In a huge victory for pro-life advocates taking on the controversial HHS mandate, the Obama administration is giving up its effort to force a Bible publisher to obey it, reports. The mandate has generated massive opposition from pro-life groups because it forces employers, regardless of their religious or moral convictions, to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception under threat of heavy penalties. The Obama administration opposed an order a judge gave temporarily stopping enforcement, arguing that Illinois-based Tyndale House Publishers, the world’s largest privately held Christian publisher of books, Bibles, and digital media and directs 96.5 percent of its profits to religious nonprofit causes worldwide, isn’t religious enough for an exemption from the mandate, a component of ObamaCare that forces employers, regardless of their religious or moral convictions, to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception under threat of heavy penalties. Now, at the Obama administration’s request, a federal appellate court Friday dismissed the Obama administration’s appeal of an order that stopped President Barack Obama from enforcing his abortion pill mandate against a Bible publisher. The administration’s retreat marks the first total appellate victory on a preliminary injunction in any abortion pill mandate case. Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing Tyndale House Publishers say the administration is apparently nervous about trying to defend its position that a Bible publisher is not religious enough for a religious exemption to the mandate. “Bible publishers should be free to do business according to the book that they publish,” said Senior Legal Counsel Matt Bowman. “The government dismissed its appeal because it knows how ridiculous it sounds arguing that a Bible publisher isn’t religious enough to qualify as a religious employer. For the government to say that a Bible publisher isn’t religious is outrageous, and now the Obama administration has had to retreat in court.” “We will continue to argue that the administration cannot disregard the Constitution’s protection of religious freedom for all family business owners and must offer a comprehensive exemption to the mandate,” Bowman added. Friday’s order from U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit means the preliminary injunction issued by a district court in November of last year will stand while the case, Tyndale House Publishers v. Sebelius, moves forward. Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys and allied attorneys are also litigating nine other lawsuits against the mandate. The lawsuits represent a large cross-section of Protestants and Catholics who object to the mandate. More than 100 lawsuits have been filed in total. The court’s order was the third nationwide against the mandate and the second obtained by Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys.

Other news:

  • Reports in Syrian and international media indicate that early Sunday, the Israeli Air Force struck a military research facility on the outskirts of the Syrian capital of Damascus, shaking the city, reports. The airstrike was the second in three days, after the IAF reportedly attacked a weapons convoy inside Syria carrying Iranian-made long-range missiles to Hezbollah in Lebanon on Friday. Israel has yet to confirm the airstrikes officially. However, former Israel Defense Forces intelligence chief Amoz Yadlin said the attacks sent a clear message to Iran that “at least some of the actors take red lines seriously,” according to the Times of Israel. The comment referred to the “red line” set by U.S. President Barack Obama last year, which warned of consequences if Syria used chemical weapons in its civil war. Faced with evidence of such weapons, the president has dithered. Despite his own indecision about U.S. responses to Syria, President Obama has appeared to give a green light to Israeli airstrikes against Syria, saying in an interview Saturday that the Israelis “have to guard against the transfer of advanced weaponry to terrorist organizations like Hezbollah.” It is possible that U.S. intelligence assisted Israel, as it has done in the past, given that initial confirmation of the attacks came from U.S. officials. Reports indicated that Sunday’s targets likely included the same Iranian-made missiles targeted in Friday’s airstrike, which could reach all of Israel’s major population centers from southern Lebanon—an Israeli “red line.” Iran condemned the apparent Israeli airstrike on Syria but did not indicate whether or how it would respond, according to the Associated Press. Iran has been assisting the Syrian regime directly in its fight with rebel groups.
  • “Like rats abandoning a sinking ship, Senate Democrats are furiously fleeing the coming disaster that is ‘Obamacare,'” reports. The exodus started quietly at first. Sen. Max Baucus said last month he fears the president’s signature health care reform law is quickly turning into a “train wreck.” “How bad is it?” asked the report. “The Montana Democrat, head of the Senate Finance Committee and an author of the law, has decided not to seek re-election. Why? Because Obamacare isn’t yet up and running. The true effects won’t be felt until 2014 and beyond. So Baucus will disappear into the night a hero, long before the nightmare comes. And just in the nick of time. When Obamacare passed the Senate on Christmas Eve 2009, Americans braced for the worst. Phew, they said as 2010, and 2011, and last year passed, and thought it’s not so bad. But few know the law’s most crushing regulations haven’t even taken effect—in fact, a recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 42 percent of Americans don’t even know it’s the law of the land. Twelve percent ‘believe the law has been repealed by Congress,’ the poll found, while 7 percent think it was been overturned by the Supreme Court. A whopping 23 percent said ‘they don’t know enough to say what the status of the law is.’ Just 35 percent held a favorable view of the law. Other Senate Democrats have gone overboard in recent weeks.”
