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the thinking everyman’s national daily—championing freedom, smaller government and human dignity.
Updated: 3 hours 29 min ago

Kids Chained in Calif. House of Horrors; Parents Arrested

Tue, 01/16/2018 - 14:51

PERRIS, Calif. (AP) -- A 17-year-old girl called police after escaping from her family’s home where she and her 12 brothers and sisters were locked up in filthy conditions, some so malnourished officers at first believed all were children even though seven are adults.

The girl, who was so small officers initially believed she was only 10, called 911 and was met by police who interviewed her and then went to the family home in Perris, about 70 miles southeast of Los Angeles. They found several children shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks in dark, foul-smelling surroundings, according to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.

The children, ages 2 to 29, “appeared to be malnourished and very dirty,” according to a press release announcing Sunday’s arrest of the parents. “The victims were provided with food and beverages after they claimed to be starving.”

David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, each were held on $9 million bail and could face charges including torture and child endangerment.

It wasn’t immediately known if they had attorneys.

State Department of Education records show the family home has the same address as Sandcastle Day School, where David Turpin is listed as principal. In the 2016-17 school year it had an enrollment of six with one student in each of the fifth, sixth, eighth, ninth, 10th and 12th grades.

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Neighbors said they were stunned by the arrests. Andrew Santillan, who lives around the corner, heard about the case from a friend.

“I had no idea this was going on,” he told the Press-Enterprise of Riverside. “I didn’t know there were kids in the house.”

Other neighbors described the family as intensely private.

A few years ago, Robert Perkins said he and his mother saw a few family members constructing a Nativity scene in the Turpins’ front yard. Perkins said he complimented them on it.

“They didn’t say a word,” he said.

The Turpins filed for bankruptcy in 2011, stating in court documents they owed between $100,000 and $500,000, The New York Times reported. At that time, Turpin worked as an engineer at Northrop Grumman and earned $140,000 annually and his wife was a homemaker, records showed.

Their bankruptcy lawyer, Ivan Trahan, told the Times he never met the children but the couple “spoke about them highly.”

“We remember them as a very nice couple,” Trahan said, adding that Louise Turpin told him the family loved Disneyland and visited often.

 

Copyright 2018 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Fire and Fury: It’s False, That’s How We Know It’s True

Tue, 01/16/2018 - 14:40

There’s concern in the City of Others Riches (Washington D.C.) that Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury book about the Trump White House contains as much truth as an advertisement for herbal male supplements.

Matt Labash at Weekly Standard read the book and told us of the author’s note

where Wolff states that many of the accounts in Fire and Fury are in conflict with one another and many, “in Trumpian fashion, are baldly untrue … and that looseness with the truth, if not with reality itself” is “an elemental thread of this book.” Or put another way: Despite him weighing the evidence and settling “on a version of events I believe to be true,” everything that follows might be a lie.

This sobering and cautionary warning means that the book might better resemble one of Bill Clinton’s “explanations” than the truth. Still, as Labash concludes, “what comes through loud and clear in Wolff’s telling is that no matter how bad you thought it was in Trump’s White House, it was actually much worse.”

The reception of Wolff’s book is thus a prime example of the False-But-True Fallacy.

Many are saying things like this. Sure, Wolff might have included stories like the one he heard from a guy, who himself got it “from a woman on the beach in Florida, who heard it in a carpool line.” But since these stories show Trump to be the moronic oaf we know him to be, they must be true. Even if they’re false.

Seeing What Isn’t There

The reception of Wolff’s book is thus a prime example of the False-But-True Fallacy.

The False-But-True Fallacy, which I sometimes call the Meta Fallacy because it is the mother of all fallacious arguments, is hard to explain. So stick with me.

It works like this. A certain proposition is first conjectured to be true, like “President Trump is an idiot or incompetent.” Evidence for this belief is put forward, as in the case of Wolff’s book. This evidence, if accepted, confirms the belief.

But we later discover that the evidence is false, or likely false. Indeed, we learn that the evidence might have been juiced, or even in part manufactured.

Since the evidence upon which people have been relying has been proved or judged faulty, it would seem that the strength of the belief in the proposition must diminish. But it doesn’t. If anything, it increases.

Logically Illogical

How could this happen when the rules of logic say it’s impossible?

Because people argue like this. “The evidence would never have been juiced if the proposition wasn’t really true, because nobody would have bothered to make up stories unless there existed other stories like the made-up ones, but about which we never heard.”

If we accept that excuse, then it does follow that the proposition is true. Trump really is incompetent if we accept that there are stories we don’t know about, which prove Trump is an incompetent.

In this way, the person who wants to believe, can. His argument is complete, as long as his false-but-true premise is accepted. The only problem is, there is no real basis other than desire to believe the false-but-true premise.

Come Flay Away

Where else have we seen the False-But-True Fallacy? It sounds uncommon, but it isn’t. I call it the Meta Fallacy because it’s the driver of lesser fallacies. We might even call it the I-Want-To-Believe Fallacy, or for fans of science fiction, the X-Files Fallacy, named for its protagonist, who had a poster with those words.

The False-But-True Fallacy is beloved of UFO buffs. (Here’s the Stream again talking about UFOs!) Every time NASA or the Air Force says, “It wasn’t an extraterrestrial; what people saw was a natural phenomenon,” the saucerologist says, “Aha! He’s denies it! So it must be true.”

The hidden premise used by the believer is, “The government doesn’t want us to know, therefore when it observes UFOs, it lies to us.” That the government sometimes lies is unfortunately not always a bad premise, but it is here.

I’ll Drink to That

Atheists are fond of the False-But-True Fallacy. Eyewitness reports that Jesus turned water into wine is used in a false-but-true proof that God (probably) doesn’t exist by claiming eyewitnesses of miracles are always confused or lying. Thus the presence of an eye-witeness account proves the miracle couldn’t have happened.

Talking the True Believer out of his False-But-True belief is never easy. For instance, Labash got from Wolff’s book that Trump’s “eyes rolled” while being lectured, which he takes as proof of Trump’s limited mental capacity. But the eye-rolling could equally well be the standard reaction of a bright student who grasps the material faster than this less-gifted teachers can dish it out.

The evidence supports both views. Yet in this case, commonsense strongly suggests that only an intelligent man could rise in the manner he did to the post of presidency.

Newt’s Test: One Year In, How Transformative has Trump Been?

Tue, 01/16/2018 - 13:37

Newt said we would know in a year. As 2016 turned to 2017, former Speaker Newt Gingrich gave a series of lectures for the Heritage Foundation on Trumpism. He observed that President Trump could be more transformational than Ronald Reagan or the Contract with America. Gingrich said we would not have to wait long to make a judgment.

"We'll know in a year," said Gingrich, "if this was a real watershed or just a temporary aberration." He then outlined a lengthy checklist of outcomes for which to look. Gingrich even suggested that Heritage convene a conference to double-check them in early 2018. Perhaps that will yet happen. But seeing no such event on the calendar, here’s an initial assessment.

Trump on Jobs, Regulations and Healthcare

Q: "Are there jobs, jobs, jobs?"

A: Yes. Here, the news is pretty good. The unemployment rate stands at 4.1 percent, down 0.6 percent from a year ago. There are 354,000 fewer long term unemployed persons. A broadly downward trend for unemployment was already in place when President Trump set foot in office, but it has continued and any administration would see that as a win.

Q: "Have tough pro-America trade negotiations begun?"

A: Maybe. The United States left the Trans-Pacific Partnership and is threatening to do the same with NAFTA if current talks do not lead to changes. Regarding China -- not a participant in the TPP, by the way -- the administration is threatening tariffs but has yet to make any major moves.

Q: "Has the new private-public approach to space dramatically accelerated our emergence as the leader in space manufacturing, tourism, travel, and science?"

A: Probably not. Private space ventures have made some headlines, but NASA is still run by an Obama holdover. (Newt has always had a quirky space fetish, but for most of us, this may not be one of the most important markers for measuring an administration.)

Q: "Are there dramatically fewer federal regulations in January 2018?"

A: No. While the growth of federal regulations has slowed a lot, only a few regulations that were on the books in January 2017 are now gone.

In an age ruled by emotions and tribalism, the mere discipline of asking and honestly answering measurable questions is important.

Q: "Has Medicaid been largely transferred to the states to manage and experiment?"

A: No. No major changes have been made to Medicaid, though states now have the option of linking certain benefits to work requirements.

Q: "Has the replacement of Obamacare with a decentralized, transparent, doctor-patient centered system of health and healthcare begun?"

A: Somewhat. This answer depends on how generously one reads the word "begun" in the question. Obamacare has clearly not been repealed and replaced as long promised, but the individual mandate to buy insurance has been eliminated. Prospects for a major overhaul on healthcare during the next year seem slim, though.

