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Updated: 6 hours 27 min ago

Former FBI Deputy Director McCabe Fired From Agency

Sat, 03/17/2018 - 12:23

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he has fired former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, a regular target of President Donald Trump’s anger and criticism, just two days before his scheduled retirement date. McCabe immediately decried the move and suggested it was part of the Trump administration’s “war on the FBI.”

The Friday dismissal was made on the recommendation of FBI disciplinary officials and comes ahead of an inspector general report expected to conclude that McCabe had authorized the release of information to the news media and had not been forthcoming with the watchdog office as it examined the bureau’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

“The FBI expects every employee to adhere to the highest standards of honesty, integrity, and accountability,” Sessions said in a Friday night statement.

In an extraordinary rebuttal released immediately after the attorney general’s announcement, McCabe said his credibility had been attacked as “part of a larger effort not just to slander me personally” but also the FBI and law enforcement.

“It is part of this administration’s ongoing war on the FBI and the efforts of the special counsel investigation, which continue to this day,” he added, referring to Robert Mueller’s ongoing probe into potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign. “Their persistence in this campaign only highlights the importance of the special counsel’s work.”

McCabe also asserted that he was being singled out because of the “role I played, the actions I took, and the events I witnessed in the aftermath of the firing of James Comey.” Mueller is investigating whether Trump’s actions, including firing Comey as FBI director last May, constitute obstruction of justice, and McCabe, a close Comey confidant, could be an important witness. McCabe said the release of the findings against him was accelerated after he told congressional officials that he could corroborate Comey’s accounts of his conversations with the president.

Though McCabe had spent more than 20 years as a career FBI official, and had played key roles in some of the bureau’s most recent significant investigations, Trump had repeatedly criticized him over the last year as emblematic of an FBI leadership he contends is biased against his administration. He appeared to revel in the termination, tweeting early Saturday that it was a “great day for Democracy” and a “great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI.”

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The dismissal is symbolic to an extent since McCabe had been on leave from the FBI since January, when he abruptly left the deputy director position. But it comes just ahead of his planned retirement, on Sunday, and likely jeopardizes his ability to collect his full pension benefits upon his departure. It could also add to the tumult that has enveloped the law enforcement agency in the last year amid the firing of former director James Comey in May and an ongoing FBI probe of the Trump campaign that the White House has dismissed as a hoax.

The firing arises from a wide-ranging inspector general review into how the FBI handled the Clinton email investigation. That inquiry view focused not only on specific decisions made by FBI leadership during the probe, but also on news media leaks.

McCabe came under particular scrutiny over an October 2016 news report that revealed differing approaches within the FBI and Justice Department over how aggressively the Clinton Foundation should be investigated. The watchdog office has concluded that McCabe authorized FBI officials to speak to a Wall Street Journal reporter for that story and that he had not been forthcoming with investigators, which McCabe denies.

In his statement, McCabe said he had the authority to share information with journalists through the public affairs office, a practice he said was common and continued under current Director Christopher Wray. He said he had honestly answered questions about whom he had spoken to and when, and that when he thought his answers were misunderstood, contacted investigators to correct them.

The media outreach came at a time when McCabe said he was facing public accusations of partisanship and followed reports that his wife, during a run for state political office, had received campaign contributions from a close Clinton ally. McCabe suggested in his statement that he was trying to “set the record straight” about the FBI’s independence against the background of those allegations.

Despite his defense, officials at the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility recommended the firing, leaving Justice Department leaders in a difficult situation. Sessions, whose job status has for months appeared shaky under his own blistering criticism from Trump, risked inflaming the White House if he decided against firing McCabe. But a decision to dismiss McCabe days before his firing nonetheless carried the risk of angering his rank-and-file supporters at the FBI.

McCabe enjoyed a rapid career ascent in the bureau after joining in 1996. Before being named FBI deputy director last year, he led the bureau’s national security branch and also the Washington field office, one of the its largest.

But he became entangled in presidential politics in 2016 when it was revealed that his wife, during an unsuccessful bid for the Virginia state Senate, had received campaign contributions from the political action committee of then-Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a close Clinton ally. The FBI has said McCabe received the necessary ethics approval about his wife’s candidacy and was not supervising the Clinton investigation at the time.

He became acting director following the firing last May of Comey, and immediately assumed direct oversight of the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign.

He quickly found himself at odds with the Trump administration.

As a congressional hearing days after Comey’s dismissal, McCabe contradicted White House assertions that the Trump campaign investigation was one of the “smallest things” on the FBI’s plate and strongly disputed the administration’s suggestion that Comey had lost the support of the bureau’s workforce.

“I can tell you that the majority, the vast majority of FBI employees, enjoyed a deep and positive connection to Director Comey,” McCabe said.


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

Russia Expels 23 British Diplomats in Spy-Poisoning Response

Sat, 03/17/2018 - 12:05

MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia on Saturday announced it is expelling 23 British diplomats and threatened further measures in retaliation in a growing diplomatic dispute over a nerve agent attack on a former spy in Britain.

The Russian Foreign Ministry also said in a statement that it is ordering the closure of the British Council, a government organization for cultural and scientific cooperation, and that it is ending an agreement to reopen the British consulate in St. Petersburg.

It ordered the diplomats to leave within a week.

The announcement followed on the heels of Britain’s order this week for 23 Russian diplomats to leave the U.K. because Russia was not cooperating in the case of Sergei Skripal and his daughter, both found March 4 poisoned by a nerve agent that British officials say was developed in Russia. The Skripals remain in critical condition.

Britain’s foreign secretary accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of personally ordering the poisoning of the Skripals. Putin’s spokesman denounced the claim.

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The Russian statement said the government could take further measures if Britain takes any more “unfriendly” moves toward Russia. British Ambassador Laurie Bristow was called to the Foreign Ministry Saturday morning to be informed of the moves.

“We will always do what is necessary to defend ourselves, our allies and our values against an attack of this sort, which is an attack not only on the United Kingdom, but upon the international rules-based system on which all countries, including Russia, depend for their safety and security,” Bristow told reporters after being informed of the expulsions.

“This crisis has arisen as a result of an appalling attack in the United Kingdom, the attempted murder of two people, using a chemical weapon developed in Russia and not declared by Russia at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, as Russia was and is obliged to do under the Chemical Weapons Convention,” he added.

A Russian lawmaker warned Britain against escalating the crisis.

“It is possible that (Britain) will continue to respond; we are ready for this. But London must understand that this will not do anything, it is useless to talk with Russia with such methods,” Dzhabarov was quoted as saying by the state news agency RIA Novosti.

While Russia has vigorously denied involvement in the attack, Western powers see it as the latest sign of alleged Russian meddling abroad. The tensions threaten to overshadow Putin’s expected re-election Sunday for another six-year presidential term.

Meanwhile new tensions have surfaced over the death this week of a London-based Russian businessman, Nikolai Glushkov. British police said Friday that he died from compression to the neck and opened a murder investigation.

Russia also suspects foul play in Glushkov’s death and opened its own inquiry Friday.

British police said there is no apparent link between the attack on Glushkov and the poisoning of the Skripals, but both have raised alarm in the West at a time when Russia is increasingly assertive on the global stage and facing investigations over alleged interference in the Donald Trump’s election as U.S. president.

The source of the nerve agent -- which Britain says is Soviet-made Novichok -- is unclear, as is the way it was administered. Russia has demanded that Britain share samples collected by investigators.

Top EU diplomats were expected to discuss next steps at a meeting Monday, with some calling for a boycott of the upcoming World Cup in Russia. British Prime Minister Theresa May is seeking a global coalition of countries to punish Moscow.


Jim Heintz in Moscow contributed to this story.


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

The Snakes Are Back In Ireland

Sat, 03/17/2018 - 11:48

The band Horslips were Ireland's high kings of '70s Celtic rock. There's a spooky instrumental on side two of their underrated fourth album, The Unfortunate Cup of Tea. It's "The Snakes' Farewell to the Emerald Isle." Listen and you can hear amidst the melancholy strains a defiant undertone suggesting "We Shall Return!"       I bought all 12 of this little-known-in-America group's albums. Strangely enough, years later I found my newlywed self living directly across the road from, and making friends with, the producer of Horslips' last several discs and his wife in Upstate New York. Steve Katz is the pioneering blues-rock guitarist who co-founded Blood, Sweat and Tears.

Horslips is short for "The Five Poxmen of the Horslypse." That was one of the lads' retort, drunken no doubt, upon hearing someone say, "How about calling the band The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse?"

That Old Serpent

In the Book of the Apocalypse, the serpent awaits as the "woman clothed with the sun" gives birth, poised to devour her child, "that old serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, who seduceth the whole world."

The snakes have finally made good on their vow to return. The Republic of Ireland may this year yield to their seduction and legalize abortion on demand. I lived in Dublin in the early 1980s. One of the most fashionable student accessories at Trinity College was a light-green button. Its navy-blue block capital letters declared, "I'M AGAINST THE AMENDMENT." That's the Eighth Amendment to Ireland's Constitution acknowledging "the right to life of the unborn." There was many a boisterous and blasphemous student demo. Still, it was enacted by referendum in 1983. It got 67 percent support and 54 percent turnout.

The snakes have finally made good on their vow to return. The Republic of Ireland may this year yield to their seduction and legalize abortion on demand.

Ireland's current and first openly-homosexual prime minister, Leo Varadkar, whose Hindu father was born in Mumbai, was four and a half at the time. Nearly three years ago 62 percent of Irish voters legalized same-sex marriage. The referendum enjoyed a more-than-60-percent turnout. By an even larger turnout Ireland had legalized divorce by the slimmest of margins in 1996. The Catholic Church strongly opposed both these changes, to no avail. As Steve's oft-time companion in the Greenwich Village of the sixties, Bob Dylan, would say, "The Times They Are a-Changin'."

Sin is at the root of the upheaval. The social ripples from the clergy underage sex scandals were immense. They gave a population 95 percent of whom attended Mass every Sunday a seeming moral license to defy the priests, the bishops, the Pope.

Save the Babies, Save the Eighth

Despite that revolution, today's Save The Eighth movement is more than robust. As many as 100,000 marched in Dublin on March 11th, One of its leading supporters is Ireland's most prominent hi-tech entrepreneur. Rivada founder Declan Ganley is a longtime critic of European Union excesses. He's now even making some Trump-sounding populist noises. He warned that a sleeping giant has been roused. "There is a reason that the pro-choice lobby has been so consistently supported by UK abortion providers," he said. "Just like Big Tobacco wants to create more smokers, and the alcohol industry wants more drinkers, the abortion industry is interested in acquiring more customers."

Ganley said, "The often-cited and horrifying statistic that in the UK and Germany, a pre-natal diagnosis of Down's syndrome will result in abortion more than 90 percent of the time should make us think." He cautioned Ireland's "political class": the marching masses "are not represented by any political party."

Deadly Cliches

Varadkar, however, is making the most of being an MD and former minister of health. He appreciates the subtlety an ongoing social revolution requires. In January he announced a referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment. It's expected in May. "We already have abortion in Ireland" through mothers getting abortions in Britain. Plus mailing for abortifacients from abroad. But "it is unsafe, unregulated and unlawful. We cannot continue to export our problems and import our solutions."

Not surprisingly, his proposed new 36th Amendment does not mention the ugly word abortion: "Provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancy."

He is armed with the usual cliches. They're long since battle-tested in one form or another on this side of the Atlantic. "For most of us, it's not a black and white issue; it's one that is gray... My own views have evolved... I believed we could no longer approach the issue with cold certainty but needed to do so with compassion." And of course the contention that the Irish people will be undertaking "a collective act of leadership to show empathy..." Like last year, Varadkar will continue the long-standing St. Patrick's Day tradition. He'll present President Trump with a crystal bowl of shamrock at the White House.

Dubious Horror Stories

The Irish media's tradition regarding abortion is to report horror stories. Like the 1991-92 "X Case." A restraining order prevented a suicidal 14-year-old rape victim from traveling to England. It was later overturned by the Supreme Court. The girl miscarried.

The 1997 "C Case." This was a 13-year-old rape victim apparently taken to Britain on false pretenses by a foster mother. "I didn't understand what was happening," she said in an interview years later. "There were social workers at the table...I thought I was getting the baby out...I remember waking up from the abortion and screaming and screaming and crying with the pain so they gave me another injection to fall back to sleep... I woke up then and I was in no pain so I asked for the baby and they told me there was no baby...I wouldn't have wanted to keep the baby but I would have liked for it to be put for adoption."

