Saturday, June 30, 2012

COMMENTARY: Shame on Ultra-Orthodox Jews for Defacing Jerusalem Holocaust Museum

This week, three ultra-Orthodox Jews were arrested for spray painting anti-Semitic and anti-Israel graffiti on the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem.

The three men -- who admitted committing the crime that occurred earlier this month -- are also suspected of being connected to vandalism attacks at Ammunition Hill on Memorial Day and on memorials in the Jordan Valley.

Several slogans -- written in Hebrew on the Holocaust museum -- included: "Hitler, thank you for the Holocaust," and "If Hitler did not exist, the Zionists would have invented him."

Although we found it incredible at first that ultra-Orthodox Jews would betray their fellow Jews -- that is, Reform Jews and Conservative Jews -- with anti-Semitic slogans and hatred, we have since learned the reason for such self-hatred. (Sociologists use the term "self-hatred" to describe demeaning one's own ethnicity or religion.)

The fact is that many ultra-Orthodox Jews are opposed to the existence of Israel, because they believe that a Jewish state should not be established before the coming of the Messiah. Some ultra-Orthodox Jewish extremists even believe that Israel's founders conspired with Hitler to bring about the state of Israel.

While we believe that ultra-Orthodox Jews are entitled to their religious beliefs, we do not approve of them writing anti-Semitic graffiti on an Israeli Holocaust museum -- or anywhere else, for that matter. We also believe that the three ultra-Orthodox Jews arrested for this graffiti should be sentenced -- if convicted -- to the full extent of Israel's law.

Indeed, Israel already has a plethora of non-Jews around the world who are anti-Semitic. The last thing Israel needs today is ultra-Orthodox Jews in that country adding fuel to an anti-Semitic fire.

Abp. Sheen Declared Venerable by Pope Benedict; His 1950s TV Show "Life Is Worth Living" Sublime

The Chicago Tribune website reports today (June 30, 2012) that the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen -- a pioneering televangelist and Illinois native whose 1950s TV show, "Life Is Worth Living," won an Emmy -- has been declared Venerable by Pope Benedict XVI.

The declaration is the second step toward sainthood. Pope John Paul II declared Sheen a Servant of God in 2002.

To reach the next step of beatification, the Vatican is currently investigating an alleged miracle attributed to Sheen that took place at a Peoria, Illinois hospital. Those in Peoria who are advancing the cause for his sainthood believe Sheen interceded to save the life of a stillborn baby.

Peoria Bishop Daniel Jenky said, "We are so happy that His Holiness has declared Fulton Sheen Venerable."

Texas Air Base Is Shaken Up by Sex Abuse Scandal; 31 Female Cadets Assaulted by Their Male Trainees

The Eurasia Review website reports today (June 30, 2012) that a U.S. Air Force investigation has identified 31 female cadets who were sexually assaulted by their male trainers at a Texas military camp.

An internal probe is currently looking at 12 male military instructors that were serving at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. Six of them face charges of misconduct, including rape and adultery.

"We are taking a comprehensive look, not only at the cases we know, but in trying to assess whether there are other cases out there," said Gen. Edward Rice during a Pentagon briefing.

Gen. Rice also said that the Air Force command is currently looking at the possibility of female cadets being trained by only female instructors. Only 11 percent of the Air Force training instructors currently are women.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Philly Archdiocese to Sell Huge NJ Beach House; Due to $17M Budget Deficit,Millions in Legal Bills

The New Jersey On-Line website reports today (June 29, 2012) that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is selling a 19-room beachfront property in Atlantic County used by retired priests, because it faces a $17 million budget deficit and millions of dollars in legal bills associated with a child sex abuse case.

A spokesman for the archdiocese says the ocean-front home in Ventnor, NJ will be shuttered tomorrow (June 30). Tax records say the property -- occupying a full block along the Boardwalk -- is assessed at $6.2 million.

Archbishop Charles Chaput last week also announced plans to cut 45 jobs and stop publishing The Catholic Standard & Times because of the budget gap.

The diocese is also facing at least $10 million in legal bills connected to the child sex abuse case decided last week. In that case, Monsignor William Lynn was convicted of child endangerment for his handling of priest abuse complaints.

1st "Miss Holocaust Survivor" Crowned in Israel; Many Israelis Viewed Pageant as Inappropriate

Grinning and waving, 14 women -- who survived the horrors of World War II -- paraded yesterday (June 28, 2012) in an unusual pageant, vying for the honor of being crowned Israel's first "Miss Holocaust Survivor," according to the Associated Press website.

Billed by organizers as a celebration of life, the event also stirred controversy. In a country where millions have been touched by the Holocaust, many argued that judging aging women who had suffered so much on physical appearance was inappropriate -- and even offensive.

Pageant organizer Shimon Sabag rejected the criticism, saying the winners were chosen based on their personal stories of survival and rebuilding their lives after World War II, and physical beauty was only a tiny part of the competition.

A four-judge panel consisting of three former beauty queens and a geriatric psychiatrist who specializes in treating Holocaust survivors chose Hava Hershkovitz as the winner. Hershkovitz -- a soon-to-be 79-year-old -- was banished from her home in Romania in 1941 and sent to a detention camp in the Soviet Union for three years. Today, she lives in an assisted living home.

Court OKs After-Hr. Rel. Meetings in NYC Schools; Orders Permanent Injunction Against NYC's Policy

The One News Now website reports that a court today (June 29, 2012) ordered a permanent injunction against a New York City policy prohibiting churches from meeting on school property after school hours.

Today's decision by the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York means worship services will continue at NYC schools.

A preliminary injunction against the prohibition was ordered last February.

Alliance Defense Fund attorney Jordan Lorence says with today's ruling, "churches that have been helping communities for years can continue to offer the hope that empty buildings can't."

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Va. Woman Says Priest Molested Her at Exorcism; Files Lawsuit Seeking $5.3M in Damages for Abuse

The Christian Broadcast Network website reports today (June 28, 2012) that a woman -- who claims a priest repeatedly molested her during two years of exorcism sessions -- has filed a lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, its bishop, and an anti-abortion ministry that employed the exorcist.

The lawsuit -- filed earlier this month in Arlington County Circuit Court -- seeks more than $5.3 million in damages.

According to the complaint, the woman -- identified in court papers by the pseudonym Jane Doe -- went to the Rev. Thomas Euteneuer for spiritual help in February 2008.

The woman alleges that Euteneuer's sessions with her frequently involved inappropriate touching and directing her to undress.

Taliban Shows Grim Video of Pakistani Soldiers; Video Flaunts 17 Heads Placed on Bloody Sheet

The Eurasia Review website reports today (June 28, 2012) that Taliban militants have released a video that shows the heads of 17 Pakistani soldiers captured in a cross-border raid from Afghanistan and beheaded.

The beheading reportedly took place on June 24.

The video displayed 17 heads placed on a bloody white sheet, while several masked men stood behind holding weapons they said were captured from the soldiers.

The Taliban is very opposed to Pakistani soldiers assisting American troops in maintaining the freedom of Afghanistan, and the display of its beheading is just another Taliban attempt to intimidate the Pakistanis.

Idaho Priest Shocks GOP Leaders with Invocation; Asks Lord for President Obama's Defeat on Nov. 7

The Boise Weekly website reports today (June 28, 2012) that Father Michael St. Marie -- faith leader of St. Edward Parish in Twin Falls, Idaho -- shocked some 400 people with his invocation that opened the Idaho State GOP Convention on June 22.

St. Marie prayed, "Dear Lord, I ask that on Tuesday, November 7, you find a new job for President Obama."

Diocese spokesman Michael Brown told the Boise Weekly, "The Diocese has no comment, but I can tell you that the Diocese does not condone or support any candidate for public office."

St. Marie's prayer was greeted by cheers from the 400 attendees representing Idaho's 44 counties.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

COMMENTARY: U.S. Government Must Reassess Its Use of Drones

On June 25, 2012, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter -- in a New York Times Op-Ed discourse -- accused the Obama administration of sanctioning the "widespread abuse of human rights" by authorizing countless drone (unmanned aircraft) strikes to kill suspected terrorists.

Moreover, Carter denounced the Obama Administration for "clearly violating" 10 of 30 articles of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In other words, the United States has been abandoning its role as the global champion of human rights.

We agree with Carter's view that the Obama administration is violating the UN's code of human rights. We also believe that the drones must be used sparingly, in order to avoid killing innocent people.

The fact is that more than 1,000 American drone strikes since 2009 have killed thousands of people, many of whom were innocent women and children. Such attacks would have been considered inhumane -- and would never have been allowed to occur -- in previous years.

It is now time for the United States government to reassess its use of drones -- especially as their use may result in killing innocent people.

After all, the United States -- since the early days of its founding -- has been known for cherishing the human rights of its citizens, as well as the rights of citizens of many other nations.

Indeed, it would behoove the United States to continue to adhere to this cherished human rights principle for the well-being of humanity -- today and ad infinitum.

