BREAKING: Texas Tech officer shot and killed, apparently by student

Texas NBC affiliate KCBD is reporting that a Texas Tech campus police officer has been shot and killed in the line of duty.

The assailant was apparently a TTU student whom officers had brought to the police headquarters for a “welfare check”. The report states that the student – identified by police as Hollis A. Daniels – pulled a gun and shot the officer, then fled the scene.

From the KCBD report:
“Early reports say the shooting suspect is 6 feet tall, 140 pounds, with red hair and blue eyes, wearing a white t-shirt and blue jeans. Police say he is driving a silver 2001 BMW SUV. “

As of 10pm Eastern time, the shooter was still at large and the Texas Tech campus was on lockdown and being searched by a SWAT team.

UPDATE: Texas Tech officials now say that the suspect is now in custody, and the campus lockdown has been lifted.

Twitter Censors Marsha Blackburn video that criticizes PP

On Monday afternoon, Twitter shut down a campaign announcement video from Rep. Marsha Blackburn, saying that the ad contained an “inflammatory statement.”

Blackburn, a beloved Congresswoman from Tennessee, used the video to announce her intention to run for U.S. Senator Bob Corker’s seat, who announced last week that he will not be seeking re-election.

In the ad, Blackburn questioned Planned Parenthood’s selling of fetal tissue for medical research.

“I fought Planned Parenthood and we stopped the sale of baby body parts,” the fierce pro-life champion says in the ad. “Thank God.”

Twitter blocked the ad from being shown on their platform, arguing that the ad contains an “inflammatory statement that is likely to evoke a strong negative reaction.” The company noted that the ad can “serve” if the statement is “omitted” from the video.

Previously, Blackburn was the chair of a Republican-led House committee designed to investigated Planned Parenthood’s barbaric actions in the illegal selling of fetal tissue.

In the video, the congresswoman seems to be prepared for the backlash.

“I know the left calls me a wingnut or a knuckle-dragging conservative,” she said. “And you know what? I say that’s all right. Bring it on.”

Although Twitter blocked the video as an online ad, it can still be viewed on Blackburn’s campaign Twitter account or on Youtube.

 

EPA’s Scott Pruitt Revokes Clean Power Plan, Declares “The War on Coal is Over”

This morning in Kentucky, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt declared “the war on coal is over” when unveiling a new Trump administration move to revoke the Obama-era Clean Power Plan.

Pruitt said no governmental agency “should ever use its authority” to “declare war on any sector of our economy.”

The EPA administrator’s announcement in Hazard, Kentucky, has a lot of symbolism: Whayne Supply, a company that sells coal mining supplies, was forced to lay off about 60 percent of its workers in years’ prior.

A review of the Clean Power Plan was announced back in April. The Clean Power Plan of 2015 promised to cut U.S. carbon dioxide emissions to 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. This was considered former President Obama’s hallmark environmental law. Now it is being dismantled for its apparent overreach and deliberate intention to kill the oil and gas industries in favor of more costly renewable energy sources.

The 2015 Clean Power Plan was unveiled as a 460-page rule  titled “Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units.” This alone should make one skeptical of this very plan.

The League of Conservation Voters signaled their support for the hallmark plan, praising it for establishing “the first national limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants—our nation’s single largest source of the pollution fueling climate change.”

Under Pruitt’s tenure at the EPA, the Trump administration announced its intention in June to withdraw from the Paris agreement–which signaled a good move by our nation. Pruitt has also won praise from Denver Post for his prompt response to compensate the victims of the Gold King Mine spill of 2015–which his predecessor neglected to address.

Pruitt is arguably one of Trump’s best hires to date. Despite members of the media and green mafia maligning him, he’s off to a good start in cleaning up the EPA.

Why Did Christopher Columbus Ruin America?

“In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue.”

