On Watch in Washington March 13, 2013
March 13, 2013
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on February 25, 2013 in New York City. The Dow Jones industrial average and the S&P 500 both gained about 0.5% in morning trading following positive news in overseas markets.
Last week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit a record high. For stocks, this marks a remarkable recovery from what has been termed the Great Recession.
It took less than four years from the bear market low of 6,547, set on March 9, 2009, for the Dow to set a record high. In the Great Depression, it had taken fully 25 years for the Dow to reach a new, post-1929 high.
But while the stock market is rising briskly, unemployment has not done nearly as well. The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its February report Friday morning — and though many cheered its 236,000-new-job headline, it was sobering overall.
Unemployment is at 7.7%, only a tenth of a percent below where it was in September of last year. Unemployment among some subgroups, such as teenagers (25.1%) and blacks (13.8%), is much higher.
The long-term unemployed, those out of work for 27 weeks or longer, number 4.8 million, fully 40.1% of all unemployed. Those working part-time but wanting full-time employment number 8 million.
These are dismal figures.
Worse, the workforce participation rate is only 63.5%. At the start of the recession, it was 66%. In other words, millions of people have dropped out of the labor force. If they had not, the unemployment rate would be over 10%.
So why is Wall Street flourishing while Main Street keeps struggling?
Part of the reason, of course, is that the stock market tends to be a leading economic indicator. It looks forward and tends to start declining before the economy as a whole does, and vice versa.
Also, the Dow, while the most widely followed index of stock performance, is a rather peculiar one. It has only 30 very large companies in it, and Dow Jones changes them regularly to better reflect, in its opinion, the reality of the American economy. In September 2008, the Dow removed the ailing insurance company AIG, substituting Kraft Foods. In June of the next year, it removed General Motors and Citigroup, which both would have been bankrupt except for huge government bailouts, substituting Cisco and Travelers.
In 1939, had the Dow not removed IBM (soon thereafter a Wall Street wonder that rose 22,000% over the next 40 years) and substituted AT&T (a widows-and-orphans stock that merely tripled while paying good dividends), it would have recovered its 1929 high years before it did. The whole of post-war Wall Street history would have been perceived differently.
But there are deeper reasons for why this recovery has been so sluggish in the labor market. One is that managers prefer upping hours and overtime to taking on new workers. Why? Because they fear that the recession might return, so they are reluctant to make new hires whom they might soon have to let go. Even when there is a job opening, the number of days it remains open has increased markedly since the recession ended.
At Apple in 2010, the interview process averaged 13 days. Now it is 22.
Most important, however, is the fact that the economy is in the middle of the most profound technological revolution since the steam engine and the factory system of production kicked off the Industrial Revolution, remaking the world 250 years ago. (Contributor: By John Steele Gordon for the New York Daily News)
Call upon the Lord to give His wisdom to executive administrators across the nation on how to create jobs that will benefit their companies as well as provide adequate income for families in these stressful economic times.
“… call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.” (Psalm 50:15)
America’s national debt is over $16 trillion. Yet Washington can’t figure out how to cut $85 billion—or just 2% of the federal budget—without resorting to arbitrary, across-the-board cuts. Clearly, the budget process is broken. In four of the past five years, the president has missed his budget deadline. Senate Democrats haven’t passed a budget in over 1,400 days. By refusing to tackle the drivers of the nation’s debt—or simply to write a budget—Washington lurches from crisis to crisis.
House Republicans have a plan to change course. On Tuesday, we’re introducing a budget that balances in 10 years—without raising taxes. How do we do it? We stop spending money the government doesn’t have. Historically, Americans have paid a little less than one-fifth of their income in taxes to the federal government each year. But the government has spent more.
Republican House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan plans to introduce a proposal to overhaul Medicare and Medicaid that is almost identical to the Republican presidential platform in the 2012 election.
So our budget matches spending with income. Under our proposal, the government spends no more than it collects in revenue—or 19.1% of gross domestic product each year. As a result, we’ll spend $4.6 trillion less over the next decade.
Our opponents will shout austerity, but let’s put this in perspective. On the current path, we’ll spend $46 trillion over the next 10 years. Under our proposal, we’ll spend $41 trillion. On the current path, spending will increase by 5% each year. Under our proposal, it will increase by 3.4%. Because the U.S. economy will grow faster than spending, the budget will balance by 2023, and debt held by the public will drop to just over half the size of the economy.
Yet the most important question isn’t how we balance the budget. It’s why. A budget is a means to an end, and the end isn’t a neat and tidy spreadsheet. It’s the well-being of all Americans. By giving families stability and protecting them from tax hikes, our budget will promote a healthier economy and help create jobs. Most important, our budget will reignite the American Dream, the idea that anyone can make it in this country.
The truth is, the nation’s debt is a sign of overreach. Government is trying to do too much, and when government does too much, it doesn’t do anything well. So a balanced budget is a reasonable goal, because it returns government to its proper limits and focus. By curbing government’s overreach, our budget will give families the space they need to thrive.
The other side will warn of a relapse into recession—just as they predicted economic disaster when the budget sequester hit. But a balanced budget will help the economy. Smaller deficits will keep interest rates low, which will help small businesses to expand and hire. It’s no surprise, then, that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office believes that legislation reducing the deficit as much as our budget does would boost gross national product by 1.7% in 2023.
We must take action now. Our budget will expand opportunity in major areas like energy. It will protect and strengthen key priorities like Medicare. It will encourage social mobility by retooling welfare. It will fix the broken tax code to create jobs and increase wages.
First, energy: America has the world’s largest natural-gas, oil and coal reserves—enough natural gas to meet the country’s needs for 90 years. Yet the administration is buying up land to prevent further development. Our budget opens these lands to development, so families will have affordable energy. It approves the Keystone XL pipeline, which will create 20,000 direct jobs—and 118,000 indirect jobs. Our budget puts the country on the path to North American energy independence.
Second, health care: Our budget repeals the president’s health-care law and replaces it with patient-centered reforms. It also protects and strengthens Medicare. I want Medicare to be there for my kids—just as it’s there for my mom today. But Medicare is going broke. Under our proposal, those in or near retirement will see no changes, and future beneficiaries will inherit a program they can count on. Starting in 2024, we’ll offer eligible seniors a range of insurance plans from which they can choose—including traditional Medicare—and help them pay the premiums.
The other side will demagogue this issue. But remember: Anyone who attacks our Medicare proposal without offering a credible alternative is complicit in the program’s demise.
Third, welfare reform: After the welfare reforms of 1996, child poverty fell by double digits. This budget extends those reforms to other federal aid programs. It gives states flexibility so they can tailor programs like Medicaid and food stamps to their people’s needs. It encourages states to get people off the welfare rolls and onto payrolls. We shouldn’t measure success by how much we spend. We should measure it by how many people we help. Those who protect the status quo must answer to the 46 million Americans living in poverty.
Fourth, tax reform: The current tax code is a Rubik’s cube that Americans spend six billion hours—and $160 billion—each year trying to solve. The U.S. corporate tax is the highest in the industrialized world. So our budget paves the way for comprehensive tax reform. It calls for Congress to simplify the code by closing loopholes and consolidating tax rates. Our goal is to have just two brackets: 10% and 25%. House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp has committed to pass a specific bill this year.
If we take these steps, the United States will once again become a haven of opportunity. The economy will grow, and the country will regain its strength. All we need is leadership. Washington owes the American people a balanced budget. It isn’t fair to take more from families so government can spend more.
A balanced budget isn’t unprecedented. President Bill Clinton worked with a Republican Congress to get it done. House Republicans’ last two budgets balanced, too—albeit at a later date. But a balanced budget is still a noteworthy achievement, considering the competition.
The recent debt-ceiling agreement forced Senate Democrats to write a budget this year, and we expect to see it this week. I hate to break the suspense, but their budget won’t balance—ever. Instead, it will raise taxes to pay for more spending. The president, meanwhile, is standing on the sidelines. He is expected to submit his budget in April—two months past his deadline.
We House Republicans have done our part. We’re offering a credible plan for all the country to see. We’re outlining how to solve the greatest problems facing America today. Now we invite the president and Senate Democrats to join in the effort. — Mr. Ryan, a Republican, represents Wisconsin’s first congressional district and is chairman of the House Budget Committee.
A version of this article appeared March 12, 2013, on page A17 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: The GOP Plan to Balance the Budget by 2023. (Contributor: By PAUL RYAN for The Wall Street Journal)
Continue to pray that our government leaders will cry unto Him for His godly wisdom. Man’s plans cannot on their own incorporate the wisdom that only the Lord knows about the future. Pray that God will grant wisdom to our leaders to act according to His understanding about the needs that we have now and will have in the future.
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance. From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth—he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.” (Psalm 33:12-15)
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On Jan. 29, I wrote a piece that described North Korea’s strategy as a combination of ferocious, weak and crazy. In the weeks since then, three events have exemplified each facet of that strategy. Pyongyang showed its ferocity Feb. 12, when it detonated a nuclear device underground. The country’s only significant ally, China, voted against Pyongyang in the U.N. Security Council on March 7, demonstrating North Korea’s weakness. Finally, Pyongyang announced it would suspend the armistice that ended the Korean War in 1953, implying that that war would resume and that U.S. cities would be turned into “seas of fire.” To me, that fulfills the crazy element.
My argument was that the three tenets — ferocity, weakness and insanity — form a coherent strategy. North Korea’s primary goal is regime preservation. Demonstrating ferocity — appearing to be close to being nuclear capable — makes other countries cautious. Weakness, such as being completely isolated from the world generally and from China particularly, prevents other countries from taking drastic action if they believe North Korea will soon fall. The pretense of insanity — threatening to attack the United States, for example — makes North Korea appear completely unpredictable, forcing everyone to be cautious. The three tenets work together to limit the actions of other nations.
So far, North Korea is acting well within the parameters of this strategy. It has detonated nuclear devices before. It has appeared to disgust China before, and it has threatened to suspend the cease-fire. Even more severe past actions, such as sinking a South Korean ship in 2010, were not altogether inconsistent with its strategy. As provocative as that incident was, it did not change the strategic balance in any meaningful way.
Normally North Korea has a reason for instigating such a crisis. One reason for the current provocation is that it has a new leader, Kim Jong Un. The son of former leader Kim Jong Il and the grandson of North Korea’s founder Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Un is only 30 years old, and many outside North Korea doubt his ability to lead (many inside North Korea may doubt his ability, too). One way to announce his presence with authority is to orchestrate an international crisis that draws the United States, Japan, China, Russia and South Korea into negotiations with North Korea — especially negotiations that Pyongyang can walk away from.
The North Korean regime understands the limits of its strategy and has been very sure-footed in exercising it. Moreover, despite the fact that a 30-year-old formally rules the country, the regime is a complex collection of institutions and individuals — the ruling party and the military — that presumably has the ability to shape and control the leader’s behavior.
It follows that little will change. U.S. analysts of North Korea will emphasize the potential ferocity and the need for extreme vigilance. The Chinese will understand that the North Koreans are weak and will signal, as their foreign minister did March 9, that in spite of their vote at the United Nations, they remain committed to North Korea’s survival. And most people will disregard Pyongyang’s threat to resume the Korean War.
Indeed, resuming the Korean War probably is not something that anyone really wants. But because there are some analysts who think that such a resumption is plausible, I think it is worth considering the possibility that Pyongyang does want to restart the war. It is always worth examining an analysis based on the assumption that a given framework will not hold. For the record, I think the framework will hold, but I am simply examining the following hypothetical: This time, North Korea is serious.
To assess Pyongyang’s sincerity, let’s begin with two untested assumptions. First, assume North Korea has determined that it is unable to develop a deliverable nuclear weapon within a meaningful time frame. Either there are problems with constructing the device or its missiles are unreliable. Alternatively, assume it has decided that any further development of weapons will likely lead to attacks by the United States against its nuclear facilities. In other words, assume it expects to lose its nuclear capability because it cannot move forward or because moving forward will invite attacks against nuclear facilities.
The second assumption, more likely accurate, is that North Korea has realized that the strategy it has followed since the 1990s is no longer working. The strategy has lost its effectiveness, and North Korean ferocity, weakness and insanity no longer impress anyone. Rather than generating financial and other concessions, the strategy has simply marginalized North Korea, so that apart from sanctions, there will be no talks, no frightened neighbors, no U.S. threats. Kim Jong Un would not announce himself with authority, but with a whimper.
Taken together, these assumptions constitute a threat to regime survival. Unless its neighbors bought into the three premises of its strategy, North Korea could be susceptible to covert or overt foreign involvement, which would put the regime on the defensive and reveal its weakness. For the regime, this would be a direct threat, one that would require pre-emptive action.
It would be a worst-case scenario for Pyongyang. We consider it highly unlikely. But assume North Korea deems it more likely than we do, or assume that, despite the scenario’s improbability, the consequences would be so devastating that the risk could not be borne.
It is a scenario that could take form if the North Korean nuclear threat were no longer effective in establishing the country’s ferocity. It would also take form if North Korea’s occasional and incomprehensible attacks were no longer unpredictable and thus were no longer effective in establishing the country’s insanity. In this scenario, Pyongyang would have to re-establish credibility and unpredictability by taking concrete steps.
These concrete steps would represent a dramatic departure from the framework under which North Korea has long operated. They would obviously involve demands for a cease-fire from all players. There would have to be a cease-fire before major force could be brought to bear on North Korea. Last, they would have to involve the assumption that the United States would at least take the opportunity to bomb North Korean nuclear facilities — which is why the assumptions on its nuclear capability are critical for this to work. Airstrikes against other targets in North Korea would be likely. Therefore, the key would be an action so severe that everyone would accept a rapid cease-fire and would limit counteraction against North Korea to targets that the North Koreans were prepared to sacrifice.
The obvious move by North Korea would be the one that has been historically regarded as the likeliest scenario: massive artillery fire on Seoul, the capital of South Korea. The assumption has always been that over a longer period of time, U.S. air power would devastate North Korean artillery. But Seoul would meanwhile be damaged severely, something South Korea would not tolerate. Therefore, North Korea would bet that South Korea would demand a cease-fire, thereby bringing the United States along in its demand, before U.S. airstrikes could inflict overwhelming damage on North Korea and silence its guns. This would take a few days.
Under this scenario, North Korea would be in a position to demand compensation that South Korea would be willing to pay in order to save its capital. It could rely on South Korea to restrain further retaliations by the United States, and China would be prepared to negotiate another armistice. North Korea would have re-established its credibility, redefined the terms of the North-South relationship and, perhaps having lost its dubious nuclear deterrent, gained a significant conventional deterrent that no one thought it would ever use.
I think the risks are too great for this scenario to play out. The North would have to assume that its plans were unknown by Western intelligence agencies. It would also have to assume that South Korea would rather risk severe damage to its capital as it dealt with North Korea once and for all than continue to live under the constant North Korean threat. Moreover, North Korea’s artillery could prove ineffective, and it risks entering a war it couldn’t win, resulting in total isolation.
The scenario laid out is therefore a consideration of what it might mean if the North Koreans were actually wild gamblers, rather than the careful manipulators they have been since 1991. It assumes that the new leader is able to override older and more cautious heads and that he would see this as serving both a strategic and domestic purpose. It would entail North Korea risking it all, and for that to happen, Pyongyang would have to believe that everything was already at risk. Because Pyongyang doesn’t believe that, I think this scenario is unlikely.
It is, however, a necessary exercise for an analyst to find fault with his analysis by identifying alternative assumptions that lead to very different outcomes. At Stratfor, we normally keep those in-house, but in this case it appeared useful to think out loud, as it were.
We’d welcome well-thought-out alternatives. With so many emails, we can’t promise to answer them all, but we make it a practice to read them all. (Contributor: By George Friedman for Real Clear World)
Pray that diplomatic means will be attained to subdue the thinking of the disturbed minds of the North Korean leadership. There is a strong need for this nation to understand that governments are to help their citizens. It appears that the North Korean government is irrationally focused on threatening other nations into doing its bidding. Pray that the people of this nation will embrace the love of Christ.
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18)
What if you could have a major surgery with only a short hospital stay, very little pain, low risk of infection, little blood loss, minimal scarring, and a fast recovery and return to normal daily activities?
Such a scenario is becoming increasingly possible thanks to the developing field of medical robotics and the increasing use of robots in surgical procedures. By using robots, surgeons can perform complex operations more easily and precisely, and in a less invasive way that improves results for patients.
“Robotics is an extension of laparoscopic surgery,” said Dr. Surena Matin, an associate professor in the department of urology at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Matin also is medical director of MINTOS – the Minimally Invasive New Technology in Oncologic Surgery Collaborative Group at M.D. Anderson. “The improvement over laparoscopic techniques comes in terms of improving the surgeon’s visibility and dexterity. Surgeons don’t have to remove their eyes from the scene of surgery, and they have more range of motion through the wrists of the device than through scopes. (Laparoscopy) is like operating with chopsticks compared to the dexterity of the microwrists on the robotic system.”
At least two of the most advanced surgical robotics systems are in use in the Houston area. Surgeons at Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital recently began using the da Vinci Si Surgical System robot to perform procedures in urogynecology, gynecology, oncology and general surgery. St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital has added the same system to its suite of robotics technology to perform urological and gynecological procedures, and perhaps procedures for ear nose, throat and abdominal specialties in the future.
Dr. Nina Dereska, a surgeon at Memorial Hermann Sugar Land, has been using the da Vinci robotic systems for surgeries since 2009. The system allows for more surgical options with certain patients for whom traditional surgery presents a problem.
“With robotic surgery, small mechanical arms are inserted into the patient through tiny incisions,” she explained. “Surgeons will be able to control the robotic movements, or the arms, through special hand and foot controls at a console several feet away from the operating table.” The robot translates the surgeon’s hand, wrist and finger movements at the control console into corresponding micro movements of the instrument’s tip.
In other words, the robot can be set to scale down surgeon’s movements so that a 1-inch movement on the surgeon’s finger becomes a movement of only a fraction of an inch at the tip of the robotic instrument. Similar movements also control the camera to allow the surgeon to see inside the patient’s body. The surgeon, sitting at the console, is able to continuously view the scene of surgery and perform highly precise surgical movements without nearly as much fatigue as in traditional surgical procedures, including “straight-stick” laparoscopy.
“Straight-stick surgery is hard on the body – my elbows are up in the air, my shoulders are hunched; it’s very fatiguing,” Dereska said. “Robotics surgery is much easier on the surgeon, which translates to being better for the patient.”
Surgeons at the Methodist Hospital recently became the first to use the Magellan Robotic System to treat patients with peripheral vascular disease. “This new intravascular robotic system represents a fundamental step forward in the transformation of vascular intervention,” said Dr. Alan Lumsden, chair of the department of cardiovascular surgery and medical director of the Methodist Debakey Heart & Vascular Center. “It allows us to offer less invasive endovascular options to a broader group of patients suffering from complex vascular disease.”
The system allows a surgeon to more precisely steer a catheter inside and around blood vessels. Lumsden said it can be used for any procedure involving complex catheterization and will be especially useful in lower-extremity arterial interventions and branched endografts. In addition, the technology will help reduce both the procedure time and radiation exposure.
The chief drawback of robotics in surgery is the lack of haptic feedback – the ability surgeons have to visualize in their mind what they are feeling with their hands. “We don’t have our fingerpads to feel and guide, so we have to learn with our eyes to see how the tissue reacts in order to get a ‘feel’ for it,” Matin said. “This is more of an issue for late-stage cancers where the tactile feedback plays a heavier role in determining where to cut.”
Increasingly, surgeons are being trained to use robotic systems in various specialty areas. Peter Herrera directs the Memorial Hermann Surgical Innovation and Robotics Institute in the Texas Medical Center. “The institute has trained numerous robotics surgical teams from around the country since we first opened in 2003,” he said. “We are the largest training site for robotic surgery in the nation and the only one in the southwest USA.” (Contributor: By Jill Carroll for Chron)
Give thanks to the Lord that there have been positive developments in the methods of reducing time of recovery for those who have to undergo surgical procedures. Pray for more positive, forthcoming developments to occur to help those in need, and that life will be honored and prolonged. Pray for God’s guidance in these matters of continued research.
“Humility is the fear of the LORD; its wages are riches and honor and life.” (Proverbs 22:4)
A top U.S. official called on China to investigate and stop cyber attacks, which he said pose a growing threat to the countries’ economic relationship.
Tom Donilon, President Barack Obama’s national security advisor, said the U.S. will take steps to protect its economy from cyber threats, which he said have eclipsed ordinary cybercrime and hacking.
U.S. businesses have serious concerns about the theft of confidential business information and proprietary technologies “through cyber intrusions emanating from China on an unprecedented scale,” he said.
“The international community cannot afford to tolerate such activity from any country,” said Donilon in a speech to The Asia Society in New York.
Donilon’s remarks come about three weeks after computer security vendor Mandiant released a comprehensive report that pinpointed a specific Chinese military called “Unit 61398” as running a massive hacking campaign that struck 141 organizations over the last seven years.
Mandiant’s report added more detail to long-running research from security companies and other organizations that had identified a group nicknamed the “Comment Crew” as extremely active in targeting U.S. companies and other organizations worldwide.
The report has contributed to increasing tension between the U.S. and China, which has denied that it allows state-sponsored hacking and conversely said it has seen hacking activity originating from the U.S.
The U.S. would like China to take three steps, Donilon said. First, the U.S. wants China to recognize the threat cyberattacks pose to international trade and its relationship with the U.S.
China should also take steps to “put a stop to these activities” and engage in a constructive direct dialogue “to establish acceptable norms of behavior in cyberspace,” Donilon said.
“Economies as large as the United States and China have a tremendous shared stake in ensuring that the Internet remains open, interoperable, secure, reliable and stable,” Donilon said.
In January 2010, Google said it would review whether to continue operating in China following attacks on its network that it alleged came from China. The company said attackers targeted the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists and also stole some of its intellectual property. (Contributor: By Jeremy Kirk for PC World Security)
Pray that God will grant His wisdom to our national technical leaders in how to stop cyber attacks and the continued theft of critical data from our nation by various methods (i.e. corporate, private and government).
“Theft is one of many acts that come from the heart and defile a man.” (Matthew 15:19, 20)
Chief Anne Richardson of the Rappahannock Tribe in Virginia and Kathy Cummings-Dickinson, head of the Lumbee tribes in North Carolina, donned traditional tribal clothing for their recent meeting with Israeli Energy and Water Minister Dr. Uzi Landau.
“We are here to deliver a message to residents of Israel: Stand firm and united against the threats and pressure,” said the two female chiefs. “We want to encourage Israel and the newly elected Knesset not to give in to those who try to pressure them to give up parts of the homeland. Surrender to this pressure is not a recipe for peace, but rather war. We stand beside you.”
Chief Richardson also quoted from the Book of Ruth: “We’ll go wherever you go, your people will be our people and your God will be our God.”
This was the second meeting between Landau and Chief Richardson, who is the first female leader of her tribe since 1705. During Sukkot 2009, Richardson visited Israel and presented Landau with a declaration of loyalty to the tribes of Israel.
Cummings-Dickinson presented Landau with a likeness of a known tribal icon cut from the trunk of an ancient tree, stating, “This ancient tree has strong and deep roots, like my tribe to our land, and as with your people to the land of Israel.”
The Native American delegations told their Israeli host that they intend to bring other tribes who wish to express support for Israel.
Landau thanked his guests and said: “I am aware of your strong stance and your actions on behalf of Israel, as well as on behalf of the Native American tribes in the US. …[some] are not aware that we are all in the same boat. There is a large shadow in the form of radical Islam overshadowing all Western culture. Israel stands on the front line, but all lovers of democracy and freedom must face this together.”
In recent decades there have been efforts by Islamic groups to bring Native American tribes in line with Moslem animosity for the US and Israel. (Contributor: By Yossi Aloni for Israel Today)
Offer thanks to the Lord that there are more Native American tribes honoring the nation of Israel and rejecting the cult of Islam’s attempt to usurp the move to honor Israel. Pray that as a direct result, God will bring blessing to these tribes.
“I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:3)
If your child is medically treated in the state of New York, do not count on getting any information from the hospital‒unless you have your child’s permission.
Russell S. Hepler, of Transformation 1202 Ministries, found out this sobering reality firsthand when he learned last month that parental rights are becoming a thing of the past in the Empire State.
“My 15-year-old step son dislocated his finger in a gym class accident,” Hepler informed Instant Analysis. “Since the closest hospital emergency room to where we live is located in New York State, a few miles away, it was the obvious choice for treatment. He was seen by a doctor in the E R and had the finger put back in place.”
But the dislocated finger ended up not being the most painful aspect of the experience.
“[A] few weeks later, the first bill for services arrived from the hospital,” recalled Hepler, author of the book Yes! We Can Turn America Around: A Practical Guide for Christian Political Involvement. “At first we thought it a bit strange that the bill came in his name since he is a minor and since our health insurance is through my wife’s employer and is in her name.”
Hepler’s wife soon found that one error led to another.
“When my wife examined the bill, it contained a few errors of personal information,” Hepler relayed. “My wife phoned the hospital and health insurance company to get the errors corrected before dealing with the bill so that there would be no future confusion about identity information.”
What soon entailed made the Hepler family feel like they were placed in the midst of a Twilight Zone episode.
Records … what records?
“She was informed by someone from the health insurance provider that they could not discuss the bill with her,” continued Hepler, who is a conference speaker on Christian issues. “When asked why they couldn’t possibly discuss her child’s medical bill, which her insurance would be involved in paying, she was told that according to New York State law, since her son is over the age of 12, his medical records are confidential!”
The … state, which recently legalized same-sex “marriage” has now turned things around on parents, they now need permission from their children instead of the other way around.
“He would have to sign a release form for her to have access to his records!” Hepler exclaimed. “He would also have to set up his own account online allowing her access to his records.”
Hepler never thought that this control could ever wash up on the shores of America.
“At first, we were flabbergasted,” expressed Hepler, who has been a political and issues activist over the past 25 years. “How is it possible for any state law … [would] deny the parents of a minor child the right to know about [his or her] medical records?”
He soon found out the answer to his own question.
“Yet, it seems this is now the case in New York,” Hepler finally realized to his dismay. “Apparently, New York believes that 12-year-olds are competent to manage their own medical affairs!”
In fact, the policy was so absurd that even those within the medical field agree that something’s gone wrong with the state of New York’s health.
“The woman my wife spoke to was sympathetic,” said Hepler, who presents seminars on a number of Christian issues and topics. “It was obvious she doesn’t like the law any better than we did. She relayed an account of having to discuss adult financial matters with a 12-year-old last week. She said the poor kid was totally confused and scared to death by the questions being asked.”
Trying to understand what the state of New York was doing, Hepler’s thoughts went to its disregard for the sanctity of human life, especially toward preborn children.
“As I’ve thought about this incident, it has begun to dawn on me what is going on here,” Hepler shared. “Why would New York State want to treat 12-year-olds as adults when it comes to medical records privacy? I believe the answer lies in New York’s slavish devotion to abortion.”
He asserted that the state has not just adopted a pro-abortion policy; it has begun an aggressive movement to promote its culture of death.
“We have all heard the statistics that more babies were aborted than were born alive in New York City last year,” Hepler continued. “What has happened is that at some point, the New York State legislature approved this law at the urging of the pro-abortion industry and the teachers’ unions. What the pro-abortionists wanted was the ability to take minor girls to abortion clinics without either parental consent or notification.”
To convey the seriousness of the issue at hand, Hepler gives an unfortunately not too uncommon scenario:
“Picture this: New York resident, 14-year-old [Mary], comes to the school nurse’s office in tears,” Hepler illustrates. “She fears she’s pregnant. The school nurse, Ms. Smith, takes [Mary] out of school to the local Planned Parenthood office for a pregnancy test. A PP ‘counselor’ advises [Mary] that she is indeed pregnant. [Mary] is terrified. She doesn’t want to ‘face the music’ at home with her parents. The ‘counselor’ tells [Mary] that she needn’t worry.”
Corroborating many reports about Planned Parenthood over the years, Hepler shares how the world’s largest abortion provider typically handles “crisis prevention” for teens.
“The compassionate folks at the Planned Parenthood office will ‘fix’ her problem without her parents ever knowing,” Hepler continued. “And, a government program will pay for it all. A second appointment is made for [Mary], again during school hours. Nurse Smith brings [Mary] a second time to Planned Parenthood office. The baby is aborted. [Mary] returns to school. If she has any pain, the nurse tells her to just tell her parents that she has heavy menstrual cramps to avoid any suspicion. After a few days, the whole incident is to be forgotten.”
Hepler notes that this is just the tide of the leftist agenda moving in after having already crushed traditional values with crushing waves against the preborn since 1973’s Roe v. Wade decision.
“This is the secular socialist utopia that is supposed to exist in New York,” the pro-life advocate contends. “Unwanted babies are destroyed. The abortionists get rich. The schools become surrogate parents. And, ignorant parents are completely bypassed.”
Hepler insists that many sad cases such as the one he described happen more than most Americans know ‒ or want to know.
“The sad reality is that many [mothers] die from post-abortion complications,” the Christian leader asserts. “Seldom are there follow-up health checks by abortion clinics.”
“No one takes responsibility for the botched abortion,” Hepler argues. “…Politicians protect the abortion industry ‒ in Pennsylvania right now, a Philadelphia abortion doctor is on trial for murdering as many as eight babies who survived his botched abortions.”
According to Hepler, damaged and terminated lives are just a part of business-as-usual in the abortion industry.
“No one is there to care for … [mothers] who suffer life-long psychological damage for the destruction of their child,” adds Hepler. “No one is there to stop the many [mothers] who will commit suicide on what would have been their babies due dates.”
Parental notification and consent are a thing of the past in New York State, says Hepler.
“Parents are often the last to know because the law has made the school system their enemies instead of their advocates,” the conservative activist notes.
“The insurance industry has complied with the laws in order to do business in states like New York. The New York politicians are happy because they will keep getting campaign contributions and possibly kick-backs from their abortion industry masters.”
Hepler notes that little regard is given to those who devastated by the Left’s war on the preborn.
“Sadly, it is families that are suffering from this obscene law,” Hepler reminds. “It is thousands of unborn children who are the murder victims here. And, it is the young girls who will forever be scarred by this ‘enlightened’ society.”
The concerned parent says that his stepson’s injury was a small price to pay to shine the light on the dark practices taking place in New York State that are fueled by the abortion industry.
“I’m truly sorry my step son had to suffer the finger dislocation, [b]ut, perhaps his suffering will be a catalyst to something good happening,” Hepler expressed.
“This incident has reminded us, and anyone reading this, just how insane the social engineers in New York ‒ and sadly other states as well ‒ have become.”
He urges parents to not take a backseat to while the government drives away with their rights ‒ and with their children.
“It is time for parents everywhere to re-assert our God-given rights to know what is happening in the lives of our children,” Hepler exhorts. “Age 12 is not ‘adult’ by any broad definition of the word. We must change the laws to protect our children. We must remove any corrupt, greedy, … politician that would support and advance any of these kinds of laws.”
Hepler says there are dire consequences to remaining silent. (Contributor: By Michael F. Haverluck for One News Now)
Pray that the leaders of New York, and any other state that does not honor the rights of parents to train up their children, will adopt the truth that parents have a natural, God-given authority to govern the affairs of their own children based upon the laws of God and righteous legislation.
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)
CONGRESSIONAL PRAYER CAUCUS CURRENT ISSUES
Opposing hostility towards faith in the Air Force – Congressman Randy Forbes joined Congressman Diane Black and Congressman Todd Akin in sending a letter signed by 66 Members of Congress urging Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to investigate a pattern of hostility towards faith in the United States Air Force. Over the last year, the Air Force has repeatedly capitulated to pressure from outside groups to remove religious symbols and references to faith from the service. The letter calls on Secretary Panetta to issue clear Department of Defense policy guidance, consistent with our Constitution, to preserve the place of religious expression in the military at large.
Urging the President to preserve religious hiring rights – Congressman Randy Forbes and Congressman Mike McIntyre sent a letter to President Obama, urging him to maintain current policies that allow faith-based organizations that consider religious criteria in their employment decisions to perform contract work for the federal government.
Supporting legislative prayer at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit – Thirteen Members of the House of Representatives have joined the Family Research Council (FRC) in submitting an amicus curiae brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in support of legislative prayer. The Lakeland City Commission in Florida had a policy of inviting clergy to offer invocations at the beginning of its meetings. The Atheists of Florida sued, arguing that because most of the prayers were offered by Christian clergy, the prayers were “too sectarian” and thus violated the Establishment Clause. The brief submitted by the Members argues that courts do not have the jurisdiction to delve into the inner workings of a deliberative body’s meetings because of the constitutional separation of powers between the branches of government.
Supporting the freedom of school boards to open meeting with prayer – Members of the Prayer Caucus are supporting a resolution introduced by Congressman Tim Walberg that supports the freedom of school boards to open meetings with prayer. H.Res.662 expresses the sense of the House of Representatives that school boards are deliberative bodies similar to city and county councils and state legislatures, and should be treated as such for purposes of analyzing the constitutionality of their prayer policies.
Working to protect the symbols and traditions of Christmas – Members of the Prayer Caucus are supporting H.Res.489, introduced by Congressman Doug Lamborn, which expresses the sense of the House of Representatives that the symbols and traditions of Christmas should be protected for use by those that celebrate Christmas. Each year during the Christmas season, there are increasing efforts to remove religious symbols and references from the holiday. H.Res.489 emphasizes that the First Amendment does not require bans on religious references to Christmas, and supports the use of these symbols by those who celebrate Christmas.
Urging Vanderbilt University to protect religious student groups – In October of 2011, Congressman Randy Forbes led 22 Members of Congress in sending a letter to Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos of Vanderbilt University, urging him to ensure that the school’s nondiscrimination policy was not being interpreted in a manner that discriminated against religious student groups. Several religious student organizations at Vanderbilt, including the Christian Legal Society and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, were placed on “provisional status” for requiring their student leaders to share the groups’ religious beliefs. Thirty-five Members then sent another letter in May of 2012, expressing continuing concern that the school’s nondiscrimination policy requires all student groups to open leadership positions to all students, yet exempts fraternities and sororities from the requirement while refusing to exempt religious student groups.
Fighting attempts to remove “Under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance – Members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus lead in sending a letter to NBC, expressing concern over the network’s omissions of “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance twice in a video montage aired during coverage of the U.S. Open. In response to the letter sent by 108 Members of Congress, the network reprimanded the employees responsible for the omissions and implemented safeguards to prevent similar instances in the future.
Opposing efforts to remove a memorial cross honoring military veterans – In January of 2011, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that a cross displayed at the Mount Soledad Veterans Memorial in San Diego, California was unconstitutional. Members of the Prayer Caucus signed on to an amicus curiae brief submitted to the Ninth Circuit asking the full court to reconsider the case, and asserting that the cross’s presence at the memorial is constitutional. After the Ninth Circuit declined to reconsider the case, Members joined the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) in submitting an amicus curiae brief to the Supreme Court of the United States, asking the Court to take up the case and reverse the Ninth Circuit’s decision. In June of 2012, the Supreme Court announced that it would not review the case; however, Justice Alito issued a statement saying the appeal may have been premature and the Court may reconsider the case after the district court issues a final order on the fate of the memorial.
Urging religious freedom protections for service members – The repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in the military raised concerns that service members whose consciences or religious beliefs conflicted with homosexual behavior would face discrimination and disapproval. Members of the Prayer Caucus sent a letter to President Obama, urging that specific religious freedom and conscience protections be adopted during implementation of the repeal to formally assure all Americans that our citizens need not leave their faith at home when they volunteer to serve.
Affirming America’s rich spiritual heritage – Co-chairmen of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, Congressman Forbes and Congressman McIntyre, reintroduced legislation to recognize our nation’s religious history. H.Res.253, America’s Spiritual Heritage Resolution, affirms the rich spiritual and diverse religious history of our nation’s founding and subsequent history, and designates the first week in May as America’s Spiritual Heritage Week.
Working to decrease frivolous lawsuits challenging public expressions of religion – Members of the Prayer Caucus are supporting H.R.2023, introduced by Congressman Dan Burton, which would ensure that the legal system is not used to extort money from state and local governments through frivolous lawsuits against public expressions of religion. H.R. 2023 would not prevent parties from filing lawsuits alleging Establishment Clause violations, but it would require each side to pay its own attorneys’ fees. The bill would limit the remedies available to the suing party, so the only relief available would be that the state or local government would be required to stop its public expression of religion, if the court deems it unconstitutional. The result would be a decrease in frivolous lawsuits and the assurance that state and local governments are not intimidated into halting constitutional public expressions of religion.
Recognizing the significant impact of the Ten Commandments on America’s development – Members of the Prayer Caucus are supporting H.Res.211, introduced by Congressman Louie Gohmert, which recognizes the significant contribution that the Ten Commandments have made in shaping America’s principles, institutions, and national character. The bill supports designating the first weekend in May as “Ten Commandments Weekend.” (Contributor: Congressional Prayer Caucus)