If abortion is legalized in the Irish Republic, the only part of the island where abortion is illegal will then be Protestant-majority Northern Ireland. St. Patrick is buried there.

Most infamous, however, was the case of a 31-year-old Indian-born dentist. Savita Halappanavar died after a sepsis miscarriage at 17 weeks in 2012. It spawned an Irish Times headline, "Woman ‘denied a termination’ dies in hospital." Demonstrations ignited at several Irish embassies. India acted like a declaration of Hindu vs. Catholic war was in the works.

But the reporter is daughter of two longtime leftist activists. She admitted she didn't know if Halappanavar had requested an abortion. There were investigations. The Galway hospital caring for her had previously performed abortions. This was to save mothers' lives. That was in accordance with Irish law. But this time it failed. The hospital didn't follow medical protocols. Nonetheless, the case was immediately hijacked by pro-abortionists. As Saul Alinsky advised, "never let a serious crisis go to waste."

St. Patrick in Ulster

If abortion is legalized in the Irish Republic, the only part of the island where abortion is illegal will then be Protestant-majority Northern Ireland. St. Patrick is buried there. On the grounds of a Protestant cathedral in the Catholic town of Downpatrick. Where the devouring snakes he drove out have as yet not returned.


Thomas McArdle was a White House speechwriter for President George W. Bush and is a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin

Military Photo of the Day: Innocent Victim

Sat, 03/17/2018 - 07:00

“Innocent Victim: Marine Lance Corporal William G. Gilliland, 19, of El Paso, Texas, rushes an injured Vietnamese child to medical aid after a grenade exploded in a residential courtyard, 200 yards from the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing Da Nang base, March 4. Two suspects were apprehended at the scene. Marines and Navy hospital corpsmen treated and evacuated the injured official USMC photo by Staff Sergeant W. F. Schrider).” From the Jonathan Abel Collection (COLL/3611), Marine Corps Archives & Special Collections.

St. Patrick’s Day: Understanding Antifa from Two Irish Songs

Fri, 03/16/2018 - 23:24

St. Patrick's Day means a good deal to me, since I'm half-Irish and my middle name is Patrick. Many Catholics will pen essays about the day's religious significance. So they should. What made Ireland distinctive from Wales, Cornwall, and Scotland was that it was not merely Celtic. No, it clung to its "old religion" despite persecution over centuries.

If later this month, it abandons it by legalizing abortion, then it will squander that proud history. If the Irish adopt the same slack laws that leave the unborn unprotected, its independence means nothing. It will finally have converted to the same religion as England: a bland, senescent post-Protestant suicide cult.

The old expression for an Irishman who betrayed his faith or nation was this: "He took the soup." That comes from the days of the catastrophic Potato Famine, when one in four Irish died, and half the survivors fled. The nation's population fell by 50% in just a few years, and has not yet recovered. (My mother's grandparents were among the malnourished who sailed to New York in "coffin ships.") Some English missionaries offered help: mobile kitchens offering nourishing soup. There was just one catch: You had to convert to Anglicanism. That was the price of "taking the soup."

The soup on offer now is poisonous, of course, compared to 19th-century Anglicanism. And the Irish aren't starving. In fact, they're too rich, fat, and happy. It's not a condition natural to the Irish, and they don't handle it well. (See Teddy Kennedy.)

Today I'd like to look at two pieces of Irish patriotic music, and see what they teach us about the issues we face in the U.S. today: Racial resentment, "intersectional" leftism, and the politics of Victimism. (Victimism was philosopher Rene Girard's term for those who pervert the urge for justice into revenge.)

I love both songs. Each one is great to sing along to over a pint of Magner's or a shot of Jameson's. But one of them I like because it appeals to my healthy instincts. It stirs in me love for my ancestors and the sacrifices they made to keep faith with church and nation. The other taps into my darker side, a side that I see with chagrin I share with the campus radicals of Antifa. It goads me to pick a fight.

For each I'll give a video, then analyze the lyrics.

The Foggy Dew

Here's the most beautiful version I've heard of the first one, "The Foggy Dew." It's sung by the troubled but gifted Sinead O'Connor. The video features images from the powerful film of the Irish fight for independence in 1916, The Wind That Shakes the Barley.     The full lyrics of the song (she skips a stanza) follow. They were penned to a traditional Irish tune by a priest, Canon Charles O'Neill. He wrote just three years after disarmed Irish rebels from the failed Easter Rising of 1916 were summarily shot by the British government. Ironically, the Rising itself was deeply unpopular in Ireland. More than 100,000 Irishmen had volunteered to fight for Britain in World War I.

Cruelty Backfires on the Brits

But the cruel treatment of the rebels swung Irish opinion radically against the British. Worst was the execution of a wounded man, James Connolly, whom the Brits had to tie in a chair to keep him sufficiently upright to shoot him. British brutality backfired. It goaded the (ever sentimental) Irish into demanding autonomy, under the Irish Free State. Those who wanted full independence formed the Irish Republican Army. They launched the Irish Civil War, which ended with a partial victory for the original IRA: No ties at all to Britain, but six counties of Northern Ireland with Protestant majorities still under the Crown. Rent Michael Collins with Liam Neeson for one view of that conflict.

As down the glen one Easter morn to a city fair rode I. There armed lines of marching men in squadrons passed me by No fife did hum nor battle drum did sound its dread tattoo But the Angelus bell o'er the Liffey swell rang out through the foggy dew

Right proudly high over Dublin town they hung out the flag of war 'Twas better to die 'neath an Irish sky than at Suvla or Sedd El Bahr And from the plains of Royal Meath strong men came hurrying through While Britannia's Huns, with their long-range guns sailed in through the foggy dew

'Twas Britannia bade our Wild Geese go that small nations might be free But their lonely graves are by Suvla's waves or the shore of the Great North Sea Oh, had they died by Pearse's side or fought with Cathal Brugha Their names we would keep where the Fenians sleep 'neath the shroud of the foggy dew

But the bravest fell, and the requiem bell rang mournfully and clear For those who died that Eastertide in the springing of the year And the world did gaze, in deep amaze, at those fearless men, but few Who bore the fight that freedom's light might shine through the foggy dew

Ah, back through the glen I rode again and my heart with grief was sore For I parted then with valiant men whom I never shall see more But to and fro in my dreams I go and I kneel and pray for you, For slavery fled, O glorious dead, When you fell in the foggy dew.

Celebrating the Dead

A wonderful poem and a beautiful song. It celebrates actual heroes, who gave their lives in what seemed a Quixotic fight against 400 years of occupation and religious discrimination. It criticizes Irishmen who went and fought for England. But in a mild tone. It doesn't mock their suffering, or sneer at the dead. It simply observes that their memories would be held in higher esteem had they died for their country -- not England's king.

One of these songs appeals to my healthy instincts. It stirs in me love for my ancestors and the sacrifices they made to keep faith with church and nation. The other taps into my darker side, a side that I see with chagrin I share with the campus radicals of Antifa. It goads me to pick a fight.

But mainly the song commemorates the patriotic dead, and honors their ultimate sacrifice. It pokes the British for the wartime hypocrisy: Calling Irish to fight for "small nations" (such as Belgium) while their own small nation remained subjugated to Britain. Its sharpest barb is "Brittania's huns," which compares British soldiers to the Germans who savaged Belgium. Still, these nationalistic gibes don't shatter its tone of solemn commemoration, which culminates in piety: Praying for the dead. (It's a Catholic thing.)

Come Out Ye Black and Tans

Let's look at another Irish patriotic song. It was written a little later, by Dominic Behan. (His brother, Brendan, was one of the most famous Irish poets of the 20th century.) The Behans' father had fought as part of the original IRA, against any settlement that linked Ireland to Britain.

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First a video, then the lyrics, then some analysis. This version is by the popular Irish band the Wolfe Tones.    

I was born on a Dublin street where the royal drums did beat, And those loving English feet they tramped all over us, And each and every night when me father came home tight He’d invite the neighbors out with this chorus:

Come out ye Black and Tans, come out and fight me like a man, Show your wife how you won medals down in Flanders, Tell them how the IRA made you run like hell away From the green and lovely lanes of Killashandra.

Come tell us how you slew them poor Arabs two by two, Like the Zulus they had spears and bows and arrows, How you bravely faced each one with your 16-pounder gun, And you frightened them poor natives to their marrow.

Come out ye Black and Tans, come out and fight me like a man, Show your wife how you won medals down in Flanders, Tell them how the IRA made you run like hell away From the green and lovely lanes of Killashandra.

Come let us hear you tell how you slandered great Parnell, When you thought him well and truly persecuted, Where are the sneers and jeers that you bravely let us hear When our heroes of ’16 were executed?

Come out ye Black and Tans, come out and fight me like a man, Show your wife how you won medals down in Flanders, Tell them how the IRA made you run like hell away From the green and lovely lanes of Killashandra.

Now the time is coming fast and I think them days are here When each English shawneen he’ll run before us And if there’ll be a need then our kids will say God speed With a verse or two of singing this fine chorus

Come out ye Black and Tans, come out and fight me like a man, Show your wife how you won medals down in Flanders, Tell them how the IRA made you run like hell away From the green and lovely lanes of Killashandra.

From Patriotism to Tribalism

Again, it's a heck of a song. There have been days when current politics provoke me to walk around with it running through my head. Its author's bitterness was something he came by honestly: He saw his own father suffer for Irish independence.

The lyrics are witty and biting. They mock the British military's reputation for courage and steadfastness. How? By pointing out that the Empire wielded fierce modern weapons against underdeveloped nations: Using "16-pounder guns" to fight "Arabs" and "Zulus" with only "spears and bows and arrows."

Come tell us how you slew them poor Arabs two by two/Like the Zulus they had spears and bows and arrows.

Great stuff. But look at it closer. Who's the target of the song? Not British soldiers (among whom were the brutal "Black and Tans"). It's Protestant civilians, who stayed behind in Dublin after Irish independence. (In point of fact, most of them took such treatment as a warning, and left the country.) The singer's father is harassing his neighbors in peacetime, with a jeering drunken song when they’re trying to sleep.

The song taunts the neighbors about the "slander" of Charles Stewart Parnell. An early advocate of Irish autonomy, he was falsely accused of murder by his opponents. Those charges got disproven. But Parnell's career was ruined when real charges of adultery emerged, and the Catholic clergy turned against him. That set back Irish independence by decades. But it happened in 1890. And the neighbors presumably had nothing at all to do with it. They would have been children, or not yet born.

Next the song accuses the neighbors of cruelty. They let out "sneers and jeers" when "our heroes of ’16 were executed." No doubt some British loyalists did that. They saw the rebels as terrorists, who tried to take over Dublin in the middle of World War I, using weapons they got from the Kaiser. (During World War II, some in the IRA would collaborate with the Nazis.)

But were those specific Protestant neighbors really among those jeering when Padraic Pearse was shot? More likely the speaker is simply engaging in tribalism -- blaming the nearest examples of a hated group for the sins of their distant cousins.

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From the IRA to ANTIFA

The song's rousing climax dreams of a day "When each English shawneen he’ll run before us." The word "shawneen" is the feminine form of "Sean." It doesn't refer to soldiers, such as those up in Belfast. No, it's just a way of demeaning the male neighbor's manhood. (He's the "Black and Tan" who won't "come out and fight me like a man.") So this last verse seems not to be about expelling British soldiers from Ulster (which was then and still is majority Protestant and Loyalist).

No, it seems to be a fantasy of full-on ethnic cleansing of "English" from the island. These neighbors aren't English. They're Irish Protestants. To the singer, this makes no difference. Only those of his creed can be part of his tribe. It's ugly, illiberal stuff.

Don't get me wrong. I still enjoy this song. But examining why I do helps me understand a little better the mindless rage that stirs ethnic activists today in other groups: Blacks who blame white cops today for slavery. Latinos who want to take back the American Southwest for Mexico, or storm across our borders without our say-so. Or those well-off white leftists who dredge up sins from past decades or centuries, to denounce Western civilization or Christianity in toto.

There's a point where a rage for justice slides, greased by original sin, into something sinister. We see exactly how sinister today, as the South African government tears up its promise of race-neutrality, and threatens to seize all white farmers' land. If that happens, the nation will starve as Zimbabwe does. But at least those left behind will have some knockout songs, such as “Kill the Boer.”    

