The Wire

  • Rep. Byrne to Hold 12 Town Hall Meetings

    From a Congressman Bradley Byrne news release:

    Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL) announced today that he will hold twelve town hall meetings during the August District Work Period.

    Known as the “Better Off Now” Town Hall Tour, Congressman Byrne will hold public town halls in each of the counties that make up Alabama’s First Congressional District. Byrne will discuss how the American people are better off now thanks to a booming economy, stronger military, and safer communities.

    Byrne ranks among the top of all Members of Congress for the number of town hall meetings held. Since assuming office in late 2013, Byrne has held over 100 town hall meetings, including meetings over the phone and through Facebook.

    All the town hall meetings are open to the public and free to attend. All the information can be found online below.

  • HudsonAlpha technology director to present at Google Cloud conference

    Excerpt from a HudsonAlpha news release:

    HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology Technology Director Katreena Mullican has been invited to present at the Google Next ‘18 conference in San Francisco, Calif, July 24-26.

    Google Next is an international conference where more than 10,000 developers, technology leaders, and entrepreneurs come together to have a collaborative discussion about the Google Cloud Platform.

    Mullican has more than 20 years of experience in architecting Linux, virtualization and hybrid cloud solutions. As HudsonAlpha’s Cloud Whisperer, Mullican brings her expertise in automation of on-prem composable and public cloud infrastructure for scientific applications and workflows to the Institute.

    “HudsonAlpha is one of the top sequencing centers in the world, so it’s my job to think outside the box to design hybrid platforms appropriate for our sequencing and research workloads,” said Mullican.

    Mullican will participate in a Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) Cloud Talk Tuesday at 1:00 pm in the South Hall to discuss how HudsonAlpha uses the composable HPE Synergy platform for an on-premises Kubernetes cluster that can scale to Google Cloud Platform.

  • Tabitha Isner claims Russia hacked campaign website — ‘Russian meddling in U.S. elections continues to be a real and immediate threat’


    Late Thursday afternoon, Democratic congressional hopeful Tabitha Isner issued a press release claiming “incidents of ‘brute force attacks’ on her campaign’s main webpage.”

    “When investigating the source of these attacks, the website administrator discovered over 1,400 attempts to login to the website as an administrator in the past week,” the release from campaign manager Megan Skipper said. “Of those 1,400 attempts, 1,100 came from Russian I.P. addresses. Russian meddling in U.S. elections continues to be a real and immediate threat.”

2 months ago

WH: Trump ‘looking at’ pardoning great-grandmother serving life for non-violent drug offense


President Donald Trump is looking at the possible pardon of a great-grandmother serving life without parole for a first-time, non-violent drug offense, the White House said Thursday.

The plight of 63-year-old Alice Marie Johnson was brought to the president’s attention by Kim Kardashian, who met with the president at the White House on Wednesday.

“He’s looking at that one, as well. It was a brief meeting, but one that — again, he takes these things extremely seriously. That’s a power outlined by the Constitution, one in which he understands the gravity,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley told reporters on board Air Force One en route to Dallas, Texas, on Thursday.


“And much like the other cases you guys mentioned and other ones you don’t know anything about that he’s already looking into as well, I can’t get ahead of the decision that he’s going to make, but he’s looking at all those seriously. He takes them seriously, because they impact people’s lives,” he added.

Gidley was asked about the possible pardons of Martha Stewart and commutation of Democrat Rod Blagojevich’ s sentence – the former governor of Illinois.

“Two of the people the president mentioned for pardons — he’s considering Blagojevich and Martha Stewart — they both have connections to ‘Celebrity Apprentice.’ Is there a reason he’s thinking about them and not some of the other 3,000 people on the list?” a reporter asked.

“He’s thinking about all of those people. One of the things he mentioned also is that Jack Johnson, the former heavyweight champion, was one of the ones that really impacted him. It was a great disservice done to him. The president felt as though it was a wrong that needed to be righted, and he has the power, under the Constitution, to right that wrong — and that’s what he did,” Gidley said.

