Wednesday, January 18, 2017

IS Surrounds Mil. Airport in Deir ez-Zor, Syria; Food Airdrops End for Quarter Million Civilians

Islamic State (IS) fighters have broken through government defensive lines in the Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor, surrounding a military airport and cutting off food supplies for about a quarter of a million civilians in what could become a major humanitarian disaster, The Guardian website reports today (January 18, 2017).

Deir ez-Zor in eastern Syria is divided between the militants and the government of Bashar al-Assad. IS fighters have now taken control of the area where the UN's World Food Program (WFP) air drops were landing.

The UN body announced that it has halted its airdrops, leaving a quarter of a million civilians residing in the government-held areas of Deir ez-Zor under a tightened IS siege.

The Syrian military has responded with a series of airstrikes on IS positions in the area.

Fordham Rejects Students' Pro-Palestinian Club; Says It Would Be More Like a Lobby Than a Club

Fordham University will not allow students to form a Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter because it does not allow groups that solely promote the interests of one country, the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) website reports today (January 18, 2017).

According to a statement yesterday from Fordham -- a Jesuit school in New York City -- an SJP chapter would act more like a political lobby than a traditional campus club.

The statement reads: "Fordham has no registered student clubs the sole focus of which is the political agenda of one nation against another nation. The narrowness of Students for Justice in Palestine's political focus makes it more akin to a lobbying group than a student club..."

There is a Jewish Students' Club at Fordham, but its description does not mention Israel.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Obama Abetted Worst Drop in US History; Atheists Make Up 25% of Pop.,Was 16% in 2007

According to the findings of a new study by the Pew Research Center, Barack Obama's presidency between 2008 and 2016 was responsible for bringing about the U.S.'s most drastic decline ever in the faith and religion of its people, the Christian Today website reports today (January 17, 2017).

"When it comes to the nation's religious identity, the biggest trend during Obama's presidency is the rise of those who claim no religion at all," Pew president Michael Dimock pointed out.

He added, "Those who self-identify as atheists or agnostics, as well as those who say their religion is 'nothing in particular,' now make up nearly a quarter of the U.S. adult population, up from 16 percent in 2007."

President Obama was also a strong supporter of gay marriage, which is now legal throughout the United States, since the U.S. Supreme Court made a landmark ruling in 2015 legalizing same-sex union. That decision stunned the Christian community, with many of the largest religious institutions in America firmly opposing it on the ground that marriage is only for a man and woman as clearly defined in the Bible.

Lithuania to Build Border Fence to Deter Russia; Fears Russian Mil.Buildup on Border Signals War

As a result of a Russian military buildup in its Lithuanian-bordering enclave of Kaliningrad during the past few months, Lithuania has decided to build an 80-mile-long border fence equipped with surveillance cameras this year, the Washington Post website reports today (January 17, 2017).

The project -- designed to be a deterrent to Russian aggression -- is expected to be funded by the European Union (EU) as a security investment.

All three of the tiny Baltic states -- Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania -- are members of the EU and NATO. They were also under the control of Soviet Russia until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

After Russia's recent war in eastern Ukraine -- and its annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula -- Baltic leaders fear their countries may be the next targets for Russian expansion.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Turkish Police Nab Istanbul Nightclub Killer; Shot 39 Dead on New Year's Eve to Assist IS

The gunman who killed 39 people with an automatic rifle at a nightclub in Istanbul on New Year's eve has been arrested in a police operation, the Telegraph (British) website reports today (January 16, 2017).

The man, who operated under the cover name Abu Muhammed Horasani, was caught in a hideout with his four-year-old son.

The Islamic State (IS) terror group claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was revenge for Turkish military involvement in Syria.

Horasani was described as being of Uzbek origin. He was caught at a housing complex of a friend on the European side of Istanbul.

Study: 8 Men Own as Much as 3.6 Billion People; Inequality Causes Public Anger,Trump's Election

A study released today (January 16, 2017) by the anti-poverty organization Oxfam shows the gap between the super-rich and the poorest half of the world's population is much greater than previously thought, with just eight men owning as much as 3.6 billion people, according to the Al Jazeera website.

Oxfam is urging leaders to do more than lip service to resolve this incredible problem.

If not, it warns, public anger against this kind of inequality will continue to grow around the world and lead to more unyielding radical political changes akin to last year's election of Donald Trump as U.S. president and Britain's vote to leave the European Union.

The eight richest men in the world -- in order of their wealth -- are: Bill Gates, Microsoft founder; Amancio Ortega, founder of fashion house Inditex; Warren Buffet, financier; Carlos Slim Helu, Mexican business magnate; Jeff Bezos, Amazon boss; Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook creator; Larry Ellison, Oracle founder; and Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York City.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Dozens of Nations Seek Mideast Peace in Paris; Call on Israel, Palestinians for 2-State Solution

Dozens of countries today (January 15, 2017) called on Israel and the Palestinians to revive work toward a long-lasting peace -- including an independent Palestinian state -- according to the Newsmax website.

The closing declaration at a Mideast peace conference in Paris urged both sides to "officially restate their commitment to the two-state solution."

The Palestinians welcomed today's declaration, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the conference "rigged" and cooked up behind Israel's back to force it to accept conditions against national interests.

However, French President Francois Hollande said, "Only direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians can lead to peace. No one will do it in their place."