(SFGate) In 2005, after Canada legalized same-sex marriage, then-Prime Minister Paul Martin commissioned a $150,000 study by three law professors to debunk any notion that legalizing same-sex marriage would lead to polygamy.
Big mistake. The study recommended that Canada repeal its anti-polygamy law. While they recognized "the strong association between polygamy and gender inequality," the authors determined it wasn`t fair to discriminate, for example, against a Kuwaiti second wife who would be barred from immigrating to Canada with their husband and another wife.
While I had pooh-poohed any suggestion that legalizing same-sex marriages could lead to polygamy, suddenly I had to wonder. I called Brad Luna of the Human Rights Campaign, who told me that he found linking same-sex marriage and polygamy to be offensive.
I get that polygamy and same-sex marriage are completely different institutions. But their advocates rely on the same arguments, even if same-sex marriage advocates take umbrage.
It`s funny how quickly the switch can flip. Now civil-liberties types are wondering if maybe polygamy should be legal.
On Monday, the British Columbia Supreme Court began a trial to determine if Section 293 of the Criminal Code, which outlaws polygamy, is constitutional. If the court decides it isn`t, Canada could become the only Western democracy without an anti-polygamy law.
This trial is not the result of same-sex marriage. In 2008, a British Columbia prosecutor charged two polygamist leaders of fundamentalist Mormon offshoot sects in the community of Bountiful; a court threw out the case on technical grounds, and now the law itself is on trial.
In an affidavit filed with the court, George Washington University law Professor Jonathan Turley argued that polygamy "is a civil rights issue deserving the same protections afforded to homosexuals and other minority groups."
It`s been my experience that when language changes, causes often succeed. The preferred term for "polygamy" now is "polygyny" as it is Greek for "plural wives," not "plural marriage." A "polyandrous" (many husbands) woman has joined the polygamy law`s challengers. She`s with the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association. Turley uses the term "plural unions," and introduced me to a new word, "polyfidelity," being faithful to many lovers.
In an odd polyfidelious union with Mormon offshoot sects and polygamous Muslims, Turley argues that anti-polygamy laws "are the denial of free exercise, equal protection, due process (privacy), and the right to association." Turley believes that neither Canada nor the United States has the authority to criminalize "the private relations of consenting adults."
"Consenting adults." That makes polygamy sound so urbane.
When it is anything but worldly. Law Professor Marci Hamilton argues that polygamy means "gender inequality." She sees a correlation between child abuse and polygamy as practiced by Mormon breakaway groups. Wives and children are isolated; young girls are married off to older men. Some clans have been known to dump unwanted "lost boys" onto city streets in order to keep the male/female ratio in the insular family where the man wants it to be.
The Vancouver Sun reports that the indictment against Bountiful`s Winston Blackmore charged that he was married to 19 wives, nine of whom were under 18. He is reported to have sired more than 100 children.
More than 100 kids and half his wives are minors? How is that private, consenting or adult?
Prosecutor Craig Jones has submitted an affidavit by Stanford classics department Chairman Walter Scheidel noting that monogamy has been "inextricably entwined with the growth and success of the Western democratic way of life and the development of a rights-based culture." Polygamous countries, on the other hand, tend to be less developed and weaker.
On the phone Wednesday, he said most existing polygamous marriages are not good for women. But, he added, "If you live in the Bay Area and you have a bunch of consenting adults and they want to engage in plural arrangements, there is no obvious way this may be harmful."
Now there`s a standard.
U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker overturned California`s same-sex marriage ban on the grounds that "moral disapproval alone is an improper basis on which to deny rights to gay men and lesbians." While Walker liberally offered his opinions on a number of marital issues, he somehow excluded any mention as to how his reasoning might or might not lead to the legalization of polygamy.
Now anti-polygamy law is on trial in Canada. In the name of tolerance, some advocates suggest that a Western democracy legalize a form of marriage that engenders inequality for women and men and potential abuse for children. Because maybe a few adults can pull it off without visible damage, the rest of those families can stay in the Stone Age.
If the court overturns Canada`s anti-polygamy law, our good neighbor to the north will have committed cultural suicide. No worries, the parties after all will be consenting adults.
November 24, 2010
Report: Megachurches Getting Bigger Despite Bad Economy
(Christian Post) Megachurches across the country are holding their own during uncertain economic times, a new survey shows.
Most megachurches continue to see attendance and giving rise, and the bigger the church is, the more likely it is to experience increases, Leadership Network reported in its 2010 Large Church Economic Outlook Report.
Survey results indicate that the economic downturn is having little impact on America`s larger churches. One hundred percent of churches with 8,000 or more attendees experienced growth in attendance and giving from 2009 to 2010. And all surveyed churches with attendance of 10,000 to 14,999 plan to reach this year`s budget projections.
Overall, 81 percent of megachurches – congregations with attendance of 2,000 or more – saw more attendees and only 9 percent reported lower attendance. Sixty-seven percent of megachurches increased their budget, with the average increase being three percent, and the same proportion said they expect to meet their 2010 budget.
Most church leaders anticipate that their congregations will finish 2010 in the black financially, according to the report.
Not all megachurches are riding out the economic storm smoothly. One Michigan pastor surveyed in the report noted that attendees have been holding back.
"Our Michigan economy hasn`t gotten worse; I just think people have pulled back giving, out of a scarcity mindset. Truly, it is a spiritual issue we haven`t effectively addressed as a church, but not because we haven`t been trying," the unidentified church leader said.
While 71 percent said in an April-May survey that they believe the economy is having "no impact" or a "slightly negative" impact on the church and its ministries, only 58 percent said the same in the October survey.
Sixty-four percent of megachurches gave church staff an increase in salary from 2009 to 2010, but the majority of the pay increases were only one to three percent. Only four percent of megachurches cut salaries in 2010. The rest kept salaries the same.
Some of the ways megachurches have been adjusting to the downturn include employing more volunteers, increasing emphasis on financial training classes and creating more financial cushion in the church bank account.
Notably, about one third of megachurches have shifted more of their budget toward external ministry.
For 2010, 34 percent chose "church-wide financial emphasis designed to help the poor or needy" as their top priority. Thirty-one percent said a capital funds drive for new property or building was a priority.
Looking towards 2011, the majority of surveyed church leaders say any increase in spending would most likely go toward missions giving, followed by information technology and facilities. Nineteen percent anticipate moderate or significant increases in facilities spending next year.
The area least likely to see an increase in budget allocation for 2011 is program-related spending.
David Fletcher, executive pastor of The Chapel of Akron in Ohio, said the recession has actually had a positive impact on churches.
"The recession is helping us focus on what we really need and want to do," he said, as quoted in the report. "This is not a time for superfluous programs or overweight expenses. God is using the recession to help us hone what we do and why. It is a great opportunity."
Warren Bird, director of research at Leadership Network, concluded that though some megachurches were crippled by the economy, most are showing a strong sense of resiliency and general optimism.
He noted, "The majority of megachurch leaders plan to hold the line with flat budgets and moderate – if any – expansion plans in 2011. However, a healthy percentage is willing to take calculated steps forward."
The 2010 Large Church Economic Outlook Report is based on findings from a survey of 253 large churches. It is the second in a three-part series examining the impact of the recession on America`s larger churches.
The first report was released in September and details the salaries of church staff and church budgets. The third report will be released in December.
November 26, 2010
More Americans to Cut Holiday Spending; Still Generous to Charities
(Christian Post) More Americans are expected to reduce their spending on presents compared to 2009. But half of the population says it would consider giving to charity instead, a new study found.
Nearly seven in ten (69 percent) Americans say they will spend less on holiday presents this year because of the economic climate, according to a World Vision study conducted by Harris Interactive. By comparison, only 57 percent of Americans said the same last holiday season.
The study also shows that about half of Americans (51 percent) said they would be more likely to give a charitable gift as a holiday present. The question was not asked in last year’s World Vision-Harris Interactive holiday survey, so no comparison can be made.
However, last year’s survey found that more than three in four U.S. adults (76 percent) would prefer to receive a meaningful gift that would help someone else instead of a traditional holiday gift like clothing or electronic.
Similar to the World Vision survey results, the American Red Cross national survey found that Americans are expected to be generous in their charitable giving this holiday season. Nearly three in four people (72 percent) expect to give more or about the same to charity as they did last year. The support for charities during the holiday season comes despite the fact that 86 percent of Americans say their personal finances are the same or worse than they were the previous year.
Devin Hermanson, senior director of World Vision-U.S. Gift Catalog, remarked, “This survey shows that, during uncertain economic times, Americans continue to prioritize helping those in need.”
He added, “Americans are determined to reach out with charitable gifts like those found in the World Vision Gift Catalog this Christmas season.”
World Vision, a Christian international relief and development organization, releases an annual gift catalog where people can purchase items such as goats, water wells, and medicine for needy people in the name of a friend, family member, or business associate.
Providing a family with a goat ($75) is the most popular item in the World Vision gift catalog. Other gifts include two chickens ($25), education for one child ($32), hope for sexually exploited girls ($35), and building supplies for Haiti ($300).
Last year, the gift catalog raised $27 million – up from $18 million in 2009 – and provided assistance to more than 675,000 people around the world. This year’s goal is to raise $32 million. Since the catalog’s release in 1996, it has raised over $130 million.
The World Vision-Harris Interactive survey was conducted by telephone with 1,021 U.S. adults, November 3-7, 2010.
November 26, 2010
Southern Poverty Law Center smears champions of God`s sexual morality
(WorldNetDaily) The Southern Poverty Law Center has placed a virtual who`s who of pro-family and Christianorganizations, including the Family Research Council, the American Family Association and the Traditional Values Coalition, on a list of 13 "hate groups" for opposing the homosexual political agenda.
In its freshly released Winter 2010 Intelligence Report, SPLC labels five additional groups as "anti-gay," including Concerned Women for America, the Christian Anti-Defamation Coalition, and Coral Ridge Ministries.
"No organization better defines what a hate group is all about than the Southern Poverty Law Center," said Robert Knight, Washington correspondent for Coral Ridge Ministries. "Smearing legitimate groups merely for disagreeing about homosexuality is a very hateful act."
"Lumping Christian groups in with violent, racist gangs is a form of `bracketing,` a political tactic described in the gay strategy manual `After the Ball.` It`s guilt by association and it`s meant to intimidate," Knight told WND.
"This underscores why many of us opposed passage of the federal hate-crimes bill, which lays the groundwork for making Christian morality into a form of hate punishable under the law," Knight continued. "The SPLC has included several groups in the past that did not belong on a legitimate list, such as Family Research Institute, Mission America, and Americans for Truth about Homosexuality, and now they`ve widened their smear to include even more Christian organizations that defend traditional morality in the public square."
SPLC officials were not available to comment.
According to the article, " ... the SPLC’s listings of these groups is based on their propagation of known falsehoods – claims about LGBT people that have been thoroughly discredited by scientific authorities – and repeated, groundless name-calling. Viewing homosexuality as unbiblical does not qualify organizations for listing as hate groups."
"The Left`s smear campaigns of conservatives is being driven by the clear evidence that the American public is losing patience with their radical policy agenda as seen in the recent election and in the fact that every state, currently more than thirty, that has had the opportunity to defend the natural definition of marriage has done so," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. "Earlier this month, voters in Iowa sent a powerful message when they removed three Supreme Court justices who imposed same-sex marriage on the state. Would the SPLC also smear the good people of Iowa?"
"We are going to form a coalition of organizations to lobby Congress to withhold funds from SPLC," Christian Anti-Defamation Coalition head Gary L. Cass told WND. "We will also demand Congress restrict federal law enforcement from relying on the biased SPLC reports, like the discredited `Report on Right-Wing Extremism` SPLC wrote for the Department of Homeland Security."
"It`s disturbing that the U.S. Department of Justice takes its cue from Morris Dees` SPLC as to which groups fit the `hate` criteria. I wonder how many Americans would be comfortable with seeing their tax dollars go toward supporting a hate group like the SPLC," Knight added.
Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America, contended that SPLC is more focused on advancing a radical political agenda than on combating hatred.
"This might be an opportunity to point out who are actually filled with hate and bigotry," said Wright. "If they were to judge according to actions, they would have to have a special section for homosexual groups that vandalize and threaten people who oppose the homosexual agenda. We`ve had death threats against us posted openly on websites because of our work to uphold traditional marriage."
"It`s the homosexual groups that have violated and invaded churches, vandalized homes and cars, that instigate death threats against people who are simply trying to uphold traditional values," Wright observed.
Knight suggested the SPLC report might be timed to influence next week`s Senate hearings on the military`s "Don`t Ask, Don`t Tell" policy.
"The timing is very curious, with the story breaking just before homosexual activists and their allies in the Senate launch their final assault of the year on the military`s law barring open homosexuality. Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not," said Knight. As WND has reported, SPLC is currently advising the Department of Homeland Security on threats posed by "violent extremists." SPLC produced a highly controversial report linking tea-party activists to the Oklahoma City bombing.
SPLC`s condemnation of groups fighting the homosexual political agenda parallels its 2007 designation of the Federation for America Immigration Reform as a "hate group" for helping to shoot down a 2007 amnesty bill in the U.S. Senate. SPLC hate group monitor Mark Potok reportedly acknowledged, "what we are hoping very much to accomplish is to marginalize FAIR."
November 26, 2010
What not to wear? Clothing a security line issue
(AP) It was no crime of fashion, but Wendy Gigliotti`s bulky sweater and ankle-length skirt made her a target of airport screeners.
A female Transportation Security Administration officer at Sacramento International Airport told her, "We can`t tell if there`s something under your skirt." She was then frisked in a way she said felt more intrusive than a physical exam.
"I felt not only like a criminal, I felt absolutely violated," said Gigliotti.
Gigliotti is among the travelers feeling mortified or even outraged by the more thorough security pat-downs the TSA began using this month as the holiday travel season begins.
Travel experts say the new scrutiny underscores the need for better airport fashion choices that can help people breeze through screenings with their dignity intact.
Clothes loaded with metal studs are suddenly a no-no, as are bras with underwires. Slacks instead of skirts are preferred. Any baggy clothing can require extra inspection.
"It`s difficult enough to fly right now, so let`s be sensible about it," said Susan Foster, author of "Smart Packing for Today`s Traveler." "Let`s minimize all the hassle."
Melissa Wood of Marina Del Rey said she prepared for a possible pat-down at Los Angeles International Airport on Friday by wearing tight jeans, a snug sweater and slip-on sheepskin boots. She said she made sure to take out all belongings from her pockets and stuffed them in her purse before reaching the conveyor belt.
"I don`t want any problem when I reach the checkpoint," Wood said.
Another passenger evoked the Disneyland rule.
"We should dress to the airport like we dress for Disneyland, and by that I mean dressing comfortably with a good pair of shoes," said Aliise Becker, who wore a turtleneck, blue slacks and coat for her flight from Sacramento to Los Angeles. "The days of dressing to the nine to travel is a thing of the past."
The new search technique allows airport security screeners to use their palms and fingers to probe for hidden weapons and devices around sensitive body parts, including clothed genital areas and breasts. In the past, TSA officers brushed along those body parts with the back of their hands.
Opponents argue the more intensive screening violates civil liberties including freedom of religion, the right to privacy and the constitutional protection against unreasonable searches.
Federal officials insist the procedures are necessary to ward off terror attacks like the attempted bombing of a Chicago-bound plane last Christmas by a Nigerian man who stashed explosives in his underwear.
Recently, a San Diego County man who resisted the groin check, telling an officer, "If you touch my junk, I`ll have you arrested" became an Internet hit when he posted tape of the confrontation online. On the Alex Jones syndicated radio show, a frequent flier complained that a TSA officer put his hands down his waistband because he was wearing baggy sweat pants.
Gigliotti said she wasn`t aware of the enhanced security measures, so she was shocked when the TSA officer ran her hands up and down her legs last week.
TSA spokesman Nico Melendez said that they have not received any written complaint from her.
Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn noted the public embarrassment that can come with additional security on Wednesday as she and city officials sought to ease the public`s concerns on the issue.
"I go through the lines like everybody else. I have to take off my shoes. Sometimes I forgot to check the condition of my feet. I have to take off my jacket. Sometimes I forgot that the blouse I wore wasn`t meant to be seen in public. But you know what, these are small inconveniences, these are small embarrassments in light of what we`re trying to do," she said.
David Stempler, president of the Air Travelers Association, said he has been hearing about women complaining of TSA officers searching under their skirts.
"It certainly is a problem, that`s why I recommend going through the scanning machines," Stempler said. "They`re well vetted and they should be more comfortable than these aggressive pat-downs."
Some passengers and flight crews are fearful the imaging machines emit an unhealthy dose of radiation. The government insists they`re safe, but agreed on Friday to let uniformed pilots skip the screening.
An Internet campaign is urging airline passengers to boycott the physically revealing scanners on the day before Thanksgiving and insist that any pat-down they receive as a result take place in full view of other passengers.
On Twitter, many joked that they might as well show up to the airport in their birthday suit.
Clothing options that may not be wise are T-shirts selling on the Internet that mock the pat-downs. One provides guidance to TSA officers to "firmly grasp" the buttocks, while others riff off the "don`t touch my junk" line, including one for Fondle Airlines, motto: "Fondling junk since 2010."
November 26, 2010
United Kingdom: More than half of young people have never heard of the King James Bible
(Daily Mail) More than half of younger people have never heard of the King James Bible, a survey shows.
Fifty-one per cent of under-35s did not know what the Authorised Version was, compared with 28 per cent of over-55s.
The Authorised King James Version, which will be 400 years old next year, took the English language around the world and is thought to be the biggest-selling book ever.
It was prepared on the orders of King James I to correct flaws and political problems left by existing translations and provide one that would unite religious factions.
And it provided the language with hundreds of now well-known phrases such as ‘let there be light’ and ‘eat, drink and be merry’.
A spokesman for the King James Bible Trust, which commissioned the poll, said: ‘There has been a dramatic drop in knowledge in a generation.
`Yet this is a work which was far more influential than Shakespeare in the development and spread of English.’
He said the book should be taught by schools in English, history and religious education classes.
Labour MP Frank Field said: ‘It is not possible to comprehend fully Britain’s historical, linguistic or religious development without an understanding of this great translation.’
The King James translation has dropped out of fashion in recent years as clergy have turned to more modern translations.
November 26, 2010
Stolen Cross, Stolen Honor: Mojave Desert Site Was Only Memorial to World War I Veterans
(Family Security Matters) Frank Woodruff Buckles was born in Missouri 109 years ago. He is a national hero and the last living American veteran of World War I. But as we observed this Veterans Day - a day conceived as a celebration of the end of that bloody war - there was no national monument to honor Mr. Buckles and 5 million other Americans who served our nation in uniform then. The sole National Monument to World War I has been destroyed by vandals, and the Obama administration refuses to allow its replacement, even by private citizens, even at private expense.
In 1934, John Bembrey, along with several fellow veterans, erected a simple cross on a granite outcrop in the Mojave Desert. Their intention was to commemorate the sacrifice made by their comrades in the Great War, and for the next 65 years, this modest memorial was quietly maintained by volunteers. In 2000, the Mojave Desert Cross was designated by the U.S. Congress as the only official National Monument to World War I.
Then the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other self-appointed guardians of the Constitution argued that the Mojave Desert Memorial Cross was an affront to the principle of separation of church and state. A decade-long battle ensued until April of this year, when the U.S. Supreme Court - the actual arbiter of the Constitution - issued a ruling that the cross could remain.
The majority decision of the high court was delivered by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, and it read,
"The goal of avoiding governmental endorsement does not require eradication of all religious symbols in the public realm. A cross by the side of a public highway marking, for instance, the place where a state trooper perished, need not be taken as a statement of governmental support for sectarian beliefs. The Constitution does not oblige government to avoid any public acknowledgment of religion`s role in society."
Nevertheless, the Supreme Court remanded the case to the lower courts for further review. That means the legal battle will continue, and the ACLU already has promised to continue its fight to remove the cross from the memorial.
Not content to leave it to the courts and inflamed by the April decision, criminals torched through supports and stole the cross on May 10. Even though destruction of that cross is a federal crime under the Veterans Memorial Preservation and Recognition Act of 2003, no action was taken by the FBI or by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.`s Department of Justice. So, Americans did what Americans do best and solved the problem on their own. Concerned citizens replaced the cross with an exact replica and restored the memorial.
On May 20, 10 days after the memorial`s desecration and the theft of the cross, park rangers found the replacement cross bolted to the base of the original. The Park Service removed it because it was not the original cross but merely a replica. Mojave National Park spokeswoman Linda Slater explained, "The Park Service has regulations about people putting up memorials. You can`t just go to a park and put up a memorial to a family member." She explained neither the non sequitur about a "family member," nor the logic of the Park Service actions.
Towering above the Park Service and picayune ACLU wrangling is World War I itself. Though hundreds of monuments in Washington and across the nation celebrate obscure people and events, there is not a single national monument to the sacrifices made by 4,734,991 uniformed Americans who were at war from April 6, 1917, to the day the Armistice was signed on Nov. 11, 1918. In those 19 months of slaughter, empires fell, kings abdicated and 10 million soldiers died on the battlefield, including 116,516 Americans.
