Conservative groups push back after Obama claims no corruption in IRS targeting
WASHINGTON, D.C., February 3, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Four conservative organizations – two targeted by the IRS, two representing targeted groups – have shot back after President Obama claimed Sunday night in an interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly that “not even a smidgen of corruption” was involved in the IRS' targeting of conservative organizations.
According to David French, senior counsel for the American Center for Law & Justice, whose organization represents 41 groups in 22 states, “it's a curious thing for [the President] to say, [especially since] one of the main people involved with the investigations has already taken the Fifth in order to not incriminate herself.”
In 2010, the IRS began investigating organizations with certain terms in their names, prominent among them “Patriot” and “Tea Party.” Pro-life groups were similarly targeted, most egregiously when the National Organization for Marriage saw its donor list and other tax information illegally released to the public by an IRS employee. The Coalition for Life of Iowa was also ill treated by the IRS when it was asked for invasive information that is not normal for the non-profit status for which it applied.
All of the groups were either existing 501(c)(4) non-profits or in the application process to become 501(c)(4) organizations. This legal status requires organizations have “social welfare,” such as education, as their primary purpose.
The IRS targeting became public in May 2013 when the IRS official in charge of the department targeting groups admitted extra attention was being given to certain groups. The official, Lois Lerner, made the admission in order to head off a report on the targeting from the Treasury Department's inspector general for tax administration.
Lerner is the official referenced by French who chose to plead the Fifth Amendment. She eventually retired from the IRS in late 2013.
While the President admitted “there were some bone-headed decisions,” he stopped short of saying any intentional action was taken against political opponents. French denounced the President's description of the targeting, telling LifeSiteNews.com that “the problem I have with the President's statement is you have some of the most sophisticated tax people in the country targeting people with the tax system, tax lawyers who knew very well it's unlawful to target groups based on their viewpoints. That's not a mistake, that's corruption. That's not boneheaded; that's an intentional act.”
Earlier this year, the FBI declined to file charges against the IRS, indicating mismanagement, not illegal intent, were at fault. However, according to Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin, “neither the FBI nor the President can know how much corruption exists in the IRS” because “the FBI has never asked what Tea Party Patriots' problems were or how we were affected by the IRS' targeting.”
Catherine Engelbrecht, who runs the targeted organization True the Vote, was among those who expressed displeasure with the President's statement, telling LSN that “the President's recent comments regarding the IRS targeting scandal represent a continued pattern of denying admitted-to wrongdoing on the part of the federal bureaucracy.”
Engelbrecht also cautioned that “President Obama's posture on the matter significantly increases the risk of this behavior becoming business as usual.”
The scandal has increased in scope since Lerner made the targeting public. Criticism increased after the person heading the investigation into the IRS was found to be an Obama and Democratic Party donor. Furthermore, USA TODAY reported last year that about 80 percent of 162 organizations given closer scrutiny by the IRS were conservative. And while some liberal politicians and pundits have tried to say this means the IRS targeting was bipartisan, Martin told LSN that “100 percent of Tea Party groups were targeted.”
A spokesperson for the legal organization Thomas More Society, which “has defended six pro-life organizations,” told LSN, “We are shocked that President Obama would state that there was 'not even a smidgeon of corruption’ involved in the IRS scandal. The Obama Administration must stop making excuses to cover up the IRS’ illegal activity and instead deal justly with the corruption and scandal that occurred."
Peter Breen, the society’s vice president and senior counsel, also said his group “produced two memos to the House Committee on Ways and Means, totaling over 500 pages of evidence that the IRS specifically targeted and harassed pro-life and conservative charities, illegally questioning their religious activities and withholding their tax exemptions.”
After the scandal broke, the IRS moved forward with changes it says would clarify rules about the activities 501(c)(4) organizations may engage in. However, prominent conservatives have opposed these changes, which the Washington Post reports have been proposed and opened for public comment. The changes, according to the Post, would “explicitly define which kind of activities are political and fall outside of the social welfare category, forcing such groups to be more careful about how they spend their funds.”
