News Briefs



Dem candidate vows to repeal tax exemption for churches supporting traditional marriage 

Beto O’Rourke, a former Texas congressman and a current candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, said last week that religious institutions, including colleges, churches and charities, should lose their tax-exempt status if they oppose same-sex marriage. O’Rourke made the remarks during an Equality Townhall hosted by CNN, saying, “There can be no reward … for anyone or any institutions that denies the full human rights and full civil rights of every single one of us.” During the same event, Sen. Cory Booker, another presidential candidate, said he would be open to the same idea. The candidates’ comments seem to contradict a 1970 Supreme Court decision that decided keeping churches tax-exempt kept government from overreaching into religion. 

California bans fur products 

California became the first state to ban fur products after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the legislation into law Oct. 11. The new law makes it illegal to sell, donate or manufacture new fur products in the state. However, the law exempts used fur and taxidermy products, as well as fur products used for religious purposes. The bill was one of many that Newsom signed that were designed to prevent animal cruelty. According to the bill, which was authored by state assemblymember Laura Friedman, people found to have violated this law will be subject to civil penalties. PETA praised the law and others accompanying it, calling it historic and saying it hopes other states will follow the example of California. The law goes into effect Jan. 1, 2023. 

Simone Biles becomes most decorated gymnast ever 

Simone Biles became the most decorated gymnast ever after winning her 24th and 25th medals at the World Gymnastics Championships in Stuttgart, Germany, on Sunday. Biles, just 22 years old, broke a record established by Belarusan Vitay Scherbo in 1996, who finished his career with 23 world medals. Biles’ performance in the world championships will reportedly be her last, according to the Washington Post. She still plans to compete in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, making her part of a select group of female gymnasts to have their careers last two Olympic cycles. Her feat of world medals makes her the most prolific gymnast, male or female.


Five people canonized by Pope Francis 

Pope Francis proclaimed five new saints during a ceremony in St. Peter’s Basilica Oct. 13, including the great English saint, Cardinal John Henry Newman. In addition to Newman, four women were canonized: Dulce Lopes Pontes, a member of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception and Brazil’s second native-born saint; Marguerite Bays, a Swiss laywoman who received the stigmata; Mariam Thresia Chiramel Mankidiyan, another stigmatic who founded the Sisters of the Holy Family; and Josephine Vannini, co-founder of the Daughters of St. Camillus. Newman was the headliner of the group, given his prominent role as a convert from Anglicanism, and Prince Charles represented Britons at the canonizations. During his homily at the canonization Mass, Pope Francis lauded the “kindly lights” that were the saints’ lives. 

Hundreds of migrants placed into Mexican detention facility 

Hundreds of migrants were stopped by National Guard agents and police Oct. 12 as they approached the U.S. border and were sent to a migrant detention facility in southern Mexico. The migrants, who were primarily from Africa, the Caribbean and Central America, were stopped just before dusk after walking more than 20 miles north from Tapachula, the city where they started their trip. According to the Associated Press, the crackdown on the caravan was evidence of a crackdown in Mexico’s immigration policy after increased pressure from the United States to take tougher stances on migrants moving toward the United States. Mexico’s National Migration Institute, which supervises migration in the country, said the migrants would be “treated in a personalized matter” and that some would be returned to their countries of origin. 

More than 30 dead from Japanese typhoon 

At least 33 people are dead after Typhoon Hagibis made landfall south of Tokyo Oct. 12. According to public broadcaster NHK, 14 rivers in Japan had flooded, some of which had spilled out in more than one spot. A report from the country’s Fire and Disaster Management Agency, 1,283 homes were flooded. More than 500 of those homes were damaged. Tens of thousands of people sought refuge in coastal towns, and Kyodo News agency said more than 6 million people received evacuation warnings. By Oct. 12, the typhoon had been downgraded to a tropical storm, but a government spokesman said eastern Japan still suffered immense damage as a result of the typhoon. Despite the damage and loss of electricity in many areas, several train services in the Tokyo area have resumed, and other stores and business have resumed work.