How Do You Talk to Kids About God? Interview with Author Natasha Crain

Fri, 03/16/2018 - 23:00

With the popularity of her blog and books, Natasha Crain has exploded onto the scene as an important voice for raising children in the Christian faith. She gave me the opportunity to write the foreword for her second book, Talking with Your Kids about God. She not only offers answers to some of the toughest questions kids ask about God, she offers practical steps for how parents can teach biblical truths to their kids. Talking with Your Kids about God is one of the few books I consider a "must read" for parents.

Natasha answered a few of my questions about her life, ministry, and writing projects. Enjoy!

SEAN MCDOWELL: As a mom, what motivates you to care so much about reasons for confidence in the faith?

NATASHA CRAIN: When I first started blogging six years ago, I didn't know about apologetics, the field that studies these reasons. I just wanted to write about Christian parenting in general. But once people began sharing my posts online, my blog started attracting skeptics who wanted to challenge just about everything I said about Christianity. I had no idea how to respond. Honestly, I was taken aback. How could I have grown up in a Christian home, attended church all my life, and never heard these challenges? How could I not have any answers to offer?

How could I have grown up in a Christian home, attended church all my life, and never heard these challenges? How could I not have any answers to offer?

I started searching, and I learned what apologetics was. I buried myself in reading and fell in love with the beauty of all the evidence God has given us for the truth of Christianity.

In that process, though, I also learned for the first time that at least 60 percent of kids reject their Christian faith by their early 20s. That was an "aha" moment for me, for the research showed that kids were leaving their faith due to the same kinds of objections I was hearing from my blog commenters. I realized that there's a generational gap: Most parents are like I was before starting my blog -- they simply don't have any idea how powerful the faith challenges are today. Their kids are growing up in a completely different world than the one they grew up in. They have no idea much they need to adjust their discipleship accordingly.

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So, to answer the original question, I am passionate about apologetics because I've experienced the force of today's faith challenges firsthand through my blog, and I see what's happening behind all those statistics of kids leaving their faith. There's nothing more important to me than raising kids to know and love Jesus, and I'm convinced apologetics is a core part of that discipleship today. At the same time, I care about equipping other parents with this knowledge -- helping to close the generational gap. And that's why I spend the time to write my blog and books.

MCDOWELL: You’ve recently written your second book, Talking with Your Kids about God. What makes this different from your first book: Keeping Your Kids on God’s Side?

CRAIN: They have similar titles, but they're very different books!

Keeping Your Kids on God's Side is a broad survey book of 40 important questions across the big areas of God, truth and worldviews, Jesus, the Bible, and science. It's an "apologetics 101," written specifically for parents.

Talking with Your Kids about God starts a series of books that will dig more deeply into ONE of those big subjects at a time. Talking with Your Kids about God focuses on 30 conversations about God. My next one, Talking with Your Kids about Jesus, will focus on 30 conversations about Jesus.

There's nothing more important to me than raising kids to know and love Jesus, and I'm convinced apologetics is a core part of that discipleship today.

One valuable feature of this series is a conversation guide at the end of every chapter that walks parents step-by-step through questions to ask their kids. The idea there is to enable conversation on that chapter's content. The guides are adaptable for use with elementary through high school age kids. People have been using them for small groups, youth groups, Sunday schools, homeschools and family devotions! Talking with Your Kids about God is a natural next reading step for those who have already read Keeping Your Kids on God's Side. But those who haven't read my first book can jump straight into this new series with no problem. Both are written in an easy-to-understand, parent-to-parent voice, with chapters only about 5 pages each -- totally reasonable for even the busiest parent!

MCDOWELL: If you had to narrow it down, what are the top 2 subjects about God that we need to talk with our kids about today? And what are a few key points you make in these conversations?

CRAIN: Without a doubt, the most important question I think parents need to discuss with their kids today is, "What evidence is there for God's existence?" While atheists are still fewer than 10 percent of Americans, their numbers are growing quickly. Many atheists are quite vocal about their disdain for Christianity. I'd say an overwhelming majority of faith challenges encountered today are rooted in the fundamental question of whether or not God exists. Yet this is a question most parents don't know how to tackle with their kids, other than by sharing their own personal experiences. The first six chapters of Talking with Your Kids about God are devoted to this question.

Some key points parents should learn to discuss are:

The objective evidence for God's existence (outside of our personal experiences). We aren't called to a blind faith or our best guess regarding ultimate reality. The relationship between science and God. Skeptics often pit science and God against each other and Christians believe they have to make a choice. This isn't the case at all, and it's an important area parents need to be able to speak to.

MCDOWELL: In terms of kids walking away from their faith, how important do you think apologetics is?

CRAIN: It's clear that intellectual questions drive many kids away from faith, not knowing answers to basic apologetics questions. It's truly a shame that many of them never had adults in their lives who could discuss those answers. But it's also true that many people reject Christianity for emotional reasons. They don't like what the Bible says about morality, they think Christians are too hypocritical, or they don't like the church. In those cases, a lack of apologetics understanding isn't necessarily the issue.

MCDOWELL: What practical advice do you have for busy parents and youth influencers who want to help kids learn to defend their faith?

CRAIN: Focus on helping kids learn the positive case for the truth of Christianity first. Then focus on helping them learn to defend its truth. Kids need to know why it's worth defending before they'll care. To that end, have a plan. Because we're all very busy, and teaching apologetics takes effort, if we don't have a strategy, we're unlikely to do much. But that doesn't have to mean doing something elaborate. With the help of my books, you can use the following four questions that make the case for Christianity. You could teach your kids even just one point each week in response to one of the questions -- in the car, over dinner, before bed, or any other time:

What evidence is there for God's existence? Do all religions point to the same truth? What evidence is there for Jesus' resurrection? How do we know the Bible is reliable?

After you've taught something in answer to each question (no matter how small!), start over with the first question again, and add another layer of understanding over the next few weeks. It doesn't take a lot of time, but it does take intentionality. That intentionality also assumes that the parent is committed to equipping him or herself with some of this basic knowledge in order to pass it on.


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:  

Adapted for The Stream with permission from

Trump’s Possible China Tariffs Bring Loud Protests — in US

Fri, 03/16/2018 - 22:44

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Donald Trump is considering sweeping tariffs on imports from China, with an announcement possible as early as next week. And that has industry groups and some lawmakers scrambling to prevent the next front in a potential trade war that could reverberate across the U.S. economy.

Early indications from the White House have officials braced for tariffs across a wide variety of consumer goods, from apparel to electronics, and even on imported parts for products made in the U.S. The size and scope remain under debate, but the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is warning that annual tariffs of as much as $60 billion on Chinese goods would be “devastating.”

Trump’s focus on China could be even more consequential, both at home and abroad, than the recently announced penalty tariffs on steel and aluminum. And amid the staff turmoil at the White House, it’s being read as a sign of rising influence for the administration’s populist economic aides, led by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and adviser Peter Navarro.

Even Larry Kudlow -- an avowed free trader tapped to replace Gary Cohn as director of the White House National Economic Council -- has said that China deserves a “tough response” from the United States and its friends. He told CNBC this week, “The United States could lead a coalition of large trading partners and allies against China.”

But with these tariffs, the Trump administration appears so far to be content to go it alone.

On Friday, the National Retail Federation, which recently hosted industry groups to organize opposition to another round of tariffs, convened a conference call to update its members. “They’re all concerned about this,” said David French, vice president for government relations. “Tariffs are a tax on consumers and they’re best used sparingly as tools.”

Trade experts and economists say the tariffs could lead to rising prices for U.S. consumers and businesses without accomplishing one of the president’s stated goals: reducing last year’s trade imbalance of $566 billion.

China, the largest source of the trade imbalance, would likely respond to any tariffs by retaliating with higher import taxes on U.S. goods, among other possible restrictions.

“They signaled that they will aim at things that affect the United States politically as well as economically,” said Claude Barfield, a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute and former consultant with the U.S. trade representative.

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“The farmer in Kansas or Iowa could feel it,” he said. “U.S. high tech companies could feel it because the supply chains for iPhones go through China.”

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill, who have largely been shut out of administration deliberations, fear tariffs would stunt economic benefits in the U.S. that could be stemming from the GOP tax cuts.

Republican leaders, including House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, have urged the administration to target any proposed tariffs as narrowly as possible, away from U.S. allies and focused on countries engaged in over-production and product dumping.

Republicans in Congress largely opposed Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs and are working with the administration on a process for allowing waivers or carve outs for certain countries or types of metals, beyond the exemption the White House is allowing for Canada and Mexico.

“We want to narrow this,” Brady, who has been in talks with Ross all week, said Friday on Fox. “Tariffs are taxes -- lower is better, zero is the best.”

The new tariffs on China would be tied to an investigation into the country’s failure to stop intellectual property theft, a probe that was launched in August as part of the rarely used Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974.

Beyond the trade imbalance, the Trump administration hasn’t fully explained to the public which specific steps it wants China to take, creating a degree of uncertainty.

“Is the endgame just the tariffs or is this the beginning of negotiation?  It’s hard to know what the ultimate intent of the administration is,” said Rod Hunter, a lawyer at Baker & McKenzie who previously coordinated global economic policies during George W. Bush’s administration.

Already, the steel and aluminum tariffs have sparked a response from the European Union, which Friday released a list of U.S. products -- from whiskey and motorcycles to breakfast foods and batteries -- it plans to introduce duties on if the 28-nation bloc is not exempted.

Trump is considering adjustments but appears undeterred on trade.

“The president’s going to continue fighting for the American worker,” said Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. “He’s also working with a number of individual countries and negotiating on areas of national security where we can work together, and there’s some flexibility there, and we’re continuing to have those conversations.”

Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., a White House ally who spoke earlier this week with Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, said he has been talking with Trump on measured approaches toward using tariffs to remedy trade imbalances.

“His instincts are exactly right: We need a level playing field with the rest of the world,” Perdue said recently on Fox Business. “And I think we’ll see a measured approach going forward. This is not a guy that wants to create isolationism or a trade war.”


Associated Press writers Ken Thomas in Washington and Lorne Cook in Brussels contributed.

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

Lee Strobel Asks, “Are Miracles Real and Still Happening?”

Fri, 03/16/2018 - 20:19

Lee Strobel is best known for his book The Case for Christ, which details his immense effort to prove Jesus was not the Son of God.

He failed. And he failed for the best reason there is: You cannot prove false that which is true. Strobel began his investigations as an atheist and ended as a convinced Christian.

Strobel has a new work, this time with the happy goal of providing evidence of the miraculous. The book is entitled (sticking with what works) The Case for Miracles. On Wednesday night, Strobel held a simulcast at the World Outreach Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, launching the book.

He summarized his findings:

God is still in the miracle business; Miracles happen a lot more often than people think; Many miracles are far better documented than skeptics claim.

Strobel promised his audience that “by the end of tonight, you will witness a miracle.” More about this miracle (a real one) below.

What Miracles Are

He asked four important questions about the nature of miracles.

Question One: How to define miracle? There are varying opinions, but Strobel prefers the definition by philosopher Richard Purtill. “A miracle is an event brought about by the power of God that is a temporary exception to the ordinary course of nature for the purpose of showing that God has acted in history.”

Question Two: Aren’t miracles impossible because they violate the laws of nature? That’s what the (in)famous skeptic David Hume thought. Miracles are not, however, a violation of the laws of nature. They are instead interventions by God. Strobel used the analogy of him dropping an apple which you intercept before it hits the ground. You intervened. You did not violate the law of gravity.

Strobel also explained that whatever begins to exist has a cause. God, of course, never began: He always was and necessarily is. But there is certain scientific evidence that the universe started with the Big Bang; if so, this event was caused by God.

Where Miracles Happen

Question Three: How common are miracles today? Strobel discovered (by a poll) that nearly 40% of Americans said had they experiences that can only be explained as miracles from God. Suppose 99.9% of these accounts “are wrong and speak of merely coincidences.” That “still leaves nearly a million miracles in USA” alone.

Skeptic magazine said that “only the uneducated and the uncivilized believe in miracles.” But 55% of educated and civilized physicians say they have seen results that can only be described as miraculous.

Question Four: How can we know if a miracle is genuine? The placebo effect is real. Mistaken diagnoses happen. Fakery and fraud are ever with us; charlatans do exist. There are faulty memories and spontaneous remissions. But many healings are inexplicable except as miracles.

