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Richlands readying for Freedom Fest – Southwest Virginia Today

Freedom will ring and boom in Richlands July 1.

The towns annual Freedom Festival ends a two day run with a fireworks display at dark. Prior to the big show there will be lots of entertainment starting June 28 when the midway rides open a four day run on the police department parking lot.

The midway will open at five p.m. June 28-29 with unlimited rides for one price. They will open at one p.m. on Friday and 10 a.m. on Saturday. Entertainment starts June 30 with the Fallen Warriors Tribute and the Jubalaires at six p.m.

The Fallen Warriors Motorcycle Honor Guard will present flags to families of veterans and pay tribute to those who died in combat. The Jubalaires will be performing patriotic music during the program.

Marcus Boyd takes to the stage at eight and Victor Lawson and Boogie Chillen will close the night at nine. The day starts with a 10k5k run and walk July 1 at eight a.m. Vendors will open at 10 and there will be face painting, history characters, window decorating contest and the Fallen warriors Wall.

There will be a cruise in to the Advance Auto parking lot for cars and bikes. Star 95 radio will have a live remote at 6:15 p.m. with a hula hoop contest and a wear your red, white and blue contest. The winners will be named Mr. and Mrs. Freedom Festival and the childrens winners will be Little Miss and Little Mr. Freedom Festival.

The Giles Artillery Battery will fire its cannon during the opening ceremonies at 8 p.m. and the National Anthem will be performed. The Benny Wilson Band takes the stage at 8:15 and will perform until the fireworks at 10 p.m. Wilson will play through the fireworks show which will last about 30 minutes.

This years theme is God Bless America and Our Veterans. Businesses and home owners are encouraged to decorate in red, white and blue. There will be a window decorating contest for businesses with prizes for the six best as well as most patriotic and Mayors Choice.

The class of 1997 will be having a reunion during the festival and will have a tent set up both days.

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Richlands readying for Freedom Fest – Southwest Virginia Today

OAS chief offers to resign in exchange for Venezuela’s ‘freedom’ – Miami Herald


Miami Herald
OAS chief offers to resign in exchange for Venezuela's 'freedom'
Miami Herald
The head of the Organization of American States on Saturday said he would step down from his post in exchange for a laundry list of reforms in Venezuela that he said would bring freedom to the embattled South American nation. In a video posted on
OAS chief Almagro offers to resign 'for freedom in Venezuela'Reuters

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OAS chief offers to resign in exchange for Venezuela’s ‘freedom’ – Miami Herald

WWII Wings of Freedom Tour flies into Seattle – KING5.com

KING 5 photojournalist Andy Wallace

KING Staff , KING 7:10 PM. PDT June 23, 2017

The Wings of Freedom Tour shows off World War II-era planes to pay tribute to the crews that flew and maintained them. (Photo: KING)

The Wings of Freedom Tour flew into Seattle Friday. The tour shows off World War II-era planes to pay tribute to the crews that flew and maintained them.

“You know, we’ve got four WWII aircraft that come out here. We travel the whole country, but what’s really awesome is that they’re all flying, they’re all authentic, and you can actually walk through them, touch them, and go for a flight on them if you’d like to,” said a Wings of Freedom Tour spokesperson. “It’s really epic. We’ve been throughout the country, seen a lot of different reactions, but it’s particularly the kids that are the biggest interest to me right now, because without them this is gone.”

There are four planes the public can check out at the Museum of Flight this weekend, including a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. You can even take a flight on board one of them.

WHERE: The Wings of Freedom Tour will be on display at Boeing Field in Seattle located at the Museum of Flight, 9404 East Marginal Way South.

WHEN: The Wings of Freedom Tour will be on display at the Museum of Flight until the aircraft departs Sunday, June 25 after 5:00 p.m. Hours of ground tours and display are 10:00 a.m. through 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 24th and Sunday, June 25th. The 30-minute flight experiences are normally scheduled before and after the ground tour times above.

2017 KING-TV

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WWII Wings of Freedom Tour flies into Seattle – KING5.com

How Secularism Threatens Freedom and Righteousness in America – CBN News

Over the last century, secularism in America has triumphed so spectacularly that secularists now dominate the cultural mountains of influence: business, government, media, arts and entertainment, education, the family and religion.

Raised upon the Christian cultural foundation laid by the American Founders in the 17th and 18th centuries, secularists have produced a structure that is the antithesis to the Founders intention.

Unless confronted by the men and women of Issachar, people who know the times and know what to do (1 Chronicles 12:32), secularism spells doom for freedom and liberty in America. Why? Because virtue is a key component of freedom. The glory of a nation lies in its righteousness, not in its military or economic prowess.

Nevertheless, give the Left credit on the grounds that they surely dont lack hubris. I mean, who possibly would have the chutzpah to toy with the four-thousand-year-old definition of marriage?

In the 5-4Obergefell v. Hodgesdecision in 2015, Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan unearthed (in the bowels of Constitution!) the right to homosexual marriage. This gem of legal maneuvering found a Constitutional right to same-sex intercourse and marriage 230 years after the Articles of Confederation was signed in 1787. Apparently, the right to homosexual marriage was concealed from the legal giants of yesteryear like Joseph Story, Oliver Wendell Holmes, John Marshall, Earl Warren, etc.

Of course, this discovery commands a price from freedom in Gods everlasting order. The refusal to live within the God-given boundaries, intended by the Founders, brings consequences on the nation.

There are six things the Lord hates no, seven things he detests: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent, a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong, a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord in a family (Proverbs 6:16-19).

The first in Solomons catalog of abominations is haughty eyes. Dr. Bruce K. Waltke observed, No vice stands in sharper opposition to wisdom and fear of God than pride.* Re-defining the four-thousand-year-old definition of marriage has to reach the pinnacle of arrogance!

Would you care to guess the antidote for those who rebel against Gods unending order? Solomon wrote: The rebellious man seeks only evil; therefore a cruel messenger shall be sent against him (Proverbs 17:11).

Jewish Biblical scholar Michael V. Fox interprets, If a man rebels against the king, a human messenger is sent to punish him. If he rebels against Gods word, punitive angels are dispatched. It is possible that the punishment is executed by angels, because God himself, as this socially conservative book sees it, defends the political order, if it is just.

If you can, make application to the five U.S. Supreme Court Justices who ruled two years ago to codify same-sex intercourse and marriage. Solomon indicates that there is a certainty of punishment, not its proximity. Overconfidence in ones power breeds arrogance, which leads to disaster. If I were one of the five Justices, Id repent and ask for forgiveness. The beginning of wisdom is fear of the Lord (Proverbs 9:10).

Now to the larger point. Secularism has imposed its godlessness on Americas youth for the last three-quarters century, devastating public education and higher learning. American education has collapsed under the weight of Secularism. Moral and academic anarchy now reign. Something curious has happened to those who define themselves as anti-fascist, who in reality are the fascists.

As Mark Steyn wrote: The Left, the Western Left, is on the same continuum as the Charlie Hebdo killers. Theyre both in the shut-up business, who want to END the debate rather than win the debate.

Calling themselves anti-fascists, the secular Left is demonstrating its fascist inclinations by torching university buildings and shutting down speakers on college campuses.

If America is to survive, virtue and fidelity must be reestablished in public schools and universities. Loyalty and fidelity to God, is what guards the nation. Spiritual men must move to the front and lead their families. As goes the family, so goes the nation. Bill Bennett observed:

Someone once characterized the two essential questions Plato posed as: Who teaches the children, and what do we teach them?

We need to respond to this culture that sends confusing signals to young men, a culture that is agnostic about what it wants men to be, with a clear and achievable notion of manhood.

