Monday, December 31, 2012

Subway Pusher Says She Killed Innocent NY Man; Because "I Hate Hindus, Muslims Ever Since 2001"

Erica Menendez -- a 31-year-old woman of the Bronx -- has been arrested in the subway-pushing death of 46-year-old Sunando Sen, an immigrant from India who lived in Queens with roommates, the Inquisitr website reports today (December 31, 2012).

Sen -- described as a quiet and friendly man who was hardworking and had recently launched a new business -- was shoved to his death on the tracks at the 40th Street station in Queens on December 27.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown commented on the charges in the case saying: "The defendant is accused of committing what is every subway commuter's nightmare... Being suddenly and senselessly pushed into the path of an oncoming train."

Brown quoted Menendez as saying: "I pushed a Muslim off the train tracks because I hate Hindus and Muslims ever since 2001 when they put down the twin towers."

NYC Bomb Suspects Had a Terrorist Encyclopedia; Couple Had Explosives, Shotgun, Ammo in Apt.

Police arrested a New York City couple in their apartment on December 29, after authorities investigating a credit card theft found a highly explosive compound, bomb-making manuals, a sawed-off shotgun, and ammunition, the Reuters website reports today (December 31, 2012).

Morgan Gliedman, 27, and Aaron Greene, 31, are being charged with two counts of suspicion of criminal possession of a weapon, for the shotgun, court documents show.

One sheaf of papers found in the apartment had a cover page that read "The Terrorist Encyclopedia," according to court documents.

Police went to the couple's Greenwich Village apartment on December 29 to question Gliedman -- the daughter of a prominent New York doctor -- to investigate a credit card theft. At the apartment, detectives discovered a plastic bottle containing seven grams of Hexamethylene triperoxide (HMTD), court documents show. HMTD is commonly used in homemade bombs.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Rowan Williams Ends Role as Abp. of Canterbury; Is Now Master of Magdalene College at Cambridge

Rowan Williams formally steps down tomorrow (January 31, 2012) as the Archbishop of Canterbury to take up a life in academia, after nearly a decade of leading the world's Anglicans during one of its most turbulent periods, according to the Independent (British) website.

His departure will be marked with none of the fanfare that greeted the Welsh-born cleric when he was first enthroned on the Chair of St. Augustine in Canterbury Cathedral nine years ago.

Tomorrow afternoon, the 62-year-old archbishop will quietly leave his quarters at Lambeth Palace and travel north to Cambridge, where he is due to take up the post of Master at Magdalene College, Cambridge.

Hard as he tried to unite his church's increasingly fractious groups, he leaves the Anglican Communion bitterly divided over the issues of women clergy and homosexuality. His successor, Justin Welby, will be enthroned at Canterbury in March 2013.

Bomb Kills 2 Praying in Orthodox Church in Libya; Viewed as Christians Targeted by Radical Islamists

At least two Egyptians have died and two others have been wounded in a bomb attack on an Egyptian Orthodox Church in Libya, the Global Post website reports today (December 30, 2012).

Home-made dynamite used for fishing was found at the site of the bomb, the BBC reported. The church is in Dafiniyah  and is often frequented by Egyptians.

Egypt's foreign minister denounced the attack and called for an investigation.

Christians in Egypt and Libya -- two predominantly Islamic countries -- have become worried about being targeted by hard-line Islamists in recent months.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Man Is Indicted for Throwing Bleach on NY Rabbi; Was Mad Rabbi Published Abuse by Hasidic Jews

A Hasidic Jew has been indicted on charges he threw bleach into the face of a New York rabbi who publishes claims of child sexual abuse in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, the Christian Broadcast Network website reports today (December 29, 2012).

Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes said that Meilech Schnitzler has been indicted on two counts of attempted assault, two counts of assault, and criminal possession of a weapon.

The top charge carries a potential prison sentence of 15 years.

Prosecutors say Schnitzel threw a cup of bleach in the face and eye of Rabbi Nathan Rosenberg on December 11. The government also says the men knew each other.

Woman Gang Raped in India Has Died in Hospital; Six Men Charged with Murder, Face Execution

Indian police charged six men with murder today (December 29, 2012), adding to accusations that they beat and gang-raped a woman on a New Delhi bus nearly two weeks ago in a case that shocked the country, according to the Washington Post website.

The murder charges were laid after the woman died earlier today in a Singapore hospital, where she had been flown for the latest state-of-art treatment.

New Delhi police spokesman Rajan Bhagat said the six face the death penalty if convicted, in a case that has triggered protests across India for greater protection for women from sexual violence, and raised questions about lax attitudes by police toward sexual crimes.

The tragedy has forced India to confront the reality that sexually assaulted women are often blamed for provoking the crime, forcing them to keep quiet and discouraging them from reporting it to authorities for fear of exposing their families to ridicule.

Friday, December 28, 2012

BBC Slams Athens for Not Having Single Mosque; Athens Is Only EU Capital Without a Muslim Ctr.

Stressing that Athens is the only EU (European Union) capital without a mosque, the BBC has revealed that some 300,000 Muslims living in the Greek capital are sandwiched in basements to pray, the To Vima (Greek) website reports today (December 28, 2012).

"The absence of a mosque here (Athens) is a great tragedy for us Muslims," said Mohammad Jamil Sient, a native of Pakistan now living in Athens. He added, "Greece invented democracy, culture, and respect for each other's religion, but does not respect us Muslims enough to give us a normal, legitimate mosque."

There is resistance from various quarters -- including some priests of the Greek Orthodox Church -- that are opposed to a mosque in Athens. Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus -- the seaport area of Athens -- told the BBC, "Greece suffered five centuries of Islamic tyranny under the Turkish yoke and construction of the mosque would insult witnesses who liberated us."

A BBC correspondent said Seraphim's viewpoint is Islamophobic and discriminates against Muslims.

Woman Pretended to Be Aunt of Newtown Victim; Nouel Alba Arrested, Lied on Facebook for Money

A woman in the Bronx was arrested yesterday and accused of scamming unsuspecting Facebook users out of donations by pretending to be the aunt of a 6-year-old boy who was killed in the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, the Raw Story website reports today (December 28, 2012).

Nouel Alba, 37, had her personal account numbers attached to the scam, which asked Facebook users to contribute to the boy's "funeral fund."

