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the thinking everyman’s national daily—championing freedom, smaller government and human dignity.
Updated: 1 hour 16 min ago

Dismissiveness Toward Women Leads to Paige Patterson’s Dismissal, But Message Still ‘Not Sent’

2 hours 27 min ago

As Alex Chediak has reported, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has dismissed its president, Dr. Paige Patterson, placing him on emeritus status. The action follows strong public reaction to a series of remarks about women.

I was floored when I heard him tell a mother her son was “being biblical” when he ogled a 16 year-old girl in church and said, “Man, she is built.” I cannot imagine myself saying that in front of any other woman. I’d certainly never have done it around my late mother, and absolutely never my wife. Yet Patterson affirmed it as “biblical,” not just once, but again in the sermon excerpt you see in the video below.

His point in that message was that women are beautiful. That required no special knowledge of the Bible on his part, and no explication in front of a church -- yet he pulled it out of the original Hebrew anyway. Seeking to be biblical, he should have rushed to add that God created both men and women in His image, equally human, equal in worth and dignity. Jesus very specifically condemned lustful thoughts.

Instead he affirmed a young man’s lustful comment toward a young woman. He also dismissed the other woman standing there at the time -- the mom -- by interfering with her act of correcting her son. That in itself was wrong. For similar reasons reason his recently publicized 1997 joke that “everyone should own one” -- a woman, that is -- is also astonishing.

God created both men and women in His image, equally human, equal in worth and dignity.

Not What Human Beings Are For

God made no woman to be used, either in any physical relationship outside the covenant of marriage, or even for men’s private visual lusting. That’s not what humans are for. In fact as a man, I’ve learned that’s the single healthiest way for me to respond when a woman catches my eye. Yes, she’s physically attractive, I’ll acknowledge, but I can be aware of that without using her for something God didn’t intend her for.

Patterson has reportedly apologized for some of this. He has not backed down, however, from his advice that a wife suffering abuse stay in the marriage. And he advised abused women not even to separate for a season except in the most extreme circumstances.

There is more to that statement than meets the eye. Better outcomes may result from this advice than people have given Patterson credit for. Marriage matters. Separation is a serious thing. Civil divorce is to be avoided at all reasonable costs. Even on that most-charitable-possible view, though, I still see the scope of his recommendation as far, far too broad. A woman must have some recourse to protect herself. We wouldn’t think twice about putting a man in jail for beating a woman. Why should we consider that form of separation just and proper, but reject the far simpler separation of a husband and wife, for her protection and his correction?

Adding to the offense, Patterson allegedly encouraged a rape victim in 2003 to forgive her offender (which is biblical even for the worst offenses, as Christ has forgiven us ) without reporting him to the police (which is not).

Message Not Sent

Rachael Denhollander is an attorney and gymnast who was prominent in exposing the massive sex abuse scandal involving physician Larry Nassar, U.S. Gymnastics and Michigan State University. As an evangelical, she’s also been deeply involved in helping stop sexual harassment and abuse in the Church. She told The Stream in an interview, “I think we are seeing a microcosm of something that is rampant.... Patterson’s views are not unique; they are not unique at all. It’s actually very widespread.” Speaking of the seminary’s delayed -- and mild -- response, she said, “I think it says a lot about how widespread his views are, and how little we care.”

Al Mohler, the highly influential president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has likewise written of how widespread this problem is. Deeply rooted, too, for as Denhollander pointed out, “The message that this is unacceptable, and this is not what Scripture teaches, has definitely not been sent.”

It’s a disturbing thought, but not one to be passed over lightly. Patterson has been speaking dismissively toward women for a long time. Has no one whispered him a private warning? What did his wife think of all this? If anyone spoke up, it would appear he paid it too little mind.

Correction: Mild and Late

Correction is no longer optional in these #MeToo days, especially for a seminary president and the former president of the Southern Baptist Convention. The school board terminated him in the gentlest possible way, granting him emeritus status with pay and a permanent place of residence.

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He’s scheduled to deliver a major sermon at the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting this summer. It remains to be seen whether he’ll be allowed to deliver it. It’s hard to imagine any positive outcome from him doing so. Not unless he takes it as his opportunity to deliver a heartfelt, biblical, and above all, believable message of repentance.

I’m hopeful that good will come of this. The Church, including more than just Southern Baptists, is too willing to dismiss men’s misbehaviors while dismissing women altogether. We’ve taken a few steps toward growth and improvement in this, but maybe we needed a turning point, something that would shout out clearly that it’s wrong. May these events prove to be that turning point.

The Real Issue Between Israel and the Palestinians

4 hours 34 min ago

Yet again, a new spat of headlines from the Middle East have hit our feeds. And yet again, we are told, essentially, "It's all Israel's fault."

Israel is not a perfect country. Jews themselves don't even think it is. There's a famous joke about Jews that says "Two Jews, three opinions." You'll find a lively range of opinion among Jews both in, and outside of Israel.

Hamas, unfortunately, is not so divided. Its founding Charter called for the elimination of all Jews -- not just in Israel, but throughout the world. Its "coat of arms" shows the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount, with the entire land of Israel/Palestine on top in Islamic green, with two swords on the bottom. This organization has never been about peace, never been about coexistence, and never been about progress. Its entire reason for being is the destruction of Israel, and the murder of Jews. On this they are united.

Hamas: Terrorizing Israel and Using Palestinians

And it was Hamas Israel just did battle with recently.

The same Hamas who throws homosexuals off of rooftops, inspiring the inimitable Douglas Murray to observe "If you were part of 'Gays for Palestine' in Palestine you'd have to be in Israel!"

The same Hamas who hires people to go on suicide missions by offering their families money.

The same Hamas that fires missiles from hospitals, and uses civilians as human shields.

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The same Hamas who, after Israel offers multiple warnings for evacuations, threatens Palestinian civilians, at gunpoint, to stay where they are. Their blood being splattered across western television is more useful than their lives.

The same Hamas who, after the unilateral evacuation of all Jews from the Gaza strip, destroyed immense amounts of economic infrastructure (because it was created by Jews), and uses the hundreds of tons of aid convoyed into it by Israel on a daily basis to build weapons, dig tunnels, and repress its own people.

Fake Rallies, Fake Reports

Thus, for those of us who actually pay attention and study this conflict, the sight of Hamas-inspired "rallies" at the border of Gaza and Israel is no surprise. We know it isn't real. We know that in most cases, it is either the result of cash payments, or threats of violence. Is there genuine pain and anguish involved? Yes, absolutely. But most of it is created by Hamas for the sake of western media, who oftentimes refuse to tell the truth.

After Israel offers multiple warnings for evacuations, Hamas threatens Palestinian civilians, at gunpoint, to stay where they are. Their blood being splattered across western television is more useful than their lives.

For example, we were told that 62 Palestinians were killed, presumably because Israel is savage and has contempt for human life. This in turn catalyzed a cascade of virtue-signaling from politicians, celebrities, and "activists" alike, all condemning Israel. But soon after, we learned the truth (which, again, those of us who follow this conflict already knew). Of those 60 dead, 53 were terrorists. Fifty were from Hamas itself, and three were from Islamic Jihad. The other 7 could have been engaged in hostile actions, but didn't officially belong to any terrorist groups (as far as we know). Thus, Israel was not indiscriminately firing into crowds, but taking out terrorist thugs who were attacking it. If any of them had succeeded in taking down the border fence, and thousands flooded into Israel, the outcome would have been far bloodier than it was.

It’s Not About the Embassy

The ostensible cause of this madness? Western media says "The moving of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem."

This is nonsense. That was not the cause -- it was merely the pretext.

What does the move of the embassy do? Absolutely nothing. Under any and all proposals over the last three decades by either Israel or the Palestinian Authority for a two-state solution, Jerusalem was always divided between the two -- roughly Western Jerusalem for Israel, and East Jerusalem for the Palestinians. (This is an entirely arbitrary division, I might add; the result of the 1948 attempt by the Arabs to commit a second Holocaust by wiping out all the Jews in the Holy Land.) In any event, it was always certain that Israel would have at least West Jerusalem -- and that is where the Embassy is located.

Beyond according Israel what is accorded to every other nation on earth, absolutely nothing changed.

What Relocating the Embassy Did

The relocation of the U.S. Embassy did two things: it acknowledged the reality which both Israel and the Palestinians have assumed for decades (i.e. that Israel would always have at least West Jerusalem), and affirmed the right of Israel to say where its capital is. Nothing more.

But, as with so much else, the Jewish State was held to a different standard -- one that apparently makes Hamas' violent, and genocide-inspired actions at its border understandable. And yet what could Hamas possibly be protesting -- the obvious? The reality? The same understanding that their fellow Palestinians have always claimed (at least publicly) to have?

Nearly 90 percent of the people killed by Israel in the recent "protests" were terrorists -- men committed not to bloodying Israel's nose, but smiting Israel's neck.

The reality is that those who would deny that Jerusalem was, or could be, Israel's capital in any way are the same ones who would deny that Israel has any right to exist at all. Period.

And that denial of a right simply to be is the foundation of Hamas. That's why nearly 90 percent of the people killed by Israel in the recent "protests" were terrorists -- men committed not to bloodying Israel's nose, but smiting Israel's neck.

