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Psaki: Kim Jong-un Comedy Totally Different from Mohammed Film Slammed by State Dept.

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Sony Pictures officially decided not to release The Interview on Dec. 25 as planned, citing the major theater chains that refused to show the movie after hackers made 9/11-style threats against screenings.

“We respect and understand our partners’ decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theater-goers,” the Sony statement said.

“Sony Pictures has been the victim of an unprecedented criminal assault against our employees, our customers, and our business. Those who attacked us stole our intellectual property, private emails, and sensitive and proprietary material, and sought to destroy our spirit and our morale — all apparently to thwart the release of a movie they did not like. We are deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie, and in the process do damage to our company, our employees, and the American public. We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome.”

The Associated Press reported moments ago that federal investigators have connected the hacking to North Korea.

At the State Department earlier today, Jen Psaki said department officials did meet with studio executives during production, as revealed in leaked emails, but disputed reports that they OK’d the picture. “We’re not in the business of signing off on content of movies or things along those lines,” she said.

“I can confirm for you that [Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel] Russel did have a conversation with Sony executives, as he does routinely with a wide range of private groups and individuals, to discuss foreign policy in Asia,” Psaki said. “[Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights Issues] Bob King, contrary to reports, did not view the movie and did not have any contact directly with Sony.”

“As we have — as we’ve noted before, entertainers are free to make movies of their choosing, and we are not involved in that,” she added.

Psaki said she wouldn’t compare the comedy about the assassination of Kim Jong-un to the Mohammed film initially blamed for the Benghazi attack, a movie heavily criticized by the State Department.

“I would not put them in the same category, which I’m sure does not surprise you,” Psaki said. “We don’t have — it’s a fiction movie. It’s not a documentary about our relationship with the United — with North Korea. It’s not something we backed, supported or necessarily have an opinion on from here.”

After violent reactions to Innocence of Muslims in 2012, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said “the United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.”

“We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of other,” the U.S. Embassy in Cairo said back then.

While being asked questions about unilateral changes in Cuba policy today, White House press secretary Josh Earnest if they would relax sanctions on North Korea under the same theory.

“That if you open it up, that you put more pressure on them, maybe they’ll change their behavior?” a reporter asked.

“No. OK,” Earnest bluntly responded, drawing laughter.

 

 

 

 

 

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Rubio: Pope Francis Should ‘Take Up the Cause of Freedom and Democracy’ in Cuba

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Catholic Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), while acknowledging the Vatican’s role in helping free USAID subcontractor Alan Gross from Cuba, said he hopes the Argentine pope continues to press for full human rights on the communist island.

“The Holy Father wishes to express his warm congratulations for the historic decision taken by the Governments of the United States of America and Cuba to establish diplomatic relations, with the aim of overcoming, in the interest of the citizens of both countries, the difficulties which have marked their recent history,” the Holy See said in a statement.

“In recent months, Pope Francis wrote letters to the President of the Republic of Cuba, His Excellency Mr Raúl Castro, and the President of the United States, The Honorable Barack H. Obama, and invited them to resolve humanitarian questions of common interest, including the situation of certain prisoners, in order to initiate a new phase in relations between the two Parties,” the statement continued.

“The Holy See received Delegations of the two countries in the Vatican last October and provided its good offices to facilitate a constructive dialogue on delicate matters, resulting in solutions acceptable to both Parties. The Holy See will continue to assure its support for initiatives which both nations will undertake to strengthen their bilateral relations and promote the wellbeing of their respective citizens.”

At a press conference this afternoon, Rubio stressed that he’s “not criticized” the pope’s intervention in the release of Gross, who had been held by Cuba for more than five years.

“I would also ask His Holiness to take up the cause of freedom and democracy, which is critical for a free people, for a people to truly be free. I think the people of Cuba deserve the same chances to have democracy as the people of Argentina have had, where he comes from, as the people of Italy have, where he now lives,” Rubio said. “Obviously, the Vatican’s its own state, but very nearby.”

“My point is I hope that people with that sort of prestige on the world stage will take up the cause of freedom and democracy,” the senator added.

“The Cuban people are the only people in this hemisphere that have not been able to elect a leader in more than 55 or 60 years. It’s outrageous. And for us to basically — for this government under Barack Obama to unilaterally give up all the things they gave up in exchange for nothing on the side of democracy, is unacceptable in my mind.”

A senior administration official told reporters this morning on a conference call that the support of the pope “was important to us, given the esteem with which both the American and Cuban hold the Catholic Church.”

“When President Obama met with Pope Francis, for instance, earlier this year, Cuba was a topic of discussion that got as much attention as anything else that the two of them discussed,” the official said. “So I would — I would say that this — particularly the, you know, the exchange and transfer of prisoners was finalized in that meeting at the Vatican, but we also were able to review the steps that we would each be taking with the — with the Vatican, including the normalization of relations between the countries and the establishment of diplomatic relations. And the Vatican welcomed that news.”

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Obama: May Hanukkah ‘Embolden Us to Do What Is Right’

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

The White House will be officially celebrating the Festival of Lights with late afternoon and evening  receptions tomorrow, but President Obama kicked off the holiday with his Hanukkah message today:

Over the eight nights of Hanukkah, Jews across America, Israel, and the world will remember an ancient triumph of freedom over oppression, and renew their faith in the possibility of miracles large and small.

Even in the darkest, shortest days of winter, the Festival of Lights brims with possibility and hope.  The courage of the Maccabees reminds us that we too can overcome seemingly insurmountable odds.  The candles of the Menorah remind us that even the smallest light has the power to shine through the darkness.  And the miracle at the heart of Hanukkah – the oil that lasted for eight nights instead of only one – reminds us that even when the future is uncertain, our best days are yet to come.

May this Hanukkah embolden us to do what is right, shine a light on the miracles we enjoy, and kindle in all of us the desire to share those miracles with others.  From my family to yours, Chag Sameach.

Tomorrow the Palestinians are expected to bring a resolution before the UN Security Council declaring a state and giving Israel two years to pull out of territory that the Palestinian Authority considers its own. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki left the door open to a U.S. vote in favor of such a resolution, telling reporters today “we have to see what the details are.”

“There is a perception …that we have never supported any UN action related to Israel, and that is not true,” Psaki said. “We have supported a range of actions in the past. What we haven’t supported is steps that are unilateral actions that predetermine the outcome of negotiations.”

The Palestinians need nine votes, or two-thirds of the council, for passage.

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What’s Moving Millennials Into the Pro-Life Camp?

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Millennials areincreasingly more pro-life and supportive of restrictions on abortion” than their Boomer and Gen-X parents. 

Blame science.

“There’s a window into the womb with ultrasound. Just having the look into the womb you can see, even in the first trimester, the early development of the child — you can see the humanity of the child,” Rose said. “Now that we have that imagery and it’s more prevalent, people are having that personal encounter with the child, so it’s easier to recognize their human rights.”

…”Years ago, it was the case that advocates for abortion would talk about the ‘thing’ growing in a woman’s womb as a lifeless blob of tissue,” Monahan explained. “And I think our advances in sonography and ultrasounds, and even our understanding of fetal development has dispelled those myths.”

She continued: “We know that, from the moment of conception, a baby has all of its DNA that it needs for the rest of its life. It has everything inherent that it will need for later on. Really, the only difference [between the preborn and adults] is in size and development.”

When most millennials were in the womb, ultrasound technology was still relatively new to pregnancy. Mothers of Gen-X/millennial crossovers most likely only had an ultrasound if there were suspected complications with the pregnancy. Today, however, those crossovers and their fellow millennials will have an ultrasound as early as 8 weeks to confirm pregnancy, including fetal heartbeat. One-dimensional sonograms will continue throughout the pregnancy. Parents will also have the option to have a 3-D or 4-D ultrasound done so that they may see their smiling baby in the womb.

Abortion is at an all-time low in the United States. And while abortion advocates are quick to note that the majority of women who are required to view sonograms before their abortions will choose to proceed with the abortion, the reality is that the majority of abortions in America are being performed before an 8 week ultrasound can be done. The women who abort after the ultrasound are in the minority that is growing smaller by the year.

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Saving the New Religious Refugees

Monday, December 15th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

In the 1800s, London became a haven for tens of thousands of Russian Jews fleeing their czarist homeland. Today, a similar scene takes place in the United Kingdom, but this time the refugees are Muslim converts to Christianity fleeing persecution in England or the Middle East.

Many Muslims who convert to Christianity face threats of death and harm, and friends and family turn them away. One organization in particular, Christian Concern, is helping converts find safe haven in homes, churches, and other places in the UK.

Christian Concern believes thousands of Muslims are anxious to convert and in need of housing so they can get back onto their feet after suffering verbal — and sometimes physical — attacks from families, friends and co-workers.

“We are motivated by a deep sense of love and compassion for those that feel trapped in a situation from which they cannot escape,” said Andrea Williams, the group’s chief executive.

“The penalty for converts at best is to be cut off from their family; at worst they face death,” she added. “This is happening not just in Sudan and Nigeria but in East London. The government has failed to deal with the rise in anti-Christian sentiment.”

Some of these converts are like Shokit Ali Sadiq, whose wife is also a Christian. He and his family received safe haven thanks to members of their church. Sadiq now works to convert others from Islam to Christianity, and he says that many Muslims want to convert but are afraid to do so.

“There are hundreds of people out there who want to leave Islam,” said Sadiq. “But they’re frightened of making their desire known.”

Others are like a woman who went unnamed for her interview. She faced physical attacks from other women after becoming a Christian. She prays that “one day my own family will have me back.”

