Thursday, July 14, 2016

Parents lose custody of malnourished toddler fed vegan diet

A 14-MONTH-OLD Italian boy is recovering from malnutrition after his parents reportedly fed him a vegan diet without proper supplementation.

The Telegraph reported that the boy, whose name wasn’t disclosed, weighed slightly more than a newborn after his grandparents took him to the hospital, where doctors found he had calcium levels slightly above what is necessary for survival. Italian authorities have removed the parents’ custodial rights of their child.

“It is not a problem to choose different or unusual kinds of nutrition, and we certainly do not want to enter into a discussion of the merits of the decision. But since birth, the baby should have had support in this case with calcium and iron,” Luca Bernardo, director of pediatrics at the Milan hospital that took the boy in, told the Telegraph.

An estimated 2.8 per cent of the population in Italy is vegan.
The baby’s low calcium levels caused him to suffer a congenital heart condition, which compelled doctors to perform emergency surgery.

“This forces us to reflect on uncommon feeding regimes, even if in this case it was complicated by a cardiac malformation,” Bernardo told the news website.

In Italy, where an estimated 2.8 per cent of the population is vegan, four other Italian children have been hospitalised for malnutrition within the past 18 months, according to the Telegraph.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics doesn’t advise parents against feeding their children a vegetarian diet as long as it’s well supplemented with vitamins B12, vitamin D, calcium and iron. However, the group recommends parents interested in this route consult a dietitian.

The future of the Italian toddler remains to be seen. The Telegraph reported that he is recovering in the hospital, and authorities are determining whether his grandparents will gain custody.


Backdown? Iowa Civil Rights Agency Says It Won’t Tell Pastors What to Preach on Sexuality

Iowa’s human rights agency, in a “clarification,” says it will not muzzle churches that teach on matters of biblical sexuality, nor force them to open single-sex restrooms to members of the opposite sex.

The Iowa Civil Rights Commission said it has revised its brochure on “Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity” to state that churches generally are exempt from certain provisions of the state’s civil rights law.

“The revision replaces the previous version which had not been updated since 2008 and clarifies that religious activities by a church are exempt from the Iowa Civil Rights Act,” the commission said in a press release announcing its July 8 decision.

Cary Gordon, senior pastor at Cornerstone World Outreach in Sioux City, Iowa, told The Daily Signal for an article published July 6 that he “would hate to see a day” when the state arrests a pastor for doing his biblical duty.

“The Iowa Civil Rights Commission has never considered a complaint against a church or other place of worship on this issue,” Kristin H. Johnson, the commission’s director, said in a prepared statement. Johnson added:

The Iowa Civil Rights Commission has not done anything to suggest it would be enforcing these laws against ministers in the pulpit, and there has been no new publication or statement from the [commission] raising the issue. The commission regrets the confusion caused by the previous publication.

In 2007, long before the current uproar over Americans using restrooms based on their gender identity, Iowa expanded its civil rights law to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes.

The Iowa Civil Rights Commission published a brochure explaining its interpretation of the law for places of public accommodation such as hotels and restaurants. It said churches generally are not exempt, according to legal organization First Liberty Institute, which represents Gordon’s church.

“The First Amendment was written to protect the rights of churches to teach and live out their faith without fear of government intrusion,” Kelly Shackelford, president and CEO of First Liberty Institute, said in an article on First Liberty’s website.

“The First Amendment was written to protect the rights of churches to teach and live out their faith without fear of government intrusion.” —@_KShackelford

Shackelford’s organization sent a “demand letter” July 5 on behalf of Cornerstone World Outreach, Gordon’s 900-member church, requesting “retraction of all prior statements regarding the ability of the state to interfere with churches’ doctrine and operation, and that it grant full exemption to the church.”

Another legal group, Alliance Defending Freedom, filed a federal lawsuit July 4 on behalf of Fort Des Moines Church of Christ in Des Moines, Iowa, regarding the constitutionality of Iowa’s law as applied to churches.

“Cosmetic changes to the alarming language in one brochure won’t fix the unconstitutionality of the Iowa Civil Rights Act,” Christiana Holcomb, Alliance Defending Freedom legal counsel, said in a written statement.

Alliance Defending Freedom will continue to challenge Iowa’s law, Holcomb said.

“We’re taking the state at its word that it will not encroach on the church in any way,” Chelsey Youman, counsel and chief of staff for First Liberty Institute, said in a written statement.