Hamas More Honest Than Western Media

What made the entire sordid affair even worse is that Hamas openly acknowledged its aims. It openly acknowledged that this was not a peaceful protest, but an act of violence. The leader of Hamas explicitly said "So when we talk about 'peaceful resistance,' we are deceiving the public," and said that Palestinians should not even be talking with Israel. Hamas also recently acknowledged, on Lebanese TV, that it was in almost daily contact with Hezbollah and Iran, both of which have, likewise, affirmed their desire to destroy Israel.

And that is the core of the conflict: one side accepts the right of the other to exist. The other, doesn't.

Thus, it is no stretch to say that we are in a position where Hamas -- an organization dedicated to the annihilation of the Jewish people -- is being more honest than the western media.

Remember that the next time you read headlines from Gaza.

Trump Cancels Summit, Citing ‘Open Hostility’ by North Korea

5 hours 42 min ago

WASHINGTON (AP) -- In a dramatic diplomatic turn, President Donald Trump canceled next month’s summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un Thursday, citing the “tremendous anger and open hostility” in a recent statement by the North.

Trump said in a letter to Kim released by the White House that, based on the statement, he felt it was “inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting.” Adding his own threat, he said that while the North Koreans talk about their nuclear capabilities, “ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used.”

A letter from the President to Chairman Kim Jong Un: "It is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting." pic.twitter.com/3dDIp55xu1

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) May 24, 2018

In the Korean statement that Trump cited, the North referred to Vice President Mike Pence as a “political dummy” for his comments on the North and said it was just as ready to meet in a nuclear confrontation as at the negotiating table.

Trump said his letter: “If you change your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to call me or write.”

He said the world was losing a “great opportunity for lasting peace and great prosperity and wealth” now that their June 12 summit has been canceled. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo read the letter during a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Thursday.

The president had agreed to the historic sit-down in March after months of trading insults and nuclear threats with the North Korean leader. But after criticism from North Korea, Trump cast doubt this week on whether the meeting would happen.

A White House official said it was incorrect to focus on the “dummy comments” about Pence. The official said the North Koreans had threatened nuclear war in their statement released Wednesday night and no summit could be successful under these circumstances.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

White House officials have privately predicted for weeks that the summit could be canceled once or twice before actually taking place, owing to the hard-nosed style of the two leaders. Trump has seemed to welcome chatter of a Nobel Peace Prize, but that has yielded in recent weeks to the sobering prospect of ensuring a successful outcome with the Kim.

Trump’s allies in Congress applauded the president, saying he was justified in pulling out of the meeting.

“North Korea has a long history of demanding concessions merely to negotiate. While past administrations of both parties have fallen for this ruse, I commend the president for seeing through Kim Jong Un’s fraud,” said Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., who said the nation’s “maximum-pressure campaign on North Korea must continue.”

This spring, scoring a diplomatic win with Pyongyang had become Trump’s top focus.

That had been a far cry from his bellicose rhetoric, issued both on Twitter and from the rostrum of the United Nations last fall. Trump threw off ominous taunts of raining “fire and fury” on the North while belittling its leader as “Little Rocket Man, alarming many global capitals and much of Washington’s national security establishment and increasing worries about nuclear war. But Trump believed his outside-the-box behavior would bring Kim to the negotiating table.

Drawn to big moments and bigger headlines, Trump has viewed the North Korea summit as a legacy-maker for him, believing that the combustible combination of his bombast and charm already had led to warmer relations between North and South.

He immediately agreed to the proposed meeting, conveyed by South Korean officials, accepting it before consulting with many of his top national security advisers. And earlier this month, when welcoming home three Americans who had been detained in North Korea, Trump used a televised, middle-of-the-night ceremony to play up both his statecraft and stagecraft.

Some observers raised concerns that Trump was risking legitimizing Kim’s government by agreeing to meet him on the world stage without evidence of denuclearization or other concessions. But Trump had bet big on the summit, telling one confidant that he believed a deal with North Korea, rather than in the Middle East, could be his historic victory.

___

Associated Press writers Ken Thomas, Darlene Superville and Jonathan Lemire contributed.

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

House-Passed Prison Reforms Would Help Strengthen Families and Communities

6 hours 2 min ago

The House passed a prison reform bill Tuesday overwhelmingly on a bipartisan vote of 360 to 59.

Now, the Senate will consider the reforms -- which, if enacted, would help individual inmates, their families, and communities; increase public safety; and reverse the trend of skyrocketing spending at the Bureau of Prisons.

The Formerly Incarcerated and Re-enter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person Act -- aka the FIRST STEP Act of 2018 -- would expand access in federal prisons to programs that are consistently evaluated for their ability to reduce the rate at which prisoners re-offend and return to prison, such as employment and parenting skills training and drug abuse treatment.

The bipartisan legislation was introduced by Reps. Doug Collins, R-Ga.; Bob Goodlatte, R-Va.; Karen Bass, D-Calif.; and Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y.

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Today, nearly half of all federal inmates return to prison after they are released. This bill, aimed at changing the revolving-door narrative of prisons in ways that help ex-offenders become productive, law-abiding members of society, is well worth consideration by the Senate.

The bill would build into the federal prison-intake process an individualized assessment of each inmate's needs and recidivism risk in order to match him or her to programs that would best address the factors that prompted that individual's decision to commit a crime.

Anti-social impulses or relationships, lack of education or job skills, drug abuse, or mental health issues are some of the factors that can and should be addressed through productive activities within prison walls before inmates return to society.

The bill would reward those who successfully complete programs, and have not been convicted of a disqualifying offense, with earned time credits, allowing them to serve some portion of their sentence in home or community confinement -- as long as they remain law-abiding.

President Donald Trump has supported prison reform since at least his first State of the Union address, building on both his economic prosperity and public safety agendas.

At a White House prison reform summit on May 18, Trump said that "[a]t the heart of our prison reform agenda is expanding prison work and the programs" -- all designed and evaluated to reduce recidivism -- "so that inmates can re-enter society with the skills to get a job."

"Nobody wins when former prisoners fail to adjust to life outside, or worse, end up back behind bars. We want former inmates to find a path to success," said Trump, "so they can support their families and support their communities."

Conservative-run states have already proven the importance of productive activities in prison, from faith-based mentorships to Toastmasters classes and from earning a GED to addiction counseling.

Federal prisons also offer several successful recidivism-reduction programs, including substance abuse treatment and education programs.

It is time that Congress expanded those programs by adopting best practices from both the state and federal levels.

In 2006, Texas lawmakers faced a choice -- either stick with the status quo of incarceration trends and construct facilities to house 17,770 more prison beds by 2012, at a cost of $2 billion, or implement a nonpartisan reform package at a cost of about $250 million with the aim of stabilizing the prison population until at least 2011.

Texas chose the second option, and ended up increasing public safety while spending fewer taxpayer dollars. State crime rates dropped to historic lows. Arrest rates decreased. Six juvenile facilities and three prisons closed (with a fourth scheduled to close this summer).

Part of Texas' success story involves expanded diversion programs for low-level, nonviolent offenders. But another part involves expanded prison programs, including substance-abuse counseling and mental health treatment.

In 2011, Georgia faced similar problems. Its adult prisons hit 107 percent of capacity, and more than a quarter of all inmates were being reconvicted within three years of leaving prison (a rate that had held steady for a decade) at an annual cost of $1 billion.

During Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal's second inaugural speech in 2015, he explained that "prisons have always been schools."

"In the past," he explained, "the inmates have learned how to become better criminals. Now, they are taking steps to earn diplomas and gain job skills that will lead to employment after they serve their sentences."

Today, the vision of Georgia's Department of Corrections is a cause for optimism: It is "a process of transition that should begin when the offender enters our system," it says, adding that it "provides effective opportunities for offenders to achieve positive change and to be a more pro-social contributor to society."

The department aims "[t]o build individual capacity of the offender to be a productive member of his/her family and community" and "[t]o enhance public safety by reducing recidivism among the formerly incarcerated population."

Georgia is using prisons to protect the public not only "by operating secure and safe facilities," but also by "reducing recidivism through effective programming, education, and health care."

The FIRST STEP Act builds on the success demonstrated in Texas, Georgia, and other conservative states.

Trump was right to say, at the White House prison reform summit, that "[i]t is not merely a waste of money, but a waste of human capital ... to put former inmates on public assistance instead of placing them into a steady job where they can pay taxes, contribute to their country, gain dignity and pride that comes with a career."

Trump has pledged support for prison reform. The House has delivered a meaningful bill with overwhelming support. Now, it is the Senate's turn to consider the proposal.

As Trump said, it is an opportunity to help "make our communities more secure ... to make our country more prosperous," and to "make America safer, and stronger, and greater."

 

Copyright 2018 The Daily Signal

This Week I Lost Faith. We All Did.

7 hours 3 min ago

Last week I got the urgent message from a mutual friend: "Faith is gravely ill, and she doesn't have long. Maybe a week...."

It came as an ugly shock. Just two weeks before, I'd seen a picture on Twitter of Faith Whittlesey looking hale and hearty. A twinkle in her eye (the one she hadn't lost to cancer) she held up a copy of my 2014 book, The Race to Save Our Century. Alongside her stood my co-author, pro-life filmmaker Jason Jones, and former Trump strategist Steve Bannon.

An Activist for Reagan

It was no surprise to see Faith among movers and shakers. A housewife and mother in Pennsylvania in the 80s, she entered conservative politics to stand up for her values. For her Christian beliefs and the country she loved so truly. Starting small, she soon became a mover and shaker in the GOP. She had the vision to back Ronald Reagan over the tired Gerald Ford in 1976 -- and paid the price in party circles. Four years later, she helped deliver the state for Reagan, and went on to serve the President both on his White House staff (as the highest ranking woman there) and also as ambassador to Switzerland.

