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Religion Today Daily Headlines – June 13, 2013

Religion Today Daily Headlines – June 13, 2013

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.

In today's edition:

  • ACLU Sues Obama Administration Over NSA Surveillance
  • Outlook for 2013 Teen Summer Jobs: Bleak
  • Teacher in Egypt Sentenced for 'Defaming' Islam
  • Texas Abortionist the Target of Request for Full Investigation


ACLU Sues Obama Administration Over NSA Surveillance

The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the Obama administration over the National Security Administration's massive phone data collection program, USA Today reports. In its lawsuit, the ACLU said the program that harvests phone calls violates the rights of all Americans. "The program goes far beyond even the permissive limits set by the Patriot Act and represents a gross infringement of the freedom of association and the right to privacy," said Jameel Jaffer, the ACLU's deputy legal director. Meanwhile, Google sought permission to disclose more details about another contested NSA program, one that allows the government to collect online information from non-U.S. citizens. Additionally, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, told reporters she has asked Gen. Keith Alexander -- the head of the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command -- to declassify more information about its phone and Internet surveillance programs. The goal is "so that we can talk about them, because I think they're really helpful," she said. President Obama and aides have defended the programs, saying they have helped prevent terrorist attacks and are subject to oversight by Congress and a special (and secret) court. "They make a difference in our capacity to anticipate and prevent possible terrorist activity," Obama said, also citing "strict supervision by all three branches of government. ... They do not involve listening to people's phone calls, do not involve reading the e-mails of U.S. citizens or U.S. residents absent further action by a federal court that is entirely consistent with what we would do, for example, in a criminal investigation."

Outlook for 2013 Teen Summer Jobs: Bleak

While the overall job market is showing improvement, the employment prospects for teens looking for summer work remain unusually bleak, with one in four job-hunting teens idle, Jim Liebelt reports. Teen unemployment was 24.5 percent last month, more than triple the national jobless rate of 7.6 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those unemployment rates reflect only those people who are actively looking for work, not those who have given up or never looked in the first place. Joblessness among teens 16-19 traditionally is far greater than the national average, but their current unemployment rate is "really high," said Diana Carew, an economist for the Progressive Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. Though the economy is rebounding, the teen unemployment rate has remained virtually unchanged over the past two years. Economists say the trend is driven by a still slow economy in which older adults and people in their early- to mid-20s compete with teens for low-level jobs. Only a third of teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19 look for paid work today, according to BLS data. Half of working-age teens participated in the labor force during the late 1990s.

Teacher in Egypt Sentenced for 'Defaming' Islam

A judge in Upper Egypt found a Christian teacher guilty of defaming Islam and levied a massive fine against her after prohibiting her lawyers from presenting a single witness during the trial, Morning Star News reports. Dimyana Obeid Abd Al-Nour escaped jail time, but she was fined 100,000 Egyptian pounds (US$14,270), far beyond her ability to pay. She is on the verge of a nervous breakdown, said her father, Ebed Abd Al-Nour. He said his daughter did nothing wrong. "I am very upset right now by the sentence," he said. "My daughter is innocent and should not have been given such a sentence." Al-Nour a 24-year-old first-year teacher in Egypt, made less than US$300 a month before she lost her position in the wake of the accusations against her. Her family is poor, and she could be sent to jail for failure to pay a court-ordered fine if unable to find the money. Muslims created a clamor in the courtroom that put intense pressure on the judge, said a human rights advocate who was surprised that the guilty verdict did not send her to prison. "I personally was expecting a prison sentence, but thank God she was only given a fine," said Mohammed Noubi, a human rights advocate with the Luxor office of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. "There was a lot of pressure and uproar inside the courtroom."

Texas Abortionist the Target of Request for Full Investigation

Texas state Rep. Phil King is calling for a full investigation of late-term abortion doctor Douglas KarpenChristian News Service reports. The call for an investigation comes after King viewed a video recorded by the pro-life group Life Dynamics, in which three of Karpen's former employees admitted to participating in numerous instances in which babies were born alive and killed during abortion procedures at his Houston clinic. Life Dynamics officials said the actions of Karpen were not much different from the actions of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell, who was recently given a life sentence for his crimes. Rep. King informed Life Dynamics that his office mailed the DVD to the homicide division of the Houston Police Department, as well as letters to the executive director of the Texas Medical Board and the commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, requesting a full investigation. The letters were co-signed by 20 Texas lawmakers. "We strongly support a full investigation into the allegations of Dr. Karpen," King wrote. "As a state, we must ensure that the health and safety of women and children are being protected by laws and regulations in place." Mark Crutcher, president of Life Dynamics, said, "If the abortion lobby thinks this issue is going away, they are literally whistling past the graveyard." Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has demanded a full-scale investigation into Karpen, and the Texas Department of State Health Services said of the investigation, "This is a very high priority for us."

Publication date: June 13, 2013

Religion Today Daily Headlines – June 13, 2013