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Paul Hellstern/The Oklahoman/AP

Dispatches

News

Issue: "Rejecting religious liberty," June 15, 2013

MAY 20: Teachers carry children away from Briarwood Elementary School after a tornado destroyed the school in south Oklahoma City. 

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Wednesday, May 15

Kermit Gosnell
Yong Kim/MCT/Landov
Kermit Gosnell

Killing babies

Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell, sentenced to two consecutive life terms on Tuesday for killing babies born alive, received a third life sentence. Three jurors who spoke with the media after the sentencing hearing said Gosnell’s practice of slicing through babies’ spinal cords “to ensure fetal demise” convinced them of his guilt.

Killing non-Muslims 

With Islamic extremists controlling some northern Nigerian towns and villages, president Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency. Since 2010 Islamic fighters have killed more than 1,600 Nigerians, and the country’s military said Islamists now use anti-aircraft guns mounted on trucks—in some areas outgunning the country’s thin security forces.

Targeting ministries 

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse announced that the IRS targeted both ministries last year after BGEA ran newspaper ads opposing same-sex marriage. Georgia officials decided the First Amendment did not require them to remove privately paid-for Bibles from privately owned cabins in Georgia state parks.

Thursday, May 16

A Texas Gosnell?

Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst called for a “full-scale” investigation of Houston-based abortionist Douglas Karpen, who allegedly performed illegal late-term abortions amid “appalling sanitary conditions in his clinic.” Photos of well-developed babies with gashes in their necks suggested that the babies may have been born alive.

Friday, May 17

Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images

Syria

Jihadist groups in Syria reportedly suffered setbacks, as Arab states cut arms support in response to U.S. reservations about enabling a victory by a rebel movement linked to al-Qaeda. Some rebel groups are targeting Syrian Christians, forcing them to flee their villages or face penalties under Islamic law.

Saturday and Sunday, May 18-19

Fredrik Sandberg/Scanipx Sweden/AP

Stockholm syndrome

Hundreds of young people, largely immigrants from the Middle East and Somalia, rioted in Sweden, a country famous for tolerance and lavish social services. With attacks on police and rescue workers, the riots spread to Stockholm suburbs over four days.

Song war

The Russian contestant in the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest finished fifth, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov threatened vengeance. Lavrov said Russia’s Dina Garipova should have received more points: “That 10 points were stolen from our contestant during the Eurovision 2013 contest does not make us happy. ... The outrageous action at Eurovision regarding the Russian contestant will not go unanswered.”

Monday, May 20

Associated Press/Photo by Sue Ogrocki

Oklahoma terror

A tornado at least a half-mile wide roared through Moore, Okla., a suburb of Oklahoma City, destroying entire neighborhoods with winds reaching 200 mph, setting buildings on fire, and landing a direct blow on Plaza Towers Elementary School. Students were still in classrooms on Monday afternoon when the tornado nearly leveled the structure. Workers pulled dozens of children from the rubble, passing little ones to safety down a human chain of parents and neighborhood volunteers. The tornado killed 10 children and 14 adults.

‘Co-conspirator’ 

Court documents released by The Washington Post revealed that the Justice Department had spied on Fox News correspondent James Rosen and named him a “co-conspirator” in a 2010 leak of classified material. No journalist has ever been prosecuted under the 1917 Espionage Act, and analysts on the left and right labeled it an abuse of power: Gathering information from sources is a basic tenet of good reporting, even when it involves state secrets.

Can you spare a dime? 

Conservative groups announced their filing of a class action lawsuit against the IRS for what the groups call “illegal and harassing behavior in the handling and processing of their applications for non-profit status.” One group said the IRS demanded names of every donor who had given more than a dime, full copies of every speech given at events, and minutes from private board meetings.

Tuesday, May 21

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
Office of the Supreme Leader/AP
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

Barred 

Iran’s ayatollahs barred two leading contenders from the ballot for the June 14 presidential election—guaranteeing that the next head of government will be loyal to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The council approved eight names (out of 600 registered) but barred former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and current presidential aide Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei.

License to kill

A panel of the San Francisco–based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Arizona’s ban on abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, absent a medical emergency, violates a woman’s constitutionally protected right to kill her unborn baby before he or she is able to survive outside the womb.

Mercy mission 

Oklahoma Baptists deployed more than 100 volunteers to the tornado disaster site to assess damage and begin setting up relief centers. The group worked with the Red Cross and the Salvation Army to distribute supplies and to direct homeless victims to emergency shelters. Relief efforts include mobile kitchens and teams to help with debris removal and cleanup work.

Wednesday, May 22

Lois Lerner
Associated Press/Photo by J. Scott Applewhite
Lois Lerner

Taking the Fifth

IRS director for tax-exempt organizations Lois Lerner, invoking the Fifth Amendment’s protection against self-incrimination, refused to talk with House of Representatives investigators about her orders to scrutinize conservative groups.  

Murder

Two men on a busy London street yelled “Allahu akbar” (“Allah is great”) and hacked to death with knives and a meat cleaver a British soldier who served in Afghanistan. The two men rushed at police, who shot and arrested them. One is suspected of ties to Somali militants, and British police arrested 10 other suspects in connection with the murder.

Thursday, May 23

Associated Press/Photo by Elaine Thompson

Timing is everything 

No fatalities followed the collapse of an Interstate 5 bridge in Washington state. The bridge suddenly fell into the water around 7 p.m., but only two vehicles were on it, and rescue crews pulled two drivers and a passenger to shore. If the bridge had collapsed just hours earlier, at the peak of rush hour, many may have died.

Gay Scouts

More than 1,400 delegates at the Boy Scouts of America’s national meeting passed a resolution that will allow homosexual boys to participate fully in its programs. More than 60 percent of the delegates voted for the proposal. Homosexual adults will still be banned from leadership in Scouting.

Religious liberty 

Hobby Lobby lawyers argued before the full 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the Christian-owned arts-and-crafts company should not be forced to provide employee health insurance that includes abortifacient drugs. So far 14 for-profit businesses have won temporary injunctions against the mandate on grounds it violates their religious freedom. Six have lost their cases.

Speech, speech 

In a speech at the National Defense University, President Barack Obama defended his administration’s use of drone strikes to kill terrorist suspects, including U.S. citizens. At the same time, he said, “This war on terrorism, like all wars, must end. That’s what history advises. It’s what our democracy demands.”

Friday, May 24

Muzzled

Uganda’s government continued a week of media crackdowns that included closure of Kampala’s Daily Monitor, one of East Africa’s largest newspapers. Two newspapers and two radio stations were closed after they reported on an alleged government plot to assassinate politicians opposed to President Yoweri Museveni’s son’s taking power.

Saturday-Sunday, May 25-26

Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images

Nigeria’s violence

Terrorists burned three churches in Borno state and vandalized a clinic, with at least one person killed, despite claims by the Nigerian government it is routing Boko Haram militants who are attacking Christians. The government sent in troops to combat the terrorist group, which operates out of Borno, after declaring a state of emergency across parts of northern Nigeria. But attacks continue, and analysts now say northern Nigeria is the most dangerous place in the world to be a Christian: 70 percent of the world’s targeted killings of Christians are taking place there.

From Robinson to Robbie 

Soccer player Robbie Rogers became the first openly homosexual male athlete to compete in an American professional sport, and L.A. Galaxy teammate Landon Donovan compared him to Jackie Robinson, who broke major league baseball’s color barrier in 1947. Robinson endured substantial opposition. Rogers endured an ovation, along with media fawning.

Let it snow 

Mountains along the New York-Vermont border received over 3 feet of snow—making for record late snowfall, and Memorial Day weekend conditions more ripe for skiers than hikers.

Monday, May 27

Warren Dillaway/The Star-Beacon

Day of remembrance

On Memorial Day Americans across the country remembered servicemen and -women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the United States—including 4,486 killed in the war in Iraq and 2,228 killed in Afghanistan. Military leaders also renewed focus on the spike in suicides among U.S. combat veterans—349 in 2012, or nearly one per day.

Escalation 

Russian officials, failing to reach an agreement on Syria in the latest round of talks in Brussels, announced they would provide surface-to-air missiles to the government of President Bashar al-Assad to deter “hotheads from escalating the conflict to the international scale.” The EU failed to agree on an arms embargo, also potentially escalating Western weapons deliveries to rebels. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon promised, should a Russian air defense system reach Syria, “We will know what to do.”

Chemical evidence 

France’s Le Monde offered evidence that Syrian forces aligned with President Bashar al-Assad have used chemical weapons on rebel fighters. President Obama has called such use “a red line” that must not be crossed, but has deferred action to the UN Security Council.

Tuesday, May 28

Jim Watson/AFP/Getty

Consumer confidence

A Standard & Poor’s report showed U.S. home prices jumped nearly 11 percent in March compared with a year ago—the sharpest 12-month increase since April 2006. That gave more fuel to a stock price rally and to American consumer confidence, higher than at any point in the past five years.

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