Freedom From Religion Foundation files complaint to Clemson against head football coach

By: Katy Ricalde

To truly understand college football in the South you have to experience it. To so many across the region it is their pride and joy and for even more it ranks right up there with religion... Saturdays in the fall being designated as yet another 'holy day.' 

Clemson University is one such school, and many fans were surprised to learn the Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a letter of complaint to Clemson against football coach Dabo Swinney. The letter cites concerns about the religious influence coaches have on football players, and states that Swinney has not fostered a culture adhering to the separation of church and state. 

The foundation says it does not want to infringe on Swinney's religious freedom, but it does want to ensure that Clemson players are protected, and they say they want to make sure coach Dabo's position does not pressure athletes to become more religious. 

"What we'd like to see is the end of this chaplaincy position and end to Bible distributions by coaches, an end to devotionals scheduled and put on by coaches and staff. The coaches need to step back and just coach (football) and not coach in religious matters."

Swinney is open about his faith, and under his direction the team holds weekly Bible studies for coaches and a voluntary chapel services for players the night before each game.

Clemson officials say they do not force religion on players and Swinney says he welcomes students of all faith on his field. 

The university and the town have rallied around their coach. A small town nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Clemson is surrounded by beautiful lakes and the residents consist primarily of college students, university employees, retirees, and local business owners. Football is not just a sport, but a way of life that starts before a 'lil' Tiger' is even born--you can't pass a shop in Clemson without seeing a 'Future Tiger' onesie or a 'Clemson Born and Bred' baby bib. 

A group of Clemson fans tailgate before a gameClemson falls into the Atlantic Coast Conference and the fans are one of a kind. "Death Valley" Memorial Stadium was named #8 in the Bleacher Report '50 Loudest College Stadiums" and holds an impressive 80,000 patrons..one of the largest campus stadiums in the United States.  On game day a sea of orange and white fills not only the stands, but the entire town. Fans drive from all over to tailgate across the Clemson University campus--and they arrive to start setting up before the sun comes up.  

Clemson's Dabo Swinney joined the football staff in 2003 and worked as the wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator before he took over for Tommy Bowden in 2008 as head coach. Swinney was humbled and surprised when he was offered the promotion--he had been working as a real estate developer just a few years before. The town was a little unsure at first as well, but Swinney proved a powerful force, breaking Clemson's six-game losing streak and going on to coach Clemson to a 31-14 victory over the University of South Carolina in the annual rivalry game in 2008.

On December 1, 2008 an emotional Swinney took to the microphone during a press conference announcing his hire as the university's 25th head football coach. He spoke openly about his Christian faith saying, "There's really only one reason that an old boy from Pelham, Alabama, is sitting here in front of you today, and that's the grace of God." 

Around town, Swinney is known as a devout Christian and a family man with a big personality. He always stops to say hello to the fans, posing for photos, signing autographs, and even offering advice to young, aspiring future players.

Stacie Payne, whose son Bryce loves the Clemson Tigers, had nothing but positive things to say about the coach. 

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney poses for a photo with young fan Bryce Payne

"My son has attended Dabo's football camp for the past two years and he always takes time to interact with all of the kids. He has the most positive attitude that puts you at ease. We ran into him at a recreational youth football game and he took time from watching his own kids play to talk to my son and even give him a few pointers on the game," Payne said.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation's staff attorney Patrick Elliott told The Greenville News that the foundation does aim to avoid additional litigation.

"That doesn't serve anyone's interests. I'd rather see government fix these problems," Elliot said.

What do you think? Share your thoughts with me here on the blog or via Twitter @KatyRicalde.

 

Photos: Clemson fans tailgate before a big game and Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney poses for a photo with young fan Bryce Payne

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Vice President Joe Biden's old Cadillac for sale...

In the market for a new vehicle? A 2005 Cadillac with 110,000 miles? Well look no further, because this beauty is described as the "total package" with heated seats and push start speakers. Perhaps even a bonus..it was once owned by Vice President Joe Biden.

