- Associated Press - Friday, September 18, 2015
Boxing great Ali gets award in his hometown of Louisville

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Boxing great Muhammad Ali once again heard a crowd chanting his name Thursday and had a medal draped around his neck in his Kentucky hometown.

The three-time world heavyweight champion basked in the attention in Louisville, where he received an award from the University of Louisville. School President James Ramsey presented Ali with the medal as the first-ever Grawemeyer Spirit Award winner for his role in inspiring others.

Grawemeyer Awards are presented each year for music composition, education, religion, psychology and improving world order.

After a series of tributes recounting his triumphs as a boxer and his humanitarian efforts outside the ring, the 73-year-old Ali appeared on stage at a downtown theater.

Ali, who is battling Parkinson’s disease, stayed seated but raised his right hand briefly to acknowledge the crowd, which chanted “Ali! Ali!”

“In accepting this award, we are reminded that Muhammad’s life continues to inspire generations of people to discover and cultivate their own path to greatness and to use their talents and successes to empower others in communities all over the world,” said Ali’s wife, Lonnie.

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US education chief tells college students: Apply for aid

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s message for students thinking about college is simple: You can do it, and the federal government can help pay for it.

Duncan visited Louisville on Thursday as part of a back-to-school bus tour with stops in 10 cities. He told a group of prospective college students during a discussion at the University of Louisville that too many of them never fill out federal financial aid forms. They miss out on about $150 billion in grants and loans made available by the federal government every year, he said.

“If you work hard, you will be able to afford college, and we will meet you halfway,” he said. Duncan told the students, “please, please, please fill out that form.”

Duncan said he worries that many students with the grades to go to college believe that it will be too expensive.

Those skeptical students have a point: nationally, student debt is near $1.3 trillion dollars and the average price for in-state students at public four-year universities is 42 percent higher than it was a decade ago, according to the College Board.

“College is less affordable than we’d like it to be today, and it’s a worry,” Duncan said.

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Clerk Kim Davis loses another appeal in gay marriage case

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky County Clerk Kim Davis lost another legal bid to delay issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, marking the latest in a mounting stack of rejected appeals.

Davis, who returned to work this week after five days in jail for defying a federal court order, had again tried to persuade the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to delay a judge’s mandate that she issue marriage licenses to all couples.

Davis, the clerk of rural Rowan County, spurred a fiery debate about religious freedom and the rule of law when she refused to issue licenses after a Supreme Court ruling in June that effectively legalized gay marriage nationwide. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a suit against Davis on behalf of four couples, two straight and two gay, and U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning ordered her to issue the licenses, not only to those four couples but also to any other qualified to be married.

Davis defied the order, lost a string of appeals, and opted to go to jail for five days rather than issue the licenses. While she was incarcerated, her deputies issued licenses, altered to remove Davis’ name. Both same-sex couples named in the suit received one.

Now Davis’ lawyers with the Liberty Counsel, a firm that opposes gay rights, argue that because those couples have received the licenses, Davis should not have to issue any additional licenses while the case is pending.

The appeals court scrapped that request Thursday on a legal technicality: Davis’ lawyers did not first ask Bunning to delay his mandate, as federal court rules require, before they appealed to the higher court. The lawyers, in justifying skipping that step, cited the judge’s “extraordinary doggedness.” The appeals court wrote that “this is not a valid reason.”

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Christian conservatives rally for religious awakening

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Hundreds of people cheered the husband of Kentucky clerk Kim Davis during a rally of Christian conservatives Thursday outside the Tennessee Capitol.

The celebration of Constitution Day was sponsored by the Tennessee Pastors Network and also drew Rafael Cruz, a pastor and the father of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican and presidential candidate.

Speaking of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision effectively legalizing same-sex marriage, Cruz said, “The devil overplayed his hand.”

He said the country needs to elect a constitutional conservative as president, and suggested that Christian conservatives will be roused to action by the ruling.

“We’ve been silent too long,” he said.

“Religious persecution ends in January 2017,” he said.

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