AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Ted Cruz sometimes sounds more like a preacher than a presidential candidate, praising the transformative love of Jesus Christ and promising to defend religious liberty. But the Texas senator rarely evokes the biblical tenet of tithing, the mandate that 10 percent of possessions be donated to God.
That’s because Cruz doesn’t tithe. He and his wife donated less than 1 percent of their income to charity and nothing to churches, including to their own in Houston, according to tax returns from 2006 to 2010, the most recent Cruz has released.
His campaign declined requests from The Associated Press to provide recent tax returns or otherwise demonstrate donations since 2010. Cruz has said he and his wife were more focused on using their seven-figure annual income to build a financial foundation for their family.
Being a past charitable cheapskate provides a glimpse of who Cruz was before running for president, when he was known more as a fierce fiscal conservative than a devout Southern Baptist. Cruz’s religious side similarly didn’t dominate his 2012 run for Senate in Texas. Cruz suggested shortly after taking office that politicians should “avoid ostentatiously wrapping yourself in your faith” — advice he has ignored amid his rise in national polls.
“It’s not like this is a new issue, it just wasn’t front and center,” James Bernsen, the spokesman for Cruz’s Senate campaign, said of religion. “Ted’s main focus was on Obamacare, taxing and spending, the national debt.”
On the night he won the 2012 Texas primary, Cruz reminded a packed Houston hotel ballroom that victory came on what would have been the 100th birthday of free-market champion Milton Friedman. Only after that did he praise God.
The following year, Cruz told the Christian Broadcasting Network: “I think anyone in politics, you’ve got a special obligation to avoid being a Pharisee, to avoid ostentatiously wrapping yourself in your faith.”
Now seeking the White House, Cruz has done the opposite. He is trying to solidify support from evangelical Republicans against Donald Trump and religious conservatives like Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee, whose supporters have questioned Cruz’s lack of tithing.
Cruz launched his presidential bid at evangelical Liberty University and has sought support from pastors in all 99 Iowa counties. A super political action committee built a website trumpeting his faith bona fides, including a video detailing how a then-8-year-old Cruz “surrendered his heart to Jesus” during summer camp at a Christian ranch. Cruz mentioned faith repeatedly in Thursday’s GOP debate.
Cruz’s past charitable donations weren’t so generous, though he isn’t alone in withholding more recent tax records. Trump also hasn’t disclosed his tax returns. Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have released partial returns from recent years.
Clinton reported giving away 13 percent of her family’s taxable income in 2014, and Bush reported donating 4 percent of his that year.
Sanders did not release the part of his 2014 return that shows charitable donations, but his campaign said he and his wife gave away about 6 percent of their taxable income. Fiorina reported donating what amounted to 22 percent of her family’s taxable income in 2013.
Cruz’s Senate campaign released five years of tax returns through 2010 showing that he and his wife donated about $44,500 of the more than $5 million they made over the period — less than 1 percent of their income.
Those returns didn’t include itemized donations, but Cruz gave a list to the San Antonio Express-News in 2012. The newspaper reported that, while some donations went to faith-based organizations, no money was reported to have been donated to churches, including Houston’s First Baptist, where the Cruzes have worshipped since 2008.
Cruz responded that he’d “worked and saved to build a solid financial foundation to provide for my children.” He has two daughters.
Recently asked about tithing by the Christian Broadcasting Network, Cruz said “I will readily admit that I have not been as faithful in this aspect of my walk as I should have been.”
SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff on Friday announced a nationwide attack on the mosquito that spreads the Zika virus, vowing to “win this war” against the insect that researchers in have linked to a rare birth defect.
Rousseff said an operation to eliminate breeding areas for the Aedes aegypti mosquito has begun at all installations run by the armed forces and at all federal educational, health and other facilities.
She called on the rest of society to join in eliminating areas of standing water, which can include things as small as a discarded food container.
“The government, churches, football teams, labor unions … everyone must do their part to eliminate the breeding grounds,” she said. “We will win this war.”
Later Friday, the White House said Rousseff and President Barack Obama discussed their concerns about the spread of the Zika virus in a telephone conversation.
It said the leaders agreed on the importance of working together to spearhead research and speed development of vaccines and other technologies to control the mosquito-borne virus. They also agreed to prioritize building national, regional and global networks to fight the threat from infectious diseases more broadly.
Rousseff announced the offensive against the mosquito following a videoconference with five Brazilian state governors and six Cabinet members. Brazilian researchers have linked Zika to a seemingly sudden upsurge in cases of microcephaly, in which children are born with abnormally small heads.
Afterward, Health Minister Marcelo Castro echoed her words, telling reporters “the mosquito is not stronger than the entire country. We will win this war.”
Castro said, “We have asked the people to clean their homes and now the government is cleaning its home,” referring to the federal operation.
