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NSA: Several Hospitalized After Vehicle Tried to Enter

Wed, 02/14/2018 - 13:54

FORT MEADE, Md. (AP) -- An unauthorized vehicle tried to enter the secure campus of the National Security Agency at Fort Meade on Wednesday morning, sparking a confrontation that left three people injured, authorities said.

Gunshots were fired during the incident, but officials said they did not believe any of the injuries resulted from gunfire.

At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Gordon Johnson, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Baltimore field office, said the FBI was still collecting evidence but believes it was an isolated incident.

“I cannot emphasize enough that we believe there is no indication that this has a nexus to terrorism,” Johnson told reporters gathered at a parking lot next to the National Cryptologic Museum.

Johnson said the three injured were the driver of the vehicle, an NSA police officer and a civilian onlooker. He would not give any details about how they were injured or who opened fire.

Two other people who were in the vehicle have been taken into custody and were being questioned, Johnson said. The injuries suffered by the police officer and the onlooker did not appear to be life threatening, he said. He did not have any information about the driver’s injuries.

The incident began when the vehicle tried to enter the spy agency’s campus without authorization around 7 a.m., the NSA said in a statement. The statement said weapons were fired but “preliminary reports do not presently indicate that there are injuries attributable to gunfire.”

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The FBI is leading the investigation.

Images from local news outlets showed authorities surrounding two handcuffed people after a black SUV ran into a barrier outside the Maryland base.

Johnson said the vehicle had New York license plates and he believed it was a rental car. He said he did not know why the people in the vehicle were at the facility.

“I don’t have the answer to that that,” he said. “We are trying to put that as our question one as to what put these individuals on this compound earlier this morning.”

President Donald Trump has been “briefed on the shooting at Ft. Meade,” and the White House offered thoughts and prayers with those who have been affected, spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said.

An image taken from a WRC-TV helicopter showed the police and fire department response outside the facility. WRC said bullet holes could be seen in the vehicle’s front window, and air bags were deployed. Blood-stained material could be seen on the ground.

After the shooting, authorities closed a major highway in both directions, causing major backups throughout the area during rush hour.

Despite prominent highway signs, drivers occasionally take the wrong exit and end up at the tightly secured gates. Most motorists then carefully follow the orders of heavily armed federal officers and turn around without getting into more trouble.

But in early 2015, two people were shot at by NSA police when they disobeyed orders outside the heavily secured campus. One driver died at the scene after NSA police opened fire on a stolen sports utility vehicle. Authorities later said they had stolen a car from a man who picked them up for a party at a motel.

 

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

Shaun White Wins 3rd Olympic Gold in Contest for the Ages

Wed, 02/14/2018 - 13:10

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) -- Snowboarding at the Olympics turned 20 this year, and there’s a good chance that in another two decades, people will still be talking about the contest that went down in the mountains of South Korea on Wednesday.

They will definitely still be talking about Shaun White.

It wasn’t so much that White won his third gold medal to place his name among the greatest to compete in the Olympics, or in any realm of sports, for that matter.

It was the way he did it.

His winning run capped a contest that, even before he dropped in for the finale, was the best, in terms of pure difficulty, showmanship and guts that has ever been seen on a halfpipe.

It came with the heart-thumping pressure of knowing he had to land the most difficult run he ever attempted, or settle for silver.

It included back-to-back jumps, each with 1440 degrees of spin, that are, quite literally, death-defying. They were tricks White said afterward that he had never landed in succession -- not in practice and, of course, never in a contest.

“I knew I had it in me,” he said. “The fear was out of the door. I’m at the Olympics. I had to do it. I’m standing at the top, in my favorite position, with the pressure of the world and one run to go. Man, it brings out the best in me. I’m so glad that’s a part of me as a competitor.”

On the winning trip, White got the tough stuff out of the way early, dropping straight into the halfpipe, flying nearly 20 feet above it and whipping his body around twice while going head-over-heels two times for the first 1440. He landed high enough on the wall to gather sufficient speed to travel to the other side and essentially do a mirror image of the first trick.

From there, it was simply a matter of staying upright.

He performed what’s known as the Sky Hook -- a 20-foot vault above the deck in which he bent himself into the shape of a comma, while grabbing the board and tweaking it up toward his backside to show judges the style they demand. His final trick was one he patented: the Double McTwist 1260, in which he took off from the wall for two flips with 1 1/2 twists, grabbing the board and practically wrestling it over his head to complete the jump and stick the landing.

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He knew he’d done it, but the wait -- about 120 seconds -- was agonizing.

“I was trying not to make eye-contact with the judges,” White said.

The score came up. A 97.75. It was enough to beat Ayumu Hirano, the 5-foot-2, 19-year-old from Japan who has been asked, quite often, exactly when he was going to beat Shaun White.

Australian Scotty James, who made news at the start of the games by complaining about judging, finished third with a run that included three double-cork 1260s; it was a performance that would’ve won all but a handful of all the contests ever held up through last December.

But it was Hirano, who now has back-to-back Olympic silvers, who set the stakes for these games by becoming the first man to land the back-to-back 14s at the Winter X Games last month. He did it again on his second run under a slate-gray sky in Pyeongchang to set the mark (95.25) that White would have to beat.

White did it.

Shortly after his winning score came up to make him the winner of America’s 100th Winter Games gold medal, White was hugging friends and family and sobbing, almost uncontrollably. It was the sort of emotion rarely seen from the man who burst onto the scene as the ebullient redhead shredder dude, then grew into a multi-platform megastar whose light cascades well beyond any halfpipe.

White would be the first to admit that a lot of that fame came because of the Olympics. So the win wasn’t so hard to put into perspective.

“It means everything to me,” he said.

It means everything because of the journey that essentially began Feb. 12, 2014 -- the day after an overwrought, frenzied trip to the Sochi Games ended in a fourth-place finish that left many people, including White himself, wondering if he wanted to do this anymore.

He decided ‘Yes,’ and changed up everything -- coach, sponsors, PR. He put his guitar-playing career on hold at around the time one of the band members sued him for sexual harassment (The suit has since been settled, and when asked about it Wednesday night, he called it “gossip” and said “I’m proud of who I am.”) and tried to rediscover a love for his sport that had gone lacking.

He found it, and was revving up the tricks to get him back to the top, when he bashed his face on the side of the halfpipe during a training run in New Zealand. He still has stitches in his tongue from the accident.

“He ripped his face in half, more or less, and you can still see the scars,” said White’s coach, JJ Thomas. “And I don’t know if anyone else in this world has the mental strength to overcome that fear and lay it down on the world stage.”

The debate is now on about where White, now 31, stands in the pantheon of Olympic stars, or sports stars in general.

Even with the tantalizing prospect of him heading to the Summer side for skateboarding’s debut in 2020, then possibly returning to Winter in 2022, he’ll never match the nine gold medals Usain Bolt collected, the 28 overall amassed by Michael Phelps or the 13 that cross-country skier Ole Einar Bjoerndalen of Norway has won.

Then again, White only gets one event in which to shine. And he puts his life on the line every time he steps into the arena.

“As an athlete, to see a human being accomplish everything that’s expected of him, it’s insane,” said Jake Burton, the snowboard maker and one of the sport’s founding fathers.

Nobody has been harder on himself over the years than White. But after headlining a day on the halfpipe that won’t soon be forgotten, he was in no mood to argue.

“I’m really proud of myself, which is something I never say,” he said. “This meant the world to me.”

___

More AP Olympic coverage: https://wintergames.ap.org

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

Mardi Gras Marred as 3 Killed, 5 Wounded in New Orleans

Wed, 02/14/2018 - 12:56

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- A festive close to Mardi Gras was marred by shootings across New Orleans that left three people dead and five others wounded.

The first two shootings happened in the afternoon, when fights broke out near the traditional parade route.

Deputy Police Superintendent Paul Noel said one man was shot in the head and was in critical condition, while a juvenile boy was in stable condition with a leg wound. Another man shot during a separate fight, and died of two apparent bullet wounds after being rushed to the hospital, Police Chief Michael Harrison said.

The third shooting began as people celebrated late into the evening at a house party in the Lower 9th Ward, about two miles from the parade route. Witnesses described a fusillade of bullets.

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Police spokeswoman Ambria Washington said multiple suspects opened fire on a car with five people inside. The gunfire shattered its windows, flattened its front tires and left more than a dozen bullet holes in the driver’s door.

The driver managed to drive to a nearby gas station before two of them died from their wounds. Arriving officers strung up police tape to keep crowds away. At that scene and outside the family home of some of the victims a few blocks away, mourners were still wearing festive Mardi Gras shirts and hats.

 

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

‘Anglo-American Heritage’ is a Sheep-Dog Whistle. It Only Scares Wannabe Wolves

Wed, 02/14/2018 - 12:20

Charles Cooke at National Review has patiently dismantled the really stupid parts of this controversy. As he points out, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions referred to our "Anglo-American heritage" he was talking about sheriffs. Which come from England. As part of our heritage. Here in America. Cooke scrupulously dug up speeches where that (presumably) anti-Latino dog-whistle was blown by ... Barack Obama. Cooke cited law books and other references to note that the phrase is neutral. Even ... factual. And facts are stubborn things.

But they're also inert things. They can't defend themselves. And when they're stupidly handled, they can turn into bludgeons and truncheons. The left loses nothing by picking up the poor helpless facts here and trying to turn them into another "racist" controversy. At worst, their trick gets exposed, and everybody moves on. They throw a different piece of spaghetti at the wall, and watch to see who salutes it. Rinse and repeat.

Slandering Jeff Sessions Was Just the Appetizer

I don't in fact believe that any of the lawmakers, journalists, or activists who complained about "Anglo-American heritage" believed that it targeted immigrants. Or grandchildren of non-Anglo immigrants, with Habsburg subject surnames like "Zmirak." On the surface, they were just looking to score cheap political points by lying about an honorable man, Jeff Sessions. All they wanted to do was smear his good name with one of the three most hateful epithets in today's value system: "racist." (They couldn't find a way to make "Anglo-American" a dog-whistle for "rapist" or "pedophile," but give the stupid-but-clever folks time.) That's all.

