Justice Dept. Defends Seizure of Phone Records

usa-media-justice

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Tuesday defended the Justice Department’s sweeping seizure of telephone records of Associated Press journalists, describing the article by The A.P. that prompted a criminal investigation as among “the top two or three most serious leaks that I’ve ever seen” in a 35-year career.

“It put the American people at risk, and that is not hyperbole,” he said in an apparent reference to an article on May 7, 2012, that disclosed the foiling of a terrorist plot by Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen to bomb an airliner. “And trying to determine who was responsible for that, I think, required very aggressive action.”

In a statement in response, The A.P.’s president and chief executive, Gary Pruitt, disputed that the publication of the article endangered security.

“We held that story until the government assured us that the national security concerns had passed,” he said. “Indeed, the White House was preparing to publicly announce that the bomb plot had been foiled.” Mr. Pruitt said the article was important in part because it refuted White House claims that there had been no Qaeda plots around the first anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden.

At a news conference at the Justice Department, Mr. Holder also disclosed that he recused himself last year from overseeing the case after F.B.I. agents interviewed him as part of their investigation. His deputy, James M. Cole, approved the subpoena seeking call records for 20 office and personal phone lines of A.P. reporters and editors.

Mr. Pruitt disclosed the seizure of the phone records on Monday in a letter to Mr. Holder protesting the action as overly broad and “a serious interference with A.P.’s constitutional rights to gather and report the news.”

But in a letter to The A.P. on Tuesday, Mr. Cole portrayed the search as justified and disputed a detail in the wire service’s account of the Justice Department action. While the news organization had said that records from “a full two-month period” had been taken, Mr. Cole said that the seizure covered only “a portion” of two calendar months.

“We understand your position that these subpoenas should have been more narrowly drawn, but in fact, consistent with Department policy, the subpoenas were limited in both time and scope,” he wrote. He added that “there was a basis to believe the numbers were associated with A.P. personnel involved in the reporting of classified information. The subpoenas were limited to a reasonable period of time and did not seek the content of any calls.”

The dispute centered on an ambiguous description in the original notice to The A.P., which an employee of the news organization said was sent as an attachment to an e-mail on May 10 from Jonathan M. Malis, a federal prosecutor, to several A.P. employees.

The attached letter, the employee said, consisted of a single sentence citing the Justice Department regulation for obtaining journalists’ telephone records, and saying that The A.P. “is hereby notified that the United States Department of Justice has received toll records from April and May 2012 in response to subpoenas issued” for 20 phone numbers in five area codes and three states.

The regulation requires subpoenas for reporters’ tolling records — logs of calls made and received — to be narrowly focused and undertaken only after other ways of obtaining information are exhausted. Under normal circumstances, news organizations are to be notified ahead of time so they can negotiate or ask a judge to quash the subpoena, but the regulation allows exceptions, in which case journalists must be notified no later than 90 days afterward.

Mr. Cole said the department had undertaken “a comprehensive investigation” before seeking the phone records, including more than 550 interviews and a review of “tens of thousands of documents.” The calling records, he added, “have been closely held and reviewed solely for the purposes of this ongoing criminal investigation” and would not be used in any other case.

The A.P. on Tuesday was still examining whether any telephone companies had tried to challenge the subpoena on its behalf before cooperating. But at least two of the journalists’ personal cellphone records were provided to the government by Verizon Wireless without any attempt to obtain permission to tell them so the reporters could ask a court to quash the subpoena, the employee said. Debra Lewis, a Verizon Wireless spokeswoman, said the company “complies with legal processes for requests for information by law enforcement,” but would not comment on any specific case.

Lucy Dalglish, dean of the journalism school at the University of Maryland, criticized the Justice Department’s broad seizure of phone records, saying it would chill the ability of reporters to report the news. The subpoena came against the backdrop of six prosecutions of officials in leak-related cases under President Obama — twice the number prosecuted under all previous presidents combined.

“The message is loud and clear that if you work for the federal government and talk to a reporter that we will find you,” she said.

Jay Carney, a White House spokesman, on Tuesday reiterated that the White House had no involvement in the subpoena and portrayed Mr. Obama as “a strong defender of the First Amendment and a firm believer in the need for the press to be unfettered in its ability to conduct investigative reporting and facilitate a free flow of information.”

Justice Department regulations do not cover information about journalists’ e-mails. But the A.P. employee said the company operates its own internal e-mail server and had determined that the e-mails were not subpoenaed and no one at The A.P. had supplied information about them to the government.

One unanswered question is why investigators seized phone logs for The A.P.’s bureau in Hartford in addition to its New York and Washington offices. One of the reporters who worked on the bomb plot article, Matt Apuzzo, formerly worked in Hartford but moved to another bureau in 2005.

The leak investigation involving The A.P. is being run by Ronald C. Machen Jr., the United States attorney for the District of Columbia. In June, amid a Congressional uproar over disclosures in the news media of national security information, Mr. Holder assigned Mr. Machen and his counterpart in Maryland to lead two leak investigations.

The other investigation is believed to be focusing on disclosures made by David E. Sanger, a New York Times journalist, in a book and in articles in The Times about a joint American-Israeli effort to sabotage Iranian nuclear centrifuges with computer viruses. The Justice Department has declined to say whether it has issued a similar subpoena in that case, and Mr. Holder would not say on Tuesday if he is also recused from that investigation.

The May 2012 A.P. article disclosed that the Central Intelligence Agency had foiled a plot by the Qaeda branch in Yemen to destroy an airliner using an underwear bomb the government by then had in its possession. The next day, The Los Angeles Times and several other news organizations, including The New York Times, reported that theintended attacker had been a double agent.

By then, officials said, the double agent, who had reported to British, Saudi and American intelligence, had left Yemen and was not in danger. But both American and foreign intelligence officials were furious at the disclosures, which they said alerted terrorists prematurely that the plot was compromised and might discourage potential agents from working against Al Qaeda.

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Israel Hints at New Strikes, Warning Syria Not to Hit Back

DamascusSyriaDestruction

WASHINGTON – A senior Israeli official signaled on Wednesday that Israel was considering further military strikes on Syria to stop the transfer of advanced weapons to Islamic militants, and he warned the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, that his government would face crippling consequences if it retaliated against Israel.

The Israeli official said: “Israel is determined to continue to prevent the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah. The transfer of such weapons to Hezbollah will destabilize and endanger the entire region.”

“If Syrian President Assad reacts by attacking Israel, or tries to strike Israel through his terrorist proxies,” the official said, “he will risk forfeiting his regime, for Israel will retaliate.”

The Israeli official, who has been briefed by high-level officials on the Syria situation in the past two days, declined to be identified, citing the need to protect internal Israeli deliberations. He contacted The New York Times on Wednesday.

The precise motives for Israel’s warning were uncertain: Israel could be trying to restrain Syria’s behavior without undertaking further military action, or alerting other countries to another strike. That would ratchet up the tension in an already fraught situation in Syria, where a civil war has been raging for more than two years.

Nearly two weeks ago, Israeli warplanes carried out two strikes, the first hitting bases of the elite Republican Guard and storehouses of long-range missiles, in addition to a military research center that American officials have called the country’s main chemical weapons site.

A more limited strike on May 3 at Damascus International Airport was also meant to destroy weapons being sent from Iran to the Islamic militant group Hezbollah. The Israeli government did not confirm either of the attacks, which followed one earlier this year.

The Syrian government publicly condemned Israel for the assaults, saying it “opened the door to all possibilities.” The Syrian deputy foreign minister, Faisal Mekdad, declared in an interview with Agence France-Presse, “We will respond immediately and harshly to any additional attack by Israel.” He described the Israeli strikes as a “declaration of war.”

