All articles from May 18, 2020


News

Facebook caved to George Soros by creating ‘Oversight Board’: Hungarian official

An article on the communications website of Hungary President Viktor Orban points out that the board is 'packed with liberals' who have an agenda.
Mon May 18, 2020 - 5:58 pm EST
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Martin Bürger Follow Martin
By Martin Bürger

BUDAPEST, Hungary, May 18, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – By establishing an “Oversight Board,” Facebook has caved to Hungarian-born far-left billionaire George Soros’ agenda, according to the Hungarian government.

Zoltán Kovács, Secretary of State for International Communication and Relations, published an article on “About Hungary,” the website of the International Communications Office of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

Kovács based his article on a statement put out by the Free Speech Alliance (FSA), which consists of more than 60 organizations and individuals who oppose the silencing of conservative voices on social media. LifeSiteNews is part of the Free Speech Alliance.

“Earlier this year at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Soros shocked more than a few people by claiming Facebook was working with Donald Trump to get him re-elected,” Kovács wrote.

“This wasn’t the first time that Soros had taken on the social media giant, but it was the first time that Mark Zuckerberg appears to have caved to the wishes of the billionaire ‘philanthropist,’” he continued.

In January 2020, Soros had written, “Facebook can post deliberately misleading or false statements by candidates for public office and others, and take no responsibility for them.”

“I believe that Mr. Trump and Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, realize that their interests are aligned – the president’s in winning elections, Mr. Zuckerberg’s in making money,” Soros claimed in The New York Times.

“The responsible approach is self-evident,” the billionaire went on. “Facebook is a publisher not just a neutral moderator or ‘platform.’ It should be held accountable for the content that appears on its site.”

He concluded, “I repeat and reaffirm my accusation against Facebook under the leadership of Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. (Sheryl) Sandberg. They follow only one guiding principle: maximize profits irrespective of the consequences. One way or another, they should not be left in control of Facebook.”

According to the government of Hungary, Facebook’s “Oversight Board” created in May “appears to be packed with liberals, including more than one with direct ties to Soros himself.”

“A bit of digging,” Kovács said, referring to the FSA statement, “reveals many ties to Soros-funded organizations and mouthpieces.”

The FSA had pointed out that of the four co-chairs of the “Oversight Board,” three are “reliably liberal.”

Columbia Law Prof. Jamal Greene was an aide to Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) during the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings. Catalina Botero-Marino is the dean of the Universidad de los Andes Faculty of Law of Colombia. She is also a member of the board of directors of the Center for Reproductive Rights, a pro-abortion group. That is especially infuriating to pro-life groups that are regularly targeted on social media for their beliefs. No pro-life leader need apply to this board.

Then there’s the former prime minister of Denmark, Helle Thorning-Schmidt. She declared she “does not believe in eternal life, salvation or heaven and hell,” according to the publication Kristligt Dagblad.

Thorning-Schmidt is also one of at least six of the 15 international members of the board who openly espouse anti-Trump sentiments. She posted recently on Twitter over a photo of Obama endorsing presumptive Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden: “The endorsement!! OMG, Miss the voice of decency and grace.”

The other members of the “Oversight Board” were chosen by the co-chairs. Three of the 20 members are directly linked to George Soros.

“One works directly for his Open Society organizations,” the FSA revealed. “Another was the founding dean at Central European University, which Soros founded and funded with nearly $1 billion. Even Oversight Board Executive Director Thomas Hughes comes from Article 19, which has received more than $2 million from Soros.”

While the Hungarian government claims to have “already seen the censorship of content … the establishment of this board to have supposedly far-reaching decision-making authority with such an imbalanced, left-leaning composition takes matters to a new, troubling level.”

Referring to Soros, Kovács asked, “How does this private citizen, a person who promotes an ideology far outside the mainstream, along with a group of his like-minded associates, paid employees and sympathizers move in to become regulators-in-chief for a platform catering to over 30 percent of the world’s population?”

Kovács concluded by turning to Soros’ article in The New York Times, in which he said Zuckerberg and Sandberg “should not be left in control of Facebook” as they only want to “maximize profits.”

“That strikes me as deeply cynical,” Kovács commented, “coming from a man who said in an interview that ‘I am basically there to make money. I cannot and do not look at the social consequences of what I do.’”

Kovács felt reminded of communism since Zuckerberg “is one of the founders and controlling shareholders of Facebook. But in the Soros worldview, ideology trumps all and if a powerful platform like Facebook does not toe the open society party line, then ownership control must be taken away.”

Soros is a prolific financier of left-wing causes throughout the United States and around the world, including abortion, euthanasia, population control, same-sex “marriage,” transgenderism, and more.

His Open Society Foundations spend almost $1 billion annually in 100 different countries, including $150 million per year funding the left-wing American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the leading abortion company Planned Parenthood, and other liberal groups. He invested $5.1 million in a super PAC dedicated to funding groups working against Trump’s re-election; and is an aggressive supporter of the European Union who has spent money in hopes of influencing the elections of multiple European nations.

In January, he announced the launch of an international network for educational institutions for the purpose of advancing his interpretation of “democratic values” and combating the rise of “nationalism.”

Earlier this month, Soros indicated that the coronavirus pandemic paves the way for societal changes previously thought impossible, calling it “the crisis of my lifetime.” Soros had lived through the Second World War as a youth.

Even before the pandemic hit, “I realized that we were in a revolutionary moment where what would be impossible or even inconceivable in normal times had become not only possible, but probably absolutely necessary,” he said.

In the same interview, he also voiced his concern “about the survival of the (European Union) because it is an incomplete union.”


  donald trump, european union, facebook, free speech alliance, george soros, hungary, mark zuckerberg, open society foundations, oversight board, pandemic, planned parenthood, thomas hughes, viktor orban

News

Stanford medical prof says pandemic lockdowns are ‘doomed to fail’

Dr. Jayanta Bhattacharya says there are 'no safe options' and argues that shutdowns have 'had an enormous negative effect on the health of people' worldwide.
Mon May 18, 2020 - 5:19 pm EST
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Dr. Jayanta Bhattacharya is a professor of medicine at Stanford University. YouTube screenshot
Doug Mainwaring Doug Mainwaring Follow Doug
By Doug Mainwaring

STANFORD, California, May 18, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – A Stanford University professor of medicine who just completed an important national study of the coronavirus has concluded that the lockdowns instituted across much of the nation and the world are more dangerous than they are helpful.  

“It’s not possible to eradicate (the coronavirus) with a lockdown. We have to come to terms with that,” said Dr. Jayanta Bhattacharya, a professor of medicine at Stanford University, in a video interview with the Hoover Institute’s Peter Robinson.    

The lockdown strategy is “doomed to fail,” said Bhattacharya, “and it’s also going to be counterproductive.”   

“There is no safe option,” he said. “If you think that having a lockdown will provide you safety, you’re mistaken.” 

Bhattacharya explained that vaccines are very hard to develop, adding, “There aren’t any vaccines for coronaviruses.” 

“The idea that we could continue the lockdown until a vaccine is developed is preposterous,” suggested Robinson. 

Tragic unintended health consequences worldwide

“This lockdown has had an enormous negative effect on the health of people in the United States and worldwide,” said Bhattacharya, enumerating some of the lockdown’s tragic unintended but foreseeable consequences. “There have been people who have delayed their chemotherapy as a result of the lockdown.” 

“(People) have had heart attacks and not gone to the doctor,” he said.

“I just saw a report estimating that 75,000 will have committed suicide as a result of the lockdown,” he continued. “Seventy-five thousand ‘deaths of despair’ are predicted in the U.S. alone – a number that currently exceeds the total number of deaths due to the coronavirus in this country.” 

“Worldwide, there’s been a resurgence of diseases that we thought we had a handle on,” noted Bhattacharya, citing “1.4 million cases of tuberculosis not treated in India” as a result of the lockdowns.

“In a place such as India, you impose a lockdown, and you’re pushing the entire population into a time machine. Their health care regresses a century,” observed Robinson.  

“That’s not just true in India,” responded Bhattacharya. “That’s true in every country on Earth.  Especially the poor people in every country on Earth will suffer from this global economic collapse that we’ve caused. Part of it is due to COVID, but it’s partly also due to the response of governments around the world that shut down our economies.” 

Bhattacharya indicated that people are putting too much faith in the lockdowns. The measures are effective while they are enforced, he said, but as soon as they are lifted the virus will “just start growing again.”

“The lockdowns are not a mechanism for disease eradication,” said Bhattacharya.  Lockdowns “will never eradicate a disease.”

Lockdowns “will only delay when the disease happens. Now or later. You pay the cost now or you pay it later,” he said.

“You either face the problems that have to do with lifting the lockdowns, or you face the problems that have to do with the economic collapse that we’ve caused as a result of trying to deal with COVID,” he emphasized.

“No matter what choice you make,” said Bhattacharya, “you are going to be on the hook.” 

A better, cost-effective idea

Robinson suggested that politicians are making political calculations as they govern, trying to find a way to not get blamed either for deaths to the virus or for misery caused by the economic collapse due to the lockdowns.

“What I’d like to see is actual leadership,” said Bhattacharya. 

Asked what he would do if he were the president or a governor, the Stanford medical professor said he would focus on the two groups that are most at risk when they contract the disease: those already sick and the elderly. 

“We have to work very hard to protect people when we start lifting lockdowns who fit that description, especially (in) the places where they live,” said Bhattacharya. “The fact that such a large fraction of the deaths have occurred in nursing homes is a clue that that’s where we basically should be taking action to protect people.”

“Quarantining – basically making the nursing homes much safer – is going to be a huge priority as we lift the lockdowns,” he said. 

“What you’re saying is that whatever we need to do to protect the people most at risk is going to cost a tiny fraction of what we’ve already spent for this lockdown,” suggested Robinson. “If we’re being sensible, we can do stuff that doesn’t cost much.”

“That’s right.  We need to better understand who actually is at risk,” said Dr. Bhattacharya, “and focus our attention on providing support for those folks.” 

The Major League Baseball study

Dr. Bhattacharya had just completed a study of more than 5,600 employees of Major League Baseball (MLB) clubs around the nation, including athletes, coaches, and office staff.  

The MLB testing involved looking for antibodies that provide evidence of current or past infection. While it examined a “unique population” – MLB employees only – Bhattacharya said it gives “a peek into what the disease is doing all across the country in one go.” 

Surprisingly, the study found that just 0.7 percent, or seven people in 1,000 MLB employees and family members, had evidence of having been infected with the virus. 

This was much lower than findings of an early study conducted by Bhattacharya in Santa Clara County, California where about 3 percent of the population, or about 30 per thousand, were shown to have been infected with the virus.  

