Report: ‘Believe the victim’ mentality undermines justice

(Campus Reform) A new report published by a criminal justice watchdog argues that the “believe the victim” mentality is compromising “the integrity of our entire legal system.”

Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE), a group that seeks to find “effective and fair solutions to sexual assault and domestic violence,” argues in a recent white paper that the “believe the victim” ideology turns the neutral role of an investigator “into that of an advocate” while also “systematically insert[ing] bias into the criminal justice system.”

The “believe the victim” ideology is generally popular among millennial feminists and progressives who believe that presumed victims of sexual violence need more power and protection against the so-called “rape culture” on college campuses.

In response to the pressure, institutions of higher education have adapted a system of internal trials that frequently adjudicates cases by relying on panels of professors and administrators who have little if any experience in criminal justice.

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Elizabeth Warren’s Native American problem grows

(Boston Globe) There’s a ghost haunting Elizabeth Warren as she ramps up for a possible 2020 presidential bid and a reelection campaign in Massachusetts this year: her enduring and undocumented claims of Native American ancestry.

Warren says now, as she has from the first days of her public life, that she based her assertions on family lore, on her reasonable trust in what she was told about her ancestry as a child.

“I know who I am,” she said in a recent interview with the Globe.

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Neighbor charged with felony assault against Rand Paul

(Louisville Courier-Journal) Rene Boucher, the 58-year-old Bowling Green man accused of attacking U.S. Sen. Rand Paul at his home in November, has been charged with assaulting a member of congress resulting in personal injury.

The charges – a federal felony – were announced Friday by Josh J. Minkler, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana.

“Assaulting a member of Congress is an offense we take very seriously,” Minkler said. “Those who choose to commit such an act will be held accountable.”

Boucher has signed a plea agreement, according to Minkler’s statement. No date has been set for the taking of his guilty plea.

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School still attacking Bible-quoting cheerleaders

Bible verse banner. Image courtesy Liberty Institute

Bible verse banner. Image courtesy Liberty Institute

The case began in 2012, and lawyers for cheerleaders fighting a Texas school district over their free-speech rights say it’s about time for the district to resolve it.

Hiram Sasser is one of the lawyers working with First Liberty on behalf of the cheerleaders from the Kountze Independent School District who have had their right to put Bible verses on run-through banners at football games affirmed in the Texas court system.

However, the case continues because the school district has notified the state Supreme Court it will file another appeal.

Sasser said the Ninth Court of Appeals correctly ruled last fall that the Kountze cheerleaders have a right to have “religious speech” on their banners, which they created and purchased with their own money.

“Why is the school district continuing to fight against this decision and the cheerleaders? When will the school district stop filing appeal after appeal and finally accept that the cheerleaders are free to have religious speech on their run through banners?” he asked.

Sasser said he hopes the Texas Supreme Court “will not even require the cheerleaders to respond and thus bring an end to the school district’s scorched-earth litigation tactics against the Kountze cheerleaders. Enough is enough.”

Ever wonder about today’s schools? Wonder no longer. Detail of what is happening are here in “Crimes of the Educators: How Utopians are Using Government Schools to Destroy America’s Children.”

Multiple Texas courts have ruled that such speech should be considered the cheerleaders’, not the school’s, and, therefore, is constitutional.

The school insists it has the authority to control the cheerleaders’s speech.

While the district has declared it will appeal, the paperwork has not been completed.

WND reported last fall, the Ninth Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the cheerleaders, affirming the banners are a form of protected private speech.

In opposition to the cheerleaders, District Attorney Thomas Brandt, at that time, wanted the court to review the case because the Texas courts’ decision “leads to absurd results,” such as allowing the cheerleaders to display a Confederate flag or drug paraphernalia.

He claimed that the Texas courts were wrong to conclude that “a reasonable observer” would not interpret the banners as government speech.

According to the Beaumont Enterprise newspaper: “Brandt argued that because the banners are made by members of an official school organization, at school-sponsored and supervised practices on school property and are displayed on school property at a time where access to the field is limited, a reasonable person would interpret the banners as school-sponsored.”

The case began when parents of seven Kountze cheerleaders sued the district after school officials, responding to a complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, banned the squad from putting Bible verses on its signs.

