedom, including the Hobby Lobby case.

Schumer is now among Gorsuch’s critics as Senate minority leader. Gorsuch was part of the 5-3 majority on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that ruled for Hobby Lobby before the case went to the Supreme Court.

In his opinion supporting the retail chain, Gorsuch wrote:

It is not for secular courts to rewrite the religious complaint of a faithful adherent, or to decide whether a religious teaching about complicity imposes ‘too much’ moral disapproval on those only ‘indirectly’ assisting wrongful conduct. Whether an act of complicity is or isn’t ‘too attenuated’ from the underlying wrong is sometimes itself a matter of faith we must respect.

Schumer, along with Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., “wrote a very very strict law,” Gorsuch said. “And it says that any sincerely held religious belief cannot be abridged by the government without a compelling reason.”

“I have applied that same law, RFRA,” he added, “to Muslim prisoners in Oklahoma, to Native Americans who wished to use an existing sweat lodge in Wyoming, and to Little Sisters of the Poor.”

Because Congress previously “has defined ‘person’ to include corporation,” Gorsuch said, it was lawful to afford Hobby Lobby religious freedom protections.

“So you can’t rule out the possibility that some companies can exercise religion,” Gorsuch said, adding, “And of course we know churches are often incorporated and we know nonprofits, like Little Sisters or hospitals, can practice religion.”

5. Trump’s ‘Travel Ban’

When Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., asked how he would rule on cases such as Trump’s executive order temporarily restricting travel from seven terrorism-prone nations, Gorsuch said it would be “improper” for him to comment.

“I’m not going to say anything here that would give anybody any idea how I’d rule in any case like that that could come before the Supreme Court or my court at the 10th Circuit,” Gorsuch said, adding:

It would be grossly improper of a judge to do that. It would be a violation of the separation of powers and judicial independence if someone sitting at this table, in order to get confirmed, had to make promises or commitments about how they’d rule in a case that’s currently pending and likely to make its way to the Supreme Court.

Leahy’s question attempted to get Gorsuch’s opinion on Trump’s revised executive order to impose the temporary travel restrictions on residents of six countries the Obama administration and Congress had designated as posing risks of terrorism.

6. ‘No Man is Above the Law’

Throughout the day, Gorsuch reiterated his personal convictions about equal justice under the law, and said no person should ever receive preferential treatment.

“No man is above the law,” Gorsuch said more than once, responding to Democrats’ suggestions that he could not be independent of Trump.

After nearly 10 hours of testimony Tuesday, Gorsuch was expected to continue answering questions from the Judiciary Committee through Wednesday.

 

This report rounds up earlier reports by The Daily Signal on the second day of Gorsuch’s confirmation hearings.

Copyright 2017 The Daily Signal

Article source: https://stream.org/6-takeaways-neil-gorsuchs-first-day-questioning/

Gorsuch Confounds Democratic Members of Congress During Beginning of Confirmation Hearings for SCOTUS

Confirmation hearings for President Trump’s SCOTUS nominee Neil Gorsuch began this week with a strong showing by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals judge. Since Gorsuch is the proposed heir to conservative SCOTUS stalwart Antonin Scalia, Democrats prepared for a contentious battle opposing the nomination.

They asked many gotcha questions, hoping to trip Gorsuch up so he would say something to make him look unqualified. Their goal was to “Bork” him: bring out so many of his past conservative positions that they could — with the help of liberal media — make him look like a far right extremist.

That was the way they defeated President Reagan’s very qualified nominee Robert Bork in 1997. Of course, one key difference is the Senate today is now controlled by Republicans. In 1997, Democrats held a 54-46 majority over Republicans.

Deftly Slipping Around Their Traps

Gorsuch deftly slipped around all of their traps with a friendly smile. He didn’t duck questions, but gave solid answers or explained why it would be improper to answer a question. When Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) asked how he would rule on Trump banning Muslims entering the country, G0rsuch said it would be “grossly improper” to tell how he would rule on a case that’s currently pending. Similarly, he explained that he cannot commit to make rulings on future cases.

The Democrats couldn’t successfully pin many conservative judicial opinions on Gorsuch from his time as an appeals court judge, and he has been involved in very little partisan activity outside of the courtroom.

Democrats attempted to associate the nominee with previous court decisions they didn’t like. One of the most important was Citizens United, which opened the door for unlimited campaign expenditures by third parties like corporations. Gorsuch sidestepped some of those questions, for the reason that he did not author the decisions. He did explain in some cases why the majority ruled the way it did.

At other times, he explained it’s not a matter of agreeing or disagreeing, but following the law. He painstakingly explained to some of the members of Congress that judges merely interpret the law, which is done based on precedent. They don’t make the law. That is the legislature’s duty. He declared, “I don’t care if the case is about abortion or widgets, when a district court makes a factual finding, that deserves our respect.”

When Sen. Feinstein (D-Cal.), asked Gorsuch why he defended George W. Bush’s polices on the war on terror when he was an attorney for the Department of Justice in 2005-6, he said he wasn’t a policymaker at the time, merely a lawyer. He also declined to comment on statements Trump had made about judges, saying that wasn’t his role. “Nobody speaks for me, and I don’t speak for anybody else.”

The Democrats were unable to successfully pin many conservative judicial opinions on Gorsuch from his time as an appeals court judge, and he has been involved in very little partisan activity outside of the courtroom. As Carrie Severino of the Judicial Crisis Network put it, “If you’ve been on the [circuit court] bench over a decade and a coordinated partisan attack machine can only find 1.5 cases to complain about, you’re good.” Trump wisely picked someone who has very few opinions and statements that can be held against him.

Not Politicians, But Teachers

If there was a theme to Gorsuch’s responses, Severino said it best: “Judges shouldn’t be politicians. They should be teachers.” The Democrats were at a loss how to respond. They tried hard to paint him as a judicial activist, willing to bend the law in order to achieve his partisan ideals, but failed to prove even a single instance.

It is unlikely that the calm, cool and collected Gorsuch will waiver through the rest of the hearings. With Republicans in control of the Senate, it is difficult to see how he can be thwarted. Tellingly, by the time the last hour rolled around on Tuesday, there were no Democratic Senators left to question him.

Article source: https://stream.org/gorsuch-confounds-democratic-members-of-congress-during-beginning-of-confirmation-hearings-for-scotus/

Immigrants Charged in Rape of Girl as Rockville Debates Becoming Sanctuary City

Rockville, Md., the city home to the recent immigrant high school rape scandal, is considering declaring itself a sanctuary city to hide illegals.

Although Rockville police have had a long-standing policy neither to question suspected illegals about their immigration status, or to cooperate with federal immigration authorities, the city is now considering the process of formalizing that informal standard by becoming a sanctuary city.

Rockville City Councilmember Julie Palakovich Carr introduced an ordinance in early March in response to President Donald Trump’s pledge to beat back illegal immigration.

Carr forwarded the ordinance at a hearing March 6 overflowing with local residents, including those in favor of turning Rockville into an official sanctuary city, and those vehemently against.

But the discussion has now become much more complicated, as recently, two immigrants, Henry E. Sanchez from Guatemala, and Jose O. Montano, from El Salvador, were charged Thursday for allegedly raping a 14-year-old girl at Rockville High School.

The charges include first-degree rape and first-degree sexual offense.

The girl told police that Montano pushed her into the boys’ bathroom and into a stall, at which point Sanchez joined him and the two took turns sexually assaulting her.

It’s unclear why Sanchez and Montano, 18 and 17 respectively, are allowed in the ninth grade at the high school and a spokeswoman for the school refused to explain the situation to The Washington Post.

What is clear, however, is that Sanchez has a “alien removal” case against him currently pending.

Montano is being charged as an adult, despite being a juvenile, because of the gravity of the allegations.

And according to Montgomery County Assistant States Attorney Rebecca MacVittie, Sanchez is a “substantial flight risk.”

That both are a flight risk is precisely why the judge in the case said they must be held in custody without bond until their next court hearing. Montano’s hearing is set for March 31 and Sanchez’s is set for April 14.

Follow Jonah Bennett on Twitter. Send tips to jonah@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

Copyright 2017 The Daily Caller News Foundation

Article source: https://stream.org/rockville-md-considers-becoming-sanctuary-city-amid-immigrate-rape-outrage/

Here are 4 Possible Outcomes for Gorsuch Confirmation

Confirmation hearings for Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court choice, will begin Monday, with the process culminating in one of four likely outcomes.

Gorsuch, a 49-year-old federal appeals judge, could potentially see these outcomes as his confirmation process unfolds:

  1. He is confirmed with at least 51 votes after there are 60 votes to end debate, ending the threat of a filibuster.
  2. He is confirmed with at least 51 votes if Republicans choose to implement the nuclear option.
  3. He is confirmed with at least 51 votes after Republicans use the two-speech rule, a Senate rule that mandates the Senate stay in the same legislative day until filibustering senators give up on their efforts.
  4. His nomination is withdrawn by Trump.

Rachel Bovard, director of policy services at The Heritage Foundation and a former Senate aide, told The Daily Signal in an email that Gorsuch will likely get 60 votes to end debate “mostly because [Democrats] can’t seem to muster serious objections to him.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has made it clear that he intends to confirm Gorsuch in the near term, telling Politico, “We’re gonna confirm him before the April recess.”

If Republicans use the nuclear option or the two-speech rule, the 60-vote threshold to end debate would be waived and just one vote with 51 senators voting in the affirmative would be required, according to Bovard.

A report from James Wallner, a former Senate aide and group vice president for research at The Heritage Foundation, and Ed Corrigan, executive director of the Senate Steering Committee and a former group vice president for policy promotion at The Heritage Foundation, explained how the two-speech rule works:

Minority obstruction may be curtailed by strictly enforcing Rule XIX (the two-speech rule) on the Senate floor. Doing so simply requires the Senate to remain in the same legislative day until the filibustering members have exhausted their ability to speak on the nominee in question. This is the point at which those members who are committed to blocking that nominee’s confirmation have given the two floor speeches allotted to them under Rule XIX. Once this point is reached, the Presiding Officer may put the question (call for a vote) on confirmation. The support of a simple majority of the members present and voting is sufficient for confirmation.

John Malcolm, the director of the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies and a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal in an email that he thinks it is “highly likely that Gorsuch will get 60 votes to invoke cloture and bring his nomination to the floor of the Senate for an up-or-down vote.”

Anthony L. François, a senior attorney at the Pacific Legal Foundation, also says he believes this is the likeliest scenario.

“My expectation is that Democrat leadership in the Senate will insist on a cloture vote for Judge Gorsuch’s nomination, but that the motion will receive 60 votes, and that he will then be confirmed with a range of 55 to 60 votes,” François said in an email to The Daily Signal.

According to Senate rules, 60 votes are needed to invoke cloture or end debate on the nominee.

If a filibuster is not threatened, only a simple majority, 51 votes, are needed to confirm the nominee, according to Bovard.

Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director of the Judicial Crisis Network, thinks Gorsuch will likely get some support from Democrats.

“It would be no surprise to me if senators in red states who are up for re-election in 2018 voted with the interest of their constituents rather than embracing the partisan gridlock [Senate Minority Leader] Chuck Schumer is advocating,” Severino said.

Malcolm says this confirmation process potentially will be less contested than that of future Supreme Court nominees.

“I think that the Democrats realize they have likely lost on this issue, and will keep their powder dry for the next Supreme Court vacancy where the stakes will be much higher,” Malcolm said. “I could be wrong, though, because [the] Democratic base is furious and may demand that the Democrats go after Gorsuch with everything they’ve got.”

Bovard said it is also likely that Gorsuch will receive the 60 votes needed to end debate because Democrats from red states will be “loath to be seen as obstructionist.”

Gorsuch going down in defeat, according to Malcolm, is not probable.

“The only way it happens is if the Democrats mount and sustain a successful filibuster and the Republicans refuse to go nuclear or invoke the two-speech rule,” Malcolm said.

The nuclear option and the two-speech rule have never been invoked or used against a nominee for the high court, according to Bovard.

Five of the past seven Supreme Court justices received more than 60 confirmation votes and two sitting justices, Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Samuel Alito, were confirmed with fewer than 60 votes, according to The Washington Post.

Justice Antonin Scalia received a confirmation vote of 98-0.

François said he believes Gorsuch has a clear path to confirmation:

His broad spectrum support from liberal as well as conservative law professors, attorneys, law school classmates, former clerks, and others has entirely overwhelmed the cartoonish opposition that left wing groups have tried to mount against him by cherry picking and misreading his opinions.

“The procedural path through confirmation may be a bit murky at the moment,” he added, “but I think we are nonetheless talking about the next Supreme Court justice to be seated.”

Gorsuch was nominated by Trump in January to fill the seat of Scalia, who died last February.

 

Copyright 2017 The Daily Signal

Article source: https://stream.org/here-are-4-possible-outcomes-for-gorsuch-confirmation/

Do Pro-Lifers Want the Government to Regulate a Woman’s Body?

The slogan made a compelling point: “No part of a man’s body is regulated by politicians. Equality cannot exist until the same is true of a woman’s body.” They’re right in a sense. The government doesn’t regulate a man’s body. It can’t force him to tattoo his back, ingest a certain food, or amputate his arm. Why should the government regulate a woman’s body, specifically her reproductive organs, and demand her to continue a pregnancy against her will?

Though this reasoning seems correct, there are three missteps in thinking that radically alter the conclusion.

The government shouldn’t regulate your body, but it should regulate what you do with your body

I agree that politicians should stay out of the private affairs of law-abiding citizens. The government has no business forcing people to do — or not do — things to their body. What the government can do, though, is regulate what people do with their bodies. For example, we have laws against using your body to assault another person. The government, in this case, is regulating a part of your body — your fists. We also have laws preventing you from killing another innocent person, thereby regulating your body another way. In both of these examples, you’ll notice we find it reasonable for the government to regulate what you do with your body in a particular instance: whenever you use it to harm another person. That brings us to the next point.

What is done during an abortion is not done to the woman’s body, but to another person’s body.

The unborn is not part of the mother’s body, like her appendix, tonsils, or uterus. Those parts belong to the woman. When they’re surgically removed (denoted by the addition of the suffix “-ectomy”), we recognize that part of a woman’s body has been removed. An appendectomy removes the woman’s appendix, a tonsillectomy removes a woman’s tonsils, and a hysterectomy removes her uterus. But if the unborn is just part of the mother’s body, then what part of the woman is missing after an abortion? We know a mother has not lost any body part after such a procedure. That’s because the unborn is not part of her body, but it’s her child’s body. An abortion doesn’t merely affect her body, but another body that has been growing inside her own.

That the unborn is a unique individual human being is also proven by the science of embryology. From the moment of conception, the unborn’s DNA is different from the mother, a detail that forensic scientists use to distinguish between different people. The unborn also has its own fingerprints, heart, and brain. The unborn can also be conceived outside of the mother’s body — in a laboratory dish — and placed inside her uterus days later. That’s proof it’s not her body, but another body being implanted in her womb.

This fact makes the first point even more relevant. If it’s reasonable for the government to regulate what you do with your body when you harm another person, then abortion can also be regulated (or prevented). That’s because the unborn is another body and abortion clearly harms that body.

The demand for equality should not grant a woman the right to an abortion, but restrict her ability to get an abortion.

If women want equal treatment — and I agree they should get it — then they should be prevented from procuring an abortion. After all, men are prevented from killing an innocent human being. Equality cannot exist until women are prevented from doing the exact same thing. All that pro-lifers are asking is for the law to be applied equally to both men and women.

Currently, the law does not prohibit abortion. What the pro-life community demands is consistency. Men can’t kill a toddler on a playground. Women can’t either. Laws regulate what men and women can and can’t do to toddlers. That’s consistent. But although a man can’t kill a woman’s unborn child, a woman can kill the very same child if she desires. That’s not consistent. We’re not asking the government to regulate what a woman can do to her own body, but to regulate what she can do with her body, especially when it involves killing an innocent human being. That’s genuine equality for men, women, and unborn children.

 

Copyright 2017 Stand to Reason. Republished with permission.

Article source: https://stream.org/do-pro-lifers-want-the-government-to-regulate-a-womans-body/

Why It’s Important to Inoculate (Rather Than Isolate) Our Young People

One Sunday, after the morning church service, I picked my daughter up from the youth ministry where she was still visiting with her pastor, his wife and their two baby daughters. The twins were five months old and were sleeping peacefully in their strollers, even though the room was filled with activity. Students were running back and forth, laughing with one another and playing the worship instruments on the stage. Music was blaring through the PA system and one student was even pounding on the drum set.

Through all of this, the babies seemed undeterred. They slept as though they were nestled in the corner of a quiet library. Their mother, Rachael, noticed my interest and said, “Don’t worry about them, they can sleep through anything, they’ve been in this group since the day they were born. They’re used to the noise.” I struck me that Rachael’s babies were a great example of our need to inoculate Christian students rather than isolate them from the noise of our culture.

As a parent of teens, a former youth pastor and now a Christian Case Maker, I’ve given this issue a lot of thought over the years, especially after my first year as a youth leader. In my early years in youth ministry, I witnessed the spiritual exodus of many of my students once they graduated from our youth group. I had to make a decision about my strategy going forward. How could I best prepare young people to face the challenges of the secular culture?

Should I equip them with strategies to isolate themselves from the influences they would ultimately face, or would it be better to expose them to the cultural challenges from the onset? Should we encourage isolation or embrace inoculation? I think you probably know my preference. Youth pastors need to think of themselves as “inoculators”: we possess the one true cure that can protect our students from the hazards of the culture. Have we been preparing them in our ministries or simply pacifying them? If we want to move from “entertaining” to “intentional training,” we’re going to need to become good inoculators.

Good Inoculators Prepare Their Inoculation

Inoculations are created from small quantities of the virus we are trying to treat. We expose patients to the virus in a limited, controlled way to allow their immune systems to develop the antibodies necessary to fight the virus should they encounter it more robustly in the future. If we are trying to help students resist the lies of the culture, we’re going to need to prepare an inoculation that exposes them to the secular worldview.

Good Inoculators Have Supply On Hand

Doctors can’t provide an inoculation unless they have a supply from which to draw. If we want to inoculate our students from the false teaching of the culture, we’re going to have to stock up our dispensaries with all the training materials necessary for the task. This means many of us, as youth pastors are going to need to start training ourselves so we will have a deep well from which to draw. We’re going to have to become good Christian Case Makers if we hope to be good inoculators.

Good Inoculators Treat Prior to Exposure

Inoculations are useless once the patient have been exposed to the virus. Inoculations must precede exposure in order to be effective. That’s why we need to start training young Christians very early in order to help them resist the influences of the culture. You might not think junior-highers are capable of (or even interested in) Christian Case Making, but you’re wrong. If we take an approach that is accessible and relevant, we can engage young people on the toughest issues facing us as Christians.

Good Inoculators Are Careful About Dosage

Doctors use a very small dose in order to train the body to resist greater exposure. We need to do something similar as we train young people to resist errant thinking. Start small; begin training logic and critical thinking. Then move on the evidences that support our beliefs as Christians. Finally, begin to address the claims of the culture and the objections to the Christian worldview. Begin modestly, but allow yourself time to eventually address the most critical and vigorous objections. Be careful not to create straw men you can easily overcome; represent the opposing views faithfully and richly. Then take the time to demonstrate the fallacies.

Young people are going to encounter doubts about their Christian worldview. All of us have questions at one time or another. It was my goal as a youth pastor to make sure my students didn’t encounter a single objection in their secular environment they didn’t first encounter (and address) in my youth ministry. I tried to make sure my students weren’t surprised by anything a professor or fellow student might offer. I wanted my students to be fully inoculated and prepared to make a case for Christianity and be a good ambassador for Christ; to stand confidently in a noisy world, just like Rachael’s babies. I knew I couldn’t accomplish that by isolating and entertaining them. Instead I tried to expose my students to the cultural “noise” in an effort to inoculate and train them.

J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of Cold-Case ChristianityCold-Case Christianity for KidsGod’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith.

 

Copyright 2017 Cold-Case Christianity. Republished with permission.

Article source: https://stream.org/why-its-important-to-inoculate-rather-than-isolate-our-young-people/

Menstruating Men and the Latest Examples of Transanity

Have you heard about Toni the Tampon who teaches children that men can get periods too? Or about the mother and son who are about to become father and daughter? What about the transgender pastor who teaches that God is transgender?

This morning, as I was planning to write this very article, I received three emails from three different friends in three different parts of the country, all with links to different news headlines on major news websites, all with one theme in common: radical transgender activism. In fact, the links were to the three stories I mentioned here. My reply to each person was the same: This will be included in my latest article!