Alba allegedly posted on Facebook claiming to be the aunt of Noah Pozner, whose parents have memorialized by setting up a website in his name. She told federal investigators that the money had been refunded, but a criminal complaint against her says that is not case.

A complaint filed yesterday says she also used her phone and text messages to pose as the boy's aunt. Alba could be jailed for up to five years for making false statements to investigators.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

New Mothers Who Can't Pay Bills Kept in Kenya; NY Group Files Lawsuit to End Hospital Practice

The director of the Pumwani Maternity Hospital -- located in a poor neighborhood of downtown Nairobi in Kenya -- freely acknowledges that he detains mothers who can't pay their bills, the Drudge Report website reports today (December 27, 2012).

Lazarus Omondi says it's the only way he can keep his medical center running. Nonetheless, a New York-based group filed a lawsuit this month in hopes of forcing Pumwani to stop the practice.

Two mothers who live in a mud-wall and tin-roof slum near the maternity hospital said Pumwani wouldn't let them leave after delivering their babies. The bills the mothers owed were $60 and $160.

One of the women said that guards with sticks beat mothers who try to leave the hospital without paying.

Prague Abp. Invites 300 Poor to His Xmas Dinner; Provides Them with Food, Gifts, Clothes at Castle

Prague Archbishop Cardinal Dominik Duka welcomed around 300 homeless, elderly, refugees, disabled, lonely, and those from the margin of society at the Christmas dinner staged by the Sant'Egidio community at his Prague Castle on December 25, the Prague Monitor website reports today (December 27, 2012).

Duka wished all of them to have at least some joy in their hearts despite all of their trouble and cold, and to have the courage to come to terms with the difficulties surrounding them.

"Let God give you the feeling that He is with you and help you find your place," Duka said, blessing all of them and drinking a glass of champagne with them.

All the guests received traditional Czech food as well as Christmas sweets and fruit. Moreover, every guest received a special Christmas gift and some clothing.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

India Gangrape Victim Being Treated in Singapore; Raped, Beaten by Six Men on a Bus, Fights for Life

A 23-year-old medical student -- whose rape by six men on a bus in the Indian capital of New Delhi earlier this month sparked violent protests across the country -- was flown to Singapore today (December 26, 2012) for use of the most up-to-date equipment for her medical treatment, according to the Today Online website.

The major goal is to arrange for an organ transplant for the unidentified woman -- who has been fighting for her life since the hour-long rapes -- which saw her struck by an iron bar, and ended with her and a male companion being thrown off the moving bus.

Large parts of her intestines were removed as a result of the injuries from the attack. Her condition worsened on Christmas day when she suffered a cardiac arrest and was revived by cardiac pulmonary resuscitation, her doctors said.

The government of India -- which has agreed to pay all the expenses of the woman's transportation and  treatment in Singapore -- has made arrangements for her to be shifted in a well-equipped air ambulance to a renowned hospital, so that she can be provided state-of-art medical treatment that may stretch many weeks, according to one of her doctors.

Gunmen Kill 6 in Xmas Eve Service in N. Nigeria; Islamist Group Seeking Sharia Law Is Suspected

Gunmen attacked a church in northern Nigeria during a Christmas Eve service , killing six people -- including the pastor -- and setting the building on fire, the Global Post website reports today (December 26, 2012).

The attack took place in the village of Peri, near Potiskum, the economic capital of Yobe state.

"A group of gunmen came into the village at midnight and went straight to the church... They opened fire on them... They then set fire to the church," said Usman Mansir, a resident of the village.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack, but Boko Haram Islamist militant group is suspected, since it  has attacked a number of churches in the north since 2010 in its campaign to impose Sharia law.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Boston Priest Named Vatican's Sex Crimes Lawyer; Watchdog Group Is Opposed to Rev. Oliver's Apmt.

Pope Benedict XVI has appointed a Boston priest as the Vatican's new sexual crimes prosecutor, the Irish Central website reports today (December 25, 2012).

The Vatican said that Rev. Robert Oliver -- who handled sexual abuse cases in the Roman Catholic Church in Boston at the height of the scandal -- would be "the promoter of justice" at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican's doctrinal office that reviews all abuse cases.

Father Oliver was among the canon lawyers brought in to advise Cardinal Bernard F. Law on sexual abuse cases in Boston in 2002, and was responsible for investigating charges against accused priests when Cardinal Law was forced to resign after it was revealed that he had kept many abusive priests working in parishes.

Anne Barrett Doyle -- co-director of a watchdog group called Bishop Accountability -- said, "Reverend Oliver is a champion of accused priests, which obviously does not bode well for the job he will do as promoter of justice."

Assad's Use of Chemical Weapons Kills 6 in Syria; Use of Them Expected to Result in US Mil. Action

Rebel forces in Syria say that Assad regime forces used chemical weapons in an attack on Homs on December 23, 2012, killing six people and injuring dozens more with poison gas, according to the Times of Israel website.

Qatar-based satellite channel Al Jazeera reported 10 people suffered serious injuries from the chemical attack -- including blindness and paralysis -- and over 50 more suffered other injuries.

Reports in recent weeks have verified that embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad has been preparing to use chemicals as the country's 21-month-old civil war -- which has already claimed over 40,000 lives -- rages on.

After being informed by U.S. intelligence sources earlier this month that Assad was preparing chemical weapons for use against Syrian protesters, U.S. President Barack Obama asserted that if Assad used chemical weapons against Syrian protesters,  the United States would take military action against the Assad regime.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Pope Urges People to Find Room in Lives for God; Says Schedules Do Not Include Any Time for God

Pope Benedict XVI -- leading the world's Roman Catholics into Christmas -- today (December 24, 2012) urged people to find room for God in their fast-paced lives filled with the latest technological gadgets, according to the Reuters website.

The 85-year-old pope -- marking the eighth Christmas season of his pontificate -- celebrated a solemn Christmas Eve mass in St. Peter's Basilica, during which he appealed for a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict and an end to the civil war in Syria.

At the mass for some 10,000 people in the basilica -- and broadcast to millions of others on television -- the pope wove his homily around the theme of God's place in today's modern world.

"The faster we can move, the more efficient our time-saving appliances become, the less time we have. And God? The question of God never seems urgent. Our time is already completely full," the pope said.

Cleric in Bethlehem Celebrates Palestinian State; Eased by UN's Assent of an Ind. State of Palestine

Christians from the world over packed Manger Square in Bethlehem today (December 24, 2012) to celebrate the birth of Jesus in the ancient West Bank town where He was born, according to the Huffington Post website.

