HARVARD STUDY: NO CORRELATION BETWEEN GUN CONTROL AND LESS VIOLENT CRIME

HARVARD STUDY: NO CORRELATION BETWEEN GUN CONTROL AND LESS VIOLENT CRIME

A Harvard Study titled “Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide?” looks at figures for “intentional deaths” throughout continental Europe and juxtaposes them with the U.S. to show that more gun control does not necessarily lead to lower death rates or violent crime.

Because the findings so clearly demonstrate that more gun laws may in fact increase death rates, the study says that “the mantra that more guns mean more deaths and that fewer guns, therefore, mean fewer deaths” is wrong.

For example, when the study shows numbers for Eastern European gun ownership and corresponding murder rates, it is readily apparent that less guns to do not mean less death. In Russia, where the rate of gun ownership is 4,000 per 100,000 inhabitants, the murder rate was 20.52 per 100,000 in 2002. That same year in Finland, where the rater of gun ownership is exceedingly higher–39,000 per 100,000–the murder rate was almost nill, at 1.98 per 100,000.

Looking at Western Europe, the study shows that Norway “has far and away Western Europe’s highest household gun ownership rate (32%), but also its lowest murder rate.”

And when the study focuses on intentional deaths by looking at the U.S. vs Continental Europe, the findings are no less revealing. The U.S., which is so often labeled as the most violent nation in the world by gun control proponents, comes in 7th–behind Russia, Estonia, Lativa, Lithuania, Belarus, and the Ukraine–in murders. America also only ranks 22nd in suicides.

The murder rate in Russia, where handguns are banned, is 30.6; the rate in the U.S. is 7.8.

The authors of the study conclude that the burden of proof rests on those who claim more guns equal more death and violent crime; such proponents should “at the very least [be able] to show a large number of nations with more guns have more death and that nations that impose stringent gun controls have achieved substantial reductions in criminal violence (or suicide).” But after intense study the authors conclude “those correlations are not observed when a large number of nations are compared around the world.”

In fact, the numbers presented in the Harvard study support the contention that among the nations studied, those with more gun control tend toward higher death rates.

Hitler and Hypergrace

hypergrace blog insert

 

 

The Brand of Christianity that is popular today is the same brand that pervaded Germany when Hitler came to power.

When Detrick Bonhoeffer, the famed German Pastor and theologian asked how Hitler came to power, he did not cite the bad economy, the rise of hate, or even Hitler’s towering oratory.   He blamed cheap grace in the German church.

Here is what cheap grace did in Germany:

1. It made it unpopular to question Hitler’s actions.  He was in power because of God.  To question his actions was to question God’s will.  Ministers who criticized Hitler were rejected. Instead of taking action they were taught to say their prayers.

2. They became absorbed in private spiritual experiences, so they looked the other way.  They looked the other way as their constitution was dismantled; as their rights and freedoms were taken away, and even as Jews were herded into concentration camps.   Since God was with them, they had no opinion on anything that did not directly affect them.

3.  Even when they did see the wrongs done by their leader it was acceptable because of the good they thought he was doing for the country.   Basking in their perception of God’s goodness, they felt the end justified the means.   Cheap grace dulled them so that they could see no contradiction between their faith and the monstrous deeds of their Chancellor.

Hitler and our hypergrace: It is not a coincidence that the brand of Christianity that is popular today is the same brand that pervaded Germany when Hitler came to power.   Bonhoeffer called it cheap grace but today we know it as hypergrace.   Hypergrace has appeared now by design.  Satan used this tactic before so why wouldn’t he use it again?

Recently, a high profile leader was restored to the pulpit after a short time.  He had an affair that lasted for 5 years, agreed to a two year restoration but then the church changed its mind because of finances and brought him back after only 9 months.

A leading Christian magazine blamed hypergrace and said, “Clearly, there’s a strong disagreement among well-known leaders in the body of Christ over whether this man should have been released back into public ministry so quickly. In an age of the hypergrace movement—which is full of dangerous errors, such as denying the need for true repentance—re-ordaining a man who admitted to a four-year affair after less than a year smacks of grace wrongly applied.”

There may be “strong disagreement among well-known leaders in the Body of Christ,” but the general reaction by American Christians is a shrug.  They are shrugging at a lot of things…especially the destruction of our nation.  Hypergrace dulls Christians in America to natural outrage.

The leading teacher of hypergrace believes that 1 John 1:9, which says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,”   does not apply to Christians but to unbelievers.   In other words, God’s grace does not want repentance from us. Hypergrace turns God into an abused husband who not only does not want repentance from his wife but is in fact offended when she apologizes to Him about her sin.

Our constitution is being dismantled.  Our personal freedoms are being taken away.  A torrent of immorality has swept away the America we once knew.  At the very time that the Body of Christ should be alert, unified and on the attack she is in a stupor.  Here is how hypergrace is affecting us.

protest

1. Hypergrace points our outrage away from where it rightfully belongs. 

Instead of rising up with one mighty voice to oppose the forces that cost us marriage, privacy, prosperity, safety and freedom we turn our wrath on ministers who are brave enough to speak out.

It is ironic on so many levels to hear Christians tell preachers “get off this political stuff and just preach the Gospel!”   First of all, if we do not take action against Obama and the runaway Democratic Party it will be illegal to preach the Gospel in America and in fact, in many ways it is illegal now.

Second of all, there is nothing more political than to avoid a confrontation with evil because you will lose members or because you don’t want to get involved.

