Why Trump’s Approval Ratings Are Up Among Minorities

A mounting number of voter polls show that, despite shrill denunciations of the President by the Democrats for his alleged racism, Trump is enjoying a dramatic increase in his approval ratings among minorities. This isn’t, as some liberal news outlets and pundits have suggested, wishful thinking based on outlier polls. The trend began showing up in surveys early this year and appears to be gaining momentum. Some polls now show his approval numbers at 25 percent among African-American voters and 50 percent among Hispanic voters. If those figures hold for the next 15 months, they will render Trump unbeatable in November of 2020.

If this claim seems over the top, it should be remembered that Trump beat Hillary Clinton in 2016 despite garnering only about 8 percent of the black vote and 29 percent of the Hispanic vote. Put another way, Clinton lost the election despite winning nearly 90 percent of the African-American vote and two-thirds of the Hispanic vote. In other words, they simply can’t beat the President if he holds them to significantly lower percentages of these key voting blocs. The Democrats and their media enablers understand this, of course, which is why they have worked so diligently to discredit polls that confirm the president’s gains among minority voters.

This began in earnest when, in January of this year, Marist found that Trump’s approval rating among Hispanics had reached 50 percent. Then, in February, a Morning Consult poll showed Hispanic approval of the President at 45 percent. This was followed by a March poll from McLaughlin & Associates that found Hispanic approval for the President at 50 percent. All three polls were discounted as outliers by the media or simply ignored. This continued in June, after Harvard Harris showed similar findings. Much the same strategy was still being pursued last week after Zogby Analytics discovered even worse news for the Democrats:

Race also played a factor in Trump’s job approval rating. Hispanics, this time around, were much more likely to approve of his job performance [49%], while the president also saw his numbers jump with African Americans. This was his second straight poll with over a quarter support from African Americans [28%]. If Trump wins half of Hispanics and a quarter of African Americans in 2020, Democrats will be in trouble!

This is the understatement of the decade if Zogby’s numbers about African-American voters are accurate, particularly combined with gains the President has seen among Independents, older Generation X voters, and maturing Millennial voters. Is it really possible that Trump, who has so often been accused of racism by the Democrats and the media, is gaining traction with black voters? Zogby Analytics is by no means the only polling firm to find a shift toward Trump among the Democratic Party’s most loyal supporters. Rasmussen Reports, for example, found in an August survey that Trump’s approval among African-Americans exceeded 30 percent:

Like most Republicans, Trump has struggled to attract black voters, but this week’s surveying for the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll has found a bump in black support for the president. It’s way too soon to say whether this is a temporary blip on the radar or whether Trump is on to something.

All of which begs the following question: Why would Hispanic and African-American voters support the President if he is a rabid racist, red in tooth and claw? It may be that they have heard such accusations leveled at so many Republicans, without any evidence, that many are no longer listening. When Trump publicly asked why Rep. Elijah Cummings has failed to clean up his rat-infested Baltimore district, for example, the Democrats and the media denounced Trump as a racist. As Rasmussen points out, however, “Media interviews in Baltimore and elsewhere found black residents asking the same questions the president is asking.”

Likewise, it’s a major mistake for the Democrats to assume that a majority of Hispanic voters approve of illegal immigration. Like all legitimate members of the electorate, they are by definition American citizens — having been born here or become naturalized citizens according to the nation’s laws. They work, pay taxes, and are not over fond of funding free health care for people who simply sneak across the border or refuse to leave when their temporary visas expire. It’s no coincidence that a majority of Hispanic voters favor adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census. As Andrew Sullivan, a legal immigrant and no Trump booster, writes:

It is not strange that legal immigrants — who have often spent years and thousands of dollars to play by the rules—might be opposed to others’ jumping the line. It is not strange that a hefty proportion of Latino legal immigrants oppose illegal immigration — they are often the most directly affected by new, illegal competition, which drives down their wages.

The main reason for the surge in Trump’s Hispanic support, however, is the economy. As Steve Cortes, a member of the President’s Hispanic Advisory Council, points out:

Hispanics neither desire nor expect a laundry list of deliverables from government, but rather seek the conditions to advance and prosper independently.  As the most statistically entrepreneurial demographic in America, Hispanics have thrived amid the Trump boom as regulatory and tax relief unleashes a small business surge. Every American benefits from this new dynamism, but Hispanics most of all.

Hispanic voters, mind you, will be the largest ethnic minority in the electorate by 2020. They, combined with African Americans, may very well decide who will live in the White House after the next election. Moreover, the days when Democrats could win all of their votes by screeching “racism,” encouraging illegal immigration, and offering massive giveaway programs are probably over. President Trump appears to be building real support among minorities by providing genuine opportunity in a thriving economy. If he receives their support in anywhere near the percentages suggested above, he will win in 2020 no matter who runs against him.

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Author: David Catron

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A Sad Tale of a Wealthy Millennial’s Moral Confusion

A few years back, my wife heard a young woman share that she had felt guilty for being able to go out to dinner with friends in Chicago because she knew her mother in South Africa was struggling to scrape together her own supper.

When she had told her mother this during a phone call, her mother had rebuked her: “How dare you spit in God’s face!”

Instead, her mother said she should thank God for His blessings, including immigrating to America; trust Him to take care of her mother; and pray and work for the time when South Africans, and others around the world, would enjoy similar blessings.

I remembered that story the moment I began reading about Adam Roberts, a millennial who in his Vox article “Is wealth immoral?” expressed his sense of guilt and injustice at having inherited over a million dollars as a child of wealthy parents.

“As I got politicized around things like wealth inequality, climate change, war, and the forces connecting them, I didn’t connect it too much with my own family or history,” he wrote.

But then he came to understand things differently.

He confessed, as if they were sins, that his family had gained wealth through the oil industry, banking, and stock in companies that built things for the military. His parents had given him stock in ExxonMobil, BP, and Chevron — another reason for guilt.

As he became active as a “community organizer” in Boston, “no longer surrounded by wealthy peers,” it “felt absurd … to have access to so much when so many others didn’t.”

