Texas Judge Halts Federal Transgender Health Protections

ABC News posted this piece from Associated Press:

A federal judge in Texas on Saturday ordered a halt to another Obama administration effort to strengthen transgender rights, this time over health rules that social conservatives say could force doctors to violate their religious beliefs.

The latest injunction signed by U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor comes four months after he blocked a higher-profile new set of transgender protections — a federal directive that required public schools to let transgender students use bathrooms consistent with their gender identity. Several of the Republican-controlled states that brought that lawsuit, including Texas, also sued over the health regulations that were finalized in May.

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Putin Won’t Expel US Diplomats in Response to Washington Sanctions

According to NewsMax:

The United States unleashed a string of sanctions and ordered expulsion of 35 Russians in retaliation for alleged cyber-meddling against the U.S. election, but President Vladimir Putin ruled out any move to kick out American diplomats in response to Washington’s move.

In a statement on the Kremlin’s web site Friday, Putin referred to the sanctions as a “provocation aimed to further undermine Russian-American relations.” But he also said Moscow would not be expelling American diplomats, as the Obama administration had ordered against Moscow.

“The Russian diplomats returning home will spend the New Year Holidays with their relatives and dear ones,” Putin said. “At home. We will not create problems for U.S. diplomats. We will not expel anybody.”

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Mysterious illness tied to marijuana use on the rise in states with legal weed

CBS News reports:

For more than two years, Lance Crowder was having severe abdominal pain and vomiting, and no local doctor could figure out why. Finally, an emergency room physician in Indianapolis had an idea.

“The first question he asked was if I was taking hot showers to find relief. When he asked me that question, I basically fell into tears because I knew he had an answer,” Crowder said.

The answer was cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, or CHS. It’s caused by heavy, long-term use of various forms of marijuana. For unclear reasons, the nausea and vomiting are relieved by hot showers or baths.

“They’ll often present to the emergency department three, four, five different times before we can sort this out,” said Dr. Kennon Heard, an emergency room physician in Aurora, Colorado.

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Conservative Attorney Jay Sekulow Supports Judge on Trump’s Supreme Court Shortlist Who Called Abortion ‘a Right’

According to Christian News:

Well-known attorney Jay Sekulow, who serves as chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, which takes up cases for conservative, pro-life and pro-family causes, expressed his support on national television this week for two of the picks on President-elect Donald Trump’s Supreme Court shortlist—Judges Diane Sykes and Bill Pryor—stating that they have a “proven track record.”

However, others have voiced concern about the judges precisely because of their track record, which includes Sykes’ favorable Planned Parenthood ruling calling abortion “a right” and Pryor’s prosecution of “Ten Commandments Judge” Roy Moore. Reports state that both Sykes and Pryor are “top contenders” on Trump’s Supreme Court list.

Sekulow had been interviewed on Tuesday’s Fox & Friends regarding the more than 100 court vacancies Trump currently will have to fill as president, as well as whether he agrees that Trump should not compromise in his Supreme Court pick, but choose someone who is “hard right.”

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Netanyahu Spokesman: Beyond ‘Shadow of a Doubt’ US Intervened With UN Vote

NewsMax reports:

Israel is “deeply, deeply disappointed” by the actions concerning a United Nation Security Council resolution aimed at ending the nation’s West Bank settlements, and has information that shows “beyond a shadow of a doubt” the Obama administration was behind the action, a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday.

“Some of that information is sensitive, and so I can’t share it on live TV, but i have seen the information myself with my own eyes and I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that that is exactly what happened,” spokesman David Keyes told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

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Sex and marriage with robots: science fiction or new reality?

Ruth Holmes of Phys.org answers the question:

Sex with robots is “just around the corner”, an expert told a global conference in London this week featuring interactive sex toys and discussions on the ethics of relationships with humanoids.

“Sexbots” are a staple of science fiction—the idea of robots as sex partners is explored, for instance, in recent films and television series like “Ex-Machina” and “Westworld.”

But some specialists believe the first animated lovers made of metal, rubber and plastic, programmed to provide sexual bliss, will take a step into reality just months from now.

“Sex with robots is just around the corner, with the first sexbots coming… some time next year,” artificial intelligence expert David Levy told the International Congress on Love and Sex with Robots at Goldsmiths, University of London.

US California-based company Abyss Creations next year will start marketing sex robots that are billed as life-like, with the ability to talk and move like humans.

Ultimately, Levy said, people should entertain the thought of marriage with robots as early as 2050.

