Largest Victory Yet Against ISIS Troops. Iraqis ReTake Tikrit

Iraqi Security Forces Recapture Tikrit From Islamic State
Largest victory yet against militant group
Iraqi security forces attack Islamic State extremists during clashes to regain the city of Tikrit on Monday.

March 31, 2015 10:39 a.m. ET
BAGHDAD—Iraq’s security forces have recaptured the city of Tikrit, Iraqi state media reported Tuesday, in what would be the largest victory yet against Islamic State insurgents since the Sunni extremist group seized swaths of the country last summer.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the recapture of the city in a speech on state television. Several semiofficial Shiite militias, known as public mobilization units, confirmed the news on their own television channels.

Shortly after the initial announcement, the prime minister’s spokesman told state television that Iraqi forces had reached the center of the city and raised the Iraqi flag on the provincial headquarters as troops continued to clear the city of insurgents.

“The successful experience of Tikrit will be repeated in other areas,” said Mr. Abadi, who lauded the security forces’ “protection of civilians and the few casualties among security forces.”

Write to Matt Bradley at

Eroding Freedom in Name of Freedom in Indiana

Eroding Freedom in the Name of Freedom

Thousands gathered outside the Indiana Statehouse on Saturday to protest a law that opponents say allows for bias against gays. When the federal government adopted a religious protection act in 1993, same-sex marriage was not on the horizon.

An informal coalition of liberals and conservatives endorsed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act because it seemed to protect members of vulnerable religious minorities from punishment for the exercise of their beliefs. The federal legislation was set off by a case involving Native Americans who were fired and denied unemployment benefits because they took part in ceremonies with peyote, an illegal drug.

Twenty states, including Indiana last week, have since passed their own versions of religious freedom laws.

But over time, court decisions and conservative legal initiatives started to change the meaning of those laws, according to liberal activists. The state laws were not used to protect minorities, these critics say, but to allow some religious groups to undermine the rights of women, gays and lesbians or other groups.

Indiana Governor Says Legislators May Clarify Religious Beliefs LawMARCH 29, 2015
The Final Four will be held at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, where the N.C.A.A. is based.

Protesters turned out last week in Indianapolis against an Indiana measure that lets businesses refuse to serve same-sex couples.Indiana Law Denounced as Invitation to Discriminate Against Gays MARCH 27, 2015
“The coalition broke apart over the civil rights issues,” said Eunice Rho, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union. The organization, which initially supported the measures, now opposes them unless they include language ensuring that they will not be used to permit discrimination or harm.

David C. Long, and Brian C. Bosma, Republican lawmakers in Indiana, said a law was not meant to discriminate.
In the 1990s, for example, in the kind of case that raised red flags for civil rights advocates, landlords cited religious beliefs, sometimes with success in court, after refusing to rent to unmarried heterosexual couples.

The clash of values erupted again after Indiana adopted its own version of a “religious freedom” act last week. Arkansas is expected to approve a similar law this week.

The furor has put Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana, who is considered a possible Republican presidential candidate, under national scrutiny. On Monday, Republican legislators in Indiana said they were searching with the governor for a possible amendment to the law to “clarify” that it does not permit discrimination against gays and lesbians.

“It is not the intent of the law to discriminate against anyone, and it will not be allowed to discriminate against anyone,” David. C. Long, president pro tem of the State Senate, said on Monday at a news conference with Brian C. Bosma, speaker of the State House of Representatives.

Indiana Democrats called for an outright repeal, while gay rights groups and even the mayor of Indianapolis, a Republican, called for strong new statewide anti-discrimination laws.

Indiana has already felt the political and economic fallout of enacting the law.

The Democratic mayors of San Francisco and Seattle have said they will ban city-funded travel to Indiana. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy of Connecticut, a Democrat, has said he plans to sign a similar executive order banning state-funded travel. The rock band Wilco said it had canceled a show scheduled for May 7 in Indianapolis.

