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Surprise: NPR Spotlights Pro-Life Outreach To Abortionists and Clinic Workers

NewsBusters - Sun, 01/14/2018 - 04:17
<p>NPR's <em>All Things Considered</em> on Thursday zeroed in on a pro-life organization that tries to get the employees of abortion facilities to end their participation in the killing of unborn babies. Despite the surprising attention on former Planned Parenthood manager Abby Johnson and her group, And Then There Were None, the public radio program still inserted slanted language into their report. Sarah McCammon labeled the organization an "anti-abortion group." McCammon later noted that Johnson has "gradually been embraced by the anti-abortion rights movement."</p>

Not National News: Costco Pushes Back Against Seattle's Sugary Drink Tax

NewsBusters - Sun, 01/14/2018 - 02:23
<p>The City of Seattle probably didn't expect pushback from Costco, seen by many on the left as retail's "anti-Walmart," after its "sugary drink" tax of 1.75 cents per ounce went into effect January 1. But that is exactly what has happened. In moves the national press, which largely supports such taxes, has thus far ignored, Costco is itemizing the built-in cost of the tax on its Seattle store's shelf tags, and informing customers that they won't pay the tax if they shop at one of two other Costco stores outside Seattle's city limits.</p>

Politicizing proliferation policy - AEI - American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

American Enterprise Institute - Sun, 01/14/2018 - 01:45

North Korea’s apparently rapid progress last year in both its nuclear-weapons and ballistic-missile programs raises entirely legitimate concerns about U.S. intelligence capabilities. The New York Times recently reported that, as the Obama administration ended, intelligence-community analysts estimated that Pyongyang was over four years away from mastering the complex science and technology necessary to deliver thermonuclear weapons on targets within the continental United States.

Then, seemingly overnight, North Korea was igniting thermonuclear weapons and testing missiles that could hit the lower 48. The Times calls this an intelligence failure, certainly a serious matter. But the real reason was actually much worse.

A view of the newly developed intercontinental ballistic rocket Hwasong-15’s test that was successfully launched is seen in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang November 30, 2017. Reuters

Evidence in The Times report indicates that President Obama’s team dangerously politicized intelligence gathering and analysis, as senior officials strove to support their preconceived notions of the North’s true progress.

Throughout his presidency, Obama pursued a North Korea policy called “strategic patience,” which was in fact a synonym for doing nothing. As long as intelligence agencies assessed that Pyongyang’s threat was remote, conveniently fitting Obama’s predilection to do nothing, he could contend there was no basis for more robust measures against the North’s nuclear program.

Obama-era intelligence also conveniently painted a very similar picture about Iran as Obama desperately sought a nuclear agreement later characterized as an achievement comparable to ObamaCare in his first term. As with North Korea, if Iran’s program were not increasingly threatening, there was no danger, supposedly, from lengthy negotiations and an imperfect final agreement.

In both cases, however, the truth was much more malign, as North Korea is now demonstrating graphically. During the presidential transition, Obama blithely advised President-elect Trump that Pyongyang would be his most serious foreign challenge. How convenient that reality “changed” for the worst just after Obama departed the White House. Indeed, this “coincidence” is simply further evidence of how deeply his administration had politicized intelligence collection and analysis.

Government insiders recognize that politicization does not emerge via written directives from high-ranking authorities demanding particular outcomes. It arises instead when the intelligence community’s bureaucratic culture intuits what policymakers want to hear — and gives it to them. Highly ideological intelligence-community decision-makers, like Obama’s CIA director, themselves sharing the same benign view of North Korea, create a self-reinforcing feedback loop, rewarding “good” intelligence while shunting aside and disregarding contrary information and analysis.

Before and after the second Iraq war, critics of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney leveled charges of politicization simply because Cheney and others asked hard questions of front-line intelligence analysts. But such questioning is something that first-rate analysts, proud of their work product, relish, providing analysts with key insights into policymakers’ thinking.

What happened under Obama was far different, an insidious ideological fixing of intelligence results.

Post-Obama, Trump’s White House has a full workload to repair and improve American national security, from significantly increasing military budgets to building a more assertive diplomatic corps. Importantly, however, eliminating the corrosive effects of politicized intelligence also needs to rank at the top of his agenda.

John Bolton, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, was the U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations and, previously, the undersecretary of State for arms control and international security.

Black Mirror : Don’t Look

The Stream - Sun, 01/14/2018 - 01:30

Last night had a nasty, searing surprise. I saw things depicted on the small screen that no one should ever see. Which one hopes they would never think of. Nihilism, a philosophy of stark emptiness in human purpose and in ethics, is reproducing itself like a computer virus across the arts. Its bleak message is leaping from the minds of troubled writers into the hearts of millions of viewers. What follows here is a warning of where it leads us: To denying first God, then man.

I was asked by an online magazine to write a review of the series Black Mirror. Launched in Britain in 2011, it has had five more seasons so far, now produced by Netflix. The show won prime time Emmy Awards, features top-line actors, and offers a slick veneer. Reviews describe it as the contemporary answer to The Twilight Zone, boasting that it addresses troubling issues free of "censorship." Allegedly it probes the impact of technology and media on ordinary life.

