March 6, 2014

Pope Francis is popular among American Catholics, with 83 percent of them viewing him favorably — including 51 percent who have a "very favorable opinion" — according to a Pew poll released Thursday. Sixty-eight percent of U.S. Catholics said that a year into his papacy, Francis represents a major, positive change for the Catholic Church (2 percent said a major, negative change). But there appears to be little of the "Francis effect" in American churches: While a quarter of Catholics are more excited about their faith and 40 percent have been praying more often, the same 40 percent said they are going to mass each week (and some 42 percent at least once a year) as before Francis was elected.

Pope Francis also seems to inspire hope that the Catholic Church will change on some major issues, Pew found, despite the pope's suggestions otherwise. American Catholics, it turns out, are a fairly liberal bunch: 77 percent want the church to allow contraception, 73 percent support priests getting married, 68 percent support the ordination of women priests, and 50 percent want Rome to recognize same-sex marriages. Those numbers all drop slightly when Pew screened for weekly church attendance. Not that you'd want to take those numbers to the bank: Pew talked to a grand total of 351 Catholics for the survey — the size of a small parish. Peter Weber

1:05 p.m. ET

Republican Donald Trump gave a wide-ranging speech in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on Saturday outlining his plans for his first 100 days in office if elected president. Touted by his staff in advance of the event as a "very specific, detailed vision" for "economic and physical security," the speech largely took a list format as Trump outlined legislation and executive policies he intends to implement.

Among other points, he offered six proposals for cleaning up Washington corruption, seven ways to protect American workers, and five actions to restore rule of law. Trump promised to end outsourcing with tariffs and other "consequences" to ensure "our companies will stop leaving the United States and going to other countries."

He reiterated his intention to build a border wall at Mexico's expense, and described legislation to reduce violent crime, eliminate the defense sequester, expand military spending, increase health care options for veterans, and screen would-be immigrants and refugees because "we want people that can love us."

If Trump is elected and "we follow these steps," he concluded, "we will once more have a government of, by, and for the people, and — importantly — we will make America great again." Watch the full speech below. Bonnie Kristian

12:29 p.m. ET
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A North Carolina judge named Arnold O. Jones II was convicted Friday on three felony charges for attempting to bribe a federal agent with two cases of Bud Light beer. The jurors on the case deliberated for less than an hour before reaching a verdict.

Jones wanted the agent, Matthew Miller, to get him copies of text messages exchanged between his wife and another man. Miller, a local sheriff's deputy who is also on an FBI task force, could not legally obtain such records without a warrant from a federal magistrate judge, but Jones — who, again, is himself a judge — said Miller never told him a warrant was necessary.

Miller and Jones reportedly met to discuss the logistics of Jones' request, during which the judge offered the deputy "a couple of cases of beer" for his help. The beer payment was later replaced by $100 in cash, which would buy about five cases of Bud Light.

Despite his conviction, Jones is actively running for reelection to his judgeship in November. Bonnie Kristian

12:14 p.m. ET
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Libyan fighters announced Saturday they have freed 13 foreign captives held by the Islamic State — 11 from Eritrea and one each from Turkey and Egypt — in the seaside city of Sirte, which has long been the center of ISIS activity in Libya.

The pro-government Libyan forces have been fighting to take Sirte for six months with the assistance of American air strikes. Libya's fate will not be determined even if ISIS is eradicated in the North African country, as a diversity of rival factions will still compete for power in the vacuum left by the removal of strongman Moammar Gadhafi.

In the meantime, Libya remains a departure point for thousands of migrants fleeing violence for the refuge of Europe. On Friday and Saturday, rescue workers based out of Italy saved more than 3,300 migrants off the coast of Libya, many attempting to make the Mediterranean crossing in flimsy rubber boats. An unknown number of migrants also drowned. Bonnie Kristian

11:41 a.m. ET
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You've probably seen them in your Facebook feed: the amusing sentences your friends got their smartphones to "write" simply by selecting the middle of three suggested words in their phone's autocomplete function over and over. The results rarely make much sense.

But that didn't stop an academic paper written entirely via iPhone autocomplete from being accepted by a scientific conference just three hours after submission. A New Zealand professor named Christoph Bartneck received an invitation to submit a paper to a nuclear physics gathering, but he's not a physicist. So instead he wrote an entire "study" using text predictions on his iPhone. He'd begin a sentence with a word like "atomic" or "nuclear" and let iOS take it from there.

"The atoms of a better universe will have the right for the same as you are the way we shall have to be a great place for a great time to enjoy the day you are a wonderful person to your great time to take the fun and take a great time and enjoy the great day you will be a wonderful time for your parents and kids," his abstract said. Bartneck suspects the conference is not of high academic caliber and will not attend. Bonnie Kristian

11:17 a.m. ET

Speaking at a campaign rally in Fletcher, North Carolina, Friday afternoon, Donald Trump complained about Hillary Clinton's extensive negative ads against him, which he says are full of lies and yet raising the Clinton campaign "billions of dollars." (Counting PAC money, which is legally separate from the official campaign, Clinton has raised just over $1 billion to Trump's $700 million.)

He also chafed at his staff's messaging recommendations, and described his affection for denial. "I won't go into things because my people go crazy," Trump said. "They say, 'Don't be particular, just' — I like to deny things. Like, I like to deny — because — but they say, 'Oh, talk about jobs.' But these things [in Clinton's ads] are so false. All of these things, they're so false. They're such lies."

With "Hillary, it’s ad after ad after ad — all paid for by Wall Street and special interests," Trump added, predicting he will win Florida despite Clinton's ad saturation in the state. Watch Trump's comments below. Bonnie Kristian

10:59 a.m. ET
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The two Minneapolis, Minnesota, police officers responsible for the fatal shooting of Jamar Clark followed proper procedure and will not face disciplinary action, the Minneapolis police department chief said Friday.

An internal investigation ruled the officers were in the right when they used deadly force against the 24-year-old black man this past November. "We're disappointed, of course," said the Clark family attorney, Albert Goins. "But we're somewhat flabbergasted by that because I know the standard is fairly low to have…an officer incur discipline."

The circumstances of Clark's death were much debated and the subject of Black Lives Matter protests last fall. The officers were attempting to arrest Clark for interfering with paramedics' treatment of a woman, at which point one of the cops says Clark tried to take and use his gun, provoking the officers' escalation as a means of self defense. Bonnie Kristian

10:21 a.m. ET
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Islamic State militants rounded up and murdered 284 men and boys on Thursday and Friday in Mosul, Iraq, an intelligence source told CNN, as Iraqi and American forces continue to make their approach to retake the town. Mosul is the last major city ISIS controls in Iraq, and those killed in this mass slaughter were previously used as human shields by ISIS terrorists attempting to retain territory in the area. CNN's source says all the victims were shot and buried in a mass grave at a former university.

On Saturday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter made an unannounced visit to Iraq to monitor Mosul's progress. Carter's trip marks the sixth day of the campaign and includes plans to meet with Iraqi officials to assess the situation.

In better news greeting the secretary on the ground, Iraqi forces on Saturday successfully reclaimed a village outside Mosul that is predominantly populated by Iraq's persecuted Christian minority. The village was under ISIS control since 2014.

For more on the Mosul campaign, read the The Week's rundown of everything you need to know. Bonnie Kristian

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