|July 30, 2010
|The Bible and it`s Influence
Textbook: The Bible and it’s Influence
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Textbook Sampler for The Bible and Its Influence
Sample chapters and information from the Bible Literacy Project`s Textbook, The Bible and Its Influence - the first of its kind produced in nearly thirty years.
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Introduction to The Bible and Its Influence: Teacher’s Edition
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|July 30, 2010
|National Educators Association: Let`s celebrate communism!
Teachers` union promotes Mao`s launch of `People`s Republic`
(WorldNetDaily) Editor`s note: After this report appeared, the reference to the founding of Chairman Mao`s "People`s Republic" was removed from the NEA website.
The National Education Association is suggesting its teachers and NEA-connected schools celebrate China on the anniversary of the repressive communist regime`s violent founding.
The NEA`s website has a page called Diversity Events and lists Oct. 1 as the day to celebrate Chairman Mao`s successful revolution.
University of North Carolina–Wilmington criminal-justice professor Mike Adams says the NEA`s position is borne out of intellectual arrogance.
"Well, the next thing you know they`ll be celebrating the birth of Nazi Germany, but certainly that would be anticlimactic, because communist China has killed more people than Nazi Germany," Adams said.
"I think the only one way to describe the arrogant hubris of these pseudo-intellectuals is that they`re `holier than thou,`" Adams said.
The author of "Welcome to the Ivory Tower of Babel" says the Oct. 1 entry on the NEA`s website calendar reveals the NEA isn`t really interested in true diversity.
"I think this really shows they`re not dedicated to the principle of diversity. You know the diversity scheme has always been an example of cultural Marxism," Adams observed.
Worldview Weekend President Brannon Howse says the NEA is also advocating multiculturalism.
"Today we call it political correctness, but the real term is cultural Marxism. It`s also multiculturalism, which is a denigration of the foundational Western worldview," Howse explained.
Adams believes the NEA`s willing advocacy of cultural Marxism means it is anti-Western.
"It just shows they`re contrarians and they`ll celebrate anything that is contrary to our Judeo-Christian principles and our capitalistic society. It`s just another example of identity politics," Adams stated.
Howse agreed with Adams on the basic point. He says he`s not surprised that the NEA would celebrate communism.
"I`m appalled but not shocked because of the National Education Association`s long love affair with communism," Howse said.
"Most Americans are going to be shocked but this helps us understand who the National Education Association really is. The NEA is a group of radicals who are opposed to parental authority, opposed to accountability, and they`re not for traditional education," Howse added.
"They`re not reading, writing and arithmetic. They are for a progressive, liberal, anti-American worldview and most of the teachers who pay dues to the NEA do not agree with the liberal stances of the National Education Association," Howse explained.
Throughout its history, the NEA has historically been willing to ask for federal intervention in the nation`s schools. The NEA website reports that the teachers` union successfully influenced the federal government to create a federal Department of Education.
Howse adds that one of the NEA`s heroes is John Dewey.
"John Dewey traveled to the former Soviet Union in 1928 and studied the communist education system in the former Soviet Union, and he came back talking about how great it was. He talked about the marvelous development of the progressive education ideas and practices," Howse observed.
"Here is John Dewey praising communism, the Soviet Union`s system, which is very much like China`s system, saying we need to teach the progressive ideas and to counteract the ideas of the home and the church," Howse added.
Howse also believes that the celebration of communism is consistent with the NEA`s philosophy of rejecting the traditional family.
"They support feminism, which is antifamily, anti-father. They openly write about the need to destroy the father, the male, the leader of the home, the defender and the provider," Howse explained. "Break down the family and it will grow the government and the welfare state."
Howse believes one of the tools the NEA is using to accomplish its objectives is to revise America`s history.
"They`re at work, and their friends are at work, to try to show that social justice, or communism, or progressive ideology is good. The antithesis, Christianity, is evil," Howse stated.
"Bill Ayers (the former Weather Underground member), you would think is so radical that he would be rejected. Instead he`s been elected as vice president of a leading organization that writes curriculum. So Bill Ayers is writing social-justice curriculum for America`s schools," Howse continued.
"So this is how the National Education Association and people like Bill Ayers will work to praise the Soviet Union, to praise China," Howse added. "Their job has been to rewrite history to make America look bad and communism look good."
The NEA`s diversity calendar also lists Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving and traditional Jewish holidays such as Passover and Yom Kippur.
However, the calendar also includes the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan and the festival of Eid al-Fitr, the day to celebrate Ramadan`s end.
Howse adds that the connection between the two ideologies is purely pragmatic.
"The communists and the Muslims are united in their desire to destroy America. Muslims see America as the great Satan. Communists hate traditional America," Howse said.
However, Howse says that the arrangement pits the two most aggressive ideologies. At some point, those ideologies will clash.
"They`re working together now, but they`ll fight it out later."
According to Adams, the calendar is an expression of the valueless education establishment, which encourages the celebration of days significant to two of the world`s more aggressive belief systems.
He says that in the end, when those two ideologies collide, one ideology will win out.
"There`s no question that Islam will win out in the end," Adams said.
An NEA official told WND no one from the organization was available for comment.
WND reported when the NEA made a glowing assessment of radical socialist community organizer Saul Alinsky, enthusiastically recommending American public-school teachers read two of his books, including one dedicated to Satan.
On its website, the NEA dubs Alinsky "an inspiration to anyone contemplating action in their community! And to every organizer!"
It recommends Alinsky`s "Reveille for Radicals," a 1946 book about the principles and tactics of "community organizing," and "Rules for Radicals," a 1971 text that articulated a socialist strategy for gaining political power to redistribute wealth from the "haves" to the "have-nots."
The NEA, the largest labor union in the U.S., represents public-school teachers, college and university faculty, retired education employees and college students preparing to become teachers.
The NEA explained, "Alinsky`s goal seems to be to encourage positive social change by equipping activists with a realistic view of the world, a kind of preemptive disillusionment. If a person already knows what evil the world is capable of, then perhaps the surprise factor can be eliminated, making the person a more effective activist. Alinsky further seems to be encouraging the budding activist not to worry to [sic] much about getting his or her hands dirty. It`s all a part of the job, he seems to say."
|July 30, 2010
|Coalition of Pro-Life Groups Tell FDA to Not Approve Ella Abortion Drug
(LifeSiteNews) A coalition of pro-life groups is sending a letter to the FDA and Drug Administration asking it to not approve the new abortion drug Ella that backers have mislabeled as a morning after pill. The drug works days after conception to essentially cause an abortion of a unique human being.
In June, the FDA Advisory Committee for Reproductive Health Drugs gave its approval to the early abortion drug on two 11-0 votes.
The panel said the "investigational emergency contraceptive pill" known as ulipristal, that would potentially be sold under the name ella in the United States, is safe and effective at preventing pregnancy.
Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life of America has organized the Ella Causes Abortions coalition -- a collection of national pro-life groups and leaders (LifeNews.com is also a member) designed to inform the FDA, lawmakers, and the public that ella acts as an abortion drug and not a contraceptive.
“Make no mistake about it, ella is a dangerous abortion drug. The FDA advisory panel which approved it for sale within the U.S. has not done its job protecting women and is planning on intentionally misleading women by calling ella a mere contraceptive," Hawkins told LifeNews.com today.
She said she hopes the coalition "will help educate Americans about ella and encourage the FDA Commissioner not to give final approval for the new abortion drug.”
The letter says the "drug is deceptively portrayed as a five day `emergency contraceptive` preventing ovulation, fertilization, or implantation – however, there is evidence that Ulipristal Acetate (ella) may also kill or injure an unborn child after implantation."
"Ulipristal Acetate and the abortion drug Mifepristone (RU-486) are both selective progesterone receptor modulators (SPRM). SPRMs block progesterone, which is necessary to maintain pregnancy -- thus starving an unborn baby of the nutrients it needs to continue life," it explains.
"Given ella’s similar chemical makeup to RU-486, women deserve to see evidence demonstrating that ella will not destroy or harm an unborn child and that ella’s modes of action do not include abortion, especially in light of studies that show ella causes abortions in animal studies," it adds.
The letter to the FDA says its own materials on the drug admit data is “too limited to draw any definitive conclusions regarding the effect of ulipristal on an established pregnancy or fetal development.”
The letter also references the advisory committee meeting and points out that a representative from Planned Parenthood openly admitted the abortion business distributes PlanB/NextChoice beyond the time frame approved by the FDA and its web site indicates Planned Parenthood distributes RU-486 past the time frame approved by the FDA.
"So there is a compelling indication that ella could be provided off-label to either intentionally or unintentionally induce an abortion," the letter says.
The letter says the FDA also has an obligation to inform women of the risks ella poses.
"Since ella’s chemical make-up and mode of action are very similar to RU-486, which causes serious adverse health risks such as severe bleeding, ruptured tubal pregnancies, serious infections, and even death, further study is necessary to ensure ella is safe for women, particularly if it is used off-label," the letter says. "The FDA summary indicates that the clinical study was too limited to draw any meaningful conclusions about risks associated with tubal pregnancy. Limited to no data is available about ella’s effect on minors or its interaction with other drugs, such as hormonal birth control."
The coalition letter also points out that the FDA advisory panel did not address the cases in which women who used ella subsequently gave birth.
One woman who carried her baby to term after taking ella gave birth to a child with optic nerve hypoplasia and developmental delay.
Finally, the letter points out that women who take ella and eventually decide to give birth could be passing along the harmful drug to their children via breastfeeding.
"Research in animals showed that traces of ella could be found in breast milk. Little is known of the effects that it could have on infants who are breastfeeding and the FDA must also ensure proper research and labeling to inform nursing mothers of the risks involved," the letter reads.
Ultimately, the risks and problems -- both known and potential -- are sufficient for the FDA to deny approval to the abortion drug, the pro-life groups conclude.
"In light of these serious concerns, we believe that ella should not be approved and should not be categorized as `emergency contraception,`" they say.
If the drug is approved, the letter concludes: "At a bare minimum, the FDA must provide women with informed consent and ensure transparent labeling about the serious risks associated with off-label use clearly indicated, specifically, with the label including a `black box warning.` Women deserve to know the truth about the harm that ella can cause to themselves and their unborn children."
Related web sites:
Ella Causes Abortions - http://www.ellacausesabortions.com
|July 30, 2010
|Britain to Decentralize National Healthcare System
(NewsMax) Britain`s new government is undertaking a huge reorganization of its national healthcare system, moving away from a centralized bureaucracy in favor of local control by doctors.
According to The New York Times, more than $100 billion of the system`s $160 billion annual budget would come under the control of doctors, who would then be responsible for arranging financial deals with hospitals and other medical operators.
The goal of the healthcare reorganization is to save $30 billion in medical costs by 2014 while trimming bureaucratic costs by 45 percent.
According to the Times, an internal document outlining the plan flatly states: "The current architecture of the health system has developed piecemeal, involves duplication and is unwieldy. Liberating the [National Health Service], and putting power in the hands of patients and clinicians, means we will be able to effect a radical simplification, and remove layers of management.”
Tens of thousands of jobs are expected to be lost in the restructuring.
To read the full New York Times story -- Go Here Now.
|July 30, 2010
|Mayors Urged to Resist Atheists` Demands to Drop Invocations
(Christian Post) Attorneys with a Christian legal firm have urged mayors in South Carolina and Florida not to give in to the demands of atheists by removing Christian invocations from their council meetings.
"[W]e write to assure you that the Constitution clearly still protects the cherished practice of opening invocations," Brett Harvey, senior legal counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, wrote in a letter to Mayor Gow Fields of Lakeland, Fla.
Letters were also sent to government officials in Aiken and Woodruff, S.C., and Spartanburg County within the past week.
The attorneys contend that the Freedom From Religion Foundation and Atheists of Florida were wrong when they claimed invocations are unconstitutional.
"America’s founders opened public meetings with prayer, and public officials today should be able to do the same," Harvey argued. "The First Amendment protects public officials who choose to invoke divine guidance and blessings upon their work. Those who oppose this are essentially arguing that the Founders were violating the Constitution as they were writing it."
Earlier this month, FFRF warned three South Carolina public boards to stop opening council meetings with prayers, which have often invoked the name of Jesus.
"First and foremost, government prayer is unnecessary, inappropriate, and divisive," the humanist group stated. "Calling upon City Council members and citizens to rise and pray is coercive, embarrassing and beyond the scope of secular city government.
"The city ought not to lend its power and prestige to religion, amounting to a governmental endorsement that excludes the 15 percent of your population that is nonreligious."
FFRF took issue with the continual references to Christ in the prayers, calling it a violation of the Establishment Clause.
"The prayers currently given during City Council meetings impermissibly advance Christianity and lead a reasonable observer to believe that the City Council is endorsing not only religion over non-religion, but also Christianity over other faiths," the group contended.
ADF attorneys, however, said sectarian references in public invocations are constitutionally permissible.
"[T]he rule of thumb is that the government cannot compel someone to pray in accordance with one preferred religious viewpoint. For this reason, a policy which mandates only `nonsectarian` prayer would itself likely be unconstitutional," they assured as they cited legal precedent. "Instead, public bodies are much safer when they provide an open forum for individuals to offer prayer according to the dictates of their own consciences."
Harvey explained simply, "Feeling offended does not mean the Constitution has been violated."
He pointed out that humanist and secularist groups are threatening hometown governments through "fear, intimidation and disinformation" because they`re considered easy prey.
"Public officials throughout our country need to be encouraged and reminded that they can and should resist the increasingly strident demands of radical secularist groups."
Atheists of Florida has also challenged its local government officials over invocations at commission meetings but went further to file a lawsuit against the City of Lakeland. The atheist group demanded that the officials replace the practice with an observed moment of seated silence.
|July 29, 2010
|`In God We Trust` Again Upheld by Federal Appeals Court
(LifeSiteNews) In a 3-0 decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in Washington, DC, ruled that the National Motto, “In God We Trust,” is constitutional and does not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
Quoting the 1970 decision in Aronow v. United States, the Court wrote: “It is quite obvious that the national motto and slogan on coinage and currency ‘In God We Trust’ has nothing whatsoever to do with the establishment of religion.”
Judges David B. Sentelle, Karen L. Henderson, and David S. Tatel cited four cases in their succinct ruling. In each case, “In God We Trust” has been upheld against constitutional challenges. One of the precedents cited by the Court of Appeals comes from the 1996 opinion in Gaylor v. United States, which says: “[T]he statutes establishing ‘In God We Trust’ as our national motto and providing for its reproduction on United States currency do not violate the Establishment Clause.”
The case began when an atheist from Texas, Carlos Kidd, filed suit in the Federal District Court in the District of Columbia. The District Court wrote: “Courts have consistently held that the phrase ‘In God We Trust’ does not violate the Establishment Clause.” Kidd then appealed and lost again.
“In God We Trust” became the National Motto in 1956. Passed during the Cold War, the Congressional Record states: “In these days when imperialistic and materialistic Communism seeks to attack and destroy freedom, it is proper [to] remind all of us of this self-evident truth [that] as long as this country trusts in God, it will prevail.” The phrase appears in the final stanza of The Star-Spangled Banner (“And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust’”), written in 1814 by Francis Scott Key, the first stanza of which later became the National Anthem. A law in 1865 allowed the motto to be used on coinage. In 1908 most coins were required to carry the motto. The penny and nickel were later included in 1938, and from that time to the present all coins have been required to carry the motto. “In God We Trust” is the National Motto and the State Motto for Florida.
“The National Motto, ‘In God We Trust,’ is obviously constitutional," commented Mathew Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law. "The First Amendment was never meant to erase from history references to God or public acknowledgments of God.”
Public representations of God or Christianity in the U.S. has met with opposition on several fronts in recent months. A cross in California`s Mojave Desert that has stood for years as a war veterans memorial was only barely upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in April, which allowed the cross to stand in a 5-4 decision. The cross was later stolen.
|July 29, 2010
|Evangelicals Confront Western Europe`s Spiritual Malaise
(Christian Post) Western Europe has become a region of “empty nominalism” and “confused spirituality,” said the chairman of the Keswick Convention.
Dr. Jonathan Lamb told this year’s Keswick Convention that while millions of people in Western Europe define themselves as Christian, they regard themselves as Christian only by nationality, culture, as a result of family ties to the faith, or tradition.
He said the spiritual landscape closer to home could be characterized by a “dry orthodoxy,” which he explained as Christians who are committed to the evangelical faith but whose life “has been drained of its spiritual vibrancy.”
Others outside the church fold appear to be caught up in a kind of “confused spirituality.”
“Many people reject Christian dogma but they are happy to be spiritual – to be spiritual is in vogue,” he warned.
Lamb, who is also director of Langham Partnership International, was addressing hundreds of evangelicals at the Bible convention, which takes place each summer in Cumbria to help deepen the spiritual life in individuals and church communities through the careful exposition of Scripture. The convention kicked off earlier this month and concludes next week.
The theme this year is Christ-centered renewal and the spiritual malaise afflicting Western Europe.
Dr. Don Carson, research professor of the New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Ill., cautioned Christians about the dangers of pursuing spirituality, for its own sake without any reference to Christ.
“I don`t want you to think that Christians today should be robustly doctrinal and not emotional, or without any sense of the mystical experience of God,” he said.
“I`m merely saying that the pursuit of the mystical experience of God, abstracted from the Gospel, abstracted from the mediation of Christ, abstracted from the way we are reconciled to God, can actually become a kind of idolatry, a kind of paganism that sidesteps the cross.”
Jonathan Stephens, principal of the Wales Evangelical School of Theology, reminded Christians the key to Christ-centered renewal could be found in returning to Scriptures.
“It is hugely important that we open our minds to see the Christ-centeredness of the whole Bible – it is all about Him,” he said.
“How do we improve our holiness? By fixing our eyes on Jesus. If Christ is the center of your life and your thinking, then your life will be transformed by His grace.”
|July 29, 2010
|IVF-Conceived Children Have Higher Risk of Cancer: Swedish Study
(LifeSiteNews) Children conceived with IVF appear to have an elevated risk of cancer according to a large population-based study conducted in Sweden.
Fifty-three cases of cancer were found among the 26,692 IVF-conceived children studied – a number that is significantly higher than the 38 that would be expected given the rate of cancer in the Swedish population. This translates into a 42% increased risk of cancer.
IVF-conceived children were also 87% more likely than the general population to have received a diagnosis of cancer by the age of three.
Researchers speculated that the increased risk might be mediated through other factors associated with IVF treatments, such as higher rates of preterm births and neonatal asphyxia.
Of the 53 cases of cancer in children born after IVF, 18 had hematologic cancer, 17 had eye or central nervous system tumors, 12 had other solid cancers, and 6 had Langerhans cells histiocytosis.
The increased risk fell to 34% greater than the total population after excluding infants with Langerhans cells histiocytosis, which is not strictly a cancer but a cancer-like condition.
The over-all risk increase rose to 52%, however, after excluding children whose mothers were born outside of Sweden or whose fathers or mothers were non-Swedish.
Increased rates of over-all health problems have previously been found in IVF-conceived children.
They have also been found to be at greater risk for genetic brain disorders and birth defects.
|July 29, 2010
|Natural Gas Could Lead to New Lebanon-Israel War
(AP) The discovery of large natural gas reserves under the waters of the eastern Mediterranean could potentially mean a huge economic windfall for Israel and Lebanon, both resource-poor nations -- if it doesn`t spark new war between them.
The Hezbollah militant group has blared warnings that Israel plans to steal natural gas from Lebanese territory and vows to defend the resources with its arsenal of rockets.
Israel says the fields it is developing do not extend into Lebanese waters, a claim experts say appears to be correct, but the maritime boundary between the two countries -- still officially at war -- has never been precisely set.
"Lebanon`s need for the resistance has doubled today in light of Israeli threats to steal Lebanon`s oil wealth," Hezbollah`s Executive Council chief Hashem Safieddine said last month. The need to protect the offshore wealth "pushes us in the future to strengthen the resistance`s capabilities."
The threats cast a shadow over what could be a financial boon for both nations, with energy companies finding what appear to be substantial natural gas deposits in their waters.
Israel is far ahead in the race to develop the resources. Two fields, Tamar and Dalit, discovered last year, are due to start producing in 2012, and experts say their estimated combined reserves of 5.5 trillion cubic feet (160 billion cubic meters) of natural gas can cover Israel`s energy needs for the next two decades.
Click here to read entire article.
|July 29, 2010
|Study: Few Americans Say Faith is Top Priority
(Christian Post) Although the United States is known worldwide to be a religious nation, few Americans say that faith is a top priority in their life.
Nearly 90 percent of Americans, according to the CIA World Factbook, identify themselves with a religion. But only 12 percent of American adults say faith is a top priority in their life, according to a new study released Monday by the Barna Group.
About three-quarters of the U.S. population is Christian.
“The gap is vast between self-described affiliation with Christianity and ascribing highest priority to that faith,” commented David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group, in a statement. “When it comes to why so much of American religion seems merely skin-deep, this gap between what people call themselves and what they prioritize is perhaps most telling.”
The 12 percent who say faith is the highest priority in their life is up from nine percent in 2008, but down from 16 percent in 2006.
Looking at the Christian faith demographic, evangelicals are the most likely to say faith is the highest priority in life (39 percent), while Catholics are the least likely (4 percent), according to the Barna study.
Notably, the study highlights that the percentage of Catholics who say faith is the top priority in their life is only slightly above that of unchurched adults (2 percent).
About one in five Protestants (18 percent) and churchgoers (18 percent) – whose frequency of church attendance was not defined – say faith is the highest priority in their life.
The Barna study, conducted Jan. 27-Feb. 2 using a random sample of 1,006 American adults, sought to identify how the troubled economy has impacted the priorities of Americans.
By far, the highest priority for Americans is family. Forty-five percent of Americans say their family is the most important aspect in their life.
The second most important priority is health/leisure/balanced lifestyle (20 percent), followed by wealth/profession/making money/success/finances (17 percent), and faith (12 percent).
In terms of priority change – a possible effect of the economy – the Barna study found that over the past two years the percentage of Americans who say finance is their top priority increased from 12 percent in 2008 to 17 percent in 2010.
Also, more Americans now say health and a balanced lifestyle (20 percent versus 15 percent) or faith (12 percent versus 9 percent) is their top priority compared to two years ago.
Interestingly, there is a drop in the number of Americans who say family is their top priority (45 percent versus 52 percent). However, family continues to be the most important priority overall to Americans.
“The conventional wisdom says that when the economy turns bad people focus on ‘basics,’ like family and faith,” commented Kinnaman, who directed the study. “This research either calls that thinking into question or it tells us that the economy has not been bad enough to cause a significant reprioritization of family and faith.”
He also noted that faith is “the most volatile” of the top priorities in the Barna study. Faith is the only priority that went down from 2006, then up, “suggesting uncertainty about the interaction between faith and finances.”
“People are not turning to others – like family members or God – in the face of economic trials,” Kinnaman said. “Instead, they are focusing increasingly on themselves, trying to solve their problems by being more ‘balanced’ or by simply working harder.”
“[T]he economy has revealed Americans’ fixation with individualism and their illusions of being self-made,” he added.