Mr. Assad and Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, have both said in recent days that the Israeli-Syrian border, which has been relatively quiet despite the more than two years of civil war inside Syria, could become a “resistance front,” in response to Israeli aggression.

On Wednesday, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that several mortar shells, fired from across the Syrian border, had landed in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. The newspaper attributed the information to an official with the Israel Defense Forces.

The shells landed on Mount Hermon, in the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, around 6 a.m. Wednesday. The rockets were the latest in a series of what Israel has generally considered errant fire from internal Syrian fighting across the armistice line that landed in its territory, and did not cause any injuries or damage. Israel did not fire back on Wednesday, as it has on several previous occasions, but the incident did cause the closing of Mount Hermon, a popular tourist site, to the public for several hours, during a Jewish holiday in which hiking in the Golan is popular.

In his comments, the Israeli official noted that “Israel has so far refrained from intervening in Syria’s civil war and will maintain this policy as long as Assad refrains from attacking Israel directly or indirectly.”

“Israel,” he said, “will continue its policy of interdicting attempts to strengthen Hezbollah, but will not intercede in the Syrian civil war as long as Assad desists from direct or indirect attacks against Israel.”

Mark Regev, a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, declined to discuss the meaning of the Israeli official’s statement. “We’re not going to comment on the story,” he said.

American and Israeli political analysts agree that Israel has little motive to intervene in Syria’s civil war, but is deeply concerned about the transfer of advanced weapons, as well as the danger that Mr. Assad’s stockpiles of chemical weapons could be used against Israel.

<nyt_correction_bottom>

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: May 15, 2013

An earlier version of this article misspelled the surname of Hassan Nasrallah.

 

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Becoming – Our Daily Bread – May 14, 2013

prayer1I grew up in a small town. No famous people. No busy streets. Not much to do. Yet I’ve always been thankful for my quiet, uncomplicated upbringing.

One evening when my husband and I were attending a business dinner, a new acquaintance asked me where I was from. When I told her, she said, “Aren’t you embarrassed to admit it?”

Unsure whether or not she was joking, I simply said, “No.”

Although my town was sometimes belittled for its lack of sophistication, it was not lacking in things that matter. My family was part of a church community in which parents brought up children “in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4).

Jesus also grew up in a small town: Nazareth. A man named Nathanael asked, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46). Jesus proved that the answer is yes. Even though He grew up in an insignificant place, He was the most significant person in all of history.

Experience taught me and Scripture confirms that what matters is not where you grow up but how you grow up. Sometimes we feel insignificant compared to sophisticated people from prominent places. But we are significant to God, and He can make us strong in spirit and filled with His wisdom.

O teach me what it cost You, Lord,
To make a sinner whole;
And help me understand anew
The value of one soul! —Anon.
What we become is more important than where we’re from.

Verse of the Day – Covenant renewed – Exodus 34:27 – 28 – May 14, 2013

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And the Lord said to Moses, “Write these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” So he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights. He neither ate bread nor drank water. And he  wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments. 

Exodus 34:27 – 28 – English Standard Version (ESV)

 

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Daily Bible Reading – English Standard Version – May 14, 2013

 

Jesus scriptures temple2

 

 

Paul Speaks to the People

 37 As Paul was about to be brought into the barracks, he said to the tribune, “May I say something to you?” And he said, “Do you know Greek? 38 Are you not the Egyptian, then, who recently stirred up a revolt and led the four thousand men of the Assassins out into the wilderness?” 39 Paul replied, “I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no obscure city. I beg you, permit me to speak to the people.” 40 And when he had given him permission, Paul, standing on the steps, motioned with his hand to the people. And when there was a great hush, he addressed them in the Hebrew language, saying:

