The Romeike Family
The German homeschooling family that fled to America in order to homeschool their children has
been denied asylum by the Obama administration
(Posted by Bryana Johnson on May 21, 2013)
The verdict on a massively significant case
in the Sixth Court of Appeals has been returned. In a shocking development, the court has upheld the Obama Administration’s bid to deny asylum to the Romeike family, who fled to the US in 2008 after persecution in their native Germany for homeschooling their five children. The decision was announced
Tuesday by the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). The HSLDA has been representing the Romeike family throughout a seven-year struggle to educate their children in the way they think best.
Uwe Romeike and his wife Hannelore are music teachers and evangelical Christians who withdrew their children from German public schools in 2006, after becoming concerned that the educational material employed by the school was undermining the tenets of their Christian faith, and that the school was not providing their children with an ideal learning environment. “As we were confronted with opposition to our choice we began to feel more and more that our faith required us to homeschool our children,”
Uwe explained Wednesday.
Unfortunately for the Romeikes, homeschooling has been illegal in Germany since it was outlawed by Adolf Hitler in 1938. According to the German Supreme Court, the purpose of the homeschooling ban is to, “counteract the development of religious and philosophically motivated parallel societies.”
The family accrued the equivalent of around $10,000 in fines, and faced police visits to their home and the forcible removal of their children from the home. On one occasion, their children were dragged away and taken to school in police vans. Uwe explained in an interview with The Blaze
that current German law does not require police to obtain a court order before removing children from parental custody.
In 2008 the Romeikes fled Germany to seek asylum in the land of the free and the home of the brave. In 2010, the HSLDA helped them to become the first family ever granted asylum in the US for the protection of their homeschooling rights. Federal immigration judge Lawrence Burnam, who initially granted the Romeikes political asylum, ruled that they had a reasonable fear of persecution for their beliefs if they returned to their homeland. He called the German policy “utterly repellent to everything we believe as Americans.”
However, it seems the Obama administration doesn’t concur. In 2012, the Board of Immigration Appeals tossed Judge Burnam’s ruling, forcing the family to head back to court, where Attorney General Eric Holder sought to revoke their asylum and force them to return to Germany.
HSLDA’s Mike Farris explained, “The U.S. government contended that the Romeikes’ case failed to show that there was any discrimination based on religion because, among other reasons, the Romeikes did not prove that all homeschoolers were religious, and that not all Christians believed they had to homeschool.”
In Farris’ opinion, this shows that, “the US government does not understand that religious freedom is an individual right. Just because all adherents of a particular religion do not abide by a certain standard does not mean that individuals who feel compelled to abide by this standard do not have the right to do so. Religious decisions must be made by individuals, not by groups
A crowd of the American people agree with Farris and have rallied around the Romeike family by signing a formal petition
on the White House website. Part of the petitions reads, “Every state in the United States of America recognizes the right to homeschool, and the U.S. has the world’s largest and most vibrant homeschool community. Regrettably, this family faces deportation in spite of the persecution they will suffer in Germany. The Romeikes hope for the same freedom our forefathers sought. Please grant the privilege of liberty to the Romeike family.”
The number of signers has exceeded the threshold necessary to earn a response from the White House, and the response is still being eagerly awaited. However, the verdict from the court has created a major setback for the Romeikes and makes their status in the US uncertain. The family may be faced with deportation.
Michael Donnelly, an attorney for the Romeikes, told ABC News the family remains hopeful.
"They feel very comfortable that, in the end, things are going to work out for them
," he said. "There is a lot of support for this family in Congress, it is possible that Congress might take some action."
Farris expressed his indignation at the verdict, stating, "You can't look at the lenient attitude to 11 million people who came here for economic opportunity, why we would not treat people who come here for economic freedom on par with people who came here for religious freedom I don't understand.”
Farris said the family is planning to appeal the decision first to the entire Sixth Circuit Court and then to the Supreme Court, if necessary.
–Deportation of German homeschool family affects US homeschool freedom
–Interview with the Romeike Family
A mentally handicapped woman who narrowly escaped a forced abortion in Nevada has delivered a healthy baby
(Posted by Bryana Johnson on May 13, 2012)
In November of last year, the case of mentally-handicapped Elisa Bauer attracted nationwide attention when a Reno, Nevada judge asserted that he had the right to force the Catholic woman to undergo an abortion and sterilization against her will.
Elisa Bauer of Washoe County is a 32-year-old woman who suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome. Adopted by William and Amy Bauer in 1992, Elisa is an epileptic who reportedly has the mental and social capacities of a six-year-old. Her parents, who retained their guardianship over her and had legal authority to make final decisions concerning her health and welfare, sympathized with Elisa’s insistence on carrying the baby to term, and had six qualified couples lined up, who were eager to adopt the baby, even if he or she turned out to be a special needs child. The parents were also providing Bauer with appropriate pre-natal care for a high-risk pregnancy.
However, when Washoe County Social Services expressed their concern that Bauer’s pregnancy would be detrimental to her health and that of her then-unborn baby, the case went to court, where Judge Egan Walker reportedly asserted, “I have inherent authority to [override the wishes of Elisa’s parents] because the court appointed the guardians and they are agents of the court.” The court-summoned doctor recommended abortion and sterilization in no uncertain terms, stating, “End this pregnancy and tie her tubes.”