The Barna group, a polling and research group that focuses on cultural trends and religion, plans to release a more in-depth report on the economy’s impact on religious belief and behavior.
|July 29, 2010
|Sex-ed program delayed, modified
(OneNewsNow) Outrage from parents has apparently resulted in delaying the implementation of a proposed controversial sex-ed program in Helena, Montana. The local school board decided to put off a vote for a couple of months to have time to make modifications, but there are still concerns that the proper changes won`t be made.
A vote on the curriculum, which would teach young children about subjects like same-sex intercourse, may not take place until October. But Jeff Laszloffy, president of the Montana Family Foundation (MFF), fears there will be little change to the program.
"The local school board has really bought into the philosophy that this will reduce both pregnancies and sexually-transmitted infections," he laments. "In addition, we`ve also got the homosexual agenda being promoted through this curriculum, and I don`t see them willing to bend a lot on that either. So I think the parents are really going to have to ramp it up. The outcry needs to be even greater, and parents need to really put their foot down."
The MFF president points out that parents across the country need to realize this indoctrination is not just happening in Helena.
"This is happening across the United States. It`s pushed by an organization called SIECUS [Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States], which was formed by the former medical director of Planned Parenthood," Laszloffy explains. "This is a national agenda, a national curriculum, and it`s coming to a school near you."
He argues that abstinence is the best policy, but says the Helena school board is only paying lip service to abstinence and instead teaching "safe sex" -- which he contends is not safe at all.
|July 29, 2010
|South Korea unruffled by North`s `nuclear` threats
(WorldNetDaily) South Korea is dismissing North Korean threats of possible nuclear retaliation for the joint U.S.-South Korean naval exercises, which got underway this weekend.
A former U.S. arms-control negotiator, however, remains concerned.
While small in size – less than 8,000 troops and 20 ships are involved – the joint military exercises ("Ulji Freedom Guardian") come just a few days after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced a new set of economic sanctions against Pyongyang.
The "one-two punch" provoked Pyongyang into threatening a "nuclear" response.
On Saturday, Korean Central News Agency, North Korea`s official news agency, stated, "The army and people of the DPRK will legitimately counter with their nuclear deterrence the largest-ever nuclear-war exercises to be staged by the United States and the South Korean puppet forces."
For South Korea, however, the threat was hollow:
"It is nothing," a South Korean official with defense and intelligence ties in Seoul told WND. "They [North Korea] cannot do anything."
Speaking on background, the South Korean made it quite clear that North Korea`s threats will "go nowhere" among the key leaders in Seoul.
But a former U.S./U.N. ambassador and arms-control negotiator, John Bolton, has not been so quick to dismiss North Korea`s statements.
"Pyongyang regularly makes threats about this annual exercise," Bolton said, "but this time [the threats] look more ominous."
While North Korea has conducted two nuclear tests in the last five years, the Pentagon had difficulty in classifying those tests as atomic bombs, because the yield was so low and the ensuing radiation small and scattered. The nuclear devices were said to be less sophisticated than those the U.S. dropped on Japan in the closing days of World War II. Even more important, Pentagon sources doubt that North Korea has yet to develop an effective means to deliver the weapons.
CIA sources explain the only way for Pyongyang to deliver such a weapon would be to load it up on a flatbed truck and drive it across the demilitarized zone. Given the defense barriers both sides have in the region, such an approach would seem highly unlikely.
Therefore, while the warnings from the North may have an "ominous" tone, Seoul is putting little serious weight on them.
Bolton, however, told WND, "North Korea is obviously very worried about what comes after (President) Kim Jong Il`s death, and its threats should be seen in that light."
He added that Washington and Seoul had no option but to proceed with the naval exercises, because any delay or cancellation would have signaled to the North Koreans that threats "work."
The exercises did proceed as scheduled today, provoking North Korea to comment that Washington and Seoul "went into reckless actions against the DPRK."
While the government of Kim Jong Il talks about war, it also met with U.S. military representatives over the weekend.
The Korean Central News Agency reported that U.S. and North Korean military officials convened in the truce village of Panmunjom yesterday to discuss Pyongyang`s insistence that a joint commission be established to investigate the sinking of the Cheonan on March 26.
The frigate lost 46 of 104 sailors in the mysterious attack off the South Korean coast. It was one of the worst attacks on the South Korean military since the Korean War.
On May 20, a five-nation investigation panel (South Korea, U.S., U.K., Australia and Sweden) reported to the U.N. Security Council that North Korea had indeed attacked the Cheonan. On July 11, the Council issued a nonbinding presidential statement indirectly criticizing North Korea for the attack.
Pyongyang has refused to accept the panel`s findings.
The South Korean official further told WND that behind the scenes, Beijing is "pressuring" Pyongyang not to do anything rash. China sees itself as the only effective middleman who can get both parties back to the so-called "six-party talks" aimed at reducing tensions on the Korean peninsula.
Having dodged a direct condemnation by the Security Council over the sinking of the Cheonan, Pyongyang signaled its willingness to return to the talks.
The Obama administration, infuriated by North Korea`s recent activities and refusal to admit sinking the South Korean ship, is demanding new concessions.
|July 29, 2010
|ABC Family Has Second Highest Proportion of "Gay Friendly" Hours, Just Behind MTV
(LifeSiteNews.com) ABC Family, which was founded in 1977 as an extension of Pat Robertson`s Christian Broadcast Network, has earned a "good" rating from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) for its "LGBT-inclusive" programming, which took up 37% of its original prime time programming over the 2009-2010 season.
The only network with a higher percentage of "LGBT-inclusive” programming was MTV, which also became the first TV network to win an "excellent" rating from GLAAD for its portrayal of homosexuals in shows such as "The Real World" and "America`s Best Dance Crew."
Among positive elements on MTV that GLAAD listed were broadcasts such as "True Life: I`m Changing My Sex."
Out of 207.5 hours of original primetime programming on MTV, 87 hours, or 42%, included homosexual elements.
MTV`s rating may be found in GLAAD`s "Network Responsibility Index," which describes itself as an "evaluation of the quantity and quality of images of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people on television."
"As diverse LGBT images in the media become more prevalent," the report says, "the general public is made aware to the truth about the LGBT community: lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans are parents and teachers, law enforcement and soldiers, high school students and loving elderly couples."
The report cites a GLAAD-sponsored survey in which 19% of people surveyed said that their feelings towards homosexuals had become more favorable over the past 5 years, of which 34% said "seeing gay or lesbian characters on television" contributed to the change of mind.
ABC Family was acquired from Fox by Disney in 2001; in 2006 it started operating beneath the slogan "ABC Family: A New Kind of Family." It has previously been criticized for offering excessively risqué shows for a theoretically family-oriented network.
GLAAD researched broadcast networks in addition to cable networks; of broadcast networks researched, The CW possessed the highest percentage of "LGBT-inclusive" hours, with 198.5 out of 570, or 35%.
Fox had second place of broadcast networks, with 30% of Fox`s original primetime programming listed as "LGBT-inclusive," although GLAAD also chided Fox for "several offensive LGBT representations" in its Sunday night comedy line-up.
GLAAD`s ranking of cable networks by percentage of LGBT-inclusive hours of original programing:
1. MTV 42%
2. ABC Family 37%
3. TNT 34%
4. Showtime 32%
5. Lifetime 31%
6. FX 27%
7. HBO 26%
8. USA 4%
9. A&E 3%
10. TBS 2%s
GLAAD`s ranking of broadcast networks by percentage of LGBT-inclusive hours of original programming:
1. The CW 35%
2. Fox 30%
3. ABC 26%
4. NBC 13%
5. CBS 7%
|July 29, 2010
| Oscar-worthy film just misses Jesus
(WorldNetDaily) The movie industry is a sharpened tool that can slice to the heart of personal, spiritual and social disease, exposing in living color what`s wrong with the world on this side of the silver screen.
But wielded in the hands of Hollywood, this scalpel-like instrument rarely finds the cure.
Take in point the brilliant and mind-boggling film "Inception," an Oscar-worthy offering that unwittingly grazes just past the answer on its incision deep into the darkness of guilt:
"Do you want to take a leap of faith," the movie asks repeatedly, "or become an old man, filled with regret, waiting to die alone?"
If only the filmmakers realized the right direction for their "leap of faith," they might have landed upon the solution to their movie`s gut-wrenching themes of guilt, regret and dying alone.
Nonetheless, this blockbuster film is not only the best movie of the year so far, but also one of the most original and creative films of the last decade.
The premise of "Inception" is that Mr. Cobb (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) is part of an elite group of thieves who have found a way to share the dreams of their targets and then manipulate the M.C.-Escher-like dreamscapes to extract hidden information that is valuable in the real world. In essence, they use dreams to steal secrets.
But Cobb has secrets of his own.
Festering in his mind – the mind that is used to build these magnificent dreamscapes – is a life-shattering guilt over the death of his wife. Hidden in the basement of all these dreams are Cobb`s memories, but they refuse to stay there. If Cobb cannot find a way to purge the guilt and shame and horror over what he`s done, it will literally drive him mad.
Though this underlying theme sounds similar to the guilt-racked world of a previous DiCaprio thriller, "Shutter Island," "Inception" supersedes the former in creativity and mind-bending plot. It is simply a magnificent piece of work that many are rightfully comparing to "The Matrix" for its groundbreaking story and special effects.
Unlike "The Matrix," however – and, indeed, very much like "Shutter Island" – "Inception" does a far better job depicting the depressing power of guilt than it does presenting the cure.
Despite talk of "taking a leap of faith," the film`s only resolution for this guilt is to "forgive yourself" and "let go."
And, while, psychologically, these are important steps, they don`t complete the process. In a case like Cobb`s, simply forgiving oneself doesn`t address the profound spiritual wounds of, as the film states, "an old man, filled with regret, waiting to die alone."
Shakespeare better understood the humanly unconquerable power of guilt, when he wrote the words of Macbeth, who was aghast that there was no cleansing for the hands that committed murder:
"What hands are here? Ha! they pluck out mine eyes," Macbeth wailed. "Will all great Neptune`s ocean wash this blood clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather the multitudinous seas incarnadine, making the green one red."
Guilt, as Shakespeare understood, does not just wash away because we wish it gone.
Guilt is a debt against all that is right and good in the world, a wrong that must be corrected, a crime that must be punished, a spiritual dilemma not solved by psychology alone.
And so "Inception" is wrong in its conclusion … but it did whisper the solution.
For the spiritual debt for our guilt was paid by another, a price in his blood, when God who could do what no man can do for himself stepped into man`s place and as Jesus took the punishment for our wrongdoing.
"There is, therefore, now no condemnation," the Bible says; the sinner`s debt is paid; he is free of the burden of guilt.
"I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist," God says in Isaiah 44:22. "Return to me, for I have redeemed you."
But can man trust in this truth, believe in this Jesus, accept the payment that the guilty soul perpetually tries to extract from itself? It is a risk, a chance, a leap into the arms of a God that we cannot see.
So, ultimately, though they didn`t know it, the writers of "Inception" got it right:
"Do you want to take a leap of faith," the movie asks, "or become an old man, filled with regret, waiting to die alone?"
- "Inception" is filled with gun battles, fistfights, deaths, car chases, crashes and other melee. At times, it`s overkill, as the film slips from being incredibly brainy to overly brawny at times. Some editing of the action could have helped the film. Other than a bleeding wound from a gunshot, however, there is little gore to accompany all the violence.
- The movie has about a dozen profanities, surprisingly few for a film of this genre, far short of the constant cussing that detracted from "The Matrix," for example. The "f-word" is completely absent. There are, however, a handful of violations of the Third Commandment.
- Likewise, sexuality in the movie is virtually nonexistent. There`s a chaste kiss and a female character that flashes some cleavage. That`s it.
- Despite talk of "a leap of faith," the phrase is not used in a religious context in the film. Nor do religion or the occult play a significant role in the film. The only exception may be a brief comment from an African man who oversees people purposefully living under heavy sedation to experience long dreams. The man says the people sleep to "wake up" in their dreams, which they have substituted for reality. "Who are you to say they`re wrong?" he asks, intoning some Eastern mysticism, but it`s not developed by the plot.
|July 29, 2010
|FactCheck.org Confirms: Obamacare Dollars Were Set to Fund Abortions before Controversy
(LifeSiteNews.com) The non-partisan fact-checking site FactCheck.org has vindicated the National Right to Life Committee`s (NRLC) claim that federal monies were on the brink of funding abortions in state high-risk insurance pools before the matter was exposed by NRLC, prompting the Obama administration to retroactively enforce Hyde-amendment restrictions.
The controversy erupted a week and a half ago, when NRLC revealed that abortions would be funded under a $160 million Pennsylvania program, a fact that contradicted the repeated assurances of President Obama and pro-life Democrats that abortions would not be funded under the federal health care law. The pro-life organization also unearthed similar funding problems in New Mexico and Maryland.
The Health and Human Services Department (HHS) responded to the concerns raised by NRLC in a statement, suggesting that an abortion funding ban for the high risk pools was already implied in the health reform law. However, Planned Parenthood and NARAL both expressed shock at the HHS’s "clarification" that only abortions in cases of rape, incest, and threat to the mother`s life would be federally subsidized under the high-risk plans; both groups condemned such a funding ban as a clear change in the law.
Now Brooks Jackson of FactCheck.org has agreed with both NRLC and the pro-abortion groups that nothing in the law would have prevented abortions from being funded under the high-risk pools.
He wrote that the NRLC was correct to point out that the Pennsylvania plan was flawed because, while it appeared to exclude "elective abortions" from federally-subsidized coverage, it failed to define the term "elective abortions," rendering the statement meaningless.
Click here to read entire article.
|July 23, 2010
|Update on Marriage
(California Family Council) The closing oral arguments in Perry v Schwarzenegger took place in May, and everyone awaits a decision from Chief Judge Vaughan Walker. Recent media coverage anticipates a decision from Walker on Prop 8’s constitutionality to take place within days.
The media coalition and the plaintiffs’ attorneys have requested 48 hours notice from Judge Walker before his decision is made public, and regardless of the decision, we can expect a significant public response from pro-homosexual activists to include protests or celebrations. Many are already planned.
Meanwhile, the team of attorneys tasked with defending the will of the voters and the definition of marriage in California’s constitution are working diligently to prepare any critical requests to the Court, dependent upon Judge Walker’s decision. Keep in mind that any decision from the federal district court will be appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and many believe the United States Supreme Court will ultimately hear the case.
Adding to speculation of Walker’s looming decision was the ruling two weeks ago by a federal district judge in Massachusetts that the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. Placed into law in 1996 during the Clinton presidency, DOMA defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman for purposes of all federal laws, and provides that states need not recognize a marriage from another state if it is between persons of the same sex. However, Judge Joseph Tauro found the arguments put forward in DOMA’s passage 14 years ago – including encouraging responsible procreation and child-bearing and defending traditional notions of morality – to be insubstantial rationale for protecting traditional marriage in federal law.
Fortunately, the Massachusetts decision can actually be seen to strengthen the position of Proposition 8 in California law, as part of Judge Tauro’s ruling reinforced the rights of states to independently define marriage. It is expected that this judge’s decision will also be taken to higher courts of appeal.
If people haven’t yet come to recognize that judicial activism is a very real and growing problem, then Tauro’s decision, and Walker’s potential overturning of Prop 8, should leave no doubt in their minds. In the Massachusetts case, Judge Tauro has ruled according to his subjective, low value of biological parents and deeply held morals. In California, we will soon see whether Judge Walker will disregard arguments for procreation, child-rearing, social order and the proven fluidity of an individual’s sexual orientation, not to mention many other strong arguments to protect the institution of traditional marriage.
In other news, the secular media has made the most out of a new Field Poll released this week, although it shows no change since 2008 in its survey results. The Field Poll has been historically inaccurate regarding the measurement of California citizens’ opinion on marriage, and it continues to state that 51% of those surveyed prefer legalizing homosexual marriage.
However, the Field Poll is not completely meaningless, as it reminds us of the urgent work before us: to educate the population on the meaning of marriage and its purpose as an institution. The historic institution of marriage fosters committed relationships, responsible procreation, developmental benefits to children, and generational benefits to society. Thank you for your support of California Family Council as we continue in leadership for the cultural and legal protection of traditional marriage. During our summer months, we find that charitable giving decreases, and I ask for your consideration of a financial gift. To make a secure online gift today, click here.
Chief Executive Officer
|July 23, 2010
|`Lose Christianity or face expulsion`
(WorldNetDaily) A lawsuit against Augusta State University in Georgia alleges school officials essentially gave a graduate student in counseling the choice of giving up her Christian beliefs or being expelled from the graduate program.
School officials Mary Jane Anderson-Wiley, Paulette Schenck and Richard Deaner demanded student Jen Keeton, 24, go through a "remediation" program after she asserted homosexuality is a behavioral choice, not a "state of being" as a professor said, according to the complaint.
Also named as defendants in the case that developed in May and June are other administrators and the university system`s board of regents.
The remediation program was to include "sensitivity training" on homosexual issues, additional outside study on literature promoting homosexuality and the plan that she attend a "gay pride parade" and report on it.
The lawsuit, filed by attorneys working with the Alliance Defense Fund, asserted the school cannot violate the Constitution by demanding that a person`s beliefs be changed.
|July 23, 2010
|Wichita Council Keeps Prayers at Meetings
(Christian Post) The Wichita City Council in Kansas will continue having invocations before each meeting despite protests by a group of humanists.
"I can`t agree with the statement that religion has no place. It has a place in our entire lives. It`s not just here at city hall," said Councilwoman Sue Schlapp on Tuesday. "So I don`t think I can exclude that from my daily life just because I walk into city hall."
Vickie Sandell Stangl, president of the Great Plains chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, brought her concerns before council members at their meeting Tuesday.
She argued, "There`s no good reason to use public time to express private beliefs. The only real purpose seems to be an elevating of public officials` piety before the citizenry."
"Invocations before government meetings only serve to promote religion," she added, noting that the majority of the invocations have been Christian. "Public business should be free of religious sentiment."
Three of the council members disagreed with Stangl`s arguments.
Councilman Paul Gray said nearly every culture and corner of life has established some form of religion. And though many quote 17th century British philosopher John Locke when arguing for the separation of church and state, Gray stressed that no such words are found in the one document that has any relevance – the U.S. Constitution.
"M`am, this is not an open debate," Gray said.
He and others on the council noted, however, that they make sure everyone has the opportunity to express their opinion, celebrate their religion and give the invocation at their meetings.
"But it doesn`t require us to have an absence of religion because a few people out there, a very slim majority, feel offended," Gray added. "I think the majority of the country does not have a problem as long as everybody gets a fair representation."
On Tuesday, Michael Alderfer of the Great Plains AU, filled the invocation slot with a short speech.
"Each of us possess the ability to use reason and compassion," he stated, after encouraging participants to look at one another rather than bow their heads. "Let us not only look to the heavens for inspiration but also to each other and open our eyes wide to accept the reality that confronts us without losing sight of our ideals of what could be. Through the prudent use of reason and compassion we can assure the continued success of this great city."
Following Alderfer`s speech, Schlapp decided to bless the meeting.
"I believe all good flows from our Heavenly Father and I`d like to bless this meeting this morning," she said.
If the city council plans to continue with invocations before every meeting, Stangl suggested that they be more diverse to include such persons as Wiccans and humanists.
Mayor Carl Brewer said the invocations already reflect the diversity of the community.
"City hall is everyone`s city hall," he assured.
|July 23, 2010
|Opponents of Ground Zero Mosque Push for Landmark Status
(Christian Post) A Christian legal group representing thousands of Americans opposed to the building of an Islamic mosque near Ground Zero has urged New York City officials to grant landmark status to the current building on the site.
The American Center for Law and Justice contends in a written testimony to the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission that the building at 45-47 Park Place should be considered a landmark because the landing gear of one of the hijacked planes on 9/11 fell through its roof. The site of 45-47 Park Place is where The Cordoba Initiative wants to build a 13-story, $100 million Muslim community center.
“We’re concerned that the City of New York is trying to fast-track and sidestep a well-documented process in order to clear the way for this sacred site to be used as a location to build an Islamic mosque,” expressed Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the ACLJ, in a statement.
“We urge city officials to reject the pressures of political correctness and embrace common sense,” said Sekulow. “This is not the place to build a mosque. It’s time to approve a landmark designation that will preserve the historical integrity of this building.”
ACLJ is currently representing Tim Brown, a firefighter and first responder who survived the 911 attacks on the Twin Towers and lost nearly 100 friends in the tragedy. The legal group also represents thousands of Americans who signed on to the Committee to Stop the Ground Zero Mosque.
Opponents of the Ground Zero mosque proposal argue that it is insensitive to build just two blocks from spot where the Twin Towers once stood a place of worship to the same religion that 9/11 terrorists cite as their motivation for the attacks.
Islamic experts, meanwhile, say a mosque near the 9/11 site would be a powerful political statement that Islam is here.
Supporters of the Ground Zero mosque proposal, however, both Muslims and non-Muslims, say allowing the Islamic cultural center construction would improve interfaith relations and demonstrate religious tolerance.
Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar, argues that officials should allow the Ground Zero mosque to be built because it shows the terrorists have not changed one of America’s core values – religious tolerance.
“[I]f the enemy is terrorism, then we should realize that we only incite and inspire that enemy when we act as if we are at war with Islam,” Prothero wrote on CNN Belief Blog.
To those that say the Cordoba mosque would be too close to Ground Zero, Prothero says it would be too far.
“I believe a small mosque ought to be integrated into the redesign of the World Trade Center site itself – a reminder in steel and stone that the United States is not at war either with Islam or with our core values,” proposed Prothero.
The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission is expected to vote on the landmark status of the building currently on the proposed mosque site in August.
|July 23, 2010
|Congressmen Demand Answers about U.S. Involvement in Pro-Abort Kenyan Constitution Campaign
(LifeSiteNews.com) Pro-life Congressmen are demanding further answers from the Obama Administration regarding the U.S. government’s support for groups in Kenya that are campaigning for the adoption of a new constitution, which critics say would liberalize Kenya’s abortion laws.
In two weeks, Kenyans will vote on the constitution, which supporters say is intended to cut down the potential for corruption and give the African nation greater political stability. But two provisions have drawn the fire of conservative and Christian groups: an ill-defined health exception for the ban on abortion, and the institution of a parallel Islamic judicial system, the Khadis courts, which will be binding on all Muslims.
Pro-life advocates believe the abortion provisions are a Trojan Horse that will lead to the significant liberalization of abortion laws.
Investigations have revealed that the U.S. government has heavily invested itself in the referendum. Pro-life U.S. Reps. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Frank Wolf (R-Va.) have called attention to the Obama administration’s commitment to a “yes” outcome.
“Under no circumstances should the U.S. government take sides by supporting, facilitating and funding projects designed to identify and motivate votes for either side. Yet that is precisely what the Obama Administration has done,” said Smith at a press conference this afternoon in the Capitol Visitor’s Center.
He added that besides meddling in the internal affairs of a sovereign country, the U.S. government’s advocacy of a “yes” campaign is also illegal, because “the proposed Constitution significantly alters existing abortion law in Kenya.” Under a U.S. statute called the Siljander amendment, no State Department or United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funds can be used “to lobby for or against abortion.”
So far, the USAID Inspector General has revealed that more than $23 million U.S. taxpayer funds have been dedicated to the civic education effort in Kenya. Many of the grantees have obtained the money specifically to work to obtain approval for the proposed constitution.
