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Israeli Government Press Office/AP

Freed Shalit

and more news briefs

Issue: "Beyond the body count," Nov. 5, 2011

Hamas militants released Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit Oct. 18 after more than five years in captivity in exchange for 1,000 Palestinian prisoners. Israeli officials said Shalit showed signs of malnutrition and his father said he needed time to recover from psychological and physical wounds. Israel transferred more than 450 Palestinians from Israeli prisons to the West Bank and Gaza, where tens of thousands gathered to celebrate, calling for militants to seize more Israeli soldiers for future swaps. The rest of the Palestinian prisoners will be released in a second phase in two months.

Shalit was abducted in June 2006 when Palestinian militants ambushed an Israeli army post. He reportedly suffered shrapnel wounds and-before his release-had not been seen publicly since the attack. He is the first Israeli soldier to return home alive in 26 years. Israeli and Hamas officials said the recent Egyptian revolution helped drive them to an agreement in an effort by both sides to forge good relations with the new Egyptian leadership.

Quiet assault

Congress blocked President Obama's jobs bill, but he sent it to the Hill again in mid-October in what he called "bite-size" pieces, saying: "Maybe they just didn't understand the whole thing." Obama's bus tour promoting the job initiatives stopped in critical reelection states North Carolina and Virginia-where he has lost support since the states went for him in 2008-before moving to California, Nevada, and Colorado.

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One piece of the president's jobs bill drew heat, a cap on charitable tax deductions, so that individuals making more than $200,000 a year must cap itemized deductions at 28 percent rather than the current 35 percent. After an outcry from the nonprofit community, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid stripped that provision from the jobs bill, but the cap remains a revenue-generating proposal Obama submitted to the congressional "supercommittee" on the national debt. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, at an Oct. 18 hearing, said the current charitable deduction is under "quiet assault."

Destined for failure

Republicans have pushed for the repeal of Obamacare, but the first real cut in the healthcare law came from a Democrat. The Department of Health and Human Services announced Oct. 14 that it would not implement a long-term care insurance plan created under the 2010 law, and the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) office will close. "Despite our best analytical efforts, I do not see a viable path forward for CLASS implementation," HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a letter to congressional leaders. Lawmakers and a top Medicare official had warned that the program, to begin in 2012, would not remain financially solvent, but Obama administration officials included it in the final bill, claiming it would reduce the federal deficit by $80 billion over the next decade. "The CLASS Act was a budget gimmick that might enhance the numbers on a Washington bureaucrat's spreadsheet but was destined to fail in the real world," said Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.

Suspense

A three-member state ethics panel recommended that former Kansas attorney general Phill Kline's law license be suspended indefinitely. Kline spent six years investigating Planned Parenthood and late-term abortionist George Tiller, and has been cleared in previous ethics investigations. The decision of the Board of Discipline of Attorneys came as a Johnson County trial involving Planned Parenthood-and charges that it manufactured client records and broke other abortion laws-was set to begin Oct. 24. "It's all a diversion," Kline told WORLD. "It's to promote the story line in Kansas that the clinics did nothing illegal." The Kansas Supreme Court must now decide whether to suspend the law license of Kline, currently a visiting professor at Liberty University.

Bishop charged

For the first time since the Roman Catholic sex abuse scandal gained headlines nearly a decade ago, a Catholic bishop in the United States is facing prosecution for allegedly covering up criminal activity.

Jackson County (Mo.) prosecutors say Bishop Robert Finn of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph broke Missouri law when for five months he failed to report to authorities that a technician had found hundreds of images of child pornography on the computer of a priest in the diocese.

The case involves priest Shawn Ratigan. In May 2010, a principal of a Catholic school had alerted the diocese that she was uncomfortable with Ratigan's behavior around children, prompting a meeting between a diocese official and Ratigan. When the technician found the pornographic images on Dec. 16, 2010, Finn responded by assigning Ratigan to a mission house in Independence, Mo., with instructions to avoid contact with children. Ratigan disobeyed those instructions and, at an April 24 Easter party that he hosted, he allegedly attempted to take lewd pictures of a young girl.

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