Official who penalized ‘Sweetcakes’ accused of violating Constitution

Aaron and Melissa Klein were fined $135,000 for refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding.

Aaron and Melissa Klein were fined $135,000 for refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding.

An Oregon state official and his agency violated the U.S. Constitution in multiple ways when they assessed a $135,000 penalty against Sweetcakes by Melissa bakery owners Aaron and Melissa Klein for refusing to violate their Christian faith by creating a wedding cake for a lesbian duo, according to a new appeal filed in the long-running case.

“In America, you’re protected by the Constitution, and you’re also innocent until proven guilty,” said Kelly Shackelford, president of First Liberty Institute, which is working on the Kleins’ case.

“Commissioner Brad Avakian decided the Kleins were guilty before he even heard their case. This is an egregious violation of the Kleins’ rights to due process. We hope the Oregon Court of Appeals will remedy this by reversing or dismissing the government’s case against the Kleins.”

Boyden Gray, former ambassador to the European Union and founding partner of Boyden Gray and Associates, noted the Constitution “guarantees the rights of free exercise of religion, free speech, and due process for every American.”

Gray also has joined in the Kleins’ case.

“We hope the Oregon Court of Appeals will defend the Kleins’ rights in accordance with state and federal law,” he said.

The case was prompted by the Kleins’ decision in 2013 not to make a cake for a lesbian duo. The couple had sold products to the women before and said they would again but declined to provide the cake because its message violated their religious beliefs.

Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries responded with a lengthy and wide-ranging attack on the couple, ordering them to pay the $135,000 penalty and not to say “certain things about their religious faith.”

Officials overseeing the case even stated publicly that people with such beliefs need to be “rehabilitated,” according to court recrods.

Paul Kengor, Ph.D., has written “Takedown: From Communists to Progressives, How the Left has Sabotaged Family and Marriage,” to explain the influence of “extreme-left radicals” on the American family.

The Kleins eventually closed their bakery.

Now they have appealed to the Oregon Court of Appeals, arguing the state violated their constitutional rights to religious freedom, free speech and due process.

Avakian, for example, before hearing the case against the Kleins, “made numerous public comments on social media and in media interviews revealing his intent to rule against them,” according to the brief.

“He stated that the Kleins had ‘disobey[ed]’ Oregon law and needed to be ‘rehabilitate[d].’ By failing to recuse himself from the case, while harboring a bias against the Kleins, Commissioner Avakian deprived the Kleins of their right to due process with a fair hearing before an impartial tribunal.”

The brief also contends the $135,000 penalty was gratuitous and excessive and that the agency order violates Oregon law, the state constitution and the U.S. Constitution. The complaint asserts the state agency violated constitutional prohibitions against compelled speech, free speech, due process and limits on the exercise of their religion.

Avakian did not respond to WND email and telephone requests for comment.

See the Big List of Christian Coercion compiled by WND, where officials, business owners and others have been bludgeoned by the law, activists – even judges – for their faith.

“This case addresses a BOLI final order misinterpreting Oregon’s public accommodations law, ORS 659A.403, which requires business to sell their goods and services to all persons, regardless of protected characteristics like sexual orientation. BOLI’s misapplication of Oregon law violates both the Oregon and United States Constitutions,” the brief argues.

“It unlawfully compels two law-abiding Oregon citizens, the Kleins, to devote their time and talents to create art destined for use in expressive events conveying messages that contradict their deeply and sincerely held religious beliefs,” it says.

The dispute, the brief says, “is about “the state forcing business owners to publicly facilitate ceremonies, rituals, and other expressive events with which they have fundamental and often, as in this case, religious disagreements. BOLI says the Kleins’ refusal to create custom-designed cakes for same-sex weddings tells complainants that ‘there are places [they] cannot go, things ]they] cannot … be.”

