Roe v. Wade Out…Infanticide In?

Are states like California and Maryland really getting ready to make it legal to kill babies after they’re born? Or is the infanticide outcry overblown?

Although the idea that infanticide could happen and is happening in America is new to many people, it’s not new to me. As Special Counsel to the Thomas More Society, I represented David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress in litigation against Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation (NAF). Planned Parenthood and NAF sued David after he published a large-scale undercover investigation revealing that Planned Parenthood had been selling aborted baby body parts for profit and was regularly performing illegal partial-birth abortions to get more “intact specimens.” During the federal litigation, my partner Chuck LiMandri and I deposed the key abortionists involved and cross-examined them at trial. We’ve come face-to-face with the people who admit that babies are born alive in America and harvested for their tissue and organs.

The promotion of legalized infanticide is not unheard of in America. Ethicist Peter Singer, for instance, promotes the idea that for twenty-eight days after birth, it’s morally acceptable in certain circumstances to kill the child. In 2019, Virginia’s Democrat governor, Ralph Northam, made headlines when he suggested that doctors could have a “conversation” with parents of a newborn to decide whether that child should live.

Now the state of California is on the verge of passing Assembly Bill 2223, which will expressly make such conversations legal. Sponsors and supporters claim that the bill is intended only to ensure that women who’ve had miscarriages and abortions are not criminally prosecuted. But that is already the law. So what is really going on here? I’ve looked into the proposed legislation and have concluded that there is cause for alarm.

It’s important to consider the legislative context. Why was this bill proposed, and who proposed it? In September 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom helped form the California Future of Abortion Council, whose stated mission was to make California an abortion “sanctuary state” if Roe v. Wade were overturned (which now appears certain). The Council released a document listing “legislative, executive, and administrative actions for state policymakers to implement in order to meet the needs of people seeking abortions.” In line with these goals, on April 20, 2022, the California Assembly Health Committee passed AB-2223.

According to its proponents, including its sponsor, Buffy Wicks, AB-2223 is merely intended to ensure that women will not be “criminally prosecuted for having miscarriages or stillbirths or for self-managing an abortion.” Wicks advocates expanding abortion in California and making it available to women from out of state: “We may have 1.4 million women from out of state showing up on our doorstep seeking care. And if we do, how are we going to handle that? . . . I’m very excited that we’re even engaging in this conversation.”

But Wicks is just the public face of AB-2223, which is really the product of a host of large and powerful organizations pushing for universal abortion on demand: ACLU California Action, Black Women for Wellness, California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice, NARAL Pro-Choice California, and Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California.

A close look at this bill reveals that it has nothing to do with protecting innocent mothers from being prosecuted for a miscarriage or a botched abortion. Rather, the bill aims to weaponize the Golden State with radically expanded abortion access in response to recent pro-life legislative victories in other states and the Supreme Court’s anticipated dismantling of Roe v. Wade in the pending Dobbs case.

AB-2223 is part of a national movement to de-criminalize perinatal or infant death. Maryland recently proposed a similar bill. Make no mistake about it: AB-2223 intentionally opens the door to infanticide. Its key provision, §123457, immunizes both the mother and anyone who “aids or assists a pregnant person in excising their rights under this article” if there is a “perinatal death due to a pregnancy-related cause.”

What is “perinatal death,” and what is a “pregnancy-related cause”? AB-2223 is conspicuously silent on these questions. But California law makes clear elsewhere that the perinatal period includes the time after birth.

AB-2223 is open to a host of interpretations that would allow “perinatal death” due to a “pregnancy-related cause.” For example, as noted by Dr. Vansen Huang, an OB-GYN with thirty-one years’ experience who publicly and powerfully opposed AB-2223, “the most obvious pregnancy related issue is that there’s a baby. . . the pregnancy related cause was that there’s a baby.” Dr. Huang further notes that the bill’s vague language could also provide immunity to a father who intentionally causes a perinatal death.

If the bill were not intended to legalize infanticide, the legislators could have made that clear, but they chose not to.

In addition to legalizing infanticide, there are at least six other dangerous aspects of the bill:

  1. The bill provides immunity to the mother and anyone who assists her in the death of her child at any stage of pregnancy, apparently for any reason.
  1. It legalizes self-induced abortions without restriction, even after twenty weeks gestation.
  1. Coroners will no longer have the duty to inquire into and determine the circumstances, manner, and cause of self-induced or criminal abortion.
  1. Fetal deaths in general will no longer be handled like other deaths without medical attendance—thus providing a legal shroud covering up infanticide.
  1. Anyone who denies or interferes with the “rights” created by AB-2223 may be sued for damages. Even threatening someone with criminal prosecution for causing the death of a child in the womb or “perinatally” can be construed as a hate crime.
  1. The bill replaces the term “woman” with “individual” or “pregnant person” to conform to the new woke gender-neutral ideology.

