Senate Leaders Scramble to Save Health Bill Amid Defections

Jun 27 2017 - 4:52pm
AP17177631487684__1498566415_198.49.27.212 WASHINGTON (AP) -- Senate leaders scrambled Tuesday to rescue their health care bill, in deepening jeopardy as opposition from rebellious Republicans intensified. The defections loomed as Congress’ nonpartisan budget referee said the measure would leave 22 million more people uninsured by 2026 than President Barack Obama’s law. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was hoping to staunch his party’s rebellion, a day after the Congressional Budget Office released its report. He’s been aiming at winning Senate passage this week, before a weeklong July 4 recess that leaders worry opponents will use to weaken support for the legislation. The CBO analysis suggested some ammunition GOP leaders could use, saying the Senate bill would cut federal deficits by $202 billion more over the coming decade than the version the House approved in May. Senate leaders could use some of those additional...

Syria Denies US Allegations of Coming Chemical Attack

Jun 27 2017 - 4:52pm
AP17177662903573__1498567460_198.49.27.212 BEIRUT (AP) -- The Syrian government on Tuesday dismissed White House allegations that it was preparing a new chemical weapons attack, as activists reported an airstrike on an Islamic State-run jail in eastern Syria that they said killed more than 40 prisoners. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 15 militants were also killed in the airstrike that happened on Monday in the Deir El-Zour province. The activist-run Deir Ezzor 24 media outlet said at least 60 civilians were killed. The two groups said the U.S.-led coalition was behind the strike. Russia and Syria also carry out airstrikes in Deir el-Zour, and it was not clear how the activists identified the aircraft responsible. The coalition could not immediately be reached for comment. Ali Haidar, the Syrian minister for national reconciliation, meanwhile dismissed a White House statement Monday that...

For the First Time, SCOTUS Says State Must Fund a Religious Institution

Jun 27 2017 - 4:52pm
US Constitution Religious Liberty Playground Trinity Lutheran Church - 900 For the first time, the Supreme Court has ordered a state to fund a religious group that had asked for funding under a state program. In the past, the court has ruled that the state may fund religious groups in some, but not all, instances. It has never said the state must do so. In Trinity Lutheran v. Comer, the court held that the state cannot deny secular funding to a religious group just because it’s religious. Seven justices voted for the opinion, including two of the court’s liberal justices, Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer. Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsberg dissented. Trinity Lutheran Church in Columbia, Mo., had applied in 2012 for a state grant to improve the playground surface of its child learning center. The playground...

Mattis: US Arms for Syrian Kurds Will Continue After Raqqa

Jun 27 2017 - 4:52pm
US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, pauses during a  press conference after a meeting , in Copenhagen, Denmark, Tuesday, May 9, 2017. Mattis said he had open and useful discussions with Turkish officials Tuesday, and said the two countries are working out differences over America’s continuing support for Syria Kurds as the fight against Islamic State militants moves closer to group’s headquarters in Raqqa. (Stine Tidsvilde/Ritzau Foto via AP) MUNICH (AP) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Tuesday that America will continue to provide weapons to Syrian Kurdish fighters after the battle to oust Islamic State militants from Raqqa, Syria, is over. Describing American reassurances to Turkey that the U.S. will take back weapons given to the Syrian Kurds after the ISIS fight, Mattis said it depends on when or where the next mission is. And he also sounded a cautionary tone when asked if all the weapons would be returned. “We’ll do what we can,” he told reporters traveling with him to Germany. Mattis’ comments marked the first time he has spoken at length...

Christian Baker Fears Loss of ‘Everything’ Unless Supreme Court Upholds Right Not to Make Cakes for Gay Marriages

Jun 27 2017 - 4:52pm
jackphillips_adf By deciding to hear the appeal of a Colorado baker, the Supreme Court could make its first ruling next year on whether government may coerce some Christians, Jews, and Muslims to use their creative gifts to celebrate same-sex marriage. The high court announced Monday that it would review the case of baker Jack Phillips, who cites his Christian faith in declining to make custom cakes for same-sex weddings. The Supreme Court's eventual ruling could be the first since its 2015 decision legalizing same-sex marriage to say whether bakers, photographers, florists, and others must be part of such celebrations through their creative expression. Phillips, whose Masterpiece Cakeshop is in Lakewood, Colorado, stopped making all wedding cakes in 2014 rather than be compelled by the state to design and bake them for same-sex marriages -- or be fined for not obeying. State agency and court decisions said Phillips must make such cakes after...

