A federal judge late Monday halted President Obama’s deportation amnesty, ruling he overstepped his powers in trying to grant legal status and “benefits and privileges” to millions of illegal immigrants, in a stunning decision that chides the president and throws the White House’s plans into disarray just a day before applications were to be accepted.
The White House said it will appeal Judge Andrew S. Hanen’s decision, but it’s unclear whether the case could reach the circuit court in New Orleans or even the Supreme Court before Wednesday, which is when the Homeland Security Department had planned to begin accepting the first applications under the new amnesty.
“The DHS was not given any ‘discretion by law’ to give 4.3 million removable aliens what the DHS itself labels as ‘legal presence,’” Judge Hanen wrote in issuing an injunction. “In fact, the law mandates that these illegally-present individuals be removed. The DHS has adopted a new rule that substantially changes both the status and employability of millions. These changes go beyond mere enforcement or even non-enforcement of this nation’s immigration scheme.”
In the immediate sense, the ruling will become a major part of the debate over homeland security funding that has roiled Capitol Hill, with Republicans insisting Mr. Obama’s actions were unconstitutional and should be halted through Congress’s spending power, and Democrats backing their president by filibustering to block funding for the Homeland Security Department altogether.
The ruling doesn’t mean those illegal immigrants are going to be deported immediately — indeed, Judge Hanen said they are likely not to be deported at all under Mr. Obama, who had set “priorities” putting them in little danger of ever being kicked out of the country, even without the formal amnesty.
The judge said Mr. Obama does have the right to set those priorities, but said it is likely a step too far for him to have set up a proactive program to grant them other benefits.
“The DHS may continue to prosecute or not prosecute these illegally-present individuals, as current laws dictate. This has been the status quo for at least the last five years and there is little-to-no basis to conclude that harm will fall upon the defendants if it is temporarily prohibited from carrying out the … program.”
One immigrant-rights group called his decision “judicial vigilantism,” while another called it a “minor legal bump” and said it’s “merely a matter of time” before they win legal status.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest was dismissive of the judge’s ruling, saying it contradicted Mr. Obama’s own lawyers, who told him he was “well within his legal authority.”
“Top law enforcement officials, along with state and local leaders across the country, have emphasized that these policies will also benefit the economy and help keep communities safe. The district court’s decision wrongly prevents these lawful, commonsense policies from taking effect and the Department of Justice has indicated that it will appeal that decision,” Mr. Earnest said early Tuesday.
Judge Hanen’s exhaustive opinion, which ran to 123 pages, eviscerated the administration’s legal arguments. Where Mr. Obama claimed he was only issuing “guidance” and using his powers of prosecutorial discretion to make decisions on a case-by-case basis, the judge ruled that wording was “disingenuous” and ignored the substance of what the president was trying to do.
He also said Mr. Obama hurt his own case by saying he’d acted to “change the law,” implying a much more substantive legal program than his administration was arguing in court.
The president’s new plan, known as Deferred Action for Parental Accountability, announced in November, was designed to cover more than 4 million illegal immigrant parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents, granting them a three-year stay of deportation, Social Security numbers and work permits to compete legally for jobs. The November order also expanded a 2012 program for so-called Dreamers, or illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.
The initial Dreamer program is still in place, and covers more than 600,000 illegal immigrants, but Judge Hanen halted its expansion, as well as the new program for parents.
About 95 percent of those who applied for the 2012 Dreamer program were approved, while nobody who didn’t meet the strict criteria was — both factors that Judge Hanen said suggested this wasn’t “discretion,” but rather a new substantive legal policy that should have gone through the usual rule-making process.
“While [the program] does not provide legal permanent residency, it certainly provides a legal benefit in the form of legal presence (plus all that it entails) — a benefit not otherwise available in immigration laws,” the judge wrote. “In this case, actions speak louder than words.”
Still, almost none of those who would have been approved for the amnesty are in danger of deportation, thanks to Mr. Obama’s other, less-noticed policies that order immigration agents only to go after illegal immigrants with serious criminal records. That likely means only a couple million of the nearly 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. are likely to be in any danger of deportation.
Immigrant-rights advocates had expected the ruling and had been working ahead of time to discredit Judge Hanen, saying he had a “bias” against them, based on a December 2013 ruling.
