Proposed Kansas legislation would reimburse business owners for some pandemic closure losses

Kimberly James | The Center Square contributor Mar 25, 2021

(The Center Square) – The Kansas Legislature is considering two bills that would provide direct benefits to businesses that were shut down or restricted during the COVID-19 the pandemic.

Senate Bill 149 would allow for county governments to reimburse businesses the property taxes they paid while shut down under county restrictions. Senate Bill 286 would require the state to reimburse a portion of property taxes paid while businesses were shut down, as well as give business owners the ability to claim credit for up to 10 years on their property tax liability.

“Businesses that have been shut down or restricted during the pandemic who are paying attention to this are waiting for what potential legislative fix arises,” Eric Stafford, vice president of Government Affairs at the Kansas Chamber, told The Center Square. “Under current Kansas law, if neither of these bills pass, those businesses have a right to reimbursement for use of their facility.”

Stafford said he thinks SB286 is more likely to pass than SB149, and there are still some details in the bill that need to be refined.

An agreement has been reached between businesses that were suing the state for revenue losses during the pandemic and the state’s attorney general to allow the legislature to resolve the matter this session. Under current Kansas law, if neither of these bills passes this session, those businesses that originally filed suit have a right to reimbursement for the use of their facility.

“It’s not unreasonable for a business owner that was forced to close to say, ‘Well if you’re going to close me or keep me restricted for six months, why do I still owe my full property tax burden?” Stafford said. “In our view, it’s definitely reasonable to understand the predicament the existing law places local governments in through the shutdown while at the same time providing the benefit to the taxpayer who suffered over the last 12 months.”

When to Let Someone Back in Your Life that Has Hurt You

by stephanie reck  

Relationships can be complicated, especially when there have been times of hurt and pain. How do you know when it may be time to reengage in a relationship that has caused you pain? In this article I will explore when you will know when it’s time to let someone back into your life, and how to do this.

I have several relationships in my family that have caused me a lot of pain, stress and heartache over the years. I have struggled deeply with what the right thing to do in these relationships, reengage, keep a healthy distance, or remove them from my life. I go back and forth many days with what I believe I should do. First let me say that the relationships in my life that have caused me deep pain has been ongoing for many years, and I have suffered physically, spiritually and emotionally because of the damage these relationships have been to me. It is much easier to distance yourself from a friend that has caused you pain, but a family member is much more complicated. There are at times I just want to “keep the peace,” and forget what they did, but I can’t! 

Ways to release the pain that others have inflicted upon you:

  1. Work out your forgiveness with those that hurt you. Tell God how you feel and repent for holding onto any unforgiveness, anger, or bitterness towards them. Forgiving someone that hurt you can be a process and it is something that you may have to do daily and when “triggers” occur, such as when they do a similar thing to hurt you again. Forgiveness is never a one-time deal, but a choice every time that person that has hurt you does something again to upset you or a painful memory comes up. 
  2. Never let anyone pressure you back into a relationship. Forgiveness and reconciliation are two different things. Forgiveness does not mean letting the offense reoccur again and again, you do not have to tolerate a lack of respect or abuse. 
  3. Choose to speak blessings over the person or people that hurt you instead of all the negative they did to you. 
  4. Don’t keep replaying in your mind what they did, give them grace and say, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Every time what they have done to you is played in your head, choose to say, “I forgive you.” 
  5. Take control of your thoughts, behavior and actions. Don’t let anyone control your joy, peace and happiness. 
  6. You can’t make people change, but you can change how you respond to them. You can choose if a relationship is healthy for you. It’s okay to create space between you and the person that hurt you to heal. Healing will be much more difficult if you are continually engaging with people who are doing the same things that hurt you before.

How To know when you should reengage with someone who has hurt you:

  1. Accept the person where they are at, but don’t allow yourself to be put in a position to be hurt again. Set boundaries upfront. Boundaries may look like limiting the time you spend with them. 
  2. You have to decide if reengaging would be beneficial to you both, or would it be a one-sided relationship? 
  3. Have they changed? Is there tangible proof, not their words but actions that they are different? Do they continue to dismiss or downplay their hurtful behavior? 
  4. Keep your heart guarded until you know there is a true repentance and a turning away form their hurtful actions and behaviors. Keeping your heart guarded means not allowing them into your most intimate, personal parts of your life.
  5. Are you able to be around that person without feeling stressed, anxious, or angry? If not, you need time to heal. 
  6. Be willing to admit ways that you may have contributed to the problem. 
  7. Be realistic about the process. Change often requires time and hard work. Periodic failure by the offender does not always indicate an unrepented heart. 

The reconciliation process of healing from damaged relationships can be circumvented by well-meaning “forget and move on” people, the hurt person can become resentful over time, and the relationship is not healed; it is more deeply damaged.  Never just “patch’ things up and pretend nothing happened in those relationships that have hurt you in some way, both parties involved should be willing to work though their hurt and  the relationship should never be forced. If you have deep pain from these relationships you will need time and space to heal. Creating healthy distance can help you love the person that has hurt you instead of becoming resentful against them for not changing into the person that you needed them to be. 

You can forgive people who have hurt you deeply but sometimes it is always possible to reconcile with abusive, hurtful or unrepentive people. God does desire full forgiveness and reconciliation. If there is a middle ground that both parties can offer full forgiveness and do their best to reconcile, that would be better than both parties being bitter and resentful of each other. 

Words alone are not enough to restore trust. When you have been significantly hurt and feel hesitant about restoration, it is wise to look for changes in the offender before allowing reconciliation again. Only God knows people’s hearts, but you can evaluate people’s actions. 

Stephanie R. Reck, LMSW, LBT, BCCC
Founder of Hope Ministry
www.stephaniereck.com
Hopeandencouragement4women@gmail.com
Hope Ministry, @2021
Author of, “Disciplining Your Mind 30 Days to a Better You!”

Conservatives cheer Wisconsin Supreme Court’s limits of Gov. Evers’ power

Benjamin Yount / The Center Square contributor 4 hrs ago

(The Center Square) – Conservatives inside and outside the Wisconsin Capitol say the state’s Supreme Court ruling against Gov. Tony Evers and his coronavirus emergencies orders restores a balance to state government.

“Today’s ruling vindicates the legislature as a co-equal branch of government,” Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu said Wednesday. “[This] ruling upholds the separation of powers and the rule of law – core principles since the founding of our state and nation. The Governor’s repeated abuse of emergency powers and pervasive violation of state statute created a state of chaos and had to be stopped.”

The court ruled 4-3 that Evers overstepped his constitutional powers by issuing an extended emergency order under which he placed limits on crowds and required people in the state to wear facemasks.

“The question in this case is not whether the Governor acted wisely; it is whether he acted lawfully,” Justice Brian Hagedorn wrote for the majority. “The plain language of the statute explains that the governor may, for 60 days, act with expanded powers to address a particular emergency. Beyond 60 days, however, the legislature reserves for itself the power to determine the policies that govern the state’s response to an ongoing problem.”

The court’s liberal justices echoed the governor’s argument, that the coronavirus outbreak is different, and should have given the governor different powers.