  • Democrats on Sunday morning’s news shows appeared to back away from President Barack Obama on his administration’s response to the Benghazi terror attack and his blurry “red line” on Syria’s chemical weapons, reports. On Fox News Sunday, Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) admitted that the Obama administration’s talking points on Benghazi, edited to remove references to extremism and blaming protests against an anti-Islamic YouTube video for the violence, were “false. They were wrong. There were no protests outside the Benghazi compound.” Republicans remain divided on the Syria issue, but on Benghazi the caucus anticipates a week of testimony that will prove deeply damaging to the Obama administration, as well as the media’s attempts to protect him.
  • Doctors are warning of a new sexually transmitted superbug that they say could ultimately prove more deadly than AIDS, Fox News reports. The antibiotic-resistant strain of gonorrhea HO41 was reportedly discovered in Japan two years ago in a 31-year-old female sex worker. “This might be a lot worse than AIDS in the short run because the bacteria is more aggressive and will affect more people quickly,” Alan Christianson, a doctor of naturopathic medicine, recently told CNBC. “Getting gonorrhea from this strain might put someone into septic shock and death in a matter of days. This is very dangerous.” Reportedly added William Smith, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors: “It’s an emergency situation. As time moves on, it’s getting more hazardous.” According to CNBC, Smith urged Congressional lawmakers as late as last week to allocate additional funding—$54 million—to develop an antibiotic capable of fighting HO41, as well as to conduct a public awareness campaign. “I’m hopeful we’ll get the additional funds, but I can’t say for sure,” Smith reportedly said. “What I do know is we don’t have the resources to fight this as it stands now.” “People need to practice safe sex, like always,” Christianson told CNBC. “Anyone beginning a new relationship should get tested along with their partner. The way gonorrhea works, not everyone knows they have it. And with this new strain it’s even more important than ever to find out. “
  • A group of teachers is suing to stop the California teachers’ union from collecting mandatory agency fees from nonmembers and spending the money on political activity. The 10 teachers named in the lawsuit are not members of union. But they still pay agency fees to the California Teachers Association, which they claim uses the money to lobby for political causes, allegedly violating the teachers’ First Amendment rights. “The state is compelling the payment of dues to support beliefs with which our clients disagree,” said Terry Pell, president of the Center for Individual Rights, a conservative legal group representing the teachers, in an interview with The Daily Caller News Foundation. Meanwhile, The California Condom Access Project, run by the California Health Council, which is making condoms available for kids as young as 12 in an online, taxpayer-funded condom delivery service, has expanded their service to more counties, reports. Parents do not need to know. As many as 10 free condoms can be delivered in confidential packaging, along with lubricant and educational materials. And in California, teens don’t need parental consent to buy contraceptives.
  • A Texas high school track team was disqualified from competing in the state championships because one of the runners made a gesture thanking God after he crossed the finish line, Fox News reports. Derrick Hayes, the anchor of the Columbus High School 4×100 relay team, had just crossed the finish line when he raised his finger to the sky—thanking the Lord for winning the race that would send them to the state finals. But a judge with the University Interscholastic League, the governing body for high school athletics in Texas, ruled that the gesture was a violation of the taunting rule—and the Cardinals were stripped of their victory. “I think it’s a travesty,” said K.C. Hayes, Derrick’s dad. “It’s a sad deal. Those kids worked hard.” Robert O’Connor, the superintendent of the school district filed an appeal, but so far the UIL is standing by its rule.
  • Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, noting that Vice President Joe Biden reportedly plans to revive a legislative push for gun control, challenged him to a debate about policy responses to gun violence, reports. “I would like to invite the vice president to engage in an hour-long conversation and debate, ‘How do we stop crime’,” Cruz said at the National Rifle Association Leadership Forum today. “If Vice President Biden really believes that the facts are on his side . . . then I would think he would welcome the opportunity to talk about the sources, the causes of violent crime, who is carrying it out, and how we can do everything humanly possible to stop it.” Cruz indicated that he doesn’t regard Biden as a formidable opponent, noting that Biden’s home defense advice—firing a shotgun twice into the air—“is very useful, if it so happens that you’re being attacked by a flock of geese.”