In that ruling, Judge Hanen had spotted the surge of illegal immigrant children crossing the border earlier on, and had been critical of how Homeland Security officials had handled it, accusing them of being complicit in human trafficking because they would deliver the children to their illegal immigrant parents in the U.S. without trying to deport either party.
Last summer’s spike in illegal immigrant children from Central America bore out Judge Hanen’s concerns, with the administration belatedly admitting that the ease of getting across the border and being connected with family here in the U.S. was helping spur the surge. (Contributor: By Stephen Dinan for The Washington Times)
Prayer focus: As readers of these alerts know, we suggest a prayer focus to enable widespread intercessors to pray in unity and for root causes rather than symptoms. It is not unpatriotic to observe that the difference between Judge Hanen’s ruling and President Obama’s position is that the judge is guided by constitutional law, while the president has set the Constitution aside in favor of his political ideology. IFA takes no position on immigration issues, although — like most Americans — we want the law upheld with compassion. Our country is broken over this. Pray for God’s mercy. Intercession is a marathon, not a sprint. The amnesty debate is far from over. Pray for revival.
“Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. 8 ‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. 9 ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.’” (Isa. 55:6-9)
As Republicans work to overcome a Democratic filibuster of a House-passed Department of Homeland Security bill that blocks President Barack Obama’s executive amnesty, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) is highlighting the Obama administration’s long history of dismantling immigration laws.
In a lengthy timeline released Monday, Sessions — the chairman of the Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest — lists every instance of the Obama administration ignoring, rewriting, delaying and breaking the nation’s immigration laws.
The timeline begins in January 2009 with the administration ending worksite enforcement actions and, 50 pages later, ends on February 13, 2015 with the House Judiciary Committee’s revelation that the administration included a “sneaky” avenue for illegal immigrants granted deferred status to be placed on a pathway to citizenship.
Sessions’ list comes at a pivotal point in Republicans’ fight to preserve the nation’s immigration laws. In November, after the midterm elections, Obama announced he would provide unilateral amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants.
In January, House Republicans passed a Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill that also blocked Obama’s executive amnesty. In the Senate, however, Democrats — including those who said they were opposed to the president’s unilateral actions — have blocked debate on the legislation.
Funding for the department expires on February 27 and the path forward remains hazy with Republicans considering ways to break the filibuster.
The release of Session’s timeline comes less than two weeks before DHS funding expires and a less than a year after he released an earlier edition in May 2014. Since May the timetable has seen nearly 100 more additions.
Timeline: How the Obama Administration Bypassed Congress to Dismantle Immigration Enforcement
In September 2011, President Obama said, “We live in a democracy. You have to pass bills through the legislature, and then I can sign it.” Yet, since that time, and indeed before then, he has systematically voided existing laws and unilaterally created new measures that Congress has refused to adopt under either Democratic or Republican control.
Most recently, the President announced he would do what he once said only an “emperor” could do – grant unilateral amnesty, work permits, and access to government benefits to more than five million illegal immigrants. This unprecedented action, combined with new “enforcement priorities” for Department of Homeland Security personnel that exempt the vast majority of illegal immigrants from the threat of removal, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals directive, the “Morton” memos, and numerous other lesser-reported but far-reaching Executive actions, has threatened not only our constitutional system, but our national sovereignty. Indeed, the idea of national, sovereign borders is being daily eviscerated by the President’s determination to write his own immigration rules in defiance of Congress and the American people.
Below is a detailed timeline of how the Obama Administration systematically dismantled immigration enforcement, undermining the very rule of law upon which our nation was founded and upon which its greatness depends.
Prayer focus: This needs little comment and is closely aligned with the article above. Sen. Sessions’ report is accurate. It may be ignored, but it cannot be denied. The question is — and will continue to be under President Obama’s method of governance — will the U.S. Congress (both House and Senate) insist on a return to guidance by our Constitution? This defining document has worked even across strong political party differences for more than 225 years. Or will our nation descend into a form of anarchy in which any president may lead by his own political ideology?
“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves…. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.” (Rom. 13:1-2, 7)
The Rev. Franklin Graham laments what he believes is a religious double standard following the public’s response to a brutal five-minute video purporting to show Islamic State militants beheading more than 20 Egyptian Christians.