Smith said that a chart from USAID’s Inspector General “shows that 60 sub-recipients got funds for activities that include transportation, fuel, road shows, voter ID and ‘yes’ vote ‘buy in’ for professional elites.”
“Today, my colleagues and I note with alarm, shock and dismay that the evidence gathered by the United States Agency for International Development Inspector General Donald Gambatesa clearly shows that the Obama Administration has funded grantees with the express purpose of identifying and mobilizing tens of thousands of ‘yes’ votes,” he added.
“It is unconscionable that U.S. taxpayers are subsidizing a massive one-sided political campaign thinly disguised as ‘civic education’ in another sovereign nation. This is a very bad precedent. And it is illegal.”
A previous report from the pro-life lawmakers last week revealed that the U.S. government has funding agreements with various NGOs pledging to marshal Kenyans behind the proposed constitution. At least five NGOs agreed to register 20,000 voters each – 100,000 voters total – “for a YES vote at the next referendum.” One group received grant money to secure the support of Kenya’s elite.
Another report showed that pro-abortion groups dedicated to overturning Kenya’s pro-life laws have received USAID funding for constitution-related activities. Such groups include the Kenyan Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA-Kenya), the Committee of Experts on Constitutional Review in Kenya, the African Woman and Child Features Service, and Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI).
DAI, which has received $3 million as a primary grant recipient, advised USAID in 2000 to support local advocacy groups pushing for “efforts to eventually legalize abortion in Kenya.”
Smith said that U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Katya Thomas in Nairobi told the Associated Press last Friday that nine grantees “had been suspended or their work concluded, presumably because of issues we and the IG have raised.” All this occurred after Thomas had rejected accusations that the Embassy was engaged in an illegal campaign in Kenya.
The congressmen said that they would press USAID’s Inspector General on whether taxpayer money has been returned, and demand to know who in the U.S. government is responsible and liable for allegedly breaching the law.
Smith also said the nine grantees “may be only a tip of the iceberg.” He and his colleagues are pressing the IG to determine “whether other grant recipients are also illegally pushing the ‘yes’ campaign at U.S taxpayer expense.”
|July 23, 2010
|Sperm Bank Offers Celebrity Look-A-Like Donors
(LifeSiteNews.com) California Cryobank, a 30-year-old fertility business, has launched a "Donor Look-A-Like" program which allows women to search for sperm donors that the company claims resemble Tom Cruise, Viggo Mortensen, Will Smith, and other celebrities or athletes.
The program has drawn harsh criticism from pro-life quarters for effectively turning children into commodities to be bought and sold. Dr. David Stevens, Chief Executive Officer of the Christian Medical and Dental Associations, told LifeSiteNews.com (LSN) that the “program is another step down the road to the illusion of designer children."
But Scott Brown, communications director for California Cryobank, has insisted that "this is not a designer baby factory."
"We want to humanize the experience because we can`t show what the donor actually looks like," he said.
California law requires that sperm donors be anonymous, and the company said the "Donor Look-A-Like" search was conceived of as a way to make the task of choosing a donor easier, given that one is unable to view a picture of the donor. The service, however, has had the additional benefit for the company of significantly boosting sales.
In addition to using the "Donor Look-A-Like" method, potential mothers can search by hair color and texture, eye color, height, weight, ancestry, level of education, area of education, and religion.
"Tragically, the reproductive assistant industry in the USA is totally unregulated," Stevens told LSN. "What anyone can conceive, they can do - from killing embryos that don`t have the sex or traits the parents desire to human cloning."
In-vitro fertilization (IVF) clinics currently offer embyros screened to have specific characteristics, such as blue eyes or blond hair. Others offer gender selection and screening for cancer tendencies.
Dr. Stevens said that, "It is past time that we put limits on the ‘anything goes’ absolute right to reproduction where those born and unborn pay the price of their parent`s whims."
A recent, unprecedented study on donor-conceived children found that they were more likely to be delinquent or have substance abuse problems than children raised by their parents.
Stevens also pointed out in many cases the users of "Donor Look-A-Like" might have their desires frustrated.
"They are selling an illusion," he said. "If by chance it works in a specific case, without sex selection you may get a daughter, not a son, that looks like Rob Lowe. Not a pretty sight!"
|July 23, 2010
|Legislating morality in schools
(OneNewsNow) An author and mother of five is alarmed at the recent news of school districts in Massachusetts and Montana that in her opinion are encouraging the sexuality of young children.
From condoms for young children in Provincetown to sex education for kindergartners in Helena, Katie Reid -- author of When the Bough Breaks -- believes the intent of such actions is to provide children a means to engage in sexual relations with fewer possible side effects. But as Reid points out, there are more consequences to sex than just pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
"When you as a child engage in sex, you have no ability to really understand the depth of the gravity of the situation that you`re dealing in or what it means to lose your innocence or how vulnerable having sex can make you," says the author. "And there seems to be a complete disregard for the emotional and social consequences of sex -- especially on girls."
One of those consequences, says Reid, is boyfriend abuse.
"That`s one of the first things that a boyfriend who`s likely going to abuse [his girlfriend] will do," she explains. "...He will get the girl to become sexually active even if she doesn`t want to, even if she protests -- and he will create that huge intimacy so that she feels she has no choice but to do anything that he says.
"I really just don`t see how a condom is going to protect any girl from that."
The author is also concerned that school officials believe they have the right and authority to trump the rights and interests of parents in raising their own child. For example, the reasoning of the Provincetown School Committee for their decision? "Children alone decide when they become sexually active, and we can`t control that, but we can ensure that when they`re making those decisions, there are caring adults and support present."
To that argument, Reid states in a recent column for Human Events: "Instead of handing our children over to the foolishness of youth with a state-funded piece of rubber as their only guardian, maybe we could take back the authority from the school boards who were never given such power in the first place."
She also writes that after decades of debate about whether morality can be legislated, Provincetown School Committee "took it upon itself to legislate immorality."
|July 22, 2010
|Apologist: Need for New Breed of Young Christian Defenders
(Christian Post) Well-known Christian apologist Dinesh D`Souza visited a California megachurch on Sunday to equip believers with tools other than "Let me tell you what Jesus has done for me."
While experiential Christianity is a valuable form of testimony, the experience is largely personal and unique, he said, and does little when trying to give a defense of the faith.
D`Souza was invited to address thousands at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, Calif., to share the "what" of evangelism. Lead Pastor Greg Laurie is leading the megachurch in a series of messages on sharing one`s faith in preparation for the annual Harvest Crusade in Southern California in August.
Just a week before D`Souza`s appearance, Laurie stressed to his congregation that God can use everyone to preach the Gospel. God even used "a knucklehead like me," he said, as he recalled his teen years when he had become a new believer and was still able to bring a middle-aged woman to faith in Jesus Christ.
While being a scholar isn`t a prerequisite to sharing one`s faith, Harvest congregants were introduced to apologetics over the weekend to address some of the difficult questions Christians come across when evangelizing.
Apologetics, D`Souza explained, refers to using reason to give a defense of the faith. "Using reason means not using revelation, not using an appeal to the Bible and in some ways ... not just appealing to your own experience."
Apologetics is different in every generation, he noted. While apologists such as C.S. Lewis had to deal with questions raised in the aftermath of World War II and the Holocaust, the world today is very different, as are the questions.
"There`s always a need for a new breed of young Christian defenders who are able to respond to the challenges of their own time and stand up for the faith," said D`Souza, who most recently authored Life After Death: The Evidence.
Addressing a common atheist argument that Christians have blind faith and throw their brains out the window when it comes to belief in God, D`Souza told the Harvest congregation that not all answers can be fully resolved by reason. There are questions where you can never get a full answer no matter how much you apply reason, he said.
Before marrying, he tried to approach the issue of marriage with reason, pondering what life would be like with his now wife over the next 50 years. No matter how much he pondered, he would never really know, he realized. Even if he decided to try to get to know her more for a few more years, he still ultimately would not have all the data and be able to predict what married life would be like.
"You can`t really wait for the data to come in. So in life, at some point, you got to go for it," he said. "You`ve got to make a decision even in the absence of full information.
And in that sense, "faith is not unreasonable," he added. "It is the reasonable step, having plugged in reasons but now recognizing that reason cannot take you all the way."
D`Souza has debated leading atheists including Christopher Hitchens, whom he has known for 20 years, and Daniel Dennett. Hitchens was recently diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus and will undergo chemotherapy.
"Hitchens is probably thinking about Pascal`s Wager right around now," the apologist said, citing the French philosopher`s suggestion to bet on God`s existence rather than against it. "And there are people praying for him."
On an interesting note, D`Souza noted that atheists and nonbelievers are "closer to the Christian" than those who are indifferent. The opposite of belief is indifference, not unbelief, he said.
"It`s much harder for me to get through some guy who doesn`t care than to someone who goes `there is no God,`" he said.
The nonbeliever is engaged in the issue and sees the importance of it. "Hitchens knows it matters a lot," he noted. "If there is a God, it changes everything. So he knows the stakes are very high."
|July 22, 2010
|Pro-family group boycotting Home Depot
(OneNewsNow) Sponsorship of "gay pride" festivals has gotten a major U.S. retailer in hot water with a prominent pro-family group -- so much so that the group is asking its supporters to boycott the retailer.
After several requests that The Home Depot remain neutral in the debate surrounding the issue of homosexuality, American Family Association has formally announced it has launched a boycott of the national retailer. According to a press release from the pro-family organization, The Home Depot has provided both financial and corporate support to "open displays of homosexual activism" on America`s main streets for several years.
AFA says the company`s sponsorship of and participation in numerous "gay pride" parades and festivals has included deliberate exposure of "lascivious displays of sexual conduct" to small children. In addition, according to the website BoycottTheHomeDepot.com, the home improvement retailer has erected "Kids Workshops" as a vendor at pro-homosexual festivals, given thousands of dollars to be a parade sponsor -- and permitted its employees to march in parades as representatives of the company.
When confronted about its participation in those events -- and urged to remain neutral on the issue of homosexuality -- The Home Depot reportedly told AFA it was an "inclusion issue" with the company and that it had no intention of forbidding their employees to be involved in the pride festivals "in any way."
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Results from our related poll
What advice would you give the decision-makers at Home Depot?
AFA president Tim Wildmon says The Home Depot basically told the pro-family group to "take a hike."
"American Family Association has appealed to Home Depot to quit funding gay and lesbian pride parades across America...which they have done numerous times," he notes, "and we`ve appealed to them to stop and remain neutral in the culture war....Home Depot said `AFA, you can take a hike. We`re going to keep sponsoring these events.`"
The boycott website includes photos of parades where children are in attendance -- and in certain cases, Home Depot allowed products to be passed out displaying their logo and web addresses directing them to explicit websites.
"I mean, the whole thing is irresponsible to say the least on the part of Home Depot," Wildmon laments, "and to tell us as they have that they`re going to allow their company to keep sponsoring gay and lesbian pride parades, I think, is contradictory to the family values image that most people have of Home Depot."
The AFA president encourages people to go to BoycottTheHomeDepot.com to sign a boycott pledge, and to contact local store managers to explain that they are discontinuing doing business with them until the corporate policy changes.
|July 22, 2010
|Oakland votes to permit large marijuana farms
(AP) Oakland has moved closer to becoming the first city in the nation to authorize wholesale pot cultivation.
The Oakland City Council voted 5-2 with one abstention late Tuesday in favor of a plan to license four production plants where marijuana would be grown, packaged and processed.
The vote came after more than two hours of public comment, with speakers divided between those who opposed the measure — largely on the grounds that it would put small medical marijuana growers out of business — and those who said it would generate millions of dollars for Oakland in taxes and sales and create hundreds of jobs.
The plants would not be limited in size — one potential applicant for a license wants to open a plant that would produce over 21,000 pounds of pot a year — but they would be heavily taxed and regulated.
Those vying for one of the four licenses would have to pay $211,000 in annual permit fees, carry $2 million worth of liability insurance and be prepared to devote up to 8 percent of gross sales to taxes.
Proponents of the measure also touted the possibility of Oakland becoming the nation`s cannabis capital, especially if California voters approve the legalization of recreational marijuana in November.
"Do you want to be the "Silicon Valley of Cannabis?" said Jeff Wilcox, a local businessman who wants to build "AgraMed," a 7.4-acre plant with a bakery, a lab and 100,000 square feet of cultivation space.
But Stephen DeAngelo, executive director of Harborside Health Center, the largest medical marijuana dispensary in the world, said small growers were coming to him terrified that the ordinance would mean the end of their livelihoods.
One of the co-sponsors of the ordinance, Rebecca Kaplan, said the ordinance would not take effect until January, giving the council time to come up with a plan for medium-sized growers.
Councilwoman Nancy Nadel said she worried about quality of the product, wanted environmental protections and questioned why the council was voting on the measure now if it wasn`t going to take effect until January.
The measure will go before the council one more time for a final vote, but the outcome isn`t expected to change.
|July 22, 2010
|Effort to bypass Electoral College gains momentum
(OneNewsNow) An author and political analyst reports an effort is afoot by well-funded liberal activists to effectively get rid of the Electoral College in its present form, without having to use the constitutional amendment process.
A group called National Popular Vote (NPV) is pushing state legislatures to enter into a compact that calls for them to allocate their electoral votes in a particular presidential election to the candidate who gets the most votes nationwide rather than to the contender who gets the most votes in their state. NPV argues that the legislation "would reform the Electoral College so that the electoral vote reflects the choice of the nation`s voters" for president.
However, Tara Ross, author of Enlightened Democracy: The Case for the Electoral College, cautions that under such a plan, the 11 largest states -- with a total of 271 electoral votes -- could band together and elect the president.
"If you got those 11 biggest states to all agree to do that, you would be switching to a direct election system," she explains. "By contrast, if you were to try to formally get rid of the Electoral College through a constitutional amendment, that would take 38 states, which is a much higher hurdle to climb and one they think they can`t climb, which is why they`re trying to do it through this kind of end-run around the constitutional process."
Ross has a suggestion as to why the NPV is pushing for this change. "What I think they must think is that they have strength in the urban areas and in the heavily populated areas," she suspects. "So therefore, if you switch to an individual election, then they can just go focus on those people and rack up votes there, and it will end up helping their cause."
The political analyst notes that five states have already joined the compact -- Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, and Washington (a total of 61 electoral votes). Five more states (California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont) could join in the near future.
Read "Legal and Logistical Ramifications of the National Popular Vote Plan" [PDF]
by Tara Ross
|July 22, 2010
|Homosexuals step into immigration reform
(OneNewsNow) A pro-family activist finds it absolutely outrageous that a coalition of pro-homosexual and pro-illegal immigration lawmakers is pushing a bill that would give special immigration priorities to practicing homosexuals from other countries who want to settle in the U.S.
The coalition is a veritable "who`s-who" of the liberal left, including the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus. They are urging their colleagues to vote in favor of the "Uniting American Families Act of 2009," which is designed to allow illegal immigrants with American family members to stay in the country.
Supporters of the bill maintain that 17,000 young children are being raised by "lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender bi-nationals," meaning one member of a so-called "family" unit is an American and the other an illegal alien.
Peter LaBarbera, founder and president of Americans for Truth about Homosexuality (AFTAH), explains that homosexual activists are trying to hop on the bus of the illegal immigration movement under the rubric of immigration reform.
"This is just a really bad idea. We do not want to incentivize people practicing homosexuality to come into the United States -- it`s that simple," LaBarbera notes. "There are people waiting in line for years and years, normal families, to legally immigrate into the United States."
"The idea that we would recreate the family to now include two men or two women instead of a mom and a dad, all the while importing more practicing homosexuals into the United States, is absurd," he continues. "And this is very radical legislation."
But the AFTAH president adds that despite the efforts to pass this bill, it is a lower priority than two other homosexual agenda items: the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and lifting the ban on homosexuals in the military.
Primary sponsors of the Uniting American Families Act (H.R. 1024 / S. 424) are Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-New York) and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont).
|July 22, 2010
|California conservatives welcome chief justice resignation
Becky Yeh - OneNewsNow
After serving California for more than a decade as chief justice, Ronald M. George is finally resigning -- news that has conservatives breathing a sigh of relief.
Craig Huey, speaker and founder of the Election Forum, had planned to campaign against the re-election of the Republican judge in the upcoming general election. So he was glad to hear of George`s resignation because it has saved his organization a lot of work.
"He is a judicial activist and pulls his own views and political opinions," Huey explains. "For Christians, he was an enemy of First Amendment rights. As a judicial activist, he was an advocate of social engineering. He also did a lot of other harm."
At age 70, George announced Wednesday that he will not run for re-election in the fall, leaving his fellow justices stunned. His last day in office will be January 2, 2011.
"Why file for re-election for another 12-year term after having authored hundreds of judicial opinions and overseen major administrative reforms in the judicial system? What more do you hope to accomplish other than refining and preserving what has been achieved," George asked in his statement.
He has held the position since 1996, a period during which Huey says the chief justice left a trail of moral decay in California`s highest court.
"[George] has a legacy of destruction of moral values," the Election Forum founder laments. "When it came to religious freedom and social issues, he was liberal. Most people will remember him on how he opened the floodgate on same-sex `marriage.`"
In 2008, George ruled that California`s ban on homosexual marriage was illegal, but that decision was overturned by Proposition 8 -- a measure that banned same-sex marriage in the state. He also sought to overturn Proposition 22 in 2000, a similar measure that defended traditional marriage.
In 1997, George authored a ruling that overthrew a state law that required minors to have parental consent for an abortion. He also overturned the right of conscience in 2000, demanding doctors to perform medical procedures, despite their moral convictions.
Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), describes the news of George`s resignation as a "breath of fresh air" that has opened the door for a successor who would not be engaged in judicial activism.
"Ron George`s resignation has opened a window of opportunity for a physical slot on the state supreme court to be replaced with someone who respects the original intent of state and federal constitutions, as well as the voters of California," Dacus comments. "There are well-qualified candidates to fill the position."
Now that George is out of the picture, all eyes turn toward the November general election, which is where the justice`s successor will be nominated. According to state law, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger must nominate a candidate to replace him before September 16, and constituents will vote in favor of or against that contender in November`s general election. However, conservatives feel the governor may not choose a candidate in their favor.
"Governor Schwarzenegger has proven to be very unpredictable," Dacus notes. "He is not running for re-election. There is concern that he will not be as sensitive to the conservative base."
Joining the governor`s nominee for chief justice on the November ballot are two justices from the California Supreme Court who are vying for re-election: Carlos Moreno and Ming Chin -- both of whom voted against traditional marriage in the past.
Although the judicial candidates may not adhere to Christian values, the PJI president hopes a change is coming to California courts. "This November, we expect there to be a healthy...turnout of those voters who are opposed to judicial activism," he shares. "We are hopeful they will make a prudent decision."
Dacus adds that his organization is riding on the gubernatorial election for George`s replacement.
|July 16, 2010
|Nearly 70 Members of Congress Go to Court to Defend The National Day of Prayer
(CNSNews.com) -- Sixty-three (63) members of the House and four senators, Republicans and Democrats, have weighed in on the legal case to defend the constitutionality of the National Day of Prayer.
The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) filed an amicus (friend of the court) brief Thursday on behalf of the congressmen, members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, in the case of Freedom From Religion Foundation v. Obama, in which a Wisconsin federal district court declared unconstitutional the statute directing the president to declare the annual observance of the National Day of Prayer.
On April 15, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb in Madison, Wis., ruled in favor of the Freedom From Religion Foundation that the National Day of Prayer violated the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution`s First Amendment. The Justice Department has appealed the case to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.
"(The ACLJ is) representing Democrats, Republicans, some moderate, some conservative, senators, who are signing on because the National Day of Prayer has been part of our congressional act(ion) -- an act of the president -- since the 1950s, officially," Jordan Sekulow, attorney at the ACLJ told CNNews.com.
Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation and a named plaintiff in the case, told CNSNews.com that the support from members of Congress "shows the harm" of the National Day of Prayer law and that the government is working "hand-in-glove with Christian, right-wing and evangelical organizations."
"I think (the members` support) is very disheartening but I think that, actually, they are proving our case. I think that they are elected officials working in concert with openly fundamentalist Christian organizations that are hostile to the separation of church and state and are basically bureaucratic in nature," Gaylor said.
Gaylor said that support from Congress members supports her group’s cause.
"Organizations are using this unconstitutional act of Congress to further their own names. The fact that they are working in concert with an amicus brief is exactly the issue, exactly the problem. I think that it might make our case for us," Gaylor said.
Sekulow said the members of Congress, many of whom co-sponsored the original NDP statute, have a message for the atheist group.
"I think that the Freedom From Religion Foundation needs a wake-up call that members of Congress and groups like the ACLJ aren’t going to sit by while they find one judge in Wisconsin to go along with their position. We are going to defend the National Day of Prayer vigorously."
In the brief, the members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, which is chaired by Reps. Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.) and Randy Forbes (R-Va.), say that the plaintiffs lacked legal standing to file suit, and the congressman argue for a complete reversal of the lower court decision.
The case began before the Obama administration took office, and Sekulow said that the "unprecedented bipartisan support" for the group`s amicus brief means that members of Congress are looking to ensure that the current Justice Department will vigorously defend the National Day of Prayer.
"We want to make sure our brief makes sure that the Obama Department of Justice is defending the National Day of Prayer," Sekulow said. "They could get up there and start conceding things, still ‘defending’ (the statute), but also conceding things that make it easier for the Seventh Circuit to declare this unconstitutional."
Using a test that arose from a 1971 Supreme Court case, Lemon v. Kurtzman, Judge Crabb compared the National Day of Prayer law to the three requirements on religiously related legislation that the Lemon test provides: 1) The government`s action must have a secular legislative purpose; 2) it must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion and 3) it must not result in an "excessive government entanglement" with religion.
Gaylor`s group argues that the day constitutes "much more than an acknowledgement."
"It is the government exhorting us to pray and Congress exhorting the president to exhort us to pray. Exhortation of prayer by government is impermissible. That is the heart of our lawsuit," Gaylor said. "This is not an acknowledgement. This is setting aside an entire day for prayer and directing Americans to do so as well."
The judge concurred that the National Day of Prayer failed the test. In her opinion, Crabb wrote that the law endorsed religion, specifically Judeo-Christian religion, and went beyond an "acknowledgement" of the role religion has played in American history.
“(America`s) establishment clause values would be significantly eroded if the government could promote any longstanding religious practice of the majority under the guise of ‘acknowledgement,` " Crabb wrote in her opinion.
But Sekulow said Crabb had "stretched" the Lemon test -- and that the higher federal courts test may or may not use it going forward in the appeals process.
"It is used when the court wants to declare something unconstitutional and it is forgotten when they don’t. So, you never know," Sekulow said.
Sekulow said it was rare for a case that "challenges generic references to religion in this country" to be heard.
"The most controversial religion cases involve young people and students," Sekulow said. "But, when it involves state legislatures and the military, the Court has been very wary to declare something as unconstitutional because it references religion."
He also said the Establishment clause of the First Amendment protects the National Day of Prayer because it is not the call of or for a specific religion, it is not mandated and there are no punishments for not participating.