A man in Wilmington, DE is selling the Vice President's former vehicle for $15,000. Jeff Finkle says he bought the car when Biden became VP, but he didn't know the vehicle history at first. He discovered the Bluetooth in the Cadillac had Biden's sons--Beau and Hunter--and wife Jill's contact numbers still stored in the system. 

Finkle told Delaware Online that he was tempted to call Jill Biden's number, but opted against it. He also noted that information on the warranty and the dealership confirm the link to the VP.

And the ad says the car needs to go by the end of the month..so who knows..maybe you can make an offer and drive away in style for a real deal--

 

Grapevine: Tweeter's Remorse

Tweeter’s Remorse: You can't yell fire in a crowded movie theater or bomb on an airplane. Similar restrictions apply on social media  as one teenager found out over the weekend when she tweeted American Airlines: “@AmericanAir Hello my name's Ibrahim and I'm from Afghanistan. I'm part of Al Qaida and on June 1st I'm gonna do something really big bye.”

Naturally, that didn't go over well with American Airlines who sent back: "Sarah, we take these threats very seriously. Your IP address and details will be forwarded to security and the FBI."

Perhaps realizing the error of her ways Sarah repeatedly tweeted apologies saying she was kidding and scared and stupid. Netherlands based BNO News reports that the now suspended account belonged to a Dutch teenager who has been arrested.

Document Dump: Late last year Republican Congressman Lamar Smith subpoenaed the EPA to publicly release the two studies that form much of the justification for its regulations so that more studies can be done to verify the findings. Seven months later the EPA says it has handed over everything it has with one big disclaimer: "The data provided are not sufficient in themselves to replicate the analyses. Adding that this does "not call into question the E-P-A's reliance on these studies for regulator actions."

Smith is one of 43 co-sponsors of a bill that would ban regulations based on science that is "not transparent or reproducible."

Too Far?: Advertisements are meant to catch attention by any means necessary-- even if that means making light of serious current events. Sobieski Vodka ran an ad in USA Today that read: "Poland Borders Ukraine. Guess Putin will do anything to get closer to better vodka."

The ad has gotten mixed reviews with one Ukrainian blog calling it lovely and a little tongue and cheek. Mediaite said the ad is tasteless and war-profiteering.

So what do you think of the ad? Let me know @SRGrapevine or right here on the blog.

Children's Ball Raises $10.8 Million

By: Katy Ricalde

The Children's Ball benefiting Children's National Medical Center took place in Washington, DC over the weekend and the evening could not have been any more of a success. Bret and Amy Baier and UAE Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba and his wife Abeer co-chaired the event that raised an impressive $10.8 million dollars for the hospital-- the most money ever raised at a single charity event in the nation's capital. 

Both couples have very personal stories-- Paul Baier has undergone three open heart surgeries, seven angioplasties and a stomach surgery (as well as countless other procedures) all at CNMC. The Al Otaiba's daughter was also treated at Children's for a rare lung condition. 

The evening kicked off with a special video featuring celebrities and lawmakers from across both sides of the aisle. Former President Bush, First Lady Michelle Obama, and former First Lady/Senator/Secretary of State Hillary Clinton all left messages for ball-goers. As the video played guests enjoyed food prepared by celebrity chefs Wolfgang Puck and Nobu Matsuhisa. 

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor was presented with the Children's Advocacy Award by Children's National president and CEO Dr. Kurt Newman. 

A silent auction featured items including a black lab puppy, luxurious trips and sports packages, and jewelry designed by jeweler to the stars Lorraine Schwartz and a very special patient from Children's National Medical Center.

The event concluded with a surprise performance from Grammy and Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson. Hudson volunteered her time to help raise money for the hospital.

Ball co-chairs Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba, Abeer Al Otaiba, and Amy and Bret Baier.

Wolfgang Puck and Nobu in the kitchen while dinner was being prepared.

Bret Baier with a popular auction item, a black lab puppy.

