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Christopher Wylie, the whistleblower behind the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica data scandal, appeared in front of U.K. lawmakers on Tuesday. YouTube
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If you have a smartphone, Facebook may be listening to you through its app

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By Lisa Bourne

LONDON, England, March 28, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) -- Facebook is able to monitor users in their homes and workplaces, a whistleblower in an ongoing data scandal told UK lawmakers Tuesday.

Facebook can use and process audio collected from users through its smartphone app to determine their whereabouts and better target them in advertisements, Christopher Wylie said in response to a question from MP Damian Collins.

Wylie, who exposed data analytics company Cambridge Analytica’s involvement in obtaining data from Facebook users, spoke before the House of Commons Digital, Culture and Sport Committee. The British parliament is investigating Cambridge Analytica's connection to the Brexit referendum.

Wylie said Facebook and other apps “pull audio” for “environmental context” to “improve the contextual value” of the ad targeting the user.

Facebook is in hot water following revelations that its leadership permitted Barack Obama’s campaign to mine users’ personal profile information because the social media giant wanted Obama to win re-election.

That part of the controversy began with reports that information mined by Cambridge Analytica was later used by the Trump campaign. But it then came to light that the Obama campaign essentially had unrestricted real-time access to users’ personal information with a green light from Facebook. The data utilized by the Trump campaign was left over from when Cambridge Analytica collected it in 2007.

Carol Davidsen, former Obama for America media director, was up front on Twitter last week, saying Facebook officials “were very candid that they allowed us to do things they wouldn’t have allowed someone else to do because they were on our side.”

CEO Mark Zuckerberg, attempting to do damage control last week during the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal fallout, also acknowledged that Facebook profits to the tune of billions by targeting users for advertising based upon the profile information they provide to the social media site.

Wylie emerged as a primary figure in the Cambridge Analytica scandal last week after telling The New York Times and The Observer newspaper in the U.K. that the political consulting data company used personal information of as many as 50 million Facebook users without their knowledge via a third-party quiz app.

MP Collins asked Wylie his thoughts in Tuesday’s UK Parliament hearing on the prospect of Facebook having the ability to monitor users with audio through its app.

"There's been various speculation about the fact that Facebook can, through the Facebook app on your smartphone, listen in to what people are talking about and discussing and using that to prioritize the advertising as well," Collins said. "Other people would say, no, they don't think it's possible. It's just that the Facebook system is just so good at predicting what you're interested in that it can guess."

"On a comment about using audio and processing audio, you can use it for, my understanding generally of how companies use it ... not just Facebook, but generally other apps that pull audio, is for environmental context," Wylie said. "So if, for example, you have a television playing versus if you're in a busy place with a lot of people talking versus a work environment."

"It's not to say they're listening to what you're saying. It's not natural language processing,” Wylie pointed out. “That would be hard to scale. But to understand the environmental context of where you are to improve the contextual value of the ad itself (is possible).”

"There's audio that could be useful just in terms of are you in an office environment, are you outside, are you watching TV?"

Facebook denies the allegation that its app listens to users for the purpose of customizing ads.

Still, users voiced concerns about being monitored after noticing they've been targeted with ads for products they never expressed an interest in online, according to PJ Media, with many Facebook users reporting examples and alleged proof that the app is listening to their conversations.

Facebook has been found as well to suppress conservative views on its platform.

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Teacher who created furor with transgender lesson to 5-year-olds wins top award

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By Lianne Laurence

ROCKLIN, California, March 28, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — A California charter school association gave its highest award to the kindergarten teacher whose transgender lesson last summer without warning parents left some of the 5-year-olds traumatized.

The decision of the California Charter Schools Association to name Kaelin Swaney its Teacher of the Year makes it “clear the CCSA does not stand with parents,” says Karen England, executive director of Capitol Resource Institute, a pro-family public policy group.

“The CCSA should be ashamed of themselves,” England said in a March 27 press release.

A teacher at Rocklin Academy Gateway, an elite charter school in the Sacramento suburbs, Swaney touched off a bitter controversy when she read the book “I am Jazz” to her students before explaining their classmate, a boy, was now a “girl” and would be called by a girl’s name, England recounted.

“I am Jazz” is explicitly pro-transgender and begins: “From the time she was two years old, Jazz knew that she had a girl’s brain in a boy’s body.”

Parents were not told in advance about the lesson, which took place just before the school’s summer recess in June 2017, nor that the kindergarten student was “transitioning.”

But a number of parents became outraged when their children came home upset. According to England, some of the kids were “crying, afraid they were turning into the opposite sex,” and one boy was “afraid to touch his sister’s toys in fear of becoming a girl.”

The Rocklin Academy board defended Swaney, countering that the California law requiring schools give parents notice and a chance to opt out for sex education did not apply because gender identity is not sex education. It also alleged that it was open to legal action for discrimination if it did not affirm the boy’s gender “transition.”

As a result of the dispute, some 90 children have been pulled from the school, according to a California Family Council (CFC) report.

“Charter schools are supposed to present a more parent-involved type of education,” England observed. But the Rocklin Academy board has been “shown to exclude parents, specifically those with alternative views, every step of the way.”

And it’s “baffling” the CCSA chose to honor the teacher at the center of “unheard of controversy in the family-friendly town of Rocklin,” with an award that signifies outstanding achievement, she noted.

“I do not consider traumatizing kindergartners an ‘outstanding achievement,’” England said. “Teachers should be outraged as this is an offense to all of the teachers who work so hard to respect the values of all students and parents.”

That was echoed by a parent who asked her name not be published because the community remains rent by “ugly” and bitter divisions over the incident.

“Many parents whose lives were turned upside down by this event — forced to decide whether to stay or leave the school, wondering if their rights would be respected, are very upset by this award and the school’s portrayal of this as embodying ‘integrity,’” she told LifeSiteNews in an email.

Another mother broke down in tears at a mid-February meeting of the Newcastle Elementary School Board, which oversees Rocklin Academy Gateway, when testifying how the incident left her daughter “very confused.”

She thought the Rocklin Academy board “would take my religious beliefs” into consideration, the mother said. “Instead, they swept us aside like we were trash.”

Nor did she ever get a straight answer about what happened.

“We asked the teacher what happened and she told us one story,” she said. “We had a meeting with the principal, they told us a different story, and we asked the parent of the child that had this transition and she told us a different story. So it just ... it was a mess.”

RELATED

Mom breaks down describing effects of kindergarten transgender lesson on her 5-year-old
More than 40 families pull children from school that forced transgender lesson on 5-year-olds
School gives transgender lesson to 5-year-olds, refuses to give details to parents

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WE Charity bails from Catholic schools’ list of approved charities that don’t support abortion

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By Calvin Freiburger

OAKVILLE, Ontario, March 28, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The international WE Charity has voluntarily removed itself from an Ontario Catholic school board’s list of charities that commit to never funding abortion, contraception, and other anti-life causes.

In January, the Halton Catholic District School Board approved a “sanctity of life” motion forbidding the 33 schools in its jurisdiction from donating to any charity or non-profit that “directly or indirectly” supported “abortion, contraception, sterilization, embryonic stem cell research or euthanasia,” which conflict with Catholic doctrine.

Despite media and student protests, the board has stood behind the ban.

The new requirements led to 70 organizations’ removal from the list of charities supported by district schools. However, a number of charities with ties to pro-abortion causes remained, including WE Charity.

WE Charity has now voluntarily withdrawn itself from the list. 

In a statement released on the group’s website, WE Charity reiterates its prior claim to be “not involved in any” of the controversial causes, but states that “gathering further information and context” has led the organization to withdraw anyway.

“WE Charity seeks to turn ‘students into leaders,’ and on this important issue, feels a strong solidarity with student leaders,” the statement continues, citing a petition against the policy. “We believe that self-directed service-learning is an important part of the educational journey of students.”

"The We Charity is secular, apolitical, and does not have a mandate for political advocacy," it added. 

However, the organization’s critics are interpreting the statement as an admission its previous assurance was inaccurate.

“We're delighted that the WE organization has taken itself off the list of charities that can receive donations from the Halton Catholic District School Board,” Campaign Life Coalition said in a statement on the group’s Facebook page. “WE's leadership has apparently deemed that it cannot commit to never publicly contradicting Catholic doctrine on the Sanctity of Life.”

Catholic Intelligence Blog saw the voluntary removal as an indirect admission that We Charity does, in fact, "support abortion and contraception."

"While they say they don’t politically advocate for them, they now say that they cannot sign a statement saying they don’t publicly support abortion and contraception. This is hardly surprising given their support for UN SDG3 and their work with the Globe and Mail and Torstar on teaching materials supporting 'repro rights,'" the blogger stated.

Despite WE Charity’s insistence that it has no involvement in pro-abortion or pro-contraception causes, LifeSiteNews has documented instances of the organization promoting both through its former name Free the Children. It released “maternal health” and “child health” fact sheets for the 2010 G8 and G20 summits that called for funding abortion and contraception in the name of “family planning.” The group subsequently pulled the documents and told LifeSiteNews they had been published erroneously.

In March 2014, LifeSiteNews obtained a letter from Free the Children co-founder Marc Kielburger to the Ottawa Catholic School board admitting that one of its clinics in Kenya does “provide contraceptives to patients should they personally request them.” Kielburger claimed Kenyan law forced them to do so, but the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Health Commission said it was “not true” that Catholic facilities were “forced to stock or distribute Family planning commodities.”

Kielburger has also voiced personal support for funding the world’s largest abortion provider at taxpayers’ expense.

“As women in developing countries fight for reproductive rights, our now Conservative majority government is poised to cut funding to International Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides reproductive health services abroad,” he and his brother Craig wrote in a 2011 column. “It’s a paternalistic refusal to offer women in Africa the same rights offered to women in Canada.”

Kielburger later insisted that he assumed readers would take “reproductive rights” to mean only maternal health services, despite the fact that the International Planned Parenthood Federation had performed more than half a million abortions the year before (a number that has since doubled).

That explanation was “disingenuous,” Teresa Pierre of the Ontario Catholic Parents’ Association said at the time, because “you would not normally interpret [the phrase ‘reproductive rights’] as exclusively meaning a right to maternal health care.”

