Connect with us

Politics

Trump, past presidents mourn Billy Graham’s death: ‘There was nobody like him!’

Published

on

President Trump honored the legacy of the late Rev. Billy Graham on Wednesday by calling the evangelist “a very special man” who will be dearly missed.

“The GREAT Billy Graham is dead,” Trump tweeted. “There was nobody like him! He will be missed by Christians and all religions. A very special man.”

Graham, who transformed American religious life through his preaching and activism, becoming a counselor to presidents and the most widely heard Christian evangelist in history, died Wednesday. He was 99.

BILLY GRAHAM DEAD AT 99

Graham, who long suffered from cancer, pneumonia and other ailments, died at his home in North Carolina, spokesman Mark DeMoss said.

Vice President Pence called Graham “one of the greatest Americans of the century.”

“Billy Graham’s ministry for the gospel of Jesus Christ and his matchless voice changed the lives of millions,” Pence said. “We mourn his passing but I know with absolute certainty that today he heard those words, ‘well done good and faithful servant.’ Thank you Billy Graham.”

Former President George H.W. Bush called Graham “America’s pastor” and recalled Graham visiting his family in Maine, where they would take boat rides and “talk about life.”

“His faith in Christ and his totally honest evangelical spirit inspired people across the country and around the world,” Bush said. “I think Billy touched the hearts of not only Christians, but people of all faiths, because he was such a good man. I was privileged to have him as a personal friend.”

Bush added: “We will miss our good friend forever.”    

Former President Jimmy Carter said in a statement that Graham “had an enormous influence on my own spiritual life.”

“Rosalynn and I are deeply saddened to learn of the death of The Reverend Billy Graham,” Carter said. “Tirelessly spreading a message of fellowship and hope, he shaped the spiritual lives of tens of millions of people worldwide. Broad-minded, forgiving, and humble in his treatment of others, he exemplified the life of Jesus Christ by constantly reaching out for opportunities to serve.”

More than anyone else, Graham built evangelicalism into a force that rivaled liberal Protestantism and Roman Catholicism in the United States. His leadership summits and crusades in more than 185 countries and territories forged powerful global links among conservative Christians, and threw a lifeline to believers in the communist-controlled Eastern bloc. Dubbed “America’s pastor,” he was a confidant to U.S. presidents from Gen. Dwight Eisenhower to George W. Bush.

In 1983, President Reagan gave Graham the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor. When the Billy Graham Museum and Library was dedicated in 2007 in Charlotte, former Presidents Bush, Carter and Bill Clinton attended.

Fox News’ David Lewkowict and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Alex Pappas is a politics reporter at FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AlexPappas.



Source link

Politics

Tory MP says scrapping English Votes for English Laws is about ‘strengthening the Union’

Published

on

A TORY MP in Wales has said English Votes for English Laws was used to “reinforce a message with voters that the Union is divided”.

Source link

Continue Reading

Politics

Civilian deaths, Taliban attacks rising as full U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan looms, report says

Published

on

WASHINGTON — Civilian casualties and Taliban attacks in Afghanistan are mounting as the U.S. withdrawal nears completion and the Afghan military continues its collapse, according to a new quarterly report from a U.S. government watchdog that describes a country ravaged by Covid-19 and violence.

The report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or SIGAR, found a “dramatic increase in enemy-initiated attacks” from January through March of this year compared to the same time in previous years. There were 10,431 attacks this year, up from 7,620 last year and 6,358 in 2019.

Attacks have been increasing since the U.S.-Taliban agreement on Feb. 29, 2020, with more attacks in each three-month period since the agreement than in the same quarters in the previous year.

The number of attacks against the Afghan military and civilians has increased significantly this year, the report says, with many attacks coming during the Taliban offensive now sweeping across the country.

The Taliban launched an offensive in May after U.S. and coalition military forces began withdrawing. The offensive accelerated in June and July.

However, the report notes that Afghan forces have stopped reporting attacks as their situation deteriorates, and it says the U.S. stopped collecting attack data effective May 31 with the end of the U.S. training and advisory mission.

Civilian deaths were rising until the end of that reporting period. Resolute Support, the NATO mission in Afghanistan, reported 2,035 civilian casualties in April and May — 705 deaths and 1,330 injuries. That is nearly as many civilian casualties as in the first three months of this year combined, 2,149, and higher than in April and May of last year. According to Resolute Support, the top two causes of civilian casualties were improvised explosive devices and direct fire, and 93 percent of civilian casualties in April and May were from insurgents, largely the Taliban.

The Taliban have overrun Afghan military checkpoints and bases, district centers and a series of key border crossings, according to the SIGAR report. In some cases, the Afghan military forces, known as ANDSF, have fled.

“In some districts ANDSF forces put up some level of resistance and conducted a tactical (fighting) retreat, while in others they surrendered or fled in disorder,” the report says, citing news reports that 1,600 ANDSF fled into Tajikistan this month to avoid Taliban advances in Badakhshan province.

At a briefing last week, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Mark Milley, said the Taliban control about half of the 419 district centers in Afghanistan and are pressuring 17 of the country’s 34 provincial capitals.

“Particularly concerning was the speed and ease with which the Taliban seemingly wrested control of districts in Afghanistan’s northern provinces, once a bastion of anti-Taliban sentiment,” the SIGAR report says. At a news conference June 29, the former commander of the NATO Resolute Support Mission, Army Gen. Scott Miller, told reporters: “We should be concerned. The loss of terrain and the rapidity of that loss of terrain has to be concerning.”

The SIGAR also found that most Afghan military forces “refuse to execute missions.” Instead, the more highly trained and proficient Afghan special operators are used for basic tasks like route clearance, checkpoint security and quick reaction forces.

The Afghan air force is overtaxed now that U.S. air support has largely ended, according to the report. All Afghan air force aircraft are flying at least 25 percent over their recommended scheduled maintenance, the report found, and the readiness of most of the aircraft has plummeted since most U.S. support has withdrawn. The UH-60 Blackhawk fleet was at 77 percent readiness in May and dropped to 39 percent in June.

The U.S. military has carried out a handful of airstrikes against the Taliban this month, according to defense officials, but the aircraft fly in from neighboring countries now that nearly all U.S. military forces and equipment have left Afghanistan. Once the U.S. military mission officially ends on Aug. 31, the U.S. will still carry out strikes against Al Qaeda and Islamic State terrorists, but it will no longer carry out strikes against the Taliban.

Meanwhile, the report says, the Afghan public is coping with a 2,400 percent increase in Covid cases, the majority from the delta variant. According to the U.N., half of the population requires humanitarian assistance.



Source link

Continue Reading

Politics

Clean energy, aging grid to get big boosts under infrastructure deal

Published

on

WASHINGTON – The nation’s aging power grid and burgeoning clean energy sector are set to get major boosts under a $550 billion bipartisan infrastructure deal reached by the Senate and the White House.

Although details of what’s in the deal are still scarce, the agreement includes $73 billion to expand clean sources of energy and the ability to move it from place to place, in what the White House calls the “single largest investment in clean energy transmission in American history.” It includes an additional $7.5 billion to build out electric vehicle charging stations across the U.S. as the nation seeks to wean itself from gas-guzzling cars and trucks.

At the same time, the deal will clear away major impediments to adopting clean energy and work to cut red tape that has complicated efforts to build sorely needed new power lines, according to a White House description of the agreement.

It’s a far cry from the eye-popping numbers President Joe Biden initially proposed in March in his American Jobs Plan, which included $100 billion for the power grid, $174 billion for electric vehicles and $46 billion for clean energy manufacturing. But Democrats are expected to shoehorn much of the spending left out of the bipartisan deal into their separate, $3.5 billion spending bill they plan to pass without Republican support.

A look at the clean energy provisions in the bipartisan deal:

New transmission lines

Two of the biggest energy challenges – resilience and emissions – both depend on a common factor: the energy grid.

The more reliably interconnected the electricity network is, the better any region can handle disruptions that affect local own power-generating abilities. This year’s electricity crisis in Texas illustrated how the state’s isolation from other power sources has left it with insufficient backup if things go wrong.

Transmission lines are also critical to widespread adoption of renewable energy like wind, solar and geothermal. Fossil fuel plants like coal and natural gas can generally be built close to where the electricity will be used. But clean energy often must be transported long distances to communities from parts of the country where, for example, it’s windy or sunny.

That requires new high-voltage transmission lines – and the White House says the $73 billion investment will include building “thousands of miles of new, resilient transmission lines” to help expand renewable energy.

‘Grid deployment authority’

Another huge obstacle to construction new power lines is the endless red tape and finding sites where you can get permissions to build, power industry analysts say.

Unlike with interstate oil or gas pipelines, there’s no single, federal authority you can apply to for permission to build power lines. Long-distance, high-voltage lines cross multiple states, municipalities and other jurisdictions that all may require different permits – or not grant them at all.

The bipartisan deal will create a new federal entity, called a Grid Deployment Authority, to “finance and encourage the development of high-voltage transmission lines,” the White House says. Housed within the Energy Department, the authority will make use of existing public property –highways, roads and railways – to secure rights-of-way for new power lines.

Electric vehicles

The $7.5 billion for electric vehicle charger stations is the first such investment by the federal government, the Biden administration says. But it’s less than 5 percent of the amount Biden initially said was needed to meet his goal of erecting a half-million charger stations across the country.

Consumers regularly cite “range anxiety” – the fear that an electric vehicle will run out of charge before they can recharge it – as a key reason they’ve waited to go electric. The White House says the funding will be focused on deploying chargers along highways, within communities and in places that are “rural, disadvantaged and hard-to-reach.”

Other spending

The infrastructure deal also seeks to speed up development of smart grids, advanced transmission and “next-generation technologies,” although it’s not immediately clear exactly how much funding will be dedicated to those priorities or how it will be spent.

Notably, the White House singled out several technologies that would be prioritized that are generally considered “clean,” but not “renewable.” That means they produce less or no greenhouse gas emissions, but still use up a fuel that doesn’t exist in endless amounts, like the sun and wind.

Among them: Advanced nuclear reactors, as well as carbon capture, an emerging but expensive technology that seeks to capture carbon dioxide emissions from burning coal or natural gas and store it before it can enter the atmosphere. The administration also said the deal includes “clean hydrogen,” in which renewable electricity is used to create hydrogen gas that can then be burned with almost no emissions.

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending