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Updated: 11 hours 21 min ago

Strzok Finally Fired, Then Takes to Twitter and Launches a GoFundMe Page

Mon, 08/13/2018 - 21:18

Former FBI official Peter Strzok has reacted to his firing from the FBI, saying on a newly-created Twitter account that he was "deeply saddened" by the decision.

Strzok, the former deputy chief of counterintelligence, was fired Friday following an investigation into anti-Trump text messages he exchanged with his mistress, former FBI lawyer Lisa Page. The DOJ Inspector General also continues looking at his actions when he spearheaded the FBI’s investigation into now-President Trump.

"It has been an honor to serve my country and work with the fine men and women of the FBI," Strzok wrote, linking to a Go Fund Me page that has been set up to raise money on his behalf.

Deeply saddened by this decision. It has been an honor to serve my country and work with the fine men and women of the FBI. https://t.co/iET9SbeTrv pic.twitter.com/7VTswzjoxE

— Peter Strzok (@petestrzok) August 13, 2018

Jennifer Kay, a spokeswoman for Strzok's attorney, confirmed the authenticity of the account.

Strzok's lawyer, Aitan Goelman, said in a statement that the FBI's deputy director decided to fire Strzok despite a recommendation from the bureau's personnel division that he be suspended for 60 days and demoted.

The FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility investigated Strzok over anti-Trump text messages he sent while working on the investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government.

Strzok led that investigation, nicknamed Crossfire Hurricane, since its inception on July 31, 2016. He joined the special counsel's investigation in May 2017 but was let go after the discovery of his text messages.

He sent messages referring to Trump as an "idiot" and mocking Trump supporters. Strzok also wrote to Page on Aug. 8, 2016 that "we'll stop" Trump from becoming president.

Strzok appears to have been on Twitter for at least a month.

Though he has posted only once, he liked a series of tweets posted by anti-Trump pundits and celebrities following his marathon testimony before Congress on July 12. Strzok testified for 11 hours before the House Judiciary and House Oversight & Government Reform Committees about his text messages.

The first tweet Strzok "liked," which was posted by actor Jim Carrey, compared South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, the chairman of House Oversight, to "a vile insect." The tweet includes a sketch of Gowdy with the body of an insect.

"When Trey Gowdy woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found himself changed into a vile insect. After crawling into the people's chamber he was promptly squashed by Agent Strzok of the FBI." https://t.co/NrLGWEFBsI pic.twitter.com/qO0IDlUtxa

— Jim Carrey (@JimCarrey) July 14, 2018

Other tweets liked by Strzok are from pundits praising the former FBI official's testimony. And in another, Strzok endorsed a comment from author John Hodgman claiming that "establishment white dudes" have ignored "what a moral monster Trump was and is."

One reason this is so bracing is that since the election, the tactic of most establishment white dudes (on both sides) has been to blandly ignore, forget, and/or smugly eye-roll past what a moral monster Trump was and is. https://t.co/aDkpLrlmOT

— John Hodgman (@hodgman) July 12, 2018

Strzok follows several Obama administration officials, as well as pundits who have been heavily critical of Trump. They include former CIA Director John Brennan, former White House strategist Ben Rhodes and former Justice Department spokesman Matthew Miller.

Notably absent from the list is Strzok's former boss, James Comey.

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For a Stream refresher on some of Strzok’s dubious actions, please click here

West Virginia, Alabama to Vote on Adding Pro-Life Protections to State Constitutions

Mon, 08/13/2018 - 20:38

Alabama and West Virginia voters will cast their ballots in November to determine if their states' constitutions should add language stripping away legal abortion protections.

Alabama's proposed constitutional amendment, "Statewide Amendment 2," will ask voters to "affirm that it is the public policy of this state to recognize and support the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children, most importantly the right to life in all manners and measures appropriate and lawful." The measure will also guarantee that "the constitution of this state does not protect the right to abortion or require the funding of abortion."

"We want to make sure that at a state level, if Roe v. Wade is overturned, that the Alabama Constitution cannot be used as a mechanism by which to claim that there is a right to abortion," said bill supporter Alabama Republican Rep. Matt Fridy, Fox News reported Monday.

West Virginia voters will decide whether to adopt a "No Constitutional Right to Abortion Amendment," asking voters whether they want to add that "Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of abortion" to the state constitution. The ballot initiative comes after more than two-thirds of the state's House of Delegates voted in favor of the measure in March.

The West Virginia Senate also voted Feb. 9 in favor of a resolution that would allow the state government to restrict access to abortion by asserting the procedure is not and should not be a constitutional right. Senate Joint Resolution 12 states "nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right of abortion or requires the funding of abortion," according to the Charleston-Gazette Mail.

"It's the beginning of a trend," Florida State University College of Law professor Mary Ziegler told Fox News.

"If Roe v. Wade is eventually overturned, there will be some ugly state-by-state battles," she added. Ziegler is the author of Rights to Privacy: How Americans Reimagined Roe v. Wade and Why We Have Forgotten.

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Ziegler noted that the ballot measures seek to prepare for a case in which Roe v. Wade is overturned.

"They're playing the long game, because if Roe is overturned, states will be able to go any way they want to," she said.

"There is no guarantee that Roe v. Wade will be overturned," Ziegler added. "Everyone thought [retired Justice Anthony] Kennedy would be the deciding vote to overturn it and he did not. Justices act different when you're in a position to actually make a change."

West Virginia's legislature passed a law in 2015 banning abortions after 20 weeks gestation. It also passed a law in 2016 making it illegal for physicians to perform dilation and extraction abortions.

 

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Alabama Planning to Restore ‘In God We Trust’ Motto in Public Schools

Mon, 08/13/2018 - 20:01

Officials in Alabama are seeking to restore the words "In God We Trust" in public schools, after state lawmakers passed a law back in February allowing the motto to be displayed on public property.

The phrase could soon could become mainstream again in Alabama schools, according to AL.com, but legal challenges are expected to follow.

The Blount County's school board is said to be the first to take action and may end up creating a plan within 30 days to reintroduce the motto, AL.com reported.

"You would think that something that passes the Legislature won't be challenged in the courtroom but we all know that it can and probably will," said school Superintendent Rodney Green, according to Fox News. Green is in charge of a school system with over 7,800 students throughout 17 different schools.

Dean Young, chairman of the Ten Commandments political action committee, told AL.com his group hopes to push the ten commandments, the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence into all schools so children can learn of their historical importance.

"My hope is they have the Ten Commandments in the schools all over the state of Alabama as well as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the historical documents that go with this country," Young said. "That way, children will be able to see and ask, 'What are these documents' and a teacher can say, 'Those are the Ten Commandments and they come from God and this is what they say.'"

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"It's a tsunami of Christian national laws in our country right now," said Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation. She took issue with the rise in religious culture and blamed congressional Republicans for allowing it to get this far.

"The upcoming election will say a lot about the direction of our nation," she told AL.com. "With the Republicans in charge of Congress and so many of these states, we are seeing a constant push for theocracy."

 

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Joy Break: Retiring Cop Surprised by Son’s Homecoming During His Final Signoff

Mon, 08/13/2018 - 19:39

When we turn on our television or smart phones we are bombarded with news that brings us down. Where are all the good stories? Those stories are still there. Here’s one that we hope will bless you.

A Retirement to Remember

Southbridge, Massachusetts, police officer Duane Ledoux retired late last month after over 30 years of service. Ledoux had hoped his adult son, Nate Ledoux, would come home for his retirement celebration. But Nate, who lives across the country, led his father to believe he couldn’t make it.

On July 25, Duane’s boss, Police Chief Shane Woodson, thanked him for his service. Woodson acknowledged over the police radio that the call would be Duane’s final “code five” -- a term they used for finished up a scene. “I wish you the best of luck on your future endeavors. Congratulations brother.”

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Duane choked up and thanked the police department. He also thanked his two sons. One of his sons, Nick, died in a car accident years ago.

What Duane didn’t expect was for his son Nate to respond to his code five. From police headquarters, Nate announced over the radio, "It is my sincere pleasure to announce that … on this day, after 32 1/2 years of service, my father, Southbridge Police Officer Duane Ledoux, is retiring and has given his final code five.” Duane looked at the camera in his car. “Is that Nate?” A female voice heard on the video said that it was his son.

Duane teared up. “He did come home. … He came home. I called that.”

Watch. Maybe you’ll tear up too:

Polling Milestone: Democrats Officially Prefer Socialism To Capitalism

Mon, 08/13/2018 - 18:57

Democrats have a more positive view of socialism than they do of capitalism, a Gallup poll published Monday reveals.

Fifty-seven percent of Democrats view socialism favorably, while just 47 percent of Democrats have a positive view of capitalism, according to the poll. In contrast, 71 percent of Republicans have a positive view of capitalism, while just 16 percent viewed socialism favorably.

Monday's poll was "the first time in Gallup's measurement over the past decade that Democrats viewed socialism more favorably than capitalism," the polling firm noted.

The landmark poll comes as socialists are ascendant in the Democratic Party.

At least two members of the Democratic Socialists of America -- a radical group rife with Marxists -- could be headed to Congress.

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Socialist candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shocked the political world when she upset incumbent Democratic New York Rep. Joe Crowley -- a top member of the Democratic establishment -- in the June 26 primary. Rashida Tlaib, another DSA member, also won her primary on Aug. 7.

The Gallup poll had a margin of sampling error of plus-or-minus 3 percentage points at the 95-percent confidence level.

 

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Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

Parent of Jewish Pro-Trump Student Speaks Out About Teacher Bias After His Son Was Branded a Nazi

Mon, 08/13/2018 - 17:49

A parent who claimed his son was "intimidated" by his teachers for supporting President Donald Trump slammed the school on Fox & Friends Monday for allowing the bias to go unchecked.

"For me it started a couple years ago when a small group of kids went to the Trump rally and there was a picture taken and all the kids were branded on the internet by dozens of other fellow students with anti-Semitic and hateful remarks," Ed Urquiola said.

"In my case, my son is Jewish and he was branded a Nazi. Photoshopped on to his hat. It went all over the Internet."

Urquiola said he met with officials at Newton North High School in Massachusetts to discuss the issue, but claimed the school refused to do anything about it.

"This is in a town that likes to call themselves 'no place for hate.' And accepting, tolerant. However, in this case, nothing was done," he added.

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Urquiola said emails have come out showing anti-Trump bias among the school's teachers and said they need to be "re-educated and disciplined" for their conduct.

"I think they need to be re-educated and disciplined to some degree," he said. "When it affects, you know, the classroom and the kids are being bullied and Jewish kids being called Nazis. That's the only reason -- there was no behavior. And through the course of the year, these kids were intimidated by teachers."

"Now we have quantifiable information that there is systemic bias in the schools and something should be done about it," Urquiola concluded.

Watch:

Watch the latest video at foxnews.com

 

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Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

Strong Patents: Key to a Strong Economy

Mon, 08/13/2018 - 17:43

I recently had the pleasure to sit on a panel with a number of incredible inventors and leaders on innovation issues in an experience that was both inspiring and infuriating. Discussing a new documentary on the patent system -- Invalidated: The Shredding of the US Patent System -- which I had the honor of being interviewed for, we discussed the state of the patent system and American innovation.

The Patent System

I was inspired by these inventors who joined, and others who participated in this movie. Through ingenuity, creativity and persistence they have created inventions that save lives, increase productivity, make life easier or simply bring joy to our lives. The success of their inventions often takes years, emptying of savings accounts and other tremendous sacrifices. Our system of property protection -- through the granting of patents -- rewards those risks by guaranteeing the right to benefit from your invention.

The frustration comes in the stories these inventors told of how they believed in the patent system, played by the rules and still had their rights denied. This undermining of their rights has largely come at the hands of an overreaching administrative tribunal known as the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). An agency created by a previous congressional patent "reform" that was supposed to bring efficiency to patent reviews. Instead it's created a parallel patent review process that is tilted against patents holders and has become known as a "patent death squad" with invalidation rates near 90 percent in some cases.

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PTAB allows anyone -- anywhere in the world -- to file a petition to invalidate any U.S. patent as long as the challenger is willing to pay a filling fee. The tribunal's review doesn't offer patent owners the same legal procedural protections and standards of proof as a court of law, and the tribunal can invalidate any patent challenged at will. This creates an uncertain environment for patent owners. As a number of these inventors in the documentary explained, they had their patents challenged and invalidated at the PTAB even though they successfully defended them in federal court multiple times.

Why the U.S. is Losing Its Edge

As a result, these great inventors and entrepreneurs who spent years developing an idea, putting their families' finances at risk have lost their right to own their property -- even when multiple federal courts have upheld their constitutional property right.

Developments like the PTAB are a key reason why the United States has begun to lose its edge as the innovation leader of the world. Throughout much of our history, the United States has maintained its status as a global leader in innovation for decades, largely because we created a system that protects and rewards Intellectual Property rights. But now, that status is slipping away.

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Global Innovation Policy Center's 2018 International IP Index, the United States dropped to twelfth place in patent strength and was number ten the year before that. Previously the U.S. always held the number spot. The report also warns that the "overly cautious and restrictive approach" recently taken to patents by the United States "seriously undermines the longstanding world-class innovation environment in the U.S." A number of other innovation indexes have found a similar trend. Patents are a vital component of the American innovation economy and losing our global leadership in this area threatens our ability to say ahead of our global competitors on innovation.

Basic Legal Safeguards

Fortunately, the new head of the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) -- appointed by President Trump -- appears to understand the need to reverse this decline. Andrei Iancu, Director of the PTO, has proposed increasing the standards for bringing cases before this tribunal. The agency wrote that the proposed change would make tribunal hearings more "consistent with the claim construction standard used in federal district courts." This would provide patent owners with more certainty should their patents come under review by granting them the basic legal safeguards they would have in court.

Strong patents are an American tradition, an essential component of American ingenuity and innovation. Reining in an overreaching tribunal is a good first step to making our patent strength great again. Maintaining the strength of patents and of intellectual property rights are key steps to earning back our longstanding place as the world's leader in innovation and protecting America's inventors.

Omarosa Releases Another Recording, Threatens to Say More

Mon, 08/13/2018 - 14:21

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Former presidential adviser Omarosa Manigault Newman released another audio recording Monday that she says features President Donald Trump, as she threatened to “blow the whistle” on White House corruption.

The recording, released on NBC’s Today show, is purportedly a phone conversation between Trump and Manigault Newman after she was fired from the White House. It appears to show Trump expressing surprise, saying “nobody even told me about it.”

Manigault Newman is drawing fire from Trump’s allies and national security experts for secret recordings she made at the White House, including her firing by chief of staff John Kelly in the high-security Situation Room.

While the latest recording appears to show Trump was unaware of the firing, Manigault Newman said on Today that Trump may have instructed Kelly to do it, but she offered no evidence.

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said Monday: “I’m not going to get into the tick tock of who knew what when, but the president makes the decisions.”

He added: “For her to go out and praise the president lavishly after she left her post and tell the truth about how much work he’s done for the African American community and who he is as a person, I guess that wasn’t paying the bills.”

Manigault Newman, whose book Unhinged is out this week, suggested there was more to come, saying: “There’s a lot of very corrupt things happening in the White House and I am going to blow the whistle on a lot of them.”

Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, said on Fox and Friends Monday that Manigault Newman may have broken the law by recording private conversations at the White House.

When asked if she broke the law, Giuliani said: “She’s certainly violating national security regulations, which I think have the force of law.”

On Sunday, Manigault Newman told NBC’s Meet the Press that she surreptitiously recorded a number of conversations in the White House for her own protection. Parts of her conversation with Kelly were played on the air. Critics denounced the recordings as a serious breach of ethics and security.

“Who in their right mind thinks it’s appropriate to secretly record the White House chief of staff in the Situation Room?” tweeted Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee.

In the recording, which Manigault Newman quotes extensively in her new book, Unhinged, Kelly can be heard saying that he wants to talk with Manigault Newman about leaving the White House. The Associated Press independently listened to the recording of the conversation.

“It’s come to my attention over the last few months that there’s been some pretty, in my opinion, significant integrity issues related to you,” Kelly is heard saying, citing her use of government vehicles and “money issues and other things” that he compares to offenses that could lead to a court martial in the military.

“If we make this a friendly departure … you can look at your time here in the White House as a year of service to the nation and then you can go on without any type of difficulty in the future relative to your reputation,” he tells Manigault Newman, adding: “There are some serious legal issues that have been violated and you’re open to some legal action that we hope, we think, we can control.”

Manigault Newman said she viewed the conversation as a “threat” and defended her decision to covertly record it and other White House conversations.

“If I didn’t have these recordings, no one in America would believe me,” she said.

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The response from the White House was stinging. “The very idea a staff member would sneak a recording device into the White House Situation Room, shows a blatant disregard for our national security -- and then to brag about it on national television further proves the lack of character and integrity of this disgruntled former White House employee,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

The Situation Room is a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or SCIF, where the nation’s most consequential foreign policy decisions are made, and staff are not permitted to bring in cellphones or other recording devices.

“I’ve never heard of a more serious breach of protocol,” said Ned Price, who served as spokesman of the National Security Council in the Obama administration. “Not only is it not typical, something like this is unprecedented.”

Price said there is no one checking staffers for devices at the door, but there is a sign outside the room making clear that electronic devices are prohibited.

“The Situation Room is the inner-most sanctum of a secure campus,” he said, describing the breach as part of a culture of disregarding security protocols in the Trump White House. He also questioned why Kelly would ever choose to have such a meeting there.

In the book, which will be released Tuesday, Manigault Newman paints a damning picture of Trump, including claiming without evidence that tapes exist of him using the N-word as he filmed his The Apprentice reality series, on which she co-starred.

Manigault Newman wrote in the book that she had not personally heard the recording. But she told Chuck Todd on Sunday that she later was able to hear a recording of Trump during a trip to Los Angeles.

“I heard his voice as clear as you and I are sitting here,” she said on the show.

The White House had previously tried to discredit the book, with Sanders calling it “riddled with lies and false accusations.” Trump on Saturday labeled Manigault Newman a “lowlife.”

Katrina Pierson, an adviser to Trump’s re-election campaign who served as a spokeswoman for his 2016 campaign, said she had never heard Trump use the kind of derogatory language Manigault Newman describes. She said in a statement that she feels “pity for Omarosa as she embarrasses herself by creating salacious lies and distortions just to try to be relevant and enrich herself by selling books at the expense of the truth. ‘Unhinged,’ indeed.”

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway also questioned Manigault Newman’s credibility in an interview Sunday on ABC’s This Week.

“The first time I ever heard Omarosa suggest those awful things about this president are in this book,” she said, noting Manigault Newman “is somebody who gave a glowing appraisal of Donald Trump the businessman, the star of the The Apprentice, the candidate and, indeed, the president of the United States.”

Manigault Newman had indeed been a staunch defender of the president for years, including pushing back, as the highest-profile African-American in the White House, on accusations that he was racist.

But Manigault Newman now says she was “used” by Trump, calling him a “con” who “has been masquerading as someone who is actually open to engaging with diverse communities” and is “truly a racist.”

“I was complicit with this White House deceiving this nation,” she said. “I had a blind spot where it came to Donald Trump.”

President Trump tweeted Monday morning that, “Wacky Omarosa, who got fired 3 times on the Apprentice, now got fired for the last time. She never made it, never will. She begged me for a job, tears in her eyes, I said Ok. People in the White House hated her. She was vicious, but not smart. I would rarely see her but heard really bad things. Nasty to people & would constantly miss meetings & work. When Gen. Kelly came on board he told me she was a loser & nothing but problems. I told him to try working it out, if possible, because she only said GREAT things about me – until she got fired!”

Wacky Omarosa, who got fired 3 times on the Apprentice, now got fired for the last time. She never made it, never will. She begged me for a job, tears in her eyes, I said Ok. People in the White House hated her. She was vicious, but not smart. I would rarely see her but heard….

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 13, 2018

…really bad things. Nasty to people & would constantly miss meetings & work. When Gen. Kelly came on board he told me she was a loser & nothing but problems. I told him to try working it out, if possible, because she only said GREAT things about me – until she got fired!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 13, 2018

___

Associated Press writers Darlene Superville and Hope Yen contributed to this report from Washington.

