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James Robison: High Taxes Hurt the Poor

The Stream - 8 hours 17 min ago

Stream founder James Robison has a message for those who insist on calling for higher taxes on the rich: “Wealth doesn’t create poverty, it is an answer to poverty.”

In a new Facebook video posted Sunday afternoon, Rev. Robison, explains the need to cut taxes. High taxes, he argues, hurt those in needs. “We’re not helping the poor, we are keeping them in bondage.”

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Your Purpose is Revealed in God’s Design and Desire for Creation

The Stream - 9 hours 17 min ago

Deep within each one of us is a hunger to live a life of significance and purpose. The key to satisfying our hunger for meaning is understanding one basic principle: We are stewards of everything we have.

Many Christians would agree with this concept of stewardship. But few are able to articulate how they are to steward. This is because they don't know God's original design and desire for creation. Without knowing that blueprint, it's easy to get lost as stewards.

Theologian Ken Boa writes:

God has entrusted us with certain resources, gifts and abilities. These things rightfully belong to him. Our responsibility is to live by that trust by managing these things well, according to his design and desire.

We at IFWE believe the "why" of our work, both paid and unpaid, is to bring about biblical flourishing (shalom) in the world. That is God's design and desire for His creation. In order to effectively bring shalom in our families, churches, communities and vocations, we must first understand the difference between God's design and His desire.

Shalom in the Original Blueprint

God made everything based on His perfect design. By the power of His own will, that design will be realized:

For you created all things, and they exist because you created what you pleased (Rev. 4:11, NLT).

...He makes everything work out according to His plan (Eph. 1:11, NLT).

The Bible teaches us that from the very beginning, shalom was part of God's design in creation. Scott Kauffmann writes,

Shalom bookends our existence: it characterizes both the Garden and the eternal City, and so provides the vision for our existence in between.

Shalom existed at the beginning of creation, and it's still where God wants us to be focused today.

Shalom in Our Original Job Description

Think about Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden before the Fall. There was perfect shalom in the garden -- everything worked just as God designed it to. Shalom was built in to the design of creation. Making more shalom also becomes part of the job description of Adam and Eve -- God's desire for creation.

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When God articulates this job description, the reason Adam and Eve were created, He tells them to "subdue the earth" (Gen. 1:28). In this context, the word subdue, according to scholars Barry Asmus and Wayne Grudem, literally means to go out and make the earth "useful for human beings' benefit and enjoyment," a place for human beings to flourish. In other words, their purpose was to go and work at making more shalom.

If God's desire for Adam and Eve was to create more shalom in a perfect world, how much more does He desire us to cultivate and "reweave" shalom in our broken world?

Equipped to Reweave Shalom

This idea of shalom in the Bible stands apart from all worldly versions of flourishing. It provides not only a vision but also the means by which a person can achieve flourishing:

God reveals through His word His design for our flourishing. Then He equips us to pursue it through His Holy Spirit, who empowers, restores and reforms us by grace. The gospel of Jesus Christ, the "Prince of Shalom" (Isa. 9:6, OJB), shows us what real shalom is.

This gospel calls us back to fulfill our lost and forfeited calling in Gen 1:28. Thus it gives us a taste of shalom in this world and guarantees our experience of shalom in its fullness in the world to come.

Confidence in What We Hope For

Martin Weber writes that this longing for shalom is written on our hearts:

Biblical Shalom is the utopia for which Western civilization has yearned since the days of Plato. It is the failed promise of ancient empires and contemporary politicians, the frustrated dream of formerly love-struck newlyweds.

Yet there is One who has promised us shalom. He will be faithful to deliver on that promise. He made the ultimate sacrifice that we might experience God's shalom both in part in the present world and in its fullness in the world to come. This is what we all long for.

As the Apostle Paul writes, "...we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Rom. 8:28). It is the good work of His grace that equips and enables the work of our hands to reweave biblical shalom -- bringing flourishing to the communities we serve. And that work is motivated by nothing more than our love for him:

May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us--yes, establish the work of our hands (Ps. 90:17).

Editor's Note: Be one of the first to hear about Hugh Whelchel's upcoming booklet on this topic of "reweaving shalom" by signing up for the IFWE blog.

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This article is republished with permission from the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics ( IFWE is a Christian research organization committed to advancing biblical and economic principles that help individuals find fulfillment in their work and contribute to a free and flourishing society. Visit to subscribe to the free IFWE Daily Blog.

Military Photo of the Day: Target Practice at Night

The Stream - 11 hours 17 min ago

A U.S. Army soldier fires at targets during an nighttime exercise at Fort Carson in Colorado on September 7, 2017. 

