U.S. won’t grant visa for Iraqi nun

As an Iraqi Christian, Sister Diana Momek has seen her fair share of persecution. She was shocked, however, when the U.S. government refused her visa after she requested to visit the United States. Their reason? They’re afraid she’ll never go back. Since when has the amnesty touting Obama administration cared if immigrants ever go back? Ridiculous.

WATCH:

Glenn: This is going to really kind of hack you off. This week, Sister Diana Momeka was denied a visa by the US Consulate office in Erbil, Iraq. Now, this is the denial letter. Remember, we are just letting people in who come across the border. We don’t care. We just turn them away. Somebody comes in with a reason, there’s a reason to come into the country, we don’t let them in. It’s not even signed.

The reason that they won’t let her in is she wasn’t able to provide enough evidence that she would actually return to her home country, this, despite having a letter from her superior—she’s a nun—that she has been employed since last February at the local college and is contracted to teach there next year. Sister Diana joins me now from Iraq. Hello, Sister. How are you?

Sister Diana: I’m good. How are you? Thank you for having me.

Glenn: I’m good. Sister, I have a hard time sometimes. I so want to be more Christlike. I so want to be more like Mother Teresa and Gandhi, but sometimes I hear stories like this, and man, it’s only the table turning over part of Jesus that comes out in me. So, I’m going to try to be really calm here because this drives me crazy. As we are trying to get the word out about the plight of Christians in Iraq, you asked to come over to meet with whom, exactly?

Sister Diana: Well, the truth is many organizations have come to Erbil when we were forced to leave our homes and so the situation or the displacement actually, and we’ve been working at Dominican Sisters underground since the displacement. So, we’ve met lots of friends that they came through organization, NGOs especially, the 21st Century Wilberforce and the Institute of Global Engagement. When we met with the members of these two organizations actually and they learned a lot about the situation of the IDPs, they suggested if I can come and speak about our work or experience as IDPs and the crisis and challenges that we’ve been facing since August 6 up to this day. After thinking about how to do this, I said yes, and they sent me the invitation letter through the two NGOs that are very considerate and the US that I know, actually. Besides, I have a support letter from a congresswoman and an issue supporting that I’m coming to speak about our situation.

Glenn: Right. I have that you were going to meet with the Senate and House Foreign Relations Committee, the State Department, US Aid, and various NGOs. You have more than one sponsor in Congress, and the State Department is calling you a liar basically.

Sister Diana: Well, I was quite shocked actually because I had lived in the US for almost over than six years, and I had my masters there. I had my doctorate there. I was so surprised that I was denied for one reason because I have all the supported letters. I didn’t expect that answer that it hurt me bad that it’s not enough that I am an IDP, but to said in my face when they told me, when the consular told me your visa has been denied,. I asked for the reason. He said just because you’re an IDP. I questioned myself, IDP is not a human anymore?

Glenn: An IDP, so people know is internally displaced person, so in other words, a person with no home.

Sister Diana: Yes. He said I can’t grant you a visa until you return home, and my answer was right away but we don’t know when are we returning home. Maybe that will be in 10 years or 20 years. Does that mean I’m not allowed to travel anymore? So, that was quite a shock for me. How would I do that, you know? To say it in my face because I am an IDP with all these supported letter that I handed to the consular to look at. So, that’s what shocked me the most. It just makes me question, aren’t we human that we are without home? But we still have dignity, you know? I am so honored to be an Iraqi Christian who has been persecuted, but I just felt I was so persecuted by this answer, to tell you the truth.

Glenn: Sister, I just got out of our screening room before I came on set here. I saw the last ISIS murder, and I’ve got a couple of guys on staff that were dissecting their message for me. What they have come up with, and we’re hopefully going to be releasing this next week, the media has this all wrong. We believe that ISIS is actually terrified of these Christians, and we’ll explain it next week, because of the faith that they have. They have not encountered people that will not pay a tax. They have not encountered people who say I’m not going to kill you, but kill me if you must; I will stand with Christ. They’re freaking out. They don’t know what to do. Would you agree with that?