The Founding Fathers believed, and the evidence still shows, that industriousness, marriage and religion are a very important basis for male empowerment and achievement. We may need to say to a number of our 20-something men, Get off the video games five hours a day, get yourself together, get a challenging job and get married. Its time for men to man up.

Evangelical and Pro-Life Catholic Christians in the last century have deserted the responsibilities prescribed by Americas Founders for living free. We have assigned the making, enforcement, and adjudication of laws to those lacking Divine faith. Those antagonistic to Biblical values now control public education, higher learning, City Hall, Big Business, the Courts, Hollywood, media and politics.

Liberals welcome believers insofar as religion can be deployed in service of liberal causes, to be sure. But any expression of theological or moral judgment is met with hostility.

As long as there is no application, offering a moral standard to secularists raises no opposition.

If America is to be saved from the onslaught of Secularism, Gideons and Rahabs are going to have to lead.

David Lane is Founder of theAmerican Renewal Project

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How Secularism Threatens Freedom and Righteousness in America – CBN News

Freedom Caucus member calls for Robert Mueller to recuse himself from Russia probe – Washington Examiner

A freshman member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus is calling for special counsel Robert Mueller to recuse himself from the Russia investigation because he has brought on “highly partisan” lawyers to help with the probe.

“Special Counsel Robert Mueller should recuse himself because the integrity of his appointment is in question due to former FBI Director James Comey’s manipulative leaks and the relationship between Mr. Comey and Mr. Mueller,” Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., said in a statement Friday. “His ability to be impartial is doubtful because he has surrounded himself with highly partisan lawyers who make a special practice to line the coffers of Democrats.”

News outlets have reported at least three lawyers Mueller has hired to help conduct his investigation have donated almost exclusively to Democrats. Also, Mueller and Comey are friends and former colleagues.

Biggs is at least the second House Republican to call for Mueller’s recusal.

Earlier this month, Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, told the Blaze that Mueller should step aside from the probe because of his “cozy relationship” with Comey.

As part of his investigation into Russia’s election interference, Mueller will probe for possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. The Washington Post reported Mueller will also investigate whether Trump obstructed justice by allegedly telling Comey that he hoped the bureau would end its probe of Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser. Another report Sunday said Mueller hasn’t decided yet whether to investigate Trump.

Most Democrats and Republicans in Congress have defended Mueller, the former FBI director whose leadership of the bureau lasted longer than anyone after J. Edgar Hoover.

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Freedom Caucus member calls for Robert Mueller to recuse himself from Russia probe – Washington Examiner

Senate conservatives hope to have Obamacare impact similar to … – Washington Examiner

Four conservative senators hoped Thursday to do what the Freedom Caucus did in the House: push a Republican healthcare bill to the right and save it from near-certain defeat.

Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Mike Lee, R-Utah and Ron Johnson, R-Wis., announced they would not be able to vote for the recently unveiled Senate healthcare bill, which was designed to at least partially repeal and replace Obamacare, in its present form.

“Senator Paul believes that conservatives need to be included at the negotiation table,” said Paul’s communications director, Sergio Gor. “Staying united will be important, similar to the Freedom Caucus.”

In the House, conservatives managed to establish themselves as the main faction the president dealt with in healthcare negotiations. After the first version of the American Health Care Act proved unacceptable to conservatives, they forced through another version that passed the House.

When Obamacare originally passed Congress, liberal Democrats were forced to negotiate with centrists. They discarded the public option and other liberal priorities to pass a bill that included insurance market exchanges and Medicaid expansion.

“Freedom Caucus members are still reviewing the bill but have a number of concerns that they hope to see addressed in the amendment process” said a caucus source. “Sen. Ted Cruz, in particular, has a market-based consumer choice measure he’s been working on that would garner broad support from the group.”

“This is basically an amendment to Obamacare, not repeal of it. So much for campaign promises, right?” said FreedomWorks’ public policy and legislative director Jason Pye. “I recall [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell saying he would repeal ObamaCare ‘root and branch.’ Yeah, this bill doesn’t do that. We hope that Sens. Lee, Cruz, and Paul can guide the bill in a direction that lowers health insurance premiums.”

Paul, who represents Kentucky in the U.S. Senate alongside McConnell, said much the same thing in his own remarks.

“It’s gotta look like what we promised,” Paul said Thursday afternoon. “I mean we promised I heard people, I traveled the country. I heard other Republicans say we are going to rip it out root and branch’ thousands of times.”

But it is not going to be easy. Centrist Republicans in the House were mostly able to vote against their chamber’s Obamacare replacement, the American Health Care Act, once most Freedom Caucus members voted for it.

Republicans have a 24-seat majority in the House. There is only a 52-48 Republican Senate majority in the Senate. Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, are as important as any of the conservatives. These centrists want to fix Obamacare, not necessarily replace it.

Conservatives like Cruz are hoping for changes in the opposite direction. House conservatives insisted months ago that they wanted to get to yes on the House-passed bill, and it was centrists like the Tuesday Group, as opposed to conservatives, who were making it impossible.

“Ideally, we would like to vote for a bill that repeals Obamacare, yes,” said Lee’s communications director Conn Carroll.

This is similar to what Freedom Caucus members said before their bill finally passed the House. “The only thing we will be judged by is Do premiums come down?” Rep. Mark Meadows said in a meeting with the Washington Examiner.

The version of the bill that is being floated in the Senate jeopardizes centrist votes by allowing state-level waivers from major Obamacare coverage mandates, defunding Planned Parenthood and other well-known abortion providers and tweaking tax credits for consumers who need new health insurances.

Deleting any of these provisions carries the risk of losing conservative votes, after a number of them were won after major changes to the bill.

That hasn’t stopped conservatives from either chamber of Congress from making demands.

“In general, the bill’s going to have to look more like a repeal bill and less like we’re keeping Obamacare” said Paul. “It has to look less like Obamacare lite.”

President Trump, on the other hand, seems to be strengthening the centrists’ position.

“I hope we are going to surprise you with a really good plan,” he told a rally Wednesday evening. “I’ve been talking about a plan with heart. I said, Add some money to it!'”

That’s not exactly music to conservatives’ ears.

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Senate conservatives hope to have Obamacare impact similar to … – Washington Examiner

Study: Gunmakers ramping up production, focusing on ‘freedom and security’ message – ABC News

Gun makers have boosted production in recent years, focusing on more high-caliber pistols and rifles designed for self-defense and shifting away from recreational firearms used for hunting and target shooting, the authors of a new study said.

Gun violence kills more than 36,000 Americans each year, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Authors of the study, published Thursday in The American Journal of Preventive Medicine, said research has focused on victims of gun violence and government policies, while their study is one of the first to focus on gun industry practices.

Looking at data compiled by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the researchers noted a significant increase in gun manufacturing overall from 2005 to 2013, in contrast to a slight downward trend before 2005.

They also found that driving this growth was higher production of pistols and rifles, and the pistols tended to be higher-caliber models, or ones that fire larger bullets. The authors said that five major gun manufacturers control nearly 60 percent of the market, so changes in production of one manufacturer could significantly affect the others’.

“It seems clear to us that the trend is for self-defense,” lead study author Dr. Michael Siegel told ABC News.

Siegel, a professor of community health sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health, further suggested that the findings provide evidence of a change in consumer demand.

“[Manufacturers] have reinvented guns not as a recreational sport or tool but as a symbol of freedom and security,” he said.

The study authors further suggested that the issue of gun violence should shift from the criminal justice perspective to the public health arena a point that has been opposed by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a major industry organization for gun manufacturers.

“Guns are not a disease,” Lawrence G. Keane, the foundation’s senior vice president and general counsel, told ABC News in a statement. “There is no vaccine or health intervention for the criminal misuse of firearms.”

Siegel, however, said the study is important because it points to the industry’s responsibility in preventing gun violence.

