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Military Photo of the Day: Black Hawk Flies Over Afghanistan

Thu, 11/16/2017 - 08:00

U.S. Army soldiers with Task Force Marauder fly a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter mission in Afghanistan on November 10, 2017.

Please pray for the thousands of brave men and women still serving in Afghanistan, as well as their families here at home.

 

 

 

 

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6 Ways the Senate Improves the House Tax Reform Bill

Thu, 11/16/2017 - 02:42

The House version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is a long-awaited step toward updating America's tax code.

If you're a middle-class taxpayer, the bill has a lot to like. Tax rates are lowered, the standard deduction is doubled, the child tax credit is increased to $1,600, and a parent and non-child dependent credit is added.

If you're a working taxpayer, employed by a business, or the owner of your own business, there's even more to like.

The corporate tax rate is cut from 35 percent -- one of the highest rates in the world -- to 20 percent, immediately. Family-owned and small businesses that pay their taxes as individuals will pay a maximum rate of 25 percent on certain business income.

All businesses will also be able to immediately write off the costs of new equipment for five years. This provision, called "expensing," allows businesses to invest more in American workers, add new jobs and raise wages.

According to the Tax Foundation, the House plan could boost the economy by 3.6 percent over the long term, raise average incomes by $2,500 (after taxes), and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs.

The Senate builds on the House's momentum toward tax reform, and improves on the House bill in six important ways.

1. Lower tax rates at every level.

The House plan reduces the number of tax brackets from the current seven down to four, but does not lower the current top tax bracket of 39.6 percent.

The plan actually raises marginal rates on some taxpayers making over $200,000 and includes a new "bubble tax rate" of 45.6 percent that is intended to take back the benefit of the lowest tax bracket for high-income earners.

The Senate bill improves the House bill by lowering marginal income tax rates for a larger share of Americans -- most notably, reducing the current top 39.6 percent rate to 38.5 percent and doing away with the House's bubble rate.

The benefits of lowering marginal rates for more Americans -- increasing the incentive to work, save and invest -- outweigh the cost of the Senate not being able to consolidate any of the current seven tax brackets. Lower rates trump fewer tax brackets.

2. Full repeal of the state and local tax deduction.

Legislators from New York, New Jersey and California have held the House tax-reform effort hostage, forcing the plan to retain a $10,000 property tax write-off -- a subsidy for their wealthy constituents.

The Senate proposal improves on the House bill by fully repealing that property-tax deduction. Both bills repeal the state and local tax deductions for income and sales taxes.

3. Simpler treatment of business income.

The Senate bill simplifies the House's complicated treatment of businesses that file as individuals, or what are known as "pass-throughs." The House includes a 25 percent maximum tax rate on business investment, but then includes a set of complicated rules to avoid the lower rate becoming a loophole.

The Senate forgoes multiple different tax rates in favor of a larger business deduction worth 17.4 percent of the businesses' taxable income. The deduction lowers the effective top marginal tax rate for small and pass-through businesses to 31.8 percent.

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This rate is roughly comparable to the total effective tax rate on business income earned through traditional corporations and paid out as dividends. The Senate treatment avoids complicated pass-through rules while moving toward treating all businesses equally.

4. Better treatment of investments.

Both the House and Senate bills allow five years of full expensing for new equipment, which if extended permanently could have a dramatic impact on investment and economic growth.

The Senate bill also shortens the write-off time for residential and nonresidential buildings to 25 years. This reform, although far from the ideal of full expensing, would significantly lower the cost of investing in buildings and increases the growth potential of the Senate tax bill over the House version.

5. Lower tax rate on overseas profits.

The House-proposed tax on overseas profits is set at 14 percent on overseas cash holdings and 7 percent on physical investments.

In an ideal world, this money should not be subject to U.S. taxes since it was earned abroad and in most instances already subject to taxes by another country. But, as a transition measure toward the new territorial tax system, a low tax rate is acceptable.

The Senate bill lowers the tax down to 10 percent on overseas cash holdings and 5 percent on physical investments. An even lower tax rate would be better.

6. Repeal of the individual mandate.

The Senate bill would also repeal the Obamacare individual mandate as part of tax reform. This would provide tax relief to millions of Americans who can't afford the rising costs of Obamacare insurance and would otherwise be subject to the tax penalty.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that over 10 years, repealing the mandate would increase federal revenue by $338 billion by reducing outlays on subsidies for people who would not have otherwise purchased the insurance. This additional revenue would help lower tax rates for all Americans and would make it easier for the bill to meet the Senate's arcane budget rules.

Repealing the individual mandate is not only helpful for tax reform, it is also good health care policy. In a recent Daily Signal post, my colleagues explain that "the experience with Obamacare over the last four years shows that the individual mandate does not work" and is a burden on millions of middle-class Americans.

Far From Perfect

For all its improvements on the House plan, the Senate plan is far from perfect.

For one thing, it fails to repeal the estate or death tax. Not permanently repealing the death tax is economic malpractice, as it would forgo potential economic growth and likely make it harder to fully repeal the tax later on when those affected by it will be an even smaller minority of Americans.

The House bill would repeal the estate tax in 2024, while both bills would double the tax's basic exclusion from its current $5.49 million per person.

The House bill includes two important simplifications to education policy that are left out of the Senate reform. The House consolidates seven different education tax incentives into the existing American Opportunity Tax Credit and makes it available for an additional year.

The bill also improves and simplifies education saving accounts by consolidating the current two programs into a more flexible and broadly available version of the current 529 college savings plan.

The House bill also removes a remarkable number of special-interest subsidies, taking a crack at draining the swamp in Washington. The plan eliminates tax credits for oil production and for green energy, deductions for medical expenses and for student loans, the credit for rehabilitation of historic buildings, and a "new markets" tax credit, just to name a few.

The Senate maintains each of these in the tax code and even adds in a new family-leave subsidy.

The passage of the House bill this week will be a big step forward for tax reform. Once the Senate has passed its version of the bill, Congress should seize the opportunity to combine the best components of the House and Senate bills to make tax reform of maximum benefit to all Americans.

 

Copyright 2017 The Daily Signal

More on Moore, Yearbooks and Diving Off the Clinton Ship

Thu, 11/16/2017 - 02:15

Let me start off with a question: Is it too much to ask for a candidate who keeps his hands off our money AND our daughters? 

Moving on. 

Roy Moore Latest

When it was announced Wednesday afternoon that Roy Moore’s lawyer and campaign manager would be holding a presser, I thought, “The way this story is going he’s probably had a heart attack.” It’d be the greatest “dive” outside the World Cup or a Don King boxing match. But no, they came up with something better.

Remember the yearbook Moore’s latest accuser showed the world? The one signed “Roy Moore, D.A.”? Moore’s attorney Phillip L. Jauregui insisted Moore doesn’t think he ever signed anything with a “D.A.” He wasn’t even a district attorney at the time. However, says Jauregui, there was a time when the initials D.A. would appear next to Moore’s name: when he was a circuit judge in Etowah County and his assistant would add her initials near his signature on filings. 

Why’s that matter? Remember Moore’s accuser saying she hadn’t had contact with Moore since his alleged assault? Well, they did have contact. In fact, Roy Moore was the judge assigned to her divorce case. She would have been in that court and copies of filings in the case would bear that same Roy Moore D.A. signature that shows up in the yearbook. 

Moore’s team wants the yearbook handed over to a “neutral custodian” so “we can determine is it genuine or is it a fraud.” 

Yup. I have to say I didn’t see that twist coming.

Perhaps I should have. With Gloria Allred involved I should have.

I was still in California for the 2010 governor’s race between Democrat Jerry Brown and Republican businesswoman Meg Whitman. Meg was running strong. Jerry couldn’t even articulate why he wanted the job. Whitman was hustling throughout the state making inroads with the Hispanic community.

But then Gloria Allred entered the picture. She dragged before the cameras Whitman’s former maid Nicky Diaz. Diaz, with the tears flowing, and Allred’s hand on her shoulder in that now familiar staging, wept about how Whitman had cruelly fired her. (Whitman had discovered she was an illegal immigrant who had given her husband false papers.) All you heard for days on end was how horribly Whitman treated Diaz, what a hater of Hispanics she was. And Diaz? She was “the courageous Rosa Parks” of the Latino community.

