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A Liberal Democrat Student Explains Why He Advocates Free Speech at Colleges

Free speech on campuses — and the lack thereof — was the topic of a hearing on Tuesday of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Among the panelists was Zachary Wood, a 21-year-old student at Williams College and president of a group called Uncomfortable Learning, which attempts to expose students to a diversity of opinion by hosting speakers on campus.

Zachary Wood promotes free and open speech at Williams College as president of the group Uncomfortable Learning.

Opposition from administrators and students forced the cancelation of two speeches planned by the group this year. Wood, a self-described liberal Democrat, is a passionate advocate for free speech, and wise beyond his years.

Madison Laton, a member of The Heritage Foundation’s Young Leaders Program, interviewed Wood the day after the hearing about the search for civil discourse on campus.

Why did you get involved with Uncomfortable Learning?

I got a sense early on that there were certain subjects on campus that people were less inclined to want to discuss and debate simply because they were controversial. It wasn’t the case that people could debate things and disagree on things and work through their understandings of complicated issues without thinking, “This person is against me, or doesn’t like me.”

I thought that Uncomfortable Learning was important because it addressed the need to bring views to campus that people really weren’t engaging with, and those were largely conservative views.

While I identify as a liberal Democrat, and while I admire President [Barack] Obama and I agree with him on most things, there are times, there are circumstances in which I think what Republicans are saying not only needs to be heard, but has some insight and might even be right. Just because I’m a liberal Democrat, I don’t always agree with liberal Democrats.

How would you describe the political climate on your campus?

A lot of people are solidly to the left, but the most vocal factions on campus are not just left, they tend to be very radical. They don’t really believe in the political system. They don’t just think the right is wrong, they think that the left and right together are wholly inadequate and that what we need is a kind of socialist democracy. They’re Marxists, largely.

So the ones who constantly speak out on everything are far to the left, so it gives the impression that everyone is that far to the left.

Do those who oppose Uncomfortable Learning fairly represent the student body?

We have got a group of about 50 to 70 students who absolutely hate Uncomfortable Learning, and because they are so vocal, and because some are antagonistic — even using intimidation at times — it is difficult for people to come out and say, “I’m not that against this idea of Uncomfortable Learning, I’m at least willing to think about it more and try it out.”

And there is a number of people who are like, “I like UL but don’t tell anyone I said that.”

Why do you think so many of your generation are against free speech?

One thing at work is the echo chamber. You have a bunch of liberals in one place. The second part of it is that people have so much access to information, and so much of the news is opinionated and opinion-based.

Sites like Facebook that have algorithms make it easy for people to create a steady influx of things they want to hear. It makes it very easy for people to just say, “If there is a certain set of views that I don’t want to engage with, then I’m just not going to engage with them.” You can block anything or ignore anything.

I also think there is another element, and this is not discussed much: the trend on the left, in progressivism, to view inclusivity as a necessary component of moral progress. I have no problem with inclusivity, but in many respects this push for inclusivity often means restricting or constraining the rights of others, and that’s what I have a problem with.

College administrators and college educators are not encouraging students to see the world as a place with many layers of complexity, and a place in which you have to work through your differences and solve things and figure things out, not just push everything away and ignore it. So I think that my generation is less resilient than generations in the past.

Are students exposed to a variety of viewpoints in class?

No, with one caveat on that: I can name a few professors at Williams who do their very best to expose us to a variety of viewpoints. But outside of that, I do not think that people are exposed to a variety of viewpoints in class. It is often the case that professors have leftist views and they advance these views and they express these views as if that’s simply the way it is.

I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, not to assume that because of moral or political differences someone doesn’t have principles as well. Maybe they have insight into something that I could really benefit from.

What do you think are the consequences of barring speakers from campus?

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, touched on this [in the hearing], and I was glad he asked the question: “What happens when a heckler’s veto wins, when people can effectively shut down a speaker or prevent an event from happening?”

It allows them to see that as a victory when it should not be viewed as a victory. That is not what this country was founded on. That’s not what America’s about at our best. We are about empowering dissent. We are about saying, “Listen, you say what you think, you stand by your principles.”

When speakers are barred, what happens is that you have certain preconceptions, certain assumptions about how people see the world that do not get challenged in any way. You lose sight of individual differences. It subsumes individuality, and you don’t appreciate people for the uniqueness of their own perspectives. You lose sight of things like, Cruz and I disagree on a number of things, but when it comes to free speech, it sounds like we are pretty much in line with each other.

If colleges and universities are supposed to foster ideas, why do so many administrations cave to demands that undercut free speech?

It has to do with job security. It has to do with this idea of “no trouble on my watch.”

But my view is very different. I think that every issue that matters in this country is, in and of itself, controversial because people disagree. We shouldn’t be running from that on college campuses. We should be embracing that precisely because by embracing that we are deepening and advancing our own ability to construct stronger arguments.

That’s what college is really about. It’s about preparing us to be, whatever we’re going to be in the world, to make a positive difference in the world and to address any number of these issues that we really care about.

A lot of times, college administrators are trying to make students feel safe. But who is going to try to make you feel safe after you graduate? Is your employer going to say, “I want to make sure you feel safe today at work, so in this meeting, no one is to say anything”? That’s not how the world works.

At the hearing, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said that the threat of violence should carry more weight than free speech in deciding whether to allow a speaker on campus. Do you think there is a point when security concerns should outweigh free speech?

I would agree with what Floyd Abrams and Frederick Lawrence said: We should always make the presumption in favor of free speech. That is to say, we should trust students, have faith in our students.

Let’s trust that if college administrators are doing our jobs correctly, students can handle this. If you really believe in the fact that your institution of higher education is a great institution, then you’ve got to have faith in your students.

Everyone needs to understand that part of liberty is the fact that I can’t force you to go to a talk you don’t want to go to. If it bothers you that much, don’t go. When I invite Suzanne Venker or John Derbyshire, you’re not mandated to attend. You’re not mandated to read their books. I think it would be great if you did, and I would encourage you to do so.

Administrators need to think about ways in which they can ensure that events are conducive environments for learning. If that requires more security, if that requires police, if that requires planning ahead, they need to take those steps. What they shouldn’t be doing is discouraging students from bringing controversial speakers.

You mentioned yesterday that you have tried to encourage your conservative classmates to speak up in class. What do you think it would take to convince them to do so?

The one thing that I’ve tried to do is when we’ve had panels, and everyone on the panel is liberal, if I have a friend who is a conservative, I’ll say: “This is an opportunity. They’re not grading you, they’re not someone from whom you may end up having to ask for a letter of recommendation. Try it here.”

The real fix would be for professors to encourage students to say what they think, to encourage them to speak up, to challenge them. I’d say that fewer than 20 percent of my professors, maybe 15 percent, say that.

How did you feel after the hearing? What do you think it accomplished, if anything?

I was encouraged by the fact that there was a general consensus that free speech is not just critical as this abstract value, but that people understand the concrete ways in which free speech is essential to our democracy, the concrete ways in which intellectual freedom on a college campus is indispensable to the kind of intellectual growth and development that is essential to becoming a more capable citizen in a very complex and competitive world.

I was emboldened by the fact that everyone on the panel, for the most part, seemed to agree that we’re oftentimes compromising speech and we need to push back against that.

Is there anything you would like to add?

I’ve received a lot of criticism and backlash, and I think it’s very easy sometimes for people to say that the problem is students — they are too sensitive or too intolerant.

I want to be clear about this: There is intolerance on college campuses, and the idea that you’re too weak or too frail or too sensitive is real. But it is on educators and administrators to think about the ways in which they can do more.

I think students mean well and administrators mean well, but I want to encourage people to not just blame student activists. Ultimately, we need to see this in terms of “What are the ways educators and administrators can do more to protect these values and promote political tolerance on campus?”


Article source: https://stream.org/liberal-democrat-student-explains-advocates-free-speech-colleges/

Military Photo of the Day: St. Sauveur Le Vicomte

By Shannon Henderson

Published on June 25, 2017

St. Sauveur Le Vicomte

“June 25, 1944. St. Sauveur Le Vicomte, Normandy, France. Our first hospital site – just arrived at the field. The town was one mile away, and the Germans were shelling it with 88’s. More or less constantly. Just after the picture was taken, our P-47 dive bombed their gun positions. We didn’t know what the hell was going on, and everyone was scared. German held ground was only 2 ½ miles away!”

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Article source: https://stream.org/military-photo-day-june-25-2017/

Democratic Party More Bankrupt Than Ever

The Democrats’ comprehensive meltdown after their fifth straight election loss is a spectacle worth savoring. They’re vacillating between denial and self-flagellation, between consuming depression and delusional optimism. Some are even blaming hacking for the loss.

Don’t let them fool you; they did not expect carpetbagger Jon Ossoff to lose to Karen Handel in the special election for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District. If they had, they would not have poured unprecedented millions into the race. No one but gambling addicts intentionally waste that kind of money.

For all the talk about President Donald Trump’s being in trouble, the Democratic Party is on the ropes. Democrats are in the minority in the federal and state legislative branches, and they’ve now sustained five consecutive losses in special House elections. The Federal Election Commission reports that the Democratic National Committee raised only $4.3 million in May — the worst May for fundraising since 2003. April efforts were almost as dismal.

I can’t remember the last time I heard Democrats beating themselves up this intensely and openly. “Our brand is worse than Trump,” Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, said. “We can’t just run against Trump.” Ouch. Other Democratic leaders are signaling signs of mutiny against House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

On the other hand, some Democrats insist these losses are a portent of great things to come. Former Sen. Barbara Boxer says Democrats will do fine in 2018. Likewise, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Ben Ray Lujan says, “The House is in play (in 2018).” He wrote, “I don’t make this statement lightly — I’ve never said it before. … This is about much more than one race.”

But, Rep. Lujan, there hasn’t been just one race; there’ve been five. If Democrats actually have unprecedented grass-roots energy and impressive candidates but still can’t win, what does that say about your party’s predicament?

Then again, Democrats can’t even agree whether Ossoff was a good candidate. They expressed no doubts before the election, especially not to their witless Hollywood sugar daddies when soliciting funds for this mega-hyped wunderkind.

The Democrats are Bankrupt

The Democrats’ problem is that they are intellectually and morally bankrupt, as I argued in my 2006 book, Bankrupt. It’s not that they don’t have policy ideas. It’s that their ideas don’t work, so they just attack and demonize Republicans. Though Trump is often a convenient target, they would (and did) crucify any Republican president in office. And despite the leftward cultural shift of the nation and their virtual monopoly on academia, the mainstream media and Hollywood, their polices are not that popular with the American people, so they can’t afford to be completely honest about them.

Ossoff, for example, was hardly running as a liberal. Why would liberals tout a candidate who wasn’t running as a liberal unless they knew he was pretending? More importantly, why would this darling of the left have run as a moderate — unless he and his party knew he wouldn’t have stood a chance had he run as a liberal Democrat?

The truth is not the Democrats’ friend. They are engaging in stunning deceit over President Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia and claims that he obstructed an investigation. Not only was there no obstruction but also Trump had no incentive to obstruct an investigation into something that didn’t occur.

Even the Democrats’ feigned outrage over Russian “interference with our democracy” is a sham. It would be one thing if the Russians had disseminated lies about Hillary Clinton, but instead they exposed damaging truths about her. Without defending Russian perfidy, did that actually hurt the democratic process in the sense of informing voters? What does harm the democratic process is the Democrats’ assault on the integrity of the voting process, from blocking voter ID laws to facilitating the voting of immigrants who are here illegally. And if Democrats were so committed to the democratic process, they would quit trying to nullify the will of the people with manufactured Hail Mary impeachment attempts.

Now, Their Bankruptcy is Starting to Show

Truth be told, nothing would hurt the Democrats more than an authentic referendum on their policy agenda — a legitimate unfolding of the democratic process they profess to treasure. Knowing this, they do everything they can to make elections about anything but their policies.

They know, for instance, that Obamacare is a failure and a poster child for failed liberal policies. Yet as premiums and deductibles skyrocket and choice and quality of care plummet, they barely concede that it is problematic. Their “policy” argument is to say Republicans want to hurt and kill Americans by repealing and replacing their abominable plan. On taxes, immigration and other policies, we are simply mean-spirited bigots. These tired lies are all they have.

But the Democratic establishment is nothing if not arrogant and unimaginative. Though focus groups and elections reveal that even Democratic voters are sick of these bottomless and unfruitful Russian investigations, they are going to keep beating this dead horse, hoping it comes to life.

Democrats are welcome to fool themselves into believing they’ve dealt Trump a deathblow, but his approval ratings aren’t much lower than when he took office — despite their endless slandering. They have nothing new against Trump. They are just recycling the criticisms they made during the election campaign, which he won.

Let the Democrats keep hallucinating and dissembling. Let them keep lying about Trump — because with every passing day, their bankruptcy is more apparent. But in the meantime, pray that President Trump will resist the temptation to be distracted by these sordid Democratic efforts to undermine our democracy. Instead of focusing too much energy on defending himself, he needs to reignite a fire under the American people — and particularly Republicans — to move forward with his agenda. This week, with his uplifting speech in Iowa and the Senate’s rollout of a health care bill, could be a promising reboot.



David Limbaugh is a writer, author and attorney. His latest book is The True Jesus: Uncovering the Divinity of Christ in the Gospels. Follow him on Twitter @davidlimbaugh and his website at www.davidlimbaugh.com.


Article source: https://stream.org/democratic-party-bankrupt-ever/

Military Photo of the Day: Daddy’s Home!

By Tom Sileo

Published on June 23, 2017

The USS Somerset‘s executive officer hugs his children after the ship returned to its homeport of San Diego, Calif., on May 15, 2017.

Welcome home, hero!

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Article source: https://stream.org/military-photo-of-the-day-june-23-2017/

VA Secretary Says This Bureaucratic Fix Could Help Prevent Veteran Suicides

The Department of Veterans Affairs and Defense Department will soon have the same medical data, ending a turf battle for what Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin said will bring “seamless” information.

Shulkin said having an electronic health record, or EHR, that follows a veteran from the time he enlists could address the problem of veteran suicides.

“My top clinical priority is to reduce veteran suicide,” Shulkin told reporters last week during a White House press briefing. “One of the areas that we’ve identified is a gap in the transition, when you leave the military and all of a sudden you no longer have that structure that you were used to, and what happens to you before you get enrolled into either VA health care or community health care.”

He added:

That no longer is going to happen. We’re going to have a seamless ability to make sure that information is there. So to a veteran who’s experiencing emotional disorders, when they reach out for help it’s going to be easier to get them help. For other people who have physical problems, that same information is going to be there, so you can develop a coordinated care plan.

The VA and DOD currently have separate but interoperable systems, which means the two systems are designed to share electronic health records. The change is that now both departments will share the same records system.

For the past 17 years, members of Congress, and seven blue ribbon commissions, have called for modernizing and integrating the Defense Department and VA medical records system, Shulkin said. This will allow a “seamless link between the departments without the manual or electronic exchange of information,” he said.

Shulkin told The Daily Signal during the briefing that governmental turf wars have delayed a more immediate fix.

“One of the things that we’re doing differently in this administration is that we’re essentially eliminating some of the silos and turf battles,” Shulkin said. “If you put the veteran and the service member first, you would come to the conclusion that we’ve come to today. But nobody likes to give up power and control over their system.”

He added that his department is proud of having developed the first major electronic medical record system.

“This was done over 30 years ago by brave clinicians who went on their own and developed this,” he said. “So giving this up, I do not want to underestimate how difficult that will be for people in the Department of Veterans Affairs. Change is not easy. But when you’ve had that for 30 years, it’s going to be really hard. So this is a major decision for the Department of Veterans Affairs.”

The VA is moving away from its Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture, or VistA, developed in the 1970s, and will adopt the DOD’s Cerner Millennium MHS GENESIS system. In doing so, the VA is forgoing a competitive bid process.

“I’m not willing to put this decision off any longer; I think 17 years has been too long,” Shulkin said. “When DOD went through its decision on electronic medical records and its acquisition process in 2014, it took them approximately 26 months to do this, and I will tell you, in government terms, that’s actually a pretty efficient process. I don’t think we can wait that long when it comes to the health of our veterans.”


Fred Lucas is the White House correspondent for The Daily Signal. Send an email to Fred. @FredLucasWH

Copyright 2017 The Daily Signal

Article source: https://stream.org/va-secretary-says-bureaucratic-fix-help-prevent-veteran-suicides/

Unbelievable? Interview With Justin Brierley About His New Book

Justin Brierley is the host of “Unbelievable?,” the U.K.-based apologetics radio/podcast show (which is one of my personal favorites!). I have had the privilege of being on the program twice to discuss the martyrdom of the apostles and talk about why I am a Christian with Ryan Bell, the pastor-turned-atheist.

For over ten years, Justin has been leading discussions between Christians and atheists, and yet he still believes in God. This Thursday he releases a new book Unbelievable?, which I had the privilege to endorse. In the U.K., it is available here: www.unbelievablebook.co.uk. Brierley offers some lessons from his conversations as well as the evidence he finds most compelling. Check out this interview and consider ordering a copy of his excellent book:

Sean McDowell: My guess is that a lot of people believed your show “Unbelievable?” wouldn’t be successful? Yet it has! Why do you think it has been so well received?

Justin Brierley: The show brings together Christian and non-Christian points of view. And when it began on Premier Christian Radio, there were plenty of Christian listeners who didn’t appreciate hearing atheists on their airwaves! But, as it turns out, there were also plenty of believers who wanted to break out of the Christian “bubble” and learn how to engage fruitfully with skeptics.

Then, when we began podcasting the show, it really took off around the world, as both Christians and non-Christians started to download it. The people who listen tend to be those who enjoy high quality discussions in which the other side really gets made to work hard to defend their worldview.

The comment I frequently get from folk who listen in the States (both Christian and non-Christian) is, “We don’t have anything like this on our radio stations,” so I think it meets a need for better quality conversations than we often hear in our media.

McDowell: What are some insights you’ve learned from moderating controversial conversations between Christians and people of opposing views?

Brierley: First, that there’s no need to be afraid, even when we encounter powerful objections.

The new atheists aren’t bringing objections to faith that are actually all that new. Someone somewhere will have thought about it and made a response! If you hear a strong objection for the first time, then be patient and look into it, and then respond. Too often Christians respond out of fear rather than love when they hear their faith being attacked.

Over time, after hearing so many objections, I’ve learned to understand that there are only a limited number of them, and they often fall under a particular category. That give me the confidence to mentally sort and sift objections without having a knee-jerk response.

Second, the way we have the conversation is just as important as the arguments we make.

It’s sometimes said that you can win the argument but still lose the person. I’ve seen some great debaters who were terrible advocates for Christianity because of the way they conduct themselves. Treating people with the “gentleness and respect,” advised by 1 Peter 3:15, means that they are much more likely to listen to you. And that actually works both ways — for both Christians and skeptics who want to persuade people.

McDowell: Given your experience hosting radio debates, what do you think are the most important traits for Christians to be effective communicators today?

Brierley: I think many Christians need to learn the art of having a good conversation.

We live in an age where people are far less willing to be “talked down to” than they used to be. Nowadays, in education, work projects and many areas of life we expect to be included in a dialogue rather than told what to think. Unfortunately, many Christians take the same approach to talking to non-believers as the preaching they see modeled in church. But that won’t do, as it will often feel like a lecture and rankles with most people outside a church context.

That’s why I think the typical debate format (where each side takes an allotted amount of time) is also starting to be replaced by public conversations that are more like the “Unbelievable?” format. It’s more natural and relational, and you end up learning more both about the topic and the people involved.

So Christians need to learn to both speak and listen more in order to have good conversations. We need to be wary of thinking that having longwinded arguments on social media will do any good (I think they have very limited value). Maybe spend that time actually plugging in with a person in “real life.” That’s how the vast majority of people in the history of the world have come to faith!

Finally, when you do try to persuade people that Christianity makes sense, keep the main thing the main thing. There are a million different things we can disagree about, but if there is a God and Jesus rose from the dead, then a lot of the rest is secondary.

McDowell: You have a new book coming out called Unbelievable? Why, after ten years of talking with atheists, I’m still a Christian. There’s a ton of apologetics books available now, so what makes this one unique?

Brierley: Hopefully this book will be of interest to those who have listened to “Unbelievable?,” as it will give you an insight into many of the conversations and people who have been on the show. For example, how I finally managed to bag an interview with Richard Dawkins after years of trying!

I think it will also be interesting for those who have heard me in the role of a neutral moderator for a long time, to find out what I think are the strongest arguments for Christianity and how I’ve handled the objections personally too.

For those who have never heard of the show however, I hope it will still be a helpful resource as it presents arguments for God and Christianity in the context of real conversations, Often we tend to be presented with a pre-packaged sort of apologetics. Real life is never that simple however. It’s helpful to see what this stuff looks like when there is someone pushing back.

At the same time, I think that my experience moderating and communicating the discussions over so many years has given me an ability to convey arguments for faith in an understandable way. There are many apologetics books that don’t appeal to “ordinary” Christians, but I hope this one will.

Lastly, I also wrote this with the non-believing reader in mind. My hope is that, just as both Christians and non-Christians listen to the show, this book will be accessible to both as well.

McDowell: What do you think are the toughest questions skeptics raise to Christians? And what are some helpful points you would offer in response?

Brierley: The toughest questions are usually the ones that have been around the longest and asked the most frequently. For me that would be the problem of why a Loving God allows evil and suffering. It’s a question on many minds here in the U.K. following two dreadful terror attacks.