Mother Denied Attending Meeting Due to Niqab; Told College Forbade Face Coverings for Security

The Europe News website reports today (June 27, 2012) that a mother of a college student in Britain was turned away from parents' evening because she was wearing a full-face veil.

Maroon Rafique, 40, was told that -- for security and safety of children and teachers at the college -- there was a ban on any type of face coverings.

She was warned that unless she removed her full-face covering -- known as the niqab -- she would not be allowed into the college.

In the end, a stunned Mrs. Rafique -- who was born in Britain -- called her husband, who took her place and went with their son Awais, 18.

Pentagon Hosts Its 1st "Gay Parade" Celebration; Obama: LGBTs Won't Serve as 2nd Class Citizens

The One News Now website reports that the Pentagon yesterday (June 26, 2012) hosted its very first "gay parade" celebration.

The celebration was held in the Pentagon auditorium. The speakers -- including both President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta (via video) -- told those in attendance about the "value of gay service."

President Obama said, "As we celebrate LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) Pride Month, we remember the activists and advocates who refused to be treated like second-class citizens.

Panetta added, "And now after repeal (of the military's 'don't ask, don't tell' policy), you can be proud of serving your country and be proud of who you are when in uniform."

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

3 Ultra-Orth. Jews Accused of Defacing Museum; Painted Hateful Slogans on Holocaust Museum

The Forward (Jewish) website reports today (June 26, 2012) that three haredi Orthodox Jewish men have been arrested for spray painting anti-Semitic and anti-Israel graffiti on the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem.

The ultra-Orthodox Jews -- ages 18, 26, and 27 of Jerusalem and Bnei Brak and reportedly of the Neturei Karta sect -- were arrested today, and admitted to the crime, which occurred earlier this month.

They are also suspected of being connected to vandalism attacks at Ammunition Hill on Memorial Day and on memorials in the Jordan Valley.

The slogans written in Hebrew included: "Hitler, thank you for the Holocaust," "If Hitler did not exist, the Zionists would have invented him," and "The war of the Zionist regime is not the war of the Jewish people."

Bishop Quits Due to Photos Embracing Woman; Argentinian Had "Amorous Ties" to the Woman

The Telegraph (British) website reports today (June 26, 2012) that the Vatican has accepted the resignation of an Argentine bishop who was caught cavorting with a blonde, bikini-clad woman on a Mexican beach.

Bishop Fernando Bargallo, 57, was forced to hand in his resignation after photos emerged on the Internet this month showing him frolicking and embracing the woman at a luxury resort in Mexico.

Bargallo -- who led the Argentine diocese of Merlo-Moreno outside Buenos Aires since May 1997 -- admitted to having "amorous ties" with the woman he is seen embracing in the water. She is believed to be a divorced restaurant owner.

Initially, Bargallo claimed the woman was just a longtime friend.

Reps Ask Defense Secretary to Address Air Force; Claim Alarming Pattern of Attacks on Faith in AF

The New American website reports today (June 26, 2012) that sixty-six members of Congress have penned a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta asking him to address what they say is an "alarming pattern of attacks on faith in the Air Force."

The congressmen blame Air Force Chief of Staff Norman Schwartz for cultivating the attack on religious expression, which they say includes removing Latin references to God in an Air Force unit logo, deleting Christian references from a missile training course, taking Bibles off  an Air Force accommodations checklist, and prohibiting commanders from informing Air Force service members about Chaplain Corps programs.

"When our sons and daughters join the military, they are not signing away their First Amendment right to religious liberty," the congressmen said in their epistle to Panetta.

The congressional protest is being led by Rep. Randy Forbes of Virginia, who said in a statement : "The Air Force has repeatedly capitulated to demands from groups that seek to remove all traces of faith from the military and the public square.... Those who sacrifice so much for our nation must be assured that they need not leave their faith at home when they volunteer to serve."

Monday, June 25, 2012

Jimmy Carter Rips US for Abusing Human Rights; Blasts Obama for Authorizing Many Drone Killings

The ABC News website reports today (June 25, 2012) that former U.S. President Jimmy Carter is accusing the current president of sanctioning the "widespread abuse of human rights" by authorizing drone strikes to kill suspected terrorists.

Carter -- America's 39th president -- denounced the Obama administration for "clearly violating" 10 of the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, writing in a New York Times op-ed today that the "United States is abandoning its role as the global champion of human rights."

While the total number of attacks from unmanned aircraft -- called drones -- and the resulting casualties are murky, the New America Foundation estimates that in Pakistan alone 265 drone strikes have been executed since January 2009. Those strikes have killed at least 1,488 people, at least 1,343 of them considered militants, the foundation estimates based on news reports and other sources.

In addition to the drone strikes, Carter criticized the current president for keeping the Guantanamo Bay detention center open, where prisoners "have been tortured by waterboarding more than 100 times, or intimidated with semiautomatic weapons, power drills, or threats to sexually assault their mothers."

Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Cal. Cross Case; Lower Court Ruling Cross as Unconst. Holds

The Huffington Post website reports that the U.S. Supreme Court today (June 25, 2012) refused to hear an appeal of a lower court ruling that deemed the Mount Soledad cross -- overlooking the Pacific Ocean in San Diego -- as unconstitutional by mixing of government and religion.

The 29-foot war memorial cross sits on a 14-foot base, surrounded by walls that display more than 2,100 plaques commemorating individual veterans and veterans' groups.

Last year's ruling by the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals -- which deemed the cross unconstitutional -- capped two decades of legal challenges over the 1950s cross that became a memorial to Korean War veterans.

A number of military memorials on public lands across the United States have been challenged in recent years by civil liberty activists and atheists, who claim they violate the separation between church and state.

Plane with Nazi Flag Flies Over Beachgoers in NJ; Raelian Movement Flew Plane, Has Swastika Logo

The Daily Mail website reports today (June 25, 2012) that beachgoers were stunned Saturday (June 23) when a plane flew over Long Beach Island and along the New Jersey Shore, towing a Nazi flag.

On the sign was written the word "Swastika," showing the anti-Semitic symbol intertwined with the Hebrew Star of David.

It was spotted as far north as Manhattan and prompted several calls from concerned viewers to the Long Beach Township Police Department.

The plane was sponsored by the Raelian Movement, which preaches that earth life was scientifically created by the Elohim -- a species of extraterrestrial beings. The movement's official symbol features a swastika intertwined with the Hebrew Star of David, as seen by the people on the beach.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Penn. School Board to Keep Pre-Meeting Prayer; Grove City District Rejects a Moment of Silence

The Christian Broadcast Network website reports today (June 24, 2012) that a Pennsylvania school board has decided not to replace a pre-meeting prayer with a moment of silence.

The Grove City School District -- located north of Pittsburgh -- had discussed changing the policy for about two months.

But last week, the board did not have enough of board members vote to change the policy.

Board member Adam Renick says he voted to keep prayer to be an example to his children.

NC Cop Chaplains Told Not to Use Jesus in Prayer; Goal Is to Be More Sensitive toward All Religions

The One News Now website reports today (June 24, 2012) that the volunteer chaplains of North Carolina's Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department have been told to leave the name Jesus out of their prayers at official ceremonies.

The directive applies to events such as police graduations, memorials, and promotions.

Maj. John Diggs says the goal is to be more sensitive to all the religions of the more than 2,000 police employees.

Diggs threatened to replace any chaplain who does not comply with the new policy. All six of the chaplains are Christian, although the department's employees include Muslims and Jews.

50 Lawmakers Warn Hungary on Anti-Semitism; Hungarian: Jews "Lice-Infested, Dirty Murderers"

The Forward (Jewish) website reports today (June 24, 2012) that 50 U.S. congressman have urged Hungarian leaders to "use their authority to speak out against anti-Semitism."

Their call came in an open letter dated June 22 addressed to Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban. The letter focused on "anti-Semitic and homophobic positions espoused by members of the Jobbik (nationalist) Party.

Among other issues of concern, the letter mentioned statements by Jobbik's presidential candidate, Krisztina Morvai, who called Israelis "lice-infested, dirty murderers."

Such positions "have no place in civilized discourse and must not be allowed to go unchallenged," the letter read. The initiative was led by Joseph Crowley, a Democrat and representative for New York's 7th District.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

COMMENTARY: Sexually Abusive Priests and Their Supervisors Now Subject to Prosecution

On June 22, 2012, Monsignor William Lynn of the Philadelphia Archdiocese was found guilty by a 12-member jury of one count of endangering children, thus becoming the first senior official of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States to be convicted for covering up child sexual abuses by priests under his supervision.

Prosecutors and victims' rights groups praised the jury's finding, because it illustrates -- for the first time in the United States -- that cardinals and other clerical supervisors of abusive priests who fail to take appropriate action against these priests can indeed be held accountable for their inaction.

Moreover, this verdict will now serve as a precedent for future cases involving senior Catholic Church officials who "look the other way" -- or simply transfer abusive priests to other communities -- when these priests abuse children.

As a result of his conviction, Monsignor Lynn, 61, could be sentenced to a prison term of three-and-a-half to seven years.

The Common Pleas Court judge revoked Monsignor Lynn's bail because of the guilty finding in his  three-month-long trial. Monsignor Lynn is now being held in a jail cell, and is awaiting sentencing which is scheduled for August 13, 2012.

In addition to being extremely significant, this case conveys a critical lesson to Catholic priests and their supervisors; namely, that priests who sexually abuse children -- as well as supervisors of priests who fail to take appropriate action against these priests -- are now subject to criminal prosecution and jail sentences.

Presbyterian Church Membership Dips Below 2M; PCUSA Had Over 2.5M Members in the Yr. 2000

Presbyterian Church (USA) membership dipped below the 2 million mark in 2011, according to statistics released by the PC(USA) Office of the General Assembly on June 21, 2012, the Christian Post website reports today.

According to the numbers, during 2011 the denomination experienced a decline of 63,804 members and the loss of 96 congregations due to a mixture of church dissolutions and dismissals.

Dr. Sheldon Sorge -- pastor to Presbytery of the PC(USA) Presbytery of Pittsburgh -- said, "There are many reasons for this decline, including for mainline Protestants a birthrate well below the threshold of maintaining population."

The statistics showed a years-old trend continuing. According to the PC(USA) General Assembly Mission Council, in 2000 the denomination had over 2.5 million members. Over the past decade, the entire denomination has lost over 20 percent of its membership.

Three Cal. Officials Accused of Pot Shop Bribes; Cudahy, Cal. Mayor, Councilor, City Mgr. Charged

The Fox News website reports today (June 23, 2012) that in the small southern California city of Cudahy, Mayor David Silva, Councilman Osvaldo Conde, and former City Manager Angel Perales were arrested yesterday and charged with soliciting and accepting cash bribes totaling $17,000 to support the opening of a medical marijuana dispensary.

If convicted of a bribery charge, each faces up to 10 years in prison.

In court yesterday, Silva and Perales were released on $50,000 bond, while Conde was released on $100,000 bond.

Court documents laid out the scheme to approve a pot shop in exchange for cash.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Texan Indicted for Threat to Bomb Tenn. Mosque; Javier Correa Said He'd Bomb Mosque on 9/11

The AlterNet website reports today (June 22, 2012) that a Texas resident has been indicted on federal charges of threatening to bomb a mosque in Tennessee days before the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

The Murfreesboro mosque has attracted national attention after a campaign by anti-Muslim activists to stop the construction of a new place of worship for the Muslim community.

Yesterday, the Justice Department announced that it would be charging 24-year-old Javier Allan Correa with "obstructing by threat of force the free exercise of religious beliefs" and "using an instrument of interstate commerce to communicate a threat."

Correa allegedly called the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro and -- after cursing Muslims -- said he was going to bomb the building on September 11.

Abp's Aid Guilty of Endangerment in Abuse Case; Phily's Msgr. Lynn Could Get 3-7-Yr. Prison Term

The New York Times website reports that Msgr. William Lynn was found guilty today (June 22, 2012) of one count of endangering children, thus becoming the first senior official of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States to be convicted for covering up child sexual abuses by priests under his supervision.

The 12-member jury acquitted him on a conspiracy charge and a second count of endangerment after a three-month trial that prosecutors and victims' rights groups considered a milestone in the sexual abuse scandals that have shaken the Catholic Church.

The mixed verdict was widely seen as a victory for the district attorney's office in Philadelphia, which has been investigating the archdiocese aggressively since 2002, and for victim advocates, who have argued for years that senior officials should be held accountable. The verdict will also serve as a precedent for future cases involving senior Catholic Church officials.

The trial has already sent a sobering message to church officials and others overseeing children around the country -- a message punctuated by Monsignor Lynn's conviction on a charge that could bring a prison term of three-and-a-half to seven years.

Arizona Preacher Is Sentenced to 60 Days in Jail; Built a Church in His Yard without Proper Permit

The News for Christians website reports today (June 22, 2012) that Arizona preacher Michael Salman was sentenced to jail for building what the City of Phoenix claims he has been representing as a church on his home property without securing the proper permits. Salman claims the building is not a church and is simply for private Bible study gatherings.

Salman's case -- which started in 2007 -- reached its conclusion this week when a Phoenix court ruled that he was guilty of more than five dozen violations in constructing the building and sentenced him to 60 days in jail and three years of probation.

The preacher -- whose ministry is called Harvest Christian Fellowship -- claims he was exercising his religious liberty by worshiping at home on his private property.

"You're taking a man out of society and sticking him in jail for worshiping at his home," Salman said.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Uruguay Drafts Bill Allowing Its Govt. to Sell Pot; Each Adult Will Be Able to Buy 40 Joints a Month

The AlterNet website reports today (June 21, 2012) that Jose Mujica -- the president of Uruguay -- has drafted a bill that would allow the government to sell pot in Uruguay, where possession and use are already legal.

The government would regulate the quality of pot, and sell it to adults cataloged in a registry. Each person would be allowed to purchase 40 joints per month.

The bill aims to decrease violence associated with marijuana trafficking, and to separate the markets of marijuana and hard drugs, such as coca-paste.

The legislation also indicates that tax dollars -- obtained from pot sales -- would finance addiction treatment.

Poll: 1 in 5 Americans Won't Vote for a Mormon; 43% of Americans Don't Know Romney Is Mormon

The Slate website reports today (June 21, 2012) that a new Gallup poll shows that nearly 1 in 5 (18 percent) Americans say they would not vote for a qualified presidential candidate who happens to be a Mormon.

However, voters' tolerance towards Mormons has increased from the 22 percent opposition last year, and an all-time high of 24 percent in 2007 -- the year Mitt Romney first announced his bid for the White House.

The good news for Romney is that voters can only hold his faith against him if they know about it and -- at least currently -- that's not the case for 43 percent of Americans.

Thirty-three percent said they didn't know the GOP candidate's religion, while the other 10 percent was split among those who misidentified him as a Protestant, Catholic, or "other."

Class-Action Lawsuit Filed Aganst ConAgra Foods; Says Hebrew National Hot Dogs Not 100% Kosher

The Inquisitr website reports today (June 21, 2012) that a class-action lawsuit has been filed against ConAgra Foods Inc., alleging that its hot dogs and other meat products sold under the Hebrew National brand are not actually kosher.

In the lawsuit -- which was filed by eleven individual consumers in May in Dakota County District Court of Minnesota -- the plaintiffs claim that employees with AER, a watchdog of kosher slaughtering services, witnessed procedures at slaughterhouses that rendered the meat being processed unkosher.

"Hebrew National products are not made from 100 percent kosher beef as defined by the most stringent Jews who follow Orthodox Jewish Law," the lawsuit reads. It continues, "The food processing plants which Defendant purchases their meat from, including those in Dakota County Minnesota, fail to adhere to the kosher standards in numerous respects."

The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damages and an injunction against further mislabeling. The suit additionally seeks class-action status for U.S. purchasers of Hebrew National products over the last four years, and alleges negligence and violations of state consumer fraud laws.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

COMMENTARY: Teacher Who Had Kindergartners Slap Bully Should Quit Teaching

Last week, a kindergarten teacher in a suburb of San Antonio, Texas was fired for having her students stand in a line and slap a class "bully" one by one.

Six-year-old Alden Neely -- a kindergartner at Salinas Elementary School near San Antonio -- apparently had the reputation of being a bully. So his teacher had the other 24 students in the class line up and slap him, in an effort to end his bullying.

We believe that this teacher was entirely out of line by having a student slapped by 24 students -- or even just one student.

Teachers must not use physical punishment -- or allow a student to use physical punishment -- against a student. It is just not acceptable today, since it usually results in a lawsuit by the student's parents against the teacher or the school department.

The teacher should have used a different method to punish the alleged bully. For example, she could have kept him after school, or had him write "I will not bully other students" several times.

Alden's mother was very upset -- and rightly so -- that the teacher had 24 students slap her son. In fact, she plans to do everything she can to prevent his former teacher from ever becoming a teacher again.

We believe that Alden's former teacher should seek employment in a field other than education, as this "bullying" situation clearly illustrates that she lacks the pedagogical skills that are necessary to work effectively with children.

Southern Baptists Elect Their First Black President; Vote for Fred Luter, Jr. to Lead the Denomination

Southern Baptists made history yesterday (June 19, 2012) by electing their first African-American president. Some 7,700 messengers unanimously and enthusiastically supported the vote for Fred Luter, Jr. to lead the predominantly white denomination, according to the Christian Post website.

"To God be the glory for the things that He has done," Luter said as he wiped away his tears.

Luter was the sole nominee for president. In such a situation, it is customary for the secretary to cast the ballot for the one nominee.

However, the chair on this occasion believed that "this historic moment should fully belong to the messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention." With that, the Southern Baptists rose in applause -- with some in tears -- agreeing that the ballot should be cast for Luter.

US to Impose Discipline for Afghan Koran Burners; Afghan Official Prefers They Serve Life in Prison

The Reuters website reports today (June 20, 2012) that U.S. soldiers involved in burning copies of the Koran in Afghanistan may face only administrative discipline -- a move that could deepen frustration among Afghans seeking more serious punishment for a series of public American missteps there this year.

A U.S. official -- speaking on condition of anonymity -- said today that an investigation into the February  incident  on a NATO military base near Kabul concluded with recommendations for administrative action for the military personnel involved.

Such action might be a written reprimand or docked pay -- but not job loss or criminal charges -- the official said. U.S. military officials have not yet announced any final decisions on the recommendations.

Nazir Ahmad Hanafi -- a member of Afghanistan's Ulema Council of Clerics who also took part in an initial joint Afghan-U.S. probe into the incident -- said he favored a more severe punishment, possibly even life in prison. "Otherwise, it will inflame public opinion," he said.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Cardinal: Satan, Media Trying to Break Vatican; Accuses Media of Ignoring Church's Good Deeds

The Newser website reports that Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone -- who ranks second to Pope Benedict in the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy -- said today (June 19, 2012) that misguided reporters under the influence of Satan are trying to undermine the Roman Catholic Church.

He also accused journalists of trying to imitate Dan Brown -- author of bestsellers like "The Da Vinci Code" -- by reporting on the so-called "VatiLeaks" scandal.

Media reports on the leak of sensitive Vatican documents are "intentionally ignoring" the church's good deeds, Bertone said.

He added that reporters "continue to invent fairy tales and repeat legends....The truth is that there is an attempt to sow division that comes from the Devil."

Asians Now the Biggest Immigrant Group in US; About 430,000 Asians Moved to the US in 2010

The Daily Beast website reports today (June 19, 2012) that a new Pew Research Center survey shows that Asian immigrants -- not Hispanics -- are now the biggest immigrant group in the United States.

About 430,000 Asian immigrants made their way to the United States in 2010, making up 36 percent of the new immigrant population, compared to Hispanics' 31 percent.

Asian-Americans tend to vote for Democrats for public office.

Fifty-four percent of Asian American voters surveyed said they approve of President Obama's performance -- 10 percent more than he is getting from the general population today.

Jewish Extremists Torch a West Bank Mosque; Jewish Army Takes 5 Hours to Arrive at Scene

A mosque in the West Bank village of Jab'a -- located south of Ramallah -- was set on fire in a suspected "price tag" arson attack early this morning (June 19, 2012), according to the Forward (Jewish) website.

Graffiti -- with messages such as "The war has begun" and "You will pay the price" -- was spray-painted on the mosque's walls.

Shin Bet agents and police -- accompanied by a heavy contingent of IDF soldiers -- were combing the area for clues and interrogating witnesses in the village today.

The mosque appears to have been attacked around 1:30 A.M. According to villagers, while the incident was reported to the IDF around 1:30 A.M., the army only arrived on the scene at 6:00 A.M.

Monday, June 18, 2012

NYC Native Pleads Guilty to Starting Al-Qaida Cell; Taught Group How to Evade Detection on Internet

The One News Now website reports today that a native New Yorker -- accused of conspiring to join al-Qaida and start an al-Qaida cell -- has pleaded guilty to charges in the case.

Wesam El-Hanafi pleaded guilty today (June 18, 2012) in Manhattan federal court.

Prosecutors say the Brooklyn-born El-Hanafi pledged loyalty to al-Qaida. They also say he helped teach the group how to evade detection on the Internet after he went to Yemen in February 2008.

El-Hanafi was arrested in Virginia in April 2010, when he was brought to the United States from Dubai. He had been working in that country in a government job safeguarding computer systems.

Texas Teacher Is Fired for Her "Bully Remedy;" Made All 24 Kindergarten Students Slap Bully

The ABC News website reports today (June 18, 2012) that a teacher in Texas was fired for reportedly getting 24 of her students to stand in a line and slap a class "bully" one by one.

Alden Neely, 6, is a kindergartner at Salinas Elementary School near San Antonio. Apparently, he got the reputation of being a bully.

So his teacher had the other 24 children in his class line up and -- one by one -- slap him.

The teacher has since been fired, and is facing a misdemeanor charge of "official oppression."

Britain Is No Longer Serving Pork in Its Schools; Rel. Jews and Muslims Not Allowed to Eat Pork

The Europe News website reports today (June 18, 2012) that roast pork and sausages -- which have always been a staple of British diets -- will no longer be served in England's schools because of "religious reasons."

Pork -- which is not eaten by devout Jews or Muslims -- has been banned by councils across the country to satisfy the needs of staff and pupils who are not allowed contact with it.

The decision has been criticized by MPs (members of parliament) who have said that the ban will cause unnecessary resentment among pupils.

Religious leaders in Britain said they never asked for the ban.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Jehovah's Witnesses to Pay $28M in Abuse Case; Is Most Amount of $ in US Rel. Child Abuse Case

A Northern California jury has awarded $28 million in damages to a woman who said the Jehovah's Witnesses allowed an adult member of a Fremont, California church to molest her when she was a child, the Associated Press website reports today (June 17, 2012).

Alameda County jurors awarded $7 million in compensatory damages on June 13 and an additional $21 million in punitive damages on June 14 to the plaintiff, Candace Conti, said Rick Simons, her lawyer.

"This is the largest jury verdict for a single victim in a religious child abuse case in the country," Simons said.

In her lawsuit, Conti, 26, said that in 1995 and 1996 -- when she was 9 and 10 years old and a member of the North Fremont Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses -- she was repeatedly molested by a fellow congregant, Jonathan Kendrick.

Pastor Dies of Flesh-Eating Bacteria Infection; Linda Snyder Was Pastor at Sacramento Church

A California pastor is the first known victim to die from the flesh-eating bacterial infection called necrotising fasciitis, the Christian Today website reports today (June 17, 2012).

Linda Snyder -- pastor of the United Methodist Church in Sacramento -- died after nearly a six-month battle with the infection.

Snyder had been rushed to a hospital on January 6, 2012 when a wound -- possibly an abscess -- was taken over by necrotising fasciitis.

Necrotising fasciitis is a rare but serious soft-tissue infection that can destroy the muscles, skin, and underlying tissue in a person it infects. It occurs when a flesh-eating bacteria -- such as Streptococcus -- invades a cut, wound, or scrape, and releases harmful toxins that kill tissue and disrupt blood flow in the infected area.

Three Blasts Strike Churches in N. Nigeria Today; 12 Fatalities Reported by AP from the Bombings

Three blasts have hit churches in the northern Nigerian state of Kaduna today (June 17, 2012), according to the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty website.

At least two people were killed and 48 were wounded in the bomb attacks on two churches, a Nigerian Red Cross official reports.

The Associated Press (AP) says 12 people were killed.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the Islamist sect Boko Haram has often attacked church services in Nigeria, which is split roughly evenly between Christians and Muslims.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

COMMENTARY: India Needs to Treat Its Women with Respect

A global poll of experts this week released the findings of a study that indicate India is the worst nation in the world in which a woman can live.

The poll found that traditional customs in India -- such as infanticide, child marriage, and slavery -- make India an exceptionally unpleasant country for its women.

In India, it is common practice for women and girls to be sold as chattels, girls to be married off as young as 10, and young girls exploited and abused as domestic slave labor.

Frankly, we were surprised to learn that India -- a nation whose primary religion is Hinduism -- treated women with less respect than any predominantly Islamic country.

This is probably because we have read of many situations in Islamic countries where women are not given equal rights as men. For example, in Islamic nations, a married woman cannot leave her home unless she has her husband's permission to do so.

We believe that India needs to pass some laws that will provide more respect for its women and girls. Certainly, forcing girls as young as 10 years old into marriage is one custom in India that needs to be put to rest.

Indeed, the government of India needs to seriously scrutinize the mistreatment of India's women, and to pass some devout laws to end their bondage -- once and for all.

China Suspends 3 Officials Over Forced Abortion; Feng Jianmei Beaten, Forced to Abort at 7 Months

The Washington Times website reports today (June 16, 2012) that China has suspended three officials and apologized to a woman who was forced to undergo an abortion seven months into her pregnancy, in a case that sparked a world uproar after graphic photos of the mother and her dead baby were circulated online.

The moves appeared to be aimed at calming public anger over a case that has triggered renewed criticism of China's widely hated one-child limit.

Designed to control China's exploding population -- now estimated to be 1.37 billion people -- the policy has led to often violently imposed forced abortions and sterilizations as local authorities try to meet birth quotas set by Beijing.

Feng Jianmei, 23, was beaten by officials and forced to abort the baby at seven months on June 2, because her family could not afford a $6,300 fine for having a second child. Photos of Feng lying on a hospital bed with the blood-covered baby -- stillborn after a chemical injection killed it -- were posted online and went viral, prompting a public outpouring of sympathy and outrage.

A Southern Baptist College to Open in VT in 2013; Will Open in Bennington with about 100 Students

A Southern Baptist college will soon be opening its doors in New England -- a region known for having some of the least religious communities in the United States -- the Christian Post website reports today (June 16, 2012).

Northeastern Baptist College (NEBC) -- located in a former Ramada Inn hotel building in Bennington, Vermont -- intends to begin training church planters in August 2013, with around 100 students for its first semester.

Mark Ballard -- president of NEBC -- said, "United States is an increasingly secular society, and this is certainly true of the Northeast. As part of the New England community our concern is for individual people."

Ballard explained that his college will not be a Southern Baptist college in the formal sense,  but rather a Baptist college that has a business relationship with the SBC.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Swastikas Painted on Brooklyn Synagogue,Stores; Police Make No Arrests, View Surveillance Video

The New York Post website reports today (June 15, 2012) that police are seeking the vandals who painted a half-dozen swastikas found this morning in a Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn.

The swastikas were found at a synagogue, a Jewish bath house, and several businesses around 16th Avenue in Borough Park.

Cops are investigating the vandalism as a hate crime, and are reviewing surveillance video from the area. No arrests have been made.

Surveillance video from Fischman's Food Center at 4421 16th Avenue -- one of the vandalized businesses -- shows two men in hoodies walking up to the store at about 2:45 a.m. One of the men spray-painted the store's front roll-down gate, and then drew a swastika on the front plastic window panel.

Catholic Church Agrees to Gay Clubs in Schools; Ontario Law Requires Gay-Straight Alliance Clubs

The Spero Forum website reports today (June 15, 2012) that Canadian Catholic schools in the province of Ontario will abide by a new law requiring them to allow "Gay-Straight Alliance" clubs, despite concerns about the loss of religious freedom.

"The Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario has expressed serious concerns regarding certain aspects of this legislation, as have numerous other individual citizens and groups," said Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto, after the Ontario legislature passed the measure.

"Recognizing that the 'Accepting Schools Act' is now the law, Catholic partners will seek, as we have always done, in a way that is in accord with our faith, to foster safe and welcoming school communities," Cardinal Collins said.

The cardinal reaffirmed that bullying "in any form, is unacceptable." He also stressed the Church's commitment "to welcome every person with love and respect."

New Poll Confirms Czechs as Very Liberal Group; Most Favor Abortion, Euthanasia, Death Penalty

The Prague Daily Monitor website reports today (June 15, 2012) that a majority of Czechs agree with abortion, euthanasia, and the death penalty, according to a new poll released yesterday.

Three in four people (72 percent) share the view that a woman alone has the right to decide on a possible abortion.

While 2 percent would make any abortion illegal, six percent would enable abortion if the mother's life were endangered, and 17 percent would allow it only with respect to the health and social conditions of the mother and child.

Two-thirds of the citizens believe that Czech legislation should make euthanasia possible and the same portion say they would like to reintroduce the death penalty. Twenty-seven percent are against legal euthanasia and the death penalty.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Poll Finds India as Worst Nation to Be a Woman; Sold as Chattels, Married at 10, Abused as Slaves

The Eurasia Review website reports today (June 14, 2012) that India is the worst nation to be a woman among the world's biggest economies, according to a global poll of experts released yesterday by Trust Law, a Thomson Reuters Foundation service.

According to the same poll, Canada is the best place to be a woman.

Infanticide, child marriage, and slavery make India the worst, the poll concluded.

"In India, women and girls continue to be sold as chattels, married off as young as 10, burned alive as a result of dowry-related disputes, and young girls exploited and abused as domestic slave labor," one of those polled was quoted as saying.

First-Edition Book of Mormon Stolen in AZ Found; Taken to Washington, DC, FBI Arrests Jay Linford

The Deseret News (Mormon) website reports today (June 14, 2012) that the rare first-edition copy of the Book of Mormon -- recently stolen from the Rare and Out of Print Books and Art in Mesa, Arizona -- has been found.

FBI and US Marshals recovered the book inside an apartment in Washington, DC, and arrested Jay Linford in connection with the crime, according to the Mesa police.

Eighty-eight-year-old Helen Schlie -- who reported the book stolen from her store on May 28 -- said she was happy it would be coming back and that the book's theft had captured a lot of people's interest.

Schlie said Linford was a friend of hers for the past six years. "I feel such a compassion for him. He's been such a help to me the past six years," she added.

Pastors Urged to Sign, Uphold New Code of Ethics; Code Developed by National Assoc.of Evangelicals

The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) has developed and released a "Code of Ethics for Pastors" document, and is asking church leaders across denominational lines to sign and uphold its outlined principles in their lives as ministers, the Christian Post website reports today (June 14, 2012).

"This is to remind people who they are in ministry and how important their personal integrity, their personal conduct and lifestyle really are for what they are trying to accomplish," Dr. Joel Hunter, senior pastor of Northland, A Church Distributed in Longwood, Florida told The Christian Post.

Hunter -- who is a board member of the NAE and one of several pastors who have already signed the code of ethics -- said that the document is an important way to reemphasize that those in ministerial leadership need to live above reproach.

The document does not describe specific rules or infractions, but does include five primary admonitions. It suggests pastors should pursue integrity, be trustworthy, seek purity, embrace accountability, and facilitate fairness. Bible verses are used to support the principles.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

COMMENTARY: Catholic Christian Doctrine Must Transcend Nuns' Priorities

Leaders of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) -- which represents about 80 percent of America's 57,000 nuns -- met with top Vatican doctrinal officials this week, due to the Vatican's concern that the LCWR was not being critical enough against gay marriage, abortion, and women priests.

In fact, the Vatican went so far as to say last month that many LCWR nuns made "serious doctrinal errors" and embraced "a prevalence of certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith."

These are serious accusations by the Vatican against the LCWR and its leaders. Nonetheless, we support the Vatican in its criticism of the LCWR and its leaders.

At the Vatican-LCWR meeting this week, it was agreed that the LCWR "remains under the supreme direction of the Holy See." In other words, the LCWR was given very little if any authority to make any  independent changes in its operation.

When a woman becomes a Catholic nun, she relinquishes some of the rights she previously may have enjoyed in her secular life. She should also become an unyielding supporter of the doctrine of the Catholic Church -- even if she personally does not agree with it -- and she must unequivocally abide by the rulings of the Catholic clerical hierarchy.

Traditionally, the Roman Catholic Church has never allowed a union -- or a professional association such as the LCWR, for that matter -- to use its clout in an effort to implement church policies sought by nuns or any other group. Needless to say, it will not do so today either.

The LCWR should know better than to support ecclesiastical policies -- such as abortion, gay marriage, and women priests -- that are in direct contrast of Catholic Christian doctrine. Indeed, it must not be the role of the LCWR to try to instill its own preferential ideas into Catholicism; rather, it must follow and abide by the centuries-long traditions of the Catholic Church.

Moreover, the LCWR must recognize the fact that the primary role of nuns is to promote the teachings of Christ and to enhance Christianity around the world.

It is essential, then, that nuns keep in mind that their own ideas, needs, and priorities must always be transcended by the teachings of Christ and by traditional Catholic Christian doctrine.

Town Votes to Fine People for Public Profanity; Middleborough, Mass. By-Law Orders a $20 Fine

The Christian Post website reports today (June 13, 2012) that a Massachusetts town has decided to make it easier for police to enforce a no-swearing by-law, in an attempt to cut down on cussing in public.

According to Chief of Police Bruce Gates, the people of Middleborough, Massachusetts voted by a five-to-one margin in favor of the change at a town meeting on June 11. A by-law against public profanity has been on the books in the town since October 1968, but because it is considered a criminal offense, it has been difficult for police to enforce.

"It was too cumbersome to enforce, too time-consuming on the officer's part to enforce a $20 fine," Gates told The Christian Post.

The town's new decision means using swear words in public will become a civil offense, and will no longer require perpetrators to go to court over such a crime.

US Nuns Meet with Doctrinal Officials at Vatican; Told They Come Under the Direction of Holy See

Leaders of an umbrella group -- which represents the majority of U.S. nuns -- met with top Vatican doctrinal officials yesterday (June 12, 2012) in an atmosphere of  "openness and cordiality," the Religion News Service website reports today (June 13).

At the meeting, the Vatican made it perfectly clear that the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) -- which represents most of America's 57,000 nuns -- "remains under the supreme direction of the Holy See," and offered little leeway in its crackdown on the nuns' leaders. 

The meeting was called after the Vatican's doctrinal watchdog office -- the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith -- issued a "doctrinal assessment" this spring that criticized the LCWR for not speaking out strongly enough against gay marriage, women priests, and abortion.

The Vatican also chided the women for "serious doctrinal problems" among many LCWR members, and said LCWR conferences suffered from "a prevalence of certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith."

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Indiana Is 1st State to Let Citizens Shoot Cops; Allows Shooting to Stop Illegal Entry in a Home

The Washington Times website reports today (June 12, 2012) that Indiana has become the first state in the nation to legally permit residents to shoot at police, if they feel their property is being illegally breached by an officer.

Proponents of the law -- including its author, state Sen. Michael Young and the National Rifle Association -- say it was necessary following a state Supreme Court ruling last year which said, "There is no right to reasonably resist unlawful entry by police officers," Young said.

The measure amends the 2006 so-called Castle Doctrine bill that allows deadly force to stop illegal entry into a home or car.

The term "public servant" was added following the court's ruling.

Three Saudi Women Are Denied Entry into France; Refused to Remove Face Veils at Airport in Paris

The Independent Online website reports today (June 12, 2012) that three Saudi women -- who refused to remove their face veils at Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport -- have been barred entry into France.

A 2011 French law bans people from wearing Islamic face-covering veils anywhere in public.

An official with the French police union said today that border police asked the women to remove their veils after they arrived on June 11 on a flight from Doha, Qatar.

The official says the women refused, border police refused them entry in France, and they returned to Doha last night.

Miss Penn.Lives by Faith, Gives Up Beauty Crown; Objects to Tansgendered Man Being in Contest

The One News Now website reports today (June 12, 2012) that Sheena Monnin, Miss Pennsylvania, is giving up her beauty queen crown, because of her objection to men who have undergone gender-reassignment surgery being allowed to compete in the Miss Universe competition.

Monnin based her objections on her faith, stating that to allow and support natural-born males to compete in the pageant "goes against every moral fiber of my being."

In April, the pageant changed its rules to allow a 23-year-old transgendered male -- now known as Jenna Talackova -- to compete in the Miss Universe Canada pageant.

Matt Barber of Liberty Counsel Action believes Monnin should be commended for objecting to a man competing in the pageant. Barber said Monnin gave up a great deal in surrendering her crown, and he suggests that Christians ought to think of not watching the extravaganza.

Monday, June 11, 2012

"God Bless the USA" Song Pulled from Ceremony; Principal Calls It "Age-Inappropriate, Offensive"

The Daily Caller website reports today (June 11, 2012) that a Coney Island principal has pulled Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA" song from a kindergarten "moving up" ceremony, claiming that Greenwood's patriotic song was "age-inappropriate and potentially offensive."

"We don't want to offend other cultures," Greta Hawkins, the principal of the Edna Cohen School, said to defend her decision to nix "God Bless the USA" from the ceremony.

Many parents -- including many immigrants -- are frustrated by Hawkins' decision.

Hawkins -- a Jehovah's Witness -- does not participate in the Pledge of Allegiance for religious reasons. According to insiders, she has attempted to get that ritual scrapped at the school as well. Based on numerous  complaints it has received regarding her authoritarianism, the United Federation of Teachers has labeled Hawkins a "bully."

Court Refuses to Delete "Under God" from Pledge; Atheist Family in Mass. to Appeal Court Decision

The Blaze website reports today (June 11, 2012) that the Middlesex Superior Court in Massachusetts has ruled against an atheist family that has been engaged in a battle to have the words "under God" removed from the Pledge of Allegiance.

The family -- with the assistance of the American Humanist Association (AHA) -- decided to sue the Acton-Boxborough school system, claiming that the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance with the words "under God" discriminates against their children.

The parents -- who wish to remain anonymous -- are identified only as John and Jane Doe. They have three children in the district -- one in high school and two others in middle school.

David Niosie -- the family's lawyer and the president of the AHA -- had asked the Middlesex Superior Court that the words "under God" be taken out of the expression of loyalty to America. Now, the atheist and humanist communities have united against the court's decision, and plan to continue to fight the matter in a higher court.

Israel Begins Massing Africans for Deportation; Says Their Presence Destroys Character of Israel

The Reuters website reports today (June 11, 2012) that Israel has started rounding up African migrants in the first stage of a controversial "emergency plan" to intern and deport scores of thousands deemed a threat to the Jewish character of the state.

Israel Radio reported that dozens of Africans -- mainly from South Sudan -- had already been detained in the Red Sea resort of Eilat, including mothers and children.

"This is only a small group of the infiltrators," Interior Minister Eli Yishai said.

The goal is to repatriate all of the estimated 60,000 African migrants, whose growing numbers are seen by many Israelis as a threat to the long-term viability of the Jewish state of Israel.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Teens in Ukraine Are Charged with Hooliganism; Severely Damage Memorial to Holocaust Victims

The Religious Information Service of Ukraine website reports today (June 10, 2012) that three young men have been arrested in the northwestern Ukrainian city of Rivne for vandalizing a memorial to Holocaust victims there.

The memorial to 17,500 Jewish citizens of Rivne -- who were murdered during the Nazi occupation in the 1940s -- was severely damaged on June 5 by vandals who destroyed the tiles on the complex.

The arrested teenagers -- who are between 17 and 19 years old -- have been charged with hooliganism.

They face up to four years in jail if found guilty.

Denmark Allows Gay Church Wedding Ceremonies; Calls Them Equality of Couples of Diff. Genders

The Christian Today website reports today (June 10, 2012) that Denmark -- the first country to allow gay couples to enter into civil unions in 1989 -- will now be allowing homosexuals to have full wedding ceremonies at church.

The bill in Denmark -- after being presented by the center-left government earlier this year -- passed on June 7 with an 85-24 vote.

The law goes into effect on June 15.

Manu Sareen -- Danish Minister for Ecclesiastical Affairs -- said, "This is equality between couples of different genders... a major step forward."

COMMENTARY: Same-Sex Ceremonies Must Not Occur on Military Posts in States That Don't Recognize Them

A lesbian religious ceremony last month between an enlisted woman and a civilian woman at Fort Polk in Louisiana has angered several lawmakers, as well as many other people.

The same-sex religious ceremony was performed by an Army chaplain in the post chapel.

U.S. Rep. John Fleming of Louisiana was especially upset that the ceremony occurred in his state. He said, "A same-sex marriage-like ceremony should not have occurred at Fort Polk, especially since the people of Louisiana have made it abundantly clear that our state does not recognize same-sex marriages or civil unions."

We agree with Rep. Fleming that a same-sex marriage-like ceremony should not have occurred at Fort Polk, since Louisiana does not recognize this kind of a ceremony.

In fact, we believe that same-sex ceremonies should not be allowed to be held on any military base that is located within a state that prohibits such ceremonies.

On the other hand, if a state has already legalized the performance of same-sex marriage ceremonies -- such as New York -- then these ceremonies should be allowed to be held at military installations within that state.

Indeed, this policy results in a win-win situation with regard to same-sex ceremonies at U.S. military bases.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Hasidic Jew Fired from NYPD Over Beard Length; Fishel Litzman Says God Forbids Him to Cut It

An Orthodox Jew -- who was just weeks away from becoming a New York City police officer -- said he has been kicked out of the police academy for refusing to trim his beard, the Associated Press website reports today (June 9, 2012).

Former recruit Fishel Litzman of Monsey, New York was fired yesterday, after multiple confrontations with the department over the length of his whiskers.

Litzman is Hasidic and believes that cutting his beard is forbidden by God.

New York Police Department (NYPD) rules usually require officers to be clean-shaven. The NYPD does make exceptions for beards kept for religious purposes, but even then only allows one millimeter worth of growth.

Suicides Surge Among American Troops in 2012; 154 Suicides of Troops in 1st 155 Days This Year

The Washington Times website reports today (June 9, 2012) that suicides are surging among America's troops, averaging nearly one a day this year  -- the fastest pace in the nation's decade of war.

The 154 suicides for active-duty troops in the first 155 days of the year far outdistance the U.S. forces killed in action in Afghanistan -- about 50 percent more -- according to Pentagon statistics.

The numbers reflect a military burdened with wartime demands from Iraq and Afghanistan that have taken a greater toll than foreseen a decade ago.

Studies for the increase in suicides have pointed to combat exposure, post-traumatic stress, misuse of prescription medications, and personal financial problems.

Woman in China Being Forced to Have Abortion; Has a Child, Violated China's One-Child Law

The Spero Forum website reports today (June 9, 2012) that Cao Ruyi -- a 37-year-old Chinese woman in her fifth month of pregnancy -- was dragged from her home and beaten on June 6th by more than a dozen Chinese family planning officials.

Cao was accused of violating China's "one child" policy because she and her husband, Li Fu, already have a six-year-old daughter.

According to Li, his wife is being detained at the Maternal and Child Health Hospital in Changsha, the capital of Hunan province. Family planning officials are threatening to forcibly abort Cao's unborn child within hours if she does not voluntarily consent to an abortion. Both the husband and wife want to keep their baby and are refusing to cooperate.

Bob Fu, of China Aid, spent one hour talking with the family planning office chief of the pregnant woman and was trying to persuade her to have mercy. She was very stubborn and told Fu unless the couple pay about $23,500 in fines for violating China's law for conceiving a "social burden" fee, she and her colleagues will "try their best for as long as possible to let her abort the baby voluntarily."

Friday, June 8, 2012

Greece Has Tax Evasion of 45B Euros Each Year; Tax Chief: Ec. Problems Solved If Taxes Are Paid

International Monetary Fund Chief Christine Lagarde was right to urge Greeks to pay their taxes -- since that could help solve Greece's current difficulties -- the country's top tax investigator stated today (June 8, 2012), according to the Greek Reporter website.

Lagarde's statements raised great dispute among the already dissatisfied Greeks, who are tired of listening to Europe and the IMF saying they must try harder and harder and pay even more taxes.

"I agree wholeheartedly with Ms. Lagarde," the head of the Greek tax authority SDOE, Nikos Lekkas, said.

"Tax evasion in Greece amounts to 12 to 15 percent of the gross domestic product. That's 40-45 billion euros each year. If we could raise even just half of that, Greece's problems would be solved," Lekkas said.

Parents Face Court After Kids Vandalize Church; Two Girls Spent 7 Hours Ruining Inside of Church

The parents of two girls -- who smashed up the inside of a church in a spree of violence because they were bored -- are to face criminal charges in behalf of their children, the Austrian Times website reports today (June 8, 2012).

The two girls -- aged 10 and 11 -- had gone on the rampage in the church, smashing up candles and vases, ripping up the flowers which were scattered over the church, and throwing holy water onto the floor. They also ripped things off the wall and then fled -- but were later called by local police.

The pair had been inside the Koglhof Church in Weiz, Austria from nine o'clock in the morning until four in the afternoon, carrying out their vandalism.

The two girls admitted what they had done.

Lesbian Ceremony at Fort Polk, La. Draws Furor; Louisiana Does Not Recognize Gay Ceremonies

The Cable News Network website reports today (June 8, 2012) that a lesbian ceremony between an enlisted woman and a civilian woman on a U.S. Army post last month drew protests from angry lawmakers yesterday.

"The private religious ceremony" took place at Fort Polk in Louisiana in May, post spokesman Scott Stearns said, but he would not confirm any other details.

U.S. Rep. John Fleming -- a Louisiana Republican whose congressional district includes the Army post -- said the military confirmed to him that the same-sex ceremony was performed by an Army chaplain in the post chapel.

Upset that the ceremony occurred in Louisiana, Fleming said, "A same-sex marriage-like ceremony should not have occurred at Fort Polk, especially since the people of Louisiana have made it abundantly clear that our state does not recognize same-sex marriages or civil unions." He also called for the passage of legislation that would prevent such ceremonies from occurring on military facilities in the future.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Pelosi Won't Answer Question on Her RC Beliefs; "I Do My Rel. in Church, Not at This Press Conf."

The Washington Times website reports that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California -- a Roman Catholic (RC) -- refused today (June 7, 2012) to say whether she supported her church's teaching that contraception is immoral.

"I do my religion on Sundays, in church, and I try to go other days of the week; I don't do it at this press conference," an angry Pelosi responded curtly, after a reporter asked about her view of the Catholic Church's position on contraception.

Last February, Pelosi accused America's bishops of falsely using religious liberty arguments to impose their ideology on the country.

In February 2009, Pelosi visited Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican. During their meeting, Pope Benedict urged Pelosi to end her support of abortion -- something she has failed to do to the present day.

Bishop Seeking Reform of Cath. Church Resigns; Austl. Bishop Power Called for Women Priests

The Catholic Culture website reports that the Holy See Press Office announced today (June 7, 2012) that Auxiliary Bishop Patrick Power of Canberra and Goulburn in Australia has resigned from his position, which he held since 1986.

The resignation of Bishop Power comes five years before the normal retirement age of 75 and one year after he threatened to resign over his dissatisfaction with the state of the Roman Catholic Church.

In 2010, Bishop Power called for "total systematic reform" of the Church, including a reconsideration of "the authoritarian nature of the Church, compulsory celibacy for the clergy, the participation of women in the Church, and the teaching on sexuality in all aspects."

He has also called for an open discussion of women's ordination.

Jews In France Express Alarm in Anti-Semitism; See a "Shocking Surge" of Anti-Semitic Violence

The France 24 website reports today (June 7, 2012) that France's Jewish communities have expressed alarm over a rise in anti-Semitic incidents since last March's deadly shootings of a rabbi and three schoolchildren in Toulouse.

On June 2, three people -- who were wearing the Jewish skullcap -- were attacked by a group of assailants with a hammer and iron bar in the southeastern French city of Villeurbanne.

The new assault has revived fears in France's Jewish community that anti-Semitism is on the rise in the wake of the grisly shooting in Toulouse. That attack -- carried out by radical Islamist Mohammed Merah -- sent shockwaves through France, which is home to Western Europe's largest Jewish community, with some 500,000 people.

After the June 2nd incident, the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions -- France's most prominent Jewish association -- released a statement noting that the attack was "far from being an isolated act" and "part of the shocking surge of anti-Semitic violence that has followed the deadly attack at the Ozar Hatorah school in Toulouse."

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

COMMENTARY: Mother Arrested for Cheering at Graduation Should Sue Myrtle Beach School Department

A mother in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina was arrested last week, because she cheered too loudly, as her daughter walked across the stage to receive her high school diploma.

Shannon Cooper was handcuffed at the South Florence High School graduation ceremony and charged with disorderly conduct. She was taken to a jail cell, where she remained until she posted a $225-bond.

School officials had announced before the ceremony that anyone cheering or screaming for those graduating would be escorted from the building.

Despite its announcement, we believe that the Myrtle Beach School Department overstepped its bounds by having the Myrtle Beach Police Department arrest, handcuff, and jail Cooper. At the very most, the police should have escorted her outside the building -- as announced before the ceremony -- for her loud cheering.

To have handcuffed Cooper and taken her to jail was much too severe a punishment -- in fact, an unreasonable punishment --  for her loud cheering.

Indeed, this "solution to the problem" reminds us of the type of  "solution" that would be used in a totalitarian country, such as Communist China and the former Soviet Union, but not in a free nation like the United States.

The arrest is also an insult to the framers of the U.S. Constitution, who worked so hard to ensure that Americans would maintain their freedom of expression. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and other early American heroes must be turning in their graves today, as a result of this incredible Myrtle Beach scenario.

If she were wise, Cooper would contact the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) -- or other freedom-oriented organization -- to file a lawsuit against the Myrtle Beach School Department.

To be sure, Cooper should seek several million dollars in damages from the Myrtle Beach School Department for having her arrested, handcuffed, and jailed -- thus greatly humiliating and belittling her -- simply because she was cheering too loud for her daughter, while she received her high school diploma.

Veiled Women Informers Get Bounty in Belgium; Get $310 for Reporting a Veiled Woman to Police

Belgian right-wingers have offered to pay a 250 euros ($310) bounty to anyone who reports a veiled woman to police, in the wake of face veil riots in Brussels, the Europe News website reports today (June 6, 2012).

Filip Dewinter -- a senior figure within Vlaams Belang, a right-wing party -- said the riots had made police apprehensive about enforcing the burqa ban and that the payment should put pressure on authorities to further enforce it.

"It's a textile prison for the women who have to live under it," he said.

It comes after protesters hurled bins and metal barriers at a Brussels police station last week, after a Muslim woman was arrested for refusing to remove her face veil, or niqab.

Photographer Appeals Same-Sex Wedding Ruling; Wouldn't Photograph Lesbian Couple at Ceremony

The Religion News Service website reports today (June 6, 2012) that attorneys for a Christian wedding photographer will appeal a New Mexico court decision that ruled she violated anti-discrimination laws by refusing to photograph a lesbian commitment ceremony.

The case has become a cause celebre among some conservative Christians, who argue that this and other cases represent a threat to believers' rights to disagree with homosexuality.

"Americans in the marketplace should not be subjected to legal attacks for simply abiding by their beliefs," said Jordan Lorence, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, which is representing the photographer.

The controversy began in 2006 when Elaine Huguenin -- co-owner of Elaine Photography -- refused to photograph a "commitment ceremony" for Vanessa Willock and her partner. Huguenin claims her refusal was rooted in her Christian faith that views marriage as a sacred union between one man and one woman.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Mom Arrested for Cheering Daughter at H.S.Grad.; Handcuffed at Grad., Taken to Detention Center

The Drudge Report website reports today (June 5, 2012) that a mother in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina was arrested moments after she cheered for her daughter as she walked across the stage to accept her diploma.

Shannon Cooper was handcuffed at the South Florence High School graduation ceremony and charged with disorderly conduct.

School officials had announced before the ceremony that anyone cheering or screaming for those graduating would be escorted from the building.

Police placed Cooper in a detention center before they released her on $225 bond.

NOW Upset Paycheck Fairness Act Is Shot Down; Senate Inaction Denies Women Equal Pay as Men

The NOW (National Organization for Women) website today (June 5, 2012) expressed its deep disappointment that the U.S. Senate this afternoon prevented the Paycheck Fairness Act from being brought up for a debate and receiving a vote.

Terry O'Neill -- the current president of NOW -- said that by blocking this common-sense law, right-wing legislators have expanded "the war on women."

She also said that it is unacceptable that women are still paid -- on the average -- 77 cents for every dollar paid to men.

O'Neill emphasized that the politicians who voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act -- including the Senate's five Republican women senators -- will pay a price at the polls, as NOW activists around the country are already organizing to see that they are defeated in their bid for re-election.

Southern Baptists Become Divided Over Calvinism; Many Now Deny Salvation Is Due to Predestination

Hundreds of Southern Baptists have signed a statement that rejects Calvinist views on the doctrine of salvation and outlines the "traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God's Plan of Salvation," the Christian Post website reports today (June 5, 2012).

The statement -- which denies the Calvinist theory that God predestined certain people for salvation and others for condemnation, among other beliefs -- has stirred a wide and divisive debate within the Southern Baptist Convention.

"Why are we headed down the broken road of schism over Calvinism today?" asked Josh Buice, pastor of Pray's Mill Baptist Church in Douglasville, Georgia. He emphasized that previous Southern Baptists "didn't fight over Calvinism, throw mud, and pull out the heresy sword to use on one another."

John Calvin -- who was born in France as a Catholic in 1509 -- became a Protestant at about the age of 25  and moved to Switzerland, where he became an influential theologian and pastor, and developed the system of Christian theology now called Calvinism. Calvin -- honored recently by many theologians around the world on the occasion of his 500th birthday -- is best known for promoting his belief in predestination; that is, the doctrine that God has foreordained all things, including the salvation of individual souls.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Vatican Butler Is a Scapegoat, Says Real Leaker; Italian Press Receives Leaks After Butler's Arrest

The Newser website reports today (June 4, 2012) that the Vatican may have arrested the pope's butler -- accusing him of being the source of ongoing leaks of confidential and personal documents to the Italian press -- but he is actually a scapegoat, according to the latest leak of confidential documents.

The Italian newspaper Il Repubblica wrote yesterday that it received a letter and three other documents -- after the butler's arrest -- which reveal the intrigue going on in the Vatican,  and Pope Benedict's lack of control over the chaos.

A letter that appears to be from the real  leaker said butler Paolo Gabriele was the "usual scapegoat," and that the true purpose of the leaks was to "drive out the real culprits from the Vatican," meaning the pope's personal aide, Georg Gaenswein, and Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the secretary of state.

The letter also said it has 300 more documents on the way.

Danish Court Sends 4 Men to Prison for 12 Years; Guilty of Planning Terrorist Attack on Newspaper

The Big News Network website reports that a Copenhagen, Denmark court today (June 4, 2012) sentenced four men to 12 years imprisonment after finding them guilty of planning a terrorist attack on newspaper offices, following a violent stir over published cartoons of Prophet Mohammed, the highest revered Muslim figure.

Prosecutors alleged that the men wanted to kill people in revenge for Jyllands-Posten's publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed in 2005 that sparked protests in Muslim countries.

The men -- a Tunisian and three Swedish citizens of Arab origin -- were caught on police cameras while they were discussing whether to behead or shoot their victims.

A machine-gun with a silencer, a pistol, and 108 bullets, and rolls of duct tape were among items found in the men's possession when they were arrested.

Crystal Cathedral Man Sues Cath.Church for $30B; Says Sale of Cathedral Violated His Rel. Rights

The Christian Post website reports today (June 4, 2012) that a congregant of the Crystal Cathedral has filed a claim in bankruptcy court -- seeking $5.6 million from the California megachurch founder Robert Schuller and $30 billion from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange -- alleging the sale of the church campus violated his religious and civil rights.

David Phillippe -- a longtime member whose wife is buried at the church's cemetery -- is also seeking $50,000 for two cemetery sites.

Phillippe alleged the board of directors "acted at Schuller's bidding" and mismanaged the ministry's money causing the bankruptcy.

The resultant sale of the Garden Grove campus to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange has "permanently desecrated" the campus, he argued.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

COMMENTARY: Judge Denies Pastor's Freedom of Speech by Sentencing Him to Prison

A pastor in Black Earth, Wisconsin was sentenced last week to two years in prison for preaching that parents should spank their children -- even those as young as two months old -- with wooden spoons and rods when they misbehave.

Philip Caminiti, 55, pastor of Aleitheia Bible Church, was sentenced to prison by Judge Maryann Sumi, who emphasized that "child abuse" will not be tolerated.

Caminiti has appealed the judge's sentence, claiming that his First Amendment constitutional rights have been violated as a result of his sentence.

Although we do not agree with the pastor's beliefs with respect to spanking children, we do believe that his constitutional rights have been violated by the judge's ruling.

After all, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution "prohibits the making of any law abridging the freedom of speech..."

Consequently, it would behoove the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) -- and other freedom-supporting organizations -- to challenge the judge's finding in this case, and use their clout to help overturn it.

The fact is that the judge's sentencing of the pastor to prison in this case could have significant ramifications on the freedom of speech of all Americans.

Americans have been enjoying  freedom of speech since the United States became an independent nation more than 200 years ago. Indeed, it is a right to which all Americans are entitled -- and a right that must never be taken away from them.

Ark. Christian School Rejects 4-Year-Old Mormon; Mormon Faith Doesn't Align with School's Beliefs

The Christian Broadcast Network website reports today (June 3, 2012) that an Arkansas family is upset that their son was denied admission to Little Rock Christian Academy because they are Mormons.

The private school is allowed to deny admission on the basis of religion because it does not accept federal funding.

The family of four-year-old Samuel Duncan expressed surprise at the decision.

Gary Arnold -- the school director -- said the Mormon faith doesn't align with the school's beliefs.

Wisc. Pastor Gets Two Years for Spanking Sermon; Told Parents to Spank Children as Young as 2 Mos.

The New American website reports today (June 3, 2012) that Black Earth, Wisconsin pastor Philip Caminiti, 55, has been sentenced to two years in prison for preaching that parents should spank their children when they misbehave -- even those as young as two months -- with wooden spoons and rods.

Caminiti -- pastor of Aleithela Bible Church -- simply preached a message that some found disagreeable.

Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi was astounded and offended by the message that parents should be spanking their children.

She admitted that she was making an example of Caminiti, emphasizing that "child abuse" will not be tolerated.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Rare Book of Mormon Copy Stolen from AZ Store; 1830 Leather-Bound Volume Valued at $100,000

Police searched yesterday (June 1, 2012) for clues to the theft of a rare, first-edition copy of "The Book of Mormon" -- valued at $100,000 -- that was reported stolen from a suburban Phoenix, Arizona bookstore over the Memorial Day weekend, the Reuters website reports today.

The authorities said they were in the early stages of an investigation into the disappearance of the 1830 leather-bound volume, which its owner said has become a must-see artifact for young Mormons worldwide before embarking on church missions.

"At this time, we have no specific information of the whereabouts of the book," said Detective Steve Berry, a Mesa, Arizona police spokesman.

"The Book of Mormon" is a foundational, holy text of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The 588-page book -- which has been missing since May 28 -- is one of only 5,000 copies ever printed , said its owner, bookstore owner and proprietor Helen Schlie.

Morehouse Med. School Sets Up Unique Program; Starts First Chair on Sexuality and Religion in US

The Huffington Post website reports today (June 2, 2012) that the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia is establishing the first endowed chair on sexuality and religion at a U.S. medical school.

The medical school announced it raised $2 million for the endowed chair, and it will begin a one-year national search to hire someone to fill it.

The chairperson will develop ways to train physicians and theologians on a wide range of sexual health issues that include contraception, rape prevention, unintended pregnancy, and sexually transmitted diseases.

The chair will report to Dr. David Satcher, a former U.S. Surgeon General who issued a controversial report on sexual health in 2001. Satcher is now a Morehouse administrator.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Brooklyn Teacher Posts $10,000 Bail to Leave Jail; Erin Sayar, 36, Charged with Raping Student, 16

The New York Post website reports today (June 1, 2012) that a married high school teacher -- accused of having sex with a 16-year-old student -- was released from jail this morning, after she posted a $10,000 bail.

Erin Sayar, 36, has been charged with eight counts of rape and criminal sexual acts, along with multiple counts of sex abuse, child endangerment, and marijuana possession.

During a short hearing, Judge Kevin McGrath set Sayar's bail and issued an order of protection for her under-aged paramour, Kevin Eng.

Prosecutors say Sayar -- who taught English at Brooklyn's James Madison High School -- plied Eng with pot and had intercourse and oral sex with him eight times between December 7, 2011 and early January 2012, while she was supposed to be tutoring him.

Canada's Cath. Bishops Seek Respect for Religion; Say Govt. Tends to Be Indifferent on Rel. Matters

The National Catholic Register website reports today (June 1, 2012) that Canada's Catholic bishops have called on the country to recover its respect for freedom of religion and conscience -- greatly battered in recent years by government policies and judicial rulings that treat religion as a private matter people should keep to themselves.

In a May 14 pastoral letter, Canada's bishops affirmed freedom of religion and conscience is a fundamental human right and a cornerstone of democracy.

The pastoral letter makes reference to recent regulatory decisions that force marriage commissioners to marry homosexuals, doctors to make referrals to abortions, and pharmacists to sell abortifacients -- or quit.

Archbishop Richard Smith of Edmonton, Alberta said the letter was not prompted by religious persecution as much as it was by a general attitude dismissing religion in the sphere of public affairs.