In an effort to "better accommodate transgender students," the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) is flirting with a new campus experiment to accept co-ed dorm room assignments from students who would prefer to live with members of the opposite sex. If approved, the "gender-inclusive housing" policy could go into effect as early as next year, allowing students to request co-ed roommates for the 2012 academic year.

Last year, the Undergraduate Students Association Council proposed the policy change to the school’s On Campus Housing Council, and the OCHC happily advised Housing Services to research the idea. Housing Services answered willingly and approved one request this year as a pilot for the student council’s request.

Patrick Malkoun, a homosexual student at UCLA, has been a vigilant supporter of the policy change, suggesting that it would alleviate stress for gay students by allowing them to room with female students — which, he claims, would avoid the impending potential for "homophobia." "Living with someone that isn’t gay can be like living with a hot pink elephant in the room," he said. Malkoun’s roommate was evicted last year, so he had to find someone else to live with. He asked a close friend, a female Design/Media Arts major, also gay, to move in with him. Malkoun and his friend submitted their appeal to Housing Services but their request was denied a few days later, as Housing Services notified them that UCLA’s policy allows only single-sex housing.

A New Jersey school teacher has found herself in hot water for using her Facebook page to express her moral outrage over the normalization of homosexuality. As reported by the New York Times, Viki Knox, a special education teacher at Union High School in Union Township, used Facebook to complain about a school display recognizing October as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History month, writing that “homosexuality is a perverted spirit that has existed from the beginning of creation.”

The Times reported that, after telling a friend that she was “pitching a fit” about the display, which included photos of such famed individuals as author Virginia Woolf, former San Francisco politician Harvey Milk, and actor Neil Patrick Harris, Knox “defended her views in lengthy exchanges with other Facebook users, referring at times to God and her Christian beliefs.” Knox’s Facebook page has since been removed from public view.

According to the Times, “Knox wrote that while she had friends and loved ones who were gay, she believed that the way they lived was ‘against the nature and character of God’ and that the high school was ‘not the setting to promote, encourage, support and foster homosexuality.’”

When a Union Township resident challenged Knox’s Facebook comments, the teacher responded:

There has been a series of varying reports on the latest news concerning 32-year-old Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who had been condemned to death by an Iranian court for refusing to renounce his Christian faith. According to Baptist Press News, Reuters News Service had reported on October 11 that Iran’s Supreme Court had sent the case back to the original court that had tried him, ruling that there had been insufficient investigation into the charges against the pastor. “The court will issue a new verdict,” Reuters reported, citing the Iranian Student’s News Agency (ISNA) as its source.

In another October 11 story, Agence France-Presse reported that Nadarkhani would face a retrial on the original charge of apostasy against Islam. “In its statement, the supreme court noted it had quashed the initial conviction and sentencing ‘due to a technicality in the investigation,’” AFP reported.

Jordan Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice, which has been monitoring Nadarkhani’s case since it appeared that the pastor’s execution was imminent, said the news coming out of Iran is most likely months old and does not offer firm evidence of a new trial for the pastor. “While it is possible that this is a new development at the urging of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, we have no confirmation of this from Pastor Youcef’s attorney in Iran,” wrote Sekulow. “More likely, it is rehashing of old news. As we have been reporting, the Supreme Court of Iran had heard his case earlier this year and remanded it to the trial court to determine if Pastor Youcef was a Muslim after reaching the age of majority before converting to Islam.”

The recently released movie The Big Year — featuring a cast of well-known faces and a number of poignant and also comical scenes — focuses on a group of bird-watchers who allow their pride to interfere with everything that's important in life. With a positive pro-family message and loads of humor, it's a family friendly film for audiences of all ages.

Kenny Bostick (Owen Wilson) is very proud of his “Big Year,” wherein he spotted 732 different species of birds — a record in birding history.

Naturally, other bird-watchers are trying to break such a coveted record, and Brad Harris (Jack Black) and Stu Preissler (Steve Martin) turn it into a fierce (and humorous) competition — at times even a contact sport.

Harris — gifted with the ability to recognize the species of any bird simply by its call — nevertheless does not have the financial means to be chasing his feathered friends across the globe; therefore, he must figure out an economical way to top Bostick's record.

British authorities have rescued at least 400 children who were brought to Britain often for use in blood rituals conducted by witch doctors, the BBC reported this week. The BBC’s data come from child protection organizations and Scotland Yard, and document the problem: the superstition of juju, or the use of objects in rituals of witchcraft.