So I invited my girlfriend over and we tried to watch the pilot episode. I have never been so revolted by a TV show in my life. I won't be watching any more episodes, thanks very much.

The Princess and the Pig

The episode tells the story of a British Prime Minister. So far, so good. I'd just seen Darkest Hour the day before, and was still a little bit high on Churchill fumes. (My review of that magnificent movie will appear soon here at The Stream.) I was primed to see a British leader tested for his courage and integrity.

But this prime minister isn't facing the threat of Nazi terror bombing or invasion. He confronts a terrorist threat of the most repugnant kind. Someone has kidnapped a young British princess, the most beloved member of the British royal family. And the kidnapper has an extremely specific demand, released on Youtube so that the whole world can read it.

There is no way to put this ... delicately. The terrorist will murder the princess in 24 hours unless the Prime Minister commits an unnatural act with a pig. On camera, for international broadcast.

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Dehumanizing and Flippant

Let's say it right off the bat: There is no way to tell such a story appropriately, for any TV audience. Period. Just introducing that idea into viewers' minds is nothing less than demonic. The writer who submitted it should have been summarily rejected, fired, then blackballed. He ought to be handing out rented shoes at a bowling alley somewhere. The producers who accepted it ought to be unemployable in the arts. Such catastrophic bad judgment and moral blindness disqualify them.

So it almost seems foolish to go on and critique how the show executed this execrable premise. Really, I should have turned it off immediately. But I'd already told myself "I'm supposed to write about this," so I sat through the rest of the hour. Or almost all of it.

Spoiler alert: I intend to spoil this episode so that none of you goes on to watch it. It's alternately appalling, dull, and dispiriting. We never see the terrorist. We never find out his motives. The Prime Minister and his staff try to track him down, but fail. They even try to do a "faked" CGI version of the unnatural act using a porn star actor with the P.M.'s face green-screened over his. That doesn't work.

There is no way to tell such a story appropriately, for any TV audience. Period. Just introducing that idea into viewers' minds is nothing less than demonic. The writer who submitted it should have been summarily rejected, fired, then blackballed.

So in the end, the Prime Minister, under enormous public and private pressure, goes through with it. We see the build-up. And we see the pig. Then we see the P.M. disrobe. I'm amazed that the makers of the show saw fit to end things there. Probably fear of animal rights protestors.

And then it turns out that the princess has already been set free. So the leader of Great Britain has bestialized himself for absolutely nothing.

The end.

Tortured Puppets Theater

I have never seen any piece of entertainment this nihilistic in my life. While it feints at showing the Prime Minister's grief and anguish, it also partakes in cheap, sniggering humor. The program tries to have it both ways: indulging our darkest impulse of morbid curiosity, then trying to pass itself off as gritty drama. That doesn't work. The show degrades the viewer and soils his imagination. None of the bleak moral questions that ought to arise are ever addressed. (Such as, for instance, "May we do evil that good may come?") You can't have human drama once you've dehumanized the characters. Instead of watching real fellow men and women suffer and strive, you're seeing some sadist filmmaker torture a series of puppets.

None of this stopped the critic from the (staid, conservative!) Daily Telegraph from praising this episode. Michael Hogan lauded it as a "blackly comic study of the modern media.... This was a dementedly brilliant idea. The satire was so audacious, it left me open-mouthed and squealing. Rather like that poor pig," Hogan wrote.

Why bring this to your attention, dear reader? First of all to warn you off. But also to point to the stark, aggressive nihilism that keeps cropping up in our media. We're not talking merely sinful or anti-Christian material. The new strain of "edgy" entertainment is anti-life and anti-human. It seems to want to blot out Creation itself.

Postcards from the Inferno

It's hard to avoid this stuff. There was no warning label on Black Mirror. Nor was there on another Netflix series, this one from Australia, called Rake. I tried to watch the first episode there, only to find that an entire sub-plot was devoted to ... "consensual" sexual cannibalism. It was played for laughs, of course.

Then there is the entire comedy oeuvre of Louis CK. Sad as his fall has been -- and perhaps out of proportion to his misdeeds -- it shouldn't have surprised anyone. His sole topic, it seemed, was the futility, squalor, and sadness of life. He offers that view of existence in one comedy special as an argument for abortion. And indeed, it is the only really logical one.

Given all that, why not a potted plant? A cannibal? A pig?

The darkness around us grows, and we really need to vigilant about the art and entertainment we let in our homes and hearts. Art moves us, despite ourselves. Too much of what’s out there now is shoving us toward the abyss.

Fake Ballistic Missile Emergency Warning Rocks Hawaii

The Stream - Sat, 01/13/2018 - 23:09

People in Hawaii were told Saturday morning to take immediate shelter from a ballistic missile attack that was imminent.

They received a emergency alert on their iPhones that read in capital letters: "BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT IN BOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL." Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard quickly tweeted that it was a false alarm.


— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) January 13, 2018

One reporter described some of the hysteria that ensued after the message was sent.

"We got alerts on our phone ... we opened our sliding glass door to look out onto the beach, we saw probably 10 different families running, not walking, running back to their room," CNN producer Lorenza Ingram told CNN Saturday.

CNN producer @lorenzaCNN describes receiving the false alarm in Hawaii: "We got alerts on our phone... we opened our sliding glass door to look out onto the beach, we saw probably 10 different families running, not walking, running back to their room."

