Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Monday, October 23, 2017
Sunday, October 22, 2017
Saturday, October 21, 2017
A Lot More States May Need Passports For Domestic Flights Starting In 2018 – Is Your State Real ID Compliant?
September 21, 2017
Earlier in the summer, it was revealed that residents in nine states could end up needing passports for domestic air travel by January of 2018, but they are certainly working on trying to avoid that. By 2020, the Real ID Act is requiring all states to be compliant as a regular driver’s license will no longer be accepted for flights within the United States. Well, there has been a huge update on every single state regarding compliance with the Real ID Act and if you’ll need a passport to fly or not.
Now, there are a lot more states that have still not met the requirements needed to be compliant with the Real ID Act and could require passports starting next year.
A number of airports had started putting up signs in their terminals to advise travelers that starting on January 18, 2018, an alternative ID would be needed for domestic flights if your ID or driver’s license was from one of these nine states:
Real IDs are going to start being distributed to citizens beginning in 2019, and by 2020, everyone will need one to fly domestically. While that may still seem far away, the Real ID Act requires that all states be in compliance much earlier than that and these nine states have at least received somewhat of a reprieve.
[Image by Scott Olson/Getty Images]
According to The Points Guy, the nine states have all filed for an extension to become compliant with the Real ID Act. With that extension, it doesn’t necessarily change anything for those with a driver’s license from those states, as the extension is only until Oct. 10, 2017.
While that may sound like good news, it really only gives you a slight moment to breathe. Those nine states now join 15 others who have not yet become compliant with the requirements for Real IDs, but still need to do so.
As shown on the website for the Department of Homeland Security, those states will need to show that they have met the requirements or file for another extension. While another extension may be granted, they will definitely need to have everything in place by Jan. 22, 2018, or travelers will need a passport or other ID to travel on a domestic flight.
U.S. revenue and spending both hit record highs in fiscal 2017, according to department
The U.S. Treasury Department building in Washington. Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press
The Wall Street Journal
firstname.lastname@example.org Updated Oct. 20, 2017 2:54 p.m. ET
WASHINGTON—The federal budget deficit widened in fiscal year 2017 to the sixth highest deficit on record as government spending growth outpaced growth in tax collections for the second year in a row, the Treasury Department said Thursday.
The budget shortfall rose to $666 billion in the fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30, up $80 billion, or 14%, from fiscal year 2016. That tracks with an estimate from the Congressional Budget Office, which had predicted a $668 billion deficit for the last fiscal year.
Federal tax receipts reached a record high in fiscal year 2017, at $3.3 trillion, thanks to slightly faster growth, according to a senior Treasury official. But government outlays also hit a record high last year at nearly $4 trillion, 3% higher than they were in the previous fiscal year, thanks to increased spending on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, as well as higher interest payments on the public debt.
As a percentage of gross domestic product, the deficit totaled 3.5%, up from 3.2% in fiscal year 2016.
“Today’s budget results underscore the importance of achieving robust and sustained economic growth,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement accompanying the report. “Through a combination of tax reform and regulatory relief, this country can return to higher levels of GDP growth, helping to erase our fiscal deficit.”
Mick Mulvaney, the White House budget director, said the figures “should serve as a smoke alarm for Washington” and a reminder to “get our fiscal hour in order.”
But deficit hawks, including some in Congress, have warned that a GOP plan to rewrite the tax code could make the country’s fiscal situation worse if it adds to the deficit. The Senate approved a budget resolution Thursday that would allow Congress to pass a tax cut that lowers federal revenues by $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years.
Declining government revenues and long-term costs associated with an aging population, including higher Social Security and Medicare spending, are expected to continue pushing up deficits over the coming decades.
Treasury said Friday the government ran an $8 billion surplus in September, much smaller than the $33 billion surplus in September 2016. Receipts fell 2% while outlays grew 5% last month compared with the same period a year earlier.
Write to Kate Davidson at email@example.com
values & ideals
This month, a federal judge in Wisconsin ruled that tax-free housing for clergy is unconstitutional, while in Texas, a federal judge ruled that the governor infringed on an atheist group's constitutional rights when he removed their 'winter solstice' nativity. Dan Barker is the former Evangelical behind both cases.
Pastor Mark Harris of First Baptist Church gives his sermon during the fifth and largest 'Pulpit Freedom Sunday' in Charlotte, N.C., in October 2012. More than 1,300 pastors across the country climbed to the lectern and endorsed a candidate for public office, in defiance of the Johnson Amendment prohibiting tax-exempt churches from endorsing politicians.
