To be frank, Mississippi's been having themselves a shit few weeks. Last week in the recap, I passed along the tale of Marco McMillian, the 33-year-old openly gay mayoral candidate who was found murdered before the election. (That the media hasn't been all over this story since day one, relaying this as one of the worst hate-crimes to take place in the past few decades, shows just how much the gay rights movement has to go.) This week, it was determined that he'd been apparently “beaten, dragged, and set on fire” during his murder. That's a serious, nonaccidental, sending-a-message kind of murder right there. Now, on its own, perhaps this tragedy could simply be seen as an isolated incident, nothing to draw broad conclusions from. But in another story from last week, the Atlantic detailed just how the state has forbidden demonstrations of contraceptive use in public classrooms since the passage of HB 999 in 2011. What's been the result of this bill's working its way through the state schools over the past few years? Mississippi lays claim to both the highest teen birthrate and the highest rate of HIV in young adults. Which are two things that certainly would not be a problem if the kids in that state knew how to use a condom. All of which is to say that it's not at all surprising if you look at a survey of “most religious states in the United States,” you'll see that Mississippi is ranked numero uno, with 58 percent of its residents describing themselves as “very religious.” In this experience we call life, there are plenty of coincidences. This is not one of them.
Onto the roundup!
- I'm certainly no fan of Rand Paul. But his filibustering performance last week, focusing on the nation's use of drone attacks, certainly brings attention to a cause that needs some. Especially seeing as the Air Force went ahead and stopped reporting when they unleash the drones in Afghanistan.
- Arkansas banned abortion after 12 weeks, by far the most restrictive abortion ban in the US.
- On the way back from a funeral for 48 Shiite Muslims who were killed in a massive mosque bombing the day before, gunmen opened fire at the group and killed another two.
- Chuck Hagel's first trip to Afghanistan since becoming Defense Secretary was met with all sorts of violence: a suicide bomber killed 19 Afghan citizens (eight of which were kids) before an attack on an Afghan base killed a US contractor and injured four soldiers. “This attack was a message to him,” said the Taliban.
- The continent of Africa is filled with Islamist militants fighting everywhere these days. In the continuing skirmish in Mali, French forces lost their third soldier since fighting began in a battle where at least 15 Islamist militants also died. Gunmen assumed to be part of Islamist group Boko Haram killed eight people during an attack on a police station in Nigeria. Also in Nigeria, the Islamist group who kidnapped “seven Christian foreigners” announced that they've all been executed. And finally, the UN Security Council lifted their arms embargo on the country of Somalia to allow the government to purchase light weapons that can be used in their fight against al Qaeda-ish Islamist militants.
- Speaking of al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden's son-in-law Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, who was apparently the terrorist group's top propagandist, was captured in Jordan and shipped over to New York to stand trial.
- Let's all lighten up for a moment by looking at this old church booklet called “Perverted Distorted Sex” and laugh at the improper punctuation on the front cover.
- All the Catholic cardinals are in da house! Meaning, you know, the Vatican, in order to pick the new pope. First on the agenda, at least for the Brazilian section of the conclave, is to try and entice the country's media to publish articles supporting their favored candidate.
- And the first indication that this papal election is going to be one hell of a circus? A man wearing a fake bishop outfit tried to sneak into the proceedings. He was given away after announcing he was part of "Corpus Dei" and real bishops realized his cossack was too short. (By the way, even if this election is a fucking mess, it's certainly not going to be as hilariously terrible as these seven papal elections.)
- Speaking of Catholics, five of their bishops are speaking out against the Violence Against Women Act—an act intended to protect women against domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking—because it also covers lesbians, transgendered folk, and bisexuals.
- The Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bob Carr, criticized his country's handling of the mysterious case of Prisoner X, the reported Mossad spy who supposedly committed suicide in Israeli custody while being held in a “suicide-proof prison cell.”
- A bus company in Israel has introduced a line of “Palestinian-only” buses after Jewish settlers complained they are a security risk. As is true regarding anything in that neck of the woods, this certainly won't end well.
- The US has postponed awarding the International Woman of Courage Award to Egyptian activist Samira Ibrahim after it was discovered she wrote a whole bunch of “anti-Zionist” tweets that she refuses to apologize for.
- Nothing converts liberal-minded folks quite like a shoddily put together and awkwardly rhymed “rap” video about the evils of homosexuality. So job well done, Maggie Gallagher!
- And Our Person of the Week: Somehow, it's Carly Rae Jepsen—must've been a shit week—who backed out of a concert for the Boy Scouts due to their ban on allowing gay people in their organization.
Previously - Religion Can Ruin Your Heroes