California Dams and Gun Control and So Much More — Look At News Daily  (Feb. 17-23/Day 29-35) Week 5

By Michael Hernandez


February 17 (Saturday): Day 29

Florida Governor calls on FBI Director to resign over agency’s failures

Florida Governor Rick Scott is calling on FBI Director Christopher A. Wray to resign for the agency’s failure to take action over warnings that the Parkland school shooter was a powder keg waiting to go off.

“The FBI’s failure to take action against this killer is unacceptable,” Scott said in a statement released Friday afternoon on February 16. “The FBI has admitted that they were contacted last month by a person who called to inform them of Cruz’s ‘desire to kill people,’ and ‘the potential of him conducting a school shooting.’”

“Seventeen innocent people are dead and acknowledging a mistake isn’t going to cut it. An apology will never bring these 17 Floridians back to life or comfort the families who are in pain. The families will spend a lifetime wondering how this could happen, and an apology will never give them the answers they desperately need,” the statement continued.

Scott is alluding to reports that the FBI had been warned ahead of time that the Parkland school shooter was making troubling posts on social media. According to reports, the Bureau was notified in September after a YouTube user named Nikolas Cruz left a comment about wanting to be a “professional school shooter.”

Robert Lasky, FBI Special Agent in Charge of the Miami field office, claimed that the warning didn’t contain enough information for the agency to track down the person making the comments.

But Gov. Scott says that the FBI’s failure to follow up on the tip has damaged the agency. “We constantly promote ‘see something, say something,’ and a courageous person did just that to the FBI. And the FBI failed to act,” Scott concluded. “‘See something, say something’ is an incredibly important tool, and people must have confidence in the follow through from law enforcement. The FBI director needs to resign.”

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ordered a review of the FBI and Justice Department procedures to determine if the Bureau broke protocols in failing to respond to the tip.


Fox News host wants Mueller to interview Democrats; blasts Lebron James

Friday on Fox News Channel’s “The Ingraham Angle,” host Laura Ingraham gave her take on the indictments handed down by special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe regarding interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Ingraham told viewers the indictments illustrated how Russia was still a threat to the United States despite then-President Barack Obama’s dismissal during the 2012 presidential election. She also said Mueller should interview 2016 Democratic Party presidential nominee  Hillary Clinton, former Secretary of State John Kerry, former National Security Advisor Susan Rice, former Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes and former President Barack Obama as part of his investigation.

“We finally have indictments in the Mueller investigation related to meddling in the 2016 election and the only ones being charged are Russians. A federal grand jury has now indicted 13 Russian individuals and companies for interfering in the 2016 election.

“They are charged with a bunch of things like creating fake ads, staging pro and anti-Trump campaign events and also setting up bogus-run organizations, but they’re not accused of rigging the election for Trump, but instead of waging information warfare to sow discord in the political system.

“Given that we already know Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the DNC paid for that fake Russian dossier, it’s time for the special counsel to interview Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Susan Rice, Ben Rhodes, and maybe even Barack Obama. I say it’s high time that we determine who really colluded with the Russians.”

Fox News host Laura Ingraham also challenged Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James to come on her show, and debate the mixing of sports and politics. The invite comes after critics slammed Ingraham for telling the NBA star to “shut up and dribble,” instead of talking about politics.

Ingraham tweeted out the invitation after taking the slings and arrows of a list of entertainers and sports figures for her criticism of the player.

The Fox host sparked the controversy after telling LeBron James to lay off his near weekly attacks on President Donald Trump and keep his mind on his sport. On the February 15 broadcast of her Ingraham Angle show, Ingraham said that James’ comments were “barely intelligible, not to mention ungrammatical.” She also slammed James saying, “it’s always unwise to seek political advice from someone who gets paid $100 million a year to bounce a ball.”

The evening Fox News host took criticism from a list of sports figures and at least one entertainer after she criticized James. Included among the attackers were Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade, Philadelphia Eagles DE Chris Long, Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant, and actress Ellen Pompeo.

Fox News has since released a statement from Laura Ingraham answering to her critics: “In 2003, I wrote a New York Times bestseller called ‘Shut Up & Sing,’ in which I criticized celebrities like the Dixie Chicks & Barbra Streisand who were trashing then-President George W. Bush. I have used a variation of that title for more than 15 years to respond to performers who sound off on politics. I’ve told Robert DeNiro to ‘Shut Up & Act,’ Jimmy Kimmel to ‘Shut Up & Make Us Laugh,’ and just this week told the San Antonio Spurs’ Gregg Popovich to ‘Shut up & Coach.’

“If pro athletes and entertainers want to freelance as political pundits, then they should not be surprised when they’re called out for insulting politicians. There was no racial intent in my remarks – false, defamatory charges of racism are a transparent attempt to immunize entertainment and sports elites from scrutiny.”

President Trump and Melania visit Florida shooting victims

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump traveled to Broward County, Florida, to visit the victims of Wednesday’s school shooting and some of the first responders to the scene.

The president and first lady visited Broward Health North Hospital, where they met with hospital staff, some of the victims, and victims’ families. They spent time with two patients from the school – a girl who was shot four times and a boy.

Trump shared photos of his hospital visit on his Twitter account: “It’s sad something like that could happen,” Trump said. They also greeted and thanked hospital staff: “The job they’ve done is incredible, and I want to congratulate you,” Trump said. Trump praised the “record-setting” speed of first responders who cared for the victims. “It’s an incredible thing,” he said.

The president later visited law enforcement officers at the Broward County Sheriff’s Office and thanked them for their efforts. Gov. Rick Scott and Sen. Marco Rubio joined the president and first lady at a roundtable of law officials who responded to the shooting. They met Officer Michael Leonard of the Coconut Creek Police Department, the official who spotted and arrested the shooter.

Trump joked that Leonard was too “modest” after he told the story of how he apprehended the shooter. “Very few people would have done what you did,” Trump said. “I think it was a fantastic job.”

Melania Trump also spoke to the officials. “Thank you all for what you do and saving our children. That’s the most important; they’re our future, and let’s take care of them because they will go through a lot,” she said.

Sheriff Scott Israel thanked the president and his wife for visiting the community.

“Our conversation is not what I’m going to remember most. I’m going to remember most about a half hour that you and the first lady spent with the son [who was shot] of one of our injured deputies,” Israel said to Trump. “I’ll never forget that, and for you to do something like that is amazing and shows what you think of law enforcement, and we appreciate it.”

Silicon Valley venture capitalist moves to L.A.

Top-tier venture capitalist Peter Thiel is ditching the intolerance of Silicon Valley and moving himself and his personal investment arm to Los Angeles for better business opportunities.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Thiel is personally relocating to Los Angeles from San Francisco’s Presidio District, but will not move his $3 billion venture capital Founders Fund. Thiel started PayPal in 1998 and became the first big angel investor in Facebook. He is the founder and CEO of cyber-security firm Palantir Technologies, and his early-stage “unicorn” investments include SpaceX, Lyft, Airbnb, Spotify, and Stripe.

Thiel has been a known techno-libertarian for decades. In a 1999 mission statement to employees, Thiel trumpeted that PayPal digital transactions would eliminate the coercive power of governments to use currencies to strip citizens’ wealth through inflation. Thiel’s Founders Fund reportedly made over $200 million on an early $20 million Bitcoin bet.

Last month at a Stanford University Cardinal Conversation, Thiel suggested that tech companies are playing the political game poorly. He said that Silicon Valley is a “one-party state,” leaning left, while the banking industry hedged its bets by supporting both political parties before and after the 2009 financial crisis. Thiel argues that Silicon Valley is now less able to understand and connect with the whole of the American electorate.

Labor Board:  Google did not violate any labor laws

The National Labor Relations Board has concluded that tech giant Google did not violate any labor laws by firing James Damore.

Bloomberg reports that the National Labor Relations Board concluded last month that no labor laws were violated by Google in their firing of James Damore for his viral viewpoint diversity memo. An associate general counsel for the National Labor Relations Board stated that some of the comments in Damore’s 3,000-word memo “regarding biological differences between the sexes were so harmful, discriminatory, and disruptive” that they did not meet the protections guidelines for collective action in the workplace.

Damore withdrew his complaint in January as his lawyer Harmeet Dhillon stated that they were now focusing on Damore’s lawsuit against Google for discrimination against him and other employees with conservative political views.

When Damore was initially fired in August, he accused Google of violating his employee right to engage in “concerted activity” to address issues in the workplace, which includes a number of activities from lawsuits to social media posts. Jayme Sophir, the labor boards attorney, stated that “much of” Damore’s memo was protected under the law, but Google allegedly fired Damore for his “discriminatory statements,” which aren’t protected under labor law.

Majority of immigration law violations were previously convicted criminals

Eighty-eight percent of the 212 individuals arrested in the Los Angeles area this week for immigration law violations were previously convicted criminals.

Over the course of five days, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deportation officers and special agents made the arrests and served 122 notices of inspection (NOIs) to businesses in the Los Angeles area of responsibility. This is in addition to notices of inspection issued to 77 businesses in northern California just weeks ago.

One hundred and ninety-five of the 212 arrested included convicted criminals, those who failed to leave the United States after being issued a final order of removal, and those who returned to the U.S. after being removed.

More than 55 percent of those arrested were serious or violent felons or had been convicted on significant or multiple misdemeanors. Their crimes include child sex crimes, weapons charges, and assault.

ICE Deputy Director Thomas D. Homan remarked:  “Because sanctuary jurisdictions like Los Angeles prevent ICE from arresting criminal aliens in the secure confines of a jail, our officers are forced to conduct at-large arrests in the community, putting officers, the general public and the aliens at greater risk and increasing the incidents of collateral arrests.”

Fewer jail arrests mean more arrests on the street, and that also requires more resources, which is why we are forced to send additional resources to those areas to meet operational needs and officer safety. Consistent with our public safety mission, 88 percent of those arrested during this operation were convicted criminals.

Some of the 212 arrested this week will face federal criminal prosecution, while others will be processed for removal from the United States.


February 18 (Sunday): Day 30

Limbaugh:  Gun-free school zones mean attackers only ones armed

During the February 18 airing of Fox News Sunday Rush Limbaugh referenced the Florida shooting and observed that gun-free school zones mean that attackers are the only ones who are armed.

Limbaugh noted how bewildering it is that “we have armed security at virtually every public entity in this country, except schools. For some reason, they are a gun-free zone and everybody that wants to shoot up a school knows that they are going to be the only one armed.”

In other words, law-abiding teachers, staff, and administrators are unarmed, which means the person who enters campus to commit heinous acts need not fear armed resistance.

This gun-free scenario led Limbaugh to observe that school shootings will not end until we “get serious” about stopping them, and he painted a distressing picture of what our future holds until we do get serious:

The next shooter probably has the gun he is going to use. The next shooter is known by many people in his community who are concerned that this guy may do what everybody is afraid he’s going to do. …We can wish that it weren’t this way. We can wish that Congress could legislate it away. But they can’t.” He observed that student marches and “prayers and condolences” are not going to prevent another shooting either.

At Sandy Hook Elementary School (December 14, 2012), the gunman had over nine minutes to ply his sickening trade in the gun-free school. At Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (February 14, 2018), the gunman had three minutes, which is three minutes too long.

While vying for the presidency, Donald Trump campaigned on allowing teachers to be armed for self-defense. On October 8, 2016, The Washington Post quoted him saying, “I will get rid of gun-free zones on schools.”


