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Watch: Hollywood star Jim Carrey delivers incredible speech about forgiveness, grace and Jesus

July 25, 2017 Leave a comment

A video showing actor and comedian Jim Carrey giving a remarkable speech about faith and forgiveness to former convicts is garnering significant attention.

Carrey delivered the remarks in June to Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles. According to its website, Homeboy Industries “provides hope, training, and support to formerly gang-involved and previously incarcerated men and women allowing them to redirect their lives and become contributing members of our community.” More than 10,000 former gang members use Homeboy Industries every year.

“You are heroes to me, and I admire you,” Carrey said to the crowd at Homeboy Industries. “When you stepped through these doors, you decided to be a part of this family. You made a decision to transcend and to leave darkness behind, and it takes a champion to make that decision.”

Citing “challenges” he’s faced, Carrey told the audience “suffering leads to salvation.”

“Ultimately, I believe that suffering leads to salvation. In fact, it’s the only way,” Carrey said. “We have to somehow accept, not deny, but feel our suffering and feel our losses. And then we make one of two decisions: We either decide to go through the gate of resentment, which leads to vengeance, which leads to self-harm, which leads to harm to others. Or we go through the gate of forgiveness, which leads to grace.”

“Your being here is an indication that you’ve made that decision already,” Carrey added. “You’ve made the decision to walk through the gate of forgiveness, to grace—just as Christ did on the cross. He suffered terribly and was broken by it, to the point of doubt and a feeling of absolute abandonment, which all of you have felt. And then there was a decision to be made, and the decision was to look upon the people who were causing that suffering, or the situation that was causing that suffering, with compassion and with forgiveness. And that’s what opens the gates to heaven for all of us.”

 

Report: Bill O’Reilly has big future plans that include doing TV — and he wants Hannity to join him

July 25, 2017 Leave a comment

Former Fox News star Bill O’Reilly is reportedly talking to longtime Fox host Sean Hannity about teaming up to bring their storied success to a new television network.

According to New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman, who is one of the most connected journalists covering Fox News, O’Reilly is in talks with Hannity to join Sinclair Broadcasting, a conservative-leaning news network that has a massive reach.

Sherman explained the possibility Sunday morning on Joy Reid’s MSNBC show. Sherman is an MSNBC contributor.

“My sources in and around Fox say that [Hannity] and Bill O’Reilly are potentially in talks to take their shows to Sinclair,” Sherman said. “Bill O’Reilly has wanted to get back into the game.”

“So Sinclair has really wants to build the future of a conservative media empire and poaching Fox’s biggest names would help them do that,” he explained. “This, again, is the groundwork for what I think will be the next conservative media platform in the post-Roger Ailes era.”

Sherman followed up his MSNBC appearance with two weeks reiterating his on-air comments. He also added that O’Reilly has been in talks with Newsmax TV:

However, Sherman wrote on Twitter that he is “skeptical” of an O’Reilly-Hannity alliance because they’ve not been the best of friends over the years:

O’Reilly was fired from Fox in April over allegations that he sexually harassed women while at Fox News. O’Reilly settled with the woman out of court, not because he was guilty, but because he wanted the allegations to go away, he later said.

Since his departure from Fox, where he dominated cable news television for years, many have questioned where O’Reilly would end up. O’Reilly has said he’s still interested in doing television. Meanwhile, he hosts a podcast on his website, BillOReilly.com, and joins Glenn Beck on his radio program each Friday. O’Reilly has even hinted at the possibility of doing an in-house television program.

As far as Hannity, it appears all is well with him at Fox. He currently has some of the best ratings on the network and is thriving with President Donald Trump in office. However, since the departure of Roger Ailes’ and Bill Shine from Fox, questions have been raised over Hannity’s future at the network given that Rupert Murdoch’s sons, James and Lachlan, are now running the day-to-day operations.

It remains to be seen what will happen with the future of conservative media, but wherever O’Reilly and Hannity end up, it’s clear they will have very large audiences as they have cultivated millions of loyal followers over the years.

 

NY Times explains why they published name of undercover CIA agent — it does not go over well

July 25, 2017 Leave a comment

The New York Times came under fire on social media over the weekend after they explained why they recently published a news story revealing the identity of a CIA officer embedded in the Middle East.