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Hallucinogenic plant ayahuasca gains foothold in US

According to Yahoo News:

Dominique was hooked on cocaine and smoked two packs of cigarettes a day until she stumbled onto ayahuasca, a hallucinogenic concoction that she says has changed her life.

The French-American woman, who lives in Los Angeles and did not want her real name used, is among thousands of people across the United States who are increasingly turning to the powerful psychedelic brew from the Amazon to overcome addiction, depression or psychological trauma.

The potion, prepared and consumed as part of a shamanic ritual, is especially gaining a following in Hollywood and Silicon Valley.

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American Psychiatric Association Expresses Opposition to Assisted Suicide for Mentally Ill

Christian News reports:

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has released a formal position statement expressing opposition to assisted suicide in cases where the patient is not terminally ill.

According to reports, the statement was approved this month by the APA’s board of trustees after being passed last month by the general assembly.

“The American Psychiatric Association, in concert with the American Medical Association’s position on medical euthanasia, holds that a psychiatrist should not prescribe or administer any intervention to a non-terminally ill person for the purpose of causing death,” it states.

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Kentucky Governor Declares 2017 ‘Year of the Bible,’ Supports Statewide Bible Reading Marathon

Christian News Network reports:

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin has issued a proclamation declaring 2017 the “Year of the Bible,” making it the second year that Bevin has issued such a decree.

He noted that several prominent figures throughout American history have lauded the importance of the Scriptures.

“President Harry S. Truman said, ‘The fundamental basis of this nation’s law was given to Moses on the Mount. The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings we get from Exodus and St. Matthew, from Isaiah and St. Paul,’” Bevin’s proclamation reads in part.

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Republicans accuse Dems of ‘hypocrisy’ after ‘bathroom bill’ repeal falls apart

Fox News reports:

North Carolina Republican leaders are blasting their Democratic colleagues after a supposedly bipartisan deal to repeal the state’s “bathroom bill” limiting LGBT protections collapsed Wednesday night, with every Senate Democrat balking in the end.

Both sides were pointing fingers in the aftermath of the unproductive special session, called specifically to consider repeal legislation for the law known as House Bill 2. The law omits gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people from state anti-discrimination protections, bars local governments from passing broad non-discrimination ordinances covering them, and orders transgender people to use bathrooms and showers that align with their sex at birth.

“I’m disappointed that we have yet to remove the stain from the reputation of our great state that is around this country and around the world,” Democratic Gov.-elect Roy Cooper said.

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Gay ornament pulled from store after protest

According to Religion News Service:

Nativity scene with homosexual Josephs. Photo credit: The Sun

Jesus has two mommies. Or two daddies. Take your pick.

Actually, Jesus had two mommies and daddies in a pair of same-sex-themed Christmas ornaments for sale online until the designer withdrew them after a protest by a British Christian interest group.

Mark Thaler, a San Francisco-based artist and designer, was offering the ornaments via Zazzle.com, the online retailer of all things odd. They were round discs featuring figurines of either two Josephs or two Marys gazing at a baby Jesus in the manger.

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Texas Megachurch Turns Christmas Production Into Circus—Literally

Dr. Ed Young, Sr., twice president of the SBC, recently held a circus in the church he pastors. Christian News Network has the story:

A megachurch in Texas recently turned its annual Christmas production in its worship center into a circus—literally, complete with a ringmaster, tricks and trapezes.

The Second Baptist Church of Texas, led by Dr. Ed Young, Sr., presented “Christmas Under the Big Top” at its Woodway campus from Friday to Tuesday, with tickets ranging from $10 to $25. The 90-minute drama centered on a storyline about a fictional effort to save a financially-struggling circus by putting on a Christmas show.

In addition to much singing and dancing, the program also featured a Stomp-like trash can drumming performance, and plenty of circus tricks, from juggling to acrobatics to Cyr wheel spinning. Styles of music varied from traditional to big band, to hip-hop and rock. A segment of the production also included a living nativity, and a brief message about life’s “distractions” from the meaning of Christmas was delivered near the conclusion.

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Berlin Backlash Reveals ‘Mainstream’ Refugee Wakeup

LifeZette reports:

Following Monday’s Islamic terrorist attack in Berlin, Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s Front National, posed a simple question.

“How many massacres and deaths will be necessary for our governments to stop bringing a considerable number of migrants into our countries without borders, when we know that terrorist Islamists are involved?” she asked in an official statement.