Q: "Has the public and private investment in health research begun to lower future costs through dramatic breakthroughs in knowledge and cures?"

A: Probably not. Healthcare costs (at least as measured through insurance premiums) have continued to rise and there has been no fundamental change to how the country invests in healthcare research.

Trump on School Choice, The Military and Infrastructure

Q: "Do dramatically more children have school choice so they can be liberated from bad schools?"

A: No. The Department of Education under Secretary Betsy DeVos has returned the idea of "school choice" to the public discussion. But,so far, there have been no major legislative advancements on this front beyond a tax provision that allows 529 education savings plans to be used to fund private K-12 education. Only about 3 percent of U.S. families currently use a 529 plan, however.

Q: "Are political correctness and anti-American intellectualism being confronted at every turn with honest reality and American values and traditions?"

A: Somewhat. Political correctness has certainly been confronted by Trump, but too often his confrontations do not elevate either honest reality or American values. Here, President Trump's comments about the Charlottesville protests and the birthplaces of legal immigrants come quickly to mind.

Q: "Is the military being rebuilt?"

A: Not yet. While significantly more money has been authorized for defense, those dollars are not real until they are actually appropriated. That process remains bogged down, so far producing only short-term spending bills that move from one potential government shut-down to the next.

Q: “Do we have a coherent strategy for defeating Islamic supremacists?"

A: Somewhat. At least as to liberating ISIS-held territory, a strategy emerged and has been largely successful. Regarding Iran, the nuclear deal that Obama cut and Trump criticized is still in effect, and the administration's future approach is less than clear.

"Trumpism," noted Gingrich, "measures results, not efforts." Based on these metrics, it would be difficult to declare that the President's first year signals a true watershed moment for the nation.

Q: "Is the wasteful defense bureaucracy and procurement system being overhauled?"

A: Not yet. There are hopes for addressing these structural issues in 2018, but major reform did not occur last year.

Q: "Are we actually creating a better infrastructure rapidly and cost effectively with minimum red tape?"

A: No. Infrastructure is merely on the "maybe" list for 2018.

Q: "Has the wall been completed and the southern border secured?"

A: No. The big, beautiful wall has not progressed beyond the model stage.

Trump on Poverty, Veterans and America’s Budget

Q: "Have the poorest parts of our cities and our rural and small town areas begun to grow and have hope?"

A: Probably not. President Trump declared an opioid emergency but little of substance has followed. His poll numbers have declined among all segments of the population, including his base of blue collar voters.

Q: "Has the overhaul of the Veteran's Administration begun?"

A: Yes. A VA reform bill was passed and signed, making it easier to fire underperforming employees.

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Q: "Is there a new deal for African Americans as candidate Trump promised in Charlotte in October [2016]?"

A: Probably not. If there is one, the African American community has yet to hear of it. Bedbugs and junk mail still make a more favorable impression in this community than President Trump.

Q: "Are we on a path to combine rapid economic growth, economic use of federal assets, and dramatic reforms in spending to get back to a balanced budget?"

A: Probably not. While Trump's one major legislative achievement, the GOP tax cut statute, may improve economic growth, no spending cuts have been made nor do such appear on the horizon. A balanced budget seems very unlikely during Trump's first term.

At Best, an “Incomplete”

As Newt notes, one could add other questions to the list. Christian conservative voters might have asked whether the judiciary is more amenable to religious liberty (it is) and whether Planned Parenthood has been defunded (it has not). Fundamentally, has the cause of Christ been elevated or degraded? (Talk amongst yourselves.) The content of the questions matter. But in an age ruled by emotions and tribalism, the mere discipline of asking and honestly answering measurable questions is important.

"Trumpism," noted Gingrich, "measures results, not efforts." Based on these metrics, it would be hard to declare that the President's first year signals a true watershed moment for the nation. The swamp is draining slowly, if at all. Instead, Trump showed a potential that was too often squandered by distraction. At best, one can only give Trump an "incomplete." Year two of the Trump presidency ends with elections that will be provide an even more important test.

 

John Murdock is a professor at the Handong International Law School.

US Olympic Gymnast Simone Biles Accuses Physician of Sexual Abuse

Tue, 01/16/2018 - 13:11

Olympic gymnast Simone Biles came forward with her own #MeToo story, alleging a gymnastics doctor sexually abused her, in a Monday statement.

Biles accused former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar of sexually abusing her, saying it might be unexpected for people to hear as she is usually known as an "energetic" girl.

"I too am one of the many survivors that was sexually abused by Larry Nassar. Please believe me when I say it was a lot harder to first speak those words out loud than it is now to put them on paper," Biles tweeted in a statement Monday. "There are many reasons that I have been reluctant to share my story, but I know now it is not my fault."

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Biles joins female gymnasts Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney, among others who have also accused Nassar of sexual abuse. Nassar was recently sentenced to 60 years in prison for a federal child pornography charge in December 2017. He will face anther sentencing for sexual misconduct charges within the next week.

"For too long I've asked myself 'Was I too naive? Was it my fault?' I now know the answer to those questions," Biles said. "No. No, It wasn't my fault. No, I will not and should not carry the guilt that belongs to Larry Nassar, USAG and others."

 

Follow Amber on Twitter. Send tips to amber@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

Copyright 2018 The Daily Caller News Foundation

First Hawaii, Now Japan Sending Fake Missile Alerts

Tue, 01/16/2018 - 12:58

Japan's national public broadcasting organization erroneously issued an emergency alert Tuesday signaling an imminent North Korean missile strike.

"North Korea appears to have launched a missile," Japan's national public broadcaster NHK announced Tuesday evening, "The government urges people to take shelter inside buildings or underground."

NHK was "deeply" apologetic after it mistakenly sent out the inaccurate emergency alert. The J-alert system, which broadcasts over televisions, to mobile phones, on the radio, and over loudspeakers, is set up to warn the Japanese people in the event of an attack. But, seeing as there was no missile, no alert should have been sent.

??6?55??NHK?????????NHK????????????????????????????????????????????????????J???????????????????????

— NHK@??? (@nhk_shutoken) January 16, 2018

Such an alert could be particularly alarming for a country that has seen North Korean ballistic missiles soar overhead multiple times in the past year.

NHK is investigating the situation.

NHK's mistake follows a more troubling incident in Hawaii in which the following message was sent to phones across the state by the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency bright and early Saturday morning: "BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL."

It took 38 minutes for the disaster management team to reveal that this was a mistake. In that time, people huddled in basements with their loved ones, assuming that their lives might soon be over.

"You can only imagine what kicked in," Democratic Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard told CNN. "This is a real threat facing Hawaii, so people got this message on their phones and they thought, 15 minutes, we have 15 minutes before me and my family could be dead."

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While Hawaii was the first such incident this year, a similar incident happened in Guam last year at a time when North Korea was threatening to ring the island with "enveloping fire."

Two radio stations in Guam accidentally broadcast a civil danger warning in the middle of the night just one week after Pyongyang threatened the U.S. territory in an escalating war of words between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un that began with Trump's now famous "fire and fury" quote.

Unlike conventional warnings, a "civil danger warning" indicates a major threat to a large civilian population, such as a military attack on the island.

 

Follow Ryan on Twitter

Copyright 2018 The Daily Caller News Foundation

A New York Times Column Reminds Us How to Fight Abortion Most Effectively

Tue, 01/16/2018 - 12:42

She “felt like I was undercover behind enemy lines.” Staunch pro-choicer and California law professor Michelle Oberman had stepped into the kind of place she often criticizes: a pro-life crisis pregnancy center.

She discovered a place of compassion. And a challenge to pro-lifers.

What She Learned

Even though she wasn’t actually undercover, she felt like it, she wrote on The New York Times’ opinion page last week. She traveled to Oklahoma to better understand the pro-life movement, she explained. Birth Choice of Oklahoma invited her for a visit.

Many of Birth Choice’s clients come from abusive situations, addiction and poverty, she learned. The center helps them overcome basic hurdles, like finding prenatal care and registering for Medicaid.

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What really impressed Oberman was that Birth Choice goes ever further. How? With Rose Home. The shelter hosts “the most vulnerable of its clients” and their children.

“They have weekly meetings with caseworkers to articulate goals and plan their futures,” Oberman writes. And “they receive counseling, drug abuse treatment and vocational training. They get help making court dates, permitting them to regain custody of their children currently in foster care.”

The Crucial Work of Crisis Pregnancy Centers

Oberman seems to paint Birth Choice of Oklahoma as the exception to the rule of unhelpful, lie-spreading pro-life centers. She cites a 2006 congressional report commissioned by former Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman.

