President Donald Trump gave a clear and forceful message on pro-life issues during the State of the Union Address tonight.
He slammed the governors of New York and Virginia for promoting abortion up to birth and infanticide. And he called for Congress to pass a ban on late-term abortions on babies who are capable of feeling pain.
There could be no greater contrast to the beautiful image of a mother holding her infant child than the chilling displays our nation saw in recent days.
Lawmakers in New York cheered with delight upon the passage of legislation that would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother’s womb moments before birth. These are living, feeling, beautiful babies who will never get the chance to share their love and dreams with the world.
And then, we had the case of the governor of Virginia where he stated he would execute a baby after birth. To defend the dignity of every person, I am asking Congress to pass legislation to prohibit the late-term abortion of children who can feel pain in the mother’s womb.
Let us work together to build a culture that cherishes innocent life.
And let us reaffirm a fundamental truth — all children — born and unborn— are made in the holy image of God.
In emails to LifeNews, pro-life groups praised the President:
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Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life:
We greatly appreciate the leadership President Trump has shown in advancing the cause for life during his time in office. Tonight, he used his State of the Union address to highlight the extremism of the pro-abortion agenda most recently and fully on display in New York and Virginia, and stressed the need for legislation like the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. President Trump has once again demonstrated the paramount importance of protecting mothers and their unborn children.
In response, Susan B. Anthony List praised President Trump’s remarks:
“Once again President Trump has proved he is our nation’s most pro-life president ever and he is keeping his promise to the voters who fueled his victory,” said SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “The contrast between President Trump’s vision for the future and that of the Democratic Party, now dominated by abortion extremists, is stark. Senate Democrats had the chance yesterday to prove they are not the party of infanticide, and instead they doubled down on a radical agenda of abortion on demand through birth and even beyond. That position that is simply irreconcilable with the values of the American people. We ask Congress to heed President Trump’s request, and to send the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to his desk without delay. This popular, compassionate legislation would protect unborn babies after five months – more than halfway through pregnancy, and a point at least by which these children can feel the pain of abortion.”
“The greatness of our nation is defined by the way we treat the most innocent and vulnerable among us, and the time for choosing is more pivotal than ever. All decent Americans must stand up, speak out, and defeat abortion extremism at the ballot box in 2020.”
Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins:
“Never before has the contrast between the two parties been more clear, as there seems to be no line that the Democratic Party will draw when it comes to protecting either life in the womb or the health of women in abortion facilities. And as we saw with Pelosi’s guest, Planned Parenthood has friends in government as it draws in more than half-a-billion in taxpayer dollars.
“President Trump’s comments in support of life are an important call to action for all of us. I applaud him for using the bully pulpit to celebrate life.”
Russell Craig — former North Philly foster kid, runaway, drug dealer, and felon; current-day muralist, teacher, Ford Foundation “Art for Justice” honoree, and conceptual artist — didn’t so much break into the art world as sneak in.
He’d heard about Mural Arts Philadelphia’s programs at Graterford state prison, where he was serving a 5-to-10-year sentence. So one day, he got a pass to go to the library but crept into the auditorium to crash a Mural Arts meeting instead — even though the punishment for being caught in an unauthorized location would be 90 days in solitary.
“But I had to take a chance,” he said. “I made a plan within my mind that I was going to be an artist when I got out.”
This week, Craig and Jesse Krimes — another up-and-coming Philadelphia artist who served time in federal prison for drug charges — will debut their most ambitious project ever with Mural Arts Philadelphia. Called Portraits of Justice, it’s a large-scale, interactive public artwork right across from City Hall at the Municipal Services Building that incorporates visual art, a performance series, and a symposium.
It reflects a push by Mural Arts Philadelphia, along with other like-minded advocacy organizations around the country, not just to run programs for formerly incarcerated people but to elevate them to positions of real authority.
“We need to find opportunities to put people in leadership positions who have been directly impacted by the system,” said Jane Golden, Mural Arts’ executive director.