For their Palestinian hosts, this holiday season was an especially joyous one, with the hardships of the Israeli occupation that so often clouded previous celebrations eased by the United Nations' recent recognition of an independent state of Palestine.

In his annual pre-Christmas homily, the top Roman Catholic cleric in the Holy Land, Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal, said the road to actual freedom was still long, but this year's festivities were doubly joyful, celebrating "the birth of Christ our Lord and the birth of the state of Palestine."

"The path (to statehood) remains long, and will require a united effort," added Twai -- a Palestinian citizen of Jordan -- at the patriarchate's headquarters in Jerusalem's Old City.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Syrian Govt. Bombs People in Line to Buy Bread; Scores Dead, Including Women, Children in Line

Airstrikes ordered by the Syrian government killed scores of people -- including women and children -- today (December 23, 2012), as they waited in line to buy loaves of bread, according to the Inquisitr website.

The attack on Halfaya in central Syria centered around the same area that was seized last week by Syrian rebels. Today's airstrike is believed to be one of the most deadly strikes since the Syrian civil war broke out 21 months ago.

More than 44,000 people have been killed in the past 21 months. About 100 people are now being killed in Syria each day; more than 180 deaths occurred today.

A bread shortage has sent over 1,000 people into long street lines to wait for food each day.

Egypt's Islam-Backed Const. Gets a "Yes" Majority; Morsi Non-Supporters Bound to Increase Protests

Egypt's Islamist-backed constitution received a "yes" majority in a final round of voting on a referendum that saw a low voter turnout, but the deep divisions it has opened up threaten to fuel continued turmoil in the nation, the Times of Israel website reports today (December 23, 2012).

Passage is a victory for Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, but a costly one. The bruising battle over the past month stripped away hope that the long-awaited constitution would bring a national consensus on the path Egypt will take after shedding its autocratic ruler Hosni Mubarak nearly two years ago.

Instead, Morsi disappointed many non-Islamists  -- even more so than Mubarak -- who once backed the new president, resulting in Morsi becoming more reliant on his core support in the Muslim Brotherhood party and other radical Islamists.

Yesterday's voting in 17 of Egypt's 27 provinces was the second and final round of the referendum. Preliminary results released early today by  Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood showed that 71.4 percent of those who voted yesterday said "yes" after 95.5 percent of the ballots were counted.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Many Jews Blast Anti-Semitic Slur on Mila Kunis; Ukrainian Lawmaker Likened Her to Nazi Victims

Jewish leaders today (December 22, 2012) demanded a Ukrainian politician take back an anti-Semitic slur he used against American actress Mila Kunis, 29,  according to the Big News Network website.

A member of the Ukraine parliament posted a message on his Facebook page this week stating that Kunis -- who is an American Jew of Ukrainian ancestry -- was not truly a Ukrainian, and then referred to her by a derogatory Ukrainian term used by Nazi forces when rounding up victims for death camps during World War II.

The unprovoked attack against Kunis -- who starred in the relatively recent movie "The Black Swan" -- brought a sharp retort from Ukraine's Jewish community.

Kunis -- who emigrated to the United States from Ukraine  at the age of  8 -- was named the "Sexiest Woman Alive" by Esquire magazine in its November 2012 issue, in which she poses naked.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles sent a letter to Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov,  saying Kunis' family fled Ukraine to escape anti-Semitism, and called on Azarov to condemn the statements publicly.

Pope Pardons Butler Imprisoned for "Vatileaks;" Butler Stole Pope's Papers, Leaked Them to Press

In a show of Christian love and forgiveness during the Christmas season, Pope Benedict XVI visited his former butler in prison today (December 22, 2012) and pardoned him for stealing his private papers and secretly releasing them to the press, according to the Guardian website.

Following the 15-minute meeting, Paolo Gabriele, 46, was freed and returned to his Vatican City apartment, where he lives with his wife and three children.

The Vatican said that Gabriele -- who was convicted of aggravated theft and sentenced to 18 months in prison last October -- cannot continue living or working at his apartment, but informed him that it will find him housing and a job elsewhere soon.

Pope Benedict's pardon closes a disgusting scandal for the Vatican -- it has been nicknamed the "Vatileaks" scandal -- as it featured allegations of power struggles, intrigue, corruption, and gay liaisons at the highest levels of the Roman Catholic Church.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Mont. Parents Take "War on Xmas" to a New Level; Say Xmas Carols Are Form of Bullying, Need to Go

A Christian attorney says some Montana parents are taking the "war on Christmas" to a whole new level, the One News Now website reports today (December 21, 2012).

The complaining parents in Missoula -- who refused to be identified -- want Christmas carols replaced with secular songs. They say that traditional carols are a form of "bullying" and need to go.

Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel thinks their claim is ridiculous. "This takes the war on Christmas to a new level. To call Christmas carols "bullying" is just unbelievable," Staver said.

He adds, "We need to make a stand. If we don't, we ultimately will lose our liberties, lose our right to speak, and the only viewpoint will be a secularist, anti-God viewpoint."

Pope Rips Gay Marriage and New Family Concepts; Says Human Dignity Is Denied with Ruined Family

Pope Benedict XVI has weighed in on a heated debate over gay marriage, blasting new concepts of the traditional family and warning that mankind itself is at stake, the Telegraph (British) website reports today (December 21, 2012).

"The question of the family... is the question of what it means to be a man, and what it is necessary to do to be true men," he said today.

The defense of the family, the Pope said, "is about man himself. And it becomes clear that when God is denied, human dignity also disappears."

Earlier this week, the Vatican's official newspaper criticized a plan being discussed in France to legalize both marriage and adoption for gay couples. France is expected to pass the "marriage for all" bill early next year, despite vehement opposition from the right and religious groups.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Bernie Madoff's Brother Gets 10-Year Prison Term; Peter Pleads Guilty, "Deeply Ashamed" of Conduct

Peter Madoff -- a lawyer who committed several crimes to help his older brother Bernard swindle investors out of billions of dollars in a ponzi scheme -- was sentenced today (December 20, 2012) to 10 years in prison, according to the New York Times website.

Bernard Madoff had pleaded guilty in March 2009 and is serving a prison term of 150 years.

Peter Madoff, 67, told the judge today that he was "deeply ashamed" of his conduct and had "tried to atone by pleading guilty."