Fortunately for the Bauer family, the story prompted outrage across the nation, as readers scrambled to file petitions and place phone calls and express their views in strong terms. Kirsten Anderson of LifeSiteNews, who originally broke the story, writes,
“The stories we posted about the case spread like wildfire around Facebook and Twitter. Readers were understandably horrified that something like this could happen in America. They wanted to know what they could do to stop it. Rebekah O’Brien, our social media coordinator, suggested they call the judge’s office and make their voices heard. She provided his contact information. Our readers filled his voicemail box with messages until the system couldn’t store any more. After that, they called the governor. That was about the time the court started changing its tone.”
Elisa’s adoptive father, William Bauer, wrote on the facebook support page, Save Elisa’s Baby,
“Even though the judge proclaimed that our religious views were of no effect in his courtroom; even though the judge clipped our statements and said he wanted only expert opinions; even though he brought in several experts, including lawyers, who wanted death for the baby; even though the judge treated us parents as if we sat on the stoop of our trailer eating pork and beans out of the can and watching re-runs of He Haw... Elisa's baby won a right to be born. Our attorney, supplied by the Thomas More Foundation and by another pro-life group, arranged a mediated conclusion to the treachery planned. We gave up our guardianship in trade for the life of our grandchild. The due date is May 11, 2013. The baby appears normal, and, since Elisa's retardation is not genetic, the baby will probably have normal intelligence.”
On May 2nd, Elisa Bauer gave birth to Cierra Marie, a healthy, full-term baby. The Bauer family’s lawyer, Jason Guinasso, wrote, “She is sweet and good natured. By all measures, she is perfectly healthy and sublimely beautiful.” Guinasso said that a loving adoptive family has been identified for baby Cierra, adding, “I can't adequately express how seeing her face makes my heart full.”
(This article first posted at The Washington Times Communities.)
Pro-life protest on the US Supreme Court steps
40 years after the infamous Roe v. Wade ruling, where does America stand on abortion -- and how did
we get here?
(Posted by Bryana Johnson on April 27, 2013)
Abortion has been legal in the US since 1973, when the passage of Roe v. Wade divided the nation on lines that still separate the champions of unborn life from the advocates of the woman’s right to choose. For a generation of young adults who have no memory of the years before abortion was legal, it may seem that this conflict is interminable and has no end. However, while the battle is still raging as fiercely as ever, in recent years some signs have appeared that seem to indicate a shift in the tide of popular opinion.
In 2009, a Gallup poll indicated that the majority of American adults were identifying as pro-life, rather than pro-choice. Gallup commented, “This is the first time a majority of U.S. adults have identified themselves as pro-life since Gallup began asking this question in 1995.” Since that date, subsequent polls show that the pro-life majority has remained more or less constant.
What occasioned the shift? While it’s hard to say for certain, it’s undeniable that technological advances have enabled physicians and ultrasound technicians to gain more understanding than ever before of the nature of life inside the womb. 3D ultrasounds allow parents to see lifelike photographs of their unborn children and the vast accumulation of medical experience that has occurred since 1973 points relentlessly to the complexity and humanity of the fetus.
Disillusionment with the nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, may also have something to do with the trend towards cultural acceptance of the pro-life message. Virgina-based student activist group, Live Action, started by then-fifteen-year-old Lila Rose, has generated nation-wide media coverage with their videos exposing Planned Parenthood corruption. Other reports from former Planned Parenthood employees have drawn attention to the massive fraud perpetrated against taxpayers by the abortion giant.
However, it is not far-fetched to surmise that the biggest factor influencing this astonishing and even unexpected trend is the accumulated testimony of hundreds who have come out of the abortion industry or have experienced abuse at its hands. From abortion survivors to post-abortive women, to former employees of abortion providers, to victims of botched abortions at the hands of physicians like Kermit Gosnell, the cries proclaiming the brutality of the industry have becoming impossible to ignore.
Nurse Kathleen Malloy of Jacksonville Florida writes of her own experiences in this disturbing fashion,
“I worked the 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift, and when we weren’t busy, I’d go out to help with the newborns. One night I saw a bassinet outside the nursery. There was a baby in this bassinet – a crying, perfectly formed baby – but there was a difference in this child. She had been scalded. She was the child of a saline abortion.
This little girl looked as if she had been put in a pot of boiling water. No doctor, no nurse, no parent, to comfort this hurt, burned child. She was left alone to die in pain. They wouldn’t let her in the nursery – they didn’t even bother to cover her. I was ashamed of my profession that night! It’s hard to believe this can happen in our modern hospitals, but it does. It happens all the time. I thought a hospital was a place to heal the sick – not a place to kill. While doctors will go to extraordinary lengths to save the lives of premature babies such as these, babies born alive during abortions at the same age are left to die.
I asked a nurse at another hospital what they do with their babies that are aborted by saline. Unlike my hospital, where the baby was left alone struggling for breath, their hospital puts the infant in a bucket and puts the lid on. Suffocation! Death by suffocation!”