The Mojave Desert Cross commemorates American bravery. In less than two years, 119 men were awarded the Medal of Honor, our nation`s highest military honor. The accompanying citations attempted to capture the recipients` bravery with phrases such as "... showed the highest possible contempt of personal danger, devotion to duty, courage, and valor." During months of trench warfare, poison gas and terrible new weapons including tanks, airplanes and machine guns, America was graced with heroes such as flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker, Tennessee mountaineer Alvin C. York (hero of the film "Sergeant York") and young Army volunteers such as Frank Woodruff Buckles.
The Mojave Desert Cross is also a tribute to the multicultural nature of America. Among the soldiers awarded the Medal of Honor were men born in Austria, China, England, Finland, Greece, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Montenegro, Norway and Serbia. During World War I, the U.S. military inducted 500,000 immigrants of 46 nationalities, and every one of them was an American warrior. Serving alongside them were 10,000 American Indians and 350,000 black Americans.
Christians know the cross as a symbol of divine sacrifice. But the cross stolen from the Mojave Desert also was an earthly symbol. It spoke of the death of more than 100,000 Americans and the honor and bravery of millions more. It was the sole national monument to our nation`s World War I veterans, and it must be made whole again. Surely Mr. Obama will not continue to ignore calls to recognize their bloody sacrifice.
Now is the time for the president to direct the National Park Service to allow patriotic Americans to replace the Mojave Desert Cross. The replica of the cross will be exact, and only private money and effort will be used to restore the Mojave Desert National Monument to its former dignity. Not a single dollar will come from the federal budget.
In the meantime, Americans - and America`s millions of veterans - are left to ask: Does President Obama`s silence mean Americans in uniform today will also be forgotten tomorrow?
Heroic Media: Saving Unborn Babies…One TV Commercial at a Time
(LifeSiteNews) Clarisse Martin learned late last year that she was pregnant - something she had not planned and absolutely did not want. She was determined to have an abortion.
Shortly after finding out she was expecting she spotted a large billboard with the words, “Pregnant? Scared?” and the picture of a young African American woman and a phone number. Clarisse was pregnant, and she was most definitely scared. She called the number on the billboard, which connected her with a local pregnancy center. At the center, she requested an abortion, but her counselor explained that because they were a Christian organization, they did not provide abortions, but could help in a variety of other ways.
While Clarisse listened to the options available, she left the center still determined to terminate her pregnancy. However, over the next few days, she thought about the conversation and asked herself how she could say she was a Christian and still consider abortion.
She eventually went back and agreed to an ultrasound. Once she saw her little girl on the screen, Clarisse knew she would allow her daughter to be born. On July 28, beautiful baby Mary Joy took her first breath.
This true story is only one of thousands of such stories that happen across the United States and around the world every year, thanks in large part to the help of pregnancy resource centers such as those run by CareNet and Heartbeat International. But such pregnancy centers would be able to do nothing if women didn’t know they existed, and didn’t go to them when in crisis.
Heroic Media describes itself as “a faith-based non-profit that reduces abortion by creating a Culture of Life through television, billboard and internet advertising which connects women in crisis with life-affirming pregnancy centers.”
Brian Follett, the retired Texas businessman who founded the pro-life media organization in 2004, explained in a lengthy telephone interview that the name “Heroic Media” was chosen not in reference to the heroism of the organization, but because “the underlying message of all of our media is to promote the heroism of motherhood.”
Up until 2001 Follett owned a food manufacturing business, which he sold to major Canadian food corporation McCain foods. After the sale went through, Follett said he decided to go on retreat, and to spend some time praying in order to discern the next step. “At the time I was on retreat,” he says, “they were building a $6 million Planned Parenthood facility in Austin. So I would go and pray the rosary with folks from the church, and that was in the back of my mind.”
Ultimately Follett came up with about a dozen different projects that he was interested in pursuing, about ten of which were pro-life related. But after he came off retreat he suddenly remembered that pro-life media had been ongoing in the state of Wisconsin for more than ten years, “and just about every year the abortion ratio would go down.”
“So I said, ‘Oh, there’s no media being done in Texas.’” When he spoke to a number of national, state, and local pro-life leaders, they told him that they had been hoping to do media for years, but simply couldn’t raise the money needed to get it off the ground.
And thus began Heroic Media.
In the spring of 2004 Heroic Media ran its first thirteen-week TV campaign in Austin, at a cost of $250,000. In 2005, they did two thirteen-week campaigns, and then started running year-round billboards of the sort that saved the life of Clarisse’s baby.
Prayer and Research-Driven Pro-Life Activism
Heroic Media takes a unique approach to pro-life activism, in that nearly everything it does is research-driven. Not only are advertisements focus-group tested before they run, to ensure that they have the intended effect upon the target audience they are aimed at, but results are carefully measured in terms of any change in the abortion ratio in the markets where the ads run.
Heroic Media got an encouraging picture of how effective its advertizing campaigns are in 2008, when the state of Texas released its abortion statistics for 2005, the year that the “call for help” ads began to air in Austin. Strikingly, the abortion ratio had dropped 24% in the extremely liberal Austin market, even as it had climbed elsewhere in the state, such as in Dallas-Forth Worth. Prior to Heroic Media running their campaigns in the city, Austin had the highest abortion ratio in Texas, says Follett, “and now of all the major media markets, it’s the lowest.”
Follett is adamant that prayer is the ultimate and by far the most important foundation for pro-life work. But he is equally adamant that pro-life activism requires careful forethought and planning using the best tools at our disposal. He also believes that wherever possible results should be measured, which allows groups to fine-tune their methods, and to determine where they should put their resources. The equation for measuring success is quite simple, he says, “the number of abortions divided by live births” in any given market.
“It’s very easy to produce pro-life ads that excite pro-life people,” he says, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the ads are changing the hearts and minds of people who are not already pro-life, or that they are bringing women with crisis pregnancies through the doors of pregnancy resource centers.
In reference to the overwhelming success of their Austin campaign, Follett says that some might ask whether or not the success can simply be attributed to prayer. “Of course it’s prayer,” he says. “But,” he continues, “why would God choose to make abortion decline only in Austin? Why not Dallas-Forth Worth? So we think that there’s a big connection in how God uses media.”
The simple truth is that advertizing works, says Follett, who points to other campaigns such as the Smoky the Bear campaign, or the “Don’t Mess with Texas” campaign, that stand as a testament to how media is able to shape public opinion and behavior. “If we can use media for something that’s kind of important, the environment, why can’t we use media for something as important as life?”
Additionally, he points out, pro-life media appears to have the power to attract attention from business owners, even those who might not otherwise consider giving to the pro-life cause, simply because they know from experience what media has been able to do for their businesses. “What’s so attractive to business leaders across the country, is they understand what makes their businesses successful, so they really get media,” says Follett.
Nevertheless, while Heroic Media is passionately devoted to applying the most advanced tools and techniques available to its work, Follett continually returns to the theme of faith, which he says is the core principle of Heroic Media’s work, without which it could accomplish nothing. Every morning, says Follett, “we have all of our staff from across the country will all call in to one line, and we start the morning with prayer. And it’s only about 10 minutes and we get everybody together, and it just grounds us in Who is making the change.”
He adds, “And we’re all cognizant of Who it is, and it’s not us. Sometimes we like to think it’s us but that’s just not how it works.”
The Future of Heroic Media
Currently Heroic Media is running two 13-week TV campaigns per year, in addition to the perennial billboard campaigns. Their life-affirming TV ads run on MTV, Univision, and Black Entertainment Television (BET).
The last station in that list, BET, points to the focus of Heroic Media’s latest project, which is drawing attention to the massive racial imbalance in the abortion rate in the U.S., and the fact that Planned Parenthood specifically targets minority neighborhoods with its abortion facilities.
The campaign, entitled Planned Parenthood Aborts African Americans, or ppAbortsaa, uses billboards, TV commercials and a website to proclaim that “the most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb.” The website observes that “An African American baby is three times more likely to be aborted from the womb than a white baby,” and highlights the statistic that Planned Parenthood has placed upwards of 70% of its facilities in minority neighborhoods.
Ironically, says Follett, while Heroic Media has had little trouble getting highly liberal stations such as MTV to air many of their previous campaigns, the ads for ppAbortsaa are being rejected on the basis of “racism.”
“I’m beside myself trying to find out how it’s racist,” said Follett.
When asked what the goals are for Heroic Media in the years ahead, Follett responds simply that the organization wants nothing more than to help crisis pregnancy centers all across the U.S. do their job by getting pregnant women in crisis situations to seek them out.
“We work for Carenet and Heartbeat International,” he says. “Our goal is to generate traffic and to help the pro-life movement reduce the abortion ratio throughout the country.”
In order to do that Heroic Media has a strategic plan to have five regional presidents around the United States, and to find 1 million pro-life people who are willing to help get pro-life media on the airwaves. Already Heroic Media has 25 staff members scattered throughout the country, and has made tremendous strides in expanding into new markets, including Jacksonville, Florida, and Chicago, Illinois. The organization is also doing work in Latin America, and runs a website for teens, TeenBreaks.com, which uses keyword advertizing on the internet to outbid pro-abortion groups like Planned Parenthood.
Thanks to its highly effective approach, the organization has won endorsements from high-powered figures including, most prominently, vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who recently spoke at a gala hosted by Heroic Media. Others include talk show host Laura Ingraham, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, and Col. Oliver North.
But for Heroic Media it isn’t the endorsements of the rich and the famous that matter, but rather women like Clarisse Martin, who have been inspired to take the “heroic” path and to spare the lives of their unborn babies, and who have found a world of happiness in the process.
Justice Scalia slams high court for inventing ‘living constitution,’ right to abortion
(LifeSiteNews) U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia slammed the modern U.S. judiciary and the high court for using the idea of a “living constitution” to invent new rules and meanings that have led to a “right” to abortion and decriminalized homosexual conduct.
Scalia made his remarks last Friday during a University of Richmond luncheon lecture entitled “Do Words Matter?” The event was covered both by the Associated Press.
“The Constitution says what it says and it doesn’t say anything more,” said Scalia to an audience of 250 people, most of them legal professionals and academics.
The 74-year-old jurist, appointed to the high court by President Ronald Reagan in 1986, warned that government by judges is inevitable when the original meaning of legal language in laws and constitutions is not respected. This attitude, he said, allows “five out of nine hotshot lawyers to run the country.”
“Under the guise of interpreting the Constitution and under the banner of a living Constitution, judges, especially those on the Supreme Court, now wield an enormous amount of political power,” continued Scalia, “because they don’t just apply the rules that have been written, they create new rules.”
Scalia pointed out that the high court distorted the meaning of “due process” (referring to legal procedure) in the 14th Amendment to invent new rights under a “made up” concept of “substantial due process.” That has allowed the 14th Amendment to become the gateway to legal abortion and other behaviors, which the constitutional authors never intended and viewed as criminal.
“The due process clause has been distorted so it’s no longer a guarantee of process but a guarantee of liberty,” Scalia expounded. “But some of the liberties the Supreme Court has found to be protected by that word - liberty - nobody thought constituted a liberty when the 14th Amendment was adopted. Homosexual sodomy? It was criminal in all the states. Abortion? It was criminal in all the states.”
He also commented on the modern confirmation process of Supreme Court justices, saying it was akin to a “mini-constitutional convention” because Senators are fighting about how a justice will interpret words.
“The way to change the Constitution is through amendments approved by the people, not by judges altering the meaning of its words,” he added.
The AP reports that after the lecture, Scalia signed copies of his new book, “Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges,” and was going to lecture a class on the constitution’s separation of powers at UR’s law school.
Justice Scalia, along with Justice Clarence Thomas, are the high court’s two jurists that firmly embrace an “originalist” doctrine - abiding by the original intent and context of legal language - when it comes to interpreting the U.S. Constitution and federal laws.
Scalia has criticized the high court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision as an “improper” ruling, saying the founding charter of the U.S. federal government had nothing to do either with abortion or even things like homosexual activity.
If the U.S. Supreme Court reversed its position on Roe, abortion would once again become a criminal matter for the states to decide how to regulate or prohibit.
November 26, 2010
Valedictorian had right to mention ‘God’ and ‘Christ’ in address: Montana Supreme Court
(LifeSiteNews.com) The Montana Supreme Court has reversed a district judge’s ruling that school officials could censor a valedictorian’s speech that contained references to God and Jesus Christ.
The high court issued its decision Friday, saying Renee Griffith’s rights to free speech and freedom of religion under the state and federal constitutions had been violated by officials with the Butte High School and the school district.
Renee Griffith, one of the ten high school valedictorians in the class of 2008, had planned to say in her graduation address that she “didn’t let fear keep me from sharing Christ and his joy with those around me.” She also wanted to speak about “being someone who lived with a purpose from God with a passionate love for him.”
However, Principal John Metz, and the superintendent for Butte School District No. 1, Charles Uggetti, demanded Griffith replace the words “Christ and his joy” with “my faith,” and “from God with a passionate love for him” with the phrase “derived from my faith and based on a love of mankind.”
Since Griffiths would not make the suggested changes to her address, Metz and Uggetti did not allow her to speak at graduation.
Back in February, Yellowstone County District Judge Gregory Todd ruled in favor of the school district against Griffiths. The judge stated the “policies and practices of the District prohibiting religious speech during graduation ceremonies are applied evenly to all student speakers,” and the policy itself was “drafted with the specific intent of maintaining [school] District neutrality toward religion, as is required by the Establishment Clause.”
The Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
The state Supreme Court’s decision now nullifies Todd’s ruling.
Griffith’s attorney, William J. O’Connor II, told LifeSiteNews.com earlier this year that he would be taking her case to the high court because the district’s policy entails “viewpoint discrimination,” which is prohibited under U.S. Supreme Court precedent.
“You can’t say people can speak on their personal point of view except if their personal point of view involves religion,” he added.
Griffith originally filed a complaint with the Human Rights Bureau of the State of Montana in July of 2008. After the Bureau dismissed her complaint, Griffith filed a further complaint in the Montana Thirteenth Judicial District Court, Yellowstone County, in April of 2009, alleging that six state and federal rights were violated by Uggetti and Metz.
November 26, 2010
Conference promotes Muslim world control
(WorldNetDaily) Elliot Spitzer said on his CNN television program recently that Islamic activist Sheikh Anjem Choudary should be in jail for advocating violence against the United States.
The comment came after Choudary confirmed he was in contact with people inside the United States and was encouraging them to attack the United States.
But instead of being jailed, or even under investigation, Choudary soon will be addressing an international gathering of Muslims in London where a platform will be created to exhort attendees to work for the worldwide spread of Islam and Shariah.
The International Islamic Revival Conference is scheduled for Nov. 27, and Choudary is one of two headline speakers for the one-day event.
The British sheikh says organizers believe the international Muslim community is in disarray and the conference`s purpose is to reverse that process. "You see that Muslims are living in dictatorships and under tyrants who are promoting things that are anathema to Muslims, like democracy and freedom, which we completely reject. They have no foundation in the divine text," Choudary stated.
"One of the main issues that should concern Muslims nowadays is to re-establish the khilafa (the caliphate) which is where the Shariah was being implemented on the state level," Choudary continued.
"This is where the security and the authorities are in the hands of Muslims and the Shariah is being implemented internally and even externally as a foreign policy, and where sovereignty and supremacy belongs to God," Choudary added. "This is a vital issue and you can see that most of the serious Islamic movements worldwide have this as their main, or maybe only, objective," Choudary said.
Choudary`s emphasis is on the establishment of the caliphate and the imposition of Shariah law. He says there are many obstacles to this happening.
"The problem that we have obviously are that the obstacles that stand in the way of the implementation of the Shariah are both intellectual and physical. The intellectual are the lack of understanding of the masses of the Muslims, people adopting ideas that are alien to Islam such as secularism, liberalism, democracy and freedom," Choudary claimed.
He says the physical problems include non-Islamic regimes.
"There are also foreign forces on Islamic soil which are trying to continue the status quo. Some of the leaders are Asians, Americans or British and they`re looking after their own interests be they economic, strategic or military," Choudary claimed further.
He writes on his web page that he personally is working for Izharudeen, Islamic world dominance. This also happens to be the word used in the conference`s internet URL.
Choudary emphasizes that jihad is an integral part of Muslim policy.
"The foreign policy of the Islamic state is jihad, jihad in order to remove anything that stands in the way of divine law. The prerequisite of that is having an Islamic state," Choudary asserted.
"Then after that comes the establishment of the foreign policy. So ultimately we do believe the Western nations, the ones in fact where Shariah was never implemented in history, will one day be governed by Shariah. This is the promise of Allah," Choudary further stated.
"We know very well that there are foreign forces in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Palestine. Many of the Muslim states are being oppressed by non-Islamic forces in Xinjiang in China, in Chechnya, Uzbekistan. We have them now in Sudan, in Somalia, we can go on and on," Choudary said.
"There is hardly a country today where there is not some struggle taking place to re-establish the Shariah," Choudary added.
Choudary says he proudly wears the label of an extremist or radical because he says that every Muslim should be a Muslim radical.
"I am a Muslim. If you want to give me a label, I practice Islam and I practice Shariah. So, I am happy to take those labels," Choudary claimed.
"The best man who walked the earth, the messenger Muhammad, was called trustworthy before he got his revelations. After that his enemies called him `mad.` They said he had the magic of words and he was labeled all kinds of labels," Choudary continued.
"I wear those labels with pride if you want to call me a militant, an extremist or a fundamentalist," Choudary said.
Choudary believes that Islam is under attack and says Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi`s comment that Western civilization is superior to Islamic is a prime example.
Choudary`s fellow conference speaker, Shariah Belgium`s leader Abu Imran, says Europe is Islamic territory. "We would like to revive the spirit of that Islamic state. And we work every day to build that state again. That Europe is rightly an Islamic nation is a fact," Imran remarked.
"Even if it wasn`t, we believe that Islam will dominate the world and we are working for that concept," Imran added.
Imran adds that this expansion of Islam also involves the United States.
"Like we said in several interviews, the Islamic flag will rise above the White House," Imran claimed.
Imran speaks of the conversion of the United States in past tense.
"The White House was never Islamic and America was never an Islamic state before," Imran added.
Imran believes that this development will stay in place because it was promised by Allah.
Terrorism analyst, Hoover Institution media fellow, and "Muslim Mafia" co-author Paul Sperry says that Choudary paints with a broad brush claiming that all Muslims agree with his position. But Sperry adds that statistics reflect that Choudary may be right.
"Choudary claims all Muslims support Shariah and jihad, even Muslims in America, only `behind your backs.` Unfortunately, I suspect there`s some truth to that based on surveys of our Muslim population. Pew found that 1 in 4 young Muslims here support suicide bombings, and Gallup recently found that our Muslims are just as `angry` as British Muslims," Sperry explained.
Sperry adds that the belief that American Muslims have become Americanized is a myth.
"The notion that our Muslims are better assimilated and less radicalized is a myth that was finally debunked this fall by a report on homegrown terrorism put out by a group headed by the chairmen of the 9/11 Commission," Sperry said.
Sperry adds that the persistent myth about a more peace-loving Islam in America has dangerous consequences.
"That stubborn myth has lulled us into a false sense of security about the internal threat we face. The report discovered what frustrated FBI case agents and detectives working Muslim beats have already known anecdotally for years – that a terrorist radicalization and recruitment infrastructure had been established inside the country that includes mosques and madrassas and charities and even prominent Muslim groups – all financed and supported by the Saudi-backed Muslim Brotherhood," Sperry further explained.
"The Islamic radicals in this country aren`t, as we`ve been led to believe, the `fringe.` They`re the establishment. A disturbingly large portion of the Muslim community does fall in line with Brotherhood thinking, which hews closely to Islamic scripture and does not betray it as we`ve been told," Sperry continued.
Sperry says the authorities have seen the evidence inside Muslim homes.
"When case agents and police go into Muslim homes even in our nation`s capital and find computer screen-savers with images of Osama bin Laden and anti-Jew and anti-Christian drawings and poems by their kids hanging on refrigerators, they have to wonder about the community`s patriotism and cooperation," Sperry said.
Sperry adds that these details should raise questions about security.
"Are they really self-policing for jihadists in their midst, or are they secretly supporting the bad guys? Are they loyal to the Constitution, or are they trying to erect a parallel legal system based on Shariah law, as Muslims in the D.C. suburbs and elsewhere have tried to do regarding domestic abuse and other family issues?" Sperry asked.
Sperry adds that the evidence suggests that Americans have been deceived.
"How pervasive is the deceit? Is it really as insidious as Choudary boasts? And have we been too eager to buy into pleasant platitudes about a `religion of peace`? The evidence suggests we have. The evidence suggests that we`re being played for suckers about the true nature and scope of the threat from both jihadism and Shariah creep," Sperry explained.
Sperry`s comments are borne out by Choudary himself, who said that the type of Islam the West supports is the "religion of peace." Choudary adds that is not true Islam.
"Islam that is practiced by the Muslims who are not selling themselves out to non-Islamic regimes, and that are not going with their begging bowls for some influence or position, believe in the concept of Shariah, believe in the concept of jihad, believe in the concept of khiliafa – those are the kinds of Muslims that Blair and Bush would call terrorists and extremists," Choudary explained.
