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Posts tagged ‘Dallas’

State Dept. Whistleblower’s Emails Destroyed by Hacker.


A State Department whistleblower’s computer has had four years of emails deleted by a hacker, including messages detailing alleged wrongdoing at the agency, according to the New York Post.

The Gmail account of Diplomatic Security Service criminal investigator Richard Higbie was hacked earlier this month, confirmed his lawyer Cary Schulman. And now Higbie has asked the FBI in Dallas, where he lives, to investigate the hack attack.

Schulman said that the e-mails included Higbie’s proof of misconduct by leading department officials, his correspondence with other potential whistleblowers at the agency, and his communications with members of Congress investigating the allegations.

“They took all of his e-mails and then they deleted them all,” said Schulman, adding that he had no evidence to suggest the hacker’s identity or whether he or she was working in collusion with anyone else.

Calling the hacking “sophisticated” and saying Higbie’s targeting was “alarming,” the lawyer added, “Obviously, somebody is not happy with something he’s doing and wanted to get that information and also cause him an inability in the future to have ready access to that.”

Higbie, the second-highest-ranking agent in the Dallas office, played a vital part in helping fellow whistleblower Aurelia Fedenisn, a former investigator for the department’s Inspector General, lift the lid earlier this year on a series of coverups by leading officials, the Post reports.

The alleged coverups included keeping an Inspector General investigation under wraps that confirmed members of then-Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton’s security detail had paid for hookers and that the Belgian ambassador had solicited underage prostitutes.

The Post says that several investigations by the service, which protects dignitaries and investigates crimes at the agency, were allegedly derailed by senior officials, including one case in which Clinton Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills allegedly interfered.

Higbie has claimed in an employment lawsuit against the department that it took revenge against him for being a whistleblower.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Drew MacKenzie

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Dallas Billionaire, GOP Supporter Harold Simmons Dead at 82.


Dallas billionaire and heavyweight GOP political donor Harold Simmons, who has given millions of dollars to Republican candidates, including Texas Gov. Rick Perry, has died. He was 82.

Simmons, born to two school teachers in East Texas, became one of the richest men in the country with interests ranging from energy to chemicals. A spokesman for Simmons, Chuck McDonald, says Simmons died Saturday in Dallas. He says he does not know the cause of death.

Simmons’ wife, Annette Simmons, tells The Dallas Morning News her husband died at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas.

Perry called Simmons “a true Texas giant” who rose from humble beginnings.

Over the years, Simmons has donated tens of millions of dollars, including to charities, education groups and a Dallas medical center.

Simmons, along with Texas businessman Bob Perry, were among the last of an era of GOP megadonors. Perry died earlier this year at age 80.

While the overwhelming amount of Simmons’ donations were to Republican candidates and conservative causes, he recently donated to Planned Parenthood and to a Dallas LGBT center.

The Center for Public Integrity ranked him the second highest donor in the 2011-12 election cycle, giving almost $31 million along with his wife. They also gave to super PACS supporting Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry, Politico reports.

He started his business career with a single drug store that he developed into a chain before selling it to Eckerd. His net worth at the time of his death was $10 billion, according to Forbes, which ranked him the 40th richest person in America.

Simmons also saw his share of trouble. He was fined $19,800 for contributing above the then-federal limit of $25,000 per person. And in the mid-1990s he almost lost his fortune when his daughters sued him over a trust he had established and named himself the sole trustee.

In 2010, D magazine reported that a subsidiary of his company, Contran, had multiple lawsuits filed over environmental practices.

“Harold Simmons was one of my best friends, and it’s never easy to say goodbye to close friends,” businessman T. Boone Pickens told The Dallas Morning News. “Harold accomplished so much in his life. He was a passionate person — passionate about his family, his business, philanthropy and politics.”

“Harold Simmons was a true Texas giant, rising from humble beginnings and seizing the limitless opportunity for success we so deeply cherish in our great state,” Texas Gov. Rick Perry said.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: Newsmax.com

Issa: Obamacare Navigators Put Americans at Risk From Identity Theft.


Image: Issa: Obamacare Navigators Put Americans at Risk From Identity Theft

By Drew MacKenzie

A damning report from Rep. Darrell Issa‘s Oversight Committee alleges that the Obama administration’s “serious mismanagement” of the healthcare reform law’s navigator program has put millions of Americans at risk of having their private information stolen by identity thieves.

