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March 30, 2010
Study: Pornography A Serious Challenge to Public Health

(Parents TV)  A new study suggests that the habitual use of pornography -- especially via the Internet -- damages people of all ages and both sexes, by negatively impacting their relationships, productivity, happiness and ability to function in society.

In the study, Social Costs of Pornography: Statement of Findings and Recommendations, Mary Anne Layden, Director of the Sexual Trauma and Psychopathology Program at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Cognitive Therapy, noted that an overwhelming amount of psychological research indicates that viewing pornography can become so severely addictive that users endanger their jobs, marriages, and families.

And children are especially at risk, said Dr. Layden. "The prevalence of pornography in the lives of many children and adolescents is far more significant than most adults realize. Pornography is deforming the healthy sexual development of young viewers, and is [being] used to exploit children and adolescents," she said.

Social Costs of Pornography is the first multidisciplinary study of pornography in the Internet age. Released by the Witherspoon Institute, the study assembled leading experts in economics, psychology, sociology, and law, to examine the effects of pornography on today`s society. The study particularly focused on why pornography has become so widespread; how pornography today is different and more intense and violent than in the past; how it is harmful to women, relationships, children, consumers, and society at large; and how, with concerted action from legislators, therapists, teachers, policymakers, and responsible corporate leaders, its negative effects can be fought.

"Recent research suggests that pornography consumption -- especially consumption of a more hard-core or violent sort -- has negative effects on individuals and society. Widespread pornography consumption appears to pose a serious challenge to public health and to personal and familial well-being," concluded Hoover Institution research fellow Mary Eberstadt.

To view the study or order a DVD and booklet of its results, click here.

March 30, 2010
Survey: Californians Now More Likely to Favor Gay Marriage

(Christian Post)  Since the Public Policy Institute of California began tracking attitudes on same-sex marriage in the year 2000, residents in the Golden State were always more likely to express opposition. But the latest survey, released Wednesday, found that 50 percent of residents now favor it and 45 percent are against it.

The findings come two years after 52 percent of California voters passed Proposition 8, a state amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The California Supreme Court last year rejected lawsuits against the amendment, ruling that it was not an illegal constitutional revision by the people nor unconstitutional.

But two of the nation`s top litigators – Theodore B. Olson and David Boies, who represented the opposing sides of the Bush v. Gore case in 2000 – filed a federal lawsuit, arguing that it violates the Equal Protection Clause.

Testimonies in the Prop 8 case wrapped up in January but the case was prolonged after Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker ordered opponents of the amendment to turn over campaign materials and internal documents.

According to the PPIC survey, support for same-sex marriage declines with older age, but rises as education and income increase.

Residents in the San Francisco Bay Area are more likely than those in Los Angeles to support allowing gays and lesbians to marry.

Meanwhile, an overwhelming majority of evangelical Christians (75 percent) are opposed to it.

The PPIC survey is part of a series that examines the social, economic, and political trends that influence public policy preferences and ballot choices. Findings are based on a telephone survey of 2,002 California adult residents interviewed on landlines and cell phones from March 9-16, 2010.

March 30, 2010
NPR Ditches ‘Pro-life’ Label in Favor of Left-leaning ‘Abortion Rights Opponent’

(Media Research Center) Words matter. They speak volumes about issues. So when individuals or groups try to change the words associated with a heated political issue, take note and take care.

The folks at National Public Radio understand the power of words. Managing Editor David Sweeney announced yesterday that the station would no longer refer to people in the abortion debate as "pro-choice" and "pro-life." Instead, the station will say "abortion rights advocates" and "abortion rights opponents," according to a memo circulated to NPR staff.

In making this change, NPR is shifting the terms of the debate to make it more friendly to the pro-choice position.

Being pro-something sounds much nicer than being anti-the other thing. So while the pro-choice and pro-life labels may not be particularly profound -- neither group is anti-choice or anti-life, after all -- they do convey each side`s position on a level playing field. One believes women should be able to choose whether to keep a pregnancy, the other believes that even the unborn have an inviolable right to life.

Is NPR planning on referring to advocates of gun control as "gun rights opponents"? As the Cato Institute`s David Boaz wrote earlier this month,

In 415 NPR stories on abortion, I found only one reference to ‘abortion advocates,` in 2005. There are far more references, hundreds more, to ‘abortion rights,` ‘reproductive rights,` and "women`s rights.` And certainly abortion-rights advocates would insist that they are not ‘abortion advocates,` they are advocates for the right of women to choose whether or not to have an abortion. NPR grants them the respect of characterizing them the way they prefer.

I called Sweeney to ask him if NPR was going to change its terminology concerning gun rights. He did not return my call (I will post an update if he does).

NPR has chosen stilted terminology that conveys pro-choicers and pro-lifers in positive and negative lights, respectively. The station could just as easily (though perhaps with less aesthetic appeal) have labeled the two groups "pro-rights of the unborn" and "anti-rights of the unborn."

But NPR apparently does not see it that way. The station`s staff sees the issue -- and now frames it on air -- as a battle over women`s rights, not the rights of the unborn.

"We call them pro-abortion rights and anti-abortion rights because it`s the right to abortion that we`re talking about," said CBS Senior VP Linda Mason, as quoted by Sweeney. "What does pro-life mean? That leaves people scratching their heads."

Well, it certainly leaves the folks at CBS and NPR scratching their heads -- which says a lot about their preconceived notions on the debate.

But is it really that difficult of a concept? Even the unborn have a right to life. "Pro" means for, so "pro-life" means "for life." Simple. But the liberal media have trouble with that concept, and it shows in their reporting.

With its new guidelines, NPR has interacted its staff to frame the abortion issue in a way that is far more friendly to the liberal-Democratic side of the debate.

March 30, 2010
Cuban leader applauds US health-care reform bill

(AP)  It perhaps was not the endorsement President Barack Obama and the Democrats in Congress were looking for.

Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro on Thursday declared passage of American health care reform "a miracle" and a major victory for Obama`s presidency, but couldn`t help chide the United States for taking so long to enact what communist Cuba achieved decades ago.

"We consider health reform to have been an important battle and a success of his (Obama`s) government," Castro wrote in an essay published in state media, adding that it would strengthen the president`s hand against lobbyists and "mercenaries."

But the Cuban leader also used the lengthy piece to criticize the American president for his lack of leadership on climate change and immigration reform, and for his decision to send more troops to Afghanistan, among many other things.

And he said it was remarkable that the most powerful country on earth took more than two centuries from its founding to approve something as basic as health benefits for all.

"It is really incredible that 234 years after the Declaration of Independence ... the government of that country has approved medical attention for the majority of its citizens, something that Cuba was able to do half a century ago," Castro wrote.

The longtime Cuban leader -- who ceded power to his brother Raul in 2008 -- has continued to pronounce his thoughts on world issues though frequent essays, titled "Reflections," which are published in state newspapers.

Cuba provides free health care and education to all its citizens, and heavily subsidizes food, housing, utilities and transportation, policies that have earned it global praise. The government has warned that some of those benefits are no longer sustainable given Cuba`s ever-struggling economy, though it has so far not made major changes.

In recent speeches, Raul Castro has singled out medicine as an area where the government needs to be spending less, but he has not elaborated.

While Fidel Castro was initially positive about Obama, his essays have become increasingly hostile in recent months as relations between Cuba and the United States have soured. Washington has been increasingly alarmed by Cuba`s treatment of political dissidents -- one of whom died in February after a long hunger strike.

Cuba was irate over the island`s inclusion earlier this year on a list of countries Washington considers to be state sponsors of terrorism. Tensions have also risen following the arrest in December of a U.S. government contractor that Havana accuses of spying.

In Thursday`s essay, Castro called Obama a "fanatic believer in capitalist imperialism" but also praised him as "unquestionably intelligent."

"I hope that the stupid things he sometimes says about Cuba don`t cloud over that intelligence," he said.

March 30, 2010
Little-Known Health Care Law Provision Is a Budget Buster, Critics Say

(FoxNews)  While Congress spent the last year debating how to provide health insurance for the uninsured, a little-known provision slipped into the heath care law that could cost some Americans upwards of $2,000 a year.

The Class Act, otherwise known as the Community Living Assistance Services and Support Act, is the federal government`s first long-term care insurance program.

Under-reported and the under the radar of most lawmakers, the program will allow workers to have an average of roughly $150 or $240 a month, based on age and salary, automatically deducted from their paycheck to save for long-term care.

The Congressional Budget Office expects the government will collect $109 billion in premiums by 2019.

Supporters say the program will relieve pressure on Medicaid and should help keep us out of nursing homes by enabling Americans to save for something most will eventually need -- assistance in eating, bathing or dressing in their old age.

Opponents say the provision is little more than a short-term revenue fix that will eventually add to the federal deficit.

"This is a scary proposition where the government passed a huge new entitlement program with gimmicks and tricks and the American people don`t know they will be automatically enrolled in it by their employer if they don’t watch out," said Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA).

Nunes says Republicans were blindsided by the provision because they were unable to see the final bill until the very end. But Democratic supporters say the provision, which was championed by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, should not be controversial.

"It promotes independence and choice for people who need long-term care, and over time it will help millions stay where they want to, which is at home," says Jim Firman, director of the National Council on Aging.

Scheduled to go into effect in January, actual deductions could take place in 2012.

Here`s how the program will work: 

-- The federal government will approach employers next year about alerting workers to the proposed deduction. 

-- The deduction will work on a sliding scale based on age. Younger workers will be charged less, older workers more. The Congressional Budget Office pegged the average monthly deduction at $146. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services put it higher, at $240.

-- After a five-year vesting period, enrollees who need help bathing, eating or dressing will be eligible to take out benefits, estimated to be around $75 a day for in-home care.

"Seventy-five dollars a day in flex cash will be enough for most people who are at home to stay at home, which is where they want to be," Firman said. "We are convinced a cash benefit is the best way for consumer to get what they want."

While the plan`s opponents don`t question the need for long-term care, they say the federal government should not be managing it, and they believe the program will eventually add to the deficit.

"This creates a whole new bureaucracy that is going to break this country," Nunes said. "In the early years there will be money in it, but at the end of the day there won`t be enough money to cover the problems because there will be too many people in the program."

The statute says the program is designed to be self-sustaining, with an advisory board to assure the fund remains solvent. But opponents say the fine print already tells another story. Unless modifications are made, according to a CBO analysis of the bill, "the program will add to future federal budget deficits in a large and growing fashion."

Supporters and detractors admit much needs to be worked out, and eventually premiums will be based on how many Americans actually sign up for the insurance.

March 30, 2010
Brazilian Couple Receive Criminal Conviction for Homeschooling

(LifeSiteNews)  Despite the fact that his children passed difficult government imposed tests, and even qualified for law school at the ages of 13 and 14, homeschooler Cleber Nunes and his wife Bernadeth have been slapped with fines equivalent to a total of $3,200 for refusing to submit their children to the Brazilian school system.

However, Nunes told LifeSiteNews.com (LSN) that he has no intention to pay the fine, although he says that he might have to spend 15-30 days in jail if he does not.

Although homeschooling is common in many countries, including the United States, and is associated with higher levels of academic achievement, it is completely prohibited in Brazil, the government of which has become increasingly intrusive in recent decades following the establishment of a socialist regime in the 1990s.

Since Nunes began to homeschool his two oldest children four years ago, his family has been subject to repeated threats of fines, imprisonment, and loss of custody.  However, he has resisted steadfastly and his case has gained national attention.

The guilty verdict in the criminal case against Nunes, which follows two negative verdicts in a parallel civil case that ended over a year ago, was given despite the fact that David and Jonatas Nunes had passed a difficult set of tests imposed by the criminal court.

"They had asked the kids to do the tests to check their level of knowledge, and also psychological tests to check their mental health," Nunes told LifeSiteNews (LSN).  "It seems that the only valid result they expected was the failure of the kids."

The tests imposed by the court on Nunes` children were so difficult that one of the teachers who had designed it reportedly admitted that she herself could not pass it.  However, David and Jonatas Nunes both passed the exams by margins of five and eight percentage points.

Despite his sons` performance, however, the government has again ruled against Nunes, this time in criminal court, and ordered a fine.  The total amount in fines owed by Nunes as a result of the decisions against him has mounted to over $3,200 in US dollars.

"If they impose tests it means that two possibilities should be considered.  They could be suffering intellectual abandonment, or not," Nunes told LSN.  "In other words, they were trying to prove they were victims. But they passed and they kept saying we were criminal."

Nunes says that despite his success, the judge ruled against him because of his style of home schooling, in which the children direct their own learning, with Nunes overseeing the process.

"The judge said we left the children to learn by themselves," said Nunes.  "He recognized that they passed the university entrance examination and the tests, but said that it was by their own efforts," he added, calling that a "joke."

"They want to take control of them, of their minds"

Nunes says he has decided not to appeal the ruling, because Brazil`s Supreme Court has already refused to hear the appeal of his civil case.  Although he has paid his wife`s fine to spare her jail time, he says he will not pay his own fine.

"The natural thing to do is appeal, but I don`t trust the Brazilian judges," Nunes told LSN. "They already showed who they are and what they want. They are not interested in protecting our kids....They want to take control of them, of their minds, they want them out of their home."

Although he has refused to comply with the rulings against him, Nunes currently faces no more legal difficulties stemming from the homeschooling of David and Jonatas, because they are now beyond the age of mandatory schooling.

However, his daughter could soon be subject to compulsory schooling in Brazil.  She will soon turn four, the age at which compulsory schooling begins in Brazil.

March 26, 2010
The Patriot`s Guide: What You Can Do for Your Country

(Heritage Foundation)

Get Involved

  • Practice the Virtues of Self Governance: 1) Be a responsible citizen; 2) Care for your family; 3) Practice your faith and defend your religious liberty; 4) Join organizations and volunteer in your local community; 5) Start a business and invest in America.
  • Voice Your Opinion: 1) Vote; 2) Write letters and comment online; 3) Contact your elected officials; 4) Call radio shows; 5) Participate in local town-hall meetings, tea party activism and local assemblies.
  • Encourage Discussion: 1) Start a blog or Web site; 2) Challenge liberals with fact-based arguments; 3) Encourage the media to represent conservative principles; 4) Encourage candidates and elected representatives to learn more about conservative ideas; 5) Get conservative editorials and letters in your local newspaper; 6) Support teachers, educational programs, and schools that teach the truth about America and its principles.
  • Spread the Word: 1) Talk to your family and friends; 2) Join social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter; 3) Bring issues you care about to your civic, social, church, or business groups; 4) Celebrate America’s heritage and distribute pocket Constitutions.
  • Join the Conservative Movement: 1) Support think tanks and institutions fighting for conservative principles and polices; 2) If you are a student, apply for an internship, such as the year-round program at The Heritage Foundation. These programs are designed to foster young leaders and help them grow as part of the larger conservative movement.

Rediscover the Principles of Liberty

  • We Still Hold These Truths: The future of liberty depends on reclaiming America’s first principles. Read We Still Hold These Truths: Rediscovering Our Principles, Reclaiming Our Future, a powerful overview of those principles—how they developed, what they mean, and the debate over their status today. Get a copy of the study guide that accompanies the book, appropriate for self-study, as a teaching manual or as the basis for a discussion group.
  • The Heritage Guide to the Constitution: Free citizens must understand the extent of their rights and the constitutional limits on the powers of government. Get The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, an easy to understand line-by-line examination of the Framers’ Constitution and its contemporary meaning.
  • Reading the Right Books: Keep reading and learning! Reading the Right Books is an annotated bibliography of thoughtful books (on history, politics, literature, economics, statesmanship, religion, public policy, and modern conservative thought) recommended as a guide for intelligent, conservative-minded readers who want to prepare themselves for a public life of thought and action.

Follow the Important Issues of the Day

  • Stay Informed: 1) Go to Thomas.gov and review pending legislation; 2) Track local issues with organizations such as the American Legislative Exchange Council or the State Policy Network; 3) Follow several organizations on Facebook and Twitter so you can get all sides to every story.
  • Find the Organization That Is Right For You: There are many conservative organizations out there. Decide what issues matter most to you, and then support the appropriate institution. Check out www.policyexperts.org to help narrow your search.
  • Go to Heritage.org: 1) Sign up for the Morning Bell at Foundry.org; 2) The Foundry blog at Heritage promotes conservative policies and principles by marrying the best in public policy research with every day’s current events; 3) Read and share our Fact Sheets, which give overviews of the complex issues of our day; and 4) InsiderOnline.org maintains a searchable database of policy research, publications, and legal actions throughout the nation.
March 26, 2010
Initiative to legalize marijuana qualifies for November ballot

(L.A. Times)  State election officials announced Wednesday that an initiative to legalize marijuana will be on the November ballot, triggering what will likely be an expensive, divisive and much-watched campaign to decide whether California will again lead the nation in softening drug laws.

Los Angeles County election officials Wednesday turned in their official estimate of the number of valid signatures, putting the statewide figure above the 433,971 needed for the measure to make the ballot. The county, where one-fifth of the signatures were collected, was the last to report its count, filing just before 5 p.m.

Polls have indicated that a majority of voters in California want marijuana legalized, but the margin is not enough to ensure the initiative will win. Two years ago, opponents defeated an attempt to relax the state`s drug laws despite being outspent. "It`s always easier for people to say no than to say yes for an initiative," said Mark Baldassare, the pollster for the Public Policy Institute of California. "Generally, all it takes is for people to find one reason to say no."

The initiative would allow adults 21 or older to possess up to an ounce for personal use. Possession of an ounce or less has been a misdemeanor with a $100 fine since 1975, when Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown, who was then governor, signed a law that reduced tough marijuana penalties that had allowed judges to impose 10-year sentences. Legalization supporters note that misdemeanor arrests have risen dramatically in California in the last two decades. The initiative would also allow adults to grow up to 25 square feet of marijuana per residence or parcel.

But the measure, known as the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010, goes further, allowing cities and counties to adopt ordinances that would authorize the cultivation, transportation and sale of marijuana, which could be taxed to raise revenues. It`s this feature of the initiative that supporters hope will draw support from voters who are watching their local governments jettison employees and programs in the midst of a severe budget crisis.

The measure`s main proponent, Richard Lee, savored the chance to press his case that the nation`s decades-old ban on marijuana is a failed policy. "We`re one step close to ending cannabis prohibition and the unjust laws that lock people up for cannabis while alcohol is not only sold openly but advertised on television to kids every day," he said. He said the measure would allow police to focus on serious crime, undercut Mexican drug cartels and make it harder for teenagers to buy marijuana.

Lee, who owns several marijuana businesses in Oakland, has already spent at least $1.3 million on the campaign, primarily on a professional signature-gathering operation. He has also recruited a team of accomplished political advisors, including Chris Lehane, a veteran operative who has worked in the White House and on presidential campaigns.

"There`s all kind of big professional politicos who are coming on board now to take it to the next level," he said.

Lee has said that he hopes to raise as much as $20 million for the campaign, 10 times the amount that proponents spent in 1996 to pass Proposition 215, the state`s medical marijuana initiative.

Opponents have also begun organizing. "There`s going to be a very broad coalition opposing this that will include law enforcement," promised John Lovell, a Sacramento lobbyist who represents several law enforcement organizations. "We`ll educate people as to what this measure really entails." Lovell said legalizing marijuana would lead to increased use, cause the same kind of social ills as alcohol and tobacco, and put more demands on law enforcement.

March 26, 2010
Sec. Napolitano says airport full-body scanners `do not see everything`

(The Hill)  Privacy concerns shouldn’t hinder the rapid deployment of controversial full-body scanners at American airports, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Thursday.

“Some have expressed concerns about these [advanced imaging technology] machines — that they infringe upon privacy,” Napolitano told students and faculty at Arizona State University. “But suffice it to say, many of those worries have been spurred by the continued publication of photos that were taken using older versions of the technology, not the technology that’s actually being deployed today.”

Critics of the machines have said they amount to a technological strip-search.  
 
Napolitano insisted that her department does take privacy concerns “into account.” The Transportation Security Administration officer reading the image is now separated from the person being scanned, Napolitano said. “And I can confirm, no, the [scanning] machines do not see everything.”
 
She said the machines would be able to prevent the kind of attack organized on Christmas Day last year, when a Nigerian man wearing explosives in his underwear was able to board a Detroit-bound flight in Amsterdam.
 
The scanning machines "are an objective improvement in our ability to detect the kind of explosive used in the Christmas Day attack as well as other dangerous powders, liquids and gels that would not set off a metal detector,” she said. “And that is why we are accelerating their deployment to our domestic airports.”
 
Napolitano acknowledged that intruding on air travelers’ privacy could be interpreted as a propaganda victory for terrorists. Still, she said, preventing another attack was the highest priority.
 
“We know that in times of war it’s been commonplace for the rights of Americans to be limited,” she said, noting history has harshly judged such measures. “But in a time of new and changing threats, we have to revise our traditional paradigms of how we think about rights and security.”
 
Liberty and security are not “opposing values,” she said. “You can not live freely if you live in fear."
 
ASU President Michael Crow introduced Napolitano, who was speaking as part of an annual lecture series, as an “architect of social change.”
 
A small group protested outside the theater where Napolitano gave her address. They were speaking out against workplace raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an agency within the Department of Homeland Security.

March 26, 2010
Ten Year-Old Boy Receives New Trachea from his Own Stem Cell

(LifeSiteNews)  A ten-year-old British boy has become the first child to be given a new windpipe, which will grow inside his body, created from his own stem cells. The breakthrough surgery was conducted at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London on Monday, and doctors hope that it represents the next step forward in transplantation technology.