February 19 (Monday):  Day 31

Actress takes sabbatical to help “fix our democracy”

Jennifer Lawrence in 2014

Hollywood A-lister Jennifer Lawrence says she’s taking a sabbatical from acting so she can help “fix our democracy. I’m going to take the next year off,”

Lawrence told Entertainment Tonight, explaining how she will work with a self-described anti-corruption nonprofit during her break from film. “I’m going to be working with this organization as a part of Represent.US… trying to get young people engaged politically on a local level. It doesn’t have anything to do with partisan [politics]. It’s just anti-corruption and stuff trying to pass state by state laws that can help prevent corruption, fix our democracy.”

The Hunger Games star hinted at her desire to take a break from acting last November, telling Elle magazine that she plans to trade the limelight for a farm and activism.  “I want to get a farm,” the Academy Award-winner told the lifestyle magazine. “I want to be, like, milking goats.”

The 27-year-old star is currently in the middle of a press tour for her upcoming spy thriller Red Sparrow, due out next month, which sees Lawrence as a ballerina–turned–spy. She’s filming her fourth turn as the shape-shifting mutant Mystique in X-Men: Dark Phoenix due out in November, and Lawrence has been tapped to take the starring role of billionaire tech entrepreneur Elizabeth Holmes in writer-director Adam McKay’s bio-drama Bad Blood.

A fierce critic of President Donald Trump, Lawrence is no stranger to political activism. In 2015, Lawrence said it would be the “end of the world” if Trump were elected. Last August she began to soften her tone and insisted that Americans with differing political views find a “bridge” between each other. “We can’t continue this divide and anger. There are issues affecting us as human beings, not as liberals and not as Republicans. We have to protect the foundation of this country, and acceptance,” Lawrence said in an interview with Vogue. “If you’re preaching acceptance, accept immigrants, accept Muslims, accept everybody.”

Lawrence was also among the dozens of Hollywood stars to sign a letter sent to Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) urging them to pass legal protection for DACA recipients. She also attended January’s Women’s March on the anniversary of President Donald Trump’s inauguration.

New Democrat enters California gubernatorial race

Amanda Renteria, Ballotpedia

Amanda Renteria, Hillary Clinton’s national political director for her 2016 presidential campaign, entered the Democrat-heavy gubernatorial race in California on Wednesday.

The longtime Democratic political operative’s sudden entrance into the packed race has raised some eyebrows and many questions. “It’s very strange for multiple reasons,” Gil Duran, Democratic campaign consultant, told Bay Area public radio station KQED. “For one thing, it’s extremely disrespectful to abandon your boss in the middle of an election to run for the office above his. I’ve never heard of anyone doing that.”

Renteria, who is originally from California’s Central Valley, left her position as chief of operations for Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “She’s gotten in so late it’s almost impossible to put together a credible campaign,” Democratic consultant Katie Merrill told the Fresno Bee.

According to KQED, “With the June primary election less than four months away, Renteria has raised no money, has little to no name recognition with voters, no endorsements and no clear path to victory.”

It might be possible for Renteria, who is Latina, to take a portion of Hispanic votes away from former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who is neck-and-neck in polls with Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. She is the daughter of Mexican immigrants.

In a previous video interview with the Fresno Bee, she said she felt a personal responsibility to counter Presidnet Donald Trump’s “demonization” of immigrants.

Renteria is the second female to gain notable media recognition in the race. Former public schools chief Delaine Eastin is the other.


February 20 (Tuesday):  Day 32

Trump cites Obama claim could even rig election

President Trump on Tuesday turned a 2016 quote from then-President Barack Obama against him in the ongoing battle over Russian interference in the election — claiming it shows Democrats are using the meddling as a belated “excuse” for losing. 

Trump cited remarks made by Obama at a press conference with then-Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi just weeks before the election, in which Obama advised then-candidate Trump to “stop whining” about potential election rigging.

“There is no serious person out there who would suggest somehow that you could even rig America’s elections, in part because they’re so decentralized and the numbers of votes involved…so I’d invite Mr. Trump to stop whining and make his case to get votes.” Obama said.

Trump tweeted that quote Tuesday morning, citing it as proof Democrats’ attitudes changed after he won the election.

“When I easily won the Electoral College, the whole game changed and the Russian excuse became the narrative of the Dems,” Trump tweeted shortly after the Obama quote was cited on ‘Fox & Friends.’“….The President Obama quote just before election. That’s because he thought Crooked Hillary was going to win and he didn’t want to “rock the boat.” When I easily won the Electoral College, the whole game changed and the Russian excuse became the narrative of the Dems.”

Obama was addressing Trump claims that voter fraud within the U.S. could affect the election, not Russian meddling. But Trump seized on the words Tuesday to put them into the current context of Russian election meddling.

Trump:  Attorney General to propose new gun regulations

While speaking on Tuesday, President Trump announced that he signed a memo “directing the attorney general to propose regulations to ban all devices that turn legal weapons into machine guns.”

Trump said, “After the deadly shooting in Las Vegas, I directed the attorney general to clarify whether certain bump stock devices, like the one used in Las Vegas, are illegal under current law. That process began in December. And just a few moments ago, I signed a memorandum directing the attorney general to propose regulations to ban all devices that turn legal weapons into machine guns. I expect that these critical regulations will be finalized, Jeff, very soon.”

Celebrities pledge money to student gun control march

Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, and Jeffrey and Marilyn Katzenberg joined George and Amal Clooney on Tuesday in pledging $500,000 to the student gun control “March for Our Lives.”

George Clooney told People magazine: “Amal and I are so inspired by the courage and eloquence of these young men and women from Stoneman Douglas High School. Our family will be there on March 24 to stand side by side with this incredible generation of young people from all over the country, and in the name of our children Ella and Alexander, we’re donating $500,000 to help pay for this groundbreaking event.”

Steven Spielberg said in a statement:  “The young students in Florida and now across the country are already demonstrating their leadership with a confidence and maturity that belies their ages. Kate and I applaud their efforts to take a stand for the benefit of this and future generations. They are an inspiration to us all, and we are joining in this movement with a donation of $500,000.”

Oprah Winfrey tweeted on Tuesday, “George and Amal, I couldn’t agree with you more. I am joining forces with you and will match your $500,000 donation to ‘March For Our Lives.’ These inspiring young people remind me of the Freedom Riders of the 60s who also said we’ve had ENOUGH and our voices will be heard.”

UC Berkeley student newspaper rejects anti-DACA editorial

The UC Berkeley student newspaper rejected an anti-DACA op-ed submission last week partially on the basis of its negative portrayal of “non-Western nations.”

UC Berkeley student and Vice President of the Berkeley College Republicans Naweed Tahmas was shocked when he learned last week that the Daily Californian, the university’s independent newspaper, had rejected his op-ed submission.

Tahmas’ column, entitled “The Founding Fathers Would Have Abhorred DACA,” was an argumentative essay in which Tahmas laid out why he is wary of immigration.

“Many of our Founding Fathers were extremely wary about immigrants who did not share their values coming to the United State. Hamilton on Broadway might be best-known for such zingers as “Immigrants… we get the job done!” but if the campus left knew Alexander Hamilton’s real views on immigration, they might not be so quick to sing his praises,” Tahmas continued.

“Foreigners,” Hamilton wrote in 1802, “will generally be apt to bring with them attachments to the persons they have left behind; to the country of their nativity, and to its particular customs and manners,” and that this “has often been likely to compromise the interests of our own country in favor of another.”

Text screenshots reveal that editors from the Daily Californian told Tahmas that his submission would be fact-checked and then edited only for minor grammar or style issues.

Assistant Opinion Editor Nicole Kim told Tahmas, “We appreciate you submitting an op-ed but after reading it, the points such as “immigrants have the power to subvert a nation to the interests of their own home country. Do you doubt it? Just look at how often certain Hispanic student groups wave the Mexican flag on our campus” and “we should do everything we can to prevent the sort of poverty and violence characteristic of most of the world outside the West from being transplanted here.”

“Not every submission is guaranteed to be published,” the guidelines read. “Op-eds that are deemed libelous, racist, sexist, homophobic or highly offensive in any other manner will not print. Content that does not meet our fact-checking standards will also not print. All content publishes at the discretion of the opinion editor. We reserve the right to edit all material in accordance with our editorial standards.”

PragerU:  Pro Life video restricted by YouTube

Conservative digital media organization PragerU tweeted that its latest YouTube video on Planned Parenthood had been restricted soon after it was posted.  “There are over 528,000 videos on YouTube on the subject of Planned Parenthood that are not restricted. However, our new video with @LilaGraceRose is.”  (Editor’s Note:  Watch the video on Facebook:

PragerU observed that, just hours after it was posted to Google-owned platform YouTube, a video that is narrated by Lila Rose, president of pro-life organization Live Action, was placed in “Restricted Mode.”

In the video, titled What You Need to Know about Planned Parenthood, Rose discusses “deceptions” generated by Planned Parenthood, including its claim to be a “healthcare provider,” and that abortion constitutes only three percent of its services.

Rose says Planned Parenthood is an organization that “is not involved in preserving life,” but “in ending it.  Planned Parenthood doesn’t help people plan for parenthood,” she continues. “It helps people escape it.”

In an online petition that has over 450,000 signatures, PragerU, which is run by talk show host Dennis Prager, states, “Conservative ideas are under attack,” and goes on to say that YouTube currently lists over 40 PragerU videos under “Restricted Mode.”


February 21 (Wednesday):  Day 33

Army honors three Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps killed in Florida

The U.S. Army is honoring three Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) cadets killed in the Florida high school shooting Wednesday with medals for heroism.

The U.S. Army announced Tuesday that Alaina Petty, Martin Duque, and Peter Wang—who were all students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and also served as cadets in the school’s JROTC program—would receive JROTC Heroism Medals for their acts of bravery during Wednesday’s shooting.

Army spokesman Michael Maddox said that Petty’s family had been presented with the award at her funeral Monday, and Wang’s family received the award during his funeral service Tuesday. Duque’s family will accept the medal at his funeral service Saturday.

More than 1,500 people attended Petty’s funeral service Monday. Wang’s family requested that he be laid to rest in his JROTC uniform at his funeral service Tuesday, according to an Army spokesperson. The 15-year-old was in his uniform when he was shot trying to help his classmates. “The JROTC Heroism medal will be on his uniform, but a second ‘keepsake’ medal,” will be given to the Wang family, Maddox said.

The Medal of Heroism is a U.S. military decoration awarded to JROTC cadets whose actions “involved the acceptance of danger and extraordinary responsibilities, exemplifying praiseworthy fortitude and courage,” according to the Army.

Nikolas Cruz, an ex-JROTC member, is accused of killing the three cadets when he opened fire at the school Wednesday. Seventeen people died in the shooting.

President Trump:  “The great Billy Graham is dead”

Rev. Billy Graham passed away at his home in North Carolina. He was 99-years- old. Graham suffered from pneumonia, prostate cancer, and Parkinson’s disease.

The world-famous evangelist preacher reached millions with his message of Christian forgiveness and developing a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Rev. Graham said, “My one purpose in life is to help people find a personal relationship with God, which, I believe, comes through knowing Christ.”

President Donald Trump remembered Graham as “a very special man. The GREAT Billy Graham is dead. There was nobody like him! He will be missed by Christians and all religions. A very special man.”