But dig a little deeper here. In fact, let's go down to the core. The "Anglo-American heritage" refers to a lot more than quaint titles like "Sheriff" or annoyances like jury duty. It taps into values, institutions, and traditions that benefit more than a billion people around the world -- from the USA to India, from Kenya to Hong Kong. Many of them don't speak English, but they are mostly thankful for the legal principles and precedents of English Common Law. For things like:

The right to remain silent. And the right to an attorney. The right to bear arms and defend yourself. And the right to have an attorney provided for you if you cannot afford one. The presumption of innocence. The adversarial system of justice (as opposed to the aptly named "inquisitorial" system). Protections against invasive searches at home. Equality before the law. Firm, clear property rights immune to arbitrary seizure. Freedom of speech, except for slander, libel, and incitements to violence. The free exercise of religion. Freedom of assembly. The Blessings of the Anglosphere

The list could go on and on. None of the countries in what Daniel Hannan calls the Anglosphere is perfect. But contrast them with nations which never had Common Law, and you'll begin to be grateful too. As Hernando de Soto proved in The Mystery of Capital, the single biggest common factor in global poverty is lack of secure property rights. Billions of people outside the Anglosphere can't secure their small businesses or even their homes against seizure.

Look at the EU countries where political speech is criminalized if it offends the governing oligarchs. Such "hate speech"regulation has even begun to infect the U.K., Canada, and Australia. We're still a little shy in the U.S. about imprisoning opponents of mass immigration or sharia. We're probably one presidential election away. Elect another progressive Democrat, and watch the judges he appoints bring us "in line" with such "international norms." The Constitution be damned.

The "Anglo-American heritage" refers to a lot more than quaint titles like "Sheriff" or annoyances like jury duty. It taps into values, institutions, and traditions that benefit more than a billion people around the world -- from the USA to India, from Kenya to Hong Kong.

Of course, I haven't even mentioned the long list of countries with Islamic or socialist legal traditions, where individual freedom isn't even a central value. Just like those ancient city-states where every person was treated as merely a cell of the greater organism, in such lands despotic clergy or fake philosopher kings treat the people as clay to be molded. Archbishop Sanchez Sorondo has made his sympathies clear, praising Communist China as a better model of “Catholic social teaching” than the United States. 

Who Complains About “Legalism”? The Lawless, of Course. 

The left here at home has long resented Anglo-American jurisprudence and Common Law. Radicals try to "expose" it as the tool of hegemonic classes. Feminists claim that abstract norms are the fruit of "patriarchal" abstraction. They call for a "feminine" model that leaves judges free to rule arbitrarily, whenever that advances "social justice."

Anyone who complains about legalism is a wannabe tyrant.

It's a firm rule of thumb: Anyone who complains about legalism and abstract norms is a wannabe tyrant who finds the fact of rights, laws, principles, and historic norms too constraining. Those are speed-bumps that slow down and frustrate the use of government power. That's why we should love them. And why petty despots wish to tear them down.

A new book by a professor at Notre Dame, Patrick Deneen, condemns the classical liberalism that grew out of the Anglo-American heritage as deeply defective. Too individualistic, too centered on the claims of citizens, not those of the community. For him it's an atomistic model that was inevitably going to end up yielding decisions like Roe v. Wade, whatever our Founders intended. So we Christians must give up on the American founding and hope somehow, at some point, to refound something else -- presumably on pre-modern, illiberal principles.

Other scholars such as Robert Reilly have answered Deneen on the details. (Seriously go read these two essays by Reilly.) The rich religious heritage of the Anglo-American tradition is much more than the ideas of Hobbes or Locke, lined up like falling dominoes.

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The Poison of Post-Christian Americanism

That's not to say that Anglo-American liberalism is free of dangers. It's the most humane political system ever to grow up on earth. I would fight to my last bullet before living under any other arrangement. But such liberalism can be toxic, too, when stripped of its context and history. Judges can read it selectively, as they did in decisions like Roe v. Wade and Obergefell v. Hodge. If judges strip off the natural law, religious, and cultural assumptions which let us order liberty, of course they will generate chaos. The results will splinter the family, cripple civic institutions such as churches, and indeed turn us all into naked atoms, whirling around the nucleus of a hungry, expanding State.

But you could pervert any system, once you've corrupted its judges and severed it from its traditions. What cleared the way for this corruption in our case? Reducing the rich, culturally specific and Christian Anglo-American heritage to a few abstract planks in a platform. We slimmed down the Anglo-American way to an ideology for export during the Cold War. Then we hacked away at it further to make it less imposing for immigrants. We did so out of a kind of snobbish queasy-mindedness. Intellectuals feel in their element defending ideologies and abstractions. Ask them to stand up for old traditions, peculiar customs, and even the details of sacred history, and they start to mumble.

God Is in the Details

A few greats stand out as exceptions. Really serious thinkers see past the facile attraction of geometrical thinking in ideological soundbites. (See Edmund Burke, Wilhelm Ropke, Russell Kirk, and yes, Patrick Buchanan.) They look with reverence at the quirky details of the Magna Carta. Or the Swiss Confederation. They treasure the slow, organic growth of Common Law at the hands of thousands of nameless judges over centuries. They know that liberty can only last if it's ordered, and that only tradition and institutions can do that job. Trash those traditions, corrupt those institutions, or too quickly replace the population of a country with alien newcomers, and liberty turns to chaos.

The tyrants smile at that, and hiss: "We knew this would happen. …" And then they step forward to measure us for our fetters.

The Strange Email of Susan Rice; the Strange Case of Michael Fynn

Wed, 02/14/2018 - 12:00

The road to the truth in what happened in the Russia collusion investigation of Donald Trump has already taken many twists and turns. Yesterday, it stopped in front of a fun house starring two national security advisers.

First, on her way out the door Inauguration Day Susan Rice wrote herself a long email that has Republican Senators scratching their heads.

There’s more head scratching with Rice’s successor Gen. Michael Flynn. Reports confirm Flynn was charged (and pleaded guilty) to lying to the FBI even after the FBI determined he hadn’t lied.

Rice Travels Back in Time to Protect Obama?

If anyone knows how to run interference for President Obama, it’s Susan Rice. It was Rice who went on five national shows the Sunday after the Benghazi terrorist attack to sell the notion that it was a spontaneous protest caused by an internet video. The unfortunate director went to jail. Rice got promoted to National Security Adviser.

Minutes after her gig ended at noon Inauguration Day 2017, Rice decided to write herself an email. In it she describes a January 5 meeting in the Oval Office with Obama, Joe Biden, FBI director James Comey and then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates.

President Obama began the conversation by stressing his continued commitment to ensuring that every aspect of this issue is handled by the Intelligence and law enforcement communities 'by the book.’ The president stressed that he is not asking about, initiating or instructing anything from a law enforcement perspective. He reiterated that our law enforcement team needs to proceed as it normally would by the book.

Rice’s attorney insisted to Fox News there was “nothing ‘unusual'” about Rice “memorializing an important discussion for the record.”

The first obvious question is, “If it was that important, why wait until your office is packed and the car’s running outside?”

However, crucial, in light of what has been revealed in recent weeks, is the extent Rice goes to emphasize how much Obama wanted everything done “by the book.” If true, why would he feel the need to say it? Why would she feel the need to record that 16 days after the fact. And repeat it?

The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

Sen. Lindsay Graham, whose Senate Judiciary Committee uncovered the email, is also curious. “I think that’s odd and disturbing because we know the investigation regarding the Trump campaign was anything by the book.”

Graham wants to know if Comey discussed with Obama the discredited Steele-dossier which became the basis for much of the activity against Trump.

Rice’s attorney insisted the dossier didn’t come up. Yet the very next day, January 6, James Comey was briefing President-Elect Trump on that very dossier. Does that sound plausible it hadn’t been discussed in the meeting the day before?

After all, according to text from FBI lawyer Lisa Page, Obama had wanted to know “everything we were doing.”

Rice’s line, “The president stressed that he is not asking about, initiating or instructing anything from a law enforcement perspective,” is also odd. It sounds like an inoculation against those who may accuse Obama of obstructing justice. “See, the President made clear he wasn’t interfering and wanted things done by the book!”

Yeah, and in A Few Good Men Colonel Jessup ordered Cpr. Santiago not to be touched. (Before secretly ordering the “Code Red” that got Santiago killed.) America, we can handle the truth.

Flynn Didn’t Lie?

Special Counsel Robert Mueller charged Gen. Michael Flynn with lying to the FBI. Flynn pled guilty in November. However, it’s now known that Peter Strzok, who interrogated Flynn, didn’t think he lied about anything. And James Comey also said the FBI concluded Flynn was truthful during the interview. So why plead guilty?

Andrew McCarthy breaks down the Flynn mystery. Either Flynn did lie, didn’t have the money for a legal fight or they were threatening to go after his son.

But that’s not what’s intriguing. Flynn’s judge at the time was Rudolph Contreras.

Mysteriously, just days after taking Flynn's plea, Judge Contreras recused himself from the case. The press has been remarkably uncurious about this development.

No reason was given for the judge being moved off the case. However, Contreras is a FISA court judge and likely granted one of the warrants against Carter Page that as a practical matter allowed the FBI/DOJ to spy on Trump campaign officials. Officials like Flynn.

What’s more, according to McCarthy, the new judge Emmet G. Sullivan is issuing orders that suggest the guilty plea may not be long for this world. He ordered Mueller to provide Flynn any evidence in his possession favorable to Flynn, whether on the issue of guilt or sentencing. Even if Mueller thinks it’s not material, he has to prove to the judge it shouldn’t be handed over.

What caught McCarthy’s eye is that in the original plea Flynn had to waive “the right to any further discovery or disclosures of information not already provided.”

It certainly appears that Sullivan's order supersedes the plea agreement and imposes on the special counsel the obligation to reveal any and all evidence suggesting that Flynn is innocent of the charge to which he has admitted guilt.

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An important note to remember. Flynn got on the FBI/DOJ radar only because someone in the Obama administration unmasked and illegally leaked his name after a conversation he had with the Russian ambassador was captured by U.S. intelligence.

Common Denominators

Susan Rice now admits she unmasked Trump campaign officials, but denies having anything to do with the Flynn leak. Of course, she initially denied knowing anything about the unmasking of Trump officials.

However, there’s more than unmasking and Russia that tie Flynn and Rice together. It’s former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates.

