On Thursday, the Hilcorp Corporation ended a natural gas leak in Cook Inlet that has spewed methane into the surrounding waters for months after dive crews installed a clamp marine pipeline. The fix required several dives to the seafloor as workers repaired a damaged pipeline 80 feet deep. Thick sea ice prevented crews from fixing the 52-year-old installation for two months. The leak has generated controversy since it began, with environmental groups voicing concern for local wildlife and accusing Hilcorp of being unable to manage its own properties.
The Alabama state Senate has passed a bill that would grant a local church the ability to appoint its own police force. Briarwood Presbyterian Church is located at the fringes of Birmingham, located between Jefferson and Shelby counties. The church is massive, with more than 4,000 members and 40 ministries, including programs for preschool and K-12 education. The church released a statement stating, “After the shooting at Sandy Hook and in the wake of similar assaults at churches and schools, Briarwood recognized the need to provide qualified first responders to coordinate with local law enforcement who so heroically and effectively serve their communities.” Those in favor of the measure say that a police force is necessary in increasingly dangerous times. Those against it say the move is both gratuitous to religious forces and unconstitutional. The American Civil Liberties Union objected, issuing a memo saying that the bill will “unnecessarily carve out special programs for religious organizations and inextricably intertwine state authority and power with church operations.” Critics also say that violates the First Amendment, which says that Congress cannot make any law “respecting an establishment of religion.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un celebrated his grandfather’s birthday this year, not with the usual parade, but with a display of far-ranging firepower. A massive military procession showed off the latest North Korean military equipment, including what analysts say were three different types of intercontinental missiles. Kim watched from a balcony as the missiles made their way through Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital, accompanied by dozens of tanks and thousands of goose-stepping soldiers. It was the 105th birthday of Kim Il-sung, Kim’s grandfather and near-mythic founder of North Korea. World powers like China and the United States were concerned that Kim would ring in the anniversary with a nuclear bomb test or the firing of an intercontinental missile. The United States sent a naval strike group to the coast of the Korean Peninsula in a show of force. The move has led to heightened tensions between the two countries. Cho-ryong Hae, believed to be second most powerful North Korean official, said “We’re prepared to respond to an all-out war with an all-out war” and “We are ready to hit back with nuclear attacks of our own style against any nuclear attacks.”