On Watch in Washington May 6, 2015
May 6, 2015
Are the alarm bells finally clanging at the White House and in Congress? They should be. This week’s pitiful economic growth scorecard of 0.2 percent economic growth for the first quarter of this year means the Obama slow-growth machine grinds onward. It’s the slowest recovery in a half-century. The “Summer of Recovery” Joe Biden promised back in 2009 still hasn’t arrived — six years later.
This is a national crisis, not any less significant than the burning of Baltimore last week. Actually, the two may be tied together. Economist Arthur Laffer shows that racial rioting in big cities is negatively associated with an economic growth rate. In the late 1960s and 1970s, cities become war zones, but the rioting almost entirely disappeared in the high-flying 1980s and 1990s, when incomes were rising and job growth surged. Under President Obama’s slow-growth economy, urban unrest is bubbling over.
The attached figure compares the growth rate for this recovery versus those over the past 50 years. We are $1.6 trillion lower on current gross domestic product than we should be. Even more amazing: With a Reagan-style recovery, we’d have $2.5 trillion more output and income today. On average, every family in America would have $20,000 more annual income. That’s the crisis that has Americans feeling so angry. It is, to borrow a phrase from Mr. Obama about the Baltimore riots, “a slow-rolling crisis.” He could have meant the economy.
One finding in this latest GDP report is especially worrisome. Business “nonresidential fixed investment” — which is spending by companies on plant, equipment, facilities and technology fell by 3.4 percent. Spending on structures fell by an astounding 23 percent. This business spending statistic is a fairly good leading indicator of where the economy is headed. Business investment in this recovery has been slow, and that may be a result of the business bashing that goes on in Washington month after month. The Obama tax increases on capital gains and dividends — which are direct taxes on the returns from business investment — haven’t helped, either.
When we get bad news like this, there’s always some excuse from the White House. The weather. The labor strike at the ports this winter. Ebola. The euro-crisis. George W. Bush. Maybe next they can blame Herbert Hoover.
Some economists on the left such as Paul Krugman of The New York Times are blaming fiscal and monetary “austerity” in America and Europe. Austerity? The U.S. government has borrowed $7 trillion in six years. The Federal Reserve’s balance sheet has expanded by $3.5 trillion. This is austerity?
Meanwhile, Mr. Obama is still trying valiantly to put lipstick on this economic pig. His spin forever will be that he saved America from a second Great Depression. Really? Mr. Obama’s own White House estimates on job growth show that the economy performed worse than it would have without the trillions of dollars of government borrowing. In other words, we would have been better off not borrowing $830 billion back in 2009.
A new book by James Grant titled “The Forgotten Depression” should be required reading at the White House. It tells the story of the early 1920s when the economy crashed after Woodrow Wilson’s disastrous “progressivism.” When the economy tanked, President Harding simply let the recession burn itself out. By doing so, along with the Harding-Coolidge tax cuts, the result was the Roaring ‘20s, which was one of the most prosperous decades in American history.
Fortunately, there are natural tailwinds that should accelerate growth over the next year or so. Low energy prices are an underappreciated stimulus. The strong dollar is bringing record amounts of new investment and construction to the United States. Profits, especially for the tech sector and companies such as Apple and Google are still very high.
But there’s no getting back that nearly $2 trillion of GDP that is now permanently missing. It’s one reason for black rage in the cities. The Obama growth deficit is this president’s enduring legacy. We can now officially declare Obamanomics a grand failed experiment. Let’s hope the history books get it right so we are never, ever foolish enough to try this again. (Contributor: By Stephen Moore for The Washington Times – Stephen Moore is a visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation and a Fox News contributor.)
For prayer: One doesn’t need an advanced degree in economics to know that no individual, family, or country can become stabilized financially when it continues to amass debt without a plan to pay it off quickly and efficiently. Pray for God’s mercy and a divine “wakeup call” for a return to the fiscal restraint that marked America’s development into the leading nation in the world. That came through vision, courage, ingenuity, hard work, fair play, and God’s blessing. Our many divisions — politically, socially, and spiritually — require healing and restoration. America cannot be blessed while we have turned away from God. Pray for widespread revival.
