Have you heard the latest? The Internal Revenue Service has entered into a secret deal with an atheist group to monitor pastors all over America and squelch their political speech!
That’s the latest paranoid fantasy from the Religious Right. The truth, as is often the case, is much more mundane.
Before we get to the meat of things, some background: A lot of us in the separation of church and state community have been frustrated over the blatant partisan political activity that some churches (on the right and the left) engage in.
Non-profit, tax-exempt organizations that hold 501 (c)(3) status aren’t permitted to endorse or oppose candidates. It’s a violation of federal law. Groups holding this status (which includes houses of worship) can address political issues, but they can’t shill for or against candidates. In short, they are not allowed to act like political action committees.
The IRS hasn’t exactly been aggressive in enforcing this law when it comes to houses of worship. The situation got worse in 2009 when an evangelical church in Minnesota that was being investigated for politicking sued the IRS to block the tax agency’s plan to audit it.
The church cited a federal law that requires all church audits to be approved by a “high-ranking” IRS official. The IRS official who approved this audit, the church argued, did not meet this requirement.
The church won in court. All church audits and investigations for politicking were brought to a screeching halt as the IRS announced plans to reorganize and formulate new church-audit procedures.
The CEO of a large Stamford catering company has people calling for his job after he was caught on camera allegedly abusing a young dog inside an elevator.
The ugly incident took place inside a downtown Vancouver hotel, and sparked a BC SPCA investigation after Desmond Hague was seen repeatedly kicking a cowering Doberman pinscher puppy and pulling it violently by its leash, according to Canada’s Global News.
Hague said in his apology that the dog wasn’t his, and that he was pet-sitting for a friend when the pooch, named Sade, caused him to “lose control” after a “minor frustration.”
ADDITIONAL VIDEO AT LINK.
Now, Elam E-mailed the almost 200 people planning to come to his June conference in Detroit — a fading industrial city chosen because it represented “masculinity” — to warn them to be on their very best behavior. Anyone “trash-talking women” or “making violent statements, even jokingly” would be summarily thrown out, he warned. Enemies of the men’s rights movement, Elam continued, “will be looking for anything they can to hurt us with. They will be listening, eavesdropping, and if they can, gathering things to harm us with.” The man who two years ago was posting photos of women who had committed “offenses against men” and vowing to “fuck their shit up” even told arriving conference-goers that his goal was to “build bridges between men and women instead of walls.”
That didn’t sound too much like the Paul Elam who has emerged as probably the best-known men’s rights activist in the United States. It wasn’t long ago that he declared October to be “Bash a Violent Bitch Month,” explaining, “I mean literally to grab them by the hair and smack their face against the wall.” Elsewhere, he asserted that many women who are raped asked for it, saying “women who act provocatively; who taunt men sexually, toying with their libidos for personal power and gain, etc., have the same type of responsibility for what happens to them as, say, someone who parks their car in a bad neighborhood with the keys in the ignition.”
“A lot of women,” he continued, “get pummeled and pumped because they are stupid (and often arrogant) enough to walk through life with the equivalent of a I’M A STUPID, CONNIVING BITCH — PLEASE RAPE ME neon sign glowing above their empty little narcissistic heads.” Elam has misleadingly cited certain research to make the claim that 40% to 50% of rape allegations are false. But the best scholarly studies show that between about 2% and 8% of such allegations are actually false — a rate that is comparable for false allegations of most other violent crimes.
In the end, Elam’s conference was in fact relatively subdued, although he claimed he had to spend $25,000 on security because of death threats from the movement’s enemies. Most of the speakers — almost all of whom had made far worse comments in other venues — kept their vitriol to a minimum. Some, like the speaker discussing men’s grief, even contributed some useful ideas.
More: ‘War on Women’
South Korean electronics giants Samsung and LG have gone head-to-head by unveiling new smartwatches on the same day - but Samsung is leading the way in terms of new features by adding 3G connectivity to allow you to make and receive phone calls without a smartphone.