 

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

Youngest Elected Black Republican in Connecticut History Talks Education, Race and His Faith

Mon, 08/13/2018 - 12:00

Rarely does the election for a local board of education make national news. Yet, last November, a surprise victory thrust Ed Ford Jr. and his friend Tyrell Brown into the spotlight.

On November 7, 2017, Ford bested four other candidates to win his seat on the local education board. It's a notable accomplishment for the 20 year-old black Republican, in a city where Democratic voters outnumber the GOP three to one. Brown, a fellow conservative and best friend to Ford since middle school, won a seat on the Middletown Planning and Zoning Commission.

"I didn't really think about the fact that I am still in college," Ford tells The Stream. "I just thought about my ability now to make change." In addition to his public service and ongoing university studies, Ford currently serves his local church. He volunteers as youth minister at Bread of Life in Waterbury, Conn., which his father Rev. Dr. Edward Ford Sr. leads.

While visiting the Washington, D.C. area, Ed Ford Jr. spoke with The Stream about his vision for education, recent notable experiences in his new role and how faith motivates him to action.

Bringing People Together Around Common Values

The Stream: As a college student, why did you decide to run for elected office?

Ed Ford Jr.: To be honest, I really wanted to get involved in the political process. I wanted to put my name in the ring in some form and capacity where I would be effective. My goal was to make change and a real difference, regardless of my age.

One of my core values is fiscal responsibility. A tax-and-spend ideology is unsustainable. In Connecticut, it's become continuous and habitual. People are being taxed into oblivion and they can't take it anymore. It's dangerous when our culture is to have the government take more and more. The people have to step up and say: Enough is enough.

Regardless of what city or state you live in, if you have the means to pursue public-private partnerships rather than government funding for certain programs, I encourage leaders to do so. Senator Tim Scott proposes solutions like this, where you get the private sector involved to help out in certain ways. Then we can scale back on public expenses where possible.

The Stream: In today's polarized environment, black Republicans particularly tend to attract critics. How do you respond to people who expect you to be in the other party?

Ed Ford Jr.

Ford: I tell them this. Respectfully, I have the values I have. They're values I believe in. I respect whatever values they have, whether liberal or conservative or whatever. We don't have to agree, but let's not forget that we're all Americans. We're all in the same boat here, and we need to work together.

Get to know people across the aisle, regardless of who they are or where they've come from. Try to work with them towards progress. We keep putting people in boxes, then we ostracize them because we don't like the category that they're in. We'll never get anything done that way. We need to recapture the sense of community that is desperately needed in this country.

Learning and the Leap of Faith

The Stream: What do you see as the big problems facing your city's education system?

Ford: One of the major problems we have in Middletown, as well as the state as a whole, is the academic achievement gap that we face. Minority students are achieving significantly less than their counterparts. That's something we believe we can defeat because we know all students have the ability to achieve above and beyond.

We need to provide the necessary resources for students to overcome the hurdles they're facing in their everyday lives, whether it's socioeconomic or racial bias. We want kids to be college and career ready, whether they're black, white or whatever ethnicity. That's been a problem for a while, and it's an issue I ran on. A lot of people who are passionate about this achievement gap are tackling it every single day, certainly in Middletown.

Here are some highlights of things I've been able to engage in my first few months in office. As well as highlighting some BOE Accomplishments in the same timeframe. Accountability is extremely important to me, as it should be for anyone who asks to be elected.#MiddletownCT pic.twitter.com/YcsYntWi8n

— Edward C. Ford Jr. (@EdwardFordJr) July 24, 2018

The Stream: How does being a youth minister give you insights into students' needs?

Ford: My faith is really the foundation of my beliefs and everything in my life. Working with youth in a faith environment allows me to see them on a personal level -- what they may be dealing with at home and with their families. Those things weigh on them as they're trying to focus on their grades. It affects their psychology.

For me, with faith being central in my life, I try to encourage youth to make that connection with the Lord on a personal level. I urge people to get to know God, because he has been good to me -- in hard times and no matter what. He is the solid rock you can stand on. You can continue to try again because you have that foundation.

The Power of Honest Dialogue to Bridge Divides

The Stream: Earlier this year, Middletown High School was embroiled in controversy after an incident involving a Confederate flag. What happened and how did students respond?

Ford: A student had brought a Confederate flag to school, and displayed it in the parking lot. Other students were not too happy about it because of the history the flag represents. It is a part of American history, but it's a dark chapter as many students expressed. My role in that situation was to listen and to be there for the kids. I didn't do too much talking, instead I listened to them speak, organize and unify.

Students of different ethnic backgrounds -- white, black, Asian, Filipino, Hispanic -- talked about how this issue affected them deeply, in a civil manner. It's an example a lot of adults nowadays could learn from. The students took a political issue and handled it very well. They expressed their concerns about race on a broad scale.

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Listening to 16 and 17 year-olds articulate their emotions in a comprehensive manner was eye-opening. How do we tackle the racist past that tries to pop its head up every now and then? How can we create an environment of inclusiveness in modern-day America? It requires a responsible conversation to deal justly with an issue that keeps people from going forward.

The Stream: Do you believe there are solutions within reach to bridge the divides between Americans of different ethnicities?

Ford: I do. Those solutions start with conversations. A big problem we have with race in this country is silence. A lot of people don't want to talk about it, they just want to be silent about it. And that's what perpetuates it. We have these stereotypes and come to conclusions about one another because we don't speak with one another.

We need to come together and have community conversations about race issues. We need to understand one another's backgrounds. You don't even have to agree; you can agree to disagree. At least you're building trust with one another in your community by talking. Then work towards solutions together that you feel are best for your community.

Potential for Higher Office

The Stream: What are the next steps for you in your studies, and perhaps in politics?

Ford: I'm majoring in psychology right now, and minoring in political science. I'm going on to my Master's degree. What I plan on mastering in is going to be either psychology or public administration. I really want to continue to go on further in my experience in government, politics and working with people.

I desire to broaden my ability to influence people to make change on higher levels -- whether state government or being elected to Congress one day. I'll follow where the Lord takes me. As a man of faith, I believe God orders and directs my steps as Proverbs 16:9 says. Wherever he leads me is the place I will follow, to try to make the best change I can.

 

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The Problems With Pope Francis’ Change in Catechism on Capital Punishment

Mon, 08/13/2018 - 11:56

In light of Pope Francis’ major change of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on capital punishment, The Stream decided to interview an expert. Prof. Edward Feser is co-author of By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed: A Catholic Defense of Capital Punishment.

The Law Writ on the Human Heart

Most of our readers here are evangelicals. So let's leave aside papal authority, for the moment. You're a specialist in the natural law. That's the "law written on the human heart" (St. Paul). We have the first scriptural evidence for it in the Covenant with Noah. Is that fair? Or would you like to describe natural law differently?

Not differently. But I would say that, left by itself, the phrase "law written on the human heart" is vague. A little more has to be said. Start with an analogy. Consider a non-human animal, such as a bird. There are various ends or goals it needs to fulfill in order to flourish. Building a nest. Finding worms or whatever to feed itself and its young. And so on. It is, you might say, "aimed" at or "directed" toward these ends or goals by virtue of its very nature or essence. It's just part of what it is to be a bird to pursue these sorts of ends or goals.

Now, we are like that too. There are certain ends or goals that we need to fulfill in order to flourish as the kinds of things we are. Some of these ends we share with the other animals. (Acquiring food and shelter.) Some of them are unique to us, such as the ends or goals that follow from our being rational animals. (Pursuing truth and acquiring knowledge. Using language, forming systems of law and cultural institutions, and the like.) But our having a certain distinctive collection of ends or goals follows from our nature or essence no less than in the case of the bird. And as with the bird, realizing these ends or goals determines whether we are going to be flourishing or healthy specimens of the kind of thing we are.

Dr. Edward Feser, via Youtube/EWTN.

Now that gives us an objective standard of goodness or badness. A bird that fails to seek out food or build a nest is, as a matter of objective fact, a defective or deficient bird. So too a human being who fails to pursue truth. Or to respect the rules necessary for social life, or what have you. He is to that extent deficient as a human being. And this standard is as objective in our case as in the case of the bird. What is good or bad for us follows from our nature, just as what is good or bad for a bird follows from its nature.

The basic idea of the natural law approach to ethics is that morality has an objective foundation in human nature in this sense. Of course, it gets much more complicated. When worked out philosophically, it requires a defense of what is called essentialism. (That's the view that things have essences or natures as a matter of objective fact. Not just as a matter of custom or convention.) Also of teleology (the idea of purpose or goal-directedness built into the natural world). And of course, it involves developing general principles. They're grounded in the human nature we all share. But they sometimes require some complex reasoning in order to see how they apply to various specific concrete moral issues. But the basic idea is that human nature is the foundation of morality. And to a large extent this is knowable to anyone even apart from whether or not he believes in God.

Joseph Bessette and I spell all of this out in detail in our book. We show how it provides a foundation for the traditional understanding of punishment in general and capital punishment in particular.

What Pope Francis Thinks

Okay. Can you please recapitulate in less fuzzy, emotive language the case Pope Francis makes against capital punishment in our present society. And then respond to it.

The pope makes two main claims. The first is that capital punishment is no longer necessary in order to protect innocent lives. That's because in his view there are ways to incarcerate violent criminals so that they can no longer pose a danger. The second is that capital punishment is, in any case, "an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person."

The teaching of Genesis 9:6 is precisely that capital punishment follows from a respect for human dignity.

The problem with the first claim is that, with all due respect to the pope, there aren't really any good reasons to believe it. And there are several good reasons to doubt it. Let's say developed countries have adequate means to incapacitate violent offenders short of execution. But there are large parts of the undeveloped world which do not. To insist that capital punishment is flatly "inadmissible" even in those countries is simply to put innocent lives at risk. It is ironic that the pope would recommend a sweeping policy change for the whole world that reflects what might be called a rather Eurocentric point of view.