— CNN International (@cnni) January 13, 2018

Officials later confirmed the message was sent in error.

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"USPACOM has detected no ballistic missile threat to Hawaii. Earlier message was sent in error. State of Hawaii will send out a correction message as soon as possible," Commander David Benham, a spokesman for U.S. Pacific Command, said in a statement.


Copyright 2018 The Daily Caller News Foundation

NY Times Movie Critic Mocks NBC's Matt Lauer Amnesia as Blatant 'Corporate Ass-Covering'

NewsBusters - Sat, 01/13/2018 - 22:13
<p>The liberal website Slate talked to <em>New York Times</em> movie critic A.O. Scott about a thorny subject: how do we evaluate the art of Hollywood creeps after they are exposed for preying on women. Scott took a shot at how quickly NBC News is running away from Matt Lauer, a “blatant act of corporate ass-covering.”</p>

The Loneliness of the Christian Thinker

The Stream - Sat, 01/13/2018 - 22:00

It shouldn’t be this way. But the fact is, it's a lonely world for the Christian thinker, the one who cares to think deeply and well about the faith.

I've just returned from a terrific week of fellowship at the annual Defend conference at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. It’s an apologetics conference, which means its purpose was to share and to study the many reasons for confidence in the Christian faith.

Speakers' topics ranged from the resurrection to the problem of evil. But even though I was one of those speakers, the talks weren't the real highlight of the week. It was the conversations instead.

Three nights in a row, my friend and team-teaching partner, Dr. Timothy McGrew, and I invited conferees for coffee and conversation. It was about 9 pm when we gathered each evening, but dozens came anyway -- so many that we had to move over to a nearby dorm lounge. We stayed as long as the dorm rules allowed.

And one of the main topics of discussion was how refreshing it was to be able to have the kinds of conversations we were having there.

The speakers’ talks weren't the real highlight of the week. It was the conversations instead.

The Loneliness of the Christian Thinker

During a couple of breakout sessions I asked a question I've asked many times before at other conferences. "Obviously you're interested in the thinking aspect of Christianity, otherwise you wouldn't be here," my question begins. "So, how many of you find yourself feeling very alone in that interest, back at home in your church and community?"

Every time I ask that question, every hand goes up. Just about the only exceptions are students and faculty members at colleges and seminaries.

Thinking Christians feel lonely. There's a sense that it's weird for believers to care about matters of the mind.

It’s Not for Everyone, But It’s Also Not for No One

It’s not that God expects every Christian to be intellectual. We all have different gifts, as we’re taught in 1 Corinthians 12 and elsewhere, and with differing gifts come differing motivations. The Church would be quite a strange place if everyone in it were expected to have the same interests -- and chances are, a church filled with thinkers would be sadly short on doers. 

On the other hand, a church that doesn’t give real value to deep thinking -- for those who do have that interest -- is cutting off one of God’s intended gifts for His body. Of course it isn’t for everyone, and it shouldn’t be. But it’s also not for no one. Yet my informal surveys show that for many thinking Christians, it feels that way. In some churches it's even regarded as wrong: "We don't ask questions like that around here!" "The Bible says it, so believe it!"

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This Loneliness Comes at a Cost

But as Professor J.P. Moreland explains in his book Love Your God with All Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul , this comes at a real cost. For centuries the Christian faith was viewed as a source of real knowledge. Christians founded all the first universities, both in Europe and in America. Christians founded all the natural sciences, and continued to lead in science long after it was underway. Similar stories could be told in music, literature and other arts.

But sometime around the middle of the 19th century, we began an intellectual retreat. It only took a few decades before we'd lost so much ground, Christianity was (falsely) thought to be opposed to reason and science.

Retorts like that are no help when people aren't sure they believe the Bible in the first place.

And within a few more decades, the intellectual ground we'd lost began to be matched with lost moral ground. The two losses were connected, because we found ourselves unequipped to explain why marriage and sexual morality (for example) really matter. "We don't ask questions like that around here!" "The Bible says it, so believe it!"

Retorts like that are no help when people aren't sure they believe the Bible in the first place.

The Loneliness Is Unnecessary

That's the tragic outcome of the loneliness of the thinking Christian. The other sad part of it is how needless it is. Christians make it through college, after all. Not everyone, of course -- but enough that it shouldn't be hard to find many of them displaying some intellectual vigor in local churches.

Christianity still has plenty to be vigorous about.

And Christianity still has plenty to be vigorous about. Rumors of its being "anti-science" are simply false. Real historians of science all know that; it's only dabblers who think there was ever any real conflict there.

And there's a bounty of scholarship these days in favor of Christian belief. As Dr. Gary Habermas told us at last week's conference, there once was a time when almost no scholar believed the New Testament accounts contained actual history. Historians today, however, are almost unanimous in agreeing on some of the most crucial parts of the message. And that’s just a sampling of Christianity’s growing intellectual strength.

It was a rare privilege to be involved in conversations like I had last week. It’s not for everyone, I know. But I pray the day will soon come when it’s no longer hard to find.


Tom Gilson is a senior editor with The Stream and the author of A Christian Mind: Thoughts on Life and Truth in Jesus Christ. Follow him on Twitter: @TomGilsonAuthor.

Leftist Journalists Demand Total Conformity on PC Culture

NewsBusters - Sat, 01/13/2018 - 21:00
<p>This kind of thing is no longer amusing or simply worth a shrug. It is very, very disturbing. Here’s the headline from <em>The Washington Times</em>: "Burlington Free Press editor Denis Finley fired over gender tweets." </p>

A Look Back and Look Forward for Rupert Murdoch Post-Disney Deal

NewsBusters - Sat, 01/13/2018 - 19:00
<p>By now, the shock and awe of Rupert Murdoch’s December 14 sale of 21th Century Fox to Disney has set in, so it’s worth a look back at how Murdoch built Fox into the mammoth film and television force it’s become today. Born in 1931, the Australian-born Murdoch has he left an indelible mark on the media industry. After inheriting his father’s media empire, he eventually acquired a slew of television stations, as well as the iconic movie studio 20th Century Fox from oil magnate Marvin Davis.</p>

This Week in Media Bias History: Comparing GOP Congressmen to the KKK

NewsBusters - Sat, 01/13/2018 - 18:15
<p>Media bias, “fake news” and liberal spin aren’t new. The Media Research Center has been exposing and battling left-wing propaganda since 1987. Now, you can keep track of the worst historical examples of media bias, courtesy of the MRC’s archives. Every day in 2018, research director Rich Noyes will be tweeting out “This Day in Media Bias History” from the files of NewsBusters and the MRC. </p>

2018 Golden Globes Review: Woke, Anti-Trump Lecturing

NewsBusters - Sat, 01/13/2018 - 17:30
<p>Would Hollywood dial back on its raging Trump hate? Could honorees avoid sanctimonious speeches for once? Would the industry’s bubble mentality finally break? Nope, nope and nope.</p>

Professors Say Lack of Ideological Diversity on Campus is a Feature, not a Bug

The Stream - Sat, 01/13/2018 - 17:25

You know who the real champions of open debate on our beleaguered college campuses are? Social justice warriors.

Obvious, right?

It was obvious to tenured professor of classics and ancient history Matthew Sears at the University of New Brunswick.

He wrote “Why ‘social justice warriors’ are the true defenders of free speech and open debate” for the Washington Post. And they printed it. So it must be true.

Sears is one of a growing rank of academics who see the enforced progressive monoculture at American universities not as a bug but as a feature.

He wrote that “the social justice approach -- which emphasizes the dynamics of power and oppression -- that many fear has taken over the humanities and social sciences at its best is actually an improvement over the ‘disinterested pursuit of truth.'”

Reality is Judgmental

It sure is an improvement! Why use disinterested truth when we can speak our Oprah-blessed self truths by using the dynamics of power and oppression? Just like those SJWs at Evergreen State College did when they stalked through campus with baseball bats daring people to disagree them.

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And remember: Disinterested truth can be awfully harsh. You’re a man who wants to be a woman? That’s your truth. But the disinterested truth insists you’re still a man. Ouch.

“In fact,” Sears says, “rather than being an attack on knowledge, the social justice lens reflects new ideas generated by academic disciplines and experts within them, and generally encourages expanding our knowledge and opening up subjects to new perspectives, much like Socrates advocated.”

Know What You Don’t Know

It’s not clear which Socrates Sears meant. Maybe the chef at The Pita Pit located in downtown Saint John. (Or perhaps Karl Popper’s cat?)

He can’t have meant Socrates the philosopher. Socrates the philosopher was all for the disinterested pursuit of truth. While in jail awaiting execution, Socrates congratulated his friend Crito on being well placed to consider a certain argument because Crito was “disinterested and not liable to be deceived by the circumstances in which [he was] placed.”

At that same time Socrates said that he would follow the path of reason “even if the power of the multitude could inflict many more imprisonments, confiscations, deaths, frightening us like children with hobgoblin terrors.”

Giving your debating opponent a concussion is not what is classically meant by the Socratic method.

It’s doubtful that Socrates would have supported the path of Social Justice. Like that followed by SJWs at Middlebury College. You might remember that they used the dynamics of power and oppression to shut down a speech by Charles Murray. SJWs hounded Murray of campus and tried to yank the head off of a professor accompanying Murray. Giving your debating opponent a concussion is not what is classically meant by the Socratic method.

A Pain in the Trump

The Chronicle of Higher Education is an influential trade journal for academics. It frequently publishes articles taking Sears’s side. Take “How the Right Weaponized Free Speech” by Joan W. Scott, who used to be a professor at the Institute for Advanced Study.

She opens by informing the world that she “was unprepared for the power of my reaction to the election of Donald Trump.” And what a powerful reaction it was! She hit herself with “diffuse anxiety,” painted herself with “a sense of fear,” and finished with a dose of “dread.” Good to know.

That sounds more like the SJW way of screaming like toddlers who have their lollipops taken away.

But what about the right “weaponizing” free speech? Scott says, “Free speech is the mantra of the right, its weapon in the new culture war.” “The right’s reference to free speech sweeps away the guarantees of academic freedom,” she writes. “To the right, free speech means an entitlement to express one’s opinion, however unfounded, however ungrounded, and it extends to every venue, every institution.”