Vice President Pence called Graham “one of the greatest Americans of the century.  Karen and I were saddened to learn of the passing of one of the greatest Americans of the century, Reverend Billy Graham. We send our deepest condolences to the Graham family.”

Vice President Mike Pence remembered Graham’s legacy on Twitter.  “Billy Graham’s ministry for the gospel of Jesus Christ and his matchless voice changed the lives of millions. We mourn his passing but I know with absolute certainty that today he heard those words, “well done good and faithful servant. Thank you Billy Graham. God bless you.”

Family Research Council (FRC) President Tony Perkins commented on the passing of Christian evangelist Rev. Billy Graham, said “Billy Graham grew up in what most would consider humble, ordinary beginnings, but because he yielded himself to God, he was used to accomplish the extraordinary – forever impacting the lives of countless people.”

Perkins added, “In the face of naysayers, he chose to obey God rather than man, and he turned the world upside down. Billy Graham was empowered by a reverent fear of God – so much so that he overcame the seemingly insurmountable and took the Gospel to people and places thought virtually impossible. He even ventured to countries most hostile to Christianity, including North Korea and the Soviet Union. Dr. Graham’s deep faith in God overruled the fears of his time. He never failed to give glory to God and the power of prayer for his ministry’s success.”

Perkins recalled the ease with which Graham discussed current events as he also related them to “God’s timeless truths. A newspaper once described his preaching style as ‘holding the Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other,’” he said. “He knew how to relate the Gospel to the daily life experiences of his audience. This understanding of social trends led him to call attention to family breakdown and the consequences for future generations.”

Graham met with and gave spiritual counsel to United States presidents since Harry Truman.  In 2013, Donald Trump attended Graham’s 95th birthday.

Former President Jimmy Carter said in a statement that Graham “had an enormous influence on my own spiritual life.  Rosalynn and I are deeply saddened to learn of the death of The Reverend Billy Graham,” Carter said. “Tirelessly spreading a message of fellowship and hope, he shaped the spiritual lives of tens of millions of people worldwide. Broad-minded, forgiving, and humble in his treatment of others, he exemplified the life of Jesus Christ by constantly reaching out for opportunities to serve.”

President Ronald Reagan presented Graham with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1983.  He said:   “Reverend William “Billy” Graham’s untiring evangelism has spread the word of God to every corner of the globe, and made him one of the most inspirational spiritual leaders of the Twentieth Century. As a deeply committed Christian, his challenge to accept Jesus Christ has lifted the hearts, assuaged the sorrows and renewed the hopes of millions. Billy Graham is an American who lives first and always for his fellow citizens. In honoring him, we give thanks for God’s greatest spiritual gifts—faith, hope, and love.”

Former President George H.W. Bush referred to Graham as “America’s pastor” and recalled Graham visiting his family in Maine, where they would take boat rides and “talk about life.  His faith in Christ and his totally honest evangelical spirit inspired people across the country and around the world,” Bush said. “I think Billy touched the hearts of not only Christians, but people of all faiths, because he was such a good man. I was privileged to have him as a personal friend.” Bush added: “We will miss our good friend forever.”    

At a time when the nation mourned the 9/11 terror attacks, Graham delivered a sermon during the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance declared by President George W. Bush.

More than anyone else, Graham built evangelicalism into a force that rivaled liberal Protestantism and Roman Catholicism in the United States. He was a confidant to U.S. presidents from Gen. Dwight Eisenhower to George W. Bush.

In 1983, President Reagan gave Graham the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor. When the Billy Graham Museum and Library was dedicated in 2007 in Charlotte, former Presidents Bush, Carter and Bill Clinton attended.

Michigan church threatened because of sexual identity workshop for teens

From the moment Metro City Church announced a workshop for teenage girls struggling from peer pressure and questions about sexual identity, Jeremy Schossau, the lead pastor for the church with campuses in Riverview and Taylor, Michigan, said he and the congregation had faced “unbridled” hate and vitriol.

“Every kind of threat imaginable, from killing my family to burning down our church, has been leveled against us,” Schossau said at a press conference at the state capitol last week with other pastors and supporters. The latest threat came from a man who was arrested after threatening that Antifa would show up at the church. Brian Carl Begin II was arraigned Feb. 15 on misdemeanor charges.

“In the middle of the voicemail the male states if the church goes through with the gay conversion therapy class in the state of Michigan, I promise every member of the Antifa will show up ‘armed and ready. This is not a joke,’” the police told the News-Herald.

Protesters gathered at the church on the occasions of the six-week workshop — which has since been canceled — and the church has received a continuous stream of emails and voicemail claiming the aim of the course was “conversion therapy.”

The complaints and protest led two state legislators to speak out against the church, introduce a bill to make conversation therapy illegal in the state, and called on the attorney general’s office to investigate the congregation.

The News-Herald reported:  “State Rep. Darrin Camilleri (D-Brownstown Twp.) is speaking out against what he called a conversion therapy workshop being hosted by a Riverview church and is demanding a state investigation into the legality of it.

The Unashamed Identity Workshop is being hosted by Metro City Church, and provided by FORGE Ministries, for girls ages 12 to 16. The six-week course costs $200.

Camilleri’s colleague, state Rep. Adam Zemke (D-Ann Arbor), has introduced House Bill 5550 to prohibit mental health professionals from engaging in efforts to change the sexual orientation and gender identity of a minor. “It is wildly inappropriate to offer conversion therapy classes in our communities, and doing so is misrepresentative of our values as a welcoming state,” Zemke said.

The Democratic state lawmakers also sent a letter to Attorney General Bill Schuette “urging him to investigate FORGE Ministries and Metro City Church for a violation of the Michigan Consumer Protection Act. Specifically, whether FORGE Ministries and Metro City Church committed any unfair, unconscionable or deceptive practices,” the News-Herald reported.

But Schossau said at the press conference that the workshop was not about converting people but giving them a biblical perspective on “important issues.”

