By Melissa Wuske
Bible-Minded in America
An annual study by American Bible Society (ABS) and Barna Group sought to determine the most “Bible-minded” cities in the United States. The study defined Bible-minded people as those “who report reading the Bible in a typical week and who strongly assert the Bible is accurate in the principles it teaches.”
“As in previous years, the South remains the most Bible-minded region of the country, with all of the top 10 cities located below the Mason-Dixon line,” according to the study. Chattanooga, Tennessee, was the most Bible-minded city, with 52 percent of respondents meeting the criteria for Bible-mindedness. Birmingham, Alabama, came in second with 51 percent, followed by Roanoke/Lynchburg, Virginia, with 48 percent.
A New Chance for Juvenile Offenders
In 2012 the U.S. Supreme Court decided that juveniles could no longer be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. In January the court made an unprecedented decision: to make that 2012 ruling retroactive. The court ruled 6-3 to extend this ruling to those already convicted for juvenile crimes.
The court said its decision “ensures that juveniles whose crimes reflected only transient immaturity—and who have since matured—will not be forced to serve a disproportionate sentence,” upholding the Constitutional prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. Some states had already made the decision retroactive, but the new ruling will allow 1,000 people to have their sentences revisited.
Mental Health Screenings for New Moms
A group of experts recommends, for the first time, mental health screens for women during and after pregnancy. The group, appointed by the Department of Health and Human Services, found that during and after pregnancy are crucial times to identify and treat women with depression.
The recommendation points to an area that’s fallen through the cracks: “OB-GYNs thought that if they identify something and don’t have resources to support it, it puts them at significant legal risk,” said Dr. Samantha Meltzer-Brody, the director of the perinatal psychiatry program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “Pediatricians have the added caveat that the mom isn’t really their patient—the child is.”
It also addresses misconceptions about diagnosing and treating mental illness: “A decade ago, there was more concern that screening pregnant and postpartum women for mental health would do more harm than good,” said Wendy N. Davis, the executive director of Postpartum Support International. “Medical providers would say to me, ‘If I screen and she screens positively for depression and anxiety, I’m afraid that it will just make her feel more scared, or there’s more stigma to that label.’” Instead, “screening tools actually can give a language for both the providers and the patients to feel comfortable talking about it and prevent the stigma.”
Suburban Recycling Entrepreneurs
Officials in Shanghai aim to solidify the city’s image as a sophisticated financial hub, so they moved the city’s recycling centers into the suburbs away from the center of town. As a result, a fleet of bicycling entrepreneurs collect Styrofoam they find around the city, mountains of it, and strap it to their bikes to drive it to the recycling centers where they redeem it for cash.
“When you look at this guy on his bicycle with just that monster load of Styrofoam, my thought is he’s got to collect a whole lot more of this stuff to make it economically worth his while to drive it out of town to sell it,” said Adam Minter, author of Junkyard Planet, Travels in the Billion Dollar Trash Trade.
Melissa Wuske is a freelance editor and writer. She and her husband, Shawn, live and minister in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. Find her work online (melissaannewuske.com).