“This is no run-of-the-mill case,” Justice Ann Walsh Bradley wrote in her dissent. “With the stakes so high, the majority not only arrives at erroneous conclusions, but it also obscures the consequence of its decision.”

The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, which has challenged the governor’s use of his emergency powers, said Wisconsin law is clear, and it’s been clear for months that Gov. Evers has been breaking the law.

“Gov. Evers abused the law and the constitutional separation of powers by declaring multiple, consecutive emergencies,” WILL President Rick Esenberg said. “This decision ensures that Wisconsin’s constitutional order cannot be suspended for unlimited periods of time as long as the executive branch can justify an emergency declaration.”

In a statement, Gov. Evers’ noted his policies were based on his trusting science and public health experts.

“Despite today’s victory for civil liberties, I have no doubt that Evers and his minions are not done yet,” Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, said Wednesday. “They will now focus their energies on organizing further infringements on civil liberties through excessive actions by liberal-leaning local governments and public health officials.”

In fact, coronavirus restrictions and mask requirements will continue for many people in Wisconsin. The court’s ruling only impacts the governor’s statewide order. The ruling does nothing about local orders imposed by cities or counties. 

Whitmer’s job approval rating takes tumble in latest polling of Michigan residents

By Bruce Walker | The Center Square Mar 23, 2021

(The Center Square) – Results of a new poll indicate a majority of Michigan residents are unhappy with the direction the country is headed, and an increasing number are displeased with the job performance of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

The Michigan Poll from Lansing-based Marketing Resource Group, released Tuesday, concludes that 52% of respondents believe the country is on the wrong track compared to 36% that said otherwise. Six months ago, the results were 66% wrong track and 25% right direction.

Among other results reported by the MRG poll, Whitmer’s job approval rating dropped five percentage points since September. At that time, 5

Forty-seven percent of surveyed respondents believe Michigan is on the wrong track, compared to 44% who believe Michigan is headed in the right direction. MRG says the margin of error for the poll is +/- 4 percentage points.

The drop in the governor’s approval was attributed in part to her handling of the resignation of former Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Robert Gordon in January, and the revelation he signed a confidentiality agreement with the governor’s administration while at the same time receiving a taxpayer-funded buyout of $155,506. Only 11% of those polled responded they agreed with the governor, while 72.4% responded they disagreed with the deal.

The governor’s approval rating was also negatively impacted by her decision to place COVID-19 positive patients in the state’s long-term residential facilities. The governor has not released complete data on nursing home fatalities from COVID-19, but more than 5,500 deaths attributed to COVID-19 occurred in nursing homes. Of those polled, 61.3% disapproved of Whitmer’s handling of COVID-19 patients in nursing homes, and only 21.8% approved.

Coronavirus dominated the list of top issues with 40% of respondents listing it as number one. The economy and jobs came in second at 21%, and politicians/government topped out the top three at 13%.

All told, 47% of respondents reported a positive feeling toward the governor and 42% have a negative feeling, compared to the last fall’s Michigan Poll that showed positive feelings for Whitmer at 50% and negative feelings for her at 40%.

“Public pressure has been mounting on Governor Whitmer over the past few months, and voters are taking notice,” MRG owner Jenell Leonard said in a statement. “Not much has changed in voters’ sentiment about the direction of the state, but they seem to be watching the policies and action of the Governor more closely and judging accordingly.”

Leonard continued: “While numbers have improved on the national level, voters are still not happy with the overall direction of the country. “COVID-19, jobs and the economy continue to be the most important issues and how leaders are addressing these issues, are shaping their outlook.”

Whitmer garnered her highest job approval rating in Detroit, Wayne County, and mid-Michigan. Those respondents expressing the highest negative job approvals resided in Northern Lower Michigan, Macomb County, and the Upper Peninsula.

“Michiganders overwhelmingly oppose Gov. Whitmer’s taxpayer-funded hush money payment to the former health director as well as her handling of nursing homes where at least 5,500 seniors have died,” Tori Sachs, executive director of Michigan Rising Action, told The Center Square. “Whitmer should immediately disclose why this shady financial arrangement with the person who directed shutdowns and oversaw nursing home policies was made and what they are trying to cover-up.”

The MRG poll reported 43.9% of respondents identified as Democrats, 13% identified as Independent, and 39.8% identified as Republican. Of those, 42.1% placed themselves on the conservative spectrum, 28.9% said they were moderate, and 23.2% said they were either somewhat or very liberal.

The poll also featured questions on the performance of President Joseph Biden during the first two months of his administration. Fifty percent reported they approved of Biden’s performance, and 41% said they disapproved.

Louisiana, 12 other states sue Biden administration over leasing moratorium

By David Jacobs | The Center Square Mar 24, 2021 Updated Mar 24, 2021

(The Center Square) – Thirteen states, including Louisiana, have sued President Joe Biden’s administration, claiming the president’s moratorium on new oil and gas leases on public land and offshore waters violates federal law.

“The Biden plan fails under the law, and it fails to account for the environmental benefits of producing domestic energy under one of the most stringent and detailed regulatory frameworks in the world,” Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said Wednesday.

The Biden administration issued an executive order in January, declaring a “pause” on new oil and gas leases on public land and offshore “pending completion of a comprehensive review and reconsideration of Federal oil and gas permitting and leasing practices.” The secretary of the interior was directed to consider whether royalty rates associated with coal, oil and gas should be adjusted to account for the impact of those fuel sources on climate change.

The lawsuit argues the agencies tasked with enforcing the order “rushed to halt long-planned lease sales using an opaque and nonpublic process.” Regulators failed to consider whether the order is in line with legal requirements and failed to consult states, the lawsuit said.

Landry said the administration undermines its own arguments about the need to consider environmental impact and “picks winners and losers” by exempting tribal lands from the moratorium. Industry representatives said exploration in the Gulf of Mexico produces less carbon than in other jurisdictions where regulations are not as stringent and where oil-and-gas drilling operations could move.

Mineral revenue also helps to fund coastal restoration and hurricane protection projects in Louisiana. Cancellation of one federal lease sale and the suspension of two others will reduce Louisiana’s share of Gulf of Mexico Energy and Security Act funding, which is dedicated to coastal projects, by up to $17 million, said state Rep. Blake Miguez, R-Erath.

The Gulf of Mexico supports 94,000 Louisiana jobs, said Mike Moncla, president of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association. It is unclear when the moratorium might end or how any new rules might affect jobs and revenue for Louisiana.

The U.S. Department of the Interior declined to comment on the pending litigation.

Landry is taking a more aggressive stance against the moratorium than Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, who also has expressed concerns. Edwards said Wednesday he had not had a chance to read the lawsuit.

Edwards recently became chairman of the Outer Continental Shelf Governors Coalition, a discussion and policy platform for offshore energy issues shared by coastal states and the federal government. He said he has spoken with industry and federal officials about the moratorium and said it’s clear enough leases already have been issued so that a temporary pause should not cause economic harm.

Edwards said he has stressed to federal officials that demand for oil and gas isn’t going away anytime soon, and oil production from the Gulf of Mexico leads to less carbon emissions than from anywhere else in the world. Permits to drill on existing leases are starting to be issued again, he said.

