Month Archives: October 2011

Purging the Government of Anti-Islamists

by Chris Gacek

October 6, 2011

Bill Gertz has an alarming story in his Inside the Ring column in todays (10/6/2011; p. A9) Washington Times entitled Anti-Terror Trainers Blocked. According to Gertz, theCIA and the Department of Homeland security abruptly canceled an August conference on homegrown U.S. radical extremism in what officials close to the issue say was an effort to block two conservative anti-terrorism experts from presenting their views.

Gertz claims the event was canceled after Muslim advocacy groups contact the Department of Homeland Security and the White House about scheduled speakers, who included Stephen Caughlin and Steven Emerson, both specialists on the Islamist terror threat. According to Gertz, Mr. Caughlin, a former Pentagon Joint Staff analyst, is one of the most knowledgeable counterterrorism experts specializing in the relationship between Islamic law and terrorism. Emerson heads the Investigative Project on Terrorism and is a leading expert on Islamic violent extremism, financing and operations.

Apparently stopping the conference wasnt enough for the White House. Gertz was told by one official that to prevent the two experts from taking part in future conferences, the administration is drafting new guidelines designed to prohibit all U.S.government personnel from teaching classes on Islamic history or doctrine. These rules will also seek to prohibit the use of federal funds to pay contractors for such training.

These actions bears closer examination, but they fit within the growing pattern of attacks from the Left on those also including Frank Gaffney who oppose Islamist extremism.

Secretary Sebelius to NARAL: Contraceptive Mandate a Victory

by Family Research Council

October 6, 2011

According to the Associated Press, Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius spoke at a National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) Pro-Choice America luncheon in Chicago yesterday. During her remarks, she received much applause when she said that “Republicans want to roll back women’s health gains 50 years.”

Interestingly, the AP reports that the Secretary received an even louder round of applause from the gathered abortion proponents when she discussed the recent interim final rule on women’s preventive service, the “contraceptive mandate.” The mandate is the first roll-out of the health care law passed in March, 2010, and forces employers to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives in health plans with no co-pay. However, some drugs and devices that are labeled as contraceptives can cause an abortion to a developing baby. For more information see FRC’s comments here and q and a here.

In her words, “women have suffered discrimination by insurance companies that have considered… birth control a lifestyle choice.” She did not, however, comment on the tens of thousands of negative comments filed last week asking for the government to rescind this unprecedented violation of religious freedom from government coercion.

President Obama was also bragging and joking about the contraceptive mandate this week during a Democratic fundraiser in St. Louis. He, too, was silent on the influx of negative comments related to this mandate. It is sad to see an Administration so proudly hailing a mandate that will violate the consciences of millions of Americans, as well as rob countless developing babies of their inherent right to life.

The Social Conservative Review: October 6, 2011

by Krystle Gabele

October 6, 2011

If you like the Social Conservative Review, you can subscribe by clicking here.


Dear Friends,

We are made in the image and likeness of God. Since God is a moral actor, those bearing His image are responsible to act morally, as well. Christians are to be “conformed to the image” of Christ (Romans 8:29), but if government constrains religious liberty, the public expression of who we were made to be is repressed. This is a denial of our essential humanity.

Christians are called to worship their Lord in fellowship with one another. If a government disallows this, we cannot worship in the manner to which He calls us. Consequently, it is only prudent and, more importantly, honoring to God that we avail ourselves of the religious freedom our Constitution guarantees to live as He requires and also to use the liberties assured us to safeguard our ability to continue to enjoy them. Only through participation as conscientious citizens can we protect the liberties we need to fulfill the duties imposed on us by our Maker and Redeemer.

This applies also to non-Christians. As long as religious believers impose no threat on public order or security, they should be able to practice their faiths without government interference. Buddhists should be able to speak freely about their beliefs. Muslims should be able to worship in mosques undisturbed. New Agers should be able to contemplate the chrysanthemums in the local park without hindrance.

Why? Because God embedded the conscience and mandates the obligation of worship, not government. However inappropriately or unwisely one’s religious fidelity might be expressed, religious liberty is truly the “first freedom” and is grounded in the very nature of man and his relationship with his Creator. As Americans, let’s use our liberty to sustain and advance it, now and always.

Sincerely,

Rob Schwarzwalder

Senior Vice President

Family Research Council

P.S. The Director of FRC’s Center for Religious Liberty, Ken Klukowski, writes frequently about issues affecting faith and freedom. Learn more about FRC’s efforts to defend and strengthen religious liberty by clicking here.


Educational Freedom and Reform

Homeschooling

Legislation and Policy Proposals

Government Reform

Regulation

Waste/Fraud/Abuse

Health Care

Abstinence

Conscience Protection

Health care reform: Political and Legislative efforts

To read more about health care reform, keep up with reports from FRC ‘s Ken Klukowski, click here.

Homosexuality

Human Life and Bioethics

Abortion

Bioethics and Biotechnology

Euthanasia and End of Life Issues

Stem Cell Research

To read about the latest advances in ethical adult stem cell research, keep up with leading-edge reports from FRC’s Dr. David Prentice, click here.

Marriage and Family

Adoption

Family Economics

Family Structure

Media

Pornography

Internet

Religion and Public Policy

Religious Liberty

Religion in America

Secularism

International

Israel

International Economy and Family

Religious Persecution

Sharia law — U.S., foreign

The Courts

Constitutional Issues

Judicial Activism

Other News of Note

Book reviews

2011 Nobel Prize for Chemistry

by David Prentice

October 5, 2011

Awarded to Daniel Shechtman for his discovery of quasicrystals. Quasicrystals are regular patterns of packed molecules, but patterns that never repeat themselves. The structure of molecules that Shechtman discovered in quasicrystals was considered impossible at the time of his discovery, 1982. Shechtman had to fight a fierce battle against established science to get his information published and accepted in the scientific community.

Daniel Shechtman’s discovery of the quasicrystal pattern was wrong according to accepted textbook science. But Shechtman concluded that the scientific community must be mistaken in its assumptions. When he told scientists about his discovery, he was faced with complete opposition, and some colleagues even resorted to ridicule. But he persevered, and the scientific community was eventually forced to reconsider their conception of the nature of solid matter.

The Nobel committee publishes more information for the public as well as detailed scientific information. The information for the public concludes with this:

An important lesson for science

Daniel Shechtmans story is by no means unique. Over and over again in the history of science, researchers have been forced to do battle with established truths, which in hindsight have proven to be no more than mere assumptions. One of the fiercest critics of Daniel Shechtman and his quasicrystals was Linus Pauling, himself a Nobel Laureate on two occasions. This clearly shows that even our greatest scientists are not immune to getting stuck in convention. Keeping an open mind and daring to question established knowledge may in fact be a scientists most important character traits.

A Welcome Move by the Supreme Court (yes, you read that right)

by Rob Schwarzwalder

October 4, 2011

In good news for all who cherish religious liberty, the Supreme Court has decided to let stand a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that the Christian charity World Vision was within its legal rights to fire three employees who, after signing the ministry’s doctrinal statement, admitted to denying the Deity of Christ.

The importance of this ruling is obvious and profound: If an explicitly religious organization requires employees to sign a doctrinal statement, and they do so of their own free will, that organization has every right to terminate the employment of those who no longer subscribe to the beliefs articulated in the group’s own statement of faith. In the words of World Vision president Richard Stearns, “our Christian faith has been the foundation of your work since the organization was established in 1950, and our hiring policy is vital to the integrity of our mission to serve the poor as followers of Jesus Christ”.

World Vision’s principled stand was stated by its VP and Chief Legal Officer, Steve McFarland, who noted that WV would stop taking federal funds before employing anyone who could not, in good conscience, support its doctrinal positions.

Secularists don’t understand the integrated nature of all faith-based activities: In any ministry, a person who welcomes guests at a reception desk is representing Christ as surely as the ordained minister behind the pulpit. Sacred and secular are not, for Christians, distinct domains. Jesus claims Lordship over all of life, and ministries recognizing this know they cannot but weaken their missions and ministries if they hire those who disagree with their beliefs.

NYT: Contraceptive Use Increases HIV/AIDS Risk

by Family Research Council

October 4, 2011

The New York Times ran a stunning story yesterday “Contraceptive Use May Double Risk of H.I.V.“, about a new study published today in the Lancet showing that hormonal contraceptive use is strongly correlated with an increased vulnerability to contracting HIV/AIDS.

The study was conducted in seven countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the region most impacted by HIV/AIDS in the world. Three thousand, seven hundred and ninety serodiscordant couples (one partner is HIV positive and one is not) participated in the longitudinal study running for six years, from 2004-2010. The bottom line? Women who used hormonal contraception had a “two-times increased risk of acquiring HIV.” Additionally, women who were using hormonal contraceptives were significantly more likely to transmit HIV to their partners.

The NYT reports that the World Health Organization is convening a meeting in January to review the latest research about the relationship between hormonal contraceptives and HIV/AIDS vulnerability and review if/how current recommendations require revisions.

For more information click here.

2011 Nobel Prize for Physics

by David Prentice

October 4, 2011

Awarded to Saul Perlmutter, Brian P. Schmidt and Adam G. Riess for the discovery of the accelerating expansion of the Universe through observations of distant supernovae. The two teams of astrophysicists studied several dozen exploding stars, called supernovae, mapping the most distant ones, and reaching the conclusion based on their studies that the Universe is expanding at an ever-accelerating rate. According to the Nobel committee, their findings “have helped to unveil a Universe that to a large extent is unknown to science.”

FCC Tries to Manage Spectrum Shortage by Taking from Broadcasters

by Chris Gacek

October 3, 2011

Some writers on technology and law argue that there is no shortage of the electromagnetic spectrum through which television, radio, and broadband can be broadcast. One Supreme Court case, Red Lion, points to spectrum scarcity as a basis for Federal Communications Commission (FCC) jurisdiction to regulate broadcasting including the promulgation of its indecency rules.

Of relevance to this debate, the Washington Times recently published two articles on the FCCs proposal to reallocate spectrum from broadcasting to broadband. The first article contains an interview with former-senator Gordon H. Smith, president of the National Association of Broadcasters. The second story contains more details about the potential impact of the spectrum swap (grab?) on broadcasters.

Whatever the pluses and minuses of the idea of a swap, it is pretty clear that there isnt enough spectrum to go around. Furthermore, as the number of wireless applications grows, the demand for spectrum will only increase until some completely superseding technology arises.

October 3, 1990: The Day of German Unity

by Robert Morrison

October 3, 2011

It was Ronald Reagan, my hero, who stood at the Brandenburg Gate and cried out: Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall! But it was President George H.W. Bush who, two and a half years later, quietly and skillfully guided the process of German Reunification. So, today, 21 years later, we can take note of the national day of Germany, or, Tag der Deutschen Einheit. And give credit where credit is due.

West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl in 1990 wanted desperately to unite his country with the East. It had been divided since the end of World War II. But Kohl was the only other world statesman who wanted this.

The Polish Pope, John Paul II, was all for ending Communisms iron grip, but he was not overly eager about the Germans coming together. Poland had suffered horribly at the hands of the old Germany. The Iron Lady, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, remembered the Blitz of World War II. She was cool to the idea of Germany becoming Europes premier economic and political giant. Frances Francois Mitterrand was unexcited about a new next-door neighbor reunified and rejuvenated. France had been overrun three times in a hundred years by Germany. He had reason to fear.

Back in the USSR, with the Communist regime spinning out of control, party chairman Mikhail Gorbachev was dealing with the inevitable consequences of his decision in November 1989 not to shoot as demonstrators danced on the crumbling Berlin Wall.

The German Democratic Republic (DDR) was the name of the rump state created by Stalin. It was never a democratic republic. And, as became obvious once the Wall came down, it wasnt German either.

TIME Magazine, of course, and the Nobel Peace Prize Committee would credit Gorbachev for the peaceful end of the Cold War. Well, they certainly couldnt give credit to Ronald Reagan and George Bush! As my friend Morton Blackwell says, is there any other example of giving credit to the hostage taker for not shooting his hostages?

Actually, there is. Its called the Stockholm Syndrome. Theres probably no better description of the mindset of Western liberalism than this bizarre situationwhere the hostages began to identify psychologically with their own captors.

Gorbachev came to power with 27,000 nuclear weapons trained on the West. Some of them doubtless would have hit Manhattans West Side, Washingtons Georgetown, and they may even have had one targeted on Marthas Vineyard. They had enough to spare.

So, when Gorbachev didnt shoot, he naturally became the darling of the Western elites.

If, as a candidate for President in 1988, George H.W. Bush had said he would like to see Communism collapse in on itself, the Outer Empire of Eastern Europe liberated, and the Inner Empire of the Baltic Republics, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, and Byelorussia go free, he would probably have been dismissed as dangerous, even delusional.

Its not at all clear that George Bush himself envisioned all that would come to pass on his watch. He was, however, prepared and coolly capable of pressing events to their proper and pacific conclusion.

Germany had been the source of incredible danger and terror for the entire worldbut only from 1890 to 1945. We should never forget the Rape of Belgium in 1914 or the Holocaust of 1942-45. Still, the German people had centuries of spiritual, cultural, and scientific genius to share with mankind.

With the single exception of unjustly persecuting home schoolers, Germany since 1945 has been a reputable modern democracy. Ambassador Klaus Sharioth publicly thanked America for sending 60 million young soldiers and airmen to defend his divided country. He said no nation in history had so generously protected another.

In 1989, I loudly opposed George H.W. Bushs policy of not dancing on the Berlin Wall. I thought Ronald Reagan would have publicly celebrated the great day. But President Bush was right and I was wrong. He surely deserves the Nobel Peace Prize for this signal achievement. And just as surely, he will never get it.

2011 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine

by David Prentice

October 3, 2011

Awarded to Bruce A. Beutler, Jules A. Hoffmann, and Ralph M. Steinman for their discoveries related to how the immune system is activated to defend against invaders.

Beutler and Hoffmann discovered receptor proteins that can recognize bacteria and other microorganisms and activate innate immunity, the first step in the body’s immune response. Steinman discovered the dendritic cells of the immune system and their unique capacity to activate and regulate adaptive immunity, the later stage of the immune response during which microorganisms are cleared from the body, as well as the stage where the immune system develops a “memory” against subsequent infections. Taken together, their insights have shown some of the key activating principles for the stages of immune response, and also mechanisms for disease treatment and prevention.

UPDATE

The Nobel prize announcement was bittersweet for the family and friends of Ralph Steinman. Steinman died just days before the Nobel committee’s announcement that he had won. He succumbed to pancreatic cancer, which he had battled for several years, including using the knowledge gained from his Nobel award-winning research. Steinman was honored at a ceremony at Rockefeller University on Monday. Although the Nobel prize is not typically awarded posthumously, the Nobel committee has announced that Dr. Steinman’s selection will stand since the committee did not learn of his death until after it had reached its decision.

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