- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 2, 2013

The sequester deadline came and went with neither side blinking while the White House jumped in to the California Prop 8 fight against the ban on gay marriage. 

On the world stage, Pope Benedict XVI became the first Bishop of Rome to vacate the papacy in 600 years while NBA legend Dennis Rodman wormed his way into North Korea.

Here’s a recap, or wrap, on the week that was from The Washington Times:

After failing to reach a deal with congressional leaders to avoid $85 billion in automatic “sequester” budget cuts, President Obama on Friday blamed the crisis squarely on Republican lawmakers.

“They’ve allowed these cuts to happen because they refuse to budge on closing a single wasteful loophole to help reduce the deficit,” Mr. Obama said. But neither side showed any signs of yielding.

Completing what President Obama called his “evolution” on the question of gay marriage, the administration late Thursday called on the Supreme Court to strike down California’s voter-passed initiative invalidating same-sex marriages.

Supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage will be poring over the administration’s brief in the coming days as the high court plans two days of oral arguments starting March 26 on the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8 and the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defined marriage for federal purposes as only between a man and woman.

  • Benedict XVI leaves Vatican in pope helicopter, uses Twitter to say goodbye

The pope has left the building. With much pomp and ceremony, Pope Benedict XVI left Vatican City on Thursday. An honor guard of his personal protection force, the Swiss Guards, lined the steps to his apartment to see him off.

Bells chimed, and applause from the gathered thousands filled the air, as he climbed into a car for transport to a helicopter that took him to Castel Gandolfo, his summer papal residence.

The Maryland Senate voted Thursday to approve Gov. Martin O’Malley’s gun-control legislation, clearing the bill’s biggest hurdle and sending it to the House where its passage would make Maryland’s gun laws among the strictest in the nation.

The Senate voted 28-19 in favor of the Democratic governor’s proposal, which would ban assault weapons, require residents to obtain a license before buying handguns and strengthen protections against purchases by the mentally ill. A pair of House committees were scheduled to take up their version of the bill Friday after three days of debate in the Senate.

Secretary of State John Kerry — who recently made international headlines for inventing a country — has again drawn attention for questionable remarks, this time to a group of German students.

Mr. Kerry, while speaking in Berlin on Tuesday, asserted that in the United States “you have a right to be stupid if you want to be.”

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman has a new friend: North Korea’s newest dictator, Kim Jong-un. The pair was spotted sitting side by side at a Thursday exhibition basketball game between North Korea and U.S. mixed teams in Pyongyang, North Korea

Mr. Rodman later said this to the leader, before a crowd of thousands: “You have a friend for life.”

The White House refuted a report Monday that President Obama’s former campaign team is selling access to him for wealthy donors who contribute at least $500,000 to a newly organized advocacy group pushing his liberal agenda.

White House press secretary Jay Carney offered a flat “no” when asked by reporters if donors to the group Organizing for Action — a spinoff of Obama for America — would be rewarded with quarterly meetings with Mr. Obama in exchange for their hefty contributions to the tax-exempt group.

It’s not out of the ordinary for Mike Milbury to take players to task, including Alex Ovechkin. But during the second intermission of the Washington Capitals’ game at the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday night, the NBC Sports analyst took the criticism to a new level.

“When you have great talent it comes with great expectations and accountability,” Milbury said on NBC Sports Network. “If you put him up to those two standards tonight, he fails the test miserably.”

Just in case you thought the Democratic push for a federal ban on assault weapons might die a quiet death in the House, where Republicans hold the majority, now comes Sen. Dianne Feinstein to assure otherwise.

Assault weapons are “personal pleasure[s]” that should not take precedence over the good of the nation,” she said.

Robin the Boy Wonder is finally getting the boot.

DC Comics is killing off the Batman sidekick in issue No. 8 of the “Batman Incorporated” series.