BBC reporter Chris Rogers, who broke the story, traveled to Uganda and contacted child kidnappers willing to provide as many children for juju as the reporter wanted. One kidnapper he contacted, witnesses told him, was involved in the mutilation of a boy who survived.

"He Would Need My Head"

According to Rogers, the witch doctors seek children through leaflets and newspaper advertisements, and “there is evidence that some are involved in the abuse of children who have been abducted from their families in Africa, and trafficked to the UK.”

Quoting Christine Beddoe, director of the anti-trafficking charity Ecpat UK, Rogers reported that immigrants believe in the magical power of human blood. “Our experience tells us that traffickers can be anybody,” she told the network, explaining:

Arizona is demonstrating the positive impact of pro-life laws as the state health department recently released statistics showing that the number of abortions has dropped in the state by some 30 percent. The Associated Press reported that, according to the latest figures, a total of 729 abortions were performed in September, “down nearly 31 percent from September 2010, down nearly 32 percent from August 2011 and down 39 percent from the previous 12-month average of just over 1,200.”

The dramatic drop is due largely to implementation of the state’s Abortion Consent Act. While the law was passed in 2009 and signed by pro-life Governor Jan Brewer, it remained in limbo for two years as Planned Parenthood sued to have it overturned. The law finally went into effect in August of this year after the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled 3-0 in favor of its constitutionality.

Among the law’s requirements are that minors provide a notarized parental signature of approval before receiving an abortion; that women be provided with full and accurate information about abortion by a doctor in person at least 24 hours before the procedure; that only a physician can perform an abortion; and that no medical professional can be forced to perform an abortion against his or her religious or moral convictions.
 

Terrence Jeffreys of CNSNews reports, "In yet another stunning attack on freedom of religion, President Barack Obama's Justice Department asked the Supreme Court last week to give the federal government the power to tell a church who its ministers will be."

The case involves the Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School of Redford, Michigan, which in 1999 signed a one-year contract with Cheryl Perich to teach fourth grade at the church school. As well as teaching secular subjects, she taught religious subjects and was a lay minister of the church. In 2004, Perich developed the sleep disorder narcolepsy, which in the eyes of church and school officials made her unable to continue teaching, and she was terminated.

As reported here, Perich complained to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which in turn has alleged that she was fired in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The case was dismissed by the federal district court in Michigan in which the action was filed, with the judge citing the “ministerial exception” in that federal law, which is intended to prevent the federal government from interfering with church affairs. The federal appellate court, however, reversed that ruling.

It is a classic story of Americana, with all the excitement, dreams, struggle, disappointment, ingenuity, resilience, triumph, love, loss, and enduring lessons common to the most memorable of such tales. Also common to such sagas — particularly those of the Christian sort — the most enduring impact is still uncoiling with the long passage of years and the generations.

Those who knew Garman O. Kimmell, founder and builder of Oklahoma City-based Kimray, Inc., remember him best as a brilliant design engineer and a devout Christian man. He revolutionized the field of oil and gas production and made significant personal contributions to the field of heart treatment. But the technical nature of his inventions, coupled with a humble personality that eschewed personal glory, has consigned him to anonymity in previous American and even Oklahoman histories. That is the problem with history books — most of the men and women who possessed the noblest character and made the greatest contributions were too busy impacting other lives to get their own written about.

An American Boy

As with so many great American leaders across the fields of industry and business who were the children and grandchildren of immigrants in the 19th century, Kimmell took his cue on how to get ahead in America from his forebears. Kimmell’s father, for instance, was an imaginative capitalist.

Making Character First: Building a Culture of Character in Any Organization, by Tom Hill with Walter Jenkins, Edmond, Okla.: Character First Publishers, LLC, 2010, 188 pages, -paperback.  Making Character First is the story of a flagging Oklahoma company’s about-face in a tough economy, the personal transformation of its president, and the birth of a revolutionary new business. The key to this miraculous turn-around: Making Character First.

In an engaging, conversational style, author Tom Hill chronicles his discovery of the important role character plays in achieving success, and he has his company’s bottom line to prove it. His breakthrough came when he made a single but significant change in his human resources department. Hill stopped hiring employees principally for their skills and experience, and now hires and rewards individuals for their good character. This presumably counterintuitive decision has dramatically changed Hill’s business and personal life, and has since spread around the world to transform other lives and companies.

Last week a House panel approved a Republican proposal to defund the UN Population Fund.

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