Saturday, July 22, 2017

Pentagon Study:US Role in World "Collapsing;" US Has Lost Its Lead Position in World Affairs

A new Pentagon study concludes that the U.S.-backed framework of international order established after World War II is now "collapsing," leading the U.S. to lose its position of "primacy" in world affairs, the Raw Story website reports today (July 22, 2017).

The article was produced in partnership with AlterNet and Insurge Intelligence.

The document concludes that the world has entered a new phase of transformation in which U.S. power is in decline, international order is unravelling, and the authority of governments around the world is crumbling.

Having lost its status of  "pre-eminence," the U.S. now inhabits a dangerous, unpredictable "post-primacy" world, whose defining feature is "resistance to authority."

Friday, July 21, 2017

Muslims Pray, Protest Outside Jerusalem Shrine; Mad Israel Installed Metal Detectors in Holy Site

Thousands of Muslims prayed today (July 21, 2017) in the streets near a contested shrine in Jerusalem's Old City to protest the installation of metal detectors at the holy site, according to the Religion News website.

In three areas near the Old City, Israeli forces fired tear gas to dispense small groups of Palestinian stone-throwers.

Muslim leaders had urged the faithful not to enter the sacred compound until Israel removes the detectors.

Israel installed the metal detectors after three Palestinians launched an attack from the shrine, killing two Israeli policeman a week ago.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Most US Protestants Don't Adopt Denomination; New Poll Shows Formal Structure Not Important

A new survey shows that there are now more Protestants in the U.S. who do not identify with a particular denomination than those who do, the Christian Post website reports today (July 20, 2017).

Gallup research reveals that the number of Christians who said they belonged to a specific denomination has dropped from 50 percent in the year 2000 to 30 percent in 2016.

The poll was done by telephone in the months of May and December 2016, polling a combined total of 2,053 American adults living in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The survey concludes that trends in religious identity indicate that "while many Americans remain religious in a broad sense, a formal structure in which to do so has become less important."

Turkey Leaks Positions of US Mil. Bases in Syria; Endangers US Security Because US Backs Kurds

Turkey's state-run news agency has leaked the positions of U.S. military bases and special forces stationed in northern Syria, as Ankara continues to vent anger over Washington's support for Syrian Kurds on its southern border, the Newsweek website reports today (July 20, 2017).

Anadolu news agency reported that the U.S. has 10 military points in northern Syria to assist the People's Protection Units -- or YPG -- in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) militant group.

The YPG is a militia that Turkey says is affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party -- or PKK -- a group that Turkey, the United States, and European Union have listed as an extremist organization, which has waged a decades-long insurgency against Turkey, in an effort to establish its own independent state.

The news agency said the bases are "usually hidden for security reasons," but proceeded to list 10 bases in the northern and northeastern Syrian districts of Al-Hasakah, Kobane, Manbij, and Raqqa -- a move that could split relations between the NATO partners.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Israeli Court: Women Must Pay Child Support; Rules Existing Law Discriminates against Men

In a landmark decision, Israel's Supreme Court ruled today (July 19, 2017) that divorced women should also participate in child support payments, according to the Times of Israel website.

The dramatic ruling brings to an end the current norm, whereby fathers are solely responsible for alimony, even if their wives make more money than they do.

The ruling -- handed down by an expanded bench of seven justices -- applies in cases where the children are aged 6 to 15, and was in response to petitions lodged by two divorced fathers.

Fathers will continue to pay all child support for children below the age of 6.

GA Mosque on Alert after Mass Slaughter Threat; Man Left 8 Voice Messages of Killing Worshipers

The Georgia chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said today (July 19, 2017) that mosques in the state are on high alert after one mosque received a series of threatening phone calls, according to the Raw Story website.

"White people of this country are going to kill you out of this country," said an unidentified man who left multiple voice mail messages promising a "mass slaughter" of worshipers.

The calls began on June 22 and appear to be coming from a Missouri phone number.

CAIR did not specify which mosque in particular is under threat, but said the man has left at least eight messages.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Min.Satanic Monument Draws Much Opposition; Christians Say It Has No Business in Public Park

A provocative satanic monument approved for a city-run veterans' park in Minnesota has elicited strong opposition from local Christians and other groups who say the offensive object has no business in a public park, the Breitbart website reports today (July 18, 2017).

In May, the Satanic Temple received permission to place the monument -- a black cube inscribed with pentagrams with an upside-down soldier's helmet on top -- in Belle Plaine's Veterans Memorial Park, as city officials said that the application for the monument meets the criteria of city policy.

Protesters have held prayer rallies in the park, insisting that the monument not be erected.

One protester, Susie Collins, said the monument "is not the message of life and love, it is the message of death and decay."

Saudi Woman Is Arrested for Wearing Miniskirt; Saudi Women Need Man's Consent to Go Outside

A woman in Saudi Arabia -- who sparked outrage after sharing a video of herself wearing a miniskirt -- has been arrested for appearing in indecent clothing, the Euro News website reports today (July 18, 2017).

The social media star known as Khulood is seen walking around empty streets.

The video caused anger throughout Saudi Arabia, which has some of the world's strictest laws for women.

Women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to drive motor vehicles, and must also have permission from a male guardian to do things, including work and travel.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Suicide Bomber Kills 8 in Nigerian Mosque; Injures 15 Others in Boko Haram Territory

Eight people were killed today (July 17, 2017) when a female suicide bomber detonated her explosives at a mosque in northeast Nigeria, according to the AFP (Agence France-Presse) website.

The head of the Bomo state emergency management agency, Ahmed Satomi, said the blast happened at about 5:30 a.m. in the London Ciki area of Maiduguri, which has been at the epicenter of the Boko Haram Islamic terrorist group since 2009.

"She killed eight people and injured 15 others," Satomi said.

The mosque was being guarded by civilian JTF (Joint Task Force) militia during prayers, he added.

Afghan Forces Defeat Taliban in Strategic Area; Win Over Key Afghan Southern District of Nawa

In a victory battle that is certain to enhance the morale of American and Afghan troops, Afghan security forces -- backed by U.S. military advisers and air power -- have evicted Taliban insurgents from a strategically southern district, the VOA News website reports today (July 17, 2017).

The Afghan forces entered Nawa district in southern Helmand province early today and established government control over it.

U.S. airstrikes overnight against three Taliban bases in the area killed more than 20 insurgents, allowing Afghan forces to retake control of the area.

A search and cleaning operation is now underway in the district where insurgents have heavily mined areas around key installations.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Shocking Surge in Hate Crimes on UK Jews; Surged 44%, 2016 Is Worst Year on Record

Hate crimes targeting Jews escalated for the third straight year in the United Kingdom, reaching its worst level on record, the Christian Today website reports on July 16, 2017.

Antisemitic hate crime has surged 44 percent since 2014, making 2016 the worst year on record.

Almost half of police forces did not charge a single one of the antisemitic crimes reported to them.

Just 1.4 percent of antisemitic crime in the UK was prosecuted -- 15 cases -- last year.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Family of CRI Founder Asks CRI Pres. to Resign; "Bible Answer Man" Turned to Greek Orthodoxy

Family members of Dr. Walter Martin -- founder of the Christian Research Institute (CRI) -- are calling on current CRI president Hank Hanegraaff to step down, due to his conversion from evangelicalism to the Greek Orthodox faith, the Christian Post website reports today (July 14, 2017).

A majority of family members have signed a statement asking the "Bible Answer Man" to leave his leadership post.

Jill Martin Rische -- the eldest daughter of Dr. Martin -- said she and many other evangelical Christians were "shocked and surprised" when Hanegraaff formally converted in a Greek Orthodox Church in April. At that time, Hanegraaff said attending a Greek Orthodox Church service made him feel like he was in heaven.

Rische argued that Hanegraaff has since been teaching a blend of Eastern Orthodoxy and evangelical Christianity on the "Bible Answer Man" show, which she called "fundamentally dishonest."

Two Israeli Policemen Shot Dead in Jerusalem; Killed by Three Palestinians at Temple Mount

Three Palestinian assailants opened fire on Israeli police from inside a major Jerusalem holy site today (July 14, 2017), killing two officers before being shot dead, according to the Religion News website.

The sacred compound sits at the fault line of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and has triggered major confrontations in the past.

Israel today closed the site -- known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount -- for further weapons sweeps.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried to allay Muslim fears, saying that the status quo at the Muslim-administered site "will be preserved."

Thursday, July 13, 2017

New Poll:North Korea More Dangerous Than IS; 49% Favor Military Intervention in North Korea

A recent survey shows that U.S. voters regard North Korea as a greater threat to the U.S. than the Islamic State (IS), according to the UPI website.

The poll, conducted from July 7-9, shows 40 percent of 1,983 respondents regard North Korea as the country's greatest threat.

About 30 percent of the participants said the Islamic State poses the greatest threat, and 16 percent said Russia is the most dangerous nation to U.S. national security.

Nearly half, or 49 percent, of survey respondents said they support military intervention in North Korea.

Suicide Bomber Slams Explosives Car in Idlib; Scores Killed,Injured in Rebel-Held Syrian City

A suicide bomber rammed a car laden with explosives into a gathering of jihadist rebels near the rebel-held northwestern Syrian city of Idlib yesterday, killing and injuring scores of people, the VOA News website reports today (July 13, 2017).

Idlib province is dominated by Islamist jihadist groups, although there is a presence of moderate Free Syrian Army groups.

The Syrian province -- which borders Turkey -- has long witnessed infighting between the main jihadist groups vying for power.

Although opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad rule, insurgents are riven by deep divisions on ideology and rivalry that sometimes erupt in deadly clashes.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Pope Says Europe Must Be a Federal Community; Otherwise It Won't Count for Anything in World

Pope Francis has been reported as saying that Europe "must become a federal community or it will no longer count for anything in the world," the Christian Today website reports on July 12, 2017.

His comments were made in an interview with Eugenio Scalfari, the 93-year-old founder of the Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

Francis said he was afraid of "very dangerous alliances among [foreign] powers that have a distorted vision of the world: America and Russia, China and North Korea..."

The pope added: "The countries [of Europe] will act if they recognize one truth: either Europe becomes a federal community or it will no longer count for anything in the world."

Ohio Man Pleads Guilty to Terrorism Charges; Also Is Guilty of Trying to Kill a Federal Judge

An Ohio man has pleaded guilty to terrorism charges as well as trying to murder a federal judge, the Clarion Project website reports today (July 12, 2017).

Yahya Farooq Mohammad, 39, traveled to Yemen to deliver $22,000, equipment, and other assistance to Anwar Al-Awlaki, an American who was then head of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Mohammad also admitted to soliciting an undercover FBI employee who was posing as a hitman to kidnap and murder U.S. District Judge Jack Zouhary for $15,000.