Transanity at Our Door

You see, this is something knocking at our doors, not something we went looking for. This is something being reported in the NY Post and the Daily Mail, which are major news outlets, albeit with a touch of sensationalism. This is what our kids are dealing with in their schools, what’s coming their way (and ours) via Hollywood, what’s being debated from the White House down to the local courthouse.

That’s why I address these issues, and that’s why I’ll continue to sound the wake-up call to our nation: There is an all-out war on sexual difference (often referred to as “gender”), and if it wins the day, it will lead to societal chaos.

But first, my standard caveat. We’re not just dealing with issues, we’re dealing with people. Some of them have biological or chromosomal abnormalities and are classified as intersex, and do not fit conveniently into our simple male or female boxes. We should treat them with compassion and respect, helping them find wholeness, just as we would treat anyone else with a physical handicap or defect.

Others – perhaps the larger number and the more vocal – are not intersex and simply suffer from gender identity confusion (now called gender dysphoria, primarily due to political pressure put on the APA by transgender activists). They too deserve our compassion (who can imagine the pain they have lived with?), but compassion calls us to dig deeper and helps us get to the root cause of their struggles, with the goal being transformation from the inside out (rather than from the outside in).

So, I do not write to mock or to degrade others in their struggle. I write to say (in loud, bold terms): God has a better way!

Five Recent Examples of Transanity

Here, then, are 5 recent examples of transanity.

1) Dr. Susan Berry reports, “The author of a children’s coloring book has invented a character named ‘Toni the Tampon’ to instruct children that men can menstruate.

“Cass Clemmer, the author of The Adventures of Toni the Tampon, has been using her coloring book character to ‘destigmatize’ menstruation. Now, however, she also wants to ‘de-gender’ the female biological process and to persuade children that men get periods too.”

Note to Cass: Men do not get periods, because menstruation is the result of ovulation, when the ovaries release an egg for fertilization. As explained by the Mayo Clinic, “If ovulation takes place and the egg isn’t fertilized, the lining of the uterus sheds through the vagina. This is a menstrual period.”

Fact: A man doesn’t have a uterus or a vagina or ovaries or eggs, which is why men can’t menstruate. Toni the Tampon is hereby corrected!

And sorry, Toni, but saying that a woman (especially one who still has her female organs intact and still menstruates) who identifies as a man is now a man is like saying that a woman who dresses up as her team’s tiger mascot is actually a tiger. Not so!

2) An article on LGBTQ Nation announces, “Father daughter both come out as transgender, will transition together.” So, this is about a man and his daughter who now want to become a woman and a boy, right? Not at all. It’s about a mother and her son who want to become a man and a girl, yet the article refers to them as “father and daughter.”

On the one hand, I would encourage Christian conservatives to read this article, since it forces us to look at people and not just issues, and it’s hard not to feel pain for these two as they share their stories.

It’s not like they’re perverted sinners engaging in all kinds of horrific acts. Rather, they both have struggled deeply with their gender identity, with the mother saying, “When I was younger I used to wish for cancer so I would have to get a mastectomy.”

But compassion would say, “Let’s find out why you have struggled so deeply with a being a woman,” (and to the son, “Let’s find out why you have struggled so deeply with a being a boy”). In contrast, confusion says, “The woman has become this child’s father because she no longer identifies as a woman, and the son has become her daughter because he no longer identifies as a boy.”

May God help this family.

3) The Christian Post reports that a transgender pastor who opposes Texas’s bathroom bill teaches that “God is transgender.”

This pastor argues, “In the beginning, God created humankind in God’s image. … So God is transgender. We’re all created in the image of what is holy and divine and sacred, and we should all be treated that way.”

I addressed this deeply mistaken notion last year in my article, “A Rabbi Claims That God Is Transgender.” But in short, Genesis 1 does not teach that God is transgender (because He creates human beings in His image, male and female), any more than it teaches that God has sexual body parts or that He physically procreates.

Rather, it teaches that the fullness of male and female distinctives are found in Him, which does not mean that God is not transgender. Rather, it means that He transcends gender. And so, while male pronouns are used to describe and refer to Him, and while He is called the heavenly Father (not Mother), He can be likened to a compassionate mother, because, as stated, as an eternal Spirit, He transcends gender categories.

More importantly – really, much more importantly when it comes to the bathroom controversies – in the beginning He created us as male and female and called us to procreate (“Be fruitful and multiply”), which only a distinct male and a distinct female can do. There is no ambiguity here, nor is there ambiguity regarding male and female distinctives throughout the entire Bible.

4)  Over at College Fix, we learn that “U. Minnesota drops homecoming ‘King and Queen’ — replaces with genderless ‘Royals’.”

Yes, “The University of Minnesota has become the latest university to do away with the traditional Homecoming King and Queen titles and replace them with the gender-neutral ‘Royals’ term.

“Taking it one step further, University of Minnesota officials also point out that the winners don’t even have to be one biological male and one biological female, stating on its website: ‘“Royals”… can be any combination of any gender identity.”

This kind of cultural insanity is so absurd that simply repeating these words is enough to expose the madness.

But there’s more: “Campus officials called the change a move ‘toward gender inclusivity’ that promotes ‘a spirit of inclusion at the University of Minnesota.’”

This is not “a spirit of inclusion”; this is a spirit of confusion.

5) Finally, an article on Vice tells the story of “The Trans Women Who Become Lesbians After Years as Gay Men.” (The article, which contains offensive language, actually celebrates this, noting, “There aren’t many people who are fortunate enough to have lived their lives first as gay men and later as lesbian women.”)

So, this is the story of biological men, who then identified as women, but who discovered they were attracted to women, and who now identify as lesbians.

The better course of action would have been to identify as biological males (which they are) who are attracted to women, as the vast majority of biological males are. But no. These biological males who have normal attractions to women now identify as lesbians.

This is why these examples of “transanity,” and this is why I will continue to raise my voice. The madness must stop. God has a better way.

Article source: https://stream.org/menstruating-men-latest-examples-transanity/

Justice Department Sued for Records About Lynch’s Tarmac Meeting With Clinton


In this Feb. 25, 2016, file photo, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch testifies before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.


By

Published on March 15, 2017

Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the Department of Justice for records related to the meeting between then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former President Bill Clinton while his wife was under an FBI investigation in the 2016 presidential campaign.

The conservative nonprofit watchdog group filed the suit after the Justice Department failed to respond to a June 29, 2016, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking transcripts of the June 2016 meeting, communications regarding the encounter, and any references to the meeting in Lynch’s calendar.

“The infamous tarmac meeting between President Clinton and AG Lynch is a vivid example of why many Americans believe the Obama administration’s criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton was rigged,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said.

“Now it will be up to Attorney General Sessions at the Trump Justice Department to finally shed some light on this subversion of justice,” Fitton said.

Clinton and Lynch met privately on a plane parked at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International airport on June 27, 2016. The FBI was investigating a private email server Clinton’s wife and then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton used during her time as secretary of state. The FBI interviewed her just days after her husband met with Lynch.

Lynch admitted that the meeting “cast a cloud” over the investigation. Clinton was not punished for what FBI Director James Comey called “extremely careless” actions surrounding her server.

Judicial Watch also requested the Justice Department’s inspector general investigate the meeting. The watchdog group also filed a lawsuit in October seeking FBI interviews into Clinton’s email practices, related communications, and records regarding the tarmac meeting.

 

Follow Ethan on Twitter. Send tips to ethan@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

Copyright 2017 Daily Caller News Foundation






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Article source: https://stream.org/justice-department-sued-records-lynchs-tarmac-meeting-clinton/

Prosecutor, Store Lawyer Say Ferguson Video Edited for Film


In this Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014, file photo, Kush Patel, right, carries out bags of merchandise while helping his uncle Andy Patel, rear, clean up the looting damage from Monday’s riots at his store, Ferguson Market and Liquor, in Ferguson, Mo. The store is disputing a new documentary’s claims that surveillance video suggests Michael Brown didn’t rob the store before he was fatally shot by police in Ferguson.


By

Published on March 13, 2017

FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — Surveillance video showing Michael Brown in a Ferguson, Missouri, convenience store in the early hours of the day he was fatally shot by a police officer was heavily edited by a documentary film crew, a prosecutor said Monday.

St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch dismissed the footage from the documentary Stranger Fruit during a news conference. The filmmakers and others say the video suggests Brown, a black 18-year-old, didn’t rob Ferguson Market Liquor before white Ferguson officer Darren Wilson shot him on a neighborhood street in August 2014.

Meanwhile, a lawyer for Ferguson Market Liquor, says he will release an unedited version of the video showing Brown in the store. Attorney Jay Kanzler said he planned to do so Monday after saying on Sunday he wants to disprove the claims that Brown didn’t rob the store on Aug. 9, 2014, just minutes before his death.

The documentary premiered Saturday at the South By Southwest festival in Austin, Texas.

Kanzler also says the video used in the documentary was edited.

About 100 protesters gathered outside the store Sunday night in response to the documentary. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that seven or eight shots were heard, but no injuries reported. Police arrested some protesters and cleared the scene when the market closed.

Prosecutors on Monday charged a St. Louis man with trying to set a Ferguson police car on fire during the protests. Police say Henry Stokes, 44, put a napkin in the gas tank opening of the police car and tried to use a lighter to set it aflame, but fled when police saw him.

One of the filmmakers, Jason Pollock, told The New York Times he believes the footage shows Brown trading a small amount of marijuana for a bag of cigarillos around 1 a.m. on Aug. 9, 2014. The video doesn’t clearly show what was exchanged, but shows Brown leaving behind the cigarillos.

Pollock reasons Brown intended to come back later for the bag of cigarillos. But a lawyer for the store and its employees said no such transaction took place, and that Brown stole the cigarillos when he returned to the store about 10 hours later.

“There was no understanding. No agreement. Those folks didn’t sell him cigarillos for pot. The reason he gave it back is he was walking out the door with unpaid merchandise and they wanted it back,” Kanzler told the New York newspaper.

 

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.






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Article source: https://stream.org/prosecutor-store-lawyer-say-ferguson-video-edited-film/

University Criticized for Banning Weight Scale at Gym



By

Published on March 13, 2017

A Canadian university is under fire after it removed the weight scale from its gym last week. Carleton University replaced the scale with a sign explaining that the removal is “in keeping with current fitness and social trends,” reports Heat Street.

Bruce Marshall, the manager of health and wellness programs at the college, explained that they removed the scale because it’s not healthy to constantly measure weight.

“Although it can be used as a tool to help measure certain aspects of fitness it does not provide a good overall indication of health and here at athletics we have chosen to move away from focusing solely on bodyweight,” Marshall said.

Some students have come out against the move, claiming that the college is being overly sensitive.

Aaron Bens, a communication and media studies student, found the decision to be “frustrating.” “We stand up for free speech and defend the books that offend certain people because of their merits. They can simply choose not to read them. This is the same thing. Those who are offended by the scale can simply choose not to use the scale,” Bens wrote to CBC News.

Other students agreed with Bens, saying that the scale can be necessary for athletes to use. “We shouldn’t remove something because some people abuse it,” another student said. “If they can’t handle the number that shows up on the scale then don’t step on it.”

A freshman at the university, Samar El Faki, agreed with taking the scale away. “Scales are very triggering,” she said. “I think people are being insensitive because they simply don’t understand. They think eating disorders are a choice when they are actually a serious illness.”

Due to the outrage, the college gym might consider bringing back the scale. “We will weigh the pros and cons and may reconsider our decision,” Marshall said.

 

Follow Amber on Twitter.

Send tips to amber@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

Copyright 2017 Daily Caller News Foundation






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Article source: https://stream.org/university-criticized-banning-weight-scale-gym/

Is Christian Belief Really ‘Blind Faith’?

What is “faith”? Is it a blind leap into the unknown? I hear atheists talking about “blind faith” all the time. One Facebook commenter  wrote,

The core problem is that religion teaches that holding absolute beliefs without evidence (aka faith) is a virtue.

That’s what some people think Christianity is all about: Faith is holding on to beliefs we have no evidence for. Unfortunately it isn’t just atheists who say that. A lot of Christians think faith is “believing without having actual reasons to believe” or something like that. It’s almost embarrassing when you think about it — if it’s true.

It Might Look Like Blind Faith

Thankfully it isn’t like that, as is easy to illustrate from the gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. All four gospels tell of Jesus calling Peter and Andrew to be His followers. The accounts in Matthew and Mark are similar. Here’s one of them. It could almost confuse you if you don’t get the full story.

While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. (Matthew 4:18-20)

This almost looks a lot like the way some people conceive of faith: with no background information, no knowledge, no reason whatsoever, they dropped everything, leaving their whole livelihood behind, and followed this Jesus they had just met for the first time. It looks a lot like what the atheist called “holding absolute beliefs without evidence.”

But They Had Good Information Beforehand

But is this what they really did? Not really. We’re supposed to draw our information from the whole Bible, so let’s do that, starting with John 1:35-42, which (scholars say) records something that happened a full year before the events of Matthew 4.

They trusted Him because they had good reasons to trust Him.

Jesus was walking by John the Baptist and two of John’s disciples. John saw him and called out, “Behold the Lamb of God!” Based on that solid reference, John’s two disciples turned and followed Jesus for that day. This wasn’t exactly leaving everything to follow him — yet.

The passage continues, “One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which means Christ).”

Andrew had been a disciple of John the Baptist, who had been preaching about Jesus Christ. As for Peter, he had a lot more than just a glance from Jesus to go on. He had strong personal references.

Finally a year later, after they’d had  plenty of time to think about this great man they had met, to ponder His teachings, and to hear of His reputation, He came back and called them to follow.

They Had Seen Jesus in Action, Too

But wait! — as they say — there’s more! Peter and Andrew had even more reasons to trust Christ enough to follow him. It’s in the book we haven’t looked at yet, Luke.

Before He ever called Peter and Andrew from their fishing boats, Jesus had already healed Peter’s mother-in-law of a serious fever. (Luke 4:38-39) Then in Luke 5:1-11 Jesus led these fishermen to a miraculously great catch of fish.

It wasn’t until after those two miracles, plus the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law, plus (before that) the year to think about him, plus the strong personal reference from John the Baptist before that, that they “left everything and followed him.”

Their faith in following Jesus was no blind leap. It was based on an experienced reality, on data they had had a chance to reflect upon. They trusted Him because they had good reasons to trust Him.

Of course they still had to have faith in Him to follow. They were trusting their whole lives and futures to this teacher Jesus, and to the God whom Jesus taught. But it was not belief against the evidence. It was belief built upon evidences and experience.

Jesus kept giving evidences for who he was throughout his ministry. After he rose from the dead, “He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs.” (Acts 1:3)

A tried and tested faith knows from study and experience that God is real and God is good.

That doesn’t mean God can’t turn a person’s heart around in an instant, for no outwardly visible reason at all. God can do whatever he wants. It also doesn’t mean that evidence is all it takes for a person to believe, for even where evidences and reasons exist, God still needs to draw people to Himself in His own way before they are converted.

Still, a tried and tested faith knows from both study and experience that God is real and God is good. For those who will explore it, Christian faith rests on the trustworthy testimony of history where the reports of Jesus’ life can be tested like any other historical report; and also on evidences from nature, human experience and philosophical reflection.

“Blind faith” isn’t what Christianity is about. Faith isn’t a leap into the dark against evidence. It’s a leap into the light of God, based on knowledge and experience.

 

Adapted from the Thinking Christian blog. Used by permission.

Article source: https://stream.org/is-christian-belief-blind-faith/

How Faith and Free Markets Can Save Education

In the wake of the campus riot at Middlebury where leftist students attacked an invited speaker and hospitalized a professor, I’ve had to paint a distressing, though truthful picture of the advanced state of decay reached by most of the existing, “legacy” institutions of higher education in America. Put bluntly:

If our civilization is to continue in a recognizable form, if the Christian humanism blended from faith and reason that has blessed the West is to have a sustainable future, we must try something different. But what are the prospects for restoring some apparatus that will pass along our values?

The stewards of the great works of our ancestors have become politicized vandals, as bad as any Bolshevik smashing up churches in 1918.

Think of the issue concretely, using this handy historical metaphor: In the eighth century, the Islamic conquest of Egypt cut off Europe’s supply of papyrus. Indeed, as Henri Pirenne argues in Mohammad and Charlemagne, the Islamic economic boycott on most goods, especially grain, did much more to bring on the chaos of the “Dark Ages” than the collapse of the sclerotic Roman empire. Without a supply of papyrus, how would Europeans replace the copies of ancient manuscripts from Greece and Rome, as the old ones dried up and perished?

The answer is that they couldn’t: countless works of science, literature and philosophy would never be recopied, and would be forever lost to history. Those works which did get recopied were the ones that monks considered important enough to inscribe on the much more expensive medium of parchment, made from animal skins.

Can we find alternative methods of passing along our beliefs and our ancestors’ hard-won achievements — or will they be lost, like the vanished plays of Sophocles?

Today we find that forces which are in some ways as hostile to Christian civilization as Muhammad’s own jihadis have captured the choke-points of culture and values: schools, major media, popular entertainment and especially higher learning. In other words, they control the paper supply. Can we find or found alternative methods of passing along our beliefs and our ancestors’ hard-won achievements — or will much of what we have inherited simply be lost, like the vanished plays of Sophocles? (He wrote 120. We have complete texts of only 7.)

Can We Create Alternative Institutions?

These are huge questions, so let’s limit ourselves to higher education here: Can Christians and other friends of the West create institutions that will:

  • Pass along the complex and beautiful content of our Christian civilization;
  • Prepare young people for productive livelihoods while supporting their walks of faith;
  • Let them emerge free of crushing student debt that inhibits them from getting married and having children; and
  • Support enough teachers at living wages, so that such institutions can carry on into the future?

It’s sobering to admit this, but the answer may well be “no.”

Certainly, we cannot educate millions of people through the tiny, niche, intentionally Christian colleges which have sprung up in the past few decades. Good as many of them are, they are barely a drop in the bucket of American education. What is more, hostile bureaucrats could easily regulate them out of existence, using anti-discrimination laws to make their religious missions effectively illegal. The narrow legal exceptions that protect such schools are shrinking all the time.

We should welcome and work with the serious Christian intellectuals who emerge from Patrick Henry or Thomas Aquinas colleges. But they would surely agree that we need a more broad-based solution — one that benefits, evangelizes and empowers the millions no longer well-served by public schools or public universities.

Online Education Could be the Answer

Here is where MOOCs come in. Massive Open Online Courses are already threatening the education monopoly enjoyed by “legacy” educational institutions. MOOCs offer high-quality lectures, discussion groups and opportunities for distance learning that once were restricted to bricks and mortar colleges.

For-profit online academies such as the University of Phoenix are already competing with traditional colleges for students, while religious colleges such as Regent University enroll large numbers of distance students. The massive waste entailed in today’s universities, from “diversity officers” to rock-climbing walls and dorms that resemble four-star hotels, makes online education extremely competitive.

We still have enough highly educated Christian, conservative and moderate scholars to offer the courses needed in liberal arts, theology, history, civics, economics and other disciplines. But we won’t for long, as such people age, and politicized graduate schools and hiring policies freeze out the next generation almost completely. So we’d better get cracking.

The Education Cartel

But there are major obstacles that face anyone trying to offer serious online education as a competitor to traditional universities. No one knows them better than Dick Bishirjian, who founded Yorktown University to accomplish exactly the mission laid out here: offering a balanced program of liberal arts, business, religion, history, economics and other subjects now neglected or perverted at most traditional colleges. He recruited qualified teachers, designed real curricula, found willing students … and after years of effort finally stopped offering courses in 2012. The insuperable problem he faced, and anyone like him will face? Accreditation.

While the regional cartels of colleges that control the accrediting process like to claim that they’re all about academic standards and keeping students from getting fleeced by shady operators, there are less high-minded reasons that administrators at bricks and mortar colleges won’t vote to accredit their online competitors.

In fact, as Bishirjian recounts, these regional accrediting bodies work hard to keep in place strict regulations which prevent almost any online educator from offering accredited college courses that will transfer between institutions unless … those courses are being offered by a school that also operates a physical campus. So state universities or overpriced private colleges can offer hundreds of online classes, with full accreditation, but a purely “virtual school” cannot.

Now it may be reassuring to know that somewhere a school has red brick buildings covered with ivy, and beer-soaked dorms full of athletes. But it is hardly decisive to whether a program offers actual educational benefits.

No, this is a crony capitalist monopoly operation, by which “legacy” institutions keep out competitors. Since most of the brick and mortar schools have been captured by leftists and secularists, these regulations hurt Christians disproportionately — just as laws against home-schooling did decades ago. Indeed, sometimes these regulations are used against us explicitly, as New England’s accreditors did when they targeted Gordon College.

