Loaded latte. Starbucks is getting some love from an unlikely source: Gun rights advocates. More than 2,000 armed activists plan to visit their local Starbucks store today to show appreciation for the company’s refusal to cave to anti-gun-lobby efforts to ban guns from the popular cafés. The Seattle-based chain, known for its hipster baristas and support for same-sex marriage, has not taken a formal position on guns. In fact, corporate policy instructs managers to follow applicable state gun laws, even if that means customers wear their holstered firearms into the store—as they are allowed to do in more than 40 states. Although this isn’t the first year for the appreciation day, it’s the first one since the elementary school shootings in Newtown, Conn., where parents object to the event. But Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said, “I’m not a politician. I run a coffee company and we’re trying to abide by the laws in which we do business.”
Prayer petition. The Obama administration agrees with Republicans on at least one thing: Local municipalities should have the right to pray before meetings, if they want to. In a move that surprised religious liberty advocates, administration lawyers filed a friend of the court brief this week advocating for expanded freedom for public prayers, even if they’re Christian. Later this year, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a case challenging the longstanding practice of public prayer in the town of Greece, N.Y. The plaintiffs, one Jewish and one an atheist, say the prayers, which are almost exclusively Christian, constitute an endorsement of religion. Amazingly, the Obama administration disagrees. The town council’s opening of its meetings with a Christian prayer “does not amount to an unconstitutional establishment of religion merely because most prayer-givers are Christian and many or most of their prayers contain sectarian references,” U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. wrote in his legal brief.
Held accountable. A federal grand jury indicted two of Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s college friends today on charges of conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstructing justice to impede the investigation into the attacks. Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov, both Kazakhstan citizens living in the United States on student visas, are accused of taking Tsarnaev’s laptop and a backpack containing fireworks from Tsarnaev’s dorm room after seeing pictures of their friend on the news. The students, both 19, threw the computer and backpack away in a dumpster near their apartment. If convicted, they face up to 25 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and deportation. Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty to 30 charges when he made his first court appearance on July 10.
Immunization. Worldwide health officials are excited about a new vaccine for malaria, which has shown 100 percent effectiveness against the disease in a very limited trial. The method of treatment is unique because it involves injecting live but weakened forms of the malaria parasite, normally transmitted by mosquitos, into a patient’s bloodstream. Other vaccines use only parts of the parasite. Scientists decided to try the new method because research showed people bitten frequently by irradiated mosquitos developed an immunity to the disease, which continues to ravage Africa and parts of Asia.