"Evil does exist in the world. War is sometimes necessary."
-President Barack Obama upon accepting the Nobel Peace Prize Dec. 10.
"This is the harshest sentence against house-church believers in nearly a decade."
-China Aid president Bob Fu, after 36-year-old Uyghur house-church leader Alimujiang Yimiti was sentenced to 15 years in prison by Chinese officials for "suspicion of instigating separatism and providing national secrets or intelligence to overseas organizations or individuals."
"Funny, he wants to put the burden on me to stand up and be a man, but what kind of man attacks a man in a neck brace?"
-Youth league soccer coach Chris Hester, who got into a fight with former Rep. Chip Pickering, R-Miss. Hester, who had neck surgery two weeks prior to the incident, coached a team of 10- to 11-year-olds that lost to the team of Pickering's son. Accounts of what happened differ, but both men face misdemeanor assault charges.
"'Dawood?' one guard shouted, saying my name in Arabic. 'Dawood?' 'I'm O.K.,' I replied in Pashto. 'I'm O.K.'"
-New York Times reporter David Rohde, recalling an exchange with his Taliban guards when two deafening explosions, which turned out to be missiles fired by a U.S. drone, struck the village where he was held captive. Rohde escaped in June seven months after his kidnapping, and the information he has provided about Taliban and al-Qaeda fear of drone attack in part spurred the Obama administration to step up the program.
"First and foremost I'd like to thank God. I am so blessed and without Him I wouldn't have been able to accomplish this."
-Alabama running back Mark Ingram in an emotional acceptance speech after winning the Heisman Trophy, the first ever for Alabama.
"The most important and spectacular of its kind in this century."
-Li Ding, director of the Bureau of Basic Sciences of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, on the solar eclipse that began in China July 22 and lasted more than two hours-what scientists estimate was the longest total solar eclipse in 2,000 years.
-Director of Bryan (Texas) Planned Parenthood clinic Abby Johnson, describing what she saw during the dilation and evacuation abortion of a 13-week-old unborn baby. "I saw a full profile of the baby from head to foot," she told WORLD, and in an instant it was gone. Johnson had worked eight years for Planned Parenthood but had never seen an abortion via ultrasound. She resigned Oct. 6: "I just thought, 'I can't do this anymore.'"
"A crime is a crime."
-Actress Emma Thompson, who removed her name from a petition signed by Hollywood stars calling for the release of director Roman Polanski. Outspoken against sex trafficking, Thompson agreed to end her public support of Polanski after she was confronted by Exeter University student Caitlin Hayward-Tapp, 19. Polanski, 76, was arrested in September in Switzerland for the 1977 rape of a 13-year-old in Los Angeles and in December was consigned to house arrest at his home in Zurich.
"It's unclear to me how this figure was arrived at . . . I would never try to estimate likelihood at anything as exact as this."
-Wieslaw Maslowski, research associate professor in the Department of Oceanography at the Naval Postgraduate School, responding to a statement by former Vice President Al Gore at the UN summit on climate change. Gore said that "fresh" estimates by Maslowski indicated "that there is a 75 percent chance that the entire north polar ice cap, during the summer months, could be completely ice-free within five to seven years."
"Significant icing on the windshield"
-Voice recording from the cockpit of Continental Connection Flight 3407, which crashed Feb. 12 en route from Newark to Buffalo, killing all 50 people on board. It was the first fatal crash of a commercial airliner in the United States since 2006.
Your tax $$$
An analysis on Dec. 11 by USA Today shows that at least one sector of the job market has been thriving during the past 18 months-the one your tax dollars pay for.
The paper analyzed the 2 million federal workers tracked by the database of the Office of Personnel Management, which excludes the White House, Congress, the postal service, intelligence agencies, and uniformed military personnel. Its findings: 19 percent of federal workers make more than $100,000 per year (before overtime and bonuses), compared to 14 percent when the recession began. The average federal worker's pay is now $71,206, much higher than the average private sector worker's pay of $40,331. "There's no way to justify this to the American people," Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, told the paper. "It's ridiculous."