This infection rate is also much lower than reports from other local jurisdictions, including Los Angeles County, which had found that 4 percent, or about 40 per thousand residents there have or have had the virus.

The MLB findings also contrast sharply with Miami/Dade County, Florida at about 3 percent; Upstate New York, also at about 3 percent; and especially with New York City’s whopping 25 percent infection rate.

Bhattacharya and Robinson noted that this is perhaps because the majority of MLB employees are paid middle and upper-middle class wages and most likely live outside densely populated urban areas. While the MLB employees for New York’s Yankees and Mets drove up the overall infection rate for the study – 5.44 percent and 2.73 percent, respectively – they still showed a far lower infection rate than the general population for that area.

While Bhattacharya attributed the lower infection rate to the fact that the MLB franchises worked hard to implement safe protocols at the outset of the pandemic, he noted that simple economics probably had a lot to do with it. 

“There’s a steep socioeconomic status gradient in who has been exposed to this disease,” said Bhattacharya, “meaning that poorer people are much more likely to have had the disease.” 

“Poor people get hit harder,” lamented Robinson. “That’s not something we like in America.”

“We’re two months into this lockdown. The economy is down 4 or 5 percent. Fourteen percent of Americans are unemployed. People have had it!” exclaimed Robinson.    

Robinson wondered about the rationale for maintaining lockdowns across the country, noting that initially the lockdowns were put in place to make sure the nation’s hospitals would not be overwhelmed caring for COVID-19 patients.

“In the backs of people’s (minds) is this idea that somehow we can eradicate the disease if we just stay locked down,” said Dr. Bhattacharya. “That is not possible.”


  coronavirus, covid-19, elderly, hoover institute, jayanta bhattacharya, lockdowns, pandemic, peter robinson, stanford university, vaccine

News

Chicago Catholic group blasts Cupich’s plan for churches during coronavirus: ‘betrayal of Christ’

Cardinal Cupich's plan has 'yielded the authority of the Church and subjugated the primacy of her worship to laws of man,' they say.
Mon May 18, 2020 - 4:08 pm EST
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By Stephen Kokx

CHICAGO, Illinois, May 18, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — A group of Chicago Catholics has issued a statement strongly criticizing Cardinal Blase Cupich’s government-approved plan to re-open Catholic churches in his archdiocese.

The St. Charles Borromeo Society, founded just weeks ago, refers to his directives as “insidious” and a “betrayal of Christ.”

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Prayerful protestors outside Holy Name Cathedral, Chicago, Illinois.

Cupich issued his plan to re-open churches earlier this week. Public Masses in the Archdiocese had been cancelled since mid-March. The St. Charles Borromeo Society has been holding prayer vigils outside Holy Name Cathedral on Fridays starting at 12:00pm for the last month. The group, which has demanded that churches be considered “essential” during the coronavirus outbreak, reached out to Cupich previously so they could discuss ideas on how to re-open churches safely and quickly but were turned away by his office. 

In his announcement letter Wednesday, Cupich says his plan was made in conjunction with the office of Illinois’ pro-abortion Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker.

“We should also be motivated to cooperate with public safety norms, given our reverence for life and human dignity,” Cupich stated. “Surely, there have been moments in history when governments and rulers have persecuted Christians and banned their public worship. This is not one of them.”

The plan calls for a two-phased re-opening of churches in the archdiocese. A “certification of readiness” and “ongoing discussions with pastors, health care professionals and civil authorities” will guide the process, Cupich announced. Masses will have a 10-person limit early on with the possiblity of more in the future.

Lisa Bergman, one of the co-founders of the St. Charles Borromeo Society, wholeheartedly rejected the guidelines, especially the certification plan, calling Cupich’s remarks laced with “secular wisdom.”

“Cardinal Cupich has blithely yielded the Authority of the Church and subjugated the primacy of her worship to laws of man which are being successfully challenged by other denominations," her statement reads. 

“In doing so, he replaces what has been heroically defended for thousands of years with the absurd perception that the Mass and the Sacraments are less necessary and more potentially dangerous than grocery stores, gas stations, hardware stores, take-out restaurants, laundries, the postal service, and construction trades, all of which are having no trouble observing CDC regulations.”

“This monstrous triple betrayal of Christ and His Church, from beginning to end, normalizes the narrative that the Church is secondary and must abase itself as though it were merely a place of recreation,” Bergman continued.

Read the St. Charles Borromeo Society’s statement in full below:

It is crucial for all Catholics to be made aware of the new guidelines that have recently been set forth for the reopening of churches in the Archdiocese of Chicago. They represent nothing less than a triple betrayal of Christ and His Church, because they institutionalize what has till now been merely implied: the narrative that the Church is secondary and must abase itself as though it were merely a place of recreation.  

With the stroke of a pen, Cardinal Cupich has blithely yielded the Authority of the Church and subjugated the primacy of her worshipto laws of man which are being successfully challenged by other denominations. In doing so, he replaces what has been heroically defended for thousands of years with the absurd perception that the Mass and the Sacraments are less necessary and more potentially dangerousthan grocery stores, gas stations, hardware stores, take-out restaurants, laundries, the postal service, and construction trades, all of which are having no trouble observing CDC regulations. 

His second and more insidious betrayal lies in the fact that none of these essential business, nor any other diocese, has been subjected to any official certification process in order to open. Why on earth would we place less trust in the Church than all of these?  

Note carefully that the government is not the one forcing a certification process on our churches. Cardinal Cupich has taken this upon himself, circumventing any legal recourse the laity might have for relief from this inequitable policy. What could he possibly stand to gain by such a self-punitive plan? Could it be because it gives him an unchecked power to grant or revoke this certification according to his tastes?  Anyone who doubts this possibility would do well to consider the cases of Father Frank Phillips or Father Paul Kalchik, or the church in South Dakota whose doors he locked during the Easter Triduum. 

Cupich’s third betrayal is his thin veneer of self-righteousness which undermines the true virtue of our Church. Secular wisdom abounds in his introduction to these new policies, and the entire Gospel is ignored while we are admonished about being “our brother’s keeper.” This gaffe is not unusual; most of us will recall his ”rabbit hole” episode. I suppose he never stopped to realize that this phrase was Cain’s sarcastic way of deflecting his own guilt for murdering his brother—simply because God had favored Abel’s sacrifice over his own.  

Ironically, these insidious policies were announced on the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, who appeared to three children in Portugal at a time when the government was doing its best to stamp out the “superstition” of religion. After months of apparitions, Our Lady proved herself with the Miracle of the Sun, which was witnessed by over 30,000 people.

Why is this ironic? Because Our Lady came to warn the world that, despite His great mercy, God would not hold back forever the punishment we deserve for our countless sins and offenses against Him. With tears in her eyes, she begged us to offer reparation,describing the tribulations that lay in store if her warning were ignored.

Where is this message today? Where is the voice of the Church in the midst of this crisis, calling for reparation for our sins and offenses, lest we suffer further chastisement?  Where is Her care of souls?

In place of the call for reparation, the representatives of our Church insist that this worldwide scourge cannot possibly be a punishment from God. Rather, it is likely a result of our offenses against “Mother Earth”…and prayer is really nothing more than wishful thinking. Thus refusing to humble ourselves before God’s judgment, we rush to humble ourselves before man’s.

Amen I say to you, unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 18:3) Children trust. Sheep trust. We have a profound need to trust our Shepherds. But Christ the Good Shepherd himself warned us to beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing: “By their fruits you shall know them.” When the fruit of the Shepherds is distrust, hubris and betrayal, it becomes the duty of the sheep to recognize these signs and act accordingly.

The fool hath said in his heart: There is no God. They are corrupt, and are become abominable in their ways: there is none that doth good, no not one.” (Ps 13:1)


  blase cupich, cardinal cupich, catholic, chicago, chicago catholics, lisa bergman, st. charles borromeo society

News

Trump’s plan to fast-track coronavirus vaccines raises serious moral, safety issues: pro-life experts

'Operation Warp Speed' will rush vaccine development, raising concerns about ethics, safety, and efficacy.
Mon May 18, 2020 - 3:53 pm EST
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Doug Mainwaring Doug Mainwaring Follow Doug
By Doug Mainwaring

PETITION: No to mandatory vaccination for the coronavirus! Sign the petition here.

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 18, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – President Donald Trump unveiled an ambitious plan on Friday to fast-track the development and distribution of a coronavirus vaccine by January 2021, tapping experts and resources in science, medicine, the military, and the private sector.

However, experts told LifeSiteNews that the plan raises serious ethical and safety questions which are of grave importance not only to pro-life citizens, but to everyone.  

A new ‘Manhattan Project’

The president described the plan, dubbed “Operation Warp Speed,” as a new “Manhattan Project,” which will bring together “the best of American industry and innovation, the full resources of the United States government, and the excellence and precision of the United States military.”

“Its objective is to finish developing and then to manufacture and distribute a proven coronavirus vaccine as fast as possible,” he explained. “In addition, it will continue accelerating the development of diagnostics and breakthrough therapies.”

Trump said the government will speed up the process by investing in manufacturing the vaccines before they meet regulatory approvals. “This will eliminate any unnecessary delay and enable us to begin providing Americans with a proven vaccine the day our scientists say, ‘We’re ready, we got it.’”

He said his administration has already narrowed the field of possible vaccine candidates from 100 to 14. LifeSiteNews has asked the White House to identify the 14 candidates but has yet to receive a reply.  

Moral and safety issues with fast-tracked vaccines

Of towering concern for many pro-life Americans regarding the vaccines under rushed development is whether or not the drugs in question have been derived from aborted fetal cells. 

Unfortunately, Trump – who has been hailed as the “most pro-life president in history” – gave no indication during his presentation that his administration would explore only morally acceptable, non-abortion related vaccines. 

Because the list of 14 vaccines being fast-tracked has not been made available, the public is unaware if moral issues might stand in the way of millions of pro-life individuals receiving any drug which might become the finalist in “Operation Warp Speed.”  

The pro-life group Children of God for Life has published a helpful list of all the COVID-19 vaccines in development, identifying which are morally produced and which are derived from aborted fetal cell lines.

Yet even if potential vaccines derived from aborted fetal cells were to be eliminated from contention in the race to combat the virus, issues of safety and efficacy remain. 

A new vaccine is deemed to be “safe” for use by the general public if it doesn’t make test subjects sick, either with the disease it is meant to ward off or through serious side effects.  

Sixty years ago, the drug thalidomide was prescribed to pregnant mothers to prevent morning sickness without having first undergone adequate testing, and produced disastrous results.  

Thalidomide had previously been used to treat leprosy, but the drug’s manufacturer claimed it had found that it also helped alleviate nausea and vomiting for pregnant moms.  