CIA director Mike Pompeo last week criticized the Times after they published the name of a CIA officer who was tapped to run the agency’s Iran operations. According to the CIA, the officer was working undercover, which made the name publication an “unconscionable” decision, Pompeo said.

When the Times initially reached out to the intelligence agency for comment, the CIA even advised the Times not to publish the agent’s name, citing the fact that he was working in a covert fashion. According to the Times, they “take care not to put national security or lives in danger, and we take that concern very seriously.”

However, they chose to publish the name anyway in a June 2 news story.

The newspaper explained:

In this case, editors decided to publish the name because [the agent] is a senior official who runs operations from the agency’s headquarters outside Washington, not in the field. He is also the architect of the C.I.A.’s program to use drones to kill high-ranking militants, one of the government’s most significant paramilitary programs. We believe that the American public has a right to know who is making life-or-death decisions in its name.

It was also not the first time that [the agent’s] name has been mentioned in our newspaper. After his identity was disclosed in a 2015 article, The Times’s executive editor, Dean Baquet, discussed the rationale in an interview with Lawfare, a website that covers national security law, and gave more insight into editors’ decision-making.

The explanation was published in the paper’s “Resource Center,” which the paper dubs “a newsroom initiative that is helping The Times build deeper ties with our audience.”

While the explanation was an exercise in transparency, people were not satisfied with their reasoning. Needless to say, it did not go over well: FULL STORY

15 people detained at West side home, believed to be human trafficking victims

July 25, 2017 Leave a comment

Sources say 15 people were detained at a home located at the 100 block of Westhaven Place on the West Side Sunday evening. Law enforcement sources tell us that those detained are believed to be human trafficking victims, although authorities say they do not believe the 15 are connected with the scene where dozens of people were found crammed in a tractor-trailer early Sunday morning. Some were reportedly just in their undergarments.

Our cameras arrived to the scene shortly after the people were taken into custody.

Police and Homeland Security Investigations responded to the scene. Our sources say all were taken to Homeland Security Investigations for questioning.

People familiar with the area say it’s normally quiet, but they did hear some commotion Saturday night.

They say this ordeal is frightening.

“When we found out – it was crazy because we didn’t have no idea that nobody even lived at that house, so finding out that there was like people here hiding — like it was crazy!” one neighbor told us.

Neighbors say authorities told them one of the vehicles towed away Sunday afternoon was reported as stolen.

Authorities are still investigating all of the pieces of this case.

Republicans are in full control of government — but losing control of their party

July 25, 2017 Leave a comment

Six months after seizing complete control of the federal government, the Republican Party stands divided as ever — plunged into a messy war among its factions that has escalated in recent weeks to crisis levels.

Frustrated lawmakers are increasingly sounding off at a White House awash in turmoil and struggling to accomplish its legislative goals. President Trump is scolding Republican senators over health care and even threatening electoral retribution. Congressional leaders are losing the confidence of their rank and file. And some major GOP donors are considering using their wealth to try to force out recalcitrant incumbents.

“It’s a lot of tribes within one party, with many agendas, trying to do what they want to do,” Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) said in an interview.

The intensifying fights threaten to derail efforts to overhaul the nation’s tax laws and other initiatives that GOP leaders hope will put them back on track. The party remains bogged down by a months-long health-care endeavor that still lacks the support to become law, although Senate GOP leaders plan to vote on it this week.

With his priorities stalled and Trump consumed by staff changes and investigations into Russian interference in last year’s election, Republicans are adding fuel to a political fire that is showing no signs of burning out. The conflict also heralds a potentially messy 2018 midterm campaign with fierce intra-party clashes that could draw resources away from fending off Democrats.

“It’s very sad that Republicans, even some that were carried over the line on my back, do very little to protect their President,” Trump wrote on Twitter Sunday afternoon, marking the latest sign of the president’s uneasy relationship with his own party.

Winning control of both chambers and the White House has done little to fill in the deep and politically damaging ideological fault lines that plagued the GOP during Barack Obama’s presidency and ripped the party apart during the 2016 presidential primary. Now, Republicans have even more to lose.

“In the 50 years I’ve been involved, Republicans have yet to figure out how to support each other,” said R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr., the founder of the American Spectator, a conservative magazine.

On Capitol Hill, Republicans are increasingly concerned that Trump has shown no signs of being able to calm the party. What Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) called the “daily drama” at the White House flared again last week when Trump shook up his communications staff and told the New York Times that he regretted picking Jeff Sessions to be his attorney general.