That’s a little rhyme I just made up to help you remember the year Columbus destroyed America. He was born in one of those European countries that’s not important enough to remember and he set out on an early path to destruction. Young Christopher could be seen at early age, staring out at the ocean and dreaming about conquest and genocide. Soon he would get his chance.

He got himself some ships, and at no risk to himself, set out across the ocean with murder on his mind. Upon “discovering America”, he couldn’t believe what he saw. It was a utopia very similar to what you saw in that movie Avatar except none of the people were blue.

“Welcome to America, Christopher. Why are you looking at me funny?”

There was commerce here and complete peace between all the tribes. They were just getting ready to construct a great North American highway system, discover the polio vaccine, and establish the Peace Corps when Columbus ruined it all. There was one language, an established border, and a plan to expand trade routes across the ocean until “The Pox Throa From Genoa” showed up on the scene.

Actual picture of Columbus interrupting a corporate meeting about business expansion.

So don’t celebrate this day. This is a day for you to sit in your air-conditioned house and tweet from your iPhone about how oppressed you are and about the evils of America’s history.

Or you get on your knees and thank God you live in the wealthiest country in the world and you’re comfortable enough to complain about things that happened 600 years ago.

 

NRA to Fox News Sunday: “Bans Don’t Work”

After issuing a statement calling on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) to review the legality of bump stocks, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has affirmed that further bans on guns or gun parts don’t stop crime.

NRA’s Chris Cox went on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace to discuss their statement in wake of the Las Vegas massacre.  Cox said, “We don’t believe bans ever worked on anything.”

“There were NRA members who were shot [in Las Vegas]. There were members who were murdered,” Cox said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“What we’re getting from NRA members is grief and fear, the same way other Americans are grieving.”

Cox added, “What we saw last week was pure evil. … We don’t believe that bans have ever worked on anything.” But he added that ATF should look to review bump stocks if they indeed converted semi-automatic firearms into automatic ones in the case of the Las Vegas shooting. While many have interpreted this as a call-to-action (CTA) to regulate bump stocks, it isn’t a blatant call for banning them. Just a review. Nevertheless, we can all agree that banning bump stocks won’t prevent future mass shootings.

This came in wake of the NRA issuing a joint statement by Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox, which read:

“In the aftermath of the evil and senseless attack in Las Vegas, the American people are looking for answers as to how future tragedies can be prevented.  Unfortunately, the first response from some politicians has been to call for more gun control.  Banning guns from law-abiding Americans based on the criminal act of a madman will do nothing to prevent future attacks.  This is a fact that has been proven time and again in countries across the world.  In Las Vegas, reports indicate that certain devices were used to modify the firearms involved. Despite the fact that the Obama administration approved the sale of bump fire stocks on at least two occasions, the National Rifle Association is calling on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) to immediately review whether these devices comply with federal law.  The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations.  In an increasingly dangerous world, the NRA remains focused on our mission: strengthening Americans’ Second Amendment freedom to defend themselves, their families and their communities.  To that end, on behalf of our five million members across the country, we urge Congress to pass National Right-to-Carry reciprocity, which will allow law-abiding Americans to defend themselves and their families from acts of violence.”

As a result of the alleged use of bump stocks by mass murderer Stephen Paddock, nine Republican Senators have called on the ATF to review bump stocks. Interestingly enough, one of the U.S. Senate’s top gun control proponents — Senator Dianne Feinstein of California–admitted that no new gun control measures would have prevented the Las Vegas massacre.

Experts say bump stocks decrease accuracy when firing firearms. Here’s more on bump stocks:

bump stock is a sliding stock that speeds up a rifle’s rate of fire by harnessing recoil energy to reset the trigger. Instead of squeezing the trigger, the shooter holds his trigger finger steady while pushing the barrel forward with his other hand, thereby firing a round. The recoil repositions the trigger, and continuing to exert forward pressure on the barrel makes the rifle fire repeatedly. The gun still fires just once per trigger pull, so it is still a semiautomatic (and therefore legal), but it fires faster than it would if the shooter had to bend his trigger finger each time.