Other speakers scheduled for the one-day event are the currently imprisoned Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad, Abu Izzadeen, Sheikh Hani as Sibaa`I, Ustaad Abu Mujahida, Ustaad Abu Farooq, and Sheikh Abdullah Faisal.
November 26, 2010
Scientists challenge TSA on scanner radiation
(WorldNetDaily) Federal officials claim radiation risks from the U.S. Transportation Security Administration`s new full-body scanners are low, but several scientists are calling on the administration to rethink whether the numbers really add up.
The TSA says the radiation from its security scans amounts to about a thousandth of the amount a patient receives from a standard chest X-ray, or an amount "equivalent to two minutes of flying on an airplane."
But a physics professor at Arizona State University in Tempe not only conducted his own study, finding the radiation exposure 10 times what the TSA estimates, but also argues that the health risks aren`t mathematically worth taking.
Prof. Peter Rez explained to MSNBC that while the risk of getting a fatal cancer from the screening is minuscule, it`s about equal to the probability an airplane will get blown up by a terrorist. Either way, the professor argues, dead is dead.
"There is not a case to be made for deploying [the scanners] to prevent such a low probability event," Rez says.
Furthermore, a team of scientists from the University of California San Francisco have written a letter to the White Housethe general population – "potential serious health risks" to certain segments of society, such as the elderly and the pregnant. warning that the scanners present – above and beyond the risks to
"There is good reason to believe that these scanners will increase the risk of cancer to children and other vulnerable populations," say the cosigners of the letter, which include experts in biochemistry, imaging, X-rays and cancer research. "We are unanimous in believing that the potential health consequences need to be rigorously studied before these scanners are adopted."
The backscatter X-ray technology used in airport security scanners penetrates the skin only about 1/4 inch before the rays are scattered, whereas medical X-rays transmit completely through the body. The TSA has determined, therefore, that the amount of radiation emitted from the airport scanners is significantly less than at the doctor`s office.
The University of California scientists, however, disagree.
"The X-ray dose from these devices has often been compared in the media to the cosmic ray exposure inherent to airplane travel or that of a chest X-ray," the professors` letter states. "However, this comparison is very misleading: Both the air travel cosmic ray exposure and chest X-rays have much higher X-ray energies, and the health consequences are appropriately understood in terms of the whole body volume dose. In contrast, these new airport scanners are largely depositing their energy into the skin and immediately adjacent tissue, and since this is such a small fraction of body weight/volume, possibly by one to two orders of magnitude, the real dose to the skin is now high."
The professors are calling on the administration to specifically reexamine potential risks to the following groups:
Older travelers, those greater than 65 years of age, who may be at particular risk from the mutagenic effects of the X-rays;
A fraction of the female population especially sensitive to mutagenesis-provoking radiation leading to breast cancer, women typically exempted from X-ray mammograms, for example;
The population of immuno-compromised individuals, such as HIV and cancer Patients;
Children and adolescents;
Pregnant women and their unborn children;
And men in general, because of the proximity of the testicles to skin, which is most highly effected by the backscatter rays.
The TSA claims that the machines` safety has been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration`s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, the Commerce Department`s National Institute for Standards and Technology and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.
"In summary, the potential health risks from a full-body screening with a general-use X-ray security system are minuscule. Several groups of recognized experts have been assembled and have analyzed the radiation safety issues associated with this technology," the FDA states. "As a result of these evidence-based, responsible actions, we are confident that full-body X-ray security products and practices do not pose a significant risk to the public health."
When New York Times reporter Susan Stellini called these research organizations to ask about their evaluations, however, she discovered the machines were primarily tested for whether the amount of radiation emitted meets guidelines established by the American National Standards Institute, an organization she suspects may be operating with a conflict of interest.
"Guess who was on the committee that developed the guidelines for the X-ray scanners? Representatives from the companies that make the machines and the Department of Homeland Security, among others," Stellini writes. "In other words, the machines passed a test developed, in part, by the companies that manufacture them and the government agency that wants to use them."
Both Rez and the team from University of California have also brought up yet another "red flag" with the airport scanners.
"The scary thing to me is not what happens in normal operations, but what happens if the machine fails," Rez told the TImes. "Mechanical things break down, frequently."
"Because this device can scan a human in a few seconds, the X-ray beam is very intense," the California professors` letter states. "Any glitch in power at any point in the hardware (or more importantly in software) that stops the device could cause an intense radiation dose to a single spot on the skin. Who will oversee problems with overall dose after repair or software problems?
"The TSA is already complaining about resolution limitations; who will keep the manufacturers and/or TSA from just raising the dose, an easy way to improve signal-to-noise and get higher resolution?" the professors continue. "Lastly, given the recent [underwear bomber incident], how do we know whether the manufacturer or TSA, seeking higher resolution, will scan the groin area more slowly leading to a much higher total dose?"
The scientists` letter, addressed to Dr. John P. Holdren, assistant to the president for science and technology, concludes, "We urge you to empower an impartial panel of experts to reevaluate the potential health issues we have raised before there are irrevocable long-term consequences to the health of our country. These negative effects may on balance far outweigh the potential benefit of increased detection of terrorists."
November 24, 2010
Tenn. Town Restores Bible Readings at Christmas Celebration
(Christian Post) City officials of a Tennessee town restored the traditional Christmas story reading at its holiday celebration this year.
After a year of silence, residents of Maryville will once again hear the Bible reading of Jesus’ birth at its annual Christmas tree lighting in December. The reading, a 22-year-old tradition in Blount County, was cut last year due to legal concerns.
“We congratulate the city for returning the reading of the Christmas story to its celebration. It is sad when government official[s] censor the essence of Christmas based on misguided opinions of the Constitution,” remarked Liberty Counsel, a Christian litigation and policy organization, in a statement Thursday.
Liberty Counsel became involved in the dispute after the city’s attorney told Maryville officials that the Christmas reading, taken from the book of Luke, was unconstitutional. Maryville attorney Melanie Davis said she had come to that conclusion based on several U.S. Supreme Court decisions.
Maryville Public information Officer Pam Arnett told Blount Today that an individual had contacted the city last year to express concern about the reading.
“The individual was not upset, but was concerned about the separation of church and state,” Arnett told Blount Today.
However, Liberty Counsel Founder Mathew Staver met with Maryville city officials and asserted that the reading is a protected free speech. Banning the reading, he argued, would be unconstitutional.
Staver explained that this case was the result of a misunderstanding of the Constitution. Though the event is sponsored by the city and county governments, the readings are presented by Broadway United Methodist Church.
Staver’s organization sponsors the Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign, which seeks to educate government agencies and privately-run companies about legal ways to celebrate the holiday.
He noted that sometimes Christmas celebrations are banned due to opposition to the Christian faith more than anything else.
“It’s not against Judaism or Islam,” he highlighted. “It’s against Christianity.”
Liberty Counsel was able to resolve the Bible reading in Maryville without resorting to legal action. If the reading had not been reinstated, then Staver and Maryville residents planned to apply for permits to hold a private event where the reading could take place.
Last year, Maryville resident Samuel David Duck read from his own Bible to a crowd of 20 people during the town’s Christmas tree-lighting celebration.
This year’s tree lighting is scheduled for Monday, December 6. Broadway will once again be reading the account of the birth of Christ.
November 24, 2010
New NIV Bible Still Draws Criticisms Over Gender-Related Passages
(Christian Post) An update to the popular NIV Bible that sought to resolve problems over gender-inclusive language found in the controversial TNIV Bible is still drawing criticism from evangelicals.
Publishers of the New International Version, Biblica and Zondervan, debuted an online version of the new NIV Bible earlier this month on Biblica.com and BibleGateway.com. A print version is slated for release March 2011 when the current NIV translation will be discontinued.
In the new NIV Bible, the Committee for Bible Translation – translators of the NIV – put back in some passages masculine pronouns, including "son," "he," "him," "his," "father," and "brother," that had been replaced with gender-neutral terms in the 2005 TNIV (Today`s International Version). The New Testament of the TNIV was released in 2002.
The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, one of the leading critics of the TNIV, of which the new translation was based on, released a statement Friday saying the latest NIV translation showed "significant improvements" over the TNIV but still contained major errors.
"Our initial analysis shows that the new NIV(2011) retains many of the problems that were present in the TNIV, on which it is based, especially with regard to the over 3,600 gender-related problems we previously identified," said CBMW in a statement.
"In spite of the many good changes made, our initial analysis reveals that a large percentage of our initial concerns still remain."
Back in 2002, CBMC released a statement opposing the TNIV that was endorsed by at least 110 ministry leaders, including evangelicals Mark Strauss of Bethel Seminary San Diego and popular author Philip Yancey.
The council acknowledged that some changes like references to “man” and “mankind” instead of a gender-neutral equivalent resulted in greater accuracy in translating the Hebrew or Greek text.
However, CBMW took issue with the CBT`s approach to remedy the gender-neutral dispute in many passages by neither siding with the 1984 NIV nor the TNIV but by taking a middle ground.
In Revelations 3:20, for instance, the CBT did not use masculine singulars (him, he) as found in the NIV nor gender-neutral plurals (them, they) but mixed gender-unspecific singulars and plurals (that person/they).
NIV(1984): Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.
TNIV(2005): Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with them, and they with me.
NIV(2011): Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
The use of plurals in some text will confuse readers and leave pastors and teachers with the "onerous task" of reminding their listeners whether "they" is meant as singular or plural, stated CBMW.
Not all evangelicals are objecting to the revisions in the new NIV Bible.
Darrell L. Bock, Research Professor for New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, told The Christian Post that he believes the newest rendering of the NIV is a "solid translation." Click here to read the entire article.
November 24, 2010
Sen. Barbara Boxer Likens U.S. to Iran, North Korea and Pakistan Because U.S. Bans Homosexuals From Military
(CNSNews) Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) likened the United States of America to Iran, North Korea and Pakistan because those nations also do not allow homosexuals in their militaries.
Boxer likened the U.S.A. to the Communist regime in North Korea, the Islamic regime in Iran and the Pakistani government at a press conference in which she called for repealing the ban on homosexuals in the military during the lameduck session of Congress, which is taking place now before the new members elected on Nov. 2 can arrive in Washington, D.C. and replace the members who are retiring or who were defeated.
“We now stand with this rule with countries like Iran, North Korea and Pakistan in banning gays and lesbians from military service,” said Boxer. “Our brave young men and women fight alongside allies like Australia, the United Kingdom and others who allow gays and lesbians to serve openly. Let’s not stand with Pakistan and with North Korea and Iran.”
The law in question, as CNSNews.com reported previously, is Title 10, U.S. Code Subsection 654. This law states: “The prohibition against homosexual conduct is a long-standing element of military law that continues to be necessary in the unique circumstances of military service.”
It also says that a “member of the armed forces shall be separated from the armed forces if one or more of the following findings is made and approved in accordance with procedures set forth in such regulations.”These include: “That the member has engaged in, attempted to engage in, or solicited another to engage in a homosexual act or acts ...
“That the member has stated that he or she is a homosexual or bisexual, or words to that effect …
“That the member has married or attempted to marry a person known to be of the same biological sex.”
Boxer appeared alongside Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), an Independent who caucuses with the Democrats and who is a prime sponsor of the measure to repeal Title 10, USC 654, which is attached to a Defense authorization bill that passed in the House of Representatives but has yet to pass in the Senate.
President Barack Obama is pressuring Congress to repeal the law in the final weeks of the 111th Congress and before the Republican-dominated House of Representatives comes into power next year. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has stated that he will bring the measure to the floor after Thanksgiving.
November 24, 2010
Petition shows solid opposition to ground zero mosque
(OneNewsNow) A petition with more than 120,000 signatures was recently delivered to the mayor of New York City, urging him to stop the construction of a controversial mosque near the "Ground Zero" site.
In May the grassroots organization ACT! for America started a nationwide petition drive aimed at New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and others, urging them to oppose the construction of the mosque in such close proximity to where the terrorist planes struck in September 2001 and to convince the imams of that mosque to move it to another location.
Brigitte Gabriel is founder and president of ACT! for America and author of the New York Times bestseller They Must Be Stopped: Why We Must Defeat Radical Islam and How We Can Do It. She says the petition was delivered last week to Bloomberg at New York`s city hall.
"I doubt that he personally is going to change his mind," she admits, "but I believe there`s a lot of pressure that`s going to be put on him [and] his office as well as other elected officials in the state of New York because, remember, the petition is not only directed to him."
The terrorism expert says the petition effort would not have been successful without the assistance of other groups -- "like the hard hats, a group of firefighters in New York who are determined not to allow that mosque to be built, [and] the police officers," she emphasizes. "It shows solidarity to Mayor Bloomberg and to the elected officials in New York."
Gabriel, who immigrated to the U.S. from Lebanon in 1989, says all the groups delivering the petition are deeply disturbed by the insensitivity to the families of the victims of the 9/11 jihadist attack exhibited by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and his supporters of the mosque project.
November 24, 2010
Blair says role of religion is key challenge facing world
(Irish Times) The key challenge facing the world “is the role of religion in the public square”, former British prime minister Tony Blair has said. “Is it a force for good or a force for ill? A force for healing or for conflict? A force of reaction or a force for progress?” he asked.
“How these questions are answered will, in many ways, determine the spirit and the events of the 21st century.” Mr Blair was writing in the current edition of the UK Catholic Tablet magazine.
He continued: “We are, understandably, preoccupied with the threat posed to us by violent religious extremism.” But the issue was wider. Even where there was not extremism expressed in violence, “there can be extremism expressed in the idea that a person’s identity is to be found not merely in their religious faith, but in their faith as a means of excluding the other person who does not share it”.
He was “not saying that it is extreme to believe your religious faith is the only true faith. Most people of faith do that. It doesn’t stop them respecting those of a different faith or indeed of no faith.”
Faith was problematic when it became “a way of denigrating those who do not share it as somehow lesser human beings. Faith is then a means of exclusion. God in this connection becomes not universal but partisan, faith not a means of reaching out in friendship but a means of creating or defining enemies.”
The Northern Ireland peace process had taught him “that the tightest of bonds can be loosened over time. Under the right circumstances, courageous and far-sighted individuals can transcend exclusive identities to bring about the unthinkable.”
When it came to religious identities, “intrareligious dialogue is no less important than interreligious dialogue – often a necessary counterpart – and equally difficult, because of real differences”.
Rapid globalisation and revolution in communications made this more difficult. On one hand, “the boundaries of religious faiths are becoming more permeable, and their content more eclectic”, but on the other hand, “they are hardening into a stridently defensive or threateningly aggressive rejection of difference, with hatred and fear as the inevitable consequence”.
In the public square “religion has a right to be heard but not dictated”.
However, in his experience “politics today is inclined to treat religion as something that ought to be a private individual matter. . . a voice of conscience, not of counsel and profound insight.”
The Victorian era “saw an extraordinarily robust vitality in this respect with the building up of . . . religious organisations as safety nets for the poor”. The post second World War boom suggested such organisations had become “superfluous”, yet faith-motivated groups emerged to serve the marginalised.
It seemed to Mr Blair we were moving into a period when interfaith action will come into its own. In that complex context Pope Benedict’s encyclical Caritas in Veritate was “a powerful call . . . that resonates both ecumenically and with the deepest moral sentiments of the different world religions”.
November 24, 2010
`Safe schools czar` may soon be gone
(OneNewsNow) Though Kevin Jennings, the homosexual activist who leads President Obama`s so-called "Safe Schools" office, may be closer to finding himself without a job, it may have more to do with fiscal common sense than it does with his radical agenda.
In a draft version of its proposal, the president`s bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility is recommending, among other things, to eliminate the U.S. Education Department`s Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, which is headed by so-called "safe schools czar" Kevin Jennings. The cut, according to the Commission, would save taxpayers about $1.8 billion over the next several years.
Brian Camenker is founder MassResistance, one of the pro-family groups calling for the removal of Jennings. He says it is good news the Commission has realized that the office has no useful purpose.
"It`s an enormous waste of money, even aside from the destructive aspects of it," Camenker contends. "And it`s possible that a lot of these people on the Commission saw the destructive aspects and were looking for a good reason [to eliminate the office]."
He believes Jennings` goal all along was to promote his radical, pro-homosexual agenda. "The truth is he doesn`t really care that much about violence and drugs; he`s pushing the homosexuality and using [the office] as a front," the pro-family leader suggests.
While he is unsure about whether this recommendation will actually lead to the elimination of Jennings` position, Camenker says his group plans to "use it as a stepping stone to push as hard as we can to get this out."
If 14 of the 18 commission members agree with the proposal, the draft version will be finalized by the first of December.
November 24, 2010
Christie Announces Sweeping N.J. Education Reform
(CBS2) Determined to turn New Jersey’s education system on its head, Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday unveiled a tough-love reform package that will make classroom achievement — not seniority or tenure — the basis for pay hikes and career advancement in Garden State public schools.
Christie is turning his take-no-prisoner’s style to the classroom, demanding a top to bottom overhaul of how New Jersey students learn and teachers teach. And that means undoing tenure, seniority and other union work rules.
“We cannot wait. Your children are sitting in these classrooms today. We cannot wait to make it better,” Christie told CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.
Unqualified teachers will feel the lash. The governor is demanding that teachers in kindergarten through fifth grade actually pass tests in reading and math in order to be certified.
“It might lead to the firing of teachers and principals who hurt our children,” Christie said.
The governor wants to turn the old seniority system inside out and put quality teaching ahead of lack-luster performance. He will:
* Prohibit salary scales based on seniority
* Grant raises based on classroom performance
* Give tenure based on classroom performance
“We are paying a fortune for something that is not giving our children the hope and the feeling that their tomorrow can be better than their future,” Christie said.
The governor said he would appoint a task force to come up with standards to measure teacher achievement.
Educational experts applauded the governor’s actions.
“He is with excellence in education for everyone by prioritizing teachers — their brilliance, their art and their skills. We will dramatically improve the quality of education of our kids in New Jersey, particularly those most in need,” said Derrell Bradford, director of Excellent Education for Everyone.
The governor needs the state Legislature to approve the changes to seniority and tenure. The rest of the things he did by signing executive orders.
A spokesman for the New Jersey Education Association attacked the governor’s plan saying that once again he was “trying to implement education reform without any input from educators.”
November 23, 2010
Disbelief Over Couple`s Poll on Whether to Abort Baby
(Christian Post) A Minnesota couple’s decision to let the public vote on whether or not they should keep their baby has dismayed pro-lifers.
Pete and Alisha Arnold, both 30, have set up the website www.birthornot.com to allow people to place their vote, as well as share their thoughts and see pictures of the fetus – nicknamed “Wiggles” by the pair.
Alisha is already 17 weeks pregnant, meaning that the unborn baby is entering the stage of growth where it is able to suck its thumb and hear voices.
The couple has given the public until December 7 to vote, just two days before the couple reach the legal limit for an abortion in their home state of Minnesota – 20 weeks, a stage at which it is believed babies can experience pain.
The Arnolds, who experienced two miscarriages, say on their website that the public’s vote “will not go unheard.”
“The whole point here is to let people have a real way to voice your opinion on the topic of abortion and have it actually make a difference in the real world,” they say.
The poll has horrified pro-lifers around the world.
Rebecca Ng, of the London-based Pro-Life Alliance, said the website was “horrifying and objectionable.”
“Whatever may or may not be real about this website, the ultrasound of the baby is of a real human being. To think for one minute that his or her experience is going to be determined by those who log on and vote is absolutely spine-chilling,” she said.
At one point, there were more votes for the pair to abort their baby but in the last few days, the site has seen a significant increase in the number of votes for the birth to go ahead after some pro-lifers began rallying people to vote against the abortion.
Out of more than 70,000 votes polled, 56,000 people want the couple to give birth – nearly 80 percent of the votes so far.
Multiple people have even offered to adopt if the vote result is to abort the baby, the couple wrote in their latest update.
Meanwhile, some pro-lifers are choosing to stay away from the poll altogether.
Anthony Ozimic, of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said they were advising people not to vote at all because the entire concept of the poll was “wrong.”
“We are not encouraging people to participate in this vote because the child’s right to life is unshakable regardless of what a poll says and it is simply wrong to subject it to vote. We should refuse to make that choice,” he said.
November 19, 2010
Help stop the UN resolution that condones persecution of Christians
(Open Doors) The UN is voting on the Defamation of Religions Resolution which criminalizes words or actions perceived as attacks against a religion.
I am writing to ask you to take action to help prevent passage of the UN Defamation of Religions resolution. (link to actual doc) This resolution, sponsored by the Organization of Islamic Conference states, seeks to criminalize words or actions perceived as attacks against a religion, with the focus being on protecting Islam. The resolution seeks to protect ideas instead of individuals undermining the true purpose of international human rights law. It also legitimizes national blasphemy laws used by countries such as Pakistan to silence Christians and other religious minorities, as well as Muslims who do not conform to the government`s ideas.... + see full message
The resolution infringes on both freedom of speech and freedom of religion. As Secretary Clinton stated in her remarks releasing the annual International Religious Freedom report of 2009, "Based on our own experience, we are convinced that the best antidote to intolerance is not the defamation of religion`s approach of banning and punishing offensive speech, but rather, a combination of robust legal protections against discrimination and hate crimes, proactive government outreach to minority religious groups, and the vigorous defense of both freedom of religion and expression." If the defamation of religions resolution passes, it effectively results in the UN condoning state-sponsored persecution of Christians and members of other minority faith groups.
