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In the U.K., you only have value if you are wanted


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BRITAIN’S GOVERNMENT: HELPING LONELINESS

TOM LAMPRECHT: Loneliness has become such a problem in the United Kingdom that the country now has a Minister of Loneliness. Prime Minister Theresa May announced the creation of the new position. May stated, “For far too many people, loneliness is the sad reality of modern life.”   

DR. REEDER: There’s a number of things here, Tom, from a Christian world and life view, looking at this news report that Forbes has brought to us. Number one is, of course, the go-to now in Britain, fully-embedded, whatever the issues are in the nation, the government is our solution.

It’s really a totally different mindset than what is embedded in our Constitution and in our historic values in America, which was the government had a responsibility to maintain law and order and it had a responsibility for the general welfare in terms of commerce and upholding the rights that God had given to all of its citizens, but it wasn’t the go-to solution to the issues of the day.

It was supposed to protect society and its freedoms and then out of society would come the answers as people would address the issues, thus, the First Amendment which was the free practice of religion and free speech, assembly, etc.

However, in Britain, it’s automatically assumed, even on the conservative side and the conservative party there, that the answer is found in governmental provision. They had a survey that was done and the survey came back and showed that, throughout society, there was loneliness because of a sense of — now hear this word carefully — alienation.

And the two demographics that manifested it the most were the youth and teenagers and the elderly. The elderly, they felt alienated, lonely, abandoned and youth felt alienated and lonely. The roots of this issue of alienation has its roots in only one place and there’s only one solution to it but what are some of the contributing factors?

A PRO-ABORTION CULTURE JUDGES YOU ON WHETHER YOU ARE WANTED

In a culture that embraces death such as abortion and, at the moment, passive euthanasia but rapidly becoming active, the two segments of the demography is going to be the youth and the elderly who are sensing, on the one hand, “I’m not wanted,” and on the other hand, “The only reason I’m here is because somebody said, ‘Well, I think I want them,’ but I don’t have any intrinsic dignity other than somebody wanted me.”

Therefore, you set up this idolatry of affirmation and this idolatry of being wanted and, actually, you can never be wanted enough by people around you to feel that you are significant and that you have dignity.

Christian world and life view says, no, you don’t have dignity because you are wanted and you don’t have dignity because you are considered in the realm of perfection in society physically and mentally — you are wanted because you are made in the image of God and you have an intrinsic dignity that God has given to you and that God has granted to you by making you in His image.

That world and life view comes at it totally differently than the notion that your existence is dependent on the fact that you’re wanted. If you’re not wanted or if you’re not considered perfect — if we get a reading in your birth process that there may be some abnormality with you — then we are going to destroy you.

Recently, Tom, there was a pro-abortion advertisement and this lady is now suing them because they took a picture of her 9-year-old child with some challenging deformities and said, “If you pro-life people want to give birth to people like this, fine, but society’s not going to help you.”

In other words, “Society has determined that child was not worth living and, if you didn’t decide to destroy that child in the womb, then we’re going to cut you off from society because we have decided that those lives are not worth living.” That comes straight out of the eugenics movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

HOW DOES SOCIAL MEDIA TIE INTO ALIENATION?

There’s a second thing that’s at work here and I think it’s social media. Everybody is judging their worth by if I put something on Facebook, how many likes do I get? How many friends do I have? And, by the way, forget the notion that those people really aren’t friends — there is this desire to be connected to people and social media says we can do it.

It’s being marketed as, “You are somebody because you are liked by people. You are their friends. You are connected to them. You put something on the internet — some stream of consciousness statement — and then people are going to like it. And, see, that means people like you.”

Particularly, the youth are susceptible to that and this alienation issue is continuing. The elderly think, “We’re not wanted. We’re not considered desirable for society. We are a blight on society. We are a burden to society.”

Well, the answer is, according to Theresa May, we’ll get a Minister to Loneliness.

IS LONELINESS A LEGITIMATE CONCERN?

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, to that end, Vivek Murthy, who was the former surgeon general of the United States, recently wrote, “Loneliness is a growing health epidemic. We live in the most technologically connected age in the history of civilization, yet rates of loneliness have doubled since the 1980s.”

DR. REEDER: As one writer said years ago in the book, MegaTrends, high-tech will be low-touch. Everybody’s got the high tech, but there’s no face-to-face relationships. There’s no getting in one another’s life — it’s all digital. Nothing sinful about media or technology — that’s amoral — it’s how is it being used and how is it being embraced? It’s one thing for it to be an instrument of communication, but it’s another thing that it is the source of your meaning in life and your significance in life. And so, what’s being found out is that, well, it just doesn’t work and I’m not sensing my worth in life. And then, on the other hand, somebody unfriends me and then there’s a sense of alienation.

