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Indiana lawmaker pushing bill to insulate government Nativity scenes from atheist legal ‘threats’

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An Indiana Republican lawmaker is planning to introduce a bill he said would allow government agencies to display Nativity scenes and protect them from litigation by atheists and civil rights groups, WXIN-TV reported.

“We are as a nation allowing this to continue,” state Sen. Jim Smith (R) said. “We are certainly stealing Christmas from our children and from our culture.”

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The “Merry Christmas Bill,” as it is called, is modeled after a Texas law passed last year. The proposal would allow local officials, as well as public schools, to put up Christmas displays or hold Christmas events as long as they include other faiths. An earlier version of Smith’s bill was approved unanimously in the state Senate during the last session, but was not voted on in the state House.

Smith told the Indianapolis Star that the bill was necessary because of disputes like the one involving a Nativity display in front of the Franklin County courthouse.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana (ACLU) and Freedom from Religion Foundation filed a suit contesting the legality of the display, but reached an agreement with county officials to maintain it through the Christmas holiday pending a court decision.

“The tactics are certainly threats and intimidation to silence people,” Smith said of the lawsuit.

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However, critics said that state agencies cannot be protected from lawsuits under the Establishment Clause of the 14th Amendment.

“It’s rudimentary that the U.S. Constitution trumps anything they try to do,” ACLU attorney Gavin Rose said. “A lot of people really do get into this war on Christmas thing. It’s not a war on Christmas. It’s an attempt to make sure government abides by what the constitution recognizes is governments role actually is.”

Watch WXIN’s report, as posted online on Monday, below.

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[h/t CNN]


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‘He’s cooked’: Sam Donaldson warns Trump the Senate may vote to convict him after impeachment trial

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Veteran newsman Sam Donaldson on Monday evening told CNN viewers not to assume that Senate Republicans would refuse to remove President Donald Trump from office during an impeachment vote.

"Breaking news," CNN Don Lemon alerted. "A CNN source saying that the effort to pressure Ukraine for political help alarmed John Bolton so much that the told an aide to alert White House lawyers that Giuliani was a hand grenade who will blow everyone up. And a source familiar with Fiona Hill’s testimony says the former Russia adviser told lawmakers she was she saw wrongdoing in the Ukraine policy and reported it."

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John Bolton ripped Rudy Giuliani as a drug dealer and ‘hand grenade’: report

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Then-National Security Advisor John Bolton was reportedly shocked by the shadow foreign policy being conducted by Rudy Giuliani, a top former National Security Council official testified to Congress on Monday, The New York Times reports.

"The effort to pressure Ukraine for political help provoked a heated confrontation inside the White House last summer that so alarmed John R. Bolton, then the national security adviser, that he told an aide to alert White House lawyers, House investigators were told on Monday," the newspaper reported. "Mr. Bolton got into a sharp exchange on July 10 with Gordon D. Sondland, the Trump donor turned ambassador to the European Union, who was working with Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, to press Ukraine to investigate Democrats, according to testimony provided to the investigators."

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‘Vladimir Putin has something on Donald Trump’: Ambassador Sherman says the Kremlin must have kompromat

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Former Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman concluded on Monday that Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin must have "something" on President Donald Trump.

"The latest reporting from The New York Times indicates that the thousands of troops that we have there, that the president moved, are now trapped. They don’t have an actual way out since Turkey has cut off the roads and the exit routes that they might use and so now there is the question of will there be an airlift? How will we get the U.S. troops out?" MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell asked.

"We haven’t had to get troops out like this since the fall of Saigon," Sherman replied. "This is going to be very, very difficult."

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