 1 “Brothers and fathers, hear the defense that I now make before you.” 2 And when they heard that he was addressing them in the Hebrew language, they became even more quiet. And he said: 3 “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated at the feet of Gamalielaccording to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as all of you are this day. 4 I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women, 5 as the high priest and the whole council of elders can bear me witness. From them I received letters to the brothers, and I journeyed toward Damascus to take those also who were there and bring them in bonds to Jerusalem to be punished. 6 “As I was on my way and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone around me. 7 And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ 8 And I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’ 9 Now those who were with me saw the light but did not understand the voice of the one who was speaking to me. 10 And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Rise, and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do.’ 11 And since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me, and came into Damascus. 12 “And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, 13 came to me, and standing by me said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that very hour I received my sight and saw him. 14 And he said, ‘The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth; 15 for you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’ 17 “When I had returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance 18 and saw him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about me.’ 19 And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves know that in one synagogue after another I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you. 20 And when the blood of Stephen your witness was being shed, I myself was standing by and approving and watching over the garments of those who killed him.’ 21 And he said to me, ‘Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.'”

Paul and the Roman Tribune

 22 Up to this word they listened to him. Then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth! For he should not be allowed to live.” 23 And as they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air, 24 the tribune ordered him to be brought into the barracks, saying that he should be examined by flogging, to find out why they were shouting against him like this. 25 But when they had stretched him out for the whips, Paul said to the centurion who was standing by, “Is it lawful for you to flog a man who is a Roman citizen and uncondemned?” 26 When the centurion heard this, he went to the tribune and said to him, “What are you about to do? For this man is a Roman citizen.” 27 So the tribune came and said to him, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?” And he said, “Yes.” 28 The tribune answered, “I bought this citizenship for a large sum.” Paul said, “But I am a citizen by birth.” 29 So those who were about to examine him withdrew from him immediately, and the tribune also was afraid, for he realized that Paul was a Roman citizen and that he had bound him.

 

Micah and the Levite

 1 There was a man of the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Micah. 2 And he said to his mother, “The 1,100 pieces of silver that were taken from you, about which you uttered a curse, and also spoke it in my ears, behold, the silver is with me; I took it.” And his mother said, “Blessed be my son by the LORD.” 3 And he restored the 1,100 pieces of silver to his mother. And his mother said, “I dedicate the silver to the LORD from my hand for my son, to make a carved image and a metal image. Now therefore I will restore it to you.” 4 So when he restored the money to his mother, his mother took 200 pieces of silver and gave it to the silversmith, who made it into a carved image and a metal image. And it was in the house of Micah. 5 And the man Micah had a shrine, and he made an ephod and household gods, and ordained one of his sons, who became his priest. 6 In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. 7 Now there was a young man of Bethlehem in Judah, of the family of Judah, who was a Levite, and he sojourned there. 8 And the man departed from the town of Bethlehem in Judah to sojourn where he could find a place. And as he journeyed, he came to the hill country of Ephraim to the house of Micah. 9 And Micah said to him, “Where do you come from?” And he said to him, “I am a Levite of Bethlehem in Judah, and I am going to sojourn where I may find a place.” 10 And Micah said to him, “Stay with me, and be to me a father and a priest, and I will give you ten pieces of silver a year and a suit of clothes and your living.” And the Levite went in. 11 And the Levite was content to dwell with the man, and the young man became to him like one of his sons. 12 And Micah ordained the Levite, and the young man became his priest, and was in the house of Micah. 13 Then Micah said, “Now I know that the LORD will prosper me, because I have a Levite as priest.”

 