“Just as you’re starting to have the communication get you to a point where you’re feeling better about things and the permits are being issued probably isn’t the best time to file litigation,” Edwards said. “I don’t know how this litigation [a reporter asked about] advances our goals, but we’ll see.”

Ohio House sends message to Michigan governor to keep pipeline open

By J.D. Davidson | The Center Square 9 hrs ago

(The Center Square) – The Ohio House has sent a message to Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, urging her to abandon her plan to force a company to close a pipeline that could threaten Ohio energy supplies and jobs.

Whitmer, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and Michigan Department of Natural Resources Director Dan Eichinger filed a lawsuit Nov. 13 in Ingham County Court demanding Enbridge Inc. cease Line 5 operations by May. The easement has been in place since 1953.

In a resolution passing the Ohio House, 73-10, on Thursday, lawmakers want every effort made to keep the line open. The resolution previously received unanimous support in the Transportation and Public Safety Committee.

“[Thursday’s] vote was a strong, bipartisan show of support for Ohio’s workers, and I hope that passage of this resolution will sway Governor Whitmer to reverse course on this issue,” Rep. Michael Sheehy, D-Oregon, said in a statement. “The closure of Line 5 not only threatens to disrupt the region’s energy supply, it threatens hundreds of good-paying union jobs. The effects of this decision will fall heavily on working-class families and communities.”

Line 5 provides petroleum products that have become essential to the energy needs of Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Ontario and Quebec. Enbridge warns that a disruption of this supply would result in “devastating consequences.”

The Line 5 pipeline services two Oregon refineries in northwest Ohio. Closing the line would cause a significant disruption in the supply chain, which serves as a source of jet fuel for several regional and international airports, particularly in Cleveland and Detroit, Sheehy said.

Whitmer and Eichinger said the administration’s actions are based on what they are characterizing as Enbridge’s violation of the public trust doctrine, which protects the state’s natural resources.

Among the violations cited by the governor are “the unreasonable risk that continued operation of the dual pipelines poses to the Great Lakes,” according to a November news release. Whitmer cited events in April 2018 and another in 2019 in which Line 5 was damaged.

The first event was an anchor strike from a commercial vehicle, and the second, reported by the company in June 2020, was from either an anchor or cable from ships. Although pipeline coatings and a support were damaged in these incidents, the pipelines did not leak any oil into the Great Lakes.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s charity spent nearly $8 million funding Michigan’s elections

By Scott McClallen | The Center Square Mar 16, 2021

(The Center Square) – When Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s charity spent at least $8 million funding Michigan elections with unknown strings attached, some lawmakers felt uneasy.

Zuckerberg and his wife Priscella Chan, through their Chicago-based nonprofit, the Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL), contributed $400 million nationwide into the 2020 election.

CTCL said the funds supported local elections, including poll worker recruitment, hazard pay, poll rentals, and nonpartisan voter education to award over 2,500 grants to city and county elections offices nationwide.

The most grants, 474, were awarded to Michigan, CTCL says in its preliminary grants list, followed by Massachusetts with 266 and Maine with 208, according to influencewatch.org.

In a phone interview with The Center Square, Rep. Matt Hall, R-Marshall, explained his concern.

“I think it continues to add doubt to people’s minds about the integrity of our elections. When you have private entities funding all kinds of municipalities and dumping all kinds of money into our election administration, it just creates questions about what strings are attached.”

Hall asked what the public reaction would be if a prominent conservative donated millions to Michigan’s elections.

“I think people on the left would be saying, ‘wait a minute, what are they tying to this?’”

Erick Kaardal, an attorney who challenged the constitutionality of private election funding in Michigan, told The Center Square in a phone interview he believes the problem isn’t just the money but also the conditions upon accepting it.

“Before this election, everyone thought that elections were run based on conditions set by state legislatures and Congress,” Kaardal said.

Kaardal represented the Conservative Amistad Project of the Thomas More Society.

“Privatizing the management of elections undermines the integrity of our elections because private donors may dictate where and how hundreds of millions of dollars will be managed in these states,” Phill Kline, the project’s director, said in an Oct. 2020 statement.

CTCL didn’t respond to multiple requests for an interview. According to its website, its stated mission is to “connect Americans with the information they need to become and remain civically engaged, and ensure that our elections are more professional, inclusive, and secure.”

Failed and pending lawsuits alleged the private grants disproportionately benefitted high-population, liberal communities and violated federal or state election law.

The New York Times reported the communities that were grant recipients cast about 76% of their combined votes for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Sen. Ed McBroom, chair of the Senate Oversight Committee, told The Center Square in an email that private interference with elections is a “serious concern.”

“After more than 30 hours of public, committee meetings and hundreds of hours of research and examination of thousands of documents, affidavits, audits, videos, and testimony, it is apparent to me that private, outside entities becoming entangled with the administration of our elections with little oversight is a serious concern,” McBroom said in a statement. “The money and requirements that accompany them are not part of a fair and transparent process and suggested reforms on this issue will be included in the Committee’s report.” 

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has said the 2020 election was the most secure in history and didn’t seem concerned about outsourcing election funding.

Michigan Department of State spokesperson Jake Rollow said the grants “bolstered local clerks’ offices ability to inform voters and carry out secure, safe and accurate elections that affirm public confidence in 2020.”

“Election offices are often under-resourced at the local level, have not been supported by the state legislature and many were eager for additional funding in 2020, when they were implementing new voting rights amidst a global pandemic,” Rollow said in a statement.

Hayden Ludwig, a senior investigative researcher at the conservative Capital Research Center, pointed out what he saw as hypocrisy.

“I find it really rich that many liberals find the idea of privatizing garbage collection to be abhorrent, but they’re perfectly OK with privatizing an election,” he told The Center Square.

The total amount of private grants is unknown but total at least $7.6 million.

Documents obtained by The Center Square through public records requests and sources show Detroit received $3.5 million; Wayne County: $432,620; Pontiac: $405,000; Flint: $475,625; Lansing: $488,000; Ann Arbor: $417,000; and Grand Rapids: $280,000.

Pontiac Interim City Clerk Garland Doyle told The Center Square the grant more than doubled its election budget, and they got a spending deadline extension. Without the money, they would have had “a huge budget deficit,” Doyle said in a phone interview.

Michigan House Oversight Committee investigates governor’s COVID-19 nursing home policies

By Bruce Walker | The Center Square Feb 25, 2021

(The Center Square) – The Michigan House Oversight Committee convened Thursday morning to discuss the long-term care facility policies instituted by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Former legislators, facility directors, and family members of long-term care residents provided testimony to the committee.

Each offered details related to the state’s policies, which all agreed failed long-term care residents and their family members uninfected by the COVID-19 virus.

“Right now in Michigan we actually have the 14th highest COVID-19 nursing home deaths per 100 residents in the nation,” Rep. Steve Johnson, R-Wayland, chair of the Oversight Committee, said in his opening comments.

Johnson added the committee had requested testimony from the governor’s administration, but was declined. Johnson quoted from a letter the committee received in which the administration claimed it was collecting the “best data out there,” but failed to share any of its data.

