Harvey Weinstein: Judge Allows Sex Trafficking Case to Move to Trial

A US federal judge has ruled that a British woman’s sex-trafficking lawsuit against disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein can go ahead – setting the stage for a landmark case.

British actor Kadian Noble, 31, sued Weinstein in US district court in New York City in November, charging he brought her to a hotel room in France and sexually assaulted her.

Her lawyers in New York have argued that because Weinstein dangled a movie role for Noble before the 2014 assault, he should be liable for damages under a sex trafficking law, which makes it a crime to coerce someone into sex in exchange for something of value.

Weinstein has tried to get the case thrown out, with his lawyers arguing that because no money and nothing of value changed hands, the allegations did not amount to sex trafficking. . .

Noble charges that Weinstein invited her to his hotel room in Cannes, in the south of France, to review a film reel she had submitted and discuss a movie role he claimed to have in mind for her. He then allegedly groped her and forced her to perform a sex act in the hotel room bathroom, according to the suit – promising afterwards that his people would be in touch about the job, which never happened. (Read more from “Harvey Weinstein: Judge Allows Sex Trafficking Case to Move to Trial” HERE)

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Where’s #Metoo? Feminist Professors Back One of Their Own When She’s Accused of Sexual Harassment

Somehow, when it comes to one of their own being accused of sexual harassment, some feminists discard their devotion to the #MeToo movement and blame the victim instead.

Case in point: after a famous NYU female professor, a Trump-hater who is a feminist literary theorist, was accused of sexually harassing a male former graduate student, a group of professors, including well-known feminists, leaped to her defense despite the fact that they admitted they had no knowledge about the findings of the Title IX proceedings against her.

After an 11-month Title IX investigation, Avital Ronell, 66, professor of German and Comparative Literature at New York University, was found responsible for sexually harassing Nimrod Reitman, 34, a male former graduate student and currently a visiting fellow at Harvard. As The New York Times reports, a colleague termed Ronell, “one of the very few philosopher-stars of this world,” but the investigation concluded she was “responsible for sexual harassment, both physical and verbal, to the extent that her behavior was ‘sufficiently pervasive to alter the terms and conditions of Mr. Reitman’s learning environment.’” Ronell has been suspended for 2018-2019; the Title IX report concluded she could not additionally be responsible for sexual assault, in part because there were no witnesses to the reported actions she had taken.

Reitman, who is gay, had charged that the alleged sexual harassment for three years from Ronell, who is a lesbian, had included her referring to him in emails as “my most adored one,” “Sweet cuddly Baby,” “cock-er spaniel,” and “my astounding and beautiful Nimrod.”

The Times delineates other details, including Reitman’s claims that before the school year in 2012, Ronell invited him to stay with her in Paris for a few days. (Read more from “Where’s #Metoo? Feminist Professors Back One of Their Own When She’s Accused of Sexual Harassment” HERE)

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Kyle Kashuv Reveals What Has Changed After Tragedy Struck His School 6 Months Ago

My school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, is about to start classes on Wednesday, along with the rest of Broward County. But the schools are in chaos and still not secured.

For months after the February 14 attack that left 17 people dead at my school, the Broward County School Board promised that Stoneman Douglas would be the site of a pilot program for metal detectors. Donations and offers of metal detectors and other school security measures came flooding in.

Twelve days before school starts, the school board announced that it hadn’t properly anticipated a long list of considerations. Those considerations ranged from privacy concerns to how metal detectors would impact school start times by creating bottlenecks at the entrance. It requires only a little common sense to realize that it takes some time to get 3,300 students through one school entrance with metal detectors.

Instead of the promised armed guards, we have received unarmed security staffers with little to no ability to protect. They are utterly incapable of stopping an active shooter. . .

Superintendent Robert Runcie first tried to dismiss this as “fake news,” but the numbers showed that he simply hadn’t been honest. Given the disaster that had just befallen the community, it is understandable that he would want to hide his and the school board’s culpability. (Read more from “Kyle Kashuv Reveals What Has Changed After Tragedy Struck His School 6 Months Ago” HERE)

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Christian Chaplain Facing Court Martial Over Practicing Own Beliefs

An Army chaplain is facing punishment because he abided by the tenets of his faith, according to attorneys defending Chaplain Scott Squires.