The staff report also reveals that the very navigators who are supposed to help people enroll in health insurance plans are urging consumers — in certain cases — to lie and commit fraud to qualify for or enhance their government subsidies.

The navigator program was launched by the White House supposedly to help guide consumers through the confusing Obamacare sign-up process, including navigating around the troubled HealthCare.gov website.

But the report, which was released in conjunction with a Monday field hearing in a Dallas suburb, warns that ill-trained navigators are violating navigator rules and procedures while also giving bad advice to applicants about the insurance marketplace and the enrollment process.

Issa, a California Republican who is chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said the Department of Health and Human Services “lacked a contingency plan for the navigator program after HealthCare.gov failed, leaving consumers open to the risk of identity theft” due to confusion surrounding enrollment for health exchanges.”

“Major problems have plagued the Navigator and Assister programs in the first 10 weeks of enrollment,” his committee’s report states. “Poorly-trained navigators gave consumers incorrect information about the healthcare exchanges, violated HHS rules, and even encouraged applicants to commit tax fraud in some instances.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has admitted that navigators do not need a background check before becoming certified, which means criminals — including those who have been convicted of identity theft — can become Obamacare assisters. They can then get access to sensitive personal information, including Social Security numbers, date of birth, addresses, phone numbers, and annual income.

The report was drawn up by the committee after HHS officials, including Gary Cohen, the deputy administrator and director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, briefed it last month on the troubled navigator outreach program.

The report said, “[The] documents call into question the effectiveness of the navigator program and the Obama administration’s ability to safeguard consumer information.”

The system “induces fraudulent behavior and poses real threats to the safety of consumers’ personally identifiable information, such as one’s Social Security number, yearly income, and other sensitive tax information,” the report said.

The Oversight Committee also learned that there have been instances where Obamacare navigators have “encouraged consumers to commit tax fraud by underreporting income in order to qualify for Obamacare’s health insurance subsidies.”

The navigators have assisted applicants before even completing their five- to 20-hour online training course, according to the report, and mailed applications for consumers, which violates “the rule that applicants must mail in the application themselves.”

The committee quoted a video released by conservative activist James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas in that navigators from the Urban League of Greater Dallas were seen urging consumers to lie on their health insurance applications to qualify for tax subsidies. They were also captured telling one consumer to lie about her smoking habit to reduce her monthly premium.

In another case, an alleged navigator gave a TV interview in which she incorrectly told viewers that credit scores would affect their eligibility for some health insurance plans. It was later revealed that she was not a certified navigator, but a volunteer with a navigator organization.

Also, a navigator organization in North Carolina, Mountain Project Inc., has been mailing application for consumers, disregarding HHS rules.

On Monday, Issa joined forces with Texas Republican Rep. Pete Sessions to attack the navigator program in an op-ed in The Dallas Morning Newssaying that “while President Barack Obama and other allies of Obamacare continue to publicly tout the law, they have done too little to address serious problems that come with it.”

Issa and Sessions said the point of the field hearing in Richardson, Texas, on Monday, one of several investigating “the flawed implementation” of Obamacare, was to help the American people understand the problems surrounding the navigator program.

“The American people deserve to know why the administration believes that inadequately trained navigators are qualified to help guide them through such an important process as signing up for healthcare,” they said.

The lawmakers were particularly concerned about the lax security surrounding the navigators when proper consumer privacy protection should be imperative in a program like Obamacare, which requires Americans by law to purchase health insurance or face a fine for noncompliance.

“Fortunately, states such as Texas have proposed rules that will protect Americans’ private information by requiring health navigators to pass background checks and complete additional privacy training,” Issa and Sessions wrote.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

The Enduring Legacy of C. S. Lewis.


The Enduring Legacy of C. S. Lewis

When President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, November 22 1963 was engraved in the annals of history. But while the world reeled in shock and grief, another great figure of the twentieth century peacefully died in his bedroom. C. S. Lewis, beloved author of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe finally passed from the Shadowlands into the Solid World of Heaven.

Lewis is more popular today than he was fifty years ago. And the approaching anniversary of his death has prompted fresh attention on Lewis, including a recent conference, the November issue ofChristianity Today, and a recent article from the Religious News Service.

Unfortunately, the RNS article contains many factual errors and could leave readers with some false impressions about Lewis’s childhood abandonment of Christianity, his interest in the occult, and the details of his conversion.

Born in Belfast in 1898, Lewis was raised Anglican, but rejected Christianity as a teenager. RNS suggests that this was prompted by the death of Lewis’s mother and wrongly dates the inception of Lewis’s unbelief to his fifteenth year.

Shattered by her death, Lewis abandoned his inherited faith at the age of 15 and threw himself into a study of mythology and the occult.

But Lewis was actually thirteen, not fifteen. And in his spiritual autobiography Surprised by Joy,Lewis lays out the conscious and unconscious causes of his childhood apostasy, showing that it wasn’t simply a reaction to the loss of his mother, but the complex result of several factors. These included not only his fascination with the occult, but also a self-imposed “intolerable burden” of private prayer, his reading of the classics, and “a deeply ingrained pessimism,” the seeds of which Lewis says, “were sown before my mother’s death.”[1]

Young Jack (as he was known by family and friends) did feel an attraction to mythology and the occult (though he would have rejected any simple identification of mythology with the occult; these two things were quite distinct in his mind). But it would be false to imply that he abandoned himself to the study of the occult or that this fascination was life-long. Later in Surprised by Joy, he says that he was “wonderfully protected” from any abiding attachment to the occult, first by his ignorance, incapacity, and cowardice, but especially by “the known nature of Joy.” Joy, for Lewis, meant not so much the emotion of happiness, but an intense longing that was deeply satisfying to experience, but the fulfillment of which eluded him at every turn – until he became a Christian.

From Lewis’s own words, it’s clear that this unhealthy interest in the occult was temporary and proved unsatisfying. In fact, he says,

I had learned a wholesome antipathy to everything occult and magical which was to stand me in good stead when, at Oxford, I came to meet Magicians, Spiritualists, and the like. Not that the ravenous lust was never to tempt me again but that I now knew it for a temptation. And above all, I now knew that Joy did not point in that direction.[2]

Jack’s conversion was a slow process from atheism to theism to Christian faith. Lewis compares this process to a foxhunt (with himself as the fox) and a game of chess (“Check” and “Checkmate” are two of the chapter titles in Surprised by Joy). There were many influences along the way including the writings of George MacDonald and G. K. Chesterton (who, contrary to RNS, was not a member of the Inklings and never personally met Lewis), as well as conversations with his friends J. R. R. Tolkien and Hugo Dyson.

Tolkien, of course, was the author of The Lord of the Rings, a book Lewis highly praised. Together, Lewis and Tolkien formed the nucleus of The Inklings, a loose association of friends (not a formal club) that began meeting in 1933, usually on Thursday evenings in Lewis’s rooms at Magdelen College and before lunch on Mondays or Fridays at a pub called The Eagle and the Child (dubbed “The Bird and the Baby” by Lewis and his cronies!).

In 1952, Lewis met Joy Davidman Gresham, a Jewish American who had come to Christian faith partly as a result of Lewis’s writing. They were married in 1956, first in a civil ceremony (to grant her British citizenship) and later in a private Christian ceremony.

Joy died from cancer less than two years into their marriage, leaving Jack shattered by the loss. He chronicled his journey through this grief in A Grief Observed (not, as RNS reports, The Problem of Pain, which was published in 1940). Jack died of renal failure (not a heart attack) one week before his 65th birthday and is buried in the church yard of Holy Trinity Church, Headington, Oxford.

C. S. Lewis’s legacy endures fifty years later, his writing remaining a great gift to both the church and the world. Lewis’s classical training and keen intellect equipped him with razor-sharp reason. His expertise in medieval literature and lifelong love for story and mythology fertilized a verdant imagination. His early atheism gave him both sympathy with skeptics and the ability to convincingly critique the very positions he had once so tenaciously held.  And his slow but thorough conversion to Christ baptized his reason and imagination, which together gave birth to several dozen books ranging from poetry, allegory, science fiction, and fantasy to theology, apologetics, literary criticism, and ethics. Lewis’s books continue to glow with goodness, sparkle with beauty, and pulsate with truth, challenging the minds and nourishing the imaginations of children and adults alike.

Brian Hedges

Brian G. Hedges is the lead pastor for Fulkerson Park Baptist Church and the author of Christ Formed in You: The Power of the Gospel for Personal Change and Licensed to Kill: A Field Manual for Mortifying Sin. Brian and his wife Holly have four children and live in South Bend, Indiana. Brian also blogs at www.brianghedges.comand you can follow him on Twitter @brianghedges.

Notes


[1] C. S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life, chap. IV.

[2] Ibid.,chap. XI.

Kennedy 50 Years Later: Little Evidence JFK Would Have Left Vietnam in Second Term.


Image: Kennedy 50 Years Later: Little Evidence JFK Would Have Left Vietnam in Second Term

President John F. Kennedy meets in the White House cabinet room with Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, left, Sen. Mike Mansfield (D-Montana), second left, and Sen. Everett Dirksen (R-Ill.), on Sept. 9, 1963.

Americans today commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

One is sure to hear many “if only” conjectures about the 35th president. One of these is likely “If only Kennedy had survived the assassination in Dallas and won re-election, he would have reversed the U.S. military buildup in Vietnam.”

It would be in direct contrast to the action taken by his successor, fellow Democrat Lyndon Johnson, and would have avoided America’s longest war.

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But is there any hard evidence to support this claim? None at all. In fact, had President Kennedy been re-elected and taken this course, it would have contradicted just about every public action and statement he made about Vietnam during his presidency.

In his book “Johnny We Hardly Knew Ye,” onetime top Kennedy White House aide Ken O’Donnell wrote that he recalled a conversation between the president and Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield (D.-Mont.) in May 1963 in which Kennedy said he “now agreed with the senator’s thinking on the need for a complete withdrawal from Vietnam. ‘But I can’t do it until 1965 — after I’m re-elected.'”

According to O’Donnell, Kennedy told him: “If I tried to pull out completely now from Vietnam, we would have another Joe McCarthy scare on our hands, but I can do it after I’m re-elected. So we had better make damned sure that I am re-elected.”

Echoed without any supporting evidence by other allies of JFK, this claim of President Kennedy in his second term reversing the buildup of 16,000 troops in Vietnam, that occurred for the most part during his first term, has developed a life of its own.

In his much-praised biography of Kennedy, “An Unfinished Life,” historian Robert Dallek concedes that “[n]o one can prove, of course, what Kennedy would have done about Vietnam between 1964 and 1968.” But, Dallek concludes, “His actions and statements, however, are suggestive of a carefully managed stand-down from the sort of involvement that occurred under LBJ.”

Do they? In an interview at his Hyannisport, Mass., home with CBS-TV‘s Walter Cronkite on Sept. 2, 1963, Kennedy said of Vietnam: ” . . . I don’t agree with those who say we should withdraw. That would be a great mistake. I know people don’t like Americans to be engaged in this kind of effort.

“Forty-seven Americans have been killed in combat with the enemy. But this is a very important struggle even though it is far away. We took all this — made this effort to defend Europe. Now Europe is quite secure. We also have to participate — we may not like it — in the defense of Asia.”

At a news conference 10 days later, responding to a question about the current U.S. policy toward South Vietnam, the president underscored the U.S. commitment to winning .

“I think I have stated what my view is, and we are for those things and those policies which help win the war there,” he said, “That is why some 25,000 Americans have traveled 10,000 miles to participate in that struggle. What helps to win the war, we support; what interferes with the war effort, we oppose.

“I have already made it clear that any action by either government which may handicap the winning of the war is inconsistent with our policy or our objectives.

” . . . [W]e want the war to be won, the Communists to be contained, and the Americans to go home. That is our policy. I am sure it is the policy of the people of Vietnam. But we are not there to see a war lost, and we will follow the policy which I have indicated today of advancing those causes and issues which help win the war.”

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Two months later, the president’s own words recalled his pledge in 1960 to “build a national defense which is not ‘first but,’ not ‘first if,’ not ‘first when’ but first — period. The pledge has been fulfilled.”

In the same remarks, Kennedy hailed U.S. support of other countries fighting communism, declaring: “Our assistance to these nations can be painful, risky, and costly, as is true in Southeast Asia today, But we dare not weary of the task . . . .”