In North Carolina on Monday, Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, said in a radio interview that he would not support a similar bill under consideration in his state’s Republican-dominated legislature.

Also Monday, two Republican White House hopefuls, Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz, defended the law.

“I think Governor Pence has done the right thing,” Mr. Bush told the conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt. “I think once the facts are established, people aren’t going to see this as discriminatory at all.”

While these laws do not mention gays or discrimination, the timing is no accident. As bans on same-sex marriage fall, those promoting such laws have made no secret of their desire to protect conservative Christian individuals and businesses, such as caterers and florists, who choose not to sell services to same-sex couples. This is not discrimination, the supporters say, but protecting religious liberty.

But a denial of service by public business is the essence of discrimination, civil rights groups respond. They add that these latest religious freedom laws include language that could open the way to even wider discrimination.

“With courts and legislatures ending bans on same-sex marriage, some who oppose it have turned to Plan B, the use of religion,” said Jennifer C. Pizer, director of the Law and Policy Project at Lambda Legal, a gay rights group. “Essentially, they are saying that if same-sex couples can come into the public arena, we want the right to selectively build a moat around ourselves.”

Christian conservatives are adamant that the laws are merely efforts to protect their faith and that this should not be called discrimination.

Refusing to serve a group of people. Where have we heard that before? It was illegal then and it is illegal now. Repeal this regressive…
Bill Appledorf 34 minutes ago
The same people bent out of shape because they think Muslims are going to impose “Sharia law” on them are trying to impose their religion on…
Kurtis Engle 1 hour ago
You mean, if i’m not religious, it’s immoral if I discriminate. And if I am, it isn’t. To put that another way, if I am a fine, upstanding…
“We do not ask the government to bless our doctrinal convictions, or to impose them on others,” said Russell Moore, who heads the policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention. “We simply ask the government not to set itself up as lord of our consciences.”

Starting with the federal act in 1993, all of the religious protection laws establish similar basic structures. A person or, according to last year’s Hobby Lobby decision in the Supreme Court, even a large company that is controlled by a religious family can challenge a governmental action on the ground that it imposes a significant burden on one’s faith.

A judge must then decide whether the action was taken in furtherance of a “compelling governmental interest” and whether it is the “least restrictive” means of furthering that interest.

In a January decision, the Supreme Court ruled that under the 1993 law, a Muslim man in federal prison could keep a short beard.

That is a prototypical example of what most saw as the original purpose of the act, said Katherine M. Franke, the faculty director of the Public Rights/Private Conscience Project at Columbia Law School.

Contrary to the assertion by Governor Pence, the Indiana law, Ms. Franke said, is not identical to the federal law or the version supported years ago by President Obama when he served in the Illinois State Senate.

She and other legal experts said the Indiana law expands the parties who could ask for relief on religious grounds to include a wider range of corporations, if individuals with “substantial control” of the business share the same religious beliefs.

The Indiana measure also grants parties the right to bring legal action to prevent a “likely” burden on religious belief, even before any burden is imposed. And it expands the situations in which the protection could be invoked to include disputes between private parties engaged in lawsuits, even if they do not involve any direct actions by a government agency.

Robert Katz, a professor at Indiana University’s Robert H. McKinney School of Law, said that Indiana already had strong constitutional protections for religious belief and that the new law seemed to result more from fear of same-sex marriage than from any demonstrated need.

Whether it will result in many legal cases is unclear, he said, but its impact has already been felt because “the law communicates values.” “It communicates to gay and lesbian people that their rights could potentially take a second seat,” he said. “It is part of the culture wars.”

Richard Fausset and Richard Pérez-Peña contributed reporting.