Learn from the Home Schooling Movement

So we must get behind efforts to pry education loose from the tight fists of politicized and secularized colleges, and open up new and entrepreneurial means to provide our students with good educations, valid degrees and the stepping stones to success. Bishirjian lays out the legal steps that will be needed to let online education step forward and start to replace the top-heavy, wasteful and massively biased educational establishment. As Bishirjian writes:

By lowering the importance of academic  “accreditation,” or completely eliminating it by creative state and federal legislation, a free market in competing education products can be created in which education entrepreneurs can begin to shape the future of American higher education.

Bishirjian offers detailed legal and regulatory reforms that would make this possible:

  • Prohibit members of Congress and congressional staff from employment with colleges or universities.
  • Repeal the Negotiated Rulemaking Act of 1990.
  • Direct the regional accreditation agencies to accredit institutions from outside their “regions.”
  • Direct the regional agencies to immediately recognize solely Internet-based institutions for accreditation.
  • No longer require institutions not participating in Title IV programs to adhere to U.S. Department of Education Title IV regulations.
  • Lower the percentage of three-year default rates from 30% to 20%. Institutions with three-year default rates will immediately lose access to Title IV programs.
  • No longer permit regional agencies to accredit Internet-based programs and recognize a new national agency for accreditation of Internet delivered programs.  
  • Charter an agency solely for the accreditation of MOOCs and adjust Title IV regulations to permit offering MOOCs for degree credit, if an institution offering MOOCs chooses not to participate in Title IV.
  • Shift Title IV funds to the States in block grants.
  • Encourage the States to subsidize corporations that create training programs.
  • Abolish NACIQI or reform its method of appointing members.
  • Abolish the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Form an “Education Consumer Revolt” political action committee.

If you want more of Bishirjian’s perspective, or would like to hear his story, check out his remarks here:
 

 

Whether or not you agree with each of these proposals, it is clear that we Christians must use the means available to us to pass along the Gospel and the civilization it created. If existing laws and institutions make that impossible, we must change them or work around them. Home-schooling was once an exotic, often illegal phenomenon. Now it’s a thriving alternative to failing primary and high schools. Online education, carefully crafted and intelligently advocated, may be the next revolution we need to lead.

Online education might sound odd or quixotic to us — as the prospect of monks writing on stretched-out calfskin might have seemed to Christians in 700 or so, as the paper supply dried up. But those monks saved civilization using the means that God allowed them. We can do it again today.

Article source: https://stream.org/how-faith-free-markets-save-education/

Why Protectionism Won’t Work for America

Given the rising hostility towards free trade these days, you’d think that trade barriers had been falling like dominoes across the globe. Not so.

In June 2016, the World Trade Organization noted that over the preceding six months the world had witnessed one of the highest increases in protectionist measures in recent years. This outstripped removals of trade restrictions in the same period.

Protectionism is clearly on the march. It’s not hard to understand why. The economic change unleashed by free trade is always unsettling for some people, not all of whom are well-positioned to cope. Then there is the fact that free trade’s benefits for millions of Americans, such as falling prices over the long-term, go largely unnoticed by most of us.

These difficulties, however, shouldn’t distract us from a major problem with protectionism — the fact that it doesn’t deliver on its promises. Quite the contrary.

A Good Label for a Bad Cause

The very word “protectionism” is one of its selling points. It implies that those who favor protectionist measures want to shield, guard and defend Americans from forces which undermine their economic welfare. But does protectionism realize these goals?

Generally speaking, the answer is: no.

In the first place, measures to protect particular businesses don’t buffer them from the technological changes that are among the biggest disruptors of the economic status quo. No subsidy from the federal government in 1900 could protect the American horse-and-buggy industry from the birth of the modern car when Karl Benz built the first prototype in Germany in 1885. His technology crossed the Atlantic and Henry Ford eventually developed the Model-T. This created wealth for many, jobs for millions, and greater ease for all.

Technological change has also made parts of America’s economy, such as modern manufacturing, much more productive. That’s partly because machines increasingly perform many of the often highly-repetitive functions once done by humans. For the same reason, manufacturing probably will never again provide the same proportion of jobs for the American economy which it did until the 1970s. The point, however, is that tariffs and subsidies for American manufacturing won’t change that situation because tariffs and subsidies can’t stop technological innovation.

Imposing tariffs on other countries to retaliate for their protectionist measures against American products may well hurt those nations. But it also hurts Americans.

Second, it’s true that imposing tariffs on other countries to retaliate for their protectionist measures against American products may well hurt those nations. But they also hurt Americans.

Between 1981 and 1984, the US imposed import quotas on the car industry. In this case, the import quota sought to limit foreign car imports and thus ostensibly benefit American car manufacturers and workers. Indeed, approximately 22,000 jobs were saved.

Unfortunately, it also resulted in a 41 percent average price increase in the cost of a new American car over that same period. In other words, this protectionist policy encouraged the American car industry to be less efficient. Millions of American consumers picked up the bill. 

The problems didn’t end here. The price-increases contributed to lower demand for cars from those same American consumers. That led to fewer sales and subsequent lay-offs of over 50,000 American workers by car manufacturers. As one report retrospectively noted, “Thus, even though 22,000 jobs apparently were saved, the layoffs caused by the price increase actually produced a net loss of 30,000 jobs.”

This is a classic illustration of how the cost of protectionist measures can outweigh any benefits. The same is true of policies that seek to punish American companies who choose to relocate elements of their operations outside America to reduce costs.

The moment America starts to do that, other governments would likely retaliate by punishing any company in their countries who might want to invest in the United States or relocate operations to America. Do we really want Japanese car companies that have created almost 700,000 jobs in America by moving many of their operations and factories to America to transfer their facilities back to Japan?

Such decisions would mean less foreign investment and business activity in the United States. This means less competition, higher prices, less-efficient resource allocation, and lower productivity for the US. In other words, America loses.

Protectionist Privileges

There is, however, one group that benefits — albeit temporarily — from tariffs and subsidies: established businesses and those who lobby for them.

The competition created by free trade generally results in one of two responses from affected American businesses. The first response is to try to out-innovate and out-compete foreign competitors.

As a result, some businesses will not only survive but grow and prosper. Consumers benefit from better and cheaper products. Other businesses will, despite their best efforts, fail. This happens every single day. And sometimes the competition that drives an American company out of business comes mainly from other American companies.

Free trade isn’t without its downsides. But that’s not a reason to blind ourselves to protectionism’s many flaws.

The second response for businesses facing foreign competition is to request state assistance. This is usually made in the name of the national interest or American jobs. But it actually has more to do with (1) protecting what industries regard as “their” markets and (2) their inability to make the hard-decisions which are part-and-parcel of business.

An entire industry may even calculate that it’s more cost-effective for them to spend resources on lobbyists to secure some sort of government subsidy. That’s called crony capitalism, which, because of its corrupting effects, is even more reason for America to resist protectionism.

There is an exception: A unprofitable product or business might merit some type of protection because it’s genuinely vital to national security. America is more than just an economy. Protecting national security is a prime responsibility of government. In such cases, the question to ask is whether a tariff or subsidy is the least-costly way of realizing this goal.

Such exceptions, however, can’t be the rule. Certainly free trade isn’t without its downsides. But that’s not a reason to blind ourselves to protectionism’s many flaws. In the long-term, protectionism isn’t in America’s national interest. It won’t make America great. Let’s hope we don’t have to rediscover that truth the hard way.

 

Samuel Gregg is Research Director at the Acton Institute and author of For God and Profit: How Banking and Finance Can Serve the Common Good (2016).

Article source: https://stream.org/protectionism-wont-work-america/

Panhandling and the Pope: A Better Strategy to Help the Poor

Have you ever struggled with what to do when you encounter a person on the sidewalk of a major city or standing at a busy traffic intersection with a cup in hand? Have you given such individuals money or been deterred by the prospects of what your cash or coins might be used to purchase? Have you ever felt guilty if you did nothing to help?

In a recent interview in the Italian magazine Scarp de’ Tenis, Pope Francis argued that giving money to someone begging on the street is “always right.” What if the recipient of your gift decides to uses the money to buy a glass of wine instead of food? If “a glass of wine is the only happiness he has in life,” the pope replied, “that’s OK. Instead, ask yourself, what do you do on the sly? What ‘happiness’ do you seek in secret?”

The pope also urges us “to stop, look the person in the eyes, and touch his or her hands.” Doing this enables us to preserve the other person’s dignity and see him or her as “not as a pathology or a social condition, but as a human,” who has the same value we do.

Compassion is always the right response, but we can express it in better ways than simply giving money to strangers on the sidewalk who ask for handouts.

Responding to Pope Francis’ advice, the New York Times editorialized, “America is in the middle of a raging argument over poor outcasts,” which includes “building walls and repelling foreigners. That toxic mind-set can be … confronted on the sidewalk. You don’t know what that guy will do with your dollar. Maybe you’d disapprove of what he does. Maybe compassion is the right call.”

Compassion is Always the Right Response, But …

Compassion is always the right response, but we can express it in better ways than simply giving money to strangers on the sidewalk who ask for handouts. As my wife and I discuss in our book Suffer the Children: What We Can Do to Help the World’s Impoverished Children, some evidence indicates that the poor use monetary gifts they receive more effectively than many of us imagine. Most people who have received unconditional cash transfers as part of programs in Kenya, Vietnam, and Mexico have not squandered them on tobacco, booze, or brothels or used them to improve their creature comforts. Instead they have spent the cash to buy food and livestock, educate their children, or start businesses. Nevertheless, many aid organizations, like a local one with which we volunteered, only pay the bills of clients and never give them money, a policy many professionals, business people, and church leaders in our town supported.

We recognize that many, if not most, panhandlers have had extremely difficult lives. As we correctly fear, however, some are able-bodied and some will use the money to support their addiction to alcohol or drugs.

Therefore, if you want to help a person who is begging for money, why not instead carry nonperishable food in your car or gift cards for grocery stores or restaurants in case you encounter such a person? Or you could buy some food at a grocery store and bring it to her, or offer to take her to a restaurant to eat. If you do, you will know how your money was used and you can talk with the person and learn about his life story and particular problems.

Moreover, you can also become knowledgeable about nearby organizations, especially shelters and rescue missions, to refer or even take these people. Near me, for example, in Pittsburgh, you could direct a person asking for money to the Light of Life Rescue Mission, which since 1952 has been working to help the homeless and indigent by providing a variety of programs for men, women and children. Every city has similar organizations whose staff can establish relationships with these individuals, get to know them well, and furnish counseling, training, spiritual nurturing and aid to overcome addictions. You can also volunteer at one of these organizations to prepare and serve meals, talk with those who reside and/or eat there, and assist in outreach programs the mission operates in the community.

Finally, we can and should give more generously and wisely to organizations that are working to help the homeless and indigent. Various surveys indicate that only 3 to 8 percent of Americans donate 10 percent or more of their income to charitable causes of any kind. One survey found that 86 percent of Americans give less than 2 percent of their income to churches or charities.

Giving Money Away Intelligently

As Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn argue in their book A Path Appears, “people rarely give money away as intelligently as they make it” and, as a result, “much charitable giving isn’t very effective.” Rather than simply dispensing charity, we should enable the poor to help themselves. We should offer a hand up rather than a handout by supporting programs that equip people to be self-sustaining by providing them with education, vocational training, business loans, or jobs.

Scripture teaches that God has designed the world so that giving provides many blessings. Proverbs 11:24-25 declares, “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” The Psalms proclaim, “Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice” (112:5). Research indicates that those who practice generosity enjoy more happiness, better health, and a greater sense of satisfaction and purpose in life.

So, let’s heed Pope Francis’ counsel to help the homeless, destitute, and vulnerable, but let’s assist them in the ways that will benefit them the most.

 

Dr. Gary Scott Smith chairs the history department at Grove City College and is a fellow for faith and politics with The Center for Vision Values. He is the author of Suffer the Children (2017), Religion in the Oval Office (Oxford University Press, 2015), Faith and the Presidency From George Washington to George W. Bush (Oxford University Press, 2009), Religion in the Oval Office and Heaven in the American Imagination (Oxford University Press, 2011).

The article originally appeared on VisionandValues.org on March 9, 2017 and is reprinted with permission. 

Article source: https://stream.org/panhandling-pope-better-strategy-help-poor/

Judge Puts the Breaks on Dakota Pipeline Protesters’ Final Push



By

Published on March 7, 2017

A judge ruled against an American Indian tribe Tuesday that is trying to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline based on its belief the project would violate its religious heritage.

Judge James Boasberg of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia rejected the Cheyenne River Sioux’s request to scuttle the southern route of the oil pipeline under Lake Oahe in North Dakota. The project will shuttle 500,000 barrels of Bakken oil from the Dakotas to parts of Illinois.

Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), the company behind the project, has already “modified the pipeline workspace and route more than a hundred times in response to cultural surveys and Tribes’ concerns regarding historic and cultural resources,” Boasberg wrote in an opinion.

Boasberg was referring to the analysis that went into an environmental impact assessment the Army Corps of Engineers conducted prior to approving the so-called DAPL. He added that rerouting the project around the lake “would be more costly and complicated than it would have been months or years-ago.”

The judge’s decision places another seemingly insurmountable hurdle in front of anti-DAPL activists who argue the $3.8 billion project would trample on tribal grounds and potentially poison the Standing Rock Sioux’s primary water supply.

ETP expects to bring the nearly 1,200-mile-long pipeline online by March 13.

Opposition to the pipeline died down shortly after the Obama administration rejected the hotly contested pipeline route — but DAPL opponents were re-energized after President Donald Trump overturned his predecessor’s order.

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Article source: https://stream.org/judge-puts-breaks-dakota-pipeline-protesters-final-push/

School Teaches Zi & Zir Without Permission From Mom & Dad

Indiana parents are furious after eighth graders at Lincoln Junior High School were exposed to a classroom lesson on sexual orientation, gender expression and gender identity issues — without being notified in advance by the school district.

The 12-year-olds were required to watch a video titled, “LGBTQ: Understanding Sexual Orientation and Gender Identities.” They were also required to answer a questionnaire with all sorts of probing questions.

Among the questions:

  1. What is sexual orientation?
  2. What is gender?
  3. At what age do kids start being exposed to gender stereotypes?
  4. What is an LGBTQ ally?
  5. What is gender expression?
  6. What is “coming out”?
  7. Name at least three resources that you can use to support you if you come out?
  8. What does GSA stand for and what does it do?
  9. What are two things you can do to show support of the LGBTQ community

Plymouth Schools Superintendent Dan Tyree defended the one-day lesson — and said they haven’t received a single complaint. “Schools have been concerned about harassment and bullying over sexual orientation and gender identity since President Obama’s directive on Title IX last year,” Tyree told me via email.

He said the first-year teacher who conducted the class did not follow policy regarding how to address a controversial subject. “This was not part of the curriculum and it doesn’t directly address a state standard, but it is a national standard for grade 8,” he added.

So teaching 12-year-olds about gender expression is a national education standard? Really? If that is in fact true, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos needs to abolish that standard — immediately.

I learned about the lesson from Monica Boyer, the president of the Indiana Liberty Coalition. She told me several angry parents reached out to her with copies of the lesson and the video. “The video turned my stomach,” she told me. “It’s nothing less than indoctrination. This has nothing to do with health class. It’s purely political.”

To be clear, the video was not graphic. She was more disturbed by the tone and tenor of the content. “The message was basically that students are not cool unless they are pro-gay,” she said. “We want it completely removed from the classroom.”

The superintendent did not respond to questions regarding the Indiana Liberty Coalition’s demands — including a promise to inform parents in advance of controversial lessons.

“Parents need to know what’s happening in the classroom,” Boyer said. “It’s our objective to let parents know this is going on without their permission.”

I’m not surprised that Liberty Junior High School was caught indoctrinating children. Our public schools have been turned against us. Classrooms have been transformed into social engineering petri dishes. As I wrote in my new book, The Deplorables’ Guide to Making America Great Again, if we want to stop this radical, leftwing agenda, parents must engage themselves in the educational process.

Kudos to the Indiana Liberty Coalition for exposing this nefarious scheme.

via ToddStarnes.com

 

 

Todd Starnes is host of Fox News Commentary, heard on hundreds of radio stations. His latest book is The Deplorables’ Guide to Making America Great Again. Follow Todd on Twitter @ToddStarnes and find him on Facebook.

Originally published on ToddStarnes.com. Reprinted with permission.

Article source: https://stream.org/school-teaches-zi-zir-without-permission-from-mom-dad/

Godly Strategy in Response to Disney’s ‘Gay Moment’

Wow. Disney’s “gay moment” in the film Beauty and the Beast sure has stirred up feelings among Christians. Calls for boycotts. Closed doors. Angry urgings to quit being “nice.”

That last came from comments on my Stream article last week, The Beastly Beauty of Disney’s ‘Gay Moment’ — And How We Should Respond. Apparently some readers thought I was suggesting we back out of the conflict. I’m not. I’m talking about our strategy as followers of Christ.

Another comment on that article asked for more specific thoughts on what to do at a time like this. Jesus told His disciples to “be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Matt. 10:16) Our forays into pro-gay culture must likewise be marked with both strategic savvy and godly action.

So I’m going to make some observations here on what gay activists want, what God wants, and the strategic lay of the land. Based on that, I’m going to suggest several conclusions.

1. What Gay Activists Want

What do gay activists want from us? That’s easy. The  most useful thing we can do for them is play into their picture of hateful Christian conservatism. They’re painting us as intolerant haters, because that image helps them win. I can’t prove it, but I suspect it serves their purposes even more than if we were to lay down our arms and slink quietly away.

2. What God Wants

Not surprisingly, God wants exactly the opposite of what gay activists want. He wants us to:

Stand firm. He doesn’t want us to slink quietly away. Over and over again, Christians have changed history by standing for righteousness in culture.

Fight God’s way. The “weapons of our warfare are not worldly,” but have power over strongholds, arguments and every proud obstacle. (2 Cor. 10:3-5)

Be quick to speak, slow to anger. The anger of man does not accomplish the righteousness of God. (James 1:20)

Be human. Sean McDowell wisely urges us to avoid an us-versus-them mentality. We’re all created  in God’s image, so we dare not treat others inhumanely; we dare not dehumanize them.

Be persuasive. Christianity is a religion of persuasion through love, and through preaching, teaching and explanation. Some misguided believers have tried to advance the faith through power; they have gained only corrupted ground. True Christianity has covered the globe through persuasively speaking the truth in love. (Acts 17:1-3, Eph. 4:15)

Be relational. God is a God of relationship from even before creation: the three Persons of the Trinity have always related to in perfect love. He created us to love Him, our neighbor and even our enemies.

3. The Lay of the Land

To be wise in battle requires knowing the terrain. We have to recognize that the pro-gay forces control most of the persuasive power centers in our culture. They’ve got Disney Studios and so much more: education, music, the major news media … I could go on, but you already know it. They own the heavy artillery.

What do we have on our side? We have the Church and we have prayer.

From a strictly social/cultural perspective the Church is huge: it’s the ground organization to beat all ground organizations. Obviously it’s  hugely under-equipped and under-deployed, but more on that in a moment.

Meanwhile prayer is the spiritual analogue to “air power” in relation to the ground game we’re all engaged in. Prayer flies even higher than our opponents’ artillery.

How Not To Fight

So yes, we fight, but not by the world’s methods, and not without being wise to the strategic realities. Here’s what won’t work.

We’re not going to win this in the media. We don’t control enough of it. We can win some persuasive battles here and there; certainly enough to be worthwhile — let’s do all we can! — but realistically, not enough to turn the tide. (The more crucial role played by The Stream and similar media is to equip and encourage our own.)

The same goes in spades for “not being nice.” Even if being not-nice were a godly idea — which it isn’t — we’re outgunned anyway. The other side is (thank God!) way better at it than we are. For us it’s a failed, hopeless and wrong tactic.

Persuasion, Action, Deeds and Prayer

Instead we must stand for truth by persuasive speech, righteous action, loving deeds and prayer.

Persuasion means knowing the reasons for our position. Do you know where to find the five key Bible passages on homosexuality? Can you state several reasons man-woman marriage is healthier for society than gay marriage? Have you listened to opponents’ objections thoughtfully, and are you prepared with answers?

I almost hate to introduce this word into polite conversation, but getting ready for this battle means doing some homework.

Righteous action could certainly include boycotting a film like Beauty and the Beast. It also includes speaking up. It also includes loving our enemies.

Loving deeds are the real challenge, because it’s impossible to love from arm’s length. Gays and gay-affirming people can continue to believe Christians are haters only as long as we let them. We can’t argue them out of it; the way to stop them thinking it is by loving them. We certainly don’t need to agree with their views, but if they’ll let us, we can be friends anyway. Not all of them will welcome our friendship, but many are actually hoping for it.

This is the ground game we are uniquely positioned to engage in; for which our huge, under-deployed ground organization, the Church, must become equipped, and in which each believer must become active.