As reported, Trump pardoned conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza on Thursday, because he felt D’Souza was “a victim of selective prosecution for violations of campaign finance laws.”

“The same applies to Dinesh D’Souza. He thought there was some selective prosecution there, reviewed the case, looked at the merits, and made the decision. He also mentioned Mr. Blagojevich and also Martha Stewart. He’s looking at those, but I can’t get ahead of his deliberations or decisions on that,” Gidley said.

“The people you mentioned, though, were all celebrities. Is that a fair way — in their own right and in different ways. Is that a fair way to view the commonalities?” a reporter asked.

“Look, there are plenty of people the president is looking at right now under the pardon process, but I don’t have anything further than that right now,” Gidley said.

(Courtesy of

2 months ago

MLK’s niece to Starbucks: Stop supporting Planned Parenthood

(Wikicommons, CNN/YouTube)

A coalition of pro-life leaders has reached out to Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson calling on him to stop donating to Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, pointing out that it was founded by “an outspoken racist” and is responsible for “the slaughter of minority children” through abortion.

A letter signed by Alveda King, the director of Civil Rights for the Unborn, ForAmerica President L. Brent Bozell, Richard Viguerie, chairman of, and many other pro-life leaders was sent to Starbucks on Monday–the same day that Starbucks closes its stores for racial bias training.

The letter said in part:


“Planned Parenthood Founder Margaret Sanger once said, ‘We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population,’” the pro-life leaders noted in their letter.

“In your April statement responding to the arrest of two African-American men sitting in one of your stores, you declared that Starbucks’ ‘founding values are based on humanity and inclusion.’

“As men and women who fight for the value and dignity of every human life, we ask:

“Where is the ‘humanity’ and ‘inclusion’ when your company matches employees’ donations to Planned Parenthood, whose founder Margaret Sanger was an outspoken racist with genocidal intentions?

“This week, Starbucks is holding ‘racial-bias education’ training for nearly 175,000 employees nationwide.

“If you think this public relations fix means Starbucks is no longer complicit in racism, it’s time to wake up and smell your own coffee.

“Active with the Ku Klux Klan and the eugenics movement, Margaret Sanger’s stated agenda was to eradicate the African American population. Her dream is being realized by the slaughter of minority children today through the horror of abortion.

“With every donation your company gives to Planned Parenthood, the largest single provider of abortions in the United States performing over 300,000 per year, Starbucks is contributing to one of the most racist organizations in our nation’s history.

“… So if Starbucks wants to own the corporate mantle of ending racist business practices, then we challenge you to stop funding Planned Parenthood’s House of Horrors which has taken precious lives away from minority communities; and from society at large.”

Starbucks decided to close its stores to train its employees on racial bias after an employee at a Philadelphia Starbucks called the police on two black men who were waiting for a friend inside the store without purchasing anything.

Starbucks Executive Chairman Howard Schultz addressed the issue in an open letter on Monday on the company’s website, saying the company sometimes falls short, “disappointing ourselves and all of you.”

The Starbucks open letter said in part:

Recently, a Starbucks manager in Philadelphia called the police a few minutes after two black men arrived at a store and sat waiting for a friend. They had not yet purchased anything when the police were called. After police arrived they arrested the two men. The situation was reprehensible and does not represent our company’s mission and enduring values.

After investigating what happened, we determined that insufficient support and training, a company policy that defined customers as paying patrons—versus anyone who enters a store—and bias led to the decision to call the police. Our ceo, Kevin Johnson, met with the two men to express our deepest apologies, reconcile and commit to ongoing actions to reaffirm our guiding principles.

The incident has prompted us to reflect more deeply on all forms of bias, the role of our stores in communities and our responsibility to ensure that nothing like this happens again at Starbucks. The reflection has led to a long-term commitment to reform systemwide policies, while elevating inclusion and equity in all we do.