Staff writer | @HarryBruinius
October 20, 2017 NEW YORK—When Dan Barker was a Pentecostal minister in California, he knew he could exclude his clergy housing allowance from his income tax returns, taking advantage of an IRS benefit that the federal government grants to “ministers of the Gospel” – though not to anyone else.
Back then, he didn’t give much thought to this special social benefit, which today gives American ministers a tax break worth some $800 million a year. Today, his efforts stand behind the ruling of a federal judge in Wisconsin who declared this benefit a violation of the separation of church and state.
In the 1970s, Mr. Barker was never that concerned about the nitty gritty of social policy. And he felt many of his fellow religious conservatives, who were getting involved in the emerging “religious right,” were too caught up with worldly concerns.
“I was a pure soul-winner,” Mr. Barker says. “I never preached about homosexuality or abortion or birth control or race or anything relevant to the so-called culture wars.”
By age 16, he was working for the televangelist Kathryn Kuhlman – a forerunner of what today is known as “the prosperity gospel.”
Are you smarter than an atheist? A religious quiz
“I was the true believer, a Bible-believing fundamentalist,” says Barker, who went on to be an evangelist himself for nearly 20 years, both as a Christian musician and preacher. “I was a person praying for miracles and faith healings – all of that,” he says. “I believed it.”
He didn’t stop believing all at once, but over the years Barker experienced what can only be called a dramatic conversion.
It was as if he had been born again, his life turned inside out. He married a third-generation atheist activist, Annie Laurie Gaylor, eventually joining her as the co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation in Madison, Wis.
Now Barker and his wife are on the vanguard of the so-called culture wars, in particular the push and pull in the legal battles that draw the lines between church and state, and as caught up with worldly concerns as his former Evangelical peers.
And the legal push and pull has become more volatile over the past few years. In some ways, the Supreme Court’s epoch-changing 2015 decision making same-sex marriage a constitutional right has galvanized religious conservatives to work to strengthen the country’s robust traditions of religious freedom – and even carve out new spaces for conscience, especially for those with religious objections to same-sex marriage.
Members of the clergy arrive for the annual Red Mass for Supreme Court justices, judges, and government officials, at Cathedral of St. Matthew in Washington on Oct. 1.
In 1398 Johannes Gutenberg was born in Mainz, Germany. God, the author of history, gifted this young man with abilities, that would not only change the world, but prepare the way for the spiritual explosion that was the Protestant Reformation. Johannes Gutenberg must surely rank among the illustrious inventors in human history. He is equal to Stevenson and his steam locomotive, to Ford and the Model T, to the Wright brothers and human flight, to Bell and the telephone, to Baird and the television and in more recent times to Berners-Lee and the World Wide Web. Gutenberg’s contribution to humanity and especially to our Christian Heritage was the printing press. While he did not set out to progress faith through his invention, God was moulding and shaping the gifts of this German, so that the dissemination of theology and, more particularly the Bible, would never be the same again.
As a young boy he entertained himself in his Father’s workshop carving the separate letters of his name out of soft wood. As he was lining the letters up to spell his name the “H” fell from the table into a bucket of purple dye. Retrieving the letter he wiped off the dye and left the letter on a piece of paper. As he removed the “H” and seeing the shape printed on the paper, the impression upon his young mind would never be erased. The concept for the printing press with moveable type was born. It would take forty years before the concept would become reality.
In 1455 the now famous Gutenberg Press issued it’s first print run. It was certainly providential that an invention which would transform the dispersion of words, would first print Bibles; The Word of God. Gutenberg printed between 150 and 180 copies of the Latin Bible on paper. Each page had two columns of 42 lines and each Bible had a total of 1,282 pages. Only forty-nine copies, either complete or substantial, of the Gutenberg Bible remain, and they are among the most valuable books in the world.
Gutenberg, however, while being a brilliant inventor was no business man. Accruing large debts he lost his press and died in 1468 destitute and forgotten. But his invention survived and printing became the technological revolution of the medieval era. Indeed, it was through this technology that medieval ignorance and superstition was overcome. The modern era of mass communication had commenced.
By the time Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the Castle Church at Wittenberg this technology was readily available everywhere, and the stage was set for the message of one man to capture Europe. Luther, however, had no intention of going to the printers with his arguments. In addition to nailing it to the door of the Castle Church he shared it with close friends and colleagues. Crucially he also, sent it, along with a letter to the Archbishop of Mainz, to warn him of the activities of Tetzel. Luther anticipated a fair hearing, he was was hoping for considered discussion and he believed that reason would prevail. He was attempting to be helpful as the matter in his judgement, was so clearly demonstrated in Scripture. In later life he would share with the students of Wittenberg:
“I thought I had done the Pope a favour”
We can be certain that Martin Luther never handed his Ninety-Five Theses to a printer. An anonymous person leaked the document. It was certainly not in the interests of the Pope and his Archbishop to promote someone who was exposing their rather sordid business deal, which involved employing Tetzel to sell indulgences for the repaying of debts and for the building of a Cathedral in Rome. The truth was, Germans were growing rather tired of the Vatican’s interference in their affairs. Germany was ready economically, politically and spiritually for someone to challenge the established order. It has been long thought, that someone sympathetic to Luther’s arguments, within the court of the Archbishop, handed the document to a printer, who instantly saw the potential of the monk’s radicalism.