Stem cells taken from the boy’s bone marrow were injected into a fibrous collagen “scaffold” created from a donor trachea. Only hours after the boy’s cells were mixed with a growth medium and applied to the scaffold, the trachea was stripped of the donor cells and implanted surgically into the boy.

Doctors are optimistic that the new implant will begin naturally to grow new internal and external tracheal cells inside the boy’s body. Previously, organs created from stem cells had all been grown outside the body in the lab, a process that can take months. Dr. Mark Lowdell from the Royal Free Hospital called the procedure “embarrassingly simple.”

The boy, whose identity is being kept secret, is reported to be doing well and is breathing normally. A genetic defect left the boy with a windpipe only one millimeter across. A metal implant that had assisted his breathing was pressing into his blood vessels, leaving him open to potentially life-threatening accidental bleeding.

One of the major drawbacks to traditional donor transplant organs, apart from the ethical implications, is the problem of immune system tissue rejection. Recipients of donated organs must remain on drugs that suppress the immune system response and that can shorten life expectancy. The new trachea, created from the boy’s own cells, completely circumvents this problem, the physicians said.

The work in England builds on the successful transplant of a partial trachea in Spain on a woman in 2008. Claudia Castillo received a section of a new tracheal airway rebuilt from stem cells, but using a much more complex and costly process.

Surgeons called the procedure a “milestone moment” in the development of transplant medicine, noting that because the whole procedure had taken only hours to complete, it cost only tens of thousands, not hundreds of thousands of pounds, bringing it inside the practical realm for patients.

Professor Martin Birchall, the head of translational regenerative medicine at University College London and part of the boy’s transplant team, told media, “It is the first time a child has received stem cell organ treatment, and it`s the longest airway that has ever been replaced.”

Dr. Birchall said there needs to be more research to demonstrate the process can work again, but added, “We`d like to move to other organs as well, particularly the larynx and esophagus.”

Professor Paolo Macchiarini of Careggi University hospital in Florence, who was also involved, said, “The question is do we really need to transplant the entire organ and put the patient on immunosuppression or can we stimulate stem cells to make it function again?”

March 25, 2010
Web-based Christian academy brings `brick and mortar` to home or church

(WorldNetDaily)  A unique Christian school launching this fall offers an alternative for parents who want to pull their children out of public school but don`t have local access to private education or the capacity to homeschool.

WND reported last summer Liberty Christian School Online`s plan for a full-time accredited program that enables students to interact with their teachers and classmates through the Web.

The program is a partnership of the acclaimed college-prep program at Liberty Christian School in Argyle, Texas, and Point of View Ministries, creator of the popular Christian radio talk show.

The 6th-12th grade school had planned to open for the 2009-2010 academic year but did not recruit enough students. Instead, Liberty offered individual online seminars to homeschooling families who wanted to supplement their education.

Now, with some 400 students signed up so far, the program is preparing to launch.

Point of View President Warren Kelly told WND "the goal is to take the physical campus atmosphere that has been just so tremendously supportive to kids – the brick-and-mortar campus – and translate that into an online environment."

Liberty`s 28-year-old school has been ranked as the state`s No. 1 private school five of the last six years by the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools.

While tuition for quality private schools typically can run from $12,000 to $20,000, Liberty online is just $4,000 annually, which covers tuition, books and software. Financial aid also is available.

Noting that many parents who work can`t supervise their children during the day, Kelly pointed out Liberty has teamed with churches nationwide to establish satellite campuses.

The churches only need to provide a room and an adult to supervise the students, he said.

"The parents can drop off their kids at the church just like they are going to school, and there are full-fledged classes there," Kelly said. "And that gives them some interaction with other students and supervision even if mom and dad aren`t home."

Kelly said Liberty received a telephone message from a mother in Minnesota who said the program appeared to be exactly what her family had been praying for but sounded too good to be true.

"They live in a small community where there are no private Christian schools; the school district there is just awful," he said.

Liberty`s headmaster called her back and answered her questions.

"By the end of it, she was literally in tears, so thankful for this being an answer to her prayers for her kids," Kelly said.

Teachers for the first year or two will operate from the school`s Texas campus "to be sure we`re creating the same heart that Liberty`s physical campus has," he said.

Later, Kelly explained, he expects teachers will be able to work from any location they choose.

Kelly said Liberty Christian Online is the only school he is aware of that offers classes "fully interactive full-time." A couple of other educational programs are using the same software – Elluminate Live! – but only one day a week.

The online students at Liberty will have a teacher for each subject who will preside over a class of about 20-25 students.

The school even offers lab classes over the Internet.

"They ship the student a frog, and the teacher walks them through the dissection online, and they go through the whole process," Kelly said.

"So it`s literally anything and everything you can do in a physical classroom can be done through the online classroom."

Kelly said an online student will be able to ask questions, raise his hand when he doesn`t understand something and come in after-hours for tutoring.

"The teacher can pass out papers, take up papers, write problems on the board in the front of the class and ask a particular student to finish the problem," he explained.

The software, he said, provides a section on the screen that can be used as a virtual whiteboard or to run Power Point and video presentations.

Graduates of Liberty Christian School Online, Kelly said, "will have the same high-quality of academics" as students at the physical campus "and they will have a fully accredited diploma when they graduate."

Virtually every child who has graduated from the brick-and-mortar campus goes on to college, Kelly noted, and 85 percent go to the college of their first choice.

The school is not connected to any church denomination, Kelly said, but "holds to the basic core values of a conservative evangelical body."

Kelly said students who have participated in the individual classes offered this school year have developed relationships with each other through the social networking site Facebook.

"A lot of parents worry about kids being socialized properly. But the bottom line is kids socialize through the computer now anyway," he said. `So this kind of enhances that."

The Bible class in particular, he said, "is an interactive environment that pushes the kids not just to interact with each other on a personal basis and make friends but also to begin to support each other spiritually."

Kelly said Liberty aims not only to offer students a high-quality education but to "ground them in the spiritual truths" to prepare them to defend their faith in secular colleges.

Seniors take an apologetics class that covers various philosophies and views they can expect to encounter.

"It`s just amazingly effective," Kelly said. "I`ve seen it even in my own kids that have graduated and have gone on to universities. They had their faith challenged, but they were really able to make a stand for what they believe."

"Point of View" is a two-hour, issues-oriented live talk radio program hosted by Kerby Anderson. WorldNetDaily founder and CEO Joseph Farah has served as a guest host. The show was founded by the late Marlin Maddoux, regarded as a pioneer in the talk radio industry. Maddoux also launched the USA Radio Network, which now is carried by more than 1,300 stations nationwide.

March 25, 2010
Obamacare prescription: `Emergency health army`

Force subject to `involuntary calls to active duty` during `public crises`

(WorldNetDaily)  President Obama`s recently passed health-care reform legislation includes a surprise for many Americans – a beefing up of a U.S. Public Health Service reserve force and expectations that it respond on short notice to "routine public health and emergency response missions," even involuntarily.

According to Section 5210 of HR 3590, titled "Establishing a Ready Reserve Corps," the force must be ready for "involuntary calls to active duty during national emergencies and public health crises."

The health-care legislation adds millions of dollars for recruitment and amends Section 203 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 204), passed July 1, 1944, during Franklin D. Roosevelt`s presidency. The U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps is one of the seven uniformed services in the U.S. However, Obama`s changes more than double the wording of the Section 203 and dub individuals who are currently classified as officers in the Reserve Corps commissioned officers of the Regular Corps.

The U.S. Public Health Service website describes its commissioned corps as "an elite team of more than 6,000 full-time, well-trained, highly qualified public health professionals dedicated to delivering the nation`s public health promotion and disease prevention programs and advancing public health science."

According to its mission page, officers of the commissioned corps may:

  • Provide essential public health and health care services to underserved and disadvantaged populations
  • Prevent and control injury and the spread of disease
  • Ensure that the nation`s food supply, drinking water, drugs, medical devices and environment are safe
  • Conduct and support cutting-edge research for the prevention, treatment and elimination of disease, health disparities and injury
  • Work with other nations and international agencies to address global health challenges
  • Provide urgently needed public health and clinical expertise in response to large-scale local, regional and national public health emergencies and disasters

Members are trained to respond to public health situations and national emergency events, such as natural disasters, disease outbreaks and terrorist attacks.

As stated in the health-care legislation, "The purpose of the Ready Reserve Corps is to fulfill the need to have additional Commissioned Corps personnel available on short notice (similar to the uniformed service`s reserve program) to assist regular Commissioned Corps personnel to meet both routine public health and emergency response missions."

The Democrats` legislation recently added the following text to Section 203 of the Public Health Service Act:

`(b) Assimilating Reserve Corp Officers Into the Regular Corps- Effective on the date of enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, all individuals classified as officers in the Reserve Corps under this section (as such section existed on the day before the date of enactment of such Act) and serving on active duty shall be deemed to be commissioned officers of the Regular Corps.

`(c) Purpose and Use of Ready Research-

`(2) USES- The Ready Reserve Corps shall--

`(A) participate in routine training to meet the general and specific needs of the Commissioned Corps;

`(B) be available and ready for involuntary calls to active duty during national emergencies and public health crises, similar to the uniformed service reserve personnel;

`(C) be available for backfilling critical positions left vacant during deployment of active duty Commissioned Corps members, as well as for deployment to respond to public health emergencies, both foreign and domestic; and

`(D) be available for service assignment in isolated, hardship, and medically underserved communities (as defined in section 799B) to improve access to health services.

`(d) Funding- For the purpose of carrying out the duties and responsibilities of the Commissioned Corps under this section, there are authorized to be appropriated $5,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2010 through 2014 for recruitment and training and $12,500,000 for each of fiscal years 2010 through 2014 for the Ready Reserve Corps.`

Commissioned officers of the ready reserve corps are appointed by the president, and commissioned officers of the regular corps are appointed by the president with the advice and consent of the Senate.

Robert Book, a senior research fellow in health economics at the Heritage Foundation, said the service has been around some time but is not well known.

In the past, its responsibilities have included work related to the National Institutes of Health, the Indian health service and providing physicians for Coast Guard operations, he said.

As first reported by WND during his campaign, Obama called for a "civilian national security force" July 2, 2008, in Colorado Springs, Colo.

"We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we`ve set," he said. "We`ve got to have a civilian national security force that`s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded."

WND also reported in January when a Rand Corporation report proposed the federal government create a rapid deployment "Stabilization Police Force" that would be tasked with "shaping an environment before a conflict" and restoring order in times of war, natural disaster or national emergency.

The blogosphere is buzzing with speculation about the amendment. Some comments include:

  • This cannot be publicized enough!
  • Remember before the election when Obama said we need to have a civil defense corps as well funded and as well armed as the armed services?
  • Is it Hitler and the Brown Shirts all over again? It is time for all who love our freedom to stand up and be counted.
  • Perhaps ACORN with a different name?
  • What about FEMA. Does this mean FEMA is to be disbanded?
  • Healthstapo!
  • I guess this is how they`ll keep all the doctors from quitting the profession and becoming window washers.
  • Amazing isn`t it, they can`t afford to secure our borders, but we can afford this nonsense – dangerous nonsense.
  • Let`s all sign up. It will be much easier to take the country back if we do it from within.
March 25, 2010
R.I. Assembly leaders consider sales taxes for nonprofits

 

(Rhode Island News)  Rhode Island General Assembly leaders are considering a plan to strip tax-exempt status from approximately 6,600 nonprofit organizations –– churches, hospitals, private universities, YMCAs and even parent-teacher associations –– to help fix Rhode Island government’s ballooning budget problems.

As is the case in states across the country, Ocean State law allows most nonprofits to avoid paying the state’s 7-percent sales tax. That saves tens of millions of dollars each year on purchases of office supplies, computer equipment and construction materials for organizations legally prohibited from turning a profit.

Lawmakers would rather not eliminate the sales-tax exemption, according to House Finance Committee Chairman Steven M. Costantino, but the condition of the state’s finances is forcing them to contemplate a host of unpopular tax changes.

“We have looked at –– the Senate and the House have looked at the sales tax issue. And the nonprofit piece of it has been looked at,” Costantino said Wednesday afternoon. “At the end of the day, I have to see how much revenue I have. I have to worry about May.”

Indeed, state budget officials in May will determine whether budget deficits –– set at $220 million for the current-year and $427-million for the budget year that begins July 1 –– might actually worsen because of the state’s anemic economy.

“Given the circumstances, everything’s on the table,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Daniel DaPonte said when asked about the nonprofit tax, noting that it’s difficult to document the financial impact of such a move. “We’ve asked our staff to look at it.”

Members of the nonprofit community reacted with a combination of shock and disbelief when notified Wednesday of the possibility.

“My experience is that you have open and thoughtful discussion with the Assembly leaders on a year-round basis, given the size and importance of the hospital industry to the state. We have not had any discussion about this, direct or indirect,” said Edward J. Quinlan, president of the Hospital Association of Rhode Island. “I’m not aware of any state in the country that has such a tax.”

Under current law, hospitals don’t pay property taxes; and as 501c3 charitable organizations, they may accept tax-deductible donations. Those benefits would not be touched under the Assembly’s plan.

But it could force nonprofits, defined in state law as charitable, educational and religious organizations, to begin paying state sales taxes on purchases for the first time. In 2008, the state Division of Taxation reported having distributed sales-tax exempt numbers to 6,600 such nonprofits.

Quinlan estimated that hospitals spend between 10 and 12 percent of their $3-billion combined budgets on purchases that could be taxed should the Assembly change their status. Using rough projections, that could produce at least $21 million in new state revenue –– and new hospital expenses –– from Rhode Island’s hospital industry alone.

The change could affect the network of smaller mental health and addiction centers across the state represented by Elizabeth V. Earls, president of the Rhode Island Community Mental Health Organizations.

“How many ways can they hit you while you’re down?” she said. “It’s huge for our members. They’re already anticipating deficits.”

Aside from health facilities, Rhode Island law also grants tax-exempt status to churches, Little Leagues, public and private schools (Costantino noted that public schools and universities probably wouldn’t be affected by any proposal), and afterschool programs such as the YMCA.

“By nature, nonprofit organizations are break-even entities. If this proposal were to move forward, it would force YMCAs across the state to take a very hard look at expenditures and to tighten budgets that are already under extreme pressure,” said Arianne Lynch, spokeswoman for the State Alliance of YMCAs. “The ripple effect of levying this kind of tax, or any tax, on service agencies will undoubtedly be profound.”

The fate of the proposed tax change could be known as soon as next week.

The legislature is expected to announce a budget-balancing plan in the coming days, although a snag in negotiations over cuts to local communities has slowed the process considerably. Neither Costantino nor DaPonte would rule out the inclusion of the nonprofit provision in the bill, known as a “supplemental budget,” or in a separate budget plan for the coming year, to be finalized before July.

“I’m in negotiations. Part of the problem, if you’re short, you need to look at something else,” Costantino said. “All of this stuff is very fluid.”

March 25, 2010
Experts: One-Third of Breast Cancer Is Avoidable

(AP)  Up to a third of breast cancer cases in Western countries could be avoided if women ate less and exercised more, researchers at a conference on breast cancer said Thursday.
 
While better treatments, early diagnosis and mammogram screenings have dramatically slowed the disease, experts said the focus should now shift to changing behaviors like diet and physical activity.
 
"What can be achieved with screening has been achieved. We can`t do much more," Carlo La Vecchia, head of epidemiology at the University of Milan, told The Associated Press. "It`s time to move onto other things."
 
La Vecchia spoke Thursday on the influence of lifestyle factors at a European breast cancer conference in Barcelona.
 
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. In Europe, there were about 421,000 new cases and nearly 90,000 deaths in 2008, the latest available figures. The United States last year saw more than 190,000 new cases and 40,000 deaths. A woman`s lifetime chance of getting breast cancer is about one in eight.
 
Many breast cancers are fueled by estrogen, a hormone produced in fat tissue. So experts suspect that the fatter a woman is, the more estrogen she`s likely to produce, which could in turn spark breast cancer. Even in slim women, exercise can help reduce the cancer risk by converting more of the body`s fat into muscle.
 
La Vecchia cited figures from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which estimated that 25 to 30 percent of breast cancer cases could be avoided if women were thinner and exercised more.
 
That means staying slim and never becoming overweight in the first place. Robert Baan, an IARC cancer expert, said it wasn`t clear if women who lose weight have a lower cancer risk or if the damage was already done from when they were heavy.
 
Drinking less alcohol could also help. Experts estimate that having more than a couple of drinks a day can boost a woman`s risk of getting breast cancer by four to 10 percent.
 
After studies several years ago linked hormone replacement therapy to cancer, millions of women abandoned the treatment, leading to a sharp drop in breast cancer rates. Experts said a similar reduction might be seen if women ate better -- consuming less fat and more vegetables -- and exercised more.
 
Michelle Holmes, a cancer expert at Harvard University, said changing things like diet and nutrition is arguably easier than tackling other breast cancer risk factors.
 
"Women who have early pregnancies are protected against breast cancer, but teenage pregnancy is a social disaster so it`s not something we want to encourage," she said in a phone interview. "But there`s no downside to reducing obesity and increasing physical activity."
 
She also said people may mistakenly think their chances of getting cancer are more dependent on their genes than their lifestyle.
 
"The genes have been there for thousands of years, but if cancer rates are changing in a lifetime, that doesn`t have much to do with genes," she said.
 
In the 1980s and 1990s, breast cancer rates steadily increased, in parallel with the rise in obesity and the use of hormone replacement therapy, which involves estrogen.
 
La Vecchia said countries like Italy and France -- where obesity rates have been stable for the past two decades -- show that weight can be controlled at a population level.
 
"It`s hard to lose weight, but it`s not impossible," he said. "The potential benefit of preventing cancer is worth it."

March 25, 2010
12 Taxes in Health Care Law Violate Obama’s Pledge Not to Increase Taxes on Households Earning Less than $250,000

 

(CNSNews.com)  As many as a dozen taxes in the new health care law violate President Barack Obama’s campaign pledge not to raise taxes on families earning less than $250,000 and on individuals earning less than $200,000. 
 
At least seven of these taxes directly affect health consumers regardless of income, such as the individual mandate to buy insurance, the employer mandate, the tanning tax, and limits and penalties on health savings accounts. In addition, Republicans argue that the tax impact of the law should include indirect taxes, such as the annual taxes on the health care sector that will be passed on to consumers. 
 
On many occasions during the 2008 presidential campaign, candidate Barack Obama pledged that, if elected, he would ensure that Americans earning less than $250,000 a year would not see a federal tax increase of any kind.
 
“I can make a firm pledge. Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increases,” the Illinois senator told a crowd in Dover, N.H. on Sept. 12, 2008. “Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.”

 As president, Obama repeated the pledge during his Feb. 24, 2009 address to a joint session of Congress. 
 
“If your family earns less than $250,000 a year, you will not see your taxes increased a single dime. I repeat: not a single dime,” the president said.
 
The bulk of the $500 billion in tax increases in the new health care law targets households earning $250,000 and individuals earning $200,000 -- for example, the increase in the Medicare payroll tax. But many of the taxes hit the general public at large.
 
The individual mandate, for example,  will require all legal U.S. residents to purchase a government-approved health insurance plan beginning in 2014. Once the reconciliation bill is voted on in the Senate to amend the law signed by Obama this week, the individual mandate will require a single person to pay 2.5 percent of their income or $695 if they do not purchase health insurance. 
 
Generally, a single person making $30,000 or more will have to pay a 2.5 percent penalty if they do not carry health insurance. A person making less than $30,000 will have to pay $695. This penalty/tax is found in Section 1501 of the bill for “requirement to maintain minimum essential coverage.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

March 25, 2010
Google `damages` military security

 

`Images are now inthe hands of suspect terrorists`

(WorldNetDaily)  Britain`s security chief Jonathan Evans, head of MI5, has warned his government that the country`s most sensitive military and security bases have been "seriously damaged by Google`s Street View," according to a report from Joseph Farah`s G2 Bulletin.

MI5 agents says thousands of images have been downloaded by U.K.-based Muslims, suspected associates of al-Qaida. The images show close-ups of Britain`s atomic weapons research center and the nation`s doughnut-shaped eavesdropping center at Cheltenham.

MI5 has found its buildings across Britain have been included in the "Street View" service.

Google has been warned that placing any of the images on its websites contravenes the Official Secrets Act. The penalty of any breach can carry lengthy prison sentences under British law.

"This week Google has removed most of the images. But the damage has been done. The images are now in the hands of suspect terrorists," Evans told the government.

March 24, 2010
Gates to Make Military Discharge for Being Gay More Difficult

(FOXNews)  Defense Secretary Robert Gates is going to make it tougher for U.S. military personnel to get kicked out of the military for being gay by having each case reviewed by more senior-ranking officers, a senior defense official tells Fox News.

The official says the new guidelines will say firing enlisted service members must be approved by an officer at the level of a one-star general or higher. Third party "outing" testimony should be given under oath as well.

Gates had asked Pentagon lawyers to look into a way of more humanely enforcing the "Don`t Ask, Don`t Tell" policy, while the Department of Defense conducts a comprehensive review of what the potential impact of a change in policy would be on a force fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The more detailed review is due by Dec. 1.

Officials say the hope is fairly and consistently enforcing the existing law across military branches, and eliminating weak testimony given by third parties.

Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen are expected to talk about these changes with Pentagon reporters on Thursday morning.

March 24, 2010
Greek Churches to be Taxed in Govt’s Response to Economic Crisis

(LifeSiteNews.com)  The Greek government has announced it will start taxing churches as part of its efforts to get out of its financial crisis. A new draft bill to be tabled in parliament next week imposes a 20 per cent tax on the Orthodox church`s real estate income, reportedly worth over 10 million Euros (US $14.8 million) a year, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The Orthodox Archbishop of Athens Ieronymos said on Sunday that taxing the churches is unconstitutional and “unprincipled.” He told the Athens weekly, Real News, that the Church of Greece would challenge the tax in the Greek and European courts.    