That sounds more like the SJW way of screaming like toddlers who have their lollipops taken away. Nevertheless, Scott sees “blood lust” driving organizations like the National Association of Scholars who want to remind progressive professors that opinions other than their own exist. What about what happened at Middlebury? Joan says Murray is a “proponent of racist false science” and implies that thus he shouldn’t have been allowed to speak.

Trust Us, We’re Smart

Scott is comfortable with the one-sided thought control at universities. She argues that the progressives populating the professoriate are praiseworthy and perspicacious. It is thus our duty to listen to them, not question them on their own ground.

What about the Socratic method of “exhorting students to respect the ideas of individuals with whom they disagree”? She says that is “not the solution to their purported misbehavior.” Purported?

Her solution, like Sears’s, is to pile on more of what got us where they are. And since folks like Sears and Joan are in charge, they’ll likely get their way. Campuses will become even more insular. And more hostile to intellectual freedom.

GOP-Leaning States Line Up to Require Work for Medicaid

The Stream - Sat, 01/13/2018 - 17:25

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -- Republicans this past week began to realize their long-held goal of requiring certain adults to work, get job training or perform community service in exchange for getting health coverage through Medicaid.

Whether that’s a commonsense approach or an added burden that will end up costing many Americans their health insurance will now be debated in states across the country considering the landmark change to the nation’s largest health insurance program.

To Medicaid recipients such as Thomas J. Penister of Milwaukee, it’s created uncertainty about their ability to have health coverage.

He has been unemployed for the last four or five years and has received Medicaid for the past two. He sees a behavioral health specialist to deal with anxiety and said Medicaid has made a big difference in his life.

Penister, 36, said he is not yet ready to rejoin the workforce and is unnerved by the prospect of potentially losing Medicaid. His state, Wisconsin, is one 10 that applied to the federal government for a waiver seeking to implement work and other requirements for single adults.

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“Would it be advantageous for me even to go into the workforce instead of me therapeutically transitioning to a state where I’m actually ready to perform in the workforce?” he said. He compared it to someone recovering from a car accident “and saying that in order for me to give you this medication, you got to go to work. Well, I can’t.”

Yet his story also helps make the case for those who favor some type of commitment from working-age adults who benefit from Medicaid, the state-federal health care program for poor and lower-income Americans. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, sought federal approval for a work requirement last year and said it helps prepare recipients to leave public assistance.

Penister’s status is unclear, because Wisconsin’s proposed changes would exempt anyone diagnosed with a mental illness or who is mentally unable to work.

Republicans say work and other requirements will return Medicaid to its original intent -- to act as a stopgap until people can find work. They say it has expanded far beyond its basic mission.

The program, created in 1965 for families on welfare and low-income seniors, now covers more than 70 million people, or about 1 in 5 Americans. It expanded under President Barack Obama’s health care law, with a majority of states choosing to cover millions more low-income people.

President Donald Trump’s administration announced that it will allow states to implement certain requirements as a condition of receiving Medicaid benefits. Generally, it will mean that states can require many adults on Medicaid to get a job, go to school, take a job-training course or perform community service to continue their eligibility.

Ten states had previously asked the federal government for the requirement waiver, and others are sure to follow. On Friday, Kentucky became the first to have it approved. Gov. Matt Bevin, a Republican, called the new requirement “transformational.”

Bevin has said he expects the move to save the state more than $300 million over the next five years in Medicaid costs. But he also estimated that as many as 95,000 Kentucky residents could lose their Medicaid benefits, either because they will not comply with the new rules or will make too much money once they begin working.

Critics of the policy shift point to the number of people who could lose coverage, even if they meet the new requirements.

“We just have concerns that a lot of people who still are legitimately eligible, who do meet the work requirement, will end up falling off the rolls because they don’t know how to verify or there’s a technology glitch,” said Marquita Little, health policy director for Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families.

In Arkansas, the work requirement is among several new restrictions the state has proposed for its hybrid Medicaid expansion. About 285,000 people are on the program, which uses money from Medicaid to buy private health insurance for low-income people.

Supporters of the work requirement cast it as a way to move more people into the workforce and eventually off the program.

“These are people that are either underemployed or do not have sufficient training, and this is a mechanism to put into place to make sure that the health care coverage is really a bridge to training and better employment,” Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, told The Associated Press. “I think it really fits in with the goals of our state in increasing our workforce and training our workforce.”

States face limits on how far they can go. The administration has said states should exempt pregnant women, the disabled and the elderly, and that they should take into account hardships for people in areas with high unemployment or for people caring for children or elderly relatives. States also have to make accommodations for people in treatment for drug and alcohol problems.

Arkansas’ waiver request to the federal government says it would require childless, able-bodied adults on expanded Medicaid between the ages of 19 and 49 to work 20 hours a week or participate in other activities such as job training or volunteering.

In Maine, where Republican Gov. Paul LePage is pushing for a work requirement, Democrats are deriding the idea as essentially a political stunt to punish the poor.

“They aren’t about getting people back to work. Instead, it’s a political move to take health care away from people who have already fallen on hard times,” Democratic House Speaker Sara Gideon said. “The reality is that Medicaid supports work, and the sooner Governor LePage and the Trump Administration realize this, the better.”


Ehlke reported from Milwaukee. Associated Press writers Scott Bauer in Madison, Wisconsin; Adam Beam in Frankfort, Kentucky; Kelli Kennedy in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Bruce Schreiner in Louisville, Kentucky; and Patrick Whittle in Portland, Maine contributed to this report.


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

Not News: Tax-Cut 'Crumbs' Were a Big Deal to Pelosi and Dems in 2011-2012

NewsBusters - Sat, 01/13/2018 - 17:20
<p>On Thursday, House Democratic Party Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi characterized as "crumbs" the bonuses of $1,000 or more, pay raises of up to $3 per hour, and other benefits well over 100 companies have showered on over 2 million employees as a result of December's tax law passage. Given their track record, there's no reason to believe that the establishment press will report Pelosi's condescending remarks — or that they will remind their audience that in 2011 and 2012, the Obama administration and Democrats in Congress treated the prospect of workers losing $40 every other week in their paychecks as catastrophic.</p>

‘The Fight is Not Over’: Walk for Life West Coast Holds Its 14th Annual Pro-Life Rally January 27

The Stream - Sat, 01/13/2018 - 16:08

Walk for Life West Coast will hold its 14th annual pro-life rally on January 27 this year in San Francisco, California.

Started as an awareness campaign, Walk for Life West Coast seeks to "be a vocal and visual message that people of the West Coast stand for life," the organization states on its website.

Abortion Hurts Women

In an interview with The Stream, co-chair and co-founder Eva Muntean said she saw a need to bring awareness that abortion hurts women. "We feel that the Bay area, California West Coast really needs that message. There are a very high number of abortions here ... and so we started this as an awareness-raising campaign for women to know that there's help out there if you're pregnant, or if you've already had an abortion there are support groups. It's an awareness-raising event."

According to their website, Walk for Life West Coast is a way to "peacefully protest abortion, walking through San Francisco every year" on or near the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. This year the event will take place on Saturday, January 27. The rally is from 12:30-1:30 p.m, starting at the Civic Center Plaza in San Francisco.

Walk for Life West Coast also hosts speakers just before the main event. This year, speakers include Terri Beatley, author and pro-life activist; Dr. John Bruchalski, a former abortionist who now directs a pro-life medical clinic; Pastor Clenard Howard Childress, Jr., pro-life activist to the black community; and Joe Scheidler, founder of the Pro-Life Action League.

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There will be an "Info Faire" with exhibits where pro-life organizations can set up and pass out material. There will also be a "Silent No More Awareness Campaign" for women recovering from abortion, hosted by Georgette Forney and Fr. Frank Pavone from Priests for Life.

In addition, Walk for Life West Coast has spurred 16 other pro-life groups to hold events of their own near the main event on the days leading up to and following Walk for Life West Coast. This year there will be events ranging from prayer vigils to barbecues with a pro-life message. The groups include 40 Days for Life, Students for Life of America and others.

‘The Fight is Not Over’

Muntean said she hopes that the event will raise awareness not only about how much abortion hurts women, but will also "let people know just how much the pro-choice groups lied to get abortion legal. ... So many people don't understand or realize that happened and how we were manipulated [to pass Roe v. Wade]. I'm trying to focus on that in terms of young people today -- especially the young people -- [who] haven't really heard or know about how this all happened."

"We're really out there to let people know that the fight is not over, that we're still here making sure that all life is sacred," said Muntean. "[We’re] raising awareness."

This year thousands are expected to participate. "We've been pretty steady the last few years," Muntean said. "We're estimating [that] between 40,000-50,000" people [will] attend.” Buses will be transporting many people from the surrounding areas.

For more information on the event or how you can become involved, go to

University President Resigns Under Pressure for Not Firing Prof Cleared by Three Investigations

The Stream - Sat, 01/13/2018 - 15:18

Joel Seligman, University of Rochester's president, announced his resignation Thursday under pressure from activists who faulted him for not firing a professor accused of sexual misconduct, even though three separate investigations found no cause to do so.

A former Obama administration official who had been enlisted to re-litigate the charges for the third time concluded that there was no evidence of "a hostile work or academic environment for any female graduate students," instead saying that a federal complaint against professor Florian Jaeger contained misrepresentations.

"Some have urged us to simply accept as fact the allegations in the EEOC Complaint and the federal complaint. We cannot do that," reads the final report from former Securities and Exchange Commision chair Mary Jo White's law firm.

University President Joel Seligman's decision to resign was made minutes before receiving the findings of the third investigation. Though the findings turned out to be favorable to him, he wrote "it is clear to me that the best interests of the University are best served with new leadership, and a fresh perspective to focus on healing our campus."

Four hundred professors urged their students not to apply to the university because of the allegations against Jaeger. The university did not fire him, however, because "through two separate investigations -- one by an internal investigator and one conducted by an external investigator--no violation of the law or University policy was found."

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Academics working under him then filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), laying out a series of claims against the professor, but White's report found that not all its claims were supported.

After a Mother Jones story about the complaints, students were worked into a frenzy.

"I would urge you not to reach any conclusions about what may have occurred based on the allegations in the complaint itself or in media reports," Seligman wrote in a September 2016 statement. "Allegations are not facts, and as we saw in Rolling Stone's withdrawn story about sexual assault at the University of Virginia, even established media outlets can get it wrong."

