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the thinking everyman’s national daily—championing freedom, smaller government and human dignity.
Updated: 6 hours 31 min ago

The Changing Face of Pill Communication

Mon, 03/12/2018 - 21:48

“It may be hard to imagine, but when the Pill debuted in 1960, it was bigger than God,” a millennial writes in the April issue of Cosmopolitan, in a piece titled “Totally Over the Pill.”

“Lately, I’ve felt like I’m the last millennial still on the Pill,” the Julie Vadnal writes. “One of my pals blames it for her blood clots; another told me that taking it from age 12 to 34 was enough. One ditched it because she suspected the hormones were messing with her metabolism.”

When Cosmo did some fact-finding with Power to Decide, “a national campaign to prevent unplanned pregnancies,” their survey of more than 2,000 young women found “A whopping 70 percent of women who have used the Pill said they stopped taking it or thought about going off it in the past three years.”

In recapping the history for Cosmo, the author of the piece equates the Pill with “freedom” and “R-E-S-P-E-C-T.” But the article left me wanting a deeper look at millennials struggling with whether to keep swallowing that received wisdom about the Pill.

The Cosmo piece makes an interesting juxtaposition with an article recently published in the religious and intellectual journal First Things. In that article, Mary Eberstadt, the author of the book Adam and Eve After the Pill, quotes from a 1996 Brookings Institution study.

Before the sexual revolution, women had less freedom, but men were expected to assume responsibility for their welfare. Today, women are more free to choose, but men have afforded themselves the comparable option. ‘If she is not willing to have an abortion or use contraception,’ the man can reason, ‘why should I sacrifice myself to get married?’ By making the birth of the child the physical choice of the mother, the sexual revolution has made marriage and child support a social choice of the father.

As Eberstadt writes: “In other words, contraception has led to more pregnancy and more abortion because it eroded the idea that men had equal responsibility in case of an unplanned pregnancy.” Not the best deal for women, all things considered. Or for men, for that matter, unless we’re assuming total sexual freedom is happiness. And it sounds like the millennials who have gotten beyond “sex on the reg,” as the Cosmo piece puts it, may believe there may be more to it than that.

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The First Things article recalls “Humanae Vitae,” the document by Pope Paul VI about the damage the Pill might wind up doing to men, women and families. The cause of much controversy and dissent when it was released 50 years ago, it has increasingly grown to seem prescient. Eberstadt also quotes all kinds of secular and non-Catholic sources that wind up at the same conclusion, based on the evidence of the experience of life after 1968. Among them, Francis Fukuyama:

(T)he sexual revolution served the interests of men, and in the end put sharp limits on the gains that women might otherwise have expected from their liberation from traditional roles.

The #MeToo reality we’re living in is just begging for a better approach. Both Cosmo and First Things are circling around the same idea. The First Things piece points to Pope Francis, who has been on the cover of Rolling Stone since being elected pope five years ago this month. He’s always mentioning the realities of people’s lives and impressing upon us the need to help tend to wounds and help heal miseries -- the Church as a field hospital is the image he often projects -- instead of merely talking about beautiful ideals. The convergence in these two April magazine articles suggests a bridge that could rebuild lives, relationships and even civilization.


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

Announcing a Stream Series: Earth 2: Planet Hillary

Mon, 03/12/2018 - 18:32

One of the most gripping TV shows out there is Counterpart, on Starz and Amazon Prime. In Counterpart, the earth "replicated" itself in 1987, creating a perfect copy down to every last inhabitant. So each one of us has a "counterpart" on the "other side," who went his own way with the same DNA and history. It's almost as if God had set up a "control" for the experiment of human history. There is just one portal, heavily guarded, between the worlds. Fittingly, it's in Berlin.

Nice set-up, no? It's unfortunate that the filmmakers felt the need to throw in gratuitous sex scenes. That prevents me from wholeheartedly recommending Counterpart. But the show's premise is intriguing, and it gave me an idea.

Exasperated liberals and sputtering NeverTrumpers periodically take to Twitter to highlight some goofy thing that the President or one of his staffers has said. Or done. To show how achingly clever they are, these people will write something like, "Meanwhile, on Earth 2, President Clinton ..." or even "President Rubio. …" Then they fill in some wise and prudent policy that jumps the president through all the flaming dachshund hoops set up by social justice warriors.

Challenge accepted. Here begins a weekly series of reports from that "Earth 2," which split off from our reality on Election Day 2016. The time is ten years in the future, 2028. Here again, there is just one portal between the worlds. But it's not in Berlin. Instead it's a tunnel under the East River that separates New York's Upper East Side from Donald Trump's native Queens. As part of an exchange program, each year Earth 2.0 accepts a family of visitors from our earth.

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On January 1, 2028, members of the Baker family from Euless, Texas, appear at the inter-world checkpoint in Long Island City, Queens to redeem their "golden ticket" to Earth 2. They get to stay for up to a week. Let's see if they last that long.

SATURDAY, Jan. 1, 2028, Earth Two


JASON BAKER, 43, and SUSAN BAKER, 37, lead three of their children out of the old trolley station on the Manhattan side of the 59th Street Bridge. BETHANY is 14, MATTHEW is 11, and JOHN is 7. By the entrance stand FOUR HEAVILY ARMED SOLDIERS.

Waiting to greet the family is EVE PAYNE-WHITNEY, 39, a polished professional woman whose Prada outfit is offset by a single ring through her septum, like a bull's. But it's 22-karat gold.


Are you the Bakers? It's so lovely to meet you. I'm delighted you could make this journey together.


Well, not quite all of us. Flannery's only 4, and Rachel's 2. Their grandma's taking good care of them though. She's thrilled, isn't she?

Susan elbows Jason, who smiles.


My mom can't get enough of the little ones.

Eve's eyes go wide for an instant, and her lips purse in a momentary, quickly stifled "Ew!"


Wow. You sure do go in for making those widdle carbon footprints on the Other Side, now don't you?

Jason and Susan just look puzzled, but each shrugs and smiles, deciding this must be a compliment of some foreign sort.

Susan notices that Matthew is staring, fixedly, at the ring in Eve's nose. She waits for Eve to look away, then bats him lightly on the ear. She mouths "Don't stare! Rude!", then pulls him close to her.

Then she stares for a second or two at the nose ring, suppressing a cringe.

Eve is back on her game. She makes a sweeping motion, indicating the Manhattan skyline.


You say you're from Texas -- the other Texas. I imagine that New York City, our New York City, will be quite a new experience. Have you toured your own New York? Do you still have one?

Jason and Susan stare at her, confused.


Well, of course we do. You still have a Texas here, don't you?


Why yes, how silly of me. Of course it has changed. A lot. Much more diverse. …

Jason gets a mischievous look. He winks at Susan, and leans forward to Eve, with a confidential stage whisper.


We do still technically have a New York City, because some problems take a lot longer than 10 years to fix. President Cruz keeps saying that he'll get around to it, but ... promises, promises!

Eve stares at him in barely disguised horror. Susan steps in.


Our New Yorkers keep trying to work out some kind of secession and join what's left of the European Union. But they can't get their act together. …


Adios, hombres, that's what I say. But so far, no such luck.

Eve collects herself and gets back on message.


Many of our Texans expressed similar opinions. But within a few years after the Vote they found themselves outnumbered. Most of them moved to ... Oklahoma.

She says "Oklahoma" the way many Manhattanites on our world might say "West Virginia."

There's a silence.


Our Oklahoma is booming. The fracking ...

Eve blanches as if Susan had used the OTHER F-word. A silence falls.

Bethany steps up to fix the situation. She beams at Eve.


I'm always telling mama that we ought to be willing to learn from other points of view. I can't wait to see your New York City.


I want to see the Zoo. The Central Park Zoo. My old books say it was one of the best in the world. Dad says we can't afford to go see ours.


I said that it's too expensive, and isn't safe. Not anymore. But since we're here. …


I think that would be a perfect destination for your first day on Our Side. Let me make arrangements.

Eve tilts her head down for a moment, gives her nose ring a tug. A single LED light appears momentarily on her forehead.


Okay, I've got Wi-Fi. It can be buggy, but at least it's free and universal.

She taps her forehead a few times as we might a keyboard.


Summon SmileCar. Authorization 733-452-Alpha-Lambda.

