Bill to Silence Free Speech Narrowly Passes in House, Heads to Senate
(CitizenLink) The Supreme Court has held that political expression is "at the core of our electoral process and of First Amendment freedoms.
Nevertheless, the House narrowly passed the DISCLOSE Act on Thursday – a bill that would silence political expression – by a vote of 219-206.
The bill was recently introduced to reinstate portions of the McCain-Feingold law that was struck down by the Supreme Court.
Thirty-six Democrats, primarily located in conservative districts, sided with all the republicans – except Rep. Joseph Cao from Louisiana and Rep. Michael Castle from Delaware – to vote against the bill.
According to the Madison Center for Free Speech, "Freedom of speech and association were viewed by the Framers of the Constitution as essential to democracy. The courts have repeatedly ruled that `freedom of speech plays a fundamental role in a democracy...(I)t "is the matrix, the indispensable condition of nearly every other freedom." (T)he First Amendment right to "speak one`s mind…on all public institutions` includes the right to engage in "vigorous advocacy` no less than abstract discussion.`"
The center also notes that the "advocacy of the election or defeat of candidates for federal office is no less entitled to protection under the First Amendment than the discussion of political policy generally or advocacy of the passage or defeat of legislation."
The bill now heads to the Senate. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is committed to bring the bill up for a vote.
June 29, 2010
Wisconsin Court Tells Lesbian: Legal Adoption, Not ‘Nurturing,’ Gives Parental Rights
(LifeSiteNews.com) A Wisconsin appeals court has ruled against a woman seeking joint custody of her former lesbian partner’s adopted children, saying that only legal adoptive status, not years of caretaking, provide parental rights.
The District 4 Court of Appeals ruled against a woman identified in court documents as Wendy M., who was seeking legal guardianship of two children whom her partner, identified as Liz K., had adopted from Guatemala.
“Wisconsin law neither provides for joint adoption of a child by an unmarried couple, nor permits same-sex couples to marry. Thus, gay and lesbian couples in close, committed relationships cannot jointly adopt a child,” observed the court.
Wendy and Liz had lived together for seven years before adopting Olivia and Sofia. The court record states that the couple had decided that Liz would be the legal adoptive parent of the children, instead of Wendy, because she was a practicing attorney and could add Olivia and Sofia to her health insurance. Over the next five years, Wendy stayed at home with the children, while Liz provided financially.
However, the women split and Liz retained legal custody of the children. While they have maintained an “informal” parenting relationship, Liz refused to give Wendy guardianship status after an incident involving Wendy as she was taking care of the children. The nature of the incident is not mentioned in the court record.
Wendy then sought the court to coerce Liz into giving her guardianship status, arguing that she was a parent under the “ordinary usage” of the term as defined by the American Heritage Dictionary (2006), which includes “one who … nurtures and raises a child.”
The court, however, said that the “application of a dictionary definition of parent is inappropriate” and that statutory definitions, not dictionary entries, are the ones that matter in Wisconsin law.
“The term ‘parent’ is defined … as ‘either a biological parent … or a parent by adoption,’ a definition that plainly excludes Wendy,” the court stated.
They also cited state supreme court precedent set by Barstad v. Frazier, which ruled that having a relationship with a child was not sufficient criteria to bestow parental rights over the objections of a fit parent. Only if Liz were “drastically” harming the welfare of her children, they said, would the state have a right to interfere.
A different story is playing out in a Vermont case, in which a lesbian with no biological relation to her ex-partner’s child convinced a court to award her parental rights despite lacking legal adoptive status.
In the Vermont Supreme Court, lawyers in the custody fight are now disputing district court Judge Richard Cohen`s decision to strip ex-lesbian Lisa Miller of all parental rights to her 8-year-old daughter Isabella, whom she conceived by artificial insemination. Miller`s former partner Janet Jenkins sued and successfully received the right to unsupervised visits with Isabella. Miller decided to defy the courts and cut off contact between Jenkins and Isabella after Isabella complained that she wanted to kill herself following the visits, and had been forced to bathe naked with Jenkins. After being ordered to hand custody of Isabella over to Jenkins, Miller disappeared last year with her daughter in tow. No one has reported having had contact with Miller since November 20 at the latest.
June 28, 2010
3X More Drunk Teens: Loving and Firm vs. Loving but Indulgent Parenting
(LifeSiteNews.com) Parenting style strongly and directly affects teens when it comes to heavy drinking – defined as having five or more drinks in a row – according to a new Brigham Young University study.
The researchers surveyed nearly 5,000 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 19 about their drinking habits and their relationship with their parents. Specifically, they examined parents` levels of accountability – knowing where their children spend their time and with whom – and the warmth they share with their kids.
Here`s what they found:
- The teens least prone to heavy drinking had parents who scored high on both accountability and warmth.
- So-called "indulgent" parents, those low on accountability and high on warmth, nearly tripled the risk of their teen participating in heavy drinking.
- "Strict" parents – high on accountability and low on warmth – more than doubled their teen`s risk of heavy drinking.
Prior research on parenting style and teen drinking was a mixed bag, showing modest influence at best. Unlike previous research, this study distinguished between any alcohol consumption and heavy drinking.
"While parents didn`t have much of an effect on whether their teens tried alcohol, they can have a significant impact on the more dangerous type of drinking," said Stephen Bahr, a professor in BYU`s College of Family, Home and Social Sciences.
Bahr, along with co-author John Hoffmann, will publish the study in the July issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
The statistical analysis also showed that religious teens were significantly less likely to drink at all. That mirrors findings from the 2008 study Bahr and Hoffmann conducted on teen religiosity and marijuana use.
Not surprisingly, a teen`s peers play an important role on whether a teen consumes any alcohol. The BYU researchers note that teens in this new study were more likely to have non-drinking friends if their parents scored high on warmth and accountability.
"The adolescent period is kind of a transitional period and parents sometimes have a hard time navigating that," Bahr said. "Although peers are very important, it`s not true that parents have no influence."
Hoffman advised parents to "Realize you need to have both accountability and support in your relationship with your adolescent." He concluded, "Make sure that it`s not just about controlling their behavior – you need to combine knowing how they spend their time away from home with a warm, loving relationship."
June 28, 2010
German Court Legalizes Euthanasia
(LifeSiteNews.com) In a surprise move, the German Federal Court of Justice has legalized direct euthanasia, ruling that an attempted direct euthanization of a comatose woman was not unlawful since she had given consent.
“The expressed wishes of the patient ... justified not only the end of treatment via the withholding of further nourishment but also the active step of ending or preventing the treatment she no longer wanted,” the court said.
The ruling in the case of “Erika K” overturns a previous conviction for manslaughter of a lawyer who advised the daughter of a comatose woman in her 70s to cut her mother’s feeding tube with a pair of scissors, after nursing home staff had refused to remove it.
A lower court acquitted the daughter of killing her mother because she had “mistakenly” followed her lawyer`s advice. The lawyer, Wolfgang Putz, was convicted and given a nine month suspended sentence. The government prosecutor had been asking the court for a stronger sentence.
Putz’s lawyer had argued that the use of a gastric tube is “forced treatment” that the daughter had a right to terminate according to the known will of her mother.
Although Chancellor Angela Merkel has previously stated that she opposes any form of assisted suicide, the decision was welcomed by her government. Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said, “In a difficult phase of life, wills by patients provide safety for patients, relatives, doctors and nurses.”
“The will freely formulated by a human being must be respected in all circumstances of life.”
In countries that have already legalized euthanasia, such “safeguards” as living wills are often cited by euthanasia campaigners as means of avoiding abuse of power by doctors and nurses. Nevertheless, reports from Belgium and the Netherlands increasingly show that patients are regularly being killed without any form of consent.
In May this year, a report published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that over 30% of reported euthanasia cases in one region of Belgium were carried out without the consent of the patient.
In 2003, the Netherlands became the first country in the world after the downfall of the Nazi regime to legalize euthanasia. In the last two years, they have seen a sudden rise in euthanasia cases, with 2636 reported euthanasia deaths in 2009, a 13% increase from 2008. In 2005, one study estimated that cases of involuntary euthanasia, in which doctors do not follow the legal procedure to gain consent of the patient or family, account for about 550 deaths in the Netherlands each year.
Dr. Els Borst, the former Dutch health minister and deputy prime minister who guided the country’s euthanasia law through parliament, has lamented the increase in euthanasia cases and said that it has effectively destroyed the country’s palliative care system.
The issue of direct euthanasia of disabled patients is particularly sensitive in Germany, whose National Socialist regime carried out mass killings of patients in the years building up to the Second World War. In the so-called Aktion T-4 program, the government sanctioned the killing of thousands of orphans and mentally ill and disabled patients in the care of the state who were considered “life unworthy of life.” Many of the children faced death by starvation.
June 25, 2010
Legal Group to Defend Church Reported to IRS
(Christian Post) Alliance Defend Fund, which launched the Pulpit Initiative in 2008 to defend the right of pastors to speak freely from the pulpit, agreed to represent Liberty Baptist Tabernacle. The Americans United for Separation of Church and State had reported the church to the IRS on June 10 in an attempt to remove the church’s tax-exempt status after its pastor voiced support for a gubernatorial candidate.
“Pastors and churches shouldn’t live in fear of being punished or penalized by the government, yet that’s precisely what Americans United wants,” said ADF senior legal counsel Erik Stanley, in a statement. “Under the First Amendment, a pastor, not the IRS, determines what his sermon will say.”
The AU and similar groups have tried to spark IRS investigations to silence churches through fear and intimidation.
“It’s a contradiction for groups that say they believe in ‘separation of church and state’ to say it’s the role of the IRS to decide what pastors can talk about in church without being investigated,” Stanley said.
The Pulpit Initiative is part of a broader effort by ADF called the Church Project, which was launched earlier in 2010 to protect churches from “excessive” and “unconstitutional” government intrusion.
Some of the objectives of the Church Project is to alert and educate pastors and ministry leaders nationwide about the forces working to limit religious freedom in America; to equip the leaders with the legal information, resources, and support to defend their freedom; and to help ensure churches can remain free to govern themselves.
In 1954, Congress passed a tax code amendment by then Sen.-Lyndon Johnson that prohibits any speech about a political candidate.
But Stanley said, the “IRS rules don’t trump the Constitution, and the First Amendment certainly trumps the Johnson Amendment.”
“No tax exemption can ever be contingent upon someone giving up a constitutional right,” he said. “We will continue to monitor this situation and take appropriate steps to defend the church (Liberty Baptist Tabernacle), if necessary.”
The third annual Pulpit Freedom Sunday, part of the Pulpit Initiative, will take place on Sept. 26. On Pulpit Freedom Sunday, participating pastors preach biblically-based sermons at their churches about the positions of electoral candidates and current government officials.
June 25, 2010
Nearly Half of Americans View Government a Threat to Liberties
(CitizenLink) A Rasmussen Reports survey finds 48 percent of Americans consider government to be a threat to their individual rights.
Rick Manning, communications director for Americans for Limited Government, said this should not be a surprise. In fact, it was foreseen by the Founding Fathers.
"The entire Bill of Rights was passed because our Founding Fathers were fearful that the government would encroach upon individual rights," he said.
The report also referenced correlating data released earlier this week, indicating that 62 percent believe politicians want the government to have more power and money, while 58 percent of the voters want them to have less.
Manning said the public`s growing rejection of government growth should be recognized by the Obama administration.
"They`re worried about encroaching on private property; they`re worried about encroaching on their ability to get a job; they`re worried that government is getting too big, too fast and needs to be reined in," he said.
The survey additionally found 52 percent of Americans believe it is more important for government to protect individual rights than promote economic growth.
No Secrecy for Those Who Petitioned to Repeal Washington’s ‘Gay Marriage’ Law
(AP) The U.S. Supreme Court says people who signed a petition to repeal Washington State`s gay rights law do not have the right to keep their names secret from the public.
The high court on Thursday ruled against Protect Marriage Washington, which organized a petition drive for a public vote to repeal the state`s "everything-but-marriage" gay rights law.
Petition signers wanted to hide their names because of worries of intimidation. But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco refused to keep their names secret. The Supreme Court stepped in and temporarily blocked release of the names until the high court could make a decision.
June 24, 2010
Report: Young Evangelicals, Progressives Have Connection Points
(Christian Post) There are “significant opportunities” for young white evangelicals and progressives to find common ground on hot-button social issues, a new report shows.
Young white evangelicals under the age of 35 are less likely than older evangelicals to identify themselves as conservative and are more supportive of government solutions to social problems, according to the report “Beyond the God Gap: A New Roadmap for Reaching Religious Americans on Public Policy Issues” by Third Way and Public Religion Research.
They are also more supportive of legal recognitions for gay and lesbian couples.
“We do not pretend that bridging these divides will be easy. But there is more commonality than is often expected, and with commonality, there is opportunity,” said the report’s authors.
Third Way is a moderate think tank of the progressive movement based in Washington, D.C., that tries to find new approaches to difficult problems, including how religious conservatives and progressives can find ways to work together.
The group, along with PRR, found that there was a significant generational difference among white evangelicals on gay and lesbian issues.
Young white evangelicals were more than twice as likely as the overall white evangelical population to support same-sex marriage, 24 percent to 10 percent. The portion of young white evangelicals that support allowing gay and lesbian partners to marry is still relatively small but shows significant changes compared to their predecessors.
They were slightly more supportive of civil unions for same-sex couples (28 percent) than they were of gay marriage. Notably, however, there is no real difference in support for civil unions between young white evangelicals and the overall white evangelical population (27 percent).
Overall, a majority (52 percent) of young white evangelicals support either civil union or marriage between people of the same sex. By comparison, only 37 percent of the overall evangelical population share the same view.
Both the overall white evangelical and young white evangelical population showed a significant jump in support of same-sex marriage if given religious liberty assurance that “no church or congregation would be required to perform marriages for gay couples.”
The white evangelical support jumped from 10 to 20 percent, and the young white evangelical support from 24 percent to 35 percent.
While evangelicals of all ages are still overall opposed to legal recognition of same-sex couples, less than half of young white evangelicals would identify themselves as politically conservative (47 percent), according to the Pew Forum Religious Landscape Study in 2007. The majority of evangelicals as a whole (56 percent) identify themselves as politically conservative.
PRR and Third Way also found that unlike older evangelicals (age 65 or older), the younger generation (age 18 to 29) is more likely to support bigger government (58 percent to 25 percent).
And because of their faith emphasis on individualism in terms of personal relationship with God and responsibility for sins, evangelicals tend to carry that outlook over to their political view. Most evangelicals as a whole still prefer a small government (53 percent).
Young white evangelicals are more likely than older evangelicals to support government providing more social services.
The report, released Wednesday, also includes studies on the views and attitudes of mainline Protestants, African American Protestants and Roman Catholics with the aim of helping those unfamiliar with people of faith to move beyond stereotypes and find common causes on policy issues.
June 24, 2010
The Intended Consequences of `Pride` Month
(CitizenLink) Not since the Clinton era has an administration worked so intently and surreptitiously to normalize an ideology and agenda that is proven contrary to the beliefs of a majority of Americans – and which has begun to challenge the very essence of religious freedom and free speech.
During a White House reception held Monday evening to celebrate "Gay Pride" month, President Obama reiterated his administration`s accomplishments and commitment to aggressively implement this powerful donor block`s priorities.
"We`ve got a lot of hard work that we still have to do, but we can already point to extraordinary progress that we`ve made over the past year on behalf of Americans who are gay and lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT)," Obama said.
Also on Monday, the secretary of state and of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced policy shifts affirming homosexuality.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking to more than a thousand GLBT federal employees, said, "Human rights are gay rights and gay rights are human rights. Here at the State Department, we will continue to advance a comprehensive human rights agenda that includes the elimination of violence and discrimination based sexual orientation and gender identity."
Clinton also took the opportunity to announce the inclusion of gender identity in the department`s equal employment protocols.
In a letter to major hospitals that participate in Medicaid and Medicare, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius urged hospitals to bypass normal rulemaking procedures and "voluntarily support" Obama`s executive directive to grant same-sex visitation rights.
The proposed rules are supposed to be available for public comment for 60 days and then finalized after the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has read and considered the comments.
These trends concern CitizenLink policy analyst Caleb Price, who said people should not to take these incremental changes lightly.
"The normalization and celebration of homosexuality and transgenderism IS a big deal," said Price. "This movement calls for the complete and utter deconstruction of human sex, sexuality, marriage and family."
"Most Americans are not fully on board -- or even aware -- that the president is using every tool at his disposal to work behind the scenes to implement this agenda," said Price. "Yet, Obama is bringing about further confusion to us and the next generation on the building blocks for a healthy and thriving society."
Price advised voters not to lose sight of these core social and moral issues while focusing on economic issues this November.
"To do so, would be at their peril," he said.
"God has made it clear in His Word that He will not bless a nation economically when its citizens have turned their backs on not only Him," said Price, "but also His design for creation and humans who bear His image as male and female."
New England Journal of Medicine: Blindness Reversed in Dozens of Patients By Adult—NOT EMBRYONIC—Stem Cell Therapy
This image froman Italian study published online Wednesday, June 23, 2010 by the New England Journal of Medicine shows the eyes of three patients with alkali burns before and after successful stem cell transplants. (AP Photo/New England Journal of Medicine)
(CNSNews) Dozens of people who were blinded or otherwise suffered severe eye damage when they were splashed with caustic chemicals had their sight restored with transplants of their own stem cells--a stunning success for the burgeoning cell-therapy field, Italian researchers reported Wednesday.
The treatment worked completely in 82 of 107 eyes and partially in 14 others, with benefits lasting up to a decade so far. One man whose eyes were severely damaged more than 60 years ago now has near-normal vision.
“This is a roaring success,” said ophthalmologist Dr. Ivan Schwab of the University of California, Davis, who had no role in the study--the longest and largest of its kind.
Stem cell transplants offer hope to the thousands of people worldwide every year who suffer chemical burns on their corneas from heavy-duty cleansers or other substances at work or at home.
The approach would not help people with damage to the optic nerve or macular degeneration, which involves the retina. Nor would it work in people who are completely blind in both eyes, because doctors need at least some healthy tissue that they can transplant.
In the study, published online by the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers took a small number of stem cells from a patient`s healthy eye, multiplied them in the lab and placed them into the burned eye, where they were able to grow new corneal tissue to replace what had been damaged. Since the stem cells are from their own bodies, the patients do not need to take anti-rejection drugs.
Adult stem cells have been used for decades to cure blood cancers such as leukemia and diseases like sickle cell anemia. But fixing a problem like damaged eyes is a relatively new use. Researchers have been studying cell therapy for a host of other diseases, including diabetes and heart failure, with limited success.
(FoxNews) Parents are outraged after young teenagers were instructed on graphic sexual acts during a Planned Parenthood sex education class at the local high school in Shenandoah, Iowa.
“It was horribly inappropriate,” Colleen Dostal told Fox News Radio. “To do that in a mixed-gender classroom, — I truly believe it was inappropriate.”
Dostal’s 14-year-old son was one of a handful of eighth graders in the class. The students, she said, were given instruction on how to perform female exams and the instructor used a 3-D, anatomically correct male sex organ to explain how to use a condom.
But Dostal said she was most upset over the instructor simulating sexual acts using stuffed animals designed to resemble STD’s.
“I do not understand why any adult with a classroom of children would show them sexual positions,” she told Fox News Radio. “I think that’s horribly inappropriate.”
As for the photographs, “I believe some of those photos were pornographic,” she said.
“Had we known this was going on, I would have sat in the classroom or I would have pulled him out,” Dostal said.
She took her concerns to the principal, who Dostal said was “mortified.” The principal apologized but several other parents decided to take the issue to the school superintendent.
“I understand it’s a state law that sex education be taught but it is also state mandated that parents be told that this is going to happen and we were not told.”
Superintendent Dick Profit told the World Herald he received an equal number of calls supporting and opposing the Planned Parenthood presentation.
“It’s a political hot potato; it’s a religious hot potato; it’s a parental hot potato,” he told the newspaper. “It’s all of these things that cause a crack in the system between society, parents and schools, and we’re still required to do it.”
Planned Parenthood’s Jennifer Horner defended the class and said some of the material had been turned around.
"We are not trying to keep any of this a secret,” Horner told the newspaper. “All information we use is medically accurate and science based.”
Profit said next year parents and guardians will receive advanced warning about the class. But that may not satisfy parents like Scott Gray, whose 16-year-old son was in the class.
“As far as we were concerned, it wasn’t sex ed, it was sex demonstration,” he told the World Herald.
June 23, 2010
Truck Drivers Find God at Mobile Chapel
(Christian Post) Daniel Mullins walked awkwardly into the middle of Sunday service at the Wilco Travel Plaza mobile chapel, looking confused and worn out.
He wore a red and black, long-sleeved flannel shirt with a large rip in the back despite the 80 degree summer heat. His eyes were sunken in and his shoulders slumped as if beaten by the world.
“Something just brought me here, I don’t know why,” said Mullins, 47, a truck driver who made an unplanned visit to the Transport for Christ mobile chapel in Harrisburg, Pa., on Sunday.
After spending an hour talking to a chaplain, Mullins emerged from the back room of the 18-wheeler-truck-turned-mobile-chapel with a sheepish smile on his face.
“It was like a weight took off my shoulders,” he explained about his smile and straightened back.
Mullins is among the expected 60 to 70 truck drivers who come or rededicate their lives to Christ each year at the TFC mobile chapel in Harrisburg. There, truck drivers find refuge from loneliness and temptations in a chapel manned by chaplains 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“We never lock our door, our lights are never off,” David Roberts, the main chaplain at the Wilco mobile chapel, said proudly.
There are 33 mobile chapels in the United States and Canada, four in Russia, and ones being set up in Zambia and Australia. The Harrisburg mobile chapel is the first permanent TFC site in the United States.
Thomas More Law Center Represents Four Christian Missionaries Arrested at Arab Festival in Dearborn
(Thomas More Law Center) In what some have described as police enforcement of Sharia law at the annual Dearborn Arab International Festival, last Friday night Dearborn Police Officers arrested four Christian missionaries and illegally confiscated their video cameras which were recording the events surrounding their arrests. The Thomas More Law Center, a public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, today announced it is representing all of the Christian missionaries.
Arrested on charges of Breach of the Peace are: Negeen Mayel, Dr. Nabeel Qureshi, Paul Rezkalla, and David Wood. Mayel, an eighteen year old female, whose parents emigrated from Afghanistan and a recent convert from Islam to Christianity, was also charged with failure to obey a police officer’s orders. She was approximately 100 feet away and videotaping a discussion with some Muslims when her camera was seized.
Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, commented, “These Christian missionaries were exercising their Constitutional rights to free speech and the free exercise of religion, but apparently the Constitution carries little weight in Dearborn, where the Muslim population seems to dominate the political apparatus. It’s apparent that these arrests were a retaliatory action over the embarrassing video of the strong arm tactics used last year by Festival Security Guards. This time, the first thing police officers did before making the arrests was to confiscate the video cameras in order to prevent a recording of what was actually happening.”
Thompson continued, “Contrary to the comments made by Police Chief Ron Haddad, our Constitution does not allow police to ban the right of free speech just because there are some hecklers. Not all police officers approve of the way their department treated these Christians.” Robert Muise, Senior Trial Counsel with the Law Center in charge of the case, yesterday faxed a letter to Chief Haddad demanding that the three video cameras and tapes illegally seized from the missionaries be immediately returned.
The Law Center is also representing Pastor George Saeig who was prohibited by the Festival and Police authorities from distributing religious material at last year’s festival. That case is ongoing.
June 21, 2010
HPV Vaccine Blamed for Teen`s Paralysis
(FoxNews) Gardasil certainly made headlines in 2006 when the Food and Drug Administration approved it as a vaccine against four strains of the human papillomavirus, or HPV, which can cause cervical cancer.
HPV can be transmitted sexually, so many parents decided to give the vaccination to their teenaged daughters.
Now, Gardasil is making headlines again. This time, the drug’s manufacturer is under scrutiny as the vaccine’s recipients are complaining of ill side effects.
There have been more than 7,800 complaints about Gardasil since the Food and Drug Administration approved it two years ago, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Complaints have included nausea, blood clots, genital warts, paralysis and even death.
The CDC said the deaths are not linked to Gardasil.
Merck is standing by its product, insisting it is safe.
“I think of all the vaccines out there, this has been thoroughly tested prior to release,” said Dr. Manny Alvarez, managing health editor of FOXNews.com. “This is a vaccine that helps protect women from a very deadly disease. Therefore the benefits fully outweigh any side effect that has been found so far.
"However, I do believe that with any medication, constant surveillance of complications need to be monitored aggressively and in extreme cases, like this one, thorough investigations are necessary.”
The family of one teenager – who is only going by the name of Jenny – told CBS News Monday that their daughter was healthy until 15 months ago when she received the third installment of the vaccine.
Jenny’s parents said it was soon after that final shot that Jenny began to experience signs of degenerative muscle disease, and she is now almost completely paralyzed.
“There may be a link. But, there is no medical consensus on whether this hypothesis is stronger than other possible explanations,” said the parents of Jenny, 13, who lives in Northern California.
“Based on the facts we’ve received, the information does not suggest that this event was casually associated with vaccination.”
Since the drug was approved, eight million females have received the vaccination.
Alvarez also noted that vaccines respond differently to the each individual’s immune system.
June 21, 2010
Middle Class--Not the Rich or the Poor--Pay Majority of Federal Taxes, Says CBO Data
(CNSNews.com) Middle-class Americans--not the rich or the poor--pay the majority of annual tax revenues taken in by the federal government, according to data released in a new Congressional Budget Office study. Households earning less than $34,300 per year, meanwhile, actually pay a negative average federal income tax rate.
Middle-class households that earned between $34,300 and $141,900 paid 50.5 percent of all federal tax revenues in 2007 (the most recent year analyzed), according to the CBO study released Thursday, and households that earned between $34,300 and $352,900 paid 66.7 percent of all federal taxes.
Households in the top 1 percent for annual income (those earning more than $352,900) paid a healthy 28.1 percent of all federal taxes, but households in the lower income brackets paid relatively little. Those earning less than $34,300 paid only 5.2 percent of all federal taxes, and those earning less than $20,500 carried almost none of the federal tax burden (just 0.8 percent of the total) in 2007.
The average overall federal tax rate (including income, Social Security, Medicare, excise and other taxes) for all American households was 20.4 percent in 2007. But the average rate rose dramatically as household income rose. Households earning less than $34,300 paid an average overall federal tax rate of 10.6 percent, while households earning more than $74,700 paid an average overall federal tax rate of almost two and half times that much--25.1 percent.
When it comes to the federal income tax alone (as opposed to Social Security, Medicare, excise and other taxes) the lower income brackets actually paid a negative rate, thanks to programs such as the Earned Income Tax Credit that paid people a “credit” for income taxes they never paid. The average federal income tax rate for households earning less than $34,300, according to the CBO, was -0.4 percent in 2007, and the average federal income tax rate for households earning less than $20,500 was -6.8 percent.
Over the past three decades, according to the CBO data, taxation has been getting more progressive, as the tax burden has lightened on lower income households while increasing on higher income households. During those three decades, Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush signed laws cutting the top marginal income tax rates, but Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton signed laws increasing the rates.
The CBO divided the 116.9 million American households of 2007 into five roughly equal parts (quintiles) graded by income. The income range for the lowest quintile was $0 to $20,500; the second quintile, $20,500 to $34,300; the third quintile, $34,300 to $50,000; the fourth quintile, $50,000 to $74,700; and the fifth quintile, $74,700 and above. The share of overall federal taxes paid by each of the first four quintiles decreased from 1979 to 2007, while the share of overall federal taxes paid by the highest-income quintile increased, meaning the overall tax burden was shifting away from that class of Americans making less than $74,700 per year in 2007 toward those earning more.
TAX BURDEN HAS GROWN LIGHTER ON LOWER INCOME HOUSEHOLDS, HEAVIER ON HIGHER Share of total federal tax burden paid by each income quintile, 1979-2007 (Income ranges: 1st Quintile:$0 to $20,500; 2nd Quintile, $20,500 to $34,300; 3rd Quintile, $34,300 to $50,000; 4th Quintile, $50,000 to $74,700; 5th Quintile, $74,700 and above.)
Louisiana Lawmakers Declare Statewide Day of Prayer
(Christian Post) A call for prayer was issued this past week for the state of Louisiana, but this time it wasn’t from the Church.
The latest call for prayer came from the Louisiana Senate, which unanimously agreed this past week to declare Sunday, June 20, a Statewide Day of Prayer.
"All of us are well aware of the problems we have faced across the Gulf Region since the tragic explosion and sinking of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig off the coast of Louisiana," commented State Senator Robert Adley (R-Benton), who urged the Senate to call a day of prayer.
"Thus far the efforts made by mortals to try to solve the crisis have been to no avail,” he continued. “It is clearly time for a miracle for us."
Senate Resolution 145, which won unanimous approval Wednesday, recognizes the Statewide Day of Prayer for Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico region, particularly those affected by the environmental and economic disaster resulting from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil leak.
As the resolution details, "citizens are urged to pray for a solution to this crisis, each according to his or her own faith, to pray for God`s continued guidance and protection and to join in the observance of a day of prayer, seeking God`s blessings upon both our state and nation."
“[I]n times of great distress and need, we, the people of this land, have always turned to private, public, and corporate prayer,” it states. And “a Statewide Day of Prayer provides each of us with a powerful opportunity to humble ourselves before our Almighty God.”
Given the amount of oil that has been gushing out since the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig on April 20, the resolution recognizes that “untold millions” of people through the world will be affected by the spill, which has possibly spread out across an area roughly larger than the state of Florida.
“[T]he Senate of Legislature of Louisiana calls upon the people of Louisiana to join each other and the entire community that is linked by the Gulf of Mexico in this unified expression of faith and hope,” the resolution concludes.
On Sunday, Democratic Massachusetts Congressman Ed Markey released documents showing BP estimating the leak could gush between 2.3 million and 4.2 million gallons of oil per day in a worst-case scenario.
