Thursday, September 20, 2018

Trump Sets Max.No. of Refugees to Lowest Ever; Only 30K Refugees to Be Accepted in US in 2019

The Trump administration has reduced the maximum number of refugees it will accept in the next fiscal year from 45,000 to 30,000, the lowest level since the current refugee-resettlement program went into effect more than three decades ago, The Atlantic website reports today (September 20, 2018).

"The improved refugee policy of this administration serves the national interest of the United States, and helps those in need all around the world," U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a brief statement on September 17.

The 30,000 figure is the lowest refugee cap announced since President Ronald Reagan signed the Refugee Act in 1980.

U.S. presidents have, on the average, set a ceiling of 95,000 refugees for a fiscal year.

Rock Thrown in Polish Synagogue on Yom Kippur; Shatters Window, Just Misses Holy Day Followers

A rock was hurled into a synagogue in the Polish city of Gdansk on Yom Kippur, shattering the glass of one window while worshipers -- including children -- were inside, the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) website reports today (September 20, 2018).

No one was hurt in yesterday's incident at the New Synagogue during one of Judaism's holiest days.

The rock fell in the atrium where women waiting for neilah -- the final prayer for Yom Kippur -- according to the Jewish Religious Community in Gdansk.

The perpetrator has been identified on camera and the police are said to be dealing with the attack as a matter of the highest urgency, the World Jewish Congress wrote in a statement in which it condemned the attack.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Russia,Turkey Block Syrian Offensive on Idlib; Syria Planned to Attack Last Rebel Stronghold

Turkey will send more troops into Syria's Idlib province after striking a deal with Russia that has averted an imminent government offensive and delighted rebels who said it kept the area out of President Bashar al-Assad's hands, the Reuters website reports today (September 19, 2018).

The deal unveiled on September 17 by Russian President Vladimir Putin -- Assad's most powerful ally -- and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan will create a demilitarized zone from which "radical" rebels must withdraw by the middle of next month.

Damascus also welcomed the agreement, but vowed to continue its efforts to recover "every inch" of Syria, now in its seventh year of a brutal civil war.

The agreement halted a threatened Syrian government offensive on Syria's last rebel-controlled province -- home to some three million people.

Living Conditions Worsen for Migrants on Lesbos; Street Rubbish,Lack of Showers and Toilets Prevail

Three years after the migrant crisis began, refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos are facing worsening living conditions and growing frustrations from local people, the Euro News website reports today (September 19, 2018).

At the Moira refugee camp, life is getting harder for its 9,000 migrants who continue to face overcrowding and filthy living conditions.

Excessive rubbish on the streets and a shortage of showers and toilets are common.

Greek authorities are facing mounting pressures at home from locals who are split about their hospitality to host the growing number of migrants.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

US Cath. Back Pope Despite Cover-up Accusal; New Poll: 79% of US Catholics Support Francis

A new Gallup poll finds that even in the wake of the upheaval caused by revelations of sexual abuse by hundreds of priests in Pennsylvania and allegations of a Vatican cover-up of sexual misconduct of a U.S. cardinal, 79 percent of U.S. Catholics hold a favorable view of Pope Francis -- unchanged from last month but down 8 points from when he visited the U.S. three years ago -- the America Magazine website reports today (September 18, 2018).

Just 12 percent of U.S. Catholics hold an unfavorable view of Francis.

When it comes to the general U.S. population, however, the summer of scandals seems to be punishing the pope: Just over half of all U.S. adults -- 53 percent -- hold a favorable view of the pope. That is down 13 percentage points from last month and down 23 points from a peak in February 2014.

The latest Gallup poll was conducted with 1,035 adults from September 4 to 12.

Abbas to Attempt to Bypass Trump in Peace Talks; Will Ask French Pres. to Expedite Israeli-PA Talks

Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas will arrive in France tomorrow and hold a meeting with President Emmanuel Macron in an attempt to secure European sponsorship of negotiations with Israel -- instead of negotiations led by the United States -- the Israel National News website reports today (September 18, 2018).

Abbas refuses to take part in peace negotiations led by the U.S, because he believes the Trump administration discriminates against the PA and favors Israel, as illustrated by the U.S. recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Abbas also intends to appeal to other European leaders during the UN General Assembly to try to persuade them, against the background of the tension between the European Union and the U.S., to promote a non-discriminatory peace plan, and thus make Americans even more angry.

Abbas' intentions can be viewed as payback to the U.S. for its recent series of blows to the PA -- including the cessation of UNRWA funding, the cutback of aid to the PA, the freezing of its bank accounts in the U.S., and the closing down of the PA's diplomatic offices in Washington, D.C.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Hungarians Protest against Orban at EU Rally; Slam Hungary's PM for His Violating EU Rules

Around 1,000 Hungarians protested against Prime Minister Viktor Orban yesterday at a pro-EU (European Union) rally in Budapest organized by leftist opposition parties, demanding that the government respect democratic rights and other EU values, the Reuters website reports today (September 17, 2018).

The European Parliament voted on September 12 to sanction Hungary for flouting EU rules on democracy, civil rights, and corruption in an unprecedented step that left Orban isolated from some powerful allies in the European Parliament.

Hungary said it would seek legal ways to challenge the ruling.

Opponents of Orban say he has broken EU rules on several occasions. Orban has also been one of the strongest opponents of the EU's migration policies, as he has forbidden refugees from entering Hungary.