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Trump Rejected Original Letter on Iran Deal, Told State to Make it Tougher


President Donald Trump speaks at the Interior Department in Washington, Wednesday, April 26, 2017.


By

Published on April 26, 2017

President Donald Trump put his own stamp on a Department of State letter to Congress about the Iran nuclear deal, ordering a more hawkish rewrite of the first draft written by career diplomats and Obama administration holdovers.

Trump personally intervened because he thought the original version was too accommodating and ignored the Islamic Republic’s sponsorship of terrorist groups, White House officials told the Wall Street Journal.

The letter, sent April 18th by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to House Speaker Paul Ryan, announced an inter-agency review to determine if the U.S. should continue easing sanctions against Iran.

“Iran remains a leading state sponsor of terror, through many platforms and methods,” Tillerson wrote. “President Donald J. Trump has directed a National Security Council-led inter-agency review of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that will evaluate whether suspension of sanctions related to Iran pursuant to the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] is vital to the national security interests of the United States.”

Career diplomats and Obama political appointees wrote the initial version of the letter, White House sources told the WSJ. The key State Department contributors included Stephen Mull, a career foreign service officer and the U.S. coordinator for JCPOA implementation, and Chris Backemeyer, who worked at the Obama White House before his appointment as deputy assistant secretary of state for Iranian affairs.

National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster wanted the first draft to have tougher language and asked Chief of Staff Reince Priebus to bring the matter to Trump’s attention, White House officials said. The president reviewed the letter and settled on a version that emphasized Iran’s role in supporting international terrorism and called for a re-evaluation of sanctions policy.

Trump also ordered Tillerson to publicly announce the policy shift, which he did the following day at a press conference.

The U.S., Iran and other major powers signed the JCPOA in 2016. The agreement restricts Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from international energy and financial sanctions.

Trump’s national security team has urged a firmer hand with Tehran and made renegotiation of the JCPOA a potential option for containing Iranian ambitions in the Middle East.

Trump has made no secret of his disdain for the agreement, calling it “the worst deal ever negotiated” during the campaign.

 

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Send tips to will@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

Copyright 2017 Daily Caller News Foundation






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Article source: https://stream.org/trump-rejected-original-letter-iran-deal-told-state-make-tougher/

Military Photo of the Day: Cleaning the Canopy of an F-15C Eagle



By Tom Sileo

Published on April 27, 2017

A U.S. Air Force crew chief cleans the canopy of an F-15C Eagle aircraft at Leeuwarden Air Base in The Netherlands on March 28, 2017.

Thank you to this airman for serving our nation overseas!






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Article source: https://stream.org/military-photo-of-the-day-april-27-2017/

South Korea, Allies Brace for North Korea Follow-up Act

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea marks the founding anniversary of its military on Tuesday, and South Korea and its allies are bracing for the possibility that it could conduct another nuclear test or launch an intercontinental ballistic missile for the first time.

North Korea often marks significant dates by displaying its military capability. It so far has carried out five nuclear tests.

Such a move could test the developing North Korea policies of U.S. President Donald Trump, who has reportedly settled on a strategy that emphasizes increased pressure on North Korea with the help of China, the North’s only major ally, instead of military options or trying to overthrow North Korea’s government.

Trump spoke by phone with both the Japanese and Chinese leaders Monday. Chinese state broadcaster CCTV quoted President Xi Jinping as telling Trump that China strongly opposes North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and hopes “all parties will exercise restraint and avoid aggravating the situation.”

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Trump agreed to urge North Korea to refrain from what Abe called provocative actions. “The North Korean nuclear and missile problem is an extremely serious security threat to not only the international community but also our country,” the Japanese leader told reporters in Tokyo afterward.

Recent U.S. commercial satellite images indicate increased activity around North Korea’s nuclear test site, and third-generation dictator Kim Jong Un has said the country’s preparation for an ICBM launch is in its “final stage.”

South Korea’s Defense Ministry has said North Korea appears ready to conduct such “strategic provocations” at any time. South Korean Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, the country’s acting leader in place of ousted President Park Geun-hye, who has been arrested over corruption allegations, has instructed his military to strengthen its “immediate response posture” in case North Korea does something significant on Tuesday’s anniversary.

There is also a possibility that North Korea, facing potential changes in regional dynamics as Washington presses Beijing to pressure North Korea more aggressively, opts to mark the anniversary with a missile launch of lesser magnitude. North Korea separately fired what U.S. officials said were a Scud-type missile and a midrange missile earlier this month, but the launches were analyzed as failures.

While the U.S. has dispatched what Trump called an “armada” of ships to the region, including an aircraft carrier, U.S. officials have told The Associated Press that the administration doesn’t intend to militarily respond to a North Korean nuclear or missile test. South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported Monday that South Korean naval ships will conduct a training exercise with the aircraft carrier, the USS Carl Vinson.

In a statement released late Friday, North Korea’s Foreign Ministry accused Trump of driving the region into an “extremely dangerous phase” with the dispatch of the aircraft carrier and said the North was ready to stand up against any threat posed by the United States.

With typical rhetorical flourish, the ministry said North Korea “will react to a total war with an all-out war, a nuclear war with nuclear strikes of its own style and surely win a victory in the death-defying struggle against the U.S. imperialists.”

Adding to the tensions, North Korea detained a U.S. citizen on Saturday, bringing the number of Americans being held there to three. The reasons for the detention of Tony Kim, who taught accounting at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, weren’t immediately clear.

Under Kim’s leadership, North Korea has been aggressively pursuing a decades-long goal of putting a nuclear warhead on an ICBM capable of reaching the U.S. mainland.

Last year, North Korea conducted two nuclear tests, which would have improved its knowledge in making nuclear weapons small enough to fit on long-range missiles. It also launched a long-range rocket last year that delivered a satellite into orbit, which Washington, Seoul and others saw as a banned test of missile technology.

On April 15, North Korea offered a look at its advancing nuclear weapon and missile programs in a massive military parade in Pyongyang honoring late state founder Kim Il Sung, the grandfather of the current ruler.

The displayed military hardware included prototype ICBMs and new midrange solid-fuel missiles that can be fired from land mobile launchers and submarines, making them harder to detect before launch.

The parade also featured previously unseen large rocket canisters and transporter erector launcher trucks, or TELs. This indicated that North Korea is developing technologies to “cold-launch” ICBMs, ejecting them from the launch tubes before they ignite in midair, which would prevent its limited number of ICBM-capable launcher trucks from being damaged and also allow the missiles to be fired from silos.

Analysts say North Korea is also likely developing solid-fuel ICBMs, and that some of the canisters might have contained prototypes.

North Korea had earlier shown signs it was working on a new ICBM.

In March, North Korean state media reported that the country successfully conducted a ground test of a new high-thrust rocket engine, which it said was a breakthrough for its space program and efforts to create “Korean-style strategic weapons.” Kim was quoted as saying “the whole world will soon witness what eventful significance the great victory won today carries.”

While North Korea almost certainly needs more time to create a solid-fuel ICBM, test launches for its existing liquid-fuel ICBMs, including KN-08s and KN-14s, could come much sooner.

Experts say these missiles could one day be capable of hitting targets as far as the continental United States, although North Korea has yet to flight test them.

Article source: https://stream.org/south-korea-allies-brace-north-korea-follow-act/

The First 100 Days to Securing America

President Donald Trump is nearing his 100th day in office. Unlike his predecessor, President Trump doesn’t spend much time on the golf course. He’s busy issuing executive orders and appointing strong conservatives. He’s busy bombing Islamist terrorists and safeguarding our borders.

Some of the president’s critics didn’t think he’d make it through the first 100 days. They imagined they could drive him away using the violent tactics that work so well to shut down debate on college campuses.

Others on the Left figured the courts would do their dirty work. Activist judges would issue a few rulings blocking his plans and he’d give up.

The Clinton crowd hoped their GOP counterparts, those more interested in making nice than fighting for the people, would kill Trump’s plans. Torpedo a bill or two and force the president to go “bipartisan.”

But President Trump proved that he’s made of sterner stuff. He’s made it clear he will not retreat from the principles that got him elected.

Keeping His Promises

His high-profile accomplishments are obvious enough. He nominated one of the best legal minds in years to the Supreme Court. Justice Neil Gorsuch is now deciding cases along with his colleagues.

Illegal immigrants are being sent home. Despite staunch opposition, he’s pressing forward to stop terrorists from entering our country. He appointed market-oriented deregulators to handle health care and environmental policy. Energy production again is a national priority, highlighted by approval of the Keystone Pipeline.

President Trump presented a plan to rebuild national defense while cutting nonessential spending. The Left is horrified at having to defend the herds of sacred cows that graze throughout Washington.

For the first time in eight years we have as the nation’s top legal official someone who respects the Constitution and the rule of law, thanks to President Trump.

On foreign policy, the president increased efforts to defeat ISIS and contain Iran. He challenged China over its support for North Korea. He reaffirmed America’s support for its Asian and European allies. And he brought home an American couple illegally imprisoned in Egypt for the last three years.

Yet some of his most important accomplishments have received far less attention.

AG Sessions: The Rule of Law Returns

Consider his appointment of Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. For the first time in eight years we have as the nation’s top legal official someone who respects the Constitution and the rule of law.

AG Sessions believes that the people’s elected representatives should make laws. Not unelected officials. And he’s determined to infuse this philosophy throughout other departments of government. In contrast, the Left believes legal and judicial interpretation can to make up for bad legislative decisions.

As noted earlier, the first Supreme Court nomination was a home run. Gorsuch is principled, qualified, and prepared. There likely will be more to come, as well as scores of appointments to the lower federal courts, which decide most cases.

Within the Justice Department the AG is appointing people similarly committed to enforcing the law. He isn’t appointing those who electively uphold or ignore rules depending upon what they say or who they affect. AG Sessions supports existing immigration law. People in America illegally should be deported. “Sanctuary cities” shouldn’t be able to thwart law enforcement while collecting federal cash. He’s prepared to cut off funding to those jurisdictions which now let criminals go free because they are here illegally.

The attorney general also believes that federal drug laws must be enforced. States are free to change their statutes. But that does not relieve the national authorities of their responsibility to uphold the law.

Under AG Sessions the Justice Department is ending frivolous and burdensome lawsuits, such as over who can use which bathroom. Some issues don’t belong in court. They should be decided by people of good will with concern for the interests of everyone, not just a chosen few.

Electoral Integrity

Even more important, AG Sessions is committed to ensuring the integrity of America’s electoral system. In this he clearly reflects the president’s interest. Although we can’t say for sure how many votes were cast illegally in 2016, we need to strive to have no illegal votes cast in the future.

Democracy requires protecting the honesty of the vote. And preventing those who are not eligible from voting. Illegal ballots negate the political voice of citizens.

The administration has elevated the safety and integrity of our electoral system to include a commission headed by Vice President Mike Pence. Across the nation voter rolls bulge with the names of people who have moved away, the dead, noncitizens and felons. Each ineligible name provides an opportunity for a fraudulent vote to be cast.

The previous Justice Department blocked states from safeguarding their ballot boxes. Its actions exposed an agenda to encourage illegal voting. The Democrats obviously know who their friends are.

A few months ago, the usual pundits said a Trump presidency was impossible. But voters had a different idea. Now we have a president who is leading from the front and delivering strong, practical, and conservative government that serves all of us.

 

Ken Blackwell serves on the Policy Board of the American Civil Rights Union and is a Senior Fellow at the Family Research Council. He served as a Domestic Policy Adviser to the Trump Transition Team.

Article source: https://stream.org/first-100-days-securing-america/

March for Science a Dud

I am pleased to report the asinine March “for” “Science” has been a dud.

Organizers lit the fuse of what they thought was going to be an enormous stick of dynamite. Wait until you hear the boom, honey! But what they got was tiny pop from a damp ladyfinger.

Pop. No exclamation mark.

The Independent quoted some guy called Peter Lipke, who said, “I’m a science professor.” This prepped the reader, signalling some solid science was on its way. Lipke continued, “The current administration has shown complete disregard for facts and the truth.”

Now, scientifically, this is a dumb statement, because, of course, it is false. It’s not only false, it’s petulant fantasy. President Trump has only been in office a short while, and it’s not like he’s taken to television and said, “My fellow Americans. E equals M C-squared is inefficient. I propose to Make America Great Again with C-cubed.”

Everybody had exactly the same thoughts on everything. It’s science!

The most the perpetually “outraged” have on him is that his administration removed the global warming propaganda from the White House website. Big deal. Yet it was that “momentous” event that triggered the easily triggered into staging the March.

The insufferable and ever-smug Vox began its “explanation” of the March with a picture of a kid, maybe eight or so, holding the sign, “Climate change is real”.

As (ahem) I explained before, there isn’t anybody outside the walls of any medical institution that doesn’t believe that. So this poor young man could just as well held up a sign which read, “Ice is colder than steam.”

I bet he would have received a special award for that.

That’s a real problem. The tasks and decisions ahead of us are far too important to be left to scientists.

In the same Vox picture, a plain-looking woman is holding the sign, “Your global warming can’t melt this Snowflake.”

She’s right, you know. Given global-warming-of-doom has failed to materialize as predicted (over and over and over again), very few snowflakes are being melted.

Vox never disappoints. They checked the “fatuous” box by quoting a sociologist who “studies protest movements”, and she said — are you ready for more science? — “Protest is also an opportunity to create what we call ‘collective identity.’”

Who knew? I mean, who knew scientists were so smart?

That’s a real problem. The tasks and decisions ahead of us are far too important to be left to scientists. A scientist will tell you on Tuesday that, “David Hume teaches us that ought cannot be derived from is“, meaning the moral and ethical consequences of any decision do not follow from any fact, such as what the temperature outside is.

But then on Thursday, this selfsame scientist will screech in your ear “Climate change is real!” as if it is obvious what moral and ethical decisions we must make because of that fact.

Whether the scientist is right about Hume, her statement proves the real problem we’re facing is not one of science, but of philosophy (and religion). Science is tiddlywinks next to the metaphysical dilemmas gripping the West. But never mind. That subject is too much for us today.

Time magazine kindly supplied a video of high-pitched, ear-grating woo-wooing protesters (I still say the DOD was wrong to reject my proposal to weaponize the progressive female protester voice). One guy held the sign, “Climate change cannot be undone by tweeting.” But it can be by holding up an idiotic sign?

A white lady, with what looked like tape across her mouth (it could have been a pacifier), held up the science sign, “White supremacists have melanin envy.” Dude, loosen the tape and have something to eat. Your synapses are running low on glucose.

In one of the satellite marches in Los Angeles, a good handful of people showed up, one carrying the sign, “Make wind, not warming.” Flatulence jokes in a science march? Where’s the respect?

In London, another sign: “Wake Up World! *Can’t eat money *Can’t drink oil. SCIENCE for a sustainable society.” This is true and scientific. But you can use money to buy oil and use it to farm lots and lots of food. And there is nothing more sustainable than well-fed people.

