Mormon scholars fight against Trump travel ban

A group of 19 scholars of Mormon history filed a brief in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals over President Donald Trump’s blocked travel ban, pointing out similarities between the treatment of Mormon immigrants in the 19th century and Muslim immigrants today.

“I was very concerned about the administration’s targeting of Muslims,” Nate Oman, a professor of law at the College of William & Mary and main author of the brief told CNN. Government targeting of Mormons in the 19th century was the closest historical parallel, he said, and “I thought it would be useful to look at that story and bring it to the court’s attention.

Mob violence drove early Mormons from their homes in Missouri and Illinois in the 1830s and 1840s, and for decades after, the federal government attempted to restrict Mormon voting rights and halt foreign Mormon converts from immigrating to the US.

“The Mormon experience illustrates the harms that result from the government targeting a particular religion,” the brief reads. “The federal government’s actions against Mormons occurred at a time when First Amendment jurisprudence was in its infancy and the law blessed government actions that today would be blatantly unconstitutional.”

Oman believes attempts to restrict Muslims from entering the country are based in fear, a similarity to Mormonism. “I think most of it is fear as a result of 9/11 and terrorist attacks,” he said. “People assume Muslims are dangerous.”

The brief, filed last week, calls for the court to “prevent harms of the kind committed against the Mormon community in the past.”

Trump has attempted twice to pass travel bans by executive order, and both have been blocked by federal courts. His second, a revised ban that singled out six countries in the Middle East and Africa with Muslim-majority populations, was blocked hours before it was supposed to go into effect last month.

US District Court Judge Derrick Watson, who blocked the revised ban, said the intent was to stop Muslims from entering the country, citing Trump’s campaign promise for a “complete and total shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”

Trump called the block “unprecedented judicial overreach.”

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post incorrectly attributed a quote to W. Paul Reeve.

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Giant rabbit found dead after United flight

United Airlines has taken another blow to its image after a giant, apparently healthy rabbit died following a transcontinental flight.

The bunny was found dead at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, the same place passenger David Dao was dragged off a United flight earlier this month — dragging United’s reputation through the mud.

It happened when Simon, a 3-foot-long, 10-month-old Continental Giant rabbit, flew in from London’s Heathrow Airport to O’Hare on April 19.

“I haven’t got a clue who’s to blame, but it’s certainly very weird when Simon was so healthy,” said Annette Edwards, a breeder who sold the bunny.

The bunny was on his way to a new owner and died in the cargo hold area while waiting for a connecting flight, Edwards told CNN.

“A man in America wanted him brought over. He wanted to bring him over as a pet,” she said.

Simon is the progeny of Darius, which holds the Guinness world record for longest rabbit. He potentially could have surpassed his father’s size, Edwards said.

“I just feel that it’s such a sad thing that I didn’t really want to discuss it,” she said. “It’s never happened before, because if a rabbit has a full health check you don’t expect them to die.”

United ‘saddened’

In a statement sent to CNN, United said it was “saddened to hear this news.”

“The safety and well being of all the animals that travel with us is of the utmost importance to United Airlines and our PetSafe team,” the statement said. “We have been in contact with our customer and have offered assistance. We are reviewing this matter.”

The Department of Transportation reports on deaths on animals traveling by air every year and says the numbers are down.

According to its Air Travel Consumer Report (ATCR), 26 animals died in 2016. Compare that to how many animals were transported: 523,743.

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Muslim teen boxer inspires others to never give up

For this teen passionate about boxing, her fight to go toe-to-toe with an opponent goes far beyond the ring. She’s fighting for the right to compete in her hijab.

Amaiya Zafar, 16, started boxing three years ago and is already making waves in the boxing community. Not only is the Minnesota teen competing in a male-dominated sport, but she’s also a devout Muslim.

“When I walked into a real boxing gym for the first time, I knew this was it for the rest of my life,” she said.

In the ring, Zafar wears a hijab, long sleeves and leggings under her uniform. She was disqualified at a bout in November for wearing her hijab; it violated USA Boxing uniform regulations.

“Why should I have to compromise the sport that I love? This is my life.” Zafar told CNN affiliate WCCO. “I go to the gym every single day, why should I have to compromise that for my religion?”

She continued to train several days a week and study matches, just waiting for the chance to compete in the ring.

Zafar, her family, gym (Circle of Discipline) and The Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, have been petitioning the USA Boxing Association to add a religious exemption to its policies.

“You know, the battle is not given to the swift but to he who can endure it to the end,” Zafar said. “At the end of the day, if I never get to compete but get the rule changed so other Muslim girls in the US can compete, then I have won.”

The amateur boxer just won a victory last week that will allow her to compete in her religious attire. The USA Boxing Association granted Zafar a wavier to compete at local matches.