It claims that many federally-funded crisis pregnancy centers spread “misinformation.” For instance, workers told women that abortions could cause breast cancer, infertility and depression. (While some studies have shown a link between abortion and breast cancer, the general medical consensus is that there is none. But multiple abortions can lead to future pregnancy complications. And many post-abortive women suffer from Post Abortion Syndrome.)

We can’t focus all our efforts on passing the next bill rather than improving our local crisis pregnancy centers.

While it appears that some centers have cited false statistics to scare women, Birth Choice may not be as much of an exception as Oberman believes. Important crisis pregnancy centers exist all over the country. Many provide resources like counseling services, maternal classes and housing assistance.

But are enough crisis pregnancy centers offering these critical aids? Barbara Chishko, a founder of Birth Choice, doesn’t think so. She suggests that Rose Home is unique. She told Oberman many pro-life centers offer “no shelters, no clinical services.” She said they “just administer pregnancy tests and give out baby clothes. Just persuade women not to abort their babies.”

That’s the point for us. Not to get hung up over whether Oberman has a bad opinion of crisis pregnancy centers. (She already admitted that she does.) We must ask ourselves if we’re doing everything we can to extend practical help to pregnant women who need it most.

Why Many Women Abort

Why? Oberman gives us the answer: “One of the largest research studies on the question of why women choose abortion surveyed about 1,200 abortion patients and found 73 percent said they could not afford a baby at the time.”

On the pro-life side, we often paint the choice to abort as an inherently selfish one. We believe no circumstance, no matter how difficult, justifies one person taking the innocent life of another.

As Oberman points out, abortion is often the result of financial pressure. For women whose lives are falling apart, keeping the baby may actually feel more selfish than abortion. It’s not an option they feel excited about. But it may seem like their only one.

That’s why it’s our job as the pro-life community to show these women otherwise. Not simply by telling them, “you can do it!” But by doing it with them. By providing shelter, education, medical care and other basic needs. Such assistance will help both the woman and her baby survive and even thrive.

Don’t Miss This Opportunity

At the end of her column, Oberman writes that “it will, at some level, always be cheaper for a woman to have an abortion than to have a baby.” She argues pro-lifers should help pregnant women economically. Not pass laws to “drive up the costs of abortion.”

Like most pro-lifers, I would argue that we still need to pass pro-life laws. The legislative victories achieved since Roe v. Wade have saved perhaps millions of lives. They should be celebrated.

But we can’t focus all our efforts on passing the next bill. We also need to focus a lot of our efforts on improving the way our local crisis pregnancy centers can help pregnant women. We can’t place all our hope in the possibility of Roe being overturned rather than investing in more pro-life women’s shelters. If we do, we’ve missed a huge opportunity to save lives -- not only the lives of the unborn but the lives of their mothers.

The Instant Pot and How Empathy is at the Core of Capitalism

Tue, 01/16/2018 - 11:48

You don't have to search far to read claims that capitalism is centered on greed and selfishness. For some, the assertion seems self-evident as they read, for example, stories of pharmaceutical companies dramatically increasing the price of important drugs. Those who hold a "capitalists are greedy" belief fail to distinguish between crony capitalists -- who make their money through subsidies, mandates and government restrictions on competition -- and entrepreneurs who make their money through fulfilling the most urgent needs of consumers.

The Instant Pot is a little story of how entrepreneurs unselfishly better our world. If you don’t have an Instant Pot or don’t cook, you are probably wondering what the fuss is about. If you have one, you know.

Without traditional advertising, Instant Pot has become a best-selling item on Amazon, selling 215,000 units on Amazon Prime Day. Bloomberg Magazine calls it a "magical pot."

The Wonders and Success of the Instant Pot

Reimagined for the 21st Century, the Instant Pot combines slow cooker and pressure cooker features and adds others. We have two Instant Pots on our kitchen counter; most days, we use both.

Meals with whole grains and beans are staples in our home. When our pressure cooker didn't seal, the meal was delayed. Scrubbing burnt pots was part of our routine. We assumed these frustrations were the price we paid for home cooking until the Instant Pot arrived. Dr. Robert Wang, the inventor of the Instant Pot, was certain there was a better way that only he could see.

In 2008, Dr. Wang, a Chinese immigrant to Canada with a Ph.D. in Computer Science, was laid off from his job. With $350,000 of his savings and two other engineers, he founded his company Double Insight. The future would hold profit or loss; they did not know. In 18 months, the Instant Pot was invented.

Give customers what they want, not what you have.

Wang seeks relentlessly to improve his invention. He has read all 39,000 Amazon customer product reviews. He relies on customer feedback to design an ever-better user experience and adds cooking prowess to each new generation of the product. Since he doesn't advertise, Wang credits his viral business success to product development and customer support.

Wang is following a rule of all successful entrepreneurs: Give customers what they want, not what you have. Customers didn't want another choice of traditional cookers, they wanted a gadget that could help them make nutritious home-cooked meals in much less time and a minimal learning curve. Yes, Dr. Wang created wealth for himself; but he did so by improving the lives of others, including a small economy of cookbook authors showing how to use the Instant Pot for every possible cuisine. Win-win.

Capitalist vs. Crony Capitalist

It is "crony" capitalists who seek to give the consumer what their company has and not what the consumer wants. Crony capitalists use government coercion to force the consumer to buy what they don't want. Ethanol-laced gasoline is a good example. Who wants it? Ethanol hurts both consumers and the environment. With government mandates, the crony capitalist ethanol producers win, everyone else loses.

Successful entrepreneurs have empathy for the consumer; crony capitalists focus on their own needs.

In his book Wired to Care, business strategy adviser Dev Patnaik argues that the secret sauce of innovation is empathy. Success "requires [businesses] to leave their own agendas behind, and actually care about how other people see the world."

Patnaik explains how empathetic organizations innovate faster:

When people in an organization have an implicit understanding of the world around them, they make a thousand better decisions every day. They're able to see new opportunities faster than companies that rely on secondhand information. And they spend less time and money arguing about things that should be intuitively obvious. Empathy drives growth because it tells an organization what's valuable to the people outside its walls.

Steve Jobs was famous for saying, "A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them." If you see arrogance in Jobs' words, look again.

"The highest expression of empathy," writes Jeff Booth, the CEO of BuildDirect, is "addressing customer needs before they're even aware of them." Booth concludes, "When you can step into your customers' shoes -- and see the world from their perspective, not yours -- it's easier to walk miles ahead of the competition."

Dr. Wang knows the open secret of business success -- empathy. Empathy, not greed, is the essence of an entrepreneurial mindset that fosters innovation to meet the urgent needs of customers.

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To those who assume capitalists are greedy, it may seem startling to call profit-seeking entrepreneurs compassionate. For many, compassion begins with politicians redistributing income. Yet, empathy is a gateway to compassion. When an entrepreneur sees clearly the unmet needs of others, action to alleviate the need is possible.

For millions of people, Dr. Wang's invention has increased the benefits and reduced the sacrifices of preparing wholesome meals. Just a few years ago, Wang invested his time and money in the company and a product with unknown consumer demand; there was no guarantee of success. Is that not an act of compassion?

Entrepreneurs, not crony capitalists with their political enablers, bring you well-stocked supermarkets with fresh food from all over the planet and a better pot for cooking.

 

 

Barry Brownstein is professor emeritus of economics and leadership at the University of Baltimore. He is the author of The Inner-Work of Leadership. He delivers leadership workshops to organizations and blogs at BarryBrownstein.com, and Giving up Control.

This article is reprinted from FEE.org.

Comic Book Convention Bans Christian Actor Kevin Sorbo Because ‘He’s Pals With Sean Hannity’

Tue, 01/16/2018 - 10:00

East Coast Comicon founder Cliff Galbraith posted on Facebook last week that he banned Christian actor Kevin Sorbo from his ucoming convention because Sorbo is friends with Sean Hannity.

“I turned down Kevin Sorbo for East Coast Comicon,” Galbraith wrote. “He’s pals with Sean Hannity. I just can’t do it.” The post has since been pulled. His company declares on its website, “Our mission is to bring great guests and keep comics and its creators the focus of our shows.” Apparently not all great guests.

Galbraith’s leftism is evident in his social media posts as well as last year’s conference program. It featured the Statue of Liberty surrounded by vipers with names like “homophobia,” “misogyny,” “intolerance,” “xenophobia” and other leftist buzzwords. 

Screen grab from YouTube video by REALITY TALK REVIEWS.

While Galbraith may brag, his brand of Christianphobia is nothing new for Sorbo, best known for his starring role in the television series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. Sean Hannity produced his latest movie, the faith-based Let There Be Light, which was released in 2017. 

“There’s a negativity towards Christians in Hollywood,” Sorbo told FOX411. “And a negativity towards people who believe in God.”