Today we take another step to ensure we live up to our mission:


What will we be doing? More than 175,000 Starbucks partners (that’s what we call our employees) will be sharing life experiences, hearing from others, listening to experts, reflecting on the realities of bias in our society and talking about how all of us create public spaces where everyone feels like they belong—because they do. This conversation will continue at our company and become part of how we train all of our partners.

Discussing racism and discrimination is not easy, and various people have helped us create a learning experience that we hope will be educational, participatory and make us a better company. We want this to be an open and honest conversation starting with our partners. We will also make the curriculum available to the public.

(Courtesy of

2 months ago

Trump: Hire America also means helping former inmates get work

(WH/ YouTube)

President Donald Trump’s Hire American plan includes helping former inmates find gainful employment, he said Friday at the White House Prison Reform Summit.

“When we talk about our national program to hire American, this must include helping millions of former inmates get back into the workforce as gainfully employed citizens,” the president said. “At the heart of our prison reform agenda is expanding prison work and the programs so that inmates can reenter society with the skills to get a job.


“We also want more mental health services so released inmates can cope with the challenges of life on the outside, and some of those challenges are not easy. We’re developing more effective drug treatment so that former prisoners can remain drug-free,” he said.

“Prison reform is an issue that unites people from across the political spectrum,” Trump said, adding, “Our whole nation benefits if former inmates are able to reenter society as productive, law-abiding citizens.”

He said over 62,000 inmates are released from mostly state prisons, and they struggle to find a job, stay off drugs, and “avoid old habits that lead them back to a life of crime, back to prison.”

“Drugs are playing a tremendously big role in our lives — in so many lives — not only having to do with prisoners, but having to do with people that never thought they’d be addicted, that never thought they’d have a problem like this, that are having a really hard time coping — drugs. We’re doing a big, big job on drugs. It is a scourge in this country,” the president said.

“In this effort, we are not just absolving prisoners of their central role in their own rehabilitation. There is no substitute for personal accountability, and there is no tolerance for those who take advantage of society’s generosity to prey upon the innocent,” Trump said.

The president said he supports prison reform efforts, and he pledged to sign prison reform legislation that clears Congress.

“As we speak, legislation is working through Congress to reform our federal prisons. My administration strongly supports these efforts, and I urge the House and Senate to get together — and there are a lot of senators, a lot of Congress people that want to get this passed — to work out their differences. Get a bill to my desk. I will sign it, and it’s going to be strong, it’s going to be good, it’s going to be what everybody wants,” Trump said.

A bipartisan prison reform bill backed by the White House cleared the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

The FIRST STEP Act (H.R. 5682), sponsored by Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) and co-sponsored by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries,” provides for programs to help reduce the risk that prisoners will recidivate upon release from prison, and for other purposes.

The bill authorizes the Bureau of Prisons to spend $50 million a year for five years on job training and education programs to reduce recidivism. It also clarifies current law to allow inmates up to 54 days of credit for good behavior each year. It was previously interpreted to allow only 47 days a year.

The bill also has the support of Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Several Democrats – Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) and John Lewis (D-Ga.) – wrote to their fellow Democratic lawmakers Thursday urging them not to support the bill, spearheaded by Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, because they say it is “flawed” and doesn’t include sentencing reform.


2 months ago

Trump: ‘We must end the attacks on our police’

(White House/YouTube)

In a speech to the National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service, President Donald Trump called for an end to attacks on police, adding that ambush attacks are “one of the most alarming crimes” against police.

“In 2016, an officer was assaulted in America on an average of every 10 minutes. Can you believe that? It’s outrageous, and it’s unacceptable. We must end the attacks on our police, and we must end them right now. We believe criminals who kill our police should get the death penalty. Bring it forth,” Trump said.

“One of the most alarming crimes taking place against our police are ambush attacks. Think of that – ambush attacks. I have directed the Justice Department to do everything in its power to defend the lives of American law enforcement,” Trump said.


Trump said he was honored to attend the memorial service for the second time, “and I’ll see you I guess about another six times, and then after that, perhaps you’ll have had enough.”

