Thursday, May 28, 2020

Trump to End Visas of 3,000 Chinese Students; Fears National Security Threats Posed by China

The Trump administration is planning to cancel the visas of at least 3,000 Chinese graduate students and researchers with ties to Communist China's military schools, the Daily Beast website reports today (May 28, 2020).

The FBI and the Justice Department have been briefing American universities for years about potential national security threats posed by Chinese students, particularly those working in the sciences.

The mass visa cancellation would be the first designed to end access to the U.S. school system for a category of Chinese students.

Officials have acknowledged there is no direct evidence that the students who are about to lose their visas have done anything wrong.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

US Passes 100K COVID Deaths as States Reopen; Exceed Americans Killed in All Wars Since Korea

The United States blew past another tragic landmark in the fight against coronavirus today (May 27, 2020), surpassing 100,000 deaths nationwide, according to the NY Daily News website.

The devastating toll -- reported by Johns Hopkins University's Coronavirus Resource Center -- is much higher than any other country in the world and vastly exceeds  the number of Americans killed in every conflict since the Korean War.

The deadly virus originated in Wuhan, China, with the first official case diagnosed on December 1, 2019.

As the disease spread worldwide, President Donald Trump insisted in January after the first U.S. patient was diagnosed that the nation had it "totally under control."

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

UK,Sweden,Brazil Have Highest COVID Deaths; Sweden's Lax Restrictions Have Negative Impact

The UK continues to rank as one of the worst hit countries by COVID-19 deaths per million, the Yahoo News website reports today (March 26, 2020).

Figures compiled by Oxford University show that despite a continuous fall in coronavirus fatalities, only Sweden and Brazil are suffering worse daily death rates.

Both have been highlighted for how they have covered the coronavirus pandemic, with Sweden having more lax restrictions than any other country and Brazil's president often playing down the virus's deadliness.

The data shows the UK's seven-day average up to May 26 was 4.46 confirmed deaths per million, with Sweden on 4.68 and Brazil on 4.49.

Monday, May 25, 2020

US Imposes Restrictions on Travelers from Brazil; Blocks Non-citizens in Brazil during Past 2 Weeks

As the death toll from coronavirus in Brazil continues to rise, the U.S. government announced new restrictions on travelers entering the United States from Latin America's largest country, the NY Daily News website reports today (May 25, 2020).

In a proclamation issued by President Trump on May 24, the U.S. began banning any non-citizen from arriving into the country if they had been in Brazil over the past 14 days.

"Today's action will help ensure foreign nationals who have been in Brazil do not become a source of additional infection in our country," White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said yesterday.

With 363,618 cases, Brazil has had the largest coronavirus outbreak of any country outside the U.S., as attempts to fight the virus have been hindered by President Jair Bolsonaro's staunch opposition to the lockdowns imposed by some state governments.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Public Gets to Receive Pope at St. Peter's Square; First Time Public Gets to Do So in Past 3 Months

The public returned to St. Peter's Square today (May 24, 2020) to receive Pope Francis's blessing from his window for the first time in nearly three months, as he convoked a year of reflection on the environment, according to the Yahoo News website.

Only a few dozen people went to the square, which was reopened on May 18 along with St. Peter's Basilica following coronavirus lockdowns. They kept to social distancing rules and most wore masks.

Francis delivered his message via the internet from his library, as those in the square watched on large screens, and then went to the window for the silent blessing.

In the past three months, he has blessed an empty square.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Fauci:Most of US Reopening in a Prudent Way; Feels Prolonged Lockdowns Are Not Necessary

White House Coronavirus Task Force member Dr. Anthony Fauci said yesterday that "most of the country is reopening in a prudent way," and that staying locked down for a prolonged period of time is not the right approach, the Breitbart website reports today (May 23, 2020).

Fauci said, "I don't want people to think that any of us feel that staying locked down for a prolonged period of time is the way to go."

He added that he is concerned if places are reopening while cases are increasing and the  recommended benchmarks are not being followed.

Fauci warned that there are some situations where people might be rushing to open early and suggested that these people proceed with caution.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Trump Warns Governors:Open Churches or I Will; Churches Hold Our Society Together,Unite People

President Donald Trump warned governors today (May 22, 2020) that if they don't reopen the nation's houses of worship "right now," he will "override" them, according to the Newsmax website.

"Today I am identifying houses of worship, churches, synagogues, and mosques, as essential places that provide essential services," Trump said.

He called on governors to "do the right thing and allow these very important essential places of faith to open right now. For this weekend. If they don't do it, I will override the governors.In America, we need more prayer, not less."

"These are places that hold our society together and keep our people united," Trump added.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Lori Loughlin Pleads Guilty to College Shame; Paid $500,000 to Get 2 Girls into U. of S. Cal.

Actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, made a plea deal with prosecutors for their role in the college admissions scandal, the U.S. Attorney's Office in the District of Massachusetts announced today (May 21, 2020), according to the Yahoo News website.

The "Full House" star, 55, and her fashion designer husband, 56. will both plead guilty -- perhaps tomorrow -- to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud. They were accused of paying a $500,000 bribe to get their two daughters into the University of Southern California as crew recruits, despite neither having played crew in high school.

Giannulli also agreed to plead guilty to to honest-services wire and mail fraud, which increases his prison time.

Loughrin is expected to receive a sentence of two months in prison, a $150,000 fine and two years of supervised release with 100 hours of community service. Giannulli will serve five months in prison, pay  a $250,000 fine and have two years of supervised release with 250 hours of community service.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

It'll Take 6 Months or More to Return to Normal; Most Americans Feel Normalcy Not Coming Soon

A new NPR/PBS News Hour Marist poll finds two-thirds of Americans do not expect their daily lives to return to normal for at least six months, the NPR website reports today (May 20, 2020).

"There's a great sense that normalcy is not around the corner," said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, which conducted the poll.

Since the coronavirus pandemic hit, Americans have also grown more wary of voting in person. Half of them now say they would vote by mail if it's allowed by their state, according to the poll.

About one-quarter of Americans voted by mail in the 2016 general elections, Miringoff noted.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Today Is Happy Day of Solution for COVID-19; Mass. Biotech Co. Moderna Could Defeat Virus

Today (May 19, 2020) is perhaps the most hopeful day so far for defeating the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., as a Massachusetts biotech company reported a promising vaccine trial, according to the Washington Times website.

Moderna, Inc, reported that the first coronavirus vaccine to be tested in humans appears to be safe and to stimulate an immune response.

Some patients who were vaccinated developed antibodies at levels mirroring recovered COVID-19 patients.

"We're quite pleased with the breadth of the immune response so far," said Dr. Stephen Hoge, Moderna's president.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Italy Begins to Reopen after Its COVID Lockdown; Was 1st Country to Pass China's COVID Death Toll

Italy recorded some of its lowest coronavirus infection rates and began to significantly ease its lockdown today (May 18, 2020), according to the Yahoo News website.

Italy, which in March became the first country in the world to surpass China's death toll, recorded 145 coronavirus deaths in the past 24 hours -- the lowest since the lockdown began.

The decline in the infection rate means that, from today, a significant restart to Italian life has kicked in.

Shops, salons, and restaurants have all begun to reopen to customers, as long as they can find a way to comply with social distancing measures, and, for the first time since the lockdown began, Italians will again be able to drink an espresso at a counter in a bar.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Many Worshipers Return to Church in Greece; Gloves, Sanitizer at Entry, Chairs 2 Mtrs. Apart

Thousands of Greeks returned to church today (May 17, 2020) after weeks of staying away, as a ban on mass gatherings to curb the spread of the coronavirus was eased, according to the Reuters website.

It was a special moment for those who gathered from early Sunday morning in the courtyard of St. Spiridon Church in Piraeus, where melodious chants of the Sunday liturgy were broadcast on loudspeakers and heard down at the seaport.

Normally adjoining pews were replaced with chairs inside the church and in its courtyard as social distancing rules applied. Chairs were set two meters apart with boundaries in the courtyard marked with red and white masking tape.

Disposable gloves and sanitizer were available at the church entrance. Some individuals kissed icons, as is customary in the Greek Orthodox religion.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Pentagon: US Would Lose Pacific War with China; Trump Mad at China for Lying on Its COVID Crisis

"Eye-opening" Pentagon war games have revealed growing fears that the U.S. would lose a war fought with China in the Pacific, and that any attack would lead to U.S. "suffering capital losses," the Daily Mail (British) website reports today (May 16, 2020).

The analysis is expected to come to light in the Pentagon's 2020 China military power report this summer.

The warning comes as tensions continue to mount between the two nations, after U.S. President Donald Trump blasted China's handling of the coronavirus pandemic  and suggested China lied about the extent of its crisis.

Tensions between the U.S. and China have escalated in recent months, as the coronavirus pandemic has ravaged the globe.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Retail Sales Fall to Record Low for Month of April; COVID-19 Hinders Clothing, Restaurant, Gas Sales

Retail spending in the U.S. nosedived again last month, dropping a record 16.4% as people avoided restaurants, bars, stores, and malls dung the coronavirus pandemic, the NPR website reports today (May 15, 2020).

The devastation spread across all sectors, hitting clothing and furniture stores, restaurants, and gas stations.

April's plunge nearly doubled the record drop of 8.3% set just a month earlier.

Retail sales are a part of the economy, which has been battered by the lockdowns across the country, leading to tens of millions of layoffs.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Pope Asks Worshipers to Beg God to End COVID; Urges Believers of Every Religion Pray for Mercy

Pope Francis said today (May 14, 2020) that at a time of global "tragedy and suffering" because of the coronavirus, believers of every religion should beg mercy from the one God and father of all, according to the Crux website.

During his early morning Mass, Pope Francis joined leaders of every religion marking May 14 as a day of prayer, fasting, and acts of charity to ask God to stop the coronavirus pandemic.

"Think about the tragedy and also about the economic consequences, the consequences on education," the pope said in his homily.

"That is why today everyone, brothers and sisters from every religious tradition are praying to God," he said

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Fauci:Opening Early Could Increase COVID Cases; Urges States Have 2-Week Decline before Opening

Dr. Anthony Fauci, public face of the White House coronavirus task force, warned states against reopening too soon, stating during a Senate testimony today (May 13, 2020) that doing so before certain "checkpoints" in the federal recovery plan have been met could result in new "outbreaks" down the line, according to the New American website.

"What we have worked out is a guideline framework for how to open America again," said Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) since 1994.

The health administrator was referring to guidelines the White House has released for states and localities to allow businesses to resume their operations. 

Among them is the guideline that governments  wait to see an uninterrupted decline in coronavirus cases over a two-week period. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Two Men Were Not Wearing Masks at LA Target; Nabbed for Attacking Employees Ordering Masks

Two men were arrested at a Target store in Los Angeles after a video of them fighting with employees escorting them out because they weren't wearing masks went viral, the Vice website reports today (May 12, 2020).

Phillip Hamilton, 31, and his brother Paul, 29, were being escorted out of the Van Nuys, California store by store employees on May 1, since LA County requires store customers to wear face masks to avoid the coronavirus spread. One of the Hamilton brothers turned around and punched one of the employees.

An ensuing brawl involved the two brothers, three store employees, and multiple other customers. A Target employee was taken to the hospital and was treated for a broken arm.

Both Hamilton brothers were charged with felony battery and had bail set at $50,000, according to Los Angeles police.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Survey:Few Believe Life's Purpose Is Loving God; Only 18% View Purpose of Life to Be Loving God

A new survey found that less than one in five of Americans believe life's purpose is knowing and loving God, the Christian Headlines website reports today (May 11, 2020).

According to the American Worldview Inventory from the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University, the survey revealed that Americans largely do not believe in a life spent serving God.

The survey included 2,000 American respondents polled both via phone and online.

Only 18 percent said the universal purpose is "knowing, loving, and serving God."

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Many Hit in Germany Protesting COVID Limits; Bottles Thrown at Officers in Protests in Berlin

Dozens of people in Germany were detained yesterday following protests against the pandemic restrictions after some rallies turned violent, the Euro News  website reports today(May 10, 2020).

Berlin police said 86 people were detained after bottles were thrown at officers during demonstrations at Alexanderplatz, a large central square in former East Berlin.

One officer was injured, and another was injured in a separate incident in front of the Reichstag legislative building, where 45 people were detained.

Police in Cologne said some protesters in the city urged shoppers to remove their masks when entering stores.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Job Losses, Unemployment Rate Set New Records; Economy Now Worst Ever Since Great Depression

The Labor Department announced today (May 8, 2020) that the U.S. economy set new records last month for job losses and the unemployment rate, as the coronavirus pandemic took an enormous toll on economic activity throughout the country, according to The Fiscal Times website.

Payroll employment fell by 20.5 million during the month, driving the unemployment rate to 14.7%.

The job loss numbers reflect the largest monthly employment contraction in U.S. history, dwarfing the monthly totals seen during the 2008-2009 recession.

Indeed, the unemployment rate is now the highest it has ever been since the Great Depression.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Northeastern Univ. Sued for "Inferior" Online Ed; Switched from Classroom Ed Due to Coronavirus

A lawsuit has been filed in U.S. District Court against Northeastern University in Boston by students alleging the online education they are receiving is inferior to classroom education, Boston's WCVB (channel 5) website reports.

Northeastern shut down its campus on March 12, as COVID-19 spread through Massachusetts.

The leading plaintiff in the lawsuit, graduate student Manny Chong, is studying for a master's degree in counseling psychology. Chong said his degree requires face-to-face, in-person interaction.

"Instruction supplied substantially or entirely online has been recognized as pedagogically inferior by the Commission on Accreditation of the American Psychological Association," the lawsuit claims.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Report:Nonreligious People Face Discrimination; Include Atheists, Agnostics, Skeptics, Humanists

A new study, called "Reality Check: Being Nonreligious in America," has found that nonreligious people face much discrimination and stigma, the Religion News Service website reports today (May 6, 2020).

The report -- produced by the nonprofit American Atheists -- is the culmination of a survey of nearly 34,000 nonreligious people living in the U.S., including atheists, agnostics, skeptics, and humanists.

Alison Gil, vice president for legal affairs and policy of the American Atheists, said the report gives nuance to the identities of those who are nonreligious.

She added that many people who took the survey detailed instances of discrimination they've faced.


Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Trump:Economy to Open Despite Death Increase; Plans to Disband COVID-19 Task Force by May 30

President Donald Trump declared today (May 5, 2020) that the economy must reopen soon even if it means more deaths, sending a mixed message to the nation as the U.S. coronavirus death toll surged above 70,000, according to the NY Daily News website.

Trump floated the shocking proposal while touring a face mask-producing facility in Phoenix, Arizona -- his first cross-country trip in months.

Trump also confirmed today that his coronavirus task force will soon be disbanding.

Vice President Mike Pence told reporters at the White House earlier today that the goal is to dissolve Trump's COVID-19 task force by Memorial Day.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Former Pope Benedict: Foes Trying to Silence Me; Resent His Opposition to Gay Marriages, Atheists

Traditionalist former pope Benedict XVI accuses opponents of wanting to "silence" him while associating gay marriage with "the Antichrist" and attacking "humanist ideologies" in a new authorized biography published today in Germany, according to the AFP (Agence France-Presse) website.

The 93-year-old, whose original name is Joseph Ratzinger, claims in "Benedict XVI--A Life" that he has fallen victim to a "malignant distortion of reality" in reactions to his interventions in theological debates.

"The spectacle of reactions coming from German theology is so misguided and ill-willed that I would prefer not to speak on it," he says.

The former pope -- who dramatically resigned in 2013 -- was especially criticized for a 2018 text that was seen as critical of the Jewish faith.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Pope:Cure Vaccine for COVID-19 Must Be Shared; Says World Must Cooperate to Produce a Vaccine

Pope Francis today (May 3, 2020) called for international scientific cooperation to discover a vaccine for the coronavirus, and said successful vaccine should be made available around the world, according to the Reuters website.

Francis, during his address today, thanked all those around the world who have been providing essential services.

He encouraged international cooperation to deal with the crisis and combat the virus, which has infected nearly 3.5 million people and killed more than 240,000 people worldwide.

"In fact, it is important to unite scientific capabilities, in a transparent and impartial way to find vaccines and treatments," he said.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Californians Protest COVID-19 Lockdown Limits; Protesters Amass on Streets in Huntington Beach

Californians, weary of stay-at-home orders that have left millions unemployed staged displays of defiance yesterday, with hundreds of flag-waving protesters gathering at the  Capitol and along a Southern California beach, the Yahoo News  website reports today (May 2, 2020).

While much of the population remained behind closed doors to deter the spread of coronavirus, Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state could begin relaxing some aspects of the restrictions next week.

In downtown Huntington Beach yesterday, protesters swarmed the streets, backing up traffic for at least a mile along the Pacific Coast Highway.

A day earlier, Gov. Newsom ordered all beaches in Orange County to close, after thousands last weekend sprawled on the sand in Huntington Beach and nearby Newport Beach.

Friday, May 1, 2020

White House Forbids Fauci's Congress Testimony; Says His COVID-19 Info Would Be Non-Productive

The White House said today (May 1, 2020) that top U.S. health official Anthony Fauci will not testify next week to a congressional committee examining the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Reuters website.

"It is counter-productive to have the very individuals involved in those efforts appearing at congressional hearings," White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement.

Fauci's testimony was being sought for a May 6 hearing by a House Appropriations subcommittee that overseas health programs, said spokesman Evan Hollander.

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has been one of the leading medical experts helping to guide the U.S. response to the highly contagious virus that has swept across the United States.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Greek Orth.Church Demands In-Person Worship; PM Lifting Some COVID-19 Limits, Not Worship

The Greek Orthodox Church has demanded that Greece ease restrictions on in-person worship, as the European nation begins to reopen following a coronavirus shutdown, the Christian Post website reports today (April 30, 2020).

While Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis plans to lift certain restrictions enacted in March to curb the spread of the pandemic, a ban on in-person religious services will remain.

Church spokesman Metropolitan of Nafpaktos Hierotheos has taken issue with the decision. "What do they really think the Church is?" stated Hierotheos. "Do they consider it like any other supermarket or union or nail and hair salon?"

The Orthodox Church is the established religion in Greece with about 90 percent of the population identifying as Orthodox Christian.


Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Trump Signs Order to Keep Meat Plants Open; Does So to Prevent Absence of Meat in Markets

President Trump signed an executive order today (April 29, 2020) using the Defense Production Act to require meat processing plants to keep operating, according to the Newsy website.

It classifies those plants as "critical infrastructures" while the U.S. faces a potential meat shortage.

Two of the nation's largest pork processing plants are now closed due to coronavirus outbreaks.

A White House official said the administration's action is designed to prevent multiple long-term plant shutdowns that could lead to a supply drop of 80% in supermarkets.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

US Food Supply Chain Has Begun Breaking Down; COVID-19 May Soon Block Meat Delivery to Stores

Our nation's food supply chain to grocery stores is starting to break down due to the coronavirus, the New American website reports today (April 28, 2020).

Farmers have been plowing under crops that have no markets to ship them to, and area food banks say they cannot get enough food to continue operations.

John Tyson, chairman of the board at Tyson Foods Inc., warned about the impending crisis in a full-page ad published April 26 in the New York Times and other newspapers in which he warned, "The food supply chain is breaking."

Tyson said the prospect of closing down pork, beef, and chicken plants because of the coronavirus has made the U.S. supply chain "vulnerable."

Monday, April 27, 2020

New Zealand Asserts It Eliminated Coronavirus; Had Less Than 1500 COVID-19 Cases, 19 Deaths

New Zealand says it has stopped community transmission of COVID-19, in effect eliminating the virus, the BBC website reports today (April 27, 2020).

With new cases in single figures for several days -- including just one yesterday -- Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the virus was "currently" eliminated.

Officials have warned against complacency, saying it does not mean a total end to new coronavirus cases.

New Zealand has reported fewer than 1,500 cases of coronavirus and 19 deaths.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Saudi Arabia Bans Flogging as a Punishment; Human Rights Groups Condemned Cruel Act

Saudi Arabia has abolished flogging as a punishment, the state human rights commission said yesterday, hailing the move a "major step forward" in the reform program launched by the king and his powerful son, the Yahoo News website reports today (April 26, 2020).

Court-ordered floggings in Saudi Arabia -- sometimes extending to hundreds of lashes -- have long drawn condemnation from human rights groups.

The state human rights commission said that the latest reform would ensure that no more convicts were sentenced to flogging.

In the future, judges will have to choose between handing down fines or jail sentences, or non-custodial alternatives like community service.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Italy Uses Cannons to Disinfect Many Towns; Italians to End Lockdown,Start "New Normal"

Italian authorities are using snow cannons to disinfect entire towns in the Alps region of Italy ahead of the relaxation of lockdown measures, the Euro News website reports today (April 25, 2020).

Mounted on trucks, snow cannons -- usually used to cover ski slopes with snow -- are blasting tons of disinfectant.

Diluted hydrogen peroxide is being sprayed on roads, walls, and buildings in the town of  Val Gardena.

Italy currently has Europe's highest death toll from COVID-19, and is behind only the U.S. in global terms. But Italy is getting ready for the second phase of its lockdown, under which people will be allowed to slowly return to a "new normal."

Group Asks Churches Resume Services on May 3; Attendance Canceled for Weeks Due to COVID-19

A national Christian conservative legal nonprofit group is calling on churches nationwide to resume in-person worship services on May 3 while following appropriate safety protocols, arguing that "now is the time to act" after weeks of in-person services being suspended due to COVID-19, the Christian Post website reports today (April 25, 2020).

The Liberty Counsel this week announced an initiative, called Be Open Church Sunday, encouraging churches to open their doors on the Sunday before the National Day of Prayer observance on May 7.

The legal center contends that churches are "more essential than ever" but must be reopened with "appropriate measures of sanitization and appropriate social distancing between families."

"We chose May 3 because it is part of that phase one of the 'Opening America Again' [proposal] that the president [Donald Trump] issued as guidelines," Legal Counsel founder and attorney Met Staver told the Christian Post.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Dr. Fauci:"We Will Have Coronavirus in the Fall;" Asks Americans Keep Social Distancing Measures

Dr. Anthony Fauci said yesterday (April 22, 2020) that "We will have coronavirus in the fall," as he urged Americans to keep abiding to social distancing measures, according to the Huff Post website.