Jason, Susan, and the boys all stare, amazed/appalled. Bethany looks thrilled.


Is that ... I read about this. You have the Google Chip?

Eve smiles, a little proud of her Side's technological mastery.


Doesn't everybody?

A bright lime green HOVERCRAFT slides up alongside them on 1st Avenue, and lowers itself to the sidewalk, SQUELCHING in a wet pile of uncollected trash.


Most of our vehicles are driverless, and community-owned and operated. Give us ten more years, and say goodbye to auto fatalities.

At this little John pipes up for the first time.


So the Government has all the cars.


And it decides where you go and when?


Don't be silly. We have complete freedom of movement. Within sane limits of course. Some trips get higher priority than others. It's decided by a highly sophisticated algorithm. I won't bore you with the details.

Susan rolls her eyes. Bethany looks thrilled.


What matters today is that you as visitors are priority Alpha One. We think of this as a diplomatic trip, and you will see our world at its very best. You'll see what y’all have been missing.

At her awkward use of "y’all" even Bethany winces. John whispers to his father.


I think this is all one great, big zoo.

Police: 2 Deadly Package Bombs in Texas Capital are Linked

Mon, 03/12/2018 - 16:34

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Investigators believe a package bomb that killed a teenager and wounded a woman in Austin on Monday is linked to a similar bombing that killed a man in another part of the city this month, and they’re considering whether race was a factor because all of the victims were black.

The explosion Monday happened inside of a home near the Windsor Park neighborhood and killed a 17-year-old boy and badly wounded a woman who is expected to survive, said Austin’s police chief, Brian Manley. It happened as thousands of visitors are descending on the city for the South by Southwest music, film and technology festival, and authorities urged residents to call the police if they receive any packages they aren’t expecting.

The attack happened about 12 miles (20 kilometers) from the home where a March 2 package bombing killed 39-year-old Anthony Stephan House. The first blast was initially being investigated as a suspicious death but is now viewed as a homicide.

Manley said investigators believe the attacks are related, as in both cases, the packages were left overnight on the victims’ doorsteps and were not mailed or sent by a delivery service. He said the U.S. Postal Service doesn’t have a record of delivering the package to the East Austin home where Monday’s explosion occurred, and that private carriers like UPS and FedEx also indicated that they had none, either.

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“There are similarities that we cannot rule out that these two items are, in fact, related,” Manley said.

Manley said investigators haven’t determined a motive for the attacks, but it is possible that the victims could have been targeted because they are black.

“We don’t know what the motive behind these may be,” Manley said. “We do know that both of the homes that were the recipients of these packages belong to African-Americans, so we cannot rule out that hate crime is at the core of this. But we’re not saying that that’s the cause as well.”

Special Agent Michelle Lee, a San Antonio-based spokesman for the FBI, said the agency “responded to both events” and was assisting Austin police which were taking the lead on investigating. She said the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was taking the lead on the federal investigation.

Manley said that a second package was discovered near the site of Monday’s blast and that some residents and media members were evacuated, or pushed farther from the blast site, as authorities determined whether or not it was another explosive.

Police didn’t immediately identify the teenager killed Monday. Manley said the second victim was a 40-year-old woman who remained hospitalized.


Eds: Warren reported from Dallas.

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

Plane Carrying 71 People Crashes, Catches Fire in Kathmandu

Mon, 03/12/2018 - 14:08

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) -- A plane carrying 71 people from Bangladesh swerved erratically and flew dangerously low before crashing and erupting in flames as it landed Monday in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital, killing at least 50 people, officials and witnesses said.

The exact number of dead and injured remained unclear amid the chaos of the crash and the rush of badly injured people to nearby hospitals, but Brig. Gen. Gokul Bhandari, the Nepal army spokesman, said it was clear that at least 50 people had died. Officials at Kathmandu Medical College, the closest hospital to the airport, said they were treating 16 survivors.

US-Bangla Airlines flight BS211 from Dhaka to Kathmandu was carrying 67 passengers and four crew members, according to an airline spokesman.

An AP journalist who arrived at the scene soon after the crash saw the twin-propeller plane broken into several large pieces, with dozens of firefighters and rescue workers clustered around the wreckage in a grassy field near the runway. Hundreds of people stood on a nearby hill, staring down at what remained of the Bombardier Dash 8.

The plane swerved repeatedly as it prepared to land in Kathmandu, said Amanda Summers, an American working in Nepal. The crowded city sits in a valley in the Himalayan foothills.

“It was flying so low I thought it was going to run into the mountains,” said Summers, who watched the crash from the terrace of her home office, not far from the airport. “All of a sudden there was a blast and then another blast.”

Fire crews put out the flames quickly, perhaps within a minute, she said, though for a time clouds of thick, dark smoke rose into the sky above the city.

The plane had circled Tribhuvan International Airport twice as it waited for clearance to land, Mohammed Selim, the airline’s manager in Kathmandu, told Dhaka-based Somoy TV station by telephone.

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Nitin Keyal was about to board a domestic flight when he saw the plane coming in.

“It was flying very low,” said Keyal, a medical student. “Everyone just froze looking at it. You could tell it wasn’t a normal landing.”

He said it landed just off the runway, broke apart and burst into flames. “For a few minutes no one could believe what was happening. It was just terrible,” he said.

Most of the injured were brought to Kathmandu Medical College, where relatives wept as they awaited news.

Haran Saran was at the hospital hoping for news about his nephew, a medical student.

“He’s not on the list of injured people,” said Saran, who did not want to give his nephew’s name. “We still have hope that there has been some mistake on the list, or he is in some other hospital.”

US-Bangla spokesman Kamrul Islam said the plane was carrying 32 passengers from Bangladesh, 33 from Nepal and one each from China and the Maldives. He did not provide the nationalities of the four crewmembers.

US-Bangla operates Boeing 737-800 and smaller Bombardier Dash 8 Q-400 planes.

The airline, part of US-Bangla Group, is based in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, and flies to several domestic and international destinations. The parent company is involved in a number of industries, including real estate, education and agriculture.

Kathmandu’s airport has been the site of several deadly crashes. In September 2012, a Sita Air turboprop plane carrying trekkers to Mount Everest hit a bird and crashed shortly after takeoff, killing all 19 on board.


AP journalists Niranjan Shrestha and Upendra Mansingh in Kathmandu and Julhas Alam in Dhaka, Bangladesh, contributed to this report.

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

I Agree With Chuck Todd

Mon, 03/12/2018 - 12:47

If the presidential elections were held today and Donald Trump was running against Hillary Clinton, I would vote for Trump without hesitation. But that doesn't mean he doesn't embarrass me at times. And when it comes to his recent attack on MSNBC's Chuck Todd, I side with Todd.

That's not because I agree with Todd's ideology or that I feel his reporting is fair and balanced. To be perfectly candid, I don't see much of Todd's reporting. I can't really comment either way.

What I do know is that the president of the United States debases himself by getting into juvenile, even profane name-calling. He may rally certain elements of his base with this kind of rhetoric. But he alienates another part of his base. He also further inflames his adversaries and gives fresh fuel to his detractors. And to what purpose? To what gain?

Formerly Censored, Now Acceptable

Speaking in Pennsylvania on Saturday, President Trump referred to Todd as a "sleeping son of a b—h." The remark lit up the internet in minutes.

On Sunday Todd responded:

I bring my kids up to respect the office of the presidency and the president. I don't allow them to say anything negative, ever, about the president. It creates a challenge to all parents when he uses vulgarities like that.

He is absolutely right. The "b" word is now everywhere. It’s spelled out in full and repeated on the airwaves, just as "s–thole" became ubiquitous after the president's alleged comments in January.

Suddenly, what used to be censored is acceptable. The profane is no longer profane. Civility (or, whatever is left of it) is further crushed underfoot.

This contributes to a general coarsening of the culture. The ugly insults multiply exponentially as all sides fire back.

An Appeal to Step Higher

Without a doubt, having Donald Trump as our president has its big plusses and big minuses.

Of course, ardent Trump supporters will lambaste me. They’ll accuse me of prudery. Of focusing on inconsequential details. Of being a secret leftist.

"Just look at what he's done for the economy, for Israel, for the courts, for our religious rights. And he's about to meet with the President of North Korea in what could be one of the greatest diplomatic breakthroughs of our era. Plus, he's virtually destroyed ISIS."

Again, that's why I would vote for him today against the likes of Hillary Clinton.

As an evangelical leader I'm often embarrassed by our president. But I voted for him with my eyes wide open, weighing the good with the bad.

But the fact is that President Trump could have accomplished these same goals without degrading himself. Without debasing the office of the president. Without attacking others with crudeness and vulgarity. And without further dividing an already-divided nation. Can anyone tell me how his cruelty helps his cause?

My appeal is that our president step higher. That he be aggressive and bold without acting like a child. That he be fearless without being frivolous. Only the blindly loyal will defend him at every turn, just as those blindly loyal to President Obama could see no wrong in him.

Are Evangelicals Hypocrites? 

Appearing on CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday, Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson was asked, "What do you think the evangelicals who support President Trump make of the Stormy Daniels scandal?"

He replied,

Well, I think that it is the height of hypocrisy. … If any other Democratic president had been guilty of what is alleged in these cases, evangelicals would be, you know, off the reservation.

But Gerson is only partly right. No Democratic president fought for the things Trump is fighting for, so the overall picture is quite mixed. And there are evangelicals who support Trump while not endorsing his crude behavior or passing over his marital transgressions.

That being said, I agree with Gerson that evangelicals who downplay Trump's moral failings are guilty of hypocrisy and do compromise their witness. This is something I've addressed many times before.

“Slimy Political Operatives”

Gerson further stated that "evangelicalism really has had a good tradition. And now they are really undermining that reputation of their faith."

This prompted Margaret Brennan to ask, "But, in that judgment, you are saying the transactional part of this relationship isn't worth the trade-off?"

Gerson replied,

Well, they are acting like, you know, slimy political operatives, not moral leaders.

They are essentially saying, in order to get benefits for themselves, in a certain way -- they talk about religious liberty and other issues -- but to get benefits for themselves, they are willing to wink at Stormy Daniels and wink at misogyny and wink at nativism.

And that, I think, is deeply discrediting, not just in a political sense, but actually in a moral and religious sense.

Are some evangelicals acting like "slimy political operatives, not moral leaders"? Perhaps some are. Just as some liberal Christian leaders have gotten into political bed with their Democratic counterparts.

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But once again, Gerson is only partly right.

As evangelicals, we're not trying "to get benefits" for ourselves as much we're trying to advocate what is best for our nation and the world. And when it comes to fighting against abortion, fighting against the genocide of Christians in the Middle East, fighting against the radical left's takeover of America -- just to name some of our biggest issues -- we absolutely support President Trump. We believe he's the man for the job.

Yet we don't pretend he is a virtuous Christian. We are grieved over many things he says and does. As for the Stormy Daniels' allegations, if they are true, many of us would not be surprised. But we would urge our president to confess his past sins publicly and ask for forgiveness.

Hope for a New Day

That's what true support looks like. Frankly, I fail to see what is hypocritical in taking a stand like this. As an evangelical leader I'm often embarrassed by our president. But I voted for him with my eyes wide open, weighing the good with the bad.

So, I will praise him for the great things he accomplishes and share my disappointment when he falls short.

That means that one day I'm celebrating President Trump for his bold and courageous leadership while the next day I'm regretting his cruel and crude attacks.

Today is one of those days when it's important for me to say, "Chuck Todd, I'm sorry for what our president said about you, and I agree with the sentiments you expressed."

Hopefully, tomorrow will be a different day.

Trump Backs Off Push for Raising ‘Assault Rifle’ Purchase Age

Mon, 03/12/2018 - 12:09

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The White House unveiled a new plan to prevent school shootings that backs off President Donald Trump’s support for increasing the minimum age for purchasing assault weapons to 21.

Instead, a new federal commission on school safety will examine the age issue as part of a package the White House announced Sunday in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, last month that left 17 dead.

The administration also pledged to help states pay for firearms training for teachers and reiterated its call to improve the background check and mental health systems.

In a call with reporters Sunday evening, administration officials described the plan as a fulfillment of Trump’s call for action in the wake of the Parkland shooting.

“Today we are announcing meaningful actions, steps that can be taken right away to help protect students,” said Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who will chair the commission.

DeVos said that “far too often, the focus” after such tragedies “has been only on the most contentious fights, the things that have divided people and sent them into their entrenched corners.” She described the plan as “pragmatic.”

The plan was immediately panned by gun control advocates, including the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “Americans expecting real leadership to prevent gun violence will be disappointed and troubled by President Trump’s dangerous retreat from his promise,” said Avery Gardiner, the group’s co-president.

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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York described it as “tiny baby steps designed not to upset the NRA, when the gun violence epidemic in this country demands that giant steps be taken.”

Trump was deeply moved by the February shooting and convened a series of listening sessions in the weeks after the massacre. In televised meetings with lawmakers, survivors of recent school shootings and the families of victims, Trump made a strong case for arming teachers, but also increasing the age for purchasing long guns.

“I mean, so they buy a revolver -- a handgun -- they buy at the age of 21. And yet, these other weapons that we talk about … they’re allowed to buy them at 18. So how does that make sense?” he told school officials last month. “We’re going to work on getting the age up to 21 instead of 18.”

But Trump has also spoken repeatedly in recent weeks with the heads of the powerful National Rifle Association, which considers increasing the age of purchase to be an assault on the Second Amendment. The NRA on Friday sued Florida over a new gun law signed by Republican Gov. Rick Scott that bans the purchase of firearms by anyone under the age of 21.

Instead, the issue will be one of a list of topics to be studied by the DeVos commission, which will then provide recommendations to the president. Administration officials said they had not set a deadline for the commission’s recommendations, but expected they’d made in under a year.

During the meetings, Trump also advocated arming certain teachers and school staffers, arguing that gun-free schools are “like an invitation for these very sick people” to commit murder.

As part plan, the White House has directed the Justice Department to help states partner with local law enforcement to provide “rigorous firearms training to specifically qualified volunteer school personnel,” said Andrew Bremberg, director of the president’s Domestic Policy Council. The White House did not immediately say how much money would be made available.

Trump also called on states to pass temporary, court-issued Risk Protection Orders, which allow law enforcement to confiscate guns from individuals who pose risks to themselves and others, and temporarily prevent them from buying firearms. And he called for the reform and expansion of mental health programs, as well as a full audit and review of the FBI tip line. The bureau has been criticized for not following up on warnings about the suspect in the Parkland school shooting.

The White House is also calling on Congress to two pieces of legislation. One would improve the National Instant Criminal Background Check system by penalizing federal agencies that don’t properly report required records and reward states that comply by providing them with federal grant preferences.

The other would create a federal grant program to train students, teachers and school officials how to identify signs of potential violence and intervene early.


Follow Colvin on Twitter at

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

Pilot Reported Engine Failure as Helicopter Crashed

Mon, 03/12/2018 - 11:59

NEW YORK (AP) -- A Texas firefighter and an Argentine woman were among five passengers killed when a helicopter plunged into New York City’s East River as the pilot said the engine had failed.

Argentina’s New York consulate said Monday that Carla Vallejos Blanco was one of the victims in the crash Sunday night. The Dallas Fire-Rescue Department confirmed that Fire-Rescue Officer Brian McDaniel also died.

McDaniel, 26, had been with the department since May 2016.

“Despite his short tenure, hearts are heavy with grief as we not only try to come to grips with his loss departmentally but to also be there in every way that we can for his family,” the department said in a statement.

The Eurocopter AS350 helicopter went down about 7 p.m. in the water near New York’s mayoral residence. All five passengers perished, but the pilot was able to free himself and survived.

As the aircraft foundered, the pilot was heard on an emergency radio transmission calling: “Mayday, mayday, mayday.”

“East River -- engine failure,” he added.

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The pilot was rescued by a tugboat, but emergency divers had to remove the passengers on the charter helicopter being used for a photo shoot from tight safety harnesses while they were upside down, Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said.

“It took a while for the divers to get these people out. They worked very quickly, as fast as they could,” Nigro said. “It was a great tragedy that we had here.”

The National Transportation Safety Board dispatched investigators on Monday. The cause of the crash has not been determined.

Video taken by a bystander and posted on Twitter shows the red helicopter land hard in the water and then capsize, its rotors slapping at the water.