Many years of Warnings Ignored before German Jet Crash

Germany’s present privacy laws, written after the defeat of Hitler in World War-2 were a strict reaction to the Gestapo which demanded to know just everything about every German. This “definite,” freedom has to be modified following the killing of 149 innocent travelers on Barcelona to Dusseldorf flight number 9525 Tuesday March 24th. Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz’s psychosis explained an extreme loss of contact with reality which had been known for several years, but under present German law his psychiatrist or anyone else was unable to report the 27 year old’s illness to budget airline Germanwings. His psychiatrist wrote a note for the Lufthansa subsidiary excusing Lubitz from flying on the very day of the crash. Yet, under German privacy, only Lubitz, not the psychiatrist who could have carried that note to the airline. Full mental examinations costing close to 4-thousand dollars have been eliminated as a budget cut for the line. Seems like small change when compared to all those deaths. The young pilot was no dummy. He knew reporting the effect of taking the mind-altering drugs
would have put his aviation career in jeopardy, so he LIED on the applications, saying he had NO mental problems and was NOT seeing a psychiatrist. So many pilots throughout the world, fearing a loss of family income are aware they could be grounded if serious medical problems are spelled out on the U.S.flight renewal application.There’s a quarter-of-a-million dollar penalty for falsification but no one to date has paid that we know of. To keep the pilots’ renewal applications honest in the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration, five years ago lifted the hard and fast “never” rule allowing pilots to take certain kinds of mild antidepressants while they continue to fly. The American Airline Pilots Association says there are only a small number of pilots currently taking any drugs, which is followed by regular checks and sometimes prescribed therapy. But David Clark, Medical College of Wisconsin psychiatry professor told the New York Times, “It’s usually extremely difficult to predict suicide.” Many or most keep their suicide plans a secret. But Lubitz talked about suicide to a therapist before he had his first pilot’s license and if privacy laws could be have been lifted a bit for pilots, those 150 including Lubitz himself on board Barcelona to Dusseldorf flight 9525 would have lived. Lubitz’s prediction “Some day they will all know me,” proved true and is likely, could have been stopped before his untoward action.

Germanwings Co-Pilot Had Been Treated for “Suicidal Tendencies.”

Germanwings Co-Pilot Had Been Treated for ‘Suicidal Tendencies,’ Authorities Say.

Germanwings Crash Leaves Home City of Andreas Lubitz, Pilot, Bewildered and Bristling

Germanwings Co-Pilot Had Been Treated for ‘Suicidal Tendencies,’ Authorities Say

DÜSSELDORF, Germany — The co-pilot of the Germanwings jetliner that crashed in the French Alps on Tuesday had been treated for “suicidal tendencies” before receiving his pilot’s license, the office of the German prosecutor in Düsseldorf said Monday.

The co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, had been treated by psychotherapists “over a long period of time,” the prosecutor’s office said, without providing precise dates. In follow-up visits to doctors since that time, the prosecutor said, “no signs of suicidal tendencies or outward aggression were documented.”

Mr. Lubitz’s medical records show no physical illnesses, the prosecutor said.

Members of the news media gathered outside the house of Andreas Lubitz’s parents in Montabaur, Germany,last week. Germanwings Crash Leaves Home City of Andreas Lubitz, Pilot, Bewildered and Bristling MARCH 30, 2015.

People in the German town of Halle left flowers and candles at a shrine to commemorate a woman from the town who died in the Germanwings plane crash. Memo From Germany: Jet Crash Tests Germany’s Faith in Its Precision MARCH 29, 2015.

Mr. Lubitz, 27, was at the controls of a Germanwings Airbus A320 jetliner on Tuesday, en route from Barcelona, Spain, to Düsseldorf, Germany, when he set it on a course to crash into the mountains in southeastern France, a French prosecutor has said. Cockpit voice recordings document that Mr. Lubitz was alone in the cockpit and refused to allow the captain to re-enter as the plane crashed, killing all 150 people on board.

GNC Agrees to Stop Selling Fraudulent Herbal Supplements

GNC, the country’s largest specialty retailer of dietary supplements, has agreed to institute sweeping new testing procedures that far exceed quality controls mandated under federal law.

The action to be announced Monday comes after the New York State attorney general’s office accused GNC and three other major retailers of selling herbal supplements that were fraudulent or contaminated with unlisted ingredients that could pose health risks to consumers.

Experts said the announcement marked an initial but significant step forward for the $33 billion-a-year supplement industry, which is loosely regulated and plagued by accusations of adulteration and mislabeling.

“This should be a standard across the entire industry,” said Dr. Pieter Cohen, a professor at Harvard Medical School who studies tainted supplements. “Today we finally have one first step taken by one retailer, and only after the very aggressive intervention by the New York attorney general’s office.”

GNC, which has more than 6,500 stores nationwide and annual revenue of $2.6 billion, said that its herbal products had passed several rigorous quality-control tests and that it stood by their quality. But as part of its agreement with the attorney general, the company said it would in the next 18 months put in place additional quality-control measures to restore the trust of its customers and set new standards for the rest of the industry.

The company said it would use advanced DNA testing to authenticate all of the plants that are used in its store-brand herbal supplements, and extensively test the products for common allergens like tree nuts, soy and wheat. In addition, GNC will submit semiannual reports proving that it is complying with the attorney general’s demands.

The company said it would also display signs at all of its stores and post statements on its website explaining to customers how the ingredients in its supplements were processed and what, if any, chemical solvents were used to make them.

Eric T. Schneiderman, the attorney general of New York, would not comment on whether he was in talks to reach similar agreements with the other retailers included in his investigation — Walgreens, Walmart and Target. But, in a statement, Mr. Schneiderman said he had urged those retailers, “as well as all herbal supplements manufacturers, to join GNC in working with my office to increase transparency and safeguard the wellness of their customers.”

A shopper perusing pills at a Walgreens, one of four chains accused by New York State officials of selling fraudulent supplements.
A shopper perusing pills at a Walgreens, one of four chains accused by New York State officials of selling fraudulent supplements.Credit Yana Paskova for The New York Times
Jim Graham, a spokesman for Walgreens, said in a statement: “We continue to review this matter and also intend to continue cooperating and working with the attorney general of New York.”

The attorney general criticized as lax the federal standards on dietary supplements that he said contributed to an environment where consumers cannot be sure about the quality of the products they are buying. “When consumers take an herbal supplement,” he said, “they should be able to do so with full knowledge of what is in that product and confidence that every precaution was taken to ensure its authenticity and purity.”

Under a 1994 federal law, supplements must carry on their labels the names and amount of every ingredient they contain. But the law, which was drafted by senators with strong ties to the industry, and which consumer advocates say is badly in need of reform, allows companies to essentially operate on the honor code. The Food and Drug Administration estimates that 70 percent of supplement makers do not adhere to practices designed to prevent adulteration.

Dr. Cohen of Harvard said it was remarkable that it had taken two decades and the actions of a state prosecutor “to begin to achieve what the law requires, which is that consumers know what is in the herbal supplements they’re buying.”

“This is the absolute minimum that should be happening,” he said.

The attorney general’s investigation was prompted by a 2013 article in The New York Times that referred to research suggesting that dietary supplements labeled medicinal herbs frequently contained little more than cheap fillers like powdered rice and weeds, or evidence of soybeans, tree nuts and other unlisted ingredients that can be hazardous to people with allergies.

The attorney general’s office tested 78 bottles of popular, store-brand herbal supplements that it purchased at a dozen Walmart, Target, Walgreens and GNC locations across New York State. Using an advanced DNA testing procedure, the investigators found that four out of five bottles contained no detectable genetic material from the plants advertised on their labels.

But there was frequently evidence of unlisted plants and other ingredients. At GNC, for example, the investigators found bottles of ginseng pills, promoted for “vitality and overall well-being,” that tested negative for any DNA from the ginseng plant. But the tests did indicate the presence of powdered rice, wheat, pine and houseplants.

Last month, the attorney general ordered the four retailers to pull the products from their shelves in New York, and a flood of lawsuits from consumers across the country followed.