Therefore, what do we do about this increasing alienation? Well, we need to understand that the foundation of it is that, apart from Christ, we’re alienated from God because of our sin. And what does our sin do? It leads us to idolatry — that we live in contradiction to the God that we were made for His glory and to enjoy Him forever.

Therefore, “No, I will make my own gods to give me my joy,” and so we embrace the idolatry of achievement, of academics, of athletics, or of social media or the digital world. We embrace the idolatry that there is my meaning, and strength, and significance, and security and life and it never delivers. It’s Ecclesiastes all over again: “Everything is empty; all is vanity.”

ALIENATION FROM GOD IS WHAT CHRIST OVERCAME FOR US

The answer is not to upgrade your use of social media, but the answer is to come to Christ.

I love the Gospel message in 2 Corinthians 5 that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself — that God was in Christ, reconciling. In other words, we were alienated from him because of our sin. God sends His Son, who goes to the cross and, when He goes to the cross, He made Him Who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Jesus Christ, at the cross, takes our old record of our life, our record of sin and He pays for it by taking the judgment that should have been due to us and He puts Himself in our place. I love that passage in 2 Corinthians 5 where it says, “God did not count our transgressions, our sins against us. He counted it against Christ and Christ paid for those sins.” So that, when you come to Christ, He takes your sins — they’re changed from you to Him — and He pays for them. And then He takes His righteousness and gives it to you with His blessings.

And you’re reconciled to God and you now have a life of reconciliation and you are reconciled to others because now I don’t look at my husband, my wife, my Facebook, my technology or any of that as my meaning in life because I have meaning in life — I am a child of God. I have a relationship with God and I can enjoy Him forever and God is right within me.

Therefore, I say to folks the minister to loneliness is not a cabinet position; the minister to loneliness is the one with the message of reconciliation and the Good News that Jesus saves sinners. And the minister to loneliness is Jesus Christ, Who will make you right with God and then send His Spirit so that He is now at work right within you and will never leave you, nor forsake you. Now you’re free to enjoy life for His glory because you enjoy Him and His glory. There is your minister of loneliness. Come to Christ.

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin, editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News, who has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and whose work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

 

6 hours ago

The surprising link between Alabama seafood, timber and U.S. national security, and how Shelby is leading the way

There are plenty of areas of debate over exactly how and where the U.S. should spend its foreign aid dollars. But for Alabamians in particular — and the entire Gulf Coast region more broadly — the international assistance that flows into cracking down on illegal wildlife trafficking is paying massive dividends, both economically and, perhaps more surprisingly, in terms of national security.

A survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation indicates Americans grossly overestimate the amount the federal government spends on foreign aid.  The average answer was foreign aid accounts for a whopping 31 percent of spending. Fifteen percent of respondents actually thought it represented over half of the U.S. budget.

In reality, according to the Congressional Research Service, it accounts for about 1 percent total when military, economic development and humanitarian efforts are combined.  And it is paying massive dividends for Alabama.

Here’s how:

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First, foreign aid dollars fund multi-nation efforts to combat illegal trade in timber and fish. These illicit practices cost U.S. foresters and fishers billions of dollars in lost revenue every single year by flooding the market and driving down prices.

According to the Alabama Department of Commerce, “Alabama has the second largest commercial timberland base in the U.S., with 23 million acres. Forestry is the state’s second largest manufacturing industry, producing an estimated $14.8 billion worth of products in 2013, the latest data available.” Alabama also ranked second in the country in fish production. By cracking down on the black-market trading of timber and fish, our foreign aid dollars are protecting Alabama jobs.

Second, foreign aid that flows into international conservation efforts, which has enjoyed bipartisan support for decades, helps countries manage their natural resources sustainably. This prevents the scarcity of water, food or forests that often contributes to instability and sparks regional conflicts.

Third, cracking down on illegal wildlife trafficking cuts off a major source of income for armed groups and organizations with terrorist ties throughout the world, many of which pose a direct threat to American interests.

A report by the United Nations and Interpol found that the “illegal wildlife trade worth up to $213 billion a year is funding organized crime, including global terror groups and militias.” Additionally, “the annual trade of up to $100 billion in illegal logging is helping line the pockets of mafia, Islamist extremists and rebel movements, including Somalia’s Al-Qaeda linked terror group al-Shabaab.”

Fortunately, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), who recently rose to the powerful post of Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, has remained a staunch supporter of ensuring that resources continue to flow into efforts to combat the illegal trade in timber and fish.

“The Committee has worked together to strike the appropriate balance between the competing priorities of law enforcement, national security, scientific advancement, and economic development,” Shelby said after announcing critical funding for Fiscal Year 2018. “Additionally, the measure includes necessary oversight provisions to fight waste, fraud, and abuse. This is a step forward in maintaining critical funding for core programs and addressing the needs of our nation while staying within our spending boundaries.”

