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Evangelist Billy Graham Dead at 99

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    Evangelical leader Billy Graham, who counseled presidents and preached to millions of people worldwide, died Wednesday at 99.  >> Read more trending news How Graham got his start Graham, the son of a North Carolina farmer, started preaching throughout the south and midwest. He was “born again” after hearing a preacher’s service in 1934 in Charlotte, North Carolina, according to CNN.  He attended Florida Bible Institute and it was there while taking a midnight stroll in 1937 on the 18th green when he received his calling from God, Graham wrote in his biography. He was baptized Dec. 4, 1938, in Silver Lake, Florida, and ordained the following year, according to CNN. After graduating, Graham moved to Illinois to continue his education at Wheaton College, where he met his wife, according to The New York Times. Advisor to presidents and welcomed by world leaders Graham advised 10 presidents starting with Harry Truman. Barack Obama was the last president Graham met with, according to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.  Graham was most closely linked to President Richard Nixon whom he endorsed in 1968. Years later, recordings of the two were released in which they made anti-Semitic remarks. Graham apologized, saying he did not recall making the statements. Not only did Graham counsel American presidents, world leaders of religiously restrictive countries welcomed him.  He was invited to preach in China as well as in Pyongyang by North Korean dictator Kim Il-sung, according to the New York Times. He also visited communist countries in Eastern Europe to promote peace. Graham’s global reach  Graham was not the first evangelical but he was able use to communication and technology to gain an unprecedented reach.  Through the use of radio, books, magazines, television and the internet Graham’s “crusades” reached more than 200 million people on almost every continent.  Graham wrote 30 books and his sermons were translated into 48 languages and sent to 185 countries by satellite, according to the New York Times.  He held a crusade in Madison Square Garden in 1957. It was so popular, it was extended from six to 16 weeks and ended with a rally with 100,000 people in Times Square. It was Graham’s longest revival meeting ever. His final crusade was in 2005 in New York City. However, the Billy Graham Evangelical Association continues to organize them.  Evangelical “tree” Graham formed the Billy Graham Evangelical Association in 1950. The group continues to organize crusades, radio and television programs and publishes the Decision magazine. The association trains thousands of evangelicals and missionaries and sends a rapid response team to help in disaster areas.  His son, Franklin Graham, who developed his own following, was tapped to lead the association in 1995, according to the New York Times.  Daughter Anne Graham Lotz and grandsons Will Graham and William Graham Tullian Tchividjian are part of the ministry.  The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • Celebrities and politicians are reacting to the news of the death of Rev. Bill Graham. >> Read more trending news  Known around the world, the evangelist preached to millions of people into his mid-90s. He died at his Montreat, North Carolina, home Wednesday at 99 years old. He had been battling cancer, pneumonia and a number of other health aliments. >> Live coverage at WSOCTV.comGraham was frequently seen among U.S. presidents -- a dozen of whom he worked with as a spiritual counselor. Related: Photos: Billy Graham was counselor to presidents Public figures responded to the news of Graham’s death on Twitter.