Australia. “I create knowledge. What’s your superpower”. Sarcasm.

Slate has a page devoted to March signs. They do not disappoint. One read, “Knowing Stuff is good. Seriously why do I even have to march for this geez”. Should I tell him or will you?

One (perhaps prescient) lady tweeted “#TheFutureisFemale” and showed the sign “Women and the Earth have to tolerate a lot.” I wept in pity when I read that bit of science.

The Chicago Tribune tweeted the headline, “‘There is no Planet B!’ cried a 6-year-old girl during March for Science Chicago”. I cried too (the March has made me especially lachrymose), because this poor 6-year-old girl is wrong. Not only is there a planet B, but there is a C, D, … Why, there are nearly 4,000 other planets we know about!

Pagans were out in force. One lady held the sign, “I [heart] Biomimicry, Mother [earth] knows best.” In a freak coincidence, right next to her was another lady with the sign, “Mother knows best. Listen to her. #Biomimicry.”

These were the truest signs of the day. Nothing but mimicry as far as the eye could see. Everybody had exactly the same thoughts on everything. It’s science!

Update

Nye angry. Nye no like people not love science. Arrugah!

Will somebody get this man a cookie?

Article source: https://stream.org/march-science-dud/

Military Photo of the Day: Night Fighter Congratulated



By Shannon Henderson

Published on April 23, 2017

Yontan Airfield, Okinawa, April 23, 1945: Marine First Lieutenant Herbert Groff, a night fighter pilot in Marine Aircraft Group 31, receives congratulations from CBS war correspondent Tim Leimert for shooting down a Jap twin-engine bomber while on midnight combat patrol from Yontan Airfield on Okinawa. The picture was made in front of the Okinawa Press Club which is operated by public relations personnel of Marine Aircraft Group 31 commanded by Colonel John C. Mull, of Prescott, Ark.






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Article source: https://stream.org/military-photo-day-april-23-2017/

Death Penalty Opponents are Being Dishonest in Their Arguments

The debate over the death penalty can be infuriatingly dishonest.

Consider the April 17 broadcast of Fox News Channel’s Special Report with Bret Baier (a show on which I am an occasional commentator).

Casey Stegall reported on the legal battle in Arkansas, where officials want to execute eight death row inmates in 11 days before their supply of midazolam expires. This is one of the drugs used to carry out lethal injections.

Stegall did his legwork. He talked to Susan Khani, the daughter of the woman murdered, execution-style, by Don Davis in 1990. She told Stegall the last quarter century has been agony for her, adding, “He is just a very cruel person. He needs to be put to death.”

The Arguments of the Opponents of the Death Penalty

Stegall then talked to the usual death penalty opponents. First was Robert Dunham of the Death Penalty Information Center, who said, “There is a myth that family members of murder victims will get closure out of executions. In fact, for many of the family members, that does not happen.”

So let’s start there. To say that something is a “myth” is to suggest that it is untrue. The Loch Ness Monster is a myth. Bigfoot is a myth. But on Dunham’s own terms, some family members do get closure. He didn’t say, “No family members of murder victims get closure.” He said “many,” a subjective term that could mean pretty much any number short of “most.”

Stegall then talked to Stacy Anderson of the American Civil Liberties Union, which is concerned that we might execute the wrong person. “We know that 156 innocent people have been found on death row in the last 20 years,” she said.

Added Stegall: “The ACLU says cost is another driving force of the decline. Litigating death penalty cases is expensive since the condemned often spend years filing appeals and lawsuits.”

This is also true. But you know what group is arguably most responsible for raising the cost of the death penalty? The American Civil Liberties Union.

The ACLU is well within its rights to clog the courts with lawsuits. But there’s something remarkably cynical about barraging the courts with often frivolous complaints that raise the costs of the death penalty, then pretending that your objection is the cost.

Indeed, Arkansas is racing to use its drugs before they expire because death penalty opponents have worked tirelessly to make such drugs extremely difficult to obtain.

The same cynicism applies to concerns about innocent people being wrongly executed. I’m in favor of the death penalty. You know what? I’m also passionately opposed to executing the wrong person.

But Don Davis eventually admitted to murdering Jane Daniels in cold blood after breaking into her home, so objections that some other death row inmate might be innocent have no bearing on his case.

Ironically, immediately after Stegall’s report, anchor Bret Baier announced: “A massive manhunt is underway at this hour for a suspect who police say engaged in a heinous public crime that can truly be called a sign of the times.”

The Facebook Killer

The suspect was Steve Stephens, the so-called “Facebook Killer,” who video-recorded himself admitting that he was about to murder someone randomly. He then got out of his car, walked up to 74-year-old Robert Godwin, a father of 10 and grandfather of 14, and casually executed him. Stephens then posted the video on Facebook.

Stephens killed himself two days later. But say he hadn’t. Obviously, he would have gotten a trial. Let’s suppose he was found guilty and got the death penalty. We would still be subjected to all of the sleight-of-hand rhetoric about the risk of executing innocent people, the costs, etc., even though there would be zero doubt in this instance.

We’d probably also hear that the death penalty is “racist” — Stevens was black — despite the fact that Stevens’ victim was black as well. Meanwhile, Don Davis is white.

It is entirely legitimate and honorable to oppose the death penalty on principle. The problem is that this is a constitutionally ridiculous position given that the plain text of the Constitution itself allows for the death penalty in several places.

Acolytes of the “living Constitution” want to believe that nothing bad (as defined by them) can be constitutional. I don’t think the death penalty is bad, but if you want to get rid of it, amend the Constitution. Otherwise, opponents should stop pretending their real objection is something else.

 

Jonah Goldberg is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a senior editor of National Review. You can write to him by e-mail at goldbergcolumn@gmail.com, or via Twitter @JonahNRO.

(C) 2017 TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC

Article source: https://stream.org/death-penalty-opponents-dishonest-arguments/

Military Photo of the Day: Blue Angels Fly Over Disney World



By Tom Sileo

Published on April 21, 2017

U.S. Navy Blue Angels fighter jets fly over Cinderella’s castle at Walt Disney World on April 6, 2017, in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

Wow. Have a magical weekend, everyone!






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Article source: https://stream.org/military-photo-of-the-day-april-21-2017/

Military Photo of the Day: Ready at a Moment’s Notice



By Tom Sileo

Published on April 19, 2017

Fully armed aircraft from the U.S. Air Force conduct a “no-notice” exercise on April 12, 2017, at Kadena Air Base in Japan.

Thank you to our heroes for serving our country overseas.






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Article source: https://stream.org/military-photo-of-the-day-april-19-2017/

Military Photo of the Day: Ready at a Moment’s Notice



By Tom Sileo

Published on April 19, 2017

Fully armed aircraft from the U.S. Air Force conduct a “no-notice” exercise on April 12, 2017, at Kadena Air Base in Japan.

Thank you to our heroes for serving our country overseas.






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Article source: https://stream.org/military-photo-of-the-day-april-19-2017/

Politics Disguised as Science: When to Doubt a Scientific ‘Consensus’

This week’s March for Science is odd. Marches are usually held to defend something that’s in peril. Does anyone really think big science is in danger? The mere fact that the March was scheduled for Earth Day betrays what the event is really about: politics. The organizers admitted as much early on, though they’re now busy trying to cover the event in sciencey camouflage.

If past is prologue, expect to hear a lot about the supposed “consensus” on catastrophic climate change this week. The purpose of this claim is to shut up skeptical non-scientists.

How should non-scientists respond when told about this consensus? We can’t all study climate science. But since politics often masquerades as science, we need a way to tell one from the other.

“Consensus,” according to Merriam-Webster, means both “general agreement” and “group solidarity in sentiment and belief.” That sums up the problem. Is this consensus based on solid evidence and sound logic, or social pressure and groupthink?

When can you doubt a consensus? Your best bet is to look at the process that produced, defends and transmits the supposed consensus.

Anyone who has studied the history of science knows that scientists are prone to herd instincts. Many false ideas once enjoyed consensus. Indeed, the “power of the paradigm” often blinds scientists to alternatives to their view. Question the paradigm, and some respond with anger.

We shouldn’t, of course, forget the other side of the coin. There are cranks and conspiracy theorists. No matter how well founded a scientific consensus, there’s someone who thinks it’s all hokum. Sometimes these folks turn out to be right. But often, they’re just cranks whose counsel is best ignored.

So how do we distinguish, as Andrew Coyne puts it, “between genuine authority and mere received wisdom? And how do we tell crankish imperviousness to evidence from legitimate skepticism?” Do we have to trust whatever we’re told is based on a scientific consensus unless we can study the science ourselves? When can you doubt a consensus? When should you doubt it?

Your best bet is to look at the process that produced, defends and transmits the supposed consensus. I don’t know of any complete list of signs of suspicion. But here’s a checklist to decide when you can, even should, doubt a scientific “consensus,” whatever the subject. One of these signs may be enough to give pause. If they start to pile up, then it’s wise to be leery.

(1) When different claims get bundled together

Usually, in scientific disputes, there’s more than one claim at issue. With global warming, there’s the claim that our planet, on average, is getting warmer. There’s also the claim that we are the main cause of it, that it’s going to be catastrophic, and that we must transform civilization to deal with it. These are all different claims based on different evidence.

Evidence for warming, for instance, isn’t evidence for the cause of that warming. All the polar bears could drown, the glaciers melt, the sea levels rise 20 feet and Newfoundland become a popular place to tan: That wouldn’t tell us a thing about what caused the warming. This is a matter of logic, not scientific evidence. The effect is not the same as the cause.

There’s a lot more agreement about (1) a modest warming trend since about 1850 than there is about (2) the cause of that trend. There’s even less agreement about (3) the dangers of that trend, or of (4) what to do about it. But these four claims are often bundled together. So, if you doubt one, you’re labeled a climate change “skeptic” or “denier.” That’s dishonest. When well-established claims are tied with other, more controversial claims, and the entire bundle is labeled “consensus,” you have reason for doubt.

(2) When ad hominem attacks against dissenters predominate

Personal attacks are common in any dispute. It’s easier to insult than to the follow the thread of an argument. And just because someone makes an ad hominem argument, it doesn’t mean that their conclusion is wrong. But when the personal attacks are the first out of the gate, don your skeptic’s cap and look more closely at the data.

When it comes to climate change, ad hominems are everywhere. They’re even smuggled into the way the debate is described. The common label “denier” is one example. This label is supposed to call to mind the charge of columnist Ellen Goodman: “I would like to say we’re at a point where global warming is impossible to deny. Let’s just say that global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers.”

There’s an old legal proverb: If you have the facts on your side, argue the facts. If you have the law on your side, argue the law. If you have neither, attack the witness. When proponents of a scientific consensus lead with an attack on the witness, rather than on the arguments and evidence, be suspicious.

(3) When scientists are pressured to toe the party line

The famous Lysenko affair in the former Soviet Union is example of politics trumping good science. But it’s not the only way politics can override science. There’s also a conspiracy of agreement, in which assumptions and interests combine to give the appearance of objectivity where none exists. This is even more forceful than a literal conspiracy enforced by a dictator. Why? Because it looks like the agreement reflects a fair and independent weighing of the evidence.

Tenure, job promotions, government grants, media accolades, social respectability, Wikipedia entries, and vanity can do what gulags do, only more subtly. Alexis de Tocqueville warned of this almost two centuries ago. The power of the majority in American society, he wrote, could erect “formidable barriers around the liberty of opinion; within these barriers an author may write what he pleases, but woe to him if he goes beyond them.” He could have been writing about climate science.

Indeed, the quickest way for scientists to put their careers at risk is to raise even modest questions about climate doom (see here, here and here). Scientists are under pressure to toe the party line on climate change and receive many benefits for doing so. That’s another reason for suspicion.

(4) When publishing and peer review in the discipline is cliquish

Though it has its limits, the peer-review process is meant to provide checks and balances. At its best, it helps weed out bad and misleading work, and make scientific research more objective. But when the same few people review and approve each other’s work, you get conflicts of interest. This weakens the case for the supposed consensus. It becomes, instead, another reason for doubt. Those who follow the climate debate have known for years about the cliquish nature of publishing and peer review in climate science (see here for example).

(5) When dissenters are excluded from the peer-reviewed journals not because of weak evidence or bad arguments but to marginalize them.

Besides mere cliquishness, the “peer review” process in climate science has, in some cases, been subverted to prevent dissenters from being published. Again, those who follow the debate have known about these problems for years. But the Climategate debacle in 2009 revealed some of the gory details for the broader public. And again, this gives the lay public a reason to doubt the consensus.

(6) When the actual peer-reviewed literature is misrepresented

We’ve been told for years that the peer-reviewed literature is unanimous in its support for human-induced climate change. In Science, Naomi Oreskes even produced a “study” of the literature supposedly showing “The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change.”

In fact, there are plenty of dissenting papers in the literature. This is despite mounting evidence that the peer-review deck was stacked against them. The 2009 Climategate scandal underscored this: The climate scientists at the center of the controversycomplained in their emails about dissenting papers that survived the peer-review booby traps they put in place. They even fantasized about torpedoing a climate science journal that dared to publish a dissenting article.

(7) When consensus is declared before it even exists

A well-rooted scientific consensus, like a mature oak, needs time to grow. Scientists have to do research, publish articles, read about other research, and repeat experiments (where possible). They need to reveal their data and methods, have open debates, evaluate arguments, look at the trends, and so forth, before they can come to agreement. When scientists rush to declare a consensus — when they claim a consensus that has yet to form — this should give everyone pause.

In 1992, former Vice President Al Gore reassured his listeners, “Only an insignificant fraction of scientists deny the global warming crisis. The time for debate is over. The science is settled.” In the real 1992, however, Gallup “reported that 53% of scientists actively involved in global climate research did not believe global warming had occurred; 30% weren’t sure; and only 17% believed global warming had begun. Even a Greenpeace poll showed 47% of climatologists didn’t think a runaway greenhouse effect was imminent; only 36% thought it possible and a mere 13% thought it probable.”

Seventeen years later, in 2009, Gore revised his own fake history. He claimed that the debate over human-induced climate change had raged until as late as 1999, but now there was true consensus. Of course, 2009 is when Climategate broke, reminding us that what had smelled funny was indeed rotten.

(8) When the subject matter seems, by its nature, to resist consensus

It makes sense that chemists over time may come to agree about the results of some chemical reaction, since they can repeat the results over and over in their own labs. They’re easy to test. But much of climate science is not like that. The evidence is scattered and hard to track. It’s often indirect, imbedded in history and laden with theory. You can’t rerun past climate to test it. And the headline-grabbing claims of climate scientists are based on complex computer models that don’t match reality. These models get their input, not from the data, but from the scientists who interpret the data. This isn’t the sort of evidence that can provide the basis for a well-founded consensus. In fact, if there really were a consensus on the many claims around climate science, that would be suspicious. Thus, the claim of consensus is a bit suspect as well.

