Feb. 18, 2016
President Obama said Thursday that he will travel to Cuba next month in a history-making reset 55 years after the U.S. broke diplomatic ties with the Communist island nation amid the angst of the Cold War.
The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly declined last week to a three-month low, signaling durability in the labor market. Initial jobless claims dropped by 7,000 to 262,000 in the week ended Feb. 13.
Hungary’s central bank, already facing criticism for a spending spree ranging from real estate to fine art, is now beefing up its security force, citing Europe’s migrant crisis and potential bomb threats among the reasons. The National Bank of Hungary bought 200,000 rounds of live ammunition and 112 handguns for its security company, according to documents posted on a website for public procurements.
Lockheed Martin. has offered to build its flagship F-16 fighter jet in India, as the South Asian nation scrambles to modernize its aging defense fleet while trying to establish the country as a manufacturing base.
Mutual funds are vulnerable to runs that can spill over and cause problems in the broader financial system, according to a blog post published today on Liberty Street Economics by staffers at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Walt Disney Co.’s ABC named Channing Dungey president of entertainment, the first black leader of a major broadcast network. She succeeds Paul Lee, who stepped down amid steep viewer losses this season.
AP Top Stories
A federal grand jury in Nevada indicted Cliven Bundy and four others Wednesday on 16 charges related to an armed standoff near his ranch in 2014 over unpaid grazing fees.
Shocking footage from Santa Teresita beach in Buenos Aires, Argentina, shows a rare baby dolphin died on the beach after selfish tourists pulled it from the ocean so they could take selfies with it.
NJ – A man pleaded guilty on Wednesday to killing his mother two days after he completed a 30-year prison sentence for killing a neighbor.
At least 500 rebels on Wednesday crossed the Turkish border heading for the Syrian town of Azaz in northern Aleppo province, a monitor said, where opposition forces have suffered setbacks at the hands of Kurdish forces.
A Syrian rebel faction calls for a ‘general mobilization’ in Aleppo to repel an attack by the Syrian regime backed by Russian jets. On Tuesday, a dozen civilians are trained to integrate with the rebel factions.
Earlier this month, China quietly deployed some of its most advanced surface-to-air missiles to a disputed island in the South China Sea, further stoking tensions between Beijing and the governments of Vietnam and Taiwan, which also have laid claim to the Paracel Island chain. The multiple HQ-9 missile batteries placed on Woody Island have a range of about 125 miles, and operate like an American Patriot missile battery, which can be used to destroy aircraft, or knock cruise and ballistic missiles out of the sky.
Israeli archaeologists said Wednesday they have unearthed a 7,000-year-old settlement in northern Jerusalem, describing it as the oldest discovery of its kind in the area.
Egypt will not hesitate to send military forces into the territory of Arab Gulf allies to offer protection if asked by the leaders of those countries, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday the United States expects to have “very serious” talks with China about militarization of the South China Sea after reports that Beijing deployed advanced surface-to-air missiles to a disputed island.
The president of Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center said on Wednesday that his hospital paid hackers a ransom of $17,000 in bitcoins to regain control of their computer systems after a cyber-attack.
A large explosion at a military dormitory in the Turkish capital, Ankara, on Wednesday has left up to 28 dead and at least 60 injured, according to the Guardian. An official said military buses were the target.
Turkey’s president says there is evidence to prove the Kurdish YPG militia based in Syria were behind Wednesday’s deadly bombing in Ankara.
Venezuela is raising petrol prices for the first time in 20 years, although the president claims it will still be the cheapest in the world. President Nicolas Maduro said pump prices of premium fuel would rise from the equivalent of $0.01 a liter to about $0.60. The cost of lower grade petrol would rise to about $0.10 a liter.
Social media has been blocked in Uganda on the day of presidential elections to stop people “telling lies”, President Yoweri Museveni has said.
An Indian company has launched what is being billed as the world’s cheapest smartphone. The Freedom 251 phone would cost just $3.67 and there was huge demand in the first hours of sale.
Arizona state Rep. Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa is moving to close a bizarre regulatory loophole that prohibits residents from holding potlucks in their own home or church.
Nike has cut ties with legendary boxer Manny Pacquiao due to recent opinions he shared on homosexuality. The eight-time world boxing champion told a local television station earlier in the week that same-sex couples are in many ways “worse than animals” because even beasts shun the practice.
Top News – 2/18/2016
How Apple will fight the DOJ in iPhone backdoor crypto case
Cook said Apple will fight the Riverside, California magistrate judge’s orders, calling it an “unprecedented use of the All Writs Act of 1789 to justify an expansion of its authority.” Depending on where you line up in the cryptowars debate, Cook’s characterization of the government’s stance may or may not be true. But what is undeniable is that the act has certainly been used to expand the government’s surveillance reach.
Merkel’s Europe Faces Judgment Day at EU Summit
Angela Merkel is facing an impossible task at this week’s EU summit and returning to Germany without reaching her objectives could lead to her resignation, Deutsche Welle reported.
Moderate earthquake 5.8 mag, 60 km NNW of Visokoi Island, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
A moderate earthquake magnitude 5.8 (ml/mb) has struck on Wednesday, 60 km NNW of Visokoi Island, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (37 miles). The epicenter was at a depth of 119.26 km (74 miles). Exact location of event, depth 119.26 km, -27.6226° West, -56.2123° South. Event id: us10004qp2. Ids that are associated to the earthquake: us10004qp2. A tsunami warning has not been issued (Does not indicate if a tsunami actually did or will exist).
Magnitude-5.9 earthquake jolts East Halmahera
akarta (ANTARA News) – An earthquake measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale jolted East Halmahera area in North Maluku early on Thursday morning.
Turkey blames Kurdish militants for Ankara bomb, vows response in Syria and Iraq
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu blamed a Syrian Kurdish militia fighter working with Kurdish militants inside Turkey for a suicide car bombing that killed 28 people in the capital Ankara, and he vowed retaliation in both Syria and Iraq. A car laden with explosives detonated next to military buses as they waited at traffic lights near Turkey’s armed forces’ headquarters, parliament and government buildings in…Ankara…
Venezuela raises petrol price for first time in 20 years
Venezuela is raising petrol prices for the first time in 20 years, although the president claims it will still be the cheapest in the world. President Nicolas Maduro said pump prices of premium fuel would rise from the equivalent of $0.01 a litre to about $0.60 (£0.40). The cost of lower grade petrol would rise to about $0.10 a litre.
