World Report, Week 34, 2014

Written by Editor in Chief on . Posted in World

WORLD News Service – September 5 2014

Dinesh D'Souza Pleads for Mercy, Voices Regret: Conservative commentator asks judge not to send him to jail after pleading guilty to orchestrating illegal campaign contributions

Women's College Redefines "Women" Mount Holyoke becomes the first of the 'Seven Sisters' to accept transgender students based solely on their self-identity

Game Changer Gamechurch is seizing opportunities to reach the gaming community

Millennial Writes a Parent's Guide to the Evangelical Left

Andrew Klavan Hired to Write Script for Gosnell

Missionaries Who Beat Ebola Speak Out as Another Doctor is Diagnosed

Federal Judge: Louisiana Has a Right to Ban Gay Marriage

Traditional Marriage Laws Fall in Two More States

Louisiana Abortionists Can Practice Without Hospital Support, For Now



Dinesh D'Souza Pleads for Mercy, Voices Regret

Conservative commentator asks judge not to send him to jail after pleading guilty to orchestrating illegal campaign contributions

By Emily Belz

(WNS)--Conservative commentator and former Christian college president Dinesh D'Souza, facing a Sept. 23 sentencing in New York, asked for community service probation instead of prison time in court filings on Wednesday. He told the judge overseeing his sentencing that he was sorry for his actions and wouldn't repeat them. Accompanying the pre-sentencing memo were dozens of letters of support from D'Souza's friends, family, and colleagues.

In May, D'Souza pleaded guilty to orchestrating $20,000 in illegal campaign contributions for U.S. Senate candidate Wendy Long. D'Souza faces 10 to 16 months in prison under the plea deal, but his defense has argued that his integrity and lack of criminal record should allow a 'nonguideline' sentence. His lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, argued that similar cases had resulted in probation, not prison time. Brafman suggested a probation sentence under which D'Souza could do community service at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater San Diego or teach English to new immigrants. D'Souza also argued that he had "paid a price" for his crimes because of the public humiliation around the case and his conviction.

"When I think about what I did, I am filled with a sense of sheer frustration, exasperation, and regret," D'Souza wrote in a statement to District Judge Richard Berman. "I cannot believe how stupid I was, how careless, and how irresponsible. I keep going back and trying to envision how I ended up here, asking myself, 'What were you thinking?' ... I should have figured out a legal way to help her. Instead I took a short-cut, knowing that there was a campaign limit and trying to get around the limit."

Long, in a letter on D'Souza's behalf, emphasized that D'Souza gave the straw donations without any expectation of quid pro quo. But his sentencing memo revealed a motive: Before the straw donations, Long introduced D'Souza to "an individual who would later become the principal financial underwriter of his film."

"Dinesh's desire to repay that kindness severely clouded his judgment and left him desperately seeking a way to repay her, an objective that eventually culminated in this criminal prosecution," his defense wrote.

Danielle D'Souza, his daughter, described Long as one of D'Souza's first friends when he immigrated to America. "When she asked him for help while running for the Senate in 2012, he could not refuse," she wrote.

Other writers in support of D'Souza included Eric Bennett, the vice president for student development at The King's College, where D'Souza was the president until revelations about a relationship he had with a woman who was not his wife spurred him to resign. Tyler Vawser, D'Souza's assistant at King's and now the college's director of marketing and communications, also wrote a letter in support. Vawser was one of the straw donors and was scheduled to testify against D'Souza if the trial had gone through.

"During his tenure at The King's College, admissions grew, fundraising increased, and the college's reputation improved," said Vawser. "While the circumstances around his departure were not ideal, the staff that worked closest with Dinesh still respect him greatly to this day. ... I know firsthand that Dinesh had no intent to corrupt the political system when he engaged in the conduct that led to his guilty plea."

Stanley Fish, a law professor at Cardozo Law School in New York who has publicly debated D'Souza, wrote in support of his friend. So did Fish's wife, Jane Tompkins, a retired English professor at Duke University. Other letters of support came from producers of D'Souza's films, professors from D'Souza's alma mater, Dartmouth College, friends, his mom in India—even his daughter's best friend.

Danielle D'Souza described how her parents' failed marriage played into the case.

"A few weeks after making the mistake of violating New York's campaign finance laws, my parents filed for divorce," Danielle continued. "He was very stressed during this time as my parents had been married for 20 years. ... This all weighed on him greatly, and I can confidently say that this would impair anyone's judgment. My father has had to endure a lot of suffering in the last few years and I humbly ask that you give him a lenient sentence."

The prosecution will weigh in with its recommendation by Sept. 8.

Women's College Redefines "Women"

Mount Holyoke becomes the first of the 'Seven Sisters' to accept transgender students based solely on their self-identity

By Daniel James Devine

(WNS)--An all-women's college in South Hadley, Mass., has expanded its definition of "women" with a new admissions policy this week. On Tuesday, Mount Holyoke College President Lynn Pasquerella announced in her convocation speech that the school would accept openly transgender students, including students who were born male but identify themselves as women.

The policy change comes after Mills College in Oakland, Calif., announced this summer it would accept "self-identified women" into its all-women's school—the first single-sex college in the United States to publicly establish such a policy.

Mount Holyoke is the first school among the historic "Seven Sisters" women's colleges—one-time female equivalents of the Ivy League schools—to craft a policy admitting transgendered students on the sole basis of self-identification.

These new admissions policies reveal a trend toward viewing traditional categories of male and female as discriminatory in some cases. In recent months, single-sex schools, including Mount Holyoke, have been under pressure by student advocacy groups to admit transgender men and women. The student group MHC Femmepowered earlier this year posted photos of students expressing support for transgender women at Mount Holyoke.

"There's a recognition that these old categories, the gender binary, is rejected by many people today," Pasquerella told me on Wednesday. "So how do we accommodate that in an institution that is committed to women's education, first and foremost?"

According to Mount Holyoke's new admission policy, the school will now permit the following types of transgender students to apply for admission:

• Biologically born female; identifies as a woman.
• Biologically born female; identifies as a man.
• Biologically born female; identifies as other/they/ze.
• Biologically born female; does not identify as either woman or man.
• Biologically born male; identifies as woman.
• Biologically born male; identifies as other/they/ze and when "other/they" identity includes woman.
• Biologically born with both male and female anatomy (Intersex); identifies as a woman.

The school's policy notes one identity category still barred from admission: "Biologically born male; identifies as man."

But such a male student could attend the school if he identified as a woman at the time of his initial admittance and then later changed his self-identity to "male." Mount Holyoke's policy says it would not ask such students to leave once they are admitted.

Mount Holyoke applicants won't have to provide any doctor's records or documentation to prove they have consistently identified as a gender other than their birth gender. Nor will they be required to have undergone surgery or hormonal treatments. Instead, the school will rely on how the student identifies himself or herself.

"Many students will choose leaving home for college as an opportunity to explore or proclaim new identities," the school's admission policy says. "Whether a student transitions suddenly or has a long history with a particular gender identity will not have an impact on how their application for admission is assessed."

Mount Holyoke expects students to act in good faith. Pasquerella told me if a male student applied as a woman for "fraudulent purposes," such as to try to crack open the door to coeducation, it would be a violation of the school's honor code and grounds for dismissal.

Yet, "if we accept the notion of gender fluidity, then we would allow, as we have now, students who come in as women and who graduate as men," she said.

Mount Holyoke, a school of 2,200 students, already has at least one transgendered student enrolled. It previously evaluated applications on a case-by-case basis and has not, until now, articulated formal guidelines. Pasquerella said other Seven Sisters colleges have admitted transgender students on a case-by-case basis as well.

Another Seven Sisters school, Smith College in Northhampton, Mass., has also been under pressure to admit transgender students on the sole basis of self-identity. Smith currently allows applications from transgender women but still requires that "a student's application and supporting documentation (transcripts, recommendations, etc.) will reflect her identity as a woman."

Mills College updated its policy over the summer to admit transgender students to its all-women's undergraduate program, but did not extend admission to people who were born female but have already undergone "a legal change of gender to male" at the time of their application. Brian O'Rourke, vice president of enrollment and admissions at the college, told the San Francisco Chronicle only three to five out of every 1,000 Mills undergraduates identifies as transgender.

Mount Holyoke, founded as a nondenominational women's "seminary" in 1837, taught women subjects such botany, astronomy, Latin, and algebra, while requiring them to attend chapel services and Bible studies. Some alumnae became missionaries in China, Turkey, and South Africa. The American poet Emily Dickinson attended for a year.

Game Changer

Gamechurch is seizing opportunities to reach the gaming community

By Angela Lu

(WNS)--On a hot July afternoon, young people in bright wigs and elaborately hand-sewn costumes filled the Los Angeles Convention Center. For one weekend, Japanese anime characters came to life as 60,000 participants at the annual Anime Expo primped and posed as characters they had painstakingly recreated.

Outside the center, bright yellow signs bobbed with the messages "The Wages of Sin Is Death" and "Eternal Life in Jesus" as a Hispanic man shouted into a loudspeaker. Most people passed by without a glance, as one man wearing a T-shirt with the image of a marijuana leaf held up his own homemade sign that read "God is a LIE." Inside, though, anime devotees crowded around a booth with a blown-up image of Jesus holding an Xbox controller.

That Gamechurch booth, sandwiched between others selling Pokemon toys and big-eyed anime posters, featured volunteers telling each passerby that Jesus loves them just the way they are, dyed-pink hair and kitten ears included. Gamechurch is a ministry reaching gamers right where they are by attending "nerd culture" conventions and running a video game news website. At Anime Expo, its volunteers passed out lanyards with the words "Jesus loves gamers" in block letters and more than 2,000 "gamer bibles" (the book of John with gamer-aimed commentary) that delve deeper into the gospel message.

Christians now have a small piece of a $21 billion video game industry that caters to tens of millions of Americans: The average age of gamers is 31, and nearly half are women. The games themselves cover a wide range: Not just relegated to first-person shooters or role-playing fantasies, a new crop of empathy games artfully tell interactive stories about difficult topics like depression, autism, and poverty. They are big business: Grand Theft Auto V, a raunchy crime-riddled game, cost a reported $265 million to make, and took in $1 billion in merely three days.

Many churchgoers have a negative view of video games; too violent and too sexual, which many are. But video games have as much variety as movies, which few Christians now boycott, and each highly involved game displays a worldview. Christian gamers see video games as opportunities for parents to bond with their children and for Christians to bond with nonbelievers. At Gamechurch's Anime Expo booth, most people were curious and inquisitive, some saying that even though they don't agree with Christianity, they appreciate what Gamechurch is doing. Some signed up for email updates in exchange for a poster of Jesus stylized like a warrior from the film 300.

A few passersby snickered but none expressed hostility. "How do you argue with 'Jesus loves you' and free stuff?" asked Chris Gwaltney, Gamechurch's missions coordinator. "He loves you right now, you don't have to shower first." Founder Mikee Bridges, a former alt-Christian rocker who went on to open a skate park, PC gaming center, and now Gamechurch, believes the group is planting seeds at these conventions: One young man emailed to say he read the "gamer bible" on the airplane ride home, gave it to the person sitting next to him who seemed interested, and was emailing Gamechurch to ask for another copy.

Gamechurch also aims to minister to people through the context of relationship–in this case the camaraderie built from fighting monsters or protecting each other from enemy fire. Online multiplayer games such as World of Warcraft group strangers together to fight battles, and Brian Buffon, director of Gamechurch, said the time spent together in the game builds trust so that when a teammate goes through a difficult time such as a breakup, they can turn to him for support, creating an opening to talk.

Christian video game developers have been trying to bring Christ into the industry—mostly to tap the large Christian market—since the 1990s, often by ripping off popular games and adding a biblical twist with titles such as Spiritual Warfare, the Left Behind series, and even Dance Praise. But with the rise of indie developers, more Christian developers have the freedom to create games that aren't as overtly Christian, but are intertwined with a Christian worldview.

For instance, developer Ryan Green has created a buzz in the past year with his game That Dragon, Cancer, an autobiographical empathy game that follows Green as he deals with his son Joel's losing battle with cancer from age 1 to age 5. Green started creating the game with developer Josh Larson two years ago as an artistic way to sort out his feelings. In one level of the game, players take on Green's point of view and find themselves inside of an ICU hospital room with a crying son in the crib, unable to be consoled. Through words on the screen and voice-overs, players hear the thoughts of helplessness running through Green's mind, until the only option left is to sit down and pray—and the crying finally stops.

Reviewers from secular publications who tested the early demo of That Dragon, Cancer, praised the game, many leaving with tears in their eyes as they recalled loved ones they'd seen in that position. Green wrote that as a Christian game developer he had "the power to limit choice, to bend the player's knee in prayer, to create a black and white world in which the pillars of faith can be crammed down their throat in megabyte-sized chunks. If I did that, then I would not be much like the one person in history I desire to emulate."

Millennial Writes a Parent's Guide to the Evangelical Left

By Joseph Slife

(WNS)--What does "evangelical" mean in 2014? The rise of the so-called evangelical left—a movement catching on with many younger Christians—has blurred the picture. Chelsen Vicari says the evangelical left is twisting the gospel. She is the author of a book released this week, published by Frontline. The title is Distortion: How the New Christian Left is Twisting the Gospel and Damaging the Faith. I spoke with Vicari, who serves in Washington, D.C., as the director of evangelical action for The Institute on Religion and Democracy.

Let's address the doctrinal question first. Do people on the evangelical left still believe in sin and salvation, in the work of Christ, in the resurrection, in those touchstones of the faith? I'm sure many of them do. When I say "the evangelical left," I'm really talking about those within the church who are pushing a political, leftist agenda cloaked in Christianity. And when I say "cloaked in Christianity," I mean using the Bible and twisting it to justify a leftist political agenda that actually goes against what Scripture talks about in many ways, for example, marriage, and life, and liberty.

How much does the issue of homosexuality have to do with the evangelical left? It is arguably the biggest, most hostile issue millennial Christians are faced with. Whenever we talk about same-sex relationships, we are either labeled as bigoted or uncompassionate, or we're dismissed if we hold a view of marriage that is between one man and one woman. As a Sunday school teacher, I see it first hand. I have kids who are really smart, really outgoing, who will talk about any awkward or complex issue. They're just eager to learn. But whenever I talk about the same-sex issue, they clam up. They get incredibly quiet because at school or in public they are being taught to either agree or to be quiet. So this is an issue that we've got to start talking about. We cannot give in when it comes to the same-sex issue, which is what millennials are struggling with. That is probably the biggest issue that they are faced with whenever they talk about their faith.

Now, you are a twenty-something, but this book is not written to millennials and teenagers but to older folks. Why? I wrote it to my parents, in many ways. When I was fighting with my parents about reconciling unorthodox teaching with the Bible, they didn't understand the authors I was reading or the speakers who were having a big influence on me. All they knew was that I was going to this Christian campus and coming back with untruths. I write to the grown-ups in the room so that you can understand who's influencing your millennials, what's being taught, and how you can address it.

The final section of your book is titled "Preventing the collapse." It sounds like you think there is hope for shoring up what seems to be an increasingly shaky situation. I absolutely believe that we can have revival, not just in the evangelical community but the church at large. But to do that, it's going to start within our homes. It's going to start by teaching our children exactly what Scripture says and how to defend it. Oftentimes the millennials are willing to compromise because, honestly, they don't know enough about their faith to speak up about it. That's what happened to me. So, first, we have to start teaching in our homes and living out our faith. We have to pray for revival, and we have to pray for courage to be able to speak up on behalf of Christ.

Andrew Klavan Hired to Write Script for Gosnell

By Sophia Lee

(WNS)--The producers of the movie about convicted killer and abortionist Kermit Gosnell have hired bestselling and award-winning novelist and screenwriter Andrew Klavan to write its screenplay.

The hire is the latest gutsy move for the team behind Gosnell, which broke records by raising the most money—about $2.1 million with the help of almost 27,000 donors—at Indiegogo, a crowdfunding website.

Husband-and-wife filmmakers Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney, along with Magda Segieda, decided to make a film about Gosnell because they believed nobody else in liberal-leaning Hollywood would. They call Gosnell "America's biggest serial killer"— but he's also one of the least known. The Gosnell case caused much ire and disgust within pro-life and conservative circles, but barely sparked interest from mainstream media.

During the crowdfunding phase, the filmmakers sent out press releases to several writers, and Klavan was one of them. He shot a response back "within seconds," calling the project "the best story I've ever heard for a movie" and a "stroke of genius." But over the next few weeks, Klavan started thinking he would actually be a good candidate to write the script—after all, he is a crime and thriller writer, whose novel True Crime was made into a movie starring and directed by Clint Eastwood. He's also a brassy conservative who doesn't mince words about Hollywood's liberal takeover of popular culture, penning several controversial columns and opinion pieces on the subject.

Klavan told me as the Gosnell trial was unfolding, he was most "appalled" by the barren media section at the courtroom: "I thought, 'How is that possible? What were they thinking?' I really followed the press' responsibility at the time. ... That seems to be the core of the story: it's really this almost conspiracy of silence—not just the press, but the state and local officials as well."
That "wall of silence" is the angle Klavan will be pursuing while writing the script.

"There's always going to be evil people like Gosnell," he said. "But they only thrive when regular, decent, normal people work to protect them."

Given the grisly nature of Gosnell's crime, Klavan said he is most concerned about keeping the movie compelling without "torturing" the audience on the gruesome baby-killing details. Instead, he plans to highlight the courage of individual investigators and reporters who uncovered the horrors going on in Gosnell's facility. His previous experience as a local reporter covering crime should lend some interesting perspective as well.

The crowdfunding success for Gosnell clearly indicates public interest—but will it also draw interest from people outside the pro-life community? Can a movie accomplish what the media couldn't? Klavan said he doesn't want to "hammer" propaganda over viewers, but let the truth reveal itself through good storytelling: "One of my long-standing subjects is the need to be able to tell the truth ... and if you can't, then you should change your mind."

Missionaries Who Beat Ebola Speak Out as Another Doctor is Diagnosed

By Andrew Branch

(WNS)--North Carolina-based missions group SIM identified a third American diagnosed with Ebola in Liberia, even as survivors Nancy Writebol and Kent Brantly began to tell their stories.

During a Sept. 3news conference, SIM USA President Bruce Johnson told reporters in Charlotte, N.C., the latest victim is 51-year-old Dr. Rick Sacra. Once SIM's Liberia director and the ELWA hospital medical director, Sacra now heads a residency program training new Liberian doctors in family medicine.

He volunteered to return to Liberia from his Boston, Mass., home when his colleagues—Brantly and Writebol—fell ill while serving at ELWA. Sacra was delivering babies in a supposedly Ebola-free general hospital and obstetrics unit when he fell ill.

Johnson told reporters they do not know how Sacra was exposed to the virus, because he followed protective protocols even in the Ebola-free portion of the hospital. Ebola is transmitted through contact with a sick person's bodily fluids. While they're exploring all options, Johnson said, they are not planning just yet to evacuate Sacra to the United States.

Sacra is in good spirits, and talking on his cell phone with his wife, Debbie, who is in the United States. He and his wife knew the risks when he returned to the country.

"It does not dampen our resolve and our commitment to serve the people of Liberia and to attack this Ebola epidemic," Johnson said. "Our faith compels us."

Johnson and Will Elphick, SIM's Liberia director, described one of ELWA's Ebola units as a converted kitchen and laundry area that is "over capacity." But they painted a much brighter picture than Doctors Without Borders President Joanne Liu did on Tuesday. More than 1,500 hundred people have died in the outbreak, and Liu told a United Nations panel her overwhelmed Ebola centers have become units where people go to die alone with little more than palliative care.

Doctors Without Borders helps run one of the isolation units on the ELWA campus, which has at least 150 Ebola beds in total. But Johnson proudly reported that even as Sacra tested positive Monday, they discharged 12 people who had recovered. Sacra himself, in his last Facebook post before his illness, praised God for eight recoveries on Wednesday and Thursday.

That was some heartening news, Johnson said, to add to the first public celebration of Nancy Writebol's recovery. Writebol, 59, was privately discharged from Atlanta's Emory University Hospital on Aug. 19 and had not spoken to the media until Wednesday.

There were many days when she thought she would not survive, especially the day she was evacuated from Liberia, half-delirious and loaded onto the plane via a baggage conveyor belt, she told reporters. What she does remember, though, is her faith.

"The Lord came near and said, 'Am I enough?'" she recalled. "And my response was, 'Yes, Lord, you are enough.'"

Doctors originally thought she had malaria but tested her for Ebola anyway. When her husband came home to her bed and told her she and Brantly had Ebola, he stepped forward to embrace her. Although her heart sank, she said, she had to put her hands up and stop him.

But Wednesday as the couple addressed the media for half an hour, a beaming David Writebol told reporters that they are humbled God has "chosen us" to tell a story of God's grace in Ebola. "I am so very thankful that this beautiful woman is still with me," he said, drawing shy smiles from his wife.

"Really, this is not our story," Nancy Writebol said. "It is God's story. God is writing this."
The Writebols and Brantly expressed continued concern for the Ebola crisis, gratified their experiences could highlight the situation and encourage others to meet the growing shortage of aid and aid workers. Brantly issued a short statement Aug. 21 upon his release from Emory University Hospital. He and his wife spoke to NBC on Tuesday in their first interview about their experience.

Brantly said he is still weak, but recovering strength daily. There were times he thought he would die, shaking violently, nearly unable to breath, and knowing doctors in Liberia had no equipment to breath for him. Brantly, his wife Amber, and their two children are staying in Asheville, N.C., where he can recover in private. He said they are thinking about Sacra as he wages his own battle with the disease.

"I was notified about [Sacra] this morning," Brantly said Tuesday. "I spent a good long while tearful, in prayer."

Federal Judge: Louisiana Has a Right to Ban Gay Marriage

(WNS)--A federal judge in New Orleans became the first in the nation to uphold traditional marriage laws on Sept. 3, ruling Louisiana has a right to regulate marriage as it sees fit.

Louisiana bans same-sex marriage and does not recognize such unions formed in other states. U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman said the couples challenging the laws failed to prove they violated the U.S. Constitution's equal protection or due process provisions. The couples also argued the state's laws violate the First Amendment because they can't file joint tax returns, which would allow them to access federal tax deductions.

The state's attorneys argued that last year's U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act upheld state's rights when it comes to defining marriage.
Feldman agreed. As in all the other successful challenges to state marriage laws, the gay couples argued the DOMA ruling declared all same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional.

The ruling breaks a string of more than 20 decisions in favor of gay couples suing for the right to marry in all 50 states. Nineteen states already recognize same-sex marriage. Supporters of traditional marriage are focusing their arguments in legal challenges on the state's rights issue. Rulings in favor of gay marriage have overturned voter-approved laws upholding traditional marriage.

The Louisiana couples, represented by Forum on Equality, plan to appeal to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Traditional Marriage Laws Fall in Two More States

(WNS)--A three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously struck down traditional marriage provisions in Wisconsin and Indiana today. A constitutional amendment approved in 2006 by voters limited marriage in Wisconsin to heterosexual couples, while state law did the same in Indiana. Neither state recognized same-sex marriages performed in other states.

During oral arguments in August, Ronald Reagan appointee Judge Richard Posner said bans on same-sex marriage amounted to "hate" and "savage discrimination." Posner continued his extreme language in the court's opinion on the case, stating, "homosexuals are among the most stigmatized, misunderstood, and discriminated-against minorities in the history of the world."

The 7th Circuit is the third federal appeals court to reverse state laws on marriage.

The first federal appeals court ruling on same-sex marriage came in June, when a panel of judges from 10th Circuit ruled 2-1 against Utah's constitutional amendment defining marriage between a man and a woman. The same court issued a similar ruling against an Oklahoma constitutional amendment. The 4th Circuit followed suit last month when it overturned bans on same-sex marriage in Virginia.

Decisions in other circuits were put on hold pending review by the Supreme Court, but the 7th Circuit declined to issue a stay of its decision. That makes the immediate future of same-sex marriage in Indiana and Wisconsin unclear. "We're in a little bit of a holding pattern for a couple weeks," said Scott McDonnell, the Dane County Clerk in Madison, Wisc., who had married gay couples after that state's law was initially struck down by a federal judge.

Louisiana Abortionists Can Practice Without Hospital Support, For Now

By Courtney Crandell

(WNS)--A federal judge on Aug. 30 temporarily blocked enforcement of a Louisiana law that requires abortionists to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. Three of the state's five abortion facilities filed suit, represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR).

The law requires all Louisiana abortionists to obtain admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles of their respective facilities. Violators risk losing their licenses and a $4,000 fine. The restraining order allows abortionists to continue to practice while they seek admitting privileges. District Judge John deGravelles said he will hold a conference in 30 days to evaluate the progress toward obtaining admitting privileges and set a court date for his ruling on a preliminary injunction.

Benjamin Clapper, executive director of Louisiana Right to Life (LARTL), said he respected the fairness of deGravelles' decision. "Prompt implementation of HB 388 will allow Louisiana to raise the standard of care in Louisiana abortion facilities sooner rather than later," he said. "While any delay of the law is a setback to that goal, we believe Judge deGravelles' limited decision was a fair one."

But the extent of the restraining order is up for debate. Kyle Duncan, representing state Health and Hospitals Secretary Kathy Kliebert, said the ruling only applies to the three plaintiffs in the suit. As of Sept. 1, CRR spokeswoman Jennifer R. Miller said the organization is still analyzing the decision.

Pro-life advocates have recently passed admitting privilege laws in five states: Wisconsin, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, and Louisiana. Each of the laws ended up in court. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to lift a temporary injunction against Wisconsin's law. Both Mississippi's and Alabama's laws were struck down earlier this year. A federal appeals judge ruled in July that Mississippi's law unconstitutionally restricted the right to abortion by forcing women out of state. In August, a district judge struck down Alabama's admitting privileges law, which would have shut down three of the state's five abortion facilities.

But the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which also holds jurisdiction over Louisiana, upheld Texas' admitting privileges law in March. There, even though women would have to drive farther to access facilities, the judges ruled the law didn't place an "undue burden" on the right to an abortion. The court also ruled that abortionists with pending admitting privileges could continue to practice, setting a precedent for the suit against Louisiana's law.

State defendants initially proposed that abortionists with pending privileges be allowed to practice, part of a failed effort to reach a compromise last week, LARTL said in a statement. The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals agreed prior to Sunday's decision that it would abide by the 5th Circuit's ruling. But CCR sought a full temporary restraining order. When the two parties failed to reach an agreement, deGravelles issued his order. "Judge deGravelles, in a fair manner, simply applied the 5th Circuit's logic in his decision," Clapper said.

In the suit, CRR argued the law would effectively shut down all five facilities and failed to provide sufficient time for abortionists to obtain admitting privileges, Reuters reported. CRR also claims that rather than seeking to protect women, the law is a subversive means to block all abortion access in Louisiana. But in his ruling, deGravelles said CRR has yet to prove the breadth of the law's effect.

"Because the applications of the doctors have not been acted upon at this time, the Court believes any undue burden that might occur if they were denied is speculative," he wrote in his opinion. "While the doctors point to some preliminary indications that their applications may not be granted, the Court finds this evidence insufficient to carry their burden."


Homeschool Leader Disavows "Patriarchy"

(WNS)--Longtime homeschool attorney and advocate Michael P. Farris, who founded the Home School Legal Defense Association in 1983 and founded Patrick Henry College in 2000, issued a public statement Aug. 27 distancing himself from "patriarchy." Specifically, he criticized the teachings of two leaders formerly popular among homeschoolers, Doug Phillips and Bill Gothard, who both recently stepped down from ministries amid allegations of sexual misconduct. Phillips, an attorney himself, worked with Farris at HSLDA for six years. He went on to launch The Vision Forum Inc. and Vision Forum Ministries with his wife Beall. Last year, Phillips resigned as president of Vision Forum Ministries after admitting to an inappropriate relationship with a young woman. The ministry closed soon after.

Is Common Core Losing the Public Perception Test?

(WNS)--The education standards called Common Core have been adopted in more than 40 states, but according to a Phi Delta Kappa (PDK)/Gallup poll released in August, the majority of Americans oppose them. By the end of 2012, all but a handful of states had adopted Common Core. But the 2013 PDK/Gallup poll showed 62 percent of Americans had never heard of the standards already in place. Public awareness has grown since then, and so has public concern. Eighty-one percent of poll participants this year had "heard at least a little" about Common Core, and 60 percent said they don't want it in their classrooms.

California: All Health Insurance Must Cover Abortion

(WNS)--Health insurance companies in California may not refuse to cover the cost of abortions, state insurance officials have ruled. The decision is a reversal of policy stemming from the decision by two Catholic universities not to fund elective abortions through their employee health plans. Although the federal Affordable Care Act does not compel employers to provide workers with health insurance that includes abortion coverage, California's Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) Director Michelle Rouillard said in a letter to seven insurance companies on Friday that the state Constitution and a 1975 state law prohibits them from selling group plans that exclude the procedure. Rouillard said her department had "erroneously approved or did not object" to a small number of health insurance policies that excluded abortions.

Doctors Studying 17 U.S. Kids Born Using Three-Parent IVF Process

(WNS)--A New Jersey fertility clinic is investigating the health of 17 teenagers it helped to conceive more than 15 years ago using a controversial and rare IVF procedure involving three parents, according to the British journal The Independent. The IVF procedure, called cytoplasmic transfer, involves mixing genetic material from two women and one man. In 1996, the Institute for Reproductive Medicine and Science (IRMS) at Saint Barnabas Medical Centre in New Jersey started performing cytoplasmic transfer for women who were infertile because of genetic defects. In 1997, the process resulted in the world's first "three-parent" embryo. But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned the procedure in 2002. Until now, no follow-up research has been done on any of the approximately 30 infants worldwide conceived using the process.


Cuba Cracks Down on Christians

(WNS)--Cuba's communist government has increased its oppression of religious institutions, according to a Christian watchdog group, with reports of religious liberty violations almost doubling in the last six months. According to a new report from Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), there were 170 religious freedom violations from the start of 2014 through mid-July. In 2013, there were only 180 incidents documented. This year's violations included government authorities beating pastors and lay workers, dragging politically dissident women away from Sunday services, and enforcing arbitrary detentions, church closures, and demolitions, CSW said. Since 1959, the Cuban government has planted informants within churches and religious groups to report anything critical of the state or deemed "counter-revolutionary."

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