The week at a glance ... United States
Pedophile manual withdrawn: Amazon.com last week pulled an e-book titled The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure from its virtual shelves—but not before it briefly became a top seller. The self-published book, by Phillip R. Greaves II, included tips for “safe sex” with children. In an interview on the Today show, Greaves complained that pedophiles are wrongly depicted as “murderers, rapists, or kidnappers.” The book, available through the Kindle reader, had sold only one copy when outraged comments about it began appearing on Internet message boards. Amazon initially defended its sale of the book on free-speech grounds, but changed course as public opposition mounted. The book’s Amazon sales rank rose from 158,221st to 65th before it was withdrawn.
Civil-rights shooting case closed: James Fowler, a 77-year-old retired Alabama state trooper, pleaded guilty this week to the 1965 killing of Jimmie Lee Jackson, a death that set off historic civil-rights marches in Selma and Montgomery. Fowler will serve six months in prison for second-degree manslaughter for the shooting, which took place after a protest in Marion erupted in a riot. Witnesses said Jackson, 26, was trying to protect his mother and grandfather from being beaten when he was shot in the stomach. Fowler confessed in a 2004 newspaper interview to shooting Jackson in self-defense, saying he believed Jackson was trying to grab his pistol. “I was coming over here to save lives,” he said after entering his plea. “I didn’t mean to take lives.”
Pelosi prevails: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week was re-elected Democratic leader in the House, where her party will soon be adjusting to its new minority status in the wake of this month’s midterm election. Pelosi won the party vote 150 to 43, defeating moderate “Blue Dog” Democrat Heath Shuler of North Carolina. The lopsided tally belies the turmoil within the Democratic ranks about retaining Pelosi. Schuler, whose candidacy was backed by other Blue Dogs, did not aggressively campaign for the post. In a prior vote, 68 Democrats moved to delay the vote for minority leader in order to give Pelosi critics more time to mount a challenge. When the new Congress meets in January, Pelosi will be switching roles with Republican Minority Leader John Boehner, who has been chosen by GOP members this week to be the next speaker of the House.
No trial soon for 9/11 terrorist: Federal officials told The Washington Post this week that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who has confessed to planning the 9/11 attacks, is unlikely to be tried before the presidential election in 2012. Attorney General Eric Holder had said last week that a decision was imminent on a venue for trying Mohammed and other accused 9/11 plotters. The Justice Department previously had abandoned a plan to try Mohammed at a Manhattan federal courthouse, citing security costs and opposition from lawmakers. Meantime, Mohammed remains at the U.S. prison in Guantánamo Bay, where the administration says he is incarcerated under the laws of war. Despite the White House’s original plan to close the prison, “Gitmo is going to remain open for the foreseeable future,” said a U.S. official.
Exorcists wanted: With demand for exorcisms high and only a handful of American priests qualified to perform them, the Catholic Church last week held a two-day training session on the ancient rite. The training, attended by some 50 bishops and more than 60 priests, included instruction on the scriptural basis of evil, how to evaluate whether someone is truly possessed—a “violent reaction to holy water” is one symptom—and exorcism prayers and rituals. While exorcisms remain rare in the U.S., priests receive hundreds of requests annually from people seeking to banish evil spirits. “The work of the devil is much more regular and our response to that should be rather regular,” said Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Ill., who organized the conference.
Rangel guilty: A House ethics committee this week ruled that New York Rep. Charles Rangel had brought dishonor on the House by improperly soliciting donations for a nonprofit center named in his honor and by failing to report income to the IRS. Rangel, who has represented his Harlem district for 40 years, walked out of the ethics hearing in protest before the decision. “I am not being treated fairly,” Rangel said. The committee found him guilty of all but one of 13 ethics charges. Rangel, 80, had stepped down from the chairmanship of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee in March after press reports revealed he improperly leased four rent-stabilized Manhattan apartments and hadn’t paid taxes on rental income from a villa in the Dominican Republic. Rangel likely faces formal censure or an official reprimand by the House.