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“There’s so much bashing going on in the media and world for people who believe in God,” Sorbo said. “I’m just not afraid of the [politically correct] crowd. I’ll go right back at them.”

Waking Giant

“I think ultimately, the sleeping giant is waking up. People are tired of it,” Sorbo added. “Christians as a whole, I find, are far more tolerant than the kinds of things you see on SNL and MSNBC bashing Christians and making comedic jokes about Jesus.”

Sorbo said Christians need to stand up for their beliefs and not cower under pressure. “The silent majority is starting to get annoyed with what’s going on” he said. “I think more people need to start speaking about it instead of just sitting there and taking it because we’ve turned into a bunch of wusses and it’s ridiculous. Its happening, you’re getting attacked, you need to stand up for yourself and your beliefs.”

Military Photo of the Day: An Artificial Sunrise

Tue, 01/16/2018 - 08:00

An illumination round lights up the night sky after a successful fire mission in Helmand province, Afghanistan, on December 27, 2017.

Thank you to all of our troops serving in Afghanistan. Stay safe!

 

 

 

 

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Trump’s Comments: What Matters is Where We Go from Here

Tue, 01/16/2018 - 02:12

So many today are tweeting quotes from Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. So many are still obsessing over President Trump’s reported comment last week. The cynic in me understands many are quoting King not out of any reverence for the American prophet, but as a thumb in the eye to Trump.

The humorist in me laughs that many of the same people shouting we should judge people “not on the color of their skin but on the content of their character” are scorching Trump for promoting merit based immigration.

The Bible student in me notes that God can do amazing things with flawed people.

What did Trump say? We know what’s been reported, what’s been repeatedly repeated, what’s been even projected onto one of his hotels. We know others in the room say it didn’t happen. We know Trump himself admits to using “tough” language.

And we know it has proven hurtful. It has proven fodder for an agenda and narrative that goes back to the day Trump announced.

There is much to take seriously and much to dismiss.

What I Take Seriously

I take Rep. Mia Love's concerns seriously. She is the child of Haitian immigrants. On Thursday she tweeted,

Here is my statement on the President's comments today: pic.twitter.com/EdtsFjc2zL

— Rep. Mia Love (@RepMiaLove) January 11, 2018

I take seriously the ire of African countries, and understand why they'd drag our ambassadors in for a slapdown.

I take seriously Paul Ryan’s comment that the reported remarks are “very unfortunate, unhelpful.” In this climate where even hoop rings and Dr. Seuss are considered racist, it makes the road to serious immigration reform more difficult.

I also take seriously that few seem interested in actually answering why immigrants from dysfunctional countries would get preference over those from functional countries.

I take very seriously that this President has a role to play in racial reconciliation; that it won’t be enough to dramatically improve the economic lives and opportunities for those of color, or make their streets safer. It certainly means more than saying, “I am not a racist.”

More on this in a bit.

I Do Not Take Seriously

I do not take Maxine Waters seriously. Her mouth helped burn black and Korean neighborhoods to the ground in the L.A. Riots. The dozens dead in the wake of her racially-charged inciting still await an apology.

I don't take Hillary Clinton's comments seriously. After what she did to Haiti, their national motto could be "Me Too."

I do not take Hollywood seriously. It's a safe bet these people said the same thing about Van Nuys. It’s the same industry that until the past couple years would rarely bother to nominate people of color.

I do not take seriously the cable news indignation. For one thing, they say what he said was horrible, yet keep repeating it over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. For another, do we need to go back and look at what media figures said about the vast stretches of the U.S. that voted for Trump? Just once I'd like to see the Chris Cuomos and the Don Lemons outraged when Americans or America is trashed.

For that matter, where was the wall-to-wall pontificating when Obama called Libya a "s***show"? A show he helped produce by helping the overthrow of Col. Muammar Gaddafi and not preparing for the aftermath. So much concern today over the feelings of those in Africa and Haiti. What about the families of the dead or those in Libya being sold into slavery? What about those in Port-a-Prince who do not have a sewer system, yet the Clinton Foundation and Hillary's brother Tony are flush with Haiti plunder?

The Honoring

When I hear the “Trump is a racist” mantra, three things come to mind. I reported on the first last May after I attended the Liberty University graduation. Trump gave the commencement.

Earlier in the program Liberty's LU Praise gospel group had been set to perform. In fact, they were going to do a number they had performed at the Inaugural. Unfortunately, thanks to a computer glitch, there was no music. Mindful of the President's tight schedule, the program moved on.

After the President's speech and events were nearing their end, Liberty President Jerry Falwell, Jr. had a surprise. Trump was insisting LU Praise be given its chance to sing. The joyful, predominately black choir kicked in: "We've Come This Far By Faith." Falwell -- and the Secret Service -- were in for another surprise. Trump grabbed Falwell, and headed down the steps to join the choir on the field. The President cheered them on as their voices soared through the stadium. When they finished, he offered handshakes and posed for several spontaneous photos.

Sometimes it's not what you say, it's what you do.

 

I have trouble accepting as racist a fellow who would throw off his schedule, that of a university, send the Secret Service into a tizzy, all to honor, respect, sing and selfie with a black choir. Nobody, not even Joy Reid, would have criticized the President had he just left and flown home. Stream founder James Robison often speaks of how every time he’s been with Trump he stops and honors some worker or onlooker most of us would never even notice.

The Listening

There is one other thing that Trump has done on the down low. To me it suggests he knows he has an issue to wrestle with and needs help tackling it. Mike Hayes is the Founding Pastor of my church, Covenant Church. Covenant is so well-known for its racial harmony that Pastor Hayes was asked to join the President's faith advisory board specifically to deal with this issue. “You know how to do this.”

He tells of receiving a call at 2 a.m. from the White House. Chief of Staff John Kelly had a request. Could Hayes gather five of the wisest African-American pastors and come and meet with Trump to work on ways to bring about racial reconciliation in America? “We don’t know how to do this.”

The Acting

As much as one may hope President Trump will lose the New York construction guy potty-mouth, that’s not the crucial thing. Nor even is Democrats attempts to make him into Archie Bunker’s evil twin. What’s crucial is where we are going as a nation. What counts is what Trump does. If Trump is serious about racial reconciliation, is humble enough to continue listening to the likes of Mike Hayes, Sammy Rodriguez, Bishop Harry Jackson and other men and women of God, and do the gritty work they recommend, our wounds can be healed.

(Ironically, hours before Trump made his controversial comments, he was encouraging prison reform. Prison reform is one of the key elements of Bishop Jackson’s “Healing the Racial Divide” program.)

The Dream

These three vignettes establish a path for the President to follow: Honoring, Listening, Acting. If Trump honors, listens and acts, in ways public and private, small and large, guided by prayer and godly counsel, he can help Dr. King’s dream come alive in our day.

We must pray for the President, and for those giving him counsel. If our prayers our heard, then perhaps the four letter word this administration will be best remembered for is “Love.”

“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.” MLK

In Chile, Pope Met with Protests, Passion and Skepticism

Tue, 01/16/2018 - 02:03

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) -- Pope Francis flew in to Chile’s capital Monday night for a visit expected to be met with protests over sexual abuse by priests and confronted by many Chileans deeply skeptical about the Roman Catholic Church.

It’s the pope’s first visit to the Andean nation of 17 million people since taking the reins of the church in 2013. It comes at a time when many Chileans are furious over Francis’ 2015 decision to appoint a bishop close to the Rev. Fernando Karadima, who the Vatican found guilty in 2011 of abusing dozens of minors over decades.

The Rev. Juan Barros, bishop of the southern city of Osorno, has always denied he knew what Karadima was doing when he was the priest’s protege, a position that many Chileans have a hard time believing.

“It’s not just time for the pope to ask for forgiveness for the abuses but also to take action,” said Juan Carlos Cruz, a victim of Karadima.

Cruz added that if it wasn’t possible to jail bad bishops, “at the very least they can be removed from their positions.”

After deplaning, Francis was greeted by President Michelle Bachelet and a band played while the two walked on a red carpet as night began to fall. The pope traveled in a black sedan to the center of the city, flanked by several cars. He then transferred to a popemobile, waving to small crowds of well-wishers who lined up along avenues.

Crowds were notably thin, particularly compared to papal visits in other Latin American countries.

“Long live the pope!” yelled some as he passed by in the pope mobile.

Others carried signs criticizing the pope or extolling him to act.

“Stop the abuse, Francis!” read one sign. “You can so you must!”

Over the next three days, Francis is scheduled to celebrate Mass in Santiago, the southern city of Temuco and the northern city of Iquique. On Thursday, the pope will go to Peru for a three-day visit.

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Francis’ trip was aimed at highlighting the plight of immigrants and indigenous peoples and underscoring the need to preserve the Amazon rain forest. However, sexual abuse by priests has taken front and center in the weeks before his arrival.