Gordon, in a press release from First Liberty, said he accepts the commission’s apology, but with “clear reservations.”

“We will continue to monitor their activities and stand ready to defend all churches at any time,” the pastor said.


Religious Liberty and Same-Sex Marriage Takes Center Stage in Congress

Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle are bracing for what is likely to be a contentious hearing Tuesday on Capitol Hill  over legislation aimed at protecting individuals and organizations who hold traditional views about marriage and sexuality.

The long-awaited hearing, called by Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, will examine how the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision has affected people who hold traditional views on marriage and review legislation that would protect those people from facing adverse actions by the government.

The bill being debated, called the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), has 171 co-sponsors, all of them Republican except Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill.

The measure was introduced in both the House and the Senate more than a year ago. Conservatives are eager for Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, to allow the bill to get marked up in committee and then move to the House floor for a full vote.

“It is unacceptable that Chairman Chaffetz and Republican leaders have not prioritized consideration of FADA,” said Michael Needham, chief executive officer of Heritage Action for America, which is urging members to move the bill forward, in a press release. “The bill must be marked up before the Republican House majority leaves for a seven-week recess.”

Liberals, however, have major problems with the legislation, saying it would roll back “critical protections” for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families, and are lobbying members to vote against it.

Upon learning of the hearing, a group of 70 left-leaning national, state, and local groups sent a letter to Chaffetz urging him to cancel the event. The hearing, “Religious Liberty and H.R. 2808, the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA),” falls on the one-month anniversary of the terrorist attack on an Orlando gay nightclub that resulted in 49 people dead and another 53 injured.

“Congress should be holding hearings on the needs of the victims, their families, and survivors of the Orlando attacks, or on ways to better protect the LGBTQ community from bias-motivated violence or discrimination,” said David Stacy, director of government affairs for the liberal Human Rights Campaign in a statement. “But instead, only a month after the attack, they are unconscionably holding a hearing on harmful legislation that singles out the LGBTQ community.”

Conservatives say that after the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling, the religious liberty conflicts have escalated. During questioning for that case, Justice Samuel Alito asked U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, who was arguing in support of same-sex marriage, whether a religious school could lose its tax-exempt status for opposing same-sex marriage. In response, Verrilli said, ‘‘It’s certainly going to be an issue.’’

Now, more than a year later, conservatives believe legislation is needed to safeguard those with traditional beliefs about marriage and sexuality from being denied federal grants, losing their tax-exempt status, or being otherwise punished by the federal government.

The First Amendment Defense Act would protect a religious school, for example, from losing its tax-exempt status, and prevent a federal employee from being fired for holding traditional views about marriage.

The Human Rights Campaign voiced concern that housing shelters receiving federal grants could cite FADA as grounds for denying a same-sex couple accommodations, or that an emergency women’s shelter receiving federal grants could deny services to a couple because they’re in a same-sex marriage.

The legislation would not generally apply to private businesses, such as the bakery run by Aaron and Melissa Klein who refused to make a cake for a same-sex wedding. However, it could affect private businesses that are recipients of federal contracts or grants, licenses, or tax benefits, for example, by preventing the government from taking adverse actions against them for holding traditional views about marriage.

Both Rep. Raúl Labrador, R-Idaho, and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, will testify on Tuesday morning as witnesses in favor of the legislation, along with The Witherspoon Institute’s Matthew Franck, and Kristen Waggoner, senior counsel and senior vice president at Alliance Defending Freedom.

Alliance Defending Freedom is a Christian conservative nonprofit that represents a number of clients who have faced adverse actions for acting on their beliefs about marriage and sexuality. One of their clients, former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran, will testify at the hearing, sharing how he personally stands to benefit from protections the First Amendment Defense Act would provide.

On Jan. 6, 2015, Cochran was fired from his job after self-publishing a men’s devotional book addressing marriage and sexuality from a biblical perspective.

Tuesday, Cochran, an African-American who grew up in poverty, will share his account of race-based discrimination growing up in Shreveport, La., and why he feels the First Amendment Defense Act is necessary to prohibit “government discrimination” for people who hold traditional beliefs about marriage.

Democrat witnesses include Jim Obergefell, the leading plaintiff in the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage case. Joining him is Barney Frank, a former congressman from Massachusetts, and Katherine Franke, director at the Columbia School of Law Center for Gender and Sexuality Law.


