Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Boston Federal Courthouse Evacuated, No Arrests Made in Bombings Case
- Texas Fertilizer Plant Explosion Kills 5 to 15 People
- Senate Rejects Gun Control Measure
- Boston Marathon Good Samaritan Motivated by Faith
- Hobby Lobby Increases Minimum Wage for Workers
Boston Federal Courthouse Evacuated, No Arrests Made in Bombings Case
Although earlier reports indicated an arrest was imminent in the Boston Marathon bombings, none such have been made, reports CNN.com. Meanwhile, the Boston Federal courthouse was evacuated this afternoon after a bomb threat was received, reports the Boston Globe, as scores of spectators, photographers and reports flocked to the scene after hearing about the potential arrest.
A Globe source said an image had been captured of a suspect carrying, and perhaps dropping, a black bag at the second bombing scene. The same official said a surveillance camera at Lord & Taylor, directly across the street, has provided clear video of the area. Authorities has appealed to the public for photo and video evidence near the bombing scene at the finish line of the marathon.
Though a press conference had been set for 5 p.m. EDT, it has since been canceled after the evacuation of the courthouse.
Texas Fertilizer Plant Explosion Kills 5 to 15 People
A massive explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas Wednesday night has killed an estimated five to 15 people, wounding more than 160, and damaging 50 to 60 homes in a 5-block area, CNN reports. Described as a nuclear-like blast by those who witnessed it, the explosion rocketed the West Fertilizer Co. at around 7:50 p.m. (8:50 p.m. ET). The explosion is being treated as a crime scene until investigators determine whether it was an accident. “Nothing at this point indicates we have had criminal activity, but we are not ruling that out,” said Sgt. William Patrick Swanton to CNN reporters. Patients were rushed to several surrounding hospitals, while fire and rescue units were being called in from neighboring cities.
The blast shook houses 50 miles away and measured a 2.1-magnitude seismic event, according to the United States Geological Survey. Meteorologists are warning that an approaching storm system could complicate rescue efforts, as winds are forecasted to be gusting up to 35 miles per hour.
Senate Rejects Gun Control Measure
The U.S. Senate rejected Wednesday an amendment aimed at strengthening laws on background checks to purchase firearms, the Christian Post reports. The 54 to 46 votes fell six votes short of the 60 needed to advance the amendment. Drafted by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.V) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa), proponents of the amendment had hoped for bipartisan support, but support for the law unraveled under intense lobbying from gun rights groups. The NRA threatened to defeat senators who voted for it in their next election, arguing it would criminalize private transfers of firearms between law abiding citizens.
President Barack Obama had called for a number of other new gun control measures, including a ban on assault weapons and limiting the size of gun clips, but these other proposals were dropped for lack of support.
Boston Marathon Good Samaritan Motivated by Faith
In a story that quickly went viral, 46-year-old Bill Cunningham of Sitka, Alaska is the formerly unknown Good Samaritan who gave away his Boston Marathon medal in a spontaneous gesture of kindness, the Toronto Star reports. He is also the regional director of Alaska Young Life, and it's clear his faith motivated his generosity.
25-year-old Laura Wellington was half a mile away from the finish line when the two bombs went off Monday. After learning that her boyfriend and family, who were waiting at the finish line for her, were fine, she sat on the edge of a street and wept out of relief. That's when Cunningham appeared. He and his wife gave Wellington a blanket, and Cunningham asked her if she had finished the race. She said no.
"Then I knew what I had to do," Cunningham said to reporters. "You’re a finisher in my eyes," he told Wellington, taking off his medal and slipping it around her neck.
Stunned by the stranger's compassion, Wellington later posted the story to her Facebook page in hopes of reconnecting with him, and her post went viral. "This couple reassured me that even though such a terrible thing happened, everything was going to be okay," Wellington wrote.
"She needed it more than I needed it,” Wellington said. “I just wanted her to know that 'you're worth it.' With everything that has happened, our world is looking for hope. My whole life is about loving God and loving others. That's who I am."
Hobby Lobby Increases Minimum Wage for Workers
Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., announced this week a minimum wage increase to $14 per hour for full-time employees of Hobby Lobby and its affiliate Hemispheres, effective immediately, Christian News Wire reports. The company also announced a minimum wage increase for all part-time employees to $9.50 per hour. This is the fifth year in a row that the company has raised wages for full-time employees. Founder and CEO of Hobby Lobby David Green said, “We are very fortunate to be able to increase hourly wages for our employees, because we know our company would not be successful without the great work they do each day in our stores across the nation.”
This increase will raise the pay of more than 17,726 employees nationwide. Hobby Lobby’s new minimum wage for full-time hourly employees is 93 percent above the national minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. In 2013, Hobby Lobby projects continued growth and plans to open around 33 additional stores, creating 1,200 jobs across the country.
Hobby Lobby has recently been in the news due to their legal battle against the federal government’s abortion/contraceptive mandate. Under the government's mandate, businesses must cover contraceptives and abortion-causing drugs as part of their employee health insurance plans. The Christian owners argue that the mandate violates their beliefs.