The district has tried several maneuvers to assert its claim to control cheerleaders’ speech, including an announcement that it would allow the banners, but claim control of the speech, as well as an attempt to get rid of the case by arguing it was moot because most of the cheerleaders had graduated.

The Texas courts earlier found: “The cheerleaders contend that a single, dispositive fact controls the categorization of speech of the run-through banners: the school district allows the cheerleaders to select the message that is placed on the banners. … Because the students select the message each week and not the school, the statements on the run-through banners must be categorized as pure private speech of the cheerleaders.”

WND reported Sens. John Cornyn, R-Ariz., and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, filed a brief in support of the cheerleaders. Cornyn, chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution, was a district judge, a member of the Supreme Court of Texas and attorney general of Texas.

He argued on behalf of the state of Texas in the Santa Fe Independent School District case that has been cited by the school district for its right to censor student messages.

Cruz previously was solicitor general of Texas, representing the state in a number of religious liberty cases.

Ever wonder about today’s schools? Wonder no longer. Detail of what is happening are here in “Crimes of the Educators: How Utopians are Using Government Schools to Destroy America’s Children.”

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Judge interrupts jury: God told me defendant not guilty

(Austin Statesman) A state district judge in Comal County said God told him to intervene in jury deliberations to sway jurors to return a not guilty verdict in the trial of a Buda woman accused of trafficking a teen girl for sex.

Judge Jack Robison apologized to jurors for the interruption, but defended his actions by telling them “when God tells me I gotta do something, I gotta do it,” according to the Herald-Zeitung in New Braunfels.

The jury went against the judge’s wishes, finding Gloria Romero-Perez guilty of continuous trafficking of a person and later sentenced her to 25 years in prison. They found her not guilty of a separate charge of sale or purchase of a child.

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Dem demand for DACA expected to trigger shutdown

President Trump (Photo: Department of Defense)

President Trump (Photo: Department of Defense)

President Trump has done a lot of deal-cutting, but very little backing down, over the course of his first year in office.

Friday appeared to be no exception, as he summoned Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer to his office to talk about a deal for a continuing resolution to fund the government, but Schumer left without convincing the president to include protection for DACA recipients in the funding plan.

The House had approved essentially a straight funding plan on Thursday, and that was on the Senate floor for a vote just before Friday’s midnight Eastern deadline, but plans already were in place for a “shutdown.”

Trump’s administrators promised it would be unlike the 2013 shutdown under President Obama, when officials weaponized the move and put barriers in front of federally owned monuments even in Washington to try to prevent people from looking at them.

It also was expected to be fairly short.

The stumbling block has been Democrat demands for amnesty in the funding bill, a plan to protect those illegal aliens brought into the U.S. by the parents years ago and possibly even give them the constitutional rights of an American citizen.

Trump has said he’ll deal on that issue – along with provisions for a secure border, more border agents, funding for a wall, an end to chain migration and more.

Democrats insisted on getting their DACA protection – likely with the hope of turning hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens into Democrat voters in several key states before the 2018 midterms.

The proposal that was on the Senate floor would be for funding for four weeks, but Democrats have been refusing to support it. Even a few Republicans said they really were tired of short-term stopgap plans.

Trump likely knew at the outset he would not be caving on the amnesty issue, and had said on social media early in the day, “Government Funding Bill past [sic] last night in the House of Representatives. Now Democrats are needed if it is to pass in the Senate – but they want illegal immigration and weak borders. Shutdown coming? We need more Republican victories in 2018!”

Late in the day, OMB Director Mick Mulvaney briefed the press on the administration’s preparations for a shutdown, saying, “we do not want a shutdown, but if Mr. Schumer insists on it, he is in a position to force this on the American people.”

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State demands preachers get permission to speak

Constitution42

Two street preachers are targeted, confronted and eventually arrested by transit officers who insist that they stop talking about their Christian beliefs without getting the agency’s permission first, and the courts say that’s all right.

But the Rutherford Institute thinks otherwise, and that’s why it’s seeking a rehearing before the entire 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in a First Amendment case involving preachers Don Karns and Robert Parker.

A panel of the appeals court previously ruled that the two transit officers, Kathleen Shanahan and Sandra McKeon Crowe, were justified in ordering the preachers to be quiet, grilling them over their activities, and then arresting and charging them – all because they were sharing their beliefs in a public location.