“Can you imagine the outcry if 21 Muslims had been beheaded by Christians?” he asked in a Facebook post Monday. “Where is the universal condemnation by Muslim leaders around the world?
“As we mourn with the families of those 21 martyrs, we’d better take this warning seriously as these acts of terror will only spread throughout Europe and the United States,” wrote Mr. Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham. “If this concerns you like it does me, share this. The storm is coming.”
Within five hours of being published, the post had been shared nearly 70,000 times.
Mr. Graham’s comments come after 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians, who had been abducted in Libya by members of the Islamic State, or ISIL or ISIS, were reportedly executed in a video, titled “A Message Signed With Blood, To The Nation of the Cross,” which was posted online Sunday.
The White House on Sunday condemned the killings, saying the action “only further galvanizes the international community to unite against ISIL.”
“We call on all Libyans to strongly reject this and all acts of terrorism and to unite in the face of this shared and growing threat,” the Obama administration said in a statement released by press secretary Josh Earnest. “We continue to strongly support the efforts of the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General Bernardino Leon to facilitate formation of a national unity government and help foster a political solution in Libya.” (Contributor: By Jessica Chasmar for The Washington Times)
Prayer focus: Give thanks for the Rev. Franklin Graham’s willingness to raise his voice to protest these barbaric atrocities against Christians. This is an answer to many intercessory prayers for God to raise up more respected prophetic voices in the U.S. to call attention to the systematic murder of Christians by radical Islamic terrorists. Pray that President Obama will be convicted by the Holy Spirit to identify this killing rampage for what it is, especially now that those responsible for these mass executions are boasting that their evil deeds are being done “in the name of the Prophet.”
“Lord, how long will You look on? Rescue me from their destructions, my life from the lions. I will give You thanks in the great assembly; I will praise You among many people. Let them not rejoice over me who are wrongfully my enemies; nor let them wink with the eye who hate me without a cause. For they do not speak peace, but they devise deceitful matters against the quiet ones in the land.” (Ps. 35:17-20)
Over the weekend, a terrorist group with links to the Islamic State (ISIL) released a video, showing the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya. On Monday, Egypt and Libya launched warplanes in an air assault on Darna in eastern Libya, where the group is based.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, “This wanton killing of innocents is just the most recent of the many vicious acts perpetrated by ISIL-affiliated terrorists against the people of the region, including the murders of dozens of Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai, which only further galvanizes the international community to unite against ISIL.”
All those beheaded worked inside Libya, and terrorists kidnapped them in December. In the video, an English-speaking terrorist said, “Safety for you crusaders is something you can only wish for.”
Last week, President Obama asked Congress to endorse his plan to use the military to defeat and destroy the Islamic State. So far this year, the terror group has killed hostages in Syria, including Japanese Christian journalist Kenji Goto and American aid worker Kayla Mueller.
Frank Wolf, the recently retired congressman, urged six additional steps to protect Christians and other religious minorities from genocide, including creation of a safe haven in Nineveh, northwest Iraq.
In a letter to Congress on Feb. 11, Obama said, “If left unchecked, ISIL will pose a threat beyond the Middle East, including to the United States homeland. I have directed a comprehensive and sustained strategy to degrade and defeat ISIL. As part of this strategy, US military forces are conducting a systematic campaign of airstrikes.”
Yet, on the same day, Wolf in a statement said Christians and other groups are on the “edge of extinction” due to terrorism and policy-makers must do more.
“If the Islamic State is not defeated and ultimately destroyed, there will be no future for these ancient faith communities who now face an existential crisis and genocidal onslaught in lands they have inhabited since antiquity,” Wolf said. The retired Virginia congressman recently co-founded the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative and accepted an appointment to a newly endowed chair for religious freedom at Baylor University.
In January, Wolf and several others from the Wilberforce Initiative traveled to northwest Iraq to meet with refugees from the region. The Wilberforce delegation said they were within 1.5 miles of the Islamic State frontline. They spoke with dozens of Christians and Yazidis (another at-risk minority group) and met with top officials in the Kurdistan Regional Government, religious leaders, and humanitarian groups.
On return, the Wilberforce group developed six proposals to secure the future of Christians, Yazidis, and others:
- Create the Nineveh Plains province in Iraq to shelter Christians and other minorities.
