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'It's Witchcraft's That's Trying to Take America Back Over': Alabama Pastor Goes on Insane Rant in Defense of Trump

August 22, 2018 in Blogs

By Matthew Chapman, AlterNet

Pastor John Kilpatrick has an interesting theory about why Trump is having a bad week.


The federal investigations into President Donald Trump and his associates have been described by Trump, and those loyal to him, as a “witch hunt.”

But one pastor in Alabama is entertaining exactly the opposite: he believes that Trump's problems are the result of witchcraft.

According to AL.com, Pastor John Kilpatrick of Church of His Presence led his congregation in a prayer to protect Trump from the witches who are secretly working to take him down.

“When Elijah faced Jezebel, he was facing witchcraft … What’s happening right now in America, is witchcraft’s trying to take this country over. It’s witchcraft that’s trying to take America back over.” he said.

He added, “I am not being political, but I don’t see how President Trump bears up under it. He is as strong as I've ever seen a man be. But here’s what the Holy Spirit said to me last night and what He said for me to tell you. He said, ‘Tell the church that so far, Trump has been dealing with Ahab. But Jezebel’s fixing to step out from the shadows.’ That’s what the Lord said to me.”

“Witchcraft was in full control and witchcraft was what knocked Elijah out of his position, took him out of power,” Kilpatrick continued. “Oh my God. I heard the Lord say there’s going to be an attempt to take him out of power. Let’s stand and pray right now.”

A Pentecostal minister whose denomination is known for faith healing and speaking in tongues, Kilpatrick claimed in an interview with AL.com to be a registered independent but a Trump voter. He also attempted without great success to clarify his position, saying “It’s not a witch after him, it’s a spirit of witchcraft trying to muzzle him.”

This sort of rhetoric is common among a certain fringe element of extremist Trump supporters. Lou Engle, a member of the pro-Trump dominionist “POTUS Shield” network, has been praying for God to eliminate liberal judges and said that people protesting Trump's move to fill the …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Don't Believe the Myth — Trump Could Absolutely Be Indicted

August 22, 2018 in Blogs

By Rebecca Buckwalter-Poza, Daily Kos

There’s no line in the Constitution, case from the Supreme Court or federal law to say that the president can’t be indicted.


With Michael Cohen’s very public incrimination of the president, the word of the week is “indictment.” Whatever your angle on indicting the president, there’s an oped—or article—to argue it. But that’s all that’s available: argumentation. And despite the attempt to make the dueling positions seem well-matched, there’s a clear winner: Trump can be indicted.

There’s no line in the Constitution, case from the Supreme Court, or federal law to say that the president can’t be indicted. Rather, the closest we’ve gotten from the Supreme Court—Clinton v. Jones, in 1997—was a unanimous vote that the president can be sued and subject to a civil trial while in office. The justices found the potential disruption to the presidency wasn’t unconstitutionally burdensome. Nor would it be in the case of a criminal trial.

Like any other unresolved legal issue, it would have to be decided by the courts: Prosecutors would have to seek an indictment, then battle the inevitable challenge to the indictment. And, as former solicitor general Walter Dellinger has pointed out, indicting the president is not the same as putting the president on trial—it just preserves the statute of limitations. When legislators behave ethically, one would also think that an indictment would count as strong evidence of unsuitability, grounds for impeachment. 

The only way to force that legal determination is, well, to indict. Though it’s more than justified, per Cohen’s statement confirming Trump directed him to violate campaign finance law, a federal indictment is unlikely. For one thing, DOJ’s got a history of opposing presidential indictments and DOJ gets last say. For another, special counsel Robert Mueller isn’t Kenneth Starr; he couldn’t go rogue even if he wanted to.

DOJ has consistently taken the position that the president can’t be indicted and prosecuted. In 1973, amidst Watergate, the Office of Legal Counsel determined that impeachment is the sole remedy for presidential misdeeds—even if the inability to indict and prosecute the president results in “a complete hiatus in criminal liability.” 