The reference to fake news only angered students more, and under pressure, the university quietly edited the statement to remove the Rolling Stone reference. It agreed to hire the white-shoe law firm and said it would be completely fire-walled, with the report released publicly at the same time that the university's leaders saw it.

Before the findings were even released, however, students were attacking the independent commission. There have been "attacks on the Special Committee and on our independence and competence since being retained to conduct the Independent Investigation," the report read.

The complainants refused to cooperate with the investigation, saying it could compromise their federal litigation. Celeste Kidd, one of the complainants, said that the report's findings were "obviously biased and designed to falsely call us into question."

Forty thousand people signed a petition, and student Lindsay Wrobel went on a hunger strike and wrote emails to Seligman, holding him personally responsible.

"You are causing people direct and immediate harm -- and you deserve to have to face that harm on someone's physical body so that you cannot avoid it in the ivory tower," she wrote, adding, "I don't think anybody has the right to criticize how oppressed groups protest their oppression."

"There is no evidence of which we are aware suggesting that there is currently, or has been since at least 2014, a hostile work or academic environment for any female graduate students" in the Brain and Cognitive Sciences department, the report concluded, where Jaeger taught until he went on administrative leave.

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WashPost Assures Readers: Cold Weather ‘Weird,’ Earth Still Warming

NewsBusters - Sat, 01/13/2018 - 15:00
<p>In a laughable article for Thursday’s <em>Washington Post</em>, the paper’s Weather Editor Jason Samenow assured readers that record-breaking cold temperatures being experienced across the country this winter were “exceptionally weird” and in no way challenged the theory of global warming.</p>

Midwest Democrats Warn Party to Change or Get Used to More Losing

The Stream - Sat, 01/13/2018 - 14:58

A group of Democratic politicians from Midwestern states is calling on the party to change or face being a minority for years to come.

"The number of Democrats holding office across the nation is at its lowest point since the 1920s and the decline has been especially severe in rural America," Illinois Rep. Cheri Bustos, a Democrat, wrote in a new report.

After years of dominance in state and local offices, eight midwestern states turned solidly red around the time of President Donald Trump's defeat of Democrat Hillary Clinton, and Democrats have lost their authority.

"Hope from the Heartland: How Democrats Can Better Serve the Midwest by Bringing Rural, Working Class Wisdom to Washington," a report compiled by Cher PAC, an organization for Bustos, offers suggestions for how Democrats could accomplish such a feat.

Busto's report includes interviews with 72 Democratic politicians from "the Heartland" -- Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin -- who have won local and statewide elections despite the GOP sweep of the rural Midwest.

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At the national level, midwestern Democrats appear to be doing fine: 10 of the 16 U.S. senators from heartland states are Democratic. But the report warns that after 2016, "the rural vote in states like Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin and Indiana will be critical in determining whether Democrats hold those seats."

To regain influence in the Midwest in 2018 and beyond, Democrats must change their messaging, focus on jobs and the economy, reach out to Midwestern voters more and adapt campaigns to rural America, Bustos, who is up for reelection in 2018, says in the report.

One of the big problems is that Democrats seem to be most interested in national identity politics driven by urban centers than reflecting values of voters in rural areas.

"We say we're diverse and tolerant, but we're really not tolerant of certain groups," said former Democratic Indiana state Rep. Dennie Oxley, according to the report.

"The Democratic brand is hugely damaged, and it's going to take a while to bring it back," Illinois state Rep. Jerry Costello Jr., also a Democrat, said. "Democrats in southern Illinois have been more identified by bathrooms than by putting people back to work."

The big policy areas Democrats should focus on to attract rural voters to, or back to, the Democrats are infrastructure, education, small business, economic and national, agriculture, and reducing government waste, according to the report.

"If we don't get this right in the next two cycles, we're done," Robin Johnson, a consultant and adviser to Bustos told Politico, adding that the report is "a cold reality check."

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Let It Go

The Stream - Sat, 01/13/2018 - 14:19

The movie Frozen grossed over $1.2 billion when it was released in 2013. And despite it being my wife's least favorite movie, I was reminded of the song this past Sunday as a priest's homily tied Christ's roles as priest, prophet, and king to Lord of the Rings.

Yup, this is going to be one of those kinds of pieces.

Christ Let It Go

In his homily, the priest outlined how The Lord of the Rings has characters representing the three roles of Christ. Aragorn represents Christ the King, Gandalf represents Christ the Prophet, and Frodo represents Christ the Priest.

The priest pointed out that Frodo is the champion who got the ring -- representing humanity's sins -- to the Mount of Doom. Unlike everyone who came before him who had tried to destroy the ring, Frodo got right to the edge of the volcano that would destroy the ring.

But Frodo didn't do it alone. Sam Gamgee was with him every step of the way. Without him, Frodo would have failed a dozen times. And even then, ring's temptations are too strong for Frodo. It was only when Gollum's greed for the ring caused it -- and him -- to fall into the volcano.

Unlike Gollum and Frodo, Christ let it go. He bore all of our sins, and when it was too much he asked God why He had forsaken him. And then he let it all go, trusting our Lord to bear him to Heaven even though he didn't feel God's presence.