The move did not go unnoticed by leaders in the seafood industry, a major source of economic activity in all Gulf States, including Alabama.

“We cannot thank Senator Shelby enough,” said Southern Shrimp Alliance Executive Director John Williams after fiscal year 2018 appropriation. “Their extraordinary efforts ensure the survival of the domestic shrimp fishery in the face of what has been an endless stream of illegal shrimp imports.”

Support for foreign assistance and international conservation is smart domestic policy. It protects our economy and cuts off the flow of cash to criminals and terrorists. Sen. Shelby and the bipartisan coalition of lawmakers from whom he has helped rally support deserve recognition and praise for their leadership.

Allison Ross is the owner of Yellowhammer News.

 

 

7 hours ago

What’s wrong with Calhoun County’s economy?

Earlier this week, Zippia, one of the many job search websites out there, released its list of 2018’s 50 worst job markets in America. Only one in Alabama made the list: Anniston-Jacksonville, AL, which came in at number 43.

That’s not bad given what we’re told about Alabama and poverty. But it does raise one question: Why are Anniston and its surrounding areas struggling compared to other similar places in the state?

Although unemployment in Calhoun County is not nearly as high as counties in the Black Belt, compared to other quasi-urban areas of Alabama, Calhoun has the highest unemployment rate, coming in at 5.9 percent according to data posted recently on the Alabama Department of Labor’s website.

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That far exceeds the seasonally adjusted numbers for the state of Alabama, at 4.1 percent, and nationally, at 4 percent.

So, what gives? Why does Calhoun County struggle economically?

“It’s a good question,” Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Saks) said in response to that in an interview with Yellowhammer News back in April. “I saw those numbers come out for my congressional district and Calhoun County had the highest unemployment rate, still. It is better than it has been, but I don’t know the answer to that question.”

Rogers said part of the answer to that question may be tied to military spending during the Obama administration and its impact on the nearby Anniston Army Depot.

“[T]here was a real downsizing at the Depot,” he added. “They had had a couple more thousand employees than they have now at the height of the war and there had been a downsizing since the drawback from Iraq and Afghanistan. You don’t need to refurbish as much equipment. But now they’re trying to ramp back up as we try to rebuild our military.”

He credited the potential for a turnaround in that trend to President Donald Trump’s commitment to the military.

Beyond that, why isn’t Calhoun County booming? It seems like every other day, Gov. Kay Ivey is announcing a new addition or manufacturing facility in the Huntsville area that includes a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Let’s compare the Anniston-Oxford area to another economic hot spot in Rogers district, the Auburn-Opelika area.  Although Lee County isn’t quite enjoying the successes of Madison and Limestone Counties, it seems to be growing. Its unemployment rate is 4.7 percent – a little higher. But when you look around Auburn and Opelika, there are all kinds of new commercial and residential construction projects.

That doesn’t seem to be a trend in Anniston and Oxford.

Both Lee and Calhoun Counties have some similarities. Having Auburn University in Lee County is a big difference. Besides that, the two approximately the same distance from Atlanta and its international airport. The two are served by the Interstate Highway System – I-20 in Calhoun County and I-85 in Lee County.

If Lee County can make it work, then why not Calhoun County?

Getting to the bottom of determining what is ailing Calhoun County is not an easy chore. Although reading the pages of The Anniston Star is not quite the adventures of “Alice in Wonderland” it was when H. Brandt Ayers was in charge, under Josephine Ayers and Anthony Cook, it still tends to dwell in the politics outside of Calhoun County.

Addressing Calhoun County’s struggles is a politically worthwhile endeavor. While Kay Ivey is patting herself on the back for economic prosperity in north Alabama at plant-opening ceremony number 105, and Walt Maddox is championing his heroics in Tuscaloosa post-2011 tornado devastation, what about Anniston? What about Oxford? What about Jacksonville?

From an outsider’s perspective, there seems to be a presentable case for manufacturing to make Calhoun County a home given its infrastructure and proximities it Atlanta and Birmingham. But first, we need to determine what’s behind its current struggles.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

7 hours ago

Six vote difference: Republicans Todd Rauch and Debbie Wood in tight race for House District 38

Todd Rauch and Debbie Wood are in a tight race to become the Republican nominee for House District 38, where only six votes separate the two candidates. Wood has 2,165 votes to Rauch’s 2,159 votes.

The number is well within Rauch’s reach considering there are still votes to be counted.

A winner won’t be declared until at least next Tuesday, July 24, when provisional ballots are officially counted and even then, it could take longer for Secretary of State John Merrill to certify the results officially declaring a winner.