Finally, Prayer. We have the privilege and the obligation to pray for ourselves. We must pray fervently for the Church. We must pray for Disney and all others who may be arrayed against God’s truth.

The battle is the Lord’s. He isn’t on our side (don’t ever be mistaken about that!) but we can be on His, if we fight for His goals in His way.

Article source: https://stream.org/godly-strategy-response-disneys-gay-moment/

White House Demands Congress Investigate Whether Obama Abused Executive Power in 2016 Election

The White House Sunday morning demanded that Congress investigate whether the Obama administration abused its executive powers in connection with the 2016 election. A spokesman for Obama denied the former President “ordered” any electronic surveillance on the Republican nominee.

Today’s statement calls on Congress to look into Obama’s activities in connection with its investigation into alleged Russian activity to influence the election.

Reports concerning potentially politically motivated investigations immediately ahead of the 2016 election are very troubling.

President Donald J. Trump is requesting that as part of their investigation into Russian activity, the congressional intelligence committees use their oversight authority to determine whether executive branch investigative powers were abused in 2016.

Neither the White House nor the President will comment further until such oversight is conducted.”

On Saturday, President Trump had sent a shock wave across the Nation’s Capital in a series of tweets accusing Obama of wire-tapping Trump Tower in the days before the election, comparing Obama to “Nixon/Watergate” and McCarthyism.

The “reports” mentioned in the statement refer in major part to an article published Friday by Breitbart that details and expands on conservative radio host and lawyer Mark Levin’s call for Congress to investigate Obama’s alleged “silent coup” against Trump. Among the items cited are two requests from the Obama Justice Department to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court or FISA:

June 2016: FISA request. The Obama administration files a request with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) to monitor communications involving Donald Trump and several advisers. The request, uncharacteristically, is denied.

October 2016: FISA request. The Obama administration submits a new, narrow request to the FISA court, now focused on a computer server in Trump Tower suspected of links to Russian banks. No evidence is found — but the wiretaps continue, ostensibly for national security reasons, Andrew McCarthy at National Review later notes.

Today’s request from the Trump administration does not single out Obama, referring instead to the “executive branch.” The Obama denial on Saturday specifically covered only the former President and White House officials, insisting they steered clear of “interference” in the “independent investigations” of the Department of Justice.

Former CIA Boss James Clapper Denies

Former CIA Director James Clapper told NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday morning, “There was no such wiretap activity mounted against the president-elect at the time, as a candidate, or against his campaign.” When pressed if he could confirm or deny any such FISA court order targeting Trump existed, Clapper said, “I can deny it.” Wiggle room is provided by the phrase “mounted against.” Any activity, they can later argue, was “mounted against” the Russians they believe were doing business with Trump and his campaign. After all it is the Foreign Intelligence Service Court.

When asked by host Chuck Todd whether there was an FISA order to monitor Trump Tower, Clapper said, “Not to my knowledge.”

Incidentally, “Not to my knowledge” was also Clapper’s answer when asked whether there was any evidence that the Trump campaign was colluding with the Kremlin while Russia was allegedly working to influence the election.

It is also worth remembering that James Clapper is the same individual who lied under oath to Congress about the extent of NSA surveillance activity.

“Stinks to High Heaven”

Last month, General Michael Flynn was forced to resign as National Security Advisor after he misled Vice President Mike Pence about contacts he had had with Russian officials during the campaign. The existence of those contacts were made public by the illegal leaking of intelligence gathered during surveillance directed at those Russian officials. Intelligence gathered by and disseminated throughout the Obama administration, then leaked to the media. It is fair to ask, “Who, truly, was the target of the intelligence effort? And was the motive political?”

As reported by The Stream, Saturday’s denial by Obama’s spokesman indicated the White House as a “cardinal rule” did not interfere with “independent investigations” of the Department of Justice. Even taking them at their word, even taking the position that the official target of the surveillance wasn’t Trump, the Obama administration still faces an ethical dilemma in regards to this blossoming scandal and the 2016 election.

The head of that investigation looking into the Trump-Russian connection would be former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, an Obama appointee and longtime Clinton associate. In the midst of the investigation and in the middle of the 2016 campaign Loretta Lynch secretly met with Bill Clinton, the husband of Trump’s opponent. Did she discuss the investigation of Trump? Did she recuse herself from that investigation once her secret meeting became public?

And what of Obama? Mere days before leaving office, he ordered the NSA to begin disseminating its gathered data to the 16 other intelligence agencies across the government. Both Clapper and Lynch signed off on the move. As Jay Sekulow noted in February, “What that does is almost creates a shadow government. You have all these people who are not agreeing with President Trump’s position, so it just festers more leaks.” 

Meanwhile, Obama guru Valerie Jarrett has moved into the Obama’s new Washington, D.C. home. According to the Daily Mail, the residence, just two miles from the White House, will serve as the “nerve center” for the growing “insurgency” to topple the President. Former Attorney General Eric Holder said last week, Obama is “ready to roll.”

As Newt Gingrich told Fox News this morning, “All this stuff smells to high heaven despite the best efforts of the elite media to cover it up.” 

Article source: https://stream.org/white-house-demands-congress-investigate-whether-obama-abused-executive-power-2016-election/

Experts Find Mass Grave at Former Catholic Orphanage in Ireland

DUBLIN (AP) — A mass grave containing the remains of babies and young children has been discovered at a former Catholic orphanage in Ireland, government-appointed investigators announced Friday in a finding that offered the first conclusive proof following a historian’s efforts to trace the fates of nearly 800 children who perished there.

The judge-led Mother and Baby Homes Commission said excavations since November at the site of the former Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, County Galway, had found an underground structure divided into 20 chambers containing “significant quantities of human remains.”

The commission said DNA analysis of selected remains confirmed the ages of the dead ranged from 35 fetal weeks to 3 years old and were buried chiefly in the 1950s, when the overcrowded facility was one of more than a dozen in Ireland offering shelter to orphans, unwed mothers and their children. The Tuam home closed in 1961.

Friday’s findings provided the first proof after decades of suspicions that the vast majority of children who died at the home had been interred on the site in unmarked graves. That was a common, but ill-documented practice at such Catholic-run facilities amid high child mortality rates in early 20th century Ireland.

The government in 2014 formed the investigation after a local Tuam historian, Catherine Corless, tracked down death certificates for nearly 800 children who had died as residents of the facility — but could find a burial record for only one child.

“Everything pointed to this area being a mass grave,” said Corless, who recalled how local boys playing in the field had reported seeing a pile of bones in a hidden underground chamber there in the mid-1970s.

The government’s commissioner for children, Katherine Zappone, said Friday’s findings were “sad and disturbing.” She pledged that the children’s descendants would be consulted on providing proper burials and other memorials.

“We will honor their memory and make sure that we take the right actions now to treat their remains appropriately,” Zappone said.

The report found that the dead children may have been placed in underground chambers originally used to hold sewage. Corless said she found records stating that the sewage systems were used until 1937, when the home was connected to a modern water supply.

A decommissioned septic tank had been “filled with rubble and debris and then covered with top soil” and did not appear to contain remains, the report said. But excavators found children’s remains inside a neighboring connected structure that may have been used to contain sewage or waste water.

The commission’s finding that most of the remains date to the 1950s corroborates Corless’ collection of death certificates. It also dispels a popular argument that bones seen at the site might predate the orphanage’s opening, when the building was a workhouse for the adult poor, or even be from people who died in the mid-19th century Great Famine.

Labour Party lawmaker Joan Burton said the Tuam orphanage’s dead may have been interred “without normal funeral rights, and maybe even without their wider families having been made aware.” She called on the Catholic Church to provide more assistance to investigators.

The investigators, who are examining the treatment of children at a long-closed network of 14 Mother and Baby Homes, said they still were trying to identify “who was responsible for the disposal of human remains in this way.”

The Bon Secours Sisters order of nuns, which ran the home until its closure, said in a statement that all its records, including of potential burials, had been handed to state authorities in 1961. It pledged to cooperate with the continuing investigation.

Corless criticized the Bon Secours response as “the usual maddening nonsense. They must apologize and take responsibility for what happened there.”

She called on the nuns to promise explicitly to help the state organize proper marked burial places for every dead child once each set of remains could be identified.

“That’s the least that can be done for them at this late stage,” she said.

 

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Article source: https://stream.org/experts-find-mass-grave-ex-catholic-orphanage-ireland/

Texas State Legislators Will Introduce Privacy Protection Bill Next Week

A proposed Texas state bill outlining guidance regarding “intimate facility” use for government buildings and private businesses will go before the State Affairs Committee of the Texas Senate next Tuesday.

Senate Bill 6, or the Texas Privacy Act, will be the first privacy protection legislation heard since the Trump administration rescinded an Obama-era policy regarding transgender use of school restrooms. 

What’s In the Bill? 

“This is about women’s privacy, women’s comfort, and public safety,” Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick said in a phone briefing Friday morning. He noted that its purpose was not to discriminate against persons identifying as transgender, but to prevent sexual predators posing as transgender from entering women’s restrooms. “There’s no discrimination. There’s just protection,” he said. 

The bill’s author, State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), gave an overview of its contents during the briefing. The bill addresses the use of “intimate facilities” for businesses, government buildings and private entities leasing public facilities.

Businesses

According to the Texas Privacy Act, private businesses will govern the use of their own restrooms, showers, locker rooms and dressing rooms, and no local ordinance will prevent them from making their own policy. “We respect free enterprise,” Kolkhorst said.

Government Buildings

Government buildings, including public schools and universities, will designate use of intimate facilities based on biological sex according to one’s current birth certificate. According to Texas law, one can update their birth certificate after undergoing a medical sex change, Kolkhorst said. 

Exceptions in government facilities are permitted for emergencies, custodians, parents of young children, and the disabled.

Private Entities Leasing Public Facilities

If a private entity leases a public facility, that entity can set its own policies regarding intimate facilities, Kolkhorst said. 

School Accommodations 

The bill also allows for school districts to make accommodations upon request. Accommodations can include the use of a “single-occupancy bathroom or changing facility or the controlled use of a faculty bathroom or changing facility,” the bill states. The bill does not permit the open use of the opposite gender’s multi-stall and group facilities. 

Is This Bill Needed?

The Obama administration asserted in May of 2016 that denying transgender students the use of restrooms opposite their biological sex in public schools would be discriminatory and could warrant the loss of federal funding. The Trump administration policy reversal claimed that “there must be due regard for the primary role of the States and local school districts in establishing educational policy.”

In light of the new policy giving states and local governments the final say, “I think that it becomes even more important that we give guidance to our school districts,” Kolkhorst said.

Texas was one of 13 states to sue the federal government over the Obama administration action. Even though the policy was blocked and subsequently rescinded, Patrick said it became clear that activists on the “extreme Left” would continue to advocate policies contrary to Texas public opinion. Patrick said “overwhelming polling” shows that 65-80 percent of white, African-American and Hispanic Texas parents don’t want their students using intimate facilities with the opposite sex. 

What to Expect Next Week

“We’re going to go into a hearing that I think is going to garner a lot of attention both for and against” the bill, Kolkhorst said. “We are expecting large crowds. What I would like to see is a very good discussion.”

Kolkhorst said that supporters and opponents of the Texas Privacy Act will testify at next Tuesday’s hearing, and that “we will be respectful and hear everyone who wants to testify.”

Kolkhorst said she has spoken with a wide range of people regarding the bill, including transgender parents, members of the LGBT community and women rape victims. “We’re prepared for a vigorous and rigorous debate next week, and I’m really looking forward to it,” she said. 

 

Article source: https://stream.org/texas-state-legislators-will-introduce-privacy-protection-bill-next-week/

Mattis Influence Shows as Trump Travel Ban May Drop a Country


President Donald Trump and Defense Secretary James Mattis walk into the Pentagon, Friday, Jan. 27, 2017.


By

Published on March 1, 2017

President Donald Trump’s new order suspending travel from terror-rife countries will reportedly not include Iraq, in a nod to Secretary of Defense James Mattis’s past requests.

Trump’s original Jan. 27 ban included Iraq and six other countries that were temporarily prohibited from entering the U.S. Mattis reportedly implored Trump to at least grant exceptions to Iraqis fighting with the U.S. against the Islamic State, even before the ban was struck down by a federal court.

Mattis previewed the likely change to the executive order in a Feb. 20 visit to Baghdad, telling reporters, “I am assured that we will take steps to allow those who have fought alongside us, for example, to be allowed in to the United States.”

The Jan. 27 ban deeply offended many members of the Iraqi government, who consider themselves steadfast allies of the U.S. in the fight against radical Islam. The Iraqi parliament even considered banning U.S. citizens to Iraq in response, potentially endangering the counter-ISIS effort.

The ban also engendered criticism from U.S. service members who saw many former Iraqi translator’s visas canceled to the U.S., an act they saw as betrayal by the government.

The U.S. has been training, advising, and assisting the Iraqi Security Forces in the fight against ISIS since 2014. Trump even loosened U.S. rules of engagement in the ongoing fight against in Mosul, to allow U.S. special operators to accompany Iraqi forces inside the city.

Trump’s executive order will still include Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen along with a 120 day suspension of admittance of refugees from any country. Trump’s previous order included the refugee suspension, but also indefinitely suspended the Syrian refugee program. The order will also no longer prioritize the admittance of refugees by religious group.

 

Follow Saagar Enjeti on TwitterSend tips to saagar@dailycallernewsfoundation.org

Copyright 2017 Daily Caller News Foundation






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Article source: https://stream.org/mattis-influence-shows-trump-travel-ban-may-drop-country/

GOP Lawmakers Praise Trump’s Speech, Say They Are Ready to Get to Work

President Donald Trump’s first joint address to Congress was well received by GOP lawmakers, who said they are ready to get to work on his ambitious agenda.

House Committee on the Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia said he was impressed with Trump’s presidential tone, adding he’s confident the president will be able to work with the legislative branch in key areas, including tax reform, health care reform and immigration reform, all of which he heavily emphasized in his speech.

“The best part for me was the overall presentation — he laid out the challenges facing our country and I think he showed the leadership that’s necessary to line up and address each one of those problems in a way I think that if the Congress can come together and work with him,” he told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Freshman Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska, a retired Air Force general, said thought it was strong, “if not his best” speech yet. 

“The most important thing to me is national security, and our military’s been hurt so bad this last decade — our readiness levels are in shambles, our modernization has fallen behind and our personnel has suffered — so I thought his emphasis on rebuilding the military was important,” he told The DCNF.

Bacon said he also thinks the president spoke well on assuring Americans he’s working to instill policies that will level the playing field and bring jobs back the U.S.

Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia said Trump did a great job of articulating his vision, adding he thought it embodied a sense of unity.

“There were multiple highlights for me, I guess if I could wrap it up, I would say his comments on keeping America safe both through the military all the way down to supporting our law enforcement,” he said. “People want to know that they’re secure and the government’s keeping them secure and that the possibility for job creation and growth was there.”

Goodlatte said Trump’s speech offered a sharp contrast to what they heard from President Barack Obama during his time in office.

“He also showed great determination to stand up for America the world and I don’t think we have seen that in a president in a long time,” he said.

Georgia Rep. Barry Loudermilk echoed Goodlatte’s sentiments, saying it was refreshing to hear a president that recognizes the greatness of the country.

“It’s about time we had a speech that looks over the horizon and talks about American exceptionalism, that our best days are ahead of us, and we are exceptional,” he told The DCNF. “There’s only one flag on the moon, and it’s ours, and that’s a testament to what we can do when we come together — and not looking at the past, understanding the mistakes of the past eight years and what we have to do to overcome them. ”

 

Follow Juliegrace Brufke on Twitter

Copyright 2017 Daily Caller News Foundation

Article source: https://stream.org/gop-lawmakers-praise-trumps-speech-say-theyre-ready-get-work/

Population Control Ideologue Paul Ehrlich Speaks at the Vatican

Paul Ehrlich is speaking at a Vatican conference on biological extinction this week, titled “How to Save the Natural World on Which We Depend.” Many in the pro-life movement are stumped. Ehrlich isn’t just any population control fan. He is a high priest of the culture of death.

Ehrlich: Bad Science and Reprehensible Views

Thanks to Ehrlich’s infamous 1969 book The Population Bomb, irrational fears that overpopulation would lead to imminent wars, famines, and plagues spread like wildfire around the globe. “The battle to feed all of humanity is over,” the book famously began.

Ehrlich’s disproved screed triggered population policies around the globe, like forced abortion, prenatal sex selection, female infanticide, and forced sterilization.

His repeatedly debunked screed  triggered deadly population policies around the globe, legitimizing forced abortion, prenatal sex selection, female infanticide, and forced sterilization, among other heinous population control tactics.

In light of this, some might say, the only way Ehrlich should be let into the Vatican is on his knees. Instead, his life’s work is receiving a moral imprimatur of sorts from the pontifical academies for the sciences, which are hosting the event without as much as an apology from Ehrlich, let alone a retraction. Quite the opposite.

In a recent New York Times report Ehrlich admits he feigned certainty beyond what the science could show throughout his career in order to scare people into embracing population control.

“If you ask me the question are there things that I have written in the past that I wouldn’t write today, the answer is certainly yes. I expressed more certainty because I was trying to bring people to get something done.”

But he also told The New York Times that he would do it again.

“I do not think my language was too apocalyptic in The Population Bomb, my language would be even more apocalyptic today,” he added without repentance.

And, he unflinchingly confessed a despicable utilitarian logic as his inspiration.

“The idea that every woman should have as many babies as she wants is to me exactly the same kind of idea as everybody ought to be permitted to throw as much of their garbage into their neighbor’s backyard as they want.”

Vatican Leadership: Where is the Line?

Archbishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, longtime chancellor and spokesperson of the pontifical academies, reportedly told Catholic News Service that Ehrlich would help “find the truth.” It is hard to see how Ehrlich has ever been interested in or able to find the truth, let alone how he might help others find it.

Ehrlich’s fear mongering about the Earth’s limited resources has repeatedly proven to be nothing more than wild speculation and shoddy science.

Even if Ehrlich’s views weren’t so reprehensible, his scientific views are flimsy. His fear mongering about the Earth’s limited resources has repeatedly proven to be nothing more than wild speculation and shoddy science. Of late, Ehrlich shrieks that population control is necessary to stop global warming even though UN data shows otherwise.

Ehrlich just keeps getting it wrong, again and again and again. That never mattered to the scientific establishment that has propped him up for 40 years, and it does not seem to matter to the leadership of the Vatican academies.

This is not to say Vatican entities should not dialogue with atheist scientists, or with people of different beliefs and views, invite them to conferences, and even co-sponsor conferences with them. But the line needs to be drawn somewhere. And a lifetime of fake science to promote abortion and population control seem a fairly obvious place to start.

The current leadership of the pontifical academies does not seem willing to draw that line.

Boongarts, Sorondo and the Dark Origins of the Population Council

In fact, Ehrlich won’t be the only population control celebrity to be revered at the conference. The pontifical academies will also honor demographer John Boongarts, the head of the Population Council. Unlike Ehrlich, Boongarts is not just a popular quack scientist.

The Population Council is the world’s foremost population control think tank, founded in the 1950s by the Rockefellers for the sole purpose of convincing poor countries to sterilize, abort, and contracept their poor populations out of existence. To this day, it is the chief source of the deceptive pseudo-science and jargon that makes the culture of death respectable among policy and media elites. (My colleague Rebecca Oas has extensively researched the sophisticated trickery of Boongarts and his establishment.)

The Population Council was founded in the 1950s for the sole purpose of convincing poor countries to sterilize, abort, and contracept their populations out of existence.

The leadership of the pontifical academies is impervious to criticism about conferring Vatican honors on groups and individuals that promote radical anti-human ideologies.

Just recently, Ehrlich described Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment as “nonsense” because it failed to endorse population control, and he is on the record criticizing religions that do not condone contraception and abortion as “evil forces.”

But apparently none of this is a problem to Archbishop Sorondo, whose judgment has already been called into question by myself and others with pro-life concerns.

Instead of engaging critics, Sorondo denigrates them as “always the same people,” saying their views are”not logical” and just plain “crazy.”

“Truly, I just don’t understand them. Through dialogue we are able to obtain much more than they are with their policy of always criticizing others,” he boasted to Catholic News Service.

True as that might be, to pretend that Ehrlich and Bongaarts, of all people, do not espouse anti-human ideologies, or that they might be capable of objectivity and sound moral judgment is foolhardy, if not simply foolish.

Sacrificing Morality for “Synergy” and “Magic”

What is most perplexing though, is that the pontifical academies will not even distance themselves from the ideologies these speakers embrace. The Vatican might have invited Ehrlich for, say, a debate or dialogue, if it were made clear that that it did not share his views.

