Satanic Temple fights abortion law in Missouri Supreme Court

The Satanic Temple squared off this week over abortion restrictions as a member argued they violate her "deeply held religious beliefs" before the Missouri Supreme Court.

The case of the Satanist, identified anonymously in court documents as Mary Doe, convinced a state appeals court last fall that Missouri's law providing an ultrasound of her fetus prior to an abortion may "violate the Religion Clause rights of pregnant women," that court ruled


Now the Satanic Temple, which filed a lawsuit on Doe's behalf in 2015, saw oral arguments for the case to go before state's highest court on Tuesday, Newsweek reported.

“The state has essentially established a religious indoctrination program intended to promote a religious viewpoint that life begins at conception,” Jex Blackmore, a Satanic Temple spokeswoman, said in a statement last fall. “The law is intended to punish women who disagree with this opinion.”

The Satanic Temple, an religious organization, has made headlines in recent years as a foil to religious influence in government, pushing for after-school programs and a statue of the idol Baphomet on public grounds. (The Massachusetts-based group views Satan as a metaphor for rebellion, not a literal figure.)

According to a case summary, Doe became pregnant in February 2015 and came to a St. Louis clinic that May for an abortion, where the clinic offered to let Doe hear her fetus' heartbeat during an ultrasound and was given a booklet that "states that human life begins at conception."

She received the abortion after a required 72-hour waiting period, despite giving doctors a letter beforehand stating her "deeply held religious beliefs that a non-viable fetus is not a separate human being but is part of her body and that abortion of a non-viable fetus does not terminate the life of a separate, unique, living human being."

At question, the summary states, is whether Doe "sufficiently stated" her religious objection to the law. Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley's office, which is defending the state, has argued that Doe "failed to allege any conflict between her putative Satanic beliefs" and the state's law, NBC reports.


On Tuesday, according toThe St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Judge Laura Denvir Stith noted that while doctors are required to provide the booklet, Doe "wasn’t required to read it.”

“She wasn’t forced to say she agreed with it,” Stith said.

Defying ICE: Undocumented mother in Philly sanctuary church sends her children to school

Mexican immigrants, Yoselin Artillero Apolonio, 11 and her sister, Keyri,13, make their way out of the Church of the Advocate to attend school in Philadelphia, Monday, January 29, 2018. The girls family is living in sanctuary at the Church of the Advocate in North Philadelphia.

During six weeks of sanctuary inside the Church of the Advocate in North Philadelphia, Carmela Apolonio Hernandez weighed the options, reached a decision, and in Monday morning’s grayish gloom, carried it out.

She sent her four children to public school, placing them outside the protective stone walls and stained glass of the 131-year-old Episcopal church.

It was risky. They, like she, are undocumented immigrants under federal order to be deported to Mexico. Most people who take church sanctuary don’t dare step outside, knowing they could be immediately arrested by federal agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, better known as ICE.

But, Hernandez said in an interview at the church, the children need to move and play and engage with others their age. Most of all, she said, they are entitled to an education, the same as any other child in the United States.

“My children have a right to go to school, and we will make that happen,” the 36-year-old mother said in Spanish. “They have to have as normal a life as possible.”

A damp wind blew as about 50 friends, clergy, elected leaders and activists provided a loud, cheering send-off to the children — Edwin, 9, Yoselin, 11, Keyri, 13, and Fidel, 15 — leaving the cramped safety of the church for a waiting minivan. They were accompanied nu State Rep. Chris Rabb as they were whisked across the city streets.

The children awoke at 5 a.m. Monday, eager to get to school. Shortly after 8 a.m., they, family and friends gathered in a circle inside the church, holding hands, each calling out a single word they felt in their hearts.

Love, one man said. Solidarity, said another. Empathy. Perseverance. Freedom. Ancestors.

The crowd gathered outside the church’s front steps under a banner emblazoned, “Sanctuary Not Deportation.” They sang “This Little Light of Mine,” and yelled and clapped at each mention of the children’s names. The four left through the same door they had entered in mid-December, now clutching brand-new notebooks and fresh pens.

“Philadelphia has a heart big enough to embrace the entire world, to embrace Carmela and her family,” City Councilwoman Helen Gym told the assembled. “This family is loved and welcomed here in our city.”

Leaders of the New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia, an advocacy organization that assists the family, declined to specify which schools the children would attend.

“We wish our new students all the best as they begin their first day in our public schools,” Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said in a statement. “Our schools are safe places to learn, and we welcome every child and family with open arms regardless of background.”