He proposed instead a calculation based on revenues and expenditures, rather than real estate income, with the Church paying 20 per cent tax on the remainder of their net income.

“The state is telling us that `we don`t know what your (Church) revenues are; yet, I want 20 percent of what you receive`. This is unconstitutional,” he said. The archbishop dismissed media accounts of the Church’s wealth. “Come and show us where this money is,” Ieronymos said.

Greece is in the midst of a massive economic crisis that analysts have warned could have far-reaching effects throughout the Eurozone. EU leaders have accused the country of encouraging a financial culture characterized by insoluble public and private debt, tax-avoidance and systemic corruption. Greek government debt was estimated at €216 billion in January.

The European Union has imposed a set of criteria that must be met by the government, and on March 5 parliament passed the Economy Protection Bill, that imposed strict austerity measures, which is expected to save €4.8 billion.

The German government is under heavy pressure from the EU to open its purse and produce a bail-out for Greece to save the Euro from collapse. Leaders hope that the German government will cave at the EU summit later this week. Germany, which can borrow at the lowest interest rates in the E.U. and has the Union`s largest economy, has resisted the pressure, but Chancellor Angela Merkel said on March 5th that Germany would “stand by Greece.” The argument has threatened to weaken the EU’s financial hegemony.

The Greek financial crisis is part of a larger economic melt-down that is being called the European Sovereign Debt Crisis. Other countries caught in the crisis are Spain, Ireland, and Portugal. Fears over the crisis have led to a weakening of the Euro and a widespread global stock selloff in February.

Economists are arguing over whether the Euro can survive the crisis. Desmond Lachman, a senior fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, said at a conference hosted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington that the Greek government should revert to the Drachma. The Euro, he said, is a “disastrous experiment” born of political ideology rather than sound economic theory. Continued membership in the Euro, he said, would result in the Greek government having recourse only to tax increases and cuts to public spending to overcome its massive debt problem.

Meanwhile, unemployment has risen sharply in Greece during the crisis, and nationwide strikes have been launched in opposition to the austerity measures. Prime Minister George Papandreou told a European Parliament Committee earlier this month that the EU’s refusal to provide a cash bailout will force the country into the arms of the International Monetary Fund for a financial rescue.

After a meeting in Brussels last week, Papandreou said, “What Greece is asking for is to be able to borrow on the same conditions as other countries, so that Greek peoples` sacrifices will not be wasted due to high interest rates.”

March 24, 2010
Seattle Mom: School Sent My Daughter for Secret Abortion without Telling Me

(LifeSiteNews)  A Seattle mother is furious after learning that her 15-year-old daughter was sent by her school`s health center for a secret abortion, reports ABC-affiliate KOMO.

The mother, identified only as “Jill,” says her daughter was given a pregnancy test at Ballard High School`s Teen Health Center, which came back positive.  Rather than informing the parents, she said, the center gave the girl a pass and put her in a taxi for the abortuary, all during school hours.

"They just told her that if she concealed it from her family, that it would be free of charge and no financial responsibility," Jill said.

She added that she had signed a consent form allowing her daughter to be treated at the health center, thinking it covered issues like earaches, sports physicals, or even contraception, but wasn`t aware they would be arranging abortions.

"Nowhere in this paperwork does it mention abortion or facilitating abortion." she said. "Signing this paper makes me feel like my rights were completely stripped away."

T.J. Cosgrove of the King County Health Department, which oversees the center, explained that Washington state does not recognize parents` opinions on such issues.  "At any age in the state of Washington, an individual can consent to a termination of pregnancy," he said.

March 24, 2010
How liberal is the President`s latest nominee for the Ninth Circuit Court?

(Family Research Council)  According to Ed Whalen, even White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel tried to shoot down his candidacy. The President, who`s never met a judicial activist he didn`t like, plowed ahead anyway. Today, Goodwin Liu was scheduled to appear for his first hearing in the Senate Judiciary committee, but the discussion was delayed over objections from committee members and will be rescheduled. A rabid anti-family law professor, Liu is just 39-years-old but holds positions so extreme they would make traditional liberals blush.

He claims the U.S. Constitution compels states to recognize same-sex "marriage," believes in racial quotas and welfare "rights," and even testified against John Roberts` nomination to the Supreme Court because the Chief Justice supports "free enterprise" and "private property." Like so many of the President`s nominees, Liu has no business serving on any court--let alone the Ninth Circuit. This is a man whose entire legal experience can be summed up by a brief stint (less than two years!) as a junior associate at O`Melveny & Myers. Contact your senators today and urge them to oppose this nomination! For more information on Liu (if you can stomach it), visit Whalen`s post by clicking here.

March 23, 2010
Citizens sue feds to block Obamacare

 Contend they can`t be forced to buy insurance, pay for abortions

(WorldNetDaily) Four Michigan residents who object to the government forcing them to purchase health-care insurance and pay for abortions have joined in a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the health-care reform bill President Obama signed into law yesterday.

The Michigan-based non-profit Thomas More Law Center and attorney David Yerushalmi filed the suit in the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, seeking to permanently stop enforcement of the new legislation.

"This act is a product of political corruption and the exercise of unconstitutional power. Our Founding Fathers envisioned a limited form of government," said Richard Thompson, Thomas More`s president and chief counsel. "The purpose of our Constitution and this lawsuit is to insure it stays that way."

None of the four Michigan plaintiffs have private health care insurance, and they assert supporting abortion is contrary to their religious beliefs.

Named as defendants in the lawsuit are President Obama, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

Thompson argued that if Congress has the power to "force individuals to purchase health insurance coverage or pay a federal penalty merely because they live in America, then it has the unconstrained power to mandate that every American family buy a General Motors vehicle to help the economy or pay a federal penalty."

Robert Muise, Thomas More`s senior trial counsel, and Yerushalmi prepared the lawsuit.

The complaint asserts the health-care reform law imposes unprecedented governmental mandates that trample on the personal and economic freedoms of Americans in violation of their constitutional rights.

It also alleges Congress had no authority under the Commerce Clause to pass the law and that by usurping the power reserved for the states and the people, Congress violated the Tenth Amendment.

The lawsuit also contends that by forcing private citizens to fund abortion, contrary to their rights of conscience and the free exercise of religion, Congress violated the First Amendment.

Thompson acknowledged Americans agree the health care system needs reform, but "they don`t want a federal takeover of the system in the process. And they don`t want reform by trampling on our Constitution."

 

March 23, 2010
IRS to Serve as Health Reform Enforcer, but Lacks Authority to Enforce

(FOXNews.com)  The Senate bill doesn’t provide any funding for the expansion of the IRS, and it virtually ties the hands of the IRS to collect fees on individuals and businesses who don’t buy health insurance.

The health care reform bill to be signed Tuesday by President Obama would give the IRS a new mandate to enforce some of the initiative`s key provisions -- but apparently not the means to do so.

Under the Senate bill approved Sunday by the House, the Internal Revenue Service would be called on to ensure Americans are obtaining health care insurance and businesses are offering it, or else they could face fines. Many would receive subsidies to help pay for insurance.

The emphasis is on incentives for healthy people to buy insurance, thereby spreading the risk of older, less healthy people over a broader pool of customers. For those earning between $22,050 and $88,200, there are tax credits for health insurance premiums. In addition, individuals initially face fines of up to $750 for not buying in; businesses would face fines of up to $3,000.

It will cost the IRS $5 billion to $10 billion over 10 years to handle the new workload, according to a March 11 estimate by the Congressional Budget Office. But the Senate bill doesn’t provide any funding for the expansion of the IRS, and it virtually ties the hands of the IRS to collect fees on individuals and businesses who don’t buy health insurance.

“The use of liens and seizures otherwise authorized for collection of taxes does not apply to the collection of this penalty," according to the non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation. "Non-compliance with the personal responsibility requirement to have health coverage is not subject to criminal or civil penalties under the code and interest does not accrue for failure to pay such assessments in a timely manner."

That means there’s virtually nothing the IRS can do to enforce the fines in the legislation, forcing the tax man to rely on the consciences of taxpayers or to skim off any federal benefits, tax credits or refunds they have coming to them.

"In other words, if you`re due a refund or some other federal benefit, and you didn`t obtain qualified insurance, your refund or benefit will be tapped for your fee,” said Bill Ahearn, director of policy and communications for the Tax Foundation.

“People who aren`t due any refunds or federal benefits will apparently face no collection action, as the IRS`s hands will be effectively tied and it will be a truly voluntary tax."

Supporters of the bill, however, believe that while the IRS needs to be able to enforce the fines, it’s unlikely that the agency`s inability to do so will give people a reason not to buy into health care.

“Surveys routinely show that people don`t pay for health care because they can`t afford it,” said Timothy Jost, a professor at Washington & Lee University Law School. “This bill gives them a way they can afford it.”

March 23, 2010
College Students Lead Hundreds of Spring Breakers to Christ

(Christian Post)  College students spending their weeklong Spring break sharing Christ have helped more than 1,500 people put their trust in Jesus.

Just three weeks into Campus Crusade for Christ`s annual Big Break project, students have witnessed to thousands at Panama City Beach, Fla.

"Yeah!...the LORD truly is awesome!! 610 new bros and sis in Christ this week!!!" Jason Pan wrote Sunday on Big Break`s Facebook page.

Big Break is a one-week mission experience that gathers students from colleges and universities from all over the country in Panama City Beach. Every year, students explore biblical truths and learn to share their faith with friends and the public.

This year, along with witnessing, students have been preparing and packing meals for victims of the massive earthquake that struck Haiti in January. They`ve also invited unaffiliated students on the beach to join them in their endeavor. Since the launch of the project early this month, students have packed more than 780,000 meals and are aiming toward one million.

"Creating these meals created a double opportunity for the Gospel – the first with college students on the beach getting a chance to do good and hear the Gospel after helping out, the second with Haitians receiving the much needed food to help with their physical needs, and hearing the gospel to help with their spiritual needs," said John and Kristin Madeja, missionaries with Campus Crusade for Christ, in a blog post Saturday.

The campus ministry, one of the largest in the world, has partnered with Kids Against Hunger and the Global Aid Network to pack and ship the million meals to the Caribbean nation.

CCC notes that today`s college students want to make a difference in the world. Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, one of the deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States, 17,000 students traveled to Mississippi and Louisiana to join Campus Crusade relief projects.

Traveling to Haiti, however, has been discouraged by experts who say inexperienced volunteers should wait a few more months before aiding in rebuilding efforts.

"I don`t think it`s impossible that a year from now for spring break there may be some programs up and running, but I really don`t think it makes sense for this year," Suzanne Brooks, director of Center for International Disaster Information told Inside Higher Ed.

Big Break kicked off on Feb. 27 and continues through April 3.

March 23, 2010
Understanding the EMP Threat Could Save Your Life

(Family Security Matters)  Americans know to dial 911 and wait for first responders when a medical emergency occurs. We go about our daily lives confident that, if needed, an ambulance will arrive quickly and whisk us to an emergency room for medical attention.

But another threat to the health of all Americans remains largely ignored. It’s one that could bring down the entire health care system in just a matter of minutes.

EMP – electromagnetic pulse – is a phenomenon first discovered by scientists doing nuclear testing in the 1940s. They observed that this high frequency pulse, produced by the explosion of a nuclear weapon in the earth’s atmosphere, could create a pulse that destroys electronics and electrical systems. Under certain conditions, an EMP could bring down America’s digital infrastructure.

This pulse could halt water supplies and shut down hospitals, as well as the entire power grid, the source of electricity for almost everything that makes society run.

Everything in America is electronic. Just ask any parent who has had to buy 40 packs of batteries on Christmas Eve. Or folks with robo-vacuums or programmable thermostats.

But this isn’t just about modern conveniences. It’s about medical devices, emergency response equipment and a health care system that relies on a functioning power grid. President Barack Obama has emphasized his push towards electronic medical records for all Americans, but an EMP would make it next to impossible to access those records. That could have major consequences in terms of drug interactions and prognoses.

The interconnected nature of American infrastructure makes matters worse. Take the 2003 Northeast blackout. It caused a temporary power shortage across much of the Eastern seaboard, leaving some 55 million people in the United States and Canada in the dark. The effects were widespread: emergency lines were shut down for some time in New York City, cell phone lines were jammed, and some folks literally slept on the streets when they couldn’t get a train home.

An EMP, however, would be much worse. Generators – which, during the 2003 blackout kept New York and other places somewhat functional – would likely be useless under an EMP scenario. An EMP would also have a cascading effect that could reach Americans from Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles.

This may sound like a Hollywood thriller. It’s difficult to imagine that a single pulse could be capable of destroying America’s infrastructure.

But a congressionally-mandated commission has explained why this threat is very real, and how other nations have explored the ability to harness EMP as a weapon. Most notably, 28 countries have the type of ballistic missile capabilities to could carry out such an attack. Several of them, such as Iran and North Korea, don’t like America very much.

Yet Congress has largely ignored the EMP Commission’s warnings. The military has taken some steps to harden Air Force One and other defense assets against an EMP attack. But critical infrastructure, including the resources which keep Americans healthy and alive (hospitals and first responder resources) remain ill-equipped.

The Commission’s chairman has testified that within one year of such an attack, 70 percent to 90 percent of Americans would be dead from such causes as disease. It is also possible that many Americans would die of starvation due to the interruption of the national food supply, which is entirely automated and needs a functioning power grid to operate.

If America can spend months and months debating the future of health care, why are so many of us still in the dark about EMP preparedness?

March 22, 2010
Homeschoolers win U.S. asylum, now face deportation

Agency seeks European precedent applied in Tennessee case

(WorldNetDaily)  Citing a European court ruling, U.S. immigration authorities are arguing in an appeal that a family that fled Germany and gained asylum in Tennessee claiming their government persecuted them for homeschooling should be returned to their home country.

According to the Home School Legal Defense Association, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has lodged an appeal of Judge Lawrence Burman`s grant of asylum to the family of Uwe and Hannelore Romeike.

WND reported in January when the federal immigration judge said in his ruling, "We can`t expect every country to follow our Constitution. The world might be a better place if it did. However, the rights being violated here are basic human rights that no country has a right to violate."

Find out why public schools don`t always provide the best result for children, get "The Little Book of Big Reasons to Homeschool"

The decision in the Memphis, Tenn., hearing granted permission to Romeike and their five children to remain in the U.S., according to the Virginia-based HSLDA, which has been working on the family`s case.

WND earlier reported on the details of the family`s situation.

"This decision finally recognizes that German homeschoolers are a specific social group that is being persecuted by a Western democracy," Mike Donnelly, staff attorney and director of international relations for HSLDA, said at the time.

"It is embarrassing for Germany, since a Western nation should uphold basic human rights, which include allowing parents to raise and educate their own children."

But today, the HSLDA called it a "deeply disturbing" development for ICE to appeal Burman`s decision.

The appeal, submitted to the Board of Immigration Appeals in Fairfax, Va., claimed homeschoolers are too "amorphous" to be a "particular social group," the HSLDA said.

Further, the agency claims, the U.S. "law has recognized the broad power of the state to compel school attendance and regulate curriculum and teacher certification."

ICE sought application of the Konrad case in the European Court of Human Rights that "the public education laws of Germany do not violate basic human rights." The ruling elaborated that parents had no right to direct the education of their own children because that was a responsibility of the state.

"In other words, it appears that ICE is arguing that U.S. judges should follow international law – rather than U.S. law," the HSLDA said in an alert.

"American judges should use American law alone in making decisions about cases in American courts," said Michael Smith, president of the HSLDA. "Polls show that Americans by an overwhelming margin reject the idea of using international law in American courts to decide American cases. The use of international law in American courts is a threat to American justice and should be opposed."

ICE argued that the U.S. government simply could ban all homeschooling – and that should disqualify the granting of asylum.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

March 22, 2010
States Consider Gambling to Ease Budget Woes

(CitizenLink) At least 18 states are considering expanding gambling to make up for budget shortfalls this year. 

Pennsylvania hopes to add more table games, Kansas is promoting slot machines in Dodge City, and Iowa wants four more casinos.

Iowa state Rep. Kraig Paulsen told The Associated Press that even though he opposes expansion plans, his state is dependent.

“Absolutely, we’re addicted to gambling dollars,” the Republican said.  “The current budget couldn’t be close to being balanced without that money.”

According to a report from the Rockefeller Institute, state and local gambling revenues dropped 2.6 percent in fiscal 2009.  That’s the first time that’s happened in 30 years.  Still, Chad Hills, gambling analyst for Focus on the Family Action, said states persist with expansion plans.

“What’s ironic is that states seem to be oblivious to the fact that the gambling well has run dry,” he said.

March 21, 2010
Price: Obamacare Means 159 New Gov`t Agencies

(NewsMax)  The new government agencies that will be created as the result of Obamacare will worsen the quality of American medical care by restricting physicians and hospitals to use their best judgment, according to Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., a physician and chairman of the Republican Study Committee.

In fact, he says, the bill would create 159 new governemnt agencies to regulate insurance and medical care for Americans.

Writing for AOL News, Price says in an op-ed that the healthcare overhaul being contemplated by House Democrats will sacrifice “the quality of health care that has made this nation`s practice of medicine the envy of the world.”

“Quality remains one of the six principles of patient-centered health care that Republicans have advocated,” Price writes. “Yet, all Americans find in the Democrats` government-centered vision are various boards of bureaucrats -- not practicing physicians -- determining what is considered quality care.”

The plan will take away the right of individuals to make the best decisions about their healthcare in consultation with their physician.

“An individual patient is far better served when health care decisions are informed by the advice of their doctor, not the dictates of Washington,” Price writes. “So when one reads the details of the legislation pending before Congress and finds the creation of 159 new government offices and programs, there is little else to feel but fear and concern for what will happen to the level of quality care in this country.”

The GOP has pushed a series of common-sense measures, Price says, that include tort reform and efforts to reduce waste and mismanagement in government programs like Medicare.

“Republicans are championing reform with no new bureaucratic boards making medical decisions, no $500 billion cuts to Medicare, no new mandates, and no one standing between you and your doctor,” Price writes. “We can fix what ails our current system without destroying it if we abide by the principle that quality in health care must not be sacrificed.”

March 21, 2010
Health Care Bill Passes; Pro-Lifers Not `Fooled`

(Christian Post) Despite a last-minute deal between Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) and President Obama who promised to issue an executive order making clear that no federal money would pay for abortions, some Christians and conservative groups say they are not "fooled."

"[A] flimsy promise of an executive order from the President may make it more comfortable for `pro-life` Democrats like Rep. Bart Stupak to vote for the bill, but in the end, such an illusory promise is not even worth the paper on which it`s written," said Concerned Women for America CEO Penny Nance.

The House voted 219-212 on legislation – the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – that is considered the biggest transformation of the U.S. health system in decades. The $940 billion bill would extend coverage to 32 million uninsured Americans and ban insurance company practices such as denying coverage to people with pre-existing medical conditions.

President Obama hailed the House`s approval stating, "This is what change looks like."

"We proved that this government – a government of the people and by the people – still works for the people," he said.

But pro-life groups say Congress has ignored the American people and are disappointed in the group of Democrats, including Stupak, who had stood firmly to keep abortion-funding out of health care reform.

"Some Democratic Members who have had good pro-life records in the past turned away from those principles today, instead putting their trust in the most pro-abortion President in history and his equally pro-abortion Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius," stated Family Research Council Action President Tony Perkins.

Stupak gave his vote of approval for the legislation after he was assured of an executive order that would reaffirm the Hyde Amendment, which has prevented the use of any federal funds for abortion coverage since 1976 (except in the cases of rape, incest, or danger to the physical health of the mother).

He commented, "I have said from the start I would not vote for health care reform without adequate protections in place to make sure the current law of no federal funding for abortion is maintained. The president’s executive order upholds the principle that federal funds should not be used to subsidize abortion coverage."

But opponents of the legislation say an executive order falls short and can be rescinded.

A legal team at Americans United for Life Action concluded that an executive order "is not an adequate fix to mitigate this legislation`s establishment of taxpayer-funded abortion."

"An executive order, for example, cannot prevent insurance companies that pay for abortions in the exchanges from receiving federal subsidies," said Dr. Charmaine Yoest, president and CEO of AUL.

Yoest has vowed to begin an aggressive, state-by-state campaign to help states opt out of subsidizing plans that cover abortions through their exchanges. AUL will also attempt to litigate the matter in the courts.

President Obama is expected to sign the health care bill Tuesday at the earliest.

March 19, 2010
White House Won`t Rule Out That Obama Will Sign Other Bills Such As Immigration Reform That Are Not Put to Yea or Nay Votes in Both Houses
(CNSNews) The White House declined on Thursday to rule out that President Barack Obama might sign future legislation, such as an immigration reform measure, that has not been put to a recorded yea-or-nay vote in both houses of Congress.

CNSNews.com asked White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs about the possibility of the president doing so because of a prospective lawsuit that Landmark Legal Foundation President Mark Levin has prepared to file against the president if he signs a health care bill that has not been passed by a direct recorded yea-or-nay vote in the House of Representatives.  The prospective lawsuit argues that the plain language of Article 1, Section 7 of the Constitution requires that both houses of Congress hold recorded yea-or-nay votes on a bill before it can be presented to the president for his signature and before it can become law.

“I stated earlier that when this (health care) bill passes the House, the president will be happy to sign it,” Gibbs told CNSNews.com.

He twice declined to say, however, whether President Obama would rule out signing additional pieces of legislation that did not pass both chambers of Congress with a yea-or-nay vote.

Click here to read the entire article.

March 19, 2010
Male-on-male sexual assaults in military

(OneNewsNow)  A national defense analyst and Pentagon advisor says a recent report concerning the alarming rate of male-on-male sexual assaults in the military should create a roadblock to President Obama`s efforts to repeal the 1993 law banning homosexuals from military service.

An annual report from the Department of Defense reveals that over the past year, reports of sexual assaults in the military have increased by 11 percent, including a 16-percent spike in reported incidents in combat areas, principally in Iraq and Afghanistan. While 87 percent of the reported assaults were male-on-female, seven percent were male-on-male.
 
Lt. Col. Bob Maginnis (USA-Ret.) was part of the military working group that helped craft the 1993 law known as Section 654, Title 10. The law states that homosexuality is incompatible with military service. Maginnis considers the seven-percent figure in male-on-male sexual assaults alarming.
 
"You`ve got to come to the conclusion that in the military, where we have a ban for that type of service and we`re having a fairly significant incidence of assault that`s associated with that type of activity, then you actually may have a worse problem than you think," he suggests.
 
Maginnis argues that the DoD report is not going to help those in the Pentagon who are supporting President Obama`s call to lift the ban. "They may dismiss it as just an aberration or [say] this is not indicative of gay behavior, but their own statistics are pretty self-evident," he says. "Seven percent is not something to dismiss lightly. If you`re going to have that much homosexual assault, that`s just the tip of the iceberg."
 
The retired Army officer says the increase of incidents of male-on-female sexual assaults is also very alarming and must be dealt with, especially in a time of war.

March 19, 2010
Quartet urges Israeli settlement freeze

Mideast peacemakers ‘condemn’ East Jerusalem building plan

(MSNBC)  The so-called Quartet of Middle East mediators called on Israel to freeze all settlement activities and denounced Israel`s aim to build new housing in East Jerusalem Friday.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon read a joint statement by the members — Russia, the United States, the U.N. and the European Union — following a meeting of the group in Moscow, which welcomed the prospect of "proximity talks" between Israel and the Palestinians.

"The Quartet believes these negotiations should lead to a settlement, negotiated between the parties within 24 months, that ends the occupation which began in 1967 and results in the emergence of an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbors," the statement said.

"The Quartet urges the government of Israel to freeze all settlement activity, including natural growth, dismantle outposts erected since March 2001; and to refrain from demolitions and evictions in East Jerusalem."

It added that the Quartet "condemns the decision by the government of Israel to advance planning for new housing units in East Jerusalem."

Those plans this month caused prospects for indirect Israeli-Palestinian talks to collapse and prompted Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is in Moscow for the talks, to strongly criticize Israel.

Closed dinner
Friday`s formal Quartet meeting involved Clinton, her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, Ban, E.U. foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Quartet Representative Tony Blair, who also shared a closed dinner Thursday evening.

Israel unveiled the plans for 1,600 new Jewish housing units in East Jerusalem, which Palestinians view as the capital of their future state, during a visit by Vice President Joe Biden last week.

The Palestinians say they will not go ahead with indirect peace talks unless the housing scheme is scrapped.

The Quartet said that all parties should promote those talks as part of moves toward establishing a Palestinian state in Gaza and the Israeli-occupied West Bank within 24 months.

But the mediators did not say how they could ensure their calls, which have gone unheeded in the past, would be respected.

Hours before the Quartet met, Israeli aircraft struck at least six targets in the Gaza Strip in response to rocket fire from the Hamas-ruled territory the previous day that killed a Thai worker in Israel.

`Deeply concerned`
The Quartet statement condemned the rocket assault and called for an "immediate end to violence and terror."

But it added: "The Quartet is deeply concerned by the continuing deterioration in Gaza, including the humanitarian and human rights situation of the civilian population and stresses the urgency of a resolution to the Gaza crisis."

Ban said he would travel from the Moscow meeting to Gaza on Sunday to see the situation on the ground there for himself.

Palestinians welcomed the quartet`s declaration.

"It is a very important statement," said Nabil Abu Rdainah, an aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. "The statement is in full harmony with the Palestinian and the Arab position." 

"It is of vital importance that Israel abides by this statement so that the peace process can resume."

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman described the Quartet timetable as unrealistic, saying that it ignored "the last 16 years of Israeli attempts" at negotiating with the Palestinians, the BBC reported. He added that Israel had made many "significant gestures," adding that the Palestinians had to "prove that they are really interested in negotiations."

However, Clinton did discuss steps to improve the outlook for Israeli-Palestinian peace by telephone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday, after U.S. sources suggested he was refusing to respond to her request to call him.

Netanyahu spokesman Nir Chefetz said the Israeli leader had proposed some "mutual confidence-building steps" that both Israel and the Palestinians could take in the West Bank. He declined to spell these out.

Clinton said Netanyahu had given a "useful and productive" response to her concerns on the settlement issue during a telephone conversation on Thursday, but similarly did not give details.

The Quartet was formed in 2002 in Spain to assist in mediating an end to escalating violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It last met on the margins of the U.N. General Assembly in September.

But its results so far have been meager, leading some analysts to dismiss it as an expensive club for diplomats.

Moscow had originally hoped to organize a full-scale international conference on the Middle East this year, but the lack of progress on Israeli-Palestinian peace talks has forced Russia to settle instead for hosting a Quartet meeting.

March 18, 2010
Problems accompany legal euthanasia

(OneNewsNow)  Assisted suicide has been legal for a year in Washington, and the state health department has issued its first report.

During the first year, 63 people requested and received lethal prescriptions to kill themselves. 47 have since died, while 36 are confirmed to have used the poison to accomplish it. Although 79 percent suffered from cancer, few cited pain as the reason for seeking end of life treatment as the main concern was the cost for alternate treatment.

"What is and has been the reality of this [is] that when you transform assisted suicide into a medical treatment, it makes it just like every other medical treatment, except it`s lots cheaper. And people begin to see it as a benefit for the family," comments Rita Marker, attorney and president of the International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide (ITF).

Many of the patients had insurance, but Marker says that means nothing. It does, however, serve as a reminder of an Oregon cancer victim whose treatment was rejected by her insurance. She was told, though, that they would cover her drugs for assisted suicide. The report shows there are too many unknowns, and the possibility of murder is an example.

"After that individual got the prescription, we don`t know if once they got it home they put it into the medicine cabinet and then decided, `I don`t think I`ll take this` and then whether someone else thinking maybe it would be a good idea for them to take it, mixed it into their food," the ITF president poses. "There`s no way of knowing."

There is an open chance for elder abuse, but no way to track it or prosecute those responsible since the law requires prosecutors to treat the death as natural.

March 18, 2010
Court Orders Death for Unborn Child in Argentinean Rape Case

(LifeSiteNews)  An unborn child has been killed by doctors in the province of Chabut, Argentina, following a protracted legal struggle to save its life, according to local reports.

The abortion took place on Friday despite last minute petitions filed with the provincial Supreme Court by the Corporation of Catholic Attorneys, and despite three earlier rulings against the deadly procedure.

The child, who was at 18 weeks of gestation, was allegedly conceived through the rape of its fifteen-year-old mother, who has accused her stepfather of being the culprit. The mother`s name has not been made public by the Argentinian media.

If the girl`s child had been born only five weeks later, it could have survived outside of its mother`s womb.

Although the local courts of first and second instance ruled against permitting the abortion, as well as the local hospital`s bioethics committee, the civil division of the province`s Supreme Court reversed the rulings, and ordered a local hospital to do the abortion.

According to the pro-life news service Notivida, various elements of the national government put pressure on the judges to permit the procedure, including the National Institute against Discrimination, the National Women`s Council, the National Ministry of Health, and the Secretariat of Human Rights, through friend of the court briefs.

Various leftist organizations and labor groups, including the communist party, protested in favor of the abortion, according to local news reports.

Although all abortions are illegal in Argentina, no criminal penalty exists if the victim of the abortion was conceived by rape.

Catholic Church authorities in the city of Comodoro Rivadavia had offered their "warm and comprehensive" help for the child`s mother, but to no avail.

"The country has suffered much because of the empire of death, as an easy solution for emergency problems. Today, we are suffering the consequences," the diocese noted.

March 18, 2010
ACORN Branches Rename, Rebrand After Video Scandal

(AP)  Affiliates of the once mighty liberal activist group ACORN are remaking themselves in a desperate bid to ditch the tarnished name of their parent organization and restore federal grants and other revenue streams that ran dry in the wake of a video scandal.
 
The letters A, C, O, R and N are coming off office doors from New York to California. Business cards are being reprinted. New signs with new names are popping up in front of offices.
 
The breakaways are trying to shed the scandal that emerged six months ago when videos showed some ACORN workers giving tax tips to conservative activists posing as a pimp and prostitute. But while their names are different, most groups have kept the same offices and staff.
 
That, critics say, means the groups really haven`t started anew and severed all ties to ACORN, which faced accusations of mismanagement and rampant voter registration fraud well before the video brouhaha sent even longtime Democratic backers scattering.
 
Even the national office of ACORN, or the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, doesn`t blame affiliates for bolting from under its umbrella -- conceding its entire 40-state network has been devastated by what backers characterize as right-wing attacks.
 
"It is true that these range of attacks do damage to your brand and your good name," said Kevin Whelan, ACORN`s communication`s director. "The other reality is that we are starting to win some vindication on the facts. But vindication doesn`t necessarily pay the rent."
 
ACORN`s financial situation and reputation went into free fall within days of the videos` release in September. Congress reacted by yanking ACORN`s federal funding, private donors held back cash and scores of ACORN offices closed.
 
On Wednesday, a U.S. judge reiterated an earlier ruling that the federal law blacklisting ACORN and groups allied with it was unconstitutional because it singled them out. That doesn`t mean any money will automatically be restored, however.
 
For years, ACORN could draw on 400,000 members to lobby for liberal causes, such as raising the minimum wage or adopting universal health care. Locally, its activists pushed city officials to fix broken street lights and it pressured banks to offer more favorable loans to low-income Americans. ACORN was arguably most successful at registering hundreds of thousands of low-income voters, though that mission was dogged by fraud allegations, including that some workers submitted forms signed by `Mickey Mouse` or other cartoon characters.
 
There`s a chance the national group could disband, and it, too, may consider changing its name.
 
"The sorts of attacks ACORN has faced as an organization are unprecedented since the McCarthyism in the `50s, and it remains an open question whether an organization can survive that," Whelan said. "Time will tell."
 
One of the latest groups to adopt a new name is ACORN Housing, long one of the best-funded affiliates. Now, the group is calling itself the Affordable Housing Centers of America.
 
Others changing their names include what were among the largest affiliates: California ACORN is now Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, and New York ACORN has become New York Communities for Change. More are expected to follow suit.
 
The housing affiliate has lost more than most. The federal cutoff slashed its budget 75 percent, from $24 million in 2009 to $6 million in 2010. It`s closed half of its 33 offices, cut half its 250 staff and reduced numbers of low-income families it gives financial advice to from 20,000 to 10,000.
 
An unadorned paper sign with the new name was taped at the entrance of the group`s Chicago headquarters on a recent afternoon. But much else is unchanged: The new group is in the same offices; and the head of the old group, Mike Shea, is the head of the new one.
 
Still, insisted Shea, "We really have no relationship with ACORN whatsoever."
 
Many opponents don`t buy it. A distinguishing feature of ACORN for years has been its complex web of affiliates, some of which shared money and manpower without ever assuming ACORN`s name, said Frederick Hill, spokesman for Republicans on the U.S. House oversight and government reform committee.
 
"The idea that some ACORN organizations are trying to obscure who they really are should be troubling to Americans," he said.
 
A recent report on ACORN compiled by the House Republicans whom Hill represents describes ACORN as a "shell game" with a structure "designed to conceal illegal activities, to use taxpayer and tax-exempt dollars for partisan political purposes, and to distract investigators."
 
To credibly claim a clean break, argued Hill, the new groups should at least have hired directors from outside ACORN.
 
"But I can`t tell you of a single example our committee has seen where we say, `Geez, it really looks like they`re purging all the individuals who are with national ACORN,`" he said.
 
The breakaways insist they have changed in more than just name, pointing to tougher ethics rules and better management. Shea said his Chicago-based housing group brought in independent auditors to pour through its books; all, he says, gave them high marks.
 
"We can prove to our stakeholders that we`ve put reforms in place and what you saw on the video can never happen again," he said.
 
In the end, all the confidence-building measures may do little good when it comes to divisive, politically active groups like ACORN. Foes like Hill and a vast range of longtime detractors are sure to harken back to the old ACORN names at every opportunity.
 
"If a company changes its name, the hubbub eventually dies down," said Bill Lozito, head of Minneapolis-based branding firm, Strategic Name Development. "Changing a name associated with politics is a lot tougher. People won`t let go of the original name and won`t forget."

March 18, 2010
Obama: `Procedural` Spat Over Health Bill Vote Doesn`t Worry Me

(Fox News)  President Obama is not worried -- and doesn`t think Americans should worry -- about the "procedural" debate over whether House Democratic leaders should go ahead with a plan to approve health care reform without a traditional vote, he told Fox News on Wednesday. 

The president, in an interview with Fox News` Bret Baier, responded for the first time to the controversy over a plan to use a parliamentary maneuver to allow the House to pass the Senate`s health care bill without forcing members to vote for it directly.

EXCLUSIVE: VIDEO | TRANSCRIPT

The esoteric procedure has drawn fierce protest from Republicans, who say Democrats are trying to avoid accountability. But the president said there will be no doubt about where lawmakers stand on health care reform. 

"I don`t spend a lot of time worrying about what the procedural rules are in the House or Senate," Obama said. "What I can tell you is that the vote that`s taken in the House will be a vote for health care reform. And if people vote yes, whatever form that takes, that is going to be a vote for health care reform. And I don`t think we should pretend otherwise. And if they don`t, if they vote against it, then they`re going to be voting against health care reform and they`re going to be voting in favor of the status quo. 

"So Washington gets very concerned with these procedures in Congress, whether Republicans are in charge or Democrats are in charge," he said. 

Indeed, House lawmakers would be going on record for health care reform. But they wouldn`t be casting a vote for the Senate bill alone. 

Instead, under a process called a "self-executing rule," the House could simultaneously approve the Senate bill while voting on a package of changes to it. This would "deem" the Senate bill to be passed, without compelling members to vote for it directly. 

Democratic leaders are considering the option because many House Democrats don`t want to cast a vote in favor of the unaltered Senate bill, which they oppose for numerous reasons. But the House must pass the Senate bill in order to move on to the package of changes intended to correct all the things about it that they don`t like. 

The tactic would allow members to temporarily accept the Senate version while keeping it at arm`s length.

Obama brushed off concerns about the special deals that helped get the Senate bill passed. 

"By the time the vote has taken place, not only I will know what`s in it, you`ll know what`s in it because it`s going to be posted and everybody`s going to be able to evaluate it on the merits," he said.

Obama said the the debate over the deals "ends up being a little frustrating is because the focus entirely is on Washington process."

Throughout the interview, the president repeatedly deflected questions about process.

Asked to respond to a viewer`s e-mail question about why he has to "bribe Congress to pass it," Obama said, "I`ve got the same exact e-mails that I could show you that talk about why haven`t we done something to make sure that I, a small business person, am getting as good a deal as members of Congress are getting, and don`t have my insurance rates jacked up 40 percent?"

Obama later added, "I`ve got to say to you, there are a lot more people who are concerned about the fact that they may be losing their house or going bankrupt because of health care."

Obama expressed confidence that the health care bill will pass.

"And the reason I`m confident that it`s going to pass is because it`s the right thing to do," he said.

"And yes, I have said that this is an ugly process," he said. "It was ugly when Republicans were in charge. It was ugly when Democrats were in charge."

 

March 18, 2010
National Coffee Party Day flops

Anti-tea movement kicks off with minuscule crowds

(WorldNetDaily)  Leading up to today`s "National Coffee Party Day" – the countrywide launch of a leftwing movement meant as an answer to the tea parties – a CNN article asked, "Will the Coffee Party rise to the scale of the Tea Party movement? Saturday is the first big test."

If "scale" is indeed the measure by which the Coffee Party will be graded, however, today`s cup-o`-Joe kickoff has earned a resounding "F."

Despite a news-media buildup over the past few weeks from CNN, MSNBC, New York Times, National Public Radio, Washington Post, Seattle Times and dozens of other outlets, the estimated 350 coffee houses hosting events around the country today welcomed mostly minuscule crowds.

Last year, the fledgling tea-party movement scheduled nearly 2,000 gatherings on April 15, Tax Day. Over the summer, tea partiers packed health-care town halls by the hundreds, overflowing venues and leading to lines running around the block. On Sept. 12, the crowd of tea partiers that flooded Washington, D.C., was estimated into the hundreds of thousands, possibly topping 1 million.

By contrast, Alex Pappas of the Daily Caller reports showing up to a Washington, D.C., coffee party at Peregrine Espresso in the Eastern Market area today, "only to find a small gathering of five activists huddled at a small table."

A columnist for the Kansas City Star reports a better turnout in her city, counting about 40 attendees.

Huffington Post columnist Tamar Abrams claims to have attended a separate coffee-party gathering in the nation`s capital led by anti-war activist Andy Shallal and CodePink founder Medea Benjamin and covered by a CNN camera crew.

About 50 people showed up.

Kansas City`s group and Abrams` gathering, however, may be the exceptions to the rule – exceptionally large, that is.

According to numbers posted on The Coffee Party USA website, it appears most crowds numbered fewer than 20.

The San Francisco gathering lists 15 attendees; Blacksburg, Va., lists 6. The coffee party at Hyde Park in Chicago, where President Obama lived for years, apparently only managed three.

WND contacted The Coffee Party USA for more precise headcounts, but received no reply.

The organizer of a coffee party in Winston-Salem, N.C., however, told WND the website underestimated the size of his gathering, listing attendees at 18, while 28 actually signed in.

The coffee-party movement got its start only a few weeks ago when documentary filmmaker Annabel Park felt frustrated both over the news coverage the tea parties were receiving and over a perceived lack of representation of her viewpoints in Washington.

"We need to wake up and work hard to get our government to represent us," Park told CNN. "The health-care debate showed not only that we are a very divided country, but there`s something really wrong with our political process. We kind of got to see the innards of the political process and realize there`s something very broken. I think that`s what we`re responding to."

Park was prompted to update her Facebook page as a way of venting her frustration:

"Let`s start a coffee party – a Red Bull party – anything but tea," she wrote. "Let`s get together and drink cappuccino and have real political dialogue with substance and compassion."

Despite the "anything but tea" comment, Park doesn`t want to see the coffee party chalked up as just an anti-tea-party movement.

"It`s a response to how they are trying to change our government," Park told CNN. "It`s their methodology that we are against. We may want some of the same things, but their journey is so alienating to us."

After word of her call for a coffee party began getting out, Park was suddenly inundated with interview requests from major news outlets. After the articles hit the newsstands and cable-television networks, her newly formed "Join the Coffee Party Movement" Facebook page generated over 140,000 fans.

Judging by the numbers that showed up for today`s events, however, the coffee in America is still a far weaker brew than the nation`s tea.

"They will make an effort to project this as the voice of a new `grass-roots` and `bipartisan` political coalition," commented Barry Willoughby, one of the leaders of a loose confederation in Florida calling itself the Naples Tea Party, in a Naples News opinion piece. "Does one really think the coffee party will receive a grass-roots/bipartisan mantle that has forever eluded the left?"

Willoughby then quotes a comment made by Charles Martel on Red State: "The problem with this, and any other wannabe leftist tea-party equivalent is this: The tea party began and has flourished because those involved felt – rightly – that they had no voice in our country today, that they were being ignored or outright mocked by government and the media. The tea party has given us back power and a voice.

"Any such group on the left is going to run into the very real problem that they already have a voice," writes Martel. "The media, Hollywood, academia, basically the entire government – they`re all saying the same thing this Coffee Party will be saying. And the movement loses any motivation and drive right from the get-go."

Park, however, disagrees.

"Just like in the American Revolution, we are looking for real representation right now," she said last week on CNN`s "American Morning." "We don`t feel represented by our government right now, and we don`t really feel represented well by the media either."

March 18, 2010
CDC: Gay Men Over 44 Times More Likely HIV+ than Hetero Men

(LifeSiteNews.com)  A data analysis released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention underscores the disproportionate impact of HIV and syphilis among gay and bisexual men in the United States.

The data, presented at CDC`s 2010 National STD Prevention Conference, finds that the rate of new HIV diagnoses among men who have sex with men (MSM) is more than 44 times that of other men and more than 40 times that of women.

The range was 522-989 cases of new HIV diagnoses per 100,000 MSM vs. 12 per 100,000 other men and 13 per 100,000 women.

The rate of primary and secondary syphilis among MSM is more than 46 times that of other men and more than 71 times that of women, the analysis says. The range was 91-173 cases per 100,000 MSM vs. 2 per 100,000 other men and 1 per 100,000 women.

While CDC data have shown for several years that gay and bisexual men make up the majority of new HIV and new syphilis infections, CDC estimated the rates of these diseases for the first time based on new estimates of the size of the U.S. population of MSM. Because disease rates account for differences in the size of populations being compared, rates provide a reliable method for assessing health disparities between populations.

"While the heavy toll of HIV and syphilis among gay and bisexual men has been long recognized, this analysis shows just how stark the health disparities are between this and other populations," said Kevin Fenton, M.D., director of CDC`s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention.

Fenton insisted that "solutions for young gay and bisexual men are especially critical, so that HIV does not inadvertently become a rite of passage for each new generation of gay men."