(9) When “scientists say” or “science says” is a common locution

In Newsweek’s April 28, 1975, issue, science editor Peter Gwynne claimed that “scientists are almost unanimous” that global cooling was underway. Now we are told, “Scientists say global warming will lead to the extinction of plant and animal species, the flooding of coastal areas from rising seas, more extreme weather, more drought and diseases spreading more widely.” “Scientists say” is ambiguous. You should wonder: “Which ones?”

Other times this vague company of scientists becomes “SCIENCE.” As when we’re told “what science says is required to avoid catastrophic climate change.” “Science says” is an weasely claim. “Science,” after all, is an abstract noun. It can’t speak. Whenever you see these phrases used to imply a consensus, it should trigger your baloney detector.

(10) When it is being used to justify dramatic political or economic policies

Imagine hundreds of world leaders and NGOS, science groups, and UN functionaries gathered for a meeting. It’s heralded as the most important conference since World War II, in which “the future of the world is being decided.” These officials seem to agree that institutions of “global governance” need to be set up to reorder the world economy and restrict energy use. Large numbers of them applaud wildly when socialist dictators denounce capitalism. Strange activism surrounds the gathering. And we are told by our president that all of this is based, not on fiction, but on science — that is, a scientific consensus that our greenhouse gas emissions are leading to climate catastrophe.

We don’t have to imagine that scenario, of course. It happened at the UN climate meeting in Copenhagen, in December 2009. It happened again in Paris, in December 2015. Expect something at least as zany at the March for Science.

Now, none of this disproves climate doom. But it does describe a setting in which truth need not appear. And at the least, when policy effects are so profound, the evidence should be rock solid. “Extraordinary claims,” the late Carl Sagan often said, “require extraordinary evidence.” When the megaphones of consensus insist that there’s no time, that we have to move, MOVE, MOVE!, you have a right to be wary.

(11) When the “consensus” is maintained by an army of water-carrying journalists who defend it with partisan zeal, and seem intent on helping certain scientists with their messaging rather than reporting on the field as fairly as possible

Do I really need to elaborate on this point?

(12) When we keep being told that there’s a scientific consensus

A consensus should be based on solid evidence. But a consensus is not itself the evidence. And with well-established scientific theories, you never hear about consensus. No one talks about the consensus that the planets orbit the sun, that the hydrogen molecule is lighter than the oxygen molecule, that salt is sodium chloride, that bacteria sometimes cause illness, or that blood carries oxygen to our organs. The very fact that we hear so much about a consensus on climate change may be enough to justify suspicion.

To adapt that old legal rule, when you’ve got solid scientific evidence on your side, you argue the evidence. When you’ve got great arguments, you make the arguments. When you don’t have solid evidence or great arguments, you claim consensus.

Adapted from THE AMERICAN. This piece has been updated since its original publication.

 

Jay W. Richards is Executive Editor of The Stream. Follow him on Twitter.

Article source: https://stream.org/doubt-scientific-consensus/

Politics Disguised as Science: When to Doubt a Scientific ‘Consensus’

This week’s March for Science is odd. Marches are usually held to defend something that’s in peril. Does anyone really think big science is in danger? The mere fact that the March was scheduled for Earth Day betrays what the event is really about: politics. The organizers admitted as much early on, though they’re now busy trying to cover the event in sciencey camouflage.

If past is prologue, expect to hear a lot about the supposed “consensus” on catastrophic climate change this week. The purpose of this claim is to shut up skeptical non-scientists.

How should non-scientists respond when told about this consensus? We can’t all study climate science. But since politics often masquerades as science, we need a way to tell one from the other.

“Consensus,” according to Merriam-Webster, means both “general agreement” and “group solidarity in sentiment and belief.” That sums up the problem. Is this consensus based on solid evidence and sound logic, or social pressure and groupthink?

When can you doubt a consensus? Your best bet is to look at the process that produced, defends and transmits the supposed consensus.

Anyone who has studied the history of science knows that scientists are prone to herd instincts. Many false ideas once enjoyed consensus. Indeed, the “power of the paradigm” often blinds scientists to alternatives to their view. Question the paradigm, and some respond with anger.

We shouldn’t, of course, forget the other side of the coin. There are cranks and conspiracy theorists. No matter how well founded a scientific consensus, there’s someone who thinks it’s all hokum. Sometimes these folks turn out to be right. But often, they’re just cranks whose counsel is best ignored.

So how do we distinguish, as Andrew Coyne puts it, “between genuine authority and mere received wisdom? And how do we tell crankish imperviousness to evidence from legitimate skepticism?” Do we have to trust whatever we’re told is based on a scientific consensus unless we can study the science ourselves? When can you doubt a consensus? When should you doubt it?

Your best bet is to look at the process that produced, defends and transmits the supposed consensus. I don’t know of any complete list of signs of suspicion. But here’s a checklist to decide when you can, even should, doubt a scientific “consensus,” whatever the subject. One of these signs may be enough to give pause. If they start to pile up, then it’s wise to be leery.

(1) When different claims get bundled together

Usually, in scientific disputes, there’s more than one claim at issue. With global warming, there’s the claim that our planet, on average, is getting warmer. There’s also the claim that we are the main cause of it, that it’s going to be catastrophic, and that we must transform civilization to deal with it. These are all different claims based on different evidence.

Evidence for warming, for instance, isn’t evidence for the cause of that warming. All the polar bears could drown, the glaciers melt, the sea levels rise 20 feet and Newfoundland become a popular place to tan: That wouldn’t tell us a thing about what caused the warming. This is a matter of logic, not scientific evidence. The effect is not the same as the cause.

There’s a lot more agreement about (1) a modest warming trend since about 1850 than there is about (2) the cause of that trend. There’s even less agreement about (3) the dangers of that trend, or of (4) what to do about it. But these four claims are often bundled together. So, if you doubt one, you’re labeled a climate change “skeptic” or “denier.” That’s dishonest. When well-established claims are tied with other, more controversial claims, and the entire bundle is labeled “consensus,” you have reason for doubt.

(2) When ad hominem attacks against dissenters predominate

Personal attacks are common in any dispute. It’s easier to insult than to the follow the thread of an argument. And just because someone makes an ad hominem argument, it doesn’t mean that their conclusion is wrong. But when the personal attacks are the first out of the gate, don your skeptic’s cap and look more closely at the data.

When it comes to climate change, ad hominems are everywhere. They’re even smuggled into the way the debate is described. The common label “denier” is one example. This label is supposed to call to mind the charge of columnist Ellen Goodman: “I would like to say we’re at a point where global warming is impossible to deny. Let’s just say that global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers.”

There’s an old legal proverb: If you have the facts on your side, argue the facts. If you have the law on your side, argue the law. If you have neither, attack the witness. When proponents of a scientific consensus lead with an attack on the witness, rather than on the arguments and evidence, be suspicious.

(3) When scientists are pressured to toe the party line

The famous Lysenko affair in the former Soviet Union is example of politics trumping good science. But it’s not the only way politics can override science. There’s also a conspiracy of agreement, in which assumptions and interests combine to give the appearance of objectivity where none exists. This is even more forceful than a literal conspiracy enforced by a dictator. Why? Because it looks like the agreement reflects a fair and independent weighing of the evidence.

Tenure, job promotions, government grants, media accolades, social respectability, Wikipedia entries, and vanity can do what gulags do, only more subtly. Alexis de Tocqueville warned of this almost two centuries ago. The power of the majority in American society, he wrote, could erect “formidable barriers around the liberty of opinion; within these barriers an author may write what he pleases, but woe to him if he goes beyond them.” He could have been writing about climate science.

Indeed, the quickest way for scientists to put their careers at risk is to raise even modest questions about climate doom (see here, here and here). Scientists are under pressure to toe the party line on climate change and receive many benefits for doing so. That’s another reason for suspicion.

(4) When publishing and peer review in the discipline is cliquish

Though it has its limits, the peer-review process is meant to provide checks and balances. At its best, it helps weed out bad and misleading work, and make scientific research more objective. But when the same few people review and approve each other’s work, you get conflicts of interest. This weakens the case for the supposed consensus. It becomes, instead, another reason for doubt. Those who follow the climate debate have known for years about the cliquish nature of publishing and peer review in climate science (see here for example).

(5) When dissenters are excluded from the peer-reviewed journals not because of weak evidence or bad arguments but to marginalize them.

Besides mere cliquishness, the “peer review” process in climate science has, in some cases, been subverted to prevent dissenters from being published. Again, those who follow the debate have known about these problems for years. But the Climategate debacle in 2009 revealed some of the gory details for the broader public. And again, this gives the lay public a reason to doubt the consensus.

(6) When the actual peer-reviewed literature is misrepresented

We’ve been told for years that the peer-reviewed literature is unanimous in its support for human-induced climate change. In Science, Naomi Oreskes even produced a “study” of the literature supposedly showing “The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change.”

In fact, there are plenty of dissenting papers in the literature. This is despite mounting evidence that the peer-review deck was stacked against them. The 2009 Climategate scandal underscored this: The climate scientists at the center of the controversycomplained in their emails about dissenting papers that survived the peer-review booby traps they put in place. They even fantasized about torpedoing a climate science journal that dared to publish a dissenting article.

(7) When consensus is declared before it even exists

A well-rooted scientific consensus, like a mature oak, needs time to grow. Scientists have to do research, publish articles, read about other research, and repeat experiments (where possible). They need to reveal their data and methods, have open debates, evaluate arguments, look at the trends, and so forth, before they can come to agreement. When scientists rush to declare a consensus — when they claim a consensus that has yet to form — this should give everyone pause.

In 1992, former Vice President Al Gore reassured his listeners, “Only an insignificant fraction of scientists deny the global warming crisis. The time for debate is over. The science is settled.” In the real 1992, however, Gallup “reported that 53% of scientists actively involved in global climate research did not believe global warming had occurred; 30% weren’t sure; and only 17% believed global warming had begun. Even a Greenpeace poll showed 47% of climatologists didn’t think a runaway greenhouse effect was imminent; only 36% thought it possible and a mere 13% thought it probable.”

Seventeen years later, in 2009, Gore revised his own fake history. He claimed that the debate over human-induced climate change had raged until as late as 1999, but now there was true consensus. Of course, 2009 is when Climategate broke, reminding us that what had smelled funny was indeed rotten.

(8) When the subject matter seems, by its nature, to resist consensus

It makes sense that chemists over time may come to agree about the results of some chemical reaction, since they can repeat the results over and over in their own labs. They’re easy to test. But much of climate science is not like that. The evidence is scattered and hard to track. It’s often indirect, imbedded in history and laden with theory. You can’t rerun past climate to test it. And the headline-grabbing claims of climate scientists are based on complex computer models that don’t match reality. These models get their input, not from the data, but from the scientists who interpret the data. This isn’t the sort of evidence that can provide the basis for a well-founded consensus. In fact, if there really were a consensus on the many claims around climate science, that would be suspicious. Thus, the claim of consensus is a bit suspect as well.

(9) When “scientists say” or “science says” is a common locution

In Newsweek’s April 28, 1975, issue, science editor Peter Gwynne claimed that “scientists are almost unanimous” that global cooling was underway. Now we are told, “Scientists say global warming will lead to the extinction of plant and animal species, the flooding of coastal areas from rising seas, more extreme weather, more drought and diseases spreading more widely.” “Scientists say” is ambiguous. You should wonder: “Which ones?”

Other times this vague company of scientists becomes “SCIENCE.” As when we’re told “what science says is required to avoid catastrophic climate change.” “Science says” is an weasely claim. “Science,” after all, is an abstract noun. It can’t speak. Whenever you see these phrases used to imply a consensus, it should trigger your baloney detector.

(10) When it is being used to justify dramatic political or economic policies

Imagine hundreds of world leaders and NGOS, science groups, and UN functionaries gathered for a meeting. It’s heralded as the most important conference since World War II, in which “the future of the world is being decided.” These officials seem to agree that institutions of “global governance” need to be set up to reorder the world economy and restrict energy use. Large numbers of them applaud wildly when socialist dictators denounce capitalism. Strange activism surrounds the gathering. And we are told by our president that all of this is based, not on fiction, but on science — that is, a scientific consensus that our greenhouse gas emissions are leading to climate catastrophe.

We don’t have to imagine that scenario, of course. It happened at the UN climate meeting in Copenhagen, in December 2009. It happened again in Paris, in December 2015. Expect something at least as zany at the March for Science.

Now, none of this disproves climate doom. But it does describe a setting in which truth need not appear. And at the least, when policy effects are so profound, the evidence should be rock solid. “Extraordinary claims,” the late Carl Sagan often said, “require extraordinary evidence.” When the megaphones of consensus insist that there’s no time, that we have to move, MOVE, MOVE!, you have a right to be wary.

(11) When the “consensus” is maintained by an army of water-carrying journalists who defend it with partisan zeal, and seem intent on helping certain scientists with their messaging rather than reporting on the field as fairly as possible

Do I really need to elaborate on this point?

(12) When we keep being told that there’s a scientific consensus

A consensus should be based on solid evidence. But a consensus is not itself the evidence. And with well-established scientific theories, you never hear about consensus. No one talks about the consensus that the planets orbit the sun, that the hydrogen molecule is lighter than the oxygen molecule, that salt is sodium chloride, that bacteria sometimes cause illness, or that blood carries oxygen to our organs. The very fact that we hear so much about a consensus on climate change may be enough to justify suspicion.

To adapt that old legal rule, when you’ve got solid scientific evidence on your side, you argue the evidence. When you’ve got great arguments, you make the arguments. When you don’t have solid evidence or great arguments, you claim consensus.

Adapted from THE AMERICAN. This piece has been updated since its original publication.

 

Jay W. Richards is Executive Editor of The Stream. Follow him on Twitter.

Article source: https://stream.org/doubt-scientific-consensus/

United Changes Policy; Crew Can’t Displace Seated Passengers


This Sunday, April 9, 2017, image made from a video provided by Audra D. Bridges shows a passenger being removed from a United Airlines flight in Chicago. Video of police officers dragging the passenger from an overbooked United Airlines flight sparked a nationwide uproar last week.


By

Published on April 16, 2017

CHICAGO (AP) — United Airlines is changing a company policy and will no longer allow crew members to displace customers already onboard an airplane.

The change comes after a passenger, Dr. David Dao, was dragged from a fully-booked United Express flight in Chicago because he refused to give up his seat to make room for crew members. Cellphone video of the incident sparked widespread outrage and created a public-relations nightmare for United.

Under the change outlined in an internal April 14 email, a crew member must make must-ride bookings at least 60 minutes prior to departure. Crews could previously be booked until the time of departure.

United spokeswoman Maggie Schmerin said in an email Sunday that the change is an initial step in a review of policies and it’s meant to ensure that situations like Dao’s never happen again.