The current worst-case estimate of what`s leaking is 2.5 million gallons a day.
The spill is already considered the largest offshore spill in U.S. history. Estimates have also placed it as among the largest oil spills in the world.
June 21, 2010
Home Depot`s `gay pride` support spotlighted
(OneNewsNow) Home Depot is under fire for supporting events that promote homosexuality.
Home Depot has a history of supporting homosexual events, the most recent parades in Portland, Maine, and in Boston -- that according to Randy Sharp of the American Family Association.
"The worst offense is that Home Depot has set up kids` workshops at these gay pride festivals," explains AFA`s director of special projects. "These are events that have loud, boisterous homosexual activists making their voices heard -- and Home Depot is putting money behind setting up kids` booths at these kinds of events."
According to AFA, Home Depot has sponsored and participated in both the 2010 Southern Maine Pride Festival and the 2010 Boston Gay Pride parade. The home improvement chain has provided vehicles in the parades and personnel wearing aprons with company identification.
"You know, it`s very simple," Sharp offers. "Home Depot should be like a lot of Fortune 500 companies and simply remain neutral in the culture war -- don`t give money, don`t give vehicles, don`t lend employee support to homosexual activities on Main Street USA."
While homosexuals, who make up about two percent of the population, might applaud Home Depot for its actions, AFA contends the corporation is taking the risk of offending and losing business from the other 98 percent of the public.
June 21, 2010
Emmy nomination for pro-life program
(OneNewsNow) A pro-life TV show has received a nomination for a regional Emmy Award.
The program -- Facing Life Head On -- is produced by Cincinnati-based Life Issues Institute. Brad Mattes is the host and executive producer.
"It reflects choices from a secular society regarding a program that is designed to express God`s will regarding the life issues that all life is sacred," he explains. "So we are very thrilled to have the program acknowledged in such a prominent way."
He says especially so because the secular media often tries to ignore and bury the pro-life message.
"Our whole philosophy all along," Mattes continues, "has been not to hit people over the head with a pro-life message or a religious message, but show them by example of people choosing life-affirming decisions when faced with a crisis -- and then showing, of course, the blessings that follow."
That approach, he says, helps to reach out to more people.
Through various networks, the show now reaches more than 100-million households in the U.S. and Canada. It also can be viewed online.
June 18, 2010
ProtectMarriage.com Makes Strong Closing Argument to Protect Constitutionality of Traditional Marriage
The following statement was released to the press corps following the conclusion of the closing oral arguments:
(ProtectMarriage) “Today marked the end of the Perry v Schwarzenegger trial to protect and preserve the constitutionality of marriage between a man and a woman. Since the lawsuit was filed more than one year ago and the trial began in January, we now await Judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling, fully aware that we are still early in the process, as most legal experts expect that the issue will eventually land at the Unites States Supreme Court.
“Regardless of the outcome of the trial held in San Francisco, we are very pleased with the fullness of the record we have created to support the longstanding policy favoring traditional marriage, and we think that record will serve us well on appeal.
“What is ultimately at stake in this case is the notion that legislative decisions on policy such as government’s recognition of marriage belong to the people and their elected representatives; it is not for the courts to legislate from the bench.
“Very simply put, the public has a strong interest in channeling natural procreation into stable and enduring relationships between men and women and increase the likelihood that those children will be raised by both a mother and a father, and those interests justify the unique and special status of traditional marriage.
“For our opponents to say, as they have repeatedly, that there is no rational reason for limiting marriage to a man and a woman except for animus and bigotry is to spurn 7 million Californian voters, 70 of 108 judges, the vast majority of state legislatures and electorate after electorate who support marriage between a man and woman.”
June 18, 2010
More Misconceptions about "Contraception"
(Family Research Council) The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has one thing down to a science -- blurring the lines between politics and women`s health. Yesterday, the agency`s advisory panel voted in favor of approving a new form of "emergency contraception," ulipristal acetate, known as Ella. Unlike Plan B (the "morning after pill"), which is effective for 72 hours after intercourse, this drug works for up to five days. Although the abortion crowd calls it birth control, Ella can be far more lethal.
Unfortunately, that hasn`t stopped the FDA from rushing to approve Ella without so much as a warning label that would explain how this so-called "contraception" can take innocent human life. Family Research Council (FRC) expert Jeanne Monahan got to the heart of the controversy in an interview with the Washington Post, "The difference between preventing life and destroying life is hugely significant to many women. [They] deserve to know the difference." By advertising it as birth control, the FDA is misleading Americans about the drug`s serious side effects -- and none more serious than preventing a fertilized egg from implanting in the womb. In fact, even the drug`s make-up has led many scientists to call it a "chemical relative" of RU-486, the alternative to surgical abortion.
FRC has worked very hard behind the scenes to educate people on the Hill and other pro-life organizations about the risks of Ella. Above all, we`ve called on the Obama administration and the FDA to make good on their promise of transparency and honesty. Women deserve to know that this drug can take a life and endanger theirs.
June 18, 2010
House Moves Closer to Vote on DISCLOSE Act
(CitizenLink) As a bill designed to chill the free speech of advocacy groups moved closer to a House vote, the backroom deals continue. A voted is expected next week
House Democratic leaders succumbed to pressure from their Progressive Caucus and expanded the exemptions regarding campaign finance disclosure requirements in the so-called DISCLOSE Act. Groups such as the Sierra Club may now be exempt from disclosing their top donor list.
One of the concessions included drastically reducing the membership threshold from 1 million members to 500,000.
However, corporations and nonprofits including Focus on the Family, would still have to meet stringent criteria, including membership in all 50 states; 10 years or more in existence, and receiving no more than 15 percent of their funding from corporate or union sources.
June 18, 2010
Atheists invited to WH interfaith meeting
(OneNewsNow) Student atheist leaders are bragging that they were recently invited to the White House to participate in a meeting on interfaith service projects on college campuses.
The Secular Student Alliance boastfully proclaimed on its website that a couple of its leaders attended the June 7 meeting sponsored by the Obama administration`s Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
Bishop Harry Jackson with the Fellowship of International Churches tells OneNewsNow he believes the White House is trying to expand the tent of faith to include atheists and non-religious people as a way to discredit Bible-believing evangelicals.
"I think we`re being set up -- for people of living faith who believe in a born-again experience who follow the Bible -- to be seen as knuckle-dragging Neanderthals who need to come into the 21st century," Jackson said.
He argued that, in the 20 years that President Obama sat under the preaching of his pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama was exposed to a worldview that included aberrant ideas. For example, Wright likened the Supreme Court to the Ku Klux Klan, said the U.S. had brought the 9/11 terrorist attacks on itself, and insisted that the U.S. government had invented HIV as a way to kill minorities.
"Then it stands to reason that you would not see anything wrong in including all these kinds of folks [atheists] in your religious program," Bishop Jackson said, "and you kind of feel like this is what America really is like and this is what the faith community should be like because this is the world you as a president had experienced in your pre-presidential days."
The White House, he believes, has bought into the concept that America is no longer a Christian nation.
June 18, 2010
Report: $1 Billion in Tax Dollars Given to Abortion Advocates
(Christian Post) More than $1 billion in federal funds have gone to abortion advocacy organizations over the past eight years, according to a newly released report.
In the first-of-its-kind report, the non-partisan Government Accountability Office details the amount of tax dollars received by six organizations between 2002 and 2009.
Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas), who ordered the study, called the findings “disturbing.”
“A majority of Americans oppose taxpayer funding for groups that promote or perform abortions,” Olson said Wednesday at a news conference in Washington, D.C. “Since coming to Congress, I have fought against unnecessary and excessive government spending in all areas. It is disturbing that these organizations spent over a billion dollars over eight years.”
He added that tax dollars given to organizations that “offend” most Americans only further shows that such a report is needed.
The GAO report reveals that the Planned Parenthood Federation of America received $657.1 million between 2002 and 2008; Population Council of the United States, $284.3 million (2002-2008); International Planned Parenthood Federation, $93.8 million (2002-2009); the Guttmacher Institute, $12.7 million; Advocates for Youth, $8.7 million (2002-2009); and Sexual Information and Education Council of the United States, $1.6 million (2002-2009).
Pro-life leaders and lawmakers clarified that the federal funds are not used directly to fund elective abortions, which is illegal under the Hyde and Helms amendment. However, the organizations can use the federal funds to support their work in other areas and thus free up private funds to use toward abortion purposes.
“By funding Planned Parenthood and their allies, we are unwittingly supporting an abortion organization and everything they do,” said Ken Blackwell, senior fellow for family empowerment at the conservative Family Research Council. “When taxpayer money goes to abortion groups for any reason, it supports the work of the abortion industry.”
Presently, FRC is supporting the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act – the only federal grant program that provides people with comprehensive family planning and related preventive health services.
Title X family planning funds accounted for the largest single source of federal money that went to abortion advocacy groups as recorded by the GAO report.
“This report confirms that the largest abortion provide in America is being bankrolled by American taxpayers,” said Rep. Mike Pence(R-Ind.), who introduced H.R. 614 . “We must stop providing taxpayer dollars to abortion providers through Title X…. The time has come to deny any and all federal funding to Planned Parenthood by passing the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act.”
H.R. 614, which was first introduced in January 2009, would prohibit the distribution of Title X family planning money to groups that use abortion as a method of family planning. The bi-partisan bill has 93 co-sponsors and has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
June 17, 2010
Oklahoma Lawmakers Seek Voter Backing to Ban Shariah From Courts
(FoxNews) Oklahoma lawmakers are asking voters to weigh in on a proposal that would ban local courts from considering Shariah or other international law in their rulings.
The unusual measure calling for an amendment to the Oklahoma Constitution was approved in late May by the state Senate, sending the issue to voters in the fall in the form of a ballot question.
Though the question`s supporters have not pointed to any specific outbreak of Shariah, or Islamic law, being considered in the U.S. judicial system, they describe it as an encroaching threat. State Rep. Rex Duncan, author of the measure, has called the ballot question a "preemptive strike" against Shariah coming to his state.
Duncan said in a statement after the vote that he hopes other states will soon follow Oklahoma`s lead.
"Judges in other states and on the federal bench have increasingly turned to citing international law in their court decisions, something I and others feel is grossly inappropriate in a sovereign state such as our own," he said.
In an interview with The Edmond Sun, Duncan said the courts` willingness in Britain to consider Shariah has become "a cancer upon the survivability of the U.K." He said the ballot question "will constitute a preemptive strike against Shariah Law coming to Oklahoma."
The amendment would require courts to adhere to the laws of the U.S. and state constitutions, as well as federal and state statutes. It would prohibit the courts from considering "the legal precepts of other nations or cultures," including Shariah.
June 17, 2010
Nickelodeon promotes `naughty` games to kids
(WorldNetDaily) The children`s network Nickelodeon is now promoting a selection of naughty games that allow players to look up teachers` skirts and perform a variety of sexual acts – prominently linking to the sexy games from its popular websites for young kids.
Nickelodeon links to AddictingGames.com from its websites for children, including Neopets.com and Nick.com. AddictingGames, a website owned by Nickelodeon parent company Viacom, features the Nickelodeon logo and has approximately 34 million monthly users.
The NewsBusters blog noted that the Nickelodeon website features racy games such as "Naughty Babysitter," "Booty Rider" and "You da Sperm!"
"You da Sperm" was set to inactive at the time of this report. Several other games, including "Asstroys," "Vanessa Naughty Toys," "Magic Fingers," "Perry the Sneak" and "Naughty Starlets" have been removed.
However, one game that remains active on the website allows players to glimpse under a teacher`s skirt and inside her blouse.
The game, called "Naughty Classroom," begins with three young boys sitting at the front of a classroom and admiring a photo of their female teacher.
"Remember that hot schoolteacher you had a crush on in high school?" the game asks. "The subject of your adolescent dreams, the only teacher who could get your undivided attention in class? Presenting our mouthwatering version of the ultimate teacher-goddess! Here`s your chance to fulfill your ultimate childhood fantasy! Naughty Classroom will leave you begging for more homework!"
A teacher walks into the classroom wearing a miniskirt and spike heels. At one point, she unbuttons her shirt and flashes her undergarments at her students. Players can prompt one of the male students to turn on a fan, and a gush of air lifts the teacher`s skirt.
Another game, "Naughty Gym Teacher," asks, "Why should boys have all the fun? The giggly schoolgirls cannot get enough of their hot male gym instructor, and they will resort to the naughtiest tricks to get what they want."
"I would love to be Coach Rodder`s `dumb belle,`" one girl says.
"Naughty Babysitter" allows a boy character to shoot ice cubes down his babysitter`s blouse. The babysitter gets physical with her boyfriend on the sofa and even kisses the boy she is babysitting.
"Perry the Perv" depicts a cartoon man ogling large-breasted, scantily clad women in public places.
"Perry the Sneak loves women," the description states. "The only problem is that women don`t love Perry. … Help Perry get an eyeful without getting a handful for being the world`s best Serial Peeker!"
Other games include "Naughty Detective," "Naughty Airplane," "Naughty Elevator," "Naughty Beach," "Naughty Park," "Naughty Supermarket" and "Naughty Summer Camp."
AddictingGames also features "Stick Dude Killing Arena," where players "train to kill until you die." The game features splatters of blood and offers a suicide option. Likewise, "Dark Cut" and "Dark Cut 2" feature "More macho surgery! No anesthetic. No antiseptics. Just rusty knives, corn whiskey, and lots of blood!"
AddictingGames warns of "mature content" by featuring a very small image of a bomb near game titles.
The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, a national coalition of health-care professionals, educators, advocacy groups and parents, has spoken out against Nickelodeon`s promotion of AddictingGames, noting that thousands of parents have written the company to demand it remove links to AddictingGames from its children`s websites. Members of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood overwhelmingly chose AddictingGames as 2010`s winner of the Toys Oppressive And Destructive to Young Children Award, also known as the TOADY, for the worst toy of the year.
"Nickelodeon`s cynical disregard of pleas from parents is troubling," said Dr. Diane Levin, professor at Wheelock College and co-author of "So Sexy So Soon." "It seems that keeping children`s eyes glued to advertiser-supported screens by providing edgy content is much more important to Nick than honoring parents` trust."
Newsbusters writer Alana Goodman noted, "Nick.com describes itself as `THE place for kids to play games online!` There will even be an entire show devoted to promoting an AddictingGames.com contest airing on Nickelodeon`s TV station on June 19."
"With widespread concern over teachers sexually abusing children, it`s bizarre that Nickelodeon would partner with a website that seemingly endorses that type of behavior," Goodman wrote. "Also troubling are the lessons that some of the video games seem to teach children – namely, that it`s acceptable to sexually harass women."
(LifeSiteNews) The federal Advisory Committee on Blood Safety and Availability (ACBSA) voted 9-6 Friday to maintain current blood-donation rules, which effectively forbid practicing homosexuals from donating blood.
Specifically, the rules defer any prospective blood donor if he is a man who has had sex with another man since 1977, approximately the beginning of the AIDS outbreak.
The role of the advisory panel is to offer non-binding advice to the federal Department of Health and Human Services.