While a near disaster was prevented in the United States thanks to a Food and Drug Administration medical watchdog’s demand for better evidence of the drug’s safety from the manufacturer, thousands of babies were born in Europe with severe birth defects – arms and legs missing with hands and feet projecting directly from the shoulders and hips – before the drug was withdrawn for use by pregnant women. 

While the drug evidently did help with morning sickness, it produced tragic unintended consequences.   

“Efficacy” has to do with demonstrating that a new vaccine actually does inoculate people against the disease its manufacturer hopes it will combat.   

This usually begins with animal testing before moving on to human trials. Developing a vaccine at warp speed – a term borrowed from Star Trek for moving faster than the speed of light – will involve omitting crucial steps.  

“Some of these vaccines which are being fast tracked by the FDA, and being pushed politically, are being fast tracked without being subject to any previous animal efficacy or safety trials,” Dr. Alan Moy, Vice President of the John Paul II Medical Research Institute, told LifeSiteNews.

“That means that if a patient gets vaccinated and subsequently gets exposed to COVID-19, he or she could become much more sick than if he or she had not been vaccinated,” continued Dr. Moy. “It’s a huge issue.” 

In order to ameliorate such tragic outcomes, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are reportedly in talks about how to proceed with quickly performing “challenge trials” which use human volunteers instead of animal subjects to test the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines.    

Volunteers would be given the vaccine in development and would then be exposed to the disease under study.  

A polarizing debate has erupted among medical researchers about this type of vaccine trial, which is usually only conducted if there is some proven treatment already in existence.

Some politicians, anxious to find a cure as quickly as possible, are backing the idea of challenge trials.   

“Our situation in this pandemic is analogous to war, in which there is a long tradition of volunteers risking their health and lives on dangerous missions for which they understand the risks and are willing to do so in order to help save the lives of others,” 35 U.S. House lawmakers wrote to the FDA last month.   

Renowned vaccinologist Stanley Plotkin and bioethicist Arthur Caplan are also backing the idea, writing in the journal Vaccine that the trial process “normally takes months to years, during which [the coronavirus] will infect and possibly kill millions. Acceleration of that standard process is necessary.”

In a statement to The Hill, FDA spokesman Michael Felberbaum last month seemed to be opposed to the notion of proceeding at “warp speed,” warning that “human challenge studies used to develop a COVID-19 vaccine may present ethical and feasibility issues that can be avoided with the use of animal models.”

Jeffrey Kahn, director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, told The Hill he did not see how an institutional review board that oversees research would approve a human challenge trial for the coronavirus. 

“Consent can only do so much work,” he said, raising the hypothetical of whether it would be ethical to take out someone’s heart and replace it with an experimental device simply because the person consented, according to The Hill’s report. 

“You can only move science so fast,” Dr. Moy told LifeSiteNews. “You can have a vaccine ready by the end of the year, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to work and it doesn’t mean the vaccine is going to be safe.” 

Deborah Vinnedge, founder and President of Children of God for Life, echoed Dr. Moy’s concerns, noting that omitting clinical trials will leave a lot of important questions unanswered before unleashing a hastily developed vaccine on the public, with possible disastrous consequences.  

There is “potential harm to millions of people if a future vaccine is not tested properly,” she said.  

Military mobilization 

“Operation Warp Speed is making the necessary preparations to distribute these life-saving treatments at scale, so that millions of Americans will immediately have access to them,” Trump said Friday. “This includes ramping up production of supplies needed for distribution such as cold chain storage, glass vials, needles, syringes, and more.”

“When a vaccine is ready, the U.S. government will deploy every plane, truck, and soldier required to help distribute it to the American people as quickly as possible,” declared the president.

“We have the mightiest military in the long history of humankind. We have the best and most devoted workers ever to walk the face of the Earth. And now we’re combining all of these amazing strengths for the most aggressive vaccine project in history,” he said.

Amid wide concern over governments’ curtailing of basic freedoms in response to the pandemic, many have feared the possibility that vaccination for the virus could be made mandatory. In just one week, over 430,000 people signed a LifeSiteNews petition addressed to world leaders opposing a mandatory coronavirus vaccination. 

After President Trump briefly introduced the idea of mobilizing the military to help deploy the new vaccines, some were concerned that this hinted that the drug would be forcibly administered. Earlier this week, one website asked, “what will you do when they come to your door, and tell you it’s mandatory?” 

However, President Trump addressed such concerns on Friday, saying that the new vaccine is for those “who want to get it. Not everyone is going to want to get it.”

While none of the experts LifeSiteNews spoke with were concerned about forced vaccinations for the general population, Dr. Moy wondered if members of the military might be required to take the COVID-19 vaccination.   

“What if a soldier is Catholic or otherwise pro-life and they don’t want to take the vaccine?” asked Moy. “What will be done to them? Will they be allowed to exercise their moral conscience? Will they be kicked out of the military?”  

Dr. Moy suggested that Canadian citizens might face stronger pressure from their government to be vaccinated than U.S. citizens will face.

When Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked by reporters April 28 whether a coronavirus would be mandatory, he said, "As to what sort of vaccination protocols will be in place, we still have a fair bit of time to reflect on that in order to get it right.” 

The danger of politicizing an infectious disease

In view of the herculean effort now being undertaken, Deborah Vinnedge worries about “the loss of medical autonomy of our own bodies and the loss of freedom,” if an untested vaccine is urged upon the population.

Most of all, Vinnedge is concerned there will be fear-mongering during a presidential election year, and that a “serious health issue” will be “turned into a political issue.” 

The possibility that COVID-19 might be turned into a political football horrifies Vinnedge.  

Pitting Republicans against Democrats over a health issue like this at this time would be  “sinister,” she said.

The president named Dr. Mocef Slaoui, a world renowned immunologist who has helped create 14 new vaccines, as Chief Scientist heading Operation Warp Speed. 

Four Star General Guss Perna, who as the current commander of the U.S. Army Materiel Command is an expert in logistics, is Operation Warp Speed’s chief operating officer. 


  aborted fetal cell lines, abortion, coronavirus, coronavirus vaccine, vaccinations, vaccine

News

Facebook announces progress in developing AI to silence ‘hate speech’

The social media platform says it now detects and removes 88.8 percent of what it considers 'hate speech.'
Mon May 18, 2020 - 3:36 pm EST
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By Calvin Freiburger

May 18, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Facebook recently announced a new set of advances in development of artificial intelligence systems to police “hateful” conduct on its platform, despite the social media giant’s checkered history of algorithm-based content moderation flagging mainstream speech.

Facebook claims in a May 12 blog post that its current AI “proactively detects 88.8 percent of the hate speech content we remove,” and that it “took action on 9.6 million pieces of content for violating our hate speech policies” in just the first three months of 2020. This was made possible through giving their technology a “deeper semantic understanding of language, so our systems detect more subtle and complex meanings”; and “broadening how our tools understand content, so that our systems look at the image, text, comments, and other elements holistically.”

The post goes on to detail the challenges of programming AI to capture the various nuances of human communication, and the technical aspects of bringing their systems closer to doing so without actual humans reading the content in question.

“Facebook has established clear rules on what constitutes hate speech, but it is challenging to detect hate speech in all its forms; across hundreds of languages, regions, and countries; and in cases where people are deliberately trying to avoid being caught,” the company says. “As we improve our systems to address these challenges, it’s crucial to get it right. Mistakenly classifying content as hate speech can mean preventing people from expressing themselves and engaging with others. Counterspeech — a response to hate speech that may include the same offensive terms — is particularly challenging to classify correctly because it can look so similar to the hate speech itself.”

“These challenges are far from solved, and our systems will never be perfect,” Facebook concludes. “But by breaking new ground in research, we hope to make further progress in using AI to detect hate speech, remove it quickly, and keep people safe on our platforms.”

However, the premises that social media users need to be “kept safe” from offensive speech, or that efforts to do so are a net positive, remain hotly disputed.

For years, Facebook has been criticized for suppressing or otherwise discriminating against many right-of-center pages and posts, while multiple analyses have found that Facebook’s algorithm changes instituted at the beginning of 2018 disproportionately impacted conservative politicians and websites. Last year, an insider revealed that Facebook “deboosts” traffic to several mainstream conservative sites.

Facebook often reverses such censorship actions after sufficient media coverage pressures them to do so, insisting they were isolated errors rather than part of a willful pattern. Still, such incidents continue to happen, and conservatives say they do not trust Facebook’s content Oversight Board, which is largely staffed by left-wing figures, to protect their freedom of speech.

Most recently, Facebook has made itself an arbiter of “misinformation” and “harmful” speech related to the COVID-19 outbreak, with critics objecting that Facebook has crossed the line from merely quashing objectively false claims to censoring legitimate protest organizing and factual information that conflicts with the interests of the World Health Organization, which has been accused of covering for the Chinese government’s complicity in letting COVID-19 spread across the world.


  artificial intelligence, big tech, facebook, free speech, hate speech, social media, social media censorship

News

USAID head to UN Secretary General: Stop peddling abortion as COVID-19 relief

'The UN should not use this crisis as an opportunity to advance access to abortion as an essential service.'
Mon May 18, 2020 - 1:45 pm EST
Featured Image
shutterstock.com
Stefano Gennarini, J.D.
By Stefano Gennarini J.D.

NEW YORK, May 18, 2020 (C-Fam) – The head of the U.S. Agency for International Development told the UN Secretary General to stop treating abortion as “essential” humanitarian relief during the COVID-19 pandemic. The letter is unprecedented in its direct criticism of the UN bureaucracy’s promotion of abortion as humanitarian aid.

Acting Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development John Barsa sent UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres a letter in which he corrected Guterres for “cynically placing the provision of ‘sexual and reproductive health services’ on the same level of importance as food-insecurity, essential health care, malnutrition, shelter, and sanitation.”

In the letter, Barsa asked Guterres to remove references to “sexual and reproductive health” from the UN’s COVID-19 policies and to “drop the provision of abortion as an essential component of the UN’s priorities to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The top U.S. aid official’s criticism was revealed today in an unprecedented letter to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. The letter is an answer to the UN’s Global Humanitarian Response Plan for the COVID-19 pandemic, published by Guterres last month, and the appeal he has made for nearly $7 billion to fund it.

“The UN should not use this crisis as an opportunity to advance access to abortion as an essential service,” warned Barsa, rebuking Guterres for promoting “the widespread distribution of abortion-inducing drugs and abortion supplies, and for the promotion of abortion in local country settings.”

Barsa said the UN should focus on “life-saving interventions” and the “most urgent, concrete needs” instead. He cited providing “essential healthcare” and addressing “food shortages” as examples.