A clear disclaimer that the “pontifical academies do not endorse the views of Ehrlich and Bongaarts on population control and abortion” would go a long way to eliminate the moral confusion created by the conference roster. After all, this is a pontifical event of sorts and not just an event held on Vatican premises by outside organizations. But no such disclaimer will be forthcoming.

The explanation may lie in in the words of Archbishop Sorondo during a conference at the University of Notre Dame last year.

“For the first time and perhaps the last time, the speech of the Church and the speech of the world as represented by the United Nations have some synergy, and for people who believe, for people like me, this comes from the Holy Spirit,” he reportedly said, describing current relations between Church and world as a “magic moment.”

A disclaimer that casts Ehrlich and Boongarts in a bad light would spoil the magic and synergy. So, the pontifical academies will instead cast these mens’ work in the best possible light.

Too bad about the 50 million children each year who never see the light thanks to their theories. Unlike the Archbishop, they will never experience the magic of being honored by New York City high society in fancy galas presided by UN dignitaries and billionaires.

Never mind the Spirit “convincing the world of sin” (John 16:8). Sin is out. Synergy is in.

Article source: https://stream.org/paul-ehrlich-vatican/

Law Professors Want Kellyanne Conway Disciplined for ‘Dishonesty’


Even though she doesn’t practice law


By The Stream

Published on February 27, 2017

“We do not file this complaint likely,” claim 15 lawyers demanding that Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway be formally disciplined for “conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.” Conway “is currently acting in a way that brings shame upon the legal profession,” they declare — even though she does not practice law and long ago stopped paying her dues to the D.C. bar.

The lawyers represent a mixture of top tier and less known law schools, including Yale, Georgetown and Duke. The complaint, addressed to the D.C. Court of Appeals’ Office of Disciplinary Council, is written on the letterhead of Georgetown law professor Abbe Smith.

Smith told The Washington Post that she’d never filed such a complaint before, but “Ms. Conway’s conduct was so outside the norm for a member of the legal profession. What prompted our complaint was a combination of the specific conduct that Ms. Conway engaged in plus the fact that she holds such a high public office.”

Four Reasons

The lawyers’ offered four reasons Conway should be disciplined: her reference to a non-existent “Bowling Green massacre”; her claiming that President Obama “banned” Iraqi refugees when he only ordered enhanced screening; her saying that the White House had “alternative facts” about the size of the inauguration crowd; and her endorsement of Ivanka Trump’s product line.

The last charge, they admit, does not fall under the D.C. rule they invoke, but as a lawyer she should have known it was unethical by the standards of federal law. Because Conway’s a lawyer serving in “public office,” they argue that the law itself holds her to higher standards than other lawyers.

The 15 lawyers act for political, not legal, reasons, suggests Paul Mirrengoff of Powerline. He points out that they did not suggest similar discipline for Democratic lawyers in the previous administration. For example:

If Conway’s misstatement of facts about Obama’s Iraqi refugee policy is grounds for bar discipline, then I want to know whether the statute of limitations is up for such Obama statements as “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.”

If Conway’s promotion of Ivanka Trump’s product lines is grounds for discipline, Mirrengoff writes,

I want to know whether the statute of limitations is up for Hillary Clinton’s violation of government rules on the handling of documents — and also for the many misstatements Hillary made about her server as she tried to dissemble her way out of political difficulty.






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Article source: https://stream.org/law-professors-want-kellyanne-conway-disciplined-for-dishonest/

Witches Seek Curse On President Trump; Christians Respond With Spiritual Warfare Prayer

Christians have traditionally followed the command that the Apostle Paul gave to Timothy:

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people — for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

If the early Christians could pray even for Roman rulers who persecuted them, how much more should we pray for political leaders whom we have a hand in choosing. But the call to prayer is even more urgent now, when some occultists who oppose President Trump have started to gather to do him harm — calling for people to perform a ritual to curse President Trump, “bind” him and eventually remove him from office.

By the light of the waning crescent moon last night, self-described witches united to cast a spell on President Trump and his supporters with a ritualistic ceremony. It’s a ritual they plan to repeat every month, and they’ve encouraged others to join them. A Facebook event page, posted by a group that prefers to “remain anonymous,” states, “A Spell to Bind Donald Trump and All Those Who Abet Him: Every Waning Crescent Moon at Midnight Beginning February 24, 2017, Ending when he is driven from office.”

Currently, nearly 9,000 people are following the page. And the #bindtrump effort has clearly reached into the entertainment industry. Pop singer Lana Del Rey will said she would join the event as well, posting dates and times of the rituals on Twitter. The liberal music magazine Rolling Stone, tongue only part-way in its cheek, was also on board, saying so far nothing else has worked to stop Trump, “so maybe a little witchcraft isn’t such a bad idea, after all?”

While some may claim that magic — or at least tonight’s effort — is nonsense and powerless, the Bible is full of scriptures condemning the practice nonetheless. Galatians 5:19-21 is one example:

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God (My emphasis).

Deutoronomy 18:10-12 puts it plainly:

And do not let your people practice fortune-telling, or use sorcery, or interpret omens, or engage in witchcraft, or cast spells, or function as mediums or psychics, or call forth the spirits of the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord.

For those who practice the occult, Revelation promises that “their place will be in the lake the burns with fire and sulfur.”

Christians Fighting Back in the Spirit

As Rolling Stone reports, one group of Christians is performing spiritual warfare of its own to combat the spells — and calling all Christians to do the same. The Christian Nationalist Alliance, on their website, has declared a Day of Prayer for each of the spell-casting days.

This is a declaration of spiritual war and it requires a response. … We beseech all Christian soldiers to answer this call to action by reading from Psalm 23. We ask you to join us in praying for the strength of our nation, our elected representatives and for the souls of the lost who would take up Satanic arms against us.

Psalm 23 (RSV) says:

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want;
  he makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul.

He leads me in paths of righteousness
  for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
  I fear no evil;
for thou art with me;
  thy rod and thy staff,
  they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me
  in the presence of my enemies;
thou anointest my head with oil,
  my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
  all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
  for ever.

Dave Kubal, President of Intercessors for America (IFA), told Charisma News, “Whether or not this call for spells pans out and people act on it, we feel compelled, as the Body of Christ and intercessors, to come against this evil with immediate and powerful prayer.”

Article source: https://stream.org/witches-seek-to-curse-president-trump-christians-plan-spiritual-warfare-prayer-against-it/

Christian Subculture Is Dying. I Know Why. I Grew Up There.

The largest Christian bookstore chain in the nation announced Thursday that it will close its doors for good. The closing of the Family Christian Store’s 240 locations comes two years after the franchise declared bankruptcy.

Many factors have undoubtedly led to the chain’s demise — including the growing number of people buying books and music online, which is affecting bookstores everywhere. But I’m a Millennial, and I submit that at least part of the explanation for the shrinking number of Christian bookstores has to do with the fact that my generation is rejecting Christian subculture.

Straight Outta the Bubble

I was homeschooled, attended a non-denominational Evangelical church, and graduated from a private Christian college. So I have some street cred when it comes to talking about Christian subculture.

In fact, I was your poster girl. I listened to ZOEGirl and TobyMac (Pillar or Skillet when I was feeling crazy). I attended the Secret Keeper Girl conferences and rocked the “modest is hottest” t-shirt. I rarely missed a youth group meeting and went on short-term missions trips in high school. When I started applying to colleges, non-Christian universities weren’t even an option.

Thankfully, my parents also emphasized that God’s Word alone was the ultimate standard by which to judge everything else — even my favorite Chris Tomlin worship songs and cross-bedecked accessories.

But many of my friends were not that fortunate.

Churched-Raised Millennials

For too many church-raised Millennials, Christianity became, implicitly or even explicitly, synonymous with Christian subculture.

Songs that didn’t include overt and positive references to God were heard skeptically by parents, if not forbidden outright. Movies and books with a bit of language warranted warnings and disappointed criticisms (or cinematically embarrassing “Christian” movie-making endeavors). Churchgoers who didn’t abide by such subculture tenets were viewed with suspicion and probably judged harshly from the privacy of a minivan.

If Christian subculture is one’s understanding of the Christian lifestyle, it’s no wonder they begin to question and reject it as they enter the real world.

No wonder some people have questioned Christianity and rejected it when they got older and entered the real world. That’s exactly what I’ve seen among many of my friends.

Some embarked on wild rebellions. Some switched denominations. Some jumped political parties. Others abandoned Christianity altogether. Many, like me, spent a long time wrestling over what was actually true.

Crushing the Cookie Cutter

Surprisingly, it was at my ultra-Christian college that my sub-culture bubble came into question for me. I noticed that students who seemed to have it together were often plagued by hidden demons, while the students discarded as slackers or rebels displayed the most genuine examples of Christ-like friendship. Suffice it to say, people didn’t fit the Christian mold I’d formed in my mind.  

Before long, it dawned on me that I didn’t fit that mold either. The realization wasn’t easy. I was tormented guilt feelings for not being the perfect Christian girl I used to consider myself — the girl I thought I was supposed to be.

I got angry with the Church, people who exemplified the perfect Christian vibe I used to emulate and the Christian subculture in which I was raised.

I wasn’t that girl. I couldn’t be that girl. The result was, I got angry with the Church, people who emitted that “God’s princess” vibe I used to emulate and the Christian subculture in which I was raised.

I stopped listening to my contemporary Christian music playlists, and explored the world of pop culture I’d always sneered at. I threw decorum to the wind. I swore like a sailor when I was angry, just like I’d always wanted to do deep down. I went to church occasionally, reaching half-heartedly for the closeness with God that I used to feel but could no longer count on. Feeling stripped of the identity I’d built for myself, I questioned the truth of what I believed.

Thankfully, my close friends stuck by me — and introduced me to awesome music, by the way. My boyfriend (who became my husband) encouraged me, and the same parents who taught me to measure everything by God’s Word listened to my doubts and struggles without criticism.

The Tatted Pastor and Tough Questions

It was near the end of my college career  when I came to the conclusion that if I was going to continue being a Christian, I needed to discover for myself what the Bible really said — without the trendy trappings of Christian subculture. My faith was weak, but it was still there, and I set out to make it stronger by asking as many critical questions as possible.

He was relevant because he was unafraid of befriending sinners and sharing the gospel with them.

This process kicked off in an apologetics class I took during my senior year. Our teacher was a pastor covered in tattoos who recommended getting a beer with nonbelievers to talk about Jesus. He often spoke of a gay couple with which he was good friends. And he didn’t compromise one bit on biblical truth or what it meant to follow Jesus.

I loved that class — yes, partly because he defied all norms of the subculture I’d grown up in; but mostly because he knew how to handle the hard questions about right and wrong that I’d previously taken “by faith” (read: unquestioningly and for granted). In fact, he encouraged us to ask them.

That class motivated me to dig into God’s Word more than I had at any summer camp, youth conference or missions trip. To use a popular subculture term, the class was relevant. Relevant because we were taught not to fear the hard questions and uncomfortable issues. Relevant because the teacher acted like a normal person (one who happened to like tattoos and beer) whose relationship with God led him to an uncompromising dedication to truth. Relevant because he was unafraid of befriending sinners and sharing the gospel with them.

Christianity Isn’t a Cool Club

When I was in high school, the apparel brand “Not of This World” rose to popularity. Looking back, I think the hoodies and bumper stickers proudly touting “NOTW” represented a tendency to become defensive against secular culture, rather than learning to effectively engage it, like that teacher did.

It made Christianity itself a sort of cool club where youth could be “shielded” from the evils of the world, and protected from embarrassment about their beliefs.

It’s an attractive approach but it doesn’t produce young adults with faith that can weather the outside world. It does produce young adults discouraged by failed attempts to hide their own sin with layers of Jesus-wear.

What Millennials (Humans) Want

Millennials are rejecting Christian subculture because they don’t want censored reality and exclusively happy endings. They don’t want a club where being a Christian is “cool.” They don’t even want an immediately easy, trite answer to every hard question.

Millennials want the same thing humanity has always wanted — truth and closeness with God.

Since the Bible is the story of our sin and reconciliation to God through Jesus, and since humanity is sinful and will always be in need of that reconciliation, Christianity will always be relevant.

But if we as the Church put all our efforts into building our own subculture where our lifestyle is popular and it’s “safe” to reside, we’ll end up letting that subculture define Christianity, and people will only turn away.

Article source: https://stream.org/christian-subculture-dying-grew-know-why/

Fox News Commentator Alan Colmes Dies At Age 66


Alan Colmes in 2014


By

Published on February 23, 2017

Alan Colmes died Thursday morning at the age of 66, according to Fox News.

Colmes died after battling a brief illness, according to his wife who issued a brief statement to Fox News:

Alan Colmes passed away this morning after a brief illness. He was 66-years-old. He leaves his adoring and devoted wife, Jocelyn Elise Crowley. He was a great guy, brilliant, hysterical, and moral. He was fiercely loyal, and the only thing he loved more than his work was his life with Jocelyn. He will be missed. The family has asked for privacy during this very difficult time.

More to come…

 

Follow Robert on TwitterSend tips to robert@dailycallernewsfoundation.org

Copyright 2017 Daily Caller News Foundation






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Article source: https://stream.org/alan-colmes-dies-age-66/

US Marines Raised the Flag on Iwo Jima 72 Years Ago



By

Published on February 23, 2017

Six U.S. service members raised the U.S. flag on Mt. Suribachi during the Battle for Iwo Jima 72 years ago, a monumental moment captured in the iconic Pulitzer Prize-winning photo by Joe Rosenthal.

Three of the Marines photographed were killed in the following days of the battle. The photo was widely hailed in the U.S. and has become a symbol of the U.S. effort in World War II and the U.S Marine Corps. The photo was later memorialized in 1954 at the U.S. Marine Corps Memorial in Arlington, Va.

The photo engendered some controversy in the summer of 2016 after the U.S. Marine Corps admitted it had misidentified one of the men in the photo. The misidentified man, Navy corpsman John Bradley, rose again to international fame after his son wrote a best-selling 2000 book detailing his father’s role in the battle.

The man actually pictured in the photograph, Corporal Harold Schulz, died in 1995 and never publicly disputed the originally identified service-members in the photograph. Schulz’s family told The New York Times, he only mentioned his role a few years before he died. When his step-daughter heard the news she reportedly told him, “My gosh, Harold, you’re a hero,” to which replied “No, I was a Marine.”

 

Follow Saagar Enjeti on TwitterSend tips to saagar@dailycallernewsfoundation.org

 

Copyright 2017 The Daily Caller News Foundation






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Article source: https://stream.org/us-marines-raised-flag-iwo-jima-72-years-ago/

Ukraine’s Leader Urges More Sanctions Against Russia



By

Published on February 21, 2017

MOSCOW (AP) — Ukraine’s president on Tuesday called for new sanctions against Russia over its decision to recognize passports issued by separatist authorities in the east, while the Kremlin accused Ukrainian authorities of denying vital documents to people in the rebel regions.

The Kremlin said its decision is a “humanitarian” move to help residents of the east suffering from Ukraine’s blockade, and doesn’t amount to recognizing the rebel regions.

Ukrainian forces have been fighting Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine since April 2014, a conflict that has killed more than 9,800 people.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Tuesday denounced Moscow’s action as contradicting the 2015 peace agreement. Speaking at a meeting with EU Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Commissioner Christos Stylianides, Poroshenko called for “resolute action, up to strengthening sanctions.”

The United States and the European Union have hit Russia with sanctions for its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and support for pro-Russian insurgents in eastern Ukraine.

The February 2015 peace agreement brokered by France and Germany has helped reduce fighting in the east, but clashes have continued and provisions for a political settlement have stalled. Russia and Ukraine have blamed each other for the lack of progress.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov argued Tuesday that the decision to recognize passports and other documents issued by separatist authorities in the east was intended to protect the rights of local residents, who have found it impossible to receive documents from Ukraine because of its blockade of the rebel regions.

“The Ukrainian authorities are doing all they can to make life as difficult as possible for the residents of those territories and make it as hard as possible for them to enjoy the most basic rights and freedoms,” Lavrov said. “It’s hard and often impossible to exercise those rights without documents.”

 

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.






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Article source: https://stream.org/ukraines-leader-urges-sanctions-russia/

You Can’t Make America Great Again by Destroying Americans Like Barronelle Stutzman

Donald Trump made his success in the building trade. One of the key reasons he speaks so plainly and bluntly to ordinary voters is the many years he spent jawboning with construction workers and foremen. So let’s hope he understands this metaphor: Just as you can’t put up a great building with shoddy materials and lazy workmanship, you can’t make America great again if the government you run is attacking that country’s building blocks. If the foremen and workers you’re paying are putting too much sand in the concrete, or using tin instead of structural steel, the building that you end up with is doomed to collapse.

If your appointees and agencies are hunting down and executing the “little platoons” that make ordered liberty possible, your country will fall apart.

If your appointees and agencies are hunting down and executing the “little platoons” that make ordered liberty possible, your country will fall apart. As founding father John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

America will not be rejuvenated but ruined if Trump doesn’t act to support the First Amendment Defense Act and protect the kind of people who made America great — people like Barronelle Stutzman, the Washington florist who faces destruction because she politely declined to take part in a same-sex wedding.

A small business owner, churchgoer, and faithful Christian, she pretty much defines the kind of citizen that keeps our country going. They give to charity at higher levels than other people. They are more likely to stay faithful to their spouses. Their kids join the military, police and fire department. They volunteer for civic-minded projects, and sign up for neighborhood watches. They believe in Christian mercy but also insist on justice — which is why so many of them voted for Donald Trump, in the hope that he would bring order to our country’s chaotic immigration process, and regain control of our borders. They love their country, their city, their neighborhood, their family, and God.

The ACLU Didn’t Build America. People of Faith Did.

These are the heirs of the Pilgrims, who sailed across an ocean and planted a colony in the howling wilderness, rather than live under a government where unaccountable bureaucrats could demand that they violate their conscience. They’re the heirs of the Abolitionists, who smuggled escaping slaves along the Underground Railroad, to flout an unjust law. They’re heirs of the suffragists, who didn’t expect five judges to pervert the Constitution, but who worked through the system and played by the rules to change the Constitution to offer women the vote.

Does President Trump really want to side with the narrow-eyed fanatics who defend partial-birth abortion, open borders, and massive bureaucratic interference with every American’s life?

They’re the kind of people who joined the Civil Rights movement and worked with fellow Christians from very different backgrounds, of another race, to demand that the Constitution keep its promise to every American. They’re the kind of people today who pray outside abortion clinics and run crisis pregnancy centers. Drive by some government-funded murder mill early on Saturday morning, and look at those people’s faces. Whom will you see? Dozens and dozens of people like Barronelle Stutzman.

Does President Trump really want to side with the narrow-eyed fanatics who defend partial-birth abortion, and open borders, and massive bureaucratic interference with every American’s life? Those are the kind of people who support the American Civil Liberties Union — the organization that stands to benefit from seizing Ms. Stutzman’s 401k, and auctioning off her home. They’re the people who put on those sickening hats and threw a national tantrum the day after Trump’s inauguration. They rioted in Berkeley, or cheered the rioters on as they skimmed the MSM headlines while sipping their pumpkin lattes. They regard Trump’s presidency as illegitimate, and will seize any excuse to claim that the election was hacked or stolen. They want to silence free speech on campus and impose their arrogant, secular agenda in every nook and cranny of American life.

Mr. President, You Must Pick a Side

And to do that, they must destroy all the Barronelle Stutzmans. They will use whatever power they can grab hold of, from perversions of federal law like the Obama administration’s gay hijack of the Civil Rights Act, to education bureaucrats’ perverted, transgendered reading of Title IX. They use corporate power to blackmail non-profit organizations like the Boy Scouts, and their dominance of the media to blacken the names of good, innocent people who happen to disagree with them — and get them fired.

These kind of arrogant cynics thought it would be clever to use Obamacare to bankrupt Catholic nuns, and close down Hobby Lobby. They tried to use Title IX in California to shutter Christian colleges. They will use force, fear, or fraud without compunction, because they believe that they serve the abstract demands of “justice” and “liberation,” and that the end justifies the means. It was lawyers like this who wrote the briefs that sank President Trump’s sensible executive order on immigration, and who serve on the Ninth Circuit Court that wrote that absurd decision. Reporters who think like this are spinning “fake news” about the president every single news cycle, distorting and mocking every word that comes out of his mouth.

Mr. President, you need to pick a side: The Barronelle Stutzmans of America, who voted for you and trusted you and just want to live in peace — or the arrogant, strutting elites who hate her and everyone like her, and who hate you even more. Will you stand up for your supporters, the people who made America great, and can make it great again? Or will you cave in to the bullies who oppress her, and reject you?

We are waiting for your answer.