He added that the goal of the research was not to deprive gun owners of their weapons.

“They are not the enemy in public health,” he said. “There are ways to reduce gun violence while valuing gun owners’ values It has been painted too long as mutually exclusive.”

Siegel said that the group’s next research steps are to identify the most effective methods and policies for isolating the small number of people who are most likely to commit acts of violence using guns.

“The solution lies in not taking guns away from people who are law-abiding but by being more effective at keeping guns out of the hands of the people who are at highest risk of gun violence.”

Hong-An Nguyen, M.D., is a third-year resident physician in pediatrics at New YorkPresbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center.

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Study: Gunmakers ramping up production, focusing on ‘freedom and security’ message – ABC News

US bishops launch 2017 Fortnight for Freedom with new video – Crux: Covering all things Catholic

WASHINGTON, D.C. The U.S. bishops have launched a website and video to mark the beginning of this years Fortnight for Freedom, focusing on religious freedom issues both at home and abroad.

The video, about ten minutes long and viewable on the Fortnight for Freedom website, features a number of legal, religious, and other personalities discussing the importance of religious liberty. The Fortnight for Freedom takes place June 21 July 4.

Religious freedom is one of the basic freedoms of the human person because without religious freedom, the freedom of conscience, all other freedoms are without foundation, Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami says at the beginning of the video.

A government that doesnt acknowledge limits on its own power to regulate religious institutions is probably going to come after other institutions as well, said Professor Rick Garnett of the Notre Dame Law School.

The video chronicles the struggle between the Little Sisters of the Poor and the HHS mandate of the Affordable Care Act.

Its over three years now that this issue has been pursuing us, says Sr. Constance, L.S.P.

Testimonies from beneficiaries of the Sisters work are showcased in the video.

There is a spiritual component in the way that they live their lives that adds to not only enrichment of the residents lives but to those who are in contact with them, who work with them, who just hear about them, says Carmel Kang.

When religious freedom goes away, and there is no transcendent authority, then the law is the only norm, and the people in power now are always the only power, says Professor Helen Alvare of George Mason University Law School.

The video emphasizes the United Statess historical connection to freedom of religion.

The United States is the greatest country in the history of the world precisely because of the exceptional character of its relationship to faith which permeates every dimension of its evolution, says Eugene Rivers II, an activist and Pentecostal pastor.

The video also highlighted the struggle of religious peoples in other parts of the world.

Tragically, we see the killings, the martyrdom of Christians in Iraq, and Libya, and Egypt, Syria, says Wenski. The video then showed clips from the video of 21 Coptic Christians being martyred by the Islamic State in early 2015.

Professor Thomas Farr of Georgetown University noted the increased threat since the Obergefell vs. Hodges Supreme Court decision in June 2015, and also observed that viewpoints motivated by religion are being silenced.

The video also summarized Dignitatis humanae, the Second Vatican Councils declaration on religious freedom, as well as noting Pope Franciss concern for persecuted Christians around the world.

We have to bring not just optimism, but genuine Christian hope, says Archbishop Lori of Baltimore, head of the USCCBs Committee on Religious Liberty, which was made a permanent structure of the conference at their annual spring meeting last week.

The video closed with a montage of scenes and figures including the Selma to Montgomery March, St. John Paul II, and the collapse of the Berlin Wall.

The USCCBs Fortnight for Freedom website provides a host of prayer and practical resources on the topic of religious freedom.

The prayer resources are based in Scripture as well as the examples of St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher, and are available in both English and Spanish.

Among the practical resources is a brief guide to the issue, which seeks to defend and clarify the bishops views, responding to concerns that defense of liberty is an affront to treating people with equal dignity.

Also included are summaries of religious liberty concerns in the United States and internationally. Domestically, issues listed include the HHS mandate, the right to practice faith in business, and religious institutes right to aid undocumented immigrants. Internationally, concerns are presented from the Central African Republic, Myanmar, and Mexico.

On May 4, the National Day of Prayer, President Trump signed an executive order on religious liberty while surrounded by faith leaders, including Cardinal Donald Wuerl of D.C. and the Little Sisters of the Poor.

RELATED:Bishops point man on religious freedom gives mixed verdict on Trump order

The order called for agencies to consider different enforcement of the mandate and looser enforcement of the Johnson Amendment. It was modified from an earlier, leaked version which critics claimed would have allowed for unjust discrimination of LGBT people.

On May 31, a draft rule providing blanket protection from the mandate was leaked.

The bishops website does not include the Johnson Amendment among its concerns.

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US bishops launch 2017 Fortnight for Freedom with new video – Crux: Covering all things Catholic

WATCH: Ani DiFranco demands reproductive freedom as a civil right – Salon

This Salon Talks video was produced by Alexandra Clinton

The indie folksinger Ani DiFranco, whostarted out performing in coffeehouses as a teen in the late 80s, has long beena feminist icon. She sings of love, pacifism,reproductive rights and progressive politicson her 20th album Binary,released earlier this month. For arecent episode of Salon Talks, she described herjourney as an independent musician in a world of big-media suits.

How does poetry play into the writing?

I was into poetry asa little kid, when I first learned about it in school. The whole idea of distilling language and making it communicate beyond its borders just really interested me. A little bit later I picked up the guitar and started getting into music and songwritingand so that the poetry fetish kind of found its natural extension through song. But Ive always continued to write poems just as poems, too, because its a very different sort of beast than songs.

I love the music of language. Evenbefore I was making songs just the music of the way we speak, the prosody . . . the musicality, the music of prose, the melody.

Im all about that in my writing, trying to echo the music of how we speak in a song so you can really feel it being spoken to you.

Whats the message of thenew song Play God?

That song really comes from a place of trying to frame reproductive freedom as a civil right.. . . Theres a whole area of unfinished business in civil rights that apply only to women, and we just seem to not even have that language yet that can sort of help us to put it in the realm where Ithink it belongs.

The song is just trying to talk about how women are much more deeply informed about reproduction and creation and how death is a part of life. I think every menstruation teaches us that. We spin dark every time because theres death involved, whether that egg is fertilized or not. Ive had several abortions. Ive given birth to several children. Ive had a miscarriage.

Like any woman, I think I know more than a man what it all means, so I think that I should be given that respect.

Catch more of DiFranco on Salon abouther latest album, musical inspiration and civil rights.

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WATCH: Ani DiFranco demands reproductive freedom as a civil right – Salon

Freedom graduates more than 200 seniors – Morganton News Herald

The Freedom High School football stadium was packed full recently when more than 200 seniors bid farewell to their high school careers.

On June 10, as students faced a podium and stage in the middle of the football field, the Freedom High School Band played the National Anthem and Senior Braeden Personius lead the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance.

It is the moments like this that we should cherish the most (in how we are) finally being able to walk across this stage after 13 long years of hard work, Personius said. Absorb the joy of the classmates around us and remember the look on our families’ faces as they are proud of us.

She spoke of how this graduating class represents many “last moments, including being the last class of the 1990s babies, the last time the class would be together at the same place at the same time and the last class under the watch of Principal Mike Swan.

For some of us, it is the last time we will see each other. But instead of dwelling on the many lasts we may have, think of it as a new opportunity to further our lives beyond Freedom High School, Personius said.

Garret Ward, Student Government Assocation president, shared a few facts about Freedom High School within the last four years: Having the best (advanced placement) scores in the county, having the certified nursing assistant class pass with a 100 percent passing grade for the first time in five years, and the school winning four state championships.

The staff here at Freedom have shown us how to care for others, how to carry ourselves in a professional manner and be successful in what we do, Ward said.

Salutatorian Railey Pitts shared a story about her grandmother to encourage her classmates.

