Friday, July 3, 2015

New Survey: Finland Excels Europe in Happiness; Social Equality,Free Health Care Spark Happiness

A survey just released shows that Finns are the happiest people in Europe, the Euro News website reports today (July 3, 2015).

Finland, Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, and Iceland -- these Northern European countries -- topped the latest Happiness Equality Index Europe 2015 poll.

The report is from the Happiness Research Institute, an independent think tank that explores "why some societies are happier than others."

Nordic countries are often associated with happy news, as well as social equality, generous maternity and paternity leave, low crime, free health care, and, yes, high taxes.

IDF Kill Palestinian Stone-Thrower in W. Bank; Broke Jeep Windshield,Ignored Warning Shot

A Palestinian teenager was shot and killed by an IDF (Israeli Defense Force) troop early today (July 3, 2015) near the Qalandiya checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah, after the youth threw stones at a military vehicle, according to the Times of Israel website.

The Israeli Defense Forces said troops driving a vehicle near the West Bank village of al-Ram, north of Jerusalem, came under a hail of stones and boulders, which shattered their windshield.

The soldiers exited the vehicle and called to the stone-throwers to stop, firing a warning shot in the air. When the attack continued, the troops opened fire.

According to Israeli media reports, the Palestinian teen, named as Muhammad al-Kasbeh, 17, was shot by the commander of the Binyamin Brigade, Col. Yisrael Shomer, who was traveling in the military jeep.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Pope Calls on World's Faithful to Pray for Greece; Assures Greek People of His Closeness and Love

Pope Francis today (July 2, 2015) called on the faithful of the world to unite in prayer for Greece, as it now veers on a path toward bankruptcy, according to the Catholic News website.

In a statement released by the Holy See, the Pope expressed his closeness to the Greek people as they face increasing economic and social turbulance. A referendum has been scheduled to be held in Greece on July 5 in order to determine Greece's future economic course of action.

The Pope's statement referred to the "economic and social situation of the country as worrying" and said that the Pope "conveys his closeness to all the Greek people, with a special thought for the many families gravely beset by such a complex and keenly felt human and social crisis."

It concluded by saying that Pope Francis invites all the faithful to "unite in prayer for the good of the beloved Greek people."

Obama Blocks Ally Support to Kurds Fighting IS; Rejects Strategic Help in World's Gravest Crisis

The United States has blocked attempts by its Middle east allies to fly heavy weapons directly to the Kurds fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) jihadists in Iraq, the Free Republic website reports today (July 2, 2015).

Some of America's closest allies say President Obama is failing to show strategic leadership over the world's gravest security crisis in decades.

They now say they are willing to "go it alone" in supplying heavy weapons to the Kurds, even if it means defying the Iraqi authorities and their American backers, who demand all weapons be channelled through Baghdad.

High level officials from the Persian Gulf and other states have revealed that all attempts to persuade Obama of the critical need to arm the Kurds directly as part of more vigorous plans to confront ISIS have failed. The officials say they are now looking at new ways to take the fight to ISIS without seeking U.S. approval.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Czechs Opposed to Immigrants Protest in Prague; Anti-Islam Groups Sore Accept Refugees

Several hundred people protested in Prague yesterday against the acceptance of refugees in the Czech Republic at a meeting organized by anti-Islam movements, the Prague Monitor website reports today (July 1, 2015).

They criticized the government's decision to voluntarily accept up to several hundred immigrants.

About 30 people came to express the opposite view and some of them were pelting the protesters with eggs.

The Bloc against Islam -- which staged the demonstration against immigrants along with We Do Not Want Islam in the Czech Republic movement -- announced that it would run in the regional election to be held in the autumn of 2016.

Islamic Mil. Begin Wave of Attacks in Sinai Pen.; At Least 30 Killed, 40 Other Soldiers Wounded

Islamic militants today (July 1, 2015) unleashed a wave of simultaneous attacks -- including a suicide car bombing -- on Egyptian army checkpoints in the restive north of the Sinai Peninsula, killing at least 30 soldiers, according to the Washington Times website.

The attacks took place just south of the town of Sheikh Zuweid and targeted at least six military checkpoints, officials said. The militants also took soldiers captive and seized weapons and several armored vehicles, they added.

At least 40 other soldiers were wounded, said the officials.

Egypt's military spokesman, Brig. Gen. Mohammed Samir, said fighting was still underway in the area between the armed forces and the militants. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for today's attack, but it bore all the hallmarks of an Islamic State (IS) affiliate.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

US, Cuba Patch Up Diplomatic Ties After 55 Yrs.; US Ended Relations After Cuba OKd Communism

The United States and Cuba will announce an agreement tomorrow (July 1, 2015) to open embassies in each other's capitals, formally re-establishing diplomatic relations for the first time since 1962, the USA Today website reports.

President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry will make the announcement tomorrow morning, said three officials who spoke on condition of anonymity, because they were not authorized to reveal this agreement.

Obama has made a rapprochement with Cuba a key part of his second-term agenda, arguing that 55 years of freezing out the Communist country has been counterproductive to establishing human rights on the Caribbean island nation.

With some initial help in encouraging US-Cuban relations from Pope Francis, the U.S. and Cuba have been negotiating the move for more than a year, going public with their diplomatic efforts last December. Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro met personally in Panama in April in a show of support for the new agreement.