The American Center for Law and Justice, which has been working to secure the release of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, called Iran’s decision to imprison Pastor Youcef’s attorney, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, “very troubling,” a move that puts the Christian pastor in greater danger. According to Dadkhah, Iranian officials said he has been convicted of acting against national security, spreading propaganda against the regime, and is expected to be jailed soon. “The news that this renowned human rights attorney has been sentenced to prison by Iranian officials is very troubling,” said Jordan Sekulow, executive director of ACLJ. “This development only reinforces the fact that Iran has no regard for basic human rights. It also raises further concern about the fate of Pastor Youcef. With his attorney facing nine years in prison, and no other lawyer likely to take the case, Pastor Youcef has no legal advocate, which places him at greater risk.” This news comes as international pressure intensifies, calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Pastor Youcef, who faces a death sentence for embracing Christianity.
- Delegates to the United Methodist Church General Conference in Tampa had to deal with some demonstrations Thursday after defeating 60–40 percent two moves to change church policy on homosexuality. Pastor Stephen Sparks of Mississippi told OneNewsNow there was a “very visible protest” by the Love Your Neighbor Coalition after the votes. “They marched to the center . . . and proceeded to stand there and sing and chant and pretty much occupy the space,” he described. The chanting had not stopped after delegates took a 30-minute break, so they were told to take an hour-and-a-half lunch break, during which order was restored. “And after coming back from lunch they were still occupying the space, but there was prayer that was offered by a supposed member of that Coalition,” says the Mississippi pastor. “They all wore these rainbow stoles around their necks, and he offered a prayer and the bishops offered a prayer and they finally left the floor.” The failed resolutions would have only slightly modified present church stance on homosexuality, but according to Sparks could have led to unbiblical practices in more liberal parts of the country.
- With culture wars intensifying on university campuses across the nation, legal activists are doing more than defending—they are taking a proactive approach to defending First Amendment rights, reports charismanews.com. The Alliance Defense Fund on Thursday launched a new legal effort to change unconstitutional policies at more than 160 public universities and colleges by sending a first round of 40 letters to schools in 23 states. All of the schools have policies that violate the rights of students protected by the First Amendment. “Public universities should encourage, not censor, the free exchange of ideas,” says Kevin Theriot, senior counsel at ADF. “The objective of this effort is to inform university and college officials of how their policies conflict with the Constitution, as reinforced by numerous federal court rulings, so that the schools can make changes. This gives them the opportunity to respect the constitutionally protected rights of their students without any costly litigation.” ADF has identified problematic policies including various speech codes and zones that place unconstitutional restrictions on student speech, policies that force student clubs to accept voting members and officers that don’t agree with the clubs’ beliefs, and policies that allow non-religious student groups to use student activity fees but exclude religious student groups even though the students in those groups have contributed to the fees. ADF reports that the letters have already received some response. For example, Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina has agreed to modify a policy that unconstitutionally limits student expression to a small wooded area on campus.
- Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has circulated a draft of a resolution that would hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, reports thehill.com. The 44-page measure was sent to members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Thursday in an attempt to shore up support for what would be the toughest action taken by Issa as chairman of the powerful panel. Issa has been investigating the botched gun tracking operation Fast and Furious for more than a year and has repeatedly expressed his frustration at the Department of Justice’s lack of cooperation. Issa has issued two subpoenas to obtain documents from the DOJ, and is arguing that the agency’s glacial pace in returning the requested information provides cause for holding Holder in contempt of Congress. “The Justice Department’s failure to respond appropriately to the allegations of whistleblowers and to cooperate with congressional oversight has crossed the line of appropriate conduct for a government agency,” reads a 17-page memo attached to the draft copy of the resolution on contempt circulated to members. “Congress now faces a moment of decision between exerting its full authority to compel an agency refusing to cooperate with congressional oversight or accepting a dangerous expansion of executive-branch authority and unilateral action allowing agencies to set their own terms for cooperating with congressional oversight.”
- The fate of blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng was injected into the U.S. presidential election on Thursday after Republican challenger Mitt Romney described the incident as “a day of shame for the Obama administration,” reports cowboybyte.com. Romney joined a series of Republican lawmakers who piled criticism on the Obama administration after an agreement to allow Chen to remain in the country appeared to collapse.
- Doctors are warning parents about a dangerous new trend after six teenagers drank hand sanitizer and ended up in Southern California emergency rooms with alcohol poisoning, reports bighealthreport.com. Dr. Billy Mallon works in the emergency room at Los Angeles County USC Medical Center. He said he’s seen too many young people come through the hospital’s doors because they tried to get drunk by guzzling hand sanitizer. “It doesn’t sound appealing, but you have to remember that kids don’t have access to alcohol so they’re very creative,” Mallon told station KTLA. The trend may seem harmless or even laughable, but doctors say it’s harmful and dangerous. In other news, about one baby an hour is born addicted to powerful painkillers called opiates in the United States, a new study reported by bighealthreport.com shows. The number of infants born with a drug withdrawal syndrome called neonatal abstinence syndrome tripled between 2000 and 2009, jumping to more than 13,000, according to a study published online April 30 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. At the same time, use of prescription painkillers such as oxycodone (OxyContin) by mothers-to-be increased fivefold, the researchers noted. “This is becoming a big problem and affecting newborns at an alarmingly high and increasing rate,” said study author Dr. Stephen W. Patrick, a fellow in the University of Michigan’s division of neonatal-perinatal medicine in Ann Arbor.
- A feature in the May Citizen titled “A Matter of Life and Death” is focusing on Americans beginning “to understand exactly what it [the new federal health care law] may cost them in the long run.” The article continues, “Dr. Gene Rudd, obstetrician/gynecologist who serves as senior vice president of the Christian Medical and Dental Association, warned, ‘In the past, I’ve never been willing to say that we are going down the same road as Nazi Germany, but I am now, because the parallels are far too close.’ Dr. Leo Alexander, chief medical consultant at the Nuremburg trials, concluded that many of the deplorable events of Nazi Germany—including ethnic cleansing and medical experimentation—originated from a changed attitude in the health care community,’ Rudd explained. A culture that doesn’t respect the sanctity of human life and that begins to decide which lives aren’t as ‘valuable’ as others, he said, is heading down the wrong path.”
- Nazi collaborator and American artist Gertrude Stein was among Jewish Americans praised in a White House announcement Wednesday proclaiming Jewish Heritage Month, writes Tad Cronn in godfatherpolitics.com. The inclusion, noted by Algemeiner.com, in its original released form read, “Their history of unbroken perseverance and their belief in tomorrow’s promise offers a lesson not only to Jewish Americans, but to all Americans. From Aaron Copland to Albert Einstein, Gertrude Stein to Justice Louis Brandeis.” Stein was a supporter and collaborator with the Nazis’ Vichy regime in France. According to Barbara Will, author of Unlikely Collaboration: Gertrude Stein, Bernard Fay and the Vichy Dilemma, Stein survived the Vichy regime because she was a strong supporter of the Nazis, publicly proclaiming her support of Adolf Hitler and proposing him for a Nobel Peace Prize in the mid-1930s. She considered Gen. Phillipe Petain, the Nazi puppet who deported thousands of Jews, to be a French hero, and she volunteered to write an introduction to an English translation of his speeches so Americans could see the virtues of the Vichy government. A White House official said the proclamation was an early draft that was mistakenly released. That was replaced with a new version that does not mention Stein, but the original remained on the White House website for several hours. Cronn said it is “hard to fathom how even a ‘draft’ of a proclamation for Jewish Heritage Month includes a Nazi collaborator in the first place. It’s as if the White House press staff just opened up a book of famous Jewish names at random and said let’s take this one, without even reading the most basic biographical information about the person.”
- Writer Da Tagliare has expressed concern over Gov. Chris Christie’s being eyed as a vice presidential candidate. Writing in godfatherpolitics.com, Tagliare cited possible reasons for his popularity as being “his strong budget cuts in New Jersey and his strong stand against the unions representing government employees.” But Christie, Tagliare says, “has a track record of siding with or embracing Muslims.” “New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has hugged, embraced and spoke out for a Muslim that was deported because of his radical views. He supported the firing of a man who was exercising his First Amendment right of free speech. He appointed a Muslim who believes in sharia law to a state superior court and then ridiculed the head of the largest city police department in America for keeping surveillance on Muslims after the 9-11 attack that destroyed the Twin Towers in his city. . . . If I were Mitt Romney, I would definitely think twice or even three times before selecting Chris Christie as his vice presidential running mate.”
- There’s outrage in Norfolk, Va., after a white couple was attacked by dozens of black teenagers, and the local newspaper did not report the incident for two weeks, despite the victims being reporters for the paper, reports WorldNetDaily. When the Virginian-Pilot then covered the crime, it did so not as a news report, but rather as an opinion piece. “The couple had been stopped at a traffic light, and “wave after wave of young men surged forward to take turns punching and kicking their victim,” the article says. The newspaper is coming under heavy criticism from residents in the greater Norfolk area, known as Hampton Roads. “It is unbelievable that the Virginian-Pilot would BURY this story for two weeks for politically correct reasons. That is sad and disgusting,” said David Englert of Norfolk. “Any attack by a mob of people on any innocent victim should be put under a bright spotlight for all involved to be judged and exposed as appropriate, and to make sure that the criminal justice system does its job to protect those who obey the law.”