A federal judge in California has ruled that the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional, deciding a case that had been refiled by an atheist whose previous challenge to the phrase “under God” reached the Supreme Court.
Israel ended its 38-year occupation of the Gaza Strip following one last difficult decision. Israeli government officials decided at the last moment not to go ahead with the destruction of 19 synagogues in the coastal strip.
In what may be the beginning of a national split over homosexuality, leaders in a regional group of the American Baptist Churches USA have voted to begin leaving the denomination by the end of this year.
Rising tides: Environmentalist (and Century editor at large) Bill McKibben reports that according to one prediction up to 150 million people worldwide could become “environmental refugees” by the year 2050 because of rising waters. There is evidence “that tropical storms are lasting half again as long, and spinning winds 50 percent more powerful, than just a few decades ago. The only plausible cause: the ever-warmer tropical seas on which these storms thrive” (Newsday, Sept. 14).
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As Americans set new records for charitable giving in response to Hurricane Katrina, some fund-raisers are seeing a principle confirmed: when the sufferers are perceived as innocent victims, donors respond generously.