A former Children's patient helped design earrings and a bracelet with designer Lorraine Schwartz. Beyonce Knowles wore the items during an event and they went at auction for $75,000. The man who won the jewelry surprised Jozlyn at the end of the auction by giving her the earrings and bracelet to keep. As you can see by the photos--she was more than a little surprised!

Dr. Kurt Newman, president and CEO of Children's National, presents Majority Leader Eric Cantor with the Children's Advocacy Award. 

Academy Award- and Grammy-winning recording artist Jennifer Hudson concluded the program with a 30-minute concert. 

Childhelp: National Day of Hope

Members of Congress joined forces Wednesday at the Childhelp National Day of Hope Luncheon in Washington, DC to discuss the on-going issue of child abuse in America, new developments in the treatment and prevention of child abuse, and advocacy efforts on behalf of its victims.

Rebecca Cooper of ABC7 served as emcee and Cynthia Wright, prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney’s office, was recognized with the Childhelp Voice of the Children Award for her work and dedication to bringing those that hurt children to justice.

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) served as co-chairs of the luncheon and Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Mark Warner (D-VA) and Congressmen David Schweikert (R-AZ) and Matt Salmon (R-AZ) were members of the honorary committee.

Childhelp CEO and Co-Founder Sara O’Meara and President and Co-Founder Yvonne Fedderson started the organization in 1959 as a leading non-profit organization dedicated to helping victims of child abuse and neglect. For 55 years, Childhelp has been working to improve the lives of countless children by focusing on intervention, treatment, prevention and community outreach.

The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline (1-800-4-A-CHILD) operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Childhelp’s programs and services also include residential treatment, children’s advocacy centers, therapeutic foster care, group homes and child abuse prevention education and training.

April was designated as National Child Abuse Prevention Month by Congress in 1983 and Sara and Yvonne played an instrumental part in the process. The women have been working diligently to bring awareness to this important cause and have been nominated an impressive eight times for the Nobel Peace Prize.

In 2000, Congress passed a resolution designating the first Wednesday of each April as Childhelp National Day of Hope. On this day, people across the country light a five-wick candle and observe five minutes of silence in recognition of the now nearly five children who die every day as a result of abuse and neglect in the home and the millions of others who suffer.

Congratulations to Sara, Yvonne and the team at Childhelp on another successful National Day of Hope and thank you for protecting our greatest resource—our children.

For more information about Childhelp please visit www.childhelp.org

House approves measure to deny Iranian diplomat visa for UN

The House of Representatives ok'd a bill by unanimous consent to deny a visa for Hamid Aboutalebi. Iran has appointed Aboutalebi to be its Ambassador to the United Nations. But he was a player in the Iranian uprising which seized the US Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and took American hostage for 444 days.

The Senate approved by unanimous consent a measure to deny a visa for Aboutalebi earlier this week. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) crafted the plan.

More on this story tonight from correspondent Eric Shawn on Special Report--

 

 

Special Report Grapevine: Strippers for Seniors?

Go It Alone: With tax day approaching, you might want to take a second look at who's crunching the numbers for your return.  A new government report finds that just 2 of 19 mainly unregulated tax preparers calculated the correct refund for their clients.  Unregulated preparers are those not subject to oversight by the government and they are not lawyers or CPA’s. A whopping 55% of all tax preparers fall into that category.  The Government Accountability Office found errors ranging from getting the taxpayer $52  less to $3,700 more than they were entitled to. But not all were mistakes-- some were outright fraud.

In some egregious cases, preparers calculated a taxpayer's refund in person and skipped the line that shows who did the work. then after the taxpayer leaves, the taxpayer falsifies the math to boost the refund, files the return and pockets the difference.  and worst of all, unless the taxpayer can prove what happened, they're on the hook for the money when the IRS finds out.

You might be better off wading through the paperwork by yourself. The report finds 60%  of professionally prepared returns had mistakes compared to 50% when completed by the taxpayer alone.