An Open Letter to Katy Perry

Jun 27 2017 - 4:52pm
Katy Perry Dear Katy, I'm truly sorry you've been experiencing so much internal pain, and I agree with you that the thing that has sustained you has been the grace of God. And I appreciate how open you've been about your struggles. That can't have been easy to do. But in the midst of your struggles, you're sending an important message to all your fans: All the riches and fame and popularity in the world can't buy you true happiness or inner contentment. To go to sleep at night without sleeping pills, being at peace with God and yourself, to get up in the morning full of excitement for the new day, to live with a sense of joyful purpose -- no amount of money in the world can buy those things. I know you grew up reading the Bible, so I hope you don't mind if I remind you of some verses you probably read as a child. "Better is a little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble with it" (Proverbs 15:16). And, "Better is a dry morsel with quiet than a house full of...

Supreme Court Playground Ruling Feeds School Voucher Debate

Jun 27 2017 - 4:52pm
In this Jan. 26, 2016 file photo, the empty playground at Trinity Lutheran Church in Columbia, Mo. The Supreme Court has ruled that churches have the same right as other charitable groups to seek state money for new playground surfaces and other non-religious needs. The justices on Monday, June 26, 2017, ruled 7-2 in favor of Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Missouri. The church sought a grant to put a soft surface on its preschool playground, but was denied any money even though its application was ranked fifth out of 44 submissions (Annaliese Nurnberg/Missourian via AP, File) Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and other proponents of school voucher programs are praising a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said a Lutheran church was wrongly denied a state grant for its preschool playground. But opponents say the ruling is far from an endorsement of the use of public money for religious schools. The court, by a 7-2 vote, sided with Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Missouri, which had sought a state grant to put a soft...

Americans Struggling Under Obamacare Tell Pence ‘Real Story’

Jun 27 2017 - 4:52pm
Vice President Mike Pence CPAC 2017 - 900 Marjorie Weer spent six months negotiating with an insurance company just to clear the way for her 3-year-old son Montgomery to travel from South Carolina to see doctors at Boston Children's Hospital. Monty, as the family calls him, has spina bifida, a birth defect that prevents the spinal cord from developing properly. Weer says she had to press his case with the insurer from November into April. During Monty's short life, the family has had three health insurance plans -- under two different companies -- largely because of problems caused by Obamacare, Weer says. Those plans offered the Weers few options for insurers in South Carolina and restricted coverage networks outside that state. "This is the real story of Obamacare in America," @VP says. "Whenever you tell a special needs mom 'No,' there is no point to that," Weer said Monday, as she had the ears of Vice President Mike Pence and Seema...

‘Active Shooter’ Incident at Redstone Arsenal Military Post

Jun 27 2017 - 4:52pm
Authorities block an entrance to Redstone Arsenal, Tuesday, June 27, 2017, in Huntsville, Ala. The military post said in a tweet it was on lockdown Tuesday amid reports of possible active shooter, telling workers to "run hide fight." More than 30,000 government employees, civilians and contractors work daily at Redstone. It is home to Army missile defense programs and other military offices. The gates have been opened but many questions remain after reports of an active shooter at the Redstone Arsenal military base in Huntsville, Ala. This is what is known at this point: The base sent out a tweet warning of a “possible active shooter” situation, and the base was put into a lockdown, with the command to “Run hide fight.” Three hours later, the lockdown has been lifted and a Redstone Arsenal spokesman declares there is no present threat. Chris Colster added the situation is “not a terrorist event.” Possible active shooter on the Arsenal. Installation is locked down. Run hide fight. — Redstone Arsenal (@...

Prediction: Supreme Court Will Punt in Fake Marriage Cake Case

Jun 27 2017 - 4:52pm
Gay Wedding Cake Rainbow White - 900 A frisson of delight ran through the Christian community when it was announced Monday that the Supreme Court will hear the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. In 2012, Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips was asked to bake a fake marriage (or gmarriage) cake for two men. He refused. “I’m sorry,” he told the men, “but I can’t promote messages that violate my beliefs, though I’d be happy to sell you anything else.” What did he get for his faith? He was hauled in front of a tribunal and told he must bake the cake. According to the Alliance Defending Freedom, the judge ordering the forced fondant “held that coercing Jack to participate in a same-sex ceremony did not ‘unduly abridge [his] right to the free exercise of religion.'” It was a long legal rode from there to the Supreme Court, which said it will decide whether Phillips discriminated or not. This is being interpreted as a kind of small...

Nonprofit Tracker to Remove ‘Hate Group’ Labels on Conservative Groups for ‘Time Being’

Jun 26 2017 - 4:50pm
FRC-videograb-corkins The nation's leading source of information on U.S. charities announced it will modify its use of a controversial "hate group" designation in listings for some well-known and broadly supported conservative nonprofits. "We have decided to remove the SPLC annotations from these 46 organizations for the time being," read a statement posted Friday on GuideStar's website. "This change will be implemented during the week of June 26, 2017. In the meantime, we will make this information available to any user on request." GuideStar, which calls itself a "neutral" aggregator of tax data on charities, recently incorporated the "hate group" labels produced by the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center, which inspired 41 conservative leaders to protest the move, asking GuideStar in a letter last week to remove the flagging. In an interview with The Daily Signal last week, William G. "Jerry" Boykin, a retired...

How Environmental Groups Are Responding to Trump’s ‘Solar Wall’ Pitch

Jun 26 2017 - 4:50pm
Image of a worker supervising a photovoltaic installation (ISO 100) . All my images have been processed in 16 Bits and transfer down to 8 before uploading. President Donald Trump's idea of putting solar panels on his long-promised border wall hasn't gained a lot of support among top environmental lobbying groups -- even though the organizations have long backed solar power as a key renewable energy. "The problem with talking about solar panels on Trump's border wall is that it's science fiction," Travis Nichols, a spokesman for Greenpeace, a liberal environmentalist group, told The Daily Signal. "Just like clean coal does not exist and will never exist, Trump's wall with solar panels won't exist, so it's irrelevant to discuss climate issues." A spokesman with the Sierra Club referred to a tweet storm by the Sierra Club executive director, Michael Brune, reacting to Trump's proposal for solar panels on the border wall. Trump also spoke to 1 of...

Court Partly Reinstates Trump Travel Ban, Fall Arguments Set

Jun 26 2017 - 4:50pm
In this May 15, 2017 file photo, protesters wave signs and chant during a demonstration against President Donald Trump's revised travel ban, outside a federal courthouse in Seattle. The Supreme Court is letting the Trump administration enforce its 90-day ban on travelers from six mostly Muslim countries, overturning lower court orders that blocked it. The action Monday, June 26, 2017, is a victory for President Donald Trump in the biggest legal controversy of his young presidency.<br />
 (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File) WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court is letting a limited version of the Trump administration ban on travel from six mostly Muslim countries to take effect, a victory for President Donald Trump in the biggest legal controversy of his young presidency. The court said Monday the ban on visitors from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen could be enforced as long as they lack a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” The justices will hear...

Trump Attacks Obama’s Handling of Russian Meddling

Jun 26 2017 - 4:50pm
AP17173589749657__1498494103_198.49.27.212 WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Donald Trump says investigators have “zero ‘tapes'” showing that his associates colluded with Moscow to try to influence the 2016 election. On Twitter Monday, Trump also said that President Barack Obama did “NOTHING about Russia after being notified by the CIA of meddling” because “he expected Clinton would win.” Trump added that Obama “didn’t “choke,” he colluded or obstructed.” Trump appeared to be referencing a Washington Post article about the Obama administration’s handling of Russia’s attempts to influence voters. Obama ordered a review of Russia’s actions and imposed new sanctions after the election. Trump says that after months of reviewing Russia “under a magnifying glass, they have zero ‘tapes’ of T people colluding. There is no collusion & no obstruction. I should be given apology!” The reason that President Obama did NOTHING about Russia...

Supreme Court Favors Trinity Lutheran Church 7-2 in Religious Freedom Case

Jun 26 2017 - 4:50pm
AP17177521145164__1498492996_198.49.27.212 The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of Trinity Lutheran Church Monday. Oral arguments for Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer were held in April. The case was seen as an important test regarding the future of certain rights for churches.  It began when Trinity Lutheran Church in Missouri applied for a state grant program. The church was denied despite being qualified. Missouri cited a law that state funds could not help "any church, sect, or denomination of religion." ‘Triumph’ Russell Moore called Monday’s decision a “triumph for religious freedom.” Moore leads the Southern Baptists’ Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. “All Americans should celebrate this win for the First Amendment,” he tweeted. The Trinity Lutheran SCOTUS case is a 7-2 triumph for religious freedom. All Americans should celebrate this win for the First Amendment. — Russell Moore (@drmoore)...

Everyone Wants Toilet Paper. Why Doesn’t Venezuela Have Enough?

Jun 26 2017 - 4:50pm
Venezuela Toilet Paper - 900 Americans once used corn cobs. Ow. And oyster shells. Really ow. The ancient Romans kept sponges on sticks in their public restrooms, left in salt water between users. Not ow but eeeeuw. The man who invented toilet paper, he did mankind a great good. Ask the Venezuelans. A few years ago their country had a functioning economy. People could buy food, and things like aspirin and shoes. Diabetics could get insulin. Venezuelans were set for toilet paper. Now, they can’t even get necessities like those. If they can find them, they have to pay huge amounts of money to get them. How does this happen? How It Happens For many reasons, but a big one is that bad things happen when the state tries to do what it can’t do. Command economies don’t work. Venezuela could get away with it for a while, because the country made so much money from exporting oil. It was money for jam, as my grandmother would say. But then the price of oil dropped and the country suddenly had to depend...

Supreme Court to Hear Colorado Cake Case on Baker’s Religious Freedom

Jun 26 2017 - 4:50pm
FILE — In this March 10, 2014 file photo, Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips cracks eggs into a cake batter mixer inside his store in Lakewood, Colo. The Supreme Court is taking on a new clash between gay rights and religion in a case about a wedding cake for a same-sex couple in Colorado. The justices said Monday, June 26, 2017, they will consider whether a baker who objects to same-sex marriage on religious grounds can refuse to make a wedding cake for a gay couple.  (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File) WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court is taking on a new clash between gay rights and religion in a case about a wedding cake for a same-sex couple in Colorado. The justices said Monday they will consider whether a baker who objects to same-sex marriage on religious grounds can refuse to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. The case asks the high court to balance the religious rights of the baker against the couple’s right to equal treatment under the law....

New Study of Seattle’s $15 Minimum Wage Says it Costs Jobs

Jun 26 2017 - 4:50pm
AP17177630644935__1498504268_198.49.27.212 SEATTLE (AP) -- Seattle’s $15-an-hour minimum wage law has cost the city jobs, according to a study released Monday that contradicted another new study published last week. A University of Washington team studying the law’s effects found that the law has boosted pay in low-wage jobs since it took effect in 2015, but that it also caused a 9 percent reduction in hours worked, The Seattle Times reported. For an average low-wage Seattle worker, that’s a loss of about $125 per month, the study said. “If you’re a low-skilled worker with one of those jobs, $125 a month is a sizable amount of money,” said Mark Long, one of the authors. “It can be the difference between being able to pay your rent and not being able to pay your rent.” There would be about 5,000 more low-wage jobs in the city without the law, the study estimated. Seattle was one of the first U.S. cities to adopt a $15 minimum...

Planned Parenthood Was Jon Ossoff’s Death Star

Jun 26 2017 - 4:50pm
Jon Ossoff Concession Speech Wave - 900 There are many lessons Democrats should learn from Jon Ossoff's expensive flame-out. (And they probably won't.) But the most important might be this: Cozying up to Planned Parenthood is a great way to lose.  Let's start by myth-busting. Whatever the Democrats said, Georgia's Sixth District was not solidly Republican. Susan B. Anthony List's political consultant Frank Cannon says: “Let's not rewrite the narrative now that it's inconvenient for the Democrats. This was not a deep red district that returned to its roots. The Democrats were attempting to flip a suburban district. One where Trump was far less popular than in most Republican districts. On paper, it should have worked." The former incumbent Tom Price used to win it by very large margins. That's largely because the Democrats never contested it. Hillary Clinton came close to carrying it, losing by only 1.5 percent. It was an open seat. The district is...

Religious Liberty Wins Big at the Supreme Court

Jun 26 2017 - 4:50pm
religious liberty supreme court A big win today for religious liberty from the Supreme Court. In a sweeping 7-2 decision, the Supreme Court upheld the First Amendment. The case was Trinity Lutheran v. Comer. Missouri offered recycled tires to schools for safer playgrounds. Missouri said that Trinity Lutheran School couldn't even have used tires. Why? Because it is run by a church. Keeping kids safe doesn't spread the Gospel. There is no "compelling state interest" in leaving religious school playgrounds more dangerous than public ones. Chief Justice John Roberts knew what to think about banning an ordinary public benefit like safety equipment from a school just because it's Christian. He called it "odious to our Constitution." Here's a second piece of (maybe) good news. The Court today decided to hear Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Colorado fined baker Jack Phillips for refusing to decorate a gay wedding cake. Mississippi’s Religious Freedom Act A third piece of good news from the lower...

Trying to Make Sense of the Philando Castile Case

Jun 25 2017 - 4:50pm
AP17171785212447__1498339202_47.189.23.214 As a black man who studies racial issues, I think a lot about our racial controversies. For example, I believe the civil rights movement makes too much of individual shooting cases. The Michael Brown shooting, for example, has been lifted up as a tremendous example of misuse of police power, but the evidence that it was an unjust shooting is lacking. There really are unjustified shootings, but still it seems problematic to focus on those individual situations, when we should be looking at police wrongdoing (where it exists, which it does in too many places) on a more systemic level instead. Castile Obeyed Orders, But Still Died But the 2016 Philando Castile case in suburban St. Paul, Minnesota has struck me in a way the others have not. As David French has argued, and dashcam video evidence supports, Castile informed the cop he had a gun and a license for it. The cop (Jeronimo Yanez)...

This School Board Leader Tried to Rig a Public Forum in Favor of Transgender Advocates. That’s Unconstitutional.

Jun 25 2017 - 4:50pm
University students study in a classroom with male lecturer Stacking the deck at the casino makes for bad feelings among friends. Things get more serious when you're a government official stacking the deck at public forums with speakers in favor of your personal political views. That not only makes for bad public policy -- it violates the First Amendment. The Prince William County Virginia School Board convened last Wednesday to vote on a proposed rule that would undermine the principle of student privacy between the sexes. It would have laid the groundwork for opening up sex-specific locker rooms, showers, and other private facilities to members of the opposite sex. Many parents have legitimate convictions that maleness and femaleness are essential biological, anatomical attributes, and they would like to openly defend the policy of maintaining privacy between the sexes, despite the claims of gender identity advocates. Nonetheless, before...

Freedom: Remembering Humboldt’s Wisdom

Jun 25 2017 - 4:50pm
5107090064_3b9323e9f9_b (1) American politics seems to have moved beyond the foundational principles of what a government that exists for the good of its citizens can and cannot do. That leaves Americans far from what once defined America. For instance, James Madison, "the father of the Constitution," wrote that "I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents," yet the dissonance between those words and our ubiquitous government could hardly be greater. It is long past time to return to those foundational principles. “A state seeking to provide for more … will inevitably destroy … freedom.”  A valuable source of understanding comes from one of Madison's contemporaries, unfortunately, overlooked in America today -- Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767 - 1835). Philosopher,...

Overturned Tanker Explodes in Pakistan, Killing at Least 148

Jun 25 2017 - 4:50pm
In this image taken from video, black smoke rises from oil tanker on road in Bahawalpur, Pakistan, Sunday, June 25, 2017. An overturned oil tanker burst into flames in Pakistan on Sunday, killing people who had rushed to the scene of the highway accident to gather leaking fuel, an official said. (AAJ News via AP Video) BAHAWALPUR, Pakistan (AP) -- An overturned oil tanker burst into flames in Pakistan on Sunday, killing 148 people who had rushed to the scene of the highway accident to gather leaking fuel, an official said. The death toll could rise further as another 50 people are still in critical condition, said Dr. Mohammad Baqar, a senior rescue official in the area. There were dozens of other injuries of varying degree, he said. Local news channels showed black smoke billowing skyward and scores of burned bodies, as well as rescue officials speeding the injured to hospital and army helicopters ferrying the wounded. Saznoor Ahmad, 30, whose two cousins were killed...

New Poll Shows Americans Do Not Want the Debt Ceiling to Be Raised

Jun 25 2017 - 4:50pm
13270111174_c0cab770f7_k A large number of Americans across the political spectrum have come to an agreement on one thing: Congress should not raise the debt ceiling. According to the Morning Consult, a joint poll between the Morning Consult and Politico was taken between June 15 and 19, asking, "Do you believe that Congress should or should not raise the debt ceiling, the amount of money the U.S. government can legally borrow?" The debt ceiling, as stated by the Department of the Treasury, is the total amount of money the government is authorized to borrow to fulfill its existing legal obligations. It does not raise the total amount of money the government is authorized to spend. Results of the poll indicate that a majority of Americans do not want the debt ceiling to be raised. However, the Department of the Treasury states that not raising the debt ceiling would lead the government to defaulting on...

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