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She parlayed that appointment into a long-term useful career via the American Swiss Foundation, which she made a crucial bridge between two sister democracies. Faith served on boards of international corporations, always a voice for honest stewardship. She endured the shocking suicide of her husband, and took exquisite care of a beloved son stricken, as a straight-A student at Harvard, with crippling schizophrenia. Faith carried other crosses which she wouldn't want me to talk about. But she did so with grace and an almost implausible courage.

An Early Conductor on the Trump Train

Faith was one of the first prominent Republicans to endorse Donald Trump in 2016, many months before that seemed sane to me. I know because she asked me to help with an early draft of her essay. It proved prophetic. She said that Mr. Trump had many of the same political virtues as Ronald Reagan. That he could rouse the GOP from its torpid, elitist coma. And she was right, as was her old friend Phyllis Schlafly, who passed in 2016 just after publishing The Conservative Case for Trump.

Faith Changed My Life

The picture, three weeks ago, made me smile. One reason? Without Faith I might never have written a single book, much less the 11 I've published. In a very real sense she rescued me, at a turning point in my life. I'd taken a pricey (to me!) apartment in Manhattan to be near a magazine job. The day after I moved in, our whole editorial staff got canned. That was so depressing that I never unpacked my boxes. From a step up in life the apartment had turned into an anchor around my neck. I scraped by, job-hunting and gradually falling apart. One day a mutual friend introduced me to Faith. A few weeks later she invited me into the office of the American Swiss Foundation to talk about a job.

"But you cannot wear purple socks to a job interview. It's just not done."

I put on my best clothes (from an Episcopalian thrift store!) and printed a resume at Kinkos. I looked across the desk at this still-lovely, brilliant woman who might be my only hope. (The alternative, moving back to sleep on my dad's couch at age 34, was too grim to contemplate.) She looked me up and down. And here's what she said:

"Now John, I'm old enough to be your mother. And so I hope you'll take this in the right spirit...."

"Okay," I said.

"But you cannot wear purple socks to a job interview. It's just not done."

I muttered, "They're ... maroon."

She smiled, warmly. "Black. Or midnight blue. Those are the only colors for socks." She scanned my resume, nodding, then returned to the main theme of the interview. "May I ask ... do you smoke? Or drink a lot of coffee?"

I shook my head, really puzzled.

"Really? Because I just must ask you what happened to your teeth?"

I shrugged. "I'm missing enamel on some of the front ones. So they look like they're always stained."

She nodded sympathetically. "Of course. I understand. . I had similar problems once.... But it doesn't look professional." She reached into her drawer. "Here's the card for my cosmetic dentist. I want you to go get those taken care of as soon as possible. I will give you freelance work for the Foundation editing books. You're certainly qualified. You can use that to fix your teeth."

And the interview was over. In subsequent months, I edited several books for the Foundation. It was fascinating work, and it did help pay the rent and go toward my teeth. Best of all, it helped me get to know Faith as a person. She lit up the room wherever she went with energy and intelligence. But even more with warm concern for whoever might feel awkward, sit silent or unincluded. She always made an effort to reach out to the least in any gathering.

A Patron, Friend, and Wise Counselor

And on a more concrete level, Faith gave me a grant to write my first book, on the anti-Nazi hero and free market economist Wilhelm Ropke. The book was well-received, and it led to a job with its publisher Intercollegiate Studies Institute. That led to my next job teaching, and so on .... But without Faith's crucial help I might never have found my career. I will always be grateful for that.

Even more, I'm thankful to God for a loving, maternal friend (my mother passed of cancer in 1996). Whenever I had a problem, she was eager to hear about it. She was ready with wise advice and sober warnings. ("John, when you're around the Swiss, don't talk about the substance of politics. Any politics. They will think you are an extremist.") In return, I offered writing and editing help whenever she needed it. And I could always make her laugh.

A God-Daughter, Too

With Faith in Zurich in 2000, as she worries what I will say next.

When she decided to become a Catholic, she asked me to be her godfather. That was in recognition of the books by Cardinal Ratzinger I'd kept pressing on her, I guess. I piled in with her, her godmother Alexandra Preate (also half her age) and another friend for a taxi to Staten Island. That was the closest "sound, conservative priest" whom she approved of. I sat up front with the driver, who seemed to be from a country that hadn't developed the wheel, much less motorized vehicles. While Faith and her two friends talked on the phone--trying to help some pro-life candidate win in Pennsylvania--I tried to navigate. The driver took us into oncoming traffic, onto the sidewalk, and I swore that he was going to drive us all off the Verranzano Bridge. I clutched the dashboard, terrified, for forty minutes. But Faith stayed calm. She knew she was going home.

And now she is home. Faith died on Monday at age 79, of a suddenly resurgent liver cancer she'd battled quietly for many years. I thank God that I was able to go see her last week. To meet the crowd of people who flew in from all across the country, and some from Switzerland, to thank her for her kindnesses. To make her laugh one last time, with that story about the socks.

The Pains of Childbirth

What I'll never forget, though… the half hour or so I spent alone with her. Drifting in and out of consciousness from the pain meds, she groaned deeply and tossed around. I was sorry to see her suffering, of course. But more than anything else I thought: "This is like someone giving birth." And indeed it was. As “the whole creation groans with the pains of childbirth” (Rom. 8: 22-24), her failing mortal coil seemed to be birthing her into the next life, where suffering finally ceases and kind, just souls like Faith hear from their master the only words that finally matter: "Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."  (Matt. 25: 34)

As one of countless people who were blessed by her wisdom and goodness, I give thanks for the gift of Faith. But I will miss her. She leaves a great hole in my world.

Trump: No Immigration Deal Unless ‘Real Wall,’ Good Security

7 hours 28 min ago

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Donald Trump says he opposes any immigration legislation that doesn’t include “a real wall” along the Mexican border and “very strong border security.”

Moderate House Republicans are pushing a deal that could lead to citizenship for young “Dreamer” immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally.

But Trump tells Fox & Friends that unless any bill “includes a wall, and I mean a wall, a real wall, and unless it includes very strong border security, there’ll be no approvals from me.”

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Trump’s also taking issue with the immigration court system, saying other countries have “security people” who “stand there and say you can’t come in” rather than judges who decide immigration claims.

“Whoever heard of a system where you put people through trials? … We’re going to change the system.”

___

This story has been corrected to reflect that Trump said “includes a wall” and “includes very strong border security” rather than “improves a wall” and “improves very strong border security,’ as the show’s transcript said.

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

Google to Announce New Initiative Assisting Homeschoolers With Educational Services

7 hours 33 min ago

Google is set to announce a new initiative Thursday in which its slate of services and products -- known as G Suite, specifically G Suite Education -- will be available for homeschools and their leaders for the first time ever.

The software tools are valuable for fostering collaboration, productivity, and creativity in a system of education that is often overlooked, according to the tech company and groups representing the home-schooled.

"One parent at a homeschool co-op [Partnership Homeschool Educational Association of Minnesota] described it as a 'life-saver,’" Jennifer Holland, senior program manager in the Google for Education division, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. "It can improve the quality of writing by tracking how things change over time. Also, before, parents and students would have to turn in assignments by email and in person, making it hard to keep track of everything. Google classroom provided them that glue."

Many Google enthusiasts, or general users of the internet due to the tech giant's ubiquitousness, are well aware of the free proprietary applications like Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Drive, Sites, Hangouts, and Classroom.

More aptly, organizations and businesses are able to sign up for an administrator account in which they can manage those Google services for members or employees. But Google only granted such capabilities to formal education institutions initially, doing so by identifying those recognized with a ".edu" domain. The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), a nonprofit homeschool advocacy group, reached out to Google to ask if those those that it represents could be provided with such a technological capacity.

"HSLDA advocates for home-schooling because we've seen that the freedom, flexibility, and one-on-one elements of this educational option work," Darren Jones, staff attorney for the HSLDA and the author of the soon-to-be-published Google blog post, told TheDCNF. "Like any teacher, homeschool co-op teachers find that ongoing interaction with students helps the children learn. Today, a lot of that interaction can occur electronically, and Google's G Suite for Education aids that learning process."

When asked if he and his organization were initially irritated that Google did not include homeschools in the first place, Jones said it's not surprising or really the company's fault because "no state accredits homeschools or homeschool co-ops."

"So since Google was making its educational collaboration software available only to accredited schools, homeschool co-ops were not eligible," he continued. "HSLDA strongly opposes discrimination against homeschool students, so we were very happy that Google has agreed to open up the software to co-ops that can use it."

While they vary, co-ops are part of an arrangement in which anywhere from around 30 to nearly 100 (even sometimes up to 150) students from individual homes gather weekly, biweekly or monthly to partake in educational activities that require or are benefited from team efforts, or are more hands-on.

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As of 2012, there are 1,773,000 American children ages 5 to 17 that are home-schooled, according to data provided by the U.S. Department of Education, a 61.8 percent increase in 10 years. That means 3.4 percent of students with a grade equivalent of kindergarten through 12th grade are educated outside the public and traditionally private school systems. The home-schooling movement to some observers is now more than just its more prominent manifestation in the 1980s, which seemed to be spearheaded by evangelical Christians. Now, the demographics for those taught outside normal schools are more diverse. In fact, "race, gender, urban residence and family composition make no difference" when accounting for the characteristics behind those who choose such a path, according to a study conducted by sociologists Nihan Kayaardi and Philip Q. Yang. Also, there are "no significant differences" between home-schoolers and the general U.S. population, meaning pre-conceived notions may no longer apply.