It was McCabe who, along with Sally Yates, set Flynn up. He’s the one who arranged the meeting that Flynn thought was routine but that turned out to be a criminal interrogation. He’s also the one who reportedly said to FBI colleagues, “First we (expletive) Flynn. Then we (expletive) Trump.”

It was Andrew McCabe who, with Yates … was in the January 5 meeting. For that matter, it was Andrew McCabe who told FBI agents to stand down the night of Benghazi and told another supervisor agent to blame the video, not terrorists even though the agent had already determined al-Qaeda involvement.

As for Yates, she told the dramatic story of how she had marched up to the White House to warn that Flynn was vulnerable to blackmail. Why? Because he had misrepresented his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. They had the transcripts and knew what Flynn had told the FBI.

Yet, we now know what she knew: That -- according to Peter Strzok, the top counter-terrorism expert who interviewed Flynn and had zero motive to help Trump -- Gen. Michael Flynn had told the truth.

So much for “by the book.”

Everyone Wants a Happy Valentine’s Day, but Fewer are Willing to Do What It Takes

Wed, 02/14/2018 - 10:00

The New York Times recently reported on Yale's most popular class: Psyc 157 -- "Psychology and the Good Life." The course, taught by Dr. Laurie Santos, "tries to teach students how to lead a happier, more satisfying life." It "focuses both on positive psychology -- the characteristics that allow humans to flourish, according to Dr. Santos -- and behavioral change, or how to live by those lessons in real life."

Happiness is a universal human desire, and Psyc 157 seems to be responding to this common longing on the part of university students. Dr. Santos teaches her class that a happier life results from developing "good habits … like students showing more gratitude, procrastinating less, [and] increasing social connections." But she may be missing something far more important to long-term happiness: marriage.

Marriage and Happiness

On the same day the New York Times described Dr. Santos' happiness class, the Wall Street Journal summarized a U.K. study which found that married people are happier than unmarried people, even when these unmarried people are living together.

The study, published in December 2017 in the Journal of Happiness Studies, also found, unsurprisingly, that the better the relationship between spouses (the closer the connection and the more loving the interaction), the happier and more satisfying the results.

As the Wall Street Journal reports, "a close marital bond spurs long-term happiness. People who named their spouse as their best friend were twice as happy as those who didn't."

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This seems to complement prior studies describing married men as happier than single men, and reporting married people as healthier, wealthier and more satisfied. In fact, one study found married people have lower cortisol levels (a stress hormone). They are therefore are less likely to have heart problems, decreased immunity, diabetes or cancer. Married people are even more likely to survive cancer, should they contract the disease.

Happy, committed marriages result in happier, healthier people, and spouses aren't the only ones who benefit. In virtually every metric by which we measure healthy, well-adjusted children, kids do better when raised by two biological parents in a low-conflict setting.

Studies consistently show that children raised by happy, committed parents are less likely to have behavior problems, drop out of school, be abused, use drugs, commit crime, become pregnant as teenagers, suffer poverty or become sick. Good marriages create happy spouses and provide the best possible environment in which humans "flourish," and this includes young humans.

God-Centered Marriages

Universities like Yale will have to teach more than "good habits" like "showing more gratitude, procrastinating less, [and] increasing social connections," unless the increased "social connection" they're teaching is marriage. That may be a bit of a challenge, given the declining interest in marriage today.

Studies reveal that "millennials" are far less likely to marry than their "Gen X" or "Boomer" counterparts. If they do marry, it's much later in life. The number of people who cohabitate without marrying at all is on the rise. Fewer and fewer people want to formalize their relationships with a marriage license.

Most couples who identify themselves as "very happy" agree with the statement, "God is at the center of our marriage."

So, while it's tempting to teach students better time management skills and social strategies, it's far more effective to simply teach them about the benefits of marriage. If you're a Christian, you already know this valuable truth. Christians are more likely to marry than non-Christians. Recent research reveals that most couples who identify themselves as "very happy" agree with the statement, "God is at the center of our marriage."

Additionally, married couples who attend church together are more likely to live longer, avoid depression and stay married. Maybe that's why studies also reveal that Christians are the "happiest among all faith groups."

So, as we say, "Happy Valentine's Day" to our loved ones this year, maybe it's time to remind ourselves of the connection between happiness and marriage. This timeless, traditional institution continues to guarantee the highest levels of happiness -- for both spouses and the children who may eventually grow up and attend universities like Yale.

 

J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and the author of books for parents and children, including Cold-Case Christianity, Cold-Case Christianity for Kids, God's Crime Scene, God's Crime Scene for Kids and Forensic Faith.

Training for Reigning

Wed, 02/14/2018 - 10:00

Romans 5:17, "For if by one man's offense death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ."

Someone called the 5th chapter of the book of Romans, "The Chapter of the Five Kings."

In it we see King Sin, for Sin reigned. There is King Death, for "Death reigned." There is King Grace, for Grace reigned. There is King Jesus, for we reign by One, Jesus Christ. Then, as a consequence, you have kingly believers, for "they which receive abundance of grace shall reign in life."

Great numbers of commentators infer that the reign spoken of in Romans 5:17 is with Jesus during the Millennium. Others teach that believers will reign in Heaven, the Sweet By-and-By. The deduction from these interpretations is that we can't expect much in this life.

The overall impression is that until Jesus returns, we will not do any ruling, except to a degree over our own lives. The devil, evil men, sin, sickness, poverty, fear, and bondage is still running the affairs of history. Believers will be the tail and not the head until they finally fly away into Heaven. But that's not what the Bible teaches.

I am well aware that the statement "shall reign in life" has been misinterpreted and misapplied by many in the so called "prosperity gospel" camp. However, the far greater error, in my humble opinion, is to embrace the theology of the old gospel hymn and live as if all we can do and expect is "just a few more weary days and then we'll fly away."

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It is God's will that we followers of Christ reign in this life. What does this mean? Does reigning in life mean problem free living? No. It means that even in the midst of trials, troubles, and temptations we can have victory and not become victims. We can be overcomers instead of being overcome by circumstances. Reigning in life doesn't happen automatically. It requires never-ending training from God's School of Life where we learn from on the job experiences.

God's rule and reign comes through His grace and the gift of His righteousness. This kind of life is above the natural plane. It is the essence of life that God Himself enjoys. The Greek word translated "life" is "zoe." This is God-kind of life. It is the same kind of life that raised the dead body of Jesus, lifting Him above sin and death. This life is infused into the person who, by faith, receives Christ as their life and righteousness!

Commentator F. Godet comments on the phrase, "reign in life”:

Contrasted to the phrase "reign of death," the expression denotes the mode or nature of the reign of believers. A new, holy, inexhaustible, and victorious vitality will pervade those receivers of righteousness, and make them so many kings. If the collective condemnation could make each of them a subject of death, the conclusion from this should be that their individual justification will make each of them a king in life.

Death reigned in the past, but for the believer life controls the future.

Realistically, "reigning in life" as declared in Romans 5:17 isn't the experience of most Christians. Why? It isn't because of lack in desire or effort, but lack of appreciating and appropriating the grace of God.

To receive the abundance of grace is to reign in life. Grace gives the ability to reign over sin. "For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace" (Romans 6:14). The awareness of being made righteous through Jesus results in love shed abroad in our heart, and with the government on the shoulders of King Jesus, we have peace with God, and peace results in joy.

Becoming a child of God by the miracle of the "new birth" automatically makes one a citizen of the kingdom of heaven. This also results in our becoming co-partners and co-rulers in the Family Firm of Almighty and Sons. Your spiritual birth into this Royal Family automatically enrolls you in the on-the-job-training-for-reigning program in the University of Kingdom Enterprises Unlimited.

This "kingdom of heaven" the Scriptures frequently references is first eternal. Then it becomes internal in us. And then external through us. The kingdom of heaven is about righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). And the experience of this life isn't just for internal enjoyment, but for external employment whereby we reign as kings in life. In other words, Holy Spirit anointing will first establish God's kingdom reign in us and then extend it through us.

The fundamental flaw and leading failure of the Church of the Living God today is denying, diluting, or distorting the preeminent message of the present and pervasive reality of the kingdom of God. As a result, people in general, and young men in particular, are left with a pie-in-the-sky type faith that leaves them with no vision, no God-given vocation other than becoming a pastor, preacher or priest, and no victory to be expected until Jesus returns and slices and dices all rebels against His kingdom to everlasting destruction.

To receive the abundance of grace is to reign in life. Grace gives the ability to reign over sin. "For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace" (Romans 6:14).

Although we're God's SPECIAL people, we're not His sheltered people -- we will experience tribulations. These tribulations are an essential part of God's training for reigning preparatory school for King's Kids. God is intent upon training and preparing His Kids to reign with Him forever, and not in protecting them from troubles and pampering them with a lot of toys and things. He ruthlessly perfects those whom He royally elects!

We are told in the book of Acts that the early church was taught that suffering was a required course for King's Kids in Training for Reigning. We read in Acts 14:22, "strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, "through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God."

Learning to reign in life requires understanding that human opposition is designed by God to bring us into grace. Demonic opposition is designed by God to bring us into greater power. We must learn to relate to people and to resist the devil. Our reign in life is as servants of the Lord and not sovereigns.

John Owens, chaplain to Oliver Cromwell, lived in violent, turbulent, and trying times, yet he was a believer who by receiving the abundance of grace, reigned in life through Christ. His confidence was rooted in the assured promises of Scripture rather than believing the circumstances around him. Even in a time of death, disease, decline and despair, his confidence in the promise of God stood firm as he declared: "Though our persons fall, our cause shall be as truly, certainly, and infallibly victorious, as that Christ sits at the right hand of God. The gospel shall be victorious. This greatly comforts and refreshes me."

The kingdom has broken into time and was definitively established at Jesus' First Advent. It is progressively breaking forth in power and glory through the "reigning in life," co-partnering, people of God.

We are King's Kids in Training for Reigning. Our training enables us to practice reigning through the grace of God, for the glory of God, for the extension of the kingdom of God!

As for me, as I am continuing my training for reigning course, I am going to be singing in the REIGN!

 

Originally published at Training for Reigning

Another State Might Ban Reparative Therapy, Forcing Some to Live With Unwanted Same-Sex Attraction

Wed, 02/14/2018 - 09:27

The Washington Times reports, “Legislation banning gay conversion therapy for minors has narrowly passed the New Hampshire House of Representatives.”