Hypergrace creates Christians who are illiterate. They do not know their Bible, The Bill of Rights, history or current events.  The root of this illiteracy is the delusion that they do not need to know.

It is alarming to see them sit back and watch our government violate the Constitution simply because they have no clue about what life is going to look like in America once we lose this irreplaceable document.

A strong case can be made that we have already lost the first 4 Amendments of the Constitution.  Benghazi is proof that the White House does not answer to the Constitution.  4 Americans are dead and all demands for an explanation have been ignored.  A filmmaker was imprisoned for making a film that had nothing to do with Benghazi.  The IRS was a tool to manipulate an election and continues to attack Christians and those who oppose Obama’s policies.  The NSA is spying on us right now.  Pastors are subject to arrest for merely being Biblical.

obama-tearing-constitution

Hypergrace wants to hear a consoling message even when it is a lie.

There are many that simply wish pastors would keep preaching a rosy message.   Millions of American Christians will shower success and accolades on those who will stand in pulpits and soothe their guilty conscience.

In the story of Scrooge the ghost of Jacob Marley delivers a terrifyingly inconvenient truth to Scrooge.  Scrooge in return begs for a comforting word: “ ‘Jacob,’ he said, imploringly. ‘Old Jacob Marley, tell me more. Speak comfort to me, Jacob.’

 ‘I have none to give,’ the Ghost replied. ‘It comes from other regions, Ebenezer Scrooge, and is conveyed by other ministers, to other kinds of men. 

The words of grace of comfort do not belong to carnal Christians and is not to be preached by compromised ministers.   The Grace and Comfort we seek belongs to the broken vessel contending to obey and be used of God in a dark and dangerous world.

If some of the popular T.V. ministers of today had been the Captain of the Titanic they would have announced to the passengers on that fateful night, “don’t worry, we stopped to get ice!”

So what shall we do and how will the story of America end.  If we do not turn from lukewarm faith we are done.   However, there is a force for God that is rising!   God will bring correction and yes, judgment on America…by conviction is that in the end we will be mercifully restored!

Lightning Strikes Oak Tree

Chronicles 36:15, 16 says, “And the LORD God of their fathers sent warnings to them by His messengers, rising up early and sending them, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. 16 But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against His people, till there was no remedy”  Is America now a land without a remedy?

After much prayer and study God has settled the matter in my heart and it is my honor to humbly pass on to you what the Holy Spirit has revealed to me.   What is going on here is a strange form of judgment.   Heed my words!  What we are seeing is a surgical strike that will leave some desolate, but the righteous will be fully protected.  It is a preemptive strike meant to restore our Christian roots.  In fact I now know that this recession which is judgment on some will come out to the greater good of the righteous and that we can expect an unintended consequence: REVIVAL and a return to the core values that once made this nation great!

You see this selective judgment in Isaiah 3:10, and 11, “Say to the righteous that it shall be well with them, for they shall eat the fruit of their doings.  Woe to the wicked! It shall be ill with him, for the reward of his hands shall be given him.”  Furthermore, Isaiah describes a time of simultaneous wrath and blessing: Isaiah 60:1-3 “Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you.  For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; But the LORD will arise over you, And His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.”

new signature

 

Obama’s unconstitutional steps worse than Nixon’s

obama-tearing-constitution
George F. Will
George F. Will
Opinion Writer

Obama’s unconstitutional steps worse than Nixon’s

By , Published: August 14 E-mail the writer

President Obama’s increasingly grandiose claims for presidential power are inversely proportional to his shriveling presidency. Desperation fuels arrogance as, barely 200 days into the 1,462 days of his second term, his pantry of excuses for failure is bare, his domestic agenda is nonexistent and his foreign policy of empty rhetorical deadlines and red lines is floundering. And at last week’s news conference he offered inconvenience as a justification for illegality.Explaining his decision to unilaterally rewrite the Affordable Care Act (ACA), he said: “I didn’t simply choose to” ignore the statutory requirement for beginning in 2014 the employer mandate to provide employees with health care. No, “this was in consultation with businesses.”
He continued: “In a normal political environment, it would have been easier for me to simply call up the speaker and say, you know what, this is a tweak that doesn’t go to the essence of the law. . . . It looks like there may be some better ways to do this, let’s make a technical change to the law. That would be the normal thing that I would prefer to do. But we’re not in a normal atmosphere around here when it comes to Obamacare. We did have the executive authority to do so, and we did so.”
Serving as props in the scripted charade of White House news conferences, journalists did not ask the pertinent question: “Wheredoes the Constitution confer upon presidents the ‘executive authority’ to ignore the separation of powers by revising laws?” The question could have elicited an Obama rarity: brevity. Because there is no such authority.Obama’s explanation began with an irrelevancy. He consulted with businesses before disregarding his constitutional dutyto “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” That duty does not lapse when a president decides Washington’s “political environment” is not “normal.”When was it “normal”? The 1850s? The 1950s? Washington has been the nation’s capital for 213 years; Obama has been here less than nine. Even if he understood “normal” political environments here, the Constitution is not suspended when a president decides the “environment” is abnormal.Neither does the Constitution confer on presidents the power to rewrite laws if they decide the change is a “tweak” not involving the law’s “essence.” Anyway, the employer mandate is essential to the ACA.Twenty-three days before his news conference, the House voted 264 to 161, with 35 Democrats in the majority, for the rule of law — for, that is, the Authority for Mandate Delay Act. It would have done lawfully what Obama did by ukase. Hethreatened to veto this use of legislation to alter a law. The White House called it “unnecessary,” presumably because he has an uncircumscribed “executive authority” to alter laws.In a 1977 interview with Richard Nixon, David Frost asked: “Would you say that there are certain situations . . . where the president can decide that it’s in the best interests of the nation . . . and do something illegal?”Nixon: “Well, when the president does it, that means it is not illegal.”