Last week, the Halton Catholic trustees voted to send the policy to the districts stakeholders, parents, and staff for review. Community feedback will be discussed at a future board meeting.

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Canada’s ‘feminist-in-chief’ Trudeau losing women voters

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By Lianne Laurence

OTTAWA, March 28, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — In an irony of ironies, the latest Ipsos poll shows women voters rejecting the man whom the Toronto Sun has dubbed Canada’s “feminist-in-chief.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has long proclaimed his feminism, the defining characteristic of which is his abortion absolutism.

But the evidence suggests he has overplayed his hand.

Of 1,003 Canadians Ipsos surveyed for Global News, 35 percent of women said they would vote Conservative, compared to 30 percent for the Liberals and 26 percent for the NDP.

“There’s a delicate balance between looking like a man who is just comfortable with the times and becoming someone who is pandering and condescending,” noted a Toronto Sun editorial Monday.

Aside from Trudeau’s now infamous “mansplaining” to a woman that she should say “peoplekind,” women have “soured” on the youthful prime minister because of the latest Liberal budget, in the Sun’s view.

Although heralded by the Liberals as a “feminist document” that refers to “gender” 358 times, the budget comes across as patronizing, mystifying, and ineffectual for a squeezed middle class, “which includes a lot of women,” it noted.

Women voters “care about jobs, taxes and terrorism. They worry about the future. Simply throwing in hundreds of references to gender isn’t just meaningless, it’s condescending,” the editorial added.

Tell Justin Trudeau to stop banning funding to pro-life groups. Sign the petition here!

Jack Fonseca, senior political strategist of Campaign Life Coalition, Canada’s national pro-life, pro-family political lobbying group, echoes this.

He points to Trudeau’s “disastrous India trip” and “numerous tongue-tied interviews” as dimming the prime minister’s appeal to women, who “don’t like stupidity and fakeness any more than men do.”

Fonseca also pointed to the Liberals’ edict to federal frontline workers to use “gender-neutral language” as contributing to women ditching Trudeau in favor of the Conservatives.

“Neither do women appreciate [having] the words ‘mother’ or ‘Mrs.’ stolen from them by Trudeau’s radical gender-neutral agenda, under the auspices of his fake-feminist leadership,” he said.

The Liberals directed Service Canada workers to, among other things, substitute “parent number 1” and “parent 2,” for “mother” and “father,” in an apparent attempt to officially repress the fact that there are two sexes, and families with a father and a mother.

“A lot of Canadian women proudly self-identify as a ‘mother’ and don’t like Trudeau’s never-ending political-correctness machine trying to steal that identity from them,” Fonseca told LifeSiteNews.

The Liberals have come under fire for the Canada Summer Jobs abortion attestation, which Trudeau refuses to drop despite huge backlash from faith groups and excoriation in the media.  

“Finally, women are seeing just how radical Justin is, and they don’t like it,” Fonseca said.

The Ipsos poll found that 60 percent of respondents wanted the Liberal government replaced by a new party, and that if an election were held now, the Conservatives would get 38 percent of the “national popular decided vote,” the Liberals 31 percent, and the NDP 23 percent, Global News reported.

Related:

Canadian gov’t agency bans ‘mother’ and ‘father’ to be more gender inclusive

How much longer can the Trudeau disaster last?

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Kansas Senate moves to ban tax funding of aborted tissue, embryo-destructive research

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By Calvin Freiburger

TOPEKA, Kansas, March 27, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Kansas may soon ban taxpayer dollars from being spent on research using aborted fetal tissue, according to language successfully added to the latest budget bill.

The Lawrence Journal-World reported that on Tuesday night state senators gave first-round approval to SB 269, which makes modifications to the budget for fiscal years 2018 and 2019. Final approval of the budget is expected in May, after the release of updated revenue estimates in mid-April. The bill passed 20-15, with five senators absent.

Before the vote, Republican Sen. Steve Fitzgerald successfully added language barring state agencies from using public funds on research using fetal tissue obtained from abortions, as well as on research that involves the destruction of human embryos. It would not apply to fetal tissue obtained from miscarriages.

The Topeka Capital-Journal added that Tuesday evening saw some heated floor debate (which can be viewed here) over the amendment.

Sen. Barbara Bollier, a Republican who went on to vote against the bill, asked whether existing law already had such a ban. Fitzgerald referred the question to Republican Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook, who explained that Kansas currently allows both fetal-tissue research and embryo-destructive research, though there is a $25 limit on compensation for the use of fetal tissue. “Which is really too bad,” she added, “because we need to be a state that protects human life at its most vulnerable.”

Neither specified whether such research was currently taking place in Kansas. But after Planned Parenthood’s sale of body parts from aborted babies was revealed in 2015, the Associated Press reported that the state health department had not received any reports on the transfer of fetal tissue from state abortion facilities in 15 years. “I don’t know how you would find out if you’re the state unless you had surprise and frequent inspections and you were looking specifically for it,” Kansas for Life executive director Mary Kay Culp said at the time.

Bollier said she wasn’t “comfortable” with the amendment’s justification of protecting life because abortion was legal.

Fitzgerald responded by calling experimentation of human beings “abhorrent” and “discredited,” drawing parallels to Nazi scientist Josef Mengele. “Are we opposed to medical research? No,” he clarified. “Are we opposed to killing humans in order to further that research? Exactly.”   

Bollier declared that she took “great offense” at the comparison. “The difference is, that was illegal, those were human beings,” whereas the current amendment concerned “tissue.” While granting there was disagreement over when life begins, she declared that ultimately, according to Kansas law, “there is no definition of human life beginning at conception.” But in 2013 Kansas enacted legislation declaring that life begins at fertilization, a finding confirmed by settled biological criteria.

Ultimately, Bollier said she opposed the amendment because it prevented mothers forced to abort for medical complications from choosing what to do with the remains of wanted babies.

“It’s interesting that it’s just tissue when we don’t want it, but it’s a baby when we do, all in the same sentence,” Fitzgerald replied. He also doubled down on the Holocaust comparison, equating Nazis’ use of euphemisms such as “untermensch” (less than human) with pro-abortion rhetoric claiming fetuses are “not really human.”

Soon after the vote, Planned Parenthood’s Great Plains Kansas advocacy arm took to Twitter to blast Fitzgerald for “inflammatory language” and claim the amendment “adds to the shame and stigmatization of safe, legal abortion.”

“I find it amazing that we still have so many legislators that don't understand the sanctity of human life,” the senator responded in a press release. “The shame is on the nation’s largest abortion provider and its minions. Abortion is NEVER safe for the child!”

Final Senate approval of the budget bill is expected next Wednesday. Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer is pro-life and likely to support the amendment.

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Louisiana’s Democrat governor says he’ll sign 15-week abortion ban

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BATON ROUGE, March 27, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The Democratic governor of Louisiana says he would sign into law a bill banning abortions on babies older than 15 weeks.

Current Louisiana law bans abortions at 20 weeks, as do 16 other states. If signed, SB 181 will make Louisiana the second state to ban abortions at 15 weeks, after Mississippi. Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed his state’s 15-week abortion ban last Monday, though a federal judge temporarily blocked in the next day.

The Gambit reports that the Louisiana Senate Judiciary Committee is slated to consider two pieces of pro-life legislation “soon.” SB 325 gives prosecutors greater ability to permanently shut down abortion facilities that break record-keeping laws and commit other violations, while SB 181 bans abortion at 15 weeks.

Neither the proposed legislation in Louisiana nor the new law in Mississippi allows exceptions for babies conceived in rape.

Gov. John Bel Edwards, a pro-life Democrat, said last week that it “remains to be seen whether [the 15 week ban] will make its way through the process,” but “I would be inclined to sign it if it hits my desk.”

“The abortionists are relentless in their assault against the unborn,” State Sen. John Milkovich, the bill’s lead sponsor and another pro-life Democrat, declared. “We intend to fight three times harder and end the scourge of abortion in Louisiana. It is my hope this legislation will assist in this fight.”

In response, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast has vowed to mobilize opposition to the bill.

“The idea that Gov. Edwards would say he was inclined to sign it is shocking,” Rochelle Tafolla, the affiliate’s vice president of communications and marketing, said.

Some medical literature suggests preborn babies may be capable of feeling pain as early as 14 weeks, a factor some legal experts believe will be key to getting the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold abortion bans earlier than viability.

As for SB 325, it would make records tampering, committing illegal abortions on minors, and killing fully-delivered babies grounds for district attorneys, the attorney general, and the governor to push for an abortion facility to be permanently closed.

“I am very much a pro-life individual,” said Edwards.

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‘Real change’: Walmart to remove Cosmopolitan magazines from checkout lines

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By LSN

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 28, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – After collaborative dialogue with the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE), Walmart will remove Cosmopolitan magazine from checkout lines at 5,000 stores across the country. 

Protecting minors from the sexually explicit material that Cosmopolitan embodies and perpetuates has been a long-time priority of NCOSE.

“This is what real change looks like in our #MeToo culture, and NCOSE is proud to work with a major corporation like Walmart to combat sexually exploitative influences in our society. Women, men, and children are bombarded daily with sexually objectifying and explicit materials, not only online, but in the checkout line at the store,” said NCOSE executive director Dawn Hawkins.

READ: Dear Cosmopolitan: Your evil sexual advice is literally destroying countless women

“Cosmo sends the same messages about female sexuality as Playboy,” she explained. “It places women’s value primarily on their ability to sexually satisfy a man and therefore plays into the same culture where men view and treat women as inanimate sex objects. Further, Cosmo targets young girls by placing former Disney stars on its covers, despite the enclosed sexually erotic articles which describe risky sexual acts like public, intoxicated, or anal sex in detail. Customers should not be forced to be exposed to this content when they are trying to check-out at the store.”

Marsh Supermarkets, a chain of produce markets and convenience stores with 72 locations in Indiana and Ohio, announced in 2016 its commitment to keep the raunchy magazine out of direct sight of its customers.

