Dispatches > News
MAY 10: Rescuers in Bangladesh retrieve garment worker Reshma from the rubble of an eight-story building 17 days after it collapsed.
STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images
MAY 10: Rescuers in Bangladesh retrieve garment worker Reshma from the rubble of an eight-story building 17 days after it collapsed.



Issue: "Surviving Syria," June 1, 2013

Editor’s note: We’ve changed our Dispatches news section. Here's a quick look at Bangladesh and other events throughout the first two weeks of May. For details, and to stay abreast of stories now and throughout the next two weeks, visit worldmag.com.

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Wednesday, May 1

George Henton//Barcroft Media/Landov

May Day

Thousands of European workers turned out for traditional May Day protests, this year demanding more government bailouts to fight record-high unemployment. In California, Yahoo announced that working moms will receive up to 16 weeks of paid maternity leave and working dads up to eight weeks.

Sexual sin 

Online lynch mobs demanded that ESPN suspend Chris Broussard. The sportswriter, asked about NBA player Jason Collins’ announcement that he’s both a practicing homosexual and a Christian, said, “If you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality, adultery, fornication, premarital sex between heterosexuals, whatever it may be, I believe that’s walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ.”


The independent U.S. Commission on International Freedom released its annual report and said the U.S. government should make religious liberty a higher priority. North Korea sentenced Christian missionary Kenneth Bae to 15 years of hard labor, with the apparent goal of using him as bait to elicit a visit from a high-profile American.

Thursday, May 2

Rear Adm. William Lee
Handout photo
Rear Adm. William Lee

Don’t offer hope?

At National Day of Prayer ceremonies in Washington, D.C., Rear Admiral William Lee told of meeting with a 24-year-old soldier who had shot himself in a suicide attempt. Lee referred to pressure not to talk about God or offer a Bible, but said he would not back down from “my right under the Constitution to tell a young man that there is hope.”

Wrongs and rites 

The U.S. Department of Justice appealed a judge’s decision that young teens have the right to buy “morning-after” pills over the counter without input from any adult. President Obama said “solid scientific evidence” indicates the minimum age should be 15. Rhode Island became the 10th state to legalize same-sex marriage.


In Massachusetts, police arrested three young friends of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev for allegedly lying to investigators and trying to destroy evidence. In Washington, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel did not rule out arming Syria’s radical Islamist rebels, and the Obama administration invited for friendly talks a top official of Sudan’s genocidal regime.

Friday, May 3

Mark Wragg/iStock


The Centers for Disease Control announced that suicides among Americans 35 to 64 have jumped 30 percent since 1999, with the biggest jump (49 percent) among men ages 50 to 54: Analysts say the prolonged economic downturn has depressed many. More Americans now die by suicide than in vehicular accidents.


The Obama administration won’t force Tyndale House Publishers to provide contraceptive and abortifacient drugs to its employees after a federal court dismissed the government’s appeal of a November ruling. That ruling had blocked enforcement of the contraceptive mandate for companies with over 50 employees to provide coverage for medication that can cause abortions. 

Saturday and Sunday, May 4-5

A memorial to Ricardo Portillo
George Frey/EFE/Newscom
A memorial to Ricardo Portillo


In Utah on Saturday, soccer referee Ricardo Portillo, 46, died from internal head injuries after a 17-year-old—mad about a penalty during a recreational league game—punched him in the face. On Sunday, terrorists in Tanzania set off an explosion in a church, killing two people and injuring 60. Four Saudis and four Tanzanians were arrested for the bombing.


On Sunday, Chinese tightrope walker Adili Wuxor, his eyes blindfolded, walked across a steel wire 350 feet above the ground and even balanced on it upside down. Israeli aircraft destroyed advanced Iranian weapons in the area of Damascus, vowing to prevent the weapons from falling into the hands of Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which announced its intent to defend Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Monday, May 6

Associated Press/Photo by Tony Dejak

Sweet land of liberty

Three Cleveland women escaped from decade-long slavery. Amanda Berry and two others were imprisoned in a house not far from where they disappeared. Berry managed to get to a neighbor’s house and call 911: “Help me, I’m Amanda Berry. I’ve been kidnapped and I’ve been missing for ten years and I’m here—I’m free now.”


In Long Beach, Calif., city officials said they will make sure part-time employees work fewer than 30 hours per week so they do not have to provide their health insurance: Under the “Affordable Care Act,” those working 30 hours or more must be covered, so millions across the country will lose hours and money. The California Supreme Court ruled that cities and counties can ban medical marijuana dispensaries, which sell pot to sick or bored people who obtain a recommendation from a sympathetic physician.

Tuesday, May 7

Mark Sanford
Associated Press/Photo by Rainier Ehrhardt
Mark Sanford


South Carolina voters sent former governor Mark Sanford to Congress, despite his 2009  disappearance while governor to be with his Argentinian mistress. Democratic candidate Elizabeth Colbert Busch, sister of comedian Stephen Colbert, outspent Sanford 5-1 as national Republicans abandoned Sanford, but at a victory rally Sanford called himself an “imperfect man … saved by God’s grace.” 