“As a result,” he wrote, “I got real weird about money. I’d barely spend any of it.” He’d walk instead of taking Uber. Spending $300 a month for prescription drugs for his mother-in-law was okay, but he was conflicted about putting down $30,000 on a house or spending $6.99 for a bag of popcorn at a theater. So he offset those two by contributing $30,000 to a land trust and declining to get a soda refill.

But such things, he believes, “are imperfect, individual actions.” The whole system that allows people to amass such wealth while others struggle is “immoral.” Everyone, he thinks, should have a modest first home, but nobody should have a “$20M mansion in Newport, RI,” a second home if anyone else is homeless, or a third home (or fourth or fifth). Nobody should buy a new $799 sofa when he could buy a used one, and nobody should have a yacht — at all.

“Is it moral to hold any excess [emphasis original] private wealth under capitalism?” he asks — and later reveals that it’s not.

“Does it matter how that wealth was accumulated?” He offers four examples: fossil fuels, medical doctor, useful invention, or stocks.

He draws toward his conclusion by writing, “In a system that produces a handful of people with billions of dollars while hundreds of millions of people still lack access to basic human needs like health care and affordable housing … the question isn’t what billionaires should do with ‘their’ money. It’s how to enact policies that prevent any one person from concentrating that much wealth and power in the first place.”

He recommends “taxing wealthy families like mine a whole lot more” because it’s “totally happened in the past,” it’s “part of the Green New Deal,” and it’s “widely supported.”

At the level of individual choices, he reports that he’s donated roughly a third of what he inherited to charitable causes and intends to donate another third. “For me, it feels like part of becoming more connected and alive on this planet,” he says.

How should we respond to such thinking? Certainly not by condemning Roberts’s motives. It’s refreshing to see someone born rich who cares about those who weren’t. His charitable giving is to be commended, as is his self-restraint. And, frankly, as I read his article (accompanied by brilliant illustrations that drive home his points), my heart went out to him.

Nonetheless, there are serious problems with his thinking.

Is “wealth inequality” unjust by definition? Why, then, hasn’t he already divested himself of everything he owns except what would equal the average net worth of people around the world?

Is war always wrong? Or would he have preferred that the Third Reich, or Soviet Communism, achieved its aim of conquering the world?

And just what forces connect wealth inequality, climate change, and war — and what would he have done about those forces?

How can anyone buy a used sofa — or any sofa at all — if nobody buys a new one?

What constitutes a modest first home — something typical of Corinth, Mississippi, where median home value is $105,900? Or Boston, where Roberts lives and the median home value is five-and-a-half times as much, or Manhattan at 11 times as much, or San Francisco (tack on another hundred grand)?

Or — let’s get real now, and care about the whole world, not just wealthy America — is $1,000 per square foot, common in Boston, “modest,” or $99 (7,000 rupees) per square foot, common in Bengaluru (Bangalore), India’s “Silicon Valley”? Or next to nothing for the cardboard shacks in which millions of the poor of Africa, Asia, and Latin America live?

And what’s the dividing line between a moral system and an “immoral” one that allows people to amass such wealth while others struggle? Is personal net worth of $10,000 okay, but not $11,000? Or $250,000, but not $300,000? What objective standard justifies where Roberts draws the line?

And what is “excess” wealth? Consider millionaires and billionaires — the sort of people Roberts thinks “the system” should disallow? What do millionaires and billionaires do with their “excess” wealth?

Well, they might buy stocks or bonds that provide the capital to pay workers and equip them with expensive tools that enable them to produce the food, clothing, shelter, transportation, medical care, and other benefits other people need.

They might buy a second or third house (or a yacht, or a private jet), the construction of which employs workers whose wages provide food, clothing, shelter, transportation, medical care, and other benefits to themselves and their families.

Maybe they’ll just stick it in a bank account — from which the bank will make loans to companies that employ people to make things that benefit others.

About the only thing they can do with it that will be of use to nobody is hide it under the mattress. (Let me know if you run into a millionaire who does that. I’m curious to meet such an eccentric.)

It’s pretty clear that Roberts thinks there’s something particularly immoral about accumulating wealth from fossil fuels. Yet using those fossil fuels has lifted billions of people out of the poverty that breaks Roberts’s heart by providing not only energy but also plastics that prevent foods from spoiling; fertilizers that allow farmers to grow more food on less land to feed the growing human population while leaving land available for wildlife; pharmaceuticals that heal diseases; and literally thousands of other products derived from them.

And when he bemoans fossil fuels’ contribution (however great or small) to climate change, does he weigh that against all those other benefits from them — plus the roughly $3.2 trillion in extra crop yields the CO2 emitted from them added to global crop yields (making food more available for the poor) from 1960 to 2012, with another $9.8 trillion expected by 2050?

Medical doctors, whose method of accumulating wealth it seems Roberts favors over fossil fuels, would be severely handicapped without fossil fuel-derived medications (maybe including some his mother-in-law takes), not to mention the electricity that lights their operating rooms and powers their refrigerators to preserve their medications, their MRIs, and every other high-tech invention that enables them to restore people’s health and prolong their lives.

How many of the things that raised human life expectancy at birth from about 27 or 28 years before the Industrial Revolution to about 70 today worldwide (and 80 in developed countries) would have been developed if no inventors, innovators, or entrepreneurs could have received any more rewards for their efforts than those who dug ditches (an honorable task but not highly rewarded) or just sat on their haunches?

When a rich ruler asks what he must do to inherit eternal life, Jesus tells him to obey God’s commandments — something the man says he has done from his youth up.

“One thing you still lack,” Jesus says. “Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

The man leaves sad, prompting Jesus’ remark, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God”— i.e., impossible. But, He explains, “What is impossible with men is possible with God” (Luke 18:18–27).

So does that justify Roberts’s feeling guilty about his inherited wealth and demanding that “the system” be changed to prevent anyone’s amassing “excess wealth” while others struggle?