Hours before Francis landed, activists on issues related to sex abuse by priests called for sanctions against both abusers and anyone who helped cover up their actions.

About 200 people attended the first of several activities aimed at making the sex abuse scandal a central topic of Francis’ time in the country.

The majority of Chileans continue to declare themselves Roman Catholics, but the church has lost the influence and moral authority it once enjoyed thanks to the scandals, secularization and an out-of-touch clerical caste.

“I used to be a strong believer and churchgoer,” said Blanca Carvucho, a 57-year-old secretary in Santiago. “All the contradictions have pushed me away.”

To be sure, many eagerly awaited a chance to see the pope and celebrate their faith.

Moises Lopez, a 35-year-old musician, took a bus from northern Chile to Santiago in hopes of seeing the pontiff.

“I consider myself a pilgrim,” Lopez said. “I could have stayed comfortably at home and watched the pope on television, but I prefer to make an effort to see him in person once in my life.”

The pope will try to inject new energy into the church during his visit, which gets underway in earnest Tuesday with a series of protocol visits for church and state.

He also plans sessions with migrants, members of Chile’s Mapuche indigenous group and victims of the 1973-1990 military dictatorship. It remains to be seen if he will meet with sex abuse survivors. A meeting wasn’t on the agenda, but such encounters never are.

Chile’s church earned wide respect during the regime of Gen. Augusto Pinochet because it spoke out against the military’s human rights abuses, but it began a downward spiral in 2010 when victims of a charismatic, politically connected priest came forward with allegations that he had kissed and fondled them.

Local church leaders had ignored the complaints against Karadima for years, but they were forced to open an official investigation after the victims went public and Chilean prosecutors started investigating. The Vatican in 2011 sentenced Karadima to a lifetime of “penance and prayer” for his crimes, but the church leadership hasn’t won back Chileans’ trust for having covered up Karadima’s crimes for so long.

“The Karadima case created a ferocious wound,” said Chile’s ambassador to the Holy See, Mariano Fernandez Amunategui. He and others inside the Vatican speak openly of a Chilean church “in crisis” as a result, a remarkable admission of the scandal’s toll on a church that wielded such political clout that it helped stave off laws legalizing divorce and abortion until recently.

Chileans’ disenchantment has even affected their views of the pope himself. A recent survey by Latinobarometro, a respected regional polling firm, found that Chile had a lower esteem for history’s first Latin American pope than 18 other Central and South American countries. Even among Chilean Catholics, only 42 percent approve of the job Francis is doing, compared to a regional average of 68 percent.

“The serious error of the Catholic Church in the Karadima case wasn’t that the case existed, which the church couldn’t avoid because it did happen, but rather the way in which the church reacted,” said Latinobarometro’s Marta Lagos.

Last week, The Associated Press reported that Francis had told Chile’s bishops that the Vatican was so concerned about the Karadima fallout that it had planned to ask Barros and two other Karadima-trained bishops to resign and take a year sabbatical. But the plan fell through, and Francis went through with the appointment of Barros to Osorno, even criticizing parishioners against the decision.

“The people of Osorno suffer for stupidity,” said Francis in 2015.

___

Associated Press writers Peter Prengaman and Patricia Luna contributed to this report.

 

Copyright 2018 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

164 Companies Credit Tax Reform for Bonuses and Pay Raises

Tue, 01/16/2018 - 01:13

One hundred sixty-four companies have gone on record stating they gave bonuses and pay raises to employees because of the new tax reform law, according to Americans for Tax Reform.

The list has been continually updated and jumped from 40 companies to 164 in 10 days, The Washington Examiner reports.

The businesses include: American Airlines, AT&T, several prominent savings and loan banks, Boeing, Comcast, Pacific Power and Visa.

The list shows what each company paid in bonuses and includes attached statements or press releases, saying tax reform was the catalyst for each company's decision.

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AT&T showed direct support for President Donald Trump in their statement and said they expect the changes to produce more jobs and "economic growth." Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson said,

Congress, working closely with the President, took a monumental step to bring taxes paid by U.S. businesses in line with the rest of the industrialized world. Tax reform will drive economic growth and create good-paying jobs. In fact, we will increase our U.S. investment and pay a special bonus to our U.S. employees.

Americans for Tax Reform tweeted out the list and said companies also provided increased 401K contributions along with the bonuses as a result of the new tax law.

BOOM: 164 companies (and counting) give bonuses, raises, 401k increases thanks to #TaxReform https://t.co/ODy0ACSvbc

— ATR (@taxreformer) January 15, 2018

 

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Copyright 2018 The Daily Caller News Foundation

Below-Freezing Temperatures Don’t Stop Record Numbers of Pro-Lifers From Marching in Chicago

Mon, 01/15/2018 - 23:56

Despite frigid temperatures, record numbers of people came out to march against abortion Sunday at Chicago's 2018 March For Life.

More than 6,000 people gathered at Sunday's march, marking the largest pro-life gathering in the Midwest to date.

"This March for Life Chicago drew people of all ages, from across the Midwest," said March for Life Chicago's Board of Directors President, Dawn Fitzpatrick, according to a TCPR press release. "They are from all walks of life, but they have one thing in common, they know that love saves lives and that abortion is one of our culture's gravest ills."

Chicago Bears' co-owner Pat McCaskey kicked off the march with music from Carmel High School Marching Band from Mundelein, Ill.

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"The deadliest thing in the world is indifference," keynote speaker and former Planned Parenthood director Ramona Trevino told the onlooking crowd. Trevino added that pro-lifers must use love to counter the forces that make it possible for Planned Parenthood to perform more than 300,000 abortions a year. The march also featured remarks from Chicago's archbishop, U.S. congressmen and Illinois legislators.

"[Teens] are being groomed as future abortion patients because Planned Parenthood promotes a promiscuous lifestyle," former Planned Parenthood manager Ramona Trevino recently told TheDCNF in an exclusive interview.

"We're not discouraging them from having sex at a young age. We have monthly quotas to meet. They're just numbers," she said.

Trevino worked as the manager of a Planned Parenthood abortion referral facility in Sherman, Texas, for three years before leaving in 2011.

Chicago will host a Women's March focusing on women's reproductive rights and abortion access Saturday, according to WGN9 News.

 

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Copyright 2018 The Daily Caller News Foundation

What Pro-Lifers Can and CAN’T Learn from the Civil Rights Movement

Mon, 01/15/2018 - 21:14

Today we mark the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. He's not just some ethnic hero, but a true American one. He is even, in critical ways, a conservative paragon. We'll lay out why, and draw out what the pro-life movement can -- and cannot -- learn from King's success.

King a "conservative"? It seems absurd at first. King sparked massive change in American life. He radically unsettled the existing social order. He rejected calls for "prudence" and "gradual change." He pointed to abstract principles to condemn concrete arrangements which had seemed to "work," after a fashion, for 100 years since the Civil War.

His Civil Rights movement, however just its cause, did create a template for a long list of less worthy jihads, on behalf of disgruntled feminists, abortion mongers, and same-sex libertines. On that point, Southern conservatives proved sadly correct: overturning the racial hierarchy in America let a lot of other genies out of the bottle. Some of those spirits are afflicting the black community worse than segregation ever did (i.e., abortion).

No surprise that when King was organizing marches and sit-ins, most of the existing conservative movement opposed him. William F. Buckley and most of the writers at National Review were among them. But Buckley and NR came around as did most Americans. Here's why:

More than almost any other political leader since Lincoln, King sought to polish the Golden Egg of liberty and equal opportunity, without doing violence to the Goose -- that is, America as an orderly nation of laws. Both his arguments and his tactics bear that out.

Martin Luther King, Patriot

Arguing for civil rights, King did not appeal to the Marxist dialectic that so many of his allies had accepted. Nor did he latch onto the bastardized and racist pseudo-Islam that Malcolm X was peddling. No, King cited St. Thomas Aquinas and pointed to "natural law" that can overrule any legislation a nation passes -- be it the Nuremberg Laws in Germany, or segregation in America. King pointed to the words of our nation's founders, and called them a "promissory note" to America's black citizens. And there really was no rational counter-argument to all that. He left his enemies weaponless, except for fire-hoses and truncheons.

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Such thuggish means backfired on white supremacists, and turned the nation against them. But that need not have happened. The whole Civil Rights movement could have gone sidewise, and sparked mass civil conflict. That happened in Northern Ireland in the early 1970s, and it could well have happened here. There were three key factors that made the difference:

Non-Violence

King knew that one of the key psychological factors that had undergirded white supremacist laws since the days of slavery was fear of mass black violence. For centuries, some states had lived in the uneasy knowledge that in their midst were millions of strong, angry black men with grievances. The slave revolt in Haiti had terrified U.S. slaveholders. Nat Turner's rebellion led states to outlaw manumission, and crack down on preachers who were teaching slaves how to read the Bible. So King insisted that every one of his activists who would violate unjust laws would not resist any violence. Not by police, and not by white vigilantes. Men underwent hours of training, taking blows and abuse from civil rights organizers, to learn how not to fight back.