As an individual, my grandmother was exceptional. She was the valedictorian of her class and the first person in her family to go to college and a teacher at Freedom when it first opened, Pitts said. She raised three kids and, knowing my dad, it could not have been easy.

Pitts would spend summers at her grandmothers house, saying it was her home away from home. Her grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimers when Pitts was in middle school.

The beautiful, smart (and) funny lady that loved so much was slipping away and, today, her life is far from perfect, she said.

Even though her grandmothers life is worse than most of us sitting here today, she paints the best possible picture even in her bad situation, Pitts said.

Pitts charged her classmates to have the type of spirit that takes each day and lives it to the fullest.

You might find yourself confused or clueless about what to do and there may seem like no light at the end of the tunnel, but instead of getting frustrated or giving up I want you to remember my grandma and just make up your own reality, Pitts said. There will be surprises and bumps in the road, but dont ever give up. And be yourself.

Drew McCracken, valedictorian and Patriot of the Year, spoke to his classmates about obstacles they may face.

Together, we have accomplished many, many things but boy, oh boy, do we have a ways to go, McCracken said. It may not be a whole year from now, but I can promise you that sometime after walking away from this stage today that you are going to encounter bumps and obstacles in the road blocking your way.

He warned his fellow graduates about an acronym GCD, which stands for geometrically constrained disposition.

Friends, do not be square, he said. Despite the very defined and angular hats that sit atop our heads at this moment, do not let this shape define you.

Try to be bad at something and learn from the experience, McCracken said.

Hone down the edges of your comfort zone and round them off and take that leap, he said.

McCracken said a friend shared a quote with him: The point of maximum danger is the point of minimum fear … it is bliss.

He said he doesn’t want his fellow graduates to ever be satisfied with being good enough.

Fellow graduates, I look out this morning and see nothing but thriving potential, McCracken said. Go forth and achieve success, reach goals and arrive at accomplishments. However, dont stop there. Surpass expectations and soar above potential.

After receiving their diplomas, the graduates of Freedom High School faced their families and threw their caps in the air in celebration of reaching this milestone.

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Freedom graduates more than 200 seniors – Morganton News Herald

Catholics urged to work for ‘holiness of freedom, freedom for holiness’ – CatholicPhilly.com

By Erik Zygmont Catholic News Service Posted June 23, 2017

BALTIMORE (CNS) When Henry VIII, as Englands reigning monarch, was declared a defender of the faith, the future must have seemed so bright to Thomas More and John Fisher, Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori said in a homily June 21.

He described an England which seemed to have been spared the painful divisions that racked the Catholic Church on the continent of Europe. Under Henry, he said, monastic life and learning were flourishing while ordinary Catholics showed their love and loyalty to the church.

Who could have imagined the severe test More, Fisher and English Catholicism would face in so short a time? Archbishop Lori asked.

He was the homilist at the opening Mass of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Fortnight for Freedom, an annual observance highlighting the importance of religious liberty.

The Mass was celebrated on the vigil of the English martyrs shared feast day at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore.

The aforementioned saints of the 1500s were, respectively, the lord high chancellor and the bishop of Rochester, both of whom had enjoyed peace and security as they faithfully lived their vocations. They lost their heads for refusing their assent to Henry as the defender of the faith when he declared himself head of the church.

While the West has not recently executed anyone for refusing to give up their beliefs, the archbishop borrowed Pope Francis phrase polite persecution to describe the burdens placed on schools, hospitals, employees, employers and other individuals and institutions that live and act according to their faith while navigating civil society.

Such fines, firings and threatened denials of accreditation indicate kinship, solidarity with those suffering overt persecution round the world, Archbishop Lori said.

St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher fulfilled their mission of bearing witness to Christ in their time, their place, their circumstances, he said. Dear friends, weve gathered in prayer tonight asking to acquire in the power of the Holy Spirit, a greater measure of holiness, so that we too can use our freedom, not for ourselves and our own desires, but rather for Christ and the mission of spreading the Gospel far and wide.

In far too many parts of the world, Archbishop Lori said the Catholic Churchs mission is conducted amid raging persecution. He cited a 2016 report from the University of Notre Dame, titled Under Caesars Sword, that chronicled the persecution of Christians in 25 countries around the world.

He said the reality behind such statistics is seen in the suffering of Christians and other religious minorities including some Muslims, including Chaldean Christians beheaded in Iraq simply for professing their faith and Coptic Christians killed while praying in church on Palm Sunday.

To be sure, we Christians in the West do not experience severe repression, Archbishop Lori said, but in recent years there have been serious curtailments of religious freedom with regard to sexuality, marriage, and the sanctity of life.

The archbishop Lori noted that some have advised that Christians withdraw from the fray.

While he acknowledged the importance of rest and spiritual renewal, he once again turned to St. More and St. John Fisher, and urged Catholics to develop in their hearts the holiness of freedom and freedom for holiness an irrepressible spirit of freedom, courage and mission that no earthly power can take away from us.

Then we shall be truly free, the archbishop said. Then we shall be true missionary disciples.

Those gathered for the Mass included members of the Catholic Business Association, Legatus, the St. Thomas More Society and the Catholic Medical Association. Their presence illustrated their solidarity and involvement with the Fortnight for Freedom.

This kind of shows, to everybody, that we have to act on what we believe, said Dr. Okan Akay, who recently completed his residency in internal medicine and had his hands blessed by Archbishop Lori following the Mass.

It strengthens us in our ability to provide healing for people without having to go against what we believe in, he told the Catholic Review, Baltimores archdiocesan news outlet.

Akay said there is increasing pressure in his line of work for those who would opt out of prescribing contraception or performing an abortion, for example. He was lightly mocked, he added with a shrug, for attending the annual March for Life in Washington.

Interestingly, it was an overt display of faith ashes on foreheads that initially drew Akay, a former Muslim, now a basilica parishioner, toward the Catholic Church.

The Fortnight for Freedom ends July 4. Archbishop Lori will celebrate another Fortnight Mass July 3 in Orlando, Florida, for the Convocation of Catholic Leaders.

***

Zygmont is a staff writer at the Catholic Review, the news outlet of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

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Catholics urged to work for ‘holiness of freedom, freedom for holiness’ – CatholicPhilly.com

Religious freedom isn’t just for Hobby Lobby it’s for indigenous rights, too – Salon

This article originally appeared on Grist.

Last week, the Standing Rock Sioux celebrated what they believe isa ground-breaking legal victoryin the protracted fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., ruled that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in its expedited review of the pipeline, which was ordered by President Trump shortly after taking office. According to Judge James Boasberg, the Army Corps did not adequately consider the impacts of an oil spill on fishing rights, hunting rights, or environmental justice.

On Wednesday, the parties in the DAPL case will appear in court for a hearing about how to respond to the NEPA ruling. Oil could stop the flowing under Lake Oahe, the fourth-largest dam reservoir in the Dakotas. But that stoppage would be temporary.

If the Army Corps does revise its environmental assessment, the court could allow the pipeline to resume operation. The court and the Army Corps would have served environmental justice under NEPA merely by paying lip service to the struggle for indigenous rights in the United States.

Lake Oahe stands at the center of a painful, decades-long story regarding the marginalization of Native Americans. In 1958, the Army Corps took over 200,000 acres from the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux, forcing them from their homes and sacred religious sites, so it could build a dam. Fast-forward nearly 60 years, and the reservoir created by the dam draws a million yearly tourists to its more than 50 recreational sites. Its under the Siouxs once hallowed ground now at the bottom of Lake Oahe where the Army Corps decided to route part of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Earlier this year, as I was completing my law degree at New York University, President Trump fast-tracked the projects completion. In the legal battles that ensued, teams of lawyers both large and small took up the cause of the tribes and the thousands of pipeline activists that joined them, collectively known as water protectors.