"A lot of homeschooler parents see the benefit of banding together," Zach Yeskel, Google for Education's group product manager, told TheDCNF. "There are also a lot of activities at home, so when they separate, they can distribute the assignments through the internet."

Google says that Classroom is particularly beneficial because it is designed to make "it easy for learners and instructors to connect -- inside and outside of schools" while also saving "time and paper." Specifically, it allows teachers to send announcements and other communications through the web and assign paperless assignments for students at multiple locations.

"As homeschooling has grown, families still get together to learn," Jones writes in a incoming blog post for Google. "In my work ... I advise these groups every day, and I can see how new, advancing technology could benefit students. Through technology, homeschool co-op teachers can set and change assignments on the fly, students can work together even if geographically separated, and everyone has a common format for collaboration."

"I think that Google is a good example of how companies can change with the times by recognizing that excellent education occurs in places other than traditional schools," Jones said.

Nevertheless, there will always be privacy concerns when it comes to Google and its programs -- particularly when it comes to data dealing with children, and especially at a time when recent events and revelations have piqued the public's profound concerns of personal information acquired by tech companies and subsequently given to third-parties.

But HSLDA, a group that has been called a powerful lobbying group and is in general the target of criticism by some, doesn't seem too worried, or at least sees the outweighing benefits of using Google's respective services.

Jones addressed accusations against his group -- that in some specific cases people use homeschool as a veil to cover up egregious acts.

"While there has been some media scrutiny lately regarding unusual cases in which parents fraudulently use home-schooling as a screen to hide behind in abusing their children, HSLDA stands firmly against child abuse and neglect," said Jones. "We see it as a rejection of everything that we stand for -- the right of parents to lovingly choose an education that fits their individual children. We believe that both child abuse and criminal laws should be enforced to the fullest."

Jones added that regulation of homeschooling doesn't have a measurable effect on child abuse or neglect, and would likely have unintended consequences.

HSLDA isn't the only group working with Google, which says its also been collaborating with the National Black Home Educators.

The announcement comes Thursday morning in Florida at the country's largest homeschool convention. G-Suite for Education is expected be available sometime in early to mid-June.

 

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North Korea Demolishes Nuke Test Site With Series of Blasts

7 hours 50 min ago

PUNGGYE-RI, North Korea (AP) -- North Korea carried out what it said is the demolition of its nuclear test site Thursday, setting off a series of explosions over several hours in the presence of foreign journalists.

The explosions at the nuclear test site deep in the mountains of the North’s sparsely populated northeast were centered on three tunnels at the underground site and a number of buildings in the surrounding area.

The planned closing was previously announced by leader Kim Jong Un ahead of his planned summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, which is scheduled to take place next month.

The demolition came as the North lobbed another verbal salvo at Washington, calling Vice President Mike Pence a “political dummy” and saying it is just as ready to meet in a nuclear confrontation as at the negotiating table.

The North’s decision to close the Punggye-ri nuclear test site has generally been seen as a welcome gesture by Kim to set a positive tone ahead of the summit. Even so, it is not an irreversible move and would need to be followed by many more significant measures to meet Trump’s demands for real denuclearization.

By bringing in a small group of television journalists and other members of the news media, the North is likely hoping to have dramatic images of the closing -- including explosions to collapse tunnel entrances -- broadcast around the world.

The group of journalists that witnessed the demolition included an Associated Press Television crew.

The North did not invite international nuclear weapons inspectors to the ceremony.

The first blast visiting journalists witnessed happened at around 11 a.m. local time. North Korean officials said it collapsed the north tunnel, which was used for five nuclear tests between 2009 and last year.

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Two other explosions at around 2:20 p.m. and 4 p.m. demolished the west and south tunnels, according to officials.

Thursday’s demolition also involved the destruction of observation posts and barracks used by guards and other workers at the facility.

Another tunnel on the eastern side of the facility was shut down after an initial nuclear test in 2006.

The journalists who were allowed to witness the demolition arrived in the morning and stayed at the site for around nine hours.

Getting to the remote site required an 11-hour overnight train journey from Wonsan, a port city east of the capital, Pyongyang.

The outburst at Pence, issued in the name of a top Foreign Ministry official, comes on the heels of another sharp rebuke of Trump’s newly appointed national security adviser, John Bolton, and has raised concerns that a major gap has opened between the two sides just weeks before the June 12 summit in Singapore.

In both cases, Pyongyang was trying to push back against hard-line comments suggesting North Korea may end up like Libya if it doesn’t move forward quickly and irreversibly with concrete measures to get rid of its nuclear weapons.

Choe Son Hui, a vice minister of foreign affairs, was quoted Thursday by the North’s state-run news agency slamming as “ignorant” and “stupid” comments Pence made in an interview with Fox News that compared the nuclear-capable North to Libya. Libya gave up its program at an early stage only to see its longtime dictator overthrown and brutally killed years later.

The summit plan has hit a number of speed bumps recently as both sides have begun trading barbs and taking tougher positions. Trump met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday at the White House for consultations and suggested the summit could be delayed or even called off entirely.

Even so, both sides still seem to want to hold the meeting, which would be unprecedented.

Success in talks would be a huge accomplishment for Trump. Meeting with the U.S. president as an equal on the world stage would be a major coup for Kim.

 

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

Military Photo of the Day: US Marines Train for War at Twentynine Palms

12 hours 48 min ago

U.S. Marines with Lima Company train for war at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, California, on May 10, 2018. 

Thanks to Cpl. Antonia E. Mercado for capturing this dramatic image.

 

 

 

 

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Over 100 Ohio Clergymen Demand End To ‘Federal Judiciary Tyranny’

19 hours 5 min ago

A group of 106 clergymen sent an open letter to Ohio legislators, urging them to stop "judicial prejudice directed against citizens of faith" and judiciary overreach.

The group, which the Richland Community Prayer Network organized, sent the May 20 letter to coincide with the Christian commemoration of the Day of Pentecost. It is unconstitutional for non-elected federal judges to strike down state laws, especially with regard to religious liberty, the clergymen argued in the letter and objected to federal court rulings being interpreted as the "law of the land." They cited as an example Federal Court Judge Timothy Black's March ruling in which he struck down an Ohio law that outlawed aborting based solely for having Down syndrome, according to a press release sent to The Daily Caller News Foundation.

"Why have a Legislature when one elected judge can strike down any law that does not fit his political agenda? Unaccountable judges in the Federal court system have suppressed the voices of freedom in our nation -- starting with people of religious conviction. Judicial supremacy has ultimately created a culture of dictatorship," said Rev. J.C. Church, Leading Pastor of Victory in Truth Ministries and a Director with the Family Research Council, in the press release.

 Five of the clergymen also held a press conference on May 18 during which they read the letter and decried what they called "Down syndrome genocide." Fusion Community Church's Reverend Aaron Rose attended the press conference with his 10-year-old son, Kaleb, who was diagnosed from birth with Down syndrome.

"Today, I stand not just for my son but for the voiceless who may never be given a chance to breathe air. Our quality of life as a family has increased ten-fold because of our son. I would not change one thing about my son, Kaleb," Rose said during the press conference.

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Black had a conflict of interest in the case and should have recused himself in light of the fact he once worked as a Planned Parenthood director, the pastors also alleged. That case, they claimed, is only one of many in which federal judges struck down laws according to alleged personal agendas. The group cited Supreme Court rulings against faculty-led Bible readings in public schools and against requiring displays of the Ten Commandments in public schools as examples of such overreach. 

"Absent of any constitutionality, these 600 unelected bureaucrats are silencing voters by establishing their own court opinions as law of the land, and micromanaging public policy against the will of the governed," the letter reads.

Such cases show the federal government has allowed the judiciary to become a "Federal Court Tyranny" and urged lawmakers to put a stop to it, the clergymen claimed.

Rev. J.C. Church could not be reached for comment by the time of publication. 

Follow Joshua on Twitter   Send tips to joshua@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.   Copyright 2018 The 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.

Judge: President Can’t Block Critics on Twitter

19 hours 29 min ago

NEW YORK (AP) -- A federal judge ruled Wednesday that President Donald Trump is violating the First Amendment when he blocks critics on Twitter because of their political views.

U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald in Manhattan stopped short in her written decision of ordering Trump or a subordinate to stop the practice of blocking critics from viewing his Twitter account, saying it was enough to point out that it was unconstitutional.

“A declaratory judgment should be sufficient, as no government official -- including the President -- is above the law, and all government officials are presumed to follow the law as has been declared,” Buchwald wrote.

The judge did not issue an order against Trump, and the plaintiffs did not ask for one. But in cases like this, plaintiffs can, in theory, go back and ask for such an order, and if it is not obeyed, the violator can be held in contempt.

Buchwald said she rejected the assertion that an injunction can never be lodged against the president but “nonetheless conclude that it is unnecessary to enter that legal thicket at this time.”

The case was brought last July by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University and seven individuals blocked by Trump after criticizing the Republican president.

Kerri Kupec, a spokeswoman for the Department of Justice, said in an email: “We respectfully disagree with the court’s decision and are considering our next steps.”

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Jameel Jaffer, the Knight Institute’s executive director, said in a release that his organization was pleased.

“The president’s practice of blocking critics on Twitter is pernicious and unconstitutional, and we hope this ruling will bring it to an end,” he said.

Comedian Dana Goldberg, who says she was blocked by the president but was not a plaintiff in the lawsuit, said she looks forward to getting access restored.

“As a comedian, I really feel like it’s my job right now to speak truth to power. I have a voice and a platform to use it, and I would rather challenge him on every false and misleading statement than stay silent. It will save me some time if I’m unblocked. I can just check his Twitter feed instead of Google his morning tirades,” she said.

The lawsuit was filed after Trump blocked some individuals from @realDonaldTrump, a 9-year-old Twitter account with over 50 million followers, after each of them tweeted a message critical of Trump or his policies in reply to a tweet he had sent.

Justice Department lawyers had argued it was Trump’s prerogative to block followers, no different from the president deciding in a room filled with people not to listen to some.

Buchwald ruled that the tweets were “governmental in nature.”

“The President presents the @realDonaldTrump account as being a presidential account as opposed to a personal account and, more importantly, uses the account to take actions that can be taken only by the President as President,” the judge said.

The judge noted that another defendant, Daniel Scavino -- the White House’s social media director and an assistant to the president -- can unblock those followers without the president needing to do it himself. The judge dismissed Sarah Huckabee Sanders as a defendant in the case after it was established she does not have access to Trump’s account.

Buchwald also said she recognized the impact on the individuals by Trump’s action was not “of the highest magnitude.” She said the First Amendment protects people even from trivial harm.

After a hearing this year, the judge had suggested that Trump mute rather than block some of his critics. At the time, a Justice Department attorney agreed that muting would enable Trump to avoid a tweet he doesn’t want to read.

Twitter users can block people, which prevents them from seeing the user’s feed while logged in. Or they can mute the person, which keeps the user from seeing that person’s tweets and reply messages in their feed.

___

Associated Press Writer Barbara Ortutay contributed to this report.

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

Let’s Drag EPA Regulatory Science Out of Darkness, Into Light

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 21:30

For decades the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has created regulations without sound scientific basis. The regulations cost Americans hundreds of billions of dollars every year. Yet there is no solid evidence the costs are justified.

It's done this in two ways. First, sometimes it's thrown out scientific results and regulated to satisfy a political pressure group.

EPA's banning of DDT is an example. Its own scientific findings showed that DDT was effective, affordable and safe. Its use reduced insects that carried malaria and other diseases. But pressured by environmentalists, EPA banned DDT in 1972.

The U.S. had eliminated malaria with DDT. So the ban did little immediate harm here. But recently it has made it difficult to combat other insect-borne diseases like West Nile Virus, Zika, Lyme and spotted fever. And even malaria is making a comeback.

Developing countries have suffered more. EPA persuaded other federal agencies to withhold foreign aid from countries that used DDT. Most developing countries complied. (Their officials usually take a cut of foreign aid for themselves.) The results? Hundreds of millions of malaria cases every year, and tens of millions of deaths over 45 years.

Regulations Built on ‘Secret Science’

But tossing science aside isn't the only path to poor regulations. Sometimes EPA has built new regulations on "secret science."

"Secret science" refers to studies whose authors refuse access to data, computer code and methodology. Such studies cannot be tested by replication -- the acid test of science.

The STRS is "badly needed to assure American taxpayers that the EPA is truly acting in their best interests."

In John 3:19, Jesus observed, "people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil." We should be wary of claims to secrecy. Some are justified. Many only serve to hide iniquity. Particularly in science, which thrives on transparency, secrecy should have no place.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt wants to end "secret science" in his agency. Last month he proposed a new rule, "Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science" (STRS). It would go far toward solving the problem.

STRS provides that "When promulgating significant regulatory actions, the Agency shall ensure that dose response data and models underlying pivotal regulatory science are publicly available in a manner sufficient for independent validation."

It codifies what was intended in the Secret Science Reform Act of 2015 and the Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment Act of 2017 (HONEST Act). Both passed the House but never came up for vote in the Senate.

But We Have Peer Review, and What About Privacy Concerns?

The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, which I lead, is gathering signatures to an open letter supporting the STRS. The letter says the proposed rule is "badly needed to assure American taxpayers that the EPA is truly acting in their best interests."

But opponents of STRS raise three common objections.

First, they say EPA can depend on studies in refereed journals. Why? Because peer review ensures their quality.

But no empirical evidence proves that peer review works well. In fact, the evidence proves it doesn't. As John P.A. Ioannidis demonstrated in a celebrated article in PLOS/Medicine, "most scientific research findings are false."

You doubt that? The intellectual father of the international congresses of peer review believes it. Drummond Rennie, deputy editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association, said, "If peer review was a drug it would never be allowed on the market."

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Second, opponents say the rule would bar EPA from using studies involving confidential information. In a letter to Pruitt, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) argued, "requiring the release of all data ... could ... compromise ... intellectual property, proprietary, and privacy concerns."

Yet Section 30.5 states: "Where the Agency is making data or models publicly available, it shall do so in a fashion that is consistent with law, protects privacy, confidentiality, confidential business information, and is sensitive to national and homeland security."

What About Things That Shouldn’t Be Replicated?

Third, opponents say the rule would exclude studies that either can't or shouldn't be replicated. "[M]any public health studies cannot be replicated ..." said the UCS. Why? Because "doing so would require ... exposing people and the environment to harmful contaminants or recreating one-time events (such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill)."

But what need to be replicable in studies of such events are not the events themselves. It's the procedures used to collect data and make inferences from them.

For example, one study inferred from tree rings that rapid and unique global warming had begun in the late 1800s. It seemed to show that global temperature had been pretty constant before then. According to it, neither the Medieval Warm Period (about 950-1250) nor the Little Ice Age (about 1350-1850) had occurred. That implied that recent warming was unprecedented, manmade and potentially dangerous.

The study and its "hockey stick" graph of global temperature became iconic.

The truth is, those who oppose transparency are weaponizing confidentiality to facilitate their own political interference in science-based decision making.

It eventually came out that the study was invalid. Yet for years the lead author refused to release raw data and computer code. So, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the public, and governments the world over believed it. They formulated policies based on it that would cost trillions of dollars.

Then the raw data and computer code were finally made available. Little by little it became clear that something was very, very wrong. The authors had excluded contrary data and misused a statistical procedure.

No one needed to use a time machine to return to the 11th through 20th centuries and regrow trees to show that. All anyone needed was access to the raw data and computer code used to analyze it.

We Need More Transparency

The UCS asserted that concerns about transparency "are phony issues that weaponize 'transparency' to facilitate political interference in" regulating. But there is a real crisis of irreproducibility in science. High percentages of scientific studies cannot be replicated. When their failure goes unexposed, people and governments make bad decisions based on them.

Enhanced transparency works against politicization, not for it. The truth is, those who oppose transparency are weaponizing confidentiality to facilitate their own political interference in science-based decision making.

The Apostle Paul wrote, "Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible" (Ephesians 5:11-13).

Now's the time to restore integrity to EPA regulatory science by putting it, and keeping it, in broad daylight.

STRS should be adopted. It won't harm EPA's mission to protect Americans from real environmental risks. It will improve it. It will also reduce the risks caused by unjustified but costly regulations.

 

Calvin Beisner, Ph.D., is Founder and National Spokesman of The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation.

President Trump Announces New ‘Protect Life Rule,’ Directs Title X Funding Away From Abortion Clinics

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 20:54

President Donald Trump announced Tuesday night that he is implementing new rules on Title X funding, directing taxpayer dollars away from abortion clinics. The move had been rumored for several days but was officially announced at the Susan B. Anthony List Campaign for Life gala.

In his keynote speech, Trump said he kept his campaign promise to stand for life. He said taxpayers have been “wrongfully forced” to pay for abortions through Title X federal funding. “So today, we have kept another promise. My administration has proposed a new rule to prohibit Title X funding from going to any clinic that performs abortions.”

Trump added, “We’re also seeking passage of the 20-week abortion bill, which would end painful late-term abortions nationwide.” The House just passed the bill, but Democrats in the Senate are trying to block it. 

Title X Family Planning Program

The Title X Family Planning Program provides funding for family planning. It also provides funding for related health services for low-income or uninsured people.

The new “Protect Life Rule” will redirect Title X family planning funding. Instead of funding abortion clinics, the money will go to women’s health centers that protect the life of the unborn. To qualify for Title X funding, a clinic must not perform or refer patients for abortions.

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Planned Parenthood annually receives between $50 and $60 million in Title X funding. It performs over 300,000 abortions per year. Under the Protect Life Rule, Planned Parenthood and other clinics that perform abortions will not qualify for Title X dollars.

“Americans don’t want their hard-earned tax dollars paying for abortions, a fact polling consistently confirms,” said Ashley McGuire, Senior Fellow with The Catholic Association (TCA). 

Another Pro-Life Promise Kept

Jeanne Mancini, President of March for Life, said in a statement that Title X money will now go to clinics that realize that abortion is not healthcare. “The pro-life grassroots will be pleased to see President Trump deliver on yet another pro-life promise, and we look forward to continued progress in restoring a culture of life here in the United States."

“We celebrate all lives,” concluded the president. “Every life is sacred and … every child is a precious gift from God. … When we look into the eyes of a newborn child there is no doubt we see the beauty of the human soul and the mystery of God's great creation. We know that every life has meaning and that every life is totally worth protecting.”

Watch President Trump’s full speech:

 

Pompeo: Fate of US-NKorea Summit Rests With Kim Jong Un

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 19:57

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday he’s “very hopeful” that a planned U.S.-North Korean summit will proceed but laid the fate of the historic meeting squarely with Kim Jong Un, who won’t be reassured by U.S. demands for “rapid denuclearization.”

The decision about whether the June 12 meeting in Singapore between Kim and President Donald Trump happens is “ultimately up to Chairman Kim,” Pompeo told the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Lawmakers’ questioning of Pompeo followed Trump’s comment Tuesday that “there’s a very substantial chance” the meeting would not proceed as scheduled.

Trump told reporters Wednesday, “whatever it is, we will know next week about Singapore and if we go I think it will be a great thing for North Korea.”

Amid the uncertainty, a White House team is headed to Singapore this weekend to work on logistics for the trip. White House spokesman Raj Shah said the effort would be led by Joe Hagin, deputy chief of staff for operations. Shah noted that an advance team goes out ahead of all scheduled presidential teams.

If it goes ahead, it will be first meeting between a U.S. and a North Korean leader during more than six decades of hostility, and it would come just months after the North’s rapid progress toward attaining a nuclear-tipped missile that could strike America fueled fears of war. But the North unexpectedly pulled out of planned peace talks with South Korea last week, objecting to U.S.-South Korean military exercises, and also threatened to abandon the planned Trump-Kim meeting, accusing the U.S. of a “one-sided demand” that it give up its nuclear weapons.

North Korea took particular offense at comments by Trump’s hawkish national security adviser John Bolton that the U.S. was looking to the example of Libya, which relinquished its nuclear program in the early 2000s in exchange for sanctions relief. Libya’s longtime autocratic leader Moammar Gadhafi was killed several years later after a Western-backed military intervention.

Pompeo steered away from that comparison, but said the U.S. wants “rapid denuclearization, total and complete, that won’t be extended over time.” He said Bolton’s comments were alluding to the failure of past disarmament deals with North Korea “where in exchange for act x the United States sends a check across the transom,” Pompeo said. “It is indeed not our model.”

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North Korea, which views its nukes as a guarantee that its authoritarian regime won’t go the same way as those in Libya and Iraq, has said it wants a “phased and synchronous” approach to denuclearization, which neighboring China supports.

Trump hedged on the issue Tuesday. When asked if there could be an incremental approach, providing incentives along the way to the North, he said, “I don’t think I want to totally commit myself. But all in one would be a lot better.”

To date, North Korea has taken few concrete steps beyond halting the nuclear and missile tests that ratcheted up tensions last year. On Wednesday it was escorting a group of international reporters, including an Associated Press Television crew, to witness the closure of its atomic test site. While that could set a positive tone ahead of the summit, it is not an irreversible move and would need to be followed by many more significant measures to meet Trump’s demands for real denuclearization.

Pompeo said that “if we can get America’s interests safe and secure we are prepared to do a great deal,” including security assurances for Kim. Pompeo said denuclearization would cover nuclear weapons, missiles, engines and systems related to space launch rockets, production of fissile material and associated technology and research.

The former CIA director, who has met twice with Kim since the start of April, told the committee that it’s his hope that when Trump and Kim confer “we can get the North Koreans to make this strategic shift about how best to serve the country -- that the nuclear weapons program isn’t in fact the thing that keeps the regime in power, but the thing that prevents the regime from being in a place it wants to be with economic success.”

Pompeo also touched on an issue that was once central to the administration’s campaign of “maximum pressure” on North Korea, but has been rarely mentioned by U.S. officials since Trump agreed to the summit: human rights.

He said he had raised it with Kim “and it will be part of the discussions as we move forward.” Asked by lawmakers whether he had a commitment from Kim to make it part of a deal, Pompeo said, “We have broad outlines of what it is that each nation is prepared to do.”

The summit would offer a historic chance for peace between adversaries technically at war since the Korean War ended in 1953 without a peace treaty. But there is also the risk of a diplomatic failure that would allow the North to revive and advance its weapons program.

Pompeo was due to meet later Wednesday with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Trump has expressed suspicion that the North’s recent barbs against the U.S. were influenced by Kim’s unannounced trip to China two weeks ago -- his second in as many months. Trump said Tuesday he’d noticed “a little change” in Kim’s attitude after the trip.

The president said he hoped Chinese President Xi Jinping was actually committed to the goal of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, calling him a “world-class poker player.” Trump said he was displeased by China’s softening of border enforcement measures against North Korea.

___

AP writer Catherine Lucey contributed to this report.

 

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

Score! NFL Owners Adopt New Policy: Players on the Field Must Stand for Anthem

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 19:21

ATLANTA (AP) -- NFL owners approved a new policy Wednesday aimed at addressing the firestorm over national anthem protests sparked by Colin Kaepernick and amplified by President Trump, permitting players to stay in the locker room during the “The Star-Spangled Banner” but requiring them to stand if they come to the field.

Commissioner Roger Goodell said the change was approved unanimously by the owners at their spring meeting in Atlanta, but it was met with immediate skepticism by the players’ union.

“We want people to be respectful of the national anthem. We want people to stand,” Goodell said. “That’s all personnel, and to make sure they treat this moment in a respectful fashion. That’s something that we think we owe. We’ve been very sensitive on making sure that we give players choices, but we do believe that moment is an important moment and one that we are going to focus on.”

In a sign that players were not part of the discussions, any violations of the policy would result in fines against the team -- not the players.

The NFL Players Association said it will challenge any part of the new policy that violates the collective bargaining agreement.

The owners spent several hours addressing the contentious issue -- which has reached all the way to the White House.

Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016, protesting against police brutality and racial inequities in the justice system.

Other players took up the cause, and the gesture carried on during the 2017 season even after Kaepernick left the 49ers and failed to land a job with another team.

President Trump ignited further anthem protests when he said the NFL should fire any player who takes a knee during “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The NFL hasn’t gone that far, but Kaepernick has yet to land another job and one of his former teammates and fellow protesters, safety Eric Reid, is also out of work.

Both have filed collusion grievances against the NFL.

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While the owners touted the change as a compromise and noted it was approved unanimously, the players’ union made it clear that it was not part of the discussions.

“The NFL chose to not consult the union in the development of this new ‘policy,'” the NFLPA said in a statement. “NFL players have shown their patriotism through their social activism, their community service, in support of our military and law enforcement and yes, through their protests to raise awareness about the issues they care about.”

The statement added, “The vote by NFL club CEOs today contradicts the statements made to our player leadership by Commissioner Roger Goodell and the Chairman of the NFL’s Management Council John Mara (co-owner of the New York Giants) about the principles, values and patriotism of our League.”

The NFL was reportedly considering whether to assess a 15-yard penalty against any player who took a knee or conducted any other protest during the anthem.

Another possible option would have been to change up the pregame routine entirely, keeping teams in their respective locker rooms until after the anthem had played. That is the protocol long followed by college football, preventing anthem protests from being carried out on the field.

In the end, the owners sent a bit of a convoluted message -- appeasing those who feel the national anthem must be treated with reverence, while allowing some sort of conduit for players to protest as long as they stay out of the public eye.

“We’ve spent a lot of time, not just at this meeting, but really over the last year discussing the issue of the anthem and working with our players to make sure we could get to a place where all the different viewpoints could be respected,” said Art Rooney II, owner of the Pittburgh Steelers. “Obviously, we want to continue to work with our players and make sure they feel that their point of view has been respected. I think the fact that those who are not comfortable standing for the anthem have the right to stay off the field -- so we’re not forcing anybody to stand who doesn’t feel that way about particular subjects -- but those who are on the field are going to be asked to stand.”

Goodell said the league met with countless players over the last year to get their input on the anthem controversy.

“We think that we’ve come up with a balanced process, procedure and policy that will allow those players who feel they can’t stand for the anthem to stay in the locker room,” the commissioner said. “There’s no penalty for that, but we’re going to encourage all of them to be on field. We’d like for all of them to be on the field and stand at attention.”

Goodell was asked who would get to decide what actions would be considered disrespectful to the anthem or the U.S. flag.

“Well, I think the general public has a very strong view of what respect for the flag is in that moment,” he said. “We have language in our policy that talks about that, standing attention, hats off and focused. And I think the general arbiter will be the clubs and the league and we’ll work with our players to get their viewpoint also.”

___

Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963 . His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/paul%20newberry.

___

Associated Press Writer George Henry contributed to this report.

___

For more AP NFL coverage: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL.

 

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

Report: More Illegal Immigrants are Crossing Border With Fake Relatives to Avoid Detention

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 18:56

Cases of illegal immigrants crossing the southwest border with an unrelated child in tow have surged this year, the result of what the Trump administration says are perverse incentives for human trafficking created by U.S. immigration policies.

In the first five months of fiscal year 2018, the immigration officials recorded 191 cases of children having to be separated from adults because of fraudulent family claims, The Washington Times reported Tuesday, citing Department of Homeland Security (DHS) data.

At the current pace, the number of such cases is on track to exceed 400, a shocking 900 percent increase over last year's total. By comparison, there were only 46 cases of fraudulent family claims recorded for all of 2017, according to The Washington Times report.

The trend has sparked concern that certain immigration policies are encouraging migrants to cross the border with non-relative children to avoid detention if they are caught. The smuggling of minors across the southwest border is not a new phenomenon, but in fraudulent family cases, it is the illegal immigrants themselves who are using children for their own benefit, DHS officials say.

"We've had many cases where children have been trafficked by people who weren't their parents," Thomas Homan, the acting head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told lawmakers at a hearing on Tuesday.

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The rise in fraudulent family claims comes amid a related surge in illegal immigration by unaccompanied minors and people traveling in family units. The number of arrests along the southwest border, which is used as a proxy measure for illegal immigration, has been climbing steadily since falling to historic lows in the months immediately after President Donald Trump took office.

The number of illegal immigrants arrested at the southwest border or detained at ports of entry in April was more than 200 percent higher than in the same month in 2017. The year-over-year rise in unaccompanied minors and family units was much higher -- 800 and 680 percent, respectively, according to Homan.

The Trump administration blames "catch and release" policies -- a mix of court rulings and federal statutes -- for creating a pull factor for illegal immigration by families and children. One policy that has come under particular criticism from Trump officials is the so-called Flores consent decree, a Clinton-era judicial ruling that unaccompanied alien children must be released from federal custody into the "least restrictive setting" possible.

Subsequent judicial rulings made at the end of the Obama administration have further limited immigration officials' authority to detain the adults in family units, as well. Along with a federal law that requires special treatment for non-Mexican migrants, the Flores rulings have created a perverse incentive for illegal immigration, Homan told lawmakers Tuesday, noting that ICE expects apprehensions of people traveling in family units to increase in fiscal year 2018.

 

Follow Will on Twitter. Send tips to will@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

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A New Page? SWBTS Removes Patterson

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 16:38

Southern Baptist leader Paige Patterson has been removed as President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS). The move comes after a firestorm of controversy over past comments from Patterson. They also come in the wake of news within the last few days that in 2003 Patterson encouraged a woman not to report an alleged rape to police.

 A Challenged Leadership

Patterson assumed the Presidency of SWBTS in 2003. The seminary had been struggling for about 20 years. On August 12 of that year, he invited faculty and staff to "celebrate the end of the decline in student numbers" at the Texas seminary.

But it was not to be. Reports from the Association of Theological Schools show that enrollment declined further under Patterson's leadership. There were 2,072 fulltime equivalent students (FTE) in 2004-2005 but only 1,393 in 2017-2018. That's a 33% drop.

Granted, seminary education has been challenged nationwide. The once-popular Master of Divinity degree has lost favor. Just yesterday Fuller Seminary announced a decision to sell its property. Fuller will move to a location where it could lower its operating costs. But, Patterson's gaffes were likely not a plus. There were two public apologies in 2014 followed by another in 2017. This past December Patterson and Southwestern were named in a lawsuit. The claim is that Patterson knew about decades of sexual abuse yet failed to report the abuse.

But remarks Patterson made in 2000 about domestic abuse and in 2014 about the attractiveness of a 16-year-old girl were particularly controversial in recent days. 

Patterson's Controversial Remarks 

At a conference in 2000, Patterson explained his counsel to women experiencing domestic violence. His counsel was to never divorce, seek to elevate your husband, and leverage the opportunity to pray for and evangelize your husband. He did say that there has been "an occasion or two" when he's counseled temporary separation, but only in "severe" abuse situations.

What was troubling to many is that Patterson's counsel did not distinguish between sins and crimes. Beating your wife is criminal behavior. Patterson's 2000 illustration recounts a woman showing up at church with two black eyes. Patterson has also made clear, elsewhere, that Christians should not take their difficulties to secular authorities, which includes the police. They should only take it to their church leaders. If battered wives can't go to the police, and if their pastors -- influenced by Patterson -- don't deem the abuse sufficiently serious, that leaves women exposed to ongoing domestic violence.

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More recently, in 2014, at a conference sermon, Patterson made somewhat crude, objectifying remarks about a 16-year-old girl. As prominent Southern Baptist Ed Stetzer writes, "These comments have been described as chauvinistic at best and creepy at worst."

In the wake of the #MeToo and #ChurchToo movements, the resurfacing of Patterson's 2000 and 2014 comments led to thousands of Southern Baptist women signing a petition to remove Patterson from his Presidency. 

SWBTS's Response 

A SWBTS student, Nathan Montgomery, shared a tweet linking to an article suggesting that Patterson retire as President. Montgomery was then fired from his on-campus employment. He also lost his tuition-free arrangement with the seminary.

But in their statement today, SWBTS said "The board has not found evidence of misconduct in Nathan Montgomery's employment file."  The reporter who published this report is seeking clarification on this point. It's unclear as of yet whether Montgomery is being reinstated.

The Board also affirmed a motion. It stated that "evidence exists that Dr. Patterson has complied with reporting laws regarding assault and abuse." They don't say what that evidence is. It's also unclear to what this statement refers. Is it to the litigation on which Patterson and Southwestern were named? Or perhaps the more recent allegation that Patterson, in 2003, counseled a woman not to report a rape?

Patterson was a key leader within the conservative resurgence within the Southern Baptist Convention. SWBTS's Board of Trustees have appointed Patterson as President Emeritus. He will receive compensation. He has accepted this arrangement. Dr. and Mrs. Patterson will live on campus as the first theologians-in-residence. They'll reside at the Baptist Heritage Center, scheduled to be completed this July.

 

Dr. Alex Chediak (Ph.D., U.C. Berkeley) is a professor and the author of Thriving at College (Tyndale House, 2011), a roadmap for how students can best navigate the challenges of their college years. His latest book is Beating the College Debt Trap. Learn more about him at www.alexchediak.com or follow him on Twitter (@chediak).

Avengers: Infinity War Botches What Love Means

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 15:30

Avengers: Infinity War is one of the highest-grossing films of all-time. It's well done. It’s also very depressing. Warning: Massive Spoilers below.

In one scene, Thanos -- who kills gods and becomes among the most powerful beings in the universe -- is told he needs to sacrifice what he loves to get one of the Infinity Stones. His adopted daughter, Gamora, laughs and says that Thanos cannot get the stone because he does not love.

After a long silence, Thanos turns with tears in his eyes and says she is wrong. He throws her off a cliff to her death. At the end of the film, having killed half of the universe's population in a twisted effort to help the other half, he speaks to Gamora as a figment of his imagination. The child version of Gamora asks Thanos what accomplishing his goal cost. He says, "Everything."

After watching the film, my wife and I discussed Thanos' distortion of what "love" means. As I was halfway done writing this piece, my wife noted a more disturbing distortion. Thanos' sacrifice of Gamora to improve life for half of the universe's sentient beings is an inversion of God's sacrifice of Jesus to save humanity.

False Love

Sacrificing what you love to accomplish goals is a common theme in human storytelling. In the book series Star Wars: Legacy of the Force, Jacen Solo believes foregoing his family's love is necessary for him to become the galaxy's benevolent leader. (Lost on Jacen was that in burning a planet and committing murders, he was a bit less than benevolent.)

Even Superman, in an alternate universe, killed an innocent child whose powers were out of control. The child was putting millions of people in danger.

Like Thanos, Jacen and Superman commit evil acts to accomplish good ends. Each of these particular sacrifices is portrayed as being done out of love. And each one causes harm to the individual committing the evil -- Thanos grieves, Jacen feels abandoned, and Superman regrets what he sees as a gruesome necessity

But none of these acts are loving. Contrast them to Abraham's near-sacrifice of Isaac. This sacrifice came from love because Abraham knew God would take care of Isaac. Likewise, God selflessly gave Christ up for us -- our sins killed Jesus, not God.

Confusing False Love and Real Love

An insightful reaction to Gamora's death is this one. The author describes herself as having been raised by abusive parents. Gamora was raised likewise by Thanos:

Despite his narcissism, the whole genocide thing, and having all the personality of drywall, I still wanted Thanos to love Gamora. And the old me believed, for a second, that he did. Because being abused makes you believe that being loved at all is as good as being loved properly.

I know Thanos doesn't love Gamora, and she does too. He thinks he loves her, though, and that's why his scene with her in Voramir is so jarring. We already know this dude is evil. What we don't expect is for him to be evil in one of the most terrifying, familiar ways imaginable. Thanos feels he knows best, understands more than anyone, and loves his child. So did our abusive parents.

This piece is right on. Loving parents don't kill or beat their innocent children. They don't torture them, as Thanos did to his other daughter in Avengers. Instead, like God, they do all they can to save and protect their children, while also allowing them the necessary freedom to grow and develop as individuals.

And, like Jesus, they often die for them. Unlike Thanos, they never murder their children.

False Love Degrades and Harms

According to Jesus, "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." That's what He did for all of us. Thanos, Superman, Jacen -- they don't understand this. They may have some level of affection and care for those they sacrificed, but they don't love them.

Perhaps most unfortunate is that these fictional characters are represented in real life. How many people are told it's "loving" to endorse a child's or friend's same-sex attractions? It's "loving" to abort a child so it won't suffer a life of poverty, we are also told.

Society rightly condemns parents who abuse out of "love." Why do we endorse it in other areas of fiction and reality? Given that the writers and producers of Avengers: Infinity War awarded Thanos the Soul Stone for killing Gamora, do they actually believe he loves her?

Killing Versus Murder

Thanos says he has a moral duty to kill half the universe to stop overpopulation. He believes this will help the other half thrive since they will have more resources available to them. He uses Gamora's home planet as an example -- since half of the planet's population was slaughtered, the half that survived has flourished.

Thanos' sin wasn't killing half of the galaxy's citizens, or half of the residents of Gamora's home planet. Theoretically, almost any number of people could be killed if it was just. Self-defense is a human right for both individuals -- defending those around you -- and for governments -- defending the innocent via the death penalty or just war.