Zouhary was assigned as the judge in his case.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

European Court Upholds Belgium's Full Veil Ban; Rejects Discriminatory Charge by Muslim Women

The European Court of Human Rights upheld Belgium's ban on the Islamic full-face veil today (July 11, 2017), rejecting a legal challenge by two Muslim women to wear the niqab, according to the Euro News website.

The court in Strasbourg, France found that the 2011 Belgian law banning clothing that covers the face was not discriminatory and did not violate freedom of religion.

The court argued that Belgium had the right to enforce this ban because it is "necessary in a democratic society" for the "protection of the rights and freedoms of others."

By wearing the full veil in public, women risk being fined and serving up to seven days in jail.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Pope: Bread Used for Eucharist Requires Gluten; Bread Made without Wheat Invalid for Eucharist

Pope Francis has decided that bread used to represent the Body of Christ in the Eucharist ceremonies must have gluten, the UPI website reports today (July 10, 2017).

A letter sent from Cardinal Robert Sarah of the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments reminded bishops of the need to have wheat in the ceremonial bread.

"The bread used in the celebration of the Most Holy Eucharistic Sacrifice must be unleavened, purely of wheat..." Sarah wrote.

He added that bread made from another substance different from wheat is not valid for the Eucharistic Sacrament.

Anti-Semitic Graffiti Spray Painted in Denver; "Hitler Was Right" Painted on Colo. Highway

Anti-Semitic graffiti was spray painted on a highway underpass near a high school in a Denver suburb, the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) website reports today (July 10, 2017).

"Build that wall" and "Hitler was right" were painted next to a drawing of a swastika near a high school in Highlands Ranch, Colorado.

The graffiti is the sixth anti-Semitic incident in the metro-Denver area in recent months.

Anti-Defamation League Regional Director Scott Levin said "There is no place for such hateful, bigoted messages in our community."

Saturday, July 8, 2017

UNESCO: Hebron Is a Palestinian Heritage Site; PM Netanyahu Calls Action "Delusional Decision"

The Palestinians hailed a UNESCO decision yesterday to declare the Old City of Hebron an endangered Palestinian world heritage site, a move that sparked outrage from Israel and the U.S., the Times of Israel website reports today (July 8, 2017).

UNESCO's heritage committee voted 12 to three -- with six abstentions -- to give Palestinian heritage status to the Old City in the center of Hebron, home of the Tomb of the Patriarchs, revered as the burial place of the Jewish patriarchs and matriarchs.

Both the U.S. and Israel protested vigorously against the motion.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed UNESCO for "yet another delusional decision," and vowed to protect the site.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Trump Warns North Korea on Its Missile Tests; May Use Missile Strikes on Missile Facilities

U.S. President Donald Trump has used tough rhetoric in response to North Korea's missile tests, the Reuters website reports today (July 6, 2017).

U,S, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Pyongyang's test launch of an intercontinental missile on July 4 a global threat, as Alaska may now be within range.

Most options for countering North Korea fall into four categories: economic sanctions, covert action, diplomatic negotiations, and military force.

Trumps military options range from a sea blockade of North Korea to cruise missile strikes on nuclear and missile facilities to a broader campaign to overthrow North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Turkey's Erdogan Seizes Control of 50 Churches; Seizes Churches to Bring Sharia Law to Turkey

Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has seized control of 50 Syriac churches, the Christian Headlines website reports today (July 5, 2017).

Erdogan and his government are intentionally targeting Christian churches in their attempt to bring Sharia Law to Turkey.

Among the churches taken over by the government is the 1600-year-old Mor Gabriel Monastery -- one of the world's oldest places of worship.

Turkey -- a predominantly Islamic country -- has a long history of being hostile toward Christians.

Monday, July 3, 2017

France, Germany, Italy Discuss Migrant Crisis; EU Asks More Nations Open Ports to Migrants

Interior ministers from France, Germany, and Italy together with the European Union (EU) migration commissioner met in Paris this week to discuss Italy's migrant crisis, the Euro News website reports today (July 3, 2017).

Italy has threatened to block ships that have been transporting an "unsustainable" flow of migrants to its shores.

Italy has admitted more than 500,000 migrants since 2014, and the numbers are growing.

The EU wants other member states to allow migrant boats to dock in their ports in order to alleviate the growing pressure on Rome.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

German Pres. Denounces Growing Antisemitism; Claims Social Media Disseminates Jewish Hatred

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier this week denounced growing anti-Semitism in Germany,  the Jerusalem Post website reports today (July 1, 2017).

Speaking at the 100th anniversary of the Augsburg synagogue, the president noted that while most Germans stand against anti-Semitism, a growing trend of anti-Jewish hatred is being spread on social media, in part due to some Muslim immigrant groups.

"Social media often propagates the spread of hate and anti-Semitic provocation," he said.

Despite this, however, Steinmeier noted that, in comparison to France, Germany's Jews are staying put, rather than immigrating to Israel.

UN Chief:"Clear Understanding" for Cyprus Deal; Cyprus Peace Talks Will Continue All Next Week

A spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said today (July 1, 2017) there is now a "clear understanding" about what is needed to reach an agreement to reunify ethnically divided Cyprus, according to the Washington Post website.

Spokesman Stephane Dujarric said today that the recognition of the "essential elements" of a possible accord emerged from a meeting Guterres had with the rival sides during high-level peace talks in Geneva, Switzerland.

Guterres met yesterday with Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and breakaway Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci in an attempt to give the three-day-old talks a momentum boost.

He also met with diplomats from Cyprus' "guarantors" -- Britain, Greece and Turkey. Officials say that they are optimistic of achieving a peace deal, and that the negotiations in Geneva are likely to continue all next week.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Boko Haram Group Head Condemns Christians; Asserts Christians, Muslims Can't Live Together

The leader of the Nigerian Boko Haram terrorist group posted a video message this week in which he said that it is impossible for Muslims and Christians to live together peaceably, the Christian Headlines website reports today (June 30, 2017).

Boko Haram is responsible for the deaths of over 20,000 people.

The group's leader, Abubakar Shekau, said in the video that it is impossible for Muslims and Christians to work together.

He also called on Muslims to implement Sharia law, and said that non-Muslims could be allowed to exist if they "remain by the side without interference."

German Parliament Affirms Same-Sex Marriage; Merkel Hopes Vote Leads to "More Social Peace"

The German parliament today (June 30, 2017) passed legislation legalizing same-sex marriage after Chancellor Angela Merkel -- who voted against the measure -- encouraged her conservative Christian Democratic Party to vote their conscience, according to the UPI website.

Members of Germany's Bundestag voted 393 to 226 to pass the bill, and four people abstained.

Merkel voted no, saying "For me marriage as defined by the law is the marriage of a man and a woman."

She said she hoped a vote in favor would bring about "more social peace."

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Upstate NY Mikva Const. Site Hit with Swastikas; Vandalism Occurred in Bloomingburg in Catskills

A Jewish religious immersion pool under construction in a new ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of an upstate New York village was vandalized this week with graffiti and swastikas, the Times of Israel website reports today (June 29, 2017).

The vandalism at a mikvah in Bloomingburg, in the Catskills area, was discovered on June 25.

The new Satmar neighborhood was built to solve a housing shortage in the ultra-Orthodox community.

The local sheriff's office has opened an investigation into the anti-Semitic hate crime.

Turkey Schools Now Required to Have Mosques; Teachers Union Slams Prayer Rooms as Unconst.

Turkey's Education Ministry unveiled new regulations this week that require every new school in the country be outfitted with gender-separated Muslim prayer rooms, the Euro News website reports today (June 29, 2017).

The new regulations were published in the government's official newspaper and call for public and private schools under the purview of the government to also have an area for ritual washing before praying.

The prayer room will be required for Islamic worship, according to the new regulations, which the Labor Union of the Laborers of Education and Science decried as going against the Turkish constitution.

The teachers union accused the Turkish government -- led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan  -- of "abandoning secular, scientific and contemporary education" and replacing it with religious studies.

Iraq Declares the End of ISIS' Rule in Mosul; Iraqi Gen.:"Their Fictitious State Has Fallen"

The Iraqi government today (June 29, 2017) declared the end of ISIS' rule in Mosul after recapturing the terror group's de facto capital in the country, according to the Daily Beast website.

"Their fictitious state has fallen," said Iraqi military spokesman Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool.

The victory marks the end of more than eight months of all-out war in the city, where ISIS declared its caliphate three years ago. Thousands of civilians have been killed in the fighting.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is reported by Kurdish media outlets to be heading to Mosul to deliver a "victory speech."

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Australian Cardinal Charged with Sexual Assault; George Pell Top Cath. Cleric to Face Sex Charges

Police in the Australian state of Victoria said today (June 28, 2017) that Australia's senior Roman Catholic prelate -- and one of Pope Francis' top advisers -- has been charged with sexual assault, according to the NY Times website.

The prelate, Cardinal George Pell, became the highest-ranking Vatican official in recent years to face criminal charges involving accusations of sexual offenses.

"Cardinal Pell has been charged on summons, and he is required to appear at the Melbourne Magistrates' Court" on July 18, Shane Patton, the deputy police commissioner, said at a news conference.

The charges were served on the cardinal's legal representatives in Melbourne. Commissioner Patton said there were multiple complainants, but refused to provide further details about them, including their ages.

IS Radicals Decapitate Civilians in Philippines; Philip. Pres.:"Dogs of Hell" Trained in Mideast

Christians and other civilians trapped in Marawi City in the southern Philippines are being decapitated and used as sex slaves and human shields by an Islamic State (IS) affiliated terror group, the Christian Post website reports today (June 28, 2017).

Although the Maute group jihadists, who are aligned with IS and operating under its command, have been reduced to holding just a few blocks in the city, they have been carrying out horrific atrocities.

The terrorists are still holding some 100 Christian hostages, survivors who have escaped said.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who has called the IS invaders "dogs of hell," said most of the jihadists were trained in the Middle East and "brought the ideology back home and promised to declare war against humanity."

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Greek,Turkish Leaders of Cyprus Meet for Unity; UN Envoy: It's Best Chance for Unity Since 1974

Rival Cyprus leaders meet today (June 28, 2017) to resume efforts to solve one of the world's longest-running political crises in what the island's UN envoy billed as the "best chance" for peace, according to the AFP (Agence France-Presse) website.

The make-or-break talks in Geneva, Switzerland are geared towards ending the decades-old division of the island and striking a lasting deal between its Greek- and Turkish-speaking communities.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops seized the northern third of the island in response to an Athens-inspired coup seeking to unite Cyprus with Greece.

UN envoy Espen Barth Eide said today he was confident of the talks: "It's a unique opportunity because after all of these decades of division it is possible to solve," he told reporters in Geneva.

Trump Alerts Assad on Chemical Attack Plan; Says Assad to "Pay a Heavy Price" If He Does

The White House -- as a result of intelligence info -- today (June 27, 2017) accused the Syrian government of preparing a chemical weapons attack against rebels in that country's civil war, and warned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that it will "pay a heavy price" if such an attack is carried out, according to the UPI website.

