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Several near-simultaneous blasts tore through three churches and three luxury hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, the bloodiest outbreak of violence in the South Asian country since civil war ended a decade ago.

No one has claimed responsibility. Since the decades-long conflict between the majority Sinhalese and minority Tamils ended in 2009 a religious divide has taken hold. Buddhist nationalists accuse Muslims of attacking Buddhist shrines and trying to recruit Buddhist children, which Muslims deny.

Here is a look at the sites targeted in the blasts.

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CHURCHES

St. Anthony’s Shrine: This Roman Catholic church, located in the Kochchikade suburb of Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, is one of the country’s best-known churches. Its roots reach back to the 18th century Dutch colonial period, when Catholicism was forbidden and priests would often hold services in secret. Local beliefs say the church’s founder, disguised as a merchant, helped a seaside fishing community by praying to stop the sea from eroding their village. The church was later built near the site.

St. Sebastian’s Church: This Catholic church is in Negombo, a largely Catholic town north of Colombo. Built in the Gothic style, it was patterned on the Reims Cathedral in France and was completed in the 1940s.

Zion Church: This church is in the eastern coastal city of Batticaloa. It was founded in the 1970s.

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HOTELS

The Shangri-La Hotel: This towering, luxurious hotel is located near Colombo’s main business district and is just a few steps from the sea. It has 500 guest rooms and suites and 41 serviced apartments.

The Kingsbury Colombo Hotel: This luxury hotel is located in Colombo’s city center, just a few minutes’ walk from the Shangri-La. It has 229 rooms.

The Cinnamon Grand Colombo hotel: This hotel is located about a mile (2 kilometers) from the Kingsbury and near the sea in a bustling business district. It has 483 rooms and 18 suites.

Source: Fox News World

Finance Minister Olaf Scholz addresses a news conference to present the budget plans for 2019 and the upcoming years in Berlin
Finance Minister Olaf Scholz addresses a news conference to present the budget plans for 2019 and the upcoming years in Berlin, Germany March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

March 20, 2019

BERLIN (Reuters) – With solid public finances and a vibrant domestic economy, Germany is well placed to withstand headwinds from a weakening world economy, trade disputes and the risk of a no-deal Brexit, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said on Wednesday.

“The economic situation in Germany remains good,” Scholz said. “We cannot find funding for everything we want but we can finance a lot,” he said, referring to falling tax revenues as the economy grows at a slower pace.

(Reporting by Madeline Chambers, writing by Joseph Nasr, editing by Michelle Martin)

Source: OANN

A manhunt is currently underway for a gunman who shot multiple people at the Oceano Dunes State Park in San Luis Obispo County, California, on Sunday, according to KSBY.

The San Luis Obispo County Sherriff’s Office (SLO) said the shooting happened just after midnight and no arrests have been made.

The public is asked to stay clear of the area for the time being, KSBY reported.

WOMAN ‘INFATUATED’ WITH COLUMBINE DIED DAY SHE ARRIVED IN COLORADO, BEFORE WARNINGS ISSUED:CORONER

Ambulances were called and five people have been transported to the hospital, according to a tweet from CAL Fire SLO.

Sheriff spokesman Grace Norris didn’t have an update on the conditions of the five people shot, but she added there were no fatalities so far.

Norris said there was a gathering in the south end of the dunes on Saturday night around the same time of the shooting and police were called just after midnight.

It’s not clear yet if there was more than one shooter, but Norris doesn’t believe the public is at risk.

Detectives stayed on the scene on Sunday conducting interviews and processing evidence.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA BOULEVARD UNVEILED IN LOS ANGELES

CAL Fire SLO tweeted an update at 9:51 a.m. EST that the SLO Sheriff’s office will be taking over the investigation.

Around the same time, SLO County Sheriff’s Office sent out a Tweet saying further information will be released as the investigation continues.

The Dunes have remained closed since the incident, but the area is expected to re-open soon, reported KSBY.

