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Kresta in the Afternoon – May 14, 2015

Talking about the “Things That Matter Most” on May 14, 2015

4:00 – Transhumanism: Would you Agree to an Upgrade of your Brain or Body?

There’s a worrisome trend in some areas of medicine. Scientists are pushing the envelope with genetics, nanotechnology and related fields. While there is nothing inherently wrong with using new technologies to improve our health, some scientists are taking the issue to the point where the line between humans and non-human artificial intelligence is blurred. We discuss the state of these sciences with Dr. Eugene Gan.

4:40 – Kresta Comments: Humanity 3.0

5:00 – Kresta Comments: Obama Lectures Christians Again: Pay More Attention to Poverty than Abortion


5:20 – What does the Pew Poll mean for Catholics? 
We continue our discussion on the Pew research poll that shows a sharp decline in American Christians. Our guest is Bishop James Conley of the Diocese of Lincoln.  


ABC’s ‘The Real O’Neals’ Tackles Catholicism


by Kate O’Hare via CatholicVote.org

… through the lens of gay activist and ex-Catholic Dan Savage, who is an executive producer on this midseason comedy based on his life.

It’s hard to describe what goes on in it, except to say that it’s a savage, if you will, caricature of a Catholic family and the Faith, where the parents are divorcing, one son has anorexia, the daughter runs a fake charity and the son pictured in the middle is gay. Oh, and there’s a Virgin Mary statue over the toilet. View a sneak peak here:

At the ABC new-season presentation for advertisers in New York City today, Tuesday, May 12, ABC entertainment chief Paul Lee said the show might be “too real for me” since “I’m married to an Irish Catholic.” He wants to pair it on Tuesdays at midseason with “Fresh Off the Boat.”

By the way, each year, latenight host Jimmy Kimmel comes out at the presentation and comedically savages his own network, and today was no exception. At the end of his monologue, Kimmel brought out his adorable 10-month-old daughter, Jane. He said he thought she might be pooping, and then remarked:

“We could sell that poop to them. They buy that kind of thing.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Click here to give ABC feedback.

Transhumanism: Would You Agree to an Upgrade of Your Brain and Body?

How to talk about transhumanism, H+ (human plus), and post humanism in the light of faith.

topic (2)

by Eugene Gan via Aleteia.org

We’re falling down a rabbit hole, and we don’t seem to care about the dangers rushing up at us. We’re talking about transhumanism, which at its most basic, is the idea that the human condition can be fundamentally improved through the use of technology (transhumanists want us to become posthumans, but in order to project a more attractive aura to the general public, have chosen the term “human+” or “H+” instead).

Nothing seemingly wrong with that definition, but listen to the way the current rhetoric on transhumanism, H+, and posthumanism takes great pride in extolling human accomplishments: Technology can guide us to a new era. The fields of robotics, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, bionics, and genetics, to name a few, seem to be converging towards the goal of transcending human limitations. We can be better than what nature has done. We can proactively remake ourselves and steer our own evolution. Until recently, we’ve been dramatically reshaping the world around us, but we ourselves are now the objects of our own conscious design. If we’re not reshaping ourselves, then we’ll be overtaken by non-biologicalartificial intelligences. We are at the end of our definition of a human being. Transhumanism will define the new age of an evolved species that will leave mankind behind as a fossil in human history. Biops, the British Institute of Posthuman Studies asserts:

“The fact is, we remain shackled by our primitive Darwinian brains. Humanity for whatever progress we have made, is the result of an unguided, natural, 3.8 billion-year-long experiment of chemistry….[we must] fundamentally revolutionize what it means to be human by way of technological advancements.” The transhumanist FAQ, created and compiled by transhumanists and whose goal is to “provide a reliable source of information about transhumanism” provides insight into their idea of “religion”: “Some of the prospects that used to be the exclusive thunder of the religious institutions, such as very long lifespan, unfading bliss, and godlike intelligence, are being discussed by transhumanists as hypothetical future engineering achievements.”

