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Author: Campaign to Reduce Blacks’ Abortion Rate is About ‘Making America White Again’

Wed, 09/12/2018 - 23:00

It's a common pro-life point of concern: Many more black babies get aborted than white. It's a race-selective industry, and it hurts blacks especially. Now I’m told the reason we make that an issue is because we want to "make America white again." 

Yes, you read that right. Author Jodi Picoult is publicizing her new pro-abortion book A Spark of Light. A report in the Hartford Courant tells how Picoult has "come to understand" what "Christian pro-choice advocate" Dr. Willie Parker has "pieced ... together." Picoult puts it this way:

The only person who can have a white baby is a white woman. The only way to make more white people is to have more white babies. If you can appeal to black women and get them to be anti-abortion, you are going to restrict abortion for black women but more importantly you will also restrict abortion for white women. So you are getting what you want, more white babies."

I almost wrote, "The logic of this is twisted beyond words;" but that would be granting it some status as logic. It's just twisted.

Finding Evil Where No Evil Is There To Be Found

Pro-life statements have nothing in them to suggest we're trying to make America "white again." The evidence for that just doesn't exist. It is not there. Just think how much easier it would be, if we really wanted a whiter world, just to let abortion keep taking more black lives year after year after year.

But Parker and Picoult found a way to see evil, racist intentions behind pro-life messaging anyway. Where did they get that asinine conclusion from? Not from any direct evidence, that's for sure. It had to be from somewhere else. And the best explanation I can think of is this: Pro-life advocates (they believe) aren't just intent on destroying women's lives, but black lives as well.

Yet we're crafty. We’ve found a way to conceal it behind the pretense of trying to save black lives. Then -- since such a thing dare not be admitted aloud -- we’ve buried every shred of communication showing we’d done it.

This is conspiracy theorizing to a breath-taking degree.

This is conspiracy theorizing to a breath-taking degree. To believe it must take a rock-solid commitment to the belief that conservatives hate blacks; a conviction so firm and secure, any evidence to the contrary must be "pieced together" to make it say exactly the opposite of what it really says.

This appears to be the way some pro-abortion activists view pro-life people: We're racist. We're haters. We're cunning, and we're evil.

This is not conspiracy-theorizing on my part. I'm showing you evidence. If you've got a better way to explain it, I'm all ears.

“Really Nice… Normal People” 

Picoult seems conflicted in this article, though. She’s almost willing to see some good in pro-life advocates.

"Talking to people who are pro-life," she says, "I expected religious zealots. I didn't get them. I got really nice people who I could have easily had a cup of coffee with, sat down to dinner with, laughed with."

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If she actually did have those moments of true connection with those "really nice people," she didn't say so. That’s okay. At least she's big enough (or virtue-signaling enough) to admit she could have, anyway. "These are normal people," she goes on to say. Later on she complains about our "extremely patriarchal society." Picoult may not be patriarchal, but she sure is patronizing.

And totally oblivious to it. How could she be otherwise? She's seen how people like us "believe that at conception, a life is formed. That's what they passionately believe." Enlightened women like Jodi Picoult speak from a superior position, for they know far better than to think such a thing.

What We’re Up Against

This is what we're up against in all the spiritual battles and cultural conflict we're involved in. Progressives think we're lesser beings both mentally and morally. We're evil and we're stupid. If evidence and logic show otherwise, then they'll twist it around to prove their conclusions anyway.

No clearer demonstration could be found than this crazy idea that we're campaigning to save black lives in order to "make America white again."

 

Tom Gilson is a senior editor with The Stream and the author of Critical Conversations: A Christian Parents' Guide to Discussing Homosexuality with Teens (Kregel Publications, 2016). Follow him on Twitter: @TomGilsonAuthor.

Center for Medical Progress Releases Shocking Report on Government Sponsored Wholesaler of Fetal Body Parts

Wed, 09/12/2018 - 20:00

The Center for Medical Progress has issued a sensational report about Advanced Bioscience Resources, Inc., a wholesaler of fetal body parts. ABR harvests and purchases tiny livers, lungs, and brains from healthy fetuses terminated at four, five and six months in abortion clinics. It then re-sells the body parts to taxpayer-funded research laboratories at huge mark-up prices.

Its customers include labs run by the FDA and NIH at the federal Department of Health and Human Services. These labs experiment on the baby parts. One gruesome experiment transplants the organs, tissues, and cells into rodents to create so-called "humanized mice." ABR makes $1.1 to $1.5 million from this activity.

ABR's Procurement Manager Perrin Larton admitted she saw live fetuses born in the abortion clinics.

During CMP’s major investigative journalism study on fetal trafficking from 2013 to 2015, ABR's Procurement Manager Perrin Larton admitted she saw live fetuses born in the abortion clinics. 

Federal law prohibits the sale of fetal body parts. It forbids the transfer of fetal tissue in exchange for "valuable consideration." This means the act of commodification. ABR is a nonprofit but it made over $200,000 in profit during 2016. ABR charges hundreds of dollars for each fetal body part. This is in addition to separate reimbursement charges. Those cover the costs of packaging, quality control, and shipping. 

Large Profits

A report by the Senate Judiciary Committee found that ABR wildly increased the price of fetal body parts between 2010 and 2015. The company increased prices 60 percent over the rate of inflation.

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In a dispute with one of its research customers, ABR admitted that it was grossly overcharging for reimbursement costs. It tried to charge the researcher $6,000 for the reimbursement costs for one specimen. The researcher pushed back. ABR admitted  admit the costs were $3,500.

Planned Parenthood also pockets a nice profit. A contract between Planned Parenthood Pacific Southwest and ABR revealed that ABR paid PPPS $60 for each fetal body part. CMP calculates that PPPS brought in an extra $937,740 in revenue from the sales.

When fetal stem cells have been used to treat humans, the results have been disastrous.

The FDA recently signed a contract with ABR for nearly $16,000 worth of "fresh" fetal organs and tissues over the next year. In the past two years alone, the NIH spent over $200 million on research projects using human fetal tissue. Much of this experimentation is not done to treat or cure a human’s illness -- despite what proponents say.

Disastrous Results

It is bewildering that the government is not enforcing laws against trafficking in fetal body parts. ABR and Planned Parenthood have convinced the government that they are not making a profit. Therefore, they say the law doesn’t apply to them. Not only is that not true, they are making considerable profits, but simply treating the sales like a commodity is enough to violate the law. 

 

Follow Rachel on Twitter at Rach_IC.

How Neuroscience Explains Sex Abuse and Vindicates … Prayer and Fasting

Wed, 09/12/2018 - 18:59

It’s been a very busy summer, hasn’t it? Newspapers reported that Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity was once again verified by another utterly incomprehensible intergalactic test or other. I think everyone would agree that the very definition of insanity would be for a scientist to respond to this news by saying, “Well that does it. I’m not going to listen to Einstein anymore.”

Yet that is exactly how people are acting. But not about Einstein. I’m talking about the Catholic Church. You see, the Church had one of its own theories put to the test, and those results also came back this summer. And like Einstein, the Church passed with flying colors. But with this, huge difference. Unlike Einstein, the Church never gets any credit. People continue to behave as if the Church knows nothing about sex and human nature. But the priest scandal proves that it does.

St. Peter tells us to “abstain from the passions of the flesh that wage war against the soul” (1 Pt. 2:11). But will anybody listen? No. Somehow, too many inside and outside the Church think that cocaine-fueled orgies are a good way to form young men and priests. But the apostles knew better.

In the Epistle to Galatians, St. Paul teaches that asceticism is an essential dimension of the spiritual life, and thus also essential to the cultivation of the spiritual qualities of the human soul. In almost clinical fashion, St. Paul enumerates these spiritual qualities, or “fruits,” as the apostle calls them. One of these is self-control, which means that Paul is telling us that we need to practice self-denial to control our desires and passions.

The Apostolic Brain

Scientists confirmed this Biblical teaching when they discovered the dopamine reward system of the brain. It turns out that the indulgence of our desires stimulates the release of dopamine, a neurochemical associated with increased motivation and desire. Take eating for example. The more we eat, the more dopamine the brain releases, the stronger our desires for eating become. And obviously, as our desires increase in strength, they become more difficult to control:

This same process applies to a host of human behaviors including shopping and gambling. And sex.

Slavery to Sin

Now ask yourself this question. What could possibly explain why a man highly respected in society with everything to lose would engage in the most despicable and grotesque of crimes? If found out he will forever be hated and rejected by everyone. He will go to jail for a very long time where the inmates are known to mete out justice to perpetrators of child abuse. The personal risk is so high that anyone would be crazy to take such a risk. In researching my book, I discovered that sexual abusers are truly out of their minds. Their desires are completely out of control, and this is what drives them to their evil and irrational crimes.

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The American bishops were made aware of the compulsive nature of sexual abuse back in 1985 when the Rev. Thomas Doyle sent them his well researched report which describes the irrational and compulsive dimension of sexual abuse (emphasis added):

We are dealing with compulsive habits which the priest may temporarily suspend in the face of legal or canonical pressure, but not in all instances. There are many examples wherein sexual abuse took place very soon after the confrontation between the priest and his Ordinary [bishop] had taken place. The priest must clearly be seen as one suffering from a psychiatric disorder that is beyond his ability to control. (Garry Wills from Papal Sin, p. 182)

Research on the dopamine reward system tells us to look for signs of overindulgence to account for the loss of rational self-control in sexual abusers. And a common denominator in practically every case of sexual predation is the consumption of pornography. This is true of the abuse committed inside the Church as well as outside. It is a universal law of sexual abuse as dependable as the law of gravity: catch a predator and you also catch a giant cache of porn.

This sordid story out of Chicago is a timely case in point.

Got Celibacy?