Squires, who has been serving at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, ran afoul of the Army’s rules when he told a soldier he could not hold a marriage retreat that included same-sex couples.

“Chaplain Squires is a Southern Baptist chaplain, so he has to follow the teachings of the Southern Baptist Convention,” said Mike Berry, an attorney at First Liberty Institute, which is representing Squires in his appeal of the punishment leveled against him this spring.

Squires is endorsed by the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board.

“NAMB, just like many other endorsing organizations, prohibits their chaplains from facilitating or providing religious services that include same sex couples, such as a marriage retreat like this,” Berry said, according to Army Times.

Berry said Squires offered the soldier an alternative event under a different chaplain.

“In this instance, Squires did exactly what Army regulations tell him to do, which is to reschedule the event,” Berry said. “In fact, the event was rescheduled at the detriment of other couples who could not attend the new event.”

“But that’s what the procedures say to do, so that’s what he did,” Berry added.

In its investigation, however, the Army said Squires put his personal philosophy ahead of that of the Army and discriminated against the soldiers wanting to participate in the retreat. It said he acted with a “complete lack of urgency” by waiting three days to reschedule the event.

The investigation recommended Squires be found guilty of violating Army Equal Opportunity policy and be given “an administrative or non-judicial punishment.”

The investigation also called for punishment against Kacie Griffin, who was an assistant to Squires, for not working faster to resolve the issue.

“I simply did what I’m required to do under Army regulations and my endorser’s rules,” Squires said, according to columnist Todd Starnes, who has written about the chaplain’s case. “I am shocked that I would even be investigated, let alone threatened with punishment, for following the rules.”

Berry told Starnes that the real misconduct was committed by Maj. Gen. Kurt Sonntag, who authored the report calling for Squires to be punished.

“The United States Army, acting under the command of Major General Sonntag, is threatening to punish one of its chaplains because he followed the rules,” he said. “The Army, or Congress, must hold Major General Sonntag accountable for allowing this aggressive anti-religious hostility against its military chaplains to occur under his command.”

“Major General Sonntag must immediately reject this investigation, if any chaplain under his command is to have the confidence that he or she will be protected when following military policy,” Berry says. “No chaplain should face the specter of a court martial and military prison for following the rules of their faith and the Army.”

In an op-ed for The Daily Caller, Berry explained why he is fighting the case.

“Inexplicably, even though the Army investigator concluded that any ‘discrimination’ was ‘unintentional’ and that the Army’s regulations regarding the matter are ‘unclear,’ he recommended that Chaplain Squires be reprimanded, something that would tarnish the career and reputation of an otherwise exemplary officer and soldier,” Berry wrote. (For more from the author of “Christian Chaplain Facing Court Martial Over Practicing Own Beliefs” please click HERE)

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Keith Ellison Hit With Chilling Domestic Abuse Claims

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) has been accused of domestic violence by the family of a former girlfriend, Karen Monahan. Monahan’s son, Austin, described the relationship as being “pure hell” for his mother. In a Facebook post written on behalf of him and his brother, Austin says he found video evidence on his mom’s computer last year of Ellison dragging her by her feet from a bed, calling her a “f***ing b**ch” and threatening her. Austin also found over 100 texts between the two with Ellison begging her to come back to him. . .

Ellison is currently running for Minnesota attorney general. These allegations surfaced just a few days before Tuesday’s primary. State Rep. Debra Hilstrom, who also is running for the Democratic nomination, shared the Facebook post and demanded her opponent respond to the charges. . .

“I still care deeply for her well-being,” Ellison wrote of Monahan. “This video does not exist because I never behaved in this way, and any characterization otherwise is false.”

Ellison has represented Minnesota in Congress for six terms and is currently serving as the deputy chair of the DNC.

