Sunday, February 19, 2017

Pat Robertson:Trump Critics Revolt against God; Lord's Plan for America Is Put in Place by Trump

Televangelist and media mogul Pat Robertson says that those who are opposing President Donald Trump are indirectly opposing God as well, the Christian Today website reports today (February 19, 2017).

Robertson -- the Chairman of CBN and former Southern Baptist minister -- said on "The 700 Club" TV show on February 15: "I think, somehow, the Lord's plan is being put in place for America and those people are not only revolting against Trump, they're revolting against what God's plan is for America."

Robertson accused those who are opposing Trump -- the left-wingers and "so-called progressives" -- of trying to destroy the country and rip Americans of their freedoms one by one.

He added: "They want collectivism. They want socialism. What we're looking at is free markets and freedom from this terrible, overarching bureaucracy."

Turkish Cyprus Leader Sabotages Unity Talks; Greek Cyprus Pres.Calls for Cyprus Federation

The leader of the breakaway Turkish Cypriots says talks to reunify ethnically divided Cyprus can resume once the island's Greek Cypriot president moves to restore deeply shaken trust, the ABC News website reports today (February 19, 2017).

Mustafa Akinci says Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades needs to publicly admit that legislation making the annual commemoration of a 1950 vote to unite the island with Greece compulsory in Greek Cypriot schools was erroneous.

Anastasiades said yesterday the legislation was mistaken, but added that Turkish Cypriots should not "overreact" because there is no support for union with Greece and there is agreement that Cyprus should be reunified as a federation.

Cyprus was split in 1974 when Turkish troops invaded the island and seized the northern third of Cyprus, which Turkey continues to illegally control today.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Iraqi Planes Drop Leaflets to W. Mosul Dwellers; Warn Them Iraqi Troops Are on Way to Battle IS

Iraqi planes today (February 18, 2017) dropped millions of leaflets on the western side of Mosul, warning residents that the battle to dislodge Islamic State (IS) terrorists is imminent as troops began moving in their direction, according to the Reuters website.

The militants are under siege in western Mosul, along with an estimated 650,000 civilians, after U.S.-backed forces surrounding the city forced them from the east in the first phase of an offensive that concluded last month.

"Your armed forces are advancing in the direction of the right side, relying on God," read one of the leaflets, referring to the western side of the northern Iraqi city.

"Get ready to welcome the sons of your armed forces and to cooperate with them, as your brothers on the left side have done, in order to reduce losses and speed up the conclusion" [of the battle], added the leaflet.

Car Bomb Attack in Southeast Turkey Kills Two; 17 People Injured in Attack, 26 People Detained

A car bomb exploded yesterday near a courthouse in southeast Turkey, and officials confirmed today (February 18, 2017) that 26 people have been detained, according to the Big News Network website.

The governor's office said in a press statement that the owner of the van, which was loaded with explosives and parked near the government housing, was among the detained individuals.

The car bomb exploded in the garden of a housing complex for judges and prosecutors in the mainly Kurdish town of Viransehir in Sanliurfa province. Kurdish militants are believed to be responsible for the attack.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said today that two people, the 11-year-old son of a court clerk and a 27-year-old neighborhood guard, were killed in the attack. Reports added that 17 people were injured in the attack.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Roman Polanski Plans Return to US after 39 Yrs.; Film Director's Lawyer Says Plea Deal Avoids Jail

Fugitive filmmaker Roman Polanski -- who fled the U.S. and went to France in 1978 to avoid prison for his statutory rape conviction -- plans to return to the U.S., and is seeking assurances that he will not do jail time, the AFP (Agence France-Presse) website reports today (February 17, 2017).

The award-winning director of "The Pianaist" and "Chinatown," claims he reached a plea deal in the case that would keep him out of prison, his attorney Harland Braun told AFP.

The Paris-born director was convicted of drugging Samantha Gailey -- who was 13 at the time and now uses the surname Geimer -- before raping her at film star Jack Nicholson's house in Los Angeles in 1977. Geimer has called for the charges against Polanski to be dropped.

Born in Paris in 1933 to Polish Jewish parents -- who later brought the family back to their native country -- Polanski saw his parents arrested by Nazis in Krakow's Jewish ghetto and sent to concentration camps.

IS Bombing on Sufi Shrine in Pakistan Kills 88; Worst Attack in Pakistan in Yrs.,Dozens Nabbed

An attack on a Sufi shrine in Pakistan that killed 88 people yesterday has created fear and turmoil within the country, as dozens of suspects were arrested and nearly 40 killed in sweeping raids today (February 17, 2017), according to The Daily Beast website.

The attack -- claimed by the Islamic State (IS) terror group -- was reported to be the deadliest in the country in years.

Islamabad lashed out at Kabul, blaming the bombing on militant sanctuaries across the Afghan border.

Pakistan fired a round of artillery shells into Afghan territory, and shut down the Torkham border crossing as a result of the attack.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

IS Calls on Backers to Kill Anti-IS Islam Clerics; Begins Online Drive Accusing Them of Betrayal

Islamic State (IS) radicals have launched a coordinated online campaign accusing prominent Muslim clerics in the Arab world and the West of betrayal in an apparent bid to delegitimize them, especially in the eyes of younger Muslims, the VOA News website reports today (February 16, 2017).

In its campaign -- titled "Fight the Imams of Unbelief" -- the terror group says the clerics are collaborating with Arab regimes and the international coalition opposed to IS and is urging supporters as a top priority to kill "the evil scholars."

Some analysts believe the terror group is casting around looking for traitors to explain the collapse of IS's battlefield fortunes and to shape perceptions about the reasons for the fall of the terror group's self-styled caliphate.

Others see the new campaign as linked more immediately to the propaganda struggle being waged between IS and Iraqi government over the unfolding battle for Mosul, in which each side is questioning the religious and historical legitimacy of the other.

2016 Was an Unprecedented Yr. for Hate in US; Most Hate Groups Maintain Anti-Semitic Views

A report by a civil rights group reveals that the number of hate groups in the United States rose in 2016 -- an unprecedented year for hate -- and most of them subscribe to anti-Semitic views, the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) website reports today (February 16, 2017).

Last year, 917 hate groups were active, up from 892 in 2015, according to a report released yesterday by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

The SPLC released a list of the hate groups categorized by types, such as anti-immigrant, anti-LGBT, and anti-Muslim. There is no category for anti-Semitic groups because the vast majority of them are anti-Semitic, according to Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Alabama-based center.

The groups active in 2016 include 99 categorized as neo-Nazi, 100 as white nationalist, 130 as Ku Klux Klan, and 21 as Christian Identity -- a religious movement that says whites are the true Israelites and Jews are descended from Satan. Potok said in a statement in the report, "2016 was an unprecedented year for hate."

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Trump, Netanyahu Assess Peace at White House; Trump: Palestinian State Not Needed for Accord

President Trump said today (February 15, 2017) that the United States would no longer insist on a Palestinian state as part of a peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians, backing away from a policy that has underpinned America's role in Middle East peacemaking for the past two decades, according to the NY Times website.

"I'm looking at a two-state and one-state" formulations Trump said, appearing in a joint news conference at the White House with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel. "I like the one that both parties like... I can live with either one."

Trump also told Netanyahu, "I'd like to see you hold back on settlements for a little bit."

Netanyahu repeated his two prerequisites for a peace agreement -- that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state and that Israel maintain security control over the entire West Bank. He added that the obstacle to peace is Palestinian hate, as demonstrated by building statues to those who carry out terrorist attacks and paying their families salaries.

US Considers Sending Ground Forces into Syria; US Troops Would Help to Speed Up Defeat of IS

The U.S. Department of Defense is considering sending conventional ground combat forces into northern Syria for the first time, in order to speed up the defeat of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), the CNN website reports exclusively today (February 15, 2017).

"It's possible that you may see conventional forces hit the ground in Syria for some period of time," one defense official told CNN.

But the official emphasized that any decision is ultimately up to President Donald Trump, who has ordered his defense secretary to come up with a proposal to combat ISIS before the end of the month.

Until now, the U.S. has only deployed small teams made up largely of Special Operations forces in Syria, providing training and assistance to anti-ISIS opposition groups on the ground.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

First Muslim Pres. of College Chaplains Assoc.; Election May Ingrain College Diversity for Yrs.

A national organization of university religious leaders elected its first Muslim president last week in a move that could influence college diversity for years, the Huffington Post website reports today (February 14, 2017).

The National Association of College and University Chaplains recently elected Imam Adeel Zeb to be its next president.

Zeb serves as the Muslim chaplain at the Claremont University Consortium in Southern California and will assume the one-year, volunteer position at NACU this summer.

For Zeb, his election serves not only as a personal milestone, but also as one he hopes will inspire other non-Christian religious leaders to enter the field of college chaplaincy.

Suicide Bomber Kills 13,Wounds 83 in Pakistan; Taliban Claims Responsibility for Savage Attack

An explosion near the Punjab provincial assembly in the Pakistani city of Lahore killed at least 13 people and wounded 83 others yesterday, the Reuters website reports today (February 14, 2017).

Mushtaq Sukhera, inspector general of police in Punjab province, said five police officers were among the dead when an explosion rocked a protest organized by Pakistan's chemists and pharmaceuticals manufacturers.

"It was a suicide attack. The bomber exploded himself when successful negotiations were underway between police officials and the protesters," Sukhera told reporters.

A spokesman for Jamaat-ur-Ahrar, a faction of the Pakistani Taliban, called Reuters and claimed responsibility for the suicide attack.

Monday, February 13, 2017

UN Agents Accused of Spreading Hatred,Terror; UN Watch Says Many Urge Antisemitism,Terror

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is under fire over employees who publicly promote terrorism, praise Nazi mass-murderer Adolf Hitler, support violent jihad, and foment hatred of Jews, The New American website reports today (February 13, 2017).

The latest accusations -- documented in a 130-page report provided to U.S. lawmakers -- come from an investigation by the non-profit watchdog group UN Watch. Dozens of UN agents and employees were implicated, including many with access to children.

The explosive new revelations were laid out late last week at a U.S. congressional subcommittee hearing dealing with the UN, Israel, and Arabs. The investigative report, titled "Poisoning Palestinian Children: A Report on UNRWA Teachers' Incitement to Jihadist Terrorism and Antisemitism," exposes some 40 instances of UN officials and employees -- some of whom are in the classroom supposedly "teaching" vulnerable children -- spreading hatred, promoting terror, and more.

The document shows -- among other examples -- UN officials celebrating terrorist kidnappings of Jewish children, cheering rockets fired at Israeli civilians, erasing Israel from maps, and even praising Nazi dictator Hitler for his role in killing Jews.

Iraqi Girl,14,Kidnapped by IS for Yrs. Escapes; Raped Dozens of Times, Sold in Slave Market

When ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) men entered the village of Kuju, which is in Sinjar, Iraq, they kidnapped the girls and divided them by age, the Clarion Project website reports today (February 13, 2017).

One of those captured -- now aged 14 -- escaped and told her story at the Committee for Peaceful Coexistence organized by a group of Muslim clerics in cooperation with Sulaymaniyah University.

She recounted how she was raped dozens of times by an ISIS fighter with Iraqi citizenship.

After he was killed in one of the battles, his father also started raping her. He eventually sold her in one of the slave markets regularly held by ISIS. Before being sold, she was kept for two years in a holding camp.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Pope Slams "Insults" in Angelus Address Today; Connects Insults to Jesus' "Thou Shalt Not Kill"

Pope Francis today (February 12, 2017) criticized the everyday use of "insults" -- an apparent reference to anonymous attacks he has faced over the last week in Rome -- according to the AFP (Agence France-Presse) website.

In his weekly Angelus address today, Francis highlighted Jesus' commandment, "Thou shalt not kill," saying the edict applied not only to homicide, "but also to those behaviors which offend the dignity of the human person, including insulting words."

Francis may have been referring to criticism he received this past week by conservative Catholics opposed to his numerous reforms of Catholic Church teaching and governance.

"We are used to insults," the pope said. "It is like saying, 'Good morning.'" He added, He "who insults his brother kills that brother in his heart."

Man Acting as Hitler Sought by Austrian Police; Hitler Lookalike Dresses, Acts Like Nazi Tyrant

Austrian police are in pursuit of a man dressed as Adolf Hitler in the town where Hitler was born. Besides dressing the part, eyewitnesses say that the man bears a striking resemblance to the Nazi dictator, the Jerusalem Post website reports today (February 12, 2017).

The man has been sighted several times walking around Braunau am Inn, Austria, Hitler's birthplace.

The Hitler impersonator -- now dubbed the Hitler-Doppelganger -- recently walked into a bar and introduced himself as "Harald Hitler." He has also been photographed outside the house where the infamous Nazi leader was born.

Local authorities say they will charge the man with glorifying Hitler -- a crime in Austria -- once the suspect is found. The man is believed to be between 25 and 30 years old.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Police Seize Sicilian Companies of Mafia Boss; Matteo Messina Denaro's Assets Worth $14M

Police in Sicily today (February 11, 2017) confiscated four olive companies, farmland, villas, and other property that anti-Mafia prosecutors say belong to the business empire of Italy's top Mafia boss, who has been on the run for more than 20 years, according to the Newsmax website.

The property confiscated in the western part of Sicily considered to be Matteo Messina Denaro's power base, was estimated to be worth 13 million euros ($14 million).

The convicted Cosa Nostra mobster is Italy's most-wanted fugitive.

Prosecutors allege the olive businesses and 108 other properties, plus vehicles and bank accounts, were listed in the name of accomplices to hide their actual ownership by the fugitive.

Israeli Police Decide to Indict PM Netanyahu; PM's Wife Claims Gifts Given to Her,Not Bibi

Israel's Channel 2 News reported last night that Israel Police will recommend issuing an indictment against Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu over the "gifts scandal" (a.k.a. "Case 1,000"), the Jewish Press website reports today (February 11, 2017).

According to the report, the police will require between four and six weeks to solidify its recommendation to the prosecution, a period during which the prime minister is expected to be interrogated at least one more time.

Police are not sure yet whether the recommended indictment will be only for fraud and breach of trust, or also for taking a bribe.

Meanwhile, according to Israel's Channel 10 News, Sara Netanyahu, the PM's wife, has already revealed the defense's strategy, by claiming her husband had no knowledge of the gifts she received from his tycoon friends, Arnon Milchan and James Packer.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Trump Will Sign a New Order on Travel Ban; Immigration,Nationality Act Empowers Pres.

In an unyielding determination to protect American lives from foreign terrorists, President Donald Trump said today (February 10, 2017) that he is considering rewriting his executive order -- in a way that may be more acceptable by the courts -- temporarily barring refugees and citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S., according to the Washington Post website.

Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One that he would probably wait until early next week before signing a new executive order.

"We will win the battle," a confident Trump said. He felt it would take too long to wait for his first executive order on immigration to reach the Supreme Court and be approved, while his new executive order would go into effect "rapidly."

The president has forcefully said that judges were wrong in rejecting his executive order, since the Immigration and Nationality Act gives him, as president, broad authority to restrict foreigners from entering the United States.

Top Afghan Gen. Asks Congress for More Troops; Wants Thousands More Troops to Beat Terrorists

The head of U.S. forces in Afghanistan told Congress yesterday he needs several thousand more troops to break the "stalemate" in the fight against the Taliban and other terrorist groups in that country, the Military Times website reports today (February 10, 2017).

Gen. John Nicholson Jr., commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, said those additional forces could either be U.S. servicemembers or other coalition allies.

Nicholson's request for more troops comes as lawmakers await President Trump's long-term plan for the 15-year-old war, and as lawmakers continue to spar over former President Barack Obama's Afghan strategy.

About 8,500 U.S. troops and another 5,000 troops from foreign allies are still stationed in Afghanistan -- even though the official combat mission there ended in 2014.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Pope Francis Admits Vatican Is a Corrupt Place; Lives in Peace by "Healthy Dose of Not Caring"

Pope Francis admitted to the leaders of the world's Catholic male religious orders that the Vatican is a corrupt place, but said he was at peace in his work, the Catholic News website reports today (February 9, 2017).

"There is corruption in the Vatican," the Pontiff told members of the Union of Superiors General in November, according to a report of the meeting released for the first time today by the Italian Jesuit magazine "La Civilta Cattolica." The report was written by Jesuit Fr. Antonio Spadaro, chief editor of "Civilta Cattolica" and a papal confidant.

The Pope made the admission after being asked by one of the religious leaders how he maintains serenity in his work.

"I do not take tranquilizers," Francis joked before adding : "The Italians offer good advice: to live in peace you need a healthy dose of not caring."

Assad:Some of Syria's Refugees Are Terrorists; Admits Some Refugees Aligned with Terrorists

Weighing in on one of the most controversial issues in American politics -- the danger posed to host countries by the 4.8 million people who have fled Syria's civil war -- Syrian President Basher Assad told Yahoo News exclusively today (February 9, 2017) that some of the refugees are "definitely" terrorists.

In an exclusive interview with Yahoo News at his presidential office in Damascus, Assad said President Trump's freeze on admitting refugees from his country "is an American issue" on which he would not take sides.

But when asked if some of those who fled Syria are "aligned with terrorists," Assad quickly replied, "Definitely."

Assad said he couldn't estimate how many terrorists there might be, but added that "you don't need a significant number to commit atrocities [as illustrated by the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks in the U.S.]."

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Italy with 1.4M Muslims Won't Recognize Islam; Italian Govt.,Muslims Sign Pact to Aid Approval

At least 1.4 million Muslims are living in Italy, making Islam the country's de facto second-largest religion. But as far as Italian authorities are concerned, Islam does not exist, the Washington Post website reports today (February 8, 2017).

Unlike Christianity and Judaism, Islam isn't formally recognized in Italy. Consequently, mosques cannot receive public funds, Islamic weddings have no legal value, and Muslim workers aren't entitled to take days off for religious holidays.

This month, Italy's Interior Ministry and the country's nine major Islamic associations signed an unprecedented agreement. Muslim organizations agreed to create a registry of their imams and to require them to preach in Italian. In return, the government vowed to "facilitate the path" toward the official recognition of Islam in Italy.

The "National Pact for an Italian Islam" has been hailed as a first step toward the normalization of Islam in Italy. But it has also been criticized for creating a double standard: No other religious group has been asked by authorities to hold sermons in Italian.

American Rabbi in Russia Is Being Forced Out; Ari Edelkopf Seen as Threat to Russian Security

An American rabbi who has worked for the Chabad movement in Russia since 2002 said he and his family are facing deportation under a provision dealing with threats to national security, the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) website reports today (February 8, 2017).

Ari Edelkopf, a father of seven who grew up in the United States and lived in Israel before settling in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi as Chabad's envoy there, said that he was informed of the decision without receiving further information on specific allegations.

Amid a crackdown in Russia on organizations with foreign funding, Edelkop[f's staying permit was revoked in December. He lost an appeal in regional court, forcing him to leave Russia by February 11.

The Chabad-affiliated Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia condemned the move. Boruch Gorin, a federation spokesman, said this was "an attempt to establish control" on Jewish communities in Russia, which are serviced by some 70 rabbis, of whom half are foreign.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Suicide Bomber Kills 20 Outside Afghan Court; Some 40 Injured,Taliban Believed Responsible

At least 20 people were killed and about 40 others injured today (February 7, 2017) by a bomb outside the Supreme Court in the Afghan capital of Kabul, according to the Euro News website.

It is believed that a suicide bomber targeted employees leaving their offices at the end of the working day, causing panic.

An interior ministry spokesman said the bomber approached on foot and detonated the device in the car park.

The attack seems to be the latest in a series of attacks on Afghanistan's judiciary by the Taliban, which is fighting to replace the U.S.-backed government.

Rights Group:13,000 Hung in Syria Since 2011; "Human Slaughterhouse" Used for Govt. Foes

A report published today (February 7, 2017) by an international rights group states groups of 50 prisoners at a time at one jail in Syria have been executed on at least a weekly basis for about five years, according to the UPI website.

Amnesty International says in the report -- titled "Human Slaughterhouse" -- that Syrian officials approved inhumane conditions, torture, and extermination policies leading to mass hangings at the Saydnaya Prison. Some 13,000 people died from 2011--15.

The report indicates that many of the people held at the prison opposed the Syrian government on some level as the years-long civil war in Syria was just beginning and high-ranking officials in the Syrian government authorized many of the executions.

"The horrors depicted in this report reveal a hidden, monstrous campaign, authorized at the highest levels of the Syrian government, aimed at crushing any form of dissent within the Syrian population," said Lynn Maalouf, deputy director of research at Amnesty International's regional office in Beirut, Lebanon.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Many Iraqi,Syrian,Afghan Airstrikes Unreported; Pentagon Failed to Disclose Thousands of Strikes

An investigation by the Military Times has revealed that the American military has failed to publicly disclose thousands of lethal airstrikes conducted over several years in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan, the Military Times website reports today (February 6, 2017).

The enormous data gap raises serious doubts about transparency in reported progress against the Islamic State, al Qaida, and the Taliban.

Most alarming is that this data has probably been incomplete since the U.S. war on terrorism began in October 2001.

This lack of transparency, in effect, undermines confidence in much of what the Pentagon has disclosed about its prosecution of these wars, prompts critics to call into question whether the military sought to mislead the American public, and casts doubt on the competency with which other vital data collection is being performed and publicized.

Seven Percent of Australian Priests Abused Kids; Finding: 4,444 Child Victims from 1980 to 2015

New data from the Australian royal commission today (February 6, 2017) reveals that seven percent of Australia's Catholic priests were accused of abusing children in the six decades since 1950, according to The Guardian website.

The royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse released damning statistics today on the scale of the crisis within the Catholic Church.

Twenty-two percent of Christian Brothers and 20 percent of Marist Brothers -- both orders that run schools -- were alleged perpetrators. More than one in five priests in the Benedictine community of New Norcia were alleged perpetrators, while 17.2 percent of clergy were accused of crimes against children in the Salesians of Don Bosco order.

In total, between 1980 and 2015, 4,444 people alleged incidents of child sexual abuse relating to 93 Catholic Church authorities. The abuse allegedly took place in more than 1,000 institutions. The average age of victims was 10.5 for girls and 11.6 for boys.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Turkish Police Detain Over 420 in Anti-IS Raids; Turkey Ups Anti-Terrorist Efforts Due to Attacks

Turkey's state-run press says anti-terrorism police have detained more than 420 people over alleged links to the Islamic State (IS) group, the VOA (Voice of America) News website reports today (February 5, 2017).

Turkey says that 60 IS suspects -- the vast majority of them foreigners -- were taken into custody in the capital, Ankara.

It also says a total 423 people were detained in simultaneous police operations that spanned several cities, including Istanbul and Gaziantep, near the border with Syria.

Turkey -- which endured a failed coup attempt and dozens of bloody attacks linked to IS or Kurdish militants in 2016 -- has been increasing its anti-terrorism efforts in recent weeks.

Assailants Break Windows at Chicago Synagogue; Hate Crime at Loop Synagogue to Raise Security

Unknown assailants broke windows and placed swastikas at the entrance to a Chicago synagogue early yesterday morning, in what local authorities said was a hate crime, the Times of Israel website reports today (February 5, 2017).

The president of Loop Synagogue, Lee Zoldan, told NBC Chicago that the attack was witnessed by nearby construction workers.

The workers said that the incident began when a black SUV stopped outside the synagogue a little after midnight, and one of the passengers got out and broke the windows using a sledgehammer or an axe. The person returned to the SUV to collect the swastika stickers that were then placed on the front door.

The synagogue board president said that the board would consider increased security measures.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Mystery Posters Rebuking Pope Appear in Rome; Accuse Pope of Attacking Conservative Catholics

Posters accusing Pope Francis of attacking conservative Catholics appeared around Rome today (February 4, 2017) and were quickly covered up by city officials, according to the Reuters website.

The posters -- put up by mystery activists early this morning -- featured a picture of a stern-faced pope and the slogan: "Where's your mercy?"

The text accused Francis of several interventions targeting conservatives, including what the posters called "the beheading of the Knights of Malta."

This was a reference to an ancient Catholic order of knights which is now a worldwide charity and whose former Grand Master handed in his resignation to the pope last week after a two-month, highly public feud with the Vatican.

Muslim Terrorist Attacks Soldiers Near Louvre; Had 2 Machetes, 2 Backpacks, Shot by Soldiers

A knife-wielding man shouting "Allahu akbar" ("Allah is great") attacked French soldiers on patrol near the Louvre Museum yesterday in what officials described as a terror attack, the Yahoo News website reports today (February 4, 2017).

The attack at the entrance to a shopping mall that extends beneath the museum sowed panic, and brought memories of the Paris terrorist attacks in 2015 and 2016.

A police official said the attacker was carrying two backpacks and had two machetes. He added that the man launched himself at the soldiers -- injuring one of them -- when they told him he could not bring his bags into the Carrousel du Louvre.

The attacker -- who was shot four times and is in critical condition -- has been identified as Egyptian-born Abdullah Reda Rafaie al-Hamahmy, 28, a radical Muslim.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Trump Vows to Let Chruches Engage in Politics; Plans to Quell Law Banning Pol.Talk in Sermons

President Donald Trump vowed in his first National Prayer Breakfast as chief executive to make good on a campaign promise to repeal the law that restricts political speech from the pulpit, the Religion News website reports today (February 3, 2017).

"I will get rid of it, totally destroy the Johnson Amendment and allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear," he said on February 2 to a gathering of 3,500 faith leaders, politicians, and other dignitaries from around the world.

The Johnson amendment -- championed by then-Texas Sen. Lyndon Johnson -- prohibits tax-exempt houses of worship from engaging in partisan politics. Otherwise, they risk their tax-exempt status.

Repeal of the amendment -- passed into law in 1954 -- is among the list of  important acts President Trump plans to accomplish in his first year in office.

Jewish Woman Verbally Abused in NYC Subway; Man Shouted "Dirty Jew, Hail the Hitler Youth!"

A Jewish woman was verbally abused and shoved aboard a New York City subway by a white man with a German accent who recited an anti-Semitic pamphlet, the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) website reports today (February 3, 2017).

The incident on the evening of January 30 occurred shortly after the suspect boarded the train at a downtown Manhattan station, according to police.

The suspect shoved the woman -- an unnamed 25-year-old -- after shouting at her "Dirty Jew" and "Hail the Hitler Youth!"

He was carrying a black bag or briefcase and is still at large, police said.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Romanians Protest New Law Easing Corruption; Say It Lets Corrupt Politicians to Escape Justice

Protesters in Bucharest, Romania have condemned a government decision to decriminalize some misconduct offenses, in one of the biggest demonstrations since the 1989 revolution, the Euro News website reports today (February 2, 2017).

Tens of thousands of angry Romanians claim the passing of an emergency decree on January 31 will allow corrupt politicians to escape justice.

The change in the law decriminalizes misconduct in cases where financial damage is less than 44,000 euros.

Critics say the change in the law will reverse the fight of anti-corruption in Romania -- the most corrupt country in Europe -- that has drawn widespread praise internationally.

Anti-Semitism in UK Rises to Highest Level Ever; There Were 1,309 Incidents in 2016, 960 in 2015

Anti-Semitism in the UK reached unprecedented levels in 2016, after a rise of 36 percent in the number of incidents, the Times of Israel website reports today (February 2, 2017).

Following today's release of its annual figures, the Community Security Trust (CST) said there were now more than twice as many anti-Semitic incidents per month than four years ago, with the level of hatred eclipsing that seen during the Gaza War in 2014.

Charity bosses were shocked by the huge and sustained increase, with 1,309 incidents reported last year -- the highest on record.

This compares to 960 incidents in 2015 and 1,182 the year before, when Israel launched military action against militant groups in the Gaza Strip, provoking a strong backlash against Jewish communities across the world, something the charity called a "trigger event."

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Eight Arrested in Austria in Anti-Terror Raids; Islam Preacher Convinced Teens to Fight for IS

Austrian police have taken eight people into custody on suspicion of belonging to a terrorist organization, the Euro News website reports today (February 1, 2017).

The raids were part of an ongoing investigation into possible members of the Islamic State (IS).

Austrian media reported it was a bid to break up a network of a Muslim preacher from Bosnia suspected of brainwashing teenagers into fighting for the jihadist group.

Around 800 police officers were involved in the counter-terrorism raids, which involved searching mosques and apartments in Graz and Vienna.

U.S. Sends Armored Vehicles to Kurdish Forces; Kurds to Use Them to Fight IS in Northern Syria

A shipment of armored vehicles has been sent to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) by the U.S. government to help fight against ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), the Clarion Project website reports today (February 1, 2017).

"American armored vehicles have arrived for the Syrian Democratic Forces for the first time," SDF spokesman Talal Sello told the media. "This happened after the new U.S. administration came to power."

He credited the new administration for the armored vehicles, saying "previously we didn't get support in this form; we would get light weapons and ammunition. There are signs of full support from the new American leadership -- more than before -- for our forces."

Turkey -- a U.S. ally and NATO member -- has long objected to American military support for the Kurds. Turks and Kurds have gone to war in the past, as Kurds have been seeking to establish an independent state in Southern Turkey for over two decades. Turkish President Erdogan criticized the armor shipment, saying that dealing with those they regard as terror groups and supporting them with weapons strengthens and spreads terror.