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Only in America
October 4, 2013

A Pennsylvania pastor is facing a church trial for officiating his gay son's wedding. Although the Zion United Methodist Church's book of laws opposes gay marriage, Rev. Frank Schaefer says all people, including his son, are precious to God. Rev. Schaefer could lose his ordination credentials if the jury decides that he broke the rules of the Methodist church. Samantha Rollins

nice try
12:33 p.m. ET

It's official: You can't out-Trump the Donald.

In response to GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump releasing his competitor Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)'s personal phone number during a very on-brand speech last month, Gawker retaliated in kind by publishing the real estate mogul's own digits. But Trump is Trump, and he will take your best barbs and turn them in his favor. Behold, The Donald's new voicemail greeting, courtesy of NBC's Frank Thorp:

Your move, America. Kimberly Alters

This just in
12:30 p.m. ET
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The family of Sandra Bland, a Chicago-native who was found dead of apparent suicide in her jail cell last month, has filed a wrongful death suit against the Texas trooper, sheriff's office, and county jailers involved in her arrest, Reuters reports. The suit claims the officials violated Bland's constitutional rights and failed to provide her with medical care, although officials have claimed she was not mistreated.

Bland, 28, who was black, was arrested on July 10 by a white state trooper, Brian Encinia, after failing to signal a lane change. She was found dead with a trash bag around her neck in an apparent hanging on July 13. Jeva Lange

Fed cred
11:48 a.m. ET
Win McNamee/Getty Images

The Fed, America's central bank, has two jobs. It's supposed to maintain full employment, and keep inflation from getting out of hand. Most people interpret the latter objective as simply stopping inflation from getting too high, but the responsibility actually goes two ways. Inflation also must be kept from getting too low, because it represents a shortfall of aggregate demand, prevents quick price adjustment, and makes a liquidity trap harder to avoid. Price stability, neither too low nor too high, is the mandate. That's defined by the Fed itself as an inflation rate of 2 percent.

Economist Jared Bernstein, in a letter to Fed Chair Janet Yellen, points out that the Fed hasn't hit its inflation target for over three consecutive years — and it's actually getting worse over time:

The Fed is reportedly likely to raise interest rates — so it can get ahead of increasing inflation, supposedly — in September. It is hard to explain why. Ryan Cooper

early humanity
11:34 a.m. ET
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

At the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea, archaeologists uncovered a 10,000-year-old man-made monolith that they believe is evidence of a prehistoric civilization. The rock monument's colossal size (12 meters, or about 39 feet in height) suggests that quite a few people would have been needed to move it — something that would have been difficult if, as previously suspected, the inhabitants had been hunter-gatherers living relatively solitary lifestyles.

The find, which is actually the second of its type, has led archaeologists to suspect that civilization may have "already been shifting towards our modern way of life" earlier than previously thought, according to Evoanth. Together, the two monoliths (the other one was found in the Middle East) suggest that different groups in different parts of the world were beginning to develop a modern way of life simultaneously.

"What was it that was driving so many people, so far apart in the same direction?" asks Evoanth. We can't be sure, but it seems the scientists are one step closer to finding out. Becca Stanek

Wait... what?
11:01 a.m. ET
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Minnesota Sen. Al Franken released a letter from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Monday which sees the surveillance agency objecting to the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) on the grounds that it would give the government too much surveillance authority.

"The authorization to share cyber threat indicators and defensive measures with 'any other entity or the Federal Government,' 'notwithstanding any other provision of law,'" the DHS letter noted, "could sweep away important privacy protections." Some of the agency's other objections are more self-serving in nature, like its complaint that CISA would "increase the complexity and difficulty of a new information sharing program."

For civil liberties advocates, the problems with CISA are numerous, because the bill "allows vast amounts of personal data to be shared with the government, even that which is not necessary to identify or respond to a cybersecurity threat." More than 60 nonprofits and businesses have formed a pro-privacy coalition to oppose the passage of CISA. Bonnie Kristian

TMI
10:59 a.m. ET

We now know much more about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's sex life than we ever wanted.

The scene unfolded in a New Hampshire restaurant, with the presidential hopeful blurting to a startled crowd, "I'm a Catholic, but I've used birth control, and not just the rhythm method, okay?"

"My church has a teaching against birth control. Does that make me an awful Catholic? Because I believe, and practiced, that function during part of my life? I don't think so," Christie said. "But ya know what? I'm only going to find out when it's my time to be judged." In the foreground, a listener puts his head in his hands, while another giggles nervously in the background.

Watch the uncomfortable moment for yourself below. Jeva Lange

clinton cash
10:41 a.m. ET
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Bill Clinton was paid more than $16 million for his work in an honorary, advisory position with Laureate International Universities, the Daily Caller reports. The university is the world's largest for-profit educational outfit and is under the umbrella of Laureate Education, which also includes a nonprofit wing that received about $2 million in grants from the State Department during Hillary Clinton's tenure there.

While the multiple connections between the Clintons and Laureate were previously established by Clinton Cash author Peter Schweizer, his estimate of Bill Clinton's salary in his honorary role was far lower — in the neighborhood of $1 million — than the $16 million he actually earned for lending the school a significant degree of credibility by association.

Several Laureate schools recently came under Department of Education scrutiny for financial reasons, while Hillary Clinton has criticized for-profit schools on the campaign trail. Bonnie Kristian

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