While a 1988 OLC memo concluded that …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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How Meditation Can Help People Struggling with Schizophrenia

August 22, 2018 in Blogs

By The Conversation

There is a great need to develop more alternatives and add-on therapies to pharmacological treatment.


“I felt a sense of dissolving, disappearing completely.” “My body and mind melted and merged with the universe.” “I ceased to exist.” These are excerpts of what I occasionally hear from the students who come to my yoga and meditation classes.

For most, these “mind-expanding” experiences are very positive and this is precisely what my students are seeking. However, there are always a few who have a difficult time with “ceasing to exist.”

Most traditional contemplative practices encourage careful examination of our concept of self and reality. This can induce feelings of boundlessness, non-separation, fusing with the universe, a deconstructed self, timelessness, emptiness or the void. This can be an insightful and blissful experience, but it can also be frightening if we are not prepared.

Given that meditation can sometimes produce such profound effects, is it a good idea to promote it in people with an already fragmented perception of self, or with hallucinations or delusions? As a clinical neuroscientist, I believe it is.

Research shows that some mindfulness-based interventions for psychotic symptoms can afford people a greater acceptance and insight into their experiences. They can also reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression which often accompany, and may exacerbate, psychotic disorders.

My dream is that one day all psychiatric hospitals and mental health facilities will offer a range of alternatives for people with mental health problems — including meditation, yoga, dance, art, music and massage therapy.

Acute psychotic episodes

Schizophrenia is one of the most complex and least understood psychiatric disorders. Indeed, some researchers and clinicians question its usefulness as a clinical construct.

Schizophrenia may lead to progressive decline in cognitive, emotional and social domains. However, some individuals diagnosed with the disorder have good insight into their condition and are able to hold down a job and have families, friends and normal life satisfaction.

The course of the illness is typically characterized by acute psychotic episodes, with hallucinations and delusions intensifying for days or weeks. These episodes are interspersed with longer periods of relative stability with or without <a target=_blank …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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'Throw the President Under the Bus': Reporter Says Michael Cohen Intentionally Dropped the Trump Bombshell as Revenge

August 22, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

Cohen's plea on Wednesday threw the White House into chaos.


When Michael Cohen revealed in court Tuesday that President Donald Trump directed him to carry out the two illegal campaign payments he pleaded guilty to, the revelation immediately dominated news coverage and stupefied many of the president's allies. Many observers said the news warranted beginning impeachment hearings.

And as reporter Emily Jane Fox reporter Wednesday, this was exactly how Cohen wanted it. She said on MSNBC's “Deadline: White House” that she had spoken to Cohen about why he did what he did.

“He went in there with a set of notes that were written down,” Fox told host Nicolle Wallace. “He said in court that they were to keep his mind focused. But there was another intention there, and that was to throw a man — who had thrown him under the bus — under a bus of his own.”

In other words, Cohen was looking for vengeance against Trump.

“What Lanny Davis, his attorney, has said in multiple television appearances since has been: 'Let's focus on counts seven and eight. Forget one through six, which are counts of tax evasion and lying to a bank. But let's focus on counts seven and eight because they throw the president under a bus,'” Fox continued.

She added: “So that is the message that Michael Cohen wanted to get across. That is the message his attorney has been pressing ever since. It's very clear that's the message he's going to push going forward.”

Watch the clip below:

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Is Melania Trump the Least Visible First Lady in Generations?

August 22, 2018 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson, AlterNet

For this first lady, the spotlight has been the exception rather than the rule.


From Eleanor Roosevelt to Michelle Obama to Nancy Davis Reagan—from Betty Ford to Hillary Clinton—first ladies of the past were in the news consistently. Reagan was famous for her anti-drug campaign, while Clinton addressed health care reform as first lady and went on to serve two terms in the U.S. Senate. And Roosevelt had much to say about her husband’s New Deal reforms. But compared to other first ladies, Melania Trump has kept a relatively low profile. And she might be the least visible first lady the U.S. has had in generations.

