Judge says Wash. can't make pharmacies sell Plan B
TACOMA, Wash. (AP) - A federal judge has ruled that Washington
state can't force pharmacies to sell Plan B or other emergency
U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton said the state's true goal
was to suppress religious objections by druggists - not to promote
timely access to the medicines for people who need them.
Further appeals are expected, both from the state and from
groups that intervened in the case on the state's behalf.
An Olympia drug store and two licensed pharmacists sued in 2007,
saying that dispensing Plan B would infringe on their religious
beliefs. The drug can prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg,
an act they equate with taking human life.
The state argued that the requirements are legal because they
apply neutrally to all medicines and pharmacies.
Jason Crabb leads Dove Awards nominations with 8
ATLANTA (AP) - Singer Jason Crabb has earned eight nominations
for the Dove Awards, the Christian and gospel music show that will
be held in Atlanta for the second year in a row.
Laura Story drew the second-most with six nominations and rapper
LaCrae got five nods for the 43rd annual show, which will take
place on April 19. Kirk Franklin, Chris Tomlin, Natalie Grant and
Jamie Grace each received four.
Crabb, who's up for best male vocalist, will also compete for
artist of the year against Casting Crowns, Laura Story, LaCrae and
Jamie Grace and R&B singer-turned-minister Montell Jordan helped
announce the nominees Wednesday in Atlanta.
Last year, more than 1.5 million viewed the awards show, which
aired on GMC, formerly known as the Gospel Music Channel.
Schools work to balance gay, religious rights
UNDATED (AP) - Schools nationwide are working to balance gay and
religious rights ever since a U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowed a
California law school to deny recognition to a Christian group that
did not allow gay members.
The 2010 ruling upheld Hastings College of the Law's refusal to
grant official recognition to the Christian Legal Society.
Experts say the decision applies to public schools that have
all-comers policies, which require campus groups to open their
membership and leadership to anyone. Since the ruling, both public
and private schools have reassessed their policies, and some are
Christian groups say forcing them to accept leaders who don't
hold their beliefs is an attack on religious freedom, and that they
have a right to require their leaders to behave in ways consistent
with Biblical texts.
Others say excluding gays for any reason is unacceptable
Cardinal Dolan: Lent is like `spring training'
NEW YORK (AP) - Cardinal Timothy Dolan has celebrated his first
Mass in New York since being elevated from archbishop, comparing
the Lenten season that began Wednesday to baseball's "spring
After Ash Wednesday Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dolan said
that in Lent, "we get the flab out, we get the sins out. He said,
"Our fight is not against the Red Sox or the Cardinals; it's
against Satan and sin and selfishness."
Dolan wore a cardinal's traditional red cap. But his vestments
were purple, symbolizing Christ's suffering for the period of
sacrifice and penance leading to Easter.
Earlier on his first full day at home, Dolan distributed bags of
food to the hungry at Manhattan's St. Francis of Assisi Church.
Ohio church offers drive-thru for Ash Wednesday
CINCINNATI (AP) - An Ohio pastor has offered drive-thru Ash
Wednesday blessings to people who wouldn't get their ash in church.
The Rev. Patricia Anderson Cook of Mt. Healthy United Methodist
Church in suburban Cincinnati said the service was for busy people
and the disabled, and for others who might be intimidated about
going inside a church.
Cook said she welcomed anyone who wanted to get right with God.
Motorists were invited to drive up and receive ashes on their
foreheads along with a blessing, a church brochure and a Lenten
The ashen cross on the forehead marks the beginning of Lent, 40
days of penance before the celebration of Easter.
Pope marks Ash Wednesday
ROME (AP) - Pope Benedict has led a solemn Ash Wednesday service
to mark the start of the Lenten season of penitence, including the
placement of ashes on the forehead of faithful.
Benedict wore purple-colored vestments as he celebrated Mass in
the Basilica of Santa Sabina, an ancient church on Rome's Aventine
Although the 84-year-old pontiff has been using a wheeled
platform to navigate the long aisle of St. Peter's Basilica, he
walked unassisted into and out of Santa Sabina.
Benedict rubbed ashes on the foreheads of some of the faithful
to symbolize mortality. In his homily, he noted that Ash Wednesday
is a "day of penitence and fasting."