“This week was supposed to be ‘Made in America Week’ and we were talking about Attorney General Jeff Sessions,” Dent grumbled in a telephone interview Thursday, citing White House messaging campaigns that were overshadowed by the controversies.

As Trump dealt with continued conflicts among his staff — which culminated Friday in press secretary Sean Spicer resigning in protest after wealthy financier Anthony Scaramucci was named communications director — he set out to try to resolve the Senate Republican impasse over health care.

The president had a small group of Republican senators over for dinner last Monday night to talk about the issue. But the discussion veered to other subjects, including Trump’s trip to Paris and the Senate’s 60-vote threshold for most legislation, which Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said he will not end. That didn’t stop Trump from wondering aloud about its usefulness.

“He asked the question, ‘Why should we keep it’?” recalled Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), who attended the dinner.

Two days later, some Republican senators left a White House lunch confused about what Trump was asking them to do on health care. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said the next day that while the president “made very clear” that “he wants to see a bill pass, I’m unclear, having heard the president and read his tweets, exactly which bill he wants to pass.”

The White House says the president prefers to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. McConnell has also raised the prospect of moving to only repeal the law. Neither option has enough votes. Nevertheless, McConnell plans to hold a vote early this week and bring the push to fulfill a seven-year campaign promise to its conclusion, one way or the other.

“One of the things that united our party has been the pledge to repeal Obamacare since the 2010 election cycle,” said White House legislative affairs director Marc Short. “So when we complete that, I think that will help to unite” the party.

Trump’s allies on Capitol Hill have described the dynamic between the White House and GOP lawmakers as a “disconnect” between Republicans who are still finding it difficult to accept that he is the leader of the party that they have long controlled.

“The disconnect is between a president who was elected from outside the Washington bubble and people in Congress who are of the Washington bubble,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.), who works closely with the White House. “I don’t think some people in the Senate understand the mandate that Donald Trump’s election represented.”

Trump issued a casual threat at the Wednesday lunch against Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), who has not embraced McConnell’s health-care bill. “Look, he wants to remain a senator, doesn’t he?” Trump said in front of a pack of reporters as Heller, sitting directly to his right, grinned through the uncomfortable moment.

Heller is up for reelection in a state that Trump lost to Hillary Clinton and where Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) was the first Republican to expanded Medicaid under the ACA. Heller later brushed the moment off as “President Trump being President Trump.”

But some donors say they are weighing whether to financially back primary challengers against Republican lawmakers unwilling to support Trump’s aims.

“Absolutely we should be thinking about that,” said Frank VanderSloot, a billionaire chief executive of an Idaho nutritional-supplement company. He bemoaned the “lack of courage” some lawmakers have shown and wished representatives would “have the guts” to vote the way they said they would on the campaign trail.

It’s not just the gulf between Trump and Republican senators that has strained relations during the health-care debate. The way McConnell and his top deputies have handled the legislation has drawn sharp criticism from some GOP senators.

“No,” said Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), when asked last week whether he was happy with the way leadership has navigated the talks.

As he stepped into a Senate office building elevator the same day, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) would not respond to reporter questions about how good a job McConnell has done managing the health-care push. He flashed a smile as the door closed.

McConnell has defended his strategy, saying the process has been open to Republican senators, who have discussed it in many lunches and smaller meetings. Still, when it came time to write the bill, it was only McConnell and a small group of aides who did it. There was no outreach at all to Democrats, who have been united in their opposition.

In the House, the prospect of passing a 2018 budget this summer and a spending bill with funding for the Mexican border wall that Trump has called for remain uncertain, even though Republicans have a sizeable majority in the chamber. GOP disagreements have continued to erupt during Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s (R-Wis.) tenure. There are also obstacles in both chambers to achieving tax reform, which is expected to be among the next significant GOP legislative undertakings.

Trump critics said the ongoing controversies over Russian interference in the 2016 election and probes into potential coordination with the president’s associates would make any improvement in relations all but impossible in the coming months, with many Republicans unsure whether Trump’s presidency will survive.

“The Russia stories never stop coming,” said Rick Wilson, a vocal anti-Trump consultant and GOP operative. “For Republicans, the stories never get better, either. There is no moment of clarity or admission.”

Wilson said Republicans are also starting to doubt whether “the bargain they made — that they can endure Trump in order to pass X or Y” — can hold. “After a while, nothing really works and it becomes a train wreck.”

Roger Stone, a longtime Trump associate, said Trump’s battles with Republicans are unlikely to end and are entirely predictable, based on what Trump’s victory signified.

“His nomination and election were a hostile takeover of the vehicle of the Republican Party,” Stone said. He added, “When you talk to some Republicans who oppose Trump, they say they will keep opposing him but can’t openly say it.”

Some Republican lawmakers have been pained to talk about the president publicly, fearful of aggressively challenging their party leader but also wary of aligning too closely with some of his controversial statements or policy positions. Instead, they often attempt to focus on areas where they agree.

“On foreign policy, I think he very much is involved in a direction that’s far more in alignment since he’s been elected with a bulk of the United States Senate than during the campaign,” said Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.

Amid the discord, there are some signs of collaboration. The Republican National Committee has worked to build ties to Trump and his family. In recent weeks, Trump’s son Eric, his wife, Lara, and RNC chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel, among other committee officials, met at the Trump International Hotel in Washington to discuss upcoming races and strategy.

That meeting followed a similar gathering weeks earlier at the RNC where Trump family members were welcomed to share their suggestions, according two people familiar with the sessions who were not authorized to speak publicly.

Yet the friction keeps building. Among Trump’s defenders, such as VanderSloot, who said the president is “trying to move the ball forward,” there are concerns he is picking too many fights with too many people. “I think he’s trying to swat too many flies,” VanderSloot said.

The broader burden, some Republicans say, is to overcome a dynamic of disunity in the party that predates Trump and the current Congress. During the Obama years, it took the form of tea party-vs.-establishment struggles, which in some cases cost Republicans seats or led them to wage risky political feuds.

“There was a separation between Republicanism and conservatism long before he won the White House,” said former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele. “The glue has been coming apart since Reagan.”

Kelsey Snell contributed to this report.

Black Lives Matter Activist Guns Down 7 Year Old Selling Lemonade

July 24, 2017 Leave a comment

Residents in the North Austin neighbourhood of Chicago say that a black lives matter activist gunned down a 7-year-old girl selling lemonade outside of her home.

Just one day after a gunmen killed Heaven Sutton, 7, while she was with her mother and other members of her family outside of their home, Rev. Ira Acree of the Leaders Network ministry is demanding that the organization turn over the killer.

CBS Chicago reports: “She’s an innocent seven-year-old,” Acree said, saying the girl had to try to dodge bullets as if she were in Afghanistan or the Wild West of the 1800s. “It’s horrific.”

Acree said the shooting had struck a nerve, and he said he hopes that someone who knows comes forward with the information without being prompted by the cash.

“You never know what kind of baggage might be associated with other cases, but come on. What can a 7-year-old baby be doing?” he said.

Heaven had told her mother, Ashake Banks, 38, that she wanted to move out of North Austin – which the family had called home for six months – because of all the violence in the area.

She had just gotten her hair done for a trip to Disney World that had been planned for next month, and was outside with her mother as they sold lemonade, candy and snacks under a canopy set up in front of their home. Two men opened fire around 10:40 p.m. Wednesday, and Heaven was struck in the chest.

“I had just called Heaven. She was sitting right next to me on my shoulder. Just laying on my shoulder,” Banks said Thursday.

Banks described the horrific sight of seeing her young daughter lying dead.

“For her to die like this – 7 years old, lying on a slab cold, her eyes just open, blood coming out her nose – I just want him to turn himself in. That’s all that I ask of him. And I’m asking for Chicago to help me,” she said.

The shooting also wounded a 19-year-old man in the ankle. That victim is recovering.

The fatal gunshot was fired by a gangbanger who was aiming at a rival who apparently had stopped to buy lemonade.

Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said detectives know which gangs were involved in the shooting, and said he expects them to wrap up the investigation quickly.

Dick Cheney Responsible For Poisoning Thousands Of US Troops

July 24, 2017 1 comment

Despite Dick Cheney poisoning and killing thousands of U.S. soldiers in Iraq, a court has cleared the former Vice President of any wrongdoing.

A federal judge in Maryland just dismissed a number of important lawsuits against one of Cheney’s corporations, Kellog, Brown, and Root (KBR).

According to the lawsuit, KBR allowed open burn pits to operate in Iraq, which left troops sick and dying as a result.

Thefreethoughtproject.com reports: KBR, which was a part of Dick Cheney’s corporate empire under Halliburton at the time, operated about 250 burn pits which contributed to the $40 billion that Halliburton made during the Iraq occupation. “Every type of waste imaginable” was burned, including “tires, lithium batteries, asbestos insulation, pesticide containers, Styrofoam, metals, paints, plastic, medical waste and even human corpses.”

The families have been seeking compensation for the deaths and suffering of their loved ones since 2009 and this week a federal judge crushed their hopes.

As Courthouse News reports:

The complaints all made the same basic claims – that KBR ran massive burn pits at operating bases in Afghanistan and Iraq into which its employees dumped tires, trucks and even medical waste.

The resulting towers of smoke left the soldiers on the bases with chronic respiratory and gastrointestinal illnesses, as did the contractor’s alleged failure to provide clean water to troops on the ground, according to a class-action complaint filed in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland by Alan Metzgar and Paul Parker in 2009.

The massive litigation survived KBR’s initial motion to dismiss and U.S. District Judge Roger Titus even granted limited discovery in the case in 2010 before he eventually granted another one of KBR’s motions to dismiss the case in 2013.

Last Friday, KBR asked the federal court to toss out the multidistrict litigations, noting that the court does not have jurisdiction over military battlefield decisions. And, this week, the company finally got what they wanted as the judge listened to them and tossed it out.

KBR’s defense consists of passing the buck by saying it only operated those burn pits to dispose of trash under the direct control of the U.S. military, which it argues made a battlefield decision to order the use of the pits.

However, the plaintiffs in the case argued that KBR’s agreements with the government gave it the freedom to consider how to carry out their required tasks. But, sadly, the judge wanted nothing of it, in spite of acknowledging there is “some evidence” that KBR had a certain amount of control over the burn pits.

To be clear here, the burn pits are both the fault of KBR and the US government and both should be held liable for the damage they caused. However, it appears, that this will not happen.

Also, it is important to note that because he held the position as the Vice President of the United States as well as his ownership in KBR’s parent company Halliburton, Dick Cheney was representing both the US government and the private company.

According to CNS, Baltimore attorney Susan Burke, who represents the plaintiffs in the case, said in an email to Courthouse News that her clients will be appealing the decision.

As Justin Gardner wrote last year for TFTP, just as the U.S. laid waste to Vietnam’s human health and jungle environment with Agent Orange, it wrecked human health and environmental quality in Iraq. That country will suffer from this toxicity for decades, as evidenced by sharp increases in birth defects and cancer and leukemia rates.

Likewise, U.S. veterans and their families are bearing the brunt of this travesty.

A book by Joseph Hickman, a former U.S. Marine and Army sergeant, titled “The Burn Pits: The Poisoning of America’s Soldiers” details the story of a healthy young soldier sent to Iraq who was constantly exposed to smoke from burn pits. When he returned home with respiratory problems, the Veterans Administration (VA) denied him care, and he later developed brain cancer and died.

Those who do survive are having children with birth defects at a rate three times higher than normal, according to the book. The denial of medical coverage by the VA for burn pit-related illnesses is a central strategy in denying that burn pits even posed a health hazard.

Beau Biden, the son of vice president Joe Biden, died of brain cancer after serving in Iraq in the vicinity of burn pits. Even this tragedy, which is similar to many stories of exposure and death, never brought attention to the issue of burn pits.

Salon interviewed author Joseph Hickman at the time, who provided even more shocking details, and how the Department of Defense (DoD) does all it can to keep this knowledge from the public.

“I think the Department of Defense does its best to squash this story and so does Veterans Affairs. They really don’t want this out at all.”

Hickman interviewed one former KBR employee who was very reluctant to even talk about burn pits for fear of repercussions, as he was harassed by KBR when he previously came forward about the issue. By using private contractors for such operations, the DoD facilitates these egregious assaults on human and environmental health because contractors are not held to the standards of the military.

This dependency on contractors feeds their tendency for carelessness. According to Hickman, the upper management of KBR said at one point, “If they’re going to investigate us over these burn pits, don’t worry about it. If we pull out, they can’t run this base.”

That was then, this is now and apparently, the same rules still apply.

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