Even by Hollywood standards, Allred chews the scenery. 

However, the story stopped Whitman’s momentum and may well have cost her the election. L.A. Times columnist Gregory Rodriguez admitted “It was really the business with the housekeeper that hurt her.”

Point One: Allred is experienced at the cruel slurring of political foes via showy press conferences. 

Point Two:  Allred exposed Diaz as an illegal immigrant. Diaz could have been deported. She could have easily been charged with identity fraud. Gloria Allred used a woman as a weapon in a Senate campaign and didn’t care if the woman got hurt in the process. The days to come will show if she did so again.

Meanwhile, Allred responded to the request for the yearbook. She says she’ll only turn over the yearbook if the Senate agrees to hold hearings on Moore. Is that an answer that brings light to the situation or brings about more bright lights for Allred and overwhelming pressure on her client? Let’s just say the accuser would have been better off picking a lawyers name out of a phone book. 

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From the judge who allegedly chased teens to the President who rode the Lolita Express

Liberals Turning on Bill Clinton?

In the past 48 hours, several liberal writers and publications have all mysteriously and suddenly decided that Bill Clinton is, after all, a sexual predator. Just hear the headlines: The Atlantic “Reckoning with Bill Clinton’s Sex Crimes”; Vox “Bill Clinton Should Have Resigned”; and miracle of miracles from the New York Times, “I Believe Juanita.” 

Juanita Broaddrick -- who said Clinton raped her when he was Arkansas Attorney General and was mocked and ignored for decades -- put it well:

New York Times opinion "I Believe Juanita". Hell has definitely frozen over. https://t.co/HdY4FFpHKi

— Juanita Broaddrick (@atensnut) November 14, 2017

Hell did freeze over. But why? Only because the Clintons are over. As the Stream‘s Liberty McArtor points out in her new article, if Hillary had won, these outlets wouldn’t be calling Bill a predator. In fact, writes Liberty:

Imagine if Hillary had won. The Weinsteins, Spaceys, Halperins and Louis C.K.s would not have quit their nasty habits. They'd still be celebrities at Democratic fund-raisers, posing for pictures with the new feminist president herself.

Further, not only did Hillary lose, but criminal investigations into the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton’s Uranium One paydays -- or pay-to-play days -- are in the wind.

Their usefulness has been expended. Their fearsome control is waning. Donna Brazile need not worry about snipers. (Just the sniping of Clinton holdouts.)

Still, there are some who haven’t gotten the message. All over Twitter today you will see tweets and articles from news organizations saying things like “Fox News Anchor Destroys Conspiracy Theory About Hillary Clinton and Uranium One.” They’re talking about a segment by Fox News anchor Shepherd Smith. Smith’s challenges the story, but his account left more holes than a drunk accupuncturist.  An earlier Stream story provides some idea why. 

Dear Feminists: Hillary Didn’t Save You

Wed, 11/15/2017 - 23:15

The Handmaids’ Tale. Worse than Saudi Arabia. Decades back in time. 

These are all things America became after Donald Trump was elected President, according to mainstream feminists.

By mainstream feminists, I mean the ladies who mourned Hillary Clinton’s loss like the death of their own mother. Like Katy Perry, who wrote this worshipful ode to Hillary the “Phoenix” and her fire-lighting powers. The women who dramatically changed their hair as one does after an ugly break up. Or gave up dating because Trump won.

We’d been told Hillary would ring in a new era of women’s empowerment. Under women-molesting Trump and his slithering, sexist, dines-only-with-his-wife sidekick Mike Pence, women would get beaten into the dark ages of rampant misogyny. 

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But they were wrong. 

A Feminist Moment in Trump’s America

Right now, we’re experiencing a major cultural moment. A feminist moment, if you will. That moment is #MeToo.

#MeToo’s arm is long and indiscriminate. It’s come for liberals like Mark Halperin and Republicans like Roy Moore. It’s even, in a surprising but long overdue twist, come for Bill Clinton

The former president accused of rape and impeached for lying about sexual impropriety has long scampered freely behind feminism’s petticoats. To conservatives, it was obvious and despicable. Just as it was obvious and despicable that Hillary campaigned on female empowerment while shoving his accusers aside. Most despicable was that her worshipers allowed it.

But not today. Today, American men and women are examining whether their own conduct -- including who they voted for (or defended in an op-ed) -- is up to par. 

Costs and Benefits of #MeToo

Of course, there are dangers with #MeToo. Some will undoubtedly latch onto the movement’s coattails for attention. Some will use it to smear good men. But many are not out to smear or get attention. They’ve been actively avoiding attention. But as the New York Times wrote last month, “Harvey Weinstein’s Fall Open[ed] the Floodgates in Hollywood.”

Were Madame President perched comfortably in the White House, mainstream feminists might not even be angry enough for #MeToo.

And not just Hollywood. Now, more and more women -- and plenty of men, too -- are gaining the courage to come forward with stories of how they were abused. Serial predators who roamed free for too long are facing justice. Hopefully future victims will be emboldened to speak up sooner. Hopefully their would-be assailants will think twice.

Things aren’t perfect. There are still swaths of people who refuse to believe anything bad about their hero. No matter how many women come forward. No matter how credible their claims. But in a big way, people are listening as women say, en masse, “Me, too.” 

If She’d Won

Trust me, I’m not lauding the greater motives of whatever-wave-this-is-feminism. Most of modern, mainstream feminism is a crock.

My point is that feminists didn’t need Hillary to instigate a major cultural conversation, even change. They’ll never concede this, though, because they put their hope in that one woman. Moreover, in one idea: that a female in the White House would be the pinnacle of female equality. That feminism would arrive as soon as soon as a woman took the helm.

Imagine if Hillary had won. The Weinsteins, Spaceys, Halperins and Louis C.K.s would not have quit their nasty habits. They’d still be celebrities at Democratic fund-raisers, posing for pictures with the new feminist president herself. Everything Hillary did “for women,” like push abortion and contraception, wouldn’t stop them from abusing women.

Were Madame President perched comfortably in the White House, mainstream feminists might not even be angry enough for #MeToo. They might be too busy toasting to her long and happy reign to deal with the real problems that persisted despite her ascendance. 

They sure as heck wouldn’t have the gall to admit their failure in the Bubba department.

Will feminists like Katy Perry argue that Hillary inspired them to make change? Sure. And in a way, that may be partly true. But when it comes down to who’s doing the changing, it isn’t Hillary and it isn’t the White House. It’s a few women who finally had the courage to come forward, and a few million others who joined them.

The Left’s Hypocrisy on States Regulating Freedom of Expression of Businesses

Wed, 11/15/2017 - 22:15

Should businesses have a right to express their views and practice them accordingly? The left says yes -- and no. They say, “It depends.” Liberals tend to say yes when the business takes a position they agree with. They say no if the business takes a viewpoint they disagree with.

In the first case, the left stands for free speech and the first amendment. In the second, the left happily uses state power to curtail the business’s freedom of expression.

There is a rise in targeting Christian businesses.

Liberals increasingly do the latter, as they increasingly target Christian businesses. We all know the cases of Christian bakers, florists and printers being sued and prosecuted for refusing to promote a message they don’t believe in. Secular bakers, florists and printers do the same thing, and not a single liberal says a word.

Businesses that Boycott Israel

Two articles on TheHumanist.com feature these conflicting positions. Interestingly, they both take liberal positions on the issues. One attacks laws against the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. These laws prohibit states from working with businesses that boycott Israel. The other supports laws making businesses provide contraception.

In “Cut the BS with BDS,” Spencer Grady-Pawl defends businesses’ freedom of expression. He declares that “any attempt at restricting the right of an individual to express their political opinion is antithetical to this country's emphasis on free speech.” Government shouldn’t restrict “the ability of one of the many sides of the debate to express their position.” He warns that “history won't look favorably upon those who acted to restrict the legitimate political expression of others.”