The New Jersey state Senate indefinitely postponed a vote to allow same-sex marriage, originally slated for Dec. 10, when a preliminary count revealed there were not enough votes for it to pass. Supporters will push the bill in the General Assembly where it is supposed to have more support, although traditional marriage advocates say the vote will be tight there, too. Len Deo, president of the New Jersey Family Policy Council (NJFPC), said he believes that constituents' calls helped strike the "tremendous blow" to the hopes of gay marriage advocates. State lawmakers reported that the ratio of calls received was 4-to-1 against the bill. Gay marriage proponents are trying to push the legislation through before Jan. 19, when Republican Chris Christie (who has promised to veto the bill) becomes governor.
The church that 2009 American Idol winner Kris Allen attends has been named the fastest-growing church in America, based on an annual report by Outreach magazine and LifeWay Research on the 100 fastest-growing U.S. churches.
Top 5 Fastest-Growing U.S. Churches
(attendance growth by number and percentage)
1. New Life Church, Conway, Ark.; pastor Rick Bezet
2. Calvary Temple Worship Center, Modesto, Calif.; pastor Glen Berteau
3. Cornerstone Church of San Diego, National City, Calif.; pastor Sergio De La Mora
4. Elevation Church, Charlotte, N.C.; pastor Steven Furtick
5. Faith Church of St. Louis, Fenton, Mo.; pastor David Crank
Top 5 Largest U.S. Churches
1. Lakewood Church, Houston, Texas; pastor Joel Osteen, 43,500 attendees
2. LifeChurch.tv, Edmond, Okla.; pastor Craig Groeschel 26,776 attendees
3. Willow Creek Community Church, South Barrington, Ill.; pastor Bill Hybels, 23,400 attendees
4. North Point Community Church, Alpharetta, Ga.; pastor Andy Stanley, 23,377 attendees
5. Second Baptist Church, Houston, Texas; pastor Ed Young Sr., 22,723 attendees
Those who most know what most Americans were thinking about in 2009 are the data miners at Google.
Top 10 Headline News searches:
1. swine flu
3. rush limbaugh
4. rod blagojevich
5. henry louis gates
7. california budget
8. al franken
9. sonia sotomayor
10. mark sanford
Fastest rising Google searches:
2. michael jackson
7. paranormal activity
8. natasha richardson
9. farrah fawcett
10. lady gaga
Fastest falling Google searches:
1. john mccain
3. heath ledger
4. barack obama
5. sarah palin
6. circuit city
7. ron paul
8. iron man
10. wii fit
Man knows not his time
He died Dec. 15 in quiet decline surrounded by family in wealthy Newport Beach, Calif., but at the height of his career evangelist Oral Roberts, 91, mounted global healing crusades and was the most well-known of prime-time television evangelists. "I was trying to play golf with Oral Roberts the other day," comedian Bob Hope used to joke, "but the holes kept healing up."
If it had not been for Roberts, "the entire charismatic movement might not have occurred," said pastor Jack Hayford, president of the International Foursquare Gospel, in a statement. But the soaring highs of an often controversial ministry based on faith healing and prosperity gospel teaching-which got its start when Roberts himself was miraculously healed of tuberculosis at age 17-were accompanied by dramatic and at times scandalous lows. In 1987 Roberts warned supporters that God would "call Oral Roberts home" unless they sent $8 million to his strapped ministry. He later claimed he raised over $9 million, but two years later closed his expansive City of Faith Medical Center anyway. In 2007 his son Richard, who had taken over Oral Roberts University (ORU) and its extended ministries from the elder Roberts, stepped down from ORU over allegations that he and his family had misused millions in ministry funds. That led to formal separation of Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association from ORU and an overhaul of school management at the behest of Hobby Lobby founder and ORU supporter Mart Green.
Army officials have not said whether they will seek the death penalty in the court martial of Maj. Nidal Hasan, the gunman behind the Fort Hood killings. They have said that doctors will evaluate Hasan by mid-January to determine his competency to stand trial as well as his mental state at the time of the shooting. Hasan is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in the Nov. 5 shooting on the Texas Army post. He remains hospitalized in San Antonio, recovering from gunshot wounds that left him paralyzed from the chest down.
American individuals gave more than corporations or foundations to charity this year-$226 billion out of a total $300 billion in U.S. charitable contributions. And when calculated as a percentage of income, the neediest appear to be the most charitable, according to a survey by Mint.com.
Thirty-five percent of giving is to religious institutions. The largest by revenue: Lutheran Services in America.