A good friend and meditation student of mine asked me an excellent question. The question came right after I was telling him a story about an epiphany I just had about the spiritual path. As I look back I am sure the story may have even prompted his question. Anyway here is the question.
“I always focus on clearing my mind and listening to the inner sound during meditation. When I hear the inner sound (aum vibration) I know I am grounded. If I hear it loudly and it feels like I am floating, this is even better. I never have visions or other experiences during meditation and I never thought anything about it. Now I’m beginning to wonder, Do you think my expectations are too low, just being satisfied with what I have? Should he be working harder? If so how?”
John’s first epistle is not about salvation, even though it speaks of the need to confess sin. This letter is written to people who already have a relationship with God but need a reminder of how to remain in fellowship with Him. The Father intends for believers to enjoy His presence, but in order to do that, they must first deal with sin.
As Christians, we have been made new in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), but we’re not yet perfect and therefore still sin. We are humans in a physical body that retains all of its natural tendencies—yearning for fun, rest, food, and pleasure. When those desires are under the Holy Spirit’s control, we live joyful, God-honoring lives. However, if we give in to the temptation to be controlled by our natural tendencies, also known as the flesh, then we have invited sin and darkness into our…
Police in Tanzania have launched an investigation into the murder of a leading elephant conservationist who was shot dead in Dar es Salaam. He had received numerous death threats in connection with his anti-poaching initiatives.
Wayne Lotter, 51, was killed by unknown gunmen in the Tanzanian capital as he travelled by taxi from the city’s airport to his hotel, the Guardianreports. The PAMS Foundation, the NGO Lotter co-founded, supports conservation and anti-poaching efforts in communities across Africa.
“Wayne devoted his life to Africa’s wildlife. From working as a ranger in his native South Africa as a young man to leading the charge against poaching in Tanzania, Wayne cared deeply about the people and animals that populate this world,” the PAMS Foundation team said in a statement posted to Facebook. “He died bravely fighting for the cause he was most passionate about.”
PAMS has protected 32,000 elephants and confiscated more than 1150 firearms, according to its website. It also funds and supports Tanzania’s National and Transnational Serious Crimes Investigation Unit (NTSCIU), the body behind the arrest of “Queen of Ivory” Yang Feng Glan and several other high profile ivory poachers and traders.
African elephant populations shrunk by an estimated 30% between 2007 and 2014, according to the latest elephant census data. Lotter had previously said that the NTSCIU — which has arrested more than 2,000 poachers and traffickers since 2012 — had helped halve poaching rates in Tanzania.
(CNN) President Donald Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon has been fired, multiple White House officials told CNN on Friday.
Sources told CNN that Bannon’s ouster had been in the works for two weeks and a soure said that while Bannon was given the option to resign, he was ultimately forced out. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed Bannon’s departure, but claimed the decision for him to leave was mutual.
“White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve’s last day. We are grateful for his service and wish him the best,” Sanders said in a statement.
The President has privately stewed over Bannon in recent days, including Thursday night from his golf course in New Jersey. He was furious with his chief strategist after he was quoted in an interview with the American Prospect contradicting Trump on North Korea and asserting that Bannon was able to make personnel changes at the State Department.
Bannon’s exit comes just seven months after Trump took office and three weeks after retired Gen. Kelly took over as chief of staff, looking to instill order in a chaotic White House beset by internal divisions, staff infighting and a storm of controversies.
Bannon’s exit meant one of the White House’s most controversial staffers, the man generally perceived as the driving force behind Trump’s “nationalist” ideology, would no longer be at the center of the Trump universe.
Bannon joined Trump’s campaign last year, moving from the sidelines as one of Trump’s top cheerleaders to a position atop his campaign apparatus.
He did not travel with the President during the first week of what White House officials described as a “working vacation” at Trump’s golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey. Instead Bannon remained in Washington where he worked out of a temporary office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building as the West Wing underwent renovations.
Bannon was supposed to be fired two weeks ago, a White House official told CNN’s Jeff Zeleny, but it was put off.
CNN reports the President equivocated after an initial plan was to fire Bannon and then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus at same time, the official says, because Rep. Mark Meadows, the influential chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, and others urged Trump to keep him on board.
The interview this week was enough for Meadows to change his view, a person close to him says.
The question now is whether Bannon will be an ally or a thorn in the side of the Trump administration outside the White House, where he is likely to return to his role as head of Breitbart, the right-wing news site he ran until he joined Trump’s campaign a year ago.
Whatever his plans, Bannon is expected to remain tightly connected to the billionaire conservative father-daughter pair Robert and Rebekah Mercer, who are major investors in Breitbart News and top Trump donors.
Both Bannon and Trump spoke with the Mercers in recent days, a White House official said.
A quick and contentious tenure
Bannon’s turbulent White House tenure was marked by controversy.
In the administration, Bannon frequently butted heads with other advisers to the President, feuding with son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, chief economic adviser Gary Cohn and other more moderate members of the President’s administration whom Bannon branded as “globalists.”
Bannon was often suspected by colleagues of badmouthing them to reporters and he rubbed colleagues the wrong way by attempting to ramrod his ideological positions.
“Steve was never a team player,” a senior administration official said.