The doctor's comments come amid President Donald Trump's insistence that parts of the U.S. return to business as usual as soon as possible.

The White House released a three-phase plan last week for governors to use as a road map to restart parts of their economies. The plan is aimed at lowering restrictions in regions that have few cases of COVID-19.

More than 840,000 people in the U.S. have been infected  with the virus, and more than 42,300 have died.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Pope Compares Virus Cure to Jesus' Resurrection; Says Man Can "Rise Up" United to Lick COVID-19

Pope Francis has presented "a plan for the rising up again" of  humanity in the midst of a global crisis, in which he reflects on the coronavirus pandemic in the light of the resurrection of Jesus, the Americana Magazine website reports today (April 22, 2020).

"A Plan for Rising Up Again" is the title he chose for the reflection. In it, he does not conceal his concern over the crisis caused by a pandemic that has infected more than 2 million people, caused the deaths of over 140,000, and wreaked havoc on the world's economy.

In Spain alone 190,000 people have been infected and 19,600 have died.

Pope Francis says our experience today mirrors in many ways that of the disciples of Jesus after His death and burial in the tomb. Like them, "we live surrounded by an atmosphere of pain and uncertainty," and we ask, "Who will roll away the stone [from the tomb?]"

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Trump:Harvard to Return $9M in COVID Funds; Money Meant for Small Businesses, Not Harvard

President Donald Trump said today (April 21, 2020) that Harvard University must return coronavirus stimulus money he said was intended for small businesses, according to the USA Today website.

"Harvard is going to return the money," the president asserted at his daily press conference today. "They shouldn't have taken it."

"If they won't do that, then we'll do something else," the president said, without elaborating.

Harvard has come under fire for receiving some $9 million in funding from the coronavirus relief package. The school has said the money would be used for helping Harvard students who need financial aid. Trump said Harvard does not need the money, since it has an endowment of about $40 billion. In the past, Trump said he will tax all U.S. universities' endowments, meaning Harvard would pay several million dollars in taxes every year.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Fauci Warns Anti-Shutdown Rallies to Backfire; Protests Will Hurt Economy, Spread COVID-19

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the 79-year-old expert immunologist who is part of President Donald Trump's coronavirus task force, is arguing against the anti-shutdown rallies and protests that are taking place across the U.S., the Alter Net website reports today (April 20, 2020).

Those rallies feature protesters standing close to each other in defiance of social distancing.

Fauci today warned that by promoting the spread of COVID-19, they are hurting the economy -- not helping it.

He added, "What you do if you jump the gun and go into a situation where you have a big spike, you're going to set yourself back. So, as painful as it is to go by the careful guidelines of gradually phasing into a reopening, it's going to backfire."

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Greek Migrant Camp Set on Fire on Chios Island; Camp Set Up for 1,000 Migrants But Holds 5,000

One of Greece's largest migrant camps has been set afire after clashes broke out at Camp VIAL on the island of Chios, the Euro News website reports today (April 19, 2020).

Three asylum seekers have been arrested after the violence started on April 18.

Two cars, a canteen, tents, and accommodation containers went up in the blaze.

The camps are overcrowded with around 5,000 living at VIAL which was originally set up to accommodate 1,000 people.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Orth. Clerics Perform Holy Fire at Holy Sepulchre; Thousands Miss Easter Services Due to COVID-19

As a prelude to the Greek Orthodox Easter being celebrated on April 19, the ceremony in Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre was performed today (April 18, 2020) by a handful of Greek Orthodox clerics wearing face masks, according to the RT website.

The descent of the Holy Fire is a miracle believed by Orthodox Christians to occur every year on Great Saturday. The fire is then taken to Greece, Russia, Romania, and other countries where the Orthodox Church predominates.

The usual large, iconic crowds of the faithful -- both local Christians and pilgrims from all over the world -- that normally attend the ceremony were missing due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

Orthodox Easter celebrations around the world have been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. "This Easter is different. We will not go to our villages, we will not barbecue in our yards, we will not go to our churches," said Stelios Petsas, government spokesperson for Greece, one of the largest Orthodox Christian-majority nations.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Some US Gas Prices Are Now under $1 Per Gallon; Gas Glut Due to COVID-19 Restrictions Cuts Cost

Gasoline prices in the U.S. have fallen significantly in recent weeks -- to less than a dollar per gallon in some places -- as there has been a huge decrease in drivers on the road due to coronavirus-related restrictions, the UPI website reports today (April 17, 2020).

AAA said today the national average for a gallon of gas is $1.83 -- a decline of 41 cents per gallon from a month ago and a full dollar cheaper than the average price a year ago.

The cheapest gasoline is being sold in the Midwest, where the cost per gallon is $1.50 or less in seven states, according to AAA.

Wisconsin has the least expensive regular gas in the U.S., at an average of $1.25 per gallon. But several locations are selling fuel for less than a dollar per gallon, including Milwaukee and Waukesha, Wisconsin.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Trump Briefs "Opening Up America Again" Plan; Governors to Rule When to End COVID-19 Curbs

President Donald Trump rolled out recommendations for reopening the U.S. economy today (April 16, 2020) that allow states to continue calling their own shots on the coronavirus crisis, according to the NY Daily News website.

The recommendations -- contained in an 18-page package titled "Guidelines for Opening Up America Again" -- call on states to take on a three-phased approach for reopening schools and businesses.

Each phase lasts at least 14 days and decreases social distancing.

That means the guidelines do not envision most parts of the U.S. returning to any sense of normal life until late May or early June.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Thousands Protest Stay-at-Home Order in Mich.; Gov. Says Protesters Increasing Risk of COVID-19

Demonstrators drove thousands of vehicles -- many draped with protest signs -- to Michigan's state Capitol today (April 15, 2020), loudly protesting Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's stay-at-home order intended to fight the coronavirus pandemic, according to the USA Today website.

Police watched as horns honked and commercial and private vehicles from around the state jammed Capitol Avenue and other streets surrounding Michigan's seat of government in Lansing.

"Liberty once lost is lost forever." read a sign draped across a commercial van. "Recall Whitmer," read another sign.

Whitmer said today she respects the right to protest, but believes many of the protesters put themselves and others at risk of contracting COVID-19.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Va. Bishop with Packed Church Dies of COVID-19; Boasted of Church's Packed Pews amid Pandemic

Gerald Glenn, a Virginia bishop who defied his state's social distancing recommendations and boasted about his church's packed pews amid the coronavirus pandemic, died over Easter weekend of complications from the virus, the Huff Post website reports today (April 14, 2020).

Glenn's wife also tested positive for the illness, known as COVID-19.

The couple's daughter has since urged the public to "understand the severity and the seriousness" of the virus.

Glenn, 66, was the founder and pastor of New Deliverance Evangelical Church in Chesterfield, about 20 miles south of Richmond.

Monday, April 13, 2020

COVID-19 Causes US Meat Plant Facility to Close; Food Stores May Not Have Meat If Trend Goes On

One of America's biggest pork processing facilities has shut its doors indefinitely after employees started falling ill with the novel coronavirus -- and the company's CEO has warned that the U.S. meat supply is now under serious threat, the Daily Beast website reports today (April 13, 2020).

The facility in Sioux Falls, South Dakota accounts for around 5 percent of the country's pork production and employs about 3,700 people, according to Smithfield, which runs the plant.

""The closure of this facility, combined with a growing list of other protein plants that have shuttered across our industry, is pushing our country perilously close to the edge in terms of our meat supply," said Chief Executive Kenneth Sullivan.

He added, "It is impossible to keep our grocery stores stocked if our plants are not running."

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Pope Calls for Global Solidarity to Hit COVID-19; Praises Those Risking Their Lives to Save Others

Pope Francis today (April 12, 2020) called for global solidarity in fighting the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout, urging the relaxation of international sanctions, debt relief for poor nations, and ceasefires in all conflicts, according to the Reuters website.

He also warned the European Union that it risked collapse if it did not agree on how to help the region recover.

The pope's Easter "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city  and the world) message, delivered from an empty St. Peter's Basilica -- instead of the usual crowd of tens of thousands in the square outside -- was by far his most pressing and political since his election in 2013.

Saying the message of this year's "Easter of solitude" should be a "contagion of hope," he heaped praise on doctors, nurses, and others risking their lives to save others and hailed those working to keep essential services running.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Pope Presents Good Friday Services at St. Peter's; Liturgy Live-Streamed to Cath. around the World

Pope Francis presided over the commemoration of the Passion of the Lord at a near-empty St. Peter's Basilica on the evening of Good Friday, the Independent Catholic News website reports today (April 11, 2020).

The liturgy was live-streamed to the faithful around the world.

At the Adoration of the Holy Cross, only the pope was able to venerate the Cross with a kiss, in compliance with measures to avoid the spread of COVID-19.

The Preacher of the Papal Household, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, preached the Sermon, reminding everyone that God has plans for our welfare, and not woe, even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Judge Denies Over 10 People at Easter Services; Va. Law Bars Over 10 Worshippers Due to Virus

A judge has denied a request by a Virginia man to allow for church services to take place on Easter in the state, despite a state order barring large gatherings to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, the Christian Post  website reports today (April 10, 2020).

Larry Hughes, a retired teacher from Russell County, had filed legal action against the commonwealth for its stay-at-home order, which did not exempt religious events.

Judge Michael Moore denied the injunction request yesterday, meaning that church gatherings of more than 10 people will not be permitted by Easter Sunday.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring expressed support for the injunction denial, saying in a statement that the order was a matter of public health.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Over 16M Americans Lost Jobs Since Virus Began; One in Ten Have Lost Their Jobs in Past 3 Weeks

At least 16.6 million Americans have lost their jobs since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the Daily Beast website reports today (April 9, 2020).

The weekly jobless numbers from the Department of Labor showed an additional 6.6 million Americans filed claims last week.

The two previous weeks saw around 10 million claims, so the total number has now soared way above 16 million.

About one in 10 working Americans have lost their jobs in just the past three weeks.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Graham: COVID-19 Is Result of a "Fallen World;" World Turned Its Back on God,Must Pray for Help

Franklin Graham, the son of the late world famous evangelist Billy Graham, says the coronavirus pandemic is happening because of sin in a "fallen world" that has "turned its back on God," the Christian Headlines website reports today (April 8, 2020).

Graham, an evangelical leader and president of the organization Samaritan's Purse, said in an interview with Fox News' Jeannie Pirro that the pandemic is a "result" of the "fallen world."

"This pandemic, this is a result of the fallen world, a world that has turned its back on God," Graham said. "So I would encourage people to pray and let's ask God for help."

When Pirro asked Graham why God would allow the coronavirus outbreak to happen, Graham responded, "I don't think that God planned for this to happen. It's because of the sin that's in the world. Man has turned his back against God. We have sinned against Him. We need to ask for God's forgiveness."

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Vatican Slams Medical Bias for Young Patients; Warns Favoring Young Over Elderly Is "Wrong"

With the elderly representing the largest age group of lives lost by the coronavirus, the Vatican's top official on life issues has warned against selective care practices that prioritize young patients, the Crux website reports today (April 7, 2020).