This tactic was both principled and brilliant. But there was no guarantee that it would work. There's nothing magical about non-violence. It doesn't work in every situation. Gandhi famously made a fool of himself when he counseled Europe's Jews to apply his non-violent methods against the Nazis. Such tactics can only prevail if two other factors stand in place:

A Nation with a Christian Conscience

In the mid-twentieth century, Britain was still largely Christian. English culture treasured a deep-seated sense of fair play and justice. Gandhi knew that when he confronted its colonial policies. His tactics would not have prevailed against the Germans. Hitler once offered Britain the unsolicited advice that it should "Hang Gandhi," then every week hang more of his supporters until the Indian independence movement collapsed. No English government could have faced its voters if it had used tactics like that. That was true for one final reason. This factor was key to the success of both the Indian national struggle and the civil rights movement. Most of America was still Christian in some sense in the early 1960s as well.

A Free and Fair Press

Atrocities committed by British commanders were sure to be reported in the British national press. That gave the British public the chance to be outraged and demand a change of course. In the U.S., local Southern papers might have been committed to segregation. But national papers opposed it, and so did national TV and radio networks. They would cover the violence that segregationists and police used against non-violent demonstrators. And that would spark a moral backlash across the country.

Arguing for civil rights, King did not appeal to the Marxist dialectic that so many of his allies had accepted. Nor did he latch onto the bastardized and racist pseudo-Islam that Malcolm X was peddling. No, King cited St. Thomas Aquinas and pointed to "natural law".

With all these pieces in place, the moral violence of segregation would be seen in the public mind for what it was -- because it was backed by physical violence. The bogeyman of black men as dangerous potential predators faded away, as dignified young black men in coats and ties patiently suffered abuse, without fighting back. Instead of new Nat Turners, they seemed like images of Christ. And a still-Christian nation began to be ashamed of itself.

Why Operation Rescue Failed

What happens when not all these crucial pieces are in place? Non-violent witness can be blunted, or silenced. In the 1980s, thousands of courageous pro-lifers across the country tried, via Operation Rescue, to apply King's tactics to defending unborn children. They saved some babies, but as a national movement, they failed.

Pro-lifers held sit-ins in abortion mills. They went limp when police arrested them. They chained themselves to the front doors of Planned Parenthood clinics in the ghetto, and handed out leaflets about that group's racist heritage. When police used violent tactics against old women and teenagers, pro-lifers didn't resist. We know women whom burly cops subjected to "pain compliance" holds. The cops dislocated 14-year-old girls' wrists with nun-chucks. In West Hartford, Connecticut and Los Angeles, California, the violence was especially bad -- and it was all caught on videotape.

A pro-life demonstrator under assault by police in Los Angeles, 1989.  https://calisphere.org/item/f0bffa49370892dd53402c1c3e091b8c/

But you would have to watch it at some pro-lifer’s house on a VCR. Because none of that footage was aired. The media were lockstep pro-choice, just as white Southern newspapers had been rabidly segregationist. There were no outside media who could pick up the story. So an epidemic of violence, and punitive jail sentences, against pro-life non-violent demonstrators fell into the memory hole. The movement failed.

Today, pro-lifers make extensive use of alternative, social media. The pro-life stings of James O' Keefe, Lila Rose, David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt have been seen by millions of people. Students for Life of America, Movie To Movement, and the Susan B. Anthony List have leveraged social media to become enormous, effective movements.

But now these activists face open censorship by those social media platforms. Billion-dollar media corporations once again, as in the 1980s, could shut down a mass non-violent movement for human rights. If these companies get away with this abuse of power, we face the same national shame we would have deserved if Martin Luther King had died, obscure, in some Alabama prison.

Confirmed: Twitter Shadowbans Conservatives

Mon, 01/15/2018 - 20:45

Twitter has been “shadowbanning” conservative accounts, as some have recently charged.  Project Veritas secretly videotaped several Twitter employees admitting to hiding conservative tweets from other users.

Run by conservative videographer James O’Keefe, Project Veritas filmed Abhinov Vadrevu, a former Twitter software engineer, explaining how shadowbanning works. “The idea of a shadow ban is that you ban someone but they don't know they've been banned, because they keep posting and no one sees their content. So they just think that no one is engaging with their content, when in reality, no one is seeing it." Tweets will show up in the news feeds of users’ followers, but not anywhere else on Twitter such as in search results.

A former content review agent for Twitter, Mo Norai, says Twitter bans accounts for political reasons. "If they said this is pro-Trump and I don’t want it because it offends me, this, that. And I say I banned this whole thing." Content reviewers would let a lot of the left-leaning or liberal stuff go through unchecked.

Twitter Under Fire

Twitter has come under fire for other types of censorship.

There are claims that it is quick to suspend or ban accounts from those on the right. Journalist Megan Fox reports getting silenced for the kinds of things everyone says in normal political arguments. Twitter banned prominent blogger Robert Stacy McCain, known for his acerbic, witty criticisms of feminism, in February 2016. It seems to give those on a left a pass who act the same way toward conservatives.

There are also complaints about favoritism. Twitter provides an  blue checkmark on accounts of prominent people it’s authenticated. The checkmark makes others more likely to follow them.

However, little known accounts on the left with barely 1,000 followers are awarded blue checks. Prominent people on the right with well over 20,000 followers are not.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, famous for exposing the left, has over 673,000 followers. Twitter will not give him a blue check.

Something on the left “would come through checked and then I would be like, oh you know what? This is okay. Let it go.” Twitter, he admits, is “probably about 90 percent anti-Trump, maybe 99 percent anti-Trump.”

Shadowban for Control

Vadrevu admits Twitter’s interest is not free speech, but controlling the platform. “One strategy is to shadow ban so you have full control.” He acknowledges, “It’s like, unethical in some way.”

Former Twitter engineer Conrado Miranda is asked by a Project Veritas reporter on video whether Twitter shadowbans conservatives and Trump supporters. He responds, “That’s a thing. Yeah.” He explains how a filter removes those kinds of tweets.

Pranay Singh, Twitter Direct Messaging Engineer, explained on January 5 to Project Veritas how Twitter set up the algorithms to censor right-leaning content. The system looks for key words, then evaluates the message. He claims the company does it to catch bots from Russia.

“Yeah you look for Trump, or America, or any of, like, five thousand, like, keywords to describe a redneck. Then you look and parse all the messages, all the pictures, and then you look for stuff that matches that stuff." He went on, "the majority of it [the algorithms] are for Republicans." 

Twitter software engineer Steven Pierre explained further on video how the censorship algorithms work, "Every single conversation is going to be rated by a machine, and the machine is going to say whether or not it's a positive thing or a negative thing," Pierre said. "It's going to ban a way of talking."

In another video, a senior network security engineer revealed the company is turning over to the DOJ President Trump’s direct messages. Clay Haynes said, Twitter is "more than happy to help" by providing "every single tweet that [Trump] has posted, even the ones he's deleted. Any direct messages, any mentions."

He admitted, “I’m pretty sure every single employee at Twitter hates Trump.” He says “you got to go to Google to find the conservative.” He says because the company is located in a blue area, employees see plenty of unwritten rules about censoring the right.

Twitter’s Defense

Twitter denied shadowbanning. In a statement to Fox News, the company declared, “Twitter does not shadowban accounts. We do take actions to downrank accounts that are abusive, and mark them accordingly so people can still to click through and see these Tweets if they so choose.” Twitter downplayed Haynes’ remarks. It said he does not speak for the company. Twitter clarified that it only speaks with law enforcement in response to a valid legal request.

The company also attacked Project Veritas “selective editing.” The group edits its videos to cut out irrelevant portions but says it doesn’t distort the message. Twitter disagrees. "We deplore the deceptive and underhanded tactics by which this footage was obtained and selectively edited to fit a pre-determined narrative.”

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While Twitter is a private company, it is now so dominant in public life that Steve Bannon and others call for it to be regulated it like a public utility. Its reach over the news continues to grow. Eleven percent of Americans now get news from Twitter.

Facebook employees changed its trending topics section to downplay right-leaning news. Public outcry forced the company to stop the practice. Facebook fired the employees.

A spokesman for Project Veritas said there are more videos coming. Twitter would be wise to emulate Facebook or risk regulation like a public utility.

 

 

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Trump Honors MLK’s Legacy in Weekly Address to Nation

Mon, 01/15/2018 - 20:43

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- President Donald Trump says the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of a colorblind society is the American dream.

