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March 17, 2013

The widow of an Indiana man is suing a Catholic church that wouldn't allow his couch-shaped headstone in its graveyard. Shannon Carr says her husband loved nothing more than to sit on his couch watching NASCAR and football. The Rev. Jonathan Meyer, however, said the granite couch was not "an appropriate monument in our historic cemetery." The Week Staff

3:55 p.m. ET
MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

On Thursday, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) announced his intent to join the lawsuit filed by several states against the Obama administration's transgender bathroom directive, Reuters reports. Officials from 11 states filed a suit Wednesday in Texas against the administration over its stipulation that transgender students be allowed to use bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity rather than biological sex. "Our office has talked to the Texas attorney general's office and I intend, as soon as possible, to join the lawsuit against this latest example of federal overreach," Bryant said in a statement. Mississippi's Democratic attorney general Jim Hood has decided not to participate in the lawsuit, Reuters notes.

The lawsuit, filed in Wichita, Texas, specifically accuses the Obama administration of trying to "turn workplace and educational settings across the country into laboratories for a massive social experiment." The states that have currently signed on to Texas' lawsuit are Oklahoma, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Louisiana, West Virginia, Utah, and Wisconsin, as well as Arizona's Department of Education and Maine's governor. Becca Stanek

3:13 p.m. ET
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Vince Foster's sister is none too pleased about the rumors that Donald Trump is resurfacing about her brother, a former White House deputy counsel during the Clinton administration. In an op-ed published Thursday in The Washington Post, Sheila Foster Anthony railed against Trump for suggesting that her brother's death was not a suicide, but rather a murder, and for saying that Hillary Clinton may have been involved in said murder because Foster "knew everything that was going on."

She then set the record straight in what marks the first time she's publicly spoken out about the tragedy:

This is scurrilous enough coming from right-wing political operatives who have peddled conspiracy theories about Vince's death for more than two decades. How could this be coming from the presumptive Republican nominee for president?

Five investigations, including by independent counsels Robert B. Fiske Jr. and Kenneth Starr, concluded that Vince suffered from severe depression that caused him to be unable to sleep, unable to work, unable to think straight, and finally to take his own life.

I know this to be true. [Sheila Foster Anthony, via The Washington Post]

Anthony wrote that while she "did not see a suicide coming," when she heard that her brother had died she "knew" that he'd committed suicide. "Never for a minute have I doubted that was what happened," she wrote. Because of that certainty, she said, she cannot let "such craven behavior" as Trump's "pass without a response."

Read the entirety of her response over at The Washington Post. Becca Stanek

2:26 p.m. ET
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Chinese developers might have just single-handedly solved both the country's traffic and air pollution problems with their latest invention. The country's state news agency, Xinhua, reported Thursday that developers have come up with a bus called the Transit Explore Bus, which is elevated off the ground so that cars can drive underneath it. The bus would glide along on rails straddling two lanes of traffic, offer enough space for cars less than two meters high to pass underneath it, and be able to travel at speeds up to about 37 miles per hour.

While the bus is still in the planning stages, developers say it could cut down big time on traffic and, subsequently, the country's increasingly worrisome air pollution problem. One of the project's lead engineers, Song Youzhou, estimates this project would cost just 16 percent of the theoretical cost of an entirely new subway, and that construction of the bus would be much quicker than other alternatives. Youzhou says the bus would be powered by electricity and could replace as many as 40 regular buses, thanks to its carrying capacity of up to 1,400 passengers.

The first bus is set to be tested at the end of July or in August outside of China's Qinhuangdao City. Becca Stanek

2:26 p.m. ET

In case there was any question that this is Trump's world and we're just living in it:

Clinton, meanwhile, is in Las Vegas discussing her plans to raise incomes for working families. Jeva Lange

2:03 p.m. ET
Jemal Countess/Getty Images

Ultraconservative Saudi cleric Saleh bin Fawzan al-Fawzan was recently shocked to learn that people take pictures with their cats, The Washington Post reports. Fawzan was then forced to clarify for his audience that, according to hard-line Islamic codes, cat selfies are strictly forbidden.

A member of the Saudi Council of Senior Scholars, Fawzan appeared on a television program in April that was recently translated into English by the Middle East Media Research Center. At one point in the appearance, someone off-screen tells the cleric that "taking pictures with cats has been spreading among people who want to be like the Westerners."

The cleric apparently can't believe his ears. "They are taking pictures with them," the person is forced to repeat.

Fawzan then stresses that such selfies are "prohibited," although "the cats here don't matter."

"Taking pictures is prohibited if not for a necessity, not with cats, not with dogs, not with wolves, not with anything," Fawzan says, citing a view held by some hard-line Islamic scholars who believe photos violate rules against depicting human or animal images.

However, it is not a view held by many in Saudi Arabia — in fact, ordinary Saudis take cat selfies a-plenty, just like anyone elsewhere. Jeva Lange

1:05 p.m. ET
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Baylor University fired head football coach Art Briles on Thursday as the program faces ongoing scrutiny following multiple allegations of assault and sexual assault. University President Ken Starr has also been removed, with the school announcing he will "transition to role of Chancellor."

Briles has been with Baylor for eight seasons, racking up a 65-37 record. However, the football program was engulfed in scandal when former Baylor student Jasmin Hernandez filed a lawsuit against Baylor alleging the university did not properly handle her 2012 report of rape by then-Baylor football team member Tevin Elliott. Elliot was later convicted, and is now serving a 20-year sentence. Two other former Baylor students also came forward during the trial to testify that they had been raped by Elliot.

In August 2014, another Baylor football player, Sam Ukwuachu, was found guilty of sexually assaulting a woman in 2013. Just last month, Shawn Oakman, also on the football team, was arrested on the suspicion of raping a woman although he has said the encounter was consensual. Additional allegations against Baylor football players have been revealed by Waco, Texas, police in the past week.

Law firm Pepper Hamilton was hired in September to look at the school's treatment of the sexual assault allegations, and reportedly presented its findings to the board of regents earlier in May. "We were horrified by the extent of these acts of sexual violence on our campus," regents chairman Richard Willis said in a statement. "This investigation revealed the University's mishandling of reports in what should have been a supportive, responsive, and caring environment for students. The depth to which these acts occurred shocked and outraged us." Jeva Lange

11:41 a.m. ET
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Ohio is poised to become the first state in the U.S. that actually might make its voters pay out of their own pockets to extend voting hours. On Wednesday, lawmakers approved a bill that would require voters to post a cash bond if they want polling hours extended past the normal cutoff time. Typically, voters submit these sorts of requests to the court if some unforeseen emergency — be it a natural disaster or a power outage — interrupts voting during scheduled hours.

Ohio State Sen. Bill Seitz (R) says the new bill would help cover the costs of keeping polls open later than normal. "Sadly, in both the November 2015 and March 2016 elections, rogue courts in Hamilton County issued orders extending polling hours," Seitz wrote in an op-ed this week. "These orders cost Hamilton County taxpayers $57,000, and forced the inside poll workers to stay around for an extra 60 to 90 minutes after already working a 14-hour day."

Those opposed to the bill argue the extensions weren't exactly requested without reason, however. In November 2015, a software glitch in newly installed systems caused some voters to be turned away without casting a ballot, while in March 2016, a car accident blocked off a main thoroughfare and left many voters stranded on the road during election day. "I think it's unconstitutional," Ohio State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D) told Think Progress about the bond bill. "It's tantamount to a poll tax to require voters to post a cash bond, and we really need to have the ability to petition state or federal courts if there is some type of emergency necessitating the extension of polling hours."

The bill will next move to Ohio Gov. John Kasich's (R) desk, where he'll decide whether to sign it into law. Becca Stanek

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