In 2008 the outgoing executive director of National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, a leading homosexualist organization, admitted that homosexual behavior is both extremely high-risk and primarily responsible for the spread of HIV/AIDS in America.

Referring to the rate of AIDS among homosexuals, GLTF`s Matt Foreman said that "Internally, when these numbers come out, the `established` gay community seems to have a collective shrug as if this isn`t our problem.  Folks, with 70 percent of the people in this country living with HIV being gay or bi, we cannot deny that HIV is a gay disease. We have to own that and face up to that."

March 18, 2010
ICANN Holds Off on .XXX Decision

(Christian Post)  The board of the international body that manages Web addresses will not decide until June whether or not to approve the latest proposal for a “.xxx” top-level domain.

On Friday, the last day of its 37th International Meeting in Nairobi, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) board initiated a 70-day process of consultations on the top-level domain, which opponents say will increase the amount of pornography on the internet.

Though browsers or filters could be easily configured to automatically block sites designated as .xxx, Web experts have expressed concerns over the false sense of security that the top-level domain could give parents, who would still have to worry about pornography on .com sites as the addition of the .xxx domain would simply provide another platform for adult sites and not result in an exodus from .com domains.

Similar proposals for the .xxx domain in 2000, 2006, and 2007 were rejected by ICANN and had drawn strong opposition from conservatives groups such as the Family Research Council, which argued that "pornographers will be given even more opportunities to flood our homes, libraries, and society with pornography through the .xxx domain."

"The .XXX domain will increase not decrease porn on the Internet," FRC President Tony Perkins had noted.

When asked about the board’s decision Friday, ICANN President and CEO Rod Beckstrom said, “There’s different ways this issue might move to the next step.”

“The Board has tasked the General Council – [ICANN General Counsel and Secretary] John Jeffrey and myself – to lay out and define those formally for the Board and to publish those for public comments within 14 business days,” he added.

Following Jeffrey and Beckstrom’s report of possible process options, ICANN will open a 45-day period for public comment before making a decision on whether to move forward with the plan in June.

In June, ICANN will be meeting in the Belgian capital of Brussels for its 38t international public meeting.

The meeting will be held June 20-25.

March 18, 2010
AGAIN! City orders Bible study closed

(WorldNetDaily)  A southern California city has ordered a Friday night Bible study involving about a dozen people to shut down its meetings by Good Friday or members could face financial sanctions.

Or they could apply to purchase an expensive permit from the city government.

The new case is similar to two other disputes that have been in the headlines in recent months, including one last week in Gilbert, Ariz., and another in 2009 in San Diego County.

However, in the case involving Rancho Cucamonga, legal experts who have come in to help Bible study members say the city knows it`s targeting for banishment a Bible study and they are "not budging."

In the previous cases, San Diego County officials apologized after a code enforcement officer tried to shut down a Bible study and in Gilbert, officials told WND last week that they were working on a change in a zoning requirement that had been interpreted by staff members to ban Bible studies from residences.

The new case is alarming because of the apparent intentional decision by the city to pursue the closure of the Bible study, according to Brad Dacus, whose Pacific Justice Institute is working on the case.

"The city`s stance has similarities to, but is perhaps even harsher than a pending situation in Gilbert, Ariz., and a flare-up last year over a home Bible Study in San Diego County," his organization confirmed.

Rancho Cucamonga officials are demanding that the small home Bible study group stop meeting – or apply to purchase a Conditional Use Permit which also would be required for a full church operation.

Dacus said the study group has been meeting on Friday nights and averages about 15 people. Members are affiliated with Shiloh Tabernacle, which rents a community center for Sunday services.

The city recently dispatched a letter to the homeowner insisting the study is not allowed because it is a "church," Dacus said. In the city, churches are required to obtain a "Conditional Use Permit" in residential areas.

"The city has also indicated that no CUP would be granted and the gatherings must cease by Good Friday, April 2," PJI said.

Senior Counsel Michael Peffer, who heads the organization`s southern California office, represents the homeowner where the Bible study meets and is contesting the orders.

"Imposing a CUP requirement on a home Bible study is manifestly absurd and unjust," Dacus said. "I don`t know of a single court in America that would approve their actions."

His organization previously has guided churches through the CUP process, which requires public hearings, traffic studies, architectural design reviews and even seismic retrofits – a process that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"We will give the city a chance to rescind its letter without litigation, but we are fully prepared to take this as far as is necessary to defend this Bible study group – and countless others like it," he said.

Multiple WND messages left with members of the city`s building department as well as other city officials seeking comment were not returned.

But Dacus said it`s a significant problem because the city`s definition of a church is so broad.

"According to their definition a family praying over their dinner would qualify as a church," he told WND.

The precedent that would be created should the rule stand, he said, should alarm religious people across the nation.

"When you step back and look at communist China, home churches are being persecuted there. This isn`t any different. And this isn`t even a church, just a Bible study, facing the same ultimatums, the same demands as in communist China.

"Make no mistake, if we let the city of Rancho Cucamonga get away with this, it will be a green light to every other city in the U.S," he said.

"This is no misunderstanding," he said. "In this case the city knows exactly what they`re doing, exactly what the facts are, and they`re not budging."

The city, however, has no similar restrictions for Monday night football parties or various other events that would be held in homes, PJI confirmed.

March 17, 2010
WATCHMEN ACTION ALERT


Health Care Bill May Pass Without a Real Vote

Members of the House of Representatives may proceed with plans to push the Senate healthcare bill through without actually voting on it with a procedure titled, “deem and pass.”

The House Rules Committee would adopt a rule that would “deem” the Senate bill passed when the House votes on a package of changes to that Senate bill.

According to CNS News, constitutional scholars have said that by making the Senate health care bill law without ever voting on it in the House is unconstitutional and could spark a constitutional crisis.

Radio host Mark Levin said,  “I can’t think of a more blatant violation of the United States Constitution than this.  If this is done, this will create the greatest constitutional crisis since the Civil War. It would be 100 times worse than Watergate. It would be law by fiat, which would mean government by fiat.”

Call the your Representative and tell them:

  • To block any procedure that moves this corrupt legislation forward.
  • The “ deem and pass” procedure is unconstitutional.
  • Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution states that all bills must pass Congress via a vote in both the Senate and the House.
  • You want the House to take an “up” or “down” vote on the bill.
  • Federal funding of abortion is covered in the bill and you shouldn’t be required to pay for abortions when you are morally opposed to it.

Local U.S. Representatives:

Generally supporting current health care reform bill (Voted YES on health care bill in Nov. 2009):

  • Representative Joe Baca - Phone: 909-885-2222
    Rep. Baca’s office reports he is waiting for the final bill to be released before making a final decision about his vote but he’s leaning toward its support.

Not supporting current health care reform bill (Voted NO on health care bill in Nov. 2009):

  • Representative Ken Calvert - Phone: 951-784-4300
  • Representative David Dreier - Phone: 888-906-2626
  • Representative Jerry Lewis - Phone: 800-233-1700
  • Representative Gary Miller - Phone: 714-257-1142

Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 to get contact information if your Representative is not listed here.

Article I, Section VII of the Constitution:
“Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it becomes a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by Yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sunday excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.”

PRAY for our nation.  Pray for our leaders.

March 15, 2010
President will try to push through pro-abortion healthcare legislation

URGENT ALERT


Source: www.stoptheabortionmandate.com
Abortion industry lobbyists are rejoicing following the announcement that their allies in the White House and Congress plan to use the controversial reconciliation process as a last-ditch effort to ram through a health care reform bill that would mandate abortion coverage and government funding of abortion.

This is the BIG ONE. Everything we’ve been working for comes down to this moment. 

The current health care reform proposal … 

–> Includes government funding of abortion 

–> Imposes a brand-new “abortion fee” on taxpayers 

–> Directs $11 BILLION in new funding to groups like Planned Parenthood — the nation’s largest abortion chain that took in over $349,000,000 in tax funding last year while aborting 305,310 babies 

 –> Would result in the largest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade

If ever there was a time for every pro-life American to let their voice be heard, that time is NOW. 

Click here to find out what you — and everyone you know — needs to do

March 12, 2010
Surprise! Guess who’s biggest Islamic threat

(WorldNetDaily)  Famed PLO terrorist-turned-Christian Walid Shoebat is warning that the United States needs to be watching not Iran, Syria or even Hamas and Hezbollah as closely as it needs to follow the actions of the Islamic leaders of Turkey.

It was just a few months ago when Joseph Farah`s G2 Bulletin reported Turkey appeared to be seeking the restoration of the old Ottoman Empire.

The report said Turkey`s increasing disinterest in the European Union combined with its efforts to re-establish its influence in Turkic countries of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan and its outreaches to Russian, Syria and Iran are cause for concern.

At the time, the shift by Tayyip Recep Erdogan, Turkey`s leader, from West to East was obvious, because Turkey announced it was cutting Israel out of annual military exercises involving NATO forces while it sought out military exercises with Syria.

Now Shoebat, the grandson of the Muslim Mukhtar of Beit Sahour-Bethlehem and a friend of Haj-Ameen Al-Husseini, the grand mufti of Jerusalem and notorious friend of Adolf Hitler, is worried about what Turkey is saying and doing.

As a young man, Shoebat was part of the Palestinian Liberation Organization and participated in acts of terror and violence against Israel. After moving to the U.S., he worked for the Arab Student Organization at Loop College in Chicago and continued his anti-Israel activities. In 1993, Walid studied the Tanach (Jewish Bible) in a challenge to convert his wife to Islam, finishing up by changing sides.

"Turkey is the biggest threat," he told WND in an interview. "Turkey is the strongest military power in the region, and it`s the second largest army in NATO. The statements coming out of Turkey should be of great concern to Americans."

"Erdogan is saying 1.5 billion Muslims are waiting for the Turkish government to arise. This is pretty scary. Turkey rules only 70 million people so why are they talking about 1.5 billion Muslims?" continued Shoebat, who has written "For God or For Tyranny: When Nations Deny God`s Natural Law" as well as "God`s War on Terror."

About 98 percent of Turkey`s estimated 74 million people are Muslim.

"Erdogan has made the statements, and he`s impacting a youth movement in Turkey that is calling for the glory days of the Turkish rule through the Caliphate. Let`s not forget the history," he said.

"It was Turkey that lost the power of Islam when the Caliphate was dismantled and Shariah law was no longer the law of the land," Shoebat said.

At the end of World War I, Mustafa Kemal, who became Kemal Ataturk, dissolved the Ottoman Empire and moved to form a secular Turkish state.

"The youth movement believes that Turkey is the hub from which Islam must rise again," Shoebat said. "We need to look at Turkish activities to see the danger.

"It is the political agenda of these [Islamic] governments that we need to be aware of and not just the military apparatuses," Shoebat said.

He said the creation of the worldwide Muslim Brotherhood – and all the terror it sponsors – was spawned by the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire.

"In 1924, the Caliphate was dismantled by the West, and this is why Muslims hate the West. Americans don`t understand why Muslims hate us so much. In 1928, four years later, the Muslim Brotherhood was born. This is the umbrella of all the Muslim terrorist organizations," he said.

"The Muslim Brotherhood is the mother, and it was established four years after the dissolution of the Turkish Ottoman Empire. This really answers the whole question when people ask about the roots of Islamic terrorism," he said.

"They ask if it`s because we invaded Iraq or because Israel occupies their territory. That`s not true, because in 1928, there was no occupation of Iraq, and there was no occupation of `Palestine.` This Islamic movement has never ceased to attempt to establish a Shariah hegemony in that region," he said.

So what`s going on at this point?

"So we see now the metastasizing of the Muslim Brotherhood into all parts of the Muslim world from Algeria to Syria to Lebanon to Egypt everywhere, even in the United States of America," Shoebat said.

"All the Islamic organizations in the United States of America, no exception, are branches of the Muslim Brotherhood and they have made their declarations of their plans publicly. So, we have ample evidence to recognize that this is an old threat, this is an old war," he said.

A recent crisis confronted Turkey when a number of top army commanders were arrested after being accused of plotting to bomb mosques and overthrow the "increasingly Islamic-oriented" government.

The army commanders reportedly feared a growing fundamental Islamic influence across the country.

Shoebat also warned it is dangerous for freedom-loving interests to announce a date for a coalition pullout of Iraq.

"If we create that vacuum, and in the Middle East vacuums are always filled up, this vacuum, I guarantee you, will be filled by Iran. They see the writing on the wall that America is going to pull out. `Just be patient and lay low. We move in and we take that country in the future,`" Shoebat said.

He said if that happens, Islamic interests will have the region "all the way to the border of Israel."

"Iran is definitely working on a nuclear weapon and we definitely need to have a presence in the region to keep Iran at bay," Shoebat said.

There have been reports of increasing Shariah-related violence within Turkey. Agence France-Presse reported just weeks ago how a 16-year-old girl was buried alive by relatives in a gruesome honor killing just because she reportedly befriended boys.

Police reported finding the body of Medine Memi in a hole outside her house in Kahta about six weeks after she disappeared. Authorities reported her father and grandfather were arrested.

Shoebat now lives in the U.S. with his family, but keeps his location secret for protection. He`s spoken at Harvard, Columbia, Concordia, UCLA, USC, the University of Georgia, Washington University, Penn State and other universities. Media outlets worldwide have reported on his life`s work.

March 12, 2010
Federal Appeals Court in California Upholds `Under God` in Pledge of Allegiance

(AP) A federal appeals court in San Francisco upheld the use of the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance and "In God We Trust" on U.S. currency, rejecting arguments on Thursday that the phrases violate the separation of church and state.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel rejected two legal challenges by Sacramento atheist Michael Newdow, who claimed the references to God disrespect his religious beliefs.

"The Pledge is constitutional," Judge Carlos Bea wrote for the majority in the 2-1 ruling. "The Pledge of Allegiance serves to unite our vast nation through the proud recitation of some of the ideals upon which our Republic was founded."

The same court ruled in Newdow`s favor in 2002 after he sued his daughter`s school district for having students recite the pledge at school.

That lawsuit reached the U.S. Supreme Court in 2004, but the high court ruled that Newdow lacked the legal standing to file the suit because he didn`t have custody of his daughter, on whose behalf he brought the case.

So Newdow, who is a doctor and lawyer, filed an identical challenge on behalf of other parents who objected to the recitation of the pledge at school. In 2005, a federal judge in Sacramento decided in Newdow`s favor, ruling that the pledge was unconstitutional.

"I want to be treated equally," Newdow said when he argued the case before the 9th Circuit in December 2007. He added that supporters of the phrase "want to have their religious views espoused by the government."

In a separate 3-0 ruling Thursday, the appeals court upheld the inscription of the national motto "In God We Trust" on coins and currency, saying that the phrase is ceremonial and patriotic, not religious.

Reached on his cell phone, Newdow said he hadn`t been aware that the appeals court had ruled against him Thursday.

"Oh man, what a bummer," he said.

Newdow said he would comment further after he had read the decisions.

March 12, 2010
Poll: Majority of Americans Believe Their Kids` Textbooks Place Political Correctness Above Accuracy

(CNSNews)  A new Rasmussen Poll shows that 60 percent of Americans with children in elementary schools say most school textbooks are more concerned with presenting information in a politically correct manner than in accuracy.
 
In a national survey conducted March 6-7, 1,000 adults were asked: “Are most school textbooks more concerned about accurately providing information or about presenting information in a politically correct manner?”
 
Only 28 percent thought textbooks were more concerned with presenting information accurately.
 
Among all Americans polled, even those without children, the same percentage -- 28 percent – said they believe that accuracy is paramount, while 55 percent disagreed and said most textbooks are more concerned about political correctness. Eighteen percent of those polled were undecided.
 
Only 31 percent of the adults polled said most school history textbooks portray American history accurately, while 43 percent said they believe that most of their children’s history books are inaccurate. Twenty-six (26) percent are not sure.
 
Those with children in elementary schools were even more hesitant in their support -- only 28 percent said they believe that school textbooks portray U.S. history accurately, while almost half (49 percent) say textbooks do not accurately portray history. Twenty-eight percent (28 percent) were not sure.
 
When asked who should have the final say on the material presented within textbooks given to children -- the federal government, state government, local government, teachers or parents -- 34 percent said that teachers should, while 24 percent said that parents should have the final say. Fifteen percent (15 percent) were in favor of leaving the decision on textbooks to local government, while 9 percent believe that either the federal or state governments should decide.
 
Among those with children in school, 28 percent believe teachers should say what goes into the textbooks. Only 21 percent believe that decision should be made by the parents.
 
When asked if parents should be able to transfer their children to another school if they disagreed with the material presented at their current schools, 61 percent said that should be allowed, while 27 percent disagreed, and 12 percent said they were not sure.

March 12, 2010
Expelling Christians

(WorldMag)  Earlier this week Moroccan authorities informed an orphanage’s staff that they had just hours to leave the country, forcing them to say goodbye to 33 children they’d cared for as parents. In February, police officers raided a home Bible study and detained Christians for 24 hours. The Moroccan government suddenly has toughened its stance on Christian foreigners, accusing them of proselytizing and expelling them from the country. Mission organizations say the persecution is unexpected.

While the exact number is still unknown, Bob Blincoe—U.S. director of the missionary organization Frontiers—said that up to 40 foreign Christians were reportedly expelled from the country. “We did not expect this,” he said.

The Kingdom of Morocco is a Muslim country, and while it allows Christians to live openly, it does not allow them to proselytize. There have been a few isolated incidents of persecution over the years, but the king of Morocco, Mohammed VI, is receptive toward Americans and professes a message of human rights.

On Feb. 4, some 60 police officers raided a home Bible study in a village near Marrakech, reported Todd Nettleton, director of media development for Voice of the Martyrs. Police arrested everyone present and detained even infants in the group for 24 hours, interrogating the Christians about their religious activities. According to Nettleton, the government deported the one foreigner and let everyone else go, confiscating all Bibles, a laptop, a digital camera, and a cell phone. The police made it clear that this was not a local push. “This was coming down from the highest levels of government,” Nettleton said.

A similar raid occurred in March 2009, when authorities entered a Christian apartment, expelling five foreigners and interrogating 12 others, reportedly mocking them for their Christian beliefs and confiscating their Bibles, books, cell phones, and computers. This week the persecution continued when police came to the Village of Hope orphanage to interview children and collect documentation, forcing the foreign-born staff to leave by Monday.

The Maghreb Arab Press, the state-controlled press agency, quoted government spokesman Khalid Naciri, who said the expelled staff were illegally proselytizing. He claimed that the orphanage was simply a charity front for missionaries to exploit poor people and innocent children for proselytization purposes.

Ironically, the U.S. State Department released Thursday its report on human rights in Morocco for 2009. The report said that voluntary conversion was allowed, that non-Muslims could practice their faith openly with “varying official restrictions,” and that missionaries who followed “cultural norms worked largely unhindered.” The government allowed the sale of Bibles, although not the distribution of Christian religious materials for proselytism. Nettleton points out that the line between practice and proselytism is blurry: “At what level does practice become proselytism? If you have a meeting in your house and you invite your neighbors, is that simply practicing your faith or is that proselytism?”

Blincoe called it an opportunity for the Moroccan government to fulfill its commitment to international human rights: “The Moroccan government right now is actually on trial.”

Janine Bean, director of Compassion Corps, worked with the Village of Hope staff in Morocco and said the orphanage employed teachers, carpenters, and cooks from the surrounding community: “I can imagine that the Moroccan people there are devastated as well. They’ve come to love the Village of Hope family.”

March 11, 2010
Chief Justice Roberts Calls Scene at State of Union Speech ‘Very Troubling’

(AP)  U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts said Tuesday the scene at President Barack Obama`s first State of the Union address was "very troubling" and that the annual speech to Congress has "degenerated into a political pep rally."
 
Responding to a University of Alabama law student`s question about the Senate`s method of confirming justices, Roberts said senators improperly try to make political points by asking questions they know nominees can`t answer because of judicial ethics rules.
 
"I think the process is broken down," he said.
 
Obama chided the court for its campaign finance decision during the January address, with six of the court`s nine justices seated before him in their black robes.
 
Roberts said he wonders whether justices should attend the address.
 
"To the extent the State of the Union has degenerated into a political pep rally, I`m not sure why we`re there," said Roberts, a Republican nominee who joined the court in 2005.
 
Roberts said anyone is free to criticize the court and that some have an obligation to do so because of their positions.
 
"So I have no problems with that," he said. "On the other hand, there is the issue of the setting, the circumstances and the decorum. The image of having the members of one branch of government standing up, literally surrounding the Supreme Court, cheering and hollering while the court -- according the requirements of protocol -- has to sit there expressionless, I think is very troubling."
 
Breaking from tradition, Obama used the speech to criticize the court`s decision that allows corporations and unions to freely spend money to run political ads for or against specific candidates.
 
"With all due deference to the separation of powers, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests -- including foreign corporations -- to spend without limit in our elections," Obama said.
 
Justice Samuel Alito was the only justice to respond at the time, shaking his head and appearing to mouth the words "not true" as Obama continued.
 
In response to Roberts` remarks Tuesday, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs focused on the court`s decision and not the chief justice`s point about the time and place for criticism of the court.
 
"What is troubling is that this decision opened the floodgates for corporations and special interests to pour money into elections -- drowning out the voices of average Americans," Gibbs said. "The president has long been committed to reducing the undue influence of special interests and their lobbyists over government. That is why he spoke out to condemn the decision and is working with Congress on a legislative response."
 
Justice Antonin Scalia once said he no longer goes to the annual speech because the justices "sit there like bumps on a log" in an otherwise highly partisan atmosphere.
 