 

Whether or not bump stocks will be regulated detracts from the greater issue at hand: no gun control measures would have stopped the crazed Vegas shooter from perpetrating the evil act he did. It’s time to hold individuals, not tools, accountable for their criminal behavior.

If you wish to help the Las Vegas shooting victims, donate to the official fund here.

The Pro-Life Heart of Blade Runner 2049

The big questions of life—how long we have, how memory defines us, what it means to be human—figure prominently in the Blade Runner universe, first introduced to cinemas by Ridley Scott back in 1982.  Working loosely from the trippy Philip K. Dick novel  Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Scott jettisoned most of Dick’s hippy-dippy drug culture subtext and instead focused on a visual style in which the setting drove the narrative just as much as the characters.  In this fully-realized world, we meet Rick Deckard—the titular Blade Runner, a police assassin tasked with tracking down and “retiring” escaped replicants.  These bioengineered androids, who resemble people down to the smallest detail, were created as a slave labor force and are considered utterly disposable.  The only problem:  the replicants are a little too human, and have started to develop their own emotions and sense of self.  They have also developed a strong will to live, and will do whatever it takes to stay alive.

Blade Runner was a gorgeous, fascinating and enthralling movie.  It was also a box office flop.

Perhaps it was because moviegoers, familiar with the dashing Harrison Ford from Star Wars, didn’t know what to make of his complex and conflicted Rick Deckard.  Or maybe they were just expecting a straightforward sci-fi shoot ‘em up, in which the robots were the bad guys and mowing them down didn’t present any moral issues.  Whatever the cause, Blade Runner might have been entirely forgotten if it hadn’t been for home video, where the film had far more time and latitude to find an audience that appreciated it—and appreciate it they did.  Since its initial release, Blade Runner has become the definitive vision of a dystopian future, imitated by countless other works of science-fiction.

Now comes Blade Runner 2049, a sequel that only took Hollywood 35 years to get around to making.  Was it worth the wait?  Absolutely—but with one big caveat.  Although the film is fully-realized and stands completely on its own, it would be very difficult to appreciate it without having seen the original.  Not only are the themes a continuation of the first film, the emotional impact of the events in Blade Runner 2049 are blunted if you’re not familiar with the original characters.

And it’s obvious that director Denis Villeneuve has great affection for those characters, because they form the central mystery that drives the story.  Ryan Gosling plays Officer K of the LAPD, himself a replicant—and a Blade Runner.  He’s a newer model who is programmed to obey his superiors without question, who send him out to find—and kill, if necessary—older models who are still hiding among the human populations left on Earth.  During a mission that opens the film, K confronts a replicant named Sapper who asks him how it feels to hunt his own kind.  Accusing K of being a soulless automaton, Sapper says cryptically, “You’ve never seen a miracle.”  He then attacks K knowing that the Blade Runner will gun him down—a suicide by cop meant to cover up a secret.

MILD SPOILERS FOLLOW

K later finds that secret buried under a a tree outside the replicant’s home—the bones of a woman that have been there for decades.  An LAPD medical examiner performs an autopsy which reveals that the woman died during childbirth, but also reveals something else that should be impossible:  the woman was a replicant.  This was the miracle Sapper told K about.  And it represents an existential threat to the notion that replicants are less than human.

The rest of Blade Runner 2049 follows K as he tries to track down what happened to the child, with orders to kill the child if he finds it alive.  The trail eventually leads him to Rick Deckard, and a final confrontation that will change everything K thought he knew about himself and about humanity.