The Post says the unfinished regulations would not allow ads to mention candidates past a certain point close to Election Day, among other limitations on speech. 501(c)(4) organizations already trade freedom of speech for secrecy of donors and other benefits.
‘Little miracles’: Mom gives birth to naturally-conceived quintuplets after refusing ‘selective reduction’
AUSTRALIA, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- A 26-year-old Australian mom has given birth to five healthy babies, all conceived naturally, after refusing the doctor’s advice that she must abort three of them in order to give the remaining two a better chance at life.
“After my initial ultrasound I was told I could consider the selection method to give 2 babies the best chance in life,” wrote mom Kim Tucci in a Facebook post last September.
“I watched a YouTube video on the procedure and I cried. I could never do that! Was I selfish for not giving two the chance of 100% survival? All I knew is that I already love them and that every heart beat I heard I connect with them more. For me life starts when a heart starts beating and all I know for sure is that I will do whatever it takes to bring them into this world healthy,” she wrote.
Last Thursday Kim and her husband Vaughn welcomed the five new members into their family — one boy and four girls —increasing the number of their children from 3 to 8. The babies were born at 30 weeks, 10 weeks early, due to insufficient space in Kim’s womb. They weighed on average about 2.5 pounds.
The quintuplets’ story began last March, after Kim and Vaughn had been trying for six months to conceive just one more child for their family. Due to health complications, Kim wondered if she would ever become a mother again.
After what she thought was an extra long cycle, she decided to take a pregnancy test.
“I was feeling tired and a little nauseated and thought I would take a pregnancy test just to get the ‘what if’ out of my head. To my shock and utter excitement it was positive,” she wrote on a Facebook post.
The parents got the shock of their lives when doctors confirmed in an ultrasound examination that there was not one baby, but five.
“After a long wait for the ultrasound we finally went in. The sonographer told me there were multiple gestational sacks, but she could only see a heart beat in two. I was so excited! Twins!”
“I was moved to another machine for a clearer view and had the head doctor come in and double check the findings. She started to count, one, two, three, four, five. Did i hear that correctly? Five? My legs start to shake uncontrollably and all i can do is laugh. The sonographer then told me the term for five is ‘quintuplets,’” Kim wrote.
Even though Kim began to feel stretched to the limit with all those human lives growing inside her, she chose to focus on her babies, and not herself, referring to them as “my five little miracles.”
“It's getting harder as each day passes to push through the pain, every part of my body aches and sleeping is becoming very painful. No amount of pillows are helping support my back and belly. Sometimes I get so upset that I just want to throw my hands up and give in.”
“Sometimes my pelvis becomes so stiff I can barely walk and my hips feel like they are grinding away constantly. I'm finding it hard to eat as I basically have no room left in my stomach, and the way it is positioned it's pushed all the way back with the babies leaning against it.”
“My skin on my belly is so stretched its painful and hot to touch. It literally feels like I have hives! No amount of cream helps relieve the discomfort. I have a lot of stretch marks now. Dealing with such a huge change in my body is hard.”
“Is it all worth it? Yes!!!! I will keep pushing through,” she wrote in one Facebook post days before the babies were born.
The newborns' names are Keith, Ali, Penelope, Tiffany, and Beatrix. They were born at King Edward Memorial Hospital in Subiaco, Western Australia. Mother and babies are reported to be doing well.
UN rights chief tells Catholic countries to legalize abortion over Zika virus: bishops and cardinal react
GENEVA, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- The United Nations, following the lead of international abortion activists, is now urging Latin American countries hit by the mosquito-borne Zika virus to lift restrictions on abortion for pregnant women who have contacted the virus and whose pre-born children may be at risk for birth defects, including having smaller than normal heads.
The UN human rights office said today that it is not enough for South American countries to urge women to postpone pregnancy without also offering them abortion as a final solution.
“How can they ask these women not to become pregnant, but not offer… the possibility to stop their pregnancies?” UN spokeswoman Cecile Pouilly told reporters.
UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said that governments should make available contraception and abortion services.
“Laws and policies that restrict (women’s) access to these services must be urgently reviewed in line with human rights obligations in order to ensure the right to health for all in practice,” he said.