“The Kleins, however, have no power over where the complainants go, what they can be, or whether their identities are worthy of recognition. BOLI, of course, does have those powers over the Kleins and others like them. And its final order sends a clear message that their identity as a religious people is not worthy of state recognition and that they cannot operate a business in Oregon unless they facilitate same-sex weddings.”

The state said its ruling was about how “people in a free society should choose to treat each other.”

“BOLI’s charge is to fairly and impartially enforce the law, not to use it to bring about its vision of a free society, compelling people to engage in speech that violates their consciences in the name of rehabilitat[ing] religious dissenters,” the brief says.

It points out that refusing to do “gay weddings” is not the same as refusing to sell services to “gay” people.

Under the agency’s standard, the brief points out, a feminist photographer could be forced to facilitate fraternity initiations with pictures and an atheist store manager could be forced to provide bread for Wiccan rituals.

Citing Thomas Jefferson’s statement that compelling a man “to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors” is “tyrannical,” the brief argues that the people of Oregon have given BOLI certain powers, but not the authority “to determine how people in a society should treat each other, compelling speech and running roughshod over sincere religious beliefs.”

It also explains there were significant problems with the evidence that the state agency accepted, including the claim from Cheryl McPherson, the mother of complainant Rachel Cryer, that Aaron Klein called her an “abomination.”

What actually happened was that she went to the bakery to “confront” the Kleins about their beliefs and instruct them that she believed the Bible to be silent about “same-sex relationships.”

Aaron Klein listened to her, then responded with a verse from Leviticus: “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.”

McPherson left and reported that Klein had called her an “abomination,” a variation of the evidence that was not addressed by the state agency’s ruling, the brief explains.

The agency also repeatedly rejected the Kleins’ attempts to obtain a fair evaluation by restricting witnesses they could question regarding the evidence and refusing their requests to disqualify certain components.

The Kleins’ brief cites a recent ruling from a parallel agency in Colorado that ruled homosexual advocates who are bakers legally could refuse to produce a cake with a biblical message on it.

“There is no basis, however, in law or logic for forcing some bakers to associate with expressive events (same sex weddings) while exempting others from associating with expressive messages (Bible passages),” the brief argues.

WND previously reported that Samaritan’s Purse CEO Franklin Graham, who also is CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, called the ruling against the Kleins a travesty for the First Amendment.

Graham reacted on his Facebook page to the Oregon ruling against the Kleins.

Paul Kengor, Ph.D., has written “Takedown: From Communists to Progressives, How the Left has Sabotaged Family and Marriage,” to explain the influence of “extreme-left radicals” on the American family.

He wrote: “This is unbelievable! … Brad Avakian, Oregon’s Bureau of Labor & Industries Commissioner, upheld [the previous] ruling that the Kleins have to pay the lesbian couple $135,000 for a long list of alleged damages including: ‘acute loss of confidence,’ ‘high blood pressure,’ ‘impaired digestion,’ ‘loss of appetite,’ ‘migraine headaches,’ ‘pale and sick at home after work,’ ‘resumption of smoking habit,’ ‘weight gain,’ and ‘worry.’ Give me a break. In my opinion, this couple should pay the Kleins $135,000 for all they’ve been through!”

He continued: “Even more outrageous is that Avakian has also now ordered the Kleins to ‘cease and desist’ from speaking publicly about not wanting to bake cakes for same-sex weddings based on their Christian beliefs. This is an outright attack on their ‪#‎freedomofspeech‬. A senior attorney with the The Heritage Foundation was absolutely right when he said, ‘It is exactly this kind of oppressive persecution by government officials that led the pilgrims to America.’”

On Monday, WND reported four members of the Colorado Supreme Court, including a justice who boasts on a state website of being a homosexual-rights advocate, refused to intervene in a case in the state that is similar to the Kleins’. There, a state agency ruling is forcing a Colorado baker to violate his Christian faith by baking a cake for a homosexual duo.