While Defamation of Religions Resolutions have been introduced and passed previously, it will likely be up again this year for a vote. The resolution lost support in the UN General Assembly vote during the last couple of years and we think this year may be the tipping point. We need to encourage key countries to change their vote on this resolution, supporting the efforts of our State Department. They are very receptive to pressure from federal legislators, particularly countries that receive U.S. foreign aid. That is why I`m asking you to reach out to this list of targeted countries by phone or through a letter, asking them to change their vote on the Defamation of Religions Resolution. The 3rd Committee vote will likely take place in November, followed by the UN GA vote in December.
....Please contact the Open Doors USA Advocacy Director, Lindsay Vessey, for additional information. LindsayV@odusa.org
To learn more, you can also view the briefing paper below. Thank you for helping to protect freedom of religion and expression!
Target Countries who abstained from the 2009 General Assembly vote are: Belize, Brazil, Cameroon, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ghana, Guatemala, and Zambia. Target countries who voted "Yes" on the resolution are: Dominican Republic and Thailand.
Cameroon Amb. Michel Tommo Monthe, email@example.com Phone 212-794-2295, Fax 212-249-0533
Federal appeals court approves broadcast of Proposition 8 arguments
(Mercury News) A federal appeals court is allowing C-Span and KGO TV to televise the Dec. 6 arguments in the legal challenge to California`s ban on same-sex marriage.
In a brief order today, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals approved the cable television channel`s request to broadcast the two-hour hearing, and issued a separate order also allowing KGO TV to televise the proceedings live.
The 9th Circuit is hearing arguments in the appeal of a federal judge`s order this summer invalidating Proposition 8, the state`s voter-approved ban on gay marriage.
Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker found that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional because it violates the equal protection rights of gay and lesbian couples seeking the right to marry. Proposition 8 supporters have appealed that decision.
Walker attempted to allow the broadcast of January`s trial in the Proposition 8 case, but his experiment was blocked by the U.S. Supreme Court. Federal appeals courts have broader latitude to allow cameras in civil cases, and the 9th Circuit has periodically approved such requests in the past.
November 19, 2010
Vallejo Parents Upset About Same-Sex Curriculum
(NBC) Whether they like it or not, parents in Vallejo are going to have to deal with their children learning about same-sex rights.
Angry parents in the Vallejo Unified School District packed the district`s office Wednesday evening to protest a plan to teach grade school children a course that depicts gay relationships.
Officials from the Vallejo Unified School District told parents they do not have the right to opt out of a lesson plan designed to promote tolerance.
The controversy involves three movies that are scheduled to be shown to students from kindergarten through the fifth grade that talk about same-sex relationships.
The district was ordered by a court in May 2009 to get ready to discuss the sensitive issues.
The ACLU filed suit against the district on behalf of an openly gay student who says she was being harassed by teachers and staff for being gay.
The student won the suit and now the district is required to hold mandatory training, which includes showing the controversial videos to students.
At issue is the district not allowing parents to opt out from having their children watch the videos. Parents say they have the right to control what their children learn but the videos are being shown.
District Superintendant Floyd Gonella disagrees in this case.
"We do not feel that this is an area that students can opt out and we feel this is an area we don`t have to give prior notification," he said.
But Karen England with the Capitol Resource institute said "no where in the state law does it prohibit you as a school board from doing an opt in policy."
November 19, 2010
Some Christians Still Denounce Harry Potter as Dangerous
(Christian Post) Another Harry Potter film hits theaters everywhere Friday and Steve Wohlberg, author of the new book Exposing Harry Potter and Witchcraft: The Menace Beneath the Magic, strongly advises against seeing it.
Wohlberg, a bestselling author, expressed his concern to The Christian Post. He said the trend toward witchcraft, vampirism, and occultism among teens has rapidly increased since the Harry Potter Craze began in 1997 in the United Kingdom. Written by J.K. Rowling, the Harry Potter series explores sorcery, witchcraft, and Wicca, noted Wohlberg.
He outlined his discoveries of evil themes in the series.
“The more I read the books, the more I realized how spiritually dangerous the material is,” he said. “Even though it’s fiction there is a lot of reality woven in it. My warning is that Harry Potter is a major contributor to Wicca."
Wohlberg also argued that although Rowling claims that there are Christian themes in the seven-part series, the author is being used as a channel for evil.
“To me she is just like Eve, not realizing she has become a channel for the devil, she is not aware of it,” he said.
Since the beginning of the Harry Potter craze, several Christian and religious leaders have come out denouncing the series. Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, was one of them, along with Pope Benedict XVI, who voiced fears in 2003 – then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger – that the "subtle seductions" contained in the Potter series could "corrupt the Christian faith" in impressionable young children.
Wohlberg has seen the negative effects of the fantasy novels and films on young people.
In his book, he gives several personal accounts of people who have dabbled in witchcraft specifically because of Harry Potter. Teenagers, he explained, are vulnerable to these themes because they are fascinated with the message that magic gives you power. He gives accounts of teens at bookstores on the day of the release of a new Harry Potter book, describing how they have “the book in one hand, and a wicca book in the other.”
Wohlberg wants to remind them of a greater power.
“God has power far superior to witchcraft – power of love and eternal life,” he said.
Wolhberg has published more than 25 books denouncing the Harry Potter series as well as the Twilight series – another wildly popular novel series among youths.
The author emphasized the role that parents must play in assisting their children to steer away from the culture of witchcraft and cults.
He cited Proverbs 22:6: “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”
(OneNewsNow) More GOP voices in the Senate will likely mean greater opposition to any plans President Obama has to have that chamber ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, but a law professor thinks more should be done to protect parents` constitutional rights.
Dr. William Wagner, professor at Cooley Law School and vice-president of ParentalRights.org, tells OneNewsNow he has never seen a greater threat against the rights of parents.
"This sacred, inalienable right of a parent to protect their children through the decisions they make in the best interest of their child has never been more at risk than it is right now in this country," he laments.
Even though he does not believe the U.N. treaty will be ratified, its danger will be looming. So he decides the best course of action is amending the Constitution to include "something that has always been a right in this nation, and that is a right of a parent to control and direct the upbringing of a child, and thereby protect their child."
Dr. Wagner believes that is a crucial step because federal judges are feeling embolden to usurp parents` authority as they "are citing international law and international precedence, and again, even citing this treaty as authority to affirm federal action or affirm government decisions on behalf of their children."
ParentalRights.org anticipates 156 co-sponsors in the House on the proposed parental rights amendment when the 112th Congress convenes in January.
November 19, 2010
Planned Parenthood seeking to lower age of sexual consent to 14 in Peru
(LifeSiteNews) The International Planned Parenthood Federation is promoting a new bill in Peru that would lower the age of sexual consent to 14 years of age, provoking outrage from pro-family groups and warnings that the country could be converted into a "sexual paradise" for child predators.
While the bill`s proponents claim that the law is necessary to prevent teens from being prosecuted for consensual sexual intercourse, opponents say that it will increase the level of sexual activity among teens, who rarely have sexual relations in conservative Peru, and open them up to easy exploitation by adults.
"Approving this law as it is seems to me to be absurd and silly," said Archbishop José Antonio Eguren of Piura in a recent statement. "In the first place, the statistics of the Peruvian government indicate that fewer than 15% of adolescents arrive at 18 years of age having engaged in sexual activity. Do we want this number to increase? Do we want the sexual relations of adolescents to increase and therefore elevate the number of pregnancies in our young people?"
The Archbishop is also concerned that the law will "give license to unscrupulous people who can take advantage of minors who are not sufficiently mature to understand the magnitude of their sexuality," and states that "approving this law runs the enormous risk of converting our country into a `sexual paradise` for tourists interested in child and adolescent prostitution. Is this the image of Peru that we want to give to the world?"
The new bill is being introduced as the Obama administration is helping to bombard the country with an estimated 18,000,000 condoms, a measure that is being decried as an act of subversion against the sexual morality of Peruvian youth.
Carlos Polo, the director of the South America office of the Population Research Institute, told LSN that the real purpose of the measure seems to the promotion of business interests that will profit from increased promiscuity among teens.
"The biggest beneficiaries of the decriminalization of sexual relations between adolescents are the businesses who sell contraceptives," said Polo. "The segment of the population between 14 and 18 years, which the bill is targeting, would be a succulent business for these companies, which is why the unusual `enthusiasm` of the promoters of this bill seems suspicious."
The bill, which was approved by the "Justice and Human Rights Committee" of the Peruvian Senate earlier this month, has now passed to the full legislature for its approval. It is being supported by the International Planned Parenthood Federation`s branch in Peru, which is called the Peruvian Institute for Responsible Parenthood (INPPARES).
Embassy of Peru in the United States 1700 Massachusetts Ave., N.W Washington D.C. 20036 Driving Directions Telephone: (202) 833-9860 to 9869 Fax: (202) 659-8124
Embassy of Peru in Canada 130 Albert Street, Suite 1901 Ottawa K1P5G4 Ontario, Canada Phone: +1-613-238-1777 Fax: +1-613-232-3062 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Embassy of Peru in the United Kingdom 52 Sloane Street, London SW1X 9SP Tel: 00 44 20 7235 1917, 0207235 2545 Fax: 00 44 20 7235 4463 Email: email@example.com
November 19, 2010
Parents Angry after Teacher Outburst
(Family Research Council) Sometimes the biggest bullies in class are the ones teaching it. That was the unfortunate case in Howell, Michigan, where an out-of-control economics teacher booted two students from class after he provoked a discussion about homosexuality. Jay McDowell, who was suspended for a day by the school district, asked 16-year-old Daniel Glowacki if he "accepted gays." Daniel replied that it was against his religion.
According to student accounts, his response sent McDowell into a blind rage that included "yelling, slamming doors, name-calling" and kicking two Catholics from his class. When Howell Superintendent Ron Wilson met with McDowell, Jay threatened to take the issue to the national media if his teaching suspension wasn`t reversed. Wilson refused.
Since then, the school has been flooded with cameras and more than 1,000 emails, most of them hate-filled. The District was so inundated with negative press that it felt compelled to release the student witness accounts to the media. "It is ironic," Wilson said, "that the very people who say they oppose violence and bullying are using these same tactics to intimidate our elected officials and staff." He went on to make the point FRC has made since day one. "Jay McDowell himself bullied students who offered an opinion different than his own..." We oppose all bulling of young people--by their peers or by teachers--regardless of the reason. In this instance, Americans are starting to see the homosexual agenda for what it is: one-sided tolerance. "[McDowell] and his supporters," said the Superintendent, "have succeeded in painting our schools as having bigoted, racist, and homophobic students, and the media has served as an unwitting partner." As our friend Brent Bozell points out, it`s a partnership that is growing deeper by the day.
November 19, 2010
Parents Television Council Study Helps Parents Protect Children from Online Video
(Parents Television Council) Most people in America today have watched some form of Internet video. This new entertainment media technology is providing the platform to deliver all manner of media directly into our homes…and with it comes new ways for children to access inappropriate content. Internet video can render existing parental control devices ineffective and perhaps even obsolete.
That’s why every parent must learn about – and must care about – online video policies and practices. The PTC’s new study aims at helping every parent understand how to protect children from being exposed to inappropriate and graphic content online. ►more
►For the PTC’s previous study of YouTube, click here.
November 19, 2010
Marriage is the Best Road to Take
(Family Research Council) The media is putting an anti-marriage, anti-traditional family spin on a new study from the Pew Research Center. Based on census data and a new poll, it`s titled, "The Decline of Marriage and Rise of New Families." An AP story is headlined, "Four in 10 say marriage is becoming obsolete." The Express (published by the Washington Post) says, "Americans are rapidly accepting the view that nuptials aren`t needed to have a family." There`s certainly reason for concern about some trends--such as the increase in the percentage of births that occur out of wedlock from 5% in 1960 to 41% in 2008. But some of this analysis is distorted. A decline in the percentage of adults who are married is largely because people delay marriage, not because they forego it altogether.
Two thirds of Americans are "optimistic" about the institutions of marriage and the family--far fewer say that about schools, the economy, or "morals and ethics." And according to the study, plenty of young people still value marriage. Only 5% of Americans under 30 don`t plan on tying the knot. The research is still clear: married husbands and wives, and their children, are happier, healthier, and more prosperous than people in any other household setting.
November 19, 2010
Town OKs right of noncitizens to vote in local elections
(Boston.com) Brookline Town Meeting members voted last night to give noncitizens who are legal residents the right to vote in local elections. Brookline residents with a green card would be able to vote for town offices, including the School Committee, Town Meeting, and Board of Selectmen, under terms of the proposal, which must be approved by the Legislature. Town Meeting members voted in favor by a show of hands. Other communities, including Amherst and Cambridge, have passed similar proposals, only to see them stall in the State House. The Brookline proposal would not allow noncitizens to vote in state or national elections and would not allow them to run for office.
November 19, 2010
Medicare Chief Berwick Ducks Question of Whether Obamacare Redistributes Wealth
(CNSNews) Dr. Donald Berwick, the head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), declined to answer a reporter`s question on Wednesday about whether the health-care law signed in March redistributes wealth, something that Berwick in the past has insisted is a necessary element of any "just" health care system.
In 2008, Berwick gave a speech in which he said a "just" and "humane" health care funding plan "must redistribute wealth from the richer among us to the poorer and the less fortunate."
The hearing attended by Berwick, who received a recess appointment from President Barack Obama and thus bypassed the normal Senate confirmation process, was the first in which he was called upon to answer questions from senators since he assumed his post at CMS in July.
After the hearing, CNSNews.com tried to ask Dr. Berwick about controversial statements he has made about the nature of health care financing.
On July 1, 2008, for example, Berwick told an audience at the 60th anniversary of the British National Health Service in England, “[A]ny health care funding plan that is just, equitable, civilized and humane must--must--redistribute wealth from the richer among us to the poorer and less fortunate. Excellent health care is by definition redistributional.”
As Berwick was exiting the Senate Finance Committee’s antechambers, CNSNews.com attempted to ask him whether he thought the new health care law pushed by the Obama administration redistributed wealth.
CNSNews.com: “Dr. Berwick, on the 60th Anniversary of Britain’s National Health Service you said that –”
Dr. Berwick: “I’m sorry I’ve got to go.”
CNSNews.com: “Can I ask you a question?”
Dr. Berwick: “I’m sorry, sir, I’ve got to go.”
CNSNews.com: “Does ObamaCare redistribute wealth the way you said?”
Dr. Berwick: “I’m sorry, sir.”
November 19, 2010
Obama Administration Finalizes New Rules on ‘Equal Visitation Rights’ for Same-Sex Partners of Hospital Patients
(CNSNews) In another bow to the homosexual community, the Obama administration on Wednesday issued news rules for hospitals that participate in Medicare and Medicaid: Patients must be allowed to say who may visit them, and that includes same-sex partners.
The new rules stem from President Obama’s directive of April 15, 2010, in which he instructed the Department of Health and Human Services to develop rules for Medicare- and Medicaid-participating hospitals that would prohibit those hospitals from denying visitation on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.
The president said the rules must also take into account the need for a hospital to restrict visitation in medically appropriate circumstances.
Homosexual advocacy groups have complained about same-sex partners being barred from the hospital rooms by relatives or even by hospital personnel who frown on homosexuality.
“Basic human rights—such as your ability to choose your own support system in a time of need—must not be checked at the door of America’s hospitals,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Wednesday, after the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued the new rules.
“Today’s rules help give ‘full and equal’ rights to all of us to choose whom we want by our bedside when we are sick, and override any objection by a hospital or staffer who may disagree with us for any non-clinical reason.”
The rules require hospitals to have written policies and procedures detailing patients’ visitation rights, as well as the circumstances under which the hospitals may restrict visitors based on reasonable clinical needs.
Among other things, the rules will require hospitals to explain to all patients their right to choose who may visit them during their inpatient stay, regardless of whether the visitor is a family member, a spouse, a domestic partner (including a same-sex domestic partner), as well as their right to withdraw such consent to visitation at any time.
“These rules put non-clinical decisions about who can visit a patient out of the hands of those who deliver care and into the hands of those who receive it,” said CMS Administrator Donald Berwick.
“While we still have miles to go in making care more patient-centered, these rules make it easier for hospitals to deliver on some of the fundamental tenets of patient-centered care—care that recognizes and respects the patient as an individual with unique needs, who treated with dignity and granted the power of informed choice.”
As CNSNews.com previously reported, the new rules won`t change much. Hospital officials and family advocacy groups told CNSNews.com that federal and state laws already allow individuals to name whomever they want as a medical decision-maker; and most hospitals allow patients to have whatever visitors they wish.
“Frankly, I’d be surprised if you find any hospital that tells you they only allow family members to visit the patients,” Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Council, told CNSNews.com in April.
November 18, 2010
Iowa and Maryland pro-life groups determined to keep out late-term abortionist
(LifeSiteNews) Pro-life groups in two of the states where late-term abortionist Leroy Carhart has announced plans to open new abortion facilities are determined to block Carhart’s expansion efforts.
Carhart was forced to close his late-term abortion business in Bellvue, Nebraska after that state passed Legislative Bill 1103, a law that prohibits elective abortions after 20 weeks gestation on the basis that science definitively shows an unborn child feels pain at that age.
Last week, Carhart announced he plans to have three new abortion facilities up and running by January, with one in the Maryland-D.C. area, and another in Council Bluffs, Iowa, both offering late-term abortions. He is also acquiring an Indianapolis abortion clinic, which specializes only in early-term abortions.
Carhart, one of a few late-term abortionists in the U.S., told the Des Moines Register there is "certainly a need" for his specialty and noted that the locations of the new facilities "are where the laws are favorable for us to do the practice that I need to do."
Iowa law allows abortion after the second trimester if a doctor determines the grisly procedure is necessary to "preserve the life or health" of the woman.
"Obviously, Carhart sees that as a big loophole or he wouldn`t be planning to come here," said Jenifer Bowen, executive director of Iowa Right to Life.
Vowing to fight Carhart`s plan, Bowen said, “I can say with confidence that the majority of Iowans do not want ours to be seen as a safe haven state for a late-term abortionist. Our growing pro-life coalition of more than five dozen state and national organizations and individuals will continue to strengthen in unity. Such a clear message will be sent to LeRoy Carhart in the coming weeks, both from the groundswell of pro-lifers and our pro-life legislators set to head into session in January, that this will become the last place Carhart will want to move.”
Maggie DeWitte, executive director of Iowans for Life, added that with the surge of pro-life politicians recently elected in the state, "We have a real opportunity this session, as opposed to past years."
Maryland Right to Life executive director Angela Martin said her group is concerned that the lack of regulation may make Maryland a haven for late-term abortion and that Carhart`s plan to open his abortuary will add to the state`s already high abortion rate.
Martin stated in a press release that Maryland has one of the most permissive abortion laws in the U.S., and has the third highest abortion rate of the 50 states.
"It has never banned partial-birth abortion and is one of just 16 states to have no meaningful parental involvement statute for minors seeking abortions," Martin said.
"Maryland is one of only five states that voluntarily pays for elective abortions with state Medicaid funds, one of just four states that does not collect any data on abortions, and the only state in the country to give civil immunity to abortionists who fail to obtain proper informed consent."
“We commend Nebraska for taking a stand against late-term abortion, which endangers women’s health and causes unborn babies unimaginable pain,” said Martin. “By failing to hold abortion facilities and providers to even minimum standards of medical care, Maryland has become a haven for purveyors of this grisly and inhuman procedure.”
November 18, 2010
Aid Group Urges Prayer as Haiti`s Cholera Death Toll Passes 900
(Christian Post) Cholera has claimed nearly 1,000 deaths in Haiti, the government reported Sunday.
The outbreak continues to devastate the Caribbean nation that is still recovering from the 7.0-magnitude earthquake from early this year.
According to the Haitian Ministry of Health, 917 people have died from cholera and more than 14,000 have been hospitalized.
"First the earthquake, then the cholera outbreak, and now ... severe weather here. All of it is testing the limits of Haiti," said Sabrina Pourmand-Nolen, World Vision`s emergency program director in Haiti, in an earlier statement.
Cholera, caused by a particular bacterial infection, is most likely to occur in places where there is limited access to clean water or sanitation is poor. Flooding from Hurricane Tomas earlier this month exacerbated sanitary conditions in Haiti.
Aid groups have largely been focusing on prevention through hygiene education and soap distribution.
Bright Hope is utilizing its indigenous church network and partners in Haiti to educate the Haitian community on sanitary measures that can prevent further outbreaks.
The network is also distributing rehydration supplies and medicines.
According to Bright Hope, the main treatment for Cholera is oral rehydration therapy, which can be achieved through a solution of salt, sugar and clean water, given in large doses.
"Please keep the Haitian people in your prayers as they face yet another life threatening challenge," President Craig H. Dyer said in a public appeal.
November 18, 2010
Lead in reusable grocery bags prompts call for federal inquiry
(USA Today) Lead found in some reusable grocery bags is raising concerns that the toxin could pose environmental or health concerns to consumers.
