NC’s Bathroom Bill, Drone Developments, ‘Poverty, Inc.,’ and Remembering Marc Lee

SIGNS AND WONDERS

A Day in Court. After all the hubbub and drama, North Carolina’s “bathroom bill” is finally being heard in court. On Monday, according to WORLD, “a district judge [was] considering whether to block its enforcement while courts determine its constitutionality.” The North Carolina law says men must use men’s restrooms and women must use women’s restrooms, regardless of “gender identity.” The law became necessary when Charlotte, the state’s largest city, passed an ordinance that would allow transgender people to choose which bathroom and locker room they wished to use in schools and government buildings. U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder will preside over the case in November. The purpose of Monday’s hearing was to give him enough information to make a decision about implementation of the law until there can be a full trial. “I will endeavor to make a decision as soon as I can,” he said. “I know school is about to ramp up.”

Drone Developments. 
On July 25, Amazon announced it was partnering with the British government to test drone package delivery. This does not mean drone delivery will be the norm any time soon, but the agreement between Amazon and the U.K. Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) allows the online retailer to test “beyond-line-of-sight operations in rural and suburban areas,” according to the trade publication TechCrunch. This development is important because U.S.’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been resistant to drone technology, and the fact that the U.K. is moving forward could have the U.S. playing catch-up in the years ahead. Amazon drones can fly up to 10 miles at a speed of 50 miles per hour, and they are currently already in the testing phase in Canada and the Netherlands. Drone technology could create a revolution in package delivery, allowing especially small and light packages—including books—to be delivered within hours of ordering, while taking delivery vehicles off of already crowded roads. However, privacy and property rights advocates say drones create a myriad of legal and ethical concerns, especially since drones will likely operate in airspace below 400 feet, below commercial airspace.

Do The Math. India has more than a billion people. Since 2000, the per capita gross domestic product in India has more than quadrupled, resulting in trillions of dollars in new wealth in the country. That far outstrips all the foreign aid and charity showered on India during that same 16-year period. Most of the growth in India has been the result of deregulation, a crackdown on cronyism, and the strengthening of the legal system—including bankruptcy law—that makes it possible for small entrepreneurs to register businesses and gain access to capital. That these reforms are working is not surprising to Michael Matheson Miller of the Acton Institute. He is the director of the powerful movie “Poverty, Inc.,” now available on Netflix. Miller told me that “poor people are not poor because they don’t have stuff. They are poor because they don’t have access to the systems and processes that create wealth. These include private property rights and access to institutions of justice”—courts that enforce laws and contracts. To hear more of what Miller has to say about the pathologies of the poverty industry, including much of what passes for “Christian charity,” listen to my interview with him here.

Remembering Marc Lee. If you’ve ever read the book or seen the movie “American Sniper,” the name Marc Lee may be familiar to you. He was featured prominently in both. I never met Marc Lee, but I think of him every time I speak at Summit Ministries in Manitou Springs, Colorado, which is where I spent most of last week. Summit is a two-week apologetics and worldview camp. As a teenager, Lee attended Summit twice. He later studied Bible at The Master’s College in California, considering becoming a pastor before choosing instead to become a Navy SEAL. A plaque commemorating Lee’s life is prominently displayed in the main classroom at Summit, because Marc Lee was the first Navy SEAL killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Lee’s Silver Star citation (awarded posthumously) reads in part: “To protect the lives of his teammates, he fearlessly exposed himself to direct enemy fire by engaging the enemy with his machine gun and was mortally wounded in the engagement. His brave actions in the line of fire saved the lives of many of his teammates. Petty Officer Lee’s courageous leadership, operational skill, and selfless dedication to duty, reflected great credit upon him and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.” Marc Lee died on Aug. 2, 2006, 10 years ago today. Requiem in pace.

Image courtesy of tiero at Thinkstock by Getty Images.

Warren Cole Smith is an investigative journalist and author as well as the Colson Center vice president for mission advancement.


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