No, for in the very next chapter, when Jesus encounters a rich tax collector who says that he will give half his goods to the poor and restore fourfold anyone he has defrauded, Jesus responds, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham” (Luke 19:1–10).

So which is it? Must one give everything away, or half? Or is there a different point entirely — that wealth takes the place of God for some people, and must be given away entirely, but not for others?

After that encounter, Jesus tells a parable about a nobleman (who represents God) who entrusts money to each of 10 servants and instructs them to engage in business until he returns. On his return, the servants report their performance. The first has multiplied the investment 10 times, the second five times. He rewards them proportionately.

The third servant says, “Lord, here is your mina [about $470 today], which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.”

The nobleman, ignoring the obvious lie that he was reaping where had not sown, responds, “I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?” Then he instructs others to take the money from him and give it to the first servant.

“Lord,” they protest, “he has 10 minas!”

And the master responds, “I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away” (Luke 19:11–27).

The Bible has much to say about the need to protect the poor from oppression and to give charitably to help those who cannot help themselves. But nowhere does it condemn wealth. Indeed, some of the most important of God’s people were wealthy: Job, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, David, Solomon, Joseph of Arimathea, and wealthy women who provided for Jesus and His disciples.

The Bible condemns greed, selfishness, and injustice, but it never equates injustice with inequality.

Adam Roberts’ confusion is sad, for it means he encourages not only envy and resentment toward many whom God has blessed but also false guilt on the part of many, including himself, who are blessed.

By all means, whether you consider yourself rich or middle-class or poor, give to the poor, and work to protect the poor from injustice. But don’t condemn all inequality as injustice, and don’t “spit in God’s face” by feeling guilty for gifts He has given you.

E. Calvin Beisner, Ph.D., Founder and National Spokesman of The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation and a former professor of historical theology and social ethics at Knox Theological Seminary, is the author of Social Justice vs. Biblical Justice: How Good Intentions Undermine Justice and Gospel.

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Author: E. Calvin Beisner

Sovereignty Is for Suckers

Washington

It didn’t take long for Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., to throw her grandmother under the bus.

On Thursday, Israel had announced it would bar an official visit by Tlaib and Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, because they support the BDS — the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement — meant to choke Israel economically. The announcement was in keeping with a 2017 Israeli law that bans the entry of foreigners who support boycotts of the Jewish state.

Thursday, Tlaib asked Israel for admission on humanitarian grounds so that she could visit her grandmother who lives in the West Bank. She offered to not promote boycotts against Israel during the visit.

On Friday, Israel said yes. And within hours, Tlaib announced she would not be visiting her grandmother under Israel’s “racist” terms. Instead, she chose the victim card.

It didn’t have to be this way. Tlaib and Omar had decided to skip a bipartisan co-delegation to Israel sponsored by the education arm of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee — which was their right.

Instead, they put together their own itinerary to visit Palestine — not Israel — no doubt aware of the potential legal fallout given their sponsorship of a pro-BDS resolution.

The 2017 law notwithstanding, it looked as if the two Democrats would get their tour. In July, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, told the Times of Israel that Tlaib and Omar would be allowed into the country. “Out of respect for the U.S. Congress and the great alliance between Israel and America, we would not deny entry to any member of Congress into Israel,” he said.

On Wednesday, Israel signaled to Democrats in Washington that they might bar Tlaib and Omar. Enter President Donald Trump, who seems incapable of letting anything happen anywhere without it being about him — even at the expense of Israel’s image.

On Thursday, Trump tweeted: “It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep.Tlaib to visit. They hate Israel & all Jewish people, & there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds. Minnesota and Michigan will have a hard time putting them back in office. They are a disgrace!”

Only then did Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu officially slam the door on Tlaib and Omar. Their itinerary, Bibi explained, “clarified that they planned a visit whose sole purpose was to support boycotts and deny Israel’s legitimacy. For example, they called their destination ‘Palestine’ and not ‘Israel.’”

Former Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., told CNN that he feared “this decision probably helps the boycott of Israel movement more than the two congresswomen ever could.”

Halie Soifer, executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that her group opposes BDS even as she recognized Israel’s right to decide which foreign nationals can enter the country.

But, Soifer argued, “It is absolutely unprecedented for a U.S. president to publicly pressure” Israel to bar elected American officials.

Soifer was especially critical of Netanyahu for feeding “Trump’s ongoing efforts to politicize this relationship.” To her thinking, the Israeli prime minister “was playing to an audience of one, our tweeter in chief.”

Remember all those times Trump has saluted the notion of every nation’s sovereignty? Forget about it. Whether Trump was the impetus for Jerusalem’s about-face, it’s clear that Trump’s desire to peel Jewish votes from the Democratic Party in 2020 loomed large in his decision to tweet what should have been private advice to an ally.

It doesn’t look good to the folks at AIPAC, who objected to the move.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., tweeted, “Being blocked is what they really hoped for all along in order to bolster their attacks against the Jewish state.”

As far as Jewish Coalition Executive Director Matt Brooks is concerned, however, BDS is “a cover for anti-Semitism.”

“Being a member of Congress or an elected official is not a golden ticket for you to travel in bad faith to a host country for the sole purpose of using the country as a backdrop/platform to advance radical policy positions,” Brooks tweeted.

Is Brooks concerned that Trump is making the issue too partisan? “I’m a scrapper. I’m a fighter. I want a president who’s going to stand up and speak out against anti-Semitism” and oppose BDS, he said.

Me, I’m not so sure it’s good for Israel if Trump widens the wedge between Democrats and Republicans on the Jewish state. But he is not acting alone.

Omar has accused Israel of “evil doings” and charged that Washington support for the Jewish state was “all about the Benjamins.” Tlaib’s decision not to see her grandmother shows she was out to make Israel look bad.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi argued that Israel’s decision was “beneath the dignity of the great state of Israel” and chided Trump for remarks about Tlaib and Omar, who aren’t exactly dignity personified.