This comment on the transhumanist site SingularityHUB resonates the public fascination: “Who doesn’t want to be smarter, prettier, healthier? Who doesn’t want to have wings to fly through the air, or gills to breathe under water? Are we stuck just being land dwellers? We spend most of our lives OBTAINING and MAINTAINING health, beauty, intelligence, etc., when we could be spending all this time and money obtaining and maintaining loving relationships with other people (transhumanists!) and going on adventures out to space exploring the universe, rather than stuck at home watching crap movies from Hollywood, going to school half our lives and drowning in debt because of it, and then just paying bills and taxes till you die. That’s no life, that’s SLAVERY.”

Ray Kurzweil, author of the widely recognized pivotal text in the transhumanist ideology The Singularity Is Near, and his outspoken adherents have grand visions for humanity, but the arguments for various transhumanist technologies often confuse the notion of morality. Genetic engineering, a key component in transhumanist thought, is “one of the most moral things we can do,” says Max More, self-proclaimed founder of the modern transhumanist movement. I can and so I should because I want to. My body, my choice.It’s all about me and my wants. These are the attitudes often presented.
If we can mix the genes of animals with the genes of human beings, perhaps with the initial charitable motivation to create organs for transplants, then as the transhumanists propose, we can also be designing custom human-animal hybrids: humans with wings to fly or humans with centaur-like legs, the imagination reels at the permutations, but far from utopic, this free-for-all menagerie demonstrates a failure to appreciate what it means to be human. And it can only get worse if technologically “enhanced” humans see themselves as superior to non-technologically altered human beings. Auschwitz all over again?

If we can design our own bodies, then what’s to stop the genetic design of babies? If this attitude continues, we won’t simply be pro-life. We’ll need to be pro-human! What’s to stop transhumanist artists from selling custom-made genetic designs of bodies that scintillate and mutate? Would you trade-in your current body for a Versaci-inspired one? How will the rich who can afford genetic alterations view the naturals? How will education change with the introduction of genetically enhanced students? Would individuals be compelled to be “enhanced?” Many more questions can certainly be raised. What are your concerns? Post them below.

Super-longevity is another key drive of transhumanism. But let’s be clear: we will not be able to conquer death. We may extend our lifespans, but death is inevitable. Transhumanists reject death as a given and propose that science and technology can one day overcome death. (Are these also the folks who hop around howling that the world is over-populated?) Some even assert that the Roman Catholic Church opposes the very notion of life extensions. This is clearly a myth that stems from another myopic myth that you’re either religious or scientifically minded, but not both. If the Roman Catholic Church were indeed so opposed to extending life, it would want people to die early and concurrently oppose doctors curing diseases and illnesses. Recall that the founder of genetics, Gregor Mendel, was a Catholic priest. By the same token, it would not bother to set up the numerous Catholic hospitals and other related organizations throughout the world which research and promote health and life. The Catholic Church did not proclaim your eye-glasses evil because it is a technology that enhances your eyesight, nor a paraplegic’s use of a prosthetic limb as unfaithful when one uses it for mobility.

Caritas in Veritate asserts: “Technology is highly attractive because it draws us out of our physical limitations and broadens our horizon. But human freedom is authentic only when it responds to the fascination of technology with decisions that are the fruit of moral responsibility (article 70).” The Catechism of the Catholic Church also affirms that “morality requires respect for the life of the body, it does not make it an absolute value. It rejects a neo-pagan notion that tends to promote the cult of the body, to sacrifice everything for it’s sake, to idolize physical perfection” (2289).

If we speak of using technology used to promote health and life, transhumanism and Christianity share a common bond. Jesus Christ himself healed many, not to mention raising Lazarus from the dead, effectively extending Lazarus’ life. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? (1 Corinthians 15:55)? St. Paul can compellingly affirm that because Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection opens the door to heaven for us. Death to earthly life can lead to new life in heaven with Our Lord. Jesus has taught us – and Mother Church reminds us – that death is not the ultimate evil. Rather, the ultimate evil is the loss of heaven, of eternal loving intimacy with God, for What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? (Mark 8:36). The obsession with the search for the fountain of youth lies in the fear of death which is seen as a termination of consciousness, a fear which in turn lies in the rejection of God’s call to live in love with Him. This rejection of God is rooted in pride which manifests itself in an obsessive desire to be gods, an attachment to what will ultimately harm us i.e., sin, and an unwillingness to change our attitudes and behaviors. It’s also often accompanied by a denial of our fallen condition, and a blindness to the ultimate joy that we are called to.