Twenty-three-year-old Ali, whose former friends stabbed him and left him for dead when he converted in Pakistan at age 17, fled to England, where these same young men from his hometown tracked him down and threatened him again. He now works at a store and lives essentially in hiding,but he is hopeful that he can return to Pakistan one day to do the same work that saved his life.

“My life’s ambition,” he said, “is to return and start a charity that would provide safe houses for Muslims who convert to Christianity.”

This post uses a modified image from Shutterstock.

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Pope Bites Dog! Maybe…

Monday, December 15th, 2014 - by Michael Walsh

Remember that story about Pope Francis promising some distressed moppet whose dog had just died that good bowsers go to Heaven too? Bogus. The American Interest has the details, while the increasingly untrustworthy New York Times has the correction. First, the details:

A recent controversy over whether Pope Francis said that dogs go to heaven shows how deeply the media has bought into its own narrative about the pontiff’s brand of feel-good religion. Last week many media outlets reported that Francis told a boy whose dog had died that, “one day, we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ. Paradise is open to all of God’s creatures.” He was said to have supported this statement by a reference to a passage in Bible written by St. Paul. Reaction was swift: spiritual but not religious types got the warm fuzzies, while Catholic traditionalists sighed heavily under the burden of having such a Pope.

But the whole story was completely false. Pope Francis not only never said it; he never talked to a boy with a dead dog at all… The media has fallen in love with their own creation—the softhearted, easygoing, liberal pope they’ve long been waiting for—and are willing uncritically to run a story, any story, that puts him on display.

Oh, noes! It gets worse. The Religion News Service debunks here:

Yes, a version of that quotation was uttered by a pope, but it was said decades ago by Paul VI, who died in 1978. There is no evidence that Francis repeated the words during his public audience on Nov. 26, as has been widely reported, nor was there a boy mourning his dead dog.  “There is a fundamental rule in journalism. That is double-checking, and in this case it was not done,” the Vatican’s deputy spokesman, the Rev. Ciro Benedettini, told Reuters on Saturday.

But hey — the story was too good to check! Which is why a red-faced Times had to backtrack on its entire front-page story – which began with this by now-obligatory lede, “Pope Francis has given hope to gays, unmarried couples and advocates of the Big Bang theory. Now, he has endeared himself to dog lovers, animal rights activists and vegans” – with this instant classic of a correction:

Correction: December 12, 2014. An earlier version of this article misstated the circumstances of Pope Francis’ remarks. He made them in a general audience at the Vatican, not in consoling a distraught boy whose dog had died. The article also misstated what Francis is known to have said. According to Vatican Radio, Francis said: “The Holy Scripture teaches us that the fulfillment of this wonderful design also affects everything around us,” which was interpreted to mean he believes animals go to heaven. Francis is not known to have said: “One day, we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ. Paradise is open to all of God’s creatures.’’ (Those remarks were once made by Pope Paul VI to a distraught child, and were cited in a Corriere della Sera article that concluded Francis believes animals go to heaven.) An earlier version also referred incompletely to the largest animal protection group in the United States. It is the Humane Society of the United States, not just the Humane Society.

That correction is almost as embarrassing as this one (scroll all the way down. Sheesh.

 

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Let’s Try ‘God’ for $100

Friday, December 12th, 2014 - by Michael Walsh
Water, water everywhere...

One small step for a guy in a Hawaiian shirt…

There’s water on comets. But not water water. A different kind of water, unlike that on earth. So where did Earth’s water come from? The Huffington Post and others want to know:

Where did the Earth get its water? For years some scientists have argued that it was brought here by water-bearing comets that smashed into our planet during its infancy. But new data from the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission suggest that that theory is all wet.

The data show that the chemical signature of water found on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko differs significantly from that of the water found on Earth. (Comet 67P’s water contains about three times more of the heavy hydrogen isotope deuterium than does terrestrial water.) And that has Dr. Kathrin Altwegg, the principal investigator for the Rosetta instrument that collected the data, arguing that it’s unlikely that comets brought water our way.

So what – or who – brought good old H20 to earth?

Instead of comets, Altwegg said in a written statement, it could have been asteroids. She said that while asteroids today contain limited amounts of water, that probably wasn’t the case billions of years ago, according to The Guardian.

Next question: who put the water in the asteroids? Or is it comets and asteroids all the way down?

Meanwhile back on the idiot front:

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Jewish Worshiper Stabbed in Brooklyn Synagogue

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Cell phone video shot by witness. Graphic content.

The New York Post reports:

Police shot and killed a disturbed man inside one of Brooklyn’s most prominent synagogues Tuesday morning, apparently after he asked for a Bible and then stabbed someone there, sources said.

The bloodshed happened at the world headquarters of the Lubavitch Hasidic sect at 770 Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights shortly after 1 a.m., sources said.

Calvin Peters, 50, had walked into the basement of the synagogue where people were praying, sources said.

According to police sources, Peters asked for a copy of the Bible, then briefly walked out, sources said.

He returned and stabbed a an Israeli student in the side of the head for an unknown reason.

“He’s a very serious student he’d been studying all day,” witness Levi Deutsch said about the victim. “He was stabbed in the side of the head he was conscious but he was bleeding a lot.”

Another witness flagged down cops who were passing the headquarters.

Officers then confronted the man in an encounter that was captured on a dramatic video.

The cops warned Calvin Peters, believed to be homeless, to put down his knife several times. After finally putting it down, he grabbed it once more and lunged at the police officer, causing the officer to fire the fatal shot.

Mere weeks after the lethal stabbing attack conducted by Palestinian militants on a Jerusalem synagogue, CNN included this quote in their report:

“Most likely it is not a hate crime,” said Mony Ender, the deputy spokesman for Chabad Lubavitch in lsrael. “The assailant was not (running) amok. He stabbed one person, with an ordinary kitchen knife, although he could have attacked many more people who were there.”

However, according to the New York Daily News, the NYPD anti-terror unit was called out to the scene:

An Israeli student praying in a Brooklyn synagogue was stabbed in the neck early Tuesday after a knife-wielding maniac burst inside and yelled “I want to kill the Jew!”

…”I will kill the Jew! I want to kill the Jew!” a witness heard the attacker yelling as he entered the 24-hour religious center.

…A 25-year-old Israeli who was in the synagogue said he saw Peters enter and leave the building an hour before the attack.

“He was looking around, He asked for a book,” that witness said. “He looked not so much crazy, but different.”

When the man returned, he was armed with a knife in his hand and anger in his voice.

“I never thought it would happen in New York,” the witness told The News. “These things don’t need to happen.”

The stabbing victim is currently hospitalized in stable condition.

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Christian Convert Illegally Imprisoned and Tortured, Begins Hunger Strike

Thursday, December 4th, 2014 - by Raymond Ibrahim

FrontPage Magazine

According to attorney Karam Ghobrial (“Gabriel”), his client, Bishoy Armia Boulous, a Muslim convert to Christianity, remains illegally incarcerated and has “vowed to starve himself to death,” reports MCN.

Bishoy, more notoriously known as Mohammed Hegazy, is the first Egyptian ever to try legally to change his religious identity from Muslim to Christian on his official ID card, prompting much shock and outrage in Muslim-majority Egypt (see Crucified Again, p. 107).

Ghobrial further cited that Bishoy’s detention—in the execution chamber no less—is illegal, prompted solely by malicious charges against him, all of which stem from his original attempt to formally change his religious identity.

In the words of his lawyer: “Bishoy is imprisoned in the execution room in violation of the law.  Trumped up charges against him have not been proven and he is being treated even worse [than before].  He has not seen the light [of day] since being released from Minya’s misdemeanor court.”

Bishoy was arrested in July 2014.  Then, the judge in Minya cited “disturbing the peace by broadcasting false information” as the reason for sentencing the apostate, who in the weeks before was documenting political unrest in Egypt brought on by numerous Islamic attacks on Christians.   He was eventually released, but then immediately scooped up again by State Security acting on behalf of Cairo, now under the charge of “insulting the Islamic faith.”

Bishoy’s lawyer further said that “the [current] judge is behaving in a prejudiced manner in this case because Bishoy had publicly announced his conversion to Christianity.”  He stressed the “need for attention to this case, and escalating it, so everyone knows what this convert is being exposed to.”

Bishoy has now been imprisoned for nearly six months, without any action being done in his case.  He is being held on charges of “contempt to the Islamic religion” and reportedly spreading “false news” about the existence of State Security “torture chambers” where Muslim converts to Christianity are detained and tortured.  Bishoy apparently refuses to recant this claim (quite possibly because he himself is now experiencing it first hand).

As lawyer Karam Ghobrial maintains, it is clear that the real reason his client is being tortured in prison—where he is being held illegally under ever morphing charges—has to do with what made Bishoy Armia, formerly Mohammed Hegazy, notorious in Egypt in the first place: his audacity not only to convert to Christianity, but to try formally to change his religious identity from Muslim to Christian on his ID card, prompting much enmity for him in Egypt.

In short, Bishoy is just another prisoner of conscience, just another born Muslim who wishes to be Christian—but whose actions have been deemed offensive to the state.  His story occurs with great frequency all around the Islamic world.  One need only recall the plight of Meriam Ibrahim, a Christian wife and mother in Sudan who, while pregnant, was sentenced to be executed on the charge of apostatizing from Islam.  And in nearby Iran, for example, Iranian-American Christian pastor Saeed Abedini—also seen as an apostate agitator—continues to rot in prison.

 

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The Bible Belt Tightens Around the Koran: Atlanta Suburb Rejects Strip Mall Mosque

Thursday, December 4th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

Kennesaw, Georgia, a growing suburb northeast of Atlanta, ginned up controversy over 30 years ago with its law requiring every household to possess a gun. The college town created a new stir this week when its city council voted 4-1 to deny a request to a Muslim group wishing to open a mosque in a strip mall on a crowded stretch of highway.

