Refusal to cease. The Rev. Frank Schaefer plans to defy a church order to surrender his ministerial credentials after he performed his son’s same-sex wedding. The Pennsylvania pastor held a press conference today in Philadelphia in which he said he finds the United Methodist Church’s prohibition on gay marriage discriminatory. Schaefer has said before that he cannot promise to refrain from presiding over same-sex marriage ceremonies in the future. He is scheduled to meet with church officials Thursday about his future, following his conviction in a church trial last month. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Schaefer and a group of ministers petitioned Bishop Peggy Johnson to stop putting clergy on trial for presiding at same-sex weddings.
Aid appeal. The United Nations today made its largest-ever financial appeal for a single humanitarian crisis, the civil war in Syria. About $6.5 billion is needed to provide food, shelter, and healthcare to millions of Syrians who have been displaced in the nearly 3-year-old conflict. More than 100,000 people have died in the war, and there are 2.5 million people in hard-to-reach communities who need assistance, said Valerie Amos, the UN’s humanitarian chief. After Syria, the next biggest requests are for $1.1 billion for South Sudan, $995 million for Sudan, $928 million for Somalia, $832 million for the Congo, and $791 million for rebuilding in the typhoon-hit Philippines. The aid request totaled $13 billion.
To the moon. A Chinese space probe landed on the moon Saturday marking the first soft landing of a craft on the lunar surface in 37 years. The landing vehicle will conduct scientific research for a year, and its accompanying rover will survey the moon’s structure and probe for natural resources. China says it is exploring the moon to gain scientific understanding and develop space engineering and other technologies to prepare the country for deep space exploration in the future. The moon rover’s landing is also a source of national pride. “China’s moon probe is a way to exhibit to the world that we have acquired advanced space technology, which is more sophisticated than nuclear technology, and it is also a way to win international recognition as a big power,” said He Qisong, a space expert at the Shanghai University of Political Science and Law. China said Monday it was on track to launch a fifth lunar probe in 2017 with the aim of bringing back lunar soil and rock samples.
Finals follies. A bogus bomb threat interrupted finals at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., this morning. Students had to evacuate four buildings while police investigated the threats, which turned out to be a hoax. Students reportedly stayed calm while relocating to other campus buildings. Juniors Alexander Ryjik of Alexandria, Va., and Diego Abrahao of Sunny Isles Beach, Fla., said their professor was handing out exam booklets for their Politics of American Education class shortly after 9 a.m. when the alert went out that they had to leave Emerson Hall. “I have a good guess somebody called it in so they wouldn’t have to take an exam,” Ryjik said. “It’s frustrating because now the exam will have to be postponed.” Not all students shared Ryjik’s anger; The Harvard Crimson tweeted that students erupted in applause after the announcement that the morning’s final exams were canceled.