Lent helps spiritually prepare Roman Catholics for Easter, which
this year falls on April 8.
NYPD INTELLIGENCE-NJ GOV
NJ gov: Report of spying on Muslims `disturbing'
PALISADES PARK, N.J. (AP) - New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is
calling a report of a police surveillance operation targeting
Muslims in Newark "disturbing." He also says he doesn't recall
ever being briefed about the spying in 2007 while he was the
state's top federal prosecutor.
Christie says he has no knowledge of the operation. And he says
the New York Police Department wouldn't have had jurisdiction in
New Jersey unless it was working with the Joint Terrorism Task
Force in Newark or another agency.
Newark's top officials say the city didn't know anything about
the nature of the NYPD operation.
The NYPD photographed mosques and eavesdropped on conversations
in businesses frequented by Muslims in Newark.
Christie told a news conference in Palisades Park that the state
attorney general is investigating the report.
Quran burning incites deadly riots in Afghanistan
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - Clashes between Afghan troops and
protesters angry over the burning of Muslim holy books at a U.S.
military base have left at least seven people dead and dozens
wounded despite U.S. apologies over what it said was a mistake.
The unrest started Tuesday when Afghan workers at the main
American military base, Bagram Air Field, saw soldiers dumping
books in a pit where garbage is burned and noticed Qurans and other
religious material among the trash.
The top U.S. and NATO commander, Gen. John Allen, quickly issued
an apology and telephoned President Hamid Karzai and major news
organizations to explain that a collection of religious materials,
including Qurans, had been mistakenly sent to be incinerated.
The country's council of Muslim clerics called the U.S apologies
insufficient and said military officials should punish those
In Kabul, about 2,000 people massed outside a heavily guarded
housing complex for foreigners, chanting "Death to America!" as
they hurled rocks at the compound's reinforced walls and set a fuel
Protesters throw eggs at Muhammad cartoonist
STOCKHOLM (AP) - Swedish police say an artist who angered
Muslims by depicting the Prophet Muhammad as a dog was pelted with
eggs during a university lecture when he presented another drawing
of Islam's revered prophet.
Lars Vilks told The Associated Press that he was not harmed in
Tuesday's attack at Karlstad University in central Sweden and that
he continued his lecture on the limits of free speech after police
evicted the protesters from the building.
Vilks, who has received numerous death threats from radical
Islamists, said about a dozen people started yelling and hurling
eggs at him when he presented a sketch showing Muhammad and
19th-century Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen at a beer
Images of Muhammad, even favorable ones, are considered
blasphemous by many Muslims.
Ruling against ultra-Orthodox Jews could spark coalition crisis
JERUSALEM (AP) - Israel's Supreme Court has overturned a law
that has helped ultra-Orthodox Jewish men avoid military service.
The ruling addresses an issue that is at the center of a
simmering cultural war between religious and secular Jews.
Antagonism toward the ultra-Orthodox has grown in recent months
over a series of incidents in which religious extremists were seen
as attempting to impose their norms on wider society - such as the
segregation of women on buses and even sidewalks.
The draft exemptions have increasingly become a touchstone issue
among Israel's secular majority, which is required to do up to
three years of compulsory military service. More than 60,000
religious men were granted exemptions last year, permitted instead
to study in seminaries while receiving welfare grants. In its
ruling, the court said it sought to divide Israel's burdens equally
among its citizens.
The decision threatens to shake up Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu's government by forcing it to deal with the issue and
come up with a new system. Both ultra-Orthodox and secular parties
sit in Netanyahu's coalition, and the ruling could force him to
Festival returns to Myanmar's Shwedagon Pagoda
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) - Thousands of people have flocked to
Myanmar's Shwedagon Pagoda to witness the return of an annual
festival that was banned for more than 20 years by the former
Gongs chimed in Yangon Wednesday as the diamond-studded monument
marked what is being billed as the 2,600-year anniversary of the
Buddha's enlightenment and of the temple itself, which according to
legend houses eight strands of Buddha's hair.
More than a tribute to Buddhism, the event was a celebration of
new freedom and the latest sign of change in long-repressed
Myanmar, which is now undergoing political reforms under a
military-backed but elected government.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)