Benjamin Eichert, director of the grassroots movement Greenpower, formed the Lakota Peoples Legal Project to highlight the statutory issues regarding the construction of the pipeline. I joined the effort as legal researcher.

The oil flowing under Lake Oahe is not only a potential environmental calamity, it is a dagger through the heart of the Sioux tribes and the NEPA ruling, while certainly a win, will not offer meaningful justice to those at Standing Rock.

One unlikely legal strategy that nearly did and could loom large in future fights to protect indigenous land is the Religious Restoration Freedom Act, a fan-favorite amongst the religious right.

Conservatives successfully employed the statute to argue that corporations with deeply-held religious beliefs, like the arts-and-crafts chain Hobby Lobby, could deny contraceptive coverage to female employees. In 2014, the Supreme Court sided with Hobby Lobby, finding that providing that perk against its corporate values constituted a substantial burden on the companys free exercise of religion.

In February of this year, attorneys for the Sioux tribes turned to the same playbook when seeking a preliminary injunction to prevent the completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline under Lake Oahe. They argued that its construction desecrated the sole water source for the sacredInipiceremony and would release untold calamities upon the Cheyenne River Sioux, as prophesied by their elders.

The argument framed the #noDAPL movement as an indigenous rights issue and not just an administrative violation for the first time in the legal realm.

Judge Boasberg pressed attorneys for the Sioux on whether they attributed the religious burden to the pipeline itself or the oil flowing through it. When the lawyers conceded that it was the oil which wouldnt flow for a few more weeks the court found the pipeline would not present an imminent harm to the Siouxs religious practices.

While the argument collapsed in this case of DAPL, its worked in the past. In 2008, a federal judge in Oklahoma granted an injunction in response to a religious freedom claim by the Comanche tribe against the United States government. The ruling prevented the construction of a military warehouse that would block the last clear view of the Medicine Bluffs, an essential vista for the tribes religious practices.

With numerous other encroachments onto indigenous land on the horizon, the religious freedom argument remains viable and relevant, with the Medicine Bluffs case as a hopeful precedent. The Trump administration may construct a border wall on burial sites in Arizonas Tohono Oodham Nation. And its moving toopen up the sacred Bears Ears National Monumentin Utah to industrial development.

Using the Religious Restoration Freedom Act to connect environmentalism with indigenous rights does far more for environmental justice than procedural laws like NEPA. In the legal and grassroots battles to come, we should remember that these legal challenges are not just about oil spills or environmental impact statements, they are about the very fabric that unites a people.

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Religious freedom isn’t just for Hobby Lobby it’s for indigenous rights, too – Salon

Gay Life in New York, Between Oppression and Freedom – New York Times (blog)

Luis Carle sees himself, and his work, as a bridge between the gay and straight communities, between the younger and older generations of the L.G.B.T. community, and between past and the present. The Puerto Rican photographer was 17 when came out in San Juan in 1980, and in subsequent years witnessed the AIDS crisis, the culture wars, and the march toward broader L.G.B.T. rights. All along, he made pictures of his community and the seismic waves that were reshaping it.

My generation was the one between oppression and freedom, he said. I feel proud of seeing both sides. I was right there in that period of time and my work documented some of the magic that went on in those days. A lot of that is not going to happen anymore.

Mr. Carle grew up on a dead-end street in San Juan. His father worked in insurance, and often used a Polaroid camera in his work. He made sure to teach his son how to use the camera, so from an early age Mr. Carle understood photographys role as record.

Soon after coming out, he bounced between studying pre-med in San Juan and business in Orlando, Fla., before winding up at Parsons School of Design, where he quickly was immersed in photography and documenting the gay community of which he was part. There was art everywhere, he said of that time. To help pay for school, he started assisting fashion and commercial photographers, and then began making his own work. He captured the infamous black parties, the marches and rallies, and throughout, the close-knit ties of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

I was going back and forth between Puerto Rico and New York, he recalled. And I kept recording all my gay friends. As his career took off and he made a living from his photography, he and his friends started traveling, and he kept documenting along the way: Montreals gay scene, marches on Washington, and the goings on in Puerto Rico and New York City. At the same time, he was making elegant and provocative fashion and fine art images.

His documentary work is replete with the heady energy and intimacy forged by the dual forces that shaped the L.G.B.T. community of the time: pride and righteous self-determination colliding with a broader society that wasnt ready to accept them. In one image (Slide 8), Christina Hayworth, a transgender Puerto Rican woman and L.G.B.T. rights pioneer, stares stonily into the camera. To her left is the transgender icon Sylvia Rivera, the activist and veteran of the Stonewall riot, who looks more amused. At far right is Julia Murray, Ms. Riveras partner and also a transgender woman, whose gaze is the most stoic of all. All three have their hands knit together and on the ground at their feet is a sign demanding Respect TRANS. The National Portrait Gallery acquired the image in 2015, and Mr. Carle said it was the first portrait of a transgender American to be added to its collection.

It neatly captures Mr. Carles devotion to recording moments that he knew needed to be remembered, all while celebrating the powerful families that L.G.B.T. people made for themselves. In the 70s and 80s, gay people were a family, he said. There was a community before and they would take care of each other. Some of the titans of that time, including many friends and mentors of Mr. Carles, died of AIDS. Others simply passed before their time. As one of the survivors, he feels it is crucial that he carry forward the memories and lessons.

I have all this information that I needed to share, because I was present in all these places, he said. If we dont say it, nobody knows.

Follow @nytimesphoto on Twitter. Luis Carle and Jake Naughton is on Instagram. You can also find Lens on Facebook and Instagram.

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Gay Life in New York, Between Oppression and Freedom – New York Times (blog)

US bishops launch 2017 Fortnight for Freedom – Catholic News Agency

Washington D.C., Jun 21, 2017 / 09:08 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The U.S. bishops have launched a website and video to mark the beginning of this years Fortnight for Freedom, focusing on religious freedom issues both at home and abroad.

The video, about ten minutes long and viewable on the Fortnight for Freedom website, features a number of legal, religious, and other personalities discussing the importance of religious liberty. The Fortnight for Freedom takes place June 21 – July 4.

Religious freedom is one of the basic freedoms of the human person because without religious freedom, the freedom of conscience, all other freedoms are without foundation, Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami says at the beginning of the video.

A government that doesnt acknowledge limits on its own power to regulate religious institutions is probably going to come after other institutions as well, said Professor Rick Garnett of the Notre Dame Law School.

The video chronicles the struggle between the Little Sisters of the Poor and the HHS mandate of the Affordable Care Act.

Its over three now that this issue has been pursuing us, says Sr. Constance, L.S.P.

Testimonies from beneficiaries of the Sisters work are showcased in the video.

There is a spiritual component in the way that they live their lives that adds to not only enrichment of the residents lives but to those who are in contact with them, who work with them, who just hear about them, says Carmel Kang.

When religious freedom goes away, and there is no transcendent authority, then the law is the only norm, and the people in power now are always the only power, says Professor Helen Alvare of George Mason University Law School.

The video emphasizes the United States historical connection to freedom of religion.

The United States is the greatest country in the history of the world precisely because of the exceptional character of its relationship to faith which permeates every dimension of its evolution, says Eugene Rivers II, an activist and Pentecostal pastor.

The video also highlighted the struggle of religious peoples in other parts of the world.

Tragically, we see the killings, the martyrdom of Christians in Iraq, and Libya, and Egypt, Syria, says Archbishop Wenski. The video then showed clips from the video of 21 Coptic Christians being martyred by the Islamic State in early 2015.

Professor Thomas Farr of Georgetown University noted the increased threat since the Obergefell vs. Hodges Supreme Court decision in June 2015, and also observed that viewpoints motivated by religion are being silenced.

