Sen. Marco Rubio met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem on Wednesday evening, his second visit to Israel since he was elected in 2010, newsmax.com reports. The Florida Republican, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, spoke with the Israeli leaders on a range of topics, including the changing political landscape in the Middle East, Israel’s relations with its neighbors, peace negotiations with the Palestinians, the Iranian nuclear threat, and further strengthening of the U.S.-Israeli strategic relationship, Rubio’s office disclosed in a release. “There is no more important relationship for the United States, perhaps in the world but certainly in the region, than Israel,” said Rubio. “It’s one that has bipartisan support and I’m proud to say that Republicans and Democrats are united on that. We remain deeply committed, above all else, to Israel’s security. Like every nation, like every sovereign people, the people of Israel have the right to be safe. “The ties between the United States and Israel are unbreakable. Israel represents everything the United States stands for, a vibrant democracy. I greatly appreciate the hospitality of the Israeli people and for the opportunity to meet with President Peres and Prime Minister Netanyahu.”
- Texas governor and former GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry is rolling out a Texas-size red carpet for Magpul Industries, the Colorado gun-parts manufacturer that has vowed to find greener pastures if a bill banning high capacity ammunition magazines, like those that Magpul makes, becomes law. Cowboybyte.com reports that in a letter to Magpul founder and CEO Richard Fitzpatrick, Perry touted Texas’s business climate, citing such things as “low taxes, a fair legal system, reasonable regulations, a well-trained and skilled workforce and unmatched transportation and communications infrastructures.” “There is no other state that fits the definition of business-friendly like Texas,” Perry wrote. Meanwhile, cowboybyte.com reports that a Missouri lawmaker is proposing to send colleagues to prison for introducing gun control legislation—a plan that even its sponsor acknowledges has no chance of passage but nonetheless highlights the increasingly strident tone of gun measures in Missouri’s generally pro-gun Legislature. Rep. Mike Leara said Tuesday that he considers his bill a statement of principle. It would make lawmakers guilty of a felony punishable by up to four years in prison if they introduce legislation restricting gun rights. “I have no illusions about the bill making it through the legislative process, but I want it to be clear that the Missouri House will stand in defense of the people’s constitutional right to keep and bear arms,” Leara, a Republican from suburban St. Louis, said in a written statement. He declined further comment.
- A lesbian English professor became a born-again Christian after reading the Bible, reports The Christian Post. Marvin Olasky, editor of World magazine interviewed English professor Rosaria Butterfield at Patrick Henry College. Butterfield is author of The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor’s Journey into Christian Faith. Butterfield came out as a lesbian when she was a 28-year-old graduate school student. Years later in response to an article she wrote about Promise Keepers, a friendship developed with a local pastor and she encountered the gospel in this friendship and through reading the Bible. As a researcher, Butterfield was working on a book about the religious right and needed to understand the Bible.
- President Obama may formally interject the power of the White House into a Supreme Court case involving California’s ban on same-sex marriage, with the filing of an amicus brief about Proposition 8, reports washingtontimes.com. Proposition 8 was a ballot initiative approved by California voters in 2008, banning gay marriage in the state. The state’s highest court then overturned it, setting the stage for what’s taking place now, a showdown at the U.S. Supreme Court. Legal analysts say that if the White House does inject itself into the court proceedings, the message to the nation could be substantial and prove a decision-maker to other states struggling with same-sex marriage legislative issues. In truth, the White House can’t sway the justices with a simple friend-of-the-court brief—but the government does hold influence, just the same, AP reports, and the justices do pay attention to executive opinions.
- It would appear the press cares more about getting access to info on President Obama playing golf with Tiger Woods than it does about getting answers on Benghazi, American deaths, and an apparent cover-up by the Obama administration, charges a story in thehill.com: “While many have shown relief and glee that the press is finally showing a degree of outrage at the lack of transparency and access to information by the Obama administration, it is tragic that this newfound sense of freedom of the press is due solely to Obama shutting out the media from his round of golf with serial adulterer Tiger Woods. The matter was deemed so serious that members of the White House Correspondents Association raised enough of a stink to prompt their president, Fox News’s Ed Henry, to issue a statement on their behalf about their collective concern and displeasure about lack of access and transparency: “A broad cross section of our members from print, radio, online and TV have today expressed extreme frustration to me about having absolutely no access to the President of the United States this entire weekend.” While Henry’s colleagues at Fox have been dogged on Benghazi, the vast majority of his colleagues in the Washington press corps have largely ignored it, primarily and importantly in the run-up to last November’s presidential election. At best, some have been mighty slow in addressing it, and not because they didn’t recognize its seriousness.
