Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Good morning!

Tax Day is behind us, but according to the IRS, 50,219,667 tax return filers paid $0 or less in income taxes last year. 

Here are some non-tax related headlines we’re following this morning: 

  1. ‘Alive From NY’ Could Rock The Pro-Life World 

From the Daily Wire: 

As states rack up legislative victories in the battle to defend preborn babies with beating hearts, an infantry of pro-life soldiers are preparing to mount a bold follow-on offensive right in the heart of New York City. 

Their plan? 

Broadcasting a live, 4D ultrasound of a third-trimester baby on jumbotrons in Midtown Manhattan’s Times Square. 

“We care too much about women and we care too much about their children to let this happen on our watch,” Focus on the Family’s Robyn Chambers told The Daily Wire. 

Chambers’ hope for the outcome of the event is to see a change in hearts and minds on the issue of abortion, yet she harbors no unrealistic expectation that New York’s egregious law will be instantly overturned. 

Contrary to legacy media’s incessant portrayal to the contrary, pro-life advocates’ focus is not solely on the baby — nor is it solely on outlawing abortion. 

“We are stepping into this for that woman and her child — not just for that baby,” said Chambers, who expressed her desire for women to embrace their true worth. 

  1. North Carolina Senate passes ‘born-alive’ abortion bill

The Washington Times Reports:

A bill requiring doctors and nurses to protect and care for children born alive during a failed late-term abortion cleared the North Carolina Senate on Monday, handing social conservatives a victory that could ultimately be undone by the Democratic governor. 

The Republican-drafted legislation specifies that health care practitioners should grant those children born alive the same protections as any other newborn patient. Those who don’t do so could face a felony and active prison time, along with potential $250,000 fines and other monetary damages. A mother can’t be prosecuted, but health care providers who fail to report any improper care to authorities could be charged. 

“This has nothing to do with limiting abortion in any way,” said Republican Sen. Joyce Krawiec, the bill’s sponsor, in floor debate. “This bill changes nothing except how that born-alive infant is treated.” 

Abortion-rights lawmakers and activists strongly oppose the bill, saying the problem it attempts to address is nonexistent.  

  1. Taylor University Students Protest Mike Pence Commencement Invitation 

From FOX News: 

Vice President Mike Pence is getting pushback from Taylor University students and alumni after the small evangelical Christian school tapped the former Indiana governor to be this year’s commencement speaker. 

Over 3,300 people have signed a change.org petition to get Pence’s invitation to the mid-May commencement ceremony rescinded, claiming the “Trump-Pence Administration’s policies” are “not consistent with the Christian ethic of love we hold dear.” 

The Christian university has defended the decision. Paul Lowell Haines, the president of Taylor, praised the vice president as a “good friend to the University over many years,” and “a Christian brother whose life and values have exemplified what we strive to instill in our graduates… We look forward to hosting the Vice President next month.” 

  1. Notre Dame Cathedral Burns in Paris – Suffers “Colossal Damage” 

Cause unknown. The cathedral has been in the heart of Paris for 800 years. The New York Times has more

Notre-Dame cathedral, the iconic symbol of the beauty and history of Paris, was scarred by an extensive fire on Monday evening that caused its delicate spire to collapse, bruised the Parisian skies with smoke and further disheartened a city already back on its heels after weeks of violent protests.

A sampling of reaction to the fire: 

From Dennis Prager: It is as if God Himself wanted to warn us in the most unmistakable way that Western Christianity is burning — and with it, Western civilization (Townhall). 

From David French: It’s impossible to estimate the number of people who have experienced significant, transcendent moments at Notre Dame. I’ll never forget praying there the morning of my wedding. @NancyAFrench and I got married in sight of the spire that just fell (Twitter). 

From Mark Hemingway: Take comfort in the fact it’s Holy Week. Christianity is premised on Resurrection (Twitter). 

From the Wall Street Journal: One need only witness the throngs of visitors around Notre Dame each day from Africa, South America and Asia alongside North Americans and Europeans to see how its cultural significance spread far beyond the Western civilization that created it. It has stood for nearly 900 years as a globally recognizable monument to the faith practiced within it (WSJ). 