Sister Diana: I totally agree. I would say Middle East has been suffering from the first century from persecution, and this has been strengthening our faith actually because we have three choices. We have either to convert to Islam or to be killed or to pay taxes, and we refuse to do either one of them because we want to keep our faith, and we are so honored to be Christ’s, you know, power. So, we’ll keep doing that as much as we can, even in the face of death. Lots of people stayed in our hometowns because they did not know that, and they were asked to convert or to get killed. They chose to get killed, but then they released them after they tortured them very badly, and they kept their faith. They did not want to convert to Islam or even to pay taxes or ransom, what you call it or whatever.

Glenn: Sister, you have right now an open microphone and video where you’re looking people in the eye, and this is a very engaged audience. They care. What would you tell them? What can we do? What do they need to know on what’s going on?

Sister Diana: You know, the message that I always carry in my heart and tell the people who really care that you have brothers and sisters in Iraq who have been many times abused. They need to feel that they are loved, they are cared for in so many ways, you know, now especially that we don’t know if we have any future anymore because our children are without proper schooling. Our students are without universities.

So, what I would like to say to people who care about us really that please, please, please, keep us in your prayers as we are facing a very, very difficult time. If any way that you can help us, remember, there are lots of people or many thousands of families that still live in prefabs. Actually now I am talking with you, I’m sitting on my prefab. That’s where I live. It’s a container made from a sandwich panel. That’s how I live. It’s very hot in the summer and very cold in the winter, and that’s how people are living.

Some, they are living in warehouses that they don’t have any heat or air condition in the summer. Lots of families, let’s say three or four families, they are living in one house without any privacy. So, any way that you can help, your heart tells you, please do for your brothers and sisters, please.

Glenn: Sister, I’m going to be real honest with you. I don’t think I’m alone that we know what’s going on. We know that God won’t hold us blameless. But we feel ill-equipped. Every day I come into the show, and I do this show, and I feel like—I mean honestly, I’m watching you in a monitor, and I see the camera take the angle from our jib operator where I’m sitting in this nice chair in this air-conditioned studio, and I’m talking to you and I’m thinking to myself—honestly, part of your comments I wasn’t even listening to you because I’m thinking to myself, What the hell are you doing? You should be out helping. But I don’t know how to help, and I think that most of our audience feels the same way. We know what’s going on, Sister. We just don’t know what to do. Pray for us, will you?

Sister Diana: Pray for us that we could return to our homes, because without our homes, we become people without identity. And if we lose our identity, it’s so easy to lose our humanity. The simple example that I can recall again is when I was told in the US consular that I can’t have a visa because I’m an IDP. This is a simple example, and there are many that I can’t mention, you know? So, if you keep praying and tell the world to find some ways to help us to return to our towns, to our churches, to our schools, to our universities, to our, lives this is the most important thing.

Glenn: Sister, I want you to know that there are millions of people that are praying for you. My family is not alone in praying for the people of Iraq and Syria and the Middle East of all religions that they may stop seeing the evil that they’re forced to see and live with every day. If you would just pray for us, we’ll continue to pray for you. Know that you are loved, and we will talk again, Sister. God bless you.

Sister Diana: Thank you. Thank you.

My fellow supporters,

It is with a heavy heart that I must make a sad announcement today. The time has come to press pause on the dream of Beto for president. It's not the end of the Beto dream. It's just pressing pause for a while, like pausing a Foss CD. The dream will keep right on spinning, until we return to it and press play again. I mean, look at Bernie Sanders. That guy's almost twice my age and he's still running for president. That means you can look forward to Beto running for office for decades to come. I have found there is tremendous joy and freedom in running for office and never winning. All the travel, Vanity Fair cover stories, food and free beer, with none of the hassle or responsibility of having an actual job in elected office (or any job at all). It's really great.