Article source: https://stream.org/you-cant-make-america-great-again-by-destroying-americans-like-barronelle-stutzman/

Baltimore Mosque Celebrates the Murderer of a ‘Blasphemer’

Last Sunday a mosque outside Baltimore reportedly honored the assassin of a Pakistani statesman who criticized his country’s blasphemy law.

According to Ehsan Rehan in the Rabwah Times, an online Pakistani newspaper often specializing in religious persecution reporting, here is what happened:

The Gulzar E Madina Mosque in Pikesville, Maryland hosted an “Urs” in honor of the infamous killer on February 12th. Urs is a traditional commemoration usually given to Saints and Holy personages. The Mosque also advertised the event in the February 9th edition of Urdu Times, America’s most widely distributed Urdu language newspaper.

Salman Taseer was governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province when he was killed in 2011 by his bodyguard Mumtaz Qadri for criticizing Pakistan’s law prohibiting blasphemy against Islam. Specifically Taseer had defended Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian woman under death sentence since 2009 for supposedly insulting Islam. Another senior Pakistani statesman, Shahbaz Bhati, was also assassinated in 2011 for publicly defending her. 

The killer, who shot Taseer 27 times, was unrepentant and was widely supported by protests until his execution under Pakistani law last year. His grave has become a pilgrimage site, and a popular mosque in Islamabad is named in his honor.

That an assassin should be honored, much less at a religious service, would strike nearly all Americans as outrageous. A church honoring James Earl Ray or Lee Harvey Oswald is unimaginable.

But the Gulzar E Madina Mosque in Pikesville apparently had no reluctance about honoring an assassin who killed for his faith. According to the Rabwah Times report, one speaker at the mosque said: “Whoever disrespects the Holy Prophet Muhammad is worthy of death, and even if disrespects indirectly he is still worthy of death. Even if someone asks for forgiveness it is not acceptable.”

Another speaker, an Islamic scholar, said:

Warrior Mumtaz Qadri kissed the noose in love for Prophet Muhammad. When Qadri was in jail for 5 years what did we do? What effort did we make (for his release)? Why did we not go where he was being held? Qadri did everything for us, and for the love of Islam and we could not even stand by him. People say Islam teaches peace. … I say Islam teaches us Ghairat (Honor). Who will now stand up?

A third speaker, who was a local cleric, said: “Mumtaz Qadri was not a terrorist and whoever says ‘We are with you O Prophet’ cannot be a terrorist.”

Interestingly, this speaker also praised liberty for Islam in America:

We have some freedoms here (in the U.S.) which we do not even have in other Muslim countries, this is the beauty of this country. There are some countries where we can’t even praise the prophet, we can’t celebrate the Day of Imam Hussain, this country has freedom of religion and this is the beauty of this country.

But apparently, according to this cleric, liberty should not be afforded to the imprisoned Christian Pakistani woman or the assassinated officials who defended her.

America rightly affords freedom of speech to all citizens. This Maryland mosque can celebrate assassination as a religious duty. Klansmen can march. Nazis can don swastikas. Communists can advocate dictatorship. There is no opinion not protected by the Constitution. 

America should not become a refuge for persecutors.

But our democracy depends on the majority of citizens rejecting these hateful views and affirming liberty for all. I do not know how many who attended this mosque celebration of assassination were immigrants. But they should never have been permitted into this country. The Constitution protects free speech for all citizens but it does not require an open door to persons who abhor American freedoms and who advocate murder.

Many Christian leaders are outspoken advocates of permissive immigration and refugee policies. They rightly celebrate America as a refuge for the persecuted. But America should not become a refuge for persecutors.

Hopefully some churches and other places of worship will honor Salmaan Taseer and Shahbaz Bhati, plus the imprisoned Asia Bhibi, who after 8 years is still fighting her death sentence for blasphemy. She deserves our support and needs our prayers.

 

Originally published at Juicy Ecumenism. Republished with permission.

Article source: https://stream.org/baltimore-mosque-celebrates-the-murderer-of-a-blasphemer/

It is Outrageous for the Government to Force Christians to Violate Their Faith

The more you see something shocking, the less shocking it appears, and the more something outrageous happens, the less outrageous it seems to be. That is how a culture becomes desensitized, and that is how the abnormal becomes normalized. But when it comes to the government’s attack on our religious freedoms, it is our sacred duty to remain shocked and outraged. Such things cannot continue to happen in America if we are to be the land of the free and the home of the brave.

According to the Washington Supreme Court, when Christian florist Barronelle Stutzman declined to do the floral arrangements for a same-sex “wedding,” she violated the state’s anti-discrimination laws, since she allegedly discriminated based on her customer’s sexual orientation by refusing to participate in his “wedding ceremony.”

Attorney David French is correct in emphasizing how this ruling should affect us (he penned these words shortly after the verdict was announced): “If you care about the Bill of Rights, the rights of conscience, or even the English language, there’s a chance that this morning you felt a disturbance in the Force — as if the Founders cried out in rage and were suddenly silenced.”

As French clearly explains,

She was not discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. She was making a decision not to help celebrate an action, a form of expression. She would no more celebrate a gay wedding than she would any form of immorality, gay or straight. To dispense with her argument, the court did what numerous progressive courts have done: It rewrote the law. It rejected what it called the “status/conduct” distinction, and essentially interpreted the word “orientation” to also mean “action.”

In a million lifetimes, the Founders could never have countenanced such an outrage. In fact, I doubt that the leading pioneer gay activists could have countenanced something this extreme when they launched their movement less than 50 years ago.

It is imperative that we not lose our sense of shock and outrage just because things like this are becoming increasingly common.

It is imperative, then, that we not lose our sense of shock and outrage just because things like this are becoming increasingly common. For the sake of our kids and our grandkids — not to mention for the sake of our contemporaries — we cannot become desensitized.

What the court has said in Washington echoes what other courts have said around the country: Regardless of your religious or moral convictions, you must participate in gay “weddings” if your business provides any service related to such events. Otherwise, you are guilty of discrimination. (This, of course, is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many other examples of the government or corporations or schools punishing Christians for their faith.)

What this means is that a gay couple could go into a bakery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, home to tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews who primarily live and do business among themselves, that couple could ask the devout Jewish baker to bake a cake for their “wedding,” and that baker could be put of business if he refused to comply. (Stop for a moment and try to imagine this scenario in your mind. It really is unthinkable.)

Or that same gay couple could go into a bakery in the most religious part of Dearborn, Michigan, home to tens of thousands of Muslims, some of them very religious, and a Muslim baker could be put of business for declining to participate in their “wedding.” How could this be?

Are religious Jewish photographers required to shoot Christian weddings under penalty of law? Of course not.

Are devout Muslim photographers required to shoot Hindu weddings under penalty of law? Obviously not.

Why then are Christian bakers and florists and photographers required to provide their services for gay weddings under penalty of law?

What the courts have effectively done is to elevate sexual orientation to the most privileged status — trumping freedoms of speech and religion and conscience.

To say it again: This is an absolute outrage, and to shrug our shoulders with indifference is to insult Jesus, to insult our Founders and to insult our brothers and sisters in the faith.

What if a Christian woman went into the store of an Orthodox Jewish woodworker, asking that craftsman to make a crucifix for her to wear around her neck, then taking him to court when he explained that, as a religious Jew, he could not take her order, since that would be sacrilegious for him. Would the courts really rule for the Christian woman and claim that the Orthodox Jewish craftsman was guilty of discrimination based on religion? To do so would send shockwaves through the Jewish community nationwide, and rightly so.

What if this same Christian woman went into the store of a religious Muslim printer, asking him to print flyers declaring, “The Koran is wrong. Jesus really is the Son of God”?

When she took him to court for declining her business, would the courts really rule on her behalf and claim that the religious Muslim printer was guilty of discrimination based on religion? To do so would send shockwaves through the Muslim community nationwide, and rightly so.

The Washington ruling is no less outrageous and should send shockwaves through the Christian community nationwide.

What the courts have effectively done is to elevate sexual orientation to the most privileged status — trumping freedoms of speech and religion and conscience — and to rule that, businesses must not only serve gays and lesbians but also must participate in their lifestyle celebrations, with severe penalties for failure to comply.

Remarkably, when a gay baker declined to make a cake with a biblical verse against homosexuality and the case was taken to court, the court ruled in favor of the baker and against the Christian. How can this possibly be?

I wrote on Thursday that Christian leaders must not be silent about the Washington ruling, calling for specific points of action.

Today, I’m saying something even more basic: If you are a person of faith and conscience, you must not lose your outrage.

Article source: https://stream.org/outrageous-government-force-christians-violate-faith/

Is Elon Musk Changing His Business Plan To Get Money From Trump?

President Donald Trump’s adviser Stephen Bannon believes Elon Musk’s ideas are the template the White House will use to grow American jobs, according to a Thursday report by Bloomberg News.

Bannon, who is a boogeyman in Democratic circles, told an associate that Musk and his companies are an embodiment of the kind of U.S.-based job growth Trump wants to create, said the report. The former Goldman Sachs banker’s comments likely won’t be well-received by Musk’s mostly Democratic fan-base.

Trump, for his part, campaigned on dramatically ratcheting up the country’s infrastructure spending, telling reporters he planned to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure projects.

Bannon made similar comments in November during the race for the White House.

“I’m the guy pushing a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan,” Bannon told reporters at the time. “With negative interest rates throughout the world, it’s the greatest opportunity to rebuild everything. Shipyards, ironworks, get them all jacked up.”

Musk, whose companies depend heavily on tax credits, was added to a business forum in December responsible for giving private sector industry input to Trump. The Tesla boss became a reliable foot solider for the former reality TV star over the objections of his liberal fan-base.

Musk received scorn after halfheartedly criticizing the president’s January decision to temporarily ban refugees. His initial tweet responding to Trump’s order clamping down on immigration went over like a lead balloon: “the blanket entry ban on citizens from certain primarily Muslim countries is not the best way to address the country’s problems,” Musk tweeted Jan. 28.

He received mostly negative feedback for failing to come out more directly against Trump’s ban, so Musk tried a more direct attack in later tweets. But Musk’s follow up tweets only further enraged his followers, reminding them of his connections to Trump.

The tech entrepreneur, who made opposition to fossil fuels a key component of his brand, also offered an endorsement of Trump secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson shortly before the former Exxon CEO underwent confirmation hearings. Musk told his Twitter followers the oilman “has the potential to be an excellent Sec of State.”

Musk continues to prop up Trump even as his fellow tech compatriot, Uber Technologies CEO Travis Kalanick, was forced to leave the White House business forum in February because of the president’s immigration executive order.

The relationship benefits Musk and Trump equally, Bloomberg’s report notes.  The connection gives the president cover for techie-types in Silicon Valley, many of whom consider Trump and anti-science dullard.

Musk, meanwhile, will likely need more government support to keep his many companies — including electric vehicle-maker Tesla and solar panel producer SolarCity — up and running.

One of his companies, SpaceX, has been the recipient of lucrative government contracts valued at more than $6.5 billion over the past eight years, mostly to delivering cargo to NASA’s primary space station. It’s also working on securing contracts from the Air Force valued at more than $100 million.

Tesla, for its part, also receives troves of government tax credits. The electric car-maker recently acquired SolarCity, which was created and directed by several members of Musk’s inner-circle and is propped up primarily by billions in taxpayer dollars.

Trump could also come in handy in other ways for Musk. He proposed building a maze of tunnels across the country in January to ease traffic congestion.

Musk wants to build a tunneling machine capable of digging thousands of miles, eventually erecting a giant underground network that includes as many as 30 levels of tunnels for cars and high-speed trains.

The Trump-Musk pipeline could pose a problem for the Tesla brand, analysts warn.

Musk needs to tread lightly when interacting with the current administration, because most of his wealthy loyalists are not Trump supporters, COO Salome Gvarmia of the tech investment firm Devonshire Research Group (DRG), told The Daily Caller News Foundation earlier this month.

“Musk’s followers are passionate for their cause, leading to the overwhelming support and brand strength for Tesla,” she said. “Musk’s followers can be single-handedly credited for maintaining Tesla’s share price at levels that are — based on any number of valuation metrics — egregiously high.”

 

Follow Chris White on Facebook and Twitter.

Copyright 2017 Daily Caller News Foundation

Article source: https://stream.org/elon-musk-changing-business-plan-get-money-trump/

Is Elon Musk Changing His Business Plan To Get Money From Trump?

President Donald Trump’s adviser Stephen Bannon believes Elon Musk’s ideas are the template the White House will use to grow American jobs, according to a Thursday report by Bloomberg News.

Bannon, who is a boogeyman in Democratic circles, told an associate that Musk and his companies are an embodiment of the kind of U.S.-based job growth Trump wants to create, said the report. The former Goldman Sachs banker’s comments likely won’t be well-received by Musk’s mostly Democratic fan-base.

Trump, for his part, campaigned on dramatically ratcheting up the country’s infrastructure spending, telling reporters he planned to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure projects.

Bannon made similar comments in November during the race for the White House.

“I’m the guy pushing a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan,” Bannon told reporters at the time. “With negative interest rates throughout the world, it’s the greatest opportunity to rebuild everything. Shipyards, ironworks, get them all jacked up.”

Musk, whose companies depend heavily on tax credits, was added to a business forum in December responsible for giving private sector industry input to Trump. The Tesla boss became a reliable foot solider for the former reality TV star over the objections of his liberal fan-base.

Musk received scorn after halfheartedly criticizing the president’s January decision to temporarily ban refugees. His initial tweet responding to Trump’s order clamping down on immigration went over like a lead balloon: “the blanket entry ban on citizens from certain primarily Muslim countries is not the best way to address the country’s problems,” Musk tweeted Jan. 28.

He received mostly negative feedback for failing to come out more directly against Trump’s ban, so Musk tried a more direct attack in later tweets. But Musk’s follow up tweets only further enraged his followers, reminding them of his connections to Trump.

The tech entrepreneur, who made opposition to fossil fuels a key component of his brand, also offered an endorsement of Trump secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson shortly before the former Exxon CEO underwent confirmation hearings. Musk told his Twitter followers the oilman “has the potential to be an excellent Sec of State.”

Musk continues to prop up Trump even as his fellow tech compatriot, Uber Technologies CEO Travis Kalanick, was forced to leave the White House business forum in February because of the president’s immigration executive order.

The relationship benefits Musk and Trump equally, Bloomberg’s report notes.  The connection gives the president cover for techie-types in Silicon Valley, many of whom consider Trump and anti-science dullard.

Musk, meanwhile, will likely need more government support to keep his many companies — including electric vehicle-maker Tesla and solar panel producer SolarCity — up and running.

One of his companies, SpaceX, has been the recipient of lucrative government contracts valued at more than $6.5 billion over the past eight years, mostly to delivering cargo to NASA’s primary space station. It’s also working on securing contracts from the Air Force valued at more than $100 million.

Tesla, for its part, also receives troves of government tax credits. The electric car-maker recently acquired SolarCity, which was created and directed by several members of Musk’s inner-circle and is propped up primarily by billions in taxpayer dollars.

Trump could also come in handy in other ways for Musk. He proposed building a maze of tunnels across the country in January to ease traffic congestion.

Musk wants to build a tunneling machine capable of digging thousands of miles, eventually erecting a giant underground network that includes as many as 30 levels of tunnels for cars and high-speed trains.

The Trump-Musk pipeline could pose a problem for the Tesla brand, analysts warn.

Musk needs to tread lightly when interacting with the current administration, because most of his wealthy loyalists are not Trump supporters, COO Salome Gvarmia of the tech investment firm Devonshire Research Group (DRG), told The Daily Caller News Foundation earlier this month.

“Musk’s followers are passionate for their cause, leading to the overwhelming support and brand strength for Tesla,” she said. “Musk’s followers can be single-handedly credited for maintaining Tesla’s share price at levels that are — based on any number of valuation metrics — egregiously high.”

 

Follow Chris White on Facebook and Twitter.

Copyright 2017 Daily Caller News Foundation

Article source: https://stream.org/elon-musk-changing-business-plan-get-money-trump/

Report: Border Wall Only Needs to Stop 9-12% of Illegal Crossings to Pay for Itself

President Donald Trump’s border wall only needs to stop about 10 percent of illegal crossing in order to pay for itself, according to an analysis by the Center for Immigration Studies.

The estimated $12 to $15 billion cost of the wall would quickly be offset by the savings to the government if fewer illegal immigrants arrive in the country over the next decade, CIS found. Only a small portion of the population of people who are expected to attempt an illegal crossing in the next decade — between 9 and 12 percent — would have to be stopped for the wall to totally pay for itself.

The analysis from CIS, a group that advocates for moderating immigration levels, relies on fiscal estimates from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NAS) for the average cost to taxpayers of illegal immigrants. NAS estimates one illegal immigrant costs state and local governments approximately $75,000 in a lifetime, taking into account taxes paid and the cost of providing benefits such as education and health care.

If Trump’s border wall stopped between 160,000 and 200,000 people from entering the country illegally, CIS finds, the savings would offset the expected cost of the wall.

Estimates on the cost of the wall have ranged from as low as $8 billion to as high as $20 billion. Opponents of its construction argue the wall will not be effective in stopping all immigrants, and use that argument in conjunction with the price tag to assert building the wall is a waste of resources. While CIS finds it would quickly pay for itself, the analysis does note most of the fiscal burden for illegal immigrants falls on state and local governments, while the cost of the wall will fall on the federal government.

Nevertheless, the cost estimates are somewhat conservative, as they do not take into account the cost to the government of the children of illegal immigrants. If those costs are included as estimated by NAS, the fiscal drain increases to about $95,000 per illegal immigrant. CIS also notes the wall could save taxpayers nearly $64 billion over the next decade if half of the crossings are stopped — more than three times the expected cost of the wall.

Trump was able to order construction of a substantial wall on the Mexico border shortly after taking office, because of a 2006 law passed with the help of Democrats — including then-Sens. Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton. The law authorized the construction of 700 miles of fencing along the southern border, as well as additional lights, cameras and sensors to enhance security.

Although former President George W. Bush signed the measure into law, the Democrat-controlled Congress that took over a few months later ensured it would never be completed by means of an amendment to a 2008 spending bill.

The amendment removed an explicit requirement the wall be made of double-layer fencing, and gave the Department of Homeland Security authority to put in place less effective barriers, such as simple vehicle barriers that do not keep pedestrians out. As a result, Democrats were able to avoid a politically unpopular vote against the wall, and then turn around and quietly gut its construction. But Trump and Republicans in Congress are now using that law to ensure a proper wall is constructed.

 

Follow Rachel on TwitterSend tips to rachel@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

Copyright 2017 The Daily Caller News Foundation

Article source: https://stream.org/analysis-border-wall-needs-stop-9-12-illegal-crossings-pay/

Report: Border Wall Only Needs to Stop 9-12% of Illegal Crossings to Pay for Itself

President Donald Trump’s border wall only needs to stop about 10 percent of illegal crossing in order to pay for itself, according to an analysis by the Center for Immigration Studies.

The estimated $12 to $15 billion cost of the wall would quickly be offset by the savings to the government if fewer illegal immigrants arrive in the country over the next decade, CIS found. Only a small portion of the population of people who are expected to attempt an illegal crossing in the next decade — between 9 and 12 percent — would have to be stopped for the wall to totally pay for itself.

The analysis from CIS, a group that advocates for moderating immigration levels, relies on fiscal estimates from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NAS) for the average cost to taxpayers of illegal immigrants. NAS estimates one illegal immigrant costs state and local governments approximately $75,000 in a lifetime, taking into account taxes paid and the cost of providing benefits such as education and health care.

If Trump’s border wall stopped between 160,000 and 200,000 people from entering the country illegally, CIS finds, the savings would offset the expected cost of the wall.

Estimates on the cost of the wall have ranged from as low as $8 billion to as high as $20 billion. Opponents of its construction argue the wall will not be effective in stopping all immigrants, and use that argument in conjunction with the price tag to assert building the wall is a waste of resources. While CIS finds it would quickly pay for itself, the analysis does note most of the fiscal burden for illegal immigrants falls on state and local governments, while the cost of the wall will fall on the federal government.

Nevertheless, the cost estimates are somewhat conservative, as they do not take into account the cost to the government of the children of illegal immigrants. If those costs are included as estimated by NAS, the fiscal drain increases to about $95,000 per illegal immigrant. CIS also notes the wall could save taxpayers nearly $64 billion over the next decade if half of the crossings are stopped — more than three times the expected cost of the wall.

Trump was able to order construction of a substantial wall on the Mexico border shortly after taking office, because of a 2006 law passed with the help of Democrats — including then-Sens. Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton. The law authorized the construction of 700 miles of fencing along the southern border, as well as additional lights, cameras and sensors to enhance security.

Although former President George W. Bush signed the measure into law, the Democrat-controlled Congress that took over a few months later ensured it would never be completed by means of an amendment to a 2008 spending bill.