The bill prohibits “counseling services to children under 18 ‘relative to conversion therapy seeking to change a person’s sexual orientation.'”

The bill must still pass the state Senate and be signed by governor Chris Sununu (R). New Hampshire would join nine other states and Washington DC which “currently have laws or regulations protecting youths from conversion therapy.”  This is “according to a report released last month by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law.”

Enter the Activists

The Williams Institute is a pro-non-reproductive-sexuality think tank “dedicated to conducting rigorous, independent research on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy.”

A press release announced the Williams Institute report. It warned that “teens … will be subjected to conversion therapy.”

An estimated 20,000 LGBT youth ages 13 to 17 will undergo conversion therapy from a licensed health care professional before the age of 18, according to a new study by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law.

Also, approximately 57,000 youth will receive the treatment from a religious or spiritual advisor. These are the first estimates of U.S. youth at risk of undergoing conversion therapy before they reach adulthood.

The researchers also found that approximately 698,000 LGBT adults in the U.S have received conversion therapy at some point in their lives, including about 350,000 who received it as adolescents.

Poor Choice of Words

The numbers are debatable. But worse is the choice of highly charged words: subjected to, risk of undergoing, conversion therapy. This makes it sounds as if therapy itself were a disease.

The report itself says that some, but certainly not all, health groups, such as the American Medical Association, are against “conversion therapy.” Why? Because (they claim) “the use of conversion therapy is harmful and ineffective.” And thus any such therapies should be banned.

Conversion therapy is an in-apt name, contributing in part to the dislike of its goal. It implies the unwilling change of a person into something that he is into something that he is not.

Seeing Double

Yet people are not “gay,” “straight,” “transgender,” or “cis.”  Neither are they any of the many other categories invented to classify sexual desires or dysphoria. There are only men and women. (With, of course, very rare exceptions due to genetic abnormality. Even these do not stop majority of afflicted from acting as men or women.)

Twin studies prove same-sex desire is not an innate trait. “Identical twins have the same genes or DNA. … If homosexuality is caused by genetics or prenatal conditions and one twin is gay, the co-twin should also be gay.”

Yet, “If an identical twin has same-sex attraction the chances the co-twin has it are only about 11% for men and 14% for women.”

Same-sex attraction is thus not something (most or all) people are born with but is developed later in life. It is thus theoretically possible for some to lose or ameliorate their attraction.

Repairing Conversions

And indeed the late Dr. Joseph Nicolosi boasted great success with what he called reparative therapy for those with unwanted same-sex attraction. To repair of course indicates what occurs in such therapy. There is no conversion and no coercion.

His client stories are proof positive that reparative therapy works for at least some men.

One seventeen year-old was four when he “was molested by my neighbor.” That same year he himself  molested his cousin.  He identifies these molestations as being partly responsible for his becoming “gay.”

But, he said, “after therapy and just everything that I’ve learned and gone through, now I can look at a guy and think ‘Oh, he’s handsome’ but I don’t find that sexual attraction. … The therapy changed my whole mentality for the better. … I just decided that I don’t want to be gay for the rest of my life.”

This young man’s story is interesting because it is relevant to proposed “conversion” therapy bans:

There is now this law in California regarding minors that is about to start, that would have made it illegal for me, as someone under 18, to get help. I think it’s ridiculous. It’s just like saying Alcohol Anonymous should be cancelled, all the rehabilitation programs in the United States should be stopped. In this new law, they say that getting help to understand the SSA feelings I had, which started through bad experiences in my childhood, does harm to me. But through therapy, I was healed from those memories and the harm they caused.

Now New Hampshire, like California, may mandate that young men like this keep suffering that harm.

Military Photo of the Day: A Hug and a Kiss and a Welcome Home Wish

Wed, 02/14/2018 - 08:00

A U.S. Navy sailor assigned to the submarine tender USS Frank Cable kisses his wife upon returning to Apra Harbor in Guam on January 23, 2018.

Happy Valentine’s Day to our troops and their loved ones!

 

 

 

 

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2 Anti-Trump FBI Officials Also Used Private Email, Their Texts Indicate

Wed, 02/14/2018 - 01:07

Two FBI officials who exchanged anti-Trump text messages on government equipment during the 2016 presidential campaign also conducted official business over private email accounts, according to a Senate report.

In one electronic text message on April 10, 2016, FBI official Peter Strzok told agency lawyer Lisa Page: “Gmailed you two drafts of what I’m thinking of sending Bill, would appreciate your thoughts. Second (more recent) is updated so you can skip the first.”

Strzok expressed frustration about being “left out of the loop,” according to the report from a Senate committee. It is not clear who “Bill” is.

Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal analyst at The Heritage Foundation and a former Justice Department official, told The Daily Signal that use of private email makes it possible for federal employees to evade information requests.

 “If an employee is using a personal email to discuss official business, then he is avoiding complying with the Federal Records Act and he is avoiding the Freedom of Information Act,” von Spakovsky said.

“I know that when I was at DOJ, we were told not to discuss any official business in private emails for these reasons, and because much of what we discussed was confidential and should not be disclosed. Private emails are notoriously less secure,” he said.

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who heads the Justice Department, has said that Page and Strzok, chief of the FBI’s counterespionage section when he investigated the Hillary Clinton email scandal, exchanged more than 50,000 text messages while reportedly having an extramarital affair.

The two FBI officials expressed anti-Trump and pro-Clinton sentiments while texting each other. Special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, removed Strzok from the probe when the texts surfaced.

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, released copies of Page-Strzok text messages that his committee received from the Justice Department.

Johnson also asked the Justice Department to turn over additional information about FBI communications by Wednesday, which is both Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday. By publication deadline, his committee staff had not responded to inquiries on whether the department had done so.

The Daily Signal asked the Justice Department for a response to the evidence that Strzok and Page used private email accounts while transacting official FBI business, what policy is on such use, and also whether the department would meet Johnson’s Feb. 14 deadline.

“We have been working with the committee to respond to their request within a reasonable timeframe,” Ian D. Prior, the agency’s principal deputy director of public affairs, said in an email response.

Prior did not address the other issues.

The Justice Department’s Ethics Handbook for On and Off-Duty Conduct tells employees:

You may not use your DOJ contact information including email address for non-official matters except as emergency contact information and for persons such as close family and friends, children’s school, and in similar limited circumstances, where it is clear your communication is not on behalf of the department and you are not attempting to exert official influence.

It is not clear from the handbook what the FBI policy is on use of private email accounts for official business.

In a Jan. 31 letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Johnson inquires about an April 10, 2016 chain of text messages between Strzok and Page suggesting the two agents used gmail to correspond while engaged in official FBI duties. (Sessions recused himself from matters related to the Russia probe.)

“According to text messages produced to the committee, Ms. Page and Mr. Strzok make references to communicating with other FBI employees via text message, phone call, email, and voicemail,” Johnson writes. “Additional text messages suggest that the FBI officials used non-official email accounts and messaging programs to communicate about official business.”

Johnson has asked Justice to turn over text messages exchanged between Strzok and Page between Dec. 14, 2016 and May 17, 2017. Those texts were said to be “missing,” but since have been recovered through the efforts of the agency’s inspector general.

Some of the Page-Strzok text messages already public “hint at broader record-retention issues with the FBI’s Samsung mobile devices and that FBI employees sought to procure iPhones for their use,” Johnson tells Rosenstein in the Jan. 31 letter.

Johnson’s committee published a report, “The Clinton Email Scandal and the FBI Investigation of It” highlighting findings in the Page-Strzok text messages.

“Text messages exchanged between Strzok and Page suggest that FBI officials used non-official email accounts and messaging programs to communicate about FBI business,” the report says, going on to cite the April 10, 2016 text in which Strzok says he “gmailed” drafts to Page.

On Oct. 25, 2016,  Page texts Strzok about a letter to Congress regarding the Clinton email investigation, which had resulted in no charges related to Clinton’s use of a private email server to conduct official business when she was secretary of state from 2009 through 2012. The election followed days later, on Nov. 8.

Page: “Remind me I need to ask you something. Tomorrow is fine.”

Strzok: “sure. You can also imsg [iMessage] me.”

Strzok and Page also discussed the possibility that Page would receive an FBI-issued iPhone, for which the FBI information technology office proposed to stop following “security/monitoring” requirements.

These texts raise questions about the FBI’s retention of records associated with its investigation, committee staff say.

Johnson also asked Rosenstein to produce:

all documents and communications, including but not limited to emails, memorandum notes, text messages, iPhone instant messages, and voicemails, for the period January 1, 2016 to the present referring or relating to the FBI’s Midyear Exam investigation, the presence of classified information on Secretary of State Clinton’s private email server, or candidates for the 2016 presidential election …

The committee chairman’s request for information is attached to correspondence involving 16 FBI officials, including Strzok, Page, former FBI Director James Comey, and former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

Trump fired Comey in May. FBI Director Christopher Wray removed McCabe from his post Jan. 29, after a declassified memo from a House committee underlined a reference to him in a Page-Strzok text.

Ken McIntyre contributed to this report.

 

Copyright 2018 The Daily Signal

The Memo Games: Trump Tosses Nunes Rebuttal Back to Schiff, Dems to Take Another Shot

Tue, 02/13/2018 - 21:58

You’ve got the Winter Games, and you’ve got the Washington Games.

During NBC’s broadcast of the opening of the PyeongChang Olympics, President Trump called the Democrats’ bluff. He announced he would not be approving -- as is -- Rep. Adam Schiff’s 10-page rebuttal to the so-called Nunes Memo. That House Intelligence Committee’s memo outlined some of how the FBI and DOJ misled the FISA court to obtain surveillance warrants against Trump adviser Carter Page.

The White House included a letter signed by FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Ron Rosenstein. The two insist that the Schiff rebuttal contains portions that would raise national security or law enforcement concerns if released.

President Trump explained his action in a Saturday morning tweet. 

The Democrats sent a very political and long response memo which they knew, because of sources and methods (and more), would have to be heavily redacted, whereupon they would blame the White House for lack of transparency. Told them to re-do and send back in proper form!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 10, 2018

White House legislative director Marc Short promised Democrats,“Work with the FBI, clean it up, and we'll release it."

Devin Nunes himself claims he’s eager to make the rebuttal public. “We think it's ridiculous on the face of it,” Nunes told Fox News. “We think it's very political about how they attack myself, they attack Chairman Gowdy. They turn Carter Page into some super-secret Russian spy. They talk about how Christopher Steele is a really, really good source when we know that he lied to the FBI.”

Nunes had warned that Schiff would send his rebuttal in a form Trump couldn’t release. This gave Democrats the chance to shout all weekend about how Trump was playing favorites. After all, he released the Nunes Memo without redactions.

Democrats to Revise Rebuttal

Schiff pinky-swears that he didn’t write the rebuttal as intentionally unpublishable. He says the Democrats will take another stab at their memo. Schiff told CBS’s Face the Nation, “We’re going to sit down with the FBI and go through any concerns that they have, and any legitimate concerns over sources and methods, we will redact.”

Dem Rep. Eric Salwell was asked Monday by Tucker Carlson why Democrats didn’t simply run their rebuttal by the FBI first. He mumbled something about “rules” and quickly changed the subject.

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What’s Said to Be in the Rebuttal

The rebuttal will not actually refute what is in the Nunes memo. Instead, the Democrats will undercut the idea that the Steele dossier was instrumental in the granting of four FISA warrants. Those warrants allowed the Obama FBI to conduct surveillance on anyone who came into contact with Carter Page.

It’s fair play for the Democrats to reveal other evidence used against Steele to get the warrants. However, even that doesn’t help the Democrats. When it comes to FISA, one bad apple does spoil the whole bunch. Especially when you lie about it.

The other evidence doesn’t matter. Former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe made that clear: “No surveillance warrant would have been sought from the FISC without the Steele dossier information." Steele brought the FBI to the dance.

The Schiff team will also try to dampen the damage done by other facts the FBI hid from the court. Such as the fact that the Steele dossier was paid for by Hillary Clinton and the DNC. Or that the Obama DOJ knew of Christopher Steele’s personal desire to stop Trump.

When the Nunes Memo came out, Schiff and other Democrats insisted the court was informed of the political motivation behind the dossier. Hogwash, Republicans say. One footnote spoke in general terms that there “may be” political bias. There’s a huge difference between admitting that a source “may” have bias and informing the judge of a fact like: “This is Hillary Clinton’s doing.”

Reportedly, the wording in that footnote does more spinning and contorting than Chloe Kim in a half-pipe.

What You are Not Hearing

The Democrats and their media pawns have been shouting about the Nunes Memo and the Schiff rebuttal. But have you heard any rebuttal to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s criminal referral on Christopher Steele? (Otherwise called “The Grassley Letter,” after committee chair Chuck Grassley.)

The closest you get is Schiff saying that the referral was only done to divert attention from the failure of the Nunes Memo. Unfortunately for that bit of fiction, the referral was made weeks before Nunes’ Memo was released.)

The criminal referral not only supports Nunes’ allegations, it goes a step further. Yes, the FBI/DOJ used a dossier it knew was unverified and 100% politically motivated. However, they also repeatedly vouched for Christopher Steele’s credibility even after the FBI knew Steele had lied to them.

The referral also laid out how Russian agents had funneled dirt via Clinton henchman Sidney Blumenthal through the Obama State Department, to Steele.

The dossier was such a Hillary production, the DOJ lawyers might as well have been wearing pantsuits. And Obama people are involved.

Is this being rebutted? No. Is the media even covering the criminal referral? Nope.

Meanwhile, tucked away in the Grassley letter is a curious -- even bizarre -- email from former National Security Adviser Susan Rice. We’ll cover that in our next report.

 

Al Perrotta is the Managing Editor of The Stream, and co-author of the upcoming book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration.

Israeli Police Recommend Indictments of Netanyahu

Tue, 02/13/2018 - 20:32

JERUSALEM (AP) -- Israeli police on Tuesday recommended that Benjamin Netanyahu be indicted on bribery and breach of trust charges in a pair of corruption cases, dealing an embarrassing blow to the embattled prime minister that is likely to fuel calls for him to step down.

Netanyahu angrily rejected the accusations, which included accepting nearly $300,000 in gifts from a pair of billionaires. He accused police of being on a witch hunt, vowed to remain in office and even seek re-election.

“I will continue to lead the state of Israel responsibly and loyally as long as you, the citizens of Israel choose me to lead you,” an ashen-faced Netanyahu said in a televised address. “I am sure that the truth will come to light. And I am sure that also in the next election that will take place on time I will win your trust again with God’s help.”

The recommendations marked a dramatic ending to a months-long investigation into allegations that Netanyahu accepted gifts from Hollywood mogul Arnon Milchan and Australian billionaire James Packer, and suspicions that Netanyahu offered to give preferential treatment to a newspaper publisher in exchange for favorable coverage.

The recommendations now go to Attorney General Avihai Mendelblit, who will review the material before deciding whether to file charges. Netanyahu can remain in office during that process, which could drag on for months.

But with a cloud hanging over his head, he could soon find himself facing calls to step aside. During similar circumstances a decade ago, Netanyahu, as opposition leader, urged then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to resign during a police investigation, saying a leader “sunk up to his neck in interrogations” could not govern properly.

Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, a bitter rival of Netanyahu, called on him to suspend himself and for the coalition to appoint a replacement on Wednesday morning.

“The depth of corruption is horrifying,” Barak said. “This does not look like nothing. This looks like bribery.”

In a statement, police said there was sufficient evidence to indict Netanyahu in the first case, known as File 1000, for accepting bribes, fraud and breach of trust.

It said Netanyahu had accepted gifts valued at 750,000 shekels ($212,000) from Milchan, and 250,000 shekels (or $71,000) from Packer. The gifts from Milchan reportedly included expensive cigars and champagne.

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Police said that in return, Netanyahu had operated on Milchan’s behalf on U.S. visa matters, legislating a tax break and connecting him with an Indian businessman. It said he also helped Milchan, an Israeli producer whose credits include Pretty Woman, 12 Years a Slave and JFK, in the Israeli media market.

In the second case, known as “File 2000,” Netanyahu reportedly was recorded asking Arnon Mozes, the publisher of the Yediot Ahronot daily, for positive coverage in exchange for reining in a free pro-Netanyahu daily that had cut into Yediot‘s business.

Police said there was sufficient evidence to charge both Milchan and Mozes with bribery. There was no immediate comment from either man.

In his TV address, Netanyahu said that his entire three-decade political career, which included serving as Israel’s ambassador to the U.N., a stint at prime minister in the 1990s and a series of Cabinet posts, were meant only to serve the Israeli public.

He acknowledged aiding Milchan with his visa issues, but said Milchan had done much for Israel and noted that the late Shimon Peres, had also been close with Milchan.

He also said that over the years he had taken decisions that hurt Milchan’s business interests in Israel.

“How can allegations be taken seriously that in exchange for cigars I acted for Arnon Milchen’s benefit?” he said.

He said all the allegations over the years against him had one goal: “to topple me from government.”

He said past scandals had all “ended with nothing” and “this time as well they will end with nothing.”

As the police investigation gained steam in recent months, Netanyahu has claimed to be a victim of an overaggressive police force and a media witchhunt.

Netanyahu, who has been prime minister for nine straight years, and his family have become embroiled in a series of scandals in recent months.

Recordings recently emerged of his wife, Sara, screaming at an aide, while separate recordings emerged of his eldest son, Yair, on a drunken night out at a series of Tel Aviv strip clubs while traveling around in a taxpayer-funded government car with a government-funded bodyguard.

Netanyahu has said the scandals are all the work of media out to get him.

___

Ian Deitch and Aron Heller contributed reporting.

 

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

Liberals and Conservatives Are Unhappy for Different Reasons

Tue, 02/13/2018 - 20:31

One of the most important differences between the right and the left -- one that greatly helps to explain their differences -- is the difference between unhappy liberals and unhappy conservatives.

The Difference

Unhappy conservatives generally believe they are unhappy because life is inherently difficult and tragic, and because they have made some unwise decisions in life.

But unhappy liberals generally believe they are unhappy because they have been persecuted.

Ask unhappy leftists why they are unhappy and they are likely to respond that they are oppressed. This is the primary response given by unhappy leftist women, blacks, Latinos and gays.

For example, the more left-wing the woman, the more she will attribute her unhappiness to American society’s “patriarchy,” “sexism” and “misogyny.” She therefore considers herself oppressed -- and believing one is oppressed makes happiness all but impossible.

Likewise, the more left-wing the black person, the more he or she will attribute his or her unhappiness to racism. And how is a black person living in a racist white country supposed to be happy?

Cultivating Unhappiness

If you have ever spent time with black conservatives, one of the first things you will notice is that they have a much happier disposition than left-wing blacks. I receive many calls to my radio show from black listeners. I almost always know immediately whether they are on the right or the left solely by their tone of voice. The cheerful black caller is almost always a conservative.

The left cultivates unhappiness by cultivating anger. It does this for the same reason wine growers cultivate grapes: No grapes, no wine; no anger, no left (and no Democratic Party). And angry people are not happy people.

Last week in Atlanta, I spoke for about 40 minutes to six randomly chosen black students from a local black college (for the upcoming film No Safe Spaces that Adam Carolla and I are making). Each one said he is oppressed. When I told them I didn’t think blacks in America are oppressed, I sensed that they had never actually been told that by anyone. It was akin to telling physics students that gravity doesn’t exist. And when I added that I don’t think women are oppressed either, they were equally shocked.

Ask yourself this question: Is a black child likely to grow up happy if he is told by his parents, his teachers, his political leaders and all his media that society largely hates him?

Of course not.

Raising a black child to regard America as racist and oppressive all but guarantees an unhappy black adult.

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Let me offer a counterexample. My father, an Orthodox Jew, wrote his college senior thesis on the subject of anti-Semitism in America. In it he described quotas on Jews in college admissions, Jews prohibited from joining from country clubs, Jews prohibited from law firms, etc.

In other words, my father fully acknowledged the existence of anti-Semitism in the United States. Yet he raised my brother and me in an America-loving home and told us that he believed American Jews are the luckiest Jews in history -- because they are American.

I therefore never knew what it was like to walk around thinking most of the people I met hated me. That alone contributed to my happiness.

Leftism makes one other major contribution to leftists’ unhappiness: It promotes ingratitude. In my book on happiness (Happiness Is a Serious Problem) and my talks on happiness, I emphasize the central importance of gratitude to happiness. Without it, one cannot be happy. There isn’t one ungrateful happy person on Earth. Yet ingratitude toward America is central to the left’s worldview -- further reinforcing the unhappiness of its adherents.

Unhappy Americans on the right blame the problems inherent to life, and they blame themselves. Unhappy Americans on the left blame America.

That alone goes far in explaining the unbridgeable differences between right and left.

 

Dennis Prager’s latest book, The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code, was published by Regnery. He is a nationally syndicated radio show host and creator of PragerUniversity.com.

COPYRIGHT 2018 CREATORS.COM

Watch: This Man Born Without Arms or Legs Has Shared His Faith With Millions

Tue, 02/13/2018 - 19:20

Tens of millions have come to know his magnetic smile, whether in media interviews with the likes of Oprah Winfrey or through his best-selling books. Nick Vujicic has shared his story live at more than 3,000 speaking events in 68 nations.

Born without arms or legs, he has had severe physical challenges to overcome. He attempted suicide at age 10 after bullying by his peers. Vujicic (pronounced "voo-yi-chich") says a spiritual revelation changed his life. Having devoted 15 years to inspiring the world, today he has a renewed zeal to share his Christian testimony.

In his new book Be the Hands and Feet, Vujicic recounts stories from his travels around the globe. The Australian-born evangelist reveals why he believes only the gospel answers life's most difficult questions. Then he challenges Christians to go and share likewise. It's his most overtly faith-centered work to date.

Vujicic still sees motivational talks as an opportunity -- "those speeches where I can't say the 'J word'," he notes. But he'd rather speak of Jesus, as he has to over eight million people face-to-face. One million have committed to Christian faith, reports Life Without Limbs. He spoke in an interview from his ministry base in California.

The One Eternal Thing

The Stream: How has your faith been a part of you overcoming the hardships you've faced?

Nick Vujicic: Growing up, I really doubted that God had a plan for me. As I prayed for a physical miracle of having arms and legs miraculously, it was not coming to pass. I wondered: where is the love of God? Why was I born this way? Many other questions were going through my mind.

At age 15, I read John chapter nine. A man was born blind and no one knew why he was born that way. Jesus said, It was done so that the works of God would be revealed through him. That's when I realized that God had a plan for a blind man, but he also has a plan for me. That's the whole idea of this book.

It's very easy in our lives to get so caught up with our day-to-day routines and focusing on our struggles that we forget the bigger picture. Wherever we can, we need to share the gospel. It's fantastic to preach the gospel without words, I get that. We need to be able to share love and serve people.

The way God can turn anyone's life around is not only for us to receive as individual children. It's to then share how that transformation happened for us.

When God sees me face-to-face, he'll say, Well done, my good and faithful servant. But maybe he might look over my shoulder and ask, Who else did you bring? When all is said and done, and you've run the race, the only thing you take is your soul -- and letting others know about the redeeming power of Jesus Christ in their lives too.

When you know that, it gives you an eternal view of life. At one stage, I was wanting a miracle. But even when we don't get a miracle, we can still be a miracle for somebody else.

Outside-the-Box Evangelism

The Stream: Recently, your ministry hosted Christian meetings in Newbury Park, California held in a massive tent. What happened during those weeks?

Vujicic: It was really cool. We had a total of five thousand people come through the tent during those two weeks. It was really a pilot program for us at Life Without Limbs. We only pitched up one sixth of the tent!

Over the years, it's been wonderful to see more than a million souls come to Jesus Christ. But what happens to them afterward is still a mystery. What we're trying to do is make a really good filtering process to connect them to a local church. The tent is inviting rather than intimidating. Yet it's a back door bridge to the local church.

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Often when someone like me comes to a church, people come only because the evangelist is there. It's very hard to get them back to the church building the next Sunday. Yet they need to be discipled in the fundamentals that confirm the decision they made. Then they get baptized and become an active follower of Christ.

We are bridging friendships into local churches with this tent. Hundreds of people gave their lives to Jesus. Then we had 30 percent come back for at least one discipleship session. That's a huge percentage if you look at other ministries who do things like this. It's working with and building up the local church, as we're all called to do through the Great Commission.

The Stream: Churches have been challenged as they see trends in the next generation. How have you worked in partnership to reach America's teens?

Vujicic: Through mutual friendships, I met Brian Barcelona and One Voice Student Missions some years back. I heard about the Bible clubs that they started up in northern California.

They've been seeing as many as 700 students at school lunches to discuss the Bible. Now the city government is paying for their pizza because they're feeding students on a whole new level. They're seeing the morality of that school go up since the gospel was shared during the lunch times.

They're feeding those students weekly where they're at. That's just phenomenal. One Voice has even had some incredible feedback from other ministries like Fellowship of Christian Athletes. They said, What Brian is doing with his volunteer staff is the answer to many prayers of many people around the country.

The American church is coming to see that the mission field is not within the four walls of the church building as much as it's outside those walls.

The American church is coming to see that the mission field is not within the four walls of the church building as much as it's outside those walls. There are churches that run at 115 members attendance over a weekend. Then they plant two Bible clubs in the local schools, reaching 200 kids. So they've got double of what would be in the church, actually outside the church.

I'm working with them with a pre-recorded message and perhaps live-streaming events, we'll see. I'm just excited because the world is not getting any better. One Voice Student Missions sees the signs of the times and are proactive on the front lines. I'm praying that this catches on like wildfire. I envision and believe that we will see 15,000 Bible clubs in the next five years nationwide.

Faith That Multiplies

The Stream: What is your message to Christian believers today?

Vujicic: Typically, evangelists don't really work well with the church or vice versa. Our heart at Life Without Limbs is to be the exception. Really we are to empower the church in each community. The church should be embracing the five-fold ministry, which includes apostles, teachers and evangelists.

Many people in church are ordained by the Holy Spirit to be evangelists, but they are told in their churches to just sit in pews or in a cell group. Of their 100 members, are there a few evangelists? They should be sent out with a boat and some nets to fish. Do you know how in three minutes you can talk to somebody about Jesus? It's sharing who you were before Jesus came into your life, then who you are after He came into your life.

How quickly a church doubles in America isn't dependent on how well someone preaches. What matters is how many lost people come through the doors. And if no one is telling them, how will they hear?

Be active and don't just look at: what can I get? What can I pray for? What can God do for me? Ask instead: what can I do for my God to bring back one of His lost children? I think that's preaching the gospel, sometimes using words and sometimes not.

 

The eighth book by Nick Vujicic, Be the Hands and Feet, is now available online and in bookstores. Watch for part two of this interview coming soon.

LGBT Activists Seek to Shut Down Dr. Michael Brown’s Speech on Homosexuality and the Bible at University

Tue, 02/13/2018 - 18:42

Author, radio show host, lecturer and senior contributor to The Stream Dr. Michael Brown will be speaking tonight on homosexuality and the Bible at Appalachian State University in North Carolina. That is, if protesters don't shut him down first.

‘Christian Mistreatment of Homosexuality’

Dr. Brown accepted the request from the organizer, Ratio Christi, to speak on "Christian Mistreatment of Homosexuality." However, Dr. Brown’s intent to rebuke such mistreatment means nothing to activists. One protest group is putting false information online about the event, stirring up anger among the LGBT community. The social media campaign urges activists to "Rally against this hate, because hate happens here."

According to one student, activists are "ready and willing to make a statement on Tuesday," against Dr. Brown's speech. "As a black, queer and genderqueer person, it really would be a disservice to myself and to my community to stand by silently as this man comes to campus and says very violent language," the student said. "We're not going to tolerate it. It's just as simple as that. This is our campus."

One student took to Twitter to express his opinion. “You’re not welcome. You’re misleading students of a fragile community. You need to be stopped. We’re not lying about you, everything you’ve ever said is a google search away. They’re (sic) are videos. Your’re (sic) hate is not welcomed to a place I, a gay men, pays tuition. Expect a protest.”

As for lying about me, oh, I'm afraid you are, blatantly and plainly. For example, one "quote" from me is NOT from me at all. Just search for it. It's from someone attacking me. Do you care about the truth? More info here: https://t.co/wHHW4Ru5eC

— Dr. Michael L. Brown (@DrMichaelLBrown) February 13, 2018

Another Twitter user had this to say, “He may claim he is a sheep in God’s flock. But I know what he really is: a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

Zach, thanks for your eloquent posts. I would say it's about time to find out who I really am and what I really believe. Do you have the courage for that, or will you hide behind myths, lies, and misperceptions? There will be a live stream of my talk at App State. Will you watch?

— Dr. Michael L. Brown (@DrMichaelLBrown) February 13, 2018

However, at least one quote from the online article was a complete falsehood. According to the article, Dr. Brown said, "[LGBT] people are inherently unhappy, unhealthy, sexually immoral or rebellious to the will of God."

"The problem is that I never said those words, despite the quotation marks," said Dr. Brown. "It was a critic of mine who said this, yet the protest organizers cite it as my words."

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The article also stated that Dr. Brown was listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as one of "30 new activists heading up the radical right." That, too, is incorrect. The SPLC removed the link to Dr. Brown's name years ago.

At this point, it's not known if the campus will block Dr. Brown and Ratio Christi from using the booked room or if they will have to move to another venue. Either way, Dr. Brown said he will make the two-hour drive to the campus and speak with protesters and audience members.

Update: The protesters have begun to gather at the university. One protester said the best way they know how to support their families is to come and “chant and yell and fight and cheer.” Please pray for Dr. Brown as he speaks truth in love to students at the university.

The Stream will continue to update this story throughout the day. 

Mr. Obama, Would You Please Stop Dividing America?

Tue, 02/13/2018 - 16:57

Dear Mr. Obama,

The country witnessed the unveiling of your portrait in the National Gallery yesterday. We also found out you had chosen Kehinde Wiley to paint it. Within moments word went out that Wiley had once painted a portrait of a black woman holding a white woman's decapitated head. It is a message that contributes to dividing America. I ask you now: Is that what you really want?

That 2012 painting was titled Judith and Holofernes. In choosing that as his subject, Wiley joined with many artists through history who have rendered that grisly scene on canvas. The story comes from the Old Testament Apocryphal book of Judith. Holofernes was an Assyrian general whose troops were besieging Judith's city, Bethulia. Judith managed to get close to him, where she beheaded him, securing victory and safety for her people.

But Wiley had changed the subject matter: No longer a Jewish woman beheading an attacking Assyrian general, in his painting, it was a black woman holding the head of a white woman.

“Fury,” Yes. But “Righteousness”?

It's hard to miss the message. Well, maybe it's easier for some. One museum described it this way: "Wiley translates this image of a courageous, powerful woman into a contemporary version that resonates with fury and righteousness."

It's hard to miss the message.

Fury, yes. But righteousness? How? Judith's act in the original story was right because, with a minimum of bloodshed, she saved her people from immediate destruction. What makes Wiley’s version of it right?

The fury is certainly understandable. There was a time when black Africans were systematically kidnapped -- by African Muslims -- and sold to white traders. Taking up arms against them would certainly have been justified. I can only imagine how much better the world would be today if some African woman had beheaded that monster -- figuratively or literally -- hundreds of years ago.

“A Play on the ‘Kill Whitey’ Thing”

But Wiley's message is that black-white conflict today is like the battle between Bethulia and Assyria. The black woman's fury is only "righteous" like the original Judith's if she's saving her people from an attacking enemy -- an enemy intent on destroying her people. Which Wiley may even have intended, for he has told New York magazine, "It's sort of a play on the 'kill whitey' thing."

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Blacks are still angry. I get that. Their mistreatment has improved by orders of magnitude, for the kidnapping and the enslavement are mercifully just bad memories. But they retain power still as memories, and discrimination remains besides.

A Powerfully Divisive Message 

Your role as leader, Mr. Obama, allows you uniquely to recognize that anger, to validate its causes, and to speak it publicly. It also affords you a choice: You can either stoke that anger into red-hot fury, or you can help lead our nation toward healing at last. Which will you choose?

Wiley's Judith and Holofernes embodies a message of mortal enmity between races

I know what you've given lip service to. How many times have you called for unity, not division? But you've also given us reason to wonder whether you really mean it. Your calls for bipartisanship went nowhere, even among the members of your own party. You did nothing to calm the painful divisions that erupted in the country after Trump's election. 

And now with the unveiling of this portrait you’ve stamped your approval on an artist whose body of work upends every unifying message you've ever thought to speak.

Actions speak louder than words. Art does, too. Wiley himself told New York magazine, "The games I'm playing have much more to do with using the language of power and the vocabulary of power to construct new sentences." He went on to say, "It's about pointing to empire and control and domination and misogyny and all those social ills in the work, but it's not necessarily taking a position. Oftentimes it's actually embodying it."

Art doesn't merely speak a message; it embodies it. Wiley's Judith and Holofernes embodies a message of mortal enmity between races.

So Mr. Obama, what is your real intention for this country?

It’s Not Too Late: Please Stop Dividing Our Country

So Mr. Obama, what is your real intention for this country? What was it during your presidency? What is it today?

This latest revelation from you is divisive. It pits Americans against Americans. This message is damaging to the nation -- the whole nation, both blacks and whites, and people of every other race and color.

It's not too late, Mr. Obama. Your portrait is finished and it's on display, but it's not too late for you to change your message. No one could speak it as well as you. No one is positioned like you are to turn America toward healing and peace.

Do you want that for America, Mr. Obama? I certainly wouldn't expect healing to be quick or easy; there's too much to overcome there. But this I do know: Peace is better than war. Unity is better than division. Calm is better than violence.

And though it's a long road from here to that healing, we'll get there a lot quicker if we walk in the right direction. Would you take that leadership, Mr. Obama? Would you turn yourself around, first of all, and give up on your divisive, harmful ways? Would you do what you can to lead America toward the unity you've spoken of so often?

US Tells Anti-ISIS Coalition to ‘Keep Eyes on Prize’

Tue, 02/13/2018 - 14:35

KUWAIT CITY (AP) -- The Trump administration, increasingly concerned that the 74-strong coalition it cobbled together to destroy the Islamic State group is losing sight of the prime objective, pressed its partners on Tuesday to refocus their efforts, overcome rivalries and concentrate on the task at hand: the eradication from Iraq and Syria of the extremist group.

The alarm U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sounded at a coalition gathering in Kuwait came with the fight at a critical moment and the mission shifting from offensive military operations to stabilization.

Distractions are adding up, such as Turkey’s fighting with U.S.-backed Kurdish rebels in Syria and intensifying anti-American rhetoric from Turkish leaders. Meanwhile, renewed spillover from Syria’s civil war, including hostilities between non-coalition actors -- Iran, its proxies in Syria, and Israel -- risk creating a new conflict in an already crowded battle space.

“The end of major combat operations does not mean we have achieved the enduring defeat of ISIS,” Tillerson told the meeting in Kuwait City.

“ISIS remains a serious threat to the stability of the region, our homelands and other parts of the globe,” he said. “Without continued attention and support from coalition members, we risk the return of extremist groups like ISIS in liberated areas of Iraq and Syria and their spread to new locations.”

Tillerson announced that the United States would contribute an additional $200 million “to further support critical stabilization and early recovery initiatives in liberated areas of Syria,” bringing Washington’s total contribution to humanitarian efforts to nearly $7.9 billion since the conflict in Syria began in 2011.

It was not immediately clear how that money would be distributed. Tillerson reaffirmed that the U.S. “would maintain a conditions-based and ISIS-focused military presence in Syria” that would in part continue to train local security forces.

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U.S. officials said the thrust of Tillerson’s message was that “eyes have to be on the prize” and anything that hinders ISIS’ defeat will impair broader objectives such as a political transition in Syria that ultimately leads to an end of the war and blunts Iranian behavior throughout the region.

“It’s complicated enough as it is. Let’s not make it more so,” one official said in describing the administration’s view.

Rising tensions between the U.S. and NATO ally Turkey over Turkish military operations against the Syrian Kurds are a primary concern and Tillerson will end his five-nation swing through the region in Ankara on Friday, after stops in Jordan and Lebanon.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ramped up his criticism of the U.S. on Tuesday, reacting angrily to reports that the Trump administration has proposed a boost in funding to Syrian Kurdish militia in its proposed budget for the next fiscal year. Erdogan also took aim at comments from U.S. commanders in northern Syria, who said any attack on them or Kurdish partners would be met with force.

“To those who say ‘if they hit us, we will respond with force,’ it is clear that they have never experienced the Ottoman slap,” Erdogan said.

A day earlier, Turkish Foreign Minister Melvut Cavusoglu said Tillerson’s upcoming visit, which follows a similar trip by national security adviser H.R. McMaster, comes at a make-or-break time for relations between the U.S. and Turkey.

Ankara is riled over Washington’s support for the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG -- the top U.S. ally in the fight against ISIS. Turkey considers the YPG a “terrorist” group linked to Kurdish insurgents fighting within Turkey’s own borders.

At the meeting In Kuwait, Tillerson made a point of noting concerns about the situation and urged “all parties to remain focused on defeating ISIS, deescalating and resolving the Syrian conflict and protecting innocent civilians.”

U.S. officials allowed that Tillerson’s talks in Ankara would be difficult.

But, they maintained -- as Tillerson did again on Tuesday -- that the U.S. appreciates Turkey’s legitimate security concerns. However, the officials also stressed that addressing those should not come at the expense of the anti-ISIS mission. If the Syrian Kurds feel threatened, the officials said, they will move their forces away from Islamic State fronts, prolonging the fight.

In addition to keeping the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria on the front burner, Tuesday’s meetings in Kuwait will also focus on preventing the spread into Europe and elsewhere of retreating ISIS fighters.

Tillerson said the U.S. supports a new blueprint for boosting intelligence and information sharing and law enforcement cooperation to halt the flow of those fighters.

“In Iraq and Syria, ISIS is attempting to morph into an insurgency. In places like Afghanistan, the Philippines, Libya, West Africa and others it is trying to carve out and secure safe havens,” Tillerson said. “We have seen in Iraq and Syria the consequences of an ISIS territorial presence. History must not be allowed to repeat itself elsewhere.”

___

Associated Press writer Susan Frazer in Ankara, Turkey, contributed to this report.

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

Will Democrats Welcome Pro-Life Candidates? DNC Chairman Won’t Say

Tue, 02/13/2018 - 14:06

Will Democrats welcome pro-life candidates? That question came to the forefront once again Sunday during a segment on MSNBC.

As The Washington Free Beacon reported, host Kasie Hunt asked DNC chairman Tom Perez if there is “room for anti-abortion Democrats.” The question specifically referenced pro-life Rep. Dan Lipinski of Illinois. He’s currently fighting primary contender Marie Newman. 

But Perez wouldn’t give a straight answer. He only acknowledged “there’s a very spirited debate in that particular race.” He also said the DNC didn’t get too involved in primaries to avoid the appearance of tipping the scale.

While Perez skirted the pro-life question Sunday, he’s been outspoken before. 

“Every Democrat, like every American, should support a woman's right to make her own choices about her body and her health,” Perez said last year. “That is not negotiable and should not change city by city or state by state.” The statement came after he caught flak from pro-abortion groups for saying Democrats should not “demand fealty on every issue.”

 

 

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have both said they welcome pro-lifers.

What the Votes Say

So Perez is tip-toeing around the issue. Leading Democratic politicians pay lip-service to pro-life inclusiveness. But their votes tell a different story. 

Just last month a piece of pro-life legislation failed to pass the Senate. According to public opinion on the issue, it should have passed easily. A recent national poll found that 63 percent of Americans support banning abortion after 20 weeks.

The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act would have done just that. Research shows that babies in-womb can start feeling pain at 20 weeks, or 5 months. The bill included exceptions for cases of rape, incest or danger to the mother.

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But Senate Democrats refused to get on board. Forty-two Democrats voted against the bill and only three voted in favor. Their argument was that most abortions take place before 20 weeks. 

Earlier in January, the House passed the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. The bill requires abortionists to treat a baby born after a failed abortion the same as “any other child born alive at the same gestational age.” It also requires them to admit the baby to a hospital right away. 

This bill regarding the basic medical care of infants passed largely without the Democrats. Only five voted in favor of it. 

Will Democrats Listen?

Many saw Senate Democrats’ failure to support the pain-capable act as extreme. Particularly since nearly half of millennials support a 20-week ban. As The Atlantic recently explored, scientific developments have had a significant impact on the abortion debate. They could be a big reason more young people lean pro-life.

I think 20 weeks is a fair marker as I discussed with @benshapiro. If that's too radical for Democrats then the party is truly the extreme party of the day. I say this as someone who is still pro-choice. https://t.co/4aAWLqDtOl

— Dave Rubin (@RubinReport) January 29, 2018

After the pain-capable bill failed to pass the Senate, David Brooks challenged Democrats in a New York Times column. “Roe v. Wade polarized American politics in ways that have been fundamentally bad for Democrats,” he wrote.

In the column, he pretended to be a Democratic consultant. He asked, “Do we want [late-term abortion] so much that we see our agendas on poverty, immigration, income equality and racial justice thwarted and defeated?”

Pro-lifers, including pro-life progressives, are eager to see if Democrats will accept such advice. For now, it seems as if they’re still too afraid of ruffling pro-choice feathers to welcome pro-lifers to the party.

Victory Lap: Chloe Kim Takes Her Family on a Gold-Medal Ride

Tue, 02/13/2018 - 14:03

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) -- Chloe Kim stamped her name on a new era of snowboarding with a run down the halfpipe that, officially, did not mean anything. To her, it meant everything.

The Olympic gold medal was already hers but she knew she could do better. So she cinched on her gloves, cranked up “Motorsport” on her iPod, said “This one’s for you, Grams” -- a shout-out to her South Korean grandmother, who was watching her in person for the first time -- and dropped into the halfpipe to make history.

On the last run of Tuesday’s sun-splashed final, Kim hit back-to-back 1080-degree spins on her second and third jumps -- repeating a combination no other woman has ever done in a competition.

She landed them squarely, sent her already super-hyped family at the bottom into overdrive, scored a 98.5 and sent out the message that everyone from grandma to those at the roots of this sport love to hear: “I knew I wasn’t going to be completely satisfied taking home the gold, but knowing that I could’ve done better.”

The 17-year-old from California made it look easy, but only afterward did she concede how difficult the past several months have been. Her story has been told and sold and marketed for gold: Her parents both emigrated to the United States from South Korea, and though it was more coincidence than any grand plan, Kim making her Olympic debut in the country where her family was from set up a sure path to stardom in the halfpipe and beyond.

She has commanded the progression in women’s snowboarding for at least two years now, and it was hard to imagine anyone beating her on the sport’s biggest stage, at her official coming-out party. But halfpipes are hard, the snow is slippery and nothing is for sure.

“There is a lot of pressure revolving around these games,” she said. “You wait for four years to come here and it’s definitely a lot of hype around a 1 1/2, 2-hour time period. It’s pretty nerve-wracking. You know you’re at the Olympics. It’s been a dream of mine since I was a little girl, to land a run that’s very important for me.”

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She didn’t have to do it.

In the first of the day’s three runs, she flew higher than anyone on her opening straight air, then landed one 1080, and closed with a pair of inverted spins, each with well-timed, easy-to-see grabs of the board that the judges appreciate. Her score there was a 93.75, which put her nearly nine points clear of the other 11 riders, none of whom would crack 90.

The rest of the day was a contest for second, and China’s Liu Jiayu won it. She said injuries made her reboot and reconnect with her love of the sport, regardless of the result. It will be interesting to see how the 25-year-old’s attitude shifts four years hence, at the Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Third place went to another young American: 21-year-old Arielle Gold, who casually announced afterward that she had separated her shoulder here on the second day of training, much the way she did on a practice run in Sochi four years ago that forced her to scratch from the competition.

“The doctors (say) that the more that it happens, the less impactful it is,” Gold said.

That bronze-medal run pushed Kelly Clark -- she of the one gold and two Olympic bronzes -- into fourth. This was Clark’s fifth Olympics, and the 34-year-old left the halfpipe with her own future to consider, but knowing the future of the sport she helped bring to the masses is in very good hands.

“Chloe’s an outstanding snowboarder, but I’m more proud of her for how she’s handled herself as a person,” Clark said. “She’s handled success and pressure with grace and class, and it’s refreshing.”

Kim’s journey included two years in Switzerland, where she lived with her aunt, learned French and honed her snowboarding skills.

Her father, Jong Jin, gave up his job to chase his daughter’s dream.

Down in the fans section, where Jong Jin was joined by his wife, Boran, along with Chloe’s two sisters, three aunts, two cousins, and her 75-year-old grandma, dad pointed to himself and said “American dream,” then let out a big whoop.

“I did, like, a 12-year sacrifice, and finally I got my reward,” he said. “Thank you very much (to) my daughter.”

She put on quite a show, and she will be rewarded in ways large and small. Heck, her Instagram following nearly doubled, to 350,000, since she arrived in South Korea -- and that was before she won the gold.

But deep down, she knows where the real thanks belonged. Her way of giving it was the classic run she put down at the end.

“To just quit work and travel with your kid full-time, leaving your wife behind and really chasing this dream because your kid is really passionate about this sport, I’m always so thankful for that,” she said. “And today, I really did it for my family and everything they’ve done for me.”

___

AP Sports Writer Jake Seiner contributed to this report.

___

More AP Olympic coverage: https://wintergames.ap.org

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

Sex Ed and Stalinism at the Local School Board

Tue, 02/13/2018 - 13:56

I usually avoid really sick, appalling spectacles. I skip movies like Saw. But last Thursday I saw something worse. I went to the sex-education committee meeting of the Fairfax County School Board. I have never seen anything as shocking.

Understand, that I have sat through years of shocking meetings. My day job is monitoring and lobbying the United Nations. But, I have never seen or heard anything like this. This meeting was a horror show. And a Soviet one at that.

The Family Life Education Curriculum Advisory Committee (FLECAC, pronounced flea-cack) advises the Fairfax County School Board for the content of the sex-education lessons taught to students from kindergarten through 12th grade.

This group has come up with over 80 hours of sex-education for these poor kids. And some of it is straight-up pornography.

Rich, Leftist, and Libertine

This school district in Northern Virginia, one of the largest and richest in the country, is among the most leftist in the country. No big surprise there. Twenty-five years ago, they were already promoting "Two Mommies" to the little tots.

But the sexual revolution ideology kicked into hyper speed a few years ago. Fairfax leftists put transgender ideology into schools a full year before Barack Obama's Department of Education mandated it for the rest of the schools in the country. Last year the Trump administration cancelled the mandate, though Fairfax County is clinging onto it.

This committee has long embraced the rest of the LGBT program. "Oral sex" is introduced to kids as young as 12.  Thirteen year olds are told about "anal sex" 18 separate times in one year's lessons.

The FLECAC committee is made up of about two dozen people. They're appointed by the overwhelmingly leftist Fairfax County School Board. Four voting members are students, chosen no doubt because they're members of student LGBT clubs, and most other members appear to be teachers and administrators.

If the idea behind the committee is to get community input, why stack it with people on the county payroll?

The School Board’s Supreme Soviet

Last Thursday night, two regular citizen members of the committee tried to offer amendments to the curriculum. What happened to them is right out of the Politburo of the Supreme Soviet.

"Oral sex" is introduced to kids as young as 12. Thirteen year olds are told about "anal sex" 18 separate times in one year's lessons.

The subject was the phrase "sex assigned at birth," which appears numerous times in the lessons. This is a politically-charged slogan that teaches that it's wrong for a delivery room doctor to say a penis means boy or a vagina means girl. A child should be left to his own gender choice later in life.

One citizen member made a motion to remove this phrase from the lessons and to simply use the word "sex" instead. Through parliamentary maneuvers, other members of the committee made sure the amendment was put off indefinitely without debate. The vote to cut off debate and never speak about it again passed 23-3.

The member who offered the amendment asked for a roll call, so that those voting to keep in "sex assigned at birth" would have their names associated with their votes. The motion for a roll call was killed by voice vote.

No debate, no accountability.

Another citizen member made a motion that, somewhere in the numerous lessons about various contraceptive methods taught beginning in eighth grade, there ought to be something about the possible health risks of certain contraceptives.

This, too, was shut down without debate, by a vote of 23-3. A roll call of the vote was shouted down by voice vote.

Hush, Adults Are Listening

The first citizen member made a motion to include a discussion in the lessons about the health risks associated with hormonal and surgical "transitioning." This, too, was not allowed.

One county employee member asked why there was no lesson on anal sex for the seventh graders. There was oral sex, but why was anal sex missing? The chairman of the committee assured her that the anal sex begins with lessons in the eighth grade.

This revealing moment was followed by another: The chairman actually apologized, with a nervous laugh, for using those graphic terms.

Did it not occur to her, or anyone else on the committee, that she was apologizing to the adults in the room for using words that are scripted into the lessons they have created for children?

It was clear to me that much of the reaction to these motions was a kind of animus toward traditional morality. The glee with which the majority cut off the legitimate concerns of the minority was breathtaking.

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Christians as the Taliban

One new member of the committee is a democratic activist named Daniel Press. He was the one who was most vociferous that these motions not only be trashed, but that they not even be discussed. On his Facebook page he calls Christians the Taliban and has an image of Christ on the cross over the mocking words: "Total Winner."

The other thing that struck me was the sheep-like attitude of most of the members of the committee. There were a few loudmouth ideologues, to be sure.  One student member treated us to an anti-American diatribe ending with the charge that transphobia stems from white supremacy. For the most part the members were silent. But they were lickety-split to raise their hands whenever called upon to vote against debate, discussion, and accountability. That they could not allow.

Finally, it’s remarkable how fast such new and fantastical notions have entered the leftist mindset. The notion of "sex assigned at birth" was itself born just a few years ago. And yet, these people are so certain of its truth, they clap hands on their ears to avoid hearing anything contradictory. Even more, they clap their hands on the mouths of anyone who might want to question this new tenet of faith.  

Blind Faith, False Faith

This brings to mind two things: brainwashing, and bad religion. The committee members may not know it, but they have been brainwashed to believe things that are simply not supported by either science or reason. Theirs is faith plain and simple, and the worst kind of faith, the kind that contradicts reason, the kind that can only be imposed. Theirs is a blind faith, taking as gospel whatever the sexual zeitgeist vomits forth.

And so what are parents to do? Opt their kids out of Family Life Education and take over the school board. One is easy, but both are necessary. Sexual Stalinism, of the kind I witnessed a few nights ago, has no place in the education of our children.

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