With the exception of myself, no one has supported Beto more faithfully and true than you, the fans. I'd also like to thank my wife Amy for continually raising our children so that I can travel this great land in my never-ending quest to find myself (and also to connect with you, the fans). From attending my very hip and not-at-all contrived jogging town halls, to slapping those trendy Beto bumper stickers on your hybrid-SUVs, to steadying tables all over America so I could jump on top of them and yell and jab the air, to clicking "like" on all those Facebook videos of my dentist visits – you perpetuated this Beto dream way longer than it had any right to be perpetuated.

So, I'm sure you're now wondering – what's next for Beto?

Other than pursuing my career as a solo rock recording artist, I believe the best way I can serve America and bring true justice to this great land of ours is by stealing from the rich and giving to those who fall in the sweet spot on the intersectionality charts. Except I won't steal from my billionaire father-in-law, only because getting my family cut out of the will would not be in America's best interest. You need a Beto who is independently wealthy via his wife and so do I. Plus, as you know by now, from following the 2020 presidential campaign so closely, the only acceptable status quo in America is leaving the wealth of Progressive elites alone. Everyone else's wealth is fair game, including the middle class. It's the right thing to do.

You need a Beto who is independently wealthy via his wife and so do I.

Therefore, from this day forward I will henceforth be known as Beto Hood. You will be able to join the cause by purchasing official Beto Hood merch soon at Beto Hood dot com. Together, with my band of merry men, who will be known as "merry non-binaries", we will roam the land, righting all the wrongs and bringing about all the social justice that Donald Trump refuses to let you have.

Beto Hood and his Merry Non-Binaries will live on the road. And in the woods (in eco-friendly, fully sustainable treehouse yurts). And in the shadows. We will skateboard and learn archery and rappelling. We will become proficient in hand-to-hand combat. We will become experts in all weaponry except guns, since guns are the evilest weapons. We will care for all the animals of the forest. You already know my affinity for squirrels. Not only will we continue to rescue all the orphan squirrels, we will train them in petty thievery and nimble sabotage. We will affix tiny helmets on them, fitted with tiny Go Pro cameras to live stream their heroic exploits on Facebook. Side note: my colonoscopy next week will also be live streamed on Facebook and available to rent on iTunes.

Using the skills I honed as a college graduate scaling the gates of UTEP, Beto Hood and his Merry Non-Binaries will scale the gates of America's richest and steal from their grotesque wealth. Jewelry, high-end electronics, precious antiques, art, women's shoes – nothing of value will be off-limits. Drawing on my experience while my father was a county judge, we will live above the law. It will be dangerous work, the Lord's work as some people say. But totally worth the risk.

Also, we will not wait for Constitutional amendments nor judicial overreach to get rid of America's AR-15s. We will steal those too. One by one. Using very large versions of those stretchy sticky hands that come in cereal boxes, we will literally be able to snatch these vile guns right out from under the noses of the monsters who own them. Then, with our literal mountain of confiscated AR-15s, we will melt them down and use the metal to build a flotilla of sturdy watercraft, called Beto Boats (trademark pending). Families will be able to use these Beto Boats to save themselves and others when the rising waters of climate change overtake our cities in exactly ten years.

Who needs the presidency? I have big, bold plans for a bright future as an outlaw hero.

Who needs the presidency? I have big, bold plans for a bright future as an outlaw hero. So, don't cry for me, America. Beto will be just fine. Dropping out of this race is nothing that another months-long, head-clearing road trip won't cure. And after that, I'll start shopping for some tights.



[NOTE: The preceding Memo was a parody written by MRA writer Nathan Nipper – not Beto O'Rourke.]

Ryan: Making of an Ant Queen

Photo by Kevin Ryan

The embattled, Nobel-Peace-Prize-winning author Liu Xiaobo wrote that "Life is priceless even to an ant."

An ant colony can only survive for a few months after the death of its queen. On average, queens live 10 to 15 years. Some, up to 30 years, one of the longest insect lifespans, hidden deep within the colony, protected, unable to use her wings because she's a little bigger than she used to be.