“To achieve global unity toward this goal, it is essential that the UN’s response to the pandemic avoid creating controversy,” Barsa insisted, explaining that the term “sexual and reproductive health” is controversial and ambiguous. UN agencies should be guided by “clear language and take clear action to address the real needs of vulnerable people around the world without promoting abortion” Barsa wrote.

The USAID chief highlighted the $650.7 million in foreign aid the Trump administration has released to fight the pandemic, of which $45.3 million went to UN agencies. This is in addition to the $3.5 billion the U.S. contributed as a matter of course to UN agencies in 2019.

“The UN should not intimidate or coerce Member States that are committed to the right to life,” Barsa wrote. “To use the COVID-19 pandemic as a justification to pressure governments to change their laws is an affront to the autonomy of each society to determine its own national policies on health care.”

The letter comes at a key moment in UN negotiations over resolutions bearing on the COVID-19 pandemic. The Economic and Social Council of the United Nations is negotiating an annual resolution on humanitarian work of the UN system adding focused interventions on the pandemic.

The UN Secretary General is asking UN member states to endorse his plan and fund it in the humanitarian resolution.

The General Assembly is also negotiating two resolutions about the effect of the pandemic on women, which insert abortion-related policies into the UN’s response to the pandemic, including UN programming related to “gender-based violence” that includes abortion.

The purpose of the letter, sources told the Friday Fax, was to be public and widely distributed among member States. It is not clear if the letter will be circulated as a document of the General Assembly by the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Kelly Craft.

Reprinted with permission from C-FAM.


  abortion, antonio guterres, coronavirus, john barsa, united nations, usaid

News

Canadians want sex-selective abortions banned, MP tells Virtual March for Life

'This is a growing problem in Canada...it needs to be addressed.'
Mon May 18, 2020 - 1:29 pm EST
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MP Cathay Wagantall www.cathaywagantall.ca
Lianne Laurence Lianne Laurence Follow Lianne
By Lianne Laurence

Tell Trudeau Liberals: Don't discriminate against Christians on COVID-19 relief funding! Sign the petition here.

TORONTO, May 16, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Saskatchewan Member of Parliament Cathay Wagantall introduced a bill to ban sex-selective abortion because the majority of Canadians are “absolutely against” the practice, she said in an interview during Thursday’s Virtual March for Life and Rally.

According to a poll in the National Post, “84 percent of Canadians said that this should be illegal,” Wagantall explained.

“So in the environment we’re in right now, where our country is so divided… this, I felt was an opportunity for us to work together across the whole nation on an issue that clearly the majority of Canadians agree with,” she said.

Wagantall was among many prominent pro-life guests and one of nine Conservative MPs who sent video greetings during an online rally on day four of last week’s virtual March for Life organized by Campaign Life Coalition (CLC), Canada’s national pro-life political lobbying group.

The March for Life is Canada’s largest annual pro-life event, but coronavirus pandemic restrictions compelled Campaign Life to move the 23rd annual March online.

The event marks May 14, 1969, the day Pierre Trudeau’s Liberal government passed an omnibus bill legalizing abortion under certain circumstances. The Supreme Court of Canada struck down that law in January 1988, leaving Canada with no legislation on abortion. 

Most Canadians are “appalled” when they learn this is the case, Wagantall told Campaign Life Coalition’s Josie Luetke.

Canadians are also shocked to learn sex-selective abortion is happening in Canada.

“There’s been research done in the last three, four years specifically in this regard and the Canadian Medical Association has come out saying actually this is a growing problem in Canada and that it needs to be addressed,” she said.

Her Bill C-233, introduced February 26, will make it a crime for any physician to knowingly carry out an abortion solely because of the sex of the unborn baby.

Wagantall also introduced Cassie and Molly’s Law in 2016, which sought legal protection for unborn victims of crime, but it was voted down by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s then-majority government.

“The advantage I have with this bill is that, you know, our government touts that they are about equality, equality between men and women, boys and girls, and so that’s the premise of this,”  Wagantall said. 

“If you are truly about equality and not discrimination against young babies in the womb that are girls, then you have to support this, and Canadians are calling on us to support it.” 

Campaign Life’s Luetke said she was looking forward to “our feminist prime minister trying to defend his position on...sex-selective” abortions. 

She urged pro-life advocates to sign the Campaign Life petition in support of Bill C-233, here. She also asked them to write to their MPs “and point out this bill has popular support. We should be able to say this type of abortion is abhorrent, at the very least.”

Eight Conservative MPs also sent greetings to the Virtual March for Life.

Arnold Viersen, MP for Peace River-Westlock, Alberta, pointed out that 300 preborn children are killed every day in Canada. “Who will speak for the preborn? You will and I will…There are more pro-life MPs than ever before. If we work together, we will be able to protect the preborn.”

Derek Sloan, MP for Hastings-Lennox-Addington, Ontario, who is running for Conservative leader, promised that if “elected as leader, there will be debates, there will be discussion, there will be votes on all aspects and issues surrounding abortion.” He told pro-life advocates: “You are doing the right thing to march today for life, you’re doing the right thing to stand up to those who are unable to stand up for themselves.” Sloan also talked with CLC political operations director Jack Fonseca about his 12-point pro-life plan (see related story here).

Garnet Genuis, MP for Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, spoke about the need for religious freedoms to be respected. “Diversity is built on a foundation of freedom,” he said, but “we see threats to freedom of conscience and religion in government today… Members of Parliament need to stand up for those principles.”

Rosemarie Falk, MP for Battlefords-Lloydminster, Saskatchewan, encouraged everyone to keep the faith and stand firm in their convictions. “Thank you to each of you for your commitment to the sanctity of life, from conception to natural death. And every minute in between, life has value….Together we can shift culture and change the narrative.”

Michael Barrett, MP for Leeds-Greenville-Thousands Islands and Rideau Lakes, British Columbia, pointed out that “the dignity of the human person must be the foundational block of the truly right and just society. And I ask you to stand with us in support of the right for life for every Canadian from conception to natural death.”

Ted Falk, MP for Provencher, Manitoba, spoke about the tragedy of abortions. “In any given year some 100,000 Canadian lives are ended prematurely in the womb. Their deaths are not the result or threat or disease but of the unwillingness of Canada’s leaders to protect the rights of unborn Canadians.”

Tamara Jansen, MP for Cloverdale-Langley City, British Columbia, said she was honored to be a part of the march. “We need to keep going and ensure that our country has a robust palliative care system so that all Canadians can live with dignity till their natural death.”

Kelly Block, MP for Carlton Trail-Eagle Creek, Saskatchewan, spoke about how the march continues despite the pandemic. “It continues because we all care deeply about the value and dignity of each human life, from conception to natural death.”

Anthony Murdoch contributed to this report.


  abortion, cathay wagantall, sex-selective abortion, virtual march for life

News

Trudeau gov’t has similarities with China’s communist regime: Former Canadian ambassador to China

Both regimes show 'fundamental dishonesty' and disrespect basic freedoms, David Mulroney said.
Mon May 18, 2020 - 12:56 pm EST
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Trudeau and Chinese President Xi Jinping Wu Hong - Pool/Getty Images
Lianne Laurence Lianne Laurence Follow Lianne
By Lianne Laurence

TORONTO, May 18, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — The “fundamental dishonesty” of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s governing is reminiscent of how China’s Communist regime operates, says a former Canadian ambassador to China.

David Mulroney told Canada’s Virtual Rally and March for Life on Thursday that two things strike him about Trudeau’s actions.

“One is the fundamental dishonesty, and just as with the Chinese, where they use euphemisms, they call things by other names to pretend they’re not doing what they’re actually doing, we see the same thing here in Canada,” said Mulroney.

“So that under rubric of the ‘feminist foreign policy,’ all kinds of things are happening, including things that are very detrimental, of course, to…women and girls,” Mulroney told Campaign Life Coalition’s Josie Luetke in a live interview.

His second concern is the Trudeau government’s “radical attack on freedom of speech, freedom of belief, and freedom of religion.”

Mulroney noticed that particularly when the Liberals required employers to attest they “were ideologically compliant with the government’s policies when it came to abortion and when it came to ideas about gender” in order to get summer job grants, he said. 

“I never thought that I would see that,” he added. “I’m much more worried about it now and I see it coming from our own government.”

Canada’s ambassador to China from 2009 to 2012, and president of St. Michael’s University from 2015 to 2018, Mulroney was among a roster of prominent pro-life guests featured during the three-hour Virtual March for Life organized by Canada’s national pro-life political lobbying group Campaign Life Coalition. 

The March for Life is Canada’s biggest annual pro-life event and marks the legalization of abortion on May 14, 1969. Since then an estimated four million unborn children have been killed by abortion in Canada.

Global abortion industry pushed China on ‘one-child’ policy

This year Campaign Life hosted its first ever Virtual March for Life with the 23rd annual march cancelled because of coronavirus pandemic restrictions.

Indeed, the pandemic, which originated in Wuhan, China, has caused people around the world “to realize how dangerous the Chinese Communist Party is,” Luetke observed.

Confirming the claims of many critics, a leaked dossier by the “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance — the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand — found that President Xi Jinping’s regime covered up the outbreak and lied about human-to-human transmission of the virus, thus allowing its catastrophic spread around the globe.

The report also blasted the World Health Organization (WHO) for uncritically repeating Beijing’s false claims.

Mulroney spoke to Luetke about China’s infamous “one-child” population control program, and the state of religious freedom there.

“What I noticed in China, and unfortunately I never thought I’d have to say this but I notice it in Canada, too, is that there’s such a fundamental connection between respect for religious belief, religious freedom, having a robust religious culture and a defense of life,” he said.

“And China, unfortunately, offers neither.”

Just as Canada “opened its door to abortion in 1969, the Chinese began to build their family planning and abortion campaigns in the 1970s,” Mulroney said.

The “shocking” thing was that “China was seen as the big objective of the international abortion lobby and industry,” and foreign advisors — Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, United Nations, International Planned Parenthood — influenced Beijing in implementing its brutal one-child policy, which by the 1980s was “at full steam,” he said.

One-child policy leads to sex-selective abortion

“They were aborting massive numbers of children every year and the international backers of this like to tell people that it was voluntary, that it was helping China build its economy. It was nothing of the kind,” observed Mulroney. 

“And when finally stories began to emerge of coerced abortion, of forced abortion, of the violence done against women, and of course, against millions and millions of fetuses, the international lobby got very silent.”

There was also silence about the “growing recognition of the huge impact of sex-selective abortion” which has “basically blighted China’s economic progress. It’s now a country with a statistically abnormally large population of men,” Mulroney said.

“It’s led to things like the trafficking of women, the importation of brides,” and the creation of “these very sad families, where you have a husband and a wife, possibly one child, supporting their parents and grandparents,” he added.

“So it’s been a disaster for China that no one will talk about,” he said. “Canadian supporters of abortion did not want to hear it.”

Moreover, China “shows no signs” of learning from this, and is one of the countries encouraging an “international campaign against life” — as is Canada’s government, he said.

Trudeau’s then-foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, said in 2017 that their government puts abortion “at the core of our foreign policy,” and the Liberals have pledged $7.1 billion by 2030 to promote and provide abortion in the developing world as part of its international aid.


  abortion, china, china's one-child policy, david mulroney, forced abortion, one child policy, trudeau government, trudeau liberals

News

Last chance to register for 2020 Rome Life Forum: Coronavirus in light of Fatima

This year's online virtual conference will be held Wednesday, May 20th through Friday, May 22nd.
Mon May 18, 2020 - 12:33 pm EST
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LifeSiteNews staff
By LifeSiteNews staff

May 8, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — LifeSiteNews in conjunction with Voice of the Family is hosting the 2020 Rome Life Forum online as a virtual conference for free starting Wednesday, May 20 and running through Friday, May 22. Click here to register or go to www.RomeLifeForum.com.

The theme of this year’s conference, the seventh such undertaking, is “Coronavirus in Light of Fatima: A Tragedy and A Source of Hope.” Speakers will focus on whether the COVID-19 pandemic could be part of the chastisement, preceding the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, that Our Blessed Mother spoke about in Fatima in 1917 (talks listed below).

The Rome Life Forum was started in 2014, and has hosted some of the most prominent clergy and lay Catholics in the world. For LifeSite’s coverage of previous Rome Life Forums, click the following: 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014.

This year’s conference, which will feature a question and answer period with each speaker, will be streamed online at no cost beginning May 20th at 12:00pm EST. For more information and a full conference schedule, and to submit your questions to the speakers, visit www.RomeLifeForum.com

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Cardinal Raymond Burke, Prefect Emeritus, Apostolic Signatura, “Fulfilling the explicit requests of Our Lady of Fatima”
  • Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Astana, Kazakhstan, “Repenting of the sins against the Holy Eucharist”
  • Professor Roberto de Mattei, Lepanto Foundation, “Divine interventions in human history”
  • John-Henry Westen, Co-founder and editor-in-chief LifeSite News, “The pontificate of Pope Francis – why should we expect a divine intervention today?”
  • Fr. Linus Clovis, Spiritual Director and Chairman, Family Life International, “Reforming our lives according to Our Lady’s call in Fatima.”
  • John Smeaton, Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, Moderator
  • Fr. Serafino Lanzetta, Catholic author and pastor in the Diocese of Portsmouth, UK, “Co-redemption and Marian consecration in the light of the Fatima message for our times”

The conference schedule is as follows:

Day 1, Wednesday, May 20

  • 12:00pm, Introduction to Day 1, John Smeaton
  • 12:20pm, Fulfilling the explicit requests of Our Lady of Fatima, Cardinal Burke
  • 1:00pm, Co-redemption and Marian consecration in the light of the Fatima message for our times, Fr. Serafino Lanzetta
  • 1:40pm, Q&A with Cardinal Burke and Fr. Lanzetta
  • 2:00pm, Concluding remarks, John Smeaton

Day 2, Thursday, May 21

  • 12:00pm, Introduction to Day 2, John Smeaton
  • 12:10pm, Divine interventions in human history, Professor Roberto de Mattei
  • 12:50pm, The pontificate of Pope Francis – why should we expect a divine intervention today?, John-Henry Westen
  • 1:30pm, Q&A with Professor de Mattei and John-Henry Westen
  • 1:50pm, Concluding remarks, John Smeaton

Day 3, Friday, May 22

  • 12:00pm, Introduction to Day 3, John Smeaton
  • 12:10pm, Reforming our lives according to Our Lady’s call in Fatima, Fr. Linus Clovis
  • 12:50pm, Repenting of the sins against the Holy Spirit, Bishop Athanasius Schneider
  • 1:30pm, Q&A with Bishop Schneider and Fr. Clovis
  • 1:50pm, Concluding remarks, John Smeaton
  • 2:00 – 3:00pm, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament (tentative)

To watch the 2020 Rome Life Forum, click here to register or go to www.RomeLifeForum.com

If you’d like to make sure this year’s and future Rome Life Forum’s are able to be held, please click here to donate: https://give.lifesitenews.com/sustainlife


  2020 rome life forum, catholic, chastisement, coronavirus, our lady of fatima, rome life forum

News

Trump pledges to remedy ‘illegal situation’ of big tech censorship

'The Administration is working to remedy this illegal situation,' the president tweeted.
Mon May 18, 2020 - 10:18 am EST
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Steve Jalsevac / LifeSiteNews
Martin Bürger Follow Martin
By Martin Bürger

TELL VIMEO: Stop silencing conservatives and Christians! Sign the petition here.

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 18, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – President Donald Trump has called out the “Radical Left” for its influence over various social media based in the United States. At the same time, he vowed his administration would work on improving the situation.

“The Radical Left is in total command & control of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google,” Trump tweeted on May 16. “The Administration is working to remedy this illegal situation.”

Trump’s tweet was sent out in response to a video of a speech on tech censorship, given by conservative political commentator Michelle Malkin. The president commented, “Thank you Michelle!”

Ironically, the tweet on tech censorship, originally put out by America First Clips, was removed by Twitter after Trump retweeted it.

“Twitter has DELETED the video clip you RT’ed of my remarks against Silicon Valley censorship this morning,” Malkin informed the President via Twitter. “OUT OF CONTROL. The situation must be remedied ASAP.”

America First Clips subsequently uploaded the speech once again.

“I’ve witnessed friends and allies stripped of their platforms, and their reputations, and their voices,” Malkin said in the video. “Some can no longer communicate on social media.”

She added that tech censorship often translates into the real world, where conservatives are no longer allowed to “gather peacefully” at conferences, or do business with their banks. “There is no more safe space,” Malkin warned.

It remains to be seen whether the Trump administration will finally take action on the question of tech censorship. 

In May 2019, the White House asked Americans to tell their stories of free speech under attack.

“No matter your views, if you suspect political bias has caused you to be censored or silenced online, we want to hear about it,” the White House tweeted.

In August 2019, Politico revealed that the Trump administration was preparing an executive order “that would address allegations of anti-conservative bias by social media companies.”

Politico’s sources declined to talk about “the contents of the order, which one person cautioned has already taken many different forms and remains in flux. But its existence, and the deliberations surrounding it, are evidence that the administration is taking a serious look at wielding the federal government’s power against Silicon Valley.”

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic this spring, tech giants like Twitter and YouTube, which is part of Google, have implemented a number of new measures they claim are needed to stop the spread of what they consider false information regarding the virus.

Last week, Twitter began to attach warning labels to “some tweets containing disputed or misleading information” in the context of the coronavirus pandemic.

“In serving the public conversation, our goal is to make it easy to find credible information on Twitter and to limit the spread of potentially harmful and misleading content,” Twitter said in a statement. The company introduced “new labels and warning messages that will provide additional context and information.”

Twitter indicated that in the future, “we may use these labels and warning messages to provide additional explanations or clarifications in situations where the risks of harm associated with a tweet are less severe but where people may still be confused or misled by the content.”

The warning labels will send users either to a website curated directly by Twitter and containing more information on whatever the subject of the tweet was, or to an “external trusted source.”

In certain cases, Twitter might not even show a supposedly “harmful and misleading” tweet to users. Instead, it will display a message similar to those warning of potentially “sensitive material.”

“Some or all of the content shared in this tweet conflicts with guidance from public health experts regarding COVID-19,” the new warning message reads. Twitter users can still view the tweet, or they can choose to move along to a “trusted source.”

YouTube, meanwhile, started using fact-check information panels for viewers in the United States, flagging, among other things, what the company deems to be “misinformation” regarding the coronavirus pandemic. The company claimed the fact-check information panels are necessary in order “for viewers to get accurate information during fast-moving events.”

On April 19, Susan Wojcicki, the CEO of YouTube, announced that all content contradicting the Word Health Organization (WHO) on the coronavirus pandemic would be removed from the video streaming platform.

“We also talk about removing information that is problematic,” she said. “Of course, anything that is medically unsubstantiated. So people saying, like, take vitamin C, you know, take turmeric, like, those are – will cure you. Those are the examples of things that would be a violation of our policy.”

She then specified that any content going “against World Health Organization recommendations would be a violation of our policy. And so [removal] is another really important part of our policy.”

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said during an interview in mid-April that he considers protests against stay-at-home orders, which are often planned via Facebook, to be “harmful misinformation” that must be deleted.

While claiming that “it’s important that people can debate policies,” Zuckerberg indicated that there is a limit to how much freedom he will allow Facebook’s users to do this.

“But, you know, more than normal political discourse, I think a lot of the stuff that people are saying that is false around a health emergency like this can be classified as harmful misinformation that has a risk of leading to imminent physical danger and we’ll just take that kind of content down,” he said.

Facebook also introduced an international Oversight Board packed with leftists and those with ties to globalist George Soros, wielding massive power to judge what is acceptable speech.

The Oversight Board was created to “help Facebook answer some of the most difficult questions around freedom of expression online: what to take down, what to leave up, and why.”

Dozens of conservative organizations denounced Facebook’s move.


  censorship, facebook, facebook restriction of free speech, president trump, social media bias, social media censorship, twitter

News

New Jersey woman chokes on her own vomit after abortion complications

Abortions are considered 'essential' in New Jersey as the coronavirus panic continues.
Mon May 18, 2020 - 9:03 am EST
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Cheryl Sullenger
By Cheryl Sullenger

CHERRY HILL, New Jersey, May 18, 2020 (Operation Rescue) — A woman choked on her own vomit during a surgical abortion at the Cherry Hill Women’s Center in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and required emergency transport to the Cooper Medical Center for suspected aspiration pneumonia.

Image

This occurred on May 2, 2020, during a serious COVID-19 outbreak when elective abortions were banned due to a strain on medical resources. Abortions in New Jersey were exempted from the ban.

After the vomiting episode during the abortion, the 35-year old woman suffered a drop in her oxygen levels. Once the abortion was completed, she was placed in a recovery room where her oxygen levels failed to fully recover.

She was not provided supplemental oxygen at the abortion facility.

Pro-life witnesses at the scene recorded the woman being removed from the abortion facility on a gurney. The ambulance had lights flashing, but ran without sirens.

The Cherry Hill Women’s Center is an affiliate of the National Abortion Federation, whose members include some of the most-cited abortion facilities in the nation for violations of health and safety requirements.* It has recently added the more dangerous late-term abortions for “fetal anomalies,” which means it may conduct abortions through all nine months of pregnancy.

“It is ironic that during a time when the nation was shut down in order to save lives from the Coronavirus, this abortion business was allowed to remain open, ending the lives of countless innocent babies, and placing women in danger. This incident took medical resources that were supposed to be reserved for COVID-19 patients,” said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue. “This is just another of hundreds of medical emergencies we have documented at abortion facilities nationwide, and is further evidence that abortion is not safe for women and is fatal to unborn babies.”

Read the CAD printout for this emergency.

*Visit AbortionDocs.org where information about deficiencies at abortion facilities are easily searchable. AbortionDocs.org contains nearly 29,000 documents related to licensing issues, health citations, medical malpractice, criminal cases, and more.

Published with permission from Operation Rescue.


  abortion, coronavirus, national abortion federation, new jersey, phil murphy

Opinion

We can’t let coronavirus fear paralyze our society. Time to resume public Masses

It is highly unlikely that the risk of contracting the coronavirus will be brought to zero. At some point we are going to have to return to our 'normal' lives.
Mon May 18, 2020 - 6:16 pm EST
Featured Image
robert_s / Shutterstock.com
Msgr. Charles Pope Msgr. Charles Pope
By Msgr. Charles Pope

May 18, 2020 (National Catholic Register) — As many of you know, I was seriously ill with a strange, pneumonia-like illness from December through early February. The hacking cough I developed eventually led to torn intercostal muscles, three broken ribs, pleurisy and internal bleeding. I was in pain every time I coughed — which was all too frequently. For four weeks I had to sleep sitting up in a chair.

It took immunosuppressors, four rounds of antibiotics, heavy doses of antihistamines and breathing treatments four times a day to finally bring me back to good health. Thanks be to God and to expert medical help! I provide this background to illustrate that I am not unsympathetic to the pulmonary distress that is the hallmark of COVID-19.

In what follows, I do not argue that we should flip a switch and immediately return to what we called “normal daily life” just a couple of months ago. Further, I am neither an epidemiologist nor an immunologist, and I accept that some degree of protective measures is necessary to protect the vulnerable and to minimize the spread of the disease.

However, I am also concerned about the serious and potentially deadly effects of this unprecedented shutdown. I do not support every action or position of the demonstrators, but I am sympathetic to their essential concern that the “cure should not be worse than the disease.” The lives of those afflicted by or particularly susceptible to the new coronavirus matter, but so do the lives of others who are experiencing mounting losses and struggling to provide for their families.

Many with this concern are demonized and told that they are selfish and don’t care if other people die. This is, of course, an unfair accusation. Those who are calling for a gradual reopening want people to live, too. Living consists of more than having a pulse. Living involves thriving, interacting with others, cultural enrichment. Living involves the dignity of work, contributing our labors and sharing in their fruits. For a Catholic, living means the Holy Mass, receiving the sacraments and gathering for communal worship.

I ask those who support the continuation of the current shutdown to respect, rather than demonize, those of us who think that the balance is too heavily tilted toward safety and that other essential goods are being neglected. If you don’t agree, present your position. Describe your criteria for reopening and how you think it should be managed.

In my opinion, two things are required for individuals and our country in order for us be more disposed to a gradual reopening of the economy and culture. 

First, we must face our fears and accept that illness, suffering and death are a part of life in this world we call “Paradise Lost.” Life is filled with countless risks; we must be sober and prudent but at the same time courageous and accepting. To be cognizant of risks and to try to minimize them is wise but to avoid all risk is neither possible nor healthy.

It is highly unlikely that the risk of contracting the coronavirus will be brought to zero. At some point we are going to have to return to our “normal” lives. The debate is around determining the right time and the acceptable amount of risk given the economic and social cost of continuing to remain locked down.

Even if we were to find a treatment or cure for COVID-19 tomorrow, there are countless other viruses, bacteria, allergens and toxins all around us. God has equipped us with immune systems that do an almost miraculous job of keeping us healthy in the face of a daily onslaught of attacks. For believers, trusting in God’s care and in what he has provided to keep us healthy plays an important part in overcoming our fear. Life has many risks, but our lives remain in God’s hands and we in his care.

This is not a call to recklessly abandon all the measures currently in place to reduce the spread of the virus, but it is a summons to remember that life has many risks, that accepting them is part of our life in this world, and that God is with us through it all.

Second, we have to accept the hard truth that people die. They die of many things, COVID-19 among them. The vast majority of people who get the coronavirus will survive. Some will be only mildly symptomatic, some will be severely ill, and yes, some will die. People will also keep dying every day of heart disease, cancer, from strokes, and in automobile accidents. Each of us is going to die one day, at a time and in a manner that is not of our own choosing.

It is alarming to me as a priest and believer how little we as a Church have had to say about death. Death is a reality, but it is not something we should excessively fear. Christ has conquered death and made it a doorway to the glory of Heaven for the faithful.

St. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians:

Brothers, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you grieve like the rest, who are without hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, we also believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. (1 Thessalonians 4:13–14)

He also wrote this rather well-known passage:

Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O Death, is thy victory? Where, O Death, is thy sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast and immovable. (1 Corinthians 15:55–58)

We all have a natural fear of death, especially the dying process itself, but as Christians we are taught to confront and conquer our fear of death. The grace to do so has been given to us by Christ. Scripture says:

Now since the children have flesh and blood, Christ too shared in their humanity, so that by his death He might destroy him who holds the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. (Hebrews 2:14–15)

Pay attention, fellow believers: Christ has conquered death and summoned us, by his grace, to become free of the fear of death through which the Devil keeps us in bondage.

Death is not the end; it is a birth unto new life. For the faithful Christian, the day of our death is the greatest day of our life. Though we may require some purgation, we leave this world of sorrows and journey to that place of joys unspeakable and glories untold.

It is right that we should grieve the death of every human being, but something far more than grieving is going on in this current situation. What we have today is a gripping fear that so dreads suffering and death that almost everything else must be sacrificed.

Much of this, I am convinced, is because in this increasingly secular world, suffering and death have lost their meaning. Such an attitude is unacceptable for a Christian. Jesus taught us that the cross is a tree of life and that suffering produces glory. He taught us that to truly find our life, we must lose it to this world.

As Christ’s voice in this world, we have been too silent about these truths. We should be summoning people to a courageous stance in the face of suffering and death.

This does not mean reckless risk-taking. I am not advocating the complete, immediate reversal of all safety measures. But the widespread, gripping fear in the face of this virus is unprecedented in my lifetime. I have never seen anything like it. Its worldwide scope tells me that it is demonic in origin, and thus the Church must speak more vigorously to exorcize the demons of fear. Instead we have remained strangely quiet.

As usual, our muting of the Gospel message likely stems from a fear of appearing to be “insensitive.” If we were to speak out against the gripping fear or to suggest that not all of the limitations are necessarily good ideas, we might be accused of not caring if people die! We have allowed this bullying and misrepresentation of our views to silence us. Accepting reasonable safety measures, and making proper distinctions, we must preach the Gospel anyway to a world that is increasingly scornful of the cross and dubious that death has been conquered by Jesus Christ.

It is time to face our fears in this country we once called “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” Some degree of fear and anxiety is understandable, but the paralyzing fear manifest in the news reports and displayed by many Americans is destructive as well as unbecoming.

It is time for prudent, incremental measures to reopen the economy and to resume public Masses. Different regions will open according to their situations, but in all cases it is going to require us to face our fears, master them, and accept that people are going to continue to die of COVID-19 in the months and years ahead (although the vast majority will not). People will also suffer and die from many other causes.

Dear Lord, may those who have died rest in peace. May those who are ill recover. May those who are unemployed due to the shutdown find work. May those deprived of the sacraments soon be restored to them. And may all those who suffer in myriad hidden ways find solace. Calm our fears, Lord, and help us to remember that our life is in your hands. Amen.

Published with permission from the National Catholic Register.


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Top French administrative authority rebukes president, demands reopening of churches

Ironically, the decision is also a reprimand for the French bishops' conference, whose representatives supported the government in its suppression of the Mass.
Mon May 18, 2020 - 8:13 pm EST
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Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent
By Jeanne Smits

May 18, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — This afternoon, the French Council of State (Conseil d’Etat) ordered the prime minister, Edouard Philippe, to modify the decree prohibiting public worship under the sanitary state of emergency within eight days, in a landmark decision that recognizes the specific rights attached to the “fundamental liberty” of public worship. By next week, churches in France should be allowed to organize public Masses and other religious ceremonies, which have been on hold since the second Sunday of Lent because of the COVID-19 pandemic, on the grounds that their prohibition is no longer proportionate to the “war on the coronavirus” declared by President Emmanuel Macron on March 16.

France’s highest administrative authority declared that the right to join a gathering or a reunion in places of worship — and not only that of praying at home or praying individually in such a place of worship — “is an essential component of the freedom of worship,” and curtailing such gatherings is “a grave and manifestly illegal violation” of that freedom.

The decision is a slap in the face for the French government, which has shown the darkest side of its secularism in maintaining strict measures against religious worship, and especially Catholic worship, despite a wide-ranging “deconfinement” that has allowed primary schools, businesses, shops, and most shopping centers as well as libraries and small museums to reopen since May 11.

The decision also reprimands the French bishops and French bishops’ conference, who deliberately refrained from attacking the May 11 decree in the courts. Instead, on May 1, when Prime Minister Philippe, detailing how deconfinement would be organized, offhandedly announced that there would be “no Mass before June 2,” the bishops’ conference’s president, Eric de Moulins-Beaufort, simply remarked: “You can find this decision exaggeratedly cautious, but it still needs to be implemented.”

The May 11 decree went even farther in that it omitted to give a date for the return of public worship.

Four “traditional Mass” institutes under Roman authority — the Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP), the Friends of the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest represented by two canons of the ICKSP, the Institute of the Good Pastor, and the Dominican Fraternity of Saint-Vincent-Ferrier — joined forces to plead for the rights of the faithful.

The Society of St Pius X (FSSPX) also made an emergency recourse, asking in particular for the right to organize outdoor Masses on public or private grounds. The Council of State did not respond definitively to this question.

Lay Catholics were represented by the AGRIF, a French and Christian “anti-defamation league” that, under existing anti-racist laws in France, is fully habilitated to represent the rights of Catholics in the courts. The author of this article had the honor of signing the recourse as one of the AGRIF’s vice presidents, together with Guillaume de Thieulloy, another vice president who runs the French conservative and Catholic news blog “Le Salon beige,” and AGRIF’s president, Bernard Antony, former European M.P. and founder of a Christian cultural center (the Centre Charlier, which launched the now famous Paris-Chartres Pentecost pilgrimage) and of an association that helps persecuted Christians the world over, “Chrétienté-Solidarité.”

