Christian Coalition

A high school student in Tennessee received a brief in-school suspension for saying "bless you" to a fellow student who sneezed.

Kendra Turner is a senior at Dyer County High School. Local media outlets report Turner said her computer teacher banned the phrase "bless you" in class because it should only be allowed in church.

The teacher also banned some non-religious phrases, like "my bad" or "hang out," saying they're a distraction during class.

On her Facebook page this week, Turner said her teacher told her, "'We do not do godly speaking in my class.' I stood up for my belief and said I have a constitutional right to speak about my God!!"

The Dyersburg State Gazette reports the school said the incident is about distraction, not a religious issue.

"We can't discuss discipline issues because of right to privacy of students, but I can say there are two sides to every story," DCHS Assistant Principal Lynn Garner told the paper.

"Sometimes people spin things and turn them to make them seem one way, but I cannot discuss anything specific in order to protect the child."

On Wednesday, Turner took to Facebook again to defend herself saying, "I don't care who talks about me or what they say, I WILL stand tall for my God!!!"

The Supreme Court is delaying the start of same-sex marriage in Virginia.

The court on Wednesday granted a request from a county clerk in northern Virginia to block same-sex marriages across the state while the issue is being appealed to the Supreme Court. The court provided no explanation for its order.

Without court intervention, same-sex couples would have been allowed to wed as of Thursday.

In January, the justices issued an order putting same-sex unions on hold in Utah while the federal appeals court in Denver was hearing the case. That court upheld the decision striking down Utah's gay marriage ban, but delayed its decision from taking effect pending appeal to the Supreme Court.

Most other federal court decisions in favor of same-sex marriage also have been put on hold.

FARMVILLE, Va. -- The small town of Farmville, Virginia, only has two private practitioners, or what we used to know as family doctors.

One of them, Dr. Lawrence Varner, is considering closing his doors after more than 20 years of service.

"If anyone finished medical school now and had the least thoughts of opening a solo practice, they would be absolutely insane, there's just no way," Varner said in a recent interview with CBN News.

Buried in Paper Work

Thanks to increased pressure from the government, Medicare, and insurance companies, Varner said he no longer recognizes the practice of medicine.

"I started when things were good, when physicians were physicians and they could do what they thought was best for the patient and not having to crawl and beg to insurance companies to get certain tests approved, certain medicines approved," he explained.

Government intervention into the healthcare system was supposed to improve patient care. Instead, many doctors say they feel more like clerks, stuck behind their computers instead of taking care of patients.

One example of that government intervention is Electronic Medical Records, or EMR. As part of the 2009 Economic Stimulus Package, physicians received incentives to convince them to buy into EMR.

The system promised to make their lives easier. But according to Varner's wife, Linda, it's done the exact opposite.

"Overhead is through the roof now because it requires more people to do it -- and the more requirements they have," she said. "And they said it would be paperless and we're buying more paper then ever and it's just backfired."

"And we're never done, whereas before we were at least done, it was late but we were done. With EMR we're never done," she explained.

Less than Minimum Wage

Time put in at the office seems endless, as do the sacrifices to keep the practice running.

"Family -- our youngest, he's 19 but he's still home a lot -- and he's like, 'I'm home but I'm not really home because ya'll physically are there but we're still working,'" Linda said.

An increasing number of doctors are closing their doors on private practice. Others are being acquired by hospitals in an effort to combat their loss of revenue.

Four years ago, Dr. Varner tried the route of becoming an employed physician. He laid out two conditions: First, that he continue working in the building he owns and second, that his daughter continue on as one of his nurses.

"At the end of two years they decided they wanted to move me," Varner said. "They would not honor the commitment to the office building. Then a month after they told me that, they came and said my daughter could no longer work here."

After the three-year contract was up, Varner went back into private practice where things had only gotten worse during his years working for the hospital.

"I'm making the equivalent of $12 an hour and my wife is making $2.90 since January 1," he said.

For the Love of the Job

So why not just close the doors? Varner said it's a mix of refusing to be pushed around and a love for his patients, patients who love him back.

Ray Fawcett is one of those patients. He's been a patient of Dr. Varner's for 25 years and he can't imagine finding another doctor now.

"The major strain is that Dr. Varner knows our minds and our bodies so well that it takes years for another doctor to build that rapport with us," he said. "I'm not nearly so concerned over the driving distance as I am the time required to build that rapport."

Regardless of the intentions of the administration, the results in the medical world are disturbing. Dr. Varner's message to the government: Stop being the problem.