Last June, Peter Madoff admitted to committing many crimes, including falsifying documents, lying to securities regulators, and filing sham tax returns.

Prosecutors said that if he had done his job honestly as chief compliance officer at Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, regulators would most likely have detected the fraud several years earlier.

Pastor Terry Jones Produces an Islam-Hating Film; It Depicts Muhammad as a Murderer, Child Abuser

Pastor Terry Jones -- the Koran-burning preacher from Florida who hates Islam -- has produced a film called "The Innocent Prophet," a movie he completed in collaboration with an ex-Muslim Pakistani native named Imran Firasat, The Blaze website reports today (December 20, 2012).

The movie -- which stretches 71 minutes in length -- has been released on YouTube. As was the case with Jones' past projects, the film holds the potential to infuriate Islamist groups around the world.

The name and purpose of "The Innocent Prophet" intentionally mirrors that of the ever-infamous "Innocence of Muslims" film, which was blamed for widespread protests and murders in the Middle East earlier this year.

The sentiments of "The Innocent Prophet" are captured in an official description of it on YouTube. It states that the film will help Muslims know the true face of Muhammad, as the creator of the false religion of Islam to achieve his own goals. It adds that, "It's time to clear all doubts and accept that Muhammad was not a prophet but was a mobster, murderer, abuser of children, and a self-proclaimed prophet."

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Pop Star Frankie Valens Is Kansas Church Pastor; Voiced "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," Other Songs

Former pop singer Frankie Valens is now the pastor of First Christian Church in Syracuse, Kansas, the Christian Broadcast Network website reports today (December 19, 2012).

Famous for such songs as "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," "This Magic Moment," and "She Cried," Valens' music career took off in the late 1960s.

Born Frank Piper, he changed his name to Valens after becoming famous.

His father -- Bernie Piper -- pastored the same church in 1978 and 1979. Valens says he relies on the Lord -- and at times, the Internet -- for sermon ideas, and is using his singing talents for the Lord.

Eight-in-Ten in World Identify with a Rel. Group; Study Finds That Christians Lead World with 2.2B

A new study of more than 230 countries and territories -- conducted by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life -- finds that more than eight-in-ten people worldwide identify with a religious group, the Ekklesia website reports today (December 19, 2012).

At the same time, the number of those unaffiliated with religion is on the rise, and now constitutes the third-largest global belief group.

The report estimates that there are 5.8 billion religiously affiliated adults and children around the globe, representing 84 percent of the 2010 population of 6.9 billion.

The study finds that 2.2 billion Christians (32 percent of the world's population), 1.6 billion Muslims (23 percent), 1 billion Hindus (15 percent), nearly 500 million Buddhists (7 percent), and 14 million Jews (0.2 percent) around the world as of 2010.

The study also finds that about one-in-six people around the globe (1.1 billion, or 16 percent) have no religious affiliation.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch Gets Patriarch; Metropolitan John X Elected by Vote of 18 Bishops

Metropolitan John X was elected to lead the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch yesterday, the Greek Reporter website reports today (December 18, 2012).

His predecessor -- Patriarch Ignatius IV (Hazim) -- passed away in a Beirut hospital on December 5, a day after suffering a massive stroke.

Metropolitan John X (al-Yazigi) was chosen as the new head of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch.  The vote took place in the Balamand Monastery (near Tripoli, Lebanon), in which 18 bishops participated.

Yaziji, 57, hails from Syria's Lattakia, and earned a bachelor's degree in theology in 1978 from the Institute of St. John Damascus. He then earned a doctorate degree in theology in 1983 from the University of Thessaloniki in Greece.

Excessive Alcohol Kills Northern Ill. U. Freshman; Police Charge 22 Fraternity Members with Hazing

Nearly two dozen fraternity members at Northern Illinois University were charged yesterday with hazing-related counts, after a freshman was found dead at their fraternity house following a night of drinking, the Associated Press website reports today (December 18, 2012).

Police and prosecutors issued arrest warrants for 22 members of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity in DeKalb, Illinois. Five fraternity members are charged with felony hazing, while the other 17 Greeks are facing misdemeanor hazing charges.

The warrants were filed after David Bogenberger, 19, was found unresponsive at the fraternity house on November 2.

The DeKalb County coroner ruled Bogenberger's death was caused by cardiac arrhythmia, with alcohol intoxication as the major cause.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Hungarian Lawmaker Allowed to Burn Israeli Flag; Protesters Shouted "To Auschwitz with All of You"

A member of the Hungarian Parliament burned an Israeli flag in Budapest this past weekend during an anti-Israel protest outside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Jewish Press website reports today (December 17, 2012).

Lenhardt Balazs -- the lawmaker -- is currently unaffiliated with a party, but he used to be a member of the far-right Jobbik (Movement for a Better Hungary) party.

The Jobbik party opposes any relationship between the Hungarian government and Israel. It holds 47 seats in the Hungarian Parliament.

The anti-Israel demonstration over the weekend -- attended by about 100 people -- had been called to protest Israeli "atrocities" against Arab Palestinians. Anti-Semitic slogans -- including "filthy Jews" and "to Auschwitz with all of you" -- were shouted during the demonstration.

Muslim Cabbie Sues for Right to Wear Rel. Garb; Sues City of St. Louis and Taxi Co. for Harassment

A Muslim taxicab driver is suing the city of St. Louis, the Metropolitan Taxicab Commission, and a private security company, saying he has been harassed and arrested for wearing religious garb, the Religion News website reports today (December 17, 2012).

Raja Awais Naeem -- who works for Harris Cab and manages a shuttle service called A-1 Shuttle-- says his religious beliefs require him to wear modest, loose-fitting clothing and a hat called a kufi.

Naeem -- originally from Pakistan but now a U.S. citizen -- said he has been told he must adhere to the commission's rules requiring a white shirt, black pants, and no kufi.

His lawsuit seeks an injunction to allow religious dress for cabdrivers, and civil damages, including attorney's fees and other costs.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

President Obama Addresses Newtown,CT Citizens; Says He'll Do All in His Power to Prevent Tragedies

President Barack Obama assured the grieving and shocked Newtown, Connecticut community today (December 16, 2012) that "you are not alone" and vowed to wield with "whatever power this office holds" in a quest to prevent future mass shootings, according to the Yahoo News website.