“We stand with our police, and we stand with you 100 percent, and I think we’ve shown that,” he said.

Trump called the memorial service “one of the most important solemn occasions of the year – the day we pay tribute to law enforcement heroes – and that’s what they are, heroes – who gave their lives in the line of duty.”

“They made the ultimate sacrifice so that we could live in safety and in peace. To the families and survivors with us this morning, I know today is filled with sadness and pain, but today is also filled with love – the love of an entire nation wrapped its arms, and they have wrapped their arms right around you. They love you. They’re praying for you. They’re grieving with you and pledging to you that we will never forget our heroes, ever,” he said.

Trump said the first duty of government is to protect its citizens. The men and women of the Department of Homeland Security “are on the front lines of this incredible, heroic fight,” he said.

“That is why we are calling on Congress to secure our borders, support our border agents, stop sanctuary cities, and shut down policies that release violent criminals back into our communities. We don’t want it any longer. We’ve had it. Enough is enough,” Trump said.

“Recently, MS-13 gang members called for the assassination of New York City police officers, so the gang could ‘take back the streets.’ They got it wrong. We are the ones who are taking back the streets. We are getting them out of our country by the thousands,” he said.

“Every week, we’re setting new records on– we have a catch and release program too. It’s called we catch them, and we release them in the country they came back from. We’re getting them out or we’re putting them in prison,” the president added.

“The Trump administration has a policy, and it’s very clear: we will protect those who protect us and who do such a great job in protecting us. That is why as I promised all along that we are allowing local police to access the surplus military equipment they need to protect our officers and law enforcement agents and save their lives, and they are taking equipment at a record clip. Millions and millions of dollars of surplus equipment is going to our police departments,” he said.

“If we want to bring down violent crime, then we must stand up for our police. We must confront and condemn dangerous anti-police prejudice. Can you believe this prejudice with respect to our police? We’re not going to let bad things happen to our police. So we must show appreciation, gratitude and respect for those who police our streets and patrol our communities,” Trump said.

(Courtesy CNS News)

2 months ago

Trump: ‘For many years we failed to acknowledge the obvious … that Israel’s capital Is Jerusalem’


President Donald Trump celebrated the opening of the first U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, saying that Israel is a sovereign nation with the right to determine its own capital, adding that for years, however, the U.S. has failed to recognize the obvious – that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.

“Exactly 70 years ago, the United States under President Harry Truman became the first nation to recognize the state of Israel. Today we officially open the United States Embassy in Jerusalem. Congratulations! It’s been a long time coming,” Trump said in pre-taped remarks that were broadcast at the U.S. embassy’s opening ceremony.


“Today Jerusalem is the seat of Israel’s government. It is the home of the Israeli Legislature and the Israeli Supreme Court and Israel’s prime minister and president. Israel is a sovereign nation with a right like every other sovereign nation to determine its own capital. Yet, for many years we failed to acknowledge the obvious, the plain reality, that Israel’s capital is Jerusalem,” he said.

“On December 6, 2017 at my direction, the United States finally and officially recognized Jerusalem as the true capital of Israel. Today we follow through on this recognition and open our embassy in the historic and sacred land of Jerusalem, and we’re opening it many, many years ahead of schedule,” the president said. “As I said in December, our greatest hope is for peace.”

Trump said the U.S. is “fully committed to facilitating a lasting peace agreement” and that it continues to support the status quo at Jerusalem’s holy sites, including the Temple Mount.

“This city and its entire nation is a testament to the unbreakable spirit of the Jewish people. The United States will always be a great friend of Israel and a partner in the cause of freedom and peace,” the president said.

He wished U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman good luck “as he takes up his office in this beautiful Jerusalem embassy, and we extend a hand in friendship to Israel, the Palestinians and to all of their neighbors.”

“May there be peace,” the president said.

(Courtesy of

2 months ago

Pro-life group calls on YouTube to stop censoring pro-life videos


A pro-life group is crying foul over YouTube’s decision to shut down an account that features videos showing the horrors of the abortion pill.

