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President Vladimir Putin has named Tax Service chief Mikhail Mishustin as Russia’s new prime minister, the Kremlin said Wednesday.

The 53-year-old Mishustin has worked in the government since 1998 and kept a low profile while serving as the head of the Federal Tax Service since 2010.

The Russian leader made the appointment after he engineered a surprise shakeup of Russia’s leadership and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev submitted his resignation earlier in the day.

Putin proposed changes to the constitution that could keep him in power well past the end of his term in 2024. He emphasized that constitutional changes must be put to a vote in a nationwide referendum.

Medvedev resigned his post after Putin announced the proposed constitutional amendments. Putin kept his longtime ally in the Kremlin’s leadership structure, appointing him to the newly created post of deputy head of the presidential Security Council. Continue reading

Eric Fruits, Ph.D.

Oregon’s Corporate Activities Tax went into effect New Year’s Day. Nine times, Oregon voters have rejected a state sales tax. But this year we ended up with something much worse than a sales tax, and voters had no voice in the matter.

While it’s called a “corporate” tax, the name is misleading. The steep new tax is assessed on all businesses in Oregon – even partnerships and the self-employed. The 0.57% tax on sales is triggered once a business hits $1 million in revenue. Even worse, the CAT is a new tax that is imposed on top of state corporate income taxes already paid by many Oregon businesses.

One million dollars in sales may seem like a lot to a legislator, but many small businesses such as restaurants, auto repair shops, and consulting firms can easily generate $1 million in sales a year. A typical convenience store has about $1.5 million in annual sales, which would result in an increased tax liability of $5,000 or more. Continue reading

In 1926, an Oregon school controversy made it all the way to the nation’s Supreme Court. But the issue on the table wasn’t teacher pay, proper curriculum, or student safety. Oregon had outlawed private schools in a discriminatory effort to remove Catholic education. But in the landmark ruling Pierce v. Society of Sisters, the Court recognized that “The fundamental theory of liberty… excludes any general power of the State to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only.” Families have a right to choose how they educate their children.

Later this month, the Court will consider another landmark education case, Espinoza v. Montana. Montana’s tax credit scholarship program, which enabled families to send children to the private schools of their choice, was struck down because some participating students attended religious schools. That decision removed options for all children, but disproportionately affects the children of low income families for whom private school tuition is at best a major sacrifice and at worst an impossibility. Continue reading

Nebraska Governor, Pete Ricketts

Thank you Lord for Governor Pete Ricketts and his stand for life. We pray that more Governors will stand with him and declare January 22 as a day of prayer.

Governor Pete Ricketts issued a proclamation declaring January 22, 2020 as a Statewide Day of Prayer.  January 22nd is the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, a U.S. Supreme Court decision which struck down Nebraska’s laws protecting unborn babies.  Governor Ricketts’ proclamation encourages Nebraskans to pray for an end to abortion and a deepening in respect for the humanity of unborn children.

“Nebraska state law states that it is ‘the will of the people of the State of Nebraska and the members of the Legislature to provide protection for the life of the unborn child whenever possible,’” reads Governor Ricketts’ proclamation.  “Nebraskans Continue reading

Thank you Lord for glimpses of heaven here on earth.

Pastor Tony Evans says something supernatural was happening during his wife Lois’ final moments on earth, and the family was there to witness it.

Lois Evans had been battling a rare form of cancer and the family had gathered around her in late December to say goodbye. At some point during their farewell moments, he says she began to speak about seeing “something outside earth’s realm”.

It seems she was catching a glimpse of family members in heaven, perhaps like the “cloud of witnesses” described in Hebrews 12:1.