  • The Latest on the deadly Florida school shooting (all times local): 11:30 a.m. A number of students at a Florida high school walked out of their classrooms to remember the 17 students killed last week at nearby Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The students at Western High School in Davie, Florida, were also protesting gun violence during the walkout Wednesday morning. Students carried large signs, each listing the name of a school where a shooting has taken place, along with the date of the shooting and the number of dead. Others carried signs with #NeverAgain. Students at schools across Broward and Miami-Dade counties in South Florida planned short walkouts Wednesday, the one week anniversary of the deadly shooting. Kirsten Anderson, a sophomore at Western High, told NBC6 that students will be signing a large banner, which will be taken to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High to offer support to students and teachers. ___ 10:45 a.m. Democratic Sen. Lauren Book of Broward County helped organize the busloads of students who came to the Florida Capitol to push for gun legislation after last week's deadly shooting at a high school. Book says she spent the night with the students in Tallahassee's civic center. She said many of the students were up until 5 a.m., getting only an hour or two of sleep before walking to the Capitol. She says they 'were working and writing and talking about the things that are important to them.' Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, have been calling for gun safety legislation since a shooting rampage at the school killed 17 people. ___ 10:25 a.m. Students from the Parkland, Florida, high school where 17 people were killed in a shooting rampage split into several groups to meet with lawmakers and other state leaders in the state's capital. One group met with Attorney General Pam Bondi behind closed doors to talk about mental health issues and later joined other students in a question and answer session with Senate President Joe Negron and Senators Rob Bradley and Bill Galvano. Some tearfully asked why civilians should be allowed to have weapons like the AR-15 used in the attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Negron didn't directly answer the question, saying, 'That's an issue that we're reviewing.' The students burst into applause when Galvano said he supports raising the age to purchase assault-style weapons from 18 to 21. ___ 9:45 a.m. Students from the Parkland, Florida, high school where 17 people were killed in a shooting rampage got little sleep as they prepared for a day of meeting with Florida's legislative leaders in Tallahassee. The contingent of about 100 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students traveled to the state capitol by bus from South Florida, arriving Tuesday night at Leon County High School, where they were greeting by fellow students. They spent the night at the Leon County Civic Center. Democratic State Sen. Lauren Book, who paid for the bus trip, traveled with the students and stayed with them at the civic center. She said they were up until almost 5 a.m. preparing for remarks they want to make during the meetings with lawmakers as they push to ban the assault-style rifle used to kill 17 people at the high school in suburban Fort Lauderdale. On Wednesday morning, they made the short walk to the capitol to meet with leaders, including Senate President Joe Negron and House Speaker Richard Corcoran. The group will return home later Wednesday. ___ 6:55 a.m. The day before 17 people were gunned down at a Florida school, a co-worker says the suspect made plans to go with him to a shooting range. Brian Halem tells the Miami Herald he asked 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz for his phone number last Tuesday so they could coordinate a weekend trip to Gun World of South Florida. 'Save it as, 'Crazy Nick,'' Cruz told his new friend. Halem, a 19-year-old college freshman, worked with Cruz at the Dollar Tree in Parkland and says they bonded over enthusiasm for firearms. He describes Cruz — now charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder — as a 'walking dictionary' who 'knew guns inside and out.' In hindsight, Halem says conversations about tactics like wearing a gas mask during a firefight might have been a red flag. But Halem says he was shocked by the shootings. ___ 1:15 a.m. Students who survived the Florida school shooting are preparing to flood the Capitol pushing to ban the assault-style rifle used to kill 17 people, vowing to make changes in the November election if they can't persuade lawmakers to change laws before their legislative session ends. About 100 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students arrived at a Tallahassee high school to extended applause late Tuesday after a nearly eight-hour trip. Despite their enthusiasm and determination, the students and their supporters aren't likely to get what they really want: a ban on AR-15s and similar semi-automatic rifles. Republican lawmakers are talking more seriously about some restrictions, but not a total ban. Some restrictions could include raising the minimum age to purchase the weapon to 21 and creating a waiting period. ___ Follow the AP's complete coverage of the Florida school shooting here: https://apnews.com/tag/Floridaschoolshooting .
  • A federal advisory panel is recommending a new vaccine against hepatitis B. The vaccine called Heplisav-B (HEHP'-lih-sav BEE') was licensed in November and is the first new hepatitis B vaccine in 25 years. Hepatitis B vaccines have been in childhood shots for decades. The new vaccine is for adults. The hepatitis B virus can damage the liver and is spread through contact with blood or other bodily fluids. Cases have been rising, a trend linked to the heroin and opioid epidemic. Meanwhile, researchers found older vaccines falter in diabetics and older adults. The new vaccine uses an additive that boosts the body's immune response. It is two shots given over one month. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices endorsed the vaccine Wednesday in Atlanta. The government usually adopts its recommendations.