The first lady did find herself in the news in May when she announced a campaign against cyber-bullying as part of her Be Best program. Melania Trump has been calling for polite and respectful behavior online, which Republican strategist and CNN pundit Ana Navarro found to be ironic in light of the president’s online behavior.

Far-right commentator Tomi Lahren, who never misses a chance to paint Trumpistas as victims of persecution, was quick to defend Melania Trump after Navarro posted a negative tweet about her. On Twitter, Navarro commented that Melania Trump was hardly in a position to criticize cyber-bullying given that her husband was a major cyber-bully—and when Lahren appeared on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends” on August 22, she declared, “I have never seen a first lady be attacked like this, like Melania Trump has, for the good works and the good deeds that she has done.” 

Lahren added, “Can you imagine if we would sit here and attack Michelle Obama for something she was trying to do to better the country? We’d be attacked up and down. But because it’s Melania, because her last name is Trump, people like Ana Navarro think it’s OK—that they’re entitled to do that.”

Of course, some Twitter users found Lahren’s comments on “Fox and Friends” ridiculous in light of how frequently Michelle Obama was demonized at Fox News during Barack Obama’s presidency. MSNBC has had plenty of negative coverage …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Why the Taliban Should Accept Afghanistan's Ceasefire Offer

August 22, 2018 in Economics

By Sahar Khan

Sahar Khan

After a particularly violent summer, Afghanistan’s president,
Ashraf Ghani, proposed a three-month ceasefire with the
Taliban this past Sunday, to begin on Monday. It follows a first ceasefire implemented during Eid al-Fitr, in
June, which saw both Afghan security forces and Taliban insurgents
refrain from attacks.

A second ceasefire right
now is in every major stakeholder’s interest – even the
Taliban’s.

The big picture: The Taliban have not officially accepted or rejected Ghani’s offer.
But if the Taliban want its demands — which include a U.S. troop
withdrawal from Afghanistan and direct talks with the U.S. —
met, the group needs to increase its legitimacy. Accepting Ghani’s
ceasefire is a low-cost opportunity to do so.

The Taliban are militarily strong and have continued to
challenge the Afghan government in recent months, as evidenced by
the attacks in Farah, Ghazni, and Kunduz. But as the war in Afghanistan enters
its 18th year, a consensus has emerged among all stakeholders
— the U.S., the Afghan government, Afghanistan’s neighboring
countries and the Taliban themselves — that the ongoing war
in Afghanistan can’t end without a political solution. For example,
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia
Alice Wells met with Taliban officials in Qatar last month
to restart peace talks, and continues to urge Pakistan to persuade the Taliban to
negotiate
.

The Taliban of course can simply reject the ceasefire and
continue attacks on Afghan security forces. But in accepting
Ghani’s offer, the group would show a serious interest in a
political solution. It would also distinguish itself from other
violent militant groups operating in Afghanistan, such as ISIS,
which launched rockets on Kabul residents celebrating
Eid on Tuesday.

The bottom line: A second ceasefire right now
is in every major stakeholder’s interest — even the
Taliban’s.And while it would in all likelihood be insufficient to
create legitimate and lasting avenues for political reconciliation,
it is an essential step toward peace in Afghanistan.

Sahar Khan is a
visiting research fellow in the Cato Institute’s Defense and
Foreign Policy Department. …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Another Eid, Another Ceasefire Attempt in Afghanistan

August 22, 2018 in Economics

By Sahar Khan

Sahar Khan

President Ashraf Ghani
announced a ceasefire
this past Sunday, stating it would begin
on Monday, August 20,
if the Taliban agreed
. Ghani urged the Taliban to accept the

three-month-long ceasefire
— the longest ceasefire offer
ever made by the Afghan government to the Taliban — stating
that the ceasefire was for the Afghani people and their desire for
long-lasting peace.

Will the Taliban accept this new ceasefire?

The latest attempt at a
ceasefire is a positive development for Afghanistan.

