Obama Adjusts Contraception Mandate, Attempts Compromise: News Roundup

In the news this week: Obama offers compromise to contraception mandate, one writer explores anti-Christian sentiment in Muslim-majority nations, a group of Marines pose in front of an SS flag, and other stories.

President Barack Obama, in an abrupt policy shift aimed at quelling an election-year firestorm, announced on Friday that religious employers would not be required to offer free birth control to workers and the onus would instead be put on insurers.
 
But Catholic Church leaders and Obama's Republican opponents, who had railed against the Democratic president's new rule on contraceptives as a violation of religious freedom, signaled that divisions remain over the hot-button social issue. Reuters
 
We hear so often about Muslims as victims of abuse in the West and combatants in the Arab Spring’s fight against tyranny. But, in fact, a wholly different kind of war is underway—an unrecognized battle costing thousands of lives. Christians are being killed in the Islamic world because of their religion. It is a rising genocide that ought to provoke global alarm. Newsweek
 
Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich inserted himself into the long-running controversy about whether religious groups should be allowed to hold services in New York City public schools, and accused Mayor Michael Bloomberg of being "anti-religious." Chicago Tribune
 
More than 30 Muslim and legal advocacy groups are urging New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman to investigate the New York City Police Department after the second scandal in as many weeks involving Muslim Americans.
 
On Thursday (Feb. 2), The Associated Press reported that it had obtained a secret 2006 NYPD report, “U.S.-Iran Conflict: The Threat to New York City,” which recommended that officers “expand and focus intelligence” at Shiite mosques. Washington Post
 
A shocking photo shows a U.S. Marines team posing in front of an SS flag in Afghanistan, drawing comparisons to a Nazi symbol. The Marine Corps confirmed one of its scout sniper teams posed in front of the notorious flag in September 2010 in Sangin province but insisted the issue has since been addressed internally.
 
Former Marines have been left outraged by the picture and are calling for a full investigation, but military officials say they have already probed the photo and confirmed it was not racially-motivated. Daily Mail
 
A billboard campaign funded by a secular, atheist and humanist organization called the African Americans for Humanism, is facing an outpouring of hate and criticism by the religious. iNEWP
 
A Sikh house of worship under construction on Dequindre just north of 14 Mile was vandalized with what appears to be anti-Muslim graffiti.
 
The Sikh building, known as a gurdwara, was defaced Sunday evening or Monday morning, said a Sikh advocacy group. Some of the graffiti read: "Don't Builed" and "Mohmed," which appears to refer to Mohammed. The graffiti also included a Christian cross, a pistol and the letters R and A. It's unclear what the letters refer to. Detroit Free Press
 
Hindus want Diwali be declared a school holiday in Jersey City, Edison, Woodbridge, Parsippany-Troy Hills, West Windsor-Plainsboro, North Brunswick, Monroe and Bernards school districts in New Jersey (USA).
 
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that since it was important for Hindu families to celebrate Diwali day together at home with their children, we did not want our children to be deprived of any privileges at the school because of thus resulting absences on this day. Closing schools on Diwali would ensure that and it would be “a step in the right direction”. Eurasia Review