"That goes back to, what I think the First Amendment is about, which is an establishment of a religion in the United States. That means you don’t say that it is, for instance, the Baptist Day of Prayer, just the National Day of Prayer," Sekulow said. "Anyone or no one at all can pray in the way that they want to or not pray -- there is no punishment for not taking part in the National Day of Prayer."
Both sides have until Sept.1 to collect and file other court briefs in support of their side.
|July 16, 2010
|Police Outside Supreme Court Tell Teacher, Students `You Can`t Pray Here`
(CitizenLink) It is hardly uncommon to see teachers leading their students on educational tours of the U.S. Capitol, the White House, and the Supreme Court of the United States.
So, it was an unnerving moment when Maureen Rigo, a history teacher from Wickenburg Christian Academy in Arizona, was approached by a Capitol police officer and told that she and her cadre of students and parents had to stop quietly praying on the front steps of the Supreme Court.
After taking pictures, the group had gathered off to the side, at the top of the bottom level of steps to pray.
"We … bowed our heads and started to pray," said Rigo, "and the police officer came down, tapped me on the shoulder and said, `Ma`am, I`m not going to tell you that you can`t pray, but you can`t do it here. Please leave.`"
The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) sent a letter Thursday to Supreme Court law enforcement, urging them to cease the prohibitive practice immediately.
ADF Senior Counsel Nate Kellum said that Rigo wants to go back to the court with her students and "be able to freely pray without fear of being accosted by a police officer or being arrested."
"Christians shouldn`t be silenced for exercising their beliefs through quiet prayer on public property," said Kellum. "The last place you`d expect this kind of obvious disregard for the First Amendment would be on the grounds of the U.S. Supreme Court itself, but that`s what happened."
Their religious prayer was censored on May 5, just one day before the National Day of Prayer.
|July 16, 2010
|Step Right Up and Get Your Free Health Care...
(CNSNews) The Obama administration on Wednesday issued regulations requiring new, private health plans to cover preventive services without charge -- no co-payments, deductibles, or coinsurance. The free preventive services will include counseling to quit smoking and "counseling to address obesity and help children maintain a healthy weight."
The new rules requiring free, preventive health care will give Americans easier access to services such as blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol tests; many cancer screenings; routine vaccinations; pre-natal care; and regular wellness visits for infants and children, the Health and Human Services Department said in a news release.
First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, the vice president`s wife, joined Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in announcing what Mrs. Obama called "an unprecedented step."
“Getting access to early care and screenings will go a long way in preventing chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, and high-blood pressure,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “And good preventative care will also help tackle an issue that is particularly important to me as First Lady and as a mother -- and that is the epidemic of childhood obesity in America today.”
According to the government’s HealthCare.gov Web site, the new regulations require free screenings and counseling for obese children; special, pregnancy-tailored counseling to help pregnant women quit smoking and avoid alcohol use; screening for obesity and counseling from doctors and other health professionals to promote sustained weight loss; and tobacco cessation interventions, such as counseling or medication to help individuals quit.
Free preventive care will save lives, Dr. Jill Biden said: “One of the best ways to improve the quality of your life -- and control health care costs -- is to prevent illness in the first place. Focusing on prevention and early treatment makes more sense than trying to play catch-up with a potentially deadly disease."
Sebelius also mentioned that free preventive care will reduce health care costs by helping people stay healthy, or at least by delaying the onset of disease: “From the Recovery Act (stimulus law) to the First Lady’s `Let’s Move Campaign` to the Affordable Care Act, the Administration is laying the foundation to help transform the health care system from a system that focuses on treating the sick to a system that focuses on keeping every American healthy,” Sebelius said.
People stay away if they have to pay
According to the Health and Human Services Department, nationally, Americans use preventive services at about half the recommended rate. "Cost sharing, including deductibles, coinsurance, or copayments, has been found to reduce the likelihood that preventive services will be used," the news release said.
Under the regulations issued Wednesday, health plans beginning on or after September 23, 2010, must cover preventive services that come with "strong scientific evidence of their health benefits," and these plans may no longer charge a patient a copayment, coinsurance or deductible for these services when they are delivered by a network provider.
Specifically, the free care includes:
-- Evidence-based preventive services: The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent panel of scientific experts, rates preventive services based on the strength of the scientific evidence documenting their benefits. Preventive services such as breast and colon cancer screenings, screening for vitamin deficiencies during pregnancy, screenings for diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure, and tobacco cessation counseling will be covered under these rules.
-- Routine vaccines: Health plans will cover a set of standard vaccines recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices ranging from routine childhood immunizations to periodic tetanus shots for adults.
-- Prevention for children: Health plans will cover preventive care for children recommended under the Bright Futures guidelines, developed by the Health Resources and Services Administration with the American Academy of Pediatrics. These guidelines provide pediatricians and other health care professionals with recommendations on the services they should provide to children from birth to age 21 to keep them healthy and improve their chances of becoming healthy adults. The types of services that will be covered include regular pediatrician visits, vision and hearing screening, developmental assessments, immunizations, and screening and counseling to address obesity and help children maintain a healthy weight.
-- Prevention for women: Health plans will cover preventive care provided to women under both the Task Force recommendations and new guidelines being developed by an independent group of experts, including doctors, nurses, and scientists, which are expected to be issued by August 1, 2011.
The new health care law includes the creation of a first-ever National Prevention, Health Promotion and Public Health Council, which is supposed to develop a national strategy as well as a Prevention and Public Health Fund to invest in prevention initiatives.
This year, the council is trying to develop ways of increasing the number of primary care professionals to keep up with anticipated demand for preventive health care.
|July 16, 2010
|National Education Association celebrates `drag queen` teachers
(OneNewsNow) The National Education Association (NEA) continues to alienate more and more of its conservative constituents as the organization showed its liberal leanings at its 2010 national convention.
At this year`s meeting in New Orleans, the largest professional organization and labor union in the U.S. recognized a new caucus: the NEA Drag Queen Caucus. (See list of recognized NEA caucuses [PDF])
"They already have had the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, [and] Transgender Caucus and apparently felt that the drag queens needed their own caucus," explains Finn Laursen, executive director of Christian Educators Association International (CEAI).
"America, I think, needs to respond and to realize what the National Education Association stands for; they`re not hiding it. It`s appalling to many of our conservative Christian educators who, in their own lives, could not support this kind of thing but find that their dues are being used to support just those kinds of thing," he adds.
Laursen also tells OneNewsNow there was a movement this year to see the NEA`s pro-abortion stance changed to a more neutral position, but that effort failed. "The organization and its delegates were just unwilling to step back and take no position on abortion," he laments. "They`re going to continue their pro-abortion stance."
The CEAI executive director shares that every year following the NEA convention, he sees a spike in interest towards his organization from people looking for an alternative. He says that after this year`s event, his organization "even had to put in an extra phone line and bring in extra staff just to answer the phones."
|July 16, 2010
|Obamacare to Pay for Abortions under New $160 Million Pennsylvania Program
(LifeSiteNews) In the first known instance of direct federal funding of abortion under the new health care legislation, the Obama Administration will give Pennsylvania $160 million to set up a new "high-risk" insurance program - and has quietly approved a plan submitted by an appointee of Governor Edward Rendell (D) under which the new program will cover any abortion that is legal in Pennsylvania.
The high-risk pool program, which will be funded entirely by the federal government, is one of the new programs created by the sweeping health care legislation President Obama signed into law on March 23. The law authorizes $5 billion in federal funds for the program, which will cover as many as 400,000 people when it is implemented nationwide.
Although an earlier version of the health care legislation prevented federal funds from subsidizing abortion, that protection was not included in the bill signed into law. Although the president`s Executive Order regarding funding for abortion was touted as the solution, the White House later admitted the Order simply "reiterated" what was already in the bill. Nonetheless, the mainstream media continues to portray the Executive Order as having effectively blocked federal funds for abortion.
"This is just the first proof of the phoniness of President Obama`s assurances that federal funds would not subsidize abortion - but it will not be the last," said Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC).
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has emphasized that the high-risk pool program is a federal program, and that the states will not incur any cost. On May 11, 2010, in a letter to Democratic and Republican congressional leaders on implementation of the new law, DHHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote that "states may choose whether and how they participate in the program, which is funded entirely by the federal government."
Details of the high-risk pool plans for most states are not yet available. But on June 28, Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Joel Ario issued a press release announcing that the federal Department of Health and Human Services had approved his agency`s proposal for implementing the new program in Pennsylvania. According to the release, "The plan`s benefit package will include preventive care, physician services, diagnostic testing, hospitalization, mental health services, prescription medications and much more, with subsidized premiums of $283 a month."
Examination of the detailed Pennsylvania plan (posted here), reveals that the "much more" will include insurance coverage of any legal abortion.
The section on abortion (see page 14) asserts that "elective abortions are not covered." However, that statement proves to be a red herring, because the operative language does not define "elective." Rather, the proposal specifies that the coverage "includes only abortions and contraceptives that satisfy the requirements of" several specific statutes, the most pertinent of which is 18 Pa. C.S. § 3204, which says that an abortion is legal in Pennsylvania (consistent with Roe v. Wade) if a single physician believes that it is "necessary" based on "all factors (physical, emotional, psychological, familial and the woman`s age) relevant to the well-being of the woman."
Indeed, the cited statute provides only a single circumstance in which an abortion prior to 24 weeks is not permitted under the Pennsylvania statute: "No abortion which is sought solely because of the sex of the unborn child shall be deemed a necessary abortion."
As a result, "Under the Rendell-Sebelius plan, federal funds will subsidize coverage of abortion performed for any reason, except sex selection," said NRLC`s Johnson. "The Pennsylvania proposal conspicuously lacks language that would prevent funding of abortions performed as a method of birth control or for any other reason, except sex selection - and the Obama Administration has now approved this."
Responding to NRLC`s discovery, Tom McClusky, Family Research Council Action`s Senior Vice President, said: "Never have we so regretted being right on an issue, but this $160 million for an abortion insurance program in Pennsylvania validates the arguments FRC Action made throughout the health care debate: Taxpayer dollars will fund abortions. For our efforts to remove the bill`s abortion funding, we were called `deceivers` by President Obama and `liars` by his allies."
"Now we know who the true deceivers and liars really are."
|July 16, 2010
|American Bar Association May Adopt Same-Sex Marriage Measure
(CitizenLink) The American Bar Association (ABA) – a 400,000-member legal association – signaled today that it will offer a measure next month that will urge state, territorial and tribal governments to support same-sex marriage.
No formal opposition to the same-sex marriage measure has been announced.
The ABA House of Delegates – the 560-member official policy-making body for the association – will meet in San Francisco Aug. 5-10 to vote on this measure along with 32 others.
The association`s participation in controversial issues is not new; in fact, it has increased considerably in the past few years.
The influential body openly opposed attempts made by President Bush and pro-marriage organizations to pass the Federal Marriage Amendment that defines marriage as being between one man and one woman.
The ABA Board of Governors approved the creation of the Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities (IR&R) and the Committee on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) in 2007. Since then, these entities have actively promoted the redefining of family law, the repealing state and federal marriage protections and the promotion of policies that stifle free speech and religious freedoms.
Two other noteworthy committees created within the ABA to address and promote same-sex-related issues are:
- The Section on Family Law created the Committee on Alternative Families, which urges the repeal of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act;
- The Section of Labor and Employment Law, which backs the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act
The new measure doesn`t surprise Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute.
"People have the false impression that the American Bar Association is all about the law and maintaining the integrity of the law and the judicial system," he said. "Unfortunately, that`s really not the case."
The ABA`s mission is "to serve equally our members, our profession and the public by defending liberty and delivering justice, as the national representative of the legal profession."
The ABA`s credibility has suffered in recent years, said Dacus. "If they continue to go support these extreme positions, they are going to continue to lose members."
|July 16, 2010
|UC online degree proposal rattles academics
(SF Gate) Taking online college courses is, to many, like eating at McDonald`s: convenient, fast and filling. You may not get filet mignon, but afterward you`re just as full.
Now the University of California wants to jump into online education for undergraduates, hoping to become the nation`s first top-tier research institution to offer a bachelor`s degree over the Internet comparable in quality to its prestigious campus program.
"We want to do a highly selective, fully online, credit-bearing program on a large scale - and that has not been done," said UC Berkeley law school Dean Christopher Edley, who is leading the effort.
But a number of skeptical faculty members and graduate student instructors fear that a cyber UC would deflate the university`s five-star education into a fast-food equivalent, cheapening the brand. Similar complaints at the University of Illinois helped bring down that school`s ambitious Global Campus program last fall after just two years.
UC officials say theirs will be different.
On Wednesday in San Francisco, UC`s governing Board of Regents will hear about a pilot program of 25 to 40 courses to be developed after UC raises $6 million from private donors. The short-term goal is to take pressure off heavily enrolled general education classes like writing and math, Edley said.
More for less
Long term, the idea is to expand access to the university while saving money. Tuition for online and traditional courses would be the same. But with students able to take courses in their living rooms, the university envisions spending less on their education while increasing the number of tuition-paying students - helpful as state financial support drops.
Savings estimates are "encouraging" but too preliminary to disclose, Edley said, noting that even if the pilot program succeeds, cyber UC is still several years away.
Evidence nationwide suggests students could be warm to the idea of online learning.
The number of college students taking online courses nearly tripled between 2002 and 2008, according to the Sloan Consortium, a nonprofit that encourages online education. Nearly 5 million students took at least one online course in 2008, up from 1.6 million in 2002, Sloan found.
UC wouldn`t be the first university to offer undergraduate degrees online. Among the most successful is the University of Massachusetts` "UMassOnline," which includes graduate degrees. It reported revenue growth of 20 percent since last year, to $56 million, and 14 percent enrollment growth, to 45,815 students.
Cal State University East Bay also offers four online bachelor degrees: in business administration, human development, tourism and recreation.
The Stanford example
But UC says it`s looking for something qualitatively different, possibly like Stanford University`s high-end - and cyber - graduate engineering degree.
"Within 30 minutes of a class being taught at Stanford, we`re able to offer it around the world," said Andy DiPaolo, senior associate dean at the School of Engineering. "We think in many ways it`s comparable (in quality). It`s not live instruction. We`ve tried not to lock students into a specific time."
Students in Stanford`s online manufacturing class, for example, live in different time zones yet team up online to design, say, a car lock, DiPaolo said.
"This is not a second-tier program," he said. "We have identical admissions, identical requirements" for online and traditional degrees.
But some UC faculty and graduate student instructors believe removing face-to-face interaction by definition diminishes quality.
In May, student instructors delivered a less-than-subtle warning to the regents.
"We find Dean Edley`s cyber campus to be just the beginning of a frightening trajectory that will undoubtedly end in the complete implosion of public higher education" in California, Berkeley doctoral student Shane Boyle testified.
Using a slightly more sober tone, the Berkeley Faculty Association expressed similar concerns in a May report.
"The danger is not only degraded education, but centralized academic policy that undermines faculty control of academic standards and curriculum," it said. "It is also likely that the whole thing will be a boondoggle."
Furthermore, the report said, online instruction is "inappropriate for many subjects and types of learning."
Not inappropriate, countered Edley, but challenging. He acknowledged that figuring out how to put an excellent lab science course online remains "one of the mysteries."
But he agreed with DiPaolo of Stanford that faculty support is key.
Disapproval helped kill the University of Illinois` online program last year, and no wonder: Not only were outsiders hired to teach courses developed by faculty, but courses rejected by faculty were offered online.
"Setting up something the faculty doesn`t believe in would be nuts," Edley said. And yet, taking UC online needs only a "coalition of the willing," he said, "not universal support."
|July 16, 2010
|Poll: 75 Percent of Americans Blame State Budget Problems on Politicians’ Unwillingness to Cut Spending
(CNSNEWS.com) -- A recent Rasmussen poll shows that 75 percent of Americans place responsibility for state budget problems on politicians’ unwillingness to cut government spending and not on taxpayers’ unwillingness to pay more in taxes.
In fact, only 13 percent of the adults surveyed blamed the unwillingness of Americans to pay more in taxes as the cause of state budget woes. Another 12 percent were undecided about the issue.
These data come as 80 percent of those polled said their state is facing a budget crisis.
Rasmussen noted that this latest poll reinforces one from February, which showed that 83 percent of Americans “blamed the federal budget deficit on politicians’ unwillingness to cut spending,” and a May 2009 poll, in which 77 percent said “politicians’ unwillingness to cut spending is the bigger problem in America today.”
According to Rasmussen’s analysis, the “majority of adults of all political affiliations blame politicians’ lack of spending cuts for state budget problems. But Democrats are slightly more inclined to criticize taxpayers for their unwillingness to pay more.”
The survey of 1,000 adults was conducted on July 5-6, 2010 and has a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points.
|July 16, 2010
|Grade 1 Student to Learn about Gay Relationships in Montana Sex-Ed Program
(LifeSiteNews) A recently unveiled proposal to teach comprehensive sex education in grades K through 12 in Helena, Montana, public schools is attracting considerable controversy, as it comes up for debate Tuesday evening.
An outline of the proposed program, which can be found online, shows that students in grade one would be taught that “human beings can love people of the same gender.” In grade two they would learn that “making fun of people by calling them gay (e.g., ‘homo,’ ‘fag,’ ‘queer’) is disrespectful & hurtful.”
In grade 5, when students are typically 10 or 11 years old, they will be taught that sex can involve “vaginal, oral, or anal penetration.” They will also be taught about “sexual orientation.” In grade 6 they will be taught that sex can also involve “using the penis, fingers, tongue or objects.”
And in grade 8 students will be taught that the Supreme Court has found that “people have the right to make personal decisions concerning sexuality & reproductive health matters, such as abortion, sterilization, and contraception.”
Jeff Laszloffy of the Montana Family Foundation has called the program “absolutely insane.”
“This is not education,” he said. “This has crossed the line and has gone from education to indoctrination and that’s the problem parents have.”
Jim Sedlak, the vice president of American Life League, said that, “Parents in Helena are right to be upset about these proposed sex courses in their schools."
“Sex education is a value-laden subject, and information must be conveyed to each child at a level consistent with his or her mental maturity,” he said.
"The children who are unfortunate enough to be thrust into this kind of curriculum will suffer in countless ways, both academically and socially.”
Tuesday’s meeting where the proposal will be debated is open to the public.
|July 16, 2010
|86 Percent of Afghan Army Recruits Cannot Read and Write, Complicating U.S. Efforts to Train Self-Sufficient Security Force
(CNSNews.com) – Eighty-six percent of Afghan military recruits cannot read and write, according to the U.S. Defense Department.
Simple literacy, it turns out, is one of the “biggest” obstacles to training the Afghan National Security Forces (ANF), according to Col. John Ferrari, deputy commander for the NATO Training Mission and Combined Security Transitions Command-Afghanistan.
“Probably one of the biggest hurdles we have to overcome is literacy,” said Col. Ferrari on July 8 during a Department of Defense (DOD) press briefing about growing and sustaining the ANF.
At the briefing, a reporter asked Ferrari, “What is one of the biggest hurdles you have to deal with?”
He said, “Remember Afghanistan has been at war for 30 years, and neither the Soviets who were here before the Taliban nor the Taliban put people through school. So education was not prized. As a matter of fact, the Taliban shut down the schools.”
The result, he said, is that the “generation” that the NATO training mission is “trying to bring into the security forces” does not possess basic literacy skills.
“If you’re 18, 19, 20, 25, or 30years old – those are the ages we want you in the security forces – you probably don’t have any formal education,” said the colonel.
According to a July 4 article published by the Defense Department’s American Forces Press Service, “Only 14 percent of Afghan recruits are literate.”
In testifying before the Senate Armed Forces Committee on Sept. 15, 2009, Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen recognized that the high illiteracy rate among members of the ANF complicates their training.
Training “is a huge challenge because of the literacy rate with the Afghan soldiers and police,” he told the committee. “It`s at the single digit level, sort of nine or 10 percent.”
Ferrari also indicated that the illiteracy rate will be a “challenge” as Afghan forces are trained for positions in the fields of logistics, communications, and engineering.
Not possessing basic reading and writing skills is “the biggest challenge, and that will continue to be a challenge especially as we’re now going to start building those enablers like logistics, communications, engineers,” he said at last week’s press briefing.
“It’s hard to teach somebody logistics and to do inventory control, if they don’t know how to read,” he said.
“If you want to be a policeman and you know they can’t even write down a license plate because they don’t know what numbers are – and so we have to overcome that challenge,” added Ferrari.
The colonel went on to explain that positions in logistics, communications, and engineering are essential for the ANF to be able “to sustain themselves down the road as we transition the lead to them.”
President Barack Obama has said that dependent upon conditions on the ground, U.S. troops will start to drawdown in July 2011, a date expected to mark the beginning of a responsible transition of tasks to the Afghan government and its security forces.
Ferrari indicated that, as of now, the training mission is “several months” ahead of schedule in reaching the goal of 305,000 soldiers and policemen by October 2011.
Currently, the Afghanistan army (130,000) and national police force (105,000) membership numbers total 235,000.
In regards to dealing with the literacy problem, Ferrari further said, “Back in November we started a literacy program for soldiers and police that are in during basic training.”
He explained that the program was still rudimentary and added, “we haven’t rolled it out to every training site yet.”
The colonel said the purpose of the program “is to bring an Afghan soldier and police up to a third-grade level, which is considered kind of basic literacy – you can write your name, you can write and read numbers. You can do some basic reading.”
According to the DOD, “Col. Ferrari has direct oversight of the $11.6 billion budget [for fiscal year 2011] to grow and sustain the Afghan National Security Forces.”
During the briefing, Ferrari said the taxpayer funds allotted for the ANF are “about $10 billion a year.”
The DOD explained that Ferrari “is personally responsible for dedicating resources to the Afghan National Police and Afghan National Army to fight the counter-insurgency while building the Afghan economy. Some of these resources include developing training and housing areas and supply systems such as weapons, ammunition, vehicles, fuel and food.”
The Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook shows that the Afghan population’s literacy rate stands at 28.1 percent. There is a large gap between the male rate at 43.1 percent and female rate at 12.6 percent.
|July 16, 2010
|Financial Reform Bill Passed by House Would Create `Office of Minority and Women Inclusion` in Every U.S. Financial Regulatory Agency
(CNSNews.com) – The financial regulations package recently passed by the House of Representatives would create a new diversity overseer at each of the major federal financial regulatory agencies, including the new ones created by the legislation itself.
This new office, called the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion, would take over from any existing diversity or civil rights office already working at the agencies in question.
It would also be responsible for making sure that each of the major federal financial regulators is hiring enough minorities and women, and contracting with enough minority-owned and women-owned businesses.
However, each individual diversity czar is responsible for defining exactly how many minorities, women, and minority- and women-owned businesses are satisfactory.
“[E]ach agency shall establish an Office of Minority and Women Inclusion that shall be responsible for all matters of the agency relating to diversity in management, employment, and business activities,” the legislation says. (The bill passed in the House on June 30; a Senate vote could occur as early as next week.)
In fact, each new diversity chief will be responsible for developing quota-like guidelines proscribing the ethnic and gender makeup of each regulator’s workforce, including upper management.
“Each Director shall develop standards for- (A) equal employment opportunity and the racial, ethnic, and gender diversity of the work-force and senior management of the agency,” it states.
These diversity offices will also be responsible for “assessing the diversity policies and practices of entities regulated by the agency.”
This means that in addition to monitoring every bank in the country, checking every financial institution in America to make sure they are not doing anything systemically risky, and trying to prevent another financial collapse, every federal financial regulator will also be counting the number of minority and female employees at banks and investment firms, big and small.
The proposed law would also mandate that federal financial regulators hire from certain types of minority- or women-only colleges and universities, advertise in minority- and women-focused publications, and partner with inner-city schools and other minority-focused organizations to hire or mentor more minorities and women.
The diversity offices will also be charged with enforcing the newly written diversity guidelines for each private sector company the regulator contracts with, meaning that they will be checking to ensure that each of the agency’s private contractors is following the agency’s diversity guidelines.
“The Director of each Office shall develop and implement standards and procedures to ensure, to the maximum extent possible, the fair inclusion and utilization of minorities, women, and minority-owned and women-owned businesses in all business and activities of the agency at all levels, including in procurement, insurance, and all types of contracts,” the bill states.
This provision is significant because some of the same federal regulators who must establish these diversity offices – Treasury and Federal Reserve – make heavy use of the private sector on a regular basis. They have also relied heavily on the private financial sector in their responses to the financial crisis.
For example, the Fed’s Term Asset-Backed Lending Facility (TALF) program, which backstopped the securitization market during the height of the financial crisis, was actually run with the help of Bank of New York Mellon, an institution regulated by the New York Fed.
Financial Reform Bill Passed by House Would Create `Office of Minority and Women Inclusion` in Every U.S. Financial Regulatory Agency
The TALF program, along with other Fed lending programs, had to maintain a strict level of secrecy to protect the banks using the program from irrational runs on their businesses. Because the securitization market had essentially collapsed, TALF’s customers had to remain anonymous if the government was to avoid setting an arbitrary – rather than market – price for securitized debt.
Had the markets learned which financial institutions were using Fed lending programs like TALF, they would have known which securities the Fed was taking as collateral for a particular loan amount. With such information in the public domain, the government would have essentially been fixing the price of asset-backed securities, rather than letting supply and demand set the price in the normal way.
The new diversity office at the Fed – and other financial regulators – apparently would be empowered to dig into such sensitive relationships under the guise of diversity enforcement, possibly endangering the programs and hamstringing their effectiveness.
If one of the new diversity czars thinks a financial firm is not being diverse enough, he potentially could recommend that the regulator terminate the contract(s) the regulator has with that firm.
|July 16, 2010
|Alzheimer`s advances show need for better drugs
(OneNewsNow) Scientists are reporting advances in detecting and predicting Alzheimer`s disease at a conference in Honolulu this week, plus more proof that getting enough exercise and vitamin D may lower your risk.
There are better brain scans to spot Alzheimer`s disease. More genes that affect risk. Blood and spinal fluid tests that may help tell who will develop the mind-robbing illness and when.
But what is needed most, a treatment that does more than just ease symptoms, is not at hand.
"We don`t have anything that slows or stops the course," said William Thies, the Alzheimer`s Association scientific director. "We`re really in a silent window right now" with new drugs, he said.
Several promising ones flopped in late-stage tests, most recently, Pfizer Inc.`s Dimebon. Results on several others won`t be ready until next year.
Still, there is some progress against Alzheimer`s, a dementia that afflicts more than 5 million Americans and more than 26 million people worldwide. Highlights of the research being reported this week:
Prevention. Moderate to heavy exercisers had half the risk of developing dementia compared with less active people, researchers from the long-running Framingham Heart Study reported Sunday. Earlier studies also found exercise helps.
"That seems to be as good as anything" for preventing dementia, said Dr. Richard Mayeux, a Columbia University neurologist and conference leader.
Another big government-funded study found that vitamin D deficiency can raise the risk of mental impairment up to fourfold. This doesn`t mean taking supplements is a good idea, doctors warn. A large study is testing whether that is safe and helps prevent a variety of diseases.
Novel treatments. Tests of an insulin nose spray to improve cognition gave encouraging results, but "it`s still a pilot trial" and larger studies are needed to see if this works and is safe, said Laurie Ryan. She oversees Alzheimer`s study grants for the National Institute on Aging, which funded the work.
It`s based on the theory that Alzheimer`s and diabetes are related. Diabetics seem to have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer`s, and Alzheimer`s patients tend to have insulin resistance, Ryan said. Giving insulin as a nose spray sends it straight to the brain without affecting blood-sugar levels, she explained.
"If it works, it would certainly be an easy thing to administer. It`s not like taking a shot each day," and likely would be cheap, she said.
_Improved detection. Many types of imaging can document dementia, which usually is diagnosed through cognition tests. For several years, scientists have used one such method _ a radioactive dye and PET scans _ to see the sticky brain plaque that is a key feature of Alzheimer`s. But the dye is tough to use, and at least four companies are developing better ones.
Philadelphia-based Avid Radiopharmaceuticals Inc. reports success with one such dye, and says it may offer an early warning for those on their way to developing Alzheimer`s. The claim has led to some media buzz.
"I don`t want to downgrade _ it`s a significant accomplishment," Thies said, but it mostly improves on the existing test.
A PET scan costs $3,000 to $5,000 plus whatever Avid would charge for the dye, if it wins federal approval. It may require special training to give the test and interpret it, so it likely will remain mostly a research tool to pick the right patients for clinical trials and monitor a drug`s effects, Thies said.
Mayeux, the Alzheimer`s conference leader, agreed.
"It`s not going to be helpful in diagnosis," because a lot of people without Alzheimer`s have plaque that can be seen on scans, he said. These people may go on to develop Alzheimer`s someday, but more study would have to establish that for it to become a definitive diagnostic test, rather than a tool to monitor plaque levels in research, he said.
Until there are better treatments, there will be little demand for tests that show you have or are destined to get the disease, several experts said. There`s little testing now for the first gene strongly tied to Alzheimer`s risk, ApoE-4.
"It`s kind of like finding high cholesterol" but not having drugs that can lower it, said Dr. Mark Sager, director of the Wisconsin Alzheimer`s Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He was involved in a study of a different Alzheimer`s-linked gene that will be reported this week.
Scientists also don`t know if the plaque is a cause, an effect, or just a sign of Alzheimer`s. Two experimental drugs seemed to clear plaque but did not lead to clinical improvement.
"We`ve still got a long way to go," Sager said.
|July 16, 2010
|`Jesus` Prayer Pastor Demands Apology from N.C. Lawmakers
(Christian Post) A North Carolina pastor is demanding an apology from lawmakers in his state after he was dismissed from his chaplain duties for praying in Jesus’ name.
The legal representative of Pastor Ron Baity sent a letter this past week to North Carolina House of Representative Speaker Joe Hackney and the House clerk asking that his client receive an apology letter and another invitation to offer an uncensored invocation at the House.
Baity was scheduled to offer the opening prayer at the House for the entire week of May 31. But after he gave the first prayer in the name of Jesus he was relieved from his duties for the rest of the week.
“I got fired,” said Baity, pastor of Berean Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, to Fox News Radio.
According to Baity, the House clerk was shown the transcript of his prayer and her eyes went to the bottom of the page to the word Jesus. He recalled the clerk telling him, “We would prefer that you not use the name Jesus. We have some people here that can be offended.”
“I was made to feel like a second class North Carolinian when I was told that my services would no longer be needed if I could not offer the opening prayer in the manner prescribed by the House of Representatives, rather than in the manner my Biblical faith requires,” Baity said.
“It appears that only those religious leaders willing to pray a government-prescribed prayer will be given the honor of participating in this legislative prayer exercise in the future.”
Speaker Joe Hackney and House Republican Leader Paul Stam have released a joint statement pledging to review guidelines on opening prayers, but did not issue an apology.
Supporters of the current North Carolina House prayer rule argue there is no place for sectarian prayers in a legislature prayer. The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina contended that someone offering a prayer at a legislative session is acting as a “government mouthpiece” and not as a private citizen. The government must stay neutral on matters of religion so the one offering the prayer should also use generic terms.
But Pastor Ron Baity’s legal representative, David Gibbs of the Christian Law Association, argues that Baity has a right to pray in Jesus name as long as he does not proselytize or speak negatively about another faith.
“The First Amendment promises all Americans the free exercise of their religion, which includes the right to pray as their faith requires, even when they are invited to open state legislative sessions with prayer,” remarked Gibbs.
“There is no authority in American history, tradition or Supreme Court precedent that requires a legislature to censor a private citizen’s prayers in order to participate in a benefit or privilege that is offered to other citizens of the state,” he added.
In the July 7 letter, Gibbs threatened to advise Baity to seek other legal options if the House does not honor their requests within ten days.
“We trust that the North Carolina House of Representatives will realize its mistake and will offer Pastor Baity another opportunity to pray without requiring him to use a prayer that is mandated by the government,” he added.
|July 16, 2010
|Survey: 7 in 10 Christian Households Eliminating, Avoiding Debt
(Christian Post) While American consumers continue to worry about jobs and paying the bills, 7 in 10 Christian households reported in a recently published survey that they actively pay off their credit cards in full every month and nearly 8 of 10 Christian households said they continue to give ten percent or more of their income to local churches and ministries.
“It’s a sign that a growing number of people are learning to actively eliminate and avoid debt,” remarked Brian Kluth with Maximum Generosity, which conducted the second annual “View from the Pew” survey in cooperation with Christianity Today International.
The survey results, to be announced Monday, are “hopeful signs” for Christian households, say Maximum Generosity and Christianity Today International, which earlier this year revealed the results of the second annual “State of the Plate” survey.
If reflective of the general trend, the results would also be an encouragement to churches across the country – nearly 40 percent of which revealed in the earlier survey that they had experienced a decline in giving and offerings in 2009.
After the October 2008 stock market drop, the "State of the Plate" survey found that 29 percent of churches had reportedly experienced a decline in giving and last year the number climbed up to 38 percent of churches.
“Multiple research projects last year documented the sharp decline in church giving and our research this year shows things have only gotten worse for a growing number of churches,” Kluth had reported back in March.
Maximum Generosity and Christianity Today International were more upbeat after seeing the results of its latest “View from the Pew” survey, however, noting the relationship between the economic state of Christian households and that of giving trends reported by church leaders
After interviewing 1,029 Christian households across America in the first half of 2010, Maximum Generosity and Christianity Today International found through their latest survey that only 23 percent had seen their family’s income increase from the previous 12 months. Meanwhile, 44 percent of households saw their income stay the same and 33 percent saw their income go down.
Still, 78 percent of those surveyed said they continue to give 10 percent or more of their income to local churches and ministries.
When asked when they learned this practice, 60 percent said it was before age 30.
“This shows tithing and generosity start young and become a lifelong practice,” Kluth said.
Kluth launched the “State of the Plate” research project in 2008. This year, Christianity Today International partnered with Kluth to launch the second annual “State of the Plate” project, which surveyed more than 1,000 church leaders.
The research aims to capture “true benchmarks, statistics, and trend lines that can help church leaders know how to understand changing economic realities that are different from the past, and help church leaders find proven solutions as they face growing financial challenges.”
|July 16, 2010
|House-Passed Financial Overhaul Allows for GM-Style Bailouts of Big Banks
(CNSNews.com) The House-passed financial regulation bill would allow the government to save the profitable assets of a failing bank and spin them off into a new company – a power that mirrors the government’s action in saving General Motors and Chrysler.
The provision is part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which passed the House on June 29. The Senate has yet to take action on the bill, which is a product of a House Senate conference committee.
The bill allows the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), after a determination by the Treasury secretary and the president, to seize a failing financial institution whose failure the government determines may harm the broader financial system.
Once the FDIC seizes a company, it can – if it chooses – divide the company’s assets into profitable and unprofitable classes. Both classes of assets can be spun off into what the law calls a “bridge financial company.”
This bridge corporation can then purchase, using federal financing, any of the assets of the failed financial firm.
“Upon the creation of a bridge financial company…such bridge financial company may…assume such liabilities (including liabilities associated with any trust or custody business, but excluding any liabilities that count as regulatory capital) of such covered [failed] financial company…purchase such assets…[and] perform any other temporary function which the Corporation may, in its discretion, prescribe,” the bill states.
The bridge financial company would then essentially become a federally controlled clone of the failed financial firm with the exception that the bridge company would have access to any funds the FDIC determines it needs to continue carrying out the failed firm’s business, while the FDIC settles the debts of the failed firm.
“[T]he Corporation may provide for a bridge financial company to succeed to and assume any rights, powers, authorities, or privileges of the covered financial company with respect to which the bridge financial company was established and, upon such determination by the Corporation, the bridge financial company shall immediately and by operation of law succeed to and assume such rights, powers, authorities, and privileges,” the bill stated.
Once this bridge company has been established, it can continue doing business as a ward of the FDIC for a period of two years, at which time the FDIC must either extend the bridge company’s charter, privatize it, or terminate it entirely.
If the government decides to privatize the bridge corporation, it can either merge or consolidate it with another company, sell 80 percent or more of the bridge company’s stock to another corporation, or sell or transfer all of the bridge company’s liabilities and assets to another company.
“The status of any bridge financial company as such shall terminate upon the earliest of – the date of the merger or consolidation of the bridge financial company with a company that is not a bridge financial company…the sale of a majority of the capital stock of the bridge financial company…the sale of 80 percent, or more, of the capital stock of the bridge financial company to a person other than the Corporation [FDIC]… the acquisition of all or substantially all of the assets of the bridge financial company,” the bill stated.
This last step is much the same process used by the Obama administration to deal with the failures of General Motors (GM) and Chrysler in 2009.
In this instance, the FDIC would replace the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry in dealing with the failed firms and would use its power to keep failed financial firms out of bankruptcy court, as it does with banks whose deposits it insures.
In the case of GM, the auto task force negotiated a restructuring of the company, creating a new corporation – called New GM – to purchase most of the assets of the failed GM, so that the company could continue doing business without the burdens of its failed businesses or un-payable debt.
“The newly organized GM will purchase substantially all of the assets of the old GM needed to implement its business plan out of a chapter 11 in exchange for the U.S. Government relinquishing the majority of its loans to GM,” the White House explained in a press release May 31, 2009.
A similar situation was negotiated by the White House to handle the Chrysler bankruptcy. Under that scenario, a new company – Chrysler Group LLC – was created that bought the operations of the failed Chrysler LLC, with financing from the federal government and Italian automaker Fiat.
Like New GM and Chrysler Group LLC, once the government transfers the bridge company’s stock to another company or individual, the bridge financial company will become a new, private entity and will cease to be a ward of the government.
“[T]he Corporation may amend the charter of the bridge financial company to reflect the termination of the status of the bridge financial company as such, whereupon the company shall have all of the rights, powers, and privileges under its constituent documents and applicable Federal or State law,” the law reads.
“[T]he Corporation may take such steps as may be necessary or convenient to reincorporate the bridge financial company under the laws of a State and…such State-chartered corporation shall be deemed to succeed by operation of law to such rights, titles, powers, and interests of the bridge financial company,” it says.
|July 16, 2010
|Challenged! Court using `feelings` as case decider
(WorldNetDaily) A district judge`s decision that the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional is being challenged on the argument, submitted in friend-of-the-court briefs to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, that never before has any court decided that "hurt feelings" are grounds for making a claim.
"The district court in this case embraced an entirely novel – and improper – basis for standing: hurt feelings," said the brief submitted by the American Center for Law and Justice. "Never has the Supreme Court endorsed anything like such a wide-open concept of access to federal adjudication.
"Indeed, to the extent the Supreme Court has addressed the issue at all, it has firmly repudiated such limitless theories of Article III standing," the brief continued.
The arguments from the ACLJ came in an appeal pending before the 7th Circuit of a decision by U.S. District Judge Barbara B. Crabb of Wisconsin, who decided the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional.
Crabb`s decision came in a case filed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based atheist and agnostic group that challenged the constitutionality of a 1988 federal law.
The law gives the president the authority to designate the first Thursday in May as a National Day of Prayer.
Crabb, appointed to the court in 1979 by President Carter, determined the statute violates the First Amendment`s establishment clause, which says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion."
In her opinion, Crabb wrote that in her view of case law, "government involvement in prayer may be consistent with the establishment clause when the government`s conduct serves a significant secular purpose and is not a `call for religious action on the part of citizens.`"
But she wrote that the National Day of Prayer law "cannot meet that test."
"It goes beyond mere `acknowledgment` of religion," Crabb wrote, "because its sole purpose is to encourage all citizens to engage in prayer, an inherently religious exercise that serves no secular function in this context. In this instance, the government has taken sides on a matter that must be left to individual conscience."
The case was appealed by the government, since the U.S. was a defendant in the case, and a multitude of civil-rights organizations now have submitted friend-of-the-court briefs in the case.
According to a brief filed by the Alliance Defense Fund, "presidential prayer proclamations enjoy the same rich history in this country as legislative prayers. Both practices were common occurrences at the time the Constitution was drafted and ratified. Both practices have continued till today. Neither practice actually forces Americans to participate in a religious practice or believe in a certain way.
"They are simply tolerable acknowledgements of beliefs and practices widely held by Americans," the documents explain.
The dispute was over the declaration of a National Day of Prayer that has been exercised for decades. It was codified first by Congress in 1952.
"Public officials should be able to participate in public prayer activities just as America`s founders did, and a recent federal judge`s ruling should not prevent America`s cities from lawfully observing the National Day of Prayer," said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Joel Oster. "We are confident that the 7th Circuit will uphold the federal statute setting a day for the National Day of Prayer."
Crabb`s decision came April 15. She stayed her ruling until appeals could be resolved, however.
The ADF said the tradition of designating an official day of prayer began with the Continental Congress in 1775, after which George Washington issued a National Day of Thanksgiving Proclamation. Ever since, American presidents have made similar proclamations and "appeals to the Almighty."
ADF attorneys note that proclamations and appeals of state and local officials are no different. Historically, including 2010, all 50 governors, along with U.S. presidents, have issued proclamations in honor of the National Day of Prayer.
The ACLJ`s brief was filed on behalf of dozens of members of Congress.
"This is a case where the law and history are very clear in recognizing the fact that a day set aside to pray for our country is not only a time-honored tradition, but one that is consistent with the First Amendment," said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the ACLJ. "Many members of Congress understand that the National Day of Prayer is a constitutional reflection of our history – our heritage. This tradition is supported by Supreme Court precedent and numerous acts of Congress. The 7th Circuit has an important opportunity to correct this badly flawed lower-court decision. We`re hopeful the appeals court will reverse the federal district court and protect a tradition that`s been part of our nation for centuries."
The Freedom From Religion organization contends the statute violates the First Amendment because it endorses prayer and encourages citizens to engage in the practice. The White House has argued the statute is simply an "acknowledgment of the role of religion in American life" and is indistinguishable from government practices courts have upheld.
The ACLJ warned the use of "feelings" to determine a court-case outcome would produce results that would be alarming.
"Allowing `hurt feelings` to suffice would render irrelevant the entire body of taxpayer standing. In that area of case law, the Supreme Court has recognized a narrow exception to the usual rule ... that federal and state taxpayers cannot sue to challenge the use of tax money," the brief said. "That exception … allows taxpayers to sue only to challenge specific, legislatively authorized expenditures of funds, in alleged violations of the Establishment Clause.
"`Hurt feelings` standing would cast that limit to the wind," the brief said, arguing that the case should have been dismissed without even a hearing.
"Here, plaintiffs have sued over something they merely heard about."
"`Hurt feelings` standing, while a boon for `cause mongers,` … is a bad idea whose time has not come. This court should vacate the district court`s judgment and remand for dismissal for lack of standing," the brief argues.
Further, the history of the recognition day suggests it is "identified with our history and government."
And the literal reading of the district court`s opinion could have ramifications across the country.
"Under the `endorsement` guillotine, according to the district court`s logic, might come the numerous religious inscriptions and works of art in the Capitol building. In the rotunda of the Capitol building, for example, are paintings with religious themes such as `The Apotheosis of Washington,` depicting the ascent of George Washington into heaven," the ACLJ said.
"The First Amendment Religion Clauses, which themselves single out religion for favorable treatment, simply do not require such a `relentless extirpation` of all religious expression and reference from public life," the brief said.
|July 16, 2010
|Street Preachers at Arab Fest to Face Court
(Christian Post) Four Christians who were arrested at a large Arab festival in Michigan will have their arraignment hearing on Monday.
Dr. Nabeel Qureshi, a medical doctor, and fellow street preachers Negeen Mayel, Paul Rezkalla, and David Wood were arrested on charges of breach of the peace. Mayel, an 18-year-old woman who emigrated from Afghanistan and who recently converted to Christianity, is also charged with failure to obey police orders. She was videotaping Qureshi’s discussion with Muslims when police seized her camera.
“It’s evident that the Dearborn Police department was more interested in placating Muslims than obeying our Constitution,” said Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, which is representing the four street preachers. “These Christians were exercising their Constitutional rights to free speech and the free exercise of religion, but apparently in a city where the Muslim population seems to dominate the political apparatus, sharia law trumps our Constitution.”
Michigan has been described as the Islamic capital of the United States and has one of the largest Arab populations outside of the Middle East. Nearly 30,000 out of Dearborn, Michigan’s 98,000 inhabitants are estimated to be Arab.
The four Christians, three of them converts from Islam, were arrested and jailed on June 18 by the Dearborn, Mich., police when they attended the Annual Arab International Festival and shared the Gospel to those who expressed interest. Qureshi did most of the talking with Muslims at the festival while the other three were mostly involved with videotaping the conversations.
After their arrest, the street preachers requested the police to view their video at the scene of the arrest, which they say exonerates them from any charges.
“We made sure that the only people we talked to were people who first approached us. And this was to limit accusations of instigation and disruption,” Qureshi said after the incident. “We knew people have a tendency to accuse us of being disruptive, of inciting, and instigating. So we wanted to make sure we did absolutely nothing of the sort.”
The preachers are associated with Acts 17 Apologetics Ministries, a ministry led by a former Muslim and a former atheist – Qureshi and Wood, respectively.
|July 09, 2010
|California school district adopts Bible course
OneNewsNow (Becky Yeh) A California school district has decided in a 5-0 vote to adopt a Bible course that will be available to students in the upcoming school year.
Beginning this fall, high school seniors of the Chino Valley School District will have the chance to enroll in a new course called "Bible as/in Literature and History."
Envisioned by the board`s Vice President James Na, the class will focus on giving students an understanding of the Bible`s influence in history, literature, religion and politics. It will offer a survey of the Bible, beginning with the historical context of the Old Testament, and then will focus on the New Testament later in the semester. It will also provide students with a historical knowledge of the Middle East.
Students may take the course as an elective, fulfilling the general requirement for admission into California State University and the University of California.
Fred Youngblood, president of the Board of Education, believes the course will better equip students in life, and he hopes other school districts will offer a similar class.
"It is my belief that better understanding the Bible will help all students with their decision-making process," he explains.
The class stems from parents in the district who showed an interest in having the Bible taught in the public school system. The committee considered the comments and began to research how the district could meet the request.
The Chino Valley Board of Education must make sure that the course will adhere to the state education code and to California state laws, so it will remain neutral in its religious teachings and will portray the Bible as a monumental piece of literature.