“This case sheds light on a disconcerting bureaucratic mindset that wants us to believe that the government has the power to both bestow rights on the citizenry and withdraw those rights when it becomes necessary, whether it’s the right to proselytize on a train platform, the right to address one’s representatives at a city council meeting, or the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures,” said constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute.

“Yet those who founded this country believed that our rights are unalienable, meaning that no man or government can take them away from us. Thus, the problem in this case is not the absence of any specific law allowing free speech on the train platform. Rather, the problem is government officials who have forgotten that they work for us and their primary purpose is to safeguard our rights.”

Rutherford is seeking a rehearing in the case that erupted when Karns and Parker were preaching at a Princeton, New Jersey, train station.

They were charged with trespass and obstruction of justice but eventually clearly of the charges.

They then sued the New Jersey Transit Corp. and the officers over the demand that they “obtain a permit” to talk, non-commercially, with others at the public station.

The appeals court panel said the officers were immune from claims that they violated the preachers’ constitutional rights – under the First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments.

It was on June 26, 2012, when Karns and Parker began sharing their Christian beliefs with members of the public at the Princeton Junction Station of the NJTC.

“No notices were posted at the station prohibiting or restricting First Amendment activities,” Rutherford explained.

But they quickly were confronted by Shanahan and Crowe, who first demanded identification, then told them they could not speak without the agency’s permission.

When Karns and Parker asserted the train station was a public area, they were arrested.

After they were cleared of those counts, the Rutherford Institute filed a civil rights case against the officers for discriminating against them on the basis of the religious content of their speech.
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Feds sound off on abortion-promotion requirements

sleeping_infant

It started out as an effort by abortionists to ensure a continued stream of revenue: They convinced local and state lawmakers in several jurisdictions to require that crisis pregnancy centers – even those run as Christian ministries – promote abortion by advertising the nearest abortionist a woman could consult, explains a new report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

The centers protested the free speech violation and sued, resulting in conflicting rulings from various courts. So the Supreme Court now is reviewing the issue and likely will issue a ruling this summer.

The federal government, in an analysis of the issue, said the ruling could have a significant impact on speech rights and related laws and regulations beyond the abortion issue.

“The parties in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra dispute whether California’s Reproductive FACT Act is a viewpoint – or content-based restriction on speech subject to strict scrutiny (and thus presumptively invalid) or a professional or commercial regulation subject to less exacting scrutiny,” the government analysis says.

“The path the court chooses could have implications for lawmakers both in the context of family planning or pregnancy-related services and, more broadly, in the regulation of professional and commercial activities.”

The dispute centers on whether states can require crisis pregnancy centers, many of which are run as Christian ministries, to promote nearby abortionists. In the California case, NIFLA objected to the state’s demand that its workers promote abortion in violation of their faith, and the California courts said their faith wasn’t relevant.

The most recent development came when the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a Baltimore ordinance imposing that requirement.

The court found that the ordinance violated the free speech clause of the First Amendment.

The opinion said: “The compelled speech at issue here raises particularly troubling First Amendment concerns. At bottom, the disclaimer portrays abortion as one among a menu of morally equivalent choices. While that may be the city’s view, it is not the center’s.”

The ruling also found the ordinance was an impermissible attempt by Baltimore officials “to use compelled speech as a weapon to run its ideological foes into the ground.”

Liberty Counsel represents three additional pro-life crisis pregnancy centers that have been fighting the same battle in California, and the Supreme Court has agreed to hear National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra.

The federal government has sounded off on the issue in a legal sidebar from the Congressional Research Service by legislative attorney Victoria Killion.

She points out that the Supreme Court already has endorsed a law requiring doctors performing an abortion to inform the patient of state recommendations for alternatives to abortion.

That issue “could have broad consequences for abortion regulations,” the analysis explains. “Some legal commentators have posited that if the court rules in favor of the NIFLA challengers, the decision could render notice and disclosure requirements championed by abortion opponents susceptible to invalidation.”

However, it is unknown “whether the court would view a law that requires the disclosure of medical risks … on the same plane as a law that requires the dissemination of informational material more generally.”