A White House statement says: "As we have previously stated, the United States is in Syria to eliminate the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria."

The statement continues: "If, however, Mr. Assad conducts another mass murder attack using chemical weapons, he and his military will pay a heavy price."

The Syrian government launched a chemical weapons attack on April 4 that killed more than 80 civilians, including many children. Trump responded to that attack by firing 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian air force base.

Monday, June 26, 2017

High Court OKs Trump's Ban on Muslim States; Ends Lower Court Ruling,OKs Trump's Authority

The U.S. Supreme Court today (June 26, 2017) allowed the Trump administration to enforce its 90-day ban on travelers from six predominantly Muslim countries, overturning lower court orders that blocked the ban, according to the Yahoo News website.

The decision is a victory for President Donald Trump in the biggest legal controversy of his young presidency.

The justices will hear arguments in the case in the fall.

Several lower courts had ruled that the travel ban was illegal because it discriminated against Muslims, but the Supreme Court decided that by virtue of the office of President, Trump has the authority to issue such a ban in order to safeguard the national security of the United States.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Jewish Pilgrims Blocked from Joseph's Tomb; Need Prior Authorization to Enter Nablus Area

About 20 Jewish pilgrims were arrested today (June 25, 2017) as they tried to reach Joseph's Tomb in the West Bank town of Nablus, according to the Times of Israel website.

Nablus forbids Israelis entry without prior authorization with Israeli officials.

Four of the Israeli suspects managed to reach the tomb before they were arrested.

The rest of the group was intercepted on an approach road to Nablus by Israeli security forces.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

EU: Mostly Illegal Migrants Now Entering Italy; EU Plans to Cut Flow of African Illegal Migrants

European Union (EU) officials -- including EU Council President Donald Tusk -- have admitted most of the migrants coming from Africa into Italy are not legitimate refugees or asylum seekers, but illegal migrants, the Breitbart website reports today (June 24, 2017).

Tusk said that illegal migration had gone up 26 percent in Italy compared to last year.

He added the current EU policy was "not enough" and the Mediterranean route needed to be controlled, proposing the EU support the Libyan coastguard.

The EU also plans to work closer with Libya and other countries in north Africa in order to ease the return of illegal migrants.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Abbas to Kushner: I'll Keep Paying Terrorists; Says Israel Is Using Issue to Avoid Peace Talks

A meeting between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and White House official Jared Kushner left the Palestinian leader fuming and refusing to agree to demands that Ramallah cut off payments for convicted terrorists and their families, the Times of Israel website reports today (June 23, 2017).

Abbas accused the U.S. of taking Israel's side and refused a demand to stop paying salaries to several hundred prisoners serving time for the most serious crimes.

Kushner, who is U.S. President Donald Trump's son-in-law and chief Middle East adviser, met with Abbas in Ramallah on June 21.

Yesterday, Abbas defended payments to Palestinian prisoners as a "social responsibility," and said Israel was using the issue as a pretext to avoid peace talks.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Study:Attending Church Helps One Live Longer; Non-Attendants More Likely to Die Prematurely

A new study has found that church attendance is good for your health, as those who attend services experience less stress and enjoy longer lives, the Christian Headlines website reports today (June 22, 2017).

Vanderbilt University professor and Baptist minister Marino Bruce spearheaded the study, alongside Keith Norris, a professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

Bruce said, "We found in our study that attending church is actually good for your health, particularly for those who are between the ages of 40 and 65."

He added, "For those who did not attend church at all, they were twice as likely to die prematurely than those who attended church at some point over the last year."

IS Destroys Mosul's 845-Year-Old Great Mosque; Does So Since Iraqi Forces about to Take It Over

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has destroyed Mosul's al-Hadba minaret and the 845-year-old Great Mosque of al-Nuri, or Noor mosque, where leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is believed to have declared the "caliphate" in 2014, the UPI website reports today (June 22, 2017).

U.S. Army Col. Ryan Dillon. the spokesman for the coalition battling the IS group, said, "This act of ISIS desperation clearly shows how close the Iraqi security forces are to victory in Mosul."

A coalition official said the Islamic State destroyed the mosque and the minaret because Iraqi forces were closing in on the structure.

"This is a crime against the people of Mosul and all of Iraq, and is an example of why this brutal organization [ISIS] must be annihilated," U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Joseph Martin said.

Car Bomb Explosion Kills Dozens in Afghanistan; Occurred Near Bank Where Many Waited for Pay

A car bomb explosion in the southern Afghan province of Helmand today (June 22, 2017) left dozens of people dead and several others wounded, according to the Euro News website.

The device went off outside a bank in Lashkar Gah where civilians and members of the security forces were waiting to collect their pay.

There has been no claim for responsibility but insurgent groups -- including the Taliban -- have in the past targeted banks where police, soldiers, and other government employees pick up their wages.

It's the latest in a series of recent attacks in the nation, illustrating a steadily worsening security situation across Afghanistan.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Pope to Excommunicate Mafia Convicted Cath.; Will End Friendship of Church to Mafia Figures

Pope Francis has told the Vatican commission to work on a new process for excommunicating Catholics convicted of corruption or mafia-related crimes, the Christian Today website reports.

The move against the mafia marks a step change in Vatican policy, in which involvement in organized crime becomes literally unpardonable because it is a way of life rather than a single sin.

Excommunicated Catholics cannot take communion or be married in church.

Organized crime is entrenched in Italy and in several South American countries. Francis has been severely critical of the closeness of the Church to mafia figures, which sees children named after mobster godfathers and religious processions stopping outside the homes of mob bosses as a form of respect.

Swastikas Painted inside a Jerusalem Synagogue; Vandals Also Tried to Burn Synagogue Rel. Books

Swastikas were discovered painted on the walls of  a synagogue in central Jerusalem today (June 21, 2017), according to the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) website.

The vandalism was discovered in the Hasidic Lelov synagogue in the Nachalot neighborhood. Swastikas were also painted on the outside walls of nearby apartment buildings.

Police said the vandals also attempted to set fire to religious books in the synagogue.

Swastika attacks on synagogues in Israel are rare.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Poland Refuses to Accept Any More Migrants; Will Block Them to Reduce Islamic Terrorism

Despite the threat of sanctions from the European Union (EU), the Polish government has decided to not allow any more Muslim migrants into its country to help reduce the risk of radical Islamic terrorism, the CNS News website reports today (June 20, 2017).

"We, Poland, are learning from the mistakes of others... and we will not open our doors to Islamic migrants," said Ryszard Czarnecki, the Polish European Parliament deputy, in early June after the terrorist attack in Manchester, England on May 22.

Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic have refused to take in their designated share of some 160,000 migrants, who apparently are overloading Italy and Greece.

The EU could take the three defiant nations to the European Court of Justice, which could impose heavy financial fines on them.

Jewish Deli in Chicago Area Hit with Hate Crime; Message "Free Gaza" Spray-Painted Outside Deli

A popular Jewish deli in suburban Chicago was vandalized in what is being investigated as a hate crime, the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) website reports today (June 20, 2017).

The message "Free Gaza" was spray-painted on the sidewalk outside the Shmaltz Deli in Naperville, Illinois on June 18.

"The reason they left it [the message] there, obviously painted it there, is because it is a Jewish deli," Naperville Police Commander Lou Cammiso said.

Deli owner Howard Bender cleaned the graffiti and hung a sign where the words were spray-painted reading "Hate Has No Home Here."

Monday, June 19, 2017

Alabama Man Arrested for Terrorism Support; Aziz Sayyed,22, Also Being Investigated by FBI

A 22-year-old man from Huntsville, Alabama was arrested by local authorities on charges of soliciting or providing support for an act of terrorism, the Clarion Project website reports today (June 19, 2017).

Aziz Sayyed, who is a U.S. citizen born in North Carolina, is also being investigated by the FBI.

Details in the case were not released, but Roger Stanton, the FBI special agent in charge, said, "We successfully mitigated a threat today with this arrest."

The arrest came as a direct result of a tip given to police, said Huntsville Police Department Chief Mark McMurray.

Man Plows Van into Crowd by London Mosque; Kills One,Wounds 10,Tried to "Kill All Muslims"

A man arrested after a van plowed into a crowd of worshipers near a mosque in north London today (June 19, 2017) is now being held on suspicion of terrorism, according to the CNN website.

One man died and 10 people were injured in the assault.

The 47-year-old white man was wrestled to the ground by members of the public and then arrested at the scene. The man shouted he wanted to "kill all Muslims."

British Prime Minister Theresa May said the attack was directed at Muslims and condemned it as "every bit as sickening" as deadly Islamist attacks that hit the country in recent months.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

US Blasts Syrian Govt. Jet for Bombing Rebels; US to Syria:Won't Tolerate Attacks on US Allies

Despite having Russian support in the seventh year of its civil war, the Syrian government now knows it cannot intimidate America, as the  U.S. Navy shot down a Syrian government fighter jet today (June 18, 2017) in retaliation for dropping bombs on U.S.-backed rebels, according to the UPI website.

The U.S. attack on the Syrian government occurred near Raqqa, the defacto capital for ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) which is battling both the Syrian government and the U.S.-led coalition within the country.

The U.S. explained its attack on the Syrian government in a statement, saying Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces attacked members of the Syrian Democratic Forces, a loose coalition of Syrian Kurds and Arabs backed by the U.S.

"The demonstrated hostile intent and actions of pro-regime forces toward Coalition and partner forces in Syria conducting legitimate counter-ISIS operations will not be tolerated," the U.S. statement said.

Bombing at Mall in Colombia Kills 3, Wounds 9; Mayor of Bogota Calls It Cowardly Terrorist Act

A strong explosion yesterday from a bomb rocked one of the busiest shopping centers in Colombia's capital, Bogota, killing three people, including a 23-year-old French woman, and injuring nine others, the Yahoo News website reports today (June 18, 2017).

Witnesses told of being evacuated from movie theaters and stores after the blast in a second-floor women's restroom at the upscale Centro  Andino in the heart of Bogota's tourist district.

Ambulances and firetrucks rushed to the scene and the injured were taken to a hospital, where two later died.

Police said a bomb from an undetermined explosive had caused the destruction. Bogota Mayor Enrique Penalosa called it a "cowardly terrorist bombing."

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Radical Islam Fuels Extremist Views in Sweden; IS Propaganda Is Major Factor for New Upsurge

The Swedish security service SAPO says the number of people in Sweden with extremist views has grown to several thousands, mainly among people with sympathies for radical Islam, the Fox News website reports today (June 17, 2017).

SAPO's head, Anders Thornberg, says, "We have never seen anything like it" and propaganda from the Islamic State [IS] group was a key factor.

