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Camp crisis

"Camp crisis" Continued...

Issue: "Syria's pain," Sept. 8, 2012

Akin and abortion

If both presidential campaigns had hoped to avoid a pointed discussion of abortion, Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., changed their plans a week before the Republican National Convention was set to begin in Tampa.

The six-term congressman apologized for comments he made during a television interview on Aug. 19 when responding to a question about whether abortion should be legal in cases of rape. Akin said that scenario is rare, and that if it's "a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

A firestorm erupted, and top GOP leaders called for Akin to drop out of his Senate race against incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill. They worried that if Akin lost in November, the Republican Party could lose a chance to regain the Senate. Akin apologized for his comments: "I used the wrong words in the wrong way and for that I apologize."

A handful of pro-life advocates supported Akin, and noted his impeccable pro-life voting record. Still, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney called Akin's original comments "insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong." A campaign statement added that "a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape."

Many pro-lifers have opposed Romney's support for abortion in the case of rape, and say what Akin could have stated succinctly in his interview: The violent tragedy of rape doesn't justify the violent tragedy of abortion.

Pro-lifers hope Republicans will continue to support compassionate care for victims of sexual violence, but also draw attention to the 1.2 million unborn children aborted in America every year-the vast majority outside of the context of rape.

Co-op politics

Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI), a large consumer cooperative and national outdoor recreation chain, has thrown its weight behind efforts to redefine marriage in a move that may prove divisive among its 4 million members.

REI posted its new policy in an obscure corner of its website (rei.com/content/dam/documents/pdf/Marriage_Equality_Policy.pdf), and CEO Sally Jewell announced the news to staff through a post on an employee-only blog on Aug. 13. The cooperative has in the past limited its public policy statements to those that deal with issues of interest to members, but Jewell said "it became clear to me that not taking any position would likely be construed as sending a signal that was inconsistent with our commitments to creating an inclusive environment at the co-op."

The new policy, however, has had the opposite effect for some Christian employees who feel their previously good working environment has turned hostile. "It's created a very uncomfortable situation," one REI store manager told WORLD on the condition of anonymity. (At least some employees received an email warning them not to speak with the press about the new policy.) Jewell said in her blog post that employees should feel the freedom to disagree, but the manager who spoke with WORLD said, "I don't feel like I can comment on this or respectfully disagree because my future is at stake."

Although other large companies have endorsed same-sex "marriage," REI's status as a cooperative renders it different, since its members have a stake in the company. Member Lance McCaskill, who lives outside Washington, D.C., said he's uncomfortable with the position because it is irrelevant to the company's mission and members had no say: "A position on either side is divisive."

Going viral

West Nile virus is on track to have a record year in the United States, with about 700 cases reported by mid-August, and around 30 deaths. Nearly half the cases were in Texas: In Dallas, Mayor Mike Rawlings declared a state of emergency and twin-engine planes flew 300 feet above city neighborhoods to spray aerial pesticide for the first time since 1966.

Some residents worried about breathing the pesticide, called Duet, although the EPA has declared it safe for use in residential areas. Dallas resident Vanessa Van Gilder, who started a petition at Change.org to stop ground and air spraying (it had about 2,000 signatures by Aug. 20), told the Los Angeles Times she found some of her honeybees dead the morning after the first flights.

The virus spread in other states as well, including Pennsylvania, California, and Illinois. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, four out of five people infected with West Nile virus never develop symptoms. The rest usually experience mild symptoms such as headache, fever, or rash. In less than 1 percent of cases, the virus can cause tremors, coma, or death.

West Nile virus first appeared in the United States in 1999. This year, an early spring and hot summer made favorable breeding conditions for mosquitoes, which pass the virus to humans with their bites.

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