Anniversary appeals. On the one-year anniversary of the imprisonment of Iranian-American pastor Saeed Abedini, supporters are gathering in cities across the country and in front of the White House today to hold prayer vigils and rallies demanding the his release. The Iranian government arrested, convicted, and sentenced Abedini to eight years in prison for undermining state security. The Muslim convert, who left Iran in 2004 and is now a U.S. citizen, was active in the underground house church movement. But at the time of his arrest, he was working to establish an orphanage. Hope for Abedini’s release has grown in recent weeks as Iran released 80 political prisoners ahead of newly elected (and supposedly moderate) President Hassan Rouhani’s trip to New York to speak to the UN General Assembly. During a chance encounter with Rouhani in a New York hotel lobby on Monday, Abedini’s wife Naghmeh was able to give one of the president’s aides a letter from her husband pleading for his release. And today, in an advertisement published in The New York Times, evangelist Billy Graham added his request for Abedini’s freedom, appealing to Rouhani’s desire for better relations with America: “Such an action would, I believe, have a positive impact in our nation, and might well be perceived by our leadership as a significant step in reducing tensions.”
Wanted. International policing agency INTERPOL has issued an alert for Samantha Lewthwaite, the 29-year-old British woman Kenyan authorities believe might have participated in the Westgate Mall attack. Although officials in Britain and Kenya have been unable to verify Lewthwaite’s involvement, survivors reported seeing a pale-skinned woman among the al-Shabaab attackers. Lewthwaite is already wanted in Kenya on suspicion that she participated in a 2011 terror plot to target tourists in the country. She has been on the run since then. Lewthwaite was married to Germaine Lindsay, who blew himself up in a London underground train station in 2005, killing 26 people.
Recovered remains. Italian officials announced today that the salvage team working on the Costa Concordia have discovered human remains near the shipwrecked cruise liner. Two people have been missing since the January 2012 accident, which killed 32 passengers and crew members. Officials hoped to recover the last two bodies after rolling the ship off its side earlier this month.
Supporting a gay marriage. Former President George H.W. Bush was photographed serving as a witness at a same-sex marriage ceremony in Maine last weekend. The two women exchanging vows said they have known Bush and his wife Barbara for 12 years and often attend social events hosted by the former first couple at their Kennebunkport compound. When asked about the event, a spokesman said the Bushes were “private citizens attending a private ceremony for two friends.”
Body art ban. The U.S. Army is preparing to launch a new policy that will ban soldiers from having tattoos below the elbow or knee and above the neckline. The policy would only affect new recruits, and current soldiers would be allowed to keep any tattoos they already have. But all soldiers would be required to sit down with their commanding officers to discuss individual tattoos. Soldiers would be required to remove any artwork deemed racist, sexist, or extremist.