Plus she's very busy.

The majority of ants are female. Wingless, sterile worker ants. They build nests, they forage, they hunt.

Theirs is a far briefer life than the queen's, ranging from a few weeks up to a year. But they see more of the outside world than any other ant.

The bigger they are, the farther they travel. And they release pheromones along the way so that they have a trail home.
Drones — winged male ants whose primary function in life is to mate with the queen — die after mating and rarely make it out of the colony.

Then, there are the soldier ants. They protect the colony and attack.

To quote philosopher Bertrand Russell, "Ants and savages put strangers to death."

They go on raids.

The attacking colony rarely loses, so most colonies flee as soon as an invasion begins. But they sometimes remain and fight.
Ants on both sides of the battle die in droves.

Henry David Thoreau describes an ant battle in Walden: "On every side they were engaged in deadly combat, yet without any noise that I could hear, and human soldiers never fought so resolutely."

If the attackers succeed in overtaking a colony, they pillage the eggs. Some are eaten, fed to larvae. But others become victims of slave raiding. Meaning that the victors return home with their enemy's unborn, feed them, nurse them. Then, when the eggs hatch, the victors force them into slavery.

Often, the slaves even develop an allegiance to the colony which ransacked their home and enslaved them. They'll even help raid other colonies and either die pointlessly or help with the seizure of the next generation of slaves.

Sometimes, however, the slave ants rebel.

In the words of Persian poet Saadi, "Ants, fighting together, will vanquish the lion."

Flying ants, both male and female, leave the colony to form another colony. Once they find a suitable place, the males's wings fall off and they mate to their death. Then one or more of the females becomes queen.

*

It felt odd, any time I sat with a roomful of media, a few hundred journalists from all over the world, as they simultaneously, silently, decided "Yep, that's newsworthy. We should hammer that."

It wasn't like everyone turned to each other and said, "Let's agree on the narrative."

It was an energy.

Photo by Kevin Ryan

Like in Houston, at the third Democratic Debate, after Biden misused the word "record player," you could hear chatter spread through the room, people muttering the words "records" and "record player."

In Houston, the media watched the debate from a gymnasium around the corner from the auditorium. So I could contrast the crowd's reactions with the media's reactions.

Nearly every time, there was a disparity between the two. The media were more relaxed — during the debate at least. The audience enjoyed any mentions of identity issues. There were a lot. But the media barely reacted at all.

This was a good thing, probably.

*

It's impressive to see how politicians force their stump speeches into a new form, depending on the context. How they say it like an epiphany.

That night brought the opposite for the ever-fledgling Kamala Harris. I could not believe it. Was this the same woman who'd made Iowa hers, just a little over a month ago?

All night, she was so loyal to the tactic she'd premeditated that she didn't realize it wasn't working, like she kept putting on a puppet show on some busy sidewalk.

At one point, she declared, proudly, "We're not talking about Donald Trump enough."

The most talked-about man in the world, perhaps in our country's history.

In five weeks, she became an entirely different candidate. Her latest version resembled a Xanax-fueled stepmom. It was like she was transforming into Joe Biden.

She kept laughing at her own jokes. And the entire media room cringed every time.

Photo by Kevin Ryan

Amy Klobuchar's pre-formed jokes and half-zany dad jokes fell short every time, too. Most of the media saw Klobuchar's long rants as a chance to chat with a neighbor or jet off to the nearest bathroom, which was likely a locker-room full of plastic flight containers and padded camera cases and journalists who curse like sailors.

During the debate, the press was stoic. So if a candidate got a reaction from them, it carried a certain authenticity.

They laughed at things that the audience ignored or disliked or didn't notice. In part because the audience didn't do a whole lot of laughing. But the media laughed like professionals laugh. In-jokey and staid yet ready for anything unexpected.

They loved it when Booker said the thing about "Let me translate that to Spanish … 'No'." And Yang's opening handclaps. As well as Pete Buttigieg's reaction to Yang's raffle.