The video also summarized Dignitatis humanae, the Second Vatican Councils declaration on religious freedom, as well as noting Pope Francis concern for persecuted Christians around the world.

We have to bring not just optimism, but genuine Christian hope, says Archbishop Lori of Baltimore, head of the USCCBs Committee on Religious Liberty, which was made a permanent structure of the conference at their annual spring meeting last week.

The video closed with a montage of scenes and figures including the Selma to Montgomery March, St. John Paul II, and the collapse of the Berlin Wall. The USCCBs Fortnight for Freedom website provides a host of prayer and practical resources on the topic of religious freedom.

The prayer resources are based in Scripture as well as the examples of St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher, and are available in both English and Spanish.

Among the practical resources is a brief guide to the issue, which seeks to defend and clarify the bishops views, responding to concerns that defense of liberty is an affront to treating people with equal dignity.

Also included are summaries of religious liberty concerns in the United States and internationally. Domestically, issues listed include the HHS mandate, the right to practice faith in business, and religious institutes right to aid undocumented immigrants. Internationally, concerns are presented from the Central African Republic, Myanmar, and Mexico.

On May 4, the National Day of Prayer, President Trump signed an executive order on religious liberty while surrounded by faith leaders, including Cardinal Donald Wuerl of D.C. and the Little Sisters of the Poor. The order called for agencies to consider different enforcement of the mandate and looser enforcement of the Johnson Amendment. It was modified from an earlier, leaked version which critics claimed would have allowed for unjust discrimination of LGBT people.

On May 31, a draft rule providing blanket protection from the mandate was leaked.

The bishops website does not include the Johnson Amendment among its concerns.

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US bishops launch 2017 Fortnight for Freedom – Catholic News Agency

Ukrainians now have more freedom of travel – but less freedom of thought – New Statesman

Its the most predictable trick in the big book of property development. A developer signs an agreement with a local council promising to provide a barely acceptable level of barely affordable housing, then slashes these commitments at the first, second and third signs of trouble. Its happened all over the country, from Hastings to Cumbria.But it happens most often in London, and most recently of all at Battersea power station, the Thames landmark and long-time London ruin which I wrote about in my 2016 book, Up In Smoke: The Failed Dreams of Battersea Power Station.For decades, the power station was one of Londons most popular buildings but now it represents some of the most depressing aspects of the capitals attempts at regeneration. Almost in shame, the building itself has started to disappear from view behind a curtain of ugly gold-and-glass apartments aimed squarely at the international rich. The Battersea power station development is costing around 9bn. There will be around 4,200 flats, an office for Apple and a new Tube station. But only 386 of the new flats will be considered affordable.

What makes the Battersea power station development worse is the developers argument for why there are so few affordable homes, which runs something like this. Thebottom is falling out of the luxury homes market because too many arebeing built, which means developerscan no longer afford to build the sort of homes that people actually want. Its yet another sign of the failure of the housing market to provide what is most needed. But it also highlights the delusion of politicians who still seem to believe that property developers are going to provide the answers to one of the most pressing problems in politics.

A Malaysian consortium acquired the power station in 2012 and initially promised to build 517affordable units, which then rose to 636.This was pretty meagre, but with four developers having alreadyfailed to develop the site, it was enough to satisfy Wandsworth council. By the time I wrote Up In Smoke, this had been reduced back to 565 units around 15 per cent of the total number of new flats. Now the developers want to build only 386 affordable homes around 9 per cent of the final residential offering, which includes expensive flats bought by the likes of Sting and Bear Grylls.

The developers say this is because of escalating costs and the technical challenges of restoring the power station but its also the case that the entire Nine Elms area between Battersea and Vauxhall is experiencing a glut of similar property, which is driving down prices. They want to focus instead on paying for the new Northern Line extension that joins the power station to Kennington. The slashing of affordable housing can be done without need for a new planning application or public consultation by using a deed of variation. It also means Mayor Sadiq Khan cant do much more than write to Wandsworth urging the council to reject the new scheme. Theres little chance of that. Conservative Wandsworth has been committed to a developer-led solution to the power station for three decades and in that time has perfected the art of rolling over, despite several excruciating, and occasionally hilarious, disappointments.

The Battersea power station situation also highlights the sophistry developers will use to excuse any decision. When I interviewed Rob Tincknell, the developers chief executive, in 2014, he boasted it was the developers commitment to paying for the Northern Line extension (NLE) that was allowing the already limited amount of affordable housing to be built in the first place. Without the NLE, he insisted, they would never be able to build this number of affordable units. The important point to note is that the NLE project allows the development density in the district of Nine Elms to nearly double, he said. Therefore, without the NLE the density at Battersea would be about half and even if there was a higher level ofaffordable, say 30 per cent, it would be a percentage of a lower figure and therefore the city wouldnt get any moreaffordablethan they do now.

Now the argument is reversed. Because the developer has to pay for the transport infrastructure, they cant afford to build as much affordable housing. Smart hey?

Its not entirely hopeless. Wandsworth may yet reject the plan, while the developers say they hope to restore the missing 250 units at the end of the build.

But I wouldnt hold your breath.

This is a version of a blog post which originally appeared here.

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Ukrainians now have more freedom of travel – but less freedom of thought – New Statesman

Britain is looking away as China tramples on the freedom of Hong Kong and my father – The Guardian

Angela Gui: My fathers case is only one out of many that illustrate the death of the rule of law in Hong Kong. Photograph: Angela Gui

I am too young to remember the handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997 and its promise for the new world I would live in. But I have lived to see that promise trampled.

The Sino-British Joint Declaration, signed to pave the way for the handover, was supposed to protect the people of Hong Kong from Chinese interference in their society and markets until 2047. Yet as the handovers 20th anniversary approaches, China muscles in where it promised to tread lightly while Britain avoids eye contact.

As Xi Jinping has consolidated his grip on Chinese politics since he took office in 2013, Beijing has increasingly ignored the principle of one country, two systems on which the handover was based and actively eroded the freedoms this was supposed to guarantee.

In October 2015, my father Gui Minhai and his four colleagues were targeted and abducted by the agents of the Chinese Communist party for their work as booksellers and publishers. My father a Swedish citizen was taken while on holiday in Thailand, in the same place wed spent Christmas together the year before. He was last seen getting into a car with a Mandarin-speaking man who had waited for him outside his holiday apartment. Next, his friend and colleague Lee Bo was abducted from the Hong Kong warehouse of Causeway Bay Books, which they ran together. Lee Bo is legally British and, like any Hong Konger, his freedom of expression should have been protected by the terms of 1997.

Their only crime had been to publish and sell books that were critical of the central Chinese government. So paranoid is Beijing about its public image, that it chooses to carry out cross-border kidnappings over some books. Causeway Bay Books specialised in publications that were banned on the mainland but legal in Hong Kong. The stores manager, Lam Wing-kee, who was taken when travelling to Shenzhen, has described Causeway Bay Books a symbol of resistance. In spite of Hong Kongs legal freedoms of speech and of the press the store is now closed because all its people have been abducted or bullied away. Other Hong Kong booksellers are picking politically sensitive titles off their shelves in the fear that they may be next; the next brief headline, the next gap in a family like my own.

I continue to live with my fathers absence his image, messages from his friends, the cause he has become. Turning 53 this year, he spent a second birthday in a Chinese prison. Soon he will have spent two years in detention without access to a lawyer, Swedish consular officials, or regular contact with his family.

My fathers case is only one of many that illustrate the death of the rule of law in Hong Kong. Earlier this year, Canadian businessman Xiao Jianhua who had connections to the Chinese political elite disappeared from a Hong Kong hotel and later resurfaced on the mainland. In last years legislative council elections, six candidates were barred from running because of their political stance. The two pro-independence candidates who did end up getting elected were prevented from taking office. If intolerable political stance is now a valid excuse for barring LegCo candidates, then it wont be long before the entire Hong Kong government is reduced to a miniature version of Chinas.