It’s pretty heady stuff—and all done with a cinematic flair that would have made Ridley Scott proud.  Rather than copy the style of the original Blade Runner, Villeneuve actually builds on it, integrating elements made famous from the first film—the flying cars, the rainy streets, the holographic advertisements—with his own visual style, making the most of advancements in CGI to expand the depth of that world without cluttering it up.  It all feels very real.  The cinematography by Roger Deakins is also every bit as stunning as the original, which is particularly vital for a sequel to a film practically defined by its look.  Never has bleak appeared quite so beautiful.  It’s almost—but not quite—enough to make you want to experience that world first hand.

There are also a great many ideas floating around here, not the least of which is the intrinsic value of life.  In the first film, animals have become so rare that realistic facsimiles of them are among the most prized—and expensive—of possessions.  The replicants, meanwhile, realize that their allotted lifespan of four short years is running out, so in desperation they come back to Earth to find a way to extend that time.  “I want more life,” Roy Batty, the leader of the rogue replicants, demands of his creator.  And in the end, Roy spares Rick Deckard even though he could have killed the Blade Runner sent to kill him.  “I don’t know why he saved my life,” Deckard says.  “Maybe in those last moments he loved life more that he ever had before.  Not just his life—anybody’s life.  My life.”

Blade Runner 2049 takes that idea and runs with it, extending it to the replicants being able to have children of their own.  In fact, in the film, this is what defines them as human.  The people running the show don’t want anybody to find out about the child, because they know it would completely upend the existing world order.  Replicants would no longer be seen as slaves if they were capable of creating life themselves.  As K observes at one point, to be born is to have a soul—and to have a soul is to have value,

This is a profoundly pro-life subtext.  I’m not sure if this is what the filmmakers intended, but it’s definitely there—and it’s bound to make some people uncomfortable.  Just as it’s more convenient for people in Blade Runner to not think of replicants as human, so is it easier for pro-abortion activists to cast unborn babies the same way.  But real life, as in the film, is a lot more complicated than that.  Pretending otherwise doesn’t change anything.

Fans of strong female leads will also find lots to like in Blade Runner 2049.  As the replicant Luv, Sylvia Hoeks is an appropriately badass henchman (henchperson?) to Jared Leto’s blind megalomaniac Niander Wallace, and Ana de Armas nearly steals the show as K’s holographic companion Joi.

As to Harrison Ford, the actual time he has on screen as Rick Deckard actually amounts to more of an extended cameo than a starring role.  His appearance, however, carries a great deal of emotional heft and firmly grounds the story in the Blade Runner universe.  When it comes to the action, though, he isn’t given that much to do—although, at the age of 75, he still gets a chance to throw a few impressive punches.

My only complaint might be that the film’s climax seems a little abrupt and underwhelming for a nearly three hour movie.  Then again, with the orgy of CGI destruction that you typically find at the end of most blockbusters these days, it’s refreshing to see filmmakers opting to keep it simple.

Steve Scalise Shoots Back Response to Gun Control, Affirms Support for Gun Rights

After surviving an assassination attempt on his life in June here in Alexandria, Virginia, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) told Chuck Todd of “Meet the Press” over the weekend he still opposes more gun control measures now more than ever in wake of the Las Vegas massacre.

Below is the full interview:

“Our Founding Fathers believed strongly in gun rights for citizens,” said Scalise.

“Don’t try to put new laws in place that don’t fix these problems,” he said.”They only make it harder for law-abiding citizens to own a gun.”

Scalise was gravely wounded back in June after James Hodgkinson, 66, shot up an Alexandria, Virginia, park where Scalise and other Republican members of Congress were practicing for the upcoming Congressional Baseball Game charity match in Washington, D.C. If it weren’t for Scalise’s security detail, more congressmen and senators would have either been severely injured or worse–dead.

It’s only reasonable for Scalise to affirm his Second Amendment views despite this traumatic injury. He understands that good guys with guns helped saved his life and countless other lives on June 14, 2017, by repelling and shooting his attacker — a bad guy with a gun — dead.