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“There’s never a winner until everything is certified,” Secretary of State John Merrill told Yellowhammer News.

Even in the case of such a wide margin as Attorney General Steve Marshall has over Troy King – 62 to 38 percent – there is still no official winner because it hasn’t been certified, Merrill said.

Provisional ballots are provided to those whose names do not appear on the voter roles when they show up to vote but who insist they belong, and still want to vote.

In order to have their votes counted, those who participate in the provisional process must prove to the board of registrar’s office that they ought to be on the roles.

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

8 hours ago

Alabamians less likely to be understood by ‘Alexa’ and other ‘smart’ tech because of southern accents

The remarkable drawl that embodies Southern culture may be responsible for the frustration many Alabamians feel when trying to get their smart tech to answer a question. The repeated “Sorry, I didn’t get that” can lead people with accents to underutilize voice-activated devices such as Alexa and Google Home that are rapidly growing in popularity.

study conducted by the Washington Post and two research groups revealed people with Southern accents were three percent less likely to get accurate responses from a Google Home device than those with Western accents.  Foreign accents face the largest challenge with 30 percent more inaccuracies.

But, help is on the way.

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According to the study, the artificial intelligence used in programming the technology is taught to comprehend different accents by processing data from a variety of voices.  The more it learns, the more accurate the programming will become.  Even though these tools may be more useful for some people at the moment, Amazon, the maker of the smart home product Alexa, says to keep trying.

“The more we hear voices that follow certain speech patterns or have certain accents, the easier we find it to understand them.  For Alexa, this no different,” Amazon said in a statement.  “As more people speak to Alexa, and with various accents, Alexa’s understanding will improve.”

Over 20 percent of U.S. households with WiFi utilize smart speakers, and the number of users is growing.  Hopefully, for the benefit of Alabamians, that growth will happen in the South.

Allison Ross is the owner of Yellowhammer News.

Learning from President Trump: Words matter

“I don’t see any reason why it would be”.

Those words, voiced by President Trump when asked whether he believed it was true that Russia interfered with the 2016 election, set off a media firestorm early this week.

Trump, of course, is used to media criticism, but this time was different. Joining the normal critics were a multitude of Fox News hosts including Neil Cavuto, Bret Baier, Brit Hume, Dana Perino, and even Brian Kilmeade of the oft-lauded by Trump Fox and Friends.

The morning after Trump’s press conference with President Putin, Kilmeade spoke in second person “you” language and pleaded for President Trump to clarify his statement and his belief in our intelligence agencies over Russians who, as Kilmeade said “hate democracy.”

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To his credit, Trump – who had previously agreed that Russian meddling existed – corrected his statement within twenty-four hours.

Regardless of whether his clarification was believable or timely, this episode reminds us that in politics and government – and in everyday life – words matter.

19thcentury German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche recognized the power of words. Nietzsche wrote, “All I need is a sheet of paper, and something to write with, and then I can turn the world upside down”.

Nietzsche’s statement wasn’t merely hypothetical. His declaration that “God is dead” shattered worldviews across western civilization into pieces that PureFlix (the movie company behind God’s Not Dead and its sequels) is still trying to pick up.

Even so, it seems that many have forgotten the power of words and have embraced the idea that simply being heard, regardless of content, is of utmost importance.

In NBC’s hit show The Office, Michael Scott tells viewers, “Sometimes I’ll start a sentence and I don’t even know where it’s going. I just hope I find it along the way.” I think a lot of us are more like Michael Scott than we’d like to admit.

We might do well to envision more intentional dialogue from ourselves and from our elected officials, especially our state and local representatives.

In an environment where soundbites are everything, Trump’s statements in Helsinki and the backlash that ensued ought to prompt Alabama officials and candidates to rethink any “wing it” sympathies they may have towards public statements, press conferences, or tweets.

This is even more important in the post-primary period of our election cycle.

Now that the nominees are chosen, we must remind each of their responsibility as leaders to use words, strategies, and express differences in a way that is less divisive and more unifying, less bombastic and more genuine. Our officials and candidates should think twice before resorting to name-calling or vilifying their opponents, as doing so endorses that type of behavior and lowers the standard of Alabamians for those who represent them.

We should also expect, now that the in-fighting of our primary process is over, nominees to run thoughtful campaigns where issues, not personalities, are articulately debated.

Candidates and regular Alabamians alike must remember that words yield tremendous power. Therefore, as Roald Dahl, the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the BFG, and Matilda, suggests, “Don’t gobblefunk around with words”.

Parker Snider is Manager of Policy Relations for the Alabama Policy Institute, an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit research and educational organization dedicated to strengthening free enterprise, defending limited government, and championing strong families.