California Bill Is ‘Sexual-Agenda Bomb,’ Group Says Randy Hall April 7, 2006

Legislation approved Wednesday by the California Senate Judiciary Committee is “a sexual-agenda bomb dressed up as a child-caring Easter egg,” a conservative group charged.

SB 1437, which would amend the state’s education code by adding the words “gender” and “sexual orientation” to its anti-discrimination policy, would force school districts to “teach school children as young as kindergarten to accept and embrace transsexuality, bisexuality and homosexuality in all its forms,” according to Randy Thomasson, president of Campaign for Children and Families (CCF).

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Overwhelmed by orphans

Read it at the Acton Blog

Where will they go?Churches and religious relief organizations are playing a much more active role in U.S. foreign policy. And that has been obvious in recent months in the recovery efforts for the South Asian tsunami and the Pakistan earthquakes.

In March, the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life invited Andrew Natsios, who recently left the U.S. Agency for International Development as chief administrator, to talk about his five-year term there. This is a must-read for anyone who works in this field, or donates money to religious relief organizations. Some of Natsios’ most fascinating observations are about the way “Beltway Politics” influences aid policy in remote corners or the world, and the conflict within Islam about its relations to the West.


Russian Orthodox Church Suspends Relations With Swedish Lutherans Over Gay Marriages


The Moscow Patriarchate has suspended relations with the Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Sweden after it decided to establish an official ceremony to bless homosexual couples, the Interfax news agency reported on Tuesday.

“We have received with great disappointment and grief the news that not only does the Lutheran Church of Sweden not oppose so-called homosexual marriages, but has even ruled to establish an official blessing ceremony,” the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church said in a statement at a session in Moscow.


Testing Drugs on India’s Poor

By Scott Carney

India has been the focus of medical research since the time when sunburned men with pith helmets and degrees from prestigious European medical schools came to catalog tropical illnesses.

The days of the Raj are long gone, but multinational corporations are riding high on the trend toward globalization by taking advantage of India’s educated work force and deep poverty to turn South Asia into the world’s largest clinical-testing petri dish.

The sudden influx of drug companies to India resembles the gold rush frontier, according to Sean Philpott, managing editor of The American Journal of Bioethics.

“Not only are research costs low, but there is a skilled work force to conduct the trials,” he said. In the rush to reap profits, Philpott cautions that drug companies may not be sensitive to how poverty can undermine the spirit of informed consent. “Individuals who participate in Indian clinical trials usually won’t be educated. Offering $100 may be undue enticement; they may not even realize that they are being coerced,” he said.

For decades, pharmaceutical research in India didn’t rely on clinical testing. Scientists mostly reverse-engineered drugs already developed in other countries. But in March, everything changed when India submitted to pressure from the World Trade Organization to stop the practice and implement rules that prohibit local companies from creating generic versions of patented drugs.

Now, pharmaceutical companies can rest assured they won’t lose profits to a domestic market, and India is suddenly a profitable location for performing the expensive tests required for Food and Drug Administration clearance of any drug. Though it is still too soon to tell how much the legislative change has boosted drug development, observers say the number of studies conducted by multinational drug companies has sharply increased since March.

Given the rising cost of drug research in the United States and Europe, more and more drug companies are conducting clinical trials in developing countries where government oversight is more lax and research can be done for a fraction of the cost. According to a 2004 study by Rabo India Finance, a subsidiary of the Netherlands-based Rabo Bank, clinical trials account for more than 40 percent of drug-development costs. The study also found that performing the studies in India can bring the price down by about 60 percent.

By 2010, total spending on outsourcing clinical trials to India could top $2 billion, according to Ashish Singh, vice president of Bain & Co., a consulting firm that reports on the health-care industry.



“It’s only a choice”; the great lie

I had a chance to hear her speak a couple years ago. I’m not easily moved by a speaker, but she is a compelling speaker. Her story is incredible and it’s hard to imagine anyone after hearing her speak continue to believe that abortion is only a choice over a “mass of tissue”.

Gianna Jessen was aborted at 7½ months. She survived. Astonishingly, she has forgiven her mother for trying to kill her.
By Elizabeth Day

Gianna Jessen grew up believing that she was born with cerebral palsy because she had been delivered prematurely in a particularly traumatic birth.

That was the story told to her by her adoptive mother and it was not until she was 12 years old that she discovered the truth about what made her different from the other children at school.

“I had an innate wondering,” Miss Jessen says. “I wasn’t satisfied for some reason, so I kept asking why I had this disability.

“She tried to break it to me gently and then, just as she was about to tell me, I said ‘I was aborted, right?’ She said ‘Yeah, you were.’ And my reaction was ‘Well, at least I have cerebral palsy for an interesting reason.’ ”

That was 16 years ago. Miss Jessen is now a pretty, fresh-faced 28-year-old with wavy shoulder-length red hair. She speaks with eloquence and composure, in a soft southern American accent, her forehead crinkling slightly as she talks.

But while her outward appearance might have changed, her inner determination to overcome even the most insurmountable challenges has remained absolutely constant.

From the very beginning, Miss Jessen survived in spite of herself. Her mother, Tina, a 17-year-old single woman, decided to have an abortion by saline injection when she was seven-and-a-half months pregnant (there is no legal time limit for abortion in America).

But in the early morning of April 6, 1977, the abortion failed. Against the odds, the baby had lived. A nurse called the emergency services and the child was taken to hospital. She weighed only 2lb and the abortionist had to sign her birth certificate.


The Untold Story of Rescue Operations In Katrina’s Aftermath

This is the outline of a story in the last issue of “National Review.” Unfortunately I cannot find the story online. All the media missed it. Read it the next time you are at B&N.

In a remarkable article in a recent issue of National Review, Lou Dolinar, a retired Newsday reporter, provides an account of rescue operations in Katrina’s aftermath. He indicates more than 50,000 people were saved by boat or helicopter during Katrina Week. He states that the lower-than-expected number of casualties was due to the effectiveness of these rescue operations.

He cited a Washington Post poll that indicated 40 percent of survivors who had relocated to Houston– which extrapolates to about 40,000-50,000 people– had been rescued.
[Read more…]


A Swamp of Corruption

Wall Street Opinion Journal John Fund Monday, September 26, 2005

In Katrina’s wake, Louisiana’s political culture needs a cleanup too.

Perhaps no footage from Hurricane Katrina was replayed more often than the “Meet the Press” clip of Aaron Broussard, president of Jefferson Parish, La., telling Tim Russert that bureaucrats had “committed murder” in the storm’s aftermath. He sobbed as he told about a colleague’s mother drowning in her nursing home after begging her son on the phone for four days to save her from the rising waters. Talk show host Don Imus said he had never seen such gripping testimony on TV in his life.

But later found the story didn’t hold up. Eva Rodrigue, the 92-year-old mother of Thomas Rodrique, the parish’s emergency services director, did drown–but not because federal or state officials failed to rescue her. Mr. Rodrique said his mother died the day of the hurricane because the nursing home’s owners ignored commands to evacuate. The owners are now under indictment for negligent homicide. Mr. Rodrique says his mother never spoke with him, and he can’t explain why his boss, Mr. Broussard, got it so wrong.
[Read more…]


Why Modern Liberalism Is in Retreat

Virginia Viewpoint Tibor R. Machan, Ph.D.

Liberalism was once a radical social philosophy because it championed liberty, in particular, the right to individual freedom in civil and economic affairs. In time, however, the term “liberal” was hijacked by those who were actually advocating a return to extensive government interference, championing this now as necessary so as “to make people free.” In fact, however, what they proposed was the paternalistic state whereby adult human beings would once again be treated as if they were children, dependents, in constant need of being regimented by superior leaders so they could live successfully.

The radical liberalism that meant freeing adult individuals from government became classical liberalism and, later, libertarianism, at least in the United States of America. (Throughout the rest of the world “liberal” still calls to mind the original radical meaning.) Yet the debate isn’t only about words.
[Read more…]


Faith-based groups outdoing the feds: Rector aids storm cleanup

Home News Tribune JOHN MAJESKI

Says faith-based groups outdoing the feds

SOUTH RIVER – It’s been said that any form of devastation or violence seen on television can never fully prepare a person for witnessing the real thing.

Recently back from the Hurricane Katrina-ravaged Gulf Coast, the Rev. David F. Garretson knows this to be true.

“It had a sense of unrealness,” Garretson said of the landscape in and around Biloxi, Miss., where he spent more than a week coordinating relief efforts with International Orthodox Christian Charities. “I’ve never seen anything like that. It looked like the set of a sci-fi movie.

“The people were the walking wounded,” he added.

Garretson, rector of Saints Peter and Paul Russian Orthodox Church on Whitehead Avenue, was flown to Mobile, Ala., on Sept. 8 with the Rev. David Kossey of Manhattan. Garretson said his services had been requested by IOCC because he had received disaster training following 9/11. He arrived home two days ago.
[Read more…]


First fight yourself, then society Dennis Prager

When my older son was about 8 years old, I was putting him to bed one night and asked him what he learned that day in school. Normally he would answer, as nearly all boys do, by saying, “Nothing.” But that night he had an answer.

“I learned I have a yetzer hara,” he told me. As a student at a religious Jewish school, he was using the Hebrew term for the desire to do what is wrong. It is basic Jewish theology that the human being has two innate drives — one for good and one for bad — and that life is a constant battle with the bad drive. While Christian theology uses different terms, such as “sinful nature,” both traditions believe that the greatest battle for a better world is usually with oneself.

This is another significant way in which the Judeo-Christian value system differs from the dominant value system — that of the Left — in the contemporary West. Whether the ideology calls itself radical, leftist or liberal, its primary emphasis is on “social justice,” i.e., making society more just. Now, of course, Judeo-Christian values also seek to create a just society. Any system rooted in the Old Testament prophets and teachings of Jesus is going to be preoccupied with how to make a just society.

The differences lie elsewhere. There are two major ones.

The first is that the Left frequently defines “social justice” differently than Judeo-Christian values do. For most on the Left, “social justice” means social equality and social fairness. It is not fair that some people have more than others. This is why the Left believes that courts should be far more than umpires when adjudicating justice: they should be promoting fairness and equality.

The other difference, the focus of this column, is that leftist ideologies are so preoccupied with “social justice” that they generally ignore personal character development.

Judeo-Christian values believe the road to a just society is paved by individual character development; the Left believes it is paved with action on a macro level.

That is one reason the Left is far more interested than the Right, i.e., religious Jews and Christians and secular conservatives, in passing laws, whether through legislation or through the actions of judges. That is how the Left believes you make a better society. There is, incidentally, a second reason the Left passes so many laws: As the Left breaks down the self-discipline of Judeo-Christian religions, more and more laws are needed simply to keep people from devouring each other.

That the Left is more concerned with social change than individual change and the Right is more concerned with individual than social activism can be seen in many areas.

Many parents, for example, measure their child’s character by the child’s social activism, not by his or her behavior toward fellow students. If the child has walked for AIDS, or marched for breast cancer, or works on “environmental issues,” the child is deemed — and the child deems himself — a fine person. That he or she might mistreat less popular kids in class is not considered.

There are, of course, religious Jews and Christians who do not lead decent lives and there are leftists who do. But leftist ideals, being overwhelmingly macro, will always be more appealing to the less decent who want to feel good about themselves. That helps explain those Hollywood celebrities who lead narcissistic, hedonistic personal lives but nevertheless feel very good about themselves by raising money for “peace” or by demonstrating against global warming.

I first became aware of this vast discrepancy between “social activism” and personal ethical behavior when I saw the personal behavior of the “pro-peace,” anti-war, activists at my graduate school (Columbia University) in the early 1970s. They demonstrated for world peace but led personally narcissistic lives. Their theoretical altruism was all macro. Meanwhile, most of the religious students were preoccupied with personal character issues.

Why? Because Judeo-Christian values have always understood that the world is made better by making people better. On occasion, of course, a great moral cause must be joined. For example, it was religious Christians who led the fight to abolish slavery in Europe and America. But in general, the way to a better society is through the laborious and completely non-glamorous project of making each person more honest, more courageous, more decent, more likely to commit to another person in marriage, more likely to devote more time to raising children, and so on.

That is why all those peace studies institutes and courses are morally meaningless. Only by people learning to fight their yetzer hara will peace reign on earth.


The Virtues of Virtue

Signs of moral renewal?

New York Times (Free registration required) DAVID BROOKS August 7, 2005

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the rate of family violence in this country has dropped by more than half since 1993. I’ve been trying to figure out why.

A lot of the credit has to go to the people who have been quietly working in this field: to social workers who provide victims with counseling and support; to women’s crisis centers, which help women trapped in violent relationships find other places to live; to police forces and prosecutors, who are arresting more spouse-beaters and putting them away.

The Violence Against Women Act, which was passed in 1994, must have also played a role, focusing federal money and attention.

But all of these efforts are part of a larger story. The decline in family violence is part of a whole web of positive, mutually reinforcing social trends. To put it in old-fashioned terms, America is becoming more virtuous. Americans today hurt each other less than they did 13 years ago. They are more likely to resist selfish and shortsighted impulses. They are leading more responsible, more organized lives. A result is an improvement in social order across a range of behaviors.


Moral police have been disarmed

The Daily Telegraph

After a lengthy investigation into criminal behaviour among young people, the committee reached the following conclusions: the main causes were the “improper conduct of parents”, the “want of education” and the “want of suitable employment”. Moral guidance and civilised order were seen as the remedies.

Sound familiar? This was the opinion of a report from the Society for Investigating the Causes of the Alarming Increase of Juvenile Delinquency in the Metropolis, established in 1815, just after the end of the Napoleonic Wars. The circumstances then, of course, were very different. When a police chief spoke recently of gangs of “feral” children in our towns and cities, his grasp of history was somewhat tenuous. In the 19th century, some children were literally feral, wild and untamed, with no family to return to, no social workers to look after them, no welfare state to provide for them.


A culture awash in porn

Town Hall Rebecca Hagelin April 29, 2005

“Porn is just another form of entertainment now.”

The speaker, an 18-year-old concession-stand worker named Ben Meredith, was explaining to a Los Angeles Times reporter why virtually no young people were trying to get in to see “Inside Deep Throat” at an Orange County, Calif., theater.

Given the rating (NC-17) and the subject matter (the making of the notorious 1972 movie “Deep Throat”) one might expect to find some curious teens infiltrating the theater — or at least trying to. Instead, the Times reporter writes, the audience was “overwhelmingly middle-age” and “not a young person was in sight.”

Which didn’t surprise Ben, a freshman at the University of California-Irvine. “I mean, porn is really easy to get now. It’s like, who cares?”


You won’t read it in the papers

Town Hall Mona Charen April 29, 2005

Last month, the leading lights of journalism reported (with a trace of smugness) the results of a study showing that adolescents who took a pledge of sexual abstinence were almost as likely as those who took no pledges to contract sexually transmitted diseases.

The Washington Post noted that the report “sparked an immediate, bitter debate over the wisdom of teaching premarital abstinence.” Bill Smith, vice president of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, crowed, “Not only do virginity pledges not work to keep our young people safe, they are causing harm by undermining condom use, contraception and medical treatment.”
[Read more…]


Sexual indoctrination of children

Boston Globe
Arrested father had point to make. Disputed school’s lesson on diversity

CONCORD — For David Parker, the first alarm went off in January, when his 5-year-old son came home from his kindergarten class at Lexington’s Joseph Estabrook School with a bag of books promoting diversity.

Inside were books about foreign cultures and traditions, along with food recipes. There was also a copy of ”Who’s In a Family?” by Robert Skutch, which depicts different kinds of families, including same-sex couples raising children.

The book’s contents concerned Parker and prompted him to begin a series of e-mail exchanges with school officials on the subject that culminated in a meeting Wednesday night with Estabrook’s principal and district director of instruction. The meeting ended with Parker’s arrest after he refused to leave the school, and the Lexington man spent the night in jail.