Just last month, flanked with other first-term progressives of a foursome known as “the squad,” Tlaib told CBS that the Squad was willing to talk to Pelosi, who should “acknowledge the fact that we are women of color, so when you do single us out, be aware of that and what you’re doing.”

They played the race card against Pelosi. Let them move that act to the Middle East.

Contact Debra J. Saunders at dsaunders@reviewjournal.com or 202-662-7391. Follow @DebraJSaunders on Twitter.

COPYRIGHT 2019 CREATORS.COM

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Author: Debra J. Saunders

The Battle for Faith and Reason and Western Civ

We’ve witnessed for decades a long march by the secular Left to tear down Western civilization. The credo was best captured by Jesse Jackson’s infamous exhortation, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Western civ has got to go!” And yet, Jackson’s own contributions to that take-down pale in comparison to the efforts of the fundamental transformers dominating the Left today, especially on our college campuses. At least the “Rev.” Jackson was sympathetic to religion.

Where the Left now stands on religion isn’t pretty. Secular leftists fancy themselves the people of “reason,” as opposed to the people of “faith” — the slack-jawed element of society. Your typical New York Times editorialist strangely sees a society of two camps: people of reason versus people of faith. There’s an assumption of separation — that you can’t have an individual who possesses both faith and reason. It’s one or the other.

This, of course, is nonsense. It’s mind-numbingly shallow. It’s arrogant and ignorant. It’s a display of profound ignorance by people who, ironically, take immense pride in their self-perceived intellectual prowess and erudition. Of course, it isn’t totally their fault, I suppose. This is what they’ve been mis-taught in our awful universities.

Truth to be told, faith and reason — fides et ratio — have long been complementary. They are allies, friends. Or, as Pope John Paul II described them in his encyclical by the same name, faith and reason are “two wings” working in tandem to elevate the human spirit to ultimate truth. The battle to recover this forgotten understanding, to properly discern and integrate faith and reason, is at the very struggle for Western civilization.

My students will tell you that this has been a concern of mine for a long time. It has also been a concern of Samuel Gregg, a brilliant scholar at the Acton Institute, who says at the opening of his excellent new book, Reason, Faith, and the Struggle for Western Civilization, that this same theme has occupied his mind for a long time. Here in this timely and important book, he explains why.

“The genius of Western civilization is its unique synthesis of reason and faith,” says Gregg in the opening words on the book jacket. He makes a fascinating observation, pivoting not only to what happens when you exclude faith from one side of the synthesis but what happens when you exclude reason from half of it: “Today that synthesis is under attack — from the East by radical Islamism (faith without reason) and from within the West itself by aggressive secularism (reason without faith).”

It’s a provocative but crucial insight: faith without reason begets radical Islamism; reason without faith begets aggressive secularism. The key for the West — once the Judeo-Christian West — is to recover both faith and reason, properly balanced and integrated.

Gregg begins with what he calls “The Speech That Shook the World.” Ask any 10 Westerners what that speech might be, even with the clue that it occurred in the 21st century, and none would likely name what Gregg names. Still, he’s spot on. The speech is best known as the “Regensburg Address,” delivered by Pope Benedict XVI in the city of one of the most celebrated minds in the history of the West, Albertus Magnus, or St. Albert the Great, teacher of the man that many consider the greatest mind in history: St. Thomas Aquinas. The actual title of Benedict’s speech was “Faith, Reason, and the University: Memories and Reflections.” The date was September 12, 2006, the day after the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in the United States.

Benedict’s address was ferociously attacked by Muslim political and religious leaders. There were mass rallies and riots in Muslim countries and attacks on Christian churches. An Italian nun (and her Muslim driver) was gunned down in protest by two jihadists outside a children’s hospital in Somalia. Ironically, the Muslim violence came in response to what Muslims hated about Benedict’s speech — namely, a 14th-century quotation from a Byzantine emperor about Mohammed and Islam spreading violence.

“The frenzied nature of some Muslims’ reaction to this quotation,” Gregg writes, “convinced many Westerners that this Byzantine emperor was on to something. After all, people who take reason seriously don’t respond to criticism with insults, threats, and violence.”

Precisely. But Benedict’s speech was about much more than Islam. The most instructive passages were less about Islam and faith and reason than about secular liberalism and faith and reason. Or, better put, what Benedict had earlier called — just prior to being elected pope — the forces of the “dictatorship of relativism.”

“The significance of Benedict’s remarks thus extended far beyond Islam,” Gregg writes. “His lecture was about us, we who have inherited the civilization called the West.”

As Gregg notes, that’s the West of Dante’s Divine Comedy, the Rule of St. Benedict, Michelangelo’s David, Mozart’s Coronation Mass, Caravaggio’s Calling of St. Matthew, Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos, Jefferson’s Monticello, the U.S. Constitution, of Shakespeare, Ambrose, Hildegard of Bingen, Thomas More, John Locke, John Calvin, Pascal, Witherspoon, Wilberforce, Tocqueville, Galileo, Jane Austen, Flannery O’Connor, George Washington, Edith Stein, and C. S. Lewis.

That’s the West of both faith and reason. Gregg calls out not only the beauty brought by those who joined faith and reason but also the pathologies brought by those who separated faith and reason. He looks at everything from Marx and the communist movement to the eugenics fanatics and “race science” movement.

The West today must not dismiss and reject what both reason and revelation have shown us to be true. That’s something that the Christian faith from the beginning has taught. As St. Paul stated emphatically (Romans 1:15-20), the Creator designed the world in such a way that the non-believer has no excuse for non-belief. God’s hand is abundantly evident in the things and the very order that has been made.

Echoing St. Paul in Romans, the First Vatican Council in its 1870 decree, Dei Filius, affirmed, “God, the source and end of all things, can be known with certainty from the consideration of created things, by the natural power of human reason: ever since the creation of the world, his invisible nature has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made.” Thus, “there can never be any real disagreement between faith and reason, since it is the same God who reveals the mysteries and infuses faith, and who has endowed the human mind with the light of reason.”