The French Christian Democrat political party PCD, as well as a traditionalist group, Civitas, a group of lay Catholics from Metz in the East of France, and Bruno Gollnisch, former European M.P. of the French National Front, also presented separate recourses.

A large number of arguments, varied but often convergent, were presented during the emergency hearing at the Council of State last Friday afternoon.

Any French citizen or group may seize the Council of State in a particular emergency procedure called a “référé-liberté” by which the legality of an executive decision may be challenged.

The applications of the groups and individuals named above were submitted from the 12th to the 14th of May and were given wide publicity. It was immediately made clear by the Council of State that the Friday the 15th hearing would group without merging all the requests concerning Catholics’ demands for the restoration of public worship.

The French bishops could easily have presented their own application at this point, even after having declined invitations to join the procedure in its preparatory stages before the May 11 decree. They did not, despite the strength of the arguments against the continued “confinement” of public Masses.

In an interview with the unofficial daily of the French bishops, La Croix, the spokesman and secretary-general of the bishops’ conference, Fr. Thierry Magnin, reacted “soberly,” writes journalist Arnaud Bevilacqua. It would be more appropriate to call his reaction “aloof.”

Said Fr. Magnin:

We have duly taken note of this order and we think it is fair. In fact, it is in line with a letter that the president of the CEF, Bishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort, sent to the Prime Minister on Friday, May 15. We did not refer the matter to the Council of State, but we wanted to make our position clear. The Council of State fully supports this position. It says that the government has gone too far with the ban. Our position has never been to enter into a wrestling match with the government. That is the whole point of the letter from Bishop de Moulins-Beaufort. It is not a matter of crowing over the decision, even though we obviously think it is a step in the right direction. We have always been in direct contact with the government. Today, Monday, May 18, I myself have again sent more detailed proposals to regulate the resumption of worship.

In particular, it is being suggested that churches should be allowed to organize celebrations with a third of their potential congregation. But to date, these “behind-the-scenes” negotiations have had zero success.

Magnin went on to say:

We will continue to work intelligently together. Bishop de Moulins-Beaufort’s letter to the Prime Minister was clear and in the relationship we are trying to maintain we can tell each other things in confidence. I do not believe that the government had the will to minimize freedom of religion. The associations that brought the matter before the Council of State made this appeal and we did otherwise by writing to the Prime Minister because we are in dialogue and there was the prospect of another meeting with the president on May 25 in the company of the other religious denominations. These associations have done what they saw fit, and there are several ways of doing so. We did not consider filing an appeal with the Council of State, but Bishop de Moulins-Beaufort pointed out that there was a legal problem, which was finally raised by the Council of State.

It would seem that the leaders of the French bishops are somewhat uncomfortable with the procedure that short-circuited their inter-religious and fruitless talks with the authorities.

This attitude on the part of the central French Catholic hierarchy would explain why individual bishops, a number of whom have openly decried the prohibition of public worship, decided not to join the procedure.

Bishop Marc Aillet of Bayonne tweeted: “I welcome the decision of the Council of State ordering the French government to lift the general ban on gatherings in places of worship. Thank you to all those who initiated this and thanks to the Lord who inspired this just struggle.”

Bishop Bernard Ginoux of Montauban, who recently called the prohibition of public Masses “unjust and totally absurd,” adding that “we cannot be subjected to an order that is contrary to common sense,” was also satisfied by the decision: “My thanks to justice which has acknowledged a ‘grave and a legal violation of the freedom of worship.’”

Both the traditional priestly institutes and fraternities and the AGRIF quoted from the Catechism of the Catholic Church in order to underscore why Catholics have an urgent spiritual need of Mass, at which they should assist in person, because during Mass, the sacrifice of the Cross is renewed, where they can receive the body and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ in Communion as a necessary spiritual  nourishment.

This may seem a strange argument in front of administrative judges who monitor the activity of the public authorities of a secular and even secularist Republic such as France. But Jérôme Triomphe, who was one of the lawyers of the priestly institutes, told LifeSite that it was necessary to explain Catholics’ specific needs in order to prove to the Council of State that not only had a fundamental liberty such as freedom of worship been restricted — and this can be allowed for proportionate reasons in the face of sanitary emergency — but that there was an “urgent” reason for putting a stop to the restriction.

Interestingly, the judges of the Council of State focused on religious freedom and freedom of worship of believers in order to say that “the absolute and general prohibition” decreed on May 11 (apart from funerals, which have been possible since the beginning of confinement) was illegal because less stringent measures could be applied while preserving public health.

They rejected the government representative’s arguments regarding a number of other public venues, such as sports centers, dance halls, and restaurants which may not receive the public until further notice, not only because of the activities involved, but because freedom of religious worship is “essential” and protected by international treaties, the French constitution, and laws in a way that those activities are not.

The judges did take into account the fact that gatherings of up to 10 people are now allowed in other public venues.

In a statement to LifeSite, Jérôme Triomphe said: “This victory is a very important decision of general principle regarding the fundamental rights of worship, of which the French government had thought that it was not essential to the rights of believers. It is just as essential for a Catholic to receive spiritual nourishment, in particular through sacramental Communion, as to take physical nourishment, because man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”


  conseil d’etat, coronavirus, emmanuel macron, france, freedom of religion, french bishops conference, quarantine

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After Trump ban, military is still allowing transgender servicemen to sign on

The Pentagon admitted in February of 2018 that despite the ban, the first transgender person had signed a contract with the military. And that's not all.
Mon May 18, 2020 - 7:47 pm EST
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Jonathon Van Maren Jonathon Van Maren Follow Jonathon
By Jonathon Van Maren

May 18, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — In 2017, President Donald Trump released a statement on Twitter announcing that he would re-instate a ban on people diagnosed with gender dysphoria from military service, a reversal of an Obama policy that would have permitted transgender people to serve openly in the various branches of the military (even while pursuing medical “transition”). The following year, then–secretary of defense James Mattis rolled out the details of the policy, and a battle among various branches of government began, with the Supreme Court permitting the ban to go into effect in 2019 while the Democrats in Congress voted in June of the same year to prevent the Pentagon from using any funds to put the ban into effect.

The issue has ping-ponged its way through the courts, with injunctions by judges in three separate cases being eliminated by the Supreme Court’s decision to allow the ban as well as a ruling by a federal judge in Maryland. The Trump administration has claimed that the path is now clear for the ban to be enforced, but federal judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia has responded by stating that the injunction she issued in a 2017 ruling that the military must admit transgender applicants still stands.

It appears that in practice, at least, Kollar-Kotelly’s injunction is sidelining the Trump policy. The Pentagon admitted in February of 2018 that despite the ban, the first transgender person had signed a contract with the military. Additionally, CNN is reporting this month that a waiver has been granted to a transgender member of the military permitting the member to serve “in their preferred gender.”

According to Navy spokeswoman Lt. Brittany Stephens (speaking to CNN): “The acting Secretary of the Navy has approved a specific request for exemption related to military service by transgender persons and persons with gender dysphoria[.] … [T]his service member requested a waiver to serve in their preferred gender, to include obtaining a gender marker change in (the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System) and being allowed to adhere to standards associated with their preferred gender, such as uniforms and grooming.”

The anonymous naval officer had been represented in a lawsuit filed against the ban in March by the GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders as well as the National Center for Lesbian Rights. The director of GLAAD’s Transgender Rights Project, Jennifer Levi, also released a statement: “While we are relieved that our client, a highly qualified Naval officer, will be able to continue her [sic] service, there are other equally qualified service members who have sought waivers and are still in limbo despite being perfectly fit to serve.” According to GLAAD’s press release: “The fight is far from over.”

The LGBT movement has long seen the American military as an essential battleground in its fight to transform the nation. The Armed Forces is perhaps one of the final institutions that still unites Americans, with members of both primary political parties paying the troops homage and respect at every opportunity. Bestselling author Stephen Mansfield, who wrote The Faith of the American Soldier after embedding with troops in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom, told me in an interview that many chaplains are beginning to feel squeezed as LGBT activists successfully implement their agenda. The soldiers feel the tension as well, Mansfield told me — there is now the feeling that standards of political correctness can end a promising military career over an ill timed joke.

“When a huge portion of time is spent in sensitivity training and so on — why, for example, would the gay flag need to be raised over a military base? — this is an experiment,” Mansfield told me. “This is trendiness. This is an attempt to force upon the military, which is under state control, a level of political correctness that is meant to radiate around the country. I have to tell you that those in uniform resent this, because if they’re in the military, what they want to be is proud, competent, and strong, and part of an amazing fighting force that does good in the world. That’s why they’re there. If they wanted to deal with the latest trends in political correctness, they could have stayed in a university setting. They could work in government. They could form an NGO and advocate for a cause. That’s not why they’re carrying a weapon or learning how to fly or knowing how to do munitions. That’s not what they’re there for.”

To the LGBT movement, of course, it doesn’t matter whether or not the agenda is welcome. What matters is whether they can force its implementation.

Jonathon’s new podcast, The Van Maren Show, is dedicated to telling the stories of the pro-life and pro-family movement. In his latest episode, he interviews Scott Klusendorf about the fundamental flaw Klusendorf sees in the idea of locking down the country under the guise of preventing people from getting coronavirus.  

You can subscribe here and listen to the episode below: 


  courts, donald trump, lgbt tyranny, military, transgenderism

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Here’s why we need paid professional Church musicians

The more important something is for the liturgy, the more willing a parish should be to part with cash to get the best possible results.
Mon May 18, 2020 - 4:42 pm EST
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By Dr. Joseph Shaw

May 18, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Church employees have been badly affected by the coronavirus epidemic and the subsequent cessation of public services. Particularly hard hit are those who did not have formal contracts, or who were paid service-by-service. This includes many musicians.

There is a strand of thinking in the Church that says that the liturgy should be served by musicians who appear spontaneously from the congregation and offer their skills for free. Sometimes this is possible, and in particular circumstances it may be the best solution, or the only one. Indeed, I am an amateur singer myself. The worrying thing about this claim, however, is the word “should” which appears in it: the idea that it is somehow less authentic, or appropriate, or worthy of the liturgy, to pay musicians. 

Occasionally a parish may find that a member of the congregation has the skills to help fix the heating; quite often parishioners help with the accounts. But generally, people with professional qualifications need to be paid for their services. This extends to things intimately connected with the liturgy, such as vestments and sacred vessels. The more important something is for the liturgy, the more willing a parish should be to part with cash to get the best possible results.