- Establish the Nineveh Protection Unit, a defensive National Guard. (This is already in formation.)
- Allow faith-based relief and development groups to operate openly in the region.
- Require the return of property, especially churches and monasteries, confiscated by the Islamic State.
- Require the Kurdistan regional government to insure religious freedom for all groups.
- Prosecute terrorists for crimes against humanity, war crimes, and if needed, for genocide.
“A decade ago, Iraq's Christian population numbered 1.5 million,” said Randel Everett, Wilberforce Initiative president and former Texas pastor. “Today, roughly 300,000 remain, and most have no jobs, no schools, and no places of worship. The Nineveh Plains had been one of the last relatively safe havens for Christians, Yazidis, Shabak, Turkmen and other minority groups. With the fall of Mosul and surrounding areas last summer, Iraq’s minorities want to remain in their homeland, but have no place to go.”
Wolf’s New Role
In the new position at Baylor, Wolf will be responsible for outreach on Christianity’s role in addressing social issues and will collaborate on international projects and how to integrate religious freedom in foreign policy. Funding for the new job came from Jerry and Susie Wilson, a Dallas couple who donated $2 million to the school in December.
“Congressman Frank Wolf has been widely recognized as the ‘conscience’ of the Congress and a champion of religious freedom in both US domestic and foreign policy,” said Baylor president and chancellor Ken Starr. “This appointment represents a remarkable opportunity to advance the study and protection of the essential right of religious freedom and to vigorously address the profound issues of religious liberty and Christianity’s contributions to human flourishing throughout the world.”
CT previously noted how Wolf, then 74, announced in 2013 that he would not seek reelection after serving in Congress for 34 years. He was lead sponsor for the Religious Freedom Act (which led to the creation of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom) and ambassador-at-large and special adviser for international religious freedom in the State Department. During his time on Capitol Hill, Wolf traveled to Africa, Asia, and the Middle East to raise awareness of religious persecution and human rights abuses, Roll Call reports.
Wolf called on the US church to advocate for Iraqi Christians in a 2008 CT interview. He later articulated his thoughts about the role American government should play in human rights and religious freedom in a 2011 interview with CT:
“I think America has lost much of its influence partially because our leaders aren't articulating human rights as a driving issue… Our Declaration of Independence and Constitution should stand as a covenant not only between American citizens, but also between America and a Chinese dissident in Beijing, a Coptic Christian in the upper Nile, or a Chaldean who is being gunned down in Iraq. By maintaining economic ability to deal with issues of persecution, America can still be the dominant power to defend human rights and religious freedom.”
That same year, he challenged Gary Locke, the President's nominee for ambassador to China, to “publicly identify with the persecuted” by visiting an unregistered house church in China.
“I am looking forward to working with colleagues at Baylor University to advance the case for religious freedom,” Wolf said in a press release from Baylor. “I have been involved in promoting religious liberty for many years in Congress, and now I look forward to collaborating with scholars, religious leaders, and the laity in what I believe is one of the most important struggles of our time.”
CT has covered Wolf extensively, including his 2013 call for the federal government to support technology breaching Internet firewalls established by authoritarian regimes. (Contributor: Timothy C. Morgan and Ruth Moon for Christianity Today)
Prayer focus: Give thanks for former congressman Frank Wolfe. For more than 30 years, Mr. Wolfe has been a faithful Christian and conservative voice inside and outside congressional halls. His distinguished record as a champion of human rights around the world is virtually unparalleled. He has earned the right to be heard. Pray for him as he takes up this new position and platform at Baylor U. Pray that President Obama, the U.S. Congress, and the Christian Church in America will be open and responsive to his piercing convictions about the rights of Christians and others to survive. Pray in faith, remembering that in the end, righteousness will prevail and God’s glory will be manifest.
“But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And on some have compassion, making a distinction, but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh. Now unto Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.” (Jude 20-25)
Denmark's synagogue attack is the latest in a series across Europe.
Denmark will do everything it can to protect Jews, said its Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt to reporters Monday. But across town, the thousands of bouquets that had been laid at the gates of a synagogue where a gunman killed a Jewish man over the weekend were a painful reminder that they hadn’t been protected enough. Here and across Europe, the attack added to a growing fear among Jews that the continent was once again not safe for them.