Have a great week, everyone!





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Fox’s ‘The Last Man on Earth:’ Genders 'Don't Exist,' But Sexism Still Does

NewsBusters - 11 hours 25 min ago
<p>Fox’s <em>The Last Man on Earth </em>spent most of its Sunday, November 19 episode touting feminism and a lesbian relationship, then strangely made the argument towards the end of the show that genders no longer exist, and therefore, neither does “gay.”</p>

CBS’s ‘Wisdom of the Crowd’ Decries Sexism While Lead Actor Jeremy Piven Accused of Sexual Assault

NewsBusters - 12 hours 5 min ago
<p>CBS’s <em>Wisdom of the Crowd </em><a href="">is at</a> it again, this time trying to teach us about feminism and sexism while its main star faces down accusations of sexual assault. The show centers around a crowd-sourced crime-fighting platform called “Sophe,” created by Silicon Valley tech innovator Jeffrey Tanner (Jeremy Piven) in an attempt to find out who murdered his daughter. In the process, he ends up helping to solve other crimes with the public’s help, via their input on Sophe.</p>

Global Warming 'Weaponizing Smallpox' on CBS's 'Madam Secretary'

NewsBusters - 12 hours 49 min ago
<p>We’ve heard all the usual warnings about the dangers of global warming, like rising sea levels and uncontrollable weather patterns. However, the reemergence of smallpox was a new one for me. CBS’s <em>Madam Secretary </em>dives into that latent threat in the latest episode.</p>

New Yorker Blames Rand Paul Attack on Smelly Compost and the 'Sinister Banality' of Trump

NewsBusters - 13 hours 22 min ago
<p>At <em>The New Yorker</em> on Tuesday, Jeffrey Frank reached what one hopes is the worst we'll see of Trump Derangement Syndrome — but don't get your hopes up. Frank, in attempting to analyze what might have caused registered Democrat Rene Boucher to attack Senator Rand Paul two weeks ago, blamed "the sinister banality of American life ... with a lot of it these days emanating from Donald J. Trump." </p>

Showtime's 'SMILF' Says American Dream 'Does Not Exist,' While Demonstrating It On and Off-Screen

NewsBusters - 13 hours 51 min ago
<p>With Thanksgiving only days away, I want to share one thing for which I'm thankful: from the premiere of <em>SMILF</em> on November 5 to its second episode on November 12, viewership <a href="">fell by a third</a>. Having just endured the third episode, November 19th's "Half a Sheet Cake and a Blue-Raspberry Slushie," here's hoping the American people continue to be driven away from this show as quickly in the weeks to come. The episode started with a George Carlin quote on the screen to set the tone. "That's why they call it the American Dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it." Considering this show is about a woman following her dreams, and is written and produced by and stars a woman who is, presumably, living her own dream, the irony of this is fairly rich. </p>

India’s Dodgy Pharmacy - AEI - American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

American Enterprise Institute - 14 hours 16 min ago

Key Points

  • The quality of medicine today is much less reliable due to several factors: Western regulators have difficulty overseeing foreign plants, domestic regulators lack the interest to oversee these plants, and generic companies are unable to differentiate their products except by price. This is not limited to a single group, company, or country. However, in this paper I primarily address India.
  • The rapid rise of India’s pharma industry has not been matched by quality production. The Indian government protects its industry at all costs, and corruption is widespread.
  • Change is required in both India, which must update its laws and improve its regulator, and the US, which must better identify and punish quality infractions. Additionally, the biggest lie in the pharmaceutical market, that all generics are the same quality, must end.

Read the full PDF.

Executive Summary

Thirty years ago, most medicines consumed in rich nations were made there. Today most of the ingredients and nearly half the finished products come from India and China. India and China have low costs, which have driven the three-decade change. Both nations have capable chemists and businesses that can make high-quality products, but they also have a lot of slipshod producers (not unlike the West of the mid-20th century).

Western regulators’ difficulties in overseeing these plants, domestic regulators’ lack of interest in overseeing them, and generic companies being unable to differentiate their products (due to prescribing practices, limits on advertising, and so forth), amid the fiction that all generics are equal, mean that quality, which should be more assured, is more hit-and-miss today than before. This is not a problem limited to a single group, company, or country. However, in this paper I primarily address India.

