Sunday, September 30, 2012

Germany's Bishops Tell Catholics "Pay to Pray;" Warn Rel.Tax Must Be Paid to Have Sacrament

In a religious dilemma that has been referred to by the humorous phrase "pay to pray," Germany's Roman Catholic bishops have warned the faithful that dodging religious taxes can exclude them from church activities such as baptisms and funerals, the Big News Network website reports today (September 30, 2012).

Religious taxes are paid in Germany as a percentage of income to support churches and synagogues, and the tight European economy has prompted an increasing number of Germans to drop out of their churches to avoid the tax.

That has not set well with the bishops, who said in an official decree that not paying the taxes was "a serious mistake."

The decree will be followed up by a form letter that will be sent to unofficially lapsed Catholics, reminding them they have to be all in if they want to take advantage of the church's sacraments.

Vatican Paper: "Jesus Wife" Document Is a Fake; Coptic Scholar Says Papyrus Not from Excavation

A Vatican City newspaper has asserted that a controversial ancient document -- which hints that Jesus may have been married -- is a fabrication, the Christian Post website reports today (September 30, 2012).

LOsservatore Romano ran an article by Alberto Camplani -- a leading scholar of Coptic documents -- who said that the Coptic papyrus recently unveiled and implying that Jesus was married is a fake.

"The papyrus was not discovered in the process of excavation, but came from an antiquarian market," wrote Camplani.

He added, "Such an object demands that numerous precautions be taken to establish its reliability and exclude the possibility of forgery."

Saturday, September 29, 2012

COMMENTARY: Judge Should Not Have Allowed Hateful Anti-Muslim Subway Ads

A woman was arrested in New York City this week for defacing a poster in the city's subway that compares Muslims to "savages."

Mona Eltahawy -- an Egyptian-American Muslim -- was arrested by New York police, and faces a court trial for spray-painting on the ad.

The ad has the support of the pro-Israeli group American Freedom Defense Initiative and reads: "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad."

Originally, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) refused to post the "savage" ad, because it considered the ad to be hateful; however, a court ruling forced the MTA to post it because failure to do so violates freedom of speech.

While we are strong supporters of freedom of speech, we believe the ad is too hateful to be posted in the New York subway -- or anywhere else for that matter.

It would not surprise me one iota if the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) -- or other American Islamic group -- soon retaliates by placing an anti-Israeli ad in the New York subway.

For example, the pro-Islam ad could say, "In a conflict between a group seeking to regain its true homeland and a country that seized it, support the group seeking its bona fide land. Support Palestine. Defeat land-seizers."

The fact is that neither one of the two hateful situations described above should occur in our society. Indeed, the judge who authorized the pro-Israeli ad -- due to the right of freedom of speech -- must have been wearing "blinders," since he failed to see that freedom of speech does not justify hateful messages against a religious or ethnic group of people.

All in all, the decision of the judge to allow this hateful ad to be posted on the new York City subway walls conveys a sad message; namely, that a person or group can insult another person or group without any limitation, because of the freedom of speech to which Americans are entitled.

In the final analysis, such freedom of speech -- which has no limitation in defaming individuals or groups of people -- is a good example of why the American judicial system has become a failure in our society.

US Warns Americans in Egypt of Terrorist Threat; Says Terrorists Targeting US Female Missionaries

The U.S. Embassy in Cairo issued a terrorist threat warning yesterday for American citizens living in Egypt, the Times of Israel website reports today (September 29, 2012).

The diplomatic mission stated on its website that it has "credible information suggesting terrorist interest in targeting U.S. female missionaries in Egypt."

The embassy urged U.S. citizens to "exercise vigilance, taking necessary precautions to maintain their personal security."

Americans in Egypt were also advised to maintain valid travel documents and to regularly monitor the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which lists updated travel warnings and alerts.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Pope's Butler Is on Trial, Faces 4 Years in Prison; Stole Vat.Personal Papers,Leaked Them to Media

Pope Benedict's former butler, Paolo Gabriele -- who said he saw himself as a whistle-blowing "agent of the Holy Spirit" -- goes on trial tomorrow (September 29, 2012) in one of the most embarrassing episodes in Vatican history, according to the Reuters website.

The trial of the 46-year-old man -- who served the pope his meals and helped him dress -- will take place in the Vatican's little-used tribunal.

A three-judge panel will decide the fate of Gabriele, whom the pope used to call "Paoletto" (little Paul) and who is now described in Vatican documents as "the defendant."

Gabriele is accused of stealing the pontiff's personal papers and leaking them to the media in what he claims was an attempt to clean up corruption at the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church. The trial could result in a prison sentence of up to four years for Gabriele, and one year for Claudio Sciarpelletti, a computer expert charged with aiding and abetting him.

France Flexes Muscles at Troublesome Muslims; Will Now Expel Those Who Threaten Its Security

France -- which has more Muslims than any other country in Europe -- will now expel any foreigner who threatens security at home or abroad in the name of Islam, or does not respect the country's secular traditions, Interior Minister Manuel Valls said yesterday (September 27, 2012), according to the Expatica website.

"The preachers of  hatred, those espousing obscurantism and fundamentalists... do not have a place in France," he said at a ceremony to inaugurate a grand mosque in the eastern city of Strasbourg.

"Those who are on our soil to defy our laws and want to attack the foundations of our society cannot remain here," Valls added.

The new mosque -- which can hold 1,500 worshipers -- is the largest in France, home of some four million Muslims.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Jack Schaap Pleads Guilty in Fed. Teen Sex Case; Former Baptist Pastor to Serve 10 Years in Prison

Jack Schaap -- the former pastor of First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana -- pleaded guilty in federal court yesterday in a case stemming from his sexual involvement with a 16-year-old girl, the Christian Post website reports today (September 27, 2012).

The former pastor of the 15,000-member church -- which he served for 11 years -- stood accused of having sexual relations with a girl, a parish member who is now 17, and taking her across state lines in Illinois and Michigan for the sexual encounters.

U.S. District Judge Rudy Lozano scheduled the sentencing for January 15, although Schaap, 54, has already signed a plea agreement stating that he faces at least 10 years in prison. He could receive the maximum sentence of life in prison, but that is unlikely, since Schaap's guilty plea -- instead of a non-guilty plea -- plays an important role in reducing the amount of prison time he will be sentenced. 

The married father of two was removed from his position at First Baptist Church last month, after a deacon found a text message on his cell phone that showed Schaap and the girl kissing.

Jewish Cemetery Is Vandalized in Czech Republic; Vandals Tip Over, Break 26 Memorials in Prudice

Unknown vandals have tipped over and broken 26 headstones at a Jewish cemetery in the Czech Republic, the European Jewish Press website reports today (September 27, 2012).

The cemetery -- which is no longer used for burials -- is located in the woods near the village of Prudice, about 40 miles south of Prague.

Police spokesman Miroslav Doubek said, "Police experts on combating extremists are currently investigating motives."

The Jewish cemetery in Prudice -- which dates back to the early 18th century -- contains some 150 tombstones. The last burial there occurred in 1938, prior to World War II and the Holocaust.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

COMMENTARY: NYC Schools Are Wrong in Distributing Morning-After Pills to Students

New York City public schools this month began handing out the morning-after pill to girls as young as 14 under a birth control initiative called CATCH (Connecting Adolescents To Comprehensive Health).

The schools and the girls are not required to tell parents they are taking the morning-after pill, unless parents previously opted out of the program.

