Washington Post reported yesterday that President  Trump thought he had struck a deal with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the recent NATO meeting for the release of American pastor Andrew Brunson who has been held by Turkey for two years on supposed terrorism charges:The deal was a carom shot, personally sealed by Trump, to trade a Turkish citizen imprisoned on terrorism charges in Israel for Brunson’s release. But it apparently fell apart on Wednesday, when a Turkish court, rather than sending the pastor home, ordered that he be transferred to house arrest while his trial continues.Thursday morning, after a rancorous phone call with Erdogan, Trump struck back. The United States “will impose large sanctions” on Turkey, he tweeted. “This innocent man of faith should be released immediately.”

Source: http://religionclause.blogspot.com/2018/07/deal-to-free-american-pastor-held-by.html

To weaken protections for our unique animals in favor of industry is short-term thinking at its very worstThe Trump administration and its conservative allies in Congress have consistently touted their efforts to “free” the American economy by rolling back regulations. The vice-president, Mike Pence, has said that the administration will deregulate so aggressively that we should all “buckle up”. Pence must have forgotten that seatbelts were instituted as a safety regulation that has saved countless people from injury and death.So far, the push for regulatory rollbacks has focused mainly on public health, safety and worker protections. (These vaunted rollbacks are still in progress – or held up in the courts – rather than accomplished.) If anti-regulation politicians and lobbyists are successful, they will significantly reduce restrictions on air and water pollution, industrial waste, toxic chemicals, and hazards in the workplace. Continue reading…

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jul/30/trump-administration-endangered-species-rollbacks-threat

In Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. v. Chino Valley Unified School District Board of Education, (9th Cir., July 25, 2018), the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the district court that a California school board’s prayer policy at board meetings violates the Establishment Clause. The court said in part:The invocations to start the open portions of Board meetings are not within the legislative prayer tradition that allows certain types of prayer to open legislative sessions. This is not the sort of solemnizing and unifying prayer, directed at lawmakers themselves and conducted before an audience of mature adults free from coercive pressures to participate, that the legislative-prayer tradition contemplates…. Instead, these prayers typically take place before groups of schoolchildren whose attendance is not truly voluntary and whose relationship to school district officials, including the Board, is not one of full parity…..Instead of the legislative-prayer analysis, we apply the three-pronged Establishment Clause test articulated in Lemon v. Kurtzman…. The Chino Valley Board’s prayer policy and practice fails the Lemon test and is therefore unconstitutional.Los Angeles Times reports on the decision.

Source: http://religionclause.blogspot.com/2018/07/9th-circuit-school-board-invocations.html