The rapid rise of India’s pharma industry has not been matched by a sufficient capacity to regulate legal medicine production. India is far from unique in exhibiting this problem, but it is the worst protected of the major exporting nations. Like other nations, policing medicine counterfeiting is at least attempted in principle, but unfortunately in India it is almost nonexistent in practice. Additionally, widespread corruption enables all sorts of bad actors to endanger patients by exposing them to a wide variety of inferior-quality medicines. Most worrying is increasing evidence that not all, or even the majority, of legal Indian manufacturers are operating to acceptable standards.

Any manufacturer, even well-known Western companies, makes mistakes. But in countries with robust rule of law and effectual regulation, infractions are noticed and remedies made, either by the federal government or through the threat of private litigation. Manufacturers know that repeated negligence will lead to plant closures, massive fines, civil damages, and even bankruptcy, and so they happen rarely.

This was certainly not the case historically. For much of the 20th century, manufacturers in the US and Europe operated with little oversight, and in response, reputable companies differentiated their brands by ensuring quality or purity, which nurtured trust, reputation, and brand loyalty. Rigorous regulation slowly followed, and an iterative process of quality production and stricter regulation has evolved. Undoubtedly this process has improved quality in the West.

India is, in many ways, in a similar situation to the West of 60 to 70 years ago. India currently lacks regulatory oversight and exhibits legal weaknesses that encourage substandard drug producers to flourish, often crowding out better producers, which cannot compete on price with those cutting corners. While Europe and America faced this problem in the mid-20th century, at that time it was easier to differentiate products based on branding and advertising, whereas today, all “generic” products are assumed to be interchangeable, and advertising is often illegal. This means companies can often distinguish themselves only on lower price and reliable delivery.

Additionally, the plethora of substandard products is worsened by the Indian government’s price-control policy, which drives low prices for government contracts to supply pharmaceuticals—prices so low, some manufacturers simply cannot make good-quality medicines and cover costs.

Furthermore, some Indian producers seem to be consistently and intentionally making poorer-quality products for certain domestic and foreign markets where quality control and consumer discernment are perceived to be weak. But companies sometimes send poor-quality medicines to markets with good oversight, too, and occasionally get caught as a result. Increasingly, Western regulatory agencies are identifying failing Indian companies and sanctioning them—most infamously, the pharmaceutical company Ranbaxy paid a $500 million settlement in 2013, as the company admitted to fraud and supplying substandard medicines. Since then, dozens of other Indian companies have been reprimanded or fined by the US Food and Drug Association (FDA) or limited in their ability to export their products to the US. But the Indian government continues to deny it has a problem, to the chagrin of foreign regulators and drug producers and of increasing concern to some American physicians and patients. Perhaps most striking, India’s regulators never even bothered to investigate Ranbaxy following the US case.

As a result, Indian regulators are increasingly isolated from the rest of the world. Indian producers may also be isolated in the future; US congressional committees are investigating drug quality, and President Donald Trump is pushing for more production in the US. But at the same time, the president wants cheaper drugs, and no producers can beat India on price.

We may be approaching a crossroads for Indian medicines. If India does not shape up, resulting in tragedy to US patients, a US boycott of Indian drugs could devastate India’s pharmaceutical industry—the good with the bad. It may also double the price of medicines in the US and lead to shortages. It is in nearly everyone’s interest that India sort out its medicine business.

This paper explains the problems with Indian medicines, while acknowledging the vital role they play, and then discusses some of the methods by which quality can be improved, using a mixture of carrots and sticks.

Several options are available to fix the lack of consistent quality. The simplest is to be open about quality differences and allow the market to adapt. Allowing generic manufacturers with spotless records to advertise this fact, pointing out how their products are more reliable than their competitors, would probably drive demand by patients for those products and drive drug wholesalers and pharmacists to deliver demanded products based on such differentiation. The knock-on effects would be significant: If Indian or Chinese companies are exposed as making shoddy products, they would lose business, and some, maybe most, would change practices as a result.

A more likely political approach would be for the US to enact legislation that prevents all Indian and Chinese products from being imported, unless they are certified to the highest standards. This means not just passing an initial FDA inspection, but passing ongoing private-sector audit requirements, with stringent penalties such as marketing prohibition if a producer fails in these audits.

Price increases and shortages would be an inevitable result of such an approach, but whatever path is taken, there are only imperfect real-world policies with trade-offs that affect patients and entrenched interests. It is ironic that an overreliance on the cheapest sources of chemicals and finished products is caused by the near impossibility of differentiating products based on quality.


The pharmaceutical industry is one of the most heavily regulated in the world, yet medicine manufacturing is often opaque, even to the very regulators charged with protecting consumers from ineffective and potentially dangerous products. Furthermore, patients and even physicians are often ignorant of the products they take or prescribe every day.