The morning-after pill is being distributed to the young girls in order to reduce a plethora of teenage pregnancies. The New York City school system is the only one in the United States to provide its students with morning-after pills.

We believe that the New York City school system is sending a wrong message and has overstepped its bounds in providing this free and secretive service to teenage girls. The fact is that such a service encourages girls to have sexual relations with boys, because the girls know that they can receive the morning-after pill to prevent them from becoming pregnant.

Moreover, it is inappropriate and unethical for schools to distribute these pills to girls -- and doing so without informing the girls' parents -- since such action clearly usurps the authority of the parents in this personal familial domain.

The primary purpose of the American public school is to instill learning and promote thinking in its students. A school was never meant to be be a clearinghouse of birth control supplies for its students, or an institution designed to prevent its girls from becoming pregnant.

Perhaps a court case is in order by a parent of a student opposed to New York City's "right" to secretly distribute morning-after pills to its students. Indeed, the courts may rule that a public school has no business whatsoever to distribute such pills to its students.

Woman Arrested for Defacing NYC Subway Ads; Mona Eltahawy Spray-Painted Ads Against Jihad

Police in New York City arrested Mona Eltahawy -- an Egyptian-American activist -- yesterday, after she defaced posters in the city's subway that compare radical Muslims to "savages," the Global Post website reports today (September 26, 2012).

Eltahawy was held overnight, and is due to be charged shortly with a criminal mischief misdemeanor.

A video shows Eltahawy spray-painting over one of the controversial ads in Times Square station. Two policemen then arrested Eltahawy and led her away in handcuffs.

The ad -- placed in the New York subway this week by anti-Islam blogger Pamela Geller and her American Freedom Defense Initiative -- reads: "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad."

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Greece Sentences 2 Afghan Men to Life in Prison; Murdered Greek Taking Wife to Hospital for Birth

A court in Greece today (September 25, 2012) sentenced two Afghan men to life in prison over the fatal stabbing and robbery of a Greek man that sparked extensive anti-immigrant riots in central Athens, according to the Fox News website.

The Greek court convicted Harodi Han Mamad and Shirzad Neinatullah of the murder of 44-year-old Manolis Kantaris on May 10, 2010, and of stealing his video camera as he was about to drive his pregnant wife to a hospital to give birth.

At least 25 people were hurt in an anti-immigrant rampage by far-right youths two days later.

A wave of xenophobic street attacks occurred in Athens for several days after the fatal stabbing.

NYC Subway Ads Call Enemies of Israel "Savages;" Ads Viewed as "a Slap in the Face to All Muslims"

The New York Police Department increased security at 10 subway stations yesterday, after the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) was forced by a court ruling to install a controversial ad campaign branding enemies of Israel "savages," the New York Post website reports today (September 25, 2012).

The 46- by 30-inch ads -- which the MTA unsuccessfully tried to block -- were pasted onto subway walls throughout the day in heavily trafficked areas, such as Grand Central Station and Times Square.

The American Freedom Defense Initiative -- a pro-Israel group spearheaded by activist Pamela Geller -- paid $36,000 for 30 days of ad space. Many people have criticized the ads as being tasteless and vicious.

Javerea Khan, 22, a Bronx Muslim, said, "I'm appalled at the fact they can use the term 'savage' so easily, and categorize the whole Muslim world under the word 'savage.'" She viewed the ad as "a slap in the face to all Muslims."

Monday, September 24, 2012

NYC Schools Give Morning-After Pill to Students; Aimed at Stemming the Tide of Teenage Pregnancy

New York City is handing out birth control supplies -- including the morning-after pill -- to students at several of its schools under the auspices of a health initiative called CATCH (Connecting Adolescents To Comprehensive Health), the Newser website reports today (September 24, 2012).

Girls as young as 14 do not have to tell their parents they are taking the morning-after pill -- unless parents have previously opted out of the program -- which is aimed at stemming the tide of teenage pregnancy.

This is the first time that hormonal birth control is being offered in any school system in the United States. New York City students will also have access to the quarterly birth control injection Depo-Provera this fall.

Some 7,000 New York City schoolgirls get pregnant by the time they reach the age of 17. More than half of them choose to get an abortion.

Iran Vows to Attack US Bases If Israel Attacks It; Doing So Is Likely to Get Other Nations Involved

A senior commander in Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard is warning that Iran will strike U.S. bases in the Middle East in the event of war with Israel, thus raising the prospect of a broader conflict that would force other countries to get involved, the Associated Press website reports today (September 24, 2012).

The comments by Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh -- who heads the Guard's aerospace division -- came amid tension over Iran's nuclear program, and Israel's determination to strike Iranian nuclear facilities, even if the U.S. is opposed to an Israeli strike.

Hajizadeh said no Israeli attack can occur without its support of the U.S., making all U.S. military bases legitimate targets.

"For this reason, we will enter a confrontation with both parties and will definitely be at war with American bases, should a war break out," Hajizadeh said.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Pakistani Puts $100,000 Bounty on Filmmaker; Knows He Is Committing Crime to Incite Murder

Ghulam Ahmed Bilour -- Pakistan's federal railway minister -- has declared that a $100,000 award will be given to anyone who kills the filmmaker of the anti-Muslim online movie, "Innocence of Muslims," the Washington Times website reports today (September 23, 2012).

Bilour told the media yesterday that there was no other way to lodge a protest and instill fear among the blasphemers other than murder of the filmmaker.

"I request all the rich people to bring out all their money so that the killer can be loaded with dollars and gold," he said.

The railway minister admitted knowing that he was committing a crime by instigating people for murder, but said that he was willing to be a criminal for this cause.

French Govt. Puts Security Forces on High Alert; Arrests Man Seeking to Behead Magazine Editor

A man has been arrested in France on charges of incitement to commit murder, after he called for the beheading of a magazine editor, the Big News Network website reports today (September 23, 2012).

The man was arrested in the city of La Rochelle, after he made comments on a jihadi website suggesting the editor of satirical weekly magazine "Charlie Hebdo" should be decapitated.

The magazine published cartoons last week mocking the prophet Mohammed.

Because of the violent protests occurring across the world against an anti-Islam film made in the United States -- in addition to the anti-Islam cartoons in the magazine in France --  the French government has put its security forces on high alert.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

COMMENTARY: Continued Mockery of Islam or Its Prophet Is Likely to Provoke Worldwide Holy War

A French satirical magazine this week published a series of cartoons mocking the Islamic prophet Muhammad, setting off a wave of outrage among Muslims throughout the Islamic world.

The cartoons -- some of which depict Muhammad naked and in a wheelchair -- appeared in "Charlie Hebdo" magazine.

While we strongly believe in freedom of the press, we also believe that the press has a responsibility not to incite protests or deadly violence -- especially by disseminating a mockery that relates to a prophet or religious hierarch.

France closed its embassies in 20 countries -- as well as its consulates, cultural centers, and schools -- following the publication of the magazine's hateful cartoons, fearing they would spark violence by Muslims.

A week earlier, in the United States, federal authorities identified a Coptic Christian of Egyptian background in California as the key figure behind a secretly-produced anti-Muslim video titled "Innocence of Muslims." This video denigrates the prophet Muhammad and Islam, and caused protests and deadly violence in Egypt, Libya, and Yemen.

In fact, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three other Americans in Libya were killed by Muslims who were enraged by the anti-Islamist video.