When responding to that question, it’s important to establish why it’s being asked. For someone who is going through pain or a tragedy, they probably don’t need a logical answer at the point. They need to be loved and cared for.

But when the time does come for answers, then it’s always worth pointing out that we don’t really solve the problem of suffering by getting rid of God. While suffering in a Christian context is certainly a mystery, on atheism it is simply meaningless.

I think we also need to be prepared to challenge people’s picture of God. Many people come to the question assuming that God’s job is essentially that of a divine childminder — keeping us safe, secure and comfortable. But if God’s primary purpose is to bring people into a meaningful relationship with Him, then it may be that he can work through suffering as part of that. It is often only through difficult circumstances that people come to trust in God, whereas we forget about God when our lives are comfortable.

Ultimately, the most profound thing we can offer to anyone is that God knows what it is like to suffer. Christianity is unique among all the religions and worldviews for its claim that God himself suffered with and us and for us on the cross. That doesn’t answer all our questions but it has inspired countless people to hold on through pain.



Sean McDowell, Ph.D., is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, best-selling author, popular speaker, part-time high school teacher and the Resident Scholar for Summit Ministries, California. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog: seanmcdowell.org.

Article source: https://stream.org/unbelievable-interview-justin-brierley-new-book/

9th Circuit Upholds Injunction on Trump’s Second Travel Ban

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an injunction barring enforcement of key provisions of President Donald Trump’s second executive order on refugees and migrants Monday, finding the president exceeded his lawful authority in issuing the directive.

The 9th Circuit’s decision comes as the Supreme Court reviews a petition submitted by the Department of Justice to review a separate ruling from the 4th Circuit, which also barred enforcement of the order.

The ruling keeps two provisions of the order from taking effect: the first suspends migration from six countries with high instances of terror, and the second reduces the number of refugees the U.S. will accept from 110,000 to 50,000.

“[I]mmigration, even for the President, is not a one-person show,” the court wrote. “The President’s authority is subject to certain statutory and constitutional restraints. We conclude that the President, in issuing the Executive Order, exceeded the scope of the authority delegated to him by Congress.”

The 9th Circuit’s ruling is largely restricted to a textual analysis of the relevant immigration law, unlike other federal courts who have concentrated their inquiry on constitutional arguments. The court argues that a careful reading of the Immigration and Nationality Act — the law the administration cites to justify the legality of the travel ban — reveals that the administration has not shown that the order is lawful.

The court explains:

Section 1182(f) requires that the President find that the entry of a class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States. This section requires that the President’s findings support the conclusion that entry of all nationals from the six designated countries, all refugees, and refugees in excess of 50,000 would be harmful to the national interest. There is no sufficient finding in EO2 that the entry of the excluded classes would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.

The court discusses at some length the various ways in which the administration failed to show that migrant and refugee entry would be detrimental to the national interest; among other claims, the court says the order does not show that nationality alone makes one at heightened security risk, or that current vetting procedures are inadequate for national security.

The court also points out that the order is, in some ways, under inclusive, as it would not hinder a terrorist who was radicalized in one of the six countries named in the order, but was born some place else.

Though the ruling comes as the Supreme Court is grappling with the travel ban litigation arising from the 4th Circuit, it is still a major development. The 4th Circuit’s ruling found that Trump’s order creates the perception that the administration’s purpose is to pursue a policy that disparages Muslims, a violation of the Constitution’s ban on establishing religion.

This ruling put the Supreme Court in a difficult position. The justices will generally avoid weighing in on constitutional questions when it can, — especially where those questions are novel or controversial — and are loath to take up ongoing political controversies. The 9th Circuit’s ruling provides a basis for the high court to leave the travel ban on hold without engaging the contentious constitutional issues the 4th Circuit raises.

This is breaking news. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.



Follow Kevin on TwitterSend tips to kevin@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

Copyright 2017 Daily Caller News Foundation

Article source: https://stream.org/9th-circuit-upholds-injunction-trumps-second-travel-ban/

Gov Signs Bill That Would Put Prayer Back Into Florida Schools

Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill Friday that protects students’ right to lead prayers and religious gatherings in Florida schools, despite ardent criticism from the left.

The Florida Student and Personnel Religious Liberties Act, or SB 436, ensures that students of every grade in Florida schools have the right to pray, lead prayers, and organize and participate in religious activities and organizations before, during, and after school, without fear of discrimination or punishment. The bill also affords school faculty the right to participate in student initiated religious activities.

The bill proved contentious, according to a report from the Bradenton Herald, as Democrats in the Florida legislature cited concerns that the bill would foster alienation of and discrimination against specifically non-Christian students. This sentiment echoes Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders’ recent scolding of a Christian nominee for Deputy Budget Director.

Democratic state Sen. Kevin Rader labeled the bill “religiously coercive, divisive, and unconstitutional.”

Republican state Sen. Dennis Baxley, the author of the bill, disagreed. “Part of what we’re protecting is those basic rights for religious expression, which are protected speech,” Baxley said. “And we’re letting people know it doesn’t stop at the property line of the school site. We owe our educators some clarity on this so it can be applied uniformly across the state in a way that respects all faiths.”

The bill has also drawn harsh criticism from outside the Florida legislature, with the Anti-Defamation League, an organization devoted to fighting antisemitism, and Equality Florida, an LGBT advocacy group, expressing concerns that the bill would actually encourage Christians to use religion as a tool of discrimination.

“I don’t think we’re the ones that are intolerant at this stage,” Baxley told the Miami Herald. “Maybe that was true at some point in history, but right now, that’s not where the intolerance is coming from.”

While some argued that the bill was redundant, as the U.S. Constitution already protects the free exercise of religion, proponents of the bill, like Republican state Sen. Rob Bradley, expressed a need for clearer protection of that right in what they see as a growing climate of hostility toward persons of faith.

“The pendulum has swung way, way too far, to a situation where teachers, parents, and students are afraid to express things that are important to them, their core beliefs,” Bradley said.

The religious liberty bill passed through the state legislature, despite its controversy, as part of a package deal to pass another bill that modifies to Florida’s “Stand Your Ground Law.”



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Copyright 2017 Daily Caller News Foundation

Article source: https://stream.org/gov-signs-bill-put-prayer-back-florida-schools/

Truth of Syrian Boy Breaks Interventionist Narrative

Most Americans do not know Omran Daqneesh’s name. But nearly everyone knows his face. In 2016, footage of the young Syrian boy went viral. He became the face of a mainstream media narrative urging intervention in Syria.

As I reported at The Stream last year:

There have been several spikes of gruesome, heartbreaking viral reportage on the Assad regime’s aggressive actions against jihadist cells in Aleppo. One of the first viral images was of a little boy, bloodied and covered in powder and rubble from the latest bombing. Too stunned to even cry, no parents in sight, sitting momentarily alone in an ambulance chair after busy rescue workers rushed to aid more civilian victims.

Along with the rest of the world, I was moved to tears.

But now Omran Daqneesh’s family has come forward with a story that flies in the face of that narrative. Omran’s father Mohamad Kheir Daqneesh complains his son was used for war “propaganda.” He says it was rebel “gunmen” who took Omran to the ambulance to be filmed.

What Daqneesh Says Happened

As the New York Times reported on Tuesday, Daqneesh says one of his sons was killed in Aleppo. While Daqneesh gathered his family, anti-government activists “took Omran.” Then they “got him to the ambulance, where they filmed him.”

“It was against my will,” he says.

Later, he was pressured by Syrian rebels to “talk against the Syrian regime and the State.” He was offered money. He was even intimidated by armed militants. They threatened to kidnap Omran. “They wanted to use his photo and use him. …”

The Syrian military eventually routed the rebel cells from Aleppo. Like thousands of other civilians, Daqneesh chose to live in the government-controlled city rather than move to the rebel-held Idlib province.

Publications like the New York Times Still Want War

The first half of Tuesday’s New York Times report does not inform readers. Instead, it purports to explain why Mohamad Daqneesh should not be taken seriously. Daqneesh is not quoted until the ninth paragraph.

Daqneesh is not quoted until the ninth paragraph.

The article refers to Daqneesh’s testimony as “part of a calculated public relations campaign by the Syrian government.” This claim seems disingenuous coming from a publication engaged in a calculated campaign for war.

“Syrians appearing on state television or on channels associated with the Assad government are not able to speak freely,” the article warns.

So far so good. But the report shows no such skepticism about the claims of Syrian rebel groups. The authors even admit the New York Times got Omran Daqneesh’s age wrong last year. Their faulty information came from anti-government activists in Syria.

The article weakly argues that the misreported age shows “how difficult it has been to verify the facts of his story.” What it really shows is the mainstream media’s unhesitating trust of the Syrian opposition. The New York Times simply reported their claims without verification last year.

Last year, thanks to a highly coordinated media campaign, Omran Daqneesh’s face was everywhere. That face brought the U.S. to the brink of war.

Mainstream media outlets often treat Syrian rebels as heroic underdogs. But the opposition has a history of mixing with terrorist organizations that represent an existential threat to the region.

According to a U.N. investigator, rebels even launched a sarin gas attack on civilians in an effort to frame the Assad regime in 2013.

The Stakes are High

Last year, thanks to a highly coordinated media campaign, Omran Daqneesh’s face was everywhere. That face brought the U.S. to the brink of war.

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton threatened strikes in Syria. She planned to confront the Russian presence in Syria. Prominent Republicans agreed with her. The aggressive rhetoric moved Senator Rand Paul to warn of “World War III.”

Middle Eastern minorities have pleaded against such threats for years. U.S. support for regime-toppling rebel groups attracts Jihadists bent on destabilizing and then dominating the region.

Ultimately, this leads to genocide. Middle Eastern Christians have not forgotten the tens of thousands slaughtered or displaced by genocidal Jihad. This is what happened in the wake of American interventions against the governments of Iraq and Libya.

As Stream columnist Jason Scott Jones argues, Americans should also remember how such interventions are sold to the American public: With emotionally charged images just like the footage of Omran Daqneesh, and trumped-up stories that were only discredited long after they had served their bloody purpose.

Publications like the New York Times tell us not to trust Syrians like Mohamad Daqneesh. But with so many lives at stake, and the live options so stark, the onus is on those calling for war. Not the other way around.

Article source: https://stream.org/syrian-boy-breaks-interventionist-narrative/

Gay Pride Month and the ‘Shot Heard Round the World’

 Quick quiz: According to statements published by the U.S. government, where was the shot fired that was “heard round the world”? Lexington and Concord, you say?

Good answer — but you’re only halfway there. There was another “shot heard round the world,” says the National Park Service. That one was in June 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in New York City, where two nights of rioting “led to the development of the modern LGBT civil rights movement.”

The Gay-Rights “Shot Heard Round the World”

You read that right. The U.S. government has co-opted Ralph Waldo Emerson’s deeply symbolic phrase to make the birth of the gay rights movement symbolically equal to the birth of our own country. To fill in the rest of the quotation:

The riots inspired LGBT people throughout the country to organize and within two years of Stonewall, LGBT rights groups had been started in nearly every major city in the U.S. Stonewall was, as historian Lillian Faderman wrote, “the shot heard round the world … crucial because it sounded the rally for the movement.”

There’s history at Stonewall, to be sure. And its reach was indeed global. The month of June is now designated “Pride Month,” and almost 150 gay pride festivals are scheduled in cities around the world. 

But what does this mean for true freedom? 

The Depth of Our National Confusion

It’s worth noting that Lillian Faderman’s full quote read, “to many homosexuals, male and female alike, the Stonewall Rebellion was the shot heard round the world” (emphasis added).

I give her credit for identifying the group who might have seen it that way. The Park Service’s version leaves that out, making it a statement for us all.

I shudder to think of how celebrations in 2017 would have turned out if Stonewall had happened a week later that year, on July 4. As far as I can tell, the White House has never been lit up in red, white, and blue. We’ve all got images seared on our brains, though, of it lit up in the six rainbow colors of the gay rights movement. 

For there is freedom, and there is freedom.

This isn’t just happening on some obscure web page, in other words. The gay rights movement has become America’s new freedom movement. It perfectly depicts the depth of our national confusion.

Freedom Based in the Image of God

For there is “freedom,” and there is freedom.

There is the freedom for which our forefathers fought at Lexington, Concord and beyond. It was a view of liberty rooted in a biblical understanding of what it means to be human.

They knew that humans are made in the image of God. We’re not just today’s snapshot in some ever-changing course of evolution. Instead human nature is a stable, enduring, real. We have a moral nature based in God’s own character. We have a well-designed sexual nature, based in God’s plan for us as individuals, couples and families who build communities and cultures together. We have a destiny based on how we relate to God in Christ and to each other in accordance with God’s design for us.

Argue all you want about whether America was founded as a Christian nation, there’s no denying that our founders’ view of human nature that was deeply influenced by the Bible’s view of humanity. Even Thomas Jefferson, who was no Christian, knew at our inalienable rights come from our Creator. Not government, not courts, not even (later on) our Constitution.

Our founders fought for freedom from political tyranny that kept them from determining their own course. Their fight was never for the “freedom” to do whatever anyone chose, though. Quite the opposite. As Benjamin Franklin said, “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.” Freedom was not merely the ability to do as one wanted; it was the ability to do as one ought.

Or Freedom Based in Making Ourselves Our Own Creators

With all thought of a Creator cast aside, “freedom” now means being able to create ourselves after our own wills.

That’s the freedom for which the shots were fired at Lexington and Concord. Stonewall’s freedom has almost nothing to do with that. With all thought of a Creator cast aside, “freedom” now means being able to create ourselves after our own wills. Not satisfied with your sex? Create yourself all over again! Not content with the morality that’s held the Western world together – in spite of various wars and injustices – for centuries? Call it off! Re-make marriage while you’re at it!

And why not? The view now is that nothing about us is fixed. We’re evolving, so we can make ourselves whatever we decide to be. The same goes for human purpose and moral standards: There’s nothing there but what’s evolved over the eons, but we can alter that, too, as we will.

Our Choice: Celebrating Freedom or Free Fall

I can’t think of anything else that so clearly shows the depth of our national confusion.

We claim this as a new-found freedom. But we’re like the kite that yearned to fly high and away, free of the string it thought was holding it down. Freedom? No. Free fall.

Yet this is the freedom our own Park Service symbolically equates with Lexington and Concord. The patriotism of red, white and blue is being displaced by the spectrum of the gay rainbow.

America was never perfect. It took us way too long to recognize that human rights belong to everyone. Still we got there in law and (to an obviously lesser, yet still helpful, degree) in practice. The shots fired at Lexington and Concord led ultimately to our country becoming the world’s greatest champion for true freedom. The shot fired at Stonewall is leading us in another direction altogether.

The LGBT crowd will be celebrating their “pride” this month. That’s their choice. Our own Park Service seems to be saying everyone else is obliged to join them. I can’t think of anything else that so clearly shows the depth of our national confusion.


(I owe some of my reflections on this to a conversation this week with John Stonestreet, president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview.)

Article source: https://stream.org/gay-pride-month-shot-heard-round-the-world/

If Wonder Woman Can Get the Job Done Pregnant, So Can You

This image released by Warner Bros. Entertainment shows Gal Gadot in a scene from Wonder Woman.


Published on June 8, 2017

The new superhero movie Wonder Woman is blowing away expectations and crashing through glass ceilings with an opening weekend that brought in $100 million domestically — a record for a movie directed by a woman.

But here’s another fun fact that shows you can proudly be pro-mom and pro-career woman: Israeli actress Gal Gadot was five months pregnant with her second child when she did re-shoot scenes for the movie that included a climactic battle scene.

To get around her then-visible baby bump, costumers cut an ample triangle on her iconic suit and replaced it with a bright green cloth that allowed the movie’s special effects team to change her figure post-production.

Given the prevailing negative news that shows women facing all sorts of career challenges by wanting to have a baby, it’s refreshing to see a successful woman embrace her pregnancy and still do an exceptional job.

Because by five months (especially with your second child), your belly is likely extended to support a baby that is about the size of a banana from head to rump. From sore muscles to headaches and heartburn, it is understandable that pregnant women might not feel like superheroes, but their contribution to America’s future is crucial.

According to Mollie Ziegler Hemingway in The Heritage Foundation’s 2016 Index of Culture and Opportunity, America’s fertility rate — the average number of children a woman has over her lifetime — has been on the decline for the past decade.

In addition to posing risks to the general economy, a declining fertility rate poses risks to our military, entitlement state, and even the growth and vitality of houses of worship and community health centers.

With many millennial women delaying marriage and even having children, it is important they see successful peers not letting careers stop them from taking on one of the toughest jobs out there — the job of physically bearing a child and rearing it.


Copyright 2017 The Daily Signal

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Article source: https://stream.org/wonder-woman-can-get-job-done-pregnant-can/

Bernie Sanders Just Applied a Religious Test to a Christian Nominee for Public Office

The U.S. Constitution prohibits the use of a “religious test” for any office or public trust. But Bernie Sanders got very close to doing just on Wednesday. It was during the confirmation hearing for President Trump’s nominee for deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget. 

During Russell Vought’s confirmation hearing, Sanders took issue with an article Vought wrote for conservative website The Resurgent in January 2016, reported The Atlantic. In his article, Vought defended a Christian school that had fired a professor for expressing solidarity with Muslims. Sanders objected to Vought’s statement in the article: “Muslims do not simply have a deficient theology. They do not know God because they have rejected Jesus Christ his Son, and they stand condemned.”

Sanders objected. “In my view, the statement made by Mr. Vought is indefensible, it is hateful, it is Islamophobic, and it is an insult to over a billion Muslims throughout the world,” Sanders told the committee at the hearing. “This country, since its inception, has struggled, sometimes with great pain, to overcome discrimination of all forms … we must not go backwards.”

Later Sanders asked Vought, “Do you believe that statement is Islamophobic?” “Absolutely not, Senator,” said Vought. “I’m a Christian, and I believe in a Christian set of principles based on my faith.”

Sanders continued to berate and interrupt Vought. “I don’t know how many Muslims there are in America, I really don’t know, probably a couple million. Are you suggesting that all of those people stand condemned? What about Jews? Do they stand condemned too?” Vought replied that he was a Christian, but Sanders quickly cut him off. “I understand you are a Christian. But this country is made up of people who are not just — I understand that Christianity is the majority religion. But there are other people who have different religions in this country and around the world. In your judgment, do you think that people who are not Christians are going to be condemned?”

Vought tried to explain the concept of imago dei to Sanders. “As a Christian, I believe that all individuals are made in the image of God and are worthy of dignity and respect, regardless of their religious beliefs. I believe that as a Christian that’s how I should treat all individuals … .” Sanders cut him off again and asked Vought if his comments were respectful of other religions. Vought reminded Sanders that the article he wrote was as a Christian about a Christian university, which “has a statement of faith that speaks clearly with regard to the centrality of Jesus Christ in salvation.”

In response, Sanders told the committee: “I would simply say, Mr. Chairman, that this nominee is really not someone who is what this country is supposed to be about. I will vote no.”

Russell Moore, president of the Ethics Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention responded to Sanders’ religious test in the hearing.

Senator Sanders’ comments are breathtakingly audacious and shockingly ignorant — both of the Constitution and of basic Christian doctrine. Even if one were to excuse Senator Sanders for not realizing that all Christians of every age have insisted that faith in Jesus Christ is the only pathway to salvation, it is inconceivable that Senator Sanders would cite religious beliefs as disqualifying an individual for public office in defiance of the United States Constitution. No religious test shall ever be required of those seeking public office. While no one expects Senator Sanders to be a theologian, we should expect far more from an elected official who has taken an oath to support and defend the Constitution.

Article source: https://stream.org/bernie-sanders-just-applied-religious-test-christian-nominee-public-office/

D-Day 73rd Anniversary: Remembering the Brave and FDR’s Prayer

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity. 

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith. 

They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph. 

They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest — until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war. 

For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and good will among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home. 

Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

And for us at home — fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas — whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them — help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice. 

Many people have urged that I call the Nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts. 

Give us strength, too — strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces. 

And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be. 

And, O Lord, give us Faith. Give us Faith in Thee; Faith in our sons; Faith in each other; Faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose. 

With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister Nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil. 

Thy will be done, Almighty God.


Article source: https://stream.org/anniversary-of-the-normandy/

Seattle Passes Massive ‘Job-Killing’ Tax on Sugary Drinks

In this May 18, 2015, file photo, a Coca Cola truck is seen driving through downtown Seattle.


Published on June 6, 2017

Officials in Seattle passed the second largest Soda Tax in the U.S. Monday in an effort to close “the food security gap” and dissuade residents from buying sugary drinks.

The Seattle City Council approved the measure in a 7-1 vote, placing a 1.75 cents per ounce tax on beverages containing sugar. Councilman Tim Burgess, who sponsored the tax after Democratic Mayor Ed Murray proposed the idea in February, argues soda and other drinks are a threat to public health.

“Liquid sugar has zero nutritional benefits,” he said, according to The Washington Post.

The tax will be implemented at the distribution level, meaning that retailers will likely be forced to pass on the extra cost to consumers. It is second only to Boulder, Colo., as the city with the highest soda tax in the U.S.

“The City Council turned its back today on small business owners and working families with this job-killing tax that will drive up costs and further increase income inequality in Seattle,” said a statement from the business coalition Keep Seattle Livable for All. “Those who can afford this tax the least will be hurt the most.”

