What we need to know about sanctuary cities

Time after time our Founding Fathers recognized God’s hand in the shaping of America.  Today, God is continuing His work in America, but it’s in a nation that has clearly lost its moral compass.  One area of concern is the manner of dealing with criminal behavior.  Most recent in the news is the role of  Sanctuary Cities.  Just how do Sanctuary Cities compare with the Cities of Refuge which God instituted in Numbers 35:1?  Here is a nice little article that describes the backgrounds for these two types of cities where persons who have come athwart the law can receive asylum.  How similar are they?  What is the story on how they came into existance?  Carol Hatcher answers these questions in her article that appeared first at: The Presidential Prayer Team.

Morality in America

Morality in America
Does the Bible support cities of sanctuary?
By Carol Hatcher

More than 16,000 people are murdered in America each year, according to research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That factors out to approximately 44 people a day – a sobering number. While the numbers are not likely to decrease before the return of Jesus, both national leaders and police officers work to keep that number as low as possible.

So how does the death of 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle make sense? Kathryn was walking along Pier 14 in San Francisco with her father when she was shot and killed by an illegal immigrant with quite the criminal record – seven felonies and five deportations to be exact. If you are wondering how a convicted criminal like Juan Lopez-Sanchez was on the streets, you aren’t alone. Everyone is pointing fingers and no one is taking blame.  Continue reading

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Great Christian Authors

Here is a brief article listing the author’s choice for Top 10 Christian Authors of All Time.  The article by Daniel Threlfall appeared first at: ShareFaith.com.  RMF

Top 10 Christian Authors of All Time

By Daniel Threlfall

 

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Ever since Moses, Christians have been writing books. These books have been written in stone, on papyrus, and in codices. They’ve been stored in scrolls, museums, and Amazon’s cloud. They’ve been read in catacombs, monasteries, churches, and subways. They have incited revolutions, sparked reform, and hit the top of the New York Times Best Sellers list.

Culture and the world at large have been shaped by Christian authors.

But who are these authors? They are martyrs, saints, scholars, missionaries, preachers, tinkers, and shepherds. There are thousands of them, maybe millions. Some are well known. Others are unknown. Some are good. Others are really good. Selecting a mere ten Christian authors from two millennia of church history is like trying to choose a “favorite” Bible verse. It’s not easy to do, and not fair to the 31,092 (verses) that don’t get picked.But in the interest of your patience and this article’s brevity, I’ve chosen ten Christian authors who have shaped Christianity.   Continue reading

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Missing Folks

Speculation concerning the existence of intelligent life within the universe beyond Earth has long been a matter of scientific curiosity and inquiry.  Though great amounts of money and research effort have gone into addressing the issue there is not much to show for it other than that so far – nothing.  [As an aside, it might be just as interesting to look for a good source of intelligent life here on Earth as it sometimes appears to be in short supply.]  The following is an interesting look at the whole concept, known as The Fermi Paradox, i.e., the fact that the universe should be teeming with life yet there is no evidence of it.  The material for this Tim Urban post appeared originally at: WaitButWhy.com. and then at: Where are All the Aliens?  A YouTube video dealing with this topic was produced in Munich by: In a Nutshell – Kurzesagt and can be viewed at The Fermi Paradox – Where are All the Aliens?  The video gives a lot of info in a clever format but does not go into quite the depth as the Urban article, especially with regards to the “filters” and proceeds at such rapid pace that it is a bit difficult to follow, at least it is for me.  

As you read or view the information see what it might say to you about God.  Is there any place at all in the material for the existence of a Creator who may have had ultimate control over the fact that there is any life, intelligent or otherwise, on the Earth or anywhere else.  The deal with this material is that it is all based on rational thinking and analysis.  It is a product of reason.  But when everything must be evaluated on reason then there is no place for consideration of the supernatural.  All that I personally need to know is that in the beginning, the very start of time, God created.  It makes more sense to me than the appearance of the cosmos out of nothing with no cause and no purpose.  How about you?  RMF

Where are all the aliens?

By Tim Urban

Where are the People
Where are all the aliens?

(Reuters/NASA)

Everyone feels something when they’re in a really good starry place on a really good starry night and they look up and see this:

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 9.06.39 PM(Reuters/Amr Dalsh)

Some people stick with the traditional—feeling struck by the epic beauty or blown away by the insane scale of the universe. Personally, I go for the old “existential meltdown followed by acting weird for the next half hour.” But everyone feels something.
Physicist Enrico Fermi felt something too—“Where is everybody?”   Continue reading

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Nuts and Bolts of the Nuclear Bargain

Here is a well thought out synopsis of the recent deal with Iran concerning their nuclear program. This article by william J. Broad and Sergio Pecanha appeared originally at The New York Times.  Prior to reading it, however, it might be well to view author and journalist Thomas L. Friedman’s interview with President Obama on the agreement.  Here is a link to that video interview.  And, for balance, following the New York Times article is a Washington Post Op Ed piece by Charles Krauthammer, The worst agreement in U.S. diplomatic history. Finally, it would be wise to stop right now, really, right now, and pray that this agreement will be honored and that it will result in a safer environment where the Gospel message may be delivered with might and power.  RMF

President Obama being interviewed by Columnist Thomas L. Friedman

President Obama being interviewed by Columnist Thomas L. Friedman

President Obama

President Obama

The Iran Nuclear Deal – A Simple Guide
By WILLIAM J. BROAD and SERGIO PEÇANHA

Negotiators reached a historic accord on Tuesday to limit Tehran’s nuclear ability in return for lifting international oil and financial sanctions. Here is a guide to the Iran nuclear deal.
An atomic bomb can be made from two types of radioactive materials: uranium or plutonium. The talks were aimed at curbing Iran’s ability to put these two elements to use in weapons. In each case, the manufacturing starts with uranium ore.

Uranium mined from the earth is less than 1 percent U-235, the isotope that can be used to fuel reactors and make bombs. Centrifuges are needed to separate the U-235 from the rest of the uranium, in a process called enrichment. The other fuel that can be used to make a bomb, plutonium, is made by irradiating uranium in a nuclear reactor. The process transforms some of the uranium into plutonium.

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Curbing the Uranium Path
During the enrichment process, centrifuges are used to raise concentrations of U-235. For most power reactors in the West, uranium is enriched up to 5 percent. Bomb grade is above 90 percent and Iran had been processing ore to 20 percent enrichment.

The agreement
Iran has agreed to transform its deeply buried plant at Fordo into a center for science research. Another uranium plant, Natanz, is to be cut back rather than shut down. Some 5,000 centrifuges for enriching uranium will remain spinning there, about half the current number. Iran has also agreed to limit enrichment to 3.7 percent and to cap its stockpile of low-enriched uranium at 300 kilograms, or 660 pounds, for 15 years. That is considered insufficient for a bomb rush.Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 4.29.50 PM Curbing the Plutonium Path
Iran was constructing a nuclear reactor at Arak that would have used natural uranium to produce Pu-239, which can fuel bombs.

The agreement
Iran has agreed to redesign and rebuild the Arak reactor so it will not produce weapons-grade plutonium. The original core of the reactor, which would enable the production of weapons-grade plutonium, will be made inoperable, but will stay in the country. Under the terms of the deal, the reactor’s spent fuel, which could also be used to produce a bomb, will be shipped out of the country. Iran will not build any additional heavy water reactors for 15 years.

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Key Issues
How to Ensure That Iran Won’t Cheat

More than twice the size of Texas in area, Iran poses many challenges for atomic inspectors who have to police the agreement and gain access not only to scientists, labs and factories, but also to many underground sites and military bases. Western allies say the new inspections must be far more intrusive than those in the past, given the deal’s sweeping terms as well as Iran’s history of evasions, stonewalling and illicit procurements. The principal concerns are how to detect cheating and covert sites.

The agreement
Iran has agreed to provide the International Atomic Energy Agency greater access and information regarding its nuclear program, and to allow the agency to investigate suspicious sites or allegations of covert facilities related to uranium enrichment anywhere in the country. Inspectors will also have access to the supply chain that supports Iran’s nuclear program, including uranium mines and mills, and to continuous surveillance of centrifuge manufacturing and storage facilities.

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What Is the Timeline of the Agreement?
The deal requires Iran to reduce its current stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98 percent, and limits Iran’s enrichment capacity and research and development for 15 years. Some inspections and transparency measures will remain in place for as long as 25 years. According to President Obama: “This relief will be phased in. Iran must complete key nuclear steps before it begins to receive sanctions relief.” Sanctions for arms could be lifted in five years, ballistic missiles in eight.

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Extending the Breakout Time
The agreement increases the “breakout” time — the amount of time it would take Iran to produce enough bomb-grade material for a singular nuclear weapon — to at least one year.

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Additional work by Larry Buchanan, Josh Keller, K.K. Rebecca Lai, David E. Sanger and Karen Yourish.

The worst agreement in U.S. diplomatic history

By Charles Krauthammer Opinion writer July 2

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Charles Krauthammer

Charles Krauthammer

The devil is not in the details. It’s in the entire conception of the Iran deal, animated by President Obama’s fantastical belief that he, uniquely, could achieve detente with a fanatical Islamist regime whose foundational purpose is to cleanse the Middle East of the poisonous corruption of American power and influence.

In pursuit of his desire to make the Islamic Republic into an accepted, normalized “successful regional power,” Obama decided to take over the nuclear negotiations. At the time, Tehran was reeling — the rial plunging, inflation skyrocketing, the economy contracting — under a regime of international sanctions painstakingly constructed over a decade.

Then, instead of welcoming Congress’ attempt to tighten sanctions to increase the pressure on the mullahs, Obama began the negotiations by loosening sanctions, injecting billions into the Iranian economy (which began growing again in 2014) and conceding in advance an Iranian right to enrich uranium.

It’s been downhill ever since. Desperate for a legacy deal, Obama has played the supplicant, abandoning every red line his administration had declared essential to any acceptable deal.

Inspections. They were to be anywhere, anytime, unimpeded. Now? Total cave. Unfettered access has become “managed access.” Nuclear inspectors will have to negotiate and receive Iranian approval for inspections. Which allows them denial and/or crucial delay for concealing any clandestine activities.

To give a flavor of the degree of our capitulation, the administration played Iran’s lawyer on this one, explaining that, after all, “the United States of America wouldn’t allow anybody to get into every military site, so that’s not appropriate.” Apart from the absurdity of morally equating America with the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism, if we were going to parrot the Iranian position, why wait 19 months to do so — after repeatedly insisting on free access as essential to any inspection regime?

Coming clean on past nuclear activity. The current interim agreement that governed the past 19 months of negotiation required Iran to do exactly that. Tehran has offered nothing. The administration had insisted that this accounting was essential because how can you verify future illegal advances in Iran’s nuclear program if you have no baseline?

After continually demanding access to their scientists, plans and weaponization facilities, Secretary of State John Kerry two weeks ago airily dismissed the need, saying he is focused on the future, “not fixated” on the past. And that we have “absolute knowledge” of the Iranian program anyway — a whopper that his staffers had to spend days walking back.

Not to worry, we are told. The accounting will be done after the final deal is signed. Which is ridiculous. If the Iranians haven’t budged on disclosing previous work under the current sanctions regime, by what logic will they comply after sanctions are lifted?

Sanctions relief. These were to be gradual and staged as the International Atomic Energy Agency certified Iranian compliance over time. Now we’re going to be releasing up to $150 billion as an upfront signing bonus. That’s 25 times the annual budget of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Enough to fuel a generation of intensified Iranian aggression from Yemen to Lebanon to Bahrain.

Yet three months ago, Obama expressed nonchalance about immediate sanctions relief. It’s not the issue, he said. The real issue is “snap-back” sanctions to be reimposed if Iran is found in violation.

Good grief. Iran won’t be found in violation. The inspection regime is laughable and the bureaucratic procedures endless. Moreover, does anyone imagine that Russia and China will reimpose sanctions? Or that the myriad European businesses preparing to join the Iranian gold rush the day the deal is signed will simply turn around and go home?

Nonnuclear-related sanctions. The administration insisted that the nuclear talks would not affect separate sanctions imposed because of Iranian aggression and terrorism. That was then. The administration is now leaking that everything will be lifted.

Taken together, the catalog of capitulations is breathtaking: spot inspections, disclosure of previous nuclear activity, gradual sanctions relief, retention of nonnuclear sanctions.

What’s left? A surrender document of the kind offered by defeated nations suing for peace. Consider: The strongest military and economic power on earth, backed by the five other major powers, armed with what had been a crushing sanctions regime, is about to sign the worst international agreement in U.S. diplomatic history.

How did it come to this? With every concession, Obama and Kerry made clear they were desperate for a deal.

And they will get it. Obama will get his “legacy.” Kerry will get his Nobel. And Iran will get the bomb.

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Do the numbers.

I’ve always loved mathematics to approximately the same extent that I consider myself a math rookie when it comes to it’s higher forms — which is a lot.  With regard to my lack of expertise in math I take some level of comfort from the words of Albert Einstein when he said: “Do not worry about your difficulties in Mathematics. I can assure you mine are still greater.”  There is a true beauty in Math in the way it works, the way it holds together. Perhaps the most wondrous aspect of math for me is the way that it can be used to describe the physical reality that we observe all around us and the way that following the leads set out by mathematics result in fantastic discoveries.  These two features of mathematics are highlighted in the following article about the relationship of math with astronomy which I believe you may find interesting.  This blog post by Joshua Carroll appeared at www.universetoday.com as: Mathematics: The Beautiful Language of the Universe.  RMF

Mathematics: The Beautiful Language of the Universe
by JOSHUA CARROLL

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Joshua Carroll

Joshua Carroll

Let us discuss the very nature of the cosmos. What you may find in this discussion is not what you expect. Going into a conversation about the universe as a whole, you would imagine a story full of wondrous events such as stellar collapse, galactic collisions, strange occurrences with particles, and even cataclysmic eruptions of energy. You may be expecting a story stretching the breadth of time as we understand it, starting from the Big Bang and landing you here, your eyes soaking in the photons being emitted from your screen. Of course, the story is grand. But there is an additional side to this amazing assortment of events that oftentimes is overlooked; that is until you truly attempt to understand what is going on. Behind all of those fantastic realizations, there is a mechanism at work that allows for us to discover all that you enjoy learning about. That mechanism is mathematics, and without it the universe would still be shrouded in darkness. In this article, I will attempt to persuade you that math isn’t some arbitrary and sometimes pointless mental task that society makes it out to be, and instead show you that it is a language we use to communicate with the stars.   Continue reading

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Is patriotism truly passé?

This is July 4th.  Does it hold the same meaning for you as it did in the past?  With the way things are going in our country it is easy to forget the blessings that we’re afforded as Americans.  It certainly seems to many that the godly principles upon which America was founded are being discarded at a rapid rate.  So, should we still feel a sense of patriotic pride as fireworks and the National Anthem fill the air this 4th? Bob Russell helps me process this in the following article which appeared at www.bobrussell.org.  RMF

Four Patriotic Lessons for July 4th
by Bob Russell

Old Glory

Old Glory

Bob Russell

Bob Russell

Patriotism has become passé these days. After all, it’s been 239 years since the signing of the Declaration of Independence, so naturally, enthusiasm for July 4 celebrations has waned. And in recent years progressive educators have focused on America’s flagrant flaws (slavery, greed, war, etc.) and pretty much ignored our nation’s accomplishments.

No wonder when Rolling Stone magazine polled its readers on the question, “Is there anything that would motivate you to die for your country?” forty percent said no. Most youth are ignorant of America’s unique spiritual heritage and have little concept of what our nation was intended to be. We’ve slipped a long way from the founding father’s willingness to pledge their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor for freedom to the cavalier spirit that permeates so many in this age.  Continue reading

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The SCOTUS has spoken — One commentator’s reaction

Whatever your view of the recent Supreme Court ruling on the “constitutional right to same sex marriage,” it is definitely one that now or later will have a significant impact on you, people who are important to you and, if you have one, your church.  A commentator on culture and issues of interest to Christians I respect is Albert Mohler. Dr. Mohler is a theologian and president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. He just released the following article which helps me process what has happened.  The article appeared at: www.albertmohler.com. I hope you will appreciate his commentary.  RMF

Everything Has Changed and Nothing Has Changed — The Supreme Court Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage

By Albert Mohler

US Supreme Court iWashington DC

US Supreme Court iWashington DC

Albert Mohler

Albert Mohler

Everything has changed and nothing has changed. The Supreme Court’s decision yesterday is a central assault upon marriage as the conjugal union of a man and a woman and in a five to four decision the nation’s highest court has now imposed its mandate redefining marriage on all fifty states.
As Chief Justice Roberts said in his dissent, “The majority’s decision is an act of will, not a legal judgment.”
The majority’s argument, expressed by Justice Kennedy, is that the right of same-sex couples to marry is based in individual autonomy as related to sexuality, in marriage as a fundamental right, in marriage as a privileged context for raising children, and in upholding marriage as central to civilization. But at every one of these points, the majority had to reinvent marriage in order to make its case. The Court has not merely ordered that same-sex couples be allowed to marry – it has fundamentally redefined marriage itself.
The inventive legal argument set forth by the majority is clearly traceable in Justice Kennedy’s previous decisions including Lawrence (2003) and Windsor (2013), and he cites his own decisions as legal precedent. As the Chief Justice makes clear, Justice Kennedy and his fellow justices in the majority wanted to legalize same-sex marriage and they invented a constitutional theory to achieve their purpose. It was indeed an act of will disguised as a legal judgment.
Justice Kennedy declared that “the right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment couples of the same-sex cannot be deprived of that right and that liberty.” But marriage is nowhere to be found in the Constitution. As the Chief Justice asserted in his dissent, the majority opinion did not really make any serious constitutional argument at all. It was, as the Chief Justice insisted, an argument based in philosophy rather than in law.   Continue reading

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