Coming so soon after a similar attack in Paris, in which two gunmen killed cartoonists and editors at the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, while another killed five in two other incidents, the Copenhagen events have sharply undermined the small Danish Jewish community’s already deteriorating sense of security.
“It’s terrifying,” says Marianne Isaksen, a member of the congregation where Dan Uzan was killed. She and her husband Alf, both in their 70s, knew Uzan, and had come out to Krystalgade to commiserate with other synagogue members and pay their respects. “We knew things were getting worse, but we never thought it could happen here.”
A police officer guards the street around the Noerrebro train station in Copenhagen on Feb. 15, 2015 where a man has been shot in a police action following two fatal attacks in the Danish capital.
And yet increasingly, it does happen throughout Europe. Across the continent, anti-Semitic incidents are on the rise. On Sunday, hundreds of Jewish tombs were desecrated in the town of Sarre-Union in eastern France. Last July during the Gaza war, eight French synagogues were vandalized or petrol-bombed among many other similar incidents across Europe.
Many Jews do not consider themselves safe in Europe. A 2013 survey of Jewish communities in eight European Union states (Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Sweden and the U.K.) carried out by the E.U.’s Fundamental Rights Agency found that over three-quarters of respondents believed anti-Semitism had increased in their country over the past five years. Nearly a third had considered emigrating from Europe because they did not feel safe as a Jew, with the figure reaching between 40% and 48% in Hungary, France and Belgium.
Those concerns can be felt throughout the E.U.’s population of 1.1 million Jews. In the small French town of Eze, freelance writer Clara Kagan keeps her Judaism to herself. “I would never feel safe in Paris or in my village wearing my Jewish star,” she says. “When I go to America, I wear it but I have only worn it once or twice in France and felt I was being looked at so I stopped.”
The same fears are echoed, if more fiercely, by Linda Ban, the wife of a rabbi in Budapest, where the Jobbik party went as far as to call for the drawing up of a list of Jews in 2012 (the Jobbik member of parliament later amended his call to focus only on those Jews who hold double Israeli-Hungarian citizenship). “In Hungary, people find open anti-Semitism in the media, so they think they can say the same things. People think if they can say it on the radio or on the floor of parliament, so can I. I’m not sure if there’s more anti-Semitism now than there was ten years ago, but it’s definitely louder. The taboo has been broken.”
The unease is felt across Europe. “I would say that it is very hard for Jews to live in Europe today,” says Arie Zuckerman, special adviser to the president of the European Jewish Congress. “I would not be so extreme as to say it’s starting to be impossible, but it is very hard. Jews are thinking twice before going to the synagogue on Saturday, and though it’s better in London, we hear it a lot from Jews in France, which has the biggest Jewish community in Europe. And definitely in Belgium, and definitely in the Scandinavian countries. Jews don’t feel comfortable to be identified as Jews in the streets.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took advantage of those fears to address Europe’s Jews in a statement on the Copenhagen attacks. “This wave of terror attacks can be expected to continue, including anti-Semitic and murderous attacks. We say to the Jews, to our brothers and sisters, Israel is your home and that of every Jew. Israel is waiting for you with open arms.”
Denmark’s chief rabbi, Jair Melchior, objected to Netanyahu’s remarks, telling the press on Feb. 15 that “terror is not a reason to move to Israel. People from Denmark move to Israel because they love Israel, because of Zionism, but not because of terrorism. If the way we deal with terror is to run somewhere else, we should all run to a deserted island.”
But more and more, Jews in other countries are weighing their options. In 2014, 7,000 of France’s roughly 500,000 Jews moved to Israel, double the number of the previous year. According to the Jewish Agency, immigration to Israel from Western Europe as a whole is up 88%; 620 of those immigrants came from the U.K., a 20% increase.
If the Isaksens aren’t considering following suit, it’s at least partly because, historically, Denmark has been the exception in Europe, protecting its Jews where other countries failed. During World War II, it transported nearly the entire community to safety in neutral Sweden when the Germans invaded.