Susan B. Anthony List and its research arm, the Charlotte Lozier Institute, called on YouTube and other social media companies to stop censoring pro-life content.

At issue is YouTube’s decision to suspend the account of Abortion Pill Reversal (APR), which produces videos talking about how it is possible to reverse the effects of the abortion pill, mifepristone.


YouTube cited APR for “repeated or severe violations of [the] Community Guidelines.” Four videos were posted to the account, including a webinar explaining APR in scientific and medical terms.

YouTube said it suspended the account, citing its policies against “harmful or dangerous content.” It said it “doesn’t allow content that encourages or promotes violent or dangerous acts that have an inherent risk of serious physical harm or death.” Examples of videos that violate YouTube’s policies are videos about “instructional bomb making, choking games, hard drug use, or other acts where serious injury may result.”

“The idea that abortion pill reversal promotes violence is ludicrous. YouTube’s censorship of this lifesaving information has life-or-death consequences for hundreds of women looking for a second chance to save their babies. It is urgent that this account be restored,” SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a statement.

“Big social media companies should be very concerned about the appearance of a pervasive double-standard when they allow abortion giant Planned Parenthood to promote itself unimpeded. Each year Planned Parenthood commits more than 320,000 abortions, one of the most brutal, violent acts imaginable,” she said.

“They face federal investigation for their role in the harvest and sale of aborted babies’ body parts for profit. We in the pro-life movement make no apology for exposing the truth about abortion and call for an immediate end to the censorship of our views,” Dannenfelser added.

One of the censored videos featured a woman telling her story about how regretted taking the abortion pill so she sought help to find out if she could reverse it. She spoke to someone from APR, who referred her to a doctor who prescribed progesterone to reverse the effects of mifepristone. As a result, she gave birth to a healthy baby.

According to the video’s narrarrator, “By 2015, nearly 100 babies have been born to women who have successfully reversed the steps of mifepristone using progesterone. All the babies have been healthy with no major birth defects. In 2015, another 75 mothers were pregnant after successful reversals with all of those pregnancies appearing to be healthy.”

(Courtesy of

3 months ago

Planned Parenthood sues administration for favoring abstinence over ‘birth control’ with Title X grants

(Fox News/YouTube)

Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration this week for making changes to Title X family planning grant applications to favor abstinence education.

Three Planned Parenthood affiliates – in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Utah – filed their lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia claiming that “Title X of the Public Health Service Act was created to provide comprehensive family planning services to – low-income patients.”

“But now,” the lawsuit said, “the government seeks to shift the Title X program away from its core statutory purpose, by dramatically altering the criteria that determine who can participate in the program.


“Those unexplained and unjustified changes contravene the Title X program as Congress intended it, violate the government’s own existing regulations, and threaten devastating, irreparable harms to the very patients Title X was meant to help,” the lawsuit said.

“In late February, the Trump-Pence administration began trying to completely remake the Title X program through a call for funding applications, changing the program so that it no longer focuses on either birth control or reproductive health care and instead pushes patients toward abstinence and tries to keep patients from coming to Planned Parenthood,” Planned Parenthood said in a press release on Wednesday.

“Not only is this illegal, but it could have devastating consequences and threaten health care for millions,” it stated.

The lawsuit claims that Title X was “enacted a half century ago to make good on President Nixon’s promise that ‘no American woman should be denied access to family planning assistance because of her economic condition.’”

Title X funds are meant “to assist in the establishment and operation of voluntary family planning projects which shall offer a broad range of acceptable and effective family planning methods and services,” the lawsuit stated. “Congress created the Title X program to ensure that all people, and especially low-income women, have access to family planning care.”

At issue are changes the Department of Health and Human Services made to the Title X grantmaking criteria in February, the lawsuit said.

“Specifically, the FY2018 FOA for Title X funds shifts the ‘application review criteria’ on which funding decisions are based away from what the statute and regulations require. Under HHS’s changes, those ‘application review criteria’ now give the most weight to new ‘program priorities’ and ‘key issues,’ such as placing ‘meaningful emphasis’ on abstinence as an approach to birth control (even for adults), providing onsite primary care, and cooperating with faith-based organizations,” Planned Parenthood said in its lawsuit.

“Rather than focusing on acceptable and effective family planning methods, the new FOA omits entirely any reference to contraception or to HHS’s own previously published standards for evidence-based family planning care. Those changes are designed to disadvantage reproductive health care providers like Plaintiffs—and ultimately, to warp the nature of the Title X program itself and undermine its intended function of supporting comprehensive family planning care,” the lawsuit added.

“Today is the day the Trump-Pence administration learns it can’t just circumvent the law. Planned Parenthood is going to court to stop the Trump-Pence administration from trying to impose its ideology on people. Our bodies are our own and shouldn’t be at the mercy of the Trump-Pence administration,” Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood, said in a statement.

“We are going to court to fight for our patients’ health and rights — and for the millions of people in this country who need to access quality reproductive health care,” Laguens said.

Dr. Gillian Dean, senior director of Medical Services with Planned Parenthood, said the administration “is trying to tell women what kind of birth control to use — or in many cases not to use a method of birth control at all.”

“They are trying to push people toward abstinence or pressure women into marriage — instead of helping them get quality health care. They are trying to block people from getting care at Planned Parenthood health centers — with devastating consequences. Everyone deserves the right to control their own bodies and future, and to get the care they need,” Dean said in a statement.

(Courtesy of

3 months ago

Pro-life groups, Congressmen ask HHS Secretary to stop Title X funds from going to abortion providers

(Brian Stansberry/WikiCommons)

More than 85 state and national pro-life groups as well as 41 senators and 153 congressmen and women are calling on Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to revise Title X family planning rules.

“The pro-life grassroots are furious with the inability of the Republican-controlled Congress to stop taxpayer funding of abortion and abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood. We urge the Trump administration to act swiftly to revise the Title X regulations, stopping the flow of Title X dollars to abortion centers,” Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a statement.


“Planned Parenthood, which is the nation’s largest abortion business and responsible for more than 300,000 abortions a year, currently receives $50-60 million in Title X taxpayer dollars annually. A win like this would immediately disentangle taxpayers from the abortion business and energize the grassroots as we head into the critical midterm elections,” Dannenfelser said.

“For far too long the Title X Family Planning Program has been integrated with abortion centers. It is time to act swiftly to disentangle abortion centers from the Title X network. Doing so would be consistent with the President’s pledge and subsequent actions to defund Planned Parenthood and reallocate funding to alternative providers,” the pro-life groups stated in their letter to Azar.

“Reinstating President Ronald Reagan’s Title X regulations is sorely needed to bring the program into clear alignment with the statutory requirement stating, ‘None of the funds appropriated under this title shall be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.’ Abortion is not family planning and the law recognizes that,” the letter stated.

Forty-one senators led by Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), James Lankford (Okla.), and Steve Daines (R-Mont.) sent a companion letter to Azar, as well as 153 congressmen and women led by Reps. Ron Estes (R-Kan.), Diane Black (R-Tenn.), Chris Smith (R-N.J.), and Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.).

In Rust v. Sullivan, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld regulations by the Reagan administration that required Title X funding to go to family planning clinics that did not perform or refer patients for abortions.

“The Reagan regulations complied with this requirement by directing taxpayer funds to Title X locations that did not perform or refer for abortion. This action does not ban abortion or abortion referral in the private sector. It only governs the types of centers that the federal government chooses to fund using taxpayer dollars,” the letter stated.

“Federally funded family planning centers should not refer for abortion or be co-located with abortion clinics. These regulations were upheld by the Supreme Court in 1991 in Rust v. Sullivan (500 U.S. 173),” it stated.

“The result of this policy is simply to separate the Title X network of family planning providers from abortionists like Planned Parenthood – the nation’s largest abortion chain. A GAO report issued earlier this year showed that Title X is currently Planned Parenthood’s second largest funding stream, generating $50-$60 million for the abortion giant,” the letter noted.

“By shifting funding to clinic sites that do not perform or refer for abortion, you will send a strong message that abortion is not family planning consistent with the law creating the program. In the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, Congress provided $286 million for the Title X program. It is time to reinstate common-sense pro-life safeguards before the end of the fiscal year when the Congress and the President will face another funding deadline,” the letter concluded.

(Courtesy of

3 months ago

Abortion is not a human right, says State Dept. official


The State Department released its Human Rights Report for 2017 on Friday, and State Department officials acknowledged it purposely left out a section on “women’s reproductive rights,” which had been included in previous reports during the Obama administration, noting that the administration does not consider abortion a human right under international law.

“When the State Department is talking about this represents our values as Americans, the removal of sections on women’s reproductive rights – why is that not included in values as Americans?” a reporter asked State Department officials.

“I’m going to explain why it was removed. It was introduced six years ago into the report. It hadn’t been there before,” Michael Kozak, ambassador for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, said.


“It’s one of the few terms that are used in the report that isn’t derived from an international treaty that has a definition or derived from U.S. law, where there’s a clear definition to the term, and in this case, the previous administration intended it to mean look at the availability of contraception, at the – whether the government tried to impose or coerce people in making decisions about reproduction,” Kozak said.

“In the statements that were made – this was derived from the Beijing Declaration that was done in the ‘90s. At that time, it was very clear and our delegation made a very clear statement that this has nothing to do with abortion. It doesn’t mean abortion,” he said.

Kozak said the use of the term “reproductive rights” means different things to people on both sides of the issue.

“Unfortunately, over the last few years, groups on both sides of that issue domestically have started to use the term, and both seem to think it does include abortion and then argue about it,” he said. “So our thought was let’s just not use a term that has the opposite meaning from the one we intend.

“We went back to the term that’s used in the U.S. statute that requires the Human Rights Report, which is coerced family planning, namely coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization,” Kozak said. “I might mention too, because I went back and looked at last year’s report, the question being asked was, ‘Were there obstacles opposed to getting contraception information and means?’

“The answer in virtually every country was no, there were no obstacles other than, in almost every country, including our own, the availability in rural areas is less than it is in urban areas. But we were taking a lot of space to explain that,” he said.

“So what we’ve done, we’ve kept that information in there. We’ve done it now by a hyperlink. We used to take that information from the WHO report and put it in. We said let’s just use a hyperlink, and then there’s actually more information available that way. So that’s the rationale behind that,” Kozak said.

“It’s not a diminishment of women’s rights or a desire to get away from it; it was to stop using a term that has several different meanings that are not all the ones we intend,” he added.

A reporter later questioned whether Kozak was saying “there are no obstacles for women to get contraception in any country except for if there’s a remote issue.”

“I said with some exceptions, and the exceptions were and still are – and we’ve really gotten at it by flipping back to the original U.S. statutory language. It’s in places like China, where in order to enforce their two – now two-child policy, that there are reports of coerced abortion and involuntary sterilization,” Kozak said.

The ambassador said North Korea also engages in forced abortion, although it’s usually used for political punishment. Also in the country of Belarus, women in state hospitals or who are institutionalized are forced to have abortions or if the woman or baby has disabilities.

“In North Korea, where the government also coerces or forces abortion – although sometimes that’s for political punishment rather than family planning, and we uncovered it,” Kozak said.

“So as we were digging through trying to reduce the bulk of some of this report, I found in the old country I served in, in Belarus, that it turns out that the doctors in the state hospitals, and particularly in the institutions there, if they have a woman who is pregnant and who is a woman with disabilities, the doctors insist on an abortion. Or if they believe the fetus has a disability, they’ll insist on an abortion. So we’ve called that out too,” he said.

“So it’s not – those were the cases, though, in the – under the previous formula where you would say there was a restriction on family planning, freedom of family planning. For most countries, it said, there isn’t any restriction except for the ones imposed by economics and rural-urban type thing,” Kozak said.

“So just to be clear just on that, so taking out the language about those cases therefore means that the U.S. doesn’t believe that the inability for women to get an abortion physically or by law is an abuse of human rights?” a reporter asked.

“Correct, under the previous administration and this one and the one before that. We have never taken the position that abortion was a right under – a human right under international law,” Kozak said.

“This is supposed to be internationally recognized human rights, and it’s an issue on which – some countries prohibit abortion. Some countries, like our own, pretty much no restriction on it, and we don’t say one of those is right and one of those is wrong. We don’t report on it because it’s not a human right,” he said.

“It’s an issue of great policy debate. You can have a good discussion, but there’s no internationally recognized standard as to what’s the right treatment, but the other, yes. The – it is internationally recognized that somebody shouldn’t coerce you to have an abortion or force you to be sterilized,” Kozak added.

(Courtesy of

3 months ago

Trump signs presidential memo to cut red tape for manufacturers


President Donald Trump signed a presidential memorandum on Thursday directing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to cut red tape for U.S. manufacturers and stimulate job growth.

The memo, titled Promoting Domestic Manufacturing and Job Creation Policies and Procedures Relating to Implementation of Air Quality Standards, calls for setting air quality standards based on transparent science.

It is designed to ensure efficient and cost-effective implementation of air quality standards under the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) and regional haze programs of the Clean Air Act.


“Today, I will sign a presidential memorandum directing the EPA to cut even more red tape on our manufacturers so that they can expand and continue to hire and to grow,” Trump announced during a Rose Garden press conference on tax reform. “And I will say, this is about tax cuts today, but the cutting of regulations could have had the same or even a bigger impact on our economy. Nobody has ever seen anything like it.

“People were stuck. They’d have a factory. It would be under review for 10 years, 12 years, and then get rejected. You’ve seen what we’ve done with the pipelines and so many businesses all over our country that are being approved rapidly,” the president said.

“This memorandum helps ensure that EPA carries out its core mission, while reducing regulatory burdens for domestic manufacturing,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

“International and background sources of air pollution are critical issues facing state, local, and tribal agencies implementing national standards. The president’s leadership will guide our Agency’s continued commitment to proper implementation of the Clean Air Act,” Pruitt said.

The president noted that projected job growth for American manufacturing is at an all-time high, according to the National Association of Manufacturers.

“With us today is the president of the National Association of Manufacturers, Jay Timmons,” Trump said. “For 20 years, their organization has surveyed American manufacturers. All over the country they survey, and it’s a great organization. And they have never before seen the levels of optimism that our tax cuts have delivered.”

Trump added, “In fact, today there is even more good news, and I wanted all of you to be the first to hear it: According to the latest survey by the National Association of Manufacturers, projected job growth for American manufacturing has just reached a new all-time high.”

According to the NAM Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey for the first quarter of 2018, optimism among small manufacturers hit the highest-level ever recorded in the survey’s 20-year history (94.5 percent). Optimism among manufacturers registered its second-highest level ever recorded in the survey’s history at 93.5 percent. Furthermore, projected wage growth registered its fastest pace in 17 years, and projected sales growth registered its second-highest reading the survey’s history.

Trump said his administration is also cutting down the number of years it takes to get approvals for highway construction.

“We’re getting highway approvals down from 20, 17, 15, 12, 10 years. We’re getting them down to one year and two years. We’re going to get the highways approved quickly. We’re going to get our roads, our bridges, our tunnels, our schools,” the president said.

“No more waiting 18 to 20 years to get an approval and then, by the way, they don’t get the approval, and you may not get the approval, but it’s going to be quick. It will be a quick rejection, but you’ll get them, for the most part,” he added.

“And we will take care of our environment. Remember that. We’ll take just as good, if not better, care of our environment, and we’ll have better roads, and better bridges, and better schools,” Trump said.

(Courtesy of