“We are grateful for Walmart’s cooperation and for Walmart leadership’s recognition that corporations must do their part to change #MeToo culture,” said Hawkins. “Walmart’s decision makes it a leader and trailblazer in corporate responsibility. It is a big ship to turn, and ensuring Walmart’s new policy is enforced across the country will require continued vigilance. We applaud Walmart and also call on our supporters and those in our coalition to monitor Walmart’s progress as it works to implement this pivotal policy change.”

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European Court leaves Alfie Evans to die, rejects case as ‘inadmissible’

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STRASBOURG, France, March 28, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A European court panel has rejected the final appeal in the fight to save the life of baby Alfie Evans.

A three-judge panel of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), located in Strasbourg, France, ruled today that Tom Evans and Kate James’ appeal to take their 22-month-old son abroad for medical care was “inadmissible,” and that the child’s rights under the European Convention on Human Rights were not being violated, the BBC reported.

The panel also rejected the parents' request to block a High Court ruling allowing doctors to remove Alfie’s life support. Alder Hey Children's Hospital, where the baby is located in England, says the child has a “catastrophic and untreatable neurodegenerative condition” that would be “futile” to continue treating. Alfie’s parents have been fighting for the right to take him to Bambino Gesu Paediatric Hospital in Rome for further care.

Bambino Gesu Paediatric, a Vatican-linked facility, had offered to provide Alfie with full palliative care, including ventilation. As of the time of this writing, a crowdfunding campaign to finance the trip had reached 85% of its £100,000 goal.

The baby's father Thomas Evans said his son has been "failed disgracefully by the system."

"Does our son look in any of these pictures like he is dying," he asked in a Facebook post along with photos of his son published hours ago. 

"None of these are seizure or reflexes, he is clearly there alive."

"We as parents are not giving up...our son is about to be murdered, taken away from us, his innocent life is about to be taken," he wrote. 

Evans begged that Queen Elizabeth II, Pope Francis, or German Chancellor Merkel intervene to save Baby Alfie. 

"Please our Queen, Pope Francis, please Angela Merkel, someone save our innocent not dying son."

"We are in bits distraught in pain. He looks into our eyes every day. He responds to us every day. Alfie James Evans, we love you so so so much. We will do everything we can," he said. 

This latest ruling follows the Liverpool couple unsuccessfully taking their case through the entire UK court system, with the UK Supreme Court rejecting their previous appeal on March 20.

As LifeSiteNews has previously covered, video taken by Alfie’s parents shows the child “very much alive,” reacting to stimuli such as lights and his father's voice, as well as showing a variety of activity including yawning and stretching.

Yesterday, Member of European Parliament Steven Woolfe sent a letter to NHS England head Simon Stevens on Alfie’s behalf, calling on the agency to authorize “secondary clinic options” in this and similar cases.

Woolfe said that without a conclusive diagnosis, Alfie’s case called for the “highest quality clinical opinion to guide treatment.”

“In desperation, Alfie's parents have obtained an offer of assessment and treatment in Italy and has been assessed independently as being fit to travel there. The trust has refused transfer and has instead sought recourse to the courts to end the life of their son,” he said.

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British politician: I try to pray the rosary every day

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By Claire Chretien

ENGLAND, March 28, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The British Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, who famously named his sixth child Sixtus Dominic Boniface Christopher, said he prays “in a very traditional Catholic way” and prefers the ancient Traditional Latin Mass because of its focus on the Eucharist.

Rees-Mogg made these comments in a nearly 30-minute interview for the “Moggcast,” explaining to non-Catholic listeners what the rosary is and saying he tries to pray it every day. Under the reign of Elizabeth I, he said later, it would have been “viewed as practically treason” for him to carry rosary beads.

“If the ultimate joy is heaven and this [life] is merely a means of getting to heaven, then a loving God is not condemning in the way that it’s sometimes seen,” said Rees-Mogg. The horrors of human history can be explained by free will, he said, but natural disasters are “the harder bit to explain.”

Rees-Mogg clarified that he was married in a Latin Novus Ordo – the Mass of Vatican II – not the Old Rite of the Mass.

But “I like the Old Rite,” he said, and “I do go to the Tridentine Rite when it is available near me in Somerset.”

“There’s more silence” in the Old Rite, “and the new order [Mass] can sometimes have quite a lot of background noise,” he noted. “Silence is a good thing in church.”

People concerned about Rees-Mogg’s pro-life stance are really concerned about whether it will become party policy, he said: “The issue is whether you would try and make it party policy, not whether you would vote one way or another as a matter of conscience.”

It’s a “matter for people’s consciences” but “as an individual MP, I would vote in favor of life,” he said.

Even though it “would be easier to say nothing” when asked about his faith, Rees-Mogg said, “When you are asked a question, you cannot wait for a cock to crow,” referencing Peter denying Christ.

The MP said the limitations of papal infallibility are part of what allows him to accept it.

“I accept the doctrine of papal infallibility partly because of its limitations,” he said. “You must always take what the pope says seriously, but it is not the official dogma of the Church except in those very narrowly defined circumstances.”

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Polish pro-lifers counter-protest pro-abortion ‘black friday’ rally with online ‘white march’

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By Dorothy Cummings McLean

POZNAŃ, Poland, March 28, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Pro-abortion rallies coincided with a pro-life march last weekend in Poland. 

In one of a series of pro-abortion “Czarny Piątek” (Black Friday) protests, thousands of black-clad women and men filled Poznań’s Adam Mickiewicz Square on Friday to protest the Zatrzymaj Aborcję” (“Stop Abortion”) bill. If passed, the bill will remove the provision in Poland’s abortion law allowing the destruction of the unborn for reasons of their illness or disability. 

The next day, on Poland’s “National Day of Life”, thousands of pro-life witnesses held a march in Poznań and expressed support for the anti-eugenicist bill. So far 850,000 thousand Poles have shown their support for the bill in a write-in postcard campaign supported by the country’s Catholic bishops. 

“We want to honor these signatures,” said Bogusław Kiernicki, one of the march’s organizers. He said that the march, dubbed “the White March” by the media, was not a reaction to the Black Friday protest but had been planned for weeks before.  

Jacek Kotula of Poland’s Fundacja Pro-Życia (Right to Life Foundation) also denied that the Poznań march was held in reaction to the pro-abortion Black Friday protests. He told LifeSiteNews that the real “White March” was merely a spontaneous demonstration of pro-life Poles on Facebook.

A week ago feminists planned for themselves a black march on Friday. Pro-life people on the internet spontaneously wanted to respond, and they called this “the Marsz Biały” [White March], although it was really a counter-protest.” he explained.  

In the days leading to Black Friday, Facebook was dotted with Poles on either side of the debate decorating their portraits with black or white borders. 

Over 20,000 social media users told Facebook that they were interested in the virtual “White March”, and over 15,000 marked that they had attended. 

“The media called the March in Poznań the “White March” just because there were black [i.e. pro-abortion] marches that day,” Kotula continued. “We [pro-lifers] organize big marches two or three weeks beforehand and a few thousand people don’t come to a march with without organization and advertising.”

There were “Black Friday” demonstrations in other Polish cities last week, featuring obscene chants and posters proclaiming such slogans as  “My [genitals], my business” and “Holy vaginas.”

On Wednesday, members of the so-called Student Anti-Fascist Committee, a branch of Antifa, held a pro-abortion protest at the gates of the University of Warsaw and then set up outside the Bishop’s Palace in Warsaw. The left-wing activists chanted, “Ani Boga, ani pana, kuria jest okupowana”, meaning “Neither God nor you, the curia is occupied.” 

The following Monday, pro-life students at the University held their own small rally at the gates. According to Akcja Studencka (“Student Action”), there were over 80 participants. They held banners reading “Students are for life, and not for death”, “Personhood from conception is a fact, not an opinion”, “All lives matter” and “We are at the side of every woman.”  

On Facebook, Akcja Studencka condemned the behavior of the Anti-Fascist Committee on Friday and criticized the involvement of the University’s own Institute of Polish Culture in allowing the pro-abortion students space to make their posters. 

The Catholic hierarchy was a target in the popular tourist destination of Krakow as well. On Friday between 200 and 300 pro-abortion demonstrators laid siege to the archdiocesan offices on Franciszkański St, shouting anti-clerical slogans.

Poland’s pro-abortion “Black Friday” movement is funded by foreign charities and encouraged by universities whose faculties remained far-left after the collapse of Communism in 1989. The vast majority of Poles, 86%, are Roman Catholics, and in stark contrast to Catholics in the rest of Europe, 40% - 45% still attend church services every week. 

According to Jacek Kotula, there will be over 200 pro-life marches held throughout Poland on June 10.  

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Zell Miller with his wife Shirley. millerfoundation.com
Calvin Freiburger Calvin Freiburger Follow Calvin

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One of Democrats’ last outspoken pro-life voices passes away

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By Calvin Freiburger

ATLANTA, Georgia, March 28, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Public memorial services are in progress for former Georgia Governor and Senator Zell Miller, one of the Democratic Party’s last vocal pro-lifers.

Miller died Friday at age 86, following a battle with Parkinson’s disease. He passed away at home, surrounded by family.

The Miller Institute Foundation announced that services began Monday with a public Memorial on the campus of Young Harris College, continued Tuesday with a Celebration of Life Service at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church, and concluded on Wednesday with a state funeral at the Georgia Capitol rotunda.

“The ranks of socially conservative Democrats are shrinking – and no one was probably more grieved by that than former Georgia senator and Governor Zell Miller,” Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said in a statement. “A passionate, God-fearing and God-loving pro-lifer, Zell was often the lone voice of reason in a party that was starting to lose its way.”

A former Marine, history and political science professor at Young Harris College, and state senator who chaired Democrat Walter Mondale’s 1984 presidential campaign in Georgia, Miller won the governorship of Georgia in 1990, and won reelection in 1994. His successor, Roy Barnes, appointed Miller to fill a Senate vacancy in July 2000, and in November he won the special election to serve the remainder of that term. He declined to run for a second term.

Miller was a popular governor who left that office with an 85% approval rating, but he is most well known nationally for crossing the aisle to support Republican President George W. Bush in 2004.