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., is asking for a federal investigation into the reusable bags following a series by The Tampa Tribune. The newspaper found lead in bags purchased at Winn-Dixie, Publix, Sweetbay, Walmart and Target.
Reusable bags are often sold by retailers and used by consumers instead of plastic bags. They may be canvas or made of recycled plastic. In some areas, consumers are charged a fee if they use a plastic bag from a store.
The concern is that lead in bags could cause environmental problems in landfills or leach into food products that are kept in them.
"Federal agencies need to put a ban in place for reusable bags that have lead in them," Schumer said in a statement. In a letter asking the Food and Drug Administration to open an investigation into the issue, he says, "Any situation where lead bags are coming into contact with the food being purchased by Americans needs to be immediately investigated and resolved."
Retailers already are taking action. Publix Super Markets and Winn-Dixie are asking suppliers to make reusable bags with less lead, according to Schumer. Wegmans Food Market in September said it was halting sales of some bags. Wegmans is a 77-store chain with supermarkets in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia and Maryland.
Reusable grocery bags make up 10% to 15% of the market, and could become as much of 25%, says Jack Horst, a grocery specialist for retail consulting specialist Kurt Salmon Associates in Atlanta.
He says concerns also have been raised about E. coli contamination in bags. "Lead may be the least of concerns," Horst says. "If you put a hunk of meat in one of these bags and it drips, God knows what`s going on in your reusable bag."
Consumer groups have been raising awareness for months about lead in grocery bags. On Sept. 10, Wegmans announced it would stop selling two designs because testing suggested they may have elevated lead levels. "Customers can continue to safely use both of these designs," Jo Natale, director of media relations, said in a statement. "The eventual disposal of the bags is the only issue, from an environmental perspective."
San Francisco bans large grocery stores from using non-recyclable and non-biodegradable plastic bags. Washington, D.C., has a 5-cent tax on plastic or paper bags at grocery stores. "The concern is both (health and environmental)," says Judy Braiman, president of the Empire State Consumer Project, a non-profit that tests products for toxins.
November 18, 2010
Q&A With Virginia Attorney General: State`s Lawsuit Against Obamacare ‘Is Not About Health Insurance, It’s About Liberty’
(CNSNews) Virginia Atty. Gen. Ken Cuccinelli told CNSNews.com that the lawsuit his state has filed against the health-care reform law signed by President Barack Obama in March is about preserving the liberty of individual Americans against a federal government that is over-reaching its legitimate constitutional authority.
“One thing people need to realize about this case: It’s not about health insurance, it’s about liberty,” Cuccinelli said in an “Online With Terry Jeffrey” interview. “That’s what this case is about. It’s about the outer limits of federal power under the Constitution. You can take health insurance out of this case and you can put Chevy Equinoxes in, and it’s the same case. And, look, I own a Chevy Equinox, but you don’t want the federal government ordering you to buy a Chevy Equinox.”
Cuccinelli filed a federal lawsuit against Obamacare on March 23, the same day the president signed the health-care reform bill into law. The suit challenges the notion that the federal constitution gives the U.S. Congress the power to enact laws forcing Americans to buy things they do not want to buy. According to the Congressional Budget Office, prior to enactment of Obamacare the federal government had never before ordered Americans to buy any good or service.
Virginia has enacted its own law that states that residents of the state cannot be forced by health insurance--a state statute that directly contradicts the insurance mandate in Obamacare.
U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson, who serves on the U.S. District Court in Richmond, Va., heard arguments on the merits of Virginia’s lawsuit in October. Hudson has said he will rule on those merits by the end of the year—opening the possibility that Obamacare could be struck down as unconstitutional at the district court level before New Year’s Day. Cuccinelli told CNSNews.com that no matter which way the district judge rules, the case will be appealed by one side or the other to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. From there, it will inevitably be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Cuccinelli said he expects the case to reach the high court in about two years.
Supreme Court: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Will Stay, For Now
(Christian Post) The U.S. Supreme Court has decided to allow the 1993 law against homosexuals serving in the military to stand while a constitutional challenge to the ban wends its way through the federal appeals process.
The Log Cabin Republicans, a homosexual GOP lobby, had filed an emergency request with the high court to reinstate a federal judge’s worldwide injunction against the military’s enforcement of the ban (commonly referred by the same name as a Pentagon enforcement policy called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”.)
A three-judge panel of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled that the ban should stay in place for the appeals process, and ordered a stay on U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips’s October order mandating the military allow homosexuals to enlist and forbidding military discharges of open homosexuals.
The Obama Administration argued that the court should deny the Log Cabin Republicans request on the basis that a court-ordered end to DADT would have harmful effects on the U.S. military and hamper an “orderly” transition.
“The military should not be required to suddenly and immediately restructure a major personnel policy that has been in place for years, particularly during a time when the nation is involved in combat operations overseas,” stated Clifford L. Stanley, under-secretary of defense for personnel readiness, in a document supporting the government’s case.
“Overall, an abrupt change - without adequate planning or time to implement a plan - substantially increases the probability of failure or backlash in the early months of this transition, months that will be critical to our long-term success.”
According to the Associated Press, the high court issued its order keeping the 9th Circuit’s stay in place without comment. The AP also noted that Associate Justice Elena Kagan did not participate. Kagan was US Solicitor General for President Obama before she was tapped for the U.S. Supreme Court.
"Judge Phillips has once again been rebuked for her efforts to anoint herself Commander-in-Chief," said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, a former U.S. Marine. "I am gratified that two higher courts have now recognized the importance of judicial deference to Congress, the President and military leaders in setting policy for the armed forces. I hope, and remain confident, that they will do the same in ruling on the merits of this case."
The report of the Pentagon’s Comprehensive Review Working Group (CRWG) on DADT is scheduled for release on December 1, but has already generated controversy since its findings were leaked to the press.
The report has been criticized by Perkins as overtly biased toward repeal.
"We have criticized this study from the outset because the CRWG was forbidden to explore the central question before the country - not how to implement a repeal of the current law, but whether doing so is in the best interest of the armed forces,” Perkins said in response to news of the leak.
He also objected that no U.S. servicemen or their spouses were ever given the opportunity to answer whether they believed the law should be kept in place or overturned.
Currently only the U.S. House of Representatives has passed a repeal of DADT. The Senate will likely face a vote on DADT’s repeal during the lame-duck session. Passage of the bill so far has been blocked thanks to a GOP filibuster led by Vietnam veteran Sen. John McCain, although the strength of his coalition will likely be tested by the CRWG’s report in December, when the Senate is sure to have another vote.
November 17, 2010
Christian Apologist: Atheist Ads Criticizing Bible `Ridiculous` Yet `Effective`
(Christian Post) A Christian apologist at Biola University responded Thursday to a new atheist ad campaign that criticizes the Bible, saying it is "ridiculous" for humanists to lecture on morality without God in the picture.
"They are trying to show that they can be good without God but that`s ridiculous," said Dr. Craig Hazen, founder and director on Biola`s MA program on Christian Apologetics, in an interview with The Christian Post.
"How do you get an ought from an is?" posed Hazen. "The concept of good has no meaning in the humanist worldview. How in the world can they understand good and evil, pleasure and suffering, when they believe that the creation of this world is random?"
Earlier this week, the American Humanist Association launched a national campaign that directly challenges the Bible and the Quran. In the ads, excerpts of both holy texts are portrayed in a negative light as a way to show the humanist approach to topics like women, homosexuality, and war as being more moral.
In one of the AHA video ads, an actor portraying a pastor cites 1 Timothy 2:12 saying, "I do not allow women to teach or have authority over a man. She must be silent." The video clip, which can be viewed on the "Consider Humanism" campaign website, is followed by a quote from 19th century freethinker Robert Ingersoll, stating that "the rights of men and women should be equal and sacred" and that "marriage is a perfect partnership."
However, the ads take the Bible verses out of context and don`t paint an accurate picture of Christianity, according to Hazen. Citing Ephesians, he said the Bible is not misogynist but teaches that husbands should love their wives like Christ loved the church.
"Men are supposed to love their wives as Christ loved the church and giving themselves over to death for her," said Hazen. "That doesn`t sound like subjugation but that sounds like deep love anyone would want."
"They are simply assuming the Bible is misogynist and homophobic without doing the careful work that Bible historians do," added the Christian scholar. "They are trying to set the rules for the discussion but they don’t actually want to hear the arguments."
The current AHA ad campaign is the not the first time the atheistic organization has attempted to increase its membership but it is the first in which the ads directly assault the Bible. Last year, the group ran a holiday campaign under the slogan “No God? No Problem!” on bus ads across the nation.
AHA director Roy Speckhardt said this year`s campaign seeks to recruit atheists and agnostics who might want to join his organization instead of a church.
One video ad also features the renowned atheist Richard Dawkins giving the humanist take on intelligence. His quote is paired with a Bible verse from Proverbs 3:5, which calls on believers to trust in the Lord and not lean on their own understanding.
The campaign, comprised of broadcast, print publication and public transportation ads, will include a television spot on NBC Dateline on Friday and print ads in major newspapers like USA Today, the Seattle Times, the Atlanta Journal Constitution and the San Francisco Chronicle.
Although Hazen said humanists have no business interpreting the Bible, he concluded that the ads may have some resonance due to the biblical illiteracy among Christians today. Some Christians may see these ads and think, “Yeah, we have to be more tolerant, open or good,” he said.
"Unfortunately, it`s effective," commented Hazen. "It`s an indictment on general Christian education but it turns out we`ve got the goods in terms of excellent thinking and response to campaigns like this."
Hazen said public interest in Christian apologetics has been growing, especially at Biola in Southern California, and hopes the school’s graduate program can train more "clear thinking" Christians to defend their faith in the public square.
November 12, 2010
Prayer for Leaders
(Family Research Council) Given the seemingly incessant scandal, ethical wavering, and lack of moral backbone in Washington today, it`s no surprise that politicians are generally not held in high esteem. What is surprising is that politicians are not held up nearly enough in prayer. Whereas the Bible instructs us that "supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, [should] be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority," (1 Timothy 2:1-2), I pledge to pray for America`s elected officials at least once per week.
Recently Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) has come under attack from both left wing groups and establishment Republicans because he has refused to waver in his defense of the family. When liberals gang up on a principled leader, doing what is right can seem like a lonely effort.
Planned Parenthood received $349.6 million in tax dollars
(CNSNews) Planned Parenthood received $349.6 million in tax dollars in the fiscal year ending on June 30, 2008, and it paid its president, Cecile Richards, $385,163, plus another $11,876 in benefits and deferred compensation.
According to a “fact sheet” published by the organization, Planned Parenthood Affiliate Health Centers performed 324,008 abortions in 2008.
Planned Parenthood’s fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2008 is the latest year for which the organization has publicly released an annual report and published the annual sum of grants and contracts it received from the government.
The $385,163 in pay Planned Parenthood President Richards received in the organization’s fiscal year ending June 30, 2008 was recorded in the group’s publicly available Internal Revenue Service Form 990 filed for that year.
Richards also received $346,285 in total compensation from Planned Parenthood and $38,476 in total compensation from related groups in the organization’s fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2009, according to the organization’s Form 990 for that year.
Planned Parenthood did not respond to repeated inquiries from CNSNews.com about Cecile Richards’ compensation.
In January 2009, Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) introduced legislation to defund Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers that receive taxpayer funding. His bill, H.R. 614, would amend the Public Health Service Act to prohibit “providing any federal family planning assistance to an entity unless the entity certifies that, during the period of such assistance, the entity will not perform, and will not provide any funds to any other entity that performs an abortion.”
“Congressman Pence will continue to fight for the unborn and intends to reintroduce his legislation to defund Planned Parenthood this coming Congress,” Mary Vought, press secretary for the House Republican Congress, told CNSNews.com.
The bill was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on Jan. 21, 2009 where it has since languished.
November 12, 2010
Focus on the Family Picks Up `Day of Truth`
(Christian Post) Focus on the Family announced on Thursday that it is the new sponsor of the "Day of Truth," except now the ministry has changed the name to the "Day of Dialogue."
"After Exodus stepped away, we wanted to make sure the program was continued," Gary Schneeberger, vice president of communications for Focus on the Family, told The Christian Post. "We consider it valuable and believe in what the program stands for – which is making sure more than one perspective on the issue (homosexuality) is heard in schools."
Last month, Exodus International, which provides support for those with unwanted homosexual desires, said it would no longer sponsor the Day of Truth because of the "adversarial" tone it came to take on.
The Day of Truth was established by the Alliance Defense Fund in 2005 to "counter the promotion of the homosexual agenda and express an opposing viewpoint from a Christian perspective." It was launched in response to the "Day of Silence" – an initiative of the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Educational Network – which encourages students to remain silent throughout the day. The annual event was designed to "illustrate the silencing effect" that bullying and harassment has on LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) students.
Exodus had supported the Day of Truth for four years and spearheaded the effort for one year. Its announcement last month to end its support came in the wake of a string of teen suicides. In September alone, four youths who were believed to have been victims of anti-gay bullying, ended their lives.
As the new sponsor of the initiative, Focus on the Family is taking some precaution.
Schneeberger stressed that the Colorado Springs-based evangelical group has zero tolerance for bullying of any kind and makes that clear to participating students. And it is asking students not to speak in ways that are condemning, antagonistic, dismissive or demeaning when engaging in dialogue about homosexuality.
"The reality is, God created all of us in His image," Schneeberger noted.
While urging students to reflect Christ`s image of love and compassion, Focus on the Family also encourages them to express their faith-based viewpoints.
"We`re trying to raise awareness that more than one side needs to be heard on the issue of homosexuality, and we`re helping to ensure Christian students have the chance to express their viewpoint," said Candi Cushman, education analyst for Focus on the Family and head of TrueTolerance.org, in a statement. "What is freedom of speech, after all, but a guarantee of the right to have dialogue?"
"Silence is a media op, but dialogue is a learning op," she stated. "That`s why we`re so proud of the more than 14,000 students who have taken advantage of this opportunity to learn and share."
Regarding the name change from Day of Truth to Day of Dialogue, Schneeberger underscored that the organization isn`t asking students to back down on biblical truth.
Rather, the new name is simply more accurate, he said.
"The event was created as a response to the Day of Silence. The opposite [of silence] is dialogue. And to have dialogue is not to abandon truth," he explained.
Focus on the Family`s main role in sponsoring the event is to equip students with information about God`s design for sexuality – that is in the context of marriage between a man and a woman – and to provide guidelines on how to articulate that respectfully.
The Day of Dialogue is scheduled for April 18, 2011, and is designed for high school and college students.
The Alliance Defense Fund provides legal assistance to students whose free speech rights are violated.
November 12, 2010
Leroy Carhart Forced to Move Late-Term Abortion Business out of Nebraska
(LifeSiteNews) Late-term abortionist Leroy Carhart has announced he will attempt to set up shop in three different states in order to continue performing late-term abortions that are now illegal under a new Nebraska law.
Carhart says he plans to have three new abortion facilities up and running by January with one in the Maryland-D.C. area, and another in Council Bluffs, Iowa offering late-term abortions. He also is acquiring an Indianapolis abortion clinic, which specializes only in early-term abortions.
He said that the reason for moving his late-term abortion business out of Bellvue is Nebraska’s new abortion ban, Legislative Bill 1103. The law prohibits elective abortions after 20 weeks post-conception on the basis that science definitively shows an unborn child feels pain at that age. That standard effectively prohibits Carhart from performing late-term abortions, which provide the bulk of his business.
“This sort of forced us. We had to do it,” Carhart told the Omaha World Herald. “In Iowa and Maryland, we can do the later cases.”
The abortionist plans to coordinate with his lawyers on filing a constitutional challenge against LB 1103, as he moves his business to the new locations.
Julie Schmit-Albin, executive director of Nebraska Right to Life, told the World Herald that Carhart’s decision to move out of state “shows that LB 1103 was the right strategy.”
Local station KETV 7 noted that Carhart said he would need to raise $1.5 million in order to set up the new facilities (the Maryland-D.C. area clinic opening on Dec. 6).
However local pro-life advocates said that Carhart’s ambitions to fundraise his clinics from private donors is more easily said than done.
“Carhart made similar headlines when he announced last year that he would be opening a late-term abortion clinic with 25 miles of Wichita, Kansas, by December 1, 2009,” said Troy Newman, president of the Wichita-based Operation Rescue. “That clinic failed to materialize and we vow to make sure that these plans don’t either.”
Another problem for Carhart is that the gruesome procedure in which he specializes is extremely unpopular in the United States, except amongst a sliver of the most extreme, hard core of the abortion movement. During a preliminary injunction hearing in a US District Court in 1997 on the issue of late-term abortions, Carhart testified that he would sometimes dismember advanced-stage unborn babies during abortions, while the babies were still alive. Carhart described in detail the process of grasping the limb of the baby to be removed, and then twisting it off. When asked if the babies usually die during the process of dismemberment, Carhart responded, "I don`t really know. I know that the fetus is alive during the process most of the time because I can see the fetal heartbeat on the ultrasound."
The nature of Carhart’s abortion activities last year led Nebraska’s attorney general Jon Bruning to state, “I`m disgusted and I`m saddened and I hate it that he`s here in Nebraska, and I hate it that he`s in America.” “I mean, this guy is one sick individual.”
Newman said that Carhart “lacks the finances to implement his expansion plans” but also finds himself in a bind “because he needs to do the lucrative late-term abortions to remain financially solvent.”
The organization plans to coordinate with pro-life groups in both states to make sure that the abortionist does not follow through on his planned expansion.
Carhart for his part, has decided to remain mum about the location of his new clinics, telling the Washington Post, that he did not want to give pro-life advocates a head start. He did say he was looking for a location proximate to airports and city metros.
“The patients, when they call, will be told where to go,” he said. “The `antis` will find out soon enough, but I don`t want to help them.”
November 12, 2010
Morongo District Sales Pitch Includes Veiled Threat
(Home School Legal Defense Association) In a carefully worded letter to “Parent[s] and/or School Administrator[s],” the Morongo USD notified homeschooling families that if the school district receives a complaint, the school district has an obligation to investigate the parent for violation of compulsory education laws, i.e, truancy. While the school district is correct that they must receive a complaint prior to initiating an investigation, you have to wonder what the purpose of such a threatening letter is.
The motive becomes immediately apparent as the letter goes on to warn parents that their current curriculum may not be in alignment with state standards. The letter then offers independent study through Morongo USD by urging parents “. . . to investigate other educational alternatives which will enable your child(ren) to continue to learn at home.”
By couching their sales pitch in a veiled threat, Morongo USD is obviously hoping to reel in some nervous new homeschoolers. HSLDA wants to assure you that if you receive letters like this from your school district, there’s no reason to be unnerved and convinced that the only safe place to homeschool is in a public-school-at-home program. www.hslda.org
November 12, 2010
U.S. Supreme Court Refuses Crucial Appeal in Lisa Miller Custody Case
(LifeSiteNews) The U.S. Supreme Court has turned down an appeal in the case of a former lesbian who has lost custody of her daughter to her ex-partner.
The appeal sought to overturn the recent decision by the Vermont Supreme Court to uphold a lower court decision transferring custody of eight-year-old Isabella Miller from her biological mother, Lisa Miller, to her mother`s former lesbian partner, Janet Jenkins.
Lisa Miller`s attorneys had requested that the Vermont Supreme Court examine the issue of Miller`s constitutional rights as a parent. However, both the Vermont courts and now the Supreme Court have refused to carry out such a review.
The custody transfer was ordered after a Vermont judge declared that Janet Jenkins was a "parent" of Isabella Miller and required Lisa Miller to allow Jenkins unsupervised visits with Miller`s daughter. Isabella was conceived through artificial insemination, and was never adopted by Jenkins.
Miller had left Jenkins in 2003 after a relationship she characterized as "abusive," and had returned to her childhood faith in Jesus Christ. After her daughter showed signs of emotional trauma following visits, Miller refused to permit further contact with Jenkins.
Despite testimony from experts regarding the trauma suffered by Isabella following visits with Jenkins, the Vermont courts repeatedly ruled that Miller must allow unsupervised visitations. Finally, after one of several missed visits, Vermont judge Richard Cohen transferred custody to Jenkins in November of 2009.
Lisa Miller, however, had already disappeared with her daughter. Their whereabouts remain unknown. A warrant has been issued for Miller`s arrest in the state of Vermont.
November 12, 2010
Federal Reserve Puts Families, Nation at Risk; Soros Calls for World Currency
(CitizenLink) The day after the elections, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke authorized the printing of $600 billion to buy back U.S. debt, in order jump-start the economy.
The move – dubbed QE2, short for quantitative easing – was widely criticized by both domestic and international markets as being far too risky and untested. This was first round of quantitative easing began in December 2008.
However, President Obama publicly defended Bernanke’s move while in India.
One corporate finance and strategic consultant wrote about the QE2:
“One of the most important questions of the day concerns how the dollar will fare in the coming months and years.
“If you are working for a wage, it is essential to know whether you should save or spend that money. If you have assets to protect, where you place those monies is vitally important and could make the difference between a relatively pleasant future and a difficult one.
“If you have any interest at all in where interest rates are headed, you’ll want to understand this (issue).”
Zubi Diamond, author of “The Wizards of Wall Street,” warned that the Fed’s move is already putting Americans in serious jeopardy – as seen by the marked price increase in goods and services.