It seems that in the wake of the horrific incident at a Berlin Christmas market, the governments of Europe may finally be, however reluctantly, willing to discuss the threat of militant Islam honestly.

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Gay dads set to use sex selection to make sure they get baby girls

The Christian Institute reports:

A British same-sex couple who currently have four boys and a girl are set to use sex selection of embryos in a bid to obtain female triplets.

Sex selection is only allowed in the UK on strict medical grounds, so the pair plan to have the procedure in the USA.

Barrie and Tony Drewitt-Barlow became the first British same-sex couple to be named on their children’s birth certificates in 1999 and Barrie now claims his “biological clock is ticking” and he needs “another princess”.

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Trump secures victory in Electoral College, as bid to flip electors flops

According to Fox News:

President-elect Donald Trump won more than enough votes in the Electoral College on Monday to secure his White House victory, as the latest – and perhaps last – stop-Trump movement failed to gain traction in state capitals.

A fervent push by anti-Trump forces to persuade electors to defect had turned the normally mundane civic procedure into high drama.

But the representatives designated to cast ballots in accordance with their states’ Nov. 8 decision mostly adhered to the results of the election. With several states still voting, Trump had 304 votes and Hillary Clinton had 169.

It takes 270 Electoral College votes to win the presidency. Texas put Trump over the top, despite two Republican electors casting protest votes.

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At least 9 dead after truck plows into crowded Christmas market in Berlin; attack believed

Fox News reports:

A truck plowed into a crowded Christmas market in Berlin on Monday killing at least nine people and injuring more than 50 people, police said.

Police said on Twitter that the truck rammed into the market outside the capital’s popular Christmas market at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church on Monday evening.

At first glance, police said the incident appears to be an attack, but an investigation is underway, DPA reported.

Bild newspaper posted a picture of a large Scania truck with its windshield smashed out on the sidewalk alongside the market.

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‘Bad Beer or No Beer?’ R.C. Sproul, Jr., Who Advocated ‘Drinking Well,’ Arrested for Felony DUI

Christian News Network has the story on what might be the reason R.C. Sproul Jr. suddenly resigned from his positions at Ligonier Ministries and Reformation Bible College:

Prominent Reformed theologian, author, speaker and former Presbyterian elder Dr. R.C. Sproul Jr., who once stated that one of his “favorite intellectual debates” is “[i]s bad beer better than no beer?” has resigned from his positions at his father’s Ligonier Ministries and Reformation Bible College a week after being arrested on felony DUI charges.

Ligonier Ministries released a statement about Sproul’s resignation on Monday, but only marked the departure as being for “personal reasons.”

“Last Friday, the board of directors of Ligonier Ministries and Reformation Bible College received and affirmed the resignation of Dr. R.C. Sproul Jr. He is stepping away from his duties at the ministry and the college for personal reasons,” it wrote. “This was communicated by phone to his father, Dr. R.C. Sproul, the founder of Ligonier Ministries and chancellor of Reformation Bible College, and it was later communicated in writing to the entire board of directors of Ligonier Ministries.”

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Liberty University to Open First On-Campus Firing Range in Nation

Christian News Network reports:

Liberty University, which heralds itself as the world’s largest Christian university, is set to become the first educational institution in the nation to open an on-campus firing range.

“We have a very pro-Second Amendment student body,” President Jerry Falwell told the Washington Post this week.

He said that one of the reasons for the shooting range is because he believes those with malicious intent are more likely to carry out their attacks at facilities that are marked as “gun free zones.”

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R.C. Sproul Jr. Resigned From Ligonier Ministries After Felonious DUI Arrest With Minor in Vehicle

Christian Post, a site we do not recommend, discloses the personal reasons R.C. Sproul Jr. resigned from Ligonier Ministries and Reformation Bible College:

Just over a week before he resigned from Ligonier Ministries for “personal reasons,” R.C. Sproul Jr., whose father Robert Charles Sproul founded the teaching fellowship ministry, was arrested in Indiana for driving under the influence with a minor in his vehicle.

A summary of the charges against Sproul provided by the Indiana court system shows that he was charged on four counts on Nov. 29.

Sproul was charge with two class A misdemeanors: operating a vehicle with alcohol concentration equivalent to .15 or more, and operating a vehicle while intoxicated, endangering a person. Under Indiana law both charges attract up to 365 days of jail time, probation for a year, and the suspension of a driver license for up to two years.

A summary of the charges against Sproul provided by the Indiana court system shows that he was charged on four counts on Nov. 29.