But in recent years, even Denmark has seen a rise in anti-Semitic attacks. Cans painted with the label of Zyklon B, a chemical used to produce gas in Nazi extermination camps during World War II, were left on the fence of the Copenhagen synagogue in 2013. That was just one of 43 anti-Semitic incidents that occurred that year according to the Jewish community in Denmark’s security unit. “It seems to be getting worse and worse,” says Isaksen, noting that he himself had been assaulted on the street. “Certainly we’re afraid.”
Still, he and his wife were grateful for the outpouring of support from other Danes. Peter Krogell was one of them. A minister at the German Lutheran church on the same street as the synagogue, Krogell brought his two boys to lay tulips outside the temple. “We came because we wanted to show our unity,” he said. “And because as Danes we believe that the only way to fight terror is with freedom and democracy. And love.” Throughout Europe, 1.1 million Jews are hoping that’s enough. (Contributor: By Lisa Abend for Time)
Prayer focus: As we have documented in these alerts, cruel and severe anti-Semitism is increasing rapidly all over the world. This article gives an accurate profile of the pressure on European Jews. Note that Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu has invited them to move to Israel, though many resist or reject that solution either through fear or a lack of interest in Israel. We should remember as we intercede for Jewish people and the nation of Israel that God’s love extends to both Jews and Gentiles as individuals who need personal salvation in Jesus Christ, Savior and Messiah.
“For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time…” (1 Tim. 2:3-6)
“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” (Rom. 10:1-4)
Delaware Gov. Jack Markell (D) has declared Feb. 12 as "Charles Darwin Day" in the state.
Praising Darwin's theory of evolution as "the foundation of modern biology, an essential tool in understanding the development of life on earth," Markell's proclamation says Feb. 12 -- Darwin's birthday -- "is a time to reflect and celebrate the importance of his scientific achievements."
As Patheos notes, the proclamation was issued at the request of Chuck Dyke, a member of the Delaware Atheist Meetup group. (According to the governor's website, any organization based in or connected to Delaware may request special recognition for a day, week or month.)
Darwin Day has been celebrated by groups in the U.S., Europe and Canada on the British naturalist's birthday since 1980. In 2013 and 2014, then-Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) introduced legislation to designate a national Darwin Day. Despite support from some House Democrats, the proposal never got off the ground. Former Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) made a similar attempt in 2011.
A 2013 Pew Research Center poll found that 60 percent of American adults believe that humans and other creatures have evolved over time, while 33 percent reject the theory. A 2014 Gallup poll found that 42 percent of Americans believe humans were created by God in their present form, while about 50 percent said they believe humans evolved.
The Pew study also found belief in evolution differs strongly by party affiliation, with 67 percent of Democrats expressing belief in the theory, compared with 43 percent of Republicans. Markell was first elected governor in 2008.
Darwin died in 1882. (Contributor: By Jesse Rifkin for The Huffington Post)
Prayer focus: Darwin was not an atheist, but his theories offer a more “convenient” explanation for life’s origins than belief in God as Creator. His legacy is now an anti-God cult that insists on a choice between God and “natural selection” or chance. What the atheistic Humanist Society has achieved in Delaware, it wants to press across the U.S. to create a national “Darwin Day” that will enshrine the naturalist forever as an icon of evolutionary development. Pray for the Church to awaken to take a strong, vocal stand for the biblical position. Pray for Christian parents to make sure their teens understand the truth before they step into a college classroom, where young faith will be attacked by “systematic unbelief.”
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Gen. 1:1)
“Know that the Lord, He is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves, we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.” (Ps. 100:3)
Get the shredders ready — the Tea Party could be coming.
The city’s new municipal ID program allows for personal info provided by applicants to be destroyed at the end of 2016, in case a conservative Republican wins the White House and demands the data, the law’s co-sponsor told The Post on Monday.
City Councilman Carlos Menchaca (D-Brooklyn) said the measure was crafted so data submitted by those seeking the cards can be destroyed on Dec. 31, 2016.
The cards are aimed at undocumented immigrants.
“In case a Tea Party Republican comes into office and says, ‘We want all of the data from all of the municipal ID programs in the country,’ we’re going to take the data,” he explained.
The next president assumes office Jan. 20, 2017.
“That date is an important signal to the future of immigration reform. That allows us to prepare for any new leadership,” Menchaca said.
In order to get an ID, residents must provide their names, addresses, aliases, dates of birth and other information, making it easy for the feds to identify undocumented immigrants.
Menchaca said the Obama administration has shown no interest in going after the data, but he didn’t want to take any chances on the next administration.
“Though we have not seen documents like this get requested at the level of the federal government, that could be a possibility, so that really allows us to protect the data,” he said.
Immigrant advocates praised the provision.
“It’s no secret that one of the biggest sticking points in the ID programs is ensuring that there’s confidentiality, that immigrants are comfortably giving their information to the city,” said Steven Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition.
“The sunset is part and parcel of the effort to ensure confidentiality.”
The bill lets the city destroy the info if it determines it’s no longer needed.
The cards were first available early last month. Demand has been overwhelming, with more than 200,000 appointments made for the cards in less than a month. (Contributor: By Tara Palmeri for The New York Post - Additional reporting by Bob Fredericks)
Prayer focus: Once again, the real prayer need is below the surface, not about the petty politics of planning to “hide” the personal data of illegals from the next administration. Our country is sick and deeply divided by partisan politics. Pray that intercessors will rise across the country as a unified voice of effective prayer. Intercede that the Church will awaken to take its rightful place as a prophetic trumpet of truth to call Christians to spiritual warfare and that a heaven-sent revival will bring another Great Awakening to once again invoke God’s blessings. Our country, this deeply divided, is at risk.
“Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, ‘Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.’” (Matt. 12:25)
Gov. Bobby Jindal's office has been a part of the effort to block construction of a new Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in New Orleans, The Washington Post reports.
A sign declaring that "High-Quality, Affordable Health Care for New Orleans" would begin "Seeing Patients Early 2015," is now lying on the ground behind a chain link fence, but Raegan Carter of Planned Parenthood Center for Choice told The Times-Picayune that the banner was damaged by weather, and that the group still intends to build the clinic.
Planned Parenthood is appealing a ruling from Jindal's administration that the need for the new clinic was not proven and that "it did not meet the clear requirements."
Louisiana's new rules regarding abortion clinics are similar to those in Texas, in which any doctor working at an abortion clinic must have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the facility.
Jindal's office isn't the only adversary Planned Parenthood is facing. Archbishop Gregory Aymond has threatened to boycott any contractor who works on the project.
Several subcontractors backed out of the project after Aymond wrote in an open letter, "the archdiocese, including its churches, schools, apartments for the elderly, and nursing homes, will strive in its privately-funded work not to enter into business relationships with any person or organization that participates in actions that are essential to making this abortion facility a reality."
Jindal didn't comment on the issue, but the Post quoted him from a statement made last week in which he said, "It matters how we treat the unborn and the elderly. Every life is sacred and we should have the courage to defend it."
Jindal is expected to run for president as a Republican in 2016, and the pro-life issue is important to much of the party's base, including evangelical voters, the Post notes.
Americans United for Life told the Post that during Jindal's time in office, Louisiana has been the most pro-life it has ever been.
"He’s not just been pro-life behind closed doors," Louisiana Right to Life's Benjamin Clapper, told the newspaper. "He’s also been proudly pro-life across our state." (Contributor: By Greg Richter for Newsmax)
Prayer focus: Whatever Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s political ambitions might be, he isn’t ashamed of his strong prolife and sanctity of life convictions. Please intercede for Governor Jindal, and for prolife state governors like him, to find success in their determination to reduce or bring to zero the number of abortion centers and abortions in their respective states. As IFA has reported elsewhere, this year (2015) holds the clear possibility to see the U.S. Supreme Court overturn the infamous 1973 Roe v. Wade decision allowing abortion on demand.
[God’s word through Moses:] “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live…” (Deut. 30:19)
But although the potential for DNA as an alternative to hard drives has been known about for years, it is not the most reliable and secure way to keep data safe.
The latest breakthrough could be about to change that, however.
Chemists subjected spheres of DNA to extreme temperatures designed to mimic chemical degradation and found the material - and the data stored on it - could be successfully decoded.
The research was led by Robert Grass from ETH Zurich's Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences.
'DNA lends itself to this task as it can store large amounts of information in a compact manner,' said the researchers.
'Unfortunately, the data is not always retrievable error-free: gaps and false information in the encoded data arise through chemical degradation and mistakes in DNA sequencing.
'[We] have revealed how the long-term, error-free storage of information can be achieved, potentially for more than a million years.'