Critics argue it will disproportionately impact minority communities and low-income families by spiking the cost of hundreds of popular drinks. Activists in favor of the tax said it is a victory that will go towards “closing the food security gap.” The revenue raised by the tax will be invested in programs that help working-class families buy healthy food.

The city is following the example of Philadelphia, which imposed a 1.5 cents per ounce soda tax in January, drawing the ire of business owners and residents. By the end of February, beverage sales had cratered 30 to 50 percent and forced layoffs to offset the new costs.

Many residents are now going shopping for their beverages out of the city to avoid the onerous tax.


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Copyright 2017 Daily Caller News Foundation

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  • Big Brother has spoken!!!!!!!!

Article source: https://stream.org/seattle-passes-massive-soda-tax/

Political Correctness Won Trump the Presidency

It’s been seven months. Still many of us are trying to understand how Trump won the election last fall. I sure didn’t see it coming. All the surveys predicted a Clinton victory. Trump did plenty to make him unattractive to large groups of voters. Racism was a special concern, due to his comments about Hispanic “rapists,” his flirting with white nationalism and his talk of Muslim bans.

Political Correctness: The Underlying Cause?

I have been, and I still am, concerned with the way Trump handles racial issues. So I was not surprised to see The Nation reporting research by Sean McElwee and Jason McDaniel suggesting racism as a major reason explaining support for Trump. But a further look at this claim is not convincing, since I knew there were large numbers of previous Obama supporters who voted for Trump in 2016.

I remember talking to Trump supporters who wanted to “burn it down.” This confused me at the time, but now I believe they just hated Political Correctness.

So I thought a better answer could probably be found elsewhere. Looking around, I found this Clearer Thinking analysis of 138 factors that might have influenced voters to choose one candidate over the other. I have questions about the methods, but we’ll bypass those.

The key is that other than belonging to the Republican Party, the best predictor of whether a person voted for Trump was whether he or she hated political correctness (PC). More than half (54 percent) of Trump’s vote came from those who totally agreed that there is too much PC in America. This is in contrast to racial issues, such as immigration, for example. Only 21 percent of Trump’s vote came from those who totally agreed that immigrants threaten American customs and values.

This makes sense to me. The way Trump offended certain groups supported the idea that he would fight PC. I remember talking to Trump supporters who wanted to “burn it down.” I was confused by this at the time, but now I think what they wanted was to burn down PC rules. These were not racists, they were people who hated PC.

Can This Explain the Perceived “Racial Resentment”?

Of course there were still some Trump voters who were attracted to the white nationalist message they believed he was presenting. So I want to be clear: I am not saying racism played no effect in any of Trump’s support. But I fear that some researchers and reports overstate its importance in his election.

For people who truly think that we have defeated racism, efforts to keep on addressing it can seem like “PC”.

Concerns over PC also help to explain research supporting McElwee and McDaniel’s racial resentment argument. They created what they call a “racial resentment” measure, which they describe (rather abrasively) as, “Racial resentment measures dog-whistle or color-blind forms of racism, such as the belief that black people need to simply ‘try harder’ to be successful in America.”

I have my own criticism of colorblindness. I do not think we will advance our race relations by ignoring the effects of racism in our history, or the ways it still impacts people of color today. But when I debate the merits of colorblindness with others, I don’t usually see them as having racial resentment.

Questions about colorblindness may tap into hostility against PC rules, though, since many people think society is fair as it is, and that PC makes it unfair. For people who truly think that we have defeated racism, efforts to keep on addressing it can seem like “PC”. People who voted for Obama five years ago, and Trump last year, did not suddenly turn and start resenting blacks. But they may have grown tired of PC rules over that period of time.

Did Racism Put Trump in the White House?

Research shows that anti-PC attitudes explain whites’ support for Trump better than racism or anti-black resentment.

Now, in the past I have attacked Trump for race-baiting. I’ve argued that Christians were wrong to support him in view of his connection with the alt-right. One may wonder, then, why I criticize the argument about racism. Am I backing down from my own arguments? Not really. I still think Christians are going to pay a price for supporting Trump. It will become more difficult to reach socially conservative people of color. We’ve also badly damaged our witness by tying ourselves to the white nationalism that buttresses Trump. So I have not changed: I have been a critic of Trump in the past and will be one in the future.

But the truth and honesty remain vitally important. The research shows that anti-PC attitudes explain whites’ support for Trump better than racism or anti-black resentment.

I know that many liberals want to tie Trump’s election to racism. I would have no problem doing so if I thought the evidence warranted it. But it does not.

Article source: https://stream.org/political-correctness-trump-presidency/

Here Come the Drag Queens

Make no mistake about it. From the moment gay activists came out of the closet in America, their agenda was clear: Society must get over its anti-gay sentiments and embrace everything gay — and I mean everything.

That’s why many of them were so brazen. They chanted, “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it.”

That’s why gay pride parades were marked by the most offensive elements of the gay community, even if they were not representative of the whole.

That’s why it was drag queens who led the way in the 1969 Stonewall Riots. They were part of the frontline resistance, and they were out, proud and unashamed.

The “Self-Policing Social Code”

To be sure, some gay leaders in the 1980’s realized that this was a self-defeating strategy. If gay activism was to achieve its goals, it would have to put forth a different image, a more family-oriented, less-promiscuous, less-bizarre image.

Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen articulated some of this new strategy in the book After the Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the 90’s (New York: Penguin, 1989, p. 145). They wrote, “The effect of presenting a bigot with an extreme instance of his stereotypic picture/label pair is to augment the strength of the bigotry.”

In other words, we were the bigots, and to present us with the most extreme images of the gay community was to confirm and even heighten our bigotry.

So, Kirk and Madsen called for a “Self-Policing Social Code,” with words of advice like this: “If I’m a Pederast or a Sadomasochist, I’ll Keep It Under Wraps, and Out of Gay Pride Marches.”

They also called for the “conversion of the average American’s emotions, mind, and will, through a planned psychological attack, in the form of propaganda fed to the nation via the media” (p. 153).

And what would this propaganda look like?

Rather than exposing “bigots” like us to images of drag queens in their weird outfits or gay men gyrating in their underwear, we’d be bombarded by images of couples like Dan and Don, who’ve been together for 30 years, along with their adopted son Jason, and their pet dog Molly.

Do such gay couples exist? Of course. Are they more common than drag queens? Maybe so.

But statistics weren’t the issue. Image was the issue. And gay strategists fully understood that America would not embrace their goals as long as the most extreme elements of their society were at the forefront.

Transgender activists understood this strategy as well. That’s why they made a clear distinction between themselves and drag queens. “No, we’re not like them, and this has nothing to do with sexual orientation. We’re just normal people trapped in the wrong body, like little Sammy who’s really Sally.”

Americans could embrace that before they could embrace “Little Hot Mess” the drag queen.

But now that so many of the goals of LGBT activism have been realized, there’s no reason to push some of their own to the back of the bus, so to say.

And what does this mean, practically speaking? It means here come the drag queens.

Here Come the Drag Queens

It was drag queens who put pressure on Facebook in 2014 to change one of its fundamental policies, which required that you had to use your real name, not a made-up name. Before this time, drag queen John Doe could not use the name “Big Suzie Q,” which in his mind was his real name. Facebook apologized and changed its policy.

But that was minor compared to what’s happening today.

A concerned parent from Bloomington, Indiana wrote to me, saying, “Our local library always has a summer reading program for children.” Included was a link with this announcement for parents of children ages 2-6: “Learn about someone new! Local drag queens present stories and encourage us all to embrace our uniqueness.” Yes, for children ages 2-6!

This is perverse and outrageous. “Parents, bring your toddlers and little children to the library where local homosexual men who dress up as flamboyant women will read stories to them.” Here come the drag queens!

But it gets even worse. Much worse.

The Gyrating Drag Queen at a Grade School Talent Show

As Todd Starnes reports, “Parents are furious after children as young as 5-years-old were exposed to an erotic drag show performance at what was supposed to be a school district talent show.”

How bad was it? Take a moment to read some excerpts from the article.

The New York Daily News described the lewd performance as ‘complete with gyrations, tongue gymnastics and a flashed G-string.’” (If this seems vulgar to read – and it is – can you imagine being there with your little kids?)

“The May 25th performance shocked and enraged parents who could not believe the school district would allow a grown man to spread his legs and display his crotch to wide-eyed children.”

One parent “filmed the seven-minute routine on her cell phone and provided me with a copy. It’s jaw-dropping, folks. And when the drag queen dropped to the floor and began writhing in a sexually-suggestive manner, the auditorium erupted.”

Did you get that? This perverse performance was 7 minutes long. In front of 5-year-olds. I’m shocked some parents didn’t walk right up to the stage and shut the whole thing down.

And what happened when this drag queen started writhing on the floor in a sexually-suggestive manor?

“Once he got to that part it was chaos,” parent Raquel Morales said. “People were yelling and leaving. A lot of parents were saying had they known this was going to happen they would have taken their kids out after they had performed.” I would hope so! This is absolute madness.

And how did such a degraded performance take place at all?

“The talent show was emceed by District 4 Superintendent Alexandra Estrella. And the individual who performed in drag was identified as the president of the Public School 96 Parent Association” (my emphasis).

This is sick, and this man needs serious help. (If you’re offended by my saying this, be offended. Truth is sometimes offensive.) The district superintendent needs serious help too. How can these people be trusted with such positions of authority?

The Cat is Out of the Bag

Now, I believe there are gay readers who are also upset as they read this account, saying, “That drag queen does not represent me. What he did is just plain filthy.”

Unfortunately, the cat is now of the bag, and if it’s gay (or trans), it’s got to be good.

That means if a gay couple is monogamish rather than monogamous, we’ve got to embrace it. Gay love is good!

And that means when a boy who identifies as a girl beats the girls at a track meet, we’ve got to celebrate it. You go boy-girl!

And that means when a drag queen wants to read stories to your two-year-old or, better still, gyrate and flash his G-string in front of your 5-year-old, you must show your appreciation.

In other words, our sentiments should be, “You’re here, you’re queer, and we’re used to it. In fact, we love it.”

Count me out of that one, friends. Enough is simply enough.

Article source: https://stream.org/here-come-the-drag-queens/

Defense Sec’y Mattis Seeks Continuity in Policy Toward Asia

SINGAPORE (AP) — The Trump administration is aiming for continuity in Asia policy, sticking broadly with the approach its predecessors have taken by emphasizing diplomacy and cooperation with allies, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Friday.

Mattis outlined the Trump administration’s approach in remarks to reporters traveling with him to Singapore, where he will deliver a policy speech at an international security conference Saturday and meet with several Asian counterparts.

He spoke of “reinforcing the international order” while seeking a “peaceful, prosperous and free Asia” — echoes of the traditional U.S. policy goals — without mentioning the narrower challenges of a nuclear North Korea and a rising China. He is expected to discuss North Korea and China in his Saturday speech.

Upon arriving in Singapore, Mattis scheduled meetings Friday with Singorean and Asian officials.

President Donald Trump raised doubts in Asia when he took office following a campaign in which he sharply criticized Japan and South Korea for not pulling their weight as treaty allies. So far, however, the administration has been more supportive.

“As a Pacific nation, we have enduring interests and commitments in the Asia-Pacific region,” Mattis said aboard his aircraft, referring in part to U.S. defense treaties with Japan, South Korea, Thailand and the Philippines.

“Accordingly, we are demonstrating the priority this administration places on maintaining stability alongside our allies and partners,” he added. The Pentagon’s role, he said, is to reinforce alliances, strengthen U.S. military capabilities to deter war in Asia, and help enable countries to sustain their own security.

Mattis is mindful of emerging threats in Asia, starting with North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and missiles with sufficient range to deliver nuclear strikes on U.S. territory.

Trump has said he is leaning more heavily on China — North Korea’s only significant ally — to contain that threat. At the same time, the administration has repeated the Obama’s administration’s criticisms of China for reclaiming land in areas of the South China that several other nations claim as their own. It’s unclear how far China will go to help on North Korea in the face of South China Sea tensions.

Trump also has used gunboat diplomacy by speaking of a U.S. naval “armada” within range of North Korea and noting the presence of U.S. nuclear submarines in the region.

The U.S. Navy has two aircraft carrier strike groups in waters off the Korean Peninsula, and on Thursday those groups — led by the USS Carl Vinson and the USS Ronald Reagan — began three days of joint exercises, the first in that area since the 1990s.

David Helvey, Mattis’ senior adviser on Asia policy, told reporters on the way to Singapore that the dual carrier exercise is not intended as a provocation. He called it routine but acknowledged that it is the first of its kind in about 20 years.

The exercises are intended to reassure allies, he said, and to keep U.S. forces ready for any crisis.

“This is not about sending a message directly to North Korea,” Helvey said, adding, “I don’t expect this to change North Korea’s behavior.”

In line with Mattis’s emphasis on helping allies defend their own territory while strengthening U.S. military muscle in the region, the U.S. has deployed a missile defense system in South Korea known as a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system. It is intended to protect South Korea from a potential North Korean missile strike.

The new South Korean government has complained that it was not aware of the extent of THAAD deployments on its territory in recent weeks, but Helvey said the U.S. had consulted with Seoul “throughout this process” of deploying the THAAD.

Mattis’s trip is his second to Asia since he took over the Pentagon Jan. 20. He has put heavy emphasis on nurturing alliances and building new partnerships in Asia, echoing the approach of the Obama administration, which built closer ties to India, Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam, and began a rotation of Marine contingents in Australia.

Article source: https://stream.org/defense-secy-mattis-seeks-continuity-policy-toward-asia/

Pentecost2017: The Churches I Love, Because Their People Love

In “Pentecost2017,” Stream editors share personal stories of the ways their fellow believers have changed their lives. Here associate editor Nancy Flory writes about her search for a church home and what the love of others has done for her.

I guess I’m not a stickler for denomination, although I love my church family at St. Michael’s Catholic Church down the street. For part of my childhood I went to the Baptist church. Then my folks decided to have home church for several years. When I was seventeen, we attended a charismatic nondenominational church.

My parents stayed there. I went looking for a church that felt like home. It took me years.

What I Found Out

My journey for a church home was not a straightforward one. I attended a Messianic Jewish Synagogue, a Baptist church, a Covenant church, a Lutheran Church … you get the picture. One day, a girlfriend invited me to a program her church offered for people interested in the Catholic Church. I liked the program and stayed to find out more about it. I loved the Church’s rich history and the servant’s heart I found in many of my new Catholic friends. But I found out more about myself than anything.

I realized that I couldn’t find a church home because it wasn’t about the building. It wasn’t about the denomination. It wasn’t about how far it was from my home. It was about the people.

My brothers and sisters in Christ. They were the catalyst that brought Christianity to life for me. They were the hands and feet of Jesus. They were his love in action.

When I was pregnant and scared, a leader at that church went to the ultrasound with me and held my hand. She expressed joy at the sight of my unborn child. “Sweet baby,” she whispered to me. She didn’t make me feel like I was crazy for being scared. She just walked with me through a difficult time.

Some ladies at another church I attended knew I was struggling financially. They directed me to a food bank, then gave me school supplies for my sons. They ushered me in to see the priest, who prayed with me and comforted me. They talked with me about my situation, without judgment, and helped me where I had a need.

Years later, I attended a protestant church during a particularly difficult time in my life. My husband and son left home for different reasons and I never thought I’d get them back. I began attending one of its small groups. One night I broke down and bawled like a baby. Although it wasn’t protocol, one woman stopped the meeting and asked if everyone could pray for me at that moment.

My brothers and sisters there were a lifeline to me. They brought food, kept me company, babysat my toddler and provided financial help and bodies to help me move across the metroplex. They cried with me. They prayed with me. They loved me.

My Church Home

And that’s the kind of church home I was looking for.

I wanted to be involved and make a difference in the lives of others who were hurting or needed help. I wanted to be part of a community that was committed to loving others even in the worst of times. I once organized a Christmas cookie bake and caroling event for a nursing home because I was inspired by those around me who were changing lives for the better every day. Some of the residents were so lonely they just wanted someone to talk to. I was honored to listen.

It isn’t where you go, or how big the building is. It’s people who love Jesus working to meet the needs of others. It’s loving the people around us.

It’s being the hands and feet of Christ to those in need: the Body of Christ.

Now I’m home.

Article source: https://stream.org/church-love-people-love/

The Nonexistent Case for the Paris Accord

For a bull in the china shop, President Donald Trump has so far gingerly stepped around the Paris climate accord. That dance could end as soon as this week, with Trump deciding whether to stay in or opt out.

Window Dressing

“Out” should be the obvious answer. No U.S. interest is served by remaining part of the accord, which even its supporters say is mostly an exercise in window dressing — that is, when they aren’t insisting that the fate of the planet depends on it.

The treaty’s advocates, hoping to forestall a Trump exit, are trying to save the accord by arguing that it is largely meaningless. In this spirit, a piece on the liberal website Vox explained, the Paris accord “asks participants only to state what they are willing to do and to account for what they’ve done. It is, in a word, voluntary.” In other words, “Nothing to see here, just us climate-change alarmists playing pretend.”

For a bull in the china shop, President Donald Trump has so far gingerly stepped around the Paris climate accord.

Climate Virtue Signaling

And there is indeed much to be said for the worthlessness of Paris. Beijing pledges that China’s emissions will “peak around 2030.” By one estimate, this is when its emissions would peak regardless. So the world’s largest emitter is using the accord as a platform for climate virtue-signaling.

According to Benjamin Zycher of the American Enterprise Institute, even if Paris is fully implemented and you accept the Environmental Protection Agency’s model for how emissions affect warming, it will produce a rounding error’s worth of decline in the global temperature by 2100 — .17 of a degree Celsius.

If Paris is such a nullity, why shouldn’t we simply pull out? This is where its supporters reverse field and contend that it will be a global disaster if the U.S. leaves. Supposedly the moral suasion involved in countries coming up with voluntary targets and having to defend their performance meeting them will drive an ever-escalating commitment to fight global warming.

Witness how hard it is to pull out of the Paris accord now, when it went into effect only last November. In another couple of years, it will acquire the sanctity of the Peace of Westphalia.

Once upon a time, Paris was portrayed as a tool for steadily tightening restrictions on fossil fuels. The Obama team referred to one provision in the accord as “ratcheting up ambition over time.”

Trump Should Get Out Now

Whatever their opportunistic salesmanship at the moment, this clearly is still the goal of the treaty’s supporters and a reason why Trump should get out while the getting is good. International agreements acquire a dead-weight momentum of their own. Witness how hard it is to pull out of the Paris accord now, when it went into effect only last November. In another couple of years, it will acquire the sanctity of the Peace of Westphalia.

The treaty may be notionally voluntary, but climate-change activists will surely hunt for a judge willing to find a reason that the U.S. emission target in the accord is binding. Trump’s unhappy experience in the courts with his travel ban should make him highly sensitive to this judicial threat.

Trump should say farewell to Paris on his own, and never look back.

In the context of Trump’s handling of other international agreements, getting out of Paris shouldn’t be a close call. To have pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership — a free-trade agreement with tangible strategic benefits in Asia — and stay in Paris would be a travesty. To irk our European allies with less than explicit restatements of our commitment to NATO, then placate them by standing by Paris, would be strategic folly.

The shrewdest option would be to submit the agreement to the Senate for ratification, where it certainly would be rejected. President Barack Obama pretended that the treaty was an executive agreement — even though it involves 195 countries, and purports to bind future U.S. presidents — precisely so he could do an end run around the Senate. Honoring the Senate’s constitutional role in considering such a treaty would make it that much harder for the next Democratic president simply to sign on again unilaterally.

Failing that, Trump should say farewell to Paris on his own, and never look back.


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

Copyright 2017 by King Features Syndicate

Article source: https://stream.org/the-nonexistent-case-for-the-paris-accord/

Group Sues Mayor, Police, for Details of Seth Rich Murder Investigation

An independent group investigating the July 2016 murder of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich is suing the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser for information connected to the murder investigation.

The Profiling Project filed the lawsuit in D.C. Superior Court Wednesday morning, asserting that MPD has mismanaged the murder investigation. The group said that MPD’s stonewalling is unjustified.

“The release of this crucial material will help bring peace to the victim’s family, and it will help to either confirm or refute the various theories that swirl about this important murder case,” Washington, D.C. lobbyist and attorney Jack Burkman, who is leading The Profiling Project, asserted in court documents obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation (TheDCNF).

The complaint for injunctive and declaratory relief requests the disclosure of three specific pieces of information in the case; surveillance video footage from a nearby second-floor camera, the Medical Examiner’s report, and the forensic ballistic report.

Rich, 27, was the voter expansion data director at the DNC, according to Roll Call, and had been employed for two years. Rich also worked on a computer application to help voters locate polling stations, and had just accepted a job with Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

According to MPD reports, officers patrolling the Bloomingdale neighborhood heard gunshots around 4:20 a.m. on the morning of July 10, 2016. Officers discovered a “conscious and breathing” Rich at 2100 Flagler Place in northwest Washington, D.C.

Police have not yet solved the case, and Burkman asserts that the case has gone cold.

“MPD began their investigation of the Seth Rich murder on July 12, 2016 and has not released any new information since October 16, 2016,” Burkman asserted. “The case is now clearly a cold case.”

The Profiling Project specifically demanded the release of surveillance footage from a second-floor camera on the Flagler Market, which is just a block north of the murder scene.

Burkman pushed back against the police department’s assertion that release of the information would impede their investigation .

“MPD essentially terminated their efforts in late October 2016. As such, the release of the desired information would not and could not harm MPD’s efforts in any way, as there is no continuing effort,” he argued in the complaint.

MPD has a history of regularly releasing surveillance video to the public pertaining to unsolved criminal investigations. A quick look at the police department’s YouTube channel reveals that they post video footage in cases involving a person of interest. MPD has published 12 videos in the last week alone, to include unsolved murder investigations. Their habit for transparency with unsolved cases raises the question as to why they’ve been so tight-lipped about the Rich case.

MPD surmised that Rich was a victim of a botched robbery (robberies and unsolved acts of violence make up the lion’s share of released MPD videos). Police said that they found his wallet, credit cards and cellphone on his body. The band of his wristwatch was torn but not broken. The current theory maintains that the shooters panicked after shooting Rich and immediately fled the scene.

Burkman teamed up with professors and student volunteers from George Washington University’s Student Association for Forensic Psychology to start The Profiling Project. He said that the group is working with independent professionals on the case.

While Burkman held a press conference with the parents of Seth Rich in November, he is no longer connected to the family.

“The family would like to reiterate that Jack Burkman has no connection to the family, does not represent them or their wishes and that his efforts are completely independent,” Brad Bauman a spokesman for the family, told TheDCNF. “The family remains completely confident in the Metropolitan Police Department’s handling of the case and ability to solve Seth’s murder.”

Despite the confidence, the family itself has called on police to publicize details of the murder investigation after 10 months of mystery. 

In January, Burkman told TheDCNF that he was representing the Rich family in a pro-bono capacity.

“The objective here really is just to get closure for this family,” Burkman said. “This is a young kid in our profession. This could have happened to any of the young people who work for me.”

“While the family still have confidence in the Metropolitan Police Department’s ability to investigate Seth’s murder, of course, they are frustrated with the lack of evidence, leads and credible information about the case,” Bauman told TheDCNF last week. “They desperately want to find Seth’s murderers and bring them to justice as quickly as possible.”

The family wants answers and has been frustrated by the wide range of theories surrounding their son’s death.

Fox News retracted a story May 23 that claimed Rich may have been behind a breach of the DNC’s email servers, where Wikileaks obtained thousands of internal email communications that it leaked to the public.

Rod Wheeler, a Washington-based private investigator that the Rich family agreed to hire at the behest of a wealthy friend, suggested that there was tangible evidence that Rich had communicated with WikiLeaks before his death. The next day, Wheeler seemed to backtrack on those claims, and local police said that his assertions were “unfounded.”

The Rich family, according to the New York Times, now regrets okaying the hire of Wheeler, and has publicly objected to his claims.

Burkman, asserting that the records sought are specific to the MPD’s handling of the murder investigation and are crucial to the public’s understanding of the MPD’s conduct during its investigation, staged a press conference outside of MPD headquarters in Downtown Washington, D.C. at 2 pm ET Wednesday.

TheDCNF reached out to the Rich family for comment. They did not respond by press time.


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Copyright 2017 The Daily Caller News Foundation

Article source: https://stream.org/attorney-file-lawsuit-seth-rich-murder-mystery/

Sharing the Stories of Heroes This Memorial Day

Many nations set aside days to celebrate the end of wars or major battles, and to honor those who fought in them.

Memorial Day in America is different in that it doesn’t celebrate veterans — we have a different day set aside for that. This federal holiday was designed to celebrate and honor those who have died while in uniformed service to our country in times of peace or war.

While noble in nature, the day presents a unique challenge to those of us who look for ways to show our gratitude.

Every year, my church goes long in its efforts to meet that challenge. In the heart of every Memorial Day service, our pastor asks those who have served in the military to stand, and as they do, the church body thanks them with a rousing, heartfelt round of applause.

The choir lifts the entire sanctuary with a battery of some of the most patriotic music you can imagine, and yet no matter how wonderful the veterans and congregation may feel at the end of each service, our collective efforts miss the mark.

As well intended as they are, my church isn’t alone in giving gestures that fall short.

Furniture stores and car dealerships use the occasion to offer special deals to serving military members. Pools open, and communities put on parades that feature local celebrities, marching bands and veterans from the wars of our age.

Clans of family and friends gather in homes and parks throughout the United States to revel in the first of two holidays that frame the summer.

But almost all our Memorial Day revelry focuses on the living. There is little talk of those who gave their all, and even less about what that phrase might mean to one who has never leaned into the thought.

I guess we all need reminders.

I stumbled onto a collection of photos a few weeks ago that rekindled those thoughts in me. It was a site called the Wall of Faces. There, the names of the pictured men and women we lost in Vietnam are revealed with the move of a cursor.

When I think about all that I’ve been given, I begin to get a sense of what others gave up when they gave us their lives.

As the arrow touched each picture, my mind raced to calculate the time that separated their birth and casualty dates. Some were a bit older and Vietnam was at least their second war, but the majority were under 20 when they died.

That’s when the second piece of math hit me.

In the 37 years beyond my 20th birthday, I met and married the woman I had been searching for my entire life.

I was there to welcome our two sons into this world, and I’ve been right by their side to celebrate those birthdays for all but a fraction of their years.

Somewhere along the way, I managed to climb into the dream I dreamed of as a child and, while the highs I’ve enjoyed as a man have been immeasurable, they don’t quite measure up to my all.

I’ve been given time enough to be a loving partner in life for my wife, and a doting father, shepherd and coach for my two sons.

When I think about all that I’ve been given, I begin to get a sense of what others gave up when they gave us their lives.

Two men died of exposure during Gen. George Washington’s march on Trenton in the winter of 1776. Just over a year ago, 12 Marines were killed during a training mishap off the coast of Hawaii. And on Jan. 29 of this year, a Navy SEAL fell to enemy fire in Yemen.

Like those we’ve lost in every other conflict, incursion or mishap, their stories run the gamut. Some were immortalized as heroes, and others have faded into near anonymity, save for the memories they left with the living.

In the course of my years in the service, I received the contagious laughter, the loves, and aspirations of 11 different men who laid down their lives. While each willingly gave up everything for this nation of ours, our gratitude is what will carry them forward in memory.

Today, take a moment to do your own math, then lean into your family and friends with a story about one of our Memorial Day heroes.

And when you hit your knees tonight, say a prayer for those who long for the company, the loving touch of one who gave his or her all for you and me.


Copyright 2017 The Daily Signal

Article source: https://stream.org/sharing-stories-heroes-this-memorial-day/

The Latest: Trump Places Wreath at Arlington

Trump has pledged his “complete and unshakeable support” to the men and women in uniform.

President Donald Trump lays a wreath at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, Monday, May 29, 2017, in Arlington, Va.


Published on May 29, 2017

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump’s Memorial Day observance (all times local):

11:05 a.m.

President Donald Trump is honoring America’s military dead at Arlington National Cemetery.

Trump placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at a Memorial Day ceremony, in advance of his first Memorial Day remarks as president. The playing of “Taps” echoed as Trump placed his hand over his heart and military officers saluted.


9:15 a.m.

President Donald Trump is thanking the men and women who died in service to the United States.

In the first of two tweets Trump sent out on Monday, he says: “Today we remember the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in serving. Thank you, God bless your families God bless the USA!”

In the second, Trump says: “I look forward to paying my respects to our brave men and women on this Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery later this morning.”

The president is to deliver his first Memorial Day address and lay a wreath at the cemetery, the final resting place for many U.S. military members and others who have served the country.


3:15 a.m.

President Donald Trump is preparing his first Memorial Day address at Arlington National Cemetery.

Trump is also set to lay a wreath Monday at the cemetery, the final resting place for many U.S. military members and others who have served the country.

Trump previewed the address Saturday before he flew home from Italy, the final stop on his first trip abroad since taking office.

He addressed U.S. service members stationed at a naval base in Sicily as “warriors of freedom” and the “patriots who keep the fires of liberty burning.”

Trump also noted his desire to boost spending on the military, and as commander in chief pledged his “complete and unshakeable support” to the men and women in uniform.


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-speak-arlington-cemetery-memorial-day/

ICE Arrests Nearly 200 Illegal Immigrants in Los Angeles Raids

Immigration authorities have arrested nearly 200 criminal aliens in a five-day operation across the Los Angeles area, including dozens with prior convictions for sex crimes and domestic violence.

Fugitive operations officers for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) nabbed a total of 188 people in a sweep targeting at-large criminal aliens, immigration fugitives and individuals who had illegally re-entered the U.S. after being deported.

Of the those arrested, 169 — about 90 percent — had prior criminal convictions for a variety of crimes, the agency said Thursday. The most common prior offenses were drug violations, comprising 43 of those arrested, followed by DUI and domestic violence, with 30 and 27 arrests, respectively.

“Operations like this are emblematic of the vital work ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations officers do every day seeking to locate, arrest, and ultimately deport at-large convicted criminals and other immigration fugitives who pose a threat to public safety,” David Marin, field office director for ICE’s enforcement and removal division in Los Angeles, said in a statement.

“By taking these individuals off the streets and removing them from the country, we’re making our communities safer for everyone,” he added.

Illegal immigrants from Mexico made up the vast majority of those arrested in the operation, which took place across six counties in the L.A. metro area. ICE agents arrested 146 Mexican nationals — 78 percent of all individuals detained — followed by 13 from El Salvador and 12 from Guatemala. About half of all the arrests occurred in L.A. County.

ICE arrested 19 individuals who had no prior criminal convictions, according to agency figures. Officials say that deportation officers conduct “targeted enforcement operations” that prioritize aliens with criminal backgrounds, but that anyone present in the country without authorization may also be arrested during the sweeps.

“During targeted enforcement operations, ICE officers frequently encounter additional suspects who may be in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws,” the agency said. “Those persons will be evaluated on a case by case basis and, when appropriate, arrested by ICE.”

The 188 arrests made this week are in line with the scope of similar operations that ICE occasionally carries out in the area, reports the Los Angeles Times. More than 150 people were arrested during a week-long sweep in February, and before that ICE arrested 112 people in a multi-day operation in July.


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Copyright 2017 Daily Caller News Foundation

Article source: https://stream.org/nearly-200-illegal-immigrants-arrested-los-angeles-ice-raids/

Sending Your Child to College Next Year? First Open Your Eyes

By Tom Gilson

Published on May 27, 2017

Thinking of sending your child to college next fall? Take note. You need to see some of what’s taken place on campus in just the past week. Most of these schools had already closed down their main class schedules for the summer.

  • The Alliance Defending Freedom filed suit against Kellogg Community College. The suit sought to halt policies that had already resulted in students being arrested for passing out copies of the Constitution on campus. One of the students was jailed.
  • A Duke University professor holding an endowed chair resigned rather than being forced to attend a weekend of “Diversity Training Phase I.” He had predicted — quite believably — it would be an “illiberal” event.
  • Cornell University continued to deny tenure to a professor because of rape charges. This went on even though a court of law had found there was no evidence for the charges, had “blasted” the school for its actions, and had ordered a review of the decision.
  • Lawrence University proved it can’t take a joke, denying recognition to a club that had screened a film, Can We Take a Joke?, on the topic of free speech in comedy.
  • Students at Davidson College “responded in anguish and outrage” after being filmed answering whether they would support the leveling of GPAs by giving the bottom 10 percent of students the GPAs held by the top 10 percent. In truth, though, they denounced the survey only after it was revealed as a project showing the wrongness of income redistribution.
  • Liberals mocked a proposed free speech center at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, as a “GOP safe place.” One group called it an attempt at “bullying” through “Republican propaganda.”
  • Students at DePaul University voted themselves a $2 increase in fees to fund scholarships for illegal immigrants. DePaul’s president, a Catholic priest, approved the fee hike.
  • Students and faculty at Orange Coast College “stormed the … administration building,” demanding the school “end its ‘neutrality’ … by removing the College Republicans.”
  • A professor at the University of Hawaii called on “cisgender” and “white” colleagues to resign so that “women of color and trans people” could have their jobs. “Not to alarm you, but I probably want you to quit your job, or at least take a demotion,” she wrote.
  • A college in New York was revealed as offering a course in “The Abolition of Whiteness.”

This is just one small sampling at the end of the school year. The same kind of thing goes on even more all year long, all across the country.

More and more public colleges are displaying hostility to Christian faith, morality and conservative principles. Does this mean you shouldn’t send your child to college? Not necessarily. It does mean that you shouldn’t do it with your eyes closed.

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Article source: https://stream.org/sending-child-college-open-eyes-first/

Promoting Islam in Our Schools

Memorizing the Islamic conversion prayer. Reciting the Five Pillars of Islam. Affirming that Christians are not as strong in their faith as Muslims. Several school districts across the nation are requiring their students to study Islam. And parents aren’t happy about it.

A 1963 Supreme Court decision allows for historical instruction about religions. But it seems that Islam is the only religion that is okay to promote. Some parents believe the Islamic teaching has gone too far. And now there’s a lawsuit.

The Court Opens the Door

The Supreme Court in Abington v. Schempp ruled that organized religious events violated the First Amendment. Schools could not require Bible reading or praying in class. But they could offer courses on the Bible or religion as a secular subject. The Court said that “education is not complete without a study of comparative religion or the history of religion and its relationship to the advancement of civilization.”

Those who know Abington know it as the case that kicked Bible reading out of public education. But it left the door open for a historical study of the Christianity — or any other religion. Now the study of Islam is making its way into the school systems nationwide.

Islamic teaching in public schools has alarmed several parents. They believe it has crossed the line from a historical study to indoctrination. They believe that school districts are promoting Islam over other religions.

The Problem with Teaching Islam

A La Plata, California, High School parent brought a lawsuit against the school. John Kevin Wood and his wife said that his daughter’s school required her to complete assignments that endorsed Islam.

The school required her to affirm that “Most Muslims’ faith is stronger than the average Christian.” The school required all students to recite the Islamic conversion prayer. The prayer, called the Shahada, states that “There is no god but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet.” The school also required students to profess the Five Pillars of Islam.

Wood said his daughter’s school forced her to write statements that offended and denied her Christian beliefs. When she refused to complete the assignments, she received failing grades. Her teacher sent her to the school library away from her classmates. As a result, she felt ostracized because of her Christian beliefs.

Wood contacted the school and asked for alternative assignments. The school’s principal refused. Wood informed the principal that he would contact an attorney and the media. The school then reportedly responded by obtaining a restraining order against Wood. He could no longer pick up his daughter on school property or attend parent-teacher meetings.

La Plata High School did not teach Christianity the same way as Islam, according to Wood. Christianity was taught for one day—disparagingly. Islam was taught for two weeks—sympathetically. The lesson did not require students to learn any of Christianity’s tenets, faith statements or creeds. Nor were the students required to learn any of Judaism’s.

It Happens in Other Schools Too

It happens in other schools, too. Parents across the country have complained that their child’s school required them to:

  • Dress up as a Muslim, learn prayers and scriptures from the Quran;
  • Memorize the Five Pillars of Islam and listen to a Muslim prayer;
  • Memorize and recite the Shahada, or the conversion prayer; and
  • Write the Shahada in Arabic as part of a calligraphy lesson.

Parents of students at several schools complain that teachers do not teach non-Muslim religions. And that is the crux of the issue for many parents.

The Ten Commandments would never be a lesson requirement, said one New Jersey mom. “If Islam is taught, teach Christianity, too. [My son] couldn’t even put a Bible verse in his presentation that was student-initiated. So they’re not only teaching Islam, but they’re not allowing students to be free in expressing their [Christian] religious beliefs.”

Many school districts indoctrinate students in Islam, said Thomas More Law Center President Richard Thompson. “This is happening in public schools across the country. And [parents] must take action to stop it.”

The First Amendment’s Establishment Clause

The Establishment Clause prohibits the government from establishing a religion. The Supreme Court decided in Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971) that a three-part test would govern what constitutes “establishment of a religion.”  Under the “Lemon test,” government can make laws or policy about religion if the reason for the law is secular, it neither promotes nor inhibits religion, and it doesn’t excessively entangle church and state.

Teaching about Islam in schools may not seem at first glance to be a problem. But the law is clear that the government may not adhere to, promote or inhibit a particular religion. This includes public school districts. Teaching Islam as a secular subject along with other religions equally is lawful. When the teaching of Islam promotes the religion above others, that is against the law. This is found in the Establishment Clause of our First Amendment.

The First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University stated these lessons can go too far. In particular, some “hands-on” activities border on unconstitutional endorsement of religion. They added, “Would any of these schools dream of acting out the Catholic Mass or inviting a Protestant minister to give a sermon in the gym?”

Even if school districts have good intentions, they can still cross the line, the Center noted. “However well-intentioned, including religions and cultures by violating the Constitution doesn’t help anyone. … All of us have an important stake in making sure that First Amendment principles are applied fairly and justly to each and every individual and group in the United States.”

Article source: https://stream.org/236525-2/

Ben & Jerry’s Proves Same-Sex ‘Marriage’ Is Not Marriage

 It certainly wasn’t their intent, but Ben and Jerry’s, the famous, specialty ice cream company, has given us further evidence that same-sex “marriage” is not marriage. How so?

The company, which has long been known for its left-wing activism, went one step further this week. As a headline in the Daily Mail announced, “Ben Jerry’s BAN customers from ordering two scoops of the same ice cream until Australia legalises gay marriage.”

That’s right. If you want two scoops of New York Super Fudge Chocolate on your ice cream cone, you can’t have it. You’ll have to settle for just one scoop or mix in another flavor.

This is Ben and Jerry’s way of sending a message: “We believe love comes in all flavours.”

As they explained on their website: “Imagine heading down to your local Scoop Shop to order your favourite two scoops of Cookie Dough in a waffle cone,” the company wrote on its website.

But you find out you are not allowed … you’d be furious!

This doesn’t even begin to compare to how furious you would be if you were told you were not allowed to marry the person you love.

So we are banning two scoops of the same flavour and encouraging our fans to contact their MPs to tell them that the time has come make same sex marriage legal! Love comes in all flavours!

Regulating Scoops is a Slippery Slope

You might say, “Well, this sounds somewhat stupid, but how does it prove that same-sex marriage is not marriage?”

I’ll explain in a moment. But first, Ben and Jerry’s should realize they’re heading down a slippery slope.

After all, will they ban three-scoop cones of any flavor until Australia legalizes throuples? And will they ban one scoop of one flavor plus two scoops of another flavor until Australia legalizes polygamy? Hey, love is love, right? And if I have the right to marry the one I love, how about the ones I love? Why not?

The absurdities go on and on.

As my assistant Dylan asked after reading the Daily Mail article,

And perhaps there’s a current loophole (and bigotry) to their current position. What if some chocolate ice cream identifies as vanilla? (I mean, who are they to be so primitive as to label all chocolate ice cream chocolate just because that’s what society has done through the ages.) Can you then go ahead and get a scoop of chocolate and a scoop of trans-flavored (chocolate to vanilla) ice cream?

In all seriousness, I understand that Ben and Jerry’s is not comparing human beings to scoops of ice cream. The company is making a point and showing solidarity. They believe they are standing up for justice and equality. I get all that.

Still, the nature of their protest is self-refuting, demonstrating the point that same-sex “marriage” is not marriage at all.

Let me explain.

Mars + Mars

Let’s say that chocolate represents men and vanilla represents women. You take one scoop of chocolate and one scoop of vanilla and what do you get? Something new. Something distinct. A unique blend of the two flavors. Two entities that are different and yet similar now become one.

That is a picture of marriage, which is the unique blend of male and female, the unique union of two different and yet similar entities. Borrowing imagery from John Gray, marriage is the union of Mars + Venus.

Going back to ice cream, what happens if you get two scoops of chocolate or two scoops of vanilla? What do you end up with? More of the same. The same multiplied. No change in color or flavor. Nothing new created out of the union. You simply have Mars + Mars or Venus + Venus, which does not equal Mars + Venus.

Do you see the point?

A same-sex couple cannot demonstrate the fullness of marriage, because they are missing the essential components of marriage.

I’m sure gay couples will say that their union brings together very different parts and make them into one new, harmonious whole. But marriage is more than that (otherwise every friendship would be a marriage of sorts).

Marriage has always served the purpose of bringing together the uniquely different-but-same entities of male and female. Through the two of them becoming one, a new entity is created: a paired couple. And by design, that paired couple, biologically made for one another, can produce brand new life.

No same-sex couple in the world, however loving or committed they may be, can produce new life in this way. Nor can any same-sex couple demonstrate the fullness of marriage because it is missing the essential components of marriage: Not just two people, but one male and one female.

Quite unintentionally, Ben and Jerry’s has just reminded us of this reality. And while I do appreciate their zeal for cultural causes, maybe they should turn their attention to other pressing issues, like the health risks of obesity.

On second thought, they might not want to tackle that one at all.

Article source: https://stream.org/ben-and-jerrys-proves-same-sex-marriage-is-not-marriage/

House IT Aides Fear Suspects in Hill Breach are Blackmailing Members With Their Own Data

Congressional technology aides are baffled that data-theft allegations against four former House IT workers — who were banned from the congressional network — have largely been ignored, and they fear the integrity of sensitive high-level information.

Imran Awan and three relatives were colleagues until police banned them from computer networks at the House of Representatives after suspicion the brothers accessed congressional computers without permission.

Five Capitol Hill technology aides told The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group that members of Congress have displayed an inexplicable and intense loyalty towards the suspects who police say victimized them. The baffled aides wonder if the suspects are blackmailing representatives based on the contents of their emails and files, to which they had full access.