Roberts opened his appearance in Alabama with a 30-minute lecture on the history of the Supreme Court and became animated as he answered students` questions. He joked about a recent rumor that he was stepping down from the court and said he didn`t know he wanted to be a lawyer until he was in law school.
 
While Associate Justice Clarence Thomas told students at Alabama last fall he saw little value in oral arguments before the court, Roberts disagreed.
 
"Maybe it`s because I participated in it a lot as a lawyer," Roberts said. "I`d hate to think it didn`t matter."

March 10, 2010
Silver bullet from U.S. state kills ‘mandatory’ Obamacare

(WorldNetDaily)  At least 36 state legislatures are considering legislation that would allow citizens to opt out of a key component of President Obama`s health-care "reform" – an "individual mandate" requiring that all Americans have health insurance.

Both the House and Senate health-care bills require Americans to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty. The House bill establishes a fine based on percentage of a person`s income, while the Senate version creates a penalty as a flat fee or percentage of income, whichever is higher. Those refusing to get insurance could be found guilty of a misdemeanor crime, punishable by another fine or even jail time.

"The president`s proposal adopts the Senate approach but lowers the flat dollar assessments, and raises the percent of income assessment that individuals pay if they choose not to become insured," a White House plan released in February states.

States rejecting `individual mandate`

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, formal resolutions or bills have been filed in opposition to the individual mandate in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Also, as of March 4, Virginia became the first state to enact a new statute section titled, "Health insurance coverage not required." In Arizona, voters will cast ballots on a constitutional amendment in November 2010 that would "preserve the freedom of all residents of the state to provide for their own health care."

Lawmakers suggest approval of the legislation may spark a legal battle over states` rights versus the federal government`s reach of power. The Boston Globe reported the measures could set the stage for "one of the greatest tests of federal power over the states since the civil rights era."

"The administration is trying to shift from a government by social compact, agreement between elected officials and citizens, to a government where the leaders tell the subjects what to do," Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall, chief sponsor of the measure in his state, told the Globe. "That is not what the American Revolution was about."

The American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, has sparked nationwide interest with its model "Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act: How Your State Can Block Single-Payer and Protect Patients` Rights." ALEC warns that forcing patients to enroll in one-size-fits-all plans would cause massive increases in spending and force policymakers to ration care as a cost-containment measure.

Is mandatory insurance constitutional?

Minnesota State Rep. Tom Emmer told the New York Times in September 2009 that lawmakers in his state have proposed a state constitutional amendment to protect citizens from government interference in their private health decisions.

"All I`m trying to do is protect the individual`s right to make health-care decisions," Emmer said. "I just don`t want the government getting between my decisions with my doctors."

He said an amendment wouldn`t prohibit anyone from participating in a federal health program. It would simply prevent them from being forced to enroll.

"[T]ell me where in the U.S. Constitution it says the federal government has the right to provide health care," Emmer said. "This is the essence of the debate."

During the Democratic presidential primary, Obama took a jab at Hillary Clinton over the individual mandate.

"The main difference between my plan and Sen. Clinton`s plan," he said, "is that she`d require the government to force you to buy health insurance and she said she`d `go after` your wages if you don`t."

A
ccording to the Congressional Budget Office, or CBO, the federal government has never mandated that Americans purchase any good or service. In 1994, the CBO studied the individual mandate in Clinton`s universal health-care plan and found that it was an unprecedented requirement.

"A mandate requiring all individuals to purchase health insurance would be an unprecedented form of federal action," the CBO report stated. "The government has never required people to buy any good or service as a condition of lawful residence in the United States. An individual mandate would have two features that, in combination, would make it unique. First, it would impose a duty on individuals as members of society. Second, it would require people to purchase a specific service that would be heavily regulated by the federal government."

Opponents say the individual mandate is unconstitutional because the Constitution doesn`t grant the federal government power to fine citizens for refusing to purchase goods and services. Ken Klukowski, senior legal analyst with the American Civil Rights Union, explained in a Politico commentary why there is no constitutional basis for the individual mandate.

"People who decline coverage are not receiving federal money, so that mandate can`t fall under the spending part of the Tax and Spending Clause," he wrote.

Article I of the Constitution authorizes excise and capitation taxes

, and the 16th Amendment created the income tax. However, Klukowski contends that government health insurance cannot be considered an excise, capitation or income tax.

"It can`t be an excise tax because that`s a surcharge on a purchase, and here people are not buying anything," he explained. "It can`t be a capitation (or `direct`) tax because that is a tax on every person in a state and must be equal for every person in the state; this would be a levy that some people would pay and others would not. And it can`t be an income tax because that must be based on personal income, not purchase decisions."

He added, "All that`s left is the Commerce Clause. And the people who declined to purchase government-mandated insurance would not be engaging in commercial activity, so there`s no interstate commerce. That, in fact, is the government`s problem with them: Those people refuse to take the money or play the game."

Likewise, the Congressional Research Service recently reported that determining whether an individual mandate is constitutional under the Commerce Clause "is perhaps the most challenging question posed by such a proposal, as it is a novel issue whether Congress may use this clause to require an individual to purchase a good or service."

Klukowski wrote that if Obama wants a plan that forces Americans to purchase insurance, he will need to "persuade the nation to adopt a constitutional amendment creating a right to health care."

He added, "You might have better odds of getting struck by lightning."

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and outspoken critic of the individual mandate, told CNS News that if Congress can force Americans to buy health care, or mandate the purchase of anything, "we`ve lost our freedoms, and that means the federal government can do anything it wants to do to us."

March 10, 2010
ID Card for Workers at Center of Immigration Plan

(Wall Street Journal)  Under a potentially controversial plan still taking shape in the Senate, all legal U.S. workers, including citizens and immigrants, would be issued an ID card with embedded information.

Lawmakers working to craft a new comprehensive immigration bill have settled on a way to prevent employers from hiring illegal immigrants: a national biometric identification card all American workers would eventually be required to obtain.

Under the potentially controversial plan still taking shape in the Senate, all legal U.S. workers, including citizens and immigrants, would be issued an ID card with embedded information, such as fingerprints, to tie the card to the worker.

The ID card plan is one of several steps advocates of an immigration overhaul are taking to address concerns that have defeated similar bills in the past.

The uphill effort to pass a bill is being led by Sens. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), who plan to meet with President Barack Obama as soon as this week to update him on their work. An administration official said the White House had no position on the biometric card.

"It`s the nub of solving the immigration dilemma politically speaking," Schumer said in an interview. The card, he said, would directly answer concerns that after legislation is signed, another wave of illegal immigrants would arrive. "If you say they can`t get a job when they come here, you`ll stop it."

The biggest objections to the biometric cards may come from privacy advocates, who fear they would become de facto national ID cards that enable the government to track citizens.

"It is fundamentally a massive invasion of people`s privacy," said Chris Calabrese, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union. "We`re not only talking about fingerprinting every American, treating ordinary Americans like criminals in order to work. We`re also talking about a card that would quickly spread from work to voting to travel to pretty much every aspect of American life that requires identification."

March 10, 2010
Obama 9th Circuit Nominee: Constitution Must Adapt to Changes in the World

(FoxNews)  Even his critics describe him as "brilliant," but President Obama`s newly minted judicial nominee -- law professor Goodwin Liu -- will not have an easy time getting to the 9th Circuit bench. 

At age 39, Liu has compiled an impressive resume: Rhodes Scholar, Supreme Court clerk, top grades at both Stanford University and Yale Law School and now law professor University of California, Berkeley. 

Liu has also aligned himself with progressive legal groups, including the American Constitution Society, where he is chairman of the board of directors. That`s prompting opponents to argue that Liu is "too far outside the mainstream" to take a seat on a court just one step below the Supreme Court of the United States.

"He believes the Constitution is something judges can manipulate to have it say what they think culture or evolving standards of decency requires of it in a given day," said the Senate Judiciary Committee`s top Republican Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. 

Ed Whelan, a one-time clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia and now president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, echoed those concerns.

"Liu believes that judges have the authority to impose their views ... using clever verbal camouflage to disguise what they`re doing."

Liu opponents point to a number of his writings, including a book he co-authored in 2009 called "Keeping Faith with the Constitution," in which the authors opine about their concept of judicial interpretation.

"Applications of constitutional text and principles must be open to adaptation and change ... as the conditions and norms of our society become ever more distant from those of the Founding generation." 

That theme -- that the Constitution`s text and principles must be adapted to changes in the world -- repeats throughout the book and raises eyebrows among conservatives.

Others who know Liu point to what he`s accomplished, starting as the son of Taiwanese immigrants who didn`t speak much English. 

"He embodies the American dream," said Doug Kendall, president of the progressive Constitutional Accountability Center (CAC). 

Kendall`s group does not make a decision about whether to officially support nominees until their confirmation process has concluded, but he is impressed by what he knows of Liu so far. 

Kendall said he believes Liu`s critics are wrongly portraying him as extreme. 

"If you look at Liu`s scholarship, he rejects both the conservative idea that judges should strictly construe the Constitution and the liberal idea that the Constitution is a living, breathing document," he said.

Liu is no stranger to Capitol Hill. He testified against the nomination of Justice Samuel Alito during Alito`s 2006 confirmation hearings. 

In a 2005 report Liu co-authored prior to his testimony, he wrote that Alito`s opinions "show a disturbing tendency to tolerate serious errors" and "reveal troubling perspectives on federalism, race, and due process of law." 

His testimony didn`t derail Alito but now Liu will face similar probing. Already, questions are being asked about whether the president`s is putting the young nominee on the fast track to the high court. 

Kendall said only time will tell whether Liu would be the right fit, but it`s possible he could be in the running if he is confirmed to and serves well at the 9th Circuit. However, that is a possibility that "concerns" Liu`s detractors, including Whelan. 

"That`s certainly an added factor that folks in the Senate need to take into account," he said.

March 10, 2010
GA homeless congregation serves others

(OneNewsNow)  Rescue Atlanta is a church that focuses on inner city residents and the homeless, and their approach is unique and effective.

About 85 percent of the congregation members are homeless, and the average Sunday usually begins with serving about 2,000 meals before worship service. Rescue Atlanta spokesperson Katie Rolls-Palmer tells OneNewsNow that teams of volunteers among the homeless not only handle numerous chores, they also tithe.

"Our people give; they give and they give," she assures. "We support, I believe it`s 18 or 19 missionaries...ourselves. Even though we are missionaries, we teach our people to give."

The church members have adopted children in Haiti and support an orphanage in Kenya, she continues -- and they also did some traveling to help in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

"They would just work for free and they would find people who had been scammed or struggling," Palmer explains. "And then when we had the flooding here in Georgia, our guys immediately were [saying], `Pastor Mel, when are we going? Pastor Mel, we`re ready, we`re ready.`"

Pastor Mel Rolls led crews of homeless to Austell, Georgia, to gut homes inundated by 12 feet of water and remove debris. People who had nothing were helping those who had lost everything. Rescue Atlanta operates on the edge financially, but Palmer reports that God has always provided.

March 10, 2010
Vote for marriage? You’re on a hit list

(WorldNetDaily)  A battle is set to begin in the U.S. Supreme Court, as backers of traditional marriage hope to fend off a law that would make their names and addresses public and, therefore, make them prime targets for homosexual activists intent on bullying them into silence.

The case calls into question whether voters have protected free speech and anonymity rights in signing petitions and ballot initiatives or whether states must release signatories` names and addresses as a matter of public record.

With reported cases of bullying, organized boycotts and threats of violence against the signers of traditional marriage initiatives in several states already – and homosexual activists pledging to make lists of signatories public and searchable online – lawyers at the American Center for Law and Justice are concerned that voters may grow fearful of reprisal should they sign a petition seeking to restrict marriage to one man and one woman. That fear, the ACLJ is arguing in a brief filed this week before the Court, is exactly the kind of political and voter intimidation that the Constitution should protect against.

"The right to secret ballot safeguards citizens from the historic evil of voter intimidation," the ACLJ brief argues. "Similarly, the right to anonymity in signing referendum petitions is no less essential in safeguarding signers from reprisal or intimidation."

As WND has reported, those who have dared to sign or vote for traditional marriage in state petitions and referendums have faced backlash. In Maine, homosexual activists targeted churches with IRS complaints, and following California`s passage of the controversial Proposition 8, supporters of the measure limiting marriage to one man and one woman were fired from their jobs, subjected to vandalism, bullied by angry mobs and threatened with violence.

Churches that rallied in support of Proposition 8 were targets of particular wrath on Internet sites and blogs:

"Burn their f---ing churches to the ground, and then tax the charred timbers," wrote "World O Jeff" on the JoeMyGod blogspot within hours of California officials declaring Proposition 8 had been approved.

On another site, Americablog, "scottinsf" wrote, "Trust me. I`ve got a big list of names of Mormons and Catholics that were big supporters of Prop 8. … As far as Mormons and Catholics … I warn them to watch their backs."

"If you`re planning a heterosexual wedding in California … be prepared for picketers. Designate someone to watch the parking lot … You`re going to have lots of unexpected expenses. Add $500 to your budget for security," stated another threat. "Be afraid. Be very afraid. We are everywhere."

"Californians have been shocked by the aggressiveness of radical homosexual activists," states Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, on the group`s website. "These tactics of fear and intimidation in retaliation for supporting a lawful ballot measure are completely unacceptable."

The current case before the Supreme Court has arisen over similar fears among voters in the state of Washington, but with ramifications that could affect the entire nation.

Last fall, 138,000 Washington voters petitioned to put on the ballot Referendum 71, which challenged the state`s recently expanded domestic-partnership law granting benefits to homosexual couples.

And while the measure failed in the general election, an organization called WhoSigned.org, along with its national partner KnowThyNeighbor.org, has asked for the names and addresses of the petition`s signatories under the state`s public-records act. The plan is to post them on a searchable website.

Protect Marriage Washington then sued to block release of the names, saying the state`s public disclosure law "chills free speech ... particularly when it is reasonably probable that those exercising their First Amendment rights would be subjected to threats and harassment."

The charges of potential harassment have long been dismissed by KnowThyNeighbor.org, which has already posted similar lists of names and addresses for four other states: Arkansas, Florida, Massachusetts and Oregon.

"Such claims are irresponsible, incendiary and totally untrue," wrote Aaron Toleos, co-director of KnowThyNeighbor.org, in 2007. "There is no organized plan to confront petition signers. In fact, we have never advocated for this and don`t think it`s constructive. No one is going to be knocking on random doors. It just doesn`t happen."

According to an article published in the Olympian, however, a spokesman for WhoSigned.org said he hoped posting the list of names "would lead to conversations between neighbors about the legislation" and that "the list would give gay rights advocates the opportunity to educate individuals."

Further, the ACLJ contends it is not necessary to prove intimidation is happening, as the issue is a matter of Constitutional protection of free speech and the political process. And now that the case – which was decided against traditional marriage supporters at the appellate level – has gone to the Supreme Court, the upcoming ruling could affect voters in all 50 states.

"The Supreme Court has an opportunity to correct a damaging decision that threatens the constitutional protections afforded to political speech," said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the ACLJ, in a statement. "The process of initiating legislation is constitutionally protected as well. To force petitioners who oppose controversial ballot measures to disclose their identities as well as personal information is not only wrong, but violates core political speech rights protected by the First Amendment."

"There is no meaningful distinction between signing a referendum petition and voting," the ACLJ brief explains. "Whether the citizen touches a screen, presses a lever or signs his name, he is participating in the political process – expressing his convictions on the political issue at hand. The right to secret ballot – `the hard-won right to vote one`s conscience without fear of retaliation,` McIntyre, 514 U.S. at 343, – is, of course, one of the most precious rights."

"Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority," the brief continues, quoting a 1995 Supreme Court case. "It thus exemplifies the purpose behind the Bill of Rights, and of the First Amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation – and their ideas from suppression – at the hand of an intolerant society."

Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed, the defendant in the case, told the Seattle Times that Washington is defending its public-disclosure law as a matter of government transparency: "We welcome an opportunity to go to the highest court in the land to defend Washington citizens` strong desire for transparency, openness and accountability in government, and the public`s belief that our state and local public documents must be available for public inspection."

Arguments before the court are scheduled for April, with a decision possible as soon as June.

"It is not surprising," Reed said, "that the Supreme Court would be intrigued by a nationally-watched case dealing with disclosure, First Amendment considerations and public discourse during the Internet era."

March 05, 2010
President will try to push through pro-abortion healthcare legislation

URGENT ALERT


Source: www.stoptheabortionmandate.com
Abortion industry lobbyists are rejoicing following the announcement that their allies in the White House and Congress plan to use the controversial reconciliation process as a last-ditch effort to ram through a health care reform bill that would mandate abortion coverage and government funding of abortion. 

The reconciliation process is being used to circumvent the need to get a two-thirds majority in the Senate to pass the bill — following the upset Senate election in Massachusetts which broke the 60-vote stronghold. 

Under this process, the House would be asked to pass the abortion-laden Senate health care bill (that does NOT include the widely supported Stupak language that bars government funding of abortion.) 

Then, both the House and Senate would vote for a companion reconciliation measure that would make changes in the first bill to gain the support of more Representatives and the White House. 

Only 51 votes would be needed to pass the additional reconciliation measure in the Senate. 

President Obama said yesterday, “this is where we’ve ended up,” and added that he looks forward “to signing this reform into law.” He indicated his desire to sign the abortion-laden health care bill by Easter — just a few weeks from now! 

This is the BIG ONE. Everything we’ve been working for comes down to this moment. 

The current health care reform proposal … 

–> Includes government funding of abortion 

–> Imposes a brand-new “abortion fee” on taxpayers 

–> Directs $11 BILLION in new funding to groups like Planned Parenthood — the nation’s largest abortion chain that took in over $349,000,000 in tax funding last year while aborting 305,310 babies 

 –> Would result in the largest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade

If ever there was a time for every pro-life American to let their voice be heard, that time is NOW. 

Click here to find out what you — and everyone you know — needs to do

March 10, 2010
High School Welcomes Gay Speakers, but Rejects HIV-Positive Christian

(Pacific Justice Institute)  A Bay Area high school that attracted controversy last year for its "Days of Diversity" program is again welcoming pro-gay speakers this week. But the school has rejected a request by a student Christian club to host an HIV-positive speaker whose experience with homosexuality proved to be life-threatening.

Castro Valley High School sparked controversy last year by hosting several questionable presenters, including Rev. Arlene K Nehring, a lesbian minister who talked to students in math and science classes about her gay wedding, encouraged them to "come out" to God, their families and themselves, and invited them to a gay prom at her church. Because of the religious overtones in past and pending presentations, students in the Revelation Club were surprised when the school rejected their request to host Christopher Yuan because of "separation of church and state." Mr. Yuan is HIV-positive and had been invited by the students to speak on the topic "Christian, Gay, and Celibate." In addition, it appears that the school has blocked links relating to Mr. Yuan, though continuing to allow access to gay websites.

Attorneys for Pacific Justice Institute sent a letter to the high school late last week, demanding that CVHS drop its illegal viewpoint discrimination. PJI Chief Counsel Kevin Snider commented, "It has become clear that Castor Valley High School is seeking to silence the student club and Mr. Yuan because his experiences with homosexuality were not positive, and he encourages celibacy.  The school`s favoritism toward some religious and political viewpoints, and disfavor toward other positions, is blatantly unconstitutional."

Vika Mukha, president of the Revelation Club at CVHS, commented, "I support respect and diversity for all people, but it must be true diversity in which all people are given a voice. If only one side is heard, that is indoctrination, not education. I hope CVHS respects these principles by allowing ex-gays to have a voice at Days of Diversity and allowing our Christian club to invite speakers of our choice."

March 05, 2010
Ultrasound Coupon Saves Baby`s Life

(40DaysforLife)  Last week, we reported on a young mother in Louisville, Kentucky who chose life for her baby after redeeming a coupon for a free ultrasound. That story struck a chord with the 40 Days for Life team in Southfield, Michigan.

The Southfield team tried the same idea ... and it worked!

Howard, one of the prayer volunteers, showed his "free ultrasound" coupon to women who were approaching the abortion facility. One woman took the coupon - she seemed quite excited to get it - but then walked into the building.

She came out ten minutes later - and told the volunteers that while she was inside the abortion center, she had called the pro-life pregnancy resource center to ask about the free ultrasound.

They left the abortion facility immediately. "We did the ultrasound and had everyone crying tears of joy," said Mike, the 40 Days for Life coordinator in Southfield. "The baby` mother was so overjoyed to see her baby. Praise God!"

A verbal offer of a free ultrasound is certainly good; it appears, though, that the "free coupon" idea makes it seem more real. And besides, everybody likes to get a good deal with a coupon!

Ultrasound also helped save a life in Bakersfield, California. Of course, the prayer vigil in front of the abortion center had a lot to do with it as well.

40 Days for Life volunteers spoke to a 17-year-old and her mother as they arrived for the teen`s abortion appointment. The girl said she was the youngest of five children and she did not want to disappoint her father.

Tim in Bakersfield said both the girl and her mother seemed to have very hard hearts. Although they listened for several minutes, "they seemed to have no change in their attitude." But when they were about to walk into the building, someone approached the girl and said, "Don`t be afraid - trust in God."

When she heard this, tears began rolling down her cheeks. But her mother remained firm.

So the prayer team quickly made arrangements for an ultrasound. As the girl`s mother watched the perfectly formed body of her grandchild on the ultrasound screen, "she began to cry," Tim said. "The baby`s tiny feet and hands were clearly visible on the screen, and the baby even waved at his mother and grandmother!"

Did the baby wave? See for yourself in the actual ultrasound here!

This is most definitely the image of a very young human being. And that fact was immediately evident to both mother and grandmother.

Please pray that more pro-life centers will have greater access to this amazing, life-saving technology!

