The world at a glance . . . United States
Sioux City, Iowa
Palin on tour: Sarah Palin’s book tour this week moved into Iowa, a traditional early campaign stop for White House hopefuls, ratcheting up speculation about her political aspirations. Fans began gathering outside a Sioux City Barnes & Noble at 3 a.m. on Sunday; by the time she arrived that afternoon, hundreds were lined up for her to sign copies of her memoir, Going Rogue. Palin did not rule out a presidential run, perhaps even as an independent. “There’s not going to be a need for a third party,” she told one interviewer, “but I’ll play that by ear in these coming months.” Speaking with a conservative radio host, Palin said it was “fair game” to question President Obama’s citizenship. She later appeared to distance herself from the “birthers,” saying she has never “suggested that he was not born in the United States.”
Lesbian bishop: The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles has elected the second openly gay bishop in the global Anglican Communion, deepening a schism among its 77 million members. Church leaders chose the Rev. Canon Mary Glasspool of Baltimore as a suffragan, or assistant, bishop; she has been in a lesbian relationship since 1988. After the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire became the Episcopalians’ first gay bishop, in 2003, dozens of conservative parishes and four dioceses left the church. The selection of Glasspool is expected to intensify the rift. “Is there anything that can be done to bridge it?” asked the Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence, bishop for South Carolina, who objects to the consecration of gays as bishops on the grounds that it’s against scripture. “No one has come up with it yet.”
Housing terrorists: A largely unused $145 million prison will likely become the new home for scores of suspected terrorists now detained at the U.S. naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The Thomson Correctional Center, about 150 miles west of Chicago, is the leading contender among several sites the Obama administration is considering for the inmates when Guantánamo is eventually closed, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn said this week. The White House recently briefed members of Illinois’ congressional delegation about the possible government purchase of the site. Several local Republican lawmakers oppose the move, raising security concerns. But Thomson Village board president Jerry Hebeler said, “Everyone around here thinks it’s a done deal.”
Mumbai suspect charged: A U.S. citizen has been charged with helping to plan the 2008 terrorist attacks that killed 163 people in Mumbai. David Headley, 49, was first arrested in October on charges that he plotted to attack the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in 2005 after it published cartoons that satirized the Prophet Mohammed, outraging much of the Muslim world. Headley reportedly has been cooperating with authorities, who now say he made five trips to Mumbai from 2006 to 2008 at the behest of the Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba to identify potential targets. Headley, born Daood Gilani in Washington, D.C., is the son of a former Pakistani diplomat and an American mother from Philadelphia.
No chimp-attack charges: The owner of a 200-pound chimpanzee that mauled and blinded a woman in February will not face criminal charges, authorities have decided. Prosecutors said that there was no evidence that Sandra Herold “recklessly ignored” any risk posed by her pet chimp Travis; the animal attacked Herold’s friend, Charla Nash, who was attempting to lure Travis back into Herold’s house after he had escaped. Travis ripped off Nash’s hands, lips, nose, and eyelids, before he was shot to death by police. Nash said through a lawyer that she is “at peace” with the prosecutors’ decision, though she has sued Herold for $50 million and plans to sue Connecticut for $150 million.
Succeeding Kennedy: Massachusetts voters this week chose the Democratic and Republican nominees for the Senate seat of the late Edward M. Kennedy, who died in August after serving almost 47 years, the fourth-longest term in Senate history. State Attorney General Martha Coakley, the Democrat, will face GOP state Sen. Scott Brown in a special election Jan. 19. This week’s off-season primaries, in which only about 600,000 of the 4.1 million eligible voters cast ballots, marked the first time since 1984 that Massachusetts residents voted in a Senate race with no incumbent. Coakley enters the short general election campaign with a distinct advantage: Only 11 percent of Massachusetts’ registered voters are Republican, and the state has not elected a GOP senator since 1972.