Hurt Road: The Music, the Memories and the Miles Between

We all have those moments in life when we remember the first time we heard a favorite song or band. From that moment on, when we hear the first chords of that song, the memories come flooding in with them.

For me it was 1999. My good friend, Nate Miller, was visiting my brother and me. He was in med school and we were wrapping up our junior years in college at the University of Kansas. As I cranked out pancakes in our small two bedroom apartment on Tennessee Street, Nate said, “You guys ever heard of Third Day? You need to hear them. Just a sec.”

As I flipped pancakes, I heard him unzipping his bag and popping open a CD case to slip it into the player. Seconds later came the opening chords to “I’ve Always Loved You” and Nate singing along loudly.

Well, I don’t know how to explain it
But I know that words will hardly do
Miracles with signs and wonders
Aren’t enough for me to prove to you

Don’t you know I’ve always loved you
Even before there was time
Though you turn away, I’ll tell you still
Don’t you know I’ve always loved you, and I always will

I ducked my head out of the kitchen, “Who is this again? They’re really good!”

“Third Day, man. They are awesome.”

I am pretty sure we listened to “I’ve Always Loved You” 20 or more times that morning. Third Day wasn’t just a good Christian band as Billboard so famously noted, they were a GOOD band with a blend of acoustic and Southern Rock and with their CD, Time, they were on the rise in the music scene.

For the next few years, every time they released a CD, I bought it and friends and I would figure out the chords from their songs on our guitars.

Years later, I got a call from my sister who was working at the White House while I was at the Republican National Committee. “Third Day is in town. Want to grab lunch with them?”

In spite of the “mind blown” moment, I stammered that I did and over lunch got to know the band I had listened to for years. They invited me to join them backstage whenever our paths crossed.

I have done just that and from sound checks to grabbing pre-concert meals to diving deep into political and theological discussions to home renovation projects, I’ve gotten to know each of the Third Day guys just a little better.

During one such time, my wife, then fiancée, called and I took the call just as the guys were about to take the stage. Mac mouthed, “Is that your fiancée?”

I nodded.

“Give me the phone.”

I laughed and handed it over to him. “Hey Becca, it’s Mac Powell.” They chatted for a minute or so, he handed the phone back, “Well done, my man.”

Over these times I have pieced their stories together-where they’ve come from, how Third Day began, but in all honesty, I have never really known the story behind the story.

When I saw Mark Lee, the guitarist, was releasing his autobiography, Hurt Road, I made a mental note to buy it. He beat me to the punch and messaged me: “Send me your address, I am mailing you a copy!”

When it came, mid-day a few weeks ago, I put work on hold and just dove in.

Hurt Road is a conversational book, weaving in Mark’s life with Third Day’s origin story and the success that followed. Sprinkling in spiritual and life lessons as well as a behind the scenes look at life on tour, Hurt Road is an everyman’s journey of high school band members who started a garage band who became multi-Grammy Award winners, sold 7 million albums and became the first Christian band to grace the cover of Billboard magazine.

And it all started with a conversation between two marching band members in the school hallway.

“Hey, man. Do you want to be in my band?” Mark asked Mac. “We’re working up a song for the talent show.”

“I don’t play guitar.”

“No, man. We want you to sing,” replied Mark.

“Sure, that would be great!”

I think what I like most about Hurt Road, however, is the transparency of it. It is human nature to put the famous on pedestals. We think they live lives free of the “common” problems everyone else has, that they don’t face the same trials we do, the same griefs, the same struggles, but as Mark so artfully writes, they do.

When the lights dim and the concert crowds dissipate, the Third Day guys are very much like you and me. They have families to raise, bills to pay, a desire to become better at what they do and paramount to all this, a deep desire to follow Christ. While I was and am a big fan of their music, it was the latter that drew me to them.

All this and more comes through in Hurt Road. If you want to know the Third Day guys and their lead guitarist, Mark Lee, just a little better, go grab a copy of the book today and do what I did-dive in.