Some skeptics are dogmatic. They say “miracles are impossible. Period.” Other atheists, like Jerry Coyne, admit this is not a very scientific attitude and so allow the possibility of miracles. But Coyne insists on scientific evidence for miracles. Yet, “scientific experiments must be repeatable. So if someone comes back from the dead, what do you do, shoot them?”

And what about the “massive, well-documented and either replicated or independently corroborated evidence from multiple sources” about Jesus rising from the dead?

Get Up And Walk

Consider the case of Barbara Snyder, “one of most thoroughly documented cases” of modern miracles. Doctors at the Mayo Clinic diagnosed Snyder with multiple sclerosis, which she had had for many years.

Her surgeon described her as “one of the most hopelessly ill patients I ever saw.” She lost control of her bowels, had a tube in her stomach, only one working lung, hadn’t walked in seven years. Her legs atrophied. Her hands and feet withered and curled in on themselves.

Then a friend called a Christian radio program and asked the audience to pray. Many did.

Strobel showed a video clip of Snyder. She said she was lying in hospice when “all of a sudden I heard a booming loud authoritative voice, ‘My child, get up and walk!'”

She jumped up. She pulled the oxygen tube from her neck. Her feet straightened. Her hands opened. Her body took on flesh. She “started screaming and jumping up and down and thanking the Lord.”

Her doctor said what happened was “medically impossible. I have never witnessed anything like this before or since and consider it a privilege witnessing the hand of God performing a miracle.”

Speak, Lord

Strobel then produced his promised miracle.

Duane Miller was a pastor in Texas. He contracted a virus that destroyed his vocal cords, leaving him only a raspy small voice. He said there was always a hand on his throat. Sixty-three doctors, and many others at a prominent conference, examined Miller and said the nerves had been destroyed, leaving the cords covered in scar tissue. There was zero chance of recovery. He lost his job because he couldn’t speak long or well.

A friend later asked him to come speak briefly at his Sunday school. They would rig up a microphone to make it easy on him. He went. He read Psalm 103:3, [God] who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases.

This is when Strobel pulled out his surprise. Miller’s lecture was recorded.

We hear his smoking-frog rasp as he continues to the next verse. And he redeems your life from the pit. He tells his audience, “We have all had pit experiences.”

By the end of that sentence his voice had been restored.

He struggled to continue, obviously overcome with emotion. “And I don’t understand this right now. … I’m not quite sure what to say or do. …” His astonishment and joy are obvious. “Sounds funny to say, a loss for words.”

He did his best to continue the psalm: so that my youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The doctor who later examined him said the scar tissue was gone. The “hand” had been removed. Miller became pastor of a church again and now has a daily radio show in Dallas. “God didn’t just restore my life,” he said, “He amplified it.”

God Answers All Our Prayers

What about when prayer doesn’t seem to work, when no miracles or healings come?

Strobel reminds us of the most important answer. God took the worst thing in the universe, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and made it into the best thing in the universe. Imagine what he can do for you. And never forget, “Ultimately, all believers are healed.”

Pro-Lifers Shut Down ‘Trigger Warning’ Mandate at an Ohio University

Fri, 03/16/2018 - 16:16

Pro-life displays at Ohio's Miami University won't have to sport "trigger warning" signs after a pro-life student group won a free speech battle with the school Friday.

"This is a victory for the free speech rights of students, who should not be told that their support of mothers and their preborn children is some kind of shameful act that should be apologized for or vilified as harmful," Students for Life (SFL) President Kristan Hawkins said in a March 16 press release, celebrating the university's decision to rescind its "trigger warning" mandate.

The decision comes after the university's SFL group filed a suit -- Students for Life at Miami University of Ohio at Hamilton v. Trustees of Miami University of Ohio -- in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio in response to a university mandate that SFL post "trigger warning" signs in front of their displays on campus in October. 

The displays were simple crosses planted in the ground to represent the number of unborn babies Planned Parenthood has aborted. The abortion organization has murdered 7,132,130 babies since its 1916 founding. Planned Parenthood doctors aborted more than 328,348 unborn babies in 2016 alone. The organization killed 6,803,782 unborn babies between 1978 and 2016, according to CNS News

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School officials at the time of the suit indicated they would allow a peaceful display of crosses only if warning signs were placed around the campus. The university did not impose the same requirement on any other student group.

Miami University of Ohio agreed to a settlement following a legal battle and disavowed its warning sign requirement. The school also revised a second policy to guarantee other groups will not face similar mistreatment. The college crafted a third policy stating officials cannot stifle speech simply because it could "cause alarm, annoyance, or nuisance."

The university will pay the cost of SFL's damages and attorney fees.

"Our courageous student leaders show every day that they care more about pre-born infants and women than with an easy college experience by continuing to speak up for life, no matter what," SFL President Hawkins told The Daily Caller News Foundation Friday. "A tragic national trend in violations of student free speech rights is developing nationwide," Hawkins also noted. SFL and other groups dedicated to protecting life and free speech must continue to fight the powers that seek to destroy those rights, Hawkins said.

The university did not respond to TheDCNF's request for comment.


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Copyright 2018 The Daily Caller News Foundation

To Answer LGBTQ Ideology, Nancy Pearcey Seeks Truths Grounded in Science

Fri, 03/16/2018 - 15:33

Every parent has faced the questions in recent years. "Love is love," right? Isn't being transgender just another lifestyle? Or even: Why was there a boy in the girls bathroom today at school?

One scholar has grappled with current trends in sexuality for decades. Formerly an agnostic, Nancy Pearcey ended up working closely with Christian thought leaders Francis Schaeffer and Charles Colson. Today, as a professor at Houston Baptist University, she guides students to root out contradictions in popular movements.

With insights from biology, psychology, philosophy and the like, her new book Love Thy Body reveals how the hookup culture and LGBTQ ideology have devalued human identity. Pearcey offers a caring approach that has given her a platform beyond Fox News where she often appears. Even voices on the left seek her out.

After addressing a packed audience at The Heritage Foundation on her latest work, Pearcey spoke with The Stream in an interview.

Dividing Body, Mind and Soul

The Stream: Your book presents many big ideas on sexuality and science. How have your students responded to it?

Nancy Pearcey: These ideas are new even to my graduate-level students. They have not heard this paradigm elsewhere. Mostly coming from a Christian background, all they've had are some Bible studies and moral teaching of "This is right, this is wrong." They come into the classroom without a strong sense of why this is right or wrong.

Your view of the body depends on your view of nature. Start with a view that nature is a product of blind material forces, and you end up with a low view of the body. If Charles Darwin was right -- that our bodies are the products of purposeless, undirected forces -- then the logical conclusion is that the body is just matter.

Your view of the body depends on your view of nature. Start with a view that nature is a product of blind material forces, and you end up with a low view of the body.

The body becomes just a collection of cells, organs and tissues -- no different from any other chance configuration of matter. You end up with an ethical view that there is no status or dignity to the human being.

As our culture becomes more secular, it's not enough to know: This is what the Bible says. Moral assertions are not enough to talk with secular friends or even other Christians. Today, students go off to college and everyone they know is sleeping with their boyfriend or girlfriend.

Nancy Pearcey

Now we have to show the moral truths we live by. We have to understand the ideas behind transgenderism, homosexuality, abortion and sexual ethics. Love Thy Body brings secular humanism back to its scientific roots.

Fallout in the Next Generation

The Stream: With this new iteration of the sexual revolution, what impact have you seen on young adults today?

Pearcey: When writing Love Thy Body, I knew people who were struggling with same-sex attraction and transgenderism. The chapter I thought would be straightforward was on abortion. After all, millennials are more pro-life than their Baby Boomer parents.

To gain perspective on these sensitive issues, I engaged with many different people in reading groups. They included undergrads, graduates, previously homeschooled and our College of Biblical Studies, which has 80 percent minority students. My grad students were going through the chapter on life issues. Gradually, three of them shared they had abortions in the past.

One had been raped in her dorm room at a Christian college. It was her former boyfriend who was angry with her at breaking up with him. That was his revenge. Now this girl was pro-life, yet she was so distraught about what her church would say. Her first thought was: My church will shun my parents. She was worried enough about protecting her parents, she took the first available appointment to get an abortion.

Whenever we deal with these topics, we need to keep in mind the personal stories.

Isn't the church where young men and women should be able to work through these issues? Yet our reading group was one of the first places she ever admitted it to anyone. I realized anew that you cannot deal with these issues as abstract moral topics. In your church group, your classroom and among your friends, there are people struggling.

These talks actually changed the tone of this book. This happened again when I taught this manuscript to a college class. I recall there was a young man who didn't say much the entire class. As students finished the final exam at different times, I walked out to the hallway to say goodbye to them.

On that last day of class, he told me he struggled with same-sex attraction. It turned out he hadn't even told his mother yet. Whenever we deal with these topics, we need to keep in mind the personal stories.

The Stream: How does your work speak to those struggling with these difficult issues?

Pearcey: I asked my student that in the hallway. He said the book gave him hope. It's the positive message on sexuality that makes a difference. Instead of one more time hearing it's wrong, they need the reasons why to live more in tune with the body.

A former lesbian was part of the book launch team. She said, Even though I had become a Christian, decided that lifestyle was wrong and left it behind, you've given me a whole different way to think about it. It's giving people a high view of the body, positive reasons to affirm their biological identity as male or female.

By seeking to overcome same-sex identity, you're respecting your body. Certain truths help bring personal empowerment and wholeness. Intrinsically, God has created me to relate sexually to the opposite sex. I accept that as a good gift from God. I know I will be healthier and happier when I live in alignment with my biological sex.

It's that inner unity and coherence that gives hope. It's not just about doing what is morally right, rather a holistic notion of gender, sexual desire and biology being aligned.

Current Issues, Historic Roots

The Stream: Why does Love Thy Body focus more on how these trends affect individuals rather than society?

Pearcey: Frankly, knowing the social harms is not going to change lives. Maybe people should care more. But if you try to explain to someone how homosexuality is socially harmful, the individual will dismiss you. Sorry, this is what feels right to me. I'm not going to deny my own impulses and feelings because it harms "societal norms."

For someone who is really struggling with this, it feels like life and death. They're not going to give up what feels like life to them for some vague impact on civilization. They're just not. That's why I spent most of Love Thy Body on how it affects the individual, while the final chapter deals with social harms.

The Stream: Where did these trends and ideas originate?

Pearcey: What the transgender movement is saying -- that the body is not part of your authentic self -- has a long history. It goes all the way back to Plato, who said the body is the “prison house of the soul.” At the beginning of the modern age, Descartes located personal identity in the mind (“I think, therefore I am”) and reduced the body to a machine.

Then Darwin said nature is a product of blind forces, which means the body has no intrinsic purpose. With this history, you can see why today secular liberalism sees the body as only raw material, which the mind is free to use how it wants. Lesbian feminist Camille Paglia defends homosexuality in exactly those terms.

She writes that nature has made us male and female, but then asks, "Why not defy nature?” After all, “Fate, not God, has given us this flesh. We have absolute claim to our bodies and may do with them as we see fit." In other words, if our bodies are merely products of material forces, then they convey no moral message, give no clue to our identity and have no inherent purpose we are obligated to respect.

What the transgender movement is saying -- that the body is not part of your authentic self -- has a long history. It goes all the way back to Plato, who said the body is the “prison house of the soul.”

The thinker most responsible for postmodern sexual theory is Immanuel Kant. He believed the mind essentially creates the world as we know it -- that the world is a social construction. Judith Butler, founder of queer theory, took that to its logical conclusion: sex, too, is a social construction in her view. In this completely postmodern world, gender is totally disassociated from body and can be anything you want it to be.

I'm always reading social media to see what real people think about these things. Last night on my Facebook page, someone asked, What's wrong with people being whatever gender they want to be? In a casual chat, there were Judith Butler's postmodern views on sexuality. It's permeated the culture.

Concerns about Faith, Hope -- and Texas

The Stream: How has your own journey lately informed how you see these trends?

Pearcey: We lived for more than 20 years here in Washington, DC. There tends to be this sharp divide in the Northeast. If you're not a Christian, you don't pretend and go to church just for cultural reasons.

When I moved to Texas, it was culture shock. There is a lot of cultural Christianity, and I wasn't used to that. I'll give you an example. Talking to an undergrad class, I was trying to get them excited about the truths of Christianity. I was telling the students they needed to be fully committed in order to face the challenges of living in a secularized world.