March 05, 2010
Iranian Pastor Has Visible Marks of Torture, Says Wife

(Christian Post)  An Iranian evangelical pastor who was suddenly arrested and then imprisoned has visible marks of torture, his wife said after she visited him.

Pastor Wilson Issavi of the Assyrian Evangelical Church in Kermanshah, a remote city in western Iran, is living in dreadful condition and appears to have been tortured while in prison, his wife Medline Nazanin told reporters and human rights activists in Iran, according to Farsi Christian News Network.

Nazanin also said intelligence officials told her that her husband is “awaiting his trial and his death sentence,” reported FCNN on Thursday. Issavi is accused of converting Muslims to Christianity and performing their baptisms.

Issavi was arrested by security agents on Feb. 2 while visiting a friend’s house in the central city of Isfahan. For weeks, the pastor’s family had no information on where he was located. But recently, his wife was allowed to visit him – the only time she has seen her husband since he was arrested. Issavi is held in an unmarked prison, his wife said.

The Assyrian Evangelical Church in Kermanshah, which Issavi oversees, is one of the oldest churches in the city. The church has been shut down and parishioners are reportedly under government surveillance.

Those who know Issavi describe him as low-keyed, meek and humble.

Authorities had raided his home in January and shut down his church, but the pastor requested that FCNN not report the news because he was afraid officials would crack down on the church members even more. He tried to quietly negotiate with local officials to reach a compromise. An FCNN news correspondent said the pastor tried to respect the law even though it is oppressive towards religious minorities.

In addition to the persecution of Pastor Issavi, Iranian intelligence agents recently also raided the home of Hamid Shafiee and his wife, Reyhaneh Aghajari, two house church leaders in Isfahan. After the raid on Feb. 28, agents arrested the couple, took them to an unknown location, and confiscated books and CDs.

Several months ago, officials also shut down the Friday service of Iran’s largest official church. The Assemblies of God Church in Iran now only holds Sunday services.

March 05, 2010
UK Govt’ to Impose “Hate Registers” for British Children who Make Gay Comments

(LifeSiteNews.com)  Britain’s “surveillance culture” is about to take a step forward with the introduction of “hate registers” for children who use anti-homosexual epithets in and out of school.

Late last year, Schools minister Vernon Coaker said that as of September 2010 all schools will be legally required to report all “hate incidents” no matter how small, and keep records on offending children. Serious cases were to be reported to local councils.

At the time, the homosexualist group Stonewall welcomed the “proposed duty for schools to record and report all incidents of homophobic bullying.”

“Schools will need support, confidence and training to identify and tackle homophobic bullying, as well as prevent it from happening, and we look forward to working through our Education Champions programme to help provide this.”

The plans include lessons for children on “transphobic” bullying as part of the upcoming sex-education bill.

It is now revealed that plans include a database of incidents to be kept by the local authorities and made available to ministers to inform future anti-bullying campaigns. These “hate registers” will include incidents involving children as young as five.

A spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said, “Schools should take a common-sense approach to dealing with alleged racist or homophobic incidents by pupils.

“If a young child uses a slur, it should be judged whether or not they understand the meaning of the word and should be told why these words are hurtful as well as being appropriately disciplined.
If bullying is not dealt with in schools, then this will send a powerful message to children that discrimination is acceptable not only in schools but in society as a whole.”

But common sense has been notably lacking among British authorities in the application of “equalities” rules in recent years, and Christian and children’s rights groups are alarmed at the prospect of children being under constant scrutiny and threat.

The Daily Mail editorial comment page said, “Racism and homophobia are wrong. But these registers are a monstrous overreaction. They are a negation of common sense and a victory for the lunacy of political correctness.”

The Mail notes the case of one boy who has already been placed on such a registry for calling another pupil a “gay boy.” The mother of ten year-old Peter Drury, of Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, was told that her son’s name would be placed on a register and permanent school record following a complaint about the comment by another student.

Penny Drury told the Daily Mail, “He doesn’t even understand about the birds and the bees, so how can he be homophobic?

“Peter is a very naive boy who didn’t know what he was doing and is now very upset as he is now in trouble. It doesn’t mean he is going to turn into a homophobic attacker when he is older. He must have picked up the word from somewhere and thought it to mean stupid.”

Michele Elliott of the children’s charity Kidscape told the Daily Express, “Children are being criminalized and singled out from a very early age when they don’t know what they’re doing.”

March 05, 2010
Body scanners are headed to 11 major airports
(USA Today)  Eleven major airports will begin using body scanners to screen passengers as the Transportation Security Administration launches a plan to buy 1,000 of the machines over the next two years.

The scanners can look under passengers` clothing in order to detect weapons and explosives.

 

Boston Logan International Airport received one new scanner this week and will get two more next week. All will go into the same terminal. Among the other airports getting the scanners are Los Angeles International, Chicago O`Hare and Charlotte Douglas International.

The Transportation Security Administration bought 150 scanners in September using $25 million from the federal stimulus package. It plans to buy 300 more this year and 500 next year. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano ordered the installation accelerated after the failed Christmas Day bombing attempt of an airliner over Detroit.

The scanners, made by California-based Rapiscan, are 9 feet long and 6½ feet wide, much larger than metal detectors. Airport screeners view images from the machines in a nearby closed room.

Some airport officials have expressed worry because the scanners are larger and slower than metal detectors. "That`s a big concern," Ed Freni, aviation director at Logan airport, said of the slower speed. "We have to monitor it very closely because if it slows things, we`re going to have to adjust."

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport operations director Mike Nonnemacher said he learned Tuesday from the TSA that the airport would be getting an unspecified number of the scanners. "We`ll do what we have to to make the space available for these machines," Nonnemacher said.

About half of nearly 40 airports that answered a survey last month by the Airports Council International said their security checkpoints are too small to handle the machines, according to Christopher Bidwell, the council`s security chief.

The new scanners will bring the total number of airports with the machines to 29. That includes 17 of the nation`s 30 largest airports.

Airports with scanners will continue to use metal detectors, both as an alternative for passengers who want to avoid the machines and in checkpoints without the scanners. Passengers who opt to skip a scanner will go through a metal detector and be hand-searched by a screener.

Officials at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport are not worried about the TSA plan, airport spokeswoman Barb Schempf said. The airport recently finished a new checkpoint. "It was constructed in anticipation of this type of equipment being installed," Schempf said. "We`re probably in a better position than most."

March 05, 2010
Atheist Group: Trade Your Bibles in for Porn

(Christian Post)  A campus atheist group began its attention-seeking holy book-for-porn program on Monday at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

For three days, members of Atheist Agenda will give students pornographic magazines in exchange for any religious texts as part of their annual “Smut for Smut” campaign. Leaders of the atheist group argue that religious books contain violence, spark religious wars, advocate for the mistreatment of women and are therefore no better than pornography.

“It`s a First Amendment right,” said Bradley Lewis, 18, who plans to join the Atheist Agenda, according to the San Antonio Express-News. “If religious groups can put out missionaries and go knock on my door and wake me up at 7 a.m. on a Saturday morning, I can put a table outside of the college.”

As expected, the group’s actio

(Christian Post)  A campus atheist group began its attention-seeking holy book-for-porn program on Monday at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

For three days, members of Atheist Agenda will give students pornographic magazines in exchange for any religious texts as part of their annual “Smut for Smut” campaign. Leaders of the atheist group argue that religious books contain violence, spark religious wars, advocate for the mistreatment of women and are therefore no better than pornography.

n has offended religious students. A group of Christians gathered to protest the event and in the afternoon a Christian student debated the Atheist Agenda president, Carlos Morales.

The event attracted hundreds of students to the university’s main plaza Monday. Some of the students were seen carrying signs with messages such as, “Jesus Saves” and “Jesus loves the Atheist Agenda,” while others sang hymns, according to the UTSA student newspaper The Paisano.

Robin Lorkovic, 18, who held the sign, “God Loves You! Keep your Bible and learn from it!,” said, “I don’t really feel like that is appropriate at all,” according to the Express-News.

“I am a Christian, I believe in God’s love and I am here to stand my ground and stand up for what I believe in.”

University officials admit that the atheist event is controversial and the majority of students do not agree with it. But they also said the event is legal and students have the right to freedom of speech and assembly.

“They (Atheist Agenda) admitted it’s a publicity stunt,” said Michelle Brossart, a UTSA student who is offended by the event, to The Paisano. “They want to evoke crazy emotions out of people because they want to make their agenda known."

“But only very, very few people are actually gaining anything from this,” she said.

Atheist Agenda began the “Smut for Smut” campaign at UTSA in 2005. The first campaign gained major media attention across the nation. Subsequent events have also attracted national coverage, but to a lesser extent.

March 05, 2010
NRLC: Vote for Health Bill `a Career-Defining Pro-abortion Vote`

(LifeSiteNews.com)  Lawmakers in the House who vote to swallow whole the massively abortion-expanding Senate health care bill should be prepared to have their record on life issues marred forever, warns Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the NRLC.

"When all of the pro-abortion provisions are considered in total, the Senate bill is the most pro-abortion single piece of legislation that has ever come to the House floor for a vote, since Roe v. Wade," Johnson said in a statement Friday. 

"Any House member who votes for the Senate health bill is casting a career-defining pro-abortion vote.  A House member who votes for the Senate bill would forfeit a plausible claim to pro-life credentials. 

"No House member who votes for the Senate bill will be regarded, in the future, as having a record against federal funding of abortion."

(Click here to read Johnson`s full statement.)

Johnson called the Senate health bill, which Democrat leaders are hoping will garner enough votes to pass unamended in the House of Representatives as early as March 19, "a 2,407-page labyrinth strewn with the legislative equivalents of improvised explosive devices -- disguised provisions that will result in federal pro-abortion mandates and federal subsidies for abortion." 

"The so-called abortion limits that are in the Senate bill are all very narrow, riddled with loopholes, or booby-trapped to expire," he explained. "Some of them were drafted more with the intent of misleading superficial analysts (which unfortunately includes some media `factcheckers`) than actually effectuating a pro-life policy."

Johnson also warned against trusting some Democrats who have vowed that they will present the House with a later piece of legislation that will "fix" representatives` grievances with the bill - but only after they have already passed the Senate bill.

"Some of the more recent utterances by Speaker Pelosi and other top House Democrats suggest that they have stumbled down some sort of rabbit hole into a fantasy world in which lawmakers can vote to enact the Senate bill without being accountable for its contents," said Johnson. 

For example, he said, "Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY) on March 3 suggested that the House should pass the Senate bill after receiving a `blood oath` from Democratic senators that they would later pass a specific list of changes to the bill."

"Lawmakers who are considering voting for the Senate bill based on a `blood oath` or any other promise should first call to mind the once-popular comic strip `Peanuts,`" said Johnson, "in which Lucy frequently teed up a football and enticed Charlie Brown to take a run at it, solemnly promising not to snatch the ball away at the last instant. 

"Charlie Brown inevitably ended up flat on his back wondering how he could have been once again so foolish."

Johnson concluded by providing a detailed list laying bare the major pro-life concerns with the Senate bill as it stands.

(Click here to read Johnson`s statement.)

March 05, 2010
Iraqi Christians Protest Killings

(Christian Post)  Hundreds of Iraqi Christians on Sunday protested against the recent flare up of violence against them in northern Iraq.

The largest demonstration was in the town of Hamdaniyah, about 25 miles east of Mosul. Protesters at the Hamdaniyah rally carried olive branches and were led by priests, including the second most senior Chaldean bishop, Shlemon Warduni, according to BBC.

Another protest took place in the capital, Baghdad, where demonstrators carried Iraqi flags and chanted, “Stop the killing of Christians.”

At least ten Iraqi Christians – also known as Assyrians, Chaldeans and Syriacs – have been killed by unknown gunmen in Mosul within the past two weeks. The victims included several Christian shop owners, college students, as well as an entire family of five.

The string of murders, which sends the message to Christians that they can be killed at anytime and anywhere, has caused a mass exodus of members of the community from Mosul. More than 680 Christian families, or over 4,000 people, have fled Mosul between February 20 and 27, according to a United Nations report.

Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday during his weekly blessing called on the international community to do “everything possible” to allow Iraqis to have a future of “reconciliation and justice.” The pope expressed his sadness at hearing news of the murders of Christians in Mosul and said he often prays for the victims.

“Today, I wish to unite myself spiritually to the prayer for peace and for the restoration of security, promoted by the Council of Bishops of Nineveh,” he said from his apartment window above St. Peter’s Square.

The pope also called on Iraqi authorities to make every effort to restore security and protect the vulnerable religious minorities.

He closed by sending a greeting to a group of Iraqis demonstrating in his presence at St. Peter’s Square.

Bishop Philip Najim, representative of the Chaldean Patriarchate to the Holy See, said, “We went to put an end, through the international community to these discriminations, these persecutions against the Christian communities in Iraq and the Middle East, especially the Middle East, and we want a peaceful life,” according to Catholic News Agency.

Najim was among the Iraqi protesters in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday.

The most recent series of killings in Mosul is similar to the one in 2008, when six Christians were killed in less than a week. The 2008 string of murders caused more than 15,000 Christians to flee Mosul over a period of two weeks.

In response to the latest murders, the Iraqi Christian community in Paris also organized a demonstration Monday.

March 05, 2010
Teacher wins major victory for God in school

Judge scolds district for trying to scrub America`s Christian heritage

(WorldNetDaily)  A federal judge in California has handed down a scathing ruling against a school that required one of its teachers to remove signs celebrating the role of God in American history from his classroom walls.

As WND reported, math teacher Bradley Johnson had banners hanging in his classroom at Westview High School in San Diego, Calif., for more than 17 years with phrases like "In God We Trust" and "All Men Are Created Equal, They Are Endowed by Their Creator," only to have the principal order them torn down during the 2007 school year.

But Johnson filed a lawsuit alleging the order a violation of his constitutional rights, and the teacher has now been rewarded with a court victory and a powerfully-worded ruling.

"May a school district censor a high school teacher`s expression because it refers to Judeo-Christian views, while allowing other teachers to express views on a number of controversial subjects, including religion and anti-religion?" posited U.S. District Court Judge Roger T. Benitez in his judgment. "On undisputed evidence, this court holds that it may not."

He continued, "That God places prominently in our nation`s history does not create an Establishment Clause violation requiring curettage and disinfectant for Johnson`s public high school classroom walls. It is a matter of historical fact that our institutions and government actors have in past and present times given place to a supreme God."

The judge further reprimanded the school, stating that while teachers at the district "encourage students to celebrate diversity and value thinking for one`s self, [they] apparently fear their students are incapable of dealing with diverse viewpoints that include God`s place in American history and culture."

The older of Johnson`s two signs, which had hung on his wall without complaint for 25 years, measured 7 feet by 2 feet and contained the words "In God We Trust," "One Nation Under God," "God Bless America" and "God Shed His Grace On Thee." The second banner, posted eight years after the first, quoted the Declaration of Independence by including the phrase, "All Men Are Created Equal, They Are Endowed by Their Creator."

Though the district permits other teachers to hang Buddhist, Islamic and Tibetan prayer messages on their classroom walls, Johnson was nonetheless told to take his banners down.

Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel for the Thomas More Law Center, a not-for-profit law firm

dedicated to the defense of religious freedoms, commented on the case.

"Many school officials exhibit hostility towards our nation`s Christian heritage. Yet, these same officials see no problem in actively promoting atheism or other religions under the guise of cultural diversity and tolerance," said Thompson, whose firm filed the lawsuit on Johnson`s behalf. "Hopefully, Judge Benitez`s decision will help put an end to this double standard. It is the responsibility of our public schools to educate students on the crucial role Christianity played in our nation`s founding."

The charge of a double standard was not lost on Judge Benitez.

"Fostering diversity," Benitez ruled, "does not mean bleaching out historical religious expression or mainstream morality. By squelching only Johnson`s patriotic and religious classroom banners, while permitting other diverse religious and anti-religious classroom displays, the school district does a disservice to the students of Westview High School, and the federal and state constitutions do not permit this one-sided censorship."

And in response to the school district`s claim that Johnson`s patriotic banners might make a Muslim student, for example, uncomfortable, Judge Benitez stated, "[A]n imaginary Islamic student is not entitled to a heckler`s veto on a teacher`s passive, popular or unpopular expression about God`s place in the history of the United States."

The ruling prompted Robert Muise, the Law

Center senior trial counsel handling the case, to comment, "It was refreshing to read an opinion that does justice to our nation`s history, rather than rewrite it."

The judge concluded in his ruling that Johnson was entitled to a declaration that the school violated his constitutional rights and ordered the district to pay nominal damages of $10 per defendant and Johnson`s attorney`s fees and costs. Benitez also ordered the school district to allow Johnson to immediately re-hang the signs.

The Law Center reports Johnson returned the displays to his classroom walls late last week, on the same day the ruling was handed down.

March 05, 2010
American reliance on government at all-time high

(Washington Times) The so-called "Great Recession" has left Americans depending on the government dole like never before.

Without record levels of welfare, unemployment and other government benefits as well as tax cuts last year, the income of U.S. households would have plunged by an astonishing $723 billion — more than four times the record $167 billion drop reported last month by the Commerce Department.

Moreover, for the first time since the Great Depression, Americans took more aid from the government than they paid in taxes.

The figures show the devastating results of the massive job losses last year and indicate that the economic recovery that began last summer is tenuous and has a long way to go before many Americans resume life as normal, analysts said.

Economic growth typically depends on consumer spending, which is fed by wages, rents, interest and other forms of income. But the tentative revival of consumer spending in the second half of last year appears to have been fed largely by an extraordinary flood of government spending, as growth in other kinds of income has disappeared.

"Governmental support was critical in keeping the economy, particularly consumer spending, from completely collapsing during the crisis," said Harm Bandholz, an economist at Unicredit Markets. He said he is concerned that so much of the economic rebound is a result of government spending rather than a revival of private income and jobs. That situation is unsustainable, he said, because the government has had to borrow massively to prop up the economy and cannot continue that binge for long.

March 05, 2010
Arson Suspects Grew Up Together in Texas Church

(Church Report)  Even as authorities closed in, one of the two suspects in a string of east Texas church fires attended a Sunday service and went to a Baptist ministry on his junior college campus for a free meal.

Such activity wasn`t unusual for 19-year-old Jason Robert Bourque, a former Eagle Scout and high school debate champion who grew up in a small church not far from 10 others that authorities believe have been set ablaze since Jan. 1.

But officials say they found weapons and books detailing atheism and devil worship during a pre-dawn raid at a home where Bourque was arrested Feb. 21. In a separate raid in San Antonio, authorities captured Daniel George McAllister, Bourque`s childhood friend from First Baptist Church in tiny Ben Wheeler.

Bourque and McAllister, 22, each face one count of felony arson for a fire at Dover Baptist Church near Tyler, about 90 miles east of Dallas. They are suspects in nine other church fires that were ruled arsons and three attempted church break-ins, according to court documents.

Both men are being held on $10 million bond. They could face life in prison if convicted.

Investigators say the motive for the fiery crime spree remains a mystery.

The young men`s former pastor described Bourque as an outgoing, inquisitive child who asked pointed questions about the Bible and was a whiz at memorizing passages. The Rev. Carlton Young recalled McAllister as a quiet and shy boy, nurtured by a mother who worked in the church nursery and home-schooled her son before she died several years ago.

"As a church and even the people in the community are just in grief," Young said. "There`s a lot of sorrow and concern for the 10 churches that have been burned. Then you put a face on it."

Young said he mostly lost touch with Bourque when the young man`s family moved about five years ago and rarely saw McAllister after his mother`s death.

About seven years ago, the boys sneaked into the church in the middle of the night, said Young, who lives next to the church and only knew about the incident because his wife saw the boys leave.

The pastor said the boys had rigged an emergency door earlier so it would open from the outside. He said nothing was stolen or vandalized, and he never reported the incident to authorities. He said he sees no connection between the fires and the incident, which he characterized as youthful mischief.

"It was two little junior high kids, you know, out doing their thing they shouldn`t be doing," Young said.

Bourque was under surveillance when he showed up for a free meal at Tyler Junior College`s Baptist Student Ministry four days before his arrest, ministry director Mark Jones said. The director said Bourque had been attending the weekly at least a few months, but he didn`t know much about him.

"I think it was a shock for my core students," Jones said. "Here`s this guy who walked among us that we interacted with that we had no idea of the darkness there or the struggle or the hurt."

Jones said Bourque was sometimes joined by McAllister, whose father told reporters his son had struggled to find a job in the past year but was upbeat after moving to San Antonio to join a girlfriend he planned to marry.

An arrest affidavit indicates that a family member took McAllister to the bus station for his trip to San Antonio two days after the fire the men are charged with setting.

Young said McAllister was traumatized by his mother`s death.

"She was sort of the anchor in Daniel`s life, and he lost that," the pastor said.

Family members of Bourque and McAllister declined to comment to The Associated Press. Attorneys for the men aren`t commenting, citing a judge`s gag order.

According to court records, authorities first contacted Bourque on Feb. 11 at his grandparents` upscale home in Lindale, the site of one of the fires. He was arrested 10 days later at his girlfriend`s mobile home in a rural area about 15 miles away.

During the intervening surveillance, authorities say, they observed Bourque entering a store bathroom a day before someone reported a carving on a bathroom stall that said "Little Hope was Arson," with an upside-down cross in flames under the wording.

It was an apparent reference to the first arson attack, which occurred Jan. 1 near Athens, about 40 miles southwest of Tyler. Authorities had listed the cause of that fire as undetermined until after the arrests.

On his Facebook page, Bourque joined a bonfire fan group that included hundreds of images of people watching bonfires. His social networking shows a cerebral side as well, quoting philosophers on his MySpace page.