Source: Fox News National

The protesters in Sudan wave national flags, chant “freedom” and bang plastic drums in the sweltering summer heat, while others man makeshift clinics or prepare meals for fellow demonstrators.

For nearly four months, thousands of people protested across Sudan, calling for autocratic president Omar al-Bashir to step down. Their wish came true on April 11, when the military ended his 30-year rule and placed him under house arrest.

But it wasn’t enough for the demonstrators, who fear an army dominated by al-Bashir appointees will cling to power or select one of its own to succeed him. So thousands of people continue to gather at a sit-in outside the military headquarters in Khartoum set up April 6.

“They will make us suffer, so that is why we insist that the sit-in continues,” said Abubakr al-Awad, 23. “They said they want to stay for two years, we will stay three years.”

Demonstrators have called for an “immediate and unconditional” transfer of power to a four-year civilian government, while the military has said its own transitional council will rule for up to two years until elections can be organized.

The Sudanese Professionals Association, which is behind the protests, has urged people to join the sit-in and defend it from any attempts by the military to disperse the demonstrators.

That means spending long days under a relentless sun, with temperatures hovering above 40 degrees Celsius (100 Fahrenheit).

A network of volunteers helps keep the demonstration going, with doctors and nurses staffing clinics set up in the streets surrounding the sit-in.

Al-Awad, a recent medical school graduate, has been volunteering since last week, spending most of his time helping patients from the sit-in. On Tuesday, dozens of protesters suffered from heat exhaustion, and in one clinic a man could be seen receiving an IV drip.

“There is a system in place where those who have, give, and those who don’t have, take,” said al-Awad.

Dafallah Awad, 34, said the country has been ruined by al-Bashir’s government. He has never been able to get a full-time job. “The regime has stolen all our rights,” he said.

A few tents over from the clinic, a group of women prepare lunch for the crowds. The volunteers pool their money to buy supplies to make food on site for anyone who wants it.

“We don’t want people to go back home,” said Razan Hassan al-Tayeb, 29, who was helping prepare a meal of lentils. “People come just as they are and they don’t come with anything, so we are trying to make people not go back home hungry or thirsty or something like that.”

Al Tayeb comes from a five-person household but says even though four of them are working, they can never make ends meet.

“Outside the sit-in, it’s a different place but inside the sit-in, this is the place that we dream of — freedom, where you can speak and have a voice. You can say whatever you want. Whatever you desire to say and reach the people,” she said.

Source: Fox News World

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: A Spanish National Police car is seen outside the North Korea's embassy in Madrid
FILE PHOTO: A Spanish National Police car is seen outside the North Korea’s embassy in Madrid, Spain February 28, 2019. REUTERS/Sergio Perez/File Photo

April 19, 2019

By Mark Hosenball

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. authorities on Thursday arrested a former U.S. Marine who is a member of a group that allegedly raided the North Korean embassy in Madrid in February and stole electronics, according to two sources familiar with the arrest.

Christopher Ahn was arrested and is expected to be arraigned on Friday in federal court in Los Angles, according to a law enforcement official and a source close to the group.

The U.S. Justice Department declined to comment.

In April, investigators said the intruders, self-professed members of a group seeking the overthrow of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, removed computers and hard drives from the embassy before fleeing to the United States, where they handed the material to the FBI. Sources said the material had been returned by Spanish authorities to Pyongyang’s mission.

A group of at least 10 people stormed into the embassy in February, restrained and physically beat some personnel and held them hostage for hours before fleeing, the Spanish court said earlier.

The anti-Kim group, which calls itself Cheolima Civil Defense, said the raid was not an attack and that it had been invited into the embassy.

Three of the intruders took an embassy official into the basement during the raid and encouraged him to defect from North Korea, according to a detailed document made public on March 26 by the Spanish court.

The document included the names of the leaders of the group, some of whom are believed to be in the United States, while others could have left for other countries. The court is seeking their extradition.