But Brazil’s bishops strongly asserted yesterday that efforts should be made to eradicate the virus, not the people who may be infected by it.
The disease is “no justification whatsoever to promote abortion,” they said in a statement, adding that it is not morally acceptable to promote abortion “in the cases of microcephaly, as, unfortunately, some groups are proposing to the Supreme Federal Court, in a total lack of respect for the gift of life.”
Honduras Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga has also come out strongly against the notion of “therapeutic abortions” as a response to the problem. Unlike Brazil where abortion is legal in the case of rape or health of the mother, abortion remains entirely illegal in Honduras.
“We should never talk about ‘therapeutic’ abortion,” the cardinal said in a homily at a February 3 Mass in Suyap. “Therapeutic abortion doesn’t exist. Therapeutic means curing, and abortion cures nothing. It takes innocent lives,” he said.
While the World Health Organization (WHO) declared an international public health emergency February 1 on account of concerns over the virus, critics have pointed out, however, that not one death as resulted from the virus. Even on WHO’s own website the virus is described in mild terms.
“It causes mild fever and rash. Other symptoms include muscle pain, joint pain, headache, pain behind the eyes and conjunctivitis. Zika virus disease is usually mild, with symptoms lasting only a few days,” the website states. “To date, there have been no reported deaths associated with Zika virus,” it added.
Critics suspect that the crisis is being manipulated to advance an anti-human agenda on the pre-born.
“Is Zika, actually, a hideous virus that threatens to spread uncontrollably across the world creating an army of disabled children with tiny heads and low IQ’s? Or might this be a willful misinterpretation of the scarce data to manipulate public opinion and legislatures?” wrote pro-life critic Mei-Li Garcia earlier this week.
“It becomes very clear that the publicity surrounding this story has a very little to do with medicine and a lot to do with a convenient crisis that is being used by those pushing for the legalization of abortion around the world,” she wrote.
Hillary’s litmus test for Supreme Court picks: They must ‘preserve Roe v. Wade’
DERRY, NH, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) - Hillary Clinton has a litmus test for Supreme Court nominees - several, in fact. At a Democratic event on Wednesday, Clinton unveiled her criteria in selecting a judge for the nation's highest court.
“I do have a litmus test, I have a bunch of litmus tests," she said.
"We’ve got to make sure to preserve Roe v. Wade, not let it be nibbled away or repealed,” she said.
That echoes her recent call to arms speech before Planned Parenthood last month, when she stated that taxpayers must fund abortion-on-demand in order to uphold the "right" of choice.
“We have to preserve marriage equality,” Clinton said, referring to last summer's Obergefell v. Hodges case, a 5-4 ruling that redefined marriage nationwide. “We have to go further to end discrimination against the LGBT community."
Her views differentiate her from the Republican front runners. Ted Cruz has called the court's marriage ruling "fundamentally illegitimate," and Donald Trump told Fox News Sunday this week that he would "be very strong on putting certain judges on the bench that I think maybe could change things." Marco Rubio has said he won't "concede" the issue to the one-vote majority.
All Republican presidential hopefuls say they are pro-life and will defund Planned Parenthood.
Her husband, Bill Clinton, raised the makeup of the Supreme Court early last month in New Hampshire, saying it receives "almost no attention" as a campaign issue.
On Wednesday, Hillary said "the next president could get as many as three appointments. It’s one of the many reasons why we can’t turn the White House over to the Republicans again.”
Clinton said her judicial appointees must also reverse the Citizens United ruling on campaign finance and oppose a recent decision striking down a portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. In 2013's Shelby County v. Holder, justices struck down Section 4(b) of the act, which said that certain states and jurisdictions had to obtain permission from the federal government before changing their voting laws.
At one time, most politicians frowned upon any "litmus test" for judicial nominees, emphasizing the independence of the third branch of government. "I don't believe in litmus tests," Jeb Bush told Chuck Todd last November.
But with the rise of an activist judiciary in the middle of the 20th century, constitutionalists have sought to rein in the power of the bench.