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MLK remembered

MLK remembered

(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Washingtonians took time off work the week of Aug. 22 to see the unveiling of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall. Standing on a 4-acre plot alongside the Tidal Basin between the Jefferson and Lincoln memorials, the new memorial depicts the civil-rights leader standing arms folded and holding a paper, part of a 30-foot stone edifice with an inscription from his 1963 "I have a dream" speech: "Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope."

Almost all of the memorials along the National Mall are to presidents or wars: King is the first African-American to be memorialized there. President Obama is set to deliver a dedication speech at the memorial Aug. 28, with a quarter million expected to attend. A private foundation, working on this project since the 1980s, raised almost all of the $120 million for the memorial, with about $10 million coming from Congress.

MLK controversy

The MLK Memorial became the subject of controversy when the King family insisted on receiving royalties for quotes and images in the memorial, amounting to over $800,000. Then the private foundation overseeing the memorial selected a Chinese sculptor, Lei Yixin, to sculpt the civil-rights leader, eliciting protests that an American-if not an African-American-should have done the sculpture. The foundation said artistic ability was the sole criterion for selecting the sculptor.

World Youth Day

An estimated 1.5 million Catholic youth from around the world gathered in Madrid, Spain, for World Youth Day on Aug. 21. With the backdrop of high youth unemployment in Europe and youth riots in Britain, Pope Benedict XVI urged youth to find a "solid foundation" in their faith. "Many people have no stable points of reference on which to build their lives, and so they end up deeply insecure," he told the boisterous crowd, which had camped under the stars Saturday night for Mass on Sunday morning. On the papal plane heading to the event, Benedict said that youth need a moral foundation, but so do economic policies: "The economy doesn't function with self-regulation, but needs an ethical reason to function for mankind," he said. Benedict has visited Spain three times as he campaigns to reverse the decline of Catholicism in Europe.

Green card green light

The Obama administration announced on Aug. 19 that it would review the deportation cases of 300,000 illegal immigrants, giving those without a criminal background an opportunity to stay in the United States and apply for a work permit. Authorities say the move would free up immigration enforcement resources so that they can focus on illegal immigrants who pose a threat to the country, rather than cases of illegals who were brought to the country as children, have family in the military, or are supporting family members.

Critics say that by allowing the illegal immigrants to stay, the administration is failing to enforce immigration laws. Hans von Spakovsky, senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation, believes President Barack Obama is overstepping his executive power by "helping individuals violate federal law and avoid the sanctions that Congress provided." The decision comes after Congress failed to pass the DREAM Act, which could have created a pathway for young illegal immigrants with a high-school diploma to become citizens.

New old conflict

A fresh wave of violence in southern Israel that killed eight Israelis in mid-August launched a series of retaliatory strikes and jeopardizes the already frail relationship between Israel and Egypt. Palestinian militants crossed into southern Israel through the porous Egyptian desert and ambushed a bus on Aug. 18, killing six Israeli civilians and two security personnel. Israel responded with a series of airstrikes that killed 15 Palestinians-mostly gunmen Israel says were involved in the attack. While pursuing militants on the Israeli-Egyptian border, Israeli forces mistakenly killed five Egyptian security officers, sparking increased hostilities between the two countries. Egypt threatened to pull its ambassador from Tel Aviv, and Israel promptly issued a rare apology for the deaths.

Before the dust could settle, Palestinians in Gaza bombarded southern Israel with more than 80 rockets the weekend of Aug. 20, killing one person and critically injuring two others. Israel's new Iron Dome rocket defense system intercepted some of the rockets.

Lea Malul, the public affairs director for Barzelai Medical Center in Ashkelon, said they are back to "abnormal living habits" once again: "Our people, patients, families, children, and all loved ones are constantly under attack, bombarded in their own homes, struck with severe fear and anxiety yet with a powerful will to continue with an attempt at some normalcy." According to The Washington Times, a U.S. intelligence investigation identified a new terrorist group linked to the bus attack: al-Qaeda in the Sinai Peninsula.

Make a difference

Voting continues until Sept. 30 in the sixth annual WORLD Magazine Effective Compassion contest. The four regional finalists-from New York, Kentucky, Missouri, and California-will each receive $5,000, and the national winner will receive $20,000 more. Funding plus national publicity will allow all of these small, local organizations, and especially the winner, to increase their reach. Please visit to learn about the final four and vote for the one you believe most worthy.

Contract hit

A county judge in Illinois on Aug. 18 ruled against a bid by Catholic Charities to preserve its foster care and adoption contracts with the state. Illinois ended its contracts with Catholic Charities this summer after passing a law recognizing same-sex civil unions. The state had informed the organization, an arm of the Catholic Church, that its policy of limiting foster and adoptive parents to heterosexual married couples violates the new civil unions law. Three major Illinois dioceses sued the state, arguing that religious adoption agencies have specific protection under the civil unions law, which is titled "The Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act." Sangamon County Circuit Judge John Schmidt didn't address the question of whether religious organizations with state contracts have religious freedom protections, but wrote in a three-page ruling that the state could decide to renew or not renew contracts as it wished. "No citizen has a recognized legal right to a contract with the government," Schmidt wrote. Catholic Charities handled 20 percent of the state's foster care and adoption caseload. Lawyers for the group are reviewing the ruling and "considering next actions," they said. As the case stands, Catholic Charities in Illinois will need to find other organizations to provide for the 2,000 foster children in its care.

Eastern quake

"Was that just an earthquake? On the East Coast?" That was the sentiment of tens of millions of people on Aug. 23 after a 5.8-magnitude quake rocked their afternoons. The strongest East Coast tremor in 67 years lasted less than a minute but was felt from Georgia all the way to southern Canada. In Washington, D.C., located 84 miles from the quake's epicenter, sidewalks buckled, buildings rumbled, and thousands poured out of offices with stunned looks on their faces. The quake damaged the National Cathedral, cracked the top of the Washington Monument, and had some Pentagon evacuees recalling the 9/11 attacks.

But the quake mostly will be remembered for causing little serious damage or injuries. At its epicenter in Mineral, Va., a town of less than 500 people, the quake shattered glass and turned sections of buildings into piles of rubble. But it did not damage two nearby nuclear reactors. Soon after its bucking had stopped, most of the quake's action had shifted online. People posted pictures on Facebook showing images such as toppled lawn chairs and competed on Twitter for funniest description (Earthquake in DC. Do not panic. A Super Committee will be formed to at some point possibly decide what to do). A 7.3-magnitude quake that hit the Charleston, S.C., area in 1886 remains the largest quake ever to hit the East Coast.

Lawless land

Six months after the March assassination of Pakistan's Minister of Minorities Shabaz Bhatti, authorities have arrested no one in connection with the daylight killing, and have suggested that Bhatti, the top-ranking Christian official in the country, could have been killed by relatives in a property dispute. An Aug. 24 report by the Inspector General of Police laid blame on two militants connected with Tehrik-i-Taliban, who claimed responsibility at the time for the killing, but said they had fled the country. "Sharia Law prohibits Christians testifying against Muslims in court," points out Elizabeth Kendal of Religious Liberty Monitoring, essentially guaranteeing Muslims impunity for crimes against Christians, and "Sharia provisions are increasingly being enforced to appease politically powerful hardline Islamists, even though these provisions conflict with the law of the land" in Pakistan.

Losing Jobs

The Steve Jobs era at Apple is over-again. The aggressive and visionary businessman who overcame several setbacks to give the world the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad announced his resignation as CEO of Apple on Aug. 24. "I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple's CEO, I would be the first to let you know," said Jobs in a statement. "Unfortunately, that day has come." Jobs, 55, has been battling cancer.

Jobs began Apple in 1976 with engineer Steve Wozniak. The first Apple computer was a flop, but Apple II made the company a success. Forced to leave Apple in the 1980s after the failure of the Lisa computer, Jobs didn't return until Apple bought his second company, NeXT Computer. Apple under Jobs transformed the mobile market and became one of the most valuable companies in America. Tim Cook, Apple's chief operating officer since 1998, will take over as CEO of the company. Jobs will remain as chairman of the board.

Taking a break

The sun above Martha's Vineyard provided just some of the heat bearing down on President Obama during his 10-day August vacation. Critics questioned why Obama was paying an estimated $50,000 per week to rent a 28-acre compound while the nation suffers from a dismal economy. But presidential vacations and public criticism of them are a longstanding tradition: John Adams took heat in 1798 for spending about seven months on his Massachusetts farm. How does Obama compare to his immediate predecessors? Through 31 months in office, according to the Associated Press, Obama, not counting his most recent trip, has taken 61 vacation days. In that same span, Ronald Reagan had taken 112 vacation days, Bill Clinton 28 days (with a 21-day trip upcoming), and George W. Bush 180 days at his Texas ranch.

A coach's challenge

University of Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summit is bracing for a new challenge this season: She announced on Aug. 23 that she has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Summit, 59, has more wins than any other college basketball coach in history, including eight national championships, and she intends to continue coaching. "Obviously, I realize I may have some limitations with this condition since there will be some good days and some bad days," said Summit in an open letter to the university. "For that reason, I will be relying on my outstanding coaching staff like never before."

Football follies

As college football season begins, even the most diehard fans can no longer deny that widespread cheating plagues the game. The latest scandal, courtesy of an 11-month investigation by Yahoo! Sports, alleges that a Miami Hurricanes booster showered 72 players with illegal benefits from 2002 to 2010. Those gifts from Nevin Shapiro included cash, prostitutes, jewelry, and expensive parties. Shapiro, who is serving a 20-year prison sentence for his role in a $930 million Ponzi scheme, even alleges that he paid for an abortion after a player got a prostitute pregnant.

The NCAA is investigating, and some are calling for the death penalty for Miami's football team-the first such punishment since SMU had to shut down its program in 1987. Ohio State, Oregon, North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Auburn, and Tennessee are just some of the football programs overwhelming NCAA investigators these days. "High-profile players demand high-profile compliance," Paul Dee, then-chairman of the NCAA's Committee on Infractions, said last year while announcing sanctions for USC. Who is Dee? He was Miami's athletic director from 1993 to 2008.