Thus the real story of the sexual abuse epidemic in the Church is that it’s got nothing to do with celibacy. Which any logical person should have understood since the overwhelming majority of perpetrators are not celibate priests. As I explain here, less than a tenth of a percent of all abuse cases in the United States came from priests, according to the numbers in the John Jay Report.

If you want to identify a common cause of sexual abuse inside and outside the Church, look no further than the sexual revolution.

In fact, the discipline of celibacy explains why the incidence of abuse by priests is significantly lower than what is found in the general male population: celibacy actually works to cool down the dopamine centers of the brain, and this is instrumental to fostering rational control of the passions. Thus celibacy and self-denial are not the problem here; on the contrary, the practice of asceticism is the time-honored, Biblical solution to sexual abuse and all other sins of excess. This apostolic wisdom is now being confirmed by neuroscience.

A Gospel of Male Spiritual Health

And what that Christian wisdom teaches is that the sexual revolution was catastrophic for male sexual and psychological health. Yes, it is true that most of the abuse cases inside the Church were homosexual in nature. But outside the Church is a far different story, with most of the victims being female.

If you want to identify a common cause of sexual abuse inside and outside the Church, look no further than this. Inside the Church, 100% of the perpetrators were male. And outside the Church, it is close to 100%. Yes, some are gay. Some are straight. Some tall, some short… But the one thing nearly all sexual predators have in common is that they are male.

Men are visual creatures. They like sex too much. And they are aggressive. The permissiveness of the sexual revolution was gasoline on the fire that is male sexuality. This is what the Bible teaches. It is what Humanae Vitae teaches. It is what John Paul II’s Theology of the Body teaches. And it is what neuroscientific research on the dopamine reward system now confirms.

Flat-Earther Freudians

But because the mainstream media has not caught up to current scientific research, they continue to view all things sexual from a now discredited Freudian perspective.

These evangelists for the sexual revolution mistakenly blame Christian sexual ethics for the scandal and praise the gospel of sexual license as the solution to sexual abuse. But neuroscience shows us that that makes as much sense as recommending smoking to cure lung cancer.

God is Not Mocked

As gobsmackingly ignorant as the world is about the priest scandal, about human sexuality, and about human nature, these prophets of pleasure have nonetheless succeeded in converting multitudes to their gospel of self-indulgence. So successful, in fact, that they have even convinced the ruling party of the Catholic Church to abandon the word of God.

But John Paul predicted that science would one day vindicate sacred scripture. As I showed in my book, that day has already arrived. How foolish of Church hierarchs and activists like Fr. James Martin and company to cross swords with St. Paul. Paul warned us that "God is not mocked," that a life of self-absorption will "reap a harvest of corruption" (Gal. 6:7-8).

 

 

 

It's time to remove these lotus eaters from the Church hierarchy. They have made of it a den of thieves -- of pederasts and pornographers, orgiasts and cokeheads. If we have any concern at all for the welfare of children we will do this.

If we have any concern for the welfare of our children, this unpopular fact must squarely be faced: The world was a safer place for our kids when it was more Christian.

What I have sketched here is a rough blueprint for a new evangelization. Its central message is this: The Gospel teaches truths that no one can afford to ignore. The consequences to our children and to our future are just too grave.

 

John Gravino is author of The Immoral Landscape of the New Atheism.

The Left’s Hatred of Mike Pence Undermines Its Hatred of Donald Trump

Wed, 09/12/2018 - 18:00

We know why President Trump is so hated. We've heard it time and again. The man is out of control. He's a threat to national security. He has damaged our international standing. He's unstable. He's volatile. He's in totally over his head. No one can work for him.

Just read the latest books about Trump. Listen to his former employees. Look at his tweets. Donald Trump must go!

In the words of Rep. Maxine Waters, "I say 'impeachment, impeachment, impeachment, impeachment, impeachment, impeachment, impeachment.'"

Is there any validity to the charges against Trump? Is there any truth to these concerns?

Perhaps there is some truth to some of them. Perhaps he has been autocratic. Perhaps he has created a White House environment that can be chaotic. He has certainly spoken out of turn at times and given his opponents plenty of fuel for their fire.

But I don't believe for a minute that these are the real reasons the left wants to get rid of President Trump.

I say that because many on the left fear Vice President Pence even more, pledging to get rid of him once they get rid of Trump.

To quote Maxine Waters: After getting rid of Trump, "You knock one down, and then we'll be ready for Pence."

Target Pence

Yet Mike Pence is an experienced politician, having served in the House of Representatives from 2001-2013 and as governor of Indiana from 2013-2017.

And Mike Pence is not unstable or volatile, nor does he have a history of alienating those who work for him, nor has he been accused of being an autocratic narcissist.

He is clearly in control of his words and actions, he has not insulted or maligned his opponents, and he has done nothing to disgrace the office of the Vice President. Yet he too must go. He too is a threat. He too must be removed.

To quote Maxine Waters once again: After getting rid of Trump, "You knock one down, and then we'll be ready for Pence. We'll get him, too."

Yes, Mike Pence must also go. Away with this man too!

Waters' words drew a sharp rebuke from Trump supporter Philip Schuyler, who tweeted, "When Maxine Waters says, 'We’ll impeach Trump,' she’s fantasizing, since he didn’t do anything wrong. But when she says re Pence, 'We’ll get him too,' isn’t she admitting that her party is closer to a vengeful mob than to a lawful org?"

When Maxine Waters says, "We'll impeach Trump," she's fantasizing, since he didn't do anything wrong.But when she says re Pence, "We'll get him too," isn't she admitting that her party is closer to a vengeful mob than to a lawful org?

— Philip Schuyler (@FiveRights) September 11, 2018

But it's not just Maxine Waters saying this. The anti-Pence rhetoric has been building for months. Most recently, it was Omarosa Manigault Newman who echoed these sentiments.

As reported on Yahoo News, "Ms Manigault Newman, who is busy promoting her book, Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House, was asked by TMZ which of the top White House executives was worse – the president or the vice president? 'Pence,' she shouted, before being driven away in a black SUV."

Yes, Pence is worse than Trump!

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Back in July, New York Times op-ed writer Frank Bruni penned a piece titled, "Mike Pence, Holy Terror. Are you sure you want to get rid of Donald Trump?"

His article opens with these chilling words: "There are problems with impeaching Donald Trump. A big one is the holy terror waiting in the wings.

"That would be Mike Pence, who mirrors the boss more than you realize. He's also self-infatuated. Also a bigot. Also a liar. Also cruel."

Mike Pence is a monster! The man would bring a reign of terror!

But there's something even worse, and it lies at the heart of Bruni's concerns: Pence "adds two ingredients that Trump doesn't genuinely possess: the conviction that he's on a mission from God and a determination to mold the entire nation in the shape of his own faith, a regressive, repressive version of Christianity. Trade Trump for Pence and you go from kleptocracy to theocracy."

Yes, Mike Pence wants to turn America into a Christian theocracy, with himself the earthly tyrant ruling in God's stead. Oh, the horror!

The Tylt website conducted a poll (apparently late in 2017), asking the question: "Who should liberals fear more: President Trump or a potential President Pence?"

By a vote of 51.9 to 48.1 percent, the answer was that a Pence presidency would be more dangerous.

In short, Pence is an evangelical Christian, a biblically-based conservative. As such, he could be a worse threat to the left than Donald Trump.

In support of this claim, Tylt cited a New Yorker article by Jane Mayer dated October 23, 2017. According to Mayer, "Pence has the political experience, the connections, the discipline, and the ideological mooring that Trump lacks. He also has a close relationship with the conservative billionaire donors who have captured the Republican Party's agenda in recent years."

Target Christianity

But that is not the worrying part. Rather, "Even as [Governor] Pence argued for less government interference in business, he pushed for policies that intruded on people's private lives. In the early nineties, he joined the board of the Indiana Family Institute, a far-right group that supported the criminalization of abortion and campaigned against equal rights for homosexuals."

In short, Pence is an evangelical Christian, a biblically-based conservative. As such, he could be a worse threat to the left than Donald Trump. (Really now, if the left could make President George Bush into a religious fanatic who allegedly waged war based on Bible prophecies, what will it do to Mike Pence?)

So, to repeat, I do believe there is some validity to some of the charges raised against President Trump. And at times, he is own worst enemy, spreading disunity and dissent rather than rallying the nation around his very real successes.

But, the truth be told, the vast majority of concerns raised by the left are merely a convenient ruse for the real issue, which is this: They hate the fact that their radical agenda is being thwarted. They despise the fact that some of their strongholds are being demolished. And they will do anything in their power to remove anyone who dares to get in their way, be it Donald Trump or Mike Pence.

The more conservative, the worse. The more Christian, much, much worse.

Let's not take our eyes off the real stakes involved.

Police-Enforced ‘Tolerance’ Means a Grey and Boring World

Wed, 09/12/2018 - 16:35

William Briggs blogged Tuesday on a pair of astonishing tweets from the South Yorkshire police.

This police department wants people to report "hate." People can express hate through “offensive or insulting comments, online, in person or in writing," and either real or perceived "prejudice or hostility.” They can hate “a person's race, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity or disability."

Hate can be any incident or crime, motivated by prejudice or hostility (or perceived to be so) against a person's race, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity or disability. Hate hurts and nobody should have to tolerate it. Report it and put a stop to it #HateHurts pic.twitter.com/xoMH8KhE9n

— SouthYorkshirePolice (@syptweet) September 9, 2018

In addition to reporting hate crime, please report non-crime hate incidents, which can include things like offensive or insulting comments, online, in person or in writing. Hate will not be tolerated in South Yorkshire. Report it and put a stop to it #HateHurtsSY pic.twitter.com/p2xf6OLoQZ

— SouthYorkshirePolice (@syptweet) September 9, 2018

I'm sure you've seen the infringement of liberty this involves. You've noted how crazy backwards it is for a police department to say, "No one should live in fear of ... being different," while making people feel scared they’ll be hauled in by the police for saying something different.

I want to note something just as important.

Grey and Boring

Years ago some friends of mine produced a children's book and cassette (now on YouTube) called "Tune Kids: The Adventure Begins." It's the tale of five kids whose hot-air balloon crash lands in a sad, grey land called "Greyore." There “everything is shades of grey; there’s no color anywhere.”

My poor daughter always hated the signature grey-land song, "Grey and Boring." In the song's defense, it does capture the mood of Greyore:

"Grey and boring, grey and boring, Everything around me is grey and boring. All the rocks and trees are grey and boring, Everything I see is grey and boring. Nothing interests me because it's all so boring, Yuck! Yuck! Yuck!

That's the kind of world the PC police want to force us to live in.

No Room to Think Differently

Think I've got it backward? Think I've missed the part where the South Yorkshire police are all in for differences in race, religion, sexual orientation, gender and ability? No, I see that. What I don't see is any room for different opinions. Different preferences. Different beliefs.

Religion is on the list, but look carefully. There's no positive freedom expressed there, only negative prohibitions. This isn't freedom to act or think as one believes, it's a police order not to talk about certain things. In fact it's an order to agree with everyone on these issues.

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Just look: Is there room to prefer different modes of sexual expression? No; we must all think the same way about these things. Is there room to prefer Christianity over Islam, or vice versa? No; we must consider them equal, at least in public. That is, you might be able to think that Muslims have a false understanding of Jesus Christ.

If you say it, though, that could be "perceived" as "prejudice or hostility." Someone reports you, and off you go in the paddy wagon.

No one is allowed to disagree on any of these things.

No Difference of Opinion Allowed

You must agree. I must agree. All must agree. We must all look alike. We must all speak alike. We must all act alike. Grey and boring, grey and boring, everything around me is grey and boring.

The Tune Kids wanted desperately to get out of Greyore. No wonder. I’d want to get out of South Yorkshire just as bad. Who wants to live in a world where police tell everyone to think the same way?

Yuck! Yuck! Yuck!

It's so bad, even a children's song shows it up. There’s something not quite human about this land of Greyore, and something just as inhuman about the South Yorkshire requirements.

But it's all a sham, isn't it? Read the bottom of the tweet’s graphic again: "No one should have to live with fear, anxiety or consequences of being 'different.'" Well, I'm different. Does that apply to me? I think there's something wrong with homosexual behavior. I think there's something sadly, unfortunately disordered in the minds of men who think they're women. I think Muslims have a wrong view of Jesus Christ.

A Free World

But I want to live in a world where Muslims and gays and trans people feel free to tell me they think I'm wrong, too. I want a world where they have enough courage of their convictions, enough confidence in their positions, not to require police protection against my opinion.

That's my preference. It's probably different from some others'. It’s a difference that’s not allowed in South Yorkshire, though. If I lived there I'd certainly have to face down the fear of being "different." Someone would be watching, waiting to report me. And then would come the police, and that’s when it’s clear, this is far worse than Greyore.

WaPo Says Trump is ‘Complicit’ in Hurricane Florence. Why? Because of Global Warming ‘Denial’

Wed, 09/12/2018 - 16:07

The Washington Post editorial board claimed that President Donald Trump is "complicit" in the damage that Hurricane Florence is expected to bring to the Carolinas.

Why? Because he's not a global warming alarmist.

"Yet when it comes to extreme weather, Mr. Trump is complicit," The Post's editorial board wrote Tuesday night. "He plays down humans' role in increasing the risks, and he continues to dismantle efforts to address those risks."

"It is hard to attribute any single weather event to climate change. But there is no reasonable doubt that humans are priming the Earth's systems to produce disasters," the editorial board wrote.

Hurricane Florence is expected to make landfall in the Carolinas late Thursday. Florence is currently a Category 4 with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph, but is expected to weaken before landfall.

Still, Trump warned the public to head official warnings and evacuate if ordered to do so. Florence is expected to bring heavy rainfall, hurricane-force winds and cause "catastrophic flash flooding" in some areas, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The Post's editorial board did admit Trump's warning to Americans was "good advice," but did not redeem his global warming "denial." The editorial board suggested global warming was making storms worse.

"It is hard to attribute any single weather event to climate change. But there is no reasonable doubt that humans are priming the Earth's systems to produce disasters," it wrote.

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The Post cited recent work by National Center for Atmospheric Research climate scientist Kevin Trenberth that claimed record ocean heat content, from global warming, fueled Hurricane Harvey in 2017, allowing it to dump more rain on the greater Houston area.

"Scientists also warn that climate change may be slowing the wind currents that guide hurricanes, making storms more sluggish and, therefore, apt to linger longer over disaster zones," the editorial board wrote, referring to another recent study.

"And human-caused sea-level rise encourages higher storm surges and fewer natural barriers between water and people," the editorial board added.

Somehow, Trump is "complicit" in this hurricane because he does not support policies the Obama administration even admitted would have no measurable effect on future man-made global warming.

Also, WaPo's editorial left out some key science on the matter. The Post did not mention "consensus" science on hurricanes and global warming put forward by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

"It is premature to conclude that human activities -- and particularly greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming -- have already had a detectable impact on Atlantic hurricane or global tropical cyclone activity," according to NOAA's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory.

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Pope Summons Bishops for February Abuse Prevention Summit

Wed, 09/12/2018 - 16:03

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope Francis is summoning the presidents of every bishops conference around the world for a February summit to discuss preventing clergy sex abuse and protecting children -- evidence that he realizes the scandal is global and that inaction threatens to undermine his legacy.

Francis’ key cardinal advisers announced the decision Wednesday, a day before Francis meets with U.S. church leaders who have been discredited anew by the latest accusations in the Catholic Church’s decades-long sex abuse and cover-up scandal.

The Feb. 21-24 meeting of the presidents of the more than 100 bishops conferences is believed to be the first of its kind, and signals a realization at the highest levels of the church that clergy sex abuse is a global problem and not restricted to the Anglo-Saxon world, as many church leaders have long tried to insist.

Earlier this year, Francis faced what was then the worst crisis of his papacy when he repeatedly discredited victims of a notorious Chilean predator priest. He eventually admitted to “grave errors in judgment” and has taken steps to make amends, sanction guilty bishops and remake the Chilean episcopacy, which he accused of helping to fuel a “culture of cover-up.”

More recently, Francis’ papacy has been jolted by accusations from a retired Vatican ambassador that he rehabilitated a top American cardinal from sanctions imposed by Pope Benedict XVI for having molested and harassed adult seminarians.

The Vatican hasn’t responded to the accusations by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, but has promised “clarifications” that presumably will come sometime after Francis’ meeting Thursday with the U.S. delegation.

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The Vatican said Tuesday the delegation would be headed by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and also include Francis’ top sex abuse adviser, Cardinal Sean O’Malley.

Di Nardo has said he wants Francis to authorize a full-fledged Vatican investigation into ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was removed as cardinal in July after a credible accusation that he groped a teenager.

The Vatican has known since at least 2000 that McCarrick would invite seminarians to his New Jersey beach house and into his bed.

DiNardo has also said recent accusations that top Vatican officials -- including the current pope -- covered up for McCarrick since 2000 deserve answers.

The Vatican in 2011 ordered every bishops conference around the world to develop written guidelines to prevent abuse of minors and vulnerable adults. The Vatican said the guidelines should specify how bishops should tend to victims, punish offenders and keep pedophiles out of the priesthood.

While most have obliged, other conferences particularly in Africa have not, either citing lack of resources or other impediments.

Remarkably, Vatican City itself has no such policy, even though the Holy See promised the United Nations five years ago that it was developing a “safe environment program” -- including written guidelines -- to protect children inside the 110-acre (44-hectare) Vatican City.

The U.S. conference of bishops issued what is considered the gold-standard policy in 2002, requiring accusations of abuse to be reported to police and the permanent removal from ministry of any priest found to have abused a minor.

But that policy has been questioned recently, given it exempted bishops like McCarrick, who according to the church’s own laws, can only be judged by the pope.

The credibility of the U.S. church leadership is now in tatters over the McCarrick scandal and recent revelations in the Pennsylvania grand jury report, which found that some 300 priests abused more than 1,000 children since the 1940s -- and that a string of bishops in six dioceses covered up for them, including the current archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Donald Wuerl.

Wuerl, who was bishop of Pittsburg for some 18 years, offered to resign nearly three years ago when he turned 75 but Francis hasn’t accepted it. In a letter to priests on Tuesday, he said he would be returning to Rome soon to discuss his resignation, aware that it’s time for new leadership.

Since the Pennsylvania report was issued last month, prosecutors in a half-dozen U.S. states have announced plans for similar investigations.

The U.S. isn’t alone in digging into its past. On Wednesday, German media reported that a church-commissioned study on abuse in the German church detailed 3,677 abuses cases between 1946 and 2014, with more than half of the victims aged 13 or younger and most boys. Every sixth case involved rape and at least 1,670 clergy were involved, according to Spiegel Online and Die Zeit, which said they obtained the report that was due to be released Sept. 25.

 

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

Cleveland Abortion Clinic Hospitalizes Another Woman, Adding to Long Record of Medical Emergencies and Death

Wed, 09/12/2018 - 16:00

An Ohio abortion clinic with a lengthy record of botched abortions put another woman in the hospital last week after the abortion procedure went awry.

An ambulance and fire unit arrived at Preterm abortion clinic in Cleveland at 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 5, Operation Rescue first reported Monday. The patient was fully covered with a sheet and photographed being transported from a gurney into an ambulance headed to the hospital.