(Reporting by Mark Hosenball. Writing by Ginger Gibson.; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

Source: OANN



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FINAL HUMILIATION…

British Prime Minister Theresa May announced Friday that she “will shortly leave the job that has been the honor of my life to hold.”

The long-anticipated address, outside Downing Street, confirms that May will step down as the leader of the Conservative Party on June 7. She will remain prime minister until the party chooses a new leader, a process that will take approximately six weeks.

In many ways, May’s announcement marks a solemn end to a profoundly weak yet surprisingly stable premiership. But if the past three turbulent years of parliamentary deadlock, infighting, and division have demonstrated anything, it’s that May’s leadership ended a long time ago.

Her premiership didn’t begin that way. When May succeeded David Cameron as prime minister in July 2016, she inherited a parliamentary majority and a 20-point lead in the polls over the opposition Labour Party. She was dubbed the “New Iron Lady,” in a favorable nod to the country’s only other female prime minister, Margaret Thatcher. But she also inherited a policy challenge of historic proportions: to deliver on a referendum result she didn’t support, and take Britain out of the European Union.

Whatever strength she had at the start of her premiership, she quickly lost. First, May made the consequential decision on March 29, 2017, to trigger Article 50, the EU’s time-limited exit procedure, thereby setting into motion a two-year countdown for the country’s departure. Less than a month later, in a profound miscalculation, she announced a snap general election in a bid to increase a parliamentary majority that she would ultimately come to lose. By the time negotiations with the EU formally kicked off in Brussels in July, May lacked a governing majority and, crucially, a plan. Time had already started running out.

The ill-fated call for a snap election was the beginning of the end for May. Still, she persisted—first by striving to reach a negotiated deal on the terms of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, and once more by attempting to rally enough parliamentary support behind it. If there were questions about whether the agreement had any support among members of her own party, they were soon dispelled: It did not.

Throughout it all, there were many false starts to the end of the May era. Many, many false starts. But in the end, it wasn’t the 36 cabinet resignations, the Tory infighting, or the multiple challenges to her leadership that spelled the end for this British prime minister. Rather, it was her thrice-defeated Brexit deal and her bid this week to bring it back for a fourth and final vote in Parliament.

Paradoxically, it was May’s unpopular deal with the EU that has enabled her to last this long. When the prime minister offered assurances to her Conservative Party colleagues in December that she wouldn’t lead the party into the next general election, she did so in a twin bid to avoid a no-confidence vote in her leadership and salvage her negotiated agreement with the European Union outlining the terms of Britain’s withdrawal from the bloc. Three months later, she spelled out that aim even further by pledging to step down just as soon as members of Parliament passed her deal. When she presented lawmakers with “one last chance” to deliver on Brexit by backing a new, “compromise” agreement, it was clear there was no hope for her deal passing muster in Parliament—and no hope for her.

The race to succeed May is already well under way. Whoever replaces her will undoubtedly face the same parliamentary deadlock and division that she did—and will likely face the same challenge of delivering Brexit. “He or she will have to find consensus in Parliament where I have not,” May said, calling on her successor to reach a compromise that she was ultimately never able to deliver.

“She’ll be [remembered as] the prime minister that failed to deliver Brexit,” Anand Menon, the director of the London-based research institute UK in a Changing Europe, told me. “And that was the only thing that she tried to do.”

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.

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Soccer: U.S. players want more investment in women’s game

Soccer: U.S. Women's National Team World Cup Media Day
May 24, 2019; New York, NY, USA; Carli Lloyd , Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe take questions during the U.S. Women's National Team World Cup media day at Twitter NYC. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

May 24, 2019

By Amy Tennery

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The 1999 U.S. women’s team may defy comparison in the eyes of many soccer fans but, 20 years after their famous World Cup triumph, the challenges they faced are all too familiar with pay and conditions still at the top of the agenda.

Soccer’s world governing body FIFA has boosted the prize money for this year’s women’s World Cup to $30 million but that figure is dwarfed by the roughly $448 million on offer at the men’s tournament in Russia last year.

“For the resources and for the ability that FIFA has to implement that change (more investment), they’re not doing nearly enough,” co-captain Megan Rapinoe said on Friday. “I hope that it’s just so much better (in 20 years) than it is now.”

The success of the 1999 team, playing in front of huge home crowds, turned players like Mia Hamm into household names and inspired a generation of girls and female athletes, even if the promise of widespread gender parity in sports remains elusive.

In March, the U.S. women’s squad sued U.S. Soccer for gender discrimination, saying the sport’s national organizing body paid them less than the men’s team despite their superior performance and provided them with sub-standard facilities.

Julie Foudy, a midfielder on the 1999 team, told Reuters earlier this week that she was “frustrated” there was still a need to pursue the dispute.

“It’s exhausting to keep fighting that fight and especially (for them) to do it right before a World Cup,” Foudy said.

All 23 members of this year’s squad spoke to the media ahead of Sunday’s friendly against Mexico, part of a farewell series of friendlies ahead of next month’s tournament in France where they will be defending the title they won in 2015.

“I think it’s pretty clear women in sport have not been treated with the same care and financing that men’s sports has,” said Rapinoe.

Despite the frustration over the progress made by the women’s game since the U.S. beat China 5-4 on penalties to win the 1999 World Cup, that triumph continues to resonate.

Co-captain Alex Morgan, who has drawn comparisons to Hamm, said the 1999 team were very influential in her development.

“The ’99ers had a huge impact on me and growing my passion to want to play, and being good friends with a lot of them now, I still draw a lot of inspiration from them,” she said.

The U.S. launch their title defense against Thailand on June 11 in Group F which also features Sweden and Chile.

(Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Ken Ferris)

Source: OANN

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At Amazon, facial recognition ban won just 2% of shareholder vote

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Amazon is seen at the company logistics centre in Boves
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Amazon is seen at the company logistics centre in Boves, France, August 8, 2018. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol/File Photo

May 24, 2019

By Jeffrey Dastin

(Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc shareholders overwhelmingly rejected a proposal that the company stop selling facial recognition technology to government agencies, a regulatory filing on Friday showed.

Some 2.4% of votes were in favor of the closely watched resolution, while the remaining votes were against it and some were in abstention. The tally excludes broker non-votes.

Amazon’s sale of the technology to law enforcement in Oregon and Florida has put the company at the center of a growing U.S. debate over facial recognition, with critics warning of false matches and arrests and proponents arguing it keeps the public safe.

Drawing more shareholder support was a second proposal that called for a study of the extent to which Amazon’s service harmed civil rights and privacy. Some 27.5% of votes were in favor.

These and other resolutions faced an uphill battle to winning majority support, with Amazon’s board recommending against them and founder and Chief Executive Jeff Bezos controlling 16% of the stock and voting rights.

Among other issues on the ballot was a request to make it easier for shareholders to call a special meeting, which garnered 35.3% of votes. A proposal that the company report how it plans to deal with climate change received 29.8% of votes. Nearly 7,700 employees had signed a letter of support of the climate resolution in a sign of rising worker activism at Amazon.

(Reporting by Jeffrey Dastin in San Francisco; Editing by Leslie Adler and Richard Chang)

Source: OANN

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Trump will tap ex-Virginia attorney general for U.S. immigration agency: Washington Post

FILE PHOTO - Former Virginia Attorney General Cuccinelli speaks at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames
FILE PHOTO - Former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli speaks at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa August 9, 2014. REUTERS/Brian Frank?

May 24, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump will pick former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli as the head of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Washington Post reported on Friday.

Cuccinelli will replace L. Francis Cissna as the head of the agency, which manages the country’s legal immigration system. Cissna told staff in a farewell letter on Friday he had resigned at the president’s request, effective June 1, a USCIS official said.

The White House is still figuring out what exactly Cuccinelli will be doing in his new role, the Post reported. A White House official did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

As Virginia’s attorney general and a state senator, Cuccinelli developed a reputation as a hardliner.

