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Megachurch swindles elderly woman in Ohio, lawsuit claims

A megachurch in Ohio is accused of coercing an elderly woman to hand over hundreds of thousands of dollars, CBS Chicago reports. The woman is mentally ill and has dementia. She is now under the care of the Cook County public guardian, who is fighting to reclaim her life-savings.

Bridget Pollard, 76, has lived by herself since her husband died in 2015. The childless woman lived in hoarding conditions and blocked relatives' efforts to help her, Pollard's niece Bridget Johnson says.

Her niece says that Pollard emptied out her late husband's state pension, and it wasn't long before she wrote a $340,000 check, payable to Grace Cathedral. The megachurch in Akron, Ohio, televises the ministry of Rev. Ernest Angley.

"She was basically stalked by church to give money," Dawn Lawkowski-Keller of the Public Guardian's Office says. "The literature talks about how you'll go to heaven if you give this money."


I'm pleased to see Cook County officials getting involved in recovering this woman's money.

EDIT: The original article is from CBS news

Question on the tax reform bill/scam

If this abomination passes, does it mean that the Johnson Amendment’s restrictions on political activity by churches will be neutered for the 2018 election year?

Sunset west of Victorville, California

Sunset west of Victorville, California

Something to remember about the House tax bill.

Along with the financial rip off, is this threat to what is left of Church/State separation:

Americans United Denounces House Tax Bill That Undermines The Johnson Amendment And Public Schools
Legislation Turns Nonprofits, Including Houses Of Worship, Into Tax-Exempt Partisan Campaign Organizations; Expands School Voucher-Like Program
Nov 16, 2017

Americans United for Separation of Church and State today criticized the U.S. House of Representatives for passing H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which would essentially repeal the Johnson Amendment. This 63-year-old provision in federal law protects the integrity of our elections and tax-exempt nonprofits, including houses of worship, by ensuring the organizations don’t endorse or oppose candidates for public office.

The tax bill also includes a provision that would transform 529 college savings plans into a voucher-like program, giving tax breaks for K-12 private school tuition. This would redirect vital tax dollars that could fund our public schools to private schools instead.

“The tax bill threatens the integrity of our elections and all of our tax-exempt organizations. No one wants to turn our charitable nonprofits, houses of worship and foundations into political campaign tools. It will divide these organizations along party lines,” said Maggie Garrett, Americans United’s legislative director. “That is why the American public, houses of worship, faith leaders and charitable organizations have all strongly opposed the weakening or repeal of the Johnson Amendment.”

Multiple polls have shown that the majority of Americans – including Republican and evangelical voters – don’t want tax-exempt organizations endorsing political candidates. And thousands of faith leaders and nonprofits have voiced support for the Johnson Amendment. More information is available at Project Fair Play, AU’s campaign to educate faith leaders and lay people about the importance of the law.


Call your senators, and if you can, consider giving to Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Before & After: How the vineyards acted as a firebreak in some areas.

Artesa winery is open and running again, so I drove up today to catch a photo from a vantage point I used a couple of years ago:

94* out here again today. Really thankful we got a good downpour of rain last week.


Just received David Neiwerts latest book.

ALT AMERICA: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump

I’ve yet to do any more than look at the Table of Contents, and skim a couple of pages. Looks very good, as I would expect. Neiwert’s book on the Militia phenomenon was great.

Just finishing Leonard Zeskind’s tome Blood and Politics: The History of the White Nationalist Movement from the Margins to the Mainstream (2009). I expect that the two works will pair nicely.

Gaining the upper hand.

Smoke in the hills west of St. Helena, California

Firefighting Dragonflys

Hall Winery Rabbit

We are getting the first light rain since last winter as I write this. The fires are coming under various percentages of containment, and this rain should help tamp them down even further.

So far we are counting 42 dead, and over 7,000 structures burned; a lot of those structures are over in Santa Rosa, on the other side of the ridges in these images.

What a disaster.

I've been helping deliver supplies to one of the evacuation centers in Napa.

I stopped this morning on the way in and took a few shots from a hill south of the city. For those of you who know the area, it was the hill with the Grape Crusher statue down by the Southern Crossing.

Nothing dramatic or particularly good, but I wanted to give some idea about the smoke we're dealing with:

Woke up the other morning to this (not something you want to start your day with). This is looking from Cordelia toward the Atlas Fire complex. There are several more fires like this burning in Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, and Lake counties. This, and the Tubbs Fire complex are two of the largest:

This was coming into Napa from the south this morning:

There are mountains about 1/2 mile in front of me but you would never know it:

The ridge behind Artesa winery. I included this because I have some really nice before photos of this area. When they open the road to the winery again, I'll go up and post some before and after images:

Yesterday was pretty clear in Napa, with winds driving the smoke out into the Central Valley and the Bay Area. This is looking from a frontage road on I-80 out toward the Suisun Marsh, which is about 14 miles from Napa:

As I said, nothing dramatic. I didn't try to get close to any of the active fire areas because I didn't want to get in the way; just wanted to share some of what we're going through with you all.

One of our friends lost everything last night in the Atlas fire by Napa.

Lots of fires burning in Napa, Lake, and Sonoma counties. High winds last night gusted to 60+mph. At least some of the fires started by blown down power lines.

Thoughts and prayers as always, but now off to use my truck to assist in some of the evacuations.

Stay safe out there.

This fits in the Non-fiction group, but I wanted to give it exposure here.

White Rage: The extreme right and American politics. by Martin Durham (2013)

I just finished this today, and I recommend it highly to anyone interested in this topic. At 180 pages it isn't long, but it is very well structured, and tightly argued.

The primary focus of the work is "the development of the American extreme right in the aftermath of Brown (vs. Board of Education)."

Durham spends one chapter on the pre-Brown history of the Klan, etc., which gives a good overview of the major players, and their origins.

The following chapters focus on post-Brown developments.

Topics covered:

1. Before Brown

2. American Reich

3 Out of the Southland

4. Not all Patriots

5. Race and Religion

6. Fighting for Women

7. A call to Arms

8. Race and the Right

9. Out of the 1950's

This work makes a good adjunct to Blood in the Face by James Ridgeway. Another very good treatment, though much longer and more detailed, is Zeskind's Blood and Politics.
Rage is also more current (2013) than the others.

What we are witnessing in our current politics jumps straight out of the pages of this book. The final three chapters alone are worth your time.
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