Friday, August 31, 2012

Ethnic Russian Woman Named as Suicide Bomber; Killed 8, Including 11-Year-Old Boy, Muslim Cleric

An ethnic Russian woman -- who was both wife and widow of Islamist militants -- has been named as the suicide bomber who killed a moderate Muslim cleric in Dagestan in the North Caucasus on August 28, just as Russian President Vladimir Putin was pleading for national unity, the Europe News website reports today (August 31, 2012).

Police said Aminat Kurbanova -- a resident of Makhachkala -- had posed as a pilgrim to the home of Said Atsayev, 74, in Chirkei and detonated an explosive belt packed with nails and ball bearings, killing Atsayev, herself, and six others, including an 11-year-old boy visiting with his parents.

A security official said the woman -- aged 29 or 30 -- was born with the ethnic Russian surname Saprykina, but converted to Islam and was married to an Islamist militant. Two previous husbands -- also militants -- had been killed, the official added.

The bombing came as Putin made a rousing call for religious and ethnic concord to counter extremism.

Netanyahu Tells US Amb.: "Time Has Run Out!;" Israeli PM Wild on Obama Denying Attack on Iran

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu -- who is furious that U.S. President Barack Obama continues to delay in agreeing to an Israeli airstrike on a nuclear-threatening Iran -- shouted "Time has run out!" at U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro, as the two met in Israel this week and discussed the Obama administration's position on Iran, the Breitbart website reports today (August 31, 2012).

The Israeli prime minister could not hold back his frustration with President Obama any longer in his meeting with Shapiro.

"Instead of pressuring Iran in an effective way, Obama and his people are pressuring us not to attack the nuclear facilities," Netanyahu said. Those attending the meeting say that Netanyahu then said assertively: "Time has run out!" A no-holds-barred shouting match then broke out, as the Israeli prime minister let loose on the U.S. ambassador.

Shapiro served on the Obama campaign in 2008, and in that capacity helped shore up Obama's attempts to portray himself as pro-Israel. Many political analysts believe that Obama does not want Israel to attack Iran until after the November U.S. presidential election, because he fears that such an attack will lessen his chances of being re-elected president.

MA Billboard Shows Girl Giving Obama the Finger; Poster Rips Obama's Ec. Policy, Calls Him a "Jerk"

A billboard erected by a private business in the rural Massachusetts town of Hanson is drawing fire for showing a little girl giving President Obama the middle finger, and criticizing his economic policy, the Raw Story website reports today (August 31, 2012).

"Thanks Obama," the billboard says. "You spent my lunch money, my allowance, my inheritance, 35 years of future paychecks, and my retirement. You jerk."

Some residents are complaining that the sign is offensive, and they worry about the message being sent to their children. Town officials say the sign -- which Robert Sullivan put up in front of the motorcycle accessories store he owns -- has to be taken down, because Sullivan did not get the proper permit needed to put it up.

But Sullivan said through his lawyer that his billboard is protected by the First Amendment, and that he will not take it down. His lawyer -- in a letter to the town -- said the sign was political speech, and therefore must be allowed to stand.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Pres. Assad Calls Civil War in Syria a "Cleansing;" Says Good Person Does Not Rebel Against Nation

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad called that country's civil war -- which has resulted in the killing of several thousand people -- a "cleansing" during a rare TV appearance today (August 30, 2012), the Global Post website reports.

Speaking on Addounia -- a pro-government TV station in Syria -- Assad called the 17-month conflict "a war of terror and battle of wills."

"The nationalistic and good person does not rebel or go against his nation," Assad said.

He added: "Practically, this (the civil war) is a positive action; it is a cleansing of the nation, firstly, and generally."

Austl. Anglican Abp. Alters Marriage Vow Words; Requires Bride Honor and "Submit" to Husband

The Anglican Archbishop in Sydney, Australia is causing much outrage by calling for a change in the wording of marriage vows. Archbishop Peter Jensen believes a wife should "submit" to her husband on their wedding day, the Huffington Post website reports today (August 30, 2012).

In an editorial this week in the "Sydney Morning Herald," Jensen writes that brides will promise to "submit" to their husbands under a new marriage vow that the Anglican diocese of Sydney is expected to approve at its synod in October.

The new vow requires the minister to ask the bride: "Will you honor and submit to your husband, as the church submits to Christ?" and is already being used in some Sydney parishes.

Jensen justifies his new wording by arguing that secular views of marriage -- driven by a destructive individualism and libertarianism -- are inconsistent with the reality of long-term relationships, such as marriage and family life.

Two Women Stabbed to Death in Kazan, Russia; "Free Pussy Riot" Marked in Blood at the Scene

Two women were found stabbed to death in a Russian apartment with the words "Free Pussy Riot" written on the wall in what is believed to be blood, investigators said today (August 30, 2012), stirring more passion over the women jailed for a protest in a Moscow church, according to Reuters website.

A Russian Orthodox Church official said supporters of Pussy Riot now had "blood on their conscience."

A lawyer for the women -- who were sentenced to two years in prison this month for staging a "punk prayer" against Vladimir Putin in Moscow's main cathedral -- said the words scrawled on the wall may have been a "provocation" aimed at discrediting Pussy Riot.

The bodies of a 76-year-old pensioner and her 38-year-old daughter were found yesterday in their apartment in the city of Kazan, the federal Investigative Committee said in a statement. They died from knife wounds.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

COMMENTARY: Committing a Hate Crime in America Necessitates Severe Punishment

In a Jewish hate crime this week, a Michigan State University (MSU) student was beaten up and had his mouth stapled shut while he was at a party with about 20 people.

Zachary Tennen -- a 19-year-old sophomore at MSU -- said he was attacked by two men at the party, after he told them he was Jewish. Sadly, none of those attending the party came to Tennen's aid during the attack.

Tennen underwent surgery in a metro Detroit hospital -- as a result of the beating -- to have his jaw wired shut.

We believe that there is no excuse for such a hateful vicious attack being carried out in America today.

The two men who attacked Tennen -- for the simple reason that he is Jewish -- were entirely out of line. They deserve a severe punishment for their brutality -- including serving time in prison -- after they are arrested by police and tried in a court of law.

The U.S. Constitution provides for religious freedom in America; consequently, law enforcement officials in the United States have an obligation to ensure that no American is ever denied this innate freedom.

San Francisco Abp.-Elect Repents for DUI Arrest; Legal Experts Say It Won't Derail His Promotion

The Roman Catholic archbishop-elect of San Francisco has apologized for his arrest on suspicion of drunken driving -- behavior that he said brought "shame" and "disgrace" on himself and the church -- although legal experts said it was unlikely to derail his promotion, the Huffington Post website reports today (August 29, 2012).

The Rev. Salvatore Cordileone said in a statement that he was driving home from a dinner with friends in San Diego early last Saturday when he was pulled over at a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) checkpoint in San Diego.

The statement said a sobriety test showed his blood-alcohol level to be above the legal limit, but Cordileone did not reveal by how much.

"I apologize for my error in judgment and feel shame for the disgrace I have brought upon the church and myself," he said. "I pray that God, in His inscrutable wisdom, will bring some good out of this."

Turkey Slams US Armenian Genocide Monument; Monument to Be Built in Pasadena Memorial Park

A Turkish deputy consul general visited Pasadena City Hall this month to convey concern about a planned Armenian Genocide Memorial in a city park, the Europe News website reports today (August 29, 2012).

The Pasadena Armenian American Coalition announced last April that the California community is raising funds and working with an architect to erect a monument in Memorial Park in time for the 100th anniversary of the genocide in 2015.

Some 1.5 million Armenians were systematically killed from 1915 through 1923 by Turks in what was then the Ottoman Empire. California is among 43 states that formally recognizes the Armenian Genocide.

A prepared statement by the Consulate General of Turkey in Los Angeles said the proposed monument "deeply offends" the Turkish people and the Turkish American community in Pasadena and the greater Los Angeles area.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Greek Catholic Abp. in Syria Flees to Lebanon; Offices of Abp. Jeanbart in Aleppo Ransacked

The Melkite Greek Catholic Archbishop of the Syrian city of Aleppo has fled to Lebanon, as fighting intensified in the city's Christian areas during the past week. The offices of the archbishop, Jean-Clement Jeanbart, have also been ransacked, the Tablet (Catholic) website reports today (August 28, 2012).

A Christian source told the missionary news agency Fides that the archdiocesan offices were ransacked by "unidentified groups who want to start a religious war and drag the Syrian people into a sectarian conflict."