He also says the figure was in the hundreds a few years ago, and it was "a historic challenge with extremist environments growing."

Thornberg told Sweden's news agency TT Friday that SAPO gets about 6,000 pieces of intelligence every month, up from 2,000 five years ago. He didn't go into specifics.

Germany's 1st "Liberal Mosque" Opens in Berlin; By a Feminist Opposed to Male-Dominated Islam

Germany's first "liberal mosque" has opened inside a Protestant church it is renting in Berlin, the RT (Russia Today) website reports today (June 17, 2017).

"Fundamentally, the mosque's door is open to everyone, with one exception: No one will come in with a niqab or burka," organizer Seyran Ates, who moved to Germany from Turkey when she was six years old, said.

Banning the headwear often worn by females in the Muslim community isn't the only modern-day twist being brought to the Ibn Rushd-Goethe mosque, which is named after Islamic philosopher Ibn Rushd and iconic German author Johann Wolfgand von Goethe. According to Ates, men and women will be allowed to pray and preach together, rather than separately. Members of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) community will also be welcomed.

Ates, a feminist, peace activist, and lawyer, said she felt it was "ultimately irresponsible" for a progressive Muslim woman like herself to simply complain about conservative Islamic organizations, rather than start her own mosque. She admitted she received some "very violent and obscene" threats for opening the liberal mosque, which prompted her to request police protection.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Israeli Policewoman Stabbed Dead in Jerusalem; Old City Crowded with Muslims during Ramadan

Israeli police shot dead three Palestinians today (June 16, 2017) after a deadly knife attack outside the Old City of Jerusalem, in which a policewoman died, according to the BBC website.

Two of the Palestinians attacked police officers with guns and knives while the third stabbed the policewoman, police say.

The Old City has been crowded currently with tens of thousands of Muslim worshipers during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

The dead policewoman has been identified as Hadas Malka, 23 years old.

Trump Briefs New Cuba Policy in Miami Speech; Limits US Travel,Business to Help End Tyranny

President Donald Trump told cheering Cuban-Americans in Miami, Florida today (June 16, 2017) that his new restrictions on U.S. travel to and business dealings with Cuba will help bring down the communist regime that has oppressed its people for more than a half-century, according to the USA Today website.

"With God's help, a free Cuba is what we will soon achieve," Trump said in unveiling plans that reverse some of the revamped Cuba policies made by predecessor, President Barack Obama.

The current Cuban regime has been in place since 1959 and weathered a U.S. economic embargo from 1962 to last year, when most of the restrictions were lifted.

While banning individual self-directed travel to Cuba, trips for specific educational, government, religious, and social purposes will still be permitted. Also, the two nations will still have opened embassies in their capital cities, as they will retain diplomatic relations.

Israeli PM Honors Greek Jews Lost in Holocaust; Leads Holocaust Museum Ceremony in Salonika

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday honored the Greek Jewish community lost during the Holocaust at the dedication of a site to build a Holocaust museum in Salonika, Greece's second largest city, the Times of Israel website reports today (June 16, 2017).

Netanyahu, who is in Greece for a tripartite summit with that country and Cyprus, attended the dedication with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, as well as the son and daughter of Moshe Ha-Elion, 93, a Greek Holocaust survivor who this year lit a torch at the national ceremony for Holocaust memorial day.

Netanyahu, accompanied by his wife, Sarah, praised Israeli ties with Greece and Cyprus, calling the three countries "the real democracies in the Mediterranean basin."

The countries signed several joint statements, including dealing with energy and cultural exchanges, during the two days of meetings.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

DC Police Issue Warrants for 12 Turkish Thugs; Erdogan's Guards Attacked Peaceful Protesters

The Washington, D.C. Metro police department today (June 15, 2017) issued arrest warrants for 12 members of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's security detail who brutally beat several peaceful protesters outside the Turkish embassy's residence last month, according to the Daily Caller website.

Speaking at a press conference, Metro Police Chief Peter Newsham listed by name 12 members of the security detail and four private citizens allegedly involved in the attacks, which occurred on May 16 and left nine protesters injured.

Nine suspects are Turkish security officers. Three others are Turkish national police. Two men are Canadian citizens, and two others are Turkish-American.

"If they attempt to enter the United States, they will be arrested," Newsham said of the Turkish security detail. Yesterday, two Turkish-American supporters of Erdogan were arrested in connection with the savage beatings, which included knocking peacefully protesting women protesters to the ground and kicking them in the head.

Anti-Semitic Hate Crimes Are on the Rise in UK; Fires Set on 2 Jewish Restaurants in Manchester

Police are investigating two arson attacks on kosher restaurants in Manchester, England, as a Jewish charity says anti-Semitic hate crime is on the rise in the UK, The Guardian website reports today (June 15, 2017).

Detectives have released CCTV images of the arsonists, who attacked two restaurants in Prestwich, a Jewish area of north Manchester, earlier this month.

Ta'am restaurant on Bury New Road was firebombed shortly before midnight on June 2 when two men approached and threw a milk carton filled with petrol and a lit rag at the premises.

In the early hours of June 6, JS Restaurant on King's Road was targeted. The offenders forced open a window before pouring accelerant inside and lighting it. Police believe the attacks are linked and are treating them as anti-Semitic hate crimes.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Trump Gives Mattis OK for More Afghan Troops; Defense Sec.Plans Thousands More to Defeat Mil.

President Trump has given Defense Secretary Jim Mattis the authority to determine troop levels in Afghanistan, thus opening the door for sending more American forces to a war that the Pentagon chief acknowledged the United States was "not winning," the NY Times website reports today (June 14, 2017).

Mattis favors sending several thousand more American troops to strengthen the effort to advise Afghan forces as they push back against gains made by the Taliban, the Islamic State (IS), and other militant groups.

But officials said he had not yet decided how many  more forces to send to Afghanistan, or when to deploy them.

While testifying yesterday to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Mattis promised Congress that the Trump administration would develop a new strategy for Afghanistan by mid-July to turn around the war.

Mayor of Rome Pushes to Halt Migrant Arrivals; Says Rome under Much Pressure from Migrants

Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi has written to the interior ministry asking for the Italian capital to be removed from the list of migrants being sent there, the Euro News website reports today (June 14, 2017).

More than half a million migrants have reached Italy by boat from North Africa since 2014.

The mayor emphasized that Rome is under strong pressure from migration and that it can't go on.

Only around a third of Italy's 8,000 city governments have offered to shelter asylum seekers.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Southern Baptist Membership Continues to Fall; Have Lost a Million Members in the Past Decade

Membership in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) declined for the 10th straight year, while baptisms dropped to the lowest level in 70 years, according to statistics released in advance of the 2017 SBC annual June 13-14 meeting in Phoenix, the Baptist News website reports today (June 13, 2017).

The latest LifeWay Christian Resources Annual Church Profile reports a combined membership of 47,272 churches at 15,216,978 for the church year in 2016.

That's a loss of 77,786 members from 2015, about half a percent. Between 2014 and 2015Southern Baptists lost 204,409 members and 236,467 the year before.

Today there are one million fewer Southern Baptists than there were a decade ago.

Policewoman Shot in Munich Fights for Her Life; Was Shot in the Head by a Man at a Train Station

A policewoman is fighting for her life today (June 13, 2017) after being shot in the head at a train station near Munich, Germany, according to the Euro News website.

She suffered "life-threatening injuries" after a man -- who had been stopped for a security check -- seized a gun from one of her colleagues.

The man, 37, had grabbed the weapon after pushing a policeman on the platform as a train was entering the station.

Police say the man was arrested and the incident was not terrorism.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Venice Bans New Hotels in Tourist Crackdown; Pushes to Limit No. of Tourists, Over 60K Daily

As part of a continued effort to protect the famous canal city from runaway tourism, authorities in the Italian city of Venice said they will prevent a new holiday accommodation from opening in the city's center, the Telegraph (British) website reports today (June 12, 2017).

Massimiliano De Martin, Venice's councilor for urban planning, submitted the plan to the mayor's office and described the measure as essential "for the protection of the city."

He said hotels were taking over residential buildings in Venice, pushing locals out and "running the risk of impoverishing the city's social fabric."

Some 22 million tourists visit Venice annually; that's more than 60,000 a day, which is greater than the population of the city.

US Rabbis, Cantors Call for Palestinian State; 1800 Address Letter to Israeli PM Netanyahu

A letter calling on Israel to end the military occupation of the West Bank and lay the groundwork for a Palestinian state was delivered on behalf of 1,800 American rabbis and cantors to the Israeli embassy in Washington, DC, the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) website reports today (June 12, 2017).

The letter addressed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was written on behalf of the members of Truah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights. It was delivered on June 9, the day 50 years ago that the Six-Day War ended.

The letter said that the Truah members are rabbis and cantors "who hold deep love for the State of Israel, and who believe that the vision of the Hebrew prophets, cited in Israel's Declaration of Independence, for a homeland committed to peace and justice, represents the most powerful guarantee of Israel's future."

The letter continues: "As we approach the fiftieth anniversary of the Six-Day War, we celebrate the extraordinary victory that enabled Israel's survival, and granted the Jewish people sovereignty over our holiest sites. We also recognize that this victory inaugurated fifty years of occupation that has infringed on the human rights of Palestinians, left too many Israelis and Palestinians dead or injured, and continues to threaten Israel's long-term survival."

Sunday, June 11, 2017

IS Gunmen Kill 3 Policemen in Pakistan Today; Shot Police While Riding Motorcycle in Quetta

Gunmen riding a motorcycle killed three policemen at a checkpoint in southwest Pakistan today (June 11, 2017) before fleeing the scene, in an attack claimed by a local affiliate of the Islamic State (IS) group, according to the AFP (Agence France-Presse) website.

The incident occurred in the Pakistani city of Quetta.

Quetta is the capital of Pakistan's mineral-rich Balochistan province, which borders Iran and Afghanistan.

Pakistan has been battling Islamist insurgencies in the province since 2004, with hundreds of soldiers and militants killed in the fighting.

Pope Gets Tough with Defiant Nigerian Priests; Will Fire Priests Who Do Not Obey Him, Bishop

In a rarely used self-righteous display of the power he holds by virtue of his position, Pope Francis has laid down an ultimatum to defiant Nigerian priests: lose your job if you don't obey me and your bishop, the ABC News website reports today (June 11, 2017).

Francis met June 8 at the Vatican with a delegation from the Ahiara diocese, where priests have been refusing to accept the 2012 appointment by the then pontiff, Benedict XVI, of the local bishop.

Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, reporting the pope's unusual harsh order, said today that Francis was acting "for the good of the people of God" by threatening to suspend the priests from the ministry if they didn't pledge in a letter, by July 9, "total obedience" to Francis and accept Bishop Peter Okpaleke's appointment.