“The QE2 will increase the debt, devalue our currency and create a bigger problem that won’t solve the crisis,” Diamond said. “Eventually, America could collapse under its own weight of massive debt.”
J.D. Foster, Ph.D., the Norman B. Ture Senior Fellow in the Economics of Fiscal Policy for The Heritage Foundation, agreed:
“Quantitative easing is a largely experimental tool employed by the Federal Reserve to address a continuing sluggish economy and the renewed potential of deflation.
“That the Fed faces this prospect is final proof positive that President Barack Obama’s Keynesian stimulus policies have failed, leaving monetary policy as the sole remaining major stimulus tool. The risks associated with quantitative easing are substantial, including that it will fail, or will trigger a resurgence of inflation with or without a pickup in output growth.
THE SOROS FACTOR
The status of the U.S. dollar, which has been the world’s reserve currency, is also at risk. Conservatives are deeply concerned that the Fed’s move also opens up the U.S. currency to a move by George Soros, the liberal hedge fund financier, who has made his wealth by betting against currencies
Soros, who has been calling for an international currency, told the Financial Times that China should lead the economic currency – and that America should not resist the weakening dollar, lower living standards and introduction to a new currency.
In an op-ed published last year, Soros wrote:
“Reorganizing the world order will need to extend beyond the financial system and involve the United Nations, especially membership of the Security Council. That process needs to be initiated by the U.S., but China and other developing countries ought to participate as equals…The system cannot survive in its present form, and the U.S. has more to lose by not being in the forefront of reforming it.”
Heritage’s Foster said that the new Congress will not have easy choices to make:
“Even if successful, the Fed will need to act decisively down the road, reversing course by pushing up short-term and long-term interest rates to prevent a bout of new asset price bubbles and inflation. These future actions could produce another recession in the face of still-high unemployment.
“Navigating these waters successfully will require extraordinary skill and luck.
“The President and Congress could greatly improve the Fed’s prospects for success by vowing not to raise taxes and instead reducing federal budget deficits by substantially reducing spending.”
November 12, 2010
Net neutrality unpopular
(OneNewsNow) In the battle against net neutrality, conservatives are claiming a major victory. The war, however, is far from over.
95 House and Senate Democrats signed a pledge in October to uphold a bill that would prevent internet providers from implementing legitimate controls over their service, such as managing traffic to prevent slowdowns. But last week, all 95 of those Democrats lost their bid for reelection -- an outcome LessGovernment.org President Seton Motley calls "a fantastic victory."
"One of the ongoing canards from the pro-net neutrality media Marxist movement is `the people want net neutrality; the people want greater regulation of the internet.`" But according to Motley, "this is in the face of all sorts of studies that say that the vast majority of people love the internet, that 95 percent have access and a large percentage of those people don`t avail themselves of it, which means they can get it, but they choose not to."
Not only did all the lawmakers lose, but the LessGovernment.com president points out that the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which was behind the pledge, also failed to win the public`s support.
"They have two different sites on their website, and they have different numbers. On one of them, they said nine people contributed for a total of $293. The other one says they had eight contributors for a total of $81. So where is all this grassroots support for net neutrality," Motley wonders.
He adds that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) may now try to regulate broadband internet itself by reclassifying a telecommunications service, such as a phone line. If that happens, the conservative warns it could lead to stiffer regulations, not only on the free market, but also on free speech. The earliest vote would occur December 15, but the FCC has to release its agenda 21 days prior. That means the public will know this month if a vote is scheduled.
November 12, 2010
Pot pushers turn focus to young voters
(Becky Yeh - OneNewsNow) Supporters of California`s measure to legalize marijuana are not backing down in the face of recent defeat, but instead are attempting to sway young voters to favor the bill in the next presidential election.
Proponents of Proposition 19, the measure that would have legalized marijuana in the state, are pushing the initiative again for 2012. Advocates view the recent midterm elections as a trial run for the measure, and they think it will fair better in 2012`s presidential election. But James Lambert of MarijuanaHarmsFamilies.com argues that supporters of the drug are only saying that because they lost.
"They would rather have had it not to be a trial run," he suggests. "I think what conservatives, and especially people in the Christian community, need to do is to keep themselves informed of how dangerous it would be to fully legalize pot."
Even though Proposition 19 failed by a wide margin, marijuana proponents believe the 2012 election will bring out young voters who favor the legalization. But Lambert warns that approval would negatively affect the rest of the nation, just as the issue of same-sex "marriage" has done.
"Just like the gay issue has hit other states, this is going to hit definitely, and that`s what concerns me," the anti-marijuana advocate notes. "If you legalize it here, you`re looking at our state becoming the drug dealer for the rest of the country, and it will affect other states."
Lambert believes the economy is going to shake Americans, which may discourage young voters and make them less adamant about pushing marijuana in the 2012 election.
November 12, 2010
Ministry Caters to Neglected Male Sex Abuse Victims
(Christian Post) Speaker, author and radio show host Thomas Edward is looking to create a home for men who have been abused and often have to suffer in silence in the church.
A victim of sexual abuse himself, Edward believes such men are ignored or given the cold shoulder, largely because church leaders are afraid to address the issue.
“When I was dealing with abuse, it was difficult to actually find resources in the religious community,” he told The Christian Post. “It’s seen as a taboo and unfortunately leaders hide their heads in the stand and ignore that the problem actually exists.”
After suffering from vivid flashbacks and memories of his abuse, Edward said because he felt so alone, he even attempted suicide.
Author of the 2008 publication Healing a Man’s Heart, Edward is gearing up for his Healing Broken Men retreat later this month. He founded Healing Broken Men Ministry, a faith-based workshop session and support group, in 2001 for men dealing with the aftermath of molestation and sexual abuse.
His book and ministry offer men the help and guidance they need to deal with their suffering.
“What we’re trying to do at the retreat is to actually start building a network for the men so that they have not only resources, but they have other men they can talk to and bond with as we work through the issues,” he explained.
His personal experiences with sexual abuse motivated him to start the ministry and later to recount it all in a book. The book, he said, is a guide for men who have been abused to finally admit it to themselves and others, and seek help. He introduces three stages in his book for men to follow, one being “Surrender and Submit.”
“Surrender just simply means we are allowing ourselves to just ask for help, saying I can’t handle this on my own, and I need someone to help me,” Edward explained.
“The book is written for men who are afraid to take that first step in telling someone. Hopefully by the time you get to the end of the book you are ready to start to share your story.”
Men, he noted, are more reluctant than women to come forward about these issues, especially among Christians.
“A lot of times in the Christian community we have the saying ‘say it, pray it, and it will go away.’ That’s not true,” he stressed.
“We as Christians need to stop sitting on the sidelines. When I go to different congregations, the people feel unequipped. We need to point people toward the resources,” he added, noting that churches can help by doing such simple tasks as printing resources for abuse victims in the weekly bulletin or in the church announcements.
In addition to the Healing Broken Men ministry, Edward also hosts a radio show on Seattle KGNW 820 Sunday nights called "Break Free." There, he conducts an ongoing discussion of men being victimized.
Last week, The Oprah Show highlighted the plight of male sexual abuse survivors. Two hundred men came forward to tell their personal stories of abuse. The two-day special featured Tyler Perry, who talked about his abuse earlier this month on the show.
Dr. Howard Fradkin, co-chair of Weekends of Recovery, said on the show, “It’s really difficult for men to come forward to talk about sexual abuse because everything that they’re taught about manhood is betrayed to them. … Men suffer a lot of stigma being sexually abused because they’re supposed to be in control and they are no longer in control.”
Obama Admin Asks Supreme Court to Keep Don`t Ask, Don`t Tell in Place
(LifeSiteNews) The U.S. Justice Department has requested that the U.S. Supreme Court keep in place an appeals court order reinstating the 1993 federal law against homosexuals serving in the military. The ban is commonly referred to by a corresponding Pentagon enforcement policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT).
Neal Katyal, the acting U.S. solicitor general, on Wednesday submitted the government’s response to the high court on Wednesday urging the justices to reject the emergency appeal filed by the Log Cabin Republicans. The GOP homosexual advocates group applied to Justice Anthony Kennedy to overturn the 9th US Circuit Court’s ruling that overturned U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips of Riverside’s worldwide injunction on DADT.
Phillips declared the law unconstitutional in February, and put the injunction into effect in October. The injunction remained in place until 10 days later, when a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit stepped in, and issued an indefinite stay on Phillips’ order, putting DADT back into effect, until the appeals process had worked itself out in the courts.
The Obama Justice Department argued that a court-ordered end to DADT would have harmful effects on the U.S. military and hamper an “orderly” transition.
“The military should not be required to suddenly and immediately restructure a major personnel policy that has been in place for years, particularly during a time when the nation is involved in combat operations overseas,” stated Clifford L. Stanley, under-secretary of defense for personnel readiness, in a document supporting the government’s case.
“Overall, an abrupt change - without adequate planning or time to implement a plan - substantially increases the probability of failure or backlash in the early months of this transition, months that will be critical to our long-term success.”
The report of the Pentagon’s Comprehensive Review Working Group (CRWG) on DADT is scheduled for release on December 1, but has already generated controversy since its findings were leaked to the press. A Washington Post article quoted one anonymous Pentagon source as saying they wanted to get the word out that 70 percent of U.S. military members had no problem with DADT repeal “out of concern that groups opposed to ending the ban would mischaracterize the findings."
However, the leak drew criticism from Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, a former US Marine, who called on the Pentagon to disavow and formally investigate the source of the leak.
"It`s laughable to argue that people who anonymously leak one-sided information to a reporter are less likely to `mischaracterize the findings` of a ten-month study than are people who wait to read that 370-page study in full,” said Perkins.
"We have criticized this study from the outset because the CRWG was forbidden to explore the central question before the country - not how to implement a repeal of the current law, but whether doing so is in the best interest of the armed forces.”
Perkins added that the surveys were also biased against evaluating the merits of retaining DADT, since none of the surveys received by troops or their spouses ever asked, “Do you believe the current law should be overturned?”
Currently only the U.S. House of Representatives has passed a repeal of DADT. The Senate will likely face a vote on DADT’s repeal during the lame-duck session. Passage of the bill so far has been blocked thanks to a GOP filibuster led by Vietnam veteran Sen. John McCain, although the strength of his coalition will likely be tested by the CRWG’s report in December, when the Senate is sure to have another vote.
November 12, 2010
Blacks struggle with 72 percent unwed mothers rate
(Yahoo News) One recent day at Dr. Natalie Carroll`s OB-GYN practice, located inside a low-income apartment complextucked between a gas station and a freeway, 12 pregnant black women come for consultations. Some bring their children or their mothers. Only one brings a husband.
Things move slowly here. Women sit shoulder-to-shoulder in the narrow waiting room, sometimes for more than an hour. Carroll does not rush her mothers in and out. She wants her babies born as healthy as possible, so Carroll spends time talking to the mothers about how they should care for themselves, what she expects them to do — and why they need to get married.
Seventy-two percent of black babies are born to unmarried mothers today, according to government statistics. This number is inseparable from the work of Carroll, an obstetrician who has dedicated her 40-year career to helping black women.
"The girls don`t think they have to get married. I tell them children deserve a mama and a daddy. They really do," Carroll says from behind the desk of her office, which has cushioned pink-and-green armchairs, bars on the windows, and a wooden "LOVE" carving between two African figurines. Diamonds circle Carroll`s ring finger.
As the issue of black unwed parenthood inches into public discourse, Carroll is among the few speaking boldly about it. And as a black woman who has brought thousands of babies into the world, who has sacrificed income to serve Houston`s poor, Carroll is among the few whom black women will actually listen to.
"A mama can`t give it all. And neither can a daddy, not by themselves," Carroll says. "Part of the reason is because you can only give that which you have. A mother cannot give all that a man can give. A truly involved father figure offers more fullness to a child`s life."
Statistics show just what that fullness means. Children of unmarried mothers of any race are more likely to perform poorly in school, go to prison, use drugs, be poor as adults, and have their own children out of wedlock.
The black community`s 72 percent rate eclipses that of most other groups: 17 percent of Asians, 29 percent of whites, 53 percent of Hispanics and 66 percent of Native Americans were born to unwed mothers in 2008, the most recent year for which government figures are available. The rate for the overall U.S. population was 41 percent.
This issue entered the public consciousness in 1965, when a now famous government report by future senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan described a "tangle of pathology" among blacks that fed a 24 percent black "illegitimacy" rate. The white rate then was 4 percent.
Many accused Moynihan, who was white, of "blaming the victim:" of saying that black behavior, not racism, was the main cause of black problems. That dynamic persists. Most talk about the 72 percent has come from conservative circles; when influential blacks like Bill Cosby have spoken out about it, they have been all but shouted down by liberals saying that a lack of equal education and opportunity are the true root of the problem.
Even in black churches, "nobody talks about it," Carroll says. "It`s like some big secret." But there are signs of change, of discussion and debate within and outside the black community on how to address the growing problem.
Research has increased into links between behavior and poverty, scholars say. Historically black Hampton University recently launched a National Center on African American Marriages and Parenting. There is a Marry Your Baby Daddy Day, founded by a black woman who was left at the altar, and a Black Marriage Day, which aims "to make healthy marriages the norm rather than the exception."
In September, Princeton University and the liberal Brookings Institution released a collection of "Fragile Families" reports on unwed parents. And an online movement called "No Wedding No Womb" ignited a fierce debate that included strong opposition from many black women.
"There are a lot of sides to this," Carroll says. "Part of our community has lost its way."
November 12, 2010
Obama Wants Congress to Halt AMT Tax Hike on Middle Class by Dec. 31
(CNSNews) President Barack Obama believes that Congress must act before the end of the year to stop a tax hike that would disproportionately hit middle-class earners, said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.
If Congress fails to act on the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), it could mean a tax hike for 22.7 million American households, many of whom earn less than $250,000. Absent congressional action this year, “one in six taxpayers will be affected by the AMT, paying on average an additional $3,900 in tax, and nearly every married taxpayer with income between $100,000 and $500,000 will owe some alternative tax,” according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the accounting arm of Congress.
That increase would violate an Obama 2008 campaign pledge to raise taxes only on couples making more than $250,000 and on individuals earning more than $200,000.
“There isn’t an AMT patch for 2010,” Gibbs told reporters on Thursday. “That is specifically something, as most of you know, that was designed for something far different but disproportionately now impacts middle class families. This issue has to be dealt with in the next few weeks. We know for middle-class families, they are going to get a different tax bill and they are going to owe more money than if we sit down and work together to compromise.”
Among those subject to this already-in-place tax increase are some families making less than $50,000 per year, and virtually all married couples earning between $100,000 and $500,000 a year, according to the CBO. (See earlier story.)
Congress could stop the tax hike by enacting legislation that temporarily increases the amount of income exempt from the Alternative Minimum Tax. The temporary reprieve passed by Congress for each of the past nine years expired on Dec. 31, 2009 and, so far, Congress has not extended the AMT "fix,” or “patch,” for 2010.
The CBO estimates that 4.5 million American households were subject to the AMT in 2009, and 27.2 million are now liable to pay the AMT for the 2010 tax year unless Congress acts before Dec. 31. Under current law, at least 22.7 million American households that did not have to pay the AMT last year will have to pay it on the income they have been earning since Jan. 1 of this year.
The AMT, enacted in 1969, was intended to impose taxes on high-income earners who used deductions and loopholes to escape their liability under the regular income tax. Because the tax has not been adjusted for inflation since then, additional families at progressively lower income levels become subject to the tax each year.
“What the president believes is, we have both houses coming back and that this is an issue that must and has to be dealt with in that session,” Gibbs said.
According to the CBO, among the households that will be hit with the AMT this year under current law include the following: 3 percent are households making less than $50,000 a year; 35 percent are household making between $50,000 and $100,000 per years; 47 percent are households making between $100,000 and $200,000 per year; and 14 percent are households making between $200,000 and $500,000 per year.
“Because of the particular tax preferences and exemptions disallowed under the AMT, that tax structure is more likely to affect married couples, large families, and taxpayers in states with high state and local taxes,” according to the CBO.
Repealing the AMT completely and permanently would add $626 billion to the federal debt over the next 10 years, the CBO reported.
November 11, 2010
Boehner under fire: First cut should be lawmakers` salaries
(The Hill) Soon-to-be Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) is being pressed by taxpayer groups to slash the salaries of House lawmakers.
Cutting member pay would show voters the new GOP majority in the House is going to lead by example in their efforts to rein in spending and start with their own wallets, say officials with three prominent taxpayer advocacy groups in Washington, D.C.
“There has to be a visible gesture that people can immediately relate to,” said Pete Sepp, the executive vice president of the conservative National Taxpayers Union.
“And cutting pay would be one of the best symbols, because unlike virtually anything else the federal government does, when Congress spends money on its own salaries and benefits, people can make a direct comparison to their own situation,” Sepp said.
The last three House Speakers swept into the leadership role with the issuance of symbolic gestures, which typically correlates to the campaign platform that delivered them to power, said Sarah Binder, a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution.
“[The symbolic moves] create images that build the party’s reputation and say, ‘This is what Republican rule means and these are things we stand for,’” Binder said. “These are symbolic things that a Speaker would want to do to set a tone or a message.
Boehner is slated to receive a $30,100 pay increase next year when he becomes Speaker of the House. His annual salary will be $223,500. The base pay for House and Senate lawmakers is $174,000, while majority and minority leaders each make $193,400 per year.
Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner, said that no decision has been made to slash members` salaries, but pointed to the promises the GOP made in its "Pledge to America" in September.
"The Pledge to America calls for cutting Congress` budget, but no specific decisions have been made about how that will be done at this time," said Steel.
Republicans gained about five dozen House seats Tuesday largely by running campaigns based on promises to scale back government spending, reform how the House operates and increase jobs for Americans.
November 12, 2010
Woman Gives Birth to Homosexual Son`s Baby
(LifeSiteNews) A fifty-year-old Mexican woman has given birth to a child whose biological father is her homosexual son, according to the Mexico City newspaper Reforma.
Reforma reports that the woman, whose name has been withheld, decided to offer her womb to her 31-year-old son "Jorge," a single homosexual businessman who wanted a child. A childhood friend, who is married, contributed the ovum. Jorge`s son was conceived through in-vitro fertilization with the assistance of obstetrician-gynecologist Juan Manuel Casillas and implanted in his mother`s womb.
Jorge`s mother, who gave birth to her own grandson by cesarean section on November 1, has been released from the hospital after 48 hours of observation, and is now nursing the child. The attending doctors say that there have been no complications.
"I don`t feel like a mother nor like a grandmother," the woman told Reforma. "When they say `mother` to me I feel strange, and when they say `grandmother` also. I mean, he was my first grandson, and I don`t feel that way because at the same time he is my fourth son."
The family says that they have documented the circumstances of the birth so that the child, whose name is Darío, will someday know the full truth about his origins.
According to Casillas, the woman "would like to get pregnant again. She says that if we know that the development [of the child] will be the same, she`s delighted."
November 08, 2010
Calif borrows $40M a day to pay unemployment
(AP) With one in every eight workers unemployed and empty state coffers, California is borrowing billions of dollars from the federal government to pay unemployment insurance.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the state owes $8.6 billion already, and will have to come up with a $362-million payment to Washington by the end of next September.
The continued borrowing means federal unemployment insurance taxes are going to increase, upping the annual payroll costs $21 a year per worker.
California tops the list of 32 states that have borrowed a total of $41 billion to pay claims.
The state took out its first loan from the federal government early last year, to deal with rising payment of benefits and number of claims.
Gallup: Very religious Americans have higher levels of well-being
(CNN) Christopher Hitchens` atheist manifesto was subtitled "how religion poisons everything," but a new polling analysis challenges that notion, finding that very religious Americans have higher levels of well-being than the rest of the country.
The most religious Americans show the highest levels of well-being as measured by factors ranging from physical and emotional health to self-evaluations of life to perceptions of work environment, according to a Gallup report released Thursday.
Americans for whom religion is an important part of everyday life and who attend religious services roughly once a week or more score an average 68.7 on a well-being index developed by Gallup and Healthways, a health consulting company.
Americans who are moderately religious or who are nonreligious, meanwhile, average 64.2 on the Gallup-Healthways well-being index.
Gallup Editor-in-Chief Frank Newport says that the gap is significant because there are typically few differences in the well-being index between Americans from different demographics.
"It`s not like some people score zero and others score 100," Newport told CNN. "So when we find a difference of four of five points it`s not only statistically significant, it`s also substantively significant."
Newport said that the biggest difference between very religious and nonreligious Americans is in healthy behavior, which is mostly explained by a negative correlation between smoking and religiosity.
"We now have the solution to the health care crisis," Newport joked. "If we`re interested in lowering health care costs in America, we need to increase the prevalence of religion."
Though the survey didn`t gauge whether religiosity led to higher levels of well being or vice versa, Newport speculated that religiosity was the likely driver.
"All religions have different mechanisms that would plausibly lead to higher well-being, including social networks and ways of dealing with stress, but we can`t prove that," he said. "It is possible that people with higher levels of well-being choose to be religious."
The Gallup analysis draws on more than 550,000 interviews. Newport said that the polling firm asks 1,000 Americans a night about indicators of well being and about levels of religiosity.