Brazil has won the war against the mosquito before. Following major eradication efforts, it was declared free of the mosquito in 1958. But the effort faded and the insect returned from neighboring countries.
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The Latest on the Zika virus and fears it could be linked to birth defects (all times local):
The White House says President Barack Obama and Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff have discussed their concerns about the spread of the Zika virus.
In a telephone conversation Friday, the leaders agreed on the importance of working together to spearhead research and speed development of vaccines and other technologies to control the mosquito-borne virus. They also agreed to prioritize building national, regional and global networks to fight the threat from infectious diseases more broadly.
The Zika virus is spreading rapidly after it was detected last year in Brazil. Investigators are working to figure out whether it’s related to seeming increases in the birth defect known as microcephaly or to Guillain-Barre, which can cause temporary paralysis.
In the United States, the head of its infectious disease institute says the U.S. is preparing should the virus spread there.
So far there have been no transmissions of the disease within the United States.
Colombia and Venezuela says they are both seeing a jump in cases of a rare, sometimes-paralyzing syndrome that may be linked to the Zika virus.
Deputy Health Minister Fernando Ruiz said Friday Colombia has now recorded 41 cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome that appear to be linked to Zika. It had detected 12 such cases a week ago.
Colombia says it’s had about 16,500 suspected cases of Zika, though only a small fraction have been confirmed by laboratory tests.
The mosquito-borne virus is spreading rapidly after being detected last year in Brazil. Investigators are scrambling to determine if it’s related to seeming increases in the birth defect known as microcephaly or to Guillain-Barre, which can leave patients temporarily paralyzed.
Venezuelan Health Minister Luisana Melo said her country’s seen 255 cases of Guillain-Barre, apparently as part of its effort to fight Zika, though she did not specify the link or the time frame.
Former Health Minister Jose Oletta says the country normally sees 30 to 40 cases of Guillain-Barre a month and said the large number now indicates that Zika infections are far greater than the roughly 4,500 suspected cases than officials acknowledge.
The head of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease says he doesn’t think airports need to screen travelers coming into the United States from Latin American and Carribean countries that have outbreaks of the Zika virus.
Dr. Anthony Fauci says that isn’t necessary for now because the disease is borne by mosquitoes and is not transmitted from one person to another.
Fauci said at The Economic Club of Washington, D.C. on Friday that the U.S. is taking the virus “very seriously” and is preparing in case it should spread here.
But he says Americans shouldn’t “get overly panicked” since there have been no transmissions of the disease within the United States.
The Zika virus causes only a mild illness in most people. But there’s mounting evidence linking it to a birth defect, especially in Brazil.
Canada’s chief public health officer says four Canadians have recently returned home from trips abroad with the Zika virus.
Gregory Taylor said Friday that two people from British Columbia, one from Alberta and another from Quebec contracted the virus abroad. He says two have recovered and didn’t give details on the other two.
Taylor says there is little to no risk of contracting the virus in Canada since mosquitoes that transmit the virus are not adaptable to the climate.
The World Health Organization says Canada and Chile are the only two countries in the Americas where the virus is not likely to spread.
Thousands of soldiers, health officials and first responders have been fanning out across the Dominican Republic to fumigate and clean up mosquito-prone areas and educate people about the Zika virus.
The campaign aims to tell people about Zika’s symptoms, how to avoid it and how to eliminate areas where it breeds.
The Caribbean country has reported 10 confirmed cases, none of them involving pregnant women. But the military said this week it will assign 100 doctors to help in detecting and treating cases.
Health Minister Altagracia Guzman warned on Friday that half a million people in the Dominican Republic could become infected if no preventive measures are taken.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff says the federal government has launched a nationwide cleanup operation to eliminate breeding areas of the mosquito that transmits the Zika virus, which researchers in have linked to a rare birth defect.
Rousseff made her remarks at a Friday press conference after she, five state governors and six cabinet members held a videoconference to discuss strategies to combat the Aedes aegypti mosquito.
She says the cleanup operation began Friday at all installations run by the armed forces and at all federal educational, health and other facilities.
She Brazil will lose the war against the insect unless all of society mobilizes to eliminate the pools of stagnant water that serve as the mosquito’s breeding grounds.
Nigeria’s Health Ministry is warning citizens against traveling to Latin America because of the Zika virus outbreak, and is especially recommending that pregnant women not go there.
Health Minister Isaac Folorunso Adewole is urging health professionals at all ports of entry to examine anyone coming from Latin America for signs of the Zika virus. Friday’s statement says he’s urging Nigerians to tell health workers about any cases of unexplained fevers that last more than 48 hours, especially in those with recent travels to Latin America.
While the Zika virus originated in Africa, Adewole says there are no current cases in his country.
Officials from Brazil and international health organizations are trying to determine if a widespread outbreak of the virus there is related to a seemingly sudden upswing in cases of birth defects.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — As the digital advertising market booms and demand for smartphones wanes, Alphabet Inc. could soon dethrone Apple as the world’s most valuable company.
If it happens, Alphabet will move to the head of the class just five months after Google reorganized itself under the holding company.
The Silicon Valley rivals could trade places soon, given how rapidly the financial gap between them is narrowing. At the end of trading on Friday, Apple’s market value stood at $540 billion; Alphabet was worth $524 billion.
That’s a dramatic swing from where things stood just 13 months ago. Apple then boasted a market value of $643 billion, almost twice Google Inc.’s $361 billion.
Since then, investors have soured on Apple Inc. The company has struggled to come up with another trend-setting product amid slumping sales of its most important device — the nearly 9-year-old iPhone, which accounts for roughly two-thirds of Apple’s overall sales.
Apple has already acknowledged the iPhone will begin this year with its first quarterly sales decline since it debuted in 2007. The slowdown helped push down Apple’s stock price by 12 percent since the end of 2014.
In contrast, Google has maintained its leadership in the lucrative Internet search and ad market while building other popular products in video, mobile, web browsing, email and mapping. That bundle of Google services brings in most of Alphabet’s revenue, and is expected to deliver growth in the 15 percent to 20 percent range as marketers shift even more of their budgets to digital services.
Alphabet also has impressed investors by reining in its spending. Google hired a Wall Street veteran, Ruth Porat, as its chief financial officer last May.
In addition to reversing a long expansion of Google’s operating expenses, Porat also persuaded Alphabet’s board to spend $5 billion buying back its own stock. That move signaled a more shareholder-friendly approach to managing the company’s cash hoard.
Investors also have applauded the creation of Alphabet, which is structured to provide more information about the cost of the company’s experimental ventures into self-driving cars, Internet access services, health science and city management.
All of those factors have helped lift Alphabet’s stock — previously Google’s — by 43 percent since the end of 2014.
It’s a potentially big shift for Apple, which has held bragging rights as the world’s most valuable company for most of the past four-and-a-half years. (ExxonMobil seized the high ground for a brief time in 2013.)
Alphabet would become the 12th company to rise to the most valuable spot, according to Standard & Poor’s.
BGP Financial analyst Colin Gillis believes the potential changing of the guard reflects a wider recognition that Alphabet is fostering a “culture of innovation” while Apple has lost some of its magic since the October 2011 death of co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs. “I no longer see a sense of urgency at Apple,” Gillis said.
Alphabet could surpass Apple’s market value early next week after it releases fourth-quarter earnings on Monday. Investors expect a big quarter after Google’s closest competitor in digital ads, Facebook Inc., announced that its revenue soared 52 percent in the period.
Of course, Apple isn’t just rolling over. It’s reportedly working on new products such as self-driving cars, virtual reality and Internet TV that could conceivably re-ignite its revenue growth — as could any resurgence in the iPhone itself. Alphabet has shown no signs of letting up on Google’s grip in Internet search or its expansion into other markets.
Which means we could see Apple and Alphabet continue to trade places in the market-value rankings over the next few years, as both race to be the first company worth $1 trillion.
JERUSALEM (AP) — U.S and British intelligence cracked the codes of Israeli drones operating in the Middle East and monitored their surveillance feeds for almost 20 years, according to documents leaked by an American whistleblower and published in international media on Friday.
Reports by the German magazine Der Spiegel and the investigative website The Intercept said the details emerged from documents leaked by Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked millions of documents about U.S. government surveillance in 2013.
The reports said the intelligence agencies were able to watch information that the drones and other aircraft broadcast back to their handlers. The project codenamed “Anarchist” has operated since 1998 and was based near the highest point in Cyprus. Israel was the focus of the program but it also hacked into systems in Egypt, Turkey, Iran and Syria, the reports said.
In one instance in 2008, an NSA internal newsletter boasted of the Anarchist program successfully collecting video from the cockpit of an Israeli F-16 fighter, the Intercept report said. It said the hacking granted intelligence agencies a “virtual seat in the cockpit” as Israeli aircraft hit targets.
It also showed footage of what it said appeared to be armed drones. Israel neither denies nor confirms use of weaponized drones.
There was no official comment on the reports In Israel. However, Israeli Cabinet minister Yuval Steinitz, who has held the post of minister of intelligence affairs, said, “We are not surprised; we know that the Americans spy on every country in the world and on us as well, on their friends.”
“It is nevertheless disappointing because among other reasons, we haven’t been spying or collecting intelligence or cracking codes in the United States for decades,” he told Army Radio.
Britain’s Foreign Office said: “We don’t comment on intelligence matters.”