The medical emergency is not the first mishap that women have endured at the Preterm clinic. The clinic has performed ten botched abortions since 2011, according to Abortion Stats 2018. A number of other medical emergencies have occurred at the clinic since 2015, according to an Operation Rescue special report.

Abortion patient Lakisha Wilson died during her abortion at the Preterm clinic in 2014. Wilson was 20 weeks pregnant and began hemorrhaging during the abortion, ceasing to breathe shortly after. The clinic waited for some duration before placing a call to 911, according to records from the Ohio Department of Health.

A number of complaints have also been filed against the clinic.

"The frequency of life-threatening medical emergencies that have been documented at Preterm ... pose a serious enough danger to the public to justify the closing of this facility," Operation Rescue President Troy Newman said in a statement following the Sept. 5 botched abortion. "How high does the body count need to get before the Ohio Department of Health acts to protect women?"

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The clinic erected 16 billboards throughout the greater Cleveland area in January with tag lines reading, "Abortion is life-saving," and "Abortion is a blessing."

A number of other abortion clinics in Ohio have also been found guilty of serious infractions. Ohio's Planned Parenthood in Bedford Heights was fined $25,000 in July 2014 after 22 pages of violations were exposed. Violations included expired drugs and chemicals, aborted baby body parts in an unmonitored temperature container and incomplete medical records among others.

Preterm clinic did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation's request for comment.

 

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Copyright 2018 Daily Caller News Foundation. 

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.

California Man Arrested After Trying to Stab GOP Candidate, Police Say

Wed, 09/12/2018 - 12:57

California man Farzad Fazeli was arrested Tuesday for allegedly trying to stab a congressional candidate at a fair on Sunday, police said.

Local media identified the candidate as Republican Rudy Peters, who is challenging Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell in November.

Peters survived serious injury thanks to a malfunctioning switchblade, the Alameda County Sheriff's Office said Tuesday. The attempted stabbing was preceded by Fazeli making "disparaging remarks" about the Republican Party, according to the sheriff's office.

Fazeli "approached the victim in an aggressive manner and made disparaging remarks about his political party and elected officials," Alameda County Sheriff's Office said in a statement, citing witness statements.

"During the incident, Fazeli is suspected to have pulled out a switchblade knife and attempted to stab the victim. The knife malfunctioned and the victim became involved in a physical struggle with Fazeli."

"I'm glad to hear Mr. Peters is okay," Swalwell wrote on Twitter Tuesday afternoon. "But it's NEVER okay to use violence to settle political disagreements (or any disagreement)."

Sunday's alleged attempted stabbing came three days after a GOP office in Wyoming was set on fire, just two days after opening. Police said they believe the fire was set intentionally.

Follow Hasson on Twitter @PeterJHasson

 

Copyright 2018 Daily Caller News Foundation. 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.

Reintegrative Therapy an Alternative to Conversion Therapy?

Wed, 09/12/2018 - 12:30

If there’s one thing that’s completely un-p.c., it’s conversion therapy. It tries to change a gay person’s sexual orientation. Several states have banned the practice for minors. California wants to ban it for adults as well, even when they want it. Its critics mock it as claiming to “pray away the gay.”

All the big professional groups reject it. The American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics have all come out against it. So have the American Psychological Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, the American Psychoanalytic Association and the American Counseling Association. Even if a homosexual person wants to try to change, no mainline group wants him to try to help patients change this way.

But there’s an alternative.

The Alternative

Reintegrative Therapy(TM) does not seek to change a patient’s sexual preference. It does not view homosexuality as a disease or use aversion techniques (shame, pain or coercion) to try to force people to change. And it’s not for children.

Reintegrative Therapy views sexuality as “fluid.”

The Patent & Trade Office recently provided a patent for reparative therapy (a former version of reintegrative therapy). Science and clinical psychology form the basis for it.

The therapy seeks to resolve the conflicts behind homosexual attraction, by dealing with childhood trauma. It begins with the idea that early trauma could lead to homosexuality. A domineering mother and a detached father might increase that effect for men.

The late Dr. Joseph Nicolosi pioneered this new kind of therapy. After his death last year, his son Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, Jr., took over the practice. The Stream interviewed him to find out more. The interview has been slightly edited.

How did you decide to follow in your father's footsteps?

My father was a man of courage and caring. He was an unapologetic warrior for truth on one hand. On the other, a man of deep compassion and empathy for those who aren't being listened to. I'm continually inspired by his willingness to speak the truth. He never, ever backed down. He had compassion for men who had these unwanted attractions.

See the Movie

The initial response to the documentary Free to Love has been very positive. The Reintegrative Therapy Association commissioned a skeptical Hollywood filmmaker to produce a film on this topic.

Intrigued, he investigated. He met with clients at their homes, asking them the hard questions. The clients gave him very personal access. They answered the deepest, most personal questions people want to know about what it was like going through this process.

What the filmmaker discovered shocked him. Anyone can see it at freetolovemovie.com.

Our culture told them that they were just gay. The only way to be happy was to embrace the gay label. But that didn't work for them. These were often men who were, as children, sexually abused by someone of the same sex. They would later as adults report that their same-sex attraction wasn't "who they really are."

They believed the abuse affected their adult sexuality. Our pop culture ignored these people. It insisted that they must accept the gay label. This same pressure to identify as "gay" was put upon Muslims, Jews, Christians, and others with deeply held beliefs who believed they were designed to be heterosexual.

It was the same thing with those who had been gay-identified for awhile. After several years, they felt unfulfilled and decided to explore heterosexuality instead. But others told them their only choice was to be gay. To do anything else was just to deny who they are.

My father took notice of these people. He heard their perspective and refused to buy the pop-culture narrative. He knew sexuality can change, what we now call "sexual fluidity.” This was before neuroscience began affirming that notion.

Has anything changed since your father led the movement?

This topic was very polarized in the 90s. Back then, people framed it with the question, "Are people born gay, or is it a choice?" Thankfully, the public is slowly rejecting both those ideas. A middle-ground approach emerged. It says that sexuality is fluid for many people. They don't choose their orientation.

On the other hand, no one has discovered a so-called "gay gene.” Sexuality is far more complex than something that can be boiled down to a mere gene. Advances in neuroscience show us that our life experiences continually impact the brain. This is called "neuroplasticity." It’s led scientists to acknowledge that sexuality is not set in stone for everyone.

Do the state laws banning conversion therapy apply to reintegrative therapy?

So-called "conversion therapy" and reintegrative therapy are entirely separate. Conversion therapy is a vague, broad term. There's no ethics code or governing body. Unlicensed individuals practice it. In reintegrative therapy, the client is in the driver's seat. The licensed therapist uses a specific combination of mainstream, evidence-based treatment approaches.

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Other clinics throughout the world use these same treatments. They treat trauma and sexual addictions. Not just gender or sexual-orientation issues. As those underlying dynamics resolve, the client's sexuality often changes on its own. It is a byproduct of the resolution of the trauma. Clients often report lasting decreases in same-sex attractions. At the same time, they find increases in heterosexual ones.

How do you respond to the claim that reintegrative therapy is about blaming the family?

It's important that clients have the freedom to tell their own story. That's naming (not blaming) family dynamics that are present in the homes of so many of our clients. Many with same-sex attractions have spoken to our therapists describing remarkably similar experiences.

Perhaps it's political correctness that pressures clients and therapists to be silent about the patterns they see. However, the evidence for a specific family pattern appears to be strong.

What people or groups are your primary opposition?

Earlier this week, a lawmaker stopped sponsoring a California bill that threatened clients' rights to choose their own therapy goals. It would have banned therapy that had to do with the goal of leaving homosexuality or gender confusion.

The bill was AB-2943. I and others worked with the bill sponsor, California Assemblyman Evan Low, to try to find a resolution. After long talks with concerned clients who insisted they have the right to choose their own therapy goals, Low eventually dropped the bill. Politicians should not be in charge of this right.

The client should be in the driver's seat of their own therapy.

Never before has the government banned adults' therapy goals. The majority of the public knows the government has no business telling people their therapy goals are illegal. And they know the client should be in the driver's seat of their own therapy. Not the politicians.

How do you respond to psychiatrist Jack Drescher, who says he's talked to some of your dad's patients and said the treatment did not lead to changes in their sexual orientation?

My father always agreed that some clients didn't change. In fact, he readily admitted that about one-third of his clients did not see significant changes. However, they did almost always report success in achieving other, related goals. Notably, improving family and peer relationships.

Although there's no "one size fits all" explanation for my clients' unwanted desires and attractions, when it comes to Reintegrative Therapy(TM), my clients often describe specific traumas. They believe these life-changing events led to their unwanted same-sex attractions. When we use standard, evidence-based trauma methods to diminish the effects of those traumas, clients often describe changes in their sexuality as a byproduct.

Are Reintegrative Therapists located in every state?

The number of therapists trained in Reintegrative Therapy(TM) is growing. This year there are upcoming training events in California, Florida, Hungary and Spain.

 

 

Follow Rachel on Twitter at Rach_IC.

Military Photo of the Day: September 12, 2018

Wed, 09/12/2018 - 10:32

A U.S. Navy visit, board, search, and seizure team from the USS Jason Dunham recently seizes a large cache of over 1,000 AK-47 automatic rifles aboard a stateless skiff while operating in the Gulf of Aden. 

Thank you to these brave sailors for defending freedom overseas!

 

 

 

 

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Joe Scarborough Claimed Trump and His Policies Have Been Worse for US Than 9/11 Terrorists Were. Seriously.