To that end, Craig and Krimes developed the concept for the mural, featuring portraits of young people in Mural Arts’ Guild reentry program, along with an interactive component inviting participants to offer solutions to mass incarceration. They’re also overseeing a performance series by fellows like the poet Reginald Dwayne Betts, and a symposium in collaboration with Philadelphia criminal justice agencies, like the DA’s office and the courts.
It’s a vertigo-inducing ascendancy for Craig — just five years out of prison and not quite off parole.
He has found himself straddling two worlds. One’s the arena of art insiders, mingling at the Getty at an event in honor of Agnes Gund, whose Art for Justice fund gave him a $100,000 grant, and showing in New York, alongside the likes of Hank Willis Thomas and Dread Scott at the Museum of Broken Windows, a group exhibition about police violence. The other is the one he grew up in, working with young men torn between the streets and the possibility of something more. Craig’s well aware that, just recently, he was in that position himself.
DHS: ‘the majority of my childhood’
Craig never met his father, and was removed from his mother’s Nicetown home when he was 7, after her alcoholism turned to brutal abuse.
“Department of Human Services — that was like the majority of my childhood,” he said. He kept running away from foster homes; it never seemed as if he belonged. When he went to school, he didn’t pay much attention. He’d get in trouble for doodling on scrap paper: the Simpsons, Spiderman.
By 15, he was living on his own, supporting himself by dealing drugs. That seemed normal, too.
“You don’t really be realizing that you’re committing a crime. And running from the police, going to jail, it’s all part of the game,” he said. “Once I went to [state] prison, I realized there was something wrong here. How do I keep getting locked up? I’ve got to do something different.”
After a series of short jail terms, Craig was incarcerated on felony drug charges at Graterford state prison, a maximum-security institution in Montgomery County.
In his five years there, he never saw a single visitor. There was no one to put money on his commissary account. What he did have, though, was an indigent’s kit — with deodorant, toothpaste, and a ballpoint pen that he used to scratch out his first drawings.
Eventually, Craig got his hands on a No. 2 pencil, and that’s when possibilities began to open up. He began to treat prison like some sort of intensive artist’s residency, drawing from morning to night.
Art offered an escape, a distraction from everything happening around him.
It also provided an income, once Craig discovered an untapped art market from fellow inmates eager for pencil drawings of their loved ones.
Once he sold enough of those, he invested in pastel crayons. His commissioned pastel portraits he could make in a day and sell for $40 apiece. Fellow prisoners would put money on his commissary account or pay in cigarettes, which were as good as cash. Others would buy him art supplies instead.
“It grew to the point I had so many art supplies, I had more than you was allowed to have,” Craig said. “And the guards wasn’t on my back that bad because they even respected my art. … That’s an example of how art is powerful.”
Like the day the acrylic paints Craig ordered finally arrived and he’d gotten a library pass to peruse a how-to book. On the way back to his cell, absorbed in thoughts of what he could do with this new medium, he walked onto the wrong cellblock. That time he was disciplined for being in an unauthorized area. He spent 30 days in solitary, thinking about painting and listening to inmates’ manic screams echoing around the restricted housing unit.
‘Now, we’re painting stuff that has meaning’
On a recent morning at the Feltonville Recreation Center, whose brick face has been transformed by Guild workers into a lush floral motif, a corps of young men dabbed at walls with brilliant orange paint under the gaze of Dawan Williams — another former Graterford inmate who’s taken on a leadership role.
A second crew is in a classroom next door, where Craig’s been teaching them about conceptual art. It’s not an obvious choice for young men mostly referred by probation and parole officers. Craig tries to find projects that resonate, like work inspired by Jean-Michel Basquiat: “He came from the hood; he was young, black, poor.”
Talib Stone, 21, held up a painting that he said was his first attempt since a tedious elementary school art class. “Back then, we painted stuff that had no meaning, like a balloon,” he said. “Now, we’re painting stuff that has meaning.”