” . . . [T]he righteousness of our cause must underlie our strength,” he concluded, “For as was written long ago: ‘Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.’”

These are from texts of speeches never given, scheduled for the president to deliver in Dallas on the afternoon of Nov. 22, 1963.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Islam Posts Rapid Growth in US—Are Christians Ready?.


Muslims
The Crescent Project is helping Christians learn how to reach out to Muslims. (Facebook)

According to the United States Census Bureau, the number of mosques in the U.S. soared 74 percent between 2000 and 2010. The report also found there are now 2.6 million Muslims living in the U.S.—an increase of 66 percent.

What are Christians doing to reach out to them? According to the Crescent Project, they’re not doing enough.

Fouad Masri, founder and president of the Crescent Project, says Christians need to listen to Jesus.

“Jesus says, ‘You are the light of the world,'” Masri says. “Jesus is asking us to shine our light. Today, more than ever, Muslims see that they are in darkness. Muslims, for the first time, are asking questions.”

Unfortunately, Christians don’t know how to be a light to Muslims today. Masri says that’s why the Crescent Project is holding its Oasis Conference in the Dallas area next week.

“We’re asking Christians to come to the conference,” he says. “Join us in praying for Muslims. Join us and learn how to share the gospel with Muslims.”

According to Masri, you probably have Muslims in your hometown.

“It could be someone who’s a student, an immigrant, somebody who’s a refugee,” he says. “We’re asking Christians to lock arms with us and [share] this beautiful message about Jesus with our Muslim neighbors.”

The Oasis Conference is being held at 121 Community Church in Grapevine, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. Masri says the training is highly effective.

“Three out of four [people] who come to our training have never shared the gospel with Muslims,” he says. “However, after they go through the training, 74 percent of them get involved in reaching Muslims.”

The training does even more than that.

“Four out of five [alumni] become mobilizers,” Masri says. “They start talking to churches [and] friends about the issues of Islam in America, about the issues of Islam overseas and about how to build bridges with Muslims.”

According to Masri, because many Muslims are searching for truth, many are surprised when they hear Jesus is still alive. He references two Afghan women who watched the story of Jesus on video and began to cry. Was it because of the crucifixion scene?

Masri explains, “They said, ‘No. We’re crying because Jesus rose from the dead, and nobody has told us for 2,000 years. For 2,000 years, we never heard that the end of the story was resurrection.'”

This article originally appeared on mnnonline.org.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

MISSION NETWORK NEWS

Rick Santorum’s Film Studio Files Suit After Alleged ‘Campaign of Sabotage’ PDF.


 

Rick Santorum
Rick Santorum was hired as EchoLight Studios’ CEO in June. (Facebook)

Dallas-based EchoLight Studios filed a lawsuit Sept. 30 against two recently terminated executives for what the Christian film production company calls a “campaign of sabotage.”

The suit was filed in Tarrant County (Texas) Court against two former executives—Christopher Morrow, who served as EchoLight’s chief global strategist, and Bobby Downes, who was president of the company. The executives were fired in late September by former U.S. senator and Republican presidential nominee Rick Santorum, who was hired as the company’s CEO in June.

The suit alleges that Morrow and Downes colluded to damage EchoLight’s reputation by making negative comments to the company’s partners and licensors, as well as hijacking its corporate Facebook account last weekend. The filing further claims that Morrow refused to turn over financial documents for an upcoming film—Hoovey, the story of a high school basketball player with a brain tumor, which received $1 million in studio money.

“At least two other partners/licensors of important EchoLight movie projects have communicated their desire to end their business relationship with EchoLight,” the lawsuit states.

The company seeks damages and an injunction against the former executives for breach of contract, conversion and breach of fiduciary duty, according to Courthouse News Service.

Despite the lawsuit and the issues that led to its filing, the studio’s leadership remains optimistic.

“EchoLight Studios is in a positive position and we are growing and expanding every day,” a spokeswoman for the company said.

Echolight’s recent DVD releases include UndauntedWelcome to ParadiseBeyond the Heavens and 25 Hill. The studio is planning red-carpet premieres of The Christmas Candle in Dallas and Orlando, Fla., on Oct. 21, with a national release in November.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

JEREMY BURNS/CHRISTIAN RETAILING

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