“I’m just a simple guy, but in my mind if you had the best data out there, wouldn’t you share it with people?” Johnson asked. “That seems to be a pretty commonsense solution here.”

Michigan reported a total of 15,405 COVID-19 related deaths between March 2020 and Feb. 24, 2021. More than one-third of those deaths, 5,500, occurred in long-term care facilities, Johnson said.

The Oversight Committee hearing follows one day after Michigan Senate Republicans sent letters to Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and the U.S. Department of Justice, issuing formal complaints and requesting an investigation into state policies that they claim inadvertently led to a disproportionate number of deaths in long-term care facilities.

In his letter to Nessel, Sen. Jim Runestad, R-White Lake, referenced a Department of Justice request last August in which the department sought data from Whitmer and three other governors “who issued orders that may have resulted in the deaths of elderly nursing home residents.”

Runestad and seven other Republican state senators asked the attorney general and the Department of Justice to review the governor’s processes and policies that may have spread the virus in the state’s nursing homes; investigate the accuracy of data reported by the governor’s administration; and look into whether the state complied with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and reporting requirements as well as Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act.

“Gov. Whitmer’s regional hub policy placed patients with and without COVID-19 in the same facilities and may have exacerbated the death toll in those facilities,” the senators wrote. “Executive Order 50 of 2020 required long-term care facilities with dedicated units to accept admission of residents who had tested positive for the virus regardless of whether those residents may have still been contagious.”

The letter continued to cite reporting failures, which led to a lack of accurate data on the number of long-term care residents harmed by the governor’s policies.

Arizona GOP looks to pressure Congress against supporting Democratic election overhaul

By Cole Lauterbach | The Center Square Feb 26, 2021

(The Center Square) – The Arizona Legislature is in the process of sending a message to Washington that it opposes the For the People Act.

House Concurrent Resolution 2023 has survived two committees along party-line votes and needs an additional floor vote before being considered in the Arizona Senate. Lawmakers recommended passage from a Committee of the Whole on Thursday. 

It affirms the Legislature “oppose[s] any attempt by the federal government to usurp, or otherwise interfere with, the state legislative sovereign authority over the management, control and administration of elections,” and notifies Congress of its opposition to House Resolution 1.

If enacted, HR 1 would require automatic voter registration upon interacting with any of several state agencies unless the person “opts-out” of signing up, expand early voting and vote-by-mail provisions, limit anonymous donations to many nonprofits who are allowed to spend a portion of their funds on political activity, legalize what’s commonly called “ballot harvesting,” create taxpayer-funded campaign matching programs, allow felons who complete their sentence to vote, prohibit voter roll purging and institute independent redistricting. 

Supporters say the bill would remove hurdles to participating in the democratic process. Opponents say it federalizes election laws the Constitution delegates to states.

Lead sponsor Rep. Jake Hoffman, R-Queen Creek, said Thursday the elections reform bill contains many problematic changes.

“It allows for taxpayer-funded campaigns for federal office,” he said. “In that taxpayer funding, it also allows for federal candidates to draw a salary of upwards of half-a-million dollars off of that taxpayer-funded campaign.”

Democrats uniformly opposed Hoffman’s resolution, saying HR 1 would give disenfranchised voters a voice.

“We have a duty to stand up for all voices, especially the most vulnerable,” said Rep. Athena Salman, D-Tempe.

Arizona’s role in the fate of the federal bill is significant. U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona, was one of two Democrats to deny her party enough votes to abolish the filibuster. Without her support to get rid of the parliamentary procedure, HR 1 is unlikely to make it to President Joe Biden’s desk since it increases the Senate’s required vote threshold to 60, several beyond the thin Democratic majority.

Achieving Political Unity

To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 

To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 

To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 1Corinthians 9:20 -22

Do you think the above texts are applicable to todays Christian lifestyle? Do you think it’s possible to be one with all men regardless of political beliefs?

Is it possible to be a Democrat to a Democrat and a Conservative to a Conservative? Or is that being Fake?

Is it possible both parties have good ideas?

I met a lady whose health insurance payments increased over $500.00 under Obama Care. To my surprise, she was not angry or upset about it.

She strongly believed healthcare should be provided for all, even if she had to pay extra.

OMG! I was astounded, I had never heard of such thinking.

What about people on welfare? Do you like providing for those who don’t work and refuse to take of themselves?

Well, she said, I don’t know how they were raised. They may have experienced traumatic events in childhood, that may keep them from working. Many people appear to be fine on the outside but have mental health issues. Many are addicted to drugs and alcohol, they can’t work.

Again, my thoughts were OMG, I’ve never heard of such thinking!

What about free education, I asked? Do you think College education should be free for All?

 Yes, I think education should be free for All. Education will deliver people from poverty. With education, they will learn how to make better decisions.

OMG! I’ve never heard of such thinking!

Isn’t this Socialist thinking?  Are you a Socialist?

No, This is “Independent” thinking.

Independent thinkers are not party affiliated, they vote for the right candidate, regardless of party.

I came away from the conversation, enlightened. Imagine being willing to pay more for health care to help someone else.

I wondered what God thought of her line of thinking. I felt as if He smiled and said, “In politics,  everything’s not black and white. Some would freely pay more to help others some would not.” So what’s the solution, I thought?

Perhaps, instead of mandating certain laws make it optional? If some want to pay more for healthcare, or education assistance, they can pay more.

If others don’t want to pay more, perhaps they should not be required to pay more.

Payers shouldn’t judge and condemn non-payers and non-payers shouldn’t judge and condemn those wanting to pay more.

The goal is unity. We should strive to live at peace with all men. A house divided cannot stand and Satan knows it.

I remember watching the movie Ghost Rider years ago. The star of the movie made a deal with the devil and got played.

Don’t be deceived, don’t get played, the devil is a cruel jokester and master. Don’t believe your way is the only way and everyone else is wrong, worthy of your wrath. Listen to the other side, your family members, friends and neighbors are not your enemies. Satan is the invisible enemy, he’s against both parties. If we bite and devour each other he wins.

Galatians 5:15  But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. Albert Barnes says of the above verse, “As wild beasts contend sometimes until both are slain. The idea is, in their contentions they would destroy the spirituality and happiness of each other.”

Dwell in the light of unity and respect each other. This will bring peace and prosperity for all. Trust, me, says, the Lord. I can turn hard hearts into hearts of flesh. Humble yourselves, find things in common with so-called political opponents, and watch me pour out righteousness upon the land.

I will deal with principalities and powers who are usurping authority in the land. Over 2000 years ago, my Son declared Satan has been judged and cast out. Yet, he seeks to reign in your land by crowning himself as King.

I sit in heaven and laugh as he sits on a throne made of toothpicks. A small gust of wind blowing from the mouths of my people as they speak gently and work together, will cause Him to flee. Yes, it will happen as you live in Unity!

Inspirational Verses: When Brothers Dwell in Unity
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! 
It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore. Psalm 133:1-3

Gratitude, What a Way to Live!

By Anjte Hill

In a day when the pressure is on to buy the latest new gadgets or products, it is tempting to look and want more. Dr. Robert Emmons, in his new book on gratitude, says by the age of twenty-one the average adult will have seen one million TV commercials. By playing on our desires, our sense of gratitude diminishes and the want for more fills our mind. The wisdom of the bible tells us that Godliness with contentment is great gain. (1Timothy 6:6) Contentment can become a lifestyle we pass on to our children. It is done by living it before them. It is important for us to learn to focus on our blessings, rather than our minuses. In the 1800s, Charles Dickens said, “Reflect on your present blessings, of which every man has many; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”

Life hurts, we gain, and we lose. Some days are better than others, and some heartaches take longer to heal. Once the initial trauma is over, if we look around, we can see others that are hurting as well. It is then that thankfulness can shine through, simply from having come ‘through’ our problems. And it all begins with a thought.

The bible says, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2) We get to choose where our mind goes, but it is not easy and we cannot do this by our self. Our Heavenly Father is so willing to come along side us, as we make a focused decision to change who we are by changing how we think.

I read an interesting article a few months ago of a country that passed a law in July of this year, requiring people to visit or keep in touch with elderly parents or risk being sued and possible penalties. The article stated that this law is basically to bring awareness to their problem of the aging population and their needs. Could gratitude for parents alleviate this problem?

When children are taught to be thankful for the good things that come their way, it changes their outlook on life. In addition, they can learn to be thankful for hard times as well, because they make us stronger. Children taught to be givers learn to see need. They develop compassion for those less fortunate. They grow to be thankful adults.

There are many websites to help parents with young children to focus on thankfulness. Check out http://www.happydoll.org. In addition, a trip to Goodwill or Salvation Army, to take gently used toys that no longer fascinate your children, is a teaching moment. They learn needy children don’t get new toys. Of course, thankfulness can start with a simple prayer at the table for food to eat. For those needing more than biblical wisdom on this subject, it has been proven scientifically, (check out Dr. Emmons’ research), thankful people are happier people.

“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” I Thess. 5:18 (NKJV)

Antje and her husband, Richard, live in MS. She is a columnist for Parents and Kids Magazine. She loves sharing her parenting experiences and helping other see how the years fly and how important it is to make each moment count.

Article Source: Faithwriters.com

Eat and Drink Smart to Fend Off Cold and Flu Season

(Family Features) It’s no secret that a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and veggies can deliver important vitamins and nutrients for better health, but many of your favorite foods can actually help support your immune system, too.

In addition to precautions like avoiding people who are sick and washing your hands often, you can influence your immune system through what you eat and drink.

Stay hydrated. Keeping well hydrated can be difficult during the winter months, especially if you spend most of your time indoors. A warm drink like this flavorful Orange Spiced Tea provides a strong dose of vitamin C along with a delicious dose of hydration.

Keep the produce going strong. Fresh, seasonal fruits and veggies often come to mind during warmer months, but produce like citrus, leafy greens and root vegetables are plentiful during cold and flu season, too.

“Consuming the whole fruit is the best way to ensure you gain the maximum nutritional benefit,” Dr. Poonam Desai said. “When speaking with patients, I recommend seeking nutrients like vitamin C from whole food sources, rather than supplements, especially with a vitamin C-rich fruit like California oranges.”

Get a natural boost of vitamins. Vitamins A and C, found in fresh citrus, are two key nutrients that support your body’s natural line of defense, your immune system. Just one orange offers 90% of the daily recommended value of vitamin C, and California Navel oranges are in their peak season – just in time for the height of cold and flu season.

Get inspired with more ideas to boost your immune system with essential vitamins and nutrients at californiacitrusgrowers.com.

5 Ways to Get More Vitamin C

  • Pick heavy fruit. When shopping for citrus, choose fruit that smells fresh and feels heavy for its size. The heavier the orange, the juicer it’s likely to be. 
  • Explore versatility. Fresh citrus like California Navel oranges make a nutritious addition to sweet and savory dishes, beverages, cocktails, sauces and more.
  • Use the whole fruit. Reduce food waste by consuming the flesh, juice, zest and peel. Try squeezing juice and grating zest into a smoothie, using orange segments for a vibrant salad or combining diced Navels with red onion, cilantro and jalapenos for a zesty salsa.
  • Retain vitamin C content. Vitamin C is water soluble, so to retain as much as possible, eat citrus fresh, avoid overcooking and use minimal amounts of water.
  • Refrigerate for longer shelf life. Keep your citrus fresh longer by storing it in the refrigerator at a temperature below 42 F. To get the most juice out of the orange, bring it to room temperature before cooking.

Orange Spiced Tea

Recipe courtesy of California Citrus Growers

6          cups water

1          clove cinnamon or 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

6          tea bags

1          cup California Navel orange juice

1/2       cup white sugar

2          tablespoons lemon juice

1          slice California Navel orange

Bring water and cinnamon to boil; let cinnamon dissolve. Remove from heat and add tea bags; soak at least 5 minutes. Remove tea bags.  

In separate pan, bring orange juice, sugar and lemon juice to boil. Stir until sugar dissolves.

Pour juice mixture into spiced tea.

Garnish with orange slice and serve hot.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images (Woman eating fruit)

Grace for Todays Hurts & Wounds Are Obtained by Being Thankful

Lorraine Taylor

I am thankful for mistakes as no one is immune from making them. I am grateful for regrets as we share in them as human beings.

I am thankful that learning and growth occur from making wrong choices. I am grateful that in aging, wisdom is gained.

I am thankful for the suffering, pain, and wounds I face in this life, and in them, there is the provision of already supplied Grace.

I am thankful that there remains Faith, Hope, and Love in the complexities of circumstances and relational issues.

I am thankful that God’s love is offered not based on past actions, behaviors, or what I have done, do now, or will do in the future. I am thankful this love is not offered based on performance, laws, or rigid rules.

I am grateful this love flows freely, unbiased from human understanding. This love overflows as the influential source and origin of the divine Holy One, who continually transforms me and all I am not – from the inside-out.

In this transformation, I am stretched. My vision expands to one of viewing life, God, others, and situations through the lens of this love.

Suppose the center of who I am is discovered in love, and this love is of a divine origin. This love is the union of Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. It is their perfect union of love joining in the imperfect human I am whose Spirit invites me to participate in such love. I am offered Grace to live from their passion as my source of life.

This holy love challenges all I know, all I believe, and all I think I am according to a spirit whose love is untainted by human understanding. This otherworldly love cannot be known, understood, or realized from any human standpoint.

It is not a human tendency to offer forgiveness for those who have hurt and wronged or purposefully lie or tell false stories.

It is a human tendency to want revenge, wish to rectify injustices, and get an eye for an eye.

It is not a human tendency to offer light, hope, and love to those who have frustrated and angered and pushed me beyond the human ability to be kind, gentle, and caring.

Today I find myself praying for those who lie, those who frustrate, and those whose intentions are not of love.

Today, I find myself praying for those who interfere, hinder, and purposefully cause conflict.

I pray for those who were wounded, hurt, and endured much suffering.