Danites Take the Levite and the Idol

 1 In those days there was no king in Israel. And in those days the tribe of the people of Dan was seeking for itself an inheritance to dwell in, for until then no inheritance among the tribes of Israel had fallen to them. 2 So the people of Dan sent five able men from the whole number of their tribe, from Zorah and from Eshtaol, to spy out the land and to explore it. And they said to them, “Go and explore the land.” And they came to the hill country of Ephraim, to the house of Micah, and lodged there. 3 When they were by the house of Micah, they recognized the voice of the young Levite. And they turned aside and said to him, “Who brought you here? What are you doing in this place? What is your business here?” 4 And he said to them, “This is how Micah dealt with me: he has hired me, and I have become his priest.” 5 And they said to him, “Inquire of God, please, that we may know whether the journey on which we are setting out will succeed.” 6 And the priest said to them, “Go in peace. The journey on which you go is under the eye of the LORD.” 7 Then the five men departed and came to Laish and saw the people who were there, how they lived in security, after the manner of the Sidonians, quiet and unsuspecting, lacking nothing that is in the earth and possessing wealth, and how they were far from the Sidonians and had no dealings with anyone. 8 And when they came to their brothers at Zorah and Eshtaol, their brothers said to them, “What do you report?” 9 They said, “Arise, and let us go up against them, for we have seen the land, and behold, it is very good. And will you do nothing? Do not be slow to go, to enter in and possess the land. 10 As soon as you go, you will come to an unsuspecting people. The land is spacious, for God has given it into your hands, a place where there is no lack of anything that is in the earth.” 11 So 600 men of the tribe of Dan, armed with weapons of war, set out from Zorah and Eshtaol, 12 and went up and encamped at Kiriath-jearim in Judah. On this account that place is called Mahaneh-dan to this day; behold, it is west of Kiriath-jearim. 13 And they passed on from there to the hill country of Ephraim, and came to the house of Micah. 14 Then the five men who had gone to scout out the country of Laish said to their brothers, “Do you know that in these houses there are an ephod, household gods, a carved image, and a metal image? Now therefore consider what you will do.” 15 And they turned aside there and came to the house of the young Levite, at the home of Micah, and asked him about his welfare. 16 Now the 600 men of the Danites, armed with their weapons of war, stood by the entrance of the gate. 17 And the five men who had gone to scout out the land went up and entered and took the carved image, the ephod, the household gods, and the metal image, while the priest stood by the entrance of the gate with the 600 men armed with weapons of war. 18 And when these went into Micah’s house and took the carved image, the ephod, the household gods, and the metal image, the priest said to them, “What are you doing?” 19 And they said to him, “Keep quiet; put your hand on your mouth and come with us and be to us a father and a priest. Is it better for you to be priest to the house of one man, or to be priest to a tribe and clan in Israel?” 20 And the priest’s heart was glad. He took the ephod and the household gods and the carved image and went along with the people. 21 So they turned and departed, putting the little ones and the livestock and the goods in front of them. 22 When they had gone a distance from the home of Micah, the men who were in the houses near Micah’s house were called out, and they overtook the people of Dan. 23 And they shouted to the people of Dan, who turned around and said to Micah, “What is the matter with you, that you come with such a company?” 24 And he said, “You take my gods that I made and the priest, and go away, and what have I left? How then do you ask me, ‘What is the matter with you?'” 25 And the people of Dan said to him, “Do not let your voice be heard among us, lest angry fellows fall upon you, and you lose your life with the lives of your household.” 26 Then the people of Dan went their way. And when Micah saw that they were too strong for him, he turned and went back to his home. 27 But the people of Dan took what Micah had made, and the priest who belonged to him, and they came to Laish, to a people quiet and unsuspecting, and struck them with the edge of the sword and burned the city with fire. 28 And there was no deliverer because it was far from Sidon, and they had no dealings with anyone. It was in the valley that belongs to Beth-rehob. Then they rebuilt the city and lived in it. 29 And they named the city Dan, after the name of Dan their ancestor, who was born to Israel; but the name of the city was Laish at the first. 30 And the people of Dan set up the carved image for themselves, and Jonathan the son of Gershom, son of Moses,and his sons were priests to the tribe of the Danites until the day of the captivity of the land. 31 So they set up Micah’s carved image that he made, as long as the house of God was at Shiloh.