Bannon viewed himself as the populist defender of Trump’s campaign promises in the White House, working daily to tick off items from the list of promises that hung on the walls of his West Wing office.
Bannon focused especially on pushing a hardline trade agenda, recently working to cue up a series of trade policies to aggressively target Chinese foreign trade abuses and work toward rebalancing the trading relationship between the US and China.
The fiery chief strategist also led the charge against proposals by national security officials to deepen US military involvement in Afghanistan, feuding vocally during meetings of the National Security Council with national security adviser H.R. McMaster and working behind the scenes to water down hawkish proposals for troop increases and a longer-term US military commitment.
The President is meeting Friday with members of his national security team at Camp David to consider options for the future of the US war in Afghanistan as he nears a decision, but Bannon is not there — and was not scheduled to be, based on a list of attendees the White House sent out Friday morning.
This story is breaking and will update with additional news.
CNN’s Jim Acosta, Jeff Zeleny, Miranda Green and Eli Watkins contributed to this report.
Donald Trump’s Views On Race Should Be No Surprise
A child is not guilty of their fathers sins nor is the father guilty of their children’s sins. Yet most of us know from life’s experiences that way to often a child will follow in many, if not all, of their parents ways of living and of their thoughts and flaws. Way to many children who grew up in a family where the parents are present, or even step parents, the children very often tend to emulate their examples. Way to many boys who lived in a home where the Dad physically beat their Mom grow up to beat their wives and girlfriends. Way to many girls grow up to look for a ‘dangerous’ man, like their Dad. Way to many children who are sexually abused as a child grow up to do the same thing to their kids. A lot of kids who grow up in a home with an alcoholic parent become one themselves just as they do if drugs are in the home, they end up being users themselves. When a child grows up in a home where they see that their parent or parents are liars and thieves the child tends to think that same way of life is okay, after all, Dad does it. When you grow up in a home where the parent teaches a child to crave power over other people through any means necessary, many kids do follow the lead they are given. When you are taught to ‘never, ever’ apologize to anyone for any thing, you tend to grow up aloof and cold to other people’s feelings. When you grow up in a home where your Dad was at least at one time a leader in the local (in this case, New York City) KKK, should anyone be surprised that a child would garner a twisted sense of morals and ideas? Donald Trump’s Dad was arrested at least twice in NYC for leading violent KKK marches. So, should it be a shock that our President acts and believes the way that he does?
Both the Las Ramblas and Cambrils attacks are believed to be linked.
Who has been arrested?
On Thursday, one person from Spain’s north African enclave of Melilla was arrested in Alcanar and a Moroccan was arrested in Ripoll. Both are towns in Catalonia – the same region as Barcelona.
Police say neither of the pair arrested was the driver.
Documents belonging to the Moroccan, 28-year-old Driss Oubakir, were allegedly used to rent the van used in the Las Ramblas attack but local media report he says his papers were stolen and used without his knowledge.
He arrived in Barcelona from Morocco on 13 August, the El Pais newspaper reports, citing police sources.
On Friday, police announced another arrest in Ripoll. It remains unclear how many people were involved in the plots.
Weren’t there other incidents too?
On Thursday evening at 19:30 local time, a car was driven into officers at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Barcelona.
The car was later found with a dead man inside it, but the interior ministry has denied earlier reports he was killed by police gunfire. He is not believed to be linked to the Las Ramblas attack, officials say, but investigations are ongoing
On Wednesday night, an explosion completely destroyed a house in Alcanar, 200km south of Barcelona, killing one person and wounding seven.
Belgium said one of its citizens was killed and France said 26 of its nationals were injured, 11 seriously. The Australian government said at least four citizens were injured.
Who is responsible?
So-called Islamic State (IS) has said it was behind the Las Ramblas attack and that IS “soldiers” carried it out. But it did not provide any evidence or details to back up the claim.
The country is one of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations but in recent years has not seen the kind of jihadist violence that has rocked France, the UK, Belgium and Germany.
Still, Spain has been targeted before – several trains in Madrid, the capital, were bombed by al-Qaeda inspired militants in 2004, killing 191 people.
The IS news agency, Amaq, said the attack was carried out as part of efforts to target states fighting in the US-led anti-IS coalition.
A few hundred Spanish soldiers are in Iraq, training local forces fighting the Sunni militant group.
How much jihadist activity is there in the country?
The number of operations carried out against jihadists has increased significantly since Spain raised its terror alert level to four out of five in June 2015, meaning there was “high risk” of a terror attack.
Before these attacks, 51 suspected jihadists had already been detained in the country this year, while 69 were detained last year, and 75 were detained in 2015, according to El Pais.
Security and surveillance was stepped up in the wake of truck attacks in the French city of Nice in July 2016 and the German capital Berlin in December.
The New York Department of Health proposed additional changes to the state’s medical marijuana program today. While the official proposed regulations will not be released until August 23, the changes appear to be very positive. Once the rules are released, the public will have 30 days to comment.
New forms of medicine would be allowed, including topicals and chewable lozenges, as well as “[c]ertain non-smokable forms of ground plant material,” which will hopefully be clarified in the full text of the regulations. Having whole plant cannabis available for vaporization could dramatically reduce prices for patients, and we will seek to make sure it’s permitted.
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