Jason Frye doesn’t care about businesses' freedom of expression. In “Hobby Lobby Isn't About Religion. It's About Health Care,” he argues that the government should make businesses include birth control in their health insurance plans. Letting them refuse “is not a matter of protecting religious exercise.” It’s “an assault on labor.” It also assaults “the right of healthcare.”

The left takes positions based on its current version of morality.

What’s the difference between the two? Some businesses think it’s wrong to support Israel. Some businesses think it’s wrong to provide contraception. Why should one be allowed to practice its beliefs and the other not allowed to practice its belief? How does that make sense?

In just one way: A lot of liberals (though not all) favor BDS. So YES! to free speech on that issue. Almost all favor contraception. So NO! to free speech on that issue.

The Left Picks and Chooses

The problem is worse than just selective reasoning. The left can’t find a coherent position because they don’t have a consistent position on state regulation. The left picks and chooses which areas the state may regulate based on its current theory of morality.

The government must make businesses provide contraception because the left finds it a positive good. Therefore women have a right to get it from their employer. They don’t care what the owners may believe. That area of life can be regulated.

The government can’t make businesses support Israel because the left doesn’t believe in it. Therefore liberals care what the owners may believe. That area of life can’t be regulated.

Look at the issues already mentioned, the work of bakers, florists and printers. The left believes completely in same-sex marriage, so that’s an area it demands the state regulate. It wants to state to legislate that morality. If you’re a businessman, you don’t have a First Amendment right to do something liberals don’t want you to do.

But if a secular baker or florist or printer turns down a request to make something for a Christian marriage, that’s treated as an exercise of free speech. It’s protected by the First Amendment. It’s absolute.

At least in these matters, the left doesn’t regulate based on any clear idea of what the government can and should do. It regulates based on its own theory of morality, and to heck with anyone else’s. It legislates for secularism. That means it legislates against Christianity. If there’s one thing the left is consistent on, it’s that.

 

Follow Rachel on Twitter at Rach_IC.

Dems Introduce Articles of Impeachment Against Trump

Wed, 11/15/2017 - 21:21

A group of six Democratic House members introduced articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump Wednesday, claiming the president has violated federal law, the public trust and should be charged with high crimes and misdemeanors.

Democratic Reps. Steve Cohen of Tennessee, Louis Gutierrez of Illinois, Al Green of Texas and Adriano Espaillat of New York introduced five articles of impeachment at a press conference at the Capitol Wednesday. The articles have two more co-sponsors: Reps. Marcia Fudge of Ohio and John Yarmuth of Kentucky.

The congressmen list a number of charges against the president, including: obstruction of justice, a violation of the Constitution's foreign emoluments clause, a violation of the Constitution's domestic emoluments clause, undermining the federal judiciary process and undermining the press.

The articles focus primarily on Trump's handing of the termination of former FBI Director James Comey, and potential conflicts of interest with Trump's businesses and properties while he's served as president.

WATCH:

Cohen said they are simply calling for the House to begin hearings on the articles.

"We believe that President Trump has violated the Constitution, and we've introduced five articles of impeachment," Cohen, the ranking member of the House Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice, said Wednesday.

The Tennessee congressman also said there are at least "a dozen other members who are close" to joining them in calling for Trump's impeachment.

Cohen said that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi understands why they are bringing forth the articles, even though she does not agree.

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Pelosi said in early November that she thought impeachment is "not someplace that I think we should go," and that Democrats should be focusing "first and foremost" on trying to "unify the nation."

Republicans are currently focused on pushing tax reform through Congress before the clock runs out on the 2017 legislative calendar.

"House Democrats lack a positive message and are completely unwilling to work across the aisle, so instead they've decided to support a baseless radical effort that the vast majority of Americans disagree with. Republicans are focused on issues the middle class actually cares about, like cutting taxes and growing the economy," Michael Ahrens, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, said in a statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation.

 

Follow Robert on Twitter. Send tips to robert@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

Copyright 2017 Daily Caller News Foundation

The Pope Gives Away $236K Lamborghini To Help Christians Victimized By ISIS

Wed, 11/15/2017 - 21:12

Pope Francis will auction off a pricey Lamborghini Huracan to help Christian communities in Iraq that have been decimated by the Islamic State.

Francis will forgo toting around in the high-end Italian sports car and instead give the Huracan away to rebuild the communities ISIS destroyed. The money will go to a charity helping women who were trafficked into and out of Iraq.

Francis blessed the car magazine Top Gear named "The Supercar of the Year 2014" during a Vatican City ceremony Wednesday after originally receiving it as gift from Lamborghini. The luxury car likely exceeds the $236,000 price tag.

The sale of the sports car would help work toward allowing displaced Christians "to finally return to their roots and recover their dignity," the Vatican said in a statement following the ceremony.

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ISIS attacked churches and razed Christian shops during the group's takeover of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

In its takeover of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, ISIS attacked churches and Christian shops. The terrorist group forced Iraq's 3,000 Christians to flee or be killed unless they converted to Islam or pay jizya, a fee that non-believers must pay to live in Islamic communities.

Francis raised some eyebrows in September when he called for a week of prayer to aid refugee families and spread Catholic social teachings.

The week of prayer was slated to begin on the anniversary of the 1571 Battle of Lepanto when a Christian fleet formed by countries of the Holy League and various Papal states defeated the Ottomans and turned the tide against the Muslim conquest of Europe.

Conservative Catholics considered the move ironic, given that the majority of refugees fleeing to Europe are Muslim.

 

Follow Chris White on Facebook and Twitter. 

Copyright 2017 The Daily Caller News Foundation

Rise in Teen Suicide, Social Media Coincide; is There Link?

Wed, 11/15/2017 - 21:07

CHICAGO (AP) -- An increase in suicide rates among U.S. teens occurred at the same time social media use surged and a new analysis suggests there may be a link.

Suicide rates for teens rose between 2010 and 2015 after they had declined for nearly two decades, according to data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Why the rates went up isn’t known.

The study doesn’t answer the question, but it suggests that one factor could be rising social media use. Recent teen suicides have been blamed on cyberbullying, and social media posts depicting “perfect” lives may be taking a toll on teens’ mental health, researchers say.

“After hours of scrolling through Instagram feeds, I just feel worse about myself because I feel left out,” said Caitlin Hearty, a 17-year-old Littleton, Colorado, high school senior who helped organize an offline campaign last month after several local teen suicides.

“No one posts the bad things they’re going through,” said Chloe Schilling, also 17, who helped with the campaign, in which hundreds of teens agreed not to use the internet or social media for one month.

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The study’s authors looked at CDC suicide reports from 2009-15 and results of two surveys given to U.S. high school students to measure attitudes, behaviors and interests. About half a million teens ages 13 to 18 were involved. They were asked about use of electronic devices, social media, print media, television and time spent with friends. Questions about mood included frequency of feeling hopeless and considering or attempting suicide.

The researchers didn’t examine circumstances surrounding individual suicides. Dr. Christine Moutier, chief medical officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, said the study provides weak evidence for a popular theory and that many factors influence teen suicide.

The study was published Tuesday in the journal Clinical Psychological Science.

Data highlighted in the study include:

--Teens’ use of electronic devices including smartphones for at least five hours daily more than doubled, from 8 percent in 2009 to 19 percent in 2015. These teens were 70 percent more likely to have suicidal thoughts or actions than those who reported one hour of daily use.

--In 2015, 36 percent of all teens reported feeling desperately sad or hopeless, or thinking about, planning or attempting suicide, up from 32 percent in 2009. For girls, the rates were higher -- 45 percent in 2015 versus 40 percent in 2009.

--In 2009, 58% of 12th grade girls used social media every day or nearly every day; by 2015, 87% used social media every day or nearly every day. They were 14% more likely to be depressed than those who used social media less frequently.

“We need to stop thinking of smartphones as harmless,” said study author Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University who studies generational trends. “There’s a tendency to say, ‘Oh, teens are just communicating with their friends.’ Monitoring kids’ use of smartphones and social media is important, and so is setting reasonable limits, she said.

Dr. Victor Strasburger, a teen medicine specialist at the University of New Mexico, said the study only implies a connection between teen suicides, depression and social media. It shows the need for more research on new technology, Strasburger said.