The court on Monday issued a terse statement denying a petition for review. It said that Chief Justice Nancy Rice and Justice Nathan Coats would have reviewed the case because of the important constitutional questions it raises. But four other justices, including Monica Marquiz, who boasts of winning the Colorado GLBT Bar Association’s 2009 Outstanding GLBT Attorney Award, joined with a growing social movement that insists homosexual rights trump the religious rights protected by the Constitution.

For Rice and Coats, the issues that need to be reviewed include whether the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA) “requires Phillips to create artistic expression that contravenes his religious beliefs about marriage,” whether “applying CADA to force Phillips to create artistic expression that contravenes his religious beliefs about marriage violates his free speech rights under the United States and Colorado Constitutions” and whether “applying CADA to force Phillips to create artistic expression that violates his religious beliefs about marriage infringes his free exercise rights under the United States and Colorado Constitutions.”

The other three justices joining the campaign were Brian Boatright, William Hood III and Richard Gabriel..

Colorado’s antagonism to Christians was apparent when Diann Rice, a member of the state civil rights commission, which reviewed the allegations, said: “I would also like to reiterate what we said in the hearing or the last meeting. Freedom of religion and religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be the Holocaust, whether it be – I mean, we – we can list hundreds of situations where freedom of religion has been used to justify discrimination. And to me it is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use to – to use their religion to hurt others.”

Hear a recording of Rice’s statement:

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See the Big List of Christian Coercion compiled by WND, where officials, business owners and others have been bludgeoned by the law, activists – even judges – for their faith.

 

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Feds: Schools must violate 1st Amendment

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The federal government has ruled that in order to meet its demands under Title IX, the law regulating equal access to educational opportunities at colleges and universities, the schools must violate the First Amendment, an activist organization has charged.

“The Department of Justice now interprets Title IX to require colleges and universities to violate the First Amendment,” a report from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education confirmed this week.

It cited a recent letter from the agency to the University of New Mexico that “found the university improperly defined sexual harassment. DOJ flatly declared that ‘[u]nwelcome conduct of a sexual nature’ – including ‘verbal conduct’ – is sexual harassment ‘regardless of whether it causes a hostile environment or is quid pro quo.’”

“The Department of Justice has put universities in an impossible position: violate the Constitution or risk losing federal funding,” said FIRE President Greg Lukianoff. “The federal government’s push for a national speech code is at odds with decades of legal precedent. University presidents must find the courage to stand up to this federal overreach.”

At issue is how colleges and universities handle complaints of sexual assault and more.

In the demand to the University of New Mexico, the federal government requires controls and punishment for verbal statements to which it objects.

See what American education has become, in “Crimes of the Educators: How Utopians Are Using Government Schools to Destroy America’s Children.”

“To comply with Title IX, DOJ states that a college or university ‘carries the responsibility to investigate’ all speech of a sexual nature that someone subjectively finds unwelcome, even if that speech is protected by the First Amendment or an institution’s promises of free speech,” the report said.

The report called the mandate a “shockingly broad conception of sexual harassment” and said it “all but guarantees that colleges and universities nationwide will subject students and faculty to months-long investigations – or worse – for protected speech.”

It listed a number of recent cases, such as the months-long investigation into Northwestern University Professor Laura Kipnis who questioned “sexual paranoia” on campus. Also, the comedic articles posted by a satire blog by a Syracuse University law student got him investigated for harassment, FIRE’s report said.

The organization noted that the DOJ statement “would not just legitimize” all such investigations, “it would require campuses to either conduct such investigations routinely or face potential federal sanctions.”

The federal agency’s letter sets the bar high for schools to act.

“The school has responsibility to respond to allegations of sexual harassment of which they are or should have been aware, regardless of whether a student has complained, asked the school to take action, or identified the harassment as a form of discrimination,” the letter said.

The school also was instructed to do its own investigation of allegations even while an associated criminal investigation is proceeding.

And it defined what a wide range of actions – or even inactions – can be construed as sexual harassment: “Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature and can include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature, such as sexual assault or acts of sexual violence. ”

FIRE’s report said the federal government’s rationale “doubles down on the unconstitutional and controversial ‘blueprint’ definition of sexual harassment jointly issued by the DOJ and the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights in a May 2013 findings letter to the University of Montana.”