I pray for those who oppress the vulnerable, the disenfranchised, and the mentally incapacitated.

I pray for myself where God’s love offers light, hope, and love to me in the stretching. 

I am sincerely grateful that in All things, even the obscured not knowing and in the deepest of human conflict, there is Grace.

I am putting on the armor of the Lord, whose shield is purity, whose heart is authentic, whose motivation is merciful, genuine, and loving.

I am walking in the truth of who I am and whose I am in this sacred dwelling place where lavish love transforms my human tendencies. This Spirit-being exchanges self-wiring for desires motivated by the Spirit within whose compassion, caring, and reconciling love offer Grace.

Today I offer my mind, attitudes, heart, and motivations to this love and move into that space where Grace is sufficient in all situations, circumstances, and relational issues. This God-union-love-being can do what I cannot and intervenes where I fail in my human tendencies.

Today when I find I am unable, my Father is entirely able.

 Today when I find I am inadequate, my Father has supplied sufficiently.

  Today I recognize and realize my human limitations and inadequacies and inability to do this thing called faith.

Today and in each moment gifted, I am choosing to join in responding from the supplied love that Father has already provided by His sufficient, empowering, and profound Grace.

   God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.”

 Ephesians 3:20-21

Lorraine Taylor is an enthusiastic speaker, writer, biblical instructor, and promoter of godly values who lives from the supply of Christ, who is her source of sufficiency n life. Her first book, ‘Hope Rises from a Shattered Innocence’ will be published around the Summer of 2021.

California churches file emergency petition with U.S. Supreme Court

By Bethany Blankley | The Center Square Nov 23, 2020

(The Center Square) – Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry filed an emergency petition with the U.S. Supreme Court requesting an injunction pending appeal in their federal lawsuit against California Gov. Gavin Newsom. The ministries, which allege Newsom’s executive orders violate the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guaranteeing freedom of religion rights, are represented by Liberty Counsel, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization committed to religious freedom.

Last month, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in a 2-1 decision did not grant an injunction pending appeal, although the court will hear the merits of the request in a hearing that has yet to be scheduled for early next year. Due to impending criminal threats and fines, the churches requested the U.S. Supreme Court intervene while the case remains pending before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver noted that, “The recent ‘Blueprint’ issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom reveals a clear discrimination against religious gatherings. California cannot give preferential treatment to nonreligious meetings over religious meetings. The virus does not discriminate between nonreligious and religious meetings, but Gov. Newsom does. This discrimination violates the First Amendment.”

Harvest Rock Church has multiple campuses in California, including in Pasadena, Los Angeles, Irvine and Corona; Harvest International Ministries has 162 member churches statewide.

Harvest Rock Church has received letters from the city of Pasadena’s Planning and Community Development Department and Code Enforcement Division, and from the Pasadena Office of the City Attorney/City Prosecutor, Criminal Division, threatening up to one year in prison, daily criminal charges and $1,000 fines against the pastors, church, governing board, staff and parishioners, including a threat to physically close the church and bar parishioners entry.

The Blueprint initially issued August 28, 2020, and since amended to include additional restrictions, established a system of four tiers. Liberty Counsel argues the Blueprint “discriminates against religious meetings in churches and places of worship in every tier,” which it highlights in a chart attached to the petition.

Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry have churches in Tier 1, which prohibits all indoor worship services, including home Bible studies with anyone who does not live in the host’s home.

“From the first stay-at-home order in March to the present, Governor Newsom has allowed feeding, sheltering, and nonreligious counseling with an unlimited number of people in the same church building, but religious gatherings are either banned or severely restricted,” Liberty Counsel notes.

In Tiers 2 and 3, houses of worship are prohibited from having more than 100, and 200 people gather indoors, respectively, regardless of the size of the building. However, gyms, fitness centers, museums, family entertainment centers, retail, shopping malls, big box centers, warehouses, destination centers, swap meets, among others, have no numerical maximum cap on the number of people who are permitted by the Blueprint to congregate inside their respective buildings.

Pastor Che Ahn, who leads the ministries, said it is ministers’ duty to “protect the First Amendment constitutional rights of the church and all people, while taking a specific stand against the misclassification of the worship of God as non-essential during this time of national unrest, economic strife, and physical ailment.”

“Safety, which was the original publicized goal of government mandates in California, has always been both the goal and the supportive action of Harvest Rock Church and the HIM network,” the church states about the lawsuit on its website.

Pastor Che Ahn argues, “The church has been essential for 2000 years. The church has forever been, and will continue to be, a place of healing for the people … and stands against all injustice and division, targeted segregation of civil liberties amongst citizens, and the injustice in deeming God, and the praise of God, as both non-essential and now criminal in the State of California.”

Church pays $1,000 fine for two women praying, new hearing set in religious liberty case against Newsom

By Bethany Blankley | The Center Square Nov 13, 2020

(The Center Square) – A California Superior Court judge at the County of Kern–Metro Division Court on Friday granted neither party what they were requesting in a case in which a Roman Catholic priest has sued Gov. Gavin Newsom and 19 other officials.

The judge will hear the case on Dec. 10, following a December 4 hearing of the state’s request to transfer the case to another judge.

The state and counties are requesting a stay; the plaintiff is requesting a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order.

On Sept. 29, Roman Catholic priest Father Trevor Burfitt sued Newsom and 19 state, county and municipal officials in Kern, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Los Angeles counties alleging they violated eight provisions of the California Constitution.

At the hearing, attorneys from the Thomas More Society, representing Burfitt and his ministries, sought a temporary restraining order to prevent enforcement of executive orders and stop alleged harassment of congregants by county employees.

Within a few weeks of Burfitt’s lawsuit, Los Angeles County sent food and garbage inspection workers to his church to undergo surveillance, the priest says.

Two county “Environmental Health Specialists” watched Our Lady of Angels Catholic Church in Arcadia, California, and issued citations on Oct. 15, after they observed two women wearing prayer veils leaving the building.

On Oct. 20, the same county employees threatened church personnel with more citations after two worshipers prayed inside a 500-capacity sanctuary, both of whom were wearing masks.

The county employees began coming to the church only after Burfitt sued.

“It’s ironic,” Thomas More Society Special Counsel Paul Jonna said in a statement. “There are dozens of churches in Arcadia – and hundreds in Los Angeles County – yet the parish of Father Burfitt, who is suing Los Angeles County, happens to be a church that these county workers choose to spy on and harass.”

Los Angeles County Environmental Health Specialists Alennie Del Rosario Romero and Brenna Santiago issued a citation with a $1,000 fine for the two women praying. The church paid the fine.

The county employees earn annual salaries between $47,000 and $87,000, whose job descriptions include performing tasks related to health inspection, investigation, and enforcement duties that revolve primarily around food sanitation and garbage disposal.

“The county has apparently decided that food and garbage inspectors are qualified to police worship activities,” Jonna added. “Heaping this harassment on Father Burfitt at the same time that he is asking the California Superior Court to uphold his religious rights and prevent the county from continuing to violate them is unacceptable. The constitutional right to petition for grievances includes the right to file a lawsuit, without retaliation or targeting.”