Associated Press writer Jill Lawless in London contributed to this report
This story has been corrected to show that Der Spiegel is a magazine, not a daily and to show that intelligence agencies were granted a “virtual seat in the cockpit” as Israeli aircraft hit targets, not as drones hit targets.
Rashan Gary is a baby-faced man-child and a defensive tackle who could become the foundation of a championship team.
As national signing day approaches, the No. 1 recruit in the country according to most everyone who rates them is still weighing his options. Gary’s choice could be part of a power shift in college football.
Will Gary become a Michigan man and help lead the Wolverines’ rebirth under coach Jim Harbaugh? Will he become the latest five-star to join Nick Saban’s championship machine at Alabama? Will Gary join the Clemson team that nearly took down the Crimson Tide? Or will he pick one of Alabama’s Southeastern Conference rivals?
“A lot of college coaches are trying to get back into the fight. It’s getting crazy, but I’m enjoying it,” said Gary, the senior from Paramus Catholic High School in New Jersey.
At 6-foot-5, 292 pounds, Gary is the rarest of recruits — an interior defensive lineman with elite athleticism.
“Defensive linemen are the hardest people to recruit,” said Gerry DiNardo, the former college football coach who is now an analyst for the Big Ten Network.
“When you watch what Alabama has done and when you watch what Urban (Meyer) has done at Ohio State, you can track the last two national champions and probably go back through the BCS era and you could track the winner of the national championship to the line of scrimmage.”
Mike Farrell, director of recruiting for Rivals, compared Gary to Stephon Tuitt, the Pittsburgh Steelers starter and former Notre Dame star.
“It’s hard to find a 6-5 guy who can play D-tackle and also end because they just don’t exist very often,” Farrell said.
Hence, all the teams scrambling to the finish line in pursuit of Gary.
Michigan is the presumptive favorite in the race. Harbaugh and his staff have been cleaning up in New Jersey during this recruiting cycle, with five commitments already from the Garden State. Harbaugh’s point man in New Jersey has been newly promoted linebackers coach Chris Partridge, Gary’s former coach at Paramus Catholic who came to Michigan last year as director of player personnel.
Paramus Catholic is also the alma mater of Michigan defensive back Jabrill Peppers.
Gary visited Ann Arbor last week and his planned two-day trip turned into a long weekend because of the East Coast snowstorm.
“Shared time with the players. Played video games. Just studying for my midterms I had coming up,” Gary said Thursday while in the Atlanta area to receive the Bobby Dodd national high school lineman of the year award.
While down South, Gary met with coaches from Auburn, Ole Miss and Michigan — the Wolverines sent Partridge to check in on his former player — and he was planning to take his last official recruiting visit to Clemson. Gary said he has an uncle who lives in South Carolina, not far from Clemson.
He said he heard from Saban, who was making a pitch to get Gary to Tuscaloosa for one last visit before he and his mother returned to New Jersey.
Saban. Harbaugh. Meyer. Dabo Swinney. Gus Malzahn. Gary and his mom, Jennifer Coney, have been pitched by them all and many more.
“It’s unreal. Big names like that, just having them sit down in your own living room and really getting a feel for them. It’s very cool and obviously a blessing,” Gary said.
Getting in that living room is a big deal for Michigan and, by extension, the Big Ten.
“Not every school can usually get in on the No. 1 recruit in the country. That matters,” DiNardo said.
Closing the deal matters even more. Just a couple years ago, Da’Shawn Hand, a defensive end from Virginia, was the top-rated recruit by many experts and his choice came down to Alabama or Michigan. He picked the Tide.
It was only one choice by one player, but the high-profile jilting of Michigan seemed symbolic of the state of college football.
“The SEC is getting kids they want. The Big Ten can’t compete in recruiting. And I think that’s changed with Harbaugh,” Farrell said. “(Getting Gary) would send a message to other recruits … I think it would send a message to kids all over the country that Michigan’s an option for them.”
Even after Michigan State was thumped by Alabama in the College Football Playoff semifinals, the Big Ten is still riding the momentum of the recent success by the Spartans and Buckeyes, along with Michigan’s better-than-expected first season under Harbaugh. All three stand a good chance to sign top-10 recruiting classes Wednesday.
Gary said conference matters.
“That’s why I’m still considering schools in the SEC and Big Ten,” he said. “Definitely the style of play and physicality of it, that’s what I think about, too. You’ve got to play against the best to be the best.”
Gary will announce his decision at ESPN’s Bristol, Connecticut, studios Wednesday morning, but he said he plans to sit down with his mom Sunday and make a choice.
“When Rashan and I go to colleges, we have notebook for pros and cons,” Coney said. “We put down things we like, things we don’t like and put them together. We’re going to go over it Sunday. It’s going to be our own war room.”
Sports Writer Charles Odom in Atlanta contributed to this report.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP