National briefs: 7/1/14

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Church drops study guide

NEW YORK — After months of outrage over a publication that critics say denigrates Israel, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is no longer selling the study guide “Zionism Unsettled” on thechurch’s website.

The study guide was prepared by a Presbyterian advocacy group, the Israel/Palestine Mission Network, as a resource for discussions in churches, and it contains essays that cast the theology and history of Zionism as inherently racist and unjust.

At its general assembly in Detroit last month, the church passed a measure declaring that “Zionism Unsettled” did not represent official church policy, but the guide remained for sale on the church’s website. Later at its Detroit assembly, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) became the first major Protestant denomination to vote to divest its holdings in three companies that it says sell equipment to Israel for use in occupied territories in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

 

Gay-conversion case

 WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday turned down a request to hear a challenge to a California law prohibiting mental health counseling aimed at converting minors from being gay to straight. The justices let stand a ruling by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that found the state had demonstrated that such conversion counseling does not have scientific merit. The appeals court ruled the law does not violate the free-speech rights of counselors and patients.

 

Drone access stalling

WASHINGTON — The federal effort to provide drones regular access to U.S. skies faces significant hurdles and won’t meet a September 2015 deadline set by Congress, a government watchdog said Monday. Despite years of research, the Federal Aviation Administration hasn’t figured out what kind of technology unmanned aircraft should use to avoid crashing into other planes and to prevent lost links with ground control stations, Matthew Hampton, the Transportation Department’s assistant inspector general for aviation, said in a report.

 

French bank pleads guilty

 WASHINGTON — France’s largest bank, BNP Paribas, pleaded guilty Monday and agreed to pay nearly $9 billion to resolve criminal allegations that it processed transactions for clients in Sudan and other blacklisted countries in violation of U.S. trade sanctions, the Justice Department announced.

After months of negotiations, the bank admitted to violating U.S. trade sanctions by conducting currency transactions for clients in Sudan, Cuba and Iran. The transactions were made through the bank’s New York office from at least 2004 through 2012. The United States had imposed the sanctions on the countries to block their participation in the global financial system.

BNP entered a guilty plea in state court in New York City and is expected to do the same today in federal court, officials said.

 

Zimmerman suit tossed

SANFORD, Fla. — A judge on Monday put an end to George Zimmerman’s libel suit against NBC Universal.

Circuit Judge Debra Nelson ruled that the former neighborhood watch volunteer is entitled to no money from the media giant. Mr. Zimmerman had filed suit two years ago, accusing NBC of falsely portraying him as a racist in a series of broadcasts shortly after he killed Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black 17-year-old, in Sanford.

 

 


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