Furthermore, the pope entirely ignores the issue of whether the death penalty deters. True, some social scientists deny that it does. But many social scientists have concluded, on the basis of peer-reviewed empirical studies, that capital punishment does have significant deterrence value. If they are right, then eliminating capital punishment will cost innocent lives. Of course, people can debate this. But that's the point: It's a debatable empirical matter. It is not something a pope or anyone else can simply decide by fiat. Popes have no special expertise on matters of empirical social science, any more than they do on matters of automotive repair.

Also, what about murderers who are already in prison for life and the danger they pose to prison guards and to other prisoners? Organized crime figures sometimes order assassinations, from prison, of people on the outside. So even in developed countries, it just isn't the case that all murderers can be incapacitated in a way that makes them harmless.

There is also a problem with the second, doctrinal claim the pope makes. At least if it is taken at face value, it seems to contradict scripture, the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, and all previous popes. Capital punishment is no more in itself contrary to human dignity than any other punishment is.

Inflicting on a murderer what he deserves is not in principle unjust. It is not in itself contrary to his dignity, but on the contrary affirms his dignity by treating him as a moral agent who must face the consequences of his actions.

As the Catholic Church has always taught, the default position is that an offender deserves a punishment proportionate to the offense. Some crimes are so depraved that no punishment less than death would be proportionate. That doesn't mean that the state should always go ahead and inflict a proportionate punishment. There may be various reasons to show mercy. You might even make the case that in practice you shouldn't ever give a murderer the execution he deserves. Though I think it is a mistake to go that far. But either way, inflicting on a murderer what he deserves is not in principle unjust. It is not in itself contrary to his dignity, but on the contrary affirms his dignity by treating him as a moral agent who must face the consequences of his actions.

In fact, the teaching of Genesis 9:6 is precisely that capital punishment follows from a respect for human dignity. It says that a murderer deserves death precisely because his victim is made in God's image. And the Catholic tradition has always taught the basic legitimacy of capital punishment. It was reaffirmed by many popes, from Innocent I to Innocent III to Pius V to Pius X to Pius XII and down to very recently. Even Pope John Paul II, who favored abolishing capital punishment, did not go as far as to declare it flatly inconsistent with human dignity. He acknowledged, in continuity with his predecessors, that in some cases capital punishment can be legitimate.

So, if Pope Francis is really saying that capital punishment is always and intrinsically evil. … Then he is, as far as the tradition is concerned, entirely on his own on this. He has no sources in Catholic tradition to appeal to. In the words he has added to the Catechism, the only authority he quotes is a speech of his own. From just last year. That's not much to pit against two millennia of previous consistent papal teaching and the teaching of scripture.

Did Moses Violate Human Dignity?

Catholics are arguing about this, but it seems to me that Francis is also looking back retrospectively. He's saying that capital punishment always violated human dignity. But we're just now realizing it. Is he saying that? If so, what are the implications of that? They seem radical to me.

Some of what he says does seem to be implying that. But there are also things that seem to point in the opposite direction. For example, the letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (or CDF) that announced the change claimed that it does not contradict past teaching but merely "develops" it.

But it’s no good merely to assert that you aren't contradicting something, if the rest of what you say does in fact seem to contradict it. Suppose I said to you that all men are mortal and Socrates is a man. Then a day later I told you that Socrates is not mortal. You would say "Hey, you just contradicted what you said yesterday!" And it would be ridiculous if I responded "No, I'm not contradicting it, I'm just developing it."

In the same way, if you simply assert flatly that capital punishment is "an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person" and is for that reason "inadmissible," you seem to be saying that it is intrinsically wrong to apply capital punishment. And since scripture and previous popes said the opposite, you seem to be contradicting them.

A ridiculous aspect of the debate over this issue is how defenders of the revision to the Catechism will insist that if you stand on your head and squint real hard and also have a degree in theology, you will be able to come up with a clever way to make the text look like it is not in conflict with traditional teaching.

Defenders of the revision to the Catechism will insist that if you stand on your head and squint real hard and also have a degree in theology, you will be able to come up with a clever way to make the text look like it is not in conflict with traditional teaching. If it takes that much effort to read the text in an orthodox way, then that is itself a serious problem. Catechisms are supposed to be clear.

If it takes that much effort to read the text in an orthodox way, then that is itself a serious problem. Catechisms are supposed to be clear. It's true that they don't try to answer every question. A theologian will see things the ordinary person wouldn't. But nevertheless a catechism is supposed to be accessible to the average person. So if the average person would naturally read the new text as saying that capital punishment is intrinsically wrong, then we have a problem.

And after all, it really isn't that hard to say "Capital punishment is not intrinsically evil, but you should still not ever use it, and here's why." So why doesn't the text just say that? The pope has to realize that people will read the revision as saying capital punishment is intrinsically evil.

The implications are, as you say, radical. What if the Church has been this wrong for this long about something this serious? Then people are bound to ask themselves why we should believe the Church hasn't gotten lots of other things wrong. Moreover, if Innocent I, Innocent II, Pius V, Pius X, Pius XII, John Paul II and so on all got things so badly wrong, why suppose that Pope Francis has gotten them right? If he really means to reverse the traditional teaching, then the pope's action threatens to undermine his own credibility along with the credibility of past teaching. It would in that way be a kind of self-defeating action.

So I think it is very important that he revisits this issue and explicitly reaffirms the traditional doctrine that capital punishment is not intrinsically evil. Merely having the CDF letter assert that there is no contradiction is not enough to remove the appearance of a contradiction.

Are We So Much More Enlightened Now?

Is Pope Francis engaged in what C.S. Lewis called "chronological snobbery"?

To the extent that the revision to the Catechism appeals to a "new understanding" of punishment and the "increasing awareness" of human dignity that people allegedly have "today," you could make a case for that. The CDF cover letter suggests that this new understanding emphasizes "rehabilitation and social reintegration," apparently instead of retributive justice.

What about murderers who are already in prison for life and the danger they pose to prison guards and to other prisoners? Organized crime figures sometimes order assassinations, from prison, of people on the outside. So even in developed countries, it just isn't the case that all murderers can be incapacitated in a way that makes them harmless.

Here too, unfortunately, there are serious problems. Pope Pius XII in a number of speeches addressed the subject of criminal justice and punishment at greater length and in more systematic depth than probably any pope in history. He explicitly criticized the suggestion that we ought to follow the tendency of modern criminal justice to emphasize rehabilitation at the expense of retributive justice. He explicitly taught that the importance of retributive justice, of inflicting on the offender the penalty he deserves, is rooted in divine revelation and is not a merely historically contingent approach. Joe Bessette and I quote from and discuss Pius's various speeches on this topic at some length in our book. That's because they are so beautifully clear and logical and systematic. But they are essentially ignored in contemporary Catholic discussions of crime and punishment.

Pope Francis gave a speech last October. In it, he discussed the idea of changing the Catechism. He criticized what he called "static," "rigid," and "immutable" interpretations of doctrine. That too might seem to imply that modern Christians have a better understanding of things than their forebears in the Faith did. Yet static, rigid, and immutable interpretations of doctrine are exactly what the First Vatican Council and Pope St. Pius X solemnly taught were essential to the very character of Catholicism. Cardinal John Henry Newman, the great theorist of the development of doctrine, emphasized that a true development is precisely not a reversal of the teaching of the past. That would be a corruption of doctrine rather than a development.

The Church of the Happy Moments?

The roots of this change lie in Pope John Paul II's changes to the Church catechism. He removed from it -- without condemning -- the primary traditional justification for capital punishment, enacting justice. He left it only as a last resort, where no other means would protect society from the criminal. Without that, it's hard to see how executing the Nazis at Nuremberg was just, since Allied prisons were plenty secure. Do you see this as creeping toward utilitarianism?

Absolutely not. Pope John Paul II was the last man you could ever accuse of being a utilitarian. Indeed, he was, you might say, gloriously static, rigid, and immutable in his defense of moral absolutes. But it is true that when dealing with matters of punishment, he preferred not to put emphasis on the idea of inflicting just deserts. As is often pointed out, the unspeakably nasty treatment of human beings that he witnessed under Nazism and Communism probably had a lot to do with that. Not to mention the generally bureaucratic and impersonal way that criminal justice, like so much else in human life, has come to be practiced in modern times. And I think that is indeed something to be concerned about. Though I don't think it really has anything more to do with capital punishment, specifically, than it does other punishments.

Joe Bessette and I demonstrate in our book that it is a myth that John Paul II in any way rejected the traditional understanding of punishment as fundamentally a matter of retributive justice. Including capital punishment. It is clearly there in his teaching if you read it without preconceptions. But there are other purposes of punishment beyond those of retributive justice, and he preferred to emphasize those.

Regarding the Nuremberg executions, I'm not sure what John Paul would have said. But he certainly wouldn't say that they were unjust, because he explicitly acknowledged that capital punishment can be just in some circumstances. And I would not be surprised if he would have allowed that those circumstances would have existed in that case. I think what he primarily had in mind in pushing for abolition was everyday criminal justice in a modern Western democracy. However, it does seem that Pope Francis's position, which is more extreme than John Paul's, would rule out even the Nuremberg executions.

No Life Imprisonment Either

Pope Francis has also condemned life imprisonment as cruel, depriving prisoners of "hope." Can you speak to his understanding of "hope"?

I can't say I know exactly what the pope means. I do know that hope, as a Christian virtue, is possible whatever one's material circumstances. Certainly an offender who has done something so evil that he merits life imprisonment can still have hope. He can repent of his sins, receive the sacraments, and look forward to eternal life, which is ultimately what matters.

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People who defend Pope Francis's views on capital punishment and demand that other Catholics agree with them, never seem to want to talk about the pope's condemnation of life imprisonment. Are we all supposed to agree with that too? Notice that here too the pope is saying something that has no basis in Catholic tradition. Indeed, the United States Catholic Bishops have in the past advocated life imprisonment as an alternative to capital punishment. Would they now abandon that? If life imprisonment is out too, exactly what are we supposed to do with mass murderers and serial killers?

Development, Schmevelopment

Now let's talk Church authority. There are several possible ways to evaluate Pope Francis' latest move. I'll lay them out as I've seen them. Then ask you to comment on them.

a) A legitimate development of doctrine, which is binding on the conscience of every Catholic.