Are the concerns of the pro-life community unfounded? Absolutely not. Infanticide is currently happening in America. Most recently, in March 2022, the fully intact bodies of five babies were discovered at an abortion facility in Washington, D.C. Based on expert review of photographs of the bodies, it appears these babies were killed by infanticide or illegal late-term abortion. Nor can we forget Dr. Kermit Gosnell, the butcher who was convicted of first-degree murder of three born-alive infants at his abortion mill in Philadelphia.

As noted above, David Daleiden and CMP’s investigation documented that Planned Parenthood facilities across the U.S., including California, regularly engage in illegal partial-birth abortions to sell intact fetal tissue. For example, during CMP’s interview of Dr. DeShawn Taylor, a former Planned Parenthood medical director in Arizona, Taylor candidly discussed the performance of late-term abortions at twenty-four weeks to procure marketable fetal tissue. As Taylor explained: “We have the people who do our paperwork for the fetal death certificates, they email us calling them ‘babies.’ Baby this, baby that, baby so-and-so, and I’m like, that’s creepy!” She continued: “In Arizona, if the fetus comes out with any signs of life, we’re supposed to transport it to the hospital.” But in making that assessment, she admitted that “the key is, you need to pay attention to who’s in the room, right?”

CMP’s investigation also revealed that Planned Parenthood doctors try to get around the federal law banning partial-birth abortions by simply checking the right boxes on clinical documentation. As Planned Parenthood abortionist Dr. Suzie Prabhakaran explains, “you know, to comply with the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban, you basically have to say: ‘I intend to utilize dismemberment techniques for this procedure. So, every time you do a procedure, that’s how you document.” CMP investigators also found evidence that Planned Parenthood in Orange County would illegally tailor the abortion procedure in order to procure intact, marketable fetuses.

After the draft opinion reversing Roe was leaked to the public, President Biden told reporters, “Roe says what all basic, mainstream religions have historically concluded, that . . . the existence of a human life and being is a question. . . . Is it at the moment of conception? Is it six months? Is it six weeks? Is it ‘quickening’ like Aquinas argued?” In fact, it’s not an open question. Science is unmistakably clear that life begins at conception—and abortion in the womb is just as evil as the infanticide that AB-2223 seeks to legalize. But pro-abortion activists no longer justify their position by trying to argue that an unborn baby is not a human being; they think they have the right to kill that child anyway—which is why infanticide is their logical next step.

Once Roe is overruled, the battle will shift to the states—and many of them will try to pass bills like AB-2223. These efforts must be vigorously opposed. AB-2233 undeniably opens the door to violation of the U.S. and California Constitutions as well as the Federal Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, which extends legal protection to an infant born alive after a botched abortion. Nonetheless, it’s proceeding to the Appropriations Committee and then the Assembly floor for a vote.

Very soon, this bill could become law in California. It employs the veil of ambiguity to sanction the killing of born-alive infants. Its proponents claim we’re crazy for saying they need only amend the bill to state expressly that infanticide is still, and always will be, illegal. If that does not happen, the true legislative intent will be exposed, and AB-2223 will be challenged—and soundly defeated—in court.

The Lie Of Lack

The women on both sides of my family loved to play cards. My grandmother and my aunt introduced me to all sorts of fun games. Most of them I’ve forgotten, but I do remember that my favorite was War, and my least favorite, by far, was Old Maid.

I don’t remember if we had one of those vintage versions in which the Old Maid looks sinister (rather than the more modern goofy version) or if I merely projected that onto the Queen of Clubs. I do remember though that I hated getting that card, even as a child. As I grew older and understood what it meant to be an Old Maid, getting dealt that card seemed even more unpleasant—who would want to be the one without a pair—to be single, alone, and without anyone to love?

For many years it was my biggest fear that God would make me stay single. I wasn’t sure which I really wanted—to be married to a man or to God—but I felt strongly that being alone was an emptiness too painful to comprehend. I imagined married life as Hawaii—filled with romance and beauty and adventure (with maybe a few volcanoes or sharks here and there), and I could imagine religious life as some sort of spiritual equivalent. But single life, by definition, seemed to be a Land of Lack—like Narnia under the spell of the White Witch in C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe—always winter and never Christmas.