Israel’s diplomatic spring

We are living at a time when preconceived notions are crashing down one on top of the other.

We thought that nothing would ever change in the Arab world. But the Arab world hasn't merely changed, large portions of it have collapsed. And regimes that have so far survived are beating a path to Israel's door.

We thought that American dominance in the Middle East would last forever. And today the US is withdrawing. Its withdrawal may be short-lived, or it may stay out for the foreseeable future. Whatever the case, Russia is already picking up the pieces.

That would be shocking enough. But even worse, as it has withdrawn, the US has turned a cold shoulder on Israel and its Sunni allies in a bid to build an alliance with Iran.

We thought that the European Union was the rising world power. We thought the euro was the currency of tomorrow.

Instead, Britain decided to bolt the EU and the Eurozone is a disaster zone. European economic growth is sclerotic. European societies are coming apart at the seams under the crushing weight of failed monetary policies, overregulation and mass immigration from the ruins of the Arab world.

Now we are witnessing the collapse of yet another preconceived notion.

For more than twenty years - indeed, since the initiation of the phony peace process with the PLO in 1993 - the who's who of Israel's chattering classes have told us that our growing diplomatic isolation is the result of our failure to make peace with the PLO. Everything will change for the better, immediately, they tell us, the minute we give up Jerusalem, expel hundreds of thousands of Israelis from their homes in Judea and Samaria, and hand security control of the Jordan Valley over to someone else.

But amazingly, despite the fact that there is no peace process, rather than suffering from diplomatic collapse, it is springtime for Israeli diplomacy as governments around the world seek out closer ties with Israel.

And they aren't coming to us, despite our supposed moral failings. They are coming to us because they admire us.

Exhibit A: Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Last week Putin delivered an address before the All Russian Historical Assembly about the importance of teaching Russian history to Russia's citizens. Putin used Israel as a model for how historical knowledge empowers a nation.

Putin said, "Israel...relies and develops its identity and brings up its citizens with reliance on historical examples."

Putin's use of Israel as a positive role model showed that Putin's sudden courtship of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is not solely the product of strategic and economic interests.

He happens to admire Israel.

Next week Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will embark on a five day visit to Africa. During the trip he will visit Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia. He may meet with additional heads of state during one of his stops. Netanyahu's visit marks the first prime ministerial trip to Africa since the late Yitzhak Rabin visited in the early 1990s.

Africa isn't Russia. But it is an important arena.

For nearly a century and a half, Africa has been the playing ground of world powers. In the 19thcentury, the European powers divided it up among themselves. In the Cold War, the newly independent states of Africa were sucked into the superpower competition as the US and the Soviet Union competed for turf through their African proxies.

Since the end of the Cold War, both world powers and regional ones have been drawn to Africa who view it as a convenient economic and strategic stomping ground.

Over the past decade and a half, China has emerged as the dominant economic player in Africa. The Chinese move from state to state building infrastructures in exchange for mining and petroleum contracts.

The US, for its part, has opted not to challenge China's economic dominance in Africa. The US's nonchalance is either a function of indifference or ignorance of the toll that China's economic behavior will eventually take on US companies in Africa.

Case in point is Gabon. The West African nation is an oil power. According to business sources in Gabon, President Ali Bongo Ondimba is a pro-Western Muslim. He is interested in expanded trade ties to the US.

Ondimba's electoral opponent, Jean Ping, a former senior UN official and former foreign minister, is oriented towards China. Yet, the US is allegedly supporting Ping over Ondimba due to dissatisfaction with the latter's human rights record. If Ping is elected in August, US oil companies in Gabon are liable to see their contracts challenged.

Human rights and democracy promotion are major themes of US policy in Africa. Since the 1998 al Qaeda bombings of the US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, counterterrorism has also been a major concern. During his presidency, George W. Bush established the US military's Africa Command to run US operations in Africa.

However, as part of Obama's policy of winding down the US's war against terrorism, and following the US's contribution to the overthrow of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, the US has constrained its operations. Its minimalistic approach to fighting Boko Haram in West Africa and al Qaeda offshoots in East Africa makes clear that the US's strategic disarray, after 7 and a half years of the Obama presidency, has not left Africa unaffected.