 

Send Out Your Light and Your Truth

 1 Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people, from the deceitful and unjust man deliver me!  2 For you are the God in whom I take refuge; why have you rejected me? Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? 3 Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!  4 Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God. 5 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

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PRAYING PAYSON – by David Wilkerson – David Wilkerson Today – TUESDAY, MAY 14, 2013

PRAYING PAYSON
by David Wilkerson
[May 19, 1931 – April 27, 2011]
jesus_praying
Dr. Edward Payson, known as “Praying Payson,” was a pastor in Portland, Maine,
nearly 200 years ago. In 1806, just a few years after the Declaration of
Independence, America was devastated by a severe depression. It was a dark
period and Dr. Payson vividly recorded the tragedy in his area. He wrote:

“Business has stagnated, many are failing. Hundreds . . . have been thrown out
of employment, and they are destitute. I tremble for my poor country. I fear
our sins have helped call down judgment upon us. Some of our wonderful young
converts have lost their all, and had their homes stripped away; but it does my
heart good to see them cheerful and quiet under it all. Others, who have no God,
have lost their reason, they worry incessantly, and are apparently dying of a
broken heart.”

Dr. Payson and his congregation suffered the spoiling of all their goods. Dr.
Payson himself lived on pennies during those hard times. On December 28, 1807,
in a letter to his mother, he wrote:

“Conditions worsen. A large number of the wealthy merchants live in poverty
now. Businesses are failing daily. The poorhouse is already full, and hundreds
are yet to be provided for. Many who have been brought up in affluence are now
dependent on others for daily food.

“Perhaps, Mother, you will grieve for me and say, ‘Poor Edward!’ But you
never had more reason to rejoice on my behalf, and cry, ‘Rich Edward!’ than
now. Blessed be God, my faith does not stand on such tottering foundations as to
be shaken by these commotions. God keeps me quiet, resigned, and even happy in
all these troubles. I do not mean I don’t feel pain—I do. All my worldly
hopes are destroyed. In these circumstances it is impossible not to feel pain.
I thought I knew before that this world is treacherous, and its enjoyments but
for a moment; but these hard times have taught me to wean myself from creature
things and pursue the things of God. It is my prayer, that if God has any
worldly blessings in store for me, He would be pleased to give me His grace
instead.”

Edward Payson had quit trying to run the race of life on his own (see Hebrews
12:1). He could take joyfully the stripping away of all he possessed, because
he was in this world but not of it.

”My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in
weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the
power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

 

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Spring Holy Days 2013 – SHAVUOT/PENTECOST – Discovering the Jewish Jesus – May 14,2013

Spring Holy Days 2013

SHAVUOT/PENTECOST

Shavuot-Pentecost-Giving-Law-Giving-Spirit

Praise God, Tuesday evening May 14th begins The LORD’S Appointed Holy Day- Pentecost, which is called in Hebrew Shavuot. We first read about this Biblical Holy Day in Leviticus 23:15-22. Later we find Yeshua’s first disciples celebrating this day in the book of Acts 2:1-5.

Although historically this was an agricultural feast, it became associated with the day the LORD gave the Children of Israel the Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai. In Acts 2, where thousands of Yeshua’s disciples were celebrating this feast, the same God that appeared to them on Mount Sinai in fire and glory (Exodus 19:18), appeared to them again in fire and filled them with His Spirit.

At Pentecost/Shavuot God went from reaching us through tablets of stone, to touching us by His Spirit in our hearts. God’s relationship with man has moved from the outer to the inner, and because of this we are eternally empowered to move forward in our relationship with Him.

Final atonement for sin was accomplished at Passover. The gift of the Holy Spirit was given at Pentecost-Shavuot. Hallelujah!

Shalom, love and blessings to you in Messiah Yeshua

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IRS scrutiny went beyond Tea Party, targeting of conservative groups broader than thought

IRS-Tax-Man-277x300

An IRS campaign to apply additional scrutiny to conservative groups went beyond targeting “Tea Party” and “patriot” groups to include those focused on government spending, the Constitution and several other broad areas.