Frost: “By definition.”

Nixon: “Exactly, exactly.”

Nixon’s claim, although constitutionally grotesque, was less so than the claim implicit in Obama’s actions regarding the ACA. Nixon’s claim was confined to matters of national security or (he said to Frost) “a threat to internal peace and order of significant magnitude.” Obama’s audacity is more spacious; it encompasses a right to disregard any portion of any law pertaining to any subject at any time when the political “environment” is difficult.

Obama should be embarrassed that, by ignoring the legal requirement concerning the employer mandate, he has validated critics who say the ACA cannot be implemented as written. What does not embarrass him is his complicity in effectively rewriting the ACA for the financial advantage of self-dealing members of Congress and their staffs.

The ACA says members of Congress (annual salaries: $174,000) and their staffs (thousands making more than $100,000) must participate in the law’s insurance exchanges. It does not say that when this change goes into effect, the current federal subsidy for this affluent cohort — up to 75 percent of the premium’s cost, perhaps $10,000 for families — should be unchanged.

When Congress awakened to what it enacted, it panicked: This could cause a flight of talent, making Congress less wonderful. So Obama directed the Office of Personnel Management, which has no power to do this, to authorize for the political class special subsidiesunavailable for less privileged and less affluent citizens.

If the president does it, it’s legal? “Exactly, exactly.”

Read more from George F. Will’s archive or follow him on Facebook.

Read more on this topic:

Heartbreak After Pastor, Father of Four Murdered for Asking Neighbors to Turn Down Party Noise

Heartbreak After Pastor, Father of Four Murdered for Asking Neighbors to Turn Down Party Noise

By Leonardo Blair , CP Reporter
August 5, 2013|2:31 pm
Tatiana Kirby

(Photo: Screen Grab via WDIV 4)
Young Tatiana Kirby wants justice after her father, Pastor Tim Kirby, 46, was murdered after he asked neighbors at a party in Detroit, Mich., to turn down the music.

Young Tatiana Kirby cried until she couldn’t cry anymore last Monday night after an angry man attending a party next door pumped several bullets into the body of her father, Pastor Tim Kirby, 46, after he asked them to turn down the music.

“It was devastating. I cried for a minute, and then it was like I couldn’t cry no more,” the young girl told WDIV 4 of her father’s untimely death in Detroit, Mich.

“He was a good father. He was always a caring person. Every Sunday we were always in church. He always made sure we had clothes, good clothes on our backs, food on the table,” she said.

According to local police, Kirby’s neighbors were hosting a big party complete with loud music and screaming when he left his apartment to ask them to tone down the noise.

Tim Kirby

(Photo: Screen Grab via WDIV 4)
Pastor Tim Kirby, 46, was gunned down outside his home in Detroit, Mich., after he asked that the music be turned down at a party next door to his home.

Upset by the pastor’s request, a group of men turned the encounter into a full blown confrontation and began shouting at him. One of them got so incensed during the dispute that he shot the man of God three times. His lifeless body was left to stain the cement outside his apartment building while his shocked family and friends descended into mourning.

“I was laying on the couch and I heard gunshots around 11:30,” said a neighbor. “I never thought that it was Tim. Never. Never crossed my mind.”

“When I received the news it was like wow, unbelievable that a preacher, a pastor, someone would do that type of thing to him,” Kirby’s longtime friend Pastor Berry Loston Jr. of Prophetic Corner Deliverance Ministries International said in an interview with The Christian Post on Monday.

“I’m trying to really grab hold of what has transpired because it’s just like mind-blowing, seriously. And it’s like really what can you say? It’s a lot of emotions in the air,” he added.

Right now, explained Loston, “the family is heartbroken and looking for answers.”

Kirby, a well-known member of his community and a fiery preacher was in the process of organizing a new church, according to Loston.

“We were brothers in Christ,” Loston explained as he prepared to officiate at Kirby’s funeral slated for Monday evening.

“I’ve been knowing him since we were teenagers coming up in church. He was a great supporter always shouting, praising and dancing during the service.”

As of Monday morning, the Detroit police told The Christian Post that there had been no new updates since Kirby’s murder. His young daughter, however, is hoping her father gets justice.

“I hope my daddy gets justice because he didn’t deserve this,” Tatiana told WDIV 4.

This is not that day

By Mario Murillo

There will be a day when we will speak out about the disastrous factors that led to this man’s murder.  Today is not that day.   All kinds of opinions will be spouted in all directions because this is such fertile ground for the current race narrative in America.  However, this is not that day.

Today we pray for a wife and 4 children who lost a father in an unspeakable crime.   Today we ask God to pour in comfort and mercy for this devastated family.  My heart is burning to speak out about what is going on but I cannot and will not today.

Today we have no color, no political opinion, and no rant against the other side.  Today we are mourning the loss of a man of God who wanted to win a desperate community to Christ.

Oh but I can speak of Satan today!  His contamination, the odor of his work infests this story.  He laughs at how easily he can seep in, manipulate his victims, and commit heinous acts and then just slither away.

However, I know his outcome and remind him daily of the doom that is coming to him from the one who records and remembers all.