Regulation is slow to change, often for good reasons, since business dislikes uncertainty and invests more when the rules of the game are set. But as industry has changed, its practices, notably its procurement practices, have changed so radically in the past three decades that the regulatory environment is no longer capable of overseeing consistent product quality. With no effective regulations and with opaqueness from most of the supply and distribution system, quality problems were almost inevitably going to arise.

A key change has been geographic. India has developed a reputation of producing cheap generic drugs, making it the pharmacy to the world. It is a well-deserved reputation since Indian drugs dominate pharmacy sales in every part of the developing world and increasingly in the West.

This paper is split into three sections. The first discusses publicly available data and stories about Indian drug-quality flaws and provides a brief analysis of legal institutions and organizations charged with addressing quality problems. The second section addresses my own efforts to assess the problem from a decade of drug procurement of Indian medicines. The third section deals with actual and potential policy responses to the problems identified in the first two sections.

Read the full report.

Fox's 'Family Guy' Says Putin Is 'Our President's Best Friend'

NewsBusters - 15 hours 37 min ago
<p>Fox’s <em>Family Guy </em>can be pretty even-handed when it comes to its political humor at times, but when it swings left, it swings moronically to the left. The latest episode proves that with a visit from Russian president Vladimir Putin where the show obediently parrots the rigged election narrative.</p>

Twitter to Begin Using ‘Blue Check’ Status As a ‘Big Brother’ Weapon?

NewsBusters - 18 hours 11 min ago
<p>The growth in online censorship by tech titans Facebook, Twitter, and Google's search and YouTube platform is one of the most under-reported stories of the past two years. In the latest disturbing development, Twitter, which has been increasingly heavy-handed in censoring center-right content, content providers, and everyday users since last year's general election campaign, has announced that it will unilaterally remove "blue-check" (i.e., "verified") status from groups and users who in its view have violated its Terms of Service — even for <em>offline behavior</em> it considers unacceptable.</p>

Why We Love Farmers Markets

The Stream - 18 hours 16 min ago

Almost every small and medium-sized town has what are called farmers markets. We love them. Some are seasonal. Some open only on weekends. People shops under tents and pay vendors cash. It's all very charming, a nice alternative to superstores.

I just returned from one. I came home with a 4-pound Red Snapper, oversized Brussels Sprouts, beautiful red potatoes, fresh cheese made in the Mexican style, and tubs of spices -- all for less than half what I would pay at a regular grocery store. Plus I enjoyed looking at foods and ingredients from all over the world. So delightful, and so smart financially.

However, there were no tents and no farmers taking cash. This was a permanent building with regular hours of operation, unified checkout lines, and all the necessary technology to take credit cards. Enough of the products there were direct-to-consumer to justify the name “farmers market” but it's also a big business.

You simply would not believe the fish counter. You would think it was Greece or Turkey. Fresh fish (yes, with heads and tails) were everywhere, on ice, all selling for half the price of the frozen stuff at the local store. It was dazzling. And the action! People from all over the world were grabbing tickets (you had to get in line), shouting demands, and piling their carts high.

It was just beautiful, if you like this sort of thing, which I do.

Better Groceries

Still, there is something puzzling about these markets. I have friends who visit or move from foreign countries. I've always been proud of American food markets, but these typically denounce what they find in stores. They think our food is terrible: processed, fake, tasteless, boring, expensive.

For this reason, my friends from Turkey, Israel, and Brazil dread going to the store. They scour through our supermarkets in disgust, and can't understand why we have it so bad -- and that we don't even know it. And they blame our food system for dreadful US health problems and obesity.

Then these people finally discover the out-of-the way farmers markets and come back saying: ok this what food is supposed to be, more or less. But these markets are not mainstream and not entirely accessible. You have to drive the drive and deal with many other inconveniences.

I became curious why this huge wall separates regular grocery stores from farmers markets. There is surely more than marketing going on here.

Why Do Farmers Markets Exist?

What is a farmers market anyway? People think of it as a place where producers sell directly to the consumer without the middleman of the wholesaler. That explains the lower prices.

This is how the trade association pitches itself:

A farmers market is a public and recurring assembly of farmers or their representatives selling the food that they produced directly to consumers. Farmers markets facilitate personal connections and bonds of mutual benefits between farmers, shoppers, and communities. By cutting out middlemen, farmers receive more of our food dollars and shoppers receive the freshest and most flavorful food in their area and local economies prosper.

