National Briefs

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Daleiden, lawyers fined over banned video release

(WNS)–Pro-life activist David Daleiden and his attorneys now face nearly $200,000 in fines after the lawyers posted online an undercover video banned by a court order. The video, which lawyers for Daleiden insist they had the right to post, featured Lisa Harris, the medical director of Planned Parenthood of Michigan, admitting that abortion amounts to murder. “Given that we actually see the fetus the same way, and given that we might actually both agree that there’s violence in here, let’s just give them all the violence,” Harris said, referring to pro-life activists. “It’s a person, it’s killing, let’s just give them all that.”


 ‘A condition we call faith’

(WNS)–Another one of President Donald Trump’s nominees faced a Senate grilling over religious beliefs, a worrying precedent for religious liberty advocates. Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett, a Notre Dame law professor and devout Catholic, to serve on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. During Barrett’s confirmation hearing Sept. 6, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California led her fellow Democrats in an inquisition of the nominee’s beliefs, questioning whether they would prevent her from ruling fairly on matters that conflicted with her faith. “Dogma lives loudly within you,” Feinstein told Barrett. Last week, Catholic leaders chastised Feinstein and her colleagues for trying to create a religious litmus test for public service. The Rev. John I. Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame, urged senators to “respect those in whom ‘dogma lives loudly’—which is a condition we call faith. For the attempt to live such faith while one respects the legal system should command respect, not evoke concern.”


Jail time for pronoun misuse?

(WNS)–A bill in California that would create a law making it a crime to “misgender” nursing home residents advanced in the state Assembly last week. The bill, SB 219, passed the state Senate in May. Among other provisions, the proposed law would make it a criminal offense not to call elderly LGBT residents at nursing homes or intermediate-care facilities by their preferred names and pronouns. Offenders could face a fine of up to $1,000 and a year in prison. Supporters say the measure, called the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Long-term Care Facility Residents Bill of Rights, would protect LGBT senior-care residents from discrimination and harassment. In addition to outlawing “willfully and repeatedly” failing to use a preferred name or pronoun, the bill would make it illegal to deny admission to a resident or evict a resident for their sexual orientation. It also would require facilities to open restrooms to individuals based on their gender identity.



The United States reflects 16 years after 9/11

 (WNS)–President Donald Trump commemorated the 16th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks Monday at the Pentagon. “The terrorists who attacked us thought they could incite fear and weaken our spirit,” the president said. “But America cannot be intimidated, and those who try will soon join the list of vanquished enemies who dared to test our mettle.” The Trump administration held a moment of silence Monday morning outside the White House to remember the deadliest terror attack on American soil. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis introduced Trump at the Pentagon, where one of four hijacked planes crashed 16 years ago Monday. “We Americans are not made of cotton candy, we are not seaweed drifting in the current, we are not intimidated by our enemies,” Mattis said. Trump dispatched Vice President Mike Pence to speak at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa. More than a 1,000 people gathered in New York City for a moment of silence for the nearly 3,000 who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001.


Betsy DeVos’ pursuit of justice

(WNS)–Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced recently plans to scrap Obama-era rules for colleges and universities dealing with sexual assault claims on campus. She plans to replace the old guidance with a new policy, written with input from administrators and victims’ advocates and adopted only after the standard public comment process. The DeVos announcement did not come as any surprise, and neither did most of the reactions. Detractors said she would make it easier for men to prey on women and get away with it. But other DeVos critics greeted the announcement with cautious optimism. “Before the Obama administration instructed colleges and universities that they had to take sexual-assault allegations seriously—or risk losing federal funds—the system was way too disposed to discourage complaints,” wrote Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus. “But the Obama administration’s move also prompted an overcorrection at some institutions that failed to do enough to protect the rights of students accused of wrongdoing.”


The Cambrian period and creation

(WNS)–Paleontologists claim that 50 fossil remains they recently unearthed belong to a new species of marine predator that evolved 500 million years ago during the Cambrian explosion, a time during which multiple, anatomically distinct animal forms appeared suddenly in the fossil record. Evolutionists going all the way back to Charles Darwin have struggled to explain how so many life forms could appear so suddenly at once during the Cambrian period. Intelligent design advocates say the Cambrian explosion offers evidence of God’s creative work. And young-earth creationists such as Frank Sherwin, a biologist with the Institute for Creation Research, argue that such fossils indicate that the flood of Noah’s time destroyed numerous populations of complex and completely formed animals. “Apart from the greatly inflated ages, the Cambrian explosion is exactly what the flood geologist would predict based on Genesis Chapters 6-9,” Sherwin wrote on the ICR blog.


No faith in stained glass window funds?

(WNS)–Should a Massachusetts church be eligible for public preservation grants to help restore its historic stained glass windows? The City of Acton thinks so and awarded Acton Congregational Church $100,000 under its Community Preservation Act. But a group of taxpayers sued, claiming the grant violates the Massachusetts Constitution’s ban on using public money to benefit religious institutions. The state’s Supreme Judicial Court heard arguments in the case in September and will issue a ruling in the next few months. Douglas Mishkin, the plaintiffs’ attorney, told justices the church could legitimately apply for the funds if it didn’t have an active congregation. He pointed to Old North Church, one of Boston’s most visited historic sites, as an example of a legitimate preservation fund recipient.

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