While the Taliban’s spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid maintains that
the group has not
officially accepted or rejected
the Afghan government’s offer,
Monday’s violence in Kunduz seems to indicate otherwise. The
Taliban
confirmed the capture
of three passenger buses with at least
200 people in Kunduz, including women and children, traveling for
the Eid ul Adha holiday — a three-day celebration that begins
on Tuesday, August 21. Afghan security forces managed to
rescue 150 passengers
, while 21 remain in Taliban custody. This
incident, combined with the violence throughout this summer,
indicates that the Taliban remain wedded to their insurgent
ways.

Yet, the Taliban of today are not
the same organization of the 1990s
. In fact, the Taliban

has redefined its mission
from fighting a foreign occupation
(basically targeting U.S. and NATO forces) to resisting a
government that it views as a Western implant (namely, the current
Ghani government and the Afghan security forces).

To show the Afghan and U.S. government, along with the Afghan
people, that it has evolved, the Taliban desperately need to
improve their legitimacy — and have been trying to do so for
the past few years by
engaging in bilateral and multilateral talks
with regional
players. Taliban officials
have also agreed to participate
in peace talks in Moscow next
month. Accepting Ghani’s offer, therefore, is a low-cost way
for the Taliban to increase their legitimacy. There are also three
key reasons for why they should.

The first, and most obvious, reason is that the Taliban have
never been stronger. According to the Special Inspector General for
Afghanistan Reconstruction’s
January 2018 report
, approximately 54 percent of
Afghanistan’s territory is under the government’s
control while 30 percent remains contested — and potentially
vulnerable to Taliban control. The Taliban
remain openly active
in at least 66 percent of
Afghanistan’s territory. In May, the
Taliban claimed to take control over the capital of Farah
, the
largest western province of Afghanistan. Even though the Taliban
were unable to maintain control for long, <a target=_blank …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Living Freer Than Ever in Oklahoma

August 22, 2018 in Economics

By William Ruger, Jason Sorens

William Ruger and Jason Sorens

Recent reports show an upswing in economic growth for Oklahoma.
The state is moving in the right direction — but don’t let it
stop there.

Recently, we awarded Oklahoma with the title of most-improved
state in our book “Freedom in the 50 States,” a biennial ranking of
economic and personal freedom across the country. Since 2000,
Oklahoma has improved on each dimension of freedom we measure in
that study — fiscal, regulatory and personal — and has
moved from one of the bottom 10 states to one of the top 20 freest
states in the country.

The state is moving in
the right direction — but don’t let it stop there.

The state tax burden has fallen by about 25 percent since 2000,
while local taxes have held steady as a share of income. The state
also has done a good job of keeping its debt burden low. Oklahoma
passed a right-to-work law in 2001, letting workers opt out of
paying union dues. The state has made it easier to sell auto and
homeowners’ insurance, promoting consumer choice and competition.
Tort reform has cut businesses’ liability insurance costs. Legal
casinos opened in 2005. Oklahoma now gives more families
opportunities to seek out educational choices through a tax-credit
scholarship law and a voucher program for special-needs students.
In 2010, the state repealed driver’s license suspensions for
nondriving-related drug offenses. Oklahomans also got an assist
from the U.S. Supreme Court in striking down the same-sex marriage
ban.

What does all this new freedom mean in practice? Oklahoma’s 3.6
percent annualized economic growth rate over the period of 2001 to
2015 surpassed that of all neighboring states except Texas.

Despite these improvements, Oklahoma still imprisons a much
larger share of its population than most other states. This
suggests there are too many laws with criminal penalties attached,
including for consensual or victimless activities, as well as
excessive sentencing. Oklahomans took matters into their own hands
and passed a ballot initiative that reduced felony drug possession
to a misdemeanor.

Another significant problem for individual liberty is that civil
asset forfeiture, which offends most Americans, is rampant in
Oklahoma. If the police take your property, you have to go to court
to prove you are innocent in order to get it back, and the police
only have to show by a preponderance of the evidence that the
property is subject to forfeiture. The same goes for eminent domain
for private benefit: The state has done little to curb the ability
of government to take private property and give it to developers.
The Legislature has failed to limit the taking of property …read more

Source: OP-EDS