Burfitt’s lawsuit challenges Newsom’s eighth-month long state of emergency order and alleged constitutional violations that have incurred since the state’s initial lockdown in March.

Burfitt serves as pastor of Our Lady of Angels, oversees mission churches in Kern, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Los Angeles Counties, and hosts a series of popular podcasts.

“The perceived threat of COVID-19 has produced a despotic obsession among some governors with controlling houses of worship,” Jonna said. “Father Burfitt and other religious believers deserve to be treated the same as Lakers fans, thousands of whom gathered in Los Angeles following its NBA title clincher on October 11.”

Michiganders overwhelmingly OK Proposal 2, enshrining greater protection for electronic data into law

By Scott McClallen | The Center Square 11 hrs ago

(The Center Square) – Voters on Tuesday appear to have approved Proposal 2 by a landslide, enacting a privacy measure to require a warrant for law enforcement to search and seize electronic documents.

With approximately 50% of precincts reporting by 1 a.m., Prop 2 had garnered 88% support.

The vote follows a trend of American voters showing up to show they care about privacy.

A 2015 Pew Research survey found 88% of Americans say it’s important that they not have someone watch or listen to them without their permission.

Missouri and New Hampshire voters approved similar amendments by, respectively, 75% and 81% margins of voter approval.

The Michigan State Police and Bob Stevenson, executive director for the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, told The Center Square most police agencies need a warrant or subpoena to access data through a service provider.

“This would not alter the operation of Michigan Police Agencies,” Stevenson wrote in an email. “The courts have already defined when we need to get warrants, and this proposal puts into the State Constitution the current practices.”

MSP Public Affairs Director Shanon Banner told The Center Square the passage of the privacy measure wouldn’t impact their operations “as we currently follow best practices that include obtaining a search warrant.”

“Americans shouldn’t be forced to choose between using new technologies and protecting their privacy,” sponsor state Sen. Jim Runestad, R-White Lake, said in a statement. “It is long past time that our state extends the same basic protections to our electronic data that have existed for our paper data for centuries.”

in a June floor speech, Runestad said“In 2020 privacy still matters. The Fourth Amendment still matters. We don’t know what technological advances will come next, but one thing is for sure – that after 246 years to us Americans, our right to privacy still matters.”

One such technology is a cell-site simulator, also called a Stingray, that mimics phone towers and connects to nearby phones and transmit locations, which can be deployed to identify users’ information.

Law enforcement in Michigan used Stingrays about one time every three days in 2014, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Courts have previously protected Fourth Amendment privacy rights but they sometimes lag by decades.

The Supreme Court in 2018’s Carpenter v. United States ruled the Fourth Amendment applied to modern technology. However, cell phones have existed for over 40 years and may still be monitored by law enforcement personnel without a search warrant.

Merissa Kovach, a policy strategist at the ACLU, said the amendment’s goal is to be proactive and define law enforcement standards accessing electronic data instead of playing “whack a mole” with every new technology.

Karen Gullo, a senior media relations specialist at the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, previously told The Center Square that law enforcement should obtain a warrant before accessing people’s electronic data and communications.

“The electronic data stored on our devices is a window into our entire lives – where we go, what we say to co-workers and friends, who our family is, where we bank and shop, what our personal documents say, and what our political beliefs are,” Gullo wrote in an email.

Gullo cited Riley v. California in 2014 in which The Supreme Court described the requirements for searching a cell phone.

“In a unanimous decision by Chief Justice [John] Roberts in the 2014 case, the court wrote, ‘Our answer to the question of what police must do before searching a cell phone seized incident to an arrest is accordingly simple – get a warrant.’

Senators introduce bill to amend rule over third-party internet content

By Bethany Blankley | The Center Square 17 hrs ago

(The Center Square) – In the wake of allegations of big tech companies suppressing political speech and news stories on their platforms, Republican senators and congressmen introduced legislation to amend Section 230, part of a federal code that regulates third-party content on the internet.

Federal Communication Communications (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai also weighed in on Thursday after senators announced they were subpoenaing Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey.

U.S. Rep. Ted Budd, R-N.C., said Thursday he plans to introduce the House version of the Limiting Section 230 Immunity to Good Samaritans Act.

The bill would allow Americans to file lawsuits against Big Tech companies who breach good faith user agreements, suppress political speech and block other content, Budd’s office said. It also would prohibit Big Tech companies “from receiving Section 230 protections unless they change their terms of service to promise to operate in good faith and be subject to a $5,000 fine, actual damages, and attorney’s fees if they violate the agreement.”

The companion bill in the Senate is being drafted by Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, with four initial cosponsors: Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, Mike Braun, R-Indiana, Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, and Kelly Loeffler, R-Georgia.

Section 230 is part of the Communications Decency Act passed in 1996, formally codified as Section 230 of the Communications Act of 1934. It generally provides immunity for website publishers from third-party content.

Pai tweeted Thursday that he would move forward with rulemaking “to clarify its meaning,” referring to Section 230, and that the FCC’s general counsel informed him that the commission has the “legal authority to interpret Section 230.”

Comprised of only 26 words, Section 230 “created the Internet,” Jeff Kossett, a cybersecurity law professor at the U.S Naval Academy and foremost expert on Section 230, told Forbes.

“Section 230 set the legal framework for the internet that we know today that relies heavily on user content rather than content that companies create. Without Section 230, companies would not be willing to take so many risks,” Kosset added.

The U.S. Commerce Department recently petitioned the FCC to clarify ambiguities in the Section 230 protections, noting that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas said that the courts have applied Section 230 in a way that appears to “go far beyond the actual text of the provision.”

In September, the U.S. Justice Department proposed draft legislation to reform Section 230.

In March, President Donald Trump signed an executive order attempting to limit the ways in which social media companies were using Section 230.

“We’re here today to defend free speech from one of the greatest dangers it has faced in American history,” Trump said.

Social media companies like Twitter and Facebook “that engage in censoring or political misconduct,” under the order, would no longer have the same protections.

Trump also said the order directs the Federal Trade Commission to stop social media from “engaging in any deceptive acts or practices affecting commerce.”

Why You Can Trust God Now More Than Ever

A large poplar tree gives shade to my family on hot sunny days. The tree’s shade is a result of the tree’s shadow. This gives us an idea of what David meant when he said “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most  High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”  Psalm 91:1  

A tree’s shadow/shade protects us from damaging sun rays and God’s shadow protects us from damaging rays that come from Satan and the sons of perdition; those who seek to burn us mentally and physically.

Like the tree’s shadow, the shadow of God’s presence protects us and comforts us at the same time.  

An old stone building

Description generated with very high confidence

God’s shadow is also, a refuge and fortress. (Psalm 91:2)

A fortress is a place protected against attacks. In this fortified place, your enemies will have a hard time reaching you.

We are promised deliverance from the fowler’s snare (Satanic traps and strategies) and from deadly pestilence. It’s interesting that Strong’s Greek and Hebrew Dictionary says, Pestilence comes from a word meaning to declare, pronounce, teach, destroy…..