At Van High School, he was a state debate champion.

A woman who knew Bourque in high school said his life apparently deteriorated the past two years. Whitney Faber said Bourque told her he had been kicked out of the University of Texas at Tyler last year, but he didn`t elaborate. She said Bourque seemed "very, very depressed" when she talked to him, the last of those conversations occurring several months ago.

Young, the pastor, said acquaintances told him in recent days they didn`t see that side of Bourque.

"They would see Jason in passing - `Hi. How are you? What`s going on?`" Young said. "Never thinking about anything like this going on."

March 05, 2010
Episcopal Clergy Permitted to Wed Gay Couples in D.C.

(Christian Post)  Episcopal clergy in Washington, D.C. have been given the green light to preside at same-sex marriages.

Bishop John Bryson Chane of the Diocese of Washington made the announcement Thursday, a day after gay and lesbian couples began applying for marriage licenses.

"Through the grace of Holy Baptism, there are no second class members of the Body of Christ, " Chane said in a statement. "We are of equal value in the eyes of God, and any one of us may be called by the Holy Spirit into holy relationships as well as Holy Orders."

Chane joins Episcopal bishops in other states – including Iowa, Vermont and Massachusetts where same-sex marriage is legal – in permitting clergy to wed homosexual couples.

The Episcopal Church approved a resolution last summer allowing "bishops, particularly those in dioceses within civil jurisdictions where same-gender marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships are legal" to "provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this church."

The resolution also noted the need to consider providing theological and liturgical resources for the blessing of same gender relationships. The Episcopal Church does not permit its "Order of Marriage" to be used in the marriage of same-sex couples.

The latest move by the Diocese of Washington marks a break with the rest of the worldwide Anglican Communion – of which The Episcopal Church is the U.S. branch. Anglican leaders have affirmed and reaffirmed a moratorium on the blessing of same-sex unions as well as the consecration of practicing homosexuals. The global body officially rejects homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture. At the same time, it calls Anglicans to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation.

Chane has cited the familiar Scripture passage on loving your neighbor as yourself as one of the reasons he felt "compelled" to offer the sacraments of the church to gay and lesbian couples.

He also contended, "[I]f one is fully initiated into the Body of Christ, the Church, then one has full access to all the sacraments of the Church, including marriage, ordination and consecration. Through the grace of Holy Baptism, there are no second class members of the Body of Christ, and certainly no outcasts. We are of equal value in the eyes of God, and any one of us may be called by the Holy Spirit into holy relationships as well as Holy Orders."

The Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009 was passed by the Washington D.C. City Council in December and signed by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty. Congress did not intervene to prevent the bill from becoming law on Wednesday. The U.S. Supreme Court also refused to intervene.

A group of ministers, including Bishop Harry Jackson, are pushing for a ballot initiative to try to overturn the act.

March 05, 2010
Christian Communicators Inspired to Engage, Transcend Secular Culture

(Christian Post)  Though critics of the long opposed, recently passed Matthew Shepard Act say the legislation could be used to prosecute broadcasters and pastors who preach homosexuality as sin, the world’s largest network of Christian communicators was impelled Saturday to stand firm, speak with a “holy boldness,” and proclaim with great confidence the message they’ve been called to deliver.

 “It will be a matter of great concern if our government can successfully force us to stop proclaiming the full counsel of God,” acknowledged Dr. Frank Wright, president and CEO of National Religious Broadcasters, at the opening session of the 67th NRB Convention & Exposition in Nashville.

“But when we put the shackles on our own arms, that is a matter of great sadness. That is a matter of great unbelief. Because if we don’t believe in the power of the gospel, what other power do we have available to us, especially those of us who have been called to proclaim it?” he added.

In front of the thousands gathered for the four-day gathering, Wright pointed to a number of examples in which prominent Christians chose not to respond to questions about their faith with the full message of the gospel but rather self-censored versions of it.

He shared about a well-known Christian broadcaster who appeared on CNN’s Larry King Live and was asked “Is Jesus the only way to Heaven?”

“Well, he’s the only way for me,” Wright recalled the unnamed broadcaster as saying.

In another example, Wright referred to a well-known pastor who was asked in an interview about the verse in which Jesus proclaimed himself to be “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” and how “no one comes to the Father except by me (Christ).”

“And this pastor, this well known pastor – if I named him, you would know the name immediately – said, ‘I don’t think it’s particularly helpful to preach that verse in our day,’” Wright recalled.

“[I]nstead of being constrained by the forces of legislation or regulation or even legal opposition, we’re in a place where broadcasters, where the Church, might begin to censor itself,” added Wright later.

Following Wright, convention attendees heard from author and teacher Del Tackett, who warned against the consequences of relativism, which he described as the “sand” upon which lives disintegrate – a reference to Jesus’ parable of wise and foolish builders.

“We must engage in the battle of great wisdom and grace. Speaking the truth is not an act of judgment. Speaking the truth is an act of compassion,” said the on-air personality for Coral Ridge Ministries.

“My prayer is that … we’ll begin to be the light and salt we were made to be, that we will engage our culture with the grace and compassion God has shown to us, that we would do so united in love so that the world will know that the Father has sent the Son, not for our glory, but for His alone,” he added.

Regarding how to engage today’s society while not compromising Christian values, Dr. Jim Garlow, senior pastor of Skyline Wesleyan Church in La Mesa, Calif., provided NRB Convention attendees with a model from the Bible that he has been looking at in recent times.

The prominent evangelical preacher began the opening session`s last message with a three-minute history lesson that started from 1607, when Bible-believing Christians were part of the establishment, and passed through seven stages before reaching to today – the first time in which the Church of Jesus Christ in North America can “legitimately” refer to itself as the persecuted Church.

Today, Garlow said, “we are citizens of Jerusalem but residents of Babylon.”

“Somebody moved the country. We didn’t go through a geographical change, but we are in exile in a nation called America,” he added.

So the problem today, according to the megachurch pastor, is that believers in America find themselves having to be prophetic to the same people they want to be evangelistic to.

“We have to say ‘No, stop it, that’s wrong, that will cause us all to self-destruct’ to the very same people who do not want to hear that and that we’re turning around and we want to have a relationship that they love us or trust us enough that we can share the gospel,” he said.

That said, Garlow presented attendees with a model on how to engage the society - the story of Daniel, as recorded in the Bible.

Garlow highlighted three steps that Daniel took that allowed him to engage the people, and even the king of Babylon, without compromising his identity.

Specifically, Garlow noted how Daniel learned the language of the Babylonian, learned the literature, and fasted.

For Christians today, that would entail knowing more than just “Christianese,” knowing the research that’s already out there in secular sources that backs up biblical truth, and doing what might be very uncomfortable – i.e. fasting and forming relationships with those who may seem far different from Christians in their beliefs an ideologies.

“They’re not nearly as hostile to us as I thought, but they do not understand us at all,” Garlow recalled being told by an evangelical who works at CBS when asked about what he’s learned in the secular news company.

“I challenge you to form relationships with those who you are most uncomfortable. Learn the language of the Babylonians. Learn the literature … that we can leverage from the world. And thirdly, saturate it in fast,” Garlow exhorted.

In concluding, Garlow reminded attendees that they are "spiritual warriors" in the midst of a war, and that they have all been “made for this moment.”

“If we don’t use carnal weapons but spiritual forces, this is a winnable war,” he concluded.

This year’s NRB Convention is being held at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, which will also be the site of the world’s largest gathering of Christian media professionals for the next three years. NRB 2010 concludes Tuesday.

March 05, 2010
Supreme Court scrutinizes state, local gun control

(AP) - Gun control advocates think, if not pray, they can win by losing when the Supreme Court decides whether the constitutional right to possess guns serves as a check on state and local regulation of firearms.

The justices will be deciding whether the Second Amendment - like much of the rest of the Bill of Rights - applies to states as well as the federal government. It`s widely believed they will say it does.

But even if the court strikes down handgun bans in Chicago and its suburb of Oak Park, Ill., that are at issue in the argument to be heard Tuesday, it could signal that less severe rules or limits on guns are permissible.

The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence is urging the court not to do anything that would prevent state and local governments "from enacting the reasonable laws they desire and need to protect their families and communities from gun violence."

By some estimates, about 90 million people in the U.S. own a total of some 200 million guns.

Roughly 30,000 people in the United States died each year from guns; more than half of them are suicides. An additional 70,000 are wounded.

The new lawsuits were begun almost immediately after the court`s blockbuster ruling in 2008 that struck down the District of Columbia`s handgun ban. In that case, the court ruled for the first time that individuals have a right keep guns for self-defense and other purposes. Because the nation`s capital is a federal enclave, that ruling applied only to federal laws.

The challenges to the Chicago area laws, which are strikingly similar to the Washington law, are part of an aggressive push by gun rights proponents in the courts and state legislatures.

Courts are considering many gun laws following the justice`s 2008 decision. Massachusetts` highest state court is examining the validity of a state law requiring gun owners to lock weapons in their homes.

Two federal appeals courts have raised questions about gun possession convictions of people who previously had been convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors. A suit in Washington challenges the capital`s ban on carrying loaded guns on public streets.

Lawmakers in several states are pushing for proposals favored by the National Rifle Association and other gun rights groups. The Virginia Legislature is considering repealing a law that limits handgun purchases to one a month. That law was enacted in 1993 because Virginia was the No. 1 supplier of guns used in crimes in other states. A separate proposal in Virginia would allow people with a concealed-weapon permit to take hidden guns into restaurants that sell alcohol, as long as those patrons don`t drink.

Chicago is defending its gun laws at the high court. Mayor Richard Daley said a ruling against his city would spawn even more suits nationwide and lead to more gun violence.

"How many more of our citizens must needlessly die because guns are too easily available in our society?" Daley said at a Washington news conference last week that also included the parents of a Chicago teenager who was shot on a bus as he headed home from school.

Annette Nance-Holt said her only child, 16-year-old Blair Holt, shielded his friend when a gang member boarded a bus and began shooting at rival gang members.

"You might ask, `What good is Chicago`s handgun law if so many of our young people are still being shot?`" Nance-Holt said. "All I can say is, imagine how many more would be if the law were not there."

Gun rights advocates say such killings should serve as reminders that handgun bans and other gun laws do nothing to protect people who obey the law.

Indeed, 76-year-old Otis McDonald said he joined the suit in Chicago because he wants a handgun at home to protect himself from gangs.

The thrust of the legal arguments in the case is over how the Supreme Court might apply the Second Amendment to states and cities.

In earlier cases applying parts of the Bill of Rights to the states, the court has done so by using the due process clause of the 14th Amendment, passed in the wake of the Civil War to ensure the rights of newly freed slaves.

The court also has relied on that same clause - "no state shall deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law" - in cases that established a woman`s right to an abortion and knocked down state laws against interracial marriage and gay sex.

This is the approach the NRA favors.

But many conservative and legal scholars - as well as the Chicago challengers - want the court to employ another part of the 14th amendment, forbidding a state to make or enforce any law "which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States."

They argue this clause was intended as a broad guarantee of the civil rights of the former slaves, but that a Supreme Court decision in 1873 effectively blocked its use.

Breathing new life into the "privileges or immunities" clause might allow for new arguments to shore up other rights, including abortion and property rights, these scholars say.

This approach might enable challenges to arcane state laws that limit economic competition, said Clark M. Neily III of the public interest law firm Institute for Justice. He pointed to a Louisiana law that protects existing florists by requiring a license before someone can arrange or sell flowers. The licensing exam is graded by florists, he noted.

"No reasonable person thinks that law has a legitimate purpose," Neily said. But he said, "Right now, once you get a law like this on the books, it`s almost impossible to get rid of."

The case is McDonald v. Chicago, 08-1521.

 

March 05, 2010
Climate scientists to fight back at skeptics

(Washington Times)  Undaunted by a rash of scandals over the science underpinning climate change, top climate researchers are plotting to respond with what one scientist involved said needs to be "an outlandishly aggressively partisan approach" to gut the credibility of skeptics.

In private e-mails obtained by The Washington Times, climate scientists at the National Academy of Sciences say they are tired of "being treated like political pawns" and need to fight back in kind. Their strategy includes forming a nonprofit group to organize researchers and use their donations to challenge critics by running a back-page ad in the New York Times.

"Most of our colleagues don`t seem to grasp that we`re not in a gentlepersons` debate, we`re in a street fight against well-funded, merciless enemies who play by entirely different rules," Paul R. Ehrlich, a Stanford University researcher, said in one of the e-mails.

Some scientists question the tactic and say they should focus instead on perfecting their science, but the researchers who are organizing the effort say the political battle is eroding confidence in their work.

"This was an outpouring of angry frustration on the part of normally very staid scientists who said, `God, can`t we have a civil dialogue here and discuss the truth without spinning everything,`" said Stephen H. Schneider, a Stanford professor and senior fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment who was part of the e-mail discussion but wants the scientists to take a slightly different approach.

The scientists have been under siege since late last year when e-mails leaked from a British climate research institute seemed to show top researchers talking about skewing data to push predetermined outcomes. Meanwhile, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the authoritative body on the matter, has suffered defections of members after it had to retract claims that Himalayan glaciers will melt over the next 25 years.

Last month, President Obama announced that he would create a U.S. agency to arbitrate research on climate change.

Sen. James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican and a chief skeptic of global-warming claims, is considering asking the Justice Department to investigate whether climate scientists who receive taxpayer-funded grants falsified data. He lists 17 people he said have been key players in the controversy.

That news has enraged scientists. Mr. Schneider said Mr. Inhofe is showing "McCarthyesque" behavior in the mold of the Cold War-era senator who was accused of stifling political debate through accusations of communism.

In a phone interview, Mr. Schneider, who is one of the key players Mr. Inhofe cites, said he disagrees with trying to engage in an ad battle. He said the scientists will never be able to compete with energy companies.

March 05, 2010
Congressmen Rally Public Support to Stop Prosecution of Navy SEALs

(CNSNews)  Members of Congress – this time armed with more than 100,000 signatures – renewed their call for top Pentagon officials to drop charges against three Navy SEALs for allegedly mistreating an al Qaeda terrorist suspected of killing four Americans in Iraq.

The three SEALs will face trial in April and May.

“They should not be court martialed but hailed as heroes for doing their job,” said Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) at an event outside the Capitol Thursday where two petitions were released. “What kind of message does this send to people who lay their lives on the line every single day?”

One petition, organized by the offices of Burton and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) had 35,000 signatures. The other, organized by the conservative weekly Human Events had 118,155 signatures.

The three SEALs are Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew V. McCabe, 24 of Perrysburg, Ohio, Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathon E. Keefe, 25, of Yorktown, Va., and Petty Officer 1st Class Julio A. Huertas Jr., 28, of Blue Island, Ill.

The petitions are going to Maj. Gen. Charles T. Cleveland, commanding general of Special Operations Command Central, who ordered the court martial after the three declined to take an administrative punishment that would have meant admitting guilt. Cleveland has the most direct role over the proceedings. The petition has also been sent to Adm. Gary Roughed, chief of Naval Operations.

McCabe was at the Capitol Hill event but did not speak. His attorney Neal Puckett is confident his client will be found innocent in the court martial, but is hopeful public opinion could help McCabe avoid the entire process.

“Public opinion certainly can convince high level military officials to convince Gen. Cleveland to change his mind about this,” Puckett told CNSNews.com.

McCabe hopes to continue his career, Puckett said, and took a Naval exam to qualify for a promotion that morning before coming to Washington.

The three were part of a team that captured Ahmed Hashim Abed, the alleged architect of the murder of four Blackwater USA security guards in Fallujah, Iraq, in 2004. The bodies of the four Americans were mutilated, burned, and hanged from a bridge over the Euphrates River.

McCabe is charged with assault for allegedly punching Abed in the mid-section, with dereliction of duty for failing to protect Abed, and with making a false statement.

Keefe is charged with dereliction of duty for not protecting the terror suspect and making a false statement. Huertas is charged with dereliction of duty, making a false statement, and impeding an investigation. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment.

The alleged incident happened on Sept. 1 at Camp Schweidler in Iraq, when Abed was already in captivity.

If convicted in the special court martial, the maximum penalty for all three SEALs would be up to one year of confinement, forfeiture of part of their pay, and a bad conduct discharge. The charges are equivalent to misdemeanor charges, or a special court-martial in military terms. A general court-martial applies to more serious charges, or felonies in civilian standards.

“This prosecution clearly undermines our national security apparatus and those on the front lines of keeping us safe,” Rohrabacher said. “There is nothing more important than the men and women out there on the front lines. These guys should be given medals, not court martialed.”

Rohrabacher stressed that the nation and members of Congress must get behind the SEALs.

“They did their job. Now we’ve got to do our job and back them up and make sure this court martial is cancelled,” Rohrabacher continued. “This is turned upside down. Our government has taken the word of a terrorist over the word of our defenders.”

A military judge moved the trials of Keefe and Huertas to Camp Victory in Baghdad, a military base in Iraq, after defense attorneys asked that their clients be able to face their accusers. Their trials are scheduled to begin in April. McCabe did not request the chance to face his accuser, thus McCabe’s trial will proceed in May in Norfolk, Va.

Puckett declined to tell CNSNews.com why his client did not need to face the accuser.

Nevertheless, Puckett said there will be needless expense to the taxpayers in transporting all of the witnesses in the case to Iraq.

“Hundreds of thousands will have to be spent so he (Abed) can get his day in court,” Puckett said.

In December 2009, 34 House members signed a letter circulated by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) that called on Defense Secretary Robert Gates to intervene in the case.

“It appears from all accounts that these SEALs are exceptional sailors, demonstrated by the fact that each had recently been advanced in rank,” the House letter said. “They captured a terrorist who had planned an attack that not only killed Americans, but also maimed and mutilated their bodies.

“We believe that prosecution of these sailors for such an apparently limited action will have a negative impact on others in the military who risk their lives in dangerous, often ambiguous situations.”

A separate letter from Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) said he does not want to see the careers of the three SEALs cut short “predominantly on the allegation of a murderer and our driving need to be politically correct.”

“Because of the impending court martial, three U.S. SEALs have been removed from the battlefield as will various others who will be called as witnesses,” wrote Ensign. “There is also the issue of how these charges will affect morale, recruiting and retention within the SEAL community, the U.S. Navy and the armed forces as a whole.”

McCabe is charged with assault for allegedly punching Abed in the mid-section, with dereliction of duty for failing to protect Abed, and with making a false statement.

Keefe is charged with dereliction of duty for not protecting the terror suspect and making a false statement. Huertas is charged with dereliction of duty, making a false statement, and impeding an investigation. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment.

The alleged incident happened on Sept. 1 at Camp Schweidler in Iraq, when Abed was already in captivity.

If convicted in the special court martial, the maximum penalty for all three SEALs would be up to one year of confinement, forfeiture of part of their pay, and a bad conduct discharge. The charges are equivalent to misdemeanor charges, or a special court-martial in military terms. A general court-martial applies to more serious charges, or felonies in civilian standards.

“This prosecution clearly undermines our national security apparatus and those on the front lines of keeping us safe,” Rohrabacher said. “There is nothing more important than the men and women out there on the front lines. These guys should be given medals, not court martialed.”

Rohrabacher stressed that the nation and members of Congress must get behind the SEALs.

“They did their job. Now we’ve got to do our job and back them up and make sure this court martial is cancelled,” Rohrabacher continued. “This is turned upside down. Our government has taken the word of a terrorist over the word of our defenders.”

A military judge moved the trials of Keefe and Huertas to Camp Victory in Baghdad, a military base in Iraq, after defense attorneys asked that their clients be able to face their accusers. Their trials are scheduled to begin in April. McCabe did not request the chance to face his accuser, thus McCabe’s trial will proceed in May in Norfolk, Va.

Puckett declined to tell CNSNews.com why his client did not need to face the accuser.

Nevertheless, Puckett said there will be needless expense to the taxpayers in transporting all of the witnesses in the case to Iraq.

“Hundreds of thousands will have to be spent so he (Abed) can get his day in court,” Puckett said.

In December 2009, 34 House members signed a letter circulated by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) that called on Defense Secretary Robert Gates to intervene in the case.

“It appears from all accounts that these SEALs are exceptional sailors, demonstrated by the fact that each had recently been advanced in rank,” the House letter said. “They captured a terrorist who had planned an attack that not only killed Americans, but also maimed and mutilated their bodies.

“We believe that prosecution of these sailors for such an apparently limited action will have a negative impact on others in the military who risk their lives in dangerous, often ambiguous situations.”

A separate letter from Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) said he does not want to see the careers of the three SEALs cut short “predominantly on the allegation of a murderer and our driving need to be politically correct.”

“Because of the impending court martial, three U.S. SEALs have been removed from the battlefield as will various others who will be called as witnesses,” wrote Ensign. “There is also the issue of how these charges will affect morale, recruiting and retention within the SEAL community, the U.S. Navy and the armed forces as a whole.”

 

March 05, 2010
CNN Poll: Majority says government a threat to citizens` rights

(CNN)  A majority of Americans think the federal government poses a threat to rights of Americans, according to a new national poll.

Fifty-six percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Friday say they think the federal government`s become so large and powerful that it poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens. Forty-four percent of those polled disagree.

The survey indicates a partisan divide on the question: only 37 percent of Democrats, 63 percent of Independents and nearly 7 in 10 Republicans say the federal government poses a threat to the rights of Americans.

According to CNN poll numbers released Sunday, Americans overwhelmingly think that the U.S. government is broken - though the public overwhelmingly holds out hope that what`s broken can be fixed.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted February 12-15, with 1,023 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey`s sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the overall survey.

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