Historically, we’ve done very poorly when seeking the power of a god without responsibility, love, justice, and mercy. The tempter’s words to Adam and Eve still reverberate in our hearts: don’t you want to be like gods? The more things change, the more they stay the same.

It’s also a contradiction in terms to claim that humanity can evolve into God or gods. The fact is that God is God because, among many other qualities, God was, is, and will always be God. There is no such thing as “evolve” when we speak of God because God is already “I AM”. God is infinite and it makes no sense to speak of something more than infinite. One would need to be self-causing and self-existing to even approach “god-hood”. Humanity clearly doesn’t come close to this definition, nor by their own definition of evolution, ever will. And just so that we’re clear too: God isn’t somehow “afraid” that we’ll be “gods” like Him. He did not strike Nimrod and the builders with confused speech because they wanted to build the tower that would reach heaven, but as a lesson in pride. In fact, God loves us so much, He wants us to be like Him – for our own good and joy (Matthew 5:48).

The problem with transhumanism (H+, and posthumanism) isn’t so much the technology itself, as it is the attitude that many transhumanists have. The attitudes within transhumanism seem to boil down to self-guided salvation: a narcissism coupled with the rejection of God. But without God, man fails to understand himself. “Reason without faith is doomed to flounder in an illusion of its own omnipotence (Caritas in Veritate, article 74).” Worse still, when one rejects God’s existence, it easily leads to rejecting the notion of a human nature created by God. This in turn says that there is no limit to dehumanization in our desire to engineer evolution and design the “perfect” human. Without God, there can be no logical consensus as to what perfection means.

In a sense, Catholics are transhumanists when we allow God’s grace to transform us into images of Christ. Yet, unlike some technologies, grace does not destroy human nature, but perfects it. The completion of that process of transformation of a life of grace is perfected in heaven. If transhumanists genuinely want to be like God and have everlasting life, then they really ought to come experience the love and joy that Jesus Christ offers to all, so that they can truly strive to live as sons and daughters of God (1 John 1:3), be like Jesus Christ, true man and true God, and enjoy life everlasting with Him.

Dr. Eugene Gan is faculty associate of the Veritas Center and Professor of Interactive Media, Communications, and Fine Art at Franciscan University of Steubenville in the United States. His book, Infinite Bandwidth: Encountering Christ in the Media is grounded in Scripture and magisterial documents, and is a handbook and practical guide for understanding and engaging media in meaningful and healthy ways in daily life.

Laramie passes measure to protect gays, lesbians


by Ben Neary via AP.org

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — The Laramie City Council on Wednesday approved a local anti-discrimination ordinance in the college town where Matthew Shepard’s death triggered nationwide sympathy and brought a re-examination of attitudes toward gays 17 years ago.

The council voted 7-2 in favor of the measure that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, employment and access to public facilities such as restaurants.

Local organizers focused their efforts on Laramie after the Legislature repeatedly rejected anti-discrimination bills, most recently early this year. The Laramie Nondiscrimination Task Force presented a draft ordinance to the City Council last summer.

Jeran Artery, head of the group Wyoming Equality which has lobbied for the anti-discrimination measures at the state Legislature, said he was thrilled with the council vote.

“What a day for Wyoming, and what a day for the city that became synonymous with Matthew Shepard’s murder to now step up and do this right thing,” Artery said. “And I would really encourage other communities across the state to follow Laramie’s lead.”

Shepard, a gay university student, was murdered in Laramie in 1998, and his death became a rallying point in the gay rights movement. Congress has passed hate crimes legislation bearing his name.

Judy Shepard, Matt Shepard’s mother, is active in a Denver-based foundation that bears her son’s name and focuses on equality issues.

“I’m thrilled that Laramie’s doing it, at the same time sort of saddened that the state of Wyoming can’t see fit to do that as well,” Shepard told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Wednesday before the council vote from Washington, D.C. “Maybe the rest of Wyoming will understand this is about fellow human beings and not something that’s other than what they are.”

Laramie Mayor Dave Paulekas spoke in favor of the amendment.

“To me, this is about treating people fairly, it’s about treating people the way I would want to be treated, the way we all expect to be treated,” Paulekas said before the vote. “And it’s nothing more than that, in my mind.”

Paulekas said that if Laramie wants to see economic development, high-tech firms are going to look at how the city treats its citizens.

Councilors Joe Vitale and Bryan Shuster cast the only no-votes against the ordinance. Both said they were concerned that the ordinance would trample on city residents’ religious freedoms.

“Enactment of this ordinance will result in discrimination complaints filed against business owners who are simply trying to run their business consistent with their faith,” Vitale said. The council rejected his suggestion that it postpone action on the matter until next year to give the U.S. Supreme Court and the Wyoming Legislature more time to act on the issue.

Judy Shepard said some people are still under the misconception that what happened to her son is typical of what happens in Wyoming.

“But I feel like if Wyoming had done more to open the door to acceptance, that kind of reputation would have disappeared very quickly,” said Shepard, herself a Wyoming resident. “Instead of taking advantage of the moment, they just sort of turned around and ran.”

Gov. Matt Mead last year went to court to defend Wyoming’s gay marriage ban before federal court rulings from other states blocked the state from further action.

And a handful of Wyoming lawmakers this spring filed a brief urging the nation’s highest court to reject same-sex marriage on the grounds that forcing states to accept it would violate other citizens’ free-speech rights.

Rep. Kendell Kroeker, R-Evansville, voted against the anti-discrimination bill this year and was among those who endorsed the U.S. Supreme Court brief.

“I suppose it’s their right as a city,” Kroeker said of Laramie’s proposal. But he noted such measures grant special privileges to one group over another — an idea he doesn’t support.

Asked about his thoughts on such an ordinance passing in the city where Shepard was killed, Kroeker said: “The Matt Shepard case was a tragedy, but I don’t see how an anti-discrimination ordinance would have stopped somebody from committing that heinous crime.”

View our video on the Matthew Shepard story here:

Decline in American Catholics Shatters Illusions, Makes Clear Need for a New Generation of Saints

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by Sherry Weddell via Aleteia.org

I know that many of us have had the wind knocked out of our sails a bit by the fairly grim news about the state of American Catholicism revealed in the Pew Forum’s 2014 US Religious Study which was made public yesterday. Nothing that the Pew researchers found came as any surprise as they are what I’ve been predicting for years. But it is different to see it in black and white.

That there are 47 million former adult Christians in the US and 67% are former Catholics. That only 59% of the many millions who were raised Catholic still retain the identity. That 6.5 Americans leave the Catholic Church for every one who enters.

All we have lost are the remnants of our illusions and ecclesial hubris.  This is necessary, though,  because in our generation, cultural Catholicism is dead as a retention strategy. In the postmodern West, God has no grandchildren. He has billions of sons and daughters, but no grandchildren.

The great Catholic revival and the generation of saints in early 17th-century France emerged from circumstances vastly grimmer than our own. Eight religious civil wars in 32 years. Twenty percent of the population of Paris died in a religiously fueled siege. Finally, two generations after Trent, the exhausted survivors looked about them and begin to respond apostolically – collaborating across the generations and categories like bishop, priest, lay man or lay woman.

It was God’s Providence that the greatest figure of the great “generation of saints” was St. Francis de Sales, whose gentleness, and trust in God was proverbial. It was due to his leadership and influence that while the generation that lived through the wars was scarred for life, the next generation turned their energies to heroic systematic charity, evangelization, missionary work, Catholic education and creating the seminary system to form a new kind of clergy. They literally re-invented Catholic life, practice, and spirituality in an evangelical mode.

Not in the image of the pre-Reformation Church, which was two generations gone, and not primarily in reaction to the terrible losses of the past but by really engaging the needs of their time – the early 17th century – out of love and in the power of the Holy Spirit. “Let us see what love will do” was St. Francis’ motto. Heroic love birthed a vast spectrum of creativity, renewal, and transformation whose influence lasted 150 years in France and gave birth to most of the institutions that 1950’s Western Catholics regarded as immemorial and immutable.

Thanks be to God, a new and absolutely crucial American  – and increasingly global – conversation on the necessity of calling the already baptized to intentional discipleship has already begun.  It is a wonderful thing to be clear about our situation. It is a wonderful thing to be forced to go beyond ecclesial clichés, exhausted insider debates, and instant remedies. Now is the time to respond in intense communal prayer. Now is the time to respond: “Here I am, Lord. Send me.”

The great 19th-century American evangelist, Dwight. L. Moody was fond of saying that “The world has not yet seen what God will do through one man or woman wholly committed to him.” And he would always add, “By the grace of God, I will be that man.” What God has done in and through his Church before, he can easily do again. He is simply looking for men and women who will say “yes” with their whole beings.

What are you asking God for in light of this knowledge of our true situation? What are you believing God for? Do you have a sense of how God is calling you to respond to the needs of our time in your own area of apostolic responsibility?

Sherry Weddell is Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Catherine of Siena Institute and author of Forming Intentional Disciples: The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus.

Cardinal Dolan to US Government: Use Leverage to Protect Christians, Not Abortion

Archbishop echoes brother bishops from Middle East who wonder where Obama’s priorities are.



by John Burger via Aleteia.com

When it comes to protecting Christians in the Middle East who are vulnerable to extreme persecution, the United States government has its priorities all wrong, said Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York. Part of the reason may be that government officials are not well-schooled in the nature of the persecution, but even more so, they seem to be focusing on the promotion of “reproductive rights” and “gay rights” almost to the exclusion of other issues.

Cardinal Dolan is also president of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, which conducts humanitarian work in the Middle East, and past president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. He said that bishops in countries where Christians have been under fire, such as Syria and Iraq, express to him a sense of wonder that the US government makes foreign aid and foreign investment contingent on a nation’s willingness to assure the legality of abortion or the redefinition of marriage and not upon the protection of religious minorities.

“They’ll say, ‘We need to see the American government put the same teeth in their investment, in their diplomacy, in their trade negotiations, in their political negotiations as they do in some of these other issues. And I think they’re right,” the cardinal said.

The archbishop of New York made his remarks at a conference on the plight of Christians of the Middle East who are threatened by the advance of the Islamic State group and the spread of radical Islam. The May 7 forum was sponsored by the Hudson Institute, a Washington, DC, think tank. Nina Shea, a veteran human rights lawyer who heads the institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, hosted the daylong conference, which sought solutions for the problem of the rise of radical, politicized Islam and its threat of snuffing out an already dwindling Christian presence in the Holy Land and the greater region.

Speakers and audience members, who gathered at the Peninsula Hotel in Manhattan, bandied about ideas such as inserting the issue into the 2016 US presidential race, organizing a march on Washington and arming Christian militias. Many agreed that the persecution of mideast Christians, even in the wake of the Islamic State’s dramatic takeover last June of Iraq’s second largest city and its beheading of groups of Christians, is not in the center of American’s consciousness.

USA Today columnist Kirsten Powers, speaking near the end of the conference, said that it wasn’t hard to come up with solutions, but “It’s not going to make a difference until you get the American people behind it. They really don’t see that there’s a genocide going on.”

Cardinal Dolan said he finds that kind of attitude among elected officals that he meets with.

“They seem, when I speak to them, to be ignorant of the situation. I don’t know if they realize it’s that bad. I don’t think they realize the precision of the target, namely, Christians. They tend to group all of the atrocities they hear about in so many of these suffering societies together. They don’t realize we’re talking about a well-oiled, well-coordinated program of precise hatred and persecution of Christians,” he said. “Our brother bishops, especially in the Mideast and Africa, feel let down by us, the religious community in the United States. They really feel let down by the American government.”

The cardinal, as well as other panelists, held up the example of Jewish activists who have over the years been vocal on behalf of Jewish causes. Powers reported that a fellow journalist, a Jew, expressed surprise that Christians are not protesting  outside the White House 24/7.

“It’s mind-boggling to them that Christians aren’t demonstrating, complaining,” said Powers, who was married to an ethnic Copt. “It’s clear the president isn’t going to do something about it unless there’s a massive outcry. It’s clearly not something he’s going to engage on his own.”

Cardinal Dolan asked listeners to recall the waning days of the Soviet Union, when President Ronald Reagan went to negotiate with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

“Can you remember how effective the religious community was in the presidency of Ronald Reagan?” the cardinal said. “He had in his pocket a list of Christian and Jewish prisoners who were being held in Russia, and any progress was contingent upon those people being released. We need that same kind of precise, personal intervention by leadership in our government and leadership in business—the millions if not billions of dollars that are being invested by committed Catholics in countries where there is outright persecution of Christians. This is leverage that we have and leverage we can tap.”

But Walter Russell Mead, a Hudson Institute fellow who also teaches at Yale and Bard College, dissented from the general assumption of the day that the Islamic State is primarily out to get Christians.

“The core problem today is not the Muslim-Christian violence so much as the sectarian Sunni-Shia war among Muslims, which is creating enormous insecurity, but also because Iran is perceived at the moment to be winning this competition and is also seen to be moving toward a breakthrough with the United States that will end the sanctions and further increase its ability to dominate the region,” said Mead, who writes a popular blog at the website of the American Interest. “So you are starting to see Sunnis, who are demographically the majority, getting a kind of garrison identity thinking. You find, for example, people—not the governments—in Saudi Arabia or other Gulf states—wealthy, well-connected people with a certain credibility—starting to look at groups like ISIS as important ground troops in the coming struggle with Iran. ‘At least those people fight’ is the thinking people have. So some of the money flow that had been broken after 9/11 has begun to come together.”

Mead, who prefaced his remarks with a history of Christian-Muslim relations in the Middle East, suggested that Christians in the region are left with a stark choice: “‘fort up or flee’ are the two strategies that have worked in the past,” he said. “Peacefully staying and wishing for better days generally has not worked…. So make a decision whether you are able to arm yourself.”

That would mean more than just getting weapons and training people to use them. “It’s having a sort of organization that can develop and carry out policy, make and keep treaties and have a strategy that people follow,” he said. It involves becoming a state, “even if it’s not diplomatically recognized. … Then you have a pretty decent shot at defending yourself.”

In response to a question about whether Israel will attack Iran, which is thought by some to be building a nuclear weapon, Mead admitted that he cannot predict what will happen. But he spoke of what, in his mind, is an even greater threat to Israel.

“Not just Israel but countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, are not prepared to sit there passively while Iran reaches for a kind of regional domination,” Mead offered. “One big failure that the US and others in the West made was failing to understand that if you want to go for nuclear negotiations with Iran…you needed a strong Syria policy as the counterpart to an effective negotiation that, in trying to get control of Syria, or keep Assad in control of Syria, Iran is essentially trying to build a ‘Shia crescent’—Iraq, Syria, Lebanon in this arc—and this is a deadly threat to Israel. In some ways it’s a deadlier threat than a nuclear weapon because, unless a true madman comes in, Israel can deter Iran through nuclear weapons. This is an existential threat to the Sunni world as it understands things, as well as to Israel. I don’t think they’re going to just sit back. If we had done something in Syria, I doubt you would have seen the rise of ISIS in the way we have. I think you would not have seen some of the stresses on the Christian community, both in Syria and Iraq. We would really have a negotiation with Iran; at that point it would have lost its grip on Syria. Is it willing to come to terms as one member of that region or not? That could have been a very useful negotiation and a better legacy for the president than the one he’s likely to have.”

Harlem Globetrotters Meet With Pope Francis


A note from Al:

It’s nice to know that the Pope is a more thrilling meet and greet than presidents and premiers. How about sheikhs? Probably. A QUESTION? As a kid I loved the Harlem Globetrotters. Meadowlark Lemon was the name I best remember. Someone told me that Meadowlark was a Catholic. Huh? I’ve never thought that was true but would love to think so. Has anyone else ever been told or learned that Meadowlark Lemon was a Catholic? Make my day. – Al Kresta


via NewYork.CBSLocal.com

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Pope Francis got a chance to try out some new moves courtesy of the Harlem Globetrotters.

The team met with the pope Wednesday during his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square.

They presented the pope with a framed #90 jersey with the words “Pope Francis” on the back.

They also took some selfies with the crowd and tried to teach the pope a trick or two with the basketball, including spinning it on his finger.

“We have been able to do a lot of things in our lives and meeting the pope is probably at the top of that list right now,” Herbert “Flight Time” Lang said. “I’ve met the president twice and we have all met a bunch of famous people, but I have to say today was the most nervous I’ve been in long time. It was a good excitement though.”

The Globetrotters are currently on a tour of Italy.

The Great Assisted Suicide Political Con

A note from Al:

Killing people is such a neat way to stop suffering, crime, ugliness, mental illness and, as tyrants throughout history have found, it’s pretty darn effective at stopping political opposition. America still doesn’t execute political opponents but Oregon is pioneering how to kill the sufferer in order to remedy suffering. Soon parents will be able to test for ugliness and mental defect in children and the death penalty is still one way to kill to end crime. What a wonderful world free of pain, ugliness, opposition, low IQs, and violent criminals. I don’t think America will ever make killing of political opponents legal. I’m fairly certain we will get around to the others. – Al Kresta


by Wesley J. Smith via NationalReview.com

Once a society accepts killing as an answer to human suffering, the caste of killables never stops expanding. Thus, in the Netherlands and Belgium, doctors not only euthanize the terminally ill, but also the elderly “tired of life,” the disabled, and the mentally ill.

American advocates respond to these facts on the ground–not a slippery slope argument–by arguing that we are different in the USA. After all, they note, those things are not happening in Oregon.

To which I always append the word, “yet.”

You see, the American euthanasia movement is running a well thought out political con game.

Compassion and Choices and other assisted suicide advocacy groups are involved in the great majority of Oregon assisted suicides. Since the Oregon oversight system relies almost wholly on doctor self-reporting, we only see what they want us to see. And one thing they don’t want us to see–or to be put into law for now–is an expansion of killable categories. That would give away the game.

But, as the old saying goes, loose lips sink ships. One assisted suicide advocate almost blew this cover in an interview about an unsuccessful Oregon proposal to expand eligibility for legal assisted suicide in Oregon to Alzheimer’s patients. Note why an advocate opposed the proposal. From the Oregonian story:

The national Death with Dignity advocacy group joined the opposition. Steve Telfer, president of the board of the Portland-based Death with Dignity National Center, which helped create the original law, said politicians in Oregon shouldn’t try to expand the law because that effort could jeopardize attempts to introduce physician-assisted suicide to other states.

In other words, these suicide advocates don’t oppose expanding the law beyond the current limitations for principled reasons. Rather, restraint is a political tactic, a necessary temporary expedient deemed necessary to gain the trust of a very wary public.

When and if assisted suicide is legalized in more states, bet on the killable caste expanding here just as it has overseas. It’s the logical consequence of the euthanasia premise–and in their heart of hearts, the breadth of the medicalized killing license most assisted suicide advocates are really after.

House to Vote on 20-Week Abortion Limit Next Week

A note from Al:

It’s been forty two years since Roe but we are continuing to win hearts and minds on the pro-life front. While Planned Parenthood v Casey made it more difficult to dismantle Roe, we have been free to work on restrictions that help mothers decide to honor the life in their womb. Abortions clinics are fewer. Abortion is recognized by most Americans as, at best, a necessary evil but a tragedy not a victory. Abortion is “mean” according one bumper sticker I saw. – Al Kresta


by Michael Warren via WeeklyStandard.com


State Legislatures Put Up Flurry of Roadblocks to Abortion

The cult of Moloch is getting angry. – Al Kresta



by Frances Robles via NYTimes.com

MIAMI — Oklahoma’s governor this week approved a law extending to 72 hours the mandatory waiting period before a woman can have an abortion. Here in Florida, lawmakers enacted a 24-hour waiting period that requires two separate appointments — one for an ultrasound and information about fetal development and another for the actual procedure.

These are just two laws in a surge of bills passed by Republican-controlled state legislatures this year that make it harder for women to have abortions.

Arkansas led the nation with six new abortion-related laws, including one requiring minors to present a notarized consent from a parent and another saying that a woman more than 20 weeks along must be told that her fetus can feel pain.

Arkansas, along with Arizona, also passed the most novel requirement, requiring doctors to tell patients that drug-induced abortions can be reversed, an assertion that many doctors say is wrong.

The 37 new rules in 11 states are part of a strategy accelerated by abortion opponents in 2011, when provisions restricting abortion access began sweeping state legislatures. More than 200 such laws have passed in the last four years, with Louisiana, Mississippi, Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas leading the charge, according to Americans United for Life, an anti-abortion legal group. This year, more than 300 regulations were proposed in 45 states.

And they keep coming: On Thursday, a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks was introduced in Wisconsin, where lawmakers proposed a $10,000 fine or 42-month prison sentence for physicians who break the law.

These laws have had a profound effect in states like Texas, where the number of abortion clinics dropped by half because of strict regulations governing their operation.

Advocates of legislation proposed this year say the restrictions are aimed at safeguarding the health of women. Clinics and mainstream medical groups, however, say most of these rules do not improve patient safety and are thinly disguised efforts to discourage women from having abortions and to make them more expensive, which has a disproportionate effect on the poor.

“State legislatures are restricting how doctors provide medical care related to abortion, where doctors can provide that care, what doctors can say to patients when they provide that care and more,” said Suzanne B. Goldberg, the director of Columbia Law School’s Center for Gender and Sexuality Law.

But Anna Paprocki, staff counsel for Americans United for Life, which opposes abortion, said, “The Supreme Court has been clear on this: Not every burden is unconstitutional.” She added, “A lot of the arguments made by the abortion industry against any regulation are red herrings.”

Ms. Paprocki’s group drafted 50 pieces of “model legislation” this year, which made their way to statehouses across the nation. The most frequently proposed bills from these suggestions included limitations on later-term abortions, clinic regulations, hospital admitting privilege requirements for clinic doctors and regulations on abortion-inducing drugs, Americans United for Life said in a report on the 2015 legislative session.

Several states targeted the clinics themselves by instituting costly ways to dispose of fetal remains and requiring doctors to have admitting privileges, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a private research group that supports abortion rights and tracks legislation.

Elizabeth Nash, a senior state policy associate at the Guttmacher Institute, said some states had approved so many kinds of new rules that together they served to make it difficult for women to obtain an abortion.

“In recent years, we have seen a lot become law because of shifts in state legislatures,” Ms. Nash said.

Kansas and Oklahoma recently banned a standard method in second-trimester abortions, in which the fetus is removed in pieces.


In Florida, State Representative Jennifer Sullivan, a Republican, sponsored a bill requiring a 24-hour waiting period before an abortion. The state enacted the law in late April. Credit Steve Cannon/Associated Press

Florida enacted its law, which it calls a “reflection period,” in late April. Abortion providers say it places an undue burden on women who will be required to make two trips to a clinic to end a pregnancy.

“It adds a substantial burden to women’s lives, doubles the amount of time they have to take off work, doubles the child care required, doubles the distance traveled,” said Christopher Estes, the chief medical officer forPlanned Parenthood of South Florida and the Treasure Coast. “It really adds time and expense with no medical justification whatsoever.”

Jennifer Sullivan, a freshman legislator who at 23 is the youngest woman in the Florida House, sponsored the bill.

“I have personally seen those women who are being practically dragged to a clinic against their will,” she said.

Dian Alarcón, Florida field organizer at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, told lawmakers that the added obstacles would encourage illegal abortions. She said she herself once had an illegal abortion with no medical care.

Beth Harrison, 33, a personal trainer in Tavares, Fla., testified at a legislative hearing last month that she deeply regretted having an abortion 10 years ago and urged lawmakers to enact the waiting period.

“When they did the ultrasound, the screen was behind me and I happened to turn around and look at it,” Ms. Harrison, who thinks abortion should be illegal, said in an interview. “I saw this baby and I was freaking out.”

There are more than two dozen states that have a mandated waiting period before a woman can have abortion, usually 24 hours, said Michelle Richardson, the director of public policy of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida.

Florida’s version is more stringent, though, because the first counseling session must be done in person; most allow it to be conducted by phone or electronically. She said advocates plan to fight the law, arguing that it violates the right to privacy ensured in Florida’s Constitution.

“We’ll make the policy arguments about protecting a woman’s right to choose and that hurdles are not in her best interest,” Ms. Richardson said. “The law is just out of hope that it will make it so difficult to have abortion that she won’t do it.”

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