CATHOLIC VALUES COLUMNIST
Vice President Pence Speaks at Pro-Life March
“Life is winning in America and today is a celebration in that progress,” said Vice President Mike Pence on Friday, Jan. 27, in a speech given at the March for Life in Washington. Pence was the first vice president or president to ever speak at the March for Life in its 43-year span. Other speakers included NFL star Benjamin Watson, Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, Kellyanne Conway, Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa. Jeanne Mancini, the president of the March for Life said; “Each of our speakers exemplifies this year’s theme, ‘the power of one’, in a beautiful way.” The first March for Life drew a crowd of 20,000, but it has since grown to around 650,000 in recent years.
Trump Suspends Refugee Programs
President Donald Trump instituted “extreme vetting” of immigrants to the US from many Middle Eastern countries Friday, Jan. 27, by signing an executive order. This order, titled “Protection Of The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States,” suspends immigrants from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia from entering the US for 90 days. It also suspends the US Refugee Admissions Programs for 120 days, and establishes safe zones in Syria for those citizens displaced by war. This measure also caps the amount of immigrants admitted per year at 50,000 which is a great decrease from the current rate of 110,000. Priorities will be made for those who are religious minorities, such as Christians. Trump said, “We want to ensure that we are not admitting into our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas. We only want to admit those into our country who will support our country and love deeply our people.” Opponents claim that the rule is discriminatory, but the president says that it will help to protect the US against terrorism.
Federal Judge Blocks Texas Fetal Burial Rules
A federal judge blocked Texas rules on the treatment of fetal remains again on Friday, Jan. 27. The rules mandated that fetal remains from abortions or miscarriages must be buried or cremated, rather than treated as biological medical waste. US District Judge Sam Sparks, who has previously argued that the rules had public health benefits, said that attorneys will have 30 days to plan scheduling before a full trial date. The rules were first proposed in July, and were blocked in part because Sparks viewed the rules as “100 percent political” after hearing testimony. Groups are suing because of the rules, saying that cremation and burial are too costly for women to pay, while Texas argues that the rules would allow for mass burial or cremation which would greatly lower the cost.
Mexican President Cancels Meeting with Trump
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto cancelled a meeting with US President Donald Trump Thursday, Jan. 26 after tension over Trump’s border plans. On Thursday morning, Trump tweeted “If Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall, then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting.” Later that day, the Mexican president announced that he would not be attending the meeting. Peña Nieto has been strong on his stance that Mexico will not pay for the border wall, which House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi calls a “delusional fiction.” Peña Nieto also announced that he had ordered government agencies to better protect the rights of immigrants in the US. On Wednesday, Jan. 25, Trump signed two executive orders that require the building of a wall on the Mexican border, a boost to border patrol and more immigration enforcement officers who carry out deportations. Mexican diplomats seek to improve the relationship between the US and Mexico despite the current border disagreement.
“Anti Coup Squad” In Venezuela
Hugo Chavez’s chosen successor, President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela, continues his predecessor’s socialist regime by running an “anti-coup command.” This committee is made up of five firebrand Chavistas whose aim is to protect the regime from overthrow or attack. This measure was announced Sunday, Jan. 8, and since then around six opposition members have been put in jail, most of them under illegal weapons charges. All those arrested are suspected to be involved with what is known as the “Alcatraz Plan,” involving a way to unseat Maduro and replace him with opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, who is currently jailed. Rocío San Miguel, director of non-governmental organization Control Ciudadano, is concerned about the command, saying that, “Anyone can fall under the selective sphere of the anti-coup command.” The opposition’s Democratic Unity announced Thursday, Jan. 26, that it would seek new dialogue and mediators and abandon its current Vatican-brokered talks.
Syrian Military Regains Damascus Water Supply
The Syrian military reported that it has regained control of Damascus’s water supply. The water shortage has affected over five million people living in the area since December, but the national flag is now flying over the facility. According to activists, the military entered the area under an agreement that the rebels would lay down their weapons or be evacuated. The water shortage started on December 23 when the state-run Damascus Water Authority cut the supply, blaming rebels for contaminating it with diesel. The rebels deny this claim and instead say that “regime bombardment destroyed the infrastructure,” according to BBC. The water supply plant lies in a battlefront of the Syrian Civil war. Government forces are reported as moving into the area as the rebels withdrew.