Holy God in heaven we pray for this family.  Send your Spirit to bring them comfort.  Ignite the Body of Christ to come to their aid.  Let them feel your love and peace today in Jesus’ name!

new signature

Peggy Noonan: Obama Got To Point Where People Stopped Listening To Him Faster Than Most Presidents.

Obama never thought that the nation would stop listening to him…but it has happened.

 

Peggy Noonan: Obama Got To Point Where People Stopped Listening To Him Faster Than Most Presidents

By Noel Sheppard | July 28, 2013 | 12:06

 896  856 Reddit12  29
A  A
Noel Sheppard's picture

“I think every president in the intense media environment we have now, certainly every two-term president, gets to a point where the American people stop listening, stop leaning forward hungrily for information. I think this president got there earlier than most presidents. And I think he’s in that time now.”

So said the Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan on ABC’s This Week Sunday.

 GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST: You are seeing (ph) more populist Democrats, I agree with that, but Peggy Noonan, you know, the president going back to the country one more time, it’s unclear that these speeches are doing much to move public opinion, much less Washington.PEGGY NOONAN, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Yes, I think that’s true. But when the White House calls it a pivot, somebody counted it up and said it’s probably the tenth pivot to the economy the president has done since he came in.

I noticed that in one of the speeches, it went over an hour. There was a heck of a lot jammed in. That tells me something. It said we’re not sure exactly what to say, so we’re going to say everything, but a speech about everything is a speech about nothing. Beyond that, I think every president in the intense media environment we have now, certainly every two-term president, gets to a point where the American people stop listening, stop leaning forward hungrily for information. I think this president got there earlier than most presidents. And I think he’s in that time now.

Read more: http://newsbusters.org/blogs/noel-sheppard/2013/07/28/peggy-noonan-obama-got-point-where-people-stopped-listening-him-faste#ixzz2aSJOaRqM

Mario’s note:

There are two ways to look at this:

1. Obama has failed so spectacularly, divided so completely, lied so consistently and broken laws so deliberately that it is hard to imagine how anyone can believe anything he says. 

2. With the media, education, Hollywood, and Unions protecting him and spinning his every failure with such total conviction and intimidation that it is hard to imagine how the message of his epic failure is finally getting through.

Whatever your stance, it remains a fact that America is tuning him out…finally.

Maybe now we can begin to cleanse the nation of pandemic corruption in the IRS, DOJ, NSA and find justice for the victims in Benghazi.

When Did Obama Decide That The Scandals He Once Thought Were Serious Are Now ‘Phony’?

When Did Obama Decide That The Scandals He Once Thought Were Serious Are Now ‘Phony’?

by Noah Rothman | 1:34 pm, July 25th, 2013VIDEO» 420 comments

On Wednesday, President Barack Obama set the tone for the debate surrounding the many controversies that have plagued his administration since the spring. The president called those scandals “phony” and denigrated those who find any worth in their investigation. But, as one prominent conservative opinion writer noted yesterday, it was not long ago that the White House was acknowledging the seriousness of the scandals he now derides as contrived.

“With an endless parade of distractions, political posturing and phony scandals, Washington has taken its eye off the ball,” Obama said during a marathon speech in Illinois.

During a panel segment on Fox News Channel’s Special ReportThe Weekly Standard editorStephen F. Hayes asked a pointed question about these so-called “phony scandals”: “Which of the scandals is phony?”

“The president has already acknowledged the seriousness of two of them – three of them, in one way or another,” Hayes added.

“This is part of the plan to set up an argument for the fall,” he said, identifying how Democrats will counter Republican charges of malfeasance by administration officials ahead of the 2014 midterms. In essence, Hayes implied, Obama and his supporters will accuse the opponents of his administration of a pathological desire to cling to already discredited conspiracy theories.

But Hayes is right to ask precisely which scandal Obama now finds “phony” that he or administration officials previously acknowledged were grave. Was he referring to the scandal surrounding the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups with undue scrutiny when seeking tax-exempt status?

“It’s inexcusable and Americans have a right to be angry about it — and I’m angry about it,” Obama said in May when IRS official Lois Lerner confessed to the targeting after planting a question about the affair with a member of the media at a routine press conference. “The fact of the matter is the IRS has to operate with absolute integrity.” Obama made these comments announcing from the White House that he had dismissed IRS personnel as a direct response to the accusations.

Nothing to see here, Obama’s supporters say. They point to newly revealed documents which purport to show that some liberal groups were targeted with scrutiny as well – though few have come forward to share their stories in the numbers that conservative groups have. But the National Review’s Eliana Johnson reports that IRS chief counsel William Wilkins, who the IRS said in a statement was not involved in the 501(c)(4) application process, “became aware of the targeting of tea-party groups at some point in 2012” according to the testimony of congressional witnesses. Wilkins did have regular contact with individuals in the White House, though whether he revealed what he knew about the targeting scandal to administration officials is not yet known.

Or maybe the president meant the scandal surrounding the administration’s response to the attack in Benghazi. Did he mean when the administration sent Susan Rice, then the United States’ ambassador to the United Nations, on every Sunday news programs to blame the attack on a spontaneous upraising resulting from an inflammatory YouTube video? A response which State Department officials testified seriously damaged American relations with the nascent post-Gaddafi Libyan government, and directly resulted in the delay of FBI investigative teams being able to access the scene of the attack. Which agency officials made the determination to send Rice out to make this claim remains unclear.

Americans also do not yet know who determined that minimal security for that threatened consulate was acceptable. “I am intent on making sure that we do everything we can to prevent another tragedy like this from happening,” Obama said in May, shifting blame for that lack of embassy security to a lack of funding and mismanagement by Congress. “But that means we owe it to them and all who serve to do everything in our power to protect our personnel serving overseas.”