The Suffa Dawat Center at Kennesaw petitioned to use the retail space for about two years while they built a permanent structure. The space would have been used for five daily 10-15 minute prayers and a 40-45 minute weekly prayer service with an expectation of 60-80 members at each service.

The city council had voted unanimously to allow a Pentecostal church to meet at a separate location, according to the Marietta Daily Journal.

“I believe it’s a retail space. It’s as plain and simple as that,” [council member Debra] Williams said.

[...]

Mayor Mark Mathews did not allow the public to comment on the mosque proposal at the Monday meeting. He said the vote on the church didn’t set a precedent because each application needs to be considered on its own.

“This is not anything that the city ever takes lightly for a land use permit, regardless of what it’s for. We are charged with honoring the law, the laws within the city and the ordinances within the city,” Mathews said before the vote.

A few city residents attended the meeting, while a handful of protesters took advantage of the warm weather and stood outside waving flags and signs that read, “No Mosque.” Alex Rowell at Peach Pundit petulantly compared the meeting to the “war on Christmas” (his quotes) and described the protesters in sneering terms:

Those wondering whatever could be the difference-maker between the church application and mosque application might want to look to the anti-Islamic protestors outside Monday’s meeting. Without a hint of irony, one protestor explained that she “wanted to exercise [her] First Amendment rights while [she] still can,” protecting her community from “infiltration by the enemy who has gone on record with the goal to destroy everything we stand for.” Another described his protest against allowing Kennesaw Muslims to open a place of worship as “turning the other cheek.”

However, the Marietta Daily Journal took a more sober approach:

Chad Legere of Mableton stood outside City Hall while the council discussed the issue waving signs in protest. He said he doesn’t want the United States to become the next Europe.

“There’s a way to stop Shariah law from getting into our country, and that’s what we’re doing,” Legere said.

Legere, who held a flag bearing the Star of David, said he thinks a mosque will bring radical Muslims to the community who will make the area unsafe.

Attorney Doug Dillard, who represents the Islamic group, hinted that the group may sue. Dillard successfully took a similar case in nearby Lilburn, Georgia, to court in 2011.

So, while the city of Kennesaw has had their say, this fight may not be over. But, with the threat of ISIS looming in the back of most everyone’s mind, will the pro-mosque forces have as easy a fight as they did just a few years ago?

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Beyonce Dons Niqab, Sexes Up Islam & Black Power Street Protests in New Video

Thursday, December 4th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Yeah, it’s that creepy.

Radical Islamists (and probably fairly traditional mainstream ones, for that matter) are already offended at Beyonce’s attempt to sex-up Islamic headwear by pairing the face-veiling niqab with a bare midriff and peek-a-boo boobs. So much for vowing to Qaddafi’s son to respect sharia law.

Mark Tapson breaks down the well-timed offense, a re-release of  a nearly year-old video, over at FrontPage:

The dirge drags on as Beyoncé pouts, scowls, and growls. Her mob smashes car windows with baseball bats, hurls Molotov cocktails, and burns cop cars while Beyoncé sings: “The laws of the world never stopped us once/’Cause together we got plenty super power.” Except for the music and the ultrachic posturing, it suggests the real-life “sensitive urban zones” of Paris, where immigrant “youth” go on nightly, car-immolating rampages and challenge the police in territorial skirmishes.

As the song draws mercifully to a close, the privileged Beyoncé – having peeled off the niqab and donned a camouflage jacket that costs probably $3000 – faces off with her defiant, multicultural mob of chiseled cheekbones against a line of cops in riot gear. She stands next to a man in a balaclava reminiscent of her niqab. The two of them clasp hands Thelma and Louise-style in anticipation of the confrontation to come. The message: rioting, property destruction, anarchy, and attacking cops are cool – and nothing influences youth more than the aura of cool.

…The video was actually first released last December, long before the August 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson. Why would Beyoncé believe that this is an appropriate time to put it back in the public eye?

Ratings. Tapson’s right, incitement, too. Because as the mainstream media has taught us so well in Ferguson, incitement garners ratings. And when you’re a brand you will absolutely pursue violence and death in the name of topping the charts. Will Beyonce brand this violent form of radical Islam-meets-black power the way she has so successfully branded feminism? Let’s hope so, only because Beyonce’s “feminism” has inspired so many celebs to leave the fold, and so many women to re-think exactly what a movement about freedom and equality should really look like.

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Netanyahu’s Early Elections May Yield Right-Wing Government

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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As is usual for a prime minister under fire, Bibi Netanyahu dissolved the Knesset this week in a call for early elections slated for March 2015. Those on the right rejoiced as Livni and Lapid, Leftist and Center-Leftist respectively, were kicked out of their high-ranking positions in the now defunct coalition. But, that isn’t the Right’s only reason for rejoicing. As David Horovitz reports in Times of Israel, the ultra-Right stands to claim a solid victory in March 2015:

The first three instant polls, taken late Tuesday and early Wednesday, for Channel 2, Channel 10, and Walla, predict a very different Knesset array three-and-a-half months from now. The three polls produce findings very similar to one another, indicating that Likud, Yisrael Beytenu and the former Likud minister Moshe Kahlon’s as-yet-unnamed new party will win 49-51 seats together — a staggering surge compared to the 31 won by Likud-Yisrael Beytenu last time. Jewish Home also gains five seats, in all three polls, to 17. That means the right wing could muster a 66- to 68-seat coalition — a healthy Knesset majority — with no need of outside assistance. Certainly no reliance on the likes of Livni or Lapid. And no reliance, either, on Shas or UTJ. The ultra-Orthodox parties could be invited into the coalition, but they wouldn’t have make-or-break leverage.

Let’s hope they don’t. The Israeli Left was abuzz this past September during my own visit to Israel. “Netanyahu will call for early elections. He’ll form a new coalition with the ultra-Orthodox,” they shook their heads, and with good reason. Yair Lapid may be playing politics, but the former TV news anchor-turned-politician made good points regarding Netanyahu’s timing:

The ultra-Orthodox Shas party entered the fray late Monday, with chairman Aryeh Deri reiterating his own demands for entering a post-election Netanyahu government. These included cutting the 18% sales tax on many basic grocery goods, raising the minimum hourly wage from NIS 23.12 ($5.87) to NIS 30 ($7.62), changing the recently passed ultra-Orthodox draft law, restoring some funds cut by the current government from ultra-Orthodox religious seminaries and schools – and the cancellation of Lapid’s tax-free housing program, which would only apply for those who served in the military, leaving many ultra-Orthodox out.

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Yale Study Concludes Babies are Natural Born Socialists

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Reporting on the most idiotic study involving babies to date, Mother Jones covers a Yale (that’s right, the Ivy League university) study performed by cognitive scientist Paul Bloom that is focused on answering the question: “ Can the youngest of our species distinguish good from evil practically from birth—or does morality need to be taught?”

Bloom’s thesis, in all its eugenic creepiness:

“I think all babies are created equal in that all normal babies—all babies without brain damage—possess some basic foundational understanding of morality and some foundational moral impulses,” says Bloom on the Inquiring Minds podcast. “They’re equal in the same way that all babies come with a visual system, and the ability to move around, and a propensity to learn language.”

To this end, Bloom showed babies a series of morality puppet plays, one-act jobs where cats either steal or return balls to dogs and babies choose which kitty they like better. They invariably choose the nice kitty. No comment on whether or not these babies prefer the color grey (the evil cat is orange) or the actor handling the grey kitty puppet for any particular reason — because those variables don’t matter in science. Even more stupefying to the scientists, “babies show a preference for characters who reward good and punish evil.” Isn’t it amazing that babies would respond well to rewards? I bet no parent alive ever guessed that one!

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Christian Woman on Death Row in Pakistan: ‘Please Don’t Abandon Me’

Monday, November 24th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Nicholas Kristof devoted precious New York Times space to the pleadings of one Christian Pakistani family to save their wife and mother from a death sentence:

Note: Asia Bibi, a Christian Pakistani woman, was sentenced to death for blasphemy against Islam in 2010. The year before, while picking fruit with Muslim women, she took a sip of water from the local well. She was immediately accused of making the water impure by ​the other workers, ​who told her that they could no longer use the well. A​ccording to her husband, Ashiq Masih, and others, men and women started beating her and accusing her of making derogatory remarks against the Islamic prophet Muhammad, a charge she denies. Asia is currently in prison waiting to be hanged after losing an appeal ​on ​Oct. 16. She has told her story in a memoir, Blasphemy: A Memoir: Sentenced to Death over a Cup of Water, written with French journalist Anne-Isabelle Tollet. 

Below is an open letter by Ashiq addressed to the world community. (Madam Mayor refers to Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, who has offered her support to Asia.)

Her husband writes, in part:

I live in hiding with my five children as near as possible to Asia. She needs us very much to help keep her alive, to bring her medicine and good food when she is sick.

After my wife had spent four long years in prison in terrible conditions, we were hoping that the High Court of Lahore would free my wife. She did not commit blasphemy, never. Since the court confirmed the death sentence on the 16th of October, we do not understand why our country, our beloved Pakistan, is so against us. Our family has always lived here in peace, and we never had any disturbance. We are Christians but we respect Islam. Our neighbors are Muslims and we have always lived well with them in our little village. But for some years now the situation in Pakistan has changed because of just a few people, and we are afraid. Today many of our Muslim friends cannot understand why the Pakistani justice system is making our family suffer so much.

We are now trying our best to present the final case to the Supreme Court before the 4th of December. But we are convinced that Asia will only be saved from being hanged if the venerable President Mammon Hussain grants her a pardon. No one should be killed for drinking a glass of water.