Supporters of legal abortion are quick to dismiss such heartbreaking anecdotes as addressing circumstances unique to late-term abortions, which they tout as being only a miniscule portion of abortions performed in the US. However, it is a telling observation concerning the entire industry that it has repeatedly opposed all legislation restricting these brutal late-term abortions. In a shocking incident in March, a Planned Parenthood representative from Florida went so far as to voice support for “post-birth abortions.” Fortunately for humanity, the vast number of Americans don’t concur, and the majority seems to be slowly but surely pulling away from this callous attitude.
Last month, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul introduced his long-awaited Life At Conception Act before the US Senate. Such bills have been ridiculed for years as useless, and dismissed as attempts on the part of politicians to pander to the pro-life voting bloc. But, despite the fact that Paul’s Life At Conception Act is unlikely to ever get a vote in the US Senate, there is still something different about this year’s bill.
What’s different is that this year, for the first time since the war on abortion became main-stream in the US, two states have already passed historic legislation stating that life begins at conception and that unborn persons must be afforded all of the rights and protections offered under the US Constitution to all persons.
Just a few years ago, it seemed this kind of legislation could never be passed. Yet Kansas’ bill was signed into law by Governor Sam Brownback last week, a testimony to how much can be done by dedicated activists with science on their side. The new law reads,
"On and after July 1, 2013, the laws of this state shall be interpreted and construed to acknowledge on behalf of the unborn child at every stage of development, all the rights, privileges and immunities available to other persons, citizens and residents of this state, subject only to the constitution of the United States, and decisional interpretations thereof by the United States Supreme Court.”
The new law bans abortion providers from providing sex-education materials for schools and from accessing public funds or tax breaks. It also requires doctors to provide material about fetal development and resources to help pregnant women. Additionally, the law bans sex-selective abortions.
North Dakota’s bill has not yet been signed by Governor Dalrymple, but provides for a statewide referendum to be on the ballot in 2014.
Obviously, neither of the bills directly address the issue of banning abortion entirely. Legislators say they are hoping the new language will prompt a lawsuit that will end up at the Supreme Court level and result in the annulment of the infamous Roe v. Wade ruling. That they’ve made it that far is a cause for great jubilation in the ranks of the pro-life movement, and serious consternation among the supporters of legal abortion.(First posted at The Washington Times Communities.)
Planned Parenthood representative: babies born alive & breathing after abortion can be killed
(Posted by Bryana Johnson on April 1, 2013)
A baby was born alive during a botched saline abortion on April 6, 1977. Weighing just two lbs and severely injured by the abortion solution which had burned her skin, the child was premature and had cerebral palsy. Her parents, two young teenagers, released her to the foster care system of the state, and she was later adopted at the age of four. Gianna Jessen is now a recording artist, public speaker and pro-life activist who seeks to raise awareness regarding the rights of abortion survivors. She understands, in a way many of us cannot, the brutal nature of abortion and the value of laws that protect infants born alive. She knows that if someone at the hospital where she was accidentally born had not intervened on her behalf, she could have been left to die in a utility room on a heap of soiled linens.
In 2008, nurse Jill Stanek explained in a riveting and shocking video that many abortion survivors have not fared as well as Gianna. Many have been denied medical care and simply abandoned. As 2012 Presidential Candidate Ron Paul shared in his ad, “Life,” during his time as an ob/gyn doctor in Texas, he witnessed viable and breathing babies that were delivered after botched abortion procedures who were left to die, while premature babies born to expectant parents were given every consideration and surrounded by doctors and nurses fighting to prolong their lives.
It is incidents like these that have inspired “Born Alive” legislation all around the nation, providing legal protection for infants who survive an abortion procedure. This week, one such bill went up before a committee in the Florida House of Representatives.
Horrifically, although not surprisingly, the “Infants Born Alive” bill was challenged by the nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood. The Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates sent Alisa LaPolt Snow to present their case at the committee hearing. The video of her testimony is cringe-worthy and horrible, but profoundly indicative of the criminally callous nature of the abortion industry.
“It is just really hard for me to even ask you this question because I’m almost in disbelief,” Rep. Jim Boyd says to Snow. “If a baby is born on a table as a result of a botched abortion, what would Planned Parenthood want to have happen to that child that is struggling for life?”
The response Snow has to give to his question is so reprehensible that she even seems embarrassed to give it. “We believe that any decision that’s made should be left up to the woman, her family, and the physician,” she manages to say.
Rep. Daniel Davis then goes on to probe a little deeper. “What happens in a situation where a baby is alive, breathing on a table, moving. What do your physicians do at that point?”
Snow bristles. “I do not have that information,” she replies. “I am not a physician, I am not an abortion provider. So I do not have that information.”
“I understand that you’re not a physician,” Evans rejoins. “But you do represent physicians who do perform this activity. Can you tell me what happens when a baby is alive on the table? At that point, what do they do with the baby that is struggling to live?”
“I don’t know,” says Snow hurriedly. “And, as it’s been referenced earlier, you know, we don’t know how prevalent this situation is.” Does she know that her statements are shocking to the civilized world as she pauses here and allows her eyes to dart about uneasily? Does it occur to her that even if the situation only happens once in the whole state of Florida, someone is going to be grateful someday for the law that gave them life? Someone, perhaps, like the beautiful Gianna Jessen?
Evans’ looks stunned as he appeals to the chairman. “I—I don’t know how else I can get an answer Mr. Chairman,” he says.
Rep. Jose Oliva addresses Snow again. “You stated that a baby born alive on a table as a result of a botched abortion, that that decision should be left to the doctor and the family. Is that what you’re saying?” The barbarity of this concept is hard to take in all at once.
Snow looks uncomfortable as she reiterates her earlier statement. “That decision should be between the patient and the health care provider.”
Oliva doesn’t miss a beat. “I think that at that point, the patient would be the child struggling on the table. Wouldn’t you agree?” he counters.
Snow pauses, caught off-guard. She laughs. “Uhh, that’s a – really good question. I don’t know how to – answer that,” she says. “I – uh, you know, I think – I would be glad to have more, you know, conversations with you about this.” She nods her head decidedly, signaling that she has nothing else to say. She has been defeated.
Or has she? In a civil, humane society, where vulnerable and innocent lives are respected, Snow’s little testimony would be a scandal and an abomination. To people who do honor and cherish the lives of babies, it is just that. Unfortunately, it’s not immediately clear that we do live in such a society. And when people like this woman hold high positions among us and lobby on behalf of the rights of adults to kill living children, my doubts get more and more pronounced.
The bill ultimately passed the committee on Wednesday.
As sequester woes shut down White House tours, $4 million in taxpayer money goes to study alcoholism, obesity in lesbians
(posted by Bryana Johnson on March 22, 2013)
Last week, some disturbance was caused by news that the National Health Institute has awarded $1.5 million for a study to determine why 75% of lesbians are obese, compared to only 50% of heterosexual women. The issue is being called a matter of “public health importance,” and the grant reads,
“Obesity is one of the most critical public health issues affecting the U.S. today. Racial and socioeconomic disparities in the determinants, distribution, and consequences of obesity are receiving increasing attention. However, one area that is only beginning to be recognized is the striking interplay of gender and sexual orientation in obesity disparities. It is now well-established that women of minority sexual orientation are disproportionately affected by the obesity epidemic.”
This study is one of those really crucial programs that is reportedly being threatened by the infamous and hyper-inflated sequester catastrophe. Yesterday, we learned about another one. Apparently, there’s not just an obesity epidemic among lesbian women, but also a plague of alcoholism.
Since 2009, the University of Illinois has been receiving federal grants for a study called, “Cumulative Stress and Hazardous Drinking in a Community of Adult Lesbians.” A description of the grant states,
“Studies using both probability and nonprobability samples provide ample evidence of lesbians' vulnerability to hazardous drinking. However, very little is known about the factors that increase lesbians' risk for hazardous drinking. We propose to build on and extend our study of sexual identity and drinking…to model effects of cumulative stress on hazardous drinking among lesbians.”
Doesn’t this make it a little more difficult to take our elected officials seriously when they babble on about how the teeniest funding cuts constitute the end of life as we know it?
Last month I contacted my congressman’s office to apply for a White House tour later this year. After providing detailed information for all of the members of my party, I was informed that I would hear back from the office regarding the status of my submission in about a month. However, I received a follow up e-mail well before the month was out, and it wasn’t the news I was waiting for.
“I wanted to update you regarding your Washington, DC tour request,” wrote my congressman’s tour coordinator. “Our office has received word today from the White House that:
‘Due to staffing reductions resulting from sequestration, we regret to inform you that White House Tours will be canceled effective Saturday, March 9, 2013 until further notice. Unfortunately, we will not be able to reschedule affected tours.’ ”
Not surprisingly, a number of our US senators and congressmen were incensed by the news that White House tours have been discontinued, reportedly due to funding cuts occasioned by sequestration. Especially since sequestration isn’t really a spending “cut,” after all, but only a reduction in the rate of spending increase.
Kansas Senator Jerry Moran stated, “Cancelling White House tours is an unnecessary and unfair way for the Department of Homeland Security to meet its budget-cutting obligations.”
Is it really, though? What is it that makes one program special and another frivolous? Isn’t everyone just pursuing their own interests and working overtime to milk the federal cash cow?
Huffington Post’s Sam Stein seemed to insinuate as much in his column Thursday, entitled, “White House Tours Obsess GOP Lawmakers Despite Sequestration Hits Back Home.” Examining the complaints of Republican lawmakers following the announcement that the tours had been suspended, he points to the supposedly more serious cuts occurring in the legislators’ home states, as though to chide them for not showing enough concern for their own constituents.
The question is, at a time when our nation is over $16 trillion in debt, should we really be avoiding spending decreases like a plague, and expecting every government official to be fighting to keep as much of the available funding in his own state?
Or should we hope for a common sense response that finds lawmakers stepping up to the plate and laying their lucrative but useless and meddlesome projects on the chopping block? Would it be too much to hope that frivolous programs and studies and foreign aid might give way to a concern like allowing the American people to visit their own national monuments and federal buildings?
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul may have said it best when he wrote on his facebook page, “We supposedly can't find $17,000 a week for school kids to tour the White House, but somehow still have $250 million for Egypt.
And for studies to determine why lesbians get drunk and fat. I’m sure they’ll all be very appreciative.
(For those who are under the impression that this misappropriation of our money is a pair of isolated incidents, a quick look at Senator Coburn’s 2012 Wastebook might be enough to peel the scales from their eyes.)
How NYC Mayor Bloomberg's "big sugary drinks" ban has received a serious setback -- and why that's good for the American people
(posted by Bryana Johnson on March 14, 2013)
I’ve never found occasion to drink a 16 ounce soda in my life, much less one of those newly controversial Big Gulp sizes, which yesterday narrowly escaped being rendered illegal in New York City. Indeed, I consider the regular consumption of such beverages not only ill-advised and unwise but probably irresponsible as well. However, the fact that I am no fan of the Big Gulp does not prevent me from being a wholehearted supporter of Judge Milton Tingling’s ruling this Monday.
Judge Tingling’s strongly-worded statement on the legality of big sugary drinks was a long-awaited response to NYC mayor Bloomberg’s “sugary drink ban.” The mayor caused an uproar several months ago when he announced the ban that was to have gone into effect yesterday. The New York Daily News reports the rule would have banned sales of sugary sodas larger than 16 ounces by restaurants, movie theaters, pushcarts and sports arenas.
A large number of businesses were annoyed. So were a large number of people. Including some who, like me, don’t even buy big sugary drinks. What’s all the fuss about? Well, it comes down to one word: responsibility.
Whereas we, in traditionally American fashion, think it’s the responsibility of the individual to make their own choices about health, Bloomberg thinks that responsibility is just one more in an ever-increasing number of responsibilities that belong to the government. That he holds this view is made especially evident by a recent statement he issued in defense of the ban:
“With so many people contracting diabetes and heart disease,” said the mayor. “With so many children who are overweight and obese, with so many poor neighborhoods suffering the worst of this epidemic . . . it would be irresponsible not to.”
Really? Because people are irresponsible and reckless and sometimes plain dumb, it would be irresponsible not to pass regulations determining how much liquid sugar they are allowed to drink at one time? If history were a testimony to the general rightness of government authority, Bloomberg might have himself a case. Unfortunately, the exact opposite is true.
Even regarding matters of health, our own government has historically proven itself to be no reliable authority – even in very recent years. One simple example is the infamous “food pyramid” we all grew up with as children. Our governing bodies spent our money touting this diagram that purported to show the quintessential nutritional diet. It was drilled into our heads from kindergarten. We thought it was true.
But it isn’t, and it never has been. Nutritionists have known that for years now. In the past couple of years, First Lady Michelle Obama has been spearheading an effort to overhaul the food pyramid and replace it with a new diagram entirely. Rough luck for all those taxpayers who had to contribute for twenty years to a nutrition campaign that claimed 6 to 11 servings of straight carbohydrates were essential to a healthy diet.
Am I suggesting that big sugary drinks might not be unhealthy after all? Of course not. The point is that governments make mistakes too, and it isn’t their responsibility to make our health decisions for us. Especially since they aren’t even very good at it. The NYC ban on sugary drinks is objectionable because it bolsters the false and dangerous idea that such interference on the part of our local and federal authorities is acceptable and to be expected.
“They’re soft drinks,” berate those undaunted believers in the power of the state to save the world. They roll their eyes. “We’re not talking about taking away something that anyone could possibly need to have.” It’s true. We’re not.
But what we are talking about is laying yet another straw on the back of the camel of personal freedom. What we are talking about is one more affirmation of the authority of government officials to determine what the ideal life looks like. It’s a reinforcement of the already too-prevalent belief that the stupidity of mankind in general must be mitigated by the surpassing wisdom of the officials they have elected to positions of power. What we are talking about is little green frogs submerged in a saucepan with wide smiles on their faces, simmering, bubbling, boiling away.
Fortunately, we don’t have to talk about it anymore, for a time at least. Calling the decision “arbitrary and capricious,” Judge Tingling rendered it invalid on Monday, adding that while the Health Board can promote rules to prevent the spread of communicable diseases, it has no power to deal with obesity. Only the City Council has that power, he ruled, explaining, “One of the fundamental tenets of democratic governance here in New York, as well as throughout the nation, is the separation of powers. . . . No one person, agency, department or branch is above or beyond this.”
Mayor Bloomberg has vowed to appeal the court’s ruling, stating,
“Anytime you adopt a groundbreaking policy, special interests will sue. That’s America. We believe that the judge’s decision was clearly in error, and that we will prevail.”
“People are dying every day. This is not a joke,” he went on. “We’re talking about lives versus profits.”
Mayor Bloomberg did get one thing right: we are talking about lives. The issue is that the American people want to live theirs according to their own choices and Mayor Bloomberg thinks he should be the one making the choices for everyone. (Article first posted at The Washington Times Communities)
Why are law enforcement agencies requesting practice targets featuring armed women and children?
(Posted by Bryana Johnson on Mar 2, 2013)
Minnesota-based Law Enforcement Targets, Inc (LET) has been awarded $5.5 million in contracts with the federal government, including $2 million with the Department of Homeland Security. In light of this fact, it’s no wonder that the American people were outraged last week when it was uncovered that the firm had released a series of practice targets featuring a pregnant woman, a child, a young mother and grandparents.
This No More Hesitation series includes seven total targets, titled Pregnant Woman, Older Man 1, Older Man 2, Older Woman, Young Mother, Young Girl, and Little Brother. Each of the depicted subjects is armed. The “pregnant woman” is seen in front of the backdrop of a nursery. The “older woman,” is depicted in a bathrobe in her kitchen. The “young mother” is seen on a playground, holding a toddler’s hand. “Young girl” is standing in a driveway with a sack purse slung over her shoulder. “Little brother,” who is a very little person indeed, is depicted in a backyard with a privacy fence behind him. “Older man” stands in his home, in front of a bookshelf.
LET said that the targets were requested by law enforcement agencies and designed in order to “train police officers for unusually complex situations.” In a statement released to Reason’s Mike Riggs, they stated,
“The subjects in NMH targets were chosen in order to give officers the experience of dealing with deadly force shooting scenarios with subjects that are not the norm during training. I found while speaking with officers and trainers in the law enforcement community that there is a hesitation on the part of cops when deadly force is required on subjects with atypical age, frailty or condition (one officer explaining that he enlarged photos of his own kids to use as targets so that he would not be caught off guard with such a drastically new experience while on duty). This hesitation time may be only seconds but that is not acceptable when officers are losing their lives in these same situations. The goal of NMH is to break that stereotype on the range, regardless of how slim the chances are of encountering a real life scenario that involves a child, pregnant woman, etc. If that initial hesitation time can be cut down due to range experience, the officer and community are better served.”
However, the American people didn’t seem to concur, and the ensuing outcry resulted in LET withdrawing the targets from circulation.
"We apologize for the offensive nature of our 'No More Hesitation' products," they posted to their facebook page last week. "These products have been taken offline due to the opinions expressed by so many, including members of the law enforcement community."
While the removal of the targets from the online marketplace may seem like a step in the right direction, the fact that they are being used by our supposed peace officers in the first place is sinister in its own right. The fact that our own Department of Homeland Security may be spending our money on them is disturbing as well.
In the unlikely event that a domestic law enforcement official is faced with the unexpected threat of an armed eight-year-old or a threatening mother in the presence of her toddlers, hesitation is not only the natural response, but the moral and correct response. There are good and noble reasons why civilization has erected these constraints around the lives of the young and the aged and the vulnerable.
The first and most obvious of these is that pregnant women and grandmothers and little boys rarely constitute “threats” to police officers. And if an officer is being threatened by one of these civilians in their own homes or backyards, perhaps he should consider whether it is possible that they have a genuine grievance against him? There is a certain horror accompanying the idea of conditioning our homeland security officers to fire without hesitation or consideration on the women and children and elderly people of their own nation.
LET claimed in their statement about the No Hesitation campaign that hesitation was, “not acceptable when officers are losing their lives.” But a big chunk of the American people begs to differ. As much as we respect and admire our security personnel and police officers, we also understand the impossibility of eradicating suffering from the earth, and we prefer a humane society with traditional constraints and protections for the weak to a nation ravaged by fear and bereft of all codes of conduct. We prefer a society where the life of a child is not taken without hesitation by the officers employed to protect him. And if some – a very small number – of our officers are going to end up honorably sacrificing their lives for the sake of these codes, we prefer that to the alternative of a senseless, robotic police force that will not hesitate to riddle our disabled grandparents with bullets. (This article first posted at The Washington Times Communities)
Why has the Mexico Permanent Commission voted to ask the US Senate for a registry of guns in border states?
(Posted by Bryana Johnson on Feb 21, 2013)
— In the wake of a tense national clash regarding the issue of gun control, Mexico has taken an action sure to fan the flames of controversy. In January, the Mexico Permanent Commission reportedly voted to formally ask the United States Senate for a registry of all commercialized firearms in the border states of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
According to Informador, the proposition was introduced by Senator Marcela Guerra, who stated he introduced the resolution in hopes that it would make it easier to trace guns used in violent crimes. InsightCrime explains,
“Close to 60,000 people were killed during the six-year presidency of Felipe Calderon, who left office in December. The US Southwest is a significant source of weaponry for Mexico's criminal organizations, who typically purchase firearms from US gun stores via a middleman or ‘straw buyer.’ ”
Given these facts, it might not seem surprising that the Mexican government is interested in taking action to curb the acquisition of weapons by violent criminals on their side of the border. However, given the recent history of government-initiated gun trafficking on our side, neither is it surprising to hear the comments of enraged gun-owners who feel that the Mexican request is absurd.
“It’s an infringement, on its highest level,” said one Arizona gun-owner interviewed by KPHO TV.
“My first reaction is, I don’t like it,” said another. “In light of what happened, with, you know, all the weapons, the assault weapons, that went over there.”
He was referring to the national ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms) gun-walking scandal, Fast And Furious, in which US government agents allowed guns to pass into the possession of suspected gun smugglers in order to track them up to high-level Mexican crime rings.
Over 2,000 weapons unfortunately did end up in the hands of Mexican drug cartel members, but rather than leading to any arrests or information, the guns were somehow lost. They are in the process of being recovered, of course. Each time another innocent like US border agent Brian Terry or Mexican beauty queen Maria Gamez, is victimized, we discover the final landing place of another Fast and Furious weapon. The price, however, for the failed operation, has been high. With an estimated 150 deaths, some say too high.
Not surprisingly, law-abiding gun-owners are balking at the idea of being tracked as a potential threat to Mexican lives when their own government is responsible for causing so much of the problem. If there needs to be action taken on the issue of gun-smuggling, they say, start with the smugglers! They don’t feel that’s them.
And under the administration of a President who persists in treating gun ownership like a malicious cancer in American public life, they’re not sure they feel comfortable having their names entered into a national registry of cancerous cells, which is periodically being delivered to foreign governments. Who can blame them?
The Romeike family fled Germany for the right to homeschool their children. Now they face deportation from the US. What does this mean for US
(Posted by Bryana Johnson on Feb 15, 2013)
In 1938, the practice of homeschooling was outlawed in Germany by Adolf Hitler and the infamous Third Reich. It was a rough period in German history, as thousands of young people were being pried from their parents’ direction and authority and drafted into the Hitler Youth program, where they were supposed to be trained as Aryan supermen (and women). In a few short years, vast numbers of these youth would be bleeding out on the battlefields of Europe, on the wrong side of the war for the soul of the world.
Sadly for freedom and for many families, Germany has never lifted this archaic and totalitarian ban on homeschooling. On the contrary, the German government seems to have stepped up its opposition to home-educating parents over the past decade, forcing several families to flee, and others to enroll their children in state-approved schools against their will. The German Supreme Court has stated that the purpose of the homeschooling ban is to, “counteract the development of religious and philosophically motivated parallel societies.” It sounds like they aren’t really big on religious or philosophical diversity over there.
Some notable victims of this small-minded and grasping totalitarianism are Uwe and Hannelore Romeike and their five children. Uwe and his wife are music teachers and evangelical Christians who for years have been unsuccessfully seeking the right to homeschool their children. The Romeikes withdrew their children from German public schools in 2006, after becoming concerned that the educational material employed by the school was undermining the tenets of their Christian faith and that the school was not providing their children with an ideal learning environment. “I don’t expect the school to teach about the Bible,” Mr. Romeike said, but “part of education should be character-building.”
After accruing the equivalent of around $10,000 in fines, and facing police visits to their home and the forcible removal of their children from the home, the Romeikes fled Germany in 2008 to seek asylum in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Their case was taken up by the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), which helped the Romeikes in 2010 to become the first family ever granted asylum in the US for the protection of their homeschooling rights.
The HSLDA explains, “The U.S. law of asylum allows a refugee to stay in the United States permanently if he can show that he is being persecuted for one of several specific reasons. Among these are persecution for religious reasons and persecution of a ‘particular social group.’ ”
On January 26th, 2010, Memphis federal immigration judge, Lawrence Burman, granted the Romeikes political asylum, ruling they had a reasonable fear of persecution for their beliefs if they returned to their homeland. Judge Burman also denounced the German policy heatedly. In a statement, he called it, “utterly repellent to everything we believe as Americans.”
HSLDA’s Mike Donnelley called the ruling, “an extraordinary recognition of the fundamental importance of the right of parents to raise their children according to the dictates of individual conscience.”
“We were so relieved!” Hanne said. “We had been trying hard not to get our hopes up too high. [The HSLDA attorneys] had assured us that even if we lost at this level, we would appeal and that an appeal could take years. So we knew that we wouldn’t have to go right back to Germany. But to win at this point was such an answer to prayer. Our children were jumping up and down and everyone in the room was hugging us and celebrating. Tears were flowing in gratitude for God’s protection for our family.”
The Romeikes were able to continue quietly homeschooling their children in a small Tennessee town. For a time.
Sadly, their period of respite was not to last. The Romeikes’ case is now before the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, with the US government seeking to revoke their asylum and force them to return to Germany. And the details of Attorney-General Holder’s arguments in the brief for Romeike v. Holder are sinister, to say the least.
According to Holder, parents have no fundamental right to home-educate their children.
HSLDA Founder, Mike Farris, warns,
“[Holder’s office] argued that there was no violation of anyone’s protected rights in a law that entirely bans homeschooling. There would only be a problem if Germany banned homeschooling for some but permitted it for others.
Let’s assess the position of the United States government on the face of its argument: a nation violates no one’s rights if it bans homeschooling entirely. There are two major portions of constitutional rights of citizens—fundamental liberties and equal protection. The U.S. Attorney General has said this about homeschooling. There is no fundamental liberty to homeschool. So long as a government bans homeschooling broadly and equally, there is no violation of your rights.”
Farris goes on to reveal another argument presented by the Attorney-General,
“The U.S. government contended that the Romeikes’ case failed to show that there was any discrimination based on religion because, among other reasons, the Romeikes did not prove that all homeschoolers were religious, and that not all Christians believed they had to homeschool.”
The US Government, says Farris, “does not understand that religious freedom is an individual right.” Just because all adherents of a particular religion do not abide by a certain standard does not mean that individuals who feel compelled to abide by this standard do not have the right to do so. Religious decisions must be made by individuals, not by groups.
Farris contends, “One need not be a part of any church or other religious group to be able to make a religious freedom claim. Specifically, one doesn’t have to follow the dictates of a church to claim religious freedom—one should be able to follow the dictates of God Himself.
The United States Supreme Court has made it very clear in the past that religious freedom is an individual right. Yet our current government does not seem to understand this. They only think of us as members of groups and factions. It is an extreme form of identity politics that directly threatens any understanding of individual liberty.”
While Romeike v. Holder is clearly crucially and immediately important to one huddled family yearning to breathe free, the implications of the arguments currently being presented by the US government against them are ultimately important to all American people. Will our courts uphold the rights of parents to raise their children in the ways that seem best to them, or will a government standard be imposed upon the 2 million homeschooling families of the US?
A look at historical precedents puts me in a big hurry to be on the side of liberty.
I give you Friedrich Hayek, from The Road To Serfdom:
“There is scarcely a leaf out of Hitler’s book which somebody or other in England or America has not recommended us to take and use for our own purposes. This applies particularly to many people who are undoubtedly Hitler’s mortal enemies because of one special feature in his system. We should never forget that the anti-Semitism of Hitler has driven from his country, or turned into his enemies, many people who in every respect are confirmed totalitarians of the German type.”
For more information about the Romeikes, check out the following sources:
– Land of Liberty: The Romeikes’ Journey (HSLDA, January 2010)
– US grants home schooling German family political asylum (The Guardian, January 2010)
– Judge Grants Asylum to German Home Schoolers (NYTimes, February 2010)
– Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Homeschoolers (TIME Magazine, March 2010)
– German families look to US for asylum (Global Post, April 2010)
– The Romeike Family: Still Waiting on Asylum Appeal (HSLDA, October 2011)
– German Homeschool Case May Impact U.S. Homeschool Freedom (HSLDA, February 2013)
Does the new birth control mandate "compromise" really do anything to protect religious freedom?
(Posted by Bryana Johnson on Feb 5, 2013)
The Obama administration sparked a massive controversy last year when it was announced that a new federal mandate would require all health insurers and employers to include coverage in their health plans for every form of contraception approved by the FDA. The mandate also required coverage for sterilizations.
Faith groups who teach against the use of contraceptives became immediately fearful that such a mandate would force violations of conscience. Some Catholics view every form of contraceptive use as sinful. A far broader base of Christian people accepts the use of most contraceptives but opposes the use of abortifacient “emergency contraception,” like the “morning-after pill.”
Unfortunately, the Obama administration did little to allay their fears. While the mandate included a religious exemption, it only applied to church organizations themselves. It did not apply to church-affiliated non-profit institutions, such as hospitals, or to employers. An amendment was proposed that would have made provisions for employers to “refuse to include contraception in health care coverage if it violated their religious or moral beliefs.” The Blunt Amendment was voted down 51-48 by the U.S. Senate last March.
Between then and now, nothing much has changed. After an unsuccessful appeal to the Unites States Supreme Court, the Christian owners of the craft store chain Hobby Lobby announced at the beginning of this year that they would refuse to add the contraceptive coverage to their employee insurance plan. According to NPR, their attorney stated that they consider the emergency contraceptives “tantamount to abortion.” The company faced up to $1.3 million a day in fines for defying the mandate. Two weeks later, however, it was learned they had discovered a way to delay the fines. Peter M. Dobelbower, the company's general counsel, stated, “Hobby Lobby discovered a way to shift the plan year for its employee health insurance, thus postponing the effective date of the mandate for several months.” But their time is running out.
Late last week, the Obama administration released a new version of the infamous birth-control mandate. Religious and pro-life groups were hoping the new regulations would spell out broader conscience rights for employers – like the Hobby Lobby owners – and institutions whose faith prohibits them from funding sterilization and various forms of contraception. Sadly, after examining the altered version of the mandate, pro-life legal groups have bad news. The new proposal barely changes existing policy and still allows for no business or individual opt-out, they say.
Dr. Charmaine Yoest, CEO and President of Americans United for Life, stated Friday, “With another phony compromise, the Obama Administration continues to insult the intelligence of the American people and trample our Constitutionally-guaranteed rights.”
LifeNews reports of the new proposal that it will not have any impact on businesses run by people of faith, such as Bible publisher Tyndale House or Hobby Lobby. They also explain that it “provides no options for individuals seeking plans that accommodate their values on the exchanges.”
So, what does the new proposal do? Well, the only major difference for people of faith seems to be that the religious exemption has been modified so that it no longer specifies that churches must have “inculcation of religious values” as their purpose and primarily employ and serve people of their same faith in order to qualify for the exemption.
This doesn’t sound like much of a concession, once you get down to it. The change only broadens the definition of a church for the purposes of the exemption, and does nothing to protect the conscience rights of for-profit employers and individuals.
The absurdity of this state of affairs is truly remarkable. To state it plainly, the Obama administration has conceded the right of churches to opt-out of participating in the funding of procedures their faith prohibits, but won’t provide the means for members of these same churches to avoid violating the dictates of their faith in their workplaces. What is the point of protecting the rights of a church as an institution and then trampling the rights of the individuals that comprise that same institution?