Youngblood is in the process of securing a textbook that will provide the basis of the course`s curriculum.
"The preface of the textbook...states, `The Bible has been and still is one of the most influential books ever published. Its influence is seen in literature, art, music, culture, public policy and public debate,`" the board president reports.
He believes the Bible will make a helpful impact in the lives of the students.
"The Bible has been a part of my life ever since I could remember. It has had a very positive influence on me and my family," Youngblood shares. "It is my hope that our students will have a better understanding of the impact the Bible has had on all that surrounds us."
|July 09, 2010
|Bill to Restrict Speech of Pro-Life Crisis Pregnancy Centers by Controlling Their Advertising
(CNSNews) Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) have reintroduced legislation to restrict the speech of pro-life crisis pregnancy centers by regulating the advertising they do.
The bill would direct the Federal Trade Commission to restrict advertising by the pregnancy resource centers, specifically ads that “create the impression that such person is a provider of abortion services if such person does not provide abortion services.”
But critics claim the “Stop Deceptive Advertising in Women’s Services Act,” first introduced in 2007, is itself deceptive and is designed to limit the access women have to organizations that provide alternatives to abortion, including adoption services and free parenting support, such as housing, job training, and parenting classes.
“This bill is not at all what it sounds like,” said Joe Young, vice president of Heartbeat International, an association of 1,100 pregnancy-help centers, maternity homes, non-profit adoption agencies, medical clinics and abortion recovery programs in 50 countries.
“Pregnancy centers are reducing the number of abortion sales, and this aggravates the abortion industry,” said Young. “A more accurate name for this bill might be ‘Stop Alternatives to Abortion Advertising to Pay Back the Abortion Industry Act.’”
“Without any financial gain, Heartbeat International affiliates offer alternatives to abortion, providing the emotional support and practical help needed to sustain a healthy pregnancy,” Young said in a statement about the proposed law. “The pregnancy help movement is dedicated to protecting women, protecting maternal health and protecting child well-being.”
Heartbeat International affiliates provide information about all the options available to women who may be facing an unplanned pregnancy, including the risks associated with abortion free of charge. Many centers, including some of those not affiliated with Heartbeat International, inform new clients in the first stage of consultation that they do not provide (or refer for) abortion services.
Some pro-abortion groups claim that billboards paid for by some centers that say “Pregnant? Need help?” are misleading, even though abortion is not mentioned on the billboards.
NARAL Pro-Choice America says that crisis pregnancy centers, or CPCs, “often mislead women into believing that they provide a full range of reproductive-health services. They do so by using questionable advertising tactics and providing dishonest or evasive answers when women call to inquire about their services.”
Many CPCs, according to NARAL, “continue to use deceptive and intimidating practices in order to prevent women from accessing the full range of reproductive-health options.”
Concerning the “Stop Deceptive Advertising for Women’s Services Act,” Maloney said in a press release, “Although I may disagree with their views, many crisis pregnancy centers are forthright and respectful. Unfortunately, some take a more underhanded approach to lure in women seeking abortions by using tactics that should be illegal.”
“An unintended pregnancy is an especially difficult time to encounter deception, and deceptive practices should be outlawed,” said Maloney. “Women shouldn’t have to face the added stress of deciphering whether or not the clinic they choose offers legitimate medical services.”
“This legislation would simply help ensure truth in advertising related to reproductive health services,” said Menendez in the same press release. “Women’s reproductive health choices are very personal decisions, and they should never be influenced by deception or pressure.”
NARAL and other pro-abortion groups back the Maloney-Menendez bill, which would make federal law a longtime campaign by NARAL and similar groups to discredit pregnancy resource centers and the work they do for women.
“We applaud Rep. Maloney and Sen. Menendez’s leadership in making sure women aren`t misled about their health-care options,” Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, is quoted as saying in Maloney’s press release on the legislation. “Many CPCs use deceptive and manipulative tactics that prevent women from making fully informed choices about their reproductive health. They put political propaganda before women’s well-being.”
“Regardless of one’s position on abortion, we all should agree that lying to women is wrong,” said Keenan. “Americans value honesty in advertising and these anti-choice operations should not be exempt from living up to this basic principle.”
The Web site of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America describes the pregnancy resource centers as “fake clinics.”
“Family planning clinics, like your local Planned Parenthood health center, have specially trained staff who can talk with you about all of your options,” the Web site says on its abortion portion of its Web site. “But beware of so-called ‘crisis pregnancy centers.’ These are fake clinics run by people who are anti-abortion. They often don`t give women all their options. They have a history of scaring women into not having abortions. Absolutely no one should pressure you or trick you into making a decision you`re not comfortable with.”
Care Net, another network of pregnancy centers, said that the Maloney-Menendez bill was “just another attempt to shut down the competition.”
“Care Net pregnancy centers are consistently and thoroughly trained on proper and effective advertising practices. Deception is simply inconsistent with our Christian principles of honesty and integrity,” said Care Net President Melinda Delahoyde.
“What`s happening is that pregnancy centers have become an integral part of a community`s support network for women and children,” Delahoyde said. “With such holistic support available, women are empowered to choose abortion alternatives and the abortion industry simply doesn`t like losing business.”
|July 09, 2010
|Mass. Federal Judge Strikes Down Federal Ban on Gay Marriage
(Law.com) If Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker is looking for a little more ammunition in order to shoot down Proposition 8, one of his Massachusetts colleagues just gave him some.
U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro ruled Thursday that the federal Defense of Marriage Act violated the Equal Protection Clause. Congress passed DOMA in 1996, defining marriage as a heterosexual union for purposes of a host of federal benefits and classifications.
In his opinion, Tauro found that DOMA didn`t even survive rational basis review, which is the least exacting form of constitutional scrutiny. Denying same-sex partners the right to marry isn`t rationally related to raising stable children, Tauro wrote.
"An interest in encouraging responsible procreation plainly cannot provide a rational basis upon which to exclude same-sex marriages from federal recognition because, as Justice Scalia pointed out in his dissent to Lawrence v. Texas, the ability to procreate is not now, nor has it ever been, a precondition to marriage in any state in the country," Tauro wrote.
He continued: "Indeed, `the sterile and the elderly` have never been denied the right to marry by any of the fifty states. And the federal government has never considered denying recognition to marriage based on an ability or inability to procreate."
Walker raised many of the exact same points during the recent federal challenge to Proposition 8, questioning lawyers, for example, about why the elderly are permitted to marry.
A huge part of the plaintiffs` case in the Prop 8 trial involved whether gays and lesbians make good parents. Tauro weighed in on that, too.
"Since the enactment of DOMA, a consensus has developed among the medical, psychological, and social welfare communities that children raised by gay and lesbian parents are just as likely to be well-adjusted as those raised by heterosexual parents," Tauro wrote.
The trial in Walker`s courtroom ended last month, and a ruling could come at any time.
Tauro used unequivocal language in striking down DOMA.
"Congress undertook this classification for the one purpose that lies entirely outside of legislative bounds, to disadvantage a group of which it disapproves," he wrote. "And such a classification, the Constitution clearly will not permit."
Tauro found that the federal ban is unconstitutional because it interferes with the right of a state to define the institution and therefore denies married gay couples some federal benefits.
The state had argued the law denied benefits such as Medicaid to gay married couples in Massachusetts, where same-sex unions have been legal since 2004. Tauro agreed and said the act forces Massachusetts to discriminate against its own citizens in order to be eligible for federal funding in federal-state partnerships.
The act "plainly encroaches" upon the right of the state to determine marriage, Tauro said in his ruling on a lawsuit filed by state Attorney General Martha Coakley. In a ruling in a separate case filed by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, Tauro ruled the act violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
The rulings apply to Massachusetts but could have broader implications if they`re upheld on appeal.
|July 09, 2010
|Sweden Tightens Legal Noose on Homeschooling
(LifeSiteNews) Sweden’s parliament gave a crushing blow to parental rights two weeks ago, passing a law that makes homeschooling legal only in “extraordinary circumstances,” reports the Home School Leal Defense Association (HSLDA). The law excludes religious or philosophical convictions as legitimate reasons for home education.
The parliament passed what the HSLDA called a “sweeping” reform of the nation’s education system on June 22 in the form of a 1500 page bill, two pages of which addressed the topic of home education.
The new law may take effect as quickly as August 1.
Previous regulations specified that home instruction must be a “fully satisfactory alternative” to state-run education, and officials may inspect homeschooling families to make sure they are keeping up to speed. The new law keeps the previous regulations but adds a third, highly restrictive clause: parents may only homeschool after they have demonstrated “exceptional circumstances.” Despite the fact that the council of the Swedish supreme court charged with reviewing the laws recommended a clarification on the meaning of the ambiguous term “exceptional circumstances,” the government moved ahead without doing so.
While homeschooling families in the country have already faced persecution and punitive fines from school officials for homeschooling, the new law essentially gives carte blanche authority for school officials to deny homeschooling applications in any and all circumstances.
Parents who have religious, moral, or philosophical reasons will not get a break. In fact the law explicitly states, “It is the opinion of the government that there is no need of a law to make space for homeschooling based on the religious or philosophical views of the family.”
According to the HSLDA, the Swedish Homeschool Association (ROHUS) fought tooth and nail to oppose the law in Sweden’s parliament, heavily lobbying both parliamentarians and the media on behalf of the nation’s estimated 50 or so families engaged in home education.
“We have worked hard with the media, getting more articles and TV spots on homeschooling in the last six months than probably in the last ten years put together,” said Jonas Himmelstrand, president of ROHUS.
The group also gave the government a 228-page analysis of the proposed law’s impact on the rights of parents to oversee the education of their children. However, repeated requests for face-to-face meetings with the Education Minister were rejected.
While they found some support among Sweden’s 349 MPs, ROHUS stated that they did not get enough traction in the media owing to the fewness of their numbers.
But the battle may not yet be over. Himmelstrand said that no real majority existed for passing the law in its entirety, as some objected to other parts of the bill, such as provisions that integrate day-care and pre-school into the education system. But members were forced to vote with their party, said Himmelstrand, with leaders insisting that a “no” vote would lead to a “government crisis.”
Because Sweden has no supreme court with the authority of judicial review, the key to overturning the law will be to effect a change in parliament – and elections are in September.
“The outcome of the election is by no means certain and new parties could cause a complicated political situation,” said Himmelstrand. “The fate of the new school law is therefore at present in the hands of the September election.”
“An optimistic view,” continued Himmelstrand, “would be that the Swedish government does not want to [encounter] any spectacular cases of exile, political asylum in other countries or homeschoolers put in jail” – which is the case with Germany, where homeschooling is banned. “This could lead to a mild interpretation of the new law, and international pressure will certainly help in this respect. The law could be short-lived.”
One such form of pressure could be appealing the law to the European Court of Human Rights; however the ECHR in the past has ruled that the state interest in education trumps the rights of parents to be the primary educators of their children.
A challenge to Sweden’s June 25, 2009 abduction of Dominic Johannsen from his parents for homeschooling is now making its way through the ECHR. The case Johansson v. Sweden is being litigated by Alliance Defense Fund and HSLDA attorneys on behalf of Christer and Annie Johansson, who have only been allowed to see their only son for one hour every five weeks since last June.
The Johanssons were on a plane to move permanently to India, when police and social services stormed in and snatched Dominic. ADF and HSLDA filed the case with the ECHR when the Supreme Administrative Court of Sweden refused to review a lower court’s December 2009 ruling in Johansson v. Gotland Social Services that affirmed the government’s contention that they had every right to seize the child and raise him.
|July 09, 2010
|Obama`s Unconfirmed `Recess` Appointee to Run Medicare Advocated Rationing, Redistribution of Wealth
(CNSNews) President Barack Obama today circumvented the Senate confirmation process by granting a recess appointment to Dr. Donald Berwick to be director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal agency that runs Medicare and Medicaid.
Berwick, a professor at Harvard Medical School and CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (a think tank), has expressed his disdain for free-market medicine and his “love” for Great Britain’s government-run health-care system, while advocating health-care rationing and using the health-care system to redistribute wealth.
The directorship of CMS normally requires confirmation by the Senate, which currently has a 59-member majority of President Obama’s party (counting Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Connecticut Independent who caucuses with Senate Democrats).
Obama initially sent Dr. Berwick’s nomination to the Senate in April, where it was assigned to the Senate Finance Committee chaired by Sen. Max Baucus, the Montana Democrat, who had worked closely with the Obama White House in developing the national health-care law that President Obama signed in March. Baucus had not yet scheduled a confirmation hearing for Dr. Berwick.
“It’s unfortunate that at a time when our nation is facing enormous challenges, many in Congress have decided to delay critical nominations for political purposes,” President Obama said in a Wednesday statement announcing the recess appointment of Berwick and two other officials. (These were Philip E. Coyle, nominated to be associated director in the Office of Science and Technology Policy--under director John P. Holdren--and Joshua Gotbaum to be director of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.)
Berwick is known for his staunch defense of Great Britain’s government-run National Health System (NHS)—which he has hailed as a model for the world-- and his penchant for comparing the U.S. health-care system unfavorably to the British system.
In the July 26, 2008 issue of the British Journal of Medicine (BMJ), Dr. Berwick published an article praising the NHS on its 60th birthday and urging Great Britain to reject free enterprise in health care. In the United States, he argued, competition among rival health-care providers had produced an excess supply of health care.
“Please don’t put your faith in market forces,” he said (italics in original). “It’s a popular idea: that Adam Smith’s invisible hand would do a better job of designing care than leaders with plans can. I find little evidence that market forces relying on consumers choosing among an array of products, with competitors fighting it out, leads to the healthcare system you want and need. In the US, competition is a major reason for our duplicative, supply driven, fragmented care system.”
Berwick argued that purposely provided an inadequate supply of health-care—as Britain’s health-care system does—is superior to allowing the market to provide an excess.
“In America, the best predictor of cost is supply; the more we make, the more we use—hospital beds, consultancy services, procedures, diagnostic tests,” Dr. Berwick wrote. “… Here, you choose a harder path. You plan the supply; you aim a bit low; you prefer slightly too little of a technology or a service to too much; then you search for care bottlenecks and try to relieve them.”
“Avoid supply driven care like the plague,” Dr. Berwick advised the Britsh (italics in original). “Unfettered growth and pursuit of institutional self interest have been the engines of low value for the US healthcare system. Oversupply has made care unaffordable and hasn’t helped patients at all.”
Dr. Berwick argued that redistribution of wealth is an absolutely necessary component in any just health-care system and that the British had made the right decision in nationalizing their system.
“You could have had the American plan. You could have been spending 17% of your gross domestic product and making health care unaffordable as a human right instead of spending 9% and guaranteeing it as a human right. You could have kept your system in fragments and encouraged supply driven demand, instead of making tough choices and planning your supply,” he wrote.
“You could have protected the wealthy and the well instead of recognising that sick people tend to be poorer and that poor people tend to be sicker, and that any healthcare funding plan that is just must redistribute wealth,” he said. “Britain, you chose well.”
In an interview published in the June 2009 issue of Biotechnology Healthcare, Dr. Berwick defended the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research, a federal bureaucracy funded by last year’s $787-billion stimulus law--a bureaucracy that some critics argue will become the command center for rationing health-care under the new national health care law.
In the same interview, Dr. Berwick also defended what he views as the necessity of rationing health-care itself--assuming as he did so that it would be "taxpayers" and not private consumers who would be paying for health care. (Under the new health-care law, Americans earning up to 400 percent of the poverty level--or $88,200 for a family of four--will receive federal subsidies to buy health insurance, which they will be compelled by law to buy.)
When the interviewer for Biotechnology Healthcare said to Dr. Berwick that critics had said that federal Comparative Effectiveness Research would “lead to rationioning of healthcare,” Berwick responded: “We can make a sensible social decision and say, ‘Well, at this point, to have access to a particular additional benefit [new drug or medical intervention] is so expensive that our taxpayers have better use for those funds.’ We make those decisions all the time. The decision is not whether or not we will ration care — the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open. And right now, we are doing it blindly.”
In his BMJ article celebrating the 60th birthday of Britain’s government-run National Health System, Berwick said: “Cynics beware, I am romantic about the National Health Service; I love it. … The NHS is one of the astounding human endeavours of modern times.”
Berwick expressed his belief that it was important for the NHS to continue because it was the model health-care system for the world.
“The only sentiment I feel for the NHS that exceeds my admiration is my hope,” he said. “I hope you will never, ever give up on what you have begun. I hope you realise and reaffirm how badly you need—how badly the world needs—an example at scale of a health system that is universal, accessible, excellent, and free at the point of care—a health system that, at its core, is like the world we wish we had: generous, hopeful, confident, joyous, and just. Happy birthday.”
|July 09, 2010
|Census Director Admits ‘We May Have Duplicates’
(CNSNews) U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert Groves told CNSNews.com on Wednesday that the Census has "no way, unfortunately, of knowing" whether or not homeless individuals were counted twice, and added, "we may have duplicates."
As CNSNews.com reported on June 10, the Office of the Inspector General of the Commerce Department, which oversees the Census, published a report in May indicating that Census workers were instructed by a Census manual to recount homeless people who said they already had been counted.
The IG`s report also revealed that the enumerators (the workers who count people for the Census) were not required to collect homeless persons’ names and birth dates.
During a conference call on Wednesday, CNSNews.com asked Dr. Groves, “What process is the Census using to remove duplicated records of homeless individuals who were recounted by enumerators and for which no name, birth date, or ethnicity information was collected?”
Groves said it is “feasible” that homeless people could have been counted twice. “It is common that when we visit those outdoor locations that we can’t get the names and age and race of each individual. They say essentially, ‘We don’t want to talk to you,’” Groves said.
“As a last resort in those cases, we enumerate them, we count, we write down ‘Person 1, Person 2’ – that’s about the best we can do,” said Groves. “What the caller notes is sometimes person number 13 under the overpass may have been counted in the soup kitchen.”
“We have no way, unfortunately, of knowing that in that circumstance,” he said. “That’s a weakness in the enumeration of homeless people, we may have duplicates.”
The May 5 IG report showed that a Census manual for counting the homeless “indicates that enumerators should recount any individual who asserts that he/she has already been counted.”
“Unique to this operation, enumerators were allowed to create an individual Census record based on their direct observation of the race, gender and ethnicity of the respondent,” the OIG reported. “Enumerators were not required to obtain names or dates of birth from such respondents.”
“When deviating from established procedures, enumerators appeared to follow a more common-sense approach to reducing the risk of duplicate records,” concluded the OIG report. “However, this risk remains great for individual records created during [homeless count enumeration]. We have not reviewed the process Census will use to remove duplicate records for enumerations that were simply based on direct observation of race, gender, age or ethnicity, and in which no birth date or name was provided.”
For the June 10 story, CNSNews.com asked Census spokesman Michael Cook how the Census Bureau was going to eliminate the double-counting of homeless people from the final Census count. In an e-mail response, Cook said: “We have a process for dealing with duplicate responses to the 2010 Census to which the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and Inspector General (IG) are very familiar."
Cook did not explain what that process was, nor did Groves when CNSNews.com asked about it on Wednesday.
Counting the homeless population, a process that Groves described as “challenging,” is part of the Census’s constitutionally mandated decennial count. It is done during the Service-Based Enumeration (SBE) phase of the Census, which is a component of the Group Quarters Enumeration (GQE) operation.
“We attempt to count those folks that are non-traditionally housed, including those who live and sleep in outdoor locations, in a special operation three days at the end of March,” explained Dr. Groves on Wednesday.
“The way we do it is to both visit service providers where the homeless would seek services – soup kitchens, health services, shelters and so on--on a couple of days and then one night we actually go to outdoor locations,” he said.
“It is feasible as the caller noted that we would count someone both at a soup kitchen on Monday and then we would visit an encampment or a group of people sleeping under an overpass the next day,” Groves said.
As an example of another “weakness in the homeless count,” Groves said that the Census Bureau does not “attempt to measure homeless people who lived by themselves in a tent deep in the woods miles from anyone else--we don’t know they’re there.”
“We also note that we have a lot of missed homeless” Groves said.
|July 09, 2010
|Over 30 Christian, Family Groups Defend Nat`l Prayer Day
(Christian Post) Prominent conservative and family groups filed an amicus brief Wednesday against an earlier court ruling that deemed the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional.
"In her decision to strike down the National Day of Prayer, Judge Barbara Crabb attempted to undo two hundred years of American history," said Kelly Shackelford, president/CEO of Liberty Institute, which filed the brief on behalf of more than 30 groups and individuals.
"The decision below was an attack upon our heritage and the religious freedom upon which our nation was founded. This outrageous decision must be overturned."
Among those joining the challenge are James C. Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family; the Family Research Council; Focus on the Family Action; the American Civil Rights Union; Let Freedom Ring; and family policy councils from throughout the country.
"Prayer is the underpinning of this country that makes it great. I am proud to file this brief along with so many wonderful groups," said Dobson. "Our nation has a rich history of Presidential proclamations for prayer and thanksgiving, and we must not allow revisionist history to dilute that heritage and freedom."
In April, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb struck down the federal statute creating the National Day of Prayer, concluding that it connotes endorsement and encouragement of a particular religious exercise. A lawsuit had been filed in October 2008 by the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
Despite the ruling, religious groups were free to organize prayer events on the first Thursday of May. Still, some vowed to appeal the decision.
Liberty Institute argues in its brief that invalidating the annual day of prayer "would be an act of hostility to religion, not the accommodating neutrality required by the Establishment Clause."
Contending that it is "completely consistent with the First Amendment," the legal firm also notes that the prayer day "is a benign acknowledgement of the religious nature of the American people."
"Moreover, participation in this acknowledgement is entirely voluntary, and does not entail any person’s being subjected to unwelcome assertions of religious faith."
The annual prayer event was created in 1952 by a joint resolution of the United States Congress, and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman. Since then, all presidents, including President Obama, have issued proclamations designating the National Day of Prayer each year.
|July 09, 2010
|South Dakota Municipality Ignores Law, Hands Church $17,000 Tax Bill
(CitizenLink) ‘If citizens are active in their communities and discerning what elected officials are saying, the alarm can be sent to our neighbors and friends and we can help to reverse this trend.`
As cash-strapped cities and municipalities try to find creative ways to generate revenue, some are setting a dangerous precedent when they look to churches as a targeted source.
Joe Infranco, senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), has seen a marked uptick in the number of cases handled by ADF’s 1,800 allied attorneys, who represent churches free of charge.
“Whether out of ignorance or malice, (municipalities) are slowly chipping away at the Church’s tax exemption when and where they are able,” said Infranco. “This is a very dangerous trend.”
Just this week, an ADF-allied attorney filed an appeal in a South Dakota state court on behalf of First Evangelical Free Church of Rapid City, S.D., after the Pennington County Board of Commissioners refused to dismiss a $17,000 property tax bill for land the church purchased in 2006.
Despite three South Dakota Supreme Court decisions that ruled such taxes should not be levied, the board voted unanimously (with one abstention) on June 1, to side with the “recommendations made by the Director of Equalization and Chief Deputy State’s Attorney Jay Alderman to deny the abatement request on the grounds that it did not meet the requirements for exempt status.”
“Government officials should not be allowed to ignore the law, the Constitution, and supporting court precedents to target a church with exorbitant taxes it doesn’t truly owe,” said Stephen J. Wesolick, the ADF attorney representing the church.