Wed, 09/12/2018 - 09:52

You probably know that morning TV host, and former RINO congressman Joe Scarborough, wrote on the 9/11 anniversary that Donald Trump and his policies are more of a threat to America than the terrorists of al Qaeda. Remember them? Those illegal immigrants never got deported. They walked through lax airport security to hijack jets and murder more than 3,000 Americans in a single day. Scarborough called Trump "maniacal" and claimed that he has

savaged America's vital alliances, provided comfort to hostile foreign powers, attacked our intelligence and military communities, and lent a sympathetic ear to neo-Nazis and white supremacists across the globe. …

Osama bin Laden was killed by SEAL Team 6 before he [destroyed America]. Other tyrants who tried to do the same were consigned to the ash heap of history. The question for voters this fall is whether their country will move beyond this troubled chapter in history or whether they will continue supporting a politician who has done more damage to the dream of America than any foreign adversary ever could.

Commentators, even on the left, have condemned Scarborough's shameless disrespect for American victims of 9/11. And his hateful, vicious contempt for half the voters in America. Scarborough even published a hasty, half-hearted apology.

The Sickly Sweet Reek of a Death Camp, in Manhattan

I wonder what my old friend Paul would think. Paul was racing to a breakfast meeting at Windows on the World that day. Because he's disorganized and always late, he arrived at the Towers just in time to see a plane crash into one. He stared up at the sky, then ran for cover to escape the plummeting, flaming wreckage.

I never dreamed that a fellow American would dare to compare half of his fellow citizens to those Islamist killers

Or my old friend Chris, who worked in a nearby tower, and evacuated with tens of thousands of others through ashen streets, watching bodies fall from the sky to land just block or so away. He spent months addicted to tranquilizers, just so he could make it to work.

Or the good Fr. George Rutler, who was hearing confessions in Tower Two well after it was already on fire. He was called out to the sidewalk to give Last Rites to a fireman, only to hear the Tower collapse behind him.

For a more wrenching testimony, check out Steve Cortes' essay, about a 9/11 survivor whose life was ruined.

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I was over in Queens. So my first-hand experience of the attack -- apart from panicked crowds in the streets -- was the smell that lingered over my hometown for weeks. The acrid stench of chemicals. The sickly sweet reek of burnt human flesh. My father had told me about it. He'd marched through concentration camps with General Patton in Germany. I’d never expected to know it for myself.

The Myth of the Stab in the Back

And I never dreamed that a fellow American would dare to compare half of his fellow citizens to those Islamist killers who did this. Honestly, I expected more of my countrymen.

Maybe I shouldn't have. Political frenzy has driven people to scapegoat their fellow citizens in vicious ways before.

I'm reading a chilling, fascinating book, The Death of Democracy, by Benjamin Carter Hett. It uses the latest documents (some recently retrieved from old Soviet archives) to solve an historical mystery. How did the most highly educated country in the history of the world, with the most democratic constitution on earth, succumb to Nazi tyranny? And do so without a fight, through legal procedures that followed its constitution to the letter? All this, when the Nazi Party had never even broken 50 percent support in any free election.

The book drove me to watch again a 2002 movie classic, Max, starring John Cusack. This freely fictionalized account of real events depicts Jewish art dealer Max Rothman, who really did befriend and try to help the penniless failed artist, Adolf Hitler.

Both the scrupulous history text and the gripping film tell the very same tale. What goaded German elites and the institutions they led into embracing the blood-soaked utopianism of Hitler? What captivating story was Hitler telling which they were desperate to believe? It was simple:

We didn't lose. We were stabbed in the back. Germany didn't make a supreme effort in World War I then fail in an honest fight. It wasn't the fault of the army's leaders, or the Kaiser's reckless government antagonizing the U.S. No, we actually won that war fair and square. But foreigners worked with traitors in our midst to bring on catastrophe. These millions of people are not really our countrymen, but aliens with an evil agenda, from whom we must cleanse ourselves, like lice or bacteria. And the leaders whom they elected are illegitimate, foreign-imposed tyrants whom we are right to imagine impeaching, imprisoning, or killing.

Foreign Collusion Everywhere

Which is exactly what the left (and parts of the GOP establishment) have been saying about the 2016 presidential race since 2 a.m. on election night. It wasn't that Hillary Clinton neglected to campaign in half the country. Or that her squalid corruption and haughty arrogance turned off voters. Or that Americans were sick of elitist policies on immigration and trade, plus useless foreign wars.

No, we were stabbed in the back. Now it was time to find the murder weapon. Democrats fumed with rage that their "fundamental transformation" of America might be interrupted. So they kept pulling theories out of their orifices, and throwing them at the wall. But none would stick.

First, the Russians had hacked our voting machines. Then Trump had openly colluded with the Russian government to sway the vote. Then elements in his campaign had quietly colluded with Russians to hack the DNC computers. Each theory, however expensively peddled -- with help from special counsel Robert Mueller -- has peeled off the wall to the floor.

Foreigners worked with traitors in our midst to bring on catastrophe. These millions of people are not really our countrymen, but aliens with an evil agenda, from whom we must cleanse ourselves, like lice or bacteria. And the leaders whom they elected are illegitimate, foreign-imposed tyrants.

But that hasn't stopped the "Resistance" from harassing government workers trying to eat in restaurants. From assaulting teenagers for wearing "Maga" hats. Or beating up Republicans who encounter hooded Antifa storm troopers. Nor from publishing murder fantasies about the president. Or targeting the livelihoods of "deplorable" Americans who dared to vote differently from them. It hasn’t stopped the New York Times from hiring an editorial writer who damned an entire race, hoping that “white men” died of skin cancer.

Trump @ War

Want a brutal picture of just how thuggish the left has become? Tune in to Trump @ War. It's a powerful new documentary by Stephen K. Bannon. (I appear in it as a commentator.) The film documents the vicious, ongoing attacks of "Resistance" members against their fellow Americans. It shows the profound contempt our elites have been stoking against those they consider "traitors" who "stabbed them in the back."

It premieres on One America News (OANN) on Wednesday November 12, at 8 pm ET. Soon after, it will be available free on Youtube. Currently it's rated "X" for violence and profanity. That's all from handheld camera footage of direct political violence committed against Trump supporters. Its message? That these upcoming congressional elections are far more pivotal than any of us expected. They tell us whether a successful president can be driven into impeachment by violence, lies and elite conspiracies.

TRUMP @WAR Official Trailer from TRUMP@War Official Trailer on Vimeo.

Whether that happens or not, of course, is up to you and me.

Is There a ‘Third Option’ for Racial Reconciliation? Interview With Miles McPherson

Wed, 09/12/2018 - 09:30

Racial tension is a massive issue facing both the society and church today. Sometimes it can feel hopeless and overwhelming.

Enter Miles McPherson, pastor of the Rock Church in San Diego. I have been a friend and fan of his for a long time. He is one of the boldest and most prophetic voices in the Church today. He is teaching truth and living it.

His new book The Third Option is simply a must-read for all Christians. It is insightful, honest, and convicting. Please think about getting a copy and discussing it with a friend. As Miles says below, we can (and must) each make a difference. 

Sean McDowell: At this point in your life and ministry, why did you choose to write a book on racial reconciliation?

Miles McPherson: I wrote this book because of the belief that God had given me the experiences and upbringing to communicate a message of hope to all people. In addition, for my entire life, the racial division in our country has burdened my heart and I want to equip people to build bridges with those they feel distant from.

McDowell: How has your personal experience -- growing up and as a pastor -- influence how you think about this issue?

McPherson: I grew up in a diverse family compromised of Black, White and Chinese. I lived in a Black neighborhood and went to elementary and junior high school in a White neighborhood. I experienced discrimination from Whites because I was not White enough and from Blacks because I was not Black enough. However, I had great friends in both neighborhoods and heard them speak about each other in ways inconsistent with the truth.

Now that I have a church where I see a diverse group of 20,000 people get along and serve our city everyday, I know that it is possible. I wrote this book to provide our culture with insights on how to heal the racial divide.

McDowell: Your new book is titled The Third Option. What is this "third" option and how is it unique?

McPherson: Racism has developed an "us" versus "them" culture where you are forced to choose from one of two options. The "third option" rejects being limited to the first two options and focuses on a third option of honoring that which we have in common.

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Not only are we 99.5% genetically identical, we were all made in the image of the same God. His image is not inferior or superior in one person over another. If we can focus on our God-given ability and responsibility to live in a loving relationship with God and each other, we will be able to lean into being honoring and loving versus trying to avoid being racist.

McDowell: What do you think is at the heart of racism? And what can each of us do to make a difference?

McPherson: Racism is based on pride and the felt need to exercise superiority over another group based on their ethnicity. It is based on the false idea that in order for someone to win, someone else must lose. People can also express it out of resentment for being discriminated against.

We can express "The Third Option" by first acknowledging that our self worth and provision is given to us by God and cannot be taken away by man. Because all of us are biased in some way, we can begin to make a difference by acknowledging our personal blind spots and how we may be racially offensive, even when we do not know it.

Even though there are people who are racist, we must accept that a person can be racially offensive and not actually be a racist. This is critical to know, because often people believe that if they admit that they were offensive, they are also admitting to being a racist. If you deny the possibility of being offensive, you will also deny the opportunity to learn.

McDowell: What does the Christian worldview uniquely have to offer to racial division today?

McPherson: The Bible clearly instructs us to love our "neighbor" as ourselves but let me point out an important component that often gets overlooked.

Because of the negative impacts of racism, we tend to label people something less than our "neighbor" and consequently apply an inferior level of love toward them. In other words, if they are not truly our neighbor, we give ourselves permission not to love them like our real neighbor. It can often be a love void of justice or humility.

It can be a love that allows it to be expressed at a distance. Therefore the Christian love that Jesus spoke about in Matthew 22:37-40 can wipe out racism if it truly moves us to label everyone as our "neighbor," thus moving us to love them as we would our own family.