The amendment removed an explicit requirement the wall be made of double-layer fencing, and gave the Department of Homeland Security authority to put in place less effective barriers, such as simple vehicle barriers that do not keep pedestrians out. As a result, Democrats were able to avoid a politically unpopular vote against the wall, and then turn around and quietly gut its construction. But Trump and Republicans in Congress are now using that law to ensure a proper wall is constructed.

 

Follow Rachel on TwitterSend tips to rachel@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

Copyright 2017 The Daily Caller News Foundation

Article source: https://stream.org/analysis-border-wall-needs-stop-9-12-illegal-crossings-pay/

Pres. Trump’s Immigration Policy is Moral and Responsible

President Trump has been under relentless attack from those on the Left against his efforts to limit immigration from terrorist-producing areas and his call for comprehensive vetting and background checks. The vituperate accusations and riots, heavily-funded by leftwing sources, as well as the vicious salvos against him by the media and political foes, are fiercer and nastier than almost anything we’ve seen in the past over routine policy disagreements.

The President assuredly needs our moral and vocal support.

A Religious, Historic and Civic Duty

Beyond doubt, it is the president’s first and most important duty to protect the lives of a country’s citizens, especially when terrorists might embed themselves within a particular immigration flow.

Securing the country’s borders until a more fool-proof method of vetting is established is the moral thing to do. In Europe, and here in America, lax vetting has resulted in horrendous explosions and killings of dozens of innocent people as seen in Orlando, San Bernardino, Columbus, Paris, Berlin, Boston and Barcelona and other places infiltrated by terrorist plants within shariah immigrant groups.

It is irresponsible to ignore those who possess an ideological and religious hostility to Americans, our way of life and our laws and who live with deep-seated antagonism to Christianity and Judaism. Saving the lives of fellow Americans is a religious, historic and civic duty.

It is also irresponsible to ignore those and their offspring who possess an ideological and religious hostility to Americans, our way of life and our laws … and who live with deep-seated antagonism to Christianity and Judaism. Saving lives of fellow Americans is a religious, historic and civic duty.

Some are exploiting the Holocaust to promote unrestricted Syrian and other Mideast immigration here. However, there is no parallel between the Jews who fled Europe in the 1930s, who were, as Jews, specific targets for genocide and the Nazi concentration camps, and those today wishing to escape the civil war in their Mideast countries.

The Syrians, for example, are not being targeted because they are Muslims, and there is no Final Solution planned against them. Their civil wars have placed them in a very difficult circumstance, but it is not akin to the deliberate and planned Final Extermination which was specifically directed at Jews as Jews during the once-in-history Holocaust. It’s a different category altogether.

Furthermore, comparisons to the Holocaust situation are improper for other reasons: (1) there were no Nazi agents embedded within the fleeing Jews; (2) nor did any of the Jews harbor a cultural or religious ideology wishing to sew physical destruction on the American people; and (3) there were no rabbis in the 1930s sending forth commands worldwide to destroy the “infidels.”

Indeed (4) the completely innocent Jews of Europe had nowhere to go — there was not yet a State of Israel — whereas there are 57 Islamic states, many exceedingly wealthy, who could be offering safe haven to their Islamic brothers.

The Christian Genocide Parallel

If there is genocide parallel, it involves the Christians of the Middle East who have been targets of the Muslim genocide against them. And yet, the Left has been silent regarding the plight of Christians seeking refuge from Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Egypt, Lebanon, Hamas areas and elsewhere.

By choosing American safety and life over the feel-good platitudes and hate-filled shouts of the Left, Mr. Trump is living up to the age-old clarion call of genuine and moral leadership. He must be congratulated for prioritizing the safety of Americans over self-congratulatory leftists.

During the Obama years, Christian immigration here from Islamic territories was, based on population percentages, 90% less than what it should have been. Mr. Obama moralized about “not using a religious litmus test” to cynically over-weight Muslim immigration while severely undercutting and ignoring Christian refugees begging to be rescued from Islamic jihad against them.

One can’t be blamed for wondering if the Left’s concern for Muslim migrants, and lack of concern for oppressed Christian refugees, has more to do with transforming our demographics and historic culture, voting expectations, and diminishing the Judeo-Christian influence on our civic life. Certainly, Mr. Trump must be congratulated for prioritizing the safety of Americans over self-congratulatory leftists too willing to sacrifice us and our children in behalf of their ideological political gods.

Scripture warns of the need to be wary “Lest enemies enter your domain and become thorns in your sides and pins in your eyes, and vex you in your Land” (Numbers, 33:55). Scripture’s call to “not afflict the stranger” was certainly not intended as a national suicide program. See the numerous citations in Exodus, Numbers and Deuteronomy exhorting the nation to protect her borders in hope of maintaining her safety, national outlook and civic culture.

Being Kind to the Stranger

Being kind to the stranger was a mandate not to be cruel, torture and harass, nor physically afflict strangers,. Surrounding societies relished harming strangers traveling through their land. In fact, to be afforded resident status (in Hebrew: Ger Toshav) in ancient Judea required a comprehensive vetting and subsequent pledge and loyalty to the norms, behavior and laws of ancient Judea.

By choosing American safety and life over the feel-good platitudes and hate-filled shouts of the Left, Mr. Trump is living up to the age-old clarion call of genuine and moral leadership.

 

Rabbi Aryeh Spero is author of Push Back: Reclaiming our Judeo-Christian Spirit, president of Jews for America and author of Why Israel Matters to You.

Article source: https://stream.org/pres-trumps-immigration-policy-moral-responsible/

The Split Among Catholics Deepens Under Trump

As I argued over the weekend, it is not true that theological conservatives within the Catholic hierarchy are seeking the support of the Trump administration in resisting Pope Francis’ aggressive efforts to change the Church. John Allen  — himself no conservative, but an honest and rational observer — debunked such fevered imaginings of the Washington Post in Crux:

What’s probably going on is this: [White House strategist Steve] Bannon is a ferocious cultural conservative, and thus when he was in Rome he reached out to people he suspected might be friendly. Without any need for coordination, in the meantime, he’s continued to pursue his agenda, and Catholics such as [Cardinal Raymond] Burke have pursued theirs.

In other words, the most plausible explanation is that the people who figure in this narrative are simply doing what they do, and the fact their activity sometimes overlaps shouldn’t be a surprise.

So there is no “vast right-wing conspiracy” on the Catholic right.

Trump Has Exposed Deep Fault Lines Inside the Church

That said, the election of a populist whose program is based in the kind of hard-headed prudence that guided Catholic statesmen over two millennia has provoked an intense fight within church circles.

Those Catholics who have privileged their own statist approach to “social justice” over traditional moral teaching, liturgy, and evangelization, are throwing a public tantrum. Some of them are using the institutional power which they are gaining under Pope Francis to tar the policies Donald Trump is proposing as “un-Christian,” in the hope of rallying millions of Catholic voters against the president.

Last week, in two separate pieces at The Stream, Jason Jones and I dissected the case made by prominent Jesuit Rev. James Martin that Trump’s attempts to enforce U.S. immigration law are contrary to the Gospel. We showed that Trump’s position is actually closer to the official church teaching on immigration than is Fr. Martin’s (or Pope Francis’).

Are Immigration Laws from the Antichrist?

But more and more voices from the entrenched Catholic left are emerging to throw similar accusations against the church’s wall, to see if they’ll stick. The widely distributed (free in the back of liberal churches) magazine U.S. Catholic weighed in with the following:

Pope Francis puts our responsibility toward refugees bluntly: “It’s hypocrisy to call yourself a Christian and chase away a refugee or someone seeking help, someone who is hungry or thirsty, toss out someone who is in need of my help,” he said. “If I say I am Christian, but do these things, I’m a hypocrite.”

You might expect Christian leaders to applaud Trump’s proposed priority to religious minorities, presumably Christian minorities in majority Muslim countries. However, a “Christianity First” policy decries the central command of the Judeo-Christian tradition, which is to love God and neighbor.

The question of solidarity within the Body of Christ aside, this high-minded sounding statement willfully ignores the fact that Middle Eastern Christians are the deliberate target of religious genocide, and that (unlike Sunni Muslims) they have absolutely no safe place to go in the region — while vast and wealthy Sunni Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia accept zero refugees, preferring to build mosques for refugees (staffed with Wahhabi Islamists) in Germany, France and Sweden.

Deal Hudson at Newsmax reports that one theologian, Prof. Charlie Camosy of (Jesuit) Fordham University in New York, has actually declared Donald Trump’s “America First” policy orientation a heresy, amounting to idolatry of our country over Christ.

Silencing Faithful Priests, Threatening their Livelihoods

Even worse, some left-wing clergy and bishops are trying to silence priests who reiterate more traditional Catholic views of politics, economics, immigration and foreign policy. They are tapping into the intense hatred that Trump and his “deplorable” supporters provoke among elites — including the ranks of prominent liberal priests, and the staffs of Catholic non-profit agencies that depend for much of their funding on federal government grants.

The Catholic left is almost indistinguishable from a theologically watered-down Mainline Protestant denomination, while conservative Catholics have far more in common with “low-church” evangelical Christians.

The conservative Catholic site OnePeterFive reports that New Jersey priest Fr. Peter West is being targeted by leftist Catholics, the secular press, and forces within his own archbishop’s office, for speaking out firmly on life and marriage issues, while dissenting from the manufactured leftist orthodoxy within many Catholic circles on economics, immigration and multiculturalism:

Unsurprisingly, the Archdiocese of Newark isn’t happy about Fr. West’s outspokenness. Jim Goodness, Communications Director for the Archdiocese now headed by one of Pope Francis’ newly-minted cardinals, Joseph Tobin, acknowledged Fr. West’s First Amendment rights, but took issue with them:

In a statement to NJ Advance Media, Goodness said the archdiocese would move to curtail West’s political pronouncements.

“Certainly, a priest doesn’t give up his civil liberties when he is ordained, and he maintains the same right to freedom of expression as anyone else in the United States,” Goodness said. “That said, we are concerned about Father West’s comments and actions, and will be addressing them according to the protocols of the Church.”

I wrote to Mr. Goodness last week to see if he would elaborate on the apparent plans to suppress Fr. West’s Internet speech. I also inquired asked which “protocols of the Church”, exactly, the Archdiocese would be invoking in this case, since Canon Law does not address the kind of political speech Fr. West is engaging in. Finally, I mentioned that some bloggers were speculating that Fr. West’s energetic activism in the pro-life movement, which at times brought him into conflict with high-ranking prelates like Washington’s Cardinal Wuerl, were the real motivation behind any forthcoming disciplinary action. “Would you be willing to address this concern,” I asked, “with an affirmation of support from the Newark Archdiocese for Fr. West’s pro-life work?”

The following day, Goodness responded to my three-paragraph inquiry with a single sentence: “That [sic] appears in the nj.com story is all that I am prepared to say on this matter at this time.”

OnePeterFive asked, perhaps rhetorically, whether action would be taken to address the social media postings of Fr. Alexander Santora, a prominent left-wing priest under the same NJ archbishop, who expressed support for pro-choice Hillary Clinton, denounced President Trump as “dangerous,” defended same-sex marriage and praised actively homosexual priests who were disciplined under previous popes.

Would Jesus Have Joined the Women’s March?

In other Church news, the Catholic Diocese of San Jose, California, published in its official newspaper, The Valley Catholic, an editorial arguing that Jesus would have marched in the pro-choice, anti-Trump “Women’s March” in January. As LifeNews reports, the column said:

For Catholics, the values of the march aligned particularly well with Catholic Social Teaching regarding respect for human rights, the common good, care for creation, and solidarity with the poor and vulnerable. It was an expression of deep faith in Christ and of active discipleship.

Mary Grunthaner of Transfiguration Parish said, “Christ taught us that whatever we do for the least of our brothers and sisters, we do for Him. Injustice must be resisted by those of us who have chosen to follow the Light of the World. Silence in the face of injustice is ignoring the call of Jesus.” Injustice in broad terms is anything that threatens human dignity, equality, and right to development, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, economic or immigration status.

The election of Donald Trump has laid bare a gaping chasm in Catholicism. Its activist left wing is fundamentally indistinguishable from a theologically watered-down Mainline Protestantism, while conservative Catholics have far more in common with “low-church” evangelical Christians. These affinities cannot help but be baffling to outsiders.

Article source: https://stream.org/split-among-catholics-deepens-trump/

UN Security Council Meeting Sought Over North Korea Missile Test

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — The United States, Japan and South Korea have requested urgent diplomatic talks at the United Nations on Monday over North Korea’s latest ballistic missile launch, with Seoul condemning what it called “serious military and security threats” and predicting more such tests.

A spokesman for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations said Sunday night that the meeting is expected to take place Monday. The spokesman spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.

The U.N. Mission for Ukraine, which holds the rotating Security Council presidency, later confirmed that closed consultations on North Korea will take place late Monday afternoon.

The banned missile test, which was conducted early Sunday, is seen as an implicit challenge to President Donald Trump, who has vowed a tough line on Pyongyang but has yet to release a strategy for dealing with a country whose nuclear ambitions have bedeviled U.S. leaders for decades.

North Korean state media said leader Kim Jong Un was at the site to observe the launch and expressed pleasure at the North’s expansion of its strategic strike capabilities.

“These are serious military and security threats,” Jeong Joon-hee, spokesman at the Ministry of Unification, told reporters. “Pyongyang has no intention of backing away from its goal to become a country with nuclear weapons.”

A report on the launch carried early Monday by the North’s Korean Central News Agency said Kim watched from an observation post and gave the order to fire the “Pukguksong-2,” which it said was a “Korean style new type strategic weapon system.”

It is believed to have flown about 500 kilometers (310 miles) before splashing down into the ocean in international waters.

The report said the test proved “the reliability and security” of a new mobile launching system, the solid fuel that was used and the guidance and control features of the ballistic missile. Solid fuel can give missiles longer range and make detecting them before launch more difficult because they can be readied faster than liquid fuel missiles.

The report also said the test verified control and guidance capabilities and said the missile can be “tipped with a nuclear warhead.”

It suggested the launch conducted in a “lofted” style, which puts the missile into a high trajectory rather than a lower one that gives it more range, in order take “the security of the neighboring countries into consideration.”

It added that Kim “expressed great satisfaction over the possession of another powerful nuclear attack means.”

“Now our rocket industry has radically turned into high thrust solid fuel-powered engine from liquid fuel rocket engine and rapidly developed into a development- and creation-oriented industry, not just copying samples,” he said. “Thanks to the development of the new strategic weapon system, our People’s Army is capable of performing its strategic duties most accurately and rapidly in any space: under waters or on the land.”

North Korea had warned it was ready to test its first intercontinental ballistic missile. The U.S. Strategic Command, however, said it detected and tracked what it assessed to be a medium- or intermediate-range missile. The reports of the launch came as Trump was hosting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and just days before the North is to mark the birthday of leader Kim Jong Un’s late father, Kim Jong Il.

Appearing with Trump at a news conference at Trump’s south Florida estate, Abe condemned the missile launch as “absolutely intolerable.” He read a brief statement calling on the North to comply fully with relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions. He said Trump had assured him of U.S. support and that Trump’s presence showed the president’s determination and commitment.

Trump followed Abe with even fewer words, saying in part: “I just want everybody to understand and fully know that the United States of America stands behind Japan, its great ally, 100 percent.”

Stephen Miller, Trump’s chief policy adviser, said Trump and Abe had displayed “an important show of solidarity” between their nations.

“The message we’re sending to the world right now is a message of strength and solidarity; we stand with Japan and we stand with our allies in the region to address the North Korean menace,” Miller said during an interview Sunday with ABC’s “This Week.”

China, facing criticism that it is not doing enough to pressure North Korea to drop its nuclear program, said Monday that the root cause of North Korean missile launches is friction with the United States and South Korea. Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China opposed the launch, which violated U.N. Security Council resolutions that call for an end to North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests.

The firing of the missile is a major challenge for the Trump administration, said George Lopez, an expert in economic sanctions and nuclear disarmament and a professor emeritus of peace studies at the University of Notre Dame.

“The Sunday test of an intermediate-range ballistic missile by the North Korean regime is in clear violation of past United Nations Security Council resolutions and recent warning from the U.S.,” Lopez said. “As such, it is a significant challenge to the Trump Administration because it has yet to develop its policies toward the region, toward North Korea, or its role in the UN and its use of economic sanctions. So we may learn a lot about Mr. Trump’s crisis diplomacy in the coming days.”

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that the missile was fired from around Banghyon, North Pyongan Province, which is where South Korean officials have said the North test-launched its powerful midrange Musudan missile on Oct. 15 and 20.

The missile splashed down into the sea between the Korean Peninsula and Japan, according to the U.S. Strategic Command. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters it did not hit Japanese territorial seas.

The North conducted two nuclear tests and a slew of rocket launches last year in continued efforts to expand its nuclear weapons and missile programs. Kim Jong Un said in his New Year’s address that the country had reached the final stages of readiness to test an ICBM, which would be a major step forward in its efforts to build a credible nuclear threat to the United States.

Though Pyongyang has been relatively quiet about the transfer of power to the Trump administration, its state media has repeatedly called for Washington to abandon its “hostile policy” and vowed to continue its nuclear and missile development programs until the U.S. changes its diplomatic approach.

Just days ago, it also reaffirmed its plan to conduct more space launches, which it staunchly defends but which have been criticized because they involve dual-use technology that can be transferred to improve missiles.

“Our country has clearly expressed its standpoint, that we will continue to build up our capacity for self-defense, with nuclear forces and a pre-emptive strike capability as the main points, as long as our enemies continue sanctions to suppress us,” Pyongyang student Kim Guk Bom said Sunday. “We will defend the peace and security of our country at any cost, with our own effort, and we will contribute to global peace and stability.”

South Korean Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, who is also the acting president, said his country would punish North Korea for the missile launch. The Foreign Ministry said South Korea would continue to work with allies, including the United States, Japan and the European Union, to ensure a thorough implementation of sanctions against the North and make the country realize that it will “never be able to survive” without discarding all of its nuclear and missile programs.

___

Associated Press writers Kim Tong-Hyung in Seoul, South Korea, Jill Colvin in Palm Beach, Florida, and Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed to this report.

Article source: https://stream.org/un-security-council-meeting-sought-north-korea-missile-test/

North Korea Tests a Missile, and Donald Trump

Pyongyang launched another ballistic missile on Saturday, raising tensions and pushing itself to the top of the Trump administration’s policy agenda.

Preliminary reports indicate the missile flew approximately 300 miles, but it is unclear what the missile type was or whether the launch was a success of failure. But, it doesn’t appear to have been the initial test flight of an intercontinental ballistic missile that Pyongyang had vowed to launch “anywhere, anytime.”

Last year, North Korea conducted two nuclear tests and 24 ballistic missile tests, its most extensive year of testing. Pyongyang had not tested a missile since October, leading to speculation that the regime’s restraint was to not give the advantage to conservative candidates during a forthcoming South Korean presidential election or to wait until the Trump administration had completed its North Korea policy review.

In 2009, North Korea conducted a long-range missile test and a nuclear test as the Obama administration was formulating its own policy toward Pyongyang.

During my meetings in Seoul this week, all senior U.S. and South Korean officials expected a missile launch wouldn’t occur for several more months. It is unclear why Pyongyang abandoned its testing hiatus or chose to do so while President Donald Trump was hosting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

In any case, the launch will undermine those in the U.S. and South Korea advocating resumption of long-stalled negotiations to curb North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

The increasing North Korean threat has aggravated long-standing allied concerns of U.S. abandonment exacerbated by perceptions of diminished U.S. military capabilities and resolve during the Obama administration and comments made by Trump during the campaign suggesting conditionality of U.S. troop presence in Asia.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ trip to Seoul and Tokyo last week assuaged much of the allied concerns, though as one senior South Korea official commented, “the concerns are gone, but anxiety remains.”

In recent months, there have been growing South Korean fears of a decoupled alliance in which the U.S. “wouldn’t trade Los Angeles for Seoul” once North Korea demonstrates an unambiguous capability to threaten the continental U.S. with nuclear ICBMs.

This has led to greater advocacy in South Korea for a range of military options, including the reintroduction of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons that were withdrawn in the 1990s, development of an indigenous South Korean nuclear program, and greater reliance on preemption strategies.

The Trump administration should build on the positive momentum generated from its recent affirmation of its “ironclad commitment” to defend South Korea and Japan by closely coordinating on an allied response.

The launch is yet another violation of United Nations resolutions prohibiting any North Korean launch using ballistic missile technology and the allies should press Beijing for further restrictions on North Korea financial activity, most notably coal exports to China.