“Requiring colleges to investigate and record ‘unwelcome’ speech about sex or gender in an effort to end sexual harassment or assault on campus is no more constitutional than would be a government effort to investigate and record all ‘unpatriotic’ speech in order to root out treason,” said Robert Shibley, FIRE’s executive director. “Students, faculty, and administrators must not give in to this kind of campus totalitarianism…”

The organization sponsored a lawsuit earlier this year against Louisiana State University in which the definitions from the federal government are challenged.

There, Teresa Buchanan, a tenured associate professor of early childhood education in LSU’s acclaimed teacher certification program, was fired for “sexual harassment” under an LSU policy that tracks the federal government’s broad definition. Her lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of that situation.

WND also reported weeks ago that American universities already have paid some $36 million to students who sued after they were injured by federally mandated campus sexual-misbehavior rules that are based on a “preponderance of evidence.”

See what American education has become, in “Crimes of the Educators: How Utopians Are Using Government Schools to Destroy America’s Children.”

Shibley said the OCR circumvented federal law in its pronouncements at the time that students an be convicted based on that standard of evidence.

But last September, Colorado’s openly homosexual member of Congress, Rep. Jared Polis., D-Colo., advocated an even lower standard for expelling students.

“If there are 10 people who have been accused, and under a reasonable likelihood standard maybe one or two did it, it seems better to get rid of all 10 people,” said Polis.

Reason.com reported Polis said colleges should remove students even if there is only a suspicion of guilt.

“It certainly seems reasonable that a school for its own purposes might want to use a preponderance of evidence standard, or even a lower standard,” he said during a House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training hearing.

“Perhaps a likelihood standard. … If I was running a (private college) I might say, well, even if there is only a 20 or 30 percent chance that it happened, I would want to remove this individual,” he said.

See the Polis comments:

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While only four lawsuits were filed against universities in response to their handling of allegations from 2008 to 2010, between 2012 and 2014 there were 18 cases, representing a four-fold increase, according to a report by Stop Abusive and Violent Environments that is touted as the “most comprehensive listing of campus sex lawsuits ever.”

 

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‘Union Bound: The Tour’ bringing Civil War to you

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From the makers of the new movie “Union Bound,” here comes “Union Bound: The Tour.” The 14-city tour, which kicks off May 11 in Franklin, Tennessee, amplifies the film experience by adding music, memorabilia and merchandise.

Each event will feature a screening of the “Union Bound” film as well as live performances by country music icon Collin Raye, Highway 101 lead singer Nikki Nelson and percussion band Street Drum Corps. Some shows will also feature Cactus Moser, who contributed to the film’s soundtrack, and his wife Wynonna Judd.

In addition, there will be Civil War artifacts on display, including costumes and props used in the movie. The actual diary of Joseph Hoover, upon which the movie is based, will be part of the display.

Tank Jones, who starred in the film as the slave Jim Young, will serve as host and master of ceremonies.

Michael Davis, the film’s producer, said this tour will be unlike anything audiences have ever experienced.

“It’s more than just a movie, it’s more than just music – it’s become this experience of understanding the Underground Railroad and having a chance to kind of touch and feel life during the Civil War, during that time, and just being immersed into that moment, and hopefully that’s what people will take away,” Davis told WND. “Plus we’ve got some really amazing acts that are traveling with us.”

Davis said the idea for the tour came from his co-producer Kara Williamson, who has worked on lots of large concerts and musical events in the past. One of Williamson’s friends had worked on a tour following the release of the 2000 film “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” in which musicians traveled the country playing music from the movie.

“They didn’t really do what we’re doing as far as this whole experience, so it was a little bit different,” Davis said.

Nevertheless, that gave Williamson and Davis the idea to take “Union Bound” on the road as a traveling show featuring live music from the movie and music inspired by the movie. Then they added Civil War memorabilia to give audiences a complete experience.

“The audience gets the ability to interact with these amazing acts and amazing talent musically, but they also get to be immersed in more than just music,” Davis explained. “They get to see the movie; they get to interact with all these artifacts. We’ve got memorabilia from the film, such as the wardrobe of some of the actors will be on display, and they’ll be able to touch and feel some of that stuff. So it becomes a little bit different than just going to a concert. So I think that’s what makes it unique.”

Tour attendees will also have the opportunity to purchase “Union Bound” merchandise, including the soundtrack and the companion book. Davis, who co-authored the book, will be on hand to sign copies.

“Union Bound” is the true story of Joseph Hoover, a captive Union soldier who escaped from a Confederate prison camp along with a fellow soldier. Slaves guided the two white men along the Underground Railroad back toward Union-held territory.

Although the protagonist is a northerner, Davis assured WND his film is not an attempt to vilify the South or the Confederacy.

“We are simply telling what took place,” he said. “We aren’t really taking sides. We acknowledge that we’re in the Civil War, but the Civil War is the backdrop. Really the focus of the film is this journey that these guys are on.”

Davis said as a filmmaker he’s willing to take criticism of the film, but only from people who have actually watched it.

“If someone’s watched it and they don’t like it, please tell me,” he said. “I don’t have a problem with that. You can point out all the faults you want. Rip it apart. But if you went and saw it, then you now have earned the right to comment on the film.”

More information about “Union Bound: The Tour,” including dates, locations and ticket information, can be found on the official tour website.

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Draft for girls enters congressional pipeline to White House

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A plan to draft girls into the U.S. military has entered the congressional pipeline en route to the desk of President Obama, who already has been key in opening the nation’s military to open homosexuality and females in the foxholes, thanks to several Republicans who joined with the almost-unanimous Democrats on the House Armed Services Committee.

It wasn’t supposed to happen that way.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., ended up voting against his own amendment that he said he introduced to begin a conversation about the issue of women in the military’s tip-of-the-spear combat troops and mandatory enlistment.

Hunter is opposed to the Obama’ administration’s recent moves to install women in even the most dangerous, violent military positions. He said the draft now is sexist, because it targets young men, and not young women.

But, the Washington Post said his “gamble that committee members would shy away from forcing women into the draft backfired when a slim majority – including five Republicans – opted to endorse the measure by a vote of 32 to 30.”

If it makes it through Congress, it would demand that young girls and women ages 18 to 26 register with the Selective Service, which would run any draft that would be imposed.

So far, there seems to be tentative acceptance from Sen. John McCain, a senior senator on the Senate Armed Services Committee, but reluctance from House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Officials at Center for Military Readiness, who have studied the issue, surveyed the experts and analyzed the problem for years, said the “Draft America’s Daughters” plan, an amendment to the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, is just wrong.

“It is unfortunate that all Democrats and a few liberal Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee voted for Congressman Duncan Hunter’s ‘Draft America’s Daughters’ amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for 2017,” said CMR chief Elaine Donnelly.

“Committee Chairman ‘Mac’ Thornberry, R-Texas, to his credit, tried to deter the vote, but Republican members Martha McSally, Arizona, Personnel Subcommittee Chairman Joe Heck, Nevada, and Chris Gibson, New York joined with feminist Democrats in approving Hunter’s amendment, 32-30,” she said.

“The intent of the measure was to draw attention to inconvenient facts and major problems with the administration’s no-exceptions-allowed plans to order minimally qualified women into direct ground combat units such as the infantry,” Donnelly said.

“Selective Service is a national defense contingency policy, and there is nothing ‘sexist’ about it. Gender-related physiological differences between men and women fully justify women’s exemption from direct ground combat units that attack the enemy with deliberate offensive action. The same realities apply to Selective Service law as well,” she said.