Let God

The oft-repeated phrase "Let Go and Let God" is an apt lesson for me right now. Unexpected financial challenges and other circumstances left me emotionally despondent last week. I hadn't been this down in almost two years, when an ex-girlfriend I thought I would marry broke up with me.

To summarize, I began to question my ability to make decisions after some unexpected and substantial work, personal, and financial challenges. I have also been not doing my part to ensure proper prayer at home, among other daily challenges. To add insult to injury, the pipes at our home froze and our dishwasher leaked water across half of the kitchen.

While I was not letting my emotional despondency take me away from my basic responsibilities to my wife, I was also struggling just to get through the day. She was a real trooper despite being ill. She did a great job of not letting me sink into any sort of long-term depression.

But I didn't really begin to come out of it until I reflected on Frodo and the image of Christ hanging above the altar. While Frodo couldn't let it go, Christ did -- and that's why He is the ultimate hero, while Frodo needed sin's greatest addict to ensure final victory.

I needed to let my expectations go. I needed to trust God with it all. Unknowingly, the priest doubled down on this point in a conversation after Mass. He said that it sounded like I needed to lead better at home with prayer, and that rather than put faith in the plan my wife and I put together -- I needed to put faith in God.

To paraphrase the priest, my family doesn't need my plan. They just need me. And I don't need the plan, I just need God.

Time to let it go. Here's hoping I can do so for the long term.

In one key meeting, Trump destroyed his critics’ credibility - AEI - American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

American Enterprise Institute - Sat, 01/13/2018 - 13:50

This week, two incredible events unfolded before our eyes: American television viewers were invited into the White House Cabinet Room, where for nearly an hour they watched as President Trump effectively led a bipartisan meeting in which he and congressional Democrats made real progress on immigration reform.

And it snowed in the Sahara Desert.

The reason for the Saharan snow was a rare blast of arctic air sweeping across Algeria. The reason for the rare public display of presidential leadership was the release of a new book by New York media gossip columnist Michael Wolff that portrays Trump as mentally unfit to be president. Wolff describes Trump as being like a child who “could not really converse . . . not in the sense of sharing information, or of a balanced back-and-forth conversation.” In just 55 minutes, Trump completely discredited Wolff’s thesis.

In true reality-TV fashion, Trump let the American people watch as he conversed, shared information and held a “balanced back-and-forth conversation” with his most vehement critics. He was charming, evoking laughter when he asked Democratic leaders, “When was the last time you took a Republican out? Why don’t you guys go and have dinner together?” He was substantive, explaining the problem with chain migration, the value of a merit-based system such as those in Canada and Australia and the value of his wall. And he challenged both sides to think bigger — “You’re not so far from comprehensive immigration reform” — and even offered to take on his own base to get it done. “If you want to take it that further step, I’ll take the heat,” he said. “I’ll take the heat off both the Democrats and the Republicans.”

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then an hour-long video of the president at work is worth more than 50,000 words of gossip and innuendo. Trump effectively asked the American people, “Who are you going to believe: Michael Wolff or your own lyin’ eyes?”

The video was devastating for Wolff’s credibility. Yet it also showed why, despite Trump’s outrage, Wolff’s book may be the best thing that ever happened to his presidency.

First, the book has prompted Trump to show Americans a side of himself they had not previously seen. Where has the White House been hiding this guy? Watching Trump being this presidential should not be as rare as snow in the Sahara. If Americans saw more of this Trump, he’d be rising in the polls. Trump needs to realize that it was this meeting, not his barrage of tweets, that finally destroyed Wolff’s account. The lesson is that being presidential is far more powerful than the tactics that got him to the White House.

Second, the Wolff book has discredited Trump’s media critics who embraced Wolff’s conclusions that Trump did not have the mental capacity to be president. NBC’s Peter Alexander asked during a White House news briefing, “Should Americans be concerned about the president’s mental fitness?” CNN ran a story declaring, “Doctors call Trump’s mental health ‘danger to nation.’ ” Politico reported that talk of the 25th Amendment, which allows for the removal of the president from office, is “Washington’s growing obsession.” The New York Times ran an editorial asking, “Is Mr. Trump Nuts?

Any sentient American who watched Trump in serious discussions with members of Congress could tell this “president with a drool cup” caricature is absurd. The fact that the media gave so much print and airtime to this caricature did more to harm their credibility than all of Trump’s incessant “fake news” tweeting over the past year.

Third, the book has brought about the end of Stephen K. Bannon. Not only has Bannon lost his White House job, he’s now lost the support of the Mercer family, his position at Breitbart and his credibility on the national stage. And he has earned a presidential nickname – “Sloppy Steve.” His demise is a blow to the ethno-nationalists of the alt-right and a chance for Trump to remove an albatross around the neck of his presidency.

The president is now at a crossroads. It was he who let the media stay in the room for the meeting, and it worked. So, what does he do next? Does he build on this success by delivering a substantive bipartisan State of the Union address, and use the power and trappings of the presidency to expand his base of support? Or does he go back to the tactics that made those questioning his fitness for office seem even remotely credible?

His opponents have overreached and given him an opening. The question is: Will he seize it or squander it?


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