Kenya ‘kills’ al-Shabab intelligence chief in Somalia
A Kenyan air strike has killed the intelligence chief of Somalia’s militant Islamist group al-Shabab, an army statement has said. Mohammed Karatey and 10 other al-Shabab commanders were killed in the strike in southern Somalia on 8 February, it added. He played a key role in last month’s deadly attack on a Kenyan military base in neighbouring Somalia, the army said.
Students in Brooklyn College demand ‘Zionists off campus’
Approximately 10 Brooklyn College students who interrupted a faculty meeting called for “Zionists off campus” among its list of demands. A faculty member at the Tuesday afternoon meeting told JTA that along with the demand on Zionists, the students called one faculty member a “Zionist pig.” The educator who spoke to JTA wished to remain anonymous.
Report: Israel strikes Syrian army outposts south of Damascus, monitor says
Three Israeli rockets allegedly hit Syrian army outposts south of Damascus on Wednesday, reported the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the conflict. Meanwhile, a pro-Syrian government military source denied reports that Israel carried out air strikes inside Syria The IDF said it does not respond to such foreign reports.
Catholic Church in Israel blames Jewish state for current Palestinian violence
The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, which represents the Catholic Church in the region, accused Israel on Thursday of responsibility for the recent wave of Palestinian violence, saying Israeli policy has created despair and frustration among Palestinians leading them to carry out acts of terrorism.
Decorated Iraq vet whose bravery was immortalized in a statue ‘attacked in hate crime’: Marine says he was beaten and robbed by teens who aske
The marine, who had survived ambushes in Fallujah at the height of the Iraq War, was taken unaware again — and this time he was unarmed and without backup. One of the teens hit him in the head him from behind, knocking him to the floor, where the gang beat him savagely before robbing him. Marquez told police that one youth hit him in the head with a handgun.
China leads global U.S. debt dump
he largest owner of U.S. debt, China sold $18 billion of U.S. Treasury debt in December. And it’s not alone. Japan sold even more: $22 billion. In the past year, Mexico, Turkey and Belgium have also lowered their holdings of U.S. debt, all of which have led to a record annual dump by central banks.
‘Zero Days’ director says U.S. government secrecy trend ‘appalling’
The director of a new documentary outlining U.S. plans for an extensive cyber attack on Iran said on Wednesday he was angry and appalled by the rapidly growing trend towards secrecy in the U.S. government.
Radioactive material stolen in Iraq raises security concerns
Iraq is searching for “highly dangerous” radioactive material whose theft last year has raised fears among Iraqi officials that it could be used as a weapon if acquired by Islamic State.
Covertly, Israel prepares to fight boycott activists online
Israel is using its world-leading expertise in cyber security to take on the growing threat of the global pro-Palestinian movement to boycott Israel.
Israeli archaeologists discover 7,000-year-old settlement
Israeli archaeologists said Wednesday they have unearthed a 7,000-year-old settlement in northern Jerusalem, describing it as the oldest discovery of its kind in the area. Israel’s Antiquities Authority said the excavation exposed two houses with well-preserved remains and floors containing pottery vessels, flint tools and a basalt bowl.
Top Headlines – 2/18/2016
Joel McDurmon – The violence inherent in “Christian Socialism”
1) Economic interests and profits are driving religious liberty and morality in Atlanta
Georgia Senate panel merges ‘religious liberty’ bills, reshapes debate, Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Kristina Torres)
Gambling interests ante up in big way at Georgia Capitol, Atlanta Journal-Constitution (James Salzer)
2) An ominous stat for the future of the country: nearly half of California adults are single
Marriage? “No thanks” or “Not yet” say nearly half of California adults, Sacramento Bee (Phillip Reese)
3) Success of “extremely” R-rated ‘Deadpool’ reveals the moral state of the nation
‘Deadpool’ Breaks Box Office Records for R-Rated Film, New York Times (Brooks Barnes)
In other news…
Heirs to 2 Evangelical Empires Take Different Paths Into Political Fray, New York Times (Alan Blinder)
Evangelicals Are Losing the Battle for the Bible. And They’re Just Fine with That, Los Angeles Review of Books (Jim Hinch)
Fearing the ‘G’ Word, the State Department Turns Its Back on Middle Eastern Christians, National Review (Nina Shea)
Lesbian’s Wage Premium: Girl Power, The Economist
Bernie and the ‘Lunatic of One Idea,’ The Wall Street Journal – Op Ed (Joseph Epstein)
S.D. lawmakers OK transgender bathroom limits, USA Today (Dana Ferguson)
Is South Dakota about to adopt an anti-transgender law? Critics wonder, Los Angeles Times (Associated Press)
Atheism is as natural as religion, study suggests, Independent (Rebecca Flood)
Frontrunning: February 18
- Oil extends rally towards $35 after Iran welcomes output freeze (Read More)
- Overproduction Swamps Smaller Chinese Cities, Revealing Depth of Crisis (Read More)
- House Flipping Is Making a Comeback in Las Vegas (Read More)
- Trump leads Republican field nationally by more than 20 points (Read More)
- Turkey blames Kurdish militants for Ankara bomb, vows response in Syria and Iraq (Read More)
- Brexit nerves knock FTSE as oil rally cools (Read More)
- Fed’s Kashkari: 25% Capital Requirement May Be Right for Banks (Read More)
- Russia Sues Ukraine in London Court Over $3 Billion Default (Read More)
- China’s Banks May Be Getting Creative About Hiding Their Losses (Read More)
- Chinese Money Keeps Coal Mines Humming (Read More)
- Anglo Cut to Junk for Third Time This Week as S&P Downgrades (Read More)
- The People’s Bank of China Moves to Daily Open-Market Operations (Read More)
- Hungary Central Bank Stockpiles Guns, Bullets Citing Terror Risk (Read More)
- Obama Said to Plan Historic Trip to Cuba Next Month (Read More)
- Iraq Follows Iran by Avoiding Commitment to Oil Freeze (Read More)
- Hedge Funds Will Pay for You to Own Small-Cap ETFs (Read More)
- China’s Subprime Crisis Is Here (Read More)
February 18, 2016
“[N]ever suppose that in any possible situation, or under any circumstances, it is best for you to do a dishonorable thing, however slightly so it may appear to you.” —Thomas Jefferson, 1785
TOP RIGHT HOOKS
|Barack Obama delivering the eulogy of Rev. Clementa Pinckney|
The salient question about Barack Obama’s decision not to attend Justice Antonin Scalia’s funeral is, “What’s he doing instead?” It’s a question Obama’s spokesman didn’t know when asked by a reporter Wednesday if the plans included a quick trip to the local golf course. “I don’t have a sense of what the president’s plans are for Saturday,” Josh Earnest said. “The president obviously believes it’s important for the institution of the presidency to pay his respects to somebody who dedicated three decades of his life to the institution of the Supreme Court.” Just not important enough to, you know, go to the funeral.
What could demand precedence above honoring the life and position of one of the most acute judges in recent history? In truth, Obama’s clearly sending a message about his opinion of Scalia and the latter’s strict interpretation of the Constitution. Sure, the Obamas will pay their respects as Scalia’s body lies in repose in the Great Hall of the Supreme Court Friday, but they won’t hop across town to attend his funeral at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception the day after.
Obama spoke at Walter Cronkite’s funeral, even though he never met the man. He also attended the funerals of three Democrat lawmakers, and made a point to deliver the eulogy at the Rev. Clementa Pinckney’s funeral, one of the victims of the racist murders at the church in Charleston. If Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg had died — the ideological opposite of Scalia — what are the chances that Obama would have skipped her funeral? Can we really expect him to nominate a judge who will respect not just the institution of the Supreme Court, but the Constitution?
The most recent polling might indicate a shift in the Republican Party. The recent NBC/Wall Street Journal Poll finds that Sen. Ted Cruz now leads the GOP primary pack nationally with 28% support among primary voters. Donald Trump comes in at 26%; Sen. Marco Rubio follows with 17%. The poll was conducted after Trump swept New Hampshire and after his debate performance Saturday that garnered boos from the audience over he angrily made leftist talking points about 9/11 and Iraq.
But don’t take this poll (or any poll) as gospel. In particular, polling during primary season is notoriously unreliable. For example, the data wonks over at FiveThirtyEight still give Trump a 78% chance of winning the South Carolina Republican primary. As National Review’s Jim Geraghty noted, the NBC/WSJ poll measured a national audience, it’s the first poll to predict anyone but Trump out on top, and the margin of error is 4.9 percentage points. The gap between Cruz and Trump is only two points, so the poll really shows that the two are neck and neck.
The truly interesting question from this poll is that respondents were asked who they would support in a one-on-one matchup. Rubio beat Trump 57% to 41% and Cruz beat the real estate mogul 56% to 40%. For weeks, Trump has pointed to his popular poll numbers as a reason why he should get the nomination. This poll may show that support isn’t ironclad. As commentator Charles Krauthammer observed, “The reason [Trump] is way ahead and the reason it looks like a wholesale revolt is because the anti-Trump vote is so split. If it consolidates, it would beat him. The problem is it has not consolidated and the vote remains split. It may never consolidate and Trump will win the nomination.” It’s time to thin the herd for the sake of conservatism.
Donald Trump accused people of a lot of lies in the last debate, and indeed there were some whoppers. For example, his assertion that George W. Bush knew about 9/11 beforehand and that there were no WMD in Iraq. We’ve thoroughly rebutted both far-Left campaign ads over the years — his rewrite of Iraq’s history just yesterday. So how about Trump and 9/11?
“I lost hundreds of friends,” he insisted Saturday. We don’t doubt given his connections in the financial sector that he did indeed know many people killed that day. But he seems to be using one of Barack Obama’s favorite tactics — standing on the caskets of innocents to make a political point. Trump has previously done this with his specious claim of watching as “thousands of people were cheering” in New Jersey on 9/11 or rebutting Ted Cruz by disgracefully invoking 9/11.
Reminiscent of his declining to cite his favorite Bible verse, Trump refuses to name any of those friends. Okay, it’s fair enough to not specifically drag them into the fray, but he doesn’t seem to have attended any funerals after 9/11 or any of the subsequent anniversary observances complete with reading the names of the deceased. And despite his campaign’s claims, it’s not clear that he actually contributed any money to 9/11-related charities. He did, however, give $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation, and he took $150,000 from the World Trade Center Business Recovery Grant program as a “small business” hurt by the attacks — a “small business” that brings in $26.8 million annually and occupies a $400 million building. What was that about New York values?
It’s certainly possible that Trump is telling the truth about losing hundreds of friends, but it seems to us more likely that this is just more empty bluster along the lines of “I have great relationships with everybody.”
Don’t Miss Alexander’s Column
Read SCOTUS — Better Obstruction Than Destruction, on letting Rule of Law, not political rhetoric, dictate procedure for judicial nomination and consent.
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FEATURED RIGHT ANALYSIS
By Allyne Caan
The passing of Justice Antonin Scalia left far more than a cloth-draped empty seat on the High Court’s bench. It also left a docket of undecided cases with far-reaching implications for Liberty.
Chief among these are Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, challenging Texas abortion restrictions; Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged v. Burwell, fighting ObamaCare’s contraception mandate; Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, arguing public employees should not be forced to support a public-sector union; United States v. Texas, challenging Barack Obama’s executive order on immigration; and Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, questioning the legality of affirmative action in college admissions.
In any cases in which the justices already cast their votes but the decisions have not yet been made public, Justice Scalia’s votes are now void. This may, for example, be the scenario for Friedrichs and Fisher, both of which were argued before Scalia’s passing. How this will affect cases depends on the vote counts. If votes were cast and Scalia’s vote does not affect the outcome of a case — for example, if he were a dissenting opinion or in a majority of more than five, then the cases will be decided by an eight-member Court.
If Scalia’s passing means a 4-4 outcome, however, that’s where it becomes tricky.