He noted that skeptics who think social media is being unfairly criticized compare it with so-called vices of past generations: “When dime-store books came out, when comic books came out, when television came out, when rock and roll first started, people were saying ‘This is the end of the world.'”

With its immediacy, anonymity, and potential for bullying, social media has a unique potential for causing real harm, he said.

“Parents don’t really get that,” Strasburger said.

___

AP reporter P. Solomon Banda contributed to this story from Littleton, Colorado.

___

Follow AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner on Twitter at @LindseyTanner .

 

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

School Worker was Told She Could be Fired if She Offered to Pray for Someone Again

Wed, 11/15/2017 - 18:47

It was a small sentence -- "I will pray for you" -- but it meant big trouble for Cony High School technician Toni Richardson. When Richardson offered that comfort to another Christian on staff in private, she was hauled before school officials and warned not to utter a word about her faith again.

District officials kicked off the controversy last year by telling Richardson that she could "face discipline or dismissal in the future" if she expressed her faith so openly again. "I was shocked that my employer punished me for privately telling a co-worker I would pray for them," she told reporters at the time.

First Liberty Institute's Jeremy Dys, who filed a complaint on Richardson's behalf, explained that it had been a hard 12 months for Richardson since then. "This entire year Toni has had to self-censor herself, making sure she's not using religious language. ... She's even had to refrain from wearing jewelry that has a cross on it, because if someone were to overhear this private conversation or see that religious imagery round her neck, then she could face discipline or even be terminated."

Fortunately, after a yearlong clash over religious freedom, school officials have apparently had second thoughts about their attacks. Late last week, our friends at First Liberty proclaimed victory, announcing that the district had officially walked back its threat to Richardson and issued a new memorandum giving her and others the right to make faith-based statements -- without fear of school discipline.

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Augusta administrators said they recognized "the rights of employees to hold and express religious beliefs and it never was our intent to unlawfully restrict those rights."

It's a sad commentary on America, Family Research Council's Travis Weber pointed out, that trying to encourage someone by telling them you're "praying for them" would even draw a complaint. But it's also an encouraging example for Christians about what we can accomplish when we stand up with courage and conviction.

Richardson didn't back down when the forces of political correctness came knocking. She knew her rights and demanded they be respected. We applaud First Liberty Institute and Richardson for their persistence. Let this be a warning to other school districts that try to intimidate teachers and other staff members of faith. Christians will fight back, and despite the claims of the left to the contrary, the Constitution is on their side.

To hear the story from Richardson, check out this interview we did on Washington Watch.

 

This was originally published in Tony Perkins' Washington Update, which is written with the aid of Family Research Council senior writers.

Copyright 2017 The Daily Signal

How Elite Liberals Have Sold Out the Black Community

Wed, 11/15/2017 - 15:55

When hunting was the major source of food, hunters often used stalking horses as a means of sneaking up on their prey. They would synchronize their steps on the side of the horse away from their prey until they were close enough for a good shot.

Stalking Horses

A stalking horse had a double benefit if the prey was an armed person. If the stalkers were discovered, it would be the horse that took the first shot.

That's what blacks are to liberals and progressives in their efforts to transform America -- stalking horses. Let's look at it.

I'll just list a few pieces of the leftist agenda that would be unachievable without black political support.

Black people are the major victims of the grossly rotten education in our big-city schools. The average black 12th-grader can read, write, and compute no better than a white seventh- or eighth-grader.

Many black parents want better and safer schools for their children. According to a 2015 survey of black parents, 72 percent "favor public charter schools, and 70 percent favor a system that would create vouchers parents could use to cover tuition for those who want to enroll their children in a private or parochial school."

Black politicians and civil rights organizations fight tooth and nail against charter schools and education vouchers.

Why? The National Education Association sees charters and vouchers as a threat to its education monopoly. It is able to use black politicians and civil rights organizations as stalking horses in its fight to protect its education monopoly.

The Davis-Bacon Act

The Davis-Bacon Act of 1931 was the nation's first federally mandated minimum wage law. Its explicit intent was to discriminate against black construction workers.

During the legislative debate on the Davis-Bacon Act, quite a few congressmen, along with union leaders, expressed their racist intentions. Rep. Miles Allgood, D-Ala., said:

Reference has been made to a contractor from Alabama who went to New York with bootleg labor. This is a fact. That contractor has cheap colored labor that he transports, and he puts them in cabins, and it is labor of that sort that is in competition with white labor throughout the country.

American Federation of Labor President William Green said, "Colored labor is being sought to demoralize wage rates."

The Davis-Bacon Act is still law today. Supporters do not use the 1931 racist language to support it. Plus, nearly every black member of Congress supports the Davis-Bacon Act. But that does not change its racially discriminatory effects.

In recent decades, the Davis-Bacon Act has been challenged, and it has prevailed. That would not be the case without unions' political and financial support to black members of Congress to secure their votes.

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Crime is a major problem in many black neighborhoods. In 2016, there were close to 8,000 blacks murdered, mostly by other blacks. In that year, 233 blacks were killed by police.

Which deaths receive the most attention from politicians, civil rights groups, and white liberals, and bring out marches, demonstrations, and political pontification? It's the blacks killed by police.

There's little protest against the horrible and dangerous conditions under which many poor and law-abiding black people must live. Political hustlers blame their condition on poverty and racism -- ignoring the fact that poverty and racism were much greater yesteryear, when there was not nearly the same amount of chaos.

Also ignored is the fact that the dangerous living conditions worsened under a black president's administration.

There are several recommendations that I might make. The first and most important is that black Americans stop being useful tools for the leftist hate-America agenda.

As for black politicians and civil rights leaders, if they're going to sell their people down the river, they should demand a higher price. For example, if black congressmen vote in support of the Davis-Bacon Act, they ought to demand that construction unions give 30 percent of the jobs to black workers.

Finally, many black problems are exacerbated by white liberal guilt. White liberals ought to stop feeling guilty so they can be more respectful in their relationships with black Americans.

 

Copyright 2017 The Daily Signal

US Bishops Choose Bold Pro-Life Approach

Wed, 11/15/2017 - 15:09

U.S. Catholic Bishops elected Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City as the chair of their pro-life committee. It was a close vote -- 96 to 82 -- during their annual Fall assembly. The vote was described as a referendum on what it means to be pro-life.

Naumann of Kansas City is an outspoken opponent of abortion. He instructed parishes under his charge to sever all ties with Girl Scouts because of their association with abortion giant Planned Parenthood. He warned Catholic Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius that she would be denied communion over her support for abortion in 2007.

Bold Move, Broken Tradition

In electing him over Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, the bishops broke a tradition going back to the 1970s. That tradition? To always elect a Cardinal to lead the pro-life committee. Cupich is a self-described champion of the "seamless garment." This approach to Catholic social teaching does not give any distinct moral or political weight to abortion. He emphasizes a wide range of social policies as equally deserving of political attention from Catholics. Its proponents typically do not confront Catholic politicians that support abortion rights.

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Some commentators described the vote as a rejection of Pope Francis. Cupich is one of his most visible appointments to the American Church. Veteran Catholic journalist Michael Sean Winters called it a "middle finger to Pope Francis."

J.D. Flynn, Editor-in-chief of Catholic News Agency and EWTN News, denied this. He was present at the meeting of bishops. He believes the choice was pragmatic and not ideological.

"CNA has talked with bishops who emphasize this is not a referendum on Francis. Bishops voting for both candidates told me it was only about trying to discern the best fit," he tweeted.

Vote marks the first time since 1980 that a cardinal was not elected to chair pro-life committee. CNA has talked with bishops who emphasize this is not a referendum on Francis. Bishops voting for both candidates told me it was only about trying to discern the best fit.#USCCB17

— JD Flynn (@jdflynn) November 14, 2017

Seamless Garment a Failed Strategy

Cupich's own recent debacle with Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner may have played a role. Rauner promised to not to expand taxpayer coverage of abortion last year. He worked closely with Cupich on other issues, including education reform. But Rauner recently went back on his pro-life promise, with little consequence.