The biggest laugh of the night in the media center, surprisingly, was when Yang said, "I am Asian, so I know a lot of doctors."

*

Early scientists believed that ants adhere to a complicated hierarchy, which biologist E O Wilson compared to the Hindu caste system. The idea was, ants and humans have a lot in common, and ants belong to a society divided by class and determined by labor.

In the Wealth of Nations, father of capitalism Adam Smith wrote: "It is the great multiplication of the productions of all the different arts, in consequence of the division of labour, which occasions, in a well-governed society, that universal opulence which extends itself to the lowest ranks of the people."

Ants have been organized into colonized societies since the Cretaceous Period, 140 million years ago, when dinosaurs still dominated the Earth. All of that changed 74 million years later. Which was about 66 million years ago. When a comet slammed into what is now the Yucatan Peninsula, resulting in the KT mass extinction.

80 percent of all plants and animals died. The ash and dust and debris polluted the air, blocked the sunlight, transforming the Earth into a dark, frozen wasteland full of asthma.

Insects, carrion-eaters, and omnivores all survived. Any purely carnivorous animals starved to death, while mammals and birds fed on insects and worms until the earth repopulated itself with more animals that could be eaten.

The K-T Mass Extinction ushered in a new era of life. Species that had lived in constant retreat from predators were suddenly able to form more elaborate purposes.

After these lifeforms thrived for tens of millions of years, certain mammals started to become vaguely humanlike.
Early humans popped up about 300,000 years ago.

Meaning, ants have existed for 140 million years, which is 139.7 million years longer than humans.

For reference, if you counted to 300,000, it would take you roughly three-in-a-half days. To get to 140 million would take about four-and-a-half years.

Humans only began developing language about 100,000 years ago.

Yet we're the ones with libraries and governments and ABBA and iPhones. What did ants have? Other people's sugar?

*

Before the debate, I wandered out of the gymnasium and onto bustling sidewalks with makeshift security fencing on each side. And hopped over the massive yellow tubes that belonged in E.T. and pumped cold air into the building. Past dozens of police and security, through an elaborate weave of temporary checkpoints and wires bigger than a fire hose.

On the street, I passed a group of six-or-so teenagers flipping DELANEY signs around like those cardboard "WE BUY GOLD" banners which actual people bob around while dressed as Elvis or Lady Liberty or a Banana.

Photo by Kevin Ryan

The sun cast a delightful orange over Houston, glitter in the humid air.

Those kids were having a blast with those signs. Laughing so hard they had to stop occasionally and slap their legs.

On the other side of the fence, some of the most powerful people in the world were readying for battle, and these kids could not have cared less.

*

The protestors had gathered just outside the gates of the campus entrance.

Far as I could tell, it was me and no other journalists present. The rest of the media were in the gymnasium, preparing for the debate or networking or already on-air. Once they got into the media center they stayed put. For many reasons, I assume.
The air collapsed under a wave of heat unique to Houston.

Photo by Kevin Ryan

Gnarled blockades served as borders on both sides of the street. Locked into steel fencing, flanked by rows of police cars with their lights on but their sirens off.

Worse than the humidity, and more intense, was the energy bouncing out of the protestors on Cleburne Street. The opposite of suction energy, shoving out with tension and panic and elation.

Photo by Kevin Ryan

Curtis Mayfield's "Move on Up" blared from a Bluetooth speaker. I envisioned a slow zoom from above, beginning with the top of my head and rising, up and up and up. Drawing in the greater scene. Up past Trump's message-board plane. A panorama of city, then county, then state, capturing the topography and nuance of each snapshot of nature.

The higher the camera rose, the more I resembled an ant. One more wingless worker or obedient soldier rushing from place to place on a mission.

And when you got far enough above, you saw the colony that each of us belongs to.

Then it shrank like a passing bobsled, and Earth itself resembled an ant.

The scale of it is daunting.