That's all fine, but it raises the question: why do normal grocery stores not carry the same products as farmers markets? You could observe that it is because the groceries are controlled by food cartels, and there is a certain truth in that. That's what gives you the feeling of getting such an incredible deal at farmers markets.

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Still, that alone doesn't quite explain why we have such a strict distinction in the US between grocery stores and farmers markets. This is not just a different method of getting food to the consumer. There is more going on.

Government, Again

As usual, it comes down to government. In this case, it is all about the regulatory thicket that food has to get through to get to the consumer. Every bit of food sold in the US is subject to regulation. But farmers markets, in particular, are subject to far less.

Why? Part of it comes down to embedded tradition. When the lady at the local Methodist church makes jam, as her mother did and her mother's mother did, she should be able to sell that to raise money for the congregation. Everyone knows that. If the federal government sent in the food police, the headlines would be egregious.

Expand that model out and you basically have the structure of the farmers market. It lives and thrives in relative immunity from the labyrinth of federal regulations that are imposed on conventional stores that depend on broad structures of wholesale distribution.

The regulations are almost always about food safety, the very earliest and most comprehensive form of government regulation to come to the US.

An article from 2013 points out that:

For farmers who sell fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers markets, food safety will be business as usual, despite the federal Food and Drug Administration's new proposed rules governing produce.

‘Business as usual,’ because most market farmers are exempt from the new rules, just as they're exempt from the Food Safety Modernization Act, which was signed into law in 2010.

As the regulatory thicket has grown, so have farmers markets that are seeking relief, from 2,000 nationwide in 1994 to 8,000 in 2014, according to the Department of Agriculture. It's true that tastes have changed, and many people are looking for fresher, locally grown produce and more exotic ingredients that grocery stores don't typically provide. That said, the relative absence of federal regulation over farmers markets is also a main factor in their growth.

"Unlike fruits and vegetables grown and sold to your local grocery stores, fruits and veggies sold at farmers' markets are often unregulated and even exempted from food safety regulations," points out SafeFruitsandVegetables. The relative lack of regulation accounts for not only the lower prices but the greater variety of produce, meats, and grains.

Spice of Life

And this also affects imports as well, which is why your grocery store has only these lame bottles for $5 whereas the farmers markets has a world of spices for a fraction of the price. The American Spice Trade Association tries to provide a comprehensive guide to the myriad restrictions on spice imports. What you quickly learn is that this is not about tariffs or quotas, the older methods of protectionism. Now the protectionism takes the form of egregious and incomprehensible safety regulations that foreign spice companies can't possibly begin to get comply with.

And this entirely explains why it is that when I was recently in Israel, I enjoyed looking through markets with huge burlap sacks of fragrant herbs and spices, sold for a small fraction of what you can get at the local grocery in the US. The contrast is startling, and foreigners notice this more than anyone else. The rest of us are used to paying $5 for a tiny bottle of ground cumin.

But Why the Cheerios?

Looking through my local farmers market, it seems obvious that not everything here is grown by local farmers, or caught by local fisherman. The place also had a huge aisle full of regular cereal, beer, wine, and even frozen pizza, same as Publix or Kroger.

In other words, in many respects apart from having a wild variety of everything you can't get at a regular grocery store, it has most everything you can. And why? Because there is nothing in the regulations that says that a farmers market can only carry producer-to-consumer products, only that to the extent it does, it has treated differently by federal regulations.

That helps account for one reason that foreign peoples find our food so subpar. There are other factors of course. Sugar tariffs make sugar prohibitively expensive as compared with corn syrup. Then you add to that huge subsidies to corn, and you get the extremely strange situation in which vast amounts of American food are just varieties of corn. We have so much corn that we make our packing out of it. We fry everything in it. We sweeten all things with it. We put it in our gas tanks.

And it just so happens that the US also has soaring rates of diabetes, and the link between consumption of high fructose corn and disease is fairly well established. Dietitians have been sounding the alarm for years now. What's not often noted here is that the core of the scandal of American food: government control. (For more on the corn scandal, I highly recommend the documentary King Corn. You will never look at groceries the same.)

The agricultural regulatory system is so locked down that it seems unreformable. Every line of the code has a passionate defender. Consumers who want freedom of choice, great quality, and low prices are powerless in the face of the regulatory/industrial machinery. The result is a gigantic mess that has the potential to become life-threatening.

Just imagine a world in which everything and everyone were exempt from regulatory control over food. You could buy anything from anywhere, grow or make anything and get it to anyone who wants it for whatever price. Maybe even raw milk! We can manage what we eat -- and there will be plenty of it! -- so long as we are given information, choice, and a truly competitive marketplace.