“People are saying this is conversion therapy,” Schossau said. “That cannot be further from the truth.  What we want is for people to be pointed to God’s word,” he said.

“In the culture in which we live in now we find kids wondering not only about sex itself but they’re wondering about their own sexual orientation,” Schossau said.

“They come to us because they trust us,” Schossau said, adding that the teenage girls who signed up for the workshop have been raised in the church. “They know this would be a place not for condemnation but for conversation,” Schossau said.

Moreover, Schossau said, the government should not be interfering with or investigating churches.

“We do not need the government to tell us what we can or cannot say,” Schossau said. “And we don’t need the government to tell us what kind of advice to give.”

And the church is now gaining support far beyond its neighborhood or state.

The Family Research Council, a Christian family advocacy group based in Washington, DC was represented at the press conference along with other pastors, and FRC has launched a petition to stop any investigation into the church that has garnered more than 14,000 signatures.

The petition reads:  “Dear Rep. Camilleri and Rep. Zemke, You recently demanded that your state Attorney General launch an investigation into Metro City Church of Riverview, Michigan and FORGE Ministries after the church offered “The Unashamed Identity” Workshop, a safe place for teenage girls to learn what the Bible teaches about sexuality.

“It is alarming that legislators, who have sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution, have attacked the free speech rights and free exercise of religion by a local church congregation, in direct violation of the First Amendment. Moreover, as government officials, for you to dictate what a local church must teach regarding its theology is totalitarian in nature, and is at the heart of what the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment was meant to prevent.

“I urge you to respect the freedom of this church to teach what the Bible says about human sexuality and withdraw your request for an unconstitutional government investigation into Metro City Church and FORGE Ministries.”

Ivanka Trump to lead U.S. delegation at games closing ceremony

Ivanka Trump, daughter, and adviser to President Donald Trump, arrives to view some of the final competitions and serve as the head of the U.S. delegation at the 2018 winter Olympics games’ closing ceremony on Sunday.

“All eyes are on any message Ivanka Trump might bring on behalf of her father, amid growing speculations of talks between Pyongyang and Washington following rare inter-Korean rapprochement,” the Korea Herald/Asia News Network reported.

“Her (Ivanka’s) visit comes two weeks after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sent his sister Kim Yo Jong for the opening ceremony of the winter games. On Feb. 10, Kim delivered the North Korean leader’s invitation for South Korean President Moon Jae In to visit Pyongyang.

The Daily Mail reported that South Korea will “roll out the red carpet” for Trump.

The Chosun Ilbo, a major South Korean newspaper, reported Monday that Trump, also a top White House adviser, will receive VIP treatment when she touches down on the peninsula on February 25,” the Mail reported.

“The government apparently wants to soften her up, so [President] Trump agrees to a mooted visit to Pyongyang by President Moon Jae-in,” the article in the English version of the paper said, according to the Mail.

A South Korean official was quoted in the article as saying President Moon might accompany Trump ahead of the closing ceremony. “Ivanka enjoys sports and especially skiing, so we are discussing having the president travel to Pyeongchang with her to watch a skiing competition,” a South Korean official said.

Moon and first lady Kim are expected to host either a lunch or dinner for Ivanka Trump before the closing ceremony, the Mail reported. Aside from niceties, which will reportedly include gifts for Trump’s three children, there will also be diplomatic efforts aimed at getting the official stamp of approval from the U.S. on a North Korea, South Korea summit.

“With Ivanka Trump, the South Koreans can try again,” the Mail reported, referring to Vice President Mike Pence’s rebuff of the head of North Korea’s propaganda department and sister to dictator Kim Jong Un, Kim Yo Jong. “Since President Trump cannot make it to Pyeongchang, Ivanka is his proxy and envoy,” one ruling-party official told Chosun Ilbo. ‘It’s important to win her support to realize an inter-Korean summit.’


February 22 (Thursday):  Day 34

President Trump threatens to pull ICE out of California

President Donald Trump threatened Thursday to pull the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency out of California to punish the state for what he called its efforts to shield criminal gang members in “sanctuary cities.”

Trump was addressing a meeting of state and local government leaders at the White House who had gathered to discuss how to improve safety and security at the nation’s schools, in the wake of the mass shooting last week at the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

After praising the work of Attorney General Jeff Sessions in fighting against gangs, Trump addressed the question of opposition form the State of California directly: “They [the MS-13 gang] actually have franchises going to Los Angeles. We’re getting no help from the State of California. I mean, frankly, if I wanted to pull our people from California, you would have a crime mess like you’ve never seen in California. All I’d have to do is say, “ICE and Border Patrol, let California alone.

“You’d be inundated — you would see crime like no one has ever seen crime in this country. And yet, we get no help from the State of California. They are doing a lousy management job. They have the highest taxes in the nation, and they don’t know what’s happening out there. Frankly, it’s a disgrace. The “sanctuary city” situation, the protection of these horrible criminals — you know it, because you’re working on it — the protection of these horrible criminals in California, and other places, but in California, that if we ever pulled our ICE out, and we ever said, “Let California alone, let them figure it out for themselves,” in two months, they’d be begging for us to come back. They would be begging. And you know what? I am thinking about doing it.”

Former San Francisco Mayor attacks Kamala Harris on DACA stance

Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown suggested that Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) cares more about leading the 2020 resistance movement than so-called Dreamers. In his San Francisco Chronicle column over the weekend, Brown said Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) vote in favor of an amnesty compromise bill sponsored by Sens. Angus King (I-ME) and Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Harris’s vote against it last week represented a Democratic Party that is splitting into competing factions.

Brown said the bill’s concessions, which included barring the parents of DACA recipients from becoming citizens and allocating $25 billion for a border wall in exchange for giving DACA recipients a pathway to citizenship, were “actually not as bad as what President Trump wants.” Groups like Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s pro-amnesty even backed the bill.

“For Feinstein, this was all about practicality — she wanted to get something done for Dreamers, even if that meant accepting some provisions she didn’t agree with. It was totally in keeping with the Clintonian philosophy of the Democratic Party as it existed when Feinstein arrived in the Capitol in the 1990s,” Brown continued. “Harris represents the post-2016 Democratic Party, one that’s more interested in energizing the base and recruiting new constituencies than looking for a spot in the middle.”

When Harris was one of three Democrats who voted “no” on the King-Rounds compromise, a staffer for a Senate Democrat went to Politico and ripped her for thinking more about potential caucus-goers in Iowa instead of so-called Dreamers. “If Sen. Harris tries to use this ‘no’ vote to get to the left of her colleagues in Iowa … she’ll be rightly and roundly pummeled for it. Some Democrats fought for Dreamers today, others fought for themselves,” the frustrated staffer for the Senate Democrat said.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA)

Ben Shapiro:  “Era of political correctness is over”

Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro on Thursday told activists that the “era of political correctness is over” in the age of Donald Trump as president, while encouraging conservatives to fight liberalism with the “truth.” “The era of political correctness is over,” Shapiro said at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference outside Washington. “Political correctness is dying a slow, painful, bloody, agonizing death. And all I can say is hell, yeah.”

Like other speakers here, Shapiro addressed the recent school shooting in Florida, and accused the media of unfairly treating conservative views on guns. He asked the audience to raise their hands if they care about the people murdered in Parkland, Fla. He also asked them to raise their hands if they believe in Second Amendment rights. “See, both things can go together, media,” Shapiro said.

At one point during his speech, Shapiro celebrated Trump’s defeat of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential race and the crowd began chanting “lock her up, lock her up.” Shapiro went on to encourage the young conservatives in the audience to stay truthful when debating liberals. “There’s nothing wrong with poking fun at the left,” he said. “Just make sure that what you say can be backed up with evidence.” Shapiro added: “We need to show that they are liars and we are the truth tellers. And that means telling the truth about everything. It means that when our own side fails, we have to call it out.”

College campuses criticized at CPAC

CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) known for attracting a large number of college students, also held a panel on liberal bias on college campuses titled “Kim Jong Un-iversity: How college campuses are turning into reeducation camps.”

Marcus Fotenos of the group Turning Point USA said of university professors: “What’s really sad is they don’t value reason or truth….how do we operate in an environment where they don’t value reason?”

Grant Strobl of Young America’s Foundation told the story of how, at the University of Michigan, he requested to be called “His Majesty” after the school allowed students to change their personal pronouns to whatever they’d like. “This policy is insane,” he said.


February 23 (Friday): Day 35

Nancy Pelosi keeps calling American tax savings as “crumbs”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) tripled down on calling the GOP’s recently enacted tax cuts “crumbs” after multiple Democrats warned her this week that doing so could make Democrats look like “patricians” to working-class voters and hurt the party’s chances of taking back Congress.

Vice President Mike Pence slammed Pelosi for being “out of touch” at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). “She keeps saying that the $1,000 bonus for working Americans is nothing more than crumbs,” Pence said. “I mean, seriously folks, when our kids were little, we had a term for another $1,000 in our paycheck at the end of the year—Christmas. It would be a disaster for our cause if Nancy Pelosi became Speaker of the House again,” Pence told the crowd. “We will not let that happen”

After being heckled at a town hall event in Arizona this week about her net worth, Pelosi told the Arizona Republic that she did not have any second thoughts about calling the tax cuts “crumbs.” When the Republic asked her whether she regretted comparing the tax cuts to crumbs, Pelosi said, “oh, no.” She added that “Republicans provided a great banquet for the high end” and working-class Americans got “crumbs compared to the banquet.”

As Politico reported, Democrats have become increasingly concerned that Pelosi, who also said the tax cuts would lead to “armageddon,” continues describing the tax cuts as “crumbs” to middle-class voters who are benefiting from them.

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) told Politico that he would not refer to the tax cuts as “crumbs” and a lot of Blue-Dog Democrats would not do so either. Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY) told the outlet: “I think for people making $40,000 a year, any increase in their take-home is significant for them, and I don’t want to diminish that at all.” And Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) warned Pelosi that Democrats cannot be seen as out-of-touch “patricians.” Language is important, and we have to be very careful that we don’t insult people by saying that the amount of money they get is crumbs,” Cleaver reportedly told Politico. “We cannot be seen as patricians.”

A recent New York Times poll found that a majority now support the GOP’s tax cuts, with 51% in favor. Just 37% supported the tax cuts in December before Americans started seeing the benefits in their paychecks. The poll also found that 89% of Republicans supported the tax cuts and even some Democrats are warming up to the tax cuts. An independent voter who supports Democrats told the Times that though she was initially skeptical of the tax cuts, she supported them after the tax cuts helped her husband’s business.

California GOP legislators demand new reservoirs

California Republican state legislators showed up to the California Water Commission (CWC) this week to demand that $2.7 billion of Proposition 1 Water Bonds be spent to build new reservoirs.

California Assembly Republican Minority Leader Brian Dahle (R-Bieber) presented the CWC with a children’s red wagon stacked high with petitions signed by 4,000 registered voters demanding that the Democrat-controlled CWC accelerate building new above-ground water storage, which had been agreed to in exchange for for Republican bipartisan support for the $7.5 billion Proposition 1 water bond.

Under the arrangement made in 2014, Republicans were promised that $2.7 billion of the $7.5 billion bond issue would be available to fund the state’s first new reservoirs to be built in 40 years.

However, the CWC denied all 12 of the proposed new reservoirs, because each projects’ cost/benefit scores were under 1, meaning that the construction costs would supposedly exceed each reservoir’s benefit value.

The blanket CWC rejection of above ground storage came as a shock to Republicans, because the California Bond Accountability website reported that the CWC had already approved about $3.97 billion of Prop 1 spending on an array of Democrat-proposed ecosystem enhancements, watershed restorations, and new groundwater storage projects.

Republicans have been emphasizing that new reservoirs are crucial, because California may already be in a new drought. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor’s report as of Feb. 20, about 92 percent of the state is abnormally dry, and 20 percent is in severe drought.

The CWC will not issue its final scores for costs and benefits regarding above-ground water storage reservoirs until their July 24 meeting in Sacramento.

Mount Shasta Reservoir

Four Broward County Sheriff deputies waited outside during shooting

A report released Friday claims four of Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel’s deputies waited outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School while the attack was occurring.

On February 22 one deputy resigned after it was learned that he was on scene but failed to control Nikolas Cruz. Sheriff Israel told ABC 13 that video shows the deputy, Scott Peterson, “arrive at the west side of Building 12” and “take a position” outside the school — but never go inside. The sheriff’s office moved to suspend Peterson, who resigned before the suspension could take place.

Now CNN reports that the Coral Springs police officers claim three other Broward County deputies were outside the school but failed to go inside as well. They quote “Coral Springs sources” who said the three “deputies had their pistols drawn and were behind their vehicles” when Coral Springs officers arrived. They said “not one of [the deputies] had gone into the school.”

The sources indicate other Broward County deputies arrived on scene, and two of those new arrivals joined with Coral Springs officers and entered the building.

The sources said, “Coral Springs police were stunned and upset that the four original Broward County Sheriff’s deputies who were first on the scene did not appear to join them as they entered the school.”

The American Center for Law and Justice chief counsel Jay Sekulow said on his Friday radio show:  “We are seeing multiple failures by law enforcement.  Law enforcement agencies, the FBI and now local law enforcement agencies did not do their jobs.  The Broward County Sheriff wrongly deflected criticism by blaming the absence of gun control for the shooting while they did virtually nothing.  They knew this on the day of the shooting but they did not want to change the narrative.”

Second accuser says CNN only interested in gun control narrative

A second accuser has come forward to say that CNN is only interested in interviewing those willing to “espouse a certain narrative” in favor of gun control.

On Thursday night, Fox News’s Laura Ingraham spoke with Andrew Klein, the father of one of students who survived last week’s school shooting massacre in Parkland, Florida.

Ingraham pointed out that  CNN’s Wednesday night townhall event was one-sided. The questioners were all anti-gun, all opposed the NRA, and launched venomous personal attacks against Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch.

Jake Tapper, the anti-Trump/anti-gun pundit who moderated the spectacle, also had an audience of thousands who all appeared to be rabidly anti-gun — going so far as to boo a rape victim as Tapper remained silent.

Klein informed Ingraham that his experience with CNN was similar to that of Colton Haab, the shooting survivor and JROTC member being hailed as a hero for leading his fellow students to safety during the massacre. Haab has  claimed that he dropped out of the townhall event after CNN demanded he read one of their scripted questions. Haab wanted to ask about school security. On three separate occasions now, CNN has publicly called Haab a liar.

Klein said of CNN’s one-sided townhall: “Laura, that’s not surprising at all. I actually spoke to a CNN producer on Thursday, the day after the shooting,” he said, adding, “and the producer insinuated to me they were looking for people who were willing to espouse a certain narrative, which was taking the tragedy and turning it into a policy debate; and I read that as being a gun control debate.

“The producer said we are looking for people who want to talk about the policy implications about what happened in terms of — she didn’t mention guns —  the policy implications for preventing mass shootings.”

President Trump at CPAC:  “We have got seven years to go”

President Donald Trump energized conservative activists at CPAC on Friday, celebrating his accomplishments during his first year in office. “Hey, we have got seven years to go, folks!” Trump told the audience who cheered wildly at CPAC on Friday. The president arrived with a prepared speech but quickly abandoned the teleprompters in favor of a free-wheeling address.

Trump’s arrival thrilled the crowd who waited hours to get in for Trump’s speech. CPAC president Matt Schlapp said it was the biggest audience in history. “I think now we’ve proved that I’m a conservative,” Trump said. The speech quickly turned into a dynamic rally-style speech as Trump drew energy from the audience.

Trump got serious when he discussed the Florida school shooting, detailing his plan to allow trained teachers to use concealed guns in schools. “A teacher would have shot the hell out of him before he knew what happened,” he said, referring to the school.

The appearance lasted over an hour, as Trump spoke about his accomplishments in office —  tax cuts, jobs, nominating conservative judges, and improving the economy. Without mentioning Sen. John McCain by name, Trump pointed out that the Arizona senator was the single biggest reason that the Republican party failed to repeal Obamacare.

Trump urged activists to re-energize for the midterms, warning that they were facing tough elections — and the historic nature of the party in power losing the congressional majority. “Right now, we have a big race coming up in ’18. You have to get out. You have to just get that enthusiasm,” he said. “Keep it going.”

Trump promised to keep fighting for his supporters in the White House. “I will let you know in the absolute strongest of terms, we’re going to make America great again, and I will never, ever, ever let you down,” he said.


Michael Hernandez, Co-Founder of the Citizens Journal—Ventura County’s online news service, founder of History Makers International—a community nonprofit serving youth and families in Ventura County, is a former Southern California daily newspaper journalist and religion and news editor.  He has worked 23 years as a middle school teacher.   Mr. Hernandez can be contacted by email:  [email protected].

Mr. Hernandez is dedicated himself to advance the 13 spheres—as a “City Upon A Hill”; developing an interactive California citizens news platform as an alternative to mainstream media; while building local school-community partnerships and supporting constitutional awareness and active citizenship.

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