For the second year in a row the state of South Carolina has sponsored a Second Amendment Weekend—popularly called “the extrava-gun-za.” For two days over the Thanksgiving weekend shoppers can buy handguns, rifles and shotguns—but not ammunition and accessories—without paying the state’s 9 percent sales tax.
By the time this issue of the magazine is in your hands, the fate of health-care reform may have been decided by Congress. The legislative process, like the proverbial production of sausage, is not neat or pretty. If a bill passes, it will not be all the Obama administration hoped for and it will be a lot more than the Republican opposition wants.
In early December, as President Obama was announcing that he was sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, Greg Mortenson was releasing his book Stones into Schools, a followup to his 2006 best-seller Three Cups of Tea. Mortenson has logged more months in remote parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan than almost any other Westerner.
For many American Christians, the religious experience of modern Western Europe offers a dire warning. European church membership has been in free fall for a generation. Each new survey shows ever-growing numbers willing to proclaim themselves totally nonreligious.
President Obama goes to the Copenhagen conference on climate change this month in a weak position, unable to point to any significant U.S. plan for cutting carbon emissions. Though the U.S. has the highest per capita emissions in the world, it has yet to commit itself to cutting the volume of heat-trapping gases that cause global warming. The issue remains on the political back burner.
Teens are behaving better than at any time since the federal government began collecting data, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control on the health of the nation. The teen birth rate, at an all-time low, has plummeted in recent decades. One reason may be that fewer teens are having unprotected sex. High school seniors are consuming less alcohol and smoking less, and hardly any of them use cocaine. While young adults are also exercising more than in previous decades, less than half of youth ages 12–15 are physically fit (Vox.com, May 25, and NPR, May 28).