Friday, November 30, 2012

WCC Lauds Palestine's UN Status as Step to Peace; Says Two-State Accord Will Lead to Mideast Peace

The newly upgraded status of Palestine in the United Nations is viewed as a positive step in the direction toward peace and a reaffirmation of the World Council of Churches' long-term commitment to a two-state solution, the Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, World Council of Churches (WCC) General Secretary said today (November 30, 2012), according to the Ekklesia website.

"It is now up to the two sides -- Israel and Palestine -- to move this process forward," said Dr. Tveit. "The vote in the UN confirms that the two-state solution is the best way to peace in the region. Without that, the future holds yet more violence and insecurity, and continuing tragedy for both peoples."

Dr. Tveit made his comments following the decision of the UN General Assembly yesterday to acknowledge the Palestinian Authority (PA) as a "non-member observer state."

"The WCC has consistently spoken in favor of a two-state solution," Tveit recalled. Since as early as its First Assembly in 1948, the WCC has championed the rights of both Israel and Palestine to free and independent states of their own.

"Bride, Groom" to Be History on Marriage Papers; WA State to Use More Neutral Terms Like Spouse

The words "bride" and "groom" -- as well as "husband" and "wife" -- are about to be eliminated on marriage and divorce certificates in Washington state, the New Media Journal website reports today (November 30, 2012).

Tim Church -- a spokesman for the Washington state Health Department -- said they will likely be removing those words in favor of more gender neutral terms.

He said the changes are necessary in response to the same-sex marriage law that takes effect December 6. "We've been quickly moving ahead to change our marriage certificate to make sure it fits for everyone who is going to be using it," Church said.

The words "bride" and "groom" could be replaced with "Spouse A" and "Spouse B" or "Person A" and "Person B," he added.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Palestine Wins UN Recognition of Sovereign State; Gen. Assembly Votes 138-9 for Its Observer Status

The United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly today (November 29, 2012) 138-9 -- with 41 abstentions -- to grant Palestine non-member observer state status, according to the USA Today website. The nine nations that voted against Palestine's UN recognition were: Israel, the United States, Canada, the Czech Republic, Panama, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, and Palau.

"We are here for a final serious attempt to achieve peace," Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas told General Assembly delegates before the vote. "Not to end the negotiation process....rather to breathe new life into the negotiation process."

Abbas went forward despite appeals to postpone the request, which the United States and Israel claim will only make negotiations for a permanent state less likely to happen. Both the U.S. and Israel had threatened Abbas with losing much financial aid Palestine has been receiving, if he went ahead and and sought Palestinian recognition by the UN.

Hanan Ashrawi -- a senior official of the Palestine Liberation Organization and a former peace negotiator -- said upgrading Palestinian status in the United Nations from observer to non-member state status will "enshrine our right to self-determination and statehood" and "help prevent Israel from destroying the chances of peace." She added that Israel is working against peace by annexing Jerusalem and building a security barrier on land that should belong in a Palestinian state.

Atheists Sway Judge to Ban a Calif. Nativity Scene; Judge Audrey Collins Suppresses 60-Yr. Tradition

The nearly 60-year tradition of a Nativity scene displayed at a park and hosted by a coalition of churches in Santa Monica, California ended, after a federal judge ruled on November 26, 2012 that the city can ban such displays, according to the California Catholic Daily website.

A controversy over the display about the birth of Jesus at Palisades Park erupted last Christmas season when an atheist group "manipulated" the city's lottery system for spaces, according to a nonprofit, resulting in only two booths for the Christian group that normally uses 14 booths for the Nativity-related scenes.

"It's a very sad day when a small number of people with an axe to grind -- people who do not like Christianity and who do not like God -- are able to prevail by manipulating rules to censor our message from the public place where it has been displayed for the enjoyment of millions of people for nearly 60 years," Hunter Jameson, head of the nonprofit Santa Monica Nativity Scene Committee, said.

Judge Audrey Collins denied a request from the committee to erect the large displays primarily on the grounds that the city's administration was overburdened with the permit process for the displays, according to William Becker, the group's lawyer. A temporary injunction to allow the displays to go up this Christmas season was not allowed. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Saudi Arabia Opens Vienna Multi-M$ Interrel. Ctr.; Critics:The Real Goal Is an Islam "Propaganda Ctr."

Saudi Arabia has officially opened the doors to a controversial new "interreligious and intercultural dialogue center" in the Austrian capital of Vienna, the Europe News website reports today (November 28, 2012).

The King Abdullah International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue was inaugurated during an elaborate ceremony at the Hofburg Palace in downtown Vienna on November 26. More than 650 high-profile guests from around the world attended the event, including UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon at the foreign ministers of the center's three founding states -- Austria, Spain, and Saudi Arabia.

The Saudis say the purpose of the multi-million-dollar institution -- which will be headquartered at the Palais Sturany in the heart of Vienna and will have the status of an international organization -- is to "foster dialogue" between the world's major religions in order to "prevent conflict."

Critics, however, emphasize that the center is really an attempt by Saudi Arabia to establish a permanent "propaganda center" in central Europe from which to spread the conservative Wahhabi sect of Islam. Moreover, the opening ceremony was accompanied by many angry protesters, who said that the Austrian government had "bowed the knee" to Saudi Arabia, and that the center was "a shame for Austria."

Dutch Holocaust Museum Gives Out Barbed Wire; Visitors Are Given Nazi Camp Wire as "Souvenirs"

A Dutch Holocaust museum is handing out pieces of barbed wire from a Nazi concentration camp to visitors, who can keep them as "souvenirs," the Forward (Jewish) website reports today (November 28, 2012).

RTV Utrecht -- a local television channel -- reported that the management of the Camp Amersfoort National Monument decided to give away the wire, after it had been criticized for putting the wire for sale at $12 for each piece earlier this month.

The Center for Information and Documentation on Israel (CIDI) -- a watchdog on anti-Semitism -- asked the museum to stop selling the wire. CIDI Deputy Director Esther Voet said that some descendants of resistance fighters found the sale inappropriate. She added the pieces of wire could reach collectors of Nazi memorabilia.

The wire once surrounded a Nazi concentration camp in which Nazis placed Dutch resistance fighters. Also detained at the camp was a Jewish contingent of forced labor prisoners. Most of them did not survive the Holocaust.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

ACLU Sues US for Barring Its Women in Combat; Says Women Barred from 238,000 Mil. Positions

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) today (November 27, 2012) sued on behalf of four U.S. servicewomen to challenge a longstanding policy barring women from thousands of ground combat positions, citing the changing nature of warfare and fairness for career soldiers, according to the Christian Science Monitor website.

The ACLU argued in a legal complaint filed in federal court in Northern California that a military policy to bar women from combat roles on the basis of gender was unconstitutional.

"Nearly a century after women earned the right of suffrage, the combat exclusion policy still denies women a core component of full citizenship -- serving on equal footing in the military defense of our nation," reads the suit, on behalf of four women soldiers who have fought in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Women are not allowed in infantry -- or in smaller units engaged in combat -- and are barred from more than 238,000 positions, the ACLU said. But in Iraq and Afghanistan -- where there are no clear battle lines -- women have been pulled into combat in spite of the policy, the civil rights group added.

Samples of Arafat's Remains Dug Up at His Grave; Will Take Three Months to Determine If Poisoned

Yasser Arafat's political heirs today (November 27, 2012) opened his grave in Ramallah, West Bank, and foreign experts took samples of the iconic Palestinian leader's remains as part of a long-shot attempt -- eight years after his mysterious death -- to determine whether he was poisoned, according to the Times of Israel website.

Arafat died in November 2004 at a French military hospital, a month after suddenly falling ill at his West Bank compound, at the time besieged by Israeli troops.

The immediate cause of his death was a stroke, but the underlying reasons were unclear, leading to widespread belief in the Arab world that Israel poisoned the 75-year-old symbol of Palestinian nationalism. Israel has denied involvement in Arafat's death.

The probe of Arafat's death was revived this past summer when a Swiss lab detected elevated traces of a lethal radioactive substance, polonium-210, in biological stains on his clothing. Dr. Abdullah Bashir -- a member of the Palestinian investigative team -- said it would take at least three months for results to come back.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Priest Books Wedding and Funeral at Same Time; Apologizes for "Bride and Gloom" Ritual in Serbia

Serbian Orthodox priest Father Jefrem Ratkovic was forced to apologize, after he recently scheduled a wedding at the same time as a funeral in the central Serbian town of Ljig, the Austrian Times website reports exclusively today (November 26, 2012).

When bride Dragana Jovic, 23, arrived at the church dressed in white, she found dozens of mourners dressed in black together with a coffin containing the body of a local man, Nemanja Petrovic, 86.

Both the brightly-dressed wedding guests and the dark-clothed mourners had started to take their places in the church by the time the priest arrived.

After he realized that he had scheduled a wedding and a funeral at the same time, Father Ratkovic asked the mourners -- and their coffin -- to wait outside while he carried out the wedding, and then the funeral was allowed to go ahead. He told the local media, "Double bookings can happen in anything, the Church is no different. I have apologized though, and both sides were fine about it."

Russia's Pravda News Calls Obama "a Communist;" Makes US Changes as Lenin,Stalin Made in Russia

The famed Russian news site "Pravda" -- which was formed as the official Communist publication of the former Soviet Union -- recently released a scathing opinion column entitled, "Obama's Soviet Mistake," in which the author unabashedly labels U.S. President Barack Obama "a Communist without question promoting the Communist Manifesto without calling it so," The Blaze website reports today (November 26, 2012).

The author, Xavier Lerma, goes on to note how Obama's "cult of personality" has mesmerized the ignorant in America, who will follow the hope and change icon in much the same way as "fools" still praise Lenin and Stalin in Russia.

The Russian author questions if Americans have ever read history and concludes that American schools have been "conquered by Communists long ago," paving the way for a revisionist history that would only lead to the election of a Communist president in the United States.

Lerma also astutely notes, "Christianity in the U.S. is under attack as it was during the early period of the Soviet Union when religious symbols were against the law."

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Saudi Women Now Being Tracked Electronically; Males Must Sign Out for Women to Leave Nation

Saudi Arabia -- the only country in the world where women are not allowed to drive motor vehicles -- has now implemented a new tracking system that electronically notifies their male guardians with texts when Saudi women cross the border, the Newser website reports today (November 25, 2012).

Women cannot leave Saudi Arabia unless their male guardians sign them out at an airport or the border.

News of the electronic tracking of women leaving Saudi Arabia has sparked a backlash on Twitter.

"This is technology used to serve backwardness in order to keep women imprisoned," wrote columnist Badriya al-Bashir, slamming the "state of slavery under which women are held."

Albanians in FYROM Celebrate 100th Ind. Anniv.; Albania Got Its Ind. from Ottoman Empire in 1912

More than 1,000 ethnic Albanians today (November 25, 2012) marched in Skopje -- the capital of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) -- to mark the 100th anniversary of Albania's independence from the Ottoman Empire, according to the Newsvine website.

The prime ministers of neighboring Albania and Kosovo, Sali Berisha and Hashim Thaci respectively, attended the celebrations later today at Skopje's sports center.

Ethnic Albanians make up about 25 percent of FYROM's population of 2.1 million, but tension with the country's Slavic-speaking Macedonian majority has remained high since a six-month armed ethnic Albanian insurgency in 2001 to demand greater autonomy in minority areas.

For nearly five centuries, Albania was at the heart of a sprawling Ottoman Empire, but it declared its independence in 1912, and is now a parliamentary democracy and a member of the United Nations and NATO.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

COMMENTARY: Morsi Becomes More Tyrannical Than Mubarak as Egypt's President

When hundreds of thousands of Egyptians revolted against their autocratic president, Hosni Mubarak, and overthrew him as their leader in February 2011, they probably never dreamed that his replacement would be a president who would be even more tyrannical.

But that is exactly what has happened.

Mohamed Morsi -- who has been president of Egypt since June 2012 -- gave himself incredible dictatorial powers on November 22 by implementing a presidential decree that grants him unlimited powers.

The vast majority of Egypt's 83 million people are furious at Morsi for his "power grab" and are determined to continue their protests in Cairo and other Egyptian cities until he rescinds his decree or is no longer president.

His decree, in effect, makes Morsi the head of Egypt's executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. Judges in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria -- Egypt's second largest city -- have gone on strike, and have agreed not to return to work until Morsi's decree is lifted.

Morsi -- a member of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood Party -- claims he granted himself sweeping powers in order to "protect the revolution" that overthrew Mubarak. Most Egyptians, however, are too wise to believe that, and believe that Morsi is obsessed by his own power.

Morsi's self-empowering actions can be compared to those of Adolf Hitler when he was dictator of Nazi Germany. Some Egyptians have even given Morsi the nickname of "Egypt's new pharaoh."

The fact is that Egypt needs neither a Hitler-type dictator nor a pharaoh to lead its nation.

Either Morsi must rescind his omnipotent decree -- and soon -- or he must be overthrown by the Egyptian people.

At Least 7 Killed, 18 Injured in a Pakistani Blast; Bomb Explodes During a Shiite Rel. Procession

At least seven people -- including three children -- were killed and 18 were injured today (November 24, 2012) in a bomb attack on a Shiite Muslim religious procession in Pakistan, according to the Big News Network website.

The bomb exploded near a Muharram procession at Bannu Chungi in Dera Ismail Khan district.

The bomb had been placed in a garbage can near the procession. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik blocked cellphone service in some cities, where intelligence indicated the possibility of bombs being detonated by cellphones.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Raging Mobs in Much of Egypt Torch Govt. Offices; Angry Pres. Morsi Rules His Powers Are Unlimited

Angry mobs in Egypt have torched the offices of the ruling Muslim Brotherhood government in several cities, protesting against President Mohammed Morsi's decision to give himself dictatorial new powers, the Christian Post website reports today (November 23, 2012).

Today, Morsi announced that -- under his new decree -- his decisions cannot be revoked by any authority in the country, including the judiciary. Many Egyptians have called this Hitler-type rule a "coup," sparking a new wave of protests in a country that has seen great violence in recent years.

Egypt's state TV reported that offices were torched in the cities of Port Said, Alexandria, and Ismalia, while three people have been admitted to a hospital in Cairo after they were injured in street clashes in the nation's capital.

Mohamed ElBaradei -- a Nobel Peace Prize winner -- said that President Morsi has appointed himself Egypt's new "pharaoh," and called the decree "a major blow to the revolution that could have dire consequences."

Kentucky Law Requires Its Citizens to Affirm God; Law Has Been Upheld by KY State Court of Appeals

In Kentucky, a homeland security law requires the state's citizens to acknowledge the security provided by the Almighty God -- or risk 12 months in prison -- the Alter Net website reports today (November 23, 2012).

The law and its sponsor -- state representative and Baptist minister Tom Riner -- have been the subject of controversy since the law first surfaced in 2006, yet the state Supreme Court has refused to review its constitutionality, despite clearly violating the First Amendment's separation of church and state.

"This is one of the most egregiously and breathtakingly unconstitutional actions by a state legislature that I've ever seen," said Edwin Kagin, the legal director of American Atheists -- a national organization focused on defending the civil rights of atheists.

American Atheists launched a lawsuit against the law in 2008, which won at the Circuit Court level, but was then overturned by the state Court of Appeals.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Egypt's Top Muslim Cleric Slams Peace with Israel; Urges Holy War to Liberate Palestinian Territories

The top cleric from Egypt's fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood -- which refuses to hold talks with Israel -- has denounced peace efforts with Israel, urging holy war to liberate Palestinian territories, the Yahoo News website reports today (November 22, 2012).

Today's call by Mohammed Badei came just a day after Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi -- who also hails from the Muslim Brotherhood -- succeeded in brokering a truce to end eight days of Israel-Hamas fighting.

Under the truce, Gaza's ruling Hamas will stop its rocket fire into Israel, while Israel will cease its airstrikes on Gaza and allow the opening of the strip's long-blockaded borders.

Badei says "jihad is obligatory" for Muslims and that peace deals with Israel are a "game of grand deception." He adds that there have been enough negotiations, and "the enemy knows nothing but language of force."

Imams, Cath. Priests Play Soccer Match in Bosnia; Where 100,000 Died in a Rel. War 20 Years Ago

A soccer match between Muslim imams and Catholic priests last night has helped raise funds for a new kindergarten in Bosnia, the Associated Press website reports today (November 22, 2012).

More than 4,000 people paid one euro ($1.30) to watch the game in the central town of Zenica, cheering "Bosnia, Bosnia" and celebrating whoever scored. The Catholics won 5 to 3.

The match -- organized by Bosnia's Inter-religious Committee -- was played by priests of the Bosnian Franciscan order and Muslim imams, said Priest Fra Zdravko Andjic. His good friend, Imam Jakub Salkica, said both sides got along well, but joked about suspicions of match-fixing.

Two decades ago, more than 100,000 people died in this country in a religious war that involved Muslim Bosniaks, Christian Orthodox Serbs, and Catholic Croats.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Poland Nabs Suspect Seeking to Bomb Parliament; Terror Plot Is 1st Since Poland Ended Communism

Polish authorities have arrested a radical nationalist who planned to blow up parliament and had links to the right-wing extremist who murdered dozens of people in Norway last year, the Independent Online website reports today (November 21, 2012).

The suspected plot -- to detonate a bomb outside parliament when the country's most senior officials were inside -- was the first of its kind since Poland  threw off Communist rule more than 20 years ago.

"This is a new and dramatic experience," said Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who was one of the intended targets of the assassination plot, along with the president.

Prosecutors said the suspect -- a 45-year-old scientist who works for a university in the southern city of Krakow and has not been publicly identified -- planned to plant four tons of explosives in a vehicle outside parliament and detonate it remotely.

Report:"Alarming" Islamophobia Occurs in France; No. of Anti-Muslim Attacks in 2012 Increased 42%

A new report by a leading anti-racism observatory in France states that French Muslims have become the target of a marked increase in Islamophobic violence and actions -- as well as incendiary statements by politicians -- over the last two years, the France 24 website reports today (November 21, 2012).

The number of racist acts against Muslims in France is increasing "alarmingly," according to the country's National Observatory of Islamophobia, whose president has called for overt Islamophobia to be taken as seriously as anti-Semitism, which is a criminal offense in France.

According to the Observatory report -- which claims to fight "all forms of racism and xenophobia" -- "in 2011 the number of anti-Muslim attacks was up 34% on the previous year....but what is happening in 2012 is alarming. Between January and the end of October there were 175 reported Islamophobic acts -- a 42% increase compared with the same period in 2011."

The Observatory's President Abdallah Zekri said that the huge rise in anti-Muslim sentiment in France could be partly explained by "the tense socio-political atmosphere in France being driven by a resurgence of the far right."

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Vatican Dismisses Roy Bourgeois from Rel. Order; Violated Cath. Dogma by Favoring Women Priests

Roy Bourgeois -- a longtime peace activist and Catholic priest who had come under scrutiny for his support of women's ordination -- has been dismissed from the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, which he served in Maryknoll, New York for 45 years, the National Catholic Reporter website reports today (November 20, 2012).

The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith made the dismissal in October, according to a news release issued yesterday afternoon by the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers.

Yesterday's statement from Maryknoll puts a cap on years of discussion about Bourgeois' role in the order, following his participation in the ordination of Roman Catholic woman priest Janice Sevre-Duszynska in August 2008.

Shortly thereafter, Bourgeois was notified by the Vatican congregation that he had incurred a "latae sententiae" (automatic excommunication) for his participation.

Turkey's PM Declares "Israel Is a Terrorist State;" Calls Killings of Children in Gaza "Terrorist Acts"

A top Turkish official has claimed that Israel is committing acts of terrorism by bombing Hamas targets in Gaza, the Europe News website reports today (November 20, 2012).

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan told the Eurasian Islamic Council conference in Istanbul that the Jewish state is systematically mass-killing Muslims.

"Those who associate Islam with terrorism close their eyes in the face of mass killing of Muslims, turn their heads from the massacre of children in Gaza," Erdogan said. "For this reason, I say that Israel is a terrorist state, and its acts are terrorist acts."

The conflict in Gaza between Israel and Hamas escalated on November 14, as a result of an Israeli airstrike that killed the Hamas military commander, Ahmed Jabari.

Anglican Church Refuses to OK Female Bishops; Foes Had Votes in General Synod to Deny Move

The governing body of the Anglican Church -- also known as the Church of England -- today (November 20, 2012) blocked a move to permit women to serve as bishops in the church, according to the Associated Press website.

Following a day-long debate today, opponents mustered enough of votes to deny the necessary two-thirds majority required among lay members of the General Synod.

Church officials say it may take five years to go through the process of taking new legislation to a final vote.

The push to muster a two-thirds majority among lay members of the General Synod was expected to be close, with many on both sides unsatisfied with a compromise proposal to accommodate individual parishes that refuse to accept female bishops.

Today's decision by the Anglican Church is in line with the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox Christian Churches,  whose theological dogma dictates that only males can be bishops.

Monday, November 19, 2012

NYC Man Sentenced to Life for 2009 Subway Plot; Adis Medunjanin Planned to Blast a Suicide Bomb

A Bosnia-born U.S. citizen has been sentenced to life behind bars for his role in a foiled suicide-bomb plot on New York City subways in 2009, the Fox News website reports today (November 19, 2012).

Adis Medunjanin, a Muslim, received the sentence on November 16 in federal court in Brooklyn.

Prosecutors had accused Medunjanin and two high school classmates of receiving al-Qaida training in Pakistan before agreeing to strap on backpack bombs for a strike a few days before the eighth anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks.

Admitted mastermind Najibullah Zazi and another man both pleaded guilty and testified against the 28-year-old Medunjanin.

Gay Marriage Protesters, Feminists Clash in Paris; Govt. Plan to Allow Gay Marriages Enrages French

A second consecutive day of protests in France yesterday against gay marriage attracted more than 100,000 people, the Euro News website reports today (November 19, 2012).

Largely organized by Catholic groups, yesterday's demonstrations added to a weekend that saw opponents of proposed legislation backed by the socialist government and due to be deliberated on in January.The protesters say allowing gay marriages is a step too far.

Scuffles broke out in Paris, as several members of the Ukrainian topless group Femen clashed with anti-gay marriage demonstrators. Police used teargas to disperse those fighting.

The Femen feminists -- who carry out protests while topless in order to attract more attention for their cause -- often take part in protests targeting religious institutions and against sex trafficking.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

New Coptic Orthodox Pope Is Enthroned in Egypt; Heads Largest Christian Group in Islamist Egypt

The Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II -- who was elected Pope earlier this month -- was enthroned today (November 18, 2012) as the spiritual leader of Egypt's Coptic Christians, according to the Inquisitr website.

Coptic Christians make up about a tenth of Egypt's 83 million people, making them the largest Christian group in the predominantly Islamist nation.

Copts have long complained of facing increasing discrimination as the Egyptian government grows more Islamist, but -- in a show of good faith -- the Muslim prime minister and a host of other cabinet officials attended the ceremony. Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi did not attend.

The Roman Catholic Pope Benedict XVI sent a message of congratulations to Pope Tawadros. Pope Benedict said he hoped the relationship between the Catholic and Coptic Orthodox churches would grow "in a fraternal spirit of collaboration" as well as "through a deepening of the theological dialogue."

Franklin Graham:US Has Turned Its Back on God; Rips Christians for Not Supporting Biblical Values

Evangelist Franklin Graham -- son of world-famous evangelist Billy Graham -- is issuing a wake-up call to America, asserting that the nation has turned its back on God, the Christian Broadcast Network website reports today (November 18, 2012).

Graham warned that President Obama's agenda will bring the greatest changes to the United States since the Civil War. He also said Christians can blame themselves for the crisis facing our nation.

"We need to do a better job of getting our people -- the church -- to vote," he admonished. He added, "I'm not trying to tell you how to vote. You can vote, but vote, my goodness, and vote for candidates that stand for Biblical values."

"Our country is in trouble," he warned. "It's in trouble spiritually. We've turned our back on God."

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Episcopal Bishop Urges SC Diocese Not to Defect; SC Diocese Says Bishop Won't Affect a Done Deal

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church has sent a pastoral letter to the members of a diocese whose leadership is defecting from the denomination, the Christian Post website reports today (November 17, 2012).

The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori sent the letter to the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina on November 15, writing that she wants the Diocese to remain part of the Church.

"Your presence adds to the ability of this community to discern the will of God, even if you disagree vehemently with one or another resolution passed by a particular General Convention," wrote Schori.

Joy Hunter -- director of communications for the South Carolina Diocese -- said the pastoral letter will not change the course the Diocese intends to take. "The Diocecse of South Carolina has already disassociated from that organization," said Hunter, adding that Schori's authority holds no jurisdiction.

The Episcopal Church has lost more than 100,000 members during the past decade, due primarily to its recent adoption of several anti-Christian beliefs, including women priests and bishops, gay and lesbian priests and bishops, and same-sex marriage.

Turkish PM Vows to Back Muslims in Gaza War; Views Egypt's New Govt. as Hope for Palestinians

Turkey's prime minister has vowed support for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip during the current military conflict between Israel and the Hamas, the Newsvine website reports today (November 17, 2012).

Recep Tayyip Erdogan described Egypt's uprising that ousted longtime autocratic leader Hosni Mubarak from power last year as a point of hope for Palestinians. The Turkish leader delivered his remarks in a speech at Cairo University today.

Erdogan also met with President Mohammed Morsi in Cairo for the first time since the Egyptian Islamist leader was elected last June.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people protested today outside the Arab League headquarters in Cairo -- where Arab foreign ministers are meeting to discuss Israel's expanded fierce air assault on rocket operations in Gaza -- which is run by the Islamic militant Hamas group.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Acquitted Greek Magazine Editor to Face a Retrial; Prosecutor: Decision Violates Individuals' Privacy

Costas Vaxevanis -- publisher of the Greek magazine "Hot Doc" -- will face trial once again, as a result of the Athens Public Prosecutor's Office appeal of a court decision earlier this month acquitting him of charges of violating privacy laws after publishing what the magazine claimed was the so-called Lagarde list, a list of some 2,000 Greeks with Swiss bank accounts, the Ekathimerini (Greek) website reports today (November 16, 2012).

In a statement, the prosecutor said the decision was "legally wrong," as it violated the privacy of individuals on the list and called for a re-examination of the case.

Earlier this month, Vaxevanis was cleared of misdemeanor charges after publishing a list of names of Greeks with deposits in the Geneva branch of HSBC (Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation).

The prosecutor -- who had argued the case against him in court -- claimed Vaxevanis had "offered blood and turned the country into a coliseum."

Israel Musters a Deluge of Troops on Gaza Border; Will Launch Ground Assault If Rocket Fire Persists

Israel began to mobilize tens of thousands of troops and extend its aerial and artillery attacks on the Gaza Strip for the third consecutive day today (November 16, 2012), while Palestinian militants mounted their deepest-ever missile strikes into the heart of Israel, in what may well be the prelude of a new Middle East War, according to the Wall Street Journal website.

The exchanges -- which have killed 19 Palestinians and three Israelis -- broadened a conflict that had erupted into the open on November 14. At that time, Israel responded to escalating missile strikes from Gaza militants by launching a blitz of airstrikes that killed the top military commander of Hamas -- the Islamist militant group and political movement that runs Gaza.

Israel's leaders have said they will launch a ground assault on Gaza if the rocket fire continues.

"The situation has all the elements and dynamics that could lead us down the road we haven't been before," said Steve Cook, a Mideast specialist at the Council on Foreign Relations. He added, "It's a very dangerous situation."

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Holy Sepulchre Church's $2.3M Water Bill Solved; Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill Ends Giant Debt

The conflict over an unpaid $2.3 million water bill of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem has been resolved, the RIA Novosti (Russian) website reports today (November 15, 2012).

"The Holy Sepulchre Church's water debts have been written off, not without the participation of the Russian Orthodox Church after Patriarch Kirill met with Israeli President Shimon Peres," Deacon Alexander Volkov -- who heads the Patriarch's press service -- said yesterday while summing up the five-day visit by the head of the Russian Orthodox Church to the region.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre -- which has for centuries been one of the most important pilgrimage destinations for millions of Christians as the purported site of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ -- earlier in November threatened to close its doors, as its bank account was frozen over a debt to an Israeli water company. The Hagihon company -- which took over the water supply from Jerusalem authorities in the late 1990s -- recently demanded payment of a $2.3 million bill dating back 15 years, including interest.

The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III earlier this month wrote letters to the leaders of Russia, Israel, the United States, Greece, Cyprus, and Jordan with an appeal to intervene with the standoff and put a stop "to this flagrant act against the church." Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the presidential administration will thoroughly study Patriarch Theophilos's request for help.

Pope: Ecumenical Work Lifts New Evangelization; Says Christians Must Persist in Defeating Divisions

Ecumenical work is a key component of the "new evangelization," Pope Benedict XVI told the Pontifical Council on Christian Unity in an address today (November 15, 2012), according to the Catholic Culture website.

All Christians should be concerned by "the crisis of faith affecting vast areas of the world, including  those where the proclamation of the Gospel was first accepted and where Christian life has flourished for centuries," the Pope said, at a private audience held in the Clementine Hall of the apostolic palace.

Pope Benedict said that ecumenism calls for "patience, humility, and abandonment to the Lord's will."

He added, "Christians must be persistent in the effort to overcome divisions, never accepting the fractures within the Christian community as something normal or as the best that can be obtained."

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Romney: Obama Won by Gifts to Blacks, Latinos; Says Gifts Will Cost Taxpayers Trillions of Dollars

Mitt Romney is attributing his loss in the 2012 presidential election to the "gifts" President Obama gave to minority voters, the Think Progress website reports today (November 14, 2012).

Speaking to donors today, the former Massachusetts governor praised his own campaign, but speculated that Obama won because he was "very generous" to blacks, Hispanics, and young voters.

He cited as motivating factors to young voters the administration's plan for partial forgiveness of college loan interest and the extension of health coverage for students on their parents' insurance plans well into their 20s. Free contraception coverage under Obama's healthcare plan, he added, gave an extra incentive to college-age women to back the president.

"The President's campaign," Romney said, "focused on giving targeted groups a big gift -- so he made a big effort on small things. Those small things, by the way, add up to trillions of dollars."

Pat Robertson OKs Petraeus' Affair with Broadwell; Is "A Good Looking Lady Throwing Herself at Him"

Television evangelist and ordained Southern Baptist Minister Pat Robertson doesn't think General David Petraeus should be condemned for his love affair with writer Paula Broadwell. After all, she is "an extremely good looking woman" and "he's a man," Robertson said, the Huffington Post website reports today (November 14, 2012).

Robertson, 82,  excused former CIA Director Petraeus for the extramarital affair with his biographer, Broadwell, on the November 12 episode of "The 700 Club" -- the flagship program of the Christian Broadcasting Network. The affair resulted in Petraeus' resignation as CIA Director on November 9.

"Who knows?" Robertson said. "This man is off in a foreign land and he's lonely and here's a good looking lady throwing herself at him. I mean, he's a man."

Robertson added that Broadwell is an extremely good looking woman and a marathon runner. "So she's out running with him and writing a biography. I think the term is 'propinquity.'"

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Jesse Jackson, Jr. Seeks a Plea Deal with Govt.; May Go to Prison, Be Forced to Leave Congress

Illinois congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. is in discussions with the Department of Justice to reach a plea deal which could send him to prison and force his resignation from Congress. Jackson is believed to have misused campaign funds, the Inquisitr website reports today (November 13, 2012).

Jackson, 47, has hired Dan Webb -- a lawyer specializing in high profile corruption cases -- to represent him in discussions with the government.

In addition to the misuse of campaign funds, Jackson has been under investigation by a House ethics panel over an alleged bribe by one of his supporters to convicted former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.

The bribe was said to be intended to entice Blagojevich to appoint Jackson to the Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama. Jackson has admitted to lobbying for the seat, but denied knowing about any money offered to Blagojevich, who has since been convicted of corruption charges and imprisoned.

It has been reported that the FBI has also been investigating the allegations of misuse of funds by Jackson -- and has been doing so for more than half of a year.

Man, 76, Arrested in New Zealand for Assault Plan; Planned to Throw Horse Manure on Prince Charles

Police arrested a man in Auckland, New Zealand yesterday, before he had a chance to throw a bucket of horse manure onto Prince Charles and his wife Camilla during a royal visit to the Pacific nation, the News Max World website reports today (November 13, 2012).

Castislav "Sam" Bacanov, 76, pleaded not guilty in an Auckland court today to planning a crime in a public place. He has agreed -- under his bail conditions -- to keep at least 500 meters from the royal couple.

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are on a six-day tour of New Zealand -- the last leg of their Pacific tour marking Queen Elizabeth II's 60th Jubilee.

Police spokeswoman Noreen Hegarty said officers arrested Bacanov -- a known anti-royalist -- yesterday near a downtown Auckland venue where Charles and Camilla were due to appear. Bacanov is due to appear in court again on November 27.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Imam Is Elected Head of Syrian Opposition Group; Plans to Win International Support, Defeat Assad

Activist Muslim preacher Moaz al-Khatib has been elected the first leader of a new Syrian opposition umbrella group that hopes to win international recognition and prepare for a post-Assad Syria, the Reuters website reports today (November 12, 2012).

Veteran opposition figure Riad Seif -- who proposed the U.S.-backed initiative to set up an umbrella group of opposition groups inside and outside Syria -- was elected as deputy president along with Suhair al-Atassi, a well-known female activist.

Opposition figures had struggled for days in Doha, Qatar to find unity, under heavy pressure from U.S. diplomats and officials from Qatar, which has bankrolled much Syrian opposition activity since an uprising began last year. Some 35,000 Syrians have been killed by government forces, in its failed effort to end the uprising.

Khatib -- a former imam at the famous Umayyad mosque in Damascus -- was imprisoned several times for criticizing Assad's rule before he left Syria for Cairo this year. Delegates said he had been the only candidate for the post of president.

New Society Trend:Women Now "Marrying Down;" Wives Achieve Higher Social Status in Six Nations

New research has found that women are increasingly "marrying down" and choosing men who are less qualified and educated than themselves, the Independent Online (South African) website reports exclusively  today (November 12, 2012).

The growing number of girls going through university and into work means that centuries of men holding the higher social status within relationships are coming to an end, the research reveals.

In some countries, it is now more common for the female half of the partnership to be better educated than the male half, said the global study by university experts in Barcelona, Spain.

Sociologically,  a partnership where the woman has the higher social status is known as "hypogamy." But more commonly, it is referred to as "marrying down."

Researcher Albert Esteve said ...."In these times of crisis, the woman is increasingly becoming the income earner." His research shows that countries in which "hypogamy" is the norm are: France, Jordan, Mongolia, Slovenia, South Africa, and Spain.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Polish Police, Rioters Clash on National Holiday; Nationalists: Liberal Values Ruin Cath. Tradition

Riot police in the Polish capital of Warsaw used truncheons and rubber bullets today (November 11, 2012) to break up a crowd of right-wing extremists who pelted them with firecrackers and lumps of concrete at a parade to mark the national holiday, according to the Reuters website.

It was the second consecutive year that independence day celebrations have degenerated into violence, underlining the gulf between the government and hardline nationalists who think liberal values imported from Europe are ruining Poland's Catholic traditions.

Police said that 132 people were detained following the violence, which took place in central Warsaw. Five policemen sustained injuries that needed hospital treatment.

The day started with thousands of police in riot gear lining the streets trying to stop trouble erupting between right-wing groups, left-wing radicals, and government supporters -- all holding their own independence day parades to push their competing visions of what sort of country Poland should be.

Palestinian Pres.Abbas Seeks UN Observer Status; Insists on UN Recognition Despite Israeli Threats

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said today (November 11, 2012) that he will ask the United Nations General Assembly this month to recognize Palestine to non-member observer status, despite pressure to abandon the bid from Israel and the United States, according to the Associated Press website.

Both Israel and the United States say a Palestinian state can be established only through negotiations. Talks broke down four years ago and the Palestinians refuse to renew them until Israel halts all settlement construction -- which Israel refuses to do.

Abbas said in a speech today, "Some powers are trying to tell us that the two-state solution doesn't come from the UN, but through negotiations.... Negotiations are crucial. But to get UN recognition is also key."

Israel has threatened Palestine that it will stop collecting tax revenue for the Palestinian Authority and not hand over the money, if President Abbas continues to seek Palestinian observer state membership of the UN.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Twin Car Bombs Kill 20 Syrian Soldiers in Deraa; Dozens Wounded, Muslims Suspected of Attack

Twin bombings at a military base by rebel forces in the southern Syrian town of Deraa killed at least 20 soldiers today (November 10, 2012) and wounded dozens more, according to the Big News Network website.

Two cars -- loaded with explosives -- blew up within minutes of each other.

No group has claimed responsibility for today's bombings, but Islamist groups have taken credit for similar attacks in the past.

Turkish state media reported November 9 that 26 Syrian military officers -- including two generals and 11 colonels -- have fled into Turkey.

Vatican Computer Expert Convicted in Leaks Case; Aided Butler,Gets Two-Month Suspended Sentence

A Vatican court today (November 10, 2012) found a Holy See computer expert guilty of obstruction of justice in the investigation of leaks of sensitive papal documents to the media by Pope Benedict's former butler, according to the Reuters website.

The same court which already convicted Paolo Gabriele -- the Pope's former butler -- gave Claudio Sciarpelletti a two-month suspended sentence for obstructing the investigation of the media leaks. The Pope's former butler was sentenced to 18 months in prison last month.

The leaks unleashed one of the biggest crises of Pope Benedict's papacy, embarrassing the Vatican at a time when it was struggling to overcome several child sex abuse scandals involving clerics, as well as mismanagement at its bank.

Vatican watchers are skeptical that Gabriele could have acted alone, and believe he may have been forced to take the blame in order to shield bigger players inside the Holy See. They say both Gabriele and Sciarpelletti could be pawns in a palace power struggle.

Friday, November 9, 2012

New Study:Tax Dodging Costs Greece $36B a Year; Govt. Cracks Down, Requires Greeks Get Receipts

Customers of all sorts of businesses in Greece will be able to walk away without paying if they don't receive a record of their transaction, under rules set to take effect soon, an exclusive report of the Wall Street Journal website states today (November 9, 2012).

Restaurants -- seen as among the worst offenders, mainly because much of their business is transacted in cash -- will be required to add a notification about the right to refuse payment to their menus. Everyone -- from doctors and lawyers to plumbers and taxis -- also is liable to be stiffed if they don't give receipts.

The new regulations are the latest effort by the cash-strapped Greek government to crack down on rampant tax evasion -- adding an extra incentive for businesses to issue receipts. The receipts produce a record of the transactions, and authorities use that record to calculate taxes owed by the business.

"With this measure, the consumer is protected and a bold step is taken against tax evasion," said Athanasios Skordas, Greece's deputy development minister.

Tax dodging costs Greece about 28 billion euros ($36 billion) a year -- an amount equivalent to roughly 15 percent of Greece's annual economic output -- according to a recent study conducted by Margarita Tsoutsoura of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Parents Protest Yoga in Schools Is Rel. Practice; Cal. School District Allows Children to Refuse It

Parents in the California seaside town of Encinitas -- a suburb of San Diego -- are in a twist over yoga, saying that adding the ancient practice of meditative exercise to the school curriculum is tantamount to religious indoctrination into Hinduism, the California Catholic website reports today (November 9, 2012).

School officials never thought that yoga -- practiced by some 22 million Americans -- would be controversial when they accepted a $533,000 grant from a local yoga studio to include Ashtanga yoga in a program where students also learn about healthy eating and cultivate small gardens.

Soon after yoga teachers began leading students at five elementary schools in twice-weekly sessions of stretching, breathing, and relaxing, four dozen parents protested to the school board, saying yoga is a system of spiritual beliefs.

School officials quickly announced that parents could choose to have their children excused from yoga classes. But attorney Dean Broyles -- representing the parents -- said he plans to file a lawsuit to oust yoga from the school district.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Some 200 Orth. Churches to Be Built in Moscow; Govt. Allocates 81 Plots for Const. of Churches

Some 200 Orthodox Christian Churches will soon be constructed both in Moscow and new territories adjacent to the city under "the Big Moscow expansion plan," Russia's Duma (Congress) Member of Parliament and Patriarch adviser Vladimir Resin said today (November 8, 2012), according to the Voice of Russia website.

Resin said that 37 churches are now under construction in Moscow, and the government has already allocated 81 plots of land for the project.

The Moscow government has placed billboards all across the city urging people to donate money for the construction of the churches.

Moscow -- and indeed most of Russia -- has been experiencing an incredible upsurge in the religious worship of millions of its people since the collapse of the communist and godless Soviet Union in 1991.

Bishop John Welby to Become Abp. of Canterbury; Replaces Rowan Williams to Head 77M Anglicans

The Right Rev. Justin Welby -- the Bishop of Durham, England -- will be soon unveiled as the next Archbishop of Canterbury, the Christian Post website reports exclusively today (November 8, 2012). Downing Street in London said that it expects an official announcement to be made soon.

Welby, 56 -- an Old Etonian (Eton College graduate) and former businessman in the oil industry -- will succeed Dr. Rowan Williams, 62, who will step down on December 31, 2012 to teach religion at Cambridge University. Dr. Williams served as Archbishop of Canterbury for the past 10 years.

Welby is known to support the biblical definition of marriage as between one man and one woman; he is against same-sex marriage; and he is opposed to homosexuals serving as bishops.

Theologically, he has been described by Britain's "The Telegraph" newspaper as "unashamedly part of the evangelical tradition, upholding a more traditional and conservative interpretation of the Bible than some in the Church of England." As Archbishop of Canterbury, Welby will be the leader of the world's 77 million Anglican Christians.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

US Man Behind Anti-Islam Film Gets a Year in Jail; It Incited Anti-US Rage, Deaths in Muslim Nations

The convicted California scam artist -- whose crude anti-Islam film sparked protests and killings against the United States across the Muslim world -- was sentenced to a year in jail today (November 7, 2012) over probation violations stemming from his role in the video, according to the Reuters website.

The Egyptian-born Coptic Orthodox Christian -- who has been publicly identified as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, but whose legal name is Mark Basseley Youssef -- admitted to several probation violations during a hearing today in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

The 13-minute film -- titled "The Innocence of Muslims" and attributed to Youssef, 55 -- portrays the Prophet Mohammad as a fool and a sexual deviant, although cast members have said they were misled by Youssef into appearing in a film they believed was an adventure drama called "Desert Warrior."

The film touched off a torrent of anti-American unrest in Muslim countries. The start of the violence on September 11 coincided with an attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities in the Libyan city of Benghazi that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya.

Franklin Graham: US Is on a "Path of Destruction;" Billy's Son Says Re-electing Obama Was Mistake

The Rev. Franklin Graham -- son of the world-famous evangelist the Rev. Billy Graham -- said he believes that America is on a "path of destruction" due to yesterday's election results, the Christian Post website reports today (November 7, 2012).

Graham said the path he was referring to involved -- among other things -- the legalization of same-sex marriage.

"If we are allowed to go down this road in the path that this president wants us to go down, I think it will be to our peril and to the destruction of this nation," Graham said.

Last May, Graham declared that Obama had "shaken his fist at the same God who had created and defined marriage." At that time, Graham said, "It grieves me that our president would now affirm same-sex marriage, though I believe it grieves God even more."

Pakistan Parents Kill Daughter for Looking at Boy; Case of Islam Honor Killing of "Immoral" Women

A Pakistani couple -- accused of killing their 15-year-old daughter by pouring acid on her -- carried out the attack because she stigmatized the family's honor by looking at a boy, the Newsmax World website reports today (November 7, 2012).

The girl's death illustrates the problem of so-called "honor killings" in predominantly Islamic Pakistan , where women are often killed for marrying non-Muslims or because they are perceived to have dishonored their family.

The girl's parents, Mohammad Zafar and his wife Zaheen, recounted the October 29 incident from jail. The father said the girl had turned to look at a boy who drove by on a motorcycle, and he told her it was wrong.

The father then threw the acid on the girl. The girl's mother said, "It was her destiny to die this way."

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Father of Jewish Family Is Beaten in Marseilles; French Muslim Attacks Soar % of Anti-Semitism

The father of a Jewish family was badly beaten and the family home was completely trashed on November 4 by local youths in Marseilles, France, the Europe News website reports today (November 6, 2012).

Marseilles is the home of some 80,000 Jews -- 10 percent of the general population, but a small fraction compared to the 250,000 Muslims with whom they also live.

It has been relatively quiet in Marseilles -- France's second largest city -- this year, compared to other areas in the country, where violent anti-Semitism has been on the rise.

Last month, the Protection Service of the Jewish Community security agency for French Jewry reported a 45 percent rise in anti-Semitic attacks since 2011 -- mostly by Muslims.

Netanyahu Vows to Stop Iran's Nuclear Program; Says Israel May Bomb Iran Despite US Disapproval

In what can be viewed as the harshest statement he has ever made toward the United States, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed last night to put a stop to Iran's nuclear program by whatever means necessary -- even in outright defiance of American objections -- the Times of Israel website reports today (November 6, 2012).

Netanyahu said President Barack Obama had stated that Israel has a right to defend itself as it sees fit, and that Israel dare not entrust its future to others -- even to the United States.

He added that Israel's prime ministers had ignored U.S. disapproval in establishing the country in 1948 and preempting the Arab attack in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

Netanyahu was interviewed last night as part of an investigative TV report that traced Israel's efforts over the past decade to thwart Iran's march toward the nuclear bomb. In the TV report, Netanyahu described Israel's  2007 air strike that destroyed Syria's nuclear reactor as "a general rehearsal for an attack on Iran."

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad --Iran's current president -- has publicly called for the total destruction of Israel.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Yasser Arafat's Remains to Be Exhumed Nov. 26; Due to Evidence He was Poisoned with Polonium

The remains of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat -- who died in November 2004 at the age of 75 -- will be exhumed on November 26, 2012, a Western diplomat said today (November 5, 2012), as investigators began determining how best to dig up the grave and extract samples, according to the USA Today website.

A Swiss team arrived in the West Bank today and spent an hour inspecting the grave, located in a mausoleum outside Palestinian government headquarters in Ramallah in the West Bank. The Western diplomat spoke on condition of anonymity, because the investigation is ongoing.

Tawfik Tirawi -- the head of the Palestinian committee investigating the death -- said today's visit was meant "to check the place" ahead of the exhumation.

The new probe into Arafat's death comes after a Swiss lab recently discovered traces of polonium-210 -- a deadly radioactive isotope -- on clothes said to be his, which sparked new accusations that he was poisoned.

Suicide Car Bomber Kills 50 Syrian Security Men; Believed Deadliest Attack on Pres. Assad's Forces

An Islamist suicide car bomber killed at least 50 Syrian security men in Hama province today (November 5, 2012) in one of the bloodiest single attacks on President Bashar al-Assad's forces in the 20-month-old uprising in Syria, according to the Reuters website.

Syrian state media reported that a  "terrorist" suicide bomber had targeted a rural development center in Sahl al-Ghab in Hama province.

Rami Abdelrahman -- head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights -- said the center was used by security forces and pro-Assad militia as one of their biggest bases in the area.

"A fighter from the Nusra Front drove his car to the center and then blew himself up," Abdelrahman said. "A series of explosions followed. At least 50 were killed," he added.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Church of Holy Sepulchre's Bank Acct. Is Frozen; Jerusalem Water Co. Says Church Owes It $2.3M

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre -- believed to be the site of Jesus' crucifixion and burial -- is facing financial sanction by the Jerusalem Water Company over a $2.3 million bill that the Church has yet to pay. The Church -- which is located in the heart of Jerusalem's Old City -- is a major draw for tourists and pilgrims from around the world, the Inquisitr website reports today (November 4, 2012).

The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem had its bank account frozen by the water company until the bill is paid. The Church has extensive and valuable property holdings in the Holy Land and maintains a headquarters in the ancient church.

The Church claims there has been an informal agreement with the Jerusalem Municipality that the Church would be exempt from paying the bill. The water company says that Israeli law does not permit the Jerusalem Municipality to make such an agreement.

Constantine the Great -- the first Christian Roman Emperor -- ordered the church built after his mother Queen Helena visited the site known as Golgotha and confirmed its significance. The Church was built in the 4th century AD.

Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Christians Get New Pope; Pope Yawadros II Succeeds Late Pope Shenouda

Pope Tawadros II, 60,  was selected today (November 4, 2012) as the new leader of the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church, according to the Daily Beast website.

The faith's adherents have dealt with increasing uncertainty since their last leader, Pope Shenouda III, died last March at the age of 88.

Copts in Egypt have been uneasy about their place in the country since the downfall of dictator Hosni Mubarak, and distressed by the rise of powerful Islamist factions.

Christians make up about 10 percent of Egypt's primarily Muslim 83 million population.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Tufts U. Removes TCF as a Campus Organization; TCF Requires Students Agree to Christian Beliefs

A Christian student group at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts has confirmed it is appealing the school's decision to drop them from its list of official campus organizations, the Christian Broadcast Network website reports today (November 3, 2012).

Tufts Christian Fellowship (TCF) is a chapter of Inter Varsity Christian Fellowship. TCF was told it violated the university's non-discrimination policy by requiring its students to agree to a belief statement about "basic biblical truths of Christianity."

Inter Varsity said it is fighting the decision. Unless the move is reversed, TCF will be blocked from using the Tufts name in its title, scheduling events on campus, or receiving student funding.

Some observers said the move is just one more example of Christian beliefs being subjugated to homosexual demands and a rising climate of political correctness.

Newburgh, NY Man Sues Church for Falling Cross; Lost His Leg When 600-Pound Cross Fell on Him

An upstate New York man has filed a lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Church over a crushed leg he suffered when a 600-pound stone cross fell on him, the Big News Network website reports today (November 3, 2012).

The suit -- filed by David Jimenez -- seeks $3 million in damages from the Archdiocese of New York for the 2010 incident at a church in Newburgh where he had regularly prayed for his wife's recovery from cancer.

Delia Jimenez bounced back from cervical cancer in 2010. As a gesture of thanks, Jimenez offered to scrub down the large cross outside the church. While he was cleaning the massive crucifix, it became unhinged from its mount and toppled onto Jimenez.

The 45-year-old father of three had no health insurance and lost his leg in the accident. The church's insurer has refused to pay any money to Jimenez.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Rev. Schuller Seeks $$$$ from Crystal Cathedral; Appears in Court on First Day of Bankruptcy Trial

Rev. Robert Schuller's old ministry in Orange, California may be bankrupt, but he says they still owe him millions of dollars -- and he's fighting for every cent.

The once-powerful preacher showed up smiling in a crisp black suit today (November 2, 2012) on the first day of the Crystal Cathedral Ministries' bankruptcy trial, according to the Newser website.

Schuller said he let the ministry use his intellectual property, but that would not have included selling his recordings online. "We did not understand it," Schuller said in a court statement.

But ministry attorneys say Schuller already milked the church of millions of dollars in "lavish compensation and perquisites" before Crystal Cathedral Ministries went bankrupt in 2010. And "if they pay everything they are asked, then there will be no money for the cathedral," says the ministry's chief executive.

Mother Kills 5-Month-Old Son with the Koran; Claims She Was Trying to Save Him from Devil

A Muslim woman -- who smothered her baby to death in Halmsta, Sweden with a copy of the Koran -- told police she was trying to save him from possession by the devil, the Austrian Times website reports today (November 2, 2012).

The five-month-old boy was found with 39 wounds on his body, most of which had been caused by crushing or battering with the Muslim holy book, say prosecutors.

"The woman intentionally killed her child. She smothered it to death and the Koran was the murder weapon," prosecutor Anders Johansson told the Swedish court.

But the 28-year-old mother claims she had suffered weeks of hallucinations and visions where devil's horns were growing from her son's head. The court case continues.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Bishop Orders Priests to Read Anti-Obama Letter; Sermons: Pols. Supporting Abortion Reject Jesus

Peoria, Illinois Bishop Daniel Jenky has ordered priests to read a letter to parishioners on Sunday -- just two days before the U.S. presidential election -- explaining that politicians who support abortion rights also reject Jesus, the Drudge Report website reports today (November 1, 2012).

"By virtue of your vow of obedience to me as your Bishop, I require that this letter be personally read by each celebrating priest at each Weekend Mass," Jenky wrote in a letter circulated to clergy in the Catholic Diocese of Peoria.

In the letter, Jenky cautions parishioners that Obama and a majority of U.S. senators will not reconsider the mandate that would require employers -- including religious groups -- to provide free birth control coverage in their health care plans. "This assault upon our religious freedom is simply without precedent in the American political and legal system," Jenky wrote.

"Today, Catholic politicians, bureaucrats, and their electoral supporters who callously enable the destruction of innocent human life in the womb also thereby reject Jesus as the Lord," Jenky wrote. "They are objectively guilty of grave sin," he added.

Mass. Man Sentenced to 17 Years for Terror Plot; Northeastern Univ. Grad Planned to Use Drones

A Massachusetts man was sentenced today (November 1, 2012) to 17 years in prison in a plot to fly remote-controlled planes (drones) packed with explosives into the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol, according to the Associated Press website.

Rezwan Ferdaus, 27, of Ashland, pleaded guilty in July to attempting to provide material support to terrorists and attempting to damage and destroy federal buildings with an explosive. As part of the plea agreement between prosecutors and Ferdaus' attorney, both sides agreed to recommend the 17-year sentence.

Ferdaus -- a Muslim-American who grew up in Massachusetts and earned a physics degree from Northeastern University -- delivered a long, soft-spoken statement in which he offered no apology for his actions, but thanked his family and friends for supporting him. He said he has accepted his fate and "can dream of a brighter future."

Ferdaus did not make any direct anti-American statements, but he did refer to "a world filled with injustices." He added, "Who other than God knows best what it takes to make a good human being?"

Greek Editor Is Acquitted in Swiss Bank List Trial; Editor Accused Politicians of Protecting Wealthy

An Athens journalist -- who published the names of more than 2,000 Greeks with Swiss bank accounts -- was acquitted today (November 1, 2012) of breaking data privacy laws, according to the Reuters website.

"The court has ruled that you are innocent," Judge Malia Volika said.

The arrest and speedy trial of the weekly "Hot Doc" magazine editor Costas Vaxevanis had aroused international concern and riveted recession-weary Greeks angry at the privileges of the elite.

In his defense, Vaxevanis accused politicians of hiding the truth and protecting an "untouchable" wealthy elite. He said the trial was politically motivated, calling it "targeted and vengeful."