It is that Lie of Lack that I wish to address. The Opposition Voice always wishes to deny Gift by highlighting what we don’t have, what is missing, what we think we need. When we find an empty space in our hearts or in our lives, we submit to the greater lie—that we are abandoned, unloved, unlovable—and that we never can or will be filled. 

But Caryll Houselander in the Reed of God, speaks of these empty spaces differently. Like the virginity of Our Lady, it is not meant to be a sterile emptiness but rather a space prepared to receive, a space made for something. 

It is the emptiness like the hollow in the reed, the narrow riftless emptiness, which can have only one destiny: to receive the piper’s breath and to utter the song that is in his heart. It is the emptiness like the hollow in the [chalice]; shaped to receive water or wine. It is the emptiness like that of the bird’s nest, built in a round warm wing to receive the little bird.

–  Caryll Houselander

We know that in Our Lady, this space was perfect. For the rest of us (in whatever state of life we find ourselves) these spaces are a bit messier. Perhaps they were formed by sin or by tragedy; perhaps they need cleaning out because we’ve attempted to fill them up with other (wrong) things. Or perhaps they are directly a gift from God—a space hallowed out by the All-loving God, precisely for Him to come and dwell in intimate communion. But if we are to be honest, there is very often suffering in the forming of these spaces. 

It doesn’t matter what winter we are living in, or how these empty spaces were fashioned. Because Christ has come to be born in every heart—there is for humanity no such place as a land of never-Christmas. Every empty space is designed for a gift to be received. Sometimes the gifts are still unopened or even unseen; sometimes we seem to be on a treasure hunt for them, or we may be anxiously waiting their arrival. Occasionally it feels as though they’ve been misdirected by the Post Office. But the Giver of all Gifts does not exclude anyone; nor is Love limited by a Naughty or Nice list. There is no Land of Lack in the kingdom of God.

I often laugh when I imagine how younger me would perceive the life I am living now. From the outside, I seem to be living in the Land of Lack: I have no husband, no children, no job, no paycheck or title; even the house I am living in does not belong to me.  I don’t even have a plan; I am trusting God to lead me in the steps I need to take.

But rather than a witch’s winter in Narnia, the life I am living is much more like the springtime adventures with Aslan. I’ve had some crazy adventures, seen some crazy miracles. I’ve experienced deep love, and deep joy. I often feel that l I am, like Lucy and Susan, riding on the back of a wild lion—with no idea where I am going, but safe with the One who carries me. It’s a crazy ride, but I wouldn’t trade it even for a house in Hawaii. (At least on good days).

It is not always easy. Even after Aslan’s arrival, there is still a battle to be fought. Sometimes those fighting seem to be alone. Sometimes evil seems to be winning. There is still death, and loss and pain. Those fighting don’t always know exactly what he is doing—after all, he is not a tame lion.

I think sometimes when we talk about Vocation or calling in the larger sense, we forget that the literal meaning of “calling” implies a Voice, a Person doing the calling. This voice does not speak only once in time, to be heard or missed or perhaps even thwarted. Rather this voice speaks to each heart in every moment—in various ways.  This voice knocks, seeking a space to enter.  We are thus invited to consider whether what we see as an empty space, or place of lack, is in fact an opening for a Person. An unsatisfactory spouse, or the lack of a spouse, infertility, an empty nest, unemployment, financial anxiety, or even the loss of a loved one in death—could these in fact be the very doors through which He asks to come in?

So—even in seasons of winter and quiet, of seeming lack and emptiness, we are invited to wait in trust and listen for the sound of a sleigh with bells.

Whistleblower Exposes 3 Big Issues in Pfizer’s COVID Vaccine Clinical Trials

By Health 1+1 and Xiaoxu Sean Lin May 5, 2022

On Nov. 2, 2021 British Medical Journal (BMJ) published an article that revealed three big issues in Pfizer’s vaccine trial based on interview with a whistleblower.

The whistle blower, Brook Jackson, was a regional director of one of Pfizer’s vaccine trial companies, Ventavia Research Group in Texas.

Beginning the fall of 2020, there were 153 institutes, including Ventavia, that assisted Pfizer’s vaccine clinical trial. Per Ventavia’s website, the company is the largest private clinical research company in Texas. Jackson found out the management of the clinical trial in the company was not organized. She reported this to the administrative level of the company, but received no response from the company. Then she reported this to the FDA.

However, after she emailed the FDA, she was fired that same afternoon. Jackson said this was the first time she was fired from her job in her 20-year career.

Finally, she contacted the international well-known journal–BMJ. She exposed 3 major issues she observed in Ventavia for Pfizer’s vaccine clinical trial.