Miller “was an example of service before self, country before party, principle before poll,” Bush said in a statement. “His strong spirit benefited the people of Georgia and the United States and will be sorely missed."    

He also dissented from his party on a number of issues, including abortion. During a 2007 banquet for the Sav-A-Life Care Center, Miller named abortion as the root cause of several of the United States’ social ills.

“If those 45 million children had lived, today they would be defending our country, they would be filling our jobs, they would be paying into Social Security,” he said. “Still, we watch as 3,700 babies are killed every single day in America. It is unbelievable that a nation under God would allow this.”

In his 2003 book A National Party No More, Miller wrote that he first started questioning his past support for legal abortion with the arrival of his great-grandchildren.

“Even though their young parents struggle tremendously to take care of them,” he said, “I know how richly blessed we are that they were not four of the 42 million who have been aborted over the past thirty years.” He went on to criticize the hypocrisy of abortion supporters who opposed the death penalty, compare abortion-on-demand to the legality of slavery, and express frustration at the increasing pro-life leanings of the younger generation.

“What could be more arrogant than to believe one has the right to designate a life not worth living?” Miller asked.

In his 2005 follow-up A Deficit of Decency, Miller criticized the “untenable” position of his party on the subject.

“There is simply no way to defend partial birth abortion. There is no way to defend using taxpayer’s money to kill a baby,” he wrote. “There is no way to explain, with any kind of logic, why a minor who can’t buy beer or cigarettes can be taken to a clinic where her unborn baby is aborted without her parents ever being told that their grandchild has been killed.”

Miller’s pro-life convictions also extended to opposing the destruction of embryos in medical research.

“No one could be more interested in the potential of stem cell research than I. My mother died from Alzheimer’s,” he wrote. However, he argued that research must focus on the promise of adult stem cells rather than destroying human life to obtain them.

“Because everything God made is good and all of life is precious, the use of embryonic stem cells must be stopped,” Miller concluded. “It is not a proper fate for a human being made in God’s image.”

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Fr. Daniel Duigou appeared with Pope Francis on the cover of the priest's March 2018 book 'Lettre ouverte d'un curé au pape François' Daniel Duigou / book cover
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French Priest: Pope Francis approved my blessing of homosexual couples

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By Maike Hickson

March 28, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A French priest has announced in a televised interview that Pope Francis approved of his blessing of homosexual couples. The news comes in the wake of silence from the Pope at the suggestion of one of his main advisor Cardinals that spiritual encouragement of homosexual couples should be undertaken and blessings for homosexual couples should not be ruled out.

Father Daniel Duigou, priest of the Church Saint-Merry in Paris, France, is a late vocation and a former journalist who holds progressive views. According to a recent interview he gave to the international news service Konbini News, he just published an Open Letter to Pope Francis (Lettre Ouverte d'un Curé au Pape François) in the form of a book in which he calls for a “reinvention” of the Church and for a removal of the “monopoly” of the role of the priests in the Church.

Most importantly, Father Duigou also claimed to have received Pope Francis' personal support for blessing homosexual and “remarried” couples.

In the interview, Duigou said that he had a 45-minute personal meeting with Pope Francis. The photo on the cover of his book released this month supports his claim of the private meeting. 

“The first question he [the pope] asked me was: 'Do you bless divorced and remarried couples?' which is one of the big questions today in the Church,” explained Duigou. He recalled responding, “I listen and I bless, and I also bless homosexual couples.”

According to Duigou the Pope responded: “Yes, because to bless means that God thinks well of people and that God thinks well of all people.” 

The news show host asked incredulously: “Well, does this mean that the Pope is in favor of blessing homosexual couples?”

The French priest responded: “Yes, absolutely. It is not about marrying them.”

When asked whether this is the official position of the Church, Father Duigou responded that it is the position the Pope put forward during an inflight interview. 

Duigou may have been referring to the Pope's famous “Who am I to Judge” made on a 2013 flight.

But he also could have been referring to a 2016 interview during the Pope's return flight from his visit to Georgia and Azerbaijan. The Pope told reporters that he had invited a homosexual couple to visit him in the Vatican. Pope Francis referred to a woman who “felt like a man” but “was physically a young woman.” After a sex-change surgery in her twenties, Pope Francis said, “he got married.” Referring to the woman who mutilated herself and took hormones to appear like a man, the Pope said, "He wrote me a letter saying that, for him, it would be a consolation to come [see me] with his wife. I received them and they were very happy."

Later in the interview, the French priest said that it was probable that in the future there will be married men who will be priests as well as women priests. He responded with “But of course,” when asked if there will be married priests. And addressing women priests he said: “Why won't we ordain tomorrow or in two days women? This would be an extraordinary sign on the side of the Church.”

With regard to the question of whether abortion is a sin, Duigou responded: “No. There are situations that make that if the child is not wanted, the child is in danger.” There are “extreme cases,” he explained, “and there can be many extreme cases,” and there “it could be preferable to abort.”

The interviewer then told Father Duigou that his own grand-uncle was a “traditionalist” priest with “cassock” and all. The interviewer said that his ordained grand-uncle would likely accuse Duigou of betraying the Church.

Duigou, when asked how he would respond to such a claim, replied: “I would say that he lives in the 19th century, and not in the 21st.” Duigou said the Church is engaged in an evolution that one should not fear. “One has to open oneself,” he added. 

When asked whether he is concerned about the fact that there are less and less church-goers on Sundays, the priest answered: “In some ways, that reassures me,” because it is “a free act,” and not anymore done out of social pressure. 

The French traditionalist Catholic website Riposte Catholique, which reported on this interview, titled its report: “How can Father Duigou remain a priest?”

LifeSiteNews reached out to Vatican press office director Greg Burke, asking him for comment and for a possible denial of the claims made by Father Duigou. No response was given. 

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Arnaud Beltrame La Gazette de la Manche
Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

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France’s ‘Maximilian Kolbe’ traded places with female hostage in Islamic terrorist attack

Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent
By Jeanne Smits

March 28, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – France is under the shock of its most recent Islamic terrorist attack in a small supermarket near the beautifully preserved medieval town of Carcassonne in the Southwest, where Muslim immigrants of North African descent form an ever-increasing part of the population. 

But this attack has been very different from the previous shootings and bombings. 

This time, the focus was on one of the victims who sacrificed his own life in order to allow the many customers and workers trapped in the little “Super U” of Trèbes to escape to freedom while he offered to take the place of a woman hostage held by the attacker. 

She was able to go free; he would be viciously attacked, having his throat slit by the radical Muslim terrorist Radouane Ladkim who also shot him three times. 

Arnaud Beltrame’s subsequent death shocked and moved a nation: celebrated as a hero, he has become a symbol of courage but also of faith.

Arnaud Beltrame, 44, was a lieutenant-colonel in the French gendarmerie, a military corps responsible for security in the smaller towns and rural areas. His career had been one of exceptional bravery and excellence: he had participated in special operations in Iraq, organized security for French nuclear sites and he was also one of the first French military to have joined the elite “GIGN” counter-terrorism and special protection unit. 

He had recently taken a post as commanding officer of the gendarmerie in the Carcassonne area in order to join the woman he was to have married next June. Even more importantly, after having been brought up in a family that no longer practiced the Catholic faith, he had undergone a personal and profound conversion about 10 years ago, receiving Holy Communion for the first time and also the sacrament of confirmation.

He lived his Christian faith

His sacrifice was immediately compared to that of Saint Maximilian Kolbe who offered to take the place of a young father in the Nazi extermination camp of Auschwitz during the Second World War in a roundup of prisoners condemned to die of thirst. The saint died in his stead.

Beltrame was savagely assaulted by Ladkim at 2 p.m. on Passion Friday. Father Jean-Baptiste of the nearby abbey of Lagrasse, which shelters the Catholic community of the Canons Regular of the Mother of God, was able to visit the soldier in hospital that same evening, where he lay, heavily wounded and unconscious but capable of receiving the last rites: the sacrament of Extreme Unction which sometimes brings healing to the ill, and always comfort and pardon to the dying. 

Father Jean-Baptiste knew the man well: it was he who was preparing him and his fiancée Marielle, with whom he was already engaged in a civil marriage, for his religious wedding. Marielle was present; she answered the prayers for the dying led by the young priest in the traditional Latin form in which the Canons of Lagrasse celebrate the liturgy.

At the Father’s request, a nurse fixed a Miraculous Medal to Beltrame’s shoulder with tape: in secularized France where most young people have lost the sense of the faith of their fathers the ministering of the Catholic priest was welcomed with respect and helpfulness.

Beltrame died in the early hours of Saturday morning and the news spread like a wildfire. His heroic act had been that of a deeply faithful man, a man who gave his life to save the life of others. 

There could have been no starker contrast to the fanatical act of the radical Islamic terrorist who deliberately took the soldier’s life, and who had already in his infernal orgy of killing for Allah fatally shot the driver of the car he had hijacked hours before, as well as an employee of the “Super U” and a client, and wounded 17 others.

To Father Jean-Baptiste, it was obvious that Beltrame had been driven not only by his sense of duty as a soldier, but also by the charity that is proper to the Christian faith.

Ladkim, on the other hand, appeared as the worshipper of a lesser god, killing where Beltrame served life out of love. Beltrame’s fatal injury was characteristic of Islamic ritual killings: animals must be sacrificed by having their throat slashed and are then bled to death. Beltrame was slain like a dog – the impure animal and hated enemy of Islam – or like a lamb, that offers itself to the slaughterer’s knife. 

Islam is the rising religion in secularist France: the killing of a devout French Catholic believer in such a manner is acting as a wake-up call as to the realities and values of the two religions.

But there is even more to this than meets the eye.

He saved a mother

Beltrame took the place of a female hostage, and certainly saved her life. Julie, 40, is married and has a young daughter, 2-and-a-half years old. She had recently lost her job as an engineer and had accepted a modest post as a cashier at her local supermarket.

So, he saved a woman and a mother. This is the order Christian civilization: “women and children first”, where men are expected to protect and defend the most fragile, and especially those who carry the future by bearing children and nurturing them. 

In Islam, women are second-rate citizens, the objects of men’s desire who must be hidden from public view. It is Christianity that invented courtly love and gallantry. And gallantry means an attitude of courteous respect, but also bravery and valor.

This goes very much against the grain of gender ideology.

But so does the whole story. The mother of Arnaud Beltrame, Nicolle Nicolic-Beltrame, made a point of speaking to the press about her deceased son. From the moment she heard on the radio that a lieutenant-colonel of the gendarmes had substituted himself for a hostage, she knew it was he. 

From a boy, he had wanted action, to be the best, to learn what could be learned to help the oppressed, she said. 

His father, grandfather, and great-grandfather had all served in the army. And when he was small, Arnaud loved nothing better than to play with toy soldiers. No one thought of stopping him to avoid “gender stereotypes”. It was considered totally normal for him to join a military high school, and then military college and elite officer training where he graduated with the highest marks of his year. Virile courage is nurtured in the family, as his mother’s poise and dignity amply demonstrated.

Her son, she said, loved his parents and his brothers, but he always put “the fatherland first, his family afterwards”, freely accepting the risks of his perilous missions. “Knowing how much he hated mediocrity, you want his gesture to help others”, she said. “When people are attacked in the subway or on the train, if only people would get together to react and stopped being passive, things would probably be better.”

Beltrame will receive a solemn homage from the nation in Paris on Wednesday in the courtyard of the Invalides. His mother approves: “I want it mostly because of the symbol it will bring: in France, we have decided not to take things lying down, we are not running away, we are trying to face the risks of the day, in France and elsewhere.”

A lesson of courage, and a lesson of faith 

Arnaud Beltrame had taken his conversion most seriously, going on a pilgrimage to the sanctuary of Saint Anne of Auray – the mother of the Virgin Mary – in Brittany in 2015 in order to find a good wife. That led to his meeting with Marielle, a young and radiant veterinary surgeon with a “profound and discreet Catholic faith”, said Father Jean-Baptiste in a statement. She also has a history of generosity, having done volunteer work with handicapped young people and manning a hotline for people with addictions. She spent three years as a volunteer with the Franciscans of the Bronx. Nothing could be further from the image of women in Islam.

Their engagement took place in the Breton abbey of Timadeuc in 2016; they were civilly married that same year so that Arnaud could obtain a posting in the South of France. They had spent many hours with Father Jean-Baptiste whom they had met by chance while visiting the beautiful medieval abbey of Lagrasse, preparing their religious marriage, which they took most seriously. 

Speaking to the French weekly “La Vie”, Marielle said: “The funeral of my husband will take place during Holy Week, after his death on a Friday just before Palm Sunday, and this was not insignificant to my eyes. It is with a great deal of hope that I am waiting to celebrate the Easter Resurrection with him.”

“Arnaud will never have children according to the order of the flesh. But his striking heroism will encourage many imitators, I am sure, who will be ready to give the gift of self for France and for its Christian joy”, concluded Father Jean-Baptiste in his statement.

These words have been seen and shared thousands of times. They cannot but touch the heart of a whole people.

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Bishop Manuel Linda Jornal de Notîces / video screen-grab
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Bishop promoted by Francis: ‘Remarried’ couples must have sex to be ‘family’

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By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

March 28, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The newly-installed bishop of the Portuguese city of Porto, Manuel Linda, appeared to reject the Catholic doctrine that divorced and invalidly remarried Catholics should abstain from sexual intercourse. He stated in a recent interview, “I’m convinced that it isn’t really a family” if they do so. 

“I know that there are some remarried couples, who were previously in a canonical marriage and who later reconstructed their lives and are in another marriage that is not canonical, who for motives of faith and of interior conviction and of conscience, in fact live in sexual abstinence. But we have to ask ourselves: is that itself a family?” Linda told the Observador (Observer), a Portuguese newspaper.

“I’m convinced that it isn’t really a family,” Linda continued. “It’s one thing to have a living arrangement like I have here in the house with other people, but we’re not a family. It’s another thing to be a family. Therefore, I would not insist much on this matter of de facto sexual abstinence.”

The bishop’s statements were made in response to a recent declaration of the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon, Cardinal Manuel Clemente, who states that it is proper to “propose” to divorced and invalidly remarried couples the possibility of “continence” (sexual abstinence) in their relationship so as to avoid the evil of adultery. Clemente has been pilloried in Portugal for even wishing to propose the idea, particularly by dissenting Catholic priests.

Linda’s statements appear to represent an apparent rejection of the Catholic Church’s perennial condemnation of adultery, a condemnation that is expressly and repeatedly contained in Sacred Scripture of both the Old and New Testaments, as well as the Catechism of the Catholic Church. 

Linda told the Observador that he regarded the pope’s decision to appoint him to the Diocese of Porto as one that could not be refused, because the pope had a “personal” interest in his name for the position.

“There is a series of indications in which I note that the pope was very interested, in a personal way, in my name,” Linda said. “When that happens, one cannot say ‘no’ to a friend.”

Asked if he would continue to raise his voice against abortion, as he did in an article criticizing the Portuguese parliament in 2015, as well as on issues such as euthanasia, Linda said that he didn’t intend to be combative, but rather to “propose” to those who listen to him. 

“If we go through life denouncing everything, speaking ill of everything, we . . . don’t have credibility any more,” said Linda. “Therefore, it shouldn’t be expected of me that I will go through life speaking ill of society, of proposals that are made by political parties or other sectors of the culture or of the society, which perhaps clash with my doctrinal assumptions.” 

“Our mission isn’t so much to defy, to denounce. It is to propose,” Linda continued. “Sure, in the proposal of doctrine I will be irrecusable. I will seek to propose my doctrine to Christians and to other people who want to listen. But it is one thing to propose, another thing to go through life denouncing.”

However, he added that “on issues like abortion or euthanasia, I am absolutely against [such practices], absolutely against.”

Linda was also asked by the Observer if he has taken on the style of Pope Francis. He exclaimed, “Two hundred percent! Completely, completely.”

Asked why, the bishop responded, “The pastoral care of the Church, the announcement that we must make, is not a technique, it isn’t a wisdom, it isn’t a skill like the televangelists who, with no lack of effort on their part, use an eloquent discourse convinced that they will captivate many people that way, and perhaps will do so.”

“No. Our pastoral care is a presence, a fermenting presence. There is no other key to open the human heart other than sympathy, cordiality, affectivity, or for us to be at the same level [as the other person]. If we place ourselves on a different level, our voice isn’t heard, nor do others want to listen to it.”

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Philadelphia cuts ties with Catholic Charities over gay foster parenting refusal

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By Claire Chretien

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania, March 28, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The city of Philadelphia will no longer place foster children with parents through the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Catholic Social Services (CSS) because the archdiocese won’t place kids with same-sex couples.

“A short time ago, the City ceased new foster care child intakes with CSS,” Kenneth Gavin, the archdiocese’s chief communications officer, told LifeSiteNews via email. “CSS is, at its core, an institution founded on faith based-principles. As such, CSS conducts its operations based upon deeply held religious beliefs and principles.”

The archdiocesan program “recognizes the vital importance of the foster care program in our city and is proud to provide safe and nurturing foster environments to young people in need,” said Gavin. “Given the longstanding partnership between CSS and the city, we hope to continue our productive relationship with the City of Philadelphia to serve those among us in need.”

As same-sex “marriage” was introduced and eventually imposed on the U.S., Catholic charities in Boston, Washington, D.C., Illinois, and San Francisco have had to stop facilitating adoptions rather than place children with same-sex couples.

“A man and a woman united in marriage, together with their children, form a family,” the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches (CCC 2202). “This institution is prior to any recognition by public authority, which has an obligation to recognize it. It should be considered the normal reference point by which the different forms of family relationship are to be evaluated.” 

On the subject of homosexual activity, the Catholic Church teaches that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered” and “under no circumstances can they be approved.”

This is because “they are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity” (CCC 2357).

The Catholic Church’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in a document titled Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons, instructs Catholics:

“In those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty. One must refrain from any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application of such gravely unjust laws and, as far as possible, from material cooperation on the level of their application. In this area, everyone can exercise the right to conscientious objection.”

A “married” lesbian couple is currently suing the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the federal government because Catholic Charities of Fort Worth, Texas, wouldn’t place a child in their fatherless home. The women are Texas A&M instructors.

Alabama, Michigan, North Dakota, and Texas all protect adoption agencies from being forced to give kids to same-sex couples.

“It is important to note as a matter of process that CSS would not receive referrals from DHS for adoptive couples,” Gavin explained. “Rather, The City’s Department of Human Services (DHS) would ask CSS to find foster placement for young people and CSS finds those families on its own.”

“The foster care program operated by CSS is, at its root, one designed to provide services to vulnerable children and young people,” he concluded. “Meeting those needs in a safe and caring environment is at the heart of this ministry. Care is provided for all those in need with dignity, charity, and respect regardless of their background.”

There are over 5,000 children and youth in Philadelphia’s foster care system, according to the city. The Pennsylvania State Adoption & Permanency Network says there are approximately 15,000 children in foster care in the state.

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Claire Chretien Claire Chretien Follow Claire

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Planned Parenthood: We wanted to ‘challenge stigma’ with Disney princess abortion tweet

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By Claire Chretien

March 28, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A Planned Parenthood affiliate has admitted its tweet calling for a Disney princess who’d had an abortion was “not appropriate.”

“We joined an ongoing Twitter conversation about the kinds of princesses people want to see in an attempt to make a point about the importance of telling stories that challenge stigma and championing stories that too often don’t get told,” Melissa Reed, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Keystone told USA Today. It was that affiliate of the abortion company that tweeted “we need a Disney princess who’s had an abortion.”

The tweet also called for a “pro-choice” Disney princess and a “trans” Disney princess, reported LifeSiteNews on March 27. 

“Upon reflection, we decided that the seriousness of the point we were trying to make was not appropriate for the subject matter or context, and we removed the tweet,” said Reed.

TELL DISNEY: Don’t make Elsa a lesbian in Frozen 2! Sign the petition here.

“Planned Parenthood ruins everything,” said Penny Nance, CEO of Concerned Women for America. “No, Disney does not need to create a post-abortive princess in order to be relevant.”

“What Disney should do is not listen to anything the nation's largest provider of abortion suggests,” said Nance. “Taxpayers, and Congress, listen up: this is what your half a billion tax dollars per year are being spent on, an organization that is desperately trying to change the culture to make it abortion-positive, one where the destruction of children is the norm.”

In recent years, some cultural observers have complained that certain Disney princesses do not send a “feminist” enough message to young girls.

Others have taken the liberty of creating cartoons of the classic princesses getting tested for STDs and receiving birth control prescriptions.

There is now a push to make Elsa, the protagonist in the highly successful Frozen movie, a lesbian in its sequel.

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Opinion,

The surprising and disturbing reason why LifeSite’s Spring campaign is struggling

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By Steve Jalsevac

March 28, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – There has been a disturbing trend on the Internet during especially the past several months that should be of deep concern to all conservatives. This trend has also been having a serious negative effect on readership and funding for all conservative websites, including LifeSite. It has been affecting our recent fundraising campaigns but this time, during our Spring campaign, we are especially getting hit hard. Still, we are managing to do relatively better than most conservative websites and blogs, many of whom have had to shut down because of factors beyond their control.

The trend I am referring to is an almost declared war by the globalist social media giants – Facebook, Google, Twitter and YouTube against websites, blogs and individuals who promote conservative views or even just factually report news that is seen as any kind of threat to progressive hegemony. It has gotten especially ugly over the past several months with Facebook leading the way in trying to shut down conservative voices and now giving strong preference to liberal websites and views.

Doug Mainwaring reports in another article today on the effects of the most recent Facebook algorithm changes. They have caused even the massive Breitbart News' Facebook engagement to drop by 28% and PragerU dropped by a whopping 32%, despite publishing 18% more content." 

Mainwaring also states,

“In the month following the algorithm change, engagement on Donald Trump’s Facebook posts dropped sharply,” according to a Breitbart report.  “Total engagement dropped by approximately 45 percent, according to data from leading social media analytics firm NewsWhip.” 

All of these discriminatory changes by the Internet giants appear to ultimately be directed towards especially one main goal - to fix the November mid-term US elections so that there cannot be a repeat of the massive Republican win of 2016. The services of Facebook, Google, YouTube and Twitter were very effectively used by grassroots Americans to bring about that 2016 win. The Internet oligarchs are determined to not let democracy reign like that again this coming November. They despise genuine democracy.

Hurting our Spring fundraiser

Right now, all of this is definitely hurting our fundraising campaign. We are being actively prevented from reaching all the people we used to easily reach with our news stories and our appeals during our 2-week campaigns.

Therefore, to those of you who were not blocked from reading this letter, we are depending on you much more than normal to help us to  reach our goal this time while we work on new strategies to overcome the Internet monopolies' discriminatory tactics. 

Internet has been a godsend to conservatives

For many years, the Internet has been a godsend to conservatives – allowing us to finally bypass all the liberal establishment media and information controllers and go direct to the public with the truth on many subjects. Now, we suddenly find ourselves rapidly going full circle back into the past where a few powerful liberal elites are trying to control what we read and which ideas are allowed to be promoted to the public.

In the past, Facebook played a massively positive role in the growth of true freedom of speech and freedom of the press. We and many others took full advantage of what Facebook offered to us. As a result, we grew to reach millions with our news and information that was a clear and welcome alternative to the establishment-controlled media that very few trusted anymore.

Readers come to read LifeSite stories via three main ways:

  1. From Facebook. This is by far our largest source of readership and spreading the truth about the many issues that we cover. LifeSite Facebook pages have a total of almost one million likes. That is, one million persons have chosen to receive LifeSite Facebook posts in their personal Facebook feeds. These are legitimate, not purchased likes. These people all WANT to read our materials – and have been doing so by the millions.

  2. Google search results and Google news. This is the second largest source of LifeSite readership

  3. Email subscribers. LifeSite has a large list of individuals subscribed to our various email lists. This is our core and most loyal readership.

Regarding 1., Facebook has drastically changed the rules and is not allowing our posts to reach most of those who have liked our pages. LifeSite postings are being blocked for the most part. Only a fraction of those who have liked our Facebook pages are permitted to see our stories anymore.

In a must-read article on Breitbart, John Nolte charges,

Facebook (along with Twitter and YouTube) are all guilty of bait-and-switch. They lure us onto their platforms with the promise of unbridled free speech, create their respective monopolies, and then go the full-Kafka against opinions that personally offend them.

Some people respond, “Don’t rely on Facebook” or “don’t use them.” That is almost impossible at the moment.

Nolte explains why in another must-read article, Arguments against breaking up Facebook don’t hold water

Facebook has monopolized a vital part of the online public square where almost all of the civilized world (two billion users!) communicate with friends and family.

And now that Facebook has trapped all of us onto its platform, thus ensuring there is no alternative, Facebook is arbitrarily censoring conservative ideas and speech.

Worse, in some cases, Facebook is violating our right to free assembly by purging us entirely from its public square — greatly restricting our right to free association and deciding what real news is.

As for 2. Google, by far the world's dominant search engine, the rules have also radically changed. Google has been deliberately downgrading conservative views and news in it search results and discriminating in favor of progressive or liberal information and news such as the world’s leading Fake News services The New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, ABC, etc. Facebook is also similarly now discriminating in favor of those same heavily biased news services. 

LifeSite has seen its Google ranking go down and down, the same as with Facebook, at a time when the quality and volume of our news reports have been going up and up.

The same has been happening with Twitter and YouTube. And globalist giants Apple and Amazon are also very supportive of these repressive measures against conservative views. The election of Donald Trump and his thwarting of their globalist plans has caused all of them to turn into Internet thugs.

I could go on at length.

See Doug Mainwaring's more detailed, excellent article today on the current manipulations by the Internet monopolies. It is very revealing and presents ideas about what can be done to resolve this situation. Contact information for you to take action is provided.

In the meantime, please donate to LifeSite today. We are still short an unprecedented $138,000 of our necessary minimum goal with only 2 days left in our campaign.

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Michael L. Brown Michael L. Brown Follow Dr. Michael

Opinion, ,

Confessions of a former teen activist

Michael L. Brown Michael L. Brown Follow Dr. Michael
By Dr. Michael Brown
Image
A photo of the author from his S.A.F.E. school teenage protest days.

March 28, 2018 (LifeSiteNews.com) – As a former teen activist, I’m glad to see young people standing for a cause. I appreciate their conviction and zeal and energy. And I’m thrilled when young people truly believe they can change the world. To this moment, at age 63, I live with that hope and reality every day. Let the status quo be challenged where it needs to be challenged. Count me in on that.

At the same time, I’m thrilled that I was not given a platform to speak to the nation during my teen activist years. Practical wisdom doesn’t come overnight. That’s why parents raise children rather than children raising parents. That’s why you cannot drink alcohol or drive or vote or marry before you reach a certain age. That’s why the president of the United States must be at least 35 years old.

Without a doubt, young people, even in their teens, can make a great impact. How old were computer geniuses like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs when they started to ply their craft? How much internet technology has been created by very young adults? And when it comes to protest movements, like the antiwar movement in the days of the Vietnam War, how much of that was driven by youth?

But, to repeat, there’s a reason why older people govern our homes and teach at our schools and lead our nation. There’s a reason why elders are respected (or, at least, should be).

When our daughters got into their teen years, they didn’t like the house rules and often told Nancy and me that things should be different. We were too strict. Our standards were too high.

One day, I gave them as assignment. They were to make up a list of everything my wife and I were doing wrong and then write out what the rules should be. Then I asked them to hold on to that list until they were married and had their own children.

Today, they have children ranging in age from 17 to 11, and together, we have had a good laugh about their old list – which included no house rules, no curfews, and no requirements.

In the spring of 1971, during my heavy drug rebellion days, I helped lead a protest in my high school. After all, campus protests were the “in” thing at that time, including taking buildings hostage. (Think Columbia University in New York.)

We felt that our school was becoming oppressive, with too many rules being put on the student body, so we called for a protest one day.

To my surprise, out of 1,200 students in the school, about 600 showed up. But the moment the bell rang to start classes, most of them began to disperse, and the assistant principal, who knew the trouble-makers, started to round them up in his office.

I shouted out, “If they go to his office, we all go!”

Almost instantly, there were over 100 of us wanting to air our grievances. So the school opened up the main auditorium, where, one after another, we told the administrators what was wrong with their system.

To make a long story short, the school ended up going along with our demands, which were quite radical. That next fall (in 1971), S.A.F.E. school was launched. The acronym stood for Student and Faculty Education, since this would be a learning experience for all involved.

We had between 60 and 70 students and four rooms for ourselves. We painted the windows with graffiti, while the rest of the school’s windows were clean. We got out of school at noon. Everyone else stayed until 3:00 P.M.

And not only did we address the teachers on a first-name basis, but we had no required classes. Literally. We could request a passing grade and not show up once in the semester, and we would be passed. Because of this, the only formal grade I received the last two years of high school was in Band and Orchestra, which was held in the main part of the school.

It wasn’t long before the program was disbanded – for good reason – but 25 years later, at a high school reunion, I talked to a number of former S.A.F.E. students. Most told me it destroyed their careers academically. I was one of the exceptions, going on to earn advanced degrees without a problem. But we thought we were so wise when we started S.A.F.E.

Ironically, even if there were valid issues with the traditional educational model, we didn’t have the wisdom to fix the problems we observed. Our solutions were utterly impractical.

I see that same know-it-all foolishness in quotes like this, from David Hogg, one of the student leaders of the anti-gun protests. He said, “It's like when your old-a‑‑‑ parents are like, ‘I don't know how to send an iMessage,’ and you're just like, ‘Give me the f‑‑‑‑‑‑ phone’ and you take it and you're like, ‘OK, let me handle it,’ and you get it done in one second. Sadly, that's what we have to do with our government because our parents don't know how to use a f‑‑‑‑‑‑ democracy, so we have to.’”

So, because kids know how to use smartphones and social media better than their parents, that’s proof positive that they also know better how to run the country.

It’s foolish drivel like this that reminds us of the immaturity that often accompanies youth. And it reminds us that, while young people do have something important to say and while old people can easily compromise and sell out, we do best when mature leaders lead the way.

To let teenagers dictate how the nation should be run is as dangerous as letting teenage pilots take over all planes and having teenagers running air traffic control. You will be in for a whole lot of serious crashes.

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Gualberto Garcia Jones, Esq.

Opinion, ,

How the marijuana lobby can teach pro-lifers to end legal abortion

Gualberto Garcia Jones, Esq.
By Gualberto Garcia Jones Esq.

March 28, 2018 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On March 23, President Donald Trump signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, also known as the omnibus budget deal. The federal budget funded Planned Parenthood, with no conscience protections for pro-lifers. It also funded "sanctuary cities" that openly defy federal immigration law and defunded the Justice Department's ability to enforce federal marijuana laws.

What I find most interesting about this budget boondoggle is what it tells us in the pro-life movement about the real political power of defiance.

Defiance of the unjust, judicially imposed "law" that is Roe v. Wade has rarely found favor in the pro-life movement. This makes sense only if one considers that the pro-life movement has, from its beginning, been controlled by attorneys closely aligned with the establishment wing of the Republican Party. These attorneys are literally the same guys who just gave us the omnibus budget boondoggle. I know this, because I have had the distinct displeasure of their attacks on my pro-life work.

From 2008 to 2014, I was involved with several important personhood initiative campaigns in different states around the country. We were a ragtag group of principled grassroots pro-lifers, young and old, who attempted to amend state constitutions to recognize the equal protection under the law for preborn children. We often circumvented the political swamp by reaching out directly to the voters through the referendum and initiative processes. Our greatest detractors, besides Planned Parenthood, who spent millions defeating our amendments, were the politically powerful attorneys who still rule the pro-life movement.

In a scathing essay against the state personhood amendments, Paul Linton, who served as general counsel for Americans United for Life, wrote, "[T]he most elementary error that infects state 'personhood' proposals is the failure to recognize the hierarchy of the law." In an interview on the eve of the vote for one of our hardest fought initiative campaigns, James Bopp, Jr., who has served as general counsel for National Right to Life and is not coincidentally one of the GOP's top campaign finance lawyers, told National Public Radio that our initiative was "not only a waste of time, but potentially very dangerous[.] ... The courts will readily strike it down."

You can imagine how it felt for the God-fearing mom-and-pop pro-lifers who had just spent a year of their lives trying to get the personhood amendment on the ballot. When we needed them the most, our national leaders, political and legal and religious, publicly turned their backs on us. Their reasoning was, always has been, and always will be the same: "We need more Republicans to appoint judges who will overturn Roe v. Wade" and "Now is not the right time."

At the same time these "leaders" were busy undercutting their base, a curious thing was happening in the marijuana legalization community. First in California, then all over the Western states, and then in the rest of the country, marijuana was being legalized using the same initiative process, in direct defiance of the "hierarchy of the law" that pro-lifers had been told only fools would dare to ignore. In fact, the Constitution's 10th Amendment "police powers" used to justify state-level drug legalization are the same legal weapons used by pro-lifers to re-establish personhood for the preborn. The late Dr. Charles Rice, professor of law at Notre Dame, wrote extensively about this idea, arguing that the states have a duty to legislate to protect their citizens and that the 10th Amendment recognizes that right and reserves it to the states.

Yet pro-life central command, which shares a virtual office with GOP headquarters, killed the idea. Defiance of the Supreme Court's tyranny was off the table, the establishment said, at least for pro-lifers. But when it came to marijuana, and when the money from the soon-to-be 20-billion-dollar marijuana industry started to roll in to the GOP coffers, things changed.

Federal law is absolutely clear that marijuana is a controlled substance with serious adverse effects and therefore, its possession, production, and distribution are a grave federal offense. This is not a judicially invented "law," like the "right" to abortion, but an actual federal law passed by Congress after decades of debates and reviews. And yet state after state has legalized what is clearly a federal crime. And what has been the reaction of Congress and the president to this blatant defiance of the law? To prohibit the Department of Justice from using funds to enforce the federal drug laws! This is the power of defiance by a determined group of people.

While marijuana advocates are standing up for the all-important right to smoke and succeeding, pro-lifers who stand up in defiance for the right to life of little boys and girls are told to shut up, sit down, and allow the Republican Party attorneys to take care of it. Unfortunately, these attorneys have convinced the religious leaders, who, in turn, have convinced the base to settle down and wait. Perhaps the disgraceful omnibus budget deal will get some pro-lifers to stand up again.

Up to now, the pro-life movement has always settled for electing more Republicans and hoping against hope for better results. But results never come. They never will.

If you don't believe it, consider the case of state and local governments. Pro-lifers and grassroots conservatives have been so successful at electing "pro-life" Republicans to state and local elections that the GOP has achieved a supermajority nationwide, yet no actual long-term progress has been made. In fact, John Kasich, a Republican governor, who vetoed a heartbeat bill, saying – you guessed it – it would violate federal law. When a pro-life law actually slips past the establishment, like Mississippi's flawed 15-week abortion ban, the federal judiciary quickly steps in to eliminate the threat of any progress, and everyone complies with the tyrannical court.

There has never been an unjust law so worthy of defiance as Roe v. Wade. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in his Letter from A Birmingham Jail that "[a]ny law that degrades human personality is unjust" and that "one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws." Abortion doesn't just degrade the human personality. Its whole purpose is to eliminate it completely and forever.

Some law-abiding pro-lifers worry that defiance might lead to anarchy. But consider that there is no reason why a legislature or a lower court that defies the holding of Roe v. Wade would lead us to anarchy. The opinion of Roe v. Wade itself represents the destruction of the very purpose of law, which is the protection of life. Therefore, its abolition would represent a return to law and order, not a departure from it.

There is another group, besides the marijuana lobby, that has brazenly defied the "hierarchy of the laws" and not suffered any negative consequences. "Sanctuary city" activists have effectively overturned federal immigration law and refused to enforce it. But in signing the omnibus budget deal, President Trump and the entire GOP justified sanctuary cities by refusing to cut any of the federal government's funding for them. As the founders understood all too well, the main tool in Congress's toolkit is the power of the purse, and the president's is the veto. Neither chose to use these tools to prevent this debacle from happening. Both must be held accountable.

We must ask ourselves this: if certain liberal cities can decide to ignore an area of the law that is clearly and fully reserved to the federal government, as is the case with immigration law, why couldn't a predominantly Christian pro-life city refuse to enforce the unjust and illegitimate ruling of Roe v. Wade? For far too long, the grassroots pro-lifer has been politically represented by organizations led by Republican establishment operatives whose overarching interests are power and access, not principle. I know this isn't a nice thing to say, and I certainly don't relish saying it, but thousands of children are dying every single day in America. The uncomfortable truth has to be told if we hope to ever change things. The great news is that we can.

The pro-life grassroots can learn four critical lessons from the omnibus budget boondoggle.

One: The swamp-dwelling D.C. establishment, sadly, includes the D.C.-based national pro-life organizations. Check out the Twitter feeds of the three big "pro-life" organizations: National Right to Life, SBA List, and Family Research Council. Do you see any denunciation of this outrageous budget or the president, who refused to use his veto pen to stand up for life?

Two: In the political realm, apparently, only some causes are worth fighting for. When marijuana-smokers have more clout in courageously defying the federal government than pro-lifers who are fighting for the right of an entire class of human beings, we know we have a leadership problem. The truth is that the pro-life movement does not belong to the pro-life base anymore. It belongs to a few very partisan and very politically connected people who have shown, time and again, that they simply will not cross the GOP establishment and stand up for the babies.

Lesson three: Our interests need to be defended above and apart from those of the GOP. Sometimes our interests may coincide with the GOP, and sometimes they may not, but we cannot continue to allow abortion to be treated as a partisan political football.

And finally, number four: The pro-life base should not be afraid to defy federal law. In open defiance of Roe, we need to muster the courage to begin setting up sanctuary cities for the preborn, where local and state communities and leaders no longer tolerate or align themselves with the injustice of abortion.

In this way, perhaps the omnibus budget deal is a blessing in disguise. But it's up to us to make these changes happen. We must stop hoping to be a part of the latest grand political compromise and instead hold on fast to the truth. Given the current state of America, we must start demanding immediate and uncompromising action on abortion at the local level. This means we must be ready to rethink our overall strategies and focus our time and treasure in ways we have overlooked in the past.

We must organize local pro-life communities across the country. This is the driving idea behind Personhood Alliance and other localized efforts that are beginning to gain traction. As the rotten core of Washington, D.C. politics disintegrates into a maelstrom of moral corruption, we must continue to connect locally. But before we engage in any of this work, we need to strengthen our own families, which are our most local structures of support. We need to repent of our own sins, lest we become pharisaical, and pray to God Almighty that He may use us – the crooked pencils that we are – to write out His glorious plan.

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Doug Mainwaring Doug Mainwaring Follow Doug

Blogs,

Washington backlash brews as Google, Facebook bully conservatives on social media

Doug Mainwaring Doug Mainwaring Follow Doug
By Doug Mainwaring

WASHINGTON, March 28, 2018  (LifeSiteNews) – Storm clouds are gathering in the nation’s capitol that may threaten to rain on the nation’s young tech giants’ practices of suppressing conservative messaging while freely promoting liberal ideology. 

To those who have seen their reach and influence on social media platforms suddenly minimized, the storm’s distant rumblings are a welcome sound. 

A few tech giants control the vast majority of the flow of online commerce. Among these are Facebook, Google, Twitter, and YouTube (owned by Google), each dominating a different facet of the internet, and each in their own way presenting a very real existential threat to conservatives.   

Together they hold a near-monopoly on the flow of information and news. As such, the are able with their complex algorithms to manipulate public discourse and limit free, unimpeded inquiry. 

These tech giants, fueled by a politically correct worldview, are ultimately able to undermine what it means to live in a democracy. 