During the recently held memorial service, Tony Evans, who is the senior pastor at the Oak Cliff Fellowship Church in Dallas, Texas, recalled what happened during Lois’ final days. Continue reading

When you go back to the moment our first parents, Adam & Eve, disobeyed God and sinned, Genesis 3:21 records God’s gracious response. “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.” Did you notice? The animal had to give up its life in order for its skin to be used as a garment for them. This was the first time an innocent animal gave its life to cover man’s sin. Later, the Mosaic Law allowed innocent animals to be substituted and sacrificed for sin in place of a human being giving their life. These were to illustrate for us that God’s Messiah, the Lord Jesus, would sacrifice His life as the innocent substitute for sinners. 1 Peter 3:18 says, “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous [Jesus] for the unrighteous [you and me], to bring you to God.”

There is complete agreement that His one sacrifice was sufficient to pay for sins. But not everyone agrees on whose sins He died for. Some pastors teach what’s called limited atonement, meaning that Jesus only intended to pay for the sins of a select group, or limited number of people. I don’t agree; neither does the Bible. 1 John 2:1-2 says, “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and NOT ONLY FOR OURS but also FOR THE SINS OF THE WHOLE WORLD.” This clearly tells us that He died for everyone’s sins. Continue reading

Save the Storks announced today that its new interactive devotional is now live on one of the largest Bible apps available– YouVersion.

Created for churches and small groups, Reimagining Pro-Life: 30 Days with Save the Storks is a tool to help pastors and congregations approach the issue of abortion and help abortion-minded women choose life. The devotional plan also comes with videos to help guide the discussion and illustrate the topics in greater depth

“We are encouraging pastors across America to announce this new devotional and teaching resource and let church attendees know it is an innovative and compassionate way to talk about the pro-life issue in their communities,” said Joseph Schmidt, Director of Solutions for Save the Storks and project manager for the devotional. Continue reading

I don’t go to church to live longer or to be happier. I go because I am commanded to go by the Bible (Hebrews 10:25). But study after study shows that those who actively go to church generally do live longer and happier lives.

I go to church because 2,000 years ago, the Founder of the Church walked out of His own tomb. He was dead on Friday, and then He became alive on Sunday morning. If you have an open mind, you can even see that He left a virtual photograph behind.

Furthermore, the followers of Jesus were crushed and demoralized by His very public death. They cowered in fear, and then they became bold and unstoppable and went to the ends of the earth proclaiming His death for the salvation of those who believe. What changed them? His resurrection from the dead.

Every Sunday morning is a weekly reminder throughout much of the whole world of His historical resurrection from the dead.

That is why people from every continent, nation, race, and tongue gather together then to worship Him the world over. Continue reading

Endangered humboldt penguins on exhibit at the Oregon Zoo. (C) Oregon Zoo / photo by Michael Durham

Keeper talks, activities help bring attention to issues facing wild penguins

Penguin lovers, take note: The Oregon Zoo will host a Penguin Awareness Day Saturday, Jan. 18, with activities aimed at connecting visitors with one of the most popular species at the zoo.

At 12:45 and 2:15 p.m., visitors can stop by the zoo’s Penguinarium for keeper talks and a chance to watch the zoo’s Humboldt penguin colony enjoy enrichment treats or participate in training sessions.

“Humboldt penguins live in a region that’s greatly affected by human activity,” said Travis Koons, who oversees the zoo’s bird population. “They need healthy ocean habitats to thrive, and we can help make a difference.” Continue reading

In the mid-nineties I purchased as a Christmas gift for my preschool-aged daughter the popular battery-operated game Lucky Ducks. I’ve kept the game, along with many other vintage toys and games, in my basement all these long years. So, it made sense to bring the game out for granddaughter Olivia on one of her early visits to my house. Unbelievably, the original batteries still worked.

Olivia, then aged 18 months, was drawn to the game, until we turned it on. Lucky Ducks features a revolving base upon which twelve plastic ducks go around in circles squawking loudly. Four players receive color-coded cards, and then start claiming random ducks with color-coded stickers that can’t be seen while the ducks are circling in the “pond.” If the selected duck doesn’t match the player’s card, they must put the duck back. The first player to claim three same-colored ducks wins. Continue reading

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