Trump dedicated his weekly address to King, the civil rights leader who was assassinated 50 years ago in April. Trump spent Monday’s King federal holiday in Florida with no public appearances on his official schedule, but he tweeted the radio and video address to his followers.

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Trump says in the address that King’s dream of a colorblind society offers dignity and hope to every American, regardless of color or creed.

WATCH:

"Dr. King's dream is our dream. It is the American Dream. It's the promise stitched into the fabric of our Nation, etched into the hearts of our people, and written into the soul of humankind." pic.twitter.com/tyUZGTecDY

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) January 15, 2018

 

Copyright 2018 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Pro-Life Groups at Odds Over Which Pro-Life Bill Should Go Before the House for Vote During March for Life

Mon, 01/15/2018 - 18:01

On January 19, the U.S. House will vote on H.R.3504, also known as the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. January 19 is also the day of the March for Life. Another pro-life group believes the House should vote on their bill, H.R.490, also called The Heartbeat Protection Act, on the day that thousands are expected to demonstrate against abortion.

While the original Born-Alive bill became law in 2002, the current version seeks to expand anti-infanticide protections for babies born alive during abortions, LifeSiteNews reported.

Susan B. Anthony List's (SBA) National Campaign Chair Jill Stanek was once a nurse who witnessed babies who survived abortion left to die. She said:

Horrific crimes are taking place in abortion facilities around the country. Children born alive are denied medical care and left to die -- cold, alone, abandoned and discarded like medical waste. From Kermit Gosnell's 'house of horrors,' to a D.C. abortionist admitting he would not intervene to save the baby, to a former Planned Parenthood medical director stating that the main consideration when determining whether to provide lifesaving care is who's watching, pleading ignorance is not an option. This is infanticide, plain and simple. Everyone should be able to agree on equal protection under the law for these children.

On the other hand, supporters of the Heartbeat Protection Act want their bill before the House that day. Faith2Action's Janet Porter, an organizer of the bill said, "It's the most protective incremental bill in existence." The Heartbeat Protection Act would outlaw any abortion where the heartbeat can be detected -- even in cases of rape. The only exception as outlined in the bill is an abortion "that is necessary to save the life of a mother whose life is endangered by a physical (but not psychological or emotional) disorder, illness, or condition.”

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, sponsor of the Heartbeat Protection Act told LifeSiteNews “it's a pro-life ‘turf battle.’"

King and Porter believe that National Right to Life (NRLC) and House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., are preventing a vote on the Heartbeat bill.

"Can you believe it?" King said in a Facebook post. "A 'pro-life' activist group is actually attempting to block a pro-life bill! This is absolutely insane and they need to be called out on their hypocrisy ASAP."

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NRLC disputes King’s claims. In an interview with LifeSiteNews, NRLC’s deputy press secretary Tatiana Bergum said NRLC’s president Carol Tobias told King she does not oppose the Heartbeat Bill. “We don’t understand why he is singling out National Right to Life for his unfair attacks.”

"The only organization that we can identify that's not publicly endorsing and supporting the bill is National Right to Life," said King. "I think National Right to Life needs to decide to lead, follow, or get out of the way."

King and Porter believe that if NRLC, SBA and Family Research Council supported the Heartbeat bill it would go to the floor for a vote.

"National Right to Life has been arguing that the Supreme Court won't uphold" the Heartbeat Bill, said King. "I think the argument's stronger in upholding the Heartbeat Bill than it is in upholding the Pain-Capable Bill." 

"I don't wanna disparage [the] Pain-Capable" Bill, King said. King was one of the bill’s co-sponsors. "But that bill was written during the Obama era with the idea that Obama could be convinced to sign it. It wasn't written with the expectation that we would have a president that would actually sign a pro-life bill … the Heartbeat Bill is written with that" understanding.

"I know if I have to answer to God which one He'll tell me I need to do," King said. "He'll say, 'save the babies. Don't worry about people's feelings; save the babies.'"

"I'm not interested in people's egos; I'm interested in saving the lives of babies," he continued. And if the Heartbeat legislation doesn’t go to the floor? "I'll be obligated to do everything that I can do that is within the rules and within the morals and ethics and standards that each of us should have."

Is Google So Far to the Left That it Has Lost Touch With Reality?

Mon, 01/15/2018 - 17:48

This is certainly a scary proposition, given the power of Google. But is Google is so far to the left that it is virtually out to lunch? Does it largely exist in a parallel universe? Is Google is so far beyond politically correctness that it has abandoned reality? If the allegations of fired employee James Damore are true, the answer to these questions is yes. At least among many Google employees and executives.

Apparently Google Endorses “Living as a Plural Being”

In a January 8, 2018 tweet, Tucker Carlson pointed to page 27, footnote 3 of Damore's lawsuit. "For instance, an employee who sexually identifies as ‘a yellow-scaled wingless dragonkin’ and ‘an expansive ornate building’ presented a talk entitled ‘Living as a Plural Being’ at an internal company event."

Page 27, Footnote 3: "For instance, an employee who sexually identifies as 'a yellow-scaled wingless dragonkin' and 'an expansive ornate building' presented a talk entitled 'Living as a Plural Being' at an internal company event."

— Tucker Carlson (@TuckerCarlson) January 9, 2018

I personally believe this claim to be accurate. First, Damore was meticulous in documenting his claims. Second, who could possibly make up something like this?

Can you imagine Damore thinking, "I'll make Google look bad by coming up a ludicrous accusation that no thinking human being could possibly take seriously. That's what I'll do! Moreover, I'll include it in a lawsuit that will be challenged by the most expensive lawyers money can buy!" Right!

What does it mean to sexually identify as a “yellow-scaled wingless dragonkin?” What in the world is that?

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Aside from the insanity of identifying as such a being, what does it mean to sexually identify as this make-believe creature? And then what does it mean also to identify as "an expansive ornate building"? The last time I checked, buildings were inanimate objects.

Google for Furries

But I think I got ahead of myself. I inserted logic into the mix. How silly of me! After all, this person was lecturing on "Living as a Plural Being." So why not be animate and inanimate? Why not be a building and a wingless dragonkin at the same time?

Damore also alleged the following:

Google furnishes a large number of internal mailing lists catering to employees with alternative lifestyles, including furries, polygamy, transgenderism, and plurality, for the purpose of discussing sexual topics. The only lifestyle that seems to not be openly discussed on Google's internal forums is traditional heterosexual monogamy.

What are "furries?" Writing for PJ Media, Tyler O'Neil explained that they "dress up and act like animals. A movement of 'human pups' mixes BDSM and gay sex with the 'lifestyle' of grown men dressing up and acting like dogs."

And Google, Damore claims, furnishes mailing lists catering to employees into this “lifestyle.”

Powerful Company, Scary Problem

All this would be frightening enough if Google was merely a small company in your hometown. It would be wacky, bizarre, and even sick. But it wouldn’t be particularly harmful.

That is not the case. Google is one of the most powerful companies in the world. And it has come under increasing criticism for censoring views it does not like.

In June, 2016, Robert Epstein wrote in U.S. News that "Google, Inc., isn’t just the world’s biggest purveyor of information; it is also the world’s biggest censor." He added:

The company maintains at least nine different blacklists that impact our lives, generally without input or authority from any outside advisory group, industry association or government agency. Google is not the only company suppressing content on the internet. Reddit has frequently been accused of banning postings on specific topics, and a recent report suggests that Facebook has been deleting conservative news stories from its newsfeed, a practice that might have a significant effect on public opinion -- even on voting. Google, though, is currently the biggest bully on the block.

Censoring Conservatives

Just last week, Eric Lieberman reported at The Daily Caller:

Google, the most powerful search engine in the world, is now displaying fact checks for conservative publications in its results. No prominent liberal site receives the same treatment.

And not only is Google's fact-checking highly partisan -- perhaps reflecting the sentiments of its leaders -- it is also blatantly wrong, asserting sites made “claims” they demonstrably never made.

And last October, Prager U YouTube channel announced it was taking "legal action against Google and YouTube for Discrimination." As founder Dennis Prager explained,

Watch any one of our videos and you'll immediately realize that Google/YouTube censorship is entirely ideologically driven. For the record, our videos are presented by some of the finest minds in the Western world, including four Pulitzer Prize winners, former prime ministers, and professors from the most prestigious universities in America."

Damore’s allegations support the above assertions. Of Damore’s allegations, I’ve only highlighted some of the most bizarre. In the alternative universe where Google appears to live, furries, dragonkin and plural beings are accepted. But conservative-minded "Pulitzer Prize winners, former prime ministers, and professors" are a threat.

Did I say that this was scary?

