North Korea photographer speaks in T.O.

National Geographic photographer and photojournalist David Guttenfelder, who focuses on global geopolitics and conservation, will bring his photos and stories to Thousand Oaks in “A Rare Look: North Korea to Cuba” on Saturday, Oct. 27, at 8 p.m.

With more than 40 trips to North Korea under his belt, he was the last American photographer to work in the isolationist country before President Donald J. Trump’s travel ban was enacted in September.

Guttenfelder will speak as part of the National Geographic Live series at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, 2100 Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks. $36-46. For more information, visit www.civicartsplaza.com.

Veterans Promise Program launches at Ventura College

The Ventura College Foundation is helping Ventura College students who are U.S. veterans and U.S. active-duty military by offsetting the cost of tuition through the William and Helen Scarpino Veterans Promise Program.

The four-year pilot program will cover the first-year cost of enrollment fees for qualifying students and is funded through private donations.

Approximately $1,200 will be awarded to 16 veterans. Applications will be accepted until Tuesday, Oct. 31, with awards distributed in January 2018. For more information, visit www.venturacollege.edu/foundation.

Student contests seek judges in Ventura

Do you have what it takes to be a volunteer judge for a slew of Ventura County award-winning students in academic competitions? If so, the Ventura County Office of Education is looking for you.

The office says that more than 400 volunteer judges are needed on a yearly basis to support the approximately 2,500 students who take part in Ventura County Academic Decathlon, Mock Trial, Science Fair and VEX Robotics competitions.

Volunteers are needed at the Academic Decathlon in January and February 2018, a Mock Trail beginning in February 2018 and a Science Fair. For more information and to see if you qualify, visit www.vcoe.org/competitions.

Religious college exempt from birth control mandate

Employees of Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula thinking of receiving birth control through their employer-provided health insurance, think again: The Catholic college has won an exemption from the Health and Human Services Contraceptive Mandate of the Affordable Care Act.

In 2013, the college and 73 other plaintiffs in 13 federal cases around the country sued for religious exemption from the mandate, and on Friday, Oct. 13, the parties reached a settlement with the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and Treasury, giving them permanent exemption, citing that the mandate imposed “a substantial burden” on the college’s exercise of religion, violating the Religious Freedom Restoration Act passed by Congress during the Clinton Administration.

“While we welcomed the broadening of the exemption from the HHS mandate last week by the Trump administration, we have under our agreement today something even better: a permanent exemption from an onerous federal directive — and any similar future directive — that would require us to compromise our fundamental beliefs,” said Dr. Michael F. McLean, president of the college. “This is an extraordinary outcome for Thomas Aquinas College and for the cause of religious freedom.”