“Congressman Hunter voted against his own bill, but approval by the House and eventually by the Senate and President Obama would result in unsuspecting girls-next-door facing Selective Service obligations and a possible future draft in the event of a national emergency,” she warned.

“If Selective Service were re-activated to fight an existential threat, thousands of women could be called up for accelerated military training. Only a few might meet the demanding standards of combat arms units such as the infantry,” she said. ‘Would the expenditure of time, effort, and resources to find those few women, and to train them for combat arms units where military needs are greatest, be worth it? Only Congress has the right, and the responsibility, to say ‘No’ on national security grounds – especially when women are free to volunteer, as they always have.”

Her organization recently issued a report on “Women, War, and Selective Service Obligations.”

It said, “The argument could be made that including women in the draft pool could actually hinder the flexibility, efficiency and speed necessary to respond to a national crisis. As Prof. Woodruff explains, if Selective Service called up women and men ages 18-26 in roughly equal numbers, the administrative burden of finding the theoretical one-in-four woman who might be qualified would make it more difficulty to find better-qualified persons.”

It noted, “If 75 percent of the men can meet the combat standards but only 25 percent of the women can meet the same standards, considerably more time, effort and resources would be expended testing, evaluating and screening women to identify the 25 percent who qualify.”

Donnelly continued, “During a time of national emergency, when the very survival of our nation depends upon success on the battlefield, political paralysis and an administrative nightmare trying to find and induct a few qualified women would weaken America’s defenses. For the same reasons that women should not be ordered into the infantry, more lives would be put at risk at the worst possible time.”

She warned that if certain political influences prevail, the courts could strike the constitutionality of Selective Service, meaning “there will be no law at all.”

Donnelly pointed out, “Three years of comprehensive, scientific studies, which Congress has yet to consider, clearly show that assigning minimally qualified women to the combat arms will make fighting units less strong, less fast, more vulnerable to debilitating injuries, less deployable on short notice, and less capable during prolonged direct ground combat deployments.

“Selective Service registration is a low-cost contingency plan that backs-up the all-volunteer force, both active-duty and reserve. Contrary to statements made by Rep. McSally in support of the Hunter amendment, Selective Service does not register or draft people for support roles or playing in the band.

“Like all insurance policies, the system is not necessary . . . until it is. A major national emergency, perhaps on multiple fronts, might require national mobilization and rapid induction of sufficient numbers of civilians who are capable of replacing casualties fallen in battle,” Donnelly said.

WND had reported only weeks earlier when the Pentagon’s top brass said if all military jobs must be open to women, then lawmakers should make it mandatory for them to register for future drafts.

Gen. Mark A. Milley, chief of staff of the Army, and Gen. Robert B. Neller, the Marine Corps commandant, told the Senate Armed Services Committee then that registering all women for Selective Service is an appropriate request given the push to make military occupational specialties gender-neutral.

“Now that the restrictions that exempted women from [combat jobs] don’t exist, then you’re a citizen of a United States,” Gen. Neller told Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., the Washington Post reported. “It doesn’t mean you’re going to serve, but you [need to] register.”

“Senator, I think that all eligible and qualified men and women should register for the draft,” added Milley.

 

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Congress should give EMP threat ‘highest priority,’ says expert

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Imagine life without electronics. No computer, no TV, no smartphone, no Web. Your credit card is useless because the entire banking system needs computers to operate. Don’t try to hop in your car and drive to safe location – modern cars rely on electricity to function, and in any case you won’t be able to refill your tank at a gas station because gas pumps rely on electricity, too.

Think this couldn’t happen in today’s America?

Think again, says former Defense Department security policy analyst and WND national security writer Michael Maloof. All it would take is an EMP attack to knock out all “life-sustaining critical infrastructure.”

“When I say life-sustaining critical infrastructures, I’m talking about any of those that have a dependency on the electrical grid system,” Maloof explained during a recent appearance on Stand for Truth Radio with Susan Knowles.

“And if the electrical grid system is knocked out, it affects everything that depends upon that electrical grid. It could include our telecommunications, our banking and finance systems, our petroleum and natural gas transportation systems, our food and water delivery systems, our emergency services. It also affects all of the automated control devices that we take for granted every day, like the automatic control of lights, our surge system.”

He added, “It would be a nightmare you’ll never wake up from.”

An EMP, or electromagnetic pulse, can result from a naturally occurring solar flare, but it can also follow from a man-caused nuclear explosion at high altitude. A powerful EMP can fry all electronic devices in a region or even an entire country, depending on how large the explosion is.

WND has done plenty of in-depth reporting over the years on the dangers of EMP.

Such an event would also render hospitals unable to help their patients, as they rely on electronics. People with pacemakers or other electrical-based medical devices would suddenly lose their source of life.

“One thing people don’t really talk about is the impact it would have on nuclear reactors,” added Maloof, who wrote about the EMP threat in his book “A Nation Forsaken.” “When you look at what happened in Fukushima in Japan a few years ago with just one reactor, the impact on something like 147 nuclear reactors we have in the United States could be not only catastrophic, but cataclysmic.”

The EMP threat is not merely hypothetical.

Maloof reported in WND recently that North Korea now has two satellites in orbit over the United States capable of launching a surprise EMP attack that could evade U.S. National Missile Defenses. He also warned Knowles’ radio audience about North Korea’s underground testing of nuclear devices.

“[Experts I’ve spoken to] believe that they are hydrogen weapons purposely designed for low kinetic yield but high-intensity gamma rays so that they can have a maximum EMP effect,” Maloof revealed.

But an EMP attack need not come from North Korea; any hostile country could theoretically fire a missile designed to explode at a high altitude over the United States, according to Maloof. He pointed out Cuba still has nuclear-capable SA-2s left over from the days of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

What’s more, it doesn’t even take a nation to carry out an attack. Maloof said any “technically inclined” person can make a flux gun, which can create the effect of an EMP on a local area. Certain websites show ordinary people how to make these flux guns, leading to concerns about lone wolf EMP attacks.

It’s not as if the U.S. government doesn’t know about the EMP threat. Maloof said the Air Force recently tested a drone with EMP equipment on it and knocked out all the computers in a high-rise apartment building.

He also said Congress has been briefed on a simple radar that can be mounted on the back of a truck or hidden in a van and aimed outward to fry other cars’ electronic equipment.

“I’ve been concerned that such a device could be aimed at an aircraft that might be either landing or taking off from [Reagan] National Airport,” Maloof warned.

And yet, Congress has so far failed to act with urgency to guard the nation against a potential EMP attack. This inaction frustrates Maloof.

“The warnings are there!” he exclaimed. “We’re doing it to ourselves. We’re not shooting ourselves in the foot; we’re shooting ourselves in the head… Congress is so constipated, they’re not giving the attention that this thing needs. It should be given the highest priority, and it’s not.”

Maloof noted other countries are taking steps to guard against an EMP attack – Russia, China, Israel and Iran among them.

“The Chinese actually do military maneuvers assuming an EMP assault from the United States, so some of their military doctrine now is incorporating, what if they’re attacked initially with an EMP? How would they cope with that?” he revealed. “So we’re just acting dumb and happy over here.”

Maloof lamented that none of the current presidential candidates is prioritizing the EMP issue, either. He said of the five candidates left in the race, Ted Cruz is the only one he has heard refer to EMPs. But he also said Donald Trump’s advisers have approached him seeking background information on the EMP threat.

If the U.S. would give EMP the highest priority, and if it had cooperation from private industries, Maloof estimates it would cost $20 billion to guard the country against an EMP attack.

“That’s chump change when you consider the amounts that we spend elsewhere, like the Iraq War, foreign aid and assistance to Pakistan every year,” he noted. “I mean, we could be paying for doing this and making sure we can mitigate this problem significantly if we make a concerted effort.”