"We can't tolerate this anymore," Obama said from behind a podium on the stage of Newtown High School auditorium. "These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change."

"In the coming weeks, I'll use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens -- from law enforcement, to mental health professionals, to parents, and educators -- in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this," the president said.

There were sobs from the crowd, as the president read the first names of the 20 children killed at nearby Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, and paid tribute to the six adults who died defending them.

At Least 10 Killed in an Airport Attack in Pakistan; Taliban Claims Credit for the Attack in Peshawar

At least 10 people were killed and more than 40 others injured when an airport in Pakistan's northwest city of Peshawar came under attack last night, the Muslim News website reports today (December 16, 2012).

Those killed included five attackers. Pakistan's Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Both Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Ashraf condemned the attack.

The attackers -- who used an explosive-laden vehicle -- rammed the vehicle into the wall surrounding the Bacha Khan Airport in Peshawar.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Kuwait Passes Law to Kill Those Slandering Islam; Parliament Passed Law Due to Increased Cursing

Kuwait's parliament has approved a law issuing the death penalty to Muslims who curse or slander God, the Quran, any of the prophets, and in particular, the Prophet Mohammed and his many wives, The Blaze website reports today (December 15, 2012).

Non-Muslims who engage in these forbidden acts will be sentenced to prison for no less than 10 years.

The National Security Society (NSS) reports that defendants who repent in court may be spared suffering capital punishment, but will still serve five years in prison, incur a fine of $36,000, or both.

Kuwaiti member of parliament Ali al-Deqbasi said, "We need this legislation because incidents of cursing God have increased. We need to deter them."

Jewish Women in Israel Lack Same Rights as Men; Women Can't Wear Prayer Shawl at Western Wall

Israeli security guards at Jerusalem's Western Wall yesterday searched women worshipers arriving at the holiest place where Jews can pray with the Jewish prayer shawl, which -- under Israel's predominantly Orthodox Judaism -- can be worn only by men, the Times of Israel website reports today (December 15, 2012).

Once the shawls were found, dozens of women had to deposit them before proceeding to pray in the section reserved for women. A few women -- who managed to sneak the shawls under their coats and then wrapped them around their shoulders -- were promptly evicted.

Similar scenes have played out nearly a dozen times each year since the group known as "Women of the Wall" was established 25 years ago. Its members have endured arrests, heckling, and legal battles in a struggle to attain the right to pray at the Western Wall like men do.

Laura Geller -- a Reform rabbi at Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills in Los Angeles -- was one of the women forced to leave her prayer shawl behind yesterday. She said, "It's interesting that Israel is one of the few countries in the world where I can't be the Jew that I am."

Friday, December 14, 2012

Judge Rejects Police Captain's Case Against Tulsa; Capt.Was Disciplined, Did Not Go to Mosque Event

A federal judge has ruled against Tulsa, Oklahoma Police Captain Paul Fields and his lawsuit against the City of Tulsa, the Free Republic website reports today (December 14, 2012).

Fields sued the city after he was suspended for 80 hours without pay for refusing to attend -- or to order his officers to attend -- a law enforcement appreciation day event at a mosque.

Fields said that following the order would have violated his religious rights.

The judge said Fields did not have to attend, but had the responsibility to send his officers, so his religious rights were not violated. The judge added that Fields did not have to take part in any religious (Islamic) aspect that might have occurred at the event.

Vandals Paint Smut on Greek Orthodox Monastery; Paint "Jesus, Son of a Whore" on Jerusalem Bldg.

Vandals have spray-painted graffiti that proclaims "Death to Christianity" and "Jesus, Son of a Whore" on a Greek Orthodox monastery in Jerusalem, the Spero Forum website reports today (December 14, 2012).

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced the vandalism, which occurred overnight on December 12.

Micky Rosenfield -- a spokesperson for Israeli police -- said the vandals also sprayed the words "price tag" in Hebrew on the monastery's outer wall. This is taken to mean that the vandalism was done by Jewish extremists as a form of punishment of settlers and sympathizers in Israel whose institutions are seen as being in favor of the Palestinian cause.

This week's vandalism on the Monastery of the Holy Cross is the fifth major attack in Israel against a Christian site this year.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Paris' Notre Dame Cathedral Marks 850th Anniv.; Cathedral Has Over 14 Million Visitors Each Year

Dignitaries, tourists, and Parisians gathered in the thousands yesterday for a ceremony and Mass marking the beginning of a year-long commemoration of Notre Dame Cathedral's 850th anniversary, the Huffington Post website reports today (December 13, 2012).

Archbishop Andre Vingt-Trois and Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe were among the civil and religious dignitaries taking part in last evening's events marking the beginning of the cathedral's construction in 1163.

Speaking outside the cathedral before celebrating Mass, the archbishop said Notre Dame de Paris is "a symbol for Parisians and for people across the world."

Each year, the cathedral sees over 14 million visitors. Five Masses a day are held during the week, and seven on Sunday. The building took nearly 90 years to build.

Woman Busted in Spain for Drug Breast Implants; Hid 3 Pounds of Cocaine in Her Breasts at Airport

Police in Spain arrested a 28-year-old woman arriving at the Barcelona airport yesterday with three pounds of cocaine concealed in her breasts as implants, the CBS News website reports today (December 13, 2012).

Spain's Interior Ministry said that border police noticed blood-stained gauze on the woman's breasts.

The woman -- who arrived from Bogota, Colombia -- said she had recently had breast implant surgery.

Police were suspicious and sent her to a local hospital. The implants were removed from her breasts and found to contain the cocaine.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Five Teens Nabbed for Theft of Va. Nativity Scene; Charged with Larceny, Trespass, Property Damage

Five teenagers are facing charges they stole and then destroyed a nativity scene from a church in Bedford County in Southwestern Virginia, the Drudge Report website reports today (December 12, 2012).

The Bedford County Sheriff's Office said the five were arrested yesterday, after the 12-piece Christmas scene was reported missing over the weekend from Shiloh United Methodist Church in Forest.

The set had an estimated value of $2,500.

The teenagers face charges of grand larceny, trespass, and property damage.

Hasidic Jew Convicted of Sexually Abusing Female; Nechemya Weberman Used Hasidic Role as Shield

The Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) -- the world's largest group of Orthodox rabbis -- is praising the process that led to the conviction of a Hasidic Jewish man on December 10 on sexual abuse charges relating to to a female, and called on all segments of the Jewish community to cooperate with police in such cases, the Religion News website reports today (December 12, 2012).

