Is Obama’s lackluster response on Boko Haram tied to Nigeria’s gay ‘marriage’ ban?
A U.S. congressman who led a delegation to Nigeria to investigate Boko Haram in June has accused the Obama administration of withholding key information that could help the Nigerian military fight the Islamic terrorist group, which has all but taken over the northern part of the country.
Rep. Steve Stockman, R-TX, suggests a key reason is the administration’s opposition to Nigerian “social policy.”
In the first six months of this year alone, Boko Haram has killed more than 2,000 civilians, and in April, the group kidnapped hundreds of young girls from a school in Chibok with the intention of selling them as sex slaves. Most of the girls remain missing.
“We have information that would help the Nigerian military take back their country and get back those girls,” Stockman told World Net Daily earlier this month. “The mistake on our side – the United States’ side – is that we have laws preventing us from sharing that information with the Nigerian military. And one of the reasons is that we don’t like some of the social policy of the Nigerian government.”
An unnamed source told World Net Daily that the specific policy in question was Nigeria’s ban on same-sex “marriage,” which makes it a crime to enter into any sort of formalized homosexual union, or to in any way assist with one.
"We have laws preventing us from sharing that information with the Nigerian military. And one of the reasons is that we don’t like some of the social policy of the Nigerian government."
It is unclear to which law Stockman was specifically referring, but Amnesty International government relations manager Adotei Awkei told ABC News in May that the Leahy Law, in particular, has “been a major source of frustration for the Nigerians, who’ve wanted U.S. assistance.”
The Leahy Law bars the U.S. Department of State and Department of Defense from providing assistance to foreign military units if there is credible evidence that they have committed “gross human rights violations,” defined as murder of civilians, torture, kidnapping, and/or rape. It also leaves room for the U.S. government to give or withhold aid on a case-by-case basis for lesser human rights offenses. The law, passed in 1997 and named for its sponsor, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-VT, does not explicitly take into account a nation’s treatment of homosexuals, but Sen. Leahy vowed in January to push for a companion law banning aid to foreign countries that criminalize homosexual behavior.
Asked directly by LifeSiteNews whether Nigeria’s stance on homosexuality had impacted U.S. response in the region, a State Department spokesman who insisted on anonymity was evasive.
“Over the last few months the U.S. has continued to support our Nigerian partners as they have led efforts to combat Boko Haram and return the Chibok girls,” the spokesman told LifeSiteNews by e-mail. “We have provided intelligence support, personnel, and other tactical and material support. We remain committed to helping Nigeria bring back their girls and helping the region to establish a durable and integrated approach to combating the regional threat of Boko Haram.”
But the spokesman added, “Our stance on LGBT rights is also clear. LGBT rights are human rights. In Nigeria, we’ve spoken out against the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition act. This is a law that not only criminalizes same sex marriage, but also restricts freedom of association, expression and assembly for all Nigerians.”
“We continue to engage extensively at the highest levels of government with the police and with regional and local officials to press the message of nonviolence and non-discrimination,” the spokesman continued. “We are also providing support to civil society, and we’re monitoring closely the implementation of SSMP and its impact on the LGBT persons and their allies. We’ll take appropriate actions as needed.”
Pressed further on whether the Leahy Law might be used to justify withholding information from Nigerian officials, the State Department spokesman said, “The Leahy law prevents the U.S. from providing assistance using funds authorized by the Foreign Assistance Act to security force units or individuals when we have credible information that they have committed a gross violation of human rights. ‘Gross violations’ are defined in statute, and include torture and other forms of cruel and unusual punishment, extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances, rape, and prolonged arbitrary detention.”
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“We may or may not withhold assistance to units that have been involved in other forms of misconduct or have been implicated in other forms of human rights violations, depending on the facts for other policy or legal reasons,” the spokesman added. “We’ve been very open about our concerns about Nigeria’s human rights record. Promoting respect for human rights is a key aspect of the assistance we provide. In this instance, and in all of its counterterrorism operations, we call on Nigeria to protect civilians, respect human rights, address impunity, and address the underlying causes of the conflict.”
LifeSiteNews reached out repeatedly to Rep. Stockman’s office for clarification on his remarks, but were told he was out of town for the week and unreachable for comment. Multiple staffers told us they were unaware of what law to which Stockman was specifically referring, and all said they were unfamiliar with the situation.
One staffer suggested LifeSiteNews contact the office of Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-TX, who accompanied Stockman on the June trip to Nigeria. Mike McQuerry, Jackson Lee’s communications director, was initially cooperative and told LifeSiteNews he was trying to determine whether there was any truth to Stockman’s accusations, but after two days of follow-up, McQuerry stopped returning LifeSiteNews’ emails.
LifeSiteNews also reached out to Amnesty International and the Nigerian Embassy for comment. Amnesty International said government relations manager Adotei Awkei was out of the office for the week and unavailable for comment. Three calls to the Nigerian Embassy’s main switchboard went unanswered.