The analysis controlled for other factors that typically influence levels of religiosity, including age, gender, race and ethnicity, region, state, socioeconomic status, marital status and child-bearing status.
According to Gallup surveys, 44 percent of Americans are very religious, 30 percent are nonreligious and 27 percent are moderately religious.
November 05, 2010
Evangelical Leader Warns Christians on U.S. Economy, Debt
(Christian Post) Turning Point minister Dr. David Jeremiah painted a picture of a plummeting U.S. economy during a Thursday night mass meeting and urged Christians to remain vigilant and put their houses in order.
The Turning Point founder and Southern California pastor met with Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. -area Christians at the Verizon Center to analyze the financial crisis that has been rocking the news headlines and give Americans the truth about the economy.
After an hour of introductions and inspirational praise, Jeremiah began to explain in detail the nation’s debt.
“In 2009, according to USA Today, with the national debt now topping $12 trillion, the White House estimates that the government’s tab for servicing the debt will exceed $700 billion a year and basically all that’s doing is paying interest,” said the 69-year-old conservative evangelical leader, who pastors Shadow Mountain Community Church.
He continued, noting that $12 trillion is only the tip of national debt iceberg and the total balance is really $118 trillion.
What accounts for all this debt, you ask? Jeremiah answered: Social Security, health care, war and big government are the nation’s biggest price points. Of the four, he said Social Security and health care are the heaviest burdens.
He likened Social Security to the schemes of Charles Ponzi and Bernie Madoff. Jeremiah lamented that it is an “unfunded entitlement program” that is kept alive by younger workers.
“The new contributors fund the promises made to the old contributors, and American workers who faithfully paid their taxes and their social security each year will be relying on an empty federal purse to fulfill its promise to them,” he explained.
“Social Security is not even our greatest problem, Medicare is many times worse,” he continued. He said the combined costs of Medicare programs A, B, and D totals $89.3 trillion, five times the Social Security debt.
Despite the sobering news, Jeremiah said the government is living in a “fool’s paradise” by believing it can spend its way out of debt.
Just after the election, the Federal Reserve announced plans to create and buy more government bonds, infusing $600 billion into the economy.
The Fed’s Board of Governors released this statement Wednesday: “To promote a stronger pace of economic recovery and to help ensure that inflation, over time, is at levels consistent with its mandate, the committee decided today to expand its holdings of securities. The committee will maintain its existing policy of reinvesting principal payments from its securities. In addition, the committee intends to purchase a further $600 billion of longer-term treasury securities by end of the second quarter of 2011, a pace of about $75 billion per month.”
“We seem to believe [that] we’ve found the secret that alluded the ancient alchemists. We believe we can slap ink on paper and somehow it will turn to gold,” Jeremiah complained.
The sought-after speaker, whose radio program is heard worldwide, warned that inflation is on the horizon, and the American dollar is at risk of becoming worthless.
In the wake of economic doom and gloom, Jeremiah advised Christians to “keep your house in order.” “We all get upset about how the country is in debt, but what about your house?” he asked.
He encouraged everyone to take an honest look at his/her finances and total personal debts. For those deep in debt, he recommended they begin debt counseling programs.
Additionally, he encouraged Christians to be vigilant and discern “the signs of the times.” Jeremiah said he has spent the last two years studying the truth about the economy.
His studies, encapsulated in his latest book The Coming Economic Armageddon, have garnered the attention of Fox News pundit Glenn Beck. Last month, Beck recommended the book on his radio show, describing it as “great” and a revealing look into “ties between the global financial crisis and the new world order.” Afterwards, it was ranked among the top 100 books on Amazon.com.
Urging Christians to hold on to their faith and keep their hope in God, the author stressed, “In the midst of what seems like hopelessness to the world around us, we should be standing strong as God’s people.”
Jeremiah’s Washington, D.C., appearance is part of Turning Point`s traveling series, “An evening with David Jeremiah.” He was previously in San Antonio, Texas, and Greensboro, N.C. His next appearance will be Nov. 18 in Pittsburg, Pa.
November 04, 2010
California voter registration percentage highest since 1994
(Capitol Weekly) Nearly three out of four Californians who are eligible to cast ballots for the Nov. 2 election have registered to vote, the state’s election officer reported today.
Some 17.3 million people registered, or about 73.4 percent of the 23.6 million eligible. That is the highest voter-registration percentage since 1994, when 77.7 percent registered. The latest numbers, known as the 15-day report of registration, track registrants through Oct. 18.
About 44.1 percent of those registered were Democrats and 31 percent were Republicans, the secretary of state reported. The Republican tally was significantly lower than the GOP registration in the last four elections. During the past 16 years, the highest Republican registration was in 1994, with 37.2 percent. The Democratic registration is higher than the 42.5 percent in 2006, the last non-presidential election year, but lower than in the three earlier elections.
Although Democrats traditionally have higher registration numbers than Republicans, the final results on election day are invariably closer, in part because Republicans vote in proportionally higher numbers than Democrats.
Of the minor parties – American Independent, Green, Libertarian and Peace and Freedom – the American Independent Party had the highest registration, with 413,000 members, or 2.39 percent.
The relatively high registration for both major parties in 1994 reflected the volatile partisan atmosphere of state and national politics. Nationally, Republicans took over the House for the first time since President Eisenhower’s first term. In California, Republican gains triggered a lengthy and bitter battle for the Assembly speakership. This year, national political observers are predicting a Republican seizure of the House and, possibly, the U.S. Senate.
November 05, 2010
A state-by-state glance at Tuesday`s election
A look at key races in the 50 states:
ALABAMA _ Republican Sen. Richard Shelby cruised to a fifth term in heavily Republican state. Republican Robert Bentley elected in gubernatorial race
ALASKA _ Sen. Lisa Murkowski in unpredictable write-in campaign after losing GOP primary in tea party revolt. Republican Sean Parnell wins for governor.
ARIZONA _ Sen. John McCain coasted to fifth term after tough GOP primary. Gov. Jan Brewer won re-election. At least two House Democrats turned out of office.
ARKANSAS _ Two-term Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln lost to Rep. John Boozman. GOP picked up two seats.
CALIFORNIA _ Former Gov. Jerry Brown defeated Republican Meg Whitman. Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer defeated Carly Fiorina.
COLORADO _ Sen. Michael Bennet and tea party-backed Republican Ken Buck in close race. Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, elected governor. GOP picked up at least one House seat.
CONNECTICUT _ Competitive governor`s race between Democrat Dan Malloy and Republican Tom Foley. Attorney General Richard Blumenthal defeated GOP candidate Linda McMahon for Senate.
DELAWARE _ GOP candidate Christine O`Donnell never got traction in Senate race, and lost to Democrat Chris Coons. Democrats capitalized on rare pickup opportunity in House with John Carney`s victory.
FLORIDA _ Marco Rubio coasted to Senate win for GOP. Democrat Alex Sink and Republican Rick Scott in fierce governor`s race. GOP picked up four House seats.
GEORGIA _ Republicans won governor`s race (former Rep. Nathan Deal) and Senate race (Johnny Isakson), and knocked off at least one House Democrat.
HAWAII _ Neil Abercrombie regained the governorship for Democrats. Eight-term Democratic Sen. Daniel Inouye won another won another term.
IDAHO _ Republican C.L. "Butch" Otter re-elected governor. Republican Sen. Mike Crapo cruised to re-election in Senate.
ILLINOIS _ Republicans won Senate seat and picked up three House seats in Obama`s home state, while making play for governor. Real race is 2011 Chicago mayoral election.
INDIANA _ Former GOP Sen. Dan Coats won election. Republicans pick up two seats from Democrats.
IOWA _ Former Gov. Terry Branstad defeated Democratic Gov. Chet Culver. Republican Sen. Charles Grassley coasted to new term.
KANSAS _ Republican Sen. Sam Brownback won governor`s race. GOP Rep. Jerry Moran won Senate seat. Republicans also won an all four House seats, including open seat held by a retiring Democrat.
KENTUCKY _ Tea party favorite Rand Paul won Senate race.
LOUISIANA _ GOP David Vitter won re-election, after saying wife, family, God and voters forgive him in sex scandal. GOP Rep. Joseph Cao lost re-election bid, but Republicans won open Democratic House seat.
MAINE _ Tea party favorite Paul LePage was in a competitive governor`s race.
MARYLAND _ Gov. Martin O`Malley won re-election after stiff challenge from ex-Gov. Bob Ehrlich. Sen. Barbara Mikulski won fifth term. Democratic Rep. Frank Kratovil lost re-election bid.
MASSACHUSETTS _ Gov. Deval Patrick won re-election in Democratic-leaning state. Rep. Barney Frank won re-election in tougher-than-expected campaign, and Democrats kept an open Democratic House seat.
MICHIGAN _ Rick Snyder won governor`s race, returning office to GOP hands. Republicans win three open seats.
MINNESOTA _ Former Democratic Sen. Mark Dayton making bid for governor.
MISSISSIPPI _ Republicans defeated Democratic Reps. Travis Childers and Gene Taylor in GOP-leaning state.
MISSOURI _ GOP Rep. Roy Blunt coasted to Senate victory. Veteran Democratic Rep. Ike Skelton lost bid for new term.
MONTANA _ GOP Rep. Dennis Rehberg coasted to new term in possible tune-up for 2012 Senate race.
NEBRASKA _ GOP Gov. Dave Heineman won new term in heavily Republican state.
NEVADA _ Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid won hotly contested re-election race in state with 14.4 percent joblessness.
NEW HAMPSHIRE _ Democratic Gov. John Lynch won fourth term. Republican Kelly Ayotte won Senate race in first run for office. Democrats lost two House seats.
NEW JERSEY _ GOP knocked off Rep. John Adler in state where Democrats lost governor`s office a year ago in early sign of voter anger.
NEW MEXICO_ GOP prosecutor Susana Martinez won governor`s race against Diane Denish. GOP picked up one Democratic House seat.
NEW YORK _ Democrat Andrew Cuomo won governor`s race. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand won re-election to Senate from Democratic state. GOP claimed vacant House seat, and picked up four other seats from incumbent Democrats.
NORTH CAROLINA _ GOP Sen. Richard Burr cruised to re-election. Republicans picked up Democratic seat.
NORTH DAKOTA _ GOP Gov. John Hoeven won Senate seat now held by retiring Democrat. Veteran Democratic Rep. Earl Pomeroy lost re-election.
OHIO _ Former GOP Rep. John Kasich defeated Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland; Rob Portman won Senate seat for GOP. Five Democratic U.S. House members were ousted by Republican challengers.
OKLAHOMA _ GOP Rep. Mary Fallin won governor`s race while Tom Coburn coasted to re-election to Senate.
OREGON _ Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden won re-election. Ex-Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber and ex-pro basketballer Chris Dudley in close gubernatorial race.
PENNSYLVANIA _ GOP wins races for Senate and governor in classic swing state. Republicans take control of congressional delegation for first time since 2006.
RHODE ISLAND _ Republican-turned-independent Lincoln Chafee won governorship his father once held.
SOUTH CAROLINA _ Tea party favorite Nikki Haley won gubernatorial race. GOP Sen. Jim DeMint coasted to victory. Veteran Democratic Rep. John Spratt lost re-election.
SOUTH DAKOTA _ GOP Sen. John Thune won re-election. Prelude to presidential race? Democratic Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin lost re-election bid.
TENNESSEE _ Republican Bill Haslam picks up governor`s seat for Republicans. GOP takes three Democratic seats.
TEXAS _ GOP Gov. Rick Perry defeated Bill White for new term. Democratic Rep. Chet Edwards lost re-election bid.
UTAH _ Republican Mike Lee won Senate race after tea party jettisoned GOP Sen. Bob Bennett last spring. GOP Gov. Gary Herbert won new term.
VERMONT _ Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy won six more years in seat he first won in 1974. Tight governor`s race.
VIRGINIA _ Republicans knocked off three Democratic House members, including Tom Perriello, whom Obama campaigned for late in the race.
WASHINGTON _ Three-term Democratic Sen. Patty Murray leading in Democratic-leaning state against Republican Dino Rossi. GOP won open House Democratic seat.
WEST VIRGINIA _ Gov. Joe Manchin defeated Republican John Raese to fill out the term of the late Sen. Robert Byrd.
WISCONSIN _ Three-term Democratic Sen. Russell Feingold lost race to Republican challenger Ron Johnson. GOP won governor`s race. Republicans defeated Democratic Rep. Steve Kagen, and GOP won an open Democratic seat, giving Republicans a majority of delegation for first time in 14 years.
WYOMING _ Governor`s office returned to Republican control with two-term Democrat retiring.
November 05, 2010
California mosque raising concerns
(OneNewsNow) As a proposed mosque in a California city is drawing the attention of many residents, a local pastor feels Christians should take advantage of the opportunity and reach out to Muslims with the good news of the gospel.
Christians, Muslims, Jews and those of the Baha`i faith recently gathered at the Temecula Community Recreation Center in Temecula, California, to show their support for a proposed 25,000-square-foot mosque to be built in the northeastern part of the city. Richard Fretz, shepherding pastor at Temecula Hills Christian Fellowship, believes it is the responsibility of Christians to engage Muslims in a discussion and point them to Jesus Christ.
"I do not agree with Islam as a religion. I think it is not an accurate understanding of who God is," he admits. "As a Christian, obviously I take the Word of God as my foundation for my faith and practice."
The proposed mosque has been the focus of debate for many groups who feel the building will be a safe haven for Islamic terrorists. Some are concerned the mosque may broadcast Islamic prayer five times a day on loudspeakers, as is done by many mosques in the Middle East. So Fretz understands the apprehension.
"Having [an] Islamic call to prayer...in a predominantly, if you will, Christian country would be an intrusion, and it would be no different than if there was such a thing in Christendom...going out in the Middle East." He suggests that "that would never happen."
The proposal for the mosque is scheduled to go before the Temecula Planning Commission November 17.
November 05, 2010
Pro-Life Women Win, 23 Abortion Opponents Win Key Senate, House Races
(LifeSiteNews) Proving that women candidates don’t have the be abortion supporters to win in states both red or blue, pro-life women won 23 victories in contests for key Senate and House seats and in gubernatorial races.
Kelly Ayotte led the way in New Hampshire and will become the lone pro-life woman in the Senate, taking on pro-abortion stalwarts like Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein of California.
In gubernatorial races across the country, pro-life women have ascended to the leading executive spots of several states and positioned themselves to sign potential legislation to protect women and unborn children.
The percentage of women in the House of Representatives who are pro-life increased by 60 percent while the percentage of women who are pro-abortion decreased by 16 percent.
Jan Brewer won the race for re-election in Arizona while pro-life candidates won first-time races for governor in South Carolina (Nikki Haley), Oklahoma (Mary Falin), and New Mexico (Susana Martinez).
That brings the total number of pro-life women as governor to four from just one before Tuesday’s election.
“Thanks to the dramatic win of all four pro-life women governor candidates last night, pro-life women now outnumber pro-abort women in the Governor’s mansion,” says Daniel McConchie of Americans United for Life. “By contrast, there are only two pro-abort women in the Governor’s mansion – North Carolina’s Bev Purdue and Washington state’s Christine Gregoire, both of whom are up for election in 2012.”
The list of pro-life women winning elections “provides authentic female leadership” to Washington and across the nation, says Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life women’s group that led the effort for their election.
“That leadership is representative of women’s lived experience and includes a strong pro-life shift in opinion,” she said. The victories “represent a flowering of the original pro-life roots of the women’s movement which rejected the notion that the rights of unborn children and their mothers could be detached.”
In other statewide races seeing pro-life women win, Kay Ivey won her bid for Lt. Governor in Alabama, Kim Reynolds won her race for Lt. Governor in Iowa, Pam Bondi is the new Attorney General in Florida, and Beth Chapman is the new Secretary of State in Alabama.
Several pro-life women are heading back to the House of Representatives, including Michelle Bachmann in Minnesota, Marsha Blackburn and Diane Black in Tennessee, Virginia Foxx in North Carolina, Cynthia Lummis in Wyoming, Candice Miller in Michigan, Sue Myrick in North Carolina, Cathy McMorris Rogers in Washington, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in Florida, and Jean Schmidt in Ohio.
They will be joined by Kristi Noem of South Dakota, Jaime Herrera in Washington, Renee Elmers of North Carolina, and Sandy Adams of Florida.
Penny Nance, the CEO of Concerned Women for America, also weighed in on the election of so many pro-life women.
“We are especially pleased that conservative women will now represent so many of us in this country. All of the slanderous and degrading accusations against these women have thankfully fallen on deaf ears and Americans recognize that these women are indeed the leaders of the next generation and we could not be more thrilled to work with them when they get to Washington,” she said.
“The balance of power has shifted and Americans have given the newly elected leaders a chance to undo the damage President Obama and the Democrats have done,” Nance added.
Nance said she expects the mainstream media to diminish the news that so many women who don’t represent the pro-abortion agenda won election.
“In the coming days media pundits will no doubt try to diminish our conservative victory and attempt to divide a movement unified in principle. This new Congress will be well-served to turn the TV off and listen to the women of America,” she said.
The results also indicate several pro-abortion women lost their campaigns or bids for re-election.
Incumbents Ann Kirkpatrick lost in Arizona, Carol Shea-Porter lost in New Hampshire, Suzanne Kosmas lost in Florida, Debbie Halvorson lost in Illinois.
Roy Blunt beat pro-abortion Robin Carnahan in Missouri, pro-life John Boozman beat pro-abortion Sen, Blanch Lincoln in Arkansas, and pro-life Cory Gardner defeated pro-abortion Betsy Markey in Colorado.
November 04, 2010
U.S. and Its Broken Immigration System to Be Reviewed by U.N. Human Rights Council
(CNSNews) The United States this week will undergo its first appraisal by the U.N. Human Rights Council, and one of the issues likely to be raised – thanks to the Obama administration – is Arizona’s new immigration law.
On Friday, representatives of HRC member states, observer countries and non-governmental organizations will evaluate the U.S. human rights record in a three-hour “interactive dialogue” at HRC headquarters in Geneva.
Known as the “universal periodic review” (UPR), the process is one every U.N. member state is expected to go through every four years.
Among the documents on the table during the evaluation will be a report by the government, presenting its assessment of the human rights situation in the U.S.
Ahead of its Nov. 5 review, the State Department submitted  the report to the HRC in August, and sparked a storm of controversy by including in it a reference to the Arizona legislation.
“A recent Arizona law, S.B. 1070, has generated significant attention and debate at home and around the world,” the report stated. “The issue is being addressed in a court action that argues that the federal government has the authority to set and enforce immigration law. That action is ongoing; parts of the law are currently enjoined.”
The document went on to pledge that “President Obama remains firmly committed to fixing our broken immigration system …”
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer is seen through a fence as she arrives for a private meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House on Thursday, June 3, 2010. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) has tasked its European Center for Law and Justice (ECLJ) affiliate, which participates in the UPR process as an accredited NGO, to prepare a submission asking for the Arizona law reference to be disregarded during the UPR, on the grounds that it “falls outside the realm of human rights.”
“By including the Arizona immigration law in the report, the Obama Administration undercut American sovereignty, the well-established principle of federalism, and the popular will of the people,” said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for ACLJ and ECLJ.
The Arizona law comes before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco on Monday. Brewer is appealing a lower-court ruling that put on hold key provisions of the law. A decision is not expected for weeks or months.
Death penalty, Gitmo
Among issues expected to come up during the U.S. UPR on Friday, based on U.N. documents prepared for the meeting as well as questions submitted in advance by various countries, are:
-- Stateless persons
The U.N. High Commission for Refugees wants the U.S. to provide “a pathway to permanent legal status” for people inside the country who are stateless. For those who do not qualify for legal status, it recommends that administrative reforms be made to ease the restrictions placed on them. Norway plans to ask the U.S. delegation whether there is any intention to revise “the amended immigration and asylum laws.”
-- The death penalty
A number of countries raise the death penalty issue, including the Netherlands, which asks whether the U.S. would consider abolishing or declaring a moratorium on the death penalty within federal and military jurisdictions, and if not, then to “elaborate on the challenges” preventing it from doing so.
-- Treatment of detained terror suspects
Russia asks what steps are being taken against those responsible for torturing detainees at “secret prisons” and detention facilities at Bagram and Guantanamo Bay. Russia also wants to know what is being done to provide effective remedies to “civilian victims of the ‘war on terror,’ including detainees at “secret prisons” and Bagram and Guantanamo Bay. Britain asks the U.S. to outline the steps needed to ensure the final closure of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.
United Nations flags line the Pont du Mont-Blanc, one of the bridges over the Rhone River in Geneva, Switzerland, seat of the U.N. Human Rights Council, on October 21, 2010. (UN Photo by Jean-Marc Ferre)
After Friday’s session, a troika of randomly-selected countries – Cameroon, France and Japan – will compile a document containing recommendations arising from the proceedings. The HRC will then “adopt” that document, at a session scheduled for Tuesday Nov. 9.
When the HRC was established in 2006 as part of a series of U.N. reforms, the UPR was held up as one of its most significant mechanisms – a means to ensure that every country, including the most egregious human rights violators, would periodically find itself in the spotlight and have to explain its policies to the rest of the international community.