One of my students said, "Professor Pearcey, Relax -- this is Texas." He felt that we were buffered from these trends because Texas is so much more conservative. But, wait a minute. Houston has a lesbian mayor. You're not insulated from these trends just because you live in Texas.

Living in the South, cultural Christianity means many people do not grasp the urgency of these issues. You'll find that in most churches. Christians are prone to live in a bubble: we go to church, to Bible study and have mostly Christian friends. We insulate ourselves from wider trends and never realize that the church has lost ground culturally.

The culture around us easily dismisses Christianity. "You can believe that if it makes you feel better, but don't bring it out into the public square where we talk about what's really true," they say. They do not feel at all compelled to engage with Christians, because they do not think you're making objective truth claims.

The Stream: You've spoken of many troubling trends. Do you have hope for the next generation?

Pearcey: I am pessimistic about where our culture is going but optimistic about what we can do. A culture lives out the logical implications of whatever worldview is accepted.

Francis Schaeffer introduced the evangelical world to the notion of worldview. He stated that we cannot deal with these secular liberal issues one by one. To be effective, you have to see the underlying worldview that connects them all. You have to go to first principles, because worldview spins out the logic of those principles.

We're entering a cultural shift where the buffer between Christians and the secular world is gone. Cultural Christians, those not that committed, are leaving. They are no longer willing to stand under the pressure.

The next generation of Christians will have to be much more intentional about what they believe and why they believe it. Are they equipped to answer the questions and objections of the secular world?

We are challenged today to be more rigorous in our thinking and our commitments. I think that's a good thing.

A friend of mine worked in a large national ministry. She worked in the women's division where they run conferences and publish Bible studies. She read some of my books and proposed, We need to get content like this in our women's ministry. She and the rest of the women’s committee talked to the men who were in leadership.

The male leadership said: Women don't want this. They replied, We're the women! We're saying we want it. These women want something that would have more intellectual depth to equip them to speak with secular people. They are seeking to understand and have answers for these trends.

We are challenged today to be more rigorous in our thinking and our commitments. I think that's a good thing. And that’s why I am optimistic about what Christians can become even as society grows more secularized.


The latest work by Nancy Pearcey, Love Thy Body is now available online and wherever books are sold. Watch her recent talk at The Heritage Foundation:

Veteran Democratic Congresswoman Louise Slaughter Dies

Fri, 03/16/2018 - 15:29

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Veteran U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter, a Kentucky blacksmith’s daughter who went on to chair one Congress’s most important committees, died Friday at a Washington hospital where she was being treated after falling in her home, her top aide said. She was 88.

The New York Democrat died at George Washington University Hospital a week after a fall in which Slaughter had sustained a concussion, said Liam Fitzsimmons, her chief of staff.

Slaughter had been the first woman to chair the House Rules Committee and was her party’s top member on the panel when she died.

Slaughter was serving her 16th term in the House, and her 31 years in the chamber made her its third longest-serving woman, according to the official House website. She chaired the rules committee from 2007 through 2010.

A special election will be held to elect someone to serve out the rest of Slaughter’s term, which expires Dec. 31. Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo will set the date for the special election in the 25th Congressional District, which includes the city of Rochester.

Slaughter had a degree in microbiology and was originally from Harlan County, Kentucky, and her soft, twangy accent always seemed out of place for someone representing a western New York district. But she was repeatedly re-elected -- including a narrow victory in 2014 -- and was the longest-serving member of Congress from New York when she died.

“Louise never forgot her roots as the daughter of a Kentucky blacksmith,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement. “She brought the grace and grit of her Southern background to her leadership in the Congress, building bridges and breaking down barriers all with her beautiful accent. Louise could be fiercely debating on the floor in the morning, and singing in harmony with her colleagues across the aisle in the evening.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan called Slaughter “a giant in the people’s House” and said she was “unrelenting” in working for her ideals and constituents.

“Louise did not need a gavel to make a dent in history,” the Republican speaker said.

Slaughter was the chief force behind a 2012 law to ban insider stock trading based on congressional knowledge and require disclosure of market activities by lawmakers. She also helped write the Violence Against Women Act and a 2008 law designed to protect people with genetic predispositions to health conditions from facing discrimination from their employers or health insurance companies.

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Her death creates a vacancy at the top of the Democratic side of the Rules panel, which sets the terms of House floor debates. It’s likely to be filled by Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass.

When Slaughter was first elected in 1986, she ousted Republican Rep. Fred Eckert after running a campaign advertisement in which Peggy Say accused him of refusing to “speak up” for her brother, kidnapped Associated Press reporter Terry Anderson.

Say and Anderson were both from the Rochester, New York, area. Anderson, the AP’s Middle East bureau chief, had been captured the year before by Islamic militants in Beirut, Lebanon, and was not released until 1991.

Slaughter was born Dorothy Louise McIntosh on Aug. 14, 1929, in Appalachian coal country. According to the Democrat and Chronicle of Rochester, she was doing market research for a major chemicals manufacturer in Texas in the 1950s when she met Ohio native Robert “Bob” Slaughter. They married in 1957 and moved to the Rochester area for her husband’s job. He later joined Eastman Kodak as a legal administrator. Bob Slaughter died in 2014 at 82.

The couple became involved in local Democratic politics while living in suburban Rochester. Louise Slaughter served in the Monroe County Legislature between 1976 and 1979, then worked for Democratic Gov. Mario Cuomo before serving in the state Assembly from 1982 to 1986. That year she defeated Eckert to become the first woman to represent western New York in Congress.

As Kodak and other Rochester-area manufacturers shed thousands of jobs over the years, Slaughter worked with New York’s congressional delegation to bring high-tech companies to the region and fought for federal dollars to improve the infrastructure, including a new Amtrak train station that opened last year.

“She was such a tireless advocate and great public servant for our community and region throughout her tenure in Congress,” said Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bob Duffy, former Rochester mayor and lieutenant governor under current Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Mario’s son.

“She was trailblazer, a partner and friend ever since we worked together for my father more than four decades ago,” the younger Cuomo said in a statement, calling her a “champion for New York.”

“The ferocity of her advocacy was matched only by the depth of her compassion and humanity,” added Senate Minority Leader and fellow New York Democrat Chuck Schumer.

The Slaughters are survived by their three daughters, seven grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. Funeral arrangements are pending.


Associated Press writers Andrew Taylor and Kevin Freking contributed to this report from Washington. Chris Carola contributed from Albany, New York.


This story has been corrected to show Slaughter was the third-longest serving female House member, not the third-longest serving member.


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

US Fighter Pilots on the Front Lines of Russia’s Spy Games

Fri, 03/16/2018 - 14:40

TALLINN, Estonia -- The night of Friday, Feb. 10, was frigid and snowy in Estonia's capital city. The kind of winter weather one expects in this Baltic country, which lies at roughly the same geographic latitude as southern Alaska.

Inside the lobby bar of Tallinn's Swissotel, however, the temperature was warm and the atmosphere bustled with people enjoying drinks and conversation -- presumably the typical Friday night scene at this fashionable, modern hotel in the city center.

Yet, if you knew what to look for, subtle clues proliferated as to the ongoing shadow war between Russia and the West.

At the lobby bar on this night, a group of off-duty U.S. Air National Guard F-16 pilots sipped on draft beers at one end of the bar counter. Their demeanor was casual, yet guarded.

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The men spoke among each other in voices inaudible over the background din of other conversations. Their haircuts, of course, were all neat and short. However, there was nothing that overtly identified these men as American fighter pilots deployed to Estonia as part of an ongoing mission to deter Russian aggression in Eastern Europe.

Down the bar from the pilots, a group of four men in business suits spoke loudly in Russian. They told the woman working behind the bar they were "businessmen" from Moscow.

At a nearby table, four men -- also speaking Russian -- sat with glasses of beer and spirits spread before them. From time to time, they subtly yet curiously regarded the Americans at the bar.

"We are definitely cognizant of what we say and where we go and who may be around us," said a U.S. F-16 pilot deployed to Estonia in February named Garrick, explaining the threat of Russian espionage activity.

"Sometimes," Garrick added, "you even raise an eyebrow when you see some people sitting nearby, and you think, 'Did I see that guy before?'"

Due to security concerns, the pilot asked that his full name not be published.

The Russian Embassy in Tallinn.

As part of a "theater security package" mission, from Jan. 14 to March 7, the Ohio Air National Guard's 180th Fighter Wing deployed 12 F-16 fighter jets and nearly 300 personnel to the Amari Air Base in Estonia.

While deployed, the F-16 unit was known as the 112th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron; its mission in Estonia was part of an ongoing initiative meant to deter Russian aggression against NATO sovereign territory.

Estonia borders Russia. So there's nothing necessarily nefarious about the simultaneous presence of Russian-speaking visitors and American fighter pilots under the roof of one hotel in central Tallinn.

Still, security experts agree that there is an unseen world of espionage that permeates NATO's post-Soviet countries in the Baltics -- Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania -- all three of which share a land border with Russian territory.

"Russia still keeps all KGB practices and approaches, but at the same time, under the regime of [Russian President Vladimir Putin], the Russians have expanded," Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, former head of the Security Service of Ukraine, or SBU, Ukraine's main security agency, told The Daily Signal.

"Today [the Russians] are more dangerous and hostile to Western democracy," Nalyvaichenko said.

The SBU is Ukraine's successor agency to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic's branch of the KGB, the Soviet Union's main security agency. Nalyvaichenko, now a political reformer in Ukraine, studied at the then-named Andropov Institute of KGB in Russia in the early 1990s.

However, Nalyvaichenko refused a diploma from the Soviet-era spy academy -- Putin's alma mater -- which is now known as the Academy of Foreign Intelligence and educates the Russian Federation's modern spies.

Bridge of Spies

Underscoring the ubiquity of Russia's espionage activity in Estonia, on the morning of Saturday, Feb. 10, Estonian and Russian officials carried out a cross-border spy swap.

Artem Zinchenko, a convicted spy for Russia living in Estonia, and Estonian businessman Raivo Susi were each released on opposite sides of a bridge spanning the Estonia-Russia border in a scene worthy of a John le Carre novel.

Russian officials arrested Susi for espionage at a Moscow airport in December, later sentencing him to 12 years in prison.

Estonian internal security agents arrested Zinchenko for spying for Russia's foreign military intelligence agency, the Main Intelligence Directorate, or GRU. In May, an Estonian court sentenced Zinchenko to five years in prison; he was the 10th Russian spy to be convicted in Estonia in nine years.

Russia has targeted Estonia, a country of just 1.3 million people, for decades using cyberattacks, disinformation campaigns, and espionage operations. In 2007, for example, Russia hit Estonia with crippling cyberattacks in retaliation for the removal of a Soviet-era monument.

"Russia has an extensive army of cyber-warriors deployed both domestically and internationally, so indeed pilots stationed in Estonia are likely monitored both physically and virtually by Russian agents," Lindsay Moran, a former Central Intelligence Agency operations officer and an expert on espionage and tradecraft, told The Daily Signal in an interview.

"Look," Moran continued, "Russia is capable of spying and interference within the U.S. itself, so naturally the threat is even larger in a former Soviet state."

Watch the author's video report on a convoy of U.S. Army Stryker armored fighting vehicles that passed through Estonia in 2015:


Amid this shadow conflict, the individual security threats facing deployed U.S. military personnel in Estonia differ from those of counterinsurgency deployments in the post-9/11 era.

"Under the Putin regime, the Russian secret services -- FSB, GRU, SVR -- have their own division to target military personnel, especially of the United States," Nalyvaichenko, the former Ukrainian spy chief, said.

While deployed in Estonia, the Ohio Air National Guard's F-16 pilots and their support personnel were not secluded in military bases behind barbed-wire fences. Instead, they lived in hotels, frequented local restaurants, and even performed volunteer activities with local nationals on the weekends.

"We're scattered around a few hotels, and no matter where you go, there's probably somebody that's paying attention to what you're saying, and they can start piecing stuff together," Lt. Col. Greg Barasch, commander of the 112th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, told The Daily Signal during an interview in Tallinn.

The deployment of U.S. F-16s to Estonia this winter was not a combat operation. Yet, those pilots and support personnel were on the front lines of an ongoing, non-shooting conflict between Russia and the West, in which battles are not fought by combat pilots and soldiers -- but by spies, hackers, and propaganda spin doctors.

"Just because we're in a post-Cold War era does not mean that the threat against U.S. servicemen and women deployed to Europe today has significantly lessened, let alone disappeared," Moran said. "To the contrary, I would say that approaches by foreign intelligence, especially Russia and its affiliates, has become easier, more sophisticated, and quite frankly, ubiquitous."