“I don’t know what they have, but they have something on someone. It’s been months at this point” with no arrests, said Pat Sowers, who has managed IT for several House offices for 12 years. “Something is rotten in Denmark.”

A manager at a tech-services company that works with Democratic House offices said he approached congressional offices, offering their services at one-fourth the price of Awan and his Pakistani brothers, but the members declined. At the time, he couldn’t understand why his offers were rejected but now he suspects the Awans exerted some type of leverage over members.

“There’s no question about it: If I was accused of a tenth of what these guys are accused of, they’d take me out in handcuffs that same day, and I’d never work again,” he said.

The Awans’ ban sent 20 members searching for new IT workers, but another contractor claims he’s had difficulty convincing offices to let him fill the void, even when he seemed like a shoo-in. He says he has the sense some members wrongly believed that he blew the whistle on the Awans’ theft and they were angry at him for it.

Politico reported the Awan crew is “accused of stealing equipment from members’ offices without their knowledge and committing serious, potentially illegal, violations on the House IT network.”

A House IT employee who requested anonymity said tech workers who have taken over some of those offices found that computers in some — but not all — offices were “thin clients” that sent all data to an offsite server in violation of House policies. Additionally, staffers’ iPhones were all linked to a single non-government iTunes account.

Awan began working for Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida in 2005, and his wife, his brother’s wife, and two of his brothers all appeared on the payrolls of various House Democrats soon after, payroll records show. They have collected $4 million since 2010.

For years, it was widely known that Awan, and eventually his 20-year-old brother Jamal, did the bulk of the work for various offices, while no-show employees were listed on members’ staffs in order to collect additional $165,000 salaries, workers said. This circumvented a rule that prevents any one staffer from making more than members of Congress.

Members were fiercely protective of the business, despite objectively shoddy work and requests for computer help routinely ignored for weeks, all said. An IT specialist who took over an Awan office said they did not keep an inventory of what hardware was there, and the office was paying for phone lines it hadn’t used in years.

“The number of offices they had would definitely be suspicious. The loyalty [members] had [coupled with] customer service that wasn’t there,” Sowers said.

One Democratic IT staffer said Awan “would come in and only help the member — he’d tell me this — because staff come and go. There was one staffer whose computer was broken and said, ‘I’m not going to pay my invoices until you fix my computer,’ and Imran went to the member, and they fired [the staffer who complained] that day. Imran has that power.”

Sowers said, “I love the Hill but to see this clear lack of concern over what appears to be a major breach bothers me. Everyone has said for years they were breaking the rules, but it’s just been a matter of time.”

An employee of a third private company with House IT office contracts, who like most of the others requested anonymity, said the Awans had more offices than anyone, yet “there’s networkers meetings once a week and I never saw them ever come to them. We have an email group; I never saw them contribute or reply.”

The investigation goes far beyond the theft of millions of dollars. The employees could read all emails dozens of members of Congress sent and received, as well as access any files members and their staff stored. Court records show the brothers ran a side business that owed $100,000 to an Iranian fugitive who has been tied to Hezbollah, and their stepmother says they often send money to Pakistan.

“When you’re an admin for an office, yes, you have access to everything, you’re the one providing access for others,” the IT specialist said.

Wasserman Schultz, the victim of a disastrous hack while she was chairman of the Democratic National Committee, renamed Awan an “advisor” to circumvent the Capitol Police’s computer network ban on the brothers. Ohio Democratic Rep. Marcia Fudge’s office told Politico a month after the ban that she had not fired Imran either.

After Wasserman Schultz and Fudge, as well as New York Democratic Reps. Gregory Meeks and Yvette Clarke and the House Democratic Caucus office, retained the Awans, the incumbents or their staffs encouraged newly-elected members to place the family on their payrolls.

“You’d think in the caucus they’d know these guys were working for all of them and they couldn’t possibly support all of them. Someone must have been turning a blind eye,” the IT specialist said.

“You have the power to shut down the office, remove all their data and lock everyone out. It’s got to be a trusted adviser. How could you not see this? Maybe it’s not specifically blackmail, maybe it’s, you knew this was going on and let me do this” for years, the specialist continued.

Another Democratic IT contractor said members “are saying don’t say anything, this will all blow over if we all don’t say anything.” The Awans “had [members] in their pocket,” and “there are a lot of members who could go down over this.”


Read more from this ongoing investigation.

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

Copyright 2017 The Daily Caller News Foundation

Article source: https://stream.org/house-aides-fear-suspects-hill-breach-blackmailing-members-data/

Pence, Notre Dame, and Respecting Speakers You Disagree With

Why not put into practice the civility and tolerance that will be expected in society?

Ixtlaly Estrada makes remarks after Notre Dame students walked out of the commencement ceremony in opposition opposed to the Trump administration’s policies, as Vice President Mike Pence was introduced at Notre Dame Stadium on Sunday, May 21, 2017, in South Bend, Ind.

By Alex Chediak

Published on May 23, 2017

Vice President Mike Pence gave the Commencement address at Notre Dame this past Sunday in his home state of Indiana. He praised Notre Dame as a “vanguard of freedom of expression and the free exchange of ideas.” But the Vice-President criticized the political correctness that has become common elsewhere.

Ironically, a group of graduates took the opportunity to walk out during the Vice-President’s speech. This was a planned demonstration on the part of 50-100 students, less than 5 percent of the 2,100 graduates gathered.

Some demonstrators had the rainbow colors associated with gay rights advocacy draped around their necks. One said she hoped the protest would “send a message” to the Notre Dame administration that someone “more inclusive” would have been preferred. Aside from his current role, when Mr. Pence was governor of Indiana, he signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Critics claimed this Act would have violated the civil rights of the gay community. The Act was soon amended.

Honor the University, Respect the Invited Speaker

The Notre Dame students are entitled to disagree with Pence. To their credit, they walked out silently and respectfully. But boycotting the Vice President’s address makes little sense. As University President John I. Jenkins said in his introduction to Pence, “political leaders are necessary for society, and we must strive with them to serve the common good.” That was also true in 2009 when President Jenkins and his staff invited the new President Barack Obama to give the commencement address.

No matter the speaker, the respectful thing to do is to honor the university and the speaker by remaining in your seat.

If Pence has supported policies that are unpopular with some Notre Dame constituents, that was certainly true of President Obama as well. I don’t recall if Notre Dame students walked out on President Obama in 2009. But if they did, they were wrong to do so.

Sitting respectfully while an invited guest addresses you — even a guest you dislike or disagree with — is something expected of adults. It’s something I’ve done many times, both as a student at liberal bastion U.C. Berkeley and in more recent years.

All of the Notre Dame faculty were presumably required to attend commencement in 2009 and 2017. No doubt some of them did not vote for either the Obama-Biden or Trump-Pence tickets. On commencement day, it doesn’t matter. The distinguished speaker chosen by the university (their employer) is addressing the audience. The respectful thing to do is to honor the university and the speaker by remaining in your seat.

I understand that students tend to view themselves as paying customers. And the customer is always right. But after graduation, they are students no longer. Why not take that last day to put into practice the civility and tolerance that will be expected of them in society?  


Dr. Alex Chediak (Ph.D., U.C. Berkeley) is a professor at California Baptist University and the author of Thriving at College (Tyndale House, 2011), a roadmap for how students can best navigate the challenges of their college years. His latest book is Beating the College Debt Trap. Learn more about him at www.alexchediak.com or follow him on Twitter (@chediak).

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  • You are expecting university graduates to be adults, from some of my personal experience this is not always the case.

Article source: https://stream.org/pence-notre-dame-speakers/

Trump Delivers Message to Muslim Nations on Extremists: ‘Drive Them Out!’

The President declares the battle is not between the West and Islam, but “between good and evil.”

President Donald Trump delivers a speech to the Arab Islamic American Summit, at the King Abdulaziz Conference Center, Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.


Published on May 21, 2017

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — President Donald Trump called on Middle Eastern leaders to combat a “crisis of Islamic extremism” emanating from the region, casting the fight against terrorism as a “battle between good and evil,” not a clash between the West and Islam.

Trump’s address Sunday was the centerpiece of his two-day visit to Saudi Arabia, his first stop overseas as president. During a meeting of more than 50 Arab and Muslim leaders, he sought to chart a new course for America’s role in the region, one aimed squarely on rooting out terrorism, with less focus on promoting human rights and democratic reforms.

“We are not here to lecture — we are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship,” Trump said, speaking in an ornate, multi-chandeliered room. “Instead, we are here to offer partnership — based on shared interests and values — to pursue a better future for us all.”

Even as the president pledged to work alongside Middle Eastern nations, he put the onus for combatting terrorism on the region. Bellowing into the microphone, he implored Muslim leaders to aggressively fight extremists: “Drive them out of your places of worship. Drive them out of your communities.”

The president has been enthusiastically embraced in Riyadh, where the ruling royal family has welcomed his tougher stance on Iran, its regional foe. Sitting alongside Trump, Saudi King Salman declared, “The Iranian regime has been the spearhead of global terrorism.”

Trump’s trip to Saudi Arabia also served as something of a reset with the region following his presidential campaign, which was frequently punctured by bouts of anti-Islamic rhetoric. He once mused that he thought “Islam hates us.”

And only a week after taking office, he signed an executive order to ban immigrants from seven countries — Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen — from entering the United States, a decision that sparked widespread protests at the nation’s airports and demonstrations outside the White House.

That ban was blocked by the courts. A second order, which dropped Iraq from the list, is tied up in federal court and the federal government is appealing.

But on Sunday, Trump was full of praise for Muslim world’s history and culture. He declared Islam “one of the world’s great faiths.”

White House officials said they considered Trump’s address to be a counterweight to President Barack Obama’s debut speech to the Muslim world in 2009 in Cairo.

Obama called for understanding and acknowledged some of America’s missteps in the region. That speech was denounced by many Republicans and criticized by a number of the United States’ Middle East allies as being a misguided apology.


Associated Press writers Vivian Salama, Ken Thomas and Jill Colvin in Washington contributed to this report.


Follow Lemire on Twitter at http://twitter.com/@JonLemire and Pace at http://twitter.com/@JPaceDC


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-delivers-message-muslim-nations-terrorists-drive/

Fixing the Broken Senate

When I served on the staff of Senator Dan Coats in the 1990s, I found that the U.S. Senate can be almost like a family. Friendships often cross party lines. Harry Reid and Rand Paul were buddies. Orin Hatch and Ted Kennedy were close friends.

Yet, while friendships are valuable, they can’t bridge the deep political divide in today’s Senate. That’s where the rules the Senate has made for itself come in. Under those rules, 60 votes are needed to bring any legislation to the full chamber for a vote. This is called the “legislative filibuster.”

What Ever Happened to Bipartisanship?

As the New York Times explains, “In recent years, as partisanship has escalated, the Senate has required a 60-vote majority for almost any controversial legislation to overcome a filibuster. Gone, for the most part, are bipartisan quorums that used to pass large and complex laws with simple majorities.”

This is about more than party loyalty, or men and women on opposite “teams” who refuse to work together because one wants to “outscore” the other. It is about differing views of the Constitution, the role of government, and the kind of country America is and should be. It is about a clash of values and beliefs and the political decisions that flow from them. That’s why, from abortion to taxes, the Senate looks like a logjam.

In modern politics, the intention of the legislative filibuster — forcing members to work things out — has been lost.

Is it time to get rid of the legislative filibuster? Is it time to allow the passage of key bills with a simple majority of “50 percent plus one”?

Such a change would follow Harry Reid’s end to the filibuster rule on lower federal court appointments in 2013 and Mitch McConnell’s end of the Supreme Court nominee filibuster rule earlier this year.

The Senate Used to be a Place for Calm Debate

Ending the legislative filibuster would, as former Senator Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., said recently, “change the character of the politics of America. The filibuster is a set of brake pads of the speed of the passion of the moment. The Senate is the place where cooler heads prevail and you need a larger group of people to find common ground.”

He is correct about what the Senate should be. “Common ground” is a nice idea. But that ground seems to be shrinking by the day.

The Senate was intended by the Founders to be a place for calm debate. The 60-vote rule has required people with competing convictions to find the compromises needed to keep our government up and running.

Now, though, the intention of the legislative filibuster — forcing members to work things out — has been lost. Instead, the 60-vote rule has become a political club used by one party against the other. It means that much of the time, the minority rules.

Is It Time for the Filibuster to Retire?

The danger in ending the legislative filibuster is great. To again quote the New York Times, “both parties … understand the profound and lasting effect that a party with power unchecked by the minority could have when it comes to lawmaking.”

In recent years, the minority is “checking” way too much. It is true that if the legislative filibuster was ended, public policy could resemble a game of ping-pong. A majority enacts a bill in one session; following the next election, a new party in power undoes it. This would create economic chaos, political instability and an increasingly angry citizenry.

The Senate, a chamber whose whole purpose has been to slow down popular passion, would become like the House of Representatives — only with longer terms for its members. As Senator John McCain has asked, if this happens, “Why have a bicameral system?”

I offer no knot-cutting political solution to resolve this dilemma. But it must be resolved. Time is not on the side of America’s future.

He makes a troubling point. But as historian Kevin Gutzman of Western Connecticut University argues, “Abolishing the (legislative) filibuster would clear up confusion about responsibility for Congress’s policy decisions. The duty to govern would fall upon the majority, as it should.”

Conservative pundit Erick Erickson counters,

the filibuster is often the last tool available for conservatives to stop the worst excesses of their own party. The filibuster is how (conservatives) can force their own party to rein in spending and liberal legislation. If you gut the legislative filibuster, you are stopping conservatives from being able to fight for limited government.

That’s just one danger. But our country has multiple pressing needs. Ending the legislative filibuster isn’t just about ending inefficiency but, far more importantly, solving looming problems.

Here’s one example: Most Americans like Social Security. Want it to continue? It must be modernized, soon, or else it will collapse under a growing burden of debt that it can’t sustain.

We cannot wait forever for America’s needs to be met. The road down which the can has long been kicked ends somewhere, and probably sooner than later.

I offer no knot-cutting political solution to resolve this dilemma. But it must be resolved. Time is not on the side of America’s future.

Article source: https://stream.org/fixing-broken-senate/

Two Presidents and Two Popes…

On June 7, 1982, Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II met for the first time at the Vatican. The two were of one mind and one mission.

It had been a little over year since both had been shot and nearly bled to death. Now, they talked alone for about an hour in the Vatican Library. The attempted assassinations were raised right away. Pio Laghi, the pope’s representative to the United States, later said that Reagan told the pontiff: “Look how the evil forces were put in our way and how Providence intervened.”

Bill Clark, Reagan’s closest aide, said that both men referred to the “miraculous” fact they had survived. And now, “because of their mutual interests,” said Clark, they came together to “form some sort of collaboration.”

What kind of collaboration? One that would truly change history.

The Protestant and Catholic, said Clark, shared a “unity” in spiritual views and in their “vision on the Soviet empire.” That day in Rome, said Clark, they discussed their joint sense that they had been given “a spiritual mission — a special role in the divine plan of life,” and agreed that “atheistic communism lived a lie that, when fully understood, must ultimately fail.”

The two leaders, temporal and spiritual, also had mutual ideas on what should be done to end the Cold War. Reagan told the pope that “hope remains,” most notably in the battleground that was Poland. “We, working together,” he told the Polish pontiff, “can keep it alive.”

They sure did. Cardinal Laghi would say of this Reagan-John Paul II meeting: “Nobody believed the collapse of communism would happen this fast or on this timetable. But in their first meeting, Holy Father and president committed themselves and the institutions of the Church and America to such a goal. And from that day, the focus was to bring it about.”

And aside from the singular purpose, the two men held much more in common. Both bravely fought what John Paul II dubbed the “Culture of Death,” affirming what Reagan called “the transcendent right to life of all human beings, the right without which no other rights have any meaning,” and what John Paul II almost identically called “the first of the fundamental rights, the right to life.” Reagan said that “every per­son is a ressacra, a sacred reality;” John Paul II said that every person is “a unique and unrepeatable gift of God.” They both insisted upon the interdependence of faith and freedom, the principle of subsidiarity, and the need to speak out unequivocally against evil.

All of which brings me to Donald Trump and Pope Francis.

Such crucial and even touching presidential-papal commonalities — which, for Reagan and John Paul II, enabled them to change the world — is lacking in the case of Donald Trump and Pope Francis. The presidential-papal meeting at the Vatican on May 24, 2017 will be utterly unlike the presidential-papal meeting at the Vatican on June 7, 1982.

Think about it. Regardless of their respective strengths and weaknesses, it’s hard to find much shared outlook between the man in the White House today and the man in the Vatican today. Do they possess a mutual understanding of what currently serves as the great international threat or global menace, or how to defeat it? What would President Trump and Pope Francis list as the dominant threats today? Radical Islam? Trump might, but not in the way — or certainly not with the preferred response — that Francis would.

Do their top priorities intersect anywhere? Immigration? Certainly not. “Climate change?” No way. Economic “inequality?” Nope.

Now, that said, this meeting could surprise people, and disappoint those looking for fireworks. Sure, the optics will be intriguing; mere photos of these two men together will seize interest. But as for pundits hoping for a fight, I think they’ll be disappointed.

After all, personality-wise, maybe the two men aren’t terribly dissimilar. Both of these strong personalities are colorful, outspoken, and infamous for off-the-cuff comments. Neither is afraid to speak his mind, or stick his foot in his mouth. Pope Francis on an airplane with an open mic and group of reporters can be as freewheeling as Donald Trump with his Twitter account unmonitored by Kellyanne Conway, leaving lots of clean-up for his spokespeople to handle. The two men both operate with a folksy candor sometimes endearing and sometimes maddening. They might get along better than people expect.

I don’t expect a verbal sparring match over “building walls.” Francis is too winsome to provoke a contentious disagreement. He’s a pope of mercy who preaches forgiveness and decries malevolence. I expect him to treat Trump well. And when Trump is treated well, he usually responds in kind.

Surely, Francis should be pleased and heartened that Trump — for his first presidential trip abroad — chose to go to the Vatican. That’s a significant gesture.

As for Trump, the brash New York swagger might be tempered by the sheer majesty of the St. Peter’s environs. As one pundit told me, “trips to the Vatican” change people. They do. So do meetings with the pope. They tend to affect people.

But again, unlike Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II, I don’t perceive a grand historical-spiritual vision among Donald Trump and Pope Francis. I have no lofty historic hopes for this relationship. However, if a lesson can be learned from Reagan-John Paul II, it’s this: When a president and a pope come together with some significant goal in mind, really important things can happen. Good things can result. That’s something for this president and his staff to think about very prudently.


Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College in Grove City, Pennsylvania. His latest book is A Pope and a President: John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, and the Extraordinary Untold Story of the 20th Century.

Article source: https://stream.org/two-presidents-two-popes/

Defending Trump Against Excessive Charges is Not Selling Out

One thing should be clear, at least to Republicans: The left has had the long knives out for President Donald Trump since before he was inaugurated. It intended to destroy him regardless of his conduct in office.

Liberals and even some conservatives contend that Trump’s defenders on the right are tainted, partisan, idolatrous cheerleaders who have sold their souls and principles to defend him against troublesome charges. Some argue that even if former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton engaged in similar activities, two wrongs don’t make a right.

Trump supporters, they say, have always insisted they are strict adherents of the rule of law but are showing their true colors in defending Trump. But are they? Why is defending Trump against these excessive charges a betrayal of the rule of law? Just because he’s handled some things disappointingly doesn’t mean he’s committed a crime or an impeachable offense. The rule of law requires that we be discriminating about these matters and not jump on the bandwagon to condemn Trump just because we don’t approve of some of his actions or statements.

Without question, the rule of law and all other principles must be given the highest priority, and the Trump presidency doesn’t change that. But there’s something more involved here than mere Democratic hypocrisy.

It is reprehensible that liberals are perpetuating slander to delegitimize Trump and undermine the will of the American people.

We are talking about Democratic and liberal media wrongdoing. Obama, when injecting himself into the investigation concerning Hillary Clinton’s emails and saying that no criminal activity had occurred, actually engaged in the very conduct of which Trump is being sloppily accused. The left had no objection. But at this point, it sure doesn’t appear that Trump’s comments to then-FBI Director James Comey about then-national security adviser Michael Flynn rose to the level of interfering with a proceeding, much less obstruction of justice.

Liberals are also engaged in wrongdoing by conducting this ceaseless witch hunt against Trump for alleged collusion with Russia to interfere with the presidential election when they know there is no evidence of any collusion. It is reprehensible that they are perpetuating this slander to delegitimize Trump and undermine the will of the American people.

So no, two wrongs don’t make a right, but there aren’t two equal “wrongs” here, and attempts to attribute moral equivalence to these separate sets of conduct are deceitful and scurrilous.

Of course, Trump supporters should not compromise their principles to defend him against legitimate charges, but we shouldn’t throw him to the leftist wolves when the Democrats make false, excessive and otherwise unwarranted charges against him. There are a number of things I will criticize Trump for, but I am not going to accede to the Democrats’ outrageously over-the-top characterization of these actions as criminal or impeachable just to appear fairer or nonpartisan.

If I defend Trump, it is because I believe he deserves defending, and if I criticize the left, it is because I believe it deserves criticism.

I’m also not about to quit pointing out the monumentally worse behavior of the leftist media and Democratic Party just to avoid the undiscriminating claim that I am a Trump cheerleader.

We have to analyze whether Trump is culpable of those things of which he has been accused, but in no event should such accusations intimidate or deter us from condemning the left for making false charges and trying to wrongfully undermine Trump’s presidency.

