National Shorts - NewsBriefs

Standing up for conscience

(WNS)–Pro-life advocates on Nov. 8 urged Congress to ensure passage of a bill protecting the conscience rights of healthcare providers. Tears streamed down Cathy DeCarlo’s face as she recounted her experience as a nurse in New York City. In May 2009, DeCarlo entered an operating room assuming she was there to treat a woman after a miscarriage only to find out the unborn baby was still alive. Her supervisor instructed her to help assist in the abortion or risk disciplinary action. DeCarlo reluctantly followed orders, fearing she would lose her job. “I watched in horror as the doctor dismembered and removed the baby’s bloody limbs,” she said. “I still have nightmares about that day.” Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., authored the Conscience Protection Act to make sure something like that never happens again. If passed, the bill would enshrine federal protections for nurses and other healthcare professionals against participating in abortions and provide legal recourse for employees if hospitals continue to coerce them.


Neurosis and smartphones in teens

(WNS)–A Colorado research professor recently proposed a hypothesis to explain the unprecedented rates of depression and anxiety in the post-millennial generation: dwindling social cues. Scott Stanley, a researcher at the University of Denver and a fellow at the Institute for Family Studies, said decreases in the reliability of information about relationships (for example, an emoji response to a heartfelt question) may be exacerbating mental and emotional issues in today’s teens and young adults. Ambiguity leads to neurosis, according to Stanley. San Diego State University psychologist Jean Twenge agrees. “The arrival of the smartphone has radically changed every aspect of teenagers’ lives, from the nature of their social interactions to their mental health,” Twenge said. “There is compelling evidence that the devices we’ve placed in young people’s hands are having profound effects on their lives—and making them seriously unhappy.”


The science of sleep deprivation

(WNS)–Dazed and confused? You’re probably not getting enough sleep. We all know that groggy feeling that comes from staying up too late or getting up too early. Now scientists at UCLA know why: The brain’s neurons fire more slowly and with less power when we’re sleep deprived. The researchers studied 12 epilepsy patients hospitalized ahead of surgery. As part of their treatment, the patients were forced to stay awake overnight while doctors monitored their brain activity through implanted electrodes. While the surgeons watched for signs of seizures, the sleep researchers showed the patients images and tracked their brain activity as they tried to identify each one. As the patients got sleepier, their response time slowed. The ability to function on as little sleep as possible has become a badge of honor in our productivity-obsessed, striving culture. Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution would argue we should be able to evolve to meet that “need” for more waking hours in every day. But the UCLA study reiterates the importance of a truth God gave us from the beginning: Rest is just as important as work. God didn’t design our bodies, or our brains, to function 24/7.


Putting the U back in YouTube

(WNS)–Conservative talk radio host and author Dennis Prager is suing YouTube and its parent company, Google, accusing the video streaming service of censoring Prager University educational videos for their ideological content. The lawsuit, filed Oct. 23 in the U.S. District Court of Northern California, seeks an injunction against the “capricious” restrictions, financial damages, and a declaration that YouTube’s actions violate constitutional free speech protections. Prager has accused YouTube of censoring Prager University content since July 2016. By October, the company had placed more than 50 videos on restricted mode or blocked them from participating in its moneymaking advertising service.


Children fast-tracked into gender transition

(WNS)–Parents, doctors, and pro-family groups in Britain recently sounded the alarm about the skyrocketing rate of children with complex psychological issues being streamlined into gender transition by the country’s National Health Service (NHS). Britain’s The Daily Mail on Oct. 29 ran a story about a rash of concerned parents joining an online community called Transgender Trend, self-described as “parents questioning the trans narrative.” The group said parents contact it because schools and clinics are blindly accepting their children’s assertions that they are transgender and pushing them into treatment without cautious evaluation. The number of children being treated at the NHS Tavistock Clinic, which specializes in treating gender identity issues, has jumped from just under 100 in 2009 to over 2,000 in 2016, according to The Telegraph.


Gender-neutral and viral

(WNS)–A YouTube public service announcement about gender neutrality went viral this week. The video, praised by parents, celebrities, and LGBT advocates alike, shows a family getting ready for Halloween. The video also shows the father struggle with, and then embrace, the fact that his daughter wants to be Batman, while his son wants to be Wonder Woman. The clip ends with the statement, “Whoever you want to be.” The group that released the video, Landwirth Legacy Productions, is also working on a feature-length film on gender fluidity.


Facebook’s First Amendment chokehold

(WNS)–Facebook shut down two Christian ministry pages in October, without warning or explanation, renewing fears about the social media giant’s ability to control access to an important corner of today’s public square. A Facebook media representative said due to privacy issues she could not discuss details about the company’s actions against The Tree of Life Outreach and Sheologians. The representative also refused to speak on the record about company protocol for denying administrative access and what constitutes a violation of Facebook’s community standards. On Oct. 3, Facebook blocked administrative access to all Pastor Ron Cusano’s pages, including The Tree of Life Outreach page he uses to conduct Bible studies for house churches in Pakistan, India, and Africa. Facebook “kicked out” all Sheologians administrators from their personal accounts Oct. 13, preventing them from accessing their page, Sheologians founder Summer White told me. Facebook offered no explanation other than a notification saying the page’s content may have violated community standards. “A lot of people think everything I say is hate speech,” White said. “A lot of people think everything I say is good and lovely and spurs them on to love Christ. Ultimately, Facebook gets to decide if I have violated their standards.”


Banking on a bachelor’s?

(WNS)–College degrees began to lose their luster in 2008 when the economy crashed and recent graduates found themselves with a lot of debt and few job prospects. Despite nearly 10 years of angst over the student debt crisis and the value of now exorbitantly expensive college degrees, Americans remain enamored with higher education. Many parents still believe college holds the key to achieving the American dream. But a new study from American Enterprise Institute scholars Mark Schneider and Rooney Columbus suggests students can make more money with less investment through associates degrees or sub-baccalaureate certification programs. While bachelor’s degree–holders make more money on average than those without, not all degrees carry the same weight. “The important question, thus, is not whether degrees have value but what types of knowledge and skills are in greatest demand and are, in turn, rewarded in the labor market,” Schneider and Columbus write.


All aboard the politically correct train

(WNS)–New York City’s Metro Transportation Authority (MTA) is following in the steps of other transportation services and bowing to activists who are intent on removing binary gender references from modern language. Starting this month, the MTA no longer allows announcers or conductors to address passengers as “ladies and gentlemen.” A memo sent in early November directed staff to use words like “passengers,” “riders,” or “everyone.” In July, Transport for London announced it had scrapped “ladies and gentlemen” in favor of gender-neutral language to make everyone feel welcome. Thankfully, some still see the absurd in this situation. The New York Post published an article on the change titled, “MTA takes political correctness to ridiculous heights.”


GOP leaders reinstate adoption tax credit

(WNS)–Republicans leaders finally took the advice of pro-life lawmakers and advocates, agreeing not to cut the adoption tax credit. GOP leaders unveiled the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in early November, and to the surprise of many, the 429-page document included language ending the credit that helps families cover the cost of adoptions. No one but a handful of top-level Republican lawmakers and staffers knew about the exclusion before the release of the landmark bill. Now, blindsided pro-life groups and lawmakers are scrambling to make sure President Donald Trump doesn’t sign off on a tax-code rewrite that discourages adoption. Lawmakers originally defended the move by saying few families use the credit and pro-lifer advocates hadn’t mentioned it in years, March for Life Action president Tom McClusky said. “It’s because we never thought somebody would be so stupid to remove it,” he added.


The importance of moms

(WNS)–A politically liberal psychoanalyst whose research led to traditional conclusions got the cold shoulder from mainstream media when she released her book Being There: Why Prioritizing Motherhood in the First Three Years Matters. “I couldn’t get on NPR,” Erica Komisar told The Wall Street Journal. “I was rejected wholesale—particularly in New York—by the liberal press.” The book makes the case, backed by neuroscience and psychology, that “mothers are biologically necessary for babies.” Komisar insists she isn’t trying to set women back 50 years, but says the needs of children are being lost when women believe they can have it all—high-pressure jobs, big salaries, and babies—at the same time.

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