The state legislature of Massachusetts passed a measure on November 15 to extend discrimination protection for transgender people in matters related to housing, credit, and employment. Further, the bill will include such individuals in the definition of a “hate crime.”

After a nearly party line vote of 115-37 (the Democratic party is currently in the majority in the Massachusetts House by a split of 127 to 33 Republicans), the legislation, known as the Transgender Equal Rights Bill, was passed by the House and sent on to the state senate. Upon being passed by the upper house, the bill was sent to the state’s Democratic Governor, Deval Patrick, and he signed the measure making it state law.
 
Said the Governor: "I think we have hate crimes on the books today," he said. "They, in the case of transgender people, don't go far enough.” He continued, calling the matter a “question of human and civil rights."
 
According to the provisions set forth in the act, no person may be discriminated against on the basis of gender identity. The protection does not extend to the area of public accommodations.

When the police department from the municipality of Ahome in the Mexican state of Sinaloa were summoned to meet with the director of state police, they thought they were going to discuss routine operations. Instead, they were disarmed and the 32 officers and commanders who make up the entire department were arrested for their connection with Los Zetas and the Beltran Leyva cartels.

 

The ACLU’s Nebraska franchise is demanding that a school district in that state put a stop to prayer at its high school graduation, even though the ceremony is sponsored and run privately by parents. Ten years ago the ACLU targeted Lakeview High School in Columbus, Nebraska, for its graduation prayer, arguing that the practice violates the U.S. Constitution’s supposed separation of church and state. To appease the secular watchdog group, the school district spun off the graduation ceremony to parents, making the ceremony a private event at which they believed prayers would be beyond the ACLU’s self-commissioned purview.

But the ACLU called the move a sham, reported the Associated Press, and sent a letter of protest to the district charging that the private ceremony carries the implied endorsement of the district, and that the prayers are still illegal.

“The current ceremony coercively subjects students to religious messages as the price of attending high school commencement,” said ACLU spokesperson Amy Miller. “This leaves some students and their families feeling like second-class participants at their own graduation.”

An Iowa baker who declined to bake a wedding cake ordered by two women after she discovered it was meant for their lesbian “wedding” is being boycotted by homosexual activists, and may face legal action for discrimination. As reported by FOX News, “Victoria Childress, the owner of Victoria’s Cake Cottage in Des Moines, has been accused of being anti-gay, homophobic, and a bigot after she refused to make a cake for Trina Vodraska and Janelle Sievers.” Childress said that she baked five sample cakes for the couple to try before discovering that they were homosexual partners. “She introduced herself, and I said, ‘Is this your sister?’” Childress recalled of an encounter with one of the women. “She said, ‘No. This is my partner.’ ”

When Childress realized that the cake was meant for a same-sex “wedding” celebration, she graciously told the women she would not be able to serve them, citing her Christian faith. “I was straight-forward with them and explained that I’m a Christian and that I have very strong convictions,” she told FOX. “I chose to be honest about it. They said they appreciated it and left. That was all that was said.”

However, instead of dropping the matter, the two women apparently alerted their homosexual activist network, which quickly organized a boycott of Childress’ business. The conflict also attracted the attention of Des Moines television station KCCI, which gave Trina Vodraska a platform to voice her anger at being snubbed by Childress. “It was degrading,” she told the television station. “It was like she chastised us for wanting to do business with her. I know Jesus loves me. I didn’t need her to tell me that. I didn’t go there for that. I just wanted to go there for a cake.”

This weekend, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn: Part 1, will premiere at a theater near you.  The quirky fictional romance about an ordinary teenager named Bella Swan, who moves to Forks, Washington and falls for a vampire named Edward Cullen (who looks seventeen but was born in 1901), also features Jacob Black, a shape-shifting teen who can transform himself into a wolf and who loves Bella.

 

The hits just keep on coming from Occupy Wall Street. Since The New American last reported on the 204 crimes the nationwide OWS movement has been charged with committing, the movement has added another 50 or so to the list, including a rape in the city of Brotherly Love. As well, the death toll in or near the squalid OWS camps is now seven. Late last week, a man was found dead in his tent at the Occupy Salt Lake City protest.

Though the radical left, led by President Obama, has repeatedly said the OWS movement is merely a manifestation of the same concerns as the Tea Party Movement, the level of criminality and danger associated with the protests suggests otherwise.

 

During the defense of Bataan in 1942, an American chaplain, Fr. William T. Cummings, is reported to have declared, “There are no atheists in the foxholes.” But if one Army intelligence officer has his way, there will soon be chaplains to serve those atheists when they are not in foxholes. Capt. Ryan Jean is seeking to become a military chaplain who will serve his fellow atheists in the Army — an ironic course of action which raises fundamental questions about the role and purpose of the military chaplaincy.

 

According to a study published in the Journal of Religion and Health recently, regular attendance at religious services produces a more optimistic outlook on life and a reduced inclination to depression. Those respondents to the survey who attended religious services more than once a week in the prior month were 56 percent more likely to be above the median score on a measurement for optimism than those who had not attended religious services at all. Respondents who attended weekly religious services were 22 percent less likely to be depressed than those who did not attend religious services.

Not everyone agrees, however, about what exactly these numbers mean. Eliezer Schnall, an associate professor of clinical psychology at Yeshiva University in New York notes that: "There is a correlation, but that does not mean there is causality. One could argue people who are more optimistic may be drawn to religious services. The person who says, 'I guess if I go to services, that will make me more optimistic' -— while a possibility, that may not be true."

A 2008 study conducted by Schnall found that those who sent to religious services regularly had a 20 percent reduced risk of death over the period of the study and its follow up.  Schnall again cautioned against reading too much into the study: "We're trying to connect the dots here. We know they're less likely to die, and health outcomes can be related to psychological factors."

According to an October 26 article by Anjana Ahuja of New Science magazine, "Israeli children with birth defects are increasingly suing the medical authorities for ever allowing them to be born."

In a story last week, LifeSiteNews noted,
While similar lawsuits in the United States and Canada are often brought by the parents of disabled children, it is common in Israel for the children themselves to demand compensation for the fact that they were not killed in-utero.
 

JBS CEO Art Thompson's weekly video news update for November 14-21, 2011.

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