Sproul was charge with two class A misdemeanors: operating a vehicle with alcohol concentration equivalent to .15 or more, and operating a vehicle while intoxicated, endangering a person. Under Indiana law both charges attract up to 365 days of jail time, probation for a year, and the suspension of a driver license for up to two years.

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Human Trials Envisioned After Scientists Reverse Aging In Mammals

According to The Telegraph:

An end to grey hair and crows-feet could be just 10 years away after scientists showed it is possible to reverse ageing in animals.

Using a new technique which takes adult cells back to their embryonic form, US researchers at the Salk Institute in California, showed it was possible to reverse ageing in mice, allowing the animals to not only look younger, but live for 30 per cent longer.

The technique involves stimulating four genes which are particularly active during development in the womb. It was also found to work to turn the clock back on human skin cells in the lab, making them look and behave younger.

Scientists hope to eventually create a drug which can mimic the effect of the found genes which could be taken to slow down, and even reverse the ageing process. They say it will take around 10 years to get to human trials.

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Obama Tries to Trump-Proof Planned Parenthood Funding

“Outgoing president bullies states to keep money flowing to abortion provider,” says Jim Stinson of LifeZette. He writes:

President Obama is moving aggressively to protect the flow of revenue to Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers before he leaves office.

Obama has finalized a rule that would benefit Planned Parenthood and protect abortion providers from the democratic grant-making process in the states.

Lawmakers have vowed to reverse the rule.

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Congress Passes ‘International Religious Freedom Act’ to Combat Persecution Worldwide

Christian News Network reports:

Congress passed a bill this week that aims to give the White House and State Department improved tools to address religious persecution worldwide.

The Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act had been introduced in the House last year by Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., and then in the Senate this year by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. The bi-partisan-backed bill first passed the House in May and then came before the Senate this month, where it passed unanimously.

It is named after former Congressman Frank Wolf, who first helmed the International Religious Freedom Act in 1998, and is stated to expand upon his work.

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Yet Another Criminal Referral for Planned Parenthood and its Affiliates

Last year, Center for Medical Progress undercover videos revealed that Planned Parenthood affiliates were illegally profiting from the sale of fetal tissue. So now the government will finally investigate for possible prosecution.  According to Alexandra Desanctis of National Review:

Photo credit: Godspeak Calvary Chapel

Senator Chuck Grassley, who serves as the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, announced this afternoon that he has referred Planned Parenthood for America and several of its local affiliates to the FBI and the Justice Department for investigation and possible prosecution. These referrals are the result of Grassley’s ongoing investigation into the group’s involvement in fetal-tissue transfers and violations of federal law related to the fetal-tissue trafficking industry.

“I don’t take lightly making a criminal referral,” Grassley said in a release Tuesday afternoon. “But, the seeming disregard for the law by these entities has been fueled by decades of utter failure by the Justice Department to enforce it.”

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Republican Gov. John Kasich Vetoes Bill Banning Abortion When Heartbeat Detected, Signs 20-Week Ban

According to Christian News Network:

Republican governor and former presidential candidate John Kasich vetoed a bill on Tuesday that would have banned abortion when a heartbeat is detected, while signing into law legislation that bans abortion after 20 weeks gestation.

“Certain provisions … are clearly contrary to the Supreme Court of the United States’ current rulings on abortion,” he said in an explanatory statement released by his office.

As previously reported, the Unborn Heartbeat Protection Act was approved by the Senate 21-10 last Tuesday, being attached as an amendment to a child abuse bill. It then passed the House 56-39.

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R.C. Sproul Jr. resigns from Ligonier Ministries

According to a statement on Ligonier’s website, R.C. Sproul Jr. has resigned from Ligonier Ministries and Reformation Bible College.  No details were given.

A Statement Concerning Dr. R.C.Sproul Jr.

DECEMBER 12, 2016

Last Friday, the board of directors of Ligonier Ministries and Reformation Bible College received and affirmed the resignation of Dr. R.C. Sproul Jr. He is stepping away from his duties at the ministry and the college for personal reasons. This was communicated by phone to his father, Dr. R.C. Sproul, the founder of Ligonier Ministries and chancellor of Reformation Bible College, and it was later communicated in writing to the entire board of directors of Ligonier Ministries.

We support the Sproul family and give thanks for the many edifying contributions of Dr. Sproul Jr. over the years through his work at the ministry and the college. We believe he will be well cared for by his church during this time of transition, and we pray for him in his future endeavors.