In Virginia, he called for denying citizenship to U.S.-born children if their parents are in the country illegally, introduced a proposal barring unemployment benefits to people who were fired from jobs for not speaking English and authorized law enforcement officials to investigate the immigration status of anyone they stopped.

Cuccinelli will likely face a pitched battle for the Senate approval of his nomination, though it is controlled by Trump’s Republican party.

Cuccinelli heads a political group that has clashed with Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, who has vowed to block Cuccinelli from being confirmed for any administration position, according to media reports.

He is also unlikely to receive much support from Senate Democrats.

In April, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen announced her departure from the Trump administration, raising the specter of more firings of senior immigration officials.

Trump is seeking to overhaul the U.S. immigration system and has sought to crack down on illegal immigrants, but has been largely unable to enact the sweeping changes he has sought.

Cuccinelli met with Trump on Monday and was expected to be picked for an immigration policy position by the president.

(Reporting by Makini Brice, Yeganeh Torbati and Roberta Rampton in Washington; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

Source: OANN

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Navaho Code Talker and NM Senator Dies at 94

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SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — John Pinto, a Navajo Code Talker in World War II who became one of the nation’s longest serving Native American elected officials as a New Mexico state senator, has died. He was 94.

Senate colleague Michael Padilla confirmed Pinto’s death in Gallup on Friday after years of suffering from various illnesses that rarely kept him from his duties.

After serving as a Marine, Pinto was selected to the Senate in 1976 and represented a district that included the Navajo Nation for more than four decades. The region is one of the poorest in the country.

Born in Lupton, Arizona, on the Navajo Nation to a family of sheep herders, Pinto didn’t start formal schooling until he was nearly a teenager.

“At the age of 12, I was in kindergarten,” Pinto told the Albuquerque Journal in a 2007 interview. “I guess I did all right.”

After serving as a Navajo Code Talker — a group of radio men translating American coordinates and messages into an indecipherable code based on the Navajo language — Pinto had to take an English test four times before he was finally admitted into the University of New Mexico’s College of Education. He graduated with a bachelor’s in elementary education at 39 and eventually earned his master’s.

Like many returning Native American veterans, Pinto delved into politics to address the needs of impoverished indigenous populations. The Democrat won a seat in state Senate in 1976 as one of the state’s first Native American senators.

Read More:
https://apnews.com/d01db5e875d54a94b61e297bd2134c06

Photo Credit: Morgan Lee/AP File

Source: The Washington Pundit

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Trump bypasses Congress on Saudi arms sales, citing Iran threat

The Trump administration on Friday informed Congress the president will invoke his emergency authority to bypass lawmakers' approval of arms sales to Saudi Arabia, citing the threat to the United States from Iran.

The move comes as Trump announced plans Friday to send about 1,600 troops to the Middle East amid rising tensions with Iran.

TRUMP APPROVES PENTAGON PLAN TO SEND MORE U.S. TROOPS TO MIDDLE EAST

"Iran’s malign activity poses a fundamental threat to the stability of the Middle East and to Americans at home and abroad. We took this step of prudent diplomatic deterrence to augment our partners’ long-term capacity for self-defense and threat mitigation," a senior State Department official told Fox News.

The official added, "Congress won’t act, but we will. "

The administration is using an emergency loophole in the Arms Export Control Act to move ahead with sales of $7 billion in precision-guided munitions, other bombs, ammo and aircraft maintenance support to Saudi Arabia, along with the United Arab Emirates and Jordan, without lawmakers' approval.

The chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Republican Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho, said he was "reviewing and analyzing the legal justification for this action and the associated implications."

The administration pointed out that this authority has been invoked by past presidents on multiple occasions, including in 1979, 1984, 1990 and 2006.

The plan was swiftly condemned by Democratic senators.

“I am disappointed, but not surprised, that the Trump administration has failed once again to prioritize our long-term national security interests or stand up for human rights, and instead is granting favors to authoritarian countries like Saudi Arabia,” said New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“President Trump circumventing Congress to sell more weapons to Saudi Arabia is unacceptable,” said California Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

“President Trump is only using this loophole because he knows Congress would disapprove of this sale,” said Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

In his notification, Pompeo said he had made the determination "that an emergency exists which requires the immediate sale" of the weapons "in order to deter further the malign influence of the government of Iran throughout the Middle East region." He said the transfers "must occur as quickly as possible in order to deter further Iranian adventurism in the Gulf and throughout the Middle East."

It comes as the administration has actively courted close ties with Saudi Arabia over congressional objections, notably following the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S.-based columnist for The Washington Post, by Saudi agents in October.

There is a precedent for using the emergency exemption for arms sales to Saudi Arabia. President Ronald Reagan invoked it in the 1980s, and both Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush used it for sales before the 1991 Gulf War and the 2003 Iraq war, respectively.

Fox News’ Rich Edson, Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

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Trump administration to reportedly let allow federally funded adoption agencies to reject same-sex couples

President Trump's administration will reportedly reverse his predecessor's policy of blocking federal funding for religious adoption organizations that refuse to serve same-sex couples.

Administration officials, according to Axios Friday, debated to decide between two different provisions -- a religious-based exemption and striking down the previous administration's rule altogether -- to accomplish their goal without facing defeat in the courts.

The policy change would likely come in July and through the Health and Human Services Department's Office of Civil Rights, a group that has been at the forefront of angering progressives with rules advancing Trump's religious freedom agenda.

Roger Severino, director of that office, reportedly refused to comment directly on the issue.

PROTECTIONS EXPANDED FOR DOCTORS WITH 'CONSCIENCE' OBJECTIONS TO ABORTIONS, OTHER PROCEDURES

The administration's reported decision reflected a broader battle in which states struggled to balance religious interests with those of same-sex couples. Multiple Catholic adoption agencies have already shut down, refusing to comply with anti-discrimination policies due to Church teaching on marriage and sex.

The reported policy drew swift condemnation from the Human Rights Campaign, which has derided similar measures at the state level.

"Quite literally the definition of cruel and evil," HRC president Chad Griffin tweeted on Friday.

CHRISTIAN ADOPTION AGENCY SUES NEW YORK AFTER STATE TRIES TO SHUT IT DOWN

"Our leaders should be making it easier for children in need of a loving home to find one, not trying to find new ways to license discrimination," he added. "This is unconscionable and an attack on families."

Conservatives have maintained that same-sex couples could seek opportunities with secular agencies. They've also argued that without religious exemptions, foster children would lose even more resources as longstanding agencies drop their practices altogether.

In Philadelphia, foster families sued the city over an ordinance that would force Catholic Social Services to end its program. The suit, according to the firm that brought the case, represented the first opportunity to test how courts viewed religious freedom in that context. A Christian adoption agency similarly sued the city of Syracuse after it gave them an ultimatum: serve same-sex couples or close shop.

The Supreme Court eventually dismissed a request to grant a preliminary injunction on behalf of the foster families in Philadelphia. Becket Fund senior counsel Lori Windham, who spearheaded that case, said HHS's current rules violated the First Amendment.

FEDERAL JUDGE BLOCKS MEDICAID WORK RULES IN SETBACK FOR TRUMP

HHS did not immediately provide comment when requested by Fox News.

"We need all hands on deck finding loving homes for kids. We have already seen this regulation used to try to shut down faith-based agencies in Michigan," Windham said in a statement provided to Fox News.

"HHS should admit that this rule violates the First Amendment. Then it should remove barriers to the full participation of faith-based adoption agencies."

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News of the administration's decision came on the same day that HHS faced blowback over a rule excluding "gender identity" from sex discrimination protections for health care.

HHS, along with the Education Department, took the controversial step of interpreting Title IX -- a sex discrimination statute -- as only applying to biological attributes rather than self-described identity.

Source: Fox News Politics











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