The additional guidelines created by the agency were part of a timeline, obtained by Fox News, from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, which is looking into the controversial IRS practice. IRS officials apologized Friday for the scrutiny, but new information suggests senior leaders were apprised of the effort as early as 2011 despite public denials from the top.

Republican lawmakers have vowed to investigate and hold hearings, calling the revelations deeply troubling.

“The conclusion that the IRS came to is that they did have agents who were engaged in intimidation of political groups,” Michigan Rep. Mike Rogers told “Fox News Sunday.” “I don’t care if you’re a conservative, a liberal, a Democrat or a Republican, this should send a chill up your spine. It needs to have a full investigation.”

The House Ways and Means Committee plans to hold a hearing Friday, Fox News has learned. A top Democrat — Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus — also said Monday that his committee would launch a “full investigation” into the matter.

“These actions by the IRS are an outrageous abuse of power and a breach of the public’s trust. Targeting groups based on their political views is not only inappropriate but it is intolerable,” the Montana Democrat said in a statement. “Americans expect the IRS to do its job without passion or prejudice. We need to get to the bottom of what happened here. … The IRS will now be the ones put under additional scrutiny.”

President Obama weighed in as well, saying at a press conference Monday that if the reports are true, “then that’s outrageous and there’s no place for it — and they have to be held fully accountable.”

Obama said he first found out about the practice on Friday. He said that if agents behaved in a partisan fashion, “I’ve got no patience with it. I will not tolerate it.”

The internal IG timeline shows a unit in the agency was looking at Tea Party and “patriot” groups dating back to early 2010. But it shows that list of criteria drastically expanding by the time a June 2011 briefing was held. It then included groups focused on government spending, government debt, taxes, and education on ways to “make America a better place to live.” It even flagged groups whose file included criticism of “how the country is being run.”

By early 2012, the criteria were updated to include organizations involved in “limiting/expanding government,” education on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and social economic reform.

Taken together, the findings of the IG and the initial admissions by the IRS Friday are fueling complaints from Republicans on Capitol Hill.

Evidence that the IRS was flagging such groups in 2011 was included in a draft inspector general’s report obtained Saturday by Fox News and other news organizations and expected to be released in full later this week.

That information seemingly contradicts public statements by IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman, who told congressional investigators in March 2011 that specific groups were not being targeted.

Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins on Sunday also called the IRS activities chilling and said she was disappointed that President Obama had not condemned the actions.

“This is truly outrageous and it contributes to the profound distrust that the American people have in government,” Collins told CNN’s “State of the Union.” “It is absolutely chilling that the IRS was singling out conservative groups for extra review. And I think that it’s very disappointing that the president hasn’t personally condemned this.”

At about the same time, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney released a statement saying: “If the inspector general finds that there were any rules broken or that conduct of government officials did not meet the standards required of them, the president expects that swift and appropriate steps will be taken to address any misconduct.”

Michigan Republican Rep. Dave Camp, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said Friday his committee will hold a hearing on the issue.

The IRS said Friday that it was sorry for what it called the “inappropriate” targeting of the conservative groups during the 2012 elections.

Lois G. Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt organizations, said the practice was initiated by low-level workers in Cincinnati and was not motivated by political bias.

But on June 29, 2011, Lerner found out that such groups were being targeted, according to the inspector general’s report.

She was told at a meeting that groups with “Tea Party,” “Patriot” or “9/12 Project” in their names were being flagged for additional and often burdensome scrutiny, the report states.

The 9/12 Project is a group started by conservative TV personality Glenn Beck.

Collins also said she does not believe the activity was limited to “a couple of rogue IRS employees.”

“After all,” she added, “groups with `progressive’ in their names were not targeted similarly.”

Abortion Doctor Is Found Guilty of 3 Counts of Murder

kermit-gosnell-baby-killer

PHILADELPHIA — Dr. Kermit Gosnell, a West Philadelphia doctor known for performing late-term abortions, was found guilty on Monday on three of four counts of first-degree murder.