"Common sense has triumphed over political correctness, an increasingly rare but very welcome occurrence," said the Family Research Council`s Peter Sprigg in response.
"This panel heard a day and a half of testimony, including the latest research on HIV risks in the blood supply, but in the end they recognized that there is no alternative screening policy that can be shown to maintain the safety of the nation`s blood supply."
Sen. John Kerry and 17 other Senate Democrats have asked the FDA to end its "discriminatory" ban, arguing that current blood tests can detect HIV. The indefinite deferral of men who have sex with men (MSM) began in 1983, before the availability of tests for HIV, they said.
"Not a single piece of scientific evidence supports the ban," Kerry has stated.
Critics, however, have pointed out that there is a period of up to six months after a person becomes infected in which blood tests do not reveal HIV, and during which the infected person might still transmit it to someone else.
The FDA also states that tests for HIV can fail to detect all infected donors. According to the FDA, because there are over 20 million blood transfusions each year, even a very small failure rate increases the risk of undetected HIV in the donor population.
In his testimony before the ACBSA, Sprigg said the claim that "the current policy `discriminates` on the basis of `sexual orientation` is highly misleading."
He said that the term “sexual orientation” encompasses the psychological phenomenon of sexual attraction, the sociological phenomenon of sexual self-identification, and the physical phenomenon of sexual behavior. Only the last of these pertains to the issue of blood donor prohibition, and it is "based on a well-documented behavior risk - nothing more, and nothing less."
According to the Center for Disease Control, although MSM (males who have sex with males) are estimated to account for 4% of the U.S. male population, the rate of new HIV diagnoses among them is more than 44 times that of other men. They account for more than half of all new HIV infections in the U.S. each year.
Although new HIV infections have recently declined both among heterosexuals and injection drug users, the annual number of new HIV infections among MSM has steadily increased since the early 1990s. MSM also have far greater rates of syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases than do heterosexuals.
Said Sprigg: "I understand that there are many people who wish to advance the socio-political goal of winning greater acceptance of homosexuality."
"However, the blood donation policy does not exist to serve socio-political purposes, nor should it be changed to advance them.”
He concluded: "Only the scientific evidence matters, and it indicates that the current policy should remain in place."
(AP) The University of California,Irvine, has suspended a Muslim student group for at least a year because of a protest that disrupted a talk by Israel`s ambassador and led to the arrest of 11 students.
The university on Monday released a letter from a student affairs disciplinary committee to Muslim Student Union leaders. It says the group was found guilty of disorderly conduct, obstructing university activities and other violations of campus policy.
The Muslim Student Union condemned Ambassador Michael Oren`s appearance in February, but has insisted it did not organize the protests.
But the committee found the group did engineer the protests and instructed participants to lie about its involvement.
Muslim Student Union spokesman Hadeer Soliman did not immediately respond to an e-mail from The Associated Press requesting comment.
June 17, 2010
Christian colleges flourish in distance learning environment
(USA Today) The question facing universities looking to compete in the booming market for online higher education is not so much how to do it, but how to distinguish themselves from the rest. In this, Christian universities appear to have a built-in advantage. And many are seizing the opportunity to expand their footprint.
"Given the relatively strong religious character of much of the U.S. population, and an ever more crowded online market, the schools that that are faith-based in some strong sense" have an advantage over others, the majority of whom have built "more generic programs that don`t have any strong affiliation with a demographic group or belief system," says Richard Garrett, an online learning analyst for the consulting group Eduventures.
Investing heavily in online has already allowed some institutions to enroll many more students than they ever could have hoped to at a physical campus. Grand Canyon University, which enrolled about 3,500 students at its peak as a traditional university in the mid-1990s, was forced to reinvent itself as a for-profit online university earlier this decade after coming close to financial ruin. Now it serves 36,000 students, about 90% of whom are distance learners.
Grand Canyon is not the only Christian institution taking cues from the for-profit sector in an effort to maximize the market for online education. Indiana Wesleyan University years ago enlisted a subsidiary of the Apollo Group, the company that owns the for-profit juggernaut University of Phoenix, to help with online recruitment. That subsidiary, an online-education consulting firm called the Institute for Professional Development, has 17 other higher-education partners, most of them Christian institutions.
More recently, the Mid-America Christian University recruited Maurice (Buddy) Shoe, an Apollo Group alumnus and expert in for-profit higher education, to serve as vice president for enrollment. Shoe says the university is using an aggressive marketing strategy to try to grow the 80%-online student body from its current 1,200 enrollment to 5,000 over the next five years.
Meanwhile, online enrollment at the nonprofit Liberty University has boomed to 45,000 — nearly twice as many online students as the 25,000 that its late televangelist founder, Rev. Jerry Falwell, Sr., prescribed as a goal only three years ago, and significantly more than its 12,000 or so on-campus learners.
"More and more Christian schools I know through connections, if they`re not already doing (online education), they`re talking about it," says Shoe, the Mid-America enrollment executive. "And the market`s demanding it."
The combination of America`s religious character, its large and well-organized evangelical population, its sophisticated online education market, and the big-tent approach to Christian education taken by many of its faith-based universities has set the stage for rapid expansion of Christian-oriented distance learning, says Garrett, whose firm has worked with universities such as Liberty and Mid-America on their online strategies.
All of this is exciting for evangelicals, says Carlos Campo, the incoming president of Regent University, an institution in Virginia founded by the televangelist and former presidential candidate Pat Robertson that boasts 4,900 students, about 55% of whom are online.
"I think that evangelicals tend, very often, to look at numbers as being important," Campo says. Being able to increase the number of Christian-educated graduates in the world via the scale afforded by online education, he says, is cause for enthusiasm in many evangelical circles.
The expansion of Christian online learning might be of particular interest to families that are leery of the secular education provided by the nation`s public schools, Campo says. "There`s a built-in market of folks who say, `Is there someone in the virtual sphere where I can send my child where they can transition directly from a home-schooled environment into a collegiate environment and never leave the home?` " he says.
Hard to replicate online?
But to what degree can a Christian university actually foster the same religious character in its online students as it can in its residential students?
The task is not as daunting as it was even five years ago, says Kathy Player, the president of Grand Canyon University. "Nowadays, with technology, you can bring in so much of what you do (on campus)," she says. For example, Grand Canyon offers its online students Bible study sessions with a chaplain through its learning-management system.
It also streams its chapel services, as do many similar institutions. They also often pepper their learning portals with inspirational passages from scripture, and provide channels for online students to submit prayer requests from their fellow students. Institutions that require faculty to sign a statement of faith and instruct them to teach various subjects through the prism of Christianity tend to require the same of their online instructors. Regent University offers special training to its online faculty on how to replicate a Christianity-flavored course in an online environment.
Weaving a Christian perspective into the fabric of course design is not unique to Regent, nor is it limited to religious studies courses. While some students attend faith-based institutions to study religious philosophy, many are studying the same subjects as their peers at nonreligious institutions (degrees in business, marketing, and health care are among the most popular at a number of Christian institutions, as elsewhere). But the point of a Christian college education is not to pray before and after class while doing everything else the same, Campo says; it is to make Christian identity part of the way subjects are taught.
There is also the extracurricular component, which online Christian universities are also working to replicate. Liberty University offers online Bible studies through its online ministry — as well as links to Christian-themed articles offering counsel on non-academic subjects such as marriage, personal finance, "purity," and "cultural issues." Indiana Wesleyan University`s online learning portal includes links to external, Christian life-management sites such as Christianity Today, Purpose Driven Connection, and Crosswalk.com.
But Campo, the incoming Regent University president, says that replicating the ethos of a faith-based campus in a distance-learning context has been difficult. Regent uses a metric it calls a "spirituality index" to measure the spiritual health of its students on campus and online by tracking how well they are attaining their spiritual goals. While the index is too new to have produced any conclusive data, "Our anecdotal sense is that we`re not doing as well in that environment," Campo says.
"I think that`s where college presidents at Christian schools have real concerns," he says, citing conversations with other Christian college officials with respect to their own observations about the spiritual vitality of their online students relative to traditional ones.
However, Campo says Regent and its peers remain committed to trying to replicate the Christian college experience online, and are optimistic about their ability to do so as new strategies are formulated and online learning environments become more robust.
"We don`t want to be left out of the conversation," he says. "So making sure that we are duplicating … the virtual environment what we have on campus, that`s a critical goal."
June 17, 2010
London Mayor invites Christians to help turn capital around
(Christian Today) London Mayor Boris Johnson extended an invitation to thousands of Christians yesterday to work with him in giving more opportunities to young people in the capital.
Speaking at a day of prayer for the nation at West Ham stadium on Sunday, Mr Johnson praised Christians for the work they were doing to help those who “don’t get the best start in life”.
“That’s what Christianity does and means to so many people,” he said.
He called on Christians to come forward as volunteers to help with the Mayor’s projects to “turn around the lives of some of the most disadvantaged kids in the London”.
The Evangelical Alliance’s General Director Steve Clifford led prayers for the Mayor, Prime Minister David Cameron, politicians at Westminster, the new coalition, and local councillors, as he reminded them of their calling to be “servants”.
Speaking to journalists later, Mr Johnson expressed his support for the prayer gathering, which drew together around 10,000 Christians, and spoke of his desire to “work with” Christians.
“People who don’t have opportunities that others have deserve our prayers,” he said. “Events like this are an incredible way of mobilising the church across London to do good works. In my time as mayor I have been amazed by the strength and ambition and good that they do.”
He went on to dismiss a campaign being led by the National Secular Society to end prayers at the start of council meetings, saying that any attempt to ban the prayers was “misguided”.
He said: “Irrespective of your religious views, the fact is that every day Parliament begins with prayers for Her Majesty and indeed all politicians that they will govern justly and it is a very interesting moment because everybody, no matter what their beliefs, they all pray and think about the sacred trust they have been given by the people …, they focus on what they are doing and the importance of what they are doing.”
The day of prayer was put together by Global Day of Prayer London and joined by the Bishop of Barking the Rt Rev David Hawkins, GDOP London Convener Jonathan Oloyede, and worship artists Graham Kendrick, Lara Martin, Noel Robinson, Dave Bilbrough and Muyiwa.
It comes ahead of the launch of GDOP London’s 500 days of prayer on August 1. The group is hoping to mobilise Christians across the UK in prayer and outreach in the run-up to a major prayer event planned for September 2011 at Wembley Stadium.
Mr Oloyede said he wanted the West Ham event to be a “catalyst” for prayer and mission. GDOP London is inviting churches to sign up to be part of a 24/7 prayer chain and is asking individual churches to set their alarms or mobile phones to noon each day to spend a moment praying the Lord’s Prayer over the nation.
Mr Oloyede said: “We want more churches to be praying churches. The national day of prayer is a catalyst for people to pray more actively for the nation and to get enthused for mission – enthused to tell their story.”
June 17, 2010
Conference on Homosexuality to Focus on Freedom
(CitizenLink) The 35th Exodus International Freedom Conference on homosexuality takes place June 23-26 in Irvine, Calif
Exodus International now includes stretches across six continents with more than 300 ministries.
David Fountain, conference director, said Exodus was born out of a gathering of 63 people.
"They got together in California and started this conference and saw that there was a need to offer help and encouragement to other people who were also struggling or battling with same-sex attractions," he said, "but wanted to pursue Christ."
The conference is also designed to give people tool to help in a constructive way.
"A growing number of people who are coming are parents, pastors, counselors, people who are even just in the body of Christ," he said, "who want to become better equipped in knowing how to address this issue."
Overhaul? Employers to see 2011 medical costs jump
(AP) Companies that offer employee health insurance expect another steep jump in medical costs next year, and more will ask workers to share a bigger chunk of the expense, according to a new PricewaterhouseCoopers report
For the first time, most of the American workforce is expected to have health insurance deductibles of $400 or more, the consulting firm said in a report released to The Associated Press.
Deductibles are the annual amount a patient pays out of pocket for care before insurance coverage starts. They are generally separate from co-payments and coinsurance.
Two years ago, only 25 percent of companies participating in the annual survey said they asked employees to pay deductibles of $400 or more. That grew to 43 percent in 2010 and is expected to pass 50 percent next year.
Employees who are asked to pay more through things like higher deductibles help keep cost growth in check because they use less health care.
The health care reform law passed by Congress and then signed by President Obama in March has just started to unfold and will have little impact on costs next year, said Michael Thompson, a principal with PricewaterhouseCoopers.
"In general, it`s a continuation of a fairly high rate of medical inflation," he said.
PricewaterhouseCoopers found that medical costs are expected to rise 9 percent next year. But this doesn`t mean workers will see their monthly premiums jump by the same amount.
Employers typically try to soften the impact of a cost increase by absorbing some of it, changing insurance plan designs or asking employees to pay higher deductibles or a larger coinsurance percentage.
For instance, a medical cost increase of more than 9 percent was forecast for 2009. But the average annual premium rose only 5 percent for family coverage that year and stayed flat for single coverage, according to a separate study from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
The 9 percent medical cost increase projected in 2011 is actually slightly smaller than the 9.5 percent jump PricewaterhouseCoopers is seeing this year. Thompson said several top-selling drugs will lose patent protection next year and become exposed to lower-cost generic competition. That will help temper the increase.
The PricewaterhouseCoopers report also found a steep drop in the percentage of employers that subsidize retiree health coverage. It said only 22 percent of employers with more than 5,000 workers subsidized retiree coverage after age 65 this year. That`s down from 37 percent in 2009.
"It`s a major cost and one that employers have for years now been moving away from," Thompson said.
PricewaterhouseCoopers compiled its report by analyzing e-mail survey results from 674 companies in 30 different industries across the country. Most of the companies participating had 1,000 employees or more. The firm also interviewed health plan executives and reviewed analyst reports.
June 14, 2010
Three options to deal with Iran - one of them supernatural
(OneNewsNow) A best-selling author and former political consultant to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doesn`t think the latest round of sanctions against Iran will be effective in halting the country`s nuclear program.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is hailing the adoption of new U.N. sanctions on Iran as a victory for the Obama administration`s policy of engagement with Tehran. She recently told reporters that the U.N. Security Council`s vote in favor of fresh penalties proved that the administration had taken the right diplomatic approach in seeking to talk with Iran. But Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has dismissed the latest sanctions, saying they are "like a used tissue."
Joel Rosenberg, author of Epicenter: How the Current Rumblings in the Middle East Will Change Your World, believes it is now going to take decisive action to stop Iran from getting the bomb.
"That would, at the minimum, mean essentially crippling Iran`s gasoline imports. They import about 40 percent to 50 percent of it," he explains. "To do a blockade or some sort of quarantine...would force Iran`s economy to slow down, if not shut down, and then could make the government regime vulnerable to overthrow, hopefully by moderates.
"But short of that, it`s going to take massive air strikes, either by the United States -- which under this administration is not going to do it -- or by Israel," the author adds.
He further believes that the third option would have to be supernatural, and he uses the prophecy against Iran found in Ezekiel 38 and 39 as an example.
June 14, 2010
Salem Web Network Acquires GodTube.com, Tangle.com
(Christian Post) The Salem Web Network has completed its acquisition of Christian video-sharing website GodTube.com and social networking site Tangle.com, according to a representative for the network.
The deal, which was finalized on Thursday, will be announced by the Salem Web Network this coming week, according to Kristie Rutzel Wahlquist, Salem’s director of SEO and Marketing.
The two new additions will add more weight to Salem’s already lengthy portfolio of faith and family-themed content sites, including Crosswalk.com, Christianity.com, OnePlace.com and CrossDaily.com, among others.
“Both of these brands have pioneered new content and community interaction in the faith-based market and give Salem a strong presence in the rapidly growing web 2.0 video and social networking space,” commented Salem Web Network Senior Vice President Tom Perrault. “We are excited about adding these sites and combined audience to our network, and we have plans to aggressively grow both over the next several years.”
Salem’s announcement comes less than two months after GodTube.com officially reopened, having been gone since turning over to a new name and URL, Tangle.com, about a year ago.
With Tangle.com having developed into a social networking site over the past year, GodTube was able to be reborn – a move that makes sense considering the site’s fast growth in the first two years after its initial launch in 2007. GodTube.com reportedly reached 2.7 million users monthly before turning over to its new URL.
"There is a great amount of brand loyalty to GodTube.com from the visitors to the site,” said Trey Bowles, CEO of Big Jump Media, parent company of both GodTube.com and Tangle.com.
“[A]nd we plan to grow the site offering and continue to provide a place online for Christians to come find, view and share encouraging and inspirational content across the Internet," he added after GodTube.com’s resurrection.
Regarding Salem’s recent purchase of GodTube and Tangle, Rick Killingsworth, the network’s Executive Vice President of New Media, said the sites would fill a significant gap in the network’s content offerings – that is, professionally produce and user-generated videos.
“This acquisition gives us the leadership position overnight, while also opening up significant new multi-media advertising opportunities,” he commented.
Presently, GodTube.com and Tangle.com reach over 2 million visitors a month, with millions of page views, and maintains over 800,000 registered users. The sites provide a place for Christians to connect, watch and share videos, access the top singers in Christian music, read the Bible online through the Online Bible, and upload prayers to the Prayer Wall and network with friends.
June 14, 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."
June 14, 2010
2009 charitable giving falls 3.6 percent in U.S.
(AP) An annual survey says charitable giving fell 3.6 percent last year as Americans continued to struggle with the recession.
The Giving USA Foundation reports that Americans donated $303.75 billion during 2009, the second-worst year since 1956, when the foundation started conducting its surveys.
Religious organizations received just more than $100 billion, or one-third of the total. That was down less than one percent from 2008.
The survey found that giving to human services, health, international affairs and environment and animal-related groups all saw increases in 2009, while donations to education, arts, culture and humanities organizations fell overall.
June 14, 2010
ADF seeks to end religious discrimination policies at more than 750 government-run facilities
(Alliance Defense Fund) ADF sent letters Monday to 151 governmental entities urging them to end unconstitutional policies on their books that restrict or forbid access to public meeting rooms for religious purposes. The policies govern more than 750 public facilities across the nation.
Government officials frequently refuse or restrict Christian churches, groups, and individuals when they attempt to reserve facilities otherwise open to the public at schools, libraries, parks, and community centers--a practice routinely determined to be unconstitutional by the courts, as explained in the ADF letters. Several lawyers in the ADF alliance of more than 1,600 attorneys assisted with distribution of the letters.
“Christians shouldn’t be excluded and restricted from using public meeting rooms and other facilities simply because they plan to express a Christian viewpoint,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Joel Oster. “The Constitution prohibits the government from deciding who can and cannot use space based upon which viewpoints are being discussed during those meetings. Public officials can’t give preferential treatment to some views over others.”
Unconstitutional policies restricting--or outright prohibiting--such usage have gone unchallenged in most cases, keeping churches, religious groups, and Christian individuals from discussing their faith in public places where others are readily allowed to discuss their non-religious views.
“Whether it’s the denial of religious services and seminars, Vacation Bible Schools, church potlucks, Bible studies, or a Christian author discussing an upcoming book, countless groups and individuals are having their constitutional rights violated while those with non-religious affiliations enjoy unrestricted access for their activities,” Oster said.
Since its inception, ADF has successfully litigated and/or funded numerous legal matters that have resulted in policy changes at more than 1,900 public facilities that now provide equal access for religious groups. For example:
Last month, ADF attorneys secured a settlement in the lawsuit Verdugo v. Osceola County, in which a Florida public library changed its unconstitutional policy prohibiting a Christian man from holding a religious seminar.ADF attorneys secured a court order last June preventing a California public library from banning a Christian group from its public meeting room. In the suit Faith Center Church Evangelistic Ministries v. Glover, the court ruled that Contra Costa County officials cannot ban meetings it labels “religious services.”ADF attorneys worked together last year with officials in the city of Richmond, Calif., and the town of Elk River, Minn., to rectify problematic policies that prohibited religious meetings in their community centers.ADF is also representing a New York City church that is fighting to be allowed to continue renting a public school facility for its religious services. In Bronx Household of Faith v. Board of Education of the City of New York, city officials are violating the church’s constitutional rights by denying it rental access to public school buildings based strictly on the fact that it wishes to use the space for worship services.
June 14, 2010
Actress Sues Bayer, Claims Birth Control Pill Caused Stroke at 27
(FoxNews) Brenda Hamilton, who is an understudy in the Broadway show "Wicked," said she had been taking Yasmin for a little more than two years when she suffered the terrifying stroke in May 2007.
She has since recovered, but says in a civil suit filed in The Bronx that Bayer knew Yasmin posed a greater risk than did other birth-control pills for blood clots and strokes, but withheld that information from patients and doctors.
"I`m pretty angry that this happened to me. I was 27 at the time. I don`t think this should be happening to young women. It shouldn`t happen to any woman just because they take birth-control pills," she said.
Hamilton, a former Bronx resident who lives in West New York, NJ, had no history of health problems when she was stricken.
Women have suffered strokes stemming from the use of other types of birth-control pills, which experts said were caused by increased levels of estrogen, and Bayer touts Yasmin particularly for its low estrogen levels. In 2008, the FDA cited Bayer for overstating the safety of the product in its advertising.
Hamilton`s lawsuit is one of about 1,100 throughout the country claiming the pills caused serious or life-threatening health problems. Two class-action suits were also filed in Canada.
A spokeswoman for Bayer said the company would not comment on pending litigation. But the pharmaceutical giant has staunchly defended the drug, which accounted for $1.5 billion in sales in 2009.
June 14, 2010
The right choice described by Andrea Bocelli
(WorldNetDaily) A video by Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli presents his testimony that his mother was encouraged to have an abortion before he was born, and he admits to being "partisan," but says her decision to let him live was the right one.
It was posted by I Am Whole Life, an organization that also works with actor Eduardo Verastegui, whose recent movie "Bella" carried a powerful pro-life message.
In the video, which reportedly was recorded about a year ago, an English translation of Bocelli`s chat with his Italian audience revealed, "A young pregnant wife has been hospitalized for a simple attack of appendicitis. The doctors had to apply some ice on her stomach. And when the treatments ended the doctors suggested that she abort the child. They told her it was the best solution, because the baby would be born with some disability.
But, Bocelli explained, "the young brave wife decided not to abort, and the child was born. That woman was my mother and I was the child. Maybe I`m partisan. But I can say that it was the right choice."
According to an Italian report, Bocelli`s partner, Veronica Berti, was in the audience when Bocelli told the story last year.
"When I heard his words I had to leave because I was starting to cry," she said.
A spokesman for the singer told the London Guardian the doctors had feared their treatment could have jeopardized the unborn child.
Bocelli was born with a condition that left him partly blind, but doctors said it appeared to be unrelated to the treatment. He eventually lost his sight when he was 12 after an accident while playing a sport.
Jason Jones of Human Rights, Education and Relief Organization in Los Angeles told the Guardian Bocelli`s personal story was "one of the most beautiful, authentic things I`ve ever seen."
The recording was made for a special event set up by a children`s welfare group with which Bocelli works.
Verastegui also has posted a video about his work to support life:
I Am Whole Life is a group that "acknowledges that issues that appear to be separate such as human sex trafficking, political violence, famine, abortion, female genital mutilation, euthanasia, pornography, embryo destruction and many others are actually related threats to the dignity of the human person."
"The Whole Life ethic recognizes that a threat anywhere to human dignity constitutes a threat to human dignity everywhere," the organization said on its website.
"The Whole Life ethic is dedicated to promoting and defending human dignity in all its stages. In the United States the biggest threat is abortion, other places it may be female genital mutilation, famine, forced sterilization or lack of civil rights."
June 11, 2010
Republican Leader Seeks Answers from President Obama
(CitizenLink) House Minority Leader John Boehner asked President Obama on Thursday for a progress report on how the administration was implementing the executive order banning taxpayer funding of abortion.
The request came during a meeting with President Obama and other congressional leaders.
Michael Steel, spokesman for Boehner`s office, said the president was noncommittal.
"The president indicated that he would provide some kind of an update on the implementation of the executive order," Steel said.
Boehner brought up the same topic with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a May letter and was even less encouraged by the lack of response.
"There is no indication that they are moving in any way to implement the executive order in an effective way or a meaningful way," said Steel. "What I fear is that the effect is as we suspected at the time, that there is no effect at all of this executive order."
June 11, 2010
Risky Deposits in America`s Blood Bank
(Family Research Council) "Infect Americans in the name of political correctness!" That ought to be the slogan for the Left`s latest attempt to change the FDA`s policy on blood donors. Today, Family Research Council`s Peter Sprigg testified before the Advisory Committee on Blood Safety and Availability (AVBSA), urging them to keep the ban on homosexual donors in place. The FDA created the rule because men who have sex with men are 60 times more likely to be infected with HIV/AIDS.
People who care more about the homosexual agenda than public health claim the policy is discriminatory. (Sound familiar? This is the same argument used by the Left to repeal the "Don`t Ask, Don`t Tell" policy: tolerance first, safety second.) Unfortunately, the country is full of extremists who can`t seem to understand that this isn`t about prejudice; it`s about precaution. As Peter said earlier today, the blood donation policy doesn`t exist to serve socio-political purposes, nor should it be changed to advance them.
Fortunately, the AVBSA agreed. In a huge victory for public health, the Committee voted 9-6 to heed the concerns of groups like FRC and keep the ban in place!
June 11, 2010
63 Percent of American Men Say Soccer Not Likely to Ever Be As Popular as Football, Baseball, Basketball or Hockey in USA
(CNSNews) With the FIFA World Cup set to begin in South Africa on Friday, 63 percent of American men say that soccer is not likely to ever be as popular as football, baseball, basketball or hockey in the United States, according to a poll released today by Zogby International.
A 54-percent majority of the overall American population (males and females combined) has reached the same conclusion. Only 24 percent of Americans, meanwhile, say they will watch any part of the World Cup.
The World Cup, which is held every four years, is a tournament of 32 national soccer teams that compete for the right to claim they are world champions. It is sponsored by the Federation Internationale de Football Assocation (FIFA). The 2006 World Cup was held in Germany and the Italian team won it. According to FIFA, 376 television stations around the world covered the 2006 competition, up from 232 in 2002.
“The 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany had a total cumulative television audience of 26.29 billion (24.2 billion in-home and 2.1 billion out-of-home viewers),” said a statement from FIFA. Since, there are currently only 6.83 billion people in the world, according the U.S. Census Bureau, that means the cumulative audience for the full 2006 World Cup equaled almost 4 times the global population.
(CitizenLink) The New York State Senate Judiciary Committee voted 12-11 this week to reject a bill known as the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA or the "bathroom bill").
The legislation would have opened all public accommodations, including restrooms, high school locker rooms, health clubs, dorm rooms and other single-sex residential facilities to both biological genders, dependent upon whether an individual chooses to identify him or herself as the opposite sex.
"New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms upholds the inherent value and worth of all people — including persons who identify as transgendered," said the Rev. Jason J. McGuire, executive director of the group. "However, there is simply no need to provide special rights and protections to individuals who choose to dress or identify themselves as members of the opposite sex."
June 10, 2010
New Adult Stem-Cell Treatments for Head and Heart Advance
(LifeSiteNews) New reports indicate that real hope for ‘miracle’ treatments using adult stem cells is on the way for those suffering from diseases afflicting both the brain and the heart.
In California, researchers at the University of California in Irvine say they have discovered the method and mechanisms by which adult stem-cells can repair and replace damaged tissue in the brain. The discovery could lead to treatments for individuals with multiple sclerosis and other brain inflammation diseases.
“Previously, we’ve seen that adult neural stem cells injected into the spinal column knew, amazingly, exactly where to go,” said Tom Lane, a professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, and co-author with Kevin Carbajal of the new study. “We wanted to find what directed them to the right injury spots.”
Lane and Carbajal’s team experimented with mice whose central nervous systems were damaged by viruses in a way that imitated the effects of MS. The virus destroys myelin, a protective tissue that covers the nerves, resulting in chronic pain and loss of motor function.
They injected adult neural stem cells into the mice and observed that the inflamed cells activated receptors on the adult stem cells called CXCR-4 receptors. These receptors then gathered “chemokine proteins” (CXCL-12), which guided the adult stem cells to the damaged cells in need of repair.
As the adult stem cells made their journey through the brain, they transformed into precursor cells for oligodendrocytes, a key building block for myelin, that can both repair or replace the damaged tissues. Once latched onto the affected sites, the stem cells continued to differentiate, and after three weeks 90% of the cells had transformed into mature oligodendrocytes.
Lane stressed that not only did the work reaffirm the power of adult neural stem cells to improve the brain’s motor function, but also provided a crucial stem cell roadmap for researchers looking to develop therapies for those suffering with MS.
“In this study, we’ve taken an important step by showing the navigational cues in an inflammatory environment like MS that guide stem cells,” explained Lane. “Hopefully, these cues can be incorporated into stem cell-based treatments to enhance their ability to repair injury.”
While advances have been made in treating the diseases of the head, a young girl is undergoing an experimental adult stem cell treatment that, if successful, would finally allow her to overcome a rare disease of the heart called Eisenmenger syndrome.
The News Tribune reports that Washington State resident Mailia Goforth, 16, has suffered from the disease since birth. The condition is caused by a structural defect in the heart, where blood flows through a hole in the heart wall. Additionally she suffers from secondary pulmonary hypertension because too much blood flows to her lungs; the blood vessels then constrict, putting even more strain on the heart. In Mailia’s case, doctors identified her condition too late for normal surgical repair or even the more drastic measure of a double lung and heart replacement.
The teenager, however, is being treated in the Dominican Republic with stem cells derived from her own blood, which are injected into her lungs via a small catheter. If successful, the therapy – developed by Dr. Zannos Grekos, MD – would significantly reduce the pressure on Mailia’s heart, and enable her to breathe freely. It would also theoretically allow surgeons to repair her heart.
The treatment has so far cost Mailia’s parents $64,000. Forty-seven thousand of that amount was raised by the parents, with the rest being covered by a private charity. The family, however, expects that Mailia will need a second round of stem cell treatments in addition to the surgeries, which Grekos speculated to the Tribune could enable her to play sports one day.