But some actions are morally wrong -- and for others, intentions matter. To quote the Catechism of the Catholic Church, "One may not do evil so that good may result from it." Thanos' admirable goal to end starvation and other sufferings of sentient beings is cancelled out by his murders -- killing the innocent with the guilty, like one of the indiscriminate gods of the Greek Pantheon. Contrast this with God, who separated the good from the guilty in Sodom and will do the same in the End Times.

Like God, Thanos believes he has the right to decide who lives and dies. Unlike God, he a) doesn't, and b) doesn't have the proper moral standard to guide such decisions. Again, these errors aren't limited to fiction. New York Times columnist and economist Paul Krugman once (allegedly jokingly) said that faking an alien invasion would solve some of America's economic growth problems. Supporters of the death penalty in First-World nations ignore that other, more moral methods of protecting society exist. America's slave owners separated the strong, healthy, and intelligent slaves from the rest -- much like advocates of abortion on the basis of fetal disability do now.

Perhaps most Thanos-like of all, population control advocates frequently promote one-child policies like China's to stop alleged overpopulation. One extreme advocate said in 2006 that 90 percent of the world's people should be killed through disease to sustain the planet.

Faking God

The Christ-like thematic elements of Avengers: Infinity War were a shocking revelation. My wife's insight is a valuable one upon which to reflect. How often do we as humans substitute our own judgment for that of God's, putting our souls and those of others at risk? How many people have died unjustly because leaders like Hitler and Stalin believe some people have the right to live, and others don't?

On an even more basic level, how often do we act as judge, jury, and executioner in our own minds? In rush-hour traffic, or during meetings with colleagues who are a touch less perfect than we prefer, or with our spouses on a bad day -- do we remember that God is King?

Again, intentions matter. Thanos killed half the universe's sentient population because he thought he is worthy of making such decisions. Our bad choices may not kill anyone's physical self, but we would be wise to keep Thanos' arrogance in mind when tempted to judge others.

Ebola Response on ‘Knife’s Edge’ as Timing Key, WHO Says

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 14:31

GENEVA (AP) -- The World Health Organization is accelerating its efforts with nine countries neighboring Congo to try to prevent the current Ebola outbreak from spreading beyond the border, WHO’s director for Africa said Wednesday, as a colleague warned that the next few weeks will determine whether the virus can be kept under control.

The top two priority countries are Central African Republic and the Republic of Congo near the epicenter of the outbreak, Matshidiso Moeti told a World Health Assembly session. In the Republic of Congo, for example, WHO is working with government officials “to stop functioning” an active market on its side of the Congo River.

The other countries are Angola, Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, Zambia and, to a lesser extent, Uganda. WHO and governments are working to roll out “pre-position” supplies that might be needed if the virus spreads, Moeti said.

Congo’s health ministry on Wednesday announced six new suspected cases in the rural Iboko health zone in the country’s northwest and two in Wangata, a suburb of Mbandaka, a city of 1.2 million people on the Congo River. There are now 28 confirmed Ebola cases, 21 probable ones and nine suspected.

Overall, since the outbreak of the often deadly hemorrhagic fever was confirmed by the ministry on May 8, the death toll stands at 27, with three deaths confirmed as Ebola.

“We’re on the epidemiological knife’s edge of this response. The next few weeks will really tell if this outbreak is going to expand to urban areas or if we’re going to be able to keep it under control,” Dr. Peter Salama, the WHO emergencies chief, told the WHA session.

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Factors that have created concerns that the outbreak has the potential to expand include the spread of confirmed cases to Mbandaka city and the fact that five health workers have been infected, signaling “a potential for further amplification.”

Front-line workers are especially at risk of contracting the virus, which spreads in contact with the bodily fluids of infected people, including the dead.

Finally, Salama said, the outbreak has “three or four separate epicenters,” making it more challenging to contain.

“It’s really the detective work of epidemiology that will make or break the response to this outbreak. It’s documenting how people are getting infected and therefore managing to control the transmission,” Salama said.

“We are following three separate chains of transmission,” he said. “One associated with a funeral that took place in a neighboring town of Bikoro; one associated with a visit to a health care facility more than 80 kilometers (50 miles) away in the small village of Iboko and one where we’re still gathering data on that’s related to a church ceremony.”

Each has the potential to expand if not controlled, Salama said.

WHO began vaccinations this week and is using a “ring vaccination” approach, targeting the contacts of people infected or suspected of infection and then the contacts of those people.

There is no specific treatment for Ebola. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain and at times internal and external bleeding. The virus can be fatal in up to 90 percent of cases, depending on the strain.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said simply: “We are watching it around the clock, 24-7.”

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Associated Press reporter Saleh Mwanamilongo in Kinshasa, Congo contributed.

 

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

A Royal Wedding and the Power of Love

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 14:19

I had avoided it as best I could. The sixth in line to the British throne marrying a B-list actress known for once holding case 11 on Deal or No Deal held little appeal for me. But my regular journey across the ideological spectrum to check the news of the day had made clear that on this day there was no other news to be found -- at least, not without blister-inducing scrolling. Amid my descent from the royal towards the relevant, I was forced upon "Showstopping speech: Bishop gives passionate address about the power of love." Oh dear, if CNN likes it, then I probably won't. "Just how bad was it?" I thought, succumbing to the click-bait.

‘This Could be Really Bad’

Seeing that the preacher was Michael Curry, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, my low expectations tumbled still further. A decade prior, my congregation had been through a bruising and costly struggle with that denomination after our exit for a more orthodox form of Anglicanism. I expected that the new Presiding Bishop likely shared his predecessor's high view of gay "marriage" and low view of the Cross and the Resurrection. "This could be really bad," I sighed to myself. It wasn't.  

At first, Curry seemed poised to veer into romanticism: "Think of a time when you first fell in love. The whole world seemed to center around you and your beloved." But there were no saccharine odes to Meghan and Harry, just a passing reference to a "young couple" that the famous audience had "showed up" to see.

The Real Focus

Instead, the central figure in Curry's sermon was Jesus of Nazareth. A Jesus responsible for "the most revolutionary movement in human history." A Jesus who, as Curry quoted from an old slave spiritual, is the balm of Gilead "who died to save us all." Lest the point be missed, Curry emphasized the sacrificial and healing nature of Jesus's love: "They got it. He died to save us all. He didn't die for anything he could get out of it."

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True, nothing was said of just why Jesus might need to die. (Save us all from what?) Sin and repentance were not major themes for Curry. That seems largely understandable. A wedding homily is not really the place for hellfire and brimstone. More could have been said, and one might rightly wonder if Curry would have said it correctly. Still, what was said was said well and most of it was well worth saying. Plus, bad things that could have been said were not.

‘The Way of Life’

A bit earlier in his energetic delivery, Curry had quoted from John's first epistle: "Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God and those who love are born of God and know God. Those who do not love do not know God. Why? Because God is love." I then assumed that the bishop was about to seat us all for a trip on the liberal love-train: God is love, so whoever and however you love is godly. To his credit, though, Curry's turned the focus to Jesus and "his way of love" that is "the way of life."

The Leftist Media

Other outlets also gushed over the sermon. The BBC quoted a pundit who deemed Curry the "unexpected star" of the event. A prominent politician said the bishop's words "could almost make me a believer." Along the way, the BBC was quick to note that Curry was also a proponent of LGBT rights. That rejection of biblical marriage was a major reason for many parishes like mine ultimately rejecting the Episcopal Church. But what for a Bible-believing church is a detriment, is for much of the modern world a draw. If the talker is also on board with gay marriage, then this is the sort of "love" talk the media can get behind.

The left wants to see a "love" of autonomy and liberation, not a love that limits. But marriage is, counterintuitively, a testimony to the liberating power of limits.

The left wants to see a "love" of autonomy and liberation, not a love that limits. But marriage is, counterintuitively, a testimony to the liberating power of limits. This is a forsaking of all others in order to form a "life-long covenant between a man and a woman" as the wedding's program rightly proclaimed. Meghan Markle was glowing, not growling, as she was bound in marriage.

As the BBC noted, Curry himself has not always respected the true boundaries of the marriage institution. His sermon on Saturday, however, did implicitly provide a reply to those who, like himself, call for the end to sexual complimentarity as a basis for matrimony.

The Power of Love and Fire

Curry closed by humorously analogizing the power of love to the power of fire. "I know that the Bible says, and I believe it, that Jesus walked on water. But I have to tell you that I didn't walk across the Atlantic Ocean to get here. Controlled fire in that plane got me here." Building off a quote from the controversial Jesuit thinker Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Curry concluded, "If humanity ever captures the energy of love, it will be the second time in history that we have discovered fire."

For love to do its work well, it must, like the jet fuel that propelled Curry across the waters, be contained and channeled into the appropriate engines. Physical love liberated from its proper bounds results in a fiery catastrophe, not life-enhancing power. As Curry noted, Jesus said that all the law and the prophets hang on the Old Testament commandments to love God with all our being and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Truly believing that the part of the law limiting sexual passion to one man and one woman actually hangs on love is a challenge for today's world. Making that truth winsomely clear is the challenge for today's church. 

The sexual revolution has hijacked the plane and put the concept of love into a smoky freefall. The marriage of one celebrity from a dysfunctional family to another may seem an odd source of hope, but there could be far worse things for millions of people to witness. Those inside and outside of St. George's Chapel watched as vows of lasting fidelity were proclaimed and heard a surprisingly orthodox sermon from an often unorthodox source. Love is a powerful thing, indeed.

 

John Murdock teaches at the Handong International Law School.     

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