From USA Today: All was not lost at Notre Dame. The religious statues that sat atop the cathedral were recently removed as part of a $6.8 million renovation of the towering spire that fell to the ground in Monday’s blaze. Some of the sacred artifacts housed at the cathedral are safe, too, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said Monday night on Twitter (USA Today).  

  1. Labeling Social Media a “Public Health Risk,” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Quits Facebook 

The Washington Post reports

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose mastery of social media has helped drive the national conversation and shed light on the inner workings of congressional power, has given up on the most popular social network in the world. 

In an interview Sunday with the Yahoo News podcast “Skullduggery,” the New York Democrat said she stopped using her Facebook account and was scaling back on all social media, which she described as a “public health risk” because it can lead to “increased isolation, depression, anxiety, addiction, escapism.” 

  1. Are Faith Leaders Afraid to Talk About Difficult Issues? 

According to a recent article from CBN, half of all pastors worry they’ll offend someone if they preach on controversial topics. 

New polling has revealed half of American pastors are too concerned they might offend someone to speak out on hot-button social and moral issues, but could that problem have a simple fix? 

According to research from the Barna Group, the same issues pastors feel most pressured to preach about are also the ones they feel most uncomfortable addressing. 

It should come as no surprise the issues at the top of the heap are homosexuality and abortion. 

“The pressure for leaders, and especially faith leaders, to satisfy everyone on all sides and to avoid offense is very real today, especially in the digital era,” said Roxanne Stone, editor-in-chief of Barna. “The public nature of social media only increases the stakes.” 

The majority of the push and pull pastors feel is coming from inside the congregations they lead. 

7.   Study: Men’s Beards Carry More Harmful Germs Than Dog Fur 

Time to shave? Yes, according to the NY Post

A new study which sampled men’s beards found more harmful bacteria in human whiskers than in dog fur.

“The researchers found a significantly higher bacterial load in specimens taken from the men’s beards compared with the dogs’ fur,” says professor Andreas Gutzeit of Switzerland’s Hirslanden Clinic.

The study actually intended to understand whether humans could contract dog-borne diseases from a MRI scanner shared by veterinarians. The researchers took swabs from the scruff of 18 fellas and the necks of 30 canines of various breeds. They found that all of the bearded men, who were aged 18 to 76, had high microbial counts, while only 23 of the 30 dogs showed similarly high microbial presence.

Seven of the men tested positive for microbes that actually posed a threat to human health.

  1. Monty Python’s Terry Gilliam Wishes Comedy Hadn’t Changed

 A Q&A in today’s Wall Street Journal:

Q: Is there a difference between British and American humor?

Gilliam: I always felt the British are very good at laughing at themselves. The Americans are better at laughing at other people. I still think it’s pretty true, but it’s changing because now we can’t laugh at anybody because it causes offense. There’s a kind of egotism out there: “Oh, they were making fun of me.” Never heard of you. I’m making fun of an idea.

Q: You were angry when the head of BBC comedies recently said if they were doing Monty Python now it wouldn’t be “six white Oxbridge blokes.”

Gilliam: I wasn’t particularly angry, I just played angry. The idea is that we’re already excluded because the world has changed. I said, I’m tired of being, as a white male, blamed for everything that’s wrong in the world. So now I want you to call me Loretta. I’m a black lesbian in transition.That all comes from “Life of Brian,” [the 1979 Python film spoofing religious epics] when Eric [Idle’s character], whose name is Stan, says “I want you to call me Loretta. I want to be a woman.” People now might take offense at that. And when offense becomes so easy, it takes the fun out of offending!

Q: Could you get an irreverent film like “Life of Brian” made today?

Gilliam: I don’t know, but you have to try. I’m always pushing to see what we can get away with, to make people think rather than just reacting. That’s what Python was about, and we seem to be respected as the great old men of comedy. But to do what we were doing—now, yes, it would be a fight.