  • As Americans mourn the death of evangelist Billy Graham, you would be hard-pressed to find a time where “America’s Pastor” was held in anything other than the highest regard. Graham managed during 60 years of preaching the Gospel to sidestep even a hint of scandal -- sexual, financial or otherwise. However a revelation in 1994 of a conversation he had with then-President Richard Nixon turned out to be a source of embarrassment for Graham – not at the time it was disclosed by Nixon Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman, but years later when a tape of the conversation was released by the National Archives.>> Read more trending news At first, Graham denied comments Haldeman made in his book, 'The Haldeman Diaries' that Graham and Nixon had disparaged Jews in a conversation following a prayer breakfast in Washington D.C. on Feb. 1, 1972. Haldeman said Graham had talked about a Jewish “stranglehold” on the country. ''Those are not my words,' Graham said in May 1994. ''I have never talked publicly or privately about the Jewish people, including conversations with President Nixon, except in the most positive terms.'' Graham was believed and the matter dropped until 2002 when tapes from Nixon’s White House were released by the National Archives. The 1972 conversation between Nixon and Graham was among those tapes, and Graham had to face the fact that he had been recorded saying the things of which Haldeman accused him. The tapes proved damning. ''They're the ones putting out the pornographic stuff,'' Graham had said to Nixon. The Jewish ''stranglehold has got to be broken or the country's going down the drain,'' he continued. Graham told Nixon that Jews did not know his true feelings about them.  ''I go and I keep friends with Mr. Rosenthal (A.M. Rosenthal) at The New York Times and people of that sort, you know. And all -- I mean, not all the Jews, but a lot of the Jews are great friends of mine, they swarm around me and are friendly to me because they know that I'm friendly with Israel. But they don't know how I really feel about what they are doing to this country. And I have no power, no way to handle them, but I would stand up if under proper circumstances.'' Rosenthal was the Times' executive editor. After the release of the tapes, Graham was horrified, according to Grant Wacker, a Duke Divinity School professor who wrote a book about Graham. He publicly apologized and asked for forgiveness from Jewish leaders in the country. 'He did not spin it. He did not try to justify it,' Wacker told NPR. 'He said repeatedly he had done wrong, and he was sorry.' ''I don't ever recall having those feelings about any group, especially the Jews, and I certainly do not have them now,'' Graham said in 2002 when the tape was released. ''My remarks did not reflect my love for the Jewish people. I humbly ask the Jewish community to reflect on my actions on behalf of Jews over the years that contradict my words in the Oval Office that day.''
  • The family of an 18-year-old motorcyclist who died trying to avoid a Tulsa County deputy's SUV has filed a lawsuit, alleging a negligent U-turn caused the fatal crash. The Tulsa World reports that Cobie Tyner of Oakhurst died May 14. Deputy Andrew Titsworth performed the U-turn to go after another motorcyclist who was clocked at going 102 mph in a 50 mph zone. A Highway Patrol investigation found Tyner took 'improper evasive action' when he used the motorcycle's rear brake. Prosecutors didn't pursue charges against the Tulsa County deputy, citing insufficient evidence for negligent homicide. The lawsuit filed Tuesday alleges Titsworth 'recklessly made a U-turn' by failing to look for oncoming motorists, as well as executing the maneuver. It names Titsworth, Sheriff Vic Regalado and the Board of County Commissioners. ___ Information from: Tulsa World, http://www.tulsaworld.com
  • A European space probe has swung into position around Mars in preparation to analyze its atmosphere for possible signs of life. The European Space Agency said Wednesday its Trace Gas Orbiter successfully performed a delicate maneuver known as aerobraking that involved dipping into the red planet's upper atmosphere to slow the probe. The agency says the orbiter will start looking for trace gases such as methane, which can result from biological or geological activity, in April. It will also search for ice that could help future Mars landings. A NASA-made radio on board will also help relay signals from U.S. rovers on the surface back to Earth. Europe plans to land its own rover on Mars in 2021. A European test lander crashed on the surface of Mars in 2016.
  • Many students who survived the shooting at Marjory Stoneman High School have turned into outspoken gun control advocates. Some of them say their stance on gun rights has changed. Others believed if they stayed silent, nothing would change. About 100 of them traveled to the state capital to talk to Florida lawmakers on Wednesday about tougher gun restrictions. During their 400-mile trip to Tallahassee, they spoke with The Associated Press. Here are some of their stories: TRUMP SUPPORTER RECONSIDERS HIS STANCE Kyle Kashuv, a 16-year-old junior, said he supported President Donald Trump in the last election and considers himself a Republican. But he said the shooting made him reconsider his position on guns, saying there needs to be stronger background checks to make sure mentally unstable people like Nikolas Cruz can't purchase weapons. 'Previously I believed that everyone under the Constitution should be allowed to have guns, but I now realize that not everyone should have guns and we should have way stricter background checks and mental evaluations. ... We need to a middle ground and have some reform,' he said. Unlike many other students, however, he still disagrees with a ban on AR-15s or any other weapon. 'What is the difference between an AR-15 and any other semi-automatic rifle? Just because it is the most popular doesn't mean it is the most lethal,' he said. 'Every single weapon is terrible when it is in the hands of someone who is mentally unstable. Guns have great usages for self-defense, so we don't have to totally rely on the government.' ___ 'IF LAWMAKERS WANT TO STAY ... THEY SHOULD HEAR US OUT' Sarah Chadwick can't vote because she is only 16 years old. But she traveled to Florida's Capitol because she wants to change the minds of Republicans who support the NRA. 'Maybe if they see the victims themselves, something will spark a change in their mind,' she said. She wants stricter gun laws, including better background and mental health checks. 'I feel like we are the voice of the upcoming generation,' she said. 'If lawmakers want to stay where they are, they should hear us out and make a change.' ___ #NEVERAGAIN Bailey Feuerman said she rode the bus to Tallahassee because she never wants to see another tragedy like the one that happened at her high school. 'I hope to accomplish getting the lawmakers to understand what we're going through, so that they can put in place stricter gun laws ... so that we don't ever have to go through this again.' ___ 'THEY SCREWED WITH THE WRONG COMMUNITY' Jordan Faber wants to make the lawmakers really think about what happened, and get them to understand that if nothing changes, there will be another mass school shooting. 'There is no way this can happen again. They screwed with the wrong community. This is a smart, intelligent, beautiful community,' he said. ___ BE LOUD, BE PROUD Rebecca Schneid said if the students would have stayed in Parkland, no one would ever hear them. 'We have to go to them and show them how loud our voices can get. Because if we don't, how are they ever going to listen to us?' she said. ___ This story has corrected the spelling of Schneid's last name.
  • Massachusetts transportation officials are under fire for authorizing a no-bid contract for a tiny, $100,000 bathroom inside a state office building. WCVB-TV reports that the 115-square-foot bathroom and adjoining kitchenette was installed last year at the State Transportation Building inside the new state Transportation Department and MBTA board room. The project was fast-tracked and not put out to bid, which is usually done for state projects to make contractors compete for the work and keep costs down. Greg Sullivan, a former state inspector general who's now research director at the Pioneer Institute, called the cost 'outrageous.' The bathroom is about 40 steps from a spacious public bathroom on the same floor. A spokesman for the Transportation Department says board members are sometimes followed to that bathroom by reporters during public meetings.
  • Witnesses to a collision between a train carrying Republican congressmen and a garbage truck in rural Virginia have told investigators the truck entered the railroad crossing after safety gates came down. A preliminary report on the Jan. 31 crash was issued Wednesday by the National Transportation Safety Board. The probable cause of the accident hasn't yet been determined. One trash company employee was killed, while the truck driver, another employee and several others were injured. The report said data taken from the camera on the Amtrak train — carrying dozens of Republic lawmakers to an annual strategy retreat in West Virginia — showed that as the crossing came into view, the gates were down and the trash truck was on the crossing.
  • Evangelist Billy Grahamat his North Carolina home. Graham, who preached Christianity to millions around the world, was also a confidant of U.S. presidents from Dwight Eisenhower to George W. Bush.Here are some quotes from the man who became known as “America’s Pastor.”   Source: Brainy Quotes
  • The world's best-known evangelist, the Rev. Billy Graham, has died. He was 99. From the gangly 16-year-old baseball-loving teen who found Christ at a tent revival, Graham went on to become an international media darling, a preacher to a dozen presidents and the voice of solace in times of national heartbreak. He was America's pastor.           Graham retired to his mountain home at Montreat, N.C., in 2005 after nearly six decades on the road calling people to Christ at 417 all-out preaching and musical events from Miami to Moscow. His final New York City crusade in 2005 was sponsored by 1,400 regional churches from 82 denominations.          Presidents called on Graham in their dark hours, and uncounted millions say he showed them the light. He took his Bible to the ends of the Earth in preaching tours he called 'crusades.' Even now, anywhere a satellite, radio, TV, video or podcast can reach, his sonorous voice is probably still calling someone to Christ.          Though Graham's shoes could likely never be filled, his son, Franklin, has taken over in some aspects—leading The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and becoming a confidant of President Donald Trump, including speaking at his inauguration.          But Franklin's message has swayed from his father's, leaving a mixed legacy for the Graham name. Franklin has mocked both Islam and LGBT rights. He uses his following on social media to raise funds for 'persecuted Christians,' boycotts businesses that use gay couples in advertisements and blasts the separation of church and state as as the godless successor to Cold War communism.          But his father's words for years offered peace and perspective. On the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance following the 9/11 attacks, Billy Graham spoke of the 'mystery of iniquity and evil,' of 'the lesson of our need for each other' and, ultimately, of hope.          'He was so real, he made Christianity come true.' observed Susan Harding, an anthropologist at the University of California-Santa Cruz. 'He was homespun, historical and newsworthy all at once. He could span the times from Christ to today, from the globe to you, all in one sentence.'          Grant Wacker, a Duke University professor of Christian history, says Graham represented, 'what most decent churchgoing people thought and ought to think.'          His reputation was untouched by sex or financial scandals. When anti-Semitic comments came to light as transcripts of conversations with Richard Nixon surfaced, Graham was promptly and deeply apologetic.          He never built a megachurch, set up a relief agency, launched a political lobby or ran for office. Yet he redefined American Protestant life by popularizing Christianity's core message — Christ died for your sins — downplaying denominational details and proclaiming the joys found in faith.          Graham was, however, drawn to power. Eventually, he met, prayed with, comforted and joked with 12 U.S. presidents, and Graham learned to walk a tightrope.          He found a fine balance that allowed him to become America's pastor, Democrat or Republican. North or South. When President Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky came to light, Graham called for forgiveness. Clinton told Peter Boyer of The New Yorker, 'He took sin seriously. But he took redemption seriously. And it was incredibly powerful the way he did it.'          Former president George W. Bush has said it was a conversation with Graham that turned him from his drinking ways when he was young.          'I've never called him on a specific issue but his influence is bigger than a specific issue, as far as I'm concerned. He warms your soul,' Bush told an ABC 20/20 special on the preacher and politics.          Graham emphasized the joy to be found in belief, in contrast to evangelists such as Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson who routinely issued glowering condemnations of politicians or blamed natural disasters on modern culture. However, Graham did take an uncharacteristically political stand before the 2012 presidential election. He authorized full page ads in major newspapers in October urging people to vote for politicians who opposed same-sex marriage on 'biblical principles.'          He brought to the microphone a 'corny but effective humor,' Wacker says, which made him a convivial talk-show guest. Graham logged more than 50 radio or television interviews with Larry King alone. YouTube has a tape of Woody Allen interviewing the evangelist, who draws almost as many laughs as the caustic, agnostic comedian.          The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association he founded, now led by his son, Franklin, used every communications innovation possible to carry the Gospel to any willing heart on Earth. More than 214 million people in 195 cities and territories heard God's call in Graham's voice and witnessed him deliver the Gospel in person or by satellite links. His projects included founding             Christianity Today magazine in 1956 and writing more than 30 books.          