For the rest of this report, and more, please go to Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

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Poll: Supermajority wants abortion limited to 1st 3 months

pray_to_end_abortion

It’s been 45 years since the Supreme Court created the right to abortion in America, and those supporting the resulting annual March for Life in Washington would like to see that reversed.

They’re not without logical arguments, since the Roe v. Wade opinion pointed out that if the humanity of the unborn ever was documented, the entire case for abortion would collapse. Science since has shown life begins at conception.

But until that happens, Americans want more limits on abortion, which since Roe v. Wade is estimated to have taken the lives of 60 million unborn.

A new Marist Poll from the Knights of Columbus shows a supermajority of Americans would limit the procedure to the first three months of pregnancy, including even a majority of those who say they are pro-abortion.

The poll shows 76 percent, including six in 10 “pro-choice” Americans, believe abortion should be limited to the first three months of a pregnancy or only in “cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.”

Read the tested and proven strategies to defeat the abortion cartel, in “Abortion Free: Your Manual for Building a Pro-Life America One Community at a Time.”

Among the polls results: “Seventy-eight percent of respondents said that laws can protect both the health and well-being of a woman and the life of the unborn, while only 15 percent said laws should protect one and not the other. Surprisingly, 73 percent of those identifying as ‘pro-choice’ agreed that both the unborn and women can be protected. Seventy-three percent of Democrats and 80 percent of independents shared that view.”

“It is hardly surprising that after (60) million abortions in this country, an overwhelming majority of the American people want substantial limits,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “This survey shows clearly that the ‘pro-choice’ label can no longer be assumed to mean support for abortion on demand.

“Nor can abortion be thought of as a partisan issue since majorities of Democrats, Independents and Republicans all agree that it should be substantially restricted. It is high time that our political debates reflected this national consensus and used it as a starting point.”

The poll found 56 percent of Americans believe abortion is “morally wrong,” a figure that surges to 64 percent for abortions “sought in the cases of unborn children with genetic issues like Down syndrome.”

“And by more than 15 percentage points, a majority of Americans say that medical professionals and organizations with moral objections should not be forced to perform or provide insurance coverage for abortion.”

The poll further found, “By more than 20 percentage points, a majority of Americans also say that abortion does a woman more harm than good in the long run (52 percent to 29 percent).”

Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot, vice president of the ADF Center for Life, said the poll “shows that Americans overwhelmingly stand for life and want stronger legal protection for both the unborn and pregnant women who seek alternatives to abortion.”

“Government should protect innocent life and freedom of conscience for healthcare professionals, not Planned Parenthood and its billion-dollar, for-profit abortion business,” he said.

ADF said the poll signals “an emerging ‘pro-life’ consensus in favor of greater protection for pregnant women and their children.”

Among the findings:

  • Seventy-eight percent of respondents said that laws can protect both the health and well-being of a woman and the life of the unborn, while only 15 percent said laws should protect one and not the other. Surprisingly, 73 percent of those identifying as “pro-choice” agreed that both the unborn and women can be protected. Seventy-three percent of Democrats and 80 percent of independents shared that view.
  • Six in 10 “pro-choice” Americans (60 percent) believe abortion should be limited to the first three months of a pregnancy or only in “cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.”
  • More than six in 10 Americans (63 percent) support a ban on abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Fifty-six percent of “pro-choice” respondents support the “20-week ban.”
  • Six in 10 Americans oppose using taxpayer dollars to pay for a woman’s abortion (60 percent), including 40 percent of those who identify as “pro-choice.”
  • A majority of Americans think those with moral objections shouldn’t be legally required to provide abortion services or insurance coverage (54 percent). Only 38 percent oppose freedom of conscience for healthcare professionals.
  • More than three quarters of Americans would limit abortion to — at most — the first three months of pregnancy. That number has consistently been about three quarters or more for the past decade. This year, the survey found that 76 percent of Americans want such limits. Strong majorities of Republicans (92 percent), Independents (78 percent) and Democrats (61 percent) agree, as do a majority of those who identify as pro-choice (60 percent).
  • While a slim majority of Americans (51 percent) identify as pro-choice, even 60 percent of those who identify as such also support substantial limits.

The survey was done Dec. 4-7 of 1,267 adults and another 1,350 on Jan. 8-10.

The poll shows that 40 percent say the issue is a “major factor” in deciding how they vote in presidential, congressional and local elections.