(Read more from “Keith Ellison Hit With Chilling Domestic Abuse Claims” HERE)

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Scientific Study Reveals Something Amazing About Religious People

By The Daily Caller. Religious affiliation actually prolong one’s life through positive social effects according to a recent study of obituaries in Iowa and across the nation.

Laura E. Wallace of Ohio State University, one of the study’s authors, found that among the social factors that affect one’s physical health and longevity, religion plays a large and observably positive role. Her findings showed that people who had active religious affiliations in life lived an average of 10 years longer than their non-religious counterparts in Des Moines, and an average of five years longer nationally.

“Being healthy doesn’t just mean going to the gym and eating well. Our social worlds have such a large influence on our health as well. Religion is clearly one of these factors that makes a big difference,” Wallace said, according to PsyPost.

“Religion has a strong relationship with longevity. Our research suggests that, in part, this is due to the opportunities that religion provides to make social connections and give back to the community,” she added.

Researchers for the study, which was initially published in Social Psychological and Personality Science, analyzed 505 obituaries from the Des Moines Register and a further 1,096 obituaries from across the country. The parameters of the study, however, presented some drawbacks, according to Wallace. (Read more from “Scientific Study Reveals Something Amazing About Religious People” HERE)


Do Religious People Really Sleep Better?

By Psychology Today. Years of research have shown that religious involvement is associated with many dimensions of good health. Among patients with cancer, for example, religion is associated with fewer physical symptoms and better functioning. Additional research has found significant correlations between religion and better mental health.

Do people who are involved in religion also sleep longer and better? A recent study addressed this question by reviewing seven relevant studies. Here’s what they found:

1. People who were religiously involved were more likely to get at least 7 hours of sleep per night. Interestingly this association was found only for those from what were described as “liberal-to-moderate” religions (e.g., Presbyterian) and not among those from “conservative” religions (e.g., Baptist).

2. People who regularly attend religious services are more likely to report sound sleep quality. This effect was found for those who attended religious services at least once per week; attending less often was not associated with an advantage.

3. People who believe that God is in control of their life report better sleep quality. A similar effect was found for those who believe that their body is sacred, though only among those who also ascribed control to God. (Read more from “Do Religious People Really Sleep Better?” HERE)

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Disgusting: Pro-Gay Church Plans to Build Worship Space/Brewery, Donate Profits to Planned Parenthood

A building in Santa Cruz, Calif., is being converted into a worship space and public brewery by a pro-gay church that plans to donate some of its beer proceeds to Planned Parenthood, according to reports.

Members of the Greater Purpose Community Church now meet on Sundays at a food lounge to pray, listen and drink beer, KNTV reports. . .

“A church that serves beer and gives the profits away to places like Planned Parenthood is really exciting to me,” the pastor told the paper. . .

The pastor told KNTV that holding services at the food lounge gave him the idea for the brewery.

“I thought to myself, ‘wouldn’t it be great if a church could figure out a way to make a product where they split the profits with local community service organizations?’ We were like ‘hey, we love beer, we love making beer, why not do a brewery?'” he said. (Read more from “Disgusting: Pro-Gay Church Plans to Build Worship Space/Brewery, Donate Profits to Planned Parenthood” HERE)

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Food Donated to Puerto Rico Hurricane Victims Found Rotting in Parking Lot

Ten shipping containers filled with food, baby products, and over-the-counter medications like Tylenol — all supplies desperately needed in the days and weeks following Hurricane Maria — were found rotting in a Puerto Rico parking lot last week, never distributed.

The New York Times reports that a local Puerto Rican radio station found the goods, melted, spoiled, and covered in rat droppings, in a parking lot outside one of Puerto Rico’s state elections offices. The goods were clearly meant to help Puerto Ricans in need, many of whom went weeks without electricity and running water last summer in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

The items, Radio Isla reports, were all private donations made by non-profits. Those items were “collected at the election commissions offices, and then distributed to the National Guard,” who gave the items to struggling residents. After the crisis subsided, though, Puerto Rico’s government officials apparently gave up on distributing supplies and left them rotting, still in their trailers, just outside their offices in San Juan.

Authorities told The New York Times that the goods had been there for “more than a year.” In one of the containers, a local official said, was “whatever was left after the National Guard left was put in those containers.” (Read more from “Food Donated to Puerto Rico Hurricane Victims Found Rotting in Parking Lot” HERE)

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School Board Wanted to Drop Pledge of Allegiance and Have Students Recite This Instead…

The Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School decided this week that the pledge of allegiance would no longer be part of their morning meetings. Instead, parents and students would be encouraged to say a new “Wolf Pack” chant. It would be an allusion to their school mascot and an attempt to be more inclusive, helping them promote “school family, community, country, and our global society.”

“Students will continue to lead the meeting by asking our community to stand to participate in our Wolf Pack Chant together. Students will also be given the opportunity to say the pledge at another point during the school day within their classroom,” the school’s elementary campus president, Lara Zelski, said in the original press release.

So, citing “some miscommunication and inconsistency in the rollout,” the ANCS has reversed course and is returning to its “original format.” Governing Board Chair Lia Santos released the following statement:

Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School has and will continue to provide students with an opportunity to recite the Pledge of Allegiance each school day. In the past, the Pledge of Allegiance was recited during our all-school morning meeting, but at the start of the school year, the daily practice was moved to classrooms. This change was done in compliance with state law [O.C.G.A. 20-2-310 (c)(1)] and aligned Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School with most other schools in the state who also say the Pledge of Allegiance in individual classrooms. However, it appears there was some miscommunication and inconsistency in the rollout. Starting next week, we will return to our original format and provide our students with the opportunity to recite the Pledge during the all-school morning meeting.

(Read more from “School Board Wanted to Drop Pledge of Allegiance and Have Students Recite This Instead…” HERE)

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Researchers Uncover History-Defying Facts About the Bible. Doubters Dumbfounded

The New Testament as we have it was originally written in Greek. The first printed Greek New Testament coming off a printing press happened in the year 1516, which means that for 1,500 years, the text that John and other biblical authors wrote was passed down by handwritten copies. It was copied by hand and passed on and on and on. That’s significant.

When the New Testament was printed in 1516, it simply turned the world upside down. And I should just pause here and say if you want to read one of the best biographies that I’ve ever read, read David Daniell’s biography of William Tyndale to learn about that era and the heroism, and sacrifice, and reformation that this printing took so that anybody could read it — not just a few monks tucked away making faithful copies, but anybody who took the time could have it in their hands. It simply turned the world upside down in 1516 and beyond.

But for 1,500 years, it came down to us in handwritten form. We do not have the original manuscript of any of the New Testament books; that is, the very piece of parchment or paper that John or Paul or Matthew or Mark or Luke wrote on. We don’t have that piece of paper. Everything we have is copies, and the question is: Did they get it right? Were they faithful with it? And frankly, I think it’s probably just as well that we don’t have those originals because we’d make idols out of them and charge money probably for people to come worship at the shrine of the original manuscript of the apostle Paul. So the books of the New Testament are all preserved by these faithful, hardworking scribes and copyists for all those centuries.

Let me describe those manuscripts to you and give you some amazing facts. There are four ways that those manuscripts appear. One is a group called uncials, which are capital letters in the Greek. These are very old manuscripts. The next group is minuscules, and they’re little Greek letters. So some were written in all caps and some were written in little letters, and then there’s a group called papyri. These are the oldest fragments, written on papyrus, which was a plant common along the Nile in Egypt. The other group is lectionaries, which are collections of text used in public worship, not in the order they were written necessarily, but it lays out what you read on a particular Sunday.

Now, here’s what’s simply amazing: The abundance of those manuscripts in those four different forms is so startling compared to the oldest manuscripts of any other manuscript coming from the first century. It’s simply breathtaking. Caesar’s Gallic Wars was written about 50 BC. It has ten surviving manuscripts in the language in which it was written, and all of them date from AD 900 and after. Livy’s History of Rome has twenty surviving manuscripts, which are all late. Two manuscripts survive of Tacitus’s Histories and Annals, written about AD 100. There are only two manuscripts and they’re all from the AD ninth and eleventh century. Eight manuscripts exist for Thucydides’s history, which was written around 400 BC.

So, typically when you’re a historian working with manuscripts that come from the period that we’re talking about — the very early first century or so — you have up to twenty manuscripts to work with, and they’re all from the ninth and tenth century, not earlier. And virtually all those historians working in universities around the world are confident they’re interpreting Caesar, Thucydides, and Tacitus.

Compare the numbers of the manuscripts that we have of the New Testament. And these numbers all come from the main think tank called the Institute for New Testament Textual Research in Münster, Germany, who have the data all collated. These manuscripts exist in libraries around the world, but of course they’ve been digitized now. And the numbers of these are plain for everybody to see. There are 322 of the uncial texts, there are 2,907 miniscule texts, there are 2,445 lectionary portions, and there are 127 papyri, adding up to about 5,801 manuscripts or fragments. They’re not all complete New Testaments, but they are either whole or fragments of the New Testament. So these handwritten copies of the New Testament are in existence today and now are visible to the scholars who want to work with them to try to discern what the original words were that the biblical authors wrote.

Now, as you can imagine, the copying of those texts produced variations for all kinds of human reasons. So the multiplicity of the numbers of manuscripts increases the problem of variations, and also increases the powers of control by which we can assess which are the most original. The more you have, the more you can test which were the original ones. If we only had two manuscripts of the Gospel of John and one of them included the story about the woman caught in adultery, and one of them omitted it, and they’re both old, what would we do? It would be very difficult to decide.

That’s not the situation with any text in the Bible. The variations are many, but we have hundreds of texts. So we can say, “Here it is in these, but here — the number of these texts, the antiquity of these texts, the geographical distribution of these texts — it makes it crystal clear: that’s the original right there.” The number of manuscripts, while creating more variations, also creates the very control that scholars are able to use in order to decide which is original.

Here’s the way F.F. Bruce from a generation ago put it. He wrote this in 1943:

If the great number of manuscripts increases the number of scribal errors, it increases proportionately the means of correcting such errors, so that the margin of doubt left in the process of recovering the exact original wording is . . . in truth remarkably small. (The New Testament Documents, 19)

What’s most significant for the reliability and the authority of the New Testament is that the variations that remain, that we still wonder about, do not affect any biblical doctrine. Here’s the way Bruce puts it: “The variant readings about which any doubt remains among textual critics of the New Testament affects no material question of historic fact or of Christian faith and practice” (The New Testament Documents, 20).

Now, nothing in the last seventy years or so since he wrote that has changed in my judgment, except the fact that some very popular teachers, especially Bart Erhman, have become renowned for calling the New Testament into question precisely on the basis of textual critical issues.

On the other hand, Paul Wegner, writing in 2006, reaffirms Bruce’s judgment: “It is important to keep in perspective the fact that only a very small part of the text is in question… Of these, most variants make little difference to the meaning of any passage.” And then he closes his book with this quote from Fredric Kenyon: “It is reassuring at the end to find that the general result of all these discoveries and all this study is to strengthen the proof of the authenticity of the Scriptures, and our conviction that we have in our hands, in substantial integrity, the veritable word of God” (A Student’s Guide to Textual Criticism of the Bible, 301).

I agree with Don Carson and the others that the story of the woman caught in adultery was not in the Gospel of John when he wrote it. When I say that, I don’t at all mean for you to respond, “Oh, everything then is up for grabs,” or “How can I count on any text?”

On the contrary, you and I should be very thankful that in God’s sovereign providence over the centuries, these thousands and thousands of manuscripts are so abundant today — that in the science of textual criticism, as they are compared one with the other, there is a high degree of certainty that we have the original wording. And where there isn’t a degree of certainty, it affects no doctrine of the Christian faith. (For more from the author of “Researchers Uncover History-Defying Facts About the Bible. Doubters Dumbfounded” please click HERE)

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist, and most recently Expository Exultation: Christian Preaching as Worship.

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