Trump and team WERE under government surveillance

eyes-490608_640President Trump has claimed that the Obama administration bugged his Trump Tower offices.  That accusation has been mostly dismissed.

But now it turns out that President-elect Trump and his transition team WERE surveilled.

House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-California) said that he has seen copies of reports “unmasking” the members of Trump’s transition team and their activities.  This material was widely-circulated in the White House and in the Intelligence community.

Nunes says he believes the material was gathered legally, although information gleaned “incidentally” in the course of other investigations is supposed to be redacted.  Nunes says the information gathered did not involve Russia connections.
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The decline of Christian bookstores

FamilyChristianStoresAppletonWisconsinThe biggest Christian bookstore chain, Family Christian Stores, is going out of business.  Then again, mostly what it carried was Christian knick-knacks.

As for books, the top 20 Christian bestsellers last year included, the words of one observer,  “three versions of Sarah Young’s controversial Jesus Calling, two kids joke books, two adult coloring books, titles by HGTV stars and athletes, and, of course, the latest from Joel Osteen.”

Better Christian books are still selling, largely on Amazon, but they often aren’t even carried by Christian retailers.

Then again, all brick and mortar bookstores are having a rough time.  Having put small mom and pop shops out of business, the big chains are now struggling against online sales.  Borders is gone, and Barnes & Noble is having a rough time, kept alive mainly by its own online offerings.

I regret the closing of bookstores.  There are still some excellent Christian bookstores, such as Wichita’s Eighth Day Bookstore (which also sells books online).  But Christians and the general public are still reading, helped too by Kindle and other readers that can download books instantly.

An article in Christianity Today, linked after the jump. argues that the end of Christian Retail that trades mostly in “Jesus junk” is not necessarily a bad thing.

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Is Russia seeding our shoreline with nuclear weapons?

Operation_Upshot-Knothole_-_Badger_001Former Russian defense ministry spokesman Viktor Baranetz is claiming that “we are quietly ‘seeding’ the U.S. shoreline with nuclear ‘mole’ missiles (they dig themselves in and ‘sleep’ until they are given the command).”

The context of his article in Pravda is that Russia is responding to U.S. military buildups and the prospect of even more defense spending by President Trump, which Baranetz describes as “buying the support” of the military-industrial complex.

A Kremlin spokesman dismissed the account of this “seeding” of nuclear weapons, but of course he would.

Vladimir Putin is said to want to warm up to President Trump, to the point, some say, of helping him get elected, with both presidents supposedly seeking some kind of alliance.  But the Russian military seems increasingly hostile to the U.S., with their planes buzzing our ships and other provocative actions, including stories like this.  Perhaps Russia has factional conflicts within its government also.

But maybe it isn’t the case that Russia is on one side or the other.  Maybe it just wants to create havoc.

Whether this story is true or not, the very prospect of nuclear mines/missiles reminds us that nuclear war is still a possibility, and that a country–or a group of terrorists–does not necessarily need high-tech missiles or aircraft to attack us with nuclear weapons. [Read more…]

Wikileaks exposes CIA’s cyberespionage

Seal_of_the_Central_Intelligence_Agency.svgA huge trove of documents about CIA hacking, surveillance, and cyberespionage operations ha been posted on Wikileaks.  This is just the first of a series of revelations, according to Wikileaks head Julian Assange.

Here we learn about how the CIA can use smart phones and even television sets to spy on people.  Wikileaks says that various intelligence subcontractors have been circulating the code that gives access CIA’s “hacking arsenal” so that now other countries and independent hackers can use it.  One such subcontractor leaked the material to Wikileaks.

Do you think this is related to the surveillance of the Trump administration and the leaks from the other side?  Could this have anything to do with the Russians?

One of the revelations  is that the CIA has the capability of launching hacking attacks and “misdirect attribution” so that they appear to be from someone else.  Could the CIA itself be responsible for the alleged Russian hacks into the presidential campaign?  But, if so, why would they be helping Trump then and hurting him now?

Is whoever leaked this stuff a traitor, betraying our country’s defensive capabilities and intelligence agency?  Or is he a brave civil libertarian, exposing “the dark state’s” nefarious doings?  Who are the good guys and who are the bad guys?  And what does it mean that it has become so difficult to tell the difference? [Read more…]

Bringing back the woolly mammoth

Why millennials are having less sex

2314507559_f0b038bfb8_zMillennials are having less sex than their peers in previous generations.  But it isn’t, for the most part, because they are embracing Christian sexual morality.  Rather, it is largely because their sexual desires (especially for men) are being slaked by pornography.  And because their main relationships are often online rather than in the flesh.

Lutheran pastor Hans Fiene, of Lutheran Satire fame, has a provocative article on this phenomenon in The Federalist.  He makes the case that pornography and virtual relationships are uniquely crippling emotionally and morally.  Whereas the sexual desire that leads to a relationship with a real person and then to marriage creates a whole range of virtues.
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