Francis told the visiting delegation he was "very sad" about the priests' refusal to obey and ruled out tribal loyalties as explaining the refusal.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

US Forces Join Fight against IS in S. Philippines; Assisting Local Troops to Recapture Marawi City

Special Operations Forces from the U.S. are helping the Philippine military kick ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) militants out of a southern town, the Slate website reports today (June 10, 2017).

The Philippine troops are having a hard time ending the three-week siege of Marawi City in the southern Philippines, where some 200 IS militants have taken positions in a corner of the town where an estimated 500 to 1,000 civilians are trapped.

The Philippine military emphasized the U.S. is providing technical assistance, and not boots on the ground, in the country.

The U.S. in the Philippine fight of IS comes just a few months after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to kick U.S. military personnel out of the country after the U.S. criticized him for killing thousands of drug addicts.

Afghan Soldier Turns Rifle on US Troops,Kills 3; Taliban Is Responsible, Infiltrated Afghan Army

An Afghan army soldier turned his weapon on U.S. servicemembers today (June 10, 2017), killing three Americans and wounding another in eastern Afghanistan, according to the USA Today website.

The Afghan soldier was killed during the attack, said Attahullah Khogyani, spokesman for the provincial governor in Nangarhar province.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the shooting in a statement by spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid, who said a person loyal to the terror group infiltrated the Afghan army "just to attack foreign forces."

The attack occurred in Achin district, where U.S. special forces have been fighting alongside Afghan troops against Islamic State (IS) and Taliban militants.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Pence Presents Support for Cyprus Peace Talks; Hosts Cyprus Pres. at White House, Seeks Unity

Vice President Mike Pence said yesterday that the United States supports peace talks on Cyprus aimed at reunifying the divided Mediterranean island, the VOA (Voice of America) News website reports today (January 9, 2017).

Pence hosted Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades at the White House yesterday. Pence expressed hope that Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders "will agree to a settlement that would reunify Cyprus as a bizonal, bicommunal federation to the benefit of all Cypriots."

Pence also thanked Cyprus for its support for the Middle East peace talks and the fight against the Islamic State (IS).

Cyprus has been split between a Greek Cypriot south and a Turkish Cypriot north since 1974, when Turkey invaded the island in response to a failed coup by Greek troops aimed at unifying the independent island with Greece. The south is recognized as the sole Cypriot government, while only Turkey recognizes a separate Turkish Cypriot north.

Polanski's Sex Victim Goes to Court to Back Him; Polanski Was Convicted of Raping Her at Age 13

The victim of Roman Polanski's sex assault 40 years ago is appealing directly to a judge today (June 9, 2017) to end the long-running case against the fugitive film director, according to the Newser website.

Samantha Geimer -- who was 13 years old at the time Polanski raped her -- is supporting Polanski's efforts to end the legal saga that limits his freedom. Today will be the first time she has appeared in Los Angeles Superior Court on his behalf, attorney Harland Braun says.

Polanski -- a Polish Jew -- has been a fugitive from justice since he fled to France in 1978 on the eve of sentencing for the crime of having unlawful sex with a minor.

His lawyers have been fighting for decades to end the case and lift an international arrest warrant.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Pope Calls on Christians to Call God "the Father;" Says "Our Father" Prayer Lets Man Speak to God

Pope Francis is urging Christians seeking to nurture their spirituality to embrace calling God "the Father" in favor of other honorifics, the Newsweek website reports today (June 8, 2017).

"Calling God by the name 'Father' is not something that can be taken for granted," the pope said.

Francis has sought to use his position to change the direction of the Catholic Church on divisive issues such as poverty, clergy reform, climate change, and divorce.

In his latest public address, Francis said the "Our Father" prayer underscores how man can speak directly to God, "who always watches us with love, and who surely won't abandon us."

Va. Man Guilty of Fighting for IS for 3 Months; Testified He Just Wanted to "Check Things Out"

A Virginia man, who joined the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria and Iraq for three months, was convicted yesterday of terrorism charges, despite his assertion that he was only there to "check things out," the Military Times website reports today (June 8, 2017).

The jury in U.S. District Court took only four hours to deliberate before convicting Mohamad Khweis, 27, of Alexandria, on all charges.

He faces 20 years or more in prison when he is sentenced in October.

At his trial, Khweis told the jurors he just wanted to see for himself what the Islamic State group was like. He added that after a few months, he realized it was not for him.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Sears Cancels "Free Palestine" Clothes from Site; Due to Feedback Opposing Pro-Palestine Designs

As a result of complaints by many customers, Sears has agreed to remove a line of clothing featuring the slogan "Free Palestine" from its website, the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) website reports today (June 7, 2017).

The clothing was offered for sale by another company, Spreadshirt Collection, and included tank tops, t-shirts, and hoodies featuring a variety of pro-Palestinian messages.

The designs included a clenched fist in the colors of the Palestinian flag and statements opposing the Israeli occupation.

A Sears spokesman said the apparel was pulled from the site based on feedback the company received.

Greek Police Smash Migrant Smuggling Ring; Sold Migrants Fake Passports to Ease Flights

Greek police have smashed a major migrant smuggling ring operating out of the country, the Euro News website reports today (June 7, 2017).

The organized criminal gang -- said to include six Afghans and a Sudanese -- is accused of helping migrants enter other EU (European Union) countries and Canada illegally.

Migrants trying to leave Greece are believed to have paid up to 16,000 euros for high quality travel and identity documents.

Ioanna Rotziokou, a spokeswoman for the Greek police, said: "The traffickers we've arrested provided irregular migrants with fake or stolen passports to facilitate their transfer by regular flights from airports."

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Montenegro Angers Russia by Joining NATO; Russia Plans to Retaliate against Montenegro

Montenegro -- a Balkan nation that had formerly been a state in the now-defunct Yugoslavia -- yesterday became the 29th member of the NATO military alliance at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., the Military Times website reports today (June 6, 2017).

Montenegro's decision to join NATO has enraged Russia, which sought to maintain a strong historic, political, and religious influence in its fellow Slavic, Eastern Orthodox Christian country it considers a special zone of interest.

Russia's Foreign Ministry said yesterday "Russia reserves the right to take counter-measures on the basics of reciprocity amid the Montenegrin authorities' hostile stance."

Bringing Montenegro into NATO further diminishes Russia's influence in southeast Europe, and hinders its ability to carry out aggression in the Middle East.

UN Sec.-Gen. Slams Israel on 1967 War Anniv.; "Occupation of Palestinian Territory" Must End

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres slammed Israel yesterday for what he called its "occupation of the Palestinian territory" on the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Six Day War, the Jewish Press website reports today (June 6, 2017).

In a statement last night, Guterres referred to the "displacement" of hundreds of thousands of "Palestinians and Syrians" but focused on what he said was a heavy humanitarian and development burden on "the Palestinian people."

He spoke of the generation after generation of those who he said have been "compelled to grow up and live in ever more crowded refugee camps, many in abject poverty, and with little or no prospect of a better life for their children."

Guterres made no mention of their own choices in the matter, the numerous rejections of peace proposals rejected by the Palestinian Authority leadership and the refusal by those living in camps who chose not to move out and make a better life for themselves elsewhere.

Monday, June 5, 2017

US Rep.:Radical Muslims at War with Christians; Calls on Americans to "Hunt Them,Kill Them All"

In response to the recent London Bridge terror attack, U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins (R-La.) has an extreme proposal: Kill anyone suspected of being an Islamic radical, the Mother Jones website reports today (June 5, 2017).

On his campaign Facebook page, Higgins, a former police officer, posted this message: "The free world... all of Christendom... is at war with Islamic horror. Not one penny of American treasure should be granted to any nation who harbors these heathen animals.

"Not a single radicalized Islamic suspect should be granted any measure of quarter. Their intended entry to the American homeland should be summarily denied.

"Every conceivable measure should be engaged to hunt them down. Hunt them, identify them, and kill them. Kill them all. For the sake of all that is good and righteous. Kill them all."

Four Arab Nations Cut Diplomatic Ties to Qatar; Accuse It of Supporting Regional Terror Groups

Saudi Arabia and three other Arab countries severed diplomatic ties to Qatar today (June 5, 2017) and moved to cut off land, sea, and air routes to the energy-rich nation that is home to a major U.S. military base, accusing it of supporting regional terror groups, according to the ABC News website.

Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates made no demands of Qatar as their decision plunged the international travel hub into chaos and ignited the biggest diplomatic crisis in the Persian Gulf since the 1991 war against Iraq.

Qatar -- which is the home to some 10,000 American troops -- criticized the move as a "violation of its sovereignty," and denied supporting terror groups.

The four countries began withdrawing their diplomatic staff  from Qatar as regional airlines announced they had suspended service to its capital, Doha.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Many Civilians Killed in Fleeing IS in Mosul; Dozens Lay on IS-Held Street Near Frontline

The bodies of dozens of Iraqi civilians killed in the past two days while fleeing an Islamic State-held neighborhood in Mosul lay on the street close to the frontline with Iraqi armed forces, the Reuters website reports today (June 4, 2017).

The dead bodies included men, women, and children.

Bags in which they had carried their belongings were strewn around the road leading out of the Zanjili district, still in the hands of the Islamic State in Mosul.

"Over the past two days, ISIS [Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] has been shooting people escaping this area," said Dave Eubank from the Free Burma Rangers Relief Association.

British PM Blasts Evil Ideology of Radical Islam; Seeks New Counterterrorism Measures to Lick It

British Prime Minister Theresa May today (June 4, 2017) condemned the "evil ideology of Islamist extremism" that she said drove the three terror attacks in Britain since March and called for tougher measures to combat terrorism, according to the Times of Israel website.

They are bound together by the single evil ideology of Islamist extremism that preaches hatred, sows division, and promotes sectarianism," the British prime minister said.

"It is an ideology that claims our Western values and freedom, democracy, and human rights are incompatible with the religion of Islam," she added.

Declaring that "enough is enough," the prime minister called for increased domestic counterterrorism measures. "We cannot and must not pretend that things can remain the same."

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Putin Vows to Dump NATO If Sweden Joins It; Views Sweden Membership as Threat to Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed deep opposition to the idea of Sweden joining NATO, calling its potential membership of the U.S.-led alliance a "threat" that would need to be "eliminated," the Newsweek website reports today (June 3, 2017).

"If Sweden joins NATO this will affect our relations in a negative way because we will consider that the infrastructure of the military bloc now approaches us from the Swedish side," Putin said.

"We will interpret that as an additional threat for Russia and we will think about how to eliminate this threat," he added.

Russian officials have treated NATO expansion near or at its borders as encroachment, rather than a desire by their smaller neighbors to deter Russian aggression, as it occurred in Ukraine in 2014, when Russia seized control of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula.

Six Killed as Van Hits Crowd on London Bridge; Terrorists Then Stab People at Borough Market

At least six people were killed and 20 patients were taken to area hospitals after London police responded tonight (June 3, 2017) to two terrorist incidents, as a van plowed into pedestrians on London Bridge and several stabbings occurred at Borough Market, according to the Yahoo News website.