There is no development of doctrine here at all. Either the pope intends to reverse past teaching or he does not. If he does, then there is no "development" of past doctrine but a contradiction of past doctrine. And no pope has the authority to do that. If he tries, he's simply guilty of a doctrinal error, and that's that. And it is possible for popes to make doctrinal errors when not speaking ex cathedra. It's even happened a couple of times in the past, though it is very rare. The best-known examples are Pope Honorius I and Pope John XXII.

When I point this out, critics sometimes accuse me of putting my authority over the pope's. That is just silly. It's got nothing to do with me. I'm just citing what the Church herself says. The First Vatican Council explicitly tells us that popes cannot introduce new doctrines. Pope Benedict XVI reiterated this. Donum Veritatis, a document issued by the CDF under Pope John Paul II, acknowledged that magisterial documents can be deficient in various ways. And that a loyal theologian has the right, and in some cases even the duty, respectfully to call these problems to the attention of the Church.

People who say that those of us who are defending over 2000 years of scriptural and traditional teaching are "dissenters" comparable to Catholics who support abortion or contraception. … They simply don't know what they are talking about.

The pope is saying something that has no basis in Catholic tradition.

The other possibility is that the pope does not intend to reverse past teaching. But in that case, there's also no development of doctrine. It would merely be a prudential judgment about how to apply traditional teaching to current circumstances. And Catholics are not obligated to give such judgments more than respectful consideration. That's because they involve judgments about empirical matters (such as the adequacy of the modern prison, the deterrence value of capital punishment, and so on) about which the Church has no special expertise.

In 2004, Cardinal Ratzinger, who was then John Paul II's chief doctrinal officer and who later became Pope Benedict XVI, made it clear that:

If a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment... he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion... There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about... applying the death penalty.

I see no good reason why these words don't apply now just as much as they did then.

Up for Grabs?

b) A dissent from what appeared to be a unanimous tradition. However, since the previous doctrine was never taught dogmatically by either pope or council, it's not heresy per se. Instead, it removes the doctrine from the consensus of the Ordinary Magisterium, leaving us free (for now) to take either position, on the merits as we see them.

A teaching can be infallibly and irreformably taught by the Ordinary Magisterium of the Church even if a pope or a council does not explicitly declare it as dogma. I have argued elsewhere that the traditional teaching upholding the legitimacy in principle of capital punishment meets the criteria for this sort of infallible and irreformable teaching. And of course, Joe Bessette and I make this case in our book. So I would say that we are not free to take either position. Orthodoxy does not require a Catholic to support capital punishment in practice. But it does require a Catholic to hold that it can be permissible at least in theory.

An Accidental Heresy?

c) Material heresy, since Pope Francis is rejecting a doctrine that was indeed taught infallibly by Scripture and Tradition, though he believes he's legitimately developing it.

The trouble here is that the statements the pope has made are ambiguous. He has not clearly and explicitly said that capital punishment is intrinsically evil. Though he has said things that on a face value reading seem to imply that. Why he doesn't just come out and say "No, of course I am not saying that," you would have to ask him. Anyway, even if the new wording is problematic, it doesn't follow from that that it is materially heretical.

But the Church has traditionally condemned all sorts of propositions that were not strictly heretical. Namely, statements that seemed to imply propositions that are heretical or were otherwise misleading or badly phrased. For example, some propositions have in the past been condemned as "ambiguous," or "rash," or "offensive to pious ears," or "scandalous," or "proximate to heresy." These are traditionally labeled as alternative possible "theological censures."

So it won't do for people to pretend that as long as you can come up with some strained reading that allows a specific problematic statement to just get under the bar of consistency with traditional teaching, then everything is hunky dory. That would rule out almost nothing. And magisterial statements are supposed to be the opposite of that. They are supposed to clarify things. Not make them less clear. And again, it really isn't hard to do. Just say: "Capital punishment is not intrinsically evil - however it's better never to use it, and here's why."

Intentional Heresy?

d) Formal heresy, since Pope Francis has been warned repeatedly that this doctrine is de fide.

There is definitely no formal heresy here. The pope has not been "warned" in the relevant sense. There would at the very least have to be some formal act like the cardinals reproving the pope, followed by his obstinately continuing to teach a false doctrine. And it would have to be somebody with actual ecclesiastical authority who makes this formal correction of a pope. The cardinals would plausibly have that, since their job is precisely to advise the pope. Some guy on a blog accusing the pope of heresy is not sufficient.

Some of the Church's greatest theologians, such as Francisco Suarez and St. Robert Bellarmine, have addressed the question of whether a pope could be a formal heretic. And what the consequences would be. Would he thereby lose his office? What would the mechanics of that look like? And so on. The standard view seems to be that this is possible in theory. But theologians disagree about whether the Holy Spirit would allow it ever actually to occur. So far in Church history it's been a purely academic discussion.

Aid and Comfort to Pro-Abortion Catholics?

Do you expect pro-abortion candidates who oppose the death penalty to use this now against their opponents who oppose abortion but favor capital punishment? To argue "We both dissent from the Church in our own ways. …"?

More likely they'll loudly accuse pro-capital punishment Catholics of being dissenters. But still hold to a pro-abortion position and consider themselves to be Catholics in good standing nonetheless. Recognizing irony and cognitive dissonance is not something these people are very good at.

Anyway, the comparison is too stupid for words. Those who defend capital punishment in principle? They're simply reiterating the constant teaching of scripture, the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, and all popes up until maybe about a week ago, depending on how you interpret Pope Francis's revision. The pro-abortion group is flatly rejecting the constant teaching of scripture, the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, and all popes. It's day and night.

The Church herself allows theologians respectfully to raise criticisms of magisterial statements that are deficient. As I have shown elsewhere, this has deep roots in the tradition. Now there can be no clearer mark of deficiency in a magisterial statement than the appearance of a rupture with the past. Defenders of capital punishment want to keep continuity with the past. Defenders of abortion want to overthrow the past. Pope Benedict XVI famously insisted on a "hermeneutic of continuity." Pope St. Pius X vigorously condemned any suggestion that Catholic doctrine could "evolve" or introduce novelties. This conservative attitude toward past teaching absolutely permeates the entire history of the Magisterium of the Church from the beginning.

Catholics who defend capital punishment are manifestly the ones in sync with this orthodox attitude, whereas Catholics who defend abortion are manifestly out of sync with it.

Learn More in Depth

What will readers of your book on capital punishment learn about the issue?

How overwhelming is the evidence that scripture, the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, and all previous popes have consistently taught that capital punishment is legitimate in principle. So this doctrine cannot be overturned. In one review of the book, the well-known Catholic theologian Janet Smith concluded that "the book simply flattens its opponents" on this issue. Readers will also learn a lot about the natural law justification of capital punishment. And the social scientific evidence that capital punishment does have significant deterrence value. And the weaknesses in claims to the effect that capital punishment is applied in a discriminatory way or that there is a significant risk of executing innocent people, and so on. It is probably the most thorough and detailed defense of capital punishment written from a Catholic point of view that has ever appeared.

Naturally, there have been some negative reviews. What is especially noteworthy is how prone some of the critics have been to ad hominem attacks and a refusal even to engage with the central arguments of the book. That speaks volumes. I have, in any event, answered all of these criticisms at some length.

For Catholics, A Clarifying Scandal

Mon, 08/13/2018 - 11:50

Scandal has a way of clarifying things.

It cuts right through both the fluff and the dross and reduces things down to their essence.

The Catholic Church is currently mired in the most revolting filth. It’s hard to find words to express how much grief, discouragement, and rage this is causing among the faithful. I know I’ve never felt such sorrow in my heart for my Church.

There’s no sugar-coating this. It’s perverted, disgusting, and vile. Hell is having a heyday. And so far, the bishops still do not get it. They’re issuing lawyer-approved statements that waste a lot of pixels saying just about nothing that means anything. It reads like an awful lot of CYA.

Cardinal Wuerl recently had a bizarre interview with Fr. Rosica in which they were both rather light-hearted about the whole thing, calling it a time of “new beginnings.” Then Wuerl began talking about how well the 2002 Dallas Charter has worked, in his estimation. Why? Because any allegations you hear about these days happened decades ago, so clearly the bishops' “strong stand” has been effective.

Uh huh. The “strong stand” from which they conveniently exempted themselves.

So now Wuerl says all we need is a mechanism by which people can report a complaint against a bishop. In a staggeringly euphemistic turn of phrase, he said this mechanism he’s proposing would help “when a bishop isn’t as faithful as he needs to be. …”

Isn’t as faithful as he needs to be? When he’s preying on seminarians or altar boys, or ruining the lives of faithful priests who dared confront him with the sexual sin being enabled right under his nose? That’s just "not being as faithful as he needs to be"?

With one or two worthy exceptions, the statements I’ve read from those bishops who have offered one have been pathetically lacking in courage, integrity, and comprehension. These men are blind, either willfully or stupidly.

It's the Sin, Stupid

The faithful are justifiably furious and disgusted by the perversion and lies. The sense of betrayal runs bone-deep. It’s the realization of a child who finally sees he’s been had by his own father. We’ve been made a chump. Abused and lied to by smiling wolves in white collars.

That is what our bishops still fail to understand. They want us to be soothed by platitudes about policies and reforms, and the faithful are bleeding from the wounds of sin. Sin that our prelates still won’t even name or confess. It's pure evil, yet they will not call it evil. Truly, there seems to be little or no fear of hell.

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Their remorse seems to be only for the suffering they are now going through because their filthy scandal is public and they cannot hide from it. Their sorrow seems more for the cover they have lost, not for the violence their sin has caused the Body of Christ or the souls they have endangered.

If and when they finally start publicly acknowledging the truth that the Lavender Mafia has thoroughly infested and taken over the Church at the highest levels, and then publicly repent of that sexual sin and their own complicity, and then actively work to dismantle the homosexual networks, then perhaps some credibility will begin to be restored. Unless and until they do that, all their words are utterly wasted. 

They must get it through their heads that trust is gone. Totally shattered. They’ve given the faithful no reason whatsoever to take them seriously. Indeed, we’d be the most laughable fools at this point to think that our prelates merit any confidence at all.

I Still Love the Church

I’m a daughter of the Church. I’m Catholic, and I’m not going anywhere. As I said, scandal has a way of clarifying things. My faith has never been in any bishop or priest, but in Christ Jesus, and He still reigns. My love for the Church has grown, not lessened, as I witness how She has been sullied and betrayed. 

It brings into sharp relief how absolutely, unalterably true are the teachings of the Church regarding the human person, human sexuality, marriage, chastity, and holiness, because we have all around us the smoldering wreckage from those who have violated those teachings.

This mess isn't the result of Catholic clergy doing Catholicism badly, but of clergy not being Catholic at all.

The Church is bound up in filthy chains today not because Church teaching is unrealistic or unkind or irrelevant, but because too many have traded in that sound teaching for the ear-tickling lies of the world.

There are still many good and holy priests and bishops in the Church. We need them more than ever. I thank God for them, and they have my unwavering support. I am angry on their behalf as well, for they will suffer because of the sins of their brother priests.

Nothing less than a complete purging of the homosexual networks from every diocese, every chancery, every seminary, every parish, and every ministry will suffice. Cardinals and bishops who enable the sexual corruption should not rest easy any longer.

That's called zero-tolerance, guys.

US Space Defenses: A Critical Point in Our History

Mon, 08/13/2018 - 11:45

In 1985, Muscatine, Iowa was visited by a young Chinese official named Xi Jinping. He "led a sister-states trade delegation to Iowa cities and farms." Xi stayed with a local family for a few days and had a warm and memorable experience.

A few years ago, an older and much different Xi came back to Muscatine for a visit. Not as a young "ag" official, but as leader of the world's most populous country.

Deadly Serious Business

No doubt Xi and the gracious people he met in the heartland so many years ago have pleasant memories of one another. That's a good thing.

But there's a big divide between personal affection and the tough world of international politics. And Xi means deadly serious business when it comes to China's military rivalry with the U.S.

Hypersonic Aircraft

A few days ago, China launched "a hypersonic aircraft ... that could one day be capable of firing nuclear missiles around the planet at up to six times the speed of sound."

The U.S. is developing its own hypersonic technologies, as is Russia. But our Defense Department has acknowledge that the U.S. is "already five to 10 years behind in the development of an anti-missile system to thwart advanced hypersonic weapons that are now being tested by China and Russia."

Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, vice chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said last week that "emerging Russian and Chinese hypersonic threats could significantly challenge U.S. (space) forces."

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"Russia and China are developing ways of degrading or destroying U.S. satellites in wartime," writes the Lexington Institute's Loren Thompson in Forbes. "If such attacks achieved their intended aims, they would thoroughly disrupt the U.S. military’s ability to conduct war anywhere. For instance, the U.S. Army figures each of its armored brigades contains over 2,000 pieces of equipment that rely on space assets to function. Kill the satellites, and the brigades are hobbled."

Currently, as another report notes, "the U.S. does not have a comparable technology and is falling behind in the development of hypersonic missiles." Indeed, a 2017 report by the RAND corporation argues that hypersonic weapons could likely get through just about all missile defense systems.

America’s Missile Defense Program

America's missile defense program was a key element in the fall of the Soviet Union.  That great military strategist Dan Rather tried to demean it by dubbing the program "Star Wars." And the mainstream media in general had a field day mocking President Reagan's vision for a missile shield that would defend our country from intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The Soviets didn't mock. They were shaken. They poured billions into their own missile defense program trying to compete with ours.

They failed. So did their evil regime -- in part, because they realized America would not be defeated in our commitment, under Ronald Reagan and then George H.W. Bush, to keep them from successfully attacking us.

Like Swiss Cheese

If our missile defenses, already weakened under President Obama, become more like Swiss cheese than solid steel because of our adversaries' hypersonic and other high-tech weapons, America's ability to protect itself will be put at deadly serious risk.

A Pentagon report, issued last week, summarizes the nature of the threat:

The United States faces rapidly growing threats to our space capabilities. China and Russia, our strategic competitors, are explicitly pursuing space warfighting capabilities to neutralize U.S. space capabilities during a time of conflict. Other potential adversaries are also pursuing counter-space capabilities such as jamming ... and cyber-attacks.

Space Force Initiative

For all of these reasons, the launch of President Trump's new Space Force initiative is more than timely. It's critical.

Vice President Pence, who chairs the National Space Council, last week made a compelling case for the administration's proposals to strengthen all facets of our high-tech warfighting abilities. "Our adversaries have transformed space into a warfighting domain," he said. "And the United States will not shrink from this challenge."

(I recommend all readers of The Stream take a few moments to read the text of Mr. Pence's historic speech here).

National Security

One of the reasons the upcoming fall election is so critical is the Democrats' desire to deplete military spending fund failed social programs. In their world, financial redistribution is more important than national security.

Yes, they would deny this. But a close look at the Obama years proves the point.

Xi Jinping had a good time in Iowa, eating good American beef and being treated like a member of a kindly farm family. That's American hospitality at its best.

But a warm and cuddly friend of the U.S. he is not. His weapons systems prove it. And ours must prove we know it, and that, as ever in history, we'll rise to the challenge.

They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?

Mon, 08/13/2018 - 09:00

Every year, about 1.5 million cases of euthanasia take place in the United States. Does this have a negative impact on healthcare workers?

Sorry, about 1.5 million cases of cat and dog euthanasia take place. But the question is still relevant. Veterinarians, veterinary assistants and shelter workers experience great stress at having to put animals down.

Vets Are Idealists

Vets are idealists. They love animals and choose a career so that they can help them. Instead, many find that a significant part of their daily routine is killing animals, often for frivolous or utilitarian reasons. Bernard E. Rollin, a philosopher at Colorado State University who specialises in veterinary ethics, recently observed:

The consequences are manifest. One recent study showed that one in six veterinarians has considered suicide. Another found an elevated risk of suicide in the field of veterinary medicine. Being asked to kill healthy animals for owner convenience doubtless is a major contribution.

What makes the vets so uncomfortable with the deaths of cats and dogs? Professor Rollin attributes it to a condition which he has called "moral stress" which "grows out of the radical conflict between one’s reasons for entering the field of animal work, and what one in fact ends up doing".

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With euthanasia or assisted suicide or both legal in seven jurisdictions in the United States, plus Canada, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, it's worthwhile examining the experiences of vets to see what the future may hold for doctors.

The emotional connection between the work of human doctors and animal doctors is closer than you might think. Rollin points out that most pet owners feel that their companion animals are "part of the family". In some surveys the proportion reaches 95 percent. Owners often react to a pet's death with the intensity of grief which appears equivalent to the loss of a beloved relative.

Relevant Moral Stress

So the moral stress which vets experience is relevant. Rollin points out that moral stress is different from other kinds of workplace stress, which can be relieved with psychological techniques.

Furthermore, normal avenues for alleviating stress are not available in this area. Whereas if one is stressed by normal stressors, standard stress management vehicles are quite helpful, for example relaxation techniques or talking it out with peers and family, these modalities are not available for moral stress.

He explains that vets may not be supported when they try to share the stress of having to kill animals.

As one woman who worked in a shelter told me, “I tried to explain to my husband at dinner that I had killed the nicest dog earlier in the day. He responded by clapping his hands over his ears and telling me he did not want to hear about it.”

If the stress is not handled properly, it can have very serious consequences for their health. “The eventual effect of such long-term, unalleviated stress is likely to be deterioration of physical and mental health and well-being, substance abuse, divorce, and even, as I encountered on a number of occasions, suicide.”

Suicide amongst vets has been the topic of several studies. "Veterinarians are four times more likely than members of the general population and two times more likely than other health professionals to die by suicide," according to a 2012 study in the journal of the American Association of Suicidology, Suicide and Life-Threatening Behaviour.

A Significant Factor

Australian research found that "veterinarians who perform a greater number of euthanasias each week experience greater levels of job stress than those who perform less" - and job stress is a significant factor in suicide. Why? Performing euthanasia day in, day out, also appears to make some vets less able to resist the temptation to commit suicide. The authors of the 2012 study found that:

… individuals who have had more experience with euthanasia were less fearful regarding the prospect of their own death, and this was accounted for by the diminished distress about euthanasia that comes with repeated exposure …

That performing euthanasia is something relatively unique to the veterinary profession may explain why veterinarians die by suicide more often than members of other professions …

All else being equal, veterinarians may be more likely than members of other professions to enact a lethal attempt when they desire suicide because their exposure to euthanasia has rendered them less fearful of death.

Aren't there lessons in these findings which are relevant to doctors who euthanize their patients? Sometimes doctors in Belgium or the Netherlands are quoted as saying that the death they helped was beautiful or peaceful. Could that be bravado masking their own nonchalance about human death?

Lessons to be Learned

No matter how much affection people feel for their companion animals, the similarity between veterinary euthanasia and human euthanasia is far from being exact. But there are lessons to be learned.

How many times have we all heard the argument, "They shoot horses, don't they?" It’s logic is that if the suffering of animals and humans is essentially the same, they both should be released from suffering in the same way. "You wouldn't let a dog suffer like this…".

But if the animal-human parallel works for the patient, why not the doctor? If we allow euthanasia, surely we can expect the same burn-out rates and the same suicide rates as veterinarians … at least the same. That should scare us all -- especially the doctors who will be responsible.

 

Michael Cook has worked as a book editor and magazine editor and has published articles in magazines and newspapers in the US, the UK and Australia. Currently he is the editor of BioEdge, a newsletter about bioethics, and MercatorNet. “They Shoot Horses, Don't They?” was originally published at MercatorNet.com and used here with permission.

Military Photo of the Day: A B52 over a Sea of Blue

Mon, 08/13/2018 - 09:00

Two B-52H Stratofortress bombers fly over the Pacific Ocean during an August 2, 2018, training mission.

Have a great week, everyone!

 

 

 

 

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Some Candid Questions for Evangelical Supporters of President Trump

Sun, 08/12/2018 - 23:30

Do you remember when candidate Trump said that he could stand on Fifth Avenue in New York City and shoot someone and he wouldn't lose any voters? It was quite a statement, but there was some truth to it. Trump's loyal supporters are doggedly loyal. The question is: Are his evangelical supporters just as loyal? The deeper question is: Should they be?

For the record, while I strongly opposed candidate Trump during the Republican primaries, I did vote for him over Hillary Clinton. And I'm glad I did. If the elections were held tomorrow and it was Trump vs. Hillary, he would have my vote without question.

No Undivided Loyalty

But he does not have my undivided loyalty. Why should he? As I wrote previously, President Trump didn't die for my sins and he is not my Savior and Redeemer.

Of course, every evangelical Christian could echo those words. (We do not worship Lord Trump.) Yet sometimes I wonder: What would it take for some of us to differ publicly with the president? What would it take for us to say, "He's my president and I deeply appreciate the many good things he has done. But I wish he didn't say (or do) this."

So, to repeat my question: What would it take for some of us to differ publicly with the president?

A Missed Opportunity

Cal Thomas recently offered some unsolicited counsel to President Trump, suggesting that rather than attacking LeBron James via Twitter, he should have invited him to the White House.

It's true that James has been openly critical of the president. And it's true he made negative comments about him on CNN, speaking with Don Lemon, no less.

But what he said this time was hardly outlandish. (His exact words were: "He's dividing us. And what I've noticed over the past few months [is] he's kind of used sport to kind of divide us, and that's something that I can't relate to, because I know that sport was the first time I ever was around someone white, and I got an opportunity to see them and learn about them, and they got an opportunity to learn about me, and we became very good friends.")

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And part of the CNN interview focused on James's education initiative is to help at-risk kids.

What a great opportunity for Trump to say, "Let's unite to help these kids. Let's put aside our differences for the sake of young Americans."

Instead, our president ignited a fresh firestorm, mocking both James and Lemon. (His exact words were: "Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made Lebron look smart, which isn't easy to do. I like Mike!")

I really wish he hadn't done that. Yet I'm sure some of you reading this (I'm referring specifically to evangelical Christian readers) were glad he did: "I'm glad he put that basketball player in his place! Who does James think he is, speaking against the President of the United States?"

Trump’s Tweets

To my surprise, I've heard evangelical leaders defend Trump's harsh tweets, saying things like, "Well, he's the president, not a Christian leader." Or, "It's about time someone put politics aside and spoke his mind."

But when I hear this, I wince. Yes, it's true that Trump is not a Christian leader, but we are still Christians. And some of us are Christian leaders. (As for Trump if he is a Christian at all, God knows; but he is clearly not a Christian leader.)

Does the nasty rhetoric not bother us at all? Do the insults never offend us? Do we never think to ourselves, "He could even more done if he didn't constantly alienate people?"

And this leads to another question: Have we ourselves become caustic? In our reaction against the savage, unrelenting, often unfair attacks from the left, have we decided to defend the president no matter what, even if it means compromising our values? Has the "this is war" mentality hardened us rather than honed us?

A Christian’s Duty

A colleague of mine forwarded to me an article by Pete Enns titled, "Is it OK for Christians to protest against their political leaders?"

His answer: "It is the Christian's duty in civic affairs to hold powers to account when they see injustice done."

He adds, "In my opinion, nowhere do Christians have a more visible and obvious responsibility to be salt and light, to embody the will of God, than when other humans are disenfranchised, treated unjustly, or unfairly -- which is to say, treated less than fully human."

He even writes that, "Christians should never say to someone like that, 'If you don't like it, move to Denmark,' or 'He's your president and you owe him your allegiance.'"

Perhaps his article will step on some toes. Perhaps some will feel he made a good point but took it to far.

At the least, though, as evangelical followers of Jesus who support Trump, we should ask ourselves some honest questions. First and foremost would be this: Has my allegiance to Donald Trump in any way compromised my allegiance to Jesus?

That's the biggest question of all.

Teen Vogue’s View of Abortion Advocacy

Sun, 08/12/2018 - 22:00

Listen to how Teen Vogue -- Teen Vogue! -- describes abortion advocacy in this op-ed about "how the Lady Parts Justice League [a group of comedian activists] is taking down anti-abortion sentiment through a comedy tour."

What makes Lady Parts Justice League critical in the current political moment is their ability to push both anti-abortion and pro-choice advocates to be unapologetically supportive of women that choose to obtain abortions, no matter what their reasons....

To be pro-abortion is to face your own potential internalized stigma and recognize that abortion should not be exclusively about access, but about normalizing a medical procedure and life process. It does not mean you hope that every person has an abortion, but it means you advocate for the existence of abortion, not just its accessibility. It's kind of like being pro-bypass surgery: we love its existence, we appreciate the options it offers people, we aren't hoping our loved ones have to have one anytime soon. [Emphasis added.]

One of the goals of the Lady Parts Justice League, according to this op-ed, is to "fight anti-abortion stigma." They want to move the culture away from expecting women to only have abortions for reasons that society deems "respectable"; and they believe that when abortion-choice advocates focus on abortion narratives that involve women having to make decisions to abort due to some sort of hardship, they're playing into the false narrative that abortion is harmful and/or needs to be justified.

Within contemporary pro-choice and anti-choice narratives, the abortion stories that are normalized in our cultural consciousness are ones that are engineered to engender the most sympathy. ...

[T]he danger of only amplifying this specific narrative is that it becomes the dominant one, allowing for anti-choice ideologies to exploit that emotion and present abortion as predominantly emotionally disruptive for people. Although a "good" or "accepted" choice can be in relation to economic welfare or personal safety, this narrative does not allow for a good choice on the basis of self-interest. [Emphasis added.]

I bring this op-ed to your attention for a couple of reasons. First, the message being given to your children by our culture has moved from the regretful necessity of abortion to the goodness of abortion. There is currently an intentional effort to convince people there's no need for any woman to justify her decision to have an abortion because it's simply not the kind of thing that needs to be justified. It's merely a "medical procedure," nothing more. You will need to address this strategy with your children so they'll recognize it when they see it and understand why it is grievously wrong.

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Second, now, more than ever, you need to be ready to engage people like those involved with the Lady Parts Justice League. Are you ready to speak persuasively to them with patience, grace and love? Or do you fear them -- or even hate them? Increasing your confidence in your ability to articulate the pro-life message (that is, the full humanity of the unborn and their right to not be killed) will increase your ability to have compassionate, reasoned conversations with abortion advocates that won't degenerate into anger and insults. Here's a place to start: "Pro-Life Crash Course."

 

Originally published at str.org. Reprinted with permission.

Avoiding the Occasions of Sin on Twitter

Sun, 08/12/2018 - 20:00

Twitter had become a "distraction" to him, an "obstacle" to his spiritual life, said Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, R.I. It was an "occasion of sin."

An "occasion of sin"? What’s that? It means that we should have such a horror of sin that we avoid those occasions that can incite us to sin. You don’t sit so close to the fire that you might fall into it. You don’t let yourself get so close to temptation that you might give in. Occasions of sin are slippery slopes. In general, the same duty that binds one to refrain from sin also requires one to avoid its occasion.

The occasions vary from person to person. One man might avoid a certain place because it reminds him of certain sinful memories. Another person might avoid a certain drink because experience has shown he might drink too much. Another might stay off the computer because he might look at sites he shouldn’t or because he’ll waste time looking at YouTube.

When Social Media Become Sewers

As Bishop Tobin saw, Twitter provides plenty of occasions of sins. It can be a slippery slope leading to all sorts of sins and vices.

The first, most obvious occasion of sin on Twitter involves immoral or pornographic postings. Social media can be moral sewers since many users show no restraint in their postings. If you’re following someone who posts such content, you should unfollow or mute them. That’s simple enough.

Yet even taking these measures cannot guarantee that pornographic images will not filter into your Twitter feed. The platform can easily become an occasion of sin, a platform of perdition and an obstacle to one's spiritual life. If this happens, you should follow the bishop's good example and leave.

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A second way Twitter can become an occasion of sin is when it leads people reflexively to write offensive and uncharitable messages. The shortness of the tweets does not allow for nuance. They are easily misunderstood. There are even those who derive some pleasure by using the platform to insult others.

People get involved in brutal Twitterfests that attack others and destroy reputations. The speed by which this is done unleashes a thread of destruction that easily gets out of hand. Indeed, some people have lost jobs or reputation by offensive tweets. It can also become be the platform for defamation and gossip. In these cases, Twitter can become an occasion of sin for those who cannot control themselves. A good Christian who cannot resist such temptations would do well to leave.

Frenetic Intemperance

However, the most serious occasions of sin on Twitter are not these two most obvious ones. The worst problem is its tendency to consume a person with a frenetic intemperance.

Temperance is the virtue whereby we govern our natural appetites and passions in accordance with the norms prescribed by reason and faith. When passion and emotions take over, we’re thrown out of balance and lose control.

In this case, it is not the content that destroys individuals. It is the constant need for stimulation. Our desire for a "like" or "follow" on social media can cause a drug-like chemical reaction in the brain that keeps asking for more. Scientists describe it as a dopamine rush.

When we give in to this, social media can become obsessive and addictive. People spend huge amounts of time checking their status and posting things that they hope will get reactions. They feel they cannot live without their mobile devices that allow them instant access to their accounts.

This behavior can have grave social consequences. It can ruin relationships and work habits. Especially in youth, it can stunt the development of social skills. Competing to present ever more sensational posts can disconnect a user from reality and even lead to depression.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if priests might follow the example of the good bishop of Providence and warn people about the occasions of sin on Twitter? Most people never hear anything about this great danger to their spiritual lives -- not even a tweet.

 

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

Stream Splashes: August 5-11 in Review

Sun, 08/12/2018 - 17:00

Every week, The Stream rounds up some highlights from the recent news. We call these our "splashes": everything from insightful commentary on the week's big events to small inspiring stories you may have missed.

 

Meet Lucy McHale, the Rosa Parks of Rosa Parks Middle School

Austin Ruse Meet Lucy McHale, the Rosa Parks of Rosa Parks Middle School

Lucy McHale, now 14, worked at the snack bar at the local pool in Olney, Maryland. One day a boy from her school leaned over the counter and told one of Lucy's co-workers to kiss him. In today's #MeToo environment this would be a clear violation, except the person he wanted to kiss was another boy. Because the boy demanding a kiss was supposedly gay, and because Lucy stepped in to defend her co-worker, she became the devil in the story, and the target of harassment at Rosa Parks Middle School.