Read the tested and proven strategies to defeat the abortion cartel, in “Abortion Free: Your Manual for Building a Pro-Life America One Community at a Time.”

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U.S. withholds additional $45 million from terror-linked U.N. agency

United Nations flags

Days after announcing it was withholding $65 million from a U.N. agency supporting Palestinian refugees, the United States announced it will not provide a separate $45 million it had pledged to the agency, according to the State Department.

As WND reported, the State Department announced Tuesday it is withholding $65 million the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, UNWRA, warning any additional U.S. donations would depend on changes in how the agency operates and is funded. In 2016, the U.S. donated $355 million to UNWRA.

The $45 million allotment was meant for food aid as part of the UNRWA’s West Bank/Gaza Emergency Appeal.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert explained to reporters Thursday that the $45 million was not a guarantee.

“At this time, we will not be providing that, but that does not mean — I want to make it clear — that does not mean that it will not be provided in the future,” Nauert said.

“Money coming in from other countries needs to increase as well to continue paying for all those refugees,” she said, adding that the U.N. agency needs to reform.

Learn the true aims of Palestinian leadership from the son of a top Hamas operative. “Son of Hamas” is now available in softcover with an all-new chapter about events since the book’s release such as the revelation of Mosab Yousef’s Israeli intelligence handler’s true identity and Homeland Security’s effort to deport the author.

Senior PLO leader Hanan Ashrawi

Senior PLO leader Hanan Ashrawi (Wikipedia)

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organization, called the State Department’s freezing of funds “cruelty” toward an “innocent and vulnerable population,” Reuters reported.

The Palestinian envoy to Washington, Husam Zomlot, said Palestinian refugees “and children’s access to basic humanitarian services, such as food, health care and education, is not a bargaining chip but a U.S. and international obligation.”

However, noted Islam expert Robert Spencer, director of Jihad Watch, contended the move “is not about cutting food money, contrary to the lies of Husam Zumlot and others.”

“The UNRWA has multiple links to jihad terror. It is a viciously corrupt and dishonest organization, bent on enabling the jihad against Israel and willing to lie brazenly in the process. Every penny of U.S. aid should be withheld from the UNRWA, permanently,” he said.

In August, UNRWA was reported to be under scrutiny by the U.S. Congress and the Israeli Knesset for links to terrorism, with evidence Hamas runs military programs with live weapons for tens of thousands of Palestinian children who attend UNRWA schools.

UNRWA in June was caught using images of a girl in a bombed-out building in Syria in a major global fundraising campaign, falsely claiming the girl was a victim of Israel in Gaza.

On Jan. 2, President Trump tweeted that the U.S. gives the Palestinians “HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect.”

Trump said that “with the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?”

Spencer remarked regarding the previous withheld allotment that it is “$65 million that the ‘Palestinians’ won’t have to give to jihad terrorists.”

Trump has vowed to curtail aid to the Palestinians for a number of reasons, including the Palestinian Authority’s payment of “salaries” to convicted terrorists.”

The U.S. contributes about $600 million annually to the PA, totaling more than $5.2 billion since 1994.

WND reported last week a British citizen who was brutally attacked by Palestinian Authority-sponsored terrorists is asking the British Parliament to investigate whether funds the U.K. has provided to the PA are being used to promote terrorism and support jailed terrorists. Israel’s Defense Ministry found that the PA spent a total of $358 million, or about 7 percent of its total annual budget, on terrorist stipends last year.

‘It is time for this absurdity to end’

The U.S. is the largest donor to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, providing nearly 30 percent of its budget. The agency serves some 5 million Palestinian refugees from the 1948 war and their descendants in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the U.N., applauded the curbing of aid to UNRWA by the U.S., arguing the agency uses the money to support propaganda against Israel and maintain the refugee situation for political purposes.

“It is time for this absurdity to end and for humanitarian funds to be directed towards their intended purpose: the welfare of refugees,” Danon said in a statement.
Israel accuses the U.N. agency of aiding and abetting Palestinian terrorism and asserts UNRWA’s staff betray bias against Israel.

State Department spokeswoman Nauert said other nations need to share some of the financial burden.

“We don’t believe that taking care of other nations and other people have to be solely the United States’ responsibility,” she said.
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