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) later echoed this claim in a fiery speech on the Senate floor. Boxer’s claim, and Obama’s by extension, that Congress was to blame for the light security footprint in Benghazi was given three Pinocchios from Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler. During testimony before a congressional committee, one State Department official asserted that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wanted to convert that temporary post in Benghazi into a permanent American diplomatic facility – she was to make this announcement in December of last year on a planned trip to Libya. Was this why the facility needed to be manned with high-level diplomatic personnel, including Libyan Amb. Chris Stevens, even though the consulate was not sufficiently hardened against attacks?

Or, perhaps, Obama was referring to the controversy surrounding the Department of Justice’s sweeping and overzealous efforts to intimidate government leakers and the journalists that would speak to them by unilaterally sweeping up the telephone records of Associated Press reporters and naming Fox News reporter James Rosen as a “co-conspirator” in an attempt to violate the Espionage Act.

This “phony scandal” resulted in a series of off the record meetings (which fast became on the record meetings after reporters began to boycott those credibility-endangering parlays) between journalists, media executives, and Attorney General Eric Holder. When the DOJ subpoenas story broke, Holder insisted that, while he had no direct involvement in the investigations, he took them “very seriously.” Earlier this month, the DOJ announced that it would rewrite the rules that govern how federal prosecutors and investigators seek secret warrants to prosecute criminal leaks.

It is perfectly understandable why the president and his supporters would want to dismiss as illegitimate these and other smoldering controversies. The president himself and senior administration officials initially recognized and acknowledged the severity and seriousness of the above scandals – their seriousness has not dissipated as their scope has broadened. As the various investigations into these infractions evolved, Obama and his supporters have become more aggressively contemptuous of those pursuing them and have attacked the motives of anyone who would seek to hold a frank discussion about these infractions. This is perhaps the most compelling indication that these and other scandals are anything but “phony.”

> >Follow Noah Rothman (@NoahCRothman) on Twitter

Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Praying for Spiritual Revival In America.

Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Praying for Spiritual Revival In America

The Brody File:

It was a sight to behold inside a conference ballroom at the downtown Marriott hotel in Des Moines, Iowa, as hundreds of Iowa pastors called out to God and prayed over two U.S. senators, both of whom seem interested in running for president of the United States.

Sen. Ted Cruz and Sen. Rand Paul came to Iowa Friday to speak at this Pastors and Pews event, organized by influential evangelical political operative David Lane. The Brody File got an up close look and access to the private event. We will be posting compelling video early next week. For now, we are releasing a few pictures from the event.

Ted Cruz, who received a warm greeting, spoke for about 30 minutes and then took questions from the audience. He outlined how he championed religious freedom cases ranging from the Ten Commandments to the Mojave Cross case. He touched on how to go about eliminating Obamacare; he called for abolishing the IRS (which received a standing ovation), and on the issue of marriage he said, “There’s no issue where we need to be more on our knees…we are facing an assault on marriage.”

On spiritual matters, he told the pastors that, “We are in a battle to turn this country around.” Later, in a one-on-one sit-down interview with The Brody File, he said this country is badly in need of spiritual revival. He charged the pastors to step up and speak boldly about the issues facing our country today. He compared all of them to Esther, saying the biblical woman was put in a position of leadership, “for such a time as this.”

Afterwards, pastors gathered around Cruz and his father (who was on hand for the conference) to pray for them (More on this next week as well).

As for Rand Paul, he spoke for about 20 minutes and then the pastors prayed for the senator and his wife Kelly. Paul spent the bulk of his time explain how liberty, freedom, and virtue go hand in hand. His biggest applause lines came when he talked about his dedication to the pro-life issue and how he believes America needs to cut off aid to countries that hate America.

He briefly addressed his foreign policy views, explaining that we should be focused on peace not war. He invoked the name of Jesus saying how He says in the Bible, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” However, he made clear that he was not against war and if war was necessary, he would make sure America would win it decisively.

There’s no doubt Paul and Cruz have begun thinking about running for president in 2016 and this event was a chance to introduce themselves to a pivotal group of pastors who will play a significant role in the presidential selection process since Iowa is always the first state in the nation to vote. However, the main goal of the two-day conference was to really motivate pastors to speak boldly about issues from the pulpit and to awake Christian voters, who may agree that America’s culture is going in the toilet, but sit on their hands and do nothing about it.

While getting more evangelicals to the polls is a political goal of the conference, there is a much deeper spiritual purpose. These pastors want to see spiritual revival in America. Speaker after speaker implored them to simply preach the word from the Bible and leave the outcome to God. A big theme was praying for another Great Awakening in this country but the pastors here agreed that it could only come if evangelicals truly repent and get down on their knees in prayer. In other words, there won’t be any Great Awakening if Christians don’t get serious in their prayer life.

Other highlights of the conference: RNC Chairman Reince Priebus was on hand. The pastors prayed for him as well (Picture below). On Monday, we’ll have more on the back-story as to why Chairman Priebus was there in the first place.

Another side note: After the conference, we met up with Ted Cruz’s father at a Perkins restaurant in Des Moines! (Picture below) The exclusive interview comes Monday. Wait until you hear what he has to say about his son. You won’t want to miss it.

It’s all part of The Brody File’s trip to Iowa. Follow us on Twitter, where our producer, Shosannah Nunez has dubbed our trip to Iowa, #brodtrip.