United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed the incidents are "being treated as a potential act of terrorism."

London Mayor Sadig Khan also called it terrorism, saying, "The Metropolitan Police are responding to the horrific terrorist attack at London Bridge and Borough Market."

Police killed all three men who got out of the van and started stabbing people in Borough Market.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Putin Rips People Who Blame Russia for Hacks; Says They're Like Anti-Semites Who Blame Jews

Russian President Vladimir Putin today (June 2, 2017) lashed out at critics who are accusing his country of trying to interfere in the 2016 American presidential election by likening them to anti-Semites, according to the Raw Story website.

During an interview today in St. Petersburg, Russia, NBC's Megyn Kelly pointed out that all the digital fingerprints on the hacks in the 2016 election indicated Russian involvement -- but Putin grinned and dismissed it as an elaborate hoax.

"What fingerprints, or hooves prints, or horn prints? There are many specialists that can invent or fix it up," Putin said.

Putin then accused the Democratic supporters of Hillary Clinton of behaving like anti-Semites by blaming Russia for the 2016 election outcome. "It's like anti-Semitism -- the Jews are to blame..."

Rel. Split on Trump's Climate Accord Pullout; Many Oppose US Withdrawal, Others Back It

Christians, Jews, Muslims, and others reacted emotionally to President Trump's decision to withdraw the U.S. from the 2015 Paris climate change agreement, the Religion News website reports today (June 2, 2017).

While leaders of the religious left were critical of the move, conservatives were somewhat divided.

Many who welcomed other radical actions of the administration were concerned about the impact of the decision.

However, others -- skeptical that climate is changing or believing that God will take care of the planet -- praised Trump's withdrawal.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Turkey Wants No Conditions for Cyprus Unity; Greek Pres.Wants Turkey to Withdraw Troops

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said today (June 1, 2017) that Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots are ready to take part in a summit in Geneva to work out a peace accord reunifying ethnically divided Cyprus, as long as Greek Cypriots drop unacceptable "conditions," according to the Washington Post website. 

The island's Greek Cypriot president Nicos Anastasiades insists on first dealing with the issue of the withdrawal of Turkish troops that Greek Cypriots consider a threat.

More than 35,000 troops remain in the breakaway Turkish Cypriot north after Turkey's 1974 invasion that followed a failed coup by supporters of union with Greece.

Anastasiades has proposed that an international police force oversee post-reunification security, but the minority Turkish Cypriots see Turkish troops and military intervention rights accorded to Ankara as their only protection.

Trump Will Not Move US Embassy to Jerusalem; Breaks Campaign Promise, Upsets Many Israelis

U.S. President Donald Trump today (June 1, 2017) signed a waiver that delays for at least six months any plan to relocate the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, disappointing the Israeli government and failing to adhere to a key promise he made on the campaign trail throughout 2016, according to the Times of Israel website.

The White House said: "President Trump made his decision to maximize the chances of successfully negotiating a deal between Israel and the Palestinians, fulfilling his solemn obligation to defend America's national security interests..."

Trump made no public mention of the embassy during his visit last week to Israel. Before his arrival, several Israeli ministers led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, called on Washington to move the embassy -- a measure that would be seen as recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Trump's conversations with various Arab leaders since early in his presidency are believed to have influenced his decision to put the move of the embassy to Jerusalem on the back burner, since such a move would hinder the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

IS Fighters Seal Off Mosul Mosque in Last Stand; Close Streets by Mosque, Use Civilians as Shields

Islamic State (IS) militants have closed the streets around Mosul's Grand al-Nuri Mosque, residents said, in preparation for a final showdown in the battle over their last major stronghold in Iraq, the Reuters website reports today (May 31, 2017).

Dozens of fighters were seen by residents taking up positions in the past 48 hours around the medieval mosque.

Islamic State's black flag has been flying from the mosque since the militants captured Mosul -- Iraq's second largest city -- in July 2014.

The Iraqi troops' offensive to capture Mosul -- now in its eighth month -- has taken much more time than expected, as Islamic State is fighting in the middle of civilians and using them as human shields.

At Least 80 Killed,300 Wounded in Kabul Attack; Explosive-Filled Water Truck Hits Afghan Capital

A car bomb exploded during morning rush hour today (May 31, 2017) in Kabul's diplomatic district, killing at least 80 people and injuring more than 300 others, according to the UPI website.

Police said the blast -- described as "one of the biggest" to hit Afghanistan's capital -- occurred in Zanbaq Square, close to many government offices and foreign embassies.

"It was a car bomb near the German Embassy, but there are several other important compounds and offices near there too," said Kabul police spokesman Basir Mujahid.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack, which police said came from a water tanker truck packed with explosives.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Many US Synagogues End Annual Binding Dues; Congregants Pay by Ability,Synagogues Thriving

According to a new study by the UJA-Federation of New York, the number of non-Orthodox synagogues nationwide that have eliminated fixed annual dues has more than doubled in the past two years, the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) website reports today (May 30, 2017).

Instead of charging a set membership fee, these synagogues are telling congregants to pay what they want -- and they're succeeding.

The nearly 60 Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist synagogues that have stopped charging mandatory dues are just a minor percentage of the country's 1,500 or so Conservative and Reform synagogues.

On average, the synagogues reported increases in both membership and total revenue since they switched to the voluntary model. They join nearly 1,000 Chabad centers in North America that have always worked on the voluntary model.

IS Car Bombs Kill at Least 26 People in Baghdad; 1st Was Near Ice Cream Parlor, 2nd by Govt. Ctr.

The Islamic State (IS) says it was behind a car bomb attack outside a packed ice cream parlor in Baghdad early today (May 30, 2017) that killed at least 16 people, according to the Euro News website.

Some 75 more men, women, and children were injured in the blast, just after midnight.

A suicide bomber in a vehicle is believed to have caused the attack in the mainly Shi'ite Karrada district of Baghdad.

A few hours later, a second car bomb killed at least 10 people and wounded dozens more near a government office area in the Karkh district.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Exclusive: Trump to End Obama's Cuba Policies; Will State More Rigid Policies toward Cuba Soon

The Daily Caller website reports exclusively today (May 29, 2017) that President Donald Trump will soon announce a rollback of former President Barack Obama's policies toward Cuba.

The Daily Caller revealed that the policy change is due to behind-the-scenes efforts of Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Democratic New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, and Republican Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart.

Former President Obama enacted several Cuban policy changes, including opening travel to the communist nation, re-establishing diplomatic relations, and loosening restrictions on doing business with Cuba.

The Daily Caller reports that Trump will announce the policy changes soon in a June speech in Miami, where many Cuban Americans have settled and are strongly opposed to Cuba's communist dictatorship, which began in 1960.

UN Mediator:Cyprus "Very Close" to Unity Deal; Says Cyprus Closest to Unity Since Its 1974 Split

A United Nations official said today (May 29, 2017) that Cyprus remains "very, very close" to an agreement to reunite the ethnically-divided island despite a breakdown in talks last week, according to the ABC News website.

Espen Barth Eide, the U.N.'s special adviser on Cyprus, called off mediation efforts on May 26, following a disagreement between Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci on how the talks should proceed.

The two leaders also differ on the future of around 35,000 Turkish troops on the island.

But Eide said in Athens today that the talks until now had brought the prospect of federal reunification closer than ever since the island's Greek-Turkish division occurred in 1974.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Mattis: IS Strategy Has Shifted to "Annihilation;" US Will Now Kill IS Troops to Prevent Relocating

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis revealed today (May 28, 2017) that the U.S. has now shifted its military strategy against ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) from "attrition tactics" to "annihilation," according to the Newsmax website.

In an interview today on CBS News' "Face The Nation," Mattis said "our strategy right now is to accelerate the campaign against ISIS."

"We have already shifted from attrition tactics where we shove them from one position to another in Iraq and Syria, to annihilation tactics where we surround them [and destroy them]."

"Our intention is that the foreign fighters do not survive the fight to return home to North Africa, to Europe, to America, to Asia, to Africa -- we are not going to allow them to do so," he added. "We are going to stop them there and take apart the caliphate."

Israelis Rally to End Occupation of Arab Land; Israel Seized W.Bank,E.Jerusalem in 1967 War

Thousands of Israelis rallied yesterday in Tel Aviv in support of a Palestinian state ahead of the 50th anniversary of Israel's occupation of Palestinian land, the AFP (Agence France-Presse) website reports today (May 28, 2017).

Banners bearing the slogan "Two States, One Hope" featured in the demonstration organized by supporters of a Palestinian state, including the Israeli NGO Peace Now.

NGO head Avi Buskila said the rally was a protest against "the lack of hope being offered by a government perpetuating occupation, violence and racism."

In 1967, Israel seized the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan during the Six-Day War with neighboring Arab states.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Greek, Turkish Cypriots Link Arms for Unity; Both Sides Seek to Reunify the Divided Island

Dozens of Greek and Turkish Cypriots today (May 27, 2017) linked arms across a United Nations-controlled buffer zone cutting across ethnically divided Cyprus' capital of Nicosia to voice their support for a reunification agreement, according to the Washington Post website.

Beating drums, blowing whistles, and singing traditional Cypriot folk songs, the demonstrators said real peace lies in the hands of ordinary people from both sides of the divide as the Mediterranean island's reunification talks appear to be faltering.

Protesters said today's event was to remind politicians not to let ordinary people down. Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops seized control of the northern third of the island, which only Turkey recognizes.

Yesterday, a U.N. envoy called off mediation efforts with the island's Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci after failing to find "common ground" on convening a final summit for an overall reunification agreement.

Egypt Jets Eliminate IS Terrorist Camps in Libya; Respond to IS Bus Attack on Christians Yesterday

Egypt's air force launched strikes on suspected terrorist camps in Libya today (May 27, 2017) in retaliation for the deadly bus attack by Islamic State (IS) terrorists on Christians traveling to an Egyptian Christian monastery, according to the UPI website.

"The [air force] attack resulted in the complete destruction of the targets which included training and concentration areas of elements that participated in the planning and execution of the attack," an army statement said.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced on national TV that he had directed six strikes in the Libyan port city of Derna, along its western border.

"Egypt will never hesitate to strike terror camps anywhere... if it plans attacking Egypt whether inside or outside the country," Sisi said.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Ramadan Holy Month of Muslim Fasting Begins; Trump Accents Terrorism in Honoring Ramadan

President Donald Trump today (May 26, 2017) released a statement in honor of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting, with a message that focused on terrorism, according to the Huffington Post website.

"On behalf of the American people, I would like to wish all Muslims a joyful Ramadan," the president wrote.

He continued: "America will always stand with our partners against terrorism and the ideology that fuels it. During this month of Ramadan, let us be resolved to spare no measure so that we may ensure that future generations will be free of this scourge and able to worship and commune in peace."

Trump's statement diverged from Ramadan greetings released in previous years by President Barack Obama, who spoke about celebrating and honoring the contributions of Muslims to American society.

Gunmen Kill 26 on Two Buses, Truck in Egypt; Open Fire on Christians Heading to Monastery

Gunmen attacked two buses and a truck taking a group of Coptic Orthodox Christians to a monastery in southern Egypt today (May 26, 2017), killing at least 26 people and wounding 25 others, according to the Euro News website.

An Interior Ministry spokesman said the unidentified gunmen had arrived in three four-wheel-drive vehicles.

Masked men stopped the two buses and truck and opened fire on a road leading to the monastery of Saint Samuel the Confessor in Minya province, about 140 miles south of Cairo.

Security forces launched a hunt for the attackers, setting up dozens of checkpoints and patrols on the desert road.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Trump's Travel Order Going to Supreme Court; "Is Well within His Pres.Right to Keep US Safe"

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said today (May 25, 2017) that he will ask the Supreme Court to review an appeals court ruling that blocks President Donald Trump's executive order limiting travel to the U.S. from six predominantly Muslim countries, according to the VOA News website.

Sessions issued a statement saying, "President Trump's executive order is well within his lawful authority to keep the nation safe."

"The Department of Justice strongly disagrees with the decision of the divided court, which blocks the president's efforts to strengthen this country's national security..." the attorney general said.

Sessions was responding to a ruling earlier today by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, in which it declined to reinstate the three-month ban on most travelers from the six nations.

Pollard Loses Appeal to Abate Parole Conditions; Betrayed US by Selling Classified Papers to Israel

A federal appeals court has rejected convicted spy for Israel Jonathan Pollard's request to lift restrictive parole conditions, the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) website reports today (May 25, 2017).

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan issued the judgment yesterday, a week after hearing arguments.

The parole terms issued upon Pollard's release from a federal prison in November 2015 -- after he served 30 years of a life sentence -- require him to stay in his New York home from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.; to submit any computer he uses for inspection; and to wear a GPS-monitoring device at all times. The device means that Pollard -- who is an Orthodox Jew -- is forced to violate Shabbat observance, his lawyer argued.

Pollard, 62, also must remain in the U.S. for five years, despite his desire to move to Israel. Pollard betrayed the U.S. by selling hundreds of classified documents to Israeli officials in 1984 and 1985.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Duterte Declares Martial Law in S. Philippines; Due to Clashes between National Troops and IS

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law yesterday across the southern third of the Philippine Islands, after deadly clashes between security forces and militants linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group in a major city, the AFP (Agence France-Presse) website reports today (May 24, 2017).

The announcement, made by his spokesman at a press conference in Moscow where Duterte was on an official visit, fulfills a warning by the president that he would enforce military rule to quell security threats by ISIS.

Duterte placed all of the southern region of Mindanao -- which makes up about one-third of the country and is home to 20 million people -- under martial law, spokesman Ernesto Abella said in the nationally televised briefing.

The announcement of martial law came after security forces battled dozens of ISIS-linked gunmen in Marawi, a city of about 200,000 people in Mindanao. While the Philippines boasts of being the only predominantly Christian nation in all of Asia, about 20 percent of the population on the island of Mindanao is Muslim.

Pope and Trump Meet in Private at the Vatican; Vow to Fight for Life,Peace,Freedom of Worship

President Donald Trump and Pope Francis met today (May 24, 2017) at the Vatican where they spoke for 30 minutes in private, and vowed to fight together for life, peace, and freedom of worship, according to the Christian Post website.

"Honor of a lifetime to meet His Holiness Pope Francis. I leave the Vatican more determined than ever to pursue PEACE in our world," Trump posted on Twitter following the meeting.

Trump and the pope also spoke on the "promotion of peace in the world through political negotiation and interreligious dialogue," along with the need to protect Christian communities in the Middle East, which are suffering severely due to radical Islamic terrorists.

During their meeting, the pope presented Trump with a split medallion held together by an olive tree, symbolizing peace.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Conn. Imam Confined for Fraud to Be Deported; Found Guilty of Defrauding Immigration Papers

A Connecticut imam has been detained by U.S. immigration agents and faces deportation to Pakistan, the Fox News website reports today (May 23, 2017).

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said Hafiz Abdul Hannan, the leader of the Masjid Al-Islam mosque in New Haven, Conn. since 2013, was taken into custody at his home on May 19.

He was previously convicted of committing fraud in immigration documents and will remain in custody pending his removal from the U.S., said Shawn Neudauer, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman.

Hannan previously served as an Islamic chaplain for the Middlesex House of Correction in Billerica, Massachusetts. He was also the leader of the Islamic Society of Greater Lowell in Chelmsford, Massachusetts.

Trump, Abbas Call for Israeli-Arab Peace Talks; Trump "Truly Hopeful" for End of Decades Rift

President Donald Trump called for a breakthrough in Israeli-Palestinian relations after he met today (May 23, 2017) in Bethlehem with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, according to the UPI website.

Abbas announced he is ready to be Trump's partner in securing peace in the Middle East through establishment of a Palestinian state on land captured by Israel in 1967.

Trump said he was "truly hopeful" for an end to the decades-long conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, and added that goodwill from his visit would turn into peace talks.

"Peace is a choice we must make each day, and the United States is here to make that dream possible..." Trump asserted.

Monday, May 22, 2017

At Least 19 Killed in Terrorist Explosion in UK; 50 Concert Goers Injured in Manchester Arena

A deadly explosion at an Ariana Grande concert in England's Manchester Arena tonight (May 22, 2017) killed at least 19 people and sent thousands of terrified concert-goers running for the exits in what police are calling a terrorist attack, according to the USA Today website.

At least 50 others were injured in the attack. Grande was not injured. The Islamic State (IS) terror group is believed responsible for the explosion, based on its delighted online postings.

Witness Kiera Dawber tearfully said that there was a "massive, massive explosion" followed by a chaotic scene of screams, shouts, shoes, and handbags strewn about, and about 20 bodies on the floor of a hallway. "You could see straight off that they were just dead," Dawber said.

Eyewitnesses told local TV stations that the Grande concert was just wrapping up at about 10:35 p.m. local time, when at least one thunderous explosion could be heard. Manchester Arena holds 21,000 people.

Egypt Charges IS Suspects in Church Bombings; Involved in Suicide Bomb Attacks on 3 Churches

Public prosecutors in Egypt have referred 48 Islamic State (IS) terrorist suspects to military tribunal on suspicion of involvement in carrying out three separate suicide bombing attacks against Coptic Orthodox Christian churches, the Clarion Project website reports today (May 22, 2017).

The bombings were an attack against the Saint Peter and Saint Paul Church in Cairo on December 11, 2016 and against churches in Tanta and Alexandria on Palm Sunday 2017.

Of the 48 suspects, 31 are in police custody, leaving 17 as yet unaccounted for, according to the "Middle East Eye."

The suspects are accused of setting up IS cells in Cairo and the southern province of Qena.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

German, Afghan Die in Kabul, Finn Is Abducted; 20 Afghan Policemen Killed in Province of Zabul

A German aid worker and an Afghan guard were killed and a Finnish woman kidnapped as gunmen stormed an international guest house in Kabul last night, the AFP (Agence France-Presse) website reports today (May 21, 2017).

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack on the guest house run by Swedish charity Operation Mercy in the heart of the Afghan capital.

In further attacks roiling Afghanistan, 20 policemen were killed early today when Taliban fighters stormed their outposts in the southern province of Zabul, as the Islamic terrorists escalate their annual spring offensive.

The interior ministry confirmed the brazen Kabul attack, the latest in a series of recent assaults on aid workers in Afghanistan.

Trump:Terrorism Is Battle between Good, Evil; Tells Arabs Decent People of All Rel.Guard Life

Donald Trump said today (May 21, 2017) the struggle against violent extremism was a "battle between good and evil" as he urged countries in the Middle East to combat radicalization, according to the Independent (British) website.

In Saudi Arabia's grand King Abdulaziz Conference Center, leaders of 50 Arab and Islamic nations listened to Trump's first official speech to leaders abroad since his inauguration.

"This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects, or different civilizations," Trump told the Middle East leaders.

"This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life, and decent people of all religions who seek to protect it. This is a battle between good and evil."

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Russian Orth. Patriarch Rips Ukraine Rel. Plan; Law Ends Rel. Protection of an Aggressor State

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill has asked Pope Francis and other religious leaders to exert their influence against a proposal to amend Ukrainian laws to withdraw protection from religious bodies that are under the influence of an "aggressor state," the Catholic Culture website reports today (May 20, 2017).

Because Ukraine currently defines Russia as an aggressor state, Kirill said, the proposal would "threaten the constitutional rights of millions of Ukrainian believers," who are affiliated with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church subject to the jurisdiction of the Moscow patriarchate.

He warned that the measure, if passed, could lead to "a wave of violence and new seizures of churches" in Ukraine.

Most Ukrainians are Orthodox Christians, with about 31 percent belonging to the Kiev Patriarchate, 26 percent belonging to the Moscow Patriarchate, and 2 percent being members of the Ukrainian Autocephalous (self-governing) Orthodox Church.

Some Canadian Churches Being Hit via Taxes; Montreal Taxing Rooms Not Used for Worship

Although churches in Montreal, Canada have traditionally been exempt from paying taxes, the Montreal Council has decided that only rooms that are used for worship are exempt, according to the Christian Today website.

This means other spaces in a church are liable for tax -- even if they are being used for good works in the community, such as food banks.

Also, if a church building closes down for worship, it is immediately liable to be taxed.

In criticizing the church tax, Montreal Councilor Peter McQueen said: "If we don't do something, you're going to see churches closed, churches possibly torn down, heaven forbid, certainly converted away from community use."

Friday, May 19, 2017

Car Bombings in Baghdad Kill 11, Wound 20; First Attack Hits Police Area, 2nd Busy Street

Two car bombings in southwestern Baghdad tonight killed 11 people -- including four police officers -- and wounded at least 20 more, the Newsmax website reports today (May 19, 2017).

Officials say the first attack targeted a police checkpoint. Moments later, the second blast hit a nearby street crowded with civilians.

No group immediately claimed responsibility, but the attacks bore the hallmarks of the Islamic State (IS) group, which has claimed similar bombings in the past.

The bombings come as Iraqi forces are slowly moving in on the last neighborhoods held by the Islamic State group in Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city.

US May Keep Some 20K Troops in Post-IS Iraq; Will Assure Iraqi Forces Ensure Security in Iraq

The former head of the Pentagon's policy shop said yesterday that the U.S. may need to keep as many as 20,000 troops and other military personnel in Iraq -- even after the Islamic State is driven out -- to stabilize the country, the Washington Times website reports today (May 19, 2017).