Texas AG to Target: Show me how you’ll protect women and kids from criminals
AUSTIN, Texas, May 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The latest backlash Target received as a result of its transgender bathroom policy was a letter from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton asking the company to provide its safety policies to protect women and children from “those who would use the cover of Target’s restroom policy for nefarious purposes.”
“Target, of course, is free to choose such a policy for its Texas stores,” Paxton wrote in a letter to Target CEO Brian Cornell. He noted the possibility of the Texas Legislature addressing the issue in the future, but said, “regardless of whether Texas legislates on this topic, it is possible that allowing men in women’s restrooms could lead to criminal and otherwise unwanted activity.”
“As chief lawyer and law enforcement officer for the State of Texas, I ask that you provide the full text of Target’s safety policies regarding the protection of women and children from those who would use the cover of Target’s restroom policy for nefarious purposes,” Paxton continued.
More than 1.1 million people have pledged to boycott Target over its new policy allowing men to access women’s bathrooms. Opponents of the policy worry that it puts women and children at risk by emboldening predators, who may now freely enter women’s restrooms.
Target’s new policy is “inclusive,” the company claims, and they say “everyone…deserves to be protected from discrimination, and treated equally.”
“Texans statewide can no longer be silent on the issue of protecting the safety of women and children,” Texas Values President and Attorney Jonathan Saenz said in a statement Wednesday urging Texans to boycott Target. This is the first time in its history the pro-family group has called for a boycott.
“We need all Texans to understand that Target is using this radical change in their store policy to try convince people that our laws should be changed in this dangerous direction as well,” said Saena. “Our goal with this boycott is for Target to change its dangerous new policy, to raise awareness of the real threats to safety that these policies bring and to help businesses and lawmakers understand the significant opposition to such measures that is growing daily… Texans all across our state must join this Boycott Target effort before someone gets hurt.”
On Tuesday a male allegedly filmed an underage girl at a Frisco, Texas, Target fitting room. Police are searching for the man.
There have been numerous incidents of male predators across North America accessing women’s facilities and citing transgender policies as allowing them to do so.
Christians, America has reached a crisis point. Are you ready to take up this challenge?
May 5, 2016 (Albert Mohler) -- For nearly two and a half centuries, Americans have enjoyed the enormous privilege and responsibility of forming our own government—a privilege rarely experienced throughout most of human history. For most of history, humanity has struggled with the question of how to respond to a government that was essentially forced upon them. But Americans have often struggled with a very different reality; how do we rightly respond to the government that we choose?
To put all of this in historical perspective, the Framers of the American experiment understood that a representative democracy built on the principle of limited government would require certain virtues of its citizens. These would include a restraint of passions and an upholding of traditional moral virtues, without which democracy would not be possible. As the idea of limited government implies, the citizenry would be required to carry out the social responsibilities of the community without the intrusion of government and, thus, citizens would be expected to have the moral integrity necessary for such an arrangement. The Framers of the American Republic also agreed that it would be impossible to have a representative democracy and a limited government if the people did not elect leaders who embodied the virtues of the citizenry while also respecting and protecting society’s pre-political institutions: marriage and family, the church, and the local community.
Thus, the idea of a limited government requires that society uphold and pursue the health of its most basic institutions. When a civil society is weak, government becomes strong. When the family breaks down, government grows stronger. When the essential institutions of society are no longer respected, government demands that respect for itself. That is a recipe for tyranny.
Much of this was essentially affirmed until the early decades of the 20th century when progressivists began promoting an agenda that fundamentally redefined the role of the federal government in public life. By the middle of the 20th century, the Democratic Party had essentially embraced this progressivist agenda, becoming committed to an increasingly powerful government—a government whose powers exceeded those enumerated in the Constitution. At the same time, the Democratic Party also began advocating for a basic redefinition of the morality that shaped the common culture. By and large, however, the Republican Party continued to maintain a commitment to the vision of America’s founders, advocating for a traditional understanding of morality while also upholding the principle of limited government.
By the 1980s, the two parties represented two very different worldviews and two very different visions of American government. For decades, each party has acted rather predictably and in ways that accord with their fundamental principles. All of that, however, has now changed.
The 2016 presidential campaign has developed in an entirely unpredictable manner and, in many respects, represents a crisis in American democracy. This crisis is not limited to either party. Bernie Sanders, the Independent senator from Vermont, has won several stunning victories in the primary season over presumed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. While it is still extremely likely that Clinton will become the Democratic nominee, Sanders support among voters represents a populist flirtation with Democratic Socialism. This pattern is something few Democrats could have imagined just one year ago. What this foray into Democratic Socialism represents, then, is a radical adjustment of the Democratic Party’s basic economic principles. Thus, even if Hillary Clinton becomes the nominee, the process will likely drag her even further to the left, eventually redefining the Democratic Party before our very eyes.