One day after posting a video of himself squashing a spider, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced he had gastric band surgery: Doctors inserted a silicone device around his stomach so he can feel full despite eating less.

Wednesday, May 8

Eric Nordstrom (right), the State Department’s former regional security officer in Libya; Gregory Hicks (center), former deputy chief of mission in Libya; and Mark Thompson, the State Department’s acting deputy assistant secretary for counterterrorism
Associated Press/Photo by J. Scott Applewhite
Eric Nordstrom (right), the State Department’s former regional security officer in Libya; Gregory Hicks (center), former deputy chief of mission in Libya; and Mark Thompson, the State Department’s acting deputy assistant secretary for counterterrorism


Three U.S. State Department whistleblowers offered dramatic revelations during a hearing about the Libyan attacks last Sept. 11 that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others. They showed that senior State Department officials knew the Benghazi attacks were a terrorist assault, yet the Obama administration developed a “monstrously false” blame-the-YouTube-video cover-up. Counter-terrorist experts remain angry about orders they received not to go to the defense of the Americans under attack: “We live by a code, and that … says you go after people who are in peril.” 

After 19 days

Muslims buried the body of apparent Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev in a Virginia Muslim cemetery. Many Massachusetts cemeteries and funeral homes had turned away the corpse, with Rep. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., claiming “the people of Massachusetts do not want that terrorist to be buried on our soil,” but retired Vermont teacher Paul Keane offered a spot at his family plot in Connecticut, on condition that it be dedicated to the memory of his mother, a Christian who taught him to “love thine enemy.”

Thursday, May 9

Associated Press/Photo by Schalk van Zuydam

Somali deaths

A new report on Somalia’s recent famine revealed that it killed about 260,000 people in two years, with half of the victims under the age of 5. Islamic extremists refused to allow aid groups to deliver food, and Islamists now seem unwilling to give up without another deadly fight.

Friday, May 10

Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

Pushed to the Wall

Liberal Jewish women tried to wear prayer shawls (traditionally restricted to men) next to the Western Wall in Jerusalem, but thousands of girls from Orthodox schools got there first and crowded them out. Hundreds of police officers held back throngs of black-hatted Orthodox men who demonstrated against the liberal women, sometimes throwing at them water, candy, and a few of the white plastic chairs that cluster near the Wall.

After 17 days

Two and a half weeks after a building collapse in Bangladesh, the death toll pushed past 1,000, but rescuers brought out from the rubble one woman. Elsewhere in Bangladesh, Islamist groups attacked Christian homes and churches, with a death count of at least 37. 

Saturday and Sunday, May 11-12

Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images

Pakistan election

National elections left former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, head of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, in position to become prime minister once again. Pakistan’s democracy seemed unlikely to lead to any increase in liberty: Many winning candidates criticized Christians and other religious minorities and seemed unwilling to protect them from Islamist attacks.

Praying and debating

Syrians gathered in 11 cities and prayed for an end to the crippling violence in their land. Dozens of rockets, shells, and mortars exploded near places set aside for prayer. In the United States, Sunday talk shows included arguments about what State Department and White House officials knew of the attacks last September that killed four Americans in Libya, and when did they know it.

Monday, May 13

Kermit Gosnell
Yong Kim/MCT/Landov
Kermit Gosnell

Gosnell guilty of murder 

After 10 days of deliberation, a jury found Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell, 72, guilty of three of the four first-degree murder charges prosecutors filed against him. The jury also found him guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the case of patient Karnamaya Mongar, who died after overdosing on anesthesia;  guilty of aborting 21 babies older than 24 weeks (Pennsylvania’s limit); and guilty of corruption and conspiracy. Several others involved in the case also await sentencing. Four of Gosnell’s former employees pleaded guilty to murder and testified against him during the trial. Four more, including his wife, Pearl, pleaded guilty to lesser charges.

Outrage and intrusion

Democrats joined Republicans in decrying an IRS targeting of conservative groups. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said, “Government agencies using their bureaucratic muscle to target Americans for their political beliefs cannot be tolerated.” President Barack Obama at a midday press conference called the IRS action “outrageous.” Later in the day, the Associated Press issued a fierce story attacking the Department of Justice, which “secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press in what the news cooperative’s top executive called a ‘massive and unprecedented intrusion’ into how news organizations gather the news.”

Tuesday, May 14

The Romeike family
Matt Rose
The Romeike family

Homeschoolers lose

An appeals court panel ruled that the Romeike family should not be granted asylum in the United States (see  “Schools of Thought,” May 4). The homeschooling Romeikes fled Germany in 2008 after officials insisted that their children attend only government-approved schools, and an immigration judge granted the family asylum in 2010. The Obama administration (which has ordered that homosexuals be given asylum) appealed, and the appeals court agreed that harsh treatment of religiously motivated homeschoolers was not persecution.  

No. 12 

Minnesota became the 12th state to legalize same-sex marriage, and the second (along with Iowa) in the Midwest. The law will take effect August 1.


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