 

Originally appeared at SeanMcDowell.org. Republished with permission.

‘Big and Vicious’: Hurricane Florence Closes in on Carolinas

Wed, 09/12/2018 - 00:31

WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) -- Motorists streamed inland on highways converted to one-way evacuation routes Tuesday as about 1.7 million people in three states were warned to get out of the way of Hurricane Florence, a hair-raising storm taking dead aim at the Carolinas with 140 mph (225 kph) winds and potentially ruinous rains.

Florence was expected to blow ashore late Thursday or early Friday, then slow down and wring itself out for days, unloading 1 to 2 1/2 feet (0.3 to 0.6 meters) of rain that could cause flooding well inland and wreak environmental havoc by washing over industrial waste sites and hog farms.

Forecasters and politicians pleaded with the public to take the warnings seriously and minced no words in describing the threat.

“This storm is a monster. It’s big and it’s vicious. It is an extremely, dangerous, life-threatening, historic hurricane,” North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said.

He added: “The waves and the wind this storm may bring is nothing like you’ve ever seen. Even if you’ve ridden out storms before, this one is different. Don’t bet your life on riding out a monster.”

This GOES East satellite image taken Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, at 10:30 a.m. EDT, and provided by NOAA, shows Hurricane Florence in the Atlantic Ocean as it threatens the U.S. East Coast.

Some hoped for divine intervention.

“I’m prayed up and as ready as I can get,” Steven Hendrick said as he filled up gasoline cans near Conway, South Carolina.

More than 5.4 million people live in areas under hurricane warnings or watches on the U.S. East Coast, according to the National Weather Service, and another 4 million people were under a tropical storm watch.

President Donald Trump declared states of emergency for North and South Carolina and Virginia, opening the way for federal aid. He said the federal government is “absolutely, totally prepared” for Florence.

All three states ordered mass evacuations along the coast. But getting out of harm’s way could prove difficult.

Florence is so wide that a life-threatening storm surge was being pushed 300 miles (485 kilometers) ahead of its eye, and so wet that a swath from South Carolina to Ohio and Pennsylvania could get deluged.

People across the region rushed to buy bottled water and other supplies, board up their homes, pull their boats out of the water and get out of town.

Robert Patch and John Courtney, of Local Builder’s Construction, install wood paneling over windows at the Armstrong Grocery, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, in New Bern, N.C.

A line of heavy traffic moved away from the coast on Interstate 40, the main route between the port city of Wilmington and inland Raleigh. Between the two cities, about two hours apart, the traffic flowed smoothly in places and became gridlocked in others because of fender-benders.

Only a trickle of vehicles was going in the opposite direction, including pickup trucks carrying plywood and other building materials.

Long lines formed at service stations, and some started running out of gas as far west as Raleigh, with bright yellow bags, signs or rags placed over the pumps to show they were out of order. Some store shelves were picked clean.

“There’s no water. There’s no juices. There’s no canned goods,” Kristin Harrington said as she shopped at a Walmart in Wilmington.

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At 5 p.m., the storm was centered 785 miles (1,260 km) southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, moving at 17 mph (28 kph). It was a potentially catastrophic Category 4 storm but was expected to keep drawing energy from the warm water and intensify to near Category 5, which means winds of 157 mph (253 kph) or higher.

Florence is the most dangerous of three tropical systems in the Atlantic. Tropical Storm Isaac was east of the Lesser Antilles and expected to pass south of Puerto Rico, Hispaniola and Cuba, while Hurricane Helene was moving northward away from land. Forecasters also were tracking two other disturbances.

The coastal surge from Florence could leave the eastern tip of North Carolina under more than 9 feet (2.75 meters) of water in spots, projections showed.

“This one really scares me,” National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said.

Federal officials begged residents to put together emergency kits and have a plan on where to go.

“This storm is going to knock out power days into weeks. It’s going to destroy infrastructure. It’s going to destroy homes,” said Jeff Byard, an official at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Aubrey Polar, 13, right, of Wilmington, N.C., puts her arm around her sister Sadie, 6, as they look toward the ocean in advance of Hurricane Florence on Wrightsville Beach, N.C., Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018.

Forecasters said parts of North Carolina could get 20 inches (50 centimeters) of rain, if not more, with as much as 10 inches (25 centimeters) elsewhere in the state and in Virginia, parts of Maryland and Washington, D.C.

One trusted computer model, the European simulation, predicted more than 45 inches (115 centimeters) in parts of North Carolina. A year ago, people would have laughed off such a forecast, but the European model was accurate in predicting 60 inches (150 centimeters) for Hurricane Harvey in the Houston area, so “you start to wonder what these models know that we don’t,” University of Miami hurricane expert Brian McNoldy said.

Rain measured in feet is “looking likely,” he said.

The storm forced people to cut their vacations short along the coast.

Paula Matheson of Springfield, Oregon, got the full Southern experience during her 10-week RV vacation: hot weather, good food, beautiful beaches and, finally, a hurricane evacuation.

Probable path of Hurricane Florence, as of Tuesday, Sept. 11. (Click for full size)

Florence interrupted her stay on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. It took Matheson and her husband nearly the whole day Monday to drive the 60 miles (100 kilometers) off the barrier island.

“It was so beautiful. The water was fabulous. Eighty-five degrees,” Matheson said, pausing a moment. “I guess that’s a big part of the problem.”

Florence’s projected path includes half a dozen nuclear power plants, pits holding coal-ash and other industrial waste, and numerous hog farms that store animal waste in huge lagoons.

Duke Energy spokesman Ryan Mosier said operators would begin shutting down nuclear plants at least two hours before hurricane-force winds arrive.

North Carolina’s governor issued what he called a first-of-its-kind mandatory evacuation order for North Carolina’s fragile barrier islands from one end of the coast to the other. Typically, local governments in North Carolina make the call on evacuations.

“We’ve seen nor’easters and we’ve seen hurricanes before,” Cooper said, “but this one is different.”

___

Associated Press writers Seth Borenstein in Washington; Jennifer Kay in Miami; Gary Robertson in Raleigh, North Carolina; Jeffrey Collins in Latta, South Carolina; Meg Kinnard in Columbia, South Carolina; Jeff Martin and Jay Reeves in Atlanta; and Tamara Lush in St. Petersburg, Florida, contributed to this report.

___

For the latest on Hurricane Florence, visit https://www.apnews.com/tag/Hurricanes.

 

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

It’s Time for Adults to Go Back to School … To Give Thanks

Tue, 09/11/2018 - 23:00

I recently attended a local high school football game that featured the three-time Virginia state champion. That might seem strange, given I didn't attend either school that was playing, my eldest child just started kindergarten, and there are at least four public high schools closer to my house. One connection explained my attendance. The head coach was my fifth-grade teacher.

It's back to school time for kids across America. It should be for adults, as well. I don't mean graduate school or continuing education. I mean: Visit or call your former teachers.

Recognizing a Teacher’s Sacrifice

Teachers give a lot of themselves -- their time, their energy, even their own money. The average teacher spends almost $500 per year on supplies, money that will never be refunded. Much of their work is also not reimbursed, spending several hours a day outside of school grading, lesson planning, and doing school-related activities.

Many students respond to these efforts by misbehaving or offering subpar work. Parents in turn complain about the teacher's performance. Some try to get special favors for their kids.

This year hundreds of thousands of teachers across the United States return to schools for another round, trying their best to prepare students for work and college. Theirs is a life of self-gift far beyond the pay or thanks they receive. To return to our teachers, to share how we are doing, to discuss our memories of their classes, is a small way to pay back what we were given. It proves to our former teachers that their efforts were not in vain.

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Returning to these memories connects us to our past. Now more mature, we can perceive the sacrifices adults made for us. These memories then foster gratitude that blesses our former teachers, and our communities, as we assume the role of responsible adults.

Even the teachers who frustrated me, whom I didn't like for silly, immature reasons, I now appreciate. Years ago I stopped by the classroom of high-school Latin teacher whom I'd given a rough time. I told her that I wished I had paid closer attention. The older I get, the more I find I need Latin for my history work, and even my faith.

Thanking Your Former Teachers

I confess I'm probably more likely than the average person to communicate with former teachers. I have a masters in teaching, and I used to teach social studies in my hometown. During my training for a career in education, I returned to the classes of former teachers to observe, teach guest lessons, and survey students for graduate school projects. One of my former social studies teachers even attended my wedding.

As another year of school starts, I'm going to thank many of my former teachers. I urge all other former students to do the same.

When I told my mother about my former teacher-turned-football-coach, she reminded me of an something I had forgotten. I had a baseball cap I wore to school everyday. It was a prized possession. One day I couldn't find the hat. My teacher, somehow, suspected a kid in another grade had stolen it. I'm not sure how he did it, but within a few days he had recovered that hat.

It seems like a small thing, but it certainly endeared me to that teacher -- as did his willingness to serve as all-time quarterback every day at recess. I was thinking about that, more than twenty years later, as I watched him lead the returning state champs to victory on the gridiron.

Teachers touch thousands of lives, and yet after they retire that influence contracts. Perhaps this is when they need former students the most, reminding them their sacrifices, though never repaid, are appreciated. Those teachers, fought the good fight, and, God willing, left an indelible stamp on their communities.

As another year of school starts, I'm going to thank many of my former teachers. I urge all other former students, no matter how many years separate you from school, to do the same.

The Nation of Kiribati is Growing, Not Sinking

Tue, 09/11/2018 - 19:00

Journalists are traveling to the Pacific island nation of Kiribati, because they believe that global warming is causing it to sink into the ocean, and it will soon be gone. However, the people of Kiribati are telling reporters this is not the case. A newsman has chalked this up to a "mental block" that makes the locals unwilling to face the truth. Yet, the facts of the matter prove that the people of Kiribati are correct, and the journalists are disconnected from reality.