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Mom Ignores Authorities, Personally Rescues Daughter from ISIS

Thursday, November 20th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Call it woman power, call it feminism, and you’d be right. Turns out that old story about the mother who is able to lift a car to save her trapped baby has a new application. Now we can tell the story of the Dutch mother, who goes only by the name “Monique,” who blew past the authorities and went straight into the heart of hell to rescue her daughter Aicha from the grip of Islamic terror.

The New York Post reports:

“Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do,” the brave mother said. “This is what I think is right.”

At 18, Aicha converted to Islam and married a notorious Dutch jihadi named Omar Yilmaz, the Telegraph reports.

The young woman had fallen in love with the Islamic State militant and his lifestyle after seeing him interviewed on television. But as time passed, Aicha felt she had made a huge mistake.

“She wanted to go home, but could not leave Raqqa without help,” Monique said.

Authorities in the Netherlands urged the mom to stay home because it was too risky to try and get her back personally.

But once Aicha reached out to her mother last month for help, Monique decided to take off for Syria.

Donning a black burka to blend in, she made her way through Turkey and into the ISIS stronghold, where she met her daughter after coordinating a rendezvous through Facebook.

The pair crossed back over the Syrian border into Turkey, but since Aicha did not have a passport, she was promptly arrested along with her mother, according to the Telegraph.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Turkey is now mediating their return home and expects that the two will be back in the Netherlands within the week.

Okay Hollywood, where’s the movie deal? Better yet, let a counterculture conservative get their hands on the story and “let their right brain run free.” While Emma Watson trolls UN podiums and Beyonce flails around in front of flashy signs, Monique the Mom single-handedly changed the face of Western feminism in the way only a parent could. Not only did she dismiss every argument against motherhood with a wave of her hand, she bravely confronted what contemporary feminists seemingly cannot: The fact that radical Islam abuses women.

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Raymond Ibrahim on ‘A Call to Rights’ — The Dangers of ISIS

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014 - by Raymond Ibrahim

Raymond Ibrahim was recently interviewed on “A Call to Rights Radio Show,” with Steve Kates. To listen to the nearly one-hour long interview, click here (interview starts around the 9-minute mark)

From A Call to Rights website:

CRUCIFIED AGAIN

Exposing Islam’s New War On Christians

Forget what the history textbooks told you about martyrdom being a thing of the past. Christians are being persecuted and slaughtered today.

Raymond Ibrahim unveils the shocking truth about Christians in the Muslim world. Believers in Jesus Christ suffer oppression and are massacred at the hands of radicals for worshipping and spreading the gospel of the Lord.

Discover the true-life stories that the media won’t report in Ibrahim’s Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians.

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Prager University: Raymond Ibrahim on Muslim Persecution of Christians

Monday, November 10th, 2014 - by Raymond Ibrahim

In the newest Prager University course, I discuss Muslim persecution of Christians. From the Prager University website: “The most persecuted and victimized people in the world today are Christians in the Middle East. The perpetrators of the widespread destruction of that region’s Christian community? Islamists. Middle East expert Raymond Ibrahim lays out the grim details.”

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Turkish Journalist: Western Feminism Excuses Islam’s Abuses

Monday, November 10th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Turkish journalist Uzay Bulut succinctly detailed the crisis situation faced by women across the Islamic world. In doing so, she leveled her gaze at Western progressives, particularly feminists, who have a penchant for sweeping Islam’s crimes against women under the rug of “multiculturalism,” to the continued detriment of their sisterhood abroad:

Statements that come up with “multicultural” excuses to provide cover for the practices of fundamentalist Islam, however, never have, and never will, help to liberate women who suffer under Islamic misogyny, gender apartheid and jihad.

To make a positive change in Muslim countries, we need to be able to speak openly and tell the (too-often criminalized) truth about what Islamic teachings and traditions actually contain. Yet in Muslim countries, it is impossible speak openly about what is in these Islamic teachings and traditions, without putting one’s life at risk.

There is a situation even more frightening. It now seems to be difficult to speak openly about fundamentalist Islam even in Western countries, in part thanks to the dangerous enchantment of Western progressives and feminists who romanticize Islamism.

Women in the Muslim world desperately need the voice of Western progressives and feminists. But when it comes to finding excuses to neutralize critical questions about Islamic violence, Western progressives seem endlessly creative.

Feminists in the Islamic world have a laundry list of Western progressive feminism’s “Excuses for Abuses” which include:

Criticizing Islam is racist and reveals “intolerance,” “bigotry” and “Islamophobia.”

“Injustices against women take place all around the world, not just against Muslims or in Muslim countries.”

“What you are seeing is not the real Islam; Islam has been hijacked.”

“It is not about Islam. Crimes were committed and are being committed in all places throughout history.”

Bulut’s responses to the last two “Excuses” are particularly interesting:

“Not all Muslims are the same. There are good and bad Muslims, just as there are good and bad people in all religions.”

First of all, thank you very much for this genius discovery. But how can it help reduce the Islamic violence around the world?

Of course it is true that there are many good Muslims, whose values do not follow Islamic teachings verbatim, but also include humanitarian values. They do not wage war on other religions or try to bring them under submission to Islam. In the eyes of jihadis or Islamists, however, who live by the harshest interpretation of most doctrinaire Islamic teachings, such a quality makes them “bad Muslims.”

“All religions are essentially the same.”

Well, not quite. Biblical values are far more benign than Islamic ones, and generally descriptive rather than proscriptive. Furthermore, the most violent of them were long ago abandoned.

No religion, for instance, other than Islam, has ever commanded that those who insult or leave it should be put to death. (See Surahs 6:93, 33:57, 33:61)

Bulut’s conclusion acts as a clarion call to Western feminists: You can defend Islam, or you can defend women, but you cannot defend both.

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As Election Nears, Voters Agree Abortion Equals “Economic Justice”

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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A new survey reveals that companies like Facebook are on the cutting edge of the abortion argument when it comes to offering employees the freeze-your-eggs perk. For a new generation of career women, abortion rights (a.k.a. “reproductive justice”) are becoming increasingly tied to “economic justice”. Reporting on the survey, Maya Dusenbery, Executive Director of Feministing writes:

Far from seeing abortion access as something that shouldn’t be included in the broader agendas–let alone a poison pill that would sink their support for the legislation–voters agreed that reproductive rights are pretty key part of ensuring gender equality. As the chart above shows, strong majorities in both states agreed that a woman’s ability to control whether or when she has children is important to her financial stability and equality.

When the question is about the impact of access to abortion specifically, the figure drops slightly to about half. But that simply suggests that we need to more clearly show that abortion is a very common way that people control their reproductive lives–by fighting the stigma that paints folks who have abortions as “the other” when in fact we’re not–and continuing to highlight just how precarious access to the procedure has become, particularly for those with the least financial stability.

Results of the survey illustrate that the highest supporters of government funded abortion are African Americans, Latinos, and those with household incomes less than $50,000/year. The racial statistics shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that the majority of abortions are performed among the Black and Latino communities:

According to 2010 census data, African Americans make up 12.6% of the U.S. population but the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that black women accounted for 35.4% of all abortions in 2009. The Guttmacher Institute (AGI) puts the percentage of black abortions at 30% of the U.S. total.Their most recent numbers are from 2008. Similarly, AGI tells us that Hispanic women accounted for 25% of all U.S. abortions in 2008, though Hispanics make up just 16.3% of the U.S. population.The CDC lists the percentage of Hispanic abortions at 20.6%. Compare those numbers to non-Hispanic whites, who make up 63.7% of America’s population, but account for only 36% of all U.S. abortions (37.7%according to the CDC).

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‘Think’ Progress: Global Warming Causes Mountain Goats to Suffer Significant Shrinkage

Friday, October 24th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Humans have only been able to keep accurate track of temperatures fairly globally for about 100 years now. Considering the age of the earth, which is billions of years, 100 years of temperature readings is not a statistically significant sample size to assess massive climate trends and changes. It’s all we have, but it’s not enough.

And it’s nowhere near as conclusive and “settled” as the warmists and alarmists claim that it is. In fact, the globe hasn’t even been warming for the past 18 years or so (hence the switch to “climate change”), a fact left out of pieces like this one, which blames global warming for a supposed shrinkage in the size of mountain goats.

New research has found that climate change is causing mountain goats living in the Alps to shrink. The study, which was published Tuesday in the journal Frontiers in Zoology, found that adolescent Alpine chamois mountain goats are significantly smaller than their peers were 30 years ago, weighing about 25 percent less than goats in the 1980s did. The researchers called this change in body mass over 3 decades “striking.” They also said the shrinking “appears to be strongly linked” with increased temperatures in the growing season of the goats’ Alpine habitats.

25% in 30 years? At that rate, they’ll become trendy pocket pets in another year or two.

The researchers note that in ungulates, a group of mammals that includes goats, cows, horses and other hoofed animals (though whales and dolphins are also sometimes included), “behavioural changes, such as allocating less time to foraging, play an important role in thermoregulation.” This means that, to avoid getting too hot, the chamois goats don’t forage for food as much during the hottest parts of the day, and don’t forage as much in general when the temperature remains high throughout the day. If chamois eat less during warmer growing seasons, they aren’t likely to reach the same body mass as goats who lived through cooler growing seasons.

Smaller goats? Even if that’s true I’m struggling to see an actual problem here. So surely we must modify our entire economic system and put it into the hands of wizened central planners. Let us all sacrifice human self-determinism for the sake of the body mass of a bunch of goats.

The same “Think” Progress article makes all kinds of other questionable claims.