As Gregg explains it, Vatican I was making an important point lost to modern secularists: reason goes beyond the empirical because reason itself is derived from a divine origin.

The great scientific pioneers of the West grasped this.

“This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being,” stated Sir Isaac Newton, a scientist unmatched in his contributions. “This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all; and on account of his dominion he is wont to be called Lord God Pantokrator, or Universal Ruler.”

The natural world tells us about the divine, if we allow it, if we permit reason its proper role. Each can inform and reinforce the other. The West was built by men and women equipped with that understanding.

Still more, the God who gave us the natural law and natural order also gave us the moral law and moral order. “Nature was a synonym for the Divinity,” Gregg writes, “that which created all things and was the source of all moral principles.”

For multiple centuries, the elite men and women saw no conflict between religious faith and scientific reason. Only more recent decades have witnessed this bizarre insistence that the two don’t co-exist.

As Gregg regrets, “Unfortunately for the West, the separation of the world of reason from the world of faith would have grave consequences, many of which weigh heavily on us today.”

To return to Regensburg, this is something that Pope Benedict XVI warned about, even as his words were reacted to most vociferously by the Islamic world.

Gregg wraps up by taking the reader back to Regensburg, where the pope asked his audience which virtue should be most cultivated by those in political life. The answer wasn’t tolerance or respect for “diversity,” but, rather, wisdom. Turning to the Hebrew scriptures, specifically the first book of Kings, Benedict noted that Solomon asked God for the wisdom to “discern between good and evil.” Quoting Proverbs 2:6, Gregg calls wisdom a divine gift: “The Lord gives wisdom.”

We are given God’s law and the natural law, and true law should be based on universal moral truths knowable through reason by believers and non-believers alike. But regrettably, reason’s ability to discern truth is now in question, as the West stubbornly and blindly distances itself from its faith foundations.

Today, says Benedict, the West is trapped in a “concrete bunker with no windows, in which we ourselves provide lighting and atmospheric conditions.” We base our universe on ourselves, with each individual attempting to impose his or her own ideal living environment.

This is why our Western world, and America, is in trouble. And there’s no way out of the darkness of the concrete bunker until we allow the light of faith to once again illuminate our reason. Kudos to Samuel Gregg for casting light on that reality and reminding us what we once knew and must know again.

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Author: Paul Kengor

Now Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Quentin Tarantino made a movie so brilliant in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood that critics and audiences love it despite missing the point. Like so many good films, it operates, and works, on many levels. When one uncovers all those layers, the movie screaming “1969” on the surface screams, in a muffled and barely audible way, “2019” — or at least “2017” or “2018” — underneath the bottom one.

Ostensibly, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood shows that Hollywood reaped what it sowed in the Manson murders by peddling violence to TV babies who in real life grew up to inflict that violence on actress Sharon Tate, her unborn child, and her beautiful-people friends. How many killings on Gunsmoke, The Rifleman, Mannix, and Hawaii Five-O did the Spahn Ranch dropouts, depicted cinematically as glued to a screen at the former television set for Westerns and star-struck when initially encountering Leonardo DiCaprio’s Rick Dalton (a familiar TV action antihero), did they need to see in their living rooms before they decided to act them out in others’ living rooms?

Many who hold prolonged daily vigils at the Church of the Idiot Box one day make a break from the pews to the pulpit.

That interpretation of the film works. So does seeing Margot Robbie’s sweet, simpleton Sharon Tate as an earlier, on-the-ascent version of DiCaprio’s down-on-his-luck Dalton — and Bruce Dern’s George Spahn and his decrepit ranch as the third, sad act of this cinematic retelling of The Kinks’s “Celluloid Heroes.” Still others find fulfillment in an alternative explanation for what catalyzed the Manson Family, led by a disgruntled entertainment industry wannabe, far more sensible than the cockamamie “Helter Skelter” theory pushed by prosecuting attorney Vincent Bugliosi (alas, making sense of senseless acts occasionally strikes as a senseless act, too). And appreciating the film merely for, say, the Googie architecture of the time and place, Sharon Tate’s love of the poppy Paul Revere & the Raiders helping to develop her character, or DiCaprio expertly playing a mediocre actor that serves to amplify Dalton’s one stunning moment of greatness — independent of any overall message — makes it a masterpiece for others.

But hidden behind the backdrop of 1969 Los Angeles for any who look closely lies a story about the same place in a different time.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’s violence acts as a symbolic stand-in for #MeToo in the way Elia Kazan’s On the Waterfront’s naming-names served as a proxy for communism in Hollywood. Rather than wonder why Tarantino portrayed Bruce Lee as a blowhard, the more pertinent, if less often asked, question involves what it means for DiCaprio’s Dalton to exhibit such loyalty to Cliff Booth, played with low-key charisma by Brad Pitt, despite a scandal involving violence derailing his career, tarnishing his name, and making him an on-set pariah. Not a buddy flick with Leonardo DiCaprio starring as Rick Dalton playing Quentin Tarantino alongside Brad Pitt starring as Cliff Booth playing Harvey Weinstein, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood nevertheless contains too many parallels to #MeToo to ignore. Tarantino, in his first film without the involvement of Weinstein, cannot make a movie explicitly addressing #MeToo — the causes, its hysteria, and the comeuppance of Tinseltown lechers. So, instead of telling a direct story about the blowback from drenching the industry in sex, he tells one about a town built on violence if not falling because of it, at least experiencing the demise, and terrorization, of many of its most significant players as a result.

The Tate murders sent Doris Day’s son Terry Melcher into hiding, jolted Steve McQueen, who lost his close friend Jay Sebring in the orgy of violence, into carrying a gun, and prompted Peter Sellers, Yul Brynner, Warren Beatty, and others to put up a reward for the capture of the killers. It shook Hollywood like nothing since the public uproar in the late 1940s over communist infiltration of the film industry. And it shook Hollywood like nothing until a number of women, brave, disgruntled, and otherwise, exposed the abuse and crudeness that happened outside of the camera’s view (that ironically mirrored, occasionally, what the camera captured).