Some argue that a tie vote would uphold the lower court’s ruling, but that’s not necessarily the case.
Tom Goldstein, Supreme Court practitioner and SCOTUSblog.com writer, initially concluded a tie would mean the lower court’s decision is “affirmed by an equally divided Court.” He later said his conclusion was wrong and wrote, “There is historical precedent for this circumstance that points to the Court ordering the cases reargued once a new Justice is confirmed.”
In other words, the Court may hear oral argument again in both Friedrichs and Fischer once a new Justice is confirmed — which may not be until next term.
As for cases yet to be argued this term, they will still be heard, but if the vote is tied, the justices may order the cases reargued at a later date.
In short, given what’s at stake as a whole for life and Liberty, the importance of Scalia’s untimely absence cannot be overstated. As we noted earlier this week, “[W]ith a series of 5-4 opinions from the High Court in recent years deciding the scope of our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, our First Amendment rights as pertains to political speech, the legal definition of marriage (and in the process putting our freedoms of religion, speech and assembly at risk), it is absolutely imperative that Republicans hold out for a strict constructionist in the mold of Scalia.”
Indeed, as Senator Ted Cruz warned, “We are one justice away from a Supreme Court that will strike down every restriction on abortion adopted by the states. We are one justice away from a Supreme Court that will reverse the Heller decision, one of Justice Scalia’s seminal decisions that upheld the Second Amendment’s right to keep and bear arms. We are one justice away from a Supreme Court that would undermine the religious liberty of millions of Americans.”
Cruz is right.
While the plaintiffs now before the Court may get a chance for a “do-over” if the Court orders their cases re-argued, once a new Supreme Court justice is confirmed, there is no do-over.
That’s why the words of Professor Robert P. George of Princeton University could not be truer: “We don’t need ‘balance’ on the Supreme Court, and Republicans should not claim that we do. We need faithful constitutionalists. Period.”
MORE ORIGINAL PERSPECTIVE
- ANALYSIS: Obama’s Dangerous Cooked Intelligence
- Leftist Economists Balk at Bernie’s Spending Plans
- Nikki Haley: Marco Rubio Is the Man
- Trump Hits Cruz With Slanderous Attack
- College Students Confuse Reagan for Clinton and Nixon
- Congress Places Blame of Animas Spill on EPA
- One Small Bullet for the Brits, One Great Terror for ISIL
BEST OF RIGHT OPINION
- Larry Elder: No, Mr. Trump, Bush Did Not Lie About Iraq War Intel
- Victor Davis Hanson: The Return of Appeasement, Collaboration and Isolationism
- Gary Bauer: Crushing the American Dream
For more, visit Right Opinion.
- Obama Schedules Visit to Communist Cuba
- Clinton Email Discussed Afghan National’s CIA Ties
- Radioactive Material Stolen in Iraq Raises Security Fears
For more, visit Patriot Headline Report
OPINION IN BRIEF
Larry Elder: “It’s one thing to disagree with the decision to go to war in Iraq. That, believe it or not, was once a minority view. According to a Gallup poll taken in March 2003, the night after the Iraq war began, 76 percent supported President George W. Bush’s decision. Two months after the invasion, a Gallup poll found 79 percent of Americans thought the war was justified — about half of those said, ‘The war will be justified regardless of whether (weapons of mass destruction) are found.’ But in the last GOP debate, Republican candidate front-runner Donald Trump took things to a new level. He not only called the decision to go to war ‘a big, fat mistake’ (and, post-debate, proclaimed it ‘a disaster’) but also said: ‘They lied. They said there were weapons of mass destruction. There were none, and they knew there were none.’ … Accusing a commander in chief, irrespective of his or her party, of knowingly lying to start a war is serious business. In the Iraq War, almost 4,500 U.S. service members died, to say nothing of the war’s cost. To claim that the Bush administration knowingly lied to start the Iraq War is to assert that the CIA was behind 9/11 or that O.J. Simpson was innocent of double homicide. Facts don’t matter. Lack of evidence means presence of proof.”
Insight: “A government that is big enough to give you all you want is big enough to take it all away.” —Barry Goldwater (1909-1998)
For the record: “[S]tarting … in the ’20s with Woodrow Wilson, the government started getting involved in everything. It kept growing, metastasizing. By the time we got to the ’60s, LBJ was saying, we the government are going to eliminate poverty. Now how did that work out? You know, $19 trillion later, 10 times more people on food stamps, more poverty, more welfare, broken homes, out-of-wedlock births, crime, incarceration. Everything is not only worse, it’s much worse. And that’s because it’s not their job. It’s our job. I wish the government would read the Constitution. I think that would probably help quite a bit. And maybe they did read it and maybe they got confused when they read the preamble, which says one of the duties is to promote the general welfare. They probably thought that meant putting everybody on welfare.” —Ben Carson
Belly laugh of the week: “I tell you what: If I would have run four years ago [Barack Obama] wouldn’t be president right now.” —Donald Trump (So by not running Trump still managed to screw us? Figures.)
Alpha Jackass: “Scalia’s death greatly boosts survival chances of Obama’s climate policy, all other humans.” —Slate’s Eric Holthaus
Singing a different tune: “Looking back on it, the president believes that he should have just followed his own advice and made a strong public case on the merits about his opposition to the [Supreme Court] nomination that President Bush had put forward. … What the president regrets is that Senate Democrats didn’t focus more on making an effective public case about those substantive objections. Instead, some Democrats engaged in a process of throwing sand in the gears of the confirmation process. And that’s an approach that the president regrets.” —Obama spokesman Josh Earnest
Braying Jenny: “It’s almost like [Republicans are] not being patriotic, it seems to me. … And I have to say it — I know it’s not popular to say it — but [Obama’s] color has something to do with it.” —talkinghead Joy Behar speculating on why the GOP objects to an Obama Supreme Court nominee
And last… “[S]lavery was abolished by the 13th Amendment, a constitutional provision even many progressives are willing to respect as written.” —James Taranto
Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis!
Managing Editor Nate Jackson
Join us in daily prayer for our Patriots in uniform — Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen — standing in harm’s way in defense of Liberty, and for their families.
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Keith and Kristyn Getty’s Global Sunday Singalong for the Persecuted Church
This Sunday, more than 3,000 churches in 65 countries will sing new version of OMF hymn that first drew missionaries to China.
Pope Francis Quiet on Catholic Persecution of Protestants in Mexico
The pope encouraged indigenous Catholics in southern Mexico, but didn’t mention their actions against local Protestants.
COMMENTARY: Scalia slams socialism as ‘death to Christian virtue’
The now-deceased Supreme Court associate justice said in an underreported speech in 2013 that there is every reason to believe socialism is bad for Christian virtue.
Risen may give new life to Bible epics
MOVIES | Risen may give new life to Bible epics
ARTICLES I LIKE FROM AROUND THE WEB:
(Click title to go to full article)
Act Like a Christian on Social Media – “There is no way to sugar coat it, last week was a bad week for the Bible believing church on social media. It all started when a pastor with a national following and influence was asked on Twitter what presidential candidate he thinks members of his ethnic group should vote for. [In the interest of full disclosure, I think this is a bad question, just as there is no Jew or Greek in Christ (Gal 5:28) there is also no black, white, brown, yellow, red, African American, Asian American, Irish America, Native American, Italian American or any other racial or ethnic identity distinction in Christ.]”
Does God Always Get What He Wants? – “Peter’s support for the second coming culminated in an appeal to the character of God. The thrust of his argument is this: The reason Christ’s return is not immediate is because God is patient with sinners. Any waiting is attributable only to God’s gracious longsuffering. It is not that He is indifferent, powerless, or distracted. Instead, it is just the opposite. Because He is merciful and forbearing, He delays so that elect sinners might come to repentance (1 Peter 3:20; cf. Matt. 4:17; 9:13; Mark 6:12; Luke 15:10; Rom. 2:4; 2 Tim. 2:25; Rev. 2:5).”
Twenty-five stupid reasons for dissing Dispensationalism – “It’s just not “cool” to be dispensationalist, anymore. The system had particular prominence in the seventies and beyond, which excited a lot of envy and resentment among the non’s (“Hey, what about us?”). So they produced a lot of sourpuss, wanna-be literature, trying to take back every area that dispensational writers had held. They haven’t fully succeeded. This really irritates them, because many of them still think that dispensationalists are unsophisticated knuckle-draggers at best, or heretics at worst. It’s like listening to evolutionists talk about the Great Unwashed, who they see as too stupid to agree with them, still boneheadedly clinging to inane creationistic notions. They alternate between sniffing in disdain, and wondering why their outreaches fail to penetrate their foes’ Stygian darkness. But anti-dispies have succeeded with some folks, more (I think) through image than substance. They have convinced them that it isn’t cool to be a dispensationalist.”
Antonin Scalia, Christian – “More on the topic of profound Christianity of Antonin Scalia. It really was remarkable for a man of such prominence in secular America today. A friend of mine preached at the funeral of Justice Lewis Powell in Richmond in 1998. In attendance were all the members of the Supreme Court, as well as many other dignitaries. Today he posted a letter he received after conducting that service. It was from Justice Scalia. This is it…”
What’s more dangerous than Las Vegas? – “I wish I had a dollar every time someone told me about the dangers of Las Vegas and why they could not raise a family here. I habitually hear, ‘Oh, ministry in Sin City? Well, just like Corinth they need the Gospel too.’ It seems many Christians think Las Vegas the most dangerous place in the world. After all, this IS Sin City! Right? (Or at least that is how we market our city to you). Is Las Vegas the most dangerous place to anyone? Let’s face it, everyone knows the Strip has drugs, gambling, free drinks, and prostitution (even though it is technically illegal in Clark County (LV)). This is the Disney Land of sin, right? So this has to be the worst place in the world for me to live right? A simple yes or no answer may suffice, but it would leave God’s input unexplored (and this blog half as fun).”
Jason Wall – Why Should I Love My Spouse?
“All death can do to the believer is deliver him to Jesus. It brings us into the eternal presence of our Savior.” – John MacArthur
How strong is your vocabulary? (Click here to find out.) A robust vocabulary can be an advantage in life, or at least it is in Scrabble or Words with Friends. Some people enrich their words by doing crossword puzzles, others by learning a word a day, or by reading (my preferred choice).
I know the definitions of the following four commonly used words; however their meanings have taken on a far richer significance as my faith has grown. I suspect there is more to be discovered.
Vocabulary Word #1: Grace
C.S. Lewis is reported to have walked into a conversation between theologians about what distinguishes Christianity from other world religions. When told what they were debating, he said, “Oh, that easy. It’s grace.” End of discussion.
One definition of grace is: “unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification.” That is quite a mouthful. I understand all of those words, but I’m not sure I’ll ever fully appreciate, in this life, the boundless grace that God extends to me. It still astonishes me.
Lately, I’ve been pondering Romans chapter 8, and the first four verses speak explosively of God’s grace:
For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us…” (Romans 8:3-4, emphasis mine)
It is stunning that the law, with all of its intricate requirements, is fully met in a sinner like me. Only by the grace of God can that be true.
Vocabulary Word #2: Love
Everyone knows what love is, right? Yet everyone has a different experience and understanding of love. My husband brought home a big bunch of red roses for Valentine’s Day, because he knows I love them. But roses by themselves would never be enough. My husband shows his love for me daily in many ways, and hopefully I do the same for him. Our love has grown, and my knowledge of the word love has expanded, through the love shown to me by my family and friends.
Even so, human love is never perfect. God’s is. God is love (1 John 4:7-12). God’s love is over and above even the purest human love. The more we love God and experience the love of God, the more the word love will expand in our lives.
God’s love doesn’t always mean a problem free life; sometimes our challenges are exactly what (eventually) enrich our lives. Sometimes our understanding of love will expand into difficult territory. Many people live in miserable conditions in this world, but that doesn’t change God’s love for them. Love is complicated, but I have learned that I can always count on the love of God.
Vocabulary Word #3: Humility
As I better understand God’s grace and his love, the meaning of the word humility is becoming amplified in my life.
Humility, according to Merriam Webster, is “the absence of any feelings of being better than others.” However, humility according to Jesus is something more complex than the dictionary definition. Humility means becoming like a little child (Matthew 18:2-4). It means doing absolutely nothing out of selfish ambition of vain conceit (Philippians 2:3). It means taking the role of a servant voluntarily, even when it is difficult (Mark 9:35). Humility is giving up all self-congratulation.
Humility is not an easy word to learn but, because of God’s grace and his love, it’s possible.
My understanding of the word humility has expanded to the degree that my pride has contracted. I am learning to depend fully on Jesus to accomplish anything of value and that there is a great gulf between my perception of humility and what Jesus modeled and desires for us. Humility is not a particularly easy word to learn, but because of God’s grace and his love, it’s possible.
Vocabulary Word #4: Hope
I hope it doesn’t rain; I hope I’m not getting sick; I hope the Cubs win the World Series. Those uses of the word hope are different from the biblical use of the word in that one cannot be confident of success. It might rain, and the Cubs may never win a World Series.
Biblical hope is hoping with confident expectation. There are many things in this life that I hope for: good health and success for my family and me; the end of wars, disease, and violence; for God’s people, the Church, to do their work well in this world. Those are just a few of my hopes, and I know that they will not all be realized this side of heaven. Biblical hope is an extended hope; it demands a longer view I have confident hope of a glorious future (Romans 5:1-5).
Romans 8:23-25 says,
…we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. (emphasis mine)
The heavenly existence and glorious, redeemed bodies in which we hope have not been fully revealed to us, therefore we can only hope. I’ll try to wait for it patiently, in humility, while enjoying the love and grace of God.
How has your vocabulary of faith become stronger? Which words have been expanded as you have grown?
- Our Plans, God’s Purpose, and Faith
- Faith Is Like a Muscle and Needs to Be Exercised
- We Need God’s Transforming Grace
The Problem of Evil: The Power to Draw and the Role of Justice (Cold-Case Christianity Broadcast #59)
In this episode of the Cold-Case Christianity Broadcast, J. Warner Wallace examines the classic problem of evil and offers a cumulative case response. In this third of four related broadcasts, J. Warner examines the role that evil plays in drawing people to God and the nature of evil and suffering as a consequence of sin. For more information about the cumulative case for the existence of God and the problem of evil, see J. Warner’s latest book, God’s Crime Scene.
I generally have a no-Kickstarter policy, but will make an exception here. Bible Sounds: Anthems for Little Theologians has a great sound and some neat animations. It may just be worth supporting.
Martin Luther died on February 18, 1546. Stephen Nichols recounts the end of his life.
Yes, it should. “Christian homes should be the most open, honest, and comfortable places for kids and teens to learn and ask questions about sex.”
I loved this examination of the music of The Lord of the Rings.
This was a joy to read. “Dr. Ryrie was one of the godliest individuals I’ve ever known. I say that emphatically without any sentimental hyperbole whatsoever. In my lifetime of growing up in the church, years in Bible College and seminary, now over a decade of pastoral ministry, Dr. Ryrie was one of the holiest men I’ve ever met.”
I think Nick Batzig is on to something with his unorthodox church planting mathematics.
This Day in 1678. 338 years ago today, John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress was first published. *
This is some amazing footage of two men trying to climb a 22,660 ft. peak on the border of Tibet and Nepal. (Note: There may be one swear word: I couldn’t quite make it out.)
The Desiring God blog has some wise counsel on dating a person who has a sexual history. “The twin emotions of dating someone with a sexual history, though, are insecurity and obsession…”
My grand point in preaching is to break the hard heart, and to heal the broken one. —John Newton
Posted: 18 Feb 2016 06:17 AM PST
Doctors battling to combat cancer have hailed a revolutionary treatment that teaches the body how to kill the disease itself. Trials of immunotherapy showed remarkable results with 94% of terminal leukaemia patients told they had just months to live going into remission. And more than half of 40 suffering other blood cancers were left disease-free, according to US researchers.
The treatment could reduce the reliance on chemotherapy, which has debilitating toxic side-effects. In a second major breakthrough, an Italian study found the therapy could be used to develop a vaccine-style drug that stops the disease coming back after it has been successfully treated. In the US trial, white blood cells – known as T-cells – were taken from patients suffering acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and genetically modified to target the cancer. READ MORE
|Trump Takes “Neutral Path” on Israeli-Palestinian Peace
Posted: 18 Feb 2016 05:56 AM PST
Donald Trump, who’s just fallen to second place in a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal national poll – but who retains the title of Number One candidate among Republicans in South Carolina – told a town hall crowd in Charleston he didn’t want to take sides in the Israeli-Palestinian struggle because it’s a loser of a discussion. He also said as commander-in-chief, he would try like “hell” to forge a peace deal between the two sides, the Hill reported.
“You know,” he said to MSNBC hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, “I don’t want to get into it.” He was asked about his position on the conflict that’s waged between Israel and the Palestinians for years, in part over land rights, and to explain his level of optimism to strike a peace deal. “If I win, I don’t want to be in a position where I’m saying to you [one thing] and the other side now says, ‘We don’t want Trump involved,’” he said, the Hill reported. “Let me be sort of a neutral guy. I have friends of mine that are tremendous business people, that are really great negotiators [and] they say it’s not doable.” So his conclusion? READ MORE
The post Trump Takes “Neutral Path” on Israeli-Palestinian Peace appeared first on End Time Headlines.
|Reports of Twitter “Shadow Banning” Conservative Users
Posted: 18 Feb 2016 05:46 AM PST
Rumours that Twitter has begun ‘shadowbanning’ politically inconvenient users have been confirmed by a source inside the company, who spoke exclusively to Breitbart Tech. His claim was corroborated by a senior editor at a major publisher. According to the source, Twitter maintains a ‘whitelist’ of favoured Twitter accounts and a ‘blacklist’ of unfavoured accounts. Accounts on the whitelist are prioritised in search results, even if they’re not the most popular among users.
Meanwhile, accounts on the blacklist have their posts hidden from both search results and other users’ timelines. Our source was backed up by a senior editor at a major digital publisher, who told Breitbart that Twitter told him it deliberately whitelists and blacklists users. He added that he was afraid of the site’s power, noting that his tweets could disappear from users’ timelines if he got on the wrong side of the company. READ MORE
The post Reports of Twitter “Shadow Banning” Conservative Users appeared first on End Time Headlines.
Posted: 18 Feb 2016 05:41 AM PST
A Los Angeles hospital paid a ransom of nearly $17,000 in bitcoins to hackers who infiltrated and disabled its computer network because paying was in the best interest of the hospital and most efficient way to solve the problem, the medical center’s chief executive said Wednesday. Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center CEO Allen Stefanek said the hackers demanded a ransom of 40 bitcoins, currently worth $16,664. The FBI is investigating the attack, which began on Feb. 5.
Authorities said this kind of attack is called “ransomware,” where hackers encrypt a computer network’s data to hold it “hostage,” providing a digital decryption key to unlock it for a price.”The quickest and most efficient way to restore our systems and administrative functions was to pay the ransom and obtain the decryption key,” Stefanek said. “In the best interest of restoring normal operations, we did this.” READ MORE
The post UPDATE: Hospital pays nearly $17G in bitcoins to hackers who disabled computer network appeared first on End Time Headlines.
|RUMORS OF WAR – North Korea Preparing For Attacks
Posted: 18 Feb 2016 05:35 AM PST
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un recently ordered preparations for launching “terror” attacks on South Koreans, a top Seoul official said Thursday, as worries about the North grow after its recent nuclear test and rocket launch. In televised remarks, senior South Korean presidential official Kim Sung-woo said North Korea’s spy agency has begun work to implement Kim Jong Un’s order to “muster anti-South terror capabilities that can pose a direct threat to our lives and security.”
He said the possibility of North Korean attacks “is increasing more than ever” and asked for quick passage of an anti-terror bill in parliament. North Korea has a history of attacks on South Korea, such as the 2010 shelling on an island that killed four South Koreans and the 1987 bombing of a South Korean passenger plane that killed all 115 people on board. But it is impossible to independently confirm claims about any such attack preparations. The South Korean presidential official did not say where the latest information came from. READ MORE
|Hungary Central Bank Stockpiles Guns and Bullets
Posted: 18 Feb 2016 05:31 AM PST
Hungary’s central bank, already facing criticism for a spending spree ranging from real estate to fine art, is now beefing up its security force, citing Europe’s migrant crisis and potential bomb threats among the reasons. The National Bank of Hungary bought 200,000 rounds of live ammunition and 112 handguns for its security company, according to documents posted on a website for public procurements.
Additional protection is needed due to the rise of “international security risks” including bomb and terror threats and migration, central bank Governor Gyorgy Matolcsy said in a written response to a lawmaker who asked about the purchases, posted on Parliament’s website Feb. 17. The central bank’s assumption of the role of financial regulator and the related increase in the number of its properties also contributed to the need for further defenses, he said. READ MORE
|Moody’s Warn that “Painful Days” Ahead for Global Economy
Posted: 18 Feb 2016 05:28 AM PST
Risks to global growth have increased since November and world leaders have little left in their fiscal and monetary arsenals to mitigate the threat, Moody’s has warned. In its quarterly Global Macro Outlook 2016-17 report released Thursday, the ratings agency said that growth prospects were being hammered by China’s slowdown, a slump in commodity prices and tighter financing conditions in some emerging markets.
This pain would outweigh factors helpful to growth, such as the loose monetary policy in Europe, Japan and the U.S., Moody’s said. The credit rating firm said gross domestic product growth across the Group of 20 was expected to match the 2.6 percent rate reached in 2015, while only a slight tick up to 2.9 percent was seen for 2017. This average figure for 2016, however, masked the decline in Moody’s forecast range, which dropped 50 basis points at both the top and bottom end to sit at 2-3 percent. READ MORE
The post Moody’s Warn that “Painful Days” Ahead for Global Economy appeared first on End Time Headlines.
|Do Your Natural Actions Line Up With Your Faith?
Posted: 17 Feb 2016 07:11 PM PST
(Kathy Degraw) Jesus said when healing the blind man, “What do you want Me to do for you?” (Mark 10:36). I believe Jesus is modeling the power of our words. All through the Bible it talks about the spoken word. The Bible tells us to speak to our mountain (Mark 11:23), that death and life are in the power of the tongue (Prov. 18:21) and to call things that are not as if they are (Rom. 4:17).
We need to align our words and actions with our faith. When Jesus went to heal a man, He said, “Stretch out your hand” (Mark 3:5). That man did a prophetic action. He aligned his faith with a natural action by stretching out his hand. Jesus was putting this man’s faith to action, a prophetic action.
Another time Jesus went to heal, he made the man speak out what He wanted. The blind man said, “That I may receive my sight.” The words “that I may receive my sight” were a declaration. He was declaring and speaking into the spiritual atmosphere what He wanted to see manifest in the natural realm. There is power in our words! CONTINUE
Our Time is Short
What is The Gospel?
God made everything out of nothing, including you and me. His main purpose in creation was to bring him pleasure.
The chief way in which we as humanity do this is through loving, obeying, and enjoying him perfectly.
Instead of this, we have sinned against our loving Creator and acted in high-handed rebellion.
God has vowed that he will righteously and lovingly judge sinners with eternal death.
But God, being merciful, loving, gracious, and just, sent his own son, Jesus Christ, in the likeness of man to live as a man; fulfilling his perfect requirements in the place of sinners; loving, obeying, and enjoying him perfectly.
And further, his son bore the eternal judgment of God upon the cross of Calvary, as he satisfied the eternal anger of God, standing in the place of sinners. God treated Jesus as a sinner, though he was perfectly sinless, that he might declare sinners as perfect.
This glorious transaction occurs as the sinner puts their faith (dependence, trust) in the Lord Jesus Christ as their substitute. God then charges Christ’s perfection to the sinner, and no longer views him as an enemy but instead an adopted son covered in the perfect righteousness of his son.
God furnished proof that this sacrifice was accepted by raising Jesus from the dead.
God will judge the world in righteousness and all of those who are not covered in the righteousness of Christ, depending on him for forgiveness, will be forced to stand on their own to bear the eternal anger of God.
Therefore, all must turn from sin and receive Christ Jesus as Lord.
There is no greater message to be heard than that which we call the gospel. But as important as that is, it is often given to massive distortions or over simplifications. People think they’re preaching the gospel to you when they tell you, ‘you can have a purpose to your life’, or that ‘you can have meaning to your life’, or that ‘you can have a personal relationship with Jesus.’ All of those things are true, and they’re all important, but they don’t get to the heart of the gospel.
The gospel is called the ‘good news’ because it addresses the most serious problem that you and I have as human beings, and that problem is simply this: God is holy and He is just, and I’m not. And at the end of my life, I’m going to stand before a just and holy God, and I’ll be judged. And I’ll be judged either on the basis of my own righteousness–or lack of it –or the righteousness of another. The good news of the gospel is that Jesus lived a life of perfect righteousness, of perfect obedience to God, not for His own well being but for His people. He has done for me what I couldn’t possibly do for myself. But not only has He lived that life of perfect obedience, He offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice to satisfy the justice and the righteousness of God.
The great misconception in our day is this: that God isn’t concerned to protect His own integrity. He’s a kind of wishy-washy deity, who just waves a wand of forgiveness over everybody. No. For God to forgive you is a very costly matter. It cost the sacrifice of His own Son. So valuable was that sacrifice that God pronounced it valuable by raising Him from the dead – so that Christ died for us, He was raised for our justification. So the gospel is something objective. It is the message of who Jesus is and what He did. And it also has a subjective dimension. How are the benefits of Jesus subjectively appropriated to us? How do I get it? The Bible makes it clear that we are justified not by our works, not by our efforts, not by our deeds, but by faith–and by faith alone. The only way you can receive the benefit of Christ’s life and death is by putting your trust in Him–and in Him alone. You do that, you’re declared just by God, you’re adopted into His family, you’re forgiven of all of your sins, and you have begun your pilgrimage for eternity.
The Gospel In A Nutshell
Now, with regard to this rule of faith—that we may from this point acknowledge what it is which we defend—it is, you must know, that which prescribes the belief that there is one only God, and that He is none other than the Creator of the world, who produced all things out of nothing through His own Word, first of all sent forth; that this Word is called His Son, and, under the name of God, was seen “in diverse manners” by the patriarchs, heard at all times in the prophets, at last brought down by the Spirit and Power of the Father into the Virgin Mary, was made flesh in her womb, and, being born of her, went forth as Jesus Christ; thenceforth He preached the new law and the new promise of the kingdom of heaven, worked miracles; having been crucified, He rose again the third day; (then) having ascended into the heavens, He sat at the right hand of the Father; sent instead of Himself the Power of the Holy Ghost to lead such as believe; will come with glory to take the saints to the enjoyment of everlasting life and of the heavenly promises, and to condemn the wicked to everlasting fire, after the resurrection of both these classes shall have happened, together with the restoration of their flesh. This rule, as it will be proved, was taught by Christ, and raises amongst ourselves no other questions than those which heresies introduce, and which make men heretics.
Tertullian, “On Prescription Against Heretics,” Chapter XIIl
If you picked up a hitchhiker (not that I recommend doing that) and he saw a Bible on your car seat and said, “I’ve heard about this thing called the Gospel – can you explain it to me before you drop me off in one minute up the street?” What would you say?
Can you explain the gospel in 30 seconds? In one minute? In five minutes?
Here’s one way I have found helpful. The five main components of the gospel can be remembered on 5 fingers of one hand. Here they are:
1) Jesus’ birth
2) Jesus’ life
3) Jesus’ death
4) Jesus’ resurrection
5) Jesus’ ascension
Obviously each point can be elaborated on depending on how much time you have. Here’s the short version:
1) Jesus’ birth – Jesus, God himself, the creator of the universe, the Messiah, became a human being – took on flesh, and was born of a virgin.
2) Jesus’ life – Jesus lived a life of perfect obedience to his Father. Though he was tempted in every way as we are, he never once sinned.
3) Jesus’ death – on the cross, Jesus himself took all our sins and paid for them. God the father counted all our sins to Jesus as if he himself had personally committed them. Then Jesus bore God’s wrath towards sin – the punishment we deserved – as a substitute for us.
4) Jesus’ resurrection – within 3 days, Jesus rose physically from the dead, proving that his sacrifice for sins have been accepted by God, since the punishment for sin was death. Jesus was seen by numerous people after he rose including 500 at one time (1 Corinthians 15).
5) Jesus’ ascension – Jesus ascended physically into heaven where he reigns as King of kings and Lord of lords. And someday he will return to the earth.
That’s the gospel, the good news, and if we believe in Jesus Christ and this good news and call upon him he will save us from our sins and give us eternal life.
That’s a simple way to remember the gospel – five fingers. Even a child can do it. So ask God to give you opportunities to share his good news today.
Ready to start your new life with God?
Who do you think that I am?
With that brief question Jesus Christ confronted His followers with the most important issue they would ever face. He had spent much time with them and made some bold claims about His identity and authority. Now the time had come for them either to believe or deny His teachings.
Who do you say Jesus is? Your response to Him will determine not only your values and lifestyle, but your eternal destiny as well.
Consider what the Bible says about Him: Read more
CanIKnowGod.com is a website inspired by LifesGreatestQuestion.com, with new content, images, audio and video that will help you understand more about who God is and how to know Him. The site is mobile responsive and has an infinite scroll which makes for a very user-friendly experience. After you indicate a decision on CanIKnowGod.com, you are directed to a page that details what it means to have a new and transformed life through Jesus Christ. There’s even a Facebook page for daily updates, encouragement and scripture sharing.
Look to Jesus
Have you ever felt a little lost and wished there was a quick-start guide to your relationship with God? This is it!
30 Day Next Steps
John Beckett, a leading Christian businessman, has written a series to read over 30 days for new believers.
New Believers Guide
The New Believer’s Guide is a series of articles designed to show you how to walk in the new life Christ has given you— a life of faith and freedom.
Jesus is the Savior of the world. Discover who Jesus is today in this series.
Know Jesus Christ and your life will be transformed
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