Weekly roundup: Ukraine, Sochi, and a nun with a sentence

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Here we are, at the end of February, and looking for a glimmer of spring. Just in case you spent a little too much time squinting your eyes looking for warmer weather, this is your weekly roundup.

This week, we start in Ukraine, which exploded this week. Protesters in Kiev clashed mightily with government police. As of the moment that I am writing this, there seems to be a delicate-as-lace accord, with actors on all sides remaining skeptical. Let’s hope it holds.

Just across the border in Russia, the Winter Olympics continue. The only problem is that spring seems to have come early in Sochi this year.

The New York State Prison system is beginning to rethink its practice of solitary confinement. At any given time there are about 3,800 people in solitary confinement in New York, with the average length of stay being five months.

In Arizona, the state legislature passed a bill that allows business owners to refuse service to anyone (read: gay people) because they have a "religious objection." The bill, which the ACLU called "unnecessary and discriminatory" will now go to the desk of Governor Jan Brewer, who has not indicated whether she intends to sign it.

The Kentucky pastor and star of reality television series “Snake salvation” Jamie Coots died on Saturday (February 15) after suffering a snakebite during a church service. His son says that the snake that killed him will be returned to service at the church.

In other entertainment news, the reshaped version of “The Bible” miniseries, called “The Son of God,” has announced that they will not use the actor who played Satan in “The Bible.” The actor, Mohamen Mehdi Ouazanni, bears a striking resemblance to President Obama.

Megan Rice, the 84-year-old Sister of the Holy Child Jesus, has been sentenced to 35 months in federal prison for her participation in a protest in which she and two other people broke into a federal complex that stores enriched uranium. Rice told the judge at her sentence hearing that “To remain in prison for the rest of my life would be the greatest honor you could give me.”

In Japan, respondents to the Vatican’s survey on marriage and family life have responded, and the results are, well, quite frank. According to the NCR, “In a sometimes pointed 15-page report issued in preparation for an October meeting of the world's bishops, known as a synod, the Japanese state the church "often falls short" by "presenting a high threshold for entry and lacking hospitality and practical kindness."

And now for the papal rapid fire roundup.

This week, Pope Francis:

 

Well, that’s all for now, folks. Have a happy and safe weekend! If you find yourself feeling a little on the bored side, check out our survey about the legalization of marijuana.