The Joint Declaration was meant to guarantee that no Hong Kong resident would have to fear a midnight knock on the door. The reality at present is that what happened to my father can happen to any Hong Kong resident the mainland authorities wish to silence or bring before their own system of justice. Twenty-one years ago, John Major pledged that Britain would continue to defend the freedoms granted to Hong Kong by the Joint Declaration against its autocratic neighbour. Today, instead of holding China to its agreement, Britain glances down at its shoes and mumbles about the importance of trade. It is as if the British government wants to forget all about the promise it made to the people of Hong Kong. But Chinas crackdown on dissent has made it difficult for Hong Kongers to forget.

Theresa May often emphasises the importance of British values in her speeches. But Britains limpness over Hong Kong seems to demonstrate only how easily these values are compromised away. I worry about the global implications of China being allowed to just walk away from such an important treaty. And I worry that in the years to come, we will have many more Lee Bos and Gui Minhais, kidnapped and detained because their work facilitated free speech. Hong Kongs last governor, Lord Patten, has repeatedly argued that human rights issues can be pushed without bad effects on trade. Germany, for example, has shown that this is entirely possible, with Angela Merkel often publicly criticising Chinas human rights record. With a potentially hard Brexit around the bend, a much reduced Britain will need a world governed by the rule of law. How the government handles its responsibilities to Hong Kong will be decisive in shaping the international character of the country that a stand-alone Britain will become. I for one hope it will be a country that honours its commitments and that stands up to defend human rights.

Angela Gui is the daughter of Gui Minhai, a Hong Kong bookseller who disappeared from his home in Thailand in October 2015

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Britain is looking away as China tramples on the freedom of Hong Kong and my father – The Guardian

Bipartisan Resolution Promotes Academic Freedom as Hungary Attempts to Shutter University – Human Rights First

Washington, D.C.Human Rights Firstpraised the introduction ofHouse Resolution 394Supporting International Academic Freedom and American Universities Abroad. The resolution comes as the Hungarian government attempts to shutter Central European University (CEU), a graduate school located in Budapest, Hungary, and accredited in New York State. The resolution sends a clear signal to the Hungarian government that members of the House of Representatives reject an overtly political attack on an institution of higher learningand expect negotiations to go forward in good faith. Negotiations between Hungarian authorities and the State of New York are expected this month.

The bipartisan legislation was introducedby Representatives Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) and Paul Cook (R-CA). Human Rights First has previously urged the Trump Administration and Congressto oppose the Hungarian government’s attempts to stifle civil societyandprotect academic freedom.

Thislegislation is a clear signal from the Congress that a political and unjustified attack on an American educational institution will not be taken lightly, said Human Rights Firsts Rob Berschinski. Having already eroded checks and balances, undermined independent media, scapegoated refugees, and targeted NGOs, Prime Minister Orbans government turned its sights on a university dedicated to an idea it cant toleratecritical thinking.

CEU was endowed by Hungarian-American philanthropist George Soros in 1991, as Hungary emerged from communist rule.It is considered one of the top international universities in the world, and among the most prestigious universities in central Europe.Each year it educates over 1,500 students from over 100 countries.

On April 4, 2017, with no consultation and only a weeks notice, the Hungarian parliament passed amendments to Hungarys higher education law that would have the effect, if implemented, of forcing CEU out of the country. The legislation sets new, onerous, and legally unnecessary requirements on universities registered in foreign countries, several of which apply only to CEU. These include a requirement to establish a national-level agreement on the university between the United States and Hungary, and the need for the university to operate a campus in the United States in addition to its existing campus in Budapest. If these conditions are not met, CEU may lose its operating license as early as October 2017.

Since the legislation assailing CEU was introduced, the university has received an outpouring of support from Hungarian citizens, academics, government officials, and human rights activists around the world. Tens of thousands of Hungarians of all ages and political affiliations have repeatedly taken to Budapests streets to protest their governments assault on a center of learning. Twenty-seven Nobel laureates, the International Association of Universities, and the presidents of Yale, Harvard, Princeton, New York University, Duke, and Oxford, as well as thousands of scholars and researchers, have called for CEU to be allowed to remain in Hungary.

On May 23, theDepartment of State urgedthe Hungarian government to suspend its attack on CEU, noting that the recent amendments place discriminatory, onerous requirements on U.S.-accredited institutions in Hungary and threaten academic freedom and independence. The State Department further made clear that it would not negotiate with the Hungarian government over CEU.

Republican and Democratic members of the Congress in both theHouseandSenatehave called on the Hungarian government to cease its attack on CEU and academic freedom, noting that compromising the universitys operations would negatively impact bilateral relations with the United States.

The European Commission initiated infringement proceedings against the Hungarian government regarding CEU in late Apriland on May 17 the European Parliament passed a resolution explicitly calling on Hungary to repeal the recent amendments.

To learn more about how the United States can counter Hungarys erosion of democratic institutions and its attacks on civil society, read Human Rights Firsts new fact sheet,Hungary: Eroding Democratic Institutions, Closing Space for Civil Society. Human Rights Firsts recent report on the Hungarian government’s attack on civil society and overtures to Russia can be foundhere.

For more information or to speak with Berschinski, contact Christopher Plummer at PlummerC@humanrightsfirst.org or 202-370-3310.

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Bipartisan Resolution Promotes Academic Freedom as Hungary Attempts to Shutter University – Human Rights First

A comeback in life, the freedom of the truth and welcome to drone racing – ESPN

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rantnrave:// A college basketball league that pays its players and allows them to make money off their likenesses? It’s not real yet, but it’s an idea. Vice Sports’ Patrick Hruby writes about the scheme to break up the NCAA’s monopoly on college sports and to pay student-athletes for their work. Few can match Hruby for his work on the NCAA’s hypocritical and exploitative ways. This plan, to build a league of HBCUs that pays players and lets them profit off the court, is imaginative and interesting. Economist Andy Schwarz came up with the idea, and it could disrupt the NCAA if only someone could make it happen. It likely would require the NBA’s buy-in; if playing in such a league jeopardizes players’ chances to go pro, it won’t work. The other question: Who might take the leap and try to break in on the NCAA’s turf? Schwarz’s idea is only an idea right now. But why couldn’t Facebook come in and fund it or try to start a league of its own? Instead of paying billions for broadcast rights, why not create its own product? … Ice Cube is stepping into the basketball market. How big will his share get? His BIG3 league launches Sunday, and he’s out front and part of the appeal. He and Allen Iverson give this 3-on-3 league cultural magnetism. Most important, it doesn’t seem like the basketball version of the XFL. It’s not schtick, and the talent is already recognizable. … Former NFL offensive lineman Ryan O’Callaghan comes out as gay. A poignant story from Outsports. … The only places you can watch Blizzard eSports next year: Twitch and Blizzard platforms. Twitch locked up third-party rights. … Worth repeating: The NBA is lit right now. The offseason is already more exciting than the Finals. Paul George. Kristaps Porzingis. Dwight Howard. Who isn’t on the trade block? … Alexa, play the Mariners game. … O.J. keeps up with the Kardashians. … The women’s outdoor clothing market doesn’t mean “smaller and pink” anymore.

After a horrific car accident that claimed his left leg, Isaiah Pead is relying on the same kind of strength that earned him a career in the NFL. This comeback, though, is much more difficult. Alex Marvez | Sporting News

O’Callaghan had always planned to commit suicide after football, until Kansas City Chiefs staffers stepped in. Cyd Zeigler | Outsports

Drone racing is still a niche hobby, but can it find an audience? James Vincent | The Verge

The multibillion-dollar college sports industry exploits African-American athletes and has left historically black schools behind. Some people think there’s a better way. Patrick Hruby | Vice Sports

The fittest athlete you’ve never heard of is an ultimate Frisbee player. Here’s what a day in his life looks like. Michael Easter | Outside Online

“It’s not enough to be smart. You have to be curious.”

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A comeback in life, the freedom of the truth and welcome to drone racing – ESPN

Editorial: Planning commission taking Freedom plan feedback seriously – Carroll County Times

Carroll County’s planning commission legally could have decided to vote to accept the Freedom Area Comprehensive Plan as-is on Tuesday, following a second public hearing and the end of the 60-day public comment period, putting the fate of the plan in the hands of Board of County Commissioners.

That the planning commission decided to hold off until July to determine the next steps for the controversial plan and possibly even longer, according to Chairman Matt Helminiak is a sign that it is carefully considering the large amount of public feedback it has received.

“However [long] it takes to get through all of the comments and for the planning commission to get comfortable with the accepted plan, plus any modifications that they choose to make,” Phil Hager, the county’s planning director, told us regarding how long the next steps might take.

At this point, it’s hard to argue that residents’ voices aren’t being heard. However, the planning commission and, ultimately, the county commissioners will have to weigh community outcry and criticisms with what they believe are the right steps for the county and the Freedom area, which has long been targeted for future growth.

Jon Kelvey

Public process will continue with Board of Commissioners

Public process will continue with Board of Commissioners (Jon Kelvey)

Many of the arguments we’ve heard against the Freedom plan during the public review process make sense. Some of the proposed land-use changes seem out of character with surrounding properties. In a few of those situations, we’ve already seen the planning commission make changes. Pushback regarding the Beatty property off Bennett Road being zoned for commercial while neighboring a residential area, for example, led to a compromise that creates a buffer between where any future commercial development might take place and the existing neighborhood.

We also agree with those who have argued the infrastructure is not in place, especially in regard to roads and traffic, for the future growth the Freedom plan calls for. It is worth noting, though, that the Freedom land-use plan is just that a plan and not a guarantee of those zoning changes or growth.

Separate processes also exist, such as traffic impact studies, when development becomes closer to reality, to address those concerns. In some cases, it’s possible developers would be asked to pay for some necessary road improvements to make their plans more viable, although the elephant in the room remains Liberty Road, which would require state funding.

But, in other cases, there does seem to be a bit of NIMBY-ism at play among the Freedom plan’s detractors; particularly those who have decried any potential development on land that is currently used for agriculture or is undeveloped. Folks who moved to Eldersburg and surrounding areas during periods of rapid growth in Carroll just a few decades ago surely didn’t expect the door to close behind them, did they?

No plan is going to satisfy everyone, but it is clear the members of the planning commission are taking their duty seriously and considering the loads of feedback received. That will hopefully result in a better Freedom plan by the time it eventually reaches the Board of County Commissioners, whenever that may be, and at which point the public should once again have an opportunity to weigh in.

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Editorial: Planning commission taking Freedom plan feedback seriously – Carroll County Times

The Case for Economic Freedom – The Libertarian Republic

by Ian Tartt

So many modern problems, from excessively powerful corporationsto the high cost of living, are blamed on the free market. Using thatterm in a negative way in front of most audiences will generate applause and cheers. But is that consistent with reality? Are the problems we now face the result of too much economic freedom? Lets take a look at some ways in which government intervention in the economy hurts people.

Many people are concerned about big corporations and conglomerations. They think that government is necessary to prevent such accumulations of wealth and market power. However, the reality is far different. Regulations, which have steadily increased over time, make it more difficult for businesses to thrive. Small businesses in particular have trouble complying with all the regulations and paying the taxes and fees that are levied upon them. This makes it easier for older and larger businesses to keep a greater share of the market. Thats why businesses often lobby for additional regulations, protective tariffs, or other forms of government intervention in the economy. Rather than innovate and provide better products at lower prices than their competitors, theywould rather use the government to crush competition.

Another example of the harm of government intervention in the economy is inflation (the increase in the supply of money and credit). Inflation has numerous harmful effects. The most immediately apparent effect is the way it lowers the purchasing power of money. Like everything else, money is affected by the law of supply and demand. The more money in circulation, the less each dollar is worth; the less money in circulation, the more each dollar is worth. Thus, inflation devalues money, which means prices go up in response. However, prices dont go up immediately and uniformly across the economy. When new money is created, those with strong ties to politicians get it first, before prices increase. By the time people in the middle and lower classes get the new money, prices have risen. This increase the cost of living, which is especially troublesome for those who have very little already. Further, inflation devalues money stored in savings accounts and similartypes ofaccounts; anyone dependent on something like that is thus hit even harder by inflation.

Another negative consequence of inflation is the business cycle. This is the term for a great economic boom followed by a depression or recession. When the Federal Reserve engages in inflationary policies, it leads to a great misallocation of resources as a result of people taking on ventures they normally would avoid. New businesses open up, more jobs are created, and the economy takes off. But when the bubble pops, all of that comes crashing down, and the bad investments are liquidated during the recession. Since Herbert Hoover, its been standard procedure for presidents to intervene in recessions with the hopes of making them as short and painless as possible. However, intervening actually makes them longer and more severe; businesses take longer to recover and people cant return to work as soon as they could without the intervention. So in addition to causing bad investments during the artificial boom (which deprives people of opportunities and products they could have had without the artificial boom), government intervention also hurts people during the inevitable crash.

Government policies have facilitated inflation. For most of US history, money was either made of a valuable commodity or backed by one. Precious metals such as gold and silver tended to be used because, among other things, they are scarce, durable, and retain their value over time. This kept inflation in check, reduced the frequency and severity of business cycles, and restricted the governments ability to spend and expand its own power. Over time, however, money was gradually changed into the fiat currency we use today. Precious metals were phased out of coins, the amount of gold backing each individual dollar was reduced numerous times, and eventually the last remaining tie to the gold standard was severed. As a result of these changes, our money has already been significantly devalued and is being continuously devalued through inflation.

Now that weve looked at some problems, lets examine some solutions. Drastic reductions in regulations, taxes, and fees would lead to more competition among businesses by creating a level playing field. Businesses would have to earn the support of customers through providing quality products at reasonable prices and would no longer be able to lobby the government for special favors that give them unfair advantages over their competitors. Returning to commodity money or hard money would ensure that money retained its value over time rather than lose it. Additionally, this would keep the cost of living in check and reduce the risk of economic recessions. If recessions still occurred,they could be quickly sorted out by politicians and bureaucrats keeping their hands off the economy and allowing the necessary correction phase to occur in as short a time as possible.Think about the economic growth and stability that would occur if these measures were put in place.

Its easy to see that the cause of so many of todays problems is not the free market, but the lack of a free market. Some great resources for learning more about these issues include Economics in One Lesson, Meltdown, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, and End The Fed.Anyone whos concerned about the status quo and what the future will hold should do what they can to advocate for a return to a free market as quickly as possible.Some ways to do this include asking politicians to support steps towards more economic freedom, convincing other people of the benefits of a free market and encouraging them to get involved as well, volunteering with organizations that support economic freedom such as Americans for Prosperity, and refusing to vote for ant-free market measures at the voting booth. Those who take up such a challenge have a long road ahead of them, but with the proper dedication and strategies, its certainly possible to return to a free market and enjoy all the benefits that that entails.

Americans For ProsperityCapitalism: The Unknown Idealcorporate welfareeconomic freedomEconomics in One Lessonend the fedfeesfree marketgovernment interventionInflationmeltdownMoneyregulationstaxes

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The Case for Economic Freedom – The Libertarian Republic


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