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Only in America
February 7, 2013

What could possibly say "I love you" better than a firearm? As part of a Valentine's Day promotion, North Carolina jeweler Chris Snowden is giving customers who spend more than $1,500 at his store a $300 voucher for a gun at a nearby arms store. "It's purely business," Snowden said. "I just want people to come in and get things that they want." Samantha Rollins

a peak in the campaign season
10:11 a.m. ET

Republican braggadocio Donald Trump has made his campaign all immigration policy, all the time — until now. Following Sunday's news that President Obama officially directed the federal government to refer the tallest peak in North America as Mt. Denali instead of Mt. McKinley, Trump pledged via Twitter to change the name back once he gets to the White House:

Ohio, where President McKinley was born, also happens to be a key swing state in the presidential election.

Many native Alaskans — who have far fewer votes in the Electoral College — have used the name Denali for generations, and the state government has been attempting to get Washington to recognize the traditional title since the 1970s. Bonnie Kristian

faith in humanity restored
9:55 a.m. ET

Europe is buckling under the weight of hundreds of thousands of African and Middle Eastern refugees trying to get into the EU. The Keleti train station in Budapest shut down Tuesday due to the number of migrants trying to get from Hungary to Germany; in late August, 71 refugees were found dead after suffocating in a refrigerated truck in Austria. Germany, meanwhile, is expecting 800,000 refugee arrivals this year.

In response to the crisis, the tiny island nation of Iceland has only offered the smallest amount of aid, agreeing to take in a mere 50 Syrian refugees. That wasn't nearly enough for popular Icelandic children's book author Bryndís Björgvinsdóttir. She launched a Facebook campaign that asked her fellow countrymen and women to open up their homes and urge the government to do more, The Telegraph reports. In 24 hours, more than 10,000 Icelanders had offered their homes for refugees to stay in. Keep in mind that Iceland's entire population is less than 330,000.

"I think people have had enough of seeing news stories from the Mediterranean and refugee camps of dying people and they want something done now," Björgvinsdóttir told Icelandic public television RUV in response to the overwhelming support.

That seems to be true. "I'm a single mother with a 6-year-old son...We can take a child in need. I'm a teacher and would teach the child to speak, read and write Icelandic, and adjust to Icelandic society," one Facebook user wrote. "We have clothes, a bed, toys, and everything a child needs. I would of course pay for the airplane ticket."

The Icelandic government is now looking into how to accept more refugees. Whatever they decide, this much is for sure: The migrants they take in will have a warm welcome waiting for them. Jeva Lange

Crime stats
9:49 a.m. ET
iStock

The summer isn't even over yet, and already Milwaukee has surpassed the total homicide count for the entire year of 2014 by 18 homicides. But this troubling stat isn't an outlier: More than 30 other cities across the U.S. are reporting similar trends, The New York Times reports. With months still left in the year, homicides in U.S. cities including New Orleans, Baltimore, and St. Louis have already hit triple digits, far outpacing the number of murders in the same period of the previous year. In Baltimore, for example, there have so far been 215 homicides in 2015; at this time last year, there were 138.

The reason for this surprising uptick remains yet to be determined. According to law enforcement experts, "disparate factors are at play in different cities," including rivalries among street gangs and the availability of guns. One theory posits that "intense national scrutiny of the use of force by the police has made officers less aggressive and emboldened criminals," The New York Times reports. Police officials also noted they're seeing a shift in attitudes about the willingness to use violence to settle disagreements, particularly among "disenchanted young men in poor neighborhoods."

The Justice Department is expected to launch an initiative this month to deal with the increased homicide rates. Becca Stanek

bond james bond
9:17 a.m. ET
Anthony Harvey/Getty Images

The rumor mill has been churning for months now with speculation that Idris Elba will be the next James Bond. But that theory isn't sitting well with some, including the current 007 author. Anthony Horowitz, who took over the job of writing the James Bond novels from the Ian Fleming estate, is none too pleased that Elba is being considered, although he claims it isn't "a color issue."

"I think he is probably too street for Bond," Horowitz told The Daily Mail. "Is it a question of being suave? Yeah."

Horowitz added that while Elba is "a terrific actor," he can think of other black actors who could better play the role, and suggested Adrian Lester.

Last December, Rush Limbaugh also weighed in, saying James Bond ought to be "white and Scottish."

Elba, for his part, has in the past been reluctant to praise the history-making implications of his potential casting. "I just don't want to be the black James Bond," Elba told NPR in 2011. "Sean Connery wasn't the Scottish James Bond and Daniel Craig wasn't the blue-eyed James Bond, so if I played him, I don't want to be called the black James Bond." Jeva Lange

This just in
8:57 a.m. ET

A Kentucky county clerk's office denied two same-sex couples' requests for marriage licenses Tuesday morning, just hours after the Supreme Court ruled against Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis' request to be excused from issuing the licenses. Davis, an Apostolic Christian opposed to same-sex marriage for religious reasons, seems to be sticking to her call to "stand firm," even if that means defying the law. She said Tuesday morning that in refusing to issue any licenses, she was operating under "God's authority." Watch:

Davis, who has stopped providing licenses to both gay and straight couples, could face daily fines or even jail time for denying the marriage licenses. Becca Stanek

Clinton Emails
8:19 a.m. ET

At first glance, this Hillary Clinton email released in the latest State Department dump would be enough to leave anyone more than a bit baffled.

For the uninitiated, gefilte fish is a Jewish food primarily eaten on Passover that essentially consists of ground white fish and egg whites. It seems to be somewhat of an acquired taste. "It may taste like cat food, but that's why I love it," a fan told The New York Times last year.

So why, exactly, was the then-U.S. secretary of state so worried about a fish dish? Turns out, back in February 2010, the shipment of nearly 400,000 pounds of frozen Asian carp fillets — an essential ingredient for gefilte fish — had been blocked by Israel ahead of the Passover holiday. Israel had slapped a 120 percent import duty on the American-caught fish that were supposed to be sent over to the Holy Land. The crates of fish were stranded, and the appearance of gefilte fish on the Seder table was in serious jeopardy.

Clinton rose to the challenge. "Sounds to me like one of those issues that should rise to the highest levels of our government," she reportedly said at the time. "I will take that mission on." She did — and probably ruined Passover for millions of gefilte fish-hating American children. Becca Stanek

This just in
8:18 a.m. ET
Christophe Archambault/AFP/Getty Images

The "main suspect" in the Aug. 17 Bangkok shrine bombing that killed 20 was arrested at a checkpoint on the Cambodian border, Thailand's prime minister said Tuesday. The suspect is the second foreigner to be detained in connection with the attack.

The motivation for the bombing is still unknown, although there are many possibilities revolving around political rivalry, organized crime, Thailand's southern rebellions, sympathizers of China's Uighur minority, or Islamist militants, AFP reports. Thailand says they are interrogating the suspect, noting that he was in the checkpoint town because he was "probably running away."

On Monday, Thai police said they found bomb-making materials at an apartment in the Min Buri district of Bangkok, the second such discovery since Saturday. Jeva Lange

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