There is a growing perception that the seamless garment is an ineffective pro-life political strategy. Critics point out how the seamless garment has failed as such. It has allowed Democrats to extreme positions on abortion without losing Catholic votes. In fact, Democrats openly admit that abortion is a litmus test for judges and politicians alike.

 

Stefano Gennarini (@prolifeadvocate) is the Director of Legal Studies at the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-Fam) in New York. The views expressed in this article are the author's and are not necessarily the views of C-Fam.

Can We Legislate Our Way to Perfection?

Wed, 11/15/2017 - 14:27

After atheist Devin Kelley attempted through mass murder to bring about his own personal Utopia at a small church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, many people advocated and sought solace in prayer. The call for this natural act triggered a good many celebrities.

Take Stephen King, a man who makes a living thinking of clever literary ways to kill and dismember. He tweeted, “Enough with praying. Time to start legislating.”

King is an entertainer and so we cannot expect him to remember that murder was already judged illegal by at least a majority of the States. But it’s his thought that legislation can be the cure for man’s fallen nature that is of real interest.

Vote Yes or No.

Can the government enact laws to bring about human perfection? Or at least heave us as close to that goal as possible?

That question was answered by the writers at The Babylon Bee, Christianity’s Onion. In response to the Texas murders, they published the article “In Move To Prevent Future Tragedies, Congress Bans Humanity’s Depraved Nature.

In a move to prevent any future tragedies of any kind, Congress passed sweeping legislation Monday that bans mankind’s totally depraved nature from the country …

“This has gone on long enough,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a press conference. “We keep saying there’s nothing we can do to prevent this, but now we see there is: just ban human nature and all these problems go away.”

“It’s the obvious solution,” he added.

Congressional projections indicate the new measure will result in a huge boost in peace, love, and harmony in every demographic across the U.S., and should cut violent death statistics down to “approximately zero” almost immediately.

All Those Who Say Aye

Some imagine a just such a future. Take Lieutenant Sulu (George Takei). He tweeted on behalf of Star Fleet:

Under the auspices of the United Federation of Planets, we not only have universal health care, we have free, universal education, housing, and food, as well as strict control of dangerous phasers. Political parties voluntarily disbanded long ago after all humans became educated.

Sulu forgot to mention the United Federation of Planets’ endless wars and bloody conflicts with aliens. All of them are fought with photon torpedoes and phasers set to Kill! Ah well.

It’s strange that these wars should have slipped his mind, though. Consider he wrote that tweet before he revealed the Russians were behind a plot to discredit him with accusations of sexual harassment? So at this point he was still thinking clearly.

Phaser-control laws

Never mind all that. Can we, in this great democracy of ours, do what our celebrity leaders imagine? If so, the sought-for legislation will have to come about by vote. Congress will have to propose enlightened laws and then vote on them. If these congresspersons have their minds aligned with Progress, then they will vote the right way. And soon everyone will be free and there will be strict control of dangerous phasers.

Now that I think of it, does anybody know why it is that a gun -- or phaser -- is considered safe or moral in the hands of a government employee but unsafe or immoral in the hands of the civilian? And does that judgment only apply to our government, or to all governments?

Maybe this sentiment is why so many Millennials long for a return of communism. Stalin wannabes take note.

The Insanity Defense

Anyway, an obvious wrinkle in this scheme of perfection-by-vote did not occur to King or Takei. It’s that democracies have been known to go insane. Don’t forget, for instance, that in the USA the government voted a law into its very Constitution banning alcohol.

Presumably after developing a thirst, they changed their mind and voted to again allow alcohol.

At one time, our government created laws recognizing that holy matrimony was between a man and woman. And then, one day, it was discovered these previous laws were all wrong and that “marriage” could be between two men.

Make up your minds.

This schizophrenia has been noticed. Sheikh Assim Alakeem, a popular “on-line” imam who dispenses advice about Islam tweeted:

6-The laws in USA and UK are man made and have no value to Muslims! 50 years ago, it was a crime to be homosexual! Now, it is a crime to simply voice your opinion about it. What was moral back then is not necessarily moral today!

Alakeem is right. It’s hard to know where you stand when what was right yesterday is wrong today and might be right again tomorrow. The only way King and Takei’s scheme is going to work in a system like this is to convince everybody that the Supreme Authority is government.

Police Find California Gunman’s Wife Dead in Their Home

Wed, 11/15/2017 - 13:38

RANCHO TEHAMA RESERVE, Calif. (AP) -- The wife of a gunman who went on a shooting rampage in a Northern California town was found dead inside their home, authorities announced Wednesday, raising the death toll from the attack to five.

Investigators discovered the body of Kevin Janson Neal’s wife hidden under the floor. They believe her slaying was the start of the rampage, said Tehama County Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston.

Neal shot and killed four other people and wounded 10 at different locations around the rural community of Rancho Tehama Reserve. Police later shot and killed him.

At the time of the attack, the gunman was out on bail after he was charged with stabbing a neighbor. Others had complained about him firing hundreds of rounds from his house, and the assistant sheriff acknowledged officers had visited the home.

“We can’t anticipate what people are going to do. We don’t have a crystal ball,” Johnston said.

Yet Neal was free and able to use a semi-automatic rifle and two handguns Tuesday to shoot 14 people, including at an elementary school, before he died in a shootout with police.

It’s not yet clear what the terms of Neal’s bail were, and whether he would have been allowed to possess and fire the weapons on his property at the end of a dirt road in Rancho Tehama Reserve.

But his many contacts with authorities raised questions of why he was out of custody and able to go on the 45-minute rampage. Two of his neighbors were killed in an apparent act of revenge before he went looking for random victims.

Cristal Caravez and her father live across a ravine from the roadway where the gunman and his first victims lived.

She said they and others heard constant gunfire from the area of the gunman’s house, but couldn’t say for sure it was him firing.

“You could hear the yelling. He’d go off the hinges,” she said. The shooting “would be during the day, during the night, I mean, it didn’t matter.”

She and her father, who is president of the community’s homeowners’ association, said neighbors would complain to the sheriff’s department, which referred the complaints back to the homeowners’ association.

“The sheriff wouldn’t do anything about it,” Juan Caravez said.

The gunman’s sister, Sheridan Orr, said her brother had struggled with mental illness throughout his life and at times had a violent temper.

She said Neal had “no business” owning firearms.

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The shooter was facing charges of assaulting one of the feuding neighbors in January and that she had a restraining order against him, Johnston said. He did not comment on the shooter’s access to firearms.

Johnston declined to identify the shooter until his relatives were notified, but he confirmed the gunman was charged with assault in January and had a restraining order placed against him. The district attorney, Gregg Cohen, told the Sacramento Bee he is prosecuting a man named Kevin Neal in that case.

Neal’s mother told The Associated Press her son, who was a marijuana grower, was in a long-running dispute with neighbors he believed were cooking methamphetamine.

The mother, who spoke on condition she be named only as Anne because she fears for her safety, lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she raised Neal. She said she posted his $160,000 bail and spent $10,000 on a lawyer after he was arrested in January for stabbing a neighbor. Neal’s mother said the neighbor was slightly cut after Neal grabbed a steak knife out of the hand of the neighbor who was threatening him with it.

She wept as she told The AP she spoke to Neal on the phone on Monday.

“Mom it’s all over now,” she said he told her. “I have done everything I could do and I am fighting against everyone who lives in this area.”

She said Neal apologized to her during their brief conversation, she thought for all the money she had spent on him, saying he was “on a cliff” and the people around him were trying to “execute” him.

“I think the motive of getting even with his neighbors and when it went that far -- he just went on a rampage,” Johnston said.

Police said surveillance video shows the shooter unsuccessfully trying to enter a nearby elementary school after quick-thinking staff members locked the outside doors and barricaded themselves inside when they heard gunshots.

Johnston said the gunman spent about six minutes shooting into Rancho Tehama Elementary School before driving off to continue shooting elsewhere. Johnston said one student was shot but is expected to survive.

He said the 45-minute rampage ended when a patrol car rammed the stolen vehicle the shooter was driving and killed him in a shootout.

Johnston said officials received multiple 911 calls about gunfire at an intersection of two dirt roads. Minutes later, more calls reporting shots flooded in from different locations, including the school.

Witnesses reported hearing gunshots and children screaming at the school, which has one class of students from kindergarten through fifth grade.

Rancho Tehama Reserve is in a sparsely populated area of rolling woodlands dotted with grazing cattle about 130 miles north of Sacramento.

___

Elias reported from San Francisco. Associated Press writers Jocelyn Gecker, Janie Har and Olga Rodriguez in San Francisco, Michael Balsamo in Los Angeles and researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York also contributed to this story.

 

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

AG Sessions: Planned Parenthood Could be Charged With Crimes for Selling Fetal Body Parts

Wed, 11/15/2017 - 13:36

Attorney General Jeff Sessions confirmed that Planned Parenthood executives and all parties who illegally sold unborn baby body parts might be indicted if Congress and the FBI find enough damning evidence.

"Verifying the findings of Congress could provide a basis for charges," Sessions said at the House Judiciary Committee's (JUD) Tuesday hearing. GOP Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona asked Sessions if charges against the abortion giant might be possible given the fact that the House and Senate have conducted investigations into the illegal sale of fetal body parts by some Planned Parenthood executives, and Sessions affirmed that criminal charges are indeed possible.

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The FBI requested related documents from the Senate Judiciary Committee, according to a Monday Hill report. 

"Generally speaking, are findings made by any Senate investigation, any subsequent referral, sufficient evidence for the Justice Department to bring charges upon any party guilty of violating federal law?" Franks asked Sessions.

"It depends on the substance of those congressional findings, but they certainly can provide a basis for starting an investigation," Sessions said. "I think that that's an appropriate way for us to relate to one another," he added.

WATCH: 

 

The FBI investigation comes after the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) published a series of videos starting in 2015 that allegedly revealed Planned Parenthood was harvesting and distributing aborted baby parts to researchers.

CMP alleges Planned Parenthood was illegally profiting from the exchange of limbs and organs. Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley referred Planned Parenthood to the FBI last December, saying his committee found evidence indicating the group was profiting. 

Planned Parenthood claims no wrongdoing. Following the revelations, however, Planned Parenthood announced it would no longer accept any money for the exchange of aborted baby parts. 

While no company or persons can legally profit from the exchange of fetal tissue, organizations can accept broadly defined "reasonable payments."

 

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Copyright 2017 The Daily Caller News Foundation

Senate to Add Obamacare Repeal to Tax Bill, and Some House Members Support, Too

Wed, 11/15/2017 - 13:33

As Congress works to pass tax reform by the end of the year, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced that a repeal of Obamacare's individual health care mandate would be added to the Senate version of the tax bill.

"We're optimistic that inserting the individual mandate repeal would be helpful," McConnell said Tuesday, speaking about getting the bill passed. 

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, called repealing the individual mandate a "fantastic" way to help working families. "By itself, repealing the individual mandate is good policy and good politics. It is one of the most unpopular parts of Obamacare," Lee said in a statement provided to The Daily Signal.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., announced his opposition to the repeal, saying it would "cause millions to lose their health care, and millions more to pay higher premiums, all to pay for more tax breaks for multinationals," according to The Washington Post.

Conservative Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Tom Cotton, R-Ark., announced their support for repealing the mandate.

Today I am announcing my intention to amend the Senate tax bill to repeal the individual mandate and provide bigger tax cuts for middle income taxpayers.

The mandate repeal is a promise we all made and we should keep. It also allows an additional $300 billion+ in tax cuts.

— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) November 14, 2017

Neither the House or the Senate version of Republicans' tax reform plan had originally included repeal of the Obamacare individual mandate, and the current House version still does not.

"I urge the House to include the mandate repeal in their tax legislation," said Cotton in a statement, where he also said that "repealing the mandate pays for more tax cuts for working families and protects them from being fined by the IRS for not being able to afford insurance that Obamacare made unaffordable in the first place."

Republican Study Committee Chairman Rep. Mark Walker told The Daily Signal in an interview Monday that he thought House members would be favorable to adding repeal to the tax bill. "In the House, do I think it could pass? Yes," Walker said. "From what I am hearing that we will move, a majority of our conference as well as senators, would be OK moving forward" with repeal.  

In a statement Tuesday, Walker said, "Adding the repeal of the individual mandate to tax reform could be the most consequential step this Congress takes to date in fulfilling our promises to the American people to both reform the tax code and repeal Obamacare,"

"We agree with President Donald Trump that it should be included," he added.

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Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., told The Daily Signal in an interview Monday that the House should vote to repeal the individual mandate as part of the tax reform plan.

"It does appear that there are Democrats in the House or the Senate who ... are on board with the tax reform so [for] Republicans in the House [who] already voted once to repeal the individual mandate, there's no reason why we couldn't get 217 votes to do that again," Banks said.

The top tax writer in the House, Texas Republican Rep. Kevin Brady, mentioned the possibility of the mandate repeal being part of tax reform Nov. 2. "The president feels very strongly about including this at some step before the final process and he's told me that twice by phone and once in person," said Brady, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

On Wednesday, the Congressional Budget Office significantly revised its estimate on how much repealing the individual mandate in Obamacare would reduce deficits in the federal budget to $338 billion between 2018 and 2027, down from the $416 billion between 2018 and 2026.

Trump has made passing tax reform a goal of his first year in office and tweeted on Monday his support for repealing the individual mandate of Obamacare as part of tax reform.

I am proud of the Rep. House & Senate for working so hard on cutting taxes {& reform.} We're getting close! Now, how about ending the unfair & highly unpopular Indiv Mandate in OCare & reducing taxes even further? Cut top rate to 35% w/all of the rest going to middle income cuts?

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 13, 2017

"The president's tweet ... was a clear signal from the White House that he's fully in support of repealing the individual mandate in tax reform," Banks said, adding:

But even leading up to his tweet, there has been a lot of momentum and discussion via House and Senate members that that's the right thing to do and it offers a great deal more in savings to give us room to do more within tax reform, so it's a commonsense way forward with a lot of broad support among center-right members in the House and the Senate.

Trump also said Nov. 2 that the passage of tax reform would be "a big beautiful Christmas present," for American taxpayers.

The House Republican tax plan, released Nov. 2 by Brady, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and other GOP members condenses the current seven tax brackets to three, nearly doubles the standard deduction, and caps the amount taxpayers can write off in state taxes at $10,000.

The Senate Republican tax plan, released Nov. 8eliminates the state and local tax deduction and keeps the current seven brackets but lower rates.

Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., said repealing the individual mandate within the tax plan would mean great relief for business people.

"I think it's doable and I think it's something we should do," Yoho said in an interview with The Daily Signal, adding:

By getting rid of the individual mandate, you are going to see more people get on employer health care plans and you should see a drop of the overall cost of insurance.

Repealing the individual mandate could also advance Obamacare repeal if Congress decides to pursue it in 2018, Ed Haislmaier, a senior research fellow in The Heritage Foundation's Center for Health Policy Studies, suggested in a statement to The Daily Signal.

"If the mandate is repealed as part of tax reform, then any related coverage effects will no longer be a factor the next time Congress takes up broader repeal and replace legislation," Haislmaier said.

According to Investors Business Daily, about 8 million people faced penalties in 2016 for not complying with the Obamacare individual mandate.

According to The Intercept, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who announced she would not support a bill that partially repeals Obamacare in September, said at the time, "I have been strongly leaning no, but I wanted to have the estimate of the coverage problem confirmed by CBO before reaching a final decision."

The Los Angeles Times also reported in September that "Collins' announcement [on her Obamacare decision] followed the release of a preliminary CBO analysis of a bill sponsored by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Bill Cassidy, R-La. The office predicted 'the number of people with comprehensive health insurance that covers high-cost medical events would be reduced by millions.'"

Marie Fishpaw, director of domestic policy studies at The Heritage Foundation's Institute for Family, Community, and Opportunity, said repealing the individual mandate as part of the tax reform package is overdue.

"This would provide relief to millions of Americans forced to either buy health insurance in a market broken by Obamacare's mandates or pay tax penalties," Fishpaw said. "While Congress still must provide broader relief from Obamacare's costly insurance regulations, repealing the individual mandate in the tax bill would be a strong first step in the right direction."

 

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

Copyright 2017 The Daily Signal

‘God Has Heard Our Cry — We are Not Alone’

Wed, 11/15/2017 - 10:00

The dark secrets of sexual abuse have plagued Hollywood for years, laying buried within the entertainment industry, and only seem to have been whispered amongst peers. But as the dawn comes after midnight, so must these secrets come to light.

The perpetrators of these immoral acts are a growing list, and by no means limited to Hollywood, but include other figures in various aspects of society. For years they lived as kings having their victims powerless because they were too afraid to expose them. Some may even have forgotten their acts thinking that their crime will go unpunished. God, however, has not forgotten -- and He has heard the victims cry.

A Wave of Emboldened Victims

We saw in recent weeks the name of Harvey Weinstein splashed across every news media and his once-close friends distancing themselves from him, because of his involvement in sexual abuse of many women. Now other names are taking center stage. Kevin Spacey, who recently announced his sexual preference for the gay lifestyle, has had many male accusers come forward about unwelcomed sexual advances and abuse. USA Today reports that there have been 15 accusers thus far. Then there is the Mexican-American comedian, Louis C.K., who has now been accused of sexual misconduct. New York Times has since reported the comedian confirming these accusations.

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Many of the victims have found their voice and have felt emboldened to come forward after the Harvey Weinstein exposure. Recently Aly Raisman, the USA Olympic gold medalist in gymnastics, shared her frightening experience of sexual abuse on CBS's 60 Minutes. Other victims such as Anthony Edwards and Corey Feldman to name a few, have also publicly shared their heart-rending stories of childhood sexual abuse from mentors who they trusted.

These exposures are long overdue, and I want to turn my heart and focus on those of us who have been sexually abused and continue to suffer in silence out of fear or shame. Those who have been sexually abused, both male and female, whether it was as a child or adult, may carry this ugly and painful secret of their abuse for decades without a word to anyone.

You Deserve to Live an Abuse-Free Life

Many never reveal what happened to them at all, and few file charges. I (Janet), a survivor of childhood molestation by a family member, understand the challenges of carrying those dark secrets. The fear that gripped me as I held on to my secret, ushered me into a homosexual life for 14 years. Through my obedience to the Lord, I have found freedom for over 19 years and still counting. What was my demise has become my voice.

You deserve to live an abuse-free life. Stand with me and know you are no longer a victim -- but you can be a survivor.

Were you abused? Did you speak your truth and no one believed you? Did you speak your truth and experience the pain of someone doubting you? Beloved, you are not alone. I, Janet Boynes, believe you. I stand with and I am for you. Your step forward in speaking that dark secret and exposing what has caused you so much pain takes a tremendous amount of courage and bravery. I am proud of you! We can all be victorious together as survivors. We are strong for having survived. We are even stronger for standing up and speaking out against those that have hurt us. We stand together triumphantly and move forward, bravely living abuse-free lives.

On the other hand, are you the one that would rather just bury that dark and ugly secret and never bring it up again? You may try to find ways of just forgetting about it and moving on with your life. However, something seems to always trigger that hidden memory. If you have been abused or are currently a victim of abuse and have not yet spoken out, I urge you to diligently search for a safe person and speak your truth. You are stronger than you believe, and the courage to stand up is within you. You deserve to live an abuse-free life. Stand with me and know you are no longer a victim -- but you can be a survivor. However it's important that you take the first step and forgive those (or the person) that have hurt you. Forgiveness is the first step to freedom.

There is Freedom in Forgiveness

My good friend, Karen Jensen Salisbury, wrote a book I Forgive You, But. Karen writes, “Unresolved unforgiveness can have a terrible effect on all the other relationships in our lives too.” You may feel that the person that sexually abused you does not deserve forgiveness. I agree with you. However, forgiveness does not have anything to do with your abuser. We forgive because we want to be obedient to God and experience freedom within ourselves. In Colossians 2:13 it says, “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins.”

We have allowed these offenders to keep us in chains long enough. It is time to break the chains that have bound us, hurt us and caused us despair. It is time to stand up and receive our freedom. You are no longer the victim. You are the victor. We stand with you. Together, we can draw strength from each other and, most importantly, from the Word of God.

I believe that becoming whole and finding freedom is not only possible, but attainable.

Let’s make today our new ending. Let’s not suffer in silence anymore. You deserve freedom in the name of Jesus. I do believe that becoming whole and finding freedom is not only possible, but attainable. My book, Arise, is a self-help devotional that addresses many of the struggles that we all have been through. God designed us to live victoriously -- but sadly this is not the reality for many of us. In my book, biblical insights combined with practical exercises will not only shed light on so many lies we often believe, but also give you a real sense of who you were created to be. There is greatness on the inside of you; it is your time to ARISE.

Janet Boynes Ministries is Here to Help

We here at Janet Boynes Ministries (JBM) want to assist in any way we can to help those who are suffering in silence. Our ministry is a non-denominational outreach dedicated to evangelism by preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. JBM will also minister to individuals who question their sexuality or who wish to leave homosexuality. We will give you the knowledge to help others, because when you know better, you do better. We want to challenge our churches and society about the issues surrounding sexuality, and teach you how to minister compassion without compromising the gospel.

Military Photo of the Day: Marine Fires a Rocket During Training

Wed, 11/15/2017 - 08:00

A U.S. Marine fires a rocket during live fire training at Camp Hansen in Okinawa, Japan, on October 25, 2017.

Wow! Thanks to Sgt. Aaron S. Patterson for capturing this image.

 

 

 

 

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Australians Endorse Gay Marriage, Ensuring Parliament Will Consider Legalizing It

Wed, 11/15/2017 - 04:22

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) -- Australians supported same-sex marriage in a postal survey that ensures Parliament will consider legalizing same-sex weddings this year. The Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Wednesday 62 percent of registered voters who responded in the unprecedented survey favored reform.

The conservative government promised to allow a bill creating same-sex marriage to be considered in Parliament in the final two-week session that is due to end on Dec. 7.

A “no” vote in the survey would have put same-sex marriage off the political agenda, perhaps for years. Thousands of marriage equality supporters waving rainbow flags gathered anxiously in city parks around the country and cheered when the results was announced.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, a vocal advocate of same-sex marriage, called on lawmakers to heed the “overwhelming” result and to commit to legislate for gay marriage by next month.

“They voted ‘yes’ for fairness, they voted ‘yes’ for commitment, they voted ‘yes’ for love,” Turnbull told reporters. “Now it is up to us here in the Parliament of Australia to get on with it, to get on with the job the Australian people have tasked us to do and get this done this year before Christmas -- that must be our commitment.”

Some government lawmakers have vowed to vote down gay marriage regardless of the survey’s outcome. But the survey found a majority of voters in 133 of the 150 districts in the House of Representatives wanted reform.

Ireland is the only other country to put same-sex marriage to a popular vote, but that referendum was binding. Irish voters in 2015 changed their constitution to allow gay marriage.

In Australia, voting in elections and referenda is compulsory, but the Senate refused to fund a binding vote. Almost 80 percent of more than 16 million registered voters posted ballots in the voluntary survey, which gay marriage advocates opposed as an unnecessary obstacle and opponents derided as being about a boutique issue of little public interest.

The U.N. Human Rights Committee last week criticized Australia for putting gays and lesbians “through an unnecessary and divisive public opinion poll.” The committee called on Australia to legislate for marriage equality regardless of the survey’s outcome.

Lawmakers opposed to gay marriage are already moving to wind back anti-discrimination laws, with debate in Australia intensifying over the possibility of gay wedding boycotts and refusals to provide a celebrant, venue, flowers or a cake.

Several government lawmakers on Monday released a draft gay marriage bill, proposed by senator James Paterson, that critics argue would diminish current protections for gays against discrimination on the grounds of sexuality.

Government senator Dean Smith proposed a separate bill favored by Turnbull that ruled out any compromise that would cost gays and lesbians their existing protections against discrimination.