“Now, therefore,” says the Lord, ‘turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.’ So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm.” (Joel 2:12-13)
“If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” (Mark 3:24-25)
Although the Navy has so far released few details on what it plans to buy, missile manufacturers like Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Boeing are keeping a close eye on a program the Navy has dubbed “next-generation strike capability.”
The Navy is seeking funds in its 2016-2020 budget to begin the development of next-generation strike weapons, with the goal to start an industry competition in fiscal year 2017. But the Navy has yet to settle on specific requirements.
In about a decade or so, the next-generation strike capability, or NGSC, would supplement or replace the current Harpoon and Tomahawk cruise missiles. What remains unknown is whether next-generation strike will be a single missile or a mix of weapons that would include ship killers and land-strike missiles that would target enemy air defenses deep inland.
The decision to move forward with next-generation strike comes after years of internal debate on how the Navy should arm itself for potential maritime wars against rising powers like China. The U.S. Pacific Command has singled out a new anti-ship missile as an “urgent operational need.”
Of concern to PACOM and to naval advocates on Capitol Hill is the lack of anti-ship weapons aboard Navy surface combatants, and they fear that current ship-launched cruise missiles are not stealthy enough to be able to penetrate the most advanced air defenses. An extended reach of 1,000 nautical miles or more is a key priority in the next-generation strike program, so Navy ships can operate within range of Chinese surface combatants equipped with anti-ship cruise missiles.
The Navy already has tested a new anti-ship missile that can be fired from fighter jets and strategic bombers — known as the long-range anti-ship missile, or LRASM, made by Lockheed Martin. Started in 2009 under the auspices of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the LRASM is a modified version of the joint air-to-surface standoff missile-extended range that Lockheed built for the U.S Air Force. DARPA announced in February that an LRASM prototype scored three-for-three in consecutive flight tests.
“Once operational, LRASM would play a significant role in ensuring military access to operate in open ocean/blue waters and the littorals due to its enhanced ability to discriminate and conduct tactical engagements from extended ranges,” DARPA said in a news release.
A key feature of this missile is a terminal guidance system that would allow it to reach a target even if the military were denied access to GPS signals or other network links.
Lockheed officials said the company is independently developing a ship-launched variant in anticipation of a future competition. The Navy chose the air-launched LRASM over other systems offered by Raytheon and Kongsberg. Lockheed is producing 90 missiles for the Navy that will be deployed on Super Hornet fighters and Air Force B-1 bombers by 2019.
In next-generation strike, the Navy merged what used to be two separate projects: One called “offensive anti-surface weapon increment 2” and another dubbed “next-generation land attack weapon.” The new missile, or family of weapons, would have greater range, destruction power and survivability than the current Harpoon anti-ship cruise missile and the Tomahawk ship-launched land attack cruise missile.
Analysts for years have questioned the Navy’s efforts to keep up with growing technological advances by China and other nations. “China is building a modern and regionally powerful Navy with a modest but growing capability for conducting operations beyond China’s near-seas region. The question of how the United States should respond to China’s military modernization effort is a key issue in U.S. defense planning,” wrote naval analyst Ronald O’Rourke, of the Congressional Research Service.
China has acquired Russian-made anti-ship cruise missiles that are carried by Russian-made destroyers and submarines, and has developed other missiles domestically, O’Rourke said.
The implication for the U.S. Navy is that it needs aircraft and weapons with longer ranges. The Navy is “going to have to adopt an offensive mindset,” naval strategist Bryan Clark, of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, told the House Armed Services Committee’s seapower and projection forces subcommittee.
