Signs and Wonders

Signs and Wonders 07.23

Newsworthy

Cutting NPR. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., last week said National Public Radio should not receive taxpayer funding. The comments express a common sentiment among conservatives, though Rubio generated a bit of controversy by making the comments on NPR itself, on the nationally syndicated Diane Rehm Show. About 2 percent of NPR's funding comes from federal government grants, and some local NPR affiliates receive money either directly or indirectly from local government sources. According to NPR's most recent financial statements, the network had revenue of $159 million and net income of $18.9 million. In addition, NPR has an endowment of $258 million. With those kinds of numbers, it's hard to argue that NPR needs the money. Rubio said that private donations should support NPR. He added that a half-century ago, government funding for a media entity like NPR might have been necessary, but "today there is no shortage of options" for news and opinion. "I have 300 stations on my satellite radio," Rubio said, including one devoted exclusively to NPR programming.

Scientologists and forced abortions. The Church of Scientology is facing new accusations from scores of women who say they have been pressured or coerced into having abortions against their will. Laura DeCrescenzo, a New Mexico resident, is leading the way with a lawsuit against the so-called church. She claims the church forced her to have an abortion at age 17 so she could keep working extreme hours without interruption. "I think my case is too unbelievable for most people to grasp," she said. "It's almost too unbelievable for me. The fact that I started in the Sea Org [a division of the church] at 12 and all that happened, it's just incredible." Other women have come forward. Maureen Bolstad, former Sea Org member, said in a 2009 interview on KESQ TV News, "If a woman gets pregnant, and does not abort the child, then they are declared a suppressive person because the Church of Scientology International did not want to pay for childcare." Jenna Miscavige-Hill, another former member, talked with ABC's Nightline about her experience. Hill said that "if you get pregnant when you're in the Sea Org you either have to leave, or you get an abortion. I know women who have had up to four abortions."

Aurora and gun control. Cinemark, which owns the theater where the Aurora, Colo., massacre took place, has a strict no-guns policy. The city of Aurora has at least eight laws restricting firearms, including a concealed-carry ban. Alas, the net effect of these rules/laws was to leave 300 law-abiding people unarmed and defenseless against a murderer who likely would have found a way to get weapons no matter how strong the laws forbidding them. I am not making a purely libertarian argument here. Laws are necessary and good. Properly conceived and enforced, they protect the innocent and help bring the guilty to justice. But it is hard to imagine why a man who has no regard for a law against murder would obey a law against guns. On the other hand, law-abiding gun owners who were forced to leave their guns at home might have prevented or at least diminished tragedy. It has now become obvious that the Colorado gunman spent months planning his murderous spree. Here's an interesting question to contemplate: Did the alleged murderer James Holmes choose this movie theatre as the site for his rampage precisely because he knew there would be no guns there to deter him?

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Marching under the rainbow flag. For the first time ever, U.S. military personnel wore their uniforms at a gay pride parade. The Pentagon granted a "one time" exception to the military dress code. According to Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, "It's a radical departure from the long-time policy which states that uniformed soldiers cannot provide a platform for a 'political message.' What could be more political than rallying alongside half-naked men, women, and drag queens?" About 300 service members signed up to march in San Diego. One of them, an Air Force recruiter, gave the Associated Press a sound bite that was widely picked up by other media: "[T]o be able to march in uniform-wow! I'm speechless." So were-for different reasons-millions of Americans who just a few years ago could not have imagined such a day coming to pass.

Warren Cole Smith
Warren Cole Smith

Warren, who lives in Charlotte, N.C., is vice president of WORLD News Group and the host of the radio program Listening In. Follow Warren on Twitter @WarrenColeSmith.

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