National Briefs

National Shorts - NewsBriefs

Bill would give bosses more access to workers’ health histories

(WNS)–The House Committee on Education and the Workforce recently approved HR 1313, whose bland stated purpose (“to clarify rules relating to nondiscriminatory workplace wellness programs”) hides an Orwellian reality. The bill would let employers punish employees for refusing to undergo genetic testing or disclose their health histories. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers may not ask employees about their health unless the questions are directly job-related. The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) extends that protection to genetic information and family medical history. Exceptions to GINA are few, normally limited to the specific (and rare) circumstances where they make sense. There is a catch. Wellness programs, in which companies encourage employees to get health screening and preventive care, may legally ask questions that would otherwise violate ADA and GINA, but only if the programs are voluntary.


Judge orders school to open restrooms to transgender students

(WNS)–A federal judge in Pennsylvania has ordered a local school district to let three transgender students use restrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their gender identity while their lawsuit against the school proceeds. The three students, all seniors, sued the Pine-Richland School District north of Pittsburgh after administrators implemented a policy requiring students to use facilities that corresponded to their biological sex. The school also has 10 unisex restrooms that all students can use. Administrators instituted the policy after some parents and students complained about their children having to use restrooms and locker rooms with members of the opposite sex. The policy was meant to be temporary while district administrators researched a permanent solution.


Claims of new habitable planets overly optimistic

(WNS)–Astronomers have discovered a star about 40 light-years—235 trillion miles—from Earth, with seven Earth-sized planets orbiting it. Three of those planets are in the habitable zone, the area that could make them hospitable for life. When NASA announced the discovery Feb. 22, science news headlines exploded with hope that the discovery eventually will lead to alien life. But Christian experts warn scientists have little evidence on which to found such expectations.

For quite some time, astronomers believed there must be other planets orbiting the vast array of stars in the universe, but they weren’t able to find any until about 20 years ago. Now, they have identified well over 3,000, and their discoveries have led scientists on an eager search to prove we are not alone in the universe.


Wyoming gets first pro-life legislation since 1989

(WNS)–Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead signed two pro-life bills into law on March 9, the first abortion regulation approved in the deeply red state in nearly three decades. H.B. 182 requires abortionists to notify a woman she is entitled to see an “active ultrasound” of her unborn baby and, if possible, listen to the heartbeat. The bill makes exceptions for danger to the mother’s life.

H.B. 116 makes it a felony to sell, transfer, or distribute tissue or cells from an aborted baby for the purpose of experimentation.


Disney’s ‘gay moment’ unwelcome in some countries

(WNS)–Disney’s decision to include an “exclusively gay moment” in its new film Beauty and the Beast continues to cause an uproar, most notably overseas. On March 14, Disney decided to pull the film from Malaysia after the country’s censorship board approved a version of the film with a pro-gay scene cut. Rather than agree to the edit, Disney yanked the film. “The film has not been and will not be cut for Malaysia,” Disney said in a statement. The controversial scenes center on the character of Le Fou, Gaston’s sidekick, who apparently has a crush on his master, briefly sits in his lap, and has a split-second ballroom dance with another man.


‘Jumping genes’ further debunk evolution

(WNS)–A discovery by Swiss scientists assigns a purpose to previously misunderstood portions of human DNA and evidences the work of complex, precise design in the universe. Within the human body are millions of mysterious little pieces of genetic material called jumping genes. For a long time, scientists considered these little hoppers to be useless bits of junk DNA. But the recent discovery in Switzerland shows these far-from-useless jumping genes, scientifically called transposable elements or TEs, play a vital role in human physiology. The researchers hail their discovery, published in the journal Nature, as evidence of an evolutionary process of “previously unimagined complexity and elegance in genetics.”


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