“Today’s surface fleet is more focused on defeating enemy missiles and torpedoes, than attacking the aircraft, submarines or sub-ships that have launched them,” Clark said. “Surface forces need to focus on killing the archer instead of shooting down its arrows.” The archers in this case are aircraft, submarines, and surface ships that are able to launch anti-ship cruise missiles, Clark said. “Today, the surface ships we deploy don’t have weapons that are able to reach enemy aircraft, ships or submarines until we’re already well within range of their anti-ship cruise missiles.”
Missile manufacturers believe the Navy will communicate its next-generation strike wish list some time in 2016. Competitors are weighing how best to position themselves. If the Navy chooses to combine the anti-ship and land-attack mission and select only one manufacturer, the stakes would be huge. Pressure to keep costs under control could benefit companies that spend their own funds to upgrade existing missiles.
Lockheed is viewed as having the inside track because it is already producing an air-launched anti-ship cruise missile and is developing a ship-launched variant. The company is expanding its manufacturing plant in Troy, Alabama, said Hady Mourad, tactical missiles advanced program director at Lockheed Martin. He said the company spent $32 million of internal R&D funds to mature the technology.
What specifically Lockheed would propose for next-generation strike is still to be determined, said company spokeswoman Amy Cochrum. LRASM is being designed as an anti-surface maritime weapon, but with minor retrofits it could be become a dual-role missile, prosecuting both land and sea targets, she told National Defense. “Until U.S. Navy requirements are defined and communicated to industry, final configurations or variants would be speculation at best.”
The Boeing Co. recently unveiled a modernized version of the Harpoon missile but that is not likely to be a contender for next-generation strike, a company spokeswoman said.
Boeing is waiting to hear more about what the Navy wants before it decides on its offering. Designing a new missile is one possibility, but it is too soon to say, said Deborah VanNierop, spokeswoman for Boeing Phantom Works. “Next-generation strike capability is in the very early stages and currently there are no requirements,” she noted. Boeing’s advanced weapons team has “briefed the Navy on key technologies and system options,” VanNierop told National Defense. “The team plans to continue to engage with the Navy as they formulate their requirements.”
Raytheon, meanwhile, expects to enjoy a key advantage as the manufacturer of the Tomahawk missile, as the Navy already has invested huge sums into the program. The company also makes the joint standoff weapon, an air-launched glide bomb that initially competed against LRASM. Raytheon has teamed with Norway’s Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace to develop an air-launched anti-ship missile and a ship-launched version for the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship.
Next-generation strike will likely include “improvements to current programs as well as potentially follow-on technologies,” Dave Adams, Tomahawk program director, said in a statement. “Raytheon is working with the Navy to minimize risk and costs by using the proven Tomahawk and JSOW weapon systems.”
Both Tomahawk and JSOW, Adams said, can defeat modern integrated air defenses. “And with the improvements we are developing for Tomahawk, we anticipate that this will hold any high value moving target at risk out to greater than 1,000 miles on land and at sea. And, both JSOW and Tomahawk are already fully integrated on U.S. Navy platforms, saving an enormous amount of integration costs.”
Raytheon recently announced it funded the development of a multi-mode seeker for the Tomahawk Block 4 cruise missile. “This is a critical step in enabling the missile to strike moving targets on land and at sea,” said Mike Jarrett, vice president of Raytheon Air Warfare Systems. (Contributor: By Sandra I. Erwin for National Defense Magazine)
For prayer: The purpose of a strong defense should be for the protection of the country’s citizens from enemies, both domestic and foreign, not for aggressive goals. Even then, it is the Lord’s hand and purpose that keep a nation safe. God will uphold governments whose leaders are committed to His glory and purpose. The U.S. is no longer a predominantly Christian nation, but we ask all intercessors to join us in praying for a return to the directives of our Constitution.
“Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows … (Ps. 127:1-2a)
Most Americans think the government should protect religious liberties over gay rights when the two come into conflict, a new Associated Press-GfK poll finds, though fewer think most businesses should be allowed to turn away gay couples because of religious beliefs.
The survey uncovered nuanced views on gay rights as the Supreme Court considers, in a case heard this week, whether the Constitution gives same-sex couples the right to marry.
