Saturday, March 23, 2019

Syria Vows to Recover Israeli-Seized Golan; Trump Wants Israel to Retain Occupied Ter.

The Syrian government vowed to take back the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, as its allies and enemies alike condemned U.S. President Donald Trump yesterday for wanting to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the territory seized in a war, the Reuters website reports today (March 23, 2019).

Trump's statement on Golan Heights marked a dramatic shift in U.S. policy over the status of a disputed area that Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 Middle East conflict and annexed in 1981 -- a moved not recognized internationally.

The European Union said its position on the status of the Golan Heights was unchanged and that it did not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the strategic plateau.

Germany said any change in borders should be "done through peaceful means between all those involved," while France said it did not recognize the Israeli annexation of  Golan and any recognition was contrary to international law.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Indiana Teachers Shot with Pellets in School Drill; Union: Teacher Wounds Included Welts, Bleeding

The Indiana State Teachers Association said today (March 22, 2019) that several groups of four teachers at a time were led into a room, told to kneel and then were shot with a pellet gun "execution style" and injured during an active shooter training at an Indiana elementary school in January, according to the Huffpost website.

The association revealed the violent training tactic, which took place at the Meadowlawn Elementary School in Monticello, while testifying to end the practice in House Bill 1004, which addresses school safety, before the state's Senate Education Committee.

The teachers' injuries in the training included welts and bleeding, the union said. About 30 teachers were involved in the training.

"They told us, 'This is what happens if you just cower and do nothing,'" one teacher told the IndyStar. "They shot all of us across our backs. I was hit four times... It hurt so bad."

Taliban Kills 2 US Troops Today in Afghanistan; US and Taliban Currently Discussing Peace Plan

Two U.S. service members died in Afghanistan today (March 22, 2019), while conducting a military operation against the Taliban, according to the UPI website.

The names of the service members are being withheld until 24 hours after family members have been notified, NATO said.

Today's deaths mean at least four U.S. service members have died in Afghanistan in 2019.

The U.S. and Taliban are currently working through a peace process in the country.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Trump Bars Money for Non-Free-Speech Colleges; Colleges Cracking Down on Conservative Speech

President Donald Trump signed an executive order today (March 21, 2019) to withhold federal research and education funds from colleges if they don't certify that they will protect free-speech rights on campus, the Euro News website reports.

"We're here to take historic actions to defend American students and American values," Trump said at the White House. "They've been under siege."

 Colleges and universities spend some $40 billion in federal research aid and development dollars annually, according to the National Science Foundation.

The idea that universities are cracking down on conservative thought and speech has become a cause celebre on the political right, and one that Trump has taken up as major political issue.

Jewish Cemetery Vandalized in Fall River,MA; Gravestone Graffiti Included "Expel the Jews"

At least 30 gravestones were desecrated with swastikas and anti-Semitic messages on March 17 at the Hebrew Cemetery in Fall River, Massachusetts, the Religion News website reports today (March 21, 2019).

The phrases included "expel the Jews," "ethnic cleansing,"  "heil Hitler,"  "Hitler was right," and "Jewish bastard," written on headstones with a black magic marker.

Local police launched a hate crime investigation after a cemetery maintenance worker reported the vandalism, which included several headstones that were pushed over.

The vandalism is part of an uptick in anti-Semitic acts in Massachusetts, from anti-Semitic fliers being distributed in communities to graffiti in middle and high schools and universities.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Finland Is Ranked Happiest Country in the World; US Ranked 19th, Its Lowest Happiness Level Ever

Finland has been crowned the happiest country in the world for the second year in a row, leading a top ten that is made up of five Nordic nations, the Daily Mail (British) website reports today (March 20, 2019).

The World Happiness Report -- released today -- ranked 156 countries by happiness levels, based on factors such as life expectancy, social support, and corruption.

Although the Nordic nations of Finland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Iceland topped the table, there was no sign of Britain in the top ten.

The UK placed 15th -- up from 19th last year -- four above the U.S., which came in at its lowest ranking ever at 19th.

Muslims Born in West Are More Likely Terrorists; Swedish Study:Western Muslims Feel a Prejudice

A new study by researchers at a Swedish university has found that Muslims born and raised in the West are more likely to support extremist ideas than those who are born elsewhere and who later emigrate to the West, the RT website reports today (March 20, 2019).

While it is a common assumption that the threat from extremist Islam comes from outside the West, the new study has found that homegrown radicals could be a much greater problem.

Researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden found that support among Western-born Muslims for extremism often comes from a feeling of being disadvantaged in comparison to the majority of the population in those countries.

The researchers also found that when you look at terror attacks that occurred in Europe and the U.S., you find that a majority of them are "planned and implemented by people who are born and raised in the West."