 

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/united-changes-policy-crew-cant-displace-seated-passengers/

Bill Nye: The Perfect Talking Head for a March Against Science

Bill Nye may not be a scientist. But he used to play one on TV. Now he is an honorary co-chair and speaker for the “March for Science” in Washington D.C. and elsewhere on April 22.

The choice of Nye as one of the faces of the March is revealing. March organizers have paid lip service to critical thinking and “diverse perspectives” in science. However, Nye is a good example of someone who promotes science as a close-minded ideology, not an open search for truth.

He attacks those who disagree with him on climate change or evolution as science “deniers.” He wouldn’t even rule out criminal prosecution as a tool. Asked last year whether he supported efforts to jail climate skeptics as war criminals, he replied: “Well, we’ll see what happens. Was it appropriate to jail the guys from ENRON?”

Scientists disagree on far more issues than the March organizers admit.

Real science encourages debate. It doesn’t insist that scientists march in lockstep. Or that they speak with one voice. In fact, scientists disagree on far more issues than the March organizers admit.

Models Vs. Evidence

Take global warming. Many marchers will wear their belief in climate change on their sleeves. On their signs, too. They, like Nye and others who claim to speak for science, equate belief in man-made climate disaster with science itself. If you disagree, you’re “anti-science.”

Yet there are strong reasons to doubt the so-called “consensus” on warming. But the popular media rarely cite them.

From 1890 to 1990, records show only a .45 degree C rise in global temperature as measured from near-surface thermometers around the Earth. Yet about 75 percent of the increase occurred before World War II, while most of the increase in human produced greenhouse gases occurred after World War II. So, human industrial activity doesn’t really correlate with the main effect of interest. Meanwhile, after a few warmer than usual years in the early 1990s, global temperatures have flat-lined. They show no net increase over the last two decades.

Many top scientists are skeptics of extreme global warming, including physicists, biologists, earth and atmospheric scientists.

Most warmists’ models have predicted steep rises. But these models don’t match the real global temperatures collected after the fact. So why believe the dire predictions that those same models make about future temperatures before the fact?

Bill Nye, Al Gore, and former President Obama have said we must accept what “the scientists” say. To listen to the skeptics would be to reject “settled science.” But skeptics of extreme warming include many top scientists: physicists, biologists, earth and atmospheric scientists like Richard Lindzen (MIT), Freeman Dyson and William Happer (Princeton), Roy Spencer (University of Alabama, formerly NASA), John Christy (Earth System Science Center, University of Alabama), and Matt Ridley (DPhil, Oxford). How strong can the “consensus” be if such stars of science question the idea?

What About Neo-Darwinism?

But let’s say widespread agreement did exist on the question. Has such an agreement served as an error-free guide to truth in the past? The history of science says no.

Here’s another scientific issue to ponder. Nye claims the evidence for evolution is “Undeniable. That’s how he put it in the title of his recent book. By “evolution” he means textbook neo-Darwinism. So the case for evolution is “undeniable”? In truth, many leading scientists, including evolutionary biologists, reject neo-Darwinism. Many biologists now doubt the creative power of random mutation with natural selection. But that is the core idea of the theory.

This past November I attended a conference of the prestigious Royal Society of London. The meeting was called to address this problem. Speaking first, biologist Gerd Müller listed the “explanatory deficits” of neo-Darwinism. He said those include its failure to explain the “origin of biological complexity” and the origin of major morphological “novelties.” It also doesn’t predict their abrupt appearance in the fossil record.

Nye claims the evidence for evolution is “Undeniable. But many biologists now doubt the core of Darwin’s theory.

Other biologists echo his concerns. They argue that mutation and selection can account for “the survival, but not the arrival of the fittest.” That is, minor, but not major, changes in the history of life.

I say more on this in my book Darwin’s Doubt. For instance, neo-Darwinism fails to explain the origin of the new genetic information needed to build new forms of life.

Our own experience with computer code helps to explain why. Random changes to the digital characters in a section of functioning software code will degrade the information in a program and destroy its function. That will happen long before those changes can generate a new program or operating system. Yet, neo-Darwinists invoke just such random changes to the characters in the genetic text to explain where new genetic information comes from. Mathematicians who know biology say “not a chance.”

What Do You Mean By “Evolution”?

In any case, the textbook examples of natural selection and random mutations do not involve creating new genetic information. Many biology texts tell about the famous finches in the Galápagos Islands whose beaks have waxed and waned in shape and length over time. These books also recall how moths in England got darker and lighter as levels of industrial pollution changed. Darwinists present such cases as knockdown evidence for evolution. But that depends on what you mean by “evolution.”

Small-scale “micro-evolutionary” changes can’t explain large-scale “macro-evolution.”

That term has many meanings. “Evolution” can refer to anything from minor change within the limits of a gene pool to the creation of wholly new genetic information and structures.

Yet, as a host of biologists have argued in recent papers, small-scale “micro-evolutionary” changes can’t explain large-scale “macro-evolution.” Mostly, micro-evolution (such as changes in color or shape) just uses pre-existing genetic information. But the large changes needed to build new organs or whole body plans need entirely new sources of information. This explains the growing doubts about the power of natural selection and random mutation.

It also explains why many biologists are seeking new theories of evolution. As yet, though, nothing like a consensus is emerging.

March for Conformist Science

Don’t expect Nye or the others “marching for science” to breath a word about any of this. And that’s a shame. A real “March for Science” would celebrate scientific puzzles, disagreements, and competing ideas rather than fear them.

Those who truly want to support science should defend the right of all scientists — including dissenters — to express their views.

Just ask Italian philosopher of science Marcello Pera. In his book The Discourses of Science, he writes that science advances as scientists argue about how to interpret the evidence. They can only do that, though, if they are free to challenge established ideas and advance new ones.

Those who truly want to support science should defend the right of all scientists — including dissenters — to express their views. Those who stigmatize dissent do not protect science from its enemies. Instead, they subvert the process of scientific discovery they claim to revere.

 

Stephen C. Meyer received his Ph.D. in the philosophy of science from the University of Cambridge. A former geophysicist and college professor, he now directs Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture in Seattle. He has authored the New York Times best seller Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design (HarperOne, 2013) as well as Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design (HarperOne, 2009), which was named a Book of the Year by the Times (of London) Literary Supplement in 2009.

Article source: https://stream.org/bill-nye-perfect-talking-head-march-science/

Bill Nye: The Perfect Talking Head for a March Against Science

Bill Nye may not be a scientist. But he used to play one on TV. Now he is an honorary co-chair and speaker for the “March for Science” in Washington D.C. and elsewhere on April 22.

The choice of Nye as one of the faces of the March is revealing. March organizers have paid lip service to critical thinking and “diverse perspectives” in science. However, Nye is a good example of someone who promotes science as a close-minded ideology, not an open search for truth.

He attacks those who disagree with him on climate change or evolution as science “deniers.” He wouldn’t even rule out criminal prosecution as a tool. Asked last year whether he supported efforts to jail climate skeptics as war criminals, he replied: “Well, we’ll see what happens. Was it appropriate to jail the guys from ENRON?”

Scientists disagree on far more issues than the March organizers admit.

Real science encourages debate. It doesn’t insist that scientists march in lockstep. Or that they speak with one voice. In fact, scientists disagree on far more issues than the March organizers admit.

Models Vs. Evidence

Take global warming. Many marchers will wear their belief in climate change on their sleeves. On their signs, too. They, like Nye and others who claim to speak for science, equate belief in man-made climate disaster with science itself. If you disagree, you’re “anti-science.”

Yet there are strong reasons to doubt the so-called “consensus” on warming. But the popular media rarely cite them.

From 1890 to 1990, records show only a .45 degree C rise in global temperature as measured from near-surface thermometers around the Earth. Yet about 75 percent of the increase occurred before World War II, while most of the increase in human produced greenhouse gases occurred after World War II. So, human industrial activity doesn’t really correlate with the main effect of interest. Meanwhile, after a few warmer than usual years in the early 1990s, global temperatures have flat-lined. They show no net increase over the last two decades.

Many top scientists are skeptics of extreme global warming, including physicists, biologists, earth and atmospheric scientists.

Most warmists’ models have predicted steep rises. But these models don’t match the real global temperatures collected after the fact. So why believe the dire predictions that those same models make about future temperatures before the fact?

Bill Nye, Al Gore, and former President Obama have said we must accept what “the scientists” say. To listen to the skeptics would be to reject “settled science.” But skeptics of extreme warming include many top scientists: physicists, biologists, earth and atmospheric scientists like Richard Lindzen (MIT), Freeman Dyson and William Happer (Princeton), Roy Spencer (University of Alabama, formerly NASA), John Christy (Earth System Science Center, University of Alabama), and Matt Ridley (DPhil, Oxford). How strong can the “consensus” be if such stars of science question the idea?

What About Neo-Darwinism?

But let’s say widespread agreement did exist on the question. Has such an agreement served as an error-free guide to truth in the past? The history of science says no.

Here’s another scientific issue to ponder. Nye claims the evidence for evolution is “Undeniable. That’s how he put it in the title of his recent book. By “evolution” he means textbook neo-Darwinism. So the case for evolution is “undeniable”? In truth, many leading scientists, including evolutionary biologists, reject neo-Darwinism. Many biologists now doubt the creative power of random mutation with natural selection. But that is the core idea of the theory.

This past November I attended a conference of the prestigious Royal Society of London. The meeting was called to address this problem. Speaking first, biologist Gerd Müller listed the “explanatory deficits” of neo-Darwinism. He said those include its failure to explain the “origin of biological complexity” and the origin of major morphological “novelties.” It also doesn’t predict their abrupt appearance in the fossil record.

Nye claims the evidence for evolution is “Undeniable. But many biologists now doubt the core of Darwin’s theory.

Other biologists echo his concerns. They argue that mutation and selection can account for “the survival, but not the arrival of the fittest.” That is, minor, but not major, changes in the history of life.

I say more on this in my book Darwin’s Doubt. For instance, neo-Darwinism fails to explain the origin of the new genetic information needed to build new forms of life.

Our own experience with computer code helps to explain why. Random changes to the digital characters in a section of functioning software code will degrade the information in a program and destroy its function. That will happen long before those changes can generate a new program or operating system. Yet, neo-Darwinists invoke just such random changes to the characters in the genetic text to explain where new genetic information comes from. Mathematicians who know biology say “not a chance.”

What Do You Mean By “Evolution”?

In any case, the textbook examples of natural selection and random mutations do not involve creating new genetic information. Many biology texts tell about the famous finches in the Galápagos Islands whose beaks have waxed and waned in shape and length over time. These books also recall how moths in England got darker and lighter as levels of industrial pollution changed. Darwinists present such cases as knockdown evidence for evolution. But that depends on what you mean by “evolution.”

Small-scale “micro-evolutionary” changes can’t explain large-scale “macro-evolution.”

That term has many meanings. “Evolution” can refer to anything from minor change within the limits of a gene pool to the creation of wholly new genetic information and structures.

Yet, as a host of biologists have argued in recent papers, small-scale “micro-evolutionary” changes can’t explain large-scale “macro-evolution.” Mostly, micro-evolution (such as changes in color or shape) just uses pre-existing genetic information. But the large changes needed to build new organs or whole body plans need entirely new sources of information. This explains the growing doubts about the power of natural selection and random mutation.

It also explains why many biologists are seeking new theories of evolution. As yet, though, nothing like a consensus is emerging.

March for Conformist Science

Don’t expect Nye or the others “marching for science” to breath a word about any of this. And that’s a shame. A real “March for Science” would celebrate scientific puzzles, disagreements, and competing ideas rather than fear them.

Those who truly want to support science should defend the right of all scientists — including dissenters — to express their views.

Just ask Italian philosopher of science Marcello Pera. In his book The Discourses of Science, he writes that science advances as scientists argue about how to interpret the evidence. They can only do that, though, if they are free to challenge established ideas and advance new ones.

Those who truly want to support science should defend the right of all scientists — including dissenters — to express their views. Those who stigmatize dissent do not protect science from its enemies. Instead, they subvert the process of scientific discovery they claim to revere.

 

Stephen C. Meyer received his Ph.D. in the philosophy of science from the University of Cambridge. A former geophysicist and college professor, he now directs Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture in Seattle. He has authored the New York Times best seller Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design (HarperOne, 2013) as well as Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design (HarperOne, 2009), which was named a Book of the Year by the Times (of London) Literary Supplement in 2009.

Article source: https://stream.org/bill-nye-perfect-talking-head-march-science/

Military Photo of the Day: A Hero’s Smooch



By Tom Sileo

Published on April 17, 2017

A U.S. Army soldier kisses his wife after returning home from a recent deployment.

Welcome home, hero!






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Article source: https://stream.org/military-photo-of-the-day-april-17-2017/

Watch This Coptic Bishop’s Response to the Palm Sunday ISIS Attackers

Last week 47 Coptic Christians were killed in their churches by ISIS while celebrating the start of Holy Week. Last Sunday night in response to the attacks, popular Coptic preacher Father Boules George delivered “a message to those who kill us” before a packed church.

The Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria is the Middle East’s largest Christian community. It’s also believed to be the oldest Christian community, established by Jesus’ apostle Mark about A.D. 42.

The 10-minute sermon is on YouTube and was referenced in a tweet from Johnnie Moore, award-winning activist helping persecuted Christians worldwide.

A Message to All Who Will Kill Us

Watch the full video, or read an abridged version of the video’s translation from Arabic below.

Now what will we say to those who kill us? I don’t know. The first thing we will say is, “Thank you very, very, very much!”

And you won’t believe us when we say thank you. You know why we thank you? You won’t get it, but please believe us. Because you gave us to die the same death as Christ. And this is the biggest honor we could have. Christ was crucified — and this is our faith. He died and was slaughtered — and this is our faith. …

We thank you because you shortened for us the journey. When someone is headed home to a particular city, he keeps looking at the time. “When will I get home? Are we there yet?” Can you imagine if in an instant he finds himself on a rocket ship straight to his destination? You shortened the journey! Thank you for shortening the journey. …

You’re helping us, and you don’t even know it. We need to thank you. Trust me. And I’ll tell you why. Because there are people we visited in their homes one, two, three, four times, to encourage them to come to church. Still they won’t come. What you’re doing here — you’re bringing to church the people who never come. Believe me — it is bringing to church the people who never come! … You are filling up our churches!  …

The second part of the message we want to send to you is that we love you. And this, unfortunately, you won’t understand at all. … Why won’t you understand it? Because this too is a teaching of our Christ.

We love you because this is the teaching of our God — that I’m to love you — no matter what you do to me. I love you very much.

I long to talk to you about our Christ. And tell you about how wonderful He is. See what Christ said: If you love those who love you, you have no profit or reward with me. Even thugs and thieves love those who love them. Any gang loves its members. Even the drug dealers all like each other and take care of each other. Right? But I want to tell you that “if you love those who love you, what reward have you … But I say to you, love your enemies.” (Matthew 5:43-48.) …

The Christian doesn’t make enemies because we are commanded by God to love all of His creation. And so, we love you because this is the teaching of our God — that I’m to love you — no matter what you do to me. I love you very much.

And I want to say one last thing to you: we’re praying for you. Because the One who told us to love our enemies also told us to “bless those who curse you … and pray for those who spitefully use you.” (Matthew 5:44.) So the command I have been given from my God, who is full of love, make [sic] it my duty to pray for you. …

[To congregants]

So what do you think? How about we make a commitment today to pray for them? Pray that they know the God of love? Pray that they experience the love of God? Because if they knew that God is love and experienced His love, they could not do these things — never, never, never. …

I don’t know what the final [death] count is. They said 40-something, and, of course, many people in the hospitals will catch up to them. All of these are crowns. They are rejoicing with God. And they will attend the Resurrection up there. And they are praying for us. The rest is on us.

Oh, you lucky, lucky, lucky ones! And we can not wait until it is our turn. To our God be the glory now and forever. Amen.

Article source: https://stream.org/watch/

Nigeria Marks 3 Years Since Schoolgirls’ Mass Abduction


Activists urged Nigeria’s government to do more to free the nearly 200 schoolgirls who remain captive.

Bring Back Our Girls campaigners hold Torchlights during a vigil to mark three years anniversary of the abduction of girls studying at the Chibok government secondary school in Lagos, Nigeria Friday, April. 14, 2017. Nigerians on Friday marked three years since the mass abduction of nearly 300 schoolgirls by Boko Haram extremists amid anger that government efforts to negotiate their freedom appear to have stalled.


By

Published on April 14, 2017

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Nigerians on Friday marked three years since the mass abduction of nearly 300 schoolgirls by Boko Haram extremists amid anger that government efforts to negotiate their freedom appear to have stalled.

Activists were rallying in the capital, Abuja, and commercial hub Lagos to urge President Muhammadu Buhari’s government to do more to free the nearly 200 schoolgirls who remain captive.

“It is still a nightmare to me. It is still fresh as if it happened last night,” said Rebecca Samuel, whose daughter Sarah remains missing. “The government is trying, but I believe they can do more than what they are doing.” She wept and pleaded for a solution.

After a few of the girls escaped on their own, Nigeria in October announced the release of 21 of the Chibok schoolgirls after negotiations with the extremist group. It said another group of 83 girls would be released “very soon.”

No one has been freed since then. The government this week said negotiations have “gone quite far” but face challenges. It refused to give details, citing security reasons. Buhari on Friday said Nigeria is “willing to bend over backwards” to secure the schoolgirls’ release.

“It is deeply shocking that three years after this deplorable and devastating act of violence, the majority of the girls remain missing,” a half-dozen independent experts for the United Nations, who visited Nigeria last year, said in a statement this week.

The failure of Nigeria’s former government to free the girls sparked a global Bring Back Our Girls movement and was a factor Buhari’s 2015 election win over former President Goodluck Jonathan.

The schoolgirls from Chibok village are among thousands of people abducted by the Nigeria-based Boko Haram as it continues to threaten parts of the northeast and has spread into neighboring countries.

“I thank the Almighty for sparing the lives of some, and mine is among them,” said Esther Yakubu, who wept last year when she watched a Boko Haram video with the first proof of life of her daughter, Dorcas, since her capture. Her daughter has not yet been freed.

When marking the anniversary last year none of the schoolgirls had been freed, “but today we have 24 of them. That’s progress,” Yakubu said.

The Chibok abduction is not even the largest. Nigerian officials refuse to acknowledge the abduction of more than 500 children from the northeastern town of Damasak in November 2014, Human Rights Watch said last month. Nigerian officials have not responded to requests by The Associated Press for information.

Buhari late last year announced that Boko Haram had been “crushed,” but it continues to carry out deadly suicide bombings, often strapping them to young women. Children have been used to carry out 27 attacks in the first three months of this year, already nearing last year’s total of 30, the U.N. children’s agency said this week.

“Today, the group has been degraded and is no longer in a position to mount any serious, coordinated attack, other than sporadic suicide attacks on soft targets,” the president said Friday. “Even at that, their reach is very much confined to a small segment of the northeast.”

But on Wednesday, Nigerian security officials said they had thwarted plans by Islamic State group-linked Boko Haram members to attack the embassies of the United States and Britain, along with “other Western interests” in the capital. One faction of Boko Haram is allied with the Islamic State group.

Nigeria’s military in the past year has rescued thousands of Boko Haram captives while liberating towns and villages from the group’s control, but many have been detained as possible Boko Haram suspects.

Boko Haram’s seven-year Islamic uprising has killed more than 20,000 people and driven 2.6 million from their homes, with millions facing starvation because of the disruption in markets and agriculture.

 

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/nigeria-marks-3-years-since-schoolgirls-mass-abduction/

Trump Expected to Sign Legislation Erasing Obama-era Rule on Family Planning Funds



By

Published on April 12, 2017

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is expected to sign legislation Thursday erasing an Obama-era rule that barred states from withholding federal family planning funds from Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.

The rule was finalized shortly before Obama left office in January.

The legislation squeezed narrowly through the Senate last month after Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote.

It was passed using an obscure measure called the Congressional Review Act, which lets lawmakers undo regulations enacted in the last months of the Obama administration with just a majority vote.

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/trump-expected-to-sign-legislation-erasing-obama-era-rule-on-family-planning-funds/

Military Photo of the Day: Manning a .50 Caliber Machine Gun



By Tom Sileo

Published on April 13, 2017

A U.S. Coast Guard maritime enforcement specialist aboard the Cutter Seneca trains on a .50 caliber machine gun during a recent exercise in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

Thank you to the brave men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard for protecting our country!






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Article source: https://stream.org/military-photo-of-the-day-april-13-2017/

Manhunt: Heavily-Armed Suspect Threatens Attack on Schools and Government Officials in Manifesto to Trump


Police say Joseph Jakubowsky stole a stockpile of weapons from a gun shop, and not only threatened schools and officials but may pose a threat to churches.

In this April 4, 2017 frame grab from a surveillance video released by the Rock County Sheriff’s Office, Joseph Jakubowski makes a purchase at a gas station in Janesville, Wis. The hunt continues Monday, April 10, 2017, for Jakubowski, who is suspected of stealing firearms from a Wisconsin gun store and sending an anti-government manifesto to President Donald Trump.


By

Published on April 10, 2017

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Before setting off a massive manhunt triggered by a gun shop break-in, authorities said Joseph Jakubowski first wanted to document the start of his self-proclaimed revolution against the government and law enforcement.

“To anybody that got this letter, you might want to read it,” the 32-year-old Jakubowski said as he walked in the parking lot of a southern Wisconsin post office, holding an oversized white envelope bearing multiple stamps and containing a 161-page manifesto addressed to President Donald Trump. “There it is, you see, it’s getting shipped. Revolution. It’s time for change.”

Churches have been told by law enforcement to be on alert because the manifesto included anti-religious views.

The scene comes from a 15-minute video shot before Jakubowski disappeared last week and subsequently released by Rock County Sheriff officials. Investigators have said Jakubowski’s manifesto details a long list of grievances against the government and law enforcement, and threatens attacks against schools and public officials.

Law enforcement have released few specifics about what Jakubowski wrote — and said little about what they believe he’ll do — but they’re devoting more than 150 state and federal officers in what’s become a national search. Authorities are urging the public to call with information of his whereabouts but they’re warning people not to approach him because he has more than a dozen firearms and he’s acquired a bulletproof vest and a helmet.

“Here we go guys. April 4th, 2017. It’s 5:43,” Jakubowski said showing the letter one last time before dropping it off in a mailbox. “Game time,” he said before walking away.

About three hours later, Rock County Sheriff Robert Spoden said Jakubowski burglarized a gun store in Janesville, Wisconsin, about 70 miles (110 kilometers) southwest of Milwaukee. He left with 18 firearms, including at least two rifles, before setting his car on fire and vanishing, Spoden said.

The video was obtained from a social media network by law enforcement officials, who have declined to say where it was posted or who shot it. However, the sheriff’s office has said an associate of Jakubowski who received a copy of the manifesto has been cooperating.

It was not immediately clear whether the White House received the manifesto.

Investigators have followed up on more than 400 tips and leads in the manhunt, and federal authorities are investigating any leads developing outside the area. Aiding local law enforcement in the search is the FBI, the U.S. Secret Service, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The FBI is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to Jakubowski’s capture.

The sheriff’s office said in a statement Sunday night that it had contacted school districts to inform them that Jakubowski is still on the run so they can make decisions on any precautionary measures. Many Rock County schools are on spring break this week. Churches have been told by law enforcement to be on alert because the manifesto included anti-religious views.

Jakuboswki writes in his manifesto about “injustices he believes that the government and society and the upper class have put forth onto the rest of the citizens,” Spoden said.

“It’s just an overview that he feels that the government, and law enforcement in particular are acting as terrorists and are enslaving the people and creating this environment that he finds unacceptable,” Spoden said.

Over the years, Jakubowski has had several run-ins with law enforcement, most for traffic violations. But he has previously resisted arrest and once tried to disarm an officer, said Janesville Police Chief David Moore.

“What we have not seen in the past is this anti-government, or terrorist-type information. That is a new element for all of us,” Moore said.

___

Find Ivan Moreno on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Ivajourno

 

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/manhunt-underway-for-suspect/

The Middle East’s Siren Call

In Greek mythology, sirens were beautiful creatures that lured sailors to their doom with their hypnotic voices. In Homer’s epic, The Odyssey, ships came to ruin on jagged reefs, following siren song, the pull of the beautiful voices so strong that the hero Odysseus, in order not to succumb, commanded that his crew lash him to the mast of his ship, and not untie him, until they were in safe waters.

That’s a lesson American presidents might have learned.

After repeatedly criticizing President Obama for his Middle East policy from which candidate Donald Trump said America got nothing in return, President Trump ordered a missile strike on a Syrian airbase reportedly used to launch chemical weapons attacks. Some on the right are beating their chests claiming this is a demonstration of leadership. To what end? Does anyone believe that Bashar al-Assad will not continue killing Syrians by other means?

Last week during meetings with King Abdullah of Jordan, the New York Post writes, “A report revealed that the administration wants to host a Mideast summit between Israel and the Palestinians as soon as this summer.” Trump said he and Abdullah would “advance the cause of peace in the Middle East, including peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.”

Since Palestinian leaders dating back to Yasser Arafat, along with terrorist groups like Hezbollah (and ISIS), have vowed never to make peace with Israel, that can only mean one thing: pressure on Israel to “do more” by relinquishing additional territory to her enemies and watching as those enemies use that territory to advance their timetable for the eradication of the Jewish state.

When I asked Sarah Stern, president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth, a pro-Israel think tank and policy center based in Washington, D.C., about this, she responded in an email: “After all of these years of experience in the Middle East, it is about time that we realize that the Israel-Palestinian dispute does not lay at the root of the problem. … It is rather the growth of radical Islam and a 14-century-old Sunni versus Shiite divide, coupled with the breakdown of the arbitrary lines drawn by the Sykes-Picot agreement, which amalgamated various tribal, feuding factions into nation states, where there was no common denominator.”

The Sykes-Picot Agreement, commonly known as the Asia Minor Agreement, was a secret 1916 deal between Britain and France, with the assent of the Russian Empire; to arbitrarily carve up the region into spheres of influence should the Triple Entente succeed in defeating the Ottoman Empire. In 1921, Winston Churchill, Herbert Samuel, the head of Britain’s Liberal Party and Abdullah I of Jordan, met in Jerusalem and redrew the lines of the Levant, ensuring the conflicts that have raged even before the 1948 re-establishment of Israel in its ancient homeland where Jews have always lived, despite Palestinian and Arab efforts to rewrite history.

Every American president since Dwight Eisenhower has tried to reduce conflict and bring peace to the region. But peace can only be achieved when people decide not to fight and kill each other anymore. That’s what happened in Northern Ireland, but it’s a long way from happening in the Middle East. Especially when those committed to Israel’s destruction find hope in “summits” and meetings they use to pressure Israel into effectively committing suicide by making agreements that her enemies, who believe they have a religious mandate, have not and will not live up to.

Only a president with the power God gave Moses to part the Red Sea could do something as miraculous as bring peace to the Middle East. Even a brief review of history proves the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is not the cause of instability. Arabs were fighting Arabs before 1948 and conflicts between Sunni and Shia Muslims have nothing to do with Israel.

If Trump thinks he can be the ultimate peacemaker, he’s listening to siren song, and heading for the reef.

 

Readers may email Cal Thomas at tcaeditors@tribpub.com.

 

Copyright 2017 Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Article source: https://stream.org/the-middle-easts-siren-call/

Trump’s First Big Foreign Policy Move a Departure From Stump Speeches

In what will almost certainly be the defining foreign policy decision of President Donald Trump’s first 100 days seems to be a significant shift from his noninterventionist rhetoric on the campaign trail in facing down Syrian dictator Bashar Assad.

Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, longtime critics of the president, praised Trump’s decision to launch 59 Tomahawk missiles at the Syrian government’s Shayrat airfield, where a chemical weapons attack was launched that killed more than 70 Syrian civilians, including children.

Conversely, Republican Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah stressed that Trump should have sought congressional approval before the strikes. Meanwhile, conservative talk radio host Laura Ingraham noted the major policy shift.

While some Trump supporters on the pundit side might have been surprised by the strikes, it’s not likely to hurt the president with his supporters throughout the country, said Richard Benedetto, an adjunct professor of government at American University.

“Some Trump folks will be disappointed,” Benedetto told The Daily Signal. “Many of the so-called blue-collar Trump supporters backed him because they did not like to see America get pushed around.”

As a candidate, Trump heavily criticized George W. Bush, a former president of his own party, for launching the Iraq War, while in 2013, he tweeted that President Barack Obama shouldn’t intervene in Syria.

This doesn’t necessarily mean Trump has shifted away from a cautious attitude toward foreign entanglements, said Benedetto, a former White House correspondent for USA Today.

“He could still be a noninterventionist compared to Bush, but at the same time, wants to make it clear he is not Obama,” Benedetto said. “It doesn’t mean he will be an interventionist in other things. But this means he takes chemical weapons seriously and he believes he had to do something.”

During a Rose Garden press conference Wednesday, the president telegraphed a shift before the strike, stating he is flexible.

I don’t have to have one specific way, and if the world changes, I go the same way … I do change and I am flexible and I’m proud of that flexibility, and I will tell you that attack on children yesterday had a big impact on me, big impact. That was a horrible, horrible thing and I’ve been watching it and seeing it, and it doesn’t get any worse than that. And I have that flexibility and it’s very, very possible, and I will tell you it’s already happened that my attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much.