For their part, U.S. pilots deployed in Estonia told The Daily Signal that the Russian espionage threat was a concern, as was the potential for Russian attempts to accumulate "kompromat" -- compromising material that could be used for blackmail.

"Hyperaware is probably not the right term-, but as a unit, we have a lot of these discussions and we have some pretty good reporting channels of any things we see that are out of the ordinary or out of the norm," Barasch said.


Estonia is on the front lines of the current conflict between Russia and the West.

Underscoring the competing geopolitical interests interwoven over this small country, on a street called Pikk in Tallinn's historic center, you pass, in the span of a little more than 100 yards, from the old Soviet KGB prison cells (which are now a museum) to the Texas Honky Tonk & Cantina where an American and a Texas flag hang out front.

A bit further down that same street, a Russian flag hangs outside the Russian Embassy.

In the nearby skies, U.S. F-16 fighters fly from a former Soviet air base, conducting training missions meant to reassure Estonia that the U.S. and its NATO allies are willing to defend it against Russia.

Relations between Russia and the West are worse than they have ever been in the post-Cold War era, many security experts say.

For one, Russia's ongoing, four-year-old proxy war in eastern Ukraine -- Europe's only ongoing land war -- still comprises daily shelling and small arms gun battles. And people are still dying.

Russia's brinkmanship against the West spans the gamut -- aggressive warplane flybys of NATO aircraft and ships, global cyberattacks and disinformation campaigns, as well as meddling in European and American elections.

Most recently, Russian relations with the West hit a new post-Cold War nadir following the attempted nerve gas murder of a former Russian spy and his daughter on British soil.

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May said Monday that Russia was likely behind the attack, threatening retaliation for what she called an "indiscriminate and reckless act." May followed through on Wednesday, booting 23 Russian diplomats suspected of being undeclared intelligence operatives from the U.K. in the single biggest expulsion of that kind in more than 30 years.

May said the move will "fundamentally degrade Russian intelligence capability in the U.K. for years to come."

For its part, the Kremlin threatened retaliation.

"The reaction will be such that the U.K. will regret their actions," Sergey Kislyak, former Russian ambassador to the U.S., reportedly said, according to Russian agencies.

'Part of Something Bigger'

On Thursday, the Trump administration levied fresh sanctions on Russia for its meddling in the 2016 presidential election, as well as other cyberattacks, including a Russian attempt to penetrate the U.S. energy grid.

Against this background of world events, U.S. personnel deployed to Eastern Europe to deter Russian aggression recognize that their very presence is a shot across the bow to a militarily revanchist Russia.

Just down the street from the Russian Embassy in Tallinn is the Texas Honky Tonk & Cantina.

"Sometimes we take a step back to realize we're a part of something bigger than we even realize or even know," said Garrick, one of the U.S. F-16 pilots deployed to Estonia this winter.

In many ways, the U.S. military is returning to a Cold War mindset -- both in its combat training as well as the individual security posture of its deployed personnel.

Yet, in today's digital age, maintaining operational security, or OPSEC -- the military's catchphrase for safeguarding critical information -- is vastly more complicated and challenging than during the Cold War.

The ubiquitous use of social media and electronic communications by U.S. service members makes them more vulnerable to Russian espionage activity, experts say.

For his part, Nalyvaichenko "strongly recommends" that the U.S. military prohibit social media use among its deployed service members in Eastern Europe.

Nalyvaichenko took over at the SBU in the immediate aftermath of Ukraine's 2014 revolution.

He was in command during Russia's 2014 invasion and annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, as well as during the outbreak of Russia's proxy war in eastern Ukraine in April 2014 -- a war that remains ongoing.

During that time, Nalyvaichenko said he banned the use of Russian email accounts among his personnel. Also, while he was in charge of the SBU, Nalyvaichenko said the Ukrainian security agency paralleled Russian tactics, exploiting the social media profiles of Russian and pro-Russian separatist troops to Ukraine's military advantage.

Social media, smartphones, text messages -- none of those things were around when the Cold War ended. The World Wide Web, after all, only became publicly available in 1991 -- the same year the Soviet Union collapsed.

"Post-Cold War openness combined with the explosion of social media has made Russian intelligence targeting of U.S. military personnel -- particularly a generation of servicemen and women who did not grow up under the Cold War spectre -- easier," Moran said.

Spy Games

U.S. military personnel deployed to Eastern Europe assume their every move is likely under Russian intelligence scrutiny, including what they say in public spaces like taxis and restaurants, or hotel lobbies. Their hotel rooms and phone lines could be tapped, experts and military personnel said.

The digital footprints of deployed U.S. servicemen and women are also likely under constant scrutiny by Russian spy agencies. Everything from emails, text messages, and the websites they visit -- it's all likely to be in Russia's espionage crosshairs, U.S. security officials believe.

"I've had a couple of commander's calls (unit-wide briefings) to have these discussions with the entire unit," said Barasch, the F-16 squadron commander. "I'll say it's at least a serious discussion on OPSEC and your surroundings, what you're doing online, what you're doing in your car, and in your hotel -- all those things."

Russia maintains a prolific espionage presence in former Soviet countries like Estonia, security experts say.

Air Force security guidance documents reviewed by The Daily Signal include commonsense suggestions for deploying service members, such as limiting the amount of personal information they publish online, bolstering the security settings on their computers and online accounts, turning off geolocation functions for social media photos and posts, and avoiding online interactions with unknown people.

Also, the Air Force warns against using public Wi-Fi, visiting foreign websites, and downloading mobile applications that could be Trojan horses for viruses or other malware.

In the end, an Air Force counterintelligence document suggested, "Permanently deleting your profile is ultimately the best way to prevent information from being collected on you, your friends, and your family."

Yet, the U.S. armed forces' ranks comprise generations for whom social media is an integral part of daily life. Thus, an outright ban on the use of such online platforms by U.S. military personnel is not likely, no matter how big of a security threat it poses.

"The military is probably engaged in a bit of a internal culture war," Moran said. "The millennial generation and the one coming after it grew up texting non-stop, oversharing across a number of online platforms. It's a way of life for them."

According to Defense Department data, the average age of Air Force personnel is 30. That number is 29 for the Army and the Navy, and 25 for the Marine Corps.

According to a Pew Research Center poll, 88 percent of U.S. 18- to 29-year-olds indicated that they use some form of social media. That number is 78 percent for 30- to 49-year-olds.

Overall, 68 percent of U.S. adults are now Facebook users.

For her part, Moran called social media an "absolute game-changer for everyone in the spy trade."

"Highly personal information that used to take months or even years of source cultivation and agent development to collect is now out there for all and sundry to see, analyze, and eventually exploit," the former CIA operations officer said.

Always on Parade

Russia's 2014 invasion and seizure of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and subsequent, ongoing proxy war in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region has spurred the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania -- all former Soviet states and now members of NATO -- to take the threat of Russian military aggression with deadly earnestness.

"The aggressive Russian stance in Ukraine has certainly resulted in renewed attention to the defense of NATO territory," retired Lt. Gen. Ton van Loon of the Dutch army wrote in a report for the Joint Air Power Competence Center, a NATO-sponsored think tank.

To counter the Russian military threat, in 2016, NATO began rotating four battalion-size, combat-ready battlegroups throughout the Baltic region. Of those forces, the U.S. has about 800 troops stationed in Poland, including a squadron of Stryker armored fighting vehicles with towed artillery.

A Soviet-era monument to a killed Red Air Force pilot outside Amari Air Base, Estonia.

NATO has also sent military units to the Black Sea region, another hot spot of tensions with Russia.

On its website, NATO calls its rotations of military forces in Eastern and Southeastern Europe "the biggest reinforcement of Alliance collective defence in a generation."

The deployment of U.S. F-16 fighters to Estonia this winter was part of a separate U.S. program meant to deter Russian aggression.

For its part, Moscow paints the beefed-up U.S. and NATO presence in countries like Estonia as a security threat to Russia. Consequently, deployed U.S. service members are likely under constant surveillance by Russian intelligence agencies looking to cast a negative propaganda spin on the Americans' presence.

"We're here for what I think is a good mission and a good reason, but there's always somebody who's trying to twist it," Barasch said.

The F-16 squadron commander added, "And I think we can prevent that by having a good understanding of what's going on around us and having good situational awareness, and not being out there blabbing about, 'Hey, I did this today,' to people who could be overhearing those things."


Many of Russia's contemporary military and espionage tactics have been honed and tested on the battlefields of Ukraine.

Russian military forces in the eastern Ukrainian warzone have targeted their artillery by zeroing in on Ukrainian soldiers' cellphone signals. Also, Russian forces have sent out mass text messages to Ukrainian troops, threatening them to surrender.

Consequently, Ukrainian military commanders have restricted the use of cellphones by front-line troops.

Nalyvaichenko said Russian intelligence agencies had planted moles across practically ever lever of Ukrainian government, including parliament, the SBU, and the Ministry of Defense, prior to the outbreak of hostilities in 2014. Once the war began, Russian military forces exploited cellphone networks and other communications platforms for their military advantage.

"One of the first targets during the Russian invasion was cellphone companies, with offices in Luhansk, Donetsk, and Crimea, along with the seizure of TV stations," Nalyvaichenko recalled of Russia's 2014 invasions of Ukraine's Crimea and Donbas regions.

"They took all data from cellphone companies and replaced it with Russian companies -- so that the Russian special services can control the data and communications," Nalyvaichenko said.

Russia has already hacked the smartphones of some NATO military personnel deployed throughout the Baltics in a manner similar to what Russian forces have done in Ukraine.

Former KGB prison cells in central Tallinn.

The U.S. military has, therefore, provided guidance to its ranks, cautioning personnel to restrict their mobile device use while deployed.

"I think the military likely does a good job of scaring the bejesus out of its personnel with regard to the very real counterintelligence threat, as well it should," Moran said.

Modern dating habits are another vulnerability for deployed U.S. service members when it comes to Russian spy operations.

According to the Pew Research Center, the share of 18- to 24-year-olds who use online dating services roughly tripled from 10 percent to 27 percent in the period from 2013 to 2016. Moreover, 22 percent of that demographic reported using mobile dating apps in 2016; a fourfold increase in the span of three years.

Thus, as with social media and cellphone usage, the rising popularity of the internet and mobile apps for dating among younger Americans has given new life to one of the Soviet Union's trademark espionage collection techniques known as the "honeypot," in which intelligence operatives lure victims into illicit sexual encounters, which can be exploited for blackmail.

"The honeypot, and I use that word in a gender-neutral sense, is a tactic that worked and continues to work before, during, and after the Cold War," Moran said, referring to Russia's use of the Soviet-era tactic.

"Humans are humans, and hence the never-ending power of HUMINT collection," Moran added, using an acronym for intelligence gathered by means of interpersonal contact, known as human intelligence, or HUMINT.

The Air Force cautions its personnel against online sexual activities, although it's unclear whether an outright ban on popular mobile dating apps like Tinder has been seriously considered for deployed personnel.

"You can educate people on it, you can restrict certain things, but people just have to be smart about what they choose to say and do and when they do it," Barasch said of the use of mobile dating apps like Tinder among U.S. personnel deployed to Eastern Europe.

Social Engineering

Russia's hybrid warfare campaign against Ukraine has included cyberattacks using computer viruses that target particular individuals based on their social media profiles.

"Russia recruits psychiatrists, scientists, and neurologists, who construct these things to target particular individuals," said Dmytro Shymkiv, deputy head of the Presidential Administration of Ukraine on administrative, social, and economic reforms.

According to Ukrainian security officials, Russian agents build a psychological profile of their mark through his or her social media footprint. Then, using that information, the Russians can make personalized computer viruses or run a social media influence operation specifically crafted with one person in mind.

This is known in the cybersecurity world as "social engineering" -- a form of cyberattack in which people are psychologically manipulated into performing actions or divulging confidential information.

A winter's day in Estonia's capital city of Tallinn.

The U.S. military is on guard for this type of precision-strike cyberattack against its personnel.

"Fictitious online profiles controlled by foreign adversaries have successfully targeted hundreds of [Department of Defense] members, including USAF personnel," said the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations, a federal law enforcement agency that conducts counterintelligence for the Air Force, in a security document for deploying personnel.