High among his numerous honors: The Congressional Gold Medal awarded to Billy and Ruth in 1996, the Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded to him in 1983, and the Templeton Foundation Prize for Progress in Religion in 1982. He even has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.          'Fundamentalists saw him as excessively liberal, and liberals saw him as too literalist in talking about sin and salvation. His wonderful balance between them is critical to his legacy,' says John Wilson, editor of             Books & Culture, a sister publication of             Christianity Today magazine            .  Graham's last decades were slowed by illness and injury. He was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1989, felled by broken bones, bouts of hydrocephalous and rounds of pneumonia.          Age, illness and bone-breaking falls had left him struggling to deliver 20-minute sermons.   Graham's last crusade, in June 2005 in New York City, drew 242,000 people to Flushing Meadows; 8,786 made a new commitment to Christ and thousands more renewed or rejoiced in their faith.          Then he retired to his Montreat, N.C., mountaintop log cabin home (where his five children grew up mostly without their traveling father) to spend his days with his beloved wife, Ruth. They shared Bible study, devotions and an endless recycling of the movie musicals she loved to watch. Those were bittersweet days, with Ruth bedridden and Billy relying on a walker. Their frequent prayer was, 'Help me, Lord.'          At her funeral in June 2007, Graham called Ruth the finest Christian he ever knew. Graham lived through the explosion of religious diversity in America, the rise of the human potential movement and the trend to personalized spirituality. He also lived to see many tire of lonely seeking or a high-minded hopscotch from church to church, religion to religion.          Yet he remained steadfast in his response. In 1996, when he and Ruth were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, he once more shared his faith in God with some of the most powerful men on Earth:          'As Ruth and I receive this award, we know that some day we will lay it at the feet of the one we seek to serve.
  • The Rev. Billy Graham, who transformed American religious life through his preaching and activism, becoming a counselor to presidents and the most widely heard Christian evangelist in history, has died. Spokesman Mark DeMoss says Graham, who long suffered from cancer, pneumonia and other ailments, died at his home in North Carolina on Wednesday morning. He was 99. Graham reached more than 200 million through his appearances and millions more through his pioneering use of television and radio. Unlike many traditional evangelists, he abandoned narrow fundamentalism to engage broader society.
  • was ready for a secret meeting with North Korean officials at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, earlier this month, but the North backed out, according to news outlets. >> Read more trending news Pence attended the Olympics Opening Ceremony on Feb. 9 as part of a five-day trip to Asia and was seated near Kim Jong-un’s sister, but did not speak to her, creating a media sensation. The North canceled the meeting just two hours before Pence was scheduled to meet with Kim Jong-un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, and another North Korean state official, Kim Yong Nam, on Feb. 10 after Pence announced new sanctions against the North Korean regime during his trip and rebuked it for its nuclear program, according to the Washington Post, which was the first to report on the secret meeting. “North Korea dangled a meeting in hopes of the vice president softening his message, which would have ceded the world stage for their propaganda during the Olympics,” the vice president’s chief of staff, Nick Ayers, said in a statement, according to The Hill. >> Related: NBC apologizes for comment about Japan, South Korea during Olympics opening ceremony News of the secret meeting comes as relations between the communist north and democratic south seem to be thawing in recent weeks with the announcement last month from Kim Jong-un that he was sending a delegation to the Olympics. He sent his sister to lead the group. “We regret [the North Koreans'] failure to seize this opportunity,' State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement. 'We will not apologize for American values, for calling attention to human rights abuses, or for mourning a young American’s unjust death.' >> Related: Olympic gold medalist, skater Meagan Duhamel, uses platform to spotlight dog meat trade Pence said he planned to use his trip to the Olympics to prevent North Korea from using the games as a ploy for favorable propaganda on the communist regime.
  • As state capitals go, Oklahoma does pretty well. So say the ranking wizards at WalletHub, which looked at such factors as affordability, economic well-being, quality of education and health, and quality of life. OKC did best in affordability, ranked at number 2 in the whole nation, and was around average, give or take, in economic well-being and quality of life, for an overall ranking of 14 out of 50. Not too shabby. Oklahoma City does struggle a bit in education and health, ranked at 36. The top 3 capitals were Austin, Texas; Madison, Wisconsin; and Boise, Idaho. Bottom 3 were Jackson, Mississippi; Hartford, Connecticut; and Trenton, New Jersey. You can see the full list from WalletHub here.