The New York Times ran a story with the headline “Trump’s Far-Right Supporters Turn on Him Over Syria Strike.” However, the story focused mostly on more extreme elements rather than the general Trump supporter or conservatives.

The expectations of Trump as a “restrictionist, realist, or isolationist” during the presidential campaign were miscalculated from the beginning, said Emma Ashford, a research fellow for defense and foreign policy at the libertarian Cato Institute.

“He talked in the campaign about staying out of stupid Middle East wars, but he also talked about Iraq and how we should have taken their oil, and how he would bomb the hell out of ISIS,” Ashford told The Daily Signal. “People tend to focus on whether he is a neocon or like Ron or Rand Paul. They ignore the third way, which is being a restrictionist on humanitarian matters but interventionist in other areas.”

Ashford noted that military presence in the Middle East has increased since Trump became president.

Ashford said that Obama’s decision not to strike Syria in 2013 was sound.

“It worked in that Assad did not use chemical weapons again while Obama was president,” Ashford said.

The change between campaign rhetoric and international affairs isn’t unusual for presidents. Woodrow Wilson campaigned on staying out of World War I. Franklin Roosevelt campaigned on staying out of World War II. Richard Nixon campaigned on exiting the Vietnam War, and George W. Bush shunned nation building, experts said.

“Campaign rhetoric is just designed to get votes,” James Carafano, a national security expert at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal. “Look at John McCain and Barack Obama in 2008, and they sounded almost identical. There was no way anyone could have predicted Barack Obama’s foreign policy over the next eight years.”

He continued that this is what one should expect from Trump as a businessman.

“This is who Trump is. He deals with what he is dealt,” Carafano said. “If profits are down, he doesn’t hold a press conference to pretend they are not. He deals with it.”

 

Copyright 2017 The Daily Signal

Article source: https://stream.org/trumps-first-big-foreign-policy-move-departure-stump-speeches/

Military Photo of the Day: U.S. Marines Land on Red Beach



By Shannon Henderson

Published on April 8, 2017

Freshly landed U.S. Marines make their way through the sands of Red Beach at Da Nang, April 10, 1965.






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Article source: https://stream.org/military-photo-day-april-9-2017/

Trump’s Normality Problem

White House official Steve Bannon is off the National Security Council, in a reversal of what had been an eyebrow-raising decision to put the president’s top political adviser on the NSC.

It is a step toward normality in a White House that has struggled with it, especially in the Oval Office.

One would have thought the sweet spot for President Donald Trump would be enough policy heterodoxy to convince marginal working-class voters that he’s a different kind of Republican, coupled with enough conventional behavior to take the edge off his radioactive image.

Instead, after about 75 days, it’s been the opposite on both counts. With some exceptions (banging on companies on Twitter for outsourcing, the heavy emphasis on immigration enforcement), the substance has been conventionally Republican, while the behavior has been outlandishly Trump.

The two are related. Since Trump is undisciplined, doesn’t have well-formulated policy views and will change his mind based on the last person he’s talked to, he’s not well-suited to driving an agenda.

The result could well be a Republican president with the kind of policy platform that leads people to believe the party is out of touch, presented in the most off-putting and needlessly combative way possible.

Consider: If there is one issue that Trump has been consistent on for decades, it is attacking free trade. His jeremiads on trade clearly played a role in his breach of the Democrats’ blue wall in November. Yet, according to news reports, Trump’s team is having arguments about the fundamental direction of his trade policy.

How is this for priorities? The administration apparently doesn’t know whether it is protectionist or not, but is utterly committed to defending every Saturday morning tweet from the president. In other words, the only thing that is an unquestioned constant is Trump’s demeanor. Or to put it another way, Trump’s content may be subject to change, but never his style.

When all is said and done, the residue of distinctiveness of the Trump phenomenon could well be Trump himself, namely his ramshackle management, willingness to say anything and propensity for feeling slighted and hurling insults.

Tellingly, the president has sunk beneath 40 percent in a couple of polls without anything major having gone wrong. The initial travel-ban rollout was a fiasco, but the policy has essentially been on hold since, blocked by the courts. The defeat of the health care bill was a blow, but it could still be revived. Otherwise, there’s been no foreign blowup, the job market is reasonably strong, and every indicator of business and consumer sentiment is pointing in the right direction.

The drag on Trump has to be Trump himself. You might have thought he’d have learned a lesson from the positive reaction to his selection of Neil Gorsuch — a normal pick, arrived at through a normal process, who may be the biggest success of the first year — and to his almost entirely conventional speech to the joint session of Congress. Instead, they represented brief wanderings onto script from an otherwise improvisational actor.

Trump feels like he’s still up for grabs. Will he end up accommodating the GOP establishment, going hard populist or throwing in with the New York moderates in his White House? Regardless, how he conducts himself will remain equally a problem.

Perpetual warfare on all fronts doesn’t mean you’re winning, just that you have a lot of enemies. Counterpunching doesn’t always mean you’re hurting your adversary, just that you may be fighting on his terrain. Chaos doesn’t mean you’re draining the swamp, just that you’re wasting political capital.

The adage is that if you’re taking flak, it means you’re over the target. In Trump’s case, it may mean that he decided on a whim to change the flight plan in the middle of the mission to divebomb some out-of-the-way, well-defended target.

Normality won’t mean anything until it reaches all the way to the top.

 

Rich Lowry can be reached via e-mail: comments.lowry@nationalreview.com

© 2017 by King Features Syndicate

Article source: https://stream.org/trumps-normality-problem/

‘Complicit’ First Daughters and Double Standards

The late-night comics turned their liberal rage on Ivanka Trump after she granted an interview on April 5 to CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King.

It was an interesting choice for a television interview considering King would clearly be hostile. She partied with Oprah and the Obamas in the White House after President Obama’s first inauguration. Need one question her political leanings?

It should have come as no surprise when King asked whether Ivanka was “complicit” in her father’s administration, as if President Trump’s presidency should be considered illegal and morally bankrupt.

King was borrowing from a nasty Saturday Night Live skit that went viral on the left, of a fake Ivanka Trump perfume ad with the tagline “Complicit: the fragrance for the woman who could stop all of this but won’t.”

The president’s daughter responded like a politician, saying, “If being complicit means wanting to be a force for good and wanting to make a positive impact, then I’m complicit.”

Hours later, CBS late-night host Stephen Colbert pulled out a dictionary and read the illegal/wrongdoing definition of “complicit” and mocked Trump, saying her response was like saying, “If being a Nazi means fighting for civil rights, then yeah, I’m a huge Nazi!”

Mocking the quote where Trump’s lawyer said she would be her father’s “eyes and ears” in the White House, feminist TBS host Samantha Bee cracked that the first daughter will be “spending a lot of time staring at her own boobies.”

King channeled all the liberal outrage that Trump should be like a younger version of Hillary Clinton inside the White House, stopping everything that liberals don’t like. She cited anonymous “critics” — i.e., the people she’d just spoken with down the hall at the water cooler — bemoaning her failure to foil the conservatives.

She said:

You also talk about the critics, and you have a couple who say, “Why isn’t Ivanka speaking out? Where is she on Planned Parenthood? Where is she on gay rights? Where is she on the rights of women? Where is she on climate change?” And it’s like you’re being held personally accountable for not speaking up. What do you say to your critics?

Trump naturally answered that just because she’s not denouncing her father in public doesn’t mean she can’t wield her liberal influence inside the family. But obviously, the government is not moving in the direction of “New York values” right now, so that clearly wasn’t good enough.

Now compare: The day before CBS launched into Trump, it offered a typically fawning interview to Chelsea Clinton. No one has ever asked Chelsea Dearest whether she was “complicit” in her father’s sexual offenses, or “complicit” in her family’s corrupt foundation, even though she’s a vice chair. Put the emphasis on “vice.”

Instead, America witnessed all the mandatory mewling over her wonderfulness. Will she run for president? King couldn’t curb her enthusiasm. She said:

Is there anybody else in the Clinton household thinking about running? And by anybody, I mean you. You could take your book on the road while you’re campaigning with “Get Informed, Get Inspired, Get Going.” I feel like deja vu with your mom all over again. Are you running? Are you running? Are you running?

Earth to CBS: The country just said no to a Clinton dynasty.

Co-host Norah O’Donnell asked: “What do you think about what Russia did during the campaign? … Do you think they had any role in your mother’s defeat — Russian influence?” They simply will not accept that their candidate lost to him because America didn’t want her.

The double standard on first daughters and their parents never ends. One gets powder puffs and cotton candy. The other gets a sledgehammer.

One hopes there will be a learning moment here for Ivanka Trump. Sometimes the best response to a media request is to just say no.

 

Brent Bozell III is the president of the Media Research Center. Tim Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org.

COPYRIGHT 2017 CREATORS.COM

Article source: https://stream.org/complicit-first-daughters-and-double-standards/

GOP Senate Leader Claims Votes to Bust Dem’s Gorsuch Filibuster

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell claimed the votes Tuesday to bust a planned Democratic filibuster of President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee as a showdown neared that could change the Senate, and the court, for generations.

“They seem determined to head into the abyss,” the Kentucky Republican said of Democrats as debate began over Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination. “They need to reconsider.”

Democrats made clear they had no plans to do so, and blamed Republicans for pushing them to attempt a nearly unheard of filibuster of a well-qualified Supreme Court pick. Forty-four Democrats intend to vote against proceeding to final confirmation on Gorsuch, which would be enough to block him under the Senate’s filibuster rules that require 60 votes to proceed.

But McConnell intends to act unilaterally with the rest of his 52-member GOP conference and change the rules to eliminate the 60-vote threshold and require just a simple majority on Gorsuch and all future Supreme Court nominees. Asked if he has the votes to do that, given misgivings voiced by many Republicans, McConnell answered simply “yes.”

Democrats tried mightily to keep the focus on Republicans’ plans to change Senate rules, rather than on their own plans to obstruct a nominee who would likely have gotten onto the court easily with no filibuster in earlier and less contentious political times.

“Senator McConnell would have the world believe that his hands are tied. That the only option after Judge Gorsuch doesn’t earn 60 votes is to break the rules, to change the rules,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. “That could not be further from the truth.”

In fact, a Senate rules change does appear to be Republicans’ one route to put Gorsuch on the court. And despite claims from Schumer and others that Trump and Republicans could go back to the drawing board and come up with a more “mainstream” nominee, it seems unlikely that any nominee produced by Trump would win Democrats’ approval.

Tuesday evening McConnell officially filed “cloture,” the procedural motion to end debate on Gorsuch’s nomination and bring it to a final vote. That started the clock toward a showdown Thursday, when Democrats are expected to try to block Gorsuch, at which point Republicans would respond by enacting the rules change. The change is known on Capitol Hill as the “nuclear option” because of the potential repercussions for the Senate and the court.

For the Senate, it would mean that Supreme Court nominees in future could get on the court with no assent from the minority party, potentially leading to a more ideologically polarized court. More immediately, Gorsuch’s confirmation to fill the vacancy on the court created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia 14 months ago would restore the conservative voting majority that existed before his death and could persist or grow for years to come.

Though they have little recourse, Democrats planned to spend the rest of the week arguing against Gorsuch on the Senate floor. Just before 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley went to the floor to talk for “as long as I’m able” to protest Republicans’ 2016 blockade of President Barack Obama’s nominee for the seat, Merrick Garland.

“Make no mistake: this is a stolen seat — if this theft is completed, it will undermine the integrity of the court for decades,” Merkley tweeted as he began.

Merkley’s speech wasn’t expected to delay Wednesday’s debate on Gorsuch or Thursday’s votes.

Senators of both parties bemoaned the further erosion of their traditions of bipartisanship and consensus. Some were already predicting that they would end up eliminating the 60-vote requirement for legislation, but McConnell committed Tuesday that would not happen under his watch.

He drew a distinction between legislation being filibustered and the filibuster being used against nominees, something that is a more recent development.

Gorsuch now counts 55 supporters in the Senate: the 52 Republicans, along with three moderate Democrats from states Trump won last November — Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Donnelly of Indiana. A fourth Senate Democrat, Michael Bennet from Gorsuch’s home state of Colorado, has said he will not join in the filibuster against Gorsuch but has not said how he will vote on final passage.

 

 

Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick contributed.

 

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

Article source: https://stream.org/229281-2/

Circuit Court: 1964 Civil Rights Law Prohibits Discrimination Against LGBT People

CHICAGO (AP) — A federal appeals court ruled for the first time Tuesday that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects LGBT employees from workplace discrimination, setting up a likely battle before the Supreme Court as gay rights advocates push to broaden the scope of the 53-year-old law.

The decision by the full 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago comes just three weeks after a three-judge panel in Atlanta ruled the opposite, saying employers aren’t prohibited from discriminating against employees based on sexual orientation.

It also comes as President Donald Trump’s administration has begun setting its own policies on LGBT rights. Late in January, the White House declared Trump would enforce an Obama administration order barring companies that do federal work from workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual identity. But in February, it revoked guidance on transgender students’ use of public school bathrooms, deferring to states.

The case stems from a lawsuit by Indiana teacher Kimberly Hively alleging that the Ivy Tech Community College in South Bend didn’t hire her full time because she is a lesbian.

She Felt “Bullied”

Hively said she agreed to bring the case because she felt she was being “bullied.” She told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that the time has come “to stop punishing people for being gay, being lesbian, being transgender.”

The Chicago ruling followed a so-called en banc hearing of all the judges in the appeals court, with eight agreeing that the civil rights law prohibits discrimination because of sexual orientation, and three dissenting. The vote is notable because the 7th Circuit is considered a relatively conservative appeals court. Eight out of the 11 judges were appointed by Republican presidents.

“This decision is game changer for lesbian and gay employees facing discrimination in the workplace and sends a clear message to employers: it is against the law to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation,” said Greg Nevins, Employment Fairness Program Director for Lambda Legal, which brought the case on behalf of Hively.

The issue could still land before the Supreme Court at some point. A GOP-majority House and Senate make it unlikely the Congress will amend the Civil Rights Act, which outlaws discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin and requires equal access to public places and employment.

The Meaning of Sex

The debate in the Hively case revolved around the meaning of the word “sex” in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

The lawyer representing the teacher, Gregory Nevins of the Lambda Legal advocacy group of LGBT rights, pointed to what he described as the absurdity of a 1980s Supreme Court finding that if workers are discriminated against because they don’t behave around the office by norms of how men or women should behave, then that does violate the Civil Rights Law. But if a man or woman is discriminated against at work for being gay that was found not to violate the Civil Rights Act. “You can’t discriminate against a woman because she rides a Harley, had Bears tickets or has tattoos,” he said. “But you can if she’s lesbian.”

Some courts have concluded that Congress meant for the word to refer only to whether a worker was male or female. They said that it would be wrong to stretch the meaning of “sex” in the statute to also include sexual orientation.