1. Falsifying the data
2. Early unblinding of the trial, affecting the accuracy of the results
3. Very slow to respond to adverse events, and not paying attention to the safety of participants

We spoke with Dr. Sean Lin, phD, former toxicology lab director of Walter Reed Military Medical Center to discuss these issues. The interview below has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Issue 1: During the Trials, There Was Data Falsified

Health 1+1: Per Jackson, in one document dated as August 2020, before Jackson’s hiring, a Ventavia executive revealed that three site staff members were requested to go over e-diary issues and falsifying data, etc. One of them was verbally questioned for changing data and not informing the late data entry.

Jackson and Ventavia executives discussed multiple times the possibilities of an FDA inspection of their company. Another former Ventavia employee also stated that the company worried the FDA would audit the process of their company’s Pfizer’s vaccine clinical trials.

Dr. Lin: When any new vaccine or new medication goes through clinical trials, the accuracy of the data is very important.

For example, in clinical trials, to inject vaccine to a volunteer, there must be 2 people in addition to the volunteer on site. One person does the injection; the second person takes notes and watches the injection. The reason for having two people is if only one person does it, if there is any mistake in recording the procedure, or if the person changes data, the accuracy of the database will be affected significantly.

In cases where any data needs to be modified, these drug companies usually have strict procedures. First, upper management and an executive of the drug company need to be notified and approve, then the person is authorized to enter the database and modify the data. The person must record the time of modification and the reason. They need to explain that an error occurred while entering the data, or if there are other reasons. Only with strict rules can these companies guarantee that what is in the database won’t be falsified.

So by contrast, it is unbelievable that an employee at Ventavia can have the right to modify the database without permission. This can cause big problems.

Pfizer published their clinical trial report on NEJM (New England Journal of Medicine). In the report, there were 8 people infected COVID after vaccination, but there were 162 people infected COVID after placebo. So, it is easily to change the protection rate from 90% to 60% if there are wrong data on dozens of people.

Ventavia’s trial site had 1,000 volunteers participate in the COVID vaccine trials. If there are mistakes in just 50 of them, the results will be significantly different.

Issue 2: Early Unblinding of Trial Participants

Health 1+1: Based on the photos and information provided by Jackson, documents related to the clinical trials were randomly displayed, including vaccine packaging materials with clinical trial participants’ information and drug assignment confirmation labels, all these were accessible to blinded personnel. The above errors can lead the participants and the staff members to know ahead of time who would get vaccine, before the procedures were done. The errors were corrected two months after the trial started. It may have been a large range of unblinding.

Dr. Lin: Generally, people who participate in clinical trials are divided into two groups. One group would receive vaccine and the other group would receive placebo, like normal saline. None of the participants will know which they were given, otherwise it would affect the objectivity of the trial. This is called blinding.

Vaccine trials routinely use blind trials. This is because in medical field, it is well known that the mental effect plays a key role. For example, if someone knew he or she was given real medicine, they may have very positive mood which improves their immune system, and the results would not truly reflect the effect of medicine only. On the other hand, if people knew they were given placebo, they may not feel any hope, and that may also affect the results.

Besides the volunteer participants, other people who involved in the trials like physicians, nurses, and people who man database are also not allowed to know the true information regarding the distribution of the vaccine injection. This is to avoid bias. For example, if the nurse knew the participants receiving vaccine, the nurse may pay more attention to the person. This will affect the end results.

So the clinical trials are randomly assigned by computer for who receives the vaccine and who receives the placebo, and the information will be encrypted.

For early unblinding, it was not only a lapse in responsibility on Ventavia’s part, but showed problems related to Pfizer’s design and management of these COVID vaccine clinical trials. This made it so that the testing groups learned who was getting the vaccine too early. If lower level staff have authority or opportunity to unblind trials, it affects the objectivity of the data.

Issue 3: Slow Response to Adverse Events, Not Prioritizing Participant Safety

Health 1+1: Jackson pointed out that Ventavia did not pay attention to the safety of the participants during the vaccine trials. They did not contact or take care the participants who developed side effects. One email sent by the contract research organization to Ventavia mentioned that over 100 cases with issues where participants were not contacted for more than three days, including  including two participants who had developed severe symptoms. The expectation for vaccine trials is that that all issues need to be addressed within 24 hours.  Jackson also mentioned that participants were placed in a hallway after injection with no clinical staff observation.