Given Chinese foot-dragging on fully implementing required U.N. resolution sanctions, the Trump administration should go beyond the timid incrementalism of the Obama administration by more vigorously enforcing U.S. laws against North Korean transgressions.

While President Barack Obama talked a good game on sanctions, his administration pulled its punches, sanctioning a limited number of entities while holding other actions in abeyance until the next North Korean provocation. Obama’s most significant actions against the regime last year were the result of requirements contained in Congress’ North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act.

The Trump administration should use the extensive authorities already contained in existing legislation and executive orders to impose targeted financial measures against a broader array of North Korean entities. Just as importantly, the U.S. should end its self-imposed restraint against third-party sanctions against Chinese entities facilitating North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

Washington should also consult with Seoul to accelerate the planned deployment of the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) ballistic missile defense system to South Korea.

Both governments have agreed to the deployment but it is not scheduled to occur until later this year. North Korea’s resumption of missile tests shows the need to more quickly augment allied defenses.

The U.S. and South Korea should continue the planned annual Key Resolve and Foal Eagle joint military exercises which begin in early March. Washington should reassure our allies by including U.S. strategic assets, such as B-52 and B-2 bombers as well as dual-capable aircraft and nuclear naval vessels.

However, the allies should tone down public messaging about “decapitation attacks” and preemptive strikes that are potentially destabilizing and could lead either side to misinterpret the other’s intentions, fueling tension and raising the risk of miscalculation.

Responding to the growing North Korean nuclear and missile threats is like a military version of playing “whack-a-mole.” Unlike the arcade game, however, in the real world there is the very real danger that the mole will whack back.

 

 

Bruce Klingner, a senior research fellow for Northeast Asia at The Heritage Foundation’s Asian Studies Center, spent 20 years in the intelligence community working at the CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency. Read his research.

Copyright 2017 The Daily Signal

Article source: https://stream.org/north-korea-tests-missile-donald-trump/

Trump Hugs Ally Japan After Easing US-China Tensions

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump, fresh off patching up ties with China, reassured Japan’s leader Friday that the U.S. will defend its close ally. Together, the pronouncements illustrated a shift toward a more mainstream Trump stance on U.S. policy toward Asia.

Welcoming Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the White House with a hug, Trump said he wants to bring the post-World War II alliance with Japan “even closer.” While such calls are ritual after these types of meetings, from Trump they’re sure to calm anxieties that he has stoked by demanding that America’s partners pay more for their own defense.

Abe, a nationalist adept at forging relationships with self-styled strongmen overseas, was the only world leader to meet the Republican before his inauguration. He is now the second to do so since Trump took office. Abe said he would welcome the United States becoming “even greater.”

He also invited Trump to visit Japan this year. Trump accepted, according to a joint statement.

But the optics Friday were positive. After a working lunch on economic issues, the two leaders boarded Air Force One with their wives for a trip to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida. They dined with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft at the club Friday night. Trump and Abe are scheduled to play golf Saturday.

Their Oval Office meeting came hours after Trump reaffirmed Washington’s long-standing “one China” policy in a call with Chinese President Xi Jinping. That statement will similarly ease anxieties in East Asia after Beijing was angered and other capitals were rattled by earlier suggestions that he might use Taiwan as leverage in trade, security and other negotiations.

Although Japan is a historic rival of China, Trump said that his long and “warm” conversation with Xi was good for Tokyo, too.

“I believe that will all work out very well for everybody, China, Japan, the United States and everybody in the region,” Trump said at a joint news conference with Abe.

Stepping carefully into Japan’s longstanding territorial dispute with China over uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, Trump said the U.S. is committed to the security of Japan and all areas under its administrative control. The implication was that the U.S.-Japan defense treaty covers the disputed islands, which Japan which calls the Senkaku, but China calls the Diaoyu.

Beijing opposes such statements, but Trump’s wording allowed for some diplomatic wiggle room. The joint statement released later was more explicit, however, in spelling out the U.S. commitment.

Abe has championed a more active role for Japan’s military. He has eased constraints imposed by the nation’s pacifist post-war constitution and allowed forces to defend allies, even if Japan itself is not under attack.

As a candidate, Trump urged even greater self-reliance, at one point even raising the notion of Japan and South Korea developing their own nuclear weapons as a deterrent to North Korea.

He made no similar remark Friday, and according to Japanese officials, did not raise the issue of cost-sharing for defense. Instead, he thanked Japan for hosting nearly 50,000 American troops, which also serve as a counterweight to China’s increased regional influence. He said freedom of navigation and dealing with North Korea’s missile and nuclear threats are a “very high priority.”

There was less agreement on economics.

One of Trump’s first actions as president was to withdraw the U.S. from a 12-nation, trans-Pacific trade agreement that was negotiated by the Obama administration and strongly supported by Tokyo.

Diverting from Trump’s stance that the Trans-Pacific Partnership is bad for America, Abe stressed the importance of a “free and fair common set of rules” for trade among the world’s most dynamic economies.

“That was the purpose of TPP. That importance has not changed,” Abe said through an interpreter, though both leaders held out the possibility of a future bilateral, U.S.-Japanese deal.

Trump has also criticized Toyota Motor Corp. for planning to build an assembly plant in Mexico and has complained Japanese don’t buy enough U.S.-made cars — though on Friday, Japanese government spokesman Norio Maruyama said Trump expressed appreciation to Abe for Japanese investment in the U.S. and looked forward to it expanding.

Abe told U.S. business leaders Friday that “a whopping majority” of the Japanese cars running on American roads are manufactured in the U.S. by American workers. That includes 70 percent of Toyotas. Abe said Japanese business supports some 840,000 jobs in the United States.

That may not be enough for Trump, who is highly sensitive to U.S. trade deficits.

Japan logged the second-largest surplus with the U.S. last year, behind only China, and there had been some expectation Abe would use the visit to propose new Japanese investments to help Trump spur American job growth. There was no such announcement Friday — only an agreement to launch a high-level dialogue on economic cooperation.

 

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Article source: https://stream.org/trump-hugs-ally-japan-easing-us-china-tensions/

Trump Says He Might Give Travel Ban a Tweak or a Makeover

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says he might give his refugee and immigration travel ban a second try, either as a revision or as a new order, as he contends with an appeals court ruling that prevents the ban from being enforced.

Trump said he expected to win the legal battle over his original directive even though options were being considered by the White House.

Advisers were debating the next step in response to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that upheld a restraining order on the travel ban. The White House directive had suspended the nation’s refugee program and barred all entries from seven Muslim-majority countries.

A White House official initially suggested the administration would not ask the Supreme Court to overturn that order. But chief of staff Reince Priebus scrambled to clarify to reporters that “every single court option is on the table,” including a high court appeal or “fighting out this case on the merits” in a lower court.

Trump’s executive order was hastily unveiled at the end of his first week in office. While the White House boasted that Trump was fulfilling a campaign promise to toughen vetting procedures for people coming from countries with terror ties, the order caused chaos at airports in the U.S. and sparked protests across the country.

The president has cast the order as crucial for national security. Earlier Friday, he promised to take action “very rapidly” to protect the U.S. and its citizens in the wake of the appeals court decision, but he did not specify what steps he planned to take.

“We’ll be doing things to continue to make our country safe,” Trump pledged at a news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. “It will happen rapidly. We will not allow people into our country who are looking to do harm to our people.”

The president’s comments were far more restrained than his reaction to last week’s initial court ruling blocking the travel ban. Trump took aim at both the “so-called judge” in that case and the ruling, which he called “ridiculous.”

Trump continued to conjure images of unspecified danger Friday, saying he had “learned tremendous things that you could only learn, frankly, if you were in a certain position, namely president. And there are tremendous threats to our country. We will not allow that to happen, I can tell you that. We will not allow that to happen.”

The 9th Circuit ruling represented a significant setback for Trump in just his third week in office. The appellate decision brushed aside arguments by the Justice Department that the president has the constitutional power to restrict entry to the United States and that the courts cannot second-guess his determination that such a step was needed to prevent terrorism.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted that Trump “ought to see the writing on the wall” and abandon the proposal. The New York Democrat called on the president to “roll up his sleeves” and come up with “a real, bipartisan plan to keep us safe.”

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California promised, “Democrats will continue to press for President Trump’s dangerous and unconstitutional ban to be withdrawn.” And Trump’s former presidential rival Hillary Clinton offered a terse response on Twitter, noting the unanimous vote: “3-0.”

Congress’ Republican leaders, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, declined to comment.

U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle issued the temporary restraining order halting the ban after Washington state and Minnesota sued, leading to the federal government’s appeal.

The Trump administration has said the seven nations — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — have raised terrorism concerns. The states have argued that the executive order unconstitutionally blocked entry based on religion and the travel ban harmed individuals, businesses and universities.

Trump and his aides frequently refer to a ruling by a federal judge in Boston who declined last week to extend a temporary injunction against Trump’s travel ban. In a separate federal ruling in Seattle, a different federal judge put the ban on hold nationwide; it is that judge’s decision that the White House has challenged.

“It’s a decision that we’ll win, in my opinion, very easily and, by the way, we won that decision in Boston,” Trump said.

___

Colvin reported from Palm Beach, Florida. Associated Press writers Ken Thomas and Darlene Superville contributed to this report.

___

Follow Julie Pace at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC and http://twitter.com/colvinj

 

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Article source: https://stream.org/trump-says-he-might-give-travel-ban-a-tweak-or-a-makeover/

Tom Price Nears Senate Confirmation as Health Secretary


The man who will lead the charge to dismantle Obamacare

FILE – In this Jan. 24, 2017 file photo, Health and Human Services Secretary-designate, Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga. pauses while testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee. Republicans are ready to overpower Democrats and push President Donald Trump’s next Cabinet nominee through the Senate, the man who will help lead the GOP drive to erase and replace the health care law. The Senate voted 51-48 Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017, to short-circuit Democratic delaying tactics against Price, Trump’s choice for health secretary.


By

Published on February 9, 2017

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans are ready to overpower Democrats and push another of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees through the Senate, the man who will help lead the GOP drive to erase and replace the health care law.

The Senate voted 51-48 Wednesday to short-circuit Democratic delaying tactics against Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., Trump’s choice for health secretary. Final approval of Price seemed certain, a vote that would elevate the long-time proponent of dismantling President Barack Obama’s health care law and reshaping and curbing Medicare and Medicaid. Those goals, for many Republicans, are high on the GOP agenda.

The debate over Price was coming in a week that has so far seen Democrats, eager to show liberal constituents that they are taking a stand against Trump, ferociously but unsuccessfully opposing two nominees for top administration jobs.

Over solid Democratic opposition and two GOP defections, it took a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Mike Pence for the Senate to approve wealthy GOP donor Betsy DeVos on Tuesday to head the Education Department. Under the Constitution, one of the duties of a vice president is to break tie votes in the 100-member Senate.

Price is a conservative seven-term House member from Atlanta’s suburbs who until recently chaired that chamber’s budget committee.

Republicans have talked longingly of confirming Price because one pillar of their strategy to gut Obama’s law is for the Department of Health and Human Services, which he would run, to issue regulations weakening it. Those might include letting states experiment with how they use federal Medicaid funds.

“He’s going to be the guy ultimately who’s responsible for implementing” a GOP replacement plan, said No. 3. Senate Republican leader John Thune of South Dakota. Republicans have yet to finalize their proposal.

At Senate hearings on Price’s nomination, Democrats have focused on the former orthopedic surgeon’s considerable stock holdings, especially in health care industry companies. They’ve accused him of conflicts of interest by acquiring those shares, pushing legislation that could benefit those companies and making investments using insider information.

Price has said he’s done nothing wrong. It is against the law for members of Congress to engage in insider trading.

Democrats have focused on Price’s purchase last year of around 400,000 shares in Innate Immunotherapeutics Ltd., an Australian biotech firm. Price has said he learned of the firm from a colleague, Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., the company’s largest shareholder, and Price testified to Congress that the shares he bought were available to any investor.

___

Associated Press reporters Andrew Taylor and Kevin Freking contributed to this report.

 

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Last Cuban Doctor Defectors Arrive in US After Obama’s Policy Change


“I wish they would give the ones left behind a chance because they are also fighting for freedom,” one doctor said.

In a Monday, Feb. 6, 2017 photo, Cuban health worker Veidy Diaz, center, is greeted by family and friends as she talks on the phone after finally leaving the immigration and customs section of Miami International Airport. She was part of the group of Cuban health workers that traveled from Colombia after being allowed entry to the United States. She and other Cuban doctors arriving in Miami this week under the Cuban Medical Professionals Parole said they’re relieved to be arriving, but concerned about colleagues left behind. The outgoing administration of President Barack Obama cancelled the doctors’ policy on Jan. 12, the same day that it eliminated the more well-known “wet foot, dry foot” measure that gave any Cuban who makes it to U.S. soil a pathway to become a legal resident.


By

Published on February 9, 2017

MIAMI (AP) — Yoandri Pavot applied just in time for a visa under a recently scrapped U.S. policy that had long welcomed doctors from Cuba who defected while on assignment in third countries.

Pavot and other Cuban doctors arriving this week in Miami under the now canceled policy called the Cuban Medical Professionals Parole said they’re relieved to be arriving despite uncertain times for immigrants under the Trump administration. But they’re anxious about colleagues left behind.

“I still can’t believe it. Pinch me. Pinch me. I can’t believe I am here,” Pavot, 35, said after arriving Monday at Miami International Airport holding a small American flag. “I wish they would give the ones left behind a chance because they are also fighting for freedom.”

The program — begun in 2006 by then President George W. Bush — allowed Cuban doctors, nurses and other medical professionals to defect to the U.S. while on their government’s mandatory assignments abroad. Pavot said he had applied after the Cuban government dispatched him to a crime-ridden area of Venezuela, where many co-workers were attacked.

The waning administration of President Barack Obama canceled the doctors’ policy Jan. 12. It also eliminated the better-known “wet foot, dry foot” policy that gave any Cuban who makes it to U.S. soil a path to become a legal resident. The moves lined up with Obama’s push for a more normalized relationship with communist Cuba.

But doctors who already applied for visas before Jan. 12 are being allowed in, and the final wave of those accepted are arriving on flights to Miami this week, said Julio Cesar Alfonso, director of a nonprofit that helps Cuban doctors resettle in the U.S.

On Monday, a few walked through glass doors past Customs to loud cheers and hugs from close and distant relatives carrying flowers and balloons. They cried and took photos.

Alfonso said 20 professionals arrived Monday and more are expected on flights this week.

Some critics of the doctors’ policy have said it amounted to a more than decade-long brain drain for Cuba. But proponents said the doctors were forced by the Cuban government to toil overseas under often-grueling conditions and deserved to be liberated.

The repeal of the “wet foot, dry foot” policy was welcomed by many in the Cuban exile community who accused certain recent arrivals of abusing privileges by claiming federal benefits and then traveling back to Cuba. But many of the same criticized the cancellation of the medical defectors program; they’re urging the Trump administration to restore it.

Under the policy, qualifying medical professions could immediately apply for work permission and apply for residency after one year.

President Donald Trump has not established what, if anything, will change regarding Cuba policy. Press secretary Sean Spicer said last week the administration is reviewing its position with Havana.

Cuba’s doctors abroad program has earned praise from the World Health Organization for responding to the Ebola outbreak in Africa and to natural disasters such as Haiti’s 2010 earthquake.

Yet its critics are fierce.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican U.S. representative born in Cuba, said the Cuban doctors worked under “modern-day indentured servitude” and that the defector program was “undermining the Castro regime by providing an outlet for Cuban doctors to seek freedom from forced labor.”

Some critics also say the Cuban government exploits medical professionals abroad by taking away most of the wages paid by foreign governments and using the funds as a source of hard currency for the island.

Alfonso said hundreds of doctors are currently stranded in Colombia, after deserting their missions in Venezuela, and many didn’t manage to apply in time.

“It’s really sad that Obama left that legacy with the Cuban community, favoring the Havana regime and crushing the hopes of a group of professionals who want to be free,” he said.

Yerenia Cedeno, a 28-year-old general practitioner, said she deserted her mission in Venezuela because of violence and meager pay that sometimes wasn’t enough to buy food.

Although she had applied for a visa before Jan. 12, she thought her chances of reaching the U.S. were slim once the program was canceled.

“I am immensely relieved because when we saw the program ended, we lost hope. Then we got the visa, and I was so happy,” Cedeno said after arriving at the Miami airport. “We can say that we were saved.”

 

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Zimbabwean Pastor and Protest Organizer Is Released on Bail


The Zimbabwean pastor has been arrested for protesting the rule of Mugabe.

Zimbabwe Pastor Evan Mawarire, who led protests last year against President Robert Mugabe’s authoritarian government, reads his Bible in handcuffs in the back of a pickup truck at the Harare Magistrates Court on February 3, 2017 in Harare. The Zimbabwean pastor who led protests last year against President Robert Mugabe’s authoritarian government was arrested at Harare airport on February 1, as he returned to the country after several months abroad. He was released on bail Wednesday, February 8. Evan Mawarire emerged as the leader of the popular #ThisFlag protest movement that quickly grew into the largest street demonstrations against Mugabe in several years.


By

Published on February 9, 2017

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — A Zimbabwean pastor arrested for organizing anti-government protests says he is happy to be out of prison after being released on bail.

Evan Mawarire also said after his release Thursday that he is looking forward to some rest and time with his family.

Mawarire, who launched a protest movement on social media called #ThisFlag, had been detained since Friday at a prison in the capital, Harare, on charges of subverting a constitutionally elected government. He faces 20 years in prison if convicted.

A judge ruled Wednesday that Mawarire does not pose a flight risk and that he should be released on $300 bail.

The pastor had returned from the United States, where he organized protests against the government of Zimbabwe’s 92-year-old leader, Robert Mugabe.

 

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Article source: https://stream.org/zimbabwean-pastor-protest-organizer-released-bail/

Military Services Detail Plans for $30 Billion Budget Boost


President Donald Trump has lunch with troops while visiting U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Monday, Feb. 6, 2017. Trump, who spent the weekend at Mar-a-Lago, stopped for a visit to the headquarters before returning to Washington.


By

Published on February 7, 2017

WASHINGTON (AP) — Buoyed by President Donald Trump’s pledge to rebuild the U.S. armed forces, senior Pentagon officials have delivered to Congress plans for increasing the defense budget by more than $30 billion to acquire new jet fighters, armored vehicles, improved training and more.

The informal proposals, obtained by The Associated Press, represent the first attempt by Trump’s Defense Department to halt an erosion of the military’s readiness for combat. The shortfalls outlined in the documents may provide Trump and the Republican-led Congress with a powerful incentive to strike the strict limits on military spending mandated by a 2011 budget control law.

Portions of the plans will likely be included in the formal supplemental budget for 2017 that the Trump administration is sending to Capitol Hill soon.

Top defense officials are scheduled to testify Tuesday before the House Armed Services Committee on the state of the military. They’re expected to address how the fiscal caps — known as sequestration — have pushed the armed forces to a breaking point by locking them into budgets too small to address heavy demands.

Appearing before the committee will be Gen. Daniel Allyn, Army vice chief of staff; Gen. Stephen Wilson, Air Force vice chief of staff; Adm. William Moran, vice chief of naval operations; and Gen. Glenn Walters, assistant commandant of the Marine Corps.

The Marine Corps, arguing for $4.2 billion boost in its 2017 budget, warned that the “nation’s force in readiness” will have to continue shifting money intended for new weapons to pay current bills.

“As near-peer competitors probe the limits of American retrenchment and the operational environment grows more complex, the Marine Corps of today is largely optimized for the past and sacrificing modernization to sustain current readiness,” the service’s budget amendment reads.

The Navy’s request totals $12 billion in additional spending and asks for 24 F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighters, one San Antonio-class amphibious landing dock ship, and dozens more Sidewinder missiles.

Without more money, the 2017 fiscal year — which ends Sept. 30 — “is projected to have a significant shortfall in afloat readiness,” according to the Navy document.

The Army is seeking a $8.2 billion “modernization uplift” for a force of 476,000 active-duty soldiers, which is the troop floor mandated by Congress. Nearly $2.2 billion of the total would be spent on new CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift and Apache attack helicopters and 12 Grey Eagle surveillance drones. Another $400 million would go to strengthen soldier training.

The Air Force plan outlines $6.2 billion in “unfunded priorities.” including money for five additional F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. The service also wants $225 million to maintain an active-duty force of 322,000 airmen.

Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said Monday there is widespread agreement on Capitol Hill that sequestration needs to be eliminated. He said there is an overwhelming view that defense spending has been cut too much and added that more of the broader federal budget is under scrutiny than before.

“I think we have a great opportunity to do the right thing for the country,” Thornberry told reporters. “I’m pretty optimistic that it will actually happen.”

___

Follow Richard Lardner on Twitter: http://twitter.com/rplardner

 

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