Americans are more likely to say that religious liberties are more important for the government to protect than the rights of gays and lesbians, by a 56 percent to 40 percent margin, the poll found. Just a quarter of Americans call gay rights a very or extremely important issue to them personally, while half call religious liberties a very or extremely important issue.
But fewer Americans — just 40 percent — think most business owners should be allowed to refuse service to gays and lesbians on religious grounds. That finding goes to the heart of the significant political fallout over Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which critics charged was intended to allow businesses discriminate against gays and lesbians.
With public opinion apparently split, it’s an open question how gay rights will play in the 2016 campaign.
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Leadership Conference, said Republicans would be wise to make religious freedom a central issue because the broad debate highlights intolerance against Christians. “Religious freedom will emerge as a centerpiece, and Democrats will have an impossible time defending against it,” said Rodriguez, whose organization aligns with conservative Republicans on this issue.
Others think the issue could be perilous for the GOP. “Religious liberty works well with religious people, which is the GOP’s base, but the argument is easily turned on its head when the issue is discrimination against gay people,” said veteran Republican strategist John Feehery. “I think the GOP is better off talking about economic security and national security, while leaving this particular issue to the courts to decide.”
Although only a minority of poll respondents thought businesses generally should be able to discriminate against gays or lesbians, support was stronger for letting wedding-related businesses in particular refuse service to same-sex couples — 52 percent said so. That was down slightly since the beginning of February, when 57 percent said so in an earlier AP-GfK poll.
The new poll found a distinct split between Republicans and Democrats on the issue. Most Democrats opposed any such discrimination by businesses; most Republicans thought businesses should have the right to refuse service, whether generally or for wedding matters.
On marriage, just under half of Americans want it to be legal for gay and lesbian couples to wed in their states, while just over a third are opposed, according to the poll.
There is a significant partisan divide over that issue, too, but it could be a moot point in the 2016 campaign if the Supreme Court affirms same-sex marriage.
On the court case, 50 percent said the justices should rule that gay marriage must be legal nationwide; 48 percent said they should not.
Kelly Huston, a retired autoworker from Newtown Falls, Ohio, says he doesn’t object to gay marriage, just as he doesn’t object to a business refusing to serve gay patrons.
“I think a business owner should decide what they want to do in their business,” Huston said. “I’m not against gays. I’m against the government telling people how to run their businesses.”
The issue could play differently in some regions than others. For example, the survey finds 60 percent of Southerners, but only 45 percent of Northeasterners or Westerners, say wedding-related businesses should be allowed to refuse service to gay couples.
In New Hampshire, which hosts the nation’s first presidential primary election, a leading Republican official warns prospective candidates against a heavy focus on religious freedom.
“For the average Republican presidential primary voter in New Hampshire, that’s not one of the top six or seven issues,” said Steve Duprey, New Hampshire’s national Republican committeeman. “I don’t think there’s anybody who could win the New Hampshire primary running on religious liberty.”
The AP-GfK poll of 1,077 adults was conducted online April 23-27, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.
Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them. Contributor: Associated Press and The Santa Fe New Mexican)
For prayer: Prospective voters should brace themselves, as polls seem to rule the day, and with nearly 20 months before next year’s presidential election, it appears that the pollsters desperately want to know what each citizens thinks about every aspect of American life. We were taught since grade school not to compare “apples and oranges,” but the poll discussed above compares religious liberty, a God-given right, with so-called gay rights, where the homosexual viewpoint is a preference. Meanwhile, the field of candidates running for president continues to grow.
“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isa. 5:20)
“Daniel answered and said: ‘Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him.’” (Dan. 2:20-22)
Health officials say the first region of the world to rid itself of German measles is North and South America.
World Health Organization officials on Wednesday said it has been more than five years since there’s been a case that originated in the Americas. Now, the only German measles cases are imported from other parts of the world.
German measles — also known as rubella — is a viral disease spread through coughing or sneezing. It’s generally a mild illness, involving a three-day rash and low-grade fever. But when pregnant women get it, the illness can cause birth defects.
In 2004, health officials declared it eliminated in the United States.
German measles is the third infectious disease to be eliminated from the Americas. The other two are smallpox and polio. (Contributor: Fox News and Associated Press)
For prayer: With so much bad news and negative reporting going on in today’s culture, this report is good news, indeed, and should inspire us to give thanks to God for His mercy and kindness. While we do not rejoice that other parts of the world still are subject to this infection, we can and should be thankful for its being overcome in our hemisphere and in our lifetime.
“Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! Let them exalt Him also in the assembly of the people, and praise Him in the company of the elders. (Ps. 107:31-32)
A new record in Bible translation may have been set in 2014 for the highest number of new Scripture translations published in one year. According to the 2014 Global Scripture Access Report, published this week by United Bible Societies, last year Bible Societies helped complete translations in 51 languages spoken by more than 1.3 billion people (1.2 billion Chinese speakers and 146 million speakers of other languages.)
Some of these translations were launched in countries facing significant challenges. In Nigeria, for instance, where militant Islamic group Boko Haram carried out deadly attacks, the Bible Society launched four new Bible translations. One of them, the Bura Bible, was completed and launched in December, despite a Boko Haram bomb attack on the Bura Bible translation office in September. All of these were first-time translations, potentially giving 2.1 million Nigerians access to the full Bible in their heart language for the first time.
Liberia, too, faced enormous difficulties last year, losing more people to Ebola than any other country, but the Bible Society there launched two first-time full Bible translations. The Bible in Kpelle and Southern Kisi, spoken by nearly a million people, arrived at a time when people needed God’s Word in their language more than ever before. But Southern Kisi speakers, most of whom live in the worst affected area of Liberia – Foyah District in Lofa County – delayed their celebrations until January 2015, when the situation had stabilised.
“That day they forgot about Ebola and came out in great numbers to march in celebration of the first Bible in their language,” notes Paul Stevens, who leads the Bible Society of Liberia.
These launches in Nigeria and Liberia were among 30 ‘first-time’ translations published across the world last year in languages spoken by nearly 10 million people. 18 language groups received their very first full Bible, 10 received their first New Testament, and two received shorter portions of Scripture for the first time.
The full Bible is now available in 542 languages spoken by 4.9 billion people, while the New Testament is available in 1,324 languages spoken by a further 673 million people. 1,020 languages have shorter portions of Scripture, while 4,015 languages spoken by 460 million people are still without any Scripture at all. (Contributor: Andrea Rhodes for Christian Newswire and United Bible Societies)
For prayer: This is a praise report, as the written Word of God continues to advance and find eager readers in every tribe, nation, culture, and people group. Many years ago in Central America, a young American missionary named W. Cameron (“Uncle Cam”) Townsend was asked by a tribal leader, “Does God speak our language?” As a result, Wycliffe Bible Translators was born. The work of Bible translation is tedious and tiring, but the results allow people to hold a copy of the Scriptures in their hands. Often, they must be taught to read their own language after it is reduced to written phonetic symbols. Give thanks for those who have accepted this calling.
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15)
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12)
TWO MUSLIMS KILLED AFTER OPENING FIRE AT EVENT IN TEXAS
Two men opened fire outside an event holding a cartoon contest of the [false] Prophet Mohammed before they were shot dead by police in suburban Dallas Sunday night.
While details about the gunmen, including their religion or their motive, weren’t immediately known, the shooting — as was the case in France in January and Denmark in February — targeted a facility where depictions of the revered Muslim prophet was being caricatured.
And it quickly reignited the debate on free speech versus provocation.
The keynote speaker at the event in Garland was right-wing Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who was placed on an al Qaeda hit list. And it was organized by the American Freedom Defense Initiative — considered an anti-Muslim group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups.
“The Islamic jihadis are determined to suppress our freedom of speech violently.” Pam Geller, president of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, told CNN. “They struck in Paris and Copenhagen recently, and now in Texas.”
Exchange lasted seconds
The men drove up to the Curtis Culwell Center in North Garland, got out of their car and began shooting just as the “Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest” inside was ending around 7 p.m. (8 p.m. ET).
An unarmed security guard, Bruce Joiner, was shot in the ankle. He was later treated and released from a hospital.
Garland police, who were helping with security, fired back, killing both gunmen. The exchange lasted about 15 seconds, police said.
“The first suspect was shot immediately,” Garland Mayor Douglas Athas told CNN. “The second suspect was wounded and reached for his backpack. He was shot again.”
The gunmen’s identities weren’t immediately released.
“We have no other indication that anyone else was involved,” Athas said.
Early Monday morning, FBI and local officials were checking the gunmen’s vehicle for explosives and the area around the center was blocked off.
Surrounding businesses, including a Walmart, were evacuated, as were attendees from the Curtis Culwell Center.
There is no immediate threat to the area, police said; the check for explosives was a precautionary measure.
“It’s a very slow, tedious operation that goes on,” Garland police spokesman Joe Harn said.
Heavy security for event
The American Freedom Defense Initiative said it specifically picked the venue, a school district-owned facility, because it hosted an event denouncing Islamophobia in January.
The Sunday night event invited cartoonists to send in caricatures of Prophet Mohammad. The group said it received more than 350 submissions. The winning entry would get $10,000.
There were about 200 people at the event, police said.
“Most of the people who were there were from out of state,” Athas said.
Security was tight. The school district brought in extra officers, and the group itself hired several more. Security costs, the group said, were upwards of $30,000.
Only those who purchased tickets ahead of time were admitted. They had to go through metal detectors.
“We were prepared for something like this,” Harn, the police spokesman, said.
Shortly after the shooting, a security officer in military fatigues interrupted the gathering to herd the attendees into an auditorium.
“There was an incident outside, a police officer has been shot. Two suspects have been shot. Possibly have explosives on ’em, okay?” he said. “I just need everybody to remain calm, become orderly and we’re going to take you into the auditorium a little further away from the front of this building. All right?”
Someone asked, “Were the suspects Muslim?”
“I have no idea right now,” he responded.
Depiction considered blasphemy
Depictions of the [false] Prophet Mohammed are considered blasphemous by many Muslims.
The prohibition against illustrating the [false] Prophet Mohammed began as an attempt to ward off idol worship, which was widespread in Islam’s Arabian birthplace. But in recent years, it has taken a deadly toll.
In January, gunmen attacked the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical magazine that has a controversial history of depicting Mohammad, and killed 12 people.
The next month, a gunman attacked a free speech forum in Copenhagen, Denmark featuring cartoonist Larks Vilks, who infuriated al Qaeda with his depictions of Mohammed.
In the United States, cartoonist Molly Norris is still in hiding, four years after she depicted the likeness of Mohammed on several items and was deemed a “prime target” for execution by Islamic extremists.
Shortly after the Sunday night shooting, a prominent Muslim leader in Dallas tweeted that the incident was “just what we didn’t want.”
“The community stayed away from event,” wrote Imam Zia Sheikh. “Seems like a lone wolf type of attack. Just what we didn’t want.”
‘Freedom of speech is under violent assault’
Wilders, the keynote speaker at the Garland event, is controversial for his anti-Islam views. He was placed on an al Qaeda hit list for his film “Fitna.”
The film, which Wilders released online in March 2008 to international outcry, features disturbing images of terrorist acts superimposed over verses from the Quran in an apparent attempt to paint Islam as a threat to Western society.
In 2011, Wilders was cleared on charges of inciting discrimination and hatred with the movie.
“The day we give away humor and freedom of speech is the day that we cease to exist as a free and independent people,” he told the attendees at the Garland event Sunday night.
Likewise, the American Freedom Defense Initiative, is also notorious for its anti-Muslim stance.
Its president, Pamela Geller, is “the anti-Muslim movement’s most visible and flamboyant figurehead,” the SPLC says.
“Who designated the SPLC as a legitimate authority? They are a radical leftist group who targets patriots, vets and even GOP presidential candidates,” she told CNN. “They have never named a jihadi group as a hate group.”
A conservative blogger, she first gained national attention with her group, “Stop the Islamicization of America,” and its vocal opposition to an Islamic community center planned near the site of New York’s ground zero, where the twin towers of the World Trade Center were destroyed by Islamist hijackers on September 11, 2001.
She said Sunday night she wasn’t expecting such an attack, but wasn’t surprised that it happened.
“This incident shows how much needed our event really was. The freedom of speech is under violent assault here in our nation. The question now before us — will we stand and defend it, or bow to violence, thuggery, and savagery?”
The relevance of the venue
Because of the Sunday night shooting, the Garland Independent School District canceled Advanced Placement testing at the Curtis Culwell Center.
The center is owned by the school district and rented out for sporting events, concerts and other gatherings.
In January, it rented the facility for an event titled “Stand with the Prophet,” which was meant to counter Islamophobia after the Charlie Hebdo attack. It drew several hundred attendees and about 200 protesters, and went off without incident.
The American Freedom Defense Initiative said it intentionally booked the venue because of the January event.
Culwell Center Director John Wildborn told the Dallas Morning News that the venue has yet to turn down an event because of content.
As for Geller, she said she plans on holding similar events.
“I will not abridge my freedoms so as not to offend savages,” she said. (Contributor: By KTLA)
For prayer: We can justifiably give thanks that if anyone had to die, it was the assailants and not those who were expressing their free speech in displaying caricature cartoons. Authorities have since learned that both of the shooters were Muslims, one an American-born convert. A subsequent report claimed ISIS ties, though the authenticity of the connection was not established. At any rate, the shooters were shot and killed within 15-20 seconds after inflicting one wound on a guard who was treated and released. We give thanks for the alert actions of the Dallas-area police.
“These six things the Lord hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren.” (Prov. 6:16-19)
Hundreds of traumatized Nigerian women and children rescued from Boko Haram Islamists have been released into the care of authorities at a refugee camp in the eastern town of Yola, an army spokesman said.
The 275 women and children, some of whom had bandaged heads and arms, arrived in the camp ran by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) on Saturday night after days on the road traveling in pick-up trucks.
Nearly 700 kidnap victims have been freed from Boko Haram’s stronghold in the northeastern Sambisa Forest since Tuesday, with the latest group of 234 women and children liberated on Friday.
“We don’t have the facilities and resources to take care of these,” army spokesman said. “The best organization in the country to take care of these people is NEMA.”
Initial indications are that none of more than 200 schoolgirls snatched from their school dormitories in Chibok town in April 2014 were among the three groups released this week.
While Boko Haram has been kidnapping girls and women and turning them into cooks, sex slaves and human shields even before the attack on Chibok, it was that one incident that drew global attention to the six-year-old insurgency.
It is not known how many people Boko Haram has abducted but Amnesty International estimates the insurgenst, who are intent on bringing western Africa under Islamist rule, has taken more than 2,000 women and girls captive since the start of 2014.
Boko Haram is thought to have killed thousands of people but Nigerian troops alongside neighboring armies from Chad, Cameroon and Niger have won back swathes of territory from them in the last couple of months. (Contributor: Reuters and The Jerusalem Post)
For prayer: Let all who read this report from a place of safety give thanks for their own freedom and for those who have been set free in Nigeria. Christian relief and mission agencies have already begun to assist with the former captives’ restoration and to supply basic needs for subsistence. The suffering these women have gone through is beyond comprehension to people who have never known such upheaval. As this and other stories unfold, will we in America learn what our own country and culture would look like if Islamic terrorists gain a substantial foothold in North America? Let us intercede, turning to God in repentance and renewed commitment to seek His mercy and protection.
“Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Ps. 73:25-26)
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Ps. 147:3)