The Tribune reports that the family has just $33 left, but they have set up a website MailiasMiracle.com http://mailiasmiracle.com/, which lets people know Mailia’s story and how they can help.
June 09, 2010
Tough questions for each side in Prop. 8 debate
(San Francisco Gate) The judge in California`s same-sex marriage trial had a pointed question for gay-rights advocates Tuesday: How can marriage between gay or lesbian couples be a fundamental right in a nation that denied all legal protection to their relationships until very recently?
Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker put sponsors of Proposition 8 on the spot with another question: In a state that treats domestic partners the same as spouses, "what purpose is served by differentiating - in name only - between same-sex and opposite-sex unions?"
Walker posted more than nine pages of questions for opposing lawyers to address in closing arguments next Wednesday in his San Francisco courtroom. The session is expected to go on all day.
The arguments follow 12 days of testimony in January on the constitutionality of Prop. 8, a November 2008 initiative that defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman. The measure overturned a May 2008 state Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage in California.
Walker`s ruling is expected sometime this summer, the first stage in a case that could reach the U.S. Supreme Court.
Walker ordered the trial - the first in any federal court on same-sex marriage - over the objections of Prop. 8`s supporters, who said no testimony was needed to justify restoring tradition and promoting children`s interests. The judge pressed the measure`s sponsors Tuesday to link their arguments to the evidence.
What evidence at the trial, he asked, showed that same-sex nuptials are "a drastic or far-reaching change to the institution of marriage?" Do California laws allowing gay and lesbian couples to adopt and raise children undermine the argument that banning same-sex marriage would promote children`s welfare?
And if many voters were simply expressing their moral and religious preferences, Walker asked, "why is legislating based on moral disapproval of homosexuality not tantamount to discrimination?"
On the other hand, he asked Prop. 8`s opponents, is it possible that voters sincerely believed the measure would promote a non-discriminatory goal, such as encouraging child-rearing by biological parents? And would such a belief shield Prop. 8 from the accusation that it was rooted in bias?
That is an important inquiry, said Andrew Pugno, a lawyer for sponsors of the measure. While insisting that Prop. 8 furthers important public interests, he said the deciding question should be "whether the voters could have rationally decided to continue defining marriage in the traditional way."
But Therese Stewart, San Francisco`s chief deputy city attorney, said speculation about public attitudes is beside the point. The U.S. Supreme Court, she said, refused to speculate about voters` possible benign motives when it struck down a Colorado ballot measure in 1996 that would have prohibited cities from protecting gays and lesbians against discrimination.
The court said the Colorado measure was unconstitutionally motivated by anti-gay bigotry. San Francisco has joined lawyers for two same-sex couples in arguing before Walker that Prop. 8 is invalid for the same reason.
In a separate development Tuesday, the state Fair Political Practices Commission said the Mormon Church had agreed to pay a $5,500 fine for failing to report $37,000 worth of assistance to the Prop. 8 campaign shortly before the 2008 election.
June 09, 2010
Only a fraction of those in need file for bankruptcy
(USA Today) Bankruptcy filings are nearing the record 2 million of 2005, when a new law took effect that was aimed at curbing abuse of the system. Filings could reach 1.7 million this year, says law professor Robert Lawless, but few experts believe that debtors are now gaming the system.
Instead, concern exists about a growing number of Americans who need bankruptcy protection but cannot get any benefit from it or simply cannot afford to file. As their financial problems worsen, that hurts everyone because it can hinder the economic turnaround.
"It`s shocking that we are back to the 2005 level," says Katherine Porter, associate professor of law at the University of Iowa. "And the filing rate doesn`t even begin to count the depth of the financial pain."
Bankruptcy laws changed in 2005 because filings skyrocketed and credit card companies and banks wanted to weed out deadbeat borrowers. The law made it harder — more expensive and more restrictive — for individuals to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which erases most debts.
Instead of seeking protection from bankruptcy, a number of debt-laden Americans have gone into a "shadow economy," or informal bankruptcy, according to some experts.
The signs are there: Student loan defaults and home foreclosures are rising, and bank card loan defaults have increased from 7.7% in March to 9.1% in April, according to S&P/Experian Consumer Credit Default Indices. But during the same two months, bankruptcy filings fell by 4%.
Bankruptcy is supposed to provide a fresh start to people who are in serious financial distress. But only a fraction are filing, Porter says.
Mormon Church to be fined by state political commission over Proposition 8
(Los Angeles Times) The state Fair Political Practices Commission is expected to fine the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for not properly reporting about $37,000 worth of contributions to pass California`s ban on same-sex marriages.
The commission will fine the Salt Lake City-based church $5,538 for failing to report the numerous contributions. The fine comes in response to a complaint filed in November 2008 by Fred Karger, a gay-rights activist and co-founder of Californians Against Hate, who accused the Mormon Church of failing to report the value of the work it did to support Proposition 8.
"The investigation revealed that the church unintentionally failed to file daily reports detailing approximately $37,000 in non-monetary contributions," a statement on the church`s website read. "The amount of contributions not reported represented the cost of staff time spent by church employees on activities to help the Yes on 8 committee during the final two weeks of the election."
The church said it cooperated in the investigation and expected the matter to be resolved this week.
Roman Porter, executive director of the political practices commission, said a determination to adopt that proposed fine will be considered Thursday when the commission meets.
June 09, 2010
Reuters cropping knives out of flotilla photos?
(WorldNetDaily) Is Reuters cropping news photos to improve the image of Muslim flotilla attackers?
As WND reported, activists on a six-ship flotilla headed to the Gaza Strip had planned to lynch the Israeli commandos who stormed the ship, according to indications at the scene encountered by Israeli forces.
Israeli navy commandos raided the flotilla, encountering heavy resistance and live fire from the activists. Several activists were killed and dozens were reportedly injured, as were several of the Israeli commandos.
During the boarding of one of the ships, the Marmara, pro-Palestinian activists onboard attacked Israel Defense Forces Naval personnel with live fire and light weaponry including knives and clubs, an IDF spokesperson said.
Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs spotted the purported alteration after comparing one photo released by Islamist website IHH to another released by Reuters.
The following May 31 photo of a bloody Israeli commando being taken hostage aboard the Marmara appeared on IHH. A knife can be seen on the right side as well as the bloody hand of another wounded person.
Reuters told Fox News it had no intention of altering the political meanings of the photographs.
"The images in question were made available in Istanbul, and following normal editorial practice were prepared for dissemination, which included cropping at the edges," Reuters said in a statement. "When we realized that a dagger was inadvertently cropped from the images, Reuters immediately moves the original set as well."
Johnson notes that these cases are not the first time Reuters has been accused of altering news photos. A 2006 photo of Beirut buildings following an Israeli air raid showed thick, black plumes of smoke that appeared to be doctored, according to his report.
As WND reported, a similar incident occurred in 2005 when USA Today pulled a photograph of Condoleeza Rice from its website after a weblog revealed it was manipulated, giving the former secretary of state a menacing, demon-eyesing stare.
After a host of blogs highlighted the photo, USA Today removed it, claiming an editor sharpened the photo and brightened a portion of Rice`s face, "giving her eyes an unnatural appearance."
June 09, 2010
Voters OK open primaries, deny public $ for races
(TownHall) Blaming political parties for California`s dysfunction, voters have replaced their partisan primary, but there`s no guarantee it will change government.
The passage of Proposition 14 gives the nation`s most populous state an open primary where voters can cast ballots for any candidate.
"Californians hate their state`s politics and they are looking for measures to change it," said Jack Pitney, a political science professor at Claremont McKenna College.
But it`s doubtful Proposition 14 will be the panacea to political stalemate in Sacramento, Pitney added.
Democrats will likely continue representing liberal regions of the state, with Republicans elected in the fewer Republican areas.
One of five measures on the ballot, Proposition 14 was backed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has long argued that centrist candidates rarely win primaries dominated by party activists.
He praised voters for "bringing real accountability to government and putting the people back in charge of the politicians."
Despite their willingness to reform primaries, voters rejected Proposition 15, a measure to experiment with public funding of political campaigns.
Also Tuesday, voters overwhelmingly adopted Proposition 13, a measure that would exempt earthquake-safety improvements from property taxes.
Other ballot measures that were too close to call were proposals to impose voter oversight of public power and authorize insurance companies to charge higher rates to drivers who have not always carried car insurance.
Republican and Democratic parties complained that Proposition 14 would give well-funded special interests the greatest sway over the election process, arguing that candidates would be beholden to big-money donors, not voters.
Third parties said they feared their candidates would be shut out of general elections because minor candidates typically draw fewer votes.
Until now, California voters have been limited in most primary elections to casting ballots for candidates of only the political party they are registered with. Decline-to-state voters are the only ones who can pick a party ballot of their choice.
But by the 2012 primaries, a voter in the nation`s most populous state will be able to cast a ballot for any candidate, regardless of party affiliation. However, presidential candidates would still compete in a party primary.
Under the new system, two candidates of the same party could face off in a general election in state and federal races.
Thomas Garner, 65, said he voted for an open primary because he can`t see a difference between Republicans and Democrats.
"They fight like cats and dogs, but in the end they`re all the same. The system is broken," said Garner, an attorney from San Diego.
Proposition 14 is patterned after a law in Washington state that has been in effect since 2008. That law was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, although some provisions are still in litigation.
Louisiana also has a similar open contest for its general election and sends the top two vote-getters to a runoff.
Voters were divided on two initiatives put on the ballot by two companies eager to expand their business.
Proposition 16, funded by Pacific Gas & Electric, would amend the California Constitution to require local governments to get two-thirds voter approval before they could use tax dollars to start a power agency.
Proposition 17, was put on the ballot by Mercury Insurance in a bid to overturn a state law that prohibits insurance companies from considering a driver`s insurance history to set rates. It also would allow loyalty discounts to follow customers if they switch insurance companies.
"That`s surprising to me, they are too close to call with the immense amount of money spent on each side," said Bob Stern, president of the Los Angeles-based Center for Governmental Studies. "You have to give the voters some credit for seeing through it."
June 10, 2010
Publisher Provides Disclaimer With U.S. Constitution, Will Media Notice?
June 07, 2010
`God bless` to be banned in Florida schools?
(WorldNetDaily) Lawmakers in Florida have decided to slap down school boards whose members try to appease the ACLU with a "consent decree" or other agreement that limits student, faculty and staff religious and speech rights protected by the First Amendment.
The new law, which goes into effect July 1, is a response to a school-endorsed "consent degree" in the Santa Rosa County SchoolDistrict that demanded a student change "God bless" to "good luck." The law requires a school to get permission from those whose rights are impacted before agreeing to any such plan.
The state`s new HB 31 reads, "District school boards, administrative personnel, and instructional personnel are prohibited from taking affirmative action, including, but not limited to, the entry into any agreement, that infringes or waives the rights or freedoms afforded to instructional personnel, school staff, or students by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, in the absence of the express written consent of any individual whose constitutional rights would be impacted by such infringement or waiver."
Mathew Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel and dean of Liberty University School of Law, said, "Liberty Counsel will ask the Santa Rosa School District to request the court to reconsider the consent decree in light of this new law. Liberty Counsel will continue to press this case until the consent decree is set aside. Not only is the decree unconstitutional, it is also moot, since the ACLU student plaintiffs graduated three weeks before the order became final.
"This consent decree," he said, "drafted by the ACLU and agreed to by the superintendent, is the most unconstitutional order I have ever read. It was written as though the First Amendment does not exist. It is only a matter of time before this consent decree is overturned."
The claims against Santa Rosa County School District began in August 2008 when two anonymous students sued with the help of the ACLU over longstanding practices at the school allowing prayer at some events. The school`s separate counsel had agreed to a consent decree that "essentially bans all Santa Rosa County School District employees from engaging in prayer or religious activities," Liberty Counsel reported.
Liberty Counsel lawyers said they volunteered to work for free for the school to protect the First Amendment rights at issue.
Bible Course Adopted in Chino Valley School District
This week Chino Valley School District Board Members voted (5-0) to adopt a new course titled, "Bible as/in Literature and History", available to high school seniors this fall.
The course is described as "a survey of the Bible with emphasis on its historical, literary, geographical, artistic, and cultural aspects. The course offers insight into the many historical events of the bible. It treats the Bible as a great literary work in itself as well as a primary source of allusions found in countless works of literature, art, and music.
The first half of the course focuses primarily on the content and history of the Hebrew Scriptures of the Old Testament, and the second half focuses on the New Testament. The curriculum will also familiarize students with the influence of the Bible on law, history, literature, and the culture of western civilization. This course maintains religious neutrality and accommodates the diverse religious views, traditions, and perspectives of students. This course does not endorse, favor, or promote, or disfavor or show hostility toward any particular religion or nonreligious faith or religious perspective. This course serves as an elective in the area of social studies and fulfills the "g" requirement for UC/CSU admissions.
This course is offered to equip students with the fundamental understanding of the influence of the Bible on history, law, American community life, understand the Biblical influences on their views on human rights; provide a greater knowledge of Middle-Eastern history, geography, religion, and politics; and, to inform the student of the important literary forms contained in the Bible."
Please send an email thanking School Board Vice President James Na, who spearheaded this effort, Michael G. Calta, Charles E. Dickie, Sylvia Orozco, and Fred Youngblood.
James Na Vice President email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael G. Calta Clerk email: email@example.com
Charles E. Dickie Member email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sylvia Orozco Member email: email@example.com
Fred Youngblood, Jr. President email: firstname.lastname@example.org
June 04, 2010
Join the Call2Fall on our knees for America
(Family Research Council) America is in trouble. We are a broken nation full of broken people who have broken God`s laws and broken God`s heart. Like ancient Israel, we are feeling the consequences (2 Chron. 7:13). Yet if God`s people in America were to respond in humility and repentance, God might be pleased to hear, forgive, and heal our land (2 Chron. 7:14). That is why FRC President Tony Perkins has re-launched the Call2Fall for 2010, which is based on God`s call in 2 Chronicles 7:14.
Pastor, we are asking that you commit to spend at least 5 minutes of your Sunday, July 4th worship services on your knees before the Lord, to repent of our sins and seek God`s face on behalf of our nation. The very day we celebrate our national "Independence," we need to re-declare our spiritual "Dependence" upon God!
To join churches all across America for the Call2Fall:
Obviously, every church is different. As pastor, you know your people and how best to lead them to take part in the Call2Fall. Last year some churches observed the Call2Fall by conducting solemn assemblies. Others declared a 40 day fast leading up to the event. Some rearranged their church services to take more time than usual for congregational prayer. But all spent at least of 5 minutes on their knees in repentant prayer for our nation.
We are busy putting together FREE resources for pastors, including sermon starters, bulletin inserts, PowerPoint announcements, videos, etc. to help you and your people prepare for this year`s Call2Fall. The website has many helpful materials you can use to promote and lead the effort on July 4th.
Please sign up and help us get the word out to your pastor friends, ministerial associations, denominational leaders, etc. An estimated one million people joined in last year`s Call2Fall. We already have nearly 200,000 signed up for this year`s effort with very limited promotion. As of today, the Call2Fall is one month away, so time is short.