Archbishop Jeanbart later told Vatican Radio that among forces fighting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad were foreign fighters in the country and "organizations to find jihadists."

He added that there were "fundamentalists coming from Libya, Jordan, Egypt, Afghanistan, Turkey, and many other countries."

French Muslim Throws Wife Off 10th Fl. Balcony; Says Wife Committed Suicide, Judge Won't Buy It

Abdelaziz Sadik -- a French Muslim -- was questioned yesterday in relation to the murder of his spouse, the Europe New website reports today (August 28, 2012).

Appearing at the prosecutor's office in Begles -- located in southwestern France -- Sadik, 46, was questioned in relation to murdering his wife by throwing her off a 10th floor balcony.

He denies the facts, arguing that his wife committed suicide by jumping to her death.

A French judge placed Sadik under a custody order in Gradignan prison.

MSU Student, 19, Attacked in Jewish Hate Crime; Mouth Was Stapled Shut, Beaten Unconscious

A Michigan State University (MSU) student is recovering after he was beaten up and had his mouth stapled shut during what investigators are calling a brutal hate crime, the CBS website reports today (August 28, 2012).

Zachary Tennen -- a 19-year-old sophomore in MSU's journalism program -- said he was at a house party early last Sunday morning when two men approached him and asked if he was Jewish. When he responded "Yes," the two men raised their arms into a Nazi salute and said "Heil Hitler" before knocking him unconscious, according to Tennen's mother, Tina.

About 20 people watched as the men proceeded to staple Zachary Tennen's mouth shut at the lips and gums. His jaw was broken in two places during the attack.

Tina Tennen said her son took a cab to Sparrow Hospital in East Lansing for initial treatment, but underwent surgery in metro Detroit last night to have his jaw wired shut. He is now recovering at his home in Franklin, Michigan.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Vandals Ruin 4 Crosses in Russia with Chainsaws; Believed to Be Work of Pussy Riot Band Followers

The Russian Orthodox Church is warning of an organized anti-religious campaign under way against Christians in Russia, after vandals in two widely separated regions took chainsaws to four large wooden crosses over the weekend, the Christian Science Monitor website reports today (August 27, 2012).

Church spokespeople maintain the damage was done by people who are either in sympathy or in league with the Pussy Riot collective -- three of whose members were sentenced to two years in a penal colony earlier this month for profaning an Orthodox altar with an obscenity-laced "punk prayer" -- that called upon the Virgin Mary to rid Russia of Vladimir Putin.

The four crosses were chopped down by unknown persons who left police no clues to their motives or identity.

One was a large wooden crucifix erected to the memory of Soviet-era political prisoners in the far northern region of Archangelsk. Russian media reported three more wooden crosses were destroyed in Chelyabinsk region over the weekend, which is thousands of miles away in western Siberia.

France Voids Legion d'Honneur Award of Galliano; Designer Stripped of Award Due to Anti-Semitism

British fashion designer John Galliano has become one of the few recipients of the Legion d'Honneur to have his award effectively retracted, after French President Francois Hollande signed a decree stripping him of the country's highest honor, the France 24 website reports today (August 27, 2012).

Galliano was given the award in January 2009 by former president Nicolas Sarkozy for his contributions to haute couture.

Hollande's decision to strip the designer of his Legion d'Honneur stems from Galliano's conviction in a French court last year, for making anti-Semitic comments.

Caught up in the scandal, Galliano watched as he lost his job at Dior and his reputation crumbled. Now, he has also lost the right to wear his Legion d'Honneur medal.

Mil. to Discipline Troops for 2 Anti-Islam Actions; Burned Korans, Urinated on Muslim Corpses

The U.S. military announced it was disciplining U.S. troops involved in two incidents that provoked outrage in Afghanistan early this year -- one over a video depicting Marines urinating on Muslim corpses and the other over burning copies of the Koran -- the Reuters website reports today (August 27, 2012).

The military said the troops would receive administrative discipline, which could include actions such as a reprimand, reduction in rank, or forfeiture of pay.

Neither incident has resulted in criminal charges -- something that may fail to satisfy Afghan demands for justice.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai branded the Marines' actions in the video as "inhuman" and he initially called for a public trial for the soldiers over the Koran incident.

Friday, August 24, 2012

ADA Erases 14 Yrs. of Lance Armstrong's Career; Bans Him of Cycling for Life Due to His Drug Use

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) erased 14 years of Lance Armstrong's career today (August 24, 2012) -- including his record seven Tour de France titles -- and banned him for life from the sport that made him a hero to millions of cancer survivors, after concluding he used banned substances, according to the Washington Times website.

USADA said it expected cycling's governing board to take similar action. Armstrong is now officially a drug cheat in the eyes of his nation's doping agency.

Armstrong -- who retired a year ago -- said yesterday that he would no longer challenge USADA and declined to exercise his last option by entering arbitration.

He denied again that he ever took banned substances in his career, and called the USADA's investigation a "witch hunt" without a shred of physical evidence.

Mo. Girl Missing Two Years Escapes Captors in Ill.; May Have Been Runaway, Gave Birth Due to Rape

A teen girl -- reported missing more than two years ago -- told police she escaped a home in southwestern Illinois where she had been held captive and sexually assaulted almost every day, the USA Today website reports today (August 24, 2012).

Authorities in Washington Park -- a village next to East St. Louis -- raided the house yesterday afternoon and took into custody a 24-year-old man and his mother.

They also recovered the teen's child, which the girl said was the result of repeated rape by her captor.

Police in St. Louis, Missouri had listed the girl as a missing or runaway juvenile in April 2010. She was 15 when she disappeared.

Cardinal Dolan Will Offer the Benediction of RNC; Doing So Implies Support for Romney-Ryan Ticket

The de facto endorsement of the Romney-Ryan ticket by the Catholic hierarchy became a fait accompli  yesterday (August 23, 2012), as Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York accepted -- in an unprecedented fashion -- an invitation to offer a benediction on the last day of the Republican National Convention (RNC), according to the Daily Beast website.

The usual practice is for the local bishop to offer the benediction in his diocese.

The reason that Dolan's selection to offer the benediction is critical is because Dolan is in many ways the U.S. leader of the Pope Benedict XVI hierarchy.

Thus, his stature turns a benediction into a political act.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Ind. Foundation Will Manage Philly Cath. Schools; Is a Move to Improve Finances, Expand Enrolment

The archdiocese of Philadelphia is handing the management of its secondary schools over to an independent foundation in a move aimed at improving finances and increasing enrolment levels, the Catholic News website reports today (August 23, 2012).

The first independently-managed Catholic school system in the United States will be run by the Faith in the Future Foundation, created by concerned Catholics in conjunction with the archdiocese last February following an outpouring of support for four high schools targeted for closure.

The foundation's original mission was to strengthen local Catholic secondary schools through fundraising and marketing. Now, it will take over the management of 17 secondary and four special education schools, with a total enrolment of 15,000 students and an annual budget of  $158 million.

Catholic parishes will continue to operate 123 elementary schools.

Karen Klein Starts an Anti-Bullying Foundation; Uses $100,000 of Donated Money to End Bullying

Former Greece, New York bus monitor Karen Klein -- whose videotaped harassment at the hands of middle-school children went viral on You Tube and made national headlines earlier this summer -- is using $100,000 of the donated money she received for her distress to start the Karen Klein Anti-Bullying Foundation, the Democrat and Chronicle (NY) website reports today (August 23, 2012).

The mission of the Karen Klein Anti-Bullying Foundation is to put an end to bullying.

The foundation is launching a music tour called the No Bully Tour 2012 awareness campaign. It will also be supporting other organizations such as Max Sidorov's 7 Million Acts of Love, Play Pretty, Play Pals Project, and Pacer Center's Teens Against Bullying.

An online fund-raising campaign started by Toronto nutritionist Max Sidorov -- who was inspired by the reaction of the 68-year-old grandmother -- raised more than $700,000 with donations from more than 32,000 people to send Klein on a vacation.

Atheist Group Targets a Football Coach in Georgia; Says Mark Mariakis OK'd Church Meals for Players

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) -- an atheist activist group based in Madison, Wisconsin -- is taking a football coach to task, claiming he violated the First Amendment by allowing local churches to prepare meals for team members, the Blaze website reports today (August 23, 2012).

The organization sent a letter to Walker County Schools in LaFayette, Georgia, demanding that officials immediately investigate Mark Mariakis, the Ridgeland High School coach.

While the atheists want an examination into alleged pre-game foods that churches purportedly prepared for the players, the FFRF also addressed claims that Coach Mariakis prayed with the football players, used Bible verses in motivational speeches and on team shirts, and took part in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, a faith-based organization.

"Taking public school football teams to church, even for a meal, is unconstitutional," FFRF attorney Andrew Seidel wrote in a letter to the district. He added, "This program is an egregious violation of the Establishment Clause and must cease immediately."

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

COMMENTARY: UN and US Must Quickly End Crucifixions by Muslim Brotherhood

It was revealed this week that the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt whipped and crucified several secular protesters in Cairo last week -- a barbaric and inhumane means of punishment that reminds us of Jesus' torture and crucifixion.

The Muslim Brotherhood-backed mobs rampaged through Cairo's streets, seized protesters against President Mohammad Morsi's government, whipped them, and then crucified them naked on trees.

We believe that there is no way that such savage acts should be allowed to exist in the 21st century. It was horrendous when such acts existed some 2,000 years ago -- when Jesus was crucified -- but there is no excuse for them to exist in a civilized society today.

The fact that the United States and the United Nations have "looked the other way" -- instead of implementing severe retaliatory action against the Muslim Brotherhood government -- is almost as shocking as the inhumane acts themselves.

We believe that it is imperative that the United Nations and the United States take immediate action -- even military action, if necessary -- to end these barbaric punitive acts in Egypt once and for all.

Just why such barbaric and inhumane acts are allowed to occur in our civilized society today is an anachronism that is  beyond comprehension.

Indeed, these brutal acts convey that man can still be like the vicious animal  he was when he crucified Jesus some 2,000 years ago, and probably never will end his inhumanity toward his fellowman.

Dutch Co. Takes No Action on Anti-Jewish Slur; Frank House: "Place Where Jews Earn Money"

Amsterdam's public transport company GVB said today (August 22, 2012) that it will not be taking any action against two tram workers accused of making derogatory remarks about Jews, the Dutch News website reports.

The two were accused of making the comments close to the Anne Frank house, where the teenage girl lived in hiding during World War II.

According to the complainant, the two said the popular tourist attraction is "the place where Jews earn money."

In a statement, the GVB said it "took the complaints very seriously" and emphasized that such comments do not meet the company's norms and values.

Hate Crime In Israel Is Part of a Troubling Trend; Five Teens Are Arrested for Battering Palestinian

A hate crime against Palestinians in West Jerusalem this week -- which left one young man unconscious and in the hospital -- illustrates that Israeli teens are more militantly anti-Arab than their parents and increasingly more prone to rejecting democratic values, the Daily Beast website reports today (August 22, 2012).

In the latest incident, at least five Israeli teens are suspected of punching and kicking a Palestinian nearly to death on August 19 at a crowded public square in Jerusalem, as dozens of other youngsters looked on.

The Palestinian -- 17-year-old Jamal Julani -- collapsed and stopped breathing at one point, but was resuscitated and is now in stable condition in a hospital.

A police spokesman said the five suspects -- three boys and two girls, ages 13 to 19 -- are in custody and being questioned. "For my part, he can die," one of the suspects -- a 15-year-old -- told reporters outside the courtroom, in reference to Julani, "He's an Arab."

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Woman in France Hit for Not Observing Ramadan; Her Uncle Beats Her for Not Observing Rel. Fast

On the morning of August 18, 2012, a young Muslim woman, 18, living in Kerourien, France called police, because she was beaten by her uncle for not observing Ramadan, according to the Europe News website.

The uncle -- who came to the house from Mayotte, France -- was celebrating the end of Ramadan with relatives,  but became angry when he learned that his niece did not observe the religious fast.

He struck his niece several times with his fist and a broom. The woman fled to her bedroom to protect herself.

Police arrived at the house and took the young woman to safety in a hotel. She suffered from injuries requiring her to take two days off from work. Police plan to interview her uncle soon.

Survey: 90M Upset Americans Won't Vote in Nov.; Pres. Obama Would Win 2nd Term If They Voted

A new survey shows that nearly 40 percent of adult U.S. citizens will stay away from the polls this November, but according to the study, if those Americans were to cast a ballot, President Barack Obama would coast to a second term, the One News Now website reports today (August 21, 2012).

According to the Suffolk University-USA Today nationwide survey of unregistered and unlikely voters, 90 million citizens who are eligible to vote will not cast a ballot in the upcoming general election.

David Paleologos -- director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center -- says those who tend not to vote are from the lower-income, younger, higher-minority, and more religious segments of the population.

"Although they have a predisposed positive feeling about Barack Obama, it's sort of trumped by their disdain for the political system, their sort of unyielding anguish for where they're at in their lives due to the bad economy, and their general displeasure with the government, especially federal government," Paleologos tells One News Now.

UGCC Head Seeks Dialogue with Patriarch Kirill; Sparked by Kirill's Accord with Polish Cath. Head

As a result of Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill's praiseworthy reconciliation agreement last week with the head of the Catholic Church in Poland, Patriarch Sviatoslav Shevchuk -- the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) -- is calling for a similar dialogue with the Moscow Patriarchate, the RISU (Religious Information Service of Ukraine) website reports exclusively today (August 21, 2012).

Patriarch Shevchuk made his feelings of a dialogue known on August 19 at a Ukrainian press conference in which he said, "We also should follow such way of a certain reconciliation."

He added, "Without this, it is impossible to stop the Russification of Ukraine and the Ukrainophobia in Russia."

Patriarch Shevchuk concluded, "And if we try somehow to settle the painful questions of the past as Christians, in the light of the Gospel, and to heal our memory only by means of reconciliation, then we can build something constructive."

Monday, August 20, 2012

Pope Praises Orthodox-Cath. Meeting in Poland; Pat. Kirill, Abp. Michalik Enhanced Rel. Harmony

Pope Benedict XVI yesterday (August 19, 2012) hailed as an important step toward Christian harmony a meeting in Poland last week between the leaders of Russia's Orthodox Church and Poland's Catholic hierarchy, the Christian Broadcast Network website reports today.

Poland and Russia have feuded for centuries, and their ties have been marked by distrust.

Benedict praised the goodwill efforts by Orthodox Patriarch Kirill and Archbishop Jozef Michalik, who met in a ceremony in Warsaw on August 17.

The pope -- speaking to Polish pilgrims at his summer residence near Rome yesterday -- said both sides declared their desire to work together to spread Christian values.

Study: Utah Is Most Generous State, NH Is Least; Southern States More Generous in Charity Giving

A new study on the generosity of Americans suggests that states with the least religious residents are also the stingiest about giving money to charity, the Associated Press website reports today (August 20, 2012).

The study -- released today by the Chronicle of Philanthropy -- found that residents in states where religious participation is higher than the rest of the nation gave the greatest percentage of their discretionary income to charity (including churches).

The Northeast -- with lower religious participation -- was the least generous to charities, with the six New England states filling the last six slots among the 50 states. The most generous state was Utah, where residents gave 10.6 percent of their discretionary income to charity. The least generous was New Hampshire, at 2.5 percent.

Of the 10 least generous states, nine voted for Democrat Barack Obama for president in the last election. By contrast, of the 10 most generous states, eight voted for Republican John McCain.

Iranian Commander "Welcomes" Israeli Airstrike; It Would Allow Iran to "Get Rid of Israel Forever"

A senior Iranian commander says a possible Israeli airstrike against his country's nuclear facilities is "welcome" because it would give Iran a reason to retaliate and "get rid of" the Jewish state of Israel "forever," the Haaretz (Israeli) website reports today (August 20, 2012).

The remarks by Gen. Amir Hajizadeh -- head of the Revolutionary Guard's Air Force -- were reported on August 18 by the official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).

Hajizadeh says in the event of an Israeli strike, Iran's response would be "swift, decisive, and destructive." He also claims that Israeli threats of a strike are just part of a psychological war against Iran.

His comments are the latest in a recurring war of words between Israel and Iran.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Hamburg, Germany Recognizes Islamic Holidays; Some 150,000 Muslims Live in City of 2M People

Hamburg has become the first city in Germany to officially recognize Islamic holidays, so Muslim employees and students can celebrate them at home, the One News Now website reports today (August 19, 2012).

The decision forms part of an agreement between the German city and local Muslim groups. Similar agreements already exist with Christian and Jewish communities in Hamburg.

Authorities estimate that some 150,000 Muslims live in the city of almost two million people.

The growing public presence of Islamic culture in Germany has sparked anger among conservative and far-right groups.

Muslim Brotherhood Crucifies Protesters in Cairo; Uses Same Torture Method as Was Used on Jesus

Muslim Brotherhood supporters whipped and crucified several secular protesters in Egypt's capital city of Cairo last week, the Inquisitr website reports today (August 19, 2012).

Using the same punishments described in the Bible as having been inflicted on Jesus, Brotherhood-backed mobs rampaged through the streets, seizing protesters against the Islamist government of Mohammad Morsi, and dragging secular journalists from their offices. Their victims were beaten, scourged with whips, and crucified naked on trees.

The recent wave of attacks against opponents of the pro-Sharia government of President Morsi continues unabated with the closing of several secular websites, including Arab News, Al Khabar News, Dostor Watany, and Egypt Now.

Moreover, journalists are routinely jostled, intimidated, and assaulted by Muslim Brotherhood protesters, who station themselves outside all the pro-Democracy media outlets.

UK Schools Drop Holocaust from History Lessons; Many Other Ed. Changes Made to Please Muslims

A new report by Britain's Department for Education and Skills notes that an increasing number of schools are dropping the teaching of the Holocaust from history lessons to avoid offending Muslim students, the Hot Air website reports today (August 19, 2012).

The report -- titled "Teaching Emotive and Controversial History" -- also observes that many teachers are reluctant to discuss the Crusades because the lessons often contradict what is taught in local mosques.

In London, 85 of 90 schools have implemented "no pork" policies, reflecting a nationwide trend toward banning pork from lunch menus, again to avoid offending Muslim students.

In addition, Muslim leaders are demanding that Islamic preachers be sent to every school in Scotland to teach children about Islam, in an effort to counter negative attitudes about Muslims.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

COMMENTARY: Company's Dress Code for Employees Is Not a Case of Religious Discrimination

This week, a former Disneyland restaurant employee filed a lawsuit against Walt Disney Co. for harassment and religious discrimination, claiming she was fired because she wanted to wear a Muslim head scarf at work.

Imane Boudlal -- a 28-year-old Muslim -- worked as a hostess at the Storytellers Cafe, a restaurant at Disneyland in Anaheim, California.

After being on the job for two years, she asked permission to wear a hijab -- a head scarf worn by Muslim women -- while at work.

Disney managers denied her request, saying it would violate the company's policy for how employees look while on the job.

We agree with the Disney managers in this case. The fact is that a company has the right to enforce certain standards -- including its dress code -- regarding the requirements of its workers.

Moreover, because Boudlal worked for the company for two years before she asked to wear a head scarf illustrates that she did not need to wear one then, so why did she suddenly need to wear one after being on the job for two years?

This is not a matter of company harassment and religious discrimination, then, but rather a company requirement that applies to all employees -- Christians, Muslims, Jews, etc.

Consequently, as we see it, Boudlal doesn't have "a leg to stand on" in her endeavor to sue Walt Disney Co.

Topless Femen Woman Destroys Cross in Ukraine; To Support Convicted Russian Punk Band Women

Activists from the Ukrainian feminist group Femen cut down a wooden crucifix in the center of  Kiev -- Ukraine's capital -- yesterday (August 17, 2012) in support of members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot, the RIA Novosti (Russian) website reports today.

A video posted online showed a topless blond Femen protester wearing red shorts -- with the words "Free Riot" scrawled across her chest -- cutting the cross with a chainsaw and then pulling it down using a rope pulled by two other activists.

The cross was put up on a high hill near Kiev's downtown Independence Square during the 2004 pro-Democracy Orange Revolution to commemorate the victims of political repression under Joseph Stalin.

The activists warned Russian President Vladimir Putin and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia that they would "turn the blade of our chainsaw" against those "responsible for the suffering of innocent women."

Tex. Teacher Guilty of Having Sex with Students; Husband Was Overseas in US Mil., Forgives Her

Jurors took less than an hour yesterday (August 17, 2012) to convict Brittni Colleps -- a married mother of three -- on 16 counts of an improper relationship between a teacher and a student, according to the Global Post website.

Colleps, 28 -- who met the students while teaching at Kennedale High School in Texas -- repeatedly invited five teenagers to her home for sex.

She was sentenced to five years in prison.

Colleps' husband -- who was overseas serving in the U.S. military at the time -- said he was "mad at her" but he was trying to come to terms with it through church and prayer. He added that what his wife did was "morally and ethically wrong" but that's "between me and her and God."

Friday, August 17, 2012

Muslim Hotel Owner Discriminated Against Jews; Jury Awards Friends of IDF Damages Over $1.2M

A Muslim hotel owner in Southern California discriminated against a group of Jewish Los Angeles young adults, a jury found on August 15, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports today (August 17, 2012).

A jury in Santa Monica Superior Court found that Tehmina Adaya -- the owner of the Hotel Shangri-La in that city -- discriminated against the nonprofit Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

On July 11, Adaya abruptly ended a pool party that had been approved by members of the hotel's management in advance. She allegedly yelled, "Get those (expletive deleted) Jews out of my pool," according to testimony.

Adaya and her hotel were found to have violated the state's Unruh Civil Rights Act, which bars hotels and businesses from discriminating on the basis of sex, race, color, or religion. The jury awarded the Friends of the IDF more than $1.2 million in damages.

Russia's Orthodox Head Pays First Visit to Poland; Signs Vow with Polish Cath. Head on Forgiveness

The Christian Broadcast Network website reports today (August 17, 2012) that the head of the Russian Orthodox Church has arrived in Catholic Poland on an historic four-day visit expected to bring the two churches and nations closer together.

Patriarch Kirill received a state welcome yesterday upon arriving at Warsaw airport, noting it was the first visit ever by the head of Russia's Orthodox Church to the country.

Poles and Russians share a long, but largely painful history, including in recent times.

Today, Kirill and Archbishop Jozef Michalik -- the head of Poland's Roman Catholic Church -- signed a joint message asking both nations for mutual forgiveness and reconciliation.

Russian Punk Band Found Guilty of Hooliganism; Three Members of Pussy Riot Get 2 Years in Jail

Three members of Pussy Riot -- a Russian punk band and feminist collective that mocked Russian president Vladimir Putin during a "punk prayer" in Moscow cathedral -- have been found guilty of hooliganism and sentenced to two years in jail, the Yahoo News website reports today (August 17, 2012).

Judge Marina Syrova announced the verdict from a district court in central Moscow, about two miles from the Christ the Savior Orthodox Cathedral where the guerrilla group performed its "flash" stunt.

The band members -- Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30 -- were arrested on March 3, several weeks after the performance, and charged with "hooliganism." They have been in jail since then.

Their trial drew enormous international interest, sparking catcalls from international free-speech advocates and spawning dozens of protests. Madonna, Bjork, Paul McCartney, and Courtney Love were among a long list of musicians to come out in support of Pussy Riot, calling on the Russian government to set the band members free.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Coptic Orthodox Church Plans to Elect New Pope; To Be Elected This Fall, Succeeds Pope Shenouda

The acting head of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church said that 17 candidates are in the running to become the Church's next pope, according to the Orthodox Church Info blog.

Bishop Bakhomious has been the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, Egypt since the death of Pope Shenouda III last March. The election of the next pope is due to take place in autumn.

Seven of the candidates named by the Church are bishops and 10 are monks.

According to church rules, the list will be reduced from 17 to 7 from which the boards of the church's city councils will vote to pick three. The final choice will be made by a young child picking a name from a box.

Police in Spain Stop Forced Marriage of Girl, 13; Muslim Girls in Spain Are Often Forced to Marry

Police in the northeastern Spanish region of Catalonia have intervened to prevent the forced marriage of a  13-year-old girl belonging to a Muslim immigrant family from Morocco, the Europe News website reports today (August 16, 2012).

The girl was one of nine reported victims of forced marriage in Catalonia during the first six months of 2012.

The issue of forced marriages for girls is especially acute in Catalonia, where the Muslim population has skyrocketed in recent years. Catalonia -- a region with 7.5 million inhabitants -- is now home to an estimated 400,000 Muslims, up from 30,000 in the 1980s.

According to Catalan officials, the majority of forced marriages in Catalonia involve Muslim girls from North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and the Middle East. Forced marriage of Muslim girls is not an offense under the Spanish Criminal Code.

PA Woman Faces $600 Fine for Feeding Poor Kids; Township Says She Can't Feed Them in Her Home

A woman in Chester Township, Pennsylvania has been warned that she could be fined as much as $600 a day if she continues to feed needy children in her community, the Raw Story website reports today (August 16, 2012).

Angela Prattis has been feeding lunch to as many as 60 children a day under a program funded by the state's Department of Education and administered by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

But because Prattis is allowing the children to come to her home, Chester Township has threatened fines of $600 a day if she continues to hand out the lunches, which consist of a sandwich, fruit, and milk.

Prattis said that the town sent her a letter stating she needed a variance to use her personal residence. Chester Township business manager Bill Pisarek said that Prattis could apply for a variance, but the application alone costs $1,000.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

COMMENTARY: Vice President Joe Biden Needs to End His Hateful Speeches

In a speech before a highly black crowd in Danville, Virginia yesterday (August 14, 2012), Vice President Joe Biden -- referring to Mitt Romney and other Republicans -- said, "They gonna put y'all back in chains."

Biden's words -- spoken with a southern accent -- clearly indicates that he was trying to convey to blacks and lower class whites that they will be treated like slaves if Romney is elected president of the United States.

Moreover, Biden's speech is racist and disgusting, because it attempts to divide America into black and white groups that are hostile toward each other.

Indeed, Biden's speech is so despicable that it has taken the 2012 presidential race to the scum of the earth -- and has made it the most hateful presidential race in American history! Consequently, it would not surprise us one iota if President Obama decides to have another running mate -- instead of Biden -- in this year's election.

Biden knows better than to speak such wicked and degrading words to Americans. Nonetheless, he used those words in an effort to to frighten Americans from voting for Romney for president.

The fact that Republicans received much positive publicity and support a day earlier -- as a result of Rep. Paul Ryan, a budget specialist par excellence, being chosen by Romney as his vice president -- was the key factor in Biden's determination to take the focus off that publicity by using shocking words and a southern accent.

Using such a ploy is an insult to the integrity of the American people. Biden needs to change his inhumane modus operandi to one that is sincere, and treats Americans with the respect to which they are entitled.

Otherwise, continuing his hateful speeches will surely backfire and inevitably lead to the defeat of the Democratic Party in this year's presidential election.

Judge Throws Out Suit on FBI's Muslim Spying; Informant Posed as Muslim Convert to Get Info

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit accusing the FBI of civil liberties violations by using an informant to spy on several California mosques, the Democracy Now website reports today (August 15, 2012).

Former informant Craig Monteilh acknowledged posing as a Muslim convert to collect the personal information of mosque members and even record their meetings and conversations.

But yesterday, U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney threw out the case, saying it would risk revealing government secrets.

Two groups representing the plaintiffs -- the American Civil Liberties Union and the Council on American-Islamic Relations -- are appealing the judge's decision.

France Demolishes Camps to Drive Out Its Gypsies; Most Gypsies Now Hide in Woods, Live by Begging

Thousands of Gypsies -- also known as Roma -- have been forced into hiding in France, as that nation launched another campaign this week to drive them out of the country, the Salon website reports today (August 15, 2012).

The camps weren't much to begin with: They had no electricity or running water; grocery carts served as makeshift grills; rats ran rampant; and fleas gnawed on young and old alike.

The previous big sweep occurred in 2010 when France expelled Gypsies to Romania and Bulgaria. This time, the Gypsies headed into the woods, as bulldozers tore down their camps, mostly in Gennevilliers on the outskirts of Paris.

Most Gypsies have no plans to return to Romania, where they could be granted citizenship. They say that begging in France is still more lucrative than trying to find work where there is none.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Top Hungarian Anti-Semite Admits Jewish Roots; His Grandparents on Mother's Side Were Jews

The New York Times website reports today (August 14, 2012) that a top Hungarian anti-Semite has admitted that he is a Jew.

As a rising star in Hungary's far-right Jobbik Party, Csanad Szegedi was notorious for his incendiary comments on Jews: He accused them of "buying up" the country, railed about the "Jewishness" of the political elite, and claimed Jews were desecrating national symbols.

Now, it has been revealed that Szegedi, 30, himself is a Jew.

Following weeks of Internet rumors, Szegedi acknowledged that his grandparents on his mother's side were Jewish -- making him one also under Jewish law, even though he doesn't practice the faith.

Report: 2,362 Millionaires Got Unemployment $$; Got Over $20M in Unemployment Benefits in 2009

A new report by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) indicates that there were 2,362 people who earned a million dollars or more in taxable income in 2009 and who also received federal unemployment benefits that year, the Cybercast News website reports today (August 14, 2012).

In fact, these millionaires collectively raked in more than $20 million in unemployment benefits.

The Congressional Research Service report was published on August 2, 2012, and was based on the most recent data available from the Internal Revenue Service.

The CRS reported that millionaires received $20.8 million in federal unemployment benefits in 2009, up from $18.6 million in 2008. That averages out to $8,806 in unemployment benefits per millionaire.

VP Biden Uses Race to Rip Romney, Republicans; Tells Voters:"They Gonna Put Y'all Back in Chains"

Vice President Joe Biden -- in a shocking racist speech in Virginia today (August 14, 2012) -- told a highly black audience, "Romney wants to let the -- he said in the first 100 days, he's going to let the big banks once again write their own rules -- unchain Wall Street. They gonna put y'all back in chains."

The southern accent Biden adopts for the last line is deeply disturbing and is a clear reference to slavery, according to the Breitbart website.

The city of Danville -- where Biden was speaking -- has a black population of 48.6 percent; 19.8 percent of  all Virginians are black.

Those facts surely did not go unnoticed by Biden. This is race-baiting at its finest. It is despicable.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Ex-Disney Worker Sues the Co. for Rel.Prejudice; Was Denied Request to Wear Head Scarf at Work

A former Disneyland restaurant employee sued Walt Disney Co. today (August 13, 2012) for harassment and religious discrimination, saying she was fired because she wanted to wear a Muslim head scarf at work, according to the Reuters website.

Imane Boudlal -- a 28-year-old Muslim -- worked as a hostess at the Storytellers Cafe, a restaurant inside Disney's Grand California Hotel and Spa at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, according to a complaint filed in federal court.

Two years into the job, Boudlal asked permission to wear a hijab -- a head scarf worn by Muslim women -- while at work.

According to her lawsuit, Disney managers denied her request, saying it would violate the company's policy for how employees look while on the job. Among restrictions, the policy prohibits visible tattoos and fingernails that exceed a quarter of an inch, the lawsuit said.

Irish Group Attacks Repub. VP Choice Paul Ryan; Claims He Does Not Represent Irish Cath. Values

The Irish American Democrats (IAD) have launched a fierce attack on Republican VP candidate Paul Ryan, saying he does not represent the Irish Catholic values that he was raised with, the Irish Central website reports today (August 13, 2012).

The group -- located in Washington, D.C. -- has played a major role in Democratic Party circles in recent elections and is especially close to the Clintons.

The organization points out that that the American Catholic bishops bitterly criticized Ryan's budget plans when they were released, and stated that the budget failed to meet the moral criteria of the church.

Stella O'Leary -- IAD's chairman -- stated that, "The Irish owe their success in this country to the fairness and justice provided by the American system and the protection from religious discrimination provided by the Catholic Church, the Democratic Party, and the Labor Movement.

Vatican Orders Trial of Butler, Charges a 2nd Man; Computer Expert Gave Butler Info to Leak to Press

The Vatican today (August 13, 2012) ordered Pope Benedict's former butler to stand trial on charges of aggravated theft for leaking documents alleging widespread corruption, and -- for the first time -- revealed a second man was accused of being involved in the case, according to the Reuters website.

In a 35-page document on a papal scandal -- which has rocked the Holy See since butler Paolo Gabriele was arrested last May -- the Vatican said he saw himself as "an agent of the Holy Spirit."

Computer expert Claudio Sciarpelletti -- a layman -- has also been charged on lesser charges of aiding and abetting a crime, the document said.

It alleged Sciarpelleti was a close friend of Gabriele and that investigators had found a sealed envelope in his desk addressed to the butler, which contained material published in a book based on the leaks.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Miss. Museum Yields, OKs Same-Sex Ceremony; Reversal Due to Fed. Lawsuit Threat by 2 Women

Faced with the threat of a federal lawsuit, Mississippi officials have relented on a ban on same-sex commitment ceremonies at a state-owned museum, and are processing a permit for two women, the Hattiesburg American website reports today (August 12, 2012).

The Southern Poverty Law Center sent a letter to the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum in Jackson on July 12, threatening to sue if officials did not allow Ceara Sturgis, 20, and her partner, Emily Key, 19, to hold a ceremony there this fall.

Republican Mississippi Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith said in a statement that same-sex ceremonies are against her religious and personal beliefs, but there's nothing in state law to prohibit them.

She added that the museum is processing the permit application, but there are several steps and it hasn't been finalized.

Billy Graham Resting in North Carolina Hospital; Renowned Evangelist Treated for Infected Lungs

The National Post website reports today (August 12, 2012) that world-renowned evangelist Billy Graham, 93, has been admitted to a North Carolina Hospital for an infection in his lungs.

A spokesman at Mission Hospital says Graham was admitted overnight for evaluation and treatment of an infection thought to be bronchitis.

The hospital is in Asheville, near Graham's home in Montreat.

Pulmonologist David Pucci says Graham is resting comfortably and his condition is stable. He is receiving antibiotics.

No Protestant Is on the US Pres.Ticket for 1st Time; A Mormon and Catholic Are on Republican Ticket

For the first time in American history, one of the two major political parties is nominating a presidential ticket without a member of the Protestant faith, the One News Now website reports today (August 12, 2012).

The fact was realized yesterday, when Mitt Romney -- a Mormon -- chose Congressman Paul Ryan to be his running mate. Ryan is a dedicated Roman Catholic.

Regarding the non-traditional presidential ticket, the National Journal states, "Romney's team clearly thinks they are going to win on religion in the campaign, even though evangelicals won't have one of their own on the ticket."

Last month, a Pew Research Poll indicated that white evangelical voters are less likely to be comfortable with Romney's Mormonism than any subgroup, other than atheists and Democrats.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

COMMENTARY: Atheist Group Needs to End Its Threat Against High School Band

This week, an atheist organization sent a letter to the superintendent of the Wayland, Massachusetts public schools, claiming that the playing of "God Bless America" by the Wayland High School band is an unconstitutional act, since it violates the separation of church and state.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) threatened to file a lawsuit against the Wayland public schools, if the band continues to play "God Bless America."

Dr. Paul Stein -- superintendent of Wayland public schools -- said he plans to ignore the FFRF letter, because he believes that the atheist group is over-reacting to a minute situation.  Actually, the song is played by the band just two times each year -- on Pearl Harbor Day and Memorial Day.

We agree with Dr. Stein that the FFRF is over-reacting in this situation. Moreover, we believe that the FFRF should end its threat to file a lawsuit against the Wayland public schools.

The fact is that "God Bless America" is not primarily a prayer song -- even though the word "God" is used in it -- but rather a patriotic song which, at most spiritually, is a "thank you" to God for making America the great country that it is. It can be compared to "America The Beautiful" -- a similar type of patriotic song -- which includes the words "America! America! God shed His grace on thee."

Because the Wayland High School band does not use words in playing "God Bless America" -- unlike singing it -- it can also be argued that the band is just playing the tune of the song with no mention of God.

That being the case, it would behoove the FFRF to end its threat of a lawsuit against the Wayland public schools, and perhaps concentrate its effort on situations where there really is a violation of church and state separation.

Lesbian Gen. Named First Openly Gay Flag Officer; Is Deputy Chief in the D.C. Army Reserve Office

The Washington Times website reports today (August 11, 2012) that Army Brig. Gen. Tammy Smith yesterday became the first openly gay flag officer in the U.S. military, according to OutServe, an advocacy group for gay service members.

Gen. Smith was promoted to her current rank during a ceremony on August 10 in Arlington, Virginia. She is assigned as deputy chief in the Army Reserve Office of the Chief in Washington, D.C.

Flag officers are commissioned military officers who are entitled to fly a flag marking their command.

"Brigadier General Smith made history today -- not only as an exemplary service member who renders outstanding service to our nation with integrity and honor -- but as a proud lesbian acknowledging the tremendous sacrifice her family makes in order for her to serve and advance," Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, said in a press release.

Commander at Lackland AFB in Texas Dismissed; Due to Six Instructors' Sexual Abuse of Women

The Daily Beast website reports today (August 11, 2012) that the sex scandal at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas has cost a top commander there his job.

Col. Glenn Palmer was dismissed yesterday due to his inability to effectively lead the 737th Training Group.

Six Lackland instructors have been charged with a variety of sexual crimes -- including rape and adultery -- against women students at the base.

Investigators estimate that about 40 women were targeted by superiors who used their rank to coerce them for sexual favors.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Teens Arrested for Throwing Lemons at Mosque; Occurred at Ramadan Worship in Hayward, Cal.

The Big News Network website reports that four teenagers have been arrested for throwing lemons at a Hayward, California mosque today (August 10, 2012) during a Ramadan service.

Police said the teens were between the ages of 13 and 16.

"While we are hopeful this is an isolated incident and not bias-motivated, we are of course concerned in light of all the recent acts of vandalism and violence targeting Muslim and Sikh houses of worship," said Zahra Billoo, spokeswoman for the Bay Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

It was the fourth time the mosque had been targeted in the past eight months.

Nuns' Group Ends Week of Meetings in St. Louis; Says Vatican Pressure Won't Influence Its Views

American nuns -- described as dissenters with "serious doctrinal problems" in a recent Vatican report that ordered an overhaul of their group -- said today (August 10, 2012) they will talk with church leaders about potential changes, but will not compromise on the sisters' mission, the Cybercast News website reports.

Sister Pat Farrell -- president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) -- called the Vatican assessment of the organization a "misrepresentation." But she said the more than 900 women who attended the group's national assembly in St. Louis, Missouri this week decided that they would for now stay open to discussion with three bishops the Vatican appointed to oversee them.

"The officers will proceed with these discussions as long as possible, but will reconsider if LCWR is forced to compromise the integrity of its mission," Farrell said at a news conference. She declined to discuss specifics.

LCWR represents about 80 percent of the 57,000 Roman Catholic nuns in the United States.

Cath. Churches in France Plan an Anti-Gay Prayer; To Be Read on August 15, Condemns Gay Marriage

The France 24 website reports today (August 10, 2012) that a tradition will be revived in France next week when a "Prayer for France" will be read out at Catholic churches across the country. The text -- which attacks the government's plan to legalize same-sex marriage -- has angered France's gay rights groups.

The controversial "Prayer for France" has been sent out to churches across the country to be read out on August 15 to mark the feast of the Assumption.

The prayer's subject matter is designed to mobilize Catholics against Francois Hollande's Socialist Party government, which recently affirmed plans to open up marriage and adoption to gay couples.

The planned prayer has angered gay rights groups across France, who have slammed the Catholic Church for "homophobia" and interfering in politics.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Well Over 100 Million Americans Are on Welfare; More Americans Than Ever in US Hist. Collecting

The Yahoo News website reports today (August 9, 2012) that there are now more Americans dependent on the federal government for money than ever before in U.S. history.

According to the Survey of Income and Program Participation -- conducted by the U.S. Census -- well over 100 million Americans are currently enrolled in at least one welfare program run by the federal government.  Many are enrolled in more than one welfare program.

That is about one-third of the entire population of the country. Sadly, that figure does not even include Social Security or Medicare.

Today the federal government runs some 80 different "means-tested welfare programs," and almost all of those programs have experienced substantial growth in recent years. America's rapid and gigantic growth in welfare during the past few years illustrates  how the United States has become a socialist nation, and why it has been nicknamed "the welfare state."

Federal Judge Rules Against Hawaii Gay Marriage; Marriage Would Let Lesbians Get Federal Benefits

A federal judge ruled yesterday (August 8, 2012) against two Hawaii women who want to get married -- instead of enter into a civil union -- thus handing a victory to opponents of gay marriage in a state that has been at the forefront of the issue, according to the USA Today website.

U.S. District Judge Alan Kay's ruling sides with Hawaii Health Director Loretta Fuddy and Hawaii Family Forum, a Christian group that was allowed to intervene in the case.

The lawsuit by Natasha Jackson and Janin Kleid argues they need to be married in order to get certain federal benefits.

John D'Amato, attorney for the lesbian couple, said they will appeal the decision to a higher court.

Romanian Mom Kills Her Disabled Daughter, 8; Due to Her Inability to Pay for Daughter's Care

The Romanian Times website reports today (August 9, 2012) that a Romanian woman killed her eight-year-old disabled daughter yesterday, because she couldn't pay for her care any longer.

Desperate about the 1,000 Euro unpaid bills for utilities, the 33-year-old Cristina N. -- who lives in one of  Bucharest's poorest quarters -- put a pillow on her daughter's mouth and nose and suffocated her.

A neighbor said that Roxy -- the little girl -- was suffering from a degenerative disease and couldn't move her legs.

Cristina N. was arrested and she will be evaluated by a psychiatrist before charges will be made.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

COMMENTARY: Italy Must End Its Sale of Wine with Photos of Hitler on Bottles

It was revealed today (August 8, 2012) that bottles of wine -- with pictures of Adolf Hitler on the label in various poses -- are being sold in supermarkets in Italy.

Michael Hirsch -- a lawyer from Philadelphia who is currently on vacation in Garda, Italy -- found it shocking when he saw these bottles of wine being sold. He believes that by selling these bottles of wine, Italians are showing a lack of sympathy they should have toward Jews, some six million of whom were killed by Hitler's Nazi troops during World War II.

When Hirsch complained to a store employee about the wine bottles, the employee showed no empathy, and said, "It's just history, like Mussolini and Che Guevara."

The father of Hirsch's wife, Cindy, was born in Czechoslovakia and is an Auschwitz survivor. Cindy's aunt, grandparents, and other family members were killed at Auschwitz. Mrs. Hirsch said this is not only an affront to Jews, but an affront to humanity as a whole.

We agree with Cindy Hirsch's viewpoint. The fact is that Hitler was the most hateful tyrant of the 20th century -- and perhaps in all of history.

For Italy to pay tribute to Hitler by placing photos of him on wine bottles conveys a lack of respect for the millions of Jews that were murdered, and the millions of troops who were killed in World War II.

Moreover, it is a disgusting way for a wine company to try to make money, as it is an insult to the integrity of society.

Indeed, Italian prosecutors need to put an end to the sale of wine in these offensive bottles -- and the sooner they do so, the better.

Hitler Wine Bottles in Italy Seen as "Offensive;" Viewed as Lack of Italian Sympathy toward Jews

Wine bottles featuring Adolf Hitler on the label have been called "offensive" after complaints from U.S. tourists in the Italian city of Garda, the Telegraph (British) website reports today (August 8, 2012).

Michael Hirsch -- a lawyer from Philadelphia -- complained to local media after he found a supermarket near his hotel was stocking wine bottles with Hitler in various poses, and another bottle featuring an image of Pope John Paul II.

"It is very shocking and startling to us," Hirsch said today. "We would think of it as neo-Nazism. It makes you wonder about the sympathies of the local people."

Prosecutor Mario Giulio Schinaia said, "The only crime that could be currently attributable to this is that of apologizing for fascism. At this point though it would be opportune to invent the crime of human stupidity."

Disputed Mosque in Tenn. Will Open on Aug. 10; Had Been Subject of a Lawsuit, Arson, Vandalism

A new mosque in Tennessee -- which had been the subject of a lawsuit, arson, vandalism, and a bomb threat -- will open for prayers for the first time on August 10, 2012, according to the USA Today website.

Islamic Center of Murfreesboro board member Saleh Sbenaty said yesterday (August 7) that Rutherford County officials issued a temporary occupancy permit that will allow use of the building while the final permit is pending.

Construction was nearly shut down after a Rutherford County judge ruled in May that the meeting where mosque construction was approved was not sufficiently advertised to the public.

Last month, a federal judge ruled in favor of the mosque, allowing construction and permitting it to move ahead. The temporary permit is good until mid-October and will allow contractors time to complete the landscaping and some other last details.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Atheists: End Band Playing "God Bless America;" Claim Wayland, MA Band Commits Unconst. Act

The Wayland School District in Wayland, Massachusetts is pushing back against an atheist group's claim that a high school band Playing "God Bless America" is an unconstitutional act, the Blaze website reports today (August 7, 2012).

The district -- led by Superintendent Dr. Paul Stein -- plans to ignore the Freedom From Religion Foundation's (FFRF) letter, signed by its attorney, Rebecca Markert, alleging separation of church violations when the song is played at school functions.

The song was played by the Wayland High School band on two days of American patriotism -- Pearl Harbor Day and Memorial Day.

While Stein claims that he respects the separation between government and religion, he also believes the Madison, Wisconsin-based FFRF is taking the situation a bit too far. A parent's complaint is believed to have sparked the FFRF letter.

Nun Is Arrested for Vandalism at Nuclear Facility; Sr. Megan Rice, Two Others Entered Tenn. Bldg.

An 82-year-old nun will be appearing in court, after being arrested for vandalism and trespassing at a nuclear facility, The Tablet website reports today (August 7, 2012).

Sr. Megan Rice -- a Sister of the Heart of the Child Jesus -- is part of a group called Transform Now Plowshares, who broke into the Highly-Enriched Uranium Manufacturing Facility (HEUMF) in Oak Ridge, Tennessee last week.

The facility is the American Government's only facility for handling, processing, and storing weapons-grade uranium.

Sr. Megan and two other activists allegedly broke through four perimeter fences and walked for two hours through a "fatal force zone" patrolled by guards and attached two banners to the pillars of the building housing the HEUMF saying: "Transform Now Plowshares" and "Swords into Plowshares Spears into Pruning Hooks -- Isaiah."

EXCLUSIVE: Bill Clinton Takes Buddhist Classes; Learns the Art of Meditation from Buddhist Monk

Bill Clinton's health kick has hit spiritual heights, as he is now embracing Buddhist meditation as a means of achieving greater enlightenment and stress relief, the Radar Online website reports exclusively today (August 7, 2012).

The 65-year-old former President -- who has been plagued by medical issues for years -- likes to unwind in private classes, as he learns the art of meditation with the help of a Buddhist monk.

"Bill loves meditation because it helps him stay focused and calm. Ever since his heart scare, Bill has looked for ways to help him relax," a source said.

"He has a hectic life, he travels a lot on business as an ambassador for the U.S., and needs something to keep him sane. Meditation offers him that, he has a mantra that he likes to chant , and after every session he feels transformed and full of positive energy," the source revealed.

Monday, August 6, 2012

MS Church Apologizes for Barring Black Wedding; Black Couple Forced to Marry in Another Church

The Big New Network website reports today (August 6, 2012) that the First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs, Mississippi issued an apology yesterday, expressing regret and admitting to being wrong in refusing to wed a black couple.

"As a church, we express our apology to Te'Andrea and Charles Wilson for the hurt that was brought to them in the hours preceding their wedding and beyond," the church stated.

It added, "We are seeking forgiveness and reconciliation with our Lord Jesus Christ, Te'Andrea and Charles, family and friends of the Hendersons and Wilsons, our church family, and our community for the actions and attitudes that have recently occurred."

Te'Andrea and Charles Wilson had planned to marry at the First Baptist Church -- a church which has not married a black couple in its 150-year-old existence -- last month. But at the last minute, the couple was told that they would have to move the wedding to a different church because they are black.

Egypt's Coptic Leader Upset with Islamist Govt.; Says Just One Christian Appointed to 1st Cabinet

A month after Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi was sworn in as the president of Egypt, the Coptic Orthodox Church's fear has come true. The church's interim head said on August 4 that Christians were not fairly represented in the newly formed cabinet, and have been facing a rise in attacks, according to the Christian Post website.

"I will not congratulate the new prime minister on the formation of the government because it is unfair... this ministerial formation came unjust to Copts," Bishop Bakhomious said.

Bakhomious -- who became the interim head of the Coptic Orthodox Church after the death of Pope Shenouda III last March -- expressed unhappiness with the government two days after Morsi appointed his first cabinet with just one Christian in it.

Nadia Eskandar Zukhari, the minister for scientific research which many see as "semi-ministry," is not only the sole Copt in the cabinet, but only one of two women.

Faith Groups Condemn Shootings at Sikh Temple; Nazi Racist Killed 6,Injured 3 in Milwaukee Suburb

The Ecumenical News International website reports today (August 6, 2012) that a broad spectrum of U.S. religious groups -- Christian, Jewish, and Muslim -- are condemning killings at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin that authorities described as an act of "domestic terrorism."

The gunman, Wade Michael Page, a 40-year-old US Army veteran, killed six people and injured three others yesterday at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin before being shot and killed by police.

The temple is located in Oak Creek, a suburb of Milwaukee.

The Southern Poverty Law Center -- which monitors hate groups in the United States -- described Page as a "frustrated neo-Nazi"  who had led a racist white-power group.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

UK Pakistani Parents Convicted of Honor Killing; Said 17-Yr-Old Daughter Lived Western Lifestyle

The parents of Shafilea Ahmed -- who believed their 17-year-old daughter had brought shame to the family for wanting to live a western lifestyle -- have been jailed for 25 years each, after being found guilty of  her murder, the Washington Times website reports today (August 4, 2012).

Iftikhar Ahmed and his wife Farzana were convicted of the honor killing yesterday, following a three-month trial at Chester Crown Court in England.

The court had been told how the couple from the same village in rural Pakistan had jointly killed their daughter after claiming her behavior had brought the family into disrepute.

They had clashed with their eldest daughter over her westernized lifestyle and objected to her wearing the same clothes as her white friends, rather than traditional Pakistani dress.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Three Suspected Al-Qaida Members Held in Spain; One Had Enough of Explosives to Blow Up a Bus

The Voice of America News website reports today (August 3, 2012) that three suspected members of the al-Qaida terror group are being questioned in a Spanish court, where a judge will decide whether they remain behind bars.

Armed police shut down streets in Madrid today as the three men were led into the Audiencia Nacional Court.

Spanish officials say the suspects are of Russian and Turkish origin, and that the Turkish suspect had enough explosives to blow up a bus.

The two suspects of Russian origin were arrested earlier this week, as they were making their way toward the French border. Officials arrested the Turk in the southern part of Spain.

Ex-Pastor at Indiana Church Had Sex with Teen; Jack Schaap Served at Hammond Baptist Church

The former pastor of an Indiana Baptist megachurch is being investigated for sexual relations with a teenage girl, the Reuters website reports today (August 3, 2012).

Jack Schaap -- pastor for 11 years at the First Baptist Church of Hammond -- confessed to having sex with a member of the church when she was 16, said Eddie Wilson, director of public relations for the church.

The church -- located in the Chicago metropolitan area -- has 40,000 members and typically has 15,000 people in church on any given Sunday, Wilson said.

Adultery is grounds for dismissal under the church's bylaws, and Schaap, 54, was fired on July 30 following an internal investigation, Wilson said. Schaap and his wife are trying to reconcile their marriage, he said.

United Methodist Church Continues US Decline; UMC Has Lost 4.5M Members in US Since 1964

The Christian Post website reports today (August 3, 2012) that the United Methodist Church (UMC) has continued to decline in the United States, according to reports released by all but four of the denomination's 59 conferences.

According to the reports, in 2011 the UMC suffered a decline of nearly 72,000 members, with 18 conferences reporting membership losses of 2 percent or more.

Mark Tooley -- president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy and a practicing Methodist -- said that he did not feel confident in the survival of the UMC in America.

"Methodism in the U.S. has lost membership every year since 1964. It has lost over 4.5 million members. There is nothing in its U.S. policies that can or will reverse the decline in the near future," said Tooley.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Woman Goes Topless In NYC to Fight for Equality; Moira Johnston Says Women Need Equal Rights

The Inquisitr website reports today (August 2, 2012) that women's rights activist Moira Johnston -- who has been walking the streets of New York City naked from the waist up for the past three months -- hopes to raise public awareness on the issue of women feeling comfortable while strolling about topless.

Johnston, 29,  is outspoken in her opinion that women should be treated the same as men in regards to attire or the lack thereof. She reasons that if men are legally allowed to go about topless, then women should have the same privilege.

She said she plans to continue to go bare-breasted in New York City throughout the summer. She hopes that by summer's end, more people will adjust to the idea of women going topless in public and that it will become less of a spectacle.

Johnston is within her legal rights to be topless, as New York state laws allow women to be topless in public, as well as men. NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Public Information, Paul Browne, addressed the issue with the following statement on topless laws: "The state's highest court established long ago that women have the same right as men to appear topless in public....The woman's lack of certain attire in this instance does not appear to be a police matter."

Woman, 23, to Be Stoned to Death for Adultery; Mother of 6-Month-Old Baby Convicted in Sudan

The Europe News website reports today (August 2, 2012) that a 23-year-old woman convicted of adultery in Sudan will be stoned to death, unless granted a last-minute appeal by authorities.

Laila Ibrahim Issa Jamool is being kept shackled to her 6-month-old baby, after being convicted by a court in the capital Khartoum on July 10.

Jamool's husband had accused her of "Zina" (adultery).

Under Islamic law (Sharia),  a woman convicted of adultery is usually sentenced to death by stoning.

Dutchman's Replica of Noah's Ark Is Completed; Built by Johan Huibers to Help Explain the Bible

The CNN website reports today (August 2, 2012) that a Dutchman has built a replica of Noah's Ark to biblical proportions, following a dream that his homeland would be flooded.

Johan Huibers -- a wealthy businessman -- built the vessel to the dimensions specified in the book of Genesis.

The finished craft -- which just opened to the public on the Merwede River in the Dutch town of Dordrecht -- is 137 meters long, 21 meters wide, and 14 meters high.

Huibers has filled the ark -- which will operate as a "Bible Museum" -- with life-sized plastic animals and an aviary of live birds to give visitors more interaction. "We wanted to build something that can help explain the Bible in real terms," Huibers said.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

COMMENTARY: FBI Needs to Stop Harassing Pro-Life Activists in Order to Silence Them

This week, the Life Legal Defense Foundation sent a letter to the FBI because it threatened and questioned pro-life advocate Andrew Moore at his home in Dallas, Texas on July 13, 2012. The letter demands that that the FBI stop its harassment, which it referred to as "Gestapo tactics,"  and said the Foundation would take the FBI to court if its harassment continues.

Dana Cody, executive director of the Life Legal Defense Foundation, said, "The FBI used bullying tactics and intimidated Mr. Moore. Cody added, "It's deplorable that they want to silence his constitutionally-protected free speech rights."

Cody even went so far in the letter as to criticize the FBI for conducting a "witch hunt" on anyone who is openly critical of the Obama administration's pro-abortion position.

The fact is that the FBI needs to keep in mind that the U.S. Constitution protects a person's freedom of association, freedom of speech, and free exercise of religion.

Moreover, it is imperative that the FBI adheres to a modus operandi that treats all individuals fairly, and does not try to intimidate them because of their beliefs.

Needless to say, the FBI should not be targeting peaceful pro-life protesters, simply because they are critical of the Obama administration's support of abortions. To target these individuals violates the constitutional rights to which they are entitled.

For the FBI to harass these peaceful protesters is indeed using "Gestapo tactics" that were popular in Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler during World War II.

The United States is a democratic nation that must not use Gestapo tactics. To use these tactics today -- in an effort to silence anti-abortion activists -- contradicts the U.S. Constitution, and serves as an insult to America's founding fathers, who worked so diligently to ensure that they and future generations enjoy their freedom in this great nation.

Black Pastors' Group Opposes Obama's Reelection; Says Backing Gay Marriage May Cause His Defeat

The NBC News website reports today (August 1, 2012) that a group of African-American pastors say that President Barack Obama's backing of gay marriage may cost him the election due to weakening support among black voters.

"He has not done a smart thing and it might cost him the election," Rev. William Owens -- head of the Coalition of African-American Pastors -- said during a prerss conference yesterday at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. "There are more people that want marriage to be right than there are homosexuals," he added.

Although Owens declared that "we are not Democrats, we are not Republicans, this is not a political party," he criticized the president for not denouncing gay marriage.

Owens said the press conference was held to promote the group's Mandate for Marriage, a pledge to support marriage between one man and one woman -- what Owens says will be a national campaign aimed at rallying black Americans to rethink their support of the president.

French Summer Camp Workers Fired for Fasting; Told Dawn to Dusk Fast Endangered Kids' Safety

The Europe News website reports today (August 1, 2012) that tensions between French authorities and the country's Islamic community heated up yesterday, after it emerged that four summer camp instructors had been fired for fasting during Ramadan.

The four had been employed temporarily by the town of Genevilliers in the Paris suburbs to help run a summer holiday sports camp in southwestern France.

They were dismissed on July 20 -- the first day of  Islamic observance of Ramadan -- after an inspector visited the camp and told them they were endangering children's safety by not eating or drinking between dawn and dusk.

Although they were fully paid for the week they had remaining on their short-term contracts, the instructors plan to contest their dismissal in the courts as "an attack on religious freedom."