The industry has countered that many of the supplements examined by the attorney general were herbal extracts, and that they would not contain DNA from the plants advertised on their labels because DNA is damaged during manufacturing and extraction.
Store-brand supplements for sale at a GNC shop in Manhattan. The retailer has agreed to test the purity of its herbal products.
Store-brand supplements for sale at a GNC shop in Manhattan. The retailer has agreed to test the purity of its herbal products.Credit Yana Paskova for The New York Times
For GNC, the settlement satisfies the attorney general’s concerns about consumer safety and brings his investigation of the company to a close. The company has maintained all along that its products were not adulterated, and in the agreement with the attorney general there is no admission or mention of wrongdoing.

The company said that it had commissioned a series of tests that confirmed the quality of its products, and that it would continue to defend against the many lawsuits it is facing, which it said were without merit.

“As our testing demonstrated, and this agreement affirms beyond any doubt, our products are not only safe and pure but are in full compliance with all regulatory requirements,” Michael G. Archbold, GNC’s chief executive officer, said in a statement.

Mark Blumenthal, the executive director of the American Botanical Council, a nonprofit organization that promotes the use of herbal products, said he believed that the supplements included in the investigation most likely suffered from some level of adulteration — an established problem in the industry — but not to the extent suggested by the attorney general. He criticized the attorney general’s testing procedures and said his study data should be made public.

Mr. Blumenthal said he applauded GNC for reaching an agreement with New York and putting new procedures into effect, but he also worried that actions at the state level could create “a patchwork quilt of different quality standards and requirements” across the country.

“I’m concerned that this can potentially lead to various standards being set up in different states and that’s a legitimate issue for the industry and consumers,” he said.

David Schardt, a senior nutritionist at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocacy group, said the agreement represented “important progress.”

“But what consumers desperately need,” he added, “is congressional action that would allow the Food and Drug Administration to promptly oust from the marketplace products that are dishonestly marketed or potentially dangerous.”


Alzeheimer’s: Be Ready to Fight Causes & Consequences.

Alzheimer’s action plan — be prepared to fight the causes and consequences.
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March 29, 2015
Special Announcement Harvard Medical School
What if its Alzheimer’s?
Learn how to lower your risk right now… how to boost your memory skills…
and how to better meet the challenges of caregiving.

Whether you find yourself hunting for the car keys again or notice that an older loved one asks the same question over and over, one thought emerges: Is it Alzheimer’s disease?

Get the answers you need for the questions you have.
This Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School will expand your understanding of the causes and consequences of Alzheimer’s. You’ll learn about advances in diagnosis and ways to safeguard your brain’s health and mental agility, and gain insights and strategies for providing balanced and supportive care to a loved one.

Forgetfulness or a foreboding?
When should you worry about a loved one? Or yourself? What are the indicators of more profound memory loss, of dementia, or of Alzheimer’s? This newly revised report will brief you on the signs that distinguish one from another.

You’ll find out about advances in diagnosis, illnesses that can mimic Alzheimer’s, and common drugs that can cause memory loss.

You can lower your risk — and your family’s too!
In the report, you’ll discover eight protective factors proven to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. You’ll learn why red wine may offer an ounce of prevention. You’ll be introduced to six mentally stimulating activities that help maintain a healthy brain. Plus you’ll read about the one thing you may want your child (or grandchild) to stop doing now.

You can be the caregiver you want to be and the one your loved one needs.
Caregiving for someone with Alzheimer’s continues to be one of the toughest jobs in the world. You are called upon to provide a safe and supportive environment, but also to handle legal and monetary matters, anticipate future needs, and be a comforting presence.

A Guide to Coping with Alzheimer’s Disease will show you how to offer fulfilling care and avoid burnout or regret. You’ll find out how to avoid financial pitfalls. You’ll get timely and essential guidance for enlisting friends and family, for easing daily routines, and for selecting long-term care. Plus, you’ll get valuable tips for maintaining your own health, spirit, and happiness.