Everything about Luther was appealing to the German consciousness. From his self deprecating description of himself as “an insignificant clod” through to his denunciations of the power of the Papacy in the matter of forgiveness – the Ninety-Five Theses hit a raw nerve. The Augustinian Monk’s words were soon making their way across Germany, with artists embellishing the content with attractive woodcuts, so that even the illiterate could appreciate the import of the arguments. Luther himself, was taken aback by the reaction as he later reported that the document “went throughout the whole of Germany in a fortnight.” In 21st Century language Luther had gone viral. As Tetzel’s sales of the Papal Indulgence dramatically declined, the evidence was incontrovertible, Luther had many supporters. He could not be ignored. Neither could he himself ignore the movement that he had unwittingly produced!
In 1518 he decided to go to print with “A Sermon of Indulgence and Grace”. While the Ninety-Five Theses were written in Latin, to be translated by a printer without the author’s consent, this sermon was printed by Luther in German. In this work he further developed his arguments and the response was electric. In 1518 alone it was reprinted fourteen times with each run producing 1,000 copies. There was an obvious demand for Martin Luther’s writings. He was the small man confronting the power of empire. He was the German asserting the independence of the German peoples. As he did so, however, he gave the people the precious seed, the Gospel of Grace, and God was blessing his endeavours. As he published his second work of 1518, “Explanations of the Ninety-Five Theses”, it was apparent that the Wittenberg Doctor was no longer an unwilling leader. He accepted his position, granted by God, with the enormous responsibilities and challenges that accompanied it.
Wittenberg became a major publishing centre, as a result of Luther’s prodigious works. Another book more precious still would be published at Wittenberg; The Bible. A business man by the name of Lufft, would in Luther’s home city, publish 100,000 copies of God’s Word for the German people!
…and so the printing revolution was used by God as the catalyst for the Protestant Reformation.
“The LORD gave the word: great was the company of those that published it”
Posted by News Editor in Food, Latest News, RSS on October 16, 2017 6:23 pm
ROME, Italy, October 16, 2017 (ENS) – Pope Francis today urged governments around the world to work together to make emigration a safer and more voluntary choice, saying that food security for everyone requires tackling climate change and ending conflicts.
The Pope made his appeal in a speech to the audience at the official World Food Day ceremony at the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO, headquarters in Rome.
Pope Francis and Jose Graziano de Silva, head of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization at the World Food Day ceremony in Rome, Oct. 16, 207 (Photo courtesy FAO)
“It is clear that wars and climate change are the cause of hunger, so we do not present hunger as if it were an incurable disease,” said the pontiff.
After steadily declining for over a decade, hunger is on the rise again and of the 815 million hungry people on the planet, 489 million live in countries affected by conflict, the annual UN report on food security and nutrition revealed last month.
The Pope has called for a total commitment to a gradual and systematic disarmament, and he has called for a change in lifestyles and resource use as well as food production and consumption to protect the planet.
“What is at stake is the credibility of the entire international system,” he said.
About the development of the Global Pact for safe, regular and orderly migration, the first agreement of its kind negotiated by governments under UN auspices, Pope Francis said, “Human mobility management requires coordinated and systematic online intergovernmental action with existing international standards, full of love and intelligence. ”
He then said that unfortunately some countries are moving away from the Paris Agreement on climate, which was agreed by consensus of world leaders in 2015.
The executive director of the UN World Food Programme made an impassioned plea for peace amid mounting evidence of the links between conflict, migration and rising hunger.
Concerns are growing that progress in defeating global hunger is being reversed as record numbers of people flee their homes to escape fighting.
“Someday in the future, World Food Day will be a celebration of a peaceful and well-fed world. Sadly, that day seems very far off right now. We have far too much violence and conflict, and that is why we have more people who are hungry and in need of assistance,” said WFP Executive Director David Beasley.
“I call on the people in power, the people with guns, to stop the fighting now,” said Beasley, who has met many people fleeing conflict and violence in Yemen, South Sudan and Bangladesh over the past few months.
By Kari Paul
Published: Oct 20, 2017 2:29 p.m. ET
In tumultuous political times, the 18-30 demographic is reaching for the stars.
Co?Star Co-founders of astrology app Co—Star.
When Coco Layne, a Brooklyn-based producer, meets someone new these days, the first question that comes up in conversation isn’t “Where do you live?” or “What do you do?” but “What’s your sign?”
“So many millennials read their horoscopes every day and believe them,” Layne, who is involved in a number of nonreligious spiritual practices, said. “It is a good reference point to identify and place people in the world.”
Interest in spirituality has been booming in recent years while interest in religion plummets, especially among millennials. The majority of Americans now believe it is not necessary to believe in God to have good morals, a study from Pew Research Center released Wednesday found. The percentage of people between the ages of 18 and 29 who “never doubt existence of God” fell from 81% in 2007 to 67% in 2012.
Meanwhile, more than half of young adults in the U.S. believe astrology is a science. compared to less than 8% of the Chinese public. The psychic services industry — which includes astrology, aura reading, mediumship, tarot-card reading and palmistry, among other metaphysical services — grew 2% between 2011 and 2016. It is now worth $2 billion annually, according to industry analysis firm IBIS World.
An image from a market hosted by Catland, where customers can buy occult accessories.
Friday, October 20, 2017
A cashless society: Is the old guard being dragged into the Digital Age again?:
WHETHER the traditionalist likes it or not, paper-based currency is very much an endangered species, and in a few decades' years time, we may well be living in a cashless society. A number of significant trends indicate that cash and cheques will be replaced with electronic methods of payment.
Thursday, October 19, 2017
October 17, 2017
Callista Gingrich, wife of former House speaker and Republican US presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich, is the next US ambassador to the Vatican (AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski)
Callista Gingrich, wife of former House speaker and Republican US presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich, is the next US ambassador to the Vatican (AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski)
Washington (AFP) - The next US ambassador to the Vatican is no veteran diplomat: Callista Gingrich is the third wife of Newt Gingrich, the former leader of the 1990s Republican revolution who has reaped rewards for backing Donald Trump.
The US Senate confirmed her late Monday on a 70-23 vote, five months after she was nominated by the president.
Several Democrats joined all Republicans in supporting Gingrich, but her opposition was relatively high for an ambassadorial nominee: only the deeply controversial David Friedman, Trump's ambassador to Israel, received more "no" votes this year.
"It's a very strange appointment," Michael Sean Winters, a columnist for the National Catholic Reporter, told AFP.
"It's hard to imagine anything in Callista Gingrich's resume that shows she could be good at that" position at the Vatican.
Traditionally about one third of envoys are political appointees, especially people who were major donors to a president's campaign.
But at the Vatican, the 51-year-old Gingrich succeeds a former president of humanitarian group Catholic Relief Services, who himself succeeded a professor of theology.
Gingrich has published seven children's books featuring Ellis the Elephant, who navigates his way through different periods in American history.
She and her husband run Gingrich Productions, a multimedia company which has produced several documentaries, including one on Pope John Paul II.
During her July confirmation hearing, Senator Johnny Isakson highlighted her role as a choir member at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
She is "a lady of great talent," Isakson said, someone who could "not only convince Newt to marry her, but convert him to Catholicism, which will serve them well in the Holy See."
- Out of wedlock -
Gingrich's husband Newt, now 74, was the architect of the remarkable Republican takeover of the House of Representatives in 1994 during Bill Clinton's presidency, thanks to an ultra-partisan strategy whose effects reverberated for decades.
After his fall in 1998, Newt Gingrich remained ever-present within the party, seeking the presidential nomination in 2012 and 2016 before backing Trump and proposing, in vain, himself as vice president.
The Gingrich couple's story is not without controversy.
Callista Biseck had been a congressional aide in 1993 when she began a romantic relationship with Newt Gingrich, who was married at the time. Their affair lasted six years, until Gingrich divorced his second wife and married Callista.
The illicit romance was occurring just as Gingrich himself pressed for the impeachment of Bill Clinton over his sexual encounters with intern Monica Lewinsky.
While Newt's career rose, Callista's never reached the same professional pinnacles.
"Callista doesn't have what Newt does. Newt can pick up the phone and get to the president," columnist Winters said.
Still, envoys play a less crucial role today than in 1984, when Ronald Reagan and the Vatican re-established diplomatic relations.
In 2017, Trump's priorities -- on refugees, climate, poverty -- seem diametrically opposed to those of Pope Francis.
But Democrats declined to mount fierce opposition to his Vatican ambassador.
"They've got bigger fish to fry," Winters said.