“USA Boxing is excited that our youth boxing programs attract stellar athletes from diverse walks of life, and we are in the process of amending our domestic competition rules specifically to accommodate the clothing and grooming mandates of our boxers’ religions,” USA Boxing spokesperson Mike McAtee said in a statement to CNN.

“These rules will provide exemptions so that athletes can box without running afoul of their beliefs.”

Years in the making, this weekend will be Zafar’s first official match where she is allowed to wear her hijab. And she’s also making boxing history.

She will be the first boxer allowed to fight in a USA Boxing-sanctioned event while wearing hijab, according to CAIR.

“It starts with one person and it doesn’t matter how small you are. It takes one person to spark change,” she said.

Zafar has her eyes set on the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. She has already started petitioning the International Boxing Association to have a religious exemption added to the rulebook.

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Homeless, terminally ill dogs find sanctuary here

The brown-eyed beagle rests his head on the edge of his bed, his eyes peering out as volunteers walk by and stop to pet him. He’s known as “Much Loved Bob,” and volunteers say he doesn’t have much time left.

He’s one of about 27 dogs roaming Michele and Jeff Allen’s living room. All of the dogs are near the end of their lives, but the home is not filled with sadness. It’s a peaceful home, sitting on six acres about an hour away from New York City.

Dogs sit on any piece of furniture they choose, and half of the house is designated “dog quarters,” with toddler beds — designed for young children but perfect for slow-moving dogs — arranged around an electrically heated fireplace.

It’s a home filled with smiling volunteers who cuddle with their favorite dogs on sofas, or run with them around a pond outside. There are regular visits from a vet, and fresh, home-cooked dog meals made from scratch.

The Allens founded nonprofit Monkey’s House, a hospice for aged dogs, and they and run it at their Southampton, New Jersey, home. There, they pluck some of the sickest animals, like Much Loved Bob, from shelters.

Nearly 670,000 dogs are euthanized in shelters every year, according to the ASPCA, and the Allens are focused on saving dogs whose health problems are so complex and expensive that they wouldn’t be able to get the kind of care they needed at shelters.

“If you don’t know how sick they are, sometimes you just find them passed away in their kennels and that’s just a sad ending for a dog that deserves to be so loved,” said Michele Allen.

The Allens collaborate with shelters, animal control groups and veterinarians to bring in the dogs. Michele takes in new residents, evaluating their situations on a case-by-case basis. Most of the dogs that are brought to Monkey’s House are homeless and facing death at kill shelters.

The passing of one sick foster pup gave the couple the push to make their foundation official in 2015. “Monkey,” a feisty 13-pound shelter dog with heart problems and bad teeth, inspired the Allens, and the shelter’s name.

“In losing Monkey the grief was really, really tough and the greatest thing we could do was push through our grief in honoring him, and Monkey loved other dogs,” Michele Allen told CNN.

A former nurse, she decided hospice for abandoned terminally ill dogs was the best way to use her healing hands.

“I used to take sick dogs and say, ‘Well I can handle this — I used to be a nurse.’ Now I think I was a nurse and that was my preparation for this,” she said.

There are typically around 20 dogs living at Monkey’s House with illnesses ranging from heart conditions to diabetes or cancer.

A dog with health problems such as heart disease can rack up over a thousand dollars in expenses per month. Multiplying that by 24 makes funding Monkey’s House a daunting task, Michele says.

Completely donation-based, the nonprofit gets help from benefactors, and a dog food company that donates over 60 pounds of food per week. They also get support from more than 50 volunteers who lighten the workload.

Monkey’s House has also picked up a loyal following of animal lovers on social media, posting daily photos and stories of shenanigans. Much Loved Bob was mourned by thousands of animal lovers on Facebook when he passed away the day after CNN’s visit.

“He’s an invisible statistic. He’s the one that got out, the one that 37,000 people on Facebook know about, care about, send good thoughts about. It’s pretty amazing that he’s getting all this love now and that his ending is very different than I think probably the rest of his life was,” Michele Allen said.

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April the giraffe: Help name her newborn

April the giraffe gave birth to her calf on April 15 at Animal Adventure Park, now the park is trying to decide what to name the newborn boy.

Over a million people watched April give birth on the park’s livestream, WIVT and WBGH TV report.

New York Upstate reports the Harpursville, New York, park has a contest to name April’s fourth calf.

To enter the contest, visit Animal Adventure Park’s baby naming website.

According to the website, you can enter and vote on as many names as you want.  Votes are $1 each with a minimum of five.

For 10 days, people can vote on any name or names and vote as many times as a you want, the website says.

After the end of the first part of the contest, the park will reveal the top 10 names and voting will begin on those names.  The website says the second phase will last about five days before revealing the winning name.

The website says the money raised will be split three ways.  The funds will go towards the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, Ava’s Little Heroes and Animal Adventure Park.

Click here to continue watching April and her calf on the livestream.



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