Perhaps some are declaring, pronouncing, and teaching destruction in our midst. Yet, God says, If we trust in Him, He will protect us from deadly pestilence (Psalm 91:3

The Treasury of David says, “He who dwells in an impregnable fortress, naturally trusts in it, and shall not he who dwells in God feel himself well at ease and repose his soul in safety.” 

We can say the Lord is our refuge and fortress during this time of Covid-19 and Civil unrest. As noted in The Treasury of David, “We have trusted in God, let us trust him still. He has never failed us, why then should we suspect him? Pray for the grace to say, “In him will I trust.”  

5 Reasons Christ Died for Us

There are at least five reasons Jesus voluntarily endured unbelievable suffering on a wooden cross for us. They are all based on His unbelievable love for people, and His desire to share His abundant life with us for eternity.

Take a look at five of the benefits we freely receive .

His Death Grants Admission into Paradise (again):

Because Jesus died on the cross we have re-inherited Paradise!

And Jesus said unto him, “Verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with me in paradise (Luke 23:43).”

“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God” (Revelation 2:7).

His Death Grants Immortality to All Believers:

Because Christ shed His blood for us we are delivered from death (mortality) and have received eternal life (immortality)! “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:53).

His Death Grants Reconciliation to God:

“For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life” (Romans 5:10).

“And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled” (Colossians 1:21).

His Death Grants Deliverance from Satan’s Power:

According to Acts 26:18, Paul was sent to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”

“Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son “Colossians 1:13”. “Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness “(1 Thessalonians 5:5).

His Death Grants Deliverance from the Power of Death

Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil (Hebrews 2:14).

“He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).

How to Express Appreciation for Christ’s Sacrifice:

Taking Communion Commemorates Christ’s Sacrifice. It is also a special time of fellowship with God. Matthew Henry says, when we take communion “that is to eat of the feast is to partake of the sacrifice, and so to be his guests to whom the sacrifice was offered, and this in token of friendship with him. Thus to partake of the Lord’s table is to profess ourselves his guests and covenant people. This is the very purpose and intention of this symbolical eating and drinking; it is holding communion with God, and partaking of those privileges, and professing ourselves under those obligations, which result from the death and sacrifice of Christ.”

In 1 Corinthians 11:24-25, Paul referencing Christ, says, “And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.”

Notice he said “as oft as ye drink,” meaning we have permission to take communion/proclaim the Lords death (1 Corinthians 11:26) as often as we want or need to. When we proclaim the Lord’s death we proclaim victory over every sin and evil work of the enemy. Remember Jesus said,” The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18).

The Prophet Isaiah reminds us that, Jesus was “Wounded for our transgressions, that He was bruised for our iniquities and the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)

It is time for you to begin experiencing the benefits of Christ’s suffering and death by taking communion on a regular basis. It is time to walk in victory because the prince (Satan) of the world has been cast out (John 12:31).

Join me as I Proclaim the Lord’s death by taking communion on a regular basis.

Op-Ed: Learning from California’s blackouts

By Tony Clark Sep 5, 2020

It should be inconceivable that in a time of American energy abundance, within the nation’s richest and most populous state, citizens are being subjected to rolling electricity blackouts. Yet here we are. California’s grid is again struggling to provide the energy that is so vital to keeping us all connected, especially now.

There are several root causes of the crisis.

First, while California’s experience with utility “restructuring” is unique, it shares some characteristics with other states that broke-up incumbent utilities into separate wires and generation businesses. Electric reliability in California depends, in large part, on merchant power producers, such as Calpine, NRG Energy (NRG), Vistra (VST) and others, that, in turn, rely on revenues received from the California ISO wholesale energy market and state-approved power contracts with incumbent utilities like Pacific Gas & Electric (PCG), Southern California Edison (SCE) and San Diego Gas and Electric (SRE). For years, experts have warned about a wholesale energy market awash in intermittent renewable energy at near-zero (or negative) prices during some parts of the day, while undervaluing and failing to procure investments in generation that maintain reliability 24/7.

Second, California energy zeitgeist has been anything but “all-of-the above.” It is more like, “just say no” to nuclear, natural gas, and pipelines. California has largely embraced the view that the future of electricity is a strict reliance on distributed energy resources, battery storage, renewables, energy efficiency, and demand response. All these have merit, and few would argue against the increasing importance of each. But, California has pursued them at the bleeding edge of affordability and technological capability. Third-party stakeholder groups have driven this agenda, and customers are now reaping what has been sown.

Third, California has embraced forms of electricity retail choice such as “community choice aggregation” (CCAs) and “energy service providers” (ESPs). CCAs and ESPs are mechanisms for local communities and commercial and industrial customers to go around the incumbent utility and procure energy directly, while still relying on the utilities’ grid to reliably deliver the energy. Unfortunately, as structured, CCAs and ESPs could cherry pick the easiest-to-serve and most financially lucrative customers. Lacking the same obligations as incumbent utilities, CCAs and ESPs have undercut resource adequacy standards, and regulations have struggled to keep pace with this new dynamic.

The unfortunate net result of these policies is financial and regulatory instability for both incumbent utilities and merchant power providers, while consumers are stuck with expensive electric service that is characterized by price volatility and a lack of reliability.

California’s problems should be a wake-up call to other states. The public policies that led California down this path aren’t limited to the Golden State. It’s just that California has aggressively pursued so many of them. Look at the root causes and you will see overlap with trends in other parts of the country.

Take Texas, for example. Like California, Texas forced most utilities to divest generation assets from the wires portion of their businesses. For all their many differences, these two largest American states are also the two states that have most recently struggled with major electricity scarcity emergencies: California this summer, and Texas last. The combination of dependence on merchant owned generation and maladaptive wholesale energy markets is no coincidence. This isn’t a red state or blue state issue, and it isn’t a matter of being pro-renewables or anti-renewables. It is a matter of ensuring regulatory structures align financial viability with grid reliability.

Notice also the similarities between California and several states in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. Like California, they are states that rely on merchant power providers to keep the lights on, and they are also increasingly driven by political pressures to reject the need for new pipelines, natural gas generation, and nuclear generation. While these Eastern electricity markets have adopted some reforms not in place in California and Texas that are intended to better attract capital to ensure 24/7 reliability, the larger point still holds. Reliable, affordable electricity depends on investment that allows access to dependable generation resources. Barring a course correction, no one should be surprised if the Northeast sees winter reliability and cost problems on par with California’s and Texas’ summer challenges.

The experience in states that forced their utilities to separate electricity generation from the rest of their business is laying bare the claims of those who argue for a renewed push for utility “deregulation” into regions of the country where it never took hold. While supporters of restructuring deride the vertically integrated utility as hopelessly passé, it is becoming clear that, in the absence of well-planned, well-regulated utilities, putting blind faith in today’s wholesale electricity markets and assuming they will cause energy to appear from the ether during times of scarcity is proving to be a dangerous religion.

California’s Byzantine mix of state policy directives and misaligned wholesale markets clearly laid the groundwork for this summer’s grid meltdown. And, it is tempting to look at California and think it can’t happen elsewhere. But, in reality, California is a harbinger of things to come if other states and wholesale market regulators don’t heed the warnings.

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