Put another way, I am not defending Trump because he is being attacked by the left. I am not attacking the left because I am trying to change the subject from legitimate allegations against Trump. If I defend Trump, it is because I believe he deserves defending, and if I criticize the left, it is because I believe it deserves criticism. I am not compromising my principles to attack the left for trying to smear Trump and destroy this country. I am acting in accordance with my principles.

Sure, Trump shoots from the hip on Twitter and in some interviews, but he did this long before the election. The question isn’t whether he says things we wish he wouldn’t or commits gaffes. The issue that is before us — and will remain before us for as long as he’s in office because the Democrats will see to it, irrespective of Trump’s actions — is whether Trump engaged in serious misconduct on any of these things. So far, it appears he has not — from the firing of Comey to alleged collusion with Russia to the Comey memo to the alleged sharing of classified information with Russia. So why are some conservatives suggesting Trump just resign? It is neither prudent nor fair to rush to judgment. Let’s be guided by the evidence rather than innuendo or some anti-Trump hysteria.

As long as he rededicates himself to his campaign promises, his base will not abandon him, even with his occasional gaffes.

I admit I’m concerned about Trump’s apparent flip-flop on Jerusalem, his seeming ambivalence about certain health care issues, the recent budget fiasco, the wall and confusion around tax reform. I just wish Trump would return forthwith to the agenda on which he was elected and the commitments he made to seeing it through.

I believe that if he would redouble his efforts to clarify his legislative priorities and present strong, viable proposals on all these issues and exercise leadership to advance them, he would unite a majority around him sufficient to pass them. As long as he rededicates himself to his campaign promises, his base will not abandon him, even with his occasional gaffes.

In the meantime, let’s recognize that the left is at war with us and is relentless in pursuing it. We must fight back as hard as the left is attacking if we expect our ideas to prevail. And we can do that without compromising our principles, so let’s get to work.

David Limbaugh is a writer, author and attorney. His latest book is The True Jesus: Uncovering the Divinity of Christ in the Gospels. Follow him on Twitter @davidlimbaugh and his website at www.davidlimbaugh.com. 



Article source: https://stream.org/defending-trump-excessive-charges-not-selling/

Shariah Court in Indonesia Sentences Gay Couple to Caning

Indonesia’s Muslim majority threatens the rights of gays and Christians.

Police officer escorts two men accused of having gay sex into a holding cell to wait for the start of their trial at Shariah court in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, Wednesday, May 17, 2017. A Shariah court in Indonesia’s conservative Aceh province has sentenced two gay men to public caning for the first time, further tarnishing the country’s moderate image after a top Christian politician was imprisoned for blasphemy.


Published on May 17, 2017

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (AP) — An Islamic Shariah court in Indonesia’s conservative Aceh province has sentenced two gay men to public caning for the first time, further undermining the country’s moderate image after a top Christian politician was imprisoned for blasphemy.

The court, whose sentencing Wednesday coincided with International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, said the men, aged 20 and 23, would each be subjected to 85 lashes for having sexual relations. One of the men wept as his sentence was read out and pleaded for leniency.

The chief prosecutor, Gulmaini, who goes by one name, said they will be caned next week, before the holy Muslim month of Ramadan starts about May 25.

The couple was arrested in late March after neighborhood vigilantes in the provincial capital Banda Aceh suspected them of being gay and broke into their rented room to catch them having sex. Mobile phone footage that circulated online and formed part of the evidence shows one of the men naked and visibly distressed as he apparently calls for help on his cellphone. The second man is repeatedly pushed by another man who is preventing the couple from leaving the room.

The lead judge, Khairil Jamal, said the men were “legally and convincingly proven to have committed gay sex.”

He said the three-judge panel decided against imposing the maximum sentence of 100 lashes because the men were polite in court, cooperated with authorities and had no previous convictions.

“As Muslims, the defendants should uphold the Shariah law that prevails in Aceh,” Jamal said.

International human rights groups have described the treatment of the men as abusive and humiliating and called for their immediate release. Human Rights Watch said in April that public caning would constitute torture under international law.

Prosecutors had asked that they receive 80 lashes and said the men had waived their right to defense lawyers. It was not clear why but guilty verdicts are certain in most cases that reach the Shariah court.

“The prosecution is very harsh. The verdict is harsher,” said Andreas Harsono, Indonesia researcher for Human Rights Watch. “It shows the increasingly conservative judiciary in Indonesia,” he said.

Aceh is the only province in Muslim-majority Indonesia allowed to practice Shariah law, which was a concession made by the national government in 2006 to end a war with separatists, but other some other areas have introduced Shariah-style bylaws.

Aceh implemented an expansion of Islamic bylaws and criminal code two years ago that extended Shariah law to the province’s non-Muslims and allows up to 100 lashes for morality offenses including gay sex and sex between unmarried people.

Human Rights Watch says the Aceh laws violate the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Indonesia ratified in 2005.

Caning is also a punishment in Aceh for gambling, drinking alcohol, women who wear tight clothes and men who skip Friday prayers. More than 300 people were caned for such offenses last year.

Homosexuality is not illegal elsewhere in Indonesia but a case before the country’s top court is seeking to criminalize gay sex and sex outside marriage.

Indonesia’s reputation for practicing a moderate form of Islam has been battered in the past year due to attacks on religious minorities, a surge in persecution of gays and a polarizing election campaign for governor of the capital Jakarta that highlighted the growing strength of hard-line Islamic groups.

Earlier this month, the outgoing Jakarta governor, a minority Christian, was sentenced to two years in prison for campaign comments deemed as blaspheming the Quran.


Wright reported from Jakarta, Indonesia. Associated Press writer Niniek Karmini in Jakarta contributed to this report.


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

Comments ()

  • “one of the men pleaded for leniency.” Pleading for mercy would have been just as useless. There appears to be no salutary effects in Islamic Law. Retribution is the guide.

    Although invoked as “merciful” Allah’s followers are not.

  • There are degrees of discrimination – not getting a cake or flowers seems minor compared to caning in public.

Article source: https://stream.org/shariah-court-in-indonesia-sentences-gay-couple-to-caning/

4 Questions About Declassifying and Disclosing Government Secrets

President Donald Trump did not violate the law when he reportedly revealed classified information about an Islamic State terrorist plot during a meeting last week with Russian officials, intelligence and legal experts say.

But the news that Trump shared intelligence with the Russians that was provided to the U.S. by a partner country in the Middle East — a nation that had not given the Americans permission to share the information with Russia — has raised questions about the legal issues and protocols that surround disclosures of classified information.

The New York Times reported Tuesday that Israel provided the intelligence in question, potentially complicating the U.S. relationship with its important Middle East ally.

H.R. McMaster, Trump’s national security adviser, would not confirm or deny if Trump shared classified information with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador during a meeting at the White House last week. He downplayed the seriousness of the information Trump disclosed, saying that Trump in the moment made the decision to reveal the intelligence to the Russians.

“What the president discussed with the foreign minister was wholly appropriate to that conversation and is consistent with the routine sharing of information between the president and any leaders with whom he’s engaged,” McMaster said at a White House briefing.

Below, The Daily Signal answers basic questions about how the U.S. obtains intelligence, what the process is for classifying and declassifying it, and what the consequences could be of breaking with protocol.

1.) Did Trump Have Legal Authority to Disclose the Information?

Legal, national security, and intelligence experts agree the president can declassify or disclose whatever information he wants as part of his constitutional powers as commander in chief.

“The president is his own declassifying authority,” said David Shedd, an acting director of the Defense Intelligence Agency under President Barack Obama who also served in the George W. Bush administration’s National Security Council.

“He doesn’t have to ask anybody else whether he can declassify anything,” said Shedd, who is now a visiting fellow at The Heritage Foundation, in an interview with The Daily Signal. “As a declassifying officer in his standing as president of the U.S. and commander in chief, no one else has that authority to divulge the information spontaneously — not to mention with information that wasn’t ours to begin with.”

Patrick Eddington, a policy analyst in homeland security and civil liberties at the Cato Institute and a former CIA analyst, agreed that Trump’s legal authority should not be questioned, although he said it’s fair to assess the president’s judgment.

Eddington told The Daily Signal:

What makes the whole office of the president different is that the rules just don’t apply. The only relevant questions are, did Trump break trust with a foreign power who supplied this information by not clearing it with them in advance, which would be bad form but not unprecedented. And two, in doing so, did he potentially compromise a genuine, perishable source?

Even if the president has unique authority, other people can be charged with crimes for revealing classified information.

Experts say a government official could be prosecuted under the Espionage Act of 1917, which prohibits the improper accessing, handling, or transmitting of “information respecting the national defense” with the intent of injuring the U.S. or aiding a foreign nation.

“Under the Espionage Act that person can be charged and probably would be unless the president authorized the disclosure,” said Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Brennan Center for Justice’s liberty and national security program, in an interview with The Daily Signal.

Government officials who reveal classified information in an unauthorized fashion could also lose their security clearance and job, Goitein said.

2.) What Information Did Trump Disclose, and Was It Appropriate to Do So?

The White House has said Trump did not divulge the source and method of the intelligence he shared with the Russians. The Washington Post reported the information Trump gave to the Russians had to do with an ISIS terrorist threat related to the use of bombs embedded in laptop computers on airplanes.

The U.S. government has already publicly disclosed the laptop threat and acted in response to it.

In March, the U.S. and Britain barred passengers traveling through airports in 10 Muslim-majority countries from carrying laptop computers, tablets, and other devices larger than cellphones aboard direct inbound flights. The Department of Homeland Security is also reportedly considering extending the ban to flights from Europe to the U.S.

Shedd said even if the broad contours of the laptop threat are publicly known, the president should be careful in revealing details related to it.

“Don’t confuse acting responsibly with authority,” Shedd said. “[Trump] has a responsibility like any president does to determine whether the information he wishes to release will have negative implications or a fallout. If you have a particular threat that pinpoints not just the fact of a laptop threat or something the [Transportation Security Administration] has already revealed, but add to it by saying [the threat] is out of this airport and this country, and this kind of airline, that starts to reveal the sourcing, or the method, or both. And that has consequences with how partners may share information in the future.”

3.) How Are the Rules for Declassifications and Disclosures Set?

The rules of classification are governed by an executive order — not by congressional statute — that is periodically updated by different presidents. The current version is Executive Order 13526, which Obama signed in 2009. Trump has not modified it yet.

Under the order, “original classification authorities,” such as the leaders of U.S. departments and agencies, can classify and declassify information “owned” — collected or received — by their organizations.

Those authorities can then permit the disclosure of the information to someone who has the proper security clearance and has a status that says they to “need to know” it. Because the president oversees all the agencies, he has full rights to these powers on his own.

Goitein said Obama’s executive order includes a section saying that when the U.S. obtains intelligence from a foreign partner, the American government should honor the restrictions the allied country puts on sharing the information.

“It also says in the executive order that an unauthorized disclosure of a foreign government’s intelligence is presumed to cause harm to [that country’s] national security,” Goitein said.

4.) How Does the US Rely on Other Countries for Intelligence?

John Hannah, senior counselor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said intelligence cooperation with allied countries — known as “liaison relationships” — are essential to U.S. national security.

“These relationships are some of the crown jewels of the intelligence business,” said Hannah, who was Vice President Dick Cheney’s deputy national security adviser for the Middle East in the first term of the George W. Bush administration.

“We can’t do this alone,” Hannah told The Daily Signal in an interview. “We have huge amounts of capabilities, but particularly in some difficult target sets, there will be players who have unique advantages that are very important to us, particularly in terrorism cases, where it can be very hard to get inside information on the plotting of an operation.”

Hannah called Israel — the reported source of the information that Trump shared with Russia — the U.S.’ most important intelligence partner in the Middle East, with one of the “top five or six most capable” intelligence gathering operations in the world.

Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, told The New York Times that the two countries would maintain a close counterterrorism relationship despite Trump’s disclosure to Russia.

“Israel has full confidence in our intelligence-sharing relationship with the United States and looks forward to deepening that relationship in the years ahead under President Trump,” Dermer said.

Hannah too maintained confidence in U.S.-partner relationships.

“If in fact an unauthorized compromise occurred, partners will be disappointed and could become more cautious in what they share,” Hannah said. “But at the end of the day, we are leaps and bounds the most capable intelligence service in the world, and the value-added we provide is tremendous. So the thought that this one incident — particularly if sources and methods were not compromised — would lead a country to rupture or fundamentally reassess its intelligence relationship with the U.S., I seriously doubt it. Our partners benefit too much from the reciprocal cooperation.”


Josh Siegel is the news editor for The Daily Signal. Send an email to Josh. @SiegelScribe.

Copyright 2017 The Daily Signal

Article source: https://stream.org/4-questions-declassifying-disclosing-government-secrets/

US Envoy: Fight to Retake Mosul in ‘Final Stages’

An Iraqi special forces soldier peers at Islamic State militant positions, from a house in western Mosul, Iraq, Monday, May 15, 2017.


Published on May 15, 2017

HAMAM AL-ALIL, IRAQ (AP) — A senior U.S. official says the fight to retake Mosul from the Islamic State group is approaching its “final stages.”

Brett McGurk, the special presidential envoy for the global coalition against IS, says Iraqi forces are “completely defeating” IS in one of the most difficult urban battles since World War II.

But he says local Iraqi officials say they will need more funding from the U.S. and others in the international community to rebuild in territory recently retaken from the extremists.

McGurk spoke to The Associated Press from a water treatment plant south of Mosul where Iraqi forces closely backed by the U.S.-led coalition are slowly closing in on the remaining cluster of IS-held neighborhoods in the city’s west.


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/us-envoy-fight-retake-mosul-final-stages/

Lawmakers Ask Attorney General to Take Second Look at Lerner’s Case

The findings of the committee’s investigation also show that Lerner “impeded official investigations by providing misleading statements in response to questions from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.”

Lerner may also have potentially leaked private taxpayer information by using her personal email on the job, according to the 2017 letter.

In a 2014 interview, Lerner told Politico, “I didn’t do anything wrong,”

“I’m proud of my career and the job I did for this country,” she added.

Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, a legal and legislative organization which seeks to promote religious and constitutional freedoms, told The Daily Signal a second look must be taken.

“I think it was pretty clear that the administration was going to do everything it could, the Obama administration was going to do everything it could to keep the whole IRS scandal under wraps,” Sekulow said. “So for the Department of Justice under President Obama to go after Lois Lerner would have created a bad scenario for their position.”

Roskam said he “cannot speak to the procedure,” of how the Department of  Justice may act if they choose to reopen Lerner’s case, but that he is hopeful that Lerner will be “brought to justice.”

A senior official at the Department of Justice told The Daily Signal that the department “received the letter and are reviewing it.”

Double jeopardy, a second prosecution for the same offense, would not apply in Lerner’s case, Sekulow said in a statement provided to The Daily Signal “as Lerner has not yet been charged with any crime.”

Additionally, Sekulow said statute of limitations, which dictates when legal action can be taken, “could begin to apply the longer the [Department of Justice] waits to reopen an investigation and potentially charge Lerner,” adding:

Prosecution for many federal crimes is five years from the commitment of the offense. However, the clock does not begin to run until the crime has been completed. Arguably, here, the targeting is still ongoing under the exact scheme that Lerner designed and intentionally implemented.

Brady said justice might be brought to Lerner’s case with new leadership.

“Our committee found troubling evidence that Lois Lerner willfully deceived the American people and abused her IRS authority to discriminate against taxpayers for their political beliefs,” Brady said in a statement provided to The Daily Signal. “With a new administration — one that hasn’t prejudged the issue — these allegations deserve a fresh look.”


Rachel del Guidice is a reporter for The Daily Signal. She is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, Forge Leadership Network, and The Heritage Foundation’s Young Leaders Program. @LRacheldG

Copyright 2017 The Daily Signal

Article source: https://stream.org/lawmakers-ask-attorney-general-take-second-look-lerners-case/

North Korea Open To US Talks Under ‘Conditions’

Choi Sun-hee, left, the top North Korean diplomat who handles relations with the U.S. walks prior to her departure for Pyongyang, North Korea, at Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing Saturday, May 13, 2017.


Published on May 13, 2017

BEIJING (AP) — A top North Korean diplomat said Saturday that Pyongyang would be willing to meet with the Trump administration for negotiations “if the conditions are set.”

Choi Sun-hee, the top North Korean diplomat who handles relations with the U.S., spoke briefly to reporters in Beijing en route to Pyongyang. She was traveling from Norway, where she led a delegation that held an informal meeting with former U.S. officials and scholars.

Choi did not elaborate on what the North’s conditions are, but her comments raise the possibility of North Korea and the U.S. returning to negotiations for the first time since 2008, when six-nation talks over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program fell apart.

President Donald Trump opened the door this month to talks, saying he would be “honored” to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Tensions have mounted in recent months after the Trump administration said it would keep “all options on the table” to halt North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, including a military strike. The North responded by pledging to retaliate with a devastating nuclear counterattack, a threat it has made in the past.

In recent weeks, North Korea has arrested two American university instructors and laid out what it claimed to be a CIA-backed plot to assassinate Kim. Choi did not address the matter of the detained Americans on Saturday.

In Norway, Choi met with former U.S. officials and scholars for what are known as “track 2” talks. The talks, which cover a range of nuclear, security and bilateral issues, are held intermittently, and are an informal opportunity for the two sides to exchange opinions and concerns.


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/north-korea-open-us-talks-conditions/

Sen. Ben Sasse’s The Vanishing American Adult Offers Timely Solutions

Do we really need another book about entitled millennials? Or about the helicopter parents who raise these precious darlings? Senator Ben Sasse’s The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis — and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance exceeds expectations. It challenges both parents and our culture, offering compelling and timely solutions.

The Problem

Sasse has no issue with adolescence. The problem is one of perpetual adolescence — an indefinite period in which youth are passive and aimless. Why is this so common? In part because teens today are used to an unprecedented degree of comfort. Raising kids once meant adding small (but necessary) workers to the family.

Teens today are used to an unprecedented degree of comfort. Our kids may be safer, but they’re also softer. 

But our wealth, technology, and digital economy have radically changed this pattern. We now emphasize the protection of our children rather than their productivity. While our kids may be safer, they’re also softer — more hooked on comforts like AC, their own bedroom, an Xbox, etc. They are unfamiliar with manual labor at a time when lifelong learning and flexibility are more important than ever in our disrupted economy.

You can see the problem. The kicker is that the survival of the American experiment is at stake. Why? Because “America’s next generation will be our next generation of rulers — that’s how a republic works.” Fragile teens cannot be virtuous, because virtue implies strength. And citizens that lacks self-reliance cannot be truly free.

The Value of Work

Sasse is not some anti-intellectual relic, pining for the good old days when kids and teens worked long hours in the fields. He himself earned a bachelor’s degree from Harvard and a Ph.D. from Yale. But Sasse observes that, over time, “institutionalized schooling displaced work and other multigenerational environments as the context and the culture in which coming of age occurred.”

In other words, kids now only learn in a classroom. This makes sense (given our economy). But on the other hand, it’s bad that 18-year-olds arrive at college without ever having done physical work. Familiarity with work breeds an appreciation for work. There’s a sense in which any kind of work makes us more grateful for every kind of work.

The senator’s book can spark a much-needed discussion about how we can help modern youth become American adults.

If you clear tables at a diner for a couple hundred hours, you’ll become more grateful not just for fellow bussers, but also for janitors and farmers. Such work makes us more grateful for the food we eat, the clothes we wear and the roof over our heads. It gives us an understanding of what the hard work of others made possible. We can consume because others produce. Work builds not just toughness and resiliency, but maturity and perspective.

Raising Self-Reliant Adults

How can we raise self-reliant, virtuous adults, the kind our country’s future depends upon?

Build intergenerational connections. Much of our society is age-segregated, especially at the level of K-12 schooling. Teens today spend almost all their waking hours with peers. They miss out on time with the adults they are supposedly becoming. They miss out on the wisdom and perspective they lack. Sasse recommends that teens volunteer in nursing homes and help care for older relatives to gain an appreciation for aging (and dying) well. To resist the myopia of a teen-centered world, they might accompany a parent to work or change a few diapers.

Travel to see and grow. Teens need to become less “high maintenance.” Learning survival skills, tent camping, and backpacking increase gratitude for a roof and a bed and help teens better understand the difference between “needs” and “wants.”

In addition to developing strength and flexibility, travel benefits teens as they experience another culture. Travel doesn’t have to be international (unless budgets permit!), but can be even within your state or hometown. Put teens “into situations where they are out of their comfort zone and seeing things they don’t ordinarily see. And then, force them to help plan, to make decisions, to reflect and summarize, to discover.” Sasse’s 14-year-old daughter spent a month working on a cattle ranch. Travel leads to independence, strength, and appreciation of others.

Develop literacy. Teens passively ingest countless hours of media. But reading is not a passive activity. It requires attention and engagement. It is key to developing a well-trained mind.

“That our emerging adults take so little interest in reading today is not just sad for them, it’s also a threat to the idea of democracy, which has long assumed the ability to read — and a desire to read. It is not only the content of the book that changes you but the shared community with those who have read it, discussed it, argued about it. Books create communities here and now, as well as across space and time.” Sasse helpfully includes a list of essential books for his kids: God, Greeks, Shakespeare, the American idea, capital markets, etc. 

Sasse puts delayed adolescence into a historical context. He helps readers understand just how concerning this crisis is, given our changing economy and our unique time in history. His writing style is sometimes advanced, but worth the effort. Call-out boxes at the end of each chapter feature helpful practical suggestions for implementation. The Vanishing American Adult is a timely and enjoyable read. It can spark a much-needed discussion about how we can help our youth become American adults in the 21st century.


Dr. Alex Chediak (Ph.D., U.C. Berkeley) is a professor at California Baptist University and the author of Thriving at College (Tyndale House, 2011), a roadmap for how students can best navigate the challenges of their college years. His latest book is Beating the College Debt Trap. Learn more about him at www.alexchediak.com or follow him on Twitter (@chediak).

Article source: https://stream.org/ben-sasse-vanishing-adult-review/

How to Overcome Bad Thinking

The liberation of 82 schoolgirls from the racial Islamist Boko Haram in Nigeria has made international news. Our hearts are lifted by the knowledge that these vulnerable young women can now return to their families.

Setting victims free is celebrated throughout Scripture. But there is a certain type of captivity we all experience: captivity of the mind.

Paul’s War Mentality

In his second letter to the church in Corinth, Paul the apostle had to refute the claims of false teachers. He told those early Christians not that he wanted to hurt the enemies of the Gospel personally, but that he would “destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (10:5).

The false teachers accused Paul of weakness. He quoted them as suggesting “(Paul’s) letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account” (v.10).  They made these claims to appeal to the Corinthians’ sense of pride. As pastor David Guzik explains: 

The Corinthian Christians tended to rely on and admire carnal weapons for the Christian battle … Instead of the breastplate of righteousness, they fought with the image of success. Instead of the shoes of the gospel, they fought with smooth words. Instead of the shield of faith, they fought with the perception of power.

Paul was ready to do combat with the spiritual predators corrupting the faith of the Corinthian believers. This is why he uses such vivid imagery. For example, the apostle says “the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds” (10:4).

Paul uses military language to emphasize what he will do with the false ideas about Jesus and salvation.

This is military language. The term “weapons” is hoplon, used in John 18:3 for the weapons carried by the soldiers accompanying Judas. It’s also related to the famous Greek infantry battalions known as hoplites. The Encyclopedia Britannica describes the Hoplite as “a heavy infantryman who fought in closely packed formation, acquired his name from the hoplon, a convex, circular shield.” In other words, the shield wasn’t for show — it was for battle.

Even more compelling is the word for “captive.” The early Christians understood this idea very well: The term is a compound of two words meaning “a spear” and “to be captured.”  They knew what it was like to be seized and then threatened with a sharp Roman spearpoint as they were taken to prison or worse.

This is how Paul emphasizes what he will do with the false ideas about Jesus and salvation with which his opponents were infecting the Corinthians. As the theologian Clint Arnold writes, “in its original context, demolishing strongholds refers to changing wrong ideas about Christ in the minds of believers who have been influenced by demonically inspired teaching” (Three Crucial Questions about Spiritual Warfare, 54-55).

Taking Thoughts Captive — A Battle

What does all of this have to do with us? This: for Christians, “taking every thought captive” means not only that we have to fight error in teaching about the Gospel but also errors in our own beliefs, conscious and assumed.

To do this, we have to recognize the ways in which falsehoods infiltrate our culture and our own lives. 

There are three ways in which lies about God and all that reflects His goodness, truth and beauty affect us. One is false teaching about the essentials of the Christian faith. For example, in times of crisis, we like to think of God as our comforter. He is. But much of the rest of the time, we like to envision Him as an indulgent grandfather Who finds our sins humorous and our self-centeredness acceptable.

Then there’s false teaching about what is valuable, good, true, and beautiful. We are surrounded by a culture that celebrates cheapened sex, substance abuse, disrespect for parents, intolerance of orthodox Christianity, and gratuitous violence in our entertainments. 

To take “every thought captive,” we have to recognize the ways in which falsehoods infiltrate our culture and our own lives.

One obvious but tragic example is the way we discard unborn life in the womb and destabilize children’s lives through divorce. An unborn child is not an appendix, and a home is much more than just a house.  

Finally, there’s false teaching about the nature and existence of truth itself. In a recent Barna survey, we learned that “A majority of Americans, including three-quarters of Millennials and nearly a third of practicing Christians, say that morality is based solely on their personal feelings.”

Many of us are susceptible to the allure of truth-denial. Saying we’re not sure something is wrong or that taking Scripture as its writers intended is extreme makes disobedience to God a lot easier. 

To recognize what is false we have to know what is true. Let’s spend some time talking about this.

How to Combat Wrong Thinking

Christians need to consciously fight wrong thinking, joining the apostle Paul in demolishing it through corrective mental and spiritual combat.

How? Here are a few suggested steps:

Identification: Using the Bible as our authority, we need to watch what we’re believing and why. Will that new car really meet our deepest need? Is watching a lewd film really “not that bad?”

Recognition: If something is not of God, it is of the Enemy. Resist him, says James, and he will flee from us (James 4:7). 

Replacement: Study Scripture and memorize it. Shove out wrong and harmful thoughts and beliefs with the Word of God.

Dependence: Rely on the Holy Spirit for wisdom, discipline, and strength.

Accountability: Have close friends who will challenge and encourage you on an ongoing basis.

Girls and young women deserve to be with their families, living in security and hope. That’s why we rejoice with those in Nigeria just freed. Their captors lost their victims. 

We need to free ourselves from wrong beliefs, to stop considering seriously what’s untrue, evil, and ugly. We need to make our minds captives of Jesus Christ. Ironically, in doing so, we will never be more free.

Let’s get to it.

Article source: https://stream.org/good-kind-captivity/

Veteran Justice Department Officials Weigh Need for Special Prosecutor in Russia Probe

President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey gave more fodder to Democrats, many of whom were already calling for a special prosecutor to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Matthew Whitaker, a former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Iowa, is unsure this case measures up to past cases involving special prosecutors.

“Usually, there is some intractable conflict where the Justice Department is unable to do its job,” Whitaker, now the executive director for the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, a watchdog group, told The Daily Signal.

“It’s not so much about the level of evidence or the sensibilities of the case,” he continued. “It’s about the confidence in the system.”

In the past, administrations have named special prosecutors that could conduct an investigation independent of the Justice Department, which is part of the executive branch. This is usually the case when there is consensus that the Justice Department cannot objectively investigate a matter, or can’t assure public trust that the probe was done without bias.

Under President Bill Clinton, an independent counsel was named to investigate the Whitewater matter, which eventually led to the investigation of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. After President George W. Bush took office, and the independent counsel statute had expired, the administration named a special prosecutor to investigate the alleged leak of a CIA operative’s name.

Whitaker said Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is highly respected. Rosenstein, who recommended to Trump that Comey be fired, will ultimately oversee any Justice Department probe into the Trump campaign and Russia because Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from any investigation that could relate to the 2016 election.

However, Nick Akerman, a former Watergate prosecutor who worked for special prosecutors Archibald Cox and Leon Jaworski, believes this case is ripe for an independent view.

“This is a classic example for the need of a special prosecutor,” Akerman, who later became the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, told The Daily Signal. “It’s extremely serious when there is Russian interference in an election and the possibility that one of the candidates was in cahoots with the Russians.”

Democrats and critics of the Trump administration allege that the firing came as a result of Comey stating the FBI is investigating potential Russian ties to the Trump campaign.

White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Wednesday that every investigation that was going on Monday is going on today.

“There is no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia,” Sanders told reporters.

While Sanders said the administration welcomes the investigation, she said a special prosecutor isn’t necessary because the House, the Senate, and the Justice Department are all separately investigating the matter.

When Trump met with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger at the White House, a reporter asked, “Why did you fire Director Comey?”

Trump responded: “He wasn’t doing a good job. Very simply. He was not doing a good job.”

He was also asked if this affected his meeting Wednesday at the White House with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. He answered, “Not at all.”

During the press briefing, a reporter asked a question about Trump meeting with Kissinger and a Russian official at a time when Democrats are talking about Russian ties and making President Richard Nixon comparisons. Sanders said the two meetings were planned well in advance.

Previous administrations, including independent counsel Ken Starr during the Clinton administration and special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald during the George W. Bush administration, expanded their investigations beyond the original topic of inquiry.

Both former federal prosecutors say that doesn’t have to be the case.

“The more narrow, the better,” Akerman said. “The scope of this shouldn’t expand beyond possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.”

Whitaker said past precedents demonstrate why an administration would be concerned about naming a special prosecutor to any case.

“The investigations can go far afield if the prosecutor is outside the regular chain of command, so, that’s viewed as a risky proposition,” Whitaker said. “But the investigation can be narrowly focused.”

This isn’t a matter that needs an independent investigation if the FBI has the proper resources to look into the matter, said Ron Hosko, a former FBI assistant director.

“What would make me feel better is knowing that the FBI will get every tool they need to explore the scope of Russian interference,” Hosko, now the president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, told The Daily Signal. “I think Congress is a pile of politics and hypocrisy and is incapable of investigating this.”


Fred Lucas is the White House correspondent for The Daily Signal. Send an email to Fred. @FredLucasWH

Copyright 2017 The Daily Signal

Article source: https://stream.org/veteran-justice-department-officials-weigh-need-special-prosecutor-russia-probe/

Younger Judicial Nominees Give Trump Chance for Legacy in Courts

President Donald Trump will begin to leave his mark on the lower courts of the federal judiciary with 10 nominees named Monday, many of them judges still in their 40s.

Shortly after 7:30 p.m. Monday, the White House formally announced Trump’s nomination of five judges to federal appellate courts and another five judges to lower federal courts.

“The president followed the principles that were used to guide that list to select the additional eight individuals,” @PressSec says.

“They all appear to be bright, young, capable conservatives who promise to be outstanding judges; some are already judges,” John Malcolm, a legal scholar who oversees the Institute for Constitutional Government at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal earlier in the day.

Two of the appeals court nominees — Michigan Supreme Court Justice Joan Larsen, 48, nominated to the 6th Circuit, and Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Stras, 44, nominated to the 8th Circuit — were on the list of 21 contenders for the U.S. Supreme Court that the Trump campaign released months ago.

The Heritage Foundation and The Federalist Society developed the list at Trump’s request.

Trump also nominated Amy Coney Barrett, 45, a law professor at Notre Dame and former law clerk for the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, for the 7th Circuit,  and Louisville lawyer John K. Bush, 53, for the 6th Circuit.

Rounding out the appeals court nominees is Alabama’s former solicitor general, Kevin Newsom, 44, who clerked for Justice David Souter, nominated for a seat on the 11th Circuit.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters during the Monday afternoon briefing:

These 10 individuals the president has chosen were chosen for their deep knowledge of the law and their commitment to upholding constitutional principles. Two of the nominees today came from the list of potential Supreme Court nominees that the president released during the campaign. … The president followed the principles that were used to guide that list to select the additional eight individuals.

Spicer said more judicial and other nominations are on the way.

“I think you will continue to see a very robust amount of announcements on not just the judicial front, but on several fronts,” he said.

Most Supreme Court justices previously served as appeals court judges. Also, the high court can take only a limited number of cases. So, circuit court nominees are highly important.

Trump previously nominated U.S. District Judge Amul Thapar to serve on the 6th Circuit. He is awaiting Senate confirmation.

With more than 120 vacancies, the nominations can’t come too soon, said J. Christian Adams, a former Justice Department attorney who now is president of the Public Interest Legal Foundation, a conservative legal group.

“I’m in federal courts all the time. There are too many vacancies,” Adams told The Daily Signal. “So, we can’t have too many nominees.”

A Democratic  majority in the Senate eliminated that chamber’s filibuster for nominees to the district and circuit courts in 2013.

“With a Republican Senate, now is the best time to nominate solid judges,” Adams said. “There is no reason to wait.”

Trump seems to have his eyes on the future with these nominees, said Curt Levey, president of the Committee for Justice and a constitutional lawyer with FreedomWorks, a conservative advocacy group.

“It’s clear that the administration is looking at young nominees,” Levey told The Daily Signal. “Being an appeals court judge, if not on the short list, it puts you on the long list for the Supreme Court. … This administration seems to be making a bigger factor of age than previous administrations.”

Trump also nominated Damien Schiff, a lawyer with the Pacific Legal Foundation, a conservative legal group, to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

The White House said the president made two district court nominations and intends to make two more:

  • Scott Palk, with the University of Oklahoma College of Law, to the Western District of Oklahoma.
  • Idaho state Judge David Nye to the U.S. District Court for Idaho.
  • Dabney Friedrich, a member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission and a former associate White House counsel under President George W. Bush, to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (pending).
  • U.S. Magistrate Judge Terry Moorer to the Middle District of Alabama (pending).

The nominees build on Trump’s success in getting another appeals court judge, Neil Gorsuch, confirmed to the Supreme Court just weeks ago, said Carrie Severino, chief counsel for the Judicial Crisis Network, who posted brief biographies of each of Monday’s nominees on National Review’s website.

“The nominees have stellar qualifications and a record of courageous commitment to the rule of law that will make them excellent additions to the federal bench,” Severino said. “When it comes to fulfilling his campaign promise to appoint strong, principled judges, Trump is knocking it out of the park.”

This report was updated after the White House announced  just after 7:30 p.m. Monday that President Donald Trump officially had made eight of the nominations and plans to make the other two.


Fred Lucas is the White House correspondent for The Daily Signal. Send an email to Fred.

Copyright 2017 The Daily Signal

Article source: https://stream.org/younger-judicial-nominees-give-trump-chance-legacy-courts/

Christian Governor in Jakarta Sentenced to Prison for Blasphemy Against Islam

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — An Indonesian court sentenced the minority Christian governor of Jakarta to two years in prison on Tuesday for “blaspheming” the Quran, a jarring ruling that undermines the reputation of the world’s largest Muslim nation for practicing a moderate form of Islam.

In announcing its decision, the five-judge panel said Gov. Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama was “convincingly proven guilty of blasphemy” and ordered his arrest. He was taken to Cipinang Prison in east Jakarta. At the court, supporters of the governor wept and hugged each other amid shouts of jubilation from members of conservative Islamic groups.

Photos quickly appeared online of Ahok, who still commands immense popularity in Jakarta, the capital, being warmly greeted by prison staff. Ahok said he would appeal, but it was unclear if he would be released once that process is underway.

By early evening, hundreds of angry supporters had gathered at the high-security prison, some pushing hard against a tall metal gate and others setting a tire alight. “Brothers and sisters, justice has died in this country,” said a man addressing the crowd with a megaphone.

The accusation of blasphemy engulfed Ahok in September after a video surfaced of him telling voters they were being deceived if they believed a specific verse in the Quran prohibited Muslims from voting for a non-Muslim leader.

Massive street protests in the past six months against Ahok and Tuesday’s verdict are among the signs of an increasing religious conservatism in Indonesia. In Western capitals, the country has traditionally been seen as a bulwark of tolerance and pluralism in the Islamic world. Vigilante groups frequently attempt with impunity to prevent Indonesia’s religious minorities from practicing their faiths, and the country’s gay community has faced a surge in persecution in the past two years.

The blasphemy case was a decisive factor in Ahok’s defeat to a Muslim candidate in last month’s election for Jakarta governor. Hard-line Islamic groups opposed to having a non-Muslim leader for the city capitalized on the trial to draw hundreds of thousands to anti-Ahok protests in Jakarta that shook the centrist government of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.

“Hard-liners will feel emboldened by the ruling, given that the trial represents a wider tussle between pluralism and Islamism in Indonesia,” said Hugo Brennan, an analyst at Verisk Maplecroft, a political risk assessment firm in Singapore.

Outside the court, Syamsu Hilal, a member of a hard-line Muslim group who reported Ahok to police last year, said justice had been upheld.

“Here we have witnessed that the judge has become a representative of God,” he said.

The sentence was also welcomed by the youth arm of Muhammadiyah, Indonesia’s second-largest mainstream Muslim organization.

But Ahok supporter Adrian Sianturi said the trial was a victory for intolerance and corruption.

“This decision is the character assassination of a good governor, a clean politician who is rare in this country,” he said.

The two-year prison sentence was a surprise outcome after prosecutors had recommended two years of probation. The maximum sentence for blasphemy in Indonesia is five years in prison.

The lead judge, Dwiarso Budi Santiarto, said the trial was a purely criminal one and that the court disagreed that there were political aspects to the case.

He said Ahok’s comments during the election campaign had degraded and insulted Islam.

“As part of a religious society, the defendant should be careful to not use words with negative connotations regarding the symbols of religions including the religion of the defendant himself,” he said.

Wayan Sudirta, a lawyer for Ahok, said there was “so much pressure” for Ahok to be imprisoned.

“We can understand but we cannot accept the verdict. Therefore we will appeal,” he said.

Ahok rose from deputy governor in 2014 after Jokowi vacated the capital’s governorship following his victory in Indonesia’s presidential election that year.

He was popular with Jakarta’s middle class for efforts to stamp out corruption and make the teeming city more livable.


Associated Press writer Niniek Karmini contributed to this report.

Article source: https://stream.org/christian-governor-jakarta-sentenced-prison-blasphemy-islam/

Famine Could Spread to 3rd South Sudan County: New Report

In this photo taken Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016 and released by UNICEF, women who fled fighting in nearby Leer in recent months, queue for food aid at a food distribution made by the World Food Programme in Bentiu, South Sudan. Famine has been declared Monday, Feb. 20, 2017 in two counties of South Sudan, according to an announcement by the South Sudan government. A third county is now in danger.


Published on May 7, 2017

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — A new report from a monitoring group says famine is at risk of spreading to a third county in South Sudan.

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network says starvation is likely to occur in Koch county.

Famine already has been declared in the counties of Leer and Mayendit, with a million people said to be at risk.

The new report says famine is likely to spread during the lean season for farmers from July to September. It says that without the presence of humanitarian aid, famine could be declared in even more areas.

The East African nation’s civil war, now in its fourth year, has blocked aid to some regions.

The combination of fighting and famine in the world’s youngest country has created one of the world’s largest humanitarian crises.


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/famine-spread-3rd-south-sudan-county-new-report/

A Review of Zombie Science: Is Darwinism Dead?

With the release of his 2000 book Icons of Evolution, Jonathan Wells became one of the leading evolution critics of today. Unlike some detractors, Dr. Wells has impeccable credentials — with Ph.Ds. in molecular and cell biology from U.C. Berkeley and religious studies from Yale.

Last week he released a new book that is just as controversial (and frankly, just as fun), called Zombie Science: More Icons of Evolution. He begins the book with a story about the so-called “war on eggs,” in which the U.S. government promoted the idea that eggs raise cholesterol and are thus unhealthy.

There is only one problem with this narrative — It’s false. That’s right, the science simply doesn’t support the claim that eggs are bad for you. In fact, it’s just the opposite! In 2015, the U.S. government finally backed off.

What do we conclude from this? According to Dr. Wells, “Obviously, we cannot always trust what ‘science says,’ and an endorsement by the government doesn’t make it any more trustworthy. In fact, we are told many things by ‘science’ that are not true.”

What is Zombie Science?

The premise of Zombie Science is that something similar is going on in the question of human origins. Rather than following the evidence wherever it leads, says Wells, many scientists are committed to methodological naturalism, the view that science is limited to materialistic explanations. (Materialism is the view that nothing exists except matter and energy, there is no God involved in nature in any way.)

Wells is careful to say he is not calling certain people zombies, but rather that there is a some things used as examples proving evolution seem to live on even after science has shown these examples to be dead — hence his use of the title “zombies.”

In Icons, Wells analyzed ten of the most common examples for evolution and claims that they misrepresent the evidence. In Zombie Science, Wells updates his criticism, showing that the same examples keep showing up in textbooks, even though it’s been known for decades that they don’t match up with the evidence.

Could These ‘Zombies’ Be Simple Mistakes?

If these icons were innocent mistakes, then biologists would have eagerly corrected them, right? Since they persist, says Wells, there must be something else besides the evidence that keeps them “alive.”

Publishers could possibly be forgiven if this was the only mistake.

For instance, Darwin considered embryological development the best evidence for his theory. He cited drawings from the German Biologist Ernst Haeckel, which allegedly reveal how the development of various vertebrate animals mirrors the larger evolutionary story of common descent. Yet it has been known since at least 1997 that the Haeckel’s drawings were cherry-picked, inaccurate and fake. In fact, Wells concludes, “The real issue is that Haeckel’s drawings omitted half of the evidence — the half that doesn’t fit Darwin’s claim that embryos are most similar in their early stages” (58).

Nonetheless, Haeckel’s drawings continue to appear in textbooks published after 2000, such as Donald Prothero’s 2013 textbook Bringing Fossils to Life. And the 2016 textbook Biology, by Mader and Windelspecht, uses re-drawn versions of Haeckel’s embryos that make the same (mistaken) point.

Publishers could possibly be forgiven if this was the only mistake. But as Wells indicates, similar misrepresentations continue for other “icons” including the Miller-Urey experiment, Archaeopteryx, peppered moths, Darwin’s finches and more. Like zombies, these “evidences” simply won’t die.

Dead Flies and Horses

One of the most interesting sections of the book was the discussion of epigenetics. Broadly speaking, epigenetics refers to the various factors involved in development, including genetics.

In the 20th century, the dominant view of biology was that evolution proceeded genetically from DNA to RNA to proteins to us. As a result, evolution could advance through genetic mutations that accumulate over time.