The Samsung Gear S offers mobile data without the need for a smartphone connected via Bluetooth.
This allows notifications from social networks like Facebook and Twitter, calendars and applications, even when you are nowhere near your phone. You can also receive SMS and easily send replies using the onscreen keyboard or voice recognition.
It also means that you can make and receive calls directly from your wrist, as well as getting calls forwarded from your smartphone.
Bribed by Ron Paul?
Former Iowa state Senator Kent Sorenson on Wednesday pleaded guilty to accepting bribes to drop his campaign for 2012 presidential candidate Michele Bachmann.
Sorenson, a top aide for Bachmann’s campaign at the time, admitted he concealed the money he received from Texas Representative Ron Paul’s campaign to switch his support. He pleaded guilty to causing a federal campaign committee submit a false expenditure report and obstruction of justice, StarTribune detailed.
The former Iowa senator said he backed one campaign for the 2012 presidential race. However, beginning October up to December 2011, he admitted that he secretly negotiated with a second party to switch his support in exchange for US$73,000, a Justice Department document said.
To Serve and Entertain?
Bryce Dion, a Massachusetts native and an audio supervisor for the television show “Cops,” was shot and killed by police gunfire during a shootout with a suspect in Nebraska.
Dion, 38, and another crew member were riding with Omaha police when the officers responded to the scene of an armed robbery at a fast food restaurant. When the suspect began firing his weapon, police responded with gunfire of their own.
According to WCVB, the suspect was hit but fled the restaurant. As police continued to fire at the suspect, Dion was hit by a bullet fired by one of the officers and died. The report said that Dion, who was raised in Lawrence and whose family now lives in Haverhill, was hit in the arm and that the bullet then “slipped into a gap” in his bullet proof vest and went into his chest.
- Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says Russia has sent troops to eastern Ukraine.
- Mr Poroshenko cancelled a trip to Turkey and called urgent meetings of officials to consider Ukraine's response.
- The accusation came as pro-Russian rebels seized control of Novoazovsk in the south-east, threatening to take the port of Mariupol next.
- Alexander Zakharchenko, a pro-Russian rebel leader in eastern Ukraine, said 3-4,000 Russian citizens were fighting with the rebels.
- The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe is holding urgent talks on the crisis.
There’s a tune that you’ve probably heard throughout your life. It’s nine notes long, and it’s almost always used to signal that something vaguely Asian is happening or is about to happen.
You know what I’m talking about. The tune’s most prominent role is probably in that 1974 song, “Kung Fu Fighting.” It comes in right as Carl Douglas is singing that anthemic “Oh-hoh-hoh-hoah.”
(Just for funsies, here are some of the song’s lyrics: “There was funky China men from funky Chinatown/ They were chopping them up/ They were chopping them down/ It’s an ancient Chinese art/ And everybody knew their part.”)
It was in The Vapors’ “Turning Japanese.” It was in every cat lover’s childhood favorite, The Aristocats. (Yes, before you even ask, it was in the outlandishly racist Siamese cat scene.) It even made an appearance in Super Mario Land.
“Everyone had a different opinion about Ahmed,” says Layla, a Yemeni-American waitress at the cafe who asked that we only use her first name to protect her privacy. “Everyone said that he went to Syria, he went to go fight, stuff like that. And then they said he went to Yemen. And then everybody was suddenly looking for him.”
The “everyone” she was referring to was the New York Police Department.
Both local and federal officials have been tracking Americans who have left to join the fight in Syria over the past couple of years. At least 140 U.S. passport holders are thought to have gone to Syria and Iraq since the civil war began in 2011. Officials said that number was at about 60 people at the beginning of the year, so the uptick has officials trying to puzzle out what is causing the increase.
While there has been a focus recently on the militant group that calls itself the Islamic State, U.S. officials are also concerned about a roster of other rebel fighting forces. As the civil war in Syria has ground on, even moderate groups have grown increasingly Islamist and anti-American.
Is any comment necessary?