Tarantino, in large part because of his association with Weinstein and in smaller part because of allegations against him of bad behavior by Uma Thurman and Rose McGowan, surely found his world shaken. “Why is someone financing this?” Judd Apatow asked of Tarantino’s film before a single scene had been shot. “This is why Weinstein wasn’t stopped.”

Audiences give thanks that the Thermidor that followed the initial tumult allowed Tarantino to make the film set in 1969 that movie lovers in 2069 will remember first when remembering him. Like so much great art, it starts rather than ends a conversation. It works as “arts for art’s sake” and “art as a weapon” (the great debate in Elia Kazan’s Hollywood), even if the weapon makes its point more subtly than a flamethrower.

If Quentin Tarantino possesses artistic license to present a counterfactual 1960s, then his audience surely maintains artistic liberty to see a 2019 film missed by others who also screened Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

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Author: Daniel J. Flynn

Israel Denies Entry to Omar and Tlaib 

Israel’s deputy foreign minister announced Thursday that Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) are to be denied entry to Israel following President Trump’s pressuring of the Israeli government on the matter.

Tzipi Hotovely, who has served as deputy foreign minister since 2015 as a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party, made the surprise announcement on Reshet Bet, a channel of Israel’s public Kol Yisrael radio service. “We won’t allow those who deny our right to exist in this world to enter Israel,” Hotovely said, referring to various anti-Israel policies and rhetoric perpetuated by the two representatives. 

Both Omar and Tlaib are supporters of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to punish Israel financially for what it sees as mistreatment of Palestinians. Both have been reliable votes against anti-BDS bills in Congress alongside Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), a fellow member of “the Squad.” 

Omar in particular has come under intense scrutiny regarding her rhetoric on Israel ever since she was elected to Congress. Her “It’s all about the Benjamins” remarks on Twitter from February 2019, together with an unearthed post from 2012 in which she said that Israel had “hypnotized the world,” caused a prolonged controversy that resulted in her issuing an apology-by-tweet. Tlaib backed up her colleague the entire time, calling her “an incredible courageous woman.

President Trump has repeatedly suggested over the past week that Israel ought to bar Omar and Tlaib from entry. Axios reported on August 10 that Trump had been telling his advisers that Israel’s 2017 anti-BDS law, which denies entry to foreign nationals who support boycotts of Israel, should be applied to the Democrats. Trump then took to Twitter Thursday morning, asserting that the country would “show great weakness” to permit entry to the two representatives, saying that they “hate Israel & all Jewish people.” It seems like the Israeli government was listening.

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Author: John Jiang

A Short Note About Epstein And Prison Guard Shortages

Please. Of all the arguments that don’t hold water, scant resources for prison guards to tend to pedophile Jeffrey Epstein is the worst.

First, there were prison guards. They were just asleep, if they are to be believed.

Second, when there’s lack of resources for staffing, one would think that surveillance, which requires less money and produces more supervision bang per buck would be working. Another coincidence: it wasn’t.

Third, the jail has had enough resources that for forty years there hasn’t been another prisoner death.

For the journalist Inspector Clouseau’s out there, it’s absurd to intimate that the real problem here was lack of funding that lead to Epstein’s death.

A friend called me the “least conspiratorial person I know.” I am not given to conspiracy theories and find most of them to be  psychological projection to avoid dealing with the truth.

In Epstein’s case, it is irrational to not consider that Epstein could have been murdered.  One must, unless he’s a doe-eyed naif, know that a man who could harm so many people worldwide would be a prime candidate for suicide, murder, murder disguised as suicide, etc. This is why the government’s failure is all the more egregious. They knew this. The prison warden knew this. The guards knew this. Everyone knew this.

Still, Occam’s razor and experience with the government points to incompetence and rank stupidity which is utterly believable.

Personally, I think Epstein offed himself. He’s a man who was used to being in control of everything and everyone. He thought the knowledge in his head would protect him. Arrogant and elite, he dodged consequences for sixty-six years.

This time around, though, it was different and he knew it. His life was going to be forever behind bars (no more little girls for him!) and on the way he’d have to sell out every one he knew. So he went the psychopath way: take control of the only thing he still had control over – how and when he died. He’s far from the only narcissistic, powerful person to do it.

Still, it’s worth making absolutely sure that no foul play was involved in his death. No matter what, the government failed in its duty to keep this guy alive. Was it incompetence or malice? My vote is incompetence because that’s par for the course with the United States government but it’s always wise to make sure.

What a clown show. What an absolutely ridiculous spectacle.

There’s a million reasons why Epstein’s case is a travesty. Federal funding for prisons is not one of them and is stupid to even bring it into the conversation.

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Author: Melissa Mackenzie

Stopping the Elizabeth Warren/Federal Reserve Power Grab

Just weeks after Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) introduced legislation to expand the Federal Reserve’s authority into real-time payments, the Fed on August 5 announced its intent to create a real-time payments system by 2024. This move will be as damaging to the economy as it will to U.S. innovation.

The Federal Reserve already has too many duties. It runs America’s monetary policy and controls the nation’s money supply to maximize economic growth and minimize unemployment. It also has broad regulatory responsibilities over banks and other financial institutions.

The Federal Reserve also participates in the U.S. payments system. Every night, checks written for the holders of all U.S. bank checking accounts come together in a clearinghouse. They are then matched against amounts held in their respective checking accounts, cross-canceled, and paid the next morning. For this reason, banks often ask for checks to be deposited overnight, so they have time to cash them.

This lengthy process is not how banking works in most of the rest of the world. Most developed nations operate on immediate, real-time payments systems, where funds are immediately paid and available. While it is undoubtedly time for the U.S. to get on the same page, the Federal Reserve is by no means the best candidate to create such a system.

The private sector in the U.S. is already building real-time payment systems. The Clearing House (TCH) already serves 50-percent of all checking accounts in the U.S. That number is expected to grow to 90 percent by the end of 2019, with universal service by 2020. Other peer-to-peer private sector competitors for real-time payment include PayPal, Mastercard Send, Visa Direct, and Zelle.

The Fed’s real-time service will not be compatible with those offered by private sector competitors. Its incompatibility will mean that customers will have to choose between the Fed and the private sector alternatives, or choose both and pay twice. In these circumstances, potential customers would likely choose the Fed, since it is the regulator of the entire market, and the American people would end up with a single government monopoly controlling the market.

As it is, the Fed entering the real-time market as a competitor, in addition to being the regulator of the industry, seems to violate the Monetary Control Act. This legislation states that the Fed should only enter a new market to provide services if “the service is one that other providers alone cannot be expected to provide with reasonable effectiveness, scope and equity.” That is ostensibly why Sen. Warren introduced the Payments Modernization Act on July 24: to “clarify” that the Fed has the authority to enter the real-time payments business. Based on the Fed’s August 5 press release, however, it now appears that the Fed is intent on moving forward regardless of whether or not her bill passes.

Experts project it will take three to five years for the Fed to complete its real-time payments system. On the U.S.’s current course, by then the technology the Fed creates may already be outdated. Surely, private sector innovation will also stall, as upstarts have no incentive to create while the nation’s regulator plows ahead with its personal system.

That is why the best role for the Fed in real-time services is to support private sector innovation and assure liquidity for those services. Instead, what the Fed is offering is mission creep. Like every bureaucracy, it is always trying to grab more power for itself. It is already far too powerful.

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Author: Peter Ferrara

Those Socialists Will Love You — Literally — to Death

So what if we did get Bernie Sanders, a proud democratic socialist, as president next year? Or say we got Elizabeth Warren — no socialist, perhaps, in the formal sense, but a lady given to the espousal of policies much like Bernie’s? What if we got a socialist government? Would it be a good thing or a bad thing?

I put it to you this way: It would be a very different thing, for one fundamental reason, a reason we should not glide past as we take in all the media’s political blah-blah. The difference between socialism and capitalism, in pure form or in practice, lies in the answers to the questions: Who decides? Who makes the rules? Who tells whom what to do and how to do it? Under socialism, the government decides, not you — save, possibly, in the small things. In the larger things, such as health care (“Medicare for All”), the government and its agents cut you out.

They have to, don’t you know? They’ve got big policies to implement, policies for the people as a whole. Your discrete ideas as to how things should be done don’t matter, save as information the government is free to take into account or discard altogether. If you want the government running your life, by all means, vote for Bernie. He’ll gladly assume the burden of figuring out what you need.

A lot of rumination presently goes on across the political spectrum concerning the policies that politicians should propose and implement. Conservatives are being asked whether they should narrow the workings of the marketplace, whose influence they see as contributing to the country’s social fragmentation. Maybe, some conservatives argue, we should invite government to draw its chair nearer the table and submit ourselves more frequently to its ministrations: family leave policies, higher minimum wages, early education, medical policy guarantees, internet oversight, on and on.

Conservatives used not to ask such questions. It was a settled proposition among our breed that minimal government interference with the economy maximized the economy’s efficiency — and, above all, protected personal liberty. Oddly, the free market gets a rap these days for affording personal choice too much scope, as contrasted with too little. The idea is that government somehow qualifies as a better decision-maker than those for whom it makes the decisions. This is dubious in the extreme.

The magic that confers special wisdom on government deciders has never been plain to me. The assertion itself — that government can figure out all these complicated things — seems to have no source outside the brain of the asserter. Who decides? I decide, replies the maker of the claim, in an exercise of breathtaking arrogance.

None of this gainsays the need for government itself — a historic contrivance for the performance of services (e.g., defense, the police function, the arbitration of individual disputes) improper or impossible in terms of individual action. No conservative wants to abolish government. The idea, rather, is to encourage government in the performance of its essential actions and duties and discourage measures for putting government in charge of life — as Bernie would do. Oh, for instance, you want to decide on the kind of health insurance your family requires? Fuhgeddaboudit!!

A point much overlooked in the debate over socialism is that the people potentially making the decisions for how we live are people like ourselves. They may have special training, but training can deny the trainee both the big picture and the small picture. Daily life requires billions of individual decisions each day — decisions to which the decision-makers apply personal knowledge and personal experience impossible for their masters in the bureaucracy to master, far less understand. Nor can we overlook the point that a wrong or stupid decision on the part of the nonsupervised can be dropped or reversed with far greater ease than a government decision. Observe, please, the continuing wrangles we’re in over how Obamacare is supposed to work, and whether it works at all.

Bernie and the new socialists must love us to want to run our lives. I suggest that such love is too costly for a free people. I would say in reply: thanks, Bernie; we appreciate your goodwill. Now beat it.

William Murchison is writing a book on American moral restoration in the 21st century. His latest book is The Cost of Liberty: The Life of John Dickinson. To find out more about William Murchison, and to see features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2019 CREATORS.COM

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Author: William Murchison

The Convenient Death of Jeffrey Epstein

The convenient death of accused child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein while in federal custody has set off a firestorm of controversy and speculation. Was it homicide or suicide? Was he murdered by others acting on behalf of his wealthy and powerful friends who might be exposed  or incriminated in his upcoming trial? Was he killed by another inmate looking for street cred or acting out of a hatred for child abusers? Whether murder or suicide, how could the staff at the feds’ Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Manhattan have failed to keep such a high-profile defendant from harm?

According to media reports, weeks before he died, guards found Epstein sprawled on the floor of his cell with injuries to his neck. The precise nature of those injuries was not disclosed. One anonymous source said that Epstein had been attacked. Other sources said that his injuries may have been self-inflicted.

He was immediately taken to the hospital, treated, and returned to custody in the MCC’s special housing unit for high-profile prisoners. Reportedly he was placed on a suicide watch, but the measures entailed by that procedure remain unclear. Also unclear is whether Epstein was taken off suicide watch just before he was found dead.

The New York Post has published an article citing an anonymous former inmate of the MCC’s special housing unit who offers the following insights:

There’s no way that man could have killed himself. I’ve done too much time in those units. It’s an impossibility. Between the floor and ceiling is like 8 or 9 feet. There’s no way for you to connect to anything. You have sheets, but they’re paper level, not strong enough. He was 200 pounds — it would never happen.… The clothing they give you is a jump-in uniform.… Could he have done it from the bed? No sir. There’s a steel frame, but you can’t move it. There’s no light fixture. There’s no bars. 

If this anonymous source is correct, the manner of Epstein’s death could not be suicide by hanging. So was it homicide?

Attorney General William Barr is reportedly “appalled” at Epstein’s death and has ordered an investigation by the FBI and the Department of Justice’s Inspector General. These steps are important given the stakes involved and the general distrust of government. Did MCC staff look the other way while Epstein was taken out? Is our government complicit in murder?

Beyond Barr’s announcement, by far the most reassuring development thus far is Monday’s report that Epstein’s representatives have hired forensic pathologist Michael Baden, M.D., to observe Epstein’s autopsy by the New York Medical Examiner’s Office and to re-autopsy the body. Dr. Baden is the former Chief Medical Examiner for the City of New York and former director of the New York State Police Medicolegal Investigations Unit.

Over the years, as both a prosecutor and in private law practice, I have been privileged to work cases with Dr. Baden. He is meticulous, clear-thinking, and amiably brilliant, and he brings a wealth of experience gained by performing over 20,000 autopsies over 50 years. He is, in my humble estimation, the world’s leading forensic pathologist and a man of absolute integrity.

Years ago, as an Assistant District Attorney in Philadelphia, I was tasked with investigating the death of a young man that happened while he was in police custody. He had been arrested for driving under the influence and placed in a cell at one of the police districts. Following standard procedure, his belt and shoelaces were taken from him. But, later that evening, he was found dead from asphyxiation. He was on his knees with his t-shirt wrapped around his neck and tied to a crossbar of the cell, which was three feet from the floor. In this position, with his body weight fully supported by the cell floor, he had leaned into the t-shirt noose and asphyxiated himself.

The decedent’s family believed that he had been killed by the police. Quite understandably they could not believe that their loved one had been able to hang himself in the manner described and did not trust either the Philadelphia police, the District Attorney’s office, or the Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s office to do an honest investigation. To alleviate their concerns and to get a fresh set of eyes on the matter, I asked Michael Baden to analyze the case.

I had previously worked a murder case with Dr. Baden in which he had performed brilliantly, and I hoped that he would be able sort out this unusual situation. Ultimately, Dr. Baden confirmed the finding of suicide. In the process, and not for the last time, he taught me how an experienced forensic pathologist can determine not just the cause of death (in that case asphyxiation) but the manner of death (suicide).

Part of that determination involves developing a psychological profile of the decedent. What kind of person was he? Was he depressed? Had he previously exhibited self-destructive ideation or tendencies? Was he experiencing stress? And so on.

What I learned from Dr. Baden in that case has direct application to the mysterious death of Jeffrey Epstein. While we don’t yet have all the facts, let’s take a look at what has been reported about Epstein’s state of mind.

According to media reports, Epstein was reportedly in good spirits just before he died. This could cut either way. It is not uncommon for people contemplating suicide to become calm, contented, and seemingly happy once they have made a firm decision to end their anguish by killing themselves. Or it could well be that Epstein was in a hopeful, non-self-destructive state of mind as the decision denying him pre-trial release was being appealed. Certainly he was in serious legal jeopardy, but he had been in that kind of difficulty before and had enormous resources to fight the charges.

Was Epstein too narcissistic and in love with himself to commit suicide? Certainly that needs to be investigated, but the answer to that question, while helpful, would hardly provide a definitive resolution as to the manner of death.

But there is a more promising and seemingly more concrete body of evidence, which offers insight into Epstein’s psychological profile and possible motive.

According to the New York Post, court documents released the day before his death disclosed that Epstein “had an insatiable sexual appetite” and “required three orgasms a day.” If true, then how would Epstein go about indulging his sexual urges while in jail? One likely way would be autoerotic asphyxiation, a practice by which an individual intentionally restricts the flow of oxygen to the brain for the purposes of sexual arousal. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association classifies this activity as a paraphilia or sexual perversion that is known to heighten masturbatory sensations. As described by researchers, depriving the brain of oxygen induces a lucid, semi-hallucinogenic state of hypoxia, which, combined with orgasm, has been found to be highly addictive and no less powerful than cocaine.

Moreover, forensic pathology texts are replete with examples of individuals who intentionally induced hypoxia for sexual gratification and ended up accidentally killing themselves. The groundbreaking Legal Medicine and Toxicology (1937), by Gonzales, Vance, and Helpern, states that a person can hang “by merely bending his knees in a standing position with his feet still resting on the ground. A person can hang himself in a sitting posture or while reclining in the supine or prone position. Apparently consciousness is lost so rapidly that the individual cannot free himself, even when it seems ridiculously easy.”

Just as the manner of death can be homicide or suicide, it can also be unintentional or accidental. So consider the following.

It is entirely possible that Epstein, in seeking a powerful orgasm, wrapped his neck in his prison jumper, tied the noose to his metal bed frame, and used this to restrict the flow of oxygen to his brain while sitting on the floor of his cell. Quite possibly he had done this before as in the time he was taken to the hospital with injuries to his neck. Only this last time, as he was pleasuring himself in his hypoxic state, he could have quickly lost consciousness and accidentally caused his own death.

Since we don’t have all of the facts, this analysis is most certainly speculative. But, in light of the ample evidence of Epstein’s reputedly voracious and deranged sexual obsessions, this accidental manner of death should be given serious consideration by the FBI and Inspector General as they investigate his death.

George Parry is a former federal and state prosecutor. He is a regular contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer and blogs at knowledgeisgood.net. He may be reached by email at kignet1@gmail.com.

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Author: George Parry