Foreign adversaries have targeted more than 2,000 DOD personnel and defense contractors, using false personas on multiple social networking sites, the document said, citing a report by a U.S. information security company.

While the Air Force would not discuss the specific training it gives its deployed personnel in countering cyber or espionage collection threats, current and former military members say that such training has become more prevalent in recent years as the U.S. armed forces reorient toward countering conventional, "near-peer" state adversaries like Russia and China.

"It's definitely something that was highlighted before we left and more on our mind than previous deployments," said Garrick, a deployed F-16 pilot, referring to the threat of Russian espionage.


Nolan Peterson, a former special operations pilot and a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, is The Daily Signal's foreign correspondent based in Ukraine. Send an email to Nolan. @nolanwpeterson

Copyright 2018 The Daily Signal

Two Million Americans Got Off Food Stamps in Trump’s First Year

Fri, 03/16/2018 - 13:37

The number of food stamp dependent Americans hit a six-year low in President Donald Trump's first year in office, reflecting an improving economy and falling unemployment, according to a U.S. Agriculture Department (USDA) report.

An average of 42.2 million Americans participated in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program in 2017, which is an 11 percent decrease from 2013, when a record number of people used food stamps, according to USDA.

"Federal spending for SNAP totaled $68.0 billion or 4 percent less than in the previous fiscal year," USDA reported. "This was also 15 percent less than the historical high of $79.9 billion set in FY 2013."

It's the fourth year in a row SNAP participation fell. Previously, the number of people on food stamps grew for 12 years. About 13 percent of Americans used food stamps in 2017. That's well above pre-recession levels.

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Better economic conditions reduce food stamp participation, but some states' welfare reforms have also played a role.

The Obama administration allowed states to waive work requirements for food stamps as part of the 2009 stimulus package. The number of childless adults on food stamps doubled after that rule change.

Thirteen Alabama counties saw food stamp use drop 85 percent between January and May 2017 once work requirements were put in place for childless adults. More than two dozen counties in Georgia saw food stamp participation drop precipitously after work requirements were restored.

The number of Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) participants hit a 17-year low. In 2017, 7.3 million people on average used the program, USDA reported.

The WIC program is for "low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women as well as infants and children up to age five who are at nutritional risk," USDA said.


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Copyright 2018 The Daily Caller News Foundation

This Week at War: ‘So That Others May Live’

Fri, 03/16/2018 - 13:20

“The night is dark. The air is heavy, filled with the smoke and dust of Afghanistan.”

So begins this riveting story by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Gregory Brook, who also took the stunning photo displayed above. His March 9 piece profiles a deployed joint Air Force-Army rescue squadron known as the “Guardian Angels.”

"I've been flying CH-47 (Chinook helicopter) models for 22 years," Chief Warrant Officer 3 Shawn Miller, a pilot with the South Carolina Army National Guard, told Tech Sgt. Brook. "This is an unprecedented tasking.”

Without prior warning, the Guardian Angels must be ready to mobilize and save troops on the ground, whether they are pinned down by enemy gunfire or injured in an aircraft or vehicle crash.

"Critical to the warfighter is knowing that a highly trained and capable PR (personnel recovery) force is standing ready at a moment's notice, willingly placing themselves in harm's way ... so that others may live,” said Maj. Robert Wilson, the 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron’s commander.

We are grateful to the Guardian Angels for their sacrifices and pray for their safe return from Afghanistan.

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Meanwhile, Defense Secretary James Mattis, who once led Americans into battle in Afghanistan, was back in the country this week to meet U.S. troops and attend high-level meetings. An Associated Press article about his second visit to the country since taking over at the Pentagon contains this key paragraph:

“As part of an effort to bolster Afghan fighting strength, the U.S. in recent weeks sent an Army group of about 800 soldiers, accompanied by several hundred support troops, to advise the Afghans closer to the front lines. The U.S. also shifted A-10 attack planes and other aircraft from striking Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq to Afghanistan as part of Trump's new approach. These and other moves boosted the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan by at least 3,500 to a total of more than 14,000.”

We are grateful to each of these more than 14,000 valiant men and women in uniform, as well as their families, for sacrificing so much in this 17th year of America’s longest war.

Iraq and Syria

U.S. forces are still fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria. This image shows the commanding general of the Operation Inherent Resolve combined joint task force visiting with American logistics soldiers stationed at Camp Taji in Iraq. These warriors and their loved ones are also in our constant prayers as they serve in such a dangerous, faraway place.

Update: After This Week at War was published, U.S. military officials confirmed that seven American service members were killed in a tragic Thursday evening helicopter crash near the Iraqi-Syrian border. A Stars and Stripes article by Chad Garland contains a statement from the Operation Inherent Resolve combined joint task force’s director of operations:

"This tragedy reminds us of the risks our men and women face every day in service of our nations," Brig. Gen. Jonathan P. Braga said. "We are thinking of the loved ones of these service members today.”

As are we.

Coming Home

Thankfully, there are also Americans coming home from hotspots around the world.

A U.S. Army soldier reunites with his family on March 12, 2018, upon returning to New York’s Fort Drum from a six-month deployment to Africa.

On Monday, almost 100 soldiers from the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division came back to Fort Drum after spending the last six months deployed to Africa. You can see the joy on the above soldier’s face as he looks into the eyes of his infant son for the first time in half a year.

As Maj. Robert Wilson said above, we owe America’s heroes a huge debt of gratitude for “willingly placing themselves in harm's way ... so that others may live.” Every single day, our nation is blessed to have these volunteer warriors serving as our guardian angels.


Tom Sileo is a contributing senior editor of The Stream. He is co-author of three books about military heroes: 8 Seconds of Courage, Brothers Forever and Fire in My Eyes. Follow Tom on Twitter @TSileo.

Hillary’s Hateful Harangue

Fri, 03/16/2018 - 13:13

Hillary Clinton’s abhorrent remarks in Mumbai, India, last week warrant our attention because, like it or not, they represent the thinking of a large swath of the modern Democratic Party.

But my aim is not to highlight Clinton’s never-ending catalog of excuses for losing the presidential election, except to note that rather than blame everyone and everything but herself, she should apologize for stealing the nomination. If she hadn’t done that, she wouldn’t have to blame anyone.

She should also have to answer for FISA-gate, but I don’t want to waste space demonstrating Clinton’s unfitness for office -- because I have little fear she’ll run again, and Democrats surely aren’t crazy enough to indulge her if she tries.

Instead, let’s review her disgraceful tirade in Mumbai, in which she blamed Americans’ racism and misogyny for her election loss.

“We do not do well with white men, and we don’t do well with married white women,” said Clinton. “And part of that is an identification with the Republican Party and a sort of ongoing pressure to vote the way that your husband, your boss, your son, whoever, believes you should.”

Who’s the Misogynist?

Hold the phone. Do you see the rich irony here? “Hear me roar” Hillary is impugning the independence and courage of women -- the very people she is pretending to defend against our misogyny? Seeing as she is maligning men, wouldn’t it be prudent not to insult the other half of the human race at the same time? I know few men who don’t have a higher opinion of women than this female liberal icon is displaying here.

You know darn well that Bill Clinton has a devil of a time persuading Hillary to do what she doesn’t want to do -- unless it will advance her interests. So why would she assume that other women would be any less independent?

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Sure, you can say she isn’t talking about all women -- just white wives of Republican men -- but what difference, at this point, does it make? There are way too many white GOP wives to pretend they are an exception to the norm. If GOP men are so evil, why did so many women marry them? Are they evil themselves, Mrs. Clinton? Or are they just gullible, malleable, soulless or weak? Choosing any of those options would reveal egregious disrespect for millions upon millions of women, which shatters Clinton’s argument to smithereens.

The India Today interviewer asked Clinton why 52 percent of white women voted for Trump despite the Access Hollywood tape showing him using vulgar language about women. I guess that even though the host is balding and graying, he is too young to realize how awkward this question was for the spouse of our former commander in heat, Bill Clinton. Then again, Hillary didn’t flinch before launching into her next set of progressive talking points.

“I won the places that represent two-thirds of America’s gross domestic product,” she said. “So I won the places that are optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward. And his whole campaign, ‘Make America Great Again,’ was looking backwards.”

Doubling Down on Deplorables Comment

Not only is Clinton doubling down on her “deplorables” slander of Trump supporters. She is confirming the Obama-Clinton progressive view of America: Its best days are in the past. Settle in for economic malaise, because that’s the best you’re going to get. For if you want a government that isn’t hostile to business and entrepreneurship and that will reduce the tax and regulatory burden on America and unleash its engine of free market growth, you are “backwards.”

But the real kicker was Clinton’s summary of Trump’s supposed message to voters: “You know, you didn’t like black people getting rights. You didn’t like women, you know, getting jobs. You don’t want (to), you know, see that Indian-Americans (are) succeeding more than you are.”

You know, you know, you know? No, we don’t know. You ought to be ashamed, Mrs. Clinton, especially for lying when you apologized for calling us deplorables and said we are driven by “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic” beliefs. You meant it then, and you mean it now.

But again, my beef isn’t with Clinton. It’s with the Democratic Party proper, which has long been cynically peddling this very message in direct and subtle ways to alienate minority voters from the Republican Party, whose policies are manifestly more conducive to their economic well-being. For starters, go back and look at the racially charged statements Obama sprinkled throughout his terms in office.

Running Out of Ideas

Sadly, this messaging works; I have seen too much evidence of it in my adult life to rationally deny it. The Democratic Party is running out of effective ideas, so it increasingly resorts to race baiting, gender shaming and other forms of intentionally divisive identity politics.

The racism smear is an evil cousin of racism itself because it falsely and negatively stereotypes groups of people and demeans their human decency and dignity. It does incalculable damage to the groups it vilifies and is corrosive to our society because it subverts racial harmony. And it certainly does minorities no favors to deceive them into suspecting that half the people in the country are somehow prejudiced against them.

But I have a feeling this shtick is losing its mojo. Under President Trump, the Republican Party is finally learning to fight back and defend itself against such slurs and showcase the superiority of its policies for all people, including minorities.


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 


Congress Demands Pentagon, DOJ Investigate Child Sex Assault

Fri, 03/16/2018 - 12:25

Congress reacted Thursday to an Associated Press investigation into sexual assault among children on U.S. military bases by demanding the Defense and Justice departments explain how they will solve the problem.

The House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, meanwhile, said it had begun its own examination of the issue. And a top Democrat on the committee said she would call a hearing within six months.

Four senators, including the veteran head of the Senate Armed Services Committee and two others who’ve made sexual assault a keynote issue, sent letters to the Pentagon and Justice Department with questions about sex assault among the military’s children.

AP’s investigation revealed that reports of sexual violence among kids on U.S. military bases at home and abroad often die on the desks of prosecutors, even when an attacker confesses. Other cases are shelved by criminal investigators despite requirements they be pursued. Many cases get lost in a dead zone of justice, AP found, with neither victim nor offender receiving help.

“The report reveals an inscrutable system that fails these children at every level,” wrote Sen. Patty Murray, a Washington Democrat.

In a letter to U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis, Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee, asked that the Pentagon’s inspector general begin a “comprehensive assessment” of department policies related to sexual assault among military children in schools and elsewhere on base.

“It disturbs us to learn that the department’s policies and procedures may prevent efforts to help child victims of misconduct … and to rehabilitate and hold child offenders accountable,” they wrote.

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Separately, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, wrote the Justice Department’s inspector general requesting a “comprehensive investigation” into how many child sex assault cases have been prosecuted and why the majority have been declined.

Inspector general offices are independent entities within federal departments charged with investigating potential problems within agencies. They do not have to accept requests for action from Capitol Hill.

A Pentagon spokesman would not comment on the day’s developments. “Alleged conversations between Secretary Mattis and other officials are private and will remain as such,” Maj. Dave Eastburn said in an email.

The Pentagon and Justice Department’s inspectors general also did not comment, nor did a spokesman for the Justice Department.

Rep. Jackie Speier, a California Democrat, called AP’s finding of nearly 600 reports of sexual assault among children on bases since 2007 “a national disgrace and a military scandal.”

The top Democrat on a House Armed Services subcommittee that deals with military personnel said she was demanding information from the Pentagon in anticipation of holding a public hearing within six months.

“You cannot have an environment in which children aren’t protected, regardless of whether they’re on a base or in a public school classroom. So we’ve got to change the law,” Speier said in an interview.

A spokesman for Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee said staff had already begun “an independent examination of cooperation between” the departments of Defense and Justice and how they handle military child-on-child sexual assault. Issues they would examine include support for victims and the Pentagon’s data.

Records the military initially released omitted a third of the cases AP later identified through interviews with prosecutors, military investigators, family members and whistleblowers as well as data that officials later provided.

“This is clearly a serious matter,” spokesman Claude Chafin said of AP’s findings.

The tens of thousands of kids who live on U.S. bases are not covered by military law. The Justice Department, which handles civilian crimes on many bases, isn’t equipped or inclined to take on juvenile cases, AP found.

This legal and bureaucratic netherworld also extends to the Pentagon’s worldwide network of schools, which afford students fewer protections than public schools if they are sexually attacked by a classmate on campus. The federal law that offers help to victims of student-on-student sexual assault, known as Title IX, does not apply to federal education programs, such as those run by the military.

In a separate letter to Mattis on Thursday, Murray, the top Democrat on the Senate education committee, demanded answers by early April to a long list of questions about how the Department of Defense Education Activity handles assaults on its campuses.

The military school system that educates some 71,000 children has no specific policy to respond to student-on-student sexual violence and doesn’t accurately track the incidents, AP found. More than 150 cases weren’t disclosed by schools in reports that are meant to alert headquarters to serious incidents.

“As a mother and grandmother, I cannot tolerate the thought that our military children are not receiving the protection and support they deserve,” Murray wrote. “I trust you share my outrage.”

Responding to AP’s findings prior to publication, the Pentagon said it “takes seriously any incident impacting the well-being of our service members and their families” and promised “appropriate actions” to help juveniles involved in sex assaults.

The Office of the Secretary of Defense also told AP it considered child-on-child sexual assault to be “an emerging issue” -- a characterization that prompted an angry response from Murray.

“What is ’emerging’ about 600 sexual assault cases in 10 years?” Murray said in her letter to Mattis, who was traveling back from the Middle East on Thursday. “We owe our military families -- the children of the personnel who are fighting our wars -- safety and support.”


Pritchard reported from Los Angeles and Dunklin from Dallas.


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Flake Eyes 2020 Primary Challenge to Stop Trump

Fri, 03/16/2018 - 12:13

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) -- Jeff Flake has a direct message for the Republicans of New Hampshire: Someone needs to stop Donald Trump. And Flake, a Republican senator from Arizona, may stand up against the Republican president in 2020 -- either as a Republican or an independent -- if no one else does.

“It’s not in my plan to run for president, but I am not ruling it out. Somebody needs to stand up for traditional Republicanism,” Flake told The Associated Press in an interview. “Somebody needs to raise that, for nothing else than to give people hope that that decent party will be back. We’ll get through this.”

Flake’s comments came on the eve of his first solo political appearance in New Hampshire, the state expected to host the nation’s first presidential primary election in less than two years. The 55-year-old Republican will deliver a speech Friday morning entitled “Country Over Party,” as part of the esteemed “Politics and Eggs” speaker series at Saint Anselm College.

Flake is among a very small group of Republican elected officials speaking out against the Trump presidency with increasing alarm.

He has already written a book that slams Trump, condemned Trump on the Senate floor, and charged in a Thursday speech to the National Press Club that his party “might not deserve to lead” because of its blind loyalty to Trump. By visiting New Hampshire, Flake is now declaring the possibility of another tactic: a 2020 primary challenge.

On the ground in the Granite State, a full year before presidential candidates typically begin courting local voters, there is already an expectation among top Republicans that Trump will face a challenge from within his own party in the next presidential contest. Yet few think Trump could be defeated, even under the worst circumstances.

Steve Duprey, who represents New Hampshire at the Republican National Committee, said: “It’s virtually impossible to beat an incumbent for the nomination. But that doesn’t prevent people from trying with various degrees of seriousness.”

“I think there will be some primary,” he added. “Whether it’s a serious contender or a protest candidate that the president’s team would have to take seriously, it’s too early to tell.”

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Despite Flake’s fiery pronouncements, he would start out as an underwhelming presidential contender on paper.

He is not well-known, he has little money of his own and a disdain for fundraising, and because he is retiring from the Senate at year’s end, he has no political organization to help fuel his ambitions.

Flake has powerful friends who could help, however, including the outspoken anti-Trump billionaire Mark Cuban.

“I’m a Jeff Flake fan,” Cuban told The Associated Press.

The billionaire, who is considering a presidential bid of his own, acknowledged that he doesn’t know much about Flake’s political ambitions. “But as a citizen of this great country, the more candidates for the office of president the better,” Cuban said.

Former New Hampshire GOP chair Jennifer Horn, a frequent Trump critic, said the GOP’s struggles in recent special elections -- in addition to Trump’s near-daily struggles -- make a primary challenge in 2020 more realistic than ever before.

“There is a path, there is a possibility, but it’s such a narrow path that it’s hard to see who the right person would be,” she said, acknowledging she didn’t know Flake very well yet.

In the interview, Flake acknowledged Trump was probably too popular among the Republican base to lose a Republican primary in the current political climate.

“Not today, but two years from now, possibly. Things can unravel pretty fast,” Flake said, suggesting that a disastrous mid-term election season for the GOP could realign voter loyalty. “As soon as he’s viewed as one who loses majorities in the House and the Senate, and there’s no chance that someone in the 30s can win re-election, people might move on.”

And if Trump’s standing with the base doesn’t fade, Flake would consider a presidential bid as an independent.

“I’m not ruling that out either,” he said. “There are going to be a lot of other people in the party looking for something else.”

He continued, “If you end up with Trump on one side, (Bernie) Sanders or (Elizabeth) Warren on the other, there’s a huge swath of voters in the middle that make an independent run by somebody a lot more realistic.”

Trump has a special relationship with New Hampshire.

The state gave him his first victory of the 2016 Republican primary season. He earned 35 percent of the vote compared with second-place finisher John Kasich, the Ohio governor who is also weighing a 2020 run.

And on Monday, just three days after Flake’s visit, Trump is expected to make his first appearance in the state since winning the 2016 election.

Flake wants New Hampshire voters to know there’s another option.

“This has been my party my entire life. I’m not willing to concede that this is permanent,” he said.


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

Fallen Bridge: ‘Stress Test’ Preceded Collapse That Killed 6

Fri, 03/16/2018 - 11:56

MIAMI (AP) -- An innovative pedestrian bridge being built at Florida International University was put to a “stress test” before it collapsed over traffic, killing six people and sending 10 to a hospital, authorities said.

As state and federal investigators worked to determine how and why the five-day-old span failed on Thursday, one factor may have been the stress test that Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said crews were conducting on the span.

Two workers were on the 950-ton bridge when it pancaked on top of vehicles waiting at a stoplight.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted late Thursday that the cables that suspend the bridge had loosened and the engineering firm ordered that they be tightened. “They were being tightened when it collapsed,” he said on Twitter.

First responders had been racing to find survivors in the rubble of the 175-foot span using high-tech listening devices, trained sniffing dogs and search cameras before turning the scene over to police.

“This has turned from a rescue to a recovery operation,” Miami-Dade Police Det. Alvaro Zabaleta said.

The $14.2 million pedestrian bridge was supposed to open in 2019 as a safe way to cross the busy six-lane road between the university campus and the community of Sweetwater, where many students live.

At the accident scene, Florida Gov. Rick Scott said investigators will get to the bottom of “why this happened and what happened,” and if anyone did anything wrong, “we will hold them accountable.”

National Transportation Safety Board chairman Robert Sumwalt III said a team of specialists would begin its investigation Friday morning.

Rubio, who is an adjunct professor at the school, noted the pedestrian bridge was intended to be an innovative and “one-of-a-kind engineering design.”

Renderings showed a tall, off-center tower with supporting cables attached to the walkway. When the bridge collapsed, the main tower had not yet been installed, and it was unclear what builders were using as temporary supports.

An accelerated construction method was supposed to reduce risks to workers and pedestrians and minimize traffic disruption, the university said. The school has long been interested in this kind of bridge design; in 2010, it opened an Accelerated Bridge Construction Center to “provide the transportation industry with the tools needed to effectively and economically utilize the principles of ABC to enhance mobility and safety, and produce safe, environmentally friendly, long-lasting bridges.”

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The project was a collaboration between MCM Construction, a Miami-based contractor, and Figg Bridge Design, based in Tallahassee. Figg is responsible for the iconic Sunshine Skyway Bridge across Tampa Bay.

Figg’s statement Thursday said the company was “stunned” by the collapse and would cooperate with investigations.

“In our 40-year history, nothing like this has ever happened before,” the statement said. “Our entire team mourns the loss of life and injuries associated with this devastating tragedy, and our prayers go out to all involved.”

MCM Construction Management promised on its Facebook page to participate in “a full investigation to determine exactly what went wrong.”

Robert Bea, a professor of engineering and construction management at the University of California, Berkeley, said it was too early to know exactly what happened, but the decision to use what the bridge builders called an “innovative installation” over a heavily traveled thoroughfare was risky.

“Innovations take a design firm into an area where they don’t have applicable experience, and then we have another unexpected failure on our hands,” Bea said after reviewing the bridge’s design and photos of the collapse.

The FIU community, along with Sweetwater and county officials, held a “bridge watch party” on March 10 when the span was lifted from its temporary supports, rotated 90 degrees and lowered into what was supposed to be its permanent position.

FIU President Mark Rosenberg said the bridge was supposed to be about “goodness.”

“Now we’re feeling immense sadness, uncontrollable sadness,” he said. “And our hearts go out to all those affected, their friends and their families. We’re committed to assist in all efforts necessary, and our hope is that this sadness can galvanize the entire community to stay the course, a course of goodness, of hope, of opportunity.”


Associated Press writers Jason Dearen in Gainesville, Kelli Kennedy in Fort Lauderdale, David Fischer and Curt Anderson in Miami and Tamara Lush in St. Petersburg contributed to this report.

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

Where Does God Live?

Fri, 03/16/2018 - 09:00

Humanity has always searched for the secret of life, the holy grail, the source of wisdom -- the throne of God. We tell captivating stories about the search. We make blockbuster movies about it. The heart looks desperately for ultimate reality; where God lives.

We all need a god to trust. It is part of our being. We are trusting someone or something at all times. Some are looking to the mysteries of magic. Others take pilgrimages to the past. Still others are enamored with the fantasies of the future. The search is universal in its practice.

Well, there is some hope. The prophet Isaiah records the words of God:

For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: "I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite..." Isaiah 57:15 (ESV)

It seems that God has two addresses. He lives beyond time and space, and He lives with those who know they need Him.

The High and Holy Place

First, let's examine the high and holy place. It doesn't mean that God delights to distance Himself from us. It means that He is by nature in another category from us. He is not the projection of our own imaginations. He is not humanity in a better state. He is distinct. He is creator, rather than creature. He is the source of life, rather than the recipient. He gives without diminishing His resources. He loves without condition. He is beyond time, and He transcends space.

Humankind did not make Him in our image. We are made in His. He is beyond the capacity of man's imagination; deeper than the speculation of the wise man; better than the best of all things. He is so high that He must descend to our level of cognition. He is so omniscient He must reveal for us to know him. He is just in every decision and merciful in every act.

With the Low and Contrite

Yet, He so wants us to know and enjoy Him that He became a human like us so we could relate. We can't and don't need to ascend to the heavens to find Hhim. We are not required to deny our humanity to please Him. He has come to us--to do for us what we couldn't do for ourselves. He has done the work necessary for our reconciliation, and then He has quickened our spirit to know both our need and His provision.

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He can be found with the person who has a contrite heart. That is the one who has been awakened to the perversion of his own heart. He or she has paused in judgment of the wickedness of others to confront the potential of evil in their own heart. The evil of Adolph Hitler is the same evil that lies in the human heart. Unless it is overcome by the power of the cross, it will manifest in ways that bring embarrassment and destruction. The contrite know this.

They also know that God loves to revive the lowly. Only He can give hope to helpless slaves of sin. He can be trusted. He has never failed to keep His promise. He is good and can't do bad!

The search reaches its goal when we realize that God has found us.

Military Photo of the Day: Homecoming from Afghanistan

Fri, 03/16/2018 - 07:00

U.S. Army paratroopers return to Fort Bragg in North Carolina on March 9, 2018, after a deployment to Afghanistan.

The Stream has been following the wave of 82nd Airborne Division soldiers coming home from America’s longest war. We are so grateful for their safe return. Welcome home, heroes!




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