Besides Jackson, a formal Ventavia employee also told the BMJ that the company doesn’t have enough staff to take samples from participants who developed COVID symptoms. FDA documents showed that across all clinical trials, there were 477 people who had symptoms but did not receive a PCR test for COVID. Jackson said in the 40-plus clinical trials she’s been involved with, including several large scale trials, she had never seen as much chaos as the environment she worked in under Ventavia.

In a recording of a meeting in September 2020 between Jackson and two Ventavia company directors, the company expressed they could not confirm how many types of issues had occurred because of the high volume of issues, nor could they confirm the number of errors that had occurred because there was something new everyday.

Dr. Lin: In clinical trials, the risk of the medication given to participants is unknown, and as such there needs to be enough staff to watch for side effects that could occur.

Usually, participants stay onsite, whether that is a hospital or nearby hotel, for the first 24 hours after the vaccine injection, and they are accompanied by clinical staff.  If a severe side effect occurs, it needs to be addressed right away. It is dangerous if no one is observing the participants after injection. This suggests the trial was not properly staffed.

In the past, there were clinical trials for certain medications that took a very long time before they could even begin. First you need to have enough test sites, then the standard data criterion needs to be set up to ensure the data integrity and security, among other things. If you have contractors with the capacity to test 500 people, but you sign them for contracts to test 1000 people, obviously they will have staffing and staff training issues. There’s a standard protocol that accompanies each step of these clinical trials and no short cuts can be taken, even if a pharmaceutical company wants to speed up the testing period. In this case specifically, Pfizer would have needed to monitor these testing sites, in order to ensure all these trials are using their designed process.

Ventavia’s situation implies additional risks, like the possibility of other sites having similar issues, and whether Pfizer has been correcting these in a timely manner. If the vaccine data contains errors, then wouldn’t the vaccine’s protection rate need to be reevaluated?

During the pandemic, many large pharmaceutical companies received protection from government. The entire vaccine development bill was footed by the government, as was the production and promotion costs. And even if there were problems in the process, the media was not investigating these steps and exposing the details to the public.

Pfizer’s vaccine has been so important in the US market and stricter monitoring should have been in place, rather than blanket protections.

FDA’s Poor Oversight

Health 1+1: Jackson reported the issue to the administrative level of Ventavia and received no response. Then on Sept. 25, 2020, she contacted the FDA. After sending the email, she was fired from the company.  A few days later, the FDA contacted Jackson to discuss her report. There was no further communication between Jackson and the FDA after this call. In August 2021, the FDA approved Pfizer’s COVID vaccine and listed 9 of the 153 clinical trial sites, not including Ventavia.

Jackson raised several problems in her report:

1) Participants were not monitored after receiving injections
2) There was no timely follow-up of patients with adverse side effects
3) Errors occurred during testing, and people would not report the errors
4) The vaccines were not stored at proper temperatures
5) Mislabeled laboratory specimens
6) Staff who reported these types of problems received retaliation
7) FDA told her no further information could be provided to her and ceased communications, and only nine of 153 test sites were inspected by the FDA, not including Ventavia, despite Jackson’s report

This exposes the oversight issues on the FDA’s part. In Ventavia case, FDA should have communicated with Jackson, Pfizer, and Ventavia. It stands that the FDA should have inquired about Pfizer’s trial procedures, and whether these three parties were on the same page regarding those procedures. And the public should have been made aware, because this affects human lives.

Dr. Lin: It’s more than an issue of corporate liability, there’s a matter of individual responsibility here as well. This whistleblower’s report showed that it wasn’t just Ventavia in the wrong, but Pfizer and the FDA as well. But I think the key issue is still the individual, because you have to remember that these are individuals doing all the research.

Many people think that science is noble, and all the people who work in the scientific field are pursuing truth. But in reality, in modern society, science is an industry. Especially the medical field, it’s become a large industry that involves huge profits. So in the process, the issue of how to keep research and clinical trials reliable and trustworthy has become a big challenge.

During the pandemic, the public had hope that pharmaceutical companies would develop medicine that could save lives. There’s a big profit opportunity here for the companies, especially because the government will help cover costs and also promote the products. With an upside this big, no company wants to miss out. With these conditions, it’s easy to risk the integrity of the company. Especially under the current PREP regulations, the company doesn’t take any responsibility. Pfizer and Moderna are free of responsibility involving this vaccine. People with adverse side effects from these injects can seek compensation through CICP, but it is not easy to do.

According to a Nov. 10, 2021 report from USA Today, 3,100 people developed side effects after vaccine injection during clinical trials. Following the CICP system, they filed for reimbursement, and none of them have thus far received compensation.