Because of this, questions are being raised by lawmakers on Capitol Hill as well as by White House execs. There are indications that both suspect the time is ripe for these tech giants to be regulated as public utilities in order to provide greater safeguards against heavy-handed favoring of progressive values and messaging overbalanced or conservative ones.  

Vice President Mike Pence is concerned about Facebook and Google, according to a report in Axios

“Though Pence isn't yet pushing internally for any specific regulations, he argues these companies are dangerously powerful,” said the report, adding that a “source said the V.P. worries about their influence on media coverage, as well as their control of the advertising industry and users’ personal info.”

Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon has called for social media platforms like Facebook and Google to "be regulated as utilities.” 

Some seem to favor a higher degree of regulation, while others toy with the idea of breaking up the online giants. Both notions send up red flags in conservative and libertarian circles, where government intervention and bureaucratic heavy-handedness have traditionally been anathema.  

In the end, though, it looks like the battle will be between the Leviathan federal government and the nascent social media Behemoths.  

The clash is unavoidable, because if the tech giants are allowed to continue on the path they are now on, the voices of conservatives will be muted to an inaudible whisper, and their visual presence will simply vanish.  It will be as if conservatism, traditional religion, and even patriotism as we know them will have ceased to exist on the internet’s public forum. 

Profound partisan impact

When Facebook adjusted its algorithms earlier this year in order to ensure the promotion and dissemination of what it deems “quality news,” websites purveying ‘conservative’  news — including LifeSiteNews — noticed a precipitous drop in traffic and reach.  

A report filed by The Outline earlier this month in the aftermath of Facebook’s algorithm change, notes:

Facebook’s January 12 announcement that it would begin to de-prioritize news publishers and their posts in users’ News Feeds has had a surprisingly profound and partisan impact. According to The Outline’s analysis of Facebook engagement data obtained from research tool BuzzSumo, conservative and right-wing publishers (such as Breitbart, Fox News, and Gateway Pundit) were hit the hardest in the weeks following the announcement, with Facebook engagement totals for February dropping as much as 55 percent for some, while the engagement numbers of most predominantly liberal publishers remained unaffected. 

The report pointed out that Breitbart's engagement dropped by 28% and PragerU dropped by a whopping 32%, despite publishing 18% more content during the time period. 

Not only that but “In the month following the algorithm change, engagement on Donald Trump’s Facebook posts dropped sharply,” according to a Breitbart report.  “Total engagement dropped by approximately 45 percent, according to data from leading social media analytics firm NewsWhip.” 

Consensus is Building:  Power Is in the Hands of Too Few

Tech giants like Facebook, Google, and Youtube now enjoy political power on par with Big Oil and Big Pharma, and power to influence American society like perhaps no corporate entities, ever. Yet Oil and pharmaceutical companies are subject to strict regulation.

“Big Tech’s greatest sins are locking in a winner-take-all economy, decimating the middle class and exercising monopoly-like powers that cause the free market to fail,” reports Jon Talton, who thinks maybe it’s time to break up ‘Big Tech.’ 

“Competition is stymied,” and “Power is in the hands of too few,” asserts Talton in his Seattle Times Opinion piece, where he suggests that the tech giants need to face a “Theodore Roosevelt-style trust busting.”   

A consensus is building.

Steve Bannon, said last year that Facebook and Google “have become essential elements of 21st century life,” that “should be regulated as utilities,” according to The Intercept. 

The report continues, “Bannon’s basic argument, as he has outlined it to people who’ve spoken with him, is that Facebook and Google have become effectively a necessity in contemporary life. Indeed, there may be something about an online social network or a search engine that lends itself to becoming a natural monopoly, much like a cable company, a water and sewer system, or a railroad.”

David Chavern, the president and CEO of the News Media Alliance, said in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece, a “threat to America’s news industry looms mostly unnoticed: Google and Facebook’s duopolistic dominance of online advertising.”

Breitbart’s John Nolte, in a piece titled “Arguments against breaking up Facebook do not hold water,” notes that “now that Facebook has trapped all of us onto its platform, thus ensuring there is no alternative, Facebook is arbitrarily censoring conservative ideas and speech.” 

He argues:

Basically, if you were to move to an alternative platform, you would be removing yourself from the public square that is Facebook, and as a result your ideas and arguments would be at a major disadvantage.

Unfortunately, like the telephone (Ma Bell) and U.S. Post Office monopolies of 35-years-ago, there is no effective way to replace the power and reach of Facebook with something else.

Think of it this way: if 35 years ago, Ma Bell did what Facebook does now  — took telephones away from those who express certain opinions — how could  you possibly compete on the level playing field of ideas? How could you join the debate, effectively organize, etc?

You could not.

And this is why Facebook needs to become a public utility or be regulated like one, needs to become a place where the only rules governing our speech are the actual laws written by our elected (and accountable) representatives.

He adds:

Nothing is anywhere near as established, powerful, or central as Facebook.

Leaving Facebook, or being purged from Facebook, is like leaving the public square. You are at an immediate disadvantage. You can no longer address the crowd. You have been removed from the primary gathering place where important debates and decisions take place.

Fox News host and pundit Tucker Carlson famously made the case for regulating tech giants like Google. 

Carlson said, “Google is the most powerful company in the history of the world. It’s the portal through which the bulk of our information flows. That means that if Google isn’t on the level, neither is our understanding of the world. To an unprecedented extent, Google controls reality. Google has already shown a disturbing willingness to distort reality for ideological ends.”

Carlson continued, “Until they were sued for it in 2008, Google refused to allow anti-abortion advertisements on its platforms even though they freely allowed pro-abortion ones. On the flip side, Google often blacklists certain sites from hosting ads which denies them revenue. Recently, Google-owned YouTube has introduced procedures to cut off revenue to, quote, ‘offensive content.’ What’s offensive? Who decides?”

Carlson said it’s now obvious that Google can’t be trusted to monitor and make judgments about what is offensive and what is not offensive for its users. “Why should a company that shuts down free speech for political reasons have the power to dictate what the world knows and thinks? Well, of course it shouldn’t have that power.”

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), “Free and open markets are the foundation of a vibrant economy. Aggressive competition among sellers in an open marketplace gives consumers — both individuals and businesses — the benefits of lower prices, higher quality products and services, more choices, and greater innovation.”

“The FTC's competition mission is to enforce the rules of the competitive marketplace – the antitrust laws.”

“Congress passed the first antitrust law, the Sherman Act, in 1890 as a ‘comprehensive charter of economic liberty aimed at preserving free and unfettered competition as the rule of trade.’ In 1914, Congress passed two additional antitrust laws: the Federal Trade Commission Act, which created the FTC, and the Clayton Act. With some revisions, these are the three core federal antitrust laws still in effect today.”

Yet those “core laws” don’t necessarily extend to today’s important challenges facing the American marketplace of ideas and the free, unfettered flow of information.

Google has already been fined $2.7 billion by the European Commission for violating its antitrust law, based on Google’s limiting of consumer choices for Europe’s citizens.

Tucker Carlson concluded his comments last year, saying that “Congress here and the Trump administration should go further than that. Since it has the power to censor the internet, Google should be regulated like the public utility it is to make sure it doesn’t further distort the free flow of information.  To the rest of us, that needs to happen immediately. Too bad it’s come to this. A lot of us trusted Google not to be evil. Silly us.”

Google's former motto was "Don't be evil."

Lawmakers and those serving in executive branch decision-making roles need and want to hear the opinions of concerned citizens.  Those who cherish freedom and democracy should take the time to encourage them against censorship by internet giants. Concerned citizens should push for stricter regulation or for breaking up social media monopolies because of the massive power they wield to shut down what they don't agree with.

Contact info:   

White House:  https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/#page.

Ajit Pai, head of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
Email: [email protected].

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Lianne Laurence Lianne Laurence Follow Lianne

The Pulse

AMAZING: Pregnant mom’s belly gives her leverage to pull suicidal woman off bridge

Lianne Laurence Lianne Laurence Follow Lianne
By Lianne Laurence

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (LifeSiteNews) — A Vancouver doctor might have been pulled over Granville Bridge to plunge to her death along with the suicidal woman she spontaneously grabbed at the last minute — had she not been seven months pregnant at the time.

Emily Stevens credits her then-unborn daughter, Lily, with giving her the leverage she needed to keep upright as she hung onto the woman for dear life for about two minutes before police arrived.

“I say Lily was my counterbalance because I was a bit heavier than usual and had a different centre of gravity than I usually would,” Stevens told the city’s News1130 when receiving an Award of Merit from the Vancouver Police Department earlier this month.

Stevens was holding six-month-old Lily in her arms at the March 1 ceremony where she and six others received the award, which is given to civilians who put themselves in danger while attempting to save a life, stop a crime, or capture a criminal.

Stevens noticed the woman while walking home last June across the bridge. The bridge runs 90 feet, or eight stories high, over False Creek.

“Initially I walked past her, but something didn’t seem quite right. So, I turned around and I saw her standing on the bottom rung of the bridge and at that point I realized she was likely intending on committing suicide,” she said.

Stevens retraced her steps and began talking to the woman while she called 911.

She talked to the woman for over 20 minutes, as police were briefly sidetracked by another woman, who fit the description Stevens gave them, walking on the other side of the bridge.

When the officers did arrive, the suicidal woman reacted swiftly — but so did Stevens.

“She saw the police car stop, realized what was happening and went to jump,” Stevens said. “I honestly didn’t think. I got in a bit of trouble from my husband later who said, ‘You could have been pulled over the bridge with this woman. What are you doing?’ But I just grabbed her and held on.”

It took only a couple of minutes for the officers to pull both women to safety, and for the significance of what happened to hit Stevens.

“I called my family and said I think I just saved a woman’s life on the way home from work and that was a bit stressful and scary,” she said.

Although Stevens doesn’t know what became of the woman since, she would do the same again, she said.

“I like to think that no matter what, she got another chance at the end of the day to get some help and get better,” she said. “I hope that as my daughter grows up, if she unfortunately has mental issues, that someone else will be there to help her when she needed it.”

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