- The USDA is under fire for spending $200,000 of taxpayers money on a mandatory Cultural Sensitivity Training program in which employees were told to refer to the Pilgrims as “illegal aliens” and minorities as “emerging majorities,” reports The Daily Mail. In previously unseen footage, diversity trainer Samuel Betances, who describes himself as a “citizen of the world,” tells the audience to repeat that “every federal agency has discriminated against African-Americans, Hispanics, Native American Indians and other groups.” Made public on the government watchdog website Judicial Watch, who obtained it through a Freedom of Information made on May 18, 2012, Betances says that everyone should take note of his presentation because of the “huge expense” of the USDA’s commitment to diversity.
- The United States has issued a worldwide travel alert to its citizens, including in South Asia, where it said terrorist outfits like al-Qaida, the Taliban, and Lashkar-e-Taiba might harm them, reports worthynews.com. “US citizens are reminded to maintain a high level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness,” the State Department said in a statement Tuesday. Noting that current information suggests that al-Qaida, its affiliated organizations, and other terrorist outfits continue to plan terrorist attacks against U.S. interests in multiple regions, including Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, the State Department said these attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics including suicide operations, assassinations, kidnappings, hijackings, and bombings. It said extremists may elect to use conventional or non-conventional weapons, and target both official and private interests. Examples of such targets include high-profile sporting events, residential areas, business offices, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, schools, public areas, and other tourist destinations both in the United States and abroad where the country’s citizens gather in large numbers, including during holidays, the State Department said. In South Asia, the presence of al-Qaida, Taliban elements, indigenous sectarian groups, and other terror organizations, many of which are on the U.S. government’s list of Foreign Terror Organizations, poses a potential danger to U.S. citizens in the region, it said. Terrorists and their sympathizers have demonstrated their willingness and ability to attack targets where U.S. citizens or Westerners are known to congregate or visit. According to the State Department, anti-Western terrorist groups, some on the U.S. government’s list of FTOs, have been active in India, including Islamist extremist groups such as Harkat-ul-Jihad-i-Islami, Harakat ul-Mujahidin, Indian Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e Taiba. Terrorists have targeted public places in India frequented by Westerners, including luxury and other hotels, trains, train stations, markets, cinemas, mosques, and restaurants in large urban areas, it added.
- Republican senators complained Wednesday that U.S. taxpayer dollars could end up boosting the Chinese economy, following reports that a Chinese firm is leading the pack of companies bidding for a majority stake in government-backed Fisker Automotive, foxnews.com reports. The troubled California-based electric car maker, which was backed by U.S. taxpayers to the tune of nearly $530 million, for months has been looking for a financial partner. Reuters reported earlier this week that China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group is favored to take over, though Fisker is also reportedly weighing a bid from another Chinese auto maker. The development comes after Fisker’s main battery supplier—U.S. government-backed A123 Systems—was recently purchased by a separate Chinese firm. Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, voiced concern Wednesday that Chinese companies are benefiting from U.S. taxpayers’ investment. “Obama’s green energy investments appear to be nothing more than venture capital for eventual Chinese acquisitions,” Thune said in a statement. “After stimulus-funded A123 was just acquired by a Chinese-based company, it’s troubling to see that yet another struggling taxpayer-backed company might be purchased under duress by a Chinese company.” Grassley added, “Like A123, this looks like another example of taxpayer dollars going to a failed experiment. Technology developed with American taxpayer subsidies should not be sold off to China.”
- Considered one of the best-known evangelical Christian educators, longtime Dallas Theological Seminary professor Howard G. Hendricks, a mentor and friend of many of today’s prominent Christian leaders, died early Wednesday morning, reports The Christian Post. Dr. Hendricks, known simply as “Prof,” served on the faculty of Dallas Theological Seminary for 61 years, where he taught more than ten thousand students. One such student was Rev. Erwin Lutzer, pastor of Moody Church in Chicago, who came from Canada to attend seminary in 1963. He was shy and lonely. He sat at the front of the class but never got involved in discussions. One day Dr. Hendricks asked to speak to him. “He encouraged me and said, ‘I want to thank you for your teach-ability.’ And he said that he felt I was gifted and that the Lord would use me some day,” said Dr. Lutzer. “You can imagine the sense of confidence and acceptance that I felt in the seminary community after that.”