Watch Where You Point That Thing: A seventh grader says he was suspended-- because another student claimed he pretended his pencil was a gun. Ethan Chaplin tells News12 New Jersey he was just twisting his pencil around a pen cap during math class when a classmate who had been bullying him accused him of making gun motions.  Policy dictates the school must investigate if anyone claims to feel threatened.

Ethan's dad says the boy had to undergo a five hour physical and psychological evaluation. The principal tells the Huffington Post there's more to the story but he cannot comment because of privacy laws.  Ethan has since returned to school. 

Stripper For Seniors: And finally, an update to a story we brought you yesterday in our outside the beltway segment. Turns out the New York man suing his mother's nursing home for hiring a male stripper may have a hard time proving his case.

A picture surfaced showing 85 year old Bernice Youngblood putting a dollar in the dancer's underwear. Her son alleges the staff hired the man for quote perverse pleasure, but the nursing home's attorney says the activities panel-- made up of residents-- voted to hire the dancer and provided $250. The New York post reports the strip tease has attracted the attention of the state attorney general who is looking into the case. 

Think Green

Bret Baier for Fox News First

For a golfer, this is one of the best weeks of the year. Today, the azaleas and dogwoods are in bloom, the grass is trimmed to perfection, and the par-three contest gets underway before the big event – The Masters!

To me, the tournament always looks like heaven on earth on TV and seems flawless, no matter the weather. It also seems to kick off spring in my mind, whatever thermometer says. The trip down Magnolia Lane is special this April, just as it was in 1934 when the first tournament was played or 50 years ago when the members of Arnie’s Army cheered their hero on to his last major championship. This is one of those moments when we can remember that despite all the challenges and disagreements we face, some things remain transcendent. 

 

Saving babies: An inexpensive, easy oxygen test can prevent many deaths.

 
I wanted to share this article written by Susan Berger at The Washington Post. The pulse oximeter test is a simple, pain-free test that takes seconds to administer. Right now this test is not available at all hospitals, but Children's National Medical Center in Washington, DC is leading the way to make this test a standard procedure throughout the country and the world.

Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) is the most common birth defect. Performed at 24 hours of life, a pulse oxmietery (pulse ox) test can determine whether some babies have critical congenital heart disease and possibly save his or her life. 

I have a website up-- www.specialheartfamily.com -- with more information on this life saving test and on ways you can help the initiative. I also have more information on my son and our battle with CHD. The doctor mentioned in this article--Dr. Gerard Martin-- is the doctor who diagnosed Paul and delivered the news to my wife and me about Paul's condition.

Thank you to Susan for bringing awareness to CHD and to the families in the article for sharing their stories.

///////////////////////////////

By Susan Berger

http://bitly.com/1qeXFgR

Olivia Easley gave birth to her third child on April 26, 2009. The baby appeared pink and healthy, nursed well and had gained weight by her first doctor’s visit.

But when the baby, Veronica, was about 6 weeks old, she started having difficulty nursing, seemed to be in pain and began vomiting. Her pediatrician thought it might be reflux and suggested that Easley, a physician from Bethesda who works for the Food and Drug Administration, change her diet.

When things hadn’t improved a few days later, Easley scheduled another trip to the pediatrician. That evening, she put Veronica down for a nap after nursing her. Easley heard a bit of crying about an hour later and then silence. Going into the baby’s room to check on her, Easley found Veronica flipped onto her stomach. She turned her over — and discovered that her child was not breathing.

“Finding her dead — it’s unimaginable,” Easley said. “I felt like the floor was ripped out from under me — suddenly floating — you want to escape, and this must be a horrific nightmare. Just seconds before, my life was great and now I’m in hell, and how did this happen?”

Veronica Easley, the medical examiner said, died of total anomalous pulmonary venous connection (TAPVC), one of the heart defects that make up critical congenital heart disease.

“The medical examiner said it was amazing she lived seven weeks,” Easley said. “I was relieved they found something on autopsy, but when I learned more of her condition and that it could have been fixed, I got really angry.”