"I've got the computer system, I've got the EMR, let me use it in a way that suits my practice and my patients," he said."And not because of some rules and regulations that someone that doesn't have a clue regarding patient care has decided that we need to meet. That would be a big huge step." 

Pope Francis is giving his blessing on efforts to stop ISIS terrorists from attacking religious minorities in Iraq.

Journalists asked the pope if he approves of U.S. air strikes against the jihadist army.

He replied that it's acceptable to "stop an unjust aggressor" and that Church teaching allows for just wars.

The pontiff also said he's considering visiting northern Iraq to show solidarity with persecuted Christians, but has not yet made a decision.

The White House has rejected a request to publicly disclose documents relating to the kinds of security software and computer systems behind the federal health care exchange website on the grounds that the information could "potentially" be used by hackers.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services denied a Freedom of Information Act request made late last year by the Associated Press amid concerns that Republicans raised about the security of the website, which had technical glitches that prevented millions of people from signing up for insurance under ObamaCare.

In denying access to the documents, including what's known as a site security plan, Medicare told the AP that disclosing them could violate health-privacy laws because it might give hackers enough information to break into the service.

"We concluded that releasing this information would potentially cause an unwarranted risk to consumers' private information," CMS spokesman Aaron Albright said in a statement.

The AP is asking the government to reconsider. Obama instructed federal agencies in 2009 to not keep information confidential "merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears." Yet the government, in its denial of the AP request, speculates that disclosing the records could possibly, but not assuredly or even probably, give hackers the keys they need to intrude.

Even when the government concludes that records can't be fully released, Attorney General Eric Holder has directed agencies to consider whether parts of the files can be revealed with sensitive passages censored. CMS told the AP it will not release any parts of any of the records.

The government's decision highlights problems as it grapples with a 2011 Supreme Court decision that significantly narrowed a provision under open records law that protected an agency's internal practices. Federal agencies have tried to use other, more creative routes to keep information censored.

In addition to citing potential health-privacy violations, the government cited exemptions intended to protect personal privacy and law-enforcement records, although the agency did not explain what files about the health care website had been compiled for law-enforcement purposes. Some open-government advocates were skeptical.

"Here you have an example of an agency resorting to a far-fetched privacy claim in an unprecedented attempt to bridge this legal gap and, in the process, making it even worse by going overboard in withholding such records in their entireties," said Dan Metcalfe, a former director of the Justice Department's office of information and privacy who's now at American University's law school.

Keeping details about lockdown practices confidential is generally derided by information technology experts as "security through obscurity." Disclosing some types of information could help hackers formulate break-in strategies, but other facts, such as numbers of break-ins or descriptions of how systems store personal data, are commonly shared in the private sector. "Security practices aren't private information," said David Kennedy, an industry consultant who testified before Congress last year about HealthCare.gov's security.

Last year, the AP found that CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner took the unusual step of signing the operational security certificate for HealthCare.gov herself, even as her agency's security professionals balked. That memo said incomplete testing created uncertainties that posed a potentially high security risk for the website. It called for a six-month "mitigation" program, including ongoing monitoring and testing. The site has since passed a full security test.

Government cyber-security experts were also worried that state computers linking to a federal system that verifies the personal information of insurance applicants were vulnerable to attack. About a week before the launch of HealthCare.gov, a federal review found significant differences in states' readiness. The administration says the concerns about state systems have been addressed.

The 25 mile strip of land, in-between the Mediterranean Sea and Israel’s southwest border, known as the Gaza Strip, has been home to over ten thousand rockets launched at Israel since 2006 and in return has suffered billions of dollars of damage. As a result of the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords, the territory was designated to be a part of a Palestinian State under the same Palestinian Authority that governs the West Bank. Hamas, however, won local elections in 2006, and subsequently kicked the PA out of Gaza in 2007. They have been ruling the area since.

Who is Hamas

Hamas is a jihadist, Muslim Brotherhood organization that is labeled a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, Japan, and Egypt. Their charter calls for the destruction of Israel, and their spokespersons and clerics regularly espouse their commitment to this goal.

The primary reason that Hamas rules Gaza is not to provide a better life for its inhabitants, but to have a base from where they can build the military capability to destroy Israel. If their intentions were otherwise, Hamas would have used the $100 million worth of cement and construction materials they received to build much needed housing for its ballooning population. Instead, Hamas chose to build an underground network of tunnels designed to deliver hundreds of terrorists inside Israel. Some of the tunnels were large enough for trucks to drive through them, and many were equipped with supplies for sedating and transporting kidnapped Israelis.