The Brody File: Don’t mess with us. We’re everywhere. We’re the exclusive place for the intersection of faith and politics. Remember our motto: We’re a combination of Meet the Press, a dash of Comedy Central and a sprinkling of Jesus!

See you Monday and all next week with lots more video and analysis.

Justice Department places ‘hold’ on Trayvon Martin trial evidence, including George Zimmerman’s gun – which Florida law says must be returned to him

Justice Department places ‘hold’ on Trayvon Martin trial evidence, including George Zimmerman’s gun – which Florida law says must be returned to him

By DAVID MARTOSKO

 

The U.S. Department of Justice, overseen by Attorney General Eric Holder, has ordered the Sanford, Florida police department to keep possession of all the evidence from George Zimmerman’s second-degree murder trial – including the exonerated neighborhood watch volunteer’s gun.

Sanford police confirmed on Thursday that the DOJ asked the agency not to return any pieces of evidence to their owners. Zimmerman was expected to get his firearm back by month’s end.

The development is a sign that the criminal section of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division is seriously investigating Zimmerman to determine if federal civil rights charges should be filed.

Assistant state attorney Bernie de la Rionda showed the jury George Zimmerman's gun during his closing argument on July 11. Zimmerman defended himself with the weapon, killing Trayvon MartinAssistant state attorney Bernie de la Rionda showed the jury George Zimmerman’s gun during his closing argument on July 11. Jurors ruled that Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin with the weapon while he was defendig himself
Sighs of relief: Jurors found George Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder in the 2012 fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida Sighs of relief: Jurors found George Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder in the 2012 fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Florida law requires that Zimmerman regain possession of his gun, but the DOJ has stepped in to prevent it

Zimmerman was acquitted of murder and manslaughter on Sunday in a Florida courtroom, but civil rights violations provide an exception to the U.S. Constitution’s protection against double jeopardy after a defendant has been found ‘not guilty’ in a state or local jurisdiction.

WESH-TV in Orlando reported Thursday afternoon that police had confirmed the evidence ‘hold,’ meaning that everything related to the trial, from Zimmerman’s gun to the Skittles and iced tea Martin was carrying when the pair’s altercation began, will remain in the hands of law enforcement.

The DOJ did not immediately respond to questions about whether it will take custody of the evidence, or when that might occur.

Attorney General Eric Holder told NAACP convention-goers that the DOJ still has an open civil rights investigation in Zimmerman, despite his acquittal in FloridaAttorney General Eric Holder told NAACP convention-goers that the DOJ still has an open civil rights investigation in Zimmerman, despite his acquittal in Florida
MSNBC host Al Sharpton has planned a series of 'Justice for Trayvon' rallies, one of whose goals will be to call on the federal government to prosecute ZimmermanMSNBC host Al Sharpton has planned a series of ‘Justice for Trayvon’ rallies, one of whose goals will be to call on the federal government to prosecute Zimmerman

But Holder himself confirmed on Tuesday during the NAACP’s annual convention that the Justice Department still has an open investigation into Zimmerman’s actions on Feb. 26, 2012.

‘I am concerned about this case,’ Holder told the assembled black civil rights activists, ‘and as we confirmed last spring, the Justice Department has an open investigation into it.’

‘While that inquiry is ongoing, I can promise that the Department of Justice will consider all available information before determining what action to take.’

Comedian and HBO host Bill Maher drew boos from audience members on Tuesday during a taping of The Late Show With David Letterman, by saying that ‘the Florida state law is that he can get his gun back. I say that if he gets a gun, Casey Anthony gets a baby.’

Anthony was acquitted in 2011, also in Florida, of killing her two-year-old daughter in 2008.

NSA spying flap extends to contents of U.S. phone calls.

NSA spying flap extends to contents of U.S. phone calls

National Security Agency discloses in secret Capitol Hill briefing that thousands of analysts can listen to domestic phone calls. That authorization appears to extend to e-mail and text messages too.

Declan McCullagh
by Declan McCullagh

June 15, 2013 4:39 PM PDT

NSA Director Keith Alexander says his agency's analysts, which until recently included Edward Snowden among their ranks, take protecting "civil liberties and privacy and the security of this nation to their heart every day."NSA Director Keith Alexander says his agency’s analysts, which until recently included Edward Snowden among their ranks, take protecting “civil liberties and privacy and the security of this nation to their heart every day.”(Credit: Getty Images)

The National Security Agency has acknowledged in a new classified briefing that it does not need court authorization to listen to domestic phone calls, a participant said.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, disclosed on Thursday that during a secret briefing to members of Congress, he was told that the contents of a phone call could be accessed “simply based on an analyst deciding that.”

If the NSA wants “to listen to the phone,” an analyst’s decision is sufficient, without any other legal authorization required, Nadler said he learned. “I was rather startled,” said Nadler, an attorney and congressman who serves on the House Judiciary committee.

Not only does this disclosure shed more light on how the NSA’s formidable eavesdropping apparatus works domestically, it also suggests the Justice Department has secretly interpreted federal surveillance law to permit thousands of low-ranking analysts to eavesdrop on phone calls.

James Owens, a spokesman for Nadler, provided a statement on Sunday morning, a day after this article was published, saying: “I am pleased that the administration has reiterated that, as I have always believed, the NSA cannot listen to the content of Americans’ phone calls without a specific warrant.” Owens said he couldn’t comment on what assurances from the Obama administration Nadler was referring to, and said Nadler was unavailable for an interview. (CNET had contacted Nadler for comment on Friday.)

Because the same legal standards that apply to phone calls also apply to e-mail messages, text messages, and instant messages, being able to listen to phone calls would mean the NSA analysts could also access the contents of Internet communications without going before a court and seeking approval.

Nadler’s initial statement appears to confirm some of the allegations made by Edward Snowden, a former NSA infrastructure analyst who leaked classified documents to the Guardian. Snowden said in a video interview that, while not all NSA analysts had this ability, he could from Hawaii “wiretap anyone from you or your accountant to a federal judge to even the president.”

There are serious “constitutional problems” with this approach, said Kurt Opsahl, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation who has litigated warrantless wiretapping cases. “It epitomizes the problem of secret laws.”

The NSA declined to comment to CNET. (This is unrelated to the disclosure that the NSA is currently collecting records of the metadata of all domestic Verizon calls, but not the actual contents of the conversations.)

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), the head of the House Intelligence committee, told CNN on Sunday that the NSA “is not listening to Americans’ phone calls” or monitoring their e-mails, and any statements to the contrary are “misinformation.” It would be “illegal” for the NSA to do that, Rogers said.

The Washington Post disclosed Saturday that the existence of a top-secret NSA program called NUCLEON, which “intercepts telephone calls and routes the spoken words” to a database. Top intelligence officials in the Obama administration, the Post said, “have resolutely refused to offer an estimate of the number of Americans whose calls or e-mails have thus made their way into content databases such as ­NUCLEON.”

A portion of the NSA's mammoth data center in Bluffdale, Utah, scheduled to open this fall.A portion of the NSA’s mammoth data center in Bluffdale, Utah, scheduled to open this fall.(Credit: Getty Images)

Earlier reports have indicated that the NSA has the ability to record nearly all domestic and international phone calls — in case an analyst needed to access the recordings in the future. A Wired magazine article last year disclosed that the NSA has established “listening posts” that allow the agency to collect and sift through billions of phone calls through a massive new data center in Utah, “whether they originate within the country or overseas.” That includes not just metadata, but also the contents of the communications.

William Binney, a former NSA technical director who helped to modernize the agency’s worldwide eavesdropping network, told the Daily Caller this week that the NSA records the phone calls of 500,000 to 1 million people who are on its so-called target list, and perhaps even more. “They look through these phone numbers and they target those and that’s what they record,” Binney said.

Brewster Kahle, a computer engineer who founded the Internet Archive, has vast experience storing large amounts of data. He created a spreadsheet this week estimating that the cost to store all domestic phone calls a year in cloud storage for data-mining purposes would be about $27 million per year, not counting the cost of extra security for a top-secret program and security clearances for the people involved.

NSA’s annual budget is classified but is estimated to be around $10 billion.

Documents that came to light in an EFF lawsuit provide some insight into how the spy agency vacuums up data from telecommunications companies. Mark Klein, who worked as an AT&T technician for over 22 years, disclosed in 2006 (PDF) that he witnessed domestic voice and Internet traffic being surreptitiously “diverted” through a “splitter cabinet” to secure room 641A in one of the company’s San Francisco facilities. The room was accessible only to NSA-cleared technicians.

AT&T and other telecommunications companies that allow the NSA to tap into their fiber links receive absolute immunity from civil liability or criminal prosecution, thanks to a law that Congress enacted in 2008 and renewed in 2012. It’s a series of amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, also known as the FISA Amendments Act.

That law says surveillance may be authorized by the attorney general and director of national intelligence without prior approval by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, as long as minimization requirements and general procedures blessed by the court are followed.

A requirement of the 2008 law is that the NSA “may not intentionally target any person known at the time of acquisition to be located in the United States.” A possible interpretation of that language, some legal experts said, is that the agency may vacuum up everything it can domestically — on the theory that indiscriminate data acquisition was not intended to “target” a specific American citizen.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, an attorney and member of the House Judiciary committee, who said he was "startled" to learn that NSA analysts could eavesdrop on domestic calls without court authorization.Rep. Jerrold Nadler, an attorney and member of the House Judiciary committee, who said he was “startled” to learn that NSA analysts could eavesdrop on domestic calls without court authorization.(Credit: Getty Images)

Rep. Nadler’s statement that NSA analysts can listen to calls without court orders came during a House Judiciary hearing on June 13 that included FBI director Robert Mueller as a witness.

Mueller initially sought to downplay concerns about NSA surveillance by claiming that, to listen to a phone call, the government would need to seek “a special, a particularized order from the FISA court directed at that particular phone of that particular individual.”

Is information about that procedure “classified in any way?” Nadler asked.

“I don’t think so,” Mueller replied.

“Then I can say the following,” Nadler said. “We heard precisely the opposite at the briefing the other day. We heard precisely that you could get the specific information from that telephone simply based on an analyst deciding that…In other words, what you just said is incorrect. So there’s a conflict.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the head of the Senate Intelligence committee, separately acknowledged that the agency’s analysts have the ability to access the “content of a call.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence committee, acknowledged this week that NSA analysts have the ability to access the "content of a call."Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence committee, acknowledged this week that NSA analysts have the ability to access the “content of a call.”(Credit: Getty Images)

Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell indicated during a House Intelligence hearing in 2007 that the NSA’s surveillance process involves “billions” of bulk communications being intercepted, analyzed, and incorporated into a database.

They can be accessed by an analyst who’s part of the NSA’s “workforce of thousands of people” who are “trained” annually in minimization procedures, he said. (McConnell, who had previously worked as the director of the NSA, is now vice chairman at Booz Allen Hamilton, Snowden’s former employer.)

If it were “a U.S. person inside the United States, now that would stimulate the system to get a warrant,” McConnell told the committee. “And that is how the process would work. Now, if you have foreign intelligence data, you publish it [inside the federal government]. Because it has foreign intelligence value.”

McConnell said during a separate congressional appearance around the same time that he believed the president had the constitutional authority, no matter what the law actually says, to order domestic spying without warrants.

Former FBI counterterrorism agent Tim Clemente told CNN last month that, in national security investigations, the bureau can access records of a previously made telephone call. “All of that stuff is being captured as we speak whether we know it or like it or not,” he said. Clementeadded in an appearance the next day that, thanks to the “intelligence community” — an apparent reference to the NSA — “there’s a way to look at digital communications in the past.”

NSA Director Keith Alexander said on June 12 that his agency’s analysts abide by the law: “They do this lawfully. They take compliance oversight, protecting civil liberties and privacy and the security of this nation to their heart every day.”

But that’s not always the case. A New York Times article in 2009 revealed the NSA engaged in significant and systemic “overcollection” of Americans’ domestic communications that alarmed intelligence officials. The Justice Department said in a statement at the time that it “took comprehensive steps to correct the situation and bring the program into compliance” with the law.

Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU’s Center for Democracy, says he was surprised to see the 2008 FISA Amendments Act be used to vacuum up information on American citizens. “Everyone who voted for the statute thought it was about international communications,” he said.

Updated 6/16 at 11:15 a.m. PT The original headline when the story was published on Saturday was “NSA admits listening to U.S. phone calls without warrants,” which was changed to “NSA spying flap extends to contents of U.S. phone calls,” to better match the story. The first paragraph was changed to add attribution to Rep. Nadler. Also added was an additional statement that the congressman’s aide sent this morning, an excerpt from a Washington Post story on NSA phone call content surveillance that appeared Saturday, and remarks that Rep. Rogers made on CNN this morning.]

U.S.: Syria used chemical weapons, crossing “red line”

U.S.: Syria used chemical weapons, crossing “red line”

  • Udated at 6:38 p.m. ET

The Obama administration has concluded that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government used chemical weapons against the rebels seeking to overthrow him and, in a major policy shift, President Obama has decided to supply military support to the rebels, the White House announced Thursday.

“The president has made a decision about providing more support to the opposition that will involve providing direct support to the [Supreme Military Council]. That includes military support,” Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communication Ben Rhodes told reporters.

U.N. estimates 93,000 have died in Syrian conflict

Violence continues in Syria

Russian foreign minister Lavrov denies U.S. charges on Syria

Syria: The next front in the war on terror?

President Obama has repeatedly said that the use of chemical weapons is a “red line” that, if crossed, would be a “game changer” for more U.S. involvement in the Syrian civil war.

“The President has been clear that the use of chemical weapons – or the transfer of chemical weapons to terrorist groups – is a red line for the United States,” said Rhodes in a separate written statement.

“The President has said that the use of chemical weapons would change his calculus, and it has,” he continued.

In terms of further response, Rhodes said, “we will make decisions on our own timeline” and that Congress and the international community would be consulted.  Mr. Obama is heading to Northern Ireland Sunday for a meeting of the G8 group of nations; Rhodes indicated the president will consult with leaders of those countries.

“Any future action we take will be consistent with our national interest, and must advance our objectives, which include achieving a negotiated political settlement to establish an authority that can provide basic stability and administer state institutions; protecting the rights of all Syrians; securing unconventional and advanced conventional weapons; and countering terrorist activity,” Rhodes said.

To date, the U.S. policy on Syria has primarily focused on offering the rebels nonlethal assistance and humanitarian aid.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who met with the rebels last month and has been a vocal critic of the president’s Syria policy said in a joint statement with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.: “We appreciate the President’s finding that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons on several occasions. We also agree with the President that this fact must affect U.S. policy toward Syria. The President’s red line has been crossed. U.S. credibility is on the line. Now is not the time to merely take the next incremental step. Now is the time for more decisive actions.”

“A decision to provide lethal assistance, especially ammunition and heavy weapons, to opposition forces in Syria is long overdue, and we hope the President will take this urgently needed step” they added. Former President Bill Clinton this week, at a private event with McCain, also ratcheted up pressure for the White House to increase its support to the rebels.

However, Rhodes would not detail the type of military support the administration intends on providing. He said helping the opposition improve their effectiveness as a fighting force means helping with “nonlethal assistance” such as communications equipment and transportation. “These are things that allow them to cohere as a unit,” he said.

He added, meanwhile, that no decision has been made about enforcing a no-fly zone over Syria. “A no-fly zone… would carry with it open-ended costs for the international community,” Rhodes said. “Furthermore, there’s not even a clear guarantee that it would dramatically improve the situation on the ground.”

Mario’s note:  

There are several disturbing developments that require special prayer.  Today Obama forced Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to apologize to Turkey.   Then he decides it is finally time to provide military support to the rebels in Syria.  This, after he has waited for over 92,000 people to die in Syria and way, way after Assad crossed Obama’s red line of using chemical weapons on the rebels.

It stinks to high heaven.  It is far too convenient a distraction from the boat load of scandals at home.  It is poor judgment to telegraph to the enemy what you are going to do and putting our soldiers at greater risk than is necessary.

This reeks of the same pattern of incompetence, deflection and grandstanding that has characterized this administration.  It is time to pray fervently for our men and women in uniform, for Israel and for all lies to be exposed.