Here’s why. As Easley did more research into her daughter’s death, she learned that a pilot program had started just months earlier at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring. (Easley had delivered at a different hospital.) The program’s goal was to screen every newborn with a simple pulse oximeter test that can help detect heart problems such as Veronica’s, allowing doctors to respond. About 40,000 U.S. babies are born every year with congenital heart defects, 400 of them with the deformity that killed Veronica.

The pulse oximeter is a hand-held device that uses a sensor clipped to the fleshy part of a hand or foot to measure oxygen saturation in the blood. It provides noninvasive and low-cost screening that can help detect congenital heart defects that often are associated with abnormally low levels of blood oxygen. According to the American Heart Association, the test takes as little as 45 seconds. When the screening identifies newborns with low oxygen saturation, additional tests can be done to identify and respond to the problem. Pulse oximeters sell online for as little as around $30 for a simple model to more than $200 for a hospital-grade model.

“Congenital heart defects affect one in every 100 live births,” said Gerard Martin, a pediatric cardiologist who is senior vice president of the Center for Heart, Lung and Kidney Disease at Children’s National Medical Center. If children with critical congenital heart disease do not receive treatment within the first weeks or months of life, the risks of harm or even death can be very high, Martin said. “It’s very important for us to find these babies early. If we find them, we can save 98 to 100 percent.”

Dylan Coleman, who was born in 2012, may owe his life to the use of a pulse oximeter. His mother, Michelle, delivered the infant at Holy Cross without incident, but as she and her husband were preparing to bring Dylan home two days later, they were told a pulse oximetry test had raised a red flag. (Maryland has required that hospitals administer the tests since 2011.) The hospital performed an echocardiogram that day; when it showed some aortic problems, Dylan was whisked away to Children’s for further treatment and surgery. Two weeks later he was discharged and is now doing fine, Coleman says.

“If we had delivered in D.C., where we live, he would have been discharged — [hospitals in the District] were not testing at the time,” Coleman said. Doctors told her Dylan most likely would have gone into congestive heart failure and died within 48 hours, of being discharged, Coleman said.

Martin said all District hospitals now use pulse oximetry screening as part of a project initiated by Children’s. An advisory panel has recommended that the test be mandated.

Virginia has had voluntary screening at some hospitals since 2010; legislation mandating screening at hospitals with maternity sections went into effect in February.

Martin said studies 15 years ago first showed the promise of pulse oximetry in detecting cardiac defects in newborns, but more research needed to be done to make the case. A 2009 study of nearly 40,000 infants in Sweden concluded that pulse oximetry screening before discharge was a cost-effective and quite reliable way of detecting potentially serous cardiovascular problems in newborns.

Martin said that in 2009-2010 Children’s pulled together pediatricians, neonatologists, nurses, obstetricians and representatives of the FDA, the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to look at the issue. The result was a recommendation that the federal government put pulse oximetry on the official list of tests that doctors should regularly perform on newborns. That recommendation was adopted in 2011.

Indiana and Maryland were the first states to mandate universal screening in 2011. As of the beginning of this year, 35 states, including Virginia, have passed legislation requiring testing.

Martin says it’s important to get such legislation on the books. “It’s a problem that it is not a mandate because this could all go away,” he says. “And it doesn’t cover the 5 to 6 percent of babies delivered by midwives.”

Mairi Breen Rothman of M.A.M.A.S. (Metro Area Midwives & Allied Services) said her organization added pulse oximeters to its Washington area practice a few months ago.

“We felt it was important after Maryland [passed the law requiring pulse oximetry]. We are diligent in our care of babies and didn’t want our babies falling through the cracks,” said Breen Rothman, a certified nurse-midwife for 18 years.

For Martin, getting people to adopt the test is a no-brainer. Pulse oximetry costs no more than about $1 per baby, yet that early intervention can change lives. “We want to fix them early and fix them right,” Martin says.

Berger is a freelance journalist who writes about health issues.

 

Future Green Jacket Winners??

Our little golfers getting ready for the 2014 Masters-- Nice swing! 

 

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