But according to Dr. Wells, there are significant carriers of information beyond DNA sequences. Biological membranes are one example. In other words, the claim that the genome carries all the information necessary to build an organism is false. As a result, mutations or changes in DNA alone are not enough to build new function and form. Wells concludes:

All of the evidence points to one conclusion: No matter what we do to the DNA of a fruit fly embryo, there are only three possible outcomes: a normal fruit fly, a defective fruit fly, or a dead fruit fly. Not even a horse fly, much less a horse. (94)

Is Darwinism Dead?

Wells also offers critiques for newer “icons,” such as whale evolution, antibiotic resistance, vestigial structures such as human tailbones and the appendix, and the evolution of the human eye. And he pulls no punches. He believes that materialism corrupts both science and religion.

Towards the end of the book, Wells makes a bold prediction:

Today, evolutionary theory is like spring ice. It still covers the lake, and to many people it still looks solid. But it’s honeycombed with melt-water. It can no longer carry the weight it once did. Summer is on the way.

You may agree with Dr. Wells. Or you may think he’s mistaken. But a book with as cool of a title as Zombie Science at least deserves a fair reading.


Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, best-selling author, popular speaker, part-time high school teacher and the Resident Scholar for Summit Ministries, California. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog: seanmcdowell.org.

Originally appeared at seanmcdowell.org. Reprinted with permission.

Article source: https://stream.org/a-review-of-zombie-science-is-darwinism-dead/

Thank You, Stephen Colbert

I oppose the push to remove The Late Show comedian Stephen Colbert from the air because of his obscene tirade against President Donald Trump. In fact, I wish the video of his boorish diatribe would go viral.

The best remedy against the political left’s ongoing crusade to remake America in its own vulgar image is maximum exposure of its irrationality. If you haven’t seen Colbert’s rant, please watch it. It’s titled “This Monologue Goes Out To You, Mr. President” on YouTube. There was nothing funny about it; there was nothing clever. It was just one shallow insult after another.

I fail to understand the appeal of these obnoxious, mean-spirited leftist comics whose fawning, sheeplike audiences are about as discriminating as a glutton at a buffet table. They wouldn’t clap more if responding to applause cards — but, in fairness, that’s probably because they wouldn’t be able to read them.

It’s not just the comedians. The left has simply gone nuts, even more than usual. Liberals would have us believe that it is because of Trump’s policies or his character, but he’s done nothing other than what he promised on immigration and many other issues. The real reason is they have lost power. They have lost the presidency after basking in Obama for eight years.

Are they seriously claiming that Trump is too crude for them — the left, the masters of vulgarity and the steadfast opponents of fixed moral standards? By what standard do they condemn Trump?

They say they abhor Trump because he disrespects women, yet they worship the most notorious womanizer of all time — Bill Clinton. Give me a break.

Yes, liberals would have us believe that they are highly respectful of women and that their respect transcends partisan politics. But for the left, nothing transcends party politics. Liberals like women, gays and ethnic minorities — except when they’re conservative. Liberals routinely treat pro-life women as traitors to their gender. CBS News anchor Gayle King recently thanked Ivanka Trump for agreeing to an interview, calling her Mrs. Kushner — a faux pas she most likely would have been mortified over had someone on the right uttered it.

Leftists claim to be defenders of democracy, yet they assault the democratic process at every turn. They just refuse to accept the results of the presidential election. Their bureaucratic armies in federal agencies, from the Environmental Protection Agency to the Department of Labor, openly defy Trump’s executive orders. Their appellate judges twist the law into pretzels to thwart his lawful orders on immigration and his travel ban. They take to the streets to commit criminal acts of violence disguised as lawful protests, vandalizing property and creating mayhem. They assault police officers in the name of protecting American workers — as if cops aren’t American workers. They use violence to silence opposing political voices on the pretense that those opponents might incite violence. Their behavior is almost too absurd to take seriously — except it has very serious consequences, so we must showcase it.

Please, let them keep making fools of themselves so that the American people will see just how extreme the left has become — and will realize that this extremism has taken over the Democratic Party. Exposing liberals can only be in the best interests of this country.

If you think I’m exaggerating about the Democratic Party, you probably didn’t hear Democratic National Chairman Tom Perez telling immigrant workers: “No human being is illegal. We must treat everyone with dignity. … The Democratic Party will always be here, fighting for you.”

What exactly does Perez mean by that last line? Does his party support immigration enforcement or not? This is radical stuff, folks.

But it’s no worse than liberal media’s ghastly behavior at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. It’s no worse than Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters’ saying it’s “absolutely racist” for Trump to be hard-nosed on immigration and saying Trump is a “disgusting, poor excuse of a man.” It’s no worse than Democratic Sen. Cory Booker’s saying the GOP health care bill would “mean death” if it were to become law or than House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s saying the bill is “stupid,” “a moral monstrosity that will devastate seniors” and “a very sad, deadly joke.” It’s no worse than Democratic CNN political commentator Paul Begala’s calling Trump “a moral midget.” It’s no worse than The Daily Show’s Hasan Minhaj calling Trump the “liar in chief.” And it’s no less vile than CNN’s David Gregory’s gender-baiting by partially blaming Hillary Clinton’s loss on “misogyny.”

The Democrats would have us believe they’re the party of inclusion. That’s rich, considering Perez’s announcement that pro-life supporters are not welcome in the Democratic Party.

Democrats would have us believe they are the party of tolerance. That’s also rich, considering King’s asking Trump’s chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn, “What’s a nice registered Democrat boy doing working in a Republican administration?” There you go. You must not be nice if you work for Republicans.

Let them keep it up. Let them keep rioting, destroying property and hurting people in the name of love and harmony. Let them continue to suppress speech in the name of democracy. Let them demean and curse President Trump in the name of civility.

This is the very kind of childish insolence that led to the American people’s rejecting them and electing Donald Trump in November. Please keep it up, ladies and gentlemen, and we’ll just further build our coalition. America will be better off for it, and we thank you for that.


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


Article source: https://stream.org/thank-stephen-colbert/

Military Photo of the Day: US Coast Guard Saves the Day

By Tom Sileo

Published on May 5, 2017

After a three-day voyage, a sailor’s rudder broke rendering his boat disabled. The U.S. Coast Guard responded and rescued the sailor and his terrier, Freddy, 30 miles west of Horseshoe Beach, Fla., on April 27, 2017.

We are so happy that this sailor and his dog are okay, thanks to the U.S. Coast Guard. Have a great weekend, everyone!

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Article source: https://stream.org/military-photo-of-the-day-may-5-2017/

Government-Wide Spending Bill Headed for a House Vote

WASHINGTON (AP) — A government-wide spending bill that President Donald Trump seemed to criticize Tuesday morning but now calls “a clear win for the American people” is headed for a House vote.

The House is scheduled to vote on the bipartisan $1.1 trillion measure Wednesday afternoon. It is a product of weeks of Capitol Hill negotiations in which top Democrats like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi successfully blocked Trump’s most controversial proposals, including a down payment on the oft-promised Trump Mexico border wall, cuts to popular domestic programs, and new punishments for so-called sanctuary cities.

The White House instead boasted of $15 billion in emergency funding to jumpstart Trump’s promise to rebuild the military and an extra $1.5 billion for border security.

“After years of partisan bickering and gridlock, this bill is a clear win for the American people,” Trump said, citing the Pentagon and border money. “This is what winning looks like.” Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., also declared victory, but the opinions of top party leaders were not shared by the rank and file.

“From my point of view, we pretty well got our clock cleaned,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

Earlier Tuesday, however, Trump took to Twitter, angrily reacting to media reports depicting Democrats such as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York as winners in the negotiations. He cited Senate rules that empower minority Democrats and tweeted that the U.S. government “needs a good shutdown” this fall to fix a “mess” in the Senate.

At issue is a mammoth, 1,665-page measure to fund the government through September that largely continues a long-established tradition of bipartisan spending deals that boost funding for medical research, aid for schools, and law enforcement accounts, while defending foreign aid, grants to state and local governments, and the Environmental Protection Agency from cuts sought by tea party Republicans.

Democratic votes will be needed to pass the measure even though Republicans control both the White House and Congress, which made Pelosi and Schumer active and powerful participants in the talks, leading to bipartisan outcomes like a $2 billion disaster aid fund, $407 million to combat Western wildfires, and additional grants for transit projects, $100 million in emergency funding to fight the nation’s opioid crisis, and a $2 billion increase for medical research at the National Institutes of Health.

The White House and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., both crowed over a hard-fought $1.3 billion provision to preserve health benefits for more than 22,000 retired coal miners and their families, which was included over the opposition of House Speaker Ryan. Pelosi was the driving force behind an effort to give the cash-strapped government of Puerto Rico $295 million to ease its Medicaid burden.

Negotiators on the bill say it looks pretty much like the measure would have looked like if it had been ironed out last year under Obama — save for Trump’s add-ons for the Pentagon and the border. Democrats scored some wins as well, and Schumer was quick to run a victory lap in a series of media interviews on Monday that appeared to get under Trump’s skin.

“The president is frustrated with the fact that he negotiated in good faith with the Democrats, and they went out to try to spike the football and make him look bad,” White House budget director Mick Mulvaney told reporters. Asked about a potential shutdown later in the year, Mulvaney said, “if the Democrats aren’t going to behave any better than they have in the last couple of days, it may be inevitable.”

Democrats were gleeful at the shutdown talk coming from the highest levels of the White House, which could only increase their leverage in talks on this summer’s round of spending bills for 2018, though Schumer demurred when offered a chance to counter Trump.

“This is a good day, and it’s a bipartisan day, so I’m not going to get into finger pointing,” Schumer said. “It was a bipartisan negotiation as I said. The leaders — Democrat, Republican, House and Senate — work well together. And why ruin that?”

Article source: https://stream.org/government-wide-spending-bill-headed-house-vote/

Trump Seeks Steps From Palestinian Leader Abbas to Promote Peace With Israel

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas


Published on May 3, 2017

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump will press Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to end payments to families of Palestinians imprisoned in Israeli jails, according to U.S. officials, one of several actions Washington believes could lead to resumed peace talks with Israel.

Other actions include a Palestinian end to anti-Israel rhetoric and incitement of violence, said officials familiar with planning for the meeting. It will be Trump and Abbas’ first face-to-face discussion.

The issue of stipends for families of Palestinians killed or jailed in the context of the conflict with Israel is sensitive. Israel considers such payments a reward for terrorists, but stopping them seems untenable to Abbas, especially at a time of broad Palestinian support for a mass hunger strike of prisoners held by Israel. American officials said such a request was raised in preparatory talks with Palestinian officials and three Republican senators urged a halt to such payments in a letter to Trump that reflected widespread opinion in Congress.

While Abbas will be challenged on the payments, Trump will also use their meeting to recommit the United States to helping the Palestinians improve their economic conditions, said the U.S. officials, who weren’t authorized to publicly preview the talks and demanded anonymity. They said Trump will reiterate his belief that Israeli settlement construction on land claimed by the Palestinians does not advance peace prospects.

The peace process has been stalled since 2014 when former Secretary of State John Kerry’s effort to lead the sides into peace talks collapsed. Since then, there have been no serious attempts to get negotiations restarted. The Obama administration spent its last months in office attempting to preserve conditions for an eventual resumption.

“We hope this will be a new beginning,” Abbas told Palestinians at a meeting in Washington on the eve of the talks.

He blamed the lack of dialogue in recent years on the Israeli government, saying its leaders “have no political vision,” and reiterated his demands for an independent Palestinian state along pre-1967 lines, with east Jerusalem as its capital.

“Without this we will not accept any solution,” said Abbas, who touted an Arab League peace plan that offers Israel diplomatic relations with the Muslim world for a Palestinian state. “There is no alternative.”

Israel rejects the 1967 lines as a possible border, saying it would impose grave security risks. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hasn’t outlined an alternative demarcation.

Abbas also criticized ideas for a “one state” peace agreement, saying it could mean “racial discrimination” or an apartheid-like system. Left unspoken was the apparent reference to Trump.

In a February news conference with Netanyahu, Trump broke with longtime U.S. policy by raising the one-state idea and withholding clear support for an independent Palestine, though officials quickly stressed he would support any arrangement agreed by the two sides.

Another contentious issue: Trump’s campaign promise to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The symbolic relocation would essentially recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Abbas and other Arab leaders have said doing so would inflame already simmering tensions.

Since taking office, Trump has backed away from the pledge while saying he’s still discussing it. On Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence said the White House was giving “serious consideration” to the idea.

Pence also said Trump was making progress toward peace, though he didn’t elaborate. He stressed that Israel’s interests would be protected.

“Thanks to the president’s tireless leadership, momentum is building and good will is growing,” Pence said at an event commemorating the anniversary of Israeli independence. “And while there will undoubtedly have to be compromises, you can rest assured: President Donald Trump will never comprise the safety and security of the Jewish state of Israel. Not now, not ever.”


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-seeks-steps-palestinian-leader-abbas-promote-peace-israel/

Straight-Up: The Moral and Natural Law

[Editor’s note: This is part two of Jennifer’s Straight-Up series. Be sure to read part one here, if you missed it.]

I need more coffee. How ‘bout y’all?

Maybe you hear the word “law” and something inside you just shuts down. You don’t want to listen anymore, cause it’s just gonna be a bunch of stupid rules made up by stupid old men who don’t know anything. They sure don’t know you or your life or your problems. Maybe the concept of law means nothing to you unless the law sticks it to the right people. Am I close?

Let this be an opportunity, then. Here’s your chance to demonstrate a willingness to listen and consider what’s being said. That’s a mark of maturity that few adults have these days. I’m not patronizing you, honest. I’m asking you to listen and consider carefully, not react out of emotion. Don’t prejudge. Deal?

So what is the Moral law anyway?

What Does Moral Law Even Mean?

In a nutshell, it’s the law of God. It’s not man-made at all. It is God’s operating code for our lives here on Earth. It defines right from wrong, and safety from danger. It distinguishes truth from lies, and life from death.

As I said before, it’s a mistake to think of the moral law as a ball and chain you have to drag around all your life. It’s purpose isn’t to weigh you down with rules. God’s law isn’t designed to ruin your fun or take things away from you. Just the opposite.

Whatever violates the moral law is sin, and sin holds you captive. Think of the moral law as a Stay Out of Jail card. It is freedom! Far from taking, the moral law is designed to give life.

You can’t choose what’s right if you don’t know what’s right. You can’t avoid the wrong if you can’t identify the wrong. If you don’t know the fire is hot, you’ll reach out your hand and get burned.

You cannot reject the natural law and live a good life. You may have material success, fame and all the luxuries you could wish for, but you will not have a good life.

God has set you up for success, not failure. He isn’t eager to blame you or condemn you. He wants to see you live a life of real joy and freedom. For that reason, He has created each of us with the ability to know His law. You don’t have to be a genius or a philosopher to understand it. In fact, He has written it on every human heart. We call this knowledge that’s engraved on our souls the natural law.

St. Thomas Aquinas explained it this way: “The natural law is nothing other than the light of understanding placed in us by God; through it we know what we must do and what we must avoid.”

The natural law conforms to nature (what a name!) and right human reason. It is universal. It is permanent, or immutable. It does not adapt itself to the different opinions of any age. It stands as a fixed point of light so that however dark and chaotic life gets, the right path can be seen and followed. It’s the Never Get Lost app.

Here’s the straight-up part I want you to hear: You cannot reject the natural law and live a good life. You may have material success, fame and all the luxuries you could wish for, but you will not have a good life. Indeed, a great many people today seem to have everything the world can offer and by all appearances are having a great time. But that’s not what I mean by a good life.

You Choose: God, or Not.

There are really only two choices in this life. God or not. That’s it. Even the biggest decisions you’ll ever make really boil down to that: God, or not. There is no halfway. No in-between. No neutral ground.

We’re only free to live with abandon when we know how to avoid what will kill us.

God loves freedom more than anyone else, so He will never violate yours. He’ll never force you to do anything. But that doesn’t mean you get to make the rules for yourself and expect God to go along. He’s still God and you are not. Did you form God from the dust of the ground? No, you didn’t. Did you set all the stars in place and give the sun its heat? Nope. He did that. Without your help.

When you can put air in your own lungs or form a blade of grass by your own power, then you can make your own laws. Till then, you are blessed to have God and His laws on your side. He wants you to know where the line is so you’ll be able to step back from it. He wants you to understand that *this* will bring you life, but *that* will bring you death so that you can choose life.

We’re only free to live with abandon when we know how to avoid what will kill us. Think of the natural and moral law as the wall around the edge of the cliff keeping you from falling over the side. GK Chesterton described it this way:

Christianity is the only frame which has preserved the pleasure of Paganism. We might fancy some children playing on the flat grassy top of some tall island in the sea. So long as there was a wall round the cliff’s edge they could fling themselves into every frantic game and make the place the noisiest of nurseries. But the walls were knocked down, leaving the naked peril of the precipice. They did not fall over; but when their friends returned to them they were all huddled in terror in the centre of the island; and their song had ceased.

God wants you to live with abandon and joy. He wants you to just plain live, and do that forever with Him. For that reason, He has made His law known to you, and made you able to accept it if you choose. Remember that God will never deny you your choice. But every choice brings consequences or blessings. God will not spare you the consequences of bad choices. He will give you whatever you choose.

Choose wisely by considering the natural law. Listen to the voice of God. Here’s a place to start.

Don’t go away yet! We need to talk about virtue.


This is part two of Jennifer’s Straight-Up series. Stay tuned for part three, coming soon.

Liked what you read? Share it on social media, along with the hashtag #StraightUpTalk.

Article source: https://stream.org/straight-up-the-moral/

Do Women Wearing Bikinis Deserve to Be Sexually Assaulted?

A teenager in Australia pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting 9 women and girls but was not sentenced to prison. Instead, he was put on two-years’ probation. Why? The judge reasoned that, as a Muslim who had immigrated from Afghanistan, “seeing girls in bikinis is different to the environment in which he grew up.”

Seriously? This young man assaults 9 different women and girls on a beach in Australia, and the court finds him not guilty because he came from a different culture?

A Closer Look at the Case

I understand that in Afghanistan, women are required to be completely covered. And so, it would be quite a shock for a Muslim teen raised in that country to come to Australia and see so much flesh.

It’s for that very reason that some believers who come from conservative religious backgrounds avoid going to crowded beaches. They’re not into the bikini culture.

I can relate to that personally, which is why I avoid crowded beaches myself. I’m no more comfortable surrounded by women in bikinis than I’d be surrounded by women in their underwear.

But I fully understand that these women are not asking to be sexually assaulted, no matter how they’re dressed. And it would never dawn on me in a million years that I had the right to assault them because of their scanty attire. God forbid.

You might say, “But you were raised in America, so this is not foreign to you. You understand the culture, which is similar to Australia.”

That’s true.

But do you mean to tell me that this 17-year-old teenager from Afghanistan thought that what he was doing was fine? That, as he swam in the water and “spent two hours grabbing women, aged between 15 and 24 years,” he had no idea he was upsetting them?

The court was told that the “defendant grabbed his victims on their bottoms, breasts and, in three cases, their vaginas.” And the Crown attorney, Nick McGhee “said the defendant was seen swimming up to his victims ‘in quite a predatory manner’.”

And he had no idea this was a bad thing? He had no idea he was at a beach where these girls went to swim, not get assaulted? And, after the first girl reacted to him, he still thought they were inviting his predations?

It’s bad enough that these girls and women have to deal with the trauma of being assaulted and groped. It’s even worse when the court sympathizes with their attacker rather than with them, finding a reason to look the other way.

The judge also noted that the young man had a difficult background, having lost his father in 2011.

But how, exactly, does this lessen his guilt before the court? How, precisely, does this mitigate his responsibility?

It is all too common for convicted criminals to have troubled pasts, and our prisons would be nearly empty if judges looked the other way because the guilty party was raised without a dad. (I don’t mean to sound uncaring here. I’m simply talking about a judge doing his or her duty.)

Let’s Take the Judge’s Decision to Its Logical Conclusion

As for the idea that the teen came from a different culture and therefore was not fully responsible, how far will the courts take such logic?

“Your honor, I killed my daughter because she disgraced the family by dating a non-Muslim boy.”

“Your honor, I poisoned by son because he apostasized from the Islamic faith and became a Christian.”

“Your honor, I burned down the TV station because one of the hosts made disparaging comments about the Quran.”

“Your honor, I butchered the cartoonist because he mocked the prophet Muhammad.”

“Your honor, that’s just what we do in our culture. Please understand I wasn’t used to your way of doing things, and I’ll do better next time.”

Would the judge accept arguments like these? Hardly. (Or perhaps this same judge would accept such arguments. That’s what is really scary.)

What if you came from a cannibalistic culture where tribal disputes were settled with knife fights, and the winners ate the losers? How would this play out in court?

“Your honor, yes, it’s true that I roasted and ate my neighbor, but it’s a cultural thing. If I had lost the fight, I assumed he would have done the same to me. So, can I go home now?”

The Message It Sends

It’s bad enough that these girls and women have to deal with the trauma of being assaulted and groped. It’s even worse when the court sympathizes with their attacker rather than with them, finding a reason to look the other way. And what kind of message does this send to other Muslim immigrants, who will surely hear of this court case in the days to come?

Ironically, if an Australian woman living in Afghanistan decided to dress as she did in her home country, she’d be lucky to escape a mob assault on the streets, let alone experience leniency from the court. Yet in Australia, a young man guilty of multiple sexual assaults is let off the hook because of his Muslim background.

This is being open-minded to the point of utter foolishness. It sets a very dangerous precedent too.

Article source: https://stream.org/women-wearing-bikinis-deserve-sexually-assaulted/