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, Diverse Leaders Dream of the Next Big Step for Racial Equality

Mon, 01/15/2018 - 13:44

As Americans mark the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., few deny that racial tensions have come to the forefront of society. A recent Pew Research study showed 58 percent of Americans believe racism is a "big problem" in the nation. That number has doubled just since 2011.

Reverend Samuel Rodriguez, a prominent Latino faith adviser to the White House, sees the issues more clearly than most. "We have not been this divided since the tensions of the 1960's, when we were doing away with segregation laws," he says.

He also proposes a step towards a solution. "It's time for a national commission on racial reconciliation," he urges. Other faith leaders are joining his call. They see tensions reaching a crisis point in the wake of violent protests in Charlottesville.

Jenny Yang leads advocacy efforts at World Relief. The faith-based group has served in over 100 nations. "Our sinful nature has perpetuated systemic policies and structures that have led to fissures in our society and the dehumanization of others," says Yang. "I think that still continues today, in different forms."

It's not only voices on Capitol Hill who believe such a commission can do good. In 2014, Pastor Jonathan Tremaine Thomas moved his family to Ferguson, Missouri. His focus is what he calls civil righteousness. He contends seeking racial unity is acting on values expressed during America's trying genesis.

"The beauty of humanity is its diversity," says Thomas. "Any patriotic American should care about the issues and history surrounding race in our nation if they desire for us to fully embody the values that we espouse in our founding articles."

Sacred Mission in an Uncertain World

The three faith leaders -- Latino, Black and Asian-American -- are quick to note believers carry a biblical mandate to be peacemakers.

"I believe the church has not only an opportunity but a responsibility to lead the charge in binding up the brokenness of our nation," says Thomas. He often serves as a mediator between "activist groups, community members, public servants and faith leaders" in Ferguson. The St. Louis suburb has been a flashpoint of racial tensions. Last fall, a court verdict sparked riots.

Rodriguez believes the commission will have "a very Christian premise," he says. "It begins with the doctrine of Imago Dei. Every single American, without exception, in or out of the womb, carries the image of God. Therefore, we should treat each other with mutual love and respect -- even when we disagree."

The clash of perspectives may be inevitable in a polarized culture. "2017 has been a challenging year," says Yang. She often speaks in churches across America for World Relief, particularly those ministering to immigrants. "There's a palpable level of fear people have of being separated from their families."

"I believe the church has not only an opportunity but a responsibility to lead the charge in binding up the brokenness of our nation."

To illustrate, Yang recalls a recent trip to a church in Ridgecrest, North Carolina. "After I was done speaking about the Christian response to immigration, a group of women came up to talk. One told me, We love what you said. It's interesting because a group of Hispanic leaders in our denomination were going to come. But they didn't want to drive the hours in their van."

The woman explained, "They were afraid they'd get pulled over on the long drive. They feared they would immediately be deported and have to leave their children behind. But they would've been encouraged by your talk."

Yang views the church as a force for unity. "The government can't do everything," she says. "They should partner with churches in having these conversations and building trust. The two play complementary roles."

Past Victories, Future Opportunities

Thomas sees recent history as a guide. "Between the 1970’s and mid-2000’s, over 35 commissions dedicated to truth and reconciliation were set up," he says. "These were in Africa, Asia, Central and Latin America -- even in Canada!"

"Of those, South Africa’s has been the most visible," Thomas continues. "The U.S. shares similarities in the historic challenges that they sought to address. We can learn from, adapt and build upon components of their model. This initiative would work in partnership with educational and religious institutions, mental health groups, and state and local governments."

Passed under Nelson Mandela's leadership, the South African effort was chaired by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission concluded in 2003. It published a lengthy report detailing its discoveries and activities.

A similar effort in the U.S. would face its own challenges. Rev. Samuel Rodriguez believes two figures could convene an authentically diverse, bipartisan group. "In my dream world, the co-chairs would be Bernice King, daughter of Dr. King, and Vice President Mike Pence," he says. Bernice King serves as CEO of The King Center in Atlanta, Georgia and speaks often on her father's legacy.

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Knowing some would question his latter pick, he explains. "Vice President Pence took me aside one time. He said, Reverend Rodriguez, let me tell you who motivated me most in my journey other than Christ. It was Martin Luther King, Jr."

"So our Vice President, this man from Indiana, this evangelical, began to explain to me the justice passion of Dr. King," he says.

Rodriguez first offered his proposal to the Trump Administration last January. Now he isn't sure whether the White House or Congress should issue the mandate. "The Executive Branch is extremely busy on multiple fronts," he says. "Time is of the essence, so maybe a Congressional impetus behind this commission would serve in a more valid way because it's coming from the people's house. Congress is representative of the collective American body politic."

He also cites Senators Tim Scott, Marco Rubio and James Lankford as leaders who "have a heart for racial reconciliation." Whomever in Washington runs with the vision, emerging voices caution not to forget the next generation.

"A commission has to be intergenerational," says Yang. "Many justice movements in our country have taken place at the community level by really young people who don't have institutional ties."

In the Interest of Justice

As to what policy issues the commission might address, the three leaders were unanimous on their top priority.

"The final institution that needs to experience a purging of all vestiges of racism is our criminal justice system," says Rodriguez. "We cannot deny that young men of color face more severe criminal sentencing than those who are not of color. We know this as a matter of fact." Recent bipartisan efforts nationwide have led to incarceration rates on the decline. Still, they say much work is yet to be done.

The Sacramento pastor ventures a bold claim. "If we address the criminal justice system, immediately I believe about 75 percent of race-related tensions would go away," says Rodriguez.

"We need to do away with any sort of fear that exists in the African American and Latino communities regarding law enforcement," he continues. "The intent is to establish dialogue between them and communities of color. It creates bridges."

"If we address the criminal justice system, immediately I believe about 75 percent of race-related tensions would go away."

According to Pew Research, 79 percent of Americans believe bringing racially diverse people together to discuss these issues will help achieve equality. Yang also perceives a real need for open dialogue.

"A lot of people feel like they're impacted by policy decisions," she says. "But there's no avenue for them to express their insecurities and fears to anyone within government."

The leaders noted immigration reform as a secondary priority. "We learned something when President Trump brought together a bipartisan group of Congressional members," she noted of the recent televised White House meeting. "It's that we have a lot more in common around immigration than what divides us."

Yang has faith that mutual respect can point the way to solutions. "Broad labeling of either side is not helpful," she says. "About Republicans, I've heard people say, Oh, they're heartless. They're compassionless. I don't think that's true."

What It Can Achieve

The prospect of such a commission animates these diverse leaders. From such a federal mandate, they see positive outcomes for the common good.

"First, there would be acknowledgement that there is tension," says Rodriguez. "Second, there'd be a deliberate commitment to address the problems in an expedited manner. Third, it would move towards specifics. It could include legislative proposals and perhaps a national PSA campaign with messages of unity."

Yang advocates for a clear, actionable report. "Concrete ideas would be really effective," she says. "We need recommendations anyone can read -- a pastor, local leader or whomever. They should see themselves in it. They'd say, This is something I can do within my community or sphere of influence."

Elevating voices of substance and moral clarity has potential to shift the national narrative around racial tensions, states Thomas.

"The intent is to bring unbiased, empirical evidence to support open dialogue and help facilitate truth-telling," he says. "This is the clearest way forward that I see in terms of maturing the national conversation on racial justice with measurable and sustainable outcomes."

Gunmen Target Egyptian Christians, Shoot Down Man In Sinai

Mon, 01/15/2018 - 13:09

Three gunmen shot and killed a man in Egypt's Sinai peninsula in what authorities said is only the latest attack explicitly targeting Egypt's Christians.

Egyptian officials spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity and said the victim was Bassem Attallah, a 35-year-old Christian man. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, however, officials said it bears all the signs of an attack by Islamic State insurgents, who have targeted Christians in Egypt since 2016.

The attack comes in the wake of another shooting on New Year's Eve, in which a gunman killed two Coptic Christian brothers and shot up their liquor store. Authorities said it was not clear whether the attack was an act of Islamic extremism or the result of New Year's revelry. The incident happened only days after ISIS' attack on a Coptic church in Cairo where gunmen killed nine people before being confronted by local residents and shot down by police.

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ISIS insurgents continue to carry out guerrilla attacks throughout North Africa and the Middle East despite suffering near eradication in Iraq and Syria. They have led an insurgency in northern Sinai for years and have killed over 100 Egyptian Christians since December 2016, and some experts fear that such attacks could increase as ISIS sends more militants to Sinai and other places in response to being disbanded in Iraq and Syria.

Coptic Christians are Egypt's largest religious minority, numbering at 10 percent of Egypt's population of 93 million people.

 

Follow Joshua Gill on Twitter. Send tips to joshua@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

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