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Away in a manger, indeed— thefts of Baby Jesus plague Christmas

Obama succeeds Bush as most admired

President-elect Obama dethroned President Bush as the nation's most-admired man this year. Obama was named most admired living man by 32 percent of Americans, a figure that Gallup poll analyst Lydia Saad called "extraordinarily high." Bush had topped the most admired man list seven straight years. He reached as high as 39 percent shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks. This month, however, he sank to 5 percent to finish a distant second. Republican presidential candidate John McCain was third with 3 percent, and former President Bill Clinton tied with the Rev. Billy Graham and Pope Benedict XVI for fourth, each at 2 percent.

Although Obama soared, he didn't have coattails for his wife, Michelle. She landed in fifth place on the most-admired woman list with 3 percent. Topping that chart was Obama's choice to be secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is No. 1 for the seventh straight year. Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican 2008 vice presidential candidate, was a strong second, surging past television host Oprah Winfrey, an early Obama backer who had been the runnerup since 2002.

The USA Today/Gallup poll was conducted Dec. 12-14 and had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

McClatchy Newspapers

It's tough to keep the Christ in Christmas when thieves keep stealing him. News reports from all over the country tell of many a missing baby Jesus.

Alameda, Calif.: "Bring Back Baby Jesus and no one will get hurt — God" reads a sign next to a Nativity scene at Alameda Christian Reformed Church.

Littlestown, Pa.: A lighted baby Jesus, including cord, was yanked from in front of a woman's home.

Sandy Creek, Pa.: On Sunday, the baby Jesus was stolen for the second year in a row from the Mittelstadt family's manger scene. "So it's got to be same hoodlums," said Walter Mittelstadt.

Grand Haven, Mich.: On Saturday, Rod Elenbaas looked out his window and saw grass where the baby Jesus used to be. "My grandson asked, 'Why would someone take baby Jesus right before Christmas?' " he said.

Franklin, Tenn.: Two weeks ago, the iconic infant was pilfered from the First United Methodist Church's Nativity scene. The figure was estimated to be worth $1,000.

Hattiesburg, Miss.: Last week, Westminster Presbyterian lost its baby Jesus — for the second year in a row.

New Albany, Ind.: Jesus, Mary and Joseph were all swiped from a family's front yard last weekend — after two decades without a problem. "It was sickening that somebody would be that low," said Paul Anderson, who said the figures had been in his family for over four decades.

Ketchikan, Alaska: Despite being chained, a Jesus vanished from the Clover Pass Community Church.

Green Forest, Ark.: A stolen Jesus was recovered — but it was damaged and marked with "racial slurs, a swastika and a Hitler mustache." A 19-year-old was arrested and charged with misdemeanor theft.

Other missing Jesus cases have been reported in Colorado, Massachusetts and Florida.

Away in a manger, indeed— thefts of Baby Jesus plague Christmas 12/26/08 [Last modified: Thursday, November 4, 2010 2:31pm]
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