The government pays for production and protection, and the companies don’t need to pay out any losses from side effects. Big profits with small investments. Under these conditions how can one guarantee the integrity of the test? It in fact motivates the companies to rush their clinical trials. These are complicated procedures with many factors that can cause issues. Pharmaceutical companies should be following the basic principle of “do no harm.” Without this principle, the medical field is in peril.

Both the government and pharmaceutical companies have been focusing on the benefit rather than the drawbacks. This is a problem, because it means that something that could put someone’s life at risk can be ignored. This is irresponsible to the public.

On one hand, during a pandemic, ordinary people would of course wish that medical companies could develop medicine to save the world. Can pharmaceutical companies keep a high level of integrity through the process? I think this is a test for humanity arranged by God.

If humanity handles this test well, God creates miracles to help humanity.

What the Best Presenters Do Differently

AlexSava/Getty Images
According to Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, villagers would come from far and wide to hear Abraham Lincoln, then a prairie lawyer with a gift for storytelling. Lincoln didn’t have the benefit of modern technology. He stood on a tree stump instead of a TED stage, and PowerPoint wouldn’t be invented for another 130 years. And yet Lincoln “could simultaneously educate, entertain, and move his audiences,” writes Goodwin.

While the tools of communication have changed since Lincoln regaled crowds with his storytelling techniques, the human brain has not. Our minds are wired for story. We think in narrative and enjoy consuming content in story form.

Understanding the difference between presenting and storytelling is critical to a leader’s ability to engage an audience and move them to action. Unfortunately, presentation software often gets in the way. Slides should be designed to complement a story, not to replace the storyteller.

Following are five storytelling strategies to help you stand out the next time you give a presentation.

Presenters open PowerPoint. Storytellers craft a narrative.

If you want to engage your audience, you have to tell a story. But for most people who prepare presentations, storytelling is not top of mind.

Most “presenters” do what sounds logical: They begin by opening the slideware. But most presentation programs aren’t storytelling tools. They’re digital delivery mechanisms. PowerPoint’s default template asks for a title and text.

A bulleted list is not a story. A story is a connected series of events told through words and/or pictures. A story has a theme, attention-grabbing moments, heroes and villains, and a satisfying conclusion. Nicely designed slides cannot compensate for a poorly structured story.

Award-winning movie directors read or write the story before picking up a camera. They see the movie play out by sketching or drawing each scene on storyboards. In much the same way, effective presenters think through the elements of their content long before they open PowerPoint.

Before you sit down to create your slides, try this three-step process. First, write down your idea as if you were telling someone a story. Since you don’t naturally write or speak in bullet points, avoid them. Instead, use complete sentences with nouns, verbs, and transitions between paragraphs and ideas. Second, visualize each of your main concepts by “storyboarding”: sketching ideas on a whiteboard or a blank sheet of paper. Finally, gather the assets that will bring your story to life: videos, animations, graphics, or photos.

Presenters use text. Storytellers love pictures.

While serving as commander of the International Space Station, Chris Hadfield became a social media sensation by picking up a guitar and singing David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” while floating weightless. Back on Earth, his celebrated TED Talk has attracted more than 11 million views.

Hadfield’s presentation, “What I learned from going blind in space,” was an astonishing display of visual storytelling. His PowerPoint deck contained 35 slides — with no text. Instead, Hadfield relied on pictures, images, animations, and videos to introduce the audience to a world few will ever experience.

Researchers have found that your audience will recall about 10% of the content if they simply hear information. But the “picture superiority effect” means that if they hear information and see a picture, they’ll retain 65%.

Florence Nightingale understood picture superiority more than a century before the invention of PowerPoint. Nightingale was a statistician and mathematician. She was also an empathetic nurse who was shocked to discover that more British soldiers were dying from unsanitary conditions in hospitals than were dying of battle wounds. When Nightingale sought funding from British authorities to improve conditions, she translated the dry data into a color-coded graphic. Nightingale knew that humans were moved more by stories and pictures than data and text alone.

If you want to engage an audience, build a presentation that favors pictures to complement the story you tell. A combination of images and words improves learning much more than words can do on their own.

Presenters dump data. Storytellers humanize it.

As Nightingale discovered, the human brain was not built to make sense of large numbers. Data is abstract until it’s put into context that people can understand. And people can understand people.

I once met with a group of executives at a large medical equipment company preparing to launch a new brain-scanning machine at a prestigious conference. They sent me hundreds of pages of clinical data to prove the technology could identify a patient’s condition faster and more accurately than any existing device.

“Where are the people?” I asked.