A postwar force of between 4,000 and 8,000 American troops "is probably sufficient" to help local security forces ensure security in Iraq as ISIS [Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] faces defeat in its final stronghold in Mosul, Eric Edelman, the Pentagon's top policy official during the George W. Bush administration said.

The U.S. forces would likely be deployed as advisers -- not combat troops -- to support Iraq's police and military forces, he said.

"We are dealing with an ISIS that is severely, severely weakened" after nearly two years of constant war against U.S.-backed Iraq and Kurdish forces," said Edelman, who is now a senior fellow at a Washington, D.C. defense think tank.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

US Complains to Turkey Over Embassy Cruelty; McCain: Throw Turkish Ambassador Out of US

The U.S. today (May 18, 2017) made a complaint to Turkey after violence erupted yesterday between peaceful protesters outside the Turkish embassy in Washington, D.C. and Turkish security personnel armed with guns, according to the BBC website.

Two people were arrested and 11 were injured during Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's visit to the U.S.

U.S. Senator John McCain -- furious by the savage brutality shown by the Turkish security personnel -- today called for the Turkish ambassador to be expelled. "We should throw their ambassador the hell out of the United States of America," McCain said.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce sent letters to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urging them to take action over the unnecessary brutal attacks by the Turkish security personnel (on supporters of Kurdish troops fighting the Islamic State terror group in Syria).

Thousands Strike In Greece against Pay Cuts; Parliament May Cut Pensions to Allow Loans

Hundreds of Greek pensioners braved torrential rain in Athens today (May 18, 2017) to express their anger at the latest planned cuts to their incomes, according to the Euro News website.

More demonstrators were expected, with parliament due to vote on a new austerity package -- part of an agreement with international creditors in order to secure the next bailout installment.

Yesterday saw a general strike as thousands of Greeks walked off their jobs and marched through the center of Athens.

Parliament is expected to vote in favor of the plan which would lower pensions and raise taxes by nearly five billion euros. In return, seven billion euros of loans would be released to Greece.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Erdogan's Bodyguards Hit Kurd Backers in DC; Turkish Pres. Opposed to Arming Kurd Troops

The city of Washington today (May 17, 2017) condemned a "brutal attack of peaceful protesters" after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's bodyguards attacked pro-Kurdish demonstrators, according to the AFP (Agence France-Presse) website.

Two people were arrested and 11 were injured -- including a police officer -- amid demonstrations yesterday as Erdogan held meetings in the U.S. capital after visiting President Donald Trump. Erdogan told Trump that he is adamantly opposed to the U.S. arms that are being sent to Kurdish troops in Syria to fight the Islamic State (IS).

Witnesses told AFP that members of Erdogan's security detail pushed past Washington police outside the Turkish ambassador's residence and attacked a group of Kurdish supporters.

Video footage shows a group of men in suits punching and kicking the protesters -- including a woman lying on the ground -- as police try to contain the clash.

IS Terrorists Attack Afghan TV/Radio Offices; Kill 1, Wound 16, Increasing Afghan Terrorism

Islamic State (IS) suicide bombers today (May 17, 2017) attacked Afghanistan's national radio and television station in Jalalabad, according to the UPI website.

Three militants stormed the compound housing Radio Television Afghanistan in the eastern Afghan city, and two of the suicide bombers blew themselves up.

A TV employee died and 16 were injured in the attack, a local hospital director confirmed.

IS and Taliban militants have been increasing deadly terrorist activities in Jalalabad -- which is near Afghanistan's border with Pakistan -- as well as other Afghan regions in recent months.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Former Chief Rabbi of Israel Convicted of Fraud; Stole Millions of Govt. Shekels for Civil Servants

A former chief rabbi of Israel was convicted of fraud yesterday for his part in a bonus-scam that swindled hundreds of millions of shekels from the government in civil servants' wages, the Times of Israel website reports today (May 16, 2017).

The Jerusalem District Court found Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron guilty of fraud offenses including fraud in aggravated circumstances, falsifying documents, and breach of trust. His court sentencing will occur at a later date.

He is the second former chief rabbi to be convicted of fraud this year after former Ashkenazi chief rabbi Yona Metzger pleaded guilty to fraud, theft, conspiracy, breach of trust, money laundering, tax offenses, and accepting bribes involving some NIS 10 million ($2.6 million) under a plea bargain.

Metzger is currently serving a 3.5-year prison sentence at Ma'asiyahu Prison in the central Israeli town of Ramle.

UN Slams North Korea's Ballistic Missile Testing; Says It Violates UN Resolutions,Threatens Peace

The United Nations Security Council has condemned North Korea's ballistic missile testing in recent months as a "threat to peace," the Euro News website reports today (May 16, 2017).

The secretive communist regime launched a medium-range rocket on May 14, which was deemed by some to have been a sinister message to South Korea after its new president took office.

Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN Secretary General, said: "This action is in violation of Security Council resolutions and a threat to peace and security in the region."

He added: "The secretary general calls on DPRK to ensure full compliance with its international obligations and return to the path of denuclearization."

Monday, May 15, 2017

Iraqi Forces on Verge of Defeating IS in Mosul; Area Controlled by IS Is Now Just 9% of Mosul

U.S.-backed Iraqi forces pushed deeper into the last pocket of Mosul controlled by Islamic State (IS) militants yesterday, as the battle for the city approaches an end after seven months of Herculean urban combat, the Reuters website reports today (May 15, 2017).

The IS militants have now been dislodged from all but a handful of districts in the western half of Mosul including the Old City, where IS is expected to make its last stand, taking advantage of narrow streets and its dense population.

Brigadier General Yahya Rasoul said the area controlled by Islamic State was no more than 9 percent of west Mosul, which is bisected by the Tigris River.

"It's a very small area," he told Reuters. "God willing, this is the final phase."

US:Syria Burns Prisoner Bodies in Crematorium; Intel Shows Some 50 Prisoners a Day Are Burned

The Trump administration today (May 15, 2017) accused the Syrian government of carrying out mass killings of thousands of prisoners and burning the bodies in a large crematorium outside the capital, according to the ABC News website.

The State Department said it believed that about 50 detainees a day are being hanged at Saydnaya military prison, about 45 minutes from Damascus. Many of the bodies, it said, are then burned in the crematorium.

"We believe that the building of a crematorium is an effort to cover up the extent of mass murders taking place in Saydnaya prison," said Stuart Jones, the top U.S. diplomat for the Middle East.

The department released satellite photographs showing what it said is a building in the prison complex that has been modified to support the crematorium.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Pope Won't Try to Relax Trump's Migrant Views; Will Work for Peace When Two Meet This Month

Pope Francis says he won't try to convince U.S. President Donald Trump to soften his policies on immigration and the environment when they meet this month, but wants instead to find common ground and work for peace, the Independent (British) website reports today (May 14, 2017).

Speaking to reporters while flying home yesterday from a trip to Portugal, Francis said he would say what he thinks sincerely to Trump and listen respectfully to what Trump has to say.

Speculation has swirled about what Trump and Francis will discuss during their May 24 audience, given Francis has already said anyone (in referring to Trump) who wants to build walls to keep out migrants is "not Christian."

Trump -- who made building a wall along the border with Mexico a signature campaign promise -- responded by saying it was "disgraceful" that the pope would question his faith.

Exclusive: Abbas Ready to Sign Israel Peace Deal; PA Pres.Is More Compliant on Previous Demands

The Jerusalem Post website reveals exclusively today (May 14, 2017) that Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas has voiced "unprecedented" readiness to reach a peace deal with Israel.

Sources told the Jerusalem Post that Abbas made this clear to President Donald Trump during their meeting at the White House last week.

President Trump plans to use his trip to Israel on May 22 to receive assurances from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he, too, is committed to a peace agreement.

Since meeting with Trump last week, Abbas has changed his rigid rhetoric, issuing a number of statements meant to reflect flexibility on previous demands, in order to achieve an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Pope:Vatican Has 2K Cases of Clergy Sex Abuse; Sees Slow Pace in Handling Abuse, Adding Staff

Pope Francis acknowledged today (May 13, 2017) that the Vatican has a 2,000-case backlog in processing clerical sex abuse cases and says criticism of the slow pace was justified, according to the ABC News website.

Francis was making his first comments about the criticism leveled at the Vatican's handling of sex abuse cases by Marie Collins, an Irish sex abuse victim who resigned from Francis' sex abuse advisory commission in March.

Collins quit because of what she said was the "unacceptable" level of resistance within the Vatican to implementing the group's proposals to better care for victims and protect children from priests who rape and molest them.

Speaking to reporters while flying home today from a trip to Portugal, Francis called Collins "a great woman" and said she was "a bit right" to complain about the slow pace in processing abuse cases. He also said that more staff are being added to speed up the process and that the Vatican is "on the right path."

Christians Leaving Mideast in Record Numbers; Driven Out by IS Terrorism,Laws Favoring Islam

Christians are leaving the Middle East in record numbers, driven out by terrorism by the Islamic State (IS) and laws in countries the U.S. considers allies, the Newsmax website reports today (May 13, 2017).

By 2025, Christians are expected to comprise a mere 3 percent of the population in the Middle East, whereas they represented 13.6 percent a century ago.

Islam is the primary religion in the Middle East. Laws in some countries discriminate against Christians, denying them the right to government jobs or even to rebuild churches.

"The disappearance of such minorities sets the stage for more radical groups to dominate in society," said Todd Johnson, director of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Hamilton, Massachusetts.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Saudi King Grants Women a Few More Rights; Women Can Attend College,Open a Bank Acct.

Saudi Arabian King Salman's recent decision to grant women more rights -- which has been discouraged for decades in this most conservative of all Islamic nations -- won praise in some quarters and grumbles of discontent in others, the VOA News website reports today (May 12, 2017).

The royal decree permits women to make a certain number of decisions without the permission of a male guardian.

Legal adviser Hassa al Duleimi told state TV the decision was based on a complaint over equality of the sexes in obtaining services from the government.

She said Saudi women will now be able to obtain various government services, including the right to enroll in a university, the right to open a bank account, and the right to leave prison after finishing a sentence without the agreement of a male guardian. However, requesting a passport, traveling abroad, or getting married will still require a woman to have the permission of a male family member.

Canada Antisemitic Incidents Set Record in 2016; Rose to 1728 Incidents in 2016 from 1277 in 2015

An annual audit revealed today (May 12, 2017) that the number of antisemitic incidents in Canada set a record in 2016, rising by 26 percent over the previous year, according to the Jerusalem Post website.

B'nai Brith recorded 1,728 incidents nationwide last year, according to its annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, compared to 1,277 incidents in 2015.

The previous record was 1,627 in 2014. Quebec was the only province where incidents fell -- to 249 in 2016 from 265 the prior year.

Reasons for the increase, the audit reported, included university campus anti-Zionism and anti-Israel sentiment found in some Arabic-language newspapers.