In 2013, researchers demonstrated that data could be saved and read from DNA, but during tests the time between 'writing' the information and reading, or sequencing it, was relatively short.
Even during this short time, mistakes were spotted in the writing and reading of the data stored on the DNA.
Over a longer term, DNA can change significantly as it reacts chemically with the environment, and this is the biggest obstacle to using DNA as a long-term storage option.
With this in mind, Professor Grass took inspiration from fossilised bones.
Despite being thousands of years old, it is possible to obtain genetic material found within the bones.
He concluded that this DNA is protected because it is 'encapsulated and protected'.
With this in mind he devised a way to protect the information-bearing DNA with a synthetic 'fossil shell', in the same way.
His team began by encoding Switzerland's Federal Charter of 1291 and The Methods of Mechanical Theorems by Archimedes in the DNA.
The researchers then placed the DNA segments into spheres of silica with a diameter of roughly 150 nanometres.
For the recent breakthrough, the researchers took inspiration from fossilised bones. Despite being thousands of years old, it is possible to obtain genetic material because the DNA is protected inside the bones. The experts designed a similar 'fossil shell' to protect the information-bearing DNA in the same way.
In order to simulate the degradation of DNA over a long period of time, researchers stored it at a temperature of between 60°C (140°F) and 70°C (158°F) for up to a month.
These high temperatures replicate the chemical degradation that takes place over hundreds of years within just a few weeks.
By doing this, the researchers could compare the storage of DNA in silica glass with other common storage methods such as on impregnated filter paper and in a biopolymer.
The DNA encapsulated in the glass shell turned out to be particularly robust and the researchers were able separate it from the shell, using a fluoride solution, and read information from it.
Storing Data Inside DNA
In 2013, researchers from the European Bioinformatics Institute at the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus in Hinxton, Cambridgeshire 'downloaded' all 154 of Shakespeare's sonnets on to strands of synthetic DNA.
Scientists were then able to decode the information and reproduce the words of the Bard with complete accuracy.
The same technique made it possible to store a 26-second excerpt from Martin Luther King's 'I Have A Dream' speech and a photo of the Cambridgeshire laboratory where the work took place.
For their experiment, the scientists used a tiny amount of synthetic, dry DNA.
Five genetic 'letters' from the genetic code - A,C,G and T - were used to represent the zeros and ones that make up 'bytes' of digital information.
For instance, the upper case T in the word 'Thou' from the second line of Shakespeare's Sonnet XVIII - 'Thou art more lovely and more temperate' - was encoded by the sequence TATAT.
The scientists then incorporated an 'error correction', similar to that found laptops and mobile phones.
This involved overlapping short strands of DNA and independently writing every million-molecule fragment of code four times.
Effectively, three backups were created for each fragment, greatly reducing the chances of mistakes.
This was a similar method used by Reinhard Heckel from ETH Zurich's Communication Technology Laboratory for the recent study.
The researchers from EBI stressed that the DNA used was wholly artificial and different to the genetic molecules of life, and if it was added to a human body, it would degrade and be disposed of.
Theoretically, 100 million hours of high definition video could be stored in a cupful of DNA - equivalent to every film and TV show ever created. A DNA archive also requires no constant supply of electric power like hard drives and data centers do.
Currently the technology is restricted by the length of time it takes to sequence DNA and its high cost - around $12,300 per megabyte of stored material.
Even so, DNA-based storage could today be cost effective for archives of several megabytes over long time periods of 600 to 5,000 years, computer models predict.
Theoretically, 100 million hours of high definition video could be stored in a cupful of DNA - equivalent to every film and TV show ever created.
A DNA archive also requires no constant supply of electric power like hard discs do. (Contributor: By Victoria Woollaston for Mail Online)
Prayer focus: This may be good science in the future, but at present it is very uncertain. News outlets tend to report laboratory research prematurely. We present such reports for “watchmen on the walls” — those who follow trends to discern where “science” may be going. Like earlier stem cell research, tinkering with DNA, the building blocks of life and the Creator’s gift, may lead to ethical violations with the bodies of aborted babies. We urge intercessors to “watch and pray” and remain alert to where this trend is going. Man’s natural tendency is away from God’s design. Pray as you are led.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matt. 6:33-34)