Continue Reading...

So What is 'Q' ... and Why is MSM Suddenly Targeting It?

Al Perrotta So What is 'Q' ... and Why is MSM Suddenly Targeting It?

Seemingly within minutes Wednesday, The New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, The Hill and several other of the usual suspects all ran stories attempting to explain -- and by explain I mean "mock/dismiss/deride" -- an internet phenomenon known as Q or QAnon.

Here's a good tip: Any time the news establishment in sudden unison jumps up and screams at the top of their lungs, "Nothing to see here! Nonsense, nonsense! Nothing to see!" it's a good time to pay attention. So, what is "Q"?

Continue Reading...

'Terrorism Cannot Stop the Gospel,' Say Niger Missionaries Who Faced Violent Attack

Josh Shepherd 'Terrorism Cannot Stop the Gospel,' Say Niger Missionaries Who Faced Violent Attack

In two decades as Christian missionaries in Niger, Africa, Neal and Danette Childs have faced a host of challenges. Critics have doubted their approach to ministry. Supporting funds and personnel have been slow to come at times. And violent attacks have forced them to rebuild. But the Childs and their multi-national team are seeing their long-term efforts bear fruit.

Continue Reading...

A Life of Sacrifice: How One Doctor Left Everything to Serve in Haiti

Nancy Flory A Life of Sacrifice: How One Doctor Left Everything to Serve in Haiti

"If we're Christians like Christ, then our life has to be a sacrifice," said Dr. David Vanderpool in an interview with The Stream. "We weren't living a life of sacrifice. We had air conditioning. It was great. [But] we really feel like the Lord has called us to a life of sacrifice." Vanderpool gave up everything -- including his successful medical practice, home and nice cars -- to be a missionary with his wife in Haiti.

Continue Reading...

 

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Charlottesville Anniversary: Counterprotesters Expected to Dwarf White Supremacists in DC

Sun, 08/12/2018 - 12:21

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) -- A day after tensions between police and community activists nearly boiled over on the University of Virginia’s campus, the city of Charlottesville plans to mark Sunday’s anniversary of a deadly gathering of white supremacists with a rally against racial hatred. But some 115 miles (185 kilometers) away in Washington, the principal organizer of last year’s “Unite the Right” event will hold a “white civil rights rally,” and police are preparing for crowds of counterprotesters.

Jason Kessler, who abandoned his bid to stage a similar anniversary event in Charlottesville, said in his permit application that he expects 100 to 400 people to participate in his event Sunday afternoon in Lafayette Park, in front of the White House.

But that could be lower and likely will be dwarfed by counterprotests. Some leading figures in the U.S. white nationalist movement have said they won’t attend or have encouraged supporters to stay away.

The National Park Service also issued permits for events organized by DC United Against Hate, New York Black Lives Matter, and other groups. Government and police officials in Washington have expressed confidence the city can manage the events without violence; the mayor and police chief have promised a massive security mobilization to keep protesters and counter-protesters apart.

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On Saturday evening on UVA’s campus, police had a brief, tense confrontation with students and other activists angry over a heavy security presence. They unfurled a banner reading “Last year they came w/ torches. This year they come w/ badge” and chanted “Why are you in riot gear? We don’t see no riot here.” More than 200 marched to another part of campus, where many shouted at a line of officers.

Last year, 22-year-old Clara Carlson faced down the group of white supremacists who marched through campus, surrounding her and a group of friends. On Saturday night, she was angry at the police response to the student rally.

“The university administration just let white supremacists roll through grounds with their torches, and for us, they’re afraid of us. They are afraid of us because we are demanding change from the university,” Carlson said.

The rest of the day had been much quieter, with some residents and businesses expressing that they felt calmer with the police presence in town.

Last year, on Aug. 12, hundreds of white nationalists -- including neo-Nazis, skinheads and Ku Klux Klan members -- descended on Charlottesville in part to protest the city’s decision decided to remove a monument to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a park.

Violent fighting broke out between attendees and counterprotesters that day. Authorities eventually forced the crowd to disperse, but a car later barreled into a crowd of peaceful counterprotesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer. A state police helicopter later crashed, killing two troopers.

Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, told The Associated Press that she has been dreading the anniversary of her daughter’s death for months. On Sunday morning, she plans to bring flowers to the spot where her daughter was killed.

Bro likened losing a child to standing in shallow water as waves roll continually in: “You let the wave wash over, and you don’t chase it. You let it go and you’re OK until the next one comes. But today, I feel like high tide is in.”

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For the complete AP coverage marking one year since the rally in Charlottesville, visit https://apnews.com/tag/CharlottesvilleAYearLater

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Associated Press writer Sarah Rankin in Richmond, Virginia, contributed to this report.

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

NASA Spacecraft Rockets Towards the Sun for Closest Look Yet

Sun, 08/12/2018 - 12:04

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- A NASA spacecraft zoomed toward the sun Sunday on an unprecedented quest to get closer to our star than anything ever sent before.

As soon as this fall, the Parker Solar Probe will fly straight through the wispy edges of the sun’s corona, or outer atmosphere, that was visible during last August’s total solar eclipse. It eventually will get within 3.8 million (6 million kilometers) of the surface in the years ahead, staying comfortably cool despite the extreme heat and radiation, and allowing scientists to vicariously explore the sun in a way never before possible.

No wonder scientists consider it the coolest, hottest mission under the sun, and what better day to launch to the sun than Sunday as NASA noted.

“All I can say is, ‘Wow, here we go.’ We’re in for some learning over the next several years,” said Eugene Parker, the 91-year-old astrophysicist for whom the spacecraft is named.

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Protected by a revolutionary new carbon heat shield and other high-tech wonders, the spacecraft will zip past Venus in October. That will set up the first solar encounter in November.

Altogether, the Parker probe will make 24 close approaches to the sun on the seven-year, $1.5 billion undertaking.

For the second straight day, thousands of spectators jammed the launch site in the middle of the night as well as surrounding towns, including Parker and his family. He proposed the existence of solar wind -- a steady, supersonic stream of particles blasting off the sun -- 60 years ago.

It was the first time NASA named a spacecraft after someone still alive, and Parker wasn’t about to let it take off without him. Saturday morning’s launch attempt was foiled by last-minute technical trouble. But Sunday gave way to complete success.

The Delta IV Heavy rocket thundered into the pre-dawn darkness, thrilling onlookers for miles around as it climbed through a clear, star-studded sky. NASA needed the mighty 23-story rocket, plus a third stage, to get the diminutive Parker probe -- the size of a small car and well under a ton -- racing toward the sun.

From Earth, it is 93 million miles (150 million kilometers) to the sun, and the Parker probe will be within 4 percent of that distance at its closest. That will be seven times closer than previous spacecraft.

“Go, baby, go!” project scientist Nicola Fox of Johns Hopkins University shouted at liftoff.

It was the first rocket launch ever witnessed by Parker, professor emeritus at the University of Chicago. He came away impressed, saying it was like looking at the Taj Mahal for years in photos and then beholding “the real thing” in India.

“I really have to turn from biting my nails in getting it launched, to thinking about all the interesting things which I don’t know yet and which will be made clear, I assume, over the next five or six or seven years,” Parker said on NASA TV.

NASA’s science mission chief, Thomas Zurbuchen, was thrilled not only with the launch, but Parker’s presence.

“I’m in awe,” Zurbuchen said. “What a milestone. Also what’s so cool is hanging out with Parker during all this and seeing his emotion, too.”

Parker, the probe, will start shattering records this fall. On its very first brush with the sun, it will come within 15.5 million miles (25 million kilometers), easily beating the current record of 27 million miles (43 million kilometers) set by NASA’s Helios 2 spacecraft in 1976. Zurbuchen expects the data from even this early stage to yield top science papers.

By the time Parker gets to its 22nd, 23rd and 24th orbits of the sun in 2024 and 2025, it will be even deeper into the corona and traveling at a record-breaking 430,000 mph (690,000 kilometers per hour).

Nothing from Planet Earth has ever hit that kind of speed.

Even Fox has difficulty comprehending the mission’s derring-do.

“To me, it’s still mind-blowing,” she said. “Even I still go, really? We’re doing that?”

Zurbuchen considers the sun the most important star in our universe -- it’s ours, after all -- and so this is one of NASA’s big-time strategic missions. By better understanding the sun’s life-giving and sometimes violent nature, Earthlings can better protect satellites and astronauts in orbit, and power grids on the ground, he noted. In today’s tech-dependent society, everyone stands to benefit.

With this first-of-its-kind stellar mission, scientists hope to unlock the many mysteries of the sun, a commonplace yellow dwarf star around 4.5 billion years old. Among the puzzlers: Why is the corona hundreds of times hotter than the surface of the sun and why is the sun’s atmosphere continually expanding and accelerating, as Parker accurately predicted in 1958?

“The only way we can do that is to finally go up and touch the sun,” Fox said. “We’ve looked at it. We’ve studied it from missions that are close in, even as close as the planet Mercury. But we have to go there.”

The spacecraft’s heat shield will serve as an umbrella, shading the science instruments during the close, critical solar junctures. Sensors on the spacecraft will make certain the heat shield faces the sun at the right times. If there’s any tilting, the spacecraft will correct itself so nothing gets fried. With a communication lag time of 16 minutes, the spacecraft must fend for itself at the sun. The Johns Hopkins flight controllers in Laurel, Maryland, will be too far away to help.

A mission to get close up and personal with our star has been on NASA’s books since 1958. The trick was making the spacecraft small, compact and light enough to travel at incredible speeds, while surviving the sun’s punishing environment and the extreme change in temperature when the spacecraft is out near Venus.

“We’ve had to wait so long for our technology to catch up with our dreams,” Fox said. “It’s incredible to be standing here today.”

More than 1 million names are aboard the spacecraft, submitted last spring by space enthusiasts, as well as photos of Parker, the man, and a copy of his 1958 landmark paper on solar wind.

“I’ll bet you 10 bucks it works,” Parker said.

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The Associated Press Health & Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

 

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

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