Thursday, May 24, 2018

Pope to Bishops: Don't Accept Gay Seminarians; Day after He Told Gay Man God Loved Him Gay

Pope Francis warned Italian bishops at a closed-door gathering this week to vet carefully applicants to the priesthood and reject anyone they suspected might be homosexual, the Yahoo News website reports today (May 24, 2018).

"Keep and eye on the admissions to seminaries, keep your eyes open," the pope was quoted as saying by newspaper La Stampa's Vatican Insider service. "If in doubt, better not let them enter."

Francis' meeting with Italian bishops came just a day after a Chilean man, who suffered clerical sexual abuse, quoted the pope as telling him in a private conversation that God had made him gay and loved him that way.

The Vatican declined to comment on the report which touched off fierce media speculation that Francis was softening the Church stance on homosexuality. It has previously condemned homosexuality as an immoral disorder if actively practiced.

Grad Speaker Forced to Remove God References; Valedictorian to File Suit for Censoring of Speech

Officials at an Illinois high school who forced their Christian student valedictorian to remove references to Jesus, God, and his faith from his graduation speech will soon be facing a lawsuit after First Liberty Institute -- one of the nation's top religious liberty law firms -- decried the move as a violation of the student's constitutional rights, the Christian Post website reports today (May 24, 2018).

"The most important thing in your life is to find... intimacy with God," Sam Blackledge, the 18-year-old valedictorian of West Prairie High School in Sciota, wrote in his prepared remarks for his graduation on May 19.

He said he turned in a copy of the speech to school officials, but ten minutes before his graduation ceremony, school administrators told him to remove all references to God from his speech and warned him not to discuss his faith.

Jeremy Dys, a lawyer with the nonprofit religious freedom firm First Liberty Institute, who has taken on Blackledge's case, said what the school did was a violation because the valedictorian's speech is protected by federal law. "They actually violated the Constitution," Dys added.

NFL Players Must Stand during National Anthem; Non-Standing Players to Remain in Locker Room

Among repeated protests during the playing of the national anthem during the past two seasons, the NFL yesterday passed a revised policy that mandates players and team personnel present on the sideline "shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem," the USA Today website reports today (May 24, 2018).

The revision allows players who would not wish to stand to remain in the locker room.

Also under revision, each franchise will have the power to issue its own policies, which could include fines for players protesting the anthem, under the conduct detrimental provision of the league's personal conduct policy.

The league also now has the power to fine any franchise that has representatives who do not stand or "show respect" while present on the sideline for the anthem. President Donald Trump has been critical of football players who don't stand during the playing of the national anthem, saying they should leave the United States permanently.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

US May OK Israeli Sovereignty of Golan Heights; Israel Captured Golan Heights from Syria in 1967

Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz said today (May 23, 2018) that Israel is now urging the Trump administration to acknowledge the Jewish state's sovereignty over the Golan Heights, according to the World Israel News website.

Katz believes that in the wake of the U.S. withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal, its declaration that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and its embassy move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, recognition of Israeli sovereignty of the Golan Heights would send another strong message to Iran and Israel's other foes in the region.

Israel captured the Golan Heights in 1967 when Syria had control of the region.

The Golan Heights serves as a significant geopolitical territory to the Jewish state because it serves as a buffer zone by protecting Israel from Iranian aggression.

Minibus Crash into a Truck Kills 9 in Hungary; Minibus Driver Was Broadcasting on Facebook

The driver of a minibus involved in a deadly crash that killed nine people in Hungary yesterday was broadcasting on Facebook at the time of the accident, the Euro News website reports today (May 23, 2018).

Eight passengers and the driver died as the vehicle -- registered in Romania -- smashed into a large flat truck yesterday afternoon.

Four of the dead were identified as Romanian by the Hungarian Foreign Affairs Ministry, which initiated a crisis cell to assist the victims' families.

They were traveling back from Slovenia where they were doing seasonal agricultural work.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Father of Santa Fe Shooter: My Son Is a Victim; Says Son Is a Victim of Bullying, Not a Criminal

The father of the alleged Santa Fe (Texas) High School shooter, Dimitrios Pagourtzis, told a news outlet in Greece today (May 22, 2018) that his son was a victim of bullying, according to The Daily Beast website.

"Something must have happened now, this last week," Antonios Pagourtzis said. "Somebody probably came and hurt him, and since he was a solid boy, I don't know what could have happened..."

He added that Dimitrios Pagourtzis took a shotgun and handgun that he owned from his closet. "My son, to me, is not a criminal, he's a victim," the father said.

Lawyers for Pagourtzis said that they were investigating "teacher-on-student" bullying, possibly involving the teen's football coaches, but the school district claimed those accusations were false.

Booklet Tells Swedes How to React to Aggression; Nearness to Russia Sways Sweden to Defend Itself

Sweden will send out instructions to its citizens next week on how to cope with an outbreak of war, as the country faces an aggressive Russia across the Baltic Sea, the Reuters website reports today (May 22, 2018).

The 20-page pamphlet, titled "If Crisis on War Comes," gives advice on getting clean water, spotting propaganda, and finding a bomb shelter, in the first public awareness campaign of its kind since the days of the Cold War.

The pamphlet also tells Swedes they have a duty to act if their country is threatened. "If Sweden is attacked by another country, we will never give up," the booklet says.

Sweden and several other countries located near Russia have been on alert since Russia's illegal annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula in March, 2014. Sweden has also accused Russia of repeated violations of its airspace during the past few years -- accusations that Russia has denied or ignored.