While the data provided evidence for the efficacy of the technology, it didn’t tell a story. Only humans could do that.

After a few hours of brainstorming with the executive team, we decided to put faces to the data. We built a presentation around two typical patients — David and Susan — who would benefit from the technology should they enter a hospital with symptoms of a possible stroke or heart attack.

At the same conference the following year, the executive who had delivered the presentation was walking down a hallway when a physician stopped him and said, “You’re the David and Susan guy. Great presentation.” The attendee hadn’t remembered all the data, but the story left an impression.

The next time you have large datasets to present, add a face to the statistics.

Presenters are predictable. Storytellers surprise audiences.

Most PowerPoints are boring because they’re predictable. We know what comes next — another slide of bullet points, followed by another, and another. A good story, however, has the element of surprise.

When Steve Jobs introduced the first iPod, he told the audience that the music player could store 1,000 songs. While other music players on the market could make the same claim, Jobs explained that none of the competitors could fit in your pocket. And with the flair of a magician pulling a rabbit out of his hat, Jobs reached into the pocket of his jeans and pulled out the smallest MP3 player on the market. “One thousand songs in your pocket” became one of the most iconic taglines in product history.

Although many people considered Steve Jobs one of the most outstanding business presenters of our time, the Apple co-founder knew the real secret to winning over an audience: Create a presentation that complements a well-crafted story.

The human brain pays attention to novelty — twists and turns and unexpected events. Our brain perks up when we detect something that breaks a pattern.

There’s no limit to your creativity. While you don’t need to pull products out of your pocket to grab the audience’s attention, do plan to surprise people with something they don’t expect.

Presenters practice silently. Storytellers rehearse out loud.

Most business presentations are forgettable because speakers forget they’re performing, not presenting. A great presentation informs, inspires, engages, and entertains. In other words, it’s part performance and should be rehearsed like one.

Most business professionals flip through their slides silently to prepare for a presentation. Storytellers rehearse — out loud. They practice their vocal delivery, adding perfectly-timed pauses and varying the pace of their speech. If they plan to stand in front of a group, they’ll stand during rehearsal. If they’re going to be seated in a Zoom call, they’ll take their seat in rehearsal and deliver each slide as though they’re giving the real thing.

Becoming the Righteousness of God

When Catholics and Protestants talk about justification, our discussions usually center on the question of faith and works. Do we need to do good works to be justified, or is faith alone sufficient? For Catholics, it is the former, and for most Protestants, it is the latter. However, that is not the only way our understandings of this crucial topic differ. We also disagree on the nature of justification, and in this article, I want to take a look at this equally important difference between us and our separated brethren.

For most Protestants, justification is merely a legal declaration. God considers us righteous, but we’re still just as sinful as we were before, and only after that declaration does he begin to sanctify us and make us truly holy. However, for us Catholics, that declaration actually makes us righteous. Just like his word at creation, God’s word that declares us righteous actually makes it happen, so it is the start of our lifelong process of sanctification.

So which side is right? Is justification really just a legal declaration, or does it actually make us righteous too? There is a lot we can say about this question, but we don’t have space to get into all the ins and outs of the debate. Instead, I just want to focus on one small part of it. I want to look at arguably the strongest evidence for the Protestant understanding of justification and see how well it holds up under scrutiny.

Becoming God’s Righteousness

The best evidence for the Protestant view comes from a verse in one of St. Paul’s most difficult letters:

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

To understand the argument based on this passage, we have to start with the phrase at the very end, “the righteousness of God.” This is a phrase Paul uses numerous times throughout his letters, and it has traditionally been seen as the righteousness God gives us when he justifies us. So with that background, the Protestant argument here is pretty straightforward.

Jesus didn’t literally become “sin” on the cross. Rather, God punished him as if he were sin, so when we “become the righteousness of God,” it likewise does not mean that we literally become righteous. Instead, God simply considers us righteous, just like he simply considered Jesus sinful and punished him for it in our place.

“Made Him to Be Sin”

And at first glance, that seems to make a lot of sense. The point that Jesus didn’t literally become sin looks just about airtight, and the rest flows pretty naturally from it. But, as usual, there is more here than meets our 21st-century Western eyes. Let’s start with the first half of the verse, where Paul says that God “made [Jesus] to be sin.” Contrary to what we might think at first, this does not actually mean that God considered Jesus sinful and punished Him for it.

In the Old Testament, God gave the Israelites instructions for several different kinds of sacrifices, and one of them was called a “sin offering” (as you can probably guess, it was offered for the forgiveness of people’s sins). Significantly, in both the original Hebrew and the ancient Greek translation known as the Septuagint, the word for sin offering is just “sin” (for example, Leviticus 4:33, 5:8). We insert the word “offering” to make it work in English, but it is not there in the ancient languages.

Consequently, when Paul wrote in Greek that Jesus “became sin,” he most likely had this background in mind, so he actually meant that Jesus became a sin offering. He was saying that Jesus offered Himself on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins, just like the ancient Israelites would offer animal sacrifices for the forgiveness of their sins.

“The Righteousness of God”

Next, let’s move on to the second half of the verse, where St. Paul explains that we “become the righteousness of God.” Like I said before, Paul talks about “the righteousness of God” several times throughout his letters, and in recent decades, many New Testament scholars have come to realize that the traditional interpretation of this phrase is actually incorrect. It does not refer to the righteousness God gives us. Rather, it refers to God’s own righteousness, and to see this, we can look at some verses that bookend a small section of Paul’s Letter to the Romans:

“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested.” (Romans 3:21)

“…to prove his righteousness because of the forgiveness of sins previously committed, through the forbearance of God—to prove his righteousness in the present time, that he might be righteous and justify the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:25-26)

Romans 3:21-26 is a literary unit, and it begins and ends with references to God’s righteousness being shown through the saving death of Jesus Christ. Significantly, the three references at the end (“his righteousness” twice and “that he might be righteous”) clearly refer to God’s own righteousness, not the righteousness he gives us, so the phrase “the righteousness of God” at the beginning of this section must mean that as well.

St. Paul’s Real Meaning

When we take this understanding back to 2 Corinthians 5:21, Paul’s teaching that we “become the righteousness of God” cannot mean that God simply considers us righteous when He justifies us. Paul is referring to God’s own righteousness, not the righteousness God gives us, so he is not even talking about justification.

Rather, he is just saying that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross enables us to become the manifestation of God’s righteousness. In other words, his point is that God demonstrates his righteousness by saving us from our sins through Jesus Christ, so this text has nothing to do with the Protestant understanding of justification. In fact, it doesn’t tell us anything about the nature of justification, so as far as this particular debate is concerned, it is little more than a red herring.

Special Counsel John Durham Wins Key Motion in Case Against Former Clinton Lawyer

By Zachary Stieber  May 5, 2022
0:002:38

 

A federal judge on May 4 granted a motion from special counsel John Durham to review documents that Hillary Clinton’s campaign and other parties had claimed were protected by privilege, which means the documents may ultimately be made available to the public.

U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper, after a hearing in Washington, granted Durham’s motion to compel production of unredacted versions of said documents from the Perkins Coie, a law firm hired by the campaign ahead of the 2016 election; Rodney Joffe, a technology executive; and Fusion GPS, a firm that specializes in opposition research that the campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) used extensively to investigate then-candidate Donald Trump—Clinton’s rival for the presidency.

The parties had resisted producing some documents and handed over redacted versions of others because of shielding afforded by attorney-client privilege or another form of privilege that protects documents used in producing “work product”—claims Durham has disputed in part because Fusion primarily engaged in non-legal matters such as opposition research for the campaign, the DNC, and Perkins.

The documents include details on Fusion’s opposition research into Trump and the firm’s promotion of dubious stories regarding Trump to various media outlets, Durham has said. Among them are emails and attachments sent by or received by Fusion, Perkins, and Joffe.

Other communications between Fusion and Joffe appear related to the claim that the Trump Organization, Trump’s business, had a secret backchannel with a Russian bank.

Evidence purportedly substantiating that claim was brought by Michael Sussmann—at the time representing the campaign and Joffe—to the FBI, which could not substantiate the allegations. The CIA found the claims were not “technically plausible.”

The motion was brought in the case against Sussmann, who is set to go on trial later in May for allegedly lying to the FBI when he said he was not bringing the information on behalf of a client.

The documents in question may or may not ultimately be made available to the general public.

The motion asked Cooper, an Obama appointee, to agree to compel the parties to produce unredacted forms of the documents and then review the documents in private.

After conducting such a review, Durham requested the court to give prosecutors access to unredacted versions of any documents the judge determines aren’t shielded by privilege. Any such documents would likely be posted on the court docket, making them available for anybody to read.

On The Marble

 

“All men have stars, but they are not the same things for different people. For some, who are travelers, the stars are guides. For others they are no more than little lights in the sky. For others, who are scholars, they are problems… But all these stars are silent. You-You alone will have stars as no one else has them“.  ANTOINE DE SAINT-EXUPÉRY

%d bloggers like this: