Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Five US Troops Believed Killed in Syria by IS; Suicide Bomber Explosion Kills 16 in Manbij

United States service members were among 16 people killed today (January 16, 2019) in an explosion set off by a suicide bomber in the Northern Syrian city of Manbij, according to the NY Daily News website.

The Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility for the blast. The attack illustrates that the IS remains a powerful force in Syria, despite President Trump's  assertion that it has been defeated.

Besides the 16 killed, many others were wounded.

Five U.S.-backed Syrian fighters were among the dead in today's suicide bombing.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Trump Sought to Pull US Out of NATO Last Yr.; Still Feels Allies Not Paying Fair Share on NATO

The New York Times reports today (January 15, 2019) that President Donald Trump privately discussed pulling the U.S. out of NATO several times last year, according to The Daily Beast website.

Quoting senior administration officials, the Times reports that Trump told his national security team last summer, around the time of a NATO summit, that he didn't see the point of the international alliance.

Although Trump did not take action at that time, the officials are worried he might renew the threat because U.S. allies have still not increased their military spending to his liking.

Retired Admiral James G. Stavridis -- the former supreme allied commander of NATO -- said pulling out of NATO would be "a geopolitical mistake of epic proportion" and "the gift of the century for Putin."

Ronald McDonald Sculpted as Jesus on the Cross; Christians Protest "McJesus" at Israel Art Museum

An artwork titled "McJesus," depicting a crucified Ronald McDonald, at an art museum in Haifa, Israel has brought angry calls from local Christians to remove it, the Religion News website reports today (January 15, 2019).

On January 11, hundreds of Christians demonstrated in front of the Haifa Museum of the Arts, demanding that it remove the artwork. Some protesters threw fire bombs and stones at the museum and attempted to enter the building to remove the sculpture. Three police officers managing the crowd were injured.

The piece, by Finnish artist Jani Leinonen, is part of an exhibition called "Sacred Goods," which focuses on "the responses of contemporary artists to issues of religion and faith in the contemporary global reality, which is dominated by the consumer culture," according to the museum's website.

Israel's culture minister, Miri Regev, said she has received numerous complaints about a "grave insult to the Christian community's sensibilities" and threatened to cut the museum's funding if it did not remove "McJesus" and other controversial items from the exhibition.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Polish Mayor of Gdansk Dies from Stab Wounds; Pawel Adamowicz Is Attacked at a Charity Event

Polish mayor Pawel Adamowicz died in a hospital today (January 14, 2019) after he was stabbed on stage at a charity event, according to the Sky News website.

Adamowicz, the mayor of Gdansk, was attacked in front of hundreds of people in the city yesterday during an event in aid of the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity, which was raising money for hospital equipment.

He underwent five hours of surgery for wounds to his heart and abdomen, but did not survive.

Police arrested a 27-year-old man with a long criminal record on suspicion of attempted murder, and he remains in custody.

Cal. Pastor Loses Job for Posting Anti-Gay Sign; Sign Stated Culture May Change,Bible Does Not

A California pastor is out of a job after facing backlash over a sign that affirms the biblical definition of gender and marriage, the CBN website reports today (January 14, 2019).

Pastor Justin Hoke of Trinity Bible Presbyterian Church in Weed, California, posted a church sign in early January. The sign read: "Bruce Jenner is still a man. Homosexuality is still a sin. The culture may change. The Bible does not."

"The culture is now demanding that we call 'good' what the Bible calls evil," Hoke said.

The posted message immediately sparked protests among members of the community. Hoke decided to resign as pastor of the church to save the church from fracturing.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Trump Warns Turkey Not to Hit Syrian Kurds; Says It Will Suffer Ec. Ruin If It Strikes Kurds

President Donald Trump today (January 13, 2019) warned Turkey it would face economic devastation if it strikes at the Kurds when U.S. forces pull out of  Syria, according to the VOA News website.

"Likewise, do not want the Kurds to provoke Turkey," Trump said in a tweet late today.

Without giving any further details, he wrote "Create 20 mile (32 kilometers) safe zone."

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (YPG), which Turkey views as a terrorist group, were among the United States' closest allies in the fight against Islamic State (IS) militants inside Syria. Turks and Kurds have been clashing for decades, as the Kurds have been trying to establish an independent state of their own in Turkey.

Report: Some Universities Dropping Liberal Arts; Now Favor Career-Focused Specialized Programs

The New York Times reports today (January 13, 2019) that many public universities in rural America are facing a crisis of lower enrollment, funding, and changing demographics -- and are looking to eliminate longstanding liberal arts degrees in favor of career-focused programs -- according to the Newsmax website.

But critics say in trying to carve out a sustainable path at rural schools like UW-Stevens Point in Wisconsin -- where BAs in history, French, and German are getting dropped -- administrators are risking the very essence of a four-year college experience.

"Part of the fear is, Is this an attempt to really kind of radically change the identity of this institution?" Jennifer Collins, a political science professor, told the NY Times, adding she's worried Stevens Point might become a "pre-professional, more polytechnic type of university."

Kim Mueller, 21, a senior who hopes to become a history teacher at a Wisconsin high school, told the Times her first reaction to the proposal was: "What is a university without a history major?"