However, Maloof said even if we were to start today, it would probably take at least five years to implement a solid plan to protect the nation from an EMP strike. And he cautioned the U.S. never would be able to completely eliminate the threat – only mitigate it.

One step he wants to see the Department of Homeland Security take is to make an EMP event one of their 15 national planning scenarios. Such a move would direct state and local officials in charge of emergency preparedness to “kick into high gear,” as Maloof put it.

“If all communications are knocked out, how do people communicate?” he asked rhetorically. “How do first responders know what to do? And that’s why some of us have actually started working with state and local governments to make them aware of EMP and to take the necessary action at the local levels.”

Maloof thinks local authorities should recreate the old “defense shelters” of a bygone era so locals know where to go in an emergency to receive stored food, water and medicine. This would reduce the sense of panic and chaos if an EMP attack knocked out all communications.

However, it’s not just the government’s job to prepare. Maloof advises everyone to pack a “go bag” with essential items they would need in an emergency: food, water, a first-aid kit, a firearm, certain types of knives and a book on survival.

But the go bag is only to be used by those who have to flee their homes in an emergency. Maloof recommends people store up an ample supply of food, water and medicine in their houses. A firearm is essential, he said, because in the chaotic aftermath of an EMP attack, many people will be desperate enough to try and steal what they need to survive. Those who have the most will be at the greatest risk.

“More and more people are becoming more self-sustaining, living off the grid,” Maloof observed. “They’ll have fewer problems, but they’re going to be the first targets.”

Most importantly, Maloof called for a groundswell of local action, given that the federal government has done nothing to guard against the EMP threat. He said it’s up to citizens to convince their governors and state and local legislatures to implement the necessary precautions.

“If we don’t take the action, then when it happens, it’s too late,” Maloof stated bluntly. “We’ve known about this for… about 50 years and we have done very, very little about it. Other countries are doing something about it, and it’s just unbelievable given the dependency that the United States has on electronics and technology — which has made us the greatest country in the world, [but] it also turns out to be our Achilles’ heel, because unless we deal with the EMP issue, what’s helped make us strong could actually kill us.”

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Hindu radicals beat pastor, pregnant wife

(Christian Today) Two Hindu radicals reportedly beat a pastor and his pregnant wife after posing as fellow believers at a church in Chhattisgarh, India. The Hindu extremists then doused the couple with petrol and tried to burn them alive, the Gospel Herald reports.

Pastor Deenbandhu Sameli and his wife Meena managed to flee the church and escaped from the Hindu mob. They are now safe, according to the Hindu Times.

The two Hindu extremists reportedly entered the church during a Sunday night service and pretended to be members of another Christian church.

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Study: Universe likely has many extinct civilizations

(Discovery) Is there life in the universe? If there is, can it communicate — and does it want to talk to us? If such a civilization is out there, how long could it survive? These are some of the fundamental questions astronomers regularly consider when they think about aliens.

Suffice it to say the answers are not as easy as Star Trek or Star Wars would make you believe. The most famous answer took place in 1961, when astronomer Frank Drake proposed what is now known as the Drake equation. You can read it on the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) website here in full, but understand that it outlines the variables needed for a technological civilization to communicate with us.

A new paper in Astrobiology suggests there could be a way to simplify the equation, based on the observations of exoplanets that we have made since the first one was discovered in the 1990s. While the result is depressing — life was plentiful, but is likely extinct — it does have applications to help us extend our own civilization, the researchers said.

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Kentucky Confederate monument to be removed

(Lexington Herald-Leader) A Confederate monument will be removed from a spot near the University of Louisville campus where it has stood since 1895.

The stone monument honoring Kentuckians who died for the Confederacy in the Civil War will be moved to another location, University President James Ramsey and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said during a surprise announcement Friday. The monument is capped with a statue of a Confederate soldier.

“It’s time for us to move this monument to a more appropriate place,” Ramsey said while standing in front of the stone memorial, which sits next to the university’s gleaming Speed Art museum that just completed a $60 million renovation.

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