Daily Dispatches
President Barack Obama (left) and Pope Francis exchange gifts at the Vatican Thursday.
Associated Press/Photo by Gabriel Bouys, Pool
President Barack Obama (left) and Pope Francis exchange gifts at the Vatican Thursday.

Midday Roundup: Obama gets papal lesson on religious liberty

Newsworthy

Life and liberty. Pope Francis pointed to issues of “particular relevance for the church” in the United States when he met with President Barack Obama today. Religious liberty, life, and conscientious objection topped the list, according to a brief statement by the Vatican. The Vatican likely was referring to the rights of Americans to refuse to participate in activities that violate their religious beliefs, such as the Obamacare contraceptive mandate currently under review by the U.S. Supreme Court. Obama said the two also discussed responsibility to care for the poor. He said he was moved by the pontiff’s compassion and his encouragement for all to have a moral perspective on world problems and not to think in terms of self-interest.

Blame game. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., on Wednesday offered an explanation for the latest Obamacare delay. He said this week’s pushback of the Obamacare enrollment deadline was due not to any problems with the law or the HealthCare.gov website, but rather with its users. “There are some people who are not educated on how to use the internet,” Reid said. The sign-up deadline was supposed to be March 31. But with Obamacare falling millions of enrollees short of its stated goals, the White House on Tuesday announced that anyone who simply says they had trouble signing up will get an additional two to three weeks.

Couch potatoes. A report this week from the Motion Picture Association of America showed domestic movie box-office revenues rose slightly last year, over 2012. But, the report noted, higher ticket prices drove the financial increase, not attendance. The number of tickets sold declined last year, continuing a trend of falling ticket sales that started in 2003. Ticket sales are down 11 percent over the past decade, due partly to the expansion of home entertainment offerings such as Netflix.

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Turkey vs. the internet. A week after trying to ban its residents from using Twitter to criticize the government, Turkish authorities want to clamp down on YouTube, too. The government is reacting to the leak of an audio recording allegedly of a meeting between Turkey’s foreign minister, intelligence chief, and top military and foreign ministry officials. The four are allegedly heard discussing a military intervention in Syria. The Twitter blockade came after links to other wiretapped recordings were spread on the microblogging site, causing Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government major embarrassment before local elections on March 30. It was no surprise that Turkey’s notoriously obsessed social media users figured out numerous ways around the Twitter ban, calling even greater attention to its government’s shortcomings.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Lynde Langdon
Lynde Langdon

Lynde lives in Wichita, Kan., with her husband and two daughters. She holds degrees from the University of Missouri in journalism, Russian, and business administration. She is in a long-term, committed relationship with the Lutheran church. Follow Lynde on Twitter @lmlangdon.

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