For this project, he repurposed a controversial H&M ad that featured a young black boy in a hoodie with the text “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle,” creating a stark black-and-white image. “I feel like they did that because we … fight each other, kill each other, go to jail. It gives them license to do it.”
Craig is new to managing a classroom — and it shows when the discussion rapidly veers off track, or when he frowns over a stack of paintings that attempted but failed to pay homage to Diego Rivera.
When all else fails, Craig takes his students to the basketball court.
“I’m trying to inspire them,” he said, “not to be an artist necessarily but to think deeper.”
Craig started out in the Guild himself when he came out of prison, but Mural Arts quickly put him to work on a mural high above Broad and Lehigh, not too far from where Craig grew up.
“He was clearly somebody who had remarkable talent,” Golden said.
That was the foothold he needed — to begin supporting himself with his art, to connect with other artists, to find a studio and then his first gallery show. Recently, his work has been on display at the Magic Gardens and the African American Museum in Philadelphia.
Craig has been able to experiment with new media. He’s created work from his own prison paperwork, and painted on a larger scale than his setup in prison would have allowed. His work is how he processes injustices in the world, and attempts to challenge them.
Of course, there are trade-offs.
“When I was in prison, I was very focused. You didn’t have distractions. … All I was thinking about was art,” he said. “Now, I try to find a way how can I get into that zone, being in the free world.”
At a time when rancorous battles over the Supreme Court, midterm elections, and kneeling athletes are dividing friends and families, Losang Samten is releasing healing energy into an angry world, if only for a moment.
A former Tibetan Buddhist monk, Samten is a master of the andala, a spiritual sand painting whose creation is part meditation, part art. Since Sunday, he and apprentice Soo Kyong Kim have spent five hours each day sprinkling grains of sand in 30 colors onto a 5-foot-by-5-inch glass table at the Chenrezig Tibetan Buddhist Center in Northern Liberties. Ever so slowly this week, an image has been emerging of the Green Tara, a beloved Buddhist deity, the mother-savior-protectress, who represents wisdom and compassion.
“There is a lot of fear, concern, anger, and hatred,” Samten, 66, said during an interview at the center’s new headquarters on Marshall Street, where he is spiritual director. “We want to make peace.”
By Sunday, when the piece is finished, he and Kim, a 53-year-old musician, will have surrounded the Green Tara with 21 other goddesses.
Then, Samten said, they will “dismantle” it.
The mandala (Sanskrit for circle) is a spiritual symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism that represents the universe. It is a collection of geometric shapes that emanate from the center of a circle, and typically contain depictions of religious iconography, including deities and temples. Creating one is a meditative practice.
They are using two metal cone-like instruments called chak-pur to pour the sand onto a grid drawn by Samten. One cone, filled with the sand, distributes it onto the table through a tiny hole, while the other cone, which is empty, is used to tap on the sand-filled one, an action that regulates the amount and speed at which the grains are dispensed.
Samten and Kim are working on the mandala from 1 to 6 p.m. daily through Saturday, and the public is invited to watch. On Sunday at about noon, those gathered at the center will scoop up the delicately placed grains in a ritual that signifies life’s impermanence. They may take home envelopes of sand as a blessing, while leftover grains that once depicted a goddess will be dumped in a body of water to bless the environment.
A large picture of the Green Tara hangs on the wall of the center, a rendering that Samten has had since shortly after moving to America in 1988.
Born in Tibet, Samten fled China at 5 with his family in 1959 during the Communist takeover. The family settled in India, where Samten entered the exiled Dalai Lama’s Namgyal Monastery. He served as an assistant to the Dalai Lama and began learning the sacred art of the mandala as a teenager.
He was sent to the U.S. to spread the gospel of the mandala in 1988 when New York writer/artist and Buddhist practitioner Barry Bryant asked the Dalai Lama to send someone skilled in the practice. Samten settled in Philadelphia after he createda mandala at the Penn Museum and a group of professors pleaded with the Dalai Lama to allow him to stay.
Since then, Samten has completed hundreds of mandalas around the world, at universities, museums, schools, and prisons, with the longest taking five weeks. Coming up are mandalas in California, New Jersey, Brazil, and in Philadelphia at the Folk Arts-Cultural Treasures Charter, where Samten is a teacher in residence. He gave up being a monk 20 years ago because he was “more comfortable” as a lay teacher in his adopted home.
For the last decade, Samten has done virtually no mandalas at his own center because its 80 members have been nomads for the last 27 years, renting spaces in museums, churches, and schools.
In 2010, the community purchased its present building, on a then-decrepit block of Marshall Street, and transformed it into a quiet sanctuary for meditation. The Green Tara is the second mandala Samten has done since moving into the new headquarters, on a now-gentrified block in transition.
When he’s creating, Samten says, his mind is empty. There is only a mental quietness. It is a skill that Kim hasn’t yet mastered. When she’s creating a mandala, her mind is racing. “I’m thinking about all sorts of things, like if the line of sand” she’s sprinkling on the mandala is a straight one, Kim said.
Samten has slowed his mandala creation, in part, because of age — his eyes, he said, aren’t want they used to be — but also because he is busy with other projects. He leads retreats and workshops and runs the center, which is frequented by people of all faith traditions.
He worries about the future of sand painting that right now flourishes only in India. Kim gives him hope. A violist, music teacher, and graduate of Julliard, she has been a member of the center for 20 years and studied with the mandala master throughout. Her apprenticeship became official last year as part of a program with the Philadelphia Folklore Project.
“It’s art. It’s beautiful,” Kim said, “and I want to keep up a tradition that is fading.”
Doctored images of Parkland shooting survivor Emma González, which appear to show her tearing up a copy of the U.S. Constitution, have been making the rounds in some circles of the American right over the weekend. The fakes were based on an image and GIF from a feature on González and her classmates which showed her ripping up a gun target poster. The color of González’s face was also changed in the fake photograph to create dark circles around her eyes.
“In just a few weeks’ time, we, the youth of the United States, have built a new movement to denounce gun violence and call for safety in all of our communities. And this is only the beginning.” #EmmaGonzalez writes our March cover story — a rallying cry for all of America’s children. Link in bio. 📽: @tylersphotos Makeup: @gracegraceahn Styling: @cocostyle1 Hair: @rubi_jones
A post shared by Teen Vogue (@teenvogue) on
It’s not clear where the fake images originated or how widely seen they have been. The image and GIF appear to have been posted together, with racist filenames, in a political thread at the infamous troll haven 4chan on Saturday afternoon. The images were then eventually shared by some popular figures on the right, including the actor and conservative commentator Adam Baldwin:
— Adam Baldwin (@AdamBaldwin) March 24, 2018
Baldwin subsequently defended the doctored GIF as “political satire.” Another post sharing the image in the SJWHATE subreddit on Saturday claimed that “This is the Left.”
The fake images were originally flagged on Twitter by Don Moynihan, the departing director of the La Follette School of Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison:
— Don Moynihan (@donmoyn) March 25, 2018
In his corresponding thread, Moynihan pointed out that it was impossible to know if the Twitter user who he originally saw post the image was, as their username suggested, a real NRA supporter, or, perhaps, a bot being run by Russian trolls or someone else. (That user was later suspended by Twitter, suggesting the account was a bot.) Others have rightfully pointed out that the falsified images are also a good example of the kind of information warfare that has recently infected American politics.
In less than a month and a half, Emma González has quickly become one of the country’s most outspoken and admired advocates for gun control. Just days after surviving the mass shooting which killed 17 people at her high school in Parkland, Florida, the teenager gave an impassioned speech against the nation’s weak gun laws and the NRA that quickly went viral. Along with some of her Stoneman Douglas classmates, she then helped found the gun-control advocacy group Never Again MSD, and helped organize and lead Saturday’s worldwide March For Our Lives rallies. González even delivered one of the most powerful speeches at the main rally in Washington, D.C., remaining silent for several minutes after listing the names of those killed in Parkland.
Unfortunately, González and her classmates’ outspokenness has also made them a target for criticism and ridicule by some on the right, as well as subject to death threats and conspiracy theories.
President Trump posted a photo of his paycheck to Twitter on Monday, revealing that the money would be donated to the Department of Homeland Security. (AP Photo)
President Trump on Monday revealed he donated a quarter of his $400,000 salary to the Department of Homeland Security.
“While the press doesn’t like writing about it, nor do I need them to, I donate my yearly Presidential salary of $400,000.00 to different agencies throughout the year, this to Homeland Security,” Trump tweeted. “If I didn’t do it there would be hell to pay from the FAKE NEWS MEDIA!”
Trump posted a photo of the check, which was dated March 12 and paid to the order of the Department of Homeland Security. It was signed by Trump, whose address was listed as Trump Tower on New York City’s Fifth Avenue.
It was not immediately clear for what quarter the paycheck stems from, but the White House in January said Trump donated his salary from the third quarter of 2018 to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
While a candidate for the presidency in 2016, Trump pledged not to accept the $400,000 annual presidential salary, which, by law, must be paid out.
So Trump has donated the quarterly payments to various federal departments and agencies — including the departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Transportation and Veterans Affairs, among others.
Homeland Security is comprised of several different agencies or organizations that focus on securing the U.S. and its citizens. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the Coast Guard, the Secret Service, Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are among those included under the department umbrella.
Fox News’ Madeline Fish and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
I love Sunset Magazine’s…well, I was going to say I love their travel articles but actually I love many things about that magazine. I just saw their article on “14 Best Unsung Beach Towns” and something about the cover photo resonated with me.
Actually, the entire topic is one I am drawn to – small, outt-of-the-way, as-yet undiscovered towns……
Well, I kept thinking I had seen that cover photo location in person. So, I went back to last year’s photos and it turns out that during our Highway 101 Road trip I stayed in, and photographed their #1 town – Bandon, Oregon.
Above is one of the images I took during sunset, with some painterly magic done to it.
BTW, speaking of magic – that’s a 5″ wide puddle in front of me, reflecting the 50+ foot tall rock in the ocean. I was laying on wet sand, lining my camera just in front of this puddle to get this shot. I didn’t mind getting covered in wet sand; I just wanted to keep safe from it. The rock reflection is particularly dark in the little puddle as that’s pure water, and then it is lighter beyond since that’s just wet sand which is slightly less reflective.
Here is what Sunset Magazine says about Bandon (their words, not mine):
As any upstanding Oregonian knows, the real old school Oregon coast lies down south, in quintessential Oregon beach towns like Bandon. You expect festivity: seaside carnival barkers, maybe a roller coaster. But actually … nothing is happening in Bandon. Tourists schlump down the street sipping coffee at the mouth of the Coquille River, at the town’s edge. Seagulls squawk on the Boardwalk, and a few sprightly old ladies sample the gratis cranberry candies at the Chamber of Commerce. The world slows down, and you notice things. Like the vibrant green algae growing on the rocks in the tidal flats south of town. Stroll out toward those rocks and look down, for Bandon’s best beachcombing is here. Bandon’s beaches can seem otherworldly, like a backdrop to a Maurice Sendak story. Stairs lead you down to the sand. Here is a little cave that someone has turned into a lean-to, lining thin driftwood logs across the front. Here is a curlicue tree limb, twisted in the surf like a giant elk antler. And here is a 40-foot-long tree trunk, bark and all, that will be swallowed up by the waves. Looming above everything are massive rocks that wade, humanlike, in the water. –Sunset Magazine on Bandon, OR, from “Top 14 Unsung Beach Towns”
So, if you haven’t visited this adorable and photogenic town, I agree with Sunset and I recommend it!
The post Best Unsung Beaches – Bandon, OR (photo by Natascha Lee Studios) appeared first on Natascha Lee Studios.