Only in America
February 2, 2013

Veganism may count as a religion, a federal court has ruled. Sakile Chenzira, a strict vegan, was fired from her job at a Cincinnati hospital because she refused a flu shot that's produced using chicken eggs. A court ruled that her discrimination lawsuit may proceed, since her veganism has "a sincerity equating that of traditional religious views." The Week Staff

campaign 2016
11:20 p.m. ET
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Donald Trump received loud cheers when he told a crowd in Las Vegas Thursday that Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl "should have been executed" for leaving his post in southeastern Afghanistan.

"We're tired of Sgt. Bergdahl, who's a traitor, a no-good traitor," he told an audience of more than 1,500 people at the Treasure Island hotel-casino. "Thirty years ago, he would have been shot."

Bergdahl has been accused of leaving his post in Afghanistan in July 2009, and was charged in March with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy; he was a prisoner of the Taliban for five years, and was ultimately released in an exchange for five Taliban commanders in U.S. custody. A hearing was held in his case earlier this month, and Bergdahl's attorney, Eugene Fidell, said in a statement Trump "has become a broken record on this subject. If he took the time to study what actually emerged at the preliminary hearing he would be singing a different tune."

During his hour-long speech, Trump also took credit for Kevin McCarthy dropping out of the House speaker's race and brought a woman onstage who said she was a legal Colombian immigrant who planned to vote for Trump, her "No. 1 person in the United States." Catherine Garcia

10:18 p.m. ET
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He served as Speaker of the House from 1995 to 1999, and Newt Gingrich said he's willing to do it again — if begged.

"If you were to say to me 218 have called you up and given you their pledge, obviously no citizen could ever turn down that kind of challenge," he said Thursday on Sean Hannity's radio show, after Hannity pressed the issue of a potential return. He also likened himself to a modern-day version of our first president: "This is why George Washington came out of retirement," he said. "Because there are moments you can't avoid."

Gingrich, who resigned from his speaker post following an ethics violation, made his remarks hours after House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced he was dropping his bid to replace outgoing Speaker John Boehner. Gingrich said it's more likely he will instead offer guidance to the Republican conference as a consultant. "It would be more practical" to meet with GOP members "and try to help them think this through," he said. "I think this is a conference-wide problem." There's a Clinton running for president and a Bush running for president, so why not bring Gingrich back for a complete '90s takeover. Catherine Garcia

9:07 p.m. ET

The city of North Charleston, South Carolina, has reached a $6.5 million settlement with the family of Walter Scott, a black man who was shot and killed by a white police officer in April.

The settlement was approved Thursday by the city council, USA Today reports. A bystander captured on video Officer Michael Slager shooting Scott, 50, in the back as he ran away after being pulled over in his car. Scott died at the scene, and Slager was arrested and charged with murder after the footage was released. North Charleston Mayor R. Keith Summey said that since the shooting, police officers have been outfitted with body cameras. "As a result of this tragedy, important issues have been discussed not only in North Charleston, but around the country," Summey said. "Citizens have become engaged in the process and government officials are listening." Catherine Garcia

it's not always about you donald
8:32 p.m. ET
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You may think you know why Kevin McCarthy dropped his bid to become House speaker, but Donald Trump is here to tell you it's all because of him.

During a campaign event in Las Vegas on Thursday, Trump announced: "They're giving me a lot of credit for that because I said you really need someone very, very tough and very smart. You know, smart goes with tough. I know tough people that aren't smart. That's the worst. We need smart, we need tough, we need the whole package."

Last week during an appearance on Morning Joe, the Republican presidential candidate said he didn't know if McCarthy was "someone that's very tough and that can negotiate with the Democrats." The position, he added, needs to go to somebody "that's a very, very tough, smart, cunning person." Catherine Garcia

death penalty
7:37 p.m. ET
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Officials with the Oklahoma Corrections Department used bottles labeled potassium acetate during an execution in January, violating protocol, state records show.

Convicted killer Charles Frederick Warner was given a lethal injection on Jan. 15, and officials were supposed to use potassium chloride to stop his heart, The Oklahoman reports. On Sept. 30, officials received the same incorrect drug ahead of convicted murderer Richard Glossip's scheduled lethal injection, and a stay was granted by Gov. Mary Fallin (R) after the mix-up was discovered.

An investigation was launched by Attorney General Scott Pruitt (R) into Glossip's scheduled execution, and he confirmed on Wednesday it will also look into drug mistakes. "I want to assure the public that our investigation will be full, fair, and complete and includes not only actions on Sept. 30, but any and all actions prior, relevant to the use of potassium acetate and potassium chloride," he said. Fallin said Wednesday that "until we have complete confidence in the system, we will delay any further executions." Catherine Garcia

6:47 p.m. ET

Paul Prudhomme, the influential Louisiana chef who made Cajun and Creole cooking popular across the country, died Thursday. He was 75.

Born in 1940 near Opelousas, Louisiana, Prudhomme was the 13th child in his family, and started cooking at the age of seven in a kitchen without electricity. Prudhomme opened his first restaurant at the age of 17, Big Daddy O's Patio, outside of Opelousas, Louisiana, and in 1975 became the first non-European chef at Commander's Palace in New Orleans. He introduced Cajun food there, which, says, was "almost unheard of in New Orleans at the time." In 1979, he opened K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen along with his future wife, K Hinrichs, and patrons would wait hours for his blackened redfish and sweet potato pecan pie.

Prudhomme's popularity spread across the country as food writers began to come to New Orleans to pay him a visit. He wrote numerous cookbooks, including Chef Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen, opened pop-up restaurants in New York City and San Francisco, gave a demonstration at the Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris, and started Magic Seasonings Blends, sold in all 50 states and 30 countries. Food writer Craig Claiborne said in 1988 that Prudhomme "has had the greatest influence on American cooking, in cultivating the public interest in American food, of anybody I know. ... People said, 'There must be more to Southern cooking,' and he opened up the floodgates to the whole field of Southern cooking." He is survived by wife Lori Prudhomme. His first wife, K Hinrichs, died in 1992. Catherine Garcia

Should you stay or should you go
4:22 p.m. ET
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House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) saw numerous signs that becoming speaker of the House just wasn't meant to be. There was the Benghazi gaffe about Hillary Clinton and the impossible demands of the House Freedom Caucus. But perhaps his biggest red flag was the comment from "a lot of friends that were really supportive that said, 'Why do you want to do it during this time? This time will be the worst time. They're going to eat you and chew you up,'" McCarthy recounted in an interview with Politico, shortly after he abruptly announced Thursday that he was dropping out of the speakership race.

Although many thought McCarthy could gather the requisite 218 votes to become speaker, he knew that he "was never going to be able to get 247," he said, referring to the total tally of Republicans in the House. And, Politico reports, he wondered if he could be an effective speaker with "essentially the bare minimum" of support.

McCarthy said he wasn't so sure. "The conference is an odd place," McCarthy said. "Sometimes you gotta hit the bottom to be able to come back. This gives us a real fresh start — a new start gives a fresh start. Having a fresh face brings the conference together."

Read the full story over at Politico. Becca Stanek

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