In practice, however, the UPR has disappointed many human rights advocates.
Countries with poor rights records, such as Iran  and China , have eased through the process shrugging off criticism by Western countries and winning applause from their allies.
November 05, 2010
Iowa voters boot `rogue` judges
(OneNewsNow) Iowa voters have ousted the three state Supreme Court justices who voted to redefine marriage.
Iowa`s Supreme Court recently voted unanimously in favor of homosexual "marriage," and three of those justices were recently on the ballot for a retention vote. But following Tuesday night`s election, Chuck Hurley, president of the Iowa Family Policy Center (IFPC), informed OneNewsNow those judges will soon be out of a job. (See earlier story)
"So we`re praising God; we`re thanking all the Iowans who stood up to judicial tyranny," he shares. "It`s great news in Iowa, and it`s great news for the country that judges don`t have to lord it over us. `We the people` are the ultimate authority."
The pro-family advocate adds that one of the most heartening aspects of the campaign was the fact that hundreds of pastors across the state spoke out about the issue.
"God is our ultimate authority, and we think that we did God`s will by standing up to the three judges who would try to redefine God`s institution and say that marriage is anything other than one man and one woman," Hurley explains.
Outgoing Governor Chet Culver (D) could appoint liberal judges to replace the three, but the IFPC president says they can also be ousted if necessary.
November 05, 2010
Dead Sea Scrolls to be Released to the Public Online
(Christian Post) Google and the IAA (Israel Antiquities Authority) announced Tuesday from Jerusalem that they will release the Dead Sea Scrolls online.
“Putting the Dead Sea Scrolls online is the ultimate way to share the scrolls with the public and the scholarly world," said Pnina Shor, project manager on behalf of the IAA, according to CBN.
Not long ago, the home for the scrolls, which are known to be the greatest archaeological treasures to ever be discovered, was North Carolina`s Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh.
The collection of documents consists of about 30,000 fragments of the scrolls, which are approximately 2,000 years old. There are 900 religious manuscripts found throughout the scroll fragments and they stretch as far as 30 feet. The parchment and papyrus scrolls now sit in temperature-controlled rooms at the Israel Museum. Only trained workers are allowed to handle the fragile artifacts.
The Dead Sea Scrolls include the oldest written record of the Old Testament ever found. Written between the second century B.C. and the first century A.D., they are 800-1,000 years older than previously-known manuscripts.
The purpose of the online project, Shor explained, is to widen the access of the scrolls.
"By putting them online, we will enable people from all over the world by the click of a button to sit on their couches and go through them, read through them," Shor said.
Using technology developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, the IAA will image the fragments to be posted. Information along with the images including transcriptions, translations, commentaries and bibliography will be posted by Google-Israel.
“We are establishing a milestone connection between progress and the past to preserve this unique heritage for future generations," said Shuka Dorfman, general director of the IAA, according to Computerworld.com.
“At the end of a comprehensive and profound examination, we have succeeded in recruiting the best minds and technological means to preserve this unrivaled cultural heritage treasure which belongs to all of us, so that the public with a click of the mouse will be able to freely access history in its fullest glamour,” Dorfman added.
Professor Yossi Matias, director of Google-Israel Research and Development Center, expects the material will be made available “relatively fast” as soon as they get the content.
Within a few months the first stages of the project will be available online, and completed within the next five years.
November 05, 2010
Oklahomans Asked to OK Ban on Islamic Law in State Courts
(Christian Post) Oklahoma voters will be asked to approve or reject a state constitutional amendment that would ban Islamic Sharia law from serving as a basis in the state`s courts.
Question 755 of State Referendum 355 will ask Oklahoma residents to amend Article 7 of the state’s constitution to forbid the state’s courts from using or even consider Sharia law when ruling in a legal proceeding. Republican State Rep. Rex Duncan sponsored the proposed “Save our State” amendment in the state House of Representative and later won approval in the state Senate by a 41 to 2 margin.
Duncan believes, while there has been no example of Sharia law being practiced in Oklahoma state law, it is an issue that may become a problem in the state’s future.
“Why wait until it’s in the courts?” he asks.
In some Muslim countries, Sharia law is used to forcefully endorse the wearing of headdresses and restricted rights for women, contract marriages and even harm to non-believers.
While such a system may seem far removed from a nation such as the United States, Duncan insists that Islamic law has been influencing the U.S. legal system more and more in recent years.
“Judges in other states and on the federal bench have increasingly turned to citing international law in their court decisions,” Duncan claims in a statement announcing the proposed amendment.
In a 2003 judgment, for example, the Texas Second District Court of Appeals allowed for a Muslim couple to observe the Texas Islamic Court’s arbitration ruling in divorce and custody hearings.
In another case, a New Jersey judge ruled in favor of a Moroccan husband disputing rape charges against his wife, saying he acted in accordance to his religion. The ruling, notably, was later overturned.
According to Duncan, judicial reliance on Sharia law is “grossly inappropriate in a sovereign state such as our own.”
He asserts that court decisions should be decided based on the state and national constitutions.
Sarah Thompson, communications coordinator of the Islamic Society of North America, in response, has criticized the efforts of Duncan and the supporters of the proposed amendment.
“It’s all a bunch of rhetoric that is used to scare people,” she says.
Thompson, who converted to Islam from Catholicism, says Sharia law is practiced as the central law in some Muslim countries but suggests its practice in the United States would fall in line with federal and local laws.
“It does say in the Qu’ran that if you live in a country that does not [impose] Sharia law then you have to abide the laws of your country,” she argues.
Still, critics of Sharia law insist otherwise, saying that Sharia is totally incompatible with democracy and human rights.
According to Nonie Darwish, an Egyptian who has lived under Sharia law for 30 years, even the majority of Muslims in the world would not want to live under Sharia.
“To live under Islamic Sharia law is to live in the world’s largest maximum-security prison,” she writes in her book Cruel and Usual Punishment: The Terrifying Global Implications of Islamic Law.
“The West must never allow even limited Sharia marriage and family laws to be practiced in any Western democracy, simply because it is against basic principles of human rights and equality between the sexes,” says the former Muslim turned Christian.
November 04, 2010
Despite New Law, Problems Persist With Military Vote
(CNSNews) Alaska, Colorado, Illinois, Nevada and Wisconsin – some of the fiercest battlegrounds of the of the 2010 midterm election -- are among the 14 states and territories singled out by the U.S. Justice Department for not complying with the federal law that says absentee ballots must be sent in time for overseas soldiers, sailors and airmen to have their votes counted.
“I’m incredibly concerned that ballots were mailed out 25 days before an election, meaning there is a significant chance they won’t make it to service members prior to an election,” Eric Eversole, executive director of the Military Voter Protection Project, told CNSNews.com. “Will some troops be disenfranchised? Possibly. How widespread, I don’t know.”
The Military Voting Protection Project, working with law students in 14 states, found that numerous state and local governments failed to comply with the Military and Overseas Voter Enforcement (MOVE) Act, signed by President Barack Obama last year, to address the long-standing problem of getting ballots to members of the U.S. military in time for their votes to be counted.
The law signed by Obama requires states to mail absentee ballots to voters in the military at least 45 days before an election. This year, that date fell on Sept. 18.
Susan G. Komen contributed over $3 million in the past five years to Planned Parenthood
What`s the point of collecting money to fight breast cancer only to hand it over to people causing breast cancer?
Could it be left-wing ideology?
As Breast Cancer Awareness Month drew to a close Sunday, a major breast cancer-fighting foundation came under fire for giving money to Planned Parenthood, the nation`s largest abortion provider. Growing scientific evidence points to a strong correlation between abortion and breast cancer.
The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation is "the largest recipient of nonprofit funds going toward breast cancer research," according to Bradley Mattes, executive director of the Life Issues Institute.
Mattes told WND the Komen Foundation contributed $731,000 to Planned Parenthood during fiscal year 2009, and $3 million over the past five years.
"They deny there`s a link between abortion and breast cancer," Mattes told WND. "Even if the media came down and hit them in the head, I don`t believe that they`d change their mind because they believe abortion is a positive."
Mattes said people who want to fight breast cancer should donate to other organizations.
"Komen must be transparent and publicly apologize for using donations to fund Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the country. Abortion is the single most significant risk factor for breast cancer. While Komen seeks a cure for breast cancer, it funds abortion, which increases the risk of breast cancer. This duplicity must stop. Komen must cease abortion funding and remain true to its mission," Mathew D. Staver, the founder of Liberty Counsel, stated in a press release.
In a table labeled "Breast Cancer Risk Factors," the Komen website asserts that abortion poses "No increase or decrease in risk." Elsewhere on the website, Komen states that linking abortion to breast cancer is "disinformation."
"We agree with the bulk of scientific evidence – from the National Cancer Institute, Harvard, a rigorous study in Denmark and from Oxford University – that there is no conclusive link between breast cancer and induced abortion or miscarriage," wrote Komen`s chief scientific adviser, Eric Winer, M.D., last year.
The evidence that abortion contributes to breast cancer appears, however, to be mounting. In June, the London Daily Mail reported on a recent study in Sri Lanka finding that abortion "triples" the risk of breast cancer. The Daily Mail reported that three other studies, in China, Turkey, and the U.S., came to "similar conclusions" in the past 14 months.
According to the British paper, Louise Brinton, a senior researcher with the U.S. National Cancer Institute who did not accept the link, reversed her position earlier this year to say she was now convinced abortion increased the risk of breast cancer by about 40 percent.
Another organization fighting abortion and breast cancer, the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer, quotes a study conducted by a second National Cancer Institute-commissioned scientist, Janet Daling, whom it describes as "an abortion supporter":
"[A]mong women who had been pregnant at least once, the risk of breast cancer in those who had experienced an induced abortion was 50% higher than among other women."
Abortion is the "best predictor of breast cancer" according to a 2007 study, "The Breast Cancer Epidemic: Modeling and Forecasts Based on Abortion and Other Risk Factors," by Patrick S. Carroll of the London-based research institute PAPRI and published in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.
According to Mattes, the Komen Institute is fully aware of the new developments in the study of breast cancer causes but will continue to support Planned Parenthood in any case, because the organization is "steeped" in pro-abortion philosophy.
"The details have been shared repeatedly with the organization," said Mattes. "This is not an issue of them being uninformed."
Mattes told WND that Nancy Brinker, the founder of Komen, has been involved with Planned Parenthood for many years.
A Komen spokesman confirmed to WND that Brinker "at one time many years ago, serve briefly on the board of directors for the North Texas chapter of Planned Parenthood."
The Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer agrees with Mattes that the problem is ideological.
"One of the difficulties with anti-cancer organizations is that radical feminists took up the breast cancer cause in the 1980`s. They saw this as a means of championing women`s rights, so it must have come as a surprise to them when they learned that their dominant concern – abortion – caused breast cancer. Once it became apparent that they had a conflict between abortion ideology and protecting women`s health, abortion won hands down!"
Mattes noted that for years, major research institutes have denied any link between abortion and breast cancer because the issue has been "politicized."
"It`s not politically correct to acknowledge that," said Matthes. "It took many years for the link between smoking and lung cancer to be acknowledged."
On its website, the Komen Institute emphasizes that all of its donations to Planned Parenthood go exclusively to support programs for breast cancer screening.
"That`s a ridiculous argument," responded Mattes. "If you gave our organization money but you didn`t want it going to support our television program, we could apply it to lights and rent, and use the rent money for the television program. There`s no way to separate the two. If you give money to Planned Parenthood, you`re supporting the largest string of abortion mills in the U.S."
(WorldNetDaily) Facial recognition expert Robert Schmitt has produced a video in which he analyzes a daguerreotype that may be the earliest photographic image taken of Abraham Lincoln against well-known images of the 16th president.
The daguerreotype, identified only as a "Portrait of a Young Man," was obtained in 1977 by collector Albert Kaplan, who purchased the image for $27 from among a group of 100 being sold by an art gallery on 57th Street in New York City.
Upon seeing the unidentified daguerreotype, Kaplan believed the image was Lincoln. A few days later, after he had a chance to examine Lincoln`s known photographic images, he became convinced.
While Schmitt leaves the ultimate determination to the viewer, he makes clear that, in his professional judgment, the facial recognition software establishes a convincing probability the person pictured in the daguerreotype is Lincoln.
Schmitt, with 12 years of experience in facial recognition technology, was the former president of Biometrica, a leading identity recognition company specializing in the casino industry.
1,000 Rabbis Joins Vatican Cardinal in Prohibiting Voting for Anti-Life Candidates
(LifeSiteNews) Rabbi Yehuda Levin, spokesman for the Rabbinical Alliance of America, which represents more than 1000 Rabbis, has on behalf of his organization welcomed and endorsed the recent election-themed statements by American Cardinal-designate, Raymond L. Burke, Prefect of the Catholic Church`s highest court.
In a 25-minute video interview with Catholic Action for Faith and Family, which was broadcast last week on EWTN and other networks, Archbishop Burke stated: “You can never vote for someone who favors absolutely the right to choice of a woman to destroy a human life in her womb or the right to a procured abortion.”
He added: “You may in some circumstances where you don’t have any candidate who is proposing to eliminate all abortion, choose the candidate who will most limit this grave evil in our country, but you could never justify voting for a candidate who not only does not want to limit abortion but believes that it should be available to everyone.”
"In these crucial times in which we live, where many clerics tread with fear, Cardinal-designate Burke is to be commended and emulated as a voice of leadership,” said Rabbi Levin. “This moral teaching of the Catholic Church set forth in Burke`s interview with Thomas McKenna, is clearly found in the Torah and serves to give solid guidance to voters whether they are Christian, Jew or any man of faith.”
"We must implement this teaching now, in the closing hours of the 2010 election cycle,” stressed the spokesman for the Rabbinical Alliance of America. “We hope in the ensuing two years to have many other denominations sign on to this prohibition. This historic alliance announced today is far more important than working together for tuition tax credits for our parochial schools. Today is nothing less than the declaration of a `spiritual civil war.`”
Rabbi Levin concluded: "Let no person think that this directive is merely an intellectual exercise. This is a call to action to uphold the natural and moral law with pro-active voting according to our religious values. There can be no middle ground when it comes to the Sacred Laws: Marriage is between one man and one woman, and respect for all human life is obligatory. Now go out, spread the word and vote accordingly."
November 04, 2010
Christian Couple Fired for Being `Too Religious` Seeks Trial
(CNSNews) The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments Thursday over whether Hallmark Companies discriminated against a Christian couple when it fired them.
Daniel and Sharon Dixon were managing an apartment complex in Lake City, Fla., but were fired after their supervisor told them they were "too religious."
The supervisor made the conclusion based on one stained glass artwork with flowers that contained the phrase "Consider the lilies ... Matthew 6:28."
"The artwork was displayed in the leasing office, right next to prominent disclaimers that Hallmark does not discriminate in housing decisions against anyone," Horatio G. Mihet, Senior Litigation Counsel with Liberty Counsel, explained. "They did not have a cross or a Bible or any other religious item in the office."
The Dixons, who are committed Christians, had only been working at the apartment complex for a month in 2007 but they had worked for Hallmark Companies on a prior occasion for a couple of years, managing two different complexes. And the 26 inches by 50 inches artwork was displayed at all of the offices they worked at without any complaints, Mihet said.
The couple was also living at the Lake City complex – Thornwood Terrace – which receives federal funds to subsidize rent of low-income residents, as part of their compensation.
There, the couple`s supervisor, Christina Saunders, made a number of office visits and later asked them if the stained glass artwork referred to Scripture. After Sharon Dixon confirmed that it did, the supervisor asked her to remove it immediately.
Hoping to bring her husband into the discussion, Sharon left to find him and when they returned, Saunders had removed the art piece and told them they were fired for being "too religious." They were also told to vacate the building within 72 hours.
The Dixons filed suit in June 2008, charging Hallmark with religious discrimination. Saunders testified that she thought the display containing a biblical reference violated the Fair Housing Act and had a policy that prohibited religious items in the management office. The supervisor maintained that the couple was fired for insubordination because they argued with her and insisted the picture would be rehung and even attempted to rehang it.
Saunders also denied allegations that she told the couple they were "too religious."
A federal district court judge ruled summarily against them, concluding that no reasonable jury could find discrimination on the evidence presented by the Dixons.
Mihet said the judge ruled erroneously.
On Thursday, oral arguments were presented before the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, where Hallmark is headquartered. Mihet is optimistic.
"Hallmark’s counsel actually admitted during argument that, had Hallmark asked him whether the picture should be removed, he would have advised that it should stay on the wall," he noted to The Christian Post. "We expect that the Court of Appeals will reverse the summary judgment and remand the action back to the district court with instructions to move the case to a jury trial."
Mihet expects that a jury will find that "Hallmark fired the Dixons for being `too religious` and will give the Dixons justice."
November 04, 2010
`Credible Terrorist Threat` Prompts Warning to Chicago Houses of Worship
(Christian Post) All churches, synagogues, and mosques in the Chicago area are being urged to be vigilant for any unsolicited or unexpected packages, especially those originating from overseas locations.
The Anti-Defamation League has further alerted synagogues across the United States after learning from law enforcement sources of “a reported threat to Jewish institutions in the form of packages mailed from overseas, particularly Great Britain, Yemen and Saudi Arabia.”
“In light of the reported threat, the League has sent out a notice to U.S. Jewish communal institutions across the country to increase mailroom security and to contact law enforcement immediately if they see anything suspicious,” the group reported Friday.
Before the announcement, two “suspicious packages” bound for the United States were found to contain explosives.
The packages, which were en route to two places of Jewish worship in Chicago, had been located in Dubai and the East Midlands Airport in the United Kingdom. Both were found to have originated in Yemen.
According to the White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, President Obama was alerted of the “credible terrorist threat” at 10:35 p.m. Thursday night. Shortly after, a number of federal agencies were informed of the threat and mobilized to action.
“I directed the Department of Homeland Security and all our law enforcement and intelligence agencies to take whatever steps are necessary to protect our citizens from this type of attack,” reported President Obama in an statement delivered late Friday afternoon.
Adding to that, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism John Brennan told reporters that the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and other domestic agencies “have reached out to the appropriate private-sector entities as well as organizations to ensure that any other potential targets of such attacks are alerted.”
“So we’re working very closely with state and local officials,” he added.
Presently, a forensic analysis of the two packages is underway as federal investigators look into possible suspects. Until the analysis is completed, DHS has declined from speculating on the potential extent of damage the packages could have caused.
What can be said, however, is that the devices “intended to do harm.”
“We are working closely with [the Yemeni government] and we are going to get to the bottom of this plot,” Brennan reported.
Religious institutions have been encouraged to contact law enforcement immediately if they see anything suspicious.
November 04, 2010
Bachmann wants Constitution class
(Politico) For the Tea Party soldiers worried that the young upstarts they’re poised to send to Congress will lose their constitutional druthers once they get to Congress, Rep. Michele Bachmann has a message: Fear not, she’s going to set up constitutional classes.
Bachmann spokesman Sergio Gor says, “It was something she’s always wanted to do. There’s so many folks that come to Capitol Hill to discuss obscure and mundane topics, but no one coming regularly to discuss bill of rights or the role of government.”
Bachmann won’t be teaching the classes, Gor says, but will help organize sessions with constitutional scholars, experts, and judges likely to be held in one of the committee rooms on the Capitol Hill complex. The classes will be open to any members — not just freshman — looking to continue their study of America’s founding documents. They will not be open, however, to staff or members of the press, and the list of speakers won’t be made public.
“They’ll provide mechanism for any member to candidly ask questions and learn and explore together,” Gor says. “I think it came about because a lot of good people get elected, but a lot of them get co-opted into the establishment. Right now a lot [of candidates] are running as constitutional conservatives and we want to make sure there’s a support group for those members.”
As for other plans to reach out to the new members post election? That will have to wait until after Tuesday. “We don’t want to speculate on what she wants to do,” says Gor. “She’ll remain chairwoman of Tea Party caucus, and she does have a pretty full plate already.”
November 04, 2010
Military survey avoids key question
(OneNewsNow) A national defense analyst and Pentagon advisor doesn`t think a leaked Pentagon survey is accurate in saying a majority of active duty and reserve service members wouldn`t object to serving and living alongside homosexuals in the military service.
The Pentagon will not officially release the findings of the survey until December 1, but NBC News got wind of the results and reported them last week. While a majority of those surveyed indicate they would not object to serving alongside homosexuals, some are strongly against the idea and say they would quit the military if policy is changed.
Lt. Col. Bob Maginnis (USA-Ret.) was part of the military working group that helped craft the 1993 law that states homosexuals are ineligible to serve in the military. He says the survey was deliberately slanted in favor of repeal by not asking the question directly.
"They did not ask the question whether or not homosexuals should serve in the military; they did not ask the question whether or not the ban should be lifted," Maginnis points out. "So any suggestion that the military members have no problem with homosexuals serving openly has to be taken with a lump of salt because that question wasn`t asked."
He believes the fact that a large plurality objects to outright homosexual military service illustrates a serious concern for the future of the all-volunteer force. "All it takes is a very small percentage to make it very difficult for the armed forces to retain the size force it requires," he warns.
The Pentagon advisor also deems it important to note that only one-fourth of those to whom the survey was sent took the time to fill it out.
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