Thursday, November 23, 2017

Israeli PM Rips Assistant for Insulting US Jews; Said US Jews Too Contented,Don't Serve in Mil.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu scolded his deputy foreign minister today (November 23, 2017) for "offensive" remarks in which she said U.S. Jews were "too comfortable" to understand threats to Israel, according to the Newsmax website.

Tzipi Hotovely of Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party apologized later on Israeli public television.

In an interview yesterday on Tel Aviv-based i24 News TV channel, Hotovely was asked about the growing gulf between Israel and U.S. Jewry, particularly youth.

"Maybe they're too young to remember how it feels to be a Jewish person without a Jewish homeland, without a Jewish state," she said in English, adding that U.S. Jewry "never send their children to fight for their country."

Palestinians Refuse to Take White House Call; Freeze Ties with US Due to PLO Office Closing

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas refused to speak to White House officials over the phone this week, as he threatened to freeze ties with the U.S. due to President Trump's decision to close down a Palestinian mission in Washington, the Times of Israel website reports today (November 23, 2017).

On November 21, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said he had been instructed by Abbas to put ties with Washington on ice after the U.S. State Department informed Abbas that the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) office in DC would be closed because Palestinians had violated a 2015 U.S. Congressional mandate.

"In practice, by closing the office they are freezing all meetings and we are making that official," Malki said.

The Palestinian freeze is likely to derail efforts by the Trump administration to restart peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Report: Rel. Persecution Soars Due to Islamism; Islamist Hyper-Extremism Debars Rel.Freedom

A new report released today (November 22, 2017) reveals that the emergence of "Islamist hyper-extremism" is primarily responsible for a shocking rise in religious persecution across the world, according to the Christian Today website.

Violent terror attacks inspired by Islamist ideology have now taken place in one in five countries, the report found, highlighting that most religious persecution is from militant organizations, not governments.

"A virulent and extremist form of Islam emerged as the number-one threat to religious freedom," according to the report, "Religious Freedom in the World," by Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). Researchers examined 196 countries across the globe and of these, 38 showed "unmistakable evidence of significant religious freedom violations."

"It emerged that a massive upsurge in violence and instability linked to Islamism had played a significant role in creating an explosion in the number of refugees," the report said. It found a "key objective" of Islamist hyper-extremism is to eliminate other religious communities from land, which has resulted in a mass exodus of Christians from the Middle East.

Russian Church Head: End of History Is Near; Warns Society Must Unite to Avoid Apocalypse

The leader of the Russian Orthodox Church said this week that the world is on the brink of slipping into "the abyss of the end of history," the Yahoo News website reports today (November 22, 2017).

The apocalypse "is already visible to the naked eye," Patriarch Kirill told congregants after a service at the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow on November 20.

He said there could be a saving grace for the world: society uniting.

"That's why the church, art, culture, our writers, scientists -- all those people who love the Motherland -- should come together because we are entering a critical period in human civilization," Kirill added.

Suicide Bomber Kills 50 at a Nigerian Mosque; Boko Haram Group Believed to Be Responsible

A teenage suicide bomber attacked as worshippers gathered for prayers at a mosque in northeastern Nigeria, killing at least 50 people, the Religion News Service website reports today (November 22, 2017).

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombing in Mubi town in Adamawa state, but suspicion fell on the Boko Haram extremist Islam group.

Boko Haram is based in the neighboring Nigerian state of Borno and has been responsible for scores of similar attacks in recent years.

A police spokesman said the young man detonated his explosives while mingling among the worshippers.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Poland Faces Fines for Ignoring EU Court Order; Refuses to Stop Logging a World Heritage Forest

Poland has been given 15 days to comply with a court order to end logging in one of Europe's oldest forests or face daily fines of 100,000 euros, the Euro News website reports today (November 21, 2017).

The ruling has been made by the European Court of Justice and relates to large-scale logging in the Bialowieza forest, a UNESCO World Heritage site on the border between Poland and Belarus.

The latest controversy between the European Union (EU) and an obstinate Poland -- there have been several nasty controversies between the two in recent months -- was sparked by the country's bold decision to triple logging quotas in the area last year.

The EU has warned Poland that this forest logging must cease, as it threatens the habitats of the rare birds and animals that live in the forest, including the European bison.

Ultra-Orth.Jews Damage Jerusalem Draft Bldg.; Protest Israel's Desire to Draft Yeshiva Students

A Jerusalem army draft office has come under attack by ultra-Orthodox protesters who tried to set fire to the building, the Talk Radio (British) website reports today (November 21, 2017).

A video of yesterday's incident shows protesters stopping people from leaving or entering the draft office, while they tried to light two fires at the entrance.

The army has said the protesters attempted to start fires on signs and other items and a spokesperson said: "There were no injuries. There was of course some property damage, but nothing too serious."

Several demonstrations have been held in Israel this week, following the decision of the Jaffa Military Court to imprison 11 ultra-Orthodox "draft dodgers." Police have so far arrested 32 protesters this week, as the debate on whether ultra-Orthodox men studying in yeshivas (Jewish theological schools) should take part in compulsory military service or if they should be exempt from the draft.

Monday, November 20, 2017

US Names N.Korea a State Sponsor of Terrorism; Pres.Trump: "Should Have Happened Years Ago"

President Donald Trump announced today (November 20, 2017) that the U.S. will designate North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism, saying the move would ratchet up sanctions against the repressive nation to "the highest level," according to the Politico website.

"We will be instituting a very critical step and that will start right now," Trump said in remarks at the top of a Cabinet meeting at the White House. "Today, the United States is designating North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism. Should have happened a long time ago. Should have happened years ago."

North Korea joins just three other nations -- Iran, Sudan, and Syria -- on the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism.

"In addition to threatening the world by nuclear devastation, North Korea repeatedly supported acts of international terrorism, including assassinations on foreign soil," the president said today as he explained the designation.

IS Threatens to Attack Vatican on Christmas Day; Video of Vatican Shows Words "Christmas Blood"

The Islamic State (IS) terror group has threatened to attack the Vatican on Christmas day, in what they are calling a "Christmas blood" attack, the Christian Headlines website reports today (November 20, 2017).

In a video released by IS supporters, a masked figure is shown driving toward the Vatican with a gun and a backpack, supposedly containing a bomb. The video is accompanied by the words "Christmas blood. So wait..."

Christmas is a time when IS has stepped up their attacks. One such attack occurred in 2015 when an IS terrorist carried out an attack in San Bernardino, California which killed 14 people.

Terror experts have warned that, because IS recently lost territory they previously controlled in Iraq and Syria, they will probably focus their efforts on isolated attacks in various parts of the world.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Pope: Helping Poor Is Our Passport to Paradise; Welcomes Poor to Vatican Today for Mass,Meal

Pope Francis welcomed the poor, homeless, and unemployed as guests of honor for a Mass and gourmet meal in the Vatican today (November 19, 2017), saying that helping the needy was one way of obtaining a "passport to paradise," the Reuters website reports.

Francis celebrated Mass marking the Roman Catholic Church's first annual World Day of the Poor, which he established to draw the attention of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics to the neediest.

Most of the needy attendants were from Italy, but charity groups also brought people from France, Spain, Germany, and Poland.

The pope said in today's homily: "In the eyes of the world they [the poor] have little value, they are the ones who open to us the way to heaven; they are our 'passport to paradise.'"

Slave Auctions in Libya Violate Human Rights; Migrants Sold Like Merchandise by Smugglers

Human rights are being violated in Libya as the migrants who are trying to reach Europe through North Africa are sold at the slave auction for about $400, the Inquisitr website reports today (November 19, 2017).

They are sold to buyers for manual labor or farm work as shown in an investigation.

CNN investigators searched this modern-day slavery and witnessed the actual slave auction in Libya. They saw that dozens of people were being auctioned in the space of six or seven minutes.

This is the fate of some desperate migrants who are trying to escape their countries -- like Nigeria -- looking for peaceful and green pastures in Europe. On the other hand, they were victimized by these mean smugglers in Libya, who just wanted to make money regardless of the inhumane way they did so.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Killer of Egyptian Priest Is Sentenced to Death; Muslim Fanatic Stabbed Orth.Priest with Knife

The man who brutally murdered a Coptic Orthodox priest on the streets of Cairo, Egypt last month has received a preliminary death sentence, The Orthodox Church Info Blog reports today (November 18, 2017).

Mohamed Sonbaty -- a man well-known to police as a violent Muslim fanatic -- was convicted of killing Coptic priest Fr. Samaan Shehata, and the South Giza criminal court issued the preliminary death sentence on November 15.

The court will issue the final verdict on January 15, 2018.

During the trial, Sonbaty admitted he had followed the priest in a car and forced him out; then he attacked and killed him with a knife.

US Troops Had 20K Sex Assaults in Past 4 Yrs.; Pentagon Report Reveals Huge No. of Assaults

The Pentagon said in a report yesterday that U.S. troops have reported more than 20,000 allegations of sexual assault at military installations over the past four years, according to the AFP (Agence France-Presse) website.

The report, by the Defense Department's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, details allegations by service branch for the fiscal years 2013-2016, with the Army -- the largest branch of the military -- reporting 8,294 cases in all.

The Navy reported 4,788 cases, the Marine Corps 3,400, and the Air Force 8,876.

The U.S. military has some 1.3 million active duty troops.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Pope Warns of Need to Back Clean Environment; Calls for a Dialogue on Building Future of Planet

Pope Francis issued a strong message yesterday to negotiators at the COP23 climate talks in Bonn, Germany, warning them not to fall into "four perverse attitudes"  regarding the future of the planet -- "denial, indifference, resignation, and trust in inadequate solutions" -- the Eco Watch website reports today (November 17, 2017).

Francis has long pressed for strong climate action and wrote his 2015 encyclical on the environment.

Yesterday, he renewed his "urgent call" for renewed dialogue "on how we are building the future of the planet."

"We need an exchange that unites us all," Francis said, "because the environmental challenge we are experiencing, and its human roots, regards us all, and affects us all."

Farrakhan Ignites Controversies in D.C. Address; Urges Pres. Trump to Repent for US Black Abuse

Before a crowded ballroom at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C., Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan called on President Trump to repent for America's mistreatment of black people over the centuries, the Religion News website reports today (November 17, 2017).

"America is a great nation but America needs to reflect on her sins," Farrakhan told hundreds of supporters who showed up yesterday for an event billed as "a major message" to the Trump administration.

For more than two hours, the 84-year-old Islam leader dove into all sorts of controversies -- from slavery to the sexual harassment currently pervading the U.S. by national leaders and celebrities.

The Nation of Islam's influence has declined significantly since its heyday in the 1960s, when the movement claimed to have half a million adherents. Its numbers are now much smaller.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Suicide Bomber Kills 14 at Afghan Pol. Meeting; Another 18 Wounded in Attack Conducted by IS

A suicide bomber killed at least 18 people today (November 16, 2017) at a political gathering in the Afghan capital of Kabul in an attack claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group, according to the AP website.

Another 18 people were wounded. The casualties included security forces and civilians.

Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish said the attacker struck the entrance to the wedding hall where the meeting was being held.

The Islamic State claimed the attack in a statement carried by its Aamaq news agency.

Pope States Silence Is Imperative during Mass; Mass Is Not a Time to Chat but to Glorify Jesus

The Mass is "the prayer par excellence, the highest, the most sublime, and at the same time, the most 'concrete'... it is an encounter with the Lord," Pope Francis said yesterday in his catechesis during the General Audience with pilgrims in St. Peter's Square, the Independent Catholic News website reports today (November 16, 2017).

"But what is prayer, really?" Pope Francis asked. "It is first of all dialogue, a relationship with God." He continued, "Man was created as a being in personal relationship with God, who finds his full realization only in the encounter with His Creator."

God -- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit -- is Himself  "a perfect relationship of love that is unity."

But dialogue also means knowing how to remain silent, in the presence of the other. The Holy Father emphasized the importance of moments of silence when we go to Mass. The liturgy, he said, is not a time for chatting, but a time to recollect ourselves, to prepare our hearts for the encounter with Jesus.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

EU Takes Punitive Action against Polish Govt.; Says Poland's New Laws Ruining Its Judiciary

European Union (EU) lawmakers have launched action against Poland over concerns that the government has compromised the independence of the judiciary and risks breaching fundamental European values, the Fox News website reports today (November 15, 2017).

In a resolution adopted today by 438 to 152, with 71 abstentions, the lawmakers triggered the first stage of a so-called rule of law procedure against the Polish government.

The procedure could lead to the suspensions of Poland's EU voting rights.

The EU says new laws in Poland undermine judicial independence and the rule of law. Poland insists the EU has no right to interfere in its domestic affairs.

Australians Vote to Support Same-Sex Marriage; Parliament Will Legalize It Due to Majority Vote

Australia is poised to become the 26th nation to legalize gay marriage after the results of a survey were revealed yesterday, showing a majority support redefining the marital union to include same-sex couples, the Worthy News website reports today (November 15, 2017).

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported 61.6 percent of Australians support such a measure, while 38.4 percent are against it.

Votes were cast by 12.7 million people, nearly 80 percent of the nation.

The poll is non-binding, but parliament promised to put forward a proposal to legalize same-sex marriage if voters supported it.

Trump Team Drafting Middle East Peace Plan; "Ultimate Deal" to End Israel-Palestinian Feud

Seeking what he calls "the ultimate deal," President Trump and his advisors are drafting a Middle East peace plan to end the bitter land dispute between Israel and the Palestinians, the Christian Headlines website reports today (November 15, 2017).

Trump's peace plan is expected to address the status of Jerusalem and settlements in the West Bank.

Also, Trump is believed to be in favor of a two-state solution, which has been central to previous negotiating efforts.

Jason Greenblatt, the president's chief negotiator, said: "Our goal is to facilitate, not dictate, a lasting peace agreement to improve the lives of Israelis and Palestinians and security across the region."

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Anti-Semitic Posters Found at Univ. in Canada; Swatikas,"True Heroes of WW2" Posted at UBC

Officials at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Canada say pro-Nazi posters have been found at the school, The Star (Canadian) website reports today (November 14, 2017).

Philip Steenkamp, UBC's vice president of external relations, said in a statement that the "disturbing" posters were discovered on War Memorial Gym on November 11. The university was hosting Remembrance Day ceremonies in the gym that morning.

Photos of the posters show images of swastikas and Nazi troops with the words "the true heroes of WW2."

B'nai Brith Canada issued a statement condemning those who put up the posters. "Once again, we see anti-Semitism and neo-Nazism raising their ugly heads at a B.C. university," said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B'nai Brith Canada.

Museum of the Bible Opens in D.C. This Week; Calls on People to Engage with Impact of Bible

The highly anticipated Museum of the Bible is opening in Washington, D.C. this Friday, November 17, the Christian Headlines website reports today (November 14, 2017).

"The Museum of the Bible promises to be "an innovative, global, educational institution whose purpose is to invite all people to engage with the history, narrative and impact of the Bible," according to its website.

It will feature recreations of the Israelite Temple, towns where Jesus walked, and many other displays and interactive features.

Steve and Jackie Green are the co-founders of the Museum. "We have the confidence that if we are true to pointing people to this book, true to the facts, that God will show up and He will impact people's lives," Steve Green said.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Some 30K Visas Given to Terror State Citizens; Trump Seeks to Abolish Diversity Visa Program

Nearly 30,000 foreigners from state sponsors of terrorism have gotten U.S. visas since 2007 through the diversity visa lottery, the Daily Caller website reports today (November 13, 2017).

President Donald Trump wants Congress to end the program, which benefits foreigners from nations that don't have high levels of immigration to the U.S.

He increased his pressure against the program after an Uzbek radical Muslim recipient of the diversity visa lottery killed eight people in a recent terrorist attack in New York City.

Statistics released by the White House today show that since 2007 the program has given permanent residence visas -- also known as green cards -- to 20,739 Iranians, 7,232 Sudanese, and 812 Syrians. The program gives out 50,000 visas annually to immigrants chosen at random.

Iraqi Legislators May Allow Girls to Marry at 9; Some Say Muhammad's Wife Married at Age 9

Human rights advocates say that Iraq has moved a step closer to allowing girls as young as nine to marry, the Euro News website reports today (November 13, 2017).

The proposal is part of a draft law recently approved by 40 MPs that would see the restoration of religious courts, according to Equality Now (EN).

The proposed legislation would allow religious courts to decide a girl's age of marriage.

Suad Abu-Dayyeh, EN's Middle East consultant, said, according to some interpretations by Muslims, the wife of Prophet Muhammad "was married at the age of nine. That is why some religious sects in Iraq are following that."

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Many Protest Sexual Harassment in Hollywood; March on Blvd. to Take "Me Too" into Real Life

Armed with signs, catchy phrases, and a motivation to take "Me Too" beyond the internet and into real life, hundreds of women, men, and children gathered on Hollywood Boulevard today (November 12, 2017), according to the Independent (British) website.

The "Take Back the Workplace March" and the "Me Too Survivors March" joined forces in the heart of Hollywood, near the entrance to the Dolby Theater where the Academy Awards take place.

They walked side by side past the tourists, costume shops, and strip clubs.

Some came with their families, some came with friends. Attendees ranged in age from four to over 68.

Religious Protesters Halt Traffic in Islamabad; Oppose Govt. Attempt to Disavow Muhammad

Thousands of religious protesters converged on Islamabad, Pakistan's capital, yesterday in a growing confrontation with the Pakistani government  over official attempts to amend a law that requires all political candidates to affirm that Muhammad -- who lived in the 7th century -- was Islam's final prophet, the Washington Post website reports today (November 12, 2017).

More than 95 percent of Pakistanis are Muslims.

The demonstrators were stopped by security forces and shipping containers placed across major roads, halting most traffic in the capital region.

They remained there as night fell and vowed to stay indefinitely.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Pope Repeats Primary Role of Using Conscience; Upset Cath. by Backing Conscience over Dogma

Pope Francis today (November 11, 2017) reaffirmed the "primary" role of using one's conscience to navigate tough moral questions in his first comments since he was accused of spreading heresy by emphasizing conscience over hard and fast Catholic rules, according to the Fox News website.

Francis issued a video today to a conference on his controversial 2016 document on family life, "The Joy of Love."

The document has badly divided the Catholic Church, with some commentators warning that it risks creating a schism, given its cautious opening to letting divorced and civilly remarried Catholics receive Communion.

Francis told the conference that priests must inform the consciences of the faithful "but not substitute them." He also stressed the distinction between one's conscience -- where God reveals Himself -- and one's ego that thinks it can do as it pleases.

Museum in Indonesia Removes Its Nazi Exhibit; Hitler-Auschwitz Display Caused World Outrage

An Indonesian museum that allowed visitors to take photos with a life-size wax sculpture of Hitler against a backdrop of Auschwitz concentration camp has removed the exhibit following international outrage, the Times of Israel website reports today (November 11, 2017).

De ARCA Statue Art Museum in the Javanese city of Jogjakarta drew swift condemnation from several rights groups after details of the controversial display were published in foreign media.

The museum's operations manager, Jamie Misbah, said, "Our purpose to display the Hitler figure is to educate."

Historians have blamed poor schooling for the lack of awareness and sensitivity in Indonesia regarding the Holocaust.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Tenn. Church Is Hit for Hiring Woman Pastor; SBC May End Its Ties with Jefferson City Church

A Tennessee Baptist church may lose its voting rights and be severed from the state Baptist Convention because of its decision to hire a female pastor -- which the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) does not allow -- the Christian Post website reports today (November 10, 2017).

The decision of the First Baptist Church (FBC) in Jefferson City to hire Ellen DiGiosia to to be senior pastor has resulted in a committee of the Tennessee Baptist Convention to deem the congregation "not a cooperating church."

DiGiosia is the only female pastor leading a church connected with the Tennessee Baptist Convention (TBC). Although other women lead Baptist churches in the state, those congregations are not linked to the TBC.

"It is regrettable when one of our churches makes a decision that results in a broken confessional relationship with out TBC network of churches," said Randy Davis, president and executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board.

New Study: Orth. Christians Don't Want Unity; Like Being Ind.of Pope as They Have Since 1054

The Great Schism of 1054 -- which split the Christian Church into Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic divisions -- still has significant religious ramifications across the globe, the Newsweek website reports today (November 10, 2017).

According to a new study by the Pew Research Center, very few Orthodox Christians say they want to be reunited with the Catholic Church.

Today, there are some 260 million Orthodox Christians around the world -- 77 percent live in Eastern Europe -- and their beliefs still differ from those of their Catholic brethren who follow the teachings of the pope.

"The view that Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism should reconcile is a minority position in every Orthodox population surveyed across Central and Eastern Europe, except Romania," the Pew study found.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Holy Smoke! Vatican No Longer Sells Cigarettes; Pope:Vatican Must Not Endanger People's Health

The Vatican announced today (November 9, 2017) that it would no longer sell cigarettes to employees in its duty-free shop and supermarket, thus giving up an estimated 10 million euros ($11 million) a year in profits , according to the Religion News website.

Pope Francis made the decision because "the Holy See cannot contribute to an activity that clearly damages the health of people."

A statement cited World Health Organization data finding that smoking is the cause of more than seven million deaths annually around the globe.

A 2015 book based on leaked Vatican documents, "Avarice," reported that cigarette sales bring in an estimated 10 million euros a year to the Vatican City State and are the second-most-important source of income after tax-free gas sales.

NAACP Asks Congress to Ban National Anthem; Says Star-Spangled Banner "Racist,Pro-Slavery"

The California chapter of the NAACP is urging Congress to  abolish "The Star-Spangled Banner," describing the U.S. national anthem as racist, the Washington Times website reports today (November 9, 2017).

The African-American organization wants Congress to trash the national anthem after passing a resolution at its October 26-29 state conference describing the tune as "one of the most racist, pro-slavery, anti-black songs in the American lexicon."

A second resolution was passed in support of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, a leader of last season's protests during the national anthem.

The NFL kneeling began as a protest against the deaths of black men at the hands of police -- not the lyrics of the national anthem -- and has since grown to encompass social-justice issues in our society.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Pope: You Shall Not Use Phones in Church Mass; Mass Encounters Passion, Resurrection of Christ

In what may remind Christians of the Ten Commandments, Pope Francis told an audience today (November 8, 2017) that Mass is not a show, but a beautiful, transformative encounter with the true loving presence of Christ, according to the America Magazine website.

That is why people need to focus their hearts on God, not focus their smartphones for pictures during Mass, he said.

When the priest celebrating Mass says, "Let us lift up our hearts," he is not saying, "lift up our cellphones and take pictures. No. It's an awful thing" to do, the pope said today during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square.

"Please, Mass is not a show. It is going to encounter the Passion, the Resurrection of the Lord," he said to applause.

Poland Urges Citizens to Multiply Like Rabbits; Produces Video Promoting Births as Pop.Drops

Poland's health ministry has created a video to promote procreation, encouraging the country's citizens to "take rabbits as an example," the USA Today website reports today (November 8, 2017).

Rabbits are often associated with fertility as they are known to produce a lot of offspring.

The video is part of a TV and radio campaign financed by Poland's health ministry, which is trying to encourage Polish citizens to live healthy lifestyles in their reproductive years -- between the ages of 18 and 45 -- to promote reproductive health.

According to World Bank statistics, Poland has one of the lowest fertility rates in Europe and the country's population has been decreasing since it peaked in the late 1900s, dipping below 38 million in 2015.

Air Force Academy Student Wrote Racist Notes; Black Student Claiming to Be Victim Is Expelled

Racist messages written on whiteboards at the Air Force Academy in September that made national news were written by a black student supposedly victimized by the messages, the Daily Caller website reveals today (November 8, 2017).

A report from KKTV11 states that "one of the cadet candidates at the Air Force Academy Preparatory School targeted by racist remarks has been found responsible for the act."

The cadet candidate has been expelled from the school, the TV channel added.

Messages that read "Go home nigger" were discovered drawn on whiteboards outside the rooms of African-American cadet candidates at the Air Force Academy in late September. The writings sparked national outcry, after a speech from Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria, head of the Air Force Academy, condemned the racism.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Assad: US and Turkey Illegal Invaders in Syria; Vows to Retake Raqqa Now in Hands of Rebels

A top adviser to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said today (November 7, 2017) that U.S. and Turkish troops are "illegal invader forces" on Syrian territory, and Syria will "deal with them," according to the Reuters website.

Bouthaina Shaaban also said that Damascus would not give up on the northern city of Raqqa, which was liberated from the Islamic State (IS) terror group last month by U.S.-backed Kurdish-led Syrian rebels.

"We will deal with this issue as we deal with any illegal invader force on our lands," she said.

Assad's forces -- helped by Russian air power and Iran-backed militias -- have managed to reestablish control over most of Syria during the past two years.

Billy Graham Is Celebrating 99th Birthday Today; Preached Message of Christ to Over 200M People

Reverend Billy Graham -- the world-famous evangelist who spread the word of Christ in more than 185 countries -- became 99 years old today (November 7, 2017), according to the Christian Headlines website.

Dr. Graham has preached the message of Christ's freedom and forgiveness around the world, reaching over 200 million people.

He's had the privilege of leading hundreds of thousands of people to pray to receive Jesus Christ into their lives as Lord and Savior. He has also authored 33 books.

Billy Graham has been named by Americans as "One of the Ten Most Admired Men in the World," a record-breaking 60 times with the Gallup poll.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

US Millenials Have Had Enough of Capitalism; America's Youth Favor Socialism as Alternative

A new survey has found that 44 percent of America's millenials would rather live in a socialist society than a capitalist country, the Alternet News website reports today (November 4, 2017).

The research and data firm YouGov surveyed 23,000 people aged 16 and over for the survey.

The socialist movement saw a significant increase in youth favoring the socialist principles advocated by Sen. Bernie Sanders during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Marion Smith, executive director of Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, said, "Millenials are increasingly turning away from capitalism, and toward socialism and even communism as a viable alternative."

Friday, November 3, 2017

Judge: No Prison for Afghan Deserter Bergdahl; Trump in Campaign Called Bergdahl a "Traitor"

A military judge ruled today (November 3, 2017) that Bowe Bergdahl, who pleaded guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, should serve no prison time for endangering his comrades by walking off his Afghanistan post, according to the Yahoo News website.

As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump had called for Bergdahl, 31, to face stiff punishment and called him a "traitor."

The judge gave Bergdahl, of Hailey, Idaho, a dishonorable discharge, reduced his rank from sergeant to private, and said he must forfeit pay equal to $1,000 per month for 10 months.

Prosecutors had asked for a sentence of 14 years in prison, citing serious wounds to service members who looked for Bergdahl for five years.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Pope Gives Anti-War Homily at US Mil.Cemetery; "Please Lord Stop.... No More Useless Massacres"

Pope Francis made one of his most emotional anti-war addresses today (November 2, 2017), saying during a visit to a U.S. military cemetery that the world seemed to be headed into war bigger than any before, according to the Reuters website.

Francis said a Mass for several thousand people at the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery in the town of Nettuno -- south of Rome -- on the day Roman Catholics commemorate their dead.

The burial ground is the final resting place for 7,860 American soldiers who died in the liberation of southern Italy and Rome in 1943 and 1944 during World War II.

"Please Lord, stop. No more wars. No more useless massacres," the pope said, speaking in a sad improvised homily.

Ambas.Rips UN for Faulting US Cuban Embargo; Says UN Lacks the Authority to End the Embargo

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, blasted the United Nations yesterday in a defiant speech to the 193-member General Assembly before it adopted a resolution calling for an end to the U.S. economic embargo on Cuba, the Yahoo News website reports today (November 2, 2017).

Haley called the resolution a "political theater."

"This assembly does not have the power to end the U.S. embargo," Haley said.

"It [the U.S. embargo] is based in U.S. law, which only the U.S. Congress can change," she added.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

UK Plans to Give Benefits to Terror Suspects; Helps Those Investigated, Dropped by Police

The British government is planning to give rent subsidies and other benefits to terror suspects, the Clarion Project website reports today (November 1, 2017).

The plan -- called Operation Constrain -- will target 20,000 extremists previously investigated by the British government for possible terrorist links.

The scheme -- set to begin next year -- will focus only on "persons of interest," who were investigated by M15, Britain's secret service, but then dropped from surveillance.

Police and social workers would contact them and determine what assistance -- including job training, a rent subsidy, priority for state-owned housing, etc. -- would be most effective, and what to provide.

Netanyahu to Trump:Let Pollard Move to Israel; Court Ruled Convicted Spy Must Remain in US

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked U.S. President Donald Trump to allow convicted spy Jonathan Pollard to immigrate to Israel, the Times of Israel website reports today (November 1, 2017).

Pollard served nearly 30 years in prison on a conviction of spying for Israel and has been prevented from moving to the Jewish state since his 2015 release.

In May, a U.S. federal appeals court rejected Pollard's request to lift restrictive parole conditions that were established following his prison release.

Pollard, 62, must remain in the U.S. for five years after his prison release, despite his strong desire to move to Israel.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Iraqi Parliament Bans Display of Israeli Flag; Says It Tarnishes Iraq, Vows Criminal Action

Following the display of the Israeli flag in pro-independence Kurdish rallies, the Iraqi parliament voted today (October 31, 2017) to ban the Israeli flag, describing it as a Zionist symbol, according to the VOA News website.

"A dangerous phenomenon, representing the hoisting of the Zionist entity flag during public rallies in front of the media, has recently appeared that breaks the basic constitutional principles of Iraq," Salim al-Jabouri, Speaker of the Iraqi parliament, said.

The new law vows criminal prosecution against those who raise the Israeli flag in the country.

"This is an exercise that damages the reputation of Iraq and its nation and the law punishes it by the maximum penalties," the speaker added.

Today Is the 500th Anniversary of Protestantism; Martin Luther Criticized Corrupt Church Dogma

Five hundred years ago today (October 31, 1517), a monk named Martin Luther went to a church in Wittenberg -- a small town in Germany -- and nailed a list of criticisms of the Catholic Church to its doors, according to the Time website.

Luther had just sparked what would become the Protestant Reformation. His list of criticisms -- known as the 95 theses -- would have a powerful impact on world history.

The birth of Protestant Christianity led to the translation of the Bible into languages other than Latin, allowing many people to engage with scripture for the first time.

Luther also played a major role in ending the church's sale of "indulgences" -- payments to the church to speed up entrance into heaven of loved ones who had died -- which Luther regarded as corrupt.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Coptic Christians Slam Church Closings in Egypt; No. of Churches Shut Down Recently by Islamists

Coptic Orthodox Christians in the south of Egypt called on local authorities for an end to discrimination, after a number of churches were closed down in recent weeks, the Reuters website reports today (October 30, 2017).

Two churches in two separate villages in the southern province of Minya have been shut down by the authorities, a statement by the Minya diocese said.

It said worshipers were harassed at both churches and pelted with rocks at one of them. A third church was closed following rumors of a pending attack, but no attack has occurred, and the church remains closed.

Coptic Christians, who make up 10 percent of Egypt's predominantly Muslim population of nearly 95 million, have been persecuted for years by Islam radicals.

Pope to Host Forum to Avoid US-N.Korean War; Says "Humanity Risks Suicide with Nuclear War"

Pope Francis warned today (October 30, 2017) that "humanity risks suicide" with the increased threat of nuclear confrontation between the U.S. and North Korea -- a threat that will dominate an imminent Vatican conference gathering 11 Nobel peace laureates, top U.N. and NATO officials, and ambassadors from key countries, according to the ABC News website.

The Vatican announced details of the November 10-11 conference today, saying it was part of the Vatican's effort to promote a nuclear weapons-free world.

Today, Francis visited staff of the Vatican office organizing the conference and warned that "humanity risks suicide with nuclear war."

Francis is due to address the conference on its opening day.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Russian Orth.Patriarch: 1917 Rev."Catastrophic;" Communists Leveled Churches,Murdered Priests

The 1917 October Revolution that heralded the triumph of communism in Russia had "catastrophic consequences" for religious communities, Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, told the Interreligious Council in Moscow on the 100th anniversary of the revolution, according to the Christian Today website.

Patriarch Kirill, who maintains a close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, has seen the Orthodox Church flourish under the Putin regime with thousands of churches rebuilt and a new public role for the Orthodox Church.

In his address to the Interreligious Council, Kirill said: "This event [the 1917 revolution] led to truly catastrophic consequences for religious communities, to persecution of believers, destruction of churches, and totally anti-religious propaganda." (Communist control of Russia ended in 1989, with the collapse of the Soviet Union.)

Kirill added that during purges under Russian communist leaders -- notably Joseph Stalin -- churches were closed, church property expropriated, and priests were imprisoned and executed.

Pope: Christians Should Shape Europe's Future; Rel. Can Play a Key Role by Promoting Dialogue

Pope Francis said yesterday that Christians can play an important role in shaping Europe's future by promoting political dialogue "especially where it is threatened and where conflict seems to prevail," the Fox News website reports today (October 29, 2017).

Francis' fifth foreign policy speech on Europe, titled "To be the Soul of Europe," was made to a forum on Europe organized by the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community.

Pointedly, Francis said politics, rather than promoting dialogue as it should, "is becoming instead a forum for clashes between opposing forces. The voice of dialogue is replaced by shouted claims and demands."

He added religion can play a positive role by promoting dialogue, and he called on Europeans "to restore dignity to politics and to view politics as a lofty service to the common good, not a platform for power."

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Church Removes George Washington Memorial; Leaders Say It's Polemic, Decreases Worshipers

Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia announced this week it was pulling down a memorial to George Washington, and another memorial to Robert E. Lee, saying the two former parishioners have become too controversial and are "chasing away" would-be parishioners, the Washington Times website reports today (October 28, 2017).

While acknowledging "friction" over the decision, the Episcopal church's leadership said the twin memorials, which are attached to the wall on either side of the altar, are relics of another era -- an era in which slavery pervaded the United States -- and have no business in a church that proclaims its motto as "All are welcome -- no exceptions."

"The plaques in our sanctuary make some in our presence feel unsafe or unwelcome. Some visitors and guests who worship with us choose not to return because they receive an unintended message from the prominent presence of the plaques," the church leaders said.

The Rev. Noelle York-Simmons, rector of the church, said the decision was made by "unanimous vote" of the vestry.

American Who Joined IS Gets 20 Years in Prison; Mohamad Jamal Khweis: It Was a "Bad Decision"

A 27-year-old American, who joined the Islamic State (IS) terror group in Syria and later claimed he escaped and fled into the hands of Kurdish troops after a "bad decision," was sentenced to 20 years in prison yesterday, the Times of Israel website reports today (October 28, 2017).

Mohamad Jamal Khweis left his job driving a bus for disabled people in northern Virginia in December 2015 to travel to IS's stronghold of Raqqa in Syria.

He spent about two and a half months as a member of IS, and prepared to become a suicide bomber.

A federal jury convicted Khweis on June 8 on all three charges against him.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Qatar Accused of Transporting IS Mil. to Libya; Arabs Claim Qatar Provides Financial Aid to IS

Arab media accused Qatar this week of helping to transport Islamic State (IS) militants from Syria and Iraq to the south of Libya, the VOA News website reports today (October 27, 2017).

The allegations were the latest in a series made against the Gulf emirate by a coalition of countries, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, and United Arab Emirates.

The coalition imposed sanctions against Qatar in June for supporting terrorists.

Leon Panetta, a former U.S. defense secretary and CIA director, also said this week that Qatar has a history of supporting terrorism. "We know they've provided support -- financial support -- for the Muslim Brotherhood, for terrorism, for Hamas, for elements of al-Qaida, the Taliban."

Catalan Parliament Votes for Ind. for Catalania; Angry Spain Reacts by Taking Control of Region

The parliament of Catalonia voted overwhelmingly today (October 27, 2017) to declare full independence from Spain, a move that was followed by an angry Madrid allowing the government to take over direct rule of the region, according to the UPI website.

By a vote of 70-10, the Catalan Parliament took its first full step toward independence.

The legislation directs the semi-autonomous region to begin a process to formally secede from Spain and to declare itself a republic.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy today asked Madrid's senate for authorization to remove Catalan leader Charles Puigdemont from office, as allowed by Spain's constitution.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Trump Ends Aid to UN Due to Its Ineffectiveness; Shifts Money to AID to Help Mideast Persecuted

Saying that Middle Eastern Christians facing persecution have not been served well by the United Nations, Vice President Mike Pence announced yesterday that the Trump administration will direct money away from the international body and instead disperse it to faith-based and other nonprofit organizations, the America Magazine website reports today (October 26, 2017).

"Our fellow Christians and all who are persecuted in the Middle East should not have to rely on multinational institutions when America can help them directly," the vice president said at a summit in Dallas hosted by In Defense of Christians, a D.C.-based nonprofit organization that advocates for Christians living in the Middle East.

"And tonight, it is my privilege to announce that President Trump has ordered the State Department to stop funding ineffective relief efforts at the United Nations," Pence continued.

"From this day forward, America will provide support directly to persecuted communities," through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), he added.

Russian Orth.Patriarch Travels to Free Romania; 1st Rus.Patriarch to Visit Since Communism End

Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church arrived today (October 26, 2017) in Bucharest on the first visit to Romania by a head of the Russian church since the end of communism in the country in 1989, according to the ABC News website.

NATO and European Union member Romania has cool relations with Russia, as a result of Russia controlling it as a communist satellite for decades after World War II, but the two countries share cultural and religious ties through their Greek Orthodox churches.

Kirill arrived a day ahead of a service celebrating 10 years since Patriarch Daniel was elected head of the Romanian Orthodox church.

Kirill and Daniel will lead tomorrow's service, joined by senior Orthodox bishops from Albania, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Poland Property Law Limits Holocaust Survivors; Due to Most Jews Emigrating Poland after WWII

International Jewish organizations are voicing disappointment over a new Polish law that compensates people whose property was seized under communism, saying it excludes most Polish Holocaust survivors and their heirs, the US News website reports today (October 25, 2017).

The new law requires that claimants be Polish citizens and limits compensation to spouses, children, or grandchildren.

The World Jewish Restitution Organization says those provisions exclude the vast majority of Holocaust survivors and their families, because most Jews left Poland during or after World War II and settled elsewhere.

The Jewish organization also said that because of the Holocaust's toll, the heirs of seized properties are usually nieces or nephews, not direct descendants.

European Council Pres.:Brexit Can Be Stopped; Donald Tusk States UK Can Still Remain in EU

The president of the European Council said today (October 25, 2017) that the UK could still decide to reverse Brexit and remain a member of the European Union (EU), according to the Independent (British) website.

Donald Tusk said negotiations could end in "no Brexit" if the British government agreed to that.

Speaking at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, Tusk said, "It is in fact up to London how this will end: With a good deal, no deal, or no Brexit."

In December, 2017, MPs will hold a non-binding debate on the possibility of a second referendum on the final deal.

Pope:Heaven Is the Ultimate "Goal of Our Hope;" Heaven Is an Embrace with God,Not a Fairy Tale

Pope Francis today (October 25, 2017) spoke about the hope Christians have at the end of life, which is found in God's promise to be with us at the moment of our death and give us eternal life with Him in heaven, according to the National Catholic Register website.

"Paradise is not a fairy tale, nor is it an enchanted garden. Paradise is an embrace with God [who is] infinite Love, and we enter thanks to Jesus, who died on the cross for us," the pope said today.

"Where there is Jesus, there is mercy and happiness; without Him, there is the cold and darkness," he said, explaining that, at the hour of death, "the Christian repeats to Jesus: 'Remember me.' And even if there is no one who remembers us, Jesus is there beside us."

Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims during his general audience, which he announced would conclude his yearlong catechesis on Christian hope. He dedicated his address to a reflection on heaven, which is the ultimate "goal of our hope."

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Tillerson Warns Pakistan Not to Support Taliban; Trump Had Hit Pakistan for Harboring Militants

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson got a cool welcome from leaders in Pakistan today (October 24, 2017), as a result of Washington recently accusing Islamabad of providing "safe havens" for Taliban militants, according to the AFP (Agence France-Presse) website.

Tillerson's visit comes after U.S. President Donald Trump accused Islamabad in August of harboring "agents of chaos" who could attack U.S.-led NATO forces in neighboring Afghanistan.

Pakistan -- a predominantly Muslim nation -- hit back at Trump's claims, insisting it has lost thousands of lives and spent billions in fighting Islamic extremism.

As one of 16 "Non-NATO Major Allies," Pakistan benefits from billions of dollars in U.S. aid each year and has access to advanced U.S. military technology banned from other countries.

Pentagon Calls for Women to Register for Draft; Would Be 1st Time in History Women Signed Up

The Pentagon says the country should stick with mandatory registration for a military draft, and it advocates a requirement for women to sign up for the first time in the nation's history, the Washington Times website reports today (October 24, 2017).

The recommendations are contained in a Defense Department report to Congress that serves as a starting point for a commission examining military, national, and public service.

Currently, only male citizens and residents ages 18-25 are required to register, for a pace of about 2 million each year.

Women -- whom the government has never ordered to sign up -- would add 11 million to the Selective Service System database "in short order," the report says.

Anti-Semitic Fliers Posted on Cornell U. Campus; Say "Just Say No to Jewish Lies!," Have Swastika

Anti-Semitic fliers with swastika symbols were discovered on the campus of Cornell University in upstate New York, the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) website reports today (October 24, 2017).

The posters, which read "Just say no to Jewish lies!" and urged students to "join the white gang," were discovered yesterday and taken down.

Police were investigating the matter and increased patrols around Jewish buildings on campus, the Cornell Hillel said in an email to the Jewish community.

"We are deeply concerned that a poster of this nature was placed on our campus, as these sentiments run counter to the spirit of diversity and pluralism that our university works to uphold," Hillel Executive Director Rabbi Ari Weiss said in a statement.

Monday, October 23, 2017

French Couple Probed for Calling Child "Jihad;" Name Infers Muslim Terror in Western Society

A couple is being investigated in France for calling their son "Jihad," the Euro News website reports today (October 23, 2017).

The boy was born in August in the city of Toulouse.

French law allows parents freedom to choose any name which is not considered harmful to their child, or that infringes on the rights of third parties.

While the Arabic term "jihad" is usually associated in Western discourse with Islamic terrorism, the name translates to "an effort to achieve good," a Muslim cleric in Toulouse said.

Tillerson: Iran's Troops in Iraq Must Go Home; Image Appalls Christians,Blocks Returm Home

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has called for Iranian-backed militias, who helped defeat the Islamic State (IS) in Mosul, Iraq and have set up checkpoints in Iraqi villages once mostly populated by Christians over three years ago, to leave the country, the Christian Post website reports today (October 23, 2017).

Tillerson stressed yesterday now that the Islamic State has been pushed out of its stronghold in Mosul and the surrounding Nineveh Plains, "all foreign fighters need to go home."

Tillerson's comment comes as representatives of the Christian community in Iraq and human rights activists have voiced concern about how Iranian presence in towns once populated by Christians before the IS displaced hundreds of thousands of people from their homes in the Nineveh region in 2014 is intimidating Christians and preventing them from returning to their rightful homes.

Nina Shea, a human rights lawyer who serves as director of Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom, told the Christian Post last month that the U.S. government should not take lightly the fact that "Iran is aggressively establishing schools and mosques and libraries and other structures [in Iraq]within the main Christian towns."

IS Murdered at Least 128 People in Syrian Town; Considered Them "Agents of the Syrian Regime"

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said today (October 23, 2017) that the Islamic State (IS) terror group killed at lest 128 people in  a Syrian town in central Homs during the past three weeks, before the Syrian army recaptured it on October 21, according to the Jerusalem Post website.

Syrian troops and allied forces regained control of al-Qaryatayn town after eliminating the IS group, state media said.

The IS had killed the civilians because it viewed the as being "agents of the (Syrian) regime."

The Syrian government did not comment on the Syrian Observatory report on the 128 people killed by IS.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Conservative Jews Send Mixed Marriage Note; Back Mixed Marriage Ban, Interfaith Couples

A letter signed by leaders of the Conservative Jewish movement, reasserting a ban on rabbis performing interfaith weddings, has manged to wed confusion and anger, as clergy state that the missive is doing more harm than good, the Times of Israel website reports today (October 22, 2017).

The letter does not reflect a change in policy, as it reasserts the ban on interfaith weddings, and urges its member synagogues to welcome interfaith couples before and after nuptials.

The letter is believed to have been sparked by declarations by a few Conservative rabbis earlier this year that they would begin performing mixed marriages.

Several leading Conservative rabbis are criticizing the letter, questioning why it was necessary and calling for the ban to be either lifted or modified.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

At Least 54 Egypt Police Killed Fighting IS Mil.; Police Raid on Militant Cache Turns to Firefight

At least 54 policemen were killed today (October 21, 2017) when a raid on a militant hideout outside of Cairo escalated into an all-out firefight, according to the Chicago Tribune website.

It was one of the largest losses of life for Egyptian security forces since militants began targeting government after the 2013 military ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, whose one-year rule proved divisive.

The exchange of fire began late last night in the al-Wahat al-Bahriya area in Giza governorate, about 135 kilometers from the capital after security services moved in.

Egypt has been struggling to contain an insurgency by Islamic militants led by an affiliate of the Islamic State (IS) group, centered mostly across the Suez Canal in the northern region of the Sinai Peninsula, but attacks on the mainland have also recently increased.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Mideast Christians Need World Leaders' Help; Still Need to Be Protected Despite Defeat of IS

A Catholic charity organization has said that despite recent major victories against the Islamic State (IS) terror group, unless world leaders make a change, IS may still destroy the Christian population in Iraq and Syria, the Christian Headlines website reports today (October 20, 2017).

"We have seen drastic reductions in the Christian populations in many nations in the Middle East. Iraq might very well have lost 80 percent of their native Christian people," Edward Clancy, ACN (Aid to the Church in Need) director of outreach told The Christian Post. "Syria might have lost 50 percent."

Middle East church leaders have said they feel "forgotten" by the international community.

"They need our help. It is more than just guaranteeing property rights for returning families. The security of their communities is a major issue. It is about leaders not being afraid to say that these Christians belong in their ancestral towns and that they deserve to be supported and protected," Clancy said.

Suicide Bombers Attacked Two Afghan Mosques; At Least 72 Killed,Believed by Sunni IS Militants

Suicide bombers attacked two mosques in Afghanistan today (October 20, 2017), killing at least 72 people -- including children -- according to the Reuters website.

One bomber walked into a Shi'ite Muslim mosque in the capital Kabul as people were praying and detonated an explosive.

At least 39 people died in the blast at the Imam Zaman mosque. Separately, a suicide bombing killed at least 33 people in central Ghor province, a police spokesman said.

Shi'ite Muslims have suffered a series of attacks in Afghanistan in recent months, many of them claimed by the Sunni Muslim militants of the Islamic State (IS).

Fed.Court Says Md. WWI Peace Cross Unconst.; American Legion May Appeal to Supreme Court

In a case that has critical ramifications for memorials and cemeteries across the U.S., a federal court ruled on October 18 that a World War I memorial in the shape of a cross in Bladensburg, Maryland is unconstitutional, the Spero Forum website reports today (October 20, 2017).

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit ruled in a 2-1 decision that the 40-foot "Peace Cross" violates the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment of the Constitution.

The American Humanist Association (AHA) -- an organization that promotes atheism in the United States -- initiated the court case, and wants the cross demolished, altered, or removed.

In voting against the cross, Judge Stephanie Thacker wrote, "The monument here has the primary effect of endorsing religion..." The American Legion is expected to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Headstones Sacked at Romania Jewish Cemetery; Three Teens Nabbed for Smashing 10 Headstones

Police in Romania arrested three teenagers accused of destroying 10 headstones at a Jewish cemetery, the Jerusalem Post website reports today (October 19, 2017).

The incident occurred last weekend near the northern city of Reghin, located 200 miles north of Bucharest, the Romanian capital.

The suspects allegedly smashed the headstones and drew a swastika on two gates, although police said they were not sure if the swastikas had already been painted on the gates.

The Federation of Jewish Communities in Romania said it was "shocked by this new antisemitic act of vandalism."

Quebec Province Passes Law Banning Face Veils; Is First Law to Ban Them in All of North America

The Canadian province of Quebec has passed a new law banning face veils -- the first law of its kind in all of North America -- the Euro News website reports today (October 19, 2017).

The new law bars face coverings for people giving or receiving provincial government services. It includes forcing those who use public transportation to unveil.

Critics say it targets Muslim women. The government says the measure protects public safety.

The new ruling is due to take effect in July, 2018.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Most Americans:God Not Needed for Moral Life; Due Mainly to Surge in No. of American "Nones"

For the first time in history, a majority of Americans (56 percent) say it is possible to be a good person without a religious belief, the Religion News website reports today (October 18, 2017).

So finds a Pew Research poll conducted among 5,000 American adults in June and July, 2017.

"God is not a prerequisite for good values and morality," Greg Smith, Pew's associate director of research, said in a post about the findings.

Smith added, "The public's increased rejection of the idea that belief in God is necessary for morality is due, in large part, to the spike in the share of Americans who are religious "nones;" that is, Americans who have no affiliation with any religion or denomination.

NYC Orth.Rabbi Stole $5M in Children's Funds; Samuel Hiller Stole Disabled Preschooler Funds

A New York City Orthodox rabbi has been sentenced to prison for stealing $5 million in funding intended for disabled preschoolers, the Times of Israel website reports today (October 18, 2017).

Samuel Hiller will spend one to three years behind bars, after pleading guilty to stealing the money.

Hiller was assistant director of the now-defunct Island Child Development Center. It provided services to Orthodox Jewish communities in Far Rockaway, Queens, and Brooklyn's Williamsburg and Borough Park neighborhoods.

Restitution is part of Hiller's plea agreement.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

High Court:Public Land 10 Command.a No-no; Backs Lower Court Ruling,Rejects Case Appeal

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal in a case regarding a Ten Commandments display on public property in New Mexico, thus allowing a lower court ruling against the display to stand, the Christian Post website reports today (October 17, 2017).

Yesterday, the highest court in the land issued an order in which it declined without comment to hear the appeal in "City of Bloomfield, New Mexico v. Felix."

The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which was helping to represent Bloomfield, released a statement denouncing the court's refusal to hear the appeal.

"Just because we disagree with what something says, does not mean we can ban it from the public square," stated the ADF. "By allowing the Tenth Circuit decision to stand, the Supreme Court has given anti-religion advocates a license to challenge any monument [on public land] that they see and offends them."

IS Defeated in Raqqa after Four-Month Battle; Kurdish Rebel Forces Regain IS Syrian Capital

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said today (October 17, 2017) it has cleared Raqqa -- the Islamic State's de facto Syrian capital -- of all militant fighters, according to the UPI website.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) -- the U.S.-backed rebel force -- said the fierce four-month fight to regain Raqqa ended today with about 300 remaining IS (Islamic State) militant holdouts confined to a narrow section of the city.

IS had held the city for three years and some of its fighters could still be holed up in the city's buildings and tunnels, officials said.

The SDF believes it will take months to clear explosives from the city, which had a population of more than 300,000 before the IS terrorists seized it.

Monday, October 16, 2017

NYC Bomber Is Found Guilty of All Charges; Ahmad Khan Rahimi Facing a Life in Prison

The man accused of planting two bombs in New York City -- leaving 30 people injured in September 2016 -- was found guilty today (October 16, 2017) of all charges, according to the VOA News website.

Twenty-nine-year-old Ahmad Khan Rahimi of Elizabeth, New Jersey, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison for charges, including counts of using a weapon of mass destruction and bombing a public place.

Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim said "inspired by ISIS [Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] and al-Qaida, Rahimi planted and detonated bombs on the streets of Chelsea, in the heart of Manhattan, and in New Jersey, hoping to kill and maim as many innocent people as possible..."

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio congratulated all involved with the prosecution today.

Army Sgt. Bergdahl Pleads Guilty to Desertion; Trump Called Him Traitor for Joining Taliban

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl -- the soldier held by Taliban insurgents for nearly five years after abandoning his post in Afghanistan -- said today (October 16, 2017) that he is pleading guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, according to the USA Today website.

The Army will hold a hearing to determine the punishment for Bergdahl, who faces a potential life sentence. He was scheduled to face a court-martial later this month.

He was charged with one count each of "desertion with intent to shirk important or hazardous duty" and "misbehavior before the enemy by endangering the safety of a command, unit or place."

When he was a candidate for U.S. president in 2016, Donald Trump said Bergdahl was a "traitor," because he deserted his Army unit and joined the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Philippine Troops Bomb IS Militants in Marawi; Over 1K Killed in Marawi Since IS May Usurping

Philippine troops today (October 15, 2017) bombed militants loyal to the Islamic State (IS) group who have held out for over four months in a southern city, according to the AFP (Agence France-Presse) website.

The fighting in the Philippine city of Marawi has killed more than 1,000 people. The radical Muslims had intended to establish a local IS caliphate there.

"We are hoping that we will end this Marawi siege very soon," Colonel Romeo Brawner, deputy commander of the task force battling the IS militants, told reporters.

Pro-IS fighters occupied parts of Marawi on May 23, 2017. Since then, 822 militants, 162 government troops, and 47 civilians have been killed, Brawner said.

Syria Tells Turkey to Rid Its Troops from Nation; Says Troop Presence Violates International Law

Syria demanded yesterday that Turkish troops who entered northwestern Syria leave immediately, saying their presence constituted a "flagrant aggression," the Reuters website reports today (October 15, 2017).

The Foreign Ministry statement said the entry of Turkish military vehicles into rebel-held northwest Syria on October 12 was a violation of international law.

Turked says it is operating alongside Syrian rebel groups to reduce the fighting between insurgents.

But Syria rejects this Turkish excuse and insists that "the Turkish aggression" is a violation of international law.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Iraqi Forces Regain Kurd Region Near Kirkuk; Determined to Retake Oil-Rich Kurd Province

Iraqi forces yesterday retook positions controlled by Kurdish peshmerga fighters since 2014 in the oil-rich province amid a bitter row with the Kurds over a vote for independence last month, the AFP (Agence France-Presse) website reports today (October 14, 2017).

A senior Kurdish official said thousands of heavily armed fighters had been deployed to defend themselves "at any cost" against the Iraqi operation and called for international intervention.

Ethnically divided but historically Kurdish-majority Kirkuk is one of several regions that peshmerga fighters took over from the Iraqi army in 2014 when Islamic State (IS) group swept through much of northern and western Iraq.

Baghdad is bitterly opposed to Kurdish ambitions to incorporate the oil-rich province in its autonomous region in the north and is determined to take it back.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Coptic Orth. Priest Killed with Cleaver in Cairo; Muslims Killed 100 Egyptian Christians in 2017

Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church says a priest has been killed in a knife attack in Cairo, the latest deadly assault on the country's Christian minority, the ABC News website reports today (October 13, 2017).

The church said the attack occurred yesterday, apparently by a Muslim radical.

Security officials said the attacker struck the priest's head with a cleaver and fled the scene, but was later arrested.

Attacks on Egypt's Christians in the predominantly Islamic country have increased in recent months. A series of suicide bombings claimed by the Islamic State (IS) militant group has resulted in the deaths of some 100 Christians so far in 2017.

Trump Vows He Won't Certify Iran Nuclear Deal; Determined Iran Never Obtains Nuclear Weapon

U.S. President Donald Trump struck a powerful blow against the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement today (October 13, 2017), as he decided not to certify that Tehran is complying with the deal and warning he might in fact terminate it, according to the Reuters website.

Trump announced the major shift in U.S. policy in a speech in which he detailed a more aggressive approach to Iran over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

He accused Iran of "not living up to the spirit" of the nuclear agreement and said his goal is to ensure Teheran never obtains a nuclear weapon.

"We will not continue down a path whose predictable conclusion is more violence, more terror  and the very real threat of Iran's nuclear breakout," Trump said.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Many IS Fighters Leaving Iraq,Syria for Libya; US Fighter Jets Now Pound IS Troops in Sirte

The U.S. military is ramping up operations and bombing raids against the Islamic State (IS) in Libya, where the terrorist group's fighters have increasingly found refuge as their territorial base shrinks in Iraq and Syria, the Washington Times website reports today (October 12, 2017).

U.S.-backed militias largely crushed the Islamic State's operation in the North African nation in late 2015, but signs that the group is gaining a new foothold there began to emerge last month.

Although the Trump administration has resisted a major U.S. military role in Libya, the Pentagon wasted little time responding to the flurry of IS activity there. On September 22, military officials announced that American fighter jets had been dispatched to pound an IS encampment about 150 miles south of the city of Sirte.

The Sirte outpost is vital to the Islamic State in part because it is the heart of Libya's oil-producing region, a potential source of critical funding for the group.

US, Israel Leave UNESCO Due to Its Israeli Bias; UNESCO's $653M Annual Budget Also a Reason

The United States and Israel announced today (October 12, 2017) that they were quitting the United Nations' cultural agency, UNESCO, on December 31, 2017, after Washington accused it of anti-Israel bias, according to the Reuters website.

The withdrawal of the United States -- which provides a fifth of UNESCO's budget of $653 million a year -- is a major blow for the Paris-based organization.

Founded after World War II to protect culture and natural heritage around the world, UNESCO is known for designating World Heritage Sites such as the city of Palmyra in Syria and the Grand Canyon National Park.

The State Department decided to quit UNESCO because of the organization's financial plight and its voting against Israel on several occasions during the past year. Hours after the U.S. decision, Israel also announced it would leave UNESCO.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Pope: Death Penalty Is Contrary to the Gospel; God Alone Is True Judge and Guarantor of Life

Pope Francis declared today (October 11, 2017) that the death penalty is "contrary to the Gospel," according to the American Magazine website.

He did so in a major speech to an audience of cardinals, bishops, priests, nuns, catechists, and ambassadors from many countries on the 25th anniversary of the promulgation of the catechism, affirming that there has been a development of doctrine in the church and a change in the consciousness of the Christian people on the question of the death penalty.

The pope's comments and the timing of them suggest that a revision of the "Catechism of the Catholic Church" may be forthcoming to reflect this new development in the church's understanding.

Pope Francis also said, "It is contrary to the Gospel, because it is freely decided to suppress a human life that is always sacred in the eyes of the Creator, and of which, in the final analysis, God alone is the true judge and guarantor."

Greece Passes Law Easing Legal Gender Change; Greek Orthodox Church in Fury,Calls It Immoral

The Greek Orthodox Church is in uproar over a new law passed by Greece's parliament yesterday that will increase the ease with which individuals can change their legally recognized gender, the Christian Today website reports today (October 11, 2017).

The law will allow people to change their gender on official documents with a court ruling, and without requiring medical tests or sterilization.

Until now, anyone needing to officially change their gender had to be diagnosed with a "gender identity disorder" and have their reproductive organs removed.

The law has been condemned as "immoral" by the Greek Orthodox Church and as a "monstrosity" by right-wing politicians.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Filipino IS Suspect Targeted NYC for Attacks; Philippines a "Breeding Ground for Terrorists"

A Filipino terror suspect in a thwarted jihadi plot targeting New York City had boasted that his country was "a breeding ground for terrorists," the Japan Times website reports today (October 10, 2017).

Russell Salic, 37, has been charged with a plan to carry out the attacks in the name of the Islamic State (IS) group in 2016, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

Multiple locations -- including New York's subway, Times Square, and some concert venues -- were identified as targets in the plot.

According to a Justice Department statement, Salic sent messages to others involved in the plot in which he described terror laws in the Philippines as "not strict" compared to Western countries. "Terrorists from all over the world usually come here [the Philippines] as a breeding ground for terrorists..." he said.

KKK Flyers Threaten Blacks,Jews in Florida; "Only Good Jew Is One with Bullet in Head"

Several neighborhoods in Jacksonville, Florida were littered with flyers containing messages from the Ku Klux Klan over the past few days -- including anti-black and anti-Semitic messages -- the Forward website reports today (October 10, 2017).

One of the flyers contains threats against African-Americans who are caught "making eyes" at white women.

The flyer also says that "the only 'good Jew' is the one with a bullet hole through his head."

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said there was an "active criminal investigation" on-going.

Monday, October 9, 2017

US Judge Ends Exempt Clergy Rental Allowance; Rules IRS Provision Exempting Clergy Unconst.

A federal judge has ruled that an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provision that exempts clergy from including their rental allowance in their reported gross income is unconstitutional, the Christian Post website reports today (October 9, 2017).

U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Crabb for the Western District of Wisconsin ruled on October 6 that IRS 26 U.S. Code 107 (2) violated the First Amendment.

Judge Crabb referenced a 2013 decision of hers against the IRS provision, saying that it "violates the establishment clause because it does not have a secular purpose or effect."

"Although defendants try to characterize 107 (2) as an effort by Congress to treat ministers fairly and avoid religious entanglement, the plain language of the statute, its legislative history and its operation in practice all demonstrate a preference for ministers over secular employees," wrote Crabb.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Jewish Girl,10,Is Beaten by Classmates in France; Damage to Rib Cage Required 10 Days to Recover

A 10-year-old Jewish girl in France has been hospitalized after she suffered a beating from her classmates in Paris, according to the BNVCA  (National Bureau of Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism), the Jewish Press website reports today (October 8, 2017).

The child arrived at the hospital with visible contusions on her rib cage and stomach requiring 10 days of recovery.

The attack on the child -- identified by the name of "Ness" --  was not the first; her mother told police the girl's classmates have beaten her several times "only because she is Jewish."

Ness will be transferred to a different school, according to BNVCA. Due to the recent rapid rise in France's anti-Semitism, thousands of Jews have left the country during the past three years and have become citizens of Israel.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

IS Calls on Women to Join It,Perform Terrorism; Says Many Women Fought in Islam's Golden Age

The Islamic State (IS) terror group -- now desperate for more troops due to the loss of many fighters and most of the land it controlled in Iraq and Syria -- has for the first time called on women to carry out terror attacks and wage jihad against the West, the Times of Israel website reports today (October 7, 2017).

A newspaper run by the terror group called on Muslim women to "prepare themselves to defend their religion by sacrificing themselves by Allah."

IS is infamous for its oppression and subjugation of women under its rule, and has entrusted females only with homemaking roles.

The jihadist paper justified its new approach by noting that many Muslim women had in fact partaken in combat in some points in history, including during Islam's Golden Age from the 8th to the 13th century.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Turkey Nabs a Consulate Worker for Espionage; US Embassy:Allegations "Wholly Without Merit"

Turkish authorities have arrested a U.S. Consulate employee in Istanbul over his alleged links to a movement led by U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, the CBS News website reports today (October 6, 2017).

The U.S. Embassy said it believes the allegations against the staff member are "wholly without merit."

Turkey's Anadolu News Agency said the man -- a Turkish citizen identified by the initials M.T. -- was ordered arrested by a court in Istanbul on October 4 on charges of espionage and attempts to "destroy" the constitutional order and Turkey's government.

The man is accused of ties to a former prosecutor and four former police chiefs who are being prosecuted for leading a corruption probe in 2013, which the government says was orchestrated by Gulen's movement in a bid to topple it.

Flier Threatening Jews Sent to Brooklyn Bakery; Asserts "Make America Great Again!!! Jews Out"

An anti-Semitic flier that threatens Jews was sent to a kosher bakery in Brooklyn, the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) website reports today (October 6, 2017).

Police are investigating the notice sent to the Weiss Bakery in the haredi Orthodox neighborhood of Borough Park.

It reads: "Make America Great Again!!! Jews Out..."

Above the words is a black swastika surrounded by a white circle on a red background.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Pope: We Must Not Reject Differences of Sexes; Power of Biotechnologies Raises Dire Questions

While societies must find a way to overcome the subjugation of women, pretending there are no differences between men and women -- or even using technology to change a person's sex -- is not the answer, Pope Francis said today (October 5, 2017), according to the America Media website.

He denounced the utopia of "the neuter," which seeks to remove "both the human dignity of the sexually different constitution [of man and woman] and the personal quality of the reproductive transmission of life."

The pope was speaking today at the plenary assembly of the newly reconstituted Pontifical Academy for Life. The academy was convening for a discussion: "Accompanying life. New responsibilities in the technological era."

He warned the gathering -- which includes participants from all the continents -- that "the power of biotechnologies, which allows the manipulation of life in a way that was unthinkable yesterday, raises formidable questions."

Iraqi Forces Capture IS's Last Stronghold in Iraq; Capture Town of Hawija Near Oil City of Kirkuki

Iraqi forces today (October 5, 2017) captured the town of Hawija and the surrounding area from the Islamic State (IS), although some fighting still raged in a pocket to the north and east of the town where the militants were surrounded, according to the Huffington Post website.

The only area that remains under the control of the IS in Iraq now is a stretch alongside the western border with Syria.

Hawija is near the Kurdish-held oil-rich city of Kirkuki.

Kirkuki shaped up as a flashpoint last month when the Kurds included the city in a referendum that voted in favor of an independent Kurdish state in northern Iraq.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Trump: Netanyahu Blocks Mideast Peace Talks; Views Israeli PM as Bigger Problem Than Abbas

President Trump told United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was more of an obstacle to peace efforts in the Middle East than Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, The Hill website reports today (October 4, 2017).

Trump reportedly made the comments during a meeting with Guterres at last month's U.N. General Assembly in New York City.

A Western diplomat who had been briefed on the meeting said Trump had acknowledged both Netanyahu and Abbas were being "problematic," but the Israeli leader was "the bigger problem."

Many international affairs experts believe that Netanyahu is not in favor of peace talks because such talks would endanger Israel's retention of the Arab territories it seized in the 1967 war, and they could also put an end to Israeli construction of settlements on the occupied land.

Bomb Blast Kills 4, Wounds 4 in SE Turkey; Kurds Responsible,Seek Ind.State in Turkey

A bomb planted by Kurdish militants ripped into a military vehicle today (October 4, 2017), killing four soldiers and wounding four more, as they traveled in southeast Turkey near the border with Iran, according to the Reuters website.

Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants were behind the attack, which occurred in the Yuksekova district of Hakkari province, the provincial governor's office said in a statement.

Security sources said several armored vehicles were sent to the site of the blast. The wounded were being treated at a nearby hospital.

More than 40,000 people have been killed in Turkey since the PKK launched its separatist insurgency in 1984. The Kurds are seeking to establish their own independent state in southern Turkey, but Turkey refuses to allow a Kurdish state.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Pat Robertson: Massacre Caused by Disrespect; "With No Vision of God,People Will Run Amok"

As Americans struggle to make sense of the massacre in Las Vegas that left at least 59 dead and more than 527 injured, Pat Robertson -- the TV preacher and former Republican presidential candidate -- said the real cause of the carnage was the widespread "disrespect" that pervades our society, The Wrap website reports today (October 3, 2017).

"The fact is that we have disrespect for authority; there is profound disrespect of our president, all across this nation," Robertson said on "The 700 Club" TV program yesterday.

He added... "There has to be some controlling [biblical] authority in our society and there is none."

Robertson concluded, "And we have taken from the American people the vision of God. And when there is no vision of God, the people run amok."

Five AF Academy Students Hit with Racial Slurs; "Go Home Nigger" Is Written on Students' Doors

Five black cadet candidates found racial slurs written on the message boards on their doors at the U.S. Air Force Academy Preparatory School this week, the Washington Post website reports today (October 3, 2017).

Security forces are looking into this matter, according to Lt. Col. Allen Herritage, a spokesman for the U.S. Air Force Academy.

The Air Force Times reported that a cadet candidate's mother posted a photo on social media of "the words 'go home nigger' written on the white board outside her son's room."

The mother added, "These young people are supposed to bond and protect each other and the country. Who would my son have to watch out for? The enemy or the enemy?"

Monday, October 2, 2017

Judge: Fla. County Can't Ban Atheist Invocations; ACLU Argued Banning Atheist Speakers Unconst.

A federal judge has ruled against a Florida county government's prayer policy that bans atheist invocations from its public meetings, the Christian Post website reports today (October 2, 2017).

In a decision released September 30 in "Williamson v. Brevard County," the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida concluded that the Brevard County Board of Commissioners was unlawfully limiting who could give invocations at their meetings.

"For a government entity to require, or attempt to require, 'religious' content in invocations is, in effect, that entity composing prayers for public consumption or censoring the content of prayer," the court concluded.

In agreeing with the court's ruling, Danaiel Mach, director of ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief, said on a statement: "The county's outright exclusion of nonreligious speakers was unfair and unconstitutional."

Burqa Ban Became Law in Austria on October 1; Police Tell Woman Wearing Niqab to Remove It;

Muslim women in Austria were forced by police to remove their facial coverings on October 1, when an anti-burqa law went into effect, The Telegraph (British) website reports today (October 2, 2017).

The so-called "burqa ban" prohibits facial coverings, including niqabs and burqas.

Yesterday, a woman wearing a niqab facial veil -- which only leaves the eyes uncovered -- was seen being told to remove her veil by two police officers in Zell am See, a city south of Saltzburg.

Those who defy the ban could face a fine of 150 euros.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Islamic Knifeman Kills Two Women in Marseille; Shouts "Allahu Akbar," Shot to Death by Soldiers

A suspected Islamist knifeman killed two women at the main train station in the French Mediterranean city of Marseille today (October 1, 2017) before being shot dead by soldiers patrolling there, according to the AFP (Agence France-Presse) website.

One of the victims was fatally stabbed while the other had her throat slit by the assailant who shouted "Allahu Akbar" ("God is Greatest") at the start of the rampage.

Soldiers posted in the station to guard vulnerable areas in terror-hit France shot the man dead.

Armed police were deployed afterwards and the grand and ornate rail terminus in the heart of France's second-largest city was evacuated, stopping all train traffic in the region.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Swiss Solons Vote to Ban Foreign-Paid Mosques; Saudi Arabia Finances Fanatical Islam in Europe

The Swiss National Council, the parliament's lower house, has voted in favor of banning the financing of mosques from abroad, as well as forcing mosques to use local languages instead of Arabic or other foreign tongues, the Breitbart website reports today (September 30, 2017).

If the law passes the Senate, mosques will need to declare who they are backed by, as well as preach in one of Switzerland's major languages; namely, German, French, Italian, or Romansch.

The vote took place on September 26, with 94 members of parliament voting in favor, and 89 opposed.

Saudi Arabia is well known for funding the spread of its radical Wahhabist interpretation of Islam in Europe, which many believe could lead Muslims to perform terrorist attacks.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Judge:Cross on County Seal Is Unconstitutional; Orders Cross on Penn. County Seal Be Removed

A federal judge has ruled that a Pennsylvania county seal is unconstitutional for including a cross, handing a legal victory to a Wisconsin-based atheist organization, the Christian Post website reports today (September 29, 2017).

U.S. District Judge Edward Smith made the decision yesterday against Lehigh County's seal.

In August 2016, the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) -- which is based in Wisconsin -- filed a lawsuit in behalf of several local residents against Lehigh County over its seal, because it includes a displayed Latin cross.

FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor praised the court's decision, stating, "This welcome ruling should settle the matter and get the seal redesigned to be inclusive, to ensure that it does not continue to send a message that only Christian citizens are represented or welcome."

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Construction Begins on Trump's Border Wall; Begins in San Diego Where Ground Is Dug Up

Homeland Security revealed it began construction on September 26 on the prototypes for President Trump's new border wall, the Washington Times website reports today (September 28, 2017).

In a short notice, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said the building began in San Diego, California on eight prototypes.

The agency released a video showing equipment being unloaded and the ground being dug out at the site.

The prototypes are designed to test new approaches, materials, strategies, and technology, as Homeland Security pushes forward with Trump's goal of preventing terrorists from entering the country by building a U.S.-Mexico border wall.

Yom Kippur Service to Be Held in Beer Garden; Orth.Rabbi Says Yom Kippur Needs Shaking Up

Yom Kippur -- the most solemn day of the Jewish year -- is going to be observed in a beer garden on September 30 by more than 100 Washington, D.C. area Jews, the Religion News website reports today (September 28, 2017).

Aaron Potek, an Orthodox rabbi of a 20- and 30-somethings Jewish group called GatherDC, thinks it's a fitting setting for a Yom Kippur service. Despite the fact that Orthodox Judaism is the strictest of the three major Jewish denominations -- Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Judaism -- Potek, as an Orthodox rabbi, has no qualms on conducting  his Yom Kippur service in a beer garden.

For about two hours on Yom Kippur morning Saturday (September 30), Potek and former first lady Michelle Obama speechwriter Sarah Hurwitz will co-host an "alternative Yom Kippur" service at Sauf Haus Bier Hall and Garten in Washington's hip Dupont Circle neighborhood.

The GatherDC service -- for which at least 110 people have already paid the $18 ticket fee -- is designed to shake things up, because fasting and prayer have been overemphasized on Yom Kippur, said Potek.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Taliban Tries to Kill Mattis during Afghan Visit; Fires Missiles to Hit His Plane at Kabul Airport

The Taliban claimed responsibility for an attack at Kabul International Airport today (September 27, 2017) targeting the plane of U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who was making an unscheduled visit to Afghanistan, according to the Daily Caller website.

Mattis had left the airport by the time the attack started, and no casualties have been reported.

The airport said two missiles were fired toward the airport at around 11:00 a.m. local time.

Two unidentified Taliban commanders claimed informers in Afghanistan's security apparatus tipped them off to Mattis's unannounced visit.

Erdogan Warns Israel on Supporting Kurd Ind.; Turkey Pres.Says Support Mars Diplomatic Ties

Following a referendum vote in Iraq in which 92 percent of the voters called for an independent Kurdish state, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Israel should "review" its support for Iraqi Kurdish independence, the Times of Israel website reports today (September 27, 2017).

Warning Israel that its support for an Iraqi Kurdish state could negatively affect diplomatic relations between Ankara and Jerusalem, Erdogan indicated that Israel's failure to end its support would sabotage prospective agreements between Turkey and Israel.

Some Turkish nationalists have claimed the Kurdish independence vote is meant to create a "second Israel."

Also, Turkish media has claimed that Israel was planning to repatriate Israeli Jews of Kurdistan origin to Kurdistan after the referendum.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Iraqi Kurds Vote "Yes" to Set Up an Ind. State; Some 92% of Voters Seek a Kurd State in Iraq

The leader of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Masoud Barzani, told international reporters late today (September 26, 2017) that the referendum on independence from Iraq yielded a "yes" vote of nearly 92 percent, according to the Jewish Press website.

More than three million eligible voters from the three provinces that comprise the KRG voted in the referendum, as did millions of other Kurds from disputed areas around Iraq, including the oil-rich city of Kirkurk.

The Baghdad government fought hard against the referendum -- which is non-binding -- as did neighboring Turkey and Iran.

Following the referendum vote, Barzani urged Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi to move ahead with talks on how to peacefully implement the process to set up a Kurdistan state.

Saudi Arabia Lets Women Have Driver's License; King Salman's Decree to Grant Women Licenses

Saudi Arabia's Kong Salman today (September 26, 2017) issued a historic royal decree granting driving licenses for women in the kingdom as of next June, according to the Al Arabiya website.

"This is a great victory for many Saudi women. This was the one file and issue which Saudi women have fought not just for years but decades for..." Latifa Shaalan, a Saudi female member of  Saudi Arabia's Shoura Council told Al Arabiya.

Currently, there are some 800,000 men -- mostly from South Asia -- who work solely as drivers to Saudi women, who are not allowed to drive motor vehicles.

Many Saudi families are not able to afford paying a driver a monthly salary. The new royal decree will help ease this financial burden.

Arab Gunman Kills 3 Israeli Security Officers; Occurred at Har Adar Colony, Gunman Killed

A border police officer and two Israeli security guards were killed and another man seriously injured today (September 26, 2017) in a terror attack at the entrance to a settlement near Jerusalem, according to the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) website.

The shooting took place this morning as the security officers were opening the back entrance of the Har Adar settlement to Palestinian workers.

Israeli police identified the injured man as the community security officer for Har Adar.

The gunman was identified by the Israeli Security Agency as Nimr Mahmoud Ahmed Jamal, 37. He was shot and killed by Israeli security forces.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Vermont Teacher Fired for Teaching Nazi Salute; Elementary School Kids Did "Heil Hitler" Salute

A Vermont substitute teacher was fired after she taught children how to make the Nazi salute, the Jerusalem Post website reports today (September 25, 2017).

Ned Kirsch, the school superintendent of the Georgia Elementary School in Georgia, Vermont, said the teacher was fired after admitting she taught the students the "Heil Hitler" salute.

The teacher has substituted for several years.

A guidance counselor will visit the children in the classroom to talk to the students and make sure they feel safe, according to a report.

Trump's New Travel Ban Is Set to Begin Oct.18; Adds N. Korea, Venezuela, Chad; Drops Sudan

President Donald Trump today (September 25, 2017) ordered a revised travel ban which adds three countries -- North Korea, Venezuela, and Chad -- and removes one from the list first introduced months ago, according to the UPI website.

Sudan was dropped from the list, and the end of its restrictions is effective immediately.

The new restrictions on Chad and North Korea ban all citizens from those countries. Restrictions against Venezuela apply only to government officials and their immediate families.

Enforcement of the changes is scheduled to begin October 18, 2017. Trump may have added North Korea and Venezuela -- countries that are not primarily Islamic -- to the travel ban, in order to make it more difficult to prove in the courts that the travel ban is anti-Muslim and therefore is unconstitutional.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Conservative Catholics Accuse Pope of Heresy; Say His "Joy of Love" Document Backs Heresy

More than 60 Roman Catholic theologians, priests, and academics have formally accused Pope Francis of spreading heresy after the pontiff opened the door last year to allowing divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Communion, the Fox News website reports today (September 24, 2017).

In a 25-page letter delivered to Francis last month, the 62 signatories issued a "filial correction" to the pope -- a measure they said had not been used since the 14th century.

The letter accused Pope Francis of propagating seven heretical positions concerning marriage, moral life, and sacraments with his 2016 document titled "The Joy of Love" and subsequent "acts, words, and omissions."

Pope Francis has not responded to the accusation.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Erdogan Protesters Beaten during NY Speech; Many Shouted "Terrorist" at Turkey's Dictator

Violence erupted at a New York hotel after protesters heckled a speech by Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with chants of "terrorist," the Yahoo News website reports today (September 23, 2017).

"You're a terrorist, get out of my country," one protester shouted at Erdogan before he was punched and dragged away. Erdogan is viewed as a dictator who has ended freedom of the press in Turkey and has jailed thousands of his opponents without a trial.

In New York City to attend United Nations meetings, Erdogan was addressing supporters in Turkish at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square when he was interrupted by several demonstrators.

It is not clear if the men in suits doing the pushing and punching were pro-Erdogan attendees or his bodyguards.

Friday, September 22, 2017

A Half Million Gather in Ukraine to Praise Jesus; Glorify God,Observe 500th Anniv.of Reformation

The streets of Kiev, Ukraine today became filled with songs of praise and thanks, as some 500,000 evangelical Christians gathered to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, according to the Worthy News website.

"Many traveled from all four provinces there just to be part of the celebration, to thank God for the freedom of worship, to thank God for the freedom to preach the Gospel in the country, and to celebrate God's faithfulness," Sergey Rakhuba with Mission Eurasia said.

The gathering came after Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko signed an order recognizing the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

The Protestant Reformation began in 1517, and was sparked by Catholic cleric Martin Luther's criticism of the sale of indulgences by the Catholic Church, in order to hasten the time a deceased loved one would enter heaven.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Russia Warns US on Attacking Syrian Troops; Attacks to Be Met by Ruining US Firing Areas

Russia today (September 21, 2017) issued a stern warning to U.S. forces and their allies in Syria, saying it has deployed Russian special forces alongside Syrian government troops in the battle for the oil-rich Deir el-Zour province and that Moscow would retaliate if the Russians come under fire, according to the Yahoo News website.

The Russian Ministry of Defense said U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have already shelled Syrian government positions outside of Deir el-Zour twice in recent days.

This Russian threat raises the specter of a direct confrontation on the ground between Russian forces and pro-Syrian troops they back on one side, and the U.S.-supported Kurdish-led Syrian forces on the other.

Russian Defense Minister spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said, "Attempts to open fire from SDF-controlled areas would be immediately met with retaliation. The firing positions in those areas will be immediately destroyed with all the arsenal at our disposal."

Joel Osteen Opens Church to Jews for Holy Days; Atones for His Delays in Housing Harvey Victims

In an expression of atonement for an unnecessary delay in opening their Texas church to hurricane flood victims recently, Joel and Victoria Osteen, popular televangelists and leaders of  Houston's Lakewood Church, are offering that Hebrew "happy new year" greeting to a displaced Jewish congregation, the Religion News website reports today (September 21, 2017).

"Congregation Beth Yeshurun experienced devastating flooding," the church's website announced.

It added, "This came at an especially bad time for Beth Yeshurun as the Jewish High Holy Days (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) are this week... Pastors Joel and Victoria offered to help."

The Osteens came under fire recently when they failed -- for no valid reason --  to open their church to many people with flooded homes during the first few days of hurricane Harvey. They did open their 16,800-seat church as a shelter a few days later, and described the delayed opening as a "mix-up."

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Pax Christi:Time for Israeli Occupation to End; Israel Must Return Seized Land to Palestinians

The World Week for Peace for Palestine and Israel is underway, the Independent Catholic News website reports today (September 20, 2017).

Pax Christi (Peace of Christ) International issued the following statement this summer: "In this month [June] of the commemoration of 50 years of Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories, Pax Christi International in collaboration with its members urges the international community to call for the immediate end of the 50-year Israeli occupation and for the parties to reengage in a peace process in compliance with international law.

"Beginning with the Six-Day War, 5-10 June, 1967, five decades of military occupation in disregard of international laws and U.N. resolutions and the willful expansion of settlements has led to dire conditions on the ground that systematically violate the human rights of the Palestinian people.

"Pax Christi International calls for governments, civil society and all people of good will to exercise their influence, through any means available -- political, economic, public and private advocacy -- to seek an end to the occupation."

Iraqi Kurds to Vote for an Ind. State on Sept. 25; Angry Turkey Says Kurdish State Can Cause War

Turkey today (September 20, 2017) escalated its opposition to a Kurdish independence referendum in northern Iraq by placing tanks and rocket launchers across its southern border and saying the break-up of its neighbor could lead to global conflict, according to the Yahoo News website.

Defense Minister Nurettin Caniki said in Ankara that the September 25 vote in Iraq posed a major risk and Turkey would take "every step" needed to thwart any similar steps in its mainly Kurdish southeast.

Iraqi Kurdish authorities have defied growing international pressure to call off the vote.

Kurds in northern Syria -- like those in Iraq -- have capitalized on the turmoil in both countries to consolidate a degree of autonomy. The U.S. has supported Kurdish fighters with military equipment and troop advisers in battling the Islamic State (IS) terror group, despite Turkish protests.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Pope Praises First Ever Multi-Rel. Marathon; Jews,Muslims,Others Run in Rome for Unity

Pope Francis has praised the first ever "multi-religious" half-marathon which saw nuns, refugees, and others run through Rome and was sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Christian Today website reports today (September 19, 2017).

"I hope that this cultural and athletic initiative fosters dialogue, coexistence, and peace," the pope said.

Some 2,000 people took part in the race and its 13-mile course.

Around 200 members of Rome's grand mosque participated, as well as members of the Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, and Bahai communities.

Trump to UN: US Is Ready to Destroy N. Korea; May Need to Destroy It to Defend US and Allies

President Donald Trump's first address to the United Nations General Assembly yesterday made it very clear that the US may soon need to destroy North Korea, the UPI website reports today (September 19, 2017).

"If the United States is forced to defend itself and its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea," he said.

He added that North Korea's nuclear program "threatens the entire world with unthinkable loss of life," as a result of its nuclear weapons program.

He also said he believes that "Rocket Man" Kim Jong Un is "on a suicide mission."