The nation of Kiribati is comprised almost entirely of coral reef islands. These are typically found in the Pacific Ocean and are primarily made of gravel, silt and sand that has accumulated on coral reefs. Because these islands are only slightly above sea level and are made of loosely bound sediments, they are considered to be among the most vulnerable places on Earth to rising sea levels.

In a recent Washington Post feature entitled "The Sinking State," Joshua Keating, a staff writer and editor at Slate, claims that "not that long from now" rising seas caused by global warming will "probably" destroy Kiribati. He also says:

it may be "one of the first" nations "wiped out by the effects of climate change." the entire nation could become little more than "a reinforced platform with a flag perched in the open ocean." its capital city of "Tarawa, where nearly half the country's 110,000 residents live, could soon be substantially underwater."

To support these predictions, Keating quotes a 2015 report that the administration of Kiribati's former president sent to the United Nations. It says that "within a century" the nation's farmland "will be largely submerged, while other islands and atolls will ... disappear altogether." This report contains no citations or links to document these allegations. It also repeatedly mentions the financial resources that Kiribati wants from others to mitigate these catastrophes.

Kiribati Has Actually Grown

In contrast to those claims, the authors of a 2010 paper in the journal Global and Planetary Change used aerial and satellite photographs to conduct "the first quantitative analysis of physical changes" in 27 central Pacific coral reef islands. This included those in Kiribati.

The study examined four islands in Tarawa over periods of 31-65 years and found that:

all four islands exhibited an increase in island area. Notably the three urbanized islands of Betio, Bairiki and Nanikai increased in area by 30, 16.3 and 12.5% respectively. Buariki in the north of the atoll exhibited an increase of 2%.

The study also found that these circumstances are not unique to Kiribati, and among the 43 islands surveyed:

43% remained stable. 15% decreased in area, with changes ranging from 3% to 14%. 43% increased in area, with changes ranging from 3% to 30%.

In the words of the paper, the "results of this study contradict widespread perceptions that all reef islands are eroding in response to recent sea level rise."

Likewise, the authors of a 2013 paper in the journal Sustainability Science used aerial and satellite photographs to examine "changes in shoreline position on the majority of reef islands" in Tarawa from 1943 to 2007. They found that these islands "substantially increased in size" and:

Despite the widely held perception that reef islands around the perimeter of coral atolls are eroding and will disappear as a consequence of sea-level rise resulting from global warming, this study shows that the total area of reef islands on Tarawa Atoll has increased over recent decades.

The study determined that the vast majority of this increase was from human activities. For example, people have filled in marine areas with materials from nearby beaches and shore areas to create new land. Yet, even in rural areas where natural processes dominate, the study found that "most reef islands show stability" and have had "modest natural rates" of growth.

The same paper notes that some individuals observe "evidence of erosion of reef islands" and "infer" that they "are threatened by sea-level rise" from global warming. "However," as the authors explain, "these trends have often been shown to be cyclic" natural changes that have nothing to do with global warming.

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Journalists and activists frequently point to short-term or local trends as proof that humans are causing harmful changes in the earth's climate, but long-term, inclusive data often shows that these changes are well within the bounds of natural variation. Beyond coral reef islands, they have done this with diverse subjects like hurricanes, temperature changes, famines, rainfall, and ice conditions.

Since long before humans began using fossil fuels, the earth and its climate have been changing. As stated in the college textbook Evolution of Sedimentary Rocks, "Every area of the continents has been at one time covered by the sea, and there are some places that show clear record of being submerged at least 20 separate times."

Global Versus Local Trends

Data from tide gauges show that the average global sea level has been generally rising since 1860 or earlier. Since 1993, instruments on satellites have also shown a rise in the average global sea level.

That does not mean that sea level has risen everywhere. The ocean's vast waters are not evenly distributed like they are in small bodies like lakes. For instance, the sea level in the Indian Ocean is about 330 feet below the worldwide average, while the sea level in Ireland is about 200 feet above average. Even though all the oceans are connected, such variations are caused by gravity, winds, and currents.

Also, the practical effects of these phenomena are dynamic. For example, between 1992 and 2010, sea level rose by about 6 inches in the tropical Western Pacific while falling by about the same amount in San Francisco.

In other words, local sea level trends commonly differ from global ones. Hence, it is a mistake to assume that the average global trend applies to everywhere on earth.

It is also a mistake to assume that a rise in the average global sea level translates to a net loss in coastal land. Per a 2016 study published in the journal Nature, the earth gained a net total of 5,000 square miles of coastal land area from 1985 to 2015.

Mental Blocks

Near the end of his piece, Keating frets that the citizens of Kiribati "seem no more troubled about the issue" of climate change "than people in the United States are." Reporting on his visit to Kiribati and interviews with the locals, he writes:

"Most people I met weren't making plans to relocate anytime soon." "Instead, I heard a lot of frustration that the rest of the world seems to take notice of the I-Kiribati only to tell them they're doomed." "Several people I spoke with had already given interviews about climate change to foreign reporters. 'In my case, you are the fifth person,' remarked Teewata Aromata.... 'People come and ask us the same questions. They see pictures of us and think we are drowning in the ocean.' "

Instead of considering the possibility that these people are correct, Keating evaluates the situation and psychoanalyzes them as follows:

Yet the stubborn facts remain. Countries like the Maldives and Kiribati are probably disappearing -- and not that long from now. I came to Kiribati expecting to find a place planning for its own destruction, but instead I found something more dispiriting: a place that, with a few exceptions, wasn't even contemplating that destruction. ...

The mental block that prohibits thinking about what will happen when the islands are no longer inhabitable seems to be a major impediment to planning for that eventuality. In this regard, too, Kiribati is a microcosm of the world's unwillingness to face the reality of the future.

This episode highlights the media's propensity to embrace false narratives and look down their noses at others who don't. Given the effects of media on the public and governments, this can waste enormous resources on fake problems, while diverting them from real ones.

 

James D. Agresti is the president of Just Facts, a think tank dedicated to publishing rigorously documented facts about public policy issues.

Liberals Look Down at People. Conservatives Look Up to Them.

Tue, 09/11/2018 - 19:00

There’s almost a sort of sad comedy in listening to Barack Obama of late.

For example, he's accused President Trump of being divisive. This from the man who bathed the White House in the "LGBT Rainbow" colors the night of the Supreme Court's same-sex marriage decision. 

But there's something else Mr. Obama said the other day that was a bit head-snapping.

Donald Trump, said Mr. Obama, is "just capitalizing on resentments that politicians have been fanning for years, a fear and anger that's rooted in our past but it's also born out of the enormous upheavals that have taken place in your brief lifetimes."

In a sense, this latest attack on people who supported Mr. Trump is nothing new for Mr. Obama. He offered the same critique in 2008 in a speech in Pennsylvania. He said of people having a tough time in the economy, "They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

How the Left Sees We, the People

Let's simplify all of this: If you are fed-up with being talked down to by elitists like Mr. Obama, you're bitter, racist, and full of resentment. You can therefore be manipulated into voting for conservatives and "outsiders." You poor, pathetic, weak people.

Mr. Obama didn't speak that last line. He didn't need to.

Then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, sensing a political opportunity, said of Mr. Obama's 2008 comments, "I was taken aback by the demeaning remarks Senator Obama made about people in small-town America. His remarks are elitist and out of touch."

Yes, this is the same Hillary Clinton who claimed in 2016, "You could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic--you name it … (Trump) has lifted them up."

Liberal Stereotyping of Conservatives

What if a Republican said these kinds of things about liberals, there would be a media storm of historic proportion. Imagine if President George W. Bush had said something like this:

"Many Democrats, people who work in dying unions and others who live in urban areas, vote the way they do because they don't know better. They're easily prey for liberal politicians who make big promises. Politicians who know those willing to buy their appeals are too ignorant, dependent, and bitter to know better."

No doubt his Democratic critics would have exploded with rage. The media would have trotted-out out the usual "deep" commentators to talk about the fat-cat, racist, and insensitive Republican Party.

In both parties, there are outliers, people full of resentment and racism. But the overwhelming majority of Americans in both parties reject such things.

Opportunities for Conservatives

The reason Donald Trump appealed to so many people is that they were fed up. They were tired of the lying, ineptitude, and arrogance of people like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. They wanted change and were willing to take a risk on a larger-than-life, four times bankrupted, reality show real estate developer on his third marriage.

Interestingly, more than 40 percent of Mr. Trump's voters had college degrees. And the current President won 62 percent of the white vote - the exact same percentage as Mitt Romney four years earlier.

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Former President Obama and Mrs. Clinton represent a current that runs deep among  "Progressives," both historically and in the present day. To disagree with them shows one of three things: Ignorance, stupidity, or bad faith. Disagreement cannot be principled, since to differ with Progressivism/liberalism/neo-socialism, etc. is to depart from obvious truth.

"I am sorry for those that disagree with me," Woodrow Wilson, the first major Democratic Progressive, is quoted as saying, "because I know that they are wrong."

Comical as it is, this attitude remains entrenched in his party and its leaders.

This, by the way, gives the GOP a great opportunity. Republicans should make their arguments clearly and repeatedly to those worn out by the policies and attitudes of the Left.

These people aren't deplorable or bitter. They're Americans. They deserve to be treated as such.

Are We More Devoted Than the 9-11 Terrorists?

Tue, 09/11/2018 - 16:00

Were the Islamic terrorists who carried out the 9/11 attacks crazed fanatics, or were they simply religious men who were deeply devoted to a destructive and deadly cause?

The night before these jihadists committed their ghastly acts, they read a letter written in Arabic giving them their final instructions, including these lines:

Purify your soul from all unclean things. Completely forget something called "this world" [or, "this life"]. The time for play is over and the serious time is upon us. How much time have we wasted in our lives? Shouldn't we take advantage of these last hours to offer good deeds and obedience?

In another context, many of us could say "Amen" to these words, but in this context it reminds us of a sad reality: These men were more committed to evil than most of us are committed to good, more serious about their faith (in an unhealthy way) than most of us are about our faith (in a healthy way).

What would happen if we were as devoted to restoration as they were to destruction, as committed to saving lives as they were to destroying lives?

The Power of Commitment

Mahatma Gandhi once said that, "A reformer has to sail not with the current. Very often he has to go against it even though it may cost him his life." Yet some of us aren't willing to stand up for what is right if it might cost us our reputation, let alone our lives. (Our soldiers, of course, are a notable exception to this, as they risk their lives for freedom.)

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Perhaps we find it too difficult to compare our commitment to good to the jihadists' commitment to evil? Then let's consider something far more mundane. In 2001, after Minnesota Viking's player Korey Stringer died in practice, NFL star Grant Wistrom commented, "We play a rough game, and none of us in the NFL got this far by being cautious with our bodies. One reason I do what I do is that I’m willing to sacrifice and work when things are hard — whether I’m hot, hurt or fatigued. I take pride in my ability to plow through discomfort; that’s what makes me a football player."

So, a football player dies of complications related to heat stroke, and another player explains, "Hey, we didn't get this far by being cautious with our bodies." In other words, "It's possible we might get hurt or even die, but that's what makes us football players." And we cheer them for their courage. For what? For a football game! Can we stir ourselves to rise higher? Can we make a determination to swim against the tide, to go against the grain, and to accept discomfort and even hardship for doing what is right and good?

Complete Consecration to Good

Yale law professor Stephen Carter once wrote, "Along with many African-American theologians, I believe in the tremendous importance of preserving religious communities not only as centers of difference--that is, places where one grasps the meaning of the world as different from what you find in the dominant culture--but even more so as centers of resistance."

According to Carter, "These centers of resistance do not simply proclaim, 'We don't believe what the rest of you believe,' but say, 'We are willing and ready to sacrifice, to lose something material for the sake of that difference in which we believe.'"

Yet Prof. Carter was not naive. "Indeed," he explained, "radical transformation will demand a sacrifice. But a fundamental demand for sacrifice will not arise in politics. It will have to arise from the church, which is really the only contemporary, genuine source of resistance to the existing order."

The church? But of course. That has always been a place for radical commitment to good, as Carter continued, "It is only religion that still has the power, at its best, to encourage sacrifice and resistance." (I write this as a follower of Jesus. Those of other faiths can stake their claims about being forces of resistance to evil.)

But, Carter cautioned, "one should have no illusions. All too many pastors today, black and white, are so worried about filling the seats. Clergy deliver brilliant sermons that preach up to the edge of asking people to do something, and then they will pull back. Some pastors display prophetic leadership and call for sacrifice, but their numbers are small." Sad but true!

Yes, contemporary American Christianity does a better job of entertaining than inspiring, of promising a happy life rather than calling for a sacrificial life. But it's not too late to change. In our day, we have seen the tremendous power of total and complete consecration to evil. Isn't it time to discover the even greater power of total and complete consecration to good?

 

This article was first posted on September 4, 2011 and is posted again in memory of the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, including Douglas Gurian, my wife Nancy's only brother, who left behind his beloved wife and two precious children.

Shoes That Save a Life: LIFE Today’s Christmas Shoe Project

Tue, 09/11/2018 - 15:00

The little boy smelled like rotting flesh. Flies swarmed the wound on his left foot. By the time LIFE Today’s international photographer Janice Meyer finished talking with him about it, he was in tears.

Augusto is 8 years old. His father is dead. He lives in Angola with his mom. He helps her around the house, washing dishes and such. He loves to play soccer, but can’t because he’s in too much pain from the wound. “This child’s foot was actually gangrene. It was horrible,” said Meyer. “It just started with [insect bites].”

Stories like Augusto’s is why LIFE Today collects donations for shoes. They give out 150,000 shoes each year to children in need. Without shoes, the children run around barefoot. In destitute areas, having shoes can mean the difference between life and death. If they get a cut on their foot, infection can set in. Shoes help protect the children’s feet from debilitating or life-threatening wounds.

Augusto’s story doesn’t end there. He received medical treatment and a new pair of shoes, thanks to those who gave to LIFE’s Christmas Shoe Project.

Watch:

LIFE Today is celebrating their 11th year of the Christmas Shoe Project. In that time, they’ve handed out over 2 million pairs of new shoes.

You can help continue this good work. To give to the Christmas Shoe Project, please click here.

US Marks 9/11 With Somber Tributes; Trump Speaks at PA Site

Tue, 09/11/2018 - 13:43

NEW YORK (AP) -- Americans looked back on 9/11 Tuesday with tears and somber tributes as President Donald Trump hailed “the moment when America fought back” on one of the hijacked planes used as weapons in the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil.

Victims’ relatives said prayers for their country, pleaded for national unity and pressed officials not to use the 2001 terror attacks as a political tool in a polarized nation.

Seventeen years after losing her husband, Margie Miller came from her suburban home to join thousands of relatives, survivors, rescuers and others on a misty morning at the memorial plaza where the World Trade Center’s twin towers once stood.

“To me, he is here. This is my holy place,” she said before the hours-long reading of the names of her husband, Joel Miller, and the nearly 3,000 others killed when hijacked jets slammed into the towers, the Pentagon and a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2001.

The president and first lady Melania Trump joined an observance at the Sept. 11 memorial near Shanksville, where one of the jetliners crashed after 40 passengers and crew members realized what was happening and several passengers tried to storm the cockpit.

Calling it “the moment when America fought back,” Trump said the fallen “took control of their destiny and changed the course of history.”

They “joined the immortal ranks of American heroes,” said Trump.

At the Pentagon, Vice President Mike Pence recalled the heroism of service members and civilians who repeatedly went back into the Pentagon to rescue survivors.

The terrorists “hoped to break our spirit, and they failed,” he said.

At the United Nations, Security Council members stood for a moment of silence, led by U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley.

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The 9/11 commemorations are by now familiar rituals, centered on reading the names of the dead. But each year at ground zero, victims’ relatives infuse the ceremony with personal messages of remembrance, inspiration and concern.

For Nicholas Haros Jr., that concern is officials who make comparisons to 9/11 or invoke it for political purposes.

“Stop. Stop,” implored Haros, who lost his 76-year-old mother, Frances. “Please stop using the bones and ashes of our loved ones as props in your political theater. Their lives, sacrifices and deaths are worth so much more. Let’s not trivialize them.”

This year’s anniversary comes as a heated midterm election cycle kicks into high gear. But there have long been some efforts to separate the solemn anniversary from political campaigns. The group 9/11 Day, which promotes volunteering on the anniversary, asks candidates not to campaign or run political ads for the day. Organizers of the ground zero ceremony allow politicians to attend, but they’ve been barred since 2011 from reading names or delivering remarks.

If not political speeches, there were politically tinged appeals from some victims’ relatives amid the reading.

“May we support our president to lead our country,” said Joanne Barbara, who lost her husband, Fire Department Assistant Chief Gerard Barbara.

Another victim’s family sent a different message.

“My hope is that discrimination, hatred and bigotry will cease and that we all will come together and love,” said Debra Epps, a sister of victim Christopher Epps. Another sister, Chaundera, had an answer for anyone who wonders why families still come to such ceremonies after 17 years.

“Because soldiers are still dying for our freedom. First responders are still dying and being ill,” Chaundera Epps said, adding, “God bless America that’s never, ever, stopped being great.”

Other relatives laid bare the toll their losses had taken on their families. Thomas Langer said his brother, Timmy, “drank himself to death” after losing his wife, Vanessa, and their unborn child on Sept. 11.

“I witnessed my brother endure the pain that no one human being was ever meant to bear,” Thomas Langer said.

Sept. 11 still shapes American policy, politics and everyday experiences in places from airports to office buildings, even if it’s less of a constant presence in the public consciousness after 17 years.

A stark reminder came not long after last year’s anniversary: A truck mowed down people, killing eight, on a bike path within a few blocks of the World Trade Center on Halloween.

In December, a would-be suicide bomber set off a pipe bomb in a subway passageway near Times Square, authorities said. They said suspects in both attacks were inspired by the Islamic State extremist group.

The recent attacks scare Ruben Perez, who read names at the trade center Tuesday.

“I get very worried for the state of society. … It’s part of what it means to be human in the 21st century, a fear for public safety,” said Perez, 23, who lost his uncle, Calixto Anaya Jr.

Memorials to 9/11 continue to grow at Shanksville, where a newly dedicated Tower of Voices will eventually include a wind chime for each of the 40 people killed there, and ground zero, where work is to begin soon on a pathway honoring rescue and recovery workers.

It will serve as a way to recognize those who became sick or died from exposure to toxins released when the Trade Center’s twin towers collapsed. Researchers have documented elevated rates of respiratory ailments, post-traumatic stress disorder and other illnesses among people who spent time in the rubble.

About 38,500 people have applied to a compensation fund, and over $3.9 billion in claims have been approved.

Meanwhile, a subway station destroyed on 9/11 finally reopened Saturday. In June, doors opened at the 80-story 3 World Trade Center, one of several rebuilt office towers that have been constructed or planned at the site.

Victims’ families, too, have evolved and grown.

“Even though I never met you,” Isabella Del Corral said of her slain grandfather, Joseph Piskadlo, “I’ll never forget you.”

___

Associated Press writers Stephen Groves and Michael R. Sisak in New York, Darlene Superville in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, Lolita C. Baldor at the Pentagon and Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed to this report.

 

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

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