For your viewing pleasure, here is the fish counter at the market I visited.


Originally published at Republished with permission.

102-Year-Old Holocaust Survivor Reunites With Newly Discovered Nephew

The Stream - Sun, 11/19/2017 - 23:25

KFAR SABA, Israel (AP) -- Eliahu Pietruszka shuffled his 102-year-old body through the lobby of his retirement home toward a stranger he had never met and collapsed into him in a teary embrace. Then he kissed both cheeks of his visitor and in a frail, squeaky voice began blurting out greetings in Russian, a language he hadn’t spoken in decades.

Only days earlier, the Holocaust survivor who fled Poland at the beginning of World War II and thought his entire family had perished learned that a younger brother had also survived, and his brother’s son, 66-year-old Alexandre, was flying in from a remote part of Russia to see him.

The emotional meeting was made possible by Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial’s comprehensive online database of Holocaust victims, a powerful genealogy tool that has reunited hundreds of long-lost relatives. But given the dwindling number of survivors and their advanced ages, Thursday’s event seemed likely to be among the last of its kind.

“It makes me so happy that at least one remnant remains from my brother, and that is his son,” said Pietruszka, tears welling in his eyes. “After so many years I have been granted the privilege to meet him.”

Pietruszka was 24 when he fled Warsaw in 1939 as World War II erupted, heading to the Soviet Union and leaving behind his parents and twin brothers Volf and Zelig, who were nine years younger. His parents and Zelig were deported from the Warsaw Ghetto and killed in a Nazi death camp, but Volf also managed to escape. The brothers briefly corresponded before Volf was sent by the Russians to a Siberian work camp, where Pietruszka assumed he had died.

“In my heart, I thought he was no longer alive,” Pietruszka said. He married in Russia and, thinking he had no family left, migrated to Israel in 1949 to start a new one.

Then two weeks ago, his grandson, Shakhar Smorodinsky, received an email from a cousin in Canada who was working on her family tree. She said she had uncovered a Yad Vashem page of testimony filled out in 2005 by Volf Pietruszka for his older brother Eliahu, who he thought had died.

Volf, it turned out, had survived and settled in Magnitogorsk, an industrial city in the Ural Mountains. Smorodinsky tracked down an address and reached out to discover that Volf, who had spent his life as a construction worker, had died in 2011 but that Alexandre, his only child, still lived there. After Smorodinsky arranged a brief Skype chat, Alexandre decided to come see the uncle he never knew he had.

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Smorodinsky, a 47-year-old professor from Ben-Gurion University in southern Israel, invited The Associated Press to record Thursday evening’s reunion at his grandfather’s retirement home in central Israel.

Upon meeting, the two men clutched each other tightly and chatted in Russian as they examined each other’s similar facial features.

“You are a copy of your father,” said a shaking Pietruszka, who has a hearing aid and gets around in a rolling walker. “I haven’t slept in two nights waiting for you.”

Throughout the meeting, Alexandre swallowed hard to hold back tears, repeatedly shaking his head in disbelief.

“It’s a miracle. I never thought this would happen,” Alexandre, himself a retired construction worker, kept saying.

It did, thanks to the Yad Vashem database of pages of testimony, whose goal is to gather and commemorate the names of all of the estimated 6 million Jewish victims of the Nazi genocide. The Names Recovery Project has been Yad Vashem’s flagship mission in recent years. The memorial’s very name -- Yad Vashem is Hebrew for “a memorial and a name” -- alludes to its central mission of commemorating the dead as individuals, rather than mere numbers like the Nazis did.

It hasn’t been an easy task. The project began in 1954, but over the following half century, fewer than 3 million names were collected, mostly because the project was not widely known and many survivors refrained from reopening wounds, or clung to hopes that their relatives might still be alive.

The names collected are commemorated in the museum’s Hall of Names, a cone-shaped room whose walls are lined with bookshelves containing folders upon folders of testimonies. Still, until 2004, more than half of the allotted folders remained empty.

That year, the database went online and provided immediate easy access to information in English, Hebrew, Russian, Spanish and German. Thanks to a high-profile campaign, and the efforts of Yad Vashem officials who have gone door-to-door to interview elderly survivors, the number has surged to 4.7 million names.

Another rewarding byproduct has been that of tech-savvy grandchildren using it to research their families, leading to emotional reunions between various degrees of relatives from around the world.

The rate of reunions has trickled significantly in recent years as elderly survivors have passed away, making each one increasingly significant, said Alexander Avram, the director of the database.

“It is not too late to fill out pages of testimony. We need to document each and every victim of the Holocaust,” he said. “But such a reunion is a very special moment because we are not going to see a lot more of them in the future.”

Debbie Berman, a Yad Vashem official at the reunion, said it was incredibly moving to be there for “the end of an era.”

“This is one of the last opportunities that we will have to witness something like this. I feel like we are kind of touching a piece of history,” she said.

For Pietruszka, a retired microbiologist and great-grandfather of 10, it was a fulfilling coda to a long, eventful life.

“I am overjoyed,” he said. “This shows it is never too late. People can always find what they are looking for if they try hard enough. I succeeded.”


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

Border Agent Dies After Being Injured in Texas

The Stream - Sun, 11/19/2017 - 23:00

VAN HORN, Texas (AP) -- Authorities are searching Texas’ Big Bend area for potential suspects and witnesses after a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent was fatally injured responding to activity there.

Border Patrol spokesmen said they could not provide any details Sunday on what caused the agent’s injuries or what led to them. Spokesman Carlos Diaz says the FBI has taken over the investigation.

Another spokesman, Douglas Mosier, says that 36-year-old agent Rogelio Martinez and his partner were transported to a local hospital, where Martinez died. Martinez’s partner is in serious condition. His name wasn’t released. Martinez had been a border agent since August, 2013 and was from El Paso.

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Border Patrol records show that Big Bend accounted for about 1 percent of the more than 61,000 apprehensions its agents made along the Southwest border between October 2016 and May 2017. The region’s mountains and the Rio Grande make it a difficult area for people to cross illegally into the U.S. from Mexico.

Border Patrol Officer killed at Southern Border, another badly hurt. We will seek out and bring to justice those responsible. We will, and must, build the Wall!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 20, 2017

The Border Patrol website lists 38 agents who have died since late 2003, some attacked while working along the border, and other fatalities in traffic accidents. It lists one other agent death in the line of duty this year.


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

CNN’s Stelter Fawns Over Trump Impersonator Breaking Down Gestures

NewsBusters - Sun, 11/19/2017 - 22:53
<p>To promote his Monday night special glorifying late-night comedians bashing Trump, CNN’s Brian Stelter closed out his Sunday show by showing off his giddy interview with Trump impersonator Anthony Atamanuik. Stelter was like a kid in a candy store as he laughed along with his guest as they joked about Trump’s speech patterns and mocked him for being out of shape. All during a show that’s supposed to be “about how the media really works and how the news gets made.”</p>

WashPost: Moore and Trump Ruin Christians, But 'Women Are Better Off with Franken'

NewsBusters - Sun, 11/19/2017 - 22:46
<p>The<em> Washington Post </em>Outlook opinion section on Sunday really demonstrates that this newspaper is deeply invested in Democratic Party spin. Editor Adam Kushner published pieces on how "Roy Moore's whole career has been a con job," and Trump is "warping American Christianity," but also "Women are better off with Franken in office." </p>

People are Mad the Museum of the Bible Represents ‘Only a Judeo-Christian Perspective’

The Stream - Sun, 11/19/2017 - 22:25

Some people have voiced frustration with the fact that the Museum of the Bible only represents a "Judeo-Christian" perspective and leaves out other religions Friday.

These critics say the Museum of the Bible, within walking distance from the National Mall in Washington, D.C., doesn't reflect other religious point of views, such as an Islamic one, and also singularly focuses on American Protestantism, reports The New York Times. One professor also critiqued the museum for not telling viewers which areas in the Bible are historically accurate or not.

"There are a number of prominent omissions that make it clear that it's not a museum of the Bible as one might imagine it from a secular perspective. They don't do a good job of talking about whether parts of the Bible are historically accurate," Joel S. Baden, Yale University's professor of the Hebrew Bible, told the outlet. Baden also disagreed with the lack of representation of Islam and Mormonism in the Museum of the Bible.

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The Museum of the Bible, with six floors of religious pieces, opened Saturday to the public. Described as a "must see" museum of 2017 by the Smithsonian Institute, the museum offers viewers the opportunity to see some of the earliest Bibles made in the United States, as well as witnessing an Israeli scribe working on a Torah and parts of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Hobby Lobby CEO Steven Green founded the museum and set up the foundation that would fund the $500 million project.

Museum executive director Tony Zeiss said the museum was trying to educate people about an influential historical text, noting that 100 scholars added their input during the museum's creation.

"Things are divisive, but we will not get into any of the cultural or social debates if possible. We just want to present the Bible as it is, and let people make up their own minds," Mr. Zeiss told The NYT.