For thousands of years the sky has filled humans with romance and humility and wonder. A restive impulse that strikes when we gaze up at the moon, the stars, the galaxy, the quiet.

But at ground level, I was a man in the throes of a great human drama. And my job was to document it as neutrally as possible.

The 120-odd protestors on the south side of the street spilled onto the sidewalk and into a lawn, and they chanted as the Trump plane groaned overhead.

They were crowded together, and they were all fighting for different causes. Lots of contradictions under the same banner.
Next to a group of Beto supporters with pro-choice t-shirts, several women chanted

We.
Want.
A pro-life.
Dem.

Chaos itself occupied the south side of the street. The protestors weren't sure how to handle it. So they chanted and sang and probed for the problem. Like so many tiny creatures hauling an orange slice.

Across the street, facing that horde of supporters, two men gripped pro-life signs.

They were the counter-protestors. Their barricade was far wider than needed. The grass around them looked sad, like the trail a dog makes along the fence when it wants to escape.

Behind the two counter-protestors, a mini-bus covered with photos of aborted babies, tangled fetuses, severed and indistinguishable chunks.

Photo by Kevin Ryan

Photo by Kevin Ryan

I squinted and gasped and felt downright unwell.

Two days earlier, my wife and I found out that she was pregnant with our first child.

At the very moment I stared at images of tiny human shapes contorted and grey, our baby was the size of a pea.
A few weeks later, we'd see its heartbeat pulsing like a strobe.

I'm not making a statement on abortion. That's not my job as a journalist.

It's more my admiration for the impeccable depth of life. The timing. How messages and symbols confront us all the time, with unmatchable creativity.

Because there I was, literally in the middle of two opposing factions. Again. In the divide. Tangled into so many dichotomies. Life and death. Freedom and oppression. Order and chaos. Activity and stagnation. Creation and loss. Art and nature.

And I had once again remained in the middle.

This brought me tremendous satisfaction. It signified personal and journalistic success.

It was also a bit ridiculous.

As a reporter, I never wanted to pick a side. I already had a side. My side was America, and Ireland. My side was humanity.

My side was life.

New installments of this series come out every Monday and Thursday morning. Check out my Twitter or email me at kryan@mercurystudios.com

"Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak.Not to act is to act."
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The cost of discipleship can be daunting and few people are willing to sacrifice and stand in the face of evil to do what they know God is asking of them. The "Bonhoeffer Angel Award" is awarded to someone with the vision and courage to act when others only talk, to dig in and listen to the whisperings of the spirit when others turn a deaf ear. It is only fitting the inaugural award go to the visionary founder of Mercury One, Glenn Beck.

The award was presented by the Board President of Mercury One, David Barton and CEO of the Nazarene Fund, Tim Ballard. There was a touching video tribute as well including the likes of Penn Jillette, Senators Mike Lee, Ted Cruz and Joe Liberman, Congressman Loui Gohmert and Rabbi Daniel Lappin.

WATCH THE VIDEO HERE:

Glenn will be hosting the annual Operation Underground Railroad gala Saturday, November 2nd with keynote speaker Tim Ballard. If you are able to join us, tickets are still available and donations of all sizes are welcome.

Summer is ending and fall is in the air. Before you know it, Christmas will be here, a time when much of the world unites to celebrate the love of family, the generosity of the human spirit, and the birth of the Christ-child in Bethlehem.

For one night only at the Kingsbury Hall in Salt Lake City, on December 7th, join internationally-acclaimed radio host and storyteller Glenn Beck as he walks you through tales of Christmas in the way that only he can. There will be laughs, and there might be a few tears. But at the end of the night, you'll leave with a warm feeling in your heart and a smile on your face.

Reconnect to the true spirit of Christmas with Glenn Beck, in a storytelling tour de force that you won't soon forget.

Get tickets and learn more about the event here.

The general sale period will be Friday, August 16 at 10:00 AM MDT. Stay tuned to for updates. We look forward to sharing in the Christmas spirit with you!