 

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

Article source: https://stream.org/circuit-court-1964-civil-rights-law-prohibits-discrimination-against-lgbt-people/

Politically Incorrect Professor Gets Denied Grant Funding


In this Oct. 5, 2016 file photo, Cassandra Williams, U of T student union member poses in front of sign at the Jordan Peterson protest/rally, a University of Toronto professor and practicing psychologist, who has released the first of a planned three-part video series attacking ‘political correctness’ in academia.


By

Published on April 2, 2017

A professor who opposes political correctness and refuses to use gender-neutral pronouns was denied research grant funding.

Professor Jordan Peterson of the University of Toronto, who has recently sparked controversy for opposing social justice initiatives, was denied research grant funding, according to his Twitter account.

“This was the money that would have funded my research into the personality predictors of political correctness (and liberalism/conservatism),” noted Peterson in a subsequent Friday tweet.

The professor also tweeted that the reviewers for Social Science and Humanities Research Council grants are anonymous and that he had predicted he would be denied grant money in the fall of 2016.

Last fall, Peterson came under fire for opposing Canada’s Bill C-16, which he asserts would make it possible for employees to be punished for saying things that are “offensive.”

“Free speech is the mechanism by which we keep our society functioning,” said Peterson last fall to a group of students, some of whom were supporters and others protesters. “With Bill C-16 and its surrounding legislation, it’s the first time I’ve seen in our legislative history where people are attempting to make us speak their language.”

The bill, if enacted, will make discriminating on the basis of gender expression and gender identity illegal.

Protesters shouted “shame!” at the professor and blared white noise to try to drown him out, according to The Federalist.

The Daily Caller News Foundation reached out to Peterson and the Social Science and Humanities Research Council, but received no comments in time for publication.

 

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Send tips to rob@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

Copyright 2017 Daily Caller News Foundation






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Article source: https://stream.org/politically-incorrect-professor-gets-denied-grant-funding/

The Greatest Engine for Good: The Local Church

This is one of those times of year where people who don’t usually attend church may find themselves attending services. Maybe it’s part of a family visit. Maybe it’s tradition. Maybe it’s an itch in need of scratching. Or maybe it’s a desire. Whatever the cause, it could be fuel for civic renewal.

While the country seems obsessed with what’s happening in Washington, D.C. — with emotions and reactions ranging from encouragement, concern, dread, outrage and just about every other feeling in between — we’re missing something that should be more fundamental to the everyday life of our country.

California businessman William E. Simon Jr. aims to remedy that with a group he’s founded, Parish Catalyst, and a book he’s written, Great Catholic Parishes: How Four Essential Practices Make Them Thrive. Having surveyed 244 parishes, he’s in the business now of sharing what works.

This was one of the most important things I’ve ever done,” Simon tells me. “It was (megachurch pastor) Rick Warren who pointed this out to me, and he’s right: The local church is the greatest engine for good in history. It’s got the biggest distribution system. It’s got the longest track record. It’s got the most committed people. It’s better than any government and bureaucracy, any agency. And it’s been around for 2,000 years, and there’s no sign that it’s not going to be around for another 2,000 years. You can’t say that about any other entity.”

Focusing on the Catholic piece of the engine, Simon points out that there are roughly 80 million Catholics in the United States, about 80 percent of them affiliated with a parish. “About 64 million Catholics are affiliated somehow or another with a parish. So, if only 10 percent of them are paying attention, that’s 6.4 million. If you could double that number, that’d be another 6.4 million. That’s a h*** of an opportunity.”

So how to renew and expand the reach of the religious citizen? Instead of just dropping by for an hour or so on Good Friday or Easter, you inquire about making religion more a part of your life. “Take small steps. Don’t be overwhelmed. Rome wasn’t built in a day,” Simon says. For people already in a local church, he suggests looking at the needs of the community around it, and at the existing groups serving those needs. A soup kitchen? A shelter for the homeless? A hospital? There are opportunities for action and service everywhere. Or you could start a small group discussion on prayer or the Bible during the week.

Simon suggests heeding the words of Pope Francis: “We need to remember that churches are field hospitals. And when the wounded come in, your first question is: ‘Welcome. How can I help?’”

On a recent weekday afternoon, I stopped by St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan and watched the hundreds of people streaming through every minute. Some would join a Confession line, others would join the Mass in progress, others would pray. (There were selfies and map-checking, too.) And there were candles being lit. At another, more remote New York church, days before, I found a “resist” business-card size note someone had left in the hymnal, drawing attention to the current political situation. I wondered if the card-leaver realized that instead of cursing darkness, real and perceived, exaggerated or underplayed, there’s a real opportunity to be a light. People frequently go to church and light a candle. By staying awhile and becoming part of a community of prayer and service, reinvigorating it by your presence and participation, you are a light, rooted in one much greater.

“Be active,” Simon says. “Be involved with the greatest engine for good in history.” And, he emphasizes, “God’s there, God’s love is there. Why wouldn’t you want to be involved in that?”

It’s a good question, and one that the entire country should be asking.

 

Kathryn Jean Lopez is senior fellow at the National Review Institute, editor-at-large of National Review Online and founding director of Catholic Voices USA. She can be contacted at klopez@nationalreview.com.

 

COPYRIGHT 2017 United Feature Syndicate

Article source: https://stream.org/greatest-engine-good/

Four Days in Israel Verify Biblical Places and Events

I have wanted to visit the Holy Land for years and I am finally here. The experience is, as promised, exceeding my enormously high expectations. Finally, I can use the word “awesome” correctly and without exaggeration!

This is a 10-day tour organized by Living Passages and led by my friend, Christian apologetics author and speaker Frank Turek, of CrossExamined.org. We are visiting mostly Old Testament-related sites on the first part of the trip and those of the New Testament on the second part.

Historical Events and Places Verified

There are 35 of us in the group, and we are traveling from site to site on a bus with Israeli tour guide Eli Shukron, an accomplished archaeologist whose prominent Jerusalem discoveries include the pool of Siloam and tunnels under the City of David. Eli has a passion for making the Bible come alive by explaining the geography, history, and biblical significance of the sites we are touring. Turek is complementing these teachings with his unique biblical and apologetic messages.

One thing that greatly distinguishes the Bible from other ancient religious texts is that the historical events and geographical locations it describes can often be verified. Let me just share a bit about the major locations we’ve visited in the first few days of our journey.

Ark of the Covenant

As we flew into Tel Aviv at midday, I was taken by the beauty of the land. We spent our first night in Ashdod, Israel’s largest port, located on the Mediterranean coast. Ashdod is where the Philistines took the ark of the covenant after they defeated the Israelites. The first book of Samuel relates that they placed the ark in the temple of their god Dagon and set it beside Dagon’s statute. The next morning, the statue fell face downward before the ark, evidencing God’s judgment on the Philistines for stealing the ark.

The Lord also afflicted the people of Ashdod with tumors, convincing them to return the ark to the Israelites after having it only seven months. They returned it by cart to the Israelite city of Beth-Shemesh, east of Ashdod. Our group traveled from Ashdod to Beth-Shemesh, where we visited the excavation of Khirbet Qeiyafa nearby. Here we walked through the impressive ruins of a well-planned, fortified urban city established during the time of King David (circa 1000 B.C.), which has been validated by carbon dating and pottery of that period.

Solomon’s Temple, David and Goliath

Archaeologists also discovered miniature structures that looked like Solomon’s Temple and might have been models for the future temple. This city is believed to be the biblical city of Shaaraim (1 Sam. 17:52), which means “two gates.” Our guide, Eli, was animated in showing us both the eastern and western gates, which were clearly detectable even today. Large parts of the stone foundations of many houses within the city walls were still in place. From the high vantage point of the city we looked down on the valley of Elah, where David killed Goliath (1 Sam. 17). It is moving to stand in the very spot where these historical events occurred and it gives a richer significance to the biblical accounts.

We next visited the active archaeological site Tel Mareshah, where we were invited to participate in the dig. One member of our group discovered an oil lamp dated around 300 B.C.

The City Joshua Conquered

From there we went to the site of the ancient city of Lachish, which was originally conquered by Joshua and later was second only to Jerusalem in strategic importance to Judah, whose king, Rehoboam, fortified the city for the defense of his kingdom (2 Chronicles 11:9).

The Assyrians had already conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 722 B.C. and had their sights set on the southern kingdom of Judah. Accordingly, Assyrian King Sennacherib invaded Judah and conquered Lachish in 701 B.C. He memorialized this victory with a series of reliefs that he had carved on his palace walls in Nineveh, which depicted the siege and capture of Lachish (2 Kings 18:14, 17; 19:8; 2 Chronicles 32:9; Isaiah 36:2; 37; 37:8; Micah 1:13). Those reliefs are now in the British Museum.

The Taylor Prism

When Sennacherib put siege to Jerusalem, as the Bible says, he couldn’t overtake the city. While not claiming victory, Sennacherib bragged that he had Judah’s King “Hezekiah caged like a bird” on the ancient Taylor Prism found in Iraq in 1830. This Prism is also in the British Museum and is verification of another event in the Bible.

It is difficult to express the majesty of these ancient areas and to adequately explain their profound impact. Though I have read and studied the Old Testament, I can’t begin to describe how much more meaningful its stories are after walking the grounds on which they unfolded. We have barely begun our journey and it is already the trip of my lifetime. Nothing else compares. In a later column, I’ll tell you about the New Testament sites we visit.

David Limbaugh is a writer, author and attorney. His latest book The True Jesus, will be released April 10, 2017. Follow him on Twitter @davidlimbaugh and his website at www.davidlimbaugh.com.

 

COPYRIGHT 2017 CREATORS.COM

Article source: https://stream.org/four-days-israel-verify-biblical-places-events/

Persecution of Journalists Who Exposed Planned Parenthood Is Malicious

We are witnesses to an abuse of power by government that represents a test of our democracy. Anyone who fails to rally to the cause of the Americans victimized in this case should be discredited.

Though I have not been shy about criticizing President Donald Trump when I think he deserves it, he is not involved.

I refer to the Kafkaesque malfeasance by Xavier Becerra, attorney general of California. Becerra, for many years a Democratic congressman, is using his office to hound two citizen journalists. They came into his sights because their videos exposed the sickening reality behind the euphemistic surface of Planned Parenthood. Becerra and other abortion-rights absolutists found this embarrassing. Why do I call it Kafkaesque? Because David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, who went undercover to reveal the law breaking of Planned Parenthood, now find themselves, not Planned Parenthood, accused of 15 felony counts by the state of California.

Their crimes? Recording people without their consent. The editorial board of the LA Times, to its credit, has called this a “disturbing overreach.” And Kevin Drum of Mother Jones, while condemning Daleiden’s politics, has defended his rights, saying, “This was a legitimate investigation, and no level of government should be in the business of chilling it.”

Xavier Becerra is no stickler about secret recordings. In 2012, he relished the release of Mitt Romney’s surreptitiously recorded comments to donors in which Romney mentioned the “47 percent.” Romney had joked that if he were Hispanic, he’d win the election. Becerra didn’t seem concerned about Romney’s privacy rights when he rushed to the press to denounce the Republican: “The insult of all insults, Mitt Romney says if he was Latino he would win the presidential election, as if being Latino would have given him any advantage to win the White House.”

Could there have been a political motive? Consider that the prosecution began under Becerra’s predecessor, Kamala Harris (now California’s junior senator), whose website urged Californians to “support Planned Parenthood” (recusal anyone?) and who was not above sending police to raid not just Daleiden’s office but also his home, in search of video footage.

Let’s review. When the Daleiden videos were first released in 2015, they were so damning that Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards felt the need to release a video apologizing for the “tone and statements” of a Planned Parenthood executive. That was Dr. Deborah Nucatola, who said this about the techniques she uses to preserve body parts for donation (and sale): “We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.”

Daleiden’s group recorded dozens of hours of video at several abortion clinics. It’s a disgrace that no prosecutor followed up with charges against Planned Parenthood based on the evidence Daleiden obtained. The explicit haggling over the price of body parts should have been enough to at least get started.

And it is a scandal that most of what Daleiden documented is legal. I personally will never forget the images of those tiny baby parts being picked over with a tweezer on a light table. How atrophied does your human sympathy have to become to push human remains (excuse me, “tissue”) about as if they were frog cadavers? And the callous insouciance of the Planned Parenthood doctors and other employees who spoke of getting “intact calvariums” (heads) and other specimens was enough to nauseate a neutral observer.

That’s why Planned Parenthood has circulated the false story that the videos were “deceptively edited.” Alexandra DeSanctis debunked that fiction. Planned Parenthood has resorted to lies about its grisly trade for many years. Recall that in 1995, Ron Fitzsimmons acknowledged that the entire abortion industry, of which he was a part, had “lied through (our) teeth” about partial birth abortion.

The lying is a civic hygiene problem. But what is happening to David Daleiden goes beyond that. This is a political vendetta and thus a malicious prosecution. Yes, California law forbids recording a person without his consent. But there are exceptions, as the LA Times editorial noted, in cases of public interest. Thus, ABC News, among others, has done covert investigations of various entities without risking retaliation from the attorney general. Animal welfare activists who have gone undercover to reveal the mistreatment of chickens have not been prosecuted. But then, baby chicks are defenseless.

 

Mona Charen is a Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. 

 

COPYRIGHT 2017 CREATORS.COM

Article source: https://stream.org/persecution-of-journalists-who-exposed-planned-parenthood-is-outrageous/

VA Tried to Pay $10 Million for 25 Parking Spaces, and 20-Year Official’s Excuse is That He’s New

Federal officials took six years to plan a new parking lot for a Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in West Virginia that would cost $10 million for only 25 parking spaces, as their solution for a 600-spot shortage.

Then when outside auditors pulled the plug on the fiasco, the hospital’s top official — who had previously served as the facility’s Chief of Staff since 1999 — claimed that it wasn’t his fault because he was new on the job.

Dr. Glenn R. Snider Jr. “didn’t become director of the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center until March 2016” so he “wasn’t in charge then” was the takeaway of the local paper, the Exponent Telegram, after speaking with Snider.

“I didn’t run the show then,” Snider told them of the parking lot and seven similarly long-running boondoggles.

Snider’s bio says “he has served as the chief of staff at the medical center since September 1999” and began serving as acting director in May 2015 before it was made permanent last year.

Snider said people should have faith that the waste will stop because the hospital has new leaders, including a new chief of staff — in other words, his replacement in his prior job.

He simultaneously pointed to his own appointment as director as a sign that a new leaf is being turned over, despite nearly two decades in a top role.

While publicly positioning himself as the solution to the problems, Snider privately argued that not all the problems needed addressing by the facility, telling the VA Inspector General he “disagreed with your conclusion” and “took exception,” blaming the VA regional office above the hospital.

He said he thought the auditors were “inaccurate and misleading” and the “$9.3 million was neither lost, nor misspent” because the project had been aborted, thanks to auditors’ intervention — thus raising the question of why he’s touting himself as the best person to fix a problem he denies exists.