Experts point to the diminished view of the role of the church as the primary reason for the increase in government encroachment.
“There is a cultural erosion, in terms of the value of a church,” Infranco said. “Rather than seeing the church’s comprehensive benefit to a community, it sees it in economic terms. Simply put, ‘How much money can we get from this piece of property?’”
Nevertheless, churches should not feel defeated.
“If citizens are active in their communities and discerning what elected officials are saying – or signaling -- the alarm can be sent to our neighbors and friends,” Infranco said, “and we can help to reverse this trend.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
The Church’s initial letter to Board of Commissioners.
ADF’s Notice of Appeal on behalf of First Evangelical Free Church.
Learn more about defending religious freedoms.
Learn the truth about the separation of church and state.
Learn more about the law and the courts.
|July 08, 2010
|Hawaii governor vetoes same-sex civil unions bill
(OneNewsNow) Hawaii`s governor ended months of speculation by vetoing contentious civil unions legislation that would have granted gay, lesbian and opposite-sex couples the same rights and benefits that the state provides to married couples.
Republican Gov. Linda Lingle`s action on Tuesday came on the final day she had to either sign or veto the bill, which was approved by the Legislature in late April.
The measure would have made Hawaii one of six states that essentially grant the rights of marriage to same-sex couples without authorizing marriage itself. Five other states and the District of Columbia permit same-sex marriage.
Lingle said voters should decide the fate of civil unions, not politicians.
"The subject of this legislation has touched the hearts and minds of our citizens as no other social issue of our day," she said. "It would be a mistake to allow a decision of this magnitude to be made by one individual or a small group of elected officials."
For weeks, Lingle heard emotional statements from both supporters and opponents of the bill. On Tuesday, she invited leaders from both sides to her standing-room only news conference.
Opponents of the measure, including many religious groups, erupted in cheers and hugs when the announcement was made.
"What she did was very just, and I`m very happy about it," said Jay Amina, 50, of Waianae. "It sends a good message throughout the state of Hawaii _ that our people here on the islands are standing for traditional marriage."
Supporters of civil unions shouted, "We`ll keep fighting!" and "Let`s go!" The group of about 100 joined in singing "We Shall Overcome."
"We had hoped the governor would do the right thing for civil rights and equality," Lee Yarbrough of Honolulu said while standing arm-in-arm with his partner. "This battle is far from over."
The Aloha State has been a battleground in the gay rights movement since the early 1990s. A 1993 Hawaii Supreme Court ruling nearly made Hawaii the first state to legalize same-sex marriage before voters overwhelmingly approved the nation`s first "defense of marriage" constitutional amendment in 1998.
The measure gave the Legislature the power to reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples. Lawmakers responded by enacting a law banning gay marriage in Hawaii but left the door open for civil unions.
Last year, civil unions easily passed the House but stalled in the state Senate. When legislators reconvened in January, it was passed in the Senate but shelved by House leaders until the final day of the legislative session.
About 60 percent of the more than 34,000 letters, telephone calls, e-mails and other communications from the public to the governor asked her to veto the measure, the governor`s aides said late last week.
Lingle`s decision will be the last development on the proposal this year. State House leaders had decided not to try to override any of her vetoes.
|July 07, 2010
|Expert Says Demise of Big Tobacco Provides Roadmap to Victory over Porn
(LifeSiteNews.com) How does America, considered the porn capital of the world, get rid of the scourge of pornography? Simple, one expert in the field tells LifeSiteNews.com (LSN): make pornography as socially unacceptable as smoking cigarettes, and pave the way for laws and litigation to finish off the billion-dollar smut empire.
LifeSiteNews.com (LSN) spoke with Dr. Mary Anne Layden, an expert in treating those addicted to pornography, after a congressional briefing in the Capitol Visitor’s Center on enforcing obscenity laws in mid-June. Layden, who is co-director of the Sexual Trauma and Psychopathology Program at the Center for Cognitive Therapy at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, said the methods used by activists to take down the tobacco industry offer pro-family advocates and their allies a roadmap to drive the stake into the porn industry.
Fifty years ago, the United States had a culture where “lighting up” was pervasive and glorified on the silver screen by stars like Humphrey Bogart, Frank Sinatra or Grace Kelly. Today, smoking largely has a social stigma thanks to aggressive anti-smoking efforts that led to strict anti-smoking laws, such that smokers can barely find a restaurant or bar that will let them have a cigarette with a coffee or beer.
“So we are going to expect that what we did with cigarettes, we can do with pornography,” explained Layden.
The first step in the fight against porn, Layden explained, is to get clinicians and doctors to start saying publically and loudly that pornography is a problem that is destructive, just as they began saying years ago that “our patients appear to be dying from cigarettes.”
The second step is to get reporters and researchers to write articles explaining what the clinicians are saying about the harm caused by pornography.
In terms of cigarettes, she said, “we got the reporters to write articles, then we got the researchers to come in, and we stopped listening to the Tobacco Institute researchers who lied to Congress and said it’s not addictive and not harmful, because they were throwing away all the studies that said it was.”
Progress is already being made in this department, she said, as “we have got researchers who are doing research now and more research is being done on the brain responses [to porn].”
The third step is where the lawyers come in. Just as lawyers were necessary “to sue for people who were being damaged by cigarettes,” it would be necessary to get their assistance to sap the financial life out of the billion-dollar porn empire.
“So we got to get the lawyers to do civil suits and criminal suits; we have got to get the government to give money for the Department of Justice,” said Layden, “so that we can have more criminal cases.”
“If all of these people get together – the [doctors], the reporters, the lawyers, the government, the researchers – if all of them get together, we can do the same thing to [the porn industry] that we did to cigarette smoking,” concluded Layden.
Therapy, But No Detox for Porn Addict
Pornography is a real and present danger in U.S. society, Layden told LSN. The damage it wreaks is especially terrible, she continued, because there is no way to “detox” or eliminate the images from an addict’s system.
“With a traditional addiction treatment – if you are treating a cocaine addict, or heroine addict – you send them to detox,” explained Layden. “With the porn addict, we can’t get the porn out of the system; we’ve got to treat you while the addictive substance is in your system and will still be in your system forever.”
Layden stressed that even so, there is enormous hope: therapy does help people recover from their pornography addictions and lead successful and fulfilling lives.
“People do get well. I have patients who get well,” she emphasized. “It’s hard, it’s long, it’s a relapsing disorder, but they do get well. They get reasonable lives, they have marriages that are good, they can raise children, they can be godly men, they can have careers. They do get well.”
The techniques that she and other experts in the field use are designed to help diminish the impact of pornographic images (for instance, the “one-second bounce” technique helps recovering addicts avoid looking at pornographic images they might accidentally encounter) and help individuals retrain their minds to replace associations made with porn images with wholesome images.
“While the images are still buried in the brain, and can come back unbidden, she said, “it gets better in terms of their being able to control it.”
“But it’s a two year process even with motivated people. We can do it, but we [have] got to prevent more,” said Layden.
She added that men all over the country are being “bombarded” with pornography, especially what she calls the “pornography of everyday life” found in Victoria’s Secret magazines and suchlike. It is a problem that civil society must take decisive action against, she said, because clinicians are overwhelmed.
“We can’t fix this problem by pulling them one out of the river at a time and keep them from drowning. We have to go upstream and see who is pushing them in.”
|July 07, 2010
|Rwandan Genocide Rape Victims Grateful for Children Conceived in Rape
(LifeSiteNews.com) The tribal genocide of 1994 in Rwanda resulted in more than 800,000 Rwandan deaths and countless women suffering rape at the hands of the Hutu militia who were ordered to kill off the country`s minority Tutsi tribe.
Now, 16 years later, the children of the raped women are facing the reality of how they were conceived. They and their mothers are looking for acceptance in a society that is still healing from the horrors of the past.
One Tutsi woman who barely escaped with her life after having been raped on three different occasions by several assailants, told the BBC in a special report that she is deeply thankful for her daughter, despite the circumstances of her conception. She said there was never a time when she did not love her.
Anastasie Kayirangwa said, "I was raped on three occasions in different locations and by many different people. With the exception of one person, I didn`t know who any of them were."
Anastasie told her daughter Diane, now 16, about the circumstances of her conception when she was 12.
"Diane had already asked me. I told her when she was about 12 years old. She was grown up. I told her when we were alone," Anastasie said.
"It pained her. She cried, she stood up and she moved here and there because of anger."
However, Anastasie says she was able to convince her daughter that although she did not know who her father was, she loved her “enough for two parents,” in the words of the BBC.
"There wasn`t even a moment when I didn`t love her. I`ve loved her ever since she was born," Anastasie said.
"My family gave her horrible nicknames like `hyena`. But I`ve never wanted anything bad to happen to her."
Anastasie related that due to the stigma of rape she has not been able to find a husband. However, she is able to provide for herself and Diane by buying and selling goods at the local market.
She said she does not dwell on the past and the crimes committed against her, and hopes her daughter will be able to overcome the difficulties in her life and not be defined by the identity of her father or how she was conceived.
"Memories of 1994 are not brought back by Diane," Anastasie said. "1994 is no longer prevailing in me. Instead of remembering 1994, I think what my children would eat - their education. 1994 is no longer in me."
"Besides, Diane is a child born in a different Rwanda. I hope that her future will be good," Anastasie said.
But not all women were so easily able to accept and to love their children as Anastasie. Another mother who spoke to the BBC, but who asked to remain anonymous, related how upon the birth of her son, who was conceived in rape, she was tempted to throw the child down the latrine.
"I didn`t see him as my child. I didn`t love him at all," she says. "In him, I saw the image of spears. I saw machetes. I saw very bad things."
"I saw him as a killer, a son of a killer.”
However, she says she encountered other women who were in similar circumstances as her, and came to realize that “of course, he (her son) was innocent, it wasn`t him who did these things.”
"So now I`ve changed,” she said. “Now he sees that I`m close to him. We go out together. We walk around in Kigali."
Now, she says, her main object is to find a sponsor for her son, to enable him to get an education, so that “when he grows he will be able help himself and others."
Read the BBC special report here.
|July 07, 2010
|Indonesian Muslims Call for Halt to `Christianization`
(Compass Direct News) – Muslim organizations in Bekasi, West Java, on Sunday (June 27) declared their intention to establish paramilitary units in local mosques and a “mission center” to oppose “ongoing attempts to convert people to Christianity,” according to the national Antara news agency.
At a gathering at the large Al Azhar mosque, the leaders of nine organizations announced the results of a Bekasi Islamic Congress meeting on June 20, where they agreed to establish a mission center to halt “Christianization,” form a Laskar Pemuda youth army and push for implementation of sharia (Islamic law) in the region, The Jakarta Post reported.
“If the Muslims in the city can unite, there will be no more story about us being openly insulted by other religions,” Ahmad Salimin Dani, head of the Bekasi Islamic Missionary Council, announced at the gathering. “The center will ensure that Christians do not act out of order.”
Observing an increasing number of house churches, Muslim organizations have accused Bekasi Christians of aggressive proselytizing. The Rev. Simon Timorason of the West Java Christian Communication Forum (FKKB), however, told Compass that most Christians in the area do not proselytize and meet only in small home fellowships due to the lack of officially recognized worship venues.
Many Christian seminary graduates prefer to remain on Java rather than relocate to distant islands, Timorason added, making West Java the ideal place to launch new home-based fellowships for different denominations. But neighbors see only the multiplication of churches, he said, and therefore suspect Muslims are converting to the Christian faith.
“The ideal solution is to have one building with a permit to be used by different denominations in each housing complex,” Timorason said. “If every denomination wants their own church in the same area, it’s a problem.”
Declaration of Intent
Kanti Prajogo, chairman of the Congress committee, had hoped to present a written declaration of intent to city officials at the mosque gathering, but officials did not respond to his invitation, according to The Jakarta Post.
Around 200 people attended the June 20 Congress, representing local organizations such as the Bekasi Interfaith Dialogue Forum, the Bekasi Movement Against Apostasy, the local chapters of Muhammadiyah and the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) – two of Indonesia’s largest Muslim organizations – and the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), well known for its aggressive opposition to Christians and other non-Muslim groups.
Government officials on Monday (June 28) called for the FPI to be declared a forbidden organization, claiming that FPI members were implicated in “too many” violent incidents.
“We are not concerned about their mission,” legislator Eva Kusuma Sundari reportedly said at a press conference in Jakarta, “but we are concerned about the way they implement their goals.”
A spokesman for another large organization, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), said Tuesday (July 28) that despite one member being present at the congress in an unofficial capacity, NU had not approved the joint declaration, contradicting a statement made the previous day by Bekasi NU official Abul Mutholib Jaelani, who told The Jakarta Post that he had asked all 56 NU branches in the city to contribute at least 10 members to the youth army.
|July 07, 2010
|Defending Christianity`s Place in U.S. Against `Anti-Faith` Attacks
(Christian Post) With America seeing huge attacks against the Christian faith, one congressman is not sitting idly by and allowing Christianity to be pushed out of the public square.
"Over the last several decades we have seen this constant erosion of just an access to the marketplace of ideas," Virginia Congressman Randy Forbes said on Friday`s Family Talk radio broadcast.
"We don`t want to dominate the marketplace," he noted. "We don`t want to control it. We just want to have faith and religion having a seat at the table."
Forbes is the founder and chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus and active in defending the place of faith in American society.
Recently in May, Forbes and some 30 other congressmen defended a National Day of Prayer event held at the Cannon House building when protesters tried to block it from taking place.
Last month, he also introduced a bipartisan resolution reaffirming "In God We Trust" as the official motto of the United States.
"I think overwhelmingly people across America would say `in God we still trust,`" he told Dr. James Dobson on the conservative radio show. "I think it`s the time for us to have that kind of legislation."
Before Forbes was featured on Friday`s broadcast, Dobson noted to listeners that the newly launched Family Talk is not being turned into a ministry that has "a political or public policy bent." But he stressed the significance of still addressing such issues and was unapologetic about doing so with passion.
"That`s who we are and might as well state that up front," said Dobson, who started Family Talk with his son after leaving the prominent Focus on the Family ministry in February.
"This is the one reason that I didn`t want to retire when I left Focus on the Family," the 74-year-old conservative evangelical leader stated. "The country is in a great deal of trouble and I just felt like we needed to do something about it."
Like many like-minded Christians, Dobson feels there is a growing attack against Christianity and efforts to eliminate all references to the Christian faith.
Expressing the same level of concern, Forbes said "anti-faith" groups around the country are amassing huge sums of money and focusing their resources on one particular situation or lawsuit so that they can get a precedent.
But through the Congressional Prayer Caucus, Forbes and his fellow congressmen have had some success in dealing with the attacks.
After some 60 congressmen wrote a letter last year to a judge who initiated criminal contempt proceedings against two high school officials in Florida`s Santa Rosa County School District for praying during a luncheon, the case was dismissed.
"We have to make sure that these individuals who are making these decisions know that it`s not just the anti-faith groups that are looking at what they`re doing, but it`s people of faith as well," Forbes said.
A number of states have begun to form prayer caucuses, including Mississippi and Virginia. Part of the purpose of prayer caucuses is to monitor legislation, agency rulings and court opinions that deny religious freedoms and access to the marketplace of ideas for people of faith, he said.
Forbes hopes to see prayer caucuses in every state "because it would be the first time that we have been able to integrate all of these policymakers across the country so that they can know what`s going on and we can have policies that effectively deal with some of these attacks before it`s too late."
While "anti-faith" groups are becoming increasingly vocal, Forbes encouraged Christians to be courageous and let decision makers and others know that "there is not just a single voice – that being the anti-faith voice – but there are people of faith that are standing up as well."
|July 07, 2010
|Influential Pastor Warns of Socialism, Departure from God
(Christian Post) America currently stands in a very dangerous position, said renowned pastor and author Dr. Charles Stanley. Today more than ever, the country is turning away from God and moving closer toward socialism, he warned. And the consequences will be grave.
"We know the truth, we know the principles of God. In spite of all that, we find ourselves as a nation violating the laws of God, heading in a direction that is going to be disastrous for us, for our children and the generations that are to come unless there is a change," he said.
Speaking to thousands at First Baptist Church of Atlanta and to a live Web audience on Friday, Stanley delivered a sobering 4th of July message about a dangerous spiritual tide that is engulfing the country and the crucial need for prayer.
"There is a tide that has touched the shores of our land and reached the heart of our nation," he said against the backdrop of the U.S. flag. "It is a tide that is bringing with it ideas and philosophies, actions and attitudes that will ultimately destroy the way of life that you and I have."
The influential pastor and founder of In Touch Ministries listed 12 things involved in the tide. Among them are the financial crisis and the move toward socialism.
With the national debt rising by the billions every day and increasing taxation, future generations will likely be left with a debt so heavy that they`ll never be able to spend most of what they make, he said.
Addressing the idea of spreading the wealth, Stanley emphasized, "It is not the government`s responsibility to take care of us. It is to protect us.
"We`re responsible for taking care of ourselves."
Socialism, he pointed out, is opposed primarily to Christianity and Judaism.
"In Christianity, we`re taught to do our best because we`ve been gifted by God. So there`s motivation, willingness and we cooperate," he explained. "We use our spiritual gifts for the good of everyone."
But under a socialist society, in which the government controls all means of production and distribution, there is no motivation for diligence and creativity is stifled, he said.
When there is less reward, there is less to give. And as evidenced in the recent downturn, what suffers first is supporting missionary work.
"You see, it affects every single aspect of society," Stanley warned.
He added, "Naturally, when the government takes control, do you think that freedom of speech is always going to be there?"
"The tide is bringing in a control that will indeed attempt to silence the truth and will attempt to squash the religious devotion and worship of the people of God."
That tide began creeping in many years ago, he noted, when the government and the courts began banning prayer at schools and removing references to Jesus, God and the Ten Commandments from the public square, Stanley noted.
"It is an attempt to destroy the Christian spirit in America," he said.
"There is a war going on against Jesus," he declared. "It`s part of the strategy. The primary reason for this war against Him is He is interfering with the plan to make this a socialist nation. Mark it down. It is the truth."
Among the other elements of the dangerous tide are: terrorism, turning our backs on Israel, the announcement that the United States is not a Christian nation, increasing national disasters, a departure from the biblical view of marriage, and support for killing the unborn, Stanley listed.
"Mark this down for socialism because these three groups of people who do not contribute to the state ... are of no value: unborn babies, the elderly and those who are disabled," said the Atlanta pastor.
With the tide moving fast, Stanley issued a charge to Christians to turn it around.
He called believers to join him in 140 days of humbling themselves, repenting of sins and praying to God.
"The Bible says judgment begins at the house of God. We`re not expecting lost people to do all this because this is the work of the people of God; it is our responsibility," he stressed. "A lot of where we are is because of our apathy. We haven`t prayed for these men who are making decisions."
"Do you want this nation to keep going where it`s going or do you want us to get back on track?" he posed.
Prayer, he said, is the one thing he knows that works.
"Do you believe God answers prayer?" he asked. "Pray for God to change the direction of this tide."
He added that those prayers have to be backed up with righteousness and a godly life if they are to be effective and nation-altering.
"There has never been a nation like these United States. We do not want it to fail or to fall."
To join Stanley in 140 days of prayer, visit: http://intouch.org/
|July 07, 2010
|Conservatives Are More Than Twice as Likely as Liberals to Be Strongly Patriotic, Says Gallup Poll
(CNSNews) Conservatives are more than twice as likely as liberals to express very strong patriotism, according to a new USA Today/Gallup poll in which 48 percent of conservatives said they were “extremely patriotic,” but only 19 percent of liberals made that claim.
The poll asked respondents this question: “How patriotic are you? Would you say extremely patriotic, very patriotic, somewhat patriotic, or not especially patriotic?” The poll surveyed a random sample of 1,014 adults from June 11-13, and the margin of error was plus-or-minus 4 percentage points.
Overall, 72 percent of Americans said they were either extremely (32 percent) or very patriotic (42 percent), with another 19 percent saying they were somewhat patriotic. Only 6 percent said they were "not especially patriotic."
The USA Today news story on this poll question did not report any data at all about the patriotism of liberals as discovered by the survey, although it did report that patriotism has increased among Republicans and conservatives, stating: “The number of Republicans and conservatives who describe their patriotism as running high has increased 24 percentage points since 1999.”
The Gallup analysis of the poll question did list what percentage of liberals, conservatives and moderates, Republicans, Democrats and Independents, and people of various age groups described themselves as "extremely patriotic" in both 2005 and this year--thus providing a basis for comparing liberals with conservatives as well as with other groups.
Liberals were the least likely of all groups listed by Gallup to say they were "extremely" patriotic.
Neither the USA Today news story on the poll question nor the Gallup analysis explained why the poll used the term "extremely" to describe the most patriotic group given that the word "extreme" often carries a pejorative connotation, particularly in politics. The Gallup analysis did say, however: "The difference between `extremely` and `very` patriotic is left to respondents to interpret."
An alternative formulation might have asked people to distinguish between "strongly" and "very strongly" patriotic. It would have asked: "How patriotic are you? Would you say very strongly patriotic, strongly patriotic, somewhat patriotic, or not especially patriotic?”
The poll did not ask people if they considered themselves "extremely unpatriotic."
As reported by the Gallup analysis, 52 percent of Republicans in the 2010 survey--an outright majority--said they were "extremely patriotic" while only 20 percent of Democrats said they were "extremely patriotic."
According to historical polling numbers on the same question posted by Gallup, Americans have been more patriotic in the past decade than they were in the 1990s.
In 1994, 65 percent said they were either extremely (21 percent) or very patriotic (44 percent). In 2010, 74 percent say they are either extremely (32 percent) or very patriotic (42 percent).
The increase in patriotism started happening after al Qaeda terrorists attacked the United States on September 11, 2001. In a poll conducted June 25-27, 1999, 65 percent of Americans said they were either extremely (19 percent) or very patriotic (46 percent). But in a poll taken January 4-20, 2002, five months after the 9/11 attacks, 71 percent of Americans said they were either extremely (24 percent) or very patriotic (47 percent).
In the past five years, according to Gallup, the percentage of liberals, Democrats and moderates describing themselves as “extremely patriotic” has declined. By contrast, the percentage of Republicans, Independents, conservatives, men, women and people 18 years or older, who describe themselves as “extremely patriotic” has increased.
Percentage of Americans Saying They Are Extremely Patriotic
2005 2010 Change
Republicans 35% 52% 17 points
Conservatives 33 48 15
Aged 65+ 21 40 19
Men 29 37 8
Aged 50-64 29 35 6
Aged 30-49 29 32 3
Independents 21 30 9
Women 23 28 5
Moderates 23 22 -1
Aged 18-29 21 22 1
Democrats 22 20 -2
Liberals 23 19 -4
|July 07, 2010
|Bounty hunter` gets court OK to pursue Planned Parenthood
(WorldNetDaily) The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco has stopped Planned Parenthood of California`s attempt at silencing a whistleblower who alleges the abortion provider has billed taxpayers $180 million in fraudulent birth-control charges.
Victor Gonzalez, the former chief financial officer of Planned Parenthood`s Los Angeles branch, exposed though a federal lawsuit California clinics purchasing birth-control pills at discount prices, then billing both self-pay clients and federally funded state programs inflated prices.