Gregory D. Curfman, M.D.
Editor in Chief, Harvard Health Publications
Harvard Medical School offers special reports on over 50 health topics.
Visit our website at to find reports of interest to you and your family.

PHONE ORDERS – please call our toll-free number: 1-877-649-9457.

Copyright © 2015 by Harvard University.
Harvard Health Publications, 10 Shattuck Street, 2nd Floor, Boston, MA 02115, USA

* Please note, we do not provide responses to personal medical concerns, nor can we supply related medical information other than what is available in our print products or website. For specific, personalized medical advice we encourage you to contact your physician.

7 Shot in Florida: No Way for “Spring Break.”

Raucous parties in Florida’s Panama City Beach have politicians, police, and businesses debating how much to crack down on a key economic force. A shooting that left seven injured Saturday reignited the debate.
By Melissa Nelson-Gabriel and Matt Sedensky, Associated Press MARCH 29, 2015

Seven shot at spring break party in Florida

PANAMA CITY BEACH, FLA. — A house party that dissolved into a hail of gunfire and left seven young people hurt has officials on the Florida Panhandle pondering what to do with a spring break season they say has gotten out of control. The capital of Spring Break was Ft.Lauderdale in the 1960s. Residents and commercial establishments there ended it when they found the expense of damages and extra police didn’t match the loss of family guests who found other locales during Spring Break.

Now the raucous parties in the spring break capital of Panama City Beach have, for years, had politicians, police and businesses tussling over how much to crack down on a key economic force.

That debate was revived again when a packed gathering of dancing 20-somethings turned into a sprawling crime scene early Saturday.

“This is what we’ve been trying to warn people about,” said Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen. “It was only a matter of time and it’s only a matter of time until it happens again if we don’t address it.”

The city council held an emergency meeting Saturday to address spring break, allocating up to $200,000 in additional spending for increased police patrols. But motions introduced by Councilman Keith Curry to ban alcohol on the beach and to roll back the last-call on alcohol sales two hours earlier to midnight were unsuccessful.

“We have blood on our hands,” Curry told his fellow council members.

McKeithen had urged the beach alcohol ban and midnight last-call last year, but council members decided against them, instead rolling back last-call from 4 a.m. to 2 a.m. Curry said Sunday he realized they made a mistake as he went on patrols with police in recent weeks, saw the drug arrests for heroin and an increasingly popular club drug called Molly, as well as the number of guns that have been confiscated.

“It was woefully inadequate,” he said.

Many of the “hangers-on” have no university connections.

David Jamichael Daniels, 22, of Mobile, Alabama, has been charged with seven counts of attempted murder in the shooting and remained at the Bay County Jail awaiting a first court appearance, which has not yet been scheduled. A .40-caliber handgun believed to have been used by Daniels was found in the yard of a nearby home. He does not yet have an attorney.

Officials gave no update Sunday on the condition of the victims, three of whom were listed as critical a day earlier, and three who were stable. The condition of a seventh victim was not released. Three of the victims were students at Alabama A&M University, where a candlelight vigil was planned for the campus quad in Normal, Alabama, on Monday evening.

Even as talk of change sounded, typical signs of the season resumed in Panama City Beach. By sunset on Saturday, new tenants had moved into the three-story vacation rental where the shooting took place. Dozens of cases of beer filled the front porch of a neighboring house where loud music thumped inside. And hundreds strolled the main road and gathered at hotel swimming pools.

Desiree Richardson, 18, and five of her girlfriends loaded up their belongings Sunday as they prepared to drive back to Alabama State University, saddened by the news of the shooting.

“I don’t know if my parents will let me come back,” Richardson said.

Sedensky reported from West Palm Beach, Fla. Jeff Martin in Atlanta contributed to this report.

Indiana Governor Tries to Clarify “Religious Freedom” Law

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has been under fire for the ‘religious freedom’ law he signed, which critics say is discriminatory – especially against gay people. Now, Gov. Pence says he wants to legislatively ‘clarify the intent’ of the law.
By Brad Knickerbocker, Staff writer MARCH 29, 2015

Faced with a wave of critical comment and mounting economic threats from around the country, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) says he wants to legislatively “clarify the intent” of his state’s new “Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”

The law allows businesses to refuse service to potential customers and clients on religious grounds, which critics say is a clear shot at the LGBT community – in particular those advocating or wanting to participate in same-sex marriage.

In an interview with the Indianapolis Star, Gov. Pence did not detail his legislative plans for the new law, other than to indicate that any changes wouldn’t be sweeping. Making gay and lesbian Hoosiers a protected legal class, Pence said, is “not on my agenda.”

Recommended: How much do you know about gay rights in America? Take the quiz!
Since he signed the law last week, the Republican governor has faced a rolling wave of opposition, not only from civil rights groups but – potentially more damaging – from major corporations doing business in the state.

The business-rating website Angie’s List (which is headquartered in Indianapolis) joined that growing crowd Saturday. CEO Bill Oesterle said he’s “putting on hold” the planned expansion of company facilities in Indiana “until we fully understand the implications of the freedom restoration act on our employees, both current and future.”

“Angie’s List is open to all and discriminates against none and we are hugely disappointed in what this bill represents,” Mr. Oesterle said in a statement. The company’s $40 million campus expansion reportedly would add 1,000 jobs over five years.

Sports figures and enterprises have been weighing in as well.

Herb Simon, owner of the NBA Indiana Pacers and the WNBA Indiana Fever, says his teams “have the strongest possible commitment to inclusion and non-discrimination on any basis.”

“Everyone is always welcome at Bankers Life Field house,” Mr. Simon said in a statement. “That has always been the policy from the very beginning of the Simon family’s involvement and it always will be.”

“Discrimination in any form is unacceptable to me,” former NBA star and now TV commentator Charles Barkley said through his agent. “As long as anti-gay legislation exists in any state, I strongly believe big events such as the Final Four and Super Bowl should not be held in those states’ cities.”

Indiana’s new law comes just as the Indianapolis-based NCAA holds its final four men’s basketball tournament in that city. NCAA officials are clear in their opposition to the law, hinting that it might mean serious consequences for the organization’s relationship with Indiana.

“We intend to closely examine the implications of this bill and how it might affect future events as well as our workforce,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement.

Gov. Pence and other supporters of Indiana’s new religious freedom law point out that it is similar to laws in 19 other states as well as a federal law signed by former President Clinton 22 years ago.

Such laws – other states are considering them as well – typically require state government to have a “compelling interest” before it can “substantially burden” personal religious practice.

The gay rights group Human Rights Campaign (HRC) warns that such laws “are often incredibly vague and light on details – usually intentionally.”

“The evangelical owner of a business providing a secular service can sue claiming that their personal faith empowers them to refuse to hire Jews, divorcees, or LGBT people,” HRC says in a report. “A landlord could claim the right to refuse to rent an apartment to a Muslim or a transgender person.”

Appearing on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday, Pence would not directly address such hypothetical questions, instead emphasizing that “tolerance is a two-way street” – including tolerance for religious beliefs. And he stood up for his fellow Hoosiers.

“There are no kinder, more generous, more welcoming, more hospitable people in America than in the 92 counties of Indiana,” he said. “And yet we simply stepped forward for the purpose of recognizing the religious liberty rights of all the people of Indiana of every faith. We’ve suffered under this avalanche for the last several days, and it’s completely not based on any fact whatsoever.”

This blog is dedicated to bringing back the commitment of professional journalism. As a former network news editor, major market news director and anchor, BILL DEANE gives you the inside story often missed by media more interested in Hollywood gossip. OUR MISSING NEWS gets into the WHY of the day's significant events.