The verdict came after a five-week trial in which the prosecution and the defense battled over whether the fetuses Dr. Gosnell was charged with killing were alive when they were removed from their mothers.

Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty when the trial moves into the sentencing phase on May 21.

Dr. Gosnell, 72, wearing a dark suit, showed no emotion as the jury foreman read the verdicts on the 10th day of deliberations. Before the foreman spoke, Dr. Gosnell smiled at his lawyer, Jack J. McMahon, and shook his hand.

Security in the courtroom was very tight, with 10 additional sheriff’s deputies in the room to keep order.

The jury of eight women and four men acquitted Dr. Gosnell of one first-degree murder charge involving an aborted fetus. He was also acquitted of third-degree murder in the death of a 41-year-old patient but was found guilty of a lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter in that case.

The gruesome nature of the crimes that Dr. Gosnell was accused of and the squalid conditions in his clinic had fueled arguments on both sides of the abortion debate. Anti-abortion campaigners used the case to reinforce their argument that the practice is immoral, while abortion rights advocates warned that it underlined the need to ensure the availability of properly regulated abortions.

Some activists accused the national news media of providing scant coverage of the trial to help protect the case for abortion rights. The critics included the Roman Catholic archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles J. Chaput. The 29 reporters present in the courtroom for the verdict, many of them from national media organizations, were warned by a court official that no electronic communication would be allowed while the verdict was being read.

Prosecutors had argued that Dr. Gosnell murdered seven late-term infants who would have survived if he or his assistants had not given them a drug designed to cause “fetal demise” and then plunged scissors into their necks to ensure that they were dead. But the prosecution suffered a setback last month when Judge Jeffrey P. Minehart threw out three of the seven first-degree murder charges without giving a reason.

That left Dr. Gosnell facing four charges of first-degree murder, as well as one charge of third-degree murder in connection with the death of the patient.

In defense arguments, Mr. McMahon argued that there was no evidence that any of the fetuses were born alive and that his client was therefore not guilty on any of the murder counts. He also told jurors that the death of the patient, a refugee from Bhutan, was due to existing medical problems and not to an overdose of an anesthetic administered by Dr. Gosnell’s unlicensed assistants, as prosecutors had said.

After the verdict, Mr. McMahon told reporters outside the courthouse, “The jury has spoken and we respect that verdict. The jury worked very, very, very hard and they should be commended.”

Mr. McMahon declined to say whether he would appeal or how he intends to keep his client off death row. He signaled that defending Dr. Gosnell had been an uphill battle, saying, “There is a little bit of feeling on the defense part of what salmon must feel like swimming upstream.”

Neither the prosecutors nor the 12 jurors were available for comment after the verdict because a gag order issued by Judge Minehart remains in place until Dr. Gosnell is sentenced.

Clinic workers who appeared as witnesses for the prosecution said some of the fetuses appeared to move or make noises. One, known as Baby D, was delivered into a toilet and appeared to make swimming motions before one of Dr. Gosnell’s assistants cut its neck, according to a worker cited during closing arguments by Edward Cameron, an assistant district attorney.

Mr. Cameron and another assistant district attorney, Joanne Pescatore, also told the jury that Dr. Gosnell kept the severed feet of aborted fetuses in dozens of jars around his clinic, the Women’s Medical Society in West Philadelphia.

According to a January 2011 grand jury report, Dr. Gosnell’s patients were covered with bloodstained blankets, treated with unsterilized instruments and surrounded by cats that were allowed to defecate in the building.

To bolster their argument that Dr. Gosnell subjected his patients to filthy and dangerous conditions, prosecutors presented the jury with a dirty procedure table and a stained ultrasound probe.

Among the lesser charges he faced, Dr. Gosnell was found not guilty of 16 out of 227 counts of violating a Pennsylvania law that requires doctors to wait at least 24 hours before performing an abortion after first consulting with a patient. He was found guilty of 21 out of 24 counts of performing an abortion at 24 weeks or later in a pregnancy.

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