It is not just a matter of hiring professionals. Liturgical music is a specialism. Gregorian chant, above all, is something rarely if ever taught to aspiring professional (or indeed amateur) musicians. If no churches ever paid musicians, then no musicians could afford to specialize in liturgical music. It would follow that no other musicians could learn the skills, even on a summer course or in evening classes, because there would be no one to teach them. We are not far from that situation today, in fact. The market for professional liturgical musicians, as opposed to secular musicians who perform occasionally in churches, is so tiny that it is only by some musicians’ extraordinary dedication that skills can be passed on at all: in America, this activity is centered around the Church Music Association of America.

In England the tradition of liturgical music is kept alive by the Anglican cathedrals. To say this is less than satisfactory from a Catholic perspective is an understatement, but very few Catholic cathedrals and major churches maintain good professional choirs. An aspiring Catholic musician, therefore, who wants to specialize in liturgical music, is forced to spend much of his career singing or playing the organ for Anglican services.

This raises the question, of course, of why the liturgy needs a kind of music which requires skills, acquired only with dedication and hard work over a protracted period of training, which differ from those of either mainstream classical or popular music. Liturgical music, like ecclesiastical architecture, has not always differed so markedly, or even at all, from secular styles. Liturgical motets from the Renaissance and the Baroque periods can be indistinguishable in style from secular madrigals by the same composers. Medieval and early modern Oxford college chapels are strikingly similar, at least from the outside, to the dining halls which often sit next to them in our ancient quadrangles. 

The answer is an important one, and was set out with great eloquence by the late Monsignor Richard Schuler (for example in his talk available here). Schuler distinguishes periods in which the Church was culturally dominant, and times when culture has been dominated by other forces. When the Church is dominant in a culture, one can say that all culture is Catholic culture. Churches built along the lines of civic meeting halls (basilicas) or the great halls of kings and nobles were not built in a secular rather than a sacred style: at those moments in history, there was no such distinction. 

This is not so when the Church is a bit-player on the cultural scene. For the Church to embrace the operatic music of the 19th century in the liturgy, for example, would have been to embrace associations and values which were not Catholic. The Council of Trent was far-sighted, therefore, in insisting on a separation between sacred and secular music, contrary to the practice of the Middle Ages, and harking back to the practice of the Early Church. In the Early Church instrumental music was forbidden in the liturgy, because of its association with pagan rites. The Fathers of the Council of Trent realized that the Church was losing her cultural dominance and needed to adapt.

In a non-Catholic culture, for the Church to open her liturgy to non-liturgical musical styles is simply to secularize the liturgy. It is essential to maintain a distinctively sacred style which people can recognize and come to associate with the liturgy, and which can draw people in to a prayerful atmosphere. If this is to be done well, it requires professional musicians. In a great church, they will comprise the choir, but they will be in the background even in the most humble parish, as models, teachers, and leaders. If we want Catholic musicians to acquire the skills necessary for good sacred music, we must be prepared to pay them. 


  catholic, council of trent, gregorian chant, liturgy, music, sacred music

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The abortion wars are a big reason why people don’t trust the government on coronavirus. Here’s why.

Mon May 18, 2020 - 11:45 am EST
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Jonathon Van Maren Jonathon Van Maren Follow Jonathon
By Jonathon Van Maren

May 18, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – There has been much talk of conspiracy theories over the past several weeks. Some people are proposing them, prestigious publications like The Atlantic are issuing dire warnings (the conspiracy theorists are winning!), Christian thinkers are attempting to lay out why the ground is so fertile for such theories, and I attempted to explain why so many of these theories are swirling around Bill Gates. In a hyper-politicized age where everybody’s motives are suspect, it is difficult to know who to trust—especially when government bodies and public health agencies are often the very institutions promoting hormone blockers, birth control, and abortion.

I’d like to reiterate a point I’ve made about this before: Much of the erosion of public trust and growing polarization is a direct result of the abortion wars. Government bodies expect people to believe that they have the public interest in view, but they cancelled chemotherapy treatments and delayed other essential medical needs while awaiting the COVID-19 surge—while keeping every abortion clinic open for business. They stated that feticide was healthcare while delaying life-saving treatments for cancer patients. They claimed that everything they were doing was to protect the vulnerable, while also telling us that the destruction of the vulnerable was so important that it was one of the only services permitted to remain open during a global pandemic.

Consider, for example, a story from Alexandra DeSanctis in National Review. J.B. Pritzker, the Democratic governor of Illinois, has insisted that he will not yet lift the state-wide lockdown he has imposed despite the mayors and sheriffs in some areas suggesting that it was time to ease some restrictions. In response, Pritzker “warned that he will crack down on any business or local area that attempts to stray from his order before he allows it. ‘Businesses and individual professionals that are licensed by state agencies can be held accountable for defying public health orders…Counties that try to reopen in defiance will not be reimbursed by FEMA for damage they cause themselves. Local law enforcement and the Illinois State Police can and will take action.’”

Pritzker’s justification for this heavy-handedness, of course, is that to disobey him would be to risk lives. The economic damage sustained by small business owners and large corporations alike is worth it to protect the vulnerable. Even if one disagrees with the lockdowns as a strategy to combat the spread of COVID-19, it is easy to understand the underlying logic behind the restrictions.

Except, of course for this. From DeSanctis: “Meanwhile, in Waukegan, Ill., less than an hour north of the heart of Chicago, Planned Parenthood has just opened a brand-new abortion clinic, one of about 20 in the state. According to Illinois Right to Life, Planned Parenthood used shell-company names on its license applications so no one would be aware that an abortion clinic was opening in the area until it had been approved. Despite the strict shutdown in Illinois, Pritzker’s stay-at-home order stipulated that ‘reproductive health care providers’ were essential and should remain open.”

As executive director of Illinois Right to Life Mary Kate Knorr said in a statement: “Governor Pritzker reminds us every day in his press conferences that we are being confined to our homes so as to protect human life, yet a brand-new abortion clinic has been allowed to open. Churches, schools, and businesses are closed but the nation’s largest killer of the unborn is expanding.”

How do men like Pritzker expect people to trust him, let alone believe him, when he is shutting down businesses while ensuring that Planned Parenthood can open a new clinic during a pandemic lockdown? 

The lies of the abortion industry, abortion activists, and the Democratic Party have poisoned the debate on public health and hugely eroded the public trust. Because if they will lie about something as fundamental as whether or not the child in the womb is a child, what won’t they lie about?


  abortion, coronavirus, illinois, j.b. pritzker, planned parenthood

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Do-it-yourself First Holy Communions?

Why has there been so much concern about Holy Communion, but not baptizing newborns, during the pandemic?
Mon May 18, 2020 - 10:43 am EST
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By Dr. Joseph Shaw

Urgent appeal to the bishops of the world: Feed your flock! Sign the petition here.

May 18, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – The Irish broadcaster RTE’s website posted a strange story on Saturday: “Children celebrate a virtual First Communion via video link.”

At first I couldn’t understand the headline. How can you receive Holy Communion via a video link? Did RTE mean that the children made a Spiritual Communion?

But no. It turns out that, since the children had been due to make their First Holy Communion, their parish priest decided to allow them to do this at home. “Fr George consecrated the hosts at an earlier mass today and then families were given different time slots to collect them.”

They received Holy Communion in the course of watching a live-streamed Mass. The priest commented:

The parents of ten pupils took up the offer of a virtual Communion. It gave me a real sense of what the early Catholic church must have been like, when people gathered for mass in each other’s homes.

Except, of course, that it has nothing to do with having Mass in a private home. Mass took place in church, without the people. The only thing that happened in their homes was the reception of Holy Communion.

However, the Blessed Sacrament should not be entrusted to the care of the laity even for a short time without serious reason. As the Code of Canon Law expresses it (Can.  935):

No one is permitted to keep the Eucharist on one’s person or to carry it around, unless pastoral necessity urges it and the prescripts of the diocesan bishop are observed.

The importance of this rule has been obscured by the practice of getting lay people to take the Blessed Sacrament to the sick and housebound. This has created all sorts of opportunities for irreverence and, of course, it deprives the sick of the chance that the visit of a priest would give them for Confession, spiritual direction, and where appropriate the Sacrament of the Sick. I am reminded of the story of the Catholic convert Malcolm Muggeridge, who, when seriously ill, was visited by a lay “Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion,” who proceeded to retrieve the pyx, containing the Blessed Sacrament, out of the pocket of her jeans. He was so appalled he threw her out of the house.

Having said that, it must be admitted, first, that genuine necessity may demand that the laity perform this function, and, second, that the system is supposed to ensure that they are properly prepared, and do carry it out with due decorum. This case, however, clearly doesn’t count as pastoral necessity, and nor, as far as it is possible to see, have proper procedures been followed. 

It is sad that those looking forward to their First Holy Communion are obliged to wait longer than planned to do so, but they are in this respect in the same boat as millions of other lay Catholics deprived of the Sacraments. It is hard to imagine what possible justification there could be for breaking the usual rules, designed to protect the Blessed Sacrament from profanation and to accord it proper honor, simply in order to have a private First Holy Communion a few weeks sooner than would otherwise be possible.

It also seems very strange to deprive these children of the social aspect of the usual First Holy Communion, when it is received with other children at a parish Mass. While this social aspect should never be emphasized above the spiritual realities, it is appropriate to celebrate an important occasion such as a First Holy Communion. Either the public celebration won’t happen, or it will be deprived of its point by taking place weeks and weeks after the actual First Holy Communion.

Something we have heard very little about, by contrast, is the baptizing of infants. This is a very different situation, in which there is a genuine pastoral necessity, and lay people can carry out a baptism without infringing any liturgical rules: as I have discussed here before, if anything “private baptisms” have been discouraged, for example by Cardinal Cupich. When I wrote that article I was thinking about the situation of infants whose christening had already been planned and had had to be indefinitely postponed. Given that the Church urges us to baptize our children swiftly after birth, waiting for another two or three months is clearly unacceptable.

Since then, however, I have had to take my own advice on private baptism, for my daughter was born when the lockdown was already well in place. Clearly it was not going to be possible for a priest to baptize her within a month of her birth. We look forward, now, to a public service of the “Supply of Ceremonies,” which can wait for churches to be reopened.

Why has there been so much concern about Holy Communion, which is still available for the dying and is otherwise never a matter of grave urgency, and so little about Baptism, a “sacrament of the dead” which raises the candidate to spiritual life? It seems that public debate on the Church under lockdown has not been informed by a proper sense of priorities.


  baptism, catholic, coronavirus, holy communion, virtual communion

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EpisodesMon May 18, 2020 - 1:44 pm EST

Learning your faith in bite sized pieces

By Mother Miriam
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Watch Mother Miriam's Live show from 5.18.2020. Today, Mother continues to go through drills to help listeners learn and deepen their faith. She focuses on the 10 commandments and days of fasting.

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