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Evangelical Christian Arkansas Republican pleads guilty in $600K Bible college bribery scheme

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An Arkansas Republican lawmaker has pleaded guilty in federal court to charges that he personally profited from an elaborate bribery and kickback scheme involving a northwest Arkansas evangelical Christian college.

Hemant Mehta at The Friendly Atheist pointed to the rapidly mushrooming scandal which the Arkansas Times said could land state Rep. Michah Neal behind bars for up to 20 years and cost him a fine of up to $250,000.

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According to a Justice Department news release, “As part of his guilty plea, Neal admitted that, between January 2013 and January 2015, while serving in the Arkansas House of Representatives, he conspired with an Arkansas state senator to use their official positions to appropriate government money known as General Improvement Funds (GIF) to a pair of non-profit entities in exchange for bribes.”

The release continued, “Of the $600,000, Neal personally authorized and directed a total of $175,000 to the entities. In return for his official actions, Neal received approximately $38,000 in bribes from officials at those non-profit entities.”

Ecclesia officials deny all knowledge of any financial improprieties. School president Dr. Oren Paris III published an open letter on Facebook professing his and the college’s innocence of any wrongdoing.

“I can unequivocally state that neither I nor Ecclesia College have been party to illegal activity. We have never been a party to any agreements to funnel money to any state legislator,” wrote Paris.

“The Plea Agreement, however, suggests that the President of one of the two non-profit groups — all signs point to Paris (a.k.a. “Person B”) — was actively involved in the scandal,” said Mehta. “If that’s confirmed, it’d be a major blow to the school and its leader. This Facebook post could also easily come back to haunt him.”

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Neal abruptly dropped out of his re-election race last summer citing “family and business” concerns. The Arkansas Times said that Neal is not the only official implicated in his plea deal. The state senator he conspired with, a lobbyist, a consultant and a number of Christian nonprofit leaders are also named in the document.

Since Neal is a first-time offender, it’s unlikely that he will receive that maximum fine and sentence for his crimes. In his most recent Twitter message, the disgraced Republican said, “Praise God even when you don’t understand what He’s doing.”

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Trump supporter arrested for child abuse after striking 12-year-old girl with a flagpole: report

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A Florida man was arrested this week after he was caught on video assaulting a 12-year-old girl with a flag pole, the Florida Times-Union reports.

Norbert Eugene Logsdon Jr. was charged Wednesday with abuse of a child without great bodily harm. He was subsequently released in bail.

The incident was captured on video by the child's mother and was posted to Facebook. She and her daughter were driving past a sidewalk pro-Trump demonstration when the mother yelled something antagonistic to the Trump supporters. That's when Logsdon shoved the flagpole through the open right-front passenger window.

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Medical expert doubts Trump’s claim every American will have a COVID vaccine by April: ‘I don’t see how that’s possible’

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Speaking on CNN this Friday, professor of tropical medicine, Dr. Peter Hotez, pushed back on President Trump's claim that every American will have access to a coronavirus vaccine by April.

According to Hotez, there's "just too many unknowns right now" for Trump or any other administration official "to make such a statement.

Even if the vaccines currently in development work, "we don't have the details on the distribution," he added.

"There's going to be a lot of unknown questions," he continued. "We have to really take it in stages."

Watch the video below:

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Shocking emails document Trump administration’s scheme to muzzle the CDC — and misinform Americans

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Emails obtained by The New York Times detail how Trump administration political appointees sought to silence the Centers for Disease Control during the coronavirus pandemic.

"On June 30, as the coronavirus was cresting toward its summer peak, Dr. Paul Alexander, a new science adviser at the Department of Health and Human Services, composed a scathing two-page critique of an interview given by a revered scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention," the newspaper reported. "Dr. Anne Schuchat, a 32-year veteran of the C.D.C. and its principal deputy director, had appealed to Americans to wear masks and warned, 'We have way too much virus across the country.' But Dr. Alexander, a part-time assistant professor of health research methods, appeared sure he understood the coronavirus better."

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