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Time for do-overs

We all need second chances, and the news saw a fortnight full of them

Time for do-overs

U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth McKenzie speaks before a picture of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi during an Oct. 30 press briefing. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The 1991 film City Slickers, about a trio of buddies who go on a cattle drive adventure to stave off midlife crises, is mostly fun but offers poignant moments. In one, a main character grieves the mess he’s made of his life back home, which includes adultery and losing his job. Billy Crystal’s character says to his crying friend, “You remember when we were kids, and we were playing ball, and we hit the ball over the fence out of bounds, and we yelled, ‘Do-over’? … Your life is a do-over. You’ve got a clean slate.” 

The Washington Post needed a do-over after a headline about the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on Oct. 26. One quick Post headline declared: “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, austere religious scholar at helm of Islamic State, dies at 48.” An editor quickly changed the headline to: “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, extremist leader of Islamic State, dies at 48.” But many commentators criticized the Post for characterizing al-Baghdadi as anything other than a brutal terrorist. A Post spokesperson said the “austere religious scholar” headline was a mistake.

As leader of ISIS, al-Baghdadi spearheaded a vicious takeover of territories in Iraq and Syria before forces from the United States and other countries retook them. Reports suggest al-Baghdadi personally raped U.S. hostage Kayla Mueller after ISIS soldiers captured her in Syria in 2013.

On Oct. 31, ISIS announced Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi is the group’s new leader.

Meanwhile, Britain is getting another Brexit do-over. The European Union (EU) on Oct. 28 granted a three-month extension for the United Kingdom and the EU to agree to terms on the country’s withdrawal. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had pushed hard for an Oct. 31 Brexit with or without agreed-upon terms. But Parliament blocked his attempt.

Aaron Chown/WPA Pool/Getty Images

Boris Johnson (Aaron Chown/WPA Pool/Getty Images)

After the deadline extension, Parliament gave Johnson a Dec. 12 election he wanted. If enough Brexit-supporting members win seats, they could ratify Johnson’s Brexit deal before Jan. 31. Johnson, who became prime minister after promising an Oct. 31 Brexit, publicly apologized to supporters on Nov. 2 for not coming through. The United Kingdom voted in June 2016 to leave the EU. The original deadline to do so was March 29 of this year.

California residents are tired of evacuation do-overs. By Nov. 3, firefighters had mostly contained several of the fires that menaced the state. But by then, the Kincade fire in Sonoma County had scorched about 78,000 acres and destroyed about 370 structures in its weeklong rampage. Fire crews gained control of several other blazes burning in Southern California. A break in ferocious Santa Ana winds—some gusts clocked in at more than 100 mph—made containment possible. But forecasters were already warning of more high winds and dry conditions in the weeks ahead.

PHILIP PACHECO/AFP/Getty Images

A back fire set by fire fighters burns a hillside near PG&E power lines during firefighting operations in Healdsburg, Calif. (PHILIP PACHECO/AFP/Getty Images)

Throughout October, utility companies in California shut off electricity to millions of residents in an effort to stop the fires. Power lines blown by the wind have caused some fires this year, which prompted the blackouts. 

The White House continued efforts to black out ongoing impeachment proceedings, telling several Trump administration officials not to testify in closed-door House Intelligence Committee hearings. The White House says it’s not fair that Democrats won’t let White House attorneys sit in on the testimony, while Democrats in the House of Representatives say the decision is their prerogative. Democrats say they’re trying to determine whether earlier this year President Donald Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine in order to pressure its leaders to agree to investigate the business dealings of presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son.

The Trump administration and Republicans have consistently criticized the impeachment hearings because they’ve been closed to the public. On Oct. 31, the House passed a resolution—with a vote of 232-196 along party lines—to begin bringing some of the proceedings out from behind closed doors. The resolution allowed the House Intelligence Committee to release transcripts of testimony thus far. Republicans will also be able to call their own witnesses, though Democrats must approve them.

Meanwhile, the anonymous whistleblower whose report sparked the impeachment movement said through an attorney on Nov. 3 he is willing to answer questions submitted by Republicans. President Donald Trump and some GOP officials have called for the whistleblower, a CIA officer, to testify publicly. Democrats and the officer’s attorneys protest, saying protecting whistleblower anonymity is paramount to rooting out corruption.

Smithsonian magazine needs another shot at a story for its November issue about Che Guevara. The article follows Guevara’s youngest son as he leads tourists on motorcycle tours to pivotal locations of the Cuban Revolution, including his father’s gravesite. The story illustrates what happened to the Communist revolutionary’s family after his 1967 death. But it paints the warlord in mostly sympathetic hues, ignoring the brutality and despotism—including extrajudicial executions and torture that Guevara personally oversaw—the revolution ushered into Cuba.

Christians especially should understand the need for do-overs. Hip-hop artist Kanye West seems to be making the most of a do-over he proclaims after getting “radically saved.” West’s new album, Jesus Is King, is the talk of the entertainment world. The formerly foul-mouthed West landed an album atop the Billboard 200 albums chart for a ninth time. Many Christians are praising West and Jesus Is King, while others criticize. But we can hope the do-over represented by West’s album continues to bear fruit.

Michael Reneau

Michael Reneau

Michael Reneau is WORLD’s deputy editor based in East Tennessee. Follow Michael on Twitter @MichaelReneau.