World powers are not the only players in Africa. Regional powers are also on the scene. Iran, for instance, views Africa as a theater for expanding its influence over the Middle East. Last month the Wall Street Journal reported on Iran's growing missionary presence in in West Africa.

Iran and Hezbollah are running Islamic centers in Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania and Cameroon, and they're getting results. Whereas in 1980, a Pew Survey showed no adherents to Shiite Islam in Africa, today, 12 percent of Nigeria's 90 million Muslims are Shiites. So are 21 percent of Muslims in Chad, 20 percent in Tanzania, and eight percent in Ghana.

Much of the missionary work is being handled by Lebanese expatriates in West Africa. Many of these former Lebanese are suspected of having close ties with Hezbollah. Indeed, earlier this year, the US Treasury Department named three Lebanese nationals living in Nigeria as Hezbollah operatives.

During Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's tenure as Iranian president, Teheran expended enormous resources expanding and deepening its presence in Africa. Among the fruits of his efforts was the Eritrean regime's agreement to allow Iran to operate a naval base in the Horn of Africa. Iran's cooperation with Sudan, and its use of Sudanese territory to ship advanced weapons to Gaza reached new heights.

Iran's Africa strategy took a major hit earlier this year, however. Owing to massive Saudi pressure, and, in all likelihood, massive payoffs, Sudan, Comoros, Somalia and Djibouti cut their diplomatic ties with Iran in January. Sudan even joined Saudi Arabia in its campaign against Iran in Yemen. Eritrea reportedly permitted the Saudis to launch operations in Yemen from its territory.

This then brings us back to Israel, and Netanyahu's visit to Africa.

In recent years, Israel has also been expanding its relations with African nations. Even South Africa, Israel's greatest antagonist in Africa indicated earlier this year that its hostility isn't all-consuming. In March, Foreign Ministry Director General Dore Gold had a prolonged visit to South Africa where he was the guest of his South African counterpart.

South Africa aside, African nations from all over the continent view Israel as a rich source of technology and security expertise they are keen to tap. They also view Israel as a rising economic power. With an average economic growth rate of 6 percent, Africa is also an attractive market for Israeli companies across a swathe of industries.

The most practical lesson from power politics in Africa is that for Africans, nothing is a done deal. African states can cooperate simultaneously with competing outside powers and everyone benefits. For instance, according to reports, Eritrea allows Iran, Israel and Saudi Arabia to operate on its territory simultaneously. In other words, there is no reason to ever consider anyone in anyone's pocket, and no reason not to ask for what we want. We may get it.

In recent years, Israel has done this to our advantage in the diplomatic realm, long thought to be a lost cause.

Last September, a draft resolution at the International Atomic Energy Agency calling for Israel to open its nuclear sites to UN inspectors came up for a vote. It was defeated due to opposition from African states.

So too, in late 2000, a draft UN Security Council resolution recognizing "Palestine" was defeated because Nigeria and Rwanda chose to abstain from voting. The African representatives' action caught supporters of the resolution by surprise.

The Israeli leader most responsible for those successes was then foreign minister Avigdor Liberman. During his tenure at the Foreign Ministry, Liberman conducted two prolonged visits to Africa during which he visited seven countries, including Nigeria and Rwanda.

There is every reason to expect that during Netanyahu's visit to Africa, Israel will expand and deepen its ties with Africa still further. And at some point, those deepened ties will result in further African support for Israel at the UN.

This returns us to our shattered accepted wisdom about Israel's diplomatic isolation.

The view that Israel's diplomatic fate is directly tied to its willingness to give up Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem is based on the Eurocentric view that the EU is the most important player in the diplomatic arena and that Israel cannot be successful unless Brussels supports us. For Israel's elites, the fact that the EU is hostile to Israel is taken as proof that we are morally compromised and don't deserve their support.

But as Israel's diplomatic rise in Africa, Asia, Russia and beyond makes clear, the Eurocentric view is wrong. Israel needn't waste its time and energy trying to appease the Europeans. Not only is it an exercise in futility, given Europe's boundless and unhinged hostility. It is also unnecessary, given Europe's economic weakness and political decay.

Due to our elite's continued allegiance to the Eurocentric view, scant media attention has been paid to Israel's diplomatic blossoming. Much of the public is unaware that far from being isolated, Israel is enjoying a diplomatic rise unseen since the end of the Cold War.

The time however, has come for us to recognize the change. For the faster we come to terms with our new position, the faster we will maximize its potential.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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