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Associated Press/Photo by Muhammed Muheisen

Dispatches

News

Issue: "Rethinking the death penalty," Oct. 19, 2013

FEARING GOD MORE THAN MAN: At All Saints Church in Peshawar, Pakistani Christians who survived a Sept. 22 suicide bombing, the worst attack on Christians in the country’s history, returned to the church to pray. the next day.

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Wednesday, Sept. 18

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Shop around

More than 160,000 employees of Walgreen Co.—the largest drugstore chain in the nation—will need to shop elsewhere for one notable service: health insurance. Officials at Walgreen Co. announced they would provide payments to employees to purchase health insurance in a private exchange beginning next year. Sears Holdings Corp. and Darden Restaurants announced similar plans, and officials at Trader Joe’s Co. said they would end insurance for part-time employees, but offer the workers $500 to purchase their own plans. A Walgreen spokesman said the move wasn’t related directly to President Obama’s healthcare law, but it’s unclear whether the company will offer larger payments in future years if healthcare costs continue to increase. 

Just say non 

French lawmakers voted to ban beauty pageants for children under 16 and punish adults who try to enter children into such contests. Proponents of the bill said the ban would protect children against being sexualized by contests that often include tight clothes, high heels, and heavy makeup. Offending adults face up to two years in prison and a 30,000 euro fine.

Dollars and sense 

The Federal Reserve announced it would continue its $85 billion monthly bond-buying scheme known as quantitative easing. Investors enjoying the easy money sent the stock market soaring. During the same week, initial jobless claims in the United States rose by 15,000 to 309,000.

Thursday, Sept. 19

Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A time to weep

As investigators continued a probe into the shooting rampage at the Washington Navy Yard, family and friends mourned the 12 lives lost during the deadliest attack on a military base since 2009. Among the dead: Martin Bodrog, 54, who served in the Navy for 22 years, and left behind a wife and three daughters. Bodrog also served nearly 20 years as a youth leader for the Christian group Young Life, and taught Sunday school to 3-year-olds at Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, Va. Neighbor Fred Schwien said he attended a neighborhood Bible study Bodrog helped start 11 years ago: “He was a rock of a man.”

Friday, Sept. 20

Pope Francis
Associated Press/Riccardo De Luca
Pope Francis

Parsing the pope

Media outlets declared Pope Francis was shifting the Catholic Church from social issues like abortion and homosexuality after the pontiff told a Jesuit magazine: “It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.” But those hoping for a seismic shift may face disappointment. The pope affirmed the Church’s teachings on social issues and emphasized the gospel as a foundation for moral teaching.

Touch and swipe

Apple Inc. launched sales of its iPhone 5c and 5s to blockbuster results, selling 9 million new devices in one weekend. The 5s includes a fingerprint security system designed to lock the phone unless the owner swipes his fingerprint across the device.

Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 21-22

Associated Press/Jonathan Kalan

Nairobi nightmare

Islamic militants launched a horrific attack in a Nairobi mall that lasted four days, killed at least 72 people, and ended with the collapse of three floors of the upscale shopping center after a fire broke out. A dozen assailants with the terror group al-Shabaab stormed Westgate Mall on Saturday afternoon, spraying bullets across the crowded mall and leaving bloodied corpses strewn around a packed food court. Witnesses said the militants allowed Muslim bystanders to leave. The mall is a popular spot for middle-class Kenyans, foreigners, aid workers, and missionaries. 

Terror in Pakistan 

At least 80 people died and 180 suffered injuries when a pair of suicide bombers detonated explosive-laden vests after a Sunday morning worship service at All Saints Church in northwestern Pakistan. Members of a branch of the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, and said more would come unless the United States stops drone attacks against militants in tribal regions.

Monday, Sept. 23

Arshad Arbab/EPA/Landov

Brotherhood ban

An Egyptian court banned the Muslim Brotherhood and confiscated its assets in a continued showdown with the radical group that ruled the country less than three months ago. Egyptian demonstrators successfully demanded the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi—a member of the group—in July. Six weeks later, Egyptian military dispersed camps of Muslim Brotherhood supporters in clashes that killed hundreds. The Egyptian military continues to hold Morsi in military detention.

In the doghouse

The owner of a York, Pa., gift shop cancelled an appearance by Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, saying he had received thousands of online death threats. Vick served 18 months in prison for running an illegal dog-fighting ring that included severe animal cruelty. The quarterback has admitted his guilt, and has professed faith in Christ, but continues to face backlash: Organizers cancelled book-signing events earlier this year over similar threats.

Tuesday, Sept. 24

Ted Cruz
Brooks Kraft/Corbis/API Images
Ted Cruz

Here I stand

When Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, approached the Senate podium at 2:41 p.m. on a Tuesday afternoon, he declared: “I intend to speak in support of defunding Obamacare until I can no longer stand.” Cruz returned to his seat 21 hours and 19 minutes later, making his speech the fourth longest since the Senate began keeping tabs.

Cruz’s all-night marathon included a reading from Proverbs and an edited bedtime story for his daughters at home. “When Americans tried it, they discovered they did not like green eggs and ham and they did not like Obamacare, either,” said Cruz. “They did not like Obamacare in a box, with a fox, in a house or with a mouse.”

Pakistan quake

A 7.7-magnitude earthquake struck southwestern Pakistan, killing at least 400, injuring hundreds, and leaving thousands homeless. Rescue workers struggled to reach victims in the remote regions of Baluchistan, and doctors said they had few medical supplies. But emergency workers negotiating the remote terrain faced another obstacle: Militants fired rockets at helicopters trying to deliver aid. Militants in the region have battled the Pakistani government for years.

Wednesday, Sept. 25

Stamped out

Officials at the U.S. Postal Service asked Congress to approve an emergency price increase for first-class stamps—from 46 cents to 49 cents. U.S. Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe told a Senate committee earlier in the month that his agency was in “the midst of a financial disaster.” How bad is it? The Postal Service expects to lose $6 billion this year.

Jefferson’s revolution 

Two rural counties in northern California voted to secede from the Golden State, saying state representatives don’t address the region’s problems. Citizens from Modoc County (population 9,300) and neighboring Siskiyou County (population 44,000) are asking a dozen nearby counties to consider seceding from California and starting a new state called Jefferson. It’s a long shot: The U.S. Congress would have to approve any new states in the union.

Thursday, Sept. 26

Saeed Abedini
American Center for Law and Justice
Saeed Abedini

Sober anniversary

Iranian-American pastor Saeed Abedini marked one year of imprisonment in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison. Abedini’s wife, Naghmeh, has traveled the U.S. advocating for his release (see "A long way from Tehran"), and evangelist Billy Graham joined the call for the pastor’s freedom. (Iranian officials jailed Abedini last year for Christian activity during a visit to the country.) By Friday, President Obama mentioned Abedini to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during a 15-minute phone call, and asked the leader to release the American citizen. 

All talk?

U.S. and Iranian officials held their highest-level talks in 36 years. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during UN meetings. The leaders discussed possibilities for curtailing Iran’s controversial nuclear program, but many experts remained skeptical about whether the talk would translate into action.

Friday, Sept. 27

Associated Press/Jeff Chiu

State’s fights

A New Jersey judge ruled the state must allow same-sex couples to marry, saying the U.S. Supreme Court’s striking down of the Defense of Marriage Act in June guaranteed a right to same-sex marriage. Last year, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill by the state’s legislature aimed at legalizing gay marriage. The governor’s office said he would appeal the decision to the New Jersey Supreme Court, and likely would seek a stay preventing same-sex marriages from beginning on Oct. 21.

Fault-finding mission 

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported it is “extremely likely” humans have caused most of global warming since the mid-20th century. The scientists authoring the report claimed 95 percent certainty that humans, rather than natural variations, cause the earth’s rise in temperature. Not all scientists agree: The Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change recently reported humanity’s contribution to global warming likely is small. 

Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 28-29

Andy Petitte
Associated Press/Photo by David J. Phillip
Andy Petitte

Tears and cheers

The legendary careers of New York Yankees pitchers Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte came to an emotional end. Pettitte, 41, baseball’s all-time leader in postseason wins (19), pitched a complete-game five-hitter in his final appearance. Rivera, 43, considered the greatest relief pitcher ever, finished with 652 career saves—easily baseball’s best. Rivera and Pettitte, both Christians, broke into the majors in 1995 and led the Yankees to five World Series titles.

Weekend woes 

In another violent weekend overseas, militants from the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram shot dead at least 40 college students sleeping in a dormitory in northeast Nigeria. Militants attacked the College of Agriculture in the early morning hours. The terrorist organization has killed thousands of victims—including students and Christians—across Nigeria. The group’s name translates to: “Western education is forbidden.”

Tuesday, Oct. 1

Deborah Lielasus tries to sign up, but the website stopped working
Associated Press/Photo by Holly Ramer
Deborah Lielasus tries to sign up, but the website stopped working

Obamacare begins

As some parts of the federal government shut down, a new chapter began: The U.S. government launched the new insurance marketplaces at the center of President Obama’s healthcare legislation. Soon after the launch, marketplace websites began displaying error messages in at least 24 out of the 36 states where the federal government is overseeing the exchanges. Government officials had acknowledged technical glitches would slow parts of the system from the beginning. A Kaiser Family Foundation survey found only 15 percent of respondents knew Oct. 1 was the first day they could begin signing up for Obamacare. The federal government had allotted $684 million for publicity, marketing, and advertising.

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