Through its dozens of affiliated "health centers" over several years, Gonzalez estimates, Planned Parenthood had profited over $180 million from overbilling.
Planned Parenthood, however, had won a dismissal of the fraud case in district court by arguing that a state audit had also found the overbilling, and, therefore, Gonzalez didn`t really qualify as a whistleblower.
And since the state opted not to take punitive action following the revelation of wrongdoing, it may have appeared Planned Parenthood had gotten away with decades of profiting off overbilling taxpayers.
But the unanimous decision by a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit`s court of appeals this week has brought the scandal back to light.
"This is a tremendous victory," said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, which is representing Gonzalez. "While this case is by no means over, winning this appeal means we have gotten the federal claim over the threshold hurdles and can now get down to the heart of this case: the alleged fraud."
According to an ACLJ brief filed in the case, "The federal False Claims Act prohibits frauds against the federal government. As a remedial measure, the False Claims Act authorizes certain private individuals – called `relators` – to bring civil suits, in the name of the United States, to enforce the False Claims Act and to recover the fraudulently obtained funds. Such private enforcement actions are known as `qui tam` suits. The relator bringing such a qui tam suit, if successful, receives a portion of the fraud recovery as a bounty – an incentive to bring these suits in the first place."
In 2002, Gonzalez was hired as the chief financial officer for Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles, where he discovered a long-standing practice of overbilling government programs for reimbursement of birth-control pills and other devices. State officials had even repeatedly told Planned Parenthood to cease the practice in the 1990s, but it continued.
In 2004, Gonzalez communicated with senior officials in Planned Parenthood in an attempt to correct the practice and advised the organization to obtain legal counsel to deal with fallout from illegal billings.
Shortly thereafter, Gonzalez was fired.
Also in 2004, a California Department of Health Services audit of just one of the state`s several clinics confirmed Gonzalez`s allegations, finding the San Diego branch of Planned Parenthood had overbilled the state more than five million dollars over a two-year period.
Rather than initiate prosecution, however, the state passed a new law allowing Planned Parenthood to continue the money-making practice.
As for the uncounted millions that had been overbilled over previous decades, however, a letter from Stan Rosenstein, deputy director of the state`s Department of Human Services Medical Care Services division explained, "It is the decision of DHS that no demand [for recovery of the $5-million-plus in overbilling uncovered in San Diego] will issue pursuant to the audit of Planned Parenthood Associates for the cited period."
But since the state`s defrauded medical-assistance programs are supported by federal funds, Gonzalez alerted the U.S. attorney general in 2005 and shortly thereafter filed a False Claims suit as a federal whistleblower.
Planned Parenthood`s attorneys argued that since state officials knew of the fraud, Gonzalez doesn`t qualify as a whisteblower, and the case should be allowed to die.
The ACLJ, however, argues that the False Claims Act rules apply to federal whistleblowing, and since the state kept it quiet and did not make the fraud findings public, Gonzalez`s actions still qualify.
"The question on appeal was whether the former [Planned Parenthood] employee is a proper whistleblower under the False Claims Act," said Sekulow in a statement. "We contended that the answer is `yes,` and now a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit has unanimously agreed with us."
In a ruling yesterday issued with no comment, Circuit Judges Alfred Goodwin (appointed by President Nixon), Mary Schroeder (appointed by President Carter) and Raymond Fischer (appointed by President Clinton) ordered the case reopened.
|July 06, 2010
|U.N. creates new body on women, gender equality
(Reuters) After years of difficult negotiations, the U.N. General Assembly voted on Friday to set up a body that will seek to improve the situation of women and girls around the world.
The new body will be known officially as the U.N. Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, although officials say it will be referred to as U.N. Women (www.unwomen.org). It will consolidate four separate U.N. divisions now dealing with women`s and gender issues.
"U.N. Women will significantly boost U.N. efforts to promote gender equality, expand opportunity, and tackle discrimination around the globe," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement.
U.N. diplomats said four years of negotiations between Western developed nations and developing countries, many of them states where women are often discriminated against, had been tough because of varying views on women`s rights and gender equality.
A new post of under-secretary-general will created to head U.N. Women, with diplomats saying privately that former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet is one of the top candidates.
Ban said he was inviting suggestions for candidates from member states and non-governmental organizations.
U.N. Women will focus on supporting inter-government bodies like the Commission on the Status of Women and ensuring that all United Nations agencies and organizations live up to their commitments to gender equality, the U.N. said in a statement.
U.N. Women will become operational on January 1, 2011.
|July 02, 2010
|Trial Begins Today Over Constitutionality of Healthcare Reform
(CitizenLink) Moments after President Obama signed the health-care legislation into law on March 23, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli filed a lawsuit to stop the new mandate.
The federal government argues the mandate to purchase health insurance falls under its purview under the Commerce Clause.
The Commerce Clause is an enumerated power listed in the United States Constitution (Article I, Section 8, Clause 3), and states that the U.S. Congress has power "To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes."
"The Commerce Clause has never been invoked to regulate non-activity before," said Ashley Shaw, federal analyst for CitizenLink. "Forcing people to purchase a product or service is not part of the Commerce Clause power, so states are rightfully taking action."
Judge Henry Hudson of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Richmond will decide whether the lawsuit can proceed. He has 30 days to make his decision.
If the case proceeds, the court will return on October 18. If the case is dismissed, Virginia will appeal.
The Virginia State Legislature passed a law this year – and that goes into effect today – that prevents mandating health care coverage for every individual.
Thirteen state attorneys general filed a separate lawsuit.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read more about why CitizenLink opposed the health care law.
|July 02, 2010
|Teenagers and Pregnancy
(Christian Post) A recently released survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control asked teenagers between 15 and 19 about their sexual conduct and attitudes. As National Public Radio put it, the survey showed “little change in the numbers of teens having sex, but it [showed] a big change in attitudes toward premarital sex.
While this “big change” has many experts dismayed, no one ought to be surprised. It is the inevitable outcome of our ideas about sex and teenagers.
The survey found that 42 percent of the teenagers surveyed had had sex at least once. That represented a slight drop from the last time teenagers were surveyed in 2002.
If the difference in the percentage of kids having sex was “statistically insignificant,” as the report said, other differences were anything but.
The one statistic that has gotten the most attention is a change in teen attitudes towards out-of-wedlock pregnancy. Between 2002 and 2008, the percentage of kids who agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “It is OK for an unmarried female to have a child” jumped from 50 to 64 percent. One quarter said that they “would be pleased if they or a partner had a baby.”
For 15 years prior to 2005, teen pregnancy rates declined. But since then, they’ve been rising gradually. The result is weeping and gnashing of teeth among the sexual education crowd.
In words of the CEO of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, “progress in reducing teen pregnancy has stalled.”
Well, if it’s “stalled” it’s because contemporary sexual education and efforts to prevent teen pregnancy are constrained by two very bad ideas: the first is a strong aversion to telling kids that sex outside of marriage is wrong.
Whether it’s because most adults nowadays don’t really believe it’s wrong, or because of their own sexual history, they will tell kids anything but this.
Parents will tell them to “be responsible” or tell them to “be safe” or even, under duress, tell them to postpone sex until some unspecified date. But too many adults won’t say, “Don’t do this until you are married.”
The other bad idea is treating teens like adults who, armed with “the facts,” will make the right choices. Any neurologist or social scientist or parent of a teenager will tell you that this isn’t so.
Education based on these bad ideas doesn’t stand a chance against an oversexed culture that regularly depicts celebrities as successful single moms.
What does stand a chance is faith-and the worldview it produces. Among teens who hadn’t had sex, the most common reasons were religious and moral beliefs. Faith and morals have replaced fear of pregnancy as the main reason kids abstain from sex.
That makes sense. Technology and culture have made it easier to prevent pregnancy and removed the stigma. That leaves what kids believe about right and wrong as the only effective restraint-not only against premarital sex but also against teen pregnancy.
If we won’t summon the courage to tell our kids the truth-that sex outside of marriage is wrong-then we may have to settle for them telling us even less pleasing news.
|July 01, 2010
|PayPal not much of a pal to Islam critics
(OneNewsNow) Two Islam watchdogs have terminated their relationships with a secure payment website after it tried to intimidate them for telling the truth about Islam.
Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer were using PayPal to collect secure donations for their websites, including Stop Islamization of America, the Freedom Defense Initiative ,and Geller`s blog Atlas Shrugs. But PayPal began to restrict donators` ability to give to those websites because it apparently objected to the sites` content. Spencer reports that that did not sit well with readers of Atlas Shrugs.
"The readers started to write in to PayPal and canceled their accounts, and there was such an avalanche of angry e-mails that they received that ultimately they backed off and they notified us that they would restore the accounts," he reports.
"But at this point, I`m not interested in that. I think that we don`t need to go hat in hand to people who are going to be buying into the leftist and Islamic supremacist lines that there`s something wrong with what we`re doing or that it`s racist or bigoted or all that nonsense," Spencer contends.
He goes on to explain that he and Geller have now switched all their sites, including his own Jihad Watch, to G-Pal, which was created by pro-Second Amendment rights advocates who were upset with PayPal`s discrimination against guns.
|July 01, 2010
|Report Explores Americans` Small Group, Church Involvement
(Christian Post) While Catholics make up a quarter of the worshippers in America each week, they are only a tenth of those who attend small groups, Sunday School and volunteer in the church, a new report shows.
The most involved believers, meanwhile, are Protestants associated with an evangelical denomination, the Barna Group found.
The research group, based in Ventura, Calif., explored Americans who are active believers, particularly through group activities such as church attendance, small groups, Sunday School, volunteering and house churches.
Those who attend a church that has an attendance of 500 or more are among the most likely to participate in small groups, house churches and volunteer activities. Americans in the South make up half the nation`s small group attenders – who meet regularly for Bible study, prayer or Christian fellowship – and a majority of Sunday School attenders.
Women, older adults and married Americans drive most "group faith" participation. Still, 44 percent of weekly churchgoers are aged 18 to 44.
"There certainly is a dominant demographic faith profile of Christians in the nation," said David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group, in the report. "The typical profile of an involved Christian is a married woman in her early fifties."
Married persons make up two-thirds of those who attend church, go to small groups and participate in Sunday School. Also, nearly seven in 10 church volunteers are married.
Those who have never been married make up less than one-fifth of active worshippers.
Singles, however, are just as likely as married adults to be involved in a house church, which the Barna Group defines as an independent meeting that is self-governed and not part of a typical church.
Active churchgoers, small group attenders and volunteers are likely to be either politically conservative or moderate. A quarter of house church attenders, however, are political liberals.
Interestingly, the report points out, those associated with a mainline denomination represented an above-average percentage of house church participants and church volunteers.
African-Americans were found to be more engaged in group activities than white believers, accounting for 27 percent of small group participants and 30 percent of house church attenders.
The data is based on 10 nationwide studies, each with at least 1,000 interviews, conducted during the last 24 months.
|July 01, 2010
|`.XXX` Domain Advances; Critics Doubt Cleaner Web
(Christian Post) Pornography sites will have the option to move from the .com to .xxx domain by early 2011, or sooner, according to ICM Registry, the group that proposed the .xxx domain.
Although arguments have been made that creating a domain specifically for porn will help clean up the Web, critics are doubtful it will have much positive effect. Moving to the .xxx domain is voluntary, critics point out, which means that .com sites will not be porn free.
And some companies can now maintain both a .com and .xxx domain address.
“[E]ven if soft porn sites like Playboy or Penthouse chose to convert their primary domain to XXX, each would still own the dot-Com and dot-Net equivalents and redirect them to the dot-XXX domain to ensure that the user reaches their site no matter what he/she enters in the web browser,” explained Craig Gross, founder of XXXChurch.com.
The .xxx domain would be a great idea if it was mandatory to move all porn sites over to it, Gross noted.
“This is not the case though,” he wrote on the XXXChurch.com website. “Now, what will happen is just more porn.”
Morality in Media, which was founded to combat obscenity in the media, came to a similar conclusion.
The group’s president, Robert Peters, said the .xxx domain will not succeed in protecting children from online exposure to hardcore porn because first and foremost it is a voluntary system. Maintaining sites within both domains is advantageous to commercial pornographers.
Peters also highlighted that many online porn providers are opposed to the .xxx domain because they fear government regulation and are concerned with having their sites easily blocked by parents, employers and governments.
“What the world needs now is not a safe and profitable haven for pornographers but rather a concerted effort to protect children, families and communities from pornographers,” said Peters.
ICM Registry said it already has 110,000 pre-reservations for .xxx domain and expects the number to increase with ICANN’s formal approval of their application.
ICANN had rejected similar proposals for creating a .xxx domain in 2006 and 2007. In 2000, the .xxx domain was among those rejected by ICANN out of a long list submitted by ICM.
The .xxx sites will not go live until after ICANN conducts a “due diligence” study of ICM’s business and operational plans for the domain.
|July 01, 2010
|Battle Escalates over Homeschooled Child Seized by Swedish Govt
(LifeSiteNews.com) Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) and the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) filed an application with the European Court of Human Rights Friday asking it to hear the case of a 7-year-old boy seized by Swedish authorities because his parents homeschool.
“Parents have the right and authority to make decisions regarding their children’s education without government interference,” said ADF Legal Counsel Roger Kiska, who is based in Europe. “A government trying to create a cookie-cutter child in its own image should not be allowed to violate this basic and fundamental human right."
"The refusal of Swedish authorities to respect that right has left us no choice but to take this case to the European Court of Human Rights.”
Swedish authorities forcibly removed Dominic Johansson from his parents, Christer and Annie Johansson, in June 2009 after the family had boarded a plane to move to Annie’s home country of India. The officials did not have a warrant nor have they charged the Johanssons with any crime. The officials, say ADF lawyers, seized the child because they believe homeschooling is inappropriate and insist the government should raise Dominic instead.
Social services authorities have placed Dominic in foster care and a government school. Christer and Annie are only allowed to visit their son for one hour every five weeks.
“We are gravely concerned about this case as it represents what can happen to other home-schooling families," explained HSLDA lawyer Mike Donnelly, one of nearly 1700 attorneys in the ADF alliance. “In response to our inquiries, Swedish authorities have cited the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child to explain and defend their actions. If the U.S. were to ever ratify this treaty, as the White House and some members of Congress have expressed a desire to do, then this sort of thing could occur here.”
ADF and HSLDA attorneys decided to file Johansson v. Sweden with the ECHR when the Supreme Administrative Court of Sweden refused to review a lower court’s December 2009 ruling in Johansson v. Gotland Social Services that found that the government was within its rights to seize the child.
The lower court cited the fact that Dominic had not been vaccinated as a reason to remove him permanently from his parents and also repeated the charges that homeschoolers do not perform well academically and are not well socialized. HSLDA and ADF said that these latter charges are “provably false.”
|July 01, 2010
|U.S. Supreme Court Rules Gay, Diversity Rights Override Religious Freedom
(LifeSiteNews.com) The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a Christian student group does not have the right to restrict its membership to practicing Christians, in a decision Christian rights groups are calling a significant blow to religious freedom.
The court decided 5-4 Monday in the case Christian Legal Society v. Martinez to uphold a California law school’s denial of official recognition of a Christian student group. The Christian group refused to agree to let non-Christians and those engaging in a "sexually immoral lifestyle" to become voting members or leaders.
The case has received national interest as the guidelines, which bar openly-practicing homosexuals from the group, came to be perceived as discrimination against homosexuals.
The majority decision, authored by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, ruled that the UC Hastings College of Law`s decision was a fair application of its anti-discrimination policy. In what may set a grim precedent, the liberals on the court upheld the "rights" of non-discrimination according to sexual orientation over rights of religious freedom by comparing Christian beliefs to racist beliefs: Justice John Paul Stevens asked, "What if the belief is that African-Americans are inferior?"
The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which filed an amicus brief in the case representing numerous Christian campus organizations, called the outcome an "extremely disappointing decision" that "significantly damages the constitutional rights of religious organizations."
"The majority of the Supreme Court missed the mark in understanding that it is fundamental to religious freedom that religious groups are free to define their own mission, select their own leaders and determine their own membership criteria," said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ.
"By permitting a discriminatory decision by the federal appeals court to stand, the Supreme Court decision represents, as Justice Alito correctly concluded in the dissent, `a serious setback for freedom of expression in this country.` And, we, like Justice Alito, hope this decision will be an aberration and not a shift in First Amendment jurisprudence."
The case involved a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit siding with the Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco. Hastings denied official recognition to a student group – the Christian Legal Society (CLS) – after CLS said it could not abide by the school’s non-discrimination policy. That policy forbids student groups from discriminating on the basis of, among other things, "religion." CLS says its religious beliefs prevent non-Christians from exercising control over the group by becoming voting members or serving in leadership positions.
In a dissent written by Justice Samuel Alito, and joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia and Thomas, Justice Alito concluded that the majority decision "is a serious setback for freedom of expression in this country."
"Our First Amendment reflects a `profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open,`" wrote Justice Alito, citing the 1964 case New York Times Co. v. Sullivan. "Even if the United States is the only Nation that shares this commitment to the same extent, I would not change our law to conform to the international norm. I fear that the Court’s decision marks a turn in that direction. Even those who find CLS’s views objectionable should be concerned about the way the group has been treated - by Hastings, the Court of Appeals, and now this Court. I can only hope that this decision will turn out to be an aberration."
In its amicus brief filed at the high court, the ACLJ contended that religious groups are constitutionally protected in following their religious beliefs.
"Religious groups by their nature embrace religious principles and, as a matter of organizational identity and coherence, will normally require adherence to such principles as a criterion for membership and certainly for leadership," the brief asserted. "This is not `discrimination` but rather part and parcel of what defines them as religious groups. Wooden application of religious `non-discrimination` policies therefore forces religious groups to choose between their religious identity and access to the forum. That `choice` is an unconstitutional one between yielding to government intermeddling and no access at all. Far from a permissible condition on benefits, this is a choice that the government, under the Religion Clauses, has no business imposing on religious groups."
|July 01, 2010
|NH Church Wins Record Settlement in Discrimination Lawsuit
(CitizenLink) The Saint Benedict Center in Richmond, N.H. won an unprecedented $1.5 million settlement last Friday.
The lawsuit involved the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, a federal law protecting churches from discrimination disputes with local governments.
Town officials – who were on record disagreeing with the center`s stance on abortion, pornography and homosexual behavior – singled out the center by imposing more the 30 conditions related to the proposed building of a new church and school by the center.
"Churches shouldn`t be singled out for discrimination and penalized by a city`s zoning restrictions because of their religious viewpoint," said ADF senior legal counsel Doug Napier.
"It was right that Saint Benedict Center was compensated for years of unconstitutional restrictions that made it impossible to finish the construction of its church and school building," he said.
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|July 01, 2010
|Abortion budget cuts upset NJ Dems
(OneNewsNow) Because of a tight budget, New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie has taken action on state spending for abortion facilities by eliminating their funding.
While that has prompted objections from the pro-abortion community, Len Deo, president of the New Jersey Family Policy Council (NJFPC), points out that pro-life pregnancy centers have not received a dime.
"Planned Parenthood, if they believe that their programs are so valuable, they should go out and raise their own funding, just like most non-profits have to do," Deo contends. "And for them to be government-subsidized, we think, frankly is disingenuous."
Democrats are introducing legislation to reinstate those eliminated funds, but the NJFPC president does not believe that will settle well with many voters.
"I think that`s obviously something that`s going to be a battle, and this legislature is heavily controlled by the Democrats," he notes. "But I also think that whatever they do, they do so at their peril, because they`re all up for re-election in 2011."
Deo further thinks it unlikely that there will be sufficient votes to override a veto, should the legislature pass such a bill.
|July 01, 2010
|School Officials in Mass. Town Won`t Let Students Recite Pledge of Allegiance
(FoxNews) When Sean Harrington entered his freshman year at Arlington High School, he noticed something peculiar: There were no American flags in the classrooms, and no one recited the Pledge of Allegiance.
So Harrington enlisted the aid of his fellow students, and now, three years later, they have succeeded in getting flags installed in the classrooms. But the pledge still will not be recited.
The Arlington, Mass., school committee has rejected the 17-year-old`s request to allow students to voluntarily recite the Pledge of Allegiance, because some educators are concerned that it would be hard to find teachers willing to recite it, according to a report in the Arlington Patch.
Harrington had presented school officials with a petition signed by 700 people, along with letters of support from lawmakers including Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn.
But the request to have the pledge recited failed when the committee`s vote ended in a 3-3 tie.
"I was really heartbroken," Harrington told FOX News Radio. "It`s hard to think that something so traditional in American society was turned down."
His fight has received quite a bit of support from the community. "When I was going to school, it was an honor and a privilege to pledge allegiance to the flag," Francis De Guglielmo, 55, told the Patch. He called the ban an "absolute travesty" and a "disgrace."
Harrington, who will be a senior in the fall, said he will continue to fight. "I`m not a person who quits and I don`t back down. It`s a very righteous cause and needs to be followed through until the end."
Some committee members voiced concerns about forcing people to do something that might violate their beliefs – including religious beliefs. Among the no-votes was committee member Leba Heigham.
"Patriotism is a very personal thing for all of us, but I do not think it is in the school committee`s best interest to mandate that any of our employees recite the pledge," she told the Patch.
Harrington said the recitation would have been strictly voluntary.
"If we can`t find one teacher who is willing to say the pledge, then the system we have is cracked," he told FOX News Radio, noting that a number of teachers signed his petition.
He said the school`s ban on the pledge sends the wrong message. "It tells me that we`ve basically cast aside what our country is founded on," he said. "It`s saying that we don`t really care, and it`s sad."
Arlington`s superintendent of schools did not return a call for comment.
|July 01, 2010
|Euthanasia weighs evenly on U.S. morality scale
(OneNewsNow) Gallup`s most recent "Values and Beliefs" survey shows an even split among Americans on the issue of doctor-assisted suicide.
While Americans find abortion morally wrong by a 50-to-38 percent margin, the poll shows they are split evenly (46% to 46%) when it comes to euthanasia. Rita Marker, president of the International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide (ITF), explains that does not mean more people are siding with proponents of assisted suicide.
"Two years ago, 51 percent found it to be morally acceptable. It`s gone down five percentage points," she reports. "The same way in 2008: 44 percent thought it was wrong; now 46 percent think it`s wrong. So since 2003, it has not been this much of a drop."
That means that over the past seven years, fewer people are finding the practice acceptable. Marker points out that there were higher rates for doctor-assisted suicide in previous polls when the question was acceptability on the basis of pain when nothing further could be done for a terminal illness.
"But...none of the proposals that have been presented ever have said people have to be in pain," she points out. "When people begin to recognize...that it`s just a diagnosis -- or as I say, misdiagnosis -- of a prediction on how long they have to live, that`s the only thing that`s required. It doesn`t have anything to do with pain."
So she concludes that this "misdiagnosis" has led people down a slippery slope to suicide for no legitimate reason. For example, people in Europe obtain help to end their lives for depression, which can be treated. Likewise, a spouse choosing to die at the same time their ailing mate commits suicide may seek assisted suicide.
But realizing the divide among Americans on pro-life issues, advocates are working to change the hearts and minds by insisting that issues be framed properly.
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