Witnesses on a nearby waterfront esplanade said the helicopter was flying noisily, then suddenly dropped and quickly submerged. But the pilot appeared on the surface, holding onto a flotation device as a tugboat and then police boats approached.

“It was sinking really fast,” Mary Lee, 66, told the New York Post. “By the time we got out here, we couldn’t see it. It was under water.”

The aircraft was owned by Liberty Helicopters, a company that offers both private charters and sightseeing tours popular with tourists.

The company referred inquiries to authorities, saying it was focused on the victims’ families and the investigation.

The skies over New York constantly buzz with helicopters carrying tourists, businesspeople, traffic reporters, medical teams and others.

In 2009, a sightseeing helicopter of the same model and operated by the same company as the one in Sunday’s wreck collided with a small, private plane over the Hudson River, killing nine people, including a group of Italian tourists.

A crash in October 2011 in the East River killed a British woman visiting the city for her 40th birthday. Two other passengers died weeks later as a result of their injuries.

A helicopter on a sightseeing tour of Manhattan crashed into the Hudson River in July 2007, shaking up the eight people aboard but injuring no one. In June 2005, two helicopters crashed into the East River in the same week. One injured eight people including some banking executives. The other hit the water shortly after takeoff on a sightseeing flight, injuring six tourists and the pilot.

Nigro and Police Commissioner James O’Neill said the rescue operation Sunday took place in a 4 mph current in water about 50 feet (15 meters) deep, under challenging conditions.


Associated Press writer Claudia Torrens contributed to this report.


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

The Christian’s Hammer

Mon, 03/12/2018 - 11:44

Both of my grandfathers were skilled laborers. They used tools of all kinds to ply their respective crafts of plumbing contractor and carpet fitter.

One of them was, of course, a hammer. I own one of their hammer-heads. Its face is almost rounded and splays-out from many years of hard service.

Tools wear-down with use. But there is one tool that is never dull, chipped, or broken. It's one we can hold in our hands and whose pages we can turn.

"Is not my word like fire, declares the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?" This is God's question, posed through Jeremiah (23:29), to prophets who claimed to speak on His behalf.

A hammer, one that breaks rock in pieces. That metaphor is a powerful one. It also offends our modern sensibilities. Often, we like to think of the Bible as a book that provides comfort during times of sadness or guidance during perplexity.

It is that. But it is also God's written self-disclosure. And He is not a God Who exists only to provide succor and security when we want them.

Idols Laid Bare

What are the rocks of our time that need shattering?

This is a "Where to begin?" kind of question. As ever in human history, the idols around us are many and attractive.

There are those that we see in our own hearts and manifest in our culture. Materialism. Selfishness. Lust. Power. Greed.

And then there are others, subtler, that urge us to pursue the idols just mentioned. They are idols of self-deception and acceptance of falsehood. Of lies that glitter and seduce, even if their end is the way of death.

One of them is the idol of indifference to God. We love not having to think about Him. Pushing Him out of our minds can produce an almost narcotic-like sense of relief. Not having to deal with Him makes life a lot simpler.

But the hammer of truth doesn't really give us that option. Again, in Jeremiah 29, God asks, "Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord" (verse 24).

"All things," explains the writer of Hebrews, "are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him to Whom we must give account" (4:13). Bottom line: We cannot escape God.

Ignoring God Until Tragedy Strikes

America is, despite its many problems, generally fat and happy. We are amazingly prosperous. The great majority of us have everything from smartphones to health insurance. We are generally free and mobile.

In situations like this, we tend to forget God and, instead, remember temporal duties and pleasures to His exclusion. His deliberate exclusion, that is. It's not that His presence is so distant that we can't consider it.

God does not exist only to provide succor and security when we want them.

"His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made" (Romans 1:20). And as Paul told the philosophers of Athens, "He is not far from each one of us" (Acts 17:27).

Yet in our public schools, a mention of God can result in disciplinary action. In our homes, we mumble a few words to an "unknown God" at Thanksgiving and otherwise ignore Him.

And then tragedy strikes -- the mass shootings at Parkland is the most recent example -- and suddenly clergy are interviewed on cable news and "thoughts and prayers go out" to the afflicted. God is wanted then. For comfort. For succor.

Truth is Offensive

But although the Bible does indeed speak of "the God of all comfort" (II Corinthians 1:3-4), it describes itself as a sword, a fire, and a hammer. The God of the book is a God of grace, yes, but also of truth.

This all dovetails to one great conclusion: We cannot bear witness to "the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Revelation 1:2) without giving offense. A hammer breaks. A fire burns. A sword cuts.

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This does not mean we can use the Bible with rage and hostility. Rather, in proclaiming the truth of God, both to friends and family as well as the broader society, do not expect to be welcomed warmly.

The Shattering We Need

While we need to be persuasive and winsome, the cross of Christ is an offense. This is in part because it forces us to look at something hideously ugly -- our sin. A sword that cuts to the joints and marrow, to the division of the soul and spirit, that exposes our inmost motives, is an instrument we'd just as soon remain unused. Surgery is unpleasant, after all.

Yet without surgery, a suffering patient will die. Christians are called to speak the truth, truth found in God's Word, in a loving way and out of loving motives. But as Jesus said, "If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you" (John 15:18).

A hammer is needed to shatter something that, if left alone, does no one any good. But to build something great and beautiful, sometimes you must hit hard. And in a culture that is drifting ever farther from the God, the blows of the hammer of truth, accurately aimed and struck out of compassion, are much needed.

Pope: The Most Powerful Man in History Debuts on CNN

Mon, 03/12/2018 - 11:02

Actor Liam Neeson narrates CNN’s new six-part Original Series called Pope: The Most Powerful Man in History. The series events in the Church’s history from St. Peter to Pope Francis. 

Glass Entertainment Group and Rearrange TV debuted the series on Sunday with the premiere episode, The Rise of the Pope. The episode detailed the papacy and the origins of the Catholic Church, including its spread throughout Europe. 

The series includes comments from well-known Catholics. Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Congressman Jeff Fortenberry, Bishop Paul Tighe and others talk about the rise of the Church.

Neeson said that he learned a lot about the influence of the Catholic church by narrating the series. “Ever since a man, claiming to be the Son of God, was nailed to a wooden cross over 2,000 years ago, the Catholic religion has had a huge and profound influence and impact on our society.”

He added that the series “sheds a detailed light” on how the popes and the Catholic Church became a “prevailing force through fair means and foul.”

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Over time, the papacy became a symbol of strength and endurance, said Jeff Fortenberry, R-NE. “It's this idea of the papacy, being the Rock -- a source of permanence in an age of anxiety that people know is steady.”

“The [papacy] survives because it continues to speak to the deepest needs that people have,” said author Susan Wise Bauer, PhD. “They need to know that someone is looking out for them. And all earthly institutions are flawed, but to have an institution which is dedicated to looking out in a fatherly manner for people who are lost and astray and suffering -- that need will never go away.”

Pope: The Most Powerful Man in History will regularly air Sunday nights at 10 p.m. ET/PT.


Military Photo of the Day: Refueling for the ISIS Fight

Mon, 03/12/2018 - 09:00

A U.S. Air Force KC-10 Extender refuels coalition aircraft over Syria in support of the fight against ISIS on March 2, 2018. 

May God bless our troops and their families. Stay safe!





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Why Did God Let My Marriage Fall Apart?

Mon, 03/12/2018 - 09:00

I buried my face in my hands and sobbed. "Why, God?" My husband was gone and I didn't know if he'd be back. My son was asking questions I didn't know how to answer. 

Just like the Israelites, I'd found my wilderness. Each day I struggled just to get out of bed. I put on a happy face, but I felt numb inside. Had God abandoned me? I wondered. 

I dug into my prayer time and Bible reading. I memorized Scripture. I even quoted Scripture back to God, especially promises like he'd always be with me, or that His word never returns to Him void. I confessed sins. Still, I wondered why God had allowed my marriage to fall apart.

A wilderness experience is a trial by its nature, I reminded myself. As I walked through my wilderness, I found four sustaining truths.

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He is Always There

God is always there. Even the Israelites in their wilderness experience had God in a pillar of fire or cloud leading them on the way to the Promised Land (Ex. 13:22). After the death of Moses, God told Joshua, "As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you." (my emphasis) (Joshua 1:5-6).

Even in my wilderness, God was with me. I had to believe it, even though at times I couldn’t feel it. I quoted the Scripture to God many times. "Lord, you said you'd always be with me. Be with me now." And He was. He was there through His people, like when I needed food and someone provided it. Or when I needed to talk and someone called. He is always with me.

God Wastes No Suffering

My suffering is not in vain. My time in the wilderness was an opportunity for God to refine me just as gold is refined. I had to believe there was purpose in my suffering, that it wasn’t in vain. In 1 Peter 1:7, Peter told exiled Christians that they would soon suffer many trials. "These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith -- of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire -- may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."

The end result of my refining is Christ revealed, to me and to others. I’ve become stronger in my faith. I’ve learned that God is trustworthy. These are lessons that I now share with others.

And It Came to Pass

The wilderness doesn’t last forever. Someone once said that "it came to pass" was their favorite Bible saying, because it reminded them that everything comes to an end. I knew my time of wilderness would come to an end. Where or how was up to God; but it would come to pass. 

I held onto Jeremiah 30:18-19: "This is what the Lord says: 'I will restore the fortunes of Jacob's tents and have compassion on his dwellings; the city will be rebuilt on her ruins, and the palace will stand in its proper place. From them will come songs of thanksgiving and the sound of rejoicing. I will add to their numbers, and they will not be decreased; I will bring them honor, and they will not be disdained.'"

I held onto God in belief that He would restore my joy. My wilderness wasn't permanent. And it came to pass.

Joy Comes in the Morning

I will find joy again. Each day I reminded myself of His promises that after the wilderness I would find joy. Indeed, He promises, "[W]eeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. (Psalm 30:5). Just like David, I could say "You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy" (Psalm 30:11).

I knew that didn't mean that my husband would return. It didn't mean that my life would be exactly as it was before the wilderness. But joy would return through Christ and my determination to hold onto His truths.

And it has. My life isn't perfect. I haven’t learned all that I need to know. But these basic truths have sustained me, even in my wilderness. 

4 Ways Art of the Deal Might Guide Trump’s Meeting With Kim Jong Un

Mon, 03/12/2018 - 08:00

President Donald Trump's upcoming meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un marks the thawing of a relationship for a president who has marketed himself as the ultimate negotiator.

"The president, I think, is the ultimate negotiator and dealmaker when it comes to any kind of conversation," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Friday.

The meeting itself is tentatively set for May for a time and place the White House says is still to be determined.

It's unlikely the U.S. and North Korea will hammer out a nuclear deal at the meeting, said Bruce Klingner, senior research fellow for Northeast Asia at The Heritage Foundation.

"Supporters of the president will say he can use his business acumen to get what he wants, while others will say it's dangerous to go into this unscripted," Klingner said.

Trump's famous 1987 book, The Art of the Deal, lays out several points that could be applicable in making a deal with North Korea or other foreign adversaries.

1.  Walking Away

In 2011, Trump paraphrased his own book in a tweet.

"Know when to walk away from the table." The Art of the Deal

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 27, 2011

As a candidate, Trump strongly criticized President Barack Obama's administration for too eagerly seeking a nuclear deal with Iran. Many Republicans accused the Obama administration of wanting a deal too much and thus being unwilling to walk away.

In 2013, years away from ascending to the White House, Trump tweeted:

"The worst thing you can possibly do in a deal is seem desperate to make it." - The Art of The Deal.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 25, 2013

2.  Flexibility

In 2012, Trump also said flexibility is a key to success while negotiating.

"I also protect myself by being flexible. I never get too attached to one deal or one approach." - The Art of The Deal

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 18, 2012

Too much flexibility poses risks, Klingner said, citing how agreeable Trump was in meetings with members of Congress about immigration, as well as Trump's spring 2017 meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

He said the United States must determine a finite set of agenda items before the meeting to ensure it's more than a photo opportunity that would only elevate Kim.

"It is a very short deadline and the administration has a very thin bench of expertise on Korea," Klingner told The Daily Signal. "This is a very high-risk gamble. Perhaps it will be successful, but there will be a lot of nervous people outside the room."

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The White House and South Korea said in public statements Thursday that the North Korean government is willing to denuclearize and will suspend missile testing. It has also dropped its longstanding objections to U.S.-South Korean military exercises.

"The understanding, the message from the South Korean delegation, is they would denuclearize," Sanders told reporters Friday. "That is what our ultimate goal has always been and that will have to be part of the actions we see them take. We have to see concrete and verifiable actions take place."

3.  Leverage

Trump spoke with Xi of China on Friday, according to a readout from the White House, which said: "The two leaders welcomed the prospect of dialogue between the United States and North Korea, and committed to maintain pressure and sanctions until North Korea takes tangible steps toward complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization."

Sanders said the president's policies of increased sanctions and further support from allies has led to North Korea seeking the meeting.

"This maximum pressure campaign and this process has been ongoing since the president first took office," Sanders said. "For the first time in a long time, the United States is actually having conversations from a position of strength, not a position of weakness, like the one North Korea finds itself in, due to the maximum pressure campaign."

Citing his book in 2012, Trump tweeted:

"The best thing you can do is deal from strength, and leverage is the biggest strength you have." - THE ART OF THE DEAL

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 27, 2012

A month later, the future president tweeted:

"Leverage: don't make deals without it." - The Art of The Deal

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 28, 2012

4.  Confrontation

The announced meeting comes less than a year after the leaders appeared to threaten each other with a nuclear attack.

As Trump reminded his Twitter followers in 2012, his first book says:

"Much as it pays to emphasize the positive, there are times when the only choice is confrontation." - The Art of the Deal

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 16, 2012

Months ago, the president talked about "fire and fury" and called Kim "Little Rocket Man."

The Art of the Deal says: "Sometimes, part of making a deal is denigrating your competition."

If he is consistent with the book, the president will anticipate the possibility of a negative outcome of the conference, as The Art of the Deal says: "I always go into the deal anticipating the worst. If you plan for the worst -- if you can live with the worst -- the good will always take care of itself."


Fred Lucas is the White House correspondent for The Daily Signal and co-host of The Right Side of History podcast. Send an email to Fred.

Copyright 2018 The Daily Signal

Millennials Aren’t More Liberal on Gun Control Than Prior Generations, Polls Find

Mon, 03/12/2018 - 00:13

Millennials aren't more liberal on gun control than their parents or grandparents, according to recent polls. To the contrary, there's some evidence that gun control is supported less by people 30 and younger now than previous generations.

Gallup has been surveying adults under 30 for the past three years, and on average, they were just 1 percentage point more likely to support gun restrictions than the national average of 57 percent.

"Young people statistically aren't that much different than anybody else," Gallup Editor-in-Chief Frank Newport told NPR.

With millennials being more liberal on same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization, some might assume they would also be more liberal on gun control, but that was not the case. "Sometimes, people surprise us, and this is one of those instances that we don't know why," Newport said.

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A separate Pew Research Center poll found differences between millennials and the generations before them on two gun control proposals, outlawing "assault-style" weapons and banning magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. Both Republican and Democratic millennials are more conservative on these proposals and less likely to favor them than Generation Xers, baby boomers, and even members of the so-called "silent generation," those born between the mid-1920s and mid-1940s.

Additionally, support for gun control has gone down among younger people. According to the University of California at Los Angeles' annual CIRP survey, support for gun control has declined by about 10 percentage points for respondents born in 2000, compared with respondents born in the early 1980s.

Gallup also found that 66 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds said they think that concealed carry guns would make the U.S. safer, 10 percentage points higher than the national average of 56 percent.

Millennials are less likely to own guns than other generations, but they're much more likely to listen to pro-Second Amendment podcasts, Kim Parker, director of social trends research at the Pew Research Center, told NBC News.

She added: "Older people are saying they want guns for protection, but 18-to-29-year-olds are saying they're more into going shooting at a gun range."


Kyle Perisic is a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation.

Copyright 2018 The Daily Signal

Talks With North Korea: Good or Bad?

Mon, 03/12/2018 - 00:00

Last week was momentous. News that the American President would be meeting with the North Korean dictator "by May" hit the headlines like thunder. Never before has this happened. It is totally without precedent. And Trump is just the President to do it.

But was this news good news? For the moment, I think it is very good news. However, it comes with no slight danger.

On the good side -- it is clear that the "maximum pressure" policy of the United States and its allies has been having an effect. North Korea has suffered as a result of the toughest sanctions ever imposed upon it. Given that it was an extremely isolated country even before the sanctions makes this all the more significant. It isn't called "the Hermit Kingdom" for no reason. Its financial system has been deprived of any succor from the outside, its imports of oil from China, despite some exceptions, have gone down, etc. South Korean media reported several weeks ago that the North Korean regime was essentially bankrupt. Recall: the economy of South Korea is over a trillion dollars in size. The North Korean economy is only about $30 billion. When your people are starving, the margin of error is extremely small.

That puts Kim Jong Un in a tough position. The legitimacy of his regime, and its ability to remain stable and standing, depends on it being perceived as able to defend itself, and as being strong in the face of foreign "aggression." The fatal combination for North Korea is a people that is completely starved, and a military that no longer appears to be able to maintain the authority of the regime. During the great famine of the 1990's, the military prop held up the regime. Kim's family has bet that having a nuclear program as part of this military prop would maintain their power indefinitely as a deterrent against the West. But if you are bankrupt, having a nuclear program you can no longer develop doesn't serve that purpose.

Thus, here we are.

Momentous, but Not Without Dangers

It is a momentous development. But it does not come without its dangers. The Kim regime has lied over and over again. Whenever it has gained concessions from the West, either in the form of money, food, or even assistance in the development of "peaceful" nuclear power, it has reneged on every deal it has made. That remains a significant danger here, and we should not underestimate the willingness of the latest Kim to continue the modus operandi of all the previous Kims.

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Kim Jong Un has one interest -- remaining in power -- self-preservation. If he has any true interest in the "de-nuclearization of the Korean peninsula," it will no doubt be on the condition that not just he, but the United States itself remove its own nuclear weapons from the peninsula. It could even include a demand that the U.S. remove its own troops, which until now have served as the only viable deterrent against North Korean aggression toward South Korea since the Korean War of the 1950's. In any event, that would mean that the South would be on its own in defending against conventional North Korean military assets. That would be a bad and dangerous policy for the United States.

Likewise, Kim could simply be stalling for time. I was encouraged to hear the President insist that the "maximum pressure" policy would be maintained up to and during the talks. This is vital.

The stakes for these talks could not be higher. If they fail, we will likely be in an even more dangerous situation than we are now.

Praying in Hopeful Optimism

But, we shall see. In the short term, we can be justifiably optimistic. We are in unchartered territory, which by definition means this time could be different.

In the long term, however, we must be vigilant. A promise to talk is not a promise of peace. History shows such a notion to be false.

In the meantime, we can pray, we can advocate, we can monitor the North Koreans, and we can hope that when all of this is complete, we may hear "blessed are the peacemakers."

Gerber Baby Inspires Down Syndrome Abortion Bans Across the U.S.

Sun, 03/11/2018 - 23:31

Gerber Baby company chose a Down syndrome child for the new face of its 2018 campaign in early February, inspiring a number of states to create, push or pass legislation protecting unborn babies who will be born with Down syndrome.

"Every year, we choose the baby who best exemplifies Gerber's longstanding heritage of recognizing that every baby is a Gerber baby," Gerber president Bill Partyka said, announcing Lucas Warren as the 2018 Gerber baby, according to TODAY. "We're hoping this will impact everyone -- that it will shed a little bit of light on the special needs community and help more individuals with special needs be accepted and not limited," father Jason Warren told The Today Show. 

Meet the first Gerber baby with Down syndrome; his name is Lucas!

— TODAY (@TODAYshow) February 7, 2018

Since Lucas took center stage, Down syndrome abortion bans have been introduced in Oklahoma, Missouri, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Utah.

Utah is considering HB205 -- the Down Syndrome Nondiscrimination Abortion Act. The bill is intended to send a message of non-discrimination according to the measure's sponsor, Rep. Karianne Lisonbee, who claims it will prevent eugenic-like tendencies, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

Pro-Life Utah group member Kristy Nielsen likened people with Down syndrome to endangered animals, claiming it's ironic Utah protects animals and plants but won't do the same when "a targeted people group is in danger of extinction." 

Ohio has adopted House Bill 214, effectively banning doctors from aborting babies who test positive for Down syndrome. The law penalizes doctors who perform abortions on pregnant women with a positive test that their baby will have Down syndrome, but it does not fine or punish a woman who aborts her baby after receiving a positive test for the congenital disorder. Any doctor who performs an abortion on an unborn Down syndrome child will receive a fourth-degree felony charge under the law, The Associated Press reported.

Ohio's ban and other proposed bans have received significant backlash from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other groups, despite the largely positive reaction to Down syndrome abortion protections. "It's ironic that those who claim they believe in limited government are once again choosing to insert themselves in a relationship that is sacred between that practitioner and their patient," Ohio state Sen. Charleta Tavares said, according to

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Other parents who have raised children with Down syndrome oppose the ban. "I cannot do this again ... I did it. I'll be doing it for the rest of my life, but I can't do it again," Dawn Nunn, the mother of an adult son with a disability, tearfully told Utah lawmakers who are considering the measure.

The disabled community splits on the issue as well, with most celebrating the Gerber Baby campaign and Down syndrome abortion ban, while others feel protections will encourage discrimination because they single out Down syndrome persons as especially different.

France had a 77 percent termination rate and Denmark had a 98 percent termination rate for unborn Down syndrome babies as of 2015. Ninety percent of pregnant women with a positive Down syndrome test receive an abortion in the United Kingdom, according to the British Broadcasting Corporation

Mississippi lawmakers passed House Bill 1510 Thursday, which will ban women from having abortions after 15 weeks gestation unless the unborn baby is not expected to survive outside the womb or if continuing the pregnancy will jeopardize the woman's life. The bill will now head to Mississippi Republican Gov. Phil Bryant, who is expected to sign the measure into law.

No state currently bans abortion before 20 weeks of pregnancy. Twenty other states ban abortions after more than 20 weeks gestation. 


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Elizabeth Warren Says She’s Not Running for Prez in 2020

Sun, 03/11/2018 - 21:08

Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren said Sunday she is not going to run for president in 2020 but notably did not say whether she plans on serving out a full six-year Senate term if she is re-elected in November.

Warren appeared on NBC's Meet The Press with Chuck Todd Sunday to discuss President Donald Trump's upcoming meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jung Un, her recent bouts with members of her own party, and the possibility of a 2020 bid for the presidency.

"If you win re-election this year, are you going to pledge to serve a full six-year term?" Todd asked Warren on Sunday. 

"I am not running for president of the United States. I am running for the United States Senate 2018, Massachusetts," Warren said.

Warren is not running for president right now but dodged answering the question directly when pressed repeatedly if she would serve a full term. The Massachusetts senator is widely expected to run for the Democratic nominee for president in 2020 and is one of the party's biggest fundraisers this election cycle.

The senator did offer some vision for the Democratic Party going into 2020. It is of the utmost importance to secure protections for the roughly 800,000 young illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, known as DREAMers, Warren said. She also is urging her colleagues to fight against the 2010 Dodd Frank banking regulations' likely rollback.

"But let me actually make -- underline a point on this. We can't just be a party that says, 'we're paying attention about what happens every four years.' I know there's a lot of anxiety, particularly on the Democratic side, about how we are going to deal with Donald Trump in 2020," Warren said. 

"Right now, this week, the United States Senate is talking about a bill that will roll back protections. We've got the dreamers; we've got the tax bill that's gone through. We're still fighting to provide health care for everyone. We have now -- we should be having a gun debate on the floor of the United States Senate. It's not only about the election in 2018, where I think we do need to be laser focused. But it's about the fights every single day."

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Warren said she will continue to fight for the people of Massachusetts, and her focus will remain on pushing their agenda in Congress.

"I'm in those fights. That's where I'm focused," she added. 

The senator also dodged questions Sunday regarding Trump's nickname for her: Pocahontas.

"Look, this is what I was trying to tell you," Warren responded to CNN's Jim Acosta Sunday regarding the nickname. "It's about my family's story because my family's story is deeply apart of me and apart of my brothers. It's what we learned from our parents. It's what we learned from our grandparents; it's what we learned from our aunts and our uncles."

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The Boy Crisis, the Man of Strength, and the Bible

Sun, 03/11/2018 - 21:00

The other day, reading Rachel Alexander's article on the Boy Crisis, I had to ask myself, "Okay, then, what kind of person ought a boy become? What should a man be?" I came across an answer that same day in my devotional reading, in Psalm 45; a clear picture of a man of strength.

It's actually one of the clearest descriptions of ideal manhood I know of. Not everyone would like it, though, especially verses 3 and 5:

Gird Your sword upon Your thigh, O Mighty One, With Your glory and Your majesty. ... Your arrows are sharp in the heart of the King's enemies; The peoples fall under You.

Sounds pretty warlike to me. Who wants war? Who wants a man like that?

I convinced that question is one of the chief issues driving the "boy crisis." Other than athletics, contemporary society has very little use for competition and the use of physical strength. Some people even dream wistfully of a day when science has made men unnecessary for reproduction, and wouldn't the world be a better place without any men around at all?

If that sounds like a fringe view, consider that it's been set forth in The Washington Post, The Atlantic and The New York Times, and at ABC News.

Our "only hope as men," Watt supposes, may be that "women decide to keep us alive for their own amusement. For the pop music, perhaps, or maybe the dancing. We can be good at that."

Nick Watt, who wrote the article at ABC News, imagined the first effect of a world without men would be "sparsely populated sports bars, Ferrari would lose the lion’s share of its business, and Hooters would probably go out of business.” Probably, he thinks?

No doubt that much was meant tongue-in-cheek. I don’t think this was: "But would the absence of men make the world a better place? There would be far fewer wars without men on the planet, and the U.S. prison population would drop a colossal 97 percent. Road deaths in the U.S. would fall 70 percent."

Watt can't seem to find anything not to like about the idea. Our "only hope as men," Watt supposes, may be that "women decide to keep us alive for their own amusement. For the pop music, perhaps, or maybe the dancing. We can be good at that."

No wonder there's a boy crisis, with ideas like that floating around. The Bible takes a decidedly different view. Back to Psalm 45:

Gird Your sword upon Your thigh, O Mighty One, With Your glory and Your majesty. And in Your majesty ride prosperously because of truth, humility, and righteousness; And Your right hand shall teach You awesome things. Your arrows are sharp in the heart of the King's enemies; The peoples fall under You. Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom. You love righteousness and hate wickedness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.

That's not just pop music and dancing. Still it's not to say that this man can't handle the social graces, or even romance. The passage goes on,

All Your garments are scented with myrrh and aloes and cassia, Out of the ivory palaces, by which they have made You glad. Kings' daughters are among Your honorable women; At Your right hand stands the queen in gold from Ophir.

Yet he's a man who can fight. He's more than willing to strap on a sword for "truth, humility and righteousness."

Try finding that view of manhood in the Times. But it's a good one.

The Very Masculine Battle for Truth and Righteousness

Of course a man should also be a provider, a father and a teacher, but it's this warlike aspect of manhood that's most despised in certain quarters. Who wouldn't prefer a world with drastically fewer wars? God Himself is preparing a future when, as the old spiritual goes, we "ain't gonna study war no more."

For the present, though, there is something very good about men fighting the very masculine battle truth and righteousness. That fight doesn't have to be with swords; in fact only very rarely is it with any physical weapons at all. I'm 61 years old and I've got two chronically injured feet -- but I still want to stand strong as a warrior for biblical truth, and I intend to keep on with it as long as I'm able. Strong Christian men can do the same everywhere -- and they do, in the home, in the church and in the marketplace. Of course for some the battle really is with physical weaponry; and thank God for them, when their fight is for what's right.

That’s what God made us for. May we be strong for the battle.

Not Against Manhood But Against Evil

Now I expect by this point I'm raising hackles among some who want to remind me this fight for truth isn't strictly for males. Of course it isn't. It would be sexist for me to imply it was. But it's hardly more sexist than suggesting the world would be a dreamy, peaceful place with no men at all!

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Wars do not spring from manhood but from evil. The great old radio program The Shadow opened with the haunting question (you really must hear it), "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows." Yet The Shadow also knew there was evil in the hearts of women. Conflict among women may look different, but no one can realistically deny it's real.

The day will come when Jesus Christ -- of whom Psalm 45 is a prophetic picture -- will return to wage his final battle to eliminate all that stands against "truth, humility and righteousness." On that day all war will cease, not by defeating either manhood or womanhood, but by defeating evil. There will be redemption for those who have submitted their hearts to God in Jesus Christ, allowing Him to finally cleanse us of all evil, and judgement for those who refuse.

Until then, the point is neither to attack manhood nor womanhood, but to attack evil. Boys need to develop strength -- strength of body as well as strength of character -- because in the fight against evil, men need to exercise it. That’s what God made us for. May we be strong for the battle.

Our Culture is a Factory Producing Mass Killers. Closing the Factory Can Solve the Gun Debate

Sun, 03/11/2018 - 20:00

The gun debate has erupted once again. The two sides are entrenched in their respective positions, which have changed little over the decades. One side claims their right to keep and bear arms. The other sees all guns as violent and wants them outlawed.

But guns are not the real issue. This is a moral problem. What leads people to kill others is not the instrument -- anything can serve as an instrument of death. What is being done to prevent more people from committing immoral acts with guns? That’s the question we must ask. 

And when we ask it, three real problems present themselves: mental illness, frustrated young men, and the glorification of violence.

Dealing with Mental Illness

The first problem is dealing with those who are psychologically unbalanced. Many mass shooters belong to this group. America is full of unbalanced people. Some have explosive behaviors yet have been deinstitutionalized. Many of these more violent individuals are walking time bombs, waiting to go off.

There are already laws limiting access to guns in proven cases of violent mental illness. The main problem, however, are cases where violent mental illness is unproven. Where behavior ranges from acting strange to causing minor disturbances.

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Often these individuals make credible threats to others. But monitoring them seems impossible; there are simply too many mentally ill people out there. And there are so many types of media available to make these threats; no current system or budget can deal with them all. So it’s almost inevitable that people will escape the system and kill.

Dealing with Young Men Without Orientation

The second problem is with young men from broken families. These make up a good portion of mass shooters. America is full of frustrated young men in a culture that does much to suppress true masculinity. These young men are often on medication, socially immature and without any moral compass.

There may be millions of frustrated young men out there that could exhibit signs of unbalance. Once again, there is no way to find and treat them all. Many of them are isolated and anti-social. Some are only waiting for an opportunity to act on their resentment.

Dealing with a Culture that Glorifies Violence

Finally, America has a culture that glorifies violence -- especially gun violence -- in movies and video games. This culture is teaching children to kill. Impressionable young people become desensitized and come to view killing as normal. Video games develop the actual motor skills to point and shoot accurately at anything that moves.

Curiously no one calls for controlling violent movies and video games. Those in the entertainment establishment, who demand gun control, will never allow the guns in their movies and games to be controlled. Safe in gated communities, actors and actresses deny that their screen lives contribute to the violence destroying the nation.

Addressing Causes, Not Symptoms

Proposed solutions to these three problems usually don’t deal with the causes. They only address the symptoms exhibited by those who use guns to kill people.

People suggest ways of treating mental illness. However, they don’t take measures to prevent people from becoming unbalanced in the first place.

Proposed solutions to these three problems usually don’t deal with the causes. They only address the symptoms exhibited by those who use guns to kill people.

People suggest ways of detecting and monitoring frustrated young men. However, little is done to address the reasons why young men are frustrated, and fill the void by giving meaning and purpose to their lives. Millions of boys, for example, lack role models (or fathers) to challenge them and give them the psychological security they need.

The entertainment industry may suggest ways of limiting exposure to extreme violence by rating movies to exclude some age groups. However, what about the industry's lack of a real moral compass? Few insist upon entertainment standards that teach right and wrong to both young and old.

A Moral Problem

The first step toward solving the gun problem is acknowledging that this is a moral problem. There is no crazy gene that makes people kill. Yes, there are medical conditions that foster imbalance. But most killers have behavioral problems that involve moral decisions. They kill because they have acquired habits and behavior that disregard life and ignore good and evil. 

The second step is to admit that modern society is like a factory that mass produces mass killers. How? By shattering all the institutions, morals and norms that naturally prevent the making of monsters. When individuals are not morally anchored, they become more susceptible to imbalance and immoral behavior.

The family is no longer the primary and most important social unit, teaching boys to be gentlemen and girls to be ladies. Gone is the Christian community with its role models, who foster virtue, not violence. Suppressed is the influence of the Church that guides and teaches all to follow the natural law and strive ever higher toward sanctity.

When God is no longer welcome in the public square, it should be no surprise that immoral acts proliferate. There can be no moral order without God and His Church; secular efforts are doomed to fail.

Closing the Factory

The only way to stop the killing is to close the factory that produces mass killers. Anything else is an exercise in futility. This can only be done by returning to order, a Christian order that seeks to produce not monsters but saints.

And that is the problem. Society has decayed to such a point that people are reluctant to make the effort to return to order. Such a change will involve tough decisions in the family, business and practice of the Faith. These decisions can and should be made in individual families. However, most will prefer to ignore the problem and address the symptoms.

One thing is certain. As long as the factory remains open, there can be no peaceful solution. The only way to control an immoral person is by force. That force can be wielded by the State, which will employ ever more intrusive means upon all society to monitor and detain the criminals. That force can also be exercised by responsible citizens who sense the obligation to arm themselves against evil.

That is why the two sides remain entrenched in their positions. The debate is over which force will keep evil at bay -- the State or an armed citizenry. People rightly fear empowering the State to control more aspects of their lives. But if they want to avoid that outcome, they should remember the importance of the moral issue.

If the cultural factory that produces mass killers is closed, the gun control debate is emptied of its content. Guns would again be instruments of sport and security. Until that time, the gun war will rage on.


John Horvat II is a scholar, researcher, educator, international speaker, and author of the book Return to Order, as well as the author of hundreds of published articles. He lives in Spring Grove, Pennsylvania where he is the vice president of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property.

This Week at War: Angels in the Sky

Sun, 03/11/2018 - 13:00

American fighter jets pounded ISIS and Taliban positions all around Afghanistan this week. According to NATO, several terrorists were eliminated in airstrikes conducted in the Jowzjan, Kunar and Nangarhar provinces on March 3 and 4.

The article cites a specific airstrike in the Darzab district of Jowzjan province, which NATO said killed nine ISIS-affiliated fighters.

Thank you to our country’s angels in the sky for protecting U.S. and Afghan troops, as well as civilians on the ground. We are grateful for your precision, skill and sacrifice.


The third American service member to die this year during the ongoing U.S.-led campaign against ISIS was laid to rest on March 4 in Hutchison, Kansas. According to the Department of Defense, U.S. Army Sgt. Christina Marie Schoenecker, 26, died in Iraq on February 19 in “a non-combat related incident.” The Baghdad tragedy is currently being investigated by the U.S. military.

According to The Hutch Post, which covered the fallen soldier’s packed funeral service, Sgt. Schoenecker volunteered to serve in 2009. The article goes on to explain that “Tina,” as she was known to family and friends, was a tough soldier who “also had a soft spot in her heart for others.”

You can read Sgt. Christina Marie Schoenecker’s full obituary here. Please join The Stream in praying for this departed warrior’s loved ones and fellow soldiers.

Honoring the Fallen

I also wanted to spotlight the story of U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Jopek, who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq back in 2006. On Tuesday, according to WJFW-TV in Wisconsin, a local brewery named a new beer in honor of the fallen soldier. The Sawmill Brewery is located in the soldier’s hometown of Merrill, Wisconsin.

“The whole community came together to make this a reality for a fallen solider, which is amazing,” Chris Burger, a brewer who once served alongside Staff Sgt. Jopek, told WJFW.

I interviewed Staff Sgt. Jopek’s father, Brian, in 2013. As you can read about here, the father was actually deployed to Iraq when his son volunteered for Army service. In a tragic irony, Ryan was not old enough to legally consume a beer when he was killed in action on Aug. 2, 2006, by an enemy improvised explosive device near Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit.

Thank you to The Sawmill Brewery for helping to keep this fallen hero’s selfless legacy alive.

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Coming Home

It’s hard to imagine your loved one risking his or life in a foreign country. For the last several months at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, 150 military families of U.S. Army paratroopers were wondering, worrying and praying as their husbands, wives, sons and daughters served in Afghanistan.

On March 4, the long wait finally came to an end when 150 hero Devil Brigade warriors came home as part of a wave of 82nd Airborne Division soldiers returning from Afghanistan in the coming weeks. As the below photo demonstrates, almost no feeling can match knowing that your hero has returned safely from a war zone.

U.S. Army paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division’s Devil Brigade return to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, from Afghanistan on March 4, 2018.

Welcome home, heroes!


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

Senate ‘Loan’ Bill is a Poorly Disguised Bailout for Private Pensions

Sun, 03/11/2018 - 12:45

Making loans to private individuals or entities has no foundation in the Constitution, but that doesn't stop government from using lending to encourage desirable behaviors, such as investing in a college education or buying a home.

But one proposal before Congress, introduced at the urging of private-sector unions and employers, goes further, calling for taxpayers to make loans to private, union-run pension plans.

These would not be any ordinary loans, either. Instead, they would be taxpayer bailouts under the guise of government loans.

Policymakers should ask: What desirable behavior is being encouraged here? Do we want government to encourage private employers and unions to promise workers more than they can afford and then fail to set aside the money necessary to meet those promises? Because that's exactly what this proposal would do -- encourage the same reckless behavior that contributed to the $500 billion shortfall faced by roughly 1,300 multiemployer pension plans today.

Unlike loans made in the private sector, which happen only where a legitimate expectation of repayment (and a risk-compensating interest rate) can be established, loans to insolvent pension plans would have a high expectation of default.

The Butch Lewis Act -- a proposal to bail out private-sector pensions through loans as well as direct cash assistance -- acknowledges the high probability of default by stipulating that pension plans that have trouble repaying their loans after 30 years of interest-only payments will be eligible for forgiveness or alternative repayment plans.

A loan with a zero-consequence default option for the borrower is not a loan -- it's a bailout.

But it's not just defaults that taxpayers need to be concerned about. There's also the cost of providing highly subsidized, low- or no-interest loans for 15 to 30 years, as well as the risk that plans will increase -- rather than decrease -- their unfunded liabilities over the course of their loans.

These features could lead to loans to insolvent pension plans costing taxpayers more than direct cash bailouts.

But those costs won't be apparent in the official government score because the Congressional Budget Office is required to score loans under the assumption that insolvent pension plans are essentially riskless borrowers.

In reality, loans to insolvent pension plans could cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars. The most liberal proposals -- which supplement loans with direct cash assistance -- could cost more than the entirety of multiemployer pensions' half-trillion-dollar shortfall.

That's because bailouts would encourage even healthy pension plans to overpromise and underfund benefits, leaving taxpayers with the tab. A bailout for private, union-run pensions would signal the federal government's willingness to also bail out state and local government pensions, which would encourage them to continue the practices that contributed to their current $6 trillion funding shortfall.

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Advocates rely on two misleading arguments to convince policymakers of the need for a federal bailout.

First, they claim that helping private pension plans themselves will save taxpayers money by preventing the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., an independent federal government agency, from becoming insolvent.

But this corporation is not a taxpayer-financed entity, so taxpayers are not on the hook for its shortfalls. Furthermore, covering 100 percent of private pensions' promises through loans or bailouts cannot cost more than covering only a portion of them through the corporation.

Second, private unions and employers seeking pension bailouts argue that the economic contagion effects of pension failures would be tremendous -- in other words, that union-run pensions are too big to fail.

Those estimates are not only massively overstated (implying, as much as a 50-for-1 return on pensions bailouts), but they completely ignore one side of the equation -- a dollar taken from a future taxpayer is no less valuable than a dollar not received in pension benefits today.

Coping with roughly $500 billion in private union pensions' unfunded promises will not be easy. There are ways to minimize losses to workers who have earned pension benefits and protect taxpayers from paying for private pensions' broken promises.

Policymakers should look to improve the solvency of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.'s multiemployer program through premium increases and other reforms; end union pensions' preferential treatment; enact and enforce sound funding rules; hold pension trustees liable for financial decisions; act sooner rather than later to enact needed reforms, including benefit reductions; and explicitly prohibit federal pension bailouts.

None of these actions provide a costless cure-all, but they offer more fair and rational solutions that don't treat taxpayers as guarantors of private-sector promises or set the stage for even more mismanagement and reckless behavior.


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