In fact, a major terrorist attack was being planned for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, on September 25th. If Israel had not entered Gaza and discovered these plans, over 200 terrorists would have snuck into Israel through the tunnels intent on killing thousands of Israeli civilians and kidnapping others.

Hamas also demonstrated callous disregard for their people, allowing some 160 children who had been used for child-labor to die while building the tunnels and by executing some 17 men who had overseen the building of the tunnels so they could not provide intelligence to Israel. Life has little meaning to Hamas fighters who glorify death in the cause of Jihad.

Complicity of the UN

With inhabitants numbering around 1.82 million people, Gaza is an overcrowded area with one of the highest population growth rates in the world. Most of the inhabitants are considered refugees by the UN who provides them with schools, sustenance, hospitals and the like. Hamas does provide some social services, but the presence of the UN relieves Hamas of much of the burden.

Unfortunately, the UN also perpetuates the sorry state of affairs in Gaza. First, they refuse to treat Palestinian refugees like all other refugees, and provide for their resettlement, thereby keeping Palestinian refugees in an ongoing state of limbo. In addition, Palestinian refugees are the only refugee group whose children and grandchildren are also awarded refugee status. So, while there are only 30,000 original refugees from 1948 alive today, the UN is caring for some 5 million Palestinians, keeping many in “refugee camps” rather than providing for their absorption into host countries.

Also, the UN in Gaza cooperates so fully with the Hamas government that at times the lines are blurred between the two. For example, the UN Development Program office in Gaza allowed “non-UN employees,” without any paper trail, to oversee the procurement and use of the concrete that was then used to build Hamas tunnels. When rockets were found in UN schools they were conveniently turned back over to Hamas, and the UN published as fact the civilian casualty figures provided by Hamas.

Not only did Hamas control reports of civilian casualties, they controlled the foreign press itself! Now that journalists are safely outside of Gaza, some are complaining that Hamas threatened and prevented them from giving an objective report on the ground. So, they are putting footage on YouTube that proves Hamas fired rockets next to hotels and UN buildings, and that Hamas operatives wore civilian clothing so their casualties were counted as civilian.

There has been nary a word out of the UN denouncing any of this.

Israel’s Military Operation

Hamas was behind the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens in June, and then launched some 200 missiles aimed at Israeli population centers, causing Israel to take military action to stop the rockets, destroy the tunnels, and restore calm. Over the course of the month-long operation Hamas fired over 3,000 rockets at Israel endangering the lives of 6 million civilians.

Israel uncovered over 30 tunnels and destroyed about half of Hamas’ missile stockpiles which were found in homes, mosques and schools. Hamas alleges that out of the 1,800 people killed over 70% of them were civilians, but Israel says that some 900 combatants were killed while firing on Israeli troops in Gaza.

During Operation Protective Edge, Israel repeatedly stated that the people of Gaza were not their enemy. They went out of their way to warn the inhabitants of buildings and neighborhoods with leaflets, text messages, telephone calls, and a “knock” on the building with an empty shell before they would fire at a target. Many missions were also aborted because civilians were seen in the vicinity.

The truth is, had Israel not gone to such lengths to save the lives of civilians, urban warfare in a city as densely populated as Gaza City would have resulted in tens of thousands of deaths. Nevertheless, the images of dead children broadcast on both TV and social media would drown out any attempts by the spokespersons of the Israeli government to explain their regard for civilian lives.

Everyone involved has paid a hefty price because of the terrorist regime ruling Gaza. While Hamas suffered a military defeat; the people of Gaza lost homes, businesses, and a future; and Israel’s reputation suffered greatly in the public arena of images vs words. Unless the West places conditions on their funding–conditions like demilitarization of Gaza, an end of Hamas rule, and education to prepare the people for peaceful coexistence with Israel–it will happen all over again.

Susan Michael is US Director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem www.icejusa.org, creator of IsraelAnswers.com.

 

Texas Gov. Rick Perry said he will move ahead with his 2016 presidential campaign despite being indicted by a Texas grand jury on felony counts of abuse of power.

Perry is defending his actions, saying he did nothing to deserve an indictment.

"If I had to do it again, I would make exactly the same decision," he told "Fox News Sunday."

Perry cut funding for District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, who was arrested on a DUI and then acted belligerently toward police.

For that, he is charged with abusing his powers by "threatening to veto legislation that had been approved and authorized by the legislature of the State of Texas to provide funding for the continued operation of the Public Integrity Unit of the Travis County District Attorney's office unless Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg resigned from her official position as elected District Attorney."

Lehmberg refused to step down and Perry vetoed $7.5 million in funding for Lehmberg's Public Integrity Unit.

"I did what every governor has done for decades, which is make a decision on whether or not it was in the proper use of state money to go to that agency, and I vetoed it," he told "Fox News Sunday."

Liberals as well as conservatives have come out in support of the governor.

"Everybody, liberal or conservative, should stand against this indictment," Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz told Newsmax.

The Wall Street Journal lampooned it as the "Texas Chainsaw Prosecution." Former Obama advisor Daviod Axelrod called the indictment "sketchy."

A Travis County Sheriff's Department video shows Lehmberg failing a sobriety test after being arrested for drunk driving in 2013.

On the video, a policeman can be seen telling her, "[The other arresting officer is] just trying to keep you from tipping over. You don't need to keep slapping his hands away."

Lehmberg became more combative in jail. She is seen on video saying, "Do you know what you are doing? Give me my phone! Give me my purse!"

A deputy tells her, "We've asked you, please stop kicking the door."

Perry said her behavior was unacceptable, noting Lehmberg was "stopped for DWI with a blood alcohol level almost 3 times the legal limit."

Lehmberg pleaded guilty and served 45 days in jail.

"I made a huge mistake and I have spent a lot of time trying to make amends for that," she said.

A grand jury said the governor abused his authority by trying to force Lehmberg out. And he faces his own arraignment this week.

JERUSALEM, Israel -- Rockets from the Gaza Strip followed by targeted Israeli airstrikes disturbed the fragile ceasefire between Hamas and Israel overnight, but a new truce is still holding.

Just before midnight, negotiators extended the ceasefire for another five days, marking the longest pause in the fighting since the start of the IDF's Operation Protective Edge last month.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu angrily rejected a U.N. investigation of alleged Israeli war crimes in Gaza.

In a nationwide address, Netanyahu accused the U.N. Human Rights Council of giving legitimacy to terror groups like Hamas and ISIS.     

"The U.N. Human Rights Council gives legitimacy to murderous terrorist organizations such as Hamas and ISIS," Netanyahu said.

"Instead of inquiring into the massacres that [President Bashar] Assad is perpetrating against the Syrian people or that ISIS [Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] is perpetrating against the Kurds, the U.N. has decided to come and check Israel -- the only democracy in the Middle East, a democracy that is acting legitimately to defend its citizens against murderous terrorism," he said.

"They should visit Damascus, Baghdad and Tripoli; they should go see ISIS, the Syrian army and Hamas -- there they will find war crimes. Not here," Netanyahu concluded.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is on his fourth visit to Israel this week, this time to stand in solidarity with the fight against terrorism. Cuomo said all New Yorkers stand with the Jewish state in its battle against terrorism.

"We stand in solidarity with Israel," the governor said. "The fight that you fight is the fight against terror. Unfortunately in New York, we've had a rude awakening to the pain and suffering that terror can cause in 9/11. So we have a special sensitivity in our hearts for what you're going through now."

Montana Democrats are scrambling to find a replacement candidate who will give them a fighting chance against Republicans in November’s midterm election after incumbent Sen. John Walsh dropped out of the race in the wake of a plagiarism scandal.

The state’s Democrats will meet Saturday morning to nominate and likely announce their new party candidate, who will face GOP challenger Rep. Steve Daines and Libertarian candidate Roger Roots in the general election three months from now.

The Montana Democratic Party’s Central Committee, which includes around 175 members from across the state, has until Aug. 20 to officially declare a new nominee. However, FoxNews.com is told they will most likely announce the nominee Saturday.

Several names have been floated as possible replacements for Walsh. They include: Nancy Keenan, the former head of NARAL Pro-Choice America; former Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger; and former Gov. Brian Schweitzer. 

Bohlinger has said he'd accept the nomination under certain conditions -- namely, that state Democrats robustly support him, with money and volunteers. 

Schweitzer, though, claims he's not interested. He already was in trouble following controversial comments he made in a National Journal article about former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who he said set off his “gaydar,” and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, whom Schweitzer compared to a sex worker. 

Other Democrats reportedly in the running for Walsh’s seat include first-term state lawmaker Rep. Amanda Curtis and rancher Dick Adams. State Sen. David Wanzenried had been in the running but reportedly is dropping his bid. 

Whether Democrats can find someone who gives Daines a real run remains to be seen. Montana’s Senate contest was widely seen as an uphill battle for Democrats even before Walsh dropped out. 

"I think it was a tough race to start with," Patrick Griffin, a professor at the School of Public Affairs at American University, told FoxNews.com. "The odds were 50-50, a very tight situation, if everything went perfectly, which we now know did not." 

Daines, the GOP challenger, had been ahead in most statewide polls by about 10 points prior to the plagiarism allegations and is now considered the overwhelming front-runner in the race. A Daines win in November would help Republicans' ambitious push for control of the U.S. Senate. 

Montana Democrats will sort out their plan on Saturday. 

“We look forward to bringing Montanans from across the state to select our Democratic Senate nominee,” Jim Larson, chairman of the Montana Democratic Party, said in a written statement. 

Lately, there's been talk about getting actor and longtime Montana resident Jeff Bridges on the ballot. As of Friday morning 1,684 signatures had been collected in an online petition to get Bridges, who played “The Dude” in “The Big Lebowski” and countless other roles, to sign on as the next Democratic candidate. “Facial hair” was among the reasons why some thought Bridges should be on the ballot. 

But The Dude does not abide. Bridges, asked about his political aspirations during a recent interview on Howard Stern’s radio show, said his wife nixed the idea.

“There’s a group of people that have called in and want me to run for senator of Montana, like 1,000 people,” Bridges told Stern on Monday. “And I said, ‘Sue?’ And she looks at me and says, ‘Don’t even think about it.’” 

Walsh officially dropped out of the race Aug. 7 after being dogged by allegations he lifted parts of his master’s thesis. The New York Times first reported the use of un-attributed material in his paper. Walsh initially called it an “unintentional mistake,” but the Iraq veteran later told The Associated Press that part of the problem might be post-traumatic stress disorder -- and then added he wasn't blaming PTSD. 

Republicans need a net gain of six seats to gain the majority next year. Montana, Arkansas, Alaska, Colorado, Louisiana and North Carolina are among the states polls indicate are most likely in danger of flipping from blue to red. 

Griffin said the "silver lining" for Montana Democrats would be to use the opportunity to lay down a foundation for an up-and-coming politician.

Calls to Walsh’s office for comment were not returned. Walsh has not publicly endorsed anybody to replace him.

A national business group representing the nation’s large employers reported Wednesday that companies desperate to avoid a 40 percent ObamaCare “Cadillac tax” are finding ways to shift the costs to workers.

The so-called “Cadillac tax,” now four years away, will affect health plans that spend more than $10,200 per worker.

Employees will get incentives to reduce costs through such arrangements as wellness programs, including losing weight or stopping smoking.

Meanwhile, employers are shifting workers into plans with higher deductibles, just as ObamaCare does in the health care exchanges, and using health savings accounts to help defray the costs.

Another cost saver, Marcotte added, is to increase premiums for spouses who have access to other plans.

"If the spouse has coverage through their own employers, employers are beginning to charge more if they elect to stay on their employee’s plan rather than go with the spouse's plan."

Rosemary Gibson of the Hastings Center said, "Employees are going to be paying more and more of their income for health care. And the same with people even on these exchanges if they don't get subsidies."

The “Cadillac tax” was originally intended to take effect sooner, but unions and other groups convinced officials to delay it until 2018, reducing the anticipated income from $137 billion to $80 billion over ten years. But many analysts predict it will be far less than that.

Henry Aaron of the Brookings Institution said, "before then, it's expected that most of the businesses that offer that form of insurance will back off and make the insurance less generous, so the tax won't bite."

Robert Laszewski of Health Policy and Strategy Associates said he doubted many will end up paying the tax.

"What we're finding is almost no employers are going to be hit by this ‘Cadillac tax.’ You'd be stupid to get hit by this ‘Cadillac tax,’” he said. “They're all cutting their benefits right now."

One analyst noted the tax had less to do with health care than it did with revenue.

"The ‘Cadillac tax’ is not about health care, it's about the money.It's about getting the money," said Dan Mendelson of Avalere Health.

But if employers are able to avoid it and less than expected is collected, ObamaCare could fall tens of billions short in paying for itself as promised.

Meanwhile, the administration has sent letters to 310,000 people signed up for the exchanges threatening to cut off their insurance if they don't submit missing verification of their citizenship by September 5.

At the same time, Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services Wednesday noting that its own Inspector General had found "1.2 million applicants have unresolved inconsistencies related to income verification."

She pointedly asked if there was an action plan or a deadline to deal with them, noting $17 billion will be paid in subsidies this year alone.