The RCA is generally dissociated from Hasidic Jewish communities -- fervently religious groups that follow the teachings of particular rabbis in almost all aspects of daily life.

Concentrated in Brooklyn, New York, Hasidic communities -- such as the Satmars, to which the convicted counselor belongs -- have frustrated police with their refusal to work with civil authorities on sexual abuse cases.

In a statement released the day after the conviction of Nechemya Weberman, 54, the 1,000-member RCA said it "decries any invocation of Jewish law or commercial interests as tools in silencing victims or witnesses from reporting abuse." Weberman will be sentenced on January 9, 2013, when he could receive a 25-year prison sentence.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Coptic Group Head Asks Nations to Isolate Egypt; So "Phony Pro-Democracy" Head Morsi Will Quit

The founder of an international group of advocates for the equality and rights of Coptic Orthodox Christians in Egypt is appealing to the leaders of democratic nations to cut any ties they may have with Egypt, the Christian Post website reports today (December 11, 2012).

The Voice of the Copts is attempting to thwart President Mohamed Morsi's regime from implementing a primarily Islamic-based constitution.

"We demand that world leaders withdraw their recognition of Egypt's phony 'pro-democracy' leader, Mr. Morsi, who is backed by the illegal Muslim Brotherhood party," states Dr. Ashraf Ramelah -- president of Voice of the Copts -- in an open letter sent yesterday.

The letter added, "Freeze your political relationships with Egypt, halt all investments and aid to Egypt and force Mr. Morsi's regime to step down. This will facilitate legitimate democratic goals yet to be achieved by Egypt's freedom fighters."

Teacher in France Sacked Over Grisly Assignment; Had Students Write Why They'd Commit Suicide

A teacher in western France was suspended yesterday (December 10, 2012), after he asked a class of 13- and 14-year-olds to view themselves committing suicide as a written school assignment, according to the France 24 website.

The exercise -- assigned at the Antoine Delafont school in Charente -- read as follows:

"You've just turned 18. You've decided to end your life. Your decision is definitive. In a final surge, you decide to put in words the reason behind your decision. In the style of a self-portrait, you describe the disgust you have for yourself. Your text will retrace certain events in your life at the origin of these feelings."

Several angry parents complained to school officials about the teacher's assignment, and the teacher was suspended.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Three Are Hospitalized from Pot-Laced Brownies; Two Students Made Brownies as Prank,Face Prison

Two University of Colorado at Boulder students are facing multiple felony charges, after they fed marijuana-laced brownies to their unsuspecting history class -- leading to the hospitalization of three people -- the Denver Post website reports today (December 10, 2012).

The professor of the course was taken to a hospital by paramedics on December 7, after complaining of dizziness and dropping in and out of consciousness. Two student in the class were also hospitalized after eating the brownies.

Thomas Ricardo Cunningham, 21, and Mary Elizabeth Essa, 19, baked the THC-laced brownies for their history class at the Hellems Arts and Sciences Building on December 7, said Ryan Huff, Colorado University police spokesman.

The charges -- about 16 of them -- against Cunningham and Essa include second-degree assault and inducing consumption of controlled substances by fraudulent means. Both are being held without bail at the Boulder County jail, and may be sentenced to prison.

New Study: Atheists Face Worldwide Persecution; Atheists Can Be Executed in at Least 7 Countries

According to a study released today (December 10, 2012), atheists can be executed in at least seven nations, if their beliefs become known, the Reuters website reports.

The study -- conducted by the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) -- showed that "unbelievers" in Islamic countries face the most severe treatment at the hands of the state and adherents of the official religion.

The report -- titled "Freedom of Thought 2012" -- said "there are laws that deny atheists' right to exist, curtail their freedom of belief and expression, revoke their right to citizenship, restrict their right to marry."

According to the survey of some 60 countries, the seven nations in which a person's atheist beliefs can result in death are: Afghanistan, Iran, Maldives, Mauritania, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Colo. Doctor Taken by Afghan Taliban Is Rescued; Dr. Dilip Joseph Held for 5 Days, Close to Death

An American doctor -- abducted by the Taliban five days ago -- was rescued today (December 9, 2012) in eastern Afghanistan by American troops, according to the Fox News website.

Dr. Dilip Joseph of Colorado Springs, Colorado was returning from a visit to a medical clinic he had been overseeing on December 5 when he was captured, according to his employer, Morning Star Development -- a Colorado-based non-governmental organization.

He was rescued today in an early morning operation, which was ordered when intelligence showed that Joseph was in imminent danger of injury or death.

Joseph has been working for Morning Star for three years and has been serving as a medical adviser, traveling frequently to Afghanistan.

WCC Mourns Death of Greek Orthodox Patriarch; Pat. Ignatius IV Reconciled Religions in Mideast

The World Council of Churches (WCC) has expressed its deepest sorrow at the death of  Patriarch Ignatius IV (Hazim) of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, who died on December 5 in Lebanon at the age of 92, the Ekklesia website reports today (December 9, 2012).

The Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit -- General Secretary of the WCC -- called his passing away the loss of a "great leader who spent his entire life in reorganizing and developing the institutions of his church."

Dr. Tveit added that "Patriarch Ignatius IV has earned the respect of both Christians and Muslims in the Middle East due to his systematic efforts to bring peace and reconciliation in the region."

Ignatius IV was also one of the founding members of the Middle East Council of Churches.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Rel. Org. Wants Consumers to Boycott JC Penney; Due to Penney Using Lesbian DeGeneres in Its Ads

A conservative Christian organization has once again called on consumers to boycott JC Penney, as a result of the retailer's decision to feature talk show host Ellen DeGeneres in their Christmas TV commercial, the Irish Central website reports today (December 8, 2012).

Last February, the group One Million Moms -- which is part of the American Family Association -- objected to the award-winning host being appointed as JC Penney spokesperson because she is a lesbian.

Once again, the organization is calling on their members to boycott the department store after she was featured in their Christmas ad, alongside three Christmas elves.

"Christians must now vote with their wallets. We have contacted JC Penney's several times in the past with our concerns, and they will not listen. They have decided to ignore our complaints, so we will avoid them at all costs," the One Million Moms statement said.

Swedish Artist Uses Holocaust Ashes for Painting; ADL Says Use of Human Remains as Art Offensive

Carl Michael von Hausswolff says he used ashes of Holocaust victims to create a very macabre painting. The Swedish artist maintains that he stole the ashes during a tour of a concentration camp, the Inquisitr website reports today (December 8, 2012).

The thought that human ashes may have been used in such a manner has caused an international uproar and backlash against the artist. Jewish leaders consider the painting an act of desecration.

The Swedish artist claims he stole the ashes of Holocaust victims while visiting the Majdanek concentration camp in 1989. Carl Michael von Hausswolff said that he mixed the ashes of those who were killed at the camp during World War II with water and then used material to paint a series of gray streaks onto the painting.

Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in New York City head Abraham Foxman said this about the painting: "The use of human remains as art is disrespectful and offensive, period, but what makes this so much worse is that Carl Michael von Hausswolff is also doing it at the expense of Hitler's victims."

Friday, December 7, 2012

Michigan Legislators Pass Right-to-Work Laws; Bar Unions from Forcing Workers to Join Them

Michigan state Republican legislators made waves yesterday by passing a series of right-to-work measures, attracting a wave of protests from union members and other opponents of the bills. The statutes would bar unions from requiring employees to become union members, or to pay dues or fees as a condition of employment, the New American website reports today (December 7, 2012).

While unions and their Democratic allies oppose the laws, Michigan Republicans yesterday made a swift move to make theirs the 24th state with right-to-work on the books.

A triumph in Michigan -- normally considered a pro-union state -- would provide the right-to-work movement its most fortified bedrock in the Rust Belt, where unions already have suffered some solid defeats.

"This is all about taking care of the hard-working workers in Michigan, being pro-worker and giving them freedom to make choices," Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said in supporting the bills. "The goal isn't to divide Michigan, it is to bring Michigan together."

FBI Nabs Retired Sailor for Attempted Espionage; Robert Hoffman Tried to Hand Russia Secret Info

The FBI has caught a retired sailor from Virginia Beach, Virginia trying to pass secret information to Russia, the Newser website reports today (December 7, 2012).

Cryptologic technician Robert Hoffman has been charged with attempted espionage after he was tripped up by an undercover operation.

As a member of the Navy, Hoffman got a top-level security clearance; a year after retiring in 2011, agents posing as Russians caught him attempting to transfer submarine tracking information, the FBI says.

The 39-year-old was decorated six times for good conduct while in the Navy. A conviction could mean life in prison.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Jewish Hate Crime Is One of Worst Ever in U.S.; "You Killed Jesus" Scrawled on Miami Menorah

In what can be viewed as one of the most hateful anti-Semitic acts in the United States, a large menorah -- covered in seashells and used to spread the light of Hanukkah at Miami Beach in Florida -- was vandalized on December 2, scrawled with black graffiti stating "You Killed Jesus" on its base,  the Jewish Press website reports today (December 6, 2012).

December 2nd marked the 11th anniversary of the first time the religious symbol was vandalized, with the beach-themed Hanukkah vessel being torn down thrree times in its first year on display.

The menorah -- a sign of peace and joy in the Jewish religion -- is lit annually by Chabad Rabbi Zev Katz. "We're not going to be discouraged, we're going to keep going," Katz said regarding the hateful crime.

The damaged shells have already been replaced, and Miami police are investigating the incident.

West Point Senior Quits Due to Its Overt Religion; Says West Point Disrespects Nonreligious Cadets

An Army cadet -- who is quitting West Point less than six months before graduation -- says he could no longer be part of a culture that promotes prayers and religious activities, and disrespects nonreligious cadets, the Associated Press website reports today (December 6, 2012).

Blake Page announced his decision to quit the U.S. Military Academy this week. The 24-year-old said that a determination this semester -- that he could not become an officer because of clinical depression -- played a role in his public protest against what he calls the unconstitutional prevalence of religion in the military.

"I've been trying since I found that out: What can I do? What can I possibly do to initiate the change that I want to see and so many other people want to see?" Page said. "I realized that this is one way I can make that change happen."

Page criticized a culture where cadets stand silently for prayers, where nonreligious cadets were jokingly called "heathens" by instructors at basic training. In announcing his resignation this week, Page denounced "criminals" in the military who violate the oaths they swore to defend the Constitution.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Cal. Sheriff's Plan to Purchase a Drone Is Halted; Activists Blasted the Plan, Said It Violated Privacy

The Alameda County, California sheriff's office has been forced to suspend the purchase of a surveillance drone, after constitutionalists and activists slammed the agency with concerns that the use of the unmanned aerial vehicle would violate privacy protections, the New American website reports today (December 5, 2012).

Sheriff Gregory Ahern had asked the Alameda County Board of Supervisors to approve a $31,646 grant to purchase a drone. The money was part of a $1.2 million grant handed out by the California Emergency Management Agency.

County supervisors were preparing to vote on the use of grant money for such a purpose, but the public outcry from civil rights attorneys and anti-drone advocates has now forced the sheriff's office to halt the decision.

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attorney Linda Lye stated that the proposal would allow virtual police "spying," adding that Sheriff Ahern was "not taking privacy issues seriously."

Egypt Govt. Pays Thugs to Rape Women Objectors; Also Pays Thugs to Attack Men Protesting in Cairo

Egypt's embattled Muslim Brotherhood regime is paying gangs of thugs to rape women and beat up men who gather in Cairo's Tahrir Square to protest the despotic power grab of President Mohamed Morsi, the Fox News website reports today (December 5, 2012).

In a bitter replay of the Arab Spring protests -- which overthrew President Hosni Mubarak nearly two years ago -- protesters have flooded the Cairo square to denounce Morsi, who has stripped the judiciary of power and is rushing through an Islamist constitution.

Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians have gathered in the square to protest the new constitution and to call for Morsi's ouster. Morsi fled the presidential palace in Cairo yesterday, after the complex was surrounded by tens of thousands of protesters chanting slogans reminiscent of those used during the revolution that ousted Mubarak.

The new constitution faces a December 15 referendum, but opponents and the nation's judges have signaled they won't take part in what they consider a sham process.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Rahm Emanuel Says Netanyahu Betrayed Obama; Sees Israeli PM as Ungrateful of Solid US Support

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu betrayed U.S. President Obama by announcing a new settlement expansion and the cutoff of tax transfers to the Palestinian Authority, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency website reports today  (December 4, 2012).

Emanuel -- who is of Jewish ancestry and was President Obama's chief of staff in the president's first term -- delivered the assessment over the weekend at the Saban Forum, an off-the-record Washington event.

Emanuel's comments were made public by another participant, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, during an open forum and were confirmed by several other participants.

According to an account by New Yorker journalist David Remnick, Emanuel had said that Netanyahu had "repeatedly betrayed" Obama, and that the latest Israeli moves -- apparent retaliations for the successful Palestinian bid to achieve non-observer state status last week at the United Nations -- were especially galling,  given U.S. support for Israel during its recent mini-war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Maria of "Sesame Street" TV Rips Israel on Twitter; Sonia Manzano Calls Israelis "Bullies" on Her Feed

Sonia Manzano -- who plays Maria on the long-running PBS television series "Sesame Street" -- is bashing Israel via her Twitter feed, the Breitbart website reports today (December 4, 2012).

The actress sent out two pro-Palestinian messages relating to the latest unrest in the Middle East, first calling Israelis "bullies" and then comparing the Jewish state to early American settlers who wiped out Native Americans.

Manzano wrote: "Israelis retaliate the simple recognition of Palestinians by UN by deciding to build 3,000 more settlements. Bullies!"

She also wrote on her Twitter feed: "Why do Israelis need to be 'recognized' by Palestinians? Did Native Americans need to 'recognize' their tormentors?"

Monday, December 3, 2012

Judge OKs Nev. Amend. of Man, Woman Marriage; Rules Nev. Had a Right to Define Marriage as It Did

A federal judge has upheld Nevada's constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between one man and one woman, thus providing a victory for social conservatives who have suffered a string of court losses on the issue, the Christian Telegraph website reports today (December 3, 2012).

In his November 26 opinion, Judge Robert Jones ruled that Nevada had a constitutional right to pass the amendment. The lawsuit was brought by Lambda Legal, which advocates for gay issues.

Jones -- nominated by President George W. Bush -- said Supreme Court action in a 1972 case confirmed Nevada's ability to define marriage as it wishes.

Moreover, Jones went further in his ruling, saying Nevada had a legitimate state interest in defining marriage as it did. He added, "The perpetuation of the human race depends upon traditional procreation between men and women."

Univ. of Wisconsin to Grant Atheist Org. $69,000; Is Largest Grant Ever Given a College Atheist Org.

An organization of student nonbelievers is about to receive $69,000 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison -- the largest grant from an institution of higher learning ever awarded to an atheistic student-led organization -- the Religion News website reports today (December 3, 2012).

The grant's size marks a milestone for Atheists, Humanists and Agnostics (AHA) at UW, placing it in an elite group of large, student-run organizations eligible for UW funds, and making it the most well-funded atheist student group in the nation.

"This is unquestionably the most money an SSA group has ever received," said Jesse Galef, director of communications for Secular Student Alliance (SSA) -- an organization of 387 campus-based groups of nontheists, including AHA. "Over half our groups operate on $250 or less."

The grant has passed two approval stages and is awaiting approval from the university's student council, chancellor, and regents. Rejection at this point is rare, said David Gardner, a spokesman for the university's student government association.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Israel Withholds $100M from Palestine's Govt.; A Retaliation By Israel for Palestine's New UN Role

Israel today (December 2, 2012) rejected the United Nations' endorsement of an independent state of Palestine, announcing it would withhold more than $100 million collected for the Palestinian government to pay debts to Israeli companies, according to the News Max World website.

It was the second act of reprisal since the UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly on November 29 to support the Palestinians' statehood initiative. The following day, Israel announced it would start drawing up plans to build thousands of settlement homes, including the first-ever residential developments on a sensitive piece of land near Jerusalem.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel declared the statehood campaign -- led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas -- as "a gross violation of the agreements signed with the state of Israel."

"Accordingly, the government of Israel rejects the UN General Assembly decision," he said. Israel -- backed by the United States -- campaigned against the statehood measure, arguing that only negotiations can deliver a Palestinian state.

Egypt's New Constitution Neglects Human Rights; Ignores Women's Rights, OKs Civilian Mil. Trials

The draft constitution approved by Egypt's Constituent Assembly two days ago poses serious human rights problems, the Ekklesia website reports today (December 2, 2012). Criticism has come from Human Rights Watch, Amnesty, and others over the past 24 hours.

The draft falls well short of protecting human rights and, in particular, ignores the rights of women, restricts freedom of expression in the name of protecting religion, and allows for the military trial of civilians.

"This document, and the manner in which it has been adopted, will come as an enormous disappointment to many of the Egyptians who took to the streets to oust Hosni Mubarak and demand their rights," commented Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

The constitution also fails to provide for the supremacy of international law over national law, raising concerns about Egypt's commitment to human rights treaties to which it is a state party.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

West Point Chapel Has Its 1st Same-Sex Wedding; Army Chaplain Conducts Ceremony of NJ Lesbians

Cadet Chapel -- the landmark Gothic church that is a center for spiritual life at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point -- hosted its first same-sex wedding today (December 1, 2012), according to the Yahoo News website.

Penelope Gnesin and Brenda Sue Fulton -- a West Point graduate -- exchanged vows in the regal church in an afternoon ceremony, attended by about 250 guests and conducted by a senior Army chaplain.

The two have been together for 17 years. They had a civil commitment ceremony that didn't carry any legal force in 1999 and had long hoped to formally tie the knot. The way was cleared last year, when New York state legalized same-sex marriage and President Barack Obama lifted the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy prohibiting openly gay people from serving in the military.

The newly married lesbians both live in New Jersey and would have preferred to have the wedding there, but that state does not allow gay marriage.

Actress Loses Bid to Remove Video from YouTube; Judge Won't Buy Her Claim of Copyright Violation

An actress -- who said she was duped into appearing in an anti-Islam film that stoked violent protests against the United States across the Muslim world -- yesterday lost her second legal bid to force the video off YouTube, the Reuters website reports today (December 1, 2012).

Denying a request by actress Cindy Lee Garcia for a court order requiring the popular online video site to remove the crude 13-minute clip -- which is titled "The Innocence of Muslims" -- a federal judge found she was unlikely to prevail on her claims of copyright infringement.

U.S. District Judge Michael Fitzgerald of Santa Clara, California also canceled a December 3 hearing he had previously set for oral arguments over Garcia's request.

Garcia's lawyer, Cris Armenta, said she planned to appeal the decision.