This new bid to have both sanctuary and school poses a direct challenge to ICE, which has detained children as young as 10 and asserts the right to arrest undocumented immigrants anywhere. It promises to test the resolve of the Kenney administration, which has defended Philadelphia’s “sanctuary city” status in federal court, and that of a school system that says it stands strong for immigrant students. It will stretch the organizing power of immigrant groups already strained by the roiling changes in federal policy under President Trump.

“On one hand, I feel really happy, because I get to go back to school and breathe some fresh air,” said Keyri, eager to attend gym class and to study English, a favorite subject. “On the other hand, I’m a little worried ICE will get me.”

ICE agents are empowered to make traffic stops. But first they must reasonably suspect that the car carries undocumented immigrants. Those suspicions must be based upon specific, objective facts, not merely the physical appearance of the driver and passengers, according to immigration attorneys.

No ICE agents were in sight near the church on Monday. Advocates said the children were returned safely to the church at the end of the school day.

Hernandez and her children took sanctuary to block a forced return to Mexico that she says could get them killed by the same criminals who murdered other family members. It was the second time since Trump’s election that a person or family sought protection from deportation by moving into a Philadelphia church.

Today, nearly three dozen people live in sanctuary in churches around the country, seeking not only to shield themselves but to challenge the U.S. immigration system. They and their supporters say sanctuary is an act of civil disobedience, a means to protest the injustice of deportation.

To others, such as the hard-line Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in Washington, church sanctuary wrongly aims to thwart federal law and block authorities from carrying out their duties. A church setting doesn’t exempt anyone from the law, and church leaders could face potential criminal penalties for harboring undocumented people, FAIR officials say.

ICE guidelines generally deter agents from taking action at designated “sensitive locations,” which include schools, hospitals and churches. But agents have arrested people immediately outside those places, angering immigrant groups that accuse ICE and its companion agency, Customs and Border Protection, of violating their own policies.

In October, border patrol agents at a Texas checkpoint stopped an ambulance, followed it to a hospital, and waited as an undocumented 10-year-old girl underwent surgery — then took her away to a juvenile detention center. Rosa Maria Hernandez, who has cerebral palsy, was released after the ACLU filed a lawsuit.

In February 2017 in Los Angeles, Romulo Avelica-González was arrested by ICE agents after he dropped off his 12-year-old daughter at school. Another daughter sobbed as she captured the arrest on her cellphone — video that quickly went viral.

On Monday, when asked if ICE agents would attempt to detain the four children as they travel to school, a spokesman responded, “ICE does not speculate on pending or proposed enforcement actions but our sensitive location policy remains in effect.”

Part of the reason family supporters are driving the children to school is to be able to quickly move them from one sensitive location to another.

“If ICE takes my children and deports them, I will hold ICE responsible for anything that happens,” Hernandez said. “Because the reason we’re here is that our lives are in danger in Mexico.”

Hernandez had been ordered to leave this country by Dec. 15, following denial of the family’s petition for asylum. She spent eight days knocking on church doors in South Jersey and Pennsylvania before being welcomed at the Advocate, famed for its firm, decades-long posture on civil rights.

Camera icon JOSE F. MORENO
The Church of the Advocate in North Philadelphia, long a strong civil-rights leader.
The family came to the United States in August 2015, fleeing the violence of organized drug criminals who killed Carmela’s brother and two of her nephews. Her relatives were taxi drivers, she said, and were murdered when they were unable to pay an extortion fee.

She and her eldest daughter were threatened and assaulted by the same criminals, who came to their home and demanded money, she said. Terrified, Hernandez gathered the children and headed north, approaching U.S. immigration authorities at the border in San Diego and asking for asylum.

After three days in detention, the family was released to the care of a relative, an American citizen in Pennsylvania. The family later settled in Vineland, N.J.

Hernandez still wears a monitor that authorities locked to her ankle in California.

She is appealing the denial of asylum. Meanwhile, the family’s world has shrunk to a single room, formerly Classroom B in the church basement.

As days and weeks passed, Hernandez said, she saw how dearly her children wanted to be with others in an educational environment. Internet classes or a visiting tutor couldn’t provide that.

“I’m obviously worried,” Hernandez said. “If ICE touches my children, I would move earth, sky and water to get them back.”

Family of businessman facing deportation serves food to homeless while he’s on hunger strike

CLEVELAND - The family of a Youngstown businessman served food to the homeless while he's being held in ICE custody and is on a hunger strike.

Amer "Al" Adi Othman, 57, came to the U.S. from Jordan when he was 19 and was married to an American. The marriage ended, and years later U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement claimed that first marriage was fraudulent and grounds for deportation.

“It's been devastating, devastating,” said his wife of 30 years, Fidaa Musleh. “It's breaking a family up. It's tearing our family apart.”

Musleh and one of their four daughters, Lina Adi, served food at St. Herman House in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood Friday night, as they await Adi Othman’s deportation.

“It's to give back to the community and all of the people who have supported us in our time of need,” Adi said.

Adi Othman owns Downtown Circle, a Youngstown grocery store, deli and hookah bar. Musleh said her husband has a valid work permit and pays taxes, but after he exhausted all efforts to try to become a legal permanent resident, they bought tickets to return to Jordan in early January.

However, ICE claimed Adi Othman would receive a stay, she said, so they stayed. ICE then took him into custody during a check-in last week.

“We were leaving. Why would you turn around and do this? This is going to cost taxpayers so much money right now. Two weeks in jail, then they have to escort him back home. We were going,” Musleh said. “And to be ambushed and deceived and tricked the way they did doesn't make any sense.”

ICE spokesman Khaalid Walls said the agency has chosen not to grant a stay of removal in the case after comprehensive review, including consideration of a Congressional request for an investigative report.

"The courts have uniformly held that Mr. Othman does not have a legal basis to remain in the U.S.,” Walls said in a statement. “Mr. Othman will remain in ICE custody pending removal.”

Adi Othman’s family said they do not understand why he was taken into custody when he was willing to leave on his own, and at this point, they simply want him to get to Jordan.

“We're going to keep fighting,” Musleh said. “And not only are we fighting for him, we're fighting because there's so many other people that don't have voices that don't have community support like my husband.”

Abington man accused of weaponizing fidget spinner

An Abington man is facing assault and weapons charges after he used a fidget spinner -- the popular toy that purports to focus one’s mind -- to concentrate something else: the force of his punches, the Enterprise reported.

Police responded to 332 Woodlands Way, an apartment complex, about 9:40 p.m. on Jan 21 after receiving reports of an unwanted guest, according to the police incident report. The dispatch officer could hear a man and woman yelling at each other and a loud car horn beeping in the background, according to a police report.

When they arrived, police saw a black Acura flee the area and another officer was asked to stop the car, the report stated.

A short time later, an officer found a disheveled-looking Abington resident, David Mcilvene, who was bleeding from the face and ear, where it appeared an earring had been torn out. Mcilvene told officers that he had been assaulted and his attackers left in a black Acura.

Mcilvene told the officer that a man, Jake Sprague, and his own ex-girlfriend, whose name was removed from the report, had shown up at the complex and started shouting for him to come outside. Mcilvene and Sprague had reportedly had an altercation at a local nightclub in the past.

Mcilvene said he had also been receiving text messages from his ex-girlfriend’s cellphone all morning and had discovered Sprague had been the author.

Mcilvene went down to the parking lot to protect his vehicle from being vandalized and a verbal altercation ensued before Sprague pulled Mcilvene through the Acura’s window and began punching him.

During the altercation, Sprague separately told officers, Mcilvene used a black metal fidget spinner toy as “brass knuckles,” a weapon designed to enhance the power of a punch, the police report said. The fidget spinner toy quickly became popular after it was released to market last year.

A search of Mcilvene’s pants pocket produced the device. “The holes (on the device) allowed Mcilvene to place two fingers inside and grip the item in the exact same manner as ‘brass knuckles,’ the report read.

Sprague alleged that the fight occurred after Mcilvene entered the back door of the car, not through the front driver’s side window.

Mcilvene was issued a court summons to face charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, carrying a dangerous weapon, and affray, while Sprague was summonsed on charges of assault and battery and affray.

Fitness tracking app Strava gives away location of secret US army bases

Sensitive information about the location and staffing of military bases and spy outposts around the world has been revealed by a fitness tracking company.

The details were released by Strava in a data visualisation map that shows all the activity tracked by users of its app, which allows people to record their exercise and share it with others.

The map, released in November 2017, shows every single activity ever uploaded to Strava – more than 3 trillion individual GPS data points, according to the company. The app can be used on various devices including smartphones and fitness trackers like Fitbit to see popular running routes in major cities, or spot individuals in more remote areas who have unusual exercise patterns.

However, over the weekend military analysts noticed that the map is also detailed enough that it potentially gives away extremely sensitive information about a subset of Strava users: military personnel on active service.

Nathan Ruser, an analyst with the Institute for United Conflict Analysts, first noted the lapse. The heatmap “looks very pretty” he wrote, but is “not amazing for Op-Sec” – short for operational security. “US Bases are clearly identifiable and mappable.”

“If soldiers use the app like normal people do, by turning it on tracking when they go to do exercise, it could be especially dangerous,” Ruser added, highlighting one particular track that “looks like it logs a regular jogging route.”

“In Syria, known coalition (ie US) bases light up the night,” writes analyst Tobias Schneider. “Some light markers over known Russian positions, no notable colouring for Iranian bases … A lot of people are going to have to sit through lectures come Monday morning.”

In locations like Afghanistan, Djibouti and Syria, the users of Strava seem to be almost exclusively foreign military personnel, meaning that bases stand out brightly. In Helmand province, Afghanistan, for instance, the locations of forward operating bases can be clearly seen, glowing white against the black map. 

Zooming in on one of the larger bases clearly reveals its internal layout, as mapped out by the tracked jogging routes of numerous soldiers. The base itself is not visible on the satellite views of commercial providers such as Google Maps or Apple’s Maps, yet it can be clearly seen through Strava.

Outside direct conflict zones, potentially sensitive information can still be gleaned. For instance, a map of Homey Airport, Nevada – the US Air Force base commonly known as Area 51 – records a lone cyclist taking a ride from the base along the west edge of Groom Lake, marked on the heatmap by a thin red line.

RAF Mount Pleasant in the Falkland Islands is lit up brightly on the heatmap, reflecting the exercise regimes of the thousand British personnel there – as are nearby Lake Macphee and Gull Island Pond, apparently popular swimming spots.

Heatmap of people exercising at RAF Mount Pleasant in the Falkland Islands.
 RAF Mount Pleasant in the Falkland Islands. Photograph: Strava heatmap

When Strava released the heatmap, an updated version of one it had previously published in 2015, it announced that “this update includes six times more data than before – in total 1 billion activities from all Strava data through September 2017. Our global heatmap is the largest, richest, and most beautiful dataset of its kind. It is a direct visualisation of Strava’s global network of athletes.”

Strava demonstrated that the new heatmap was detailed enough to see kiteboarding in Mexico, to track the route of the Camino de Santiago across northern Spain and to see the sea route of the Ironman triathalon in Kona, Hawaii. Perhaps the closest to the current operational security issues that it noted, however, was the layout of the Burning Man festival in the Nevadan desert. “The unique pentagonal pattern of Burning Man’s pop-up city is forever etched into the Heatmap, thanks to all the runners and cyclists who have used Strava to explore it,” the company wrote.


Millennials: 1 in 6 now have $100,000 socked away

Millennials move in with mom and dad to save for a new home. USA Today

The perception that Millennials — Americans between the ages of 23 and 37 — lack savvy when it comes to saving for retirement, budgeting and setting up and sticking to a financial plan is showing signs of being outdated, noted the survey, made available exclusively to USA TODAY.

Despite many of these young Americans coming of age a decade ago during the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression and despite being saddled with high student loan debt, Millennials appear to be getting their financial lives in order and taking money matters more seriously.

Sixteen percent say they have $100,000 or more in savings, up from 8% in 2015. And nearly half (47%) have $15,000 socked away, up from 33% in 2015.

"Despite stereotypes of Millennials as being foolish with money and not long-term planners," they are actually behaving "quite responsibly" when it comes to money, says Andrew Plepler, global head of environmental, social and governance at Bank of America, summarizing the findings of the bank's 2018 Better Money Habits Millennial Report released Tuesday. "They deserve more credit. Millennials are actually doing better than you — and they — might think."

About two of three (63%) of Millennials surveyed say they "are saving," which is in line with 64% of Generation X but shy of 75% of Baby Boomers who set money aside.

More importantly, 54% of Millennials say they have a budget, with nearly three of four (73%) saying they stick to the budget each month. And another 57% say they have a "savings goal," which is higher than the 42% of Gen Xers and Boomers who say they are saving with a goal in mind.

Those better habits are translating into more sizable account balances — and more financial security.

About 60% say they "feel financially secure."

"Their financial habits have become more disciplined," Plepler says. "They've built it into their lifestyles."

Aside from saving for an emergency, which 64% said was a "top priority," half (49%) said saving for retirement and a third (33%) said saving to buy a house were their top savings goals.

Watch the video: https://www.usatoday.com/videos/money/2017/08/01/millennials-buying-homes/104075234/

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