As the study notes, this isn’t the first time that scientists have discovered climate change to be behind changes in animal body mass. Six species of salamander in the Appalachian Mountains have been growing shorter over the last 50 or so years, with salamanders living in the southernmost sites that researchers visited showing the most shrinkage. And shrinking sea ice is in turn leading to smaller polar bears — the lack of sea ice means polar bears can’t hunt like they used to, and end up spending less time eating and gaining weight.

Still struggling to see an actual problem, even if all of that is true.

Polar bears may or may not actually be shrinking, and but polar ice is not. The fact is, all polar bear population figures and statistics are educated guesses — according to pro-polar bear activist scientists. That’s fine; educated guesses are part of science. Dogma claiming to be science that happens to support a given political platform and blasts all skeptics and critics with the open-mindedness and tolerance of the Spanish Inquisition is not.

Polar ice grows and shrinks seasonally and over longer timescales, and currently Antarctic ice is growing at a record rate while Arctic ice is shrinking somewhat. That’s subject to change as the climate does in fact change, as it has done for literally billions of years (therefore, well before the invention of the eeevil internal combustion engine). That’s a whole lot less sexy to say than “We’re losing all the ice and all the animals are shrinking and New York is gonna be underwater!” but it’s the truth.

As for the mountain goats? Who knows? The goats might have been bigger or smaller prior to the onset of climate alarmism. The data are incomplete. Animals adapt. We need data, not dogma.

I’ll take an educated guess that “Think” Progress is full of political hot air, though.

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Houston Mayor Annise Parker Lies, Renews Assault on City Pastors

Monday, October 20th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Houston Mayor Annise Parker initially defended her decision to subpoena the sermons of several pastors who lead churches in the city. Parker defended that decision publicly, on Twitter.

 

Blowback was national, immediate and fierce (though, not from Wendy Davis, Barack Obama or any other of Parker’s fellow Democrats. They stayed quiet as Parker launched lawfare against churches.).

Parker backtracked and lied, claiming that she isn’t interested in the sermons.

Now she is lying again, claiming that the pastors knew that she wasn’t ever interested in their sermons.

“‘We don’t need to intrude on matters of faith to have equal rights in Houston, and it was never the intention of the city of Houston to intrude on any matters of faith or to get between a pastor and their parishioners,’ Parker said. ‘We don’t want their sermons, we want the instructions on the petition process. That’s always what we wanted and, again, they knew that’s what we wanted because that’s the subject of the lawsuit.’”

That is not what the original subpoenas said, and it is not what Parker defended demanding in the tweet above. In the tweet above, Parker admitted that she is interested in putting anything that the pastors might have said that can be construed as any way political under scrutiny. She wants to use discovery in the lawsuits against her to put the pastors and their tax-exempt status on trial.

As we and others have reported previously, the pastors who find themselves targeted by Parker’s subpoenas are not even party to the lawsuit in question. The lawsuit is over the Parker administration’s decision to throw out a petition that more than met the threshold to get a question on the ballot for Houston voters to decide.

That referendum would have put Parker’s “bathroom ordinance” up to a vote of the people. It needed a little over 17,000 signatures. It got 50,000, but Parker’s administration threw it out, citing “irregularities.”

That’s what the lawsuit is about — getting that petition re-instated, and putting Parker’s controversial “bathroom ordinance” up for a vote of the people.

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Houston Mayor’s Subpoenas Aimed at Shutting Churches Up, or Shutting Them Down

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Houston Mayor Annise Parker has revealed her purpose behind subpoenaing pastors.

Despite protestations from her office that they cannot comment on ongoing litigation, Parker did, here.

 

As we reported earlier, the sermons in question are accessible online without a subpoena. Parker did not need to unleash lawyers to obtain them. She is asking for much more than just sermons. Her subpoenas demanded that the pastors appear in person. They also demanded internal communications within and among the churches that were involved in the petition drive.

But the above tweet reveals her purpose. She wants to build a case that the pastors engaged in politics from the pulpit.

Which means that she is building a case to attack their tax-exempt status.

That’s the threat here, and it’s real. Mayor Annise Parker wants to shut churches out of political and cultural discussions because she disagrees with them, or shut them down if they refuse to comply with her diktats. That will intimidate other churches to either agree with her, or self-censor out of fear.

That is an abuse of power.

h/t Joshua Trevino

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Facebook, Apple Pay for Female Employees to Freeze Eggs

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Are you a woman who wants it all? Career now, kids eventually? Now you can have it – as long as you work for Apple or Facebook.

Two Silicon Valley giants now offer women a game-changing perk: Apple and Facebook will pay for employees to freeze their eggs.

Facebook recently began covering egg freezing, and Apple will start in January, spokespeople for the companies told NBC News. The firms appear to be the first major employers to offer this coverage for non-medical reasons.

“Having a high-powered career and children is still a very hard thing to do,” said Brigitte Adams, an egg-freezing advocate and founder of the patient forum Eggsurance.com. By offering this benefit, companies are investing in women, she said, and supporting them in carving out the lives they want.
The coverage comes at an opportune time for a tech industry under (highly questionable) severe scrutiny for a lack of female representation in its ranks. Promoted as a perk open to female employees on a voluntary basis, “covering egg freezing can be viewed as a type of “payback” for women’s commitment.” The “payback” goes both ways:
The benefit will likely encourage women to stay with their employer longer, cutting down on recruiting and hiring costs. And practically speaking, when women freeze their eggs early, firms may save on pregnancy costs in the long run, said Westphal. A woman could avoid paying to use a donor egg down the road, for example, or undergoing more intensive fertility treatments when she’s ready to have a baby.
Now, for the real slap in the face:

But the emotional and cultural payoff may be more valuable, said [Extended Fertility founder Christy] Jones: Offering this benefit “can help women be more productive human beings.”

Egg freezing is marketed as the latest, greatest equalizer between women and men. So, long metaphor short, if you want to be a “more productive human being” you’d better start working like a man. I wonder, would George Bernard Shaw discount the reproduction of human life and the raising of good, moral, decent human beings as not being a “productive” enough member of society? If so, he might have found good company in Silicon Valley.

The real question is, as the science of egg freezing continues to develop, will these employer benefits go from being optional perks to potential requirements of the job? Will employers frown upon women who choose to take their chances on children now instead of freezing their options for another day?

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Why Is Houston Mayor Annise Parker Subpoenaing Pastors for Sermons that are Already Publicly Available?

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Tuesday news broke that the city of Houston is subpoenaing area pastors who opposed the city’s “bathroom ordinance.”

The city is being sued after it tossed out a petition that would have put repealing the ordinance up to a referendum. The petition garnered 50,000 signatures, about three times the number it needed, yet Houston tossed it citing “irregularities.”

That’s an awful lot of “irregularities.”

The city has refused to comment on the subpoenas, citing “ongoing litigation.”

But the subpoenas themselves appear to be entirely unnecessary, if the city really just wants to check on sermons. Not that the city has any business monitoring sermons in churches where no illegal activity has been alleged, and none has in this case.

Most churches of any size now post full videos of all of their services, including sermons, online for anyone to watch on demand. They maintain extensive archives. They conduct tape and mp3 ministries to help people who cannot attend services for any reason.

For instance, one of the subpoenaed churches is Grace Community Church of Houston, pastored by Rev. Steve Riggle. That church has an extensive website, here. As it’s a network of churches, the link to the Houston campus church is here. Right up top is a link to “Watch Online.” Click on that link, and you’ll be taken here. Over on the right is an archive of past sermons that anyone can watch on demand. Its Podcast link has an archive that goes all the way back to January 2013, more than a year before Houston passed its ordinance that the pastors opposed. No subpoena required.

Rev. Dave Welch was also subpoenaed by the city. He is pastor of Bear Creek Church in Houston. Bear Creek’s online sermon archive also goes all the way back to January 2013. Anyone can download and listen, at any time they desire, no subpoena required.

I didn’t go through the web sites of all the churches and groups that the city of Houston has subpoenaed. Just by going through the two above, it’s clear that the subpoenas are questionable as a matter of legal discovery. The city did not need subpoenas to get the information — sermons — that it claims it wants. The subpoena to Riggle even mentions electronic or videotape recordings, which are available free of charge, no subpoena required.

The subpoena goes farther than merely requesting sermons, by the way. It commands the pastors to appear, in person, at a city law office — Susman Godfrey, LLP. It also commands the reverends to produce internal church communications related to the sermons. That, in turn, might produce communications between the churches.

That the churches communicate with each other is no secret. Churches engage in interfaith activities with each other all the time, especially in large cities like Houston. In this case, these pastors had allied with each other for a cause, so they surely emailed and texted one another. As they have every right in this country to do.

These subpoenas appear to have several purposes outside the court case, then — to call out and intimidate the pastors, and to fish for information from within and among the church staffs. Complying with the subpoenas may also cost money and tie up church staff who will be tasked with gathering up the materials demanded, rather than attend to their churches’ ministries.

 

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Do Religious Rights Require Religious Laws?

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

Addressing the Cheltenham Literature Festival, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, called for government to include “a faith perspective” in policy deliberations. From The Blaze:

What Williams advocated was for a middle group approach between a perspective that wants religion to be the basis of all laws and one in which faith isn’t addressed at all outside of church doors.

The government’s role in this case, then, is to facilitate discussions that ensure that minority views on controversial issues — or any issue at all for that matter — are considered in the wider discussion. Rather than winning the debate, per se, religious views help round it out, he argued.

Williams presents a spectrum of authoritarianism, with hardcore theocrats on the one end and religious suppressors on the other. What does “a middle group” on that axis look like? Would they advocate for religious-based laws half the time and suppress religious rights the other half?

How about this. Instead of giving religion a place at government’s table, let’s limit government’s role to protecting the rights of each individual, whether they harbor faith or not. The best way to protect minority views is to empower the greatest minority, the individual. If government remains barred from interfering in an individual’s private judgment, then religious rights will stand unmolested.

The vague alternative which Williams suggests would only place more cooks in the statist kitchen. This idea that every different perspective must have special representation in government, whether religious or racial or any other variety, assumes that such inclusion will produce better policy. But the quality of policy depends upon its effect on individual liberty, not the diversity of its authors. A diverse body of dictators proves no more sufferable than a homogenous one.

(Today’s Fightin Words podcast is on this topic available here. 9:33 minutes long; 9.23 MB file size. Right click here to download this show to your hard drive. Subscribe through iTunes or RSS feed.)

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‘Think Progress,’ or Think Poorly?

Thursday, October 9th, 2014 - by Nathan D. Lichtman

Why? Why do I follow Think Progress on Facebook? Well, two reasons—one is that I think it’s important to know what the other side is saying. The other reason is because sometimes it’s downright hilarious.

This falls into both camps.

Think Progress thinks it embarrasses conservatives anytime they express even the slightest doubt that man-made climate change is upon us. All the more reason for them to go nuts when they heard that a Michigan congressman had not only said he didn’t see the evidence behind the global warming hype, but that he called himself a scientist. They published an article, which was the lead for several hours on their website, entitled: “Congressman: ‘I am a Scientist’ And There’s No Evidence Of Manmade Climate Change.”

The ultra-liberal Center for American progress uses Think Progress as their primary blog, and Time Magazine included it as one of the top-25 blogs. They don’t necessarily call themselves a source for news, but they do present their findings as facts, and sway people’s opinions with their logic.

Let’s go back to the Michigan congressman, Rep. Dan Benishek.

He has a degree in Biology from the University of Michigan, and a Medical Degree from Wayne State University, and he’s been a practicing surgeon most of his life. I am fairly familiar with him and his excellent work, because I lived and worked in Michigan for almost a quarter of my life. He is a man who retired from his medical practice, and realized that the world wasn’t the way he wanted it to be for his grandchildren. So he did something about it—he ran for US Congress, and currently serves.

He apparently said that, as a scientist, he only believes something if it is supported with evidence in a peer-reviewed journal. And, he argues, he has not seen support for the idea of man-made global climate change in such a peer-reviewed manner.

I’m not going to argue one way or another on climate change; do your own homework.

But, this is why Think Progress went crazy. They heavily implied that Benishek was not indeed a scientist, and most of the Facebook comments were as such. Firstly, lets put this to rest—being a Medical Doctor is being a man of science. Its called Medical Science! Let alone having a science degree in Biology. Some of the most scientific discoveries have been written about in medical peer-reviewed journals, like the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association, etc. Even if he is not directly a climatologist, he is still a scientist, even in the way he would go about researching a topic.

But, I’m more concerned with the poor quality of the Think Progress article itself. The writer, Jeff Spross, is a “reporter and video editor for ThinkProgress.org,” and has worked for such publications as The American Prospect and The Guardian. One would think that in an article, where he questions the validity of someone’s claims, that he has fact-checked his own claims. Well, even in the case of this so-called reporter, you’d be wrong.

The original article (he has updated it a couple times) had this sentence in the very first paragraph: “In recent months, American politicians from House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) to Louisiana Governor Rick Scott (R) and U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst (R-IA) have all responded to questions about humanity’s role in climate change with some version of ‘I’m not a scientist.’” He goes on to talk about where Benishek gets his campaign money from, that many scientists agree on climate change, and that there are peer-reviewed sources for his info — but can we trust an article with two blatant misstatements in the first paragraph?

Let’s start with the fact (uncorrected as of writing this, by the way), that John Boehner is not the House Majority Leader. He is the Speaker of the House, second in the Presidential line of succession, and presiding leader over the House of Representatives. The House Majority Leader is California Congressman Kevin McCarthy, and he is only the leader of the Republicans in the House. Boehner is the leader of all House members. And, Rick Scott is indeed a Governor, but he’s the Governor of Florida, not Louisiana.

This type of article is cited and treated as a sacrosanct argument for leftists on Facebook. If a ‘reporter’ is going to cite figures and facts, he should also be able to at least get the most Google-able stuff right. This type of sound bite journalism is part of the problem with American civics knowledge, and makes you wonder what other non-factual blog posts they sneak by with.

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Using Social Media Activism as a Mask for Apathy

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014 - by Leslie Loftis

meriamI loved Nancy Kaffer’s recent offering in the Daily Beast, When Activism is Worse than Apathy. Before noting that those things we were so fussed about for a few days here and there over the past six months are still happening, she writes:

Apathy isn’t our problem. We care—we care a lot. Show us an injustice, and we’ll slap a hashtag on it in a hot minute. We may even have a national conversation about it. And then? Ooh, shiny! We’re on to the next outrage. Call it hashtag activism, call it slacktivism—worse than indifference, it’s a transitory, bustling attentiveness that passes so quickly it barely registers, yet leaves in its wake a sense that we’ve done something.

Social media can decry a problem. It can spread news like wildfire scorching a dry field. But it doesn’t Do. Results require action. And we’ve seen that in the past 6 months.

While the Nigerian girls have not been brought back, Meriam Ibriam is free.

People spread #BackOurGirls all over the web, and then forgot it. But Meriam, the Christian woman sentenced to lashings and death for apostasy and adultery in South Sudan for not adhering to the Muslim faith of her father, hardly had a hashtag. Christian persecution isn’t something the hashtag warriors get fussed about. Still, Meriam had something better than social media activism. She had old media, Italian diplomats, and the Vatican.

In the comments on to the Times of London article on her freedom and surprise audience with the Pope, one highlighted the truth about PR campaigns.

David Cameron said that her oppression was “barbaric.” The former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the way she had been treated abhorrent. Western feminists didn’t even bother to create on of those ‘we care but aren’t willing to actually do anything about it’ hashtags. But the Italian Foreign Minister acted.

And that made all the difference. Apparently, the Italians offered diplomatic help to the US State Department to secure her release as The Telegraph and The Times of London publicized the story. The Italian Foreign Ministry flew representatives to Sudan and negotiated her release with the help of Vatican funding and advice. It wasn’t easy. There were setbacks and scares, but Meriam arrived in the US months ago. She is free. The Nigerian girls who we all heard about are not.

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Pedophilia, the Next Chapter in the ‘Gay Marriage’ Court Saga?

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Those seeking further proof that “gay marriage” isn’t really about gay marriage at all need look no further than the op-ed pages of the New York Times

The attempt to legitimize pedophilia may very well be the next chapter in the ongoing saga of reshaping America through the courts. The Daily Caller picked up on a New York Times op-ed written by Rutgers Law Professor Margo Kaplan, who argues in defense of pedophiles:

Kaplan says criminal law should be changed so that pedophiles are only stigmatized or denied jobs if law school graduates agree that they pose a “direct threat” to children.

That could be a bonanza for law school graduates, because they’d be paid to argue over whether the hiring of a particular pedophile for a particular job is a direct threat to particular children. “The direct-threat analysis rejects the idea that [prospective] employers can rely on generalizations; they must assess the specific case and rely on evidence, not presuppositions,” Kaplan writes.

But this shift would also be a loss for the 99 percent of non-pedophile American citizens and voters, because it would eliminate their longstanding civil right to simply and cheaply exclude pedophiles from mainstream society or from jobs near children.

That right would be handed over to the hourly-paid law school graduates, including judges, defense lawyers, arbitrators and prosecutors, if Kaplan’s career plan becomes law.

For Kaplan, the pro-pedophilia fight is more than a potshot at job creation for a generation of unemployed law school grads. It is a holy mission to obtain the right to classify kiddie fiddlers as suffering from a “mental disorder” and thereby deserving of all the employment protection the ADA allows.

“Acknowledging that pedophiles have a mental disorder, and removing the obstacles to their coming forward and seeking help, is not only the right thing to do, but it would also advance efforts to protect children from harm,” she insisted, without providing evidence.

In the 1970s, the Catholic Church accepted the advice of many experts in the new mental-health industry, and concluded that pedophile priests could be successfully treated with private therapy. The theory was not proven correct, and it helped protect many priests as they sexually abused thousands of boys.

Pedophilia isn’t the first sexual behavior to show up in the post-”gay marriage” courts. Back in December, Breitbart reported on Brown v. Buhman, a case in which

…a federal judge [Clark Waddoups] has now ruled that the legal reasoning for same-sex marriage means that laws against polygamy are likewise unconstitutional. …Waddoups’ opinion would not only cover such groups, however, but also Muslims or anyone else who claims a right—religious or otherwise—to have multiple-person marriages.

The case, currently being appealed, has a very good chance of heading to the Supreme Court, giving our illustrious justices another opportunity to fundamentally change the way we live our lives with their “emerging awareness”. Such “emerging awareness” is already evident in the pages of the American Psychological Association’s diagnostic manual, which “…distinguishes between pedophiles who desire sex with children, and those who act on those desires.”

Gay marriage supporters who cheer legislation from the court bench should think twice about what they’re actually rooting for. It is their advocacy of un-Constitutional principles hidden under the guise of compassion that has opened the floodgates for judicial abuse. This abuse sets a horrifying precedent for what can be defined by a court as permissible behavior or, worse yet, protected as a faultless disability.

 

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Gay Marriage: Get Over the Theology and Look at the Law

Monday, October 6th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg
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It’s time to focus on the flag being hidden behind the antagonizing spectacle.

Put your emotions aside for a moment and read Ben Shapiro’s succinct explanation of the ramifications of the Supreme Court’s refusal to take on gay marriage cases from five states:

The Court clearly wants to wait until a majority of states have been forced to embrace same-sex marriage by lower-level appeals courts. Then they can determine that a “trend-line” has been established, suggest that society has “evolved,” and declare that a new standard must be enshrined. That, of course, was the logic of Lawrence v. Texas (2003), in which the Court waited 17 years to overrule Bowers v. Hardwick (1986), stating that anal penetration was a hard-fought Constitutional right; the Court in that case stated that Bowers no longer applied because of “an emerging awareness that liberty gives substantial protection to adult persons in deciding how to conduct their private lives in matters pertaining to sex.” Justice Scalia rightly pointed out that the Court’s statement was false – the state, he explained, still regulates “prostitution, adult incest, adultery, obscenity, and child pornography.” And Scalia also pointed out that “Constitutional entitlements do not spring into existence because some States choose to lessen or eliminate criminal sanctions on certain behavior.”

…This is the beauty of Supreme Court doctrine: they don’t even have to do their judicial dirty work anymore. They can rely on lower-level courts to violate the Constitution, then declare the Constitution magically changed because of an “emerging” consensus on violating the Constitution.

And the people have no recourse. They cannot pass laws that for two and a half centuries have been fully Constitutional. They cannot fight state attorneys general who betray their voters. They must sit by as the courts play legal games while awaiting the great Obama-esque “evolution” – an evolution that is almost entirely top-down, and that will then be dictated to us by our betters.

Shapiro’s legal insight, akin to that of Mark Levin, provides further evidence for my own previously stated belief that the Right needs to argue on the basis of law, not theology, if they want to keep America free:

Instead of rebutting those who argue that the Constitution is an amorphous idea that will bend to their will with the simple truth that they are empowering a court to render their individual vote effectively useless, we get caught up in arguments over whether or not God approves of homosexuality. We then get stereotyped as a bunch of Bible-thumpers who have no clue how government works – by a bunch of ideological terrorists intent on destroying the very government they claim to uphold.

When gay marriage is over there will be another hot-button morality issue to be abused in the name of raping and pillaging our individual rights through legal abuse. It is time to get out from under the theological rock and see the big picture. Conservatives, if you want a truly constitutional republic, start sending your kids to law school. We may be forced into play the game, but that just means we should play to win.

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Obama’s Foreign Policy Faux Pas Make ISIS More Formidable

Friday, October 3rd, 2014 - by Jennifer Hanin

There’s little controversy over the foreign policy screw-ups and missed opportunities that have arisen from the Obama Administration over the last two years. Not addressing the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) is perhaps one of the biggest faux pas thus far. But there are at least nine other epic-scale gaffes that continue to plague Obama’s administration like Benghazi and its evil step-child contrived out of sheer stupidity: the cover-up video pack of lies.

So now we’re faced with the stark reality and collective baggage of how to prevail over ISIS as the terrorist group continues making headway and head-chopping videos in Iraq, Syria and beyond. President Obama recently addressed the UN National Security Council and finally outlined a set of criteria to stave off ISIS. Yet there is much more needed to win a war against an unscrupulous and formidable enemy fighting an ideological war that goes against everything we believe in as Americans. Fighting an enemy whose firm belief is deeply rooted in Wahhabism is not exactly second nature to Americans yet now we are faced with the grim reality that our national security (and that of other countries) is in jeopardy if we don’t act fast.

So what’s Obama doing right and what does he need to do better? Plenty. For instance, acknowledging that these four criteria must occur is a decent start:

1)    ISIS must be degraded and ultimately destroyed

2)    World support (especially support from Muslims) must reject ideology adopted (and spread) via al Qaeda and ISIS (and other main or fringe terrorist groups).

3)    Intervention by various countries’ governments and military to stop the cycle of conflict, especially sectarian conflict in the Middle East, which attracts terrorist groups to invade weakened war-torn nations.

4)    Arab world must renew a greater focus on their people, particularly their youth, which often makes up 60 plus percent of the population.

Yet this alone is not enough. Obama has received regular intelligence for the last two years that ISIS not only existed but was a growing threat and more is needed. At this point, its going to take not only ground forces (something the Pentagon has continually repeated) but five to eight years to undue gains made by ISIS in Iraq and Syria and beyond. Unfortunately, ground troops and a lengthy war also means countless lost American lives and treasure.

As Reagan’s national security advisor Robert (Bud) MacFarlane and senior fellow with the London Center for Policy Research Lt. Col. Anthony (Tony) Shaffer indicated in a recent audiotaped call on Obama’s UN address not every country is capable of carrying out the responsibilities required by true democracies, and this was clear from our dealings with Libya. It takes very special circumstances for democratic rule to take root, and it’s exactly why many countries fall short of the real definition and succumb to invading terrorist factions who force tyrannical rule under the guise of “democracy.”

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CAIR Calls on NFL to ‘Clarify Policy on Prayer’ After Abdullah’s Penalty

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

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The Council on American-Islamic Relations said the National Football League needs to “clarify” its prayer policy after Kansas City Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah was penalized Monday night for kneeling in the end zone — “sajdah.”

Abdullah, an observant Muslim, had just received completed a 39-yard interception return versus the New England Patriots.

He was penalized for 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct under the NFL’s Rule 12, Section 3, Article 1 (d), “Players are prohibited from engaging in any celebrations or demonstrations while on the ground.”

“However, the officiating mechanic in this situation is not to flag a player who goes to the ground as part of religious expression, and as a result, there should have been no penalty on the play,” NFL spokesman Michael Signora said today, according to ESPN.

Abdullah told the Kansas City Star that he thought he was penalized for sliding on his knees. “I just got a little too excited,” he said. The safety added that his coach agreed and chided him for sliding.

This morning, Abdullah tweeted an Instagram of himself prostrated in prayer with the words, ”‘Subhana Rabbial-’Ala’ (Glory be to my Lord The Most High).”

CAIR noted the NFL rule, but said singled out the exception for religious expressions, “such as Tim Tebow’s prayer while kneeling.”

After Tebow, as a college player, wrote Bible scriptures on his eye black, the NCAA banned players from writing anything under their eyes. In the NFL, “Tebowing” became a verb for when the quarterback took a knee in prayer on the field.

“To prevent the appearance of a double standard, we urge league officials to clarify the policy on prayer and recognize that the official made a mistake in this case,” said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper urged the NFL in a statement.

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Owner Makes Gun Range a ‘Muslim Free Zone,’ and Will Probably Get Sued Out of Existence

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

The state of fundamental freedoms of religion and association, in two acts.

Act One: A gun range owner has announced that her business is now a “Muslim free zone.”

Jan Morgan owns the Gun Cave Indoor Shooting Range in Arkansas. She has posted a notice that Muslims may no longer use the range. She is attempting to exercise the freedom of association, along with her duties as a federally licensed firearm dealer.

The primary reasons I do not want muslims shooting at my range are listed:

1) The Koran (which I have read and studied thoroughly) and (which all muslims align themselves with), contains 109 verses commanding hate, murder and terror against all human beings who refuse to submit or convert to Islam. Read those verses of violence here.

2) My life has been threatened repeatedly by muslims in response to my publication of those verses from their Koran. Why would I want to rent or sell a gun and hand ammunition to someone who aligns himself with a religion that commands him to kill me?

3) * The barbaric act of beheading an innocent American in Oklahoma by a muslim 
* the Boston bombings(by muslims)
* the Foot Hood mass shooting (by a muslim) that killed 13 people and injured over 30 people
* and the murder of 3000 innocent people (by muslims) on 9/11

She writes that two Muslims came to the range last week and caused a disturbance, which added to the recent news about Islamic terrorism home and abroad caused her to make the range a Muslim free zone.

Two muslims walked in to my range last week with allah akbar ring tone and message alert tones on their smart phones. They spoke very little english, one did not have proof of U.S. citizenship, yet they wanted to rent and shoot guns.

Their behavior was so strange, it was unnerving to my patrons. No one would enter the range to shoot while they were there. Some of my customers left.

(can you blame them?)

She also mentions that Muslim supporters of ISIS and al Qaeda are threatening to kill innocent Americans, which is true.

She also addresses the fact that most Muslims won’t pose a problem.

I understand that not all muslims are terrorists. I also believe there are as many Muslims who do not know what is in their Koran as there are Christians who do not know what is in their Bible.

Since I have no way of discerning which muslims will or will not kill in the name of their religion and the commands in their koran…I choose to err on the side of caution for the safety of my patrons.

8) On the issue of religious discrimination:
I view Islam as a theocracy, not a religion. Islam is the union of political, legal, and religious ideologies. In other words, law, religion and state are forged together to form what Muslims refer to as “The Nation of Islam.”

It is given the sovereign qualities of a nation with clerics in the governing body and Sharia law all in one. This is a Theocracy, not a religion.

The US Constitution does not protect a theocracy.

The 1st Amendment is very specific about protecting the rights of individuals from the government, as it concerns the practice of religions, not theocracies.

And that’s where she’s wrong. Or at least, cites opinions and facts that won’t matter.

The U.S. Constitution doesn’t protect theocracy, but it no longer protects our fundamental rights. The very specific First Amendment has been gutted by political correctness.

Here is Act Two.

A bakery owning married couple worked within existing Oregon state law when they refused to bake a cake for a gay couple who, in violation of state law at the time, planned to get married. The law has since been changed

That bakery no longer exists, and the couple face ruinous fines thanks to a state government ruling that their First Amendment religious rights no longer exist.

Earlier this year, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries found “substantial evidence” that Aaron and Melissa Klein, owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, discriminated against the lesbian couple.

They now face a fine in excess of $150,000.

In an exclusive interview with The Daily Signal on Friday at the 2014 Values Voter Summit, Aaron said the fee would “definitely” be enough to bankrupt the couple and their five children.

The ordeal started in February 2013, when Rachel Cryer and Laurel Bowman asked the bakery owners to design a wedding cake for their same-sex commitment ceremony.

At the time, Oregon defined marriage as the union between one man and one woman; voters overwhelmingly approved the constitutional amendment in 2004.

Aaron told The Daily Signal he thought he was “well within” his legal rights to decline the service, citing his traditional beliefs that a marriage is between a man and a woman.

In January 2014, the Kleins were charged with violating Oregon’s Equality Act of 2007, a law that protects the rights of the LGBT community.

It wasn’t until months later, May 19, 2014, that a federal judge would declare Oregon’s amendment unconstitutional, paving the way for same-sex marriages.

“Ironically, the state was in violation of its own anti-discrimination laws,” said Aaron.

So the law-abiding couple whose beliefs run back about 5,000 years have lost their business and face bankruptcy, because some rights have become more equal than others.

Eric Holder is still the reigning attorney general in Washington. If he gets wind of the Arkansas gun range owner’s decision to block Muslims from her business, her reasoning won’t matter. Holder will bring the Civil Rights Division down on her.

Or maybe he won’t, since the right to use the range is found in the Second Amendment, which is in disfavor with liberals such as Holder. But all it will take is a Muslim to file a discrimination lawsuit.

 

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Admin Lauds ‘Key Outcomes’ of UN Human Rights Council, Including LGBT Discrimination Resolution

Monday, September 29th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

President Obama reversed President George W. Bush’s decision to boycott the UN Human Rights Council, and the State Department said the 27th session last week “underscored the importance of robust U.S. engagement at the Council, where the United States continues to work with countries from all regions to address urgent human rights concerns.”

“U.S. leadership helped to keep the Council at the forefront of international efforts to promote and protect human rights, including by underscoring the critical role of civil society,” the department said in a fact sheet detailing “key outcomes” at the session:

LGBT: The Council adopted the second-ever UN resolution on violence and discrimination facing LGBT persons world-wide. Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Uruguay led the resolution, with the United States co-sponsoring and lobbying heavily. Countries from every geographic region joined its supporters. The resolution will lead to further UN reporting on this critical human rights issue.

Civil Society Space: The United States proudly supported the HRC’s second resolution urging states to create and maintain, in law and in practice, a safe and enabling environment for civil society. The Ireland-led resolution underscored the importance for civil society to be able to seek, receive, and use resources and affirmed freedom of expression

Syria: The HRC’s 15th resolution on Syria focused on torture and the situation in Syrian prisons, and reiterated the international community’s demand for unfettered humanitarian access in Syria.

Yemen, CAR, DRC, and Sudan: The United States co-sponsored resolutions on Yemen, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, highlighting our shared commitment to protecting human rights through assistance and enhanced dialogue. The Council extended the mandate of the Independent Expert on Sudan, through a resolution that criticized ongoing violations and abuses of human rights in Sudan.

Journalists, FGM, and Political Participation: The HRC’s Safety of Journalists resolution condemned recent violence against journalists and urged states to provide protection and prevent such actions. The Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) resolution acknowledged progress toward the elimination of FGM but underlined ongoing concerns. The Equal Participation in Political and Public Affairs resolution urged all states to eliminate barriers to the full participation of all citizens in political and public affairs.

The LGBT resolution was singled out in a statement by Secretary of State John Kerry, who said the “historic” passage “marks yet another important chapter in UN efforts to stand united against the human rights abuses that LGBT individuals face around the world.”

The vote was 25 in favor and 14 against, with seven abstentions.

Countries voting against the measure, which “takes note with appreciation of the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights entitled ‘Discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity’” and commissions a major report on challenges facing gays worldwide, were Algeria, Botswana, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gabon, Indonesia, Kenya, Kuwait, Maldives, Morocco, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

Pakistan said “the wider connotations of sexual orientation could be detrimental” and “Muslims strongly believed that their religious and cultural values should be respected.”

“The United States will continue to promote human rights around the world for all people,” Kerry said. “Who you love, and who you are, must not be an excuse or cover for discrimination or abuse, period.”

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Judaism’s ‘Chained Wives’ Facebook-Shame Delinquent Husbands

Monday, September 29th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Tablet Magazine is giving press to one of the Jewish world’s most truly feminist causes, the right of a woman to obtain a divorce decree, known in the Rabbinic world as a get. Rivky Stein has spent the past 2 years attempting to obtain a get from her husband Yoel Weiss who simply refuses to appear in court (a Rabbinic beit din) in order for the decree to be issued. Sick, tired, and more than ready to move on with her life, Rivky took to social media to publicly shame her husband into relenting.

A surge of news reports followed, adding to an ongoing saga that had been chronicled by publications ranging from The Daily Mail to Haaretz. A call to action was posted on a website devoted to Stein’s cause. Donations poured in to a crowd-funding website that has raised over $22,000 so far.

The coordinated use of publicists, Facebook, Twitter, donation sites, and rallies is becoming common for women like Rivky Stein who seek religious divorces from their husbands. Many Jews give little thought to the get, but in traditional Judaism only men can grant a divorce. Without one, a woman cannot date or remarry without carrying and passing onto her children what is widely considered in the Orthodox world to be a tremendous stigma. So, with few options in Jewish law, more agunot—Hebrew for “chained wives”—are embracing contemporary and high-tech tools to publicly shame men.

Rivky is far from the first woman to take her divorce demand to the court of public opinion. Statistics indicate that there are 462 agunot in North America, but due to the insular nature of the Orthodox Jewish community those numbers are far from reliable.

Rivky Stein’s case is a he-said, she-said story. She claims mental, physical and sexual abuse. He says she’s “a sham”. Still, the history of Orthodox men abusing their wives and refusing to grant divorces doesn’t bode in his favor. Get detectives rake in the bucks in Israel “…where all Jewish marriages and divorces must be made in rabbinic courts,” and in America, of course, we have the “Prodfather”:

While shame and exclusion have worked for centuries, another tactic has raised a great deal of attention: violence. A recent article in GQ details allegations against Rabbi Mendel Epstein, who is referred to as the “Prodfather” for his use of electric cattle prods to coerce reluctant husbands. At 69 years old, Epstein faces 25 years to life in federal prison after an elaborate FBI sting operation led to his arrest and indictment on multiple counts of kidnapping.

The power of social media can only go so far, and the women who do take their case to social media are internet-shamed in turn, orphaned by their own religious communities.

Although agunot may be better-equipped than ever, with the ability to instantaneously reach out to thousands of followers through social media, or bankroll an attorney through crowd-funding, the power of divorce is ultimately given to the husband, according to Jewish law. If Weiss is bent on staying married, there is little Stein can do.

…As for Stein, much of her effort at this point goes into prayer. “I feel like I did everything,” she said. “I don’t know what to do anymore, honestly.”

Streams of Judaism that require religious approval for a divorce have largely adopted the Lieberman clause in the ketubah (wedding contract) that give the wife the option to petition a reluctant husband through a secular court. Despite being promoted by some Orthodox rabbis, most Orthodox groups refuse to include the clause in wedding contracts.

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The Church is Afraid of Islam

Sunday, September 28th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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An evangelical Zionist friend of mine sent me a link to pro-life Catholic Lisa Graas’s response to Ted Cruz’s shock-speech at the IDC Summit held earlier this month. Her opinions are illustrative of exactly how theology continues to impact politics in America. Threatening Cruz with the loss of the Catholic vote, Graas writes:

In Catholicism, Israel doesn’t have to be a “Jewish state.” We can accept it as a Jewish state, but we are in no way bound to it being so because we see the Church as the New Israel, theologically.

Graas is a believer in supersessionism, a.k.a. replacement theology. Replacement theology is an old school church teaching that the Christian Church replaces Israel in God’s eyes, that after Jesus, God was done with the Jews and has summarily dubbed the Church his “New Israel” to be the recipients of all the blessings Biblically directed to Israel. It is a nasty idea that was used to defend Crusades, expulsions, and pogroms. Now, Graas is using replacement theology to defend what she defines as the “high church”/Muslim relationship at the sake of Catholic support for the Jewish State.

In saying “no greater ally than the Jewish state,” he [Cruz] stepped over into theology and insulted Catholics who see the Church as the New Israel theologically. We can, and desire to be, friends with Israel, even as a Jewish state, but we cannot pledge allegiance to Israel as a Jewish state in the manner that people of Ted Cruz’s religion pledge allegiance to Israel as a Jewish state. We cannot say that if suddenly everyone in Israel converted to Catholicism and turned Israel into a Catholic state, that this would be a “bad” thing. Protestants, of course, would be horrified if that happened because they have some deeply-held theological views that Israel MUST BE a Jewish state. We can take it or leave it as a Jewish state, but they can’t take it or leave it. Catholics can be your friend, Israel, even as a Jewish state, but we cannot pledge unfailing loyalty to “a Jewish state” like Ted Cruz and evangelicals do. You ask too much there.

Graas rambles on about the evils of Protestant ideology, him-hawing over whether or not Israel should be considered a Jewish state with arguments that boil down to a valley girl’s, “Uh, yeah, well, I guess…whatever,” in her theological defense of Catholic replacement theology. Then, oddly enough, she comes out with this whopper:

Another thing is that many Christians in the Middle East see his statement “Jewish state” as being bad not because it’s “Jewish,”, per se, but because it is a “sectarian” statement. They distrust the advancement of ideas that promote theocratic rule over religious minorities who are in disagreement with that particular theology.

An old-school, Pope is “lower than man, but higher than God,” replacement theologian Catholic decides that Cruz isn’t to be trusted because he’s the sectarian one in the room. Apparently there hasn’t yet been an edict issued against irony.

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