What could God do if millions of His people across America were to answer the Call2Fall and really mean it? I would love to find out, wouldn`t you?
Dr. Kenyn M. Cureton Vice President for Church Ministries
June 04, 2010
Majority of Teens Staying Abstinent
(CitizenLink) Not everyone is having sex in high school, according to a government report. The 2006-08 National Survey of Family Growth shows that 60 percent of unmarried teens in the U.S. have not had sex, according to the National Center for Health Statistics
Mike McManus, president of Marriage Savers, said it proves young people will listen to the message that they should wait.
"Those who remain chaste have much lower divorce rates than those who are sexually active," he said. "The sexually active are about two-thirds more likely to divorce than those who are chaste."
Paul Birch, director of the Institute for Research and Evaluation, said the survey numbers are encouraging, especially in a culture where teens are bombarded with the message that sex is the norm.
"The truth is that there`s really no social, scientific evidence that I`m aware of," he said, "that exclusively demonstrates that having sex is a healthy behavior for youth to be doing at this stage in their life."
June 04, 2010
George W. Bush, now on Facebook
(Politico) Karl Rove once said that former President George W. Bush would never Twitter he clearly didn`t rule out Facebook.
The 43rd president launched his Facebook page today and it`s quite packed with links: you can pre-order his forthcoming book, "Decision Points," or visit any one of the following — the George W. Bush Presidential Center, the George W. Bush Institute, the Bush-Cheney Alumni Association, the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund and the Washington Speakers Bureau. (Who can blame him? Isn`t Facebook just about self-promotion, anyway?).
"Since leaving office, President Bush has remained active," says the page`s first post. "He has visited 20 states and 8 countries; given over 65 speeches; launched the George W. Bush Presidential Center; participated in 4 policy conferences through The Bush Institute; finished the first draft of his memoir, `Decision Points`; and partnered with President Clinton to establish the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund. More on his activities in future posts. ..."
Wonder if Laura Bush is upset that her husband hasn`t yet articulated his relationship status.
June 04, 2010
Religious liberty and the normalization of homosexual behavior in the military
"You should present history has it happened -- the good, the bad, the ugly; the right, the left, the center; the anything else that is out there," argues the Christian historian. "And I think that`s the final product that we got, despite all the media clamor to the otherwise. When you just read the standards, they`re extremely balanced, extremely fair, and extremely thorough."
Barton explains to OneNewsNow that the standards will have students examine the founding documents.
"They have to spend a week every year on 12 grade levels studying the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration [of Independence]; and memorizing lengthy segments from those documents," he says.
According to Barton, not everyone is pleased with that requirement. "...These standards really are a throwback," he points out, "and this is pretty scary to a lot of people who want to see America change fundamentally in a new direction."
The WallBuilders founder explains that among the new standards is a focus on "American exceptionalism."
"There is a reason that we`re the only nation in the world that does not average a revolution every 30 to 40 years; there`s a reason that we have four percent of the world`s population [and] 25 percent of the world`s wealth," he notes.
And an emphasis on individuals, not groups. "...I think that`s a real positive thing for kids not to feel like they have to be a part of identity politics, that they have to belong to some group or have to be identified by some group," Barton concludes. "We want them to be identified as Americans."
The new standards, which will be in place for the next ten years, also include an amendment in the curriculum comparing and contrasting the phrase "separation of church and state" with the Founding Fathers` intent to protect religious freedom. Because Texas is a large textbook market, other school districts around the country frequently buy the same education materials.
June 04, 2010
Objective: Displacing judicial activism
(OneNewsNow) A group of conservative Christians have banded together in an effort to unseat four California judges -- a rare move in what are typically unnoticed races.
Political experts say most voters go into the voter`s booth with little to no knowledge about candidates running for judge -- but four attorneys seeking San Diego Superior Court judgeships are out to change that. They have the support of pastors, gun enthusiasts, and pro-life and traditional marriage advocates.
These conservative candidates campaign under the banner "Better Courts Now," created by the late Don Hamer, who pastored Zion Christian Fellowship in San Diego and campaigned for California`s ban on same-gender "marriage."
Brian Hendry, now pastor at Zion Christian, continues the charge to bring family values to the state`s bench.
"The judicial activism in California has been rampant, and there seems to be no respect for the will of the people [or] for the Constitution itself," Hendry exclaims. "And we [felt that] we have to do something -- so we`re going to target the judiciary and see if we can`t work to get some good, godly men on the bench."
California is one of 33 states that elect its judges. Some say many of these judges attempt to legislate from the bench a liberal worldview. Organizers of Better Courts Now say they have recruited highly qualified Christian candidates who will rule fairly while seeking godly wisdom.
Craig Candelore, a family law attorney and West Point graduate, is one of the group`s candidates. He says it is time for a change with California judges.
"Truly, I think people realize that there`s a crisis, there`s a financial crisis, there`s a cultural crisis," he shares, "and that the old conservative values, family values, are real important [and that] we need to get back our core values."
Critics are fearful these candidates will simply promote the moral agenda of the religious right. But organizers of Better Courts Now say judges simply need to be held accountable for their rulings, rule within their established boundaries, and display common sense.
June 04, 2010
Leaders unite, boycott Comedy Central`s blasphemy
(OneNewsNow) Christian groups are rising up as a team to oppose a new Comedy Central program that denigrates Jesus.
The main character of the animated project is Jesus, who lives in New York and is intent on breaking ties with his "powerful but apathetic father."
"You can imagine the mockery and blasphemy and sacrilege that will go on with that, and so American Family Association [AFA] has decided to join other groups to speak out strongly against this," explains AFA president Tim Wildmon. "In fact, we would consider a boycott of the sponsors of this program."
He is quick to point out that a few weeks ago, Comedy Central edited out a segment from South Park that was disrespectful of Mohammed after a Moslem activist group complained. Wildmon, along with those in the Coalition Against Religious Bigotry, feel that creates a double standard.
"It seems like something that Comedy Central should take note of, that Christians will not stand by and let this happen with our Lord and Savior either," the AFA president comments. "We will respond economically and in other ways to what Comedy Central`s doing here."
The program -- titled JC -- is steps away from gaining approval, so potential advertisers are being asked to consider placing their advertising elsewhere in order to avoid glorifying religious bigotry.
June 03, 2010
Lombardy (Italy) Offers Women $5.5K to Reject Abortion
(LifeSiteNews.com) - Women in Italy`s northern region of Lombardy who are considering abortion out of financial fears, will be offered monetary assistance of up to €4500 (US $5500) per year, Roberto Formigoni, president of the regional government announced last month. The Lombardy regional government has offered pregnant women in financial difficulties €250 for 18 months after the birth of their child.
"No woman will abort in Lombardy because of economic difficulties," Formigoni said during the regional elections in March.
The Italian birth rate is at an all-time low, with 1.32 children born per woman, far from the rate of 2.1 needed to maintain a stable population. Italy ranks 206th of 223 countries in fertility rates and is expecting dramatic reductions in population over the next decades.
The compensation project, said Lomardy`s family commissioner Julius Boscagli, is timely now that economic and social instability is pushing more women into abortions.
Formigoni, founder with Rocco Buttiglione of the socially conservative United Christian Democrats party, has been accused by feminists of using the abortion issue as a conservative propaganda effort. But Boscagli responded, saying, "Our measure was born of experience and the results obtained from those who work in the field for decades closely with women`s problems."
"This is not demagoguery," Boscagli said. "And it is interesting to note that those who make the law 194 [Italy`s abortion law] a flag of progress always forget the first two articles of the law". These state that regions must take "necessary steps to ensure that abortion is not used for limiting births" and that women receive maternity assistance after difficult births.
"What we are doing in Lombardy with the primary objective to minimize the tragedy of abortion," he said.
June 03, 2010
November Elections See Flood of Candidates
(CitizenLink) Thousands of people are throwing their hats in the ring in the upcoming midterm election, according to the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
The FEC says more than 2,300 people will vie for 471 House and Senate seats, the most candidates in the last 35 years.
Frustration with the Obama administration, the popular Tea Party movement and a general anti-incumbent sentiment may be at the heart of the increase.
Bruce Ray Riggs, a candidate for the Florida Senate, said he favors giving the states more powers.
"I had to sell my four-wheeler to pay (the filing fee), and I did," he said. "It`s worth it. (Congress) has railroaded the American people."
June 03, 2010
Internet Gambling Ban Goes Into Effect
(CitizenLink) Law makes it easier for the DOJ to find and prosecute illegal online gambling operations.
After four years of stalling, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) regulations went into effect Tuesday.
The law will work to block thousands of international gambling operations from preying on U.S. citizens and make it easier for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to prosecute illegal operations.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said the new law will have an impact almost immediately.
"This is going to be a new tool for both federal and state law enforcement officials," he said, "to crack down on those who are engaged in taking bets from people in the United States at these unregulated, illegal offshore sites."
Under the law, banks must stop payment to any, foreign online gambling operation not licensed in the U.S. Opponents of UIGEA claim that will be too difficult, but Chad Hills, gambling analyst for CitizenLink, said it will be as easy as making a list.
"There`s nothing ambiguous about having to prove you are licensed in the U.S.," he said. "All banks already have systems in place to stop payment to illegal or dangerous entities – this will simply lengthen that list."
Some members of Congress, including Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., have been dragging their feet hoping to get lawmakers to legalize online gambling. Frank has introduced a bill with a goal of decriminalizing the industry and gleaning federal tax revenues.
John Kindt, professor of business and legal policy at the University of Illinois, said they ignore the social costs associated with gambling and addiction.
"Gambling on the Internet destabilizes economies, it destabilizes financial systems, it would make all of our economic problems worse," he said. "This would put the worst form of gambling at every school desk, at every work desk and in every living room."
A poll from Fairleigh Dickinson University shows 67 percent of respondents want Internet gambling to remain illegal. Other surveys also show most people opposed to gambling in their own communities.
"If Americans don`t want a single casino in their own town," Hills said, "they certainly don`t want several thousand online casinos piped into their homes."
June 03, 2010
Lawmakers vote to raise kindergarten age
(L.A. Now) The earliest age at which California children could start kindergarten would go up three months under a measure passed by the state Senate on Wednesday. Youngsters would have to turn 5 by Sept. 1 under the proposal, which would reduce the state’s kindergarten population by 100,000.
The state would save big money by booting all those kids out of kindergarten. But proponents of the legislation say half of the $700 million to be saved would go to helping those same children through expanded public preschool programs. The rest would go toward closing the state deficit.
"Both the research and our classroom teachers are telling us that California kids are starting kindergarten too young,’’ said Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), the author of SB 1381. "The net result is it’s not good for them educationally and it’s not good for the other kids in the classroom who get a little less attention because the teachers are struggling to deal with those young 4-year-olds.’’
The measure, which next goes to the state Assembly, passed on a 28-4 vote after it was opposed by the California Teachers Assn. "The current state preschool program is not accessible to all children and we do not believe it is appropriate to displace students without access to preschool," the teachers group said in a written protest. Some parent groups, however, support the age change.
June 03, 2010
Bus driver intimidates school girl
(American Family Assoc.) Watch the video (click here) of a school bus driver in Indiana who lectures a girl on gay rights, calling the student a "stupid little bigot" and saying that she would "eat the girl alive." The bus driver was not disciplined in any way for her impromptu lecture and hateful remarks to the girl. In fact, when the girl`s father, Dr. Andrew Zimmer, complained to the school about the bus driver`s actions, he was told that the behavior of the driver fell within the scope of her employment. If you find this video as disturbing, you may contact the school superintendent at (317) 844-9961, ext. 1048, to demand disciplinary action for the bus drive.
June 03, 2010
Ontario council eyes `In God we trust` for seal
(The Sun) Councilman Alan Wapner wants to bring God back into city government.
Inspired by the e-mailed words of a Bakersfield-based nonprofit, he is asking City Council members to consider adding the words "In God We Trust" to the bottom of the city seal.
While recently checking his e-mails, Wapner came across a request from In God We Trust America, a volunteer-based organization asking the state`s elected officials to display the nation`s motto under the emblems of their respective cities.
The letter prompted Wapner to place the item on tonight`s council agenda.
"I took a look at that, and it tugged at my heart," Wapner said. "It is found in the Pledge of Allegiance, on our currency, so why not post `In God We Trust` on our city seal?"
Wapner, who is Jewish, said the idea`s inclusive, nonsecular nature appealed to him.
"It`s not specific to any religion," he said, adding that his rabbi agreed with him.
But Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of Freedom from Religion Foundation, scoffs at the reasoning, calling it "misguided."
"What`s God got to do with City Hall?" she said.
The national motto, Gaylor said, should be "E Pluribus Unum," which is Latin for "One from many."
"This is worth a court battle, because it has an impact up close and personal. An atheist person can go before the City Council, and that`s staring you in the face," she said. "It`s proselytizing."
Gaylor said she was aware of the mission of the organization, but did not know Ontario`s council would be voting on it.
The foundation is no stranger to the Inland Valley.
In September 2009, Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Riverside, claiming Rancho Cucamonga and Redevelopment Director Linda Daniels violated the group`s free-speech rights. The foundation had a billboard at Archibald Avenue and Foothill Boulevard that displayed the message "Imagine No Religion." The billboard was supposed to be up for a month, but was removed almost a week after it went up, according to the foundation.
About 15 percent of the nation`s population and about 17 percent of California`s population are atheists, she said.
"We have members in Ontario. I know people in Ontario," Gaylor said.
The wording would only be added to the city seal that is displayed at council meetings, Wapner said.
The exact cost for the addition to the city seal has not been determined, but Wapner said he would not put the financial burden on the taxpayer. He offered to pay for it himself, but he said the council has agreed to help pick up the tab.
In the Inland Empire, the item has already been approved by the cities of Chino, Highland and Victorville.
To date, 64 cities in the state and more than 70 cities nationwide have made the change, said Jacquie Sullivan, founder of In God We Trust America.
"I think it`s important to promote our motto," she said. "It promotes patriotism, and to most of us it promotes our love of God and our love for this country."
The longtime Bakersfield councilwoman said she started the movement in 2002 after she heard about efforts on the East Coast to remove the phrase from government buildings.
"If they`re going to fight to take it down, then I`m going to work to put it up," she said.
At the time, some in the Bakersfield council were opposed to the idea, but Sullivan said it eventually passed by a 6-1 vote.
Instituting the language is not about imposing religion into government, Sullivan said, adding that it became the nation`s motto when it was approved by Congress in 1956.
"It is our right to publicly display our nation`s motto," she said.
Councilman Jim Bowman found the request to be reasonable and wouldn`t mind making the donation.
"We need to stick with the strength of the country. This country has its moral roots in that saying, and we should operate that way," Bowman said.
Mayor Paul Leon, who is also a Christian pastor, said the motto `In God We Trust` is an icon of American culture, history and faith.
"To say any different is to deny the facts of history," Leon said.
June 03, 2010
More teen girls says they use rhythm method of birth control
About 17 percent of sexually experienced teen girls told researchers for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that they had used the rhythm method -- timing their sex to avoid fertile days to prevent getting pregnant. That figure is up from 11 percent in a similar survey in 2002.
Nearly 64 percent of teen boys said it`s all right for an unmarried female to have a child, up from 50 percent in 2002. More than 70 percent of teen girls agreed, up from 65 percent, although the female increase was not statistically significant.
Researchers found that about 42 percent of never-married teens had had sex at least once. Of those teens, 98 percent said they had used birth control at least once, with condoms being the most common choice. Those findings were about the same as in the 2002 survey.
June 03, 2010
With Obama`s blessings, LGBT month kicks off
(Christian Post) The day after the House and a Senate committee voted to repeal the U.S. military`s ban on homosexuals serving openly in the military, President Barack Obama ushered in another month-long celebration of the homosexual lifestyle.
As he did last year -- and as President Bill Clinton did for the first time in 2000 -- Obama proclaimed the month of June as "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month." President George W. Bush issued no such proclamations during his two terms in the Oval Office.
Obama`s proclamation on Friday touts how his administration has "advanced our journey" in what he describes as a "movement for fairness and equality" for the LGBT community. He cites specifically the signing into law of the controversial "hate crimes" legislation and the elimination of the HIV entry ban into the U.S.
The proclamation also delineates the president`s intentions to repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act, to secure adoption rights for LGBT "families," and to bring the military`s "don`t ask, don`t tell" policy to an end.
June 03, 2010
Brain + synthetic DNA = ID
(Christian Post) A Christian biochemist says the creation of the first synthetic cell is a powerful argument for intelligent design.
Scientists recently announced they had successfully replaced all the natural DNA inside a cell with laboratory-synthesized DNA, resulting in the first synthetic cell. Dr. Fazale Rana, a biochemist at the science-faith think tank Reasons to Believe, finds the work -- from an apologetics standpoint -- exciting.
"When work like this is done, the claim is that if we can create life in the lab, then there`s no need for God, because if we can make life, then it`s easy to think about how life could have originated all on its own," Rana explains. "So the point would be it`s hard to envision how life could emerge or be transformed apart from the work of a mind. So this is providing direct evidence that life can`t originate unless an intelligent agent is involved in creating that life."
The biochemist does not believe there is high potential for someone to use the discovery for sinister purposes.
"The amount of effort it takes to do even these simple transformations is incredible, and there`s no way that somebody is going to go into their garage and effect this type of process to produce pathogenic or some kind of sinister organisms," he assures.
Researchers say the discovery could lead to faster vaccine production and also could help produce new chemicals or food ingredients.
June 03, 2010
Doubt expressed over `dialogue` with pro-aborts
(Christian Post) The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) has adopted a resolution to pursue "common ground" towards reducing abortion in the United States. But one longtime pro-life activist calls the plan "a dead-end road."
Engaging in what it calls "fresh national dialogue" to decrease abortions in America, the NAE resolution includes contraception as one of several possible means of achieving that goal. It also states that "some longtime opponents in the debate over the legality of abortion" have shown an interest participating in the dialogue.
OneNewsNow asked NAE`s director of government affairs Galen Carey if that means working with groups like Planned Parenthood. He said it is too soon in the project to identify organizations that might be included.
"We are looking to work with people from across the political spectrum and organizations with a variety of perspectives," he responds, "provided that they would be willing to work on this issue of reducing abortions."
Asked if NAE would align itself with groups that promote condoms and contraceptives, Carey pointed to a Gallup study that suggests the vast majority of evangelicals support the use of contraceptives as part of an ethical family-planning program.
"So, yes, I think we would be happy to work with people who also are involved in family-planning efforts," he replies, "provided that they are willing to actually work on reducing the number of abortions."
But Joe Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League points out that distribution of condoms and contraceptives has led to promiscuity, and that many times groups promoting life have tried to talk with abortion and contraceptive proponents, to no avail. Very little can be accomplished by sitting at the same table as abortion supporters, he contends, because abortion is their business.
"...This [approach] has been tried over and over and over again and it never works, because we`re talking about human life-- and how do you make compromise on human life?" he asks.
"These are stupid people who try to do something like that," the pro-life activist continues. "I don`t care who they are [or] how sophisticated they may think they are -- they`re on a dead-end road."
NAE says on the other hand that a million abortions every year in the U.S. is unacceptable, and the organization wants "honest conversation" on effective ways to reduce abortion. The evangelical group also states it will not desert its principle of ending abortion.
June 03, 2010
Calif. Senate Passes Bill to Counter Texas Curriculum
(Christian Post) The California Senate passed a bill Friday to prevent the new Texas social studies curriculum from unknowingly affecting its textbooks.
In a bipartisan 25 to 5 vote, state lawmakers approved SB 1451 that requires California’s Board of Education to review and report any discrepancies between the new Texas curriculum and California’s standard.
Since Texas is the second largest textbook market in the country, changes to its curriculum are expected to influence publishers and thus textbooks used in classrooms nationwide. But the California Senate, whose state has largest textbook market in the country, pushed back against the Texas standard by passing SB 1451 legislation.
About a week ago, the Texas State Board of Education approved a new social studies curriculum that places more emphasis on the role of Christianity in the founding of the nation, among other changes.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State and Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), who wrote and sponsored SB 1451, complained that the new Texas standard seeks to promote a closer relationship between church and state.
In a statement, the AU accused the “right-wind fundamentalists” on the Texas State Board of Education of being “determined to rewrite American history.”
But supporters of the standard retorted that it is the “fringe left” who tried to rewrite history books.
“Liberal fringe efforts to complicate, obfuscate, and denigrate our heritage and history must be rejected,” said Jonathan Saenz, director of legislative affairs at the faith-based legal group Liberty Institute.
The new Texas standard was approved after 18 months of work and will serve to guide curriculum in the state’s public schools for the next ten years.
Some 4.8 million K-12 students in Texas will be directly affected by the new curriculum.
By comparison, California has more than 6.2 million students attending K-12 public schools.
As the two states battle to influence the nation’s textbooks, some inside the industry, however, say neither will affect the nation’s curriculum because states can now digitally customize textbooks.
Bill SB 1451 will next face a vote in the California Assembly, and if passed, will head to the desk of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for approval.
June 03, 2010
`Gay marriage` - the nays still have it
(Christian Post) A recent Gallup poll shows a slight increase in the number of Americans expressing approval for homosexual "marriage."
The poll shows that of the 1,029 Americans surveyed, 53 percent oppose homosexual marriage, which is the same figure reported in 2007. Meanwhile, 44 percent support it.
"I think one thing that this poll shows is that despite a massive propaganda campaign pushed by the homosexual activist lobby, by the Obama administration and liberals in Congress, an impressive majority of Americans still understand that marriage is as marriage has always been -- between a man and a woman -- and that the notion of so-called same-sex `marriage` is ridiculous," comments Matt Barber, director of cultural affairs for Liberty Counsel.
He believes that when homosexual marriage is on the radar -- or in other words, when it is being strongly pushed by the media -- polls show stronger opposition to it. So Barber does not believe the slight increase in support is a trend by any means. He adds that the 53 percent need to be more vocal about their opposition to same-gender marriage.
That same Gallup poll indicated distinct differences about same-sex marriage between Democrats and Republicans (56% of Democrats support it, as compared to 28% of Republicans); and between Americans who hold differing religious significance -- 70% who consider religion very important oppose it, as do 37% who consider religion only fairly important; only 27% who consider religion not important at all were opposed to it.
June 02, 2010
Cantor pressures Obama to veto any U.N. resolution `biased` against Israel
(The Hill) The only Jewish Republican in Congress pressured President Barack Obama to veto any "biased" U.N. resolutions in response to an Israeli military attack on a flotilla.
House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) pushed for Obama to exercise the veto power the United States enjoys as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council to nix a resolution that chastises Israel`s military incident Monday involving a flotilla, or group of small boats, trying to access Gaza in spite of a blockade.
"As information continues to filter in, I urge the President and his administration to continue to gather all the facts, and if necessary, to veto any biased U.N. resolutions reining in Israel’s right to defend itself," Cantor said Tuesday in a statement.
The Security Council might take up a resolution that could condemn Israel`s actions. The military engaged the flotilla after warning aid groups last month that an attempt to penetrate the blockade could result in use of force. Amateur videos of the conflict depict force being used on both sides.
The incident resulted in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu having to cancel a planned meeting on Tuesday with Obama, to be rescheduled at an indefinite time in the future.
While the administration has said it is waiting for all the facts of the incident to emerge before drawing any conclusions, Cantor said that the U.N. itself was rushing to judgment and assuming the worst about Israel.
"Before predictably rushing to level hyperbolic accusations at Israel, it’s important for the United Nations to consider all the facts surrounding this incident," he said.
June 02, 2010
Groups want FCC to police hate speech on talk radio, cable news networks
(The Hill) The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is being urged to monitor "hate speech" on talk radio and cable broadcast networks.
A coalition of more than 30 organizations argue in a letter to the FCC that the Internet has made it harder for the public to separate the facts from bigotry masquerading as news.
The groups also charge that syndicated radio and cable television programs "masquerading as news" use hate as a profit model.
"As traditional media have become less diverse and less competitive, they have also grown less responsible and less responsive to the communities that they are supposed to serve," the organizations wrote to the FCC. "In this same atmosphere hate speech thrives, as hate has developed as a profit-model for syndicated radio and cable television program masquerading as `news.`"
The organizations, which include Free Press, the Center for Media Justice, the Benton Foundation and Media Alliance, also argue that the anonymity of the Web gives ammunition to those that would spread hate.
The groups did not mention any specific programming on the right or the left in their letter, which supports a petition filed by the National Hispanic Media Coalition last year requesting a probe of the relationship between hate speech and hate crimes.
The groups argue the Internet has made it harder for the public to separate the facts from bigotry masquerading as news.
"The Internet gives the illusion that news sources have increased, but in fact there are fewer journalists employed now than ever before. Moreover, on the Internet, speakers can hide in the cloak of anonymity, emboldened to say things that they may not say in the public eye."
"For these reasons, as the Commission deliberates how the public interest will be served in the digital age, it should consider the extent of hate speech in media, and its effects."
June 01, 2010
New York "Bathroom Bill” Empowers Predators
Both houses of the New York State Legislature have introduced a bill known as the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA). GENDA is often referred to as the “Bathroom Bill” because it would allow any man who says he feels like a woman trapped in a man’s body access to women’s restrooms, locker rooms, and shower facilities. That name has gotten some traction, causing many advocates in the lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community much consternation.
Senator Duane (D-Manhattan) sponsored the bill, S2406, in the Senate, and Assemblyman Gottfried (D-Manhattan) sponsored the bill, A5710, in the Assembly.
The bill amends 12 sections of the Executive Law, one section of the Civil Rights Law, two sections of the Education Law, five sections of Penal Law, one section of the Criminal Procedure Law, and adds a new section to Executive Law defining gender identity or expression.
The sponsors’ description of the bill states that the bill prohibits discrimination based on gender identity or expression. It defines “gender identity expression” as “having or being perceived as having a gender identity, self-image, appearance, behavior or expression whether or not that gender identity, self-expression, appearance, behavior or expression is different from that traditionally associated with the sex assigned to that person at birth.”
Those sections of the Criminal Law and the Criminal Procedure Law being amended deal with adding “gender identity or expression” to the list of factors that make a crime a hate crime. In other words, those engaging in cross-dressing or other forms of transsexual behavior would now be part of a protected class.
If the bill were to become law, children are left in potentially dangerous situations. For example, if a young female child went into a woman’s restroom and a man followed her into the facilities, her father could not prevent the man from entering the bathroom. If a father tries to stop another male (who is self-identifying as a female) from using the women’s restroom, the father could be charged with a hate crime–a felony offense.
An Empire State Pride Agenda fact sheet regarding GENDA states, “There has never been a reported problem regarding the security of restrooms – including women’s restrooms – in all the jurisdictions where similar laws have been adopted.” Contrary to the fact sheet however, the State of Colorado did notice a series of incidents in the months immediately following the passage of its version of the “Bathroom Bill.” For example:
A female intern at Focus on the Family encountered a man in a women’s restroom in a local airport.
A teen girl saw a man in a women’s restroom at a Colorado Springs-area Wal-Mart. The man then exposed his genitals to the girl.
Two teenage girls discovered a man undressing in a women’s locker room in a Denver-area fitness facility.
A mother and daughter in a Colorado mall bathroom were intruded upon by a man—in his 20s with a red-dyed Mohawk—who spent several minutes in the bathroom.
New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms (NYCF) is opposing the legislation. NYCF’s Executive Director, Rev. Jason J. McGuire, defends their organization’s stance. McGuire says:
“I’m a father of little girls. I believe there are supposed to be some places deemed private for obvious reasons. I want my little girls to feel uncomfortable if they are in the bathroom and a man walks in. That is a healthy fear that protects them from potentially dangerous situations.
“The New York State Legislature, or any governmental jurisdiction, should not be trying to desensitize my girls to those unsafe situations. Stranger danger is a good thing.”
The sponsors state that justification for the legislation is that the transgender community is not protected under current law. They say that transgender people, whose gender identity, appearances, behavior or expression differs from their genetic sex at birth, face discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodations and many other areas of life. They further state that they are particularly vulnerable to hate crimes.
June 01, 2010
Senate Committee OKs Amdt to Allow Abortions at US Military Hospitals
(LifeSiteNews) A Senate committee yesterday approved an amendment to a bill that would turn U.S. military base hospitals into abortion centers. The amendment, sponsored by pro-abortion Sen. Rolland Burris of Illinois, would have the military break with current longstanding policy.
Abortion advocates have tried for years to force military bases hospitals to do abortions on female service members.
The Burris amendment is more expansive than a 2006 effort because it allows abortion on both domestic and overseas military bases.
The Senate Armed Services Committee voted 15-12 for the amendment with all Republicans and Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson voting against it and all other Democrats voting for it.
Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi led the fight in the committee against the amendment and spoke out about it today on the Senate floor.
"The committee yesterday decided to reverse this long-standing policy and to say that indeed abortions, for whatever reason, will be performed in these facilities that are paid for by taxpayer expense," he said.
While military base hospitals should be "there for the care of our service members to keep them healthy and to repair their injuries," Wicker said "we`re going to use those facilities for elective abortions."
Wicker promised pro-life lawmakers would do everything possible in the House and Senate to stop the amendment from going forward.
"But if this stands, our military installations, Fort Bragg, Columbus Air Force Base, Keesler Air Force Base in my home state of Mississippi, their medical facilities will be able to be used for abortions, performed late term, abortions performed for purposes of sex selection, abortions performed for any reason," Wicker complained.
"Abortion-at-will will be the requirement for our military installations and the medical facilities on those installations," he said.
Current law prohibits the performance of abortion by Department of Defense medical personnel or in Department of Defense medical facilities except when the life of the mother is at risk or when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. There is no distinction in this policy between military facilities within the United States and those overseas.
A separate provision prohibits the use of Department of Defense taxpayer funds for abortion except to save the life of the mother.
The issue of abortions done at military base medical centers has been around for two decades.
When ex-President Clinton allowed abortions in military facilities from 1993 to 1996, all military physicians (as well as many nurses and supporting personnel) refused to perform or assist in elective abortions. In response, the Clinton administration attempted to hire civilians to do abortions.