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Copyright 2017 The Daily Caller News Foundation

The Atlantic Reports SJW Students Triggered By Steve Martin's 1978 'King Tut' Song

NewsBusters - Sun, 11/19/2017 - 22:05
<p>There are some situations in the news just begging to be mocked. One such example was the report that snowflake social justice warrior students at Reed College in Oregon objected to one of my favorite <em>Saturday Night Live</em> skits ever performed: Steve Martin singing "King Tut" in 1978.</p>

Why Amnesty Should Not Be Part of Any ‘Deal’ on DACA

The Stream - Sun, 11/19/2017 - 22:00

Talk of amnesty deals are making the rounds again in Washington. Here's what you need to know.

Apparently, the battles over tax reform, Obamacare, and the looming spending bill aren't enough to keep Congress busy. There are increasing rumblings that some lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are looking for ways to give legal status to illegal aliens currently in the United States.

When President Donald Trump was candidate Trump, he promised that if elected he would end the program known as DACA--the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals that gave legal status to illegal aliens brought to the U.S. as minors.

The program was one of President Barack Obama's most famous and arguably unconstitutional runs around Congress. He couldn't get lawmakers to do what he wanted so he took it upon himself to create a new law via unilateral executive action.

Not exactly what the Framers likely had in mind if you read Articles I and II of the Constitution on the roles of the legislative and executive branches of government.

Which is why the Trump administration's Department of Justice was absolutely right earlier this year to announce a six-month wind-down of the program with an end date next March. And because Congress, not the president, has the power to make or alter our laws, the ball is now back in its court.


Unfortunately, the only actions many in Congress seem interested in taking when it comes to immigration reform are the tried and true failed policies of the past.

Give amnesty now to those here illegally with a promise of later securing the border and doing the hard work to improve our country's immigration system.

Democrats are threatening to shut down the government if so-called "Dreamers" aren't given a "pathway to citizenship" in the end-of-year spending bill Congress must pass in early December.

Meanwhile, some Republicans are also considering various legislative amnesties, including a Senate proposal dubbed SUCCEED, the Solution for Undocumented Children Through Careers, Employment, Education, and Defending Our Nation Act.

Here's the deal: Whether it's granting amnesty outright -- as Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and a host of other Democrats want to do -- or whether it's granting amnesty to those here illegally if they agree to jump through some additional loopholes, it's still amnesty and it is still unfair to the millions of people trying to come here legally.

And, oh, by the way, it does not solve our illegal immigration problem. History and previous flawed actions by Congress prove it makes it worse.

We tried in 1986 when we gave legal status, supposedly a one-time deal, to 2.7 million illegal aliens residing in the U.S. Fast forward to 2017, and we have 11 to 12 million illegal immigrants now living here.

And all the border security and serious enforcement measures promised in 1986 that were going to come later? They never materialized.

More recently, there was the surge in illegal border crossings during Obama's second term as the president handed out promises of amnesty through executive orders and his administration did little to enforce our immigration laws.

Proponents of amnesty and those who don't want to do the hard work of real immigration reform are likely to dangle smaller and unpopular measures like getting rid of diversity visas in exchange for granting amnesty to the DACA population.

There's no doubt that the Diversity Visa Lottery Program needs to go, but we shouldn't trade one bad policy for another.

The same goes for debates over family, or what is popularly referred to as chain migration, workplace visa programs, sanctuary cities, border security measures, and how to improve the legal immigration process itself. All of these policies should be debated on their individual merits and whether they benefit America.

Immigration, both legal and illegal, impacts our country's culture, economy, and security.

Some in Congress may be tempted to play "let's make a deal" on amnesty and pretend they are doing something about our broken immigration system.

It's time lawmakers know that game is over.


Copyright 2017 The Daily Signal

On MSNBC, WashPost's Jen Rubin Hits Dems from Left for 'Harping on' Clinton Sex Scandals

NewsBusters - Sun, 11/19/2017 - 20:41
<p>On Sunday's <em>AM Joy</em> on MSNBC, it was another case of liberals speaking of former Bill Clinton's sex scandals as if consensual adulterous sex with Monica Lewinsky were the worst thing he was accused of as the panel discussed recent scandals from Roy Moore and Al Franken to Donald Trump. And for her part, pretend conservative Jennifer Rubin actually hit Democrats from the left as she complained that "Democrats keep harping on Bill Clinton," presumably referring to a recent willingness of some liberals to throw Bill Clinton under the bus to give an appearance of consistency in going after current politicians like Republicans Roy Moore and Donald Trump.</p>


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