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United States

Anaheim, Calif.

Church splits on gays: The war over homosexuality in the Episcopal Church flared again this week, after clergy and lay leaders at the denomination’s general convention voted to open “any ordained ministry” to gay men and lesbians. The move reverses the ban on ordaining gay bishops adopted three years ago. Since 2003, when the Diocese of New Hampshire ordained an openly gay man as bishop, several parishes have seceded from the Episcopal Church and affiliated themselves with a conservative African bishop. Some delegates voiced worries that the new policy would deepen the split in the church. The Rev. Ralph Stanwise of Quincy, Ill., said the resolution essentially encouraged conservative and moderate Episcopalians “to search for the exit signs.”

Las Vegas

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Senator’s parents helped: Republican Sen. John Ensign said this week he would seek re-election in 2012, despite new questions about payments made to the family of the woman with whom he was carrying on an extramarital affair. Ensign, 51, admitted last week that his parents paid $96,000 to the family of his ex-mistress, Cynthia Hampton, a former campaign staffer. She and her husband, Doug Hampton, formerly a top Ensign aide, both left Ensign’s employ in 2008, around the time Ensign’s father, a wealthy casino owner, made the payment. Watchdog groups are demanding an inquiry into whether the payments amounted to hush money. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell refused to say whether he still supports Ensign, remarking, “I think Sen. Ensign will have to speak to those issues himself.”


Terror charges unveiled: Two Somali-born Americans face federal charges of aiding terrorists, after they trained with an al Qaida affiliate in Sudan. The indictments were the first public step in an investigation of more than 20 Americans suspected of joining al Shabab, a militant Islamist group tied to al Qaida. The investigation was launched after a Minneapolis resident, Somali-born Shirwa Ahmed, died in his native country last year while carrying out a suicide bombing. Friends of one of the indicted men, Salah Ahmed, 26, said that he had become disillusioned with al Shabab during training exercises. “It wasn’t for him,” the friend said. “He didn’t fit in.” Ahmed and his co-defendant, Abdifatah Isse, 25, returned to the U.S. this year and are in federal custody.


Guns in bars: Gun owners with concealed-weapons permits can now bring their guns into bars and restaurants, thanks to legislation signed this week by Gov. Jan Brewer. The bill allows bar patrons to carry concealed weapons if they have no criminal record and received safety training. Supporters of the new law called it a safety measure. “Any time law-abiding gun owners can carry firearms into more places, the safer the public is,” said Todd Rathner of the National Rifle Association. Democratic state Sen. Ken Cheuvront, who owns a Phoenix wine bar, disagreed. “All I know is that guns and liquor do not mix,” he said.

Huntingdon Valley, Pa.

Black kids invited back: A private swim club that had barred 65 black and Hispanic children from its pool has reversed its decision after a national outcry. The children attend a Philadelphia summer day camp that had contracted with the predominantly white Valley Club to use its pool. But after the kids showed up for their first outing, in late June, several members complained, and the club abruptly canceled the arrangement. After refunding the camp’s $1,950 fee, club President John Duesler explained in an interview that the campers “would change the complexion” of the club—a word choice that added to perceptions that the move was racially motivated. After the club was barraged with protests, it reversed course this week. Club officials denied charges of racism, saying their only concern was safety.

Charleston, W.Va.

Damaged plane lands safely: A Southwest Airlines plane with a football-size hole in its rear cabin made an emergency landing in Charleston this week, leaving its 131 passengers and crew shaken but unhurt. “We were seated about two rows back from the wing, and four rows back you heard this loud rush and your ears popped,” said Sheryl Bryant, a passenger aboard the Boeing 737-300, which was en route to Baltimore from Nashville. Aviation experts said the plane’s design prevented the hole from expanding and causing a catastrophic loss of air pressure. Southwest subsequently inspected all 181 of its 737-300s and reported finding no structural problems. The cause of the damage is under investigation.

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