This hateful anti-Islamic expression -- by both the French magazine and the American video -- has been responsible for igniting deadly violence in Pakistan, Tunisia, and other predominantly Islamic nations. In Pakistan alone, at least 15 people were killed due to protests against the cartoons and the video.

The United States has indicated that it expects this deadly violence to continue in Islamic countries for another week or two.

Indeed, the United States and other western nations will be fortunate if this violence ends within a couple of weeks. Muslims are, by and large, very enraged by the ridicule against Islam and its prophet Muhammad. It is not something they will forget about in the near future.

Unlike our predominantly Christian society in the United States, Muslims tend to be much more aggressive when their religion is denigrated, and don't think twice about committing a suicide bombing that will kill Christians or damage nations  -- especially Christians and nations that have ridiculed Islam.

The 9/11 Islamic terrorist activities in the United States in 2001 -- the most deadly attacks on the United States in its entire history -- clearly illustrate this Islamic tendency to be extremely aggressive. Moreover, the killing of the American ambassador in Libya and three other Americans in that country this month further confirms that Islamic aggression continues to the present day.

That said, we must conclude that it is a bad idea for a nation -- or an individual for that matter -- to denigrate Islam or its prophet. To continue to do so will only enrage Muslims to retaliate violently, and this scenario -- if it continues to prevail -- will most likely lead to a worldwide holy war.

Rich Seattle Couple Get an 18-Month Prison Term; Got $2,000 a Month for 8 Years in Welfare Fraud

A wealthy chiropractor and his long-time girlfriend are swapping their $1.2 million Seattle, Washington waterfront home for prison, the Daily Mail website reports today (September 22, 2012).

The couple were discovered to be collecting some $2,000-a-month for the past eight years in welfare benefits -- even food stamps -- while living in the luxury property, driving a Jaguar, and traveling the world.

A federal judge sentenced chiropractor David Silverstein, 60, and Lyudmila Shimonova, 53, to 18 months in prison yesterday. Silverstein had been a successful chiropractor in practice for more than 20 years.

Prosecutors say Silverstein pretended he was Shimonova's landlord at a home on Lake Washington that she occupied with her two children. In reality, Silverstein was living there also.

Friday, September 21, 2012

AHA Seeks Removal of Cross-Shaped Memorial; "Govt. Should Not Be in Bus. of Promoting Rel."

A veterans' memorial in the form of a "peace cross" in Bladensburg, Maryland has come under criticism by the American Humanist Association (AHA), which has said the memorial is a "religious symbol" on public land and that the government "should not be in the business of promoting religion," the Cybercast News Service website reports today (September 21, 2012).

"This cross amounts to an unconstitutional government endorsement of Christianity on public land. It is an exclusively Christian symbol that does not represent the sacrifice of non-Christian soldiers. Its prominent presence on public land leaves any observer with the notion that Christianity is exclusively favored and promoted by the government," said Bill Burgess, director of the AHA Legal Center.

AHA recently sent a letter to the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission. The letter cited the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment in its challenge that "the Constitution mandates that the government remain secular, rather than affiliate itself with religious beliefs or institutions."

But Hiram Sasser -- director of litigation for Liberty Institute -- responded to AHA's challenge. "Surely, the Humanists are bluffing. I doubt very seriously this group will even file a lawsuit to disturb the Bladensburg Peace Cross, which has stood for nearly a century as a symbol of the selfless sacrifice and service of the 49 soldiers who paid the ultimate price for the freedom of others during World War I," Sasser said.

Insults of Islam Flare Up Deadly Riots in Pakistan; 15 Killed Today Due to US Video, French Cartoons

Muslim protests against insults to the Prophet Mohammad turned violent in Islamabad, Pakistan, where at least 15 people were killed today (September 21, 2012) -- the Muslim day of prayer -- but remained mostly peaceful in other Islamic countries, according to the Reuters website.

In France -- where the publication of cartoons denigrating Mohammad fueled additional anger over an anti-Islam video made in California -- the authorities banned all protests over the issue.

"There will be strictly no exceptions. Demonstrations will be banned and broken up," said French Interior Minister Manuel Valls.

Tunisia's Islamist-led government also banned protests against the images published this week by the French satirical weekly "Charlie Hebdo." Four people were killed and some 30 wounded last week when the U.S. embassy in Tunis was stormed in a protest over the film.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Abbas Seeks Non-Member UN Status of Palestine; To Address UN on Sept. 27, Confident of Approval

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said yesterday that he will deliver a speech at the General Assembly of the United Nations next week to ask for recognition of Palestine as a non-member state, the Jewish Press website reports today (September 20, 2012).

Abbas' comments -- which were posted on the president's Facebook page -- added that the speech would most likely take place on September 27.

"As in every year, I will tell the whole world about the suffering of my people under the Israeli occupation and its settlements, settler attacks, and violations on a daily basis which contradict the United Nations and international law," the comments said.

Abbas concluded, "We are determined despite all pressure and I am confident that you will all support my request."

Nashville Asks Church to Remove Homeless Tents; City Says Tents on Church Land Break Zoning Law

The city of Nashville is demanding that a church close down its encampment of tents for the homeless on its property, saying that it violates a zoning law, the Christian Post website reports today (September 20, 2012).

Nashville, Tennessee officials told Green Street Church of Christ that the placement of about 10 tents is a zoning violation, but the church maintains that such an encampment is part of their mission to help the poor.

Tom Cross -- an associate director with Nashville's legal division -- said that the tent community falls under the zoning laws regarding camping.

"The Metropolitan Government's zoning laws allow camping only in specific areas, which do not include the church property at issue," said Cross.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

COMMENTARY: Judges Should Use Tact in Presenting Their Oral Summaries

Last week, a female judge in Germany outraged women's rights groups and others, after she told a girl who was raped at the age of 15, "You could have run away."

Judge Luise Nunning found a 31-year-old convicted man -- who is currently serving three and a half years in prison for assaulting a girlfriend -- not guilty of raping the girl in Essen, Germany.

The teenager told the court that the attack happened during a party at the defendant's home.

We agree with the women's rights groups that the judge was wrong -- even heartless -- in criticizing the girl for not having run away from the rapist. Indeed, by making such a statement, the judge is implying that the girl did not run away because she wanted to be raped.

Moreover, such a comment by the judge makes the plaintiff -- in this case, the teenage girl -- appear to be the defendant by provoking the rapist.

If the judge believed that the girl did not try to separate herself from the rapist -- as the judge apparently did believe by finding the defendant not guilty -- that is all right. But the judge crossed the line when she insulted the girl by telling her she could have run away.

The fact is that judges need to use tact as they present their oral summaries to the court. For a judge to unnecessarily insult a plaintiff -- or to make a plaintiff appear to be a defendant -- in an oral summary is a sad way for justice to be carried out in a court of law.

French Mag. Runs Cartoons Mocking Muhammad; France Closes 20 Embassies, Fears Muslim Furor

A French satirical magazine today (September 19, 2012) published a series of cartoons mocking the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, setting off a new wave of outrage among Muslims and condemnation from French leaders amid widening unrest over an amateur video that has provoked violence throughout the Islamic world, according to the New York Times website.

The illustrations -- some of which depict Muhammad naked and in a wheelchair -- hit newsstands across the country today and were met with a swift rebuke from the government of Francois Hollande, which had earlier urged the magazine, "Charlie Hebdo," not to publish the cartoons, particularly in the current tense environment.

"In France, there is a principle of freedom of expression, which should not be undermined," Laurent Fabius, the foreign minister, said in a French radio interview.

In the interview on France Info Radio, Fabius announced that -- as a precaution of Muslim violence -- France planned to close its embassies in 20 countries on Friday (September 21), the Muslim day of prayer, which has become an occasion for many to express their anger, although "no threats have been made against any institutions." A French Foreign Ministry spokesman said the closings would affect French consulates, cultural centers, and schools as well.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Islam-Hater Terry Jones Cannot Visit Germany; He'd "Run Counter to Maintaining Public Order"

American hate preacher Terry Jones -- a Koran burner and a supporter of the anti-Islam video "Innocence of Muslims" -- is banned from traveling to Germany, the Europe News website reports today (September 18, 2012).

A spokesman for the German Interior Ministry said that a visit by Jones would "run counter to the interest of maintaining public order."

The ban came in response to information that German far-right groups -- such as Pro Deutschland and Pro NRW (North Rhine-Westphalia) -- planned to invite the radical American preacher to Germany in the coming days.

Sources said that German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle believes "hate preachers have no business being in Germany."

Record No. of Americans Collect Federal Disability; 8,786,049 Americans Received Payments in Sept.

The Social Security Administration has released new data revealing that 8,786,049 American workers are collecting federal disability insurance payments in September.

That number sets a record for the number of Americans on disability, the Cybercast News Service website reports today (September 18, 2012).

The 8,786,049 workers taking federal disability in September is a net increase of 18,108 from the 8,767,941 workers who took federal disability in August.

Over the past 45 years, the number of American workers taking federal disability payments has increased four-fold relative to the number actually working.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Romania to Reward Informers on Tax Evasion; Loses Millions of Euros a Year on Unpaid Taxes

The tax authority in cash-stripped Romania -- the most corrupt country in Europe -- is planning to offer financial rewards to people who denounce individuals or companies for tax evasion, the Balkan Insight website reports today (September 17, 2012).

"The idea is based on the informer system in Sweden, whereby people are encouraged and rewarded to give information about the wealth of their neighbors and companies," the Finance Ministry's state secretary, Liviu Voinea, said.

Voinea added that the U.S. Internal Revenue Service uses a similar system, which offers a reward of 30 percent of the recovered amount.

Romania is under pressure to reform its tax system and increase the tax intake, since the country is losing millions of euros a year in unpaid taxes.

Woman Heads AF Base Training Due to Sex Taint; Six Male Instructors Accused of Raping Females

The Air Force has chosen a woman to lead its basic training unit at a Texas base where scores of female recruits have alleged they were sexually assaulted or harassed by male instructors within the past year, the Washington Times website reports today (September 17, 2012).

Col. Deborah Liddick is taking command of the 737th Training Group this week, bringing a distinctly new face of authority to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. Six male instructors have been charged with crimes ranging from rape to adultery, while several other instructors are still under investigation.

The Air Force announced Col. Liddick's appointment in a statement that did not mention the sex scandal -- or highlight choosing a woman for the first time to lead the unit -- in which the number of women identified by military investigators as potential victims is 40.

About one in five recruits at Lackland is a woman, while most instructors are men. Lackland is where every new American airman reports for basic training, and graduates about 35,000 each year.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Irish Tourist Uses Knife to Rob Bakery of Cannoli; Occurred in Boston, Ordered to Yield His Passport

A tourist from Ireland has been arrested in Boston for attempting to rob a bakery with a knife, the Irish Central website reports today (September 16, 2012).

Robert McTernan, 25, of Newbridge, Ireland had just landed in Boston for a two-week holiday when the incident occurred.

McTernan entered the bakery in a largely Italian neighborhood in Boston, grabbed a knife, and demanded a cannoli from an employee.

The employee at Bova's Bakery handed him the cannoli and called police, who found McTernan and arrested him. He was ordered to surrender his passport while awaiting a court trial.

Pope Asks Arab Leaders for Peace in Middle East; Celebrates Mass in Lebanon Attended by 350,000

Pope Benedict XVI today (September 16, 2012) urged Arab leaders -- at a huge open-air mass in Lebanon -- to work for reconciliation in a Middle East battered by Syria's civil war and blazing with fury over a film mocking the Muslim Prophet Mohammad, according to the Reuters website.

"May God grant to your country, to Syria, and to the Middle East , the gift of peaceful hearts, the silencing of weapons, and the cessation of all violence," the pope said in a prayer after a mass that organizers said was attended by 350,000 people.

Activists say more than 27,000 people have been killed in Syria's 18-month-old, mainly Sunni Muslim uprising against President Bashar al-Assad and the Shi'ite Muslims.

Peace between warring factions and among the many religious groups in the Middle East has been a central theme of the pope's visit to Lebanon, along with his call to Christians not to leave the region despite war and growing pressure from radical Islamists.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

COMMENTARY: Obama's Failure to Terminate Sebelius for Violating Hatch Act Could Cost Him Re-Election

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) revealed this week that Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius violated the Hatch Act when she publicly endorsed President Barack Obama's re-election during a taxpayer-funded public event on February 25, 2012.

Violating the Hatch Act is a federal crime -- and mandates that the offender be terminated from government employment.

However, the White House -- in response to the OSC's revelation -- said, "The U.S. Treasury has been reimbursed, and Secretary Sebelius has met with ethics experts to ensure this never happens again."

In other words, President Obama has decided to give Sebelius a weak "slap on the wrist" instead of terminating her, as he is required to do by the Hatch Act.

We believe that President Obama needs to terminate Sebelius as HHS secretary, in order to comply with the Hatch Act that she has violated. Otherwise, the Hatch Act becomes a mockery that can be ignored when it is violated by a strong supporter of a president.

As Dan Epstein -- president of the government watchdog group Cause of Action -- said, President Obama "has decided to overlook the improper political activities of his appointees when in their official capacities. He has effectively said it is OK to politicize the executive branch."

Indeed, failing to terminate Sebelius as HHS secretary may have a significant negative impact on President Obama's chances of re-election.

With the presidential election just two months away, you can be sure that the Republicans will take advantage of President Obama's refusal to terminate Sebelius -- as required by the Hatch Act -- and this serious neglect of presidential action may well be the deciding factor of whether or not Barack Obama is re-elected president.

Al-Qaida Lauds Killing of US Libyan Ambassador; Calls on Protesters to Set Fires to US Embasies

Al-Qaida's branch in Yemen has praised the killing of the U.S. ambassador in Libya and called for more attacks to expel American embassies from Muslim nations, the Christian Broadcast Network website reports today (September 15, 2012).

The statement -- posted today on Islamic militant websites -- suggested al-Qaida was trying to fuel the wave of angry protests in the Muslim world over a film produced in the United States denigrating the Prophet Muhammad.

Al-Qaida in the Arabian peninsula said the killing this week of Ambassador Chris Stevens in an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was "the best example" for those attacking embassies.

It said protesters' aim should be to "expel the embassies of America from the lands of the Muslims" and called on protests to continue in Muslim nations "to set the fires blazing at these embassies."

Calif. Man Believed to Be Behind Anti-Islam Film; Coptic Christian Produced "Innocence of Muslims"

Federal authorities have identified a Coptic Christian of Egyptian background in southern California -- who is on probation as a result of his conviction two years ago for financial crimes -- as the key figure behind the anti-Muslim film that has ignited mob violence against U.S. embassies across the Middle East, the Big News Network website reports today (September 15, 2012).

A U.S. law enforcement official -- who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the investigation -- said authorities had concluded that Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, was the central figure behind the production of "Innocence of Muslims," a film that denigrated Islam and the prophet Muhammad, and sparked protests this week in Egypt, Libya, and Yemen.

Nakoula is believed to be the primary target of an investigation into the deaths of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Libya during a terrorist attack.

In 2010, Nakoula was convicted of federal bank fraud in California and ordered to pay more than $790,000 in restitution. He was also sentenced to 21 months in federal prison and is currently on probation.

American actors who appeared in "Innocence of Muslims" issued a joint statement this week, saying they were misled about the film and that some of their dialogue was crudely dubbed and changed during post-production.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Pope Arrives in Lebanon as "a Pilgrim of Peace;" Rips Fundamentalism as "a Falsification of Rel."

Pope Benedict XVI appealed for peace and reconciliation among religions today (September 14, 2012), as violence over an anti-Islam movie spilled over into Lebanon within hours of his arrival in the tumultuous region, according to the Associated Press website.

The pope flew into Lebanon for a three-day visit despite the recent unrest  -- including civil war in neighboring Syria, a mob attack that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans in Libya, and a string of violent protests across the Middle East -- stemming from the film, produced in the United States, which insults Islam.

"I have come to Lebanon as a pilgrim of peace," the 85-year-old pope said upon arriving in Beirut, speaking under a canopy at the airport on a sultry afternoon. "As a friend of God and as a friend of men."

The pope also denounced religious fundamentalism in his speech at the airport, calling it "a falsification of religion." He was welcomed by top leaders, including the Lebanese president, prime minister, and parliament speaker, as well as Christian and Muslim religious leaders.

Judge Upsets Women's Rights Groups in Germany; Told Girl Raped at 15: "You Could Have Run Away"

A female judge has outraged women's rights groups in Germany after telling a girl who was raped when she was a 15-year-old schoolgirl: "You could have run away," the Austrian Times website reports today (September 14, 2012).

Judge Luise Nunning found a 31-year-old convicted thug -- who is now serving three and a half years behind bars for assaulting a girlfriend -- not guilty of raping the girl in Essen, Germany three years ago.

"You did not make it clear that you did not want sex, and you could have run away," she said.

The teenager told the court that the attack happened during a party at the defendant's home. The judge's decision and comments have infuriated women's group leaders in Germany.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Exclusive: Monica Lewinsky Seeks Book Publisher; Book Believed to Depict Her Affair with Bill Clinton

Monica Lewinsky -- the former White House intern whose sexual relations with President Bill Clinton almost derailed his presidency -- is shopping for a top-secret book project, the New York Post reports exclusively today (September 13, 2012).

Lewinsky, now 39, has been making the rounds with major publishers, who were all asked to sign nondisclosure agreements to take the meetings. It is believed that the book she plans to publish depicts in detail the affair she had with President Clinton.

Lewinsky -- who sparked the 1998 Bill Clinton scandal -- has given past interviews, but has kept a very low profile since leaving for England in 2005 for the London School of Economics. She has never been married.

Lewinsky's rep said yesterday, "I cannot comment on anything at this point."

HHS Secretary Sebelius Violated The Hatch Act; Requires Termination But Obama Takes No Action

The Obama White House is offering special treatment to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in the wake of the news yesterday afternoon that President Barack Obama's cabinet official violated the Hatch Act -- activity that is illegal and normally results in the offender's termination from government employment, the Daily Caller website reports today (September 13, 2012).

White House spokesman Eric Schultz -- in responding to the revelation that Sebelius violated the Hatch Act -- said, "The U.S. Treasury has been reimbursed, and Secretary Sebelius has met with ethics experts to ensure this never happens again."

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) said yesterday that Sebelius violated the law when she publicly endorsed President Barack Obama's re-election during a taxpayer-funded public event on February 25, 2012.

Dan Epstein -- the president of the government watchdog group Cause of Action -- said "that by close of business on September 12, 2012, the president has been informed of a Hatch Act violation and yet has decided not to fire Sebelius. The president has therefore decided to overlook the improper political activities of his appointees when in their official capacities. He has effectively said it is OK to politicize the executive branch."

It is unclear what punishment Sebelius will face, as Obama has to decide. But according to law firm Tully Rinckey PLLC (Professional Limited Liability Company), when federal employees violate the Hatch Act, the standard punishment is termination.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

COMMENTARY: Richest Man in France Has a Right to Switch His Citizenship to Belgium

Bernard Arnault -- the richest man in France and the world's fourth wealthiest -- has applied for Belgian citizenship, in an effort to avoid paying a new 75 percent tax on incomes above one million euros in France.

Although Belgian law requires applicants for citizenship to have had at least three years of residency in Belgium, Arnault will probably not be subject to this requirement, because he has owned a home in Brussels, Belgium for many years.

Arnault's desire to obtain Belgian citizenship has been criticized by many people in France, who fear that this is just a first step to his future financial exile in France.

France's "Liberation" newspaper made fun of Arnault's decision to obtain Belgian citizenship by printing a headline on its front page titled "Get Lost, You Rich Idiot." Arnault is suing the the newspaper for printing this epithet, claiming it is vulgar and violent.

We believe that Arnault has the right to obtain citizenship in Belgium in order to pay less taxes; however, such a change in citizenship should mean that he will lose the benefits that accompany being a citizen in France.

In other words, Arnault -- regardless of how much money he has -- must not be a citizen of France and a citizen of Belgium simultaneously. He can be a citizen of one country or the other, but not both.

As for suing the "Liberation" newspaper for printing "Get Lost, You Rich Idiot," it appears that Arnault does not have much of a case.

The fact is that newspapers have freedom of the press, so they may criticize public officials and prominent people.

True, newspapers can be sued for libel -- that is, damaging a person's character by defamatory printing or images -- but that does not appear to be the case in this situation.

We believe that the "Liberation" is simply printing a humorous epithet of Arnault because of  his decision to "betray" his native country.

France's Wealthiest Man Sues "Liberation" Paper; Printed "Get Lost, You Rich Idiot" on Front Page

France's richest man -- billionaire Bernard Arnault -- has come under fire from all quarters for his controversial decision to apply for Belgian nationality, in order to avoid paying a planned 75 percent wealth tax in France this year,  the France 24 website reports today (September 12, 2012).

The decision by the 63-year-old head of the Louis Vuitton, Moet and Hennessy luxury goods empire to seek Belgian citizenship, has been seen by some as a first step to his future financial exile from France. It is an accusation Arnault has strongly denied.

Nonetheless, his decision has provoked a furious reaction in the press and among politicians. The "Liberation" newspaper -- in objecting to his decision to seek Belgian nationality --  printed a front-page story on Arnault on September 10 with the headline "Get Lost, You Rich Idiot."

Arnault's lawyers today announced that he was suing "Liberation" for public insult over the headline, calling it vulgar and violent. "Bernard Arnault has no other choice, given the extreme vulgarity and brutality," a statement from the billionaire's lawyers read.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Obama Denies Israeli PM's Call to Meet with Him; Says "Schedule Will Not Permit" Meeting with PM

In a highly unusual rebuff to America's closest ally in the Middle East, the White House said today (September 11, 2012) that President Barack Obama would not meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a U.S. visit later this month, as tensions between the U.S. and Israel escalated over how to deal with Iran's nuclear program, according to the Reuters website.

Obama's snub -- coupled with Netanyahu's sharpened demands for a tougher U.S. line against Iran -- threatened to plunge U.S.-Israeli relations into crisis and add pressure to Obama in the final stretch of a tight presidential election campaign.

An Israeli official said the White House had refused Netanyahu's request to meet Obama when the Israeli leader visits the U.S. to attend the U.N General Assembly, telling the Israelis "the president's schedule will not permit that."

By withholding a meeting, Obama could alienate some Jewish and pro-Israel voters as he seeks a second term in the November 6 election. Republican rival Mitt Romney has already accused Obama of being too tough on Israel and not hard enough on Iran.

Many international affairs analysts consider current U.S.-Israeli relations to be the worst they have been since Israel became an independent nation in 1948.

Gay Couple Sues Cath. Diocese in Worcecster, MA; Fears Selling Gays Mansion Will OK Gay Weddings

A gay couple is suing the Catholic church in Massachusetts for refusing to sell them a mansion out of concern that they would host same-sex weddings at the site, the Guardian (British) website reports today (September 11, 2012).

James Fairbanks and Alain Beret filed their discrimination lawsuit against the Catholic diocese of Worcester in the county's superior court yesterday.

They allege that they were in negotiations to buy Oakhurst -- a former retreat center in Northbridge -- when church officials suddenly pulled out due to the possibility of same-sex marriage ceremonies being held there.

Fairbanks and Beret said they inadvertently received an email sent from Thomas Sullivan -- chancellor of the diocese of Worcester -- to the church's broker. In the email, Sullivan said he did not want to sell the mansion to the pair because of the "potentiality of gay marriages" being held there.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Toronto Dad Files a Lawsuit Against School Board; Wants to Know of Lessons Against Kids' Rel. Faith

A Toronto dentist and father of two elementary school children has launched a court battle against the local public school board, accusing education officials of refusing to accommodate his Christian beliefs on marriage, family, and sexuality, the C News (Canadian) website reports today (September 10, 2012).

Steve Tourloukis said he believes the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board attempts to accommodate parents of other faiths, including Muslims and Jehovah's Witnesses. Tourloukis said he is supportive of these other families, but he wants the same treatment.

School officials will not agree to his requests that he be advised in advance of any lessons that might contradict his family's Greek Orthodox beliefs and be allowed to remove his children from class if  he considers it appropriate, he said.

Tourloukis' lawyer, Albertos Polizogopoulos, said that he filed court papers on September 7 that seek no money, but would impel the school board to accommodate the family's faith.

Pope Benedict to Visit Lebanon to Promote Peace; He Begins a Three-Day Visit to Beirut on Sept. 14

Pope Benedict XVI characterized his nearing trip to Beirut, Lebanon -- right next door to Syria's civil war --  as a pilgrimage for peace for the entire Middle East region and its anguished people, the Washington Times website reports today (September 10, 2012).

Benedict told pilgrims at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo near Rome yesterday that while finding solutions for the Middle East's problems seems difficult, people "shouldn't resign themselves to violence or worsening tensions."

He noted that during his three-day visit to the Lebanese capital -- which begins September 14 -- he would meet with Lebanese authorities as well as Christians from Lebanon and other nearby countries.

"My apostolic voyage in Lebanon, and by extension in the Middle East in its entirety, comes under the sign of peace," Benedict said.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

France's Richest Man Seeks Belgian Citizenship; Due to France's Plan to Impose 75% Wealth Tax

Bernard Arnault -- the richest man in France and the world's fourth wealthiest -- has applied for Belgian citizenship, as Paris moves to impose a 75 percent tax on incomes above one million euros, the France 24 website reports today (September 9, 2012).

The 63-year-old billionaire head of the LVMH luxury goods empire filed an application with parliament last week to become a naturalized Belgian citizen, a senior Belgian official said.

"The file will be treated the same as all the others," Georges Dallemagne -- the head of Belgium's naturalization commission -- said. He added, "We currently have 47,000 before us."

Belgian legislation requires applicants for citizenship to have had at least three years of residency in Belgium. Arnault lives in Paris, but also owns a home in Brussels, Belgium.

COMMENTARY: Northeastern University President Joseph Aoun Was Correct in Firing Terrorist-Supporting Chaplain

Northeastern University -- the largest university in Boston and the fourth largest private university in the nation -- has terminated Abdullah Faaruuq as the chaplain of the Islamic Society of Northeastern University (ISNU), because of his Islamic radicalism and his support of convicted Islamic terrorists.

A new video released by the Americans for Peace and Tolerance (APT) shows Faaruuq supporting convicted Islamic terrorists and inciting Boston Muslims against the U.S. government. After viewing the video, Northeastern President Joseph Aoun terminated Faaruug's relationship with the university.

Having seen the APT video on the Internet, we agree that President Aoun made the right decision in terminating Faaruuq.

Faaruuq is shown on the video supporting -- and even praising -- several convicted Islamic terrorists. He says that the U.S. government never should have arrested them.

He even invites a Jewish speaker -- who is anti-Semitic -- to address the ISNU. This speaker condemns American Jews because they are "the wealthiest ethnic-religious group in the United States" and they control most of America's money.

Faaruuq -- who served as Northeastern's Islamic chaplain for the past 15 years -- has had a significant negative impact on the ISNU, as several Northeastern graduates have gone to prison as a result of their terrorist activities.

One example of this impact is the case of a recent Northeastern physics graduate from Ashland, Massachusetts who planned to use drones (unmanned planes operated by remote control) filled with explosives and crashing them into the Pentagon and Capitol buildings in Washington, D.C. this year. The APT video indicates that this student was into music -- rather than terrorism -- but after attending ISNU meetings, Faaruuq's Islamic radicalism had an impact on him by his senior year.

All in all, President Aoun must be commended for terminating Faaruuq's relationship with Northeastern, since the radical Muslim chaplain was a bad influence on Northeastern students.

President Aoun needs to ensure that the new chaplain of the ISNU is one who is not a radical Islamist or a supporter of terrorists.  Then -- and only then -- will Northeastern Muslim students receive the guidance they deserve to interact harmoniously with each other and with other students, as a prelude to graduating and then serving as stellar role models to help improve our society.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Iran Now Has Secret Hezbollah Base in Nicaragua; It Is Designed to Attack U.S. If Israel Attacks Iran

Determined to carry out its threat to strike the United States if attacked by Israel, Iran has secretly established a Hezbollah terrorist training base in northern Nicaragua in Central America, the Washington Times website reports today (September 8, 2012).

Terrrorists are being trained at the base to attack U.S. and Israeli targets in the event of a raid on Iranian nuclear installations as called for by Israel, according to a report quoting the Nicaraguan media.

Some 30 members of the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terrorist organization are stationed at the base, located near the border with Honduras.

The area has been blocked off to local residents, and all supplies are being shipped in daily from Tehran.

Iran Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani Is Acquitted Today; Faced Hanging for Apostasy, Is Home with Family

Youcef Nadarkhani -- the Iranian pastor who captured the hearts of millions of people as he stood firm in his Christian faith while facing execution -- was acquitted of apostasy today (September 8, 2012), according to the Christian Post website.

Nadarkhani -- who had been threatened with being hung if he did not convert to Islam -- went on trial early today and was set free. He is now at his home with his family.

"Thank you to everyone that has supported me with your prayers," Nadarkhani said, after being freed.

Although he was acquitted of apostasy, the Iranian pastor was found guilty of evangelizing Muslims. He was sentenced to three years in prison for that, but the sentence was canceled because he already served three years in prison.

Friday, September 7, 2012

French Teen Who Wore Islamic Veil Has Hearing; She Bit Policewoman Seeking Her Identity Papers

A French prosecutor yesterday sought a six-month suspended sentence at a hearing for a teenager who sported the Islamic veil -- which is banned in public in France -- and bit a policewoman in July, the Europe News website reports today (September 7, 2012).

Louise-Marie Suisse, 18, turned up for the hearing in a full-body niqab but with her face uncovered, and wearing gloves.

Suisse was stopped by two police officers near a mosque in the center of Marseille in late July. She was wearing a full-face veil and refused to cooperate with police, when asked to produce identity papers. She eventually bit one of them.

At yesterday's hearing Suisse said she was "attacked" by the police, and added that "they told me, take off this rubbish."

Northeastern University Fires a Muslim Chaplain; Abdullah Faaruuq Supported Convicted Terrorists

Northeastern University has fired Abdullah Faaruuq from his position as the school's Muslim chaplain, as a result of a new video showing him supporting "convicted Islamist terrorists, and as a religious leader who is inciting Boston Muslims against the U.S. government," the Creeping Sharia website reports today (September 7, 2012).

Northeastern has not issued a statement about Faaruuq's departure, but his Northeastern web page has been taken down.

"The dismissal of Chaplain Faaruuq by President Joseph Aoun is commendable," said Charles Jacobs -- president of Americans for Peace and Tolerance -- in a news release. The group issued the new video and has long chronicled Faaruuq's actions.

"Leaving Faaruuq in place would have meant a continual betrayal of Muslim parents who may not be aware that their children are being radicalized on its campus," Jacobs added.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

School Teacher in Turkey Is Sentenced to Prison; Due to His Likening Turkish PM Erdogan to Hitler

A military school teacher in Istanbul, Turkey has been sentenced to one year in prison for likening Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Germany's Adolf Hitler, the Hurriyet Daily News (Turkish) website reports today (September 6, 2012).

The court found Oktay Zaif -- who showed footage of speeches by Hitler and Erdogan during class hours -- guilty of "politically aiming to distance military students from Prime Minister Erdogan and his party."

Zaif, however, claimed he was unaware of the content of the video, and turned it off when he heard the prime minister's voice.

"I downloaded the video from the Internet because it was related to World War II," Zaif said. "I discovered the content on the prime minister after it began playing. I turned it off then."

Vienna Police Ignore Nazi Verbal Abuse on Rabbi; Said "Heil Hitler" and "Get Lost You Bloody Jew"

Police are now investigating after a Neo Nazi made Nazi Salutes and Heil Hitler comments to a Jewish rabbi in the Austrian capital of Vienna, the Austrian Times website reports today (September 6, 2012).

A man was seen and heard making Nazi comments such as "Heil Hitler" and "Get lost you bloody Jew."

Three policemen -- who were just meters away from the Neo Nazi -- just ignored him.

When the rabbi asked the policemen if they were going to take any action against the man, the officers said they would not. The rabbi then went along to officially report the incident at police headquarters.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

COMMENTARY: Brazil's Recognition of Three-Person Civil Unions Conveys Disrespect for Christianity

It was revealed this week that two women and one man have entered into a civil union in Sao Paulo, Brazil in a legally recognized ceremony, thus making Brazil the first and only nation in the world to legally conduct a three-person "marriage."

Brazil's acceptance of the three-person civil union is a by-product of that nation's decision to extend civil partnerships to same-sex couples.

A public notary in Sao Paulo -- who authorized Brazil's first three-person civil union -- said she saw nothing in the law that prevents such an arrangement. She even went so far as to say "what we considered a family before isn't necessarily what we consider a family today."

We disagree with Sao Paulo's public notary, as we believe that marriage -- or a civil union, for that matter -- should be a union of one man and one woman.

Moreover, we believe that conducting a civil union ceremony of three or more people must be considered polygamy.

Indeed, Brazil's decision to recognize a three-person civil union conveys a disrespect for Christianity and the traditional family.

Sadly, an ecclesiastical stigma now pervades Brazil, despite the fact that Brazil -- which has more Roman  Catholic Christians than any other country in the world -- had been viewed by many theologians as one of the most religious countries in all of Latin America.

By recognizing three-person civil unions, Brazil has lost much of the moral and spiritual respect it once commanded as a leading  Christian nation. And for that degrading plight, Brazil has no one to blame but itself.

Record 46.7M Americans Use Govt. Food Stamps; They Are Now the Biggest USDA Annual Expense

The latest government report shows that a record 46.7 million Americans are now using the government assistance food stamp program, the Christian Broadcast Network website reports today (September 5, 2012).

"Too many middle-class families who have fallen on hard times are still struggling," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said yesterday.

"Our goal is to get these families the temporary assistance they need so they are able to get through these tough times and back on their feet as soon as possible," he added.

Food stamp spending is the biggest annual expense of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) with a record allotment of $75.7 billion as of September 30, 2011. Earlier this year, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich -- during his bid for the Republican presidential nomination -- nicknamed President Barack Obama "the food stamp president."

Fr. Groeschel Steps Down from EWTN's TV Show; Due to Saying That Minors Often Seduce Priests

Franciscan friar Father Benedict Groeschel has stepped down as host of EWTN's Sunday Night Prime television show, following his apology for making comments about the sexual abuse of minors, the Catholic News Agency website reports today (September 5, 2012).

Fr. Groeschel decided to step down from the program after consulting with EWTN and with his religious community, the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, according to Michael Warsaw, president and CEO of EWTN Catholic Network.

In a National Catholic Register interview -- which was published on August 27 -- Fr. Groeschel suggested that a minor is "the seducer" in "a lot" of sexual abuse cases. He said he was inclined to think that abusers on their first offense should not go to jail "because their intention was not committing a crime."

Fr. Groeschel apologized for the remarks last week, saying he did not intend to "blame the victim." He affirmed that a priest -- or anyone else who abuses a minor -- is "always wrong" and "always responsible."

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

NJ Teacher Arrested for Having Sex with Student; Erica DePalo, 33, Is Being Held on $100,000 Bail

Erica DePalo, 33, has been arrested in Montclair, New Jersey for allegations she carried on an affair with a 15-year-old student in her classes, the Inquisitr website reports today (September 4, 2012).

DePalo was arrested on August 31 after the allegations came to light and subsequently suspended from her job at West Orange High School.

DePalo was charged with first-degree aggravated sexual assault, second-degree sexual assault, and endangering the welfare of a child after it was alleged she was sleeping with the 15-year-old student in her advanced-level English class. 

After her arrest for having sex with the underage student, DePalo's bail was set at $100,000.

Brussels Apologizes for Helping Nazis in WW II; Some 25,000 Belgian Jews Sent to Auschwitz

City officials in Brussels, Belgium have officially apologized for collaborating with German forces to round up thousands of Jews to be sent to Nazi death camps during World War II, the Austrian Times website reports today (September 4, 2012).

Brussels' wartime leaders had provided the German invaders with a register of some 6,000 Jewish citizens, by giving their names and addresses. 

Nazi troops went on to deport an estimated 25,000 Belgian Jews to Auschwitz concentration camp, where fewer than 1,200 survived.

Brussels Mayor Freddy Thielemans said: "I want to officially extend apologies in the name of the City of Brussels to the Jewish community."

Poll: Most Americans Are Worse Off Under Obama; Majority Asserts He Does Not Deserve Reelection

A new poll -- conducted for the online journal "The Hill" -- indicates that a majority of American voters think that the United States is worse off now than it was four years ago when President Barack Obama was elected, the Spero Forum website reports today (September 4, 2012).

This majority asserts that President Obama does not deserve to be reelected president.

The poll says that 52 percent of likely voters says the country is in "worse condition" now than in September 2008, while 54 percent say President Obama does not deserve reelection based solely on his job performance.

The poll -- conducted by Pulse Opinion Research and concluded on September 2 -- found that only 31 percent of voters believe the U.S. is in "better condition," while 15 percent say it is "about the same."

Monday, September 3, 2012

Penn. Man Grows Marijuana on Church's Property; Jason Como Arrested in Grove City for Growing It

Police say a western Pennsylvania man has been arrested for growing marijuana on a church's property, the Associated Press website reports today (September 3, 2012).

State police arrested 28-year-old Jason Como of Grove City on September 1, after the Beloved Disciples Church pastor reported that two suspected marijuana plants were growing on the property. The church is located about 60 miles north of Pittsburgh.

Authorities found a small path that led from the plants to the backyard of a nearby home. They contacted Como and say he confessed to growing the plants.

Como was charged with manufacturing and cultivating a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Two Women, One Man Have Civil Union in Brazil; Brazil Is 1st Nation to Allow 3-Person "Marriage"

Two women and a man have entered into a civil partnership in the Brazilian community of Sao Paulo, the Catholic Herald website reports today (September 3, 2012).

Legal recognition of the three-way relationship follows a decision by the Latin American country to extend civil partnerships to same-sex couples.

Claudia do Nascimento Domingues -- a public notary -- granted the request for a civil union of one man and two women, saying there is nothing in the law that prevents such an arrangement. The union was established formally three months ago, but only became public this week.

"We are only recognizing what has always existed. We are not inventing anything," said Ms. Domingues. "For better or worse, it doesn't matter, but what we considered a family before isn't necessarily what we would consider a family today."

Muslim Govt. Shuts Down Egypt's Last Synagogue; Outlaws All Jewish Holidays for "Security" Reasons

For the first time in 2,000 years, there will be no Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur services at the Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue in Alexandria in 5773, the Jewish Press website reports today (September 3, 2012).

This was the last active synagogue in Egypt. Egypt's new Muslim Brotherhood government's excuse for the shut-down -- effectively outlawing Jewish High Holiday services this month in the entire country -- is "security."

Levana Zamir -- head of the International Association of Egyptian Jews in Israel -- said: "It seems this is really the end of Jewish life in Egypt. The authorities have found a way to take over the last Jewish bastion, since all the remaining synagogues are already archaeological and tourist sites. It is very sad."

This phenomenon is more proof of the fact that Jewish life is becoming extinct in nations in which Islam is the predominant religion.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Unification Church Founder Rev. Moon Dies at 92; Turned His Rel. Vision into a Multibillion-$$ Corp.

The Rev. Sun Myung Moon was a self-proclaimed messiah who built a global business empire. He called both North Korean leaders and American presidents his friends, but spent time in prisons in both countries.

His followers around the world cherished him, while his detractors accused him of brainwashing recruits and extracting money from worshipers, the Associated Press website reports.

These contradictions did nothing to stop the founder of the Unification Church from turning his religious vision into a worldwide movement and a multibillion-dollar corporation stretching from the Korean Peninsula to the United States.

Moon died today (September 2, 2012) at a church-owned hospital near his home in Gapyeong County, northeast of Seoul, South Korea, two weeks after being hospitalized with pneumonia, Unification Church spokesman Ahn Ho-yeul said. Moon's wife and children were at his side, Ahn added. Moon was 92 years old.

Pakistani Police Say Muslim Cleric Framed Girl; Put Quran Pages in Her Bag to Bolster Blasphemy

Pakistani police said today (September 2, 2012) that a Muslim cleric planted torn Quran pages in a Christian girl's bag to be used as evidence to link the girl to blasphemy, according to the CNN website.

The imam, Khalid Jadoon Chishti, will himself face blasphemy charges for tearing pages out of a Quran to use as evidence against the girl, Islamabad police chief Bin Yamin said.

This development may make it easier for the girl, 14-year-old Rimsha, to be released on bail at her next court hearing.

Police arrested Rimsha last month after a neighbor accused her of burning pages containing texts from the Muslim holy book.  She had gathered the paper as fuel for cooking, authorities said.

H.S. Reunion Holds "White Graduates Only" Party; St. Martinville, La. H.S. Class of '73 Snubs Blacks

Graduates from the St. Martinville, Louisiana Senior High School Class of 1973 decided that after nearly 40 years, they would stop holding segregated class reunions, but a letter announcing the change included an after-party for "white graduates only," the Yahoo News website reports today (September 2, 2012).

Michael Kreamer -- who is the principal of the school -- said the letter was brought to his attention on August 31.

On September 21, a reception will be held at the school, followed by the homecoming football game, which the letter notes all graduates are welcome to attend.

The letter also notes that after the game, "white graduates only" are invited to a classmate's home and are encouraged to bring a "food dish to share."

Saturday, September 1, 2012

COMMENTARY: Turkey Must Not Thwart Communities That Want to Recognize the Armenian Genocide

A Turkish deputy consul general visited the Pasadena (California) City Hall last month, in an effort to discourage the city from carrying out its plan to build an Armenian Genocide Memorial in a park.

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

We believe that this memorial monument should be built, despite Turkey's attempt to prevent its construction.

The fact is that some 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Turks from 1915 through 1923 in what was then the Ottoman Empire.

Although most historians agree that there was a genocide of Armenians by Turks, Turkey -- to this very day -- denies that such a genocide ever occurred.

Consequently, Turkey tends to become angry when a nation officially recognizes the Armenian genocide, and takes punitive action against that nation, such as ending diplomatic relations with it.

To be sure, nations, states, and local communities -- such as Pasadena -- must not be intimidated by Turkey, as they decide to officially recognize the Armenian genocide.

If Turkey wants to deny that the Armenian genocide ever occurred, it has a right to do so, but Turkey does not have a right to bully nations or communities -- as it did to the United States two years ago -- to discourage the  recognition of the Armenian genocide, which is indeed "a fact of history!"

Salafism Is Radical Islam and Growing in Germany; It Encourages Violent Jihad, Hatred of Christians

Salafism -- a radical brand of Islam that preaches hatred of Christians and Jews -- is growing rapidly in Germany, the Christian Broadcast Network website reports today (September 1, 2012).

Salafis model themselves after Islam's prophet, Mohammed, and his followers, and strictly follow sharia (Islamic law).

Their ideology encourages violent jihad and is shared by al Qaeda and many other Islamic terror groups.

Security officers estimate that some 5,000 Salafis now live in Germany. A growing number of Germany's 4.3 million Muslims have adopted Salafism as their ideology in recent months.

Two Suicide Blasts at U.S.-Afghan Base Kill 13; Taliban Has Claimed Responsibility for Attacks

Two suicide bombers struck a joint U.S.-Afghan military base in central Afghanistan early today (September 1, 2012), killing 13 people, according to the Newsvine website.

Among the dead were a child, two women, and four policemen. The attack wounded 78 others.

One bomber attacked the base on foot, then another one detonated a truck.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.