But if it is remarkable to see what is happening in the Democratic Party, it is absolutely shocking to see what is happening among Republicans. Traditionally, the Republican Party has established its reputation by standing for the principles advocated by the American Founders—limited government upheld by the health of society’s primary institutions such as marriage, family, and community. Yet Donald Trump, the presumptive nominee for the Republican Party, represents virtually everything the Republican Party has typically defined itself over against. Clearly, both political parties are now redefining themselves. What is not clear is where each party will ultimately end up. What is also not clear is whether the American experiment can survive such radical political change.
As already noted, the American experiment in limited government requires that the citizenry and those who hold public office honor certain moral virtues and respect the institutions that are crucial for a society to rightly function. Yet, we now find ourselves in a situation where the three leading candidates for president show little to no respect for such institutions in their articulations of public policy.
This fundamental redefinition of the American political landscape requires Christians to think carefully about their political responsibility. Make no mistake; we cannot avoid that responsibility. Even refusing to vote is itself a vote because it privileges those who do vote and increases the value of each ballot. In truth, we bear a political responsibility that cannot be dismissed or delegated to others. Every Christian must be ready to responsibly steward his or her vote at the polls.
To put the matter bluntly, we are now confronted with the reality that, in November, Hillary Clinton will likely be the Democratic nominee and Donald Trump the Republican nominee. This poses a significant problem for many Christians who believe they cannot, in good conscience, vote for either candidate. As a result, Christians are going to need a lot of careful political reflection in order to steward their vote and their political responsibility in this election cycle.
Headlines from around the world tell us that other representative democracies are at a similar moment of redefinition. Political turmoil now marks the United Kingdom and also nations like France and other key American allies. Perhaps democracy itself is now facing a crucial hour of decision and a crucial season of testing. It is no exaggeration to say that democracy is being tested around the world; it is certainly being tested here at home. Yet if this is a moment of testing for democracy, it is also a crucial moment for Christian witness. This election cycle is going to be a particular test for American Christians—and we are about to find out if Christians are up to this challenge.
Reprinted with permission from Albert Mohler.
‘Sick and twisted’: Scientists keep embryos alive outside womb up to 13 days for experimentation
May 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Two teams of scientists have announced that they have been able to keep human embryos alive outside the womb for 13 days for the purpose of conducting scientific experiments. Some call the announcement the onset of a “Brave New World,” while others are petitioning lawmakers to lift sanctions that would keep scientists from experimenting on newly conceived babies even longer.
Researchers from Cambridge University, King's College, and Rockefeller University said in two separate reports that they stopped at 13 days only to avoid violating an internationally accepted law. At least 12 nations restrict the amount of time a newly conceived child may be kept alive in a laboratory to 14 days, the point at which scientists believe “individuality” begins.
The newest development allows scientists to observe newly conceived human beings after the point at which implantation in the womb would have occurred.
Professor Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz, one of the studies' lead researchers, said her team's breakthrough could advance embryonic stem cell research and “can improve IVF success.”
Some scientists have called on the international community to extend the amount of time such experimentation can take place.
“If restrictions such as the 14-day rule are viewed as moral truths, such cynicism would be warranted,” three experts – Insoo Hyun, Amy Wilkerson, and Josephine Johnston – wrote in a commentary published yesterday in Nature magazine. “But when they are understood to be tools designed to strike a balance between enabling research and maintaining public trust, it becomes clear that, as circumstances and attitudes evolve, limits can be legitimately recalibrated.”
Pro-life experts said the experimentation destroys human life and could lead to grave ethical dilemmas by extending the research.
“No human being should be used for lethal experimentation, no matter their age or stage of development,” said Dr. David Prentice, a professor of molecular genetics and an Advisory Board Member for the Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center. “The 14-day rule is itself arbitrary, and does not assuage those who believe life begins at the moment of sperm-egg fusion. Moreover, allowing experiments on human embryos beyond 14 days post-fertilization risks the lives of untold more human beings, because it further encourages creation and destruction for research purposes.”
Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, called the experimentation “sick and twisted.”
“Science has undeniably proven that a new human life, with unrepeatable DNA, begins at conception,” she said. “There is no reason for experimentation on that human life and science itself should not be heralding thae fact that a tiny human being can survive now for two weeks outside of the womb, all for the sole purpose of experimentation.”
Dr. Prentice noted that embryonic stem cell research “has yielded no benefit thus far,” leading even its most vocal advocates, such as Michael J. Fox, to admit it has not lived up to its promise.
“If this research does not stop at 14 days, where does it stop?” asked Prentice. “This is a risky step which could encourage further eugenic attitudes and actions.”
Dr. Prentice encouraged Congress “to have a full and open debate on the issue of human embryo research before the research community moves further without oversight.”