The VA IG published a “Review of Alleged Mismanagement of Construction Projects at the VA Medical Center in Clarksburg, West Virginia” last week, which found that “managers did not effectively manage and oversee” at least eight construction projects, only three of which were completed, and all of which cost “significantly more than planned.”

“Most significant was a parking garage planned at a cost of approximately $9.7 million that was reduced from approximately 430 new spaces to approximately 25 new spaces before the project was canceled in March 2016.”

First, the VA forgot to conduct surveys that are a basic part of any new project. Then it only examined bids from two companies, both of which cost more than expected. It agreed to go with one anyway, but took so long to get back to the company that it had already moved on and would only do it for a higher price. Then a competitor of the contractor challenged the VA’s award of the contract.

“In December 2015, the contracting officer stated the anticipated contract only provided funding for an estimated 25 new parking spaces” for the same cost that they had previously expected to create 430. The hospital’s facility management chief — under Snider’s leadership — said they should do it anyway.

The IG’s auditors advised “that spending $9.7 million to increase parking capacity by only 25 spaces did not represent a prudent use of taxpayer funds. Construction of this parking garage as planned would cost approximately $388,000 per parking space. Furthermore, once this project was complete, the VAMC would still not have solved its parking space shortfall of approximately 625 spaces.”

As a result, they canceled the contract and the hospital now has less money than ever to build new parking because it wasted $400,000 pursuing the botched plan.

In other projects, West Virginia VA officials set out to renovate a clinic for $360,000, and instead paid contractors more than $1 million before it “terminated the contract for convenience” without completing the work — and left the clinic partially demolished and “unusable for its intended purpose.”

It also set out to spend $8 million renovating its electrical systems, but again failed to do a site survey, so its estimate wound up being far too low.

It then set out to build “two to three” new medical buildings for $5 million — half the cost of 25 parking spaces — but companies’ bids unsurprisingly turned out to be far higher.

Officials said “engineering staff had not received adequate training.” The officials also wildly underestimated the cost of another rehabilitation building and awarded a contract “despite not having sufficient funds.” Another building was delayed 29 months by poor planning.

Some of the projects occurred as far back as 2009, but they kept happening and even the inspector general did not notice them until an anonymous tip from a hospital worker enumerated all the issues in detail for them in 2015.

The hospital would not tell TheDCNF the name of the facilities chief, the person directly responsible for construction, with spokesman Wesley R. Walls responding to the request with an email saying the VA “will continue to be transparent.”

The former director, Beth Brown — for whom the current director served as deputy — was not forced out over the construction projects or serious concerns, including some of the worst wait times in the nation, but simply retired on her own after 38 years of employment in April 2015, saying it was always her long-term plan to retire that year.

The VA often rotates failed employees around to quell discontent about sub-par performance.

And failed construction projects with no accountability are a recurring theme. As of 2015, every major construction project within the VA nationally was months behind schedule and hundreds of millions of dollars over budget, but Glenn Haggstrom, director of the department’s Office of Acquisition, Logistics, and Construction, was paid $20,000 annual bonuses before retiring of his own accord.

A Denver hospital went from $328 million to $1.7 billion, and the VA created a panel to get to the bottom of it — a panel that didn’t include a single person with construction expertise.

 

Follow Luke on Twitter. Send tips to luke@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

Copyright 2017 Daily Caller News Foundation

Article source: https://stream.org/va-tried-pay-10-million-25-parking-spaces-20-year-officials-excuse-hes-new/

Purists Kill Whatever They Believe In

According to The New York Times, 10 moderates, 15 conservatives and eight other Republicans would have voted against the Republican bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. So, then, 15 or so conservatives made it impossible to pass the bill favored by nearly every other Republican and President Donald Trump. If that is the case, what we have here is another conservative example of purism and principle ruining another major opportunity to do good.

The first purist conservative example were the Never-Trumpers, who believed it was better for Hillary Clinton to be elected president and for the Left to have four more years of presidential power than for Trump to win.

There were valid reasons to wonder whether Trump was a conservative and valid reasons to oppose him in the primaries. There were no valid reasons to oppose him in the general election. I said all these things then and have thus far been validated beyond my wildest dreams.

We have one larger principle than even the conservative principles we share with the purists: defeating the Left because that is the No. 1 priority of those who cherish Western Civilization and regard America as the last best hope for humanity.

Supporting a Non-Perfect Bill and Non-Perfect President

In terms of policy, Trump is a conservative dream. From appointing a conservative to the Supreme Court; to approving the Keystone XL pipeline; to weakening the fanatical, hysterical and tyrannical Environmental Protection Agency; to appointing an ambassador to the United Nations who has moral contempt for that immoral institution; to backing Israel; to seeking to reduce economy-choking regulations on business, all of which are essentially everything conservatives would wish for in a president, Donald Trump is almost too good to be true.

But he’s still not good enough for those conservatives who remain Never-Trumpers or the members of the House Freedom Caucus, at least with regard to the bill to repeal and replace Obamacare that he worked so hard to have passed.

It is quite possible that I and most other conservatives who supported the bill agree with just about every criticism of the bill that House conservatives made. But just as the question in the general election wasn’t whether candidate Trump was our ideal, the question now wasn’t whether the bill was our ideal. The question during the election was: What will happen if the Democrats and the Left win the presidency again? And the question now is: What will happen if the Republicans don’t pass a bill favored by all but about 30 Republican congressmen and, most importantly, by President Trump?

But purists don’t ask such questions. They live in a somewhat different world than the rest of us who actually agree with them on everything because we don’t ask what is ideologically pure and true to our principles. We ask: What is closest to our ideology and our principles?

Or, to put it another way, we have one larger principle than even the conservative principles we share with the purists: defeating the Left because that is the No. 1 priority of those who cherish Western Civilization and regard America as the last best hope for humanity.

Priority One: Defeating the Left

The conservative Never-Trumpers and the conservatives who voted for Trump had everything in common except for that overriding principle. Conservatives who voted for Trump believed that defeating the Left is the overriding moral good of our time. We are certain that the Left (not the traditional liberals) is destroying Western civilization. The external enemy of Western civilization is Islamists (the tens or perhaps hundreds of millions of Muslims who wish to see the world governed by sharia), and the internal enemy of the West is the Left. What the Left has done to universities and Western culture at the universities is a perfect example.

Passing even a tepid first bill to begin the process of dismantling the crushing burden of Obamacare would have been an important first step in weakening the Left, not only by beginning to repeal Obamacare but also by strengthening the Trump presidency and the president’s ability to go forward with tax reform and other parts of his conservative agenda. The president is now damaged, and the Republican Party looks ludicrous — what other word can one use to describe the party that has voted more than 60 times in seven years to repeal Obamacare and can’t pass a bill to repeal or replace it when it is given the House, the Senate and the presidency?

Make no mistake, ye of pure heart: This may well be the last time in your lifetimes that Republicans control both houses of Congress and have a conservative president. And understand that time is not on our side; there are congressional elections in a year and nine months.

Providence or luck made it possible to have a conservative president. Act accordingly.

And perhaps consider inscribing on the walls of your House and Senate offices a motto as relevant as In God We Trust — “The Best Is the Enemy of the Better.”

 

Dennis Prager’s latest book, The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code, was published by Regnery. He is a nationally syndicated radio show host and creator of PragerUniversity.com.

COPYRIGHT 2017 CREATORS.COM

Article source: https://stream.org/purists-kill-whatever-believe/

Company: Oil Now in Controversial Pipeline Under Missouri River Reservoir

The Dakota Access pipeline developer said Monday that it has placed oil in the pipeline under a Missouri River reservoir in North Dakota and that it’s preparing to put the pipeline into service.

Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners made the announcement in a brief court filing with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The announcement marks a significant development in the long battle over the project that will move North Dakota oil 2000 miles (1930 kilometers) through South Dakota and Iowa to a shipping point in Illinois. The pipeline is three months behind schedule due to large protests and the objections of two American Indian tribes who say it threatens their water supply and cultural sites.

ETP’s filing did not say when the company expected the pipeline to be completely operating, and a spokeswoman did not immediately return an email seeking additional details.

“Oil has been placed in the Dakota Access Pipeline underneath Lake Oahe. Dakota Access is currently commissioning the full pipeline and is preparing to place the pipeline into service,” the filing stated.

Despite the announcement, the battle isn’t over. The Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes still have an unresolved lawsuit that seeks to stop the project. The Standing Rock chairman did not immediately return a call seeking comment on ETP’s announcement.

The tribes argue that a rupture in the section that crosses under Lake Oahe would threaten their water supply and sacred sites and would prevent them from practicing their religion, which requires clean water.

The company disputes the tribes’ claims and says the $3.8 billion pipeline is safe.

The tribes in December held up the project by successfully pushing the U.S. government for a full environmental study of the Lake Oahe crossing, which is in southern North Dakota. But the Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the Missouri River for the government, rescinded the study and gave the company permission to complete the pipeline at the urging of President Donald Trump shortly after he took office.

There were months of protests against the pipeline, mainly in North Dakota, where opponents set up a camp on Corps land between the Standing Rock Reservation and the pipeline route. At times it housed thousands of people, many of whom clashed with police, who made about 750 arrests between August and February. The on-the-ground protests waned after the Corps ordered the shutdown of the camp in February in advance of the spring flooding season.

While the protests have abated, opposition has not. The company on March 20 reported “recent coordinated physical attacks” on the pipeline without offering details. Authorities in South Dakota and Iowa confirmed that someone apparently used a torch to burn a hole through empty sections of the pipeline at aboveground shut-off valve sites.

North Dakota has become the second-biggest oil producer in the U.S. in the past decade, trailing only Texas. The state stands to gain more than $110 million annually in tax revenue with oil flowing through the pipe, according to an analysis by The Associated Press.

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Associated Press writer Blake Nicholson in Bismarck, N.D., contributed to this report.

___

This story has been corrected to reflect that the filing was with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, not the appeals court.

 

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

Article source: https://stream.org/company-oil-now-controversial-pipeline/

Intel Chairman’s Visit to White House Clouds Investigation

WASHINGTON (AP) — House intelligence chairman Devin Nunes went to the White House grounds to review intelligence reports and meet the secret source behind his claim that communications involving Trump associates were caught up in “incidental” surveillance, the Republican congressman said Monday, prompting the top Democrat on the committee to call on Nunes to recuse himself from the committee’s Russia probe.

Rep. Adam Schiff said Nunes’ connections to the White House have raised insurmountable public doubts about whether the committee could credibly investigate the president’s campaign associates.

“I believe the public cannot have the necessary confidence that matters involving the president’s campaign or transition team can be objectively investigated or overseen by the chairman,” Schiff said in a statement Monday.

Nunes confirmed Monday that he met with the source at the White House complex, but he denied coordinating with the president’s aides.

After reviewing the information last week, Nunes called a news conference to announce that U.S. spy agencies may have inadvertently captured Trump and his associates in routine targeting of foreigners’ communications. Trump quickly seized on the statements as at least partial vindication for his assertion that President Barack Obama tapped his phones at Trump Tower — though Nunes, Schiff and FBI Director James Comey have said there is no such evidence.

The Senate intelligence committee is also conducting an investigation into Russia’s interference in the election and possible ties with the Trump campaign. On Monday, it announced that Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has agreed to be interviewed. The White House confirmed that Kushner, a senior Trump adviser, had volunteered to be interviewed about arranging meetings with the Russian ambassador and other officials.

Kushner is the fourth Trump associate to offer to be interviewed by the congressional committees looking into the murky Russia ties. Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, Trump adviser Carter Page and Trump associate Roger Stone last week volunteered to speak as well.

“Mr. Kushner will certainly not be the last person the committee calls to give testimony, but we expect him to be able to provide answers to key questions that have arisen in our inquiry,” the chairman, Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, and the top Democrat, Mark Warner of Virginia, said in a joint statement Monday in a sign of bipartisanship.

The House investigation, meanwhile, has been plagued with partisan divisions under Nunes’ leadership.

The chairman did not tell top Democrat on the committee about the meeting at the White House complex. It is highly unusual for a committee chairman and ranking member not to coordinate meetings related to an investigation.

“‘I think the chairman has to make a decision whether to act as a surrogate of the White House — as he did during the campaign and the transition — or to lead an independent and credible investigation,” Schiff said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

Nunes argued he had to review classified, executive branch documents from a secure facility at the White House because the reports had not been provided to Congress and could not be transported to the secure facilities used by the House intelligence committee.

“Because of classification rules, the source could not simply put the documents in a backpack and walk them over to the House Intelligence committee space,” Nunes spokesman Jack Langer said. “The White House grounds was the best location to safeguard the proper chain of custody and classification of these documents, so the chairman could view them in a legal way.”

Nunes would not name the source of the information, nor would he disclose who invited him on the White House grounds for the meeting. In addition to the White House itself, the grounds include an adjacent building with offices for National Security Council and other executive branch employees.

Nunes described the source as intelligence official, not a White House official. In an interview on CNN, he suggested the president’s aides were unaware of the meeting.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer would not comment on whether White House officials were involved with Nunes.

“I’m not going to get into who he met with or why he met with them,” Spicer said.

The clandestine meeting was remarkable for a committee that seeks to demonstrate bipartisanship, said Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University who has written extensively about separation of powers.

“Ideally, any meeting at the White House on a subject under investigation would have been done with the knowledge of the ranking member or his staff,” Turley said. “Because these committees are the least transparent in Congress, both parties have historically tried to be open with each other on contacts or meetings with agencies on key questions.”

The disclosure renewed calls for an independent committee to investigate the Russia ties.

Indeed, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called on House Speaker Paul Ryan to replace Nunes as chairman of the intelligence committee.

“He has not been operating like someone who is interested in getting to the unvarnished truth. His actions look like those of someone who is interested in protecting the president and his party,” Schumer said.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said, “Chairman Nunes’ discredited behavior has tarnished that office,” and said Ryan should insist that Nunes “at least recuse himself” from the Russia probe.

AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for Ryan, said Monday the speaker has “full confidence that Chairman Nunes is conducting a thorough, fair and credible investigation.”

When Nunes disclosed the intelligence reports last week, he said what he reviewed had nothing to do with Russia, which could suggest that Trump associates were in touch with other foreign targets of U.S. intelligence surveillance in November, December or January.

“The chairman is extremely concerned by the possible improper unmasking of names of U.S. citizens, and he began looking into this issue even before President Trump tweeted his assertion that Trump Tower had been wiretapped,” Langer said.

It is unclear exactly what documents Nunes reviewed.

Nunes and Schiff have asked the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency for the names of officials who were cited in intelligence reports. The committee has said it is getting some of what it requested, but has not received everything.

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Associated Press writers Vivian Salama and Jill Colvin contributed to this report.

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

Article source: https://stream.org/227954-2/

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



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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/

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