Group Sues to Place Marijuana Amendment on Arkansas Ballot
On Aug. 4, attorneys for Responsible Growth Arkansas filed a lawsuit against the Arkansas Secretary of State arguing that a proposed amendment to legalize marijuana should appear on the November ballot. On Aug. 3, the State Board of Election Commissioners had voted unanimously not to certify the marijuana measure for the ballot after determining that the measure’s ballot title was insufficient.
Funding in support of the measure has come primarily from medical marijuana businesses. If enacted, the proposed amendment would make sweeping changes to Arkansas’ medical marijuana laws and also allow medical marijuana businesses to grow and sell recreational marijuana. It is unclear just how far-reaching some of these changes to the Arkansas Constitution may be. (familycouncil.org)
Ark. Senator Proposes Preventing CCP From Buying U.S. Farmland
Last week U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R/Ark.) introduced legislation to prevent members of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from purchasing farmland in the United States. According to a US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) report, approximately 1.1 million acres of agricultural land in Arkansas is foreign-held — mostly from Canada, Netherlands, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom. Arkansas Act 1046 of 2021 generally requires foreign landowners to file reports with the Arkansas Department of Agriculture.
The CCP has blocked internet access for its people, caused food shortages in its own country, engaged in espionage, allegedly tried to influence public policy in America and imposed forced abortions and sterilizations on minorities. With that in mind, it is concerning to many Americans that the Chinese Communist Party might try to purchase and control farmland in the U.S.
The Securing America’s Land from Foreign Interference Act prohibits members of the CCP from purchasing any land in the United States. China’s agricultural investments in countries around the globe grew more than tenfold from 2009 to 2016. China’s Ministry of Agriculture claims the country had over 1,300 agricultural, forestry and fisheries enterprises with registered overseas investments of $26 billion at the end of 2016. Chinese investments in U.S. agriculture may provide the CCP with undue leverage over U.S. supply chains and access to sensitive information critical to U.S. national security.
While Chinese entities held slightly less than one percent of all foreign-held acres in the U.S. in 2020, the volume of their holdings increased dramatically over the last decade. According to USDA reports, Chinese investors’ holdings of U.S. agricultural land surged from 13,720 acres in 2010 to 352,140 acres in 2020. The USDA’s most recent report on foreign landholding through Dec. 31, 2020 shows foreign investors now hold an interest in nearly 37.6 million acres of agricultural land in the U.S. — an area larger than the state of Iowa.
Approximately 14 states have some level of foreign ownership restriction, yet there are no federal restrictions on the amount of private U.S. agricultural land that can be foreign-owned. Land grabbing by foreign actors will become a greater threat in the coming years. With an aging population of American farmers (one-third over the age of 65), millions of acres of U.S. farmland are expected to change hands in the next decade. (familycouncil.org)
New Pro-Life Movie “Lifemark” Promotes Adoption
A new pro-life film “Lifemark,” based on the true story of a young man reuniting with his birth mother, is coming to theaters on Sept. 9. Starring Kirk Cameron and produced by the Kendrick Brothers (“War Room,” “Fireproof”), the movie celebrates the life-giving choice of adoption through the story of Louisiana native David Scotton and his family.
Adopted as an infant, Scotton grows up in a loving home. At age 18 and about to graduate high school, he unexpectedly receives a message from his birth mother, asking to meet him. With the encouragement of his adoptive parents, the young man embarks on a journey that reveals the truth about his past, including his mother’s brave choice as a scared young teenager. The film is based on a true story, as told in the documentary “I Lived on Parker Avenue,” produced by Louisiana Right to Life.
The film is rated PG-13 for thematic elements. The creators said the rating is based on a scene when a woman makes a decision inside an abortion facility, but “nothing shown or discussed is graphic.”
“This movie celebrates everything we are believing in: faith, family, freedom, forgiveness and love,” Kendrick told Focus on the Family in a video on Facebook. “We want to ask if you would please join us in praying that God mightily uses this movie to impact our culture for such a time as this.” (lifenews.org)
Dept. of Education Title IX Changes Proposed
The Biden administration’s attempt to change a half-century-old civil rights law protecting all students from discrimination on the basis of sex to include sexual orientation and gender identity is “not fair to students,” according to a conservative critic. Under a new rule proposed by the U.S. Department of Education, colleges would be required to identify students based not on biological sex, but on their preferred gender identity.
The proposed rule was opened for public comment on July 12, with the comment period ending on Sept. 12. Title IX of the Educational Amendments Act of 1972 is the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in educational institutions or any activity receiving federal funding. Under Title IX, “‘No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.’’ The law does not apply to education institutions controlled by a religious organization if the law’s application would not be consistent with the religious tenets of the organization.
Critics believe this will only serve to undermine those students for whom Title IX was made to protect. The Department of Education issued a “Notice of Interpretation” last year announcing that it has determined that Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibiting discrimination based on sex also “prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.” The notice cited the United States Supreme Court decision Bostock v. Clayton County, which found that discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as justification.
Other organizations, such as The American College of Pediatricians, also accused the department of rewriting federal civil rights law with the notice, saying that it “mandates a false definition of sex upon American students.” “Schools will now be forced to allow biologically male students access to all female-only spaces,” stated the American College of Pediatricians. “They will be housed with females during overnight school trips and events, participate in female-only sports, and displace females from female-only sports teams. This interpretation is unscientific and a clear threat to the health and safety of female students.” (christianpost.com)
Boy Dies After Doctors Stop His Life Support
Archie Battersbee, the boy whose parents fought a widely-followed legal battle to stop a British hospital from removing his life support, died Saturday. The Catholic News Agency reports the 12-year-old’s parents recently lost their legal fight, and the Royal London Hospital removed Archie’s life support last week.
Archie had been unconscious since April 7 when he was found at home in Southend, Essex, England, with a ligature over his head, ITV News reported. Archie’s mom said she thinks her son was trying an online challenge. Archie suffered extensive brain damage and doctors believed he was brain dead, but the hospital never conducted a final test to determine if his brain stem was dead, CNA reports. His parents presented a video to the courts showing the boy grabbing his mother’s hand and crying, the report continues.
Archie’s doctors at Royal London Hospital had maintained that the boy, whose heart was still beating, was “very likely” brain-stem dead, but a conclusive test was never performed. A UK High Court judge granted the doctors’ request to perform the test, but the test — required by the UK’s Code of Practice — was not carried out because doctors determined there was a danger it could produce a false negative result.
His family, which opposed the brain stem test because they believed it to be too dangerous, argued that Archie needed more time to recover to whatever extent possible. In June, the judge agreed that the hospital could remove Archie’s life support. His parents appealed, but neither a British appeals court nor the European Court of Human Rights granted their request to stop the hospital.
Archie’s case has renewed calls for reform in the government-run British health system, especially regarding parents’ rights. Archie’s story is the latest in a growing list of legal battles between families and hospitals involving medical treatment for patients with brain damage. In 2017, Charlie Gard’s case made international headlines after a London hospital acted to and later succeeded in removing the baby boy’s life support against his parents’ wishes. Gard’s parents wanted to transfer him to another hospital that was willing to continue his care. (lifenews.org)