“If there are amendments, let’s see them, but let’s be clear about this: Australians did not participate in a survey to have one discrimination plank removed, to have other planks of discrimination piled upon them,” Smith told reporters.

Fiona McLeod, president of the Law Council Of Australia, the nation’s peak lawyers group, said Paterson’s bill “would encroach on Australia’s long-established anti-discrimination protections in a dangerous and unprecedented way.”

Lyle Shelton, spokesman for Coalition for Marriage which lobbied against the reform, said her group favored Paterson’s bill.

“I don’t think anyone who voted in this postal survey wants to see their fellow Australians put up on hate speech charges,” Shelton said. “We need to protect freedom of speech, freedom of conscience and also freedom of religion.”

The Latest on Zimbabwe: Army Says ‘This is Not a Takeover’

Wed, 11/15/2017 - 03:56

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- The Latest on Zimbabwe’s political turmoil (all times local):

4:55 a.m.

Zimbabwe’s army has announced that “this is not a military takeover” and that President Robert Mugabe and his family are safe and sound.

“We are only targeting criminals around who him who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice,” the army announced on state-run media.

The early Wednesday announcement comes after a night of unrest with military vehicles in the capital and several explosions heard.

The army statement says that “as soon as we have accomplished our mission, we expect that the situation will return to normalcy.”

Zimbabwe for the first time is seeing an open rift between the military and the 93-year-old Mugabe after he fired his deputy and longtime ally, who had military support.

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4 a.m.

The British embassy in Zimbabwe is warning citizens to stay indoors “until the situation becomes clearer” amid growing political turmoil and military vehicles in the capital.

The embassy on Twitter cited “the uncertain situation” and “reports of unusual military activity” in the capital, Harare.

At least three explosions have been heard early Wednesday in Harare and armed soldiers and military vehicles have been seen in the streets.

Zimbabwe for the first time is seeing an open rift between the military and 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe, who has ruled since 1980.

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3:25 a.m.

The U.S. Embassy in Zimbabwe is encouraging American citizens to “shelter in place” amid rising political turmoil and the appearance of troops in the capital.

An embassy statement cites “the ongoing political uncertainty through the night.” The embassy will be closed to the public on Wednesday.

At least three explosions have been heard early Wednesday in Harare and armed soldiers and military vehicles have been seen in the streets.

Zimbabwe for the first time is seeing an open rift between the military and 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe, who has ruled since 1980.

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2:30 a.m.

The U.S. Embassy in Zimbabwe says it will be closed to the public on Wednesday because of “ongoing uncertainty” in the capital.

The embassy announced the closure on Twitter early Wednesday, shortly after at least three explosions were heard in Harare and military vehicles were seen in the streets. The embassy says it will remain “minimally staffed.”

Tensions are high after Zimbabwe’s army commander threatened to have the military step in and calm political turmoil and the ruling party accused him of “treasonable conduct.”

Zimbabwe for the first time is seeing an open rift between the military and 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe.

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1:55 a.m.

At least three explosions have been heard in Zimbabwe’s capital as military vehicles are seen in the streets.

The Associated Press has seen armed soldiers assaulting passers-by. Soldiers have been seen loading ammunition near a group of four military vehicles.

Tensions are high in the capital, Harare, after the country’s army commander threatened to have the military step in and calm political turmoil and the ruling party accused him of “treasonable conduct.”

Zimbabwe for the first time is seeing an open rift between the military and 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe.

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8:35 p.m.

Zimbabwe’s ruling party is accusing the country’s army commander of “treasonable conduct” for his threat to have the military step in and calm political turmoil.

The statement issued Tuesday night says the unprecedented comments made a day earlier by army commander Constantino Chiwenga were “clearly calculated to disturb national peace and stability” and were “meant to incite insurrection.”

The statement comes hours after The Associated Press saw three tanks with several soldiers in a convoy on a road heading toward an army barracks just outside the capital, Harare.

While it is routine for tanks to move along that route, the timing heightens unease in a country that for the first time is seeing an open rift between the military and 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe.

Tensions rose last week after Mugabe fired his deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa, who had the military’s support.

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5:30 p.m.

Zimbabwe is on edge as armed personnel vehicles are seen outside the capital a day after the army commander threatened to “step in” to calm political tensions over the president’s firing of his deputy.

The Associated Press saw three armed personnel vehicles with several soldiers in a convoy on a road heading toward an army barracks just outside the capital, Harare.

While it is routine for armed personnel vehicles to move along that route, Tuesday’s timing heightens unease in this country that for the first time is seeing an open rift between the military and 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe.

Mugabe last week fired Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and accused him of plotting to take power. Over 100 senior officials allegedly backing Mnangagwa have been listed for disciplinary measures by a faction associated with Mugabe’s wife.

Atheist Group Gets Coach Banned From Praying With Players. Students Step up and Pray With Hundreds

Wed, 11/15/2017 - 03:18

What the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) meant for harm “really turned into a positive.” The atheist group recently got Georgia high school football coach John Small banned from praying with his players. Now his players lead the crowds in prayer.

The East Coweta High School coach said that after the ban, students “took it upon themselves to organize a prayer with our students in the stands before the game," Small said. "Instead of it being 100 players praying, it turned into 400 students praying. That's their right and we are going to support them in that." Small continued:

I think what is happened with this organization [FFRF], whatever their intent was, you tell teenagers they can't do something, surely they are going to do it. … It has really turned into a positive because at the end of the day, we are trying to teach students about leadership and they should be the ones taking the charge on it anyway.

School Prayer Continues

Last month, FFRF legal fellow Christopher Line wrote Coweta County Superintendent Steve Barker that it was unconstitutional for Small to pray with his players. “He endorses and promotes his religion when acting in his official capacity as a school district employee,” Line wrote. “Certainly, he represents the school and the team when he acts in his official role as Head Coach of the [East] Coweta High School football team. Therefore, he cannot lead his team in prayer and he cannot organize or advocate for students to lead team prayer either.”

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Barker asked for legal guidance from the school board’s attorney. Its attorney wrote a memo outlining its policy on school prayer. “Representatives of the school cannot participate in any student initiated/student led prayer or worship while acting in their official capacity,” the memo stated. It added that “nothing compels an employee to make their non-participation vehemently obvious or to leave or flee the religious observance or prayer.” It let employees supervise “student initiated and run organizations, so long that it is clear that role is custodial.”

Small explained the policy this way: “We are not allowed to be in the middle of it but we have a right to be there with our players. We don’t have to flee. If my head is bowed, nobody can tell me what I am thinking. I am not leading the prayer. I am there supporting my kids. Whether I am praying or not, nobody can say I am or I ain’t.”

He isn’t upset at the school district’s guidance. Everyone, he said, is “on the same page. There is nobody here that is against each other. Leadership is a tough position and you are not going to make everybody happy.” He doesn’t feel the new policy violates his rights. “Even though we don’t like the law, it is what it is and we are supposed to be obedient to that as well.”

Community Prayer Rally

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) will be hosting a community prayer rally on Thursday night inside of East Coweta’s Garland Shoemake Stadium, The Christian Post reported. Small encourages everyone to come:

In the community, there is as a lot of people that wanted to join up and have a community prayer. We are obviously under attack all the time. This battle is not a fleshly battle. This is a battle against ‘principalities of darkness.’ That is what the word says. … FCA is sponsoring prayer rally here at the school and anybody can come and anybody can be a part of it. It is just a great way for the community to get together and come together.

FCA Director Rob Brass said that FCA’s decision to hold the rally at East Coweta was “a natural reaction for us as followers of Christ.” 

“As coach said, this is a spiritual war,” he explained. “The first thing we are called to do is to pray. With all the misinformation and misunderstandings out there, we want to pull our community together in unity to pray for what’s going on here.”

FCA didn’t like the ruling keeping coaches from praying with their players. “But if that is the way that it has to be, what it does is it forces, in some ways, our kids to step into that leadership role and take the movement of Christ and carry that banner forward themselves. Part of the beauty of this whole thing is that the kids are stepping up and leading.”

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