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, said that with many hospitals facing shortages of essential equipment, such as ventilators, at times give preference to patients with better perceived odds of survival, which generally disadvantages the elderly.

"This is the 'throwaway culture' in action 'justified' by the lack of medical instruments, in turn due to healthcare policy choices that cut costs," Paglia said.

He called the decision to base healthcare and educational funding on cost-saving measures "wrong and misleading."

Monday, April 6, 2020

US Farmers Destroy Millions of Pounds of Crops; Lost Many Customers Due to COVID-19 Closings

U.S. farmers -- now facing a disastrous year and a loss of income -- have destroyed millions of pounds of perishable food like tomatoes, lettuce, and green beans because growers lost a vast number of customers after the coronavirus pandemic struck, the UPI website reports today (April 6, 2020).

"It's a catastrophe, it really is," said Tony DiMare, a long-time tomato grower based in Palm Beach County, Florida. He said he let 10 million pounds of tomatoes rot on his farm in a region south of Miami because no market existed for them.

The closure of food-service establishments in most of the country in March meant that farmers who grow produce for those customers suddenly had a large surplus in storage and in the fields.

Growers said efforts to find retailers or food banks failed, forcing them to plow under their crops. Without immediate aid from government stimulus funding, they said they will have to destroy more food.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

US Enters Most Critical Week as COVID-19 Peaks; Surgeon Gen.: It's Worse Than Pearl Harbor, 9/11

The U.S. has entered its most critical week in the coronavirus crisis with the death toll exploding in New York, Michigan, and Louisiana and some governors calling for a national order to stay at home, the Reuters website reports today (April 5, 2020).

New York -- the hardest-hit state -- reported today that there were nearly 600 new deaths for a total of 4,159 deaths and 122,000 total cases.

Bodies of hundreds of victims of COVID-19 were stacked in bags inside a makeshift morgue outside Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in Brooklyn.

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said today that hard times were ahead but "there is a light at the end of the tunnel if everyone does their part for the next 30 days." He added, "This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment, only it's not going to be localized. It's going to be happening all over the country."

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Exclusive: COVID-19 May Cause Food Shortages; Begins to Put Strain on Food Growers, Deliverers

The U.S. could begin to see food shortages if the people working on the supply chain lack personal protective equipment (PPE) -- including face masks and gloves --  the Yahoo News website reports exclusively today (April 4, 2020).

Empty supermarket shelves have become one of the most jarring images of the coronavirus pandemic, which has sickened 270,000 Americans and killed 7,000. Supermarkets would be wise to limit customers to a maximum of two items of each product in their stores, in order to prevent hoarding and unnecessary over-buying.

An internal Trump administration document, dated April 2, 2020 and obtained by Yahoo News, warns that the task force had completed an analysis and there could be "commodity impacts if current PPE inventory is exhausted."

Although there is no sign of a food shortage across the nation at this time, the coronavirus pandemic is putting a strain on every aspect of the food supply chain, from the people who raise and grow what we eat to the people who deliver it to our supermarkets.



Friday, April 3, 2020

Americans See COVID-19 as Message from God; Poll:A 3rd See It as Last Days Indicated in Bible

A new survey shows that nearly half of American adults believe that the coronavirus pandemic is a "wake-up call" from God, the WND website reports today (April 3, 2020).

More than 186,000 people have been infected by the virus in the U.S. and more than 3,000 have died. The shutdown of the economy in response has cost millions of people their jobs and threatened many businesses.

The survey commissioned by the Joshua Fund found 44 percent believe the crisis is a "wake-up call for us to turn back to faith in God" and also "signs of coming judgment."

It found nearly a third see the current crisis as the part of the "last days" predicted in the Bible, and there is a feeling in the country "that Americans need to embrace faith and return to religion."

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Global Deaths from COVID-19 Now Over 50,000; Number of Coronavirus Cases Is Almost 1 Million

Global deaths from COVID-19 passed the 50,000 mark today (April 2, 2020), after Italy announced 760 new fatalities in 24 hours, according to the Euro News website.

The number of coronavirus cases stands 75,000 shy of a million. More than 200,000 have recovered from the disease.

There is a glimmer of hope in Italy that containment measures are paying off. The number of daily new infections now stands at 4,668, down from 6,153 a week ago.

More than 10,000 medical personnel have been infected in Italy and 69 doctors have died, according to the National Institutes of Health and the Italian Association of Doctors.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Trump Gets Plane of Med. Supplies from Russia; Critics: Trump Fell into a Russian Publicity Ploy

Russia claimed today (April 1, 2020) that it sent a plane full of medical supplies to the U.S. -- two days after a secret phone call between President Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, according to the Daily Beast website.

Footage from the plane  broadcast by Russian state media showed stacks of cardboard boxes in the cargo hold, but it was not known exactly what these hundreds of boxes contained.

Critics have said that, in accepting help from Russia, the White House is falling for a Kremlin public relations ploy.

Putin spokesman Dmitri Peskov told reporters that Trump "gratefully accepted" the aid during a phone call between the two on March 30.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Easter, Passover, Ramadan Services Being Eased; Rel. Leaders Bend Rules to Cut COVID-19 Deaths

Churches, synagogues, and mosques are closing to contain the coronavirus global pandemic, as religious leaders are bending holy rules while families create new rituals that respect social distancing, the Yahoo News website reports today (March 31, 2020).

Public celebrations for Holy Week festivities -- including Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, and Good Friday -- will pivot to livestream.

And considering the rapidly evolving situation of the pandemic, a Vatican decree called "In time of COVID-19" outlines resources to amend April holidays, including Easter.

Some churches are holding "drive-thru" services and the Catholic Church is permitting the consumption of meat on Fridays during Lent, except on Good Friday.

Tampa, Fla. Pastor Arrested for Holding Services; Broke Stay-at-Home Law to Cut COVID-19 Spread

Law enforcement officials arrested the pastor of a Tampa, Florida megachurch yesterday for violating a safer-at-home order that was in place to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the CBN website reports today (March 31, 2020).

Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne turned himself into authorities yesterday afternoon in Hernando County, where he lives.

He was charged with unlawful assembly and violation of a public health emergency order. Bail was set at $500. He was released after posting bond.

Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister said, "His reckless disregard for human life put hundreds of people in his congregation at risk and thousands of residents who may interact with them this week in danger."

Monday, March 30, 2020

Pope on COVID-19: We Are All in the Same Boat; Compares It to Jesus, Apostles on Boat in a Storm

As the world grapples with the spread of the coronavirus, Pope Francis delivered a homily of hope on March 27, comparing the pandemic to a storm that can be overcome only by coming together in faith, the Religion News website reports today (March 30, 2020).

"We have realized that we are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed, all of us called to row together, each of us in need of comforting the other," he said during his homily in front of a rainy St. Peter's Basilica, before an empty square and a single priest.

Amid this pandemic, Francis said, we "have realized that we cannot go on thinking of ourselves, but only together can we do this."

Francis drew from the day's Gospel lesson -- found in the fourth chapter of Mark -- which relates the story of Jesus and His apostles being caught in a storm while on a boat. The pope said the story can offer spiritual guidance about how to face the coronavirus pandemic.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Fauci: Millions of US Virus Cases, 200K Deaths; US Now Reports Over 124K Cases, 2,100 Deaths

Dr, Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government's foremost infection disease expert, said today (March 29, 2020) the U.S. will certainly have "millions of cases" of COVID-19 and between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths, according to the Newsmax website.

"We're going to have millions of cases," he told CNN's "State of the Union."

"What we do know is that we've got a serious problem in New York. We have a serious problem in New Orleans. And we're going to be developing serious problems in other areas."

The U.S. is currently reporting more than 124,000 coronavirus cases and more than 2,100 deaths.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

US Might Experience Another Great Depression; Nation May See Repeat of 2008 Economic Crash

If the U.S. is on the verge of another Great Depression because of the coronavirus -- as seems likely -- that would happen because millions of ordinary working people can't show up for work in jobs that keep this country running, the Alternet website reports today (March 28, 2020).

Congress and President Trump reacted to this by passing a $2 trillion stimulus that expands unemployment benefits, will send a check to most American households, and provides $500 billion in industry bailout money.

This bill is expected to mute some of the worst economic effects of the coronavirus.

On the other hand, it may just be a repeat of the 2007-8 economic crash and stimulus, in which corporations and the wealthiest Americans recovered nicely but the rest  of the nation never regained its economic footing.

Friday, March 27, 2020

US Has More COVID-19 Cases Than Any Country; Surpasses Italy and China with Over 85,000 Cases

The U.S. overtook China, Italy and the rest of the world for the highest number of confirmed cases of coronavirus at 82,404 yesterday, the Newsy website reports today (March 27, 2020).

This morning, Johns Hopkins University had upped that number to more than 85,000.

China had nearly 82,000 cases, and Italy had a little more than 80,500.

The case count continues to change by the hour, as testing becomes more widely available.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Trump's Wish to Open Economy by Easter Is Nuts; Dr. Fauci: Virus Force Must Determine "Timeline"

President Donald Trump said this week that he would like to reopen the U.S. economy by Easter (April 12) -- but the coronavirus wreaking havoc across the globe is becoming worse, not better, the Huff Post website reports today (March 26, 2020).

Dr. Anthony Fauci -- the country's top infectious disease expert -- pointed out yesterday that the virus is determining "the timeline" for the pandemic.

"You've got to be realistic," Fauci said, when asked when states could expect to see a reduction of infections. "You've got to understand that you don't make the timeline, the virus makes the timeline."

"You can't make an arbitrary decision until you see what you're dealing with. You need the data," added Fauci, who -- like other medical professionals -- has urged Americans to "hunker down" and practice social distancing to mitigate the spread of the virus.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Women in NYC Now Give Birth Minus Husbands; Hospitals Bar Spouses' Presence Due to COVID-19

Women giving birth at two leading New York City hospital networks are being told they must labor without spouses, partners, or doulas by their side -- leaving the expectant mothers upset and frightened about their upcoming deliveries -- the NY Times website reports today (March 25, 2020).

The New York City hospital network New York-Presbyterian yesterday instituted one of the most restrictive visitor policies in the country for women giving birth, barring spouses, partners and other family members or outside support people, such as doulas, from the delivery room, in an effort to protect mothers and children during the coronavirus outbreak.

And last night, Mt. Sinai Health System announced it would also bar partners and other visitors from its labor and delivery rooms, beginning today.

"We do not take this decision lightly, but these are unprecedented times that require unprecedented steps to protect our patients, their families and their new babies," Lucia Lee, a spokeswoman for Mt. Sinai said in a statement.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

NJ to Jail People Violating Stay-at-Home Order; Can Only Leave Home for Med. Care, Food, Gas

The governor of New Jersey warned today (March 24, 2020) that "folks need to be jolted," so his attorney general is threatening jail for people who leave their homes in violation of the governor's order yesterday, according to t he WND website.

Gurbir Grewal, the state's attorney general, said those who violate the stay-at-home order could be jailed or fined up to $1,000.

Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy signed executive orders that ban unapproved social gatherings and close all "non-essential" businesses.

All  retail "storefront and/or brick-and-mortar premises" are shuttered, and "all recreational and entertainment businesses must close to the public." People are allowed to leave home only to seek medical care or to get food or gasoline.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Italy Records 793 Coronavirus Deaths in One Day; Italy Remains Worst COVID-19 Affected Country

Italy has recorded 793 new deaths from coronavirus in one day, adding 6,557 new cases have been detected, the WND website reports today (March 23, 2020).

Despite extensive measures to prevent the disease from spreading, Italy remains the worst affected country in the world.

The figures represent the highest day-to-day rise in the number of deaths. It brings the total number of deaths to more than 4,500, while the number of known cases is 53,578.

More than 60 percent of the latest deaths occurred in the northern region of Lombardy, whose hospitals have been reeling under a staggering case load that has left intensive care beds hard to find and respirators in dire supply.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Orth.Priest Arrested in Greece for Holding Mass; Greece Halted Church Services Due to COVID-19

A Greek Orthodox priest was arrested in Greece yesterday for celebrating mass in a church, following the suspension of religious office ordered by the country during the coronavirus outbreak, the Euro News website reports today (March 22, 2020).

Metropolitan Seraphim of Cypher Island off the Greek coast had celebrated religious office on Friday night, ahead of the Greek Orthodox Easter celebration starting on April 19.

After individual denunciations, the metropolite was interviewed by the police yesterday and was given a notification of the Greek government and Church of Greece amid the coronavirus crisis.

Since the first death of COVID-19 in Greece on March 12, the government adopted a strict lockdown to stop the spread of the virus, closing schools, businesses and public places, and banning public gatherings of more than 10 people.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Sens. Sold Millions in Stocks Prior to Virus Crash; Attended Closed-Door Briefing on Fatal COVID-19

Two Republican senators defended themselves yesterday against heavy criticism -- including demands that they resign -- for selling millions of dollars in stocks before the coronavirus-induced market meltdown and other closed-door briefings on the outbreak, the Reuters website reports today (March 21, 2020).

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr sold some $1.7 million worth of stock on February 13 in 33 separate transactions after offering public assurances the government was ready to control the virus.

Senator Kelly Loeffler also sold millions of dollars in shares in the weeks after lawmakers were first briefed on the dangers of the virus, according to public filings.

Media reports about Burr and Loeffler -- who have denied any wrongdoing -- prompted calls they leave office and other sharp criticism. Their unethical acts of greed will most-likely hinder their chances of being re-elected to the senate.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Harvard Puts Off Graduation Due to Coronavirus; Students Will Receive Degrees in Mail This Spring

Given the coronavirus pandemic raging around the globe, Harvard University will postpone its 369th Commencement Exercises, University President Lawrence Bacow wrote in an email today (March 20, 2020), according to The Crimson website.

Thousands of family members, faculty, and alumni from around the world typically crowd Harvard Yard to take part in the traditional Commencement Exercise.

Bacow wrote in his email, "No virtual gathering can possibly match the splendor of our usual festivities, but will come together online on Thursday, May 28, to award degrees so that everyone will graduate as expected."

He added, "Each school at Harvard will also host its own special online event and afterwards deliver diplomas through the mail."

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Italy Surpasses China's Coronavirus Death Toll; Italy Now Has at Least 3,405 COVID-19 Deaths

Italy today (March 19, 2020) hit a grim milestone, surpassing China for the largest number of coronavirus-related deaths, at 3,405, according to the Washington Post website.

The novel coronavirus continued to spread globally, with Italy announcing a record number of deaths yesterday and Spain reporting a similar alarming death-toll spike today.

New numbers out of Iran are also grim.

But news from China today may offer a glimmer of hope, as the country reported no new locally transmitted cases the previous day for the first time since the outbreak began there late last year.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson Share Comforting News; Released from Hospital for COVID-19, Recovering

Oscar-winning actor, national father figure, and all-around treasure Tom Hanks and spouse Rita Wilson have a positive update to share with fans, the Observer website reports today  (March 18, 2020).

Neither's  condition has worsened since the two tested positive for the coronavirus last week while they were in Australia.

The pair were in Australia shooting Baz Luhrman's Elvis Presely biopic when Hanks revealed on Instagram that they had contacted the coronavirus.

The couple were released from the hospital this week and went into self-isolation. Their infections have not worsened and their symptoms have stabilized, indicating a recovery in these cases.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Russia's Const. Court OKs Putin Rule Until 2036; Allows Him to Run for President in 2024 & 2030

Russia's Constitutional Court has approved constitutional amendments that could enable President Vladimir Putin to stay in power for another 16 years, the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty website reports today (March 17, 2020).

The court's March 16 announcement comes three days after all Russian regions approved the controversial bill on amendments to the constitution.

The legislation sets Putin's previous presidential term count back to zero because of the sweeping changes to the constitution, which sparked protests in Russian cities.

Putin's current term -- his second consecutive six-year term -- is slated to end in 2024. The existing constitution prohibits presidents from serving more than two consecutive terms, but the amendments would enable him to seek a fifth overall presidential term in 2024, and a sixth in 2030.

Monday, March 16, 2020

US Hospitals Fear Shortages Due to COVID-19; Coronavirus Pursues Italy Path with 28K Cases

As doctors in the U.S. have watched Italy's health care system buckle under the sudden strain of the coronavirus, the magnitude of the problems that could be heading to the U.S. have begun to sink in, the Time website reports today (March 16, 2020).

The crises Italian medical staff have been facing -- overwhelming conditions, choosing which patients get treatment, and desperately working to expand their manpower -- are all things that hospitals in the U.S. could encounter if the virus continues on its path, doctors say.

As of today (March 16), the U.S. had more than 4,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, only a fraction of the approximately 28,000 cases in Italy.

"When you look at the projections, there's every chance that  we could be Italy," U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams told Fox News today.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Pope Sends a Spiritual Message on Coronavirus; Explains "United to Christ,We Are Never Alone"

Addressing believers worldwide today (March 15, 2020), amid growing concerns at the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, Pope Francis reminded them that "united to Christ, we are never alone," the America Magazine website reports.

Speaking from the library of the Vatican's Apostolic Palace at midday, Francis noted that "in these days Saint Peter's Square is closed, and so I greet directly all those who are connected by the means of communication."

The square has been closed for the past week as a result of coordinated decisions taken by the Italian and Vatican authorities to prevent crowds gathering in the square for papal audiences and thereby avoid the risk of people being infected by coronavirus.

Pope Francis said that, "united to Christ we are never alone, we form one body, of which He is the head." He explained that "it is a union that is nourished with prayer, and also with spiritual communion in the Eucharists, a practice that is much recommended when it is not possible to receive the sacrament..."

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Syria's Ongoing Civil War Is Now in Its 10th Year; Pres.Assad Still in Power,Over 380K People Killed

As it enters its tenth year, the civil war in Syria is anything but abating, as foreign powers scrap over a ravaged country where human suffering keeps reaching new levels, the Worthy News website reports today (March 14, 2020).

When protesters in March 2011 demanded their rights and regime change, they likely never imagined it would trigger a reaction that has led to the 21st century's biggest war.

Syrian President Bashar Assad is still in power and there is no indication that he will leave his position any time soon.

More than 380,000 people have died, dozens of towns and cities have been razed to the ground, and half of the country's entire population has been displaced.

Study:Large Drop in Practicing Christians in US; Only 25 Percent of Practicing Christians in 2000

A study by the Barna Group shows that the percentage of practicing Christians in the U.S. has nearly dropped in half over the last two decades, the Christian Post website reports today (March 14, 2020).

Today, only 25 percent are practicing Christians.

Since 2000, many have either become "non-practicing" Christians or left Christianity altogether.

While fewer Americans are going to church, the percentage of adults who read the Bible and pray has remained steady over the last two decades.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Largest Cath. Church in N. America Ends Masses; Coronavirus Sways Basilica of the National Shrine

The largest Catholic church in North America today (March 13, 2020) suspended all masses and confessions until "further notice" due to the impact of the deadly coronavirus, according to the Daily Caller website.

The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. announced today that it will "suspend the public celebrations of Mass" as well as confessions, beginning March 14 until further notice.

The shrine's cafeteria, gift shop,and bookstore will be closed and no tours will be offered, but the basilica will remain open for "daily private prayer" between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

"We. at America's Catholic Church, pray for all affected by the coronavirus pandemic, and ask the Blessed Virgin Mary, patroness of the United States under her title of the Immaculate Conception, to intercede for us during these unprecedented times." the basilica statement said.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Churches in Md.,Va.and DC Close for 2 Weeks; Washington National Cathedral among Closed

Episcopal churches in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia -- including the Washington National Cathedral -- are suspending worship services for two weeks because of the coronavirus, the Washington Post website reports today (March 12, 2020).

Bishop Mariann Budde, who oversees 88 congregations in Maryland and D.C., said buildings would be almost completely closed until March 25.

Bishop Susan Goff, who oversees the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, said 170 churches in the Virginia suburbs would also be closed.

The bishops said the last time churches canceled services en masse because of health concerns was for the flu of 1918.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Greek Orth.Church to Continue Holy Communion; Exists without Blemish Despite Coronavirus Flare

Greece's Orthodox Church said yesterday that Holy Communion, the partaking of wine from the same chalice and bread for atonement from sins, would continue despite the coronavirus outbreak, the Reuters website reports today (March 11, 2020).

Debate has raged in deeply religious Greece on whether it would be prudent for the Church to continue the ritual, where worshippers sip from the same spoon.

The Greek Orthodox Church attempted to put a stop to the chatter: "This cannot be the cause of the spread of illness," the Holy Synod, the ruling body of the Church, said in a statement.

Senior members of the Church have told  Greek media Holy Communion -- representing the blood and body of Christ -- was without blemish. "Whoever attends Holy Communion is approaching God, who has the power to heal," Metropolitan Seraphim told Greece's Alpha radio.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

All of Italy Is Quarantined by PM Joseph Conte; Coronavirus Deaths in Italy Now Number 463

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte imposed a quarantine on the entire country of Italy beginning today (March 10, 2020), restricting movement and banning public gatherings, according to the RT website.

The move was announced by Conte last night, and came as Italy's death from the coronavirus rose by almost 100.

The number of deaths jumped from 366 to 463 yesterday, while the total number of cases grew from 7,375 to 9,172.

The restrictions took effect this morning. They include a blanket ban on all public gatherings, sporting events, and movement all over Italy. Closures of schools and universities across Italy have been extended to April 3, 2020.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Dublin Cancels St.Pat's Day Parade Due to Virus; 21 People Diagnosed with Coronavirus in Ireland

Dublin in Ireland has canceled its traditional St. Patrick's Day parade due to the global COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, the Euro News website reports today (March 9, 2020).

Two more cases of coronavirus were confirmed in the Republic of Ireland today, bringing the total number to 21.

In Northern Ireland, five people were diagnosed with  the virus yesterday, bringing the total number to 12.

Ireland's Health Minister Simon Harris said the coronavirus outbreak is very serious and the situation would "require not just a whole of government approach, but a whole of society approach."

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Pope Prays for Those Suffering from Coronavirus; Recorded Today's Angelus to Avoid Large Crowds

Pope Francis, who has been suffering a cold for over a week, today (March 8, 2020) offered prayers for all those who are facing difficulty due to the coronavirus outbreak, according to the Crux website.

"I am close in prayer to all people suffering from the current coronavirus epidemic and to all those who care for them," he said.

Francis spoke from the library of the Vatican's apostolic palace, where he recorded this week's Sunday Angelus instead of giving it from a window looking down into St. Peter's Square, as he usually does, in an effort to avoid drawing large crowds due to the current coronavirus outbreak.

The Vatican itself identified its first case of the COVID-19 virus last week.

Friday, March 6, 2020

US-Taliban Afghanistan Peace Deal Is Dubious; Attacks by Taliban, US Airstrike Threaten Deal

The Pentagon has played down a wave of attacks by Taliban fighters and a retaliatory U.S. airstrike against the insurgent group this week, amid concern that fresh violence in Afghanistan will derail the fragile, high-stakes peace deal the Trump administration reached with the militants last weekend, the Washington Times website reports today (March 6, 2020).

The U.S. forces conducted an airstrike on March 4 to drive back a Taliban assault on an Afghan government checkpoint in the nation's southern Helmand province.

The renewed violence points out a number of vulnerable links in the accord to end America's longest war and fulfill President Trump's promise to bring U.S. troops home.

These links include a lack of central Taliban control over its militants; the weakness within the government in Kabul; and the continuing threat from jihadist groups such as Islamic State and al Qaeda.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Russia, Turkey Reach Ceasefire Plan for Idlib; Avert All-Out War for Syrian Hostile Province

The leaders of Russia and Turkey have agreed to a ceasefire plan for Syria's Idlib province to prevent the escalation of fighting there from spiraling to an all-out war, the RT website reports today (March 5, 2020).

The ceasefire followed hours-long talks in Moscow between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Russian and Turkish troops will be carrying out joint patrol missions along Idlib's M-4 highway.

Both Moscow and Ankara remained committed to maintaining the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Syria as part of the ceasefire.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Greece Uses Tear Gas on Migrants from Turkey; Greece,EU Say Turkey Is Trying to Blackmail EU

Greek riot police and troops used water cannon and tear gas today (March 4, 2020) against hundreds of migrants as they made another attempt to cross the border from Turkey to Greece, according to the Reuters website.

Greek soldiers also fired warning shots into the air.

A Greek army vehicle equipped with loudspeakers informed the migrants in Arabic and other languages that the border was shut.

Greece and the EU (European Union) accuse Turkey of goading on the migrants in an effort to blackmail the EU into offering more money or supporting Ankara's geopolitical aims in its conflict with Syria.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

NZ Bishop: Coronavirus Due to Neglecting God; Humanity Strayed Away from God, Upsets God

A Pentecostal pastor in New Zealand is making waves around the world for his comments about coronavirus this week, saying that God sometimes allows "pestilences and plagues and famines" to affect nations, the Daily Caller website reports today (March 3, 2020).

Bishop Brian Tamaki claims that humanity has "strayed away from God." and that may be part of the spread of coronavirus.

"There have from time to time been judgments on nations, and it's clear right through the Bible, the word of God, that sometimes God allows those pestilences and plagues and famines," Tamaki said.

"Satan has control of atmospheres unless you're a born-again, Jesus-loving, bible-believing, Holy Ghost-filled, tithe-paying believer," he said. He also warned about invisible "Satanic spirits."

Monday, March 2, 2020

Turkey Destroys 100 Syrian Tanks, 2 Army Planes; Revenges Syria Killing Dozens of Turkish Soldiers

Turkish forces have destroyed Syrian air defense systems, more than 100 tanks, and two army planes, the Reuters website reports today (March 2, 2020).

The operation was in retaliation for a Syrian air strike that killed dozens of Turkish soldiers last week.

Tensions in northwest Syria have escalated sharply, as fighting between Turkey-backed rebels and Russian-backed Syrian government forces risks bringing the two regional powers into direct confrontation.

Diplomatic efforts to defuse tensions have fallen short of achieving a ceasefire in the Idlib region of northwest Syria -- the country's last major rebel stronghold after nine years of civil war.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Luxembourg Makes Public Transport Free for All; Is 1st Country in World to Provide Free Transport

Luxembourg -- Europe's richest country -- today (March 1, 2020)  became the first country in the world to make public transport free, according to the Euro News website.

It applies to all trams, trains, and buses, and will be available to tourists as well as residents. 

"The introduction of free public transport is an important social measure," said Luxembourg's minister for mobility, Francois Bausch.

Buses are only used for 32% of trips to work, ahead of trains at 19%. By comparison, in Paris, almost 70% of workers use public transport.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

US and Taliban Ink Afghanistan Peace Agreement; Finally End Longest (19 Years) War in US History!

The U.S. and the Taliban terror group today (February 29, 2020) signed a deal that lays out conditions for the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops from Afghanistan, according to the RT website.

The agreement was signed by U.S. peace envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, and one of the Taliban's senior leaders, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, in Qatar's capital of Doha today.

The deal will see Washington and its allies withdrawing their troops from five bases in Afghanistan within the next 135 days. The remaining American soldiers will leave the country in 14 months, if the Taliban fulfills its commitments.

The war in Afghanistan -- which began shortly after the 9/11/ 2001 terrorist attacks in the U.S. -- has become the longest war in U.S. history!

Turkey Sneaks Migrants to Cyprus Via Its North; Then Leads Them South to Offset Greek Majority

Cyprus' interior minister yesterday accused Turkey of deliberately channeling migrants for months to the ethnically-divided island's Greek Cypriot south to change the composition of its predominantly Greek population, the Yahoo News website reports today (February 29, 2020).

Nicos Nouris said up to two-thirds of arriving migrants reach the internationally-recognized south through the breakaway Turkish Cypriot north that is recognized only by Turkey.

"We maintain that there is a very specific purpose and aim, which is to alter the island's demographic character, and clearly we cannot continue to accept migrants in such numbers," Nouris told The Associated Press.

Cyprus was split along ethnic and religious lines in 1974 when Islamist Turkey invaded the independent island and seized the northern third of it following a failed coup by supporters of union with Greece. Cyprus joined the EU (European Union) in 2004, but only the Greek Orthodox Cypriot south enjoys full membership benefits.Turkey is the only country in the world that recognizes the northern third split of the island.

Friday, February 28, 2020

Retired Polish Abp Ordered to End Clerical Duties; Abp Lenga Referred to Pope Francis as a "Heretic"

A retired archbishop in Poland, who called Pope Francis a "heretic," has rejected a Church instruction barring him from public appearances and vowed to go on denouncing "heresy and sectarianism," the Catholic Herald website reports today (February 28, 2020).

"Christ gave me authority through the Church to proclaim the truth, and I'll do so as long as I live." said retired Archbishop Jan Lenga, 69, who lives in Lichen, Poland, after serving in Kazakhstan.

"I won't yield to degradation by those whose own statements and actions are entangled with heresy and sectarianism," he said. "What right do they have to recall what pertains to the Church when they themselves never upheld it?"

Bishop Wieslaw Mering of Wloclawek ordered Archbishop Lenga to stop preaching, celebrating Mass, or speaking to the media, after the archbishop accused Pope Francis of "spreading untruths" and refused to include the pope in prayers.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Pope Urges Cath. to Go to Confession during Lent; Asserts That Only Jesus Is Able to Heal Our Heart

Pope Francis yesterday (Ash Wednesday) called on Catholics to go to confession during Lent to experience God's healing love, the CNA (Catholic News Agency) website reports today (February 27, 2020).

"Only Jesus, who knows and loves our heart, can heal it. Lent is a time of healing," Francis said in the Basilica of Santa Sabina.

Before going to confession, the pope recommended people should stand in front of the crucifix and contemplate Christ on the cross.

While looking at the crucifix, the pope said one can repeat the following prayer: "Jesus, you love me, transform me." After welcoming God's love and crying in front of the cross, receive God's forgiveness in confession, he said.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Sanders Calls Netanyahu a "Reactionary Racist;" Israel Calls upon Americans to Abandon Sanders

Israel's foreign minister has urged anyone who supports Israel to abandon Sen. Bernie Sanders after the Democratic nomination frontrunner condemned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a "reactionary racist," The Daily Beast website reports today (February 26, 2020).

Sanders, who is Jewish,  made the remark during a Democratic debate last night in South Carolina.

He said he was "very proud of being Jewish," but opposed Netanyahu and said he would think about reversing President Donald Trump's move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz called Sanders' remark on Jerusalem a "horrifying comment" and said: "Naturally, people who support Israel will not support someone who goes against these things."

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Singer Placido Domingo Sexually Abused Women; Over Two Dozen Women Said He Harassed Them

An investigation into legendary singer Placido Domingo by the U.S. union representing opera performers found more than two dozen women who said they were sexually harassed by the superstar when he held senior management positions at Washington National Opera and Los Angeles Opera, the Huffpost website reports today (February 25, 2020).

The investigation -- conducted by lawyers hired by the American Guild of Musical Artists -- concluded that the accounts from 27 people showed a clear pattern of sexual misconduct and abuse of power by Domingo spanning at least two decades. 

Domingo issued a statement today saying: "I respect that these women finally felt comfortable enough to speak out, and I want them to know that I am truly sorry for the hurt that I caused them..."

Two of the women told investigators that they had sexual relations with Domingo, because they felt compelled to submit to his potential to damage their careers. 

Monday, February 24, 2020

Man Nabbed for Painting Swastika on Synagogue; Nebraska Temple's Video Footage Aided in Arrest

A suspect accused of vandalizing a synagogue in Nebraska was arrested on February 21 by the Lincoln Police Department, the World Israel News website reports today (February 24, 2020).

Noah Miller, 21, is being charged with felony vandalism for spray painting a swastika and racial epithets on the door and steps of the South Street Temple in Lincoln on January 13.

Investigators were given video surveillance footage of the vandalism by the temple that showed an adult male spray-painting the door and steps of the temple.

The vandalism of the synagogue and Miller's arrest follows a recent upsurge of anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. over the past few years.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Giorgio Armani:Fashion Industry Rapes Women; With Short-Lived Trends, Sex-Driven Marketing

Fashion Designer Giorgio Armani accused the fashion industry on February 21, 2020 of "raping" women with short-lived trends and sex-driven marketing, as he presented his Emporio Armani line at Milan Fashion Week, the Reuters website reports.

"Women keep getting raped by designers, by us," Armani, 85, told reporters on the sidelines of the show for the line aimed at younger customers.

"If a lady walks on the street and sees an ad with a woman with her boobs and ass in plain sight and she wants to be like that too, that's a way of raping her," Armani said.

"You can rape a woman in many ways, either by throwing her in the basement or by suggesting  that she dresses in a certain way," he added.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Most Evangelical Christians Live Outside America; New Study Finds Most Evangelicals Living in Asia

A new study has found that evangelical Christians make up a huge swath of the world's population, but most of them reside in Asia, Africa, and Latin America -- not in North America -- the Christian Post website reports today (February 22, 2020).

French researcher, Sebastian Fath, estimates that there are about 660 million evangelicals in the world, representing a little over a quarter of all 2.5 billion Christians.

The largest share of evangelicals live in Asia, with about 215 million adherents. China has 66 million, India has 28 million, Indonesia has 16 million, the Philippines has 13 million, and South Korea has 9 million.

Africa has the second-highest number of evangelical Christians with 185 million. Nigeria has 58 million, Kenya has 20 million, Ethiopia has 18 million, and both DRC Congo and South Africa have 15 million.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Holy Land Experience Will Lay Off Most Workers; Orlando Christian Experience Closing 90% of Park

The Holy Land Experience -- a Christian-themed amusement park in Orlando, Florida -- will be laying off most of its employees and shutting down 90% of the park after Easter, the Christian Post website reports today (February 21, 2020).

"Among the eliminated positions are 43 actors and musicians, 17 guest services associates, as well as numerous techs, retail employees, and food service workers," the "Orlando Sentinel" reported.

Mike Everett, general manager of The Holy Land Experience, said, "The Scriptorium, which holds rare and unique biblical artifacts, and a scale model of ancient Jerusalem and the city of David, will continue to serve as the park's main educational attractions."

The management team will be scouting out "the best and most efficient use of the property, assessing other economic opportunities, including redevelopment," Everett added.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Catholic Diocese in Penn. Files for Bankruptcy; Paid $12M in Aug. for Cleric Sex Abuse Claims

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania filed for bankruptcy yesterday, six months after it disclosed it had paid millions of dollars to people sexually abused as children by its clerics,  the Yahoo News website reports today (February 20, 2020).

The diocese joins at least 20 others across the U.S. in seeking protection from creditors through the federal bankruptcy system.

In August, the diocese paid 106 people a total of over $12 million to compensate for claims of sexual abuse they suffered as children from its clerics.

Officials said yesterday the current total is 111 settlements.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

French Pres. Declares He'll End Islam Separation; Goal Is to Reduce Foreign Influence,Respect Laws

In an effort to reduce the influence and power that Muslims have been gaining in France in recent years, French President Emmanuel Macron announced yesterday that France would crack down on Islamist separatism and would end a system in which foreign countries send imams to preach in French mosques, the Euro News website reports today (February 19, 2020).

The aim, Macron said, is to "reduce foreign influence" and "ensure that the laws of the Republic are respected by everyone."

"I will not let any country feed separatism," the French president said.

France's Muslim community is the largest in all of Europe.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Boy Scouts of America Today Files for Bankruptcy; Hit with 300 Lawsuits from Sexually Abused Men

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has filed for bankruptcy, as it faces some 300 lawsuits from men who say they were sexually abused as scouts, the NPR website reports today (February 18, 2020).

The organization says it will use the Chapter 11 process to create a trust to provide compensation to victims.

Scouting activities will continue throughout the process.

Jim Turley, BSA National Chair, sent a letter to victims of abuse, in which he stated: "I am outraged that individuals took advantage of our programs to commit these heinous acts."

Monday, February 17, 2020

Taliban:Peace with US Will Be Signed on Feb. 29; Agreement to End 18-Yr.-Old War in Afghanistan

The Taliban said today (February 17, 2020) it will sign a peace agreement with the United States by the end of this month in the presence of international guarantors to end the 18-year-old war in Afghanistan, according to the VOA News website.

The two adversaries have agreed to hold the signing ceremony in Doha, the capital of Qatar, which hosted the 18-month U.S.-Taliban negotiations.

The deal is expected to be inked on February 29.

Representatives from all neighbors of Afghanistan, the United Nations Security Council, Islamic countries, and the European Union would be among those invited to witness the peace ceremony.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Greek Govt. to Employ Many Migrants in Agric.; Will Perform Agriculture Jobs Greeks Won't Do

The Greek government is planning to create a "job vacancy" scheme where refugees and migrants can find seasonal work in agriculture fields, the Keep Talking Greece website reports today (February 16, 2020).

The government plans to set up a "migrants' job agency" for farmers, so they can find workers for their fields.

The scheme aims to revitalize the countryside and the rural economy, as Greeks normally do not seek such jobs. Many neighbors from Albania come to Greece each year to work these seasonal jobs.

Workers for seasonal jobs and for various crops are sought all over Greece, and the government and relevant ministries have set up a committee assigned to find a solution to the problem.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Pope Rejects Proposal for Some Married Priests; Reaffirms Cath. Tradition of Celibacy for Priests

Pope Francis on February 12 dismissed a proposal to allow some married men to be ordained in remote areas, reaffirming the Roman Catholic Church's centuries-old commitment to celibacy among priests, the Reuters website reports today (February 15, 2020).

The decision -- one of the most significant of his papacy -- appeared a victory for conservative senior clergy, who have feared a slippery slope towards a married priesthood throughout the Church if the recommendation was approved.

It was put forward by Latin American bishops as a means of easing an acute shortage of priests in the Amazon region, and passed by 128 votes to 41 at a Vatican assembly, or synod, of Roman Catholic bishops.

The issue of married priests has been a focus of deep divisions within the Church, and Vatican sources say it is now likely to give way for the rest of Francis's papacy.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Jehovah's Witnesses Nabbed, Tortured in Russia; Is Considered an Extremist Rel. by Russian Govt.

Two Jehovah's Witnesses have been convicted of extremism  in Russia and four more arrested, one of whom reported being tortured in custody, the ABC News website reports today (February 14, 2020).

A court in Kamchatka today sentenced Mikhail Popov and his wife Yelena to fines of 350,000 and 300,000 rubles ($5,500) and $4,700) for engaging in extremist activities related to their membership in the Jehovah's Witnesses.

Earlier this week the police raided some 40 homes of Jehovah's Witnesses in Chita, a city in southern Siberia, and arrested four members of the group.

One member, Vadim Kutsenko, was beaten and tasered by men who identified themselves as officers of Russia's National Guard, his lawyer Artur Ganin said.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Afghan "Insider Attacker" Kills Two U.S. Soldiers; Six Americans Wounded in Attack,Attacker Killed

Two U.S. Special Forces soldiers were killed in Afghanistan on February 8, after a man in the uniform of Afghanistan's army opened fire on U.S. troops, the WND website reports today (February 13, 2020).

The attack took place during a joint Afghan-U.S. operation, Col. Sonny Leggett, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said.

The Pentagon identified the slain servicemen as Sgt. 1st Class Javier Jaguar Gutierrez, 28, and Sgt. 1st Class Antonio Rey Rodriguez, 28.

Gutierrez was from San Antonio, Texas. Rodriguez was from Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Pope:Repenting for One's Own Sins Is Essential; Says Mourning Leads to Relationship with Jesus

Pope Francis said today (February 12, 2020) that recognizing and repenting for one's own sins and errors is difficult, but essential, according to the Crux website.

"To understand one's sin is a gift from God, it is the work of the Holy Spirit" who helps each person realize "the evil I have done or that I may do," the pope said during his weekly general audience.

The pope continued a new series of talks on the Eight Beatitudes by reflecting on Jesus' second "paradoxical" proclamation, "Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted."

This kind of mourning is more than mere grief, he said; it is "an inner sorrow that leads to a new relationship with the Lord and with each other."

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Greece to Set Up Refugee Camps on Its Islands; Allows Refugees to Leave Their Areas Each Day

Greece will set up new camps for asylum seekers on its Aegean Islands, in an effort to end months of overcrowding, the Euro News website reports today (February 11, 2020).

The new camps will allow asylum seekers to go out during the day, but they will be locked at night.

Over 40,000 asylum seekers are currently in Greece. The new camps will be designed to accommodate 20,000 refugee seekers who will be limited to a three-month stay within the camps.

The Greek government has worked to acquire additional land for the camps on the islands of Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Kos, and Leros. It expects them to be operational by the middle of this year.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Funding Secured for 1,000 Miles of Border Wall; Defense, Homeland Security Depts. Grant $8.4B

The Trump administration is shifting its border wall focus from procuring resources to breaking ground on new construction after securing funds for 1,000 miles of new wall along the southern border, White House officials told the Daily Caller website exclusively today (February 10, 2020).

An official told the Caller, "The president has kept his promise to secure the border. With funding available, the administration will build up to approximately 1,000 miles of border wall along the southwest border."

According to White House officials familiar with the fiscal year 2021 proposal, the budget request for Customs and Border Patrol jumped to $15.6 billion, up roughly 7 percent from last year's enacted total.

Officials added that the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security will provide $8.4 billion to wall construction.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Thai Soldier Shot Dead for Killing 29 in Gun Bout; Police: Killings Believed Sparked by Land Dispute

A soldier, who shot and killed at least 29 people and wounded 57 others in a shopping center in Thailand yesterday (February 8, 2020),  has been shot dead by security forces, in what has been the bloodiest shooting in the country's history, according to the Euro News website.

The suspect has been identified as Sgt. Maj. Jakrapanth Thomma, 32, according to the Defense Ministry.

The shooting began around 3:30 p.m. local time in the northeastern city of Nakhon Ratchasima, also known as Korat.

A police officer said the soldier initially shot dead another soldier and woman, wounding also a third person, over a land dispute.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Taliban Kills 5 or 6 US Soldiers in Afghanistan; Months of US-Taliban Peace Talks Have Failed

The Taliban claimed today (February 8, 2020) that five or six U.S. soldiers were killed after exchanging fire in Afghanistan, according to the Daily Star (British) website.

U.S. and Afghan troops were fired on while conducting an operation in Afghanistan's eastern Nangarhar province, the U.S. military today confirmed.

U.S. military spokesman Col. Sonny Leggett said there were multiple casualties, but could not confirm numbers.

U.S. diplomats have been in talks with the Taliban for months to agree to a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan in exchange for security guarantees.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Pompeo Taps International Rel.Freedom Alliance; Designed to Abet Rel. Freedom around the World

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has launched a new International Religious Freedom Alliance, the Christian Today website reports today (February 7, 2020).

He said the new alliance would "push the issue of religious freedom around the world."

He also stressed that "Egregious perpetrators of religious persecution have long operated with impunity."

"Today, partners from all over the world are answering the call to protect and promote religious freedom."

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Pope: Tax Cut for Wealthy Is a "Structure of Sin;" Says Wealthy Must Pay Billions of $ to Help Poor

Pope Francis said yesterday that tax cuts for the wealthy constitutes a "structure of sin," and called for international wealth distribution, the Breitbart website reports today (February 6, 2020).

"Every year hundreds of billions of dollars, which should be paid in taxes to fund health care and education, accumulate in tax haven accounts," the pontiff told the participants in a Vatican seminar.

"Today's structures of sin include repeated tax cuts for the richest people, often justified in the name of investment and development," Francis told the meeting organized by the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences.

With the passage of time, the number of poor people increases rather than decreases, Francis said, and "the poor are always poorer, and today they are poorer than ever."

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Greek Govt. Giving 2,000 Euros for Newborns; Designed to Stem Greece's Declining Birth Rate

In an effort to encourage young families to have children, the Greek government is giving an allowance of  2,000 euros for the birth of every child, the Euro News website reports today (February 5, 2020).

The measure, which went into effect at the beginning of this year, is designed to stem the declining birth rate in Greece.

For the first time in the country's modern history, its population is starting to decrease.

This is due to numerous reasons, including the lack of good medical facilities in some areas, linked to austerity measures that have been imposed on Greece over the years.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Greek Orth. Church Synod: "Abortion Is Murder;" Fetus Is a Human Being from Time of Conception

The Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in Greece decided today (February 4, 2020) to take a clear position on abortion -- an issue that has triggered uproar among the Greek society in recent weeks -- by agreeing that "abortion is murder," according to the Keep Talking Greece website.

"The Holy Synod took into consideration the issues that have recently arisen on the subject of abortion," a statement said.

"Based on the Holy Bible and the Holy Tradition of the Orthodox Church of Christ, the Holy Synod expresses its theological position on the fetus as a complete and integral human being from the moment of the conception and therefore it considers voluntary abortion as a murder and does not accept it," the statement stressed.

It added, "It should be recalled that abortion is legal in Greece since 1986. And there come these unworldly men living in strict celibacy who rule that what is legal in the state laws is illegal in religious terms."

Monday, February 3, 2020

Church Builds Tiny Houses for Homeless Vets; Forest Lake, MN Church OKs Tiny House Ties

A Minnesota congregation has approved the development of a tiny house community on their church's property to house homeless veterans, the Christian Post website reports today (February 3, 2020).

Faith Lutheran Church of Forest Lake recently voted to approve the project, with the hope that the tiny house community, known as "Sacred Settlement," will be completed by 2021.

Faith Lutheran Church Senior Pastor John Klawiter told the Christian Post that the concept of the Sacred Settlement "matches the values of our congregation in many ways."

"We have a lot of members who have served or are actively in the military. We have a newly established veterans committee that will walk alongside any of the veterans that live in the Sacred Settlement," Klawiter said.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Islam Terrorist Stabs 2,Is Shot Dead in London; Was under Police Surveillance as Terror Backer

Two people were stabbed and a terrorist was shot dead by police today (February 2, 2020) in an Islamist-inspired terror attack in south London, according to the Sky News website.

Sudesh Amman was wearing a fake bomb vest when he attacked people in the southern London area of Streatham.

He had been sentenced in December 2018 to three years and four months in jail, after a court heard that he had shared his extremist views with those close to him.

Amman was under police surveillance at the time of today's attack.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Arab League Rejects Trump's Mideast Peace Deal; Abbas: Palestinians to Cut All Ties with US, Israel

The Arab League today (February 1, 2020) unanimously shot down U.S. President Trump's Middle East peace plan, saying it would not lead to a just peace between Israel and Palestine, according to the RT website.

Trump's deal has already been rejected by the Palestinian side.

The 22 League members met in Cairo today to discuss the deal -- touted by Trump as the "deal of the century" -- for peace between Israel and Palestine.

Speaking at the meeting, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced he will cut all ties with the U.S. and Israel over the pro-Israel plan, and would not go down in history as the person who "sold out Jerusalem."

Friday, January 31, 2020

Greece to Block Migrants with a Floating Fence; Will Be 1.7 Miles Long,Netted in the Aegean Sea

Greece is planning to build a floating fence to run across the Aegean Sea in a bid to prevent illegal migrant crossings to the Greek islands from Turkey, the Euro News website reports today (January 31, 2020).

The fence will be 1.7 miles in length, will be netted, and will rise 20 inches in order to hold flashing lights.

It will cost an estimated 500,000 Euros to build, including four years of upkeep.

The Greek Defense Ministry has opened the project for bidding from private contractors to supply the barrier, which it would like to be installed within three months.

WCC Head Slams Trump's Mideast Peace Plan; Says It's an Ultimatum Oppressing Palestinians

World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit on January 29 urged the international community not to support a proposal by U.S. president Trump and Israeli president Netanyahu for dividing up Palestine and Israel in a plan developed with no meaningful participation from the Palestinian people, the Independent Catholic News website reports today (January 31, 2020).

"WCC urges members of the international community  not to support this proposal or to recognize its implementation unless and until it has been substantially revised, negotiated, and agreed with representatives of the Palestinian people and in compliance with the principles of international law regarding belligerent occupation and human rights," said Tveit.

He added, "This proposal was developed without meaningful participation by representatives of the Palestinian people, and primarily in line with long-stated Israeli objectives."

"The proposal constitutes an ultimatum, rather than a real, sustainable or just solution," said Tveit. "Ultimately, any 'solution' that is not based on justice and negotiated agreement will be an imposition and an instrument of oppression."

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Cath. School Fires Unmarried Pregnant Teacher; Judge OKs Proceeding with Discrimination Trial

After being fired for becoming pregnant out of wedlock, a former Catholic school English teacher has been denied reinstatement of employment but has been granted permission to proceed with her discrimination lawsuit against the school, the Christian Headlines website reports today (January 30, 2020).

On January 28, Northumberland County (Penn.) Judge Hugh A. Jones found that the one-year contract the former teacher, Naiad Reich, signed on June 14,2018, did not guarantee future employment.

However, Jones did note that Reich provided enough evidence suggesting she was terminated because of her pregnancy to proceed with a discrimination case.

"We are pleased that Judge Jones has ruled that we may proceed on our claims for declaratory judgment and unlawful discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act," said Reich's attorney Timothy A. Bowers in a statement. "We look forward to taking those claims to trial."

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Warning Shots Fired as Migrants Enter Hungary; Some Were Beaten by Police, Sent Back to Serbia

A Hungarian security officer fired three warning shots yesterday after about 60 migrants tried to force their way through a checkpoint on the border with Serbia, and Serbian police said later they had arrested 37 people for trying to cross the frontier illegally, the Reuters website reports today (January 29, 2020).

No one was wounded in the incident, which took place at the Roszke/Horgos border crossing, Hungarian police spokeswoman Szilvia Szabo said.

There are thousands of migrants stuck in Serbia, with more than 6,000 migrants living in government-operated camps.

Also yesterday, in the village of Horgos, on the Serbian side of the border crossing, a group of about two dozen migrants from Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Morocco said they were beaten up by Hungarian police and sent back to Serbia. Some showed cuts and bruises.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

ISIS Announces It Has New Mission: Kill All Jews; Abbas Rips Trump's Peace Plan,Calls Trump a Dog

The ISIS terror group announced today (January 28, 2020) that it has a new mission: to kill all Jews, according to the CBN website.

ISIS released an audio recording calling on members to attack Jews and to thwart President Donald Trump's Israeli-Palestinian "Deal of the Century" peace plan.

The recording stated that although some in the West believe ISIS was destroyed when it lost its seized land in Iraq and Syria, "we are still here, and we are ready to start a 'new stage' -- hitting Israeli targets."

President Trump released his "Deal of the Century" peace plan today, and the Palestinians have rejected it. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said Trump's peace plan favors Israel and he encouraged Palestinians to protest against it. Abbas even went so far as to call Trump "a dog" and other more vulgar names.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Abbas Rejects Trump Request to Speak by Phone; Mad Trump Accepted Jerusalem as Israel Capital

Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas has rejected a request from U.S. President Donald Trump to speak by phone on Trump's Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, an official said today (January 27, 2020), according to the World Israel News website.

"Trump made the request a few days ago," said the official, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

"Abbas has announced on several occasions his refusal to accept the U.S. plan, as it does not address the issues of Jerusalem, refugees, and borders," a PA report states, referring to the American peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians.

The PA announced in December 2017 that it was breaking diplomatic contacts with  Washington, after Trump announced the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Trump's "Deal of the Century" Occurs This Week; Reveals Peace Plan for Mideast, Arabs to Reject It

The Trump administration may present its "Deal of the Century" to the world as early as this week (January 26-February 1) in a ceremony at the White House to which both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and main political rival Benny Gantz of the Blue and White Party have been invited, according to t he Worthy News website.

The plan gives Israel substantial control over what are now settlements in Judea and Samaria and is far more generous to the Jewish state in allowing it to reclaim some of its lost land than former proposals, while still making provision for a Palestinian state in its midst.

The economic portion of the plan was unveiled last summer by Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner at the Bahrain Conference, which proposed a $50 billion investment plan for the Palestinian economy, although all signs point to the Palestinian leadership rejecting the proposal.

The Palestinians were enraged last year as a result of President Trump moving the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, as the Palestinians expected at least part of Jerusalem to be their capital. These "Israel-favored" actions implemented by Trump have caused the Palestinians to vow never again to bargain with the U.S. for an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan or to accept any peace plan set up by the U.S.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Pope Vows to Combat Clergy Sex Abuse of Nuns; Says It's "Serious Grave Problem We Must Fight"

Pope Francis vowed yesterday to combat the sexual abuse of nuns and urged religious sisters to just say no when clergy want to use them as maids, the Crux website reports today (January 25, 2020).

Francis told 850 superiors of religious orders gathered for the triennial assembly of the International Union of Superiors General -- the main umbrella group of nuns -- that theirs is a vocation of service, not servitude.

The union's president, Maltese Sister Carmen Sammut, told Francis that clergy abuse of sisters was "diffuse in  many parts of the world," and included sexual abuse, spiritual abuse, as well as taking of their property.

Francis said clergy sexual abuse of sisters was "a serious grave problem" of which he was well aware. "We have to fight this..."

Friday, January 24, 2020

Trump Becomes 1st Pres. to Attend March for Life; Defends Right of Every Child to a God-given Birth

Donald Trump today (January 24, 2020) became the first U.S. president to attend the annual March for Life, telling the crowd he believes "every person is worth protecting," according to the Daily Caller website.

Hundreds of thousands of people gather every year in Washington, D.C.for the march in opposition to abortion.

"It is my profound honor to be the first president in history to attend the March for Life!" Trump told the crowd.

He added, "We're here for a very simple reason -- to defend the right of every child, born and unborn, to fulfill their God-given potential."

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Contamination Very High in US Drinking Water; Chemicals in Water Cause Cancers,Liver Damage

An environmental watchdog group said in a report released yesterday that contamination of U.S. drinking water with man-made "forever chemicals" is far worse than previously estimated, the Reuters website reports today (January 23, 2020).

The chemicals -- resistant to breaking down in the environment -- are known as perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS.

Some have been linked to cancers, liver damage, low birth weight, and other health problems.

The chemicals are used in products like teflon and scotchguard and in firefighting foam.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Attacks on Europe Churches at All-time High; Report: Some 3K Acts of Vandalism Last Year

Attacks against Christians in Europe reached record highs in 2019, as hostility and vandalism against churches, Christian school and monuments continue to sweep the continent, the Christian Post website reports today (January 22, 2020).

The Gatestone Institute International Policy Council this month published its research of anti-Christian violence, and reported that about 3,000 acts of vandalism, looting, and defacement occurred last year.

"Violence against Christian sites is most widespread in France, where churches, schools, cemeteries, and monuments are being vandalized, desecrated, and burned at an average rate of three per day, according